Gethsemane V - Into the Hands of Sinners
by Snoe
Rating: R

Disclaimer: Buffy, Faith, Willow, Tara and anyone else you recognize from the show belongs to Joss & Co. Everyone else is mine.
Author's Notes: Another part, another tragedy. Yes, I like torturing our favorite slayers, but it's all for their own good. I swear!

She blinked her eyes open and had to think for a second about where she was. Heaving a sigh as the realization set in, she tried to stretch but a heavy weight on top of her body was holding her down. Her eyes wandered down her body to the slim formed stretched out on top of her and she couldn't help but smile. No matter how grave their situation she always found herself smiling at the sight of the other girl. Nudging the body slightly, she yawned before trying to wake the girl verbally.

"Faith," she tried it softly at first, but the brunette gave no response other than her even breathing.

Shaking the girl gently Buffy called her name again, but received no response. She sighed and rested her arm around the brunette's shoulders, knowing that the girl slept deeply most of the time and was hard to wake. Moving to push the body off her, the blonde suddenly felt the other girl shaking, clinging to her body as if she were afraid.

"Faith?" she mumbled, craning her neck to look at the body draped across hers with a questioning look.

But the brunette did not respond to her, her body shaking almost violently instead, her voice crying out in a heartbreaking plea, "No…noooo. No…mom…."

Buffy was starting to worry and pulled out from underneath, turning the girl onto her back and looked at her face. The brunette's eyes were screwed shut tightly, her mouth twisted into something resembling a snarl, but there were tears running down her cheeks. The blonde had seen the girl have nightmares before, but this was a little extreme even for Faith.

"Faith…come on baby, wake up," the older slayer pleaded softly, stroking the girl's dark hair.

A few whimpers escaped the brunette's throat and Buffy pulled the girl into her arms, hoping that something would finally wake up Faith. She started whispering in the girl's ear, begging her to wake up and gently rocking both their bodies back and forth. Faith's body was shuddering, tremors running through her slim form and Buffy couldn't help but feel worried. She was just considering calling a guard to get the doctor, when she felt a cold, clammy hand wrap around her own resting on Faith's stomach. Looking down quickly Buffy found herself staring into the brown eyes of her friend, eyes that were still shedding tears and holding an incredible sadness to them.

"Faith, hun, are you okay?" she asked softly, wiping away the tears and helping the girl sit up to face her.

For just a split-second as they looked into each others eyes Buffy realized there were no boundaries between them; but the moment vanished just as quickly when Faith looked away. The blonde captured the brunette's hands in hers and looked at her until the younger girl met her gaze. Buffy knew what Faith wanted to say, the usual 'five by five' to hide any feelings, and the old Faith would've done exactly that.

"Yeah…I think. Just a nightmare. Sorry if it worried ya, Buffy," Faith explained and looked away again, and maybe, just maybe, Buffy would've believed her, if she hadn't made one tiny mistake: She'd used her whole name. Although the younger girl had started using Buffy's whole name more and more, the blonde knew it was still only for moments that held some seriousness or when Faith was asking for help. And Buffy wasn't going to let it go that easily.

"You wanna talk about it?" the blonde asked softly, looking at the younger girl's tense back, who'd meanwhile sat up and moved to the edge of the bed.

The brunette didn't answer, making barely a sound besides her breathing and Buffy feared for a second that she'd pushed her too far. It'd been obvious to her from the moment they'd met that Faith didn't like to talk about her past, had never mentioned anything about her childhood or her family. And even as they'd lived in captivity, neither slayer had ever approached the subject. Buffy'd figured the brunette would tell her on her own time, but she was getting tired of waiting. Tired of having to watch the other girl suffer through nightmares like this one. She reached out a hand to rest on Faith's shoulder, and even though she knew it was probably a side-effect from the nightmare Buffy couldn't help but feel hurt when the brunette tensed and pulled away.

"Faith…," she tried again, trying to swallow the lump that was steadily building in her throat. It couldn't be like this between them, this distance was killing her.

The brunette stood up, walking away from the bed with crossed arms, her back still to Buffy. Running a hand through her dark hair, Faith turned around halfway and frowned at the blonde, making the tears on her cheeks very visible in the flickering light of the torches.

"It was nothing, really," Faith whispered, swallowing hard and Buffy could tell it wasn't just nothing. There was definitely something wrong and she didn't just want to give up.

"Faith…you were crying out, you kept saying 'no' over and over again and you mentioned your mom. Please tell me what's wrong," Buffy pleaded, trying to meet the brunette's eyes with her, but Faith looked away again.

The younger girl sighed and held a hand to her eyes, "I was dreaming about…about when my parents died, okay?"

Buffy winced at the harsh tone but decided to ignore it and stood up as well, reaching her arms around the other girl's waist. Tensing up, Faith tried to pull away but the blonde refused to let her go and instead just pulled her closer. After a few seconds the brunette's body slumped and Buffy caught her in her arms, holding the younger girl up until she'd managed to maneuver them over to the bed. The blonde pulled Faith onto her lap and held the girl tightly as she started to cry.

"I'm sorry, Faith," Buffy whispered into the girl's ear softly, knowing that Faith wasn't ready to talk about it, yet. But the fact that the brunette had mentioned at least what her dream had been about, in fact sharing a piece of her past that Buffy hadn't even known about, and the blonde realized their bond was just as strong as ever.

Heaving a sigh the older slayer rocked them both to sleep, hoping that one day Faith would be able to share what had happened.

*****

The crowd was gathering around the small, green demon standing on the stage that was used for executions and sometimes other kinds of entertainment. It had been built off to the side of what used to be the marketplace; the woods almost growing around the stage but still a few feet from it. The marketplace was still being rebuilt, slowly, but it was coming together. But today people weren't here to buy groceries and tools; there'd been a call for them to come out to the marketplace and listen to an announcement. While not everyone was too eager to hear what Callas had to say, most times an announcement meant some entertainment or good news for the citizens.

"Citizens of the Ruler's City, hear me as I bring words from your wise and magnificent Ruler! Today, at 4 on this stage, you are welcome to witness the Test of the Slayers; slayer against slayer in a fight with weapons and rules determined by the great Ruler! Come to see what you have been waiting for since the Day of the New Era; our city's most priced possessions in a battle against…each other. Don't miss out on this event of the year!"

Murmurs ran through the crowd, people wondering what Callas was planning, what he was up to and whether anyone was actually going to miss this. The Ruler was probably not the most liked person in the city, the world even, but curiosity always won out with the citizens. And almost all of them had feared or been told to fear the slayers at one point or another in their lifetime; of course no one could pass up seeing the two girls that had scared generations of demons and vampires. Everyone wanted a good look at what hopefully would turn out to be cruel, bloody and brutal. It wasn't much unlike people driving slowly past car crashes to maybe catch a glimpse of someone hurt or in pain.

The announcer stepped off the stage, followed by two guards, to return to Callas and report that the citizens definitely would be there. But more importantly that he had spotted Flavius and Lukas in the crowd along with two other men, and there was no doubt the terrorists would come to the fight to free the Slayers. Callas would be more than pleased.

*****

"Are you serious? He can't do that…and you guys can't go!" she stated simply, shaking her head at the stupidity of some people. It was one thing to fall into a trap once, but twice would be more than just plain idiocy.

"Willow, this is our chance to free the Slayers! There's gonna be guards around, sure, but if we create a distraction in the crowd we can storm the stage from the woods. They'll never know what hit them, we'll take the Slayers and go, no fighting unless necessary and no attack on Callas even if it seems possible," Jabe explained to her while getting out swords and other weapons from one of the weapon boxes.

The redhead sighed and closed her eyes. They'd failed once at freeing Buffy and Faith, because Callas had known about their attack. She didn't know any other reason for Callas to have the two slayers fight, other than to set another trap for the Freedom Fighters. They'd lost a lot of their members during the attack, but there probably had been even more guards killed. Willow really doubted that the Ruler would have desires to entertain the public so shortly after a loss like that. But then again, maybe Jabe was right. Maybe this was their perfect chance to free Buffy and Faith, especially with the woods backing up right to the stage, giving them perfect opportunities to hide if aided by a few spells.

"Fine, but…take only a few good men. Strong ones, no little boys anymore alright? And Tara and I are coming along, you'll need some spells to hide in the woods. Take weapons that can easily be concealed, Callas doesn't allow weapons on his citizens, and for god's sake make sure everyone knows what's going on. Pick your men and make sure they know who's to distract and who's to free the Slayers. We've got a couple of hours; Tara and I will get the spells ready," Willow made clear to him and Jabe nodded with a smile before hurrying off with the weapons in his hands.

She walked out of their little storage niche in the cave back towards the big communal area, but was called back after a few seconds.

"Willow!"

She turned and looked at Jabe, who came jogging back towards her, "Do you think we should take Lukas and Flavius? They seemed pretty strong and sound like they know how to fight."

The redhead considered the statement for a second and then nodded, watching the blonde guy hurry off again. If she was right about a possible trap they would need all the able manpower they could get.

*****

"Where are we going?" the blonde asked him worriedly as he snapped the shackles shut around her wrists and behind her back.

He looked at her quickly, making sure she didn't have enough lee-way to hit him or kick at him, and pulled the brunette over to connect their chains together. They were scared, it was easy to tell and he knew they were probably figuring it was off to another torture session. Vannir wasn't sure how far off from the truth that really was; he didn't completely agree with this planned fight, but after his last little outburst to Callas he wasn't going to risk any more for a while. Not that he hadn't still learned from the experience with the Slayers, but the guard figured he could do them more good by staying employed with the Army Guard and in his position.

"Outdoor Stage," he replied and took the chain that connected them both in his hand, pulling on it gently until they were following him, their heads lowered.

They were walking and therefore, as slaves, talking was absolutely prohibited, but Vannir could feel the questions basically radiating off them. He led them down one of the many hallways in the castle, past a number of guards stationed as security; ever since the terrorist attack security had been heightened to a maximum. Waiting until they were out of reach of any other guards he slowed his step and let the two girls do the same.

"Callas, he's planned for you two to fight, in public. It's a form of entertainment, fights I mean, and maybe he figured a fight including the Slayers would appease the public after the terrorist attacks," Vannir explained and wiped at his skin with the sleeve of his uniform.

"Who are we fighting?" Buffy asked, raising her head just a little to look up as she narrowed her eyes against the blinding sun.

Vannir slowly turned around and looked from one to the other, before answering, "Each other."

Although he didn't miss the terrified, broken looks on both their faces, he chose to ignore them as he led them through the crowd and onto the stage.

*****

He shifted his weight from one foot to the other and looked closely at the crowd around him. There were a lot of people, hundreds probably, and all here to see the fight. It wasn't too often that Callas provided quality entertainment, but he figured that this was more about getting to see the Slayers. Everyone wanted to get a good look at the feared Slayers.

Demons, vampires and some humans were crowded around the stage, the setting sun illuminating the area nicely. The stage had been slightly altered: a large wooden cage had been built around most of the stage so the Slayers would not be able to escape, while a huge throne-like seat was standing off to the side for the Ruler. A couple of guards surrounded the stage from all side, two standing next to the seat to protect the Ruler, and another few mingling with the crowd to get rid of any dissenters. Anticipation was rising quickly, people were anxiously waiting for the Slayers to arrive while little ones complained about not being able to see anything.

Casca turned to look at the new guy, Flavius or something, and nodded at him. They'd been put with the team that was to get the attention of all the guards in the middle of the fight. Jabe would lead his team through the back and get rid off any demon guards possibly still there and free the Slayers, while Willow, Tara and two other witches were casting spells from inside the woods. The only problem was that they were relying on the two Slayers to be able to run, and although Casca knew about their special healing powers, Willow had explained that at least one of them was quite weak. He didn't want to risk them having to go through too much of the fight and face possible injury, but they had to wait until the spells were done to start the distraction. If it came down to it, one Slayer was better than none.

A soft wind had picked up and the breeze was cooling down the hot, sticky air from the afternoon. People were groaning in relief that it wouldn't be too hot for the fight and tried to move up front for a good spot and some fresh air. Suddenly a loud fanfare rang through the marketplace and everyone turned to see the Ruler arrive. Heads were bowed and Casca hated doing the same but there was no other choice; they didn't want to be found out just yet. Callas ascended the stairs and stood in front of his throne, grinning like a fool. Raising his hands he ordered the citizens to stand straight and the crowd gathered watched as four guards walked up to the stage with two slaves in their middle. Everyone was pushing and shoving to get a good look, but the guards were blocking any access and view to the two Slayers.

Finally the guards pulled the two girls up onto the stage and chained them to an opposite corner of the cage, before stepping out of it and locking the door tightly. Two guards walked around the cage to each of the Slayers and unlocked the chains so the two girls were free to move inside the wooden construction. Casca narrowed his eyes and looked at them; he wanted to make sure they really were the Slayers and not just some other slaves meant to con everyone. But the girls standing frightened in their corners looked like the brunette and blonde from Willow's photo, except the skinniness of their bodies and a whole lot of bumps and bruises covering their skin.

He looked at Flavius to indicate that they really were the Slayers and the new guy informed the other members of their distraction team. Callas smiled at the crowd and raised his arms again, ready to address the public. Casca really hoped there wouldn't be another boring speech from the Ruler, but apparently he was spared.

"Dear citizens, I am delighted to present to you…the ones you have been told to fear all your measly lives, the chosen ones that were created to kill and destroy YOU! See the Slayers, see them fight each other and see them destroy each other. I hope this will provide you with rich entertainment for the evening," Callas exclaimed and cheers ran through the crowd; the Ruler knew how to please his people after all.

"Weapons!" the Ruler yelled and two guards brought a large table onto the stage covered by a sheet. They removed the sheet and revealed all sorts of weapons used for all kinds of fighting: swords, daggers, maces and other kinds of medieval weaponry. Callas grinned again and looked over the table as if trying to choose just the right weapon for the Slayers to use, but he finally settled on their own, "Fists. Let the fight begin!"

The two guards pushed the slayers forward in the cage but the two girls only stood there, much to the dismay of the public.

*****

Buffy swallowed hard and braced herself as the guard pushed her into the middle of the cage. She looked at Faith who was standing less than two feet from her, arms hanging at her side. It was one thing for Callas to torture them when they couldn't do anything about it, but there was no way they would fight each other. Too many bad memories were connected to it and Buffy wasn't even sure that she could bring herself to hit the younger girl. She forced the tears back and turned to face Callas and the dozens of people standing around the stage.

"I'm not fighting her!" she yelled, feeling anger burn at the back of her mind and pushing its way forward.

The crowd threw shouts of disapproval at her, but Callas only laughed. The Ruler motioned with his hand and the guard closest to Faith pulled a gun from his holster. He trained it on Faith and unlocked the safety. She didn't want this to happen, she couldn't believe that she hadn't exploded yet from rage. Buffy felt the tears burn their way down her face as Callas walked closer to them.

"Then he will shoot her. You know she has a better chance to survive a fight than a gunshot wound to the head."

Buffy lowered her head and wiped her hand across her eyes in an angry movement. This just wasn't fair, this wasn't right. All she wanted was to be back in Sunnydale when all she had to worry about where some apocalypses a couple of times a year and small-time vamps; when life had still been good. She shook her head and knew that she didn't have a choice but to do this.

"B…just let him do it, please," Faith whispered and the blonde's head snapped up in amazement. What the hell was Faith thinking, just giving up like that? It fueled Buffy's anger and she thought she might have even growled. Callas was not going to win, and she was going to make sure of that. They were not going to die, no matter what it took.

The blonde slayer stepped forward and in the same motion propelled her fist towards the other girl's face. Faith easily blocked the punch, not that it would've hurt her much, but the look in her eyes showed that the gesture had hurt enough. Sighing, Buffy hoped that the brunette would understand why she had to do this and looked into the brown eyes pleadingly.

Faith closed her eyes and nodded slowly, then reciprocated with a jab to the blonde's stomach. Buffy evaded the punch and used the brunette's momentum to flip her onto her back. Stepping back she failed to notice Faith's legs that wrapped around hers and send her crashing to the floor as well. The brunette was straddling her in a second and sent her fist flying towards Buffy's face. The older slayer blocked and flipped Faith onto her back again, then jumped up and waited for the other girl to follow suit.

This was nowhere near a fight, not even close to the way they used to spar and they both knew they'd have to pick up the pace eventually. Faith came at her with punch and Buffy evaded, reconciling with a roundhouse kick to the younger girl's head. The brunette caught Buffy's leg and flipped the blonde in the air but missed the other foot that crashed full force against her ribcage. Landing on her hands the blonde propelled herself up and followed the kick with a right hook to the jaw. Buffy couldn't help but wince as her fist made contact with her friend's face, sending the brunette crashing against the cage.

But Faith got up and ran at the blonde, dodging another hit and getting a punch in at Buffy's stomach. Sucking in air the older girl blocked the next jab, countering with her own that was blocked as well. They exchanged blows and kicks, none of them making any contact except for with hands and arms that were used to block. Neither one was gaining the upper hand, it was more like sparring the way they used to.

"Stop!" Callas finally yelled and the two girls dropped their arms to their side, breathing hard. It'd been a while since they'd any workout, their bodies just weren't used to this anymore.

"Staffs!" the Ruler yelled and a guard threw a wooden staff to each of the two Slayers, before Callas announced the fight to continue again.

Buffy looked at the staff dumbfounded. How long had it been since she'd fought with a staff, she couldn't even really remember if Giles had ever tried to train her with one. Shrugging she gripped it tightly and swung it at the other girl's head, dangerously close to her face. Recuperating, the brunette stepped back and let her own staff sail down at Buffy's head, who barely had time to lift her staff and block the blow. Pushing hard she drove Faith back with a couple of blows that the brunette was able to block, but Buffy eventually got in a good hit at her legs. Sweeping the younger girl's legs out from under her, Buffy kicked the staff away and tightened her hold on hers.

Jumping to her feet the brunette glared at her, but still advanced with a punch that was blocked with the staff. The staff cracked under the punch and Buffy was left with two broken pieces in each one of her hands. She let her guard down momentarily and was greeted with a roundhouse kick that hit her square in the shoulder. Stunned from the blow she was too slow to block the two hands that grabbed her and threw her into the cage.

And now she understood the hurt look she'd seen in Faith's eyes earlier, the pain from the only person you still have in the world going against you. But Buffy knew there was no other way out, maybe she could allow Faith to beat her and make sure the other girl wasn't hurt any more than she already was. Turning her head she looked at the cheering crowd, all those bastards were enjoying themselves way too much. She got up slowly and sighed in despair as Callas ordered the guards to bring them swords.

This was just getting worse.

*****

Casca watched bitterly as the two Slayers attacked each other and fought, although he could see they were holding back. Nevertheless both of them had suffered from blows and he could tell they were tiring. They weren't supposed to tire out that quickly, but Casca knew that without any kind of training for a while even a Slayer was weak. Maybe not as weak as a normal human but all the two had was raw strength, barely any technique was left over.

Callas had just ordered them to use swords and the two girls stood facing each other, both gripping their swords so tightly you could see their knuckles turning white. He looked up into the woods, hoping that the witches were hurrying. Neither of the Slayers had been hurt too badly to be able to run once freed, but he was fearing the worst.

The Freedom Fighter watched as the brunette made a clumsy attempt to swipe at the blonde with her sword, which the other girl dodged easily. Soon enough the sound of metal hitting metal rang through the air and the Slayers were engaged in a fast-paced sword fight. They brought up their swords, swiping at the other, only to have their blow blocked and be pushed back, then be attacked by the other's sword and blocking it themselves. The blonde was lifting her sword to push against the other's blow and turned around, her momentum carrying her forward to take a hit at the brunette's uncovered torso. It had been an easy blow to block but the brunette slayer hesitated, and Casca could do nothing but curse.

He didn't even wait for the blonde's sword to sink into the other girl's side before he alerted his team that it was time. Whether the spells were ready or not.

*****

She would never forget the look in Faith's eyes, the hurtful look she threw at the blonde as Buffy's sword slid easily through her side. Buffy had enough control over her weapon to slow it down as soon as it hit skin but the damage had been done. Faith stared at her in disbelief, then pushed her away as Buffy tried to help her.

"No, not again…please," the blonde breathed and watched drops of blood hit the stage, right before Faith followed suit and dropped to her knees, one hand loosely covering the wound. Buffy moved forward to help her friend, but heard shouts coming from her back, where the crowd had been standing. She turned her head and watched in disbelief as most of the guards rushed to the middle of the crowd, swords and guns drawn. Not being able to see what was going on she turned back to Faith, hoping that no one was going to shoot her in the back.

The shouts were increasing, guards were yelling at people to get down on the ground, drop their weapons, but it was all a blur to her. Faith was hurt, she didn't know how bad and there was only a slim chance that Callas would allow them to stop fighting. Suddenly a shot was fired and her head whipped around, trying to figure out what was going on. Two guards were protecting Callas, who was walking off the stage already. Buffy sighed in relief, maybe there wouldn't be any more fighting going on.

She winced as a body slammed against the side of the cage that faced the woods and gasped as she realized it had been a guard's bloody body. More guards came to the cage and tried to fend off a group of young men that were cutting through the demons ruthlessly. One of the men reached the stage and grabbed the guard's body, banging it repeatedly against the wooden bars until they splintered and he broke through. Glancing behind her again Buffy realized that most guards were still busy with the dissenters in the crowd and hadn't even noticed what was going on meanwhile.

"Come on Slayer, let's go!" the blonde man yelled and grabbed her arm, yanking her away from Faith and towards the hole in the cage.

"No, you can't leave her here!" Buffy yelled, but was pulled off the stage nevertheless, barely missing a sword that came sailing at her head.

"She's hurt, she can't run," the man explained to her while getting ridding of the guard that had almost ended her life and turned to look at his companions. There were a couple of other men with swords and weapons around to fight off the guards.

"I'm not leaving without her!" she screamed at him, and yanked her arm away from his grasp. He was leading her into the woods, and even if this were her way to go back to her old life she would never leave her friend behind.

The blonde guy grunted and grabbed the arm of another fighter, "Lukas, see if you can get the brunette Slayer, she's hurt. Get someone to help you, carry her if you have to. Just hurry up, we need to fall back."

Turning back to her, he grabbed her arm again and dragged Buffy into the woods, "They'll get her and bring her to our headquarters. Just come along, we don't have enough time to stand and chat."

Buffy hesitated, she didn't trust them. But the guards had seemed pretty much defeated, save for the ones putting down the dissenters that hadn't noticed yet and she figured two of the strong fighters could help Faith. Despite what her heart was telling her she broke into a run and followed the blonde man into the woods.

*****

The redhead was pushing through the masses of people standing around like idiots blocking her way. She'd gotten news from one of the last fighters to return from the attack that the Slayers had been freed successfully and wanted nothing more to see if it was true. To see her best friend again.

The big communal cave where everyone slept was busy with people celebrating their victory and fighters boosting about their actions. Willow couldn't have cared less. She continued to fight through the bodies towards the middle and finally broke through. Her heart seemed to stop for a few seconds and she stepped forward and eyed the blonde sitting with her back to Willow. The body of the girl was skinny, pretty much nothing but skin and bones and there was blood on her clothes.

"B…Buffy?" she asked softly and watched as the girl turned around slowly.

And for the first time in two years the witch looked into the eyes of her best friend. A small sob escaped her lips as she wrapped her arms around the blonde's body and held her tightly.

"Willow…oh my god," Buffy whispered and let her own tears run down her face. And for the first time in two years they were tears of joy.

The redhead pulled back, still not taking her hands off Buffy's shoulders and smiled at her friend, "I can't believe it. I thought I was never going to see you again. I missed you so much, Buffy."

Buffy could do nothing but laugh, a laughter that sounded like sobs all the same, and their arms found their way around each other once again. They stayed like that for several minutes, basking in the presence of each other, until Willow finally pulled away.

The witch looked around, but besides the familiar faces of the Freedom Fighter members she didn't see anyone, "Where's Faith?"

A clouded look crossed the blonde's eyes and she shrugged, mumbling something about a blonde guy telling her someone else was getting her. Willow narrowed her eyes, then called Jabe over who was helping bandage up a fighter's injured arm. Pulling him closer to the two girls, she noticed how tired he seemed.

"Jabe…where's the other slayer?" She'd learned that the names of the two girls just didn't stick with anyone and they always used Slayer to refer to her friends. As much as it bothered her, if she wanted quick information about the slayers she had to refer to them as such.

"Lukas, he was supposed to get her," the blonde guy shrugged and looked around to find the new fighter. He came back a couple of seconds later with the dark-haired man they'd freed just nights earlier. Willow looked at him, seeing blood covering a large part of his clothes and wondered if it even was his.

"Lukas, where's the other slayer?" Jabe asked the man the same question he'd been asked minutes earlier and the man looked away nervously.

"What," Buffy asked, her voice becoming very soft and tiny, "please don't tell me that she's not here."

Lukas cleared his throat, running a dirty hand through his hair and looked from Willow to the Slayer, "I was fighting this guard and uh…when I finally defeated him I went to the Slayer. She was injured badly, she couldn't walk and was near unconsciousness. So I picked her up and tried to leave but three or four guards came at me and I couldn't fight them off without my hands free. I put her on the ground and fought, but by the time I had killed the demons she was…gone. A guard must have…taken her back. I'm really sorry."

For a split-second Willow thought the blonde slayer was going to jump at the man and rip out his throat, but as soon as the dangerous look in her eyes had appeared, it vanished. Instead a blankness entered Buffy's stare as she sunk to the floor.

"No…oh god no," was all Willow could hear her friend whisper and was next to her immediately, trying to comfort the girl.

But Willow knew as well as Buffy that the chance of them getting Faith out of the castle now was slim.

*****

"You goddamn idiots! What did I do to deserve this!" Callas raged and a chair went crashing into a nearby wall.

"Majesty, we had not been expecting the fight in the crowd, there were armed citizens trying to create chaos," a guard tried to defend their action.

Callas walked up to him, his face close to the guards as he replied, "That was a fucking distraction, you brainless maggot. They got a Slayer, and if it hadn't been for Lukas they'd have both. If he hadn't reacted quickly and 'freed' the Slayer to hand her over to the guards some other fighter might have taken her. Where would we be then, huh?"

The guard shuddered and stepped back, but the Ruler's fist smashing into the side of his face broke any bones he had in his head and he collapsed to the floor.

"I want my Slayer back! I don't care what it takes; if I have to torture the other one in public. Get me my magistrates!"

The guards scattered and practically ran. Callas was in a worse mood than anyone had ever seen him, and no one wanted a fate similar to the other guard's. All hell had just broken lose.

*****

She sat nervously on the chair, her eyes never leaving the light, wooden door that led to the bedroom. The feeling deep in the pit of her stomach was telling her to go and throw up until there was nothing left in her stomach and then cry until she ran out of tears. She'd lost Faith…literally and metaphorically.

Buffy rested her forehead in her hands, the tears still wouldn't stop. She couldn't believe what had happened; couldn't believe that she'd left Faith to fend for herself. If injuring her hadn't been bad enough, this definitely was. As long as the brunette was okay Buffy would feel a little better, even if she was never forgiven for what she had done. She never should've gone with that Jabe guy, should've gotten Faith herself.

Sighing, she wondered how she was even able to sleep at a time like this. Although this was her chance to see Faith, sleep just hadn't really been an option. Buffy was sure Willow and her spell casting abilities had something to do with it, if not all. But she'd been here for almost half an hour now, and time in the dream-world went by faster anyway.

Maybe it was time to give up, to accept that either her friend was dead or wasn't going to be here. Buffy looked up as she heard the door open and walked a few steps closer. The door opened and the blonde held her breath, waiting until it was fully opened and the brunette girl stepped through.

Faith looked up at her, tears in her own eyes and was in Buffy's arms within a second. The blonde tightened her hold on the younger girl and let a sob escape her lips. They cried in each other's arms until one of them finally found the strength to speak again.

"Faith…baby, I'm so sorry," Buffy whispered, but her voice broke even then.

The brunette's body shook with sobs as well and she pulled away slightly, looking up Buffy with the saddest eyes the blonde had ever seen.

"Buffy…can you do something for me?" Faith's voice was sturdy but quiet, and Buffy could do nothing but nod softly.

"Can…can you find the…new Slayer and…," the younger girl started, but was cut off by Buffy who grabbed her arms tightly.

"Faith! You're not going to die!" Buffy almost yelled and felt tears sting her eyes once more as Faith looked away and she realized what the girl was talking about.

"You can't do that, you can't kill yourself!" she added and was near panicking. She couldn't lose the other girl, it'd kill her as well.

"Buffy, it'd be better that way. You can find her and you can kill Callas together," Faith offered, her eyes holding something resembling hope. But Buffy wasn't going to let this happen, not as long as she was alive and she planned on living for a while.

"No Faith," she shook her head vehemently, "I will not let you die. I will get you out of there and we will be free together."

The brunette seemed to think about objecting, but then stopped and looked to the floor. After a few seconds she looked at the blonde with a blank look in her eyes, "You will rescue me?"

The girl's voice was so small even Buffy had a hard time hearing it, but she did and nodded, "Yeah. I promise."

Looking at Buffy pleadingly Faith loosened her hold on the blonde, "You promised you wouldn't lie to me, Buffy."

Closing her eyes the blonde nodded and pulled the girl closer to her, remembering the moment they had shared back then.

"I'm not."

Faith smiled at her before wrapping her arms around Buffy once again and they stood in the middle of the apartment in each other's embrace. The blonde sighed and hoped to god that she would be able to keep her promise. Both of them.

...continued in Gethsemane VI - Memento Mori...

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