Kill the Pain

by Philister

Part 1

Looking out of the window onto the city that spreads out before you, you feel the pain once more. Let’s be honest, pain is just about all you feel these days. A deep, mind-numbing pain that has spread through every part of your body, has infected every cell and drop of blood. A constant aching, a longing for something that you will never, ever have again.

It’s been five months since a man went to Hell, sent there at the hands of the girl he loved.

Two months ago you got a taste of your own. A brief visit to a place called Hell, a relatively quiet corner of an endless dimension of tortures. It was like the gods wanted you to know what your lover is undergoing even now. Wanted you to receive the tiniest taste of what he will have to undergo for the rest of eternity.

Then they did the worst. They let you go again.

These days you move through life like a robot. Eating, working, sleeping, dreaming, but barely a conscious thought behind it all. Because all that you are, or rather were, has been erased by the pain. Whenever you close your eyes you sees his face, those eyes that beheld you with so much love and concern, not a clue to the crimes someone with those same eyes had committed against you and your friends, your family.

“Close your eyes!” You whisper over and over again, seeing his face as he does what you ask, only to suffer the ultimate betrayal as you drive the sword into his body.

His face, a mask of pain and confusion. His eyes, full of the need to know. Why? Why have you done this to him? Why have you killed him?

As you cry yourself to sleep there is no answer that will make the pain go away.

Days and weeks go by and you can’t go home. For a moment you toyed with the thought. Maybe seeing your friends and family again would help you deal. Help you get rid of the pain. You know better, though. They won’t understand. They won’t understand why you feel so much pain, so much guilt.

They weren’t there. They didn’t have to kill him. Like you did.

As sleep begins to overtake you, you know that your new friend will be there. I am always there, your friend. Have been ever since the dreams stopped. The dreams about him. In which he came and you walked together in the sun, kissed in the day’s warm embrace.

The dreams are gone. Your friend is here.

“Make it go away!” You whisper to me in your sleep. Your friend hears and understands. I know what you need to kill the pain. To make it go away for the brief moments. I beckon for you to follow and like in a trance you rise off your bed to join me.

You and me, we walk into your closet and dress for the night. Dress like he did, the way you remember him. Because memories are all you have. Memories and me. All you’ll ever need.

We dress alike, like he did. Black leather pants, tight like a second skin. Like his skin, dressing ourselves in his remains. Shirts the color of night, long black dusters allowing us to blend into the shadows. You want no part of the human world anymore. It will only hurt you. Let it into your heart again and it will only hurt you all over again. Better to block it out, keep it away with a layer of dead blackness.

Dressed in the dark skin of your lover, black leather encasing us like a protective embrace. Dark like your hair, colored a dark brown to match mine. You want to look nothing like the old girl, the girl that had to grow up so fast, the girl that died the day it had to drive a sword into the unbeating heart of the man she loved.

You’re a woman now, and all you have left is that face in the mirror, the face you no longer want to see. So you change yourself, allow me to change you, make you more like me. Dark. Detached. Impossible to hurt.

Add the weapons of our trade, stakes and blades, the thing we do better than anyone else in the world. The Chosen, that is what we are, you and me. I am your friend, you are mine, and together we kill the pain, bit by bit every night. We go out, our dark shapes melting into the shadows, and we kill the pain by killing the monsters.

Even here, in this city of angels, named after your lost man, there are monsters. That is all right with you, isn’t it? You want it that way. Want to embrace the darkness and lose yourself in it, slaughter your way through it until all the pain is gone and nothing is left, for pain is all you are now.

A dead man burns in hell, praying to be alive again.

A living woman burns in something very much like hell, praying to be dead.

But your friend is here, keeping you alive even when you’d rather be dead. Be glad that I found you. Be glad that I exist. Where would you be without me now? Dead? Possibly. Lost? You still are, but not for much longer. For even as you try to lose yourself in the night, I know how to bring you on the way again.

Night after night we go out to hunt, to do what we do best and turn the most brutal of monsters into dust. Bit by bit we kill your pain and it makes me feel good, too. But there is only so much pain to kill here in the city of angels. For your true pain does not lie here among these dark buildings and alleys.

We return to your small apartment and you prepare to go back to true sleep, even as I prepare everything for the journey we will undertake. The journey that will lead us back to the source of your pain and allow us to kill it.

Stretching out on your small and dirty bed, thinking of your beloved, but no longer dreaming of him. The dreams are gone and all that is left is the pain. Your lips form his name in your sleep.


I am by her side, like a friend should be. I am your friend, Buffy. The only friend you will ever need. Soon you will see. When I bring you back to show you all that you have left behind. All that you still carry around with you like a collection of old scars. Your friends. Your family. Your mentor.

When you see them again soon, that is when you will finally see that you are mine now. That I am the only one who can bring you the relief you seek. The only one who can kill your pain.

Whisper your dead lover’s name in your sleep if you like! Wrap yourself in your memories and suffering like a shroud!

It is my name, though, that falls off your lips when you don’t know how to go on. My name you speak when you ask what to do now. Your friend, your companion, your partner, your sister-in-arms, all you will ever need.

My name.


Part 2

“I don’t want to do this.” I tell you in a small voice.

“Face it, B,” you reply, “you gotta do it. They’re a part of this mess, like it or not, and you’ll never get your head screwed on right again until you’ve had it out with them.”

You’re right, of course. As usual. I don’t know what I would do without you. Scratch that, I know quite well, don’t I? After all, I remember what I was about to do when I first met you.

I remember like it was yesterday.

Sitting in my dark apartment, surrounded by the broken pieces of my life. The few things I took along with me when I left home barely give the room a feeling of being filled. I’m not living here. I’m not living at all, actually. I’m just existing. For the pain.

I keep seeing his face. Surprised, hurt, needing to know why I did it.

I look at the kitchen knife I took along from work, look at the gleaming edge of the blade and I wonder what it will feel like to finally end it all. Put the cutting edge against the skin of my wrists and press down with that Slayer strength, the same I used to drive another blade into someone else’s skin.

Tears roll down my face. They don’t come that often anymore. Maybe I just don’t have all that many left. Or maybe I’m starting to forget. Forget what he looked like, forget how good he smelled, how he curved his lips into that sensuous half-smile he had that could melt me into a puddle.

I take the knife and hold it against my wrist, feeling the coldness of the steel. One movement and it will be over. Maybe the gods will be kind and send me to Hell. That is what is supposed to happen when you commit suicide, right? You go to Hell.

Please! Let it be true!

“You sure you want to do that?” I hear you ask me. Hear your voice for the very first time.

I look up and there you are, standing in the door of my apartment like you own it, all easy strength and confidence. Dressed in black leather pants and something barely deserving of being called a top. Your dark eyes glisten as you watch me, watch the knife I still have pressed to my wrist.

“Who are you?” I ask you, wanting to be alone. Wanting to finish this without onlookers.

“Boring question,” you replied, abandoning your pose at the door to come closer, “much more interesting to ask what you think you are doing.”

“What does it look like?” My voice is dripping with a tired sarcasm. I want you to go, go away!

“You don’t want me to go, believe me!” You answer. Did I speak those words out loud? You sit on the bed beside me, just out of reach, and I can almost feel the heat trailing off your skin. Something about you makes me tingle inside. A bit like I felt when he was still around. I don’t know you, but you feel so familiar. As if I should know you.

“You know nothing about what I want!” I mumble.

“Oh, but I do know a lot. Buffy.”

I look up at your face, seeing the way your lips curve into a wicked smile.

“You know my name?”

“I know a lot about you. I’m like you, Buffy.”

I just look at you, confused, and then you show me what you mean. The bed we sit on has an iron railing and with but one hand you bend the bedpost halfway around, not even straining.

“See what I mean?” You ask me.

“You’re a Slayer?”

“Yep! Chosen to fight evil, save the world, yada, yada, yada! You know the score.”

“Fine,” I mutter back, “then you can take over the job. I don’t want it anymore.”

I am about to press down with the knife when your hand slips over mine and pulls the knife back. I look at your face again, too tired to put up a fight, too tired even to be angry for your interference.

“That is not the way.”

“I don’t want the pain anymore.” I whisper, trying to get back the knife, my way out. You pull it away from me, though, and I can’t fight anymore.

“I can show you how to kill the pain.” You whisper to me, your hair brushing mine. “I can show you how to live again. It will take time and it won’t be easy, but together we can make it. The two of us, the Chosen Two.”

I am so tired and your words are soothing. Kill the pain? Is that possible? I have been in pain for so long I have forgotten how it is not to feel it seep through my bones. I can’t even imagine how it is not to be in pain anymore.

“What do you say, B?” You ask me. It is the first time you call me by that nickname.

I don’t care anymore, so I just nod and let you do whatever you want to do with me.

That night we went out to kill the pain, you and I. You dressed me, you colored my hair, you gave me one of the knives you always carry. I just let you, let you do whatever you want to. Together we went out into the night and for the first time in nearly three months I found myself killing Vampires again. For the first time I felt alive again.

With you at my side it was a glorious feeling. No thinking. No remembering. Just fighting, feel the blood thunder through my veins, feel the snap and pop in my arms and legs as I dish out pain and punishment. That beautiful shudder that runs up my arm when the stake impacts against a Vampire’s chest and pierces the heart.

It is in those moments, when death is all around me, flashing fangs and growling, that I don’t feel the pain anymore. I kill the pain by killing others, kill the feelings inside me as the monsters turn to ash. When I fight and kill there is nothing but glorious numbness inside me, nothing but an emptiness that feels too good to be true.

No pain. For a brief moment.

“You have to go inside now!” You tell me, bringing me back to the present.

I am standing in front of my mother’s door and can already hear her moving inside, Slayer hearing picking up her every sound. Just knock and she will open the door, see me, and do … what?

“Can’t you go with me?” I ask you, needing your strength.

“I am always with you, B,” you answer with a smile, “but I won’t go inside with you. I will be there when you come out again.”

With those words you are gone, disappearing with an ease I never really mastered. I have been the Slayer much longer than you, Faith, but you seem so much better at it. Nothing can hurt you. I wish I could be that way.

Finally I knock on the door, each step sounding from behind the wooden barrier ringing inside me, tearing at my shredded soul. So much pain. Why did I come back?

My mother opens the door and stares at me in disbelief.

“Hi, mom!” I tell her.

I know you’re watching me, Faith. It makes me feel safe.

Part 3

It’s been a month now. A month since we came to Sunnydale. Came back, in your case. Came back to your friends and family, trying to fit in with them again despite everything that has happened.

It’s not working, of course. I knew it wouldn’t.

They don’t understand. Don’t understand why you are in so much pain over losing him. After all, he was just a murderer, right? Just a monster that needed killing and so you did it. Killed him. End of the story, go on with your life.

That is what they want you to do. That is what you are trying to do. At least on the surface. Only on the surface.

“You haven’t told them about me?” I ask you as we go on patrol.

You shake your head, dark hair flying in the wind. I know that your friends are disturbed by the changes in you. Your new hair color, your new sense of dress, your new attitude toward the slaying. You no longer allow them to accompany you on patrol. You don’t need them. You have me.

“They are so … frustrating.” You say.

“Why?” I know the answer, of course, but I want to hear you say it.

“They … they want me to pretend that nothing happened. That what I did doesn’t matter. That he didn’t matter. They want the old Buffy back. The one that laughed so much, the one that was constantly wise cracking and running her mouth, even during the slaying. The one that dressed at the height of fashion and had happy blonde hair.”

I touch your shoulder and you slip your hand over mine.

“They don’t understand that you are no longer that person.”

Your mother and Giles tried to enroll you back into school, but you wanted none of it. No pretense at having a normal life. No distraction from the only thing that can kill the pain. The pain is all around you now. Everything reminds you of him and what you did.

No need for your friends to know about me quite yet. They will meet me soon enough, when the time is right.

“What about that guy Red tried to hook you up with?”

You groan, remembering. Willow has made it her personal project to get you back to your old self. Step one: A nice, normal boyfriend. I have seen the loser she picked out and I wonder how Willow can consider herself your best friend when she knows so little about your taste.

“Scott Hope?” You ask me and sigh. “He’s nice, normal, and …”

“Boring as hell?” That actually manages to bring a smile to your lips. Now and then you do smile again, but not very often. Most of the times it is when we go slaying. When you drive a stake into a Vampire’s heart and kill the pain for a brief moment.

“That about sums it up. Somehow, though, he seems to have gotten the impression that I am interested in him. Every time I see him he behaves as if we went to several dates already.”

I smile.

“He can’t compare!” I state.

“Not even close. You know … he feels … wrong. And not just because he isn’t, you know, isn’t him. It’s more. When … when he touched me today it was … wrong. He felt so warm. So alive.”

“What was it like?” I ask her. “Your night with Angel?”

You shake your head, not wanting the memories. My patience wins out, though. You can’t win against me, B! You should know that. Or you will.

“It was wonderful. He was so cold, so wonderfully cool. When we touched I wanted to wrap myself into that cool flesh, climb inside him and make him warm with my own heat.”

I urge you to continue. Live the memories, B! They are all you have left. Live them and the pain will come back with twice the force when you remember that he’s gone.

“Feeling him inside me,” you continue, “that wonderful silky coldness sliding into me, it was the greatest feeling in the world. I wanted it to last forever.”

“It didn’t, though.” I remind you. You fall silent and I can see you wrap the pain around yourself like a shroud again. Soon you will realize that the only way to escape it is to give in to me. Give me all you are.

Patrol takes a bit longer tonight, as there is a killer loose around High School, killing students. Not a Vampire, or so we think, but something else. Whatever it is, though, we will find and kill it. That is what we do, the Chosen Two. We kill. Kill the pain.

“I went to the mansion yesterday.” You tell me.


“Very. But I couldn’t put it off indefinitely. I had to go there. I ... I left the ring he gave me. Left it on the floor.”

You close your eyes, eyes that are brimming with tears. I drape my arm around your shoulders, keeping you safe.

“I know how difficult that must have been,” I tell her, “but letting go of him is part of getting your life back, B. You can’t live in the shadow of a ghost.”

Ditching the ring will not lessen the pain, though. It will only make it easier to rid herself of her old life. There is so little of it left already and soon, when she finally realizes that her friends and family don’t know her, have never really known her, we will bury the last remains of Buffy Summers, High School girl.

Then you will be mine forever.

There is movement in the underbrush, something big and inhuman is near. We can both sense it, that tingle inside our head that means ‘Vampire’! We don’t need words to communicate, not when it comes to fighting. Dressed alike, armed alike, moving alike, when fighting we are truly one.

Our prey is close and I don’t think it knows we are here. It is moving toward the school grounds. Maybe our student killer? Or just another Vampire looking for the liquid lunch? Doesn’t matter. Monsters, all of them. Catalysts for B’s transformation, killing a piece of the pain, of her old life, with every Vampire she dusts.

The moon comes out overhead and we see a reflection of light, a shimmer of paleness just ahead of us. Moonlight illuminating a creature of milky white flesh, covered in dirt and bruises. Looks like someone or something put this one through the wringer already.

We will finish the job.

The creature tenses and twists around, having sensed us. Moonlight falls into the shadows and we can see its face.

No! This can’t be happening!

B almost faints and I find myself more than a little rattled myself. This is impossible! Not now! Not when I’m so close!

“Angel!” B whispers.

The big A is back from Hell! Fuck, this could put a serious cramp into my plans.

Part 4

“Buffy, why don’t you talk to me anymore?” Willow asks me.

We sit on my bed in my room, me and my best friend. Or is that former best friend now? I am no longer sure. I’m not sure about anything anymore except the fact that my life is all out of control and there is nothing I can do about it.

It’s been a month since Angel returned from Hell. God, how often have I dreamed about this happening? He would return and everything would be right with the world once more. He would take me in his arms and the pain would go away. No more pain. Never again.

I should’ve known it wouldn’t be that easy.

You knew, Faith, didn’t you? Even now I know you are close, watching me. It used to make me feel safe, knowing you were always around, always there for me. It was a feeling like I used to have when Angel was around, always watching over me from the shadows. Now Angel is back and I wonder what that means for me. For us.

I look at Willow and try to figure out what to do about her. There is so much I can’t tell her. I can’t tell her or the others about Angel being back, they would kill him if they knew. They don’t understand. They don’t want to understand.

And Faith? I am not sure why I can’t tell anyone about you, only that you want it that way. I never wondered why before, but now I do. Why don’t you want my friends to know about you? Why do you make such a secret of your presence?

“You don’t understand what I’ve been through, Willow.” I simply tell my friend, hoping that she will leave well enough alone. I can’t deal with this, not right now.

“I want to understand, Buffy.” She continues. “But how can I if you don’t talk to me?”

I shake my head.

“It’s … it’s complicated.”

“Is it? Buffy, ever since you came back I have the feeling that you are a complete stranger. It’s not just the new clothing, the new hair, it’s everything. It’s as if only a small part of you came back while the rest is still hiding somewhere.”

I can’t let her in. I can’t let anyone in. They will only hurt me all over again. Only a small part of me came back? Well, yes, that is about right. The largest part of me is dead, killed when a sword was driven into flesh that might as well have been my own.

Angel’s return didn’t change things. He isn’t the same man he was. How could he be? He spent centuries in Hell because of me. Even if he still loves me, which I am none too sure about, it can never be the same again. The curse. The memories. It all stands between us. He is back, but he might as well not be.

Ever since he came back Faith has become more distant. It’s as if she resents Angel’s presence, as if she feels useless now that he’s back. Was she but a replacement for him? Someone to hold on to when he wasn’t there for me? I realize that, even after all these months, I know very little about her. Almost nothing, actually, except that she is a Slayer and that she is my friend.

Do I need to know more?

Maybe I do.

“Willow, I ... during my time in Los Angeles, I found a new friend.”

“A new friend?”

Even as I start telling her about my first meeting with you, Faith, I suddenly realize that you are watching me from outside my window. Willow doesn’t see you, but I can. I can see the anger on your face. You don’t want me to tell them, but I do.

“You wanted to kill yourself?” Willow asks, aghast.

“I had to kill him, Will!” The tears are coming back. “He had his soul again and I had to kill him. It would have been hard if he’d been Angelus, but having to kill Angel was … God …”

Willow hugs me close and I allow myself to relax in her embrace. These are my friends and maybe … maybe they will understand. Maybe it will not destroy me to let them back in again. Maybe …

I can see you string at me from the window, Faith. Your eyes are full of anger.

“This other Slayer,” Willow asks me after a while, “did she remain behind in LA or what?”

I look at you, Faith, and I know that if I tell her of your presence here I will lose you. I am not sure why, but I can’t lose you. You are too important to me to lose. It’s like you have become a part of myself in these few short months we have known each other.

“She didn’t return with me,” I lie to my best friend, “just convinced me that I had to return. That seeing all of you again would make it better.”

“And was she right?” Willow asks.

I think of Angel, whose presence I must keep secret. I think of Faith, whom I wonder about. I think of my messed-up life.

“Maybe.” I just mutter.

*               *               *

This is not going well. What do you think you are doing, B? You think they will just accept you back? No, I won’t allow it. Not after all I’ve already accomplished. I will not go away again. I am here to stay and you are mine.

When Willow leaves you drift off to sleep. I return to my motel room, thinking about what to do next. Angel shouldn’t have returned. It really messed everything up. Maybe I should just go and stake him. He is still weak, it wouldn’t be much of a problem.

Besides, Angel would never be able to fight against me.

But no, not yet. The option of killing Angel will remain open for a while longer, but I think I have an even better idea how to turn things around. Yes, that is a good plan. Oh, B, if only you knew what I have in store for you.

First, though, a little relaxation. I have so little time to myself these days. I dial a certain number and tell a certain someone to hurry on over. Ten minutes later he is there, standing in my door, ready and willing.

“Hi!” Scott Hope smiles at me. “You really are a hard girl to figure out.”

I walk toward him, draping my arms around his neck.

“Is that so?” I ask him, smiling wickedly.

“Sure are. I’m never sure whether you’ll jump me or brush me off.”

“Well, tonight I’m gonna do the jumping part.”

With that I push him on the bed and straddle his body. He’s young, strong, and all too much alive. Not like the cool flesh B experienced. But for now he will do. Our clothing is removed in no time flat and I start riding him.

Don’t you miss this, B? The feeling of someone coming beneath you? I know you only experienced it once so far, but you can’t tell me you don’t miss it.

I look down at the boy beneath me and I know that I can do anything to him. Anything I want. He is too weak to resist me. I’m the Slayer and there is no one who can tell me what to do. Following a sudden impulse I put my hands around his neck and start to squeeze.

“What are you …” he starts saying, then his air is cut off.

“I can do whatever I want,” I whisper to him as his eyes start bulging, “you have no power, you are my toy. You’re all my toys and soon everyone will know.”

I come as he passes out beneath me and it feels good. So very good.

I don’t let go of his neck.

Part 5

Something is wrong. Why do I have the feeling that something is off between us, Faith? Ever since Angel came back you have been avoiding me. I always see you at the edge of my vision, but when I turn to look, you are gone. I miss you, Faith. Why have you abandoned me?

Mom, Giles, and Willow finally convinced me to go back to school again. Maybe it was a mistake. Everything here reminds me of the way things were. In the past. When the world was still right.

When I go into the library I see Kendra’s dead body lying on the ground. In the corridors I hear Angel’s taunting words, see him holding Willow by the neck, playing with me. In computer class I have to think of Miss Calendar and how it must have sounded when Angel broke her neck. The sound echoes through the corridors.

Added to that I have heard that Scott is in the hospital, lying in a coma after someone attacked him. The police had to nerve to question me, referring to me as his girlfriend. How the hell did they get that idea? I never even gave that loser the time of day.

Still, going back to school, hanging with the gang, it makes it seem possible to reclaim what I have lost. To be, once again, the girl I was before I struck Angel down and sent him to Hell.

Angel. After school I go to visit him and somehow it makes me feel better. He doesn’t blame me for what I did. Did to him. Somehow that makes it better, even though I can’t stop blaming myself. Things between me and Angel can never be the same again, but I feel safe when I’m with him. The old feelings are still there.

Why are you avoiding me, Faith? Aren’t you happy that I’m finally starting to put my life back in order, if slowly? Wasn’t that why you practically dragged me back here to Sunnydale? I didn’t want to come back, but you convinced me and now things actually seem to be working out for a change. What is wrong now?

No answers are forthcoming.

*               *               *

Time to put plan B into motion. B, my dear, you are in for one hell of a surprise. Even as you’re leaving the school, telling everyone you’ll go home, making your mother think you’re training with Giles, I am putting things into high gear. Don’t you know that lies have a habit of being revealed, B?

It doesn’t take much, you know? Just a few words spoken where somebody is sure to overhear. You walk down the corridor toward the school’s exit, unaware that Xander is passing close by. Xander, who suddenly hears someone utter words that make his blood run cold.

“Off to see my Angel.”

Boy, they sure had an off day when they put Xander together. He’s so predictable. The word “Angel” alone would have sufficed, I believe. No one here’s got a mad-on for Angel the way he has. Fuck, he hated Angel even before he turned evil, figuring that the Vampire was the only reason you didn’t fall for him, B. As if!

So what does this idiot boy do? He starts following you, B, and you are too lost in thought to notice. Too easy, really. Much too easy. By the way, you haven’t figured it out yet, have you? What Xander did? What he didn’t tell you on the day you sent Angel to Hell? Oh, you are so trusting, B. So very trusting. Beware that it doesn’t become your undoing!

Xander follows you all the way to Angel’s mansion and when you go inside he sees who is waiting for you. Oh, this is going even better than I planned it. For a moment both you and Angel forget what has happened and just fall into each other’s arms, kissing like the world around you is gone. Xander really doesn’t need to see anymore.

Off he goes, my bearer of bad news. So easy to get these idiots to do my work for me. Enjoy the kiss while it lasts, B! You’ll not feel like it for a good long while to come.

*               *               *

“Don’t you think you have to tell us something?”

Those are the first words I hear as I walk into the library. Giles, Willow, Xander, Cordelia, Oz, the entire gang is here and staring at me as if I committed the most heinous of crimes. What is going on here?

“What do you mean?” I ask them, walking closer.

Xander’s face is clouded by fury. That ain’t half as scary as the cold chill I can see in Giles’ eyes. I have a feeling I know very well what they are talking about and Giles’ next word confirms it.


I stare at them, wondering how they found out. Does it really matter, though? I don’t think denying everything will work, they seem pretty certain. I look into their faces and something inside me flinches. Something that was almost back among the living but now curls up an dies all over again. I know they don’t understand me, none of them. Even Willow looks like I just stabbed her in the back.

I should have known. Faith! You told me it would be that way. Why didn’t I listen to you?

“Angel is none of your business!” I tell them. They can’t hurt me if I don’t let them in. No one can hurt me unless I let them.

“I beg to differ,” Giles replies coldly, “considering what happened the last time Angel was around.”

I look at the people that are supposed to be my friends and I see nothing but hatred and distrust. They see me, see my new look, my changed attitude, and they’re afraid. They’re never going to accept me the way I am now.

I see myself reflected in the window of Giles’ office. Dressed in black leather, dark brown hair falling across my shoulders, no smile on my lips. That isn’t the Buffy they know and want. But it’s me, the only me there is and will be. For better or worse, that’s the way it is.

“Learn to live with it!” I tell them, not just referring to Angel, and turn to walk out the door without another word. Screw them. Screw school. Fuck it, what was I thinking? They wanted to pretend everything was back to normal and I actually started to believe them. Started to believe that the pain would go away.

I can feel the tears fall down my cheeks. I should have stayed away from Sunnydale. There is nothing but pain here, pain of the kind I can’t kill by ramming a stake into a Vampire heart. Angel’s return, the thing I have dreamed of for so long, has turned into a living nightmare.

Angel. I need to talk to him. I need to figure out what to do now.

And Faith. I need to talk to you, Faith! Please!

*               *               *

Yes, B! You need me! Soon you will realize that you don’t need anyone but me. I still don’t like that Angel is back, but judging from what just happened in the library, it might even be to my advantage.

We’ll see. It doesn’t hurt that Angel still has the nicest piece of ass around. I will just have to give it a test drive soon. Real soon.

Part 6

We are walking through a cemetery at night and I find myself lost in thought. It’s been two weeks since the gang found out about Angel being back and I have barely exchanged a word with any of them since. I haven’t been to school, either. Snyder probably got his jollies when he told my mom I was out again.

Mom. I haven’t talked much with her, either. Ever since I came back she seems afraid to say something wrong, something that will make me leave again. I have thought about it. Leaving, I mean. What is there for me here in Sunnydale? Only the pain. Only the memories.

And Angel.

“You’re thinking of lover boy again.” You tease me with a smile on your lips.

“How can you tell, Faith?”

“Come on! Like you get that dreamy smile thinking about anyone else.”

You came back when I needed you most, Faith. When the gang refused to understand, when I needed someone to talk about. Talking to Angel is incredibly awkward these days. All I want to do when he’s around is walk into his arms and to hell with the world. I know what will happen when we’re together, and part of me doesn’t care.

We have staked over a dozen Vampires these last few nights and it’s not enough. Not enough to regain that feeling of pleasant numbness I crave. Somewhere, somehow, I have lost the ability to kill the pain by killing Vampires. It’s not enough anymore.

“Want to do something new?” You ask me, guessing at my thoughts again. How do you do that?

“Like what?” You just smile that wicked smile of yours and drag me off to a place I know only too well. Willy’s bar, where demons hang out. This place has always been a kind of neutral ground. The demons hang out here, but don’t kill anyone, even though there are human patrons as well. I have more or less respected that cease-fire rule, except when it came to beating up the double-dealing snitch himself. “What are we doing here?” I want to know.

“Ever been in a good bar brawl?”

“What? No, I ... you honestly want to …”

“I haven’t been either.”

With that you walk into the bar and I hurry after you, wondering how you always manage to get me into situations like this.

*               *               *

There are over two dozen or so demons in the bar when we walk in, you and I. Mostly Vampires, but some more exotic ones, too. Everyone looks up and everyone recognizes you, even with the new hair and outfit. How could they not? You have quite a reputation in this town, B.

Me? I’m still working on it.

“The Slayer!” Willy sees B and comes over. “What a great pleasure to have the Slayer visit my humble establishment.”

Some of the patrons are rising to leave, but I give them a long, hard stare and they sit down again. Over two dozen, they probably figure they can overcome us by sheer numbers, yet no one wants to be the first.

“Hi, Willy,” I greet the snitch, “we’re looking for something.”

He leans in closer to whisper to B, like he always does. He smells of sweat and fear. He fears us. It feels great.

“You know I can’t just supply you with information in front of my customers. It wouldn’t be …”

“Don’t worry, Willy!” I tell him. “We’ve already found what we were looking for.”

“You did?” He asks, surprised. “What?”

I give him a smile.

“A good fight!”

Before any of the patrons know what’s happening we’re all over them. The first Vampire crumbles into dust when I impale it with my wooden heel. The others rise to fight us. Come and get it boys!

A blur of fighting, arms and legs flying, dishing it out and taking it. You love it, B, I can see that, you love the thrill of violence. This is better than the usual dusting in the cemeteries. Close quarters, overwhelming numbers, nothing but fists, fangs, and stakes. This is what you need right now, B!

I can see that some of the fighting doesn’t center around us. What do you know? Bar brawls, gotta love them. Get it started and you’re sure to see some people forget who started it and just start brawling for the hell of it.

Half the patrons are dead or unconscious when some of them manage to get a hold of us and we find ourselves airborne. The front window of the bar shatters as we fly through it, landing on the street in a shower of glass, beer, and blood. We’re both laughing out loud. Fuck, when was the last time you had this much fun, B?

*               *               *

I am bruised all over, glass shards a sharp pain in my back, but I feel great. Here it is, that feeling I’ve been looking for. No time to think or remember, just the thrill of the physical and the pleasant numbness inside where the pain resides.

From the sound of things the fight inside is going on without us. Bar brawls. I thought it was only this way in the movies. I rise from the street, aching, and smile at you as you lie beside me, giggling.

“Want to go back inside for another round?” I ask you.

“Thought you’d never ask.”

We both rise and prepare to dive back into the thick of things when someone else is there without warning. Willow. What the hell is Willow doing here?

“Buffy, thank God I found you.”

I really don’t need this right now. What does she want anyway? Faith? I look around and you’re not there anymore. What is it with you and those spooky exits?

“Buffy, are you listening?”

I turn to look at Willow, brushing glass shards off my clothes.

“What do you want, Will? Come to bitch about Angel again?”

Her face darkens and I feel fine. You can’t hurt me anymore, Will, but I can hurt you. It feels good. God, it feels good.

“Buffy, please! There is … Giles found out that a demon is in town, looking for some kinda glove that will make it really powerful. We need you. I mean, no matter what happened between us, you’re … you’re still the Slayer. Right?”

I can hear the doubt in her voice and I don’t like it. How can she doubt that I would do my duty just because I’m sore with her and the others? I wonder if they ever knew me at all.

“Lead the way, Willow!” I tell her.

“Buffy, about what happened …”

“Will! You said there is a demon looking for a really powerful whatever, right? Get your priorities in order!”

She looks like I slapped her and part of me almost flinches. Why do I hurt her this way? But … damn, they hurt me, didn’t they? Turn around is fair play, isn’t it? Faith, where are you? Help me figure out this shit!

We make our way across town to a crypt where Giles’ research said the glove would be. Even from far away I can hear the sound of fighting. Shit!

“Stay back, Will!” I tell her and take off toward the fighting. Faith, I could really use you right now. How come you are right by my side for a bar brawl, but nowhere in sight when it comes to saving the world? Questions for another day, I suppose.

The sounds of fighting have stopped. I can see the crypt and skid to a stop. Giles is there, as well as Xander, Cordy, and Oz. The entire gang, minus Willow who is approaching behind me. All of them.

And Angel.

“What the hell??” I begin.

There is a dead demon lying on the ground, its head nowhere in sight. Angel leans on a sword, looking exhausted, several scratches all over his body. He looks up at me and his eyes alone suffice to make my knees weak. I have to physically restrain myself from running to him, checking his injuries, making sure he is all right.

“We didn’t know where to find you,” Giles says, his voice carefully neutral, “and the demon was too close to finding the glove. So I ... I asked Angel for help.”

Giles went to Angel for help? Giles of all people? After Jenny? After the torture?

“A pleasure.” Angel mumbles, favoring his side. He is hurt. Hurt because he had to do my job when I wasn’t around. God, why do I always mess up this way?

Everyone is staring at me, even Angel. How did this happen? How did everything get so fucked up?

“That’s what I wanted to say, Buffy,” Willow starts, “maybe … maybe we were wrong. We … we shouldn’t have judged you the way we did. I mean … he’s Angel, not Angelus.”

Giles walks toward me.

“I’m sorry,” he says, “sorry that I couldn’t see how much all of this hurt you, Buffy. Talking with Angel, it ... it made me see how badly we treated you ever since you came back. Please believe me, we still want to be your friends.”

I see them look at me and I feel the barriers I have built around me crack. Damn it, I can’t let them in, not again. They will only hurt me all over again.

Angel walks over and touches my shoulder, sending shivers down my spine.

“I know how much you’re hurting, Buffy,” he says, “but closing yourself off from the world doesn’t help. Believe me, I know it doesn’t.”

I can feel tears on my cheeks and don’t know where they come from. Damn it, I don’t want this! I can’t be hurt again! Not again!

Faith? Where are you? I need you!

Part 7

I don’t like this. I don’t like this at all. How come everyone is chummy with Angel again? That wasn’t part of the plan. So far you are resisting their affections, B, but I know you. Sooner or later you’re gonna go all melty inside and everything I’ve worked for will be for naught.

Fuck. I need a new plan. A good plan. Fast.

Sitting in the Bronze during my few free hours and I’ve nothing better to do then getting plastered. Slayer stamina isn’t making that easy, too. Metabolism burns the alcohol so fast I’ve got to really hit it to get drunk. Still no great ideas.

Someone is singing awfully loud around here. Can’t hold a single note, too. And with a nerve-wrecking British accent to boot. British accent? I look up from my glass and smile as I see the solution to our problems, B.

I walk over to the man sitting at the bar, trying to sit actually, and slap him on the back.

“Hi, Spike!”

The Vampire turns around and almost falls off his stool when he sees me. He stinks of alcohol like somebody tried to preserve him inside it. Boy is he plastered. For a moment it looks like he doesn’t know me, then his eyes widen.

“Bloody hell, I really didn’t need to see you!” He mutters.

“Don’t you like me anymore?” I ask him, pouting mockingly. “After all we shared.”

He looks me up and down, smiling. “I like the outfit, by the way. It’s you. Very slutty.”

I give him a slight push and he tumbles off the stool, cursing all the way to the floor. I lean on the bar and order two drinks.

“Stand up and drink with me, Spike!”

He climbs back on his stool and takes the drink, giving me a dirty look.

“Okay, what’s with the bonding thing, slut? Last time we met …”

“Much has changed since then. Call me slut again and you’re dust. My name is Faith!”

He raises a dark eyebrow. “Faith, yeah? Okay, Faith it is. Now, what do you want? Can’t you let me drown my sorrows in peace? I’m not killing anyone except some innocent beers right now.”

“Sorrows?” I ask him, raising my own eyebrow. “What happened, Spike?”

He gulps down the beer in one swoop and slams it back on the counter, calling for another.

“Want to hear the story? Here it is. Vampire wants his girlfriend back from Big Poof. Vampire joins forces with Slayer. Slayer kicks Big Poof’s ass. Vampire gets girlfriend and leaves town. Girlfriend is angry with Vampire for joining forces with Slayer against Big Poof. Girlfriend leaves. End of story.”

Drusilla ditched him? Fuck, this is too much. I almost topple over from laughter and everyone in the Bronze is staring at me. Let them! This is too funny, really.

“Glad to see someone’s bloody happy here.” Spike grumbles, eagerly receiving his new beer.

“Fuck, Spike, you’re really pathetic.”

He growls at me, but today he is all bark and no bite.

“No, I mean, really. So Drusilla ditched you. What are you, a wimp? That is exactly why she left you, I’d say. You’ve turned into a wimp. Look at you! Coming to Sunnydale to get plastered instead of doing what she wants you to do.”

“And what would that bloody be, Faith?” He says my name with a healthy dose of sarcasm. Let him, I don’t care.

“Why, find her, tie her up, and torture her until she loves you again. That’s what Vampires do, right? Drusilla, now she’s a vamp’s vamp and nutty to boot. You, though, what are you? Come on, Spike! You always wanted to be the Big Bad! Now show your nut job ho that you’re still her Big Bad!”

For a moment he just glares at me, but then his brow furrows in thought.

“You know, you might actually be right. Maybe I did go about this entire thing all wrong.”

“Wimpy.” I agree with him.

He starts laughing and jumps off his stool, nearly losing his balance.

“I’m not a wimp!” He proclaims to the entire Bronze. “I’m Spike! William the fucking Bloody! I’m a bloody animal and I will show her.”

He stumbles, leaning against the bar, and smiles at me.

“Thank you! I don’t know why you did that, but I don’t care one way or other. I could kiss you.”

I give him a smile. “If you want to return the favor, there is something else you could do for me.”

“Name it!”

*               *               *

I wake up, feeling worn out and tired. I’m not sure why, but I don’t sleep all that well as of late. Too much going on, I think. Too much stuff to clutter up my brain. Sometimes I think it’d be better not to get up anymore. Just stay in bed until everything is right with the world once more.

Not that easy, of course. Never that easy.

I can’t deal with this. Suddenly everyone is trying to be all chummy with me again. I know that they all still resent Angel’s presence, resent that I hid him from them, resent my changed looks and attitude. But now they’re all trying to be understanding and stuff.

Some days I don’t know whether to love or hate them for it. No, make that all days. I have no idea what to do.

I had some long talks with Angel. That helped some, but only some. He says he still loves me, even though we can’t be together anymore. He says he doesn’t blame for what I did to him, said it needed to be done and that he’s proud I was strong enough to do it.

God, even he behaves like everything is supposed to all right in the world again. Can’t he see, can’t they see that nothing is all right? Hasn’t been in a long time.

Or is it?

I’m not even sure why I feel so miserable anymore. I’m out of school, but that isn’t a bad thing at all, is it? My friends want to be friends again. My lover is alive — well, not really, but you know what I mean — and more or less well. Sure, we can’t be together anymore, or can we? I mean, sure, no sex, but somehow that doesn’t seem so important when he’s around.

Faith, where are you? You are the only one I can always talk to. You can help me sort this stuff out.

The phone on my bedside rings and I can hear Cordelia’s panicked voice on the other end almost before I pick it up.

“Slow down, Cordy! What happened? … What? … Kidnapped? … Who did … Spike? Spike is in town? … Damn. Yes, I’m on my way … Do me a favor and call Angel, okay? … Yes, if Spike is involved I know Angel will want to know about it. … I will get them home safely, I promise.”

Willow and Xander are gone. Kidnapped. Spike. He left a note calling me out for a final battle or my friends will die. He promised he’d never return to Sunnydale, but I guess holding him to that was pretty much a fantasy.

I hope Willow and Xander are safe. I hope today will be the last I see of Spike.

Faith! I could really use you right now, you know?

Part 8

Spike wanted me to meet him in a dark alley close to the Bronze. Typical, they always have to go for the drama. Final battle with the Vampire in a dark alley, my life reads like a TV show sometimes. I don’t want to do this. There is so much I have to deal with without being distracted by Spike.

A few months ago this would have been exactly what I wanted. Some big fight to take my mind off things. Kill the pain by killing someone else. But that hasn’t worked too well, has it? The pain never stopped, it only went away for short minutes at a time and came back tenfold.

Faith! You told me I could rid myself of the pain this way, but it’s not working. Why isn’t it working?

“Took your time, luv!”

Spike walks into the alley, lighting a cigarette, his black duster flapping dramatically. His face is all smiles and I don’t like it. He seems too confident.

“Where are Willow and Xander, Spike?”

He winks at me. Why does he wink at me?

“None of that, luv! We’re here to fight, or have you forgotten?”

“I haven’t forgotten that I vowed to kill you if you ever came back to Sunnydale. Unlike some people I know I don’t break my vows.”

He applauds, taking another drag from the cigarette.

“I enjoy a good heroic speech as much as the next guy. Can we get to the fighting now?”

Without waiting for an answer he charges, his fists swinging for my face. I have fought Spike several times before, I know his moves. Evade that first charge, do with the kicks to beat his longer reach, us his hair-trigger temper to get him angry and mistake-prone.

His fist connects with my face and I’m thrown backwards. When did he get so fast? I saw that one coming a mile away and couldn’t evade. I flip back to my feet and he is there, hitting me with a kick. I manage to roll with the blow and spin around the deliver a kick of my own, but he isn’t there.

Suddenly he is behind me and shoves me forward, sending me tumbling into a heap of trash. How did he get behind me, damn it?

“Come on, Slayer!” Spike taunts. “At least put up a decent fight, okay? I’ve got a reputation to think of.”

“You won’t have to worry about your reputation much longer, Spike!”

I’m back on my feet and try to tag him, but he’s not there. I throw punches and kicks, but they go wild, not even getting close. Spike is never where I expect him to be and his next blow sends me halfway across the alley and onto my back.

“Got a boo boo, B?”

I look up and see you sitting on a window ledge, looking down.

“Faith? Damn it, don’t just sit there! Come down here and help me!”

Spike is coming closer again, not the slightest bit winded, grinning. I don’t know whether he got stronger or I’m off for some reason, but I need help. Why are you just sitting there?

“Look out, B! Here he comes again!”

Spike is there and next thing I know I’m flung against the wall. I never even saw him move. Damn it, what is going on here?

“Faith!” I yell.

“You see, I have been thinking,” you tell me, never having moved from your perch, “since everything is all right between Angel and your friends again, maybe you don’t need me anymore.”

I can’t answer you, Spike is throwing punches my way and it takes everything I have just to block the worst of it. Damn it, Faith! What are you doing? And why is Spike ignoring you?

“I mean, sure, you always talk things over with me, but you can do that just as well with Willow. You have Angel to fight at your side, even though cuddling is all the two of you can do in the intimate department. So I wonder, do you still need me? Maybe I should just leave.”

My face is driven into the wall and I can feel blood sipping from my nose, which I think is broken. I swing and try to mount some kind of offense, but it feels like I’m moving in slow motion.

“This is getting to be too easy.” Spike comments as he kicks me in the side, sending me tumbling into the junk again. Everything hurts. I’m not sure I can even rise to my feet.

“Do you still need me?” You ask me from your perch, grinning down at me.

“Faith, why … why are you doing this? I thought … thought we were friends.”

“Are we friends, B? Friends should need each other. Friends should depend on one another. Do you need me, B? Do you need me to fight your battles for you?”

Spike is standing over me, grinning, baring his fangs. Is this it? Faith, why aren’t you helping me? I don’t understand this. I don’t want to die! Not now when everything is starting to get a little better for once.

“Faith …” I begin.

“Get away from her!” Someone roars.

A dark figure tackles Spike to the ground and the two shapes trade blows too fast for me to see. I manage to rise just enough to keep track of them, everything around me is spinning. Spike is thrown into the wall with an audible crack and I can finally make out his attacker.


Spike rises to his feet, looking at Angel and me. Then he shrugs and takes off, not before blowing me a kiss. Damn it, what did just happen here? Faith? I look up and you are gone, no trace of you. Why did you do that? Did you want me to die? Why?

Angel is there, gently helping me up into a sitting position.

“Are you badly hurt, Buffy?”

“Angel? Where are Willow and Xander, are they …?”

“They’re okay. I was about to go find them when Oz called and said they’d found them at the old factory building. I came here immediately. Can you stand?”

He helps me to my feet, but my knees buckle and he swoops me up in his arms. I lean against his chest, but I don’t feel safe. Not after what happened here.

“She … she didn’t help me,” I tell him, still not believing you did that, “she just watched.”

“She? Who, Buffy? Who watched?”

*               *               *

“She’s not a Slayer.” Giles says as he puts down the phone.

“Not a Slayer?” I ask him from my position on the couch. “What are you … how can she be anything but? Giles, I saw her strength, I fought beside her. She has to be a Slayer. When Kendra died …”

“When Kendra died,” Giles interrupts me, “a new Slayer was chosen. Her name is Juliet and she lives in Australia, where her Watcher is training with her as we speak. There neither is nor ever was a Slayer called Faith.”

Not a Slayer? What does that mean? Faith, who are you? Why did you lie to me? Why did you become my friend only to betray me? I don’t understand this.

“Whoever she is,” Angel says, sitting close to me, “she is obviously dangerous. We need to find her and do something. Fast.”

*               *               *

Well, this didn’t exactly go as planned. Stupid Spike, hiding Willow and Xander in the factory, the first place anyone would look. I planned on Angel being occupied for much longer. He shouldn’t have come to save you. That should have been my job. After you pleaded with me to save you, to fight your battles for you.

No sense in crying over spilled milk. I need a new plan. Without a stupid Vampire partner this time. Spike better make sure he’s out of town before I get the chance to go after him or he’s dust.

Well, B, the game has changed. Now the Scoobies know about me. Now you know I’ve been leading you on. I guess you were bound to find out sooner or later, but being as dense as you are, I really expected it to be later.

So I’m not a Slayer, huh? Shows what you know, Giles! I may have suffered a setback, but I’m far from finished.

This isn’t over.

Part 9

Today I am eighteen years old. An adult, or so the law says. I never expected to feel all that different turning eighteen, but I was wrong. Very wrong.

I’m no longer the Slayer. At least for the moment. Giles told me it would only be temporary. He slipped me a drug that turned my muscles to jelly and made about as strong as I look, which isn’t a whole lot. Especially when you’re locked into a house with a serial killer Vampire who has kidnapped my mother.

I only got away from him by sheer luck. God, I can’t believe this is happening. Not Giles of all people. How could he do this to me? How could he endanger me and my mother this way? I don’t understand it.

Angel is not here. The Scoobies are not here. My strength is gone. I don’t know what to do. How can I beat this guy? He almost killed me already and I can’t get out. Mom is here and unless I can kill Kralik she is dead, too. As I will be if he catches me.

Giles betrayed me.

“Tough, isn’t it?”

I hear your voice, hear it for the first time in months. I thought you were gone after what happened in that alley. I turn around and find you standing behind me, leaning against the wall, your arms crossed, smiling.

“Faith!” I mutter your name.

“You haven’t forgotten me. I can’t help myself. I’m touched.”

Last time we met you tried to have me killed. Are you here to finish the job? Or do you want to watch again? Watch Kralik kill me like Spike almost did. I thought you were my friend and you betrayed me. Just like Giles.

“You’re in big trouble, B,” you say as you walk toward me, “locked into a house with an insane serial-killer Vampire, no powers, betrayed by your Watcher. I wonder how you’re gonna get out of this.”

“Like you care!” I snarl at you.

“Oh, but I do care,” you say as you stand directly before me, your hand touching my shoulder, “B, I would never want anything bad to happen to you, don’t you know that?”

“Could’ve fooled me.”

What are you playing at, Faith? I no longer have my strength, so if you want to kill me, get it over with! I can’t fight you like this. I can’t fight Kralik this way. Damn it, I’m helpless.

“I can help you, B! More than that, I want to help you. Didn’t I save you before, when you tried to end it all? Didn’t I help you deal with the pain when we were in LA? Didn’t I tell you that you needed to come back to Sunnydale?”

“Why did you just watch when Spike almost killed me? Why did you lie to me about being a Slayer? Who are you?”

You shake your head as if I’m asking dumb questions. I wish I could wring your neck right now. I wish I could fight you.

“You don’t understand, B! Kralik will be here in a few minutes. He will kill you. The only way out for you, for your mom, is for you to let me help. Either that or you’re both dead.”

You are standing so close that I can feel the heat trailing off your skin. You are not a Vampire, but I knew that much before. I saw you in sunlight, I touched you and you were warm. What are you? How come you’re as strong as me, maybe stronger?

“I’m your friend, B!” You whisper. “You know that. I kept you alive when you wanted to kill yourself. You never told the others about that, ain’t I right? Because you know they wouldn’t understand. But I do, B! I do understand you, better than anyone else. You’ll just have to let me help and everything will be all right again.”

I want to. God, how much I want to let you back into my life. Having you close made me feel good. You made the pain go away, you always put everything into perspective for me. But why did you betray me? Why does everyone betray me over and over again?

I can hear Kralik’s heavy footsteps close by. I can hear his taunting voice, calling me out. I can’t fight him. Not alone. Not like this.

“Let me help!” You whisper into my ear and I can feel my resolve break. I don’t want to die. God, I don’t want to die!

“Help me!” I ask you and a big smile spreads on your face.

“You only needed to ask!”

*               *               *

I have to thank you, Giles. Putting B through this stupid test was just what the doctor ordered for Yours Truly. No one knows you like I do, B. I know how very afraid you are of death, especially now that you have no hope of meeting Angel on the other side. It took the complete loss of hope to make you consider suicide and even then you didn’t really want to go through with it.

Kralik is finished. It wasn’t easy, he’s a tough customer, but together the two of us are unbeatable. Holy water and a little trickery, that’s all we needed. You might have gotten him on your own, B, if you hadn’t been so afraid. So confused by being betrayed.

Giles tries to explain himself, but you don’t listen. Against your own better judgement you have let them into your heart once more and they stabbed you in the back all over again. How often can you forgive them, B? How often can you rebuild your trust in them when they continue to shatter it?

Giles is fired. Too bad, you no longer have a Watcher. What a shame. Then again, how could he continue to be your Watcher? There has to be a certain amount of trust between Slayer and Watcher. There is no longer any between the two of you. Never again.

Angel wasn’t there. When you needed him, when you needed his strong arms the most, he was not there. No one came to help you, B. No one but me.

You still don’t know who I am? Shame on you. You still don’t know what I want? Tough luck. The only thing that matters is that you need me, B. Now you know, I hope. You won’t get rid of me again. I’m here to stay.

You won’t tell your friends about my return, I know that. You’re too scared I will go away again. Leave you alone the next time you can’t make it on your own and none of your friends are there to help. There will be a next time, do not doubt that! There is always a next time.

For the moment I am content with the way things are. We will grow much closer, though, you and I. Just wait and see.

I have only just begun.

Part 10

Ah, it has been a good few months, hasn’t it, B? Just you and me, doing what we do best. Slaying Vampires, having fun, reveling in who we are. Dancing, hunting, fighting, partying, that’s real life for you.

Of course there are still your friends. Some of them at least. The rift between you and Giles hasn’t healed and it never will. Willow and Xander, your best friends, they are trying to smooth over the waves, which makes you distant with them as well. We spend more and more of your time together, to hell with the rest of the world.

Then there is Angel.

Oh well, can’t all be winners. He is worried about you, isn’t he? Apart from me I guess he is the one that knows you best. He can see the changes in you and he is worried. You are not, though. You see how much fun we have, how good it is to just cut loose and live, that you are no longer worried about me.

Everyone is still looking for a girl called Faith, pretending to be a Slayer. You haven’t told them we are back together and they will never find me. Fuck, even if they did, what could they possibly do? I am stronger than all of them combined. Together, B, we are unstoppable.

Unfortunately your new attitude hasn’t changed your feelings toward Angel. You still want to jump his bones, your skin aching for contact with him, your will holding you back, knowing it can never happen. Angel is playing the noble monk, which is infuriating you. By now you’re almost convinced that it would hurt less if he’d never come back from Hell. At least then you would know there is a good reason for the two of you not being together.

The reason now is, of course, the safety of the world. But what has that got to do with you?

Well, whatever. It’s a hot night in good old Sunnyhell. Some demons came to town with the express purpose of opening the Hellmouth. Sisters of something, that’s what they are called. The Hellmouth actually is starting to open and you are working with the others, even Giles, to make sure it doesn’t happen.

Me? I just do whatever butt kicking comes along.

Case in point: One of the rare occasions I am patrolling without you, B. You need your rest, girl, you have been a little too active as of late. Always out late, partying, fighting, so you get some rest before the big fight while I pick up the strays.

Sisters of something. Wish I could remember their name, but I don’t really care. There are many of them and they are strong. Which is just what the doctor ordered. Butt kicking. Lots of it. They are surrounding me and I can dish out without worrying about anything but the kicking and punching.

I can feel the blood pumping through my body, the adrenaline is flowing, shudders running through my body as I drive feet and fists into demon flesh and feel it give beneath me. B, how could you ever consider giving this up? Be thankful I came along!

Still, there are quite a lot of them right now. Maybe too many. I wonder how I’m gonna get out of this one.

Screeching tired and suddenly a red car barrels over some of the sisters and comes to a stop beside me. I look at the driver and my eyes widen in surprise. Xander? Xander in a leather jacket and driving a car? What is this, the Twilight Zone?

“Hop in, quickly!” He yells.

The sisters are coming again and I decide that dying here will serve little purpose. After all, what would you do without me, B? Besides, Xander actually looks yummy in that outfit, I have to say. I wonder why you never took advantage of him, B.

He hits the pedal and the car screeches away from the sisters, who howl in protest upon losing their prey. Well, seeing as at least half their number are lying dead on the ground, maybe they’re just thankful.

I look at Xander beside me and I realize that he has no idea who he just rescued. No idea at all. Just playing the White Knight again, coming along to safe the maiden from the dragons. He has never met me so far, after all. He doesn’t know Faith, only the little tidbits you have told her friends, B.

This could be fun.

“Are you all right?” He asks, his eyes checking out my body. Not for wounds, I believe.

“Just a few bruises. Don’t worry about it, my hero.”

He smiles and turns his eyes back to the street just in time to avoid hitting another car. Fuck, he really is cute. And for once not looking like he dressed in the dark. Possibilities, B. You know what I’m saying?

“Pull over there!” I point to the motel where I’m crashing during my free time. He looks confused, but complies. I jump out of the car and walk toward my room. Xander is on my heels, as expected.

“Wouldn’t you … wouldn’t you rather I drive you home?” He asks.

“A possibility,” I say, smiling a wicked smile at him, “but I think this place is better for what I have in mind.”

He looks confused, so I just motion for him to follow me into the room. Taking off my jacket I turn around to look at him, looking all young and yummy. No Angel, that’s for sure, but for tonight he will do. This will spice up life a little, don’t you think, B?

I walk closer to him, our bodies almost touching, and enjoy the way he fidgets under my stare.

“Uum, what are we …”

“Just shut up, Xander!”

I grab him and throw him on the bed, moving up to straddle his waist before he has a chance to protest. I pull open his leather jacket and rip the buttons off the shirt he’s wearing. He makes a noise of protest that dies in his throat as I pull off my top and he gets a look at my nude breasts.

“Like what you see?” I smile down at him, enjoying the deer-caught-in-headlights look in his eyes. I can do anything with him and he will even enjoy most of it.

“I ... I ...” he stutters.

I pull down his pants and zip open my own, touching my bare skin to his. His hands fly to my breasts almost on their own, Xander looks totally overwhelmed by it all. I bow down to plant a wet kiss on his lips and after a moment I can feel his tongue reacting, rising to the challenge.

Feeling his flesh beneath me, feeling his growing hardness slide into me, I know that I’m winning. And just to make sure that things will move along nicely I do something that is sure to make your life and mine much more interesting, B.

I lean down again, pressing my breasts into his face, clawing my fingers into his hair, and whisper into his ear.

“Call me Faith!”

I can feel him tense beneath me, so I clench around his shaft and throw him into his first orgasm of the night. I don’t think he will think about what he just heard until morning at the earliest. He screams, the sound and feelings throwing me across the edge as well. Shivers of pleasure run down my spine as he screams my name.

Well, not exactly my name. But that will come soon enough.

Part 11

What is it with Xander lately? I’m not sure whether it’s the new sense of dress he has developed or that strange look he always gets in his eyes when we are together. He looks at me as if there’s something he wants to talk about, but doesn’t know how to approach.

“You’re thinking again!” You admonish me playfully.

I look at you, walking beside me, and try to figure out my feelings. Ever since I asked you for your help on my birthday you have been there, always at my side, always close. Except when the others are around. You still don’t allow them to see you.

Why haven’t I told them about you? I mean, I did tell them about you, that you didn’t help me fight Spike, but I could just tell them that it was a mistake, a misunderstanding. You saved me from Kralik, you have been helping me fight ever since. Why don’t you want them to know you’re here?

“It’s a bad habit, I know. I can’t seem to break it, though.”

There is so much to think about. The new Watcher is a stiff idiot, but at least he’s not Giles. Giles. I still can’t believe he did what he did. Willow and Xander want me to at least try and forgive him, but how can I? After everything that happened, after letting him into my heart again, he stabbed me in the back. How can I ever trust him again?

“Come on, B!” You try to cheer me up. “We took out an entire nest of Vampires earlier today and now we got this big demon thingie Angel told you about. Let’s work some of the stress out of your skinny body!”

“I’m not skinny!” I protest.

We both laugh. Being with you is so easy, Faith. So comfortable. None of the pain, none of the awkwardness I feel whenever I’m around the others. I still don’t know who you really are, but somehow it doesn’t matter to me. It doesn’t matter at all while I feel so very good around you.

We make our way toward the abandoned warehouse where Angel told us the demon is hiding. Balthazar, I think was the name. Who cares what it calls itself? We’re just going to dust it. While we walk through the alleys I find myself lost in thought once more.

“Thinking about Angel again?” You ask me.

“Among other things, yes. He has been so distant as of late. I thought after that affair with the First Evil things would be all right between us, but it still feels like he doesn’t … doesn’t want me anymore.”

“I know someone else who definitely does want you!” You giggle.


“Xander, of course!”

I shake my head, smiling.

“Xander has had a crush on me since we first met, but I think he’s gotten over it.”

“You sure about that?”

I look at you and that gleam in your eyes tells me you’re up to something again.

“What are you talking about, Faith?”

You shrug, trying to look innocent. It’s not something you’re good at, Faith.

“Spill it!” I urge you.

“Well, when I met him a few nights ago …”

“You met him?”

“Chill, B! He didn’t know it was me. Your friends never saw me, remember?”

I don’t like this. I don’t like this at all. I just know this isn’t gonna be good, whatever you’re gonna say next.

“So anyway, we were doing the dirty and …”

“You did what?” With Xander? You and Xander? No, that’s just not possible.

“Chill, B! I know you’re not growing hot and bothered for anyone but Angel, but a girl sometimes needs a little distraction, you know? It’s not like I’m gonna marry him or something. We just had sex.”

They had sex? Faith and Xander? I can’t … no, that’s just too …

“He was screaming your name when he came!”

You couldn’t have gotten a better reaction with a hard slap, Faith! First you inform me that you slept with Xander and now you’re telling me that he … he was thinking of me while he … God, what is going on here?

“Could make a girl really jealous.” You remark when I can’t think of anything to say.

“You …” I manage after a while, “you didn’t tell him your name, did you? I mean, he doesn’t know who you are, right?”

“Well, I didn’t introduce myself before we hit the sheets.”

I sigh in relief.

“But I think I remember telling him just before he first came.”

My head snaps around to look at you again.

“Are you mad?” I yell. “My friends have been looking for you for months now and you go sleep with Xander and tell him your name?”

Before you have a chance to reply the night suddenly turns alive around us. Vampires, at least half a dozen of them. We fall into our fighting rhythm, no more thinking about friends or sex. No time for that. We’re fighting for our lives and that’s the important thing right now.

The fight passes us by in a blur and suddenly we’re alone again, the only sound that of settling dust. I look at you again, all flush with the heat of battle and grinning so broadly it threatens to split your face in two.

“How could you be so stupid?” I yell at you.

Suddenly there is another sound. Someone else is close. We both tense, hearing it. Directly ahead. Moving forward without making a sound we see a shadow on the wall. Thought and action become one. I grab the figure suddenly appearing in front of me and throw it against a nearby garbage container.

You leap toward the prone figure and drive your stake into its chest. Too easy. I think the Vamps are starting to slip. Why isn’t he turning to dust already? Is that … blood?

“My God!” I hear myself mutter as I crouch down beside the man. A man. Not a Vamp. Alive. A human being. Blood is pumping from the gaping hole in his chest and he’s looking at me with a look of total surprise.

A moment later he is gone. The eyes are still open, but no one is looking out of them anymore. He’s gone. There is blood on my hands. Human blood.

“Tough luck.” I hear you say behind me. My entire body is rigid with shock. How could this happen? We aren’t supposed to kill humans.

“Come on, B! We have to get out of here!”

“But … but we … we killed him. He’s human … he …”

“He is dead. Wrong place, wrong time! Now let’s get out of here!”

I’m too much in shock to do anything but go along as you drag me out of that alley, away from something that can’t have been a living, breathing human being. It just can’t. We are the Slayers. We don’t kill humans. We just don’t. It’s not even possible.

There is still blood on my hands. So much blood.

“Stop, Faith!” I scream, throwing off your hand that dragged me along. I look at you and you just look back, not looking any different than before. Doesn’t this touch you?

“We have to … we have to tell someone!”

“Yeah,” you mock me, “hi, officer. We were looking for some Vampires and this poor fellow got into the way, so we staked him. I’m sure you understand. They’ll lock us up in the lunatic ward faster than you can say ‘nutcase’!”

“But … but we killed a man, Faith! We can’t just leave him there and …”

“Why not? I’m sure he doesn’t mind.”

I’m speechless. You’re behaving like it doesn’t matter at all.

“I have to tell the others.”

“The others, yeah? Who? Giles, who stabbed you in the back? Your new Watcher, that stiff idiot? Your friends, whom you lied to about me all these months? Your mom, whom you hardly talk to anymore? Who’re you gonna talk to, B? Who will understand what happened here today?”

I shake my head. No, I can’t just let this pass me by.

“I have to tell them. Faith, we have to tell them. I can’t keep your presence a secret any longer. Not after what you … what we just did.”

You just shrug.

“Fine! Go tell your friends all about me! Tell them what happened! See how they will react! But don’t come crying back to me and say I didn’t warn you!”

With those final words you’re gone, vanished into the darkness. I gather my resolve, what little there is of it. I have to tell the others. I’ve let this go much too far.

God, there is so much blood on my hands.

Part 12

When I arrive at the High School I’m surprised to find that everyone is there. Angel, Willow, Xander, Giles, Wesley, Oz, even Cordelia. I could hear their voices from outside, but now everyone is quiet and looking at me.

Why do I get the feeling they were talking about me?

Angel’s eyes catch mine and the worry I find there chills me to the bone. His eyes travel lower and I realize that my hands are still covered in blood.

“Buffy? You all right?” Willow asks, moving as if to come closer, then deciding against it. Why do they all look at me this way? Do they … do they know what happened?

“I’m … I’m okay, this … this isn’t my blood.”

I try to wipe my hands clean on my pants, but that only manages to stain the leather. It won’t come off. It just won’t come off.

“Tell us what happened!” Wesley says, his voice sounding neither whining nor pompous for a change. He sounds deeply worried, though.

“Something … I have to tell you. I ... I kept something from you. All of you.” I look at Angel. “Again.”

No one is saying anything, just looking at me. I can’t meet their gazes and study the floor.

“It’s … it’s about Faith.”

I can see Xander flinch from the corner of my eye. Apparently you told me the truth, Faith, why else would he look at me this way? God, I can’t believe he slept with you. Is it also true that he screamed my name?

“She … she came back when … on my eighteenth birthday. She helped me defeat Kralic and so I ... I started hanging out with her again. We went on patrol together, we went to parties.”

“You didn’t tell us.” Angel says, never taking his eyes off me. Giles is keeping in the background and the bare mention of my birthday seems to make him feel miserable. Good. He deserves every bit of it.

“No, I ... I didn’t. I’m not sure why, I just … I don’t know. It felt so good to hang with her again. So right. She understands me, she helped me when no one else was there.”

Angel moves a step forward and I have to hold myself back from falling into his arms.

“You said you first met Faith in LA. Under what circumstances?”

“What has that got to do with anything? I’m talking about tonight. Tonight Faith and I ... we …”

“What did you do?” Wesley asks, paler than I’ve ever seen him.

“We were going after that demon Angel told us about. Some Vampires ambushed us in an alley and we fought. We thought we’d gotten them all, but then we both sensed someone else. We attacked, I threw him against the wall and Faith … she staked him. Only it ... it wasn’t …”

“It wasn’t a Vampire.” Angel states. “That is human blood on your hands.”

“Yes.” I say, my voice barely audible. Stunned silence falls over the room.

“We need to handle this somehow,” Wesley says after a long moment, “we need to make sure this accident can not be traced back to you, Buffy.”

“Me? Wesley, didn’t you listen? It wasn’t me. It was Faith! She staked him. I didn’t even see the guy properly.”

Angel comes closer and puts a hand on my shoulder. Only now do I realize I’m trembling. God, why do they keep looking at me this way?

“Buffy, please! Tell us how you first met Faith! We need to know everything if we’re to help you!”

“What are you talking about? Faith is the one who needs help. She killed a human and doesn’t even feel guilty about it. She just shrugged and said tough luck!”

“Buffy,” Giles begins, nervously cleaning his glasses, “if we are to … to find this … Faith, then we … we need to know everything about her. How you met, what you did together, everything.”

I’m about five seconds away from exploding. How dare Giles tell me what I have to do? After what he … Angel gently drapes his arms around me and I can feel myself growing calmer. Right, Faith. We need to find you. You need help.

“Okay. Sure. When I was in LA after … after sending Angel … I was miserable. All broken pieces. Nothing seemed to make sense anymore and I was hurting so much. Every day seemed to be harder than the next one, just waking up took more than I wanted to give.”

I sigh. I never told them this, but maybe they deserve to hear it.

“Then one night I wanted to kill myself.” Everyone falls silent, staring at me in shock. “I had a knife and was about to slice my own wrists. Only it didn’t happen. Faith appeared and held me back.”

Giles and Angel are looking at each other. I can almost feel some sort of silent communication between them. What is going on here?

“After meeting her … it got easier. The pain didn’t go away, but she helped me push it aside. We went out slaying, partying, and for brief moments I didn’t feel anything. Then she convinced me to go back to Sunnydale.”

I tell them the entire story. Our talks, our going hunting together, everything. It comes pouring out of my mouth and I no longer care whether you like it or not, Faith! You killed someone and you don’t even see that it’s wrong. I’m not like that. I can never be like that.

Again there are those significant looks exchanged between Angel and Giles.

“What were you guys talking about when I came in?” I remember them suddenly falling silent. Something is not right here and I shake off Angel’s arms. “What is going on here?”

“Buffy,” Willow comes closer, “it’s good … good that you told us. Don’t you … don’t you think you should take it a bit easy now? Just a good night’s sleep and we can talk about what we’ll do about … about Faith tomorrow.”

“No, Will! You don’t know Faith! When I told her that we had to tell someone about this, she just laughed. I need to find her before she does something stupid. You have to help me find her.”

Again with the looks.

“What is wrong with you?” I yell at them. “You’re behaving like you don’t believe me. Faith is dangerous, we have to find her!”

I see the uncertain expression on their faces and turn to Xander.

“Xander, you met her! She told me that you … you and she, I mean … well, what do you think? Couldn’t you tell that she is dangerous?”

“Buffy, I ...” he starts, but then falls silent. Is he embarrassed that he slept with you? Willow is looking at him, but there is none of the outrage I expected. Did she know? Did he tell her? Why didn’t he tell me? He had to think I was still looking for you. Why didn’t he tell me he saw you?

“Xander, what is happening here? Why didn’t you tell me about your little nightly encounter with Faith? Why are you all looking at me as if I was insane?”

I realize that I’m screaming, but I don’t care. Someone died tonight and they don’t seem to listen to me. We have to find you, Faith, don’t they see that?

“Buffy, please,” Angel comes closer again, “just wind down a little, please! We’ll handle this.”

“By standing around and giving me funny looks?” I yell at them, moving away from Angel.

“Buffy, let us help you!” Giles says.

“You’re the last one I need help from!” I scream at him. “Where were you when Kralic tried to eat me and my mom? Where were you when I had to kill Angel and send him to Hell? None of you were there to help me when I needed you. It’s always just me helping you, me sacrificing everything to save this fucking world. And what happens on those few occasions when I need help? I’m stabbed in the back over and over again!”

I look at all of them, seeing the shocked expressions on their faces. Can’t take the truth, is that it? You were right, Faith! You are wrong about the killing, but you were right about my friends.

Angel is reaching for me again, but I understand now. They can’t help me. They won’t. All of them, even Angel, will never be able to understand me. I need to find you, Faith. Somehow I have to salvage this situation, we can help each other. We don’t need anyone else.

Together the two of us are unstoppable.

Part 13

Sitting in my motel room I chuckle to myself. B, oh B! Did you really think your friends would understand you? Stupid girl. Then again, what else did I expect? Everyone else has already figured it out, you are the only one who is still stumbling around in the dark.

Not too bright, B! Shame on you!

Ah, the choices a girl has to make. Now that the connection to your friends, even to your lover, is about to be severed forever, I guess I should make some plans for our future. Or make that my future. Where to go, what to see …

Someone knocks on the door.

Hm, I didn’t really plan on being found, but then again, I should have expected it. One of the Scoobies has been here before, after all. I open the door and the expected culprit stands outside. Xander. More surprising is the fact that he’s alone.

“Come on in, handsome!” I smile at him.

He walks into the room, unease radiating from him. I wouldn’t have expected him to have the guts for this. Or maybe he’s just an idiot. Yeah, probably.

“I thought I might find you here.” He says, looking at me.

“Great deduction, Sherlock. The better question is, what do you hope to accomplish here?”

He shakes his head.

“This can’t continue. Please, just let us help you!”

I move toward him, enjoying the slight trickle of fear I can see in his eyes.

“Xander, love, you completely misunderstand the situation, you know? I’m not the one that needs your help. Buffy needed you. Unfortunately you were never there when she needed you, isn’t that right?”

“Let’s just stop this …”

“What about that day Angel went to Hell, Xander?” He pales. “You came and told B that Willow said to kick Angel’s ass. Yet Willow performed the spell that gave Angel his soul back. Why would she do that if she wanted B to kick his ass?”

I sit down on his lap, draping my arms around his neck.

“What do you think B would do to you if she ever figured that out? I mean, granted, she is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but sooner or later she might get it. Or someone might tell her.”

“Buffy …” Xander begins.

“Buffy isn’t exactly the forgiving type, you know? Look at Giles! He endangered her mom and she still isn’t talking to him. You tricked her into killing her lover. You’d be a very lucky boy if never talking to you again is all she’ll do.”

He is shaking beneath me, his eyes staring into mine. I push him back onto the bed and move on top of him.

“Don’t worry, Xander! I’m not B! I won’t kill you for being a jealous idiot.”

I cross my arms on his chest and rest my chin on them, my face just inches away from his. I can feel his quickening breath on my cheeks.

“Please, just let us help you!” Xander whispers.

“Once again, wrong person to offer. I guess you won’t learn, will ya? That’s okay. I have to tell you, though, I wonder what you hoped to accomplish by coming here on your own. Did you think the fact that I used you as my sex toy for one night might make me see the light when you talked to me?”

He shakes his head.

“Please stop this insanity!”

I laugh. Insanity? Well, maybe one could consider it insanity. I know you would, B! That is, if you knew what is going on here.

“There is no more stopping, Xander! It’s much too late for that. B has turned her back on you and the others. Thank you, by the way. You couldn’t have done a better job of helping me, all of you. Now it’s over. B will never trust any of you again. I’m the only one she has left. And soon I will be the only one left period.”

I rise to a sitting position, looking down at him.

“I guess you deserve a reward for being such a good little helper. Maybe a final fuck? I know you always dreamed of this, Xander. Want one more for the road?”

“Please …!” He begins.

My hands close around his neck, cutting off his words. He starts to struggle against me, but he is nowhere near strong enough.

“Now what does that remind me of?” I muse as he starts turning blue beneath me. “Oh yeah, that loser Scott Hope. I think the doctors said he will never wake up again. What do you think, Xander? Wanna bet whether you’ll ever wake up again?”

His fingernails dig into my arms, trying to dislodge my hands, but he might as well try to move a mountain. I bet you would like this, B! If you knew what he did, wouldn’t you like to do this? I think I’m doing you a favor here.

He looks very cute when he struggles, the feeling of him moving below me is intoxicating. I think I need to savor this one, so I let go of his neck for a moment, allowing him to catch his breath.

“Any last words?” I ask him sweetly.

“Just two,” he coughs, “come in!”

I can see his eyes move to the door and I know who’ll be there before I even see him. Angel crosses the threshold, two large steps carrying him to the bed. The last thing I see is his fist coming directly towards my face.

Then everything goes dark.

Part 14

Why does my head hurt so much? I feel like I got stone cold drunk, only I don’t remember drinking. There is a pounding somewhere in the back of my brain and it feels like my head’s gonna jump off my neck any moment now.

For some reason I can’t clutch my head with my hands.

I can feel cold metal press against my wrists, a hard stone floor beneath me. Was I asleep? I can’t remember going to sleep. My brain hurts. I manage to open my eyes and recognize the place.

Angel’s mansion. I have barely opened my eyes when the memories start pouring in. Akathler. The sword. Angel tumbling into away from me into Hell. Keeping him chained here while he recovered. Chained? I’m chained to the wall. Chained in the very same place I kept Angel.

What is going on here?

“Rough day, B?”

I look to the side and there you are. Sitting right beside me, chained to the wall just like I am, but with a smug smile on your face.

“Faith? What is going on here? What happened? How did we end up here?”

“Having trouble remembering, B? Fancy that.”

Before I can figure out what you’re talking about the door to the living room opens and the gang comes marching in. Angel, Giles, Wesley, Willow, Xander, Oz, Cordelia. All of them. My first impulse is to feel relieved that they?re here, but then I realize that none of them is making a move to unchain me.

“She’s awake.” Angel just says, looking at me.

“Buffy?” Willow asks, her voice sounding uncertain.

“No, I’m Drusilla! What the Hell is going on here? Did you chain me up like this? It’s not funny!”

“I think it is.” You remark. I glare at you, only then realizing that no one is even looking your way. They are all staring at me.

“Buffy,” Giles sighs, “I wish this wasn’t necessary, but …”

“But what? Giles, is this another one of the Council’s stupid tests? Didn’t you put me through enough?”

“The Council does not know about any of this yet,” Wesley says, looking somber, “if they did, I’m not sure how they would react.”

“Why are you all looking at me?” I scream at them. “I didn’t do anything. Faith is the one who killed that guy in the alley and she is sitting right here! Why aren’t you questioning her?”

They all keep looking at me. Why are they behaving as if you’re not even here? I can see you shaking your head, stifling a laugh.

“What’s so fucking funny, Faith?” I scream at you. From the corner of my eyes I can see the others flinch.

“You are, B! I can’t believe you still don’t get it!”

“Get what?” I scream at her.

“Stop this, Buffy!” Angel says, coming closer. “Please, just stop this!”

“Wicked!” You whisper. “If he comes just a little closer you can jump him despite the chains and fuck his brains out.”

Angel’s eyes are glued to mine and the pain I see inside them is almost too much to bare. I can see he doesn’t want to do this, so why is he doing it? I don’t understand this. You are laughing beside me, laughing so loud I want to cover my ears, yet no one seems to hear it.

“Buffy, you have to come to terms with what you did.” Willow whispers from behind Angel. What I did? What is she talking about?

“I didn’t do anything!” I scream at them. “Okay, I lied to you about Faith, but …”

“I?m afraid it’s hopeless, Mr. Giles.” Wesley says. “She needs professional help. We have to call the Council.”

“You know what they will probably do to her.” Giles whispers.

I need help? What has the Council got to do with anything? What the fuck are they talking about? I can see my friends stare at me with horror in their eyes and I don’t understand it. Do they think I did it? Do they think I killed that guy? Why don’t they look at you, Faith?

I look at Angel again. He loves me. He knows me. He has to understand.

“Angel, please! It’s Faith, she …”

Suddenly his hands shoot forward, digging into my shoulders hard enough to bruise, pulling me closer until we are nearly nose to nose.

“Stop this, Buffy!” He screams. “Stop telling me that Faith did this and Faith did that. There is no Faith! Do you understand me? THERE IS NO FAITH!”

“But …” I begin, his words not registering. How can he not see you? You’re sitting right here. Then I see you moving beside me. There are no more chains holding you. Where did the chains go? You just rise, kneeling down beside me, looking into my eyes. One of your hands is resting on Angel’s shoulder, yet he doesn’t react. What is …?

“What’s the matter, B?” You ask me, your lips curving into a smile. “See someone you know?”

I look at you, but no one else sees you. No one else even knows you’re here. I try to remember a single instance in which someone has talked to you, in which anyone has acknowledged your presence beside me.

I can’t think of any. Not one.

“Amazing!” You whisper. “It actually looks like something is moving inside that brain of yours.”

You’re not real. You’re not here.

“Something beside me, that is!” You laugh.

I’m looking at you. And all I see is myself.

Part 15

I’m looking at you, Faith, and suddenly it all becomes clear.

We’re in Los Angeles and I’m about to kill myself. You appear, sitting down on the bed, bending the iron railing with your hand to show me that you’re a Slayer like me. From the corner of my eye I can see the mirror hanging above the small cupboard on the other side of the room and there is only one person sitting on the bed. My own hand is bending the railing, then putting the knife away.

Back in Sunnydale I brush Scott Hope away, not interested in his advances. On that same night, though, you are calling him, my voice speaking into the receiver, inviting him into your motel room, throwing him on the bed and fucking his brains out. I’m sitting astride his body, riding him, seeing my own face reflected in his eyes as he comes and screams my name. Not Faith. Buffy.

Angel has come back and you are furious. You don’t want him here, because you’re afraid his return will destroy my need for you. You fear it will end your existence. In your fury you call Scott to your bed again and then my hands close around his neck, choking the life out of him, while my lips curve into a smile.

I’m leaving school to visit Angel and for a brief moment my lips move, speaking your words, reaching Xander’s ears. You make him follow us to Angel’s mansion and when me and Angel are lost in our kiss, a side glance with my eyes shows you Xander, standing outside and watching with rage visible on his face.

In Willy’s bar you talk to the snitch, but he is always looking at me, only talking to me. In the mirror behind the bar there is only me, not you. Only one body flies out the window when I think we’re both thrown through it. Only one body hits the street in a puddle of beer, blood, and glass shards, one mouth laughing like crazy and talking to itself.

You are sitting in the Bronze, talking to Spike. He is amused that I’m calling myself Faith, but plays along when you propose a little play-acting for Angel’s sake. He thinks I want him to beat me up so Angel can ride to my rescue, when all you really planning is for me to beg you for help.

When the fight happens you’re holding me back and I’m sluggish, barely able to fight while Spike thinks I’m just playing along. You’re waiting for me to plead, planning to stake Spike as soon as I give in. Only Angel arrives too early, Spike thinks the plan worked and leaves, probably off to reclaim Drusilla like you told him, not before blowing me a kiss.

Caught and alone in Kralic’s house, my desperation gives you a new opening. I’m begging for your help and you take over again, beating Kralic and saving my … our life. I guess you didn’t lie to me. You really want to help me, because if I die then you’re dead as well.

I always awake tired and not the least bit rested because I don’t go to sleep anymore. I go out to party with you in the driver’s seat, using my body to dance, fuck, and fight, enjoying your life without my knowing about it.

Xander! He sees me fighting demons and comes to my rescue, not knowing that it’s not me. When you drag him to your room it must feel like a dream come true for him. He’s had a crush on me for so long and here I am, throwing him on the bed to mount him. Only it’s not me. When you use my voice to tell him to call me by your name, he’s confused. He doesn’t talk to me about it because he thinks he slept with me. God, he did sleep with me.

In the dark alley I’m fighting Vampires, imagining a ghost fighting by my side, yet there is no one else. I think my slaying is slipping because I need your help when faced with numbers I should be able to handle by myself. And I do. I’m fighting alone, thinking you’re there to help me.

Then I hear another sound and we both spring into action. I grab the man that suddenly appeares before me and throw him against the trash container, then you kill him when my hand drives my stake into his heart. The blood is on my hands and you just laugh, daring me to tell my friends about you. About Faith. My eyes saw that Angel was nearby, saw me kill, yet I never saw him. I never know he was there. Only you.

I’m running from the school, but it’s you that arrives at the motel room, you that Xander finds when he comes looking for me. He tries to help me and you almost kill him. Angel throws his fist into my face and knocks us both unconscious. One body in chains, but we are both prisoners here.

I look into your face and all I see is myself.

“This is not possible!” I whisper.

“Isn’t it?” You ask me. “Face it, B! You couldn’t handle your life, couldn’t handle being the Slayer. I can, though. I am what you want to be.”

“No! I’m not like you!” I scream at her.

“Oh, that would be quite a trick! Thinking about it, though, you’re right. You’re not like me. I’m like you. Like you wanted me to be. Poor, innocent Buffy doesn’t kill humans. Poor, innocent Buffy doesn’t go out drinking, dancing, fucking. But Faith does! I do!”

This can’t be happening. Maybe … maybe you’re some kind of demon that took over my body. An apparition like the ones the First Evil conjured up to drive Angel nuts. This is the Hellmouth, such things happen here.

“You’d like that, don’t ya?” You smirk. “Would be far easier to believe. Some kind of demon did all those things, Buffy. Not you, no way! No way can something like me spring from your mind!”

You crouch down beside me as my friends watch me. Do they see something? Can they hear me talking to you? To myself?

“Come on. B! You saved the world. You did the duty. Now it’s time for you to rest. Just go to sleep. I will take care of you, don’t worry about it!”

I know what you’re doing! You’re me and you want to be me 24/7. Take over for good. No, that will never happen! It won’t! I won’t allow it!

Every muscle in my body surges with energy and the chains that hold me snap. Everyone is flinching back, everyone except Angel who moves in to do … what? Help me? Chain me up again? You don’t give him the chance and snap kick him in the face. He falls to the ground and I know that I struck him down.

“There is some fight left inside you, it seems!” You yell, flush with excitement.

“I won’t become you!” I yell, trying to grab you. My hands close around your neck and I can feel my fingers bruise my own flesh.

“Much too late for that, B!” Your fist hits me in the face and those are my knuckles hurting even as blood sprouts from my nose. I kick you in the belly and fold over with the pain myself, even as you stumble back. This is insane! I’m fighting myself here!

Your forearm catches me across the throat and we collide with the stone wall, my own flesh pressing itself into the hard concrete. I see your arm pressing down on my throat, choking me, but I can feel the pressure on my own arm, feel the tension in my own muscles. My vision flickers and you’re gone, instead I see my own hands choking me.

“You can’t win, B!” Your nonexistent breath touches my cheeks. “I’m you! I will never go away! You’re too weak to fight me! You need me!”


I shake you off, shake off whatever hold you have over me, and run away from the mansion, out into the night.

“You can’t run from me!” I hear your screams and recognize the voice as my own. “I’m you!”

“No, you’re not!”

Part 16

How can I run from something that isn’t real? How can I defeat someone who only exists inside my own head? If you were a demon I could exorcise you, Faith, but you aren’t. I remember the day you were born and I know why.

Everything seemed over. Angel was gone and might as well have tumbled down into Hell with him. My life was finished, I wanted to die, and so I put a knife to my own wrists. Yet a part of me was afraid. A part of didn’t want to die. I wanted to escape from the Hell my life had become thanks to being the Slayer.

And so I became someone who would be a better Slayer than me.

“Glad you finally realize that I’m better!” You shout into my ears. Suddenly you are there again, running beside me. You’re not real. You’re not there!

“Of course I’m not there. I’m in here!” You throw a punch to my head and the fact that I know it to be my own fist doesn’t lessen the pain. I stumble and fall to the hard concrete of the street. This is insane. I’ve gone nuts!

“Nuts is so dirty a word! But fitting!”

“What are you trying to accomplish?” I scream at you. “Every time you hit me you’re hurting yourself as well!”

“I can take a little hurting!” You shrug. “Can you?”

Once again my own fist is hitting me in the face and I tumble against a nearby wall. I can see you, Faith, coming for me. You’re not real! If I can just get myself to realize that you’ll go away.

“Think so?” You smirk at me and land another punch that drives me to my knees, gasping for air through the pain of a broken rib.

“I’ll beat you to a bloody pulp, B! You’re gonna beg me to take over so you’ll no longer feel the pain!”

I hear your words and I realize what you’re saying. My lips start to spread in a smile and it’s my own this time.

“You can’t take over unless I let you! That’s why I always had to beg for your help. You can only come out when I want you to.”

Your boot catches me in the face and I can feel blood sprouting from my nose. I wonder how I managed to kick myself in the face. I think I’m starting to go into shock because I have to giggle thinking about how this has to look to someone watching me right now. Look here! The mad girl is beating herself up!

I feel your hands grabbing me, lifting me up against the wall. Your face is just inches away from mine. No, no it isn’t! Mustn’t forget! This isn’t real! None of it.

“It’s real enough, B!” You whisper to me. “And what if you’re right? It won’t make a difference. I know you, little girl. Who could possibly know you better? You can’t take this! You can’t take being the Slayer! It’s only a matter of time until you beg me to take over. You’ll be kissing my feet when I relieve you of all this pain.”

You throw me halfway across the street and I can feel another rib break as I impact against another wall. I can’t take this much longer. I know you will not kill me, but how can I fight against you when you’re not there? When every blow against you will only hurt me?

“Just give up, B! Time to kill the pain once and for all! I’ll be a much better Slayer than you ever could and you’ll finally find that pleasant numbness you were looking for so desperately.”

“No! You … you’re a murderer. You killed that guy in the alley. You almost killed Scott.”

“No, B! We did. We killed them. And there are other people we have to kill. You know, I got a much larger part of your brain than you do. Remember when Xander came to you on the day you sent Angel to Hell? How he told you that Willow wanted you to kick Angel’s ass? Funny, isn’t it? If she said that, why did she redo the curse?”

Xander? No! No, he wouldn’t do something like this! He wouldn’t. Just as Giles wouldn’t betray me? Just like my mother wouldn’t kick me out of my own home when I needed her the most? No! This is just not possible.

“See?” You ask me. “They all betray you. You’re just a glorified yard dog. No one cares about your feelings. No one cares what you want. They only want you around to save the world now and then. Between that you better be a good girl and do like you’re told!”

Tears are rolling down my cheeks. Is that all there is? Pain? Just because of this stupid destiny I never asked for?

“You don’t have to carry that burden any longer, B! I’ll do it gladly! Just lean back and enjoy the ride!”

The ride? Like you rode Scott Hope? Like you rode through that alley and killed that guy? No! Never!

I’m back on my feet, starting to run! I know I can’t run away from you, but neither can you run away from me, Faith! Wherever I go, you’ll have to follow me.

“What do you think you’re doing?” You scream with my own voice.

“You know me so well, don’t you? Just guess!”

I jump up the fire escape of a nearby building, quickly climbing up the ladders. You are right beside me, kicking and punching me, but those blows no longer mean anything. I’m doing this to myself and whatever happens to me will happen to you as well.


“B! No, you can’t do this!”

I reach the top of the building. Ten stories straight down. Should be enough. Has to be enough. I don’t have time to look for a better way. You are strong, Faith! In time you might overwhelm me. Not yet, though. Not yet!

“Tonight I’m still in charge!” I yell at you.

“You couldn’t go through with this the last time!” You yell back, grabbing me by my torn blouse. “You made me because you were too afraid to die! You’re too weak to do it!”

My own hands are clenched into your top, holding on to you. It feels so real, you feel so real, but you’re not. None of this is real. Except the fact that I made you. That I’m responsible for what you did. What I did. It was me! It was always me! And now it’s time to pay the price!

“I won’t allow it!” You scream, throwing a punch that almost knocks me unconscious. I manage to remain on my feet, stumbling towards the edge of the roof. You’re trying to hold me, trying to trip me, but you’re just a ghost. You have no power over me! And you never will!

I stand at the edge of the roof and you scream, running toward me. Yes! I throw a punch at your face, feeling the impact against my nose, and grab you by the hair. Momentum is with me and the next moment you find yourself flung over the edge, looking at me with wide eyes as you tumble down towards the unforgiving street.

You look up at me as you fall, I’m still standing at the edge of the roof. You’re falling and I’m up here. I blink. I’m falling and no one is standing on the roof. I can feel the wind rush past me and no one is there to watch me fall. No one at all.

No one but me.

Part 17


That’s pretty much all there is right now. Pain. Mind-numbing, skull-splitting pain. I’m surrounded by darkness and all I can feel is pain. Why can’t it stop? Is there anything but the pain? Did I ever not feel it? I don’t remember.

There was something about a fight. I fought someone and then she fell. Or did I fall? I’m not sure anymore. I remember seeing someone fall off a roof. I also remember falling myself, looking up at an empty roof. Which did happen? Did both?

“Well, here’s another fine mess …” I hear your voice. Suddenly I find myself standing in an empty street. The building I remember is right in front of us, we are not standing on the roof anymore, if we ever did. We are down in the street, you and I.

“What happened?” I ask you, confused.

“Why don’t you just look down?”

I do as you tell me and there is a body lying on the ground before us. It’s lying on the hard concrete, motionless, limps at impossible angles. It’s not moving. I’m not sure it’s even breathing. A pool of blood is slowly forming beneath the head of the body, which is lying face-down, the features hidden from view by strands of long, dark hair.

“Who is that?” I ask you, not understanding what I’m seeing.

“That’s the question, isn’t it?” You ask back.

You’re looking at me across the fallen body and your face is full of sadness. There is a trickle of blood running down from a gash on your forehead.

“You’re hurt.” Who hurt you?

“Yeah, that’s generally what happens when you’re thrown off a roof, B. Don’t think too much about it!”

I’ve forgotten something. I’m sure about that. There is like this big hole in my head and I’m sure something should be there. Something important.

“I think I got to leave now, B!” You tell me, coming over to touch my shoulder. The touch feels strange. Not real.

“You have to?” I ask you. Why are you leaving me?

“Afraid so. Not sure why, but that’s the way it is. Guess I’ll be seeing you, B!”

With that you are gone and all that’s left is the empty street and the body on the ground in front of me. Looking closer, I can see that it is still breathing, though there is a wet sound to it. It doesn’t sound very good. Not good at all.

I lean down. I need to know who this is and how I can help her. It’s a her? Yes, I’m quite sure it’s a woman. Dressed in leather pants and a black top. Long dark hair. Somehow that all sounds familiar.


Where did the body go? I don’t remember lying down. Why should I be lying down on cold concrete? It’s not very comfortable. There is pain. Pain all over, like a blanket covering me. Why does it hurt so much?

“My God!” Someone whispers. This isn’t a dream, is it? I try to move, but my limbs don’t obey me. What is happening here?

“Is she …?” Someone asks. There is the barest sensation of someone or something touching me. Where? Is there someone here?

“She’s alive. Barely. We need to get her to a hospital and fast!”

Hospital? No, I don’t want to. Hospitals are bad! I don’t want to go there. I hate the smell of hospitals. I hate the way the people are forced to ridicule themselves by wearing those gowns with the open backs. Why should I need to go to a hospital?

“Don’t move her! We could make it worse.”

“Buffy, can you hear me?”

I know that voice. There is a face to that voice somewhere. A handsome face, dark eyes, spiky hair. A name. Yes, sure. Angel. How could I forget? Where is he? Why can’t I open my eyes. Damn, why does it hurt so much?

“Buffy, if you can hear me, try to give me a sign. Move a finger, anything!”

His voice sounds urgent. Desperate. Is he afraid? Why should he be afraid? I decide to try and move a finger, since I can’t seem to work my mouth. Why can’t I move my lips? Why does breathing hurt so much?

“Thank God!” Angel whispers as I can feel him touch my fingers. I think I wriggled them a little, though I’m not sure. Why is it so hard to be sure about anything? Even thinking seems hard, hazy. Something wet is touching my face, something warm, sweet, and coppery. Blood? Where does blood come from?

“The ambulance will be here in five minutes.” Someone says. Xander? Is he here?

“Buffy!” Yet another voice. Giles? I think I’m mad at him, though I have trouble remembering why. “Buffy! Can you … can you hear me? Or … Faith?”

Faith? Where are you? I remember you saying that you had to go away. Why? I don’t remember why you left me. Remembering is hard. Thinking is hard.

“She’s gone!” I think I managed to say those words, though I’m not sure again.

I think I missed some minutes there, because the next thing I know there are hands touching me, moving me, and every little bit hurts. Someone turns me on my back and I can see fuzzy shapes leaning over me, asking me things, telling me to hang on.

Another cut and suddenly I’m in a room, no longer in the street. There are people in green gowns moving around me, their faces covered, only their eyes visible. I know this smell. Sterile. Industrial cleaners. A hospital. No! No, I don’t want hospitals! I want to get out!

Something presses against my arm and everything vanishes into darkness.

I’m sure some time has passed, but you couldn’t prove it by me. Light penetrates past closed eyelids and there are voices all around me.

“... need to be sure that no long-term damage …”

“She’s coming awake!”

I open my eyes and after a few moments I can recognize some of the figures around me. There is mom. Giles. Willow. Angel. A nurse? Right, this is a hospital, isn’t it? I know that smell.

“Buffy?” Mom asks me.

“Hi, guys!” I manage, though my mouth tastes like the Sahara desert.

“I’ll go get the doctor!” The nurse says and vanishes. Angel is standing at the other side of the bed from my mom, holding my hand.

“How are you feeling, Buffy?”

How am I feeling? Good question. I have no idea. There is that hole somewhere inside me, I can feel it. Something is missing there.

“Great!” I manage to produce a smile, I think. “Can we get out of here now?”

Mom gives me a smile, but Angel and Giles look worried. What are they worried about?

“Buffy.” Giles comes closer. Wasn’t I mad at him about something? “Do you … do you know where … where Faith is?”

I shake my head.

“She’s gone. She told me she’d have to leave now.”

“How much do you remember?” Angel asks. I realize there is a huge bandage around my head. Did I fall on it or something? Everything is so hazy.

“Not much!” I admit. “I ... I think something bad happened. Me and Faith, we … we were … fighting, I think. We were on this roof and then …”

My head hurts. Did I kill Faith? Did I throw her off the roof? Did we both go over? Well, I’m in the hospital, so I guess something must have happened.

“Did you find any trace of Faith? I think she fell off the roof, too.”

Angel and Giles exchange a glance, then Angel gives me his best half-smile and it makes me feel warm and safe. God, I’m tired.

“Just rest now, beloved,” he says, “everything will be fine.”

I believe him. Angel never lied to me. Did the others? I’m not sure anymore. Must have banged my head pretty badly. I’m drifting off to sleep and can hear Angel and Giles talking about calling a specialist or something.

Everything will be all right. Angel said so.

I believe him. The pain will go away.

*               *               *

There is a hospital room. It’s not a room in the strictest sense, more like a fictional image of a room, buried somewhere deep inside a mind that is desperately afraid of hospital rooms and what they represent. Sickness. Death. Emptiness.

In that room that is no room there is a bed. A bed with a single occupant. A girl, sleeping, dreaming the days away in this room that is less than a dream itself. Just like the machine that is attached to the sleeping girl, a crude image of what the mind this all takes place in imagines a life support monitor to look like.

The monitor that is not a monitor shows a green line. The line is even and straight, but every now and then it makes a sharp twist, warping into a spike, then levels out again. Every spike is accompanied by a loud beep, though there is no one around to hear it. This is, after all, but a dream. Less than one, actually, for the dreamer is not even aware that there is such a dream to be had here.

The girl on the bed does not move, except for the barely perceptible rise and fall of her chest. She is not breathing, of course. To breathe one would need to be real, which she isn’t. Not in the corporeal sense anyway.

The monitor gives off its steady beat. The girl sleeps and dreams, thinking of a life she almost had. There is a small cardboard sign fastened to the bed, the words “Do not disturb!” written on it with a red marker.

The room has no windows and no one comes to visit. There is only one person who might conceivably come for a visit to this place, and she does not know about it.

The girl smiles in her sleep. She has her dreams and maybe, just maybe, someday she will wake. Wake to find that the girl whose mind she is sleeping in will need her again. It’s little more than a slight chance, but she doesn’t mind.

After all, you must always have Faith.