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Chosen

by Amberina
Rating: R

Disclaimer: I don't own Buffy or Faith (the fun we could have!) But Joss Whedon and his minions do.
Spoilers: Nothing major.
Author's Notes: Takes place a bit after season six. If you like it, tell me so. If you don't, I'd like to know, too. Faith is released from prison. This is her getting ready to go to Sunnydale. Sets the themes for the story.
Feedback: Please validate me.

+Prologue=1=2=3=4=5=6=7=8=Epilogue+

PROLOGUE

The first thing she did was go shopping. Angel had given her some money, and she planned to make good use of it.

She was about to buy a pair of faux leather pants when she realized that she really didn't want them anymore. What the fuck is wrong with me when I don't even want leather? Faith asked herself.

She ended up picking out a pair of dark denim jeans - tight enough to still be sexy, but not as restricting as her old uniform was - and a simple black tank top. I can still look hot, Faith thought as she checked herself out in the dressing room mirror.

She looked damn good.

She smiled at her image in satisfaction, and exited the dressing room. She stopped by the cosmetic counter to pick up some red lip stain. After her two years in prison totally sans makeup, she really didn't feel like getting all dolled up. But she still wanted to look good for B.

The thought of Buffy made her stomach do flip-flops. She could stand stark naked right in front of her and she would never notice. That girl could be so dense sometimes.

How could she not know how much Faith ached for her? How could she not see?

Faith didn't know why she was going to Sunnydale. She hated that place and everything in it. Everything except Buffy. But Buffy hated her, so that didn't really matter.

For some reason she knew she had to. She knew she had make things right with the one she loved, regardless of that girl's feelings toward her.

How could she not know how much she loved her? Maybe you didn't want her to know, she thought to herself.

*****

//Ronnie, deadbeat//

Veronica. Lame Bitch. Couldn't hold a candle to B.

//Steve, klepto//

And heroin addict and woman beater. Till Faith fucked him up good.

//Kenny, drummer//

Kendra. Wicked cute, but . . .

After Steve, Faith didin't want to let anyone in.

Not even B.

*****

After stopping to get a sandwich, she made her way to the bus station.

The man driving the bus was a kindly old black man. "How you doin', ma'am?"

Faith looked shocked for a moment. How long had it been since someone had asked her that? God, it seemed like years.

"Five by five."

The man smiled. "Do you mind if I ask what that means?"

"It's . . ." Faith trailed off. As much as she had said it, she never thought about where she picked it up, who from. She couldn't. Not if she wanted to stay sane. But then, there were people who would say she was fighting a battle long lost. People like B. "It's an aviator term," she said quickly, then made her way to her seat.

Only a few hours before she would arrive in Sunnydale, she realized.

What was she getting herself into?

PART 1

Disclaimer: Joss owns all the cool stuff! Also, I make no claim to the song, "Let's Get it On."
Author's Notes: Faith gets out of jail and heads to Sunnydale to make amends. Guess what happens next.

Her sentence was over. She was a free woman now. And where else would she go, but Sunnydale? Something kept drawing her to that hell-hole - as in literal hellhole, as in Hellmouth.

Maybe it was Buffy. She loved her more than anything in the world, and she was the one thing she had the least chance of getting.

Maybe it was the pain. She always liked it rough.

She dreamed about Buffy every night, nightmares, where Buffy would die, or she would die, and she'd never be able to tell Buffy how she felt, about how she longed to feel her touch, longed to taste her. That was her worst nightmare.

No vampires, no demons, could even touch that one, or her knowledge that the dream would probably come true. Buffy was straight like - something straight, anyway. Even if her only love didn't hate her, she still wouldn't have a chance.

But she would try anyway. She had to. She had to at least make her forgive her for all the shit she had done, if nothing else. She would head to Sunnydale to make amends.

*****

When she rolled into town, it was much like the first time. Get off the bus, slay some vamps, find the cheapest and often seediest motel room to crash in. Both times she had been running. But this time she was running *to* someone and someplace, not running *away* from.

The man at the desk, an Indian man with a thick accent and hairy arms, had eyed her with contempt. Probably figured she just wanted the room for an hourly thing. She could see the shock in his eyes when she told him she'd probably be staying for a while.

Her room wasn't exactly the Ritz, but neither was prison, either, so she'd deal. She thought she could make out the traces of a faint bloodstain on the sparse carpeting. Oh, well, that's how things went. She'd seen a fair amount of blood in her lifetime, and never was the queasy type besides.

The bed was lumpy and stained from the hourly sex-fun the manager was so weary of. Faith decided to sleep on top of the covers, mostly because of the mattress' stench.

She heated up a cold burger from the Doublemeat Palace and sipped on her watered-down cola, wishing Buffy was there right that moment. Or better yet, that she was with Buffy, in her bed. That would be nice.

After she filled her stomach, she flipped on the TV. There was some choice porn on, and she relaxed to watch the show.

A blonde girl who looked remarkably like Buffy, except with bigger tits - fake, of course - was fucking a dark-haired girl in the ass with a candlestick. Faith's hand slowly crept down her stomach and into her panties. She began to caress herself, imagining it was Buffy touching her, loving her. She wanted nothing more. She needed nothing more.

She needed to be loved.

*****

When Faith got up in the morning, the stench was too much to bear, she had to get out of there or she would puke her guts up.

It was early morning, and there was little activity outside. The moon still hung, opposite the bright sun in the sky.

She wandered the streets carelessly for what seemed like hours, until the sun started to burn her pale skin. The heat felt good, though, after the cold darkness of prison.

Eventually, around eight 'o clock, she found herself on the one street she didn't know if she was ready to be on.

Revello Drive.

Near Hadley.

Little Dawnie, not so little anymore, fifteen or sixteen, she should be by now, headed out of the house, and in the direction of the rebuilt Sunnydale High.

Dawn had gotten very pretty during the time Faith was locked up, and if the girl hadn't have came out of Buffy's house, she probably wouldn't have known who she was. But that was Dawn, alright, there was no doubt now. Faith really hoped she hadn't seen her, because the way she had treated her the last time she had been in town . . . Not so good..

Next, Xander came out, and Faith remembered what a good lay he had been. He looked very nice, obviously dressed for construction work, and . . . Faith ducked behind a bush. He was coming her way.

But, no, he was just getting in his car. Faith breathed a sigh of relief and stood back up after he drove off. She began to run, away from that house. She wasn't ready.

*****

A punch. A kick. Another kick. And a punch. Buffy was kicking ass. Too bad it was only the dummy Xander had made her. She felt really feisty that day, like she could beat up anything that came her way. In other words, she was having a rather rare good day.

Giles was visiting from England, and helping her train. The gang was just now getting used to life without the former Watcher, and he decides to come on holiday. That's okay though, Buffy thought as she proceeded to give the punching bag a mega-sized duffing up, He's - punch - welcome - kick - here - punch-kick combo - anytime - drop kick.

"Are you hungry?" Giles asked. "I'll buy you lunch, since I've taken to sleeping on your couch."

Buffy sighed and began to stretch. "Yeah. I could go for some chow. And you've been stuck eating British food for months, so how about something all-American? Like," she hopped up, "The Jade Dragon?"

"Buffy," Giles said, cleaning his glasses. "The Jade Dragon serves Chinese food."

"Yeah, what's more American than that?" And with that, she left for the bathroom to change into non-sweaty gear.

Giles just shook his head and stared after her with a father's love. That was his Slayer. That was his Buffy.

*****

Faith was hungry, so she decided to make a quick pit stop at the Jade Dragon, her favorite restaurant in Sunnydale. It had a kick-ass lunch buffet. It would certainly beat her soggy, greasy Doublemeat Palace Medley, or whatever they called that piece of shit, from the night before.

She was filling her plate with egg rolls, chicken egg foo young - with the pink gravy, the only kind that's acceptable - moo goo gai pan, and the like when she looked up across the buffet table, and there, standing right there in front of her was Rupert Giles.

She tried to duck away, but he saw her before she could manage.

"Faith?" Giles called, sounding more than a little weary. "I take it you're out of prison?" She thought she detected a touch of fear in his voice.

She tried for bravado. Didn't want to let him know how happy she was to be back, how good it was to see him. "Yeah, so you've got eyes. Very observant. I did my time, so get off my back."

"Are you - "

"Planning the grand body-swap? Planning to stake another mortal? Maybe meet up with some uber-demon so I can get an apartment?" When he didn't respond, she went on. "Not this time, G."

"I was asking if you're planning to stay." And then, on second thought, he added, "G?"

"Yeah, I think it suits you." She picked up her plate and started to walk to her table. "See you around."

"Faith?"

She turned around, but kept throwing sideways glances at her table as to not invite further conversation. Too bad.

"What are your intentions while you're here?"

"I don't know, G. It'd be good to eat."

"Yes, of course," he said, looking troubled. "Would you care to join Buffy and myself?"

"I don't think so," Faith declined, nervously. And then, honestly, "I don't think I'm ready to see her yet. You can understand why, I think."

Giles nodded and Faith made her way deeper into the restaurant, finding a table where the other Slayer and her former Watcher were in her eyeline, without it seeming stalker-like, or too much, anyway.

Just watching the act of the blonde beauty raise the fork to her mouth made Faith pulse with desire. She needed that girl. More than she needed anything else.

*****

As they ate, Giles thought about Faith, about how much he hoped she was telling the truth and didn't want any trouble. He didn't expect her to turn into Buffy overnight, nor did he ever want her to. He liked her as she was - tough, insolent, brash. That was Faith. Anything else would always be a show.

But that didn't mean she couldn't be good. As a matter of fact, Giles felt she had a burning desire to do so, and that with the right guidance, she could be an excellent person and an even better Slayer.

Unfortunately, he wasn't the one to guide her. If only he had learned that with Buffy before she . . . had to go through everything that she did. He blamed himself for that, for everything, really. Especially for Willow's magick abuse. If only he wouldn't have left . . .

But there was no use in that thought, so he returned to Faith.

She seemed sincere enough, but he didn't know if she would stay that way. She liked to flirt with the dark side, and there was only a matter of time before she fell over that edge once again.

He prayed that he was wrong.

*****

Giles and Buffy came home to find Dawn comforting a convulsing Willow on the living room floor, panicked and crying. "It's the withdrawal," Dawn cried, "It's too much for her. She needs - she needs help. Somebody please call nine-one-one before she dies!"

Giles took charge, handing Buffy the phone, and hoisting Willow up. "Call the hospital now, tell them we're coming in. There's no time for a bloody ambulance! Hurry! And - and - " He was almost out the door, still barking instructions to Buffy. "Call Xander and Anya. Tell them to meet us there. And tell her to close up the shop."

And with that he left. Dawn looked at Buffy, tears in her eyes. "Is she going . . . is she going to be okay?"

"Yes, um, get ready. We're leaving right after I call, uh, pack something to read or something." Buffy dialed the phone. The hospital. After her mother's illness, she had the number memorized. Even after death. "My friend Willow's convulsing, and she's on her way there. No, she's not driving. A ride. Her . . . step-father. It doesn't matter. Look, I expect her to be the first to be admitted, unless someone comes in with a goddamn axe through their head, okay? Thank you. Rosenberg. Thanks. Bye." She hung up the phone. Turned to Dawn, who seemed in shock. "Dawn, get your ass up, come on."

Dawn did so, her face blank, and Buffy returned to the phone. Xander and Anya should both be at the Magic Box, she thought.

She let it ring at least twenty times and then hung up when she got no answer. They'd have to get a hold of them later. "Dawnie, come on, we have to GO."

*****

The music swelled in the background. Marvin Gaye. "Let's get it on . . ."

Anya moaned as Xander kissed a trail up her neck. "I forgot how good this could be . . ."

The sound of the ringing phone jarred Xander from his work. "We gotta - "

"No, Xander. No phone, more smoochies."

*****

"Is she going to be okay?" Buffy asked the triage nurse.

The young woman shrugged. "I can't tell you anything about that."

"Well, then tell me who can," Buffy demanded. She spotted Giles and ran over to him. "Is she going to be okay, Giles?"

He furrowed his brow. "They say she has the symptoms of heroin withdrawal."

"So what's that mean? I mean, she wasn't on heroin."

"Magickal heroin, yes."

"So what? Is there, like, magickal methadone?"

Giles looked pained. "There is something, I'd have to call some old . . . friends, but I think I may be able to arrange something."

"What are they going to do for her here?"

Giles sighed and did that thing where he lightly scratches his forehead when in thought. "Make her comfortable. They can give her something for the seizures and the pain."

"Well, can I see her, Giles?"

Giles shook his head. "That's not up to me, you know that." When Buffy scowls he adds, "I think they're running tests on her at this moment, but I'm sure afterwards . . . "

Buffy sighed and looked around. "Where's Dawn?"

*****

Dawn swung her backpack around carelessly as she walked along a street. She didn't know the name of it, but that didn't matter to her. She just had to get out of that damn hospital. It brought back too many bad memories.

As she walked, in deep thought, she ran right into another girl. When she realized who it was, she moved to scream, but Faith quickly wrapped her hand over her mouth.

"Shh, D, what are you trying to do? It's not like I'm going to try to kill you." Faith hadn't ever tried to kill Dawn, she actually liked Dawn, but that didn't mean Dawn didn't have a reason to be afraid of her. Dawn started to calm down, so Faith released her. "I need to talk to you anyway," Faith said softly.

"T-talk?" Dawn barely choked out.

"Yeah, you know, chat." And then she added, "And lose the stutter, it's not pretty on you."

"O-okay."

They grabbed a booth in a small cafe across the street from the hospital and Faith bought herself and Dawn a cup of coffee.

"You know," Dawn said, sipping on the steaming cup. "Buffy says I'm too young for coffee."

"So?"

Dawn smiled faintly. "So . . . um, how was prison?"

"You really don't want to know."

Dawn nodded. "You wanted to, um, talk to me?"

"Right. D, I need you to do something for me."

Dawn eyed her suspiciously. "What?"

"I need you to bring me up in front of B, find out if she's still mad." If Buffy was still mad at her, she'd have to go about this an entirely different way than if she was ready to forgive.

Dawn snorted. "I'd say she's still pretty pissed."

"Has she said something?"

"No, not really, but . . . you tried to kill her, then you switched bodies with her and screwed her boyfriend."

"How do you know about that?"

Dawn blushed. "I hear . . . things sometimes. I listen."

Faith smiled slightly. "Good."

PART 2

Willow, not convulsing, but very stoned from all the meds the hospital was pumping into her system, looked at Buffy sleepily. "I'm so . . . "

Buffy grasped Willow's hand. "What, Will? Are you okay?"

"The . . ." she blinked, and looked confused. "What's going on?"

"You're in the hospital," Giles explained. "The withdrawal from the magick was too much for your body to take." Then he added under his breath, "Too much for anyone's body to take."

"It's fuzzy," she whispered, closing her eyes. "Like bunnies."

"God!" Buffy exclaimed, then turned to Giles. "What do they have her on?"

"What they need to have her on," Giles said, sharply. "And even that may not be enough."

Dawn walked into the room and Buffy turned to her. "Where have you been?"

"I - um, I was h-hungry, so I went, uh, across the street to th-that little restaurant and I - uh - ate." She prayed no one asked how she had money to pay for her food.

Willow stirred slightly and Buffy and Giles watched her intently. Until their concentration was broken by Dawn. "So, how about that Faith?"

Buffy turned around only to glare, but Giles raised his eyebrows, obviously in thought. "May I speak to you for a moment, Dawn?"

Dawn nodded and they headed out into the hall.

"You've seen Faith." It was more of a statement than an actual question.

"I, uh, yeah. I kind of, well, ran into her."

Giles nodded, then he looked her in the eye, his gaze intense. "Did she harm you or threaten you in any way?"

Dawn shook her head. "No, actually she was really nice."

Giles had apparently been holding his breath, because now it came out in a sigh. So she really is better, he thought. "What did she say to you?"

Dawn's eyes got wide. "Nothing!"

Giles furrowed his brow. "Dawn? What did she say to you?"

Dawn shook her head. "I can't say, not yet."

Giles let it go, but he still looked troubled over it. "But she didn't threaten you or anyone else?"

"Nope."

Giles sighed, knowing he was defeated. "All right."

When they went back into Willow's hospital room, Buffy was gathering up her belongings. "She's out. I'd better patrol."

Willow was, indeed, in a deep sleep.

"I think I'll leave, too," Giles said, "You ready, Dawn?"

Dawn rolled her eyes, and crossed her arms. Hospitals gave her chills. "So ready," she said, shivering slightly.

*****

Faith checked herself out in the cracked bathroom mirror. She looked a little washed-out, but that could just be the horrible lighting.

She rubbed a little of the lip-stain she had bought with the money Angel gave her into her cheeks, hoping to give them a little color. She silently cursed herself for not buying some eyeliner, too.

Oh, well, she still had a little money left after the shopping, bus there, eating, and paying for the room for a week. "Little" being the operative word, but enough for some cheap eyeliner. Anything over ninety-nine cents and she could forget eating the next day. But that was okay, because Wet 'n Wild was a quality brand.

She had no clothes except for what she was wearing so she couldn't exactly get dolled up that way, but all she was doing was going on patrol, so she could deal. Soon, though, she'd have to change, she'd have to buy something else to wear, but where she would get that money, she had no idea.

Maybe she could get a job, but she doubted there was anything out there she would be qualified for, interested in, and, well, she needed a place that could over-look the ex-con deal. And she was so not into stripping.

She sighed and headed out. The air was a crisp, but comfortable against her skin. Perfect weather for slaying.

She grasped a stake firmly in her hand, as she faced off against what she took for a vampire. But she couldn't be too sure after what had happened with the Deputy Mayor. She kicked some ass, but waited for the inevitable morph into vamp face before slamming the stake home.

God, that felt good. She hoped maybe there'd be a good movie on TV when she got home, so she could release that tension, but she had no money, of course, for her to take care of the hungry thing. She had already had her meal of the day.

She'd have to slay like crazy and then screw her own brains out. Hopefully, by then, she'd be tired enough to sleep. That way she wouldn't have to think about food. With her look, though, the porno would probably include food.

*****

"Here vampy, vampy, vampy," Buffy called out. "I know you're here somewhere."

As she prowled through the cemetery for evil activity, she let her thoughts wander.

Would Willow be all right? She hoped so, beyond anything, she wanted for her friend to be all right. But even Giles seemed worried, and that, in turn, had her beyond worried. If Giles wasn't sure she'd pull through . . .

And what was that Dawn had said? "How about that Faith?" What would make her say that? Was Faith already out of prison? Had she met up with Dawn? She had so many questions, and wondered when they would be answered.

But she didn't wonder for too long, because soon enough she came upon a small nest of vamps - four to be exact.

She knew she could take two easy, three with effort, but four, all alone? Only one way to find out . . .

She began a punching-kicking frenzy, quickly dusting two of them, and then looked around to realize that the other two were gone.

But standing there, with a stake grasped firmly in her hand, was Faith.

"Hey, B."

PART 3

Spoilers: "Grave"
Note: This is where the story begins to unfold. It also made me realize that I'm going to need more chapters than I thought, so expect a lot more.

Buffy stared at Faith with her mouth dropped open. "Fa - you're - when - should I run now?"

"No! Don't run, okay? Look, I'm not here to try to hurt you or anyone else."

"Then what are you here for?"

"To talk. I just need to talk to you."

Buffy rolled this around in her head for a moment, and finally she said, "Fine. We can talk."

*****

Instead of having a little chat in the middle of the graveyard, they decided to go to a little twenty-four-hour cafe. Buffy ordered coffee, and Faith decided to forgo the eyeliner and bought herself a cup too.

"So, talk," Buffy said bluntly.

"Okay, about what happened, when, when I woke up, it wasn't . . ." How could Faith say this the right way? She realized she'd have to choose between baring her soul and not making her case for forgiveness. She tried to find the happy medium. "I didn't mean to - to hurt you, I mean . . . " God, why couldn't she just say what she had told Angel? Why couldn't she just tell Buffy that she did it so she could be near Buffy, that she did it because that was the only way she could be in her? That she did it because not only was she in love with Buffy, but Buffy was everything she wished she could be. But just like she could never be like Buffy, she could never tell her that. "I didn't mean to hurt you."

"Oh, okay," Buffy said sarcastically. "Hate to see if you would actually try to hurt me, Faith. What would you do then? Would you, I don't know, set me up for murder? Maybe you'd try to kill me? Or maybe you'd steal my body and leave me with scumbag Watcher guys who think I'm a mur - who think I'm you? Or, oh, maybe you'd sleep with my boyfriend. Oh, that's right, you already did all that."

"Buffy, I - I know you don't believe that I'm, well, I'm not like I used to be. But I'm not. I've changed."

"How am I supposed to know that's true? How am I supposed to know that you're not just biding your time until you can pull the whole switcheroo thing again?"

Faith looked at her with pleading eyes. "Because I'm telling you I'm not."

Buffy rolled her eyes. "Since when does your word count for anything?"

Faith shook her head, and tried to control her anger. After realizing that she probably wouldn't be able to, she got up. "Look, B, I wanted to talk, but all you're doing is attacking me, so I'll leave and let you do whatever people like you do, okay?"

"People like me?"

Faith turned around and walked away, calling back to Buffy, "Let me know when you're ready to talk to me."

*****

Buffy leaned back in the booth, feeling like shit. Why couldn't she just hear Faith out? She wanted to believe she was telling the truth, but she couldn't bring herself to.

She imagined how she would feel in Faith's situation, and realized that she'd probably feel worse than she did right at that moment.

She got up, leaving the money for the bill on the table. She had to find Faith.

*****

Willow woke up in the middle of the night, groggy and still more than a little stoned. But she was awake enough to know there was something in her room, and it wasn't something that should be hanging out in a hospital room.

"What . . . " Willow began, her voice coming out weak.

The figure approached her, and Willow's eyes got wide as she realized, if not what it was, who it was. "Ta . ." she cleared her throat, and although it didn't help much, she could get the full name out now. "Tara."

Tara leaned down and kissed her damp forehead. "Shh, honey, I know it's hard for you to speak."

"Th . . . think."

Tara smiled. "Hard for you to think, too, huh? That's a first - Willow not thinking."

"I do."

"I know you do. You always will."

Willow smiled softly, and closed her eyes, but she did not fall back asleep. "How?"

Tara knew exactly what she was talking about. "The Powers - I wanted to come see you, and they let me." It wasn't that simple, but Willow didn't need to know that right then, or ever.

"Not . . . mad?"

"No, sweetie, I'm not mad. I'm disappointed, of course, but I'm not mad. What you did was wrong, and now you are suffering the repercussions of it, you know that."

"Yes."

Tara softly stroked Willow's hair away from her forehead. "You're going to be okay."

"F . . . fact?"

"Yes. There's something . . . Faith can - " Tara realized she was saying too much and changed the subject. "I love you, Will. I will always love you."

Willow, though stoned, was not completely out of it, and she had caught on. "Faith?"

"I have to go," Tara said abruptly, and Willow didn't have the strength to argue. "I'll be back." After laying a soft kiss on Willow's lips, she disappeared.

*****

"Oh, god," Anya said, perching herself on a balance beam. "Makeup sex is quite enjoyable."

Xander gave her a kiss and smiled. "That it is, Ahn, that it is."

Anya smiled. "You lasted - " she looked at her watch. "A whole hour - and a half! And you gave me two orgasms, not counting that one time when you - "

"Ahn, you want to go home?"

Anya's eyes lit up. "Home? As in - "

"It's still your home, even after everything."

"Can we have more makeup sex?"

"Sure, just give me time to recuperate."

"Recuperation is for sissies," Anya said as she followed Xander through the Magic Box. She spotted the light on the answering machine flashing and walked over to it. "Wait, we have a message." She pushed the playback button, and Buffy's voice came out of the little speaker. She sounded panicked.

"Guys, Giles took Willow to the hospital. She's really - you need to get there *now,* okay? Bye."

"Oh, my God, Will!" Xander exclaimed, rushing Anya to the car.

"Does this mean we're not going to have sex again?"

*****

Buffy quickly caught up with Faith, and Faith looked almost hopeful, but her words were as tough as ever. "Come to bitch me out again?"

"I'm not here to bitch you out."

"Then what are you here for?"

"To talk."

Faith scoffed. "Right. You mean you'd lower yourself to talk to the likes of me? I'm impressed, B."

Buffy's face instantly hardened. "As you should be. Listen to me, all right? I don't care why you did what you did. I don't care. However, if you're going to stay in Sunnydale, you are going to stay away from me and my family and friends, got it?"

Faith struggled to speak for a moment, but finally choked out, "That's not likely."

Buffy sighed. "What do you want, then?"

"I want for you to hear me out. I want you to listen to me. I want you to stop being such a goddamned bitch, okay?"

Buffy didn't let Faith's words affect her, but she did soften a bit. "I'll hear you out, but I can't promise not to be a bitch."

Faith felt relieved with those words, and led Buffy to her motel room.

PART 4

Dawn sat in her room, reading a book, when suddenly Tara appeared in the middle of her room, and Dawn screamed.

"Shh, Dawnie, no!" Tara exclaimed, trying to get her to calm down. "It's all right. Just - okay."

"H-how are you here?" Dawn asked, her eyes wide.

Tara sat down on Dawn's bed. "I'm not really here, but I am. I'm a projection, kind of." She held out her arm and Dawn touched it, her hand going right through it.

"Whoa."

"Dawn? I don't have much time, I can't stay here too long. But I need you to do something."

"What?"

Tara's face got really serious. "What you and Faith talked about - It's very important that you do what she asks."

"Why?"

Tara looked pained, searching for the right words. "I can't tell you, but it is very important. I mean this, Dawn. You must do what she asks you to do, okay? Do you promise me?" Dawn nodded and Tara smiled. "You have no idea how important you are." And then she was gone.

Giles burst through the door. "I heard screaming, are you all right?"

Dawn nodded. "I'm fine. It was just a spider, I killed it."

Giles studied her for a moment, and then apparently accepting the answer, left and closed the door behind him.

Dawn threw herself back on the bed and stared up at the ceiling. What was going on? And what did Tara mean by her being important?

*****

Faith and Buffy sat side-by-side on Faith's bed.

"It smells icky in here," Buffy commented lightly.

Faith gave her a look and began. "Listen, I can't go back and I can't take back the shit I have done, but I can be sorry for it. I am so sorry for it. I was out of control, I was reckless. I have had a lot of time to think and there's one thing I know, B."

Buffy looked at her, one eyebrow raised. "And what is that?"

Faith didn't know what to say for a moment. She couldn't just come out and say "I love you." She had to work her way up to that. "I know that I need you in my life, I need you to help me. I need your forgiveness and I am willing to do whatever it takes to get it."

Buffy looked stunned, at a total loss for words. "Faith, you're serious about this?" she asked finally.

"Deadly." Okay, maybe that was a bad choice of words, but Buffy didn't seem bothered by it, so Faith figured that it was all right. "How have you been?" She asked it genuinely, like she really cared, which she did.

Buffy seemed almost shocked by the caring tone of Faith's voice. "I . . . not so good, actually. I died, always a bummer."

"Wow, B, I didn't know - " Faith looked down. "No one told me."

Buffy looked at her sympatheticly for a moment. "Yeah, and then Willow brought me back with major black-magick voodoo. And I started fucking Spike."

Faith's mouth dropped open. "Spike? As in - " Thoughts of warm champagne flittered through her brain, but she shook the thoughts away. "God."

"It's - it was stupid. It's over."

Faith nodded, trying to process the information.

Buffy shrugged, her eyes got a very far-away look. "He's been gone - he probably went to get his chip out. He probably did. He'll probably try to kill me."

"B - I'm . . . "

"Don't be. Life sucks. Then you die. And then you live again. And it sucks. And then you die again. And then you live again and more suckage - oh, God, what is my problem?" Buffy sighed, and Faith noticed just how worn-down she looked.

Faith got up and walked over to the mini-fridge. "You want something to drink? I have some soda."

Buffy smiled softly. "Yeah."

Faith grabbed them both cans and handed Buffy's to her.

Buffy took hers gratefully. "Thanks."

Faith nodded, and Buffy continued. "So then this nerd freak with a fucking Star Trek obsession killed Tara."

Tara . . . The name seemed familiar somehow. Then it clicked. "Red's girl?"

Buffy nodded. "Yeah. And Will went all uber-Wicca, and killed him - I have to say," she looked at Faith with a small smile. "He deserved it."

Faith shook her head, disturbed by Buffy's words. If the Trekkie killing Tara was worth his life, then what about her? Did Buffy think she deserved to be dead? "No, I'm - " She turned away from Buffy.

Realization slowly crept into Buffy's brain, and she felt like shit. She hadn't realized what her words would sound like to Faith. "I didn't mean - "

Faith tried to brush it off. "Didn't mean what?" She cleared her throat. "So then what happened?"

"Well, Willow was all hopped up and raving mad with magick and vengeance and she tried to kill us all. And then she tried to destroy the world and eventually Xander - he saved the world and all of us."

Faith knit her eyebrows together. "Xander? How - ?"

"It's a long story. But he was the only one who could really reach her." Buffy looked down, and Faith detected a bit of guilt in her. "It - and now she's dealing with the withdrawal and - " Buffy tried to conceal her tears, "she may die. Giles thinks she will. He doesn't say it, but I know he does."

Faith was stunned. "I'm sure she'll be okay."

Buffy gave her a look of bewilderment. "Where is the real Faith? I know there has to be a pod around here somewhere."

Faith had to smile. "I really have changed."

Buffy began to realize that maybe she really had. Out of everything, that lifted her spirits a bit. "Are you hungry? Pizza - on me."

"Sounds great." The night was looking up.

*****

Xander and Anya had to sneak past the nurses at the hospital. Visiting hours were long over, but they didn't care. At least Xander didn't care. He had to see Willow.

When they entered the room, Willow struggled to sit up. "Tara?"

Xander exchanged a look with Anya and Anya said softly, "She's dead."

Willow shook her head and sunk back against her pillow. "No . . . she . . . she . . . was here."

"You're delusional," Anya said assuringly.

Xander shot her a look. "What she means is - " then he gave up trying to sugarcoat Anya's comment. "Are you okay, Will?"

Willow groaned. "N . . . no."

Xander sat down in a chair next to her bed. "Willow, I am so sorry. I - this is my fault."

At the same time Willow managed to get out a pained "It's not," Anya had offered up, "No it's not, Xander! She's the one who decided to go all bad ass Wicca."

Xander considered this. "So it's not my fault. God, Will, I love you."

Willow looked up at him, her eyes blinking away tears. "Love . . . dies."

*****

Faith and Buffy ate in silence, until Buffy finally said, "So you have cable here?"

"Yeah - but it's mostly the porno channels."

Buffy smiled. "Girly porno or guy porno?"

Faith thought back to the movie she had caught the night before. "Um . . . a little bit of both." She almost thought that Buffy was going to suggest that they watch one, but she didn't.

After they had finished, Buffy layed out on Faith's bed. "Pretty comfy digs, if you ignore the stench."

Faith stretched out beside her and stared at the cracks in the ceiling - which were abundant. God, was she really lying next to Buffy?

Buffy flipped over to face her. "You know, this is kind of nice. Reminds me of before - well, you know. We had a lot of fun."

"We did."

Buffy stared at her, a small smile forming on her lips. "We're Slayers, girlfriend."

"The Chosen Two," Faith completed. "Two girls in all the world."

"Two women," Buffy corrected. "We actually lived to be women - granted some of us took little death breaks in between but still - that's like a record."

"We're special," Faith said smugly.

"Yeah, but not special ed."

"Speak for yourself," Faith said with a self-deprecating grin.

Buffy laughed. "Anyone ever tell you how pretty you are when you smile?"

Faith sighed and flipped over to lie on her back. "I haven't exactly gotten many compliments in my life, but thanks, B." Did Buffy really call her pretty? Paging the Twilight Zone . . .

"Really, you are. You should smile more often." Buffy sat up and looked down at Faith. "Smile."

Faith gave her an overexaggerated grin, and Buffy laughed. She looked over at the clock. "Oh! I have to get home. Dawn will start worrying and - by the way, what happened with Dawn?"

Faith shrugged. "I just bought her a cup of coffee. It's not like I told her my deepest secrets." Except that I did, she thought.

Buffy seemed to believe her. "This has been great, Faith. I'm glad I actually listened to what you had to say."

"So am I."

"So . . ." Buffy said as she and Faith stood at the door. "I'll see you tommorrow?"

Faith smiled for her. "You bet, B."

PART 5

Faith woke up the next morning happy. It was the first night since she could remember that she didn't have the dream. The one where she . . . and Buffy . . . She supposed there was no use in thinking about that anymore, because she and Buffy - their relationship was okay.

There was more stuff they had to work through, of course, but they had bonded, actually bonded. It had been a total Kodak moment.

Faith got out of bed and stretched, and then there was a knock at the door. She perked up even further. Could it be Buffy? "Hold on," she called as she slipped her pants on.

She opened the door, but instead of Buffy standing there, it was Giles. "Faith, I - Did I wake you?" He surveyed her messy hair and pillow-creased face.

Faith smiled, just like Buffy had told her to, though it was a bit weak seeing as she had just woken up.

"Nah, I was awake."

"Oh, well, would you care to get some coffee?"

Faith considered. "Aah . . . I really can't."

Giles knit his eyebrows together. "All right, then. I'll be going." He turned to leave.

"Wait, Giles - maybe I can gather some change together!"

Giles turned around, releived. "Oh, well, you don't have to worry about that. I'll buy you coffee."

"Okay."

*****

Buffy got up and made her way downstairs to get some breakfast for herself before heading off to the hospital. Dawn was sitting there picking at an apple, in deep thought.

"Dawnie, what's up with the heavy contemplation?" Buffy asked cheerily.

"Just thinking. About stuff. Nothing really. Just . . . stuff," Dawn said softly. She twirled the uneaten apple on the counter like a top.

"All right. Someone's got secrets - which I will find out."

Dawn shrugged. "Yeah, probably will. So last night you came in late."

"I did. Faith's back in town - but you already know that," Buffy gave Dawn her questioning look.

"Yes, I know things," Dawn said simply, and then grabbed her bookbag off of the counter. "See ya."

"Wait. Where do you think you're going?" Buffy asked.

"School. Unless you think it's unnessacary, then . . . "

Buffy shook her head. "No, you're going to school. Just, uh, how did you talk to Faith?"

Dawn sighed. "I ran into her. In the embarrassingly litteral sense. She bought me coffee. We talked. Nothing big. Bye!"

"Wait, wait, wait! What did you two talk about?"

Dawn shrugged. "Stuff. Nothing - and even if it was something, it's not exactly my place to tell you. Faith'll tell you when she's ready to, okay? Bye." Dawn promptly left, letting the door slam behind her.

Buffy leaned against the island and sighed. Not her place to tell her? What was that supposed to mean? Exactly what had Faith told her that would be so private? Why would she tell her something so private? It didn't make sense at all.

The only thing she could think of was maybe something to do with - oh. Oh.

Buffy felt herself begin to blush. She couldn't believe she hadn't seen it before.

*****

Xander held Willow's hand while she slept. Anya had left to get something to eat, but Xander refused to leave her side. He felt so guilty for not being there earlier.

Willow stirred slightly and Xander perked up. When she opened her eyes, Xander said, "Hey, good morning, Sunshine."

Willow looked confused for a moment, and then she settled back as she remembered what had happened. "Xander," she said softly, barely over a whisper, "Tara came."

Xander knit his eyebrows together. "Tara? I mean, she's - "

"Dead." Willow coughed, pretty much hacked up a lung, and then continued, "I know. But . . . she . . . " Willow sighed, and closed her eyes again, exhausted, even after sleeping through the night. "She was here."

Xander was beyond confused. Tara was there? How? The only thing he could think of was . . . But no, because Willow was far too weak to attempt that again, and she wouldn't anyway. Hopefully she wouldn't. Xander sighed. "I believe you, Will. I do. What did she say when she was here?"

"That . . . I'll be . . . okay. There's something . . . Faith," Willow sighed, "She could . . . do something. I don't . . . know."

Now Xander was really confused. "Faith?"

*****

Faith and Giles sat in a little coffee shop, sipping coffee. Faith smiled slightly. "So, it's been a whole day and I haven't tried to kill anybody."

Giles met her smile with a weary one. "Of course you would wait a bit longer than that."

Faith studied him for a moment, and then finally said, "Yeah, I guess you're right. But I'm not going to do anything, I swear. I'm trying to make amends, and I understand the fact that you guys may not be willing to be instant with the forgiveness. That's okay. I know I have to work for it, and I will."

Giles nodded. "I've contacted the Council. They are preparing to send you a Watcher."

Faith sighed. "It's only fair, I guess. But, uh, why can't you be my Watcher?"

Giles got a far-away look in his eyes. "I am no longer a Watcher, Faith. I live in England. I am only here on holiday. There is - I cannot be your Watcher, I'm sorry."

Faith swallowed back a drink of her coffee, and sighed. "So, what about Wes?" He was another one she had to make amends with. When she had stopped by Angel Investigations before leaving for Sunnydale, he hadn't been there. When she asked about him, Angel just got a hard look in his eyes and changed the subject.

Giles shook his head. "Wesley Wyndham-Price is no longer employed by the Council."

"Oh." She so did not look forward to meeting her new Watcher. She had always assumed that either Giles or Wesley would be her Watcher. "So, when do I get to meet him or her?"

Giles shrugged. "I'm not sure. They were loathe to give me any useful information. I'll call them later today. I also need to call the coven about Willow."

"Coven - Willow? What?"

"Oh, terribly sorry. Of course you haven't a clue what I am talking about. Do you know about what Willow - what happened with Willow?"

Faith nodded.

"I was in England at the time, and I was contacted by a very powerful coven about a large burst of magick coming out of Sunnydale - Willow. I suspect they will be the best source of information at this point for what Willow is going through now." His eyes got misty.

"Giles?"

Giles blinked away his tears and snapped back to earth. "Yes?"

"Will you take me to see her?"

"Of course."

*****

When Faith and Giles arrived at the hospital, Xander, Anya and Buffy were sitting around Willow's bed.

Buffy smiled when she saw Faith. "Hey."

Faith nodded. "Hey, B." She kept her gaze fixed on Willow's frail form in the hospital bed. "Wow, Red."

Willow narrowed her eyes. "F . . . Faith."

Xander looked at Buffy questioningly and Anya jabbed Xander in the arm. "Who's that?"

Xander glanced at Anya. "The other Slayer. Faith."

Anya's eyes got wide. "Oh. Please don't kill us."

Giles looked at Anya disapprovingly, and she lowered her head.

Faith slowly made her way towards Willow. "I - uh, I'm sorry," Faith said softly to no one in particular. She bit her lip. There was once a time she would have pretended not to care, but things were different now, and she did care. She glanced at Buffy, unsure if her earlier statement of "I'm sure she'll be okay" still applied.

"Leave . . . us . . . alone," Willow said, her speech labored.

Faith was hurt. Of course, she hadn't expected Willow to welcome her with open arms, but this was kind of rude. As she began to walk out of the room, she heard, faintly, "No," from Willow and she turned around.

Willow waved her hand around the room, indicating the whole group. "Leave Faith . . . and me . . . alone."

Everyone exchanged confused looks but obeyed. Faith sat down in what had been Xander's chair at the head of the bed, right beside Willow. "Hey, Red."

Willow looked at her, tears in her eyes. "Make me better . . . please, Faith . . . please." Her voice was pathetic and pleading.

Faith didn't know what to think. How was she supposed to make her better?

PART 6

Note: Let me warn you now that I am not going to guarantee a happy ending. Sorry.

"What?" Faith asked, stunned. "What do you mean? How can I - "

Willow shook her head and sighed. "You can . . . I'm not sure . . . how, but you . . . can."

Faith pulled away from Willow. "I can't. I'm not a doctor or a witch, I can't help you. I'm sorry, but I can't."

Willow sat back, looking pitiful. "Tara said. She said that . . . you could. I know you can." Her voice was now more forceful. "Make. Me. Better."

Faith got up and called out into the hall, "Buffy, come here."

Buffy entered the room and glanced at Faith's weirded-out expression. Faith pulled her to the side and whispered. "She wants me to make her better. She said that Tara said I could. Tara's dead, right?"

"Yeah, for months now," Buffy said, perplexed. "I need to talk to you later, after we find out what all this is about." Buffy sighed and walked over to Willow's bed. "Will? What did Tara say about Faith?"

"She can make me better," Willow said, managing to get it out in one breath. "Tara said."

Buffy and Faith exchanged a look and then ventured out into the hall where Giles, Xander and Anya were waiting.

"See?" Anya said. "She's crazy. The magick has her demented."

"Dementy fresh," Xander quipped softly, his eyes glued to the floor as he rocked back and forth on his heels.

Buffy shook her head. "Maybe not. How could Tara have visited her, in Hellmouth terms? What are we talking? Ghost?"

Giles lifted his glasses off of his nose and then set them back down. "I'm not quite sure. It is certainly possible. What has me more concerned is her claim that Faith can heal her."

Faith nodded. "Yeah, wicked weird. I'm no healer. I can't help her - I wish I could, but I can't."

Giles shook his head. "No. We need to think this through. If Tara really did visit her from beyond the grave, and did relay this message, then we should assume at the moment that it is true. Now that doesn't mean I know how it's true, but we must assume that it is."

Faith was completely perplexed. "I can't heal her, Giles. I have no magick power, I - I can't." Faith seemed almost remorseful at what she assumed as fact. But she had no idea what would come of the next twenty-four hours.

*****

For lunch, Buffy and Faith went to the same little cafe that Faith had talked to Dawn in.

"Um, Faith, Dawn inadvertantly told me about what you guys talked about."

Oh, god, here it comes, Faith thought. I thought I would have more time. She sighed, and tried to play it cool. "Oh, yeah? What's that, B?"

"Faith, do you have a crush on me?" Buffy asked it in a way where it was impossible to gauge her feelings about it.

"Well, I - " might as well just say it, "Yeah, I do. I'm in love with you, B."

Buffy just leaned back in her chair, in thought. "Okay."

*****

When Buffy and Faith arrived at the hospital again, Giles and Xander were leaning over Willow's bed, watching her closely, while Anya was up pacing.

"What's going on?" Buffy asked, worried.

"She's gotten worse," Giles informed them.

Buffy walked over to Willow and took her hand in her's. "Willow," she said, tears coming to her eyes, "I will find a way to make you better. I promise."

"Buffy," Giles warned.

Buffy glared at him. "Find out how to fix this. Find out how Faith fits into all this. Find out - "

But before she could get that out, Tara appeared.

"Don't say anything," Tara said. "Just listen." She turned to Faith. "You can heal her."

Anya and Xander exchanged a look, while Giles, Buffy and Faith hung on her every word.

"How?" Faith asked.

Tara shook her head. "It's not time yet. I'll be back. Just please pick Dawn up from school. Soon." And with that, she disappeared again.

"Oh, my God," Xander sighed.

"I'll go," Buffy said, her voice shaking. She turned to Faith, "Want to come?"

Faith nodded. "Yeah."

Buffy turned to Giles now. "You make sure she doesn't die, okay? You don't fucking let her die!"

"Buffy - " Giles started, but Buffy cut him off.

"Don't you dare let her die, Giles," tears were pouring down her cheeks, "Don't you dare."

She spun on her heels and out of the room, and Faith followed behind.

*****

Faith was driving, because Buffy was too upset to. "Are you okay, B?"

Buffy sighed and wiped away her tears. "No, not really. Thanks for caring, though. I really appreciate it."

Faith smiled softly. "She'll be okay. Tara'll tell me how to do whatever and she'll be okay."

Somehow Faith's reassurance didn't help at all, it just deepened the sinking feeling in Buffy's stomach. "Faith, stop the car."

"What?"

"Stop the car."

Faith pulled off to the side of the road and stared at Buffy questioningly.

Buffy unhooked her seatbelt and kissed Faith, all at once softly, and passionately.

When she pulled back, the look on Faith's face was of shock and happiness. "B, do you really know what you're-"

But Buffy silenced her with yet another kiss, this one deeper, hungrier. "Faith," she moaned into her mouth, "I need you."

Faith accepted the kisses with as much hunger as Buffy. The only thing that broke them apart was the honk of a car horn and someone hooting out their window.

Buffy and Faith both rearranged themselves and sat silently in the car, until Faith finally started it up again. "We better get Dawn."

"Yeah."

*****

Somewhere up in heaven, Tara was smiling.

"Are you sure this is going to work out?" Joyce asked her.

Tara sighed. "I hope so. But aren't they so cute?"

Jenny and Joyce linked hands. "Yeah, they are," Jenny agreed.

"I just don't want it to fail and for Buffy to be - and even if it works, there will still be pain for my daughter," Joyce said, worried.

Tara shook her head. "The Powers know what is best. Everything is going to work out how they should, even if that's not how we would prefer for them to work out. There is always a price to pay for everything. Faith healing Willow is no different, but it's how the Powers want it."

Joyce and Jenny nodded solemnly.

PART 7

Note: The end. Hope you like it! It's kind of bittersweet, but I think it's kind of perfect. Don't hate me. I know I'm going to get flamed. Oh, well. Enjoy anyway!

"What's going on?" Dawn asked, her eyes full of fear. The last time Buffy showed up at her school in the middle of the day, it had been to tell her that her mom was dead. "Is Willow . . .?"

Buffy's eyes got wide. "No, she's . . . not yet. You have to come with us, though. I'll sign you out."

Dawn turned to Faith. "What's going on?"

"Willow's going to be fine. Tara came and told us that I can heal her. I'm not sure how, but I believe her. She also told us to get you. So whatever's going to happen, I guess it's going to happen soon," Faith explained the best she could.

Dawn nodded. "Tara came to me last night, too. She, uh, told me that I was important, and that I had to help you get together with . . ." she glanced at Buffy, "I mean - "

"It's okay, Dawn. I know," Buffy assured her, and pulled Faith's hand into her own.

Dawn's eyes got wide. "Oh! Oh, my God. That is great, so beyond great. You two - " squeal, "Yea!"

"Don't celebrate yet. Willow's getting majorly worse," Buffy said, sharply, squeazing Faith's hand.

Dawn's expression changed to a sober one. "What are waiting for? Let's go."

*****

They arrived back at the hospital to find Xander and Giles softly crying, while Anya played with her hands nervously.

Faith bit her lip at the scene, it was pathetic. It was the saddest thing she had ever seen, these two grown men reduced to sobbing heaps in the hard, blue platic chairs. And Anya, for all her talk, looked completely lost. A glance at Willow told her what was going on - Willow's breathing had gotten even more labored, so much that it looked painful as she took each breath. She was dying, there was no question about it now.

Buffy burst into tears at the sight of her friend and Dawn's eyes kind of glazed over, leaving her expressionless except for her wide eyes.

"Tara," Faith said softly, calling to the - well, she wasn't entirely sure what she was - to come and tell her what she had to do. She would do anything. Fuck, she would even die. But she didn't have time to expand on that thought, for Tara appeared again.

She smiled faintly at Faith. "I was going to come now anyway."

"Is it time?" Giles asked.

Tara nodded and that was when Willow's breathing completely stopped. "It's time."

PART 8

"How's this work?" Faith asked as she stood grasping Dawn's hand over Willow's unmoving body.

Giles, Buffy, Anya and Xander stood off to the side, nervous, and there was a faint sob every now and then, but no one seemed to notice.

Tara stood at the bottom of the bed, and directed the two nervous yound women over Willow. "Faith, everyone has an inate magickal quality. You are an energizer. Dawn is an adaptor and Willow is an absorber. Your energy travels through Dawn and into Willow, healing her and purging her of all the offending magickal energy. Dawn, place your other hand on Willow's stomach." Dawn complied and Tara went on. "Faith, place your other hand on your stomach." After Faith had done so, Tara nodded. "Just breathe."

Faith and Dawn simultaneously sucked in their breaths and let it out in a gentle "whoosh."

"Concentrate on the energy traveling out of your stomach and up through your arm, across your shoulders and into your other arm, and finally into Dawn's hand. Dawn, concentrate on the energy traveling up you arm and across your shoulders," Tara nidded as the golden energy traveled as she said it would, slowly but surely, "and into your other arm, and finally into Willow's center." The whole line of the energy was glowing as it traveled into Willow.

Buffy looked at Giles and he put his arms around her. "It's working, Buffy," he said in a hushed whisper.

Xander and Anya embraced as they watched the four young women with bated breath. "Is she going to be okay?" Anya asked softly.

Xander nodded. "I think so."

Then a strange thing happened. Willow sat up, and pushed Dawn's hand off of her. "What's going on?"

For a moment everyone stared at her in shock, and then everyone, began to hug her. Faith, Dawn, Buffy, Xander, Anya, Giles, they all embraced her. Tara stood back and smiled, and then disappered.

"You're alive!" Anya shouted with delight.

"Aren't I usually? Oh, God, I was so weak and then - and then it was like blackness for a minute. But then - God, Buffy it was amazing! Your mother and Mrs. Calendar came to me and told me that I'd be okay. They told me not to get comfortable, because I'd be coming back. And - and Cordelia was there, and she told me that she's been taking care of Tara for me. Now that I think of it, maybe I should be jealous, but hey, it's heaven and there was this whole higher level thing and - oh, my God! Faith!"

Everyone spun around just in time to see Faith collapse on the hospital room floor. Buffy rushed to her side and kneeled beside her.

"Faith - " Buffy began, tears in her eyes.

Faith shook her head. "I'm dying. But don't be sad. I did what I had to do. Come on, B. There's a price for everything. You know that."

Buffy looked up at Giles, but he seemed to be in shock.

"B, I'm glad I got to get things right with you. I love you, and I only wish you could have been my girl for longer." Buffy began to cry and Faith reached up with a weak hand. "No, B, don't cry. It's all right. Cordelia's there and so is Tara, and your mom, and I'm not sure who Mrs. Calendar is, but she's there, too. I know I've done some shit, but I think I'll be with them now." Faith simply closed her eyes and the life drifted out of her.

Anya kneeled beside Buffy and wrapped her arms around the suddenly very vulnerable looking Slayer. "It's okay, Buffy, shh, it's all right."

Giles leaned down and brought Faith's wrist into his head, feeling for a pulse. It only confirmed what they already knew. Faith was dead.

EPILOGUE

Faith, Tara, Cordelia and Kendra watched as Buffy sat on Faith's grave, bawling her eyes out.

"Man, she must have liked me more than I thought," Faith said sadly.

Cordelia looked at her like she was stupid. "Come on, Faith. She loved you."

Faith looked flabbergasted and Tara and Kendra nodded. "She did," Tara confirmed. "She has loved you for quite a while. But the feelings scared her."

"It is true. I've been watching your melodrama the whole time," Kendra said with a grin.

Faith smiled. "So B loved me? I can live with that." The three other women looked at her strangely and she realized what she had said. "Oh, well, you know what I mean."

*****

Buffy couldn't believe it. Faith had died to save Willow. It was almost poetic in the sense of it never should have happened and curse the powers kind of way. But then, she had died to save Dawn not too long ago.

She wished that Faith was still there, she wished that Faith would have known how she felt about her - how much she loved her, but none of her wishes really mattered, she guessed.

Giles stood over her, the sunlight glinting off of his glasses. "Do you need more time?"

Buffy shook her head and gave one last glance at the grave of the one she loved. "No. Let's go."

In the gust of wind that almost blew her skirt over her head, she could have sworn she heard, "We're Slayers, girlfriend."

"The Chosen Two," Buffy completed.

The End

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