Never Stopped Thinking About You
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: This Years Girl & Who am I?.
Author's Notes: Okay, this is the probably waaaaay too long intro piece to the series I have planned. And it is very much taken from the ep (had to do it though, I think). Also, forgive me if anybody has already done it bigger and better already...
Feedback: Would be a definite plus.

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

PART 1

Riley's voice cut through the drama that was building up in the room. "Who's Faith?"

*****

It was dawn when Buffy arrived back at the dorm, her hunt for Faith as uneventful as she had expected it to be. She knew Faith well enough to know that if she was going to make a move, good or bad, it would be on her terms. So feeling tired and dirty, despite her shower, she followed Willow out into the sunshine as they made their way through the campus for another day of lessons when Buffy knew she had so many more important things to do.

"What did you tell him?" Willow was intrigued as to how Buffy would be able to explain this one away without adding more emotional baggage to their relationship.

"The truth. That she's my wacky identical cousin from England who whenever she visits hijinks ensue."

"It's good you guys have such an honest relationship." Willow rolled her eyes at her best friend.

"Nah, I told him the story. I-I vagued up a few bits, but no flat out lies."

"That's fair. How'd you handle the Angel-ly parts?"

"I did some editing. It's not that I'm trying to hide anything from Riley, it's . . . just that's a longer conversation and I had a Faith hunt to do."

"So I take it by that you missed out most of the Faith-y parts too. The before she went psycho good bits?"

"Oh yes. I-I don't even understand those bits properly myself Will. Besides, I thought we agreed never to mention it again?"

"I thought that now was an exceptional moment. So, Any luck?"

"Couldn't find her. Don't know exactly where to place that in the luck continuum."

"At least you're not alone on this. I bet every cop in Sunnydale is out there looking for her, right now. Let's see what's going on." Willow pointed to the huge campus notice board.

"Pressure is definitely high. I tell you, if I were her I'd get out of Dodge post-hasty."

"You're not me." The girl in front of Buffy turned, and she found herself looking square at Faith for the first time in eight months. This was definitely not good.

Faith had no choice to look Buffy up and down. She seemed to have changed a lot in the past few months. Grown up. Grown older. And from what Faith could see of the glint in her eye, grown harder. It mirrored her own more now than ever before. *You kill me, you become me.* And deep at the back of that anger, that rage, Faith had to push to the back of her mind that old feeling that had been there since the moment that they met. She had had Buffy inside her head and under her skin for too long now. Game over. Time for revenge. "Check you out, B. Nice. The big girl on campus thing's really working for you." The hard tone was there in her voice and Faith was pleased. This was not the time for wussing out.

"I've been looking for you." Buffy could hear the tone as well, and the warning bells were going off in her head. The hope that things would somehow be okay between them was rapidly fading.

"I've been standing still for eight months, B. How hard you look?" The smile was still on Faith's face, but it was that of pure predator, getting ready to strike.

"Are you all right?" Why she didn't just give up she didn't know. That weakspot she had when it came to Faith never went away, it had to be put away.

"Five by five. Best thing about a coma, you wake up all rested and rejuvenated and ready for payback." She was itching for some action.

"So much for pleasantries, huh?" she guessed this was it.

"What'd you think? I'd wake up and we'd go for tea? You tried to gut me, blondie."

"You'd have done the same to me if you had the chance."

"So let's have another go at it. See who lands on top." Faith couldn't help but smile. Ready to go at it but still slipping in the little dig. The one that Buffy couldn't bare. The fact that they had kissed before they had gone to the Bronze the night she killed that guy, the fact that she had been so juiced with the kill she had walked briefly along the same dangerous road that Faith trod.

"It doesn't have to be like this, you know?" The comment had knocked Buffy. She really didn't want it to be like this. She wasn't sure exactly what it was she did want, but this wasn't it.

"Actually, I think it has to be exactly like this."

"Faith, these are innocent people." She could see that Faith was getting close to letting herself go, and when she did there would be no stopping her from using whatever methods she needed to win.

"No such animal."

"I guess it was too much to hope that you'd use your downtime to reflect and grow." Buffy was getting pissed now. She didn't want to fight, but she hated playing cat and mouse even more. She wished Faith would just thrown down already.

"Could say the same about you. I mean, you're still the same old "better than thou" Buffy. I mean, I knew it somehow. I kept having this dream --not sure what it means-- but in the dream this self-righteous, blonde chick stabs me. And you want to know why?"

"You had it coming."

"That's one interpretation. But in my dream, she does it for a guy- Try it, red, and you lose an arm!" her slayer sense had picked out Willow walking behind her. She knew that she could have easily taken her and had a hostage to play with as well. But that was not what she had come for. So a subtle warning would be enough this time. Buffy gave Willow a nod, to acknowledge that it was just between the two of them. As always. Faith continued. "I wake up to find that this blonde chick isn't even dating the guy she was so nuts about before. Which is one thing, if the guilt had gotten to her about what she did to save him. I mean, she's moved on to the first college beef stick she meets. And not only has she forgotten the love of her life, she's forgotten all about the chick she nearly killed for him. Just to top it off. You made a choice B. Him over me. I can deal. But just so you can screw someone else coz you forget so quick. That's the pisser. So that's my dream. That and some stuff about cigars in a tunnel. But, uh, tell me, college girl . . . what does it mean?"

"To me? Mostly. That you still mouth off about things you don't understand." Faith's words had hit a sore spot, and Buffy knew that she sounded defensive. Just then a police siren sounded, and it was definitely heading in this direction. "Uh-oh. I guess somebody knows you're here." It was meant to be a deterrent, but Buffy suddenly found a fist in her face. Reflex took over and she began to hit back, until they found themselves fighting again. Fighting like they had that last time. When Buffy was having to tell herself how angry she was just so she could go through with it. When she had been trying to put out of her mind that history appeared to be repeating itself. She had feelings for Faith, that was something that she would rarely admit to even herself. Just like she had for Angel. And after she allowed herself to love them, she found herself ending up stabbing one in the heart and one in the gut. Only to find that she would never be allowed to deal because it was never the end. Angel came back from hell for her, and Faith came out of her coma with Buffy the only thing on her mind. And now they were fighting again, and all those feelings were filling Buffy's head and twisting in her stomach. The police car was close now, very close.

"You took my life, B. Payback's a bitch!"

"Look who's talking." Willow found the words coming out of her mouth before she could think of anything like self-preservation.

"See ya around." Faith though about giving Buffy a kiss like she had that time at Angel's mansion, but knew there wasn't enough time. From the corner of her eye she could see the cops getting out of the car. She ran, pushing him out of her way, knowing that B would give chase, she flipped herself over a wall, winding herself as she hit the ground on the other side, and slid behind a knoll. She knew if Buffy came over the wall, she would stumble over her, but if she tried to see her, from there, it would be okay. When Buffy hadn't appeared ten minutes later, Faith took the chance, and found herself alone when she stood up.

*****

"Go ahead! Open it!" Faith had to admit that it was odd hearing the mayor talk to her from the television screen as if she was there. Odd and more upsetting than she would care to admit. Now she was holding this little box in her hands and wondering what she had to lose. She slid the lid back and looked down at what looked like a set of elaborate eyelash curlers. He knew she wasn't in for all that girly look. His last plan was to make her look like Buffy?

"Surprise!" came the voice on the screen. "See, you don't get these in any gumball machine. When you've been around as long as I have you make friends. And some of them forge neat little gizmos like the one you're holding right now. And here's the good news-- just because it's over for my Faith, doesn't mean she can't go out with a bang."

*****

"She's a very dangerous woman." Buffy was having real difficulty in explaining to Riley the extent of Faith's psychotic tendencies.

"Okay, I get it. Really. Faith bad. Do I look like I'm arguing? All I'm saying is, if you're in trouble I want to help."

"You can't." She knew he wouldn't stand a chance against Faith. No-one would. Except her and maybe Angel. Certainly not Riley. Why he was so hooked on this macho thing of trying to help her when some things were just so out of his league she did not know. It was starting to piss her off, but she was more worried than annoyed right now.

"Give me one reason why?" He winced as she threw a ball to him and he tried to catch it. He was weak, he knew, but he couldn't stand being helpless.

"That's one."

"Okay. I'm not exactly action guy. But-- I mean, there's got to be something I can do besides sit around here and waiting for to pummel this gal."

"Riley, the fact that you just called Faith a gal only proves that you don't know her."

"I've never seen anybody get under your skin this way before. What did she do to you exactly?"

"It's a long story." Buffy couldn't deal with it yet, couldn't tell Riley. Willow had confirmed her suspicions when she had agreed with her earlier. Riley would not be able to deal.

"I'm from Iowa. We drive four hours for a high school football game. Try me." He was persistent. Just then the phone rang. Riley answered it. "Huh? Yeah, I'll tell her. We're on our way." He put the phone back down and stood up. "That was Giles. He said Faith is at your mom's."

*****

"Buffy Summers. Buffy Summers. Buffy Summers. Buffy. Buffy. A lot of letters. She, uh, hasn't been by in a while, huh? And you'd think with a crazy chick like me on the loose --crazy chick with a wicked grudge against her, no less-- she'd call and give you a heads-up. But Buffy's too into her own deal to remember dear old mom."

"You don't know the first thing about Buffy. Or me."

"Don't I? I know what it's like. You think you matter. You think you're a part of something and you get dumped. It's like the whole world is moving but you're stuck. Like those animals in the tar pits. It's like you just keep sinking a little deeper everyday and nobody even sees."

"Were you planning to slit my throat anytime soon?"

"Don't tell me you don't see it, Joyce. You served your purpose. You squirted out the kid, raised her up, and now you might as well be dead! I mean, nobody cares! Nobody remembers! Especially not Buffy-fabulous-super-hero! Sooner or later you're gonna have to face it. She was over us a long time ago, Joyce. Too busy climbing onto her new boytoy to give a single thought to the people that matter! I mean, you're her mother and she just leaves you here to die!" Riley could hear every word through the door. Buffy had told him to wait outside, but he wanted to be in on this one, wanted to see just what was so special about this Faith that everyone seemed to know about except him. But standing there he thought she just sounded like some psycho ex-lover after revenge. He got a cold feeling in his stomach if he wondered if that was it. If that was the bit that Buffy wasn't telling him. Jealousy washed over him like a wave. Before he knew what he was doing, the desire to prove that he was better than her overtook, and from her vantage point outside, where she was waiting for just the right moment to strike, Buffy saw Riley charge through the door.

"Riley, noooo!" She jumped from the tree and began to climb onto the flat roof outside her mother's room. She crashed through the window, ready to fight, only to find Faith lying flat out on the floor, and Riley looming over her.

"You okay?" Buffy was concerned by the look in his eyes.

"All things considered."

"What is that?" Buffy noticed he was clutching something.

"Weapon of some kind." He threw it on the floor and stomped on it, breaking it into many tiny fragments. "Didn't work whatever it was."

"Well, you seem to be healing nicely." Buffy quickly kissed him and went over to her mother.

"Five by five, B." Riley whispered under his breath.

PART 2

Notes: Okay I'm a wuss! But I wrote this from Faith's pov because the grammar was just too tricky. It was still hard though, getting into Faith's head.

Now *this* is wicked cool. This has to be the one thing that B could never have expected. In beefstick's body, and she doesn't know a damn thing about it. I could always screw with her head anyway. But now... I watch as the police come to take my body away. Jesus, I went down like a girl. A thought crosses my mind. "Buffy, I'll be back in a moment." She just nods, too busy being the good girl and comforting her mother who's a little worse for wear. I bruised that chin of yours nicely Joyce. I make my way out into B's garden, and when I'm sure there's no one around, I stance up to a tree. Bracing myself for the pain if this all goes wrong, I punch. There's no pain, just a nice fist shaped hole in the bark. This is shaping up better than my wildest dreams, and I hear her calling me from the porch.

"Riley. Mom wants to thank you for saving her."

"Riley." Joyce is all smiles now. She wasn't before. "Thank you. You are a friend of Buffy's?"

"Yes ma'm." I smile. This is easier than I thought. It's almost as if there is part of his brain still in my head. Only a small part, but some where I feel it. Buffy hugs me, and under her hands I can feel a wound starting to heal rapidly, the skin closing in on itself. I hug Buffy back. It's been so long since I have held her, not since it all got screwed up. Revenge. So why are my arms pulling her a little tighter?

*****

"Buffy. Good." Giles is almost getting straight to the point. As usual. He just sends a nod my way, and I wonder just how much I am involved. I look around. The Scooby gang's all here.

"What's up?" Buffy looks concerned and I wonder why.

"It's about Faith, not surprisingly." I jerk my head up, but nobody notices. They're all too busy watching Buffy, not me. There is some wicked hate going on towards me in this room. I love it. Talk about being a fly on the wall.

"Didn't mom tell you? Riley knocked her out cold." She turns to me and squeezes my arm with her best 'I'm proud of you' smile.

"I feel a high five coming on." I guess Xander still takes the whole me trying to kill him thing seriously. And I thought *I* couldn't let something go.

"Where is she?" Jeez, Red always being the practical one. She still really needs to loosen up.

"Cops took her away about an hour ago. Poetic justice." Huh?

"How's that?" Some chick clinging onto Xander asks the question cuz I guess nobody else would dare. Things have changed round here. It used to take more than screwing one of the members to join the Scooby gang.

"Well, she did all those crimes, and now she's being arrested. I guess that's just regular justice. That's your fault," she says to me punching me gently on the arm. "Making miss all those classes." Aah, a sweet moment. Trust a 'ahem' from G Man to ruin it.

"Unless I'm mistaken, Faith is no longer in police custody."

"What are you talking about?" B looks shit scared and I am too. I thought I brought the whole slayer power thing with me. Beefstick would never be able to break from the cops with his own lousy strength.

"Watcher's Council. They uh sent a retrieval team to capture Faith." I try not to breathe a sigh of relief. "This is a special operations unit. They, uh, handle the council's trickier jobs - smuggling, interrogation, wetworks." Huh. Sex?

"What's wetworks?" Willow looks as confused as me.

"Scuba-type stuff." Ah. Maybe they're gonna drown him.

"I thought it was murder." That new chick is way too cool to be with Xander.

"Well, yeah, but there could be underwater murder, with snorkels." Bright boy. Good job your brain was starved of oxygen *before* I tried to strangle you.

"So they're taking her to England?" There is concern in B's voice. I can hear it.

"It'll be a long, long time before she returns."

"Yeah. I hope they throw the book at her." Willow is still gunning for my blood I see. I could kill her right now but I'm having way too much fun.

"I'm not sure there is a, a book for this."

"They could throw other things." Ouch Red. I'm hurt! I gotta ask.

"You really don't like Faith do you?"

"After everything she did to Buffy? No way jose. You should have seen-" she is cut of by B giving her a look, and I am really starting to wonder just what things Buffy has been keeping to herself.

"So what you're saying is that everything's fine?" That new chick really cuts to the chase.

"Oh, um, yes."

"Well, I'm glad you called us all here because that information could never be conveyed by telephone." I try so hard not to crack up. Way to go! Buffy and Willow start whispering in the corner. Good ole slayer hearing, you gotta love it.

"What's up, Buffy?"

"I can't keep doing this all the time. The Faith thing. I'm worried Will. What if they do something really bad to her. I know you don't like her. I can understand that you have, erm, issues, we all do. But there was this connection. This thing. It's strange, I'm not sure-"

"I know. The slayer thing. I remember." I see Willow roll her eyes and I know this whole thing with me just really pisses her off.

"But it's true. It's almost like I can smell her on Riley from their fight. I can sense her. I know she's been near him."

"That's okay Buffy. She'll wash off him next time he showers. And the Council really don't make a habit of killing people. She'll be okay." They hug each other and I'm more than a little bit worried about her slayer sense. But then hey, who would ever think that this could happen. I'm in the clear.

*****

"You really came through in the end, Riley. But I told you to stay put. You could have got hurt." She is disapproving, and I can tell that she is used to being the one giving the orders in this relationship. Not the equality that she had with Angel. "But I love you. You are the hero of the day." I think of all the times that I have wanted to hear her say those words to me, looking into my eyes like she is now.

"I love you too." They just slide off my tongue. Damn, I've never said that before. She likes it though, being adored always made B smile. She's still juiced from the not-fight, I can feel it. I wonder if she is feeling anything strange. My slayer sense is picking up so much stuff, so she's gotta be feeling something too. Maybe she is and she just doesn't say anything coz she's not used to sharing that kind of stuff with him. Doesn't have that kind of bond that we have. Oh god, she's kissing me again, but she's holding back. I know she is. Hey, I don't care. I've waited this long to kiss her again and now I can. It's so easy to part my lips, and slide my tongue into her mouth. She still tastes like Buffy, and I love the way she kisses me back. Love the way she makes me feel and what the hell is going on in my pants? Shit. I think I just found the flaw in the plan. This is strange. She's laughing at me now, but she's loving it. Trouble is, I don't know how to turn this damn thing off. Not used to playing down the sexual feeling here, but in this body it's wicked obvious. I'm going to have to keep my eyes closed for the rest of my damn life. Maybe if I push her off, a little bit of distance...nope, she's not budging.

"Willow is staying at Tara's tonight. Yet another of their spells. Or chemistry. Not sure which. So how would you like to stay here with me tonight." She slides herself further up my thighs and man, I am loving this. It feels so good just having her there, kissing me when she wants to, none of that 'Oh Faith we shouldn't have' bullshit.

"Buffy. Wait." Okay, why am I doing this to myself? "Before I hit her, Faith said something about the two of you having a history. Do you want to tell me just what she meant to you?" And he's me thinking I wanted to hurt her. No I gotta give myself another dose of that Buffy pain. She jumps up off my lap, trying to get away from me. She obviously doesn't like playing this game.

"I told you everything. I nearly killed her. But it was her or me, and I wouldn't have done it, except for..."

"Angel," I finish for her, getting ready to here the whole 'how much she loved him, how much of a bitch I was' story that's been on fucking replay in my head for the past eight months.

"Who told you about Angel?" She looks at me hard and confused at the same time.

"I - er" Shit. So she hasn't even told him. The guy who she tried to killed me for, the guy who she ran to when I couldn't deal with all the heavy shit that was going on around me, he's not even talked about anymore. This is too much. I wanna do some damage to that pretty little face of hers right now. If this damn thing would go down, I can't even sit up straight. Got to keep calm. "I hear things, yunno." God that sounded too much like me and I guess a lot less like him. Try again. "Now, do you want to tell me everything?"

"Riley, it's too much. All of it. It's in the past and I want to put in all behind me and try to live some kind of normal life. Angel was...it was different to us, different to Faith, different to everything that is here now. And there's no point dwelling on it."

"You're going to have to tell me some time Buffy." Sensitive without pushing it too much. Play the game Faith, it's all just a game, and this time you're making the rules. Stay cool girl. Remember she's Buffy, not B. Not my B.

"I know! I know. Just, not now. Please. Just hold me." Now that's more like it.

PART 3

Notes: It is from Riley's pov, but bare with me and I'll get back to the Faith-Buffy action soon!

"Well, it's awake." Ouch. I don't recognise the voice, but it reminds me a little of Giles. Lord, my mouth is so dry it feels like the dustbowl. I can barely open my eyes. Where am I? Then I suddenly remember seeing a fist come towards my face. Faith. She must have captured me somehow. Buffy said she would go after the people that she loved. And I think she must have shattered my jaw.

"What are you going to do with me?" It's more of a croak than a question. I see what Buffy means about Faith. She sure can pack a punch.

"We're taking you back to the mother country. Seems you've been a naughty girl."

"Look here." I try to raise my hand but can't. "I have protection of the Supreme Court. You can't do this to me. What do you mean girl?" I open my eyes, as my mouth fills with saliva and I realise my voice sounds strange, and I look down at my body. I can feel the fear welling up inside me when I realise that something is very, very wrong here. More wrong than I could possibly imagine. "Listen to me. Y-You've made a mistake. I am not Faith. I am Special Agent Riley Finn of the US Military. Okay," I look down, over what appears to be a pretty impressive cleavage, at the black jeans covering legs that are way too slim to be mine. "Okay, I appear to actually look like Faith, but I'm not."

"When Rupert said they all called her psycho slayer," the man who spoke before turned to his companion driving the vehicle. "I thought it was a nickname. I didn't realise she was a loony."

"I am not Faith!" I realise that my voice is becoming more high pitched, I can hear the fear coming through. "She must have performed some kind of magic. You guys do believe in magic don't you?" I suddenly realised that I might have dropped myself in it even further.

"Congratulations. No one's ever actually tried that one on me before."

"Let me go. That is an order." I try to use my firmest voice. "Call Giles. He will be able to verify who I am. Or Buffy, get Buffy." My heart sinks when I realise that if I am here then Faith must be with Buffy, in my body. If she really is the psychopath I'm beginning to see why everyone thinks she is, Buffy will surely never see it coming. She trusts me implicitly, I know she does, and if Faith is going to go this far, then she's not going to become all moral about using my body to get at Buffy.

"Giles doesn't work for the council anymore. For that matter, neither does Buffy Summers. And what you are, Miss, is a package. I deliver the package. I don't much care what's inside." I'm so frustrated that for the first time in about ten years I feel like I want to cry. And I don't like their use of the word package. I can spot ruthless people. That look from veterans that means they have killed before and they will do it again if they had to, no questions asked. Men who follow orders. Like me. Only this time I'm on the receiving end and I don't like it one little bit.

"This is stupid." I say it more to myself than the British guy, but he turns around and looks at me. I don't know why, but I've really pissed him off.

"The Watcher's Council used to mean something. You perverted it. You trash. We should have killed you while you were asleep." He leans forward and spits in my face. I flinch as it hits me and wonder why his words make me feel like scum. I don't think I've ever had someone look at me that way before. All I can do is look back at him defiantly as I can feel his spit sliding down along my cheek. He turns away and I think I feel a tear slip out of my eye and mingle with it.

I try to call on any of the military training I've ever had to figure out where I am but I have no idea at all. Except we're no longer in the town and haven't been for a few miles now. No stopping or starting at lights, and only the occasional sound of a truck going past us. I fly forward and my arms are wrenched by the chains as the brakes are suddenly slammed on and we skid to a stop. I suspect the jolting is for my benefit. I guess we must be staying here when they both get out the truck. I try to lift my arms but the chains are so heavy each movement is a real effort. I must remember they are designed for holding a slayer. If they could hold Buffy down, I know that I don't stand a chance. I swear, I've had more trouble in my life since I met her, but I keep coming back for more. I hope Faith hasn't killed her yet. Not that I'm really up for pulling off the big rescue attempt right now. All I wanted to do was to prove to Buffy that I could keep up with her, that I was man enough for her, and all I've done is give her the thing that would kill her, and make myself even more helpless in the process. Ironic huh?

My feet are free though and I use all my strength to kick against the door, knowing it will be useless, but at least I can feel like I am doing something. Through the din of boots on metal, I can hear footsteps. I pause as the door opens. Until I see it's one of them with a syringe.

"This'll bloody keep you quiet." He walks towards me and I kick my legs out, hooking my feet behind his knees and tripping him to the floor. Faith has some pretty strong muscles for a girl. He stumbles towards me, which is great apart from the fact that I can't lift my arms properly to get my hands on him. With one last spurt of strength, I swing the chain around his neck and pull it tightly, kicking the syringe into a dark corner of the truck. I hold him there, absurd fear thoughts about Jabba the Hut and Princess Leah once being in this exact same position going through my brain. I just hope that they are as afraid of what Faith is capable of as Buffy and Willow are. I know the reason this guy isn't struggling properly is because he's scared to piss me off. Thank god. If he really tried to struggle, I think he'd soon be much less afraid. So she's made me her, I'll play her.

"How about this? I'll be quiet, and you can scream." I say in most most menacing voice. And scream he does. Oh, he's scared of her all right. And here they come, the two other knights in shining armour. "Now you unchain me - very slowly And!" I can still feel the dried spit on my cheek, "politely, or I kill this guy." Okay, why do they not look in the slightest bit worried that the slayer has one of their men in a choke hold?

"When we go on a job, we always put our affairs in order first, in case of accident." One of them says with a smug grin. "Sorry, Smithy." I don't believe it, they are just walking away. I feel my heart sink, and let the poor guy go.

"Stand easy soldier," I say without thinking, before remembering I'm in no position at all to start giving orders. I snort at my own stupidity. And then I can feel my eyes closing, a mixture of fear and exhaustion, before everything goes black.

*****

When I wake up I can't remember where I am, and it takes me a while to place the voices, and when I do, I don't like what I hear.

"They don't think they can get us passage. They've ordered the kill, if we don't hear from them by tomorrow night."

"Torch the place?"

"We had better go out later and get the gas." They are going to kill me. They are really going to kill me. It just keeps going over and over in my mind, as I realise that there is nothing I can do, no way out of this for me. It is one thing going down in the line of duty, something noble, full honours, medals for bravery, it is another to be a nameless victim of a hit. Buffy will get me out of here, she has to. She is my one last piece of hope, the one who always saves the day at the eleventh hour. She will do it, if anyone can do it, she can. I remember she is with Faith and my gut tightens, and I begin to retch. Yeah, she'll come and save me, if she's still alive as well that is. I heave again and again, and somewhere in the process of throwing my guts up I let it all go and sob until I fall asleep again.

PART 4

Notes: This one has been a long time in coming - the result of a total inability to write anything coherent!! This is from Faith's point of view.

"Uuurrgghh." Where am the fuck am I? Ah, B. Gotta be, coz I feel like somebody is trying to electrocute my sides. Good old Buffy, always able to bring on the tingles. Oh boy, she snores! The great Buffster isn't all sleepy perfection after all. And here was me thinking she didn't have any human weaknesses like the rest of us. I could do her now if I wanted. So vulnerable. Sucker. When did we fall asleep? I reach over and turn off the light, overreaching and nearly falling out of bed. B feels the movement and rolls over to face me, putting her arms over my chest and nuzzling into my neck. I can feel her breath along my collar bone, and it makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

"You okay?" she mumbles into my skin.

"Yeah. You?" After my Angel comment all she wanted was to lie there and have me hold her. She was trying really hard not to cry, I could tell. Jeez, she is so damn emotional. And that little pre-bronze kiss must have been screwing with her head ever since. Who knows, if it hadn't been for that stupid fuck getting in the way of my stake I might have been lying here in my own damn body instead of beefstick's.

"Mnn, sleepy," she sounds really tired. The clock says it's four am, and we never got round to patrolling again. Which is good, coz I really don't like the idea of having some vamp whip my ass, while I fight like a girl. I never did that in my own body for God's sake, so why do it in college boy's?

"I'll take that as a yes to you being okay then." I can't help myself laughing a little. B's always been superslayer alert when I've seen her. Now she seems about as scary as that stupid stuffed pig she's got.

"Hold me." Man she's big on this whole holding thing. She can look her lover in the eye while she sticks a sword through his heart, but she really needs to be held afterwards. My arms wrap all around her though, and feel strong holding her there. I gotta say I think I made the right choice in picking out this body to make my own. Not that I was thinking much at the time but hey. Well, safe to say, I'm five by five. As I pull her closer she looks up at me and her eyes are dopey from being asleep. Damn, she looks so sexy like that. Always had to envy Willow for those little girly girly sleepovers. I would have stayed up all night watching her sleep at one point. Guess Red probably did to.

"Hey," she smiles and I swear she looks like she's feeling shy. Like she's happy, but I can tell something is missing. I can sense it. Wonder if beefstick ever did? She still isn't baring her heart and soul. Not that he would ever be able to handle Buffy's heart and soul. He doesn't live in her world. Just a soldier boy, college boy, the sort that any girl could have. B deserves more than him. Me. Whatever. Buffy lost her heart to the undead. And it coulda been me too. Who am I trying to kid? She could never love me like she loved Angel, but she could love me more than she loved Whatsisname if the chance was there. We were the chosen two. We were meant to be together. Only a slayer could understand how another slayer feels, right? I curl my arm protectively around her. I know I want to make love to her, no matter how much I am pushing that little voice to the back of my mind. The little voice that tells me that if she responds it will be him she is thinking of, and not me. Yet I want her so badly. I bet beefstick's just soooo wholesome in bed. None of the kink. I wonder what she'd do if I turned around now and give her the screw of her life. Probably just sit back and wait to see if I lost my soul knowing B. Too bad I lost mine a long time ago. About the time she was cutting up my insides I think it was.

"I want to make love to you," I say, barely loud enough to be a whisper, knowing that it sounds better than my usual "I'm feelin' horny, wanna screw?" Certainly more likely to win Buffy over, and it does as I lean down her to kiss her, hold her, can't believe I am being this tender. This way it will hurt her more when I tell her the truth is what I want to tell myself, but I gave up that one about five minutes ago. Wasn't even convincing myself. How does it go again? Want, take, have. So I kiss her ever so gently and run my hands along her sides, slowly pulling the top she is wearing up over her head, letting her help me as we break the kiss for a second or two as the material passes between our face. I can't help myself taking in a deep breath as I see her body naked, even though I have thought about what she must look like a million times. I pull her in to kiss her again, slowly opening her mouth with mine, wrapping my arm around her waist and I'm surprising myself now.

She feels so delicate, so fragile, almost as if she could snap and for a moment I could almost forget she is the slayer, tough enough to tear me limb from limb, strong enough to kill me. I roll myself onto my back pulling her gently on top of me as she starts to kiss me more passionately and steal the breath from my body as she slips her tongue into my mouth without warning, and tries to push herself further into me, and I feel the muscles of her stomach fit against mine. Until she runs her hands through my hair and I start to feel it, feel the need taking over me once more, and I know when desire is about to kick in. I roll her over onto her back and reach down and take one of her nipples into her mouth, and before I know it my hands have got out of control and so have hers and she's holding my head, needing me like I need her. I look up and she surprises me again when I see that Buffy with the wild look in her eyes, the Buffy that for a twenty-four hours was my mirror. The B who I thought was long gone. I Move back up to kiss her, running my hands over her breasts and feel her gripping the hard muscles of this back. I hope that she does not say his name. Yeah, it's my new name, but I don't want to hear it. In this new body I feel like a complete virgin, and then realise I am.

I try to push the fear to the back of my mind, and I never want to forget the taste of Buffy in my mouth. And our kisses are getting deeper as my fingers move along her body, glad she is wearing sweatpants, as my hand slips under the waistband. I feel like there are little sparks of electricity everywhere my fingers touch her. Something deeper, I can sense her now, feel what she wants, feel how she feels. I can tell what she needs just by being this close to her. I just want to be able to kiss her like this forever, and I wish I didn't but I have needed to have Buffy Summers love me and breathe ragged breaths into my mouth for so long now I don't care about right or wrong or revenge. All I can think of is the feel of her body beginning to arch getting ready to explode underneath my fingers. And I don't know why it happens then, when I think that she is letting go, that the sense that has been prickling my spine for hours shoots up hers. And as she comes while I am kissing her, her eyes shoot open and look straight into mine. She realises just a split second too late. 'Faith' she half-breathes, half-moans into my mouth.

PART 5

Notes: Again from Faith's point of view....
For: Gareth and Adam, who have kept me going with this series. Thank You :)

"Faith." her voice is still echoing in my mind when I hit the wall on the other side on the room.

"Jeez" I roll over and jump up into stance, automatic reaction I guess, but I can tell it just makes her sure. I am sprung. She gets up off the bed, and I wonder if she always goes straight into the souls of her lovers. Perhaps it is just a slayer thing, but from what I've seen, I'd be willing to bet it's a Buffy Summers thing. All I know is that I am in one hell of a bizarre situation where Buffy and I are faced of against each other naked, and I am in a man's body. This isn't going quite the way I planned it, but its still fun. Apart from the screwing. That was just....after what we've just done, I am scared that if we fight now, I'll want to be pinned under her. No such luck that she'll want the same. The hurt and anger is back in her eyes. I know she knows it's me, that is the special 'I'm going to gut you' look that only the two of us share. Sweet isn't it?

"Just what the Hell is going on here? Faith? But....Riley?"

"You don't want to know B." Shit, she's really hurt my shoulder with that move. I'm glad I can be myself again, but I know that I don't have the fire in my voice I need for this. Still buzzing from making lo-, screwing her.

"Try me. I'd like to know before I kill you. Again."

"Okay then," I shrug. "That weapon. The one I crushed. In your mom's room. It, it switched our bodies. I'm in Riley's and he's in mine."

"Why Faith?" she shakes her head at me, but for once she's leaving out the 'caring slayer' pity.

"Guess, B?" I feel like she has asked me why so many times now. The answer never changes though.

"But Faith, why do this to me?" she points at her naked body. "Couldn't we have just fought or something." I almost laugh out loud when she says that.

"What just like the good ole days! Besides, you were never one for throwing down. Except over dead boy, but I gotta admit you surprised me with that one."

"No, I mean, what we just did, what I, dammit I don't know what I mean. You....so Riley is in your body on the way back to England? I am *so* going to kill you this time Faith." I grin to myself, knowing that screwing her body is going to screw her mind for a long time after this. I just have to ignore that little bit of guilt. It's only there coz I was enjoying it as much as she was, right?

"You can't B." Okay, I'm smug. But I *did* come here for revenge after all. "You kill me and you'll never get him back. There won't be-" The phone rings and cuts me off. She looks down at it warily.

"Don't move." She keeps one eye on me as she reaches down to pick up the receiver. "Giles. What? No? When? How? I'll be right over." She puts the phone down and looks like this time she's going to make good on that threat. "They can't get you to England. So guess what they appear to think to be a good idea. They're going to get rid of you. My boyfriend is going to be killed because they think that he is you." She starts screaming at me and I know this time she is really close to losing it.

"Shit, B. I had no idea they would do that. They want me dead? What happened to all that rehab crap?" I think about running but suddenly realise I am still naked. And they really want me dead. They'll kill him to do it. I look inside B's eyes and can see that she is falling apart and doesn't know what to do. Shit. Why do these things happen to me?

"Here." She picks up my jeans off the floor and throws them to me. "Put these on." I can tell by the way she starts giving orders she has a plan. She is starting to get dressed herself while the jeans are still flying across the room. By the time that I have pulled them up, she is ready to go and walking over to me, a frown creasing her forehead. She reaches out to me and places a hand on my stomach, running her fingertips over the flesh gently. "I, I didn't notice in the darkness. You've healed him. His body I mean." She shakes her head like she's confused and I know it's killing her inside. What we did was as close to perfect as dammit, and now she has to deal with the fact it was with me and not him. Now is really not the time though, and she thinks it the same time I do. "Put your shirt on Faith." She says it harshly, her voice putting the distance between us. "Here's the deal. And believe me...you have no choice in the matter. You help me get Riley back from the Council and I won't kill you. But if he dies, you die."

"What is it about you B? Something about me you need to keep your boytoys alive."

"Shut your wiseass mouth for once Faith. Think about what you just said. I've as good as killed you before and I'll do it again. Now listen up. You help us get Riley back, and I'll get Willow to do some reversal type spell. There must be one."

"And what's in it for me B?"

"Like I said, I don't kill you." She opens the door and pulls me through. "And Faith," for the merest second there is a hint of something else in her voice. "I won't hand you back over to the Council either."

*****

"So that's the deal." I'm standing here with the Scooby gang looking at me, and if looks could kill, well, Riley'd never be coming back. I look at them defiantly for the first five minutes, but they wear me down eventually. So much hatred. I try to listen as Giles explains whats up.

"Well, apparently, the Council keeps certain kinds of containment units all across the world. There is one near here, what with being on a Hellmouth and all."

"Containment units?" Buffy asks him. She's standing at my side, and even though I know it is to make sure I don't try anything, part of it is comforting too. Because it means the others won't try to plan a mass assault on me. Slayer or no, they're hating me so much now they'd just tear me limb from limb.

"Yes, not unlike the Initiative, though obviously not so technology based or military. I just wish we knew where it was. Since I left the Council, my sources have become increasingly infrequent." I'm shuffling my feet nervously watching G-Man polish his glasses when it hits me. A conversation with my Watcher, not long before everything went wrong. I rub my eyes, trying to remember just what she said. If I ever needed help badly, should something happen to her, I should go to Sunnydale and find Buffy Summers. Which, of course, I did. And if I ever needed a place to hide, there was an old abandoned barn ten miles north of the outskirts, just off the main route to the Hellmouth. It would be safe, it was owned by the council.

"I've got it," my mouth says, but I kinda think it's more like I'm losing it. I dart forward and grab some wicked blastergun thing of Giles' desk. Okay, not his usual style, but it will work best for what I need. I turn round and see they all look terrified, including Buffy. They think I'm going to gun 'em all down. Shit. "I think I know where they'll keep him," shrugging, I explain as I check for safety switches and test its weight in my hands.

"What? How-?"

"Trust me B." I say it and I mean it, I just hope that she can see it.

"Then I'm coming with you."

"No way. This is my game, my play. Red, you start to work on a reversal spell," Jeez, when did I start giving orders? She just looks at me stunned. So does B. I walk over to her. "Trust me," I tell her again, my fucking voice becoming husky coz I guess this is the end for us now. "I'll bring your boy back. You just make sure you keep your end of the deal." Then without knowing why, I lean in and kiss her on the lips, just long enough to let her know that I mean it, and that after all this is done, it will be goodbye. I'll stop hunting her if she'll stop hunting me. She looks only mildly surprised at the kiss, and then I'm out the door before the tears begin to fall. I think I hear Giles yelling 'Oh no, not my car,' as I hot-wire the oldsmobile and tear off the driveway.

PART 6

Notes: A change of pace here with Buffy's pov. Happy now? :) Not that I write B very well, so lets just see how it goes....

"So that's it. You're just going to let her go with the most powerful weapon we have? Is anyone else here thinking this is crazy?" Xander has a point but I'm following my instinct. "And what's with the kissy-kissy? Ooomph." I say a silent thank you to Anya and her elbow in his ribs, and look over to see the others glaring at him to shut up as well. They've all guessed, and I feel hollow inside. I'm biting my nails. When did that start?

"Buffy," Willow walks up to me, and smiles as best as she can. "I agree with Xander that it does seem, well, more than a little crazy, but Faith's your call. She always has been. So if you trust her to go for some reason, then I trust you."

"Thanks Will." I can see she is looking into my eyes, asking silent questions and I just nod slightly. When she puts her arms around me and hugs me, I think I'm going to fall apart completely. Must focus. There is so much we have to do. "Can you do a reversal spell?"

"I think so. I'm going to need help though. I, the girl who I've been spending time with. From my Wicca group? She's a really powerful witch. She can do all sorts of magics, she is really into the black arts and I think I'll need her help for this one." Willow in babble mode, already? She must be really bothered by all this.

"Sure Willow," I squeeze her hand. "I just want to have Riley back."

"Ahem," I look over at Giles. "If Faith really is as good as her word, then we can hope to have them both back here within a few hours. Willow I think you ought to get your friend over here and we can start looking up translocation spells, and try to establish which one Faith used. How did she manage to do it anyway?" Giles looks puzzled at the thought of 'Faith the Witch'.

"I don't know Giles. She had a weapon. It sort of went in the palm of her hand. She broke it when I found them."

"Well that must have contained the effects from a pre-performed spell. If it is broken then we will have to conjure the reversal and find another vessel. I presume so at least. Xander, Anya, help me look through my books. Willow, phone your friend." Yippee, everyone in research mode over my love life again. Riley. Nice. Stable. Churchgoer. Wholesome. Demon hunter. *Not* a demon. All the qualities a girl looks for. Possessed by psycho slayer. Now, *that's* not on the cards.

*****

They think I haven't noticed but I have. They keep looking at me out of the corner of their eyes, I can see the questions, the things that they want to ask but don't quite know how. I mean, Giles and Willow asked the basics so they could try to work out the reversal spell. "Aha!" Willow jumps up and I jump with her. "I think I've found it. 'The Draconian Katra spell can be harnessed within a physical vessel, the spell itself becoming validated instantaneously the moment that contact exists between two mortals and the vessel'. That must be the one. And yes! There is a reversal spell right here."

I watch as Willow's friend walks behind her and reads over her shoulder.

"W..w..we can do that Willow."

"Easily." I watch as Willow smiles at her and leans back into her slightly. They seem very close. So why haven't I met her before? I guess I must have been so distant lately, so caught up in Riley and college, I don't even notice when my roommate has a new best friend.

"Do it." I almost snap at Willow, though what right have I to be jealous? I soften it with a smile, hoping she won't notice, but knowing her she will, and that will be another topic on the list of things we'll have to talk to when we're on our own at the dorm.

"Not a problem Buffy. We should have everything we need here for the spell. Giles, can I have a look in your magic cupboard?"

"Of course."

"And I'll go get Pizza, true to my ritual performing role." Xander jumps up and heads for the door, followed by Anya, and Giles goes to make tea. Great I'm stuck here on my own. With my thoughts again. Why did she do this to me? How could she hurt me like this? Even now I can feel the touch of her hands on my skin, the way I felt when she kissed me. Why didn't I guess? I mean I look into Giles' eyes when he is a demon and saw him there straight away. Riley is my boyfriend, Faith is the other half of the chosen two and I couldn't tell them apart. Not until....well... Maybe I didn't want to? Maybe it's because Riley has never made me feel that way before. And now Faith has made me feel something I've never felt before. A victim. She has used me and she has abused me like Angelus never could, like the Master never could. She has got me.

I was making love, dammit, I was being made love to. *We* were making love. But Faith? Miss 'get some get gone'? It really felt like she was doing more than screw. Either that or she has improved her acting since the thing with the mayor. Dammit! I could even read her like a book then, she was such a bad liar. But not this time though. And now I am trusting her and her alone to bring Riley back. I must be crazy. Faith has never allowed herself to feel guilt about anything. Except her watcher of course. But that was a different Faith. Hell, that was the Faith that I was ever so slightly falling in love with before Angel returned. Faith who was more scared than she liked to admit, but at least she would open up to me sometimes. How many times did I want to follow her? How many times did I wish that I could love the slaying like she did, to not feel the responsibility that meant I was destined to a life in Sunnydale? And now she is doing the responsibility thing and I just don't get it. I feel her tingle in me still and I truly believe that she will keep her word. I don't know why and I'm not sure that I really want to. But I swear that if Riley dies I will kill her. I will find her and I will kill her. No matter how else I feel...

*****

Eight thirty. She has been gone for two hours now. Willow and Tara went off to Giles' bedroom to perform the reversal spell, and now there's a little green glowing thing on the middle of the table, waiting for them to come back. I have to stop myself from pacing the room. She should be back by now. My jaw aches from clenching it so tightly since the moment I realised it was her, and I can feel the pain in my head beginning to build up like it's going to explode. I can feel it again. The tingle on my skin. Slayer sense huh? Trying tell me something. I just wish I knew what.

PART 7

Notes: Yeah, we go back to Faith for this one folks!! And this takes off from where we left Faith at the end of part 5.....

"Fucking Hell, can't you go any faster than this?!" I yell at the dashboard, slamming my palms on the steering wheel and my foot to the floor. It's been a while since I drove, but it feels good, especially when you have a blaster lying across the passenger seat. I could just roll down the windows, turn up the stereo and keep driving. Disappear. Let them kill beefstick and forget all about me. This country is so damn huge B'd never find me.

Who am I trying to kid? I could go anywhere in the world and I'd be looking over my shoulder waiting for her to get me. Kill me for good this time. Jeez, knowing B, if some vamp got there first, she'd drag my ass all the way back from Hell just for the pleasure of doing me herself.

But I ain't stupid. I pull this one off and I'll never be looking over my shoulder again. I'll be free. No Buffy Summers, no Council, just me and whatever the hell I want. I have no choice at all really, but it's still a pretty good one all things considered. And hey, one day I'd like to forget the feel of knife in my gut.

I've been outta town for a good ten minutes now, but no sign of that damn barn. I fucking hope it's the right place or I'm seriously screwed. And I hope I'm not already too late, if they are treating him like a slayer then there is a good chance that he'll really be starting to feel it right now. And there it is. If I pull the car over here onto the side of the road, it's a bit of a run, but there's less chance of them hearing me coming. I check the blaster. Safety catch off, power levels full as long as this little glowy bar is reading right, and ready to go. The corn in the field is pretty high, enough to get me close with no problem anyway. Before I even reach the wall, I can hear him crying inside. Crying with confusion and fear. I still can't believe that I am doing this. That means he is still alive and we both have a chance.

I push my back up to the wall and strain my hearing, trying to work out how many of them there are.

"We have to wait another hour that's all."

"But we know what they are going to say. If they could get us passage we would have heard by now."

"And do you want to be the one to say you've done the slayer if they call it off at the last moment? Because you will be going to the same place as her if they do."

"I don't like it that's all. She's been quiet. She's crying for Goodness sake. The slayer is lying in the back of our truck crying. That has to be a ploy."

"Of course it's a ploy you idiot. She must think we are really stupid to fall for that one. We go in the back of that truck and she'll tear us limb from limb." Okay, so now I know where he is, and at a guess there's two of them, maybe three at the most. And with this baby, I like those odds. One two three and my foot goes through the barn doors.

"Hello boys," I hear myself say as I aim at the one pulling a gun from the back of his jeans and feel the power surge through me as I zap him. "Cool. Anyone else want a go?" I offer as we watch him jerk on the floor. "Nope? Urg." The other two charge at me, and I try to hold onto the gun as I kick out, feeling the sole of my foot connect as a fist smashes down into my own jaw. I go down under it, rolling out the way, remembering that these guys have military training to deal with slayers and demons. I can hear beefstick yelling and point the blaster at the back of the truck, blowing the lock as I flip myself back up and flow with my body, headbutting the guy coming towards me straight on the nose. "Urgh," now I got blood onto my top. I push my palm into his jaw and stagger forwards as a fist connects with the back of my neck. "Bastard!"

The doors of the truck have swung open and I can see beefstick looking shocked. The fact he appears to be rescuing himself is probably blowing his mind right now. I can't help myself laughing as I finally get a handle on the second guy, feeling a satisfying crunch of bone under my foot, and that leaves just the one, backing off and about to head for the door. "Ready aim fire," I laugh as he falls to the floor, shaking like a fish.

"Come on beefstick, lets get you back to your girl."

"Faith?"

"That's me. I normally look like that though." I can't help but point at him. "Yeah, B sent me to save your ass. So don't even think about trying anything. You don't stand a chance. There's gotta be some keys around here somewhere."

"He keeps them." Beefstick points to one of the bodies. Quick kick to all the pocket areas until one of them clangs.

"Bingo." I undo the locks as quick as I can, coz I just want this over with now. I have to give him a hand as he struggles to get up. "Bet they treated you pretty bad huh?"

"Drugs. Lots of them. Even for a college boy."

"Come on, lets go." I leap from the back of the truck and start sprinkling the gas up against the walls and over the floor, making sure the bodies get a good soaking.

"What are you doing?"

"Look, don't get all righteous on me now frat boy. Coz they were gonna do this to you. Or me. Remember that. Don't have any sympathy for these guys. Besides, how do you think I got my rep as a badass? Now get the hell out of here." I can tell he wants to tell me it is wrong, but the part of him that's just spent 24 hours in my body know how it feels. I can tell just by the little nod he gives me before he walks out of the door. He is halfway down the field when I put the match to the barn door, and I manage to catch him up as the whole place blows, sending us flying forwards a couple of yards. "Quick we gotta go before the cops get here."

"Where's the car?"

"Right over there." I point and we start to run, he is limping slightly, but we make it in good time. He sits in the seat and then blacks out completely. "Wuss." I can't help laughing.

It takes a good thirty minutes to get through the city and to Giles' house, but beefstick's still passed out when I get there. I pick him up and kick the car door shut with my foot, and start to carry him towards the house. I can here the scramble of people jumping inside and then B opens the door. She looks like hell.

"Hi Honey, I'm home." Service with a smile huh?

PART 8

Notes: Alternating Buffy & Faith point of view. *** indicates the change. My computer has been shot for a while now so....

I open the door and Faith's just standing there, holding Riley with this goofy grin on her face.

"Hi honey I'm Home." Now I know they haven't switched back bodies. "Told you I'd bring your boy back B." And Riley has never done a crooked smile like that before.

"Is he okay?"

"Yeah, B. Relax. He's okay. They just knocked him around a little."

"Are you okay?" I look at her, trying to ignore the concern in my own voice.

"I'm Fine." She carries him over to the couch and places him down, almost gently. I watch her as she watches herself, looking over her body. Taking it in for the first time, I guess. Something flickers in her eyes and I can't tell what it is, but she turns away.

"Uurggh" I run over to him and hold him, watching her roll her eyes in disgust. The old Faith is back there, walls ten feet high that no one could ever get through. Tough Faith that I know now isn't real. Dark, maybe evil, or probably just like my mom said, misunderstood and unhappy. "Buffy?" Riley is squinting at me and I know that it probably feels like he got off lightly last time with a great big demon skewer in the ribs.

"Shhh. I'm here. Everything is going to be okay now." He looks so weak and fragile now, in a body that looked strong to me even when it was lying in a hospital bed with everyone saying it had no chance. The expression changes as those lips try to say something to me. He coughs again first, but then the words come out.

"You saved me. I knew you would." I look up at Faith who just smiles that smile of hers again and quirks an eyebrow.

"Guess love is blind, huh, B?" As she folds her arms across her chest, and for some reason I want to smile for the first time in a long time.

***

Everyone's pretty much ignoring me now that the drama is over, and with B stopping them from yelling at me, I guess there isn't much else left that they have to say. I guess they're all pretty much surprised that I kept my word after all. I know that I am. Riley's looking a little worse for wear, and I can see why. His body, my body, looks pretty bruised and bloody from the beating it was given. But the body I'll give him back is in tiptop condition. Better than before in fact. I guess it's going to stick in his mind for a while though. Something catches my eye, and I wonder over to the other side of the room. "What is--?" I point to a little green thing on the table. Red comes up behind me.

"It's a katra. Or the home-conjured version. It-it should switch you back, now that you've managed to get Riley."

"Thank God." It's been quite a ride, but I want my body back. Hell, I just want to get out of here so that I don't have to look at B anymore. It hurts, and hey, I don't like pain. If anyone has been able to fuck with my brain, it's her. "Come on beefstick, let's get this spell over and done with. What do we have to do?"

"Faith, you hold the Katra," Red always takes charge when there is some kind of magic involved. She's even forgot that she's wanted me dead for the past year. "And then you have to touch Riley." I stop myself from making a wise crack just in time.

"You mean like I did the first time?"

"Yes."

"Okay then?" I walk over to where he is sitting on the couch and know that I'll be sitting there in a few seconds. And then it will all be over. I can walk out of that door and never look back. Never say goodbye. Jesus, I gotta get a grip. I'm seriously starting to loose it here, just coz of one little screw. I reach out to him. "Take my hand." He presses his palm against mine and then for a couple of seconds it feels kinda fuzzy, like it did the first time round. Then I am looking into Riley's face and not mine. "It worked guys," I say, feeling every inch of my body scream out in pain, before beefstick throws a punch my way. I see it coming, but for some reason, I just let his fist go towards my face. Part of it is the pain in my arms that stop me from blocking, and I guess I deserve it. I close my eyes feel his knuckles hit my face. Another bruise on a bruise.

"You bitch." It's said quiet and slow with the hatred you feel after being me for a while. I look at him as he brings his other fist towards me and...nothing. Out of nowhere I see a hand on his wrist and a surprised look on his face. Oh shit! Reflex action I guess, as he snaps his wrist back without thinking and connects square with B's nose. Now, normally, I would think that was a pretty wicked move, but this time it was definitely a big mistake. Suddenly I feel the strength surge through me again, and I happy to believe it's the good old slayer healing kicking in. He's looking at B and I guess that he is as surprised as I am. She looks hurt and amazed that he would hit her. I can't keep my mouth shut can I?

"You sonofabitch!" I'm about to launch it there for the kill when - phone? The sudden ring surprises me as G-Man dives for it. The whole rooms stops for a second.

"Hello. Yes, she's back. Indeed. Yes, with Riley. We've just perfo- oh. All right." He hangs up suddenly and heads over to the TV. "Xander. Apparently there's a report on the television." So much for my final grand exit. I gotta see what's going on. Looks like we'll just catch the end of it.

"Later," she says it quietly and firmly. Her best 'I mean it' voice.

"But." He has to try and say something. Bad move. When B is pissed like this then the best thing you can do is either shut up or haul your ass out of there before she does it for you.

"No buts Riley. She brought you back to me like she said she would."

"In case you've forgotten, I wouldn't have needed bringing back if that bitch hadn't-"

"Riley, not now." She looks at me when she says it, so I guess that applies to me as well. I know that look like I know that voice and hell, I ain't arguing. Everybody looks uncomfortable and turns their attention to the TV.

".... and barricaded themselves in the church with at least 20 parishioners. One of the few who escaped described the three men as frighteningly disfigured, almost inhuman. So far, one escapee has since died of severe neck wounds. There is no report on the condition of the parishioners still trapped inside, but their assailants have vowed to kill all of them if police attempt to storm the church...."

I look at B, she looks at me. I can't help myself can I? "Come on B, time to motor," I say with a smile.

***

It has to be something to do with Adam. All the demons around here have been getting cocky, but vamps in a church is a whole new ball game. Not to mention the fact that sitting in the back of Giles' car between the two of them is definitely uncomfortable, but until we know how many of them there are in there, I know I have to stop letting the emotions get in the way. Riley insisted on coming along, probably doesn't trust her not to do something with me. Only his definition probably involves some degree of violence. What she did do to me was anything but.

"You people, get out of here!" The cop looks pretty pissed at the thought of a bunch of 'civilians' walking in on a hostage situation. "The police are handling this. Now just back off, right now!" I don't know what to do when Riley walks up to him and talks to him in that commando voice of his. Before I know it, the guy is looking pretty confused as he talks on the short-wave. "He says I have to defer command to you. They got bombs in there or something? Is this a military situation?"

"Trust me, you're not prepared to deal with what's in there. You two, come on." He signals to me and Faith, and I know that he is all professional again now. For the time being at least. How long it will last after this is over I wouldn't like to say. We follow him up to the ramp, and look through the stained glass. Faith picks them all out at once.

"Looks like there's just the three of them B."

"One against one."

"Gotta say, I like those odds."

"Okay then. After three. One, tw-" And Faith's through the door. I swear that girl can't count.

I can tell by the way that the head guy is strutting around that Adam has got to him after all. There is that look, the sense of the invincible that Adam seems to inspire in demons. And from the way he looks at us as we burst into the church, I guess deadboy knows who we are as well.

"Hello Slayers. I was wondering if you would ever show up."

"B, this is one seriously cocky guy. You know, I think we take em all, hard and fast." She gives me that smile that says she's so in the mood to do some damage.

"You think we're afraid of you? We're not afraid of anything anymore."

"Then let all these people go, and you can take us on."

"Heh. I got a better idea." I watch as he takes a swing at her, but I know the second vamp is coming up on my side. Riley'll have to take on the other one. Maybe get rid of some of that pent up energy of his. They are pretty quick and strong, full of all that wholesome Adam confidence. I try to keep one eye on the other two and to make sure they're okay, Riley especially. The initiative drugs have made him strong, but he is still used to using weapons on demons rather than his bare hands.

***

This is what it is all about. Shit, I've been in a coma for eight months and that means I got a lot of catching up to do. And there's that special something about killing vamps. It's the surge, it's a rush. It's what I love about being the slayer. It was what I was built for. I can't wait around, coz I'm just itching for some of that action. Tonight I feel like I could take them all, even without B and the beefstick. But as I hear that oh so good crunch of vamp under my knuckles I hear B begin to grunt in that way she does when she fights. And when she - oomph. Okay. Focus now, grunting later.

Okay, so either I'm pretty slow these days, or the vamps around here have definitely got stronger. And they don't give up easily. And this would be over so much quicker if all the people would all stay in their fucking seats rather than trying to escape and run past us. Do they think these guys won't go after a moving target? Jeez. I could do without them pushing me into the damn vamps. And then there is the silence which means it's just the six of us and now we can really start to play.

Riley's in a skirmish with what looks like the weakest vamp which is probably a good thing, coz I didn't get myself nearly killed saving his ass just so some vamp could get him two hours later. For some reason my guy is so much stronger than I remember the vamps being. I suddenly feel B's back pressed up against mine. We are getting nowhere here.

"B? Wanna swap?"

"Sounds like a plan." I nod even though she can't see me, and bend forwards. I feel the pressure of her body as she kicks off the floor and rolls over my back, and hear the snap as she brings her foot down hard on the face of my vamp. As she slides off me, I push up from my position stake in hand. And I only just miss the damn thing. My aim is seriously off. Okay then back to the hands with the quick one-two. He's backing off and about to run but I'm not letting him off that easily. Out the corner of my eye I see Riley kick his vamp in the ass and send him sprawling through the door, followed by that sound that you get when you torch a stolen car. Okay then slayer, time to check your aim, arm up, elbow bent, throw forward and....poof. It's all in the wrist action.

I look down through the dropping dust and see the last vamp knock the stake from B's hand and shove her against the front pew. He's making with the small-talk as I kick my legs into action, and shit does it hurt. Remind me to let myself heal before making with the heroics next time.

"I have strength you couldn't dream of." He throws a punch into B's face, as I roll down to pick up her stake and then I'm back on my feet again. "Adam has shown me the way," he hits her again and Adam? Who the fuck is Adam? "and there is nothing -" I don't know what he was going to say but I finally get to him and stake him nice and clean through his undead heart. I feel the rush shoot through me as he turns to dust and suddenly I'm face to face with B again.

"One more thing B." I pause, trying to get the air into my lungs.

"Uh-huh?" she's breathing as heavily as I am. That could have been a pretty close call.

"After all this time....tell me you don't get off on this?" She reaches out her hand for me to pull her up from the pew.

"Didn't suck!" she's laughing and so am I, and dammit, I feel good. But a sudden cough from him reminds me that he is still there. B looks at him and quickly lets go of my hand. The moment gone just like that. I lose again. I'm ready to split. For good.

***

So we're outside the church and I can tell by the way that Faith's looking around that she's about to go. This could be my only chance. Swallowing. You are just going to talk to her that's all. Breathe. I take her by the elbow and lead her round to the building away from the others. I look up and see that Willow has noticed me go, and I think she smiled me a little smile of encouragement.

"Faith. What happened between us, it, erm..." I know that we have to talk about this, and believe me I want to, but how do I say what I want to say? What do I want to say? She's shifting from foot to foot, so I guess she's not that comfortable with the whole 'share and grow' option either.

"Forget it B. I wanted revenge and I got it." She's got that look of bravado again.

"It was more than revenge Faith and you know it. If you wanted to get your revenge there were plenty of other ways that you could have done it. Even with that magic katra whatsitsname. You could have done anything to anyone of us. If you really wanted payback, then you could have killed me in my sleep. You had a stronger body than me for the first time ever. I would have had no chance at all this time. But instead you choose to do what you did. It makes no sense to me at all."

"Look, B, it doesn't have to make sense okay. It just happened. You know me, get some get gone."

"You put that in the same category as what you did with Xander! I thought it meant something, after what happened between us before! I mean, I know we never got the chance for anything to happen between us, I just...." I realise that I am babbling and instead of finding out what it meant to her, I just told her what it meant to me. As best as I can know and understand.

"We made a deal B. I bring your boy back and you'll let me go. On top of that we saved the world, again, and it was good. Like old times. But it doesn't change anything. You can't ever go back. You can't take back the fact that you stuck a knife in my gut any more than I can take back all the stuff that I did. So we screwed. Don't sweat it. I'm going to walk down that road now and you never have to see me again. So just forget it. Go back to beefstick with a clean conscience that I duped you. Pretend I'll be the one living with the guilt."

"Will you?"

"Will I what?"

"Feel guilty?"

"No. But you're missing the point here. Hey, don't go insecure on me B. It was good y'know. But better forgotten. See ya around."

"Faith, all that time you were in the hospital...."

"Yeah....?"

"You know, I never stopped thinking about you." There I said it. She gives me this smile that seems to say she knew that anyway, and walks off. Not exactly into the sunset but as near as dammit. It's over between us at last. I want to tell her we're five by five, but it's too late. We've always spoken a different language. Now all I have to do is face Riley.

LATER:

"Okay Giles. Thanks." She's gone. I hang up the phone and look at Riley whose pacing his room like some caged animal. "She's gone. Not a trace. She kept her promise. Giles said the council guys have been officially presumed dead."

"I don't understand. How could she have? I mean, how's it possible?"

"Magic." I know it's something he doesn't really believe in, but sometimes it's just the truth. And even when you believe in it, it doesn't always make sense. "There was something. I should've picked up on it. I should've just . . ." I shake my head and look up at Riley. "You hit me."

"I'm sorry, I just...I wanted to hurt her so badly, to make her feel like she made me feel."

"She knows how it made you feel Riley. That's what she's been living twenty-four-seven for a long time now."

"I know. I just got so caught up. My training, self defence...." He trails off as his excuses get weaker.

"You were messing with forces that you couldn't handle. That was how you got into this situation in the first place Riley."

"I was trying to help you. She was with your mother."

"You were trying to prove something to me. Faith's my problem. She always has been and she always will be."

"Not any more though?"

"You really don't get it do you?" Damn. He looks at me puzzled by the tone of my voice and then his face changes when the truth hits him like a bullet.

"You slept with her." I can hear the hurt and the disbelief in his voice and I don't know whether to tell him the truth or just add this to the list of things we don't talk to each other about. The things that we will never admit. But he knows. This time he is certain and there is no point telling him anything else.

"I slept with you." At least it's halfway towards the truth. But he is hurting badly, looking at his body for a memory that should be his. For a moment that would have been perfect if it had of been his. He doesn't know that, but I do. This is the story of my life, and I can't help but think of Angel again, and despite what I say out loud, it hurts me. It always will hurt me. Riley's the best second choice a girl could ever have, but he's still just a second choice. And after all that has happened this week, I wonder if he's just slipped down to third. There is nothing else I can say to him now. Nothing that will reassure him. How can you reassure somebody about something like this. Another thing that they never put in the slayer handbook.

"Man, would I like to get my hands on her." Even now Riley doesn't get it. He couldn't lay a finger on her if he tried. She would just end up carrying him home again. Easily hurt him worse than the council. And besides, I know I would never let him.

"I don't think she's coming back." I can hear the hurt in my voice and wonder if Riley could even pick up on it if he tried. I made her make a promise and now she's kept it. As she would say, I just have to deal.

"I guess she's had her fun."

"Yeah . . . Fun."

***

Okay, not exactly first class. Not even up to the standard of a Greyhound, but for a truck it's kinda....trucky. Okay I'm sitting in a pile of straw in the back of a rust-bucket heading out of Sunnydale. Man, there's no way I'm ever coming back here. I think we're headed off to LA, which suits me fine. A place where I can loose myself again. Sunnydale's too tight, too close. Everyone knows who you are, what you do, how you feel. And I don't want to know. I've had my fair share of thinking about who I am over this past week. I'm ready to forget. Do a few shitty jobs in a downtown motel....get back into the slaying. I'm not bad but still kinda rusty. And I get the feeling I'm going to run into plenty of the blood-sucker-mother-fuckers in the big city.

EPILOGUE

Notes: Alternating Buffy & Faith point of view. For those of you who felt that 'Never Stopped Thinking About You' ended in the right place with part eight, then don't read on. This Epilogue is the product of too much coffee, wine and long train journeys. Begins with Buffy.

ONE YEAR LATER:

I guess you never really know someone until you have been inside their skin. Don't know just what they are thinking or how they are made to feel. I wonder how it felt for her, to be able to be part of my world, part of my life in a way that she would have never been able to in her own body. I know how it felt for Riley, or at least I think I do. He tried to explain the contempt, the loathing, the shouting and nobody listening. The getting back and finding that his girl had done the dirty on him with his new best enemy. Just the way it would have happened for her. The way it always happened to her. She had taken fate into her own hands and turned it around for a while. She had been a winner for a few days, the mayor had given her that gift again. For a psycho demon snake guy, I can kinda see why she loved him so much.

Sometimes I catch myself thinking about her, when patrol is lonely and I'm on my own, waiting for some bad guy or other to show, I find her voice in my head, talking to me about love and sex and I smile. I've been on the receiving end of Faith's definition of love and sex and I know all about her bravado. And that is the point where I stop myself thinking because it is somewhere I am scared to go. Still. Especially now that I have an actual memory to hurt myself with.

I guess I'm doing it again, walking around here, I know all the names on the tombstones, I feel like I have read them a million times already. Names, dates, In Loving Memories. So I start to think about her and have to justify it to myself all over again. I let her go. True, I had no choice at the time, and to be honest, I'm not sure I would do it any differently this time. She cut somewhere deeper than all of them. She knew me. The chosen two, the life of the slayer. All simplicity for her. I wish it could be the same for me.

***

Now normally, I don't go in for this redemption crap. But since Angel found me in LA with no place to stay, again, and offered me a legit job, well as legit as it gets when you fight demons for a living anyway, I kinda got used to the idea. And this way I can still hear about B, but she doesn't know that I am there. And running away from Sunnydale to forget about myself, well that plan went out of the window quicker than I do in a fight. As Angel pointed out, the whole body swap thing with Riley just didn't make any sense. I mean, I guess it did at first, when I just wanted to hurt B so bad, it really seemed like such a good plan. But I guess the fact that she was the only one who had ever been there for me, the only one who had ever wanted to help me and give me a second chance was always at the back of my mind. And I was happy enough to keep it there. I didn't want to be the one who was to blame. The whole of my life was built upon everyone else screwing up and then blaming everyone else. So that's what I did when I started messing up to. It wasn't my fault that the Scooby gang had a nice wholesome moral outlook like I thought that you only ever really got on the TV. And I can admit it now. I couldn't deal. It was easier to take the evil option and come out the winner than to take a good look at myself and face my demons. Wow, that sounds pretty deep for me huh? Like I said, time with Angel and the whole brooding thoughtfulness is kinda contagious.

So, anyway, then the whammy hits, like it always does. Along with the redemption crap comes the prophecy crap. So here I am on the way to good ole Sunnydale, coz B's got the shock of her life coming. According to some dusty old scroll, B should be walking around a cemetery now, wondering why the Hell it's so damn quiet. Probably humming and thinking of Beefstick. Huh. Now, I'm not too clear on the evil, but from the look on Wesley's face when he was reading all that Latin shit, I'd say it was pretty big. So I'm just itchin' to get there and help her, when I'm told that's the plan. Trusty old greyhound bus, here I come. Saving B's ass again. What can I say? It's what I live for.

***

It's quiet tonight. It's been quiet most nights since Adam, somehow things never quite got back to normal. But tonight is so quiet it's almost spooky. And I don't get spooked easily. I'm the slayer. I wish that she was here with me now. How many times have I said that to myself tonight? Too many. And since I split with Riley, I had far too many patrols on my own. Sometimes Willow and Tara come with me, but they have each other and study to focus on. I see what they've got and wish I had it. There is an absolute trust between them that I always seem to miss out on. Anyway, I've been doing this for years now so I kinda know the drill. Things have been pretty routine, for the Hellmouth that is, and I don't mind it one little bit. I'm the longest surviving slayer ever now, and I'm happy to keep it that way for a while longer yet.

I know she's still alive. So do the council. No other slayer has been called yet, so even they guessed after a while that she didn't die in the fire with their men. The men who were supposed to be the Council's elite, I think Giles said, but she still managed to kick ass. The way she always does. But that doesn't mean that I'm not scared that one day some girl is going to turn up here and there will be a new slayer in town all over again. And that will be the moment that I know that it is too late and I have lost her forever. I'm so starting to depress myself tonight. If no vamps show soon I'm going home. I have better things to do than oommpphhh-

***

Okay, it's one hell of a run from the bus depot to the cemetery, and I'm just hoping that I get the right one. Damn traffic. Now is not the time to be running late. Not now. Gotta keep moving and hope that I'm not too beat when I get there to be of any use. Shit.

That's when I look up and see it there. I use the word it coz there is nothing else to describe it. It kind of looks like a giant turtle. Urrgh...with fangs. Not good. And since when did turtles have eight arms? I am so going to enjoy killing this guy. I wonder where B is. She is supposed to be here so that I can save her ass. I don't fancy handling this thing on my own. This isn't your straightforward run of the mill vamp after all. This was part of the whole prophecy deal that we would have to fight this thing together.

And that's when I see her, pinned under that tail thing of his, the end of it wrapped around her neck. He's bleeding from the stake wounds, but it's going to take more than a piece of wood to kill this fella. I reach into my jacket for the dagger I always carry with me, not unlike the one B used to gut me. But this is a new one with better memories. I'm still running hell for leather and I can see that she's not struggling as much anymore. He must have taken her by surprise like the prophecy said. Shit, I'm not used to these things coming true, at least not when B's involved. I just hope that it doesn't go the whole way. I've come this far and I'm not going to lose her now.

***

Can't breathe. Need to breathe. Need to think. Must fight it, keep going.....

***

The good thing about tombstones is that you can get real height when you use them to jump from. And my guess was that when this thing last went underground there was only one slayer to deal with. Now there's two. What can I say? Things change fast around here. So I'm flying through the air at him, dagger drawn and he's too busy with B that he doesn't realise until he's got something sharp and pointy dragged across his eyes. I don't make mistakes twice. This time I got both of em. Never let them see you coming and never let them see anything ever again. That's the plan and this time it works sweet. I see him drop B as his hands cover his eyes, yep all eight of them, knocking me over in the process. So he knows I'm there but he can't see me. B is lying coughing on the floor, and I know she'll be okay. Part of me is tempted to just lie back and laugh as he waves his arms around wildly, trying to catch me but having no idea where I am.

Instead I just wait until all his arms are open at once and stick the knife into where I think the heart is, slicing it open nicely, listening to the satisfying cry. Death. It's never quiet for me.

***

I feel the arms around me before anything else, before I open my eyes. I realise that I am breathing and so I must be alive. But the last thing I remember is the black. I feel weak and shitty and he must have done some damage because I can feel my whole body tingle. Tiny pinpricks all over me. And that's when I open my eyes and see that wise-ass smile that is just waiting for me to come round so it can be followed by an equally wise-ass comment.

"Faith..."

"Miss me B?" She's laughing at me but she's still holding onto me like she's trying to make up for lost time.

"How did you? Why?" My brain won't work properly for some reason.

"Let's just say I read it somewhere that you would need your ass saving right about now. So here I am. Good job too B. It was pretty close there." Her voice goes serious for a second and I think I can hear concern in her voice. "Come on, lets get you home to beefstick."

"How many times do I have to tell you his name is Riley? And no, we're, erm...not together any more."

"No shit! How come...?" Her voice trails off as she realises the reason why. "Because of me? B, damn I'm sorry, I.."

"Shhh. It's okay. It's been a long time. I'm over it. Did you just say sorry?"

"What can I say? I'm reformed. Well, sort of. It's a long story. Come on then, lets get you home."

"Faith, are you okay?"

"You know me, B. I'm five by five."

The End

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