Link Here:

C Box:

Author's Note: Dialogue taken from the original episode, along with plot, but with changes to adjust to my canon. Enjoy.

Consequences.

In the morning Buffy and Angel agreed that she would speak to Faith first, in an effort to gauge her reaction before they went to Giles. So Angel dropped his beloved off at the motel, waiting in the parking lot while she went to Faith's room.

Faith was hand washing a shirt in the sink when Buffy called through the cheep wood veneer of her door. "Faith, it's me."

The dark haired slayer dropped the item of clothing back in the water and went to answer the door. "Hey."

"Hey," Buffy replied, entering the room while Faith returned to the bathroom. She watched her scrubbing at the shirt, recalling her own efforts to clean the blood from her hands and clothes. "So, I, uh... How are ya doing?" She asked nervously.

"I'm alright," Faith replied at a pathetic attempt casual, which ended up sounding cold and distant instead. "You know me."

Buffy sighed and reluctantly began to reveal her motive for coming, less certain now that she would succeed. "Faith, we need to talk about what we're gonna do."

For the first time the dark haired slayer looked up from her washing. "There's nothing to talk about. I was doing my job."

The blonde slayer frowned at that remark. "Being a Slayer is not the same as being a killer," she pointed out.

Faith continued to scrub at the stains on her shirt.

Buffy watched her reactions, and realised how frightened the girl appeared to be, her efforts at hiding such fear in vain. She remembered when Kakistos caused her to run, and knew that if she didn't handle this carefully, the same could occur again. Slayers were taught self-reliance, but that isolation often came at a terrible price. She had to convince her that she was not alone in this dark matter. "Faith, please don't shut me out here. Look, sooner or later, we're both gonna have to deal."

Faith rinsed the shirt out. "Wrong," she declared as she surveyed the article of clothing.

"We can help each other," Buffy protested.

"I don't need it," Faith replied, before pulling the plug out from the sink and draining the water. She walked into the room and took out a drawer, on which she lay the shirt to dry.

"Yeah?" Buffy queried, sceptical. "Who's wrong now? Faith, you can shut off all the emotions that you want. But eventually, they're gonna find a body."

Finally the dark haired slayer turned and faced her. "Okay, this is the last time we're gonna have this conversation, and we're not even having it now, you understand me?" She replied angrily. "There is no body. I took it, weighted it, and dumped it. The body doesn't exist." She turned away from Buffy's shocked expression.

"Getting rid of the evidence doesn't make the problem go away," Buffy remarked.

Faith met her gaze once more. "It does for me."

The more she talked, the more Buffy became concerned at how her sibling in arms was dealing with this. "Faith, you don't get it. You killed a man."

"No, you don't get it," Faith replied with a smile. "I don't care!"

She walked away and jumped on to the bed, where she grabbed the remote and turned on the television, a clear signal of dismissal. Buffy stared at her in disbelief for a moment, then turned and exited the hotel room.

Angel was waiting for her beside his car, leaning on the passenger side door. The top was down on the convertible Belvedere GTX, in keeping with the sunny weather which had broken this morning in the dale, a comparison, and an ironic one at that to the dark days ahead of them. His pose was seemingly casual, almost carefree, nearly normal. From the view outside Faith's hotel room, he appeared to be nothing more than a guy waiting for his girl. But Buffy knew differently. For within him a demon, the most sadistic and deadly she had ever met, was contained by a soul so disparate in nature, so kind, so gentle in his temperament, in his manner, in his whole being, that one would never have guessed at the conflict within him. For centuries he had fought his demons daily and not only had he won, he had emerged a better person due to such a battle. Upon his hands, his conscience, were the murders his demon committed, countless sins which his memories strove almost daily to remind him of the guilt he should be feeling, yet to the most rational way of thinking, he was not responsible for even the notion of these mortal acts. As Buffy stared at him, she was struck by the stark comparison between him and Faith, now rendered to having something in common due the blood on both their hands. Except while one claimed responsibility for acts which his demon committed, the other washed their hands of their deed altogether.

He straightened up as she came to a halt before him, her bleak expression far more eloquent than words ever could be. Without saying anything he wrapped her in his arms, pressing a tender kiss to her blonde tresses.

Buffy relished the comforting embrace for a moment, then raised her head and gazed into his dark soulful eyes. "She dumped the body. She doesn't even care, Angel. Or rather she says she doesn't, when everything in her body language screams fear. How can we tell Giles when Faith won't even face the truth of what she did?"

"We can't," Angel agreed solemnly, his hands weaving themselves in her blonde locks, one slightly cupping her face.

"She's ready to run," Buffy continued, barely acknowledging his agreement for silence. "If we don't handle this the right way, we could damage her forever."


Some days later.................

Buffy was drowning. Blue clear water was bubbling all around her, caused by her mouth and her body's desperate need for oxygen. She was struggling against the currents, against the drag from the floor, trying to reach the surface, but something was holding her steady and still, preventing her from swimming back up. She felt the water filling her lungs, the intense battle to breathe nearing defeat, and knew she could not hold on for much longer. she turned, trying to see who was the owner of the hand that held her ankle. Opened sightless gaze stared back her, one which haunted her ever since she first caught sight of them within a mortally wounded being, done to death with a wooden stake. It was Alan Finch, the Deputy Mayor. Buffy turned and resumed her struggling towards the roof of the ocean, desperate to survive, to free herself from this dark deed. Suddenly, she broke free, and frantically swam to the surface. Clearing the water, coughing what remained of the liquid from her lungs, Buffy looked about herself for land. She glanced up, and saw Faith, standing over her by the water's edge, a hateful expression of indifference upon her face. Before she knew, the dark haired slayer's hands were pressing on her face, and Faith was pushing her back down into the watery depths of the ocean.

"Buffy!"

She opened her eyes. Angel was beside her, his hands gently clasping her arms, looking at her with concerned eyes. "You were having a nightmare," he uttered gently, calming her panicked mind and senses.

Buffy came back to herself. Taking deep breaths, she slowly came back to the present, and with it reality. She was at home. Revello Drive. It was night as evidenced by the closed curtains and darkened light within her bedroom, and Angel was holding her carefully in his arms, looking her with those big, brown, gorgeous and currently concerned, eyes of his.

"I was drowning," she told him. "Finch was grabbing hold of me. Somehow I got to the surface. But Faith pushed me back down."

Without another word Angel pulled her into his arms, his hands drawing soothing circles on the bare skin of her back. "You have to tell Giles, Buffy," he whispered tenderly urgent. "You can't put this off any longer."

"I have to talk to Faith first," Buffy protested. "At least give her some warning."

"Buffy," Angel pulled back to look into her eyes. "She told you that she didn't care. And despite her need for denial, her fear, the desire to run and rid herself of this terrible deed, you don't know what she will do next as well as you think might. She may be a slayer, but she's now a killer as well." He paused, as he recalled his own feelings of guilt over such mortal sins. "I know what that feels like. To kill without conscience, without remorse. The more you commit it, even just on demons and vampires, the more you develop a taste for it. We need to talk to Giles. As I've said before, this can't be the first time this has happened."

"As much as it scares me, you're right," Buffy admitted. "I'll tell him tomorrow. I promise." She paused, concentrating suddenly, her slayer instincts telling her that they were no longer the only ones awake at this hour. Then she looked up. "I hear voices."

"Rest," he gently commanded her, "I'll go and check."

Angel let go of her arms, and pressed her down under the covers, securing them around her body for warmth. Then he got up, dressed himself in a shirt and trousers and made his way downstairs.

When he neared the living room, he discovered the source of the noise. The television was on, and Mrs Summers was up. "Joyce?" He began, still uncertain at using the name, even though she had given him permission to address her thus a few days ago.

She turned round at the sound of his voice. "Angel, what are you doing up? Is Buffy okay?" She asked worriedly.

"She's not sleeping well," he replied, moving further into the room, his eyes fixing on the television screen, in which news coverage was blazing away. "She's been having a lot of nightmares lately." He turned briefly to her and added, "part of the slayer thing."

"Giles told me," Joyce replied, remembering. "What's coming?"

"I'm honestly not sure," Angel replied, rather absently, the news network on the television holding his attention. "What are you watching?"

"They found a body at the docks today. It was the Deputy Mayor." Joyce looked at him, puzzling at his grave expression. "What's wrong, Angel?"

He looked at her with a sad smile. "Something big is coming. When we rescued Giles and Pryce from Balthazar, the demon hinted that something will rise. What we don't know. During that night a friend committed a terrible mistake. He paused. "And we are worried what she will decide to do next."


Morning. Buffy entered the library quietly, even though she knew that it was unlikely to contain anybody but the scoobies or the watchers at this early hour. It appeared deserted, but she knew Giles. Despite he and Jenny living together, deeply committed to each other, with the recent hint of big, dark evil brewing, he would be here way before school started. She walked past the counter and up to his office. "Giles?"

The watcher came out of his office. "Buffy," he greeted quietly.

She stopped, relieved at finding him, but suddenly uncertain as to how to begin. "Uh, I don't really know how to say this, so I'm just gonna say it. I know I've kept things from you before, but..."

Abruptly Giles turned his head slightly, as Faith came out of his office. Buffy stared at her, uncomprehending. Then she decided that discretion was the better part of valour. "But, um, but I-I've been blowing off my classes. You know, in-in the sense of not attending. And, uh..."

"It's okay, Buffy," Faith said suddenly, "I told him."

"You told him?" Buffy repeated, surprised. It was the last thing she had expected after their last conversation.

"I had to," Faith continued. "He had to know what you did."

"What I did?" Buffy uttered, confused. Then she realised what Faith meant, and the girl scared her even more. "Giles, no. Tha-That's just not what happened," she began.

"I don't want to hear it, Buffy," Giles said, his voice sounding upset. Betrayed. Disappointed.

Buffy knew the feeling. "No! It..." She protested.

Giles shook his head, silently commanding her to stop speaking. "I don't want to hear any more lies," he uttered.

Buffy knew from his tone that it further protest would be useless until they were alone. Outraged, she turned to Faith. "You can't be serious! You're setting me up?"

"Get in my office, now," Giles commanded. "Faith," he added, turning to her, "I'll talk to you later."

"Giles, please," Buffy tried once more. "You have to..."

It was in vain. "Now!"

Faith watched her enter the room, then turned to Giles. "Um... Sorry," she said, not knowing what to say. Instead she turned round and left the library.

Once outside within the school corridors, Faith felt herself breathe somewhat easier. Telling Giles had been tough. Scrub that, the past few days had been tough. But there was nothing she could do about that. The body had been found and the autopsy report which Mr Trick had 'retrieved' from the mortuary revealed the cause of death. Wooden fragments in the heart. Strangely the Mayor had not been too surprised at the discovery, nor at her confession. Indeed, Faith recalled with a shiver, he had seemed proud of her. And then he had ordered her to heap the entire thing on Buffy. To use this to wreck the team of do-gooders from the inside out. And Faith had no problem with that.

Anything to stop this sick feeling within her, threatening to drown her in the full evil of her mortal sin. She felt in limbo, suspended in waiting for this deed to fade from her memory, along with all the feelings which accompanied and resulted from it. But the days continued to pass and still deed haunted her soul. The sight of Allen's bleak fear of death, prayed on her mind, speaking to her with penetrating eloquence on what she did, what she had become. Every night she had dreamed different outcomes; he lived, she stopped herself in time. It was so easy to believe it was Buffy's error in judgement, to lay all the blame, all the guilt and responsibility at her door. To render her less than perfect in everyone's eyes. From the moment she came to Sunnydale Faith had felt the pressure of living by her perfect example, her faultless record. Nothing she did could make her an equal of the first slayer in this generation, she would always be second. Until now. For this was an opportunity to become the perfect slayer, to be first in everyone's eyes. To be respected. Faith raised her head, and walked down the corridors into the sunshine, pushing the darkness further into the recesses of her mind.

Praying for them to disappear forever.


"Giles," Buffy began desperately once he was inside his office. "I didn't do this. I swear. Look, I know that I messed up badly, but the murder, i-it... it was..".

Giles interrupted her. "Faith. I know." He smiled sadly at the girl he loved like a daughter. "She may have many talents, Buffy, but fortunately, lying is not one of them."

"Oh. Oh, God." Buffy breathed a sigh of relief and sat down. "I thought..."

"I'm sorry," Giles apologised, sitting down as well and taking her hands gently in his soothing her with tender strokes. "I needed her to think that I was on her side. I don't know how far she'll take this charade."

"Try far." Buffy stated sadly. "Like, all the way."

Giles shook his head in the same emotion. "You should have come to me immediately, Buffy. We could have dealt with this better, perhaps."

"I know," Buffy said. "Angel told me to. But I wanted to talk to Faith first. It was a mistake, Giles. His arm grabbed me, and even I thought he was just another vamp from Balthazar's gang, ready to kill us. I barely realised he was human, and by then it was too late. And Faith was terrified. She still is."

"You wanted to save her," Giles stated quietly.

"It's not all her fault, Giles. Afterwards, I saw her hesitate. I don't think she knew what she had done until she had actually done it, if you know what I mean."

"I know. And be easy, this is not the first time something like this has happened."

Buffy looked up, surprised, even though Angel had suspected as much. "It's not?"

Her watcher nodded. "The Slayer is on the front line of a nightly war. Now, it's tragic, but accidents have happened."

"What do you do?"

"Well, the Council investigates, metes out punishment if punishment is due. But I have no plans to involve them. I mean, it's the last thing Faith needs at the moment. She's unstable, Buffy. I mean, she's utterly unable to accept responsibility."

"She's freaking," Buffy agreed, glancing through the door, where Faith had exited some moments before. "So then we just have to help her deal, right?"

Giles shook his head. "She's in denial. There is no help for her until she admits the full truth her mistake."

"What do you suggest?"

"We should talk, all of us," he proposed. "We need to tread very carefully in this matter. The others need to be fully aware of what is the truth and what we will pretend is truth around Faith for now."

Buffy nodded. "Okay."

"In the meantime, no one else is to know," Giles added. "Understood?"

Buffy nodded, knowing who he meant. "Of course."

"This is extremely delicate, too delicate for the likes of him and the Council. If we scare her off now, we may lose her forever."

Outside the office, Wesley stood, his arms folded across his chest, a grim expression upon his face. What he had just heard was unbelievable. Conceal from their superiors that a slayer was a murderer! This dark matter could only have even darker ramifications, and secrecy was the last thing which was required just now. But then Rupert Giles had defied the Council before, trusting his own judgement above his betters. Clearly the man had no idea what he was doing. He should never have given the responsibility of a slayer.

It was up to wiser minds than he to sort this out.


"Well, maybe we should all talk to her together," Willow proposed.

It was after school. In the deserted Cafeteria, a meeting place which all of them had agreed was different enough from any of their usual haunts for them to escape unwelcome intrusion from a certain person, the Scooby gang sat. They had all assembled at the end of classes, the watcher of the group having arranged the time and location during lunch. Buffy was sitting on one of the tables, Angel's long legs either side of her, the rest of him behind her body, providing welcome support, both mental and physical. Giles sat on the next table, with Jenny beside him on a chair, her face level with his knees. Doyle sat next to her, followed by Cordelia and Xander, then Willow and Oz, then Joyce, whom Buffy confided in during morning recess, anxious for another compassionate viewpoint.

Giles now gently shook his head at Willow's suggestion. "I don't think she'll react well to that."

"I agree," Joyce added. "She might think we were ganging up on her. Her instinct will be to run away, or lash out."

"I could talk to her," Angel volunteered, making everyone turn to look at him. "I know what it's like to have murdered someone only too well. I think I have enough knowledge of what she's dealing with to get her to talk." He looked to the watcher, who seemed prepared to object. "This is gonna take more than counselling, Giles. Faith needs someone whose been down that road before, and knows what is at the end of both tunnel exits."

Giles nodded, silently agreeing. "You're right. The question is; how do we get her to come to you?"

"If she won't come to us," Angel replied, "then we go and get her."


Faith sighed and stretched out on the bed, bending her leather clad legs. She had gone for a darker ensemble since her crimes, suiting her mood and her past deeds. The television attempted to hold her attention, the horror film on having a stellar cast, insightful plot and enough special effects to tempt any ordinary would-be watcher. But Faith was a lost cause. Her mind was on other things.

She could not get his face out of her head. Finch, the last look he held as he died. Surprise, with some pleading mixed in. That expression would remain ever present as the sounds of the rest of the recent events repeated themselves over and over again in her mind. At times, she almost saw Buffy actually perform the killing blow. Then, just when she thought if she imagined that time and time again, she would believe it, the reality would return. She had killed a man. She was no longer just a slayer. She was now a killer. A murderer. What had she done? She tried to remember the beginnings of her alliance with the Mayor, from the moment Trick brought him to her hotel room, and the revelation that he let Kakistos come to his town in search of her. From that moment on, Faith realised now, she had lost the power to choose, even before when she pleaded with the cloven vampire to spare her life while the lifeless body of her watcher lay beside her, mortally wounded by the mark of his fangs in her neck. To control her actions, but not to take responsibility for them. At first she felt pleased with the choice, the position of power and influence which it gave her over B and the slayerettes. The price of loyalty seemingly a small one to pay. But when had the price become too high? When had she started to doubt her choice? And why? Almost from the beginning, she knew, remembering the chill she felt when the Mayor proposed they killed her 'little friend.' The real question was when had she learned to ignore that sensation, to pretend it never existed.

A knock on the door caused Faith to come out of her dark thoughts, and she welcomed the escape. She left the television on, got off the bed and moved to her hotel room door. Opening it, she looked round, puzzled to find no one there.

Then everything went black.


Faith opened her eyes to see that she was chained to a fireplace mantle. Rubbing her wrists, she glanced round and saw Angel sitting on a coffee table nearby. She was obviously in the mansion. Idly she wondered how much he knew. And what she had to her advantage. "Finally decided to tie me up, huh?" She said at last to him, turning on the charm. "I always knew you weren't really a one-Slayer guy."

Angel swung the baseball bat- the device which had knocked her out, she realised -between his arms from one side to the other. "I'm sorry about the chains," He said, looking up at her. "It's not that I don't trust you... Actually, it is that I don't trust you." He set the bat aside, rose up and made his way over to her, crouching before her. "I bet you're not big on trust games, now, are you, Faith?"

"You gonna shrink me now? Is that it?" Faith queried, slightly incredulous.

The souled vampire shook his head. "No, I just wanna talk to you."

"That's what they all say," she said next, trying to turn the words round again, into another innuendo. "And then it's just, 'Let me stay the night. Won't try anything.'"

"You wanna go the long way around, hey, I can do that." Angel stood up. "I'm not getting any older." He turned and walked out into the midnight garden.

Buffy was standing outside, and stepped forward when she saw him emerge. "How's she doing?"

Angel sighed. "It's like talking to a wall. Only you get more from a wall."

His beloved's face turned graver. "But you'll keep trying, right?"

"Sure," he promised. "We're just getting started."

"So, what do I do?" She asked.

He looked at her sadly, wishing he could take away the bleak disappointment conveyed through her eyes, the conviction that she had failed one of her friends. "Right now, there's nothing that you can do."

Buffy nodded, trying to think of something anyway. "Well, this could take awhile, right?" she sought to confirm. "So, I'll just go to Faith's and I'll get some of her stuff. That way she might see that we're on her side."

"That's a good idea." It would not be wise of them to let Faith go back to her hotel room, not even after she confessed. Angel paused, then took her hands tenderly in his. "Buffy I don't want you to get your hopes up," he uttered softly. "She may not want us to help her."

"She does. She just doesn't know how to say it." Angel started to shake his head, making Buffy add, "Angel, I know, I remember what you said this morning. But I can't lose hope, not yet."

"I'll keep trying," Angel promised, before leaning down to kiss her. Only allowing themselves to get swept away for a moment, then he parted from her and walked back inside the mansion. "I know what's going on with you," he remarked to his houseguest.

Faith shrugged indifferently. "Join the club. Everybody seems to have a theory."

Angel ignored her response. "But I know what it's like to take a life. To feel a future, a world of possibilities, snuffed out by your own hand. I know the power in it. The exhilaration. The rush." He dropped his voice low, letting her think that he was confessing something to her that no one else knew. "It was like a drug for me."

"Yeah?" Faith queried sarcastically. "Sounds like you need some help. A professional maybe."

Angel resumed his seat on the coffee table. "A professional couldn't have helped me. It stopped when I got my soul back. My human heart."

"Goody for you. Now if we're gonna party, let's get on with it." Faith held out her shackled wrists. "Otherwise, could you let me out of these things?"

"Faith, you have a choice," Angel persisted. "You've tasted something few ever do. I mean, to kill without remorse is to feel like a god."

"Right now," Faith remarked, struggling angrily with the chains, "all I feel is a cramp in my wrists, so let me go!" She wanted to get away from him. Be alone again, in the misery of her own thoughts. Not to have them thrown back at her with such calm acceptance. Why wasn't he horrified like the rest of them? His demon did the deeds he claimed guilt and responsibility for. How did that make him like her?

Angel rose and crouched before her again. "But you're not a god," he continued, almost tenderly, as though a father. "You're not much more than a child. Going down this path will ruin you. You cannot imagine the price for true evil."

Faith lost patience with his attitude, with his empathy, with his condescension and sneered. "Yeah? I hope evil takes Mastercard."

The souled vampire sighed, but continued to try and reach her. "You and me, Faith, we're a lot alike. Time was, I thought humans existed just to hurt each other." Angel got up and sat next to her. "But then I came here. And I found out that there are other types of people. People who genuinely wanted to do right. And they make mistakes. And they fall down. But they keep caring. Keep trying. Which is what makes them human. Like you, Faith. Buffy told me that it was an accident. Something which you have to accept before you can learn to recover from this." He took one of her hands in his, and for the first time, Faith felt the power emanating from deep within him, the same thing which drew Buffy towards him just two years ago. "If you can trust us, Faith, this can all change. You don't have to disappear into the darkness."

Suddenly there was a loud pounding on the door, causing him to release her hand. Angel only had time to look up before it collapsed to the floor. Wesley Wyndam-Pryce strode in, straight towards them, holding a large cross. He was flanked by three other men, clothed in black combat clothes, strangers, outsiders.

Angel rapidly stood up and rushed towards the intruders, stopping short when Wesley shoved the cross in front of his face. The trio acted then, setting upon him, with a rope netting, restraining him, rendering him powerless.

Wesley walked over to Faith and removed the shackles from her wrists. Then he pulled out a set of heavy cuffs and chains, and before she knew it her wrists were bound once more. "What the...."

"By the order of the Watcher's Council of Britain..." Wesley intoned, lifting her up from the floor, "I am exercising my authority and removing you to England, where you will accept the judgement of the disciplinary committee."

He hauled her out of the mansion, the henchmen following them, leaving Angel behind in a mass of rope net and frustration.


"I'm sorry for the extreme measures," Wesley uttered a little time later, from his position across from her. "Unfortunately, this is a rather extreme circumstance."

Faith shrugged, trying to appear indifferent. They were inside a van, and she was trussed up like a prize exhibit. Murdering Vampire Slayer, coming soon to a town near you. Already she loathed the condescending, so superior judgement the watcher was heaping on to her, expecting her to comply. "Whatever."

"Please believe nobody is rushing to judgement," Wesley remarked, conveying entirely the opposite supposition. "The first priority of both myself and the Council is to help you," he claimed.

Faith pulled at the ring holding her to the bench, wondering if she could loosen it and thereby free her hands, possibly resulting in her escape.

"Ah, now, none of that," Wesley turned to the man beside him. "Tighten her restraints," he ordered. "Faith, there's no point in fighting this."

Faith saw her chance and silently begged to disagree. She kicked the man in the knee, and he fell to the floor. She pressed down on his face with her boot. "Have to disagree with you on that one. Now unlock these or I'll pop this guy's head like a grape."

Wesley hesitated, then spotted a wrench on the floor.

Faith saw the movement and knew she had won. She shook her head at him. "Don't even think about it." She held up her cuffed wrists for him to unlock.

Wesley surrendered, fitting the key to the locks. "You can't keep running, Faith," he tried one final time as she freed her hands.

Faith punched him hard in the jaw, knocking him unconscious on the floor of the truck. "Wrong again, Wes."

She went to the doors, kicking them open and jumped out onto the street. Rolling until she was free from injury caused by jumping from a moving vehicle, Faith stood up and watched the van continue to drive on. Then she turned round and started looking for another means of leaving this town.


It was strangely quiet when Buffy returned to the Mansion. Slayer danger senses on full alert, she dropped the stuff collected from Faith's motel room outside the door. Slipping a stake out from her sleeve, Buffy cautiously advanced inside. The situation was instantly recognisable. Buffy put her stake back in her jacket and rushed to the struggling mess of rope netting, and set about freeing her boyfriend from his prison.

"What happened?" She asked when he was free.

"I had some uninvited guests," Angel replied. "Just as I was starting to get somewhere with her," he added regretfully.

Buffy sighed in frustration. "We better get to the library and confer. Before things get any worse than they already are."

She helped him rise to his feet, and they headed for the garage where the car was stored. Climbing inside, Angel turned the key in the ignition and drove them to the High School campus.


"It was Pryce. He had a couple of guys helping him," Angel explained to the gang in the library a few minutes later.

"Which means that Faith will be soon on her way back to England to face the wrath of the Watcher's Council." Giles realised.

"And then what?" Buffy asked.

Her watcher's expression was grim and disappointed. "Most likely they'll lock her away for a good long while."

"So we head them off at the airport and stop them," Buffy decided.

"Why?" Willow asked. "She murdered someone and accused Buffy. I hate to say it, but maybe she belongs behind bars."

"She's out of control, I know," Buffy admitted. "But Angel was getting somewhere with her. She was opening up. If we could just stop Wesley."

"That's no longer an issue," Wesley began as he walked into the library.

"You let her get away?" Giles queried.

Wesley stopped before them, ashamed at the recollection. "Let wouldn't be the way I'd phrase it, but... Yes, she escaped."

Giles rolled his eyes and took off his glasses. Angel chose to air their mutual thoughts on the news they had just received. "That's good work. First, you terrorise her, then you put her back in the streets." He moved to the table and sat down.

"That was hardly my plan. I was trying to save her," Wesley protested.

"But you didn't!" Buffy cried. "You probably destroyed her."

"Buffy," Giles decided, putting his glasses back on, "that's enough."

"I better find her before she does any more damage." The slayer stood up. "I'll check the docks. Giles, Jenny, why don't you go to her motel? Xander, Cordelia, Willow, Oz, Doyle, her usual haunts. Once you've found her, just keep her talking. And call for us."

"I'll try the airport," Angel volunteered. "Joyce, why don't you stay here and see if she tries here."

"What can I do?" Wesley asked. "I want to help."

"You still got your ticket back to the mother country?" Buffy asked, before heading out with the rest of the gang. "I suggest you use it."

 


All was quiet at the docks. Buffy walked along one of the gangplanks, casting her eyes everywhere as she searched. A part of her felt responsible. Perhaps if she had offered full trust to Faith when the slayer first arrived, none of this would have happened. And then again, maybe it would have, only worse. But she could not give up. Faith was a killer, but she was also a slayer, just like herself. It was a slayer's job to save people. And if Faith was unable to save herself, it was up to her to try instead.

"You don't give up, do you?" Someone asked suddenly.

Buffy turned round and saw Faith at the top of the gangplank. "Not on my friends, no."

The dark haired slayer eyed her sceptically. "Yeah, because you and me are such solid buds, right?" She scoffed.

Buffy ignored the charge. "We could be. It's not too late."

"For me to change and be more like you, you mean?" Faith countered. "Little Miss Goody Two Shoes? It ain't gonna happen, B."

The blonde slayer shook her head. "Faith, nobody is asking you to be like me, but you can't go on like this."

"Scares you, doesn't it?" Faith guessed, jumping down on to the docks.

Buffy joined her there on the wooden jetty. "Yeah, it scares me. Faith, you're hurting people. You're hurting yourself."

"But that's not it," Faith replied. "That's not what bothers you so much. What bugs you is, you know I'm right. You know in your gut we don't need the law. We are the law."

Buffy turned and began to walk away, sure that Faith would follow her, but determined not to rise to the bait. "No."

"Yes." Faith insisted, wondering if she was beginning to convince her. "You know exactly what I'm about. 'Cause you have it in you too."

Buffy shook her head. "No, Faith, you're sick."

"I've seen it, B," Faith protested. "You've got the lust. And I'm not just talking about screwing vampires."

That hit a nerve, as Faith knew it would. Buffy halted in her tracks, outraged that Faith would sink this low. Angel was right. Perhaps she didn't know her as well as she once thought she did. "Don't you dare bring him into this."

"It's good, isn't it?" Faith continued. "The sex? The danger? Bet a part of you even dug him when he went psycho."

Buffy was horrified and the mere thought of that. "No!" She protested truthfully, before continuing to walk back to the road, knowing Faith would follow.

And the dark haired slayer did. "See, you need me to toe the line because you're afraid you'll go over it, aren't you, B? You can't handle watching me living my own way, having a blast, because it tempts you! You know it could be you!"

Buffy had had enough. She stopped, turned round, and dealt a backhanded punch to Faith's jaw. Faith let the blow turn her head, then faced her with a wicked, seductive grin. "There's my girl," she almost crooned.

Buffy shook her head, realising too late that she had risen to Faith's bait. "No. I'm not gonna do this."

"Why not?" Faith asked her. "It feels good. Blood rising. The strain of the primitive flowing through our veins. Because, B, we are killers, both of us. You see demons as equal as us, else you would never have fallen for Angel like you did. And that makes you the same as me. A murderer. Explain that away, if you can."

Buffy never got a chance to explain. She heard a noise above her, and looked up, to see a pile of crates coming down, heading for Faith. Hurriedly she pushed her away, not giving a thought for herself. The crates came down, knocking her out.

Faith jumped up, shocked at the sudden change of pace. Automatically she went to help Buffy. But then all hell broke loose; starting with four vampires surrounding her. One of them was Mr Trick. Surprised, Faith had no time to prepare for the punch he dealt to her face, turning her body to the side. He grabbed her jacket and threw her to the ground.

Slayer reflexes back in control, Faith managed to block the next strikes showered on her by Trick's three buddies. She got up, and started to fight back. The three vampires circled her, trying to find vulnerabilities. Faith dealt each one a punch, using her legs to kick them to the floor, or on top of another. Eventually she managed to send one flying over the edge of the dockside into the water.

Buffy came out of her daze. She tried to get up, and then realised her legs were trapped under the piles of crates. Breathing in deep to gather all her energy reserves, she ignored the pain and pulled herself out from under them. Dusting herself off, she turned round, only to come face to face with a vampire. She had no time to prepare for his punch. She fell back into the crates. Ignoring the pain, Buffy jumped back up and tried to hit the beast who was looming over her. But the vampire was easily a match. He punched her hard, sending her into another pile of crates.

Faith, now with only two vampires to slay, raised up her leg and kicked the first into a barrel that was near the edge of the dockside. This time it did not fall into the water, but it gave her time to stake the second. Faith turned round to locate Mr Trick. She saw him take out a cord from his suit and wrap it around Buffy's neck. Before Faith had time see any more, the other remaining vamp came at her. Quickly she turned round and staked him.

Turning back towards Buffy, Faith saw Mr Trick yank her up by the cord around her neck, and push her upon some more crates, pulling the cord tighter. Buffy was powerless, unable to free herself. Faith hesitated only a second. Rushing over, she stealthily came up behind Mr Trick.

"I hear once you've tasted a Slayer, you never wanna go back," Trick remarked before opening his mouth and advancing his fangs on Buffy's neck. Then suddenly, he straightened up in surprise. "Oh, no. No, this is no good at all." He turned into dust.

Buffy looked up, to see Faith behind the dust with a stake in her hand. The slayers stared uncertainly back at each other for a moment. Faith realised how she could salvage her situation, and slowly lowered the stake.


"So she saved you."

It was several hours later. Buffy had seen Faith to her motel room, then contacted the others and called off the search. Now she took a sip of the hot tea from the thermos which Giles had kindly offered her when she returned to the library. Angel sat beside her, waiting to take her home. "She could have left me there to die, Giles, but she didn't."

"She opted to come back to town with you. That bodes well." Giles sat down. "She still has a lot to face before she can put this behind her."

Angel nodded silently in agreement.

"I'm not gonna give up on her," Buffy assured him determinedly. Tonight she had seen a glimmer of goodness in Faith, a willingness to fight the good fight, and she was now bent on turning her back from the darkness and into the light.

Giles poured himself a cup of and tea, and took a sip. "Then I think she stands a chance," he remarked. "Now, go home and get some sleep. We'll deal with the rest of this tomorrow morning."

Buffy drained her tea, then allowed Angel to take her hand and lead her outside to his car. He drove her to Revello Drive, where he saw her safely into bed, wrapping her in his arms, his comforting presence sending her straight to sleep.


A few miles away, Mayor Richard Wilkins the third was having an uncomfortable conversation in his office.

"You sent your boy to kill me," Faith accused him. She stood with her arms crossed before his desk, draggers in her eyes.

"Actually I didn't," he replied. "That was Trick's idea. he thought they were getting to you, turning you around from the advantages this gave us. He thought you would betray us, use this opportunity to change sides."

Faith was only half convinced in the truth of that. "He's dust."

"I thought he might be. What with you standing here and all." Mayor Wilkins adjusted one of his pens in its holder, making it look the mirror image of the other. "I'm glad you knew where your loyalties lie. Now, for your next task."

Faith relaxed her pose, and listened. With an evil smile on her face.

The End.
To Be Continued In.
Refugees.