Gethsemane VII - Do Not Love The World
by Snoe
Rating: R

Disclaimer: I don't own anything or anyone you recognize from the show, Buffy, Willow and Tara belong to UPN (and how weird does it feel to say that?) Everyone else is mine.
Author's Notes: The terror continues. However, I suck at romance so bear with me for the parts in this chapter that should've been such. Oh and for anyone uh, with a weak stomach, maybe you wanna skip past the part about Faith's past…if you really wanna know what happened to her parents, know this: They're dead.

The redhead looked down at the sleeping girl at her feet. She wasn't even sure if one could call it sleep; Faith was writhing and whimpering and Willow didn't know if she was having a nightmare or remembering what had happened. She sighed and stepped over the dozens of other blankets people had spread on the floor for themselves to claim a sleeping spot. The blanket she'd gotten for Faith was close to the fire; the girl'd been so cold Willow had been afraid she might get hypothermia or something similar.

Walking to the edge of the cave that had a sort of walkway without any blankets she looked around. A lot of the blankets had sleeping bodies on them now, only a few people still sat up and talked or were doing other things. There were a few fighters they'd stationed as guards walking around and a couple of witches that were discussing a new spell. Willow wasn't sure if she understood them anymore, the carelessness they possessed in a world like this. In a world where someone like Faith was left all alone; alone, no matter how many friends she could ever make.

Willow sighed and decided that maybe sleep was a good idea; she'd tired herself out from all the spells they'd performed earlier. She walked around the walkway towards where her and Tara's blankets lay and was just about to step across the blankets to the outer side when she heard her girlfriend's worried voice. Spinning around she looked into Tara's eyes as the girl stopped in front of her, panting heavily.

"Will…you have to see this…we need your help. Hurry!"

It didn't even take her a second to realize what was going on and she followed the blonde witch to one of the side rooms they used for healing as fast as humanly possible. As she reached the smaller cave she panted, looking at the five other witches sitting in a circle around a shrouded body. A few candles were illuminating the cave, but some were set in a pentagram around the body. She looked at each one of the witches in turn, their clasped hands and their continuous chanting and didn't even think twice as she squeezed in between them along with Tara, joining the chant.

*****

Faith sat on the barstool alone. She was swiveling, her head looking down at the tiled floor. The apartment had never felt this cold and somehow she knew it wasn't because it was raining outside or because the heater wasn't on. She looked up and at the wide-open bedroom door. There was no one there and no one going to be there ever again.

Forcing the tears back she shook her head and jumped off the chair. The apartment was quiet, there was no comforting coffee smell this morning and no warm smiles. She hadn't even known how much she loved waking up here with someone she cared about until it had been ripped from her grasp. Well, she was still waking up…but alone. Without the person she cared about.

In fact, the only person she had cared about. Sure, Willow and Tara said they were her friends and she saw them as such…it just wasn't the same. All those Freedom Fighters, they could be the nicest people she'd ever met…and even if you put them all together they couldn't measure up to that one person. No one could ever measure up to Buffy.

Letting the tears roll down her face at last, Faith turned to rest her arms on the counter, then buried her head in her arms and sobbed.

*****

"Majesty, Lukas is still gathering the ingredients needed for the spell. He has asked me to inform you that he will need at least until tonight to start the spell," the guard said grimly and looked at the Ruler with a hint of fear in his eyes.

Callas was getting even more vicious, if that was actually possible. Guards were scared to answer him to a question, in the fear that it might be bad news. But he was lucky: Callas only growled and walked around the large table to pick up a cup with weird symbols carved into it. The vampire looked at the cup intently, as if he were looking for something specific then gazed at the guard.

"Tell him to hurry it up, we don't have all the time in the world."

The guard nodded, bowed and left before he could be subjected to the Ruler's wrath. Callas brought the cup to his lips and let the warm blood ooze over his tongue and down his throat. He could feel his body responding by demanding more, tingling all throughout from the power of the liquid.

Callas drained the cup and set it back on the table, shaking his head. Slayer blood; he definitely had to get more of it.

*****

There was a hand on her face, fingers caressing her skin gently, until it came to rest on her arm, shaking her softly. The touch was warm, burning through her cold skin and she felt herself pulled from the darkness that was the dream-world. Groaning she turned her head and tried to open her eyes to see who was daring to wake her up just when she'd been able to endure a dreamless sleep. Her eyelids felt heavy and she could tell her eyes must be swollen, but not enough for her not to try and open them again.

The girl blinked, her vision slightly blurry but it was adjusting quickly and she tried to remember where the hell she was. She could feel, hear and slightly see a whole bunch of people sleeping or talking nearby. Trying to look around she thought back to how she'd woken up and turned her head to her right where the owner of the hand would've been.

Faith's eyes widened as she looked at the person kneeling next to her and tried to move away. She squirmed but the hand was still holding onto her arm and the brunette didn't have a choice but to stay still. She was dreaming again, she knew it. And she wasn't sure if this would be a nightmare or a good dream. Swallowing hard she locked her eyes with hazel ones and raised her hand to touch the other person.

"B…Buffy?" she actually managed to choke out, her fingers tracing shaky patterns across tear-stained cheeks.

"Hey baby," the blonde girl answered softly and smiled, the fire reflecting in the tears running down her cheeks, making her seem to sparkle.

Faith sat up immediately, her hand never leaving Buffy's cheek to make sure she didn't vanish in the meantime. They both looked at each other, tears grazing their faces and neither of them spoke. She didn't want to believe this was real; if it were nothing but a dream it'd hurt so much more to wake up and realize Buffy was really dead.

"This isn't a dream, Faith," Buffy smiled, as if she'd read the brunette's thoughts and the younger girl looked at her skeptically.

"They said you were dead," Faith whispered, closing her eyes at the memory of the pain.

"Uh, actually," someone else answered and both girls looked up at the redheaded witch who stood behind Buffy next to Tara, "when they brought her in she wasn't breathing, but we revived her. We tried all the healing spells we knew, for hours and I didn't think they'd worked. When you woke up it didn't look good, no one was expecting her to recover."

Faith looked back at Buffy, who'd meanwhile taken the brunette's hands in hers, and let a few more tears escape her eyes before she turned her eyes up at Willow, "You lied to me."

A frown fell across the redhead's face and she quickly shook her head, "I never did say she was dead; but heck she was so close to it…no one would have ever survived. I didn't want you to get your hopes about something impossible."

Closing her eyes the brunette looked down and squeezed Buffy's hands tightly, "You came back."

Buffy pulled one hand from the brunette's grasp and lifted Faith's chin up so they could lock eyes, before she smiled softly, "For you. I promised you I'd never leave you alone and I don't break my promises."

The brunette laughed softly and leaned forward to tackle the older slayer in a tight hug. The blonde's body felt real and warm in her arms and the fact that Buffy was hugging her back erased just a little bit more of that doubt in the back of her mind that said she'd lost another person she cared about. Buffy fell back onto the blankets, not being able to support Faith's weight any longer due to her weakened state and looked up at her best friend with a soft smile. Although she didn't speak out loud, Willow could hear what Buffy was saying and responded with a smile of her own.

"You don't need to thank us, you're the one that did this," she stated and grabbed Tara's hand in hers, feeling the tight band of fear across her chest loosen and eventually slip away, "but you need to rest and get back to full strength. Come on, I found an empty spot over at the other side of the fire."

The witch held out her hand to the slayer and helped her up, the smile never leaving her face. She watched as Buffy leaned over the brunette, kissing her on the forehead before whispering a soft 'goodnight' and stood up to follow the witches. Willow shook her head and hoped that her little plan worked out, after all she was sick of them wasting time by not knowing what was really going on. After she'd brought Buffy to her blanket Willow sat down next to her girlfriend and kissed Tara gently for a few seconds before breaking away.

"You think it'll work?" the blonde girl asked quietly as she laid down and opened her arms for her lover.

"Hmm…I sure hope so."

*****

Faith stared at the ceiling of the cave, the dark grooves and edges of the stone. No matter how tired she might've been, sleep wouldn't come and was in fact nowhere on her mind. She had Buffy back, she wasn't alone anymore. But the insecurities had already come to the surface and taken a hold of her. What if Buffy didn't want to be around her, now that she didn't have to be? All those months in the dungeons together, neither one had had a choice to be around the other, but in freedom Buffy could get as far from Faith as possible. The blonde didn't need her anymore; she had her best friend back. Closing her eyes to shut out the nagging little voice in the back of her head was all she could do to stop the tears from coming.

Her eyes shot open as she felt someone stand next to her and Faith looked up at the blonde girl standing above her with a crooked smile. Narrowing her eyes she sat up and gave a questioning stare at Buffy, who only shrugged her shoulders. The girl was holding a blanket in her hand, looking like a forlorn little child.

"Uh…I couldn't sleep? Oh and some little five year old kept pestering me about every five seconds, I swear someone must've put him up to it. I was…uh wondering if you'd mind if I slept here?" the blonde asked quietly, a shy smile playing on her lips and Faith couldn't help but laugh.

The brunette held out her hand and pulled the other girl down next to her with a contented sigh. Buffy dropped down next to Faith and threw the blanket she'd been holding at her friend, who could only grunt something in response to the action and push the blanket away.

"So, this is what freedom feels like, huh?" Faith broke the comfortable silence between them after a few minutes of them smiling at each other like buffoons.

Buffy nodded slowly and lay down on the blanket, pulling the brunette into her arms. Faith shifted slightly, reaching for the blonde's blanket to drape it halfway across both their bodies and snuggled deeper into the arms holding her. She didn't want to bring up bad memories, but the little voice had come back, less than before but it was still there.

"Are you…are you gonna leave me now…that we're free?" the brunette asked softly, not believing she'd actually spoken those words and felt Buffy stiffen behind her. Oh, she'd known it.

"Faith…why would you even think that? I know it wasn't really our choice to be around each other for the past years but…if I'd had the choice I would've still been with you. I'm not going to leave you, ever, and you better get that into your thick skull. You won't get rid off me that easily…sorry babe," Buffy responded quietly at first but then her voice eventually led off into a soft smile as she tightened her hold on the younger girl. She felt Faith relax, slightly only, and realized there was definitely more to this.

"People…leave me…I know they don't mean to, but…people I care about all leave me," Faith whispered and the blonde could hear the tears on her voice.

"You mean like your parents?"

The brunette nodded slowly and turned around Buffy's arms to look at her with teary eyes. Pulling the girl closer to her, the blonde ran a hand through dark hair, trying to make Faith feel better, or maybe just trying to calm herself.

"You…do you still wanna know what happened to them?"

Buffy looked at her, her eyes widened slightly, knowing how much the memory always seemed to hurt the younger girl. She had been hoping for the day that Faith would be ready to tell her, but she definitely didn't want to force her into this.

"Faith…I want to know everything about you…but if you're not ready yet, I will wait," she said softly, hoping to convey exactly what she was feeling by looking into those warm, brown eyes.

The brunette nodded, wiping some tears from her eyes and mumbled that she was ready and wanted Buffy to know. Tightening her hold on the younger girl, Buffy nodded as well and let her know to go on.

"I'd just turned 13, my parents had dropped me off at a friend's to spend the night since they were going to some charity thing and Southie isn't the best place for young girls to stay home alone. I didn't know exactly when they'd be back, but my friend dropped me off at my house the next night…

*****

The young girl unlocked the door to her house and turned to wave good-bye to her friend. She was more than exhausted; staying up almost all-night watching bad movies, eating ice-cream and talking about boys had tired her out more than she'd first thought. Pushing the door open, the brunette stepped inside and dropped her backpack on the floor, quickly locking the door again.

"Mom? Dad? Are you home yet?" she called out, walking into the living room that was as dark as the rest of the house. She shrugged, figuring her parents had decided to stay away another night, knowing she'd be just fine no matter how much her parents worried.

She walked into the kitchen to find anything edible in the fridge and stopped as she heard soft, classical music coming from the speakers in the living room. Walking up to the stereo she realized that someone had turned the speakers on the patio on and just turned down the inside speakers, so instead of finding food she figured she'd say hi to her parents first, since they apparently were home after all.

The dining room was just as dark, but light from a few candles sitting outside on the patio table threw shadows through the glass doors and into the room. The girl looked through the doors, and could only barely make out the candles and a bottle of wine sitting on the table, next to two wine glasses. Two chairs were turned towards the table, their back to the door and she walked through the dining room to open the doors.

The glass doors were dirty and heavy, not allowing her much vision, and she groaned as the handle almost broke off again from her trying to pull the door open. Her dad had been promising to fix the door for ages now; it still hadn't happened. Finally the door reluctantly pulled open, allowing her to at least look through the small opening. But instead of the fresh night air greeting her, a cloud of smoke and the smell of something burning greeted her and she had to pull back to stop her stomach from reacting violently.

Figuring their neighbor had failed at another barbecue session she stepped outside onto the patio. The music was louder here, surrounding her with its soft tones and she yawned as she remembered how tired she was. Stepping up to the two chairs she quickly wondered why her parents weren't engaged in conversation, but then remembered countless times her parents had enjoyed reading outside at night with no words spoken between them.

"Mom?" she asked quietly, her voice cutting through the music as she stepped closer to the two chairs.

The girl reached out and put her hand on the back of the chair, walking around it to look at her mother's face. The scream stuck in her throat as she stumbled back, her eyes wide with shock. As she stepped back she accidentally struck the other chair and it swiveled around to face her. She stared at the two bodies sitting in the chairs, staring at her with gaping black holes, that she wasn't even sure were there. Her stomach revolted, wanting to get rid off any food she might've eaten in the past 13 years and the girl brought a hand to her mouth. The body that had been her dad sat in his chair, stiff as if he'd been molded into the position, a horrified scream caught in his opened mouth. Every inch of his skin was burned completely black, along with the few scraps of cloth still hanging off his body. His hands were clutching the armrest tightly, and a few teeth that had broken loose from the charcoaled jaw had landed on his lap. Only smoldered strands of hair were sticking to his head and the eyeballs had completely burnt away.

She turned her head away in disgust, only to be greeted with the same sight of her mother's corpse staring back at her. Never before would she have believed that someone with no eyeballs could stare at you, but she did now. Her mother's face still looked exactly like her, except for having been burnt to the bone. Remains of the long brown hair were sticking out of the black skull and the jaw had completely fallen off already. The woman was still wearing the clothes she'd left in last night, except that the nylon dress had melted to her body and was now just as black as the rest of the corpse. As the girl's eyes wandered to her mom's hands despite her will, she noticed the index finger missing from the woman's right hand.

Breathing deeply but coughing at the smoke that entered her lungs, she stepped back. Panicking wasn't an option but she couldn't help it. Her mind was blank, there was no smarts left to tell her what to do. As she looked down to the painted-white floorboards of the patio, she saw the writing on the ground for the first time. "Revenge is sweet. Now you can't point the finger of blame at anyone ever again!" The writer seemed to have used charcoal to leave the message and then it dawned on the girl. Blinking the tears out of her eyes, she stared at the single finger lying next to the writing, just as charred black as the rest of the bodies, but she could still recognize her mother's well-groomed nail.

Dropping to her knees the girl emptied her stomach, while tears burnt their way down her cheeks. It took her minutes to finally call 911.

*****

"They…the police caught the guy eventually. He…was my mom's ex. She'd broken up with him long before I'd been born and stood as a witness against him in his drug trial or something. He'd just gotten out and…he wanted revenge. He pled guilty and everything, he didn't even care. He said he'd taken them before they ever reached the event and…and…did that…the fire stuff…he burnt them on a field somewhere and brought them back home so I'd find them. I…I…," Faith's voice trailed off and her body starting shaking from helpless sobs.

Buffy swallowed the tears, anger and bile that threatened to rise in her throat and pulled the brunette girl closer to her. She couldn't even begin to believe this, couldn't try to understand the pain in the younger girl's heart. This wasn't anywhere near what she'd expected, nothing could've prepared her for this. But she also knew that the other girl didn't want pity, and although Buffy wasn't feeling that way she wanted to make sure the brunette knew so as well.

"Faith…oh my god…I…," she started, not knowing where to go from there at all. She was at a loss for words.

"This makes me even gladder that you're here with me," she finally whispered, looking at the brown eyes for a reaction.

"What…why?"

"Because I know I could've never lived through that. You did and you're here, with me. You're strong, you're a survivor and I know that you'll always pull through. I'm not afraid to say I need you, because you're truly the strength in my life."

Faith looked at her, confused for a few seconds and narrowed her eyes, "What do you mean you need me?"

"I, Buffy, need you, Faith. When you were locked up by yourself I thought I was going to die. It felt like someone had tied a rope around my heart and was pulling with the strength of a vampire. I need you to complete me, Faith. And somehow I think you know exactly what I'm talking about," Buffy said intently, her eyes never leaving Faith's. She could read the fear and confusion on the other girl's face, but she wasn't just going to let go. She'd had enough time to think about this by herself, and then Willow's resolve-face earlier as she made the blonde promise to finally get stuff out in the open.

"Buffy…you…I felt like I was going to shatter into a thousand pieces last night without you. And I've never felt so alone as when I thought you were dead. And I knew that no matter how many friends I could ever make…not a single person could ever come close to what you mean to me. I don't think I could lose you, I've lost too much…and I need you too much," the brunette whispered back, tears springing to her eyes that Buffy wanted to desperately wipe away.

"Faith…I…I love you," the blonde spoke so softly only another slayer could've heard and closed her eyes as her own tears spilled down her cheeks.

"R…really?" came the even smaller voice from the other girl and the blonde opened her eyes again, then smiled.

"Really, really."

A soft chuckle escaped the brunette's lips, before she looked at Buffy seriously again, "I love you, too Buffy."

Buffy smiled, looking into the brown eyes of the girl she loved, and found herself leaning forward. Her arms were still around Faith, but one of them moved up the girl's back and around her neck. Their eyes locked right before their lips touched.

Pulling the brunette's head closer to her gently Buffy closed her eyes, the feeling of Faith's lips on hers sending waves of electricity cursing through her body. Only seconds later their kiss deepened and each allowed to other complete access to their mind, body and soul.

And if the two slayers hadn't been so caught up in each other they would've seen the high-five and triumphant smile a redheaded witch was sharing with a blonde girl.

*****

He exhaled deeply and bowed. The candles around him extinguished and he stood, shakily at first, but he quickly steadied himself and stepped out of the chalk-circle on the stone floor. Looking up at the vampire standing off to the side of the room, surrounded by a guard and two magistrates he smiled.

"The spell's been done, the wall been broken."

Callas nodded and smiled back, walking up to the man standing slightly off the side of the magical circle, "Well done Lukas. You shall receive remuneration as soon as you let me know where the cave is."

Chuckling, the spy nodded, wiping his hands on a towel and looked at the Ruler and anxious guard. Heaving a sigh he walked to the end of the room, running his hands over the metal case on the table that he knew held his money. He turned after a few seconds, leaning against the table and crossed his arms.

"The cave is deep in the woods; pass the outdoor stage and continue on straight. You will eventually reach a small path. Turn right onto that path and follow it, it will lead you to a group of hills. The cave entrance is in the big, middle hill, but this time you should be able to see the entrance clearly. They sometimes station fighters there as guards but you will have no problem defeating them. There's a big cave inside that holds all the members and from the big cave there's corridors leading to all kinds of different, smaller caves. They'll be so surprised they won't have a chance to get ready to fight back."

Callas nodded at him and walked out the door, followed by his guard. Before he vanished from the room the vampire motioned for the magistrates to hand over the metal case. Lukas took the case from the magistrate and headed out the door with a smile. Now he just had to make sure to be gone by the time Callas returned and wanted his money back.

*****

Faith rested her head on the other girl's chest and let her hand grasp the blonde's tightly in hers. Another hand started playing with her hair and she looked up at the girl above her with a smile. Buffy smiled back and pulled her up some to better look into her eyes.

"You know," the brunette started, thinking for a second, "this is definitely one of the best birthdays I've had."

The blonde's eyes widened for a few seconds and she opened her mouth in shock, "Oh my god, it's your birthday and I didn't get you anything!"

Faith chuckled and propped herself up on her elbows, "Yeah, you did."

Buffy narrowed her eyes, looking at the girl confused and finally asked, "I did?"

Laughing softly the younger girl leaned closer to the blonde and gave her a quick kiss on the lips. "Yeah. I got you, don't I?"

Grinning as well now, Buffy chuckled and pulled the brunette's head down to her, "That you do. Happy Birthday Faith."

She didn’t even allow the younger slayer time to respond before she'd pulled her down and they were engaged in a gentle kiss. But they broke apart just as quickly as they heard shouts and panicked screams. Both of them looked at each other in confusion when suddenly gun shots rang through the cave and the two slayers jumped up. Looking around worriedly they saw members of the group lying on the floor, clutching bleeding wounds and finally their eyes fell upon the guards marching right into their supposedly hidden cave, followed closely by a grinning Callas.

"Oh shit," was all either one could think of saying at that moment.

*****

Callas walked into the cave, following his guards that were beheading stupid Freedom Fighters right and left. Some of them tried to fight back, but there had been no time for any of them to get weapons of any sort. They were helpless little flies and it made his step bounce with joy.

They finally entered the large cave Lukas had described and looked around. There was probably more than a hundred people, most of them sleeping on blankets that were situated in a big circle around a central fire. Some of them jumped as they heard the screams and shouts, but his guards were already filling bodies with lead. The shots echoed in the large cave and it sent the fighters scurrying about in a frenzied search for weapons. He looked around carefully; sure all these people back in his dungeons would definitely be nice, but all Callas really cared for were the Slayers.

And then he finally saw them. The brunette and the blonde were already up and running towards the back of the cave, where they met up with another blonde and a redheaded girl. They were looking around and spotted him, and instead of the fear he'd figured to see in their eyes there was nothing but pure hatred and malice. Callas swallowed, knowing it had been way past stupid to lose two vampire slayers, probably the only ones in the whole world strong enough to kill him.

"Fuck, fuck…get me the goddamn slayers!" he yelled and pointed at them.

Immediately a group of guards chased after the girls, who were already vanishing in one of the side-tunnels. Losing sight of his guards as well Callas cursed and reached out with his hand to grab the arm of a young girl running from his demons. He stared at her teary eyes distastefully and shuddered for a moment at the thought of what he was about to do. Nevertheless, the Ruler lifted the girl up to him and sunk his fangs into her neck. He needed a drink and the times to be picky had just ended a minute ago.

*****

"Where are we going Will?" Buffy breathed heavily, turning her head to see the guards still running after them at a swift pace.

"There's an escape route, a small opening to the outside. I hope they won't fit," the redhead answered and kept running without looking at the others.

"What about the others?" the blonde slayer added to her list of questions and this time her best friend turned around.

"The time to care for anyone but ourselves is over. We have to hurry."

Looking at Faith the blonde swallowed and started running faster. There was still a tight, stretchy feeling in her chest that she absolutely didn't like, but besides that she was feeling better than she had in two years. And not to mention Faith seemed back to pretty much full strength; maybe they finally had a chance.

Suddenly a bullet zipped past her head and a small yelp escaped her lips. No time for pummeling annoying guards, she knew that, but that didn't mean her slayer instincts weren't telling her to run in the other direction. Willow finally stopped and pointed at a tiny hole in the wall, receiving skeptical glances from everyone.

"Come on, we don't have time to complain. Just get in…the tunnel leads to a lake outside, we can swim to the shore and hide with some friends of ours."

The two slayers looked at each other then at the hole reluctantly, but as they heard the shouts behind them, followed by another couple of shots that barely missed them, they both crawled into the tunnel behind Willow and Tara. Now they just had to hope that those damn guards didn't fit, and that they'd wasted all their bullets before reaching the tunnel. Not to mention pray that there wouldn't be any nasty underwater critters if they reached the lake intact.

...continued in Gethsemane VIII - Pour Some Sugar on Me...

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