Back to the Beginning: Back
by Amanda
Rating: R

Disclaimer #1: None of the characters from BtVS belong to me. No copyright infringement intended to Joss W, ME, FOX, WB, UPN, etc. This is on in the name of fun.
Date: 072502-072702
Spoilers: All of Season Six. This is the 9th in a series, read the others first.
Note #1: OFFICIAL NOTICE: Amanda is jumping the BtVS canon ship now, *splash*
Note #2: If it is written in italics it is the character’s thoughts.
Dedications: To everyone that has ever provided feedback. It really means a lot, and I have your notes saved, and when I hit a stumbling block, or worry that it just isn’t good enough, even though it was the best I felt I could do *deep breath* I read your notes, and it gives me the added, UMPH, I need to keep going. So, THANK YOU. As well as a giant, massive, HUGE THANK YOU, to BD, for helping me out with that scene *wink*

She didn’t want to look over at him, couldn’t look over at him. This was officially the worst day of her life. There was no doubt about it. The first day of school, getting lost trying to find homeroom, getting bit by a vampire, being humiliated by her, and oh, yes, let’s not forget, trying to kiss the man sitting next to her, who was completely not interested. All in one day! This was torture. Dawn wanted to just get out of this car. She wanted to hide in the sanctuary of her room, under the blankets with the lights out.

How much farther Dawn wondered, glancing out her side window as the car stopped at a red light, and gulped.

This is so not my day.

“Um, Holburn?”

“Yes, Dawn.” His voice strained, showing that the stress of the day affected him, and Dawn would have laughed, he had no idea. His eyes were closed as he rubbed the bridge of his nose.

“Look.” She pointed out her window, at the vampire that was standing there, grinning.

“Oh dear.” Holburn sighed; the car lurched forward and then halted. Dawn looked out the front windscreen, to see five more vampires blocking them.

“It is okay to drive through them you know.”

“Is it? I hadn’t guess that, Dawn.” He snapped.

“Just do it!” She squealed as the vampire beside her door, moved to punch the glass beside Dawn’s head.

*****

Buffy felt the arms tightening around her, before a hand was moving to her hair. A soft kiss was placed on the top of her head. She could smell it all in the alley, the dust, the sweat, and the leather. Her heart was pounding still, and looking down she could see the dust getting picked up in the light breeze, flinging it around the alley. Buffy pushed herself away.

“She didn’t deserve this.” She whispered.

“Of course not. But you had no choice.”

“Choice? I could have chose not to use her like I did. I could have chose to make her get off the streets. She was a convenience for me, I never stopped to think about her and what could have happened to her.” Buffy wrung her hands.

“What? You’re the patron saint of whores now? Is that it? I have seen you kill time and time again. What makes her so different?”

“I knew her.”

“So? You knew Angel and you tried to stake him.”

“Completely different, and you know that.” She spun her hands on her hips, indignantly. “And what the hell are you doing here?”

“There is a little bitch of a problem in town, and I heard through the grape vine that you needed some help, Pet.” He pulled a crumbled cigarette from his pocket.

“I will never need your help Spike.” Buffy scoffed.

“Looks like you were in my arms though doesn’t it love.”

“Momentary lapse. You caught me at a bad time.” She shrugged.

“I am always catching you at a bad time.” He sneered. “How far will this bad time go? Because I missed you, Slayer.”

“Save it, Spike.” She stepped forward. “Should I just dust you now? For doing what you did to me?”

“What? I do something you didn’t like, love?”

“That,” she laughed angrily, “is a fucking understatement.”

*****

I couldn’t be alive and seeing this. There was no way I was seeing this! It was just not possible. The way the moonlight fell between the buildings, illuminating her blonde hair was she stood, just nonchalantly stood there.

I felt the air around me tighten, and the chill of the evening disappear, as the heat and the confusion raced through my blood. She was not standing there; she was not talking to him!

*****

“Oh, come on, Buffy!” He flung his hands in the air, in a sign of defeat, but his eyes still twinkled mischievously. “I didn’t do anything wrong!”

“No? Not a thing?” She growled at him. “I thought no meant no?”

“Buffy,” Spike stepped forward, setting his hand on her arm. “I knew you didn’t mean it. All the times before, and well,” he grinned, “When we would play, with you saying no and all.”

“Trust me Spike, I wasn’t playing. Not then, and not now.”

“Ah.” He cupped her cheek.

“Maybe you are hard of hearing as well as dead. Maybe blind too. I was terrified.”

“But you are the Slayer, you could have beaten me off.” He grinned, with pleasure at his own double meaning.

“I was hurt,” Buffy wrenched her arm away. “I wasn’t at full strength. I was in the safety of my own home, and you still came. You still tried to take that from me.”

“God! Get over it Slayer!” He snapped back. “There was nothing to take, you had given it up to me already. I was only trying to get you to see that you and me, what we had was more than fucking, more than the lust.”

“But you’re wrong Spike. That is all it was, the lust. Same with you and same with Jane.” She tapped the stake in her right hand against the palm in her left. “Maybe I should make both of you equal?” Buffy was really considering the possibility, and knew if Faith were here, there would be no need for considering.

*****

In a wave of adrenaline I found my voice, found the strength to move my legs. My heart was pounding so loudly all I could hear were the drums of it in my ears. Burning, slamming, pulsing. My engine was thrown from neutral into high, and I stepped forward.

“Tara?”

*****

She was screaming. He really, really wished that she would stop screaming. How could he drive effectively, with two vampires hanging off the car, with all of her incessant screaming?

“Really Dawn!” He snapped. The car barreled through another intersection. They had only a few more blocks to go, and then they would be relatively safe, at the house.

“Drive faster!” Dawn said whilst still screaming, and punching at the hands of the demon that was reaching in through the broken passenger side window. The vampire was bleeding from her well-placed punches to the nose but was still reaching for her. Maybe, Holburn thought, if he got rid of that one, she would stop her screaming.

He flung the car to the right, causing a moving slam into the car parked on the side of the street, effectively peeling the vampire off his car, like a band-aid. He swung the wheel to the left again, glaring through the windscreen at the vampire who was still holding on for dear life. But bloody, hell, she was still screaming!

Holburn looked at Dawn, to see her hands on her face, looking down at the moving severed arm on her lap.

Brilliant!

Holburn reached over, picked up the arm, and tossed it out the window.

*****

“You can’t just kill me.”

“Last time I checked, I could. What would make this time any different? And if I don’t dust you, well let’s just say you don’t want to run across some of the others in town.” Buffy grinned, thinking of Faith.

“What? You think I am afraid of the little Scooby crew? Please Slayer.” He dropped his cigarette, crushing it under a ratty looking boot.

“Oh, it’s not them you have to worry about. Though, maybe you should. Willow could fry you with a look. But, that’s right. You ran like a little baby after attacking me, knowing full well that I was going to kill you. So you missed the near end of the world.” She scoffed.

“That isn’t why I ran.”

“No? Then explain it to me.”

“I ran because it hurt, okay? I was ashamed. I hurt you, Buffy, and I never wanted to hurt you. So I bloody left, to get my head together.”

She looked at him like he was speaking in tongues.

“I did get it together. I know that I love you, Buffy, and I know that we can work this out.”

A chuckle escaped her lips. “Um, Spike? News flash? Never going to happen. This,” she pointed between the two of them, “is so over.” He moved to speak, and she held up her hand. “Trust me, never. Now why don’t you start talking about this problem in Sunnydale, or go away, quickly?"

*****

She turned when I called out to her. Blonde hair and blue eyes, and that kind face. All of it turned to look at me, and the eyes narrowed just a little. But I knew that look. That was the, who the hell are you look, and that was a bit strange coming from Tara. Sure not as fucking strange as her standing in an alley talking to Xander, but still strange. She looked back to him, and then to me, but I was already walking closer, and she just bolted. Like someone flipped the fight or flight switch to flight and hard. She just bolted.

“Tell me that isn’t who I just saw.” I said walking up to Xander, still looking in the direction she had fled. Should I chase after her or not? I couldn’t decide.

“I know. Pretty amazing, huh?” He sighed, smiling.

“Xander, who the fuck was that?” Did he not get the seriously something wrong vibe that was happening here?

"It was Tara."

“Um, no Xan, Tara, she’s dead.” I set my hand on his shoulder, hoping to get through to him.

“Then you tell me how you could explain it Faith?” He snapped, shrugging out of my touch. “She came to me last week, crying and telling me that only I could help her.”

“Help her with what?” I narrowed my eyes at him. Man he looked tired, and more than a needing a few extra hours of sleep tired. More like he had been up on a serious bender for a few weeks tired.

“Stop Willow. She is using magic again, and it is killing Tara.”

“Tara is dead.” I believed that with my entire being, and hoped that he would too as I said it.

“Then who in the hell was I just talking to?” He snarled. He was going to be a hard cookie to crack that was clear.

“Don’t know, but I aim to find out. Where’s B?”

“I don’t know.”

“She’s around here somewhere… I feel her. Why don’t you head over to the house, we will all be there soon.” Getting him to see reason would take forever, and I had to let B know what was going down. This little mystery would just have to hold.

“I guess so.” He was glum and sullen, and I didn’t have the time. I was on a specific mission tonight, search and destroy.

*****

Spike paced in front of her. “So I hear there was this little thing of a vampire, who has a taste for all things Slayery.”

“And I see that when you came back you brought crypto man with you.” Buffy moaned, and then slammed him against the wall. She wasn’t in the mood for this. “Just tell me.”

“Fine. Been awhile, Slayer? Feeling a little frustrated?” Spike pressed his crotch up against her.

“I think she is feeling just fine.” Faith snapped as she entered the mouth of the alley.

*****

“Almost there.” Holburn said, as he turned down the cul-de-sac, but slammed on the breaks. “Oh, dear.”

Dawn looked up and saw a group of vampires standing at the edge of the house’s property, waiting for them.

*****

Now this was a fucking sight. B, pressed up against that peroxide replacement. He thought he looked so tough, thought he could tame her. What a fucking idiot. No one tamed Buffy Summers. She fucking tamed you.

“Faith,” she pushed off of him and turned to me. “It’s not what you think.” She set her hands on my shoulders, looking wicked scared. What, did she think I would go off the deep-end just because she was leaning against the wall in the dark, with the vamp she used to screw? Okay, so maybe she was a little justified in the fear arena. But I wasn’t about to jump to conclusions or run away hurt.

“What do you think I think?” I asked, huskily leaning forward to kiss cheek. I walked around her. “But you! You are going to be hurting.” I poked him in the chest with my finger, and then punch him right in the nose.

“Bloody hell!” He howled, clutching his face in his hands. “What did you do that for?”

“You touched her.” I shrugged, and looked back to B.

“Well fine, but who the fuck are you?” He asked. I turned and gave him my trademark grin.

“What B, you never told him about me? Never ever?”

“Wait a minute.” He looked up at me. “Yea tall, brunette, psycho, goes by the name of Faith.” He said and I nodded. “Great two Slayers.”

"As much as I would love to sit here exchanging stories with you, limp Willy," I winked, and turned to B. “We got a little problem.”

“Problem?” She asked.

“Some fucking fruit cake of a vamp has been playing the human routine with Kiddo.” I took her arm gently in mine. “She got bit tonight.”

“What? Oh God.”

“No, B, it’s okay. It was a shallow bite, she didn’t even need to go to the hospital.” I explained, calmly, but quickly to keep off the cascade of freak out emotions that was at times, Buffy Summers.

“Someone dared to taste the Lil Bit?” Spike growled, and I looked at him. Wow. The dude must really care about B and Kiddo, cause his face was vamped, and he was pissed.

“Got it in one. I know who it is, and I am out looking.” I confirmed.

“What was his name?” Spike asked.

“Her name was Annie.”

"Don’t know her, must be new. Like I was telling the Slayer-" I raised my eye brow at him, reminding him who in the hell he was speaking to. “I mean, Buffy,” good boy. “I heard through my channels that there was somebody coming out here.”

“Somebody did. Old news. We defeated him.” B shrugged, not impressed. I liked that she wasn’t impressed, and liked even more that she was looking at me more than him.

“See, there you go, you are wrong. The one that was coming was a female.” Spike said.

“What does she want?” I asked.

“God, probably the usual.” B groaned, leaning against the wall.

“Don’t think so. Think for this bird it's personal.” He shrugged.

“Personal how?” I asked.

“Think she wants you, gorgeous.” He winked at me. Well that was fucking great! Why would a vamp want me? Oh, right. I did have that annoying little habit of killing and maiming.

“Fucking great.”

“Where’s Dawn?” B asked.

“Huh?” I was still basking in the light that was my own personal fucked-up-vengeance-kick-vampire. “Oh, HS came and picked her up. Was taking her back to the house.”

"HS? The house? I went to your house, lover-" Spike started, but I had his lapels in my hands and his feet off of the ground in a millisecond. “Buffy, I meant Buffy.” I slowly lowered him, watching his eyes bounce between B and me.

Need a moment, Captain Observation?

“New family lives there.” He said softly.

“We moved.” B shrugged. I needed to get out there, something I needed to find. I was just itching for a good slay, and Spike was just annoying me. I mean, knowing what I knew, the things he had done, the fact that he had actually touched her? Yeah, I needed to be moving on. Before I beat the shit out of him, just because.

“I’m going B. You and Mister Achromatic go back to the house, maybe HS or Dawn has more info.” I said.

“Mister who?” Spike asked, but I ignored him, leaning over to whisper in B’s ear.

“He touches you, I will hurt him, really really bad.”

“You trust me?” She asked.

“Always.”

“I’ll hurt him bad too.” She winked, and I turned to walk out of the alley.

*****

There was nowhere for them to go, as more vampires came up from behind the car. No neighbors would come running to their rescue, they would all stay huddled in their houses. The goal would have been to get onto the front lawn, past the thick protection spell that Willow had placed over the entire property. Then the vampires couldn’t touch them. But there were too many of them, surrounding the car completely. There was no way that they could fight them off or even out run them. Dawn was certain that the cavalry was not coming. Not yet. Not as her door was being pride open, and she was pulled from the car. Holburn wasn’t fairing any better it seemed.

Ouch.

She furrowed her brow, watching him get punched in the jaw. Looked like that hurt. But probably not as much as it was going to hurt when they got eaten!

“Don’t harm them. You know what she said.” One of the vampires ordered, and that made Dawn roll her eyes.

“Why in the hell am I always getting kidnapped?” She shouted.

“Hey, shut it.”

“Why? What can you possibly do?” She sighed. This really was not her day.

*****

I kicked Annie, sending her sprawling to the ground.

She had been too easy to find, walking down the street about three blocks over from where I left B with the leather clad Toothpick. She had been sauntering down the street, the sulfur lights darkening her blonde hair, but I could still tell that it was her. I didn’t say hello, I didn’t warn her, just walked up and kicked her in the gut. Even though there was a shit load happening right now in the world of Faith, I was focused on one goal and one goal alone.

"What the-"

“Your name Annie?” I asked. She looked up at me, eyes wide with worry, but then turned to mocking.

“Maybe, sugar. What do you want my name to be?” That was like holding a red flashing neon-fucking sign up to me. She was one arrogant cocky bitch that was for sure. She thought she could touch my family? A slow grin emerged on my lips. This little newbie vamp had just stepped into a shit storm, and she had no fucking clue.

Bending down, I grabbed her shoulders, lifting and tossing her once against the brick wall. Still not letting go I slammed her back against it one more time. “You think you are so smart.” I whispered, “Think you know me, and think you can play me.” My hand went over her shoulder to her neck. She stiffened. “But you have no idea who you are fucking with.” I gripped her neck in my hand and lifted, her feet coming off the ground, heels tapping on the wall behind her.

“Slayer.” She hissed, morphing into game face.

“I prefer Faith, but whatever floats your boat, Annie. Either or neither.”

“So you are just going to kill me?”

“Just kill you?” I chuckled. “Naw. See you made a mistake. You fucked with someone I care about, and you know what? That is not something I take lightly.” I squeezed harder, knowing that air wouldn’t be a problem for her, but knowing it would hurt, just the same.

“What?”

“Don’t play innocent. Doesn’t work. No such thing. You weren’t before you were turned, and you aren’t now.” I pulled the stake from my back pocket.

“Listen, I really liked Dawn. But I had to make sure that she was the one.”

“The one for what?”

“The Slayer’s. That she belonged to you.”

“News flash? Next time just find out where the fuck she lives, don’t bite her. Oh, wait a minute. There won’t be a next time.” Grinning I slammed the stake into her shoulder. She howled. “Say you are sorry, for hurting Dawn.”

“Fuck you.”

I tisked. Pulled back and slammed the stake into her other shoulder.

“Say you are sorry.”

“Fuck you.” Less conviction this time. She was in pain. Good. She deserved more than she was going to get. You don’t mess with my family, and get away with it. Not like that.

“SAY YOU ARE FUCKING SORRY FOR WHAT YOU DID!” I pushed the stake into her chest, slowly. She started with a moan that turned to a shrill shriek. I was pretty sure that if B knew what I was doing she would be pissed, but how could I not? Hearing what this thing had done, holding Dawn as she cried, running my hands over brown hair, looking into the pained wide blue eyes, no. This was okay. This is what this bitch deserved.

“You, will, kill, me, anyway.” She huffed.

“But I will do it quick.” I pulled out the stake and slammed it into her stomach. Man, she was fucking bleeding all over me. "Want to tell me about this new vampire in town instead? I can up the ante here. You know, start taking out your eyes, lobbing off the ears. Oh, I know, I could rip all the skin off this arm right here. Looks wicked cool when you do it. See a friend of mine-" I slammed the stake into her, pushing through the muscles of her diaphragm, actually hearing some of the tendons snap.

“I am sorry! God I am so very sorry.” She screamed. “I will tell you everything!”

“Good girl.” I grinned. She was panting around the pain, and I slowly twisted the stake clockwise. “I am waiting.”

“Her name is Veronica.” She gasped, as I pulled out the stake. “She wants you to come with her, she has some obsession thing going on.”

“Did I do something to her? This is like revenge?”

“No. She just thinks your hot shit being the Slayer. But I told her, the one she really needed to try out was little Dawnie.” She grinned.

“Fucker.” I slammed the stake through her heart, and she dusted away.

I was left standing, covered in her blood, breathing heavily. I bent over, feeling the need to be sick. I shouldn’t have tortured her, but what she did was inexcusable, hurting someone like that who did nothing to deserve it. Shattering an innocent girl for no reason other than to do it. People like that made me fucking sick. I would have hurt her regardless of how upset I was. She deserved the pain she got for touching Kiddo.

I threw the stake down the alley, wanting nothing more to do with it. It was done. I stood straighter; Annie wasn’t even worth a second thought. It was done. Now I had to think about Veronica. Who ever the fuck that was.

*****

“So you and the dark one, huh?” Spike asked as they walked.

“Just shut up Spike. What ever you want to ask, the answer is no.” Buffy snapped, really wishing that he wasn’t walking beside her. She had enough going on now, without looking at him.

“Ah, good. Wonderful even.”

“Okay, what were you going to ask?” She rolled her eyes.

“If you loved her. But seeing as how the answer is no,” he winked.

“Get a clue.” She froze in her tracks. “Shit. NO!” They both looked and saw the car, which had been driven up onto the curb, the front doors wide open.

“I’m guessing that is not a good thing.”

*****

She noticed straight away that their numbers had dwindled. From the eight that were sent out, only five were back. They had the two mortals with them, but still, Veronica did not like the idea of loosing more of her minions.

“Where are the others?” She asked, rising off of the wooden chair she had been sitting on.

“Charlie had an accident.” The one holding the Watcher said. Accident? Veronica must have misjudged the Watcher. She thought he would have fainted dead away by now, but he was holding his own, which was a surprising change.

“What of the girls?”

“I didn’t see Mistress Jane, Annie was keeping an eye out for the Slayers.”

“Fine.” She motioned for the cage in the corner, and the two captives were dragged over there.

“Why are you doing this?” the little girl asked, as soon as the front of the cage was secure. Funny how humans always seemed to find strength when they were behind something.

“Payback.” She said, flippantly. She really wasn’t in the mood to go on at length about this with them.

“But I don’t know you, Buffy doesn’t know you.” She whined.

“Oh, I don’t want you. I want that little bitch, Faith. She is so tasty. Been calling to me for years.” Veronica smiled.

“But I do not understand, was there something that Faith did?” The Watcher spoke this time.

“Did? She is the Slayer, isn’t that enough?”

“So is Buffy.” Dawn said crossing her arms.

“Not really, little girl, not really. I want the end of the line, I want the dark blood in Faith.”

“She will never allow herself to be drained for you.” The Watcher snapped.

“Oh, it is not for me, but for her.” Veronica pointed to Dawn with a smile.

*****

She was running through the streets, opening up all of her senses, trying desperately to find Faith. This was bad, bad, really bad.

That girl needs a collar on her. She is always getting taken.

She mentally snapped thinking of Dawn, who was who knows where in the hands of who knew who.

Confusing much?

Her heart skipped a beat when she noticed a black figure stepping on to the street ahead of them. She would know that silhouette anywhere. She rushed up, setting her hand on Faith’s arm, but felt the moisture on her fingertips. She looked through the darkness, and

Blood!

“Oh, God! Faith what happened to you?” Buffy asked.

“It's not mine.” Faith shrugged.

“It’s vampire blood.” Spike said, as he jogged up to them, sniffing the air, none to discreetly.

“What?” Buffy asked, looking between the two of them.

“He’s right B.”

“Of course I am right, this nose is never wrong.”

“Shut it Spike, cause I am feeling a little anti-vamp right now, and you are fitting my profile.” Faith growled at him. Buffy could see the strain in her eyes.

“Am I supposed to be scared, luscious? ‘Cause I’m not. Buffy won’t let you touch me.”

“That right, B?” She cocked her hip.

“I don’t ever recall saying anything that stupid lately.” Buffy offered.

“Hey now! You told me I was one of the group.” Spike moaned.

“What like a year ago?!” She snapped, really hating that they had gotten so far off topic.

“We have something between us, Slayer.”

“Take it back a step there Billy.” Faith shoved him.

“I have been gone too long. Everything has gone and went topsey turvey.”

“Welcome to Sunnyhell, fruit.” Faith replied.

“Are you going to help or not Spike? If the answer is no, then I am sure Faith here wouldn’t mind another notch on her stake. – That sounded so wrong, on so many levels.”

“I got a name. Veronica.” Faith offered. Buffy turned to her.

“Well they have them.” She said and watched Faith’s face fall.

“No way.” She breathed out, looking like she had gotten kicked in the stomach.

“Ambush, looks like.” Spike added. He did care about Dawn, Buffy knew that, and she knew he would fight with them to make sure that she was safe.

"Okay. Faith can you-" Buffy started.

“Gotcha, B. I’m off to Willy’s.” She leaned forward and kissed Buffy softly on the mouth. Just a pass of lips, but she could still taste the salt from Faith’s skin. “You. Touch her, and”

“I go poof. Right, I know this song.” Spike grumbled.

With a parting wink, Faith turned and walked away.

“She certainly is the butch one.” Spike commented under his breath, but Buffy heard him.

“Ya think?” Buffy shrugged. “I guess you don’t know everything.” Time for action. She needed to find Dawn, and she needed to do it now. Buffy started walking in the opposite direction of Faith.

“What? You can’t just say that and walk away, Buffy.” He began trotting after her.

“Hmm. Seems I just did.”

*****

Delighted did not even come close to what he was feeling upon seeing her as she walked through the doors. He had always known that she would thrive here, in this place. Willow had always held a special place in his heart, reflecting the thirst for knowledge that he too felt. Giles rose from the chair at the desk, walking over to her. As he got closer he noticed that she looked tired, drawn.

“Willow, I am so pleased to see you here.”

“It is really beautiful.” Her voice was strained.

“Willow, are you alright?” he asked, as she began to sway. What was wrong with her? There was a sheen of sweat on her skin.

“Don’t think so.” Her knees buckled, and he caught her in his arms before she dropped to the floor.

“Willow?” She was passed out cold. Rupert Giles felt a chill in his heart as he raised his head and called out for assistance.

*****

It was getting later, and there was still nothing. No tale tail signs of vampire activity. Just one newbie vamp that she let Spike beat up, who knew nothing. This was driving her crazy. There was no sign, no clue. God!

“So what is the possibility of this not turning out perfect?” She mumbled. Feeling the dejavu.

Why was it always Dawn? Why couldn’t they kidnap like Xander, or ooh, Anya.

“Very minimal.” He grumbled.

“What did you hear, through the vine of grapes you mentioned?” She asked.

“Nothing too detailed, just that there was a girl.” He shrugged.

“Just a girl, huh? A girl who managed to sneak into my town, and kidnap my sister, no you are right. She is just a girl.”

“At least I am here to help, eh?” She smiled at her.

“Yeah, help. So what have you done so far?”

“Give me a break would ya?”

“I could help with that.” Faith snickered as she walked over to them, slipping between them.

“Anything?” Buffy asked, noticing that she had managed to clean up, there was not a drop of blood anywhere on her any more. She looked as radiant as she had earlier in the day.

“Nothing. Willy’s was a no go.” She turned to Spike. “They knew you were back though. So you really think you can make B howl do you?”

“What?” Buffy asked, shocked.

"Well, I, what I mean to say is-"

“He was bragging that you needed, a what was it Spike? A proper fuck?”

“I,”

“He’s blushing!” Faith laughed.

“Asshole.” Buffy slapped the back of his head.

“It’s okay B, we all know the truth.” She winked, then took Buffy’s arm, and pulled her off to the side. “B?”

“F?”

“We got a little side problem going down.” She said, her voice dropping into her Slayer voice.

“Fuck.”

“Well, not quite, but let’s get this wrapped up first and we will see, okay?”

“Okay, Miss Mind. Track. Only one.”

“You know you love it.” Faith grinned at her, and Buffy pushed her shoulder. “It’s Xander. Well actually it is a threesome, sort of thing.”

"Again with the-"

“No. On the level here, B. I saw Xander talking to Tara.”

“Okay, what?!” Buffy gasped.

What in the hell is in the air tonight? Can anything else go weird?

“I know. My same reaction. Xan tells me Tara came to him.”

“Pray tell why, and I do know where this is going.”

“He tells it like Tara came to him, told him that Red was getting down with the dark side, and he was the only one who could stop it.” Faith smiled, but it was a sad smile. Buffy looked up, noticing Spike was pretending not to be listening.

“And we are thinking that this is not Tara, right.” Buffy followed along.

“Right. We all know that Xander loves Red, and vice versa, but honestly, B. If Tara needed help and came all the way back from the dead for it…”

“She’d come to us. Gotcha.”

“Plus, when I saw her, she looked through me, like she didn’t know me. And trust me, Tara knew this face.” Faith sighed. “Willy said that a magic user came into town last week. He hasn’t seen them, but heard that they were sniffing around, asking about who was big with the power in the ‘Dale.” Faith shrugged, knowing this was important, but not the top priority.

Buffy sighed heavily. “So what do we do?”

“I think all we can. Keep an eye on Xan, and fix this fang problem that is going down.” Faith said in her resigned, I don’t want to wait but I know that we need to voice.

“We have to get Dawn back.” Buffy said, her voice cracking, the reality of the situation crashing down around her. Faith pulled her into a fierce hug, burying her face into her hair.

“We will. I swore to you remember?” Faith kissed her cheeks.

“Yeah, I remember.” Buffy had no doubt that Faith would do whatever it took to save Dawn. She squeezed her tighter. She let go, begrudgingly, watching Faith as she walked back into the night.

*****

When Xander and Anya arrived it was clear that things had escalated, and then when Buffy and the surprise of Spike, all the pieces fell into place for him. Anya was pacing, mumbling to her self, and giving him a greater headache. He wondered how Willow was doing, if the evil magic was cleansed from her body yet. Tara had promised him that it would be painless, and that she would be free soon of all the magic, and then she would be Wills, his Wills. The one who shared her crayons, the one who punched him in the face in the first grade?

But this was getting complicated. Some skanky vampire now had Dawn and Holburn.

Maybe I should call Tara, she could help.

“Why does this always happen? I mean, can’t they come up with something more original than this?” Anya huffed.

“What?” Xander asked scratching his chin.

“Dawn getting taken, again. Didn’t this just happen a few months ago. The whole end of the world, you do remember that happening too don’t you Xander?”

“Yeah it happened. But you have to remember, An, that she’s Buffy’s sister, this is what happens.”

“Yeah, well, I don’t like it.”

“I doubt that she does either.”

*****

I got half a block away and then I stopped. So much was happening externally that I had been a dumb ass and had left her without saying something, something I really wanted to say to B, something that she needed to hear, especially right now.

I need to tell her that I love her.

I jogged back over the distance and turned down the alley, feeling both of them still there. “Hey,” I started but stopped, seeing Spike, his arms around her, his hand in her hair, his dead lips on hers. FUCK. I had expected to see this earlier, but I thought I made myself clear to her, that this was not going to happen. That fucking son of a mother fucking “FUCK!”

Was I just keeping her warm for him? Keeping her occupied? I knew she had a dead boy fetish and all but this was fucking ridiculous. She freaked out; she went off the deep fucking end and where was I? I was right there for her like a fucking dumb ass. I helped her, her and her fucking friends. She made me love her again, God, I love her, and she knew it and she used it. She got me to be weak to open the fuck up, well no fucking way no FUCKING WAY.

“No, no, Faith,” B pushed away from him, seeing me standing in the distance, hearing me mumbling under my breath.

“FUCK YOU I know what I saw. I have two eyes.” She walked over to me, and was standing there looking up at me, those eyes searching mine. “I trusted you, I gave you everything that was in me! And you took and took and then you went to him and are laughing your ass off, look at Faith, I tricked her, I made her think someone could really love her.”

“I didn’t, I, what you, it didn’t mean.” B stammered.

“Yeah I know what you mean B, you mean I was a good fuck nothing more. I will never be anything more, yeah you made your point, and I know my place now. Fuck! Fuck me, fuck you!”

“Faith, baby, no, that wasn’t what happened.”

“No more fucking lies, Buffy. If you dare lie to me one more time I won’t be able to stop myself. I do not have enough will power to stop myself.”

“What would you do?” her eyes widened, she didn’t need to ask, she knew, she had seen it before.

“I think you know, B.”

“You don’t mean that, Faith. You know that you don’t mean that.”

“Don’t I B? You know me so well, you know me inside and out, you know what this,” I pointed at Spike, “would do to me, but, hey, you did it anyway. Ha ha, fucking funny B. I get it now.” I threw my hands in the air. “God! Too much is going on right now for me to even deal with this, to deal with you.”

“Faith, I love you.”

I just shrugged, and walked away.

*****

He needed to say something to her. He knew that. She seemed despondent and sullen, and not just due to the fact that they were currently sitting inside of a cage with four vampires only a few feet away. Her arms were wrapped around her knees, on which her chin was resting.

“Dawn, I would like to,”

“Yeah, I know you want to talk. No point, be quiet.” She grumbled.

"Now, see here I believe that-"

“Holburn, how many times have you been kidnapped? Yeah, thought so. Just be quiet.”

“Are you sure they will come?” He asked, realizing that she was right, she had experience in this sort of situation.

“Of course.”

“How do you know?”

“You are talking about Faith and Buffy.” She huffed.

“True, but we were not prepared for this vampire. And,” he stopped.

“And?”

“Never mind.” It came rushing to him the realization that had been nagging at the back of his mind all night.

“What?” She inquired.

“Um, Dawn.” He moved closer to her. “I fear that this may be a little more complicated than the other instances when you were taken from the Slayers.”

*****

Her eyes slowly started coming into focus, and the first thing she actually recognized was the smell of tea and dust.

“Giles?”

“Oh, thank goodness.”

“Um, okay. Thank goodness.” Willow grinned, opening her eyes more, and seeing the room that surrounded her. Books everywhere, floor to the ceiling, in a room that was easily three stories tall. Appointed with the romantic rolling ladders along the walls to reach the highest points. She got dizzy again just thinking about climbing to the top.

“You silly girl.” He kissed her forehead. “You had me terribly worried.”

“You? I was the one with all of the fainting. Lately that has been a Watcher trait.”

“What?” he laughed.

“Never mind you had to be there.” She shrugged, trying to sit up. “Sorry about the fainting, I have been feeling a little off since I landed.”

“With good reason.”

“Huh?” She asked, rubbing her forehead. “Something is terribly wrong with you.”

“What?” She squeaked.

“Can’t you feel it? You’re being drained, Willow.”

*****

Buffy slapped him and then shouted, “What the fuck is your problem, Spike?”

“What? I was consoling you over the capture of the little one. Just a little kiss, what could it have hurt?” He grinned.

“You could have just ruined my relationship.”

He shrugged.

“I am going now, and you, you are staying away from me.” She snapped storming off.

“Sure thing precious.”

*****

I could not fucking believe her. Sucking his face, when I had just been holding her a few minutes before. Everything was fucked up and she took the time to kiss him? I mean, I know this was B’s thing, to need kisses and shit when the world was in peril, but come on! SPIKE? That was ridiculous.

“You should look where you are going, Slayer.” A voice growled in front of me and I stopped.

*****

She walked through the back door letting it slam behind her causing Xander to look up from the table. He had been thinking of what he could do to stop feeling so damn helpless, sitting here, stomach in knots.

“Fuck.” Buffy grumbled as she stood in front of him, hands on her hip. She was flushed and looked extremely put out. “Nothing?”

“Nothing, Buffster, sorry.” He shrugged.

“Great! I was so hoping this was those nerds again, something, anything that I know that I can kill quickly and easily.” She growled.

“Well, you know how these sort of things play out.”

“Right, always the same. Well guess the fuck what, Xander, this might not be exactly the same as every other time.” She sighed. “Sorry.” She sat down on one of the wooden chairs. “Xander?”

“Hmm.” He looked up at her again. She looked defeated and worse than she had in a long time. Her eyes didn’t sparkle.

“You thought you saw Tara?”

“Yeah.” He gulped. So Faith had told her. What did he expect really, that she wouldn’t? “I know it was her.”

“You know? How do you know?”

“God, you Slayers never want to believe anything if they don’t see it themselves.” He grumbled. “It looked like her.”

“Did she stutter?” Buffy asked, tilting her head and looking at him.

He hadn’t thought about that. “No.”

“Did she tell you to keep it quiet? That only you could help, and that Faith or I would mess it up?”

“She, um, actually didn’t mention.” He sighed, realizing he had been hoping the entire time. He hated that Willow was doing the magic again. Thinking that she could control it. Xander knew that she couldn’t, he had seen her on the cliff. He had been ripped to shreds by her magic; had scars on his body from her. Magic was bad, period to Xander Harris, and he wanted to believe, he wanted to do anything to stop her, to make Willow see that he was right! “I fucked up.” He sighed, accepting it.

“I agree.”

“It looked like her.”

“You wanted it to, Xan. And that is understandable. But you need to tell me what you did, because you may have hurt Wills.”

“I would never hurt her.”

“It wasn’t Tara, how do you know what it is doing to her?” Buffy spread her hands out on the table, giving him that face, the face where he knew he did something wrong, but she would still love him.

“I don’t.” He sighed. And he knew she was right. “It was the necklace.”

“Thank you, Xander.” She smiled.

“Hey.” He asked just now noticing. “Where’s Spike?”

Buffy groaned, dropping her forehead to the table with a thud.

*****

“Ronnie?” my voice cracked as I said her name. It couldn’t be her. I mean this just wasn’t fucking possible. This just wasn’t fucking possible. She was dead! And I mean dead.

“Hey there, baby girl.” The moonlight caught on the leather of her long jacket, streaking it with silver. Still the same voice I remembered.

<<The storm was really kicking into high gear, and the words I heard from the hotdog vendor downtown earlier in the day were ringing true. That this was not a night to be out, unprotected. But ever since last week, I had been feeling a little stronger, a little warmer all the time. I had no clue as to why or how, but really what did it all matter? It was pouring, sheets of rain falling on me, the air down here at the harbor smelling of salt and fish. There was something else on the air, but I couldn’t place it. A couple of guys were huddled under the short boardwalk; they looked cold, but me? Even in this thin denim jacket I wasn’t cold, not really.

Something came over me as I kept walking. It wasn’t a shiver, more like a terrible rolling pain. Worse than my monthly cramps, this was fucking painful. What the fuck was this? And that smell. Wow, there was something dead around here. It was like this rancid, gagging – ACK! My stomach lurched.

“Well look what came walking into my world. You are a pretty little thing, even looking like a drowned rat.”

I spun around seeing a man standing there, a long matted wool coat; so long it brushed along the sand at his feet. His hair was filthy. Wow, yeah, that dude fucking reeked!

“Nice shiner.” He smiled. Smiled? God that made the smell even worse.

“Yeah, well you should see the other guy.” I lied, knowing that HE looked fucking pristine, not a mark on him from me.

He lunged at me, hands like claws, and grabbed my shoulders, pushing us down. Oh man I thought this guy stunk before? Him laying on me was certainly not a fucking improvement. I wiggled and squirmed, but he was strong. For a weak looking homeless dude, he was strong. I elbowed him in the face and heard the sick crunch of bone. Hey, I had never done that before. He rolled off of me holding his nose.

“Not fair!” He howled.

“Um, hello, you fucking jumped me!” I crabbed away from him, the wet sand covering my clothes.

“Jumping wasn’t the idea. Dinner was. I’m hungry.” He grinned, and then his fucking face moved! I mean like moved! No fucking way! Did he knock me in the head or something? Because there was no way his forehead could ridge like that, no way his eyes would turn a reflective yellow. I would have screamed, but I didn’t scream.

“What the fuck are you?” I had this overwhelming urge to hit him. Now how fucked up was that? This guy’s face just went all night-of-the-living-dead-bad-B-movie-fucking-evil, and I wasn’t running?

"I’m a beast, I am evil-"

“Actually, he is just a vampire.”

I spun my head around, to look at this new voice that was female, but still deep and raspy. A woman was standing there, under a black umbrella. She was wearing an ankle to neck leather coat, and was sparkling like a million freshly polished pennies. She looked poised, and rich.

“Vampire?” I scoffed. “Lady are you fucking high?”

“No, Faith I am not.”

“How in the hell do you know my name?” I sneered, not liking how this night was turning out one bit.

“You want to kill him, don’t you?” She didn’t answer me. “Have this overwhelming urge to just beat the crap out of him?”

“What?”

“You had better do something, Faith. He is getting up.”

I felt something slam into my back, and then saliva on my bare neck.

“Get the fuck off!” I shoved him away, and standing kicked him in the stomach. He started to laugh as I kicked him again.

“You might want to go for the heart.” She sighed. She fucking sighed? What they hell was she talking about; vampire, and killing, and heart.

“Wait a minute.” I kicked him in the face, and then turned to her. “You are serious with all of this vampire mumbo jumbo, ain’t ya?”

“Very serious.” She opened her coat, and I stepped back, nervous. What the hell did she have in there? Sure she looked all posh, with her hair all done up nice, her makeup perfect even in the middle of the night. She was attractive. But still, she could be anybody, and as I learned the hard way, looks could be deceiving. She pulled out a short stick and handed it to me. I nearly sighed with relief that it wasn’t a gun.

“Okay?” I asked, taking it.

“Wood. Stake. Heart.” She nodded to him.

He was freaky looking, he smelled, and he drooled on me. But killing the dude?

“She is right you know.” He said, swinging at my face, getting a good shot into my jaw. Whoa Mister, nobody touches the face. This was fucking crazy. All of it. The rain, the weird face thing, the mysterious lady all in black. What fucking twilight zone was this? He kind of growled, something, opening his mouth wide, and the teeth were mangled and rotted and-

“Holy Shit!” There were fangs in there. My stomach flipped, and suddenly I was finding myself on the sand again, him on top of me, reaching down to bite. So I just pushed. Real gentle. With my arm. And the hand. Holding the stake.

And he just went. His body just disappeared.

“And that is how it is done.” She said, leaning over me, and reaching her hand out. I took it, besides my better judgment. She helped to lift me up. I started brushing the sand off of my ass, and arms.

“I think you need to do some serious talking, lady. Because I am ready to walk.”

“Well then. Into each generation a Slayer is born. One girl in all the world, a Chosen One. One born with the strength and skill to fight the vampires, to stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their numbers.”

She was high.

“That girl is you, Faith. And I am your Watcher, sent to train you.”>>

“How?” I took a step closer, feeling it but not believing it. No. No it couldn’t be.

“You’re the Slayer, Faith you tell me.”

“You’re a vamp?” I asked, but knew, could feel it, even see it in her coffee colored skin that just radiated life, even after death, and her frighteningly exotic green eyes. The woman who saved me, the first person I ever let myself trust, my first Watcher, was a fucking vampire.

“Yes.” She smiled, flashing her long teeth, looking so odd, marring a smile that I remembered so well. The pain surged through my veins, as the reality of this crashed down around me. She was standing right there. The last time that I had seen her she had been laying on the floor in her house, her throat slit, her body beaten and broken. Kakistos’ hoof marks on her skin. I had fucking checked! I know that I did. I had held her dead body in my arms, I cried for her, the one person who cared about me, the one person who saved me from my Mother, from HIM.

This couldn’t be real.

I began shacking my head back and forth. “You are dead. I saw you. You are dead, your body burned up in the fire.” I exclaimed.

“I am dead. In a way.” She stepped closer. “But very much here.”

“I’ve prayed for you, Ronnie.” I confessed, and I had. For years I carried the guilt of her death with me like a scar on my skin. That she had died because of me, that she had died protecting me from that freak Kakistos, and I had failed her. I owned that guilt, I lived with that guilt, and the prayers came readily, honestly from me. There was no way that I would accept that they had gone unanswered, ignored. “You are in heaven. I know that you are, this isn’t real, this isn’t happening.”

“Heaven’s forbidden for the likes of us, Faith.” Her tone was flat, belying my disbelief. She was real, she was there, and she was just a vampire. She had been walking and talking and feeding for fucking years while I prayed for her, while I felt the enormous pain of guilt. Oh, now I wasn’t shocked so much as pissed.

“Fuck you!”

“Such a mouth on you little one.” She sneered. “What does your Buffy think about that mouth? I heard she loves what it can do, but what about the sounds that come out of it?”

I growled low. I was not in the fucking mood to talk about Buffy. My Buffy, the Buffy I loved with every ounce of my being. My Buffy who I saw in the arms of that dead fucking monster. It was always those vampires, over me!

“Could she really love you Faith? Like you need to be? You’ve changed, being with her, where is that fire? Where is that hunger for destruction I loved so?”

“You were the first one to help me fight it. This isn’t you talking Ronnie, it’s that fucking demon inside of you.”

“Right.” She laughed out. “Faith is so smart, Faith knows what I am thinking and feeling.” The laughter died on her lips, and she glared at me. “I am your Watcher Faith. Cultivated and educated by the best.”

“You always had me pegged wrong.” I was pacing now, just wanting to smack her, punch her, and hurt her. “You know what?” I pointed at her, something she despised when she was my Watcher, when she was shaping me. She glared, her upper lip twitched. She was dead, a font of power, and yet I still got to her when I pointed. “You always thought that it was physical. That the Slayer was just the tool, the body.”

“That is what you are. What you should be. Leave the thinking to those of us that can.” She countered.

“And a hearty fuck you, Veronica!” I snapped. “You’re the one that’s stupid. You were the one that just didn’t get it.” I was tired of everyone thinking that I was nothing; I was tired of everyone thinking that I didn’t matter. I could feel it growing in my chest, the red beginning to coat the outer edge of my vision.

"I saved you Faith. Without me-"

“Without you I still would have been the Slayer. Don’t fucking kid yourself.” I hissed, taking a large step closer, getting into her personal space. It was disquieting, that I should have felt her breath, but there was none, just her, cold, making my guts cramp.

“So the fire is still there.”

“And burning even hotter.” I growled. “So what’s the deal, huh? Come to Sunnydale, get me, suck me, do a little dance ‘cause you got to taste a Slayer? Big fucking deal. You kill me, another is called.”

“No one said I was going to kill you Faith. I like the idea of turning you so much better.”

“Turning me?” I laughed. She was a fucking fruit loop. “You think it is that easy. You think I am going to just lie down and let you drain me, and then get me to drink your blood?”

“Faith you would do anything for Buffy, that blonde piece of shit.”

I stepped closer, ready to fucking rip her heart out. Ronnie was fucking dirty, too dirty for B’s name to come off of those lips, as angry as I was with B, she was still worth a thousand more than this dead piece of meat.

“We both know that you would. So what do you say?” She asked quirking her left eyebrow.

"Can’t work. There is no way you can possibly touch her." I crossed my arms.

“How about the little one. The special one who wasn’t here before.”

Dawn

“It's sad really, that you would do anything for her.” She grinned, knowing, fucking knowing she had me. She was right. FUCK! I would do anything for B and Kiddo. So Ronnie was the bitch that had her. I should have known the second I saw her that this was who Annie was talking about, but I let my shock take over. This was not good. Because Ronnie knew how I worked, or at least -

“It's not sad, it's family. And I will. You won’t hurt her.” She knew the little Faith, the messed up whore, the kid who ran away because her step daddy couldn’t keep his pathetically small cock in his pants. She knew the freshly cut and bleeding Faith. But this one? The one standing in front of her, she didn’t know the hard Faith, the beaten Faith, and the Faith that survived in prison completely alone. She thought she had all of this tied up with a fucking pink bow. Well, not so fucking fast, Ronnie.

“Think you can stop me?”

“Know that I can.” I grinned, lifting my brow, my face hard, and I knew my eyes were glowing black.

Can you see it? Can you feel it, Ronnie? I am coming for you. I will feel your blood, and I will breath in your dust. And why? You fucking tried to play me, you fucking touched my family.

“If you were going to stake me, you would have done it by now.”

“Ah, you should know I like to play.” I grinned, feeling the stake humming against the small of my back, the wood grain dancing against my naked skin. I was nearly done with this playing, this talking.

“So do I, Faith. With a little added help of course.” She looked over my shoulder, but I refused to. I stared at her.

“Hey there luscious.”

“Spike?” I followed him with my eyes, as he came walking around me, his fingers dancing on my shoulder. I shivered. Fucking A!

“What did you expect? You did try to take my woman.” He chuckled moving to stand next to Ronnie.

“I didn’t have to try.” Ha! Brilliant! Awesome comeback Faith. – Stupid!!

“I’m sorry, wasn’t that you lurking, seeing me kissing her? And she liked it. I have talents you could never have. There is not enough silicon in the world.”

I rolled my eyes. This was just great! I had spent an hour being pissed at her, and he was probably playing her the whole time. When would I learn that I was worth something, and this little thing called trust was kind of important? I should I trusted her. I didn’t even allow her to finish a sentence, just cut her off and went storming off like a petulant child. DAMN!

“I never thought you were one to play nicely with others, Billy.”

"Ronnie here and I came to an understanding." He nodded over to her, and she smiled nodding. They were chummy little buddies. I wondered how long they had been planning this little fuck over.

“What about your chip?” I clung to some hope that he would be unable to touch Kiddo.

“Gone.” He smiled, changing into game face. “Helps to have a Watcher on your side.”

“You wouldn’t hurt Dawn.” I stressed, remembering how everyone told me, even B that he had dedicated himself to Kiddo. My hand slipped up my back, touching the end of the stake, tracing the top with my fingers.

“To get a piece of Buffy? Are you kidding? I am evil!”

...continued in Choices...

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