SECOND CHANCES

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters except for the ones that I created.

CHAPTER 1-A New Beginning



It rained the day she gained her freedom, but for her it really wouldn't have mattered if a hurricane had hit, for she was finally free. But with the freedom came the dreaded realization that in most aspects of her life she had been a complete screw-up, for she had no friends to speak of, only a few acquaintances that barely knew more than her name. She had once been around people that she wanted to call friends, but time and again she had proven to herself and them why getting close to her was something that none of them could safely do. There had only been three that had ever really tried to get close, and to repay their kindness she had tried to destroy every aspect of their lives, hurting the friends and family of two of them while nearly beating the third one to death. And the beating of that third person was what now consumed her thoughts the most, for that third person had been someone that she was supposed to look up to, someone to help guide her in her quest. But she had turned rogue and now was sure that no one cared if she lived or died.

She spent her first night of freedom in a two bit flea bag of a motel, it being the only residence that she could afford off the meager amount that she had been able to scrounge up during her stay in prison. She had found the bed to be somehow harder that the one that she had in prison and tried hard to make a go of it. But just as she began to drift off to sleep they came, the faces, the voices of those that she had hurt. They came like a tidal wave that threatened to completely engulf her, drowning her in her tortured memory. Before she had been sentenced to that small hole in the wall that became her home for longer than she cared to admit, she had barely a care or worry about what she did, who she hurt. But now those that she had hurt were all that she could think about, and after spending much of the night endlessly tossing and turning in bed she had bolted to her feet and out the door, hoping to find something, anything, that would ease the pain of the voices in her head.

The long dark and maddening spiral downward had all began much earlier, all before she had ever even heard the name of a town in southern California that was to have been her salvation, but in the end it had very nearly turned into her damnation. At first her home life could almost have been considered idyllic, for although it was only her and her mother she was happy. But that had all changed for the worst when her mother lost her job and started hitting the bottle and servicing clients, all in trying to make the ever widening gap between bills and funds slowly crawl back closer together. Then where her life had been ideal it ebbed into a horrific existence of scrounging together whatever items of food that weren't moldy, rotten, or had past their expiration date to feed herself. Soon after she had packed her few meager belongings and hit the streets, vowing to make something of herself, to never become like her mother. She remembered the looks that people had given her mother, where once she had received looks of gentleness and support she now received looks of disgust and fear.

So many months later she had found herself in Sunnydale, but once again she found that she had been usurped by someone that even though she would never admit it was most likely stronger, faster, and smarter than she. But what hurt the most was not that she was physically inferior, at least in her eyes, by this someone new but that the new someone had something that she had craved nearly her entire life, a loving family and caring friends. She had friends back home all right but she had hidden her other life, her true calling, from them as best she could, forever fearing that if they discovered what she had been doing all those night, why she had stood them up so many times and ducked out of more engagements than she could keep track of. She was lucky enough though to at least have one person that knew everything about her double life, he was a man that had appeared suddenly one night while she was spending time with her friends, he had waited until she was alone to approach. He had tried his best to tell her all about her destiny of being some savior of the people and other high ideals like that. At first she had blown the man off with some rather strong and choice words, words that had her mother heard them would have been met with a stern scolding and possibly even a sharp slap across the face. But with her friends was different and the man, although taken aback, did not utter a word in response.

It had been several days later before she met the man again, this time she was spending the night in one of the many cemeteries of her hometown on a dare from one of her friends. He had appeared just as suddenly and mysteriously as he had those days earlier, but this time she was to tired to argue so she sat and let him tell her his whole spiel, and by the time the sun had come up, and after an attack by a newly risen vampire, she was convinced that the man was telling her the truth and not pulling her leg. It was on that night that she changed for an awkward social outcast with few friends and a soon to be booze addicted mother to being Faith, the vampire slayer. It was not long after that night that she left home and ended up in Sunnydale, hoping that she could find someone to trust with all of this newfound knowledge that she had, possibly even find a place to call home. But that new someone that she had met, the one with the loving family and caring friends had already staked her claim to the town and was to be forever dead-set against leaving. She had tried to live in Sunnydale along with that new someone but had ended up wanting nothing more than to ruin this new someone's idyllic life just as badly as her own life had been ruined, she wanted to ruin the life of Buffy Summers the vampire slayer, by any means necessary.

After being placed in, and finally recovering from, a coma at the hands of one Buffy Summers she had left town and moved away, only to end up in prison, the one place where many a person had thought that she always belonged. At first she had disagreed with them, violently at times, and as such had spent many a long night in solitary confinement, shivering against the cold stone floor of the cell, her mind almost ceasing to function normally. But after a few years of going back and forth between hot nights in her cell and bitterly cold nights in solitary confinement she had been brought in before the parole board and a miracle had happened. At first when the chair of the board told her that her haphazard request for parole had been granted her ears and brain refused to believe it, for she had been deceived before and had paid dearly for it. But this time the promise of freedom had not been a cruel joke and a few weeks later she was freed.



* * * * * * * * *

That night didn't go to well for him either. He had come to America to be the watcher for an unprecedented two active slayers. Many of the members of the council had ridiculed him with charges that he was to young, to inexperienced, to rigid to even possibly be able to handle one slayer, let alone two. His stay in Sunnydale had been fairly brief, for he had no more than gotten settled when he had seriously bungled up one of his charges by trying to turn her over to the Council after she had gone rogue. After that the rest of the gang in Sunnydale, including the watcher that he had replaced only weeks earlier, missed very few opportunities to remind him of his faults and failures, chief among them his handling of the rogue slayer. So partially because of that he had left Sunnydale and moved to Los Angeles with just about the only two friends that he had left in the world, Cordelia Chase and the vampire cursed with a soul, Angel.

And for a time he began to feel as if he had found himself a family, one that he felt more love from than his own family back in England. He had made new friends, mainly a friend in Gunn and a meek mouse of a woman that he had at first fallen in love with, but she hadn't felt the same way and had found love somewhere else. And he was glad for her, he was glad for them all; they had all found someone to love that loved them back, even Cordelia and Angel. But for him there had been no one. While it was true that he had taken to sleeping with Lilah Morgan from Wolfram and Hart he justified it by thinking that it was only sex, a way to release all of his pent up rage and frustration at his present circumstances. He had intended to save the life of his best friend's son, but had in the end wound up with his throat cut, no friends, and an ever increasing drinking habit. He knew that he needed a change but with the feeling that there was no one left in this world that gave a damn about him he ended up with the thought of. "What's the use of trying to better myself if no one gives a damn if I live or die?"

That thought and many more like it had begun to consume him. To try and keep them at bay he had set up his own crew, with him as the unchallenged leader of it. No one in his new group ever challenged his authority, after a particularly violent outburst early on he had discovered that most of his new cadre of allies thought him to be slightly off his rocker, and that was fine by him. Angel still came around at times, with regret and nervousness in his eyes, desperately wanting to ask him to come back to Angel Investigations. But for the time being he felt that he had outgrown his old life and wanted to start anew. That feeling is what led him to Charlie's Bar that dark and storm wracked night.

* * * * * * * *

She wandered the streets aimlessly bouncing from one bar to another, stealing a drink wherever she could find one, anything to try and make the pain stop. But after several hours, and several bars, she discovered that not even the sublime feeling of drunkenness could allow her to steal away even a second, let alone a minute or more, of freedom from their faces. She pushed their screams from her mind as she entered the next one. The bouncer at the door had been about to card her when she popped open the top few buttons of her shirt and had let the bouncer get a good look before kindly asking if he was still going to card her. He declined with a jubilant smile on his face as he waved her by.

She chose an empty table far away from anyone else, for she preferred to be alone, better to deal with what had become of her once promising life. By now she was far too drunk to be thinking clearly, so when an obviously drunk biker whistled and leered at her she refrained from breaking his arm, with only a faint glare cast his way. After several minutes of looking around the bar her gaze fell onto a small group of people huddled in a poorly lit corner. The five of them had pulled the table over away from the nearest light and were having a rather heated discussion about something, but she was to far away to hear what it was about. She was about to move closer when she caught site of one of their faces as someone bumped a nearby light. Even though she hadn't seen one in years the sight of a vampire wearing its game face was something that Faith could never forget, even if she tried. "Great.vampires, just what I didn't want to see," she thought as she felt someone's eyes upon her.

Feeling uncomfortable under the weight of someone staring at her, which for her was something new, she waited until a small crowd of patrons passed her table and quickly darted up from her seat, hoping to get lost in the crowd. It wasn't that she was afraid of the vampires, she was the slayer and it was her job, her destiny to stake vampires. It was the fact that at the moment she discovered that she wasn't thinking clearly, with all of the alcohol that she had consumed that night greatly impairing her judgment and cognitive skills. Even though she would never readily admit it she knew that her slayer skills had grown somewhat stagnant during her stay in prison and a battle with a cadre of vampires now was something that she simply did not need.



The bouncer barely gave her a second look as she slipped by him and headed out the bars back door which led directly into an alley behind the bar. She stepped out in the alley without really noticing where she was going and stepped right into a rather deep puddle of water. Cursing loud enough to wake the dead she pulled her foot out of the puddle and leaned up against the outside wall of the bar, just as a light rain began to fall. "Perfect.just perfect," Faith thought ruefully as she stepped back away from the wall and was soon pelted by various sized drops of the newly falling rain. Angry that she had forgotten her coat she was about to run back inside the bar when a screeching sound from some distance behind her caught her ear, prompting her to stop, turn around, and then cautiously begin to stagger towards it.

* * * * * * * * * * *

He entered Charlie's Bar having already had been to many others that night, and had heard from several intoxicated patrons that a rather young and beautiful woman had left, each time, just before he had arrived. Not thinking to much of the story Wesley had just gone about his nightly business of hitting enough bars to get him drunk enough to drown his sorrows away in the bottom of the bottle. He had begun this time sanity and money consuming routine shortly after his one time friends had cut him off. At first he had just drank to dull the pain, but now he drank to try and forget all the hardships that he had endured during his life, unfortunately he had discovered that no matter how much alcohol he consumed the memories would never go far.

Soon after entering the bar he had noticed the small group of people that were huddled in the corner. It took him a little longer to discover that the small group was comprised completely of vampires, but as he wasn't to interest in fighting he paid them little mind. He pulled out a bar stool at the far end of the bar, away from the front door, before ordering a drink of the hardest stuff that the bartender had. From behind him he heard one of the bouncers talk about how a beautiful young raven haired woman had come in earlier and had given him quite a show. At first Wesley didn't think much of the story until the bouncer had described how the young woman had for a time intently watched the small group in the corner and then the look of not shock but more of annoyance at the fact that they were vampires, saying that she had seemingly took it in stride, as if she had seen many a vampire before.

He had been about to turn and inquire as to where exactly the young woman was when a low screeching sound from a short distance away caught his attention. He turned half expecting to see a shabbily dressed bum trying to sneak in the back door or one of the bartenders returning from taking out the garbage. But he gasped when he turned and gazed over at the door, for standing in the doorway looking almost like a drowned rat, was the woman that had nearly ended his life years earlier. Standing in the doorway was his slayer, the woman that had haunted both his dreams and at times his fantasies, his old charge Faith. He quickly dropped his head and peered over his shoulder at her as she slowly and drunkenly sauntered her way back into the bar. Even though he was only barely glancing at her he was riveted. It was immediately apparent that she had changed, where as Faith had entered prison almost right out of high school, as young woman, she had definitely left that phase of her life behind. Faith had always been beautiful but now Wesley slowly glanced around the room and noticed many of the men in the bar staring greedily at her.

Truth be told the years had been kind to her, physically at least, as Wesley more than once caught even himself staring at just how tight her clothes were. Shaking the thoughts out of his head Wesley began to run possible scenarios of whether to approach her or not through his head. He couldn't exactly just walk up to her and say hello. He had only just begun to come close to a rock solid idea when a loud crash interrupted him. He turned sharply to discover that the small group of vampires that had previously been hiding in the corner were now scattered throughout the bar, in their games faces, and breaking every light that they could find. The last thing that he saw before the entire bar went black was Faith turning towards him and her eyes growing wide in the shock of recognition.

END OF CHAPTER 1