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Author's Note: Of course, we haven't yet learnt when, why, or where Angel got his tattoo. Presumably, because of the A, he got it after he was turned, and, according to my research, the Japanese were the most highly skilled at the practice during that time. This script takes lines from Faith, Hope & Trick, Bad Girls and nothing from original canon episode; The Wish, which I return to in a later season. There is a line which eludes to a poem by Wilfred Owen and another to a play by Shakespeare, both of which are fairly recognisable. I introduce Faith now into the series, and Wesley, who arrives to become her first watcher. As for Faith, I have made her reasons for coming to Sunnydale more complex, and written the episode almost entirely from her perspective. Enjoy.

The Pryce of Faith.

There was no word for what they did to her. No word. One can imagine the terrible, scene, born out of nightmares; the initial encounter, surprise and sudden, despite preparation and wariness; followed by a pitched battle, in time desperate, on the brink of defeat, but nothing, not even imagination, prepares one for the intensity of the reality, the powerful feeling that this fight could be your last. Death is a possibility only realised when circumstances demand for it to be, when fear convinces you that there is no other way out, whatever you attempt.

Mortality is the norm; for everything can die, nothing is invulnerable. Youth is a victim just as much as age, time for both a non-dependable passage, uncertain in longevity. End comes in many forms, never planned, even when one decides or desires for sovereignty over it. Above all, there is a feeling of helplessness; inescapable knowledge which comes upon you simultaneously, telling you that there is nothing you can do to prevent this end from coming to pass, that you can only watch and wait, hoping in vain for the salvation you know will not follow.

For two women, this fate arrived unexpectedly during one previously ordinary night in Boston. While the routine of this night would seem anything but to those who had no knowledge of the old lie; in every generation there is a chosen one, she alone will stand against the vampires, demons and the forces of darkness, she is the slayer; it was routine which turned against the norm for these two poor and unfortunate souls, a mortal possibility realised only when it was already too late.

She watched a scene which she would never forget, a scene born out of nightmares and violence which would haunt her for the rest of her life, though she was certain too that said life would not last much longer. There were other things she could be certain of; like the impossibility of escape from the once human restraints who held her fast before their leader. How exactly the end of her life would come, and by whose means. A desire to close her eyes, as if darkness would shut out not just what was happening before her, but the sounds it produced, the screams, the mortal dread expressed in a voice exhausted by fear, incapable of anything beyond desperate pleas for salvation. But her own fear overwhelmed the want, forcing her to watch someone else play god, on a night and in a town where she was once in the assumption.

Violent thoughts have violent ends, but so do ones born out of fear, just as sudden and swift, or just as prolonged. The vampire brought his victim's neck to his mouth and drank, draining the life out of her as well as the blood which he needed for nourishment. When that need was sated, he withdrew, looking into the eyes of the other woman, currently restrained by his devoted minions. Making sure she observed the remains which dripped from his mouth, and the devil which came out to play in his ridged forehead, gleaming white fangs, and amber wolfish eyes.

"When you die," he growled, the words and tone echoing through the descending night, "the moment will live with you forever. For you will be the first slayer who was turned into a slave by the one thing she is meant to kill."

"No," Faith cried, even as the henchmen dragged her to their master. "Surely there's another way. You don't have to kill me to gain my alliance."

Kakistos curled his tongue around his fangs, his head slowly nodding as he realised the wisdom of her desperate plea. "You are right," he growled, "a loyal slayer would have true advantage over that of one turned." He loomed forward, placing his mouth by her ear. "This, my dear, is what you shall do."


"When did you get this?"


"This." Angel felt a slight pressure on his back, fingers which had previously been occupied in idly stroking skin, now froze in mid caress and increased their pressure, making their presence felt. "Buffy, honey, I can't see what you're pointing at." He reminded her.

Inwardly Buffy conceded the logic of her boyfriend's reply; for he was lying on his front upon the bed within the master suite of the Mansion on Crawford Street; where they retired after a non-eventful patrol. Not more than five minutes ago had they resumed conversation, surrendering before to desires which for three weeks since were now natural, comfortable, and above all, bliss. The permanence of Angel's soul, together with his talisman dependent immunity to the sunlight's mortal power, and their mutual resolution for honesty all provided a strength and longevity to their relationship which before this year they had never known, only dreamed was possible. Together they learned the art of loving each other, talking with each other of their past joys or regrets, and their hopes for the future. As they celebrated these parts of their relationship, they also realised the surprise that nothing within their souls had the power to separate them, only events beyond their control might possess the means. And this awareness only served to increase their happiness.

Now Buffy pressed herself against him, causing him to stiffen in pleasure as she dealt a kiss to the source of her current puzzle. "Your tattoo," she explained.

Catching her by surprise Angel rolled over to face her, deftly capturing her within his arms, one hand entangled in her blond hair, the other caressing her tanned skin. "You really want to know?" He asked, gazing at her seriously.

She nodded, looping a finger in the charmed chain and coin he wore around his neck, her present to him from three weeks ago, to enable him to walk into the sunlight.

"It was after the Boxer Rebellion, when Darla kicked me out. I travelled into Japan, where I persuaded a student of Hori Chiyo to give me it," Angel told her. "For the western world, tattoos were a recent fascination among the wealthy, but to the Japanese then they were banned except for criminals. I let it serve as part of my penance for my crimes."

Buffy looked at him steadily, silently reminding him that the crimes were his demon's, not his soul's before she inquired further. "Why the griffin?"

Angel accepted the silent rebuke before answering. "It was part of my family's crest."

Buffy raised her eyes. "Your family had a coat of arms?"

"Yes," Angel gather her closer to his chest. "It was an endowment from a once grateful kingdom to a gentry family." He paused, searching her hazel eyes. "Do you like it?"

Buffy blushed. "I trace its outline every time we...." she trailed off in embarrassment, leaving him to guess the rest.

Angel smiled at her. "I love you," he uttered, before bending to kiss her.

Declaration gave way to desire and passion; passion gave way to loving tenderness. The world faded away, replaced in prominence by their more private one as Angel threaded his hands around her; one in her hair, the other upon her skin; caressing, worshipping. His beloved moaned with pleasure in reply, he answered her with a contented purr, as her hands explored him with a familiarity which felt older than three weeks, as the feeling that their souls were mated long before this present life awoke within him once more.

In time Angel rolled her underneath him, returning them to the first position with which they had begun the occupation of the bed, his lips moving from her mouth as he readied a pilgrimage on her body. Only with her did he feel the holiness of the act, the divine pleasure which surely the higher powers intended to be experienced. Perhaps it was because he had taken her innocence, as opposed to being one in a long line to the demon who unknowingly sired him first for his soul's resurrection, then for this meeting. Or perhaps it was because in her he felt safe and loved; belonging not just to her, but to the world he previously felt exiled from.

All these thoughts ran through Buffy's mind in similar veins, as she stretched her arms to allow her fingers to trace his tattoo while he continued to kiss his way down her body, starting with the slender strokes of the letter which stood for his name, before moving to the mythical beast which adorned it.

Then the phone rang, disturbing their private world, marking the intrusion of the public one which both of them held as duty of service to.

"Ignore it," Buffy managed to utter, arching her back to meet Angel's lips, which had briefly withdrawn from their pilgrimage when the intrusive sound began.

"Okay." Angel obeyed easily, far too pleasurably occupied to gather energy for the demands of modern technology.

The ringing became established background noise, that abruptly shifted focus to centre stage as the answer machine kicked in, revealing the identity of the person that had dared to disturb them.

"Angel? Buffy?" A distinctly British accent inquired, familiar at once to both. "If you're there, please pick up."

The souled vampire reluctantly stopped kissing his beloved, raising himself up to look at her. "He sounds annoyed. Do you think we should answer?"

Buffy inwardly felt the same emotion as she detected in her watcher's tones. "If we must. Why did you get that thing anyway?"

"You wanted me to," Angel reminded her with a smile which almost made her forget the message entirely. "And you know I can't refuse you anything."

Unwillingly they got up and he punched the button for the speakerphone, while Buffy grabbed one of his shirts, feeling less exposed with the garment, even though she knew her watcher and surrogate father could not see her. "We're here, Giles."

"Finally." A very brassed off Watcher answered. "Get over to the Library. Now," he urged almost curtly before ending the call.

Buffy glanced at Angel. "Wonder what's got into him?" She mused aloud before tossing him the shirt and retrieving her clothes in order to change.


"Of course, training procedures have been updated quite a bit since your day," Buffy and Angel heard someone saying as they neared the library. "Much greater emphasis on field work."

"Really?" Uttered another, one they knew as Giles' bored and annoyed tone.

"Oh, yes," the other said, missing the undertone from his companion completely. "Not all books and theory nowadays. I have, in fact, faced two vampires myself. Under controlled circumstances, of course."

"Well, no danger of finding those here," Giles remarked.

"Vampires?" The someone queried.

"Controlled circumstances," Giles corrected just as the couple entered the library. "At last. Hello, Buffy. Now, could you please explain to this....." he paused, reconsidering his choice of insults. "Idiot," he finally chose as he gestured at a man standing next to him, possessing thin sliver glasses and a pin striped dark suit, "who you are?"

"Well... Hello," the man remarked with a smugness which was laced with condescension.

Buffy stared back at him, slayer senses on full alert. "Who are you?"

"Wesley Wyndam-Pryce," he replied, stepping forward and holding out his hand. "It's very nice to meet you."

Buffy made no move to return the gesture, turning to Giles. "Watcher?"

"Watcher," he confirmed.

"Is he evil?" Buffy asked.

"Evil?" Wesley queried, puzzled.

"The last one was evil," Buffy replied shortly.

"Oh, yes," Wesley recalled thoughtfully. "Gwendolyn Post. We all heard. No. Mr. Giles has checked my credentials rather thoroughly and phoned the Council, but I'm glad to see you're on the ball as well. A good Slayer is a cautious Slayer."

Buffy barely acknowledged his speech. "Is he evil?" She asked Giles again.

"Not in the strictest sense," Giles replied.

Wesley glared at him, causing Angel to hide his amusement at the expression. "Well, I'm glad that's cleared up," he stated. "I was ordered to come here to receive the new slayer, Faith, I believe her name is."

Buffy burst out laughing, catching everyone off guard. Collapsing into a chair, she slowly calmed herself down. "I die one year ago for five minutes, and Kendra is called. Now you're telling me that her death activated another? Have they forgotten that I'm still here?"

"You did run away, Miss Summers," the new Watcher reminded her, his tone still containing trace elements of condescension.

Giles looked at him with a suspicious glare of his own. "I never informed the Council of that," he remarked. His tone had reverted to calmness again; the calm anger of his misspent youth alter ego.

"We have our sources," Wesley replied back, his voice dripping with superiority. "One hardly keeps a secret when they are phoning almost everyone they know about a missing teenage girl."

The air in the Library acquired more tension as the two Watchers stared at each other, both trying to out scare the other. It did not take long to establish a victor.

"I gather as you know nothing of this Faith, that she has yet to arrive?" Wesley inquired.

"No," Giles replied. "But when she arrives I'll be sure to pass on your message and send her straight to you."

"I think I shall wait here, if you don't mind," Wesley returned.

Giles did, but he felt he could not air such an objection aloud. "Buffy, thank you for coming. As tomorrow promises to be an eventful day, I suggest you get home."

"Night, Giles," Buffy said, gratefully taking the exit given. She waited until she and her boyfriend were outside the deserted high school before she turned to him. "Something tells me he's going to be more trouble than he's worth."

Angel nodded. "If he survives that long," he agreed before taking her home.


Same time a few blocks away in the bad part of town, Faith checked into the motel, taking care to lock the door of her room, placing a chair under the door knob for further protection. Exhaustion was gradually establishing a hold on her, causing her to yawn as she mounted the bed, gathering her legs towards her chest. But she did not want to sleep. The scene which served to mark her farewell to Boston still haunted her mind, along with the alliance which she was forced into, and the plan which she was forced to follow. Both she loathed already, but the situation had left her little choice. Until she arrived here, that is. For the moment she had a distance between herself and the fiend who dictated these terms to her, which should give her time to form a plan with which to free herself of his shackles. Since he held her life in his hands, she had only option; end his. An act which while she felt incapable of doing herself, she knew of at least one other who could.

Which was why she had obeyed part of Kakistos' orders, for he was coming to this town anyway for his own purposes besides testing her loyalty. Now all she needed to do was retrieve her energy and her senses, so she could convince the next people required that she was vampire slayer she used to be.

Even if she felt as far from that woman as she thought possible.


Half way between the motel and the high school, a black stretch limousine came to a halt beside the takeout machine for one of the hellmouth's local fast food eateries.

"Welcome to Happy Burger," the machine seemed to speak, when in fact it was the lone nightshift worker. "May I take your order, please?"

The tinted window was slid down a little. "Diet soda. Medium."

"That'll be eighty-nine cents at the window, sir," the voice replied.

The customer raised the window and turned to his companion within while the chauffeur drove them to the required parking space. "Sunnydale. Town's got quaint. And the people? He called me sir. Don't you just miss that? I mean, admittedly, it's not a haven for the brothers, you know, strictly the Caucasian Persuasion here in the Dale. But, you know, you just gotta stand up and salute their death rate. I ran a statistical analysis, and hello darkness. It makes... D.C. look... like Mayberry, and ain't nobody saying boo about it. We could fit right in here. Have us some fun."

"We're here for one thing," he companion growled.

"Kill the Slayer," the customer remembered. "Still, big picture." He let the window down and leaned out, handing the lone worker a dollar.

The worker handed him his soda. "Have a nice night, sir."

"Right back at ya," he returned before sitting down.

"The Slayer," his companion growled. "I'm going to rip her spine from her body, and I'm going to eat her heart and suck the marrow from her bones."

Trick listened to his master's planned future meal, and realised his own, primitive needs. "Now I'm hungry," he uttered, before lunging out of the window, and grabbing the worker by the shirt, pulling him out of the takeout cubicle and into the limousine.


Day arrived, rousing the slayer and her friends, family and lover from their beds to their place of work, be it museum, university or high school. When Buffy met her watcher in the library during first recess, she expected the new slayer she had heard of from the night before to be there, but it was still just Giles and the new watcher, who appeared rather shocked at her training sessions, instead of composed or disapproving. But as each hour passed by, and still no sign, she began to wonder if her new sister in arms would ever turn up.

Evening caused her to join her friends at the Bronze, where in a quiet large booth on the ground floor they sequestered for themselves, each girl in the arms of their boyfriends, enjoying the music from the band, and observing the crowd of those who were dancing.

"Check out Slut-O-Rama and her Disco Dave," Cordelia remarked, gesturing to the latest couple on the dance floor to catch her disapproving eyes. "What was the last thing that guy danced to, K.C. and the Sunshine Band?"

They watched the couple, the girl in her tight revealing black top and jeans with heavy dark makeup, and the boy whose dance and clothes had seen better decades, until the former urged the latter towards the exit.

Spider sense tingling, Buffy rose from her seat. "I don't think that guy thrives on sunshine," she said putting down her drink to follow the departing couple, causing Angel and everyone else to join her.

When they reached the alley, blinking to adjust their eyes to the darkness, it appeared deserted.

"Where'd she go?" Buffy wondered aloud.

"I bet it's nothing," Cordelia offered. "They're probably just making out."

"Hey!" A girl could be heard to cry, followed by the distinct sound of something breaking.

Silently Buffy retrieved her stake and darted down the alley for the source of the disturbance.

"That's not what making out sounds like," Willow decided. "Unless I'm doing it wrong," she added, glancing at her boyfriend before she joined the rest in following the slayer.

"Stop struggling," the boy could be heard saying as they neared the couple. "This won't hurt," he added, before moving in for the kill.

Buffy arrived in time to see the girl grab the vampire by the neck, putting enough distance between them for her to aim her elbow into his face. The strike caused him to stagger backwards to regain his balance, while she leapt on to a crate. The girl jumped again, delivering a roundhouse kick to the vampire's face, sending him to the sidewalk.

She noticed Buffy and jumped down to greet her. "It's okay, I got it. You're, Buffy, right?"

Not expecting the greeting, Buffy hesitated before answering, giving the vampire time to regain his feet and stalk his prey from behind. The girl however was aware of his movements, and snapped her head back, striking his face a third time, before grabbing his arm.

"I'm Faith," the girl introduced herself as she used her grip to bring the vampire forward into a section of the chain linked fence.

"I'm gonna go out on a limb and say there's a new Slayer in town," Oz murmured to his girlfriend, the only member of the Scoobies not surprised enough to remain silent, watching as Faith kneed her prey in the gut, causing him to turn round, trying to retaliate, but without success. She punched him again in the gut, then in the face, before kicking his jaw, grabbing his neck and throwing him to the ground. Then she reached to take the stake out of Buffy's hand.

"Can I borrow that?" She asked, not waiting for a reply as she turned back to her prey, who tried to rush her with a run. She ducked his punch, grabbed his shoulder, turned him round and sent him into the fence once more, before staking him.

As the vampire bit the dust, she turned to Buffy, handing the weapon back to her. "Thanks, B. Couldn't have done it without you."

The encounter caused the desired effect of rendering all onlookers speechless. Silently they stood still amazed, as Faith walked past them back down the alley, before recollecting their composure enough to follow her.


"The whole summer it was, like, the worst heat wave," Faith could be heard saying minutes later, after introductions and gathering in the Bronze. "So it's about a hundred and eighteen degrees and I'm sleeping without a stitch on. And all of a sudden, I hear this screaming from outside. So I go tearing out, stark nude, and this church bus has broke down, and there's these three vamps feasting on half the Baptists in South Boston. So I waste the vamps, and the preacher comes up, and he's hugging me like there's no tomorrow, when all of a sudden, the cops pull up and they arrested us both." She reached for a muffin while everyone else digested the tale.

"Wow," Xander murmured. "They should film that story and show it every Christmas," he uttered, causing Cordelia to glare at him.

"God, I could eat a horse," Faith said as she wolfed down her muffin. "Isn't it crazy how slaying just always makes you hungry and horny?" She added, causing everyone to stare at Buffy and Angel, and the former to blush.

"Well... Sometimes I crave a non-fat yoghurt afterwards," Buffy replied. "Anyway, you haven't answered my question from before. How come we didn't know you were coming to the hellmouth?"

"Neither did I until the Council told me to meet my new watcher here," Faith replied amicably. "I figured this was my chance to meet the infamous Buff and compare notes. So, B, did you really use a rocket launcher one time?"

"Uh, yeah, actually, it's a funny story. There was this demon who could kill you with a touch, who some vamps decided to put back together, having been dismembered for centuries. Anyway, he's all like no weapon forged can kill me, and I go 'that was then, this is now,' and fire the rocket launcher."

"Cool," Faith remarked, suitably impressed. "So was that your toughest kill?"

"No," Buffy replied, unable to help glancing at Angel just to make sure he was there. "That wasn't my toughest. What I mean is, everything on the hellmouth is tough."

"Something occurring," Oz uttered. "Uh, now, you both kill vamps, and who could blame you, but, I'm, wondering about your position on werewolves."

"Oz is a werewolf," Willow added.

Faith nodded in understanding, evaluating him. "Hey, as long as you don't go scratching at me or humping my leg, we're five-by-five, you know?"

"Fair enough," Oz replied.

"The vamps, though, they better get their asses to defcon one," Faith added to Buffy, 'cause you and I are gonna have fun, you know."

"You might change your mind when you meet your watcher," Buffy replied.


"So what happened to your previous watcher?" Giles asked after introductions when Buffy had ushered Faith to the library the next day after school.

"Oh, she got invited to a retreat thing in England," Faith replied easily. "Why weren't you?" She asked curiously.

Giles sighed. "There's a Watchers' retreat every year in the Cotswolds. It's a lovely spot. It's very serene. There's horse riding and hiking and punting and lectures and discussions. It's a great honour to be invited. Or so I'm told."

"Oh, it's boring," Faith decreed. "Way too stuffy for a guy like you," she added.

"Um, maybe I should introduce you again," Buffy decided. "Faith, this is Giles."

"I see him. If I'd have known they came that young and cute, I would have requested a transfer."

"Raise your hand if 'ew," Buffy murmured.

Giles smiled. "Well, leaving aside for a moment my, youth and beauty, I'd say it was, um, fortuitous that Faith arrived when she did."

"Aha!" Willow cried, causing everyone to look at her. "Sorry. I just meant... aha! There's big evil brewing. You'll never be bored here, Faith. 'Cause this is Sunnydale, home of the big brewing evil."

"Yes, well, I don't know how big an evil it is," Giles began, "but, two people have disappeared from the Sunset Ridge District," he handed Buffy a newspaper.

"Well, I'm good for patrolling," Buffy declared. "Late-ish, though. I promised Mom I'd be home for dinner." She paused, then recollected her manners. "Um, to which you're also invited, of course, dinner with us."

"Dying to meet the fam," Faith replied. "I'm in."

"Great! Great, then we can patrol, also together," Buffy uttered.

"Ah, this must be Faith," Wesley Wyndam-Pryce decided as he emerged from the relative darkness of the stacks.

"New Watcher?" Faith asked Buffy, who nodded.

"Wesley Wyndam-Pryce," he introduced himself, holding out his hand. "Honoured to meet with you."

"Same here," Faith returned. "The Council likes their men young and cute, I see," she uttered, causing the Scoobies to inwardly groan while Wesley preened.

"Yes, well," he said. "I was considered the best of my year."

"I bet you were," Faith remarked. "I'd love to stay and chat, but me and B have a dinner appointment. We'll catch you up tomorrow."

"Of course," Wesley agreed, while Giles merely shook his head in amusement before sending the Slayerettes and Slayers on their way.


"Mr. Trick," Kakistos growled to his minion in their new headquarters, "talk to me."

"Check this out. This town, this very street, wired for fibre optics. See, we jack in a T-3, twenty-five hundred megs per, we have the whole world at our fingertips. What I'm saying is, we stay local- where the humans are jumping and the cotton is high -but we live global. I mean, you know, you get the hankering for the blood of a fifteen-year-old Philippine, and I'm on the net and she's here the next day, express air."

"I want the blood of the Slayer." Kakistos growled.

"I'm running a computer check on every hotel, rooming house and youth hostel in town. Meanwhile, as soon as the sun goes down, we're out in force. She'll turn up."

A knock sounded on the warehouse door, causing Trick to grab a welding glove and make his way over to it. "Food's here, boys," he declared as he opened the door.

"Hi Trick," Faith remarked before the vampire had recovered his composure. "Thought I'd drop in before you went to all that trouble of rousing a welcoming party."

"Where have you been?" Kakistos growled as she entered.

"Establishing my rep with the slayer," Faith replied. "I've gotta dinner invite with her and the fam. tonight, so this will be a brief visit."

"When will you lure her here?" Kakistos growled to her.

"Tomorrow night I think," Faith replied, causing another growl. "Tonight is too suspicious, alright? This slayer's faced more deadlier creeps than you. I gotta earn her trust."

"Tomorrow then," Kakistos growled. "Now go,"

"Gone," Faith replied, before walking out of the warehouse, and into the waning sunshine of the afternoon. She encountered the 'food' on the way, a pizza delivery guy who was entirely unaware of what fate awaited him. For a moment she almost made to steer him away, but that would only enlighten the vampires to her betrayal. She followed his walk with her eyes instead, watching as the warehouse door opened and he was yanked inside by Trick. She almost wished she had surrendered to her fate back in Boston.

Almost. She still had her way to make in this town, and if she could convince B to like her, a way out of this Faustian deal which she had loathed from day one.


"So you're a slayer too," Joyce began as she served the two girls dinner later that evening. "How did that happen?" She asked her daughter.

"Kendra's death," Buffy replied. "Remember, Mom?"

"Oh, of course. So, do you like it?"

"God, I love it!" Faith replied.

"Why do you love it?" Joyce asked.

"Well, when I'm fighting, it's like the whole world goes away and I only know one thing: that I'm gonna win and they're gonna lose. I like that feeling."

"Well, sure," Buffy commented. "Beats that dead feeling you get when they win and you lose."

"I don't let that kind of negative thinking in," Faith replied.

"Right. Right. That could get you hurt," Joyce nodded in understanding. "Oh, Faith, can I get you another soft drink?"

Faith handed her the glass. "Oh, you bet."

"Right," Joyce rose and headed into the kitchen.

"She's really cool, huh?" Faith praised to Buffy.

Buffy nodded. "Best mom ever," she said, before rising from her chair. "Excuse me," she added before following her mother.

"I like this girl, Buffy," Joyce replied as she poured the soda.

"She's very personable," Buffy agreed. "She gets along with my friends, my Watcher, my Mom. Look, now she's getting along with my fries. This is creepy."

"Does anybody else think Faith is creepy?" Joyce asked her.

"Well, I've yet to ask Angel, but I'm the one getting single-white-femaled here."

"It's probably good you were an only child," Joyce remarked. "But consider the slaying. I mean, two of you fighting is safer than one, right?"

"I guess," Buffy agreed. "Seriously, Mom, I'm worried."

"I know you are," Joyce replied softly. "And I think you should be. There is something off about her."

"You think so too?" Buffy queried.

"I do," Joyce assured her. "She's trying to hide it, but sometimes she overplays. I think she was chased out of Boston."

"I'm glad someone agrees with me," Buffy said. "I just have to convince the rest of them."

"Why don't we finish dinner, then you two go on patrol and I'll call Giles, let him know my concerns?" Joyce proposed.

"Agreed," Buffy decided.


"Didn't we, um, do this street already?" Faith asked.

"Funny thing about vamps," Buffy replied as they patrolled. "They'll hit a street even after you've been there. It's like they have no manners."

Faith shrugged in mild agreement. "You've been doing this the longest."

"I have," Buffy said.

"Yeah. Maybe a little too long." Faith commented.

Buffy looked at her. "Excuse me? What's that supposed to mean?"

"Nothing," Faith said.

"You got a problem?" Buffy asked her.

"I'm five-by-five, B, living entirely large, actually wondering about your problem."

"Well, I may not sleep in the nude and wrestle alligators," Buffy remarked, bringing up another story which Faith had told over dinner.

"Maybe it's time you started, 'cause obviously something in your bottle needs uncorking," Faith commented. "What is it, the Angel thing?"

"The Angel thing?" Buffy queried. "I wasn't aware you two were acquainted."

"Easy, B, I know just what your friends tell me: big love, big loss, big return."

"I got an idea, why don't you stay out of my life?" Buffy shot back, feeling at the end of her patience.

"What are you getting so strung out for, B?" Faith asked.

"Why are your lips still moving, F?" Buffy returned, causing her to halt.

"Did I just hear a threat?" Faith asked.

"Would you like to?" Buffy countered.

"Wow," Faith mused. "Think you can take me?"

"Yeah," Buffy remarked, but her gaze had moved from Faith to the view behind her, which was suddenly full of vampires. "I just hope they can't."

She shoved Faith aside as the vampire moved into attack, making her fall to the ground. Punching the beast in his gut, Buffy sent him flying on to his back. A second one emerged from the darkness, throwing a swing which was easily dodged. She blocked his second, then his third, before taking his hands and twisting the joints, causing him to fall to the ground.

Faith rose to her feet and grabbed a nearby trash can, just as a third vampire appeared and punched Buffy in the face. Catching her offguard, he went behind her and threw out his leg to trip her up. Faith sent the trash can down on his head, before taking hold and sending the beast into the nearest convenient wall.

One of the other vamps dove for Buffy, but she rolled out of the way, using the momentum to regain her feet. She crouched down and dusted him, before the second grabbed her from behind.

Faith waited for hers to rise back up, whereupon she spun round and kicked him in the abdomen, forcing him backwards into a low hanging pipe behind him. His comrade was also experiencing a temporary victory as he tossed his opponent on a stack of plywood. Buffy quickly rose to her feet and threw a leg to his stomach as he leapt up to join her, causing him to feel defeat as he landed on a dumpster.

The other vampire punched Faith in the face, but she wasn't fazed, blocking two more with her forearms and then sending a backhand one of her own into his face.

"My dead mother hits harder than that!" She taunted him before grabbing his sweater and throwing him into another sheet of drywall. As the impact caused them to break, she rushed up to him and punched him again.

Buffy flipped her opponent, sending him to bend a pipe, and glanced at her sister in arms, who seemed determined to punch the living daylights out of her attacker's face.

"Faith!" She yelled. "Stake him already and give me a hand!"

The slayer was deaf to her commands, continuing to punch her prey. Buffy turned back just in time to be snatched at by a fourth vampire, who threw her to the ground, before making a grab for her with her previous opponent.

"This is me, you undead bastard!" Faith yelled at her prey, punctuating every word with a punch to his face.

Buffy reached for the piece of wood lying on the floor in front of her.

"For Kakistos we live!" The vampire cried. "For Kakistos you'll die!"

The chant caused Buffy to hesitate but only for a moment. She staked one and turned to Faith. "FAITH!" She yelled in vain. Annoyed she jumped to her feet and staked the other vampire, before retrieving her usual weapon and heading over to Faith.

"You can't touch me!" Faith continued to punctuate with punches, until she was abruptly yanked away from her opponent by Buffy, who pulled her away before staking the vampire. "What is wrong with you?" She asked Faith.

"What are you talking about?" Faith asked.

"I'm talking about you living large on that vampire!" Buffy replied.

"Gee, if doing violence to vampires upsets you, I think you're in the wrong line of work!" Faith countered.

"Yeah, or maybe you like it a little too much," Buffy countered.

"I was getting the job done," Faith protested.

"The job is to slay demons!" Buffy reminded her. "Not beat them to a bloody pulp while their friends corner me!"

Faith shrugged. "I thought you could handle yourself," she replied before walking off.

Buffy let out an exasperated breath, inwardly wondering how much more she could take of this girl.


"Now, is it just me?" Buffy asked her boyfriend, an hour or so later at the Mansion on Crawford Street after she had seen Faith home.

Angel slowly shook his head. "She does sound a little intense," he agreed, cautiously, sensing that his beloved was still riled by her newest friend. "Almost like a vamp did some serious damage either to her or someone close to her."

"And......" Buffy trailed off as she considered his words. "You could be right," she agreed with a sigh, letting him take her into his arms. "Oh, Angel, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to dump all of this on you tonight."

"That's what I'm here for," Angel pointed out, gathering her close.

"Mmmmm," Buffy moaned as she let smell and feel of him calm her. "Here's an idea; why don't we pick up where we left off last night?"

He drew back from a little to smile at her, the one which made her want to jump him even more than she already did. "You're insatiable."

"Mmmm," she replied, returning the grin, "but you like me that way."

"Love," Angel replied before sweeping her off her feet and carrying her upstairs.


"What you must realise, Buffy, is that you and Faith have very different temperaments," Giles tried devil's advocate as he sipped his tea with her the next morning in the library.

"Yeah, and mine's the sane one," Buffy replied, causing him to chuckle. "The girl's not playing with a full deck, Giles. She has almost no deck. She has a three."

"You said yourself that she killed one," Giles reminded her. "She's just a plucky fighter who got a little carried away. Which is natural. She's focused on the slaying. She doesn't have a whole other life here, as you do."

"She doesn't need a life," Buffy commented. "She has mine."

"I think you're being a little..." Giles began gently, but she cut him off.

"No, I'm being a lot, I know that," Buffy interrupted. "But she nearly got us both killed. The girl needs help."

"All right. I'll see if I can reach her first Watcher at the retreat. They're eight hours ahead now," he added, checking his watch. "I guess they're probably sitting down to a nightcap." He sighed regretfully. "I wonder if they still kayak. I used to love a good kayak. You see, they don't even consider..." he trailed off as Buffy looked at him. "Sorry. I digress. The vampires that attacked you, can you furnish me with some details that might help me trace their lineage? I mean, ancient or modern dress. Amulets, cultish tattoos?"

"No tats. Crappy dressers. And, oh, the one that nearly bit me mentioned something about kissing toast. He lived for kissing toast."

"You mean Kakistos?" Giles asked.

"Maybe it was taquitos," Buffy agreed, mishearing. "Maybe he lived for taquitos."

"Kakistos," Giles corrected as he reached for a book.

"Is that bad?" Buffy asked.

"Kakistos is Greek. It means the worst of the worst. It's also the name of a vampire so old that his hands and feet are cloven."

"Now, this guy shows up two days ago, right?" Buffy sought to confirm. "Right around the same time my bestest new little sister makes the scene."

Giles looked up. "You think he and Faith are connected?"

Buffy nodded. "Giles, there are two things that I don't believe in: coincidence and leprechauns."

"Well, Buffy, it's entirely possible that they both arrived here by chance simultaneously," Giles pointed out.

"Okay, but I was right about the leprechauns, right?" Buffy asked.

"As far as I know," Giles confirmed.

"Good. Okay, you get England on the phone. I'm gonna talk to Faith, see if Kakistos rings a bell. Or an alarm."

"Wait a minute, I won't be long," Giles advised as he dialled.

Buffy waited silently for him to finish the call. "So?" she asked when he finished. "What did her Watcher say?"

"Her Watcher's dead," Giles replied, shocking her. "There is no retreat. The Council sent Wesley when they heard about her first watcher's death in Boston."


"The room's eighteen dollars a day," the voice of the motel manage could be heard saying as Buffy arrived at the place after school. "That's every day."

"Yeah, I know," she heard Faith say, "I'll get it to you by tomorrow, I swear."

"It's not like I own the place," the manager added.

"But I bet you will someday," Faith remarked.

"Not if I listen to broads like you," the manager replied as Buffy reached the open door. "Roommates are extra."

"I'm just visiting," Buffy replied, waiting for the manager to walk away before she entered the room and closed the door.

"So, what brings you to the poor side of town?" Faith asked her.

"Cloven Guy," Buffy replied. "Goes by the name Kakistos."

"What do you know about Kakistos?" Faith asked, her voice suddenly lacking her usual confidence.

"That he's here," Buffy replied, causing Faith to blanch. "We're not happy to see old friends, are we? What'd he do to you?"

Faith turned and grabbed her barely unpacked bag. "It's what I did to him, all right?"

"And what was that?" Buffy asked. "Faith, you came here for a reason. I can help."

"You can mind your own business," Faith returned, continuing to pack. "I'm the one that can handle this."

"Yeah. You're a real bad-ass when it comes to packing," Buffy replied. "Faith, you can't run away from every vamp that you can't handle."

"You don't know me," Faith said, finishing her packing. "You don't know what I've been through. I'll take care of this, all right?" She headed for the door.

"Like you took care of your Watcher?" Buffy countered, making halt mid-walk. "He killed her, didn't he?"

Faith turned to her, an angry shadow of her true self. "They don't have a word for what he did to her."

A knock on the door sounded, and she put her face to the spyhole. "Oh, what now?" She asked, seeing the manager.

"Faith," Buffy called her back, "you run, he runs after you."

"That's where the head start comes in handy," Faith returned, opening the door.

On the other side the manager loomed before them, gaping wound in his neck, held up by a large, old cloven vampire. He caught sight of the slayer and dropped the body. "Faith."

"No!" Was all Faith had time to cry before he reached out to grab her. Buffy ran to get herself between them, dragging Faith back into the room, slamming the door on Kakistos' arm, forcing him to retreat behind it, whereupon she locked it, fastening the safety chain.

"I just bought us a little more..." Buffy paused as the door suddenly acquired a hole. as Kakistos made to grab her. "...time!"

Faith screamed. "NO! NOOOOO!"

"Scream later!" Buffy commanded. "Escape now!" she added, running for the bathroom, making sure to drag Faith along behind her. She kicked out the window, and pushed her through the opening, following her. "Let's go!" She added, taking Faith's hand and running down the alley.

They reached the branching off of two different roads and took the left, Kakistos and his henchmen only a moment behind them. Buffy and Faith settled for distance and safety however temporary, not glancing behind them until they breached a warehouse via a window.

"We're okay for now," Buffy decided, seeing the vampires run past. "What happened?" She asked her companion. "Faith, what happened?"

"I... I was there when he killed my Watcher," Faith admitted, "and I saw what he did to her... what he was gonna do to me. I tried to stop him, but I... I couldn't. And I ran."

"Faith, first rule of slaying: don't die. You did the right thing. Okay?" Buffy replied. "You didn't die. Now you do the math. One of him, two of us."

Faith looked past her into the relative darkness of the warehouse, and realised where they were. "No."

"Yes," Buffy corrected.

"No," Faith repeated, causing Buffy to look where her glance was directed, catching sight of a pile of dead bodies. "This is his place," Faith revealed as she realised that her previous plan was blown to hell.

"He drove us here," Buffy realised.

A growl reached their ears, causing them to see the vampire which had appeared at the entrance. Together they ran, making him give chase, until two others arrived from the other end to try and head them off.

Buffy paused by a bucket, and put her foot in it, before raising her leg and using her strength to throw the object into one of their attackers. He fell backwards over a chair, as she spun a hook kick at the other vampire, then a kick to the one behind them. He fell over a table, and she followed him, rolling over it to kick him in the back.

Kakistos entered the building in the midst of this attack, having eyes for no one but Faith, who was watching Buffy as she rolled to her feet on the table. She fetched a crowbar and swung it at the nearest vampire, hitting the beast in the neck, knocking it down and out.

Looking up, Buffy caught sight of Kakistos stalking Faith. "Faith! Don't die!" She yelled, throwing her the crowbar.

Instinctively Faith caught the weapon, but Kakistos reached her before she could strike, punching her hard, sending her into a series of wood beams which leaned against the nearby wall. The wood went tumbling, sending her to the floor.

Buffy knife handed her attacker in the neck, throwing into the table while Kakistos stepped up to Faith as she scrambled to her feet, picking her up off the floor by her shirt.

"NO!" Faith cried as he punched her in the face.

Buffy leapt down from the table, knocking the legs out from a vampire who had tried to gain that height advantage. He fell off the table on to his back and bit the dust as she staked him. She glanced in Faith's direction, to see her cowering under Kakistos' attacks. Buffy saw her go down and rushed to help, sending a roundhouse kick to the back of his knee. She tried to backhand him in the face, but he blocked her, causing her to try the other way.

Trick entered the warehouse and helped another minion rise to his feet. Calmly he surveyed the situation. "If we don't do something, the Master could get killed." Pausing, he realised the sudden advantages. "Well, our prayers are with him. There's a reason these vengeance crusades are out of style. It's the modern vampire who sees the big picture."

He turned to leave while Buffy attempted to stake Kakistos, but her trusted weapon was for once unreliable as it failed to penetrate him. Kakistos grabbed her hair and lifted up, then threw her back.

Buffy punched him again, and he tried to return the favour, but she dodged, trying to stake him again. The weapon went deeper into his undead body, but to no avail.

"I guess you need a bigger stake, Slayer!" Kakistos growled.

Faith came out of her panicked haze and glanced around, searching for one. She found a fallen broken wooden beam with a jagged end. Clutching it, she raised the implement over her shoulder, and staked him in the back.

Kakistos looked at the stake, then back at his slayer, before turning into dust.

Buffy turned to her sister in arms with a grin. "You hungry?"

"Starved," Faith returned.


Faith smiled as she recalled that meal in her motel room the next evening. She and Buffy had finally and properly bonded during the aftermath of the fight. She had learned what it was like to have someone else in the world who understood her troubles and some times experienced them too. She could get used to that support and connection, that friendship. She realised why Buffy was the toast of the slayer and watcher worlds, her reputation legendary, not just because of the vampires or demons she had killed.

There was a knock on the door, rousing her from her thoughts, though not entirely, as she realised in hindsight. But that was a gift acquired only after the fact. Now she looked up and called out without thinking that there was any possibility of danger. Vampires could only attack during the night after all.

"Come in!" She called out, smiling. Only for the smile to fall from her face as the door opened and she caught sight of her visitor.

"Hi, Faith," greeted Richard Wilkins, Mayor of Sunnydale. "Mr. Trick told me you would be here."

The End.
To Be Continued In...

Frost At Midnight.