Faith, Hope and No More Tricks
by Anne
Rating: PG-13

Disclaimer: Joss Whedon and any others who own the characters of BtVS, I'm just dabbling. Please do not sue.
Spoilers: Set somewhere in Season Five. Goes after 'Return to Faith' in this damn thing that started off with 'The Jack Daniels Effect.'
Author's Notes: I think that this is the end to this series. If you can call it that. But I have absolutely loved writing it (confusing use of titles excluded!) and hope that you have enjoyed reading it. Big thank you to every one who has given me feedback so far.
Feedback: Any feedback on this one or the whole thing now that it is done would be most welcome.

"No. No. No. No." Faith couldn't think passed the mind numbing fear. Angel looked surprised, he really hadn't expected this reaction. He had half thought Faith would be thrilled by the prospect of a good fight. Buffy, however, seemed to understand things a little more.

"Faith. Faith! Look at me." She stood in front of her and put her hands on her arms, shaking her slightly. "We've done this before. We beat this guy. *You* staked him. We do it once, we can do it again."

"No, no, no, no. He'll kill me. He might kill you. B, we gotta get out of here." She tore herself from Buffy's grip and ran to where she was keeping her bag in Angel's room.

"Faith, don't be stupid. Angel - lock the door." Buffy ran after Faith to find her already throwing things in her backpack.

"Faith, it's nearly sunset. If you go out like this you don't stand a chance. All the vamps in LA will be looking out for you. We have to stop for a moment. We need a plan."

*****

"Lindsey. He is *really* ugly."

"Shut up!" Lindsey returned to his desk. "Mr. Kakistos. We are so pleased that we could help you out."

"Help me out?! Snivelling human wretch. Do you not think that I could kill you here and now?"

"Ah, but you won't. You see, not only have we brought you back from Hell, but we put a coda in the agreement. We are, ahem, lawyers after all. You kill one of us and your soul gets sucked straight back into Hell. Neither the partners or myself want to see that happen. We would, however, like to see some disruptive elements removed. Faith, the vampire slayer, *your* slayer, has been something of an embarrassment to us. Professionally speaking. She is someone who I am sure you'd like to see dead even more than we would. A little addition to this, is the fact that she has a vampire you probably know of helping her out. Angel. Angelus."

"Angelus?"

"He was returned from hell shortly after you were sent there. So you probably didn't, erm, bump into him."

"Returned."

"Yes, returned. With his soul intact. We only have a sketchy picture of why he came back with a soul, but that obviously isn't a problem in your case. Either way, we want him dead, and haven't been able to get to him so far. So we got the idea that we would be able to raise you in much the same manner. Now all we ask is that you simply fulfill your desires of killing the slayer and the vampire that is a disgrace to your, erm, race, and you will be able to go out in the world, safely assured that you will have the highest class of lawyers backing you at Wolfram and Hart." He had to admit that the last little bit was nothing more than sales patter, but he had the feeling Kakistos didn't need much persuading. "Coffee?"

*****

"Well at least that explains the demon who attacked us yesterday morning." Buffy looked down at Faith who was rocking backwards and forwards on Angel's bed, arms folded across her chest. She hadn't said anything for a while now.

"He might not know that you are the slayer Buffy. Faith did most of the fighting after all. Perhaps he just thought you threw a lucky punch. He might not-"

"Angel. Reality check. I was totally unfazed by an incredibly ugly demon, and calmly offered the other slayer a go. What do you think?"

*****

"Yes. Thank you." Lindsey slammed the phone down. "Damn, damn, damn. Our little reconnaissance mission to Angel's has brought bad news. Far from shaking up the little bitch, it would appear she has her slayer buddy in town."

"Buffy."

"In the flesh."

"Interesting." Kakistos smiled as he stroked along the deep gash in his cheek. "This makes it very interesting."

*****

"I can safely say I don't think any of us should go out alone tonight Buffy. Especially not Faith."

"Hey, Angel. I'm feeling better now. Fine. Five by five. Yeah."

Faith's voice was still shaking. Buffy slipped her arms around Faith's waist.

"Faith, you won't have to face him alone. None of us will. We're a team Faith. You listening to me? I love you. I won't let anything happen to you. I promise."

"You promise?" Faith's voice was a little less shaky now, and she leaned her weight into Buffy, resting her head on her shoulders.

"So what's the plan?"

"Erm. Well there's not much by way of plans."

"You mean we're just going to sit here and let him come to us. Jesus, you gonna serve me up on a plate?" Faith was panicking again.

"Faith, you have to calm down. You killed him before. And he was after you just as much then as he is now. Calm, relax, just try to - shush." Buffy stopped suddenly as there was a creak from the floor above. "Angel. There's somebody in your office." She turned to see Faith running into the kitchen. God, she was on the run again. Buffy wasn't sure she would be able to fight well enough to win if she had to look after Faith as well. Just then, Faith returned, knife in hand. A very large meat knife. Buffy hated to see her holding it, but at the same time she was glad she was.

"Ready to roll, B?"

"Five by five F." They both ran to ambush at the same time, Angel getting ready to pick up the rear.

"What the -arrrggghh." Came the voice as Buffy grabbed their attacker and swung him over her shoulder, surprised at how easy it was.

"Wesley!"

"Angel. Erm, ow."

"So what's the word on the street Wesley?"

"Nothing."

"Nothing! There has to be something."

"Nothing at all. Nobody is talking. Only a few would even admit Kakistos is back."

"Which leads us nowhere, because we knew that already." Buffy sighed and sat down in the bed, wishing Faith would put down the knife that she was now fiddling with absent-mindedly.

"I have another theory." Wesley looked pleased with himself.

"I had to go far as it was to find anybody. Far away from here. Which leads one to suspect that this is to be the place of attack. And soon."

"How soon?" the fear in Faith's voice seemed to slice the air.

"Tonight?"

It happened so quickly that for years afterwards it reminded Faith of a dream. Not a slayer dream where everything is too real, but a normal dream, where each action is just a little bit too slow, and everything sounds as if you are under water. She felt herself freeze when they burst through Angel's office door, hearing their footsteps running across the floor above and down the stairs. She thought she could remember screaming as Buffy and Angel ran to head them off, and Wesley reached for the crossbow and got ready to take aim. She could remember standing there watching them fight, forming a circle around her, trying to keep his minions off while he slowly descended the stairs. All the time looking at her, taking his time, getting ready to savour the kill. She wanted so much to run, but like in so many of her dreams, she found that her legs would not move. Then he had a clear path, Buffy and Angel getting overpowered slowly, parting and letting him walk towards her. And she could always remember afterwards thinking that she was going to die, that her life had turned out to be nothing more than she was born to be. And then came the moment of clarity, where the dream-memory speeded up, the moment when Kakistos casually grabbed Buffy's neck as he walked passed her, preparing to twist. That was the point when Faith kicked into action and flung the knife she had forgotten she was holding towards him. That was the point where the underwater surround sound stopped and she could hear him scream. Slayer instinct always knowing, even when she was not thinking, that a knife could never kill him. But it could take out the one good eye that she had left him with from their first ever battle, and making his twist on Buffy's neck nothing more than a spin to make her face him. Both arms to his face, Faith watched as Buffy drove the stake home again and again, until he exploded.

Then things always became a complete blur, but by all accounts, that's when all the others got very scared and fled, that was the point where Faith picked up a weakened Buffy and held her close crying and crying into her hair.

*****

Faith relived the memory on most nights for the months afterwards. Some mornings Buffy was there with her when she awoke scared, sometimes she wasn't. It didn't matter as much as it once would have.

Faith could deal. The fact was, Buffy had been there for her when she needed it most, and Faith knew that she had come good in the end as well. Just like the first time really. Only this time, Faith wasn't screwing up the sequel.

The End

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