Actions

Work Header

Crazy is Just A Choice

Chapter Text

Chapter 1

 

“Do You Like Me?”

 

You could ask Red.  Hell, you could ask anyone and they would all tell you, “Faith was the one who was supposed to go loco.”  And I was, right?  I mean stability was never my… strong point.  Add the princess into the mix, and I was lucky to get out of Sunnydale with my sanity, not to mention my life.

 

Being used to “hard knocks” though certainly had its advantages.  A knife in the gut, prison, and the hell that I’d been through (and caused) had hardened me I guess. I learned not to be afraid of things that went bump in the night, but hey, so did Buffy.  The big difference was she still believed that humanity was worth saving, while I… well; let’s just say I had my doubts.

 

There was a time after the crater that was formerly known as Sunnydale, when I thought everything would be okay. Even with all of the loss and all of the pain, we had each other and I was a part it.  If I knew anything about being a slayer though, I knew that things weren’t always what they seemed and peace was an illusion that our type of normalcy didn’t afford. 

 

It started about a month after we got to L.A. We were staying at Angel’s. The original gang, I mean and the few strays picked up along the way – that being me, Kennedy, and Andrew. Angel was gracious and all, letting us shack up in his hotel.

 

“Faith?” He knocked on my door. I was watching Underworld with Andrew and Xander.  We’d just finished discussing the merits of leather cat suits. Andrew figured that they would get “all sweaty” if you were constantly running in them.  Xander and I disagreed.  Of course, that could be because we had the hots for Kate Beckinsale and Andrew couldn’t spell hots, but whatever.

 

“What’s up, broody boy?”

 

Angel looked in the room and noticed the popcorn spilled all over the floor.  He raised an eyebrow at me.  “Look dude, I did not spill that shit.  I refuse on principle to pick it up.”

 

Andrew piped up from behind me. “You know she’s lying. I reached in to grab some and she turned it upside down.”

 

I smirked at Angel and whispered. “Little dude’s hand touched mine. There was an eww factor involved.”

 

He smiled back and shook his head. “Can I talk to you, in private?”

 

I turned to look at Dumb and Dumber. They were completely ignoring us. “Can’t you two lovebirds like push pause or something?”

 

Xander shook his head, “You move, you lose, oh dark one.”

 

I shrugged.  Whatever.  “You two, suck.” I followed Angel into the hallway.  “So, what’s up?”

 

“Buffy,” he stated simply.

 

I sighed.  B had been acting weird for a while now.  At first, she was fine.  Well, looking back, maybe fine is not the best word.  I mean she certainly was “finding the fun.”  But she wasn’t hurting anyone.  And when a couple of glasses of wine turned into a bottle or two a day, we ignored it. Hey, we weren’t perfect, but no one was dealing well.  And out of everyone, Buffy deserved to let loose.

 

A couple of nights earlier, we’d gone out and she’d had her usual seven thousand glasses of whatever it was she drank. I had to literally carry her ass back to the hotel, and when we’d gotten in, well, fun time Buffy really came out.

 


 

“Faith,” she drawled, “do you like me?”

 

“What?”

 

“Do you,” she pointed to me, “like me?” She finished pointing to herself.

 

Loaded questions were never my strong point.  Did I like her?  Jesus, I mean, she was Buffy, right?  Of course I had learned a long time ago to stop voicing those types of thoughts. Still, she passed three sheets about four hours earlier, so it didn’t hurt to humor her.

 

“Of course,” I said, helping her take her shoes off.  “You’re my friend.  I’m glad, we’re finally getting along.” 

 

She fell back on the bed, giggling.  “You know that’s not what I mean.”

 

And I did. However, this was not a conversation I was having with her drunk.  Or ever, for that matter.  I ignored her, and pulled her legs onto the bed.  “Jesus, B. Dead weight, much?”

 

She giggled again.  “You’re funny, Faith,” she said, reaching up to touch my face.  “I like you too, you know.” 

 

She was smiling at me.  I was standing there like some kind of idiot, holding her legs in the air.  Normally, I am the first to have a comeback, but right then I was kinda shocked.  I laid her legs down, and sat down at the end of the bed. 

 

“Have you got anything to say?” She asked.

 

I was hiding my face in my hands.  The thought of looking at her at that moment was about as pleasing as a punch to my gut. Truthfully, I felt like she’d punched me. “No,” I finally said.

 

She sighed quite audibly, “Well, that was anti-climatic.”

 

I turned to look at her.  “I don’t know what to say to you, B.  You’re loaded.”

 

She closed her eyes, “tell me the truth.”

 

I sat there for a moment, before turning away.  Was I supposed to do that?  Did she have a week?  “B… Buffy, I… uh… what do you want me to say?  Do I like you? Ha.  Like is not the word I would use.  Half the time I’ve known you, I’ve wanted to strangle you and the other half… well, do I really need to say that out loud? Cause if I do, you’re officially dumber than you act.”

 

I finally turned to look at her.  And she was asleep. Just like that. Did I pour my heart out to her? No. But still… Did she hear me? I didn’t have a freakin clue.  She avoided me for the next two days. Or more accurately, I avoided her. So, I was a wuss, so what? Movie marathons with Xander and Andrew (and occasionally Kennedy, when she wasn’t screwin Red) weren’t that pathetic.

 


 

 

“What about her, Angel?”

 

“Did you see her last night?”

 

I shook my head at him.  I’d stayed in my room with my aforementioned “buddies.” “No.”

 

“Well, I did.” He sighed again. This dude sure the hell sighed a lot for a dead guy.  “She was crying.”

 

I admit it; he’d piqued my interest. “When?”

 

“About midnight.  She was standing outside of your room, and I saw her. I asked her if she was okay, but she didn’t say anything.  She just walked away.”

 

I’d thought I felt her.  We still had that connection, or whatever you called it. I hadn’t realized she was so close though.  And if I’d have noticed, what would I have done?  Walked out there and put my arms around her? 

 

“And?”  I was getting frustrated.  How the hell was that my fault?

 

“And, have you seen her today?” It was about noon, which wasn’t saying much.  B sometimes didn’t get up till after lunch.

 

“No.”

 

“Well, no one else has either.”

 

I grabbed his shoulders, “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

 

He shrugged my hands off. “She’s gone, Faith. She left.  Her clothes are gone.  And so is the car I gave her.”

 

What?  Wait… what?  This idiot gave her a car. “You gave her a car? Are you stupid? Why the hell would you give her a car?  She couldn’t drive when she wasn’t on a permanent bender.”  As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I cringed.  We may have been the stupidest lot in all of L.A. She’d been an alcohol induced train wreck for weeks now.  I’d ignored it. The Scoobs ignored it. Giles took Dawn to London with him a couple of weeks earlier – also ignoring it.  I fell against the wall.  “Jesus…” I whispered.

 

He leaned next to me.  “We screwed up.”

 

“Yeah,” I took a deep breath. “Majorly.”

 

“I’ve got people looking for her. I don’t know how long she’s been gone. Willow’s been calling around too. We have resources, but it’s like she disappeared.”

 

I looked at him. “People don’t disappear. Especially unstable blondes in what I am assuming was one of the firm’s luxury cars.”

 

He shook his head.  “That was pretty dumb of me.”

 

“Understatement.”

 

Kennedy came around the corner. “Hey guys, sorry to interrupt the brood fest, but Willow needs to see you.”

 

Angel turned to her.  “Did she find anything?”

 

“Yeah, but um… you aren’t going to like it.”

 

“What?” I yelled at her.

 

She threw her arms up.  “Shit.  Calm down. Just come downstairs. She’ll explain.” She put her hand on my arm. “And breathe, Faith.”

 

I hadn’t realized I wasn’t.  Weird.

 

 


 

Willow was in the lobby of the hotel when we all got there.  Angel had filled Xander and Andrew in on the sitch.  Kennedy was holding my arm like I was going to fall down or something.

 

Xander rushed ahead of us, “Where is she, Will?”

 

Willow shook her head sadly.  “Gone.”

 

Wow, thanks for stating the obvious, witch. “What does that mean?” I asked.

 

“I mean gone.  Like fallen of the face of the earth gone.” We stared at her. “I contacted the coven. They couldn’t find her. They said it was like she’d disappeared.”

 

“I am sorry to be all underwhelmed here, but…” Xander motioned with his hand for her to continue.  He sounded as exasperated as I felt.

 

I went to speak, but Red held up her hand to stop me. “They did, however,” she said, giving Xander the evil eye, “find some things out.  First, they think she’s hooked up with a warlock…”

 

I felt like the breath had been knocked out of me. “What?!?”

 

She smiled.  “Oh wait, not hooked up, hooked up.  I mean been in contact.  He’s most likely helping her hide.”

 

Angel forced out his trademark sigh. “Can we find him?”

 

Willow shrugged.  “They’re looking.  I’m looking. People at your creepy law firm are looking.  It would help if we knew how long she’d been gone.”  She looked around the room at us.  We all looked down. “Wow,” she said, “we officially suck. When’s the last time anyone saw her?”

 

“Midnight?” Angel asked.  No one said anything.  “So, midnight, I guess.”

 

“So,” Kennedy said, “We can assume she’s been gone for twelve hours?”

 

Andrew piped in, “We should call Mr. Giles. He can’t kill us if he’s on another continent.” He looked to Xander, “can he?”

 

Before anyone had a chance to respond, Angel’s cell phone rang.  After staring at it for a minute, I assumed because he refused to figure out how to use it, Kennedy grabbed it out of his hand and answered it. “Hello.” She looked at him. “It is…. Where? Okay… are you sure it’s the right one? Okay, thanks.”  She hung up and looked at us.  “They found her car.” She turned to me, “seriously, Faith, you’ve got to breathe.”

 

Angel grabbed the phone back. “Where?”

 

She grabbed it back from him. “Some dealership in San Diego. Look, they’re texting us the address. So we can spend twelve more hours watching you try to figure out how to use your phone, or you can give it to me, so we can go.”

 

Willow turned to Angel, “do you have a big enough car for all of us.”

 

Angel nodded. “You know I can’t go. It’s daytime.”

 

Xander patted him on the shoulder. “Well that sucks. We’ll keep you informed.”

 

Willow turned to head up the stairs. “Grab overnight stuff,” she yelled over her shoulder to us, “we’re leaving in ten.”

 

We looked at each other and moved towards the stairs. Kennedy stopped me at the bottom. “We’ll find her.”

 

I nodded, not trusting my voice. There was no way I was crying in front of her.  And I didn’t want to tell her the feeling that I had.  Or rather, the lack thereof.  Because even when I was in prison, I still “felt” B.  The only time I didn’t was when she’d… when she’d died. 

 

Well that was until now. Because, I didn’t feel her now.  Not at all. I just prayed to whomever was listening that it was because she wanted it that way.  I didn’t think that I could deal with the other.

 

 


 

 

When we got to the dealership, Kennedy spotted the car.

 

“There it is,” she pointed. 

 

It’s safe to say there were audible gasps all around. “Fang gave her a 7 series?” My god, had he really lost his mind? Maybe he was trying to lose his soul again?  Maybe he’d found some clause at Wolfram and Hart that would let him… I shook my head, no need to go there.

 

Willow looked at us. “Is that a nice car?”

 

Xander put his arm around her. “To be so smart… it still amuses me that I know a few things that you don’t.”

 

She shrugged.  “I don’t care about cars.”  They both walked inside, with Andrew trailing behind them.

 

Ken and I walked up to the car. She whistled.  “Nice.”

 

“No shit.  This baby’s a year old.  He gave the worst driver in the state of California this car.”  I patted its hood.  “She probably had no idea what she was driving.”

 

Ken nodded.  “Honestly, the fact that it made it all the way here in one piece is amazing.”

 

Andrew yelled from the door, “Coming?”

 


 

The dealership’s owner was staring at us like we were all mental.  “I can’t give you that kind of information.” He’d answered when Willow asked about the car.

 

“Listen,” Xander said, “that car belonged to a friend of ours.  She’s not in her right state of mind.  We need to know some things.”

 

The dealer held up his hand, “Hey, I bought that car fair and square.”

 

Kennedy growled, “No one gives a shit about the car. We want to know about Buffy.”

 

He shrugged at her. 

 

I had him pinned against the wall before he could even answer her.

 

“Listen dude, these people here,” I motioned with my head, “they’re nice.  Me – not so much. So you can tell us who you bought this car from and where she was going, or you can stay here, with my hand against your throat until you slowly suffocate.  Your choice.”

 

He mumbled something.

 

“What did you say?”

 

Kennedy pulled my hand away, “Umm, he can’t answer you if you’re cutting off his oxygen.”

 

The dude coughed for a minute (oh please, he was fine) and then looked at me… and then quickly looked at Willow instead. “She was here this morning. I get here early. She was here about 6. She said she wanted to sell the car. She said she knew how much it was worth. It was loaded. She asked for seventy-five thousand. I gave her seventy. She gave me the deed and that was that.”

 

“How did she leave?” Xander asked.

 

“She called a cab.”

 

Willow looked hopeful.  “From you phone?”

 

He shook his head.  “No, she must have called it before she came. It was waiting out front for her.”

 

I looked at him again.  “Do you remember anything?  The cab company name?  Anything?”

 

He took a deep breath.  He was still scared of me.  I thought better than to glare at him.  “No, there must be over a dozen cab companies around here. It was yellow.” Jesus, mother of god, I was going to kill this asshole.  “Wait,” he held up his hand. “there was a man.”

 

We all turned around sharply. “A man?” Xander asked.

 

“Yeah.  He was standing by the cab.  Waiting on her.  About six feet tall. Dark hair.  Dressed in a suit,” he thought for a minute. “A nice suit, too. Tailored.”

 

“That’s it?”

 

He frowned, “yeah.  I’m sorry.”

 

I stormed out.

 

The others soon followed.  Willow started the car and we all piled in. “What now?”

 

I was staring at the window.  She patted my arm.  “I don’t know.”

 

Andrew cleared his throat.  “Umm… we call Mr. Giles.”

 

Willow sighed.  “He is right.  I don’t know what else to do.”

 

He was right.  We all knew it.  But holy shit, we were in for a world of trouble.

Chapter Text

Chapter 2

Oh the Irony

Three years later

“Faith,” Dawn yelled up the stairs. Damn, the girl had a set of lungs on her.

“What?” I yelled back. I rubbed my temple and wished away the headache I knew was coming. Since we’d moved to Scotland, slayer healing had flown out the window (at least where headaches were concerned). A castle full of squealing girls won out every time. It was like prison that way. Except for the squealing. And the private baths. That was better at least.

“Giles said everyone needs to get their butts in the meeting room,” she said, barreling up the stairs.

I grabbed her shoulders. “Slow down,” I said. “I doubt he said butts.”

“No, he said something along the lines of ‘Dawn dear, if you would be so kind as to round up everyone in the meeting room, I would much appreciate it. It is of utmost importance.’ I just shortened it to butt.”

“Right,” I nodded. “So, let’s go?”

I turned to follow her. Dawnie had really matured in the last few years. She was a watcher in training. Complete with personal teachers. She’d filled out and had like three inches on me. She could also be annoying as hell. But, I loved her. She was kinda like the kid sister B abandoned and left me to raise, you know?

Everyone was in the meeting room when we got back. Ken looked like she’d just stepped out of the shower… and so did Red. Not gonna go there. Xander and Andrew were sitting on the sofa and Giles was talking to a girl. Blonde hair, about B’s size. A slayer.

I had to admit I was interested. He normally didn’t call a meeting for a slayer. I mean, we’d all meet her and stuff but it wasn’t this official.

Giles cleared his throat. “Everyone, I’d like you to meet Eve.”

Eve turned around and smiled at us. She was young, possibly sixteen? “Hi,” she said, shyly.

Everyone muttered greetings and I raised my eyebrow at him. What was he getting at?

“Eve here has something to tell us. Something that I thought we should all be here to hear.” I studied him for a moment. He looked a little spooked.

Not another demon uprising. Seriously, couldn’t these bastards take a vacation? We’d just stamped out the last one.

He put his hand on her shoulder. “Go ahead, Eve.”

She nodded and stepped away from him. She looked around the room, trying to find a friendly face. She settled on Willow. Good choice, honestly. “I’ve been a part of the academy in Japan,” she stated. We all raised our eyebrows because she was definitely not Japanese. She shook her head like she understood. “No, umm, my father works there. He’s a banker. When I was called, Vi found me.”

Willow smiled at her. “So, why are you here?”

She smiled back shyly. “We’ve moved. I’m transferring.”

Dawn cleared her throat. “It’s nice to meet you. You’ll like it here.” She turned to look at Giles, “but… I don’t understand…”

He interrupted her. “Let her finish.”

Eve spoke again. “I was telling Mr. Giles here about someone I met. He thought I should tell you.”

They should give this girl an award for suspenseful exposition because… damn. I decided I’d bite. “Who’d you meet?”

She looked down at the ground, suddenly very shy. “A woman. A slayer. The first one.”

She stopped talking and looked around the room, watching her words sink in. Dawn shrieked, and Willow and Kennedy gasped. Xander’s mouth was open so wide I could see his tonsils, and I, well I suddenly couldn’t feel my legs.

Kennedy grabbed me and sat me down.

“Are you sure?” Willow whispered.

Eve nodded slowly. “Yeah.”

Kennedy looked at her. “Vi would have told us if she was at the Academy. She knows we’ve been looking for her for three years.”

Eve shook her head. “She wasn’t at the Academy. I met her in Toyko in the airport on the way here.”

“How did you know it was her? I mean did she walk up and say, ‘hey, I’m Buffy, original slayer?’”Xander asked.

“No. She was with someone. Someone I knew. Satsu. She’s a slayer too. She left the academy a couple of years ago. When I saw Satsu, I introduced myself. She looked freaked, like she couldn’t believe it was me. Buffy, she grabbed her arm, trying to pull her away, you know? Satsu said, ‘no Buffy, I know her.’ I guess my reaction was kind of like shock, cause she really started freaking and kind of walked off. Or stormed off.”

My mind was reeling. Who the fuck was Satsu?

“What did Satsu say?” Willow asked.

“That I should forget I saw them. Then she took off after Buffy and I boarded the plane.”

I scoffed. “So, why are you telling us?” She looked at me like she didn’t understand. “Why are you telling us if she told you not to?” I spoke slowly, like I was speaking to a child, which I was I guess.

Red frowned at me. “Calm down, Faith.”

Eve answered though. “Because I had heard the stories…” she trailed off for a moment and then looked at me. “And she… she scared me.”

“What do you mean?” Dawn asked.

“I feel slayers. I guess we all do, you know?” We nodded. “But Buffy, she felt different. Stronger. It was almost,” she looked down at the ground, “it was almost painful.”

Giles cleared his throat. Again. “Well, yes… Andrew if you wouldn’t mind showing Eve around, and getting her set up?”

Andrew stood up. “Sure, follow me.”

We all stood still, watching them leave. When they were gone, we turned to Giles.

“Giles…” Willow started.

He held up his hand, “I know. I know.” He took his glasses off. Obviously they were dirty. I wished he’d have that surgery that corrects your freakin vision. I was so tired of his damn glasses.

“Three years,” Xander muttered. “Three years, we’ve been looking for her. This girl just happens upon her. What’s the chance of that?”

Giles spoke. “I think we can safely assume that if it were not for this Satsu, we would still not know where she was. It’s pure luck the girl knew her.”

“If she’s even still in Toyko. Or Japan. Knowing B, she took off as soon as she was recognized.”

Giles put his glasses back on. “Yes, but… she is with someone. And that is new. Buffy may be cloaking herself. But no one knew she was with this young woman. Chances are, the young woman wasn’t cloacked.”

“She probably will be now,” Kennedy muttered.

“Perhaps. However, I contacted the coven as soon as Eve told me. They’ve got a location spell for Satsu, and more importantly, her cell phone.”

We turned and looked at him.

“Huh?” Dawn said.

“They’ve got her cell number. It’s magically scrambled. Possibly Buffy thought that was enough. She was wrong.”

“Let me get this straight,” I said. “We can track B using this chick’s cell phone?”

Giles nodded, “Precisely.”

We looked around at each other. I was pretty sure we were all thinking the same thing. I was just gonna let someone else voice it.

Giles sighed. “I guess the question we all have to ask ourselves is do we want to find her?”

No one answered. Everyone’s shoes were suddenly very interesting. Willow finally spoke up. “I think we have to. Eve said she could feel her. She said she scared her. That alone doesn’t leave us much of a choice.”

I looked up and saw Dawn crying. I put my arm around her. “It’s gonna be okay,” I told her, totally not believing myself.

She wiped her eyes. “I can’t talk about this right now,” she stormed out.

“Let’s meet back here in a couple of hours. I’m going to call Angel,” Willow said.

Giles nodded, “A good idea. I’m going to get back in contact with the coven and have them go ahead and put the tracking spell on Satsu’s phone. I should have some information soon.”

“So, great,” Xander said, clapping his hands together. He looked at me and Ken. “This is great, right?”

We both stared at him and then walked out.

“I feel ya,” he yelled after us.

 

I was never really that smart when it came to things like irony. But we’d spent the last three years looking for Buffy. About a month ago, we’d called it quits. Given up and decided to move on. It was working better than expected. I think no one was really ready to say it, but we were all tired. When Giles pulled us together that night and said it was enough, you could honestly feel the air in the room lighten somehow.

And now… a month later, no less, someone spots her. Really. Even a girl with a lackluster education could pick up on the irony that is our lives.

The first time we tracked her down; she was in Rio. Xander and I went. Willow magically transported us to what was supposed to be an abandoned building. It wasn’t abandoned. We scared the shit out of the squatters inside. Especially after we magically appeared and vomited all over them.

The coven had gotten what they called a hit, a redhead (I know, right?) who suspiciously fit B’s description. They felt she was in Rio. And she was. Just not when we got there.

We asked around. Apparently she’d been there only a week before. She hadn’t stayed long. The locals weren’t really helpful, when we could actually find someone to translate for us. She’d cleaned out a demon nest. Saved a couple of children and blew out of town before anyone could even thank her.

We started looking for similar scenes. Demon nest, etc. that were being disposed of. The coven never got another hit on her, but we were able to semi-track her. We just always got there too late. Will and Ken went to Africa. Giles and Dawn to Afghanistan. Me and Xander to South America, Canada, Russia. Angel suffered the same fate in the States and several other places too numerous to mention. We were always too late. The locals always said the same thing. She was quiet. She was sad. She stayed to herself. She seemed “off.” But, she’d saved their kids, or their town, or their farm animals (yeah, that one was a bit odd). She had black hair; she had red hair; she had blond hair. Okay, maybe that wasn’t the same. It told us enough though. She was alive and based on her ever-changing hairstyles; she didn’t want to be found.

The last time we’d gotten wind of her was South Korea. Angel had taken that assignment. He reported back, through Red, that it was a bust. That was four months ago. Apparently, in a four-month span she’d moved on to Japan, and picked up another slayer. Picked up, were those the right words? I was starting to wonder who this girl was and why she was B’s sidekick.

I went looking for Dawn. She was in her room. “Can I come in?”

“Yeah.”

She was sitting on the bed. I sat down beside her. “You okay, munchkin?”

She rolled her eyes. “You do know I’m taller than you, right?”

“Only in theory.”

“No. No, in reality. In reality, I’m taller than you.”

I smiled at her. “And younger.”

She smirked. “Yeah, well don’t get ahead of yourself. When you’re old and gray and I’m young and spritely, you’ll still be shorter. And older.”

I laughed at her. “Fair.” I took a deep breath. “So?”

“So,” she said. She was obviously not gonna make this easy on me.

“So, you okay?”

She flopped back dramatically and threw her arm over her eyes. “Yes. No. Maybe. You know, last Monday I went an entire day without thinking about Buffy. It sort of hit me around midnight. Not once had I thought about her or if she was okay or why she left. Nothing.”

I wish I could share the sentiment. I couldn’t though. This wasn’t about my pain though; it was about hers. So I just nodded.

She groaned. “Ugh. I’m just so mad at her. I mean I’ve been worried all this time. We all have, and she’s literally gallivanting around the world. And I’ve got so many questions. I mean, how does she do that, the gallivanting? Who gives her money? Is she crazy? Does she miss us? Does she miss me?”

I patted her leg. “I’m sure she does.”

“Right. Because she left me. She left all of us. Giles, Willow, Xander… you. You’re doing her job.” She seemed to catch herself. “Not that you couldn’t. I just… Buffy was all about the power. She never would’ve allowed you to take it. And you stepped up. And she stepped out.”

“We do what we have to.”

She sat up and smiled at me. “I love you, Faith.”

“I love you too, squirt.”

She shook her head. “No seriously. I do. You took her place with me too. You didn’t have to. I mean… I had Willow and Xander. Giles. But you’ve been like my… my Buffy.” She sighed. “So, thank you.”

Seriously, I did love the kid. It was never really a question of what I had to do. I just did it.

I hopped up. “So, enough of this heavy talk. Let’s go grab something to eat and then go find out where your sister is.”

She got up behind me. “My other sister. My emotionally unstable, disappearing act, multi-hair colored, other sister.”

After eating, we met up with the rest of them in Will’s office. Giles walked in as soon as Willow got off the phone with Angel. We all turned to him expectantly.

“Well, yes…” he said, “they’ve found them.”

“Whoa,” Willow said. “That was quick.”

He nodded. “They’re in London.” Of course they were. Irony, you are our friend.

“So what do we do?” Dawn asked.

Giles sat on Willow’s desk. And off came the glasses. “I’ve asked them to fuel the jet. Can you be ready to leave in thirty minutes?”

“All of us?” Ken asked.

He nodded. “Frankly, I don’t know what we’re dealing with. I’m not sure what her powers are or what frightened Eve so. We could be dealing with something completely different.”

I cleared my throat. “Who’s to say she’ll still be there when we get there? She’s notorious for cutting out before we show up.”

“She’s in England. We’ve got people watching her,” I started to ask about the slayer connection but he stopped me. “Not slayers. Others. She can’t feel them. She’s still there. She’s staying in a house not far from the city. So I suggest you all get packed because we leave in thirty. I’m leaving Andrew here. If there is any trouble, Willow can magic those of us back that are needed.”

 

I had to admit flying was a hell of a lot easier than transporting. Since we knew she wasn’t gone, and the drain of getting us all to England was a strain on Red, this was easier. Plus, the jet had Xbox. What? We get bored easily.

There was an SUV waiting for us at the airport. Giles said the house was about thirty miles away. Well, he said kilometers and my math is bad… so I just guesstimated. The coven had put a low level spell on the house so that she wouldn’t feel us drive up. They also assured Giles she was still there.

The drive didn’t take long enough. Truthfully, no one wanted to get out of that car. We sort of sat there for a few minutes.

Giles broke the silence. “Well yes, so we should get going, no?”

We nodded grudgingly and stepped out of the car. We walked up to the house together. Looking back, six people standing in a huddle on someone’s doorstep was probably kind of funny. But funny was the last thing from my mind the moment Giles rang the bell.

There was scuffling inside and a dog barking. I’m not kidding – a fucking dog. Seriously? A woman about my size answered the door. She was lithe and young, and most definitely Japanese. “Yes? Can I help you?”

Her face betrayed her though. She knew exactly who we were.

Red stepped to the front of the group. “Buffy,” she yelled into the house, “if you even try going out that back door, I will slam you so hard back into this house; you’ll wake up next Thursday.” She stepped back and smiled. “I’m Willow, Buffy’s best friend. It would be in your best interest to let us in,” she said as sweet and unassuming as if she were selling cookies.

“Let them in.”

Satsu sighed dramatically, and stepped to the side to let us in. And there, standing in the hallway, in all her crazy ass glory, was Buffy fuckin Summers.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3
Headache: 1 to Comatose

 

No one could say I hadn’t been around the block. I had been in a lot of screwed up situations, some of which I would do well to just forget. But seeing B standing there, dark hair and all (yeah, so it was a black month, I guessed) sort of knocked the wind out of me. All of us really.

“Buffy?” Dawn whispered.

Buffy nodded at her and sighed. Seriously, she just sighed. She was staring past us, like there was something interesting standing behind us.

And there was… that Satsu bitch. Buffy shook her head slowly and I spun around.

“Don’t even think about it.” I said, shoving the girl against the wall. “I get you’re a slayer, but I can knock you out cold before you even get a hit in.”

“Faith!” B screamed. “Let her go!”

This girl was looking at me with something close to hate in her eyes. Trust me, I knew my stares. And, I’d seen that on a lot of faces.

She smirked at me, “You probably want to do as she says.”

I felt Buffy move before she was behind me. She grabbed my arm and Satsu grabbed the other one… And then they were thrown against the wall like… well, something a hell of a lot stronger than a slayer.

“We are going to play nice or I’m going to bind all three of your powers,” Red looked at me. “Stay calm,” she whispered.

“Still strong as ever,” B muttered at the witch, getting up and giving Satsu a hand in the process.

Willow frowned. “Stronger.”

B sighed. “So did you guys come here just to beat us up?”

Xander cleared his throat. He’d been holding Dawnie’s hand, and I noticed she was crying. I got up and put my arm around her.

Buffy rolled her eyes. “Wow, Faith. Seems like you single-white -femaled me after all.”

I started to speak, but Dawn held me back.

“It’s good to see you too, Buffster.” Xander started. “Here we’ve been looking… All. Over. The. World. For. You. And lookie here, you were in England. With a dog. And a girlfriend.” Girlfriend, what was he talking about? I looked at B. The girl had her arm around B’s waist. Oh, wow. So yeah…

Buffy ignored him. She was staring at me. I could feel her eyes on me. I just refused to meet them.

Giles cleared his throat. “Well this is going, swimmingly, huh?”

She stepped away from her toy and walked towards us. Her shoulders slumped a little and I could tell she wasn’t a threat. But I could also feel her. Eve was right… there was something else. I glanced at Ken, a question in my eyes. She nodded slightly back at me. Red did the same.

She moved passed us and into a sitting room. Her girlfriend hot on her heels. We looked at each other and shrugged, following her.

She sat down on the couch and put her head in her hands.

“Please, have a seat,” the other one gestured.

Buffy hadn’t looked up. Hadn’t spoken to Dawn. She just sat there. Her shoulders were shaking and for a moment I thought she was crying but she wasn’t. She was laughing.

I jumped up. Was she fucking serious? “What’s so funny, princess?”

It wasn’t a funny laugh. It was, I don’t know… a crazy one.

“The girl,” she said, suddenly stopping.

“Huh?”

“The girl, the slayer,” she motioned with her hand at Satsu.

“Eve.”

“Right, Eve, she told you, didn’t she?” No one said anything. “So how did you track us?”

“I don’t think that’s important,” Giles said. “And even if it was, none of us are daft enough to tell you.”

Dawn had been uncharacteristically quiet. She was stuck against my side. I suddenly realized how stupid we were to bring her. What the hell were we thinking? That B was going to pull her into a giant hug and tell her how much she’d missed her?

“How long have you had this house?” Willow asked.

“Four months.” Slutsu answered. Uh, no one was asking you.

Dawn rolled her eyes. “How messed up is this? We’ve looked all over this planet for you and when we finally stop we find out you’re living here. Seriously. How many times did I throw up looking for you?”

“I didn’t ask you to.” Buffy whispered.

“Oh, well then never mind. What a mistake. We should go. I mea, we aren’t your family or anything. How stupid of us,” Dawn scoffed.

Buffy finally looked up. She made eye contact with me first. I looked away. She turned to Dawn. “I’m not going to say I’m sorry. Because I’m not. I did…” She suddenly grabbed at her head. We leaned forward, like maybe she was whispering or something but then her body jerked. It was slight at first… and then it wasn’t. It was so fast, like there was an earthquake and she was the only one feeling it. She was literally convulsing. We all jumped up. Her eyes had rolled backwards.

Satsu threw us back. “No, don’t touch her!” She screamed, blocking her way.

“What’s wrong with her?” Willow yelled.

“Seizure,” the girl said simply. “You touch her, she’ll break your hand. Or worse.” She bent down to check on her, and B threw her across the room. “See?” She said simply.

Well, fuck that. She was going to break her neck. I moved towards her.

“Faith, don’t.” Kennedy grabbed my arm.

“Get the hell off, K.” I said, shrugging her away.

I bent down and put my hands around her arms, holding her down. She was still shaking but at least she wasn’t flopping around.

I heard the whore whisper. “She doesn’t let anyone touch her when she’s like that.” She sounded surprised.

Xander scoffed. “Faith’s not just anyone.”

She had shaken herself half off the couch. I picked her up and laid her back down. She was no longer jerking but she was gone. Like… gone. Her eyes were blank. There were no other words to describe it.

I sat down next to her, still holding her. She was looking through me. Tears were running down her cheeks.

“Seriously, you’ll want to move,” Satsu said. She was still whispering. “I can’t believe she’s letting you…”

“Shut up, child,” Giles turned to her. “How long has this been happening?”

Satsu shrugged. “The whole time, I think.” She frowned. “The last time I touched her when she was like that,” she motioned with her head at B, “she put me in the hospital.”

She was pretty calm at the moment, so I ran my hands down her arm really slowly. To be honest, I was afraid of letting her go. Me and hospitals – didn’t mix.

She started shaking her head a bit and then her eyes went wild. I started to tighten my grip on her, but she blinked. “Faith?” She whispered my name so quietly; I had to bend closer to her to hear her. My mind was screaming at me – hello, hospital! But I couldn’t help it.

“Yeah, B. Just me.”

And then she began sobbing. Not crying like she was embarrassed or in pain. Sobbing. Like someone had died. Like everyone had died. I let go of her arms because there was nothing else I could think to do. She sat up and threw herself at me. I was about to throw her ass across the room when she wrapped her arms around me and just sort of fell against my shoulder. “Please make it stop,” she whispered in my ear, between gulps.

And just like that, every single wall I’d built up for the last eight years crumbled like dust. Yes… I am that much of a sucker.

“Okay,” I whispered back. I ran my hand up and down her back. She leaned in further, still crying. “How?”

She sobbed louder, “I don’t know.”

I looked around the room as I pulled her closer. The rest of the gang was staring at us like B was losing it and I was holding her. Okay, so there wasn’t a metaphor for what they were seeing.

B’s little plaything was leaning against the wall. “Damn,” she whispered. “How perfect.” She stood up and walked out. “I’ll be upstairs when this,” she gestured around, “whatever this is… is over.”

The feeling I had holding her was different. I could tell what the little slayer was talking about earlier. B was different. Warm. But it wasn’t scary and it damn sure wasn’t painful.

I looked at Ken, “do you feel that?”

She nodded. “Yeah it’s…”

“Warm.”

“Sharp.”

“What?”

“What?”

“Does it hurt you?” I asked her.

She nodded. “A bit. It doesn’t you?”

I shook my head. “Not at all.”

Buffy stopped crying, and I moved away from her. “No,” she screamed, pulling me back closer.

“Okay, okay.” I said. I raised my eyebrow at Red. Hello, crazy?

“My head,” she was still whispering but it was so quiet in the room that everyone could hear her. “It doesn’t hurt with you. It always hurts. It’s hurt for three years. Please don’t make me move right now.” I sat back and she buried her head into my neck and curled into my side. I put my arm around her and she relaxed a bit.

“It’s fine. You’re okay,” I told her, still not breaking eye contact with Red.

Uh, what the hell?

“Interesting,” Giles muttered. He bent down and put his hand on Buffy’s back. “How bad are these headaches, Buffy?”

“The seizures make them worse,” she muttered against my neck. “I can’t see when I have them. They last for a few hours and then it’s just a dull ache.”

“You have them constantly?” Xander asked.

She nodded against my neck. “Yes.”

Giles stood up, “My lord, Buffy. We could have done something about this. You didn’t have to run.”

She sighed. Gotta say the breathing against my neck was making me lose focus. “They’re getting worse. The alcohol numbed them at first. Then the drugs. Nothing works now. I’ve looked for an answer – magic and otherwise. No tumors, no blood vessels, no spell. Nothing.”

“Except Faith, apparently,” Kennedy stated.

I glared at her and she shrugged. Of course, I couldn’t get up and kick her ass and she knew it.

B acted like she didn’t hear her, or she actually really didn’t. She kept talking nonetheless. “Most days it’s like a pulsing in my head. It’s there but I can ignore it if I stay busy, move around, concentrate on anything else. But the seizures – they cause the blinding ones. I was having them once a month. Then once a week. Now it’s every few days. I had one yesterday.” She had started crying again. She let her arm fall in my lap and I touched her wrist. She jerked it away, but not before I saw the scars. “Please don’t.”

“How many times did you try?” I whispered in her hair.

“Please,” she sobbed.

“It’s okay, Buffy,” Dawn said. She sat down next to her.

When she felt Dawnie’s hand, she started sobbing harder. “Twelve times. I had a seizure every time. Woke up with my arms healed or the pills thrown back up. I thought about other ways, but I was too scared.”

Dawn laid her head against B’s back. Red was crying.

“What are we gonna do now?” Xander asked.

Giles looked at me, “Can you carry her, Faith?”

“Uh, of course I can. Hello, slayer.”

“Right, right.” He mumbled, obviously thinking. He turned to Kennedy. “Can you stay here, get her stuff together, and Satsu, and bring them back?”

Kennedy nodded.

“The rest of us can fly back. I cannot deal with this here. Willow and I both need to start researching and contacting. Willow can transport the two of you back when you’re ready. Pack the stuff and have it overnighted.”

Kennedy saluted him. “Can do, chief.” She turned to Red, “you up to it?”

Willow shrugged. “It’s not a problem. I just want to get Buff to the castle. Warn Satsu about the vomiting,” she thought a minute. “You know what? Don’t.”

Ha. Red has a mean streak sometimes.

Buffy’s breathing had evened and she was sleeping against my side. I moved to scoop her up and down walked the girlfriend.

“Is. She. Sleeping?” She was standing on the stairs, staring at us.

I nodded. At this point, I had no desire to make eye contact with her.

“She can’t sleep…” she sat down on the stairs. “After a seizure, she doesn’t sleep.” She was crying. I wish I gave a shit.

Giles moved over to her. “We’re taking her back with us. And we are very sorry for this intrusion.” Uh, speak for yourself, Giles. He put his hand on her shoulder. “We’d like for you to come with us. Kennedy is going to stay here with you and help you pack your things. We’ll transport you back after. It may make you a bit ill, but it will be much faster.”

Seriously, G? I shifted Buffy in my arms and stood. She didn’t weigh shit, and when she was sleeping it wasn’t that hard to lift her.

“Uh okay, I guess,” Satsu muttered looking from me to Giles. “I don’t feel like I have a choice.”

He nodded. “You don’t. We need answers and you probably can give us a few. However, I don’t feel you’ve done anything wrong here. We therefore, don’t want you to feel unwelcome.”

And again... speak for yourself, dude.

She smirked, looking at me. “Yeah right,” she said, standing up.

Carrying B out the door was one thing. Getting her in the car was entirely something else. I was afraid to let her go, afraid she’d wake up. So we settled for opening the back of the SUV and me sort of shimming inside with her still in my arms.

Kennedy was laughing from the driveway. “I wish I had a camera.”

I stuck up my middle finger and closed the hatch.

“You okay back there?” Xander asked.

I nodded. I tried sitting with her next to me, but apparently Giles was dead set on hitting every single pothole on the road, so I finally just picked her up and put her in my lap.

I wish I could tell you what I was thinking at the time. But, I really can’t. Having someone literally attached to you kind of makes you lose focus. I just remember thinking ‘be still, Faith’ because I was so terrified she was going to wake up. There was no “cognitive-thought Faith.” She would have been thinking, ‘ you are an idiot. Open this hatch, and throw her selfish ass out.’ However, “Me love B, Cave-girl Faith” took over some time after she started crying. In case anyone ever wondered, I never said I wasn’t weak.

“What are we going to do?” Willow whispered. “Faith can’t hold Buffy forever.”

Uh yeah, no shit there, Red.

I waited for Giles to have some glorious answer, but all he said was, “she may have to for a while.” I grunted in the back. Hello, I can still hear back here. “I just meant until she gets over the spell. We’ll have to find some way to deal with the less strenuous headaches.”

We should have asked Satswhore, how long these spells lasted. My legs were going numb.

The plane ride wasn’t as bad. We had a bed in the back so I was at least able to stretch my legs and lay her beside me. Of course, I had to pee. And it sucks, having to pee and you can’t. I was starting to go mental, when B finally woke up.

“Where are we?” she whispered against my neck.

“On the plane?” I don’t know why I asked her. It wasn’t like I didn’t know. All I kept thinking was ‘mind over bladder’ at that point.

“What?!?” She jerked back and then grabbed her head, “Ow…” she leaned back into me. “Where are you taking me?”

“To our umm… castle?”

She just nodded against me, like someone told her they had a castle every day of her life. Okay seriously, I had to go to the bathroom. “Uh B?”

“Hmm,” she mumbled.

“I have to pee,” I took a deep breath. “And I am willing to take you with me, but you are gonna have to try to walk and when we get in there you gotta close your eyes.” I thought for a moment, “and if you tell Kennedy or Xander, I will have to kill you. Nothing personal.”

She just nodded and I carried her to the door. I sat her down and… I’ll spare you the details. Needless to say, she did keep her eyes closed. But, top ten things I never want to do again. Well, one is get stabbed, and two and three are definitely as traumatizing, but peeing with B hanging around my neck…gotta be number four.

I was carrying her out of the bathroom when I got an idea. “Hey, you think you can climb on my back when we get off?” I wonder how long these spells lasted? Maybe I could get one of those papooses those hipster moms wear. B wasn’t much bigger than a toddler anyway.

She nodded, sleepily. “If I can sleep right now?”

I walked back into the cabin with the rest of the guys. “Sound good.” I whispered, putting her in my lap.

“Did you just come out of the bathroom, Faith?” Dawn asked.

“No!”

Xander spun around, “You did! You’ve got a bladder like a duck. I know you.”

“Shut up,” I mumbled. “If she weren’t in my lap, I’d open that door and throw your dumb ass off this plane.”

“Children,” Giles murmured, not looking up from what he was reading.

“Oh my god, you did. I can’t wait to tell Andrew.”

“Whatever,” I groaned.

I could hear Buffy laughing softly against my neck. I tried not to smile. I just humiliated myself in front of super dork and I didn’t care because she was f-ing laughing. I chose to glare at him until we landed. He could have danced around me and smacked me and there was nothing I could do with the princess in my lap though. I’d beat his ass when I put her down however, so I guess he was smarter than he looked.

 

B slept all the way to the castle. I decided piggy backing her was not good because the woman could barely keep her eyes opened. So I carried her. Off the plane. Into the car. Out of the car. Into the castle… where we were met with a shrieking Andrew.

“Oh my god, did you kill her?” He screamed.

What? “What? No… you moron, she’s asleep.”

“Oh well never mind then. She’s asleep.” He rolled his eyes at me. “Makes perfect sense.” He looked around my shoulder at Xander, “don’t you think someone could call me and tell me?”

Xander shrugged and patted him on the back. “It’s an extremely long story that ends with Faith in an incredibly embarrassing position…” he trailed off.

Ugh. Xander. “I will kill you, dude. Seriously.”

Xander turned around and smirked at me as he followed Andrew out of the room. “You have some baggage right now. I don’t think you could catch me if I were crawling. Even with my lack of peripheral vision hindering me.”

“Why don’t we try?”

“Later, Faith,” he said. “I’ve got to go help Andrew talk to the girls.”

Apparently Giles had called ahead and told Andrew that besides those girls on watch, keep the rest out of the hall. Was a good idea, probably, I just didn’t know why he didn’t tell him about B. Except he was possibly avoiding that obnoxious girly scream I got when I opened the door.

I turned to look at Will. “Talked to Ken?”

She nodded. “Yeah, jut got off the phone. She said there was a lot of stuff to pack. I told her we’d send the plane if she’d rather, and she said that was fine.”

“How is she getting along with her?” Dawn whispered.

Willow shrugged. “She said she was quiet. I’m going to start putting out some feelers and doing a little research. You feel up to helping me?”

Dawn looked at us. “Go ahead,” I said. “She’s still out. I’ll just take her up to my room and call down when she wakes.” I started walking and then stopped, “Oh yeah, Will, do you think the other slayers can feel her? I mean she doesn’t feel pleasant to them, Ken said.”

She nodded, “Ken said Satsu told her it got worse the closer you were too her. So I magicked your room. You’re good to go. No feelings getting in or out.”

I smiled. “Thanks. Hey, I thought you said she didn’t talk?”

“Well, besides that. Kennedy said she grunts, grumbles, and basically just ‘acts like Faith.’”

My hit list was getting long.

Really, by the time I had gotten B up the stairs I was sort of winded. I’d been carrying her for a few hours now. And even carrying around a lightweight gets taxing.

Luckily when I walked inside the room, B woke up. “Mmm,” she said, rubbing her eyes, “this your room?”

“Yeah. How’s the head?”

“We are back down to a 4 so it’s manageable.”

“On a scale of?”

“One to comatose,” I must have looked at her funny cause she smiled. “I know it’s not official. I don’t care. There is headache daily and headache seizure. Headache daily goes from 1 to 10. Headache seizure goes from 1 to comatose. Blindness, vomiting, screaming pain – all part of that scale.” She sort of trailed off at the end like it made more sense in her head or something.

“So what’s a 4 on the comatose scale?”

She looked at me like I hadn’t been listening. “Uh, it’s a 4.”

“But you just said… you know what, never mind. I’ll let you explain it when I am not carrying you around like a newborn.”

She laughed. “We’ve been talking since we got in here. You could have already put me down.”

“I was worried about the touching and stuff.”

She nodded as I sat her down. She didn’t let go of my arm though as she walked over to the bed. “I know I am asking a lot, but when I am not touching you – headache 4. When I am…”

“Headache 1?”

“Headache zero. I don’t have one.” She sighed and ran her other hand through her hair. “I shouldn’t ask. But it’s just; I haven’t slept in so long. Just being near you and feeling your hand in mine makes it go away.” She was whispering softly.

“Look B, if I can keep you from being in pain, I’m obviously gonna do it.”

“Even though you hate me.”

“Even though I hate you.”

“Hey!” She said, “that was low,” she commented.

“Yeah, you’re right. Even though I sometimes want to throw you out the window. Better?”

She smiled at me. “Do you hate Xander?”

“No.”

“But you want to throw him out of things. Like the airplane?”

“Oh hell yeah, daily.”

She nodded, “good enough.”

“Do you want to lie down?” I asked her.

“Are you tired? I mean maybe after I go to sleep you could leave, if you wanted, and you know, I wouldn’t wake up or anything.”

“I just literally carried your ass across this country. So yeah, kind of tired.”

She let out the breath she was holding. “Okay. Good. That’s good then. Let’s get in bed.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 4
Call the Fucking Coven

Sleeping with B was easy. Possibly because I didn’t remember it, but she fell asleep soon after she lay down. I just sat on the bed beside her, holding her hand (which seemed to be enough really). Eight hours later, I woke up to her curled against my chest with my arm around.

Okay, that wasn’t what woke me. It was, instead, Ken whistling like a construction worker.

“Damn. I keep forgetting to bring a camera.”

“Bite me.”

She smirked at me from the doorway. I looked down at Buffy. She was still asleep. I didn’t want to move, but lying there with her was a lot more uncomfortable than it sounded. Especially with K standing in the doorway looking like she was at a freakin carnival.

“I’d rather not,” she snorted. “You’re possibly gonna want to move before Satsu gets in here.”

“Why?” What the hell did I care if she saw us?

“Umm because you’re snuggling with her girlfriend like a fuzzy teddy bear.”

B took this moment to wake up. She grumbled a little bit before sitting up. She slowly let go of my hand.

“How’s the head?” I asked her.

“Better. Just an ache. I think you can go… you know, do other stuff without me jumping into your arms now.” She whispered shyly.

“Oh please, please run and jump into her arms randomly. Seriously, Andrew does it all the time.” I shot her a glare. She cleared her throat. “So, as much fun as this is and all, Giles want to see you two downstairs.”

Buffy jerked away from me. Whatever. I had to pee anyway. “Is Satsu here?”

Kennedy nodded slowly. “Yeah. She’s downstairs.”

Buffy looked worried. “Is she okay?”

I scoffed. “Don’t worry, B. No one hurt your girlie.” Hmm, maybe? “Did they?” I looked to Ken for confirmation.

“Nope. She’s fine. In one piece. In all of her broody goodness. You really know how to pick ‘em. She’s said about twenty words to me. And about half that to the rest of them.”

Buffy sighed. “She’s shy. And probably still shocked.”

I hopped up off the bed. “So, go see her,” if you’re so fuckin worried, I thought, but was smart enough not to say. “Tell, G I’ll be down in thirty,” I said, looking to Ken. “I need a shower. And just… other shit,” I mumbled walking off.

“He said, everybody.” Kennedy said behind me.

“Don’t care.” I mumbled, ignoring her. B was holding her hand to hear head and I could tell it was bothering her. I decided not to give a shit and take a shower. What was I, her freakin lapdog?

Honestly, thirty minutes really meant an hour and a half. You’d think the rest of them would get my time frame memorized. I always said thirty minutes. I always meant an hour and a half. If I said an hour and a half, they would freak out and go all “you’ve got to be responsible” and shit. Still, they knew I wasn’t going to take just a half an hour to do anything. Dumbasses.

“So nice of you to join us, Faith.” Giles stated as soon as I walked in.

I nodded. Not biting, G-man.

Everyone was in there but B and her girlie. I raised my eyebrow at Red.

“Oh, Buffy went to take a shower. I think Satsu is kind of scared of us. Some of the girls offered to show her around. We thought it was a good idea.”

“She could’ve been hiding behind the bathroom door waiting to stab me.”

Xander shrugged. “Should’ve been on time then.”

“Whatever,” I grunted and sat down.

Andrew was flitting around the room passing out muffins.

“Hungry, dark slayer?” He asked, holding the tray in front of me.

“Nah.”

He jumped back like I’d stabbed him. I heard five gasps like I’d just announced I was pregnant with Andy’s love child.

“What?”

“Seriously?”

“Do you think it’s really her?”

“Hahaha. You guys are funny.” I deadpanned. What? So I wasn’t hungry. I had way too much on my mind at the moment.

Ken got up and put her hand on my forehead. She turned to the rest of them. "She feels fine."

I rolled my eyes at her.

"As fascinating as Faith’s lack of appetite is, I think we'd do better to fill her in on what we've found." Giles said.

"So Faith," Xander said, "we've basically found jack."

I nodded. "Glad I rushed down." I noticed Dawn was missing. "Where's D?"

"Upstairs with Buffy," Red said. "She was very quiet when she came down. So we thought it best if someone went with her."

I smirked. "Afraid she was gonna run?"

"Pretty much."

I figured that’s why they’d separated B and her girl. Divide and conquer. I’m sure Satsu would be more than glad to hightail it out of here, B in tow.

“So, really. Nothing?” I asked, looking around.

Giles cleared his throat. “We’ve done quite a bit of research. Though there is some reference to a magical disease, as it were, affecting slayers, we can’t find its origin.”

Red nodded. “Sketchy at best. Buffy’s symptoms seem specific. I assume she gave you her headache scale?” I nodded at her. “But there’s nothing that we can find that pinpoints what exactly can be causing it.”

“How’s that? We have like every book ever written about mystical shit.”

Giles nodded. “Yes, Faith, we do. We however have not memorized them all.”

I felt like I’d woken up on the planet known as Smartass. “No kidding.”

Red jumped in, “we’re still looking. It’s just going to take us a while. I’ve contacted Angel… again. He and I are becoming besties apparently.” Kennedy looked at her funny. “What? I’m number one on his speed dial. Of course he doesn’t know how to use it, so he basically had to memorize my number, but… Okay, not the point. Anyway, he’s looking on his end. The coven believes they may be able to find some answers, but they suggest we run a few tests on Buffy first.”

I shuddered. I did not want to know what those tests would entail. The coven’s “tests” were just this side of insane sometimes.

“So, uh, what do we do until?”

Xander spoke up. “We’ve got to make her comfortable so she doesn’t run.”

“…i.e.,” Kennedy said, “pander to the princess.”

Right. So basically what we’d always done where B was concerned.

Xander cleared his throat. He looked around at the others and then back at me. “So yeah. That basically means we have to um… make Satsu feel welcome too.”

I leaned back, shut my eyes, and groaned loudly. “Great.”

Kennedy sat down next to me. “You gotta take one for the team, Faith.”

I wanted to say I’d pretty much been doing exactly that since I came back to Sunnydale. Humoring the princess and her pea would be nothing new. I just nodded instead. No need to throw myself a pity party just yet. “Right. So is that all?”

“You know,” Andy piped in, “Buffy doesn’t hurt around Faith. How feasible is it for Faith to stay next to Buffy all the time though?”

“Not very,” Red said. “Faith can’t slay holding Buffy.”

“She could always ride on her back,” Kennedy smirked.

“Umm, I think that would kind of slow me down.”

Giles seemed lost in thought. “Yes, yes. It would. We should come up with some way to at least lessen Buffy’s pain. She doesn’t seem to be getting any rest.”

“How about give her a piece of Faith?” Andrew asked.

Hold up, what? A piece of me? What the hell was he getting out? I raised my eyebrow at him.

“You know like an appendage or something. For Buffy to carry around with her.” He finished.

What. The. Fuck? I looked around the room. They seemed to be seriously contemplating this.

“Yeah… no. I like my appendages way too much.”

They ignored me.

“We’d have to magic it,” Red said.

“Yeah, cause it would get all shrivel-y and stuff,” Xander finished.

Were these asswipes serious? “You’re not taking an ‘appendage’ from me. You must have all dipped into a big vat of crazy this morning. I need my appendages.”

Giles looked thoughtful. “You could do without a baby toe. I mean we have no idea if it would work or not, but we could try it with a toe.”

Fuck me. They were serious.

I stood up. “Hell no! You are not taking my toe! Are you crazy?!?”

“Oh, I know!” Andy said. “Her appendix. She doesn’t need that, right?”

“Yes I do!”

Kennedy shook her head. “No you don’t. It’s a useless organ. You’d be fine after a couple of days.”

“That is quite brilliant, Andrew.” Giles said, patting him on the back. “Good job.”

I stared at all of them. “So, yeah, if you all try to take one thing off or out of my body, I will kill you. I am so beyond kidding right now that you should be scared.”

“Faith,” Xander said. “You wouldn’t do it for Buffy. You know, B? Light of your life. Yin to your yang…”

“Fuck you, Xand.”

Red smacked his arm. “That is so not fair.”

Kennedy rolled her eyes. “Yeah, you baited her. But she didn’t bite. You all owe me.”

Xander sighed. “Yeah, well, I’m not paying.”

Giles chuckled. “Me either.”

Wait, what? Paying? Jesus god… “Did you guys make a bet?”

Will was giggling. “Yes, but Xander cheated. Kennedy said you wouldn’t give up a limb for Buffy. Xander said you would.”

I glared at him but he just shrugged.

I let out the breath I’d been holding. “So, you aren’t going to like magically knock me out later and steal an organ,” I looked to Giles, “or a toe later?”

He was laughing. They all started laughing. Hardy har har. “No, no, Faith. We were just having fun with you.”

I rolled my eyes and turned to walk out. “Screw you guys.”

“This is for the eight families of frogs in our bedroom the other night,” Red said.

Andrew nodded, “Yeah, don’t forget the hair dye you put in my shampoo.”

“Or the very hot, yet very non-female stripper you hired for my birthday,” Xander added.

“Ah, yes… and the fact that you reverse alphabetized every book in my library.”

What? I’d mentioned I got bored. “Whatever, asses. It is so on,” I said, trying not to smile.

My revenge plot was interrupted by a blood-curdling scream from baby sis. Like I’d said, D had a set of lungs on her. This time though, she was screaming B’s name.

We took off up the stairs. Kennedy and I were faster. I noticed Satsu holding Dawn back when we made it into the bedroom. “You can’t touch her,” she said. “She’ll hurt you.”

When she saw us, she shoved Dawn towards Kennedy. “Don’t let her touch her.” She said quietly. Kennedy nodded.

We both ran to the bathroom but she made it first. “Don’t, she’s not dressed.”

“Are you serious? Get the fuck out of my way.”

“Let me cover her,” she said.

I went to move and she knocked me into the wall with all her strength. She darted in the bathroom and was pretty quickly thrown back out. She landed on the floor and looked up to me. Her hand was to her face and she most definitely had a bloody nose. “She’s covered now,” she said simply.

“Nice of you to be chivalrous and all, but I’ve seen her naked,” I said. What? Body swap, anyone?

She rolled her eyes and went to move. Kennedy rushed over to help her. Glad they’re bosom buddies now. I ran to the bathroom and B was convulsing on the floor. She had to have hit her head a dozen times before I got there.

“It’s okay, B.” I said, pulling her to me. She was still jerking but she wasn’t fighting me off. I rose with her in my arms and the towel fell off. Dawn went to put it back and was pulled away by Red. “It’s cool,” I told her. She handed me the towel and I wrapped Buffy again. “See, no more nude. You can all open your eyes now.”

“Buffy,” Satsu said, running up to us. B was not responding at all. She’d basically just flashed the entire Scooby gang and she hadn’t flinched. At least she wasn’t seizing anymore.

“Look, seriously, she’s fine. But you need to back off. I’m not gonna do anything to her.”

“That’s not how Buffy has told it.”

“Well, her dumb ass always was a little blind,” I stared her right in the eye, “but you… I’m thinking not so much, huh?”

If this chick had been a witch, the look she gave me would’ve probably set me on fire. All she could do though was stand there with a helluva bloody nose and sulk.

“Right, so… I’m taking her to my room. I suggest the rest of you stay out.” I said, looking pointedly at her. “And,” I turned to the rest of them. “Do a little better to figure this shit out.” I looked down to B who was completely zoned out. “Cause this… not cool. If you’ve gotta cut my fucking toe off, so be it. Otherwise, she ain’t leaving my side.”

Xander smirked.

“Screw you, Xander,” Ken said. “That shit doesn’t count.”

“I beg to disagree.”

I rolled my eyes. “Seriously. She’s attached to me until you come up with a better solution.” I rubbed the back of her head. There was definitely a rather large knot forming. “I will be damned if I let her knock herself silly when I can prevent it.”

Red raised her eyebrow at me.

“What, witch? I do have some redeeming qualities.” I looked at Giles. “She’s got a knot on her head,” I whispered.

He walked near and Buffy started jerking in my arms. “Well, we will look to it when she comes round,” he said, backing away. He turned to Satsu. “Has she hit her head before?”

“Of course,” she said. “Quite often.” She was glaring at me still. I decided to hold the stare.

“Look, I don’t know you and I really don’t care to. But youlre gonna have to deal with this. I didn’t ask to be B’s magic potion but it is what it is. You trying to kill me is just gonna get in my way.”

“Buffy…” she muttered.

“Excuse me?”

“Her name is Buffy,” she said bolder.

I scoffed. “Ha. To you maybe,” I said, walking out of the room. “Seriously guys, get me some answers,” I called over my shoulder. “We’ll be in my room until she’s awake.”

Last night, B had thrown her arms around my shoulders so it was easier to carry her. Today, she was totally out of it. No tears. No sighs. Nothing. She was dead weight.

Will hurried ahead of me and opened the door. She stepped inside and moved as far away from us as possible. “You do realize she’s still naked, right?”

I laid her down on the bed. “I’ll cover her.” I moved away slowly and she started jerking again. I jumped half on top of her. “Or not.”

“Wow. So you actually stop the seizures,” Red mused.

I shrugged. “I guess. This is gonna fast get uncomfortable though,” I said, moving around and pulling her on top of me.

Will threw a blanket at me. “Better?”

I caught it mid-air and wrapped it around B. “Yeah.”

Red’s face lit up. “Hey, hold up.” She ran over to the bag Kennedy had brought in earlier with B’s things in it. “Here we go.” She grabbed some clothes and closed her eyes, mumbling something. Next thing I knew, B was dressed.

“Okay, I gotta admit that was kind of awesome. But her shirt’s on backwards.”

“Oh, hehe,” she said, closing her eyes again. “Better?”

I looked down. “Yep. All clothed now.”

“I’ve got to go downstairs and help with the researching. Why don’t you bring her with? That way we could at least observe her when she’s coming round.”

“Yeah. That sounds good. Sitting here waiting for her to wake up would have probably driven me batty.”

She smiled. “Well we wouldn’t want that, would we?”

When we got downstairs everyone had a book open. Kennedy was on the phone with someone and Satsu was sitting in the overstuffed chair in the corner of the room. She dropped the book she was holding and shot me a glare as we walked in.

“So, Faith is gonna stay down here with us until Buffy wakes up. I thought we could at least observe her coming round. Plus, there are a couple of spells I’d like to try once the coven gets back to me.”

“How’d you get her dressed?” Dawnie asked.

“Red. She mojoed the clothes on her.”

Red took a little bow. The rest of them rolled their eyes. “Whatever. Not like you could do it. Plus, Faith was getting uncomfortable carrying around a naked Buffy.”

“I bet,” Satsu mumbled.

I shrugged at her. “I can always have Red mojo them back off, if you want.”

She chose not to answer me. She huffed and stuck her nose back in the book.

Kennedy ended her call. “So that was Angel. He did some digging. He said he thinks Buffy might be a target of the Powers that Be.”

Willow gasped. “Does she have visions with these blackouts?” She asked Satsu.

She shook her head. “No. Or if she does, she doesn’t remember them. She says she doesn’t see anything. One minute she’s standing there and the next minute lights out.”

Kennedy shook her head. “Yeah, he didn’t think it was like Cordelia. He said the fact that they were getting more frequent concerned him.” She looked at B. “The fact that they are what he assumed was progressively debilitating…” she thought for a moment. “Concerned him more,” she finished.

“So why attack her?” Dawn asked.

“He didn’t know. He said he’d keep looking.”

“It does give us something to go on at least,” Giles said. “If we can narrow what we are looking for we should be able to find a cause, if not a solution.”

“What if he’s wrong though?” Xander asked. “Then we’re wasting all this time researching the wrong thing.”

“I disagree,” Giles answered. “It gives us a starting point. And though I do know you and Faith hate researching, you don’t really have much of a choice in the matter.”

I’d sat down on the couch. I had B spread out across my lap. “Give me a damn book,” I muttered.

Dawn giggled and handed me the one next to her. “This may be helpful.”

It weighed about seventy pounds. “Umm, unless you want me to use your sister’s chest as a book prop, I suggest you get me one I can actually hold.”

“Fine,” she whined. “I thought you were a slayer.”

B took that moment to stir a bit. We all stopped what we were doing. Satsu jumped up like a little puppy, which reminded me. “Hey, where’s your dog?”

She looked at me like I had two heads. “At the neighbor’s.”

B rolled over and scooted down. She snuggled her head into my stomach. I stopped breathing for a moment to see if she would move. Everyone was watching her.

“Breathe, dorkwad,” Ken said.

I took a breath. She stayed where she was and didn’t move another muscle. It was oddly disturbing. It was almost like she was… “Hey, is this the comatose?”

The girlfriend rolled her eyes. “Her headache scale?”

We nodded.

“I’d assume so. I’ve never seen one so bad. She’s mentioned them though.”

“How long do they last?” Ken asked.

“Sometimes hours. Sometimes days, she said.” She shrugged her shoulders and looked down at her book.

You’ve go to be shitting me. “Red, you’ve got to figure out a way for me to carry her around. Seriously. I’m not gonna get anything done otherwise.”

She nodded. “Let me see what I can come up with.”

We sort of fell into a rhythm of reading after that. I’d come up with nothing. I was about to throw my book across the room (and hopefully hit a certain someone in the head) when Red shouted. “A spell!”

“What?” Everyone asked.

“There’s a spell where I can look into her mind when she’s like this. Here,” she said showing the passage to G.

“Is it dangerous?” Ken asked.

“No,” Giles answered for her. “Not really. She’s not actually going into her mind. She would just be able to see into it. Much like looking through a window.”

“Or a TV,” Red offered helpfully.

“Yes, or a television. Good work, Willow. Do you have everything here?”

“Of course,” she said.

Twenty minutes later, B had still not moved and Red had set up all her magical crap. She sat down on the floor and started to go into some kind of trance.

Satsu went to speak, and Dawn stopped her. “You want to be quiet, trust us,” she whispered.

The other girl nodded. Smarter than I gave her credit for, I had to admit.

Red suddenly jerked her head back up, eyes wide. And she started to scream. Ken rushed to her and Xander held her back.

“Give it a minute,” Giles said.

And we did. We gave it a solid sixty seconds. She honest to god screamed for a full minute. Screaming gets old after about five seconds. Sixty seconds and we were all looking around wildly, now screaming at each other.

“See if you can stop it!”

“Make her stop, G!”

“Just shake her!”

Kennedy moved to grab her but before she could get there, Red just stopped. She closed her eyes and bowed her head. Everyone stopped moving and watched her. She took several deep breaths. No one said anything. When she looked back up, her face was filled with a terror I haven’t seen since The First.

Kennedy rushed to her side. “What is it, baby?”

She went to speak and started coughing. I guessed that screaming like a banshee can makes you hoarse. “Call the coven,” she coughed out. “Call them now,” she said before running to the wastebasket and throwing up every muffin Andy had ever made.

I looked down at B. She was the only one who hadn’t moved. Part of me wanted to pull her tighter to me, and the other part wanted to get up and run as fast as I could out of the room. Luckily, being a changed girl and all, the former won out.

She suddenly opened her eyes and smiled slightly. “Hi,” she whispered. I made myself smile back as she sat up. “Whoa momma,” she said, grabbing her head and wincing. I pulled her closer to me. “I feel sick,” she muttered.

Dawn rushed over with the other wastebasket in the room right before B also vomited. I held her from behind, holding her hair away from her face. Pretty sure Ken was doing the same thing across the room.

No one else had moved. Even Satsu looked like someone had bitchslapped her. I made eye contact with Giles. “Call the fucking coven. Right. Now. G.” I said, through gritted teeth.

Chapter Text

Chapter 5
Olivia

So, I was big on lists. I had a list of embarrassing moments, traumatizing moments, dumb situations, times I’d totally kicked ass. I also had a list of shit that had scared me senseless. Safe to say, Red’s face had made it onto that list. But way above that, very close to the top, was the coven.

The coven was made up of various women throughout the world. Maybe there were men, but I’d never met one. The women were all different. Young, old. Black, white. Loud, quiet. But they all had one thing in common – they were scary as shit. That is not excluding Red, by the way. I’d heard what went down after Tara’s death. Being flayed alive was on my list of shit I never wanted to happen to me.

Red was different though. She was nice to me. I knew better than to piss her off but still… I wasn’t like terrified when she was in the room.

B had stopped being sick about the same time as Red. Ken and I hauled both their asses to the bathroom so they could clean themselves up.

B was apologizing profusely the whole way. “God, Faith. I am so, so sorry. I feel like a baby.”

“No big.” I shrugged. “People get sick. You sorta have an excuse.”

She barely made eye contact with me after that. I get she was embarrassed but there were entirely different fish to fry here. One of which was the fact that Red had said jackshit since she’d gone all ghost white. Ken kept asking her what was wrong but she just kept shaking her head. B had no idea what Red had done, and we’d silently all agreed not to say anything till we got some answers.

Calling the coven wasn’t like picking up a phone and dialing a number. Calling the coven involved some crazy kind of mind mojo that G and Red did. I didn’t know the logistics and I sure the hell didn’t want to. No way I was calling those creepy women.

When we got back to the room, two of them were already there. One I knew as Caroline. The other I’d never seen before. See? Here’s one reason they’re creepy – they popped out of thin air randomly, which they continued to do for the next ten minutes.

B and Satsu watched with a look of pure fascination. It definitely was a mind trip if you’d never seen it before. I was pretty sure the look on my face was more a mixture of disgust and fear. I noticed that Satsu had slid on the couch beside B, even though Buff still had both her hands on my legs. I couldn’t particularly find myself caring, what with the freaky sisters and all.

Once they’d all gotten there (apparently eight of however the hell many there were showed up) they stood in the corner with Red and Giles while she whispered whatever the hell it was she’d seen in B’s freaky mind.

Buffy was holding her head with one hand. “Can I lay my head on your shoulder?” She whispered.

“Sure,” I nodded, wrapping my arm around her and pulling her in closer.

The whore had her hand on B’s knee. She scooted over with her when Buffy moved closer. Buffy didn’t seem to notice, but I looked over at her and smirked anyway.

The women moved as a group over to us. Buffy smiled weakly at them and then closed her eyes. She was blissfully unaware. Lucky her.

“Faith,” the one named Samantha drawled.

See, Samantha was one of the first witches I’d met. She popped in like that one day. I’d made the very stupid mistake of comparing her to another famous witch.

“Samantha, like on Bewitched. Do you wiggle your nose when you cast a spell?” I’d asked.

And she did, wiggle her nose that is. And I had burning itch in a place I’d rather not mention for a week, before I talked Red into mojoing it off of me.

“Seriously, Red, that woman gave me a disease.”

“What?!?” Xander had screamed from across the room. “Did you sleep with her?”

“No, jackass. She put a spell on me.”

Even though she didn’t believe me, Willow had shaken her head and mumbled some shit and I was all better.

“Samantha,” I drawled back.

B watched us. “Do you know each other?”

“Uh yeah, she gave me a mystical disease.”

Buffy opened her mouth. “Did you sleep with her?” Seriously. Would people ever learn?

“No,” I said eyeing the witch.

Samantha laughed. “I have no idea what you’re talking about, Faith.” She winked at me before moving to the other side of the couch.

An older woman I’d never seen before stepped forward. She looked like a typical grandmother. Just one who could set you on fire with her mind.

She looked at Satsu. “What’s your name, dear?”

“Satsu.”

“I love exotic names. Very beautiful.” She said, shaking her hand. “Now if you would be so kind, as to move, we would much appreciate it.”

Satsu mumbled something but got up.

She turned to me, “Faith, I presume.” I nodded. “I’m Olivia.” Oh, I’d heard of her.

“Big guns, huh?”

She smiled at me. She put out her hand, but I just stared at it. “You don’t trust me?”

“You reading me?”

She smirked a little.

“Yeah, so you should’ve just told me.” I said, giving her my hand.

I went to move and she shook her head. “No you stay for right now.”

B was hiding her face in my neck. I think she finally got the spooky vibe I did from these women.

She bent down in front of Buffy. “Buffy dear, we are going to try and figure out what’s wrong.” She put her hands on Buffy’s knees. “I’m going to ask you to stay where you are for a bit and then we are going to ask Faith to move away.”

I growled at her when I heard B gulp. “What’s the purpose of that?” I snapped.

“We have to see everything she is experiencing, dear. I know you want to protect her, but your current situation isn’t entirely conducive, now is it?”

“Better than her hurting,” I mumbled.

She nodded like she understood something I didn’t. “I’m sorry, but you will have to move momentarily.” And then her eyes flashed. And okay. Convinced me.

She stood back up and they all closed their eyes. The rest of us watching like it was a freakin blockbuster, while she muttered some words in what I assumed was Latin. After a moment, they all opened them and she looked at me, pointedly. “Move.”

I went to get up and B grabbed me. “No!”

Buffy was thrown back against the couch. I moved on the witch closest to me. Kennedy grabbed me and pulled me back. “Are you stupid?”

“Let me go, K!” I yelled.

Buffy was sobbing on the couch. She’d curled up in the fetal position. Her face contorted in pain. I tried my best to fight Kennedy off, when Satsu grabbed my other arm. I couldn’t move and I was seriously going to beat the shit out of both of them when they let me go.

I felt Xander’s hand on my arm. “Faith, calm down and let them do whatever it is that they do, please.” His eyes were pleading with me. I nodded, and Satsu dropped her hand.

Ken, however, wasn’t that stupid. She held me in a tight grip from behind and I couldn’t move. All I could do was watch.

Buffy started screaming then. Not as loud as Willow, but trust me, you wanna drive someone bat shit crazy – play a recording of screams.

Add that to the fact that Buffy was in more pain than I’d ever seen anyone and these women, Red included, were all chanting eyes closed, like it was the most normal thing they’d ever done, and I was close to vomiting.

Dawn was crying. Xander was shaking. And Ken was whispering in my ear. “They’re helping her. It’ll be over soon.”

I nodded, afraid of my voice.

The chanting got louder and B sat up, holding her head with her hands. “Please stop,” she was screaming.

It was easier to look away.

And then, as fast as it started, it was over. Buffy fell back on the couch crying, but at least she’d stopped with the screaming.

Red motioned to Ken and she let me go. I pushed past the circle of evil whores and grabbed her. “It’s okay,” I whispered, pulling her into my lap. “It’s okay. I’ve got you. It’s over.”

She was nodding against my chest, like she’d heard me I guess, but otherwise she was limp.

Olivia turned to Giles. “What is it?” He asked.

“I’ve heard of it, but I’ve never seen anything like it.” She whispered. She sounded half in awe and half scared. Not a combination I found comforting.

One of the other women I didn’t know spoke up, “There have been prophecies about this type of mystical destruction, but… we assumed those were a myth.”

Great, so were all gonna talk in circles.

“What kind of mystical destruction?” Dawn asked.

“It’s like a disease,” Samantha said. “But magical. Definitely created by someone extremely powerful.”

“Who?” Satsu questioned.

Red shook her head. “No clue. I don’t know anyone alive with that kind of power. You could combine the powers of all of us in this room and we wouldn’t be able to accomplish this.”

I could feel Buffy against me. Her breathing had slowed and she’d either passed out or gone to sleep I figured. I looked to Red. “So what’s it doing to her? What did you see earlier?”

“When she has those spells, she isn’t here. I mean not inside her body. It’s like she’s sucked out.”

“Uh, where does she go?”

She looked away. “Yeah, that’s what I saw.” She paused for a moment, collecting her thoughts. “It’s like hell, but no dimension I’ve ever seen described. And she feels everything. What they are doing to her…” she trailed off. “I don’t think I want to tell you. But it’s safe to say Angel’s trip to hell was like a summer vacation in comparison.”

“Who?” I growled, “Who are ‘they’?”

Caroline spoke up. “We can’t see them. They are faceless. Just dark shapes. They don’t have any tools or implements and yet they are capable of… hurting her in ways you’d need at least garden tools to achieve.”

I winced.

“But she’s not hurt,” Satsu said.

“Not her body, no. But the effects are left on her mind. There’s a blackness in there that keeps spreading. It’s so dark.” Willow shuddered. “The only thing that is comforting about all this is she doesn’t remember.”

“Will she?” Dawn whispered.

“I certainly hope not.” Olivia muttered, lost in thought. She snapped herself out of it. “We are going to look for ways to find this person. We’ll be contacting everyone we can trust. We’ve got to be careful though because someone somewhere knows who is behind this. I am not sure why you can make her comfortable when her condition hurts the other slayers. I assume it is the connection. I detected an intertwining of souls on a very base level.” Giles’s eyebrows shot up. What the hell did that mean?

She held out her palm and a small cloth bag appeared. She handed it to me. “This is extremely powerful. And even more addictive. Use it wisely. It should afford you some time away from her as well so you don’t have to keep holding her. Just a tiny bit,” she held up the tip of her pinkie finger, “on her temple should do it. That bag should last you a lifetime. Do not let it anyone have it. Keep it with you at all times. Do not touch it with your skin either. There’s a very small applicator attached.”

I turned the bag over and looked at it. “Okay. So don’t use it unless I have to?”

“I didn’t say that.” She sighed. “We need to leave. Not to be clichéd but time is truly of the essence. Frankly, I am more than a little surprised she’s alive. However this thing doesn’t want her dead. Not yet at least. As for the medication, think of it like cancer,” she said. “When people are suffering, you do what you have to do. Don’t let her suffer. Give her the drug when she hurts.” She bent down in front of B and laid her hands on her head. Buffy didn’t stir. “Poor, poor child. We will fix this.”

She nodded at Red and just like that – poof and they were gone.

We all just stared for a moment, which is kind of normal when over the half the occupants in the room suddenly disappear.

Giles cleared his throat. “Is she asleep, Faith?”

I looked down and nodded. She was curled up like a baby. I stared at her for a moment. She looked so young with no makeup on. Her dark hair was matted against her face from where she’d taken a shower earlier. My stomach did that stupid ass flip-flop thing. Great, just freakin great.

“Why don’t you try and leave her there?” He asked. “She’s still sleeping. We might as well test it now. She’s no longer seizing.” He looked at the rest of the gang. “Also, the things they’ve found, that Willow saw, might be best kept between us. There is no reason to frighten her anymore than she already is. Or anyone else for that matter.” We all nodded at him.

Before I could move, Xander piped up. “Do you think Faith pulls her away from that place?”

Willow nodded. “Simple answer? Yes. The best we can do is make sure Faith can hold her until we are certain she’s back.”

“But why?” Dawn asked. “Why Faith, and not Kennedy? Or Satsu?”

Andy nodded. “Yes. The older one said something about intertwined souls?” His eyes got big. “Oh. Oh!” He looked to Giles. “You think that’s true?”

Giles nodded. “For some time now. Ever since Faith came to Sunnydale, actually.”

Willow smiled. “It makes complete sense. It’s why they’re always at one extreme or the other.”

Ken looked at me and I shrugged.

Giles looked at Satsu. She sort of looked sick. “Yes, well that is not the most pressing matter right now. Faith, if you will?”

I wasn’t stupid. I could guess what they were getting at. There was no point in me acknowledging it right now though. I stood up and B mumbled a bit. I went to sit back down, but Giles touched my arm.

“Wait.”

She tossed around a bit, trying to get comfortable but she didn’t wake up.

Red patted me on the arm. “See that’s good, right?”

I nodded, watching B. It was good. It just didn’t feel all that great. I tried not to think about what they had told us about the black things, but I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I couldn’t fight them off, but if I could keep her from going back there, I would. If that meant I didn’t let her out of my sight from now on, so be it.

“What about what Angel said with the Powers that Be? You think that could be a part of it?”

“I don’t know,” Willow said. “It would more involvement than they’ve had in the past. But anything is possible. Someone or something is controlling this. My biggest problem with all of this is why?”

Kennedy raised an eyebrow at her.

“No seriously, why torture Buffy? What is the point of all this? It doesn’t feel right. Like maybe there’s a grander scheme we’re missing?”

“Like the First?” I asked.

She nodded and then shook her head. “Yes, but no. I don’t know. There has got to be an underlying reason for this. There always is. Something bigger than just driving Buffy mad. I mean that’s a lot of time and energy into killing someone.”

 

Giles nodded. “Why don’t you call Angel, Kennedy?” He asked. “Fill him in on what is occurring at least. He does have some resources that we are unable to use at his disposal.”

Kennedy nodded and went to get her phone.

Giles turned to Satsu. “I’d like you and Xander to go speak to Eve. I don’t feel she is a threat but her running into the two of you might not be coincidental given the fact that Buffy has gotten much worse over the last few weeks.”

They nodded and walked off. I suddenly remembered something. “Hey, warlock?”

Red spun around. “The tailored man. Right. I’d forgotten about that. We didn’t ask her.”

“I asked Satsu this morning. She knew nothing about him,” Giles said. “I was going to speak to Buffy about it until…”

We all turned to look at her. She was sitting up. She looked at me and I walked back over to her and took her hand. She let go of the breath she was holding.

“So,” she said. “Someone want to tell me what the hell that was about?”

We all stared at each other. We weren’t going to tell her about that place. Giles was right. There was no need to scare her.

“We’re trying to help, Buff,” Willow said, smiling weakly.

“I know. I just sort of blacked out after those women tried to mystically rape my brain.”

Kennedy came back in, “Angel said…” she started. “Oh, you’re awake.”

“Angel said what?” B asked.

“Uh, he said hi. And that he was worried about you.” She cut her eyes at Willow.

“Willow why don’t the four of you,” he said motioning Dawn, Andy, and Ken, “come with me? There are a few a books I think we could start with in my library. Faith, you and Buffy stay here. We need some questions answered. I feel like we’re missing something.”

“I’m still in the room, guys.”

“I know,” he said, smiling at her. “We’re very glad you’re back too. There’s been something missing for the last three years.”

Dawn smiled at her. “Seriously. I had no one to annoy.”

Buffy laughed a bit. “I highly doubt that.”

“However,” Giles finished. “We have a few leads that we want to explore. I don’t think you’re up to researching…”

She scrunched her nose up. Holy god, that was cute.

“…and I know from experience Faith would rather run herself onto a stake than research.” She squeezed my hand as he spoke. “So, we’ll leave you alone for a bit. Rest and take advantage of the fact you’re not hurting, will you?”

She nodded and they left.

We sat there for a few minutes. I was just holding her hand. I know I was supposed to ask her about the man and really a dozen other things but the past twenty-four hours were starting to catch up to me.

“Where’s Satsu?” She asked, breaking the silence with my least favorite subject of the day.

“She’s downstairs with Xand talking to Eve.” She didn’t say anything. “Relax, she’s fine. I haven’t killed her. Even if I’d tried, Red would’ve fried me. Plus I’m a changed person.” If I kept telling myself that, maybe it would come true.

“Why would you?” I turned to look at her. She sighed. “Try to kill her, I mean?”

I sat back and put my other hand over my eyes. “Umm, is this really what we should be talking about?”

She squeezed my hand harder and leaned back beside me. “I honestly don’t know what we’re supposed to be talking about because I don’t know what’s going on. But I do know I want to know why?”

I thought about the intertwined souls thing. No way I was telling her that, but still… how did I voice this? And then I didn’t.

Instead I looked her in the eyes and I kissed her.

For a second, her mouth didn’t move. I felt her gasp against me. My mind was thinking ‘you are the biggest fucking idiot on the planet.’ But, as usual I ignored it. I was soft enough not to scare her but I almost stopped when she didn’t kiss me back and then she made the most amazing sound, I’d ever head. She moaned. Her lips vibrated against mine and I had to fight the urge to push her down under me. (Cause that would’ve been totally inappropriate.) She opened her mouth slightly, and I pushed my tongue inside, tentatively. I didn’t want to scare her and I didn’t want to stop. This time she moaned louder and I was pretty sure if I’d died right then it would’ve been with a smile on my face. She wrapped her arms around my neck and scooted into my lap. Yeah, seriously, go ahead and kill me. I pulled her closer to me and deepened the kiss. Finally, when I couldn’t breathe, I pulled back.

I put my forehead against hers. She hadn’t moved. “Uh… answer your question?” I whispered.

She nodded, her forehead still pressed against me. She moved to straddle me and nuzzled in my neck and I kissed the side of her head. I could feel something wet against my shoulder. She was crying. I wrapped my arms around her.

“B? You okay?”

She nodded.

I kissed her neck again. I hoped I hadn’t scared her. I felt my heart jump. “Seriously?”

“Yes. I’m fine,” she whispered. “I…” she stuttered for a moment, and then took a deep breath. “I’ve spent the better part of three years wishing I were dead.”

“Don’t say that.”

She shook her head. She was still hiding in my neck. “No, seriously. I have. I tried it, you know? Everything you can think of. Nothing helped me. I had no idea what was happening. All I knew was that I had to run. I don’t remember leaving. I don’t remember anything until I woke up in a hotel room in Mexico. I thought I’d just gone on another drunk escapade and then… No one was there. And the seizures came. I spent like six months completely intoxicated. I knew I should go back, but I looked around. I asked for help. No one could help me. And I really wanted to die, Faith. I was a complete wreck. I couldn’t even look in the mirror. So many times… I wanted to come back. But you couldn’t see me. None of you could. Not like that. And it all, I mean, it all seems so stupid now. Everything I’d ever wanted was sitting in a hotel room playing video games with Xander. And I ran.”

So, I was at a loss to say the least. She was way better at the pouring your heart out thing than I was. “Andrew?”

“What?” She said.

“You wanted Andrew?” Sue me.

Or not; because she laughed. A real laugh. A B laugh. “No, you big dork. You.” She gasped. “Wow, I said that out loud, huh?”

I nodded.

“Did you know that?”

Ha! Did I know that… uh no. No I didn’t know that. Seriously. “No, Buffy. I didn’t.”

She sighed. “Would it have mattered if you did?”

“You have no idea how much,” I mumbled. I thought back to what Olivia had said, Frankly, I’m more than a little surprised she’s alive, and I shuddered. I pulled her as close to me as I could. I was going to kill every single son of a bitch who ever laid a hand, mystical or otherwise, on her. Even if I had to climb to the depths of hell to do it.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 6
Kasadya

I sat there with B in my lap, rubbing her back. She was breathing pretty evenly against my neck and I figured she was asleep.

Her revelations were going through my mind. The fact that she, I didn’t know what to call it… had feelings for me… had pretty much knocked the breath out of me. I needed to focus on what was going on though. She said she didn’t remember leaving the hotel. That she’d woken up in Mexico. Did that mean she didn’t remember the man she was with? It definitely could explain how she knew that car she was driving was worth something. Because a normal B probably would have just sold it for a thousand and never looked back.

I knew there were a million questions that they wanted me to ask her and I was going to. Just after she woke up. And possibly kissed me again.

I momentarily forgot we lived in a castle with a bunch of nosy people though. Kennedy came rushing in the door.

“Whoa,” she said, stopping abruptly. “Sorry for… interrupting?” She asked, eyebrow quirked.

“She’s asleep,” I whispered.

“Yeah. That’s an interesting way to do it. Sleep, I mean.”

I shrugged.

“Okay,” she stepped out of the room, “give me a second.”

She was gone for a minute and then walked back in.

“What was that about?”

“I told Andy to keep Satsu busy. No offense, cause I know you don’t give a shit, but that’s a pretty precarious position Buffy’s currently in and what we don’t need is crazy jealous drama.”

“I guess,” I said. I kind of wished she would walk in. But hey, K was right and that could sometimes get annoying.

Ken sat down across from me and propped her feet up on the table. “So, how do you think she sleeps like that?”

“I guess she’s just tired.”

“Yeah. You’d think her legs would go numb or something.”

“Well, seeing as I’ve pretty much been carrying her around for twenty-four hours, I don’t think she’d notice.”

“True,” she said. “So, there are a couple of things…”

“Such as?”

“First, I talked to Angel. He’s thinking about coming.” She left that hanging in the air.

Okay, it wasn’t that I didn’t like Angel, in fact it was quite the opposite. It was just that he had a thing for B. He’d been all over the world looking for her too. “Okay?”

“Just a heads up,” she smirked, watching my hands rub Buffy’s back. “It’s weird, you know? How you can calm her? I’ve never seen you so… so sweet.”

“Shut up.” Jackass. “What was the other thing?”

“Oh yeah,” she said, sitting up and resting her arms on her knees. “So, there’s this coven in Uruguay.”

“What about them?”

“Well Giles spoke to Olivia. She told him that they had some information that would be helpful.” She took a deep breath, and looked at B. “Is she asleep?”

I nodded. “Duh. I just told you that.”

“I was just checking. Anyway, remember that time you and Xander went to Brazil?”

I nodded again. “Of course.”

“Well, that coven, in Uruguay, they’re the ones that told Olivia they’d spotted Buffy.”

“What do you mean?”

“They told her right before you guys got there that Buffy had delivered something to them. They tracked her to Rio and then well… you know the rest.”

“Delivered something? What does that mean?”

She shrugged. “I don’t know. They didn’t know she was The Slayer until our coven contacted them and described her. She was a redhead then. Olivia said they’d tried to help her with the headaches. But then in the middle of the night she’d vanished.”

“So? What’s that got to do with now?”

“Well, they have some information, like I said. I don’t know what, so don’t ask. But they’re coming here.”

“When?”

“Soon. With Olivia.”

Great more witches. I could hardly wait.

We heard scuffling outside the door. “Wait, Satsu can you show me…” Andrew was feebly attempting to keep her out of the room.

Ken’s eyes got really big and she jumped up and ran to the door.

“Hi, what’s up?!?” She asked, so cheerfully it was kind of embarrassing.

“Please move,” Satsu said.

Kennedy tried to stop her but she darted around her.

“What is this?!?” She yelled.

Kennedy touched her arm. “Shh. Calm down.”

“I will not calm down.” She stalked over to me. “Why are you holding her like that? Why don’t you just put her down? She isn’t going to break!”

I stared at her long enough to make her uncomfortable. After she took a deep breath, I spoke. “Okay, first of all she’s asleep and I’d really rather you not wake her. Second of all, I assume she’s comfortable and she needs sleep. Far be it from me to deny her that.”

“No, not you.” She mocked. “You definitely have her best interest at heart.”

I cocked my eyebrow. “Have I given you the impression that I don’t?”

“No,” she snarled, “You’ve given me the impression you want in her pants.”

I rolled my eyes. “You’re as stupid as I thought. I’m not worried about her pants. Or getting in them.” I was trying to whisper, and honestly, I was amazed at the fact that B was still asleep. And then I felt her eyelashes flutter against my neck and her breathing changed. I held my breath waiting for her to move but she didn’t. But she was definitely awake.

If she wanted to pretend to be asleep it wasn’t like I was gonna stop her. It just made the conversation I was having a hell of a lot more interesting.

“I want you to put her down,” she practically growled.

“I’m sorry if I’ve led you to believe that I give a rat’s ass what you want. I’m not moving until she does. You can stay here and watch or you can move on,” I shrugged. “Doesn’t matter to me.”

She stormed out of the room. “This is not over, Faith.”

Of course it wasn’t. Why couldn’t shit just be simple? I wanted to ask Red to mojo her ass back to Japan, but I figured that wasn’t my place. “I guess this is where I say good. But there are other things to worry about right now than you, Sats.”

She huffed and walked off.

Kennedy came back in the room. “We so don’t need that shit right now. You know that right?”

“What? I’m not baiting her. She’s working herself up.”

“Well, I’m gonna play devil’s advocate here and just say if I came in here and you were holding my girl like that…” she trailed off. “But, hey I’m all Team Faith. I know you lo…”

“B’s awake,” I said hurriedly, cutting her off.

“Oh, umm hey Buffy,” Ken said.

“… hey Kennedy,” B mumbled against my neck. She moved to get up and sat down beside me. I kept my hand on her knee.

Ken started laughing nervously. “So, umm…”

She was saved from embarrassment by Giles, “Girls,” he said walking into the room. “The coven’s here.”

B looked puzzled. She hadn’t heard Kennedy earlier.

Besides the gang (minus Satsu thank god) and Olivia, in walked five women.

“Oh!” Buffy exclaimed when she saw them.

“Hello, Anne,” one of them said.
Buffy’s mouth was opening and closing. She was looking passed them. Like someone was missing. “I… uh…I…”

I squeezed her knee. “You okay?”

She didn’t seem to hear me. She moved to stand up, a wild look in her eye. As soon as I let go of her knee, she’d winced in pain but she stayed standing.

“Hi,” I heard a little voice coming behind the “lead” witch’s skirt, which when she stepped out, I realized belonged to a little girl, five, maybe six years old. “’Member me?” She asked, looking straight at B.

Uh, what the fuck?

B was still doing the fish thing with her mouth and then she started nodding.

Again, what the fuck?

“Emily?” B whispered.

The little girl nodded. “I ‘member you. You saved me.”

The rest of us were looking at each other like, well… see my earlier sentiment.

The woman in the front moved over to us. “Perhaps we should explain some things. It would seem that Faith,” she looked at me to make sure that was my name I guess. I nodded. “Seems to give you some comfort. Why do you not sit back down?”

Buffy moved mutely back to her seat.

She held her hand out to me. “My name is Cassandra. I am the head of the Uruguayan coven.” English was obviously not her native language, but she spoke it better than I did.

“A couple of years ago, Anne…” she hesitated. “Forgive me, that is the name you had given us, No?” B nodded. “Buffy, I mean, she brought to us Emily.” She sat down in a chair across from us and the little girl crawled into her lap. “Buffy saved her from a group of people that wanted her dead.” She stated matter-of-factly. “She knew Emily was powerful. They killed her parents before Buffy arrived. That was a few weeks before she made it to us. She gave us the child. Told us the story of how she had found her. The next day, I am sad to say, she was gone. We did not know that she was the woman that you sought until Olivia informed us that her second name was Anne. It did not take much for us to deduce that she was the Chosen One. Unfortunately, we lost our track on her in Brazil. I believe you arrived not soon after?” She asked me.

I nodded too. I didn’t know what to say. I looked at B and she was staring at the little girl on the woman’s lap. She was holding a stuffed animal that looked scarily familiar. A pink pig. Obviously it wasn’t Gordo, but still…

“You still have that?” B asked, quietly.

“Oh,” Cassandra laughed. “She does not go without it. She calls it Annie… after you.”

“There’s more,” Olivia said.

Cassandra nodded. The other four women who’d come with her were either mute or didn’t speak English. “Anne told us that the little girl was powerful but she did not know why. However, we could tell. There had been prophecies about a child such as her. As you may know, prophecies are often mythical in nature. Often we thought nothing of them, as every religion has its prodigal child. It was not difficult for us to feel Emily though. She was our…” she thought for a moment. “Chosen One, just as the Council had theirs. What she is supposed to do is of no concern. Her path leads to a destiny many years away. She does though have certain gifts. This morning she saw something. It concerned Anne. Though it may seem strange, she remembered her, and she said she was in trouble. It was not but moments later that we contacted Olivia and she shared what she had seen here.”

Giles cleared his throat. “Surely the child didn’t see…” He stopped, remembering that B didn’t know.

Cassandra shook her head. “Not what you are thinking, no. But she saw the man.”

“Kasadya,” the little girl whispered covering her eyes.

Willow gasped.

Cassandra nodded. “We had the same reaction.”

“How did she…how did she know that was…” Red was stuttering, and it was scaring the shit out of me.

Cassandra looked at the little girl and nodded. “I just knowed it. He watches her,” she said, sadly looking at Buffy. “He makes her hurt.” She looked at me suddenly. “You can’t let him hurt her. Bad bad things will happen if he hurts her and she goes away.”

B’s face was losing its color. I squeezed her hand. “I won’t let him,” I told the little girl.

She shook her head. “No. No. You don’t understand. He goes where you can’t. You have to let her see. When she sees then she can tell you and you can stop it. But she has to see. She has to go back.”

I didn’t like what this little chick was suggesting.

“But she doesn’t remember…” Dawn whispered.

“I know,” the little girl sighed. “He doesn’t want her to. She only feels a pain here,” she pointed to her head. “She has to see. She has to go there and come back. She has to ‘member.”

Cassandra gave the little girl to one of the women in the room. She silently took her hand and led her out. She was holding the little pig against her chest. She stopped and turned to look at us. “You made all these girls like her. But only Anne,” she looked at me, “and you can stop it. You have the rest of her, here,” she pointed to her chest, “inside you. She has the bad now and you have the good. He doesn’t like you because you can make it go away. He doesn’t like you at all. But you have to let her go back first. Then you can fix it and you won’t have to be sad anymore.” She made eye contact with Buffy. “And you won’t be sick. I don’t like it that you’re sick. It hurts me in my heart,” she said sadly, as she was led out of the room.

“She does not understand much of it,” Cassandra sighed. “And her words come to her difficultly. She is only five. But she sees more than the rest of us. I only wish we could help you. Our job, though, is to keep her safe. We must not be here much longer. We are here now under a cloaking spell. Because we have told you our previous location we will now have to move. It is sad, but such is life.”

Buffy had been oddly quiet. She was not really listening to Cassandra, and instead staring at the door the little girl walked out of. Cassandra bent in front of her, and B turned around. “You were a very sad woman when we met you. You asked me to keep her safe. I have done what was asked and grown to love her as much as you did. I hope you understand what you have done by saving her. I know you blamed yourself for her parent’s death. But many times things happen because they are supposed to happen. It is my hope that when she is older she can see you again so that she fully understands what you have done for her. Thank you for keeping her safe. I hope you find the strength to defeat Kasadya and only wish there was more we were able to do.” She stood up and nodded to the rest of us.

And then they vanished.

“Who the fuck is Kasadya?” I growled.

“What is she talking about?” B interrupted. “Go back? Where am I supposed to go?”

“Red? Who is Kasadya?”

B spun on me, “Forget that. What the hell was she talking about?!?” She was becoming slightly unglued.

Willow looked at Giles and he nodded sadly. “Buffy, when you have your seizures, you go away.”

“Go away? Where?”

“Your body is still here but your mind, your essence I guess, goes away.”

“Again,” I yelled, “Who the fuck is he, Red?”

“Shut up!” Buffy yelled at me. “Where am I going? What am I doing?”

“He hurts you. Not your physical body, but your mental one. I saw it earlier…” Red trailed off, tears in her eyes. “We didn’t want you to know. You shouldn’t have to know that.”

“What does he do?” Buffy whispered.

“He tortures you. I… you wouldn’t survive here.”

“But I don’t…”

“Your body here is not affected, but your mind is. The headaches are residual. And the worse the headaches, the worse the…”Red didn’t finish. She didn’t need to.

“Oh,” B said. She sat back and closed her eyes.

Olivia stepped forward. “Kasadya is the name of what Christians call a fallen angel. He was technically a warrior of the First in corporal form. When evil ruled the world, Kasadya was a powerful entity. Though he had the features of a man, he is in no way human. I fear what his plan is where Buffy is concerned though we can all safely assume nothing less that domination.”

“Well as long as I’m here, he can’t get to her, right?”

“I’m afraid it’s not that simple, Faith,” Giles said. “The little girl said…”

“Fuck what she said, G! She’s five years old!”

“Be that as it may,” Olivia shook her head, “She is what Cassandra said she was. You wanted answers and she has given them to you. Buffy must go back and we must help her remember.”

B stood up. “How do I do that?”

“No!” I jumped up beside her. I grabbed her arm. There was no way I was letting her go. “There’s absolutely no way I’m letting that happen! It’s bad enough she has to go through it. If you people think for one second we’re gonna let her remember it, you’re sadly mistaken.”

Olivia shook her head. “It is not your decision, Faith. I understand you want to protect her. I see what Emily was talking about. You do share so much more than a simple slayer connection. But for us to stop this, she has to remember.”

“Faith,” B whispered, “stop crying. It’s okay.”

I hadn’t realized I was crying. “No! Fuck that! It’s not okay! I’m not going to allow it!” I bent over to catch my breath.

B stepped away from me. “Tell me what I need to do,” she said to the witch.

I felt Dawn put her arms around me. I was crying like a fucking baby. And I didn’t care.

“The next time you have a seizure, we will be waiting,” she motioned to the others and I hadn’t noticed that there were more fucking witches in the room. Great. “We will do a spell so that you do not forget and so that we may see. How long do they normally last?”

Buffy shrugged. “The longest was ten minutes, I think,” she whispered.

“Well then, five will be sufficient. Faith has the strength to bring you back, but we will not use her unless you have not returned. If I am correct, I believe that the pain you feel when you come round will not be there if you remember. However, the memories will be.”

“What do I do? When I get there?”

“You ask him. Tell him you know. Use your slayer instinct. I do not believe you will have your powers there. It is not our world. But he must know by now the game has changed.”

B nodded.

“Are you sure there’s no other way?” Xander asked, coming to stand beside me.

Red shook her head. “No. This is the best we can come up with.”

“Well then your best is shit, Red. Why would you even suggest this?”

“You think I want this, Faith?!? We have no other choice. There are other things involved besides Buffy. We’ve got to stop him.”

I jerked away from Dawn and moved towards her. Kennedy stepped in between us. “Faith, you’d be making a big mistake doing what you’re thinking about doing.”

I was about to say, ‘fuck you, K,’ and deck her when we all saw B fall. I ran to her and was slammed so hard against the wall I lost my breath.

“Grab her!” Red yelled. “Get the other slayers and get her out of here!”

Kennedy was holding me back and five more girls, including Satsu, grabbed me and began pulling me out of the room.

I’d heard it said when you see red it’s because you’re so mad that blood has literally collected in your head and behind your eyes. I didn’t know if that was right. I did know however that that was all I was seeing. I’m sure there was talking. I’m sure I was screaming. I’m positive I broke more than a few of the other girls’ bones.

And then I heard B screaming. So much screaming. I don’t remember when I stopped struggling. I do remember falling to my knees. Ken’s arms around me. My hands over my ears. If I lived to be a hundred years old I will never forget those sounds. I couldn’t block them out. Five minutes of that kind of torture was something I could never forget even if I spent the rest of my life trying to.

At some point, Xander walked out into the hallway. His face was so white I didn’t want to think about what he’d seen. “She’s awake,” he said, still standing there. “I can’t, uh…”he said, falling against the door and passing out.

The girls ran over to him and Kennedy helped me up. She and Satsu followed me back into the room.

I only saw the back of B’s head at first. Dawn was standing in the corner with Andy’s arms around her. Giles was wiping his forehead. And Red, Red was sitting on the floor in the middle of the room sobbing. The other women were standing still, looks of sheer horror on their face, as if they had just seen the devil himself. And I guess they had.

“Buffy?” I asked, and moved around to where she was sitting on the floor. She looked at me like she didn’t know me. Satsu moved but Ken stopped her.

“B?” I tried again. I was kneeling in front of her. My hands on her shoulders. “Buffy?” My voice sounded funny.

Her eyes were open and she wasn’t really blinking. She was just… staring. I couldn’t describe it except to say that she was just blank. And then she fell. It was so slow; it felt like I was watching something in slow motion. Her upper body just collapsed Her head hit my legs and she wrapped her arms around me. I put my hands on her back, and tried to lift her back up.

She wasn’t crying. She was just breathing very hard. I rubbed the back of her head. “Buffy?” I tried, one more time.

“I…” she whispered. “I… can’t,” she mumbled against my leg. And then, just like that, she went limp.

“Buffy?!? B?!?!” I lifted her up. Her eyes were open but she wasn’t moving. She was like a doll in my arms. “Buffy?!? What’s wrong with her, Red???”

Willow crawled over to us. I pulled her onto my lap. I was shaking her.

“Stop,” Red said.

“What is wrong with her!?!”

She put her hands onto the side of B’s head and then turned and looked to Olivia. “She’s gone…” she whispered.

“What??? She’s back there???”

“No,” Red said. “No. She’s not back there. She’s done this to herself. She’s completely catatonic.” She stood up, and looked at Olivia. “Did you know this would happen!?!” She screamed.

“It was a risk.” She stated simply.

I was up before Red could stop me. I got in the old witch’s face. “Well, bring her back!!! Bring her back before I kill you!!!”

“You cannot kill me, Faith. It would be ignorant of you to try. And I cannot bring her back.” She put her hand to her head as if she had a headache. I was about to give this bitch a headache, even if she killed me. “But, you can.”

“What?”

“You can bring her back. Right now, after what she has experienced though, it is best to leave her where she is. If she does not come back on her own, I will show you how to go to her. Frankly, she is safer where she is. She knows that. And I think you do as well.”

I moved away from her and back to Buffy. I picked her up and laid her on the couch. Her eyes were closed now and it was like she was asleep.

I turned to the rest of them. “Please give me something to fucking kill.”

“I’m afraid you may get your wish, Faith.” Olivia said, sighing. “We just need to figure out how.”

“Maybe I can help with that,” A voice said walking into the room.

“Angel!” Dawn cried and ran over to him. She was quickly followed by Red, Kennedy and even Andrew. They all threw their arms around him.

He hugged them and walked over to me. He put his hand on my shoulder and bent down next to Buffy. He kissed her forehead and stood up, giving me a hand.

Forget what I said earlier. I was glad to see his ass. I trusted him more than at least half the people in that room. I wrapped my arms around him and started crying into his chest.

He whispered in my ear. “Remember what I told you a long time ago about redemption, Faith?”

I nodded against him.

“You are about to get your chance.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 7

I Have to Have a Baby

 

Willow magicked a cot into the room soon after Angel arrived.  No one wanted to leave B alone and we certainly weren’t going to leave her on the couch.  I pulled a chair up beside her and sat down with my arms crossed.

 

“Uh… Faith, you can’t stay beside her constantly.  You need to at least move.  When’s the last time you ate?” Kennedy asked.

 

Angel left soon after he popped in with Olivia, Red, and Giles to discuss whatever it was that he knew.  I was glad he got Olivia out of the room because I was close to committing suicide by trying to kill her. She’d known B would most likely do this. She hadn’t cared. Had I mentioned how much I hated witches?  Okay, okay, except for Red. 

 

Dawn crouched down beside me and took B’s hand.  “Faith, seriously, we’re not going to leave her alone.  But you’re going to be a whole lot of no good to us if you don’t sleep and eat.”

 

I was worried about how long Buffy would be like this.  How could she eat?  Red had promised me the spell she’d cast would keep Buffy’s body from becoming weaker. Forgive me though if I didn’t quite trust her at the moment.

 

Kennedy crouched down next to D.  “Look, Andrew brought you something to eat.” She said, holding a piece of pizza. “You’re gonna eat, aren’t you?”

 

I thought about what Angel had said about my chance.  If it was to kill this Kasadya then I hoped it was sooner than later. I wasn’t sure what they saw when they’d dragged me into the hall.  No one would tell me.

 

“She’s going to be okay, Faith.  But you’re scaring me.” Dawn said.  “Please come over and sit down with me on the couch so we can talk about this.”

 

I know Red said that B was fine, but I couldn’t be sure.  It was really cold in this room.  How could she tell if Buffy was cold?  None of what she said to me made any sense.

 

“Faith,” Andy said.  “I just set your Xbox on fire.  I hope you don’t care.” He was waving his hand in front of my face. “Nothing.  You don’t think she’s… like Buffy?”

 

Kennedy jumped up and grabbed my arms.  I felt myself being lifted out of the chair. “Faith!” she screamed.  “Snap the hell out of this!”  She pulled me to her.  “I can’t believe I’m freakin hugging you.  Do you feel that?  Seriously, I am hugging you. And you’re not choking me!” She let me go and I sat back down.

 

“I’m going to get Willow,” Dawn said.

 

“No, let me,” I heard a voice say from behind me and then Jesus god!!! That bitch slapped me.

 

I spun around. “Fuck, Satsu! What the fuck is your problem?!?”

 

She smiled down at the others.  “See… all better,” she smiled and sat on B’s bed.

 

I was holding my cheek.  Jesus Christ that hurt.

 

“I have been wanting to do that all day.  Damn that felt good.”

 

I moved to get up.  I was now going to have to kill her.  It was nice to have a goal.

 

Kennedy grabbed me.  “Oh no you don’t. Shit, I should’ve thought of that,” she said, smirking at Satsu.  “I just tried to hug her.”

 

“Please don’t do it again,” I said, glaring at K.

 

“Are you going to eat and stop acting like a petulant child?”

 

I tried to hold her stare, but she was being all mom-like and it was irksome. “Yes,” I mumbled.

 

“Good,” she said, clapping her hands together.  “Now, Andy, give the girl some food.  At the table on the other side of the room,” she added as an afterthought.

 

I sat down and decided to eat.  I certainly couldn’t kill them all, especially that witch, if I hadn’t eaten.

 

Andrew sat down beside me.

 

“If you’ve set my Xbox on fire, I’m going to do the same to you.”

 

“Stop, dark one.  It was a ploy to revive you. I should have slapped you instead. I am extremely adept at slapping.”

 

I mumbled around the pizza.  “I bet you are.”

 

Xander came in with an icepack on his head.  He looked around the room.  “So was I the only one to do the girlie thing and swoon?” We all nodded at him, “Good, good. Glad to know I’ve still got it.” He looked at Buffy.  “Any difference? I saw Will in the hall.”

 

Kennedy shook her head.  He made eye contact with Dawn and then Andrew.  “You guys,” he shot a glance at me, “okay?”

 

They both nodded.

 

Aw, fuck this.

 

“Tell me what you saw.” I said, looking at them.

 

They all made eye contact, and started that hemming and hawing shit they’re so good at.

 

“I would like to know too,” Satsu said.

 

“See, even the person that just bitchslapped me wants to know.”

 

“Wait? You bitchslapped her?” Xander said.  “And you’re still alive?” He moved to touch her, “Are you magical?”

 

She smiled at him.  If she said anything about being magical in regards to Buffy, I was going to slap her ass through the wall. “Nope, just Japanese,” she said.

 

Damn. So that left me with no opening.

 

“Seriously, guys. What’d you see?” I asked again. I turned to Andrew because he was closest to me.  “You know I can snap you like a twig, little buddy.  You might as well tell me.”

 

“It’s true,” Satsu said from across the room. “She broke about three of the girls’ fingers holding her down.”

 

I raised my eyebrow at him.  “See?”

 

Dawn sighed from across the room.  “Let’s not threaten violence.  It doesn’t matter, Faith.”

 

“Oh god,” Kennedy said. “Just tell her.  Jesus, it’s not like she’s not going to find out.”

 

Dawn sighed. “We saw what he did to her.”

 

“How?” Satsu asked.

 

It was like a mirage.  One minute there would be a… piece of skin peeling off her arm, and then the next, nothing.” Xander said, looking kind of green.

 

I felt the air knocked out of me.  “Are you serious?”

 

Andy nodded. “Yes.  It was… a lot.  At one point these gashes appeared across her face and then they didn’t. We couldn’t see what they were using but we saw what it… did.”  He had gotten quiet.

 

“Damn,” Kennedy whispered.

 

“We just weren’t prepared for it,” Dawn said.  “I closed my eyes.” She had tears in her eyes.

 

“So did I,” Andrew nodded.

 

Xander shook his head.  “I didn’t.”

 

“What else?” I growled at him.

 

“I’m not going to tell you.  I can’t. I wouldn’t know how. If you need any more ammunition to kill him though, come find me and I’ll draw you a picture. But seriously, don’t make me say that stuff out loud.”

 

He really didn’t have to. 

 

“Wow,” Kennedy said.  She turned to look at B. She bent down and moved B’s hair out of her eyes. 

 

Satsu was holding her hand.  And, nope, didn’t like you yet whore.  I moved over and sat back down in my chair.  What? I’d eaten.

 

I leaned down and whispered in B’s ear.  “No one’s gonna hurt you again.  I promise. But you gotta wake up so you can tell me what I need to do.  I know you’re sleepy. That you wanna hide, but you can’t leave me here by myself.  I just gotcha back. Please B.”

 

I sat up but she hadn’t moved.  Neither had Fucksu. I was too tired to care.

 

Red and the rest of them came back in the room soon after. 

 

So?” Ken asked.

 

Willow looked at Angel.  He cleared his throat. “Kasadya is very old.  He is pure evil in corporal form.  He isn’t the First, but if the First had a younger brother it would definitely be Kasadya. Defeating him will not be easy. Based on what Willow’s told me and what I was able to gather through my resources,” he turned to look at me, “you’re the one that has to do it.”

 

“Just point me in the right direction.”

 

He shook his head.  “It isn’t that easy, Faith. You can’t just kill him with a stake. I don’t even know if you can kill him.  But, somehow whatever is happening to Buffy is linked to you.” He sat down next to me. “I do know what he’s trying to do. He has to possess Buffy, completely. He needs a companion.  He can’t walk in this world.”

 

“A companion?” What the fuck was he getting at? “What do you mean a companion? Like a wife or something.”

 

He nodded. “He’s been trying to break her for three years and he’s been unable to.  Even in that world, with no strength he can’t get to her. She defies him at every turn. He’s promised her he would stop. It would all go away. That everything would be over and she’s ran from him for three years.  I’m not sure how close she is to breaking…”

 

“So,” Ken said, “if he gets her to be his companion, then what?  He can enter our world.”

 

“No,” he said, shaking his head.  “But his child can.”

 

Holy. Fucking. Shit.

 

“What?!?” I said, jumping up.  “Are you fucking kidding me???”

 

I saw Xander flinch beside me.

 

Giles sighed. “She has to be willing to accept it. She’s apparently refused for three years. His attacks on her mind have gotten worse though.  He’s most likely tired of wasting time.”

 

“Why Buffy?” Xander asked.

 

“Because she’s the only one strong enough to withstand it.”

 

I turned to Red.  “Is there anyway you can get me into that dimension?  Any?”

 

She shook her head.  “No, Faith. And even if there were, we’d be just sending you to your death.  He’s afraid of you.  I noticed that when Buffy was under.  He called you the other half.  He can’t touch you. Your mind’s too strong for him.”

 

“So, he’s afraid of me.  Why can’t I just go kill him then? Can’t we like lure him here or something?”

 

“I don’t know. Maybe.  It’s possible that’s why he’s afraid.  To get that kind of information, we’d have to send Buf…”

 

“Don’t even think about finishing that sentence,” I growled.

 

She put her fingers to her lips and made a locking motion, throwing the imaginary key over her shoulder.

 

“We weren’t, Faith.  The risks are too high. There is always a chance she will succumb.  If she conceived his child, she would be twice as powerful.  We wouldn’t be able to stop her… or the infant.” Giles finished for her.

 

I sat down and took B’s hand.  So for three years he’d been torturing her.  Trying to demonically get into her pants.  I guess torture is better than sleeping with a demon and having his scary ass demon love child. Maybe he was stupid. She’d refused him for three years and he’d beaten her.  Most men would have just bought her flowers and shit. 

 

There were several emotions running through me.  One was anger, obviously. I needed to kill this thing soon. Every nerve in my body was screaming at me.  The other emotion was bordering on fear.  I didn’t like what he’d done to her.  How had she withstood that, especially if she couldn’t remember it?  He’d picked her because she was strong, but she was also strong enough to refuse him.

 

“Why didn’t he choose someone else?  B is stubborn to say the least.  I’m sure there are plenty of women who’d actually line up to have a demon baby.”

 

Angel sighed. I saw some things hadn’t changed. “He chose her because she was strong and broken.  Everyone has breaking point and she was close when she was in L.A.” He looked down as embarrassed at his lack of sympathy at the time as the rest of us.  “I think that’s why he lured her away from us. But, her body, in this world, it’s strong.  She heals. This baby would, most likely, eat her from the inside.  Literally.” Everyone in the room flinched and made a version of ‘eww’ face.  “Buffy could withstand that.  And she was the original chosen one. Which, from what I can gather, makes her more adaptable to his plan.”

 

“What about Faith?” Ken asked.  “Isn’t she, you know, like Buffy in that regard.”

Angel nodded. “Yes, but… Faith’s difficult. She wasn’t at the brink like Buffy was. He chose Buffy for a reason. He just underestimated her constitution as a human.  She has no slayer powers there.  But she’s still probably one of the most stubborn people on the planet.”

 

“So now what do we do?” Dawn asked.

 

“Well,” Red said.  “We have his name. We know what he’s planning. That’s a lot more than we knew this morning.  We can research now. Between all of us,” she glanced at Olivia and Angel, “we should know enough people to find some things out.”

 

“And Buffy?” Satsu asked.  I really wished she would get off B’s bed.  For some reason seeing her that close to B made me want to repeatedly punch her in the face. And truthfully, I mean she wasn’t like all that bad or anything. I know, I know, shocker, but still… I didn’t think I would have hated her if she hadn’t been… okay, now I had mental images of her and B.  Yep, still wanted to kill her.

 

“We let her rest tonight,” Olivia said.

 

Giles nodded. “I agree.  I think that the rest of us should research. Faith?” He turned to me. “I’d like you to stay here in case she wakes up.  If you need anything, please call us.  The rest of us should get to the library.”

 

I nodded. There were a few ‘I hate research’ grumbles, but nothing major. Even Sats got up and left with them. Of course she was staring at me like a damn maniacal ninja the whole time, but whatever.

 

I scooted my chair closer to B’s bed.  I was still holding her hand but my eyes were so heavy.  I guess today had been a little more taxing than I thought…

 

 

…And fuck, ooookay…. Where was I?

 

I was standing in an empty room. There was a window on the opposite wall and I could barely see except for the moonlight peering through.

 

I turned around, looking for a light. How the hell had I gotten here?

 

“There isn’t a light. Don’t bother.” I heard B.

 

“Buffy?!?  What the hell? Where are we?!?”

 

“My mind,” she sighed.

 

I could hear her, but I couldn’t see her.  I blinked a few times, trying to let my eyes adjust to the dark.  I finally saw her sitting against a corner on the opposite side of the room.

 

“Are you okay?” I asked, walking over.

 

She chuckled.  “What do you think?  I’m sitting here in an abandoned house, in the middle of an abandoned field. In. My. Mind.” She spoke slowly, like maybe I wasn’t able to follow or something.  “So, no… we are going to go with the theory that Buffy is definitely not okay.”

 

I bent down in front of her. She had on a white dress. It was ripped in several places. She was a canvas of bruises under that dress though.  I’d never seen a body so beaten.  I went to touch her and she jerked back violently.  “Sorry,” I whispered, pulling back my hand.  “So, why am I here?”

 

She wrapped her arms around her knees and rested her head on them.  She looked up at me.  “No clue,” she said simply. “Maybe you came to talk me out of staying here?”

 

“Can I?  Talk you out of it, I mean?”

 

She shrugged.  “I don’t know.  I kind of like it here.  It’s warm and there’s no one else. Well, except you. But you’re just sleeping. You’ll leave when you wake up.”

 

“Do you want me to go?”

 

She shrugged again. “Maybe.  Maybe not.  You don’t hurt me.  And you’re pretty. Sometimes pretty things make the ugly better.”

 

She was talking in circles. I was having a hard time following her. “You’re pretty too.”

 

“I used to be. Now I have those shadows inside. Did you see him, Faith? He was so mean to me. He can’t find me here though. No one can.”

 

“Except me,” I offered.

 

“Except you.  But you won’t hurt me.”

 

“Never,” I whispered.

 

“One time you wanted to. But you hurt yourself instead. You always hurt yourself. I’m sorry for that.”

 

“Me too.” I sat down beside her. “Why don’t you come back with me?”

 

“I don’t want to. I don’t want a baby. I would be a bad, bad mother.”

 

I sighed.  It was hard talking to her like this.  “You don’t have to, Buffy.  I’m not gonna let that happen.  But you have to come back.  We sort of need you.”

 

“No, not yet.  I’m okay here.  You don’t need me.  He can’t get me here, Faith. So then I won’t have to have a baby.” She turned suddenly, and put her hands on the sides of my head. She kissed my forehead. “You love me,” she said simply.

 

“Is that a question?”

 

She shook her head and sat back. “No.  I know.  I’m glad.”

 

“So, I do.  I love you, B.  But you’ve got to come back with me.” 

 

“You’re going to wake up soon,” she whispered.  “But, I’m glad you told me.”

 

I noticed I was now standing in the middle of the room.  “Will I see you again?”

 

She sighed.  “I don’t know if I’ll be here.”

 

“Where’re you gonna be?” I asked.  Her voice was scaring me.

 

“Somewhere else…”

 

 

 

“…she’s awake!” Ken shouted.

 

I sat up suddenly and turned to check on Buffy.  She hadn’t moved.

 

“Are you okay?” Angel asked.

 

I nodded. “Why are you all staring at me like that? What time is it?” I noticed everyone but me had changed clothes.

 

Red looked concerned.  “You’ve been asleep for at least twelve hours Faith.”

 

What. The. Hell.

 

“We couldn’t wake you,” Dawn cried. 

 

“I’m okay,” I scratched out hoarsely. I stood.

 

“Is she,” I motioned with my head towards B, “any different?”

 

Angel shook his head.  Andrew ran up to me with coffee and something to eat.

 

“Eat,” Ken said. 

 

I nodded, starving.  After eating, I told them what I’d seen.  I noticed that Olivia and several of the other women were there.

 

“It’s amazing, really.” She said.  “I can’t believe you were able to go to her on your own.”

 

“What do you think she meant about not being there?” Giles asked.

 

“I don’t know.” I was mad at myself for several reasons at this point. The biggest, though, was that I could get her to come back. I turned to look at her.  “I need a shower,” I said.  “Can I trust you people not to make any rash decisions while I’m gone?”

 

“Is it going to take you an hour and a half?” Xander asked.

 

“No,” I said, moving to the door.  “I’ll really be back in thirty.”

 

Fifteen minutes later with wet hair and new clothes, I walked down the stairs to screaming.  I had just fucking told them not to do anything.  Jesus Christ, couldn’t a girl just take a fuckin shower?

 

I heard the fucking witches chanting and ran through the door.  Ken grabbed me. “No! Stay here.”

 

“What did you guys do!?!”

 

“Nothing. Nothing!  I swear.  One minutes she was fine and the next she was seizing!”

 

I tried to fight her, and then I heard Red yell, “Kennedy, she’s awake.”

 

We both ran into the room.  Buffy was sitting up on the floor.  From the looks of things, she’d been thrown off the bed.  The witches were looking at her in awe.  The rest of them had pretty much the same reaction as yesterday.

 

I ran up to her. “B?!? Are you okay?!?”

 

She turned to me and smiled sadly.  “I had to go back. I’m sorry.  I knew you wouldn’t let me,” She looked around the room, “None of you would. But we didn’t know enough.”

 

Olivia and a few of the other hell sisters nodded.  What the fuck? She chose to go back there?  Why? “Why?”

 

She tried to stand up and stumbled.  I caught her. She leaned on me and we walked to the couch so that she could sit.  “I know how to defeat him.” She said simply.

 

“How?” Half the room asked simultaneously. 

 

“I have to have a baby.”

 

I am pretty damn sure there is absolutely nothing that could have come out of her mouth that would’ve shocked me more than that.  If she thought she was having this bastard’s kid, she had totally gone around the bend.  She was gonna have to kill me first.  Because there was no way in eight hundred kinds of hell that I was gonna let that fuckin happen.

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 8
I’m So Far From Okay; It’s On Another Continent

“Uhhhh…” Red stuttered. “What do you mean, Buff?” She was talking to B like she was a few cards short of a deck.

“I have to get pregnant,” Buffy said, and sat back.

“Buffy,” Giles said, “that is entirely the worst thing you could do. If you were to conceive a child with Kasadya, you would bring about an apocalypse we would be unable to stop. You would not fight with us. This child would poison you.”

Buffy shook her head. “You don’t understand. Not his baby. A baby.”

“Right, right,” Xander said, looking over at B’s shoulder at me. “A baby. Right.” His face was asking me -‘Do you think she’d gone mad?’

I decided to just bite the bullet and go ahead and ask. “Whose baby, then?”

“Yours.” She said simply.

Yeah…okay… so yeah… my baby. Righttttt…..

Dawn looked confused. “So, Faith’s gonna have a baby?” She asked.

Buffy shook her head, getting exasperated. “No, no. Me. I am.”

“Okay,” Kennedy said. “But you just said… Faith… are you going to like takes Faith’s baby and put it in your belly?”

“…uterus.” Red mumbled.

Kennedy rolled her eyes, “Exxxcuse me… uterus?”

Buffy sighed as dramatically as I’d ever seen her. She stood up. She was either really lost in thought or her head wasn’t hurting. “I have to be pregnant before I sleep with him. Then he’ll think the baby is his. He won’t harm me if I’m pregnant. And he can only come here once the baby’s born. Then we can kill him,” she finished and stopped pacing.

Red and Giles stared at each other. “That’s actually…” Red started.

“… quite bloody brilliant.” G finished.

Buffy let out the breath she was holding.

The rest of us were looking around at each other trying to process what they were saying.

“It can’t be a human baby, though,” Red said. “I mean he would see that immediately.” She walked up and hugged B. “I can’t believe this… but you’ve figured it out. This really might work.”

“Hold up,” Kennedy said. “So it has to be Faith’s baby? Really? I mean… really?”

Angel smirked. “It makes perfect sense. Faith scares him. The baby would be powerful enough to cloak and he wouldn’t be any the wiser. It’s so simple.”

I stood up. “Wait, wait, wait…” I held up my hands and started pacing. “Seriously, just… wait. I don’t think this… I mean we shouldn’t…” I was breathing too fast. I couldn’t catch my breath. I bent over.

“She’s hyperventilating!” Andy yelled.

Someone ran out of the room. Next thing I knew, Andy was handing me a bag. I took it and breathed into it. It took me a bit to get myself settled.

I moved the bag when B touched me. “Are you okay, Faith?”

I nodded, mutely and moved around her to sit down.

“Buffy…” I heard Satsu growl. “Even if… even if you could have another woman’s baby…”

B looked at her and then looked at Red. “Faith is stronger.”

Or you love me, B? Why don’t you say that shit out loud instead? I would have voiced this but I had just about suffocated so I stayed silent.

Satsu looked at B and just shook her head and walked out. “Why am I still here?” She muttered.

Uh, don’t know. Maybe she should, you know, like… fuckin leave!

Oh yeah, baby! “I… I don’t know about this. In case no one noticed, I don’t actually have the equipment you’d need to make a baby… thank god,” I added as an afterthought.

Willow raised her hand dismissively, “Oh don’t worry about that…” She turned to B. “You would still have to…”

Don’t worry about that – I didn’t like the sounds of that.

“I know I’d still have to... sleep with him,” B nodded. “But, don’t you think the baby, if it’s Faith’s, it would be able to keep me from…”

“…falling under his spell.” Giles finished for her. He needed to let people finish. That shit drove me nuts.

Wait, what???

“What??? You mean she’d still have to fuck him?”

Everyone gasped. Ken rolled her eyes.

“Oh really, I just shocked you…”I threw my hands up. “Excuse me. I’m glad out the whacked out conversation we’ve been sitting here having that the word fuck is what does it.” I sat down and crossed my arms. So what, I was pouting. I didn’t give a shit.

“I just said that,” Buffy said. I could tell she was getting frustrated. Well excuse the fuck out of me… I had a lot to process. Oh wait…

“Oh hell no! You are not having sex with this demon, Buffy. Hell no. Nope. Nuh uh! Not going to happen.” I was shaking my head back and forth.

“Faith,” she took my hands. “You don’t have a say in this.” She attempted to pull me closer, but I fought her off.

“Excuse me?!? I don’t have say in whether or not we send you back, again, to a fucking hell dimension so that you can have… whatever it is he’s gonna do to you? Is everyone here insane?!?” I looked around the room.

“I want to go on record and say that I agree with Faith. This sounds incredibly stupid,” Kennedy said, raising her hand. She walked over to stand beside me.

“No one said it would pleasant, Faith,” Red tried, giving Kennedy her patented stare. “But we don’t have a choice.”

I threw my arms up again. “Oh my god! We never have a choice, huh? I’m real tired of you telling me we don’t have a choice.” I stopped moving, and looked around at all of them. “Well, here’s my choice. There is no way in hell you all are getting anything out of me, magical or otherwise, to make a fucking baby with.” Red went to speak, but I shot her a glare. “I am not fucking kidding. I. Refuse. Do you hear me, Red? Giles? I fuckin say no! So you just best put your noses back in you books and figure out another way.”

“We’d need someone else then…” Angel said.

I spun on him so fast he jumped back. “Oh you’d just fuckin love that, wouldn’t you? Star-crossed lovers and all that bullshit! Please. Be my fuckin guest. Lose you soul. Send her back to make monkey love with a goddamn demon. I am fuckin done!” I looked around the room. “Do you hear me!?! Fucking done!”

I ran out of the room as fast I could. I’d been in that fuckin castle for two days and I was tired of it. I needed a good slay, or lay, or I didn’t know… fuckin something.

“Faith,” I heard D behind me. “Jesus Christ you’re fast.” She said, breathing hard.

I shot her a glare. “Go back inside, Dawn.”

“Buffy’s asking for you.”

“Oh, okay. Well let me just mosey on back in there and kiss her feet,” I turned around and started to storm off then thought better of it. I spun back on her. “You know what? I don’t give a shit. She’s gone insane. And everyone in there is along for the ride apparently. But here’s the thing, Dawnie, I’m not hopping a ride on the crazy coaster known as Buffy. I prefer my sanity. It took me a helluva long time to get it.” I turned my back on her.

“Faith?” I heard B ask. I could feel her ass walking up beside Dawn. Well, screw you sister, cause there is no way in hell I was having a conversation with you.

“Leave me alone, B.”

“Dawn go inside,” she said. “Faith, you need to listen to me.” Buffy sighed.

“I heard everything you said in there,” I growled back.

“No, you didn’t. Listen to me.” I kept my back to her. “Okay, well I’ll talk to your back. If he’s able to accomplish this, and his child is born, we would have no chance. Any of us. So we only have a couple of choices here. One is my solution, which you quickly dismissed, and I get why, but listen anyway. Another is that I can keep having seizures until he kills me. Now, he won’t get his child, but hey, he’ll move on, find someone new, probably you honestly, and he’ll start this all over again. Angel said the last slayer he tried this with he killed. Accidentally. Do you hear me? So we can go that route. But it’s not going to stop him. It might buy you guys some time though… so I’m gonna let you decide.”

I turned around. “What?”

“You decide. Simple. My plan or yours? It’s up to you. I’ll do whatever you want. I’m frankly very tired of all of this. If death is my gift, so be it. If it’s having a child, so be it. I don’t care anymore. If you choose the second, I want it to be yours,” she said softly. “We have a better chance of defeating him. If you don’t want that, I’ll find some other way. But the child needs to be strong. And you’re the strongest person I know.” She put her hand on my face. “But I’m tired, Faith. I’m just so tired. And I don’t want to be anymore. So make a choice. You said you never have one – well now you do.”

She turned around and walked off.

I sat down on the grass. I didn’t want to go back inside. Not yet. “Fuckkkkk!!!!” I screamed as loud as I could. I didn’t have a choice. B had given me a choice, but her dying… seriously, that was not an option. Damn it, sometimes I hate when I get what I wish for because it definitely has a way of biting me squarely on the ass.

 

I walked back inside about thirty minutes later. Everyone was still in the room. Even Satsu came back. I noticed she was not making eye contact with B. I shook my head; it didn’t matter.

Everyone was staring at me. “Ugh. Just what the hell ever, Red. I’ll do it. But listen to me,” I growled. “If you give me some sort of magical penis without my knowledge you’re going to wake up one day with some not so magical brain damage.”

“Got it. No magical penis.” Red said.

B was sitting on the couch with Satsu. She turned to me and smiled weakly. “Thank you,” she said. I chose not to respond. I was still highly pissed and more than highly freaked out.

“So…” Dawn said, clapping her hands together.

“So…” Xander added.

“Yeah…” Andrew said looking around.

“Oh screw it,” Ken said. “How do we get Buffy pregnant?” Red shot her a glare. “Wait,” she said backing up, her hands in the air. “Not we, we, as in me. I’m not trying to get Buffy pregnant. Yuck.” Buffy huffed. “Not that you aren’t hot. Cause you are hot. I bet you looked super hot with red hair.” Then Red huffed. This was getting entertaining. “But not hot like you babe. No one is…”She looked at me like, save me.

Okay, she was my friend. “Yeah, what she said.” I nodded at her.

She let out a deep breath and mouthed thank you over Red’s head.

“We should be able to take Faith’s DNA from her ovaries and merge it with Buffy’s egg. We can then do a spell to merge the two, essentially turning Faith’s ovum into sperm.” She nodded like she was making perfect sense. “The baby would definitely be a girl, but she’d be a slayer too. Possibly not at first though. I don’t know about that.”

“Okay, so after she has this baby, and then Faith slays this Kasadya dude, then what?” Xander asked. “I mean, then what do we do with the baby?”

“We eat it,” Red said.

Oh my god. Was she fuckin serious?

She was laughing. Okay, probably not. “I’m kidding,” she said, patting Xand’s arm and trying to rub some color back into him. “What do you mean what do we do with it? We raise it. It’s a baby.”

Kennedy stepped back. “Who raises it? Us? Andy and Xand?” Xander cleared his throat. Ken ignored him. “Buffy? Faith? Buffy and Faith? Buffy and Satsu?” She started pacing, “Satsu and Faith?” Satsu and I cringed at the same time. “Seriously. You can’t just bring a baby into the world. I realize this is the best way, and all, but we need to all think about this.” Hello, voice of reason, thy name is Kennedy. And that’s why she was my best friend.

Buffy looked from Satsu to me, and back again. Satsu and I made eye contact. And yep, she felt the same way as I did. Go ahead, B… This was all your ball and your court.

“I… uh…” Buffy sighed. “I haven’t thought that far ahead.”

Satsu sighed. “You really should, Buffy. I would obviously not be opposed to raising you child,” she smiled at her.

I popped up. “Uh, yeah! Opposed! I’m opposed! She’s not raising my child. I will be doing that. Since you know, my child and all.” Fuck you, Satsu. Just… fuck you.

“You know,” Dawn said. “I realize that this baby is needed and all, but have any of you thought about the danger you will be putting her in later. I mean, hello – slayers’ baby? – every demon in the northern hemisphere would be after it.”

“She would be protected here,” Giles said thoughtfully.

“Who’s to say she’d live here?” Satsu asked.

“Well obviously she’d live here.” Kennedy said. “What are you going to do with her? Take her on ‘Buffy and Satsu’ tour the world, Episode twelve thousand.”

“We do have a house,” Satsu growled.

Kennedy nodded. “Right, right. In London. That we found with little problem. And walked straight into, also with no problem.”

“Your girlfriend is good with the magic. She could protect our house.” Satsu offered.

I stood up and looked at B. “You tell me what you want. I’m tired of this.”

“I want…” she started crying and got up and ran to me. “Here. I want to be here,” she said, burying her face against me. “Please don’t make me leave,” she whispered.

I wrapped my arms around her and picked her up, the grin of a woman who’d just won plastered on my face, and buried my nose in her hair.

I heard scuffling and Satsu storming out, but my eyes were closed.

Giles cleared his throat.

And so did Angel. “Answered that question, huh?” He asked.

Dawn let out a breath. “Thank god. I am so tired of the moping, Faith. Three years of pining, gone.” And she jumped up, smiling. “And I’m gonna be an aunt! I forgot.”

“Well, yes, yes. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.” Giles said, cleaning his… you know what? I’ll let you guess.

Buffy’s face was buried in my neck. I felt her lips move against my neck. “I love you.”

I wish they’d all just leave. I could hold her here forever, but not if these jackasses kept talking. I just wanted to hold her. Because now I was thinking back. Back to the part where she had to have sex with this demon. I wanted to kill him now more than ever.

“Um… so yeah, you two can pull away now.” Ken said smirking at me. She had slayer hearing and she had definitely heard B. She patted me on the back. “Congratulations, Dad.” Willow rolled her eyes at her. “What? She’s not the mom. Whatever. I’m just offering congrats.”

“We have to get her pregnant first.” Angel said.

Uh not we you big, dark, broody bastard. Not we.

B and I both turned to Red. “Yeah. The two of you, and the coven, will uh… work on that part. We’ll cast a spell. Don’t worry, you’ll both be asleep…”

Okay, so shoot me, but seriously… I thought we’d at least get to have sex. And I didn’t want to do that with the nasty coven in the room. Sorry if I’m old-fashioned.

“Oh man… so no sex?” Ken thoughtfully voiced what I couldn’t say.

Red nodded, and then shook her head. “Uh not really. But kind of. It’s hard to explain.” She sighed. “Not traditional sex anyway. Not that lesbian sex is considered traditional really... But no, not like you and I do it I mean.” Her face was starting to get red. “More like mystical sex I mean. Like they will not be having… of the sex… but they will… feel things… like of the sex. Or some of the sex. The good of the sex…” She sat down and covered her face. “Please kill me.” No one offered. “So, I mean, we’ll have to be in the room. The coven. Not everyone. They don’t need to see it…” She moaned and stood up and sat down again.

“You mean, I can’t watch?” Ken sat down next to Red. “Come on, seriously? How fair is that?”

Red was shaking her head violently. I had to admit, if it weren’t for the fact she’d just freaked me out, I’d have been amused.

Buffy must have felt more sorry for her than I did. She moved and sat down on the other side of her. “When?” B asked, putting her hand on Red’s knee.

Red sighed and put her hand on B’s stomach. “Now. Or, well this time next month. You’re ovulating.”

“Eww,” Dawn, Kennedy, and Xander all burst out at the same time.

“Whoa, hold up. Like right now?” I asked. Hello, needed to process.

“Well no, not like right this second, but yeah… now.” Red offered none to helpfully.

Buffy stood up. “Okay. I need to… uh…” She turned to look at me. “I need to go talk to Satsu.”

Of course she did. Whatever. “Whatever, B.” I said, dismissing her with my hand.

She frowned at me and then walked out of the room.

“I’m going to call Olivia,” Giles said. I’d just noticed she wasn’t in the room. “Tonight?” He asked Willow.

“Yeah. It’s our best chance.” Red nodded.

“Right. I will tell them tonight then.” He moved to leave. “I… well… I don’t know what to say at the moment, but I suppose, congratulations?” He asked, looking at me.

“Go to hell, G.” I answered in return.

“Yes, yes,” he mumbled, walking out of the room.

Angel walked over and patted me on my shoulder. “Congrats.”

“Shut up, fang.” I said, snarling. “I blame this on you.”

“Me, why me?”

“Because you don’t live here.”

He looked at me like I was drunk. Hell, I felt drunk. Actually, drunk was a good idea.

Dawn chuckled. “That doesn’t make any sense.”

“I don’t care.” My voice was very close to whining.

“Are you okay?” Xander asked, putting his arm around my shoulder.

“Okay?!? Really?!? Do you think I’m fuckin okay? No, no I am not okay.” I started pacing the room. “Want me to list the reasons?” They were all staring at me. “Baby, anyone??? What the hell do any of us know about a baby? And not one we wanted. Just one we need to defeat the next fucking evil that’s been dropped on our doorstep. Oh, and after we get all mystically pregnant with half that creepy ass coven looking on… then, well then we send B back down there and she has to have sex with a demon! Oh my god, I am so far from okay, it’s on another continent.”

“So we can safely assume you’re not okay, then?” Kennedy asked.

“Ugh… I’m glad you find this so damn amusing.”

“Well, look at it this way,” she thought for a second. “You’re going to…well, at least… if you… oh shit, I don’t know.” She sighed. “We’ll get through it.”

Dawn nodded. “Yeah, you’ve got us.”

“And I actually do know a thing or two about babies,” Andrew piped in. “She’ll be fine. So will you.”

“Come on, Faith, thank about it,” Xander said. “A little Buffy or Faith running around the castle. Ha. A little mini-you, complete with stubbornness and probably a foul mouth… if you are allowed to speak around her. I kind of can’t wait.” He smiled at me.

“I guess,” I muttered.

 

It had been two hours since B had gone to talk to Satsu. Red and Giles were still doing whatever the hell it is that they do. We were playing pool in the game room when she found us.

“Hey,” she said quietly, walking in.

“Hey,” I mumbled. What? I was pissed.

“Everything okay, Buff?” Xander asked.

She nodded, looking at me. “I just needed to explain some things to her. I think she… I think she understands. She’s not happy, but I imagine that’s to be expected.”

“Where is she?” Angel asked.

Buffy sat down and ran her fingers through her hair. “Well, right now she is in the training room beating the hell out of a punching bag. That she named Faith. Also she found a picture of you in the hallway upstairs, so she taped it to the bag. She’s really thorough sometimes,” B mused. “Anyway, she does understand. She’s staying here. To help when the time comes. If that’s okay?” She asked everyone in the room but she was looking at me.

“Sure.”

“Of course.”

“The more the merrier.”

“Whatever,” I added to the litany of ‘why yes, let’s let Satsu stay. We’ll have a party’ chorus around me.

Buffy put her hand on mine. “If it makes you uncomfortable, I can tell her to go. No questions asked.”

Great. Here’s another one of those fuckin choices that bites me in the ass. “No, it’s all good. We’ll need her.”

She patted my hand. “Good. Uh… can we talk?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“Well that’s our cue, guys,” Xander said.

Everyone moved to leave but Ken. Dawn grabbed her. “Come on.”

“What, I’m interested!”

“Get out.” I said.

“You are such a fun sucker sometimes, Faith.” She turned to Buffy. “You know, you’ve made the right choice. I think it’s important someone told you that.” She motioned to me, “Obviously Sulky Mcsulkster over here has her head up her ass. I find in times like these, I am her voice of reason.”

“Ugh... and annoyance.”

She nodded wisely before turning to go, “Yeah. That too probably.”

Buffy turned to me after everyone left. “You okay?”

“I really wish people would stop asking me that.”

She nodded. “I know; I guess things are moving kind of fast.”

“I’m worried…”

“About?”

“Everything. You. The baby. Him hurting you. Or her.”

She nodded. “Lots of things to consider.”

“Yeah and we don’t have time.”

“Well,” she smiled. “We’ll have nine months to prepare.”

I frowned. “That really doesn’t seem like that long.”

“I know, but in the life of a slayer it kinda is. Would you rather it be… you know, someone else’s?” She looked down.

Aw shit. Now I’d gone and upset her. “No! Umm… no. Not at all. I just think this is the kind of decision people wait to make.” She started to speak, but I stopped her. “I get it though. We don’t have time. I’m not letting him hurt you anymore. So we can’t wait. I just can’t think about… I mean; he’s going to get there first. How fucked up is that? That I’m worried about that, I mean?”

“He doesn’t have to…” she whispered, standing up and taking my hand.

Chapter Text

Chapter 9

 

So yeah, B and I… I’m not gonna tell you because it’s sort of mine, you know? It was kinda everything I imagined. And nothing I imagined. She was so soft. But not soft at all. I could’ve died right there in my bed, her snuggled up against me.  I didn’t think anyone would’ve blamed me.

 

“Yo!” We heard. Someone was knocking on the door. “Cover up, seriously, cause Will and I are coming in.”

 

Buffy groaned. So did I.

 

The door flung open a few seconds later. 

 

“Do you know how long I’ve been holding her back?” Ken smiled.  “Luckily I have slayer hearing.  She totally would have barged in here.” She shook her head, taking in the sight of the two of us, huddled under the blanket. “You know?  Maybe I should have let her.”

 

Red’s face was the color of her hair.  To be honest, so was B’s.  And mine too, I’m sure.

 

“So you need to get dressed.  They’ll be here in ten. We can just use your room, since you’re already here and all.” Red said.

 

We made our way to the bathroom.  Sure enough, ten minutes later there was the merry band of wiccans in my bedroom.

 

Red stayed. So did Ken.  I raised my eyebrow at her.  “Sorry.  You got down voted.”

 

Whatever, I didn’t really care.  What was one more person to add to my embarrassment?

 

“Faith if you will lie down please?” Olivia asked.  “You’re going to get sleepy in a moment.  Don’t fight it.”  She turned to B. “Lie on top of her.”

 

What? “What?” B asked.

 

She sighed. “It’s just easier. Please do it.”

 

Buffy didn’t argue and crawled on top of me.  I put my arms around her.  She laid her head on my chest and the last thing I heard was “Are we all ready?”

 

 


 

 

I woke to a feeling that was quite the opposite of uncomfortable.  I could feel Buffy on top of me.  She was pressed so hard into me that it was all that I could feel. I vaguely recall chanting, but it was almost like it was in a different room.  I could hear her breathing. Gasps of breathe in my ear.  I was so close to…

 

“… all over,” I heard.

 

My eyes shot open.  “What?!?”

 

B jumped off of me like I was on fire.  “Whoa,” she said. 

 

My sentiments exactly.

 

“So,” Ken offered from a chair in the corner of the room.  “That was incredibly weird.”

 

I sat up next to Buffy.  “Yeah.”

 

Red walked over to her and put her hand on B’s stomach.  She looked up and nodded at the other women in the room. “Yep.”

 

Seriously, that fast?  “Doesn’t it take like 72 hours or something?” I asked.  They looked at me funny.  “What? I watch TV.”

 

Red nodded. “Normally, but… not now. She’s definitely in there.”

 

“So now what?” Buffy asked.

 

“We wait for him to call you?” Olivia said.  “Hopefully soon.  Otherwise, we’ll have to find a way to send you to him.”

 

B grabbed her head.  “Uh, I don’t think you’ll have to…” And then she was gone.

 

I went to grab her and Red threw me off.  “Get her out!” She yelled at Ken.

 

The women started chanting again and I watched Buffy.  Kennedy was only half-assed pulling me out of the room at that point, as curious as I was. 

 

And then it happened.  The guys were right. You could see what he was doing to her. Like a mirage, Xand had called it. Except now… now he wasn’t torturing her.

 

She started moaning before I could process what was happening.  The next moment she was writhing around on the bed. A lot like she’d been doing not so very long ago with me.  I didn’t know how long it went on.  I think I just stood there with so much disgust and such hateful rage trying to spill out that I was really unable to move.

 

Nothing could have prepared for the sound I heard next.

 

See, me and Buffy? Just slept together, right? She’d made that sound with me when… Fuck this.  I ran passed Ken and out of the room.

 

We had rooms in the other wing of the castle.  For visiting slayers and the like.  I made myself run all the way to the other side.  A lot fuckin longer than it sounds, let me tell you.  I ran into the last one on the hallway, found the bathroom, and lost my lunch.

 

I shut the door and locked it.  It was probably an hour later before anyone found me.

 

“Faith! Unlock this damn door!” I heard Ken shout.

 

I ignored her.

 

“Faith!” I heard scuffling outside.  “Oh screw it, just move.” And then the door shattered.  “Sorry about that, Xand,” K said, patting him on the arm. “You’ll have to replace it.”

 

She came in with Andy and Xander.  “Get the fuck out,” I muttered.

 

“Faith, you’ve got to talk to Buffy.  She knows what you saw.”

 

“Good.”

 

“It’s not good,” Xander said.  “She’s upset.”

 

“I don’t give a shit.”

 

They looked at each other. “I’m sorry.” Ken said. “I know that was hard to see. But it’s over now.”

 

“Please just get out.”  I followed them out and went into the next empty bedroom.  “And don’t break this fuckin door.  It’s my new room. There’s no way in hell, I’m sleeping in that room again.”

 

I walked in and shut the door.  I couldn’t believe what I’d seen. I couldn’t get the fuckin memory out of my head.  I looked around the room. This was a visiting watcher’s room. It meant it had… oh, I found it! Great a cabinet. Full of liquor. At least one thing was going my way.

 

I tore off the label and downed half the bottle of bourbon.  It burned like a son of a bitch going down but it numbed me pretty quickly.

 

I took the bottle back with me to the bed and lay back.

 

“Faith?” I heard a whisper and a knock on the door.  It was Buffy.

 

I didn’t say anything.

 

“Faith, really, it’s not like I don’t know you’re in there.”  She sighed.  “Please?” Her voice was so soft I could barely hear her.  It was obvious she was crying.   “I’m leaving. I’m going to stay with Olivia for a while.  If you don’t want me to, come out here and tell me.”

 

She didn’t say anything else, but I could hear her breathing.  The fuck I was going out there.  I couldn’t even look at her.  “I guess that answers my question.”  She must have stood out there for ten more minutes before I felt her leave. I was beyond giving a shit.

 


 

Two Days Later

 

I felt someone shaking me.

 

“Jesus Christ! How much did she drink?”

 

“How many bottles were in here, Giles?”

 

“Twelve.”

 

“What the fuck, Giles? Are you trying to turn every watcher into an alcoholic? Faith, you need to wake up?” Ken was shaking me. “Do something Will!?!”

 

“Get her in the bathtub!”

 

Ken picked me up; the next thing I knew I was vomiting up apparently twelve bottles of alcohol.  Then they turned on the showerhead.

 

Kennedy was still shaking me.  “Stop shaking her!” Red yelled.

 

“Please stop shaking me,” I answered weakly.

 

“Oh my god! Oh my god!” Ken said grabbing me and hugging me.  “I thought you were dead.  Jesus!” She put me down.  And then decked me across the cheek.

 

“Fuck!” I grabbed my cheek.  “What the fuck is wrong with you?”

 

“Are you serious? What’s wrong with me?  If you weren’t a slayer your dumb ass would be dead.  What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with you?” She was screaming.

 

I put my head in my hands.  “Shit. Stop yelling.  I have a headache.”

 

“Good. I’m glad you have a headache. I hope it hurts. You stupid idiot. Stupid, stupid, just… ugh. Stupid.” She shook her head.

 

Red threw some clothes at me.  “Get a shower. Get dressed.  And get downstairs.  It’s not an option.” Her eyes flashed black and I nodded.  “I’ll magic that headache away when you show me your responsible enough to do what I just asked.”  Shit she was mad.

 

I half crawled downstairs about thirty minutes later.  Everyone was in the room, even Satsu.  Everyone except B.  And Dawn.

 

“Dawn went with her,” Xander said, realizing who I was looking for.

 

“Whatever,” I muttered, sitting down.  I was still holding my head.  It still fucking hurt.

 

“Here,” Andrew said, handing me a bottle of water and crackers.  “Eat.  You’re dehydrated.”

 

I nodded slowly and took what he offered.  I could feel everyone watching me. 

 

“Red?” I asked. I knew I had puppy dog eyes, but Jesus Christ my head hurt.

 

“Oh fine,” she mumbled and waved her hand.

 

And headache – gone.  Feeling like shit – still there.

 

I looked around the room.  They were all sort of staring at me with looks of disgust.  And pity. Even fuckin Satsu.  Great.

 

“What?” I mumbled.

 

“Buffy’s fine. In case you’re wondering,” Kennedy scoffed.

 

“Wasn’t.” I muttered.  “So, is this the meeting where we all share our feeling and how I fucked up?”

 

Giles shook his head.  “No, Faith. We have a vamp uprising. We need you focused. The thing with you and Buffy and Kasadya is secondary right now.”

 

“Okay. Fill me in.”

 


 

Five months later

 

“You kick like a girl, Satsu.” I said, between breaths.

 

“I am a girl, Faith,” she countered, bent over with her hands on her knees.

 

We were sparring.  She and I’d come to an understanding.  I wouldn’t kill her. She wouldn’t try to kill me. It worked.

 

It had been five months since I saw B.  I’m not sure how you do the math.  Red had explained to me one time that women were really ten months pregnant. Cause nine full months equaled ten or some shit.  I was confused. Why’d they call it nine months then? Apparently she was doing okay. Or so they told me.

 

Everyone had visited her.  Red, Giles, Ken, even Satsu. Andrew had been making some kind of stupid outfit for the baby.  Xander was building a crib that looked like I could crawl in it.  I ignored it all.

 

They’d tried to get me to go at first.  I refused. They finally stopped trying. I never asked for information but they’d willingly provided it over and over again. 

 

“I hate to interrupt the love fest you two are having, but you need to come upstairs,” Ken said, running in the room.

 

Great. Probably another vamp party. I was getting tired of these fuckers trying to open up some portal or some shit.  But hey, at least it kept me busy.

 

Kennedy ran back up the stairs and so we thought it was pretty important and ran behind her. She wasn’t often dramatic.

 

Once we got upstairs though, I realized why.  There in the middle of the library was Buffy. 

  

“Hi,” she said, shyly.

 

“Hey,” I answered. She was pregnant. I mean, come on, I knew she was pregnant, but she was pregnant.  Like with a belly and shit.  She’d let her hair go its natural color.  Somewhere between red and blonde. She was cute.  I shook my head. Didn’t want to go there. “Where’s the fire?” I said, turning to Giles.

 

I heard Buffy gasp.  Fuck if I cared.

 

“Ah yes, well umm Kasadya contacted Buffy last night,” he said.

 

“What?” I said, spinning around to look at her.

 

She nodded. “He was checking on me.  Umm to see about the baby.  He wanted to make sure it… uh she was okay.  He doesn’t suspect anything.”

 

“So that’s it, then?”

 

She looked crestfallen.  Again, fuck if I cared.

 

I finally saw Dawn.  “No, Faith, that is not in fact ‘it.’  If he’s calling her, she’s having the seizures again.  It’s not good for the baby.  But she can’t tell him that.  You can keep her from having them though.  Keep her from going back. So you need to get over whatever it is that’s bothering you.” She walked up to me.  “Because whether or not you like it, my sister is carrying your baby.  And she’s in danger. Both of them are. We don’t have a lot of time for drama and drinking ourselves into comas.”

 

I winced. I hadn’t wanted either of them to know that.

 

“So, I guess you’re back then?” I said, looking at B.

 

She nodded. She had tears in her eyes.

 

I turned to walk out of the room.  “Right. Call me if she has a seizure.  I’ll be in the training room,” I yelled over my shoulder.

 

I was punching the hell out of our new bag.  Apparently, the one with my face stapled to it had busted.  Actually, thanks to me most likely, though I think Satsu got it started.

 

I didn’t hear her come in.  And I didn’t sense her; I was so fuckin focused on beating the shit out of something.

 

I slammed the bag and B caught it.

 

“Hey Faith,” she smirked.

 

“Buffy, seriously? Are you trying to hurt the baby?” I grabbed the bag out of her hands.

 

She shrugged. “I’m quicker than you.” As if that explained anything. She went to sit down. “Please, don’t let me stop you.”

 

“Whatever,” I said. I hit it again.

 

“So, how’ve you been for five months?” She asked.

 

“Same old, same old,” I said, between punches.

 

“I didn’t want to come back here.” 

 

I continued hitting the bag.  Harder. And ignored her.

 

“But, we are safer here.  In case you care.” She sighed.

 

“I’m not gonna let anyone hurt you, Buffy,” I grunted.

 

“Well no, not if you hit them like you’re hitting that bag,” she tried to laugh.

 

I kept hitting the bag. 

 

“So what are we going to do?” She asked.

 

I stopped momentarily and turned to her.  “You’re gonna have a baby.  When Pops shows up, I’m gonna kill him.” I turned back to what I was doing.

 

“I meant after that,” she whispered. “And it’s not his baby, you know.”

 

“Whatever. You have a baby.  All’s well.”

 

“And you?”

 

“What do you want from me, B?”

 

“What do you think I want, F?” she growled.

 

I stomped over to her.  “You know what I see every time I go to sleep? Every time I fuckin close my eyes?” I got in her face. “You.  Screamin like a little bitch when you came,” I spat out.

 

“Fuck you!” She screamed and punched me in the face. It knocked me down. She held me down with her foot. “You better stay right there!”

 

Damn it. It wasn’t like I could fight her. I put my hand to my cheek. That had hurt.

 

“Did it hurt, Faith?” 

 

I nodded.

 

“Good. That was for calling me a little bitch!” She grabbed me by my shirt. And fuck if she didn’t knock me right back down.  “That is for thinking I enjoyed that!  You stupid, stupid, stupid…” she trailed off crying.  She fell to her knees.  “Stupid, stupid,…”She tried to catch her breath.

 

I sat up. “B…”

 

“Oh my god, don’t you ‘B,’ me!  Don’t you dare! I had to pretend, Faith.  I had just made love with you.  And I had to… do you have any idea what that felt like?  Where I had to go in my mind to pretend I enjoyed that?  I kept telling myself, ‘it’s Faith.  It’s Faith.’ Over and over in my head.  Your name.  Your name.” She sat up and hugged herself.  “And you, you watched.  Nothing else. And ran out. You were the ‘little bitch.’ Not me. You stupid…” She was crying so hard, she couldn’t go on.

 

So here was one of those choice things I’d talked about.  She was sitting there basically breaking in front of me. I was pretty sure she’d broken my cheekbone. I knew my eye was already swelling. And I felt like just about the biggest ass on the planet.

 

I scooted over and pulled her in my lap. “Shhhh...”

 

“No, let me go!” She said, fighting me. 

 

I held her tighter.

 

“No,” I whispered.

 

“You didn’t come,” she was sputtering between sobs.  “Everyone else came to see me.  You didn’t even care.”

 

“No, you’re wrong.  I cared. I’m just the biggest ass on the planet. I’m sorry.” I was pretty sure I was crying by then.  “I’m so sorry.”

 

“I don’t believe you,” she sobbed.

 

“I love you,” I whispered in her hair.  “I love you. I love you.  So much. God, I love you so much it makes me crazy.”

 

“I love you too,” she whispered.

 

We sat there, like that, for a while.  She finally stopped crying.  She just buried her head in my chest.  I closed my eyes and held her. Her breathing evened, and I was pretty sure she fell asleep.

 

“Oh my god! Did you kill her?”  Andy screamed, running in behind Kennedy, Red, Dawn, and Xander.

 

“Jesus, really? How many times are you going to jump to that conclusion?”

 

“Sorry,” he muttered.

 

“She’s asleep,” I whispered.

 

“Dude, she totally broke your face.” Kennedy laughed.

 

“I’m aware.”

 

She moved closer. “No, I mean really. You look like shit.” Then she started laughing.  “Hahaha. You totally got beat up by a pregnant chick!” She was laughing so hard she was holding her side.

 

And then Xander and Andy joined in.  Of course.

 

“Shut up,” I growled.  “It wasn’t like I was gonna hit her back.”

 

Red rolled her eyes.  “Oh my goddess, the two of you are going to drive me to an early grave.  Are you all good, now?”

 

“I don’t know. It’s up to her, I guess.”

 

“Yes,” she muttered from against my chest.  She sat back.  “After Faith takes a shower, cause…” she started gagging and jumped up and ran to the bathroom.

 

Then Dawn started laughing.  “Buffy missed the memo that morning sickness was only in the first three months.”

 

“And in the morning, apparently,” Xander added.

 

Ken had not stopped laughing.  “And you made her throw up! My god this…” she took a breath.  “This just got so much better.”

 

“Hey. You’re not pregnant. I can still kick your ass!”

 

B came back in wiping her mouth.  “Sorry. Everything makes me sick.”

 

Dawn nodded. “Everything.  It’s so annoying.”

 

“Perhaps I can make you something to eat?” Andrew asked.  “Chicken noodle soup?”

 

B grabbed her mouth and ran out again.  Great. They were all looking at me. Aw fuck it.  “B, you okay?” I asked, running after her.

 

“Whopped,” I heard Ken yell after me.

 

Ugh. Don’t I know it.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Two Months Later

 

“Nasty,” I said, bending over and spitting. 

 

“Agreed,” Satsu said, wiping demon sludge off her pants.

 

“You guys all good, out there?” I heard Xander ask in my earpiece.

 

“Good to go,” I said, spitting again.

 

“That is so unattractive,” Ken added, as she wiped gross-ass slime out of her hair.

 

“So is that,” I countered.

 

“Yeah well my horny girlfriend isn't gonna jump me as soon as I walk back in the door,” she said and then her face fell.  “Aww, that kind of sucks for me, huh?”

 

I raised an eyebrow at her.  “Yeah.”

 

“Maybe you can take a shower? If we sneak you in the back door?” Eve offered.

 

I shook my head.  “No, B’s little roly poly ass would find me.”

 

“Uh… better not count on that, F,” I heard in my earpiece.

 

I jerked it out like it was on fire, but not before hearing Red say, “you either, K.”

 

“Damn it! I hate that thing!” I said stomping on it.

 

Ken pulled hers out and quickly followed suit.

 

“Hahaha. You are so stupid, Faith,” Satsu laughed.  She took her earpiece out and motioned for the other girls to do the same. “Roly poly?  You are in so much trouble.”

 

Fuck. Fuck fuck fuckity fuck.  I was in trouble. She’d been bitching and moaning about her weight for two months.  And she wasn’t fat.  I mean she was rounder, sure, but not fat.  It was hot. Not gross.  And now I was up the freakin creek.

 

“So?” Kennedy said, quirking her eyebrow at me.  “We sleeping in visitors’ quarters tonight?”

 

“Aw, hell. Probably,” I grunted. “I blame this on you.”

 

“What, I didn’t call your girlfriend roly poly?  She’s not anyway.  She’s sexy,” I scowled at her.  “I mean for a pregnant chick that my best friend is in love with,” she finished, flipping me off.

 

“Yeah, but you brought that shit up.”

 

“Yes, and now my ass is in as much trouble as yours.” She looked around. “Wanna find something else to kill that will take us, like I don’t know, twelve hours or something?”

 

We all nodded at her.  The rest of the girls were as smart as we were.  Nobody wanted to go back just yet.


 

We rolled back in about three hours later.  B and Red ambushed us at the door.  Xander and Andy quickly followed.

 

“Oh my god!!! We thought something had happened to you!” Buffy was hysterical.

 

“Are you guys high?  Earpieces,” Xander said, holding out his hand.  Those of us that hadn’t stomped ours to nothing handed them back.  “We have these for a reason.”

 

The rest of us just stared at the ground.

 

“Sorry,” K muttered.  Dumbass.

 

“Sorry, sorry! Really??? You are sorry. There is a demon under-lord trying to kill us all.  And you all just gallop into the night like it’s no big deal.” Red was furious.  “Girls,” she said, turning to our group.  “Go to bed.”

 

“Sorry, Ms. Rosenberg,” one of them muttered.

 

“Oh, it’s not your fault we sent you out with three morons.  You were just doing what you were told.”

 

“Wait,” Satsu said, “why am I in trouble?”

 

“Because you are just as bad.  I should have known the kind of influence Faith and Kennedy would be on you.” Buffy said. “You’re an adult. You know better. The two of them have a combined maturity age of about seven.”

 

“I’m sorry, Buffy,” Satsu said. 

 

“It’s okay. You’re good.  Go to bed.” Buffy sighed, patting her on the back.

 

Satsu nodded and turned to go.  She turned around and stuck her tongue out at me and Ken.

 

Sometimes, I still wanted to kick her ass.

 

B was tapping her little foot.  I knew cause I had quickly looked back down.  “So, Faith?”

 

Nope, not saying a word.

 

“Oh my god, I know you hear me. Can you believe this?” She said to Red.

 

“Yes. It’s so sad, but yes, I can believe it.” Red answered.

 

“You guys are covered in pink slime,” Andy piped up.  “And it’s the perfect color for the baby room. Stay still and let me get some!” He wiped some off K’s shirt.

 

“Dude!” she yelled. 

 

“Sorry!” He laughed, like the maniacal little interior designer he was.

 

“And the two of you, out there discussing my weight.” Buffy huffed.

 

“Wait, hold up! I was not discussing your weight.  I pointed out you were hot.” Ken said.  Maybe she’d sucked some of that slime into her brain. Was she that dumb?

 

“Oh, she’s hot, huh?” Red said.

 

“Oh god, haven’t we already done this?” Ken asked.

 

“Shut up, dumb ass,” I mumbled not looking up.

 

“What was that, Faith?” B said.

 

“Nuthin,” I muttered.

 

“Really? Why don’t you look my little roly poly ass in the face and tell me that?”

 

See? Screwed.  I had no out.  What was I supposed to say?

 

“I’m good,” I mumbled.

 

“Ugh! I’m fat. I’m tired, and your baby… your baby is kicking the hell out of my stomach.  And I’m hungry.  I want a grape popsicle. Do you think we have grape popsicles? Well we did, until someone,” I could feel her staring at me and Ken, “or rather two someones ate them. So we just have orange. And orange, for your information, sucks.”

 

I looked at Kennedy. It would be so totally wrong. She was trying so hard not to. So was I.  And then we busted out laughing.  And just like that, we both dug our graves for the night.

 

“Oh my god!” Buffy screamed, throwing the orange popsicle I just noticed she’d been holding at me.  She turned around and stormed off.

 

Red and Xander followed her.

 

We both collapsed. 

 

“Oh my god, we are so screwed,” Kennedy said when she could catch her breath.

 

“I know,” I laughed. I peeled the popsicle off my shirt.  “At least we still have grape popsicles.  I hid them.”

 

“You have got to be kidding me,” she smiled at me, wiping at her face. “We better have a thousand, cause I am never getting sex again.”

 

“Grape is second to sex.”

 

“True,” she nodded.

 

“We can still hear you!” B yelled from the other room.

 

“I hope you choke on that popsicle!” Red yelled behind her.

 

And then we started laughing so hard; we both fell in the chairs next to the door.

 

Buffy stormed back in. “I’m sleeping with Wills tonight.”

 

“Yeah,” Red reiterated, behind her.

 

“Oh baby, I’m sorry,” I tried.

 

“Nope. Not gonna work,” she said. She had her arms crossed and resting on her stomach. She noticed me looking. “What?!?”

 

I knew better than to be that stupid.  “Nothing, you’re cute.”

 

“Oh, really, how cute?” Her voice dripped with sarcasm.

 

I saw Ken cut her eyes at me.  “Good luck,” she mouthed.

 

“Cute enough for me to kiss you,” I said, getting up and moving towards her.

 

“Oh my god,” she rolled her eyes.  “I will throw you across this room.”

 

I jumped back and stared at her sideways. “Let’s be honest, babe, you’d have to catch me…”

 

I heard Ken laugh and pop up beside me.  She hit me on the arm.  “We are so sleepin on the couch tonight.”

 

Red and B both rolled their eyes and walked out.

 

“Come on,” I smirked.  “Let’s see how well popsicles go with vodka.”

 


Okay, so next morning – new lesson, popsicles did not go that well with vodka.

 

K and I were still lying on opposite couches in the meeting area. 

 

I heard banging.  Like with pots and shit.

 

“Stop that!” Kennedy yelled.

 

I opened my eyes to watch her grab Andrew – a pot and wooden spoon still in his hands.

 

He threw everything down and raised his hands.  “They paid me!” he yelled. He threw a couple of water bottles at us. “Drink these. Please. Willow said you are not gonna get a mystical cure for these hangovers.” When Ken let go of him, he ran out of the room.

 

“Oh shit, my head hurts.” I moaned.

 

“Mine too,” Ken agreed. “Let’s see how well popsicles go with vodka! Oh my god, I should kill you.”

 

“Eww, please don’t say popsicle.”

 

“Yeah, agreed. Sorry,” she mumbled.

 

Red and B walked into the room.

 

“You two need to get up. Giles called a meeting,” B said.

 

Great, as if my head wasn’t hurting enough.  A meeting. Let me jump for joy.

 

They turned and left us there.

 

“Yipee! A meeting!” Ken said.  “Please, seriously I should kill you.”

 

“Come on,” I said, pulling her up.  “Let’s go see what exciting news they have for us.”

 

We walked in to Giles clearing his throat.  Shocker. “Right, ladies, so nice of you to join us.”

 

We both nodded and sat down next to our girlfriends.  They both stood up and moved.  Ken shrugged and came and sat by me.

 

“So what’s the big news, G?”

 

“Yes, well, we are looking for a way to kill Kasayda.”

 

Was he shitting me?  Did they just wake us up to tell us they had no new information?  “Seriously? Why’d you wake us up?”

 

“Well, we were going to do an ultrasound of the baby,” Will said, and I noticed the machine in the room.  “We kind of thought you’d like to be here for that.”

 

“If you need a nap though, far be it from us to keep you from it,” B added.

 

An ultrasound? I hadn’t seen a pic of the baby yet.  An ultrasound just made her real.  “Uh no, I’m good.” I whispered.

 

The cot was still in the room and B hopped up on it like she was anything but seven months pregnant.  Red rubbed some gel on her stomach.

 

“How do you know how to do that?” Ken asked.

 

“I know a lot of thing, Kennedy.” Red clipped.

 

Ken raised her eyebrows at me.  Really, how long were we going to be in trouble?

 

I was still sitting across the room.  Red put this little wand thing on B’s belly and the screen showed… well a whole lot of nothing… then “a foot!” Dawn yelled.

 

Wait, what? I jumped up and ran over.

 

Everyone was crowding around trying to see. 

 

“See, here’s her heart,” Red said.

 

I couldn’t breathe.

 

“Breathe, dumbass, ”Ken said.  She tended to tell me that a lot.

 

She moved the wand around.  “Yep, ten fingers, ten toes.  All good. Let’s see if we can see her face.”

 

The screen went blank for a moment, and then there she was.  She’d moved her hand to her face.  “Hey what’s she…” I stopped myself.  She was sucking her thumb.

 

I couldn’t think… that was my… and B’s…

 

“Seriously, Faith,” Kennedy said. “You need to bre…”

 


 

“…Faith!?! Faith!?! Are you okay?”  I opened my eyes to see B kneeling beside me.

 

Aw hell, I’d fainted.  I closed my eyes and groaned. “Sorry,” I muttered.

 

She hugged me. Guess I wasn’t in trouble anymore.

 

“I love you,” she whispered.

 

“Faith, if you are going to faint every time you get into trouble, you’re going to be spending a lot of time on the floor,” Satsu smirked. 

 

I rolled my eyes at her.  “I love you too, babe,” I said, kissing B’s nose.

 

She stood up and gave me a hand, but Ken stopped her.  “Here let me, we don’t want you hurting yourself.”

 

B patted her on the shoulder.  “You really are sweet. I’m glad you think I’m hot too.”

 

Oh jeez. I made eye contact with Red. She rolled her eyes.

 

Giles smiled. “Well the baby is healthy and that is wonderful.” He patted B on the back and she turned to hug him. She was crying. “Oh, Buffy, dear. What is it?”

 

“She does that all the time,” I said. 

 

“Oh well, yes…” he hugged her back.

 

I patted him on the back, “You’re gonna be a grandpa.”

 

B started crying louder.  Jesus, what did I say?

 

“Buffy, what is it?” Willow asked.

 

Giles led her to the couch.  “Yes, what is it, Buffy?”

 

“What if something happens to her?” Buffy sniffled. 

 

I sat down beside her and pulled her to me.  “Nothing is going to touch her, B.  You know me better than that.”

 

“What if something happens to you?” She sniffled.

 

I looked to Red for help.  “Buffy, Faith isn’t going anywhere.”

 

“I know, I mean, what if he hurts her?”  She was still crying.

 

I pulled her close.  “No one is gonna hurt me, B. Really.”

 

“But we don’t know anything.  We don’t know how to defeat him.  What if he tries to take her? I…” She couldn’t stop crying.

 

I made a motion to Dawn with my head.  She hopped up. “Come on, Buffy.  Andrew made you red velvet cake.”

 

Andrew nodded. “I did, with your favorite icing.”

 

Buffy sniffed and looked at him.  “Homemade?”

 

He nodded again.  “Of course. I’m offended you’d think otherwise.”

 

She smiled at him.  “I guess I could eat a piece,” she said getting up.  She turned to me. “You coming?”

 

“Uh no. I’m good.  Go eat.  I’ll be in here when you get back.” I smiled up at her.

 

She followed Andy and Dawn out.  I could hear her down the hall.  “Is it really three layers?”

 

Ha! It doesn’t take much to make her happy sometimes. 

 

When she was gone, I turned to Red. “Anything?”

 

She shook her head.  “A few things.” She looked to the door, “but we don’t want to worry her unnecessarily.”

 

“Well?” Sometimes I hated how they drew everything out.  “What do you know?”

 

“He’ll appear here soon after she goes into labor.” Giles started.

 

“Here?!?”

 

“We can’t risk her having a baby somewhere we won’t be able to protect them. Many of the coven members are midwives.” Giles said.

 

Of course they fuckin are.  “And?”

“If our research is correct, you will have a window of opportunity to kill him. When he first arrives here, he will be weak.  He must be able to enter our world. He'll be drawing on the strength of those who are evil on this plane and you will not have long. A minute, maybe two.”

 

“It’s all I need,” I muttered.

 

“We think the scythe will be able to kill him.” Red added.

 

“You think?” That didn’t sound promising.

 

“Yes, but it’s only in that short time that you'll be able to use it. We'll all be here. All the slayers. Angel.  The coven.  But you're the only one who can wield the scythe.” 

 

“But…” I felt like there was something she wasn’t telling me.

 

“He’ll immediately go for the baby.  You’re going to have to be prepared for that.”

 

“What are you saying?”  They were all looking at me.

 

“I’m saying if he grabs the baby, you’ve still got to kill him,” Red whispered. “You can’t get… uh, distracted.”

 

“Distracted by what?!?” I jumped up.  “This son of a bitch holding my child?!?”

 

She nodded, silent.

 

“So, let me get this straight.  I have to kill him before he gets his hand on my child and if I don’t, I have to kill him while he's holding my baby.  Is that what you’re saying, Red?!?”

 

“Faith, calm down.”  Ken put her hand on my arm. “We won’t let him get that far.”

 

Everyone looked at Satsu then and she stood up.

 

I spun on her. “What?!?”

 

“The coven is going to transport the baby and me out of the castle.  To an undisclosed location.  Meaning I don’t know where, so don’t ask.”

 

“Oh you’ve got to be shitting me!” I sat down.  “So, you’re taking my baby!  Seriously! Uh, hell no.  You are not taking her!”

 

“Faith,” Giles said.  “This isn't about you. It's about the safety of your child. Not to mention the world.”

 

I groaned. “I know, I know. Does B know?”

 

“Goddess no.”

 

“Don’t tell her.” I mumbled.

 

“Don’t worry. We aren’t stupid,” Kennedy said. 

 

“Uh based on earlier,” Willow said.  “I would beg to disagree.”

 

“How does Faith get out of trouble, but I don’t?” She mumbled sitting.

 

“My hormones aren’t rushing.” Red looked thoughtful.  “And you didn’t faint.”

 

“Whatever,” K said, plopping down on the couch and crossing her arms.

 

“So, as soon as B gives birth, you are gonna grab the baby, right?” I said, looking at Satsu.

 

She nodded at me.

 

“Well don’t fuck up.” I got closer to her.  “Hear me?”

 

“Yes, Faith. Thank you for trying to intimidate me.” She turned away.  “In case you’ve completely forgotten, I do care about Buffy.”

 

“Ugh, I know… I’m just… this is a lot.  I’m sorry.” I made a face.  “I… I trust you.”

 

She smirked. “You’re too kind.”

 

“I am trying,” I muttered.

 

“Hey, Buff!” Xander said too loudly.

 

“Whatcha talking about?” She asked, looking around the room.

 

“Lamaze class!” Red rushed out. “You know… he he hu hu,” she said, mimicking either a woman giving birth or an insane person with breathing problems.

 

Buffy cut her eyes at me.  “Really?”

 

“Yeah,” I nodded.  I was trying to smile and fight the dread growing in my stomach.

 

“Okayyyyy. Shouldn’t I be in here for that?” She asked.

 

Red went over to her and took her hand.  “We wanted to get it perfect first.  In fact, Faith is going to spend the rest of the afternoon watching videos. With Kennedy.  So they can show you the proper breathing methods.”

 

I groaned inwardly.  Ken groaned out loud. And was shot a look by Red. “Yep.  Lamaze videos.  Me and Faith. We’re excited!”

 

B came up and kissed me.  I still got that funny feeling when she stood on her tiptoes like that to kiss me.  It was sweet.  Oh my god. I am over being so damn sentimental. Her eyes were twinkling. “That’s so sweet, Faith.”

 

Damn it. “I know,” I smiled at her.

 

Kennedy grabbed my hand.  “Come on, Momma F, let’s go serve our punishment.” She smirked, “I mean, you know, watch videos.”

 

I saw Red and B smile at each other.  Why did I always feel like I was in trouble?

 


 

“Oh my good god,” Kennedy said, watching said videos through her fingers. “That is so damn wrong.”

 

I turned my head sideways.  “Maybe they’re holding the camera upside down?” And then, “Oh shit… no they’re not. Gross.”

 

“Gross is right.  Is that what it’s going to look like? Cause I gotta say I’m not gonna be in the room for…” she motioned with one of her hands, “that.”

 

“Oh hell no! You were there at the beginning. You will be there at the end.  You are not getting out of this,” I groaned.

 

“You will totally owe me, then.” She took a drink of water.  “You know,” she said, “your swooning ass will probably just faint. Then I guess I can drag you out.”

 

“You know…” I said.

 

“Sounds like a plan,” she finished.

 

“No way! I am telling Buffy!” We heard Andrew yell from the hallway.

 

We both hopped up.  “Oh my god! They had that little shit spying on us,” I growled.

 

“Plausible deniability.  They’ll be popping in here soon.  You better find us another stupid video of someone’s extremely large vagina to watch.” She moaned and put her head down. “I’m never eating again.”

 

My eyebrow shot up.  “Seriously?”

 

“Food, you dumb ass.  Food.” She thought for a moment, “Although, if I had known that they got that big…”

 

“Faith!!!!” Dawn was running into the room.  “It’s Buffy,” she said, running back out.

 

Ken and I got up and ran after her. 

 

When we got into the library, Red was holding Buffy.  Her eyes were panicked.  “Faith, she’s seizing!”

 

I grabbed her from Red.  Even this pregnant, she wasn’t that heavy.  “It’s okay, baby,” I whispered.  She stopped jerking as soon as pulled her in my lap.  “B? Can you hear me?”

 

She wasn’t moving.  A good thing and a bad one. She hadn’t had a seizure since she’d been back. 

 

“Is she okay?!?” Red was frantic.

 

I shook my head.  “I don’t know,” I whispered. I pulled her closer to me. “B?” I whispered in her ear. “You okay?”  She still wasn’t moving.  “Buffy!” I yelled louder.  “Wake up!” I started shaking her.

 

Ken put her hand on my arm.  “Calm down.”

 

“And stop shaking her!” Satasu yelled.

 

Why wasn’t she waking up?  “Buffy?” I could feel a lump in my throat. I started crying. “Come on, baby. You’ve got to open your eyes.”  I looked at Red. “What’s wrong?!?”

 

“I don’t know,” she said.  She was crying too. Red freakin out was not helping me fuckin calm down.

 

“Figure it out!”

 

“Bring her over here,” she said, pointing to the cot.  “Lay her down.”

 

I jerked her back.  “No! I am not letting her go!”

 

“She is not seizing anymore, Faith,” Giles said.  “Set her down.”

 

I laid her on the bed.  At first I thought she’d started seizing again.  I realized, after I let her go, it was me who was shaking.

 

Kennedy was rubbing her hands up and down my arms.  “I repeat, calm down.  You freakin out is not gonna help.”

 

I ignored her. “What is it Red?”

 

Willow was standing over B, chanting.  Her hands over Buffy’s belly.  She stopped after a moment. “I have no idea,” she said.

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 11

 

Six days. Six fuckin days. It had been six days since B had gone blank.  No one could figure it out. Not Willow.  Not the coven.  Not Angel. No one. 

 

After the first day, I was mildly hysterical.

 

When they hooked her up to the IV’s on the third day I was manic.

 

By the sixth day, I was full on out of control.

 

I spent the better part of each day and night next to her. 

 

Talking to her.

 

“B, baby, please wake up.”

 

“Come on baby, just wake up.  For me?”

 

“I know you can hear me…”

 

“Buffy! Goddamnit wake the fuck up!”

 

Talking to the baby.

 

“Hey, sugga, it’s your other mother.  I know you can hear me. Tell your mommy to wake up.”

 

“I love you, but you gotta wake your Mom up.”

 

“Oh my god! You are grounded till you’re thirty!!!”

 

Obviously she didn’t respond.  But, neither did B.

 

I paced back and forth creating a pretty deep path in the carpet. I ate.  Only because I felt that I needed to be alert. I slept on the third day. And again on the fifth.

 

And today? Today was day six. Six days was apparently all I could take before real madness actually started to seep in. I snapped at everyone.

 

I punched Satsu when she tried to check on Buffy.  She cut her eyes at me in an mildly evil way, and then walked out.

 

“I stand by my ‘stupid’ statement,” she’d said.

 

I threw Kennedy across the room when she tried to get me to leave the room.

“Faith, seriously,” she’d said, standing back up.  “I am so close to kicking your dumb ass.  The only thing keeping me from doing is that fact that I am pretty damn certain you wouldn’t notice.”

 

I was busy staring at Buffy absolutely not moving when Dawn walked in. “Faith?”

 

“Hmm,” I mumbled. 

 

“First of all, if you are gonna hit me or you know throw me through a window, I’m just going to back on out of here,” she said, holding her hands up in the air.

 

I shook my head.  “I’m good. I’m sorry.  What is it?”

 

“Nothing. I just wanted to come in here and sit with my sister.  Am I allowed to do that?”

 

I wasn’t sure if she was teasing or not.  I couldn’t focus. “What do you think?”

 

“That’s not actually comforting. I think you should get out of this room. I also feel as if this entire conversation is pointless because you aren’t even looking at me.” She tentatively put her hand on my shoulder.  “How are you feeling?”

 

“I’m fine,” I grumbled.

 

She turned to B then.  I guess I wasn’t the best company.  Did I mention it had been six fuckin days?  “Hey, sis, you’re gonna have to…” She held her breath and got very still. She leaned closer, “Oh my god…. Faith!”

 

“What?!?” I said, jerking at her glass shattering scream.

 

“Her hand moved! Buffy! Do you hear me?!?!” She was yelling.

 

“B?!?” I jumped out of my chair, and bent over her.  “B?!?”

 

There wasn’t much movement at first.  Her hand didn’t move again.  I held my breath and looked at Dawn.  She started to shrug and then her eyes went wide.  I turned to B. Her eyes were slowly opening. “Faith?”  Her voice was hoarse.

 

“Get her some water,” I said to Dawn.  “And then get Red.”

 

Dawn nodded. She poured some water and ran out. “Willow!” I heard her screaming down the hall.  Those damn lungs came in handy every once in a while.

 

I held the water to her mouth.  She was trying to talk, but nothing was coming out.  She kept batting my hand away.  “Damn it, Buffy. Drink the water.”

 

She took a few sips.

 

“Are you okay?” I couldn’t decide whether to just jump on top of her or back up and give her some room.

 

She nodded, motioning for me to shut up.  “I…” she started coughing.

 

“It’s okay. Take your time,” I gave her stubborn ass more water.  “Drink.” She took another few sips. “Do you remember anything?”

 

She nodded, between drinks.  By this time the entire castle had spilled into the room. 

 

“Is she okay?” Red yelled.

 

“Can she talk?” Andrew said.

 

“Does she remember anything?” Xander asked.

 

“Can you possibly all back up and let her breathe?  Jesus,” Ken finished.  She grabbed my arm. “Including you.”

 

I tried to shrug her off but six days of my ass just sitting here had made me somewhat weak.

 

“Buffy?” Red asked.  “What do you remember?”

 

She looked at me and then back at Red.  She tried to sit up and grabbed her head. 

 

“Whoa, B. Lay back.  You’ve been out of it for six days.”

 

“Six days?” She immediately laid her hands on her stomach.  She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “I need to talk to Willow.” She opened her eyes and looked at me. “Alone.” Her eyes were pleading with me.

 

But fuck that. She’d been god knows where for six fucking days.  No way I was leaving here.

 

I shook my head.  “Hell no. You are not kickin me out of here.”

 

“Faith please,” she had tears in her eyes.

 

“Fuck, Buffy! You’ve got to be kidding me.  I am not going anywhere. I’ve been sitting here for six days.” I ran my hands through my hair. “Six days.  Do you hear me?” I was pacing.  “I had no idea where you were.  What was happening. If you were okay! If she was okay!”

 

“Fine,” she sighed.  “But I swear to god, if you overreact, freak out, or do anything characteristically Faith like, I’m going to ask Satsu to punch you.”

 

“Fine,” I huffed.

 

“Works for me,” Satsu, the evil traitor, said.

 

“I’ll help,” Ken added.  For no good fuckin reason, except she was also evil.  And a traitor.

 

“So?” Red asked.

 

“Did you see me?” B asked her.

 

Red shook her head.  “No, we tried.”

 

And they had. First one witch. Then two witches. Then Red witches. Then Blue witches. Okay, I obviously needed sleep.

 

“I figured,” B said.

 

“Where were you?” I asked.  I knew what she was gonna say.  Fuck, I knew exactly what she was gonna say.

 

She sighed again.  “I felt us go deeper this time.  Like we weren’t in the same place.  It was darker, but more solid.”

 

“Did you fuck him again?”  What? I couldn’t help myself.  I said I needed sleep. I had apparently lost that filter that tells my mouth to not repeat everything running through my damn brain. Oh, who were we kidding? I never had that filter.

 

“Oh my god, Faith,” Kennedy said, slapping the shit out of the back of my head.

 

“Fuck,” I said, grabbing it.  “That hurt!”

 

“Good,” B said. “And no.  Thanks for trusting me.  He only cares about the baby.”

 

“So what did you do?” I growled.

 

“Nothing,” she looked close to breaking. “I… we just… he talked to me. About the baby. About what she would be. I pretended to be interested. I told him people would be worried. That we couldn’t stay gone. Otherwise there would be questions. I thought I was only there an hour or two. Not six days.” She grabbed her stomach again.  “Oh god! Is she okay?!?”

 

Red rubbed her stomach.  “Yeah, Buff. She’s fine.  I wouldn’t let anything happen to her.”

 

I raised my hand.  “Uh hello? Mom here?  Me either…”  I started pacing again.  “I can keep you from there, right?” She nodded her head.  “Good. So, here’s the thing. She goes absolutely nowhere without me. Get me a cart or something. I don’t care.  I am not leaving her side.  She is not within two feet of me for the next two months.”

 

Kennedy came and helped me sit down.  “Okay, well that is crazy talk.”

 

“Shut up. I’m completely serious.”

 

“Faith,” B said, her voice was exasperated.  “First of all, he’s not gonna hurt me.  Second of all, I am not staying attached to you for two months.  I love you.  I really do. But…”

But what? What the fuck was she going on about? “What B?”

 

“But, I love you because you know when to back off.  I need Buffy time.  I can’t have Buffy time when Faith is encroaching on it.”  She tried smiling at me.  I’d missed her smile.  Really…but that sure the hell wasn’t enough to get me to back off.

 

“Whatever. What the hell is Buffy time? What can you do? You can’t even get in the bathtub without me.  Or tie your damn shoes. Now all of a sudden your ass needs alone time?”

 

“I so can get in the bathtub,” she scowled.  “I just can’t get out,” she whispered.

 

“Exactly. So I will be right there with you.” I smirked.  I really was a lot smarter than they gave me credit for.

 

“You can’t keep me from him.” She sat up a bit and rolled her eyes when I shot her a look. “I just mean that he will notice. I think he’ll leave me alone anyway. He said, ‘see you in two months.’ I figure that meant, see you at the birth of our evil bastard baby.”  Her face made an O, “Oh crap, you think she heard me?” She bent down to talk to her belly. “Not you, baby angel.”

 

“Oh my god, you are not calling our baby Angel.”

 

“Not Angel. Just angel.  Really? Did you have a lobotomy in the last,” and then she fuckin air quoted, “six days?”

 

Ken, Red, and Satsu laughed out loud.  Dawn and Xander were smart enough to hide it. 

 

“You all are…” Ugh, I said storming the fucking out.  And then… fuck.  “Damn it!” I said, storming the fuck back in.  “I forgot I can’t leave.”

 


 

Two Months Later

 

So it’s time. Baby time.  Time to have a baby.  Time to kill the slimey bastard that wants to take my baby. Time to name my baby. It’s a busy time, that’s for fuckin sure.

 

After much whining on B’s part, and threatening on Red’s, I agreed to let Buffy out of my sight for a few minutes at a time.  Actually, it was more like trickery and dragging me from the room that did it.

 

“Let me go, Ken!” I said, fighting.  She held my arms and upper body.  Satsu had my legs.

 

“Faith,” Satsu growled.  “Stop kicking me. You are being ridiculous and driving Buffy crazy.  She paid…”

 

“What the hell? She paid you two asses to drag me out of that room?!?”

 

“Well not with money,” Ken leered.

 

I started fighting her instead.  “You are dead!”

 

“You are stupid.  She paid us in cookies. Actually, Andy made them. But he’d pretty much fly to Brazil for Buffy.  So they were her cookies.  Come to think of it, that little bastard never makes us cookies,” she said, looking over my shoulder at Satsu.

 

“Put me down, bitches.” I growled.

 

“Ha! I got cake.” Satsu said.  “What? I don’t like cookies.”

 

They sat me down outside.  “I cannot believe you two sold me out for baked goods.”

 

“We’re easy.” Ken said.  I moved to go back inside and she grabbed me around my waist.  “Will. You. Stop. Please?  You are going to stay out here with us.  We are going to sit down and talk.  And you are going to like it.”

 

Ken pointed to her ear.  “One way earpiece. We can hear.  Okay?”  She sat me down. “Chill.  She’s not that far away.  Okay? We can be in there in two seconds flat.”

 

I started walking back.  “I feel better being closer. Can we at least sit in the foyer?”

 

Satsu groaned. “Yes,” she relented, following me back inside.  “But you are staying out of her hair.”

 

“Oh, I’m so sorry I’m in her hair.  Excuse me. She’s carrying my baby. I’m allowed.”

 

“To smother her?” Ken asked, following us inside.  “Here,” she pointed.  “No further.”

 

“I don’t smother her,” I sulked.

 

“Faith,” Satsu started, drawing out my name like she was speaking to a dog. “You sleep sitting up, holding her. That is just weird. It’s weird.  And it’s got to be bad for your back.  You follow her to the bathroom, which by the way… gross. You take a shower with her. You watch her dry her hair. You help her eat. You are creeping her out.” She looked thoughtful.  “And us too.”

 

“She’s carrying my baby.”

 

“Well it’s not like she’s carrying it upside down or anything,” Kennedy said.

 

“Actually,” Satsu interjected.  “It is upside down. In her stomach, I mean.”

 

Kennedy rolled her eyes.  “You know what I mean.”

 

I turned to Satsu.  The plan was for the coven to magic her somewhere once the baby was born.  No one knew, including Sats, where they were sending her. We had neglected to tell B that bit of information.  I wasn’t that keen on it myself, but it was what it was.  I wanted her to be safe more than anything.  “You still good with the plan?”

 

She nodded. “I’ll protect her with my life.” She was totally serious.  I knew it was because she loved B.  It would normally piss me off, but… we needed her and she’d never hurt the baby. She was the best candidate.

 

“So what are we gonna name her?” Kennedy asked.

 

“We? What the hell makes you think you get a vote?”

 

“Okay, I was there when she was conceived.  I gotta be there when she’s born.  I feel like I should get a say.”

 

“Well, enlighten me with your suggestion.  Cause I’ve got fuck all.”  I thought about it for a minute.  “And do not suggest Kennedy.”

 

Her face fell. “In that case, I have no clue.”

 

“Or Satsu,” I said when she lit up.

 

She shrugged. “I am out of suggestions too then.”

 

I could hear B giggling in the other room.  I knew she was as worried as I was.  It didn’t really matter that she didn’t know what had to happen. I looked at Sats again.  I hope B didn’t kill me. I kept telling myself I trusted her. As much as I could trust the girl who’d slept with the love of my life. I didn’t trust the coven though. I still didn’t understand why they couldn’t like hide her in the castle or something. 

 

“Have you thought about afterwards?” Kennedy asked.

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“After the baby is born.  After you kill this bastard. What then?  You’re gonna have a baby.” I could feel the blood draining out of my face.  She noticed, I guess. “And it’ll be kick ass, don’t get me wrong.  I’m just saying… you know, you’re gonna have a baby.”

 

I nodded at her.  “Trust me, I’m aware,” I told her.

 

“Your baby. And Buffy’s.  She’s gonna be the only kid on the planet with two biological moms.”

 

I raised my eyebrows at her.  “Maybe not forever.”

 

She backed up. “Oh hell no.  Do not go putting that shit in Willow’s head right now. I’m already worried enough about protecting this kid from every damn thing that goes bump in the night. I don’t think I’d survive my own.”

 

“Who knows?” Satsu offered.  “You may find that you like it.”

 

Ken shrugged. “Possibly.  But I am not ‘having’ having a baby.  Not gonna happen.  I like my body. I doubt I’d be as hot as Buffy nine months pregnant.”

 

“You’re not as hot as B now,” I smirked.  “Hey, wait… you have got to stop that shit.  You are not allowed to think she’s hot.”

 

“What, I’m supposed to wander around the castle with my eyes closed? Or horse blinders on? Seriously, at first I wanted to pop her in the face every time she spoke.  But hey, she’s grown on me.”

 

“I’m going to take that as a compliment, Kennedy,” B said, walking into the room. She was holding her back.

 

I jumped up and ran to her.  “You okay, baby?”

 

She took a deep breath and looked at me.  Red followed her in and nodded.  “I called them,” she said.

 

Buffy grimaced a bit.  It was slight but I could tell she was different somehow.

 

“Called who? Are you in… are you…”

 

“Faith…” Ken said, jumping up to grab me.

 

“I know, I know, breathe.” I told her.  Trying my damndest to do just that.

 

Buffy smiled at me.  “They are pretty far apart.” She was holding her stomach.

 

“Who is?!?” I screamed.  I could not be calm. Sorry if I was expected to or something.

 

“The contractions,” she said simply.  “The contractions are pretty far apart.   We’ve got a little while.”

 

I jumped up and starting running around the room.  In retrospect, I didn’t know where I was going or what the hell I was running for.  It just seemed like the thing I was supposed to do.  “We’ve gotta… get stuff.  And things. And…”

 

“Faith,” Buffy said, coming up to me and putting her hands on my shoulder. “You are going to calm down. I need you focused. Andy and Xander are in there getting everything ready.  So is Dawn. Giles is waiting on the coven.”

 

I nodded, trying to focus.  I looked over at Ken. “We’ll kick his ass,” she mouthed to me.

 

I wasn’t worried about the baby being born.  I mean I was.  This shit was way too real for me.  I just realized within the next twelve hours I was gonna have to do the most important thing I’d ever done.  And that was kill this bastard.

 


 

So no one told me it took so long to have a baby.  It takes like ten minutes on tv and shit.  I mean I realized that was the extent of my knowledge and all, but still. It had been two hours already. B was hooked up to some kind of monitors and shit.  Apparently some of these women had day jobs.  It was nice to know that a bunch of creepy backwards assed witches had at least a bit of knowledge under their mystical belts.  

 

I got up. I sat down.  I picked up the scythe. I sat it back down. (Not far from me, I wasn’t stupid.) I realized that I had been doing a lot of fuckin pacing since B had blown back into my life.

 

Sue me. I have a lot of nervous energy. Every nerve in my body was on high alert.  Every contraction she had sent me close to the edge.  Ken tried to get me to do the Lamaze breathing we’d all had to fuckin learn.

 

“Breathe from your stomach, Faith,” she said.

 

“Kiss my ass, Ken,” I’d thrown back at her.

 

“She’s just trying to help,” B had said.

 

A few minutes later another contraction.  They were getting closer together.

 

“How far apart are they?” I asked the nurse/witch standing next to Buffy.

 

“Five minutes,” she smiled slightly at me.  “Still a while.”

 

“Ugh, why is this taking so long?”  No one answered me.  Possibly smart on their parts. If this shit didn’t hurry up though, I was gonna wear a hole in the floor so wide, I’d probably fall right through to the basement before this bastard showed up.  If we had a pool down there, then at least it would break my fall.

 

“We should get a pool,” Kennedy said to the room.

 

I stopped pacing and stared at her.  “What the fuck do we need a pool for?”

 

She rolled her eyes.  “Obviously for raising mermaids, Faith.  Why else would we need a pool?” She shrugged.  “Or, I don’t know… Maybe for swimming laps and shit.”

 

What the fuck was she talking about?  I framed an answer and then just shook my head and started pacing again. It was fucking easier to ignore her.  It must be nice to be calm enough to plan home renovations.  Wish I could share her enthusiasm.

 


 

Buffy was hurting more now.  I could see it in her face.  She was being a super trooper though and hiding it.

 

Dawn sat next to her, rubbing her legs.  “You can scream if you want.”

 

B nodded at her.  “I kinda wanna save that,” she whispered, in between contractions.

 

I wished she’d have taken the medicine.  The witches said they could stop the pain but she didn’t want to be ‘incapacitated,’ she’d said.  I get that. I just didn’t like it. Watching her hurt was not adding to my calmness.

 

There have been situations in my life where time seemed to sort of drag on. Being in prison comes to mind.  I guess prison is not meant to be comfortable but sitting still most of the day, every day, can make anyone break.

 

That shit was a walk in the park compared to this.  Every minute seemed like a day.  Every hour seemed like a week.  You would think there’d be a lot of pacing, and running around frantically. There wasn’t. 

 

Willow had transported Angel a few hours earlier.  He was wickedly quiet over in the corner. He hadn’t said more than a few words to any of us.  His face was a mask. I didn’t know if he was concerned about B, the baby, or what we were about to face.  After trying to talk to him, and basically being fuckin ignored like a I was a ghost.  I took up waiting again.

 

I looked at the clock.  It had been three hours. Seriously? Three fuckin hours. Someone was going to have to kill me or give me like a wetsuit or something and let me go in and get this baby out. Who the hell can wait for this shit?

 

“Faith,” Red said with her patronizing ‘you are a moron’ voice.  “Labor can take anywhere from eight to twenty-four hours.”

 

What the fuck? Why had no one told me this shit earlier?  “Are you serious?” I was wringing my hands and I started pacing again.

 

Andy and Xander were in and out. Giles was reading. A fucking book. The bastard was reading. Angel was still being big creepy broody ass corner dweller.  Ken and Satsu were playing cards.  Dawn was rubbing B’s forehead.  Red was meeting with the witches.

 

And I just kept pacing. 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Chapter 12

 

My life has been this series of whirlwinds.  Since I was a child, there was always this “calm” before the storm. I realized that this was a cliché (I did actually listen to Giles on occasion) but to me it seems like clichés are clichés for a reason.  They often did make a hell of a lot more sense than anyone wanted to admit. And I realized that “calm” is maybe not the best word in retrospect.  You could call me a lot of things truthfully, but calm was not normally one of them. But no one ever accused me of being a fuckin dictionary, okay? 

 

There might be a time when it would be smart to discuss the fucked-upness that was my childhood, but this was probably not it.  Short version though: Drunk mom - dead.  Drunk father – prison (or dead, who knew?).  Grandmother who loved me – dead. Watcher who took care of me – dead.  And every fuckin time there was a moment, just one goddamn moment when I thought, ‘hey, this shit may be okay.’ Bam!  Stupid really.

 

When I got to Sunnydale, I did try.  I’m not sure if anyone wanted to believe that, but you know; it is what it is. I was there.  I lived in that shitty ass motel for months. No one gave a damn. Hell, they didn’t even give a damn if I ate.  And still, I tried. B and her friends left me out – and I wasn’t too stupid to believe that it wasn’t intentional. And then one day, I accidentally killed a man.  You could call it the last storm I was in.  Cause I spiraled the fuck out of control like Dorothy and I didn’t stop spinning until I landed in prison.

 

All this was a given, I supposed.  But it was worth mentioning.  Because all had been quiet on my front for a while now.  Even with B coming and going.  Even with the baby. None of that had actually happened to me. It had happened around me.  I was in the calm stage.

 

I should have seen this shit fuckin coming a mile away. 

 

The other thing I noticed though… I tended to be a day late and a dollar short. (You gotta love those clichés.”)

 

 


 

 

“OH MY GOD!” Buffy was yelling. “THIS IS NOT NORMAL!”

After hours of waiting.  Hours and hours of feeling anxious, useless, lost.  It had happened.  She’d finally begin what that woman had said was active labor.  It wasn’t like she had to tell us.  The fact that Buffy had become less than modest with the, “Oh my god, please someone with big hands check to see if I am dilated,” to “GO TO HELL FAITH!” It was pretty freakin obvious.

 

“I love you too, baby,” I said.  I was not ready. I was not ready. I was not ready.

 

“I HATE YOU. I HATE EVERY ONE OF YOU,” she took a deep breath.  The latest contraction had passed.  “This is stupid.  Just reach in there and like pull it out or something.”

 

The midwife witch shook her head.  She was squarely between the thighs of my girlfriend.  I know the woman was doing her job and all.  I was still jealous.  I had yet to find that place everyone had kept telling me to go to. Like I said, this was my calm. “You are almost completely dilated.”  She sat up some.  “It won’t be long.”

 

Another contraction hit her pretty quickly.  “I’M PUSHING HER OUT.  I DON’T GIVE A DAMN. NOW.”

 

And then everything slowed down…

 

And there was that feeling.  The feeling of the calm being lifted.  The other shoe dropping. The big reveal. When the breath really is knocked out of you and everything slows down and speeds up at the same time.

 

Because right then… right then, two things happened:

 

“Okay,” Julia or whatever the hell her name was said.  “You can push.”

 

I was holding B’s hand when she pushed the first time.  She very nearly broke it.  She was that close.  I jerked it away from her. Trying to shake the feeling back into it.

 

“Faith,” Giles said.  “I think it best we keep your bones intact.”

 

I nodded. “Agreed.”

 

Dawn was on the bed, with B.  Holding her from behind. We’d agreed it was for the best, since the rest of us needed to be on alert. 

 

“B, I’m gonna just move down here,” I said, holding the scythe against my leg.

 

“WHATEVER,” she screamed back at me.

 

I smiled sadly at her, and moved to the end of the bed.  Oh holy shit!  No video prepared me for that! Mother of God!  I’ll spare you the details.  You’ve seen one video though, you’ve seen them all.

 

“One more good push,” Julie said.  Seriously, I don’t remember her name.

 

…And then I saw the blackest hair I’d ever seen begin to emerge from between B’s legs. I started doing that stupid Lamaze breathing then.  I was so close to fainting I was afraid I’d miss everything and plunge the world into darkness.

 

She pushed one more time, and this woman reached in (ewww) and pulled out the most beautiful creature I’d ever laid eyes on. I wanted to reach out. To pull her to me. I didn’t even have time to react.

 

Because then I heard…

 

“Angel. But, I…” Andy was stuttering. Normally he was known for being dramatic.  It was the way his voice broke that scared me.

 

Everything inside of me screamed grab the baby.  Grab the baby and the girl and run.  Everything. Maybe I should have listened. I really wished I would have listened.

 

I turned around to Angel walking in.  It took me a moment to realize what I was seeing.  “I... I uh…”  My brain refused to work.

 

I reached for the baby.  Buffy reached for the baby. Satsu reached for the baby. I didn’t grab the scythe.

 

“Oh my god!” Red screamed, looking at this new Angel and the one who was moving towards us slowly from the corner. 

 

Ken got up and ran at the one who’d been in the room since the beginning; he threw her off with ease.  I watched her crash into the ground. She’d just lain there. I’d never seen her so still.

 

“Faith!” Giles screamed.  “The bloody weapon.”

 

I nodded at him, watching someone else hold my child. She was crying. I recall thinking, ‘that’s good right?’ before I grabbed the scythe from between my legs. He, Kasadya, was on top of me, and he looked just like my friend.  Our Angel, the real one, was being held in some kind of mystical binds by the witches. They were afraid, I guess? Why were they afraid of him? None of it made any sense to me. They should have let him go. Why didn’t they let him go? He was looking at me. Shaking his head violently. Screaming “NO!” I couldn’t think. There wasn’t time to process what he was telling me.

 

I could feel the fuckin devil’s hands around my throat.  “I’ve been waiting to do this.” He said in the voice of my friend.

 

I heard the baby cry again, louder this time.  I admit, now, that it distracted me.  I turned to look at her.  She was so beautiful.

 

I felt his hand touch me.  My scar. He pushed it through me with an ease that would have been somewhat awe-inspiring had it not hurt like a motherfucking bitch. 

 

I heard screaming.  Screaming like I’d never heard before.  It was my own. How can someone scream like that and not know it?  When does pain stop being pain? Why was my stomach so warm all of a sudden?  It couldn’t have lasted more than a couple of seconds. But the thing about my whirlwinds – they seem fast to everyone else, but they are fuckin slow as hell to me.

 

“Faith!” I thought it was B that screamed that time.  Maybe it was someone else.  Maybe it was everyone.  I didn’t see them. What were they doing?!? Why couldn’t I see them?

 

“Waiting, waiting, waiting,” he was saying.  Smiling. He was smiling at me.

 

I shoved the scythe through him in the exact same place his hand went through my stomach. He moaned and dropped me on the ground. His face distorted in pain.  I saw his real face.  Maybe? I didn’t know. It didn’t matter. I vaguely remember thinking ‘you’re blonde’ before he fell to the ground beside me.

 

I could hear B screaming.  I honestly thought she was screaming because I was dying.  I thought I was dying.  I definitely felt like I was dying. I tried to make eye contact with her. She wasn’t looking at me.

 

The last thing I remember seeing though was not the demon dead beside me. It wasn’t the woman I love holding me. It wasn’t my friends. It wasn’t the witches. It wasn’t the hole gaping in my stomach.

 

It was my baby disappearing out of the midwife’s arms.

 


 

 

Whirlwinds, remember? I wish that I could tell you I had some epiphany in the third coma of my life.  I really couldn’t remember a thing.  It would have been nice to use that time to reflect or some mind-trippy shit like that. No such luck. I guess if B’s ass is not asleep or Angel isn’t having some sort of fuckin crisis my comas are close to useless.

 

I came around sometime later.  Apparently, Red had healed me.  It had taken her a long time to do it.  She apparently had to rest for hours afterwards.  That, if nothing else including the motherfuckin excruciating pain I was experiencing, told me I had almost died.

 

“Faith,” Kennedy whispered.  I had expected it to be B. 

 

Coming out of the first coma I was in had not been this hard.  And that had been pretty damn hard.  My eyes weighed so much.  I kept opening them and then… nothing.  I couldn’t see.  It took me a minute to realize I had never actually gotten them open in the first place.

 

“Faith?” Ken’s voice was a question now.  “You gotta open your eyes.  We sort of need you.”

 

I groaned a bit and tried to move.  “Fuck…” I whispered.

 

“Hey,” she said, when I was finally able to get them open and focus on her.

 

“How long?” I managed to ask.

 

“Two days.”

 

“Where’s…” I didn’t need the finish the question.  Her face told me more than I wanted it to.

 

“I’m going to call Buffy.  Please don’t try to get up. Seriously,” she stood to pick up the phone.  “And I know you’re going to… why do I even bother…” she mumbled, turning her back to me.

 

“Where’s Buffy?”

 

She was still mumbling into the phone.  She held up her hand behind her back.  The classic, ‘I’m on the fuckin phone, give me like me two seconds.’ Had I not just been in a goddamn coma for two days?  I’d have rather woken up to Andrew.

 

She finally turned around.  “She’s with Satsu.”

 

I let out the breath I was holding.  “Oh thank god. I thought… I thought… when I saw the baby disappear, I thought she was…” at this point I was crying. Tears of relief were a hell of a lot better than the alternative.

 

She looked at me grimly and I felt my stomach drop.  It was not a pleasant feeling, considering the fact some motherfucker had just stuck his hands through it two days early.

 

“So here’s the thing, Buffy’s coming.  Until she gets here I am going to ask you not to freak out.  I realize at this point that is a pointless request because that is all you really do.  You are ‘freak out’ girl.  But, I’m gonna ask you to do it anyway.”

 

“Ken, you’ve got about two fucking seconds to tell me what’s going on before I get out of this bed and I rip your throat out!” I growled at her, trying to sit up. Jesus Christ that hurt.

 

“Faith,” I heard B exclaim from the doorway.  She looked like… she looked like someone had died.  Her face was swollen.  Satsu was standing behind her, her arm on her shoulder.

 

“Where the fuck is my baby?!?” I asked, ignoring B. 

 

I jumped up and ripped the shit they’d put in my arm out.  Goddamn it that shit never felt good.  I could feel the adrenaline go through my veins though. I sprang at Satsu. It’s important to mention here that I was still weak as fuck.  Ken caught me like I was a damn tennis ball.

 

“Faith,” B whispered.  “It’s not her fault. She’s, she’s…gone,” she said, breaking down.

 

 What did she mean?

 

“Oh my god….”

 

“Oh god, no, Faith!” Kennedy said. “Not like that.  She’s not dead.  We know she’s not dead,” she spun on Buffy.  “I get that you are freakin out here but you need to hold it together.  Are you trying to kill her?!?”

 

“WHERE IS SHE?”

 

Red walked in then. “His name was Ethox.”

 

“Who’s name? What the fuck are you talking about?!?”

 

“The man you killed.  Do you remember anything?” She asked me.

 

I shook my head.  And then started nodding. “He was supposed to be dark. The man that looked like Angel. He was supposed to be dark. But he wasn’t. He was blonde.”

 

“A lower level minion, we assume,” she said sadly.

 

“So where was Kasadya?” I asked.  I didn’t like the looks they were giving each other.  Or the fact that no one could make eye contact with me.

 

“We don’t know,” Ken said.  She sighed as if she didn’t want to really say the next part.  “Giles is…”

 

“If you fuckin say researching, I am going to get up and go in there and stab him.”

 

She remained quiet.

 

“So you just don’t fucking know?” I stood up.  I was dizzy but I didn’t give a shit.  B went to put her hand on my shoulder and I shrugged her off.  “Don’t touch me.”  It wasn’t that I was mad at her.  She hadn’t done anything wrong.  I had. How the fuck had I messed this up so badly.  “You don’t know where he is? Or what he is doing with my…” I looked to B. She was crying, “…our baby?”

 

B was crying so hard she was heaving.  If I had to bet she’d been doing that for the last two days.  She was bent over.  Still crying. Satsu went to her when it was obvious I wasn’t going to.  She pulled her up and wrapped her arms around her.  There was a time that shit would have driven me mad.  I couldn’t even muster up enough feelings to care. She could have been holding her naked and I wouldn’t have noticed.

 

“Faith,” Red started.  “Please sit down. I healed you but you still were basically ripped in half.  I’d rather not have to do it again any time soon.”

 

I relented and Ken helped me back to the bed.  Buffy was still crying in the corner.  I kept my eyes on Red.

 

“There’s something else,” Kennedy said, making eye contact with Red and not me.

 

“What?!?”

 

“The baby disappeared right before you collapsed,” Red started.

 

I nodded. I remembered that. “I know.  So why the fuck is she,” I motioned with my hand to Satsu, “still fuckin here and my baby is not?”

 

Red had tears in her eyes.  “We didn’t notice. Not at first.  Buffy was screaming.  But we hadn’t… I mean no one had told her about the plan. So when the baby was gone, we were only concerned about you.  You were dying.  The witches were binding Angel’s powers… they thought he was a threat… I mean that’s what I thought they thought… but they didn’t… he wasn’t…”She was rambling. I wanted to choke her but I felt that would have been counterproductive.  “Satsu was gone. The baby was gone.  The big bad was gone.  We thought everything was good. And then… Satsu… she walked in. She hadn’t been transported anywhere but the basement.  She kept asking where’s the baby? Where’s the baby? Where’s the baby…” she trailed off, crying.

 

Ken started rubbing her back.  She turned to me and tried to smile.  “We didn’t see, Faith. We just trusted her.”

 

Oh god damn it. You’ve got to be kidding me. She had to be kidding me. There was no fucking way. How the fuck had we not seen that? We…

 

“…there were several of them still there.  Several of the coven members.  A lot of them. But she… she was missing.” Ken took a deep breath.  “I missed it. We all did.”

 

I got up at that point.  “Where are my clothes?”

 

“Faith,” B said.  “You’re weak. We don’t know where they are. No one does.  We’ve been looking.”

 

I ignored her and grabbed Red.  “How do you know she’s still alive?”

 

She put her hand on my heart, “I can feel her.  Can you?”

 

I nodded and pushed passed her.  “Where are my goddamn clothes?!?”

 

“Faith, we don’t even know where to begin to look?” Satsu said.

 

I turned to her and shoved her against the wall.  “Here’s what we do know… we do know that you’ve all been here for two days in this castle doing fuck all to find her.  We do know that you are all too comfortable wrapping your arms around B.” I looked at B and back to her.  “I don’t give a damn either.  You two can stay her and cuddle up and cry because you all watched her go and didn’t do a fuckin thing to stop it.  I’m not gonna sit here though.” I threw her down and turned to Red.  “You mojo me wherever it is I need to go.  Send me to every fuckin coven in this world, do you hear me? I don’t fuckin care. Every single one. I’ll take that scythe and I will kill every single woman that stands in my way.  Every. Single. Goddamn. One.”

 

I turned to go out.  To get dressed. No one apparently knew what to say. “Faith,” B said, grabbing my arm. “You can’t just go off half-cocked like this.  You could get yourself killed.”

 

I shrugged her off.  “I don’t fuckin care. Are you serious?” I could feel Ken coming up behind me.  “You best me coming with me or getting out of my goddamn way, Kennedy.”

 

Buffy grabbed my arm again.  “No, she’s not going. I am.”

 

“No,” I said. “You are staying here. Someone has to be here if we find her. If she comes back. If something happens to me. We can’t both go.”

 

“Are you mental?!?” She yelled.  “You were just in a coma!  You can’t go traipsing around the world.”

 

“Do we know where Kasayda is?” I said, looking over her shoulder at Red.

 

Red shook her head.

 

“Right. We don’t know what he has to do with this.  We don’t know what will happen to you.  I am fine. But I can’t take you with me. You are too much of a risk,” I whispered.

 

She gasped and I knew I’d gone too far.  I didn’t care though. “She is my daughter too,” she said.

 

I nodded at her. She was looking at me with the saddest eyes I’d ever seen.  I couldn’t stay here.  I would get lost in those eyes and never leave.  It was so easy. I pulled her to me.  “You have no idea how much I love you, baby,” I whispered in her hair.

 

“I’m so sorry, Faith,” she bellowed into my chest.

 

“No. no, no, no,” I said back.  “It’s not your fault. None of this is your fault.” I held her tighter against me, and kissed the side of her head.  I looked at Ken over her shoulder. 

 

She turned to Red.  “I kinda have to, you know…”

 

Red nodded at her, tears in her eyes.  “Well you can’t let her go alone.  She tends to get almost killed a lot.”

 

Kennedy laughed sadly.  “Good god, don’t I know it? I’m thinking about investing in some chainmail for her,” she said kissing her.

 

Red stepped back.  “There are some women that I still trust.  We can protect you for some time.  What they don’t realize is that I am strong.  Stronger than her. Stronger than anyone really,” she said, thoughtfully.  “It’ll take me a couple of hours, but I know where to send you first.  I know who you need to ask.”

 

“I want to go,” Satsu said.

 

I shook my head.  “Stay here with Buffy. If he comes back for her, I need you here.  You can protect everyone if she can’t.” 

 

She shook her head and walked out.  I got she was mad. I just hoped she got I didn’t give a shit.

 

I kissed B again.  I really did love her. If it was anything else in the world, I would have never left her. “I love you,” I said again. “I’ll get her back.”

 

She nodded. “I wish I could come.” I started to speak, but she kissed me and stopped me.  “I know. I know that I may seize again.  I know that something may happen.  I know I’m needed here…” she was crying, “…I know all of that.  I love you, too.  And her. I just saw her for a minute. She looked like you. Did you know that? She looked just like you...” She was still crying.

 

I held her to me.  Why was it so hard to let her go?

 

Red cleared her throat.  “We need to go talk to Giles.  And the others.”

 

They walked off and I grabbed B’s hand, and pulled her back.  “You know… we never named…”

 

“Joy,” she whispered, “After…” Her mom. She held her breath and then looked me in the eyes.  Her eyes were shining. “Is that okay?”  When did everything get so fucked up?

 

I nodded. I finally allowed myself to cry.  I was going to find Olivia.

 

And fucking KILL her.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 13

 

Losing B (until we found her again) was hard.  But, there wasn’t anything extremely pressing about the issue. It’s not that we didn’t want to find her or that we weren’t worried about her.  Neither of these things was true.  But there is a different sort of panic that sets in when you are looking for a child.  When you are looking for your child in particular.  Buffy, even at her worst, could take care of herself.  She may not have done the best job, but she could do it. There was something terrifying about the fact that a baby couldn’t do something as simple as feed herself.

 

We met everyone downstairs moments later.  I was torn between staying there with B and leaving immediately. I was aware however that nothing with the Scoobs was ever timely – you could probably blame a lot of that on me – but we were obviously going to have to meet about every single damn thing before we could go.

 

The first thing I noticed was Angel.  I nodded at him. It wasn’t as if I was really mad at him or anything, but someone who’d looked exactly like him had just stuck their hand through my stomach and distracted me from saving my daughter. So forgive me if I was little cold.

 

“Faith,” he said, “glad to see you’re feeling better.”

 

“Yeah, you know me – comas and all.  It’s like a pastime.” I thought for a moment, “I should really pick up a new hobby.” I looked at Giles, “what do we know?”

 

“Not much, I’m afraid.  We aren’t sure whom Olivia is working with.  She may be working with Kasadya or she may be working alone.  I’ve mulled over the possibility that she wants her for her powers. A child born of two slayers is an anomaly to say the very least.”

 

“How the fuck did everyone here miss this?”

 

Xander spoke up, “I for one found her incredibly creepy.  But hey witches, umm present company excluded, all tend to creep me out.”

 

I nodded. “I feel you.”

 

“Well, as prejudice as you all may be, I don’t think the fact that she’s a witch has anything at all to do with it,” Red said.

 

“Except for the fact that she is extremely powerful and can kill us with her mind,” Ken added helpfully.

 

“Well, there is that…” Red conceded. 

 

“Do we have any idea where she is?” B asked.  She sat down.  “I mean we’ve been asking this for two days now, and I know you are going to say no. But really.  Nothing?”

 

Red shook her head.

 

“So, basically you know jackshit.” I rolled my eyes, “and we really are just gonna traipse around the world until we just freakin luck upon this woman.”

 

Red sighed. “I don’t know where Olivia is. But she wasn’t working alone. The coven is a tightknit group and she had help.  I do know who can help us start though.”

 

“Who?” Dawn asked.  “And how do you know you can trust them?  We trusted her and look what she did.  I kinda figured if anyone here would know if someone was lying to them, it would be you.”

 

Giles took off his glasses.  “This isn’t really the time to be placing blame.”

 

“Well this is someone’s fault!” Dawn said.  “Someone should have seen something before this happened!”

 

Xander put his hand on her shoulder.  “We all messed up, Dawnie.”  He put his arms around her.  I couldn’t tell if she was crying or not.

 

Red was close to crying again.  I didn’t know where the hell Ken was.  “Where’s Kennedy?” I asked, as much to distract her as to find out.

 

“Upstairs,” Red answered.  “She’s getting money together.”

 

“So what exactly is the plan then?” I asked them.  “You just gonna magic us random places until we get information?”

 

Red shook her head.  She was about to answer me when Kennedy walked in.

 

“Okay, I’ve got money, cell phones,” she looked at me.  “I seriously thought about putting this thing on a string or something because I know how you tend to lose them,” she shook her head like she was distracted.  “Anyway, is there anything else we need?”

 

“No,” Willow answered.  “I can’t transport you with suitcases or anything bulky.  It’ll make me weak.  You’ll have to just buy changes of clothes.  Once you get where you’re going you call me and tell me where you need to be sent next. If you need help you call us and we can be there in seconds.  But you are going to be on your own otherwise.  I can cloak you, but don’t do anything extremely stupid like check into a hotel or something in your real name.  Just call me.  I’ll take care of aliases and locals and all that.” She sat down next to B.  “And use your instincts… And your brains. Cause, you know, sometimes the two of you… you don’t always use those.”

 

“So, just me, K, and the scythe. Got it.”

 

“You can’t take the scythe.” Red sighed.

 

Giles nodded. “You are potentially going to be in hostile environments, Faith.  If you pop up out of thin air, some of these women will kill you before you even stop vomiting.”

 

Holy shit. I’d forgotten about the puking. Damn it.  Wait.  “What the hell do you mean we can’t take the scythe?”

 

Buffy stood up and walked over to me.  “We’ll send it to you as soon as you need it.  All you have to do is let us know.  You can’t engage Olivia, even if you do find her…” her voice trailed off, a sense of hopelessness behind it.

 

“It’s recon, Faith,” Angel said.  “We will rendezvous with you once you determine the location of the witch.”

 

“Dude, did you eat an army guy last night?”

 

He rolled his eyes at me.

 

“Do not go anywhere without letting us know.  Your phones can’t be tracked and you need to check in as much as possible.” She looked between me and Ken.  “And by that I mean more than once a day.”

 

“Got it, boss,” K said.  “Check in once a day.”

 

“Ugh, more than once a day!” Red said.

 

“I know, I know, I’m kidding. “

 

“So, where are we going?” I asked.

 

“I don’t know,” Red answered.

 

“Excuse me?”

 

“I just mean I don’t know your location.  I do know who I’m sending you to.  I don’t know where they are.”

 

“Do they know we are coming at least?” Ken asked.

 

Red shook her head.  “No. It’s too dangerous.”

 

“Let me get this straight.  We are popping in on some coven.  You don’t know where. And they don’t know we’re coming.  And then we’re gonna what… try to get them to give us information while not puking our guts up on them?”

 

“Pretty much,” she shrugged.

 

“Okay, just checking.”

 

“You will, hopefully, end up outside of the home they are occupying. At least then you can get your bearings. Hopefully,” she added unnecessarily again.

 

“Or we could not so hopefully end up in like a pond or toilet or something?” Ken asked.

 

“It’s not an exact science,” Red said.

 

“You need a coat,” B said, jumping up and running out of the room.

 

She ran back with one.  “Uh, why?” I asked.

 

“For all we know they may be in Alaska.  Or Antarctica.  Or regular Artica.” Buffy said.

 

“Umm is there a regular Artica?” I asked.

 

She shrugged. “There is, right?” She asked, looking at Giles.

 

“No. However she is right. You should layer. I know that it is cold here in Scotland but there are places colder.”

 

I shrugged my jacket on and so did Ken.  It weighed about six thousand pounds and changed my body temperature by at least twenty degrees. 

 

“Bring her back,” Dawn said, hugging me.

 

“I will.” I whispered.

 

We said our good-byes.  Hugs all around. There are always an inordinate amount of hugs being given when someone was most likely about to be hurdled to their death.  Red and Ken were huddled over in the corner.  I pulled B to me.

 

“I love you,” she whispered, reaching up and kissing me.

 

“I love you too.”

 

She was holding me, which most likely was funny due to the fact that my jacket was so damn big she couldn’t really get her arms all the way around me. “Be safe.”

 

“Always.”

 

“And…” she could barely talk.

 

“I will,” I answered anyway.  I knew what she was gonna say.

 

She pulled away and looked at Ken.  “Make sure both of my girl get back in one piece, please,” she said to her.

 

“Don’t worry,” Ken said, hugging her.  If I hadn’t known better, I would have said she was leering at me, like ‘lookie here, I’m hugging your hot girlfriend.’

 

“Okay,” Red said, clapping her hands together.  “You two hold hands.”

 

“Oh come on,” we both moaned at the same time.

 

“I mean it,” Red said, her mom voice full on now. 

 

“Damn it,” Ken muttered grabbing my hands.

 

Red started chanting and everyone in the room grew quiet.  I kept my eyes trained on B the whole time.  She was trying to smile.  I sorta wished she’d not done that.  It was hard enough leaving her, but watching her force herself to look happy was sort of sickening.  I had a feeling she felt about as bad as I did.  The room started going dark…

 


…Jesus god, that never got any easier.  I was bent over as soon as I got my bearings.  I vomited onto the grass I had landed in.  Ken was standing beside me doing the same.

 

“Seriously. Next time we do this, we’ve got to remember tooth brushes,” she said, wiping her mouth as she stood up.

 

First thing we noticed.  We certainly weren’t in Artica… “So, yeah,” I said.  “Puking, bad enough.  Being seven thousand degrees while doing it, much much worse.” I shrugged the coat off and the long-sleeved shirt I had on.  Ken did the same.

 

We started looking around then.  “Where the hell do you think we are?” She asked.

 

“Somewhere way fuckin closer to the equator.”  I held my head.  “I feel like I just came out of a coma.”

 

“You’re too funny,” she said, pulling her collar away from her neck. She started turning around. In the distance was a house. It was situated on a cliff and the only one within view for miles.  “I see ocean,” she mused.

 

I motioned to the house. “You think that’s the place?” I asked her.

 

She shrugged. “Who knows?  That house is on a freakin cliff.  Who the hell builds a house on a cliff?  You think Will was sending us to the dumbest witches first? Like maybe, they’d be easier to extract information from or something?” 

 

I heard a buzzing noise before I could answer her.  She cocked an eyebrow at me and reached into her pocket for her phone. “Yeah… yeah… we are here… no… I don’t exactly know where here is,” She turned in a circle.  “Palm trees.  A cliff. Ocean,” she was narrating as she turned. “House,” she finished.  “Nope, we haven’t… well because I’m talking to you.  And we vomited, but that probably goes without saying. Okay, I’ll tell her.” She looked at me. “Will says Buffy said to check your pockets of the coat.”  She continued mumbling as I bent over and retrieved it.

 

Shit. My cell phone. I pulled it out and threw the coat back down.  Ken rolled her eyes at me. “I’ll call as soon as I know something,” she was making the mouth moving hand motions.  “No.  No! No I’m not. I wouldn’t make fun of you! Okay, okay.  Yeah. Love you too, bye.” She put her phone away and smiled at me.  “So I figure we can double the time this entire adventure is going to take if we have to talk to them every time we take five steps.”

 

“So, I guess we go to the house,” I said, patting my pocket to make sure my cell phone was in there.  “And then we… well, what the hell do we do?  Say, hi…I’m Faith and this is Kennedy, you don’t know us but we lost our baby.”

 

“Well, technically she’s not ‘our’ baby.”

 

“Come on,” I moaned, pulling her behind me.

 

We mulled over barging in through the door.  Ken said maybe we could sneak in a window.  Or wait until dark and break in.  We decided on knocking instead. I’m not entirely sure when normalcy flew out the window for us.  I mean, normal people like knock and shit, right?  So we knocked.

 

A very large man answered the door.  He was large. Like big.  Like not stocky.  Like well over six feet tall and definitely all of three hundred pounds. “Business?”

 

“Umm… pleasure,” Ken answered, looking at me through the corner of her eyes. She was definitely thinking the exact same thing I was thinking which was a mixture of ‘holy shit’ and ‘for real?’.

 

I elbowed her. She was gonna get us turned into toads before we even got in the fuckin house.  Seriously, Andrew would have been better here too. “We need to see the coven,” I said.  It wasn’t like I was scared of the motherfucker, but come on.  The guy was a bruiser.  He was definitely like Filipino or Hawaiian. So we were somewhere in the South Pacific, I gathered.  Helluva lot better than the North Pole at least.

 

“Regarding?” He asked.  Apparently he could only communicate in one-word sentences.  S’all good though.

 

“We are looking for someone.  Her name is Olivia. We thought you,” I motioned with my head to show I meant the people inside the house, “could help us.”

 

“Name?”

 

“Faith,” I said.  I was going to tell him my last name but what the hell, ain’t like he would be able to repeat it.

 

I elbowed Kennedy.  “Kennedy,” she muttered.

 

“Stay,” he commanded and shut the door.

 

“So…” she said.

 

“Umm… yeah…”I answered.

 

“You think he’s real or like some dog or gorilla they turned into a man?” Sometimes her mind went to places that just confused me.

 

“I couldn’t tell you.” I answered her.  I was distracted to say the least.

 

Before she could reply, the door opened again.  “Come,” Mighty Joe Young commanded.

 

We followed him inside.  We tried to look around the room but he blocked our view with his massive head.  “Here,” he said, holding out blindfolds.

 

“Oh hell no,” Kennedy said.

 

He reached behind her and opened the door.  “Leave,” he said.

 

Fuck. This didn’t feel all that good.

 

“Fine,” Ken muttered, jerking the blindfolds out of his hand and handing one to me.

 

As soon as we had it situated over our eyes, he grabbed our hands and led us, what I assume was with his arms behind his back.  We walked down a hallway.  “Step,” he said.

 

“Uh…” Ken started.

“Quiet,” he’d said.

 

Luckily we both had slayer senses.  The stairway was long and winding and I think it took us close to five minutes to get to the bottom. It felt very much like we were descending into hell. 

 

Neither of us was talking, which was weird.  I was just concentrating on that fact that she was breathing. I held my hand out to touch her, but the stairs seemed to be surrounded by emptiness or a something that I couldn’t sense, which meant that if we tripped I doubted we’d land on our feet.

 

“Here,” the big lumbering asshole finally said.  I fully expected to take off my blindfold and see like flames shooting out of the ground and you know, licking our feet and shit.

 

“Holy shit,” Ken said.  We were standing at the end of the staircase.  There was door in front of us.  The room was rock. It hadn’t taken me long to figure out we were in the cliff.  All of a sudden building the house on its edge made a helluva lot more sense. Ken was staring up at the staircase. “Dude, we just walked down that.”

 

I looked up. It was high, yes, but it was also extremely narrow and spindly.  How we had not fallen off even with slayer senses is quite amazing. “Maybe our slayer senses are more awesome than we thought?”

 

She nodded at me.  We both looked at the big guy. He’d moved to walk back up the stairs. “Bye.”

 

“So, we sit here and wait for the devil to open that big ass door or…” Ken started.

 

“… see again, do we knock?  I swear I don’t know protocol for shit like this.”

 

She nodded, “We knock.  I feel like when we just barge into situations, we end up with shit in our hair.”

 

“Are you speaking metaphorically?” I smirked at her.

 

“I wish,” she sighed.

 

She raised her hand to knock and the door opened before she had a chance.

 

“Hi,” the little girl said, smiling up at us.

 

“Emily?” Kennedy said.  I’m glad she remembered her name.  Why was I so sucky at that?

 

Now I knew why Red couldn’t tell us.  “They just let you answer the door?”

 

“Sometimes. When the people are safe. People who aren’t safe don’t get down here,” she said with a finality that was a little spooky.

 

We both turned to look up at the stairs now that light was filling the room. “Holy shit,” we both murmured.

 

“Ladies,” Cassandra said, walking up behind her.  She opened the door and motioned for us to walk in.  “We are looking for a baby, no?”

 

We both nodded mutely at her.  We’d walked into a room that was the size of the entire bottom floor of the castle. The back wall was entirely made of glass. I could see the ocean. “This is impressive.” Kennedy said.

 

“We try.”

 

“Do you know where she is?” I asked her.  I was nervous.  I didn’t want to hurt her, or rather attempt to hurt her so she could kill us both in slow and painful ways. There was something about her that made me feel safe though. Possibly the fact that she’d done whatever necessary to protect the little girl standing in front of us, staring.

 

She motioned for Emily to leave the room.  The little girl ran and touched a panel next to a bookshelf.  It moved.  “See you after a while!” She called to us.

 

We both waved sort of slack-jawed.  We weren’t expecting that. 

 

“The house holds many secrets.” She motioned for us to sit down.  “But the baby, yes and no.”

 

“What does that mean?” Kennedy said.

 

“It means I know where she is,” she thought for a moment, searching, it seemed, for the right word.  “I know location. I do not know exactly. But I can send you elsewhere for more help once you get there.” I must have been getting antsy. “There is much you do not know, though. I should tell you. The more you know the better you will be.”

 

“So tell us,” I wanted to be gracious, really, but Jesus H. she was being so goddamn cryptic and witch-like, it was creeping me out.

“There was so much we didn’t know.  I do not like this. Feeling helpless… and our daughter is okay.” She looked at me and touched my hand.  “Yours is too.  I do not think Olivia took her to hurt her.”

 

“What do you mean your daughter is okay?  What did she do to her?”  Kennedy asked. “Did you lie to us? Did she threaten you and you lied to us?”

 

“No. I am sorry.  I misspoke.  I am nervous. I did not mean it that way. I believe she made Emily see things. Things that she told you. And Buffy.  She was certain.  But she is not certain now. She says things are different and she doesn’t see him anymore.”

 

She was much more flustered than the last time.  Her English was broken and confusing.  I watched her take a deep breath and tried to give her the benefit of the doubt.  I mean she was just as worried as I was.

 

“So what? You don’t know what she saw?” Kennedy asked her.

 

“No we know she saw Kasadya, but we are just not certain why she saw him?”

 

“Meaning?” I asked. I was getting impatient.

 

“Meaning, someone put those thing into her head.”

 

“Who?” I asked, possibly a little louder than necessary.

 

“We think Olivia.  I do not like that she has that kind of power.  Your witch though, she is stronger.”

 

“So what do we need to know?” Kennedy asked.

 

“There is a prophecy,” she started, and Kennedy and I both groaned. I mean really, another fucking prophecy? Seriously?  She must have noticed our hesitation because she smiled slightly.  “I understand they are sometimes silly but it is the prophecy of a great child being born.  Of two women. Two women who share a soul. This baby will be special.”

 

“What the hell does that mean?”  I asked. Special? 

 

“I do not know. I do not know her path in life. I have only studied those paths that cross mine.  But she is mentioned. In the Book of Lore. It does not mention slayers specifically and so your witch probably has not consulted it.  But you must tell her to do so.  When you leave here.” She sighed.  “When you leave here… which you must do soon.”

 

“Okay, so why would Olivia want the baby then? Is she evil?” Ken said. I eyed her.  “Ugh, Olivia, I mean, not the baby.”

 

“I do not know that any one person is all good or all bad.  I think she has darkness in her that she cloaked.  I am uncertain as to why she wants the baby though. I do know that she has not harmed her,” she touched my face, “ because you feel her, do you not?”

 

I nodded. I could tell, somehow that she was alive.  That didn’t really help because I didn’t know where she, but it was something.

 

“Yes. You have changed. Your aura.  I can tell you Olivia is in a city in your country. An old city.  The French one,” she looked thoughtful for a moment. “New Orleans,” she drug out the last syllable of the word.  “She has a coven there she finds comfort with.  I have a friend there.  I can tell you no more than that.” She looked at me pleadingly.  “Please understand, I am endangering many things by helping you. But your Elizabeth did a good deed for us once, and it is our time to repay her.  I hope you find her and that we are able to see in you the happiness we have found.”

 

Before either Ken or I could respond, Cassandra raised her hands and…

 

…we woke up, vomiting once again, on a side street.  A rat ran across my feet. A fucking rat.  Seriously, we were at the beach and I was pretty sure now I was in a sewer.  It was night. There was a courtyard behind us.  At least it was still hot here. Thank God that is since we’d left our fuckin coats back at that creepy cliff house.

 

“Are we…”Ken trailed off, wiping her mouth again.  “God the first thing I’m buying is a fuckin toothbrush.” She walked to the back of the courtyard.  There was a plaque. “Rue Royale,” she said slowly.

 

“What the hell is that?” I asked

 

She turned to me and smiled. “Got any beads?”

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 14

 

I traveled all over the country before I made it to Sunnyhell.  But I never made it to New Orleans.  And honest to god, it was like a totally different city than any other in the States.  The buildings were different and the streets were more European (well the few I’d seen thus far) and most importantly it was hotter than ten hells here.

 

“Ugh,” Ken said, “We gotta buy clothes,” she said pulling her shirt away from her stomach. “Why’s it so damn hot here? At freakin night?”

 

I shrugged. “Humidity.”

 

“Oh, I forgot about the degree you had in… well whatever it is that meteorologist get their degrees in.”

 

“Shut up. It doesn’t take a freakin genius to figure out its humid here.  We just aren’t used to it.” I looked around. There was not a whole helluva lot to tell us where we were.

 

“So,” Ken said, stepping on the sidewalk.  “Do we stay here and look at each other…” and then buzzing, “…Jesus,” she mumbled pulling out her phone.  “Hello… oh hey. Yeah…” she pulled her phone away from her ear. “Check your pocket,” she told me.

 

I patted them. I pulled the phone out, waved it in her face, and smiled at her.  Haha. I am awesome.

 

“…yeah, it’s off,” she said rolling her eyes at me. 

 

I flipped her off.

 

She turned her back on me. “Right, I’ll let you talk to her in like two minutes, but can I tell Will where we are and stuff?”

 

She was always so sweet to B.  Ugh.

 

“Hey, babe,” she said.  “New Orleans… Yeah, that’s what I said.  Well no, we were…” she turned around and looked at me. 

 

I shrugged. I wasn’t sure where we were earlier. “A beach,” I mouthed. What?  That was helpful.

 

She rolled her eyes again.“…well somewhere not here.  Yeah… well yeah, she sent us here.  She thinks Olivia is here… we don’t know.  Yeah, she said she’d tell us someone we should meet here… yeah but she didn’t…just that there’s a coven here that Olivia may know or something.  We kinda need a room… and new clothes… it’s hot as hell here…”

 

I was dancing from foot to foot holding out my hand.  I wanted to talk to Buffy.  “Give me the damn phone.”

 

“Hang on Will,” she put her hand over the phone.  “You have a phone,” she said to me like I was as slow as I was feeling.

 

I pulled it back out, turned it on and called B’s number.  “Faith,” she said, screaming on the other line. “keep your phone on!”

 

“I’m sorry,” I said.  “It must have gotten turned off in transport or something.”

 

I swear I could hear her rolling her eyes.  “Did you even turn it on?”

 

“Possibly,” I tried.  “I miss you.” Easier that way.

 

“Aww, I miss you too,” she said sadly.  I hated when she was sad.  “You okay?”

 

“Yeah. I just saw a rat.” Sometimes, I wondered why I had to tell her everything I was always thinking.  If you knew how many times that shit had gotten me in trouble, you’d understand how stupid it was.

 

“Well that’s exciting,” she sighed.  “So… New Orleans?  You think she’s there?”

 

“S’what Cassandra said.”

 

“Are you sure you are okay?”

 

I wasn’t. I missed her.  I wanted to find my baby.  Kill the witch.  Go home and kiss the girl. That was it.  I wasn’t asking for too much was I?  “I’m fine, babe. I just want to find her and come home. She said Olivia was here. And, I just miss you…” I added, quietly.

 

We talked about what Cassandra had told us.  I told her about the creepy staircase to hell and the manimal who answered the door. It was good to hear her laugh.

 

“Umm, B… Ken is giving me the wrap it up sign,” I said.  Kennedy was tapping her foot and rolling her eyes. “So I gotta go. I love you.”

 

“I love you too, Faith.  Please hurry up and come back.  Or I’m coming there,” she said.

 

I wanted to tell her to.  I wanted to see her. It had been forever since I’d slept without her.  Well, coma aside. “I’m gonna hurry,” I told her.

 

We got off the phone after saying “I love you” and “I love you more” about ten times. Kennedy, at one point, was making kissy faces at me.  At another point, she threw a rock at my head. 

 

“You are such a girl. It’s gross.”

 

I smirked at her.  “You’re jealous.”

 

“Whatever. We have a room. Will said to check our pockets.” We both stuck our hand in and pulled out driver’s licenses and passports. “Oh my god.  That still freaks me out.  I don’t know why,” she said.

 

I nodded. It was creepy that Red could just magic shit to us. 

 

She continued,” so we have a room at some place called Hotel Monteleone. She said we’d have clothes in our room and a valet ticket for a car,” she reached back into her pocket and pulled out a room key. “Damn that’s freaky,” she said, shaking her head.

 

We walked up Royale Street, or Rue Royale, whatever… anyway, we walked looking for the hotel.

 

“Yeah, so Red didn’t go for the subtle, huh?” I said staring at the front once we got there.

 

Ken shrugged. “She said – we have all this money and Giles doesn’t have to know – and then she cleared her throat and shit since I figure he walked in the room.  She said we were in the William Faulkner room.  I don’t even know what that means.  But we kinda gotta act like we do.”

 

I didn’t mention to her that William Faulkner was an author.  Again, I do listen to Giles on occasion.

 

A little known fact about Kennedy, here.  She’s from money.  A lot of money actually. So when we have to go some place like this, she always just walks right in like she fuckin owns the place. (Which, I gotta admit, she just might – like I said, a lot of money).

 

Attitude aside, it didn’t take us long to find the room.  Considering it was pretty much its own floor of the hotel. “Holy shit,” I said. “Why the hell do we need a room this big?  I bet this shit is costing a fortune.”

 

Ken shrugged. “Gotta be a grand a night. She said we needed a big room for when we found Olivia.  They’d have to come. Yada Yada Yada,” she said.

 

I looked at her sideways.  “I realize they ramble, but you’ve gotta listen to everything they say.”

 

She shrugged, “I listen to the important stuff.”

 

I cocked an eyebrow at her.  Kennedy heard about a tenth of everything Red said.   Come to think of it, so did I.

 

She continued exploring around the room.  “This place is massive.  Dude, this Faulkner guy must be like a sheik or some shit.”

 

“You do know he’s a very famous American author?  I was never sure if she was stupid or just pretended to be.

 

“How many famous authors are there living today?  Stephen King?  J.K. Rowling? I’ve never heard of him.”

 

Jesus god. “He’s dead, dumbass. He’s been dead. He was a famous author. Sound and the Fury?” I asked.

 

She looked at me and I looked at her.  We were in this staring match of ‘who’s the dumbass?’  “I. Don’t. Care.” She said, as if she were talking to a very small child. “I forgot you read, you know Pre-Buffy, after slaying.  It’s easy to forget because I was like screwing my hot girlfriend and stuff.”

 

And just like that, she wins.  “Ugh,” I moaned, walking off.

 

She continued exploring. “And, we got clothes! And a toothbrushes. Thank Jesus!  And a ticket for our car…”  She looked down at it… “Yeah, you need to call and thank Xander for this shit. Cause this is…” she threw the ticket at me, “so not Willow or Buffy’s doing.”

 

“Oh. My. God.” The tag read Maserati.  How the fuck had they pulled that off?  I thought about it for a minute.  “That shit’s not that discreet.”

 

“Who said we had to be discreet? Besides, who the hell is gonna expect us to show up in that car?  I mean, really?”

 

I reached in my pocket again.  I wanted to call Xand and rub it in or thank him (depended on whether her not he’d set that up). I was shallow, I know, but I also wanted to talk to B again.  I didn’t like being this far away from her.  The faster we were out of this city the better.  I wanted to get Joy and jet ASAP.

 

There was a small piece of paper tucked behind my phone.  I pulled it out and looked at Ken.  “I don’t think this was there earlier.”

 

“What’s it say?”

 

“It’s an address.  On St. Ann?”

 

“Cassandra?” She asked.

 

I nodded. She tried to grab the valet ticket from me.  “Oh… fuck no. You are not driving that car first. Plus, you know, you need to navigate.”

 

We quickly changed clothes and cleaned ourselves up a bit.  I was in a hurry to get out of the hotel room and find this bitch. I needed to kill her and get my baby. I’d been trying really hard not to think about it.  I know, I know – denial girl, here.  I had always been really good at that whole outta sight outta mind shit.  It wasn’t like I didn’t think about her.  I just couldn’t think about her.  It didn’t make sense obviously.  But how did you miss someone you didn’t even really know so much that it hurt to think about them?

 

“Faith? Faith?” Ken was waving her hand in front of my face. 

 

“What?” I mumbled.

 

“Okay, that’s twice you’ve spaced out.” We were waiting on the car.  “Once in the elevator and once here.  So… I’m gonna drive.  This baby has built in nav.  All you have to do is sit back till we get there.”

 

I nodded, not wanting to argue.  I was tired all of a sudden.  I wondered if transporting gave you jetlag.

 

Ken called Red and told her where we were going.  She gave her the address and told her she’d call her if she had any trouble.

 

We pulled up to a nightclub in a different part of town.  Obviously this was not a tourist scene.  There were a few men sitting outside.  They started whistling when we got out of the car.

 

“Ohhh shâ, you gotta nice car there, girl.” One of the men said whistling.  “Who ya looking for? Ya’ll ain’t from around here…”

 

“We’re looking for…”Ken stopped and looked at me. Who were we looking for?

 

Fuck it.  “Cassandra sent us.”

 

All three of the men sat up.  “Sorcière,” one of the other men hissed and ran inside.

 

“Ah, pay him no mind.  We’ll find who ya lookin for.” He motioned to us to follow. “We don’t get many pretty girls down dis way.  Been a while,” he said, shaking his head. “Well before Katrina.”

 

He led us inside the club.  No one paid us any attention.  I guess they were used to weird shit happening here.  Also it was dark and smoky as hell.  Because people were smoking and all.  Sometimes I liked to state the obvious.  Obviously.

 

He was talking to us as he led us through the club. “You looking for Marie Therese. She through dere,” he said, pointing through a curtain.

 

Behind the curtain was a woman of indeterminable age.  I mean I know she was an age, all right?  But I couldn’t tell.  She could have been thirty or sixty.  She was a black lady, or Creole maybe? Average build?  I couldn’t tell.  Anyway, she had this long white dress on.  Like all the way to her feet, which were bare, and on her head was this white turban. It was made out of the exact same material as the dress and covered all her hair.  If she had hair.  I couldn’t really tell that either.  What caught my attention though were her eyes.  I’d never seen eyes like that.  They were almond shaped, but that wasn’t it… they were so blue, I mean blue like the ocean if a kid drew it with crayons. I had never ever seen eyes like that before. It was an odd combination and not one you normally see.  I had a feeling she’d used those eyes a number of times to distract her enemies. Assuming she had them, I mean. Enemies.

 

“So, Cassandra send ya, huh?” She asked.  Her accent was Creole. Or Cajun.  I didn’t know.  I needed to ask Giles the difference.  It was like something you hear on TV.  I’d never met someone like that in person.  Okay, obviously I was gushing here, but I couldn’t help it. Again, the eyes.

 

We both nodded at her.  Neither of us was saying anything.  Ken was as enraptured with her as I was.

 

“You got names?” She laughed.  “Or are ya just gonna stand dere staring at me.  What’s a matter with ya?  Never seen a black woman before?”  She laughed again. We noticed there were other people in the room then and they were laughing with her.  Obviously she was in control.

 

“Actually,” Ken said thoughtfully, snapping herself out of her trance faster than me, “I haven’t seen a black lady in a while. Well that’s not exactly true, those coven women are always hanging around…”

 

Marie Therese sat up and looked at us.  “Da coven, ya say? Which one?”

 

“A bunch of different ones actually…” Ken started. 

 

“How ya know Cassandra?” She asked, looking at me.  “You da mother, child?”

 

I was still looking in her eyes at this point.  I shook my head to wake myself up.  “Whose mother?”

 

“Da baby’s mother, child, da baby’s mother.  She got two mothers now, don’t she?” She winked at me.  Holy crap.  I couldn’t tell whether or not I was in becoming infatuated with this woman or terrified of her.

 

“Yes, I’m the other one.” I said. 

 

Kennedy elbowed me. “But not the one that gave birth.  She’s the daddy one,” she said, by dumbass way of explanation.

 

“Ha Ha. Ya funny, girl. Da daddy one.  You all hear dat?” She said, turning to her… well whoever the hell these people were all sitting around here staring at us.

 

They laughed good-naturedly as slaves and minions are wont to do.

 

“Yeah, so Cassandra she gave us this address.  Are you who we’re supposed to see?” I finally asked.  We could sit here all night and play this game of… well whatever the hell it was we were doing.

 

She nodded, still smiling.  “Cassandra’s généreuse. I trust her.  So I trust ya too.  Ya lookin for your baby, and I know where she be.”

 

“Where?!?” Ken and I both screamed at the same time.

 

“Dere is a woman; she live on Dumaine,” she snapped her fingers and someone brought her a piece of a paper.  I kept fucking forgetting there were other people in the room.  “Her name Brigette.  She know your Olivia,” She put her hand on my arm and it felt like it was on fire. I jumped back. “I’m sorry.  You need to know.  Olivia is strong.  So is Brigette. She don’t play by de same rules as de rest of us.  You don’t go without your witch.” She turned to Ken then. “Your witch?” she asked with eyebrows raised.

 

Ken didn’t answer her but this woman nodded all the same.

 

“You don’t go without her.  You call her when you get to your hotel.  She protected it and you’re safe dere. And wait.” She looked at me again. “Olivia, she go nowhere with de baby. She be here tomorrow. You call your soul-mate. You need her here. She stronger than you.” Well that was a big fat fucking duh, huh?

 

She waved her arms, “You all go together.  And be prepared for Brigette.” She snapped her fingers again and another person brought her a book.  “You give dis to de witch. She know what to do. Trust no one else in dis city. You go tomorrow night. You won’t find dem during de day.”

 

She handed Ken the piece of paper.

 

“Hey, there’s nothing on this,” Ken said.

 

“I know you two will go.  If I give you de address, you would go now.” She said. 

 

We both looked down, kind of embarrassed. 

 

“It’s okay cause I understand.  I’d go too. But it’s too dangerous for you alone. You need de witch. De witch can read dis. And no one else. You tell her I said hi. I heard bout her. I always think it funny she named after a tree.  She powerful enough to succeed.  You two get yourselves and de baby killed.  Too dangerous,” she said, clucking her tongue.

 

She waved her hands and we were rushed outside.  I tried to turn around but several people were pushing us towards the exit. Normally I could have fought them off.  I had a lot of shit to ask this woman.  But it was like I was high.  I couldn’t do anything but fucking walk straight to the door in some kind of magically induced haze.

 

We got outside. Our car was parked right where we left it.  No one had so much as touched it.

 

And then I turned around. There was nothing fucking there. Not a club.  Not a person.  Just an old rundown house.  There were no lights anywhere.  As far as my slayer senses could tell, there wasn’t a living thing around beside Ken and I.

 

It was the fucking spookiest shit I’d ever seen.

 

“Holy shit,” Ken said.  “What the hell?”

 

“I don’t know,” I said, getting in the driver’s side, “but I say we get the fuck outta dodge and do what that spooky ass woman said.”

 

“What do you think about what she said?” Ken asked.  She was shaking a little.  I tried not to notice, cause honestly, she’s not normally scared of shit.

 

“I think we have to trust her.  I just couldn’t, you know, get a read on her.  I’ve fuckin hated Olivia since the day I met her.  I didn’t get that with her.  But how the hell are we supposed to know if that is not her mojo-ing us or something.”

 

She sighed. “Well she’s right about calling Will. We probably are safer in the room. And it’s not like we have much of a freakin choice now.”

 

I sighed. She was right. I drove through the city as fast as I can.  I wanted to talk to B. I wanted to see her. The woman said I’d need her. I had to say… thank god for that. I wanted my baby back. Both of them. 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 15

 

I didn’t know how I was supposed to just wait.  We couldn’t go tonight because Marie Therese had warned us against it.

 

“Will said they would be here in a couple of hours.”

 

“A couple of hours is too late, Ken.  We’ll have to wait till tomorrow night then.”  I was getting antsy.  Another day away from her. Who the fuck knew what that witch was doing to our baby?  I was going crazy sitting in this big ass room waiting. 

 

She nodded. She was my best friend for a reason. She was as impatient as I was. Okay, so possibly that is not a great reason to choose a friend, but so what?  “Well Dumaine isn’t that far from here?”

 

“We don’t know the address…”

 

“But…”

 

“But…”

 

“We could do some recon, you know like Angel said?”  She asked me. She walked in the bedroom.  “Jesus!”

 

“What?!?” I said jumping up and following her.

 

“They magicked like twelve bags here.  She sent us one. One bag of clothes.  And they get twelve.” 

 

There were a dozen suitcases in front of us.  A baby bag included.  “Look,” I whispered, walking over to it.  I opened it up. They’d packed for her. There were all these little clothes and shit. Little pink hats and pink dresses.  Pink shirts and pink shoes.  There was a helluva lot of pink honestly. We needed to have a talk about that. I picked up an outfit that was a one piece; a sleeper B had called it once.  I held it to my face.  It should have smelled like a baby.  It didn’t. I felt a knot rise in my throat.

 

Ken put her hand on my shoulder.  I hated I was so transparent sometimes.  “Okay, so the way I see this it can go one of two ways,” she said. “First, we can stand here and you can get all emotional and start crying.  It’s a valid response, and I’m not gonna stop you.  We’ll hug, because I feel that’s the only thing we can do, and I’ll tell you I love you and you’re my best friend and everything’ll be okay. We’ll go through Joy’s bag and look at all her clothes. Cause Jesus, who bought all the pink?  But it’ll make you sad and we’ll hug some more, because that’s what people do and I’ll tell you I love you again, even thought it goes without saying.” She smiled at me. “A valid option, like I said. Of course, later after we find Joy and kill that bitch, and everyone’s happy, you and I, we’ll be all awkward. It’ll be okay at first. But awkwardness, it grows. Pretty soon one of us will have to move out.  I’ll only see Joy at Christmas and birthdays.  She’ll call me Aunt Ken, that extremely fun Aunt I never see.  Why is that mom?  You won’t have a good answer cause it’ll take you back to here.  Right now.  You’ll remember the hugging and the loving that should have gone without saying.  Then you won’t invite me to Christmas.  Then birthdays.  Will will have to go alone.  This’ll drive a wedge between me and her and she’ll start to hate me.  It won’t take long for her to leave me after that. Then I’ll start drinking. Spiraling out of control. I’ll end up in Mexico City, dead somewhere on the side of the road.  Vampire or liver induced.  It’ll be sad. You’ll feel guilty. Or you won’t.  It’ll have been a long time since you’ve seen me, so you’ll probably just get over it.”

 

I rolled my eyes at her.  “Okay, so that sounds like it’ll be a whole lot more trouble than it’s worth.  What’s option two?”

 

She smiled again.  “So, option two. You and me, we go look around. I mean I know we have to lay low, so we won’t take the car.  Which is sucky, but I’m willing to compromise.  So we do recon, maybe get a drink.  Just one. Check out the city and wait for our respective better halves to get here.  And the rest of the castle, based on the number of bags they sent. So, which one?”

 

“Option one,” I said.

 

“Oh come on. Really?” She feigned injury and grabbed her chest.  “You want me to die in a ditch.”

 

“I thought it was the side of the road?”

 

“There could be ditches on the sides of roads.”

 

I put my arm around her shoulders.  “I really don’t want to be the reason you die, so yeah… let’s go with option two.”

 

“I knew you’d see it my way.”

 


 

 

So… New Orleans.  Yeah, it’s a weird town. We made our way through the French Quarter, walking up and down Bourbon Street.  We’d intentionally ignored Dumaine because we didn’t want to raise any unnecessary suspension.   We were impatient, not stupid.  Though I wanted to just charge in and grab my baby, there were a few things that were standing in my way. One, we didn’t know where she was. Two, if they saw us and we didn’t see them, who’s to say they wouldn’t just jet to the next city. Holy shit, besides the fact I’d kill myself, B would certainly kill me first.  And she definitely wouldn’t make it quick. 

 

We passed a man riding a horse.  Not a police officer, because that would’ve made sense.  Nope.  Just a dude on a horse.  We both stopped walking and stared at each other. 

 

“That’s an interesting mode of transportation,” Kennedy said.

 

“People jut come here and get wasted, don’t they?” I asked her.  “I mean I’m sure there’s other things here that people could possibly want to come and see.  But in the end, it’s just about the wasted, huh?”

 

She shrugged. There was some girl vomiting in front of us.  “It looks like a lot of fun. Well except for that part.”  We kept walking.  “If we ever get magically transported here again, at least we won’t have to worry about landing in the middle of a crowded street vomiting.”

 

The upside to the city, you can drink in the streets.  We bought some fruity concoction that was the city’s signature drink. “Damn,” I said. “It’s a good thing we’re slayers, cause this shit is wicked strong.”

 

“It’s like liquid jolly ranchers.  This shit should be illegal.”

 

“It probably is in most places.”

 

We continued walking.  It was pretty evident there wasn’t much else we were going to find.  Most of the people out were drunk frat boys and silly girls. I was pretty sure there were a lot of babies gonna be made tonight but no one would know anything about mine, or have a clue about sorcery and witches and voodoo, unless it came in the form of some doll sold a side street.

 

Still, it was nice to get out of that room for a while.  I couldn’t think in there.  Or maybe, I was thinking too much.  Thinking got me in trouble.  And it led to hugs apparently.  And neither one of us could have that.

 

After a couple of hours of just hanging out and two more of the nastiest drinks we’d ever had, we realized what time it was and scooted back to the hotel.

 

It should go without saying that we were too late.

 

“Faith?!?” I heard B scream when we opened the door.

 

I winked at her and spread my arms to hug her.  Mistake.

 

She clocked me in the cheek.  “Where the hell have you been!?!”

 

“Jesus Christ, B.  Good to see you too.” I said, holding my cheek.

 

“Wanna hug me, Kennedy?” Red asked.

 

“Nope, all good, hiding behind Faith here.  Thanks though.” She said.

 

Buffy was about to start again, so I held up my hand.  “Nope.  Stop. We didn’t go down Dumaine. We aren’t stupid. We just went for a walk. It was getting too heavy just sittin in this room waiting for…” I looked around the room.  Dawn, Xander, Angel, and Giles were here too. “…the entire castle.”

 

“Where’s Satsu?” Kennedy asked.

 

“We left her and Andrew there.  In case something happened.” Giles said.  He looked around the room.  “How much is this room?” He asked, still looking around.  “Wait, don’t tell me.  I fear I’ll faint if you do.”

 

“Mum’s the word then,” Red said.

 

B was still looking at me, tapping her foot.  “Have you been drinking?”

 

I shook my head.  “You can’t count that shit we drank as actual drinking.  It was more like eating candy.”

 

Kennedy nodded. “Except we drank candy. Can you drink candy?”

 

Dawn nodded. “They used to make that candy liquid stuff. It looked like syrup.” Buffy shot her a glare. “And, I’m not being helpful… so, I’ll just be quiet.”

 

Ken gave the book and the piece of paper to Red.  “The witch or whatever the hell she was gave us this… she said you’d know what to do with it.”

 

Giles picked up the valet ticket.  “A Maserati? Have you gone mad?” He asked looking at us.

 

We looked at Willow.  She looked at Xander. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.  What’s a Maserati?” He said.

 

“Bloody hell. You are all still children. It’s very sad.”

 

“What does the paper say?” Angel asked.

 

“It’s an address on Dumaine Street.” She turned and looked at us.  “Is this where Olivia is?”

 

We nodded. “It’s what Marie Therese said. But she said only you could read it.” Ken answered.  “Apparently she thought we’d go charging into the night.”

 

Buffy rolled her eyes, “I wonder what gave her that impression.”

 

I kept trying to pull her to me but she kept pulling away.  “I’ve missed you,” I said in her ear.

 

I felt her melt a bit then.  She smiled at me. It was small, but a step at least. “I missed you too,” she said back.

 

“What about the book?” I asked.  “What is it?”

 

“The Book of Loa,” she looked thoughtful.  “That makes sense.  You thought Cassandra said the Book of Lore.  We’ve been looking for that book since you told us.”

 

“What’s Loa?” Dawn asked.

 

“A Vodun god,” Red answered.

 

“Interesting,” Giles said.  “Olivia did not give the impression that she practiced Vodun.”

 

“So what does the book say?”  I asked. I was getting anxious, we didn’t have much time and the sun would be up soon.

 

Red shook her head and looked from me to Buffy.  “We can’t go tonight.  There’s too much I don’t know.  We can just run in there and try not to die.  We’d be putting Joy at risk.”

 

“What the fuck? How the hell do we know she’s not gonna run today?” 

 

Red looked at B.  “You can feel her, can’t you?”

 

Buffy nodded. “Ever since we got here,” she looked down.

 

“How?” Ken and I asked at the same time.

 

She shrugged. “I’d rather not say, you know, here in front of everyone.”

 

Okay, so that was weird.  What did that mean? “What…” I asked, before Red interrupted me.

 

“Yeah. It’s gonna take me a few hours at least.” She hugged Ken.  “The four of us are gonna research,” she said, indicating, herself, Dawn, Giles, and Angel. “Why don’t the rest of you utilize this time to get some rest.  We’ll wake you as soon as we find something.”

 

Xander hightailed it out of there before she could finish her sentence. Ken kissed her and went in the other bedroom.  She was tired. The globe hopping we’d been doing coupled with three drinks had done her in.  I couldn’t really blame her.  B grabbed my hand and led me in the other bedroom.

 

I couldn’t help myself, “how can you feel the baby?”

 

Her face turned about three different shades of red.  “I…uh…”

 

I sat down on the bed and pulled her between my legs.  “Why are you embarrassed, baby?” I put my face against her chest. Her boobs were huge. So? I let my mind wander a bit.

 

She pulled away quickly.  “Will did this spell, you know, so I could keep my breast milk.”

 

I pulled back and looked at her.  I knew they were bigger for a reason.  I smirked. “Wow, that was an upside I wasn’t expecting.”

 

She swatted my arm.  “Anyway,” she said, ignoring my comment, “when we got here they sort of felt different. Like tingled or something. It was the strangest feeling. Will did some quick checking. Apparently, I can feel her cause she’s…” her face fell and she looked away.  “She’s my baby, Faith.  I haven’t even held her. We don’t know how much she weighs. If she’s got all her fingers and toes.  What if she’s cold?” I wanted to tell her there wasn’t a chance in hell she was cold in this fucking town, but I kept my mouth shut.  “What if she’s hungry and that’s why I can feel her?” She was still standing in between my legs.  I pulled her down into my lap. 

 

“Don’t cry, baby.” I whispered in her hair.  “We’re gonna get her back.” I wrapped my arms around her and scooted us back against the headboard.  She still had her face buried in my neck.  “You know what that Voodoo woman told me?”  She shook her head. “She said that I needed to call my soul mate.  Because you were stronger than me.”

 

She laughed into my neck.  “Duh.”

 

“That’s totally what I was thinking too.”

 

She sniffled. “It’s really not true. You’ve taken care of me for nine months, well… okay, four months really.” She thought for a minute. “Did she say you could be a jackass too?”

 

I shrugged. “That probably just goes without saying.”

 

“I’ve missed this,” she whispered.

 

“What?”

 

“Sleeping like this.  With you holding me. I’ve never had anyone actually sit up and hold me while I was sleeping.  It’s hard to make me feel safe.  I mean I’m safe girl.  I’m the person that’s supposed to make everybody else feel safe.”

 

“Satsu said it was creepy,” I pouted. 

 

“Oh, she was just kidding.”

 

“She wasn’t. But I don’t give a shit; she’s just jealous. Of course, I would be too if I were her.  In fact, I’d probably already killed me.”

 

“She must be a bigger person than you,” she teased. She sat up a bit and kissed me. “Thank god I don’t care.” She put her arms around my neck. “You sleep, baby,” she said, scooting down the bed and pulling me with her.  “When Wills wakes us up, we can go get our baby.  Kick some evil witch ass and go home.” She kissed me again on the forehead. “Go to sleep.” She lay down beside me and pulled me to her.  “Other good thing about the boobs,” she said, “they’re totally like pillows now, aren’t they?”

 

I tried mumbling yes, but come on I was buried half deep in them by that point. And I was sleepy. And they were so soft. Holy crap, remind me to thank Red in the morning. 


 

I woke to someone kissing the side of face.  “Mmm. I think I could wake up like that every morning.”

 

Buffy smiled down at me.  “As soon as we go home, which I’m hoping will be later today, I’ll let you do more than sleep on them…” She winked at me.

 

“Please don’t tease me.  You know I need to focus and it’s a bit difficult when all I’m thing are ‘Buffy’s boobs.’” I sat up and kissed her.  I missed the lazy kisses. We hadn’t done that in quite a while. Holding her without her pregnant body was completely different.  I missed the roundness but soon I could hold both of them.  I liked the thought of that.

 

“Excuse me for interrupting and all,” Ken said, barging through the door, “but Willow found something.  I’m not gonna be jealous and say that she was up all night researching so I slept alone.”

 

We both hopped up and ran in behind Kennedy.  Everyone was in pretty much the same position as the night before. Except for Xander who was looking well rested and eating some kind of pastry.  “Beignet,” he said.  “I had no idea these things existed.  It’s like a doughnut mixed with a funnel cake.  We’ve apparently ended up in heaven.”

 

Kennedy grabbed one and shoved it in her mouth.  “These should not be legal,” she mumbled around the one she was eating. “Holy crap, that’s good,” she said, handing me one. 

 

Jesus, no kidding.  Why didn’t they sell these everywhere?

 

“What did you find, Will?” B asked her, as she was the only one without anything shoved in her mouth at the moment.

 

“The prophecy about the baby.  It says that the two women who complete the circle will create a child of light. A force of goodness. The one to be reckoned with when she comes of age.”

 

“That’s it?” I asked.

 

She shook her head.  “She’s supposed to be a convergence of those who fight against evil.  She holds inside her the soul of someone who will grow to be wise and powerful.” She looked down and began reading.  “And the child will follow the mothers and surpass those before her. She will create a world where peace is the fate of those who follow her.” She flipped through the pages.  “The baby carries inside of her the power of those that have endowed her.  She is a beacon of strength and will be both feared and revered. Her existence should be a secret without contract.  There will be those who fear her.  Those who will try to bend her to their will.  Without her mothers, a child can become lost.  She can become the daughter of something sinister and dark. For all women who seek power, seek this child. Protect the mothers.  Protect the child.  They are the light a fire needs to grow.”

 

“So…” Kennedy said, after a few moments of the entire room standing around like yokels. “What are we supposed to do?”

 

“Is there any indication as to what Olivia wants with the baby?” Giles asked, reading over Red’s shoulder.

 

“Not specifically, though I guess ‘There will be those who fear her,’ and the whole bending her to their will thingie could give an indication.  I wonder what their will is?” Red asked.

 

“Hold on,” Kennedy said.  “I just wanna jump back to the whole ‘protect the mothers’ thing.  Is that a prophecy? A suggestion?  What?  Do we need to call in some more slayers here?  Because if the we gotta protect the two of them and get Joy, we may need some backup.”

 

“Umm,” B said, “You do realize we are as strong as you.  Stronger probably.”

 

“Yeah, but I’m not alluded to in that damn book either.”

 

I couldn’t believe she knew what the word alluded meant.  And obviously I wasn’t focusing.  “So what does that mean?  Is someone gonna try and kill us?  I mean shit is always trying to kill us, so what’s different?”

 

“We should probably treat everything about the baby as a prophecy,” Angel interjected, none to helpfully.

 

“Meaning?” Ken asked.

 

“Meaning we must take precautions to make sure they’re okay.  Apparently they’re both needed to make sure that Joy grows up to be whatever it is that she is supposed to be.”  He finished.

 

“So what do we do?  Sit here with our thumbs up our asses while you go and rescue our daughter.  I completely disagree with that fuckin strategy.” I said, staring at Angel.

 

“Yeah, I completely disagree too,” Buffy said, though she left out the word fuckin. Ha.  She was my little prude.  It was one of the reasons I loved her.

 

“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here,” Giles said.  “The truth of the matter is that no one but Willow will have the strength needed to weaken Olivia.  I believe, if Willow is able to intercede with whatever Olivia draws her power from, she will be weak enough for you to stop.”

 

“Variables, Giles.  We have Brigette, whom we know less than nothing about.  We have no idea who Olivia is working for. Or if she is working for anybody. We have no idea if Kasadya even exists.  We know a whole lot of nothing.” I said.

 

“What’s your point?” B asked me, getting upset.  “You want to wait until we answer all of these questions?  My god, Faith, she could be a toddler by then!”

 

“Calm down, babe.  That’s not what I’m saying at all.  I’m saying that we could sit here from now to eternity trying to figure this shit out. We are never going to get all the answers we need.  We just need to clear the biggest variables.  Find a damn solution and get her and get out.  I don’t know who we take out but I have a fuckin feeling we’ll figure it out as soon as we get in there.”

 

Red nodded. “I have this feeling that we don’t have a lot of time.  I don’t know why. I just do.  And I don’t know whom we can trust. It’s what’s messing with my head at this point.  I can stop Olivia. I can probably stop this Brigette. But… we need to move as soon as we can. If Joy is what they say she is, well… there are going to be a lot of people who want her.” She looked at us sadly.  “I don’t mean that we can’t protect her but I wanna get her home as fast as possible so we can figure this out and really shield her from people who want to hurt her or use her, or both.”

 

I was getting more than a little flustered at this point.  It seemed we knew less than when we started. Stupid fucking prophecies and their stupid, stupid warnings. “So, what is the damn plan?”

 

"The prophecy says that the mothers will protect the child." Red looked at me and B. "You need to be focused on getting Joy and keeping her safe. Giles and I will focus on the spell to weaken Olivia and whomever she's working with. That leaves Kennedy and Angel to deal with the witches." She looked Ken to make sure she understood.

 

Ken nodded at her. "Ding dong. I got it. The witch is dead."

 

"Only if necessary," Giles added. "She's still human."

 

"A human who's stronger than us. A human who kidnapped my newborn child. Stellar," I said. Fuck her. I didn't care if she was human. If K couldn't kill her, I would.

 

"I know what you are thinking, Faith. This is not about revenge. If we can transport the child out without confrontation, we can fight Olivia on our own turf. An advantageous solution, as we will have strength in numbers," Giles said.

 

"Excuse me? You're saying we should run in there, grab her, and jump out? And then what? We're looking over our fucking shoulders the rest of our lives?" I was sorry if they thought that was an excellent plan.  I’d found that tucking tails and running tended to get people killed.

 

"Not to interrupt, but what are Dawnie and I doing during this big search and rescue mission?" Xander asked.

 

Red sighed. "You're transport guy. Uh... and gal. They probably won’t give her up without a fight. We need you two to take the baby and get back to the room as soon as possible. No one can touch her here. No one can come in this room unless I lift the spell, besides us and the baby that is." she turned to me and B. "You will get your chance but your first priority is getting the baby out of the building. If you want to go with them, we certainly aren't going to stop you."

 

Buffy nodded. "I just want her back. We can deal with whatever if she's safe. Can you promise me that she'll be safe with them?"

 

Red nodded "All the way here and in the hotel. I don't want to transport them unless I have to. It'll weaken me."

 

"So are we just assuming that there are only two witches there? Cause assumptions tend to make an ass out of me and Faith," Ken said.

 

Giles shook his head. "We can't make any assumptions. It’s why it's a rescue mission. The baby is our only priority. Or to borrow Faith's word, variable. We get her and we get out. If Willow can stun them long enough for the rescue that's what we will do. We need more resources and more bodies to defeat Olivia and her cohorts."

 

"So what? You're transporting all of us out of there and back to Scotland?" I asked Red.

 

"No back here. We're safe here. I won't have the energy for any further. We'll have to wait till I recuperate or we can take the jet."

 

"And give her time to recuperate as well?" B asked. "It seems like the longer we stay here, the more danger we'll be in."

 

I could tell Red was frustrated but fuck there were more holes in this plan than something with a helluva lot of holes in it.

 

She took a deep breath and sat down. "We don't have a choice. I believe I can incapacitate her for a few days. But I can't be certain whom I can trust right now. So I won’t have any help. There's no other option. If we kill her, which I completely understand you both wanting to do," she said, looking at me and B, "we won't understand why she did it. And how many times are we going to have to fight the same battle if we don't understand?”

 

Everyone was staring at me and B, waiting on us to make the final decision. I was all for killing this bitch as painfully and as soon as possible.  B beat me to the punch though.

 

“There have been a lot of mistakes in the last few days.  And I’ve been kept in the dark about a lot of stuff,” she made eye contact with everyone in the room.  When she was certain we were sufficiently shamed, she continued. “I am going to follow your plan, but I want everyone in here to understand.  I want her back.  I don’t care who we have to kill to get her back.  I don’t give a damn about understanding motives and everything else that’s going on. I don’t care who started this; I just want it finished.  Do you all understand me?”  We nodded at her. “She’s my baby. I want to take her home. As soon as I can. I want to forget all of this. All of these prophecies and headaches and bad guys and lies.  I just want to take her home.”  She took a deep breath and sat down next to Red.  “So we’re gonna trust you, Wills.  Because I know you’ve always had my best interest at heart.  But please, for the love of everything you hold dear, do no screw this up.” She eyed us all, “Any of you.  I will not forgive this.  If you can’t guarantee that you aren’t going in there with the mission of saving my daughter and nothing us you can all stay here and I will go get her myself.”

 

“We’ve all got the same goal, Buffy,” Xander said, sitting beside her and patting her knee. “We just wanna save the mini slayer and get our derrieres out of dodge.”

 

He could speak for himself.  I wanted B safe. I wanted Joy safe. I wanted them all safe, honestly. And I wanted that witch dead. I would be damned if I spent the rest of our lives looking over ours shoulders for the next time she or whoever the hell it is she’s working with or for tried to take her.  But I nodded at B.  Just like the rest of them.  But come, I mean, I’ve said it before – I’d follow her, but I sure the hell ain’t gonna be her fucking lapdog. 

 

“When do we leave?” I asked Red.

 

She stood up and walked into the bedroom.  She and Ken grabbed the bags and came back in.  “I sent everything we needed.  Even the scythe,” Ken and I raised an eyebrow at her, “What? I hid it in the closet. Anyway, it’ll take me an hour to get the spells ready.”

 

“Ha,” Ken said, “we thought those were clothes.”

 

Willow shook her head.  “We aren’t going to be here long enough for clothes.”

 

I hoped she was right.  I willed myself to stay still.  I had one hour. One hour and then we could get her. And she and B could speed off to safety. And I could kill the bitch that stole my child.  One hour. To say I could hardly wait, would be the biggest understatement of my life.

 

 

Chapter Text


 

Chapter 16

 

Yeah, so here was the thing.  An hour wasn’t going to be night.   I wasn’t sure what Red was plotting but we had a few hours till sundown and that Voodoo woman was pretty specific about us only being able to find them at night.

 

Red was busy preparing whatever the hell it was she brought.  Ken was swinging the scythe around in the front room, as bored as I was.

 

“Kennedy, I wish you’d refrain from doing that.  I shudder to think how much breaking something in this ridiculously expensive room is going to cost me,” Giles told her.

 

“You know we can’t go in an hour,” Kennedy sighed overdramatically, sitting down.

 

“Why not?” B asked.

 

“Because that scary woman told us we couldn’t go until night.  It’s like… well not night.” She looked at her wrist. ”I need to get a watch,” she added to herself.

 

“Will, is that right?” B asked her.

 

Red shook her head.  “No. I think she was just saying that because she was afraid Faith and Kennedy would ride in there like two vigilantes. If we can find them we can go get Joy. The sooner the better.”

 

Buffy nodded like that was sufficient.

 

“Uh, I beg to disagree,” Ken said.  “She was pretty specific.”

 

Willow ignored her. 

 

“Hello?” I asked.  “We were there.”

 

“You want to wait, Faith?” B asked me.  “Cause if you do, we will?”  She was full on pout now.

 

I looked at Ken.  She looked at me. And rolled her eyes. “Aw, screw it. Let’s just go do this thing.”

 

Red nodded. “Everything’s good on my end. Call and have them pull the car around,” she said to Xander.  “Xander, Dawn, Giles, and Angel can go in the car.  You know sine Angel’ll burn up and stuff.  The rest of us can leave now.”

 

“We’re walking?” Ken asked.

 

“Would you like me to fly you there?” Red asked.  “Because I can.  But then I’d be too tired to you know, do anything else.  Possibly if Xander had ordered a freaking minivan instead of whatever the heck it is he got, we could all ride over there. Sorry.”

 

Ken held her hands up and backed away.  “So, I’ll just be quiet then.”

 

“I think that’s for the best.” Red said, patting her on the back.

 

B came out of the bathroom dressed for, well… battle.  She had on black yoga pants and had changed into black tank top. Please remember the boobs I was telling you about earlier, cause hello… there they were in all their glory.

 

“Whoa,” Ken said.  “Who’s are those?” She asked, motioning towards B’s breast.

 

“Mine,” I said, putting my arm protectively around Buffy.  “Mine,” I said again.  “Didn’t your girlfriend tell you to shut up?”

 

She ignored me and smiled at B.  “Nice body you got back.”

 

B winked at her.  I swear to god. These were the times that Red and I shared this knowing looking.  She’d rolled her eyes and I’d refrained from killing her girlfriend. 

 

“Ready?” Buffy asked, kissing me on the cheek.  She was smiling.  I knew she was excited to get the baby back.  I was excited to get the baby back.  I just wanted to go home and put this whole nightmare far behind us.

 

“Yep,” I said, pulling her to me and kissing her.

 

“Gross,” Dawn said.  “Get a room.”

 

“Actually,” Ken said, “they kinda have one,” she said, motioning with her hands.

 

“Seriously, Kennedy, you get to be quiet now,” Red said, dragging her towards the door. “Everyone know the plan?”

 

We all nodded. We were not supposed to engage anyone until the others arrived.  They’d probably beat us anyway.  I sort of hoped they did. I didn’t think I could stand outside of that building and not wanna rush in and kill someone. Plus they sorta had to hide the scythe in the car.  Even though K and I had tried to tell them that in New Orleans, based on what we’ve seen, no one was even gonna notice or really give a damn.  We totally got overruled though.


 

After everyone got squared away, we left the hotel. First thing I noticed, there were as many people in the streets during the day as there were at night. And they were just as drunk. I was beginning to think that it was like a prerequisite or something.  Come to New Orleans sober, leave intoxicated.  Remember nothing.  What a vacation destination, huh?

 

“Is that woman naked?” Buffy asked after we’d been walking for a while.

 

“What?!?” Red asked.

 

Ken and I just nodded and kept walking.  We’d sort of seen it all last night.

 

“Oh my god, she is naked!” Buffy said, grabbing my arm.  “Why did that woman bring my baby to this… this den of debauchery?”

 

We both shrugged.  “I think, under other circumstances of course, that this city could be a lot of fun.” Ken said.

 

I nodded. “Me too.  People offered us all kind of money to just come in their club last night.  We could make a killing here just walking around and being hot.”

 

Buffy rolled her eyes.  “You two scare me.”

 

Red put her arm around her.  “You can’t fault them. Their brains are tiny. Tiny brains don’t allow for much cognitive ability outside of ‘me hit’ or ‘me drink’ or ‘me do bad and dirty things to girl.’” B cocked her eyebrow at her.  “What?  I can’t think of a word that’s not dirty.”

 

“Oh baby, please talk dirty.  It would totally make the time go by faster.  Not to mention what we could…”Ken started.

 

Buffy put her fingers in her ears.  “I beg you not to finish that sentence.”

 

“Not to interrupt whatever the hell it is you three are talking about but…” I looked at the building in front of us.  “I think that’s it.”

 

Red nodded. “Don’t worry.  I’ve got us under a cloaking spell.  We’re good.”

 

Giles and Dawn walked up from behind the building.

 

“Where are the others?” B asked.

 

“Xander is parking the car and Angel is in the alley in the back.  There is a side door there he is going to use. I’m sending Dawn to the parking lot with Xander once we go inside.  I would rather them not get hurt.”

 

Buffy nodded. “We’ll bring her out as soon as possible.  Please don’t go far,” she said, hugging her.

 

“I won’t. I’ll be right outside. I understand if you can’t go with us, but I really hope you do,” she said, hugging her back.

 

We were standing outside of some Voodoo museum or something.  It was obviously a tourist trap.

 

“Are you sure this is the right place?” I asked Red.

 

She nodded. “Positive,” She turned making sure we were all listening.  “They won’t know who we are until we find the baby.  Since this is a shop or museum or whatever it is,” she said, scrunching her face up, “the first thing we’ll want to do is get everyone that shouldn’t be in there out.  We can’t have any civilian casualties.” Apparently she’d been munching on the same army guy as Angel.

 

“Got it,” we said.

 

We walked inside.  There weren’t that many customers.  Just a couple of girls and an older couple mulling around.  “Out,” I yelled.  They scooted pretty quickly after I growled at them.

 

“Well, that was one way to get rid of them.” Ken said.  She moved to the front of the shop and turned the sign to Closed.

 

“Can I help ya?” A young girl behind the counter asked.

 

“We’re looking for Brigette,” Willow told her.

 

“I don’t know a Brigette. I’m sorry,” she said.  She hadn’t noticed Ken turn the sign around.  However, she did see her lock the door.  “Hey, what are ya doin?” She yelled at her. She started to move around the counter. “Hey!” Her voice was getting louder until we head Giles clear his throat and shoot her with the tranq gun.

 

“What?” He asked. We were all staring at him openmouthed.  “Oh bloody hell, she’ll be fine.  It’s just a headache. We don’t have time for games.”

 

Ballsy, but I’m glad he did it.  At that moment Angel came in through the side door that faced the alley.  He raised his eyebrow at Giles. 

 

“G-man said she’d be fine.” I said, by way of explanation.

 

Angel shrugged. He was antsy.  It was a bit disconcerting seeing as nothing ever made him nervous. Balls of fire could be shooting out of the sky and his broody ass would just stand there and watch.

 

We all looked to Red, waiting for the next move.  “Upstairs,” she whispered, pointing to a staircase in the back of the shop.

 

We walked slowly.  To be honest, all I wanted to do was run and charge in there, but I’m pretty sure B would knock me right back down the steps if I tried.  Willow was in front and she opened the door once we got to the top of the stairs. Because of the cloaking spell, no one noticed we had walked in at first.

 

There were five women standing around a crib in the middle of the room. One of them was obviously Olivia. I didn’t recognize the other four, though that didn’t really mean anything.  I’d often blocked those bitches from my mind. 

 

I couldn’t see Joy, but I could hear her.  She was crying, though it was really soft.  More like a whimper really.   I could feel B’s fingers on my arms.  She was digging so hard I was kinda afraid she was gonna draw blood.

 

We stood there for possibly five, ten seconds before anyone did anything. It seemed a lot longer than it was. But, Red had to make the first move. And she was taking her sweet ass time about it.

 

She finally walked fully into the room then and we could tell the cloaking spell was gone.

 

“What are you doing here?!?” Olivia screamed when she saw her.

 

“I think you know, Olivia.  It was stupid of us to trust you. But I’m gonna go ahead and fix that.” Red said. Her eyes were that creepy black color they got when she was about to put the fuckin hammer down.

 

“You can’t have her,” another of the women said.  She backed up against the crib.

 

“I beg to fuckin differ, bitch.” I spat at her.  “You see you whores stole my baby.  And we’re here to get her back.  Kinda up to you how this is gonna go.”

 

“Faith, Faith, Faith,” Olivia said.  “Have we not already talked about this?  You cannot hurt me.”

 

B was standing beside me.  She hadn’t moved and she couldn’t stop staring at the crib.  I was getting afraid she was gonna flake.  I really wanted to grab Joy and give her to B so they could get the fuck out. B flaking would make the situation a helluva lot more dangerous than it needed to be.

 

“She can’t hurt you,” Red said, in that scary voice she had when she was about to go all mojo, “but I can.”  She started chanting then.  It was sort of like a ripple effect.  First one witch went down. Then another.

 

“Brigette!” Olivia screamed.  “Grab the baby.”

 

The young woman closest to Olivia moved towards the crib.  She stepped over the two women who were on the floor writhing around in what I assumed was some kinda fucked up pain.  This assumption was astutely made due to the screaming and all.

 

I moved to stop her, but B… well see Buffy, she’s faster than me.  And she was so fucking fast that I didn’t even see her move. So obviously she got there first. She picked Brigette up with one goddamn hand.  I shit you not. She didn’t even look at her. She was staring at Joy the whole time. I think she finally saw her face and realized that that was our baby lying in that crib.  And then after she’d picked this witch up with one hand… she threw her out the fucking window.  We heard the glass shatter and all turned to see what the fuck it was. That’s how fast she moved.

 

There was another woman who Red had not sent into a panic of pain yet. She moved towards B chanting. Buffy hit her so hard she went sailing down the steps.  We heard her head hit the bottom floor in what was one of the grossest crunching sounds I’d ever head. I didn’t stop to think what that meant.

 

Believe me when I say, this all took about fifteen seconds.  We didn’t even move before B had pretty much taken every one out but Olivia.

 

Willow nodded at Angel and he and Ken moved the two women on the floor out of the room and locked them in a closet.  They were still screaming.  Maybe I should have thought about what the hell Red was doing to make them hurt like that? I wished I fucking cared though.

 

I ran up to B as she was reaching for Joy. 

 

“You cannot have her,” Olivia said in a voice that was too eerily calm.

 

Buffy completely ignored her and reached down and picked up the baby. They had her swaddled in some kind of creepy colorful blanket, but as soon as Buffy picked her up, she’d stopped crying.

 

Olivia went to grab the baby as soon as B picked her up.  I moved to stop her and she threw me across the room without touching me. Ken moved in and she did the same thing to her.  And then Angel. Buffy didn’t even flinch as she walked away from her.

 

“Red! Fuck!” I yelled.  “Get her!”

 

Willow and Giles began chanting louder then.  I saw Olivia stumble, but still she kept moving.  B never even acknowledged her.  She just walked towards the door with the baby. 

 

“Stop!” Olivia yelled.  “You don’t understand her destiny!”

 

Buffy stopped. She was holding Joy so close to her chest; I couldn’t see her face.  B was so calm it was spooky.  “You are going to die,” she said to Olivia.  “A slow, painful death.  I hope it hurts. I hope you suffer. I hope you feel a tenth of the pain I’ve felt the last few days.  Every single headache.  Every single seizure.  None of that compares to this.  Nothing.”

 

Olivia stopped and watched her.  We all did. Except Red and Giles who were still chanting away.

 

Olivia shook her head.  “I didn’t cause those seizures, Buffy.  Your baby has a destiny bigger than you.  She can help us bring about a power you cannot even dream of.” Her voice rose and it was obvious she was in full-on panic mode.

 

B turned to look at me.  “Faith, baby? I need you to kill her,” she said cradling the baby against her neck and rubbing her back. And then she just walked down the fucking stairs.

 

I turned around.  Angel and Kennedy were busy fighting the witches who’d fought their way out of the closet when Will started focusing all her energy on Olivia.  The woman B’d thrown out the window was most likely dead, based on the screaming we’d heard from D and Xander earlier, and the whole “I think she’s dead,” yelp Xand had shrieked like a girl.

 

I moved on Olivia.  Angel had brought the scythe inside through the side door.  It was lying at my feet so I picked it up.  A determination coursed through me like I had never felt before. This fucking woman had caused the love of my life pain.  Both of them.  I couldn’t believe how easy it was to slip back into the role of killer.

 

I wish I could tell you I had a moment of conscience here where I thought she’s human and you can’t go down that road again, Faith.  But, I didn’t.  I’d kill just about anyone in the world if B asked me to.  Maybe that was fucked up. Maybe it wasn’t.  Didn’t matter anyway.

 

I swung the scythe once, twice in the air.  I waited until I heard the sound of that fast ass car squealing out of the parking lot. I was suddenly very glad Xand had gotten that car.

 

“I can’t believe how much I’m gonna enjoy this,” I said as I swung the axe a third time. This time I was aiming at her though.

 

She moved at the last second.  The blade came in contact with her shoulder instead of her head.  And it cut her arm clean the fuck off. 

 

Now here’s the thing.  I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen an arm being cut off but it is fuck all like the movies. There is a lot of blood. A lot.  And a lot of screaming.  But there’s also this sort of stunned silent moment. That ‘holy shit’ moment that everyone sorta has after it happens.  The scythe was strong and incredibly sharp.  There was no sawing through bone or any of that shit. Her arm fell off like a Barbie doll’s that some sadistic kid was popping in and out of socket.

 

Ken and Angel and the witches on the ground stopped fighting.  Giles even stopped chanting.  I mean, this bitch’s arm seriously fell right the fuck off and slid across the floor in the biggest pool of blood I’d ever seen. And that was saying a fuckin lot.

 

They probably heard her screams four streets over.  I honest to god hadn’t meant to miss, but fuck it, I wasn’t gonna miss this time. I felt the familiar feeling of power rush through me when I raised the scythe over my head and ran at her again. I was planning on cutting her head clean off her body just like I’d cut off her arm.  I swung the blade straight down and…

 

…hit the fucking floor.

 

Just like that she was gone.  So were the witches Angel and Ken were fighting. Someone had managed to transport them out at the last minute.  I had a sick feeling though that it wasn’t one of the three of them.

 

Angel ran over to the window.  “She’s dead,” he said, staring out at Brigette.

 

Ken ran to the stairs.  “Umm, so is that one,” she said, pointing.  “Her neck’s most definitely broken.”

 

I was staring at the scythe and the arm lying beside it.  I couldn’t believe I ‘d fucking missed.  Red snapped me out of it.  “Get the scythe, Ken,” she commanded.  “Chop that into little pieces.  I don’t want her trying to reattach it.”

 

Ken pulled it out of the floor and begin hacking at the arm.  I don’t want to tell you how nasty that was. I don’t even know why it freaked me out, but for some reason it did.  Red said some sort of spell and the pieces caught fire.

 

It was then we heard the sirens.

 

“So,” Ken said. “I think we should probably scoot. That’s a helluva lot of blood. Couple that with the dead bodies, and all our asses are going to jail.”

 

Angel nodded.

 

Red waved her arm and…

 


 

…we all landed back in the hotel room.  Kennedy and I ran to the bathrooms as fast as possible.  There was more than one reason I was vomiting that night.

 

I could hear Giles retching in the other room.

 

And I could hear a baby crying.

 

After we’d thrown up, again (seriously, vomiting was embarrassingly becoming like a new pastime for me), I washed my face and my mouth and Ken did the same.

 

“You okay?” She asked, her hand on my shoulder.

 

“We didn’t get her.” I said, not looking at her.  I was mad at myself.  Mad for letting her slip away.  And possibly, mad that I’d enjoyed it.  Mad that I still wanted her dead. 

 

“We will,” she answered. 

 

I put my hands on the side of the sink and bent over. The cold marble felt good against my forehead.  I still felt sick. I didn’t think it was from the transport though. 

 

“You know, that’s your baby crying in there.” She said, rubbing my back. “You saved her.”

 

“B saved her,” I mumbled.  “I didn’t do anything but cut some fuckin bitch’s arm off.”

 

“That was pretty awesome.  And extremely gross.” She placed a wet washcloth against the back of my neck. “You gonna go out there, or you gonna sit here and hide in the bathroom all night?  You know we’re gonna have to get going soon. I’m pretty sure Buffy will be pissed off if you don’t, you know, like go with us cause you’ve married that sink.”

 

I nodded, standing up.  “That’s my baby crying out there.”

 

She hugged me. “I know I just said that. And I can’t believe I’m hugging you.”

 

“Neither can I,” I said, pulling away and smiling at her.  “You’re my best friend, you know that right?”

 

“Oh god, don’t get sappy on me.” She pushed me towards the door.  “Go see your spawn before she gets a complex.”

 

We opened the door and walked into the front room.  Everyone else was standing there with their backs to us. 

 

“She’s so perfect,” I heard Dawn say.

 

“She looks just like Faith,” Angel said.  “It’s uncanny.”

 

“Yeah, she just needs a little leather jacket,” Xander added.

 

“It’d be better than all that pink,” I added, walking into the room.

 

They all turned around and parted at that point.  Buffy was standing in the middle, facing me.  She was staring at the baby.  She’d changed Joy’s clothes and put the little sleeper on her. My first thought was ‘holy shit I bet she’s burning up.’  Again, I know when to be quiet though. 

 

Everyone sort of moved out of the way when I walked over.  Buffy finally looked at me.  She smiled slightly.  “Joy, meet your mommy,” she said to the baby.

 

Ken shoved me closer and I walked up and looked down at her.  She had stopped crying by then.  Her eyes were open but not really focused on anything. She had the blackest hair I’d ever seen on a baby.  There were tiny little dimples in her cheeks.  She was without a doubt the most gorgeous thing I’d ever laid eyes on.  I reached out and rubbed her head softly. “Oh my god,” I whispered.

 

B smiled up at me.  “Thank you,” she whispered.

 

I nodded. I couldn’t talk. Words were forming in my brain, but they sure the hell weren’t making it to my mouth.  I could feel tears on my cheeks.  Normally, I’d rather slit my own wrists than cry in front of most of the people standing in that room, but tonight I didn’t care. My baby was here. Right in front of me. The woman I loved more than life itself holding her.  I kept telling myself to breath.  I tended to forget to do that.  I just kept rubbing her. Touching as much of her as I could. It was like I had to have my hand on her to remind myself she was real.  I was so afraid I was dreaming.

 

“You wanna hold her, Faith?” Buffy asked softly.

 

“I… uh… I’ve…I’ve never…”hello, brain?  You could start working at any point, please.

 

“She won’t break.  Just hold her head.” She held the baby out to me. 

 

I took her in my arms.  Remember how I said B fit into my arms?  Well, she did, but not like this.  Joy was made for my arms. I was staring down at her. She had Buffy’s mouth. That little pout. Her bottom lip was sticking out just a little bit.  Almost like she was chewing it.  It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.  “She has your mouth,” I said. 

 

B laughed. “She has your everything else.”

 

“You know,” Dawn said. “Her eyes are dark now, but most babies’ eyes lighten up. Maybe she’ll get your eyes, Buffy. Then we can at least claim relation to her.”

 

I knew people were moving around the room.  Talking about what went down.  Discussing our best option for getting back to Scotland.  I’m telling you that I knew they were doing that, but I have no idea what the fuck they were saying.  I couldn’t stop staring at the reason for my existence.  Sorry if that made me unobservant.

 

“So,” Ken said, snapping me out of my reverie.  “Why don’t you sit down with her?  I know you aren’t gonna hurt her but you’ve gotta a tendency to not breathe and shit.”  She led me over to the couch. 

 

“I’m gonna go get her bag,” B said.  She bent down and kissed the baby’s forehead and then rose up and kissed mine. “Don’t go anywhere, mommy,” she said, winking at me.

 

I nodded at her, still looking at the baby.

 

“You know,” Ken said, sitting beside me.  “I’m pretty sure that I never thought I’d meet the woman that’d render you speechless. Color me shocked.”

 

I forced myself to look away from the baby for a moment.  “This still doesn’t feel real,” I said to K. “Tell me this is real.”

 

She put her arm around my shoulder.  “It’s real, dorko.  That’s your baby you’re holding.  Best feeling in the world?”

 

“You have no idea,” I whispered, looking back down at Joy.  I couldn’t take my eyes off her.  I was just sitting there with her in my arms in a sorta stunned awe. It was almost like no one else existed. I honestly could say that I’d never in all of my life ever felt such pure, unadulterated love for something. I’d known I loved her, but… this was different. I knew right then and there that there was nothing I wouldn’t do for her.  Nothing.  If anyone so much as touched a tiny little hair on her tiny little head, they’d be begging me to just cut off their arm. 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 17

 

It was getting dark by the time Giles and Red got everything situated. Supplies were repacked and the scythe was mojoed back to Scotland.  Giles called and rented another car.  I highly doubted it was a Maserati, but I’d threatened his life it was anything less that five star safety rated.  (Oh holy hell, I sounded like the worst demon in history – a soccer mom.)

 

We’d briefly discussed transporting back to England.

 

“I’m not sure how much strain it would put on the baby,” Red said. “If it makes the rest of you sick, it would probably make her ill as well.  I don’t want to do that.  I mean I can send some of you back or we can all take the jet.  It’s at some private airport about fifteen miles from here.”

 

“Strength in numbers,” Xander said.  “I’m pretty sure none of us are volunteering for transport.”

 

We all shook our heads.  No way I was leaving Joy. And no way I was vomiting anymore today if I could help it.  Besides the fact I hadn’t eaten and probably would just dry heave and I wanted to be home now more than ever, I couldn’t about making the baby sick.  Even if it was easier.

 

“Is it safe to fly?” Buffy asked.  She’d come and sat down next to me.  She held her arms out to me, obviously wanting the baby. So I place Joy in her arms. Reluctantly.  I really didn’t want to ever put her down. I was already planning how I could carry her until she graduated college.  You could call me protective, I guess.

 

Red nodded. “No one can touch us in the air. If they could even transport right now that is.  It’s not exact. And the calculations needed to land in the plane and not in the air falling to their death would have to be exact.” She looked thoughtful.  “However, I guess if they tried and fell, it would save us a lot of extra work down the road.”

 

We all mumbled our agreement.   I didn’t really want to think about what lay down the road.

 

“So what happens when we get back?” Dawn asked.  “How long before Olivia pops back in?”

 

“There won’t be anymore popping in the castle.  I’ve cast a spell that keeps anyone but us from doing that. I’m somewhat concerned about who helped them get away,” Red mused.  Somewhat didn’t really cover it.  “But Olivia is in no shape to be a nuisance right now.  Our biggest concern will be finding out who was helping her or who she was working for.”

 

“So she can’t heal herself?” Ken asked.  “I mean I know we destroyed her arm and all but can’t witches like magic a new one or something.”

 

Red shook her head.  “No. She can heal herself or be healed most likely.  I mean, she’s not going to die from what Faith did.” She looked at me a little sadly, like she was sorry she’d had to bring it up. “But, she’s armless for the rest of her life.”

 

I was conflicting about letting her get away.  I wished I’d stopped her.  There was nothing I fuckin wished more.  I had not idea what she had planned for Joy but I doubt it was a solid education. So I couldn’t say I wasn’t angry with myself for allowing her to get away.  And there was a little bit of comfort in the fact that I wounded her at least. But I know the dark side. It was not a place I wanted to visit again.  I didn’t like the fact that I’d tried to kill her without any hesitation.  So yeah, you could say I was conflicted.

 

“Yes. The physical damage she suffered will render her weak for a while,” Giles said.  “However, we must be vigilant when we get to Scotland and find out how and why she did this.  And whom she is working for?”

 

“Oh great,” Xander said.  “I guess that means research. Lucky you have Andy boy.”

 

“Good try,” Giles replied.

 

After packing, and fawning over the baby, we were finally at least almost ready to go.

 

Kennedy threw a freakin fit to drive the Maserati to the airport.  “Do you think we can get this car in the airplane?”

 

“Uh… No,” Red said.  “And don’t even ask, cause I’m not magicking you a car across the ocean.” 

 

Red was going to ride with us. We didn’t want to take any chances with the Joy’s safety. Giles rented a Volvo. Which by the way, good job as it was more than a little rare that he listened to me.

 

“I’m driving,” I said, taking the keys from Giles.  “Red, sit in the back with Buffy and the baby.” I know I was in full bossy mode, but I was going to make sure that nothing else could or would happen. I was no more for taking chances.

 

It took Red, B, and Xander ten minutes to figure out the damn car seat. Ken I loaded the bags into the back of the dork wagon I was driving. 

 

“You’re shaking,” Kennedy said, touching my arm.

 

“I’m ready to go.” I looked in the back seat of the car at the three of them fumbling around like the three super-powered stooges.  Well, I guess except for Xander.  I’m not sure what to call him.  Although, pirate does come to mind a helluva lot more often than it should.

 

“It obviously goes this way,” B said.  She crinkled up her nose in a way that told me she had absolutely no idea if it went that way.

 

“It does not. She faces the back of the car, Buff,” Red said turning the car seat around.

 

“So what’s this tray thing?” Xander said.  “We buckle this thing in and then what? Snap the seat in?  Is that safe?”

 

“I don’t know,” B said.  She made a face at the baby, who was apparently watching them.  Or just staring around because she was a newborn and couldn’t really focus on shit. Buffy bent down and kissed her forehead. “Maybe I should just hold her?”

 

“That’s sounds safer,” Xander reiterated.

 

“Uh, no it doesn’t,” Red said, taking the car seat from Buffy and snapping it into place. “What? I read the directions. Anyway, it is so totally not safe to hold her. She is much safer in this seat.  Facing the correct way, I might add.”  Willow smiled at the baby, “And we won’t a safe baby, don’t we?” She asked, in that baby voice that I had a feeling I was gonna hear a hell of a lot more of.  However, props to her for fixing the damn thing and making sure the baby was safe. Xander and Buffy were the stooges, I decided.  I couldn’t ignore the fact that Red was usually right about things.  That must annoy the shit out of them.  Cause it sure they hell annoyed the shit out of me.

 

“But I want to hold her,” B whined.

 

“You are not holding her,” I said from behind the car.  “She’s safer in that car seat.” She stuck her lip out.  Not gonna work.  I’d read about car seats and all that shit.  I know B holding her wasn’t safe.  “Sorry. You can hold her on the plane,” I offered more to placate her and get her to shut the hell up so we could motor.

 

She turned around and stuck her tongue out at me.  “Your mommy is bossy,” she whispered giggling to the baby. She got in the seat beside her and buckled in.  I could see her leaning over the baby.  I don’t know if she was talking to her.  I assumed she was. About me.  And how stubborn and shit I was.

 

Jesus Christ. When did I become the responsible parent?  I mean, we’d only been parents for five days now and I was already the responsible one. How the fuck did that happen? Oh right, because I was supposed to protect them. 

 

Ken and the others jumped in the car in front of us.  She sped away like a demon on crack.  I pulled out behind them less like a demon on crack and more like a parent who was worried about driving in a strange city with her baby. “Red, call her and tell her to slow the fuck down or I’m going to throw her out of the airplane after we’re in the air.”

 

Willow nodded at me and called her girlfriend. “Faith says slow down or she will hug you silly.”

 

“Really?” I asked and then noticed her car in front of us.  “Oh good god, never mind,” I mumbled.  I should have known threats of affection would get her to slow down.

 

I glanced in the rearview mirror.  B was still bent down talking to Joy.  Even with Slayer hearing I couldn’t hear what she was saying.  Maybe it was just nonsense?  Whatever it was, Joy was answering her.

 

“She’s making the sweetest sounds, Buffy,” Red said.  “I didn’t know babies made sounds like that.  I thought they just cried.  She’s all coo-y.  Why is that so cute?”

 

“It really is, isn’t it?  I think she may be the cutest baby ever born.  Seriously. I’m not being biased.” B replied. She reached up and touched Giles’ shoulder.  “Don’t you think so?”

 

He nodded. “She’s quite adorable, Buffy. I’m happy you’ve got her back. I can’t tell you how good it is to see you finally content.”

 

I knew she was smiling, even if I couldn’t see her.  For some reason the thought made me both happy and sad.  How the fuck was that possible?

 

He patted my shoulder, all watcherly like.  “I think that Faith is rather tense, though.” He smiled, Giles-like at me, “We are going to be fine. We aren’t far from the airport now,” he said, I supposed trying to reassure me.

 

I was nervous.  I just wanted to get on the damn airplane and get home. I’d feel much better when those wheels were up and we were in the air.

 

We made it to the airport with minimal disruption.  The others got out of the car like normal human beings. Kennedy however was being a bit of a problem child.

 

“Please don’t make me leave her,” Ken cried extremely dramatically. She threw herself across the hood of the car.  I never thought anyone could actually hug a car, but she was hugging it. Quite effectively too.

 

“You are ridiculous, Kennedy.” Red said.  “You could buy one yourself, you know?”

 

“I realize that, but she wouldn’t be Betsy,” Ken whined.

 

“Who’s Betsy?” Angel asked.  Poor, innocent vampire.

 

I rolled my eyes.  “She named the car, dude. It’s sad but she’s weird and all.”

 

We unpacked all the bags and boarded the plane. Buffy carried Joy and I carried the car seat, luggage, and all the other shit we had.  I was starting to get the whole gist of my role in this scenario. And I wasn’t fucking sure I liked it.

 

I walked in last, baby bag and car seat in both hands.  “Okay, so here’s the thing,” I announced to the airplane. “I am not the Daddy.”

 

“What does that mean?” Buffy asked, settling the baby, who’d been sleeping, on her chest. B hand somehow managed to get her to eat, though I’d missed that part of the adventure.  She and Dawn had figured it out in the car or maybe in the hotel while I was puking my guts up. 

 

“It means I am not doing all the daddy shit while you get to run in front of me holding the baby.  I should get to hold her too.” I sorta added the last sentence with a pout.  But fuck it; I was tired.  I sat down in the seat across from her and crossed my arms.

 

Everyone else was just sort of watching us stare at each other. No one moved. I hated that we were that entertaining.

 

B’s face was a cross between ‘highly pissed off’ and ‘highly amused.’ I’m sure my face mirrored it.

 

The captain came over the speaker and told everyone to buckle up and yada yada yada. Safety and we’ll be there in about nine hours and shit. 

 

“I’m not treating you like a daddy, Faith.” She stuck her lip out. I wanted to tell her to stick it the hell back in cause no way I was falling for that.

 

I let her words sort of hang in the air for a bit.  That was exactly what she was treating me like.  And so what?  Why did it matter?  I turned and stared out the window while we made our ascent.

 

“Then you carry the damn bags,” I mumbled under my breath, looking away from her. I honestly hadn’t meant for her to hear me. I wasn’t even sure if that was why I was angry.

 

“What was that?” She asked.

 

I turned around.  “You heard me. You carry the bags and I’ll hold the baby.”  I leaned up, “In fact, let me hold her now.” 

 

Okay, I was being petulant, I realized, but she was my baby too.  How could I protect her all the way over there? And we didn’t know who was responsible for those fucking seizures and shit.  What if B had a seizure while holding her?  She was safer with me.

 

The captain turned the seatbelt sign off and I stood up.  I held my arms out to Buffy, indicating that she give me my child. Notice I said my here? Cause she was my child too.   

 

“She’s sleeping, Faith.” Buffy said.  “Do you want me to wake her up because you’re jealous?”  She was getting pissed.  Fuck her, so was I.

 

I heard a collective gasp from the rest of gang.  Kennedy stood up before I could say anything.  “Okay, freakos, so here’s the thing – you two are going to give us the baby, because none of us have even gotten to hold her yet.” She reached down and B reluctantly handed Joy to her.  “Good.  Now, go back in the back of the plane and hash this out.  I don’t know what the hell you’re both getting at, but go.”

 

Neither one of us moved.

 

“Seriously Buffy,” Dawn said, patting her shoulder, “She’ll be fine. Go.”

 

Still neither one of us moved.

 

“Girls. I will not have you fighting. I know you are both tied. I know this has been trying and difficult. A lot has happened. More than any of us can process at they moment. However, we would all like a chance to fawn over Joy and we cannot do that with you two hovering over her like protective mother hens,” Giles said.  I couldn’t believe that fucker had just called me a hen.  “So please, do as we ask and go talk.  We will not bother you as we had rather dote at the moment.” He turned around and moved to see the baby.

 

The rest of them ignored us completely and started cooing over her. Even Angel.  Especially Angel.

 

“I forgot babies were so tiny,” Angel said.  His voice drifted.  I had forgotten about Connor.  I guess we all had.

 

“Here,” K said. She handed our baby to him like she was a damn toy.  What is this? Pass around the doll day? Jesus.  She saw my face.  “Oh hell no.  Go. Now.” She pointed to the back room.

 

B got up. I assumed that was my cue to follow.


 

“What’s your problem?” She asked.  She sat on the bed.  She was staring behind me looking back into the main cabin though.

 

“I don’t have a problem.” I moved to stand between her and the doorway.

 

She huffed when I stood in front of her but at least she made eye contact with me. “Really?” She asked. I could tell by her tone she was angry.

 

I crossed my arm and stood standing.  I was mad too, damn it.  I just wasn’t sure why. “I’m not jealous of you, Buffy. So you can stop thinking that. But she’s my baby too.”

 

“Jesus, Faith, I never said she wasn’t.  I was just holding her.” She moved to look around me.

 

I turned around and slammed the door.  “Stop it! She’s fine.  They aren’t going to let anything happen to her.”

 

“You think I don’t know that?  I just got her back. As much as I love you, I’d rather be out there.  I’m sorry.” Her voice was calm. She’d been almost too calm since all of this went down.  I mean she’d just killed two women.  I didn’t know what that meant. I didn’t know what their plan with Joy was.  I’d wanted them dead. But it didn’t stop me from feeling a little bit sick thinking about it. 

 

And maybe that was why I was angry?  I didn’t know. I had too many emotions running through me.

 

“I know that B. I want to be out there too.” I said and sat down next to her.

 

“So why are we still in here?”  She asked. It was a question I didn’t want to answer.

 

But I had to. “Buffy,” I said. I put my hand on her knee. “We killed two women.”

 

She looked me in the eye. Her face was a mask. “You didn’t kill anyone. I did.  You cut a woman’s arm off.”

 

“Because you told me to.”

 

“No, I told you to kill her.  You didn’t do that. We’ve got to worry about what she will plan next.” She sighed and looked down.

 

“Are you serious?  I almost chopped a woman in half because you told me to.  I cut her fucking arm off, Buffy.  Jesus Christ, I’m a little whigged here.”  I took a deep breath and stood.  “I cut her arm off.  Did you hear me? Because I missed, no fucking less. But we killed two women.”

 

She stood up and looked me in the eye.  “No Faith,” she said.  “I did.”

 

“I know you did!” I screamed at her.  “How the hell does that make you feel?”

 

She sighed and sat back down.  “I don’t know,” she whispered.

 

I sat down beside her.  “I’m not judging you, B. You know that. I would have killed everyone single one of those women in there if you asked me to.  If I thought they were going to do something to Joy, I’d do it every day for the rest of my life.  I don’t know what that says about me.” I thought about it and shrugged. “You know what? I do. But it doesn’t matter. You are who I’m worried about,” I added softly.

 

She stared at me a moment.  I was afraid she wasn’t going to talk.  “I…I…” she stuttered and stopped speaking, taking deep breaths.  “I should feel so terrible,” she said.  She had tears in her eyes.  “I should feel awful. I should have done anything else but…”she looked away from me.  “…but,” she continued softly, “I didn’t know what else to do. They had my baby. They were going to fight us. You know that.” I didn’t say anything and let her continue.  “That was my baby, Faith. My baby.  What was I supposed to do?”  She was crying.

 

“Our baby, B.”

 

She started crying harder now.  She turned away from me again.  “I know that!” I put my hand on her back but she pulled away.  “I know that! I just… I couldn’t see anything but her. She was hungry. Did you know that? She was so hungry. We fed her in the car. I didn’t even have to show her or coax her or whatever; she just sort of latched on.  And she ate like she was starving.  I don’t think they were feeding her.”

 

“You couldn’t have known that.  Why wouldn’t they feed her?”

 

“Why would they? We have no idea what they wanted with her.” She was still crying. “Tell me I was wrong. Tell me I should feel bad. I do.  But, it’s not enough to make me wish things were different. Maybe that makes me a horrible person. Maybe it just makes me a mother. I don’t know. I don’t know anything about any of this.  How am I supposed to feel? I don’t know who to ask. I don’t have a mother anymore. None of us do really. I don’t know if I should have waited. Thought about it more.” She took a deep breath and tried to stop crying. “If it happened again though, if someone tried to take her, I can’t tell you I’d do it any differently.” She turned fully to face me.  “I’m not letting anything ever hurt her again.  If I have to die to stop it.  If I have to kill to stop it,” she whispered.

 

I pulled her to me.  She hadn’t stopped sobbing and I could feel her entire body shaking against me.  I held her as tight as I could.  “I just don’t want to see you go through what I went through, baby. I don’t want that for you.”

 

That was possibly the wrong fucking thing to say because she started sobbing harder then. “I love you,” she whispered against my neck.  “So much. I’m sorry.  I’m so sorry.”

 

I kissed the top of her head.  “I love you too, baby. We’ll figure it out. Let’s just get her home and get some rest. Okay? Why don’t you stop crying?” I kissed her again.  “I’ve got you. Nothings going to hurt you or her while I’m alive.  So everything is going to be okay. Okay?” I whispered in her ear.

 

She nodded against me.  Truthfully, I wanted to get home.  I wanted to get rest. But I wasn’t sure that everything was going to be okay.

 

I held her for a few minutes until we heard a knock at the door. 

 

Red walked in holding the baby.  Kennedy followed her.

 

“You two okay?” Ken asked.

 

I nodded at her.

 

Buffy sat up and smiled softly when she saw Joy.  “Is she okay?” She asked.

 

Red smiled back.  “She’s fine. I think she’s just tired. And she wanted her mommy.” She looked at me. “I mean mommies. Not mommy and daddy,” she stuttered.

 

Ken laughed. “Ha. You know you’re the daddy. You know you’re gonna carry the bags and stuff.  I don’t know what you’re fussing about.”

 

I rolled my eye at her.  “Bite me, ass.”

 

“Faith,” B said.  “You can’t say things like that around the baby.”

 

“Oh come on,” I moaned.  “She’s a week old. She won’t remember me saying things like that.”

 

“And what?” She asked. “You’re all of a sudden going to stop cursing and stuff when she has the ability to remember?  Right. You have to stop now. If you start practicing now, it’ll be easier.” She smiled at me with that ‘I so totally have control and you know it’ smile she had.

 

“Oh fuck it,” I said, sorta relenting.

 

She hit my arm. Red rolled her eyes.

 

K laughed. “You are so screwed… I mean in trouble,” she sighed.  “Damn this is gonna be hard.”

 

Willow rolled her eyes again.  This time at her own girlfriend.  “Practice for when we have babies.  Then it will be easier.” She bent down and handed Buffy the baby.

 

“Oh my god!” I heard Ken saying as they were shutting the door.  “That is not something we should be discussing right now. In front of Faith. I have a freakin rep here, Willow. And I would hope you’d care enough to respect that.”

 

“Good goddess,” I heard Red mumble.

 

B was holding Joy.  She was smiling at her. She really did love her. There was no doubt in my mind. I couldn’t describe to you what it felt like watching them.  It was almost like too much emotion in my body.  You could have told me last year I’d have a baby with Buffy and I would have told you that you were obviously insane and that you apparently had a death wish. Now though, I couldn’t see my life without either one of them.  Even thinking about it made me feel empty.

 

“You want to hold her,” she asked, looking up at me.

 

I did want to hold her.  I wanted to hold her forever. I loved the way she felt in my arms, all warm and snuggly and baby-like. 

 

I shook my head and sat down, with my back against the headboard.  I spread my legs and patted the bed.  “I’d rather hold you,” I told her.

 

She smiled at me and scooted into my lap.  She lay back against me, her head on my chest.  Joy was asleep on hers.  Even over the hum of the airplane, I could hear them both breathing softly. It didn’t take long for Buffy to fall asleep. I watched the baby rise and fall slightly ever time B took a breath.  I wrapped my arms around them so they could sleep.  All I wanted was for them to rest.  I wanted to protect them.

 

I wanted to get home.  I wanted to start my life. My new life, I guessed. I didn’t want anything bad to happen. I wished, with everything in my body, that all of this… the drama, Olivia, Kasadya, everthing… would just go away. I wished that B would never have to deal with the demons that I had to deal with.  I just wanted everything to be okay.

 

I rarely get my wish though.  But then again, who does? The only thing I could be sure of was that I was going to make sure they were safe.  I would die for that.  I couldn’t think of a better reason to do so, honestly.  I just wanted both of them to be happy and safe and warm and all that other sappy bullshit.

 

And then I realized… that so totally did make me the daddy.  Son of a bitch.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 18

 

We made it back to the castle without any real problems except who was driving the giant ass van Giles had brought to the airport.  It goes without saying that I really do care about Xander, however the fact that he is lacking peripheral vision made it more than easy to overrule his stubborn ass when he wanted to drive.

 

“I don’t get it.  I can still see out of this eye. “ He pointed dramatically to his good eye.  “I see you standing there scowling at me very well,” he said to me.

 

“Well, all I’m gonna say is that even though I know you see me here, do you see this?” I jerked around quickly and held up two fingers to the side of his wounded eye. “Nope, you don’t. If a car is coming from this way it could hit us.  And my kid’s in that car, so you are not driving.”

 

“Whatever,” he pouted.  “I’ll remember this when she’s up crying at three a.m. and you need someone to entertain you.”

 

“Giles is driving.” I told him.  “He drives like a grandmother. I can learn to entertain myself.”

 

Giles took the keys from Xander and sighed. “I’m glad you find me competent, Faith.”

 

I nodded at him.  He could be as sarcastic as he wanted; I was too tired to fight him.

 

After another round of ‘which way does the car seat go because I can’t retain simple knowledge and why can’t I hold her debate,’ we finally were able to leave. Buffy sat on one side of the baby and I sat on the other.  She was asleep. B had fed her right before we landed. It was a little weird. I had no desire to, you know, feed a baby like that, but I felt like it was maybe missing out on something important.

 

B had suggested those fake bottle feeder thingies that you wear around your neck. “That way you can feed her too and she won’t lose the comfort of being next to someone.  It’ll be almost just like breastfeeding.”

 

I grimaced. “I don’t know if I’m ready for that kind of commitment.  That sounds sort of skeevy – you know wearing fake boobs and all.  Why can’t I just feed her with a bottle?  I can hold her close.  It’s not like I’m going to feed her from across the room or anything.”

 

“Oh no, please wear the fake boobs.  Please,” Ken had interjected.  I scowled at her. “What if I told you this was my dying wish?  To see you feeding your baby with big giant fake breasts strapped to your chest?”

“Are you dying?”

 

“Someday,” she shrugged.

 

“Hell no. You can wear it.” I told her. “I am not gonna be a tool just so you can laugh.”

 

“You suck. Denying a dying woman and all.” She feigned.

 

“I’m ignoring you for the rest of the year.  We’ve spent way too much fuckin time together.”

 

“Faith!” Red and B screamed at the same time.

 

“Haha! Your ass just got in trouble!” Ken laughed.

 

“Kennedy!” They both screamed again.

 

I smirked at her.  She rolled her eyes back. We communicated more effectively without words anyway.  I don’t know what they expected language wise.  We’d both have to go into some sort of detox center for chronic language abuse if that was the case. 

 

When we got to the castle, Andy, Satsu, and every single person I’d ever met greeted us at the door.

 

“Oh, please let me see her,” Andrew fawned, pushing Sats out of the way.

 

She made eye contact with me.  “If you guys ever leave me here again with Martha Stewart we are going to have a serious problem.”

 

He took the baby’s car seat from B and laid it on a nearby table.  He was like a pro at unlocking the seven million latches and getting her out.  He held her like a real mom. Fuck that was weird.  “She knows how to make six different types of cakes now and how to bake the perfect quiche. She’s benefitted from my expertise in all things culinary.”

 

She rolled her eyes. “I hate you,” she mouthed at me. 

 

“Sucks to be you.  Now that we know you can cook, you’re sorta screwed.” I told her.

 

B was fussing over Andy fussing over the baby.  “You have to protect her head,” she was telling him.

 

“I am protecting her head,” he said, well… protectively.  “I am an expert in all things infant.”

 

“Yeah, and where’d you get that expertise?” Kennedy asked.

“I used to baby-sit,” he stated, coddling the baby.  He was rubbing her back and I had to admit he seemed creepily to know what he was doing.

 

“Who the hell would let you baby-sit?” Ken asked.

 

“Kennedy, mouth!” Red said.

 

“Oh my god, I am never speaking again,” she looked at me.  “And before you say good, please remind yourself how I add a much needed dose of reality to your overdramatic life.”

 

“Well, if you don’t speak,” Red said, “Faith will have nothing to curse at. And then her language will clean up and all will be hunky dory and right with the world.  It seems like a win-win for everyone.”

 

“I’m going on a strike,” Ken said.  “No more talking.  Nope, I am not talking anymore.  I’m serious. It’s over.” She sat down on the chair and crossed her arm.

 

“Hey, Ken, can you hand me that bag?” I asked her.

 

“Sure, here,” she said, sitting up. I smiled at her.  “Aw hell.  Just leave me alone.”

 

Buffy was at least less hovering than earlier but she was still watching Andrew hold the baby.  I walked up and put my arm around her.  “Are you glad to be home?” I whispered in her hair. 

 

She nodded and smiled at me.  “Yeah. Still anxious,” she said, nodding with her head towards the baby and the group of young slayers fawning over her. “But glad to be home.”  She hugged me.

 

“You want to rescue our baby?” I asked her.

 

She nodded. “Yes, but I can’t be all overprotective and ‘don’t drop the baby’ and stuff all the time.” She looked up to me. “Can I?”

 

“No. I mean I get that you want to and all, cause I do too.  However, if I acted on every impulse I ever had, well… you’d be naked right now, and…”

 

She giggled. “I sort of want you to finish that sentence.”

 

“You seriously cannot say things like that to me, B,” I whispered back. “I don’t have a lot of restraint. You know, with the impulsive and all.”


She winked at me.  “When she goes to sleep, I mean we can’t do everything cause I am not supposed to but,” she was blushing heavily now, “You know we can do some stuff. Little stuff.  But stuff you’ll like…” she trailed off.

 

Andrew took that sweet moment to interrupt and hand me Joy.  “She needs a diaper change.”

 

I took her and handed her to B.  “Uh no,” she said. “You get to experience everything. I noticed how you were totally absent from that part of it Miss ‘I am not the Daddy.’”

 

I groaned but relented.  After five minutes and six diapers, I’d finally figured it out.  And hey, go me and all.  I’d never done that before.  It didn’t help that they were all standing around laughing and shit.  So I put the first one on backwards?  And the second?  And possibly the third… so what? I got it down after a few more tries.

 

“I’m totally investing in a video camera.  Right now,” Kennedy said. “I’ve got to get all of these blunders on film for when she gets older.  Seriously… the kid needs to see this one day.”

 

“Shut up,” I replied.  “I don’t see your dumb ass over here helping.”

 

She held up her hands.  “I draw the line at dirty diapers.  I love her. I love her mom,” she said, which I would have thought somewhat nice until she winked at B.  Ugh, she was annoying, “and I tolerate you, but nope. Not gonna happen anytime soon.”

 

She was right. It would have been gross if it had been anyone else I guess.  But I loved her.  Dirty diapers and all. And she always smelled so sweet after. I picked her up and nuzzled her into my neck. “Who’s momma’s baby?” I whispered.

 

Ken slapped my arm.  “You just used baby talk. I own you.  Seriously.  You are officially whooped.”

 

I picked Joy up and held her in Ken’s face.  “Say hello, sugar.”

 

Ken stared at her and kissed her on the forehead.  “Aw. Sweet girl,” she said in the same voice.  She quickly made eye contact with me.  “God damn it,” she muttered walking off.

 

After a few hours of fawning, etc. over the new community bundle of joy we finally made our way to bed.  Xander and Andy had spent an inordinate amount of time on the baby’s room.  Of course, there was there was no way in hell she was actually sleeping in there, even though it was adjacent to our room and we could see everything from our bed.  So we brought in a smaller bassinet, B called it, and let her sleep in that.

 


 

 

Because here was the thing, she was supposed to sleep.  I’d read the newborn books Red had forced on me.  I knew they slept all the time.  So that alone time, with the stuff that wasn’t stuff but was still, well… stuff wasn’t happening any time soon.  Not with a baby whose only mission in life was to make sure I never slept again until I became a literal walking zombie.

 

The first few days were spent in the castle researching.  Red and Giles were still not about trusting the rest of the witches they knew (and good choice on their part) so we researched. I researched.  B researched.  Dawn, Giles, Red, Angel, Andy.  Even Xander. Even Kennedy.  Even the girls who were not busy with other tasks.  All we did was read. 

 

And nada. Nothing.  Zilch.  We couldn’t find shit.  It was frustrating enough to have to read for most of the waking hours of the day (B got more time off here because she had to feed the baby – whatever.)  Reading boring ass old shit was a new kind of awful I didn’t even know existed.  Please don’t get me wrong here – I knew we needed to do it.  I was all for finding out what was going on as much as the next person. But the prophecy was too vague. Even with half the population of Scotland researching, we still didn’t make a dent in the most ridiculously boring library of books in the world.

 

“This shit is written in Gaelic,” Ken said.  “At least I think it’s Gaelic.  But I’m not sure because I don’t freakin speak Gaelic,” she said, chucking the book across the room.

 

“Find another book,” Red said, looking up.

 

She moaned. “Isn’t there like a website we can research?  With videos and stuff. My eyeballs feel like they’re bleeding.”

 

I could tell by the color of Red’s cheeks that this was not gonna end well, so I stood up before she could speak and handed Ken Joy.  “Here hold the baby,” I said.

 

She took her from me and smiled down at her.  “Maybe you can read Gaelic.  Can you? It’d be nice if you could answer me. If for no other reason than to affirm my supreme awesomeness as number one aunt.”

 

“Hey,” Dawn interjected. “I’m the awesome aunt.”

 

Kennedy shook her head.  “No. You’re the overprotective aunt. I’m the awesome one. These roles were set in stone eons ago. It’s pointless to try and change them now.”

 

Dawn rolled her eyes and stuck her nose back in the book.  “Whatever. Dumbass aunt is more like it,” she mumbled.

 

“Okay,” I jumped up.  “So, everyone’s a bit on edge. And this shit is getting us no further away from nothing than when we started.  There’s got to be something else we can do.” Everyone was watching me. Apparently I was supposed to suggest what that something was.  “I mean I don’t know what it is, but there’s gotta be something.”

 

“So what do you suggest, Faith?” Xander asked.  “Because unless it involves extreme torture, and please notice my caveat of extreme here, I’m totally in.  If we keep reading like this, we aren’t gonna find anything anyway because we’ll be too tired to see it.”

 

“Ugh, I don’t know what we should do.  I’m just saying that we should be doing something else.  Why the hell do I have to come up with everything?”

 

Kennedy shifted the baby in her lap.  “Because obviously you’re the brain of the group.”

 

I glared at her.  And then turned to Red. “So, you’re the brain here. What do you think? Should we be doing something else or is there something else we could do?”

 

She shrugged. “Unless we contact the coven and ask… I don’t know how.  And I am not for suggesting that.  I don’t know where Olivia is or who is helping her or what they know.  It’s frustrating to me as much as it is the rest of you. But unless one of you have a suggestion, we’re stuck in here until we find something.”

 

Or die. I wanted to say.  However, I was smart enough not to. I preferred to at least see my child’s first birthday.

 

“No one likes this,” Buffy said.  She looked at me. “Talking about it’s doing nothing but making everyone antsy.”

 

Giles took off his glasses and cleaned them.  “Maybe Faith has a point and we should at least take a break. Xander is right. If we are tired, we are more likely to miss something.”

 

“Wow, Giles,” Xander said.  “Can you say that again? You know the part about me being right?”

Giles ignored him.  “I at least think we should take a break of some kind.”

 

Kennedy hopped up, Joy in her arms.  “You don’t have to tell me and the little one twice,” she said.  “We’re gonna go for a walk.”

 

“No!” B and I both said at the same time.

 

She ignored us and put her arm around Red.  “Wanna go with us?  Get some fresh air? See that thing that’s rumored to burn real bright in the sky and make it so we don’t need flashlights to see?”

 

“You are not taking her on a walk,” I said moving towards them.  Red was nodding vigorously as anxious as we all we’re to get out I guess.  However, not researching for a few hours was one thing.  Taking my baby on a trek outside where shit can get her, entirely something else.

 

“Kennedy, seriously,” I said, when B shoved me.  “You guys go, get some fresh air and stuff. But she’s fine here with us.”

 

“Oh my god, I am a slayer, Faith.  And Will is a witch. A pretty powerful one at that. We’ll take Satsu too,” Satsu nodded at K as eager as she was to get outside. “And Xander will come for… well just to come. But for the love of all that’s holy, please go get some you know… rest and stuff and let us watch her.  We aren’t gonna let anything happen to her.”

 

“I just don’t think that it’s a good idea,” B said.  “We don’t know anything yet and what if something happens. I’d never forgive myself. Or you for that matter,” she added thoughtfully.

 

Red smiled at her.  “Buffy, we’d protect her with our lives, you know that.  Stop and go get some rest or whatever.  Both of you have been up for days.  You’re tired and you have those little dark bags under your eyes.”

 

Buffy grabbed her face.  “Oh my god! I do not!”

 

“Yeah you do,” Dawn said.  “It’s okay and all, we don’t care but the two of you look like zombies.”

 

See, I told you… zombies.  I felt like a damn zombie. All the ‘stuff’ we were supposed to do… well that got pushed aside for a baby that woke, like clockwork, every two freakin hours. I hadn’t gotten REM sleep in days. We tried to work in shifts but Buffy woke up every time she cried and I had to stay up with her or I got the evil eye the rest of the day.  Plus the banging around of shit in our room to keep me awake was extremely effective.

 

I looked at B and raised my eyebrow.  “Wanna go to bed?”

 

She squinted at me.  “Do I have circles under my eyes?  Really?”

 

Damn Red! I was gonna hear about this for a week. I shook my head at her. She had the look of a woman that had been asleep since the Beatles were touring but I was not stupid. “You look great.” I said, wrapping my arms around her.

 

I was beginning to see how I could work this whole sleeping situation to my advantage.

 

“I have bags under my eyes,” she pouted and stuck her bottom lip out.

 

I grabbed it with my lips and kissed her.  “I think you’re beautiful,” I told her.

 

She put her arms around me.  “You’re lying, but it’s sweet.  I guess they can go for a little while,” she whispered.

 

I winked at Kennedy.  “Right. So, we’ll go then.” She started herding everyone who wasn’t allergic to sunlight (read Angel here) out of the room.

 

B pulled away from me.  “Wait!” She said, running up to Ken.  “Let us kiss her good-bye.” She said taking the baby.  “Make sure she’s warm.  And that her head is supported.  I fed her, but if she gets hungry, there’s a bottle in the refrigerator.  And there are two other little sleepers in the bag. And diapers.  Oh and…”

 

“We’re going for a short walk,” Ken said.  “Not Hawaii.”

 

“I know, I know.  I’m just…” she looked at me. “Being ridiculous, huh?”

 

I smiled at her.  “It’s okay. You sorta have a right. We aren’t gonna be mad.” I bent down and kissed Joy on the cheek and wrapped my arm around Buffy.

 

Here comes that hindsight thing that I was so good at seeing.  Best thing I’d done since we got back to the castle – wrap my arm around Buffy.  Because as soon as I did she started falling.

 

Her knees went weak and she started sinking down.  She was still holding the baby, and I was quick enough to grab Joy as Buffy fell. Unfortunately, it meant B hit the floor but I didn’t have much of a choice.  The others ran up pretty quickly.

 

“Buffy!” Dawn and Satsu yelled.

 

Xander took the baby from me as soon as I got her.  I bent down next to B.  Red was already holding her head.  “Buffy,” she was saying softly, “Can you hear me?”

 

This was one of those internal prayer moment things.  I kept thinking, please let her just be tired.  Please let her just be tired.  She was so tired lately.  And then she started shaking.  It was imperceptible at first and then it just… wasn’t.  It was violent.  Terrifying. It was all back.

 

“Faith, stop them,” Dawn whispered.

 

I leaned over B about to take her in my arms.  Red put her hands on me.  “Wait, we don’t know what’s happening.  She may be…”

 

“I don’t give a fuck!” I said.  “She’s seizing. How the fuck long are we gonna have to put up with this?”

 

I grabbed B and pulled her to me.  I rocked her. A lot like she rocked the baby at night. When she’d sing to her in what one could consider the worst voice on the planet.  It always worked for Joy though.  So I rocked her.  Minus the singing of course, but still, I kept thinking – Wake up. Wake up.  Wake up.

 

She finally stopped seizing but she didn’t open her eyes.  At first.  She lay in my arms sort of limp for a few minutes.  The rest of the group was passing Joy around, because she was crying and I couldn’t even look up to see who had her or what was wrong.  I just wanted B to wake up.

 

I pulled her closer to me.  “You gotta wake up now, baby.  This game is getting old,” I laughed softly.  I was desperate. “Come on baby, please.” I kissed her forehead, the sides of her head. I was becoming close to hysterical.

 

“Faith,” she whispered, and I pulled back. 

 

“B? Baby, are you okay?” 

 

“I… uh…” Her eyes shot open and she tried to move.  It was obvious her head was hurting because when she tried to jump up she grabbed the sides of it.  “Ow. God, is Joy okay? Did I drop her!?!”

 

“No. It’s okay.  She’s right there,” I said, pointing at Kennedy.

 

Kennedy smiled at her. “No worries.  We have super reflexes.  It’s all good.”

 

Buffy started crying then.  I don’t know what it was that Ken said, but now I knew I’d have to kill her.

 

“B, what is it?” I said. I pulled her to me.  We were still sort of sitting on the floor.

 

“I know what Olivia wants,” she said, crying into my neck.

 

“What?!?” Almost every single person in the room screamed.

 

B was sobbing against my neck.  I hadn’t really seen her cry like this since the day we found her.  Her entire body was racked and it was evident she was trying to talk but I didn’t know what she was saying. 

 

I tried to rock her.  Rub her back. Just to get her to calm down. I had to know what she saw. “They’re going to try to take her again. They won’t stop,” she gulped.

 

“No one is gonna take her,” I tried.  “I won’t let them.”

 

“Why?” Red said.  “Did she say why?”

 

“She said,” B cried. “A baby had to be made.  One that wasn’t meant to be.  She said we would waste her power.  Waste everything. She said she was better off dead than staying with us.  And then she showed me…” she trailed off trying to catch her breath.

 

Okay, back to not feeling guilt about cutting that bitch’s arm off.

 

“What did she show you, Buffy?” Giles asked, bending down beside her.

 

“She showed me the future…” B was shaking.

 

“What did you see?” Red asked.  She seemed puzzled.

 

Buffy shook her head.  “I can’t…” she stood up. “I should’ve never come back here. I should’ve never come back.” She looked around the room.  I thought she was looking for Joy, but she wasn’t.  She stood up.  I let her move, and put my hand on her arm.  She shrugged me off.  She was still crying. It was a cross between maddening and pathetic to watch.

 

She walked right passed Joy and grabbed Satsu’s hands.  “We’ve got to leave.  We’ve got to leave now.”

 

What the fuck?!?

 

Dawn was confused.  “Where are we going?”

 

B spun around. “You aren’t going anywhere. None of you are. You’re staying here. Satsu and I, we have to leave. We should have never come here. Never.”

 

Satsu’s face was a mirror of my “what the fuck” thoughts.  “Uh, Buffy we need to think about this.  Tell us what you saw,” she tried.

 

“No!” B screamed.  “We need to go. You have to leave with me. It’s not an option.” She stood on her tiptoes, and kissed her on the cheek.  I couldn’t move but I could feel the blood start to rise behind my eyes.  “You’ve always loved me,” Buffy said to her. “You’ve got to get me out of here.” She said.

 

Satsu nodded.

 

The blood behind my eyes was scalding at this point.  All I could see was Buffy holding her hand and Satsu fucking holding it back. I’ve been mad several times in my life.  There’d been those moments when sheer rage had built up inside of me and caused me to completely lose all rational train of thought. Those times had been few and far between here lately thanks to living with slayers. Most specifically Kennedy, who could normally grab me before I could kill the object of my anger. But this time, well, this time… time, and the baby, was on my side, because see… Kennedy was holding her. And she couldn’t stop me.

 

And so I fucking pounced.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 19

 

“Willow!” I heard Kennedy yell.  I was too focused to turn around. But I knew she was going to try and stop me. And Kennedy was fast.

 

But so was I. I jumped on Satsu before she had time to process what I was doing.  I threw her against the wall.  She fell backwards and hit the floor.  She moved to get up. I stared at her. “I swear to god if you fucking move from that spot you’ll regret the day you ever walked into this castle.”

 

She stared back at me. “I already do,” she mumbled. And then, like a goddamn moron, she went to get the fuck up anyway.

 

“I am not fuckin with you, Satsu.  I will break both of your legs.”  I moved towards her.

 

Buffy grabbed my arm, “stop it!”

 

I threw her backwards and turned around.  “What the fuck are you doing, B?!?”

 

“You need to stop, Faith.” She said.  Her face was blank.

 

I closed the space between us.  I could hear the baby crying behind me.  Buffy’s face registered the sound, but she chose not to move.  “I need to stop?” I spat out.  “I need to stop? Are you fucking serious. Buffy?  You pass out and come round two minutes later and announce to the entire fuckin castle that you are leaving with your ex and I need to fuckin stop?!?” I was screaming.

 

I saw Satsu move out of the corner of my eye.  I felt Kennedy move quickly behind me.  “If you move a muscle, I’m gonna have to hurt you.  And I don’t want to do that because I sort of like you.” Ken said. “But I like Faith more.  So I will.” She moved a bit closer to her. “I’ll go ahead and let you make the next move.”

 

Buffy looked around me, “Kennedy, stop,” she sighed.

 

“Fuck you, Buffy,” Kennedy said.

 

“Ken,” Red started.

 

“Buffy,” I said at the same time.

 

“Okay, so everyone here needs to calm down, huh?” Xander interjected. “Buff,” he said, stepping in between B and I, “if you could possibly explain what was going on here, maybe there wouldn’t have to be any bloodshed.”

 

B continued to stare at me.  “It’s not important. But I can’t stay here.”

 

Xander, was smart, I’d give him that.  He moved further in between us and blocked her view so she would have to make eye contact with him instead of me.  “Okay, so first of all, that’s insane.  But we’re going to forgive that part of it since you hit your head on the floor pretty hard. But you were all ‘super mom’ before you went spacey and two minutes later you’re leaving you daughter. That makes less than the last season of Lost.”

 

Angel put his hand on my shoulder.  I was still close to homicidal but for some reason his hand calmed me some.  “Buffy,” he said, “Tell us what you saw.”

 

She violently shook her head.  “I can’t. It doesn’t matter. But I have to go.” She looked over at Satsu.  “You can come if you want. You can stay here. I don’t care but I’m leaving.”

 

I pulled out of Angel’s grasp.  Fuck her. If it took two minutes for her to decide she wanted to leave with her piece of ass who the fuck were we to stop her. “Than get the fuck out,” I said turning around.  I took the baby from Red. She was hesitant, but she relented when she saw my eyes.

 

“What?” B whispered.

 

I cradled the baby in my neck.  “I said, get the fuck out.  If two minutes is all it takes for you to decide you can chuck it all, far be it from me to fucking stop you. Or anyone here. If you want to take Satsu, go right the fuck ahead.  She’s not welcome here anymore anyway.  If she’s gonna ‘how high’ it every time you yell jump, she’s useless to us.”

 

B’d stopped looking at me when I picked up Joy.  She moved to rub her back.  I backed away. “I swear to fuckin god Buffy if you touch her I’ll break your goddamn hand.”

 

“She’s still my daughter,” she whispered.

 

“That you’re abandoning,” I said.  “You don’t get a fuckin say.”

 

“I’m protecting her,” she still whispered.

 

“Wow, awesome. So you’re protecting her by not telling us what the hell you saw and tucking your tail and running. You’re mother of the year.” I growled.

 

“You don’t understand,” she said.

 

“How the fuck could I, B? You haven’t said anything!” I yelled and the baby jumped. Fuck me sideways. I’m an ass sometimes. I rubbed her back. I turned away from her. “Just leave, Buffy. We’ll figure this shit our without you.” I couldn’t say the last sentence without my voice choking. There was no way in hell I was crying in front of her.  I couldn’t turn around.

 

“Buffy, please.” Dawn said.  “Don’t be this stupid. Just tell us what you saw so we can figure it out.  You aren’t leaving.”

 

I scoffed.

 

“Shut up, Faith,” Dawn said to me.  “You aren’t leaving, Buffy.  I know you are freaking out here.  It’s okay. All we’ve done for the past year was freak out.  But if you try to leave, I swear to you, I’ll have every single slayer in this castle tying you down.”

 

“I can’t,” B said.  “I can’t say it.” Her voice trailed off.

 

“Please, Buffy.” Red said.  I turned around. She and Xander led her to the couch on the other side of the room.  She was watching me and the baby.  I refused to make eye contact with her.  Ken was still standing beside Satsu, who smart enough, had not moved. 

 

“Who did you see?” Giles asked her.  “Was it Olivia?”

 

B nodded. I held the baby tighter to me.

 

“What did she say?” Giles prompted.

 

“She said ‘I have something to show you,’ and then they was gone.” Buffy sighed and put her head in her hands.  No one said anything. We were waiting for her to continue. She didn’t.

 

“What did she show you?” Angel asked. 

 

“The future,” B whispered.  Again, she was maddeningly offering us no more information than that. 

 

“And…” Red prompted, putting her hand on b’s knee.  “What did you see?”

 

Buffy sat up and stared passed Red.  She was looking at the wall or at nothing.  She was trying not to make eye contact with anyone.  I still hadn’t moved.  I knew she was freaking out and she saw something awful.  Awful enough to make her run.  I just wasn’t sure I wanted to know what it was.

 

She stood up suddenly and faced me.  “We made a mistake,” she whispered.  She had tears in her eyes.

 

I felt suddenly very sick to my stomach.  I couldn’t speak.

 

She shook her head.  “No, I’m sorry. I don’t mean it like that.” She was crying now.  “I just… they can see me. Olivia.  The others.”

 

“What others?” Giles asked.

 

“She isn’t the only one.  There were other people there with her.  Other women. I only saw her for a moment.” Buffy said.

 

“But she can’t get in here,” Ken interjected.  “Will made it so she can’t get in.”

 

Buffy sighed. “No she can’t get in here.”

 

“What did you see, B?” I finally asked.

 

“Joy has power. She has gifts. But they will get her,” she took a deep breath and tried to compose herself, “and they will kill her.” She spoke so softly I had to strain to hear her.

 

“No,” I whispered.  Ken jumped beside me and took the baby.  “Breathe,” she whispered in my ear.

 

“You can’t know that, B,” I said, moving towards her.

 

She nodded. “I saw it, Faith. I saw them kill her. She was older. A little girl. I…” she was sobbing. “She has your hair,” she whispered. “I…”

 

I pulled her to me. “You don’t have to finish that, okay?” I said to her. “They aren’t gonna hurt her. They can’t get to her. If we have to search the whole fuckin planet to find them, she won’t leave this house till we do.”

 

She shook her head and pulled away from me.  “You don’t get it.  They can’t get in here, but she can get in here,” she said, pointing to her head.  “I saw what happened.  I took her to Olivia.  I gave Joy to her.”

 

I held her and let her cry.  No one said anything. “That’s not gonna happen, baby.”

 

“She can control me, Faith.  She can incapacitate me.”

 

“Buffy, forgive me, but you cannot believe what Olivia shows you,” Giles said. “You have no way of knowing if what you saw was real or not.”

 

She looked at him for a moment.  “It felt very very real, Giles.  Horrifyingly real.”

 

“That still doesn’t mean that it is real.” Red said.  “She could very easily have placed those images and scenes in your mind, Buff.”

 

Ken nodded. “It sounds very trappy…” she added. Because she randomly will just add shit in for no good fuckin reason.

 

“However, it does tell us that she is at least able to practice again, and that is a disconcerting thought.” Giles added.

 

B shook her head.  “You don’t understand! She showed me what she could do. And I am responsible!” She was hysterical.

 

I pulled her back to me.  “She was manipulating you, baby.  Okay? You’d never hurt her. You were willing to leave to protect her.”

 

B cried into my neck.  “I have to leave, Faith. I can’t stay here.  She can use me.”

 

“I’m not letting you go, Buffy.  I’m just not. So we’ll just have to figure out another way,” I looked over my shoulder at Red.  “Right?” I asked, raising my eyebrow at her.

 

Red nodded. “Right.  You aren’t leaving.  We won’t let anything hurt the baby.”

 

No one said anything for a few minutes, letting her words linger in the air. Silence was honestly golden in the castle and it afforded me some time to think about some things. I could almost feel the turning of the wheels inside my head… Jesus H.

 

“Hang on a second,” I said, pulling away from B. 

 

“What?” Kennedy said.

 

I turned to look at Satsu who had at least stood up but hadn’t moved away from the wall. “Where are you from?” I asked her.

 

“Excuse me?” She said. 

 

“Where the fuck are you from?” I asked her again.

 

“Japan,” she answered.

 

“Where in Japan?” I moved closer to her.

 

Buffy was watching me and took this moment to intervene.  I felt her hand on my shoulder.  “Faith, stop.”

 

I shrugged her hand off.  “No. Where did you meet her?” I asked B.

 

“In Australia,” she answered.  What the fuck? When the fuck was she in Australia? She did like a literal world tour for god’s sake. 

 

“Are you serious?” I asked B.

 

She nodded.

 

I ignored her and turned to Giles and Red.  The rest of them were listening as well.  “Don’t you see?” I asked them.  Things were starting to make sense in my fucked up head.  I didn’t like what I was seeing, but I couldn’t ignore it.

 

“See what?” Red asked.  She turned to look at Satsu. She was churning her own wheels.

 

“Whatever you’re thinking, you’re wrong, Faith,” Satsu said.

 

I faced her again. “Maybe.  Maybe not.” I walked closer to her.  “Olivia wanted all of this, right?” I said to the room.  “She’s been driving B crazy for years.  Trying to get her to break.  There was no way she could just force us to do this – to have a baby.  So she started to drive her crazy.  To try and force her to submit.  Because she knew that B would never give in.  But she had to get Buffy to eventually figure out that I could stop pain. It completely makes sense.”

 

Ken patted my arm, still eyeing Satsu.  “Umm, not really, buddy.” She looked over at Red, like crazy, anyone? It’s good to have friends sometimes. Other times, not so much.

 

I shook my head.  “No, it does. She wanted Buffy to get pregnant with Joy. She had to find a way to get her to do it.  She gave B all of those seizures, and headaches and shit so I could ‘save’ her.  But it didn’t go as planned because Buffy kept running. In fact, that was the first thing she did.  She ran. And she kept trying to make it worse… to drive her to the brink.  Hoping she would come back to us.  But B is fuckin stubborn as shit.  She didn’t count on that.”

 

Ken shook her head at me.  “I’m sorry, but show of hands those who are still confused,” Everyone raised their goddamn hands. Fuck it. I felt like the teacher in the Peanuts cartoons.

 

“Look,” I was getting more than a little frustrated.  “She wanted the baby more than anything.  B didn’t get the idea until she got back here. When this Kasadya popped up. Said he wanted a baby. Where the fuck would Buffy get an idea like that?  ‘Well why don’t Faith and I have a baby then?’ I mean come on, how fucked up is that? He’s afraid of me? I can protect her? Were we all blind?”

 

Giles cleared his throat.  “Okay, Faith. Assume you are right and all of this elaborate plan as it were, was to bring Buffy back to us and force her to believe that she must get pregnant with your child in order to save the world.  Again assuming, Olivia put all of this into Buffy’s head, which we never discounted in the first place, and plotted all of this in order to get to the child, what is the purpose in explaining it to us now?”

 

I took a deep breath.  I was trying to stay in control of my thoughts. And my anger.  It was so fucking obvious to me now.  “Buffy is stubborn,” Buffy huffed but stayed quiet.  She still hadn’t gone to take the baby from Willow, which I noticed, but chose to ignore.  “So, Olivia couldn’t get her back here.  Because Buffy just kept fucking running.  And then B runs into Satsu,” I turned to look at her. “How? Why?”

 

Buffy shook her head.  “She was just there one night.  She helped me defeat a nasty demon outside of Sydney.  And she just sort of stayed.  She felt safe.” She looked at Satsu and smiled sadly. “I hadn’t felt safe in a long time. I hadn’t felt like I could trust anyone.”

 

I nodded my head, “And then look, there was this slayer who was coming to Scotland. Eve.  And B and Satsu just ran into her in the airport in Tokyo. What are the chances? Coincidences have a really wicked way of not being coincidences in our world.” I turned and looked at Satsu. “We just fuckin bought it. A magical trace on her fuckin cell phone. Come on?  Really? Olivia led us right to them. Because we had to find them. Buffy had to see what I could do to stop the seizures.  She had to get close to me again.”

 

“This seems like an ELABORATE elaborate plan, Faith.”  Xander said.  “Why go through all of this trouble?”

 

I shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe she had to. Maybe there is something we’re missing. Maybe the seizures are some type of ritual.  Maybe B had to be broken some way. Maybe she thought driving B to the brink would send her back to us quicker than it did.” I sighed.  I couldn’t figure it all out but it didn’t matter.  “I don’t know everything, but I do fucking know this…” I stopped, and turned to B.  “Why did you choose to leave with Satsu when you woke up?”

 

Buffy looked cornered.  “I don’t know.”

 

“Bullshit, B. Think.  You all of a sudden are running away from here. From Joy.  From me. Why?”

 

“She felt safe,” she whispered.  “When I thought about leaving, she felt safe. Like she used to,” she whispered.

 

“And what? That doesn’t seem odd to any of you? You wake up and in two minutes are willing to leave everything with her?  Remember what they prophecy said?  That she needed us both to protect her.  With Buffy gone, we can’t.”  I turned quickly when I saw Satsu move.  “No!” I yelled, and threw her against the wall.  I pinned her with my arms.  “What the fuck is going on?”

 

“You’re delusional is what’s going on.  You think I’m working with Olivia?  Are you mad?” She said, through gritted teeth.

 

“I don’t know what to think.  But I’m beginning to believe that us chalking things up to coincidences keep getting us in fucking trouble.” I muttered.  I hadn’t let her go.

 

“Faith,” B started.  She walked toward me and touched my arm, urging me to let go.  “You are tired.  You’re being irrational.  Satsu would never…” and then she stopped.  She just stopped and started backing away from both of us.  She stood there for a few moments before mouthing ‘oh my god.’

 

“Buffy,” Angel said, springing up.  “What is it?”

 

Buffy was shaking her head.  Like she couldn’t believe what she was seeing in her mind.  All of a sudden something had come back to her.  “I… uh… when I was with Olivia… while I was pregnant… I saw…” she stopped and walked back up to Satsu.  “Unbutton your pants,” she commanded.

 

Okay, well that was not what I was fucking expecting. 

 

“What?!?” Satsu and half the room asked.

 

“Your tattoo,” she muttered.  “On the inside of your thigh.” Aw fuck, I could have gone forever and a day not knowing that.

 

Satsu shook her head.  “Don’t play into Faith’s delusion, Buffy.  You know how she can be. I got that tattoo when I was 17 years old.” She smiled softly at her. “I never even thought you’d noticed it.”

 

Oh holy shit how many ways was I back to imagining this little bitch dead? God damn it.  I started to just go ahead and punch her fucking face in, but I figured I’d go ahead and let her explain herself.

 

Buffy shook her head again.  “No, no. I wouldn’t have thought anything about it.  It was so simple. It didn’t even make sense. It seemed like you’d just sort of drew it there.  But now I remember seeing it somewhere else.  I saw it at Olivia’s.  On a book she kept next to her bed.” We looked at her waiting for her to continue. “When I saw the book, she jerked it up quickly.  I remember thinking that it reminded me of Satsu’s tattoo.  She distracted me with cake and so I sorta shook it off,” she frowned.

 

“What did it look like?” Red asked her.

 

Kennedy had moved closer to me.  It was a probably imperceptible to everyone else but I noticed what she was doing. What could I say? We were in sync like that sometimes.

 

“It was just a circle.  Really simple. With like this tiny triangle in it. It’s not till you get really close to it that you see it’s like a snake, eating it’s tail.  But it was very faint.”

 

I sort of growled then.  Please do not tell me you missed the fact that she said, ‘when you get really close to it.’ You can tell it’s a snake.  Mother of fucking all that was holy. 

 

Kennedy put her hands on my shoulder.  “We’re cool, Faith, right?” She whispered. 

 

I nodded, grudgingly.

 

“A uroboros,” Giles said.  “It’s not an uncommon symbol.”

 

“For a witch maybe,” I muttered.

 

“No, he’s right,” Red said.  “It’s quite a common tattoo, but it’s not the snake that bothers me.” She turned to Satsu. “It’s the triangle in the middle.”

 

“It was a slip of the tattoo artist’s wrist,” she offered in what I had to consider was the flimsiest fucking excuse I’d ever heard.  “He had to put something in the middle to fix it.”

 

Red had given the baby to Angel and was busy drawing the symbol on a sheet of paper. She handed it to Buffy. “Draw the triangle,” she told her.

 

B took it from her. She drew a small triangle smack in the middle of the circle.  It didn’t touch the sides.  Red gasped. “You saw this at Olivia’s?” She asked.

 

She looked at Giles.  “The order of Ate.”

 

“My god,” he said.  “We are utter idiots.”

 

We were staring at them trying to figure out what the fuck they were talking about. It gave Satsu a moment. And that was all that she needed. She ran passed Ken and I both. I reached to grab her and she shoved me into Kennedy.  She was out the door and outside faster than I thought it possible for that bitch to run.

 

We started to chase her but Red held us back. “No!” She yelled. 

 

Red started chanting as fast as she could.  Her eyes were closed.  Before she could finish though, Satsu had just disappeared.  Much like those creepy ass witches had done months ago.

 

“Ugh!” Red screamed, when she noticed.  “I couldn’t stop her,” She shook her head.  “I’m sorry, Buffy. I couldn’t let either of you get close to her though,” she said to Ken and I.  “If they are protecting her… we don’t know what kind of power she has.” She shook her head. “I am really tired of missing stuff.”

 

Right there with you on that one.

 

Buffy just shook her head.  She was busy staring at the space where Satsu was standing.  She just kept shaking her head back and forth like she was in sort of a trance.

 

I put my arm around her.  “Let’s go inside, okay babe?” I asked.

 

She nodded, but didn’t say anything.

 

We walked back inside and I took the baby from Angel.  She was sleeping.  I thought about how many times Satsu had held her.  How many times, before all of this, she’d held B.  How could we not have seen what was right in front of our faces?

 

“Look at it this way,” Ken said.  “At least we know about the order of eaten.”

 

“Ate,” Will corrected her.

 

“Ate. Whatever. It doesn’t sound that bad. How can anything named after consuming food be that scary…” and then she had a moment of clarity, “Okay, yeah. Never mind.  I’m gonna be quiet.”

 

“Her name predates English,” Giles clarified.  He looked at B sadly.  “She makes Glory look like an American cheerleader.”  Which possibly wasn’t the best metaphor since Glory, according to Dawn, did for all intents and purposes look exactly like a cheerleader.  But we still got his meaning.

 

“She’s a goddess, then?” B sighed.

 

Giles nodded. “A very powerful, very evil one.”

 

“Great,” Dawn added.

 

The rest of them groaned.  It had not escaped my mind that the last goddess B had fought took her life.  She’d sacrificed everything for Dawn.  She’d do it again for Joy.  She’d do it willingly. There was a new variable in the equation though. And that was me. No fucking way I was letting anyone else in this fucking castle that wanted to harm anyone I loved.

 

Xander clapped his hands together.  “Look on the bright side,” he announced. We all gave him what I assumed were pure ‘what the hell’ looks, because he backed up.  “No, seriously.  Now we know what we’re looking for when we’re researching.” He patted me on the back. “Great job, Faith.”

 

Buffy took the baby from me and sat down.  She was still staring into space.  She felt betrayed.  We all did. But above that we felt stupid.

 

Really, really fucking stupid.

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 20

 

When I was a little girl, I wanted a dog.  I’d guess that’s every kid’s wish – a pet of some kind to play with and take care of. My mother informed me though (and trust me here when I tell you she was an expert) that I had no business taking care of something else and that I would just “fuck it up” (her words) because I was in fact nothing but a “fuck up” (also her words).  I’ll refrain from telling you just how long it took me to get over that feeling of inadequacy mostly because I still wasn’t exactly over it.

 

I watched Buffy hold Joy and saw how much she loved her.  She had that look that her own mother got when she was watching B or Dawn do something – well anything really.  Buffy could say something so incredibly stupid it would make you wonder just how far back your eyes could roll and Joyce would just smile at her lovingly. Dawn could be the most annoying kid on the planet and Joyce would just hug her.  They whined she ignored it.  They’d beg and she’d be firm but sweet.  She was like the perfect fucking mother. 

 

And don’t think I didn’t watch.  I did. Having a mother whose purpose in life was to slap me sideways whenever she was awake enough to do so, made me a bit envious of B’s situation.  Not to say that Joyce didn’t treat me the same way because she did.  She cooked for me.  She always made sure I felt like I had somewhere to go.  She even popped over to the skeevy motel on more than one occasion just to “check in.” I acted like a hardass in front of her. Made her think I was okay and she didn’t need to check on me.  But every time she left, I always felt (if even for a short time) like there really was someone that maybe could care about me. 

 

She was a real mom.  It was weird. Mostly because I didn’t know what moms were supposed to do.  I just thought they were there to annoy you (as most teenagers do) and to beat the hell out of you (apparently not as common a theory).  It made me wish that she was my mom. 

 

Of course, I fucked that up. I fucked a lot of things up back then.  But when I threatened Buffy and did those things to Joyce, the mom claws came out.  I regret a lot of shit in my life, but what I did that day is pretty fucking close to the top. She was a real woman. An actual lady (as much as I hate that word).  When Angel told me she’d died, I hurt for B.  I couldn’t imagine what she was feeling.  But I grieved too. And not because I would never really get to apologize to her.  But just because the world really lost a gift that day.

  

I was thankful that Buffy had her as long as she did though.  Everything that B did, even the way she held Joy was the epitome of her mom.  Or at least what I’d imagined Joyce would have been like as a new mom.  I knew B and Dawnie both were sad about the fact that Joyce wasn’t alive and could never meet her granddaughter.  It made me sad too.  But I felt like she was at least here (not in spirit or anything – I’m not a kook) but that what she taught them sort of lived on through them.  Know what I mean?

 

I watched B rock the baby.  She wasn’t doing anything special.  I mean moms do it all the time, right?  But it was just the way she was holding her, I guess.  She seemed lost in thought, and I’m sure she was.  She felt as betrayed as the rest of us.  More so, probably.  But all she was thinking about at the moment was Joy.  She could cut off all other distractions where the baby was concerned. She’d been willing to leave, not even a second glance, if it meant that Joy would survive. Now, everyone could agree that she was being irrational, sure, but the fact that she felt there was no other option and that she had to make that sacrifice and was prepared to do so willingly was sorta awe-inspiring to me. 

 

This is where you shouldn’t get me wrong.  I felt the same way.  I’d run head first into the pits of hell for either one of them. I most likely had made that pretty obvious, but it doesn’t make it any less true.  I needed to remind myself occasionally as well. Because it took me quite some time to understand, to realize I guess, that I was in love with B. So much of what I felt for her was anger… pure unadulterated rage.  But hey, thin lines and love and hate and all.  No one could piss me off faster than Buffy and there wasn’t a person on the planet that I wanted to protect more.  It fueled the path of destruction I wrought for years.  I’d gone out of my way in criminal terms to get her to notice me. To love me.  As dead set as I was trying to get Buffy to see what I was feeling, the thought did not once occur to me that she might actually be able to feel the same thing. I was a kid, and for the most part, kids are stupid creatures. I made the mistake of doing absolutely everything completely and almost comically wrong where B and I were concerned. And the consequences were beyond devastating.

 

So… maybe all of this was punishment for being such a dumbass.  Because, here was the biggest mind fuck of all. I loved Joy too. As much as B did. As much as anyone could love someone. And to me, it was weird, because no one had ever given me the same kind of attention.  The same kind of love.  I always thought I’d be a shit parent.  How did I know how to love?  It had never made any sense to me.  Kids always seemed to be little monsters that caused a lot of problems.  What with the crying and the messes and the general lack of knowledge of anything outside of their existence.

 

And yet the fact that there was someone out there, several some ones actually that wanted her or wanted her dead, made every cell in my body react in ways I wasn’t aware was humanly possible.  I’d never felt that way about anyone.  Not even Buffy. Because B could protect herself. Even with me in the way, trying to do it for her.  But Joy, she needed us. And when someone needs you like that… it’s a different kinda love.  And not one I am good enough at explaining.

 

And then Satsu. I guess out of every betrayal that one pissed me off the most right now.  I’d slowly let her in.  The thought of her sleeping with Buffy enough to drive me mad, and so I’d dutifully blocked it completely out of my brain.  And now this. I felt like a fucking tool. She’d used us so well we might as well just bent over for her.  Good thing though – I could now at least call up all that rage I had when I visualized her with my girlfriend.  Someone could bleach my brain and I’d never get that comment about up close and personal with her inner thigh out of my head.  Ugh. She was top on my list of people to harm in slow and painful ways.

 

After she went the way of the invisible and disappeared right in front of our fucking eyes we went back to researching. 

 


 

“So let me get this straight,” Xander asked.  “this seven woman, or whatever, is a god or goddess like Glory?”

 

Giles groaned. “Ate.  A-t-e.  It is actually pronounced aw-tay.” He looked to Willow.

 

She shrugged. “I’m not Greek.”

 

“Not the number eight.  Or seven for that matter. According to Greek mythology,” We all groaned.  He continued, ignoring us. “Which, I will have you know is often based in fact, Ate was the eldest daughter of Zeus.  She was the goddess of misfortune and evil and was responsible for the downfall of many through the insertion of blind infatuation.  Apparently, those with obsessive natures were thought to be considerably weak and Ate was adept at manipulating that weakness.  She, at some point, was banished though I’m not clear how much of what she did was based in fact and not myth.”

 

See here was the thing I hated about prophecies and myths, etc.  We never knew how much of the shit was real. It was beyond frustrating. So we had to research through countless books and then consult other books and then cross-reference those books and we just ended up with a lot of books and the majority of the room being more confused than when we started.

 

Dawn walked over to one of the shelves in the library and grabbed a book. “Wait a minute,” she said. “I think she’s mentioned in here.”

 

We all looked at her.  I mean we knew she studied to be a watcher and all but it always surprised us when she could remember miniscule shit like that.

 

“I don’t know why you people don’t believe I study,” she said, opening the book and reading. “In ancient Greek culture Ate was known for criminal folly or reckless ambition that lead men beyond their proper sphere; her power refers both to blind ambition, and also to moral blindness that lacks the courage and humility to admit wrong and to ask forgiveness. In Greek mythology the goddess Ate, often synonymous with the word ‘Ruin’ personified this fatal blindness and recklessness, which produced crime, and the divine punishment, which followed it. However, she is not responsible for the retribution or punishment.”

 

“Well that doesn’t sound pretty,” Ken said. Voice of obviousness, thy name is Kennedy. “Does it say anything about who is responsible for the punishment if she isn’t?”

 

Dawn shook her head and grabbed another book.  “This is a newer translation.  It’s called Those to Be Reckoned With.”

 

Great. Ominous titles were always fun.

 

Dawn opened it and found the page she was looker for. “Ate can have any appearance she wants but often chooses to take on the looks of a teenage girl. She is said to usually have wavy dark brown hair that is often styled differently depending on her mood. Her eyes appear to be a dazzling blue and once someone looks into them, they are often hypnotized, a physical manifestation of her tempting powers. Her body is said to be slender and beautiful which furthers her goal of temptation. She is marked with the uroboros and fire symbol.”

 

“Is that the tattoo?” I asked. 


Dawn nodded. “Ate is considered a cruel and evil goddess. She is an actress though, and her personality is captivating. Humans are easily seduced by her beauty and flattery. She has no regard for any life besides her own and is willing to use whomever she desires to do whatever it takes to bring down those she feels has wronged her. Her eternal existence is ruled by her anger and vengefulness. She prays on fear and uses human weakness to her advantage. She is ruled by revenge and her primary purpose is the extraction thereof from those who have wronged her.”

 

“So basically, we are looking for a hottie who is evil,” Ken interjected. “Some teenage girl with blue eyes who is gonna manipulate us into doing what exactly?”

 

Dawn glared at Ken.  “If you’d let me finish, I could maybe tell you.”

 

Kennedy held up her hands.  Red elbowed her. “Sorry,” she said. “I’m just anxious. I prefer to fight demons with horns and shit.  Not young girls who are trying to tempt us with their ethereal beauty. Continue.”

 

Dawn kept reading. “The youthful appearing goddess is a master at deceit and uses the misfortune of others to her advantage. Those who have experienced the worst are often drawn to her through a myriad of promises and fulfillments. Her powers are in manipulating those who are weak and long for love. Due to her banishment, she is unable to live on earth for an extended period of time.  It would take the sacrifice of a pure innocent to open the worlds and allow her to truly walk among mortals.”

 

Umm I didn’t like that caveat at all.   I looked at Joy. Apparently she was the innocent one D was referring to. B caught my eye. She smiled sadly at me. I had the same feeling.

 

Dawn kept reading. “Once on Earth, Ate will be able to exact her vengeance on those gods that have made it a priority to save humanity, and by doing so enslave her. Her followers seek similar retributions for wrongs done to them.  If she succeeds, the punishment and enslavement of those that will choose not to follow her is inevitable.  Her methods are cruel even by the standards of evil. Death of mortals is of no consequence to her.  She wishes only to be worshipped and create destruction. Her desire does not come without risks however. The blood of a pure one is often impossible to attain and if she fails, this person will bring about a destruction, which will make her finite and therefore able to be destroyed.” She closed the book. “So yeah…”

 

Understatement, I thought.  “So this goddess is trying to what?  Take over the world? Are there no creative evil beings?”

 

“Unfortunately not.” Giles muttered.

 

“Yeah, why can’t one of them like you know, decide to take over the world and build a giant amusement park?” Ken asked.  She thought for a minute.  “Scratch that. Most likely their idea of amusement parks would be roller coasters to hell.  Doesn’t sound like as much fun when I say it out loud.”

 

“No kidding,” Xander said.

 

“I was right,” B whispered.  “She does want to kill her.” She looked at me.  “Why us? Why her?  Did we do the wrong thing?” She looked down at Joy and kissed her forehead.  “It doesn’t feel wrong. But… I…” She faltered.

 

“It doesn’t matter the choices we made,” Angel said.  “We’ve already made them.  She’s here now.” He smiled at Buffy. “And no one is going to argue that that is a bad thing. You’ve forgotten the other prophecies about the good she is supposed to do, Buffy.  We’ve just got to make sure that she gets to do them. Dawn said that it would be difficult for Ate to kill her and that Joy could make her finite.  That means we can destroy her.”

 

B nodded, not entirely convinced I assumed.  We probably were too quick in acting.  So what?  How did that make us any different than all of those people who accidentally get pregnant? I walked over to B and stretched out my arms.  She handed me the baby. I held her to me. “There’s a difference between accidents and mistakes,” I told her.  “We made a quick judgment.  One we assumed we had to make.  And she’s here. And she’s perfect. And now we know what is going on.” I wrapped my free arm around B.  “I honestly feel better.  I know it’s scary but at least we know what we’re up against. And we know that we can defeat her. Even if we don’t know how. That’s something right?”

 

She nodded and smiled at me.  “Yeah, it is.”

 

Giles and Red had been uncharacteristically quiet this entire time. It hadn’t escaped my attention. Or apparently Kennedy’s. “So,” K said to Red. “go ahead and throw the other shoe at us.  What are you thinking?”

 

Red shook her head and sat down.  “Nothing. It’s good we know. Faith’s right. We’ve got a starting point. Now we can get somewhere. I’m just,” she looked at Giles. “I just wonder, I mean, how we’re going to… defeat her?  Do we wait until Joy is older?  I don’t understand a few things is all.”

 

Giles nodded. “There are quite a few things that are much clearer, though.” He said to her. “Our main concern should be defeating her however.  I also would like to know why she chose Buffy and Faith. She must have known that the baby would also be a powerful force of good.  That seems quite a risk.”

 

“You think it had to be us?” I asked him.

 

“If I followed your line of thinking regarding coincidences, then yes, I do. If we knew why, the big picture if you will, I believe it would put us at more of an advantage.  It is important to understand that Joy can be used to bring her back, but also be used to defeat her.”

 

“Uh, I beg to disagree,” I said.  “There’s no way in sweet hell you are using my newborn to defeat a goddess. Sorry and all.” I held her too me more protectively.  Giles often neglected to see the ‘big picture’, mainly the one of me sticking my boot up his ass repeatedly.

 

“Yeah,” Ken said.  “What are you going to do, give her a tiny little sword and take her into battle? She can’t even raise her head yet.”

 

“No, I do not think a tiny sword would be sufficient,” he said, rolling his eyes at what I felt was a valid fucking question.  “I just meant if she was powerful enough to risk bringing her into the world then there is something powerful enough in her to stop Ate’s rise. Our first question though, is defeating her. And to do that we must understand Joy’s role in all of this.”

 

The baby started fussing in my arms.  B took her from me.  “I think she’s hungry,” she said.  Unbuttoning her shirt.

 

“Umm, well yes, feed away,” Giles said, averting his eyes.

 

Everyone else suddenly found more interesting things to stare at. Most everyone anyway. “Why does this make you all uncomfortable?” Kennedy asked.  “The baby’s gotta eat. I don’t see what the big deal is.” She wiggled her eyebrow at me.

 

“Stop looking at my girlfriend’s breast,” I told her.  “You are twisted.”

 

Kennedy shrugged. Red smacked her in the back of the head.  “You should honestly be very glad I’m secure in our relationship, honey.  Otherwise, I’d have turned you into a lizard months ago.”

 

Ken wrapped her arms around her girlfriend.  “You know I love you, babe.”

 

Red rolled her eyes.  For that matter, so did I. I didn’t mind watching B feed the baby though.  It was sort of cool. I scrunched my face up.

 

“What is it, Faith?” Buffy asked.

 

“Does that hurt?” I asked her.  Cause it did also look sorta painful. 

 

She shook her head.  “No. It did at first, but not now. It hurts more if she doesn’t eat. At least we got that breast pump though. That thing keeps me from having to manually squeeze…”

 

Xander jumped up.  “Please Buffy, if you ever loved me, please, please don’t finish that sentence.  I love you and I love the babe, but please don’t finish that.” His face was a mixture of horror and pain.  I sorta wanted her to finish so I could see if he’d like explode or something just as cool.

 

Kennedy nodded. “I agree.  You just sucked all the fun out of that image,” she said.

 

She smiled at them and then winked at Will.  She’d totally done that on purpose.  One of the many reasons I loved her. 

 

Buffy continued feeding her and we went back to the books.  Dawn mentioned that there might be others that would link the prophecy between Joy and the resurrection of Ate and she handed them all around. It was safe to say we’d found close to fuck all, when Red popped up out of her chair.

 

“What is it?” Dawn asked.

 

“Someone is on the grounds,” her face was blank, like she was concentrating on trying to see.

 

“Who?” Ken and I jumped up.  Angel quickly followed.

 

She looked passed us and raised her hand to tell us to be quiet.  We were moving towards the front door.  “Stop,” she said.  “Let me go.”

 

We moved to let her in front of us.  She opened the door and we watched a woman walking across the field.  She stopped at the barrier Red had magicked when we came back to the castle. It took me a moment to realize who it was.  “Samantha,” I whispered.

 

“Why is she here?” Kennedy asked.

 

“I don’t know,” Red said.  “But I intend to find out.” She walked outside.  Ken and I followed her.  It was still daylight and well Angel would have spontaneously combusted and all. “Do not do anything,” Red warned us. “She can’t harm you behind the barrier. I won’t let her through unless she agrees to relinquish her powers.  We don’t know if she is working with Olivia or not.  So don’t jump to conclusions.”

 

We nodded at her. Red knew us well. Because if anyone had managed to forget that bitch gave me a mystical VD.  I was less than keen on her before all of this started.  If she was working for Olivia, I was hoping I could at least get a few punches in before she turned me into a walking scab. 

 

Ken cracked her knuckles.  She was definitely thinking the same thing I was.  “How are we going to know if she is or not?  You gonna ask her to get naked?  See if she’s got any spooky tattoos hidden somewhere?”

 

“Maybe,” Red answered, completely oblivious to the tone in K’s voice.

 

Kennedy growled.  “Right,” she said, looking at me. 

 

I saw it as a good thing.  Two pissed off slayers were often better than one.  And at least I’d have help.

 

We started across the lawn towards her.  She was holding up her hands in a sign of surrender or a sign of ‘I’m a powerful witch and you’re dumbasses for believing me.’  It was hard to tell the difference with these women.

 

“Remember,” Red said, turning around to us.  “Let me handle this.  You two are back up.”

 

We nodded again.  When she turned back around, Ken looked at me.  ‘Fuck that,’ she mouthed.

 

‘Right,’ I mouthed back.

 

This bitch would have about thirty seconds to explain herself.  I was tired of waiting.  Luckily, I had a partner in crime with the same attitude. We were about to get some answers. And at this point, I was hoping I could extract them using my keen powers of persuasion.

 

Because, above everything, I was fucking tired of talking. I wanted to end this. It was time we knew who was with us. And more importantly, who wasn’t.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 21

 

Ken and I stayed about a foot behind Red.  Like I said, we were giving her about thirty seconds by my estimation before we pounced. That’d give us about thirty seconds to do some damage before Red magically punched us all the way back to the castle. That type of headache (and trust me here, they were definitely bruisers) was a small price to pay.

 

“Samantha,” Red said.  She walked up to the edge of the barrier.  “You cannot come any further than that.  If you try, well,” she looked thoughtful, trying to think of the perfect word here. “It will hurt. A lot.” To the point, I guessed.

 

Samantha nodded her evil witchy head.  “I can feel the barrier.  I’m not stupid.”

 

Red scoffed. “That really remains to be seen. I am willing to let you pass if you relinquish your powers.”

 

“You must be mad.” Samantha replied, frowning.

 

“If by mad you mean on the edge of raging fucking angry, then yep, we’re pretty fucking mad.” I spat out.

 

“Faith,” Red hissed. “I said I’d handle this.” She turned to Kennedy. “You two are going to behave yourselves are you’re going right back inside,” she said like she was in charge. And fuck me if she wasn’t always in charge.  Although, I’m gonna be honest here and say there was a reason.

 

Kennedy nodded but when Red turned around, she cut her eyes at me.  “Wait,” she mouthed, with a wink.

 

I nodded back. I could wait to see what the witch decided.  I couldn’t really harm her on the other side of the barrier.  But if I could tease her over here, well she’d burn up like a little crispy critter.  I thought back to the itch I’d had because of her.  Yep, that seemed just.

 

“You have absolutely no choice,” Red said and her eyes flashed with spooky badass look she had. “You relinquish or we go back inside.”

 

Samantha sighed and nodded.  “I am only here to help.” We didn’t reply.  “Fine. I relinquish my power.”

 

Will said a few words and Samantha was surrounded by a white light, which rose and then sort of zapped out above her head.  It was wicked weird.  “You can come in now.” Red nodded at her.

 

Samantha nodded back and crossed the barrier.  She flinched at first.  I assumed she didn’t trust us. Couldn’t really blame her there. “I have news about Olivia. And what she is planning.”

 

I stepped into her personal space, “What the fuck do you know?” I said, picking her off the ground.

 

“Oh my goddess! Faith!” Red yelled.  “I will throw you into the pond! Put her down.” 

 

I slowly sat her back on the ground.  To be honest, it felt pretty fucking good picking her up like that. Especially considering how very much I hated her guts.  I smiled guiltily at Red and held my hands up in the air.  “Sorry,” I offered.

 

“Oh, for the love, you most definitely are not sorry.  One more word or even movement from either of you and you’re leaving.”

 

Neither of us said anything.  Ken high-fived me when Red turned around. 

 

Red ignored her and addressed Samantha.  “Once you’re finished, I will return your powers.  You have to be outside of the barrier though.”

 

Samantha nodded again.  “I understand. Are we going inside?” She began to walk towards the castle.

 

“No!” Ken and I both shouted at the same time.

 

Red held up her hand.  She looked at Samantha. “We aren’t too eager to let you around the baby. And by that I mean the literal baby inside. And not the two giant ones behind me.”

 

Okay, I was gonna be quiet.  There was no real reason to piss Red off.  She would probably like give the two of us some inane task like dusting Giles’ books or something. And before anyone could ask, yes we’d have to do it.  Ignoring her was a helluva lot more painful.  We’d had to learn that lesson over and over again.  I guess we really hadn’t learned it then… Okay, focus, Faith.

 

“I suppose I understand.  However, since you’ve taken my powers there is no real threat to any of you that I could possibly possess.” Samantha sighed heavily.  Oh please, cry me a fuckin river.  No one gave a shit.

 

Red ignored her whining.  “What do you know?”

 

She looked warily at Ken and I.  She was afraid of us now.  Since she wasn’t all hyped up on magical steroids.  “Before I say anything, please promise me you’ll hear me out before you try to kill me.”

 

I had to give it to her.  At least she was perceptive.

 

Red turned around to us and raised an eyebrow.  Oh fuck it.  “Okay,” we both mumbled.

 

Red smiled at her.  “See they will refrain from bodily harm.  Anyway, I can shrink them down to about an inch in under three seconds.” Holy shit, that didn’t sound fun. “So, they’ll behave.”

 

“First of all,” Samantha started, still eyeing me.  “I no longer work for Olivia.”  I fucking knew it.  No way she wasn’t evil. She kept her eyes on me. Watching to see if I made a move, I guessed.  “I was completely unaware of the power that your daughter would possess when all of this started.” She sighed again.  “I was also unaware of what would be required for us to attain it.”

 

“What’s that?” Ken growled.

 

She looked down at the ground then.  “I do not condone the death of a child.  I never have. Olivia told us that she would bring us great power.  That we would raise her as our own.” I felt my stomach clinch.  That was gonna happen over her dead body.  “However, I was kept in the dark about a lot of it. Several of us were. The Order of Ate is very old, Willow. Women like us have been waiting for her return for centuries.”

 

“For what?” I asked.  “To manipulate and murder people.  Sounds like a fucking carnival.”

 

She shook her head.  “No. I assumed there would be casualties. But when is there not in our line of work?  People often choose a side in these battles.  And the lines between good and evil are never clearly drawn.”  She seemed to believe that.  Her freakin convictions didn’t make it any less fucked up though.

 

“So what?” Ken asked.  “It’s okay for people to die as long as you get what you want?  And speaking of which, what the fuck did you want?”

 

Samantha shook her head.  “You are simplifying a complex issue.  I didn’t want anyone to die. I never did.”

 

“Again,” Ken said.  “What the fuck did you want then?”

 

She shrugged. “Power, I suppose. What many people want. We are afforded a luxury because we are endowed with gifts that others do not possess.”

 

By we, I guessed she was suggesting that we were all in the same fucked up crazy boat she was in.  I highly begged to disagree. I didn’t feel like anything she said was helpful.

 

“Let’s get back to the baby,” I offered.  Because I was sick of hearing her talk already, I might add.  “What does the baby have to do with your fucked up hottie goddess?”

 

She looked surprised that I knew that but quickly shook it off.  “Ate, as I assume you may already know, cannot exist on the mortal plain.  Much like we had you believe Kasadya could not.”

 

“Had us believe?” Red asked her.

 

She nodded. “Kasadya does exist. Or we assume he does. We needed to create an enemy formidable enough to frighten you.  To frighten Buffy.  And yet, someone you would know very little about.  We couldn’t have your researching this demon and realizing it was a ruse.”

 

“So everything you did to Buffy,” Ken started, stepping closer to her. “Everything was what? A fucking ruse? Is that what you call torturing someone for three years?  A ruse?”

 

Red motioned her back.  “Is she right?”

 

Samantha nodded.  “I… it’s more complicated than that.  A ruse yes. But we didn’t know it last near as long as it did.  In fact, we only needed to lure Buffy away from you long enough to cast the spell on her. We assumed she would go back to you. It was a rather large mistake not taking into account Buffy’s resolve,” she finished.

 

“You mean stubbornness,” I said.  “B is fuckin stubborn as shit.  You should have seen that within a month. Who was the man she was with? The one the car dealer saw?”

 

“There wasn’t one.  It was Olivia. A glamour.  Nothing more.  She was able to use a spell to make Buffy less aware of her surroundings as well. We were therefore able to perform the initial spell required to gain access to her mind.” She became agitated then. I didn’t fucking care though.

 

“And by that you mean you were basically able to torture her for three years?” I spat out.

 

She nodded. “It wasn’t supposed to happen like that. She was supposed to believe she was sick and then go back to you.  You were the other key in all of this.  But she didn’t. She kept running. She was extremely hard to find. The spell that we had cast to make her invisible to you while we were performing the necessary… adjustments backfired on us.  We just assumed she’d go back to you.  So we looked for her too. We were as clueless as you were.”

 

Red scoffed. “You found her before us though…”

 

Samantha nodded.  “We also made ignorant assumptions in regards to you.  We believed you’d continue to look for her.  But you faltered.  You got tired.  It was never supposed to take this long.”

 

“So what did you do?” Ken asked her.  “Get your butt monkey Satsu to seduce her?”

 

She sighed again.  I so wanted to stab her. Here was me using my powers of restraint.  She looked at me. Possibly I wasn’t using them that well. “Yes, Satsu was a member of our order. We recruited her shortly after she was called.  She was a failsafe. When we were given word that someone in Australia matched the description of the slayer, we sent Satsu there. We endowed her with certain gifts,” she looked down. “Sexually.” 

 

Oh holy fuck. I was gonna have actual fun killing everyone of these bitches.  I must have growled because Ken put her hand on my arm.  “I’m good,” I mumbled.

 

“It was not just a seduction.  Satsu fell for her quite easily.  We didn’t expect that.”

 

“You didn’t expect a lot of things,” Willow said.  “You were all carless.  Insanely so. The people and lives you’ve put at risk is nothing less than criminal.  Even without the things you did to Buffy.”

 

“I am aware,” Samantha answered.  “It is why I’m here. We gave Satsu certain powers. She couldn’t stop what was happening to Buffy.  At this point, no one but Faith could, but she could make her feel safe.  It was simple really.  A bit of magic.  A chance run-in at an airport.  The power of suggestion is strong in young ones and we knew Eve would tell you. We also knew that Giles would call Olivia.  We had to have Buffy and Satsu close and she persuaded Buffy to move to London. Again, we endowed her with certain attributes and Buffy was easily manipulated.  After Giles called, we were able to plant the seeds needed to create a meeting between the two of you,” she finished looking at me.

 

“So all of this was for what?” I asked her.  I kept thinking about killing her but I didn’t have enough information yet. “The baby?”

 

“The pregnancy aspect was set into motion from the beginning.  We had our version of Kasadya plant the seed early. We felt it would drive her back to you sooner.  We were, like I said, mistaken.  However, once it was obvious what he wanted, it was incredibly easy to suggest to her that she get pregnant with another child instead.”

 

“Hold up,” Ken said.  “What if she chose someone else besides Faith?” She looked at me and shrugged.  “I mean she could have chose Angel or Satsu or whatever. What then?” Jesus Christ the amount of people I was imagining killing was bordering on ridiculous.

 

“She wouldn’t. Even before all of the spells we cast, we knew she wouldn’t.  Your souls have been connected since you first met,” she made eye contact with me. “When you were called we couldn’t actually believe our luck. The two of you, together, could create the perfect child.”

 

“How did you know this?” Red asked her.

 

“We’ve been watching Faith since the day she was called.  And Buffy as well.  Why do you think, Faith, that the two of you were so combustible?  You couldn’t even be in the room with her without your heart beating twice as fast.”

 

Still couldn’t, I thought.  I didn’t answer her though.

 

“Prophecies spoke of a merging of slayers’ destiny,” she whispered. 

 

Oh good lord. Not another prophecy speech. Seriously. Could these people ever just let fucking things be for once?

 

“There were never supposed to be two.  You know that. When Kendra died, the instant before you were called, powers aligned that you cannot begin to imagine. Soul mates often never find each other. There was no guarantee that you would be called in the first place.  You were a potential.  We’d waited centuries for a pairing such as yours.”  She spoke with some kind of screwed up awe in her voice.

 

“We’re both chicks,” I offered. 

 

“Oh heavens, that doesn’t matter the least bit.  You may both be female but… a child could still be created from your bond. It was extremely simple. Your body is a shell. Your soul doesn’t have a gender. And the two of you were each giving and receiving something to the bond.  At the time you were the dark one.  But,” she shook her head. “It doesn’t matter.”

 

“The hell it doesn’t,” I said. 

 

“You were often the dark counterpart Faith.  Your circumstances had led you to that path.  But Buffy, she faced her on demons, if you will. Much larger and darker than yours. Your path to redemption has been clear from the beginning.  Hers has been muddy. None of this matters. As I’ve mentioned, there is not clear line between good and evil.”

 

I didn’t like hearing that.  I know that’s shocking, but I had to believe that B was the good one.  Nothing fucking made sense if she wasn’t all lightness and warmth. I’d accepted my role as her lesser, darker half years ago. 

 

“I don’t believe you,” I muttered.

 

She shrugged. “You wouldn’t. It’s what makes the two of you so fascinating.”

 

Ken could sense my aggravation. “Let’s change the subject and get back to what’s important here… Joy.  Why the baby?”

 

Samantha broke the trance she was in and looked at Ken.  “She is the perfect creation.  A merging of soul mates more powerful than any regular human. She has two destinies. And that is why I am here.”

 

“And what are they?” Red asked.

 

“She has both a path to righteousness and to renewal.  One is to lead the way for Ate to rise.  To create a world where women who are scorned will have their just revenge. Our world has been too long in the hands of men.  With the rise of Ate men will be put back in their natural place.  They will no longer rule with fear and pain.  They will be used for what they were intended for… as donors to continue the race. Her death would create a circumstance for Ate to rise.” Okay, so holy shit that was fucked up.  “The other path… the one to righteousness states that she will live to be a fighter of evil.  Much like her mothers. However, she will be much stronger and through her death, her sacrifice will usher in a millennium of peace amongst mortals.”

 

Uh, what the holy fuck?  “What the fuck? With her death? Are you fucking kidding me?!? Both goddamn scenarios require her death?!?” I screamed

 

Kennedy grabbed my hand.  “Let her speak,” she said softly.

 

“Yes. It is a part of the prophecy.” She stated, as simply as if she was talking about the weather.

 

I lunged at her then.  Kennedy grabbed me by the waist.  “Oh my god,” she said. “I want to kill her as much as you do, but you’ve got to let her finish.”

 

I nodded because I was afraid to use my voice.  I couldn’t believe that they had let this happen.  Fucking idiots.  All of them. Just… just fucking idiots.

 

“What do mean that she has to die?” Red asked.  “Like in bed during her twilight years.  When she’s, I don’t know, one hundred and ten or something?”  She was obviously grasping at straws but I was hoping the bitch would just say yes so her death would at least be quick.

 

Samantha shook her head.  She was frowning as if she were sad.  Whatever. I could feel my knees going weak and I willed myself to at least stay standing for what she was about to say.

 

“Olivia planned to use her as a sacrifice on her first birthday, which is why I am here,” she avoided eye contact with me.  Smart. “You’ve got to pay attention to Buffy. She’s easier to manipulate. Weaker than you.”

 

“Buffy wouldn’t let anything happen to the baby,” Ken said.  “She’s hyper-protective.”

 

“I realize this.  However Olivia will try to get in.  I do think that Buffy can defeat her but she will have to be conscious of Olivia’s attacks.” She offered.

 

I tried to find my voice.  “And if we make it? To her first birthday, I mean?” I took a deep breath.  “What happens then?” I was speaking barely above a whisper.

 

She refused to make eye contact with me.  “I… the prophecy it says that she will die at 18.”

 

I pounced across the space between us. Kennedy was trying to hold me back. Unfortunately for Samantha though, Red was still stunned by what she said.  I grabbed her and threw her down.  “Why the fuck did you do this?!?  Did any of you even stop to consider the consequences?!?  It won’t happen.  It won’t. I’ll kill every fucking one of you until you figure it out, but I swear to god, it won’t happen.” My voice was cracking and I couldn’t breath. 

 

Red had overcome her stupor and put her hand on my shoulder.  “We’ll figure it out, Faith.  Prophecies are not always set in stone.”

 

Kennedy stood over Samantha who’d not stood.  “I hope she hurt you, you stupid witch.  Is that true? Is it fucking set in stone?”

 

Samantha looked away.  “It has been right thus far. She will die in a year or in eighteen.  I’m sorry.”

 

I grabbed her off the ground and picked her up in the air.  “I don’t fucking accept that!  Do you hear me?!?” 

 

Kennedy grabbed me.  “Put her down,” she whispered.

 

Red moved my hands from Samantha and I let her drop.  “We won’t stop looking,” Red said to her.

 

“I don’t think you should,” she replied.  “I’m just here to warn you.”

 

“Go back,” Red said.  “Go back and tell them that we know everything.  They’ve started something that we are going to finish.  We are about to draw lines here.  Olivia has messed with the wrong people.  What you have did… what you have did is not only immoral it is playing god.  None of you had any right. So all bets are off. You crossed that line when you started this.  We’ve fought stronger things than you and your goddess.  We will win.”

 

Samantha nodded sadly.  “I don’t doubt it. I’m afraid I won’t live long enough to see it though.  Once they find out I’ve betrayed them, she will have me killed.”

 

Red nodded at her. Her face faltered for a moment, but she quickly hid it.  I didn’t think Red was at the point of wanting her dead. I also didn’t want the bitch to even make it back to Olivia but Red wouldn’t hurt her.  And I doubted she would let me either.  “I’m going to let you go,” she said.  “Once you cross the barrier you’ll get your powers back. I don’t want to see you anywhere near here again.  I won’t be this forgiving next time.”

 

Samantha nodded.  She looked at me. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I should have never…”

 

I turned my back on her.  She was probably going to die. There wasn’t an ounce of sympathy in my body for her.  I wasn’t sure what that meant. But she chose to be a part of this and she chose to involve B and I.  And now we were going to spend the rest of our lives trying to protect the one person that didn’t deserve any of this shit.  

 

I felt my knees finally give and I hit the ground.  I didn’t see her cross the barrier and I didn’t see Red give her her powers back.  Ken wrapped her arms around me.  I felt sick and I couldn’t stop crying.

 

“It’s gonna be okay,” she said.  “I promise.” I could tell by her voice she didn’t believe herself.

 

“Why don’t we stay out here a few minutes?” Red said.  She crouched down beside me and put her arms around me as well. “We need to decide what to tell the rest of them.”

 

I nodded, sniveling.  I couldn’t speak. All I could do was cry. It’s not everyday someone tells you your child is going to die.  And it’s gonna be in a year or in eighteen years.  What was the fucking difference?  I just wanted to know how I could fix it.

 

We had to have been outside for ten minutes after Samantha left.  We probably looked pretty ridiculous but I couldn’t move. I was on my knees and I couldn’t stop crying. 

 

“What are we going to do?” Red asked Ken.

 

“I don’t know but we can’t just leave her out here.  I’ve never seen her like this.” They were at that stage of talking about me like I wasn’t even there.  For that matter, I didn’t feel like I was.

 

“Oh my god!” I heard suddenly.

 

“Buffy!” Red yelled.

 

“What’s going on?!? Faith?!?  What’s going on?!?” Her voice was hysterical.

 

I sat up and tried to look at her. She fell down on her knees and wrapped her arms around me. “What’s wrong? Faith?” She pulled me closer. “Will, what is it?” She was rocking me.

 

I’m not sure what Red said to her.  I really don’t remember.  I just remember thinking ‘she’s never held me like this.’  She was sitting up on her knees and was holding me against her.

 

“Faith, baby. It’s okay.  I promise.  We’ll figure it out.  We always do.” She whispered above me.  “I promise.” She was just whispering now.  Trying to calm me down. I wrapped my arms around her and she kissed the top of my head.  “Do you want to go inside?”

 

I shook my head.  No, I couldn’t. Not right now. I couldn’t even walk. I kept shaking my head. I didn’t want to move yet.

 

“Okay. It’s okay.  We’ll stay out here for a while.  Okay?” She asked me. “Will you two go inside? Make sure Joy is okay?”

 

“No problem,” Ken said.  Her voice was strained. I knew I was supposed to be the strong one.  I knew I was freaking her out. I was fucking freaking myself out. She put her hand on my shoulder as she stood.  “Take your time.”

 

I heard her and Red move.  Buffy didn’t say anything else.  She just rocked me. No one but Angel had ever held me like that.  And that day… that day was bad.  I knew that. But today, today was the worst fucking day of my life.  I felt myself spinning out of control.  And I probably would have just gone completely over the fucking edge but B never let go.

 

She wouldn’t let go.  It wasn’t everything. But it was enough. Enough for today. Because even after all the bad shit I just learned, I also learned something else.  Something that I never wanted to believe. 

 

I didn’t always have to be the strong one.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 22

 

Everyone probably has experienced the pain of waiting.  Live long enough, and you can be certain that at some point you are forced to be in a position where your hands are metaphorically tied and there is nothing at all you can do but wait.  As slayers, the shoe was always about to drop or as Kennedy like to say, ‘hit us upside the head.’  Defeat one enemy and five more were plotting to take their place. There was never a timetable, never a deadline. They would often take their sweet ass time plotting our deaths. No matter how much we wished there could be like a good/evil mediator and a boardroom with all parties present to discuss the next upcoming apocalypse, we never got that wish. (Except possibly Angel and his firm of misfits.  I was never really sure what the hell they did with their time.) So we waited. And that was okay normally. It meant downtime. Though we had to be alert at least we could also relax and pretend to be somewhat human.

 

Things were different now though.  We had a timetable.  Two actually. We had to defeat the Order of Ate before Joy’s first birthday and then we had seventeen years to figure out how to overthrow an unknown fucking force of whatever to keep her alive. The second deadline was a mindbender. Her death (according to Samantha) was supposed to usher in this millennium of peace or whatever. You’d have to forgive me if I didn’t really believe that that could happen.  I was well aware of the fact that humans are well… human and that peace was not something they often strove to achieve.

 

So the waiting… yeah, it becomes like this awful cloud that just sort of hung over everyone’s head.  And we never knew enough. We had to forego the other prophecy, the one that was years away, for the immediate danger.  Seventeen years is a long time.  A long time according to Red and Giles, for us to research, for us to find solutions, to stop what is never, according to them anyway, the inevitable.  None of that was fucking comforting, mind you, but like I said, there was always another shoe. And the one hurtling at lightening speed toward our heads at the moment was Olivia.

 

The day Samantha told us what was to come things definitely changed. The news added a sort of weird unsettling urgency to the castle.  I imagined that my freak out in the front lawn had most likely added to it, but I hadn’t really bothered to care.  Having a child does, if nothing else, realign certain priorities.  I figured I didn’t have to be a hard ass all the time. Especially since I was melting into a puddle of emotion in front of three people I would normally never even shed a tear in front of.  That shit had been happening a lot to me lately.  And I may be thick skulled occasionally, but I wasn’t stupid.

 

Red and Giles, and the rest of the Research Rangers went straight for the books. They read and they read and they read. The shitty part of all of this was that there were still other evil fucking things roaming all around that needed someone’s goddamn attention.  So slayers came and they went.  And we slayed. It was like clocking in at some damn office everyday except instead of a laptop in front of us there was usually a weapon. 

 

One of the most disturbing revelations besides the fact that we would be fighting for Joy’s life was the fact that Samantha was pretty certain that Buffy could be manipulated by Olivia.  The last thing we fucking needed was B just hand-delivering the baby over like some goddamn UPS package.  So on top of researching, and slaying, and taking care of young slayers, we had to monitor her at all times.  Someone had to be with her if she was with the baby.  She understood that I guess, but she sure the fuck wasn’t happy about it.

 


 

“Faith, baby, I love you exponentially, but holy crap you’re driving me batty,” she stated, leaning over the bathtub.  “I can’t even take a bath without you being in here with me.  And I can get out by myself now.”

 

I nodded and shrugged at her.  We’d been through this at least twelve dozen times.  My standard response became that nod and shrug whenever she complained. There wasn’t shit she could do about it. Or shit I could do about it either.

 

She leaned back and closed her eyes.  We had one of the bigger rooms in the castle and our tub was fucking huge. When she was stressed out or I was bugging the shit out of her, she’d use it for an escape. To be fair to her here, it probably wasn’t much of one though because I clung to her like psycho girlfriend glue. Or more precisely psycho mom glue. Same difference.

 

“Don’t you get tired of just watching me all the time?” She groaned.  “I mean seriously you’ve got to want to just get out and go… I don’t know, do whatever it is that you used to do every once in a while.”

 

I bounced the baby on my knee.  She would be six months old next week.  Six months of researching and nothing.  We were all so tense it was becoming almost comical.  “I’m good,” I said.  I blew the baby a raspberry. She smiled at me.

 

She’d been doing that a lot lately, the smiling I mean.  I’d look at her funny or make some sound and she’d break into the widest grin you’d ever seen.  It was close to the most adorable thing on the planet.  And yes, I did just use the word adorable.  I told you I fucking changed.

 

“I realize you’re good,” she sighed.  “You’re always good. Or you’re always nodding. Or whatever.  But… I’m not going to break or go crazy or hurt the baby. Take the baby with you. I’m good with that.”

 

I shook my head.  If I picked Joy up and kissed her between her shoulder and her neck she’d make this little squeal. It was probably as adorable as the smile.  I’d blow on her neck and she’d coo and giggle.  Holy hell, no one had told me that babies giggled.  I couldn’t freaking believe how much I loved her.

 

“Faith?!?” B pouted.  “Are you even listening to me?”

 

“Mmm Hmm,” I nodded, still making faces at the Joy.  She had B’s eyes.  Or a version of them at least.  They were green but they were lighter than Buffy’s.  They sort of hovered between green and blue.  It was weird.  I sort of bet that if we put her in something blue they would turn even bluer but B and Red threw a fit cause she was a girl and people would think she was a boy. Blah blah blah. Not like we took her for a night on the damn town or anything but whatever.

 

The rest of her was me though.  Ha! You sort of had the love the irony of that, didn’t you?  I knew I was hot and all, again not stupid, but come on, seeing my dimples on her tiny little cheeks was a whole different kind of awesome.  She was that age where she would follow you with her eyes when you talked and every noise I made would make her open her eyes and follow me like I was the most interesting woman on the planet. 

 

B let the water out of the bathtub with her toe.  She still hadn’t moved.  “You are so not listening to me.”

 

I looked at her.  She was staring at me with that Buffy look of you are an idiot why do I bother she often gives me when I’m not paying attention.  “I heard everything you said.”

 

“So can I?”

 

Could she what? I had no fucking idea what she said. “Sure,” I mumbled.

 

“Really?” She smirked. “So you’ll let me go have dinner with Will and Xander tonight? Oh my god,” she hopped out of the bathtub.  “Thank you, baby!”

 

What? “What?  I didn’t say that.  You are going anywhere without me, twinkie.  You know better.” I looked at the baby.  “Your mommy is C-R-A-Z-Y.”

 

“Ugh,” she moaned.  “You suck. I knew you weren’t listening. And why do you spell things to her?  I can spell. She can’t.  You’ve got that completely backwards.” She was drying off. Okay, so the nudity had my attention. Even when I was holding the baby. She noticed.  “Please?” She asked, best pout.

 

I shook my head.  “Nope. Good try though. Points for effort and all.”

 

She threw the towel at me.  I dodged it. She was insane. I was holding the baby for god’s sake. “Why am I asking your permission anyway? I’m a grown woman.”

 

I shrugged and nodded.  Standard procedure. “You’re on lockdown till her,” I motioned with my head at Joy, “first birthday.  You know the drill.”

 

“I won’t be alone, Faith.  They’ll be with me.” She started getting dressed. Ah, I wished she wouldn’t do that. “Nothing is gonna happen.”

 

“I know that. Because you aren’t going anywhere without me.  Sorry.  Unless Red has figured out the whole brainwashing shit, you are outta luck.”

 

She held her hands out for the baby.  “Give me the baby,” she said playfully.

 

I turned away from her.  “Nope she’s mine. You’re donor mom. Like you know… food bitch and shit.”

 

She smacked my arm.  Holy god, even when she was kidding that shit hurt.  “You are a dork. With a nasty mouth. If our baby’s first words are bitch or… the f word, I’m gonna maim you.”

 

I walked out of the bathroom.  “That’s why she has you. You’re also moral bitch. You’ll teach her right from wrong and I’ll like kick everybody’s ass that tries to fuck with her.”

 

“Ughhhh!” She yelled from the bathroom.  “You are ridiculous.”

 

I laid the baby on the bed and changed her diaper while B was getting dressed. She was playing with her feet. The baby, I mean, not Buffy. I didn’t know what the hell Buffy was doing. 

 

She came out of the bathroom still towel drying her hair.  “How about this?  How about you and I go out?  Just the two of us? Like a date.” She smiled sexily at me.

 

I raised my eyebrow at her.  “A date? Aren’t we passed that?”

 

“When did we ever do that?  I came back, had a baby, and now we are like two old married people.  Except you are like the jailor I am married to. And I’m a helpless prisoner. Or hostage.  What would you be if I were your hostage?” She sat down next to the baby and tickled her belly.  I’d left her clothes off after I changed her diaper.  “Unless we used handcuffs.  That could be fun.  Handcuffs, right?”

 

Jesus god. We’d had this talk before. She wasn’t supposed to talk about sex around the baby.  It left me conflicted. On one hand, I wanted to throw her on the bed and do things to her that would embarrass a porn star. On the other, I was entirely too whigged out to think about it cause… baby.  I mean our kid was just lying there soaking all this shit up.

 

“B,” I sighed and sat down on the other side of the baby.  “Do we have to go over this again?  You know you can’t talk about stuff like this in front of her? It freaks me out.”

 

She giggled. “But you can curse like a possessed sailor?  That is completely not fair.”  I shrugged. “Seriously, baby. Why don’t we go out? We never go out. Just one night. We can let Will and Kennedy keep the baby in their room.  You know they’d protect her with their lives.” She leaned over and kissed me. “Pwease,” she said in her baby voice. She bent down and kissed the baby. “Tell your momma that we need a break and you want to stay with Auntie Willow, don’t you?”

 

The baby giggled softly in response.  Little freaking traitor.  “I don’t know about that B.  We’ve never been away from her overnight.”

 

She rolled her eyes.  “She’ll be in the next room, Faith.  Come on? Please?  For me?”

 

She was batting her eyelashes at me.  I fucking hated when she did that.  We’d never left the baby.  I mean we’d gone like outside and shit without her but not for dinner.  And not overnight.  Not just to go… have fun and shit.  I looked down at Joy. She was still playing with her toes. Completely freaking ignoring the fact I was having a moral meltdown. 

 

Before I could answer her, with a big fat hell no,  I heard a knock on the door.  “Can we come in?” Will asked from outside.

 

“Yeah,” we both answered.

 

“News?” I said, when she and Ken walked in.

 

She shook her head.  “None at the moment. We’re still looking. I think I may have read every book in that library.  Twice. And possibly I made it to the end of the Internet.  Seriously… there was a sign that said, you have nowhere else to go.” She frowned. “Sorry.”

 

Buffy sighed. “We just keep looking, I guess.”

 

“We my ass,” K said.  “You two are up here taking baths and stuff.  I’m gonna need glasses before long.  I wasn’t made to read boring books.  I think I’m accidentally learning Gaelic.  I don’t like it.” She reached down and swooped up the baby.  “How’s my favorite brunette?” She asked her. 

 

“Fine.” Joy said.  Okay, just kidding, she couldn’t talk.  I still get bored. Sue me.

 

“Your favorite brunette has a question for you.” B told her.

 

Ken looked at her.  “Oh really. What is that?  Why am I the hottest chick in the castle?”

 

Buffy chuckled. “Well, yeah, that of course,” what the fuck.  I rolled my eyes at Red like I did every time they did this.  I often had the desire to knock their flirting heads together. “But also, Faith and I were thinking about going out tonight.  We thought maybe the Joy could stay in your room?”  She asked in her I’m so hot and sweet voice that melted Kennedy’s cold steel heart.

 

“Really?” Red squealed.  “We’d love to!”

 

Son of a bitch. Kennedy would probably feed her ice cream or some bullshit. 

 

“Oh we are gonna eat chocolate,” Ken said. 

 

“Holy shit. We aren’t goin anywhere.”

 

Buffy smacked my arm.  “She’s kidding.” She turned to Ken.  “Right?”

 

“Give me the mini’s stuff and go out and have a good time.  It’s been so long since you’ve been out, you do know what that is, don’t you?  A good time? Where you go eat or dance or you know do other stuff?” She wiggled her eyebrow at me.

 

I couldn’t hit her because she was holding my baby. 

 

“Oh,” Buffy said, jumping up. “Do you have handcuffs?”

 

“What the hell, B?” I yelled. 

 

“Haha!” Ken said.  “It never ceases to amaze me that you are the prude in this relationship.  It seems so bass ackwards.  Buffy’s all ‘handcuffs and horny’ and you’re all ‘diapers and porch swings.’”

 

I really didn’t understand her mind sometimes.  She honestly could confuse the shit out of me in about five seconds. However, I didn’t miss the fact she just called me a grandma.  “Did you call me a grandmother, just now?”

 

“No, Faith. My grandmother gets more action that you.” Ken laughed.

 

“You possibly should never put her down,” I told her.  “I’m gonna have to kill you when you do.”

 

“You gonna beat me with your cane?” She said.

 

“Ugh,” I mouthed, ignoring the fact they were laughing at me.  I couldn’t help it.  It wasn’t like I didn’t want to spend alone time with Buffy. I did.  I mean, hello, I wasn’t dead for god’s sake. Did I mention she was naked earlier? You couldn’t imagine the things I wanted to do to her.  Or actually, I’d rather you’d not.  But… I mean we didn’t get a whole lot of alone time and when we did, well we were tired.

 

“I think it’s great,” Red said.  “We could all use a break.” She moved around the room helping B gather the baby’s things. They actually had a baby bed in their room if we ever needed it.  We’d just never taken advantage of it because I didn’t like letting her out of my sight long enough for her to actually sleep in someone else’s fucking room.

 

“I’m not gonna get any sleep tonight,” I muttered, still pouting.

 

“Oh my god, I so hope not,” B giggled. 

 

The other two joined in.  Then the baby giggled. I felt like the whole damn castle was against me.

 

After several hours of B’s version of just throwing something on, and me holding the baby like I’d never see her again, she was finally ready to go. Don’t get me wrong here. I spent some time getting ready myself. I wanted to look good for her. But Buffy was like a girlie girl. And she hadn’t had really had a break in like forever.  

 

“You ready?” I heard her call from the bathroom.

 

I was about to mumble I guess, when she walked out.  And holy shit.  Yeah. So… sometime I forgot how fucking hot she was.  I guess I was staring at her like a moron, cause she crinkled up her nose at me.

 

“What?” She asked.  “Do I look stupid?”

 

Uh no. Not stupid.  I shook my head dumbly.  She had on a red skirt, kind of, I don’t know pleated or something. And these fucking boots that came past her knees.  Her top was simple. Just a white shirt and a black jacket, but did I mention the fucking boots?  Where the hell did she get those?  Why didn’t I know she fucking owned them?  She was looking at me unsurely.  Why couldn’t I talk? “Uh… yeah… wow.  I… you look nice.” Nice?  Seriously. Work brain.  Damn.

 

She walked over and took Joy from me.  “Just nice?” she pouted. 

 

I stood up. “No.  Way better than nice.  I just…I…”

 

“Holy shit!” Ken whistled from the hallway.  “You look hot,” she looked at me.  Yes, you ass, my girlfriend was hot.  She took the baby from B.  “Okay, you two have fun.” She smiled at me.  “Haha! You’ve gotta breathe, dumbass,” she whispered.  “Kiss your baby good-bye,” she said, holding her up to me.

 

I kissed her. “Love you,” I said.

 

“Love you too,” Ken replied.  Ever the smart ass.

 


 

So the restaurant was nice.  I think at some point we ordered food.  I wasn’t sure though.

 

Buffy was rambling.  She was cute when she rambled.  “Do you know how annoying it is that I have to pump to drink wine?  I mean I know Joy can’t drink wine and stuff but pumping has got to be the most boring damn thing I do,” okay so she was cussing, which meant she was drunk.  “Are you listening to me? Do you ever listen to me? I feel like you’re just staring at me thinking that B is still talking.  Does she ever shut up? Let me follow her to the bathroom and see if she’s still talking?”

 

“Uh-huh,” I muttered.  I wasn’t drinking. Someone had to drive. And be sober if something happened. I checked my phone. No messages.

 

“Oh my god! Are you checking your phone again?” She asked, reaching across the table. “She is fine, Faith. Wills is completely component and Kennedy… well, she’s there too.”

 

“I know; I can’t help it I worry.  Is it weird that I’m the worrier?”

 

She smiled. “Nah.  It’s cute.  I like the sweet Faith.  And the…” she leaned across the table,”…naughty one too,” she whispered in my ear.

 

Holy hell. When she did stuff like that well… number one I could totally see down her shirt.  That normally turned me into a fifteen-year-old boy.  But, number two… she knew whispering in my ear was like the ultimate fucking turn on. 

 

She sat back down.  “So, you gonna relax?”

 

I nodded at her.  “Maybe,” I teased.

 

She stuck her bottom lip out.  “Maybe? What can I do to help?  I don’t like it when you’re all… tense,” she purred.

 

B had this voice.  I liked to think of it as her sex voice.  Creative, I know. But when she purred like that, it sorta set my body on fire.  I could feel myself “relaxing” now. 

 

I decided to milk it.  What the hell? We didn’t get out much or at all for that matter.  “So, why don’t you tell me how you could help with that?”

 

She laughed. “Why do I always have to be the one to say it?”

 

I quirked my eyebrow at her.  “Cause you’re hot when you talk dirty.” 

 

“Well… first I’d…” and then my fucking phone vibrated right off the goddamn table. Son of a bitch.

 

B bent over to pick it up and answered it.  “Hello.” She listened for a minute. “Yeah,” her face registered something. She went from smiling at me to looking fucking terrified.  “No. No.  Is she okay?!? No. No. It’s okay. We’ll be right there,” her voice rose in a panic.  She hung the phone up and jumped up.  “That was Kennedy. We’ve got to get back to the castle. Five minutes ago, she said.” Her voice was cracking.

 

“What is it?!?”

 

“I don’t know. She just said they got a message from Olivia.” She started crying. 

 

“Joy?!?” I asked.  Fuck a duck. I knew we shouldn’t have left. What the fuck was wrong with me? Goddamn it.

 

“No, no. She’s fine.  She just said Will said we needed to come back. Now.”  She grabbed my hand and pulled me up. 

 

I let go of her hand.  “Wait. My phone,” I said, turning around to get it. 

 

And then I heard the audible gasp of almost everyone in the restaurant. I spun around quickly and saw B shuddering on the floor in front of me. 

 

“She’s having a seizure,” someone said.  There was a woman running to her. 

 

“No!” I screamed.  I didn’t want her to touch Buffy.  I was afraid of what B would do to her. “Don’t touch her!”

 

I ran to B and grabbed her.  She was shaking violently. I thrust my phone at the woman in front of me.  “Dial the last number that called. Tell them Buffy is having a seizure. Ask them what I’m supposed to do.” I was crying.  She nodded at me and dialed the phone.

 

I held B for ten minutes.  She hadn’t stopped shaking.  The manager was begging me to call someone, some emergency people, to come help. I told him it wouldn’t do any good. They were all watching me like I was a cross between a maniac and a sadist.  At this point, they weren’t that far off.

 

Xander and Giles ran in then. 

 

“It’s okay,” Xander announced to the crowd.  “He’s her doctor!” He shrugged at me.

 

“Uh, yes,” Giles said, clearly shaken.  “Can you help me get her to the car?”

 

I didn’t have a fucking choice.  I picked her up like a baby.  Second audible gasp of the night.  I guess it wasn’t every freaking day these people saw a chick carrying another chick out of a restaurant.

 

“We need to get out of here before they call the police,” Xander said.

 

Giles nodded. “She’s been out the whole time?”

 

I was crying. “Yes.  I couldn’t stop it.  I let her out of my sight for a second.” We got in the car.  “Is the baby okay?”

 

“She’s fine,” Xander said, patting my shoulder.

 

“What did Olivia say?”

 

Giles and Xander shared a glance with each other.  “She contacted Willow,” Giles answered.  “Magically.  She told her it was time.  Nothing more. We weren’t sure what she meant.” He glanced at Buffy.  “I suppose we know now.”

 


 

I didn’t say anything else as we drove back to the castle.  B had finally settled down but she was still out. I rubbed her head and held her to me. I knew she’d wake up soon. She’d always woken up. I was just afraid of what she would wake up as. 

 

I hadn’t wanted Samantha to be right.  I didn’t want to believe her.  But what if she was? What if B woke up different? What if she woke up with the intentions of hurting Joy?  Of giving her to Olivia? What would I do?

 

And more importantly, could I do it?

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 23

 

The restaurant was only about seven miles from the castle.  Xander was driving at what I would normally consider breakneck speed (especially considering the one-eye thing) but I would feel safer when we were back at the castle and I could at least get B inside.

 

She hadn’t moved at all.  I laid her down on the seat next to me and tried not touching her, hoping that that would at least wake her up. I couldn’t tell you how fucking hard that was.  Not touching her.  She always looked so small to me when she had these ‘episodes.’ Like a little girl. I mean I knew she wasn’t helpless. Even asleep she could put someone in a coma, but it was still a mindfuck that she was the strongest person I knew.

 

But she hadn’t moved.  She lay in the exact same position I had put her in.  I couldn’t not hold her.  I wanted to just pull her to me and close my eyes and wake up from this awful fucking nightmare. So I tried to let her come round on her own, but there was really no change. What else could I do? I picked her back up and held her.  At least one of us felt safer that way.  

 

“No change?” Giles asked from the front seat.  He turned around to face me and smiled sadly. I guess this shit was really taking a toil on him too.  I noticed he had dark circles under his eyes.  He’d been researching constantly.  Now that I thought about it, everyone had.  Everyone also had those bags under their eyes.  Everyone was tired.

 

I shook my head at him. 

 

I held B against me and stared out the window.  I wondered why the fuck shit couldn’t just be simple for once.  I wasn’t asking for a damn miracle. I didn’t want to win the lottery or meet George Lucas.  I just wanted fucking things to be less than screwed up.  I wanted to worry about my daughter’s first steps and first words. I wanted to make love to my… what was B? My partner?  My girlfriend?  I wanted to marry her.  Holy shit. I couldn’t believe I thought that. But I did.  I just wanted things to be fucking normal. Just for once, I wanted normal. Not a white picket fence and two point five kids.  I prefer my kids to be whole and my fence to be electric (If I had to have one) cause people are fucked up, but you know just some normalcy. 

 

I couldn’t explain all the thoughts running through my head at that point.  I knew that we’d been warned about this.  About Olivia’s hold over Buffy, and no one could honestly say that it was my fault but…

 

…I turned around for a fucking second.  Just a goddamn instance to grab my stupid fucking phone.  So stupid. A fucking phone that I always forgot. Remember irony? Cause I didn’t.

 

Here’s where realism comes into play. I knew I couldn’t touch her twenty-four/seven.  I knew that this could have happened in the bathtub or while I was in the shower or while she was feeding the baby.  There was no way feasible I could have kept Olivia from getting to her, but I just felt so goddamn useless and guilty.  It was a fucking second…


 

“We’re here,” Xander said.  He rolled the damn car right in front of the front door like a damn racecar driver. Gravel flew up behind the back tire. Props, truthfully. I’d have to rethink the whole ‘can’t drive cause I’m half blind’ thing. 

 

Dawn and Red ran outside to meet us.  Their eyes were wide and had that whole look of urgency we wore like pajamas now. I started looking around frantically for the baby, B still in my arms.

 

“Kennedy has her,” Red told me. Apparently I was no longer mysterious. She put her hands on Buffy’s face.  “Has she been out the whole time?”

 

I nodded. “I let her go. After the seizure passed I tried not touching her, but nothing. She hasn’t moved.”  I moved passed them and went inside.  Andy was holding the door open for me. 

 

Ken was holding Joy when I walked in.  She had her arm around Joy’s stomach and was holding the baby facing away from her body. Joy was giggling. Ken wasn’t.  “You okay?”  She asked, bouncing the baby with her arms.

 

“Not yet,” I said.  I walked past them into the front room and laid B down on the couch.  I felt guilty for ignoring my baby.

 

Dawn ran up beside me and brushed Buffy’s hair out of her eyes.  “She hasn’t woken up at all?”

 

I shook my head.  “I turned my back…” I trailed off.  It wasn’t the right time for a fucking pity me party so I just shut up instead.

 

Red bent down beside Buffy and put her hands on the sides of her head. She closed her eyes and concentrated. She was mumbling some witchy bullshit.

 

Ken had the baby in the doorway.  She was still bouncing her.  I noticed that she hadn’t walked all the way in the room.  The reason why hit me like a fucking truck.  She was scared of what B could do to Joy.  I couldn’t believe the fuckedupness of all of this.

 

Red stood up. “She’s not there. It’s like before, when she isolated herself.  She’s done that again.” She shook her head.  “It means she thinks she needs to disappear, you know that right?” So there was no beating around the bush then.  B was hiding. On purpose. Great.

 

“What am I supposed to do?” I asked her.  I was kneeling beside Buffy still.  I didn’t want to be too far from her.  For several reasons… some a little more painful than others.  “We gonna share another dream?  I gotta wait till I go to sleep?” I turned to Red. “Can you send her into my head?” I remembered that scary ass house we were in last time.  Things just kept getting fucking better.

 

Red shook her head.  “I can only send you there,” she hesitated.  “But, she can send you back when she wants.” She put her hand on my shoulder. “It’s up to you. We can wait around till she wakes up and see what we’re dealing with.  Or you can go get her.”

 

I nodded. “Knock me out,” I whispered.

 

Red frowned. “I don’t need much. You’ll probably want to be lying down though.”

 

I walked over to the couch on the opposite side of the room.  Ken brought Joy over to me and I kissed the side of her head. “Don’t let her near her until I’m awake.” I hated I had to say that shit out loud.

 

“I won’t. I love her too, you know.” Kennedy said. “The baby, I mean.  In case you were planning on killing me when you got back.”

 

I smiled at her.  “I know. Thanks.”

 

“No prob. Why I’m still the awesome aunt and all.”

 

I nodded at Red and gave her the thumbs up.  The rest of the guys were watching and generally trying to figure out what the fuck they were supposed to do.  Everyone was nervous.  “See you in a few,” I said to no one in particular.  I wasn’t looking forward to another goddamn mind trip.  Just saying…

 


 

…I was standing in the same room I’d seen B in last time. Fan fuckin tastic. At least it was daylight though.  The sun was spilling through the window.  Buffy wasn’t anywhere to be seen.  “B?” I called out.  No answer.

 

The first thing I noticed besides the room was that I was barefoot. So yeah, B was definitely controlling this.  No way I’d go without shoes in this rickety-ass house, even if it wasn’t real. That also meant that she knew I was here.  “Buffy,” I said louder. “You’ve gotta tell me where you are.  I’m a little nervous here.”

 

“When are you not nervous?” She asked.  Or at least, I thought she did.  I had no idea where the fuck she was, but I could hear her.  Sort of like I figured I could hear God if I’d gone all mental and he was talking in a floaty disconnected voice inside a creepy ass funhouse.

 

“Umm, Buffy that shit is freaky.  Where are you?” I turned around.  Nothing.

 

When she didn’t answer me, I walked over to the window and looked outside. The house was still in the middle of an abandoned field.  I opened it and stuck my head out.  To the right of the house was a swing.  Like an old porch swing, but just sort of sitting there in the middle of the damn yard.  And Buffy, or another blonde girl (one I hoped wasn’t gonna suck my face off) was sitting in it with her back to me.

 

I decided against calling out to her.  She knew I was fucking here.  I walked outside of the room, with all intentions of finding the damn staircase and getting outside when all of a sudden the sun blinded me. Freaky ass dream houses. Fuck.  One minute I’m on the second floor of some house and the next I’m standing right outside the front door.  I hated these damn shared dreams.

 

I walked over to the swing.  She hadn’t acknowledged me. I knew it was her. I could tell by the back of her head. I was that observant of all things Buffy.  Holy shit, that was kind of sad.

 

I decided to wait and see if she would acknowledge me first.  I was beginning to think she wanted us to just stay in this fucked up weird ass world forever when she finally spoke.  “You went to sleep fast.” She said quietly without turning around.

 

I moved around the side of the swing and sat beside her.  She was staring straight in front of her so I decided to do the same.  Wasn’t shit out there to see though.  But whatever. “Red sorta helped,” I replied.

 

She started rocking the swing a bit. Back and forth with the one foot that wasn’t tucked underneath her.  She still hadn’t looked at me. “I know.” She sighed. “You ever wonder why us?”

 

“What do you mean?” I knew this was gonna be a waiting game.  Deciphering Buffyspeak and trying to figure out what the fuck I was supposed to do was gonna take a while.

 

“Just, why us? Why were we called? What made us special? It’s like winning the lottery. Except it’s not. It’s nothing like that really.” She wouldn’t look at me.

 

I shrugged. “Beats me, babe. Calling and all.”

 

“We did a bad thing.”  She turned her head completely away from me then.  “A terrible thing.  Some things shouldn’t be done.  It isn’t fair to the rest of them.”

 

And… Buffyspeak.  Damn. “What did we do, B?” I wanted to touch her.  I settled for just sitting back some and closing my eyes.  The swinging was making me sorta dizzy and I swear there was a tree in the field that wasn’t there a moment earlier.

 

“It’s too late to play stupid, F.” She sighed.  I just wished she’d look at me.  No dice. “Why do you do that? You aren’t stupid at all. Except about me. I make you do the wrong thing. I made you go to the mayor. I could’ve stopped that. All I had to do was just tell you it would be okay.  But I didn’t. I watched you fall. When you told Giles that it was me. Do you remember that?” She didn’t wait for me to answer.  “That I’d killed Finch. I went home that night.  Just like every other night.  But it wasn’t. It wasn’t the same night. That night was different because I cried.  I cried because I didn’t even have you and I lost you.  But that was right.  It was supposed to be. People like us, we’re meant to be together but not really.  We’re also meant to be apart.”

 

I tried really hard to process what she was saying. I mean I got the gist of it sure, but I wasn’t sure why she was saying it.  It wasn’t shit I didn’t already know that was for sure.  Her voice was clipped.  It bordered on bored one second and strained the next. “I don’t believe that, B.” I whispered.

 

She shrugged. “Doesn’t matter. It’s done now. We had a baby. One that has to die. But everyone dies, right? You, me, my mom. Everyone will die. I already died. I should’ve really stayed dead. That would’ve been better.”

 

“I kinda have to disagree with that Buffy. I sorta like you both alive.”

 

She turned around and smiled sadly at me.  She put her hand on my cheek for a moment before letting it fall in her lap and turning back towards the field.  “What a cost that was.  I will give her to Olivia when I wake up.” My stomach clenched at the lack of emotion in her voice. “I don’t want to. But I will.  I can’t fight her.”

 

“You’ve fucking fought every goddamn thing on this planet,” I growled. I was getting angry at this point. “All of a fucking sudden you can’t fight the one thing that matters most.” I wanted so bad to jerk her and shake her senseless but I knew it would be pointless here. “Wanna explain that shit to me? Because I’m having a bit of hard time trying to figure it the fuck out.”

 

“It’s been a good six months.  Considering, I mean. I’ve been a good mom?” She asked me, finally holding my gaze.

 

What the fuck? Why would she ask that?  “What do you mean, you have been a good mom? Are you not a mom anymore? That’s stupid.”

 

“No. I’ll always be that. She’ll know that, won’t she? That I was good?” She sounded like she was crying but there weren’t any tears. 

 

I didn’t like what she was saying.  I knew what she was implying but there was no goddamn way in hell I was gonna let her take a cheap fucking exit.  “So what, B? You give up? Just give in? And leave me here to fix it?  How the fuck fair is that?” I was crying too.  I wasn’t sure if I was scared or mad.  Most likely, both. Difference was, I knew I had tears.

 

“Nothing’s ever fair, Faith.  You of all people should know that,” she sighed.  She ran her fingers through her hair.  “Going back will create things we can’t control.”  And we’re back to crypto speak.

 

“What does that mean, Buffy?  You’ve just got to tell me what to do.  And if it’s going back without you or letting you die or something equally nonsensical you can just rethink it.  I’m not fucking with you here.  You are not going to just give up.  It is what it is now. We’ve gotta deal with it. Both of us.  She needs both of us.  You’re her mother.”

 

“So are you,” she whispered.  “Sometimes, when you’re both asleep, I watch you.  You’re pretty when you sleep.  So is she. She smiles in her sleep. So do you.”

 

I put my hand on her knee.  I was trying to be careful in case she pulled away.  She didn’t. Instead she leaned into me and put her back against me.  I pulled her closer. “I want you to wake up. To come back.”

 

“I know. I want to.  But what if I don’t trust myself?” She asked me.

 

“Do you?”

 

“There’s a storm coming soon.  You have to go back,” she completely didn’t answer me.

 

I looked over her head at the sky.  It was getting darker by the second.  “What the hell, Buffy?  Why can’t your dream place be like a fucking beach or something?” I noticed the tree that I saw earlier. I swore that fucker was closer. “And what’s up with that damn tree? It’s moving.  Dream us to Disneyworld or something.”

 

She chuckled softly.  “Storms mean a lot of thing.”

 

Well that meant a whole lot of nothing to me.  “They usually mean you get wet.”

 

“If by wet you mean clean…then I agree.  If you by wet you mean you know… well then you have a dirty mind inside of my… mind. That’s weird.” She turned around and scrunched her nose up at me.  “You’ve got to go before it rains.”

 

“Well,” I said, kissing her nose.  “I’m not leaving.”

 

“Joy needs you. I need to stay here until everything’s okay.” She turned around and leaned back into me again.

 

“Joy is fine with Kennedy.  Well, that’s not exactly true probably.  Ken’s been trying to teach her how to have ‘swag.’  She said we should get her more shirts with collars so she can ‘pop’ them. I think I’ve spent too much time in Scotland cause I don’t even know what the hell that means.” I hugged her to me. “So, I’m not leaving until you come with.  Our daughter will be a little freak when we get back, but I’ll let you take responsibility for that.”

 

“Oh my god, she’s a girl.  If you put a polo shirt on her, we are done.”

 

I laughed. “Well then you have to come back.”

 

She sat up. “What if I come back wrong?”

 

The storm she’d called up with her freaky brain was receding somewhat. And the tree… gone. I sorta wished I hadn’t said anything about Disneyworld.  I was waiting for a giant ass Mickey Mouse to pop out of nowhere and scare me back to childhood. “You aren’t gonna come back wrong, baby. I won’t let you.”

 

“You know you can’t fix everything.” She turned and looked at me.  “What are you looking at?”

 

“This place scares me.” She frowned at me.  I shook my head.  “No, I know you feel safe here but it’s not real and well you tend to call up random shit.” Case in point – there were now two suns.  I nodded my head towards them.  “It’s okay though. I’m sure my dream mind wouldn’t be a walk in the park or anything.”

 

“Last time I was in your mind, we were in the bedroom.”

 

“Making a bed, right.  Not laying on it or anything. I should’ve rethought that one.” I smiled at her.  “So, tell me… you know what Olivia is planning?”

 

She nodded. “She wants to hurt Joy.”

 

Oh good god. Apparently dreamland made you want to state the fucking obvious.  “Right,” I decided to bite.  “Anything more specific than that?”

 

Buffy sighed. “She told me that she was a mistake. That allowing her to live would be detrimental to the world.  People would die.”

 

Mostly Olivia and her merry band of cronies, I thought.  “Well, yeah, she would say that being that she’s like…evil and shit.  But what else?”

She looked down.  “That trying to stop her would bring death and destruction.” Great – the old ominous death and destruction threat.  No one was creative. It was boring.

 

“Same ole same ole, Buffy.”

 

She shook her head.  “She said I had a responsibility.  That she wasn’t born to be alive.”

Well that made close to no sense.  Who’s not born to be alive?  Why are we back to damn Buffyspeak?  “That doesn’t make any sense, B.  She’s just fucking with your mind.”

 

“That’s not all.” She took a deep breath.  “She said she would be inside me.  Growing. That I would know she was there. That we couldn’t stop her. She’s been here the whole time. Inside my head. The only place I can escape her is here.”

 

I thought for a moment.  The fucking storm was coming back.  I didn’t like it. “Maybe she told you that to get you to stay here.  You know that you can’t. Stay here I mean. We can’t keep you alive for six months while you’re living in creepo house over there.  And you can’t protect Joy if you’re,” I motioned with my arm, “here.  We are supposed to protect her together.  There were other stupid ass prophecies besides that one.  There’s a thousand prophecies.”

 

She nodded. “But if I stay here. You have a chance of defeating her. If I go back, she told me not only would Joy die but you would too.”

 

“Ugh,” I moaned.  “You can’t fucking believe her, B.  My god, she’s like so transparent she’s invisible.  It sounds to me like she’s grasping here.  I’m not gonna die.  And Joy sure the fuck isn’t going to.”

 

Buffy nodded and the storm moved back a little.  “I know all of that.  I just know that she’s gonna keep coming.  I don’t know how much more I can take.  How much of this can I take before I go crazy?”

 

“It’s a choice. Give into it.  Or fight it. But decide what’s important because I don’t know how long we’ve been here.  It feels like ten minutes but it could be ten damn days for all we know. Then Ken would have subverted our daughter.  She’ll be dressed in little popped collars and using stupid slang when we get back.”

 

Buffy giggled. “She can’t talk.”

 

“Are you going to come with me?” I asked her, standing up.  I took her hand.  “Because I don’t really like being away from you.” I pulled her to me and kissed her. I hadn’t really kissed her kissed her in forever.  And I wasn’t really kissing her now either.  Because she was fucking dreaming but whatever… she still had that little Buffy moan she had in the real world.  And her mouth was still warm.  And she still knew how to press against me just right.  I wrapped my arms around her and picked her up.  I forgot how much I loved to do that.  She moaned against my mouth again and pressed herself even closer to me. Her arms were around my neck and she leaned back.  I licked her neck and she moaned louder. And holy fuck… I pulled back.

 

“What is it?” She asked.

 

“We can’t do this. I’m lying across the damn room from you back at the castle.  I’m pretty sure if we start moaning or some shit, we are gonna embarrass ourselves and everyone else in that room.”

 

“Kennedy was right, you are totally a prude.” She smiled.

 

“Maybe. But my sex life shouldn’t be on display for Giles, Andy, and Xander.  I prefer a little mystery. But we could finish it… you know after Red and Giles and everyone else you’ve ever met grills you for like fifty days.”

 

She hopped down.  “You aren’t gonna let me out of your sight now, are you?”

 

“Nope,” I said. “Sorry.” I looked around. “But if we have to go on another mind vacation, please for the love of all that is holy, don’t pick this place.”

 

“Deal,” she said.  “I want you to… watch me. I don’t trust myself. Don’t let me hurt her. Don’t let me take her to that witch. Kill me if I try.”

 

“I’m not gonna kill you, B.  I may knock you into next year, but I won’t kill you.  So don’t make a dumbass request like that.”

 

She nodded. I could tell she wasn’t convinced that was good enough. 

 

And then there was a fucking door right in front of us.  Like a big ass oak door.  Right in the middle of the fucking field.  Seriously this was the creepiest ass place.

 

“Ready?” She asked.

 

“We gotta go through that door?” I asked not all convinced there wasn’t some big giant soul-sucking spider on the other side.

 

“Yep, that’s the way back to our baby,” she smiled, walking through.

 

Oh fuck, of course she’d say something like that.  And of course I followed her.  Because that’s what I do.  She’s my girl.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 24

 

I knew it was bad.  It was terrible to think it. I should trust B, I really should but… I was scared to death to walk through that freaking door. All I could imagine was the Wicked Witch of the West behind it cackling and riding on a broom with her band of fucking flying monkeys ready to strike me dead. So yeah… I watched a lot of TV while the baby was up at night.  We’ve established I get bored.

 

But like I said, I followed her.  And woke up at the castle.  I shouldn’t have doubted her.

 

I tried to sit up.  Xander was standing over me. “You okay, Disney princess?”

 

“What the hell?” I mumbled.

 

“You know,” he chuckled.  “Like Sleeping Beauty.”

 

I glared at him.  “Perfect. How’s Buffy?”

 

He glanced over to the other side of the room.  I followed his gaze.  The rest of the gang, minus Kennedy (and Joy), was leaning over her.

 

“Take a breath,” I heard Red say.  “You’ve been out for a couple of hours.”

 

I had told B. It didn’t feel like that long. At least it wasn’t a couple of months. And at least I didn’t feel like I was in that dream world a couple of hours.  We’d see who was crazy then.

 

“How do you feel?” Giles asked hesitantly.  I could tell he wanted to say more.  Most likely, ‘are you know crazy or an evil killer?’ etc.  He refrained. 

 

“I’m good,” she mumbled.  She looked over at me. “Okay?” She asked. Her voice was neutral.

 

“Yeah,” I said. I fucking hated I couldn’t trust her. I hated that Ken had to scoot out of here with our baby.  It was beyond screwed up that she had to protect her from her mother. I stood up on wobbly legs and walked over to her.  She was still sitting on the couch like she’d been given a dose of bad news. Her hands were lying by her side and she looked more than mildly stunned.

 

“Hey,” she said. 

 

Everyone was watching us.  I sat down beside her. “Your mind house scares the shit outta me.” I put my hand on her knee.  I didn’t want her to know it, but I was trying to get a read on her.

 

She shrugged nonchalantly.  “Where’s Joy?” She asked, looking around the room.

 

Everyone began hemming and hawing then.  They were all sorta looking around at each other.  She either didn’t seem to notice or didn’t care.

 

“Kennedy’s feeding her,” Dawn finally answered. 

 

Buffy nodded like that was sufficient.  “I’m not going to go insane,” she said to no one in particular. 

 

“Ah, well no one suggested…” Giles started.

 

“Please,” she said.  “You all are watching me like I’m about to stab you.”

 

Again, silence.

 

“Great,” she sighed.  “So you think I’m gonna stab you.  Perfect.” She turned to Red. “So you’ve gotta find some way to get us Olivia.  I’m not sure I can take being a suspect for the next six months.”  She looked at me.  “Go get the baby.”

 

“Umm Buff… you think that’s a good idea?” Xander asked.  “I mean… we trust you but… we just don’t want anything to well you know… “ He looked at me to help.

 

“Where is she?” I asked Red.

 

They exchanged glances.  Great. They were protecting her from me too. “Ummm…” Red muttered. She looked at Dawn and Xander for help.

 

They both shrugged.

 

“Oh what the fuck, Red?  Where the hell are they?” I was getting pissed off.

 

“In the kitchen.” Giles stated.

 

I left them in the room with B.  They were asking her what Olivia had told her and she was filling them in on everything. I hope she told them about that tree and shit.  I know that it didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things but… that was fucked up.

 


 

Ken was in the kitchen with Joy and a few of the younger slayers. They were making faces at her and laughing when she giggled.  She was eating something that looked suspiciously like vomit but was probably mashed pears or some shit.  When they saw me come in they all scooted.  I wasn’t sure why they were all so scared of me.  It could possibly be the permanent scowl I’d had on my face lately, but who knew for sure?

 

“Back from your mindtrip?” Ken said when I walked in.  She was wiping the baby’s face.

 

I nodded. “You really are like a weird kinda Mary Poppins, you know that?”

 

“I’m ignoring that because you’re a whore,” she smiled at me.  See… her brain is beyond me sometime.

 

“She okay?” I asked, nodding at the baby. 

 

Ken nodded back.  “She’s fine. I mean I did try to teach her how to smoke crack but she’s got a stalwart disposition, this one.” She finished cleaning Joy and picked her up out of the chair.  She handed her to me.

 

“How’s my girl?” I asked, nuzzling her nose.  She smiled at me.  Her eyes were heavy and I could tell she was tired.  She was still cooing though.  I held her against my chest and kissed the top of her head. 

 

“So, how’d it go?  I saw some of it, but…” She wiggled her eyebrow at me.

 

Oh fuck. I told B we shouldn’t have kissed like that.  “Please spare me.”

 

“There would be no fun in that, Faith.  Here’s the funny part… everyone ignored the fact you two were moaning like porn stars. Well, except me. But Will threw a pillow at my head if that makes you feel better.”

 

“Not really. Unless there was a brick inside it.” I could feel my face burning.  I brought the baby up to my face and kissed her cheeks.  She grabbed my hair and pulled it.  She fucking loved my hair.  She’d jerk the shit out of it.  “Ow!” I screamed. Ken pried her fingers out. “Damn she’s gotta grip on her,” I said.

 

“She’s the lovechild of two slayers.  I’m surprised she doesn’t rip it out.”

 

“Do you think that’s normal?” I asked her.  “Being this strong?”

 

She put her elbows on the table and bent down. “Well, let me see.  I’ll just compare it to all the extensive knowledge of infants I have, which is… fuck all.  How the hell am I supposed to know that?”

 

I threw an apple at her.  She caught it like a damn ninja.  If ninja’s caught shit. I wasn’t sure about that. “I just mean do you think she’s supposed to be able to pull my hair?  She really does have a grip…”

 

“Why don’t you consult you’re book about mini-slayers and their extra abilities? How bout if I throw something at her and see if she catches it.” She smirked at me.

 

“You’re an ass. If you throw something at her, I’m gonna throw you out the window.” I was rocking the baby back and forth. I looked down and she had already fallen asleep. She was probably the only one in the castle that could fall asleep that fast.  It must’ve been nice. “We need to go back in there,” I told Ken.

 

“So Buffy’s okay?” She asked.  She didn’t look convinced.  “Cause, I know you love and her and all, but you’ve got to think about the babe.”

 

“I think so…” I trailed off.

 

“While that was not convincing at all.” She rolled her eyes.

 

“I know. She said to watch her. When we were asleep I mean. She told me I had to make sure she didn’t do anything.  That Olivia would keep trying to get in.” I sighed.  “Is it wrong for me to complain about the whole being stretched incredibly thin thing here?”

 

Ken put her arm around me.  “Yeah, it kinda is.”

 

“You are the biggest ass I know.”

 

“Nah… I’m kidding.  Complain away. We’ll help when need be. That’s what we’re here for.” She took her arm off my shoulder and followed me out of the kitchen.  “Well, actually we just love Joy.  We tolerate your broody ass. Buffy’s hot though. But that’s probably just my observation.”

 

“Jesus,” I muttered.  I didn’t think she was kidding either.  Sad.

 


 

When we got back into the library, Giles and Red were frantically searching for something in a book.  They were always frantically searching for something.  The rest of the gang was reading as well, but not in a freaky rushed way. This was possibly due to the fact that the rest of the gang (including me) had no fucking clue what we were looking for most of the time

 

Joy was asleep in my arms.  Everyone stopped what they were doing when I walked in. 

 

“Did she eat?” Buffy asked.  She stood up and walked over to me.  I could tell she wanted to hold the baby but I… Jesus I was an ass.  I just couldn’t give her the baby.  I couldn’t. Was this gonna be our next six months?

 

I shifted her in my arms trying to make her and myself more comfortable. “Ken was feeding her. She got sleepy.” B reached for her. I pulled her to me. “She’s good,” I tried to make my voice light.

 

Buffy nodded but she looked like I had broken her heart.  Like honestly, her face fell the way it did when someone hurts her feelings. She used to be a lot better at hiding her emotions than she was now.  It made me feel like a heel.  But not enough to give her Joy.  And that was more fucked up than anything.

 

“Are you two hungry?” Andy asked, thankfully breaking the awkward stare she and I were holding.  “You were out for a few hours…” he trailed off.

 

Buffy shook her head and walked away.  “We ate at the restaurant,” she mumbled, picking up the book she was reading earlier. She moved to the complete opposite side of the room from the rest of us. 

 

I was torn. On one hand, I knew we had to be careful.  On the other though… well, I wasn’t stupid enough to think that I could fix this fucked up situation but we couldn’t have things getting more and more awkward for the next six months.

 

“Okay,” I said, moving to the middle of the room. “So there’s a gigantic pink elephant in here,” I started. 

 

Xander looked around terrified. “What?!?” He yelled like the biggest chick in the castle. Which in some ways, I guessed he was.

 

I rolled my eyes. “Not for real, dude.”

 

He let out an audible sigh of relief.

 

“Jesus,” Ken said, shaking her head.

 

“I meant the situation,” I continued.  “We obviously can’t have this shit hanging over our heads for the next six months.”

 

B hadn’t made eye contact with anyone.  She was either still reading or pretending to read. 

 

“B?” I asked. She was barely even moving except for the occasional turning of the page.

 

“Continue,” she muttered.  “I’m fine.” She said, in a voice that was so fucking far from fine it was funny.  Her entire body was tensed and she refused to look up. 

 

“Umm okay,” I faltered.

 

“So…” Kennedy said.  “We obviously are worried that Buffy is going to kill the baby.”  Well, that was one way to do it.

 

“No, we’re not.” Red said quickly, jumping up.  She turned to B.  “We really aren’t. We just don’t know what…” she stopped talking.

 

Why the hell was all of this so fucking awkward?  We were all sorta waiting for someone else to say something. No one was.

 

“Damn it!” B finally said.  “What?!? Do you think I’m going to hand deliver my child to her?!?” No one said anything. “Fucking answer me!”

 

Whoa, okay so that absolutely never happened.  She did not like to curse. 

 

“No one thinks that, Buffy,” Dawn tried.

 

“Really?” She sneered.  “Then give me the baby, Faith.”

 

I didn’t move.

 

“I said, give me the baby,” she said, stalking over to me. 

 

I backed up. “Baby, just calm down.”

 

“I’m not going to hurt her.” She yelled.

 

Joy jumped in my arms.  B was yelling pretty loudly and it startled her awake.  She started crying softly.  I bounced her trying to get her to go back to sleep.  “B, we just need to figure some things out,” I told her, still backing up.

 

She stared at me for a moment.  I could tell she was mad. I felt like shit. I shouldn’t have to choose. But B was faster than me. And stronger.  And the truth was, she was probably fine. I didn’t feel any evil vibe coming off of her.  I just… the risk was too great. And she was just mad.  I knew that.

 

“Tell me what good I’m dong here,” she said, making eye contact with all of us. “Because this is all starting to feel familiar.  And if you’re gonna throw me out, I’d rather you not wait.”

 

“No one’s gonna throw you out, Buffy,” Kennedy said.  Ken turned to me.  “Let her hold the baby, Faith.”

 

“Ken,” Red warned.  “Stay out of this.”

 

Kennedy shook her head and went and stood by B.  What the fuck?  When did they become bosom buddies? “No.  I won’t.” Ken turned to me.  “She’s her mother, Faith. And there’s twenty-five slayers in this house and a witch.  And it’s pretty fucking obvious we don’t trust her, so let’s find out.”

 

“Listen to your girlfriend,” I told her. And stay the fuck out of this. Had she gone mad? “Buffy, please, just let us figure this out.”

 

Buffy sighed, defeated. “Can I just kiss her?” She asked. 

 

Uh okay. “Umm… sure.”

 

She leaned up and kissed Joy’s forehead and ran her fingers over her face. I was still holding her. I almost relented, but… I couldn’t. She kissed her again and I noticed she was crying.  I started to say something but she stopped me. 

 

“Don’t. I just… I can’t leave because we don’t know what Olivia is planning and I can’t stay because I can’t ignore my daughter.  I don’t want to hurt her but you don’t believe me.  And I don’t blame you… but she’s my baby too… I love her as much as you do.” She was still crying. 

 

I started to hand the baby to Dawn but Ken put her arms around B instead. I wasn’t stupid. I knew that K loved Buffy because I loved her.  And because she was Red’s best friend.  It just seemed fucking freaky that she was the one comforting her while the rest of us were all standing around with our thumbs up our ass.  She led her over to the sofa and sat her down.  Buffy was crying into her shoulder.  Kennedy made eye contact with me.  It was the ‘you’re a fucking idiot’ look. I knew it well.

 

I walked over and kneeled in front of Buffy.  “Here baby.  She’s still sleeping. I’m sorry.” I handed the baby to her.

 

B shook her head.  “No. It’s okay.”

 

I handed the baby to Ken instead and pulled B into my arms.  “Come on baby.  It’s okay. You’re just tired. Do you want to go to bed?”

 

She shook her head against my chest.  I rose up and sat down beside her.  “What do you want then?”

 

She kept shaking her head.  She wasn’t saying anything. Ken was looking at me over her shoulder like I was still a big giant jackass. 

 

“I think everyone has been through quite a lot tonight,” Giles said. “I know that you were planning a night out alone.  Why don’t you let Joy stay with Willow tonight and you two get some rest?” I couldn’t believe he’d suggested it, but it actually made sense.  The baby would be safe and I could… I didn’t know, take care of Buffy. Or watch Buffy. Or both.

 

Red nodded. “Yeah, Ken and I were planning on it and everything.  We’ve got her clothes and bed and all sorts of stuff.” She was trying to be cheerful at least.

 

Ken patted B’s knee.  “What do you say?”

 

Buffy sniffed and nodded.  “You’ll watch her.”

 

They both laughed.  “Sure,” Ken said. “I probably won’t even go to sleep. I have things to teach her.”

 

B groaned. “Please don’t put her in a polo shirt. Please…” She giggled a little. It was a sweet sound.

 

Ken smiled and handed the baby to B.  “Here, kiss her goodnight.” 

 

Buffy took her timidly and we all stiffened.  Everyone watched like B was gonna sprout horns or something and disappear with her into the depths of hell, but she just nuzzled her nose.  “I love you, little girl,” she whispered. She held her so I could kiss her forehead and then she gave her back to Ken.  “Thank you,” she whispered.

 

Kennedy winked at her.  Whore. And, I couldn’t speak for the rest of us, but I felt like a giant asshole.

 

Xander patted B on the shoulder.  “Sleep good Buff. In the morning, everything will seem less… night time-y.” 

 

Dawn rolled her eyes.  “Leave it him to tell you something that you already knew.”  She bent down and kissed the baby.  “Love you,” she said.

 

“Love you too,” Ken replied.

 

“Oh my god, that is getting old,” Dawn muttered walking out with the rest of them.

 

“See you in the morning, Buffy. We’ll figure everything out,” Red said. She took the baby from K. “You are such a baby hog.” She was saying as she left.

 


 

After everyone had gone to bed, B and I sat on the couch a few more minutes. “Sleepy?” I asked her.

 

She nodded. “Yeah.  Are we okay?”

 

I stood up and held my hand out for her.  “You wanna take a bath?”

 

She looked at me funny.  “Seriously?”

 

I nodded. “Yeah.”

 

She turned her head and eyed me.  “Are you going to sit in there and watch me or like bring your PSP so you aren’t bored out of your mind.”

 

“No… I’m gonna take one with you.” I winked.  “You’re creep house made me feel dirty.”

 

She laughed. “Okay…” She followed me up the stairs to our bedroom. 

 

“Why do you sound hesitant?” I feigned hurt.

 

“Cause you don’t take a bath with me, you just sit in there like a prison guard.” She opened our door.  “And you don’t take baths at all.  You take showers. You said, ‘B, baths are for girls.’ Remember? I told you you were a girl.  And you said, ‘no, like girl girls, B.’”  She had a voice that she did when she was mocking me.  I couldn’t really explain it, but I hoped to hell I didn’t really sound like that. She raised her eyebrow at me.  “Remember?”

 

I nodded and walked past her.  I started the water in the tub and begin taking off my clothes.  “They are for girlie girls, babe. But you’re a girlie girl and I want to get in there with you.”

 

She watched me get naked.  She hadn’t taken off anything.  Aw fuck it, I thought getting in the tub.  I leaned back. This bathtub was the size of my old motel room.  Who the fuck needed a tub this size?  I could fit half the castle in here.  Not that I would, mind you. There are very few fucking people in this castle I wanted to see naked.  “You gonna just stand there, princess?” I asked her.

 

She still eyed me warily.  “Are you gonna drown me?”

 

“Not tonight.”

 

She pulled her shirt over her head.  “Okay.” She got undressed slowly. I wasn’t sure if it was because I was watching her or if it was because she was hesitant. Didn’t matter one goddamn bit because it was hot.  I honestly should not have been thinking about sex right now.  It should have been the furthest thing from my mind.  But Jesus god, I was only human.  And she was so… so Buffy.

 

She didn’t say anything and instead stepped into the tub slowly. It was one of those sunk-in deals, so you actually had to step down into it.  It put me in a position of being underneath her.  I watched her with what I’m sure was a fucking leer but I couldn’t help it.  I groaned. She sat down in front of me and put her back against me.  I pulled her to me.

 

She laid her head against my shoulder and closed her eyes.  “I’m sorry, Faith.  I know that you have to protect her.  I love that you want to.  I love that she’s the most important thing to you.”

 

I kissed the side of her head.  I kissed her ear. Her neck.  “Don’t apologize,” I whispered.  I didn’t really have to desire to talk about any of it right now. “I’m sorry,” I whispered again, hoping that would end it.

 

She wrapped her arm around my head and pulled me closer to her. I kissed her collarbone and her shoulder.  I was being soft. The truth was I wanted to take her right there in the bathroom.  The idea of it was turning me on more than I could imagine.  I hadn’t felt this worked up since my fucking incarceration. We’d spent way too long being fucking soft.  But I definitely didn’t want to break the spell we both seemed to be under at the moment.

 

“Faith?” she moaned softly. My hands were wrapped around her stomach and she put hers on top of mine.

 

“Mhhmm?” I muttered.  My mouth was sort of occupied. 

 

She pulled away from me.  “Please tell me you trust me,” she said softly.  “Just tell me you trust me.  Even if you’re lying.” She turned to look at me.

 

I kissed her then. It was hot and fast and needy.  She pulled completely away from me for a second but before I could protest she turned around swiftly and straddled me.  She put her hands in my hair and pulled me to her. Her mouth was on mine then. Even needier than before if that was possible.  She was moaning into my mouth and her entire body was on fire.  Or maybe it was mine.  I couldn’t fucking tell.  I couldn’t fucking think about anything but her.  About the fact that her legs were around me.  About the fact that she was kissing me with more passion than she had in months. Honestly, than she ever had.

 

She stopped for a moment and put her forehead against mine.  “I love you,” she whispered.

 

I found my voice.  It was fucking hard, trust me.  “I love you too baby.” I pulled her to me and kissed her again.  I could kiss her forever.  “I trust you,” I whispered then.

 

She moaned louder in my mouth then.  We stayed like that. Sort of entwined together. Her arms were around my neck and I pulled her to me. She was pressed so tight against me and her body fit so perfectly into mine that I didn’t think even a piece of damn paper could get between us. 

 

I pulled away, reluctantly.  “We’ve gotta get out baby or this is gonna be over way too soon for me,” I told her.

 

She nodded and winked at me.  She reached behind her and let the water out.  But she didn’t get up.  She stayed where she was. She started nibbling where my neck meets my shoulder. “I love your collarbone,” she said, licking in between words.  “I think it’s sexy.”

 

Fuckkkkk. She could not say things like that or I swear to god, it was seriously gonna not gonna take me long and we’d both regret it.  “B, baby, we gotta get out of here, seriously…” I pleaded.

 

She huffed and sat back. She still had her hands around my neck and she was sort of holding on, staring at me.  Goddamn it, just kill me, please.  How the fuck could everything she does be that goddamn sexy? She stuck her lip out at me.  And that was about to be all she wrote… “Okay,” she pouted and popped up quicker than I expected. 

 

I was still sitting there, which put me in a very precarious position. One I was about to just say fuck it and take advantage of when she jumped out of the tub.  “Oh no you don’t,” she teased, grabbing a towel and running into the bedroom.  “You said we had to get out,” she called behind her.

 

“Fuck,” I groaned when she walked out.  I got up to follow her.  I told her I loved her. And I had meant it with every cell in my body.

 

But I’d also told her I trusted her.

 

“Are you coming?” she called, from the bedroom.

 

Jesus Christ, she made it to easy sometimes. 

 

“Hopefully,” I said, turning off the light.

 

 

 

Chapter Text


Chapter 25

 

There were a lot of things I needed to think about.  I still had the whole issue of trust going through my head. I was worried about B. Worried about what she would do. What she could do. I was worried about having to protect the baby.  Worried about having to make a choice.  I was doing a lot of fucking worrying that was for sure.

 

But when Buffy lay on top of me… let’s just say that things definitely would melt away. Not that I went and forgot shit or anything, I wasn’t deluded, but it was nice to well… forget shit for a little while.

 

She’d yelled at me to come in the bedroom when we’d gotten out of the bathtub. She hadn’t really bothered to wait and my instinct was to jump out as quickly as possible and follow, but after I turned off the light, I turned it back on almost immediately.

 

“Faith…” she whined from the other room.  “What are you doing?”

 

“I’ll be in there in a moment,” I called back.  I took a minute to dry and off and then put my hands on the sink. I pressed my weight against it and stared at myself.  I wasn’t a kid anymore. I mean it wasn’t like I was fucking old or anything, but let’s face it… I wasn’t fucking sixteen. I’d scrubbed all the makeup off my face earlier and I could distinctly see the dark circles under my eyes. The last few hours had definitely taken their toil on all of us.  Hell, the last few months have for that matter. 

 

“Faith,” and again with the whining.  “What are you doing?”

 

“Looking at myself in the mirror.” Couldn’t argue that I was a liar.

 

“Ummm why…”

 

“I’m hot,” I teased back.  “Seriously, I’m coming.”

 

I pushed myself away from the counter and made my way out of the bathroom. I knew that B was waiting in the other room… most likely in bed… most likely naked.  So I willed myself to only think of that. Thinking about anything else at the moment could get me in a whole heap of fucking trouble. And really… what was one night?

 

Buffy was, as I predicted, lying in bed.  However, she wasn’t naked.  I guess my foray into the depths of my soul in the foggy bathroom mirror had given her a chance to put something on.

 

Here’s where the word “something” can have a variety of meanings.  Cause if you thought I meant those fucking dumbass pajamas she wears, you’d be nine kinds of wrong. 

 

I willed my brain to work.  “Whoa,” I was able to mutter out. Yay me.

 

“Is it stupid?” She asked, her voice (and face) full of genuine concern.

 

“Uh no. Not stupid.”  And it wasn’t. 

 

Truthfully, me and sex… well I’m good without all the extraneous attractions. I don’t need fancy candles or fancy toys (okay, so this one wasn’t always true… but they weren’t exactly needed)… It wasn’t like I was vanilla but more like a less frills more thrills kinda girl.

 

And let’s face it, our sex life wasn’t all that happening anyway.  We’d spent the better part of her pregnancy apart and even though we’d had sex it wasn’t like we’d… well brought the house down or anything. Number one – she was pregnant and my baby was inside there getting all up close and personal with me getting all up close and personal.  Number two – we had a shitload of other things on our mind like the demon that didn’t even fucking exist. But I digress… after the baby was born, sex became quick and to the point.  Sorta of an afterthought to a really long fucking day.  Nothing fancy.  It was awesome, don’t get me wrong, but it was also normal.  And normal isn’t bad.  I’d never said that. 

 

So walking out and seeing her dressed in what could only be described as the hottest fucking thing I’d ever seen in my life, sent me for a tiny little loop.

 

“I think it’s stupid,” she pouted.  This could possible be due to the fact that I was still standing buck ass naked on the other side of the room trying to make my brain work.  

 

She was wearing these sheer black underwear, boy shorts, with light green trim around the edges.  They were lace and they were fucking short.  Like, I’m pretty sure if I could see her ass I’d have been able to well… see her ass. However, she was just lying there on the bed.  Sorta propped up on some pillows.  The halter-top she had on matched the shorts (or underwear, or whatever, I was having a hard time focusing) and stopped right at her navel.  Holy god, my brain was far from functioning normally.

 

“Where’d you get that?” I whispered.  I couldn’t even begin to imagine.  If she said she’d had for a while (think pre-Faith here), I’d have to throw her out the window. I’d probably still fuck her, but still.

 

“Will and I went shopping for the baby a few weeks ago.  Remember?” She whispered shyly.  It was cute that she was shy.  She had nothing in the fucking world to be shy about at the moment though…

 

“You bought that when you went shopping for the baby?” I asked.  “That was kind of naughty.”

 

She smiled a little.  “You don’t think I look silly?”

 

I shook my head.  “No, silly is seriously the furthest thing from what I’m thinking.” I grabbed a t-shirt and shorts and hastily put them on. 

 

She frowned. “Why are you getting dressed?”

 

I walked over to her.  “Cause you’re dressed. And I sort of want to undress you.” I stood at the end of the bed.

 

She rose up on her elbows a little.  “That makes no sense.”

 

I grabbed her feet and pulled her down the bed.  “See here’s my thought.  I want to be in control, and I can’t be if I’m all naked and you…,” I bent down and put my hands on either side of her head.  “…aren’t,” I finished.

 

I kissed her then. She giggled under me. I still wasn’t touching the bed. I grabbed her hands and pulled them over her head with my own.

 

She groaned under me.  “You like to be in control, don’t you?”  She giggled softly, pulling away from me.  She pulled her hands out of mine and scooted up the bed on her elbows.  My knees hit the bed when she moved.  “But see… I like to see you like this.”

 

I was kneeling on my knees in front of her.  “Like what?”

 

“Turned on,” she said.  She rose up on her elbows again and bent her knees slightly.  I could see the outline of the damn lace panties sort of cupping her. I was in control. I was in control. That’s what I kept telling myself anyway.

 

Truthfully, I could have fucking took her right there and that would’ve been that. Like I said, we never drug this shit out.  But, I sorta liked the teasing Buffy.  And the making it last. It wasn’t like we ever had time for this. 

 

I sat back on my heels and stared at her.  “You have absolutely no idea how fucking hot you are right now.”

 

She purred a little and closed her eyes.  Holy shit that just made everything ten times hotter.  She leaned back.  Her back was propped by the pillows.  Her eyes were still closed.  She ran her hands down her sides and the outside of her thighs.  “Are you going to stay there staring all night?” She whispered.

 

“I don’t know. It’s pretty tempting,” I said. I was still sitting back watching her. Her breathing was deep. She licked her lips and then stuck out her bottom one.  Fucking pout. She knew how to get to me that was for sure.

 

She opened her eyes suddenly.  “You know what I think? I think you should…” she grabbed my arms and pulled me on top of her, “…lie down instead.”  She pushed her hands in my hair and kissed me harder than she had in a long time. (If you don’t count that mind-trippy kiss… which I didn’t.)

 

I put my hands on either side of her hips and ground into her.  She moaned under me.  She pulled my head closer to her and kissed me deeper. We kissed for a moment and then I pulled away.

 

I put my hands on the bed and rose up a bit.  Her chest was heaving and her fucking lips were all swollen.  I mean I knew she could be this hot but I didn’t know she could be this hot… my brain… on sex.  Never works. “You have no idea how bad I want you right now,” I whispered, bending down and licking her neck. “I can’t believe how fucking hot you look.” Her breasts were still bigger than they normally would be and that was not helping the situation.  They were more than spilling out of the top she had on.

 

“Show me,” she whispered closing her eyes.

 

Didn’t have to tell me twice.  Well actually, you probably had to tell me half a dozen times because focusing was an issue with me, but I got what she was saying.  I pulled her shirt up and began kissing her stomach.  She laughed at first.  But she quickly stopped when I began sucking at any exposed skin I could find.

 

“Jesus,” she whispered.

 

“Mmmm,” I mumbled.  What? It wasn’t like I was trying to be fucking clever.

 

I set up quickly and pulled her shirt off.  I would have honestly ripped it the fuck off her, but I didn’t want to tear it. I had a feeling we could get some use out of it.  She gasped slightly until I took her breast in my mouth.  Then she gasped loudly.

 

“Be careful,” she whispered, putting her hands in my hair.

 

I was going to. There was no way I wanted to taste breast milk.  Talk about a fucking mood killer.

 

I took one hand and pushed her panties to the side.  I could feel how wet she was lying on top of her.  It was a somewhat totally different feeling though with my fingers there.

 

“Fuck, you’re wet,” I mumbled against her.

 

She was the one just making noises now.  I ran my fingers up and down.  Teasing really. She moaned again. “Take your shirt off.”

 

I rose up quickly and pulled it over my head.  I lay back down on top of her and kissed her.  I kept my other hand between her legs.  I wasn’t really moving my body, mostly because I didn’t know how long I would last if I did. 

 

She wrapped her arms around me and pulled me closer to her and I moved down and kissed the side of her neck.  “I love you,” I whispered in her ear as I eased one finger inside of her. 

 

“God,” she mumbled against me. 

 

I was trying to be slow.  I wanted it to last first of all.  But also, I didn’t want to hurt her.  I moved inside of her, slightly.  She liked me to be deep but not hard or…jerky.  She didn’t like a lot of movement.  See… I had learned something over the course of the last year.  I wet my fingers and slid another inside of her.

 

“Oh my god,” she cried a little louder than last time.  I loved these fucking sounds she made when we made love. There were all these breathy moans and gasps that were just so goddamn girly.  It was too much.

 

I stilled my hand for a moment.  “I want to take them off,” I whispered in her ear.

 

She nodded against me and I pulled out of her.  The loss of contact and warmth was immediate and I fought the urge to pout.

 

She swiftly pulled off the panties while I hovered over her.  She was staring at me the whole goddamn time. Fuck that was hot.

 

“Take yours off too,” she whispered. 

 

I did as I was told.  I was still hovering over her.  I knew when I touched her, when I lay down between her legs… all fucking bets were off.

 

“What are you waiting for?” She asked me, and licked her fucking lips.

 

That did it. I pushed down against her and she moaned louder than she had since we started.  I joined her.  She put her hands on the small of my back and began rubbing circles on it. My forehead was pressed against hers and I still hadn’t moved.

 

“I could sorta stay like this forever,” I told her.

 

“Me too,” she whispered grabbing my ass and pulling me into her.

 

I pumped my hips in rhythm with her hands.  We were going slow.  I wasn’t moving fast or hard, but god and everyone else knows I wanted to.  I propped my hands above her head and pushed into her. We moved like this for a few minutes.  The only sounds you could hear was the increasingly wet noises our bodies were making and the moans.

 

And then she wrapped her legs around me.

 

I put my arms under shoulder and began pumping into her.  I could feel how wet she was getting and I can tell you that we couldn’t have gotten any closer if we’d tried.  We were sliding against each other so fast and so hard now that we were both having trouble breathing.  I tried to kiss her but it was sloppy… which honestly just made it that much fucking hotter.

 

She was pushing up into me as hard as she could.  Her hands were leaving what I assumed were gonna be the hell outta some marks on my back because she was pulling me so hard into her.

 

“Right there, “she moaned into my ear.

 

I could tell she was close by the way she was breathing (something else I’d learned). I pushed into her harder. I was moving as fast as I dared, as close as she was.

 

“Fuck, B… I’m…” I couldn’t form a goddamn word.

 

“I know…” she breathed out.  “Come for me, baby.”

 

I felt my stomach tighten at her voice and I ground down as hard as I could, circling my hips at the last second. 

 

“Oh god! Faith! Oh god!  Right there! Don’t stop!” She breathed heavily against my neck.  She always screamed when she came hard.

 

I came with her, moaning on top of her.  “Fuck, Buffy… that was fucking….” I still couldn’t form a goddamn word.

 

“…hot,” she finished.  She pulled me closer to her and ground her hips against mine.

 

And please, don’t think I couldn’t do it all over again…

 


 

 

We spent most of the night like that.  I’d never had that many orgasms in one night.  Seriously. I know that’s probably a shocker, but it’s the fucking truth.  The next morning my whole body was limp.  It was a weird, albeit not bad feeling.

 

“You awake?” She whispered.  She was laying half on top of me, her leg thrown over and between mine.

 

“Mmm hmm,” I mumbled.  I kissed the top of her head.  “Morning.”

 

“Morning,” she said, smiling up at me and kissing me.

 

“Morning,” we heard from the doorway. 

 

Jesus god.

 

Ken was standing there holding Joy.  Joy was bouncing in Ken’s arm as happy as I’d ever seen her.

 

“Do you knock?” I grumbled, pulling the blanket over both of us.  There was no reason she needed to see Buffy naked.

 

“No, and here’s why…” she held the baby out away from her body.  “Your kid is like a backstage, all-access pass to your bedroom.”

 

“That’s stupid,” I muttered.

 

She walked in and sat on the bed.  Then she popped right back up.  “Eww… maybe we’ll sit over here,” she said, moving to the couch.

 

“What do you want?” I groaned.

 

“Your baby is hungry and we’re outta momma milk,” she smiled.  “I tried to feed her pancakes but Will yelled at me.”

 

B giggled and popped up in the bed.  What the fuck? Why the hell did she think it was okay for Ken to see her breasts?  I rolled my eyes.

 

“Bring her here,” Buffy said.

 

Ken brought her over and handed to her B.  She started feeding her.  Kennedy wiggled her eyebrow at me.  “That’s one way to start the morning, I guess.”

 

I laid back and pulled the blanket up to my neck.  “I feel like you two are too comfortable around each other,” I muttered.

 

B giggled. “She saw me have a baby. I figure modesty’s out the window.” She pulled the baby closer to her and turned to Ken. “I haven’t seen you naked though.”

 

Mary mother of all that was holy… these two were going to give me a reason to kill something one day.  “And you fucking won’t either.” I grunted.

 

Ken just laughed. “I totally get off on the fact you are the most jealous person I know,” she said.

 

“As long as you aren’t getting off on my girlfriend, we’re good.”

 

She yawned. “Oh no worries. There is no way I’ve got that kinda stamina.  With the ‘Oh B’s’ all night long.  I value my sleep.” She plopped back down on the couch.  “And you two are loud.  You need to get that shit under control before the kid grows up and needs therapy.”

 

I felt my entire body turn red.  Just great. What was even better was that Buffy was laughing like it was the funniest thing she’d heard in a year. I guess modesty really had flown out the fucking window.

 

“Oh goddess!” Red said running in and covering her eyes.  “Sorry!” She squealed, hands still over them. “You two need to get dressed.” She peered out of her fingers. “And you,” she said looking at Ken. “Need to leave so they can.”

 

“What’s up?” Buffy asked.

 

“Yeah,” Ken followed.  “Where’s the fire?”

 

Red opened her eyes then and looked straight at me.  “Satsu’s here,” she said. 

 

That was all she needed to say.  I grabbed my shirt off the bed and pulled it on.  I found my shorts under the blanket.  I moved out of the bedroom before anyone could even register that I’d gotten dressed.

 

“Faith, wait!” B called from behind me.

 

“Fuck that,” I told her, not turning around.

 

I was about to beat the fucking shit out of someone.  Today wouldn’t be a total waste at least. 

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 26

 

Fucking Satsu. Holy shit I’d never wanted to hit something more than I wanted to fucking hit her at the moment. She was a big fucking catalyst in everything that had gone wrong in our lives the last year. 

 

I didn’t know why she was back.  I didn’t stay around long enough for Red to explain.  I did hear her, however, yelling from the bedroom.  “Kennedy, stop her.”

 

“Ha! I’m gonna go with Faith, and say fuck that,” she said, coming up behind me in the hallway.  No matter how damn frustrating she could be when she was staring at my naked girlfriend, I sure the hell wouldn’t trade her for a damn thing.  “I can’t believe how much I am going to enjoy this,” she muttered.

 

I nodded. I knew we couldn’t kill her. Not unless she gave us a reason anyway.  But that didn’t mean that I couldn’t make her wish she were dead. “Wonder what the fuck she’s doing here?”

 

Ken shrugged. We were sprinting down the hallway. “You give a shit?” She asked.

 

“Nope,” I said, running down the stairs.  “Not in the least.”

 


 

Satsu was standing in the library her back to us.  She was fucking stupid. 

 

“Faith,” Giles warned when he saw us walk in.  “Don’t.”

 

Satsu spun around and I clocked her across the cheek.  I’m pretty sure that had I been in that right frame of mind that would have hurt like a son of a bitch.  However, I was pretty much intent on kicking her ass across the goddamn country.

 

She hit the ground with the first punch.  I’d caught her off guard.  She went to stand up and held her hands up.  ‘Let me explain.”

 

“Fuck that,” I growled and lunged.

 

She dodged me and swung.  Her fist connected with the side of my head.  Holy shit… I did feel that one.  It stunned me but it was a stupid fucking move on her part.  Ken punched her right after she hit me and knocked her back on the ground. I was on top of her before she could get her breath.

 

“Faith! Stop!” Xander yelled.  “Go get Buffy!” He told Dawn or Andy as I wasn’t paying attention.

 

I straddled her and hit her again.  She moaned and punched me back in the gut.  Again… fucking hurt.  Giles went to intervene, I assume, and Ken held him back.

 

“Stop,” she said.

 

“Faith, she has something to tell us,” Dawn pleaded.  “Listen to her.”

 

I ignored her and punched her again.  She kneed me in the stomach and flipped me over.  She rolled on top of me… and Ken pulled her away from me.  She raised her fist at Kennedy and I jumped up and caught it, bending it backwards.  She swung around and went to hit me again.

 

“Enough!” We heard from the doorway.  All three of us were thrown to the floor.  Red walked in. I was pretty much paralyzed and couldn’t move. She was so goddamn strong sometimes. It was annoying. “I am going to let the three up but I swear…” she made eye contact with Ken and me both, “if either of you try anything, I’m throwing you both right back down on the ground and you aren’t moving until she’s had a chance to explain herself. Got me?”  We both nodded, since our heads were the only things we could move. “Good.” She turned to Satsu.  “I don’t trust you.  It’s quite obvious they don’t either.  You try anything and you are going to wish all I do is paralyze you.”

 

Satsu nodded as well.  “I just need you to hear me.”

 

I growled, but Red gave me her evil eye.  “Fine, fine. I’m good,” I said, trying like hell to catch my breath.

 

B came into the room then.  She brought the baby. Apparently however, she’d left her brain in the bedroom.

 

“Buffy, what the fuck?” I asked.

 

She turned to me.  “Shut up, Miss Hit Now Ask Questions Later.  She’s fine. I won’t let her hurt her and neither will you.”

 

Whatever. I was thinking about all the ways B was the biggest dumbass that I knew.  I wasn’t as much of a dumbass though so I didn’t voice them.

 

She turned to Satsu.  She was mad. It was evident. But she was also sad. Her eyes looked like she was gonna cry. She’d been betrayed and I got it, I really did. I mean no one got it more than me… but be still my fucking beating heart for god’s sake.  Really…

 

Satsu was still sitting on the ground.  She didn’t move to stand up.  Smart. “First of all, I want to say I’m really sorry,” she said quietly.

 

“Oh okay, you’re forgiven,” I growled.  “Glad that’s over.”

 

“Faith,” B said.  “Shut up and let her talk.”

 

I rolled my eyes toward Ken.  I got that Buffy wanted her to explain and all but Jesus the bitch was working for Olivia. I stood up and moved beside Ken.

 

“I’m afraid sorry is not enough at this juncture,” Giles said to her. “You’ve caused everyone here quite a bit of grief.”

 

She nodded. She was still staring at the ground. “I realize what I’ve done. I’m truly sorry that I can’t undo it. Everything you believe is true. Except for the fact that I’m here to hurt the baby.  I would never…” She trailed off and looked away.  “I made a mistake. I thought I could… I thought…” she didn’t finish.

 

“Everything was a lie?” B asked her.  She was holding the baby against her chest.  I was pretty sure she was sleeping.  I took her from Buffy.  Again, I was sorry she was hurt but the wounded look she was giving Satsu made me want to puke.

 

“Not everything.” Satsu whispered.  “They didn’t mention that I’d fall in love.”

 

“You’re a fucking idiot,” I said.  No one gave a shit she fell in love. 

 

“How about I take the baby?” Dawn asked. 

 

I handed her to D.  I obviously couldn’t kill this bitch if my hands were full. 

 

“As sweet as this little lovefest is,” Ken said.  “Why the fuck are you here?” She turned to Red, “And how the hell did she get in?”

 

“I let her in,” Red told her. 

 

Great. So it was a good thing to know that Red had lost her fucking mind in the last twenty-fours.

 

“Why?” Ken asked.  “So she can go all witch-slayer and kill us all?” Good question.

 

Red shook her head.  “No, she said she had something to tell us.  I’m waiting on throwing her back out.” She looked at Satsu. “As hard as I can,” she added.

 

“I know what Olivia is planning,” the bitch said, getting up and moving towards B.

 

I blocked her path.  “Stay where you are.”

 

B moved around me.  “I can protect myself, Faith.” She sighed.  “So tell us what you know.”

 

“Olivia is trying to manipulate you,” she said.  Oh wow. Thanks for stating the fucking obvious, dumbass.  “As I guess you know. Something’s wrong though. She can’t get to you. It’s creating a lot of tension between her and the other members of the order.  She promised them this would be easy.”

 

“Don’t you mean she promised you?” I spat out.

 

Satsu shook her head.  “I know you don’t care but the truth is… me being here is signing my death warrant. Once I leave…”

 

B shook her head.  “You prove to us that you’re genuine and we won’t let her touch you. If that means you have to stay, so be it.”

 

“Aw hell nah,” I said.  “There’s no way in hell she’s staying here.”

 

“Agreed,” Ken muttered.

 

“Faith, we are not in the business of condemning people to death.” Giles told me.

 

Fuck him. What the fuck were Satsu and her scary ass order in the business of then?  She signed her death warrant well before she stepped through those damn doors.

 

“She’s not staying here,” I announced.  “There’s no way I’ll allow it.”

 

“It’s not your place,” B told me.

 

“The fuck it’s not.  You’re putting my daughter in jeopardy.  I’d think that’d give me a goddamn say.” I was getting more and more pissed. At Satsu.  At Giles.  At Buffy.

 

Red shook her head.  “She won’t hurt her.”

 

“How the hell do you know?  You didn’t know she was working with Olivia.” And I was mad at Red too.  Forgot to add that.

 

“Because if she touches the baby, I’ll set her on fire.” Red stated simply. She turned to Satsu.  “I’ll let you figure out if I’m speaking metaphorically or not.”

 

“I’m not going to harm the baby.  I told you that.” She sighed.  “Look, I should have said something.  I knew it was coming and I kept quiet.  Olivia deceived me too if it matters…”

 

“How?” Xander asked. 

 

“She told me the baby wouldn’t be hurt.  She promised me that Buffy and I would together.”

 

I sprung at her then.  I felt the need to knock her fucking teeth through the back of her head. 

 

“Kennedy, stop her!” Red yelled.

 

“Nope,” Ken answered.

 

Buffy grabbed me though.  “Stop it, Faith! You’re posturing is not helping anything.”  She wrapped her arms around my waist. 

 

I was struggling to get out of her grasp but she was stronger than me. That was so fucking aggravating sometimes. 

 

“Are you going to be calm?” B asked.

 

I nodded. She held on for a few more seconds until she decided I was serious I guess.  Ken moved over and put her hand on my arm.  She smiled at me.  It was nice to have a partner in crime when everyone else in the room was drinking from the same damn Kool-Aid.

 

“What else?” Buffy asked her.

 

“I thought when they sent the baby and I away, I could run.  I was going to call Willow and tell her what was happening. She could transport us back. I couldn’t tell you before then. It was too dangerous. I didn’t know that Olivia had planned from the beginning to take the baby away.  It wasn’t part of our plan.”  She sat down.  “I fell in love with you, Buffy.  I couldn’t let anything happen to her.  She was a part of you.” She was staring at Joy. 

 

Yeah whore, you could take your eyes off of her.  She fell in love.  Everything surging through me was screaming no one gives a fuck! I could care less that she fucking fell in love.  People fell in love with Buffy.  Tough shit for her. It didn’t give her the goddamn right to take it upon herself to protect the baby. 

 

“You aren’t telling us a goddamn thing, Satsu,” I said.  “You’re just spouting shit we already knew. No one here gives a shit how you felt.”

 

She nodded sadly.  “I realize that, Faith. I’m not finished.” She turned to Buffy. I guess my murderous stares were making her uncomfortable.  So the fuck what. “Like I said, Olivia told the others that all of this would be easy. She was wrong. I’m unsure of whether she knew or not that her plan would be this complicated.  Many of the order had no idea the baby would have to die.”

 

I growled.

 

She ignored me. “Olivia thought she could manipulate you.  That you would join the order. That’s what she said anyway. That we would raise the baby as an embodiment of Ate.  She told me you and I would be together.” Oh fuck her, we’d already established that. “But it’s not working the way she wanted.  And she’s worried. She thinks the ritual should be moved up.  It’s why I’m here now.”

 

“What?!?” We all screamed.  Most of us anyway.

 

Satsu nodded. “She wants to go ahead with the ritual in the next few days.  She can’t get into your head the way she wants you.  Even with the way she tortured you last time…” she trailed off.

 

I had no idea that she’d hurt Buffy again.  I shouldn’t have been surprised but it still felt like a punch to my gut nevertheless.

 

I put my arm around B.  “Why didn’t you tell us that?”

 

She shook her head.  “It didn’t matter,” she said, distracted.  And it probably didn’t to her.  But the fuck it didn’t matter to me… I hadn’t trusted her.  And she had let us all believe that she was okay.  Her strength sometimes surprised me.  It really shouldn’t have though.

 

“When Olivia realized that she couldn’t get to you, she got scared. It’s why I had to come today. You’ve got to understand, she will find a way around your barrier.  I don’t know what it is because she obviously didn’t trust me enough to tell me… but she’s determined.”

 

“And she’s rushed.  That equals reckless right?” Dawn asked.

 

“Maybe,” Giles nodded.  “But also ruthless.”

 

“What does she want to do with her?” B asked.  Her face had lost all its color.  I moved her over to the couch so she could sit down. 

 

Satsu shook her head.  “They have a ritual… it’s not… pleasant.”

 

“Yeah, no shit,” Kennedy said.  “Killing babies rarely is.  Be more specific.”

 

“They have to kill her with a ritual knife.  A dagger of Ate.  Once her blood is spilled Ate will be able to rise.”

 

No one said anything for a few moments. 

 

“And they can do this ritual early?” Red asked.  “I thought the prophecy was specific?”

 

Satsu nodded. “It is.  I’m not sure what the consequences of attempting it now would be. There are others in the order, women that are afraid of her, that think the same thing.  They disagreed with the murder in the first place. But they were working from the inside. You had allies whether you believed it or not…”

 

“Obviously they’re doing a bang-up job,” I muttered.  “You all were fucking stupid.  Did you think anything good would come from this?  How the hell could you believe this woman?”

 

“It doesn’t matter,” she spoke softly.  “The wheels are in motion now and you’re concern is saving the baby.” She made eye contact with B.  “As is mine.”

 

B nodded. Again, fuck that. I still didn’t trust this bitch as far as I could throw her.  Which in hindsight isn’t the best metaphor because right now I could throw her pretty fucking far…

 

“So what exactly do we do?” Xander asked.  “I mean we all appreciate the heads up,” speak for yourself, dumbass. “But… how do we fight her?”

 

Satsu shrugged. “You must kill her.”

 

“Wow, thanks for coming.” I said.

 

She ignored me again.  “You must kill her and the rest of them.  I can take you to them or you can wait here for her.”

 

Neither fucking option sounded that enticing.  We took the fight to her and left the baby here without the protection of me or B or both of us.  We waited for her to come here and we ran the risk of her hurting the baby before we could stop her. Not a good choice in that mix.

 

“Those both seem like fucked up scenarios,” Ken said, speaking my mind for me.

 

Satsu nodded at her.  “They are. I’m not sure what you should do. But I will help you. I owe you that much,” she said to Buffy. “If I were you though, I’d make that decision pretty soon.  You don’t have a lot of time.”

 

The bitch was good at understatement.  I still didn’t trust her.  I wasn’t sure how the fuck we were supposed to decide what to do.  “How many people does she have working with her?  For her?  What are we up against?” I asked her.

 

“She surrounds herself with no less than ten women at one time. They are all powerful witches. I was the only slayer. You’ll need everyone you’ve got to fight her.”

 

I looked at Andy.  “Get Ken’s phone… call Angel,” I told him.

 

He nodded and ran out of the room.

 

“So what’s the best option, then?” Dawn asked.  “You guys go to her or wait… I have to say that I don’t really like either one.” She held Joy to her.

 

B nodded. “If we waited, we’d have more people. I mean we could protect Joy if needed.”

 

I wasn’t sure I agreed.  “And what? We bring the bitch and her cronies into our home?  We don’t know when she’s gonna attack.  We don’t know if we’ll be ready.  Bringing her here would put Joy at an unnecessary risk.”

 

“So our alternative is to leave her here?  With who, Faith?”

 

“You,” I stated simply.

 

“Good try, but there’s no way I’m not going.” B thought for a moment. “You stay.”

 

Fuck that. “Are you serious?”

 

“As serious as you are.  We both know I can handle it. I’m afraid your temper would get the better of you.”

 

“Too fucking bad,” I groaned.  “Because I am going. No way I’m staying here.”

 

“What about Angel and Willow?” Kennedy asked.  “If we left Angel and Willow here, with some of the slayers, they could protect her.”

 

Red shook her head.  “I’d have to go. You all would need me.”

 

“I’d prefer you outta harm’s way.”

 

Red smiled at her.  “I’m sorry,” she said shaking her head.  “Good try for you too though.”

 

Ken nodded. “Worth a shot.”

 

“What about the other witches?” Xander asked.  “You know… Samantha and that woman in New Orleans and Cassandra?”

 

I looked to Red.  That was actually a good idea. If we could find them. “Could we ask?”

 

Will nodded. “It doesn’t hurt.”

 

Satsu cleared her throat.  “Samantha is dead,” she stated.

 

It wasn’t exactly a surprising revelation.  It sucked though.  Not because I hadn’t wanted to kill her myself but it definitely brought a fucked up levity to the situation.

 

Red looked sad. “I really wish it hadn’t come to that.”

 

Satsu nodded. “She knew the risks.”

 

“So did you,” B said.  She got up and went and sat down beside her.  I didn’t particularly fucking like it but I decided to keep my mouth shut. “We’re going to let you stay…”

 

“Uh hold the fuck up…” I started.  What the hell? Shouldn’t we like put this shit to a vote or something?

 

“No,” B said, totally interrupting me.  “She’s staying.  We aren’t going to have any more blood on our hands.” She turned to me.  “You’ll have to deal.”

 

“Whatever,” I growled.  I took the baby from Dawn. She had just woken up and was fussing. I held her to me. I looked at Satsu. “One fucking hair on her head… and it will be the last goddamn thing you do.  You go anywhere at all without someone watching you and I’ll cut you in half before you have a chance to explain yourself.”

 

She nodded but was smart enough to not say anything.  I walked out. 

 

There was no way in hell I was staying here and waiting for that fucking witch to show up. We might as well just give Joy to her. I didn’t trust Satsu but she knew where Olivia was.  So I’d have to tolerate her.

 

I kissed Joy’s nose.  “I love you, sugga.” I told her.

 

She was staring at me with her big green eyes.  I knew she didn’t understand me but it didn’t matter.  There was nothing I wouldn’t do for her.  I took her outside for a bit and we walked down to the pond. She liked to look at the water and I was sick of being in that fucking castle with that whore.   I sat down with the baby in my arms. It was nice being away from everything for once.  I wasn’t sure when we were going to go back inside. I wasn’t sure how much I liked B letting her stay. Like I said, I had to tolerate Satsu being there… but I sure the fuck didn’t have to be around her.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 27

 

I was lying on the ground in front of the pond with Joy asleep on my chest. I couldn’t say enough how much it amazed me how she could sleep when the rest of us were pretty much freaking out twenty-four/seven.  But she was sleeping.  I felt peaceful when she was sleeping on top of me.  And that definitely wasn’t a feeling I encountered often.

 

I closed my eyes.  I wasn’t stupid enough to fall asleep but it was good to at least rest without anyone bothering us. Not a wish, I realized quickly, I was gonna get to keep.

 

“Whatcha doin?” I heard Ken ask above me.  I could feel her.  I mean I knew it was her. Slayers had different vibes. Hers was distinct.

 

“Baking a cake. You?”  I sat up carefully so I wouldn’t wake the baby.

 

“Talking to a smartass. Fun times.” She said.  She sat down beside us and pulled her knees up to her chest. “You okay?”

 

“Five by five,” I told her.

 

“Old Faith. Yay.” She yawned dramatically. She was tired. We all were. “That means you’re stressed.” 

 

“You state the obvious a lot,” I told her. 

 

She nodded. “The obvious is lost on the majority of you sometimes.” She shrugged.  “Sometimes I just say what other people are thinking. I like to think of myself as the incredibly hot voice of reason.”

 

She did too, which was okay usually.  I just mostly appreciated it when it wasn’t directed at me.  It wasn’t fun having two consciences. 

 

“What’s everyone else doin?” I asked her. 

 

She shrugged again.  “I don’t know. Same old same old. Researching.  Will’s trying to contact the Voodoo lady. Can’t say how I feel about that…”she trailed off.

 

I agreed. That woman was weird. Enchanting but fucking weird. It didn’t help that once we left her club or whatever the hell it was, the entire thing vanished. I was kinda tired of being mind fucked.

 

“And B?” I tried to ask as nonchalantly as possible.

 

She lay back and put her hands behind her head.  “She’s with Satsu.”

 

“Right,” I said.

 

“Not by herself, if that helps.  Xander and Andy took it upon themselves to hang close.  Not that they could fucking do anything… but still…” she sighed. “Two more sets of eyes are better than one.” She thought for a moment.  “Or a set and a half.  Whatever.”

 

I knew what Satsu had said.  That B was strong. Olivia couldn’t manipulate her. I kept telling myself that. I didn’t want to tell Ken I didn’t like them alone together.  She knew anyway.

 

I lay back down and rubbed Joy’s back.  She was moving in her sleep.  I guessed she was dreaming. Wonder what the hell babies dreamt about?

 

“I still want to fucking kill her.” I told her.

 

“I know,” she sighed.  “Me too. I’d totally be sleeping in the other side of the castle if I did though. I’m trying to decide if it’s worth it.”

 

I groaned. “And if she’s legit we obviously need her.  Which makes the whole situation even more freaking frustrating.”

 

“Do you believe her?”

 

“I don’t know. Part of me wants to because we’ve got a starting place at least.  And an extra fighter.  And part of me…” I took a deep breath.  “…wants to rip her goddamn head off and throw it in the pond.”

 

“So how do you feel about leaving Joy here with Angel?”  She asked.

 

“Necessary evil.  We’ll have to leave other slayers here too.  Some of the best we have…” The baby fussed on top of me and I rubbed her back.  “So you know…”

 

“I’m not staying,” she said.  “If Will goes, so do I. Not to mention the fact that there would be no way I would fucking sit this out.”

 

I nodded, not really expecting anything else. “I don’t know who I trust here with her. And I can’t stay. B won’t stay.  What if we get there and Olivia is gone? What if she’s planning on attacking while we’ll gone?”

 

“I know. There’s not a good option,” she sighed. 

 

Xander walked up a few moments later.  “You guys okay?”

 

We both nodded.

 

He reached down and gave me a hand.  I balanced the baby and stood up.  “I guess we’re needed?”

 

“Yeah, he said. “Will got ahold of the coven in New Orleans.  She can’t find Cassandra.”

 

“She’s not gonna be able too,” I sighed.  “She’s protecting her baby too.  We can’t blame her for that.”

 

Ken sneered, “Though we kinda want to,” she added.

 

“Did she say when we were leaving?” I asked him.

 

“Tonight. Angel is here. The other women are on their way.”

 

Great. So the creepy woman from New Orleans would be here.  Lovely. I looked at Ken as we walked back to the castle.  “Marie Therese.”

 

“Yipee,” Ken said.  “That woman made me feel,” she thought for a moment, ‘weird, I guess.”

 

“No kidding.”

 

“You know you guys have to protect her?” I asked Xander.

 

He nodded. “We will.  No one will get near her, Faith.  I promise.”

 

I nodded back but kept quiet.  I realized he meant it. There’s nothing one of them wouldn’t do for Joy.  They loved her too. They just didn’t have the strength of a pissed off slayer.  Or a pissed off mother. 

 


 

When we got back inside, most everyone was in the library.  I didn’t know why we just didn’t pitch fucking tents in there. It’s not like we ever left.

 

“Angel,” I nodded.

 

“Faith,” he answered.

 

We had that type of relationship.

 

There was, of course,  one very important person missing.

 

“Where’s B?” I asked.

 

Dawn walked up and took the baby.  “She’s in the other room with Satsu.”

 

“Still?” Ken asked.  “And more importantly, by her fucking self?”

“Ken, you’ve got to trust them,” Red told her. 

 

“I trust Buffy. I don’t trust Satsu.”

 

“Thanks, Kennedy,” B said walking in.  The whore was trailing behind her like a fucking puppy dog.

 

“I think the baby’s hungry,” Dawn said, handing her to Buffy.

 

Satsu walked closer to them at the same time.  Angel, Ken, and I jumped. 

 

“Guys,” B said. She frowned. “Please calm down.”

 

I ignored her. “Glad you’re here,” I told Angel.

 

“Me too,” Ken said.

 

He nodded. “I’m glad I’m here too,” he said, eying Satsu.

 

She moved away from Buffy then and went to sit on the other side of the room. Probably a smart move since it was evident all three of us wanted to rip her apart.

 

“So,” Red started, obviously sensing the tension.  “We’ve spoken to your friend, Marie Therese.  She’s agreed to send people here to help us. They’ll be here tonight.”

 

“That woman wasn’t our friend.” Ken added.

 

“Regardless,” Giles interjected.  “She’s offered her service.  She is willing to stay here with us and protect the baby.  She is sending others with you.  We’ve also spoken to a few of the other academies.  Willow will be sending for the most seasoned girls tonight when the other members of the coven get here.”

 

“Well what do we…” B began but was cut off by the room filling with goddamn smoke.

 

“What the fuck?” I yelled.

 

I ran over to the table. We hadn’t expected Olivia to attack in the daytime.  Everyone jumped into position.  Andrew and Xander both screamed.  Helpful bastards.

 

“Wait!” Red screamed, when I grabbed the scythe from the table.

 

In front of us stood five women.  They were of various ages.  The youngest about our age and the oldest about six thousand or so.  (Besides names, I wasn’t that fucking good with ages.) 

 

“Who the hell are you?” Ken asked.

 

The women looked at us and but their faces showed no emtion.  Olivia wasn’t with them and they were definitely no witches I’d ever seen before.  They were dressed in white robes that hung to their feet. 

 

And no one answered us.

 

I moved towards them with the scythe and one of them shook their head. I was thrown backwards.

 

“Please do not do that,” the oldest one said.  “We are not here to harm the baby.”

 

“Why are you here?” B asked, backing out of the room.

 

“You do not need to be afraid of us,” another of them said.

 

Well fuck that. They’d just magically poofed into our library.  I figured fear was in order.

 

“Can we ask why you are here?” Giles ventured.

 

And how the hell they got around the barrier?  That fucking thing was useless.  Ken and Angel had moved a bit closer to me.  One of them noticed.

 

“You cannot fight us and it would be ignorant to try.  We are not here to harm you, as my sister has said.”

 

“So, again… who the fuck are you?” I asked. 

 

“We are the Goddesses Litai,” another spoke.

 

Giles and Red looked thoughtful.  And incredibly relieved.  I wasn’t feeling the same fucking thing.  More goddesses. That sounded about as promising as more fucking witches.

 

“Wow!” Red exclaimed, clapping her hands together.  “I didn’t think it would work.”

 

I looked at Ken.  What the fuck was she talking about?

 

“Me either,” Giles muttered.  “Welcome to our home,” he said to the women.  Or goddesses. Or what the fuck ever.

 

“You called them?” Ken asked a look of disbelief on her face. 

 

Red nodded and went to reply but the oldest woman stopped her.  “You called us and we came.  As is our way.  Our sister has caused you trouble?” She asked.

 

Red nodded. “Yes.  Or her order.  They are trying to raise her.”

 

The women looked at each other worried.  They were this bitch’s sister?  What the hell? When would shit just stop happening?

 

“That is most disturbing,” she said.  I took her to be the leader since she looked like she’d been around since humanity began. “They should not do that.” Well no fucking kidding, lady.

 

“So what? Are you here to help her?” Ken asked.

 

Giles cleared his throat.  “We didn’t tell you we were planning on summoning them.  We weren’t sure there would be time or that Willow was strong enough. I must say, fine job,” he told Red.

 

“Giles?” B asked.  Possibly goading him to the point. We could be here till sometime next year otherwise.

 

“Ah yes. The Litai goddesses are Ate’s benevolent other half.  They are able to stop her.  They right the wrongs she has or will commit.”

 

“So they’re like on our side?” I asked.  It was just fucking wonderful that there was another group of damn women I had decide whether or not to trust.

 

Giles nodded. “As long as we are righteous in our intent,” he looked at the older woman.  “Correct?”

 

She nodded her head slightly.  “We are only to intervene when a wrong is being committed by Ate.” The other women sighed. Apparently that was a shitty lot in life for them or something.  “It has been peaceful for a while so we have been prepared.” She turned to B. “Is this the baby?”

 

B nodded. She backed up a bit more, afraid the woman was going to touch Joy or something I guessed.

 

“She is too young,” the woman said simply.

 

We all looked at Satsu.  “Olivia is moving the ritual up,” she said.

 

The women exchanged glances again.  I had this creepy feeling they were communicated telepathically or some shit. “A desperate move,” she told her. “However, it does give us an advantage.” She looked at Red. “It was good that you called. You should have done so sooner.”

 

Red nodded. “We’ve been planning for months. You are hard godesses to find.”

 

“Yes. We are only summoned by those who truly need us.  We would have been unable to come otherwise. “ She made eye contact with me.  “Are you the child’s spiritual mother?”

 

“As opposed to?” I asked.

 

The youngest women spoke.  “As opposed to the birth mother.” She turned to her sister.  “And yes, she is.  I can see it in her. It is why she’s so hostile.”

 

The oldest nodded.  “You have a destiny to fulfill,” she stated simply.  “A great one.”

 

“I know I’m supposed to save my daughter,” I told her.

 

She shook her head.  “No. You are.  You and your other half,” she looked at B momentarily. “However, you have other responsibilities as well.  Your daughter is very fortunate.”

 

I wasn’t sure what that meant.  I wished I had fucking time to think about it.

 

“What does that mean?” B asked.  Obviously having more time on her hand than me.

 

“It does not matter at the present moment.  What does matter is that we are here to help you defeat our sister. Such is our lot. You must be ready to battle soon. Olivia, as you call her, is weak and desperate.  We should strike now.”

 

“So what is your role in this?” Angel asked them.

 

“We are here to facilitate your battle.  We can separate. You will need strength. I am old.  My sister and I will stay here,” she motioned with her head to the woman standing next to her.  “We will help protect your child.  The rest will go with you.”

 

“You happen to have names?” Xander asked.

 

“Yes, but they are not important to you and we do not give them away freely.” She began walking around the room.  “We will be here only to be certain the child is not harmed and that the order is eliminated. Once we are certain, we will disappear. We are normally not fighters but we will do what is needed.”

 

“Are you immortal?” Dawn asked.  “Cause we haven’t had that great of luck with immortal gods and stuff.”

 

The woman nodded at her.  “Yes. It is unfortunate that you have only met those of us who wish you harm.  I can assure you that we have no such plan.”

 

“So what is our plan?” Ken asked.  “Cause I’m pretty sure we are flying pretty blind right now.”

 

The woman sighed.  “We will send you to the Order tonight.  They will not know you are coming.”

 

“What about her?” I asked, motioning my head towards Satswhore. 

 

“She is the traitor?” One of them asked.

 

“Yep,” I growled.

 

“She is sincere,” the oldest said. 

 

Satsu let go of the breath she was holding.  She still wouldn’t make eye contact with me.

 

“Are you sure?” I spat out.

 

She nodded. “Yes.  It would be to your benefit to trust her. It is unwise to go into battle with someone you do not trust.”

 

That was fucking a hell of a lot easier than it sounded.  I didn’t trust the bitch at all. 

 

“You’re full of anger,” another one said.  “As well you should be.  What she did to you was unforgivable by human standards.  However the child has destiny you cannot begin to understand. She,” she looked at Satsu, “will play a role in that destiny.  You must not disturb it.”

 

“So I can’t kill her?” I asked.

 

“Faith!” B yelled.

 

The women ignored her.  “No,” the great great great grandma said. “You cannot.  Please do not disobey that request.  You would be doing your daughter a disservice if you do.”

 

Son of a bitch.

 

“So what do we do now?” Angel asked.

 

“We prepare,” Giles said.  “We must be ready when the others get here.”

 

I walked over to B.  She was holding the baby tightly to her chest.  I could see that she was shaking.  “You okay?” I asked her, wrapping my arm around her waist. 

 

“No,” she shook her head.  “I’m really scared. More scared than I’ve ever been.”

 

I pulled her to me.  The rest of the gang was mulling around getting stuff ‘prepared’ whatever the hell that entailed. “I’m scared too.”

 

She laid her head against my chest.  The baby was snuggled between us and I bent down and kissed her head.  “I’m sorry,” she whispered.  “About Satsu.  We need her.”

 

“I know,” I whispered back.  I held her to me. I was sure we should be preparing as well but they all seemed to have it covered.  I didn’t want to let either one of my girls go just yet. I didn’t want to think about leaving Joy.  I knew Angel would protect her and the sisters seemed to be legit even if they were scary as hell. But she was my baby…

 

…And yet, there was a part of me that felt ready.  I was ready to get this over with.  I was ready to take Olivia and her fucking followers down.  I wanted this to end.  I knew there was always going to be something to worry about. One prophecy down and another one to go… but I was ready to get one under the belt.  We’d have a hell of a long time to figure out the other.

 

 

Chapter Text


Chapter 28

 

It wasn’t long before the women from New Orleans started showing up. Other women from covens across the world also magically appeared in the castle.  Apparently they were all connected to Marie Therese. I trusted them only because there is no way in hell anyone with good sense would betray that woman. I was just glad the others got to see her.

 

“Good to see you again,” she laughed when she saw Ken and me standing across the room. We were both afraid she was gonna metaphorically screw our minds again. Neither of us wanted to be standing outside of the castle wondering where the hell everyone and everything was in ten minutes.  She’d just poofed in with about twelve other women.  She was wearing dress and turban similar to the one she had on the night we met her. And those blue eyes were shining brighter than ever.  She knew how to make them pop that was for sure.

 

“Yeah,” Ken answered her.  “Last time you left us high and dry.  And only half of that literally.” She thought for a second. “Actually both of those things are literal.  It wasn’t like we were wet…” Jesus.  She never shut up. “I mean we sort of were cause it’s hot in New Orleans.  So we were sweaty. But we were definitely high. Magically high I mean. But not magically dry. Or wet.” She stopped and shook her head.  Red was staring daggers at her. B had her eyebrow quirked at the mention of the word wet.  I was keeping my mouth shut like a good dumbass.  “Ugh hell, never mind,” she finished.

 

“Oh you girls must understand.  We protect our own. You know how it be.”

 

We both nodded at her dumbfounded.  She really was striking.  Her looks put her at an extreme advantage.

 

“Well, we would like to welcome you to our home,” Giles said, shaking her hand. “And tell you how thankful we are that you’ve decided to help us.”

 

She shrugged like ‘no big fucking deal.’ Like they did this shit all the time. She apparently wasn’t that worried. I wasn’t sure what to make of that. “It’s a battle we can win. Otherwise I wouldn’t have come.” She told him, taking his hand.

 

The others nodded with her.  Glad to know they were protecting their own asses.  At least she was honest.

 

She walked over and put her hand on my shoulder. “How da daddy doin?” She asked, smiling at me.  The other women laughed with her.  “I can still feel ya. You a worryin gal.” She looked around the room. B was holding Joy. “Dis da baby?”

 

“No,” Ken said. “That’s the decoy.”

 

Marie Therese laughed.  “Ha! Still da funny one I see.” She moved over to Buffy. “Can I hold her?”

 

B looked at me. I nodded. She handed the baby over to her.  Buffy was staring at her much in the same way Ken and I had when we first met her. So was everyone else for that matter. Even the Silly Sisters.

 

“She a pretty one, huh? Look just like both her mommas.”  She clocked her tongue and smiled at B.  “Dat make her lucky. Pretty momma like you.” She raised her eyebrow at B.

 

Buffy blushed. Jesus God.  Did I have worry about every woman who smiled at her?

 

“Thank you,” she whispered like a damn schoolgirl.

 

The women passed the baby around and cooed over her.  Though I wasn’t all that fucking keen on her being handled by every damn stranger in the room, it was probably a good thing because at least they’d know what they were about to fight for. 

 

A few more minutes and introductions all around (I didn’t bother with names, you already knew that wasn’t going to go well so what was the point), Red took Marie Therese and the sisters into the other room.  More preparing, I guessed.  One of these days I was gonna figure out what the hell the preparing was. Right now though I was more focused on the fighting part of the whole thing. 

 

“Wow,” B said after they were gone.  “She’s uh… something.”

 

“Yeah,” I mumbled.  Whatever. I scowled and took the baby from her. Something.  Something meant hot and shit.  Yeah she was hot. For a creepy ass witch with weird eyes that can make entire clubs vanish in front of your eyes.

 

“You are seriously the most jealous person I know.” Ken said, smacking my arm. “Really.  It brings a bit of amusement to life.” She patted my shoulder. “Thanks.”

 

“Shut up,” I growled. “Your girlfriend just took her into the other room…”

 

“I’m secure in my relationship,” she smiled.  “Plus I always have Buffy to fall back on.”

 

Buffy smiled and patted her on the arm.  “I like you more and more everyday,” she told her.

 

Why? Why did they do that? Seriously.  Aww fuck it.  I knew. Because I was jealous. It was my fucking nature though. It wasn’t like I could help it. I mean I’d quelled the other less desirable personality traits… homicidal mania, anyone?  So they’d have to give me a break when it came to jealousy. A girl could only change so fucking much.  If I just sat back and let everyone rake their dirty thoughts all over my girlfriend, I’d be Angel. Not Faith.


 

Slayers started popping onto the grounds soon after.  Wood sent his best girls.  So did Vi.  Other academies sent girls as well.  It was an impressive show of force.  Difference between the witches and slayers – witches don’t vomit.  Slayers, on the other hand, most definitely do.  Luckily Red was smart enough to at least magic them outside. When we walked outside to see them arriving, the entire mass of them were bent over. Gotta say – a grounds full of girls all hurling is something I never wanted to see again.

 

“Jesus, that’s disturbing,” I told Ken.

 

“Wusses,” she muttered.

 

Once everyone got settled (by this I mean we had to find dozens of new toothbrushes for those girls to brush their teeth so they didn’t go into the battle feeling all nasty and generally grossing Ken and I out), Giles gathered everyone in meeting room of the castle.  It was the only room that would hold us all.  I was starting to feel better about if for no other reason than the sheer number of capable people standing before us. There were over fifty people in the room. Well… over fifty beings – I didn’t think I could call the goddesses people.  I would’ve asked, but Giles wasn’t in the mood for questions.

 

“Now that we’ve all gathered we need to discuss the plan,” He said. 

 

Everyone got quiet and waited.

 

The grandma goddess took over.  “Our sister can only be called if blood has been spilled.  Most specifically the blood of this child.”  She motioned to B, who was holding the baby. “Your intentions may differ…” everyone nodded, “but the goal is the same.  The child cannot be harmed.  Allowing Ate to rise will throw the planet into chaos.”

 

Red nodded. “Everyone has an important role to play and no one can deviate from that.” She made eye contact with Ken and me.

 

“Really?” Ken asked, feigning hurt.

 

Red nodded. “Those of you staying here, step to this side of the room.” She pointed to the side next to the old goddesses and Cassandra.  Angel, several of the slayers and a few of the witches moved to the other side of the room.  She turned to them.  “We are leaving you here but that doesn’t mean your job is less important.  Understand that now. You guys protect the baby at all cost. She’s your most important objective.” The slayers nodded.  “We are leaving some of our strongest women here with you.  Our hope is that nothing will happen and we are being over-cautious. Unfortunately, under-cautious is a lot riskier. You must be prepared for the inevitable. If Olivia does come here, please do not think because she is lacking an arm she is not powerful. You have to strike.”

 

The girls nodded at her.  “So basically we are looking for a one-armed woman?”  One of the younger slayers asked.

 

Well, no one said the Powers that Be called geniuses.

 

“Yes,” Red sighed, exasperated.  “But Angel and the others know what she looks like. On the off chance another one-armed woman somehow is transported here.”

 

Besides those with supernatural powers, Dawn, Xander and Andy were staying too. I know they wanted to protect the baby too.  I just hoped they were smart enough not to get in the way.  I thought better of myself.  I possibly should voice that concern.  “You three know to stay out of the way, right?”

 

“We aren’t gonna be in the way, Faith.  But if you think we’re staying upstairs hiding in our rooms, you are wrong.” Dawn said.

 

“Don’t worry, no one is saying that, Dawn.” Angel, master of placation, answered her for me.

 

“Aw hell that was exactly what I was saying,” I muttered.

 

“Too bad. We aren’t staying out of this,” Xander said, smiling sadly at me.

 

Ken stepped over and put her hand on my shoulder.  “Don’t waste your energy.”

 

I nodded at her and decided to stay quiet.  I let Red finish.  “The goddesses will be in constant contact, right?”

 

The older woman nodded.  “Yes. We will know what is happening the entire time.  If you encounter any problems or Olivia is not present, we will know immediately.” She looked at her sisters. Or her granddaughters, cause the entire sister thing – really messing with my head.  “Ate must not rise.”

 

The younger goddesses, who were going with us, all nodded. 

 

B was holding Joy tightly to her. Joy, for her part, was doing what she did best – solving complicated equation.  Aw hell, I was just kidding – she was sleeping. 

 

Marie Therese put her hand on Buffy’s shoulder.  “We will guard her with our lives,” she said simply and kissed Buffy on the forehead.  “It’s a special girl you got dere.”

 

Buffy smiled sadly at her.  She was worried. So was I.  I also didn’t like that woman kissing my girlfriend, but I figured I probably should just stay quiet.

 

“Nothing?” Ken said, when I didn’t bite.  “Really?”

 

I rolled my eyes at her.

 

She shook her head, obviously disappointed Jealous Faith was gonna make an appearance. “I was kinda hoping I’d get to see her at least knock you backwards,” she chuckled.

 

“As for Olivia,” Red said, clearing her throat at Ken.  “She is still a formidable opponent, even without an arm. Satsu says there are several women with her at one time.  Most as strong as her. They will not be easy to defeat. We can cripple their power, but the rest of you must understand what this entails.”  She made eye contact with the new slayers. “We stop the order. By any means necessary. Olivia is the catalyst and I fear we have no choice where she is concerned.  She’s made it clear she wants to harm Joy.  She’s dangerous to us alive.  The rest of the women, as Satsu said, have varying loyalty.”

 

Screw that, I thought.  “Varying? So what, we can’t hurt them – is that what you’re saying?”

 

“What are we supposed to do?” Ken asked.  “Take them for tea and discuss our feelings?”

 

“No,” Red sighed.  “I am saying that we shouldn’t go in there with the intent to massacre everyone we see. We have ways of containing them. And we can strip them of their powers,” she looked at the younger goddesses who nodded.  “They will be powerless forever.  It’s punishment enough.”

 

“It doesn’t sound like fucking punishment enough,” I argued.

 

“I agree,” B whispered.  She was being uncharacteristically quiet. 

 

“Buffy. Faith,” Giles started.  “Please understand this is not a revenge mission.  We are sending you there for two distinct purposes: stop the order and save your daughter.  Your revenge will lead to rage and rage will cloud your judgment.”

 

“I feel like I’ve done a pretty good fucking job of containing my rage here, G. I haven’t killed Satsu. I didn’t kill Samantha.” I started pacing. “And I can tell you one thing… I’ve fucking wanted too.”

 

Satsu looked down.  She began to speak and then stopped herself.

 

“What?” I growled at her.  “You’ve got nothing to say? Wanna apologize? Because at this point, I fucking dare you,”

 

“Faith,” B said. “Why don’t you hold the baby?”

 

She handed me Joy.  Every time I started to get upset, someone would shove the baby at me.  I wasn’t stupid but I sure the hell wasn’t gonna complain.

 

“Channel that,” Angel whispered to me.  “Use it against the person that counts.”

 

I nodded at him and held the baby against my chest.  I rubbed her back.  It sucked that we were going to leave her.  I didn’t know how I felt about that.  Well, I did… I fucking hated it.  But, Angel loved her. So did Dawn, Xander, and Andy. And the other people in the room definitely realized her importance.  I have to say that there weren’t that many people on the earth that wanted to run around sticking a dagger in a baby.  Which was a good fucking thing, when you came to think about it.

 

“So what exactly is the plan, then?” Buffy asked.

 

“Satsu has given us Olivia’s coordinates. She’s not far from London. We will transport everyone about a half a mile from her compound.  She’s got a barrier like us, but it shouldn’t be difficult to weaken.” The other witches nodded.  So much for everyone brushing their teeth earlier.

 

“And after we are finished vomiting our guts up?” Ken asked.

 

“Yeah, while you’re doing that, we’ll work on taking the barrier down.” Red informed her. She had that nonchalant attitude of I don’t get sick so I don’t get what the big deal is.  It kinda made me want to gag her. 

 

“After?” I asked again, getting her back on task.

 

“Right. Once we get the barrier down, we attack. We can cloak everyone until we get to their compound but once we’re there, we have to focus all of our strength on taking their powers.  That means you’ll be visible.  Attack Olivia first. I have a feeling we’ll be able to sense very easily those who are not a threat.” 

 

“What about them?” I asked, motioning towards the goddesses.

 

“We are going to make sure that Ate doesn’t rise and that no one leaves the compound. If Olivia does escape, we will transport back here.”

 

“And once Olivia is dead?” Satsu asked.

 

Ugh, I was about to ask that.  I wished she’d just shut the fuck up and let me talk.

 

“Once we’re certain that she is gone and that no one else can or will harm the baby, we will send those of you who need to be back immediately to the castle through transport,” Red said.  “The rest of you can take the jet.”

 

Satsu shook her head.  “That’s not what I meant. I mean, how are we going to certain that it this gonna be over.”

 

The oldest goddess stepped forward.  “This Olivia is the threat that must be eliminated in order to stop the rise of Ate. Her death will bring about the end of the order.  It must be the first priority.” She walked up to me and put her creepy, wrinkly hand on my baby. “As for the child, you have much more to do.  But that does not concern most of us in this room. “ She turned to her sisters that were going with us. “If she arrives, you know what you must do.  She will not be in corporal form.”

 

Whoa. Hold the fuck up.

 

“Excuse me?” Ken said.

 

“She can appear,” another of the sisters said.  “And she is enchanting, but she will not be corporal.  Not real.  Please do not let her discourage you from the task at hand.  We will handle her.”

 

Okay, well I sure the fuck didn’t like that little revelation.  “So, what? She can’t like do anything?  Just stand around being all hot and manipulative and shit? Cause that sounds like it could be a problem.”

 

“Not if you are focused,” she answered me.  She turned around and looked at the other slayers.  “You must ignore her.  If you do not and she is able to persuade you… we will incapacitate you.”

 

They all nodded at her.  That didn’t sound like any fucking fun.

 

“Buffy. Faith.” Red said.  “The two of you are point. Take Olivia down as soon as we get there.  Use the scythe.”

 

We both nodded at her. 

 

“Okay.” She said and clapped her hands, a hell of a lot cheerier than she should be. “We leave in ten.  Everyone do whatever it is that you need to do before we go.  You know, like go to the bathroom and stuff…” Like we were goin a goddamn road trip.

 

B walked over to me and put her arms around me.  She kissed the baby’s back.  “I love you. Both,” she whispered.

 

“We love you too,” I told her kissing her forehead.  I tried to hand her the baby so she could kiss her properly. She shook her head at me. “What is it?”

 

“I can’t hold her right now.” She was close to tears.

 

“Why not, babe?” I asked her.  I was still trying to hand her Joy.

 

She shook her head.  “No. If I pick her up, I won’t put her down.”

 

“You can still stay, B.  I want you too.” I put my arm around her and pulled her to me. Please, I was begging whatever entity was listening… please, let her decide to stay.

 

“I know you do. But I can’t.  We need to finish this.” Damn.

 

“I can finish it without you.  I’d feel better with you here. Protecting her.” And protecting yourself, I thought, but didn’t add.

 

“The feeling goes both ways, Faith.” She touched my cheek.  “I think Joy will be okay.  I’m worried about you.”

 

“I’m the daddy, though B.  I’m supposed to do the worrying.”

 

She laughed. “That’s ridiculous. One – you aren’t the daddy…”

 

“Not what Marie Therese says…”

 

Buffy looked thoughtful.  Wish I hadn’t brought the bitch’s name up now.  She shook her head trying to clear it.  “And two – moms worry too, doofus.”

 

I sighed and ran my free hand through my hair.  “We’re at an impasse here, aren’t we?”

 

She nodded. She kissed Joy’s back again. Her forehead.  Her arms. 

 

“Hold her, baby.  Don’t be stubborn.” She was so damn stubborn.  It could get aggravating.

 

She did take the baby though.  And then she showered her with about six dozen more kisses.  I couldn’t really judge though – I was doing the same.

 

“Ready to go?” Ken asked, walking up.

 

We both nodded reluctantly.  After six dozen more kisses, we both walked over to Angel.

 

“Protect her,” B said to him.

 

“Seriously,” I added. “Or I’ll stake the shit out of you when I get back.”

 

He didn’t acknowledge my threat.  I hoped he knew I wasn’t kidding.  We kissed the baby one more time and moved to the other side of the room.

 

“Everyone ready?” Red asked.

 

We all nodded. Everyone moved to the opposite side of the room, facing the ones staying behind.  I sorta imagined we all looked like we were going to our execution. I based this on the fact that everyone gave us that look of sorry you’re going to your execution. It wasn’t that fucking comforting.

 

“Okay, so you guys need to grab hands with someone, because that just makes it easier,” she said to the fucked half of the room.

 

B grabbed my hand and squeezed.  I squeezed back. I held the scythe in the other.

 

Satsu grabbed Kennedy’s.

 

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” Ken said.

 

“OWW!” Satsu screamed.  Apparently K squeezed her hand as well.  Nice going.

 

“Okay,” Red said, looking at the witches.  “Let’s do this.”

 

I kept my eyes trained on Joy.  Angel was holding her around the waist and she was bouncing… watching us.  I loved to watch her bounce when she was awake. Her eyes were so big and it was almost like she knew we were about to do something spectacular – like poof out of the room or something.  She looked happy. Like she was having the best time in the world.  She was even clapping her little hands together while she was bouncing.  I’d never seen her do that before.

 

“B,” I started, “look at her.  She’s…”

 

And blackness.

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 29

 

First things first, I knew that I was wishing for too much – I wanted to save my baby and save the day and all, but I was hoping against freaking hope that this little adventure would be the last goddamn time we ever had to transport anywhere.

 

Witches and goddesses aside, every single one of us was doubled over vomiting our guts up.  Except fucking Buffy…

 

“You okay, baby?” She asked, rubbing my back.  She had taken the scythe from the ground when I not so gracefully dropped it while heaving dramatically. 

 

I shook my head, still not standing.  “Why are you not sick?” I managed to mumble out.

 

She shrugged. “Don’t know.  Felt a lot worse, I guess.” She continued to rub my back. “Poor baby.  That’s a sucky feeling huh?”

 

I started to answer her, but Ken moaned first.  “Mmm-hmm,” she said.

 

Oh whatever. She totally wasn’t talking to her. And then B propped the scythe against her leg and rubbed Ken’s back too. 

 

“Whatever,” I groaned. 

 

“What? She’s sick too,” B said by way of explanation. 

 

“Let her damn girlfriend rub her back,” I muttered, standing up. I wiped my mouth on the back of my sleeve.

 

Ken stood up. “She’s busy.” She motioned with her head at Red who actually was busy chanting something with the other witches. Kennedy smiled at B. Damn it.

 

I decided to just turn my jealousy inward so I could use it to fight these bitches. And by bitches I meant the order and not K and B.  Though I did often feel like bitch slapping both of them. 

 

Once everyone had stopped with the dramatic group puking, Red walked over to us. Nice to know in a time of crisis, she could keep a distance. “The barrier is down and we’re hidden. We can only cloak everyone until we get there though. You’ll have to be fast.”

 

“Everyone ready?” Buffy asked.

 

We all nodded. No one liked going into battle not knowing what to expect.  We didn’t know how many people were going to be there.  We didn’t know what we were going to be up against.  It didn’t, however, stop us from following the witches.

 

I walked up to one of the sisters. She seemed lost in thought.  If goddesses got lost in thought, I guessed. I hadn’t forgotten that they knew what was going on at the castle. “Everything okay?” 

 

“Yes,” she replied.  “There is no trouble at your home.”

 

“So what is it then?”

 

She frowned. “I am sorry.  Ate is troublesome to us.  I realize you have much at stake here, but my sister… she is still my sister, do you understand?”

 

I shook my head.  I didn’t have a sister. Or at least not one I was aware of. I wasn’t fucking sure where my father was. Or if he even was for that matter.

 

I turned around and looked for B.  She was hanging back with Satsu.  I didn’t want to fucking know what they were talking about.  “I don’t have a sister.  Buffy does though.” I thought for a moment. “But she didn’t at first. Apparently, she was implanted into our memories.  That really sounds screwed up when I say it out loud.”

 

She nodded back at me.  “The Key. Yes.  Those monks were efficient at least.  Sisters, though we are, I do realize what a mess she is making of your life.  I wish it were not so. I am very sorry you have to go through this.  Your daughter is special and you love her very much.  It does not take a goddess to know that.”

 

I looked away from her.  I still felt bad about leaving Joy behind.

 

“Were you always this serious?” She asked me.

 

“I guess. I can’t remember ever just being… carefree, if that’s what you’re after.” I kicked a stone in front of me and shoved my hands in my pocket. B was holding the scythe now.

 

“You pretended though?”  It was an innocent question.

 

“Yeah. I kinda had to. No big.”  And I had.  I pretended to find the fun.  Really funny when you think about it. I’d disappear for fucking days at a time back in Sunnydale. I always wondered if the Scoobs knew where I was.  Or if they gave a shit for that matter.  It was kinda sad when I thought about it. I did a lot of fucked up things back then to escape. I didn’t particularly want them knowing. So I was kinda glad they had never asked.

 

She nodded. “Humans surprise me still. So much you don’t see. The two of you…” she motioned with her hand to B, “… you are very different.  Yet a lot alike.  You both have a lot of pain in you.  It is so different though. Two halves of a very distinct whole.”

 

I wanted to ask her name, but I knew I shouldn’t. I hadn’t taken the time to differentiate between any of the goddesses that were helping us.  I should’ve probably at least taken an interest in them. Who the hell just walks around with goddesses?  But, I had other shit on my mind.  The one I was talking to was young.  Not the youngest, but appearance wise, she was about my age I guessed.  They were all blond too.  That was weird.  Not the old one, but I figured she was blond in her time.  Whenever the fuck that was. 

 

“Does she look like you? Ate? I mean I know she’s supposed to be dark and all exotic or some shit, but you guys all look eerily alike.”  Except for the inexplicable age difference, I refrained from adding.

 

She shook her head.  “No… it is complicated. But the short answer is no. You are right – she is dark. Much like you.”

 

Right. Welcome to the story of my freaking life.  “I guess that explains the whole two halves things with B and me.”

 

“No, humans are different.  Color is of no importance.  You are smarter than that.” She half-smiled at me.  “You like to think of yourself as the one that went astray.  I guess you did for a time.  But life is very fluid.  For mortals anyway. You change with time and knowledge. And love. It is what makes you so interesting to us.  You have such a short time on earth.  Each of you. And yet you spend it hurting each other. So many people never escape that hurt, Faith. But you… you are not dark in that sense. Neither of you are. You do not need to be.”

 

I couldn’t imagine the shit these women had seen.  It was weird that they knew so much.  “Can you see the future?”

 

“Somewhat,” she sighed.  “However we are bound by laws older than man.  I could not tell you even if I wanted to.” She smirked. “Which I do not, by the way.”

 

“I wasn’t asking.  I was just wondering what it was like…”

 

“We don’t see our own future, if that is what you are asking.  We are immortal.  There is little point.  We can see paths that mortals have though.  You have several. Decisions and the will of others play a big role in what happens to you.  To any human.  If you are asking about your daughter’s prophesies… Nothing is set in stone.  It never is.  Like I said, life is fluid.”

 

I nodded at her.  It was good to know. It didn’t help a whole fucking lot, but still, good to know.  “Thanks,” I murmured.

 

She patted my back.  “You have much to do. I know that your life thus far was not like Buffy’s.  You have seen many things that no one should have to see.  Experienced things that weaker humans would have crumbled under. You would do yourself a favor to understand that.   You were called for a reason.  Just like Buffy. Just like all of these girls here. But you are also different. One day you will understand.” She smiled at me.  “And Joy… still fine.”

 

“I’m glad you guys came.  And if I forget later… thank you for everything,” I said, as she moved off to join her sisters.

 

“Letha,” she winked.  “Because I know you were wondering.”

 

I slowed down a bit and B and Satsu caught up with me.

 

“What was that about?” Buffy asked.

 

I shrugged. “Nothing.  Never really had a conversation with a goddess before. Just wanted to thank them.” I decided to ignore Satsu.  “She also said Joy was fine.  All is well on the home front I guess.”

 

“Well good… that’s good. One less thing to worry about.” She grabbed my hand. “She’s pretty, huh?” She said, motioning at Letha.

 

“I guess,” I mumbled.

 

Satsu scoffed. “Don’t be a fool, Buffy. If you think Faith is interested in anyone but you… you’re more than blind.  You’re dumb.”

 

“I’m just tolerating your ass right now, Satsu.  Keep that in fucking mind.”

 

B squeezed my hand.  “Stop, Faith. Okay?” She smiled up at me. I swear to god, I could totally drown in her eyes.  Cliché and all.

 

I smiled at her and kissed her nose.  “Okay.”

 

“See,” Satsu said. 

 

I growled, but she walked off and B wouldn’t let go of my hand.  Before I could pry it out of hers, Red spoke up.

 

“We’re here,” she said.

 


 

We were standing about fifty yards or so from a typical English cottage nestled on a hillside and shit.  It didn’t look that big. I knew looks could be deceiving when it came to these bitches so it probably had like a basement in hell or something.

 

“What do we do?” Ken asked.

 

“The barrier is down,” another of the witches said.  “We’ve destroyed it.”

 

Red nodded. “And we’re still cloaked.” She closed her eyes for a moment.  “Olivia’s inside.  With…” she concentrated, scrunching her face in that distinct Red way she has. “…eight others.”

 

Eight didn’t sound that bad.  We could take nine witches. Well, we couldn’t because of the fact they were witches but we had witches on our side, which definitely evened the goddamn playing field.

 

“We’ve got to bind them fast though,” another one said.  “We don’t want Olivia leaving the grounds.”

 

Red nodded. “You need to move. We’ll start here. Slayers inside. They’ll be weak. Take Olivia out first. She’s definitely the strongest. We will come in shortly thereafter to deal with the rest.” She looked at Ken.  “Be careful.  They want be without powers, but they won’t be able to leave.  They can still hurt you. Go.  And when we give you the go-ahead, swarm… or whatever it is you do.”

 

“What’s the signal?” Ken asked.

 

“Me yelling ‘go,’” she said.

 

“Right. That was stupid of me to ask.” Ken answered.

 

Red nodded at her.  “Be careful,” she said, kissing her.

 

Ken nodded back and we began to move to the side of the house.  I could hear the witches chanting.  We had about twenty slayers and three immortal women. Odds were in our favor. At least I kept telling myself that.

 

B stepped forward.  In situations like this, those of us who knew her knew it was best to let the General come out. I had a feeling she’d be swinging that axe at our heads if we didn’t. 

 

She didn’t say anything, just pointed with her weapon in different directions so that the house was surrounded. A lot of the girls had brought weapons. Some had swords. I had a dagger shoved in my boot. So did K. 

 

We stood in position for what seemed like ten forevers. B was on my right and K was on my left. Satsu was standing next to Buffy. I wished she’d sent her to the other side of the fucking house, but whatever.  The goddesses were standing behind us. We started fidgeting after a few seconds.  We were waiting on Red. I was starting to wonder if she yelled and we didn’t hear her.  I should have known better.

 

“Go!” She screamed in the goddamn loudest yell I’d ever heard.

 

We were standing outside the front entrance.  Even as B knocked down the fucking door with the scythe I could hear the other slayers shattering glass and doing the same thing to the back door.

 

“Ready?” Ken said.

 

“Nope, but no choice,” I told her, following B inside.

 

I heard screaming even before we got inside.  I wasn’t sure if that was from our side or not.

 

“Focus,” Letha said from behind me.

 

I nodded. The lights inside the house were bright and it took us a second to adjust our eyes. 

 

“Surprise,” B said quietly, when we walked through the door.

 

In front of us was Olivia.  There were, just like Red said, eight other women standing in a semi-circle around her. Several had their backs to us, staring at the slayers flooding through their fucking weird ass house.

 

Olivia didn’t say anything and started chanting. 

 

“No!” B screamed and lunged at her.  She had the same feeling I did probably and that was that this bitch was trying to send herself to the castle to get our baby.

 

Olivia raised her hand slightly and Buffy was thrown against the wall. It was so fast and so hard that it almost looked like she had been thrown off a fucking building – except sideways. The cracking sound that I heard when she hit her head made me nauseous.  But I had to bite it back down.

 

“You fucking bitch,” I said, bending down to pick up the scythe.  I felt Satsu run over to B.  I was glad though.  Because I couldn’t. “I’ve been waiting for six months to fucking finish you.”

 

She opened her eyes and stared at me.  I could tell by the look on her face that she had just realized she couldn’t magic herself out of here.  “You cut off my arm.” She said so matter-of-factly it made me want to cut the fucking other one off.

 

I smirked. “I should have cut off your head.”

 

I could feel some of the others around me struggling.  I knew that they were fighting with the witches.  The other women were strong and they were able to put up a fight. And take it from one who knew, it was hard to figure out how to fight magic.  So it was kind of weird that there was this eerie calm surrounding me and her. I had pretty much tuned most everything else out.  That included B. If I thought about Buffy at the moment, it would have made me falter.

 

“You can’t stop me,” she said.  “I have been waiting years for this.  I will kill you both before you try.” She had a sword in her hand.  I didn’t know where the fuck it came from.  She hadn’t had it like five seconds earlier.

 

“Your witches may be able to keep me from your daughter,” she smiled, stalking towards me, “but not from you.”

 

I moved to raise the axe and I realized I couldn’t.  My arms were completely limp.  The fucking thing felt like it weighed two tons.  I couldn’t even budge it.  I looked over quickly at the sisters.  They were standing in the corner, completely out of the fray. They said they couldn’t get involved unless they had to. 

 

“Ken!” I screamed.  She was behind Olivia, battling with some type of dog/demon that one of the other witches had managed to call up.  It was fucking huge. I did a quick scan of the room while she was moving towards me.  There were several other hell dogs growling at the slayers.  One of the witches was dead.  Another one had to have been mortally wounded, considering a sword was sticking out of her stomach. 

 

Before K could move and get to me though, Olivia pounced.  And really fucking fast for an old broad. This was that moment that I saw my life flash before my eyes.  Because arms weak and legs… motherfucking stuck in place.  She’d obviously put me under a spell.  I was about to fucking die and not even be able to defend myself. B was unconscious on the other side of the room. And my daughter was going to be killed. I closed my eyes.

 

And then I heard Olivia scream, “Why?!?”

 

When I opened my eyes, she was standing two feet in front of me.  A sword ran through her stomach.  Standing beside me, holding the hilt was Satsu. “Because I had to make it right…” she told her, twisting it.

 

I was able to move then and I grabbed the scythe off the ground.  I didn’t have time to process what just happened. But I felt the fucking energy leave the room when Olivia died.  I swung the scythe over my head, killing the dog that Ken was fighting. The fucking thing was three times the size of any goddamn dog I’d ever seen. 

 

“Holy shit, thanks.” She muttered, trying to catch her breath.  “I was about to be kibble.”  She grabbed the scythe. “Go.  Check on Buffy.  I’ve got the others.”

 

I nodded. Red and the other witches walked in and were dealing with the women left.  Apparently they’d come up with some place to send them so that they could permanently bind their powers.

 

I ran up to B. She was still unconscious. The back of her head was bleeding. “B,” I grabbed her and pulled her to me. “Buffy? Can you hear me?” She was hurt worse than I had let myself believe. 

 

Satsu hit her knees beside me.  “It’s bad.” She put her hand on my back.  “We should get her back to the castle.”

 

I nodded. I was trying not to cry. “Red!” I screamed.

 

She ran over. “How bad?”

 

“Bad. Can you heal her?” I was starting to lose control of my breathing.  I didn’t want to freak out, but… I was totally on overload at this point.

 

“Yes,” she turned to the others.  “Do you have this?”

 

They nodded to her.

 

She turned back to me.  “They’ll send you back shortly. I’m taking her. I can’t take you too and be strong enough to heal her.”  She closed her eyes for a moment and then picked B up.  I didn’t know she was that strong and then I realized… duh, magic. “She’ll be okay. But you’ve still got work to do. Get everything you can find on Ate. Everything Olivia had.”

 

I kissed B’s cheek.  “I love you.”

 

Red nodded, like she was answering for her.  “Go!” She said and then fucking disappeared. 

 

I knew that Olivia was dead.  But there were several other fucking women in this room.  They were all responsible for this.  I was in that blind rage stage I’d tried so goddamn hard to avoid. But all I kept thinking was that they tried to kill my daughter and may have killed the woman I loved. I slid my hand down to my boot and took out my dagger.  I stalked over to the woman closest to me…

 

“Faith, don’t!” Satsu said.  She grabbed my arm. I was about to fight her off when a light flashed and I was momentarily blinded. 

 

“Useless mortal,” I heard.

 

It took a moment for my eyes to adjust to the lights again.

 

When they did though… well, in the middle of the room was a girl. About eighteen or so. She had black hair and piercing blue eyes.  Eyes that I knew without a doubt weren’t human.

 

“I should have known better than to trust someone without patience.” She stepped over Olivia’s body and rolled her eyes.  “My mistake.”

 

Every one of us stopped fighting.  In fact, we all stopped moving.  No one could do anything but stare at her.  She tilted her head sideways when her eyes landed on me.  “Where’s the other one?”

 

Letha stepped out of the shadows.  “She was injured. But their witch is strong. Hello sister,” she said as her sisters followed.

 

If I had any doubt that this chick wasn’t a teenager (she had on a damn skirt for god’s sake), it was all the more evident by the fact that she put her hand on her hip and pursed her lips up in a pout.  “Seriously? This sucks. Who called you?”  She actually sounded like she was from the goddamn valley.  I hated valley girls.

 

“This is not going to go the way you wanted it,” another of the goddesses said.

 

I felt Ken move up beside me. “Holy shit,” she muttered.

 

I nodded back. And then the girl turned to look at me. “You’re not scared of me. But you should be. I mean not know obviously since you killed my witch.  But I have time. Seventeen years is like a month for me. Or something.  But you… you’re gonna sleep every night knowing that I’m coming. Knowing that I’ve got something else planned.” She motioned with her hand to her sisters. “And they know it too. Nothing they can do about it. Nothing any of you can,” she said to the room.  “I love a good party though, so… I can’t wait.  Thing is… you’ll be all old and stuff then.  But me… I’ll still be this age.  And this hot.”

 

“Won’t happen.” I said.

 

She shrugged. “We’ll see.” She turned away from me. I moved towards her with my dagger. She turned around quickly and grabbed it from me.  And plunged it in her stomach… And then she pulled it right the fuck back out.  “Can’t hurt me.  Not now. Not then.” She looked at Letha. “Pointless for you to come, I guess.”

 

“You are making a mistake, Ate.”

 

“Nah.” She pulled a strand of gum out of her mouth.  Seriously, the bitch was chewing gum.  My head was fucked to say the least.  “I’m just having some fun.”

 

And then she vanished.  We were all sort of left staring at each other. 

 

“Where’d she go?” I asked her sisters. 

 

“Home,” they said in unison.

 

“Take my hand,” Letha said, offering one to me and Ken.  “Once the others are dealt with and they’ve searched the house, the witches can send some back and the rest of you can take your airplane, right?” She asked, looking at Satsu.

 

“Go,” Satsu said.

 

I nodded at her. 

 

I hadn’t liked what that airheaded bitch had said.  Even though she was about as scary as my big toe.  Well… until she’d stabbed herself with no harm. That was fucked up.

 

But I had bigger things to worry about.  Right now – that was getting back to the castle and back to Buffy.

 

“This is a little different,” Letha said.  “You’ll want to close your eyes.”

 

The last thing I heard was Kennedy’s voice.  “That does not sound fucking promising….”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 30

 

So, first things first – no vomiting.  I wasn’t sure if that was because we had our eyes closed or not, but if we were gonna have to transport anymore, it would be nice to have Letha on our speed dial.

 

We were standing outside of the castle.  Ken’s face was a mixture of what I was feeling – sorta awe and suspense, like “when are we gonna get sick” face… I told you she had that waiting for the other shoe to drop mentality.

 

“Wow,” she said.  “So that was different.”

 

Letha nodded, moving towards the house.  “I have been doing it much longer than your witch.”

 

“Why’d you tell us to close our eyes?” I asked her.

 

“Why not?” She replied.

 

Okay, not the explanation I was going for but whatever.  I needed to get inside the castle.

 

We ran to the front door and K threw it open.  Andrew and Xander met us. 

 

“You guys okay?” Xander asked.

 

I nodded, pushing past them.  “Where’s B? Joy?”

 

“The baby is in there with Dawnie.  She’s fine,” Andy started.  He looked at Xander. I hated those fucking looks.

 

“And Buffy?” Ken asked for me.

 

“She’s upstairs,” Xander finally said.  “Will and Giles are with her.” He turned to Letha.  “Your sisters are through there.  Marie Therese and the others went to the help in England once we found out that Olivia was dead.”

 

I was looking to the door where Joy was and at the stairs.  Fucking choices, and all.

 

“Go,” Ken said, nodding towards upstairs.  “I’ll get Joy and bring her up.”

 

“Thanks,” I whispered. I ran up the stairs as fast as I could. Again, let me stress how thankful I was I was not puking this time.

 


 

Our bedroom door was shut and I could hear Red chanting.  I knew better than to go through that door when she was working her magic… literally.  The least she could do was throw me against the wall.  The most – do more harm to B than good.  I didn’t want to chance it. 

 

Ken came walking up behind me holding the baby.  “Some of the slayers are being sent back.  Angel’s with to them.  A few were hurt but the witches said it wasn’t serious. The rest are searching the house and flying back.”

 

“Good,” I said. I took the baby from her and kissed her cheeks. “Is my baby okay?” I asked Joy.

“I wish she’d answer you just once, so I could see your face,” Ken said. “What’s going on?” She asked, motioning to the door.

 

“Don’t know. I didn’t want to go in, with your girl doing her thing.” I was bouncing the baby as much to distract me as to keep her happy.

 

Ken put her ear to the door.  “It’s quiet now,” she whispered.  I nodded at her and she knocked.

 

“Come in,” Giles said from the other side. 

 

We opened the door. “How is she?” I asked them.

 

“I healed her,” Red said.  She walked up and hugged Ken. “I need a nap, but I did it.”

 

I walked over to the bed.  B was laying back, her head on a pillow, eyes closed.  “She’s still unconscious.”

 

Giles shook his head.  “No. Asleep.  She’ll wake up with a headache, but all in all, she’s been through much worse.”  He patted my shoulder.

 

“You guys are sure?” I asked him.  It wasn’t that I didn’t believe them it was just… well shit was never just simple, was it?

 

“Positive,” Red said.  “How are the rest of them?” She asked Ken.

 

Ken and she walked out into the hall, probably to talk about what went down back at Olivia’s. I held the baby to me and sat down on the bed next to B and took her hand in mine.

 

“Are you sure, G?”

 

He nodded. “I assure you she is fine. Willow knows what she is doing. Did anything happen after Willow and Buffy left?”

 

I moved the baby to my lap.  She was bouncing on my knees. “Ate showed up. She’s pretty much a teenager. Seriously, she was chewing gum and shit. She said she’d be waiting. And she’d see us in seventeen years.”

 

“That doesn’t sound promising,” he sighed.  “I assume she was not in corporal form?”

 

“Nope. I tried to stab her. She grabbed the knife and stabbed herself in the stomach.” I was still picturing her face.  I couldn’t believe how unscary she actually looked. The fact that she was probably the most terrifying thing I’d ever have to deal with did not sit well with me.

 

He shook his head.  “If she could take the knife from you, she was corporal.”

 

I shrugged. “Whatever.  She was impervious.” It was hard for me to keep the list of evil beings’ super powers straight sometimes.  “She shoved the thing straight through her gut and didn’t flinch.”

 

He didn’t show any emotion. “I see.  And nothing?”

 

“Nope. Nada.  Like I said, she didn’t flinch.” I blew a kiss at the baby. “Or bleed for that matter.”

 

“That is interesting.” He took off his glasses and sat next to me. “ And she said, seventeen years, correct?”

 

“Yep.”

 

“So, when Joy turns eighteen, I’m to assume?” He asked me.

 

I shrugged. “I guess, Giles.” I rubbed B’s leg. She was still sleeping. “What’s with the grilling?”

 

He made a face at Joy.  “She certainly is a lovely baby, isn’t she?” 

 

“Uh yeah…” I hated when he’d change topics like that midsentence.  I could never keep up with him. 

 

He stood up and held his arms out for Joy.  I kissed her on the forehead and handed her to him.  He didn’t hold her very often.  And usually when he did he was holding her like a football or something that was gonna drool on him… which she did a lot, so that was fair I guess. He held her to him though, so he’d gotten better.  “I haven’t had a chance to talk to you, Faith.”

 

“Right,” I nodded.  So it was gonna be one of those talks. 

 

“I guess you could say… I’m concerned.  You’ve been through a lot.” He looked at B.  “So has Buffy, but…”

 

“Whatcha getting at, G?”

 

“I just want you to know that you have someone, Faith.  If you needed to know.  I worry about both of you.  I realize you are both…” he cleared his throat.  “…grown women, but I’m afraid I can’t stop thinking of you as just girls. And now, well with Joy… I suppose I’m not good at showing that I worry, am I?”

 

I laughed. “Sorry to break it to you, G, but worry is about all you show.”

 

“Ah, yes.” He cleared his throat.  “I do love each of you too. You know that?”

 

Not that that was revelation or anything but dude never said it.  “Yeah, I know.” I whispered. “Us too…” I added.

 

“Yes, yes. All good, then.” He handed Joy back to me and walked out of the room.  “Let us know when she wakes will you?”

 

I nodded. I probably didn’t say it enough but I was glad he was around.  Sometimes I felt like we were all just playing at being adults.  It was good to have a real one living with us. It was funny though. For G – that was a heartfelt conversation.  You had to appreciate the British.

 


 

B turned over on her side but didn’t wake up.  I held the baby to me and scooted up against the headboard.  “Your mom’s certainly a fan of getting knocked the hell out, isn’t she?”  She giggled and started clapping her hands together.  “…and I expect you to answer me…  I sorta wish you could talk.  Not that it wouldn’t be weird and shit, but when B’s all in lala land it’d be nice to have a conversation with someone.”  She giggled again.

 

I tried to think about what she’d be like in seventeen years.  It was a hard thought to process.  “You think you’ll be a shortie, like your mom here?” I rubbed B’s head.  “I mean look at her, she’s like toddler sized.  The other day I put the shampoo at the top of the shower and she’s all ‘Faith, ugh… I can’t reach it.’ Ha! I had to go in there and get it for her.  She needs a stool or something.”

 

“I am not toddler sized,” Buffy said suddenly.

 

“Oh god, Buffy… Jesus… how long have you been awake?” I bent down and kissed her forehead. “You keep scaring the shit out of me like that and I’m gonna have to break it off.”

 

She sat up and took the baby.  “Please. You keep calling me toddler sized and I’m gonna kick your butt so far… “ she scrunched up her nose. “Never mind.  Is she okay?” 

 

I nodded. “Yep.  No clue we just about died.”

 

“So what happened?  I mean after my enormous head trauma.” She thought for a second.  “Hey, how am I okay?”

 

“Red. She poofed you back here. Satsu killed Olivia,” I sighed.

 

B raised her eyebrow.  “Wow… really?”

 

I nodded. “Yeah. And that’s not all…”

 

“What else?” She asked.  She kissed the baby’s forehead.  “I love when she giggles…”

 

I frowned. “Ate showed up.”

 

“What!?! Is she here now?!?  Did she hurt anyone!?!” She held the baby to her tighter and Joy started fidgeting.

 

I patted her leg and gently pulled the baby out of her grip. “Calm down. She’s not here. I don’t think we’ll see her for a while.”

 

Her face was a mask of sheer panic.  “What does that mean? What did she say?”

 

I handed the baby back to her when I was certain she wasn’t gonna squeeze her to death. “She stabbed herself with my dagger. Up until that point she seemed like a normal teenage girl. Albeit a hot one…”

 

She huffed. “Seriously? Focus…”

 

“She stabbed herself with my dagger and nothing.  It was a helluva lot like the mayor come to think on it.  It just slid right through her.  Then she popped some bubble gum and said she’d seen us in seventeen years,” I told her.

 

She gasped. “No…” She sat back against the headboard and sighed.  “And until then… what then? How many things are we going to have to fight, Faith?  How many demons and gods and vampires are going to try and hurt her?”

 

I shrugged. “Honestly?  Probably a lot, babe.”

She turned her head from me and kissed Joy.  I heard her breath hitch.

 

I wrapped one arm around her back and the other one under her knee and pulled her to me. “But it doesn’t matter,” I said, kissing the side of her head.

 

She snuggled against my chest.  “Why not?”

 

“Because she’s got the two badass-est moms in the world,” I told her and kissed her again. “And we aren’t going to let anything fucking touch her.”

 

She took a breath.  “We’re gonna have to.” She giggled.  “And you’re gonna have to watch your mouth.  Her first word is going to turn Giles’s hair white.”

 

I smiled at her.  “I don’t know B. You’re asking a helluva lot. Aren’t parents supposed to be all do as I say not as I do?”

 

“Bad parents, F.”

 

“Damn it. I’ll try.”

 

She laughed. “No you won’t. But thank your for saying it.” She reached up and kissed me.  “I love you, Faith Lehane.”

 

“Well thank god, I was worried for a while you were gonna run back to Satsu,” I teased. “Or Ken…”

 

“Come on now, you know I don’t want Satsu.”

 

“Or Ken…” I said.

 

She shrugged.

 

“Aww, damn it B.  You’re an ass.” I was mentally picturing throwing Kennedy out the window. Possibly Buffy as well, as soon as the baby was out of her arms.

 

“Why’s she an ass?” Kennedy asked, walking into the room.  She smiled at Buffy.  “Glad to see you’re back.  You’re getting to be quite the swooning princess.”

 

“Faith thinks we’re plotting to run away together…” B told her.

 

“Oh shit, how’d she find out?  I thought we were hiding it so well.” She sat down on the bed beside us.

 

“If I wasn’t holding B… well actually if she wasn’t holding the baby, I’d throw both your asses out the window.  Seriously.”

 

Ken laughed. “This will never get old. Never. When we are like seventy and your grandchildren are running around… it’ll still be fun.”

 

“Oh there will not be any grandchildren,” I told them.

 

B sat up. “Why not?”

 

“Because no one is going to touch her long enough to sire a goddamn grandchild… you two must be stupid.”  Oh my god, the things I would do to a boy… Jesus Christ, you didn’t want to know.

 

“Holy shit,” Ken laughed.  ‘I am never moving out.” She wiggled her eyebrow at B.  “Lucky you.”

 

Buffy giggled.

 

I threw a pillow at Kennedy.

 

Red walked in and looked at the two of them laughing and then at me. “Flirting?” She asked me.

 

“What do you think? And why don’t you ever get mad?”

 

She rolled her eyes.  I wish that was the only reaction I had.  “So, everyone is back. The sisters want to see you…”

 

We got up and followed her out.  She smacked Ken on the arm. 

“Ow… what was that for?” Ken said.

 

Red ignored her.  “Better, Faith?”

 

I nodded. “Yep, thanks Red.” I smiled at her. “Maybe you and I should start…”

 

“I swear to god Faith, you finish that sentence and we’ll see who goes out the window first,” Ken interjected.

 

I wrapped my arm around Red.  “Well you never know; I sorta like redheads.  I hear they’re minxes in…”

 

“I’ll dye my hair back!” B said. 

 

I let go of Red and pulled Buffy to me.  I kissed her hard on the lips.  I could feel the baby wiggling underneath us, so I pulled away.  “I love you, baby.”

 

She let go. “I love you too,” she said, breathlessly.

 

“Good, don’t forget it,” I told her.  I took the baby. “And I love you too,” I said kissing her nose.

 

“Oh good god,” Ken said.  “Let’s go see what the super sisters want.”

 


 

The five of them were in the front room with Giles when we got downstairs.

 

“We are glad to see you are okay,” the oldest one said.

 

B nodded at them. “Me too.  Tired of being knocked out, truthfully.  Hope that goes away.”

 

Another one nodded.  “It will now that Olivia is gone.” She looked to Satsu who I had just noticed was standing in the corner. 

 

“Thank you,” Buffy said, walking over to her.  “Faith told me what you did.” She hugged her.

 

Aw, fuck it. I didn’t tell her to do that now did I? I bit my fucking tongue though. I couldn’t kick her ass right now since she was the goddamn hero and all.

 

B turned and looked at me. I knew that fucking look.  Son of a bitch.  “Yeah, thanks…” I muttered.

 

I was saved by Letha putting her hand on my arm. “Regardless of who ended it, Olivia is gone. And half your battle is won.”

 

Sorta didn’t sound so awesome when she put it that way.  “Yeah… half,” I said to her.

 

“I’m sorry. I choose the wrong words. You have much time to prepare,” she turned to the rest of the room.  “All of you.”

 

“You will see us again,” the oldest one said.  “My sister will return.  It will not be long for us, but it will be for you.  Please do not forget what a threat she is.  We will stay in contact with you.  To help you prepare.”  She moved over to me and touched the baby’s head.  “She is special.  I would tell you to not forget that, but there is no need.” She touched my face then. “So are you,” she whispered. “You do forget that from time to time.”

 

“Thank you for coming,” Giles said to the oldest one.  “We appreciate all of the help you have given us. And will give us for that matter.”

 

“We will keep in touch,” Letha said to Red.  “If you have any trouble whatsoever, please do not hesitate to contact us,” she said, hugging her.

 

“We will. Definitely.” Red said. “Thanks.”

 

“Wait!” B said, suddenly.  “We have six months till her birthday… we’ll she be okay?  Is something going to happen?”

 

The oldest shook her head.  “The threat is dead for now. Again, another is coming. But you have time and we will help. As for others who may want to harm your baby, we know not.  But you must be aware that she has gifts and there will be others.”

 

I nodded. “We know.  There are always others.”

 

And there always would be.  Normally, when I was faced with these demons the slayer made the decisions. From here on out though, the mother would.  I wondered how different it would be.

 

“Will we see you ladies for the birthday extravaganza?” Andy asked the sisters. What the fuck was he talking about?

 

“What?” I asked.

 

Ken shook her head, kind of like don’t get him started.

 

Andy started giggling and clapping his hand. “We’ve already started planning little Joy’s first birthday.  Uncle Angel is going to get her a pony.”

 

Uncle Angel? Hahaha.  I turned to Angel.  He shrugged.  “We got bored. Andy says a pink pony. I’m not even sure that they exist.”

 

Red smiled. “Oh they do but they’re evil. So I’d just go with the regular kind.”

 

B came over and stood next to me.  She took the baby.  The others moved into the other room talking about the party and wishing the women well.

 

“So, we survived our first post-baby apocalypse…” she started.

 

“Yep. Now we’ve got to survive a one-year birthday party with pink evil horses and shit.  And then school.  And boys. And Jesus Christ, I’m just going to shut up now before I really freak myself out.”

 

B laughed. “Holy crap.  Those are a lot of apocalypses.” She picked up Joy’s feet and kissed them.  “You cause your mommies a lot of trouble,” she said, in her silly little baby talk she has.

 

“Dadadadada…” Joy said.  Wait… hold up….

 

I looked at Buffy.  She looked at me. “What the hell?” I asked her.

 

“It’s just babble, Faith.  The baby book said that she would do that.  Dada is a common first sound that babies make.” Her face was betraying her though. She was wanting to jump up and down and run into the other room telling her friends that our baby could talk.  She was refraining because of what Joy said.

 

Ken cam running in.  “Please tell me I heard that?!?” She was bouncing up and down. Jesus Christ… of course Ken would have heard it. Who else could have if you thought about irony and my life and all.

 

I turned to her. “B said it was just babble. Calm the fuck down.”

 

Kennedy took the baby from us and swung her around.  “You just called her dada, didn’t you?”

 

My little traitor baby did it again then.  “dadadada.”

 

Oh my god her voice was so adorable. I mean I knew babies had adorable voices but hers was like more adorable and stuff.  Even if she was fucking calling me dada.

 

“Guess what Joy called Faith?” Ken said, running with my baby into the other room.


B ran after them.

 


 

I stayed for a moment.  I wasn’t upset that she was calling me that.  If that’s what she was doing.  She could call me whatever the hell she wanted to… because I loved her.  And bonus points for me since she said my name first. Bet B wished she was the daddy now. Definitely means I’m gonna be the favorite.  At least that’s what my fucked up version of logic was telling me. 

 

“Faith,” B called from the other room.  “We can’t get her to say it.  Come in here and see if it works.”

 

I walked through the door and Joy saw me.  Joy was sitting on Kennedy’s knee and started clapping her hands again when she saw me. “Dadadadada.”

 

After a chorus of ‘awwws’ everyone agreed she was calling me dadadadadada (cause she was not saying just dada).

 

She was smiling on K’s knee.  And making complete eye contact with me.  Like I was the only person in the room.  When I walked over to them, she held up her arms to me, like she wanted me to pick her up. I reached down and took her and she did her little happy dance, while she sang dadadadadada over and over again.

 

I kissed the side of her head and closed my eyes.  I loved her more than I had ever loved anything in the world. There was nothing I wouldn’t do to protect. But… I also wanted her to be happy. I wanted her to be normal. I wanted….

 

“So Andy,” I said.  “Tell me about this birthday party.”

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 31

 

Two and half years later

 

“Good lord, Joy! Get down from there!” I yelled.

 

“It fun!” She screamed back at me.  She was standing on Ken’s shoulders.  Kennedy was holding her knees like that was a perfectly safe position for her to be in.

 

“No worries, Momma. I’ve got reflexes like a jungle cat,” Kennedy said, grinning more like a jackass than any cat I’d ever seen.

 

“Like cat,” my daughter repeated, smiling.

 

After Joy’s first birthday, I’d at least relaxed a little.  I mean we’d had run-ins.  The child of two slayers did not go unnoticed.  A stray vamp here and there… a couple of demons… but we’d stamped them out pretty quickly.  We hadn’t faced the big bad yet.  Of course, it was getting closer every day. 

 

Everyone was “looking into it.”  Which basically meant that we spent all of our free time researching ways to defeat Ate. We still weren’t even sure what we were up against.  How or what she’d try… it was hard not to think about it.

 

Besides the day-to-day threats of some evil being trying to harm my child, there was always Kennedy to worry about.  She was always scooping her up.  Throwing her in the air. Letting her stand on her goddamn shoulders. It was enough to give me a heart attack. 
 

“Please do me a favor… and put her two feet back on solid ground, before I kick your ass.” I told K.

 

“You absolutely suck the fun out of everything.” Kennedy said.  But she did put her down.

 

Joy ran up to me.  She was passed that stage where she waddled all baby like and for a three year old she was fast. Her dark hair was pulled back in a loose ponytail (thank B for that one, cause her hair caused me nothing but nightmares) and it was falling in her face.  She hit my knees and wrapped her arms around my legs.

 

“Wook at my shoes,” she said holding out her feet.  “Wights!”

 

I bent over and scooped her up.  “I know. They’re awesome, huh?” I hated those freaking shoes.

 

She nodded wisely and pushed her hair out of her eyes.  “Kennie is fun.  I wanna wide again.”

 

“No way, Jose.” I told her.

 

Kennedy sauntered up to me.  “And who do you love?” She asked Joy.

 

“Kennie!” Joy said, clapping her hands.

 

Oh for the love of all that was holy.  It was impossible to leave her alone with Ken for more than a few seconds at a time. I was pretty sure her brainwashing would be the death of me.

 

I rolled my eyes at Kennedy.  “You know that annoys me.”

 

She patted me on the back.  “She gets annoyed by everything. Doesn’t she?” She asked my daughter.

 

Joy nodded again like she understood any of what we were fucking saying. She was wiggling in my arms and I hated it.  She used to be completely content with me carrying her everywhere.  It would worry B because she was afraid she’d never learn to walk. But she was walking by nine months old. And after she got her balance, she was running.  And trust me, she could run.

 

“I want down,” she mumbled, struggling against me.

 

“Nope. Give me a hug.” I squeezed her to me. “And maybe if you give me a kiss too, I’ll let you down.”

 

She put her little arms around my neck and leaned back.  She was staring me in the eyes.  Trying to figure out if she should believe me or not, I guessed. “Okay, momma.” She relented and hugged me and kissed me on the cheek.  “Bedder?”

 

I pretended to think about it for a minute. “I guess…” I told her when she started wiggling like crazy.  I bent over and sat her back down on the ground.  She took off before I could even stand back up.  “Wait!” I yelled after her.  “You can’t run off!”

 

She stopped and put her little hand on her hip.  Her bottom lip was stuck out. Fucking Buffy and her mannerisms. “I not goin anywhere.”

 

“Right, like I believe that.” I said, motioning for her to come back. “You’re stuck with me and Ken until your mommy gets back.”

 


 

B, Red, and Dawn had gone into town.  Joy’s birthday was tomorrow and they were plotting something ridiculous and most likely dangerous.  Like a fucking bouncy house or something.  Obviously something that our kid and everyone else’s could break their freaking necks in. Even though we couldn’t let her out of our sight, she still had friends. There were several other slayers with kids around her age.  There was always someone running around the castle with her.  I would’ve preferred a low-key birthday party but nothing with Buffy was low-key. Hence those retarded light up shoes she was wearing.  Every damn demon trying to get her just had to follow the freaking blinking lights running at top speed. Of course, they’d have to catch her and good luck with that one…

 

She narrowed her eyes at me like she was contemplating running off anyway. She turned around and looked at the pond (the first place she always ran) and back at me.  “I…” she started.

 

“Don’t even think about.” I said, walking over to her.  “If you wanna go down there, you know we have to go with you.”

 

She was still pouting.  “There’s Uncle Xandy.” She got Xander and Andy’s name confused.  I think she thought they were one person.  Which did nothing but amuse the shit out of K and me. She pointed to them. I’m not sure what the fuck they were doing. Probably just getting out of the castle.  That place could make you go crazy.

 

“So?” I asked her.

 

She huffed like I was annoying.  Seriously, I wished I cared.  “Come on,” she said grabbing my hand.  She grabbed Ken’s hand too. “Can we swing?” She asked, running and fucking jumping anyway. 

 

We picked her and swung her up and down all the way to the pond.  It was her favorite thing to do.  I refrained from telling K not to dislocate her shoulder and shit. No need to share my paranoia with the whole world.

 

When we got down there, I could tell they were arguing.

 

“It shouldn’t be this close to the pond.  That’s a liability,” Xander was saying.  He jumped when he saw me.  “Oh hey Faith!” Okay, he was hedging.

 

“What shouldn’t be this close to the pond?” I asked him.

 

“A tree!” Andy rushed out. 

 

“Why would a tree be a liability?  What kind of tree is it?” What were these two up to was the better question probably.

 

“Oh you know how trees are….” Xander said.

 

Right. “What the hell are you two doing?” I asked them.

 

Xander ignored me and scooped up Joy.  “Ready for your party, birthday girl?  You’re gonna be three whole years old tomorrow.  That’s a record.  You’ve never been three before.”

 

She nodded at him.  “Yep. And I getting….” And Ken put her hand over her mouth.

 

I eyed them. “Wait a second, getting what?” I didn’t like where this was going.

 

“Nothing. Nothing,” Andy said. “She’s getting a cake, right?”

 

Joy nodded. Ken’s hand still over her mouth. “Mmm-hmm.” Ken let go. “And …” And hand back over mouth.

 

“Oh hell no,” I said, moving Ken’s hand.  “And what else?”

 

Now she realized I wasn’t supposed to know.  Great. She was looking at the three of them and they were so obviously shaking their heads no it was ridiculous. Like I couldn’t fucking see them and shit.  “Nuthin,” she smiled at me.

 

I took her from Xander and sat her down on the ground.  I bent down to her level.  “What are you getting?”

 

She clapped her hands.  “Cake. And princess house!” She squealed and the clapped her hand over her mouth.   

 

The three of them groaned.

 

Oh no way. We’d talked about this. She did not need a playhouse the size of my first damn apartment.  With stairs. And a slide.  And little rooms where she could fall down. Or an evil tiny demon could hide. B and I had gone round and round about it.  I thought I’d fucking won that one. I should’ve known better.

 

I stood up. “You three jackasses know this?”

 

They all looked around.  Still hedging. Bastards.

 

Ken shrugged. “Maybe.  But you can’t freak out, Faith.  It’s not a big deal.”

 

“Playhouses are dangerous.  I told B that…”

 

Xander put his hand on my arm.  “It’s not like we’re gonna make her sleep in it or anything.”

 

She jumped up and down.  “Can I sweep it in?” Shit. I was gonna kill them. Right after I killed B.

 

See here was the thing about the kid… it wasn’t like she courted danger or anything, but we needed to be honest, she sure as hell could find it easy. Once when we’d turned our backs for a split second, she’d climbed the damn tree in the backyard. Before we could get her, she’d hurled herself out of it and landed on her feet… like a fucking cat, but that’s beside the point.  She could hide in tight little spaces and we’d spend hours (okay possibly more like a few minutes – it just always felt like hours) looking for her.  And she’d be curled up asleep in one of the damn closets on the other side of the freaking castle.  Give her something sticky and it would be in her damn hair. She’d climbed through the railings on the staircase.  On top of every damn cabinet, bookshelf, dresser, etc. she could fucking find. She was into everything. All the time.  Food.  Paint. Play-doh.  It didn’t freaking matter.  She was always making a mess and hiding it.  Getting into some kind of trouble.  Giving her a house to play in all to herself would be like giving a terrorist a bomb. In fact, I was beyond certain that if we weren’t standing out here with her right now, she’d have hurled herself in the fucking pond and taken a dip.  It was a freaking full-time job keeping up with her. 

 


 

Before I could choke all three of them, B and Red walked down from the castle.

 

“Mommy!” Joy screamed and took off running.  “Where’s Dawnie???” She asked, looking around.  The kid loved Dawn. Possibly because she spoiled her rotten.

 

“Inside wrapping someone’s birthday present,” B answered, scooping her up and kissing her on the nose.  “Did you miss me?”

 

Joy nodded. “Momma’s mad. We in trouble,” she said making her little frowny face and then pointing to the three jackasses standing in front of me.

 

Buffy scrunched her face up at me.  “What’s wrong?”

 

I glared at her.

 

B looked at the rest of them and raised her eyebrow.

 

Ken held up her hands.  “She’s the one that told,” she said, pointing to Joy. 

 

Red rolled her eyes.  “You just threw a three year old under the bus, Kennedy.” She said.  She took Joy from Buffy.  “You’re gonna have so much fun tomorrow.”

 

“I knowed!” Joy said, clapping her hands.

 

B walked over to me.  “Faith…” she started.

 

I held up my hand.  “Nope. Don’t even.  I can’t believe you.” I couldn’t help how mad I was. I mean we’d fucking talked about this. “What the hell is wrong with getting the kid a doll or something?” 

 

“Oh! A doll?” She asked.

 

B eyed me like great, now I have to go back to town.  Well, sucks to be her I guessed.  “Faith, you’re being irrational.  Normally it’s cute… but, come on….” She tried pouting. “It’s just a playhouse. It’s not like we got her a motorcycle or anything.”

 

Motorcycle… ugh.  See here’s another thing. I didn’t have one. Because I couldn’t. Because Buffy wouldn’t let me. Because it was fucking dangerous and I’d get hurt and you’d leave me all alone to take care of our daughter… and blah blah fucking blah.  So even though I’d always wanted one.  Had my fucking eye on one for six months now… a Ducati Panigale fucking superbike (that’d I’d finally, finally talked G into letting me get)… she’d pouted and whined like a baby till I freaking relented. 

 

She saw my face fall and knew she’d hit a nerve.  “Oh come on baby… that’s not the same thing.  You know that.”

 

I shook my head.  “Not gonna work.” You know what, fuck this.  “I haven’t gotten Joy’s present yet...”

 

Buffy looked confused.  “What? But I was getting it. We’d talked about that.”

 

“No. You got her a damn playhouse. So… I have to get her something.” I smirked at her and walked over to Red.  I kissed J on the cheek.  “Momma’s goin out. I’ll be back tonight. Love ya, suga bug.”

 

“Faith, wait…” B started.

 

“Nope, I’ll be back tonight.  Have fun putting your house together,” I called behind me.  Two could play this fucking game. 

 


 

“So the thing is… I can’t take it tonight.  You’ve gotta deliver.” I told the guy standing in front me.

 

“No problem miss. I’ll be there at one o’clock.” He answered.  “You sure this is what you want.  You seemed a little hesitant last week.”

 

I smiled at him. “Just be there at one,” I told him, handing him the cash.

 

He took it from me and smiled. “You’re going to be trouble, aren’t you?”

 

I smiled at him before climbing back in the car.  “A whole shitload,” I told him, before shutting the door,

 

So what… B was gonna kill me. It was worth it.

 


I made one more stop and then decided to go have a drink at the local pub before heading back home.  There was no way I was getting roped into putting that freaking house together. I’d let them deal with that.

 

As soon as I did get back to the castle, B pounced.  “Where’ve you been?” She asked.  She wrapped her arms around my neck and kissed me. 

 

I kissed her back.  “Town,” I answered.

 

“And? What’d you get?” She pouted.

 

“A drink,” I shrugged.  She was not getting shit outta me.

 

“You got our daughter a drink?”

 

I ignored her question.  “Where’s J?”

 

She followed me into the library.  “Upstairs with Giles. He’s reading her a book about thirteenth century ghouls.”

 

“So, she’ll be asleep in about ten minutes?”

 

She smiled. “If she’s not already.”

 

“Good, she’s gotta big day tomorrow.  What with that freaking house-sized, tarped monstrosity I saw out by the pond just now.” I said, moving past her.

 

“Faithie, you’re still not mad about that are you?” She whined.  “You know she’ll be fine…”

 

I shrugged. “Whatever.  Not much I can do about it now.”

 

She walked up behind me and wrapped her arms around my waist.  She kissed the back of my neck.  “Whatcha get today?”

 

I hated when she did that.  Well actually I loved it, but no way was she getting me to tell her a damn thing. “I told ya.  I got a drink.  I was just getting out of helping put that thing together.”

 

She moved in front of me and looked me in the eyes.  “I don’t believe you.”

 

I shrugged. “Sucks.” I moved past her and walked up the stairs.

 

Giles was holding Joy in his lap, glasses perched on his nose.  He had the book he was reading propped on the armrest. J was fast asleep.

 

“What’s up, Poppy?” I asked him.

 

“Faith, I truly wish you’d refrain from calling me that.” He moved the book so I could take Joy from him.

 

I laughed. “Not gonna happen.”

 

He sighed. “Of course not.” He smiled at my girl. “She just fell asleep.”

 

I picked up the book he was reading.  “Ghouls? Seriously?”

 

“She quite enjoys the pictures,” he said. 

 

I opened the book and inside the front cover was a picture of some monster with fangs the size of my arm.  Jesus. “Dude…” I said, handing the book back from him.

 

He looked at the picture.  “Oh those things are harmless.  They’re the size of a very small child.”

 

Great, I thought.  Just big enough to fit in that fucking playhouse.  Joy wiggled in my arms a bit and threw her arm around my neck.  “Oh well, I guess we should go to bed.”

 

“Right. Good night.  Big day tomorrow.” He got up and turned off the light.

 

“Yep,” I answered, walking out the door.  “Can’t freaking wait.”

 

 


 

 

Twenty-seven screaming kids.  Twenty-seven. I didn’t know we knew twenty-seven kids.

 

“Who the hell are all these monsters?” Ken asked.

 

I shrugged. “Not a freaking clue.”

 

The birthday party started at twelve.  That was about thirty minutes ago.  I kept staring at my watch. 

 

“What are you waiting on?” Ken asked.

 

“Nothing.” She was not in on my little secret.  Hell no.  She’d felt the need to keep that fucking playhouse from me.

 

And what a fucking playhouse it was.  Seriously, like I said… the thing was bigger than my first place in Sunnydale. Which, okay… wasn’t that big, but it was way too damn big for a three year old.

 

And here was the biggest kicker of all – it was pink.  With freaking purple trim.  No shit.  When they’d taken the tarp off, Joy’s big green eyes lit up like she’d just been given a giant ass pink and purple house.  Really… there was no better metaphor.  She squealed like the little chick she was and ran straight to the slide and started crawling up it.  Completely freaking backwards… trouble and all.

 

And seriously, I couldn’t tell you how hard it was not to scream ‘Stop’ or whatever. But B had given me the death stare that basically said you aren’t getting laid for a month if you say a word… and well, I’d learned my lesson there last year.  So… mum’s the word. I’d just sit back and let her fall backwards, headfirst right the fuck back down it…like she’d just done…. Damn it.

 

I went to get her, and Ken grabbed my arm. “Stop, she’s fine.” 

 

I followed her gaze towards the kids gathered round her.  She was giggling.  Then she got back and did it right the fuck over again.

 

“Oh my good god.  Is there booze around here anywhere?” I moaned.

 

“I tried, but Will was all no, you are not drinking at Joy’s party…” She shrugged her shoulders.  “Sorry.”

 

“It’s okay,” I said following J with my eyes tumbling along the top of the staircase. “I’ll just sit back and wait for the concussion.”

 

B and Red walked up to us.

 

“What are you two doing?” Willow asked.  “You look like you’re conspiring.”

 

“Nothing,” we both mumbled.

 

“Any luck?” B asked Ken. 

 

K shook her head.  “She’s tight-lipped. Sorry princess, I tried.”

 

Buffy patted her on the shoulder.  “Thanks.”

 

Aww, fuck that. I hated when they pulled that shit. I did not get their fucking relationship.  A lesser person would have already killed them.  So checks in my column and all.

 

“I don’t know what you’re getting at B.  There is nothing going on.  Why are you being so damn paranoid?” And Joy just jumped off the top of the staircase. I was seriously not going to make it through this day.

 

“Are you kidding me?” She started laughing.  “You’re calling me paranoid.  That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard all day.”

 

“Laugh it up, slayer.” I motioned to the kid with my head.  “Cause when she breaks a bone somewhere, I’m making you sit up with her monkey ass.”

 

She put her arms around me and pulled me to her.  “I love that you’re protective.  But she’s a slayer baby.  You know she’s fine.”

 

She was most likely right.  But there was no way to be sure.  What were we supposed to do? Put her through extensive tests and shit?  We had not way of knowing how strong she was… well, except for the fact that she continuously would throw herself off the highest thing in the room, bounce around on the floor a bit, and then get the hell up and do it all over again.

 

I had a new respect for my mother at least.

 

“Oh, look who’s here, Joy…” B called.

 

I turned and followed her gaze.  Satsu. Welcome back, mixed feelings.

 

So the kid… she loved the chick.  She always brought her some wicked ass toy from wherever the hell it was she’d been that month or whatever.  And she wasn’t as careless as Ken with her.  Mostly because my threats of killing her slowly when she threw Joy in the air were actually true, but she listened.  But she still had a major thing for B.  So… I tolerated her. And that was fucking enough… cause no one ever said I was a damn saint.

 

“Sat,” Joy called, running up to her. 

 

“Happy birthday, snuggle bug,” she said, hugging her.  “I’ve missed you.” She pulled a doll from behind her back. “I got you a new friend for your birthday. Her name is Mika.”

 

“Thank you very much,” Joy said, just like she and B practiced for two hours this morning.

 

B and Red ran over to greet her. So did the rest of the merry Scooby gang. Well… except K. I rolled my eyes at her. She nodded.  We shared at least one common dislike.

 

“Maybe I could sneak a couple of beers in a cup or something,” she whispered to me.

 

I nodded at her.  “You possibly should, because there’s about to be cake.”

 

Giles walked up to us.  “There are a lot of children here.  I didn’t know this many slayers had children.  Where have I been?”

 

We both shrugged.  “Same place we have. I don’t know how they keep up with all of this,” I told him.  “B remembers everyone’s name.  It’s freaky weird.”

 

“Oh well, good for her,” he turned already ignoring me.  “Ah, cake!” He said, leaving us standing there. Traitor.

 

Andy was wheeling some monstrosity of a cake towards the party.  It looked just like the damn house she got. I had to admit that it was impressive.

 

“Holy shit…” I said to Kennedy.

 

She rolled her eyes.  “How do you know nothing that is going on around here?  He’s been working on that thing for three days.”

 

I smacked her in the arm.  “He hid it from me I’m assuming.  Because it’s shaped like the fucking present she wasn’t supposed to get….”

 

“Oh, yeah.”

 


 

All the little kids sang happy birthday to her.  I’ll spare you the details of Happy Birfday, because you know little kids can’t make that sound yet… but it was cute.  And it was immortalized forever on two digital recorders (Xander and Dawn) and three cameras (Red, B, and Giles).  So we wouldn’t forget, B said.

 

Ken had been able to secretly scoot away though and get us two beers in little cups with princesses on them.  But shit if I was gonna complain. 

 

I looked at my watch again.  It was one o’clock. And then I saw the guy walking towards us.  Dude was punctual. I handed my drink to Ken. “Be right back,” I said.

 

I left her standing there.  She was just about to ask me what the hell, but I gave her no time…

 

“This is awesome,” I said, when he handed me the box.

 

“I had my wife wrap it.  I thought it would be more of a surprise that way.  I left the rest of the stuff up by the door, like you said.”  He was smiling. He looked down at the party. “I’d ask which one’s yours, but it’s really obvious.”

 

J was swinging on Xander’s arm.  “Yeah, we look a lot alike, I hear.”

 

He nodded. “Well, I don’t want to keep you. Hope she likes her gift.”

 

I smiled at him.  “No worries.”

 

I was careful with the box as I walked back down.  I didn’t want to hurt anything. I also didn’t want Joy grabbing it out of my hands.

 

Everyone was watching me when I walked back to the party.

 

“No gift, huh?” B asked, her eyebrow cocked.  “What is that?”

 

I shrugged.

 

“Is that my pwesent?” Joy asked me, running up and of course, trying to fucking grab it.

 

I bent down carefully.  “Yeah. But you have to be careful.” The box was wrapped so that it just had a lid on it and she could take it off.  “See, just pull this off.”

 

Here’s the one time I was glad Giles had the camera out… cause her face was just about the best face I’d ever seen.  When she pulled the lid up, her eyes got so big… well, let’s just say I was numero uno right then.

 

She reached in and pulled it out.

 

“Gentle,” I said, holding her hands.

 

“Look mommy!!!” She turned to B, “I gotta puppy!!!” She was literally shaking she was so excited. She pulled the little golden retriever out carefully. “A puppy!!! A puppy!!!” I was holding the pup too. She was still a little thing.

 

“You’ve got to be careful.  She’s a baby,” I reminded her. 

 

And she was being.  She sat her down gently on the ground. She was petting her softly.  Some of the other kids ran up to see her.  She was a cute little thing.  Okay, so not many things make me coo… but come on, puppies were adorable.

 

I’d been to see the guy about a week earlier.  And I’d done my research.  We had a lot a room and I always wanted a dog.  And we needed one that was good with kids.  Even though B had said no like a thousand times. 

 

“Oh bloody hell,” Giles said.

 

I winked at him.

 

B was standing there in front of us, her mouth opening and closing.  I had never really gone completely against her wishes before. I guessed I’d sent her into a state of shock. 

 

“Oh my god!” Ken said, laughing.  “You are in so much trouble.” She bent down next to J.  “You love her already, don’t you bug?” She asked her.

 

“The most,” Joy said. 

 

I stood up and looked at B.  She still wasn’t speaking.  The rest of the gang bent down, fawning over the pup.  Let’s face it… none of us had had a pet.  Well I’d heard there was a cat once, but I couldn’t be sure…

 

“Faith,” B finally said. “Can I talk to you for a moment?”  She didn’t wait for me to answer before turning and walking away from the crowd.

 

‘Screwed,’ Ken mouthed at me. 

 

I made sure no one was looking before I flipped her off.  See, some things change.

 

The look B was giving me was quickly making me reconsider my decision.

 

“What…the…hell?” She asked.

 

I decided to go for innocent.  “What?”

 

“We so talked about this...” she said.  Okay, she was pissed.

 

“We talked about the fucking playhouse too, but that didn’t stop you.”

 

She frowned. “That’s different.”

 

I swear to god, fucking Buffy logic.  “How, twinkie?”

 

“It just is.” She was pouting.

 

“Aw, come on B… look at her.”

 

She followed my gaze.  Joy was sitting more still than we’d ever seen her.  The puppy was crawling on her lap, licking her face.  She was so happy she was grinning bigger than she had all day.

 

She rolled her eyes, but she was smiling.  “You’re in trouble.”

 

I put my arm around her.  “I’m always in trouble, Buffy. What’s new?”

 

She was still watching Joy.  “Nothing. I love you,” she whispered before kissing me on the cheek.

 

“So I did good?” I asked, kissing her back.

 

“No… you did well.” She grabbed my hand and started towards the group. I followed her.

 

Before we got down there though, she stopped and turned around.  “Do you see her, Faith?”

 

I looked past her at Joy.  She was sitting in Red’s lap still playing with the puppy.  Dawn and K were squatted next to them. “Yeah, she’s fine. Why?”

 

Buffy smiled up at me, but she had tears in her eyes.  “It’s just…” she started.

 

“Why are you crying, babe?  Is it the dog? Fuck… I’m sorry.” I pulled her to me.

 

She wrapped her arms around me.  “I’m happy, dork. Can’t I cry when I’m happy?”

 

I pulled her to me tighter.  “No. You can’t.  You freak me out when you cry.”

 

She giggled. “Did I tell you I loved you?”

 

“Yep. But you can tell me again.”

 

“Okay, I love you.” She wrapped her arm around my waist and looked over at J. “Thank you.”

 

“For what?”

 

“For everything.  For her. For you.  Just for everything.”

 

I bent down and kissed her again.  “I love you too, Buffy Summers.”  I held my breath. There was one more thing I picked up yesterday.  I wasn’t sure when I was going to pull it out, but hell… now was as good as a time as ever… “Reach in my pocket,” I told her.

 

“Why?” She wiggled her eyebrow at me.

 

“Just do it, gutter-mind.” I grabbed her hand and guided it to my front pocket.

 

She fiddled around a little bit.  Apparently I’d shoved it in there deep.  She was looking at me, trying to figure out what she was doing.  And then she felt it.  Her mouth made that little ‘O’ face.  “Oh my god….”

 

I guess it would have been more traditional if I’d gotten down on one knee. But when the hell did we ever do anything the traditional way… So I bent down and whispered in her ear. “Will you marry me?”

 

She gasped. It was a good sound at least. She was looking away from me at everyone. She was definitely in shock now.

 

I was still turned towards her, my lips against her ear. “Is that a yes?” I pulled the ring out of her hand and slipped it on her finger.

 

Then she turned and jumped in my arms and wrapped her legs around me. “Yes!”  She through her arms around my neck and kissed me… hard.

 

And I kissed her back.  I loved the way she would kiss me when she was excited.  It was close to one of the best feelings I’d ever had. Then I remembered… twenty-seven kids.  “Whoa. Let’s not give everyone a show.”

 

She nodded and got down.  “Oh my god.” She was staring at the ring.  It was a rock… I mean I knew some shit.  “I have to go show Will and Dawn,” she squealed, running off.  And then she turned around and ran back.  “I love you!  I love you!” She was as happy as Joy. “Will! Dawnie!” She squealed again, running off.

 


 

I stood where I was and watched her.  She was showing off.  Joy and Xandy (Xander and Andy) were busying following the puppy around the yard. Along with half the kids. Well the ones not swinging off the biggest playhouse in Scotland anyway.

 

Ken sauntered over.  “Goddamn it, Faith,” she said, scowling.

 

“What? Jealous?” I smiled at her.

 

“I totally will not hear the end of this.  First a baby… now a damn marriage… you are screwing up my game here.” She folded her arms. “Do you know what Willow’s gonna want now?”

 

I winked at her.  “Sorry.”

 

B looked over at me and waved.  Joy was rolling around with two doofuses and the dog.  I was the luckiest woman on the planet.

 

“I’m gonna forgive you…” she said.

 

“Why’s that?” I asked, turning toward her.

 

“Well… because you’re my best friend.” She slugged me.  “And because you kinda deserve it.”

 

I turned to look at her. “Wow, that may be the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me.”

 

“Aw, hell. Don’t let it go to your head.” She smiled.  “Seriously though, you kinda do.  I hope you got everything you wanted…” she added.

 

“Yeah,” I nodded.  I had. I knew there was something coming. There was always something coming. But… I knew you have to let some things just come or go… and I couldn’t walk around for the next decade and a half being worried about every little thing…

 

“…J! Don’t put the freaking puppy in the playhouse!”

 

Okay, well some things weren’t gonna change that easily.