Disclaimer: Joss owns it, writes it, and according to Amber Benson,
beats them. How can I compete with that?
Spoilers: General BtVS and AtS, but specifically 'The Wish' and 'Doppelgangland.' Set during the latter.
Author's Notes: Anne rewrites the canon again. Pretty soon I'll make you all forget what is real and what isn't Mwhahahaha! Oh, and for this fic, Faith hasn't defected over to the mayor, but she did kill Finch.
"Uh, Willow?" The voice cut through Willow's thoughts as she marched up the stairs. She wasn't boring. Was she? Everyone else seemed to think so. Just because she couldn't slay like Buffy and makes jokes like Xander, or, come to think of it, have occasional psychotic episodes like Faith, didn't mean she was boring. Did it? She turned round to see a girl at the bottom of the stairs.
"Uh, hi." Maybe she was boring because she was too polite and that was why she was smiling at a complete stranger.
"Anya." The girl pointed at herself, making it clear that she realised Willow hadn't the slightest idea who she was. "I'm sort of new here. Um, I know Cordelia?" The last comment was said with a hopeful tone. The girl had obviously already realised that to get noticed and remembered, it had to be something to with Cordelia and the other 'it' girls.
"Oh, fun." Willow was still smarting from the fact that she had hurt Cordelia. Aha! She had kissed someone else's boyfriend! She was sure that made her something other than boring. A slut? Oh, that was so much better - not.
"Yeah. Um, listen," Willow resisted the urge to move away as the girl stepped towards her. "I have this little project I'm working on, and I heard you were the person to ask if..."
"Yeah, that's me." Was there no escape? Even total strangers were told just how non-descript she was. "Reliable-Dog-Geyser person. What do you need?" Willow realised that she now sounded crazy. Looks like she did have a bit in common with Faith after all. Apart from the killing people. She was pretty sure that she didn't want to do that. Almost certain in fact.
"Oh, it's nothing big. Just a little spell I'm working on." Anya shrugged as if it was nothing important, but that only had the effect of making Willow more intrigued. After all, you learn a few things about what makes people tick over a thousand years of practice.
"A spell? Oh. I like the black arts." Willow tried to sound 'cool' with the last comment and then realised she might possibly be worrying about her image too much. Perhaps more Cordy than Faith was in her? Boring was starting to look like a nice option after all.
"I just need a secondary to create a temporal fold. I heard you were a pretty powerful Wicca, so..." Anya was playing Willow like an old piano, and the poor redhead was falling for it.
"You heard right, mister!" Willow's enthusiasm bubbled over. "I-I-I'm always ready to work some dark mojo. So, tell me, is it dangerous?" Yeah, dangerous spells weren't boring, and they were definitely more in keeping with her character than all the other options.
"Oh, no," said Anya with a shake of her head, not wanting to scare off the best possibility of getting her necklace back. The disappointment was obvious in the other girl's face.
"Well, could we pretend it is?"
The classroom was dark. It didn't need to be, but it added a certain ambiance that was always nice when you were casting spells. Willow was surprised at how much of it Anya seemed to know. It was quite nice not having to do all the work, but her hopes of being all-important and badass in the Wicca department were rapidly diminishing. She looked at the large white plate in the middle of the room with the picture of Anya's necklace on it. Willow figured it must be important if she was prepared to go to all this trouble to get it back.
"The necklace was a family heirloom passed down for generations. Then it was stolen from my mom's apartment." Willow could understand how losing something like that was important to someone. After all, the police department in Sunnydale weren't exactly renowned for their detecting abilities.
"How does the spell work?" She watched as Anya walked over and knelt opposite her, the other side of the plate.
"Uh, well, we both call on Eryishon, the Endless One, offer up the standard supplication, then there's a teensy temporal fold. We hope. Um, then I pour the sacred sand on the representation of the necklace, and Eryishon brings it forth from the time and place it was lost."
"Cool." This was a new type of spell for Willow, and she was looking forward to upping the old 'Wiccan Experience' section on her CV. Metaphorically of course. Just then the door burst open and Buffy rushed in.
"Willow! Harmony said she saw you come in here, and I just wanted to say that I'm sorry and you're not boring and - oh, you're busy."
"It's ok Buffy. Anya just wants some help with a spell. Wanna see just how not boring I can be?"
"Erm, sure. There's not going to be any...smells are there? Only I'm supposed to be going out tonight..."
"No smells, just spells, I promise. Anya, is ok if Buffy helps us out? She's really cool. And she knows all about me and the magic stuff."
"Sure, I guess. I just want this done. Come and kneel here, er, Buffy." She smiled at Buffy, thinking about how she was going to reinstate Cordelia's wish as soon as she got her necklace back. To get Buffy out of those pastels if nothing else. "Are we ready?"
"I think so." Willow hoped that the others couldn't see how nervous she was. She had never done 'showing off' and now that Buffy was here, she felt like she had to perform. She watched as Anya took a deep breath and extended her hand above the plate.
"Eryishon, k'shala. Meh uhn." Willow stretched out her hand, palm up like Anya's, until their fingertips were touching. She nodded at Buffy to do the same. Buffy raised her eyebrows, uncertain, and then placed her hand forward so that her fingertips met at the join of Willow and Anya's. She listened as Willow began to recant her part of the spell, hoping that she had no lines that they had forgotten to give her.
"Diprecht. Doh-tehenlo nu-Eryishon." Willow nodded to Anya slightly, and Buffy watched as she picked up a bottle of sand. Maybe it was a 'going to the beach for the day' spell or something.
"The child to the mother." Anya recited, and Willow placed her hand on the bottle, raised her eyes and Buffy did the same. Honestly, she was bored. She just didn't see what Willow saw in all these spells. You had to learn a dozen extra languages, and they didn't even make you do that when you were in school. Besides, they hardly ever worked properly. Look at Amy.
"The river to the sea."
"Eryishon, hear my prayer." Seeing them both close their eyes, Buffy closed hers as well. If something bad was going to happen then obviously none of them wanted to see it. Then she could feel it, and hear the rumbling sound that seemed to come from nowhere. Buffy swore that if there was a demon in the room when she opened her eyes, Willow was going to pay, friend or not. The energy was cursing through her body, and she wondered if Willow and the other girl could feel it as well. Then it was almost inside her head, visions of a demon with her hand around Giles' throat, Willow and Xander looking a hell of a lot like vampires, only to see them get poofed, more of the ugly demon, and then the Master. Her and the Master, facing off and then the image was gone before her brain could consolidate it. She could feel the bottle move under her fingers and a slight tickling sensation on her outstretched hand, and then the visions were back again. They were all there, but the pictures just didn't make sense. She couldn't take it any more. At the same moment Willow pulled her hands away, and as she opened her eyes, Buffy could tell that this was not what Willow had been expecting.
"That was... W-w-what was that?" Willow stood up, slow and shaky. This was definitely what she had been looking for. She looked down at Anya, who seemed totally undisturbed by the images that the spell had revealed.
"Oh, it's not here." Buffy and Willow watched as she hit the floor, sending a small plume of sand in the air. "It's not here!"
"Okay, that's a little blacker than I like my arts." Willow could see that Buffy was shaking slightly, and got the sinking feeling that she had dragged her friend into something that was going to cause a serious problem. Though how bad could it be? The necklace wasn't there in the room with them, so the spell couldn't have worked.
"Oh, don't be such a wimp." Anya couldn't understand. She knew the spell so well; there was no reason that the necklace shouldn't be there. But she would bet that the nerdy little red-head had something to do with its failure. This close to the Hellmouth, and yet there was still a serious witch shortage. How crazy was that?
"That, that-that wasn't just some temporal fold, that was some weird Hell place. I-I don't think you're telling me everything." Willow was smart, Anya had to give her that much, only now it was a little too late for thinking and she was just starting to get pissed off.
"I swear, I am just trying to find my necklace." Not exactly a lie. The last thing that Anya wanted while she was still stuck in this mortal body was people asking questions without being able to get them back.
"Well, did you try looking inside the sofa *in Hell*?" Willow looked at Buffy, knowing that she would have normally smiled at that comment, but Buffy looked like she was still trying to shake the images from her head.
"Look," Anya smiled, trying to force it to look natural, "we'll just try it again, and..."
"No!" Willow backed off instinctively. "I, I think emphatically not!"
"Seconded." Buffy raised her hand weakly.
"I can't do it by myself!" Dammit, the spell required two or more people, and Willow had been her best shot. She watched helplessly as Willow began to collect her things, shoving some of them into her knapsack and handing the rest to Buffy.
"That's a relief. I'm outta here." She grabbed Buffy's hand.
"Fine! Go! Idiot child." The last bit was said just loud enough so that Willow could hear it.
"I believe these chicken feet are mine." Good girl be damned! "Look, m-magic is dangerous, Anya, i-it's, it's not to be toyed with. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have someone else's homework to do." She left the room, dragging Buffy behind her.
"Whoa, what was that all about?" Buffy massaged her temple. "Is this the sort of stuff you normally do Will? Coz if it is, then I'm starting to think that Giles might be right."
"I'm sorry Buffy. It's just you thought I was boring and Xander thought I was boring and even I thought I was boring. I just wanted to be a little more interesting. A little more like you guys."
"Hey, you are fine as you are Will. You don't have to change, Xander and I love you just the way you are. And we never said that reliable was boring. Reliable is a good thing. Besides," she looked back at the room, where there was a faint smashing sound, "there was nothing boring about that."
"Sugar me up."
Buffy jerked up from the floor, looking around her. She was still in the factory, but for some reason, in a split second everyone else had gone. The Master, the vamps, even that stupid machine. All gone. There was something bad going on here. Didn't her watcher mention something about Sunnydale being on a Hellmouth when she last spoke to him? She dusted herself off. "This is weird." There was only one thing for it. She headed for the door, body tensed for the slightest sound, kicked it open and headed out into the street.
It was obviously the Sunnydale that she had decided to come to coz things had been a little routine, but things were different. Brighter somehow. Happier. Guess that watcher guy was right about her being the second coming. She had only been here hours and already the place was looking better. Sometimes this job was too easy. There were children running in the street outside the cinema, and she had to stop herself from telling them to get the hell out of there, how was she supposed to slay with all that screaming going on. But there were no vampires to slay. Stake one and they all seem to disappear. This was the sort of job that she could get used to. Nobody seemed to be giving her the welcome that she had got a few hours before though. Damn, she cleaned up the entire town single-handedly in less than a day and everybody forgot about her. Hell, it was the way. Do your job, don't expect a thanks, and never let your mind drift enough to let some ninja-wannabe vamp slash your face.
"E-e-excuse me, young lady..." Buffy span round on her heal, fist raised and a snarl on her face, expecting the worst. The old woman in front of her cowered and scuttled off. There was only one thing left to do. A quick sweep of the cemeteries and she could get out of this freak show of a town.
"Fancy doing patrol with me tonight Will? Should be quiet, and quiet equals boring. Could do with the company."
"Sure, for some reason I'm not enjoying doing Percy's homework as much as my own."
"Wonder why?" Buffy commented dryly, reaching for her coat and checking that there was a stake or two in the pockets. She picked up a spare one off her dresser and handed it to Willow.
"Thank you! My very own Mr. Pointy. I take it that Faith's not coming with?"
"No. She's kinda been laying low while the council tries to talk to her about what's happened. Wouldn't want to be in their shoes right now."
"Uh-hu," Willow nodded emphatically. "Giles said they would be letting her patrol as soon as possible. Under supervision I think he said, though I'm not sure that I am supposed to know that. Probably confidential British watcher stuff."
"You can be my spy in the camp," grinned Buffy. "C'mon, lets get this over with, then you can stop at mine tonight if you want?"
So much for a quiet evening. It seemed like the vamps were out in force tonight. Buffy reminded herself to remember to ask Willow to remind her to ask Giles if that meant the big bad was coming. Or whether it was just sale day at the blood bank. Willow sat on a tombstone, stake raised but not really doing anything with it other than make jabbing motions in the air and pointing out the vamps to Buffy.
"Urgh," Willow let out a cry as something hit the side of her face.
"I should have known it was too good to be true. Vamps don't just disappear because I bat my eyelids on the Hellmouth. Well, it looks like I'm gonna have my chance to stake you now."
"Vampire?" Will held her rapidly swelling cheek. "No, Not me." She looked up at the figure looming over her. "Buffy?" she whispered, eyes opening wide. Then she screamed. "Buffyyyyyyyyyyyy!"
"Yeah, so you know my name. You gonna make any more small talk or can I stake you already?"
"I don't think so," Buffy had come running to Willow's aid the moment she heard the scream, and found herself staring at the back of a female vamp. It crossed her mind briefly that for a vamp the kid was quite well dressed. And then it turned and faced her, stake raised. Both figures went to bring their arms down and then quickly stopped.
"What the fuck?"
"Not the words I would have used, but yeah," gasped Buffy.
"What kind of crazy world is this?"
"You're asking me! I'm the one standing here looking at myself!"
"Think about it," the other Slayer rolled her eyes. God this one was dense.
"We have to get to Giles."
"The watcher guy?"
"Well, waddaya know. Small world. Small crazy world. But we gotta kill this vamp first," she nodded at where Willow was still lying on the ground.
"Vampire? Willow - a vampire? I don't think so. She's my friend. She's helping me patrol."
"You let people help you patrol?" The uber-Buffy was incredulous. "Anyway, I saw her sucking necks just a couple of hours ago."
"Willow," Buffy raised her hands. "Show her your cross so that we can get this over with." They both watched as Willow fished the silver cross out of her blouse with a smile.
"Well, I'll be damned! She's not much of a fighter though. You could get her killed out here."
"Great - another Kendra," said Buffy with a sigh.
"You figure this Jeeves guy has all the answers? Lead the way, though I've never met a watcher yet who got outside his books. Me, I just prefer to get on with the killing. What about you?"
"Make that another Faith," Buffy muttered under her breath.
"Geez, a school that never closes. Real great set-up you got going here Buff."
"It's convenient," said Buffy through gritted teeth. Where the hell had this other Buffy come from? There was no way that she could be an impostor, she packed way too much of a punch not to have Slayer powers, but it was just...creepy. "I have a surprise for you Giles," she called out as she pushed open the library doors.
"Not a problem I hope," said Giles before looking up from his book. "Hello Buffy and...Buffy?" His jaw dropped.
"Quite a surprise huh?"
"Pass, don't know, we give up. That's why we came to you. Because you have all the answers. You *do* have the answer don't you?"
"Fascinating," Giles was watching the other Buffy as she sat down on the table in the centre of the room, taking in her surroundings, but seemingly more bored than anything else. "So, Buffy -"
"Yes?" Two voices answered simultaneously.
"That one," Giles took his glasses off and indicated to the Buffy on the table. "Where did you, er, come from?"
"Could you be a bit more specific regarding the events that led to your arrival here?"
"Does he always talk like this?"
"Well, I was in a factory, fighting the Master from round these parts, just watched her get dusted," she pointed at Willow, "then all of a sudden 'poof' and I'm all alone in there. No vamps, no people, nothing. So I headed out into town to see what I could see. Thought about going to your house Jeeves to find out what was going on, but I hit the cemeteries instead. Hooked up with the freaky look-alike sitch."
"Giles," he pointed out rather absentmindedly. "You were going to go to my house, but why? And how do you know where I live?"
"Coz I was there less than twelve hours ago, that's why. And you were going on about it being so much better now that I was here yadda yadda yadda. Remember?"
"No. This is most intriguing. It seems to me that this Buffy is part of another reality, possibly another dimension that is essentially the same as this one, with only relatively subtle variations. Somehow, and this is the part that I can't really explain if my theory is correct, she got sucked out of that reality and into ours."
"Uh-oh." They all looked across at Willow who had gone visibly pale. Buffy arched her eyebrows. They couldn't have been the cause of something this powerful. Could they? "I think, I mean I'm not sure, but it might be our fault." Buffy noticed that Willow had definitely put the emphasis on the 'our' factor.
"Willow." Giles' voice was stern.
"I, no, *we* kinda did a spell this afternoon. For someone. They were only looking for a necklace. It was a tiny temporal fold, I mean Giles it was so tiny it was more of a temporal crease than anything else."
"You think that this Buffy was pulled in from wherever it was that this girl had lost her necklace?"
"It makes sense Giles," Buffy decided to take the heat for a second. "While we were doing the spell, we had these kind of weird vision type things. I saw myself fighting the master," she shook her head, trying to recall the images to her memory. "And I'm pretty sure that I was wearing those clothes."
"Hey, what's up?" they all turned to see Faith walk in. She looked from Buffy to Buffy.
"First time I've ever seen you speechless Faith." Buffy was more than a little smug.
"Hey there, I'm Buffy." Now this was more like it. That Willow chick was kinda cute now that she wasn't a vampire, but this was serious eye candy.
"Yeah, I know. Lemme guess, Hellmouth stuff? How much freakier can this town get?" the dark haired girl said with a smile. This was like all her birthdays and Christmases rolled into one. Hell, they were usually pretty crappy.
"Exactly what I said." She was trying to resist the urge she had to flirt with this girl. After all, she was heading off again soon, but there was nothing wrong with getting pelvic with someone while she was stuck here with nothing better to do than listen to some stuffy watcher and the girl with her body and a toothpaste commercial vibe. She hadn't lived this long without knowing when to spot that hint of danger. And whilst Faith wasn't a vampire, there was definitely something dark about her.
"You a Slayer as well, Buff?"
"Sure am, the one and only." She almost laughed at the way that the girl abbreviated her name without a second's thought.
"Not quite sugar. More like the Chosen Three." Faith enjoyed this part. The part where she said 'hey you can't ignore me, I'm a Slayer!' It always gave her a buzz.
"You're saying that you are as well? This place really is twisted." Though she could imagine what it would be like to have this girl on patrol with her, kicking major vamp ass. She felt her mouth twitch with the beginnings of a grin at the thought of it.
"I died." Buffy said without a hint of a smile. "Just for a while, but that is why Faith is here."
"Not something I'd complain about," her double said with a raised eyebrow.
"Talking of why you are here Faith, why are you here?" Buffy chose to ignore the smirk that the two girls seemed to be sharing and suddenly realised that Faith had walked into the library of her own free will. Normally she would have been living it up at the Bronze by now.
"Well, the council won't let me back on patrol yet, so I thought I would see if you needed any help researching or something. What?" she demanded as Buffy gave her a look. "Okay, okay. See, I was bored, checked out the Bronze but there was no one there, so I thought I'd come here rather than go back to my fleabag motel and talk to the 'roaches. Happy now?" Buffy's reply was a smirk.
"Hey, don't want to break up the party here, but I got things to be doing. This was fun - we'll have to do it again sometime. I gotta get off to St. Louis to deal with the vampire sitch they've got going on."
"Erm Buffy." Giles looked pensive. "There is no vampire outbreak in St. Louis. That was in your reality, remember?"
"Great. So what the hell am I supposed to do?"
"May I suggest that you go home and get some rest, and we'll research this more fully in the morning. I have some books at home that might be of some use."
"Riiiight." Buffy on the table looked at her watch. "You do know what time it is, don't ya? A little early for sleeping." How did that other Buffy put up with it?
"Well, my mom is expecting me back. Willow is staying there as well. I kind of have to get back nowish." This other her was a bit of a handful.
"Not a problem B." Faith said with a smile, walking over to the table and throwing her arm around the new addition to the Scooby gang. "I'm gonna be up for another couple of hours. Buff here can come with me to the Bronze and then crash at mine. Whaddaya say Buff?"
"Sounds like a plan. I'm still a little worked up. You know how slaying kind of gets the juices flowing."
"Hungry and Horny, huh?" Faith almost growled it in her ear, and followed with a throaty chuckle. She looked over to where Buffy was clearly feeling uncomfortable, and Willow had a questioning look in her eyes. "Lets get out of here."
"Finally." Buffy leapt off the table and began to follow Faith. "Catch you guys in the morning." They headed out of the library doors with a similar swagger, leaving the other three staring open-mouthed in their wake. Their laughter could be heard floating back up the corridor and into the room.
"Well," said Buffy, over-brightly. "Looks like Faith has a new friend."
"So what you drinking Buff?"
"Make it a beer." Buffy looked around, taking in the place, noting its dark corners and the way it seemed to be designed as a perfect playground for vampires. The place sent shivers through her, and she was sure that there was probably at least one of them already in the building somewhere. Faith handed her a beer and nodded over to a table in the corner. "Thanks." She took a long pull on the beer. It was just what she needed after the crazy night that she had been having. It had been a long time since she had allowed herself to have a break for the evening, much longer since she had done it with someone else for company. Sure, sometimes she picked someone up at a bar, and spent a couple of hours with them, but she always left straight away afterwards. This was the social thing, and even though she was once so good at being part of the 'it' crowd, it all seemed such a long time ago. She hid behind her usual display of bravado, while Faith did the same. She watched as the brunette threw herself down on the couch and hoisted her feet up onto the table, legs splayed, making herself feel at home. Buffy sat opposite her, ignoring the way that the girl was smirking at her.
"So is this where you normally come with her?" The words came out, and Buffy realised she had to put in some serious work with her conversational skills. Like not speaking thoughts out loud.
"You know, the other me."
"Not really. A couple of times. She's all cosied up with Deadboy. We have had a couple of good times here together though." Faith thought back to the times when she and Buffy had come in to catch the last half an hour after patrol. Totally spontaneous on the way back to their individual places, they came in to dance. Buffy was always different on the dancefloor after she had been slaying, wilder somehow, and her dancing then had always got to Faith, in ways she knew that she shouldn't think about.
"She's actually dating a vampire? How fucked up is that? She seems like such a little watcher's girl as well."
"B's alright, she's just wound up a little tight. And she's got lousy taste in men."
"Maybe that's where she's going wrong," Buffy looked away slyly as she took another pull on her beer.
"Maybe," Faith leaned forward, and Buffy tried to resist letting her eyes sweep down to the cleavage that was so prominently on display, "you're right. Wanna dance?"
"Sure." Buffy got up and led Faith out onto the dancefloor. Faith was glad there was no live band tonight; she preferred to feel the beat throb through her veins, until she became lost in the music. She guessed that this Buffy was the same, and felt the familiar pounding of heat rise in her as she realised that their movements were mirroring each other, and the crowd was pushing them closer together. A guy that was rubbing up behind her was getting a little too close for comfort, but the only way to get away from him without causing a scene was to move forwards. She took half a step as the rhythm shifted slightly, and found herself pressed up against Buffy. She didn't know whether it was the lights or whether there really was a glint in those eyes. Either way, Buffy had no qualms about putting a hand on Faith's hip to steady herself, or about trailing it off along the side of her thigh rather than lifting it straight off afterwards.
Faith watched as a guy came up behind Buffy and tried to slip his arms around her waist as part of the dance. She turned her head to face him, his eyes dropping to her scar, and he jolted back slightly. Then he gave a great big forced smile and backed off. Faith noticed her eyes had darkened, the light-heartedness of the moment gone. Faith realised that she had not really looked at the ugly scar that crossed the blonde's lips. For once in her life, she guessed she had been looking past the surface and into the depth of somebody that she hit it off with. It was like a Slayer connection, but more strongly based on something else, something different than the whole connection between her and Buffy. The other Buffy, they were opposites, and that was what had formed the foundations of their hesitant attraction. With this Buffy it was because they were so much the same, they didn't have to say the things out loud, they already knew what the other knew. Smiling, Faith pulled the other Slayer into her, and they began to dance to the frenzied rhythm, harder and faster this time, until no one else even tried to come close to them.
"Hello ladies," Xander strolled into the library, surprised that Buffy seemed to be cutting class. Though the fact that Faith was there with her might have had a lot to do with that. What he didn't expect was to find himself pinned up against the cage with a stake raised against him the moment that she turned around.
"Buff!" Faith yelled.
"How did you get in here?" she growled.
"I walked Buffy. What's going on? And what did you do to your face?"
He gestured towards his own mouth and watched as the comment seemed to throw her for a second.
"He's not a vamp Buff. Look - it's sunny out."
"I can't deal with this shit," sighed Buffy letting him go. "First they're vamps then they're not, I have to deal with my freaky double, you stole the covers all night and I've just about had enough of it."
"Hey guys," they turned around to see Buffy and Willow walking through the door.
"Buffy am I glad to see you," Xander rushed over to them. "Had a bit of a problem with Lara Croft over there trying to stake me. Would somebody mind telling me what's going on?" He was almost pleading.
"That is another Buffy, one that comes from the hell version of Sunnydale, and Willow kind of dragged her over into our world. The only slightly less hellish Sunnydale."
"No fair. You were there at the spell. You helped drag her over as well!" Willow blurted out.
"Point taken. Where's Giles, has he found a way to fix it yet?"
"Not sure B. We only just got here ourselves."
"Did the two of you have a good night at the Bronze?"
"You could say that B. If you learned to lighten up a bit more, then you could have been finding the fun with us." Faith said it without thinking, and instantly regretted it. Since she had accidentally killed that man, things between her and Buffy had been strained, distant. Because of the council, she wasn't even allowed to patrol, the time when they got the chance to talk alone, and it was festering between them like a bad wound. She knew that Buffy blamed the whole incident on them 'finding the fun', and she had retreated back into that attitude Faith had found her in when she first came to Sunnydale. Luckily, Xander unintentionally saved her.
"Two Buffys to find the fun with," he mused. He looked up to find several pairs of eyes on him. "Fun in a totally innocent, no sex kind of way, no wouldn't be thinking about the sex now. Not me."
"Hey buddy, you might not be a vamp but that won't stop me beating you down."
"No!" Buffy said firmly. "There will be no beating of my friends, erm, Buffy."
"Call me Buff, like Faith does, it'll make things easier until I can get out of this hellhole." Buffy nodded, noting the way that she had said 'like Faith does'. The two of them seemed to have got on really well last night. She tried to pretend that she had not felt that pang of jealousy. How could this other Buffy be so much like her and so different at the same time. She guessed there was only one way to find out.
"Er, *Buff*. Can we have a little chat before you head off back to, wherever it is you'll be going?"
"Yeah whatever." Buff stood up and moved towards her. "Catch you later Faith," she said with a wink.
"Later." Faith watched as they walked through the door, same face, same body, but totally different 'tude. Buffy was hot, but Buff was *hot* and after all those comments last night, the way that she had openly watched her as they got undressed. And most definitely the way she had felt when their bodies had accidentally touched when they were in bed. The thought of it sent a familiar tingle through Faith, and she decided that now would be a good time to head back home.
"So what do you want to know?"
"About you. I guess I want to know what makes you different in your world."
"Well, I was nothing like this when I first went to High School. Hemery. Totally different me. Then this watcher guy came and told me I was the Slayer. My parents got divorced and I know it was because of me. You ever burn down a school Buffy?"
"Sucks, doesn't it? Anyways, my parents split up, and I was supposed to come to Sunnydale. But then I thought 'fuck it'. I didn't want to come here with my mom and screw things up for her even more than I already had. So I just didn't come and there was nothing that the council could do to make me. So they just gave me another watcher and let me do my thing. Bunch of assholes anyway. They like that here?"
"Pretty much. I guess some things don't change. Erm, can I ask you another question?"
"How did you get that scar?" Buffy reached out and gently traced it with her fingertips. She knew all the cuts and bruises she got, and how much force it took to scar you. She saw the other Buffy's eyes cloud over.
"Vampire. Killed my watcher. I tried to protect her, but all I got was this. I ended up running away. The only fucking time in my life that I ever ran away. And I made a decision Buffy, which is why there is only one Slayer where I come from. Nothing was ever going to do that to me again. So when he found me I made sure of one thing: he died and I lived."
"What was his name?"
"You ask their names B?" she slipped unconsciously into Faith's turn of phrase.
"Sometimes. For the records."
"Oh, I don't know, crappy toes or something."
"Crappy toes? Oh..." Buffy eyes went wide when she made the connection. "Did you say anything about this to Faith?"
"Why should I? She's not one for the small talk." Hell no, she didn't need words, she thought with a smile.
"Promise me you won't tell her what you just told me."
"This dimension stuff."
"Whatever. Are we going to eat any time soon?"
"Buffy, I've been looking for you. I thought you were going to stop by earlier? What-?" Angel trailed off when another of the girls at the table turned around and seemed to be wearing Buffy's face. She seemed to recognise him, and rolled her eyes.
"Lemme guess, he's not a vampire here either?"
"Erm actually, yes."
"Shit." She grabbed her stake, but Buffy stopped her.
"But he is good. He's on our side."
"Nice to know he's pulling the same shit in this place as well then. Will someone find a way to get me the fuck out of here? This placed is seriously screwed. Hey," she span around on her heel. "This isn't the guy you are dating are you?"
"How did you know I was dating anybody?"
"Faith mentioned it last night at the Bronze."
"Buffy, why is there two of you?" Everyone seemed to think that it was completely normal for some reason. Not being able to come out in the day sure meant that you missed a lot around here.
"I'll explain on patrol. You two coming?" She turned to Faith and her double.
"Sure thing B. Why don't we split up. You and Angel take uptown, me and Buff will take downtown."
"Faith," Giles turned to her. "I may not be your watcher any more, but I feel I should remind you that the council has forbid you to take part in active duty."
"Screw that. Come on Buff, let's get this party going." The two of them high-fived and get up to go.
"Faith," Buffy put her hand on the Slayer's arm as she was about to walk past. "Be careful."
"Don't worry B. I got all the back up I need. We'll be five by five. Check ya later."
The stake found its mark, and the vampire gasped momentarily before dusting itself all over Faith's jacket.
"No need to thank me Buff," said Faith with a smirk.
"What the fuck should I be thanking you for?!"
"Saving your sorry ass."
"You were in no way saving my ass Sugar, I had everything under control."
"Lulling him into a false sense of security by letting him wrap his hands around your neck were you?"
"I've never met a vampire yet who could take me."
"I'd say that one was pretty damn close."
"If you hadn't shown up throwing your weight around then I would have finished him off and been out of here. Didn't even break into a sweat." She added pointedly as a little bead of it trailed its way down Faith's face.
"Hey! I dusted three more than you. Just because I was staking instead of making nice with them. What is it about Buffys? Don't matter what dimension you come from, you see a vamp and want to cosy up with them."
"What the fuck are you trying to say about me Faith?"
"What do you think I am trying to say about you *Buffy*?"
"You want to start something here Faith? You wanna throw down or something? Those vamps were starters, I've still got plenty left in me."
"You threatening me?"
"Do you want it to be?"
"Think you can take me?" asked Faith with a little laugh. This was really quite funny in a déjà vu kind of way.
"Yes." Buffy squared up to her, and sent out a lightening fast punch to Faith's jaw, enough to startle, not enough to hurt. That wasn't the point.
"Nice move Buff," Faith reached up to her jaw, rubbing it with her fingertips. Then she was sending out a blow of her own. Buffy just about blocked it, but it sent her off balance, and Faith's follow through found its mark on Buffy's abdomen, sending her sprawling backwards. Before Faith could move far enough towards her to land another punch, she had rolled backwards out of the way and sprung back up into a defensive stance. The two grinned at each other briefly before beginning to exchange a staggeringly fast series of kicks and punches.
Suddenly Faith found herself on her back, arms pinned by the Slayer sitting on her stomach. "Ready to admit defeat yet Faith?"
"Never," smirked Faith, trying to free at least one of her wrists.
"All you have to do is say you yield." Growled Buffy.
"Not going to happen Buff." Faith put all her strength into her legs, forcing her body upwards and Buffy to roll over her head. In the process, Faith got one of her wrists free, and grabbed one of Buffy's in her hand. They both stood up awkwardly, neither prepared to let go, knowing that with this close range, their legs would not have been much use. "Now who's going to yield?" laughed Faith.
"Why should I yield? I have one of your hands. And you have one of mine. I think that makes us pretty much equal right now."
"You'd think so, but you're not doing this." Faith threw her entire body weight forwards, bringing her arms upwards and outwards, loosening the grip they both had, but backing Buffy up against a headstone. She used all her body weight to pin the intra-dimensional Slayer there, arms held low at their sides, both of them breathing heavily. Buffy's glance flickered down as Faith subconsciously licked her lips. "Still think that you can take me B?" Faith's voice was husky.
"Yes," breathed Buffy, and crushed her mouth down on Faith's, her tongue thrusting its way between the bright red smudges of lipstick, maintaining the element of surprise. But then Faith was thrusting back just as hard, and at some point, she realised that Faith had let go of her wrists so that she could entangle her hands in her hair. She swept her hand up to cup Faith's breast as Faith pulled away nibbling and biting down her neck.
"You ready to yield yet Faith?" The words were murmured in time with the movement of her thumb over Faith's rapidly hardening nipple, and she felt her moan into her neck.
"Never." Faith brought her mouth up to Buffy's and slid her thigh between the blonde's legs, allowing herself a smirk as she felt Buffy groan into her mouth at the contact. Buffy pushed back twice as hard, and then her leg was hooked behind Faith's toppling them both over, Buffy on top, pushing all her weight down. She kissed Faith roughly again, hands on her shoulders stopping her from pushing up into the kiss. Their tongues battled for dominance as Faith roughly pushed her hand under the hem of Buffy's top. She kneaded the soft flesh there, the rhythm of her hand matching the thrust of her hips and the movement of Buffy's tongue between her lips.
"And that's about it," Buffy summed up as they casually walked around the last cemetery. "Just another day at the Hellmouth."
"It explains why she is so different from you."
"Different as in more like Faith."
"That wasn't what I meant."
"But it's the truth. The other me is just well, this really weird mix of all the Slayers that I've known."
"So that's a good thing right. The reason why she has stayed alive so long."
"Yeah, but if she's like a piece of all of us, and she's got my body, then why does she get on with Faith more than me?"
"You and Faith still have issues because you were there when she stabbed someone, that's why. And Faith has difficulty forming that close bond with people. She's not having to do that with your double, Buffy, it's like she's got a new life-size you toy to play with, that will do things her way."
"Yeah, well, as long as she doesn't play with me too much." She turned as Angel raised an eyebrow. "I mean, we have no idea what would happen Slayer-wise if she got killed in this dimension," she added lamely.
"Buffy, I can understand you being jealous of Faith."
"Jealous! Who said anything about jealous, not me!"
"Buffy, it's ok. I mean, she's almost like a sister that you have never had, and now you have her she doesn't want to play with you."
"What is it about this whole playing together image that both you and Xander seem to have?"
"It's just a phrase Buffy. What?" he asked as she visibly paled. He followed her line of vision to where two figures seemed to be making out at the end of the cemetery.
"Just a phrase huh?" swallowed Buffy.
"So Buff," gasped Faith, as a set of hips thrust back against her, and a hand began to fiddle with her zipper. "You wanna go somewhere a little more private?"
"They were making out?!" gasped Willow, grasping Oz's hand tight in hers. 'Pretend to be shocked' she said to herself over and over like a mantra.
"It was horrible! That's me in some other life? I'm so skanky and slutty." She paused and leaned across to Willow. "And I think I'm kinda gay."
"Oh Buffy - just remember, a vampire's personality has nothing to do with the person it was." She patted Buffy's hand reassuringly.
"Well, actually..." Angel was cut off by a glare from Willow. "That's a good point."
"I don't care. She has to go back. She's walking around in my body doing things that I am pretty certain my body wouldn't want to be doing. This has to stop. This ends now while I can still just about look Faith in the face. Willow," she gasped, "you don't think this means that Faith, er, you know, with me."
"Buffy. The other you is totally different. I'm sure that it's never crossed Faith mind to, to make out with you." Willow lied desperately. It was obvious that it crossed Faith's mind an awful lot, but seeing as no one else ever mentioned it, there was no way that she was going to bring it up.
"I hope so. There's nothing else for it. We're just going to have to enlist Anya's help and get her to undo the spell."
The two Buffys stood around as the others began the process of setting up the spell. Which mainly seemed to be lighting candles. Xander sidled over to the one standing next to Faith, obviously intent on saying something before she was sucked away to live in her own dimension. "So, um, in your reality, I'm like this bad-ass vampire, huh? People afraid of me?" All he got as a response was a raised eyebrow. He knew well enough when to walk away. That didn't stop them hearing the 'Oh, yeah. I'm bad,' he was saying under his breath.
"Much as I want her to go, I'm not sure whether sending her back or not is a good thing. I mean, think how useful it could be to have another Slayer here."
"I understand what you're saying. But it seems like the other Sunnydale needs her more."
"I feel like I might even miss her. I know she's not me. We have a big nothing in common, but... still."
"We have to send her back to her world, where she can truly do some good. It's her place Buffy, it's the way it should be anyway."
"Uh, we're about ready here," called Giles. He watched as Buffy walked up to her double. It was uncanny. He looked back at Anya, with a feeling that he really shouldn't trust her. "Don't you try any tricks now, dear."
"I don't need tricks," she almost snarled. "When I get my powers back, you will all grovel before me." Both Buffys raised their eyebrows and shook their heads. Not if they had anything to do with it.
"Yes, uh, if you, uh, Buffys, would like to, uh," he pointed at the floor, indicating that they should kneel down, "complete the circle." The two of them turned to face each other one last time. Without the scar, without that hard look in one set of eyes, they would have been mirror images, in body if not in soul. "Good luck. Remember the first rule of slaying."
"Don't die," they both said in unison. There was an awkward moment, but then Buffy did all she could think of to do. She pulled the Uber-Buffy into her arms and held her there. As she felt arms around her waist, tentatively returning the hug, Buffy couldn't help but think how things could have turned out if she had never came here. If she had been alone, without Willow, Giles and Xander. Just some book-toting watcher and the weight of the world on her shoulders. In that moment, she found a small grain of understanding for that other self, and for Faith as well. That didn't stop the pang of jealousy she felt when they pulled apart and her double walked over to Faith.
"Hey girlfriend," said Faith with a smirk.
"You gonna miss me?" She held out her hand and Faith shook it before pulling her into a hug.
"You know I'll never yield," she growled into her ear. Buff let out a low throaty chuckle, but was a little reluctant to pull away. Then she visibly steeled herself and knelt in the circle, joining Buffy.
There was a blinding flash of light, and as Buffy opened her eyes, she saw a familiar fight taking place in front of her. They had been right after all. She looked up, confused slightly, wondering where the master was. She gasped as she felt hands either side of her neck. "Aw, f..."
And then there was a stomach-churning wrench, and the Slayer dropped to the ground.
"Hey Buffy, do you wanna go out tonight?"
"Strangely, I feel like staying at home...who knows what that other Buffy has been doing. I might never be able to show my face in the Bronze again."
"Come on, she wasn't that bad."
"But I think I might understand her Will. The fact is, that could have been me. From what she said, up until the moment that we both became Slayers, our lives were pretty much identical. But she didn't come here and meet you guys. She didn't have any friends. And Faith is the same I guess. I just know how lucky I am."
"I know. How about we celebrate our great friendship with dancing and beverages?"
"Sure. Erm, how about we invite Faith along."
"That would be good too," smiled Willow, placing a hand on Buffy's arm.