"Where the hell are they now!?" Andrew screams at his monitors. "Why did I let you talk me into this? I just wanted to live my life! I never wanted to be part of your evil plans!" He's been frantically flipping through his video feeds, and he can't find them anywhere. He heard them talking about a special place, but they never said where it was.
"You are getting really annoying." Warren frowns and crosses his arms. He had hoped he had planted a seed in Buffy, something that would tear them all apart. She was the key to all of his plans. It had been true what he told her, it was because of her that he was even able to take any form in this world.
Suddenly he felt a wavering in his power, his image was distorting.
"What's happening to you?" Andrew looks over concerned, but also a little hopeful. He was really tired of all this but knew the first would never leave him alone.
Warren can't respond, his foothold into this world slipping away. Slowly his image is becoming more and more transparent until it's gone completely.
Andrew jumps out of his chair, a smile plastered on his face.
XXXX XXXX XXXX
"B?" Faith kneels down to attempt to get her attention, "What's wrong?" Turning to Tara, "What did it do to her?"
Instead of answering, "Do you know what this place is?" Tara asked.
"No, it's just this place we started dreaming about." She doesn't understand why they're talking about this. She guesses that Buffy is not in danger or the witches would show some concern, she tries to relax and listen to what they're telling her.
"That makes sense, you needed to be here. The Earth was trying to heal Buffy."
"Heal her?" Faith looks confused, Buffy seems awake, but she's still not responsive.
"When we brought her back, a small part of her soul was damaged," Willow responds sadly, knowing her decisions cause untold suffering to her friend, and came close to helping to open the Hellmouth. "It's why the First was able to gain access to our dimension."
"But we've been here before, and nothing like this happened." Faith frowns, the idea of some part of Buffy being damaged before confuses her. It made her worry about the things Buffy had said before, about this being hell.
"The Scythe was part of it, its power had been corrupted. That's why it had been trapped in stone all this time, and all record of it had been destroyed. They didn't know how to expel the corruption. Instead, they just sealed it away." Tara pauses, "Thousands of years ago a warlock had gotten a hold of it. He was trying to corrupt the slayer line and turn them evil. Anya didn't know all the details of how it was trapped, but when it was it weakened the slayer powers."
"So we were always meant to be this strong and fast?"
"You were." Tara smiled, "When you removed the Scythe, your full powers were restored."
Buffy finally seemed to be breaking out of her trance. She's still kneeling on the ground, holding the Scythe, staring at it in confusion.
"Are you ok?" Faith asks cautiously, kneeling herself she reaches over to brush a strand of hair from Buffy's face.
"The First is gone." Her voice was so soft that only Faith could hear her.
"How do you know?"
She looked down at the Scythe and shook her head. "I'm not sure how I know, but I do."
Faith nodded and helped Buffy to stand up.
"There's something else you need to know." Tara paused, everyone is staring at her. "The whole one girl in all the world thing? That was part of the corruption of the slayer line."
"What do you mean?" Giles asks, he was completely mystified by everything that had been happening.
Tara smiled softly, "There were hundreds of slayers before the Scythe was stolen and corrupted and now there will be again."
"Hundreds!" Willow, Faith, Buffy, and Giles all called out in once.
"Hundreds of super powered teleporting girls? This is going to be interesting." Buffy smiles and reaches for Faith's hand.
"I don't think they'll be able to teleport," Tara says shaking her head.
"What makes you say that?"
"You were only given that power because you needed to find this place."
"Does that mean we're going to lose it now? We're not trapped here are we?"
Tara shakes her head, "No, I don't think it will go away. You're meant to be able to access this place whenever you need to. It's yours now."
Faith and Buffy look to each other and smile, both relieved that they wouldn't be cut off from this place. It felt like it was part of them now.
"How do you know all this?" Giles asked, trying not to sound irritated. Everything she was saying goes against what he's always thought was true.
Tara sits cross-legged in the grass, holding her hands to the ground and closing her eyes, letting the power of the Earth wash over her. "The Scythe told me. The part of it that was pure, it kept pulling me in, trying to tell me what needed to be done. The corruption kept me from remembering." Willow knelt by her side and smiled, holding her tightly. She was relieved to learn that Tara hadn't been hurt by the trances the Scythe put her in. "That's why I was knocked out during the fire. The Scythe was showing me what I needed to see, telling me what I needed to do."
The group stands in silence, each pondering what they've just learned. Faith was the only one who was frowning. Finding out that something had been missing from Buffy started to eat at her confidence. Everyday she would wake up and before opening her eyes she would wonder if this is the day that the fantasy would end. She would always have a flicker of fear that Buffy wouldn't be lying next to her, or that she'd find out she was still in a coma and this had all been a dream. She's certain now that things will change, that Buffy will be different towards her. Any love they might have shared was all just part of whatever it was that was wrong with Buffy.
"Do you think the new slayers are going to come find us?" Buffy asks, not yet sure how she felt about this news. She liked the idea of having more warriors in the fight against evil, but it saddened her to think more girls would have to share her burden.
"Most likely, we'll have to decide what we are going to do with them." Tara nods in response.
"They'll need guidance and training. The council doesn't have the resources to handle that many slayers." Giles adds, frowning. He was still cut off from the council, but he would have to contact them now and try to explain everything that has happened. He knew they would make things difficult.
"They can't even handle two." Buffy grinned and squeezed Faith's hand. Buffy felt so much better since holding the Scythe. Her pain still existed, she still remembered what it was like to be in heaven, she still remembered how it felt when she gave up. But now, she was focused on the amazing things in her life. She no longer felt defined by her pain.
Later that night, Faith and Buffy lay together in bed. Faith on her back, arms behind her head and staring at the ceiling. Faith had been quiet and distant, not pushing Buffy away, but not responding positively to any contact that Buffy tried to initiate.
"B?" Buffy rolls over, she had been laying on her side facing away from Faith, embarrassed at the way she had let the First get into her head. Knowing that they had a lot to talk about, but not sure how to start the conversation. "Are we ok?"
"I was going to ask you that. Can you forgive me for letting the First trick me? I'm so sorry that I ever doubted anything about you." Buffy's green eyes are earnest and hopeful that they'll get through this, that everything will be ok.
Faith looks thoughtfully at Buffy, her face unreadable. "What did she say to you, you still haven't told me."
Buffy sighs and sits up, leaning against the headboard. "She told me you didn't have to kill Angel, that you only did it because you were jealous."
"And you actually believed that?" Faith groaned and sat up, sitting on the side of the bed, facing away from Buffy.
"I never believed it, I didn't from the moment you told me."
"You must have. Otherwise, it wouldn't have freaked you out so much." Faith stands up and slides her jeans on.
"Where are you going?" Buffy's voice is tinged with fear.
Faith doesn't answer, she finishes getting dressed and vanishes.
Buffy jumps out of bed and quickly throws some clothes on and chases after her.
She arrives to find Faith standing in their meadow, staring off into the trees. WIthout turning to face Buffy, she sighs. "We should probably talk."
Buffy frowned, she knew they would have to talk more about her earlier freakout, she just didn't understand why Faith was so distant. Everything should be OK now, she was whole, the first was gone. They still had super powers and they were about to get a lot more warriors to help fight evil. They should get to be happy now.
"I'm going to move to LA, take over for Angel. Since you know… It's my fault that he's gone."
"What!? No, you can't! It not your fault!" Buffy looks up, completely shocked. "We can go there anytime they need us. There's no reason for you to move there."
Faith covers her hands with her face and rubs her cheeks, "I just think we each need some time and space to figure out who we are and what we want." Faith says calmly, looking off into the woods. "You needed me to be here before, but you don't anymore."
"That's not true!"
"It is true. You've gone through so much, but now whatever was missing from you is back. You don't need me."
"I know I freaked out for a minute, but I thought..." Buffy pauses, trying to find the right words. "You said we were amazing together."
"I just said that so you'd come with me to find out what Tara had to say."
"Why are you doing this?" Buffy gasped before she dropped to the ground, pulling her knees to her chest and hanging her head.
Faith sighed and sat on the grass next to Buffy, keeping a healthy distance between them. "Because it's the right thing to do. We've both had so much magic done to us, who knows what we're really feeling anymore."
Buffy jumps to standing. "No."
"No?" Faith smirks, taken off guard by the sudden change in Buffy.
"Everyone always seems to think that leaving me is the right thing to do. It's not happening this time." Buffy climbs on Faith, pushing her the rest of the way to the ground. "I'm sorry if I doubted you for a second. I can't promise I won't have moments of despair or confusion again. But I know what we have is real. I'm not letting you leave me too."
"You have to, I've made up my mind."
"Well, un-make it up!" Buffy is scared now, she doesn't know what Faith needs to hear to make this better. The thought of Faith leaving her is causing her physical pain.
"I'm asking you to let me go." Faith's voice is soft but resolute.
"And I'm saying no. We belong together and you know it."
"What if I want to go?"
Buffy is taken aback by this, she doesn't believe for a second that Faith really wants to leave. She couldn't bare the thought of hurting Faith by making her stay though. "Do you? Can you honestly tell me that you want to leave me?"
Shaking her head, Faith looks away from Buffy, "I'm trying to do the right thing here, B."
"I know you are, but you're wrong about what the right thing is!" Buffy turns Faith's face, looking deep into her eyes. "Whether or not I need you here, I want you to be with me. Always."
Faith grins beneath Buffy, without saying anything she vanishes. Buffy quickly hops up and follows her. She arrives just in time to watch Faith entering the Bronze. Faith walks up to the bar and orders a drink, sitting at one of the stools. Buffy approaches and takes the stool next to her.
Faith quickly drinks her shot and spins around in her seat, without a glance at Buffy she hops up and heads towards the dance floor. Buffy is entranced, her eyes glued to Faith as she moves. Remembering their first night together her body starts to feel warm. She's not sure what Faith is doing here, she hopes it means that she's going to stay.
Several guys approach Faith as she dances, she doesn't pay any attention to them, but she also doesn't push them away. Buffy makes her move, working her way through the crowd. She reaches Faith and begins to dance with her, Faith finally makes eye contact. The rest of the world falls away.
Faith stops her by gently placing a finger over her lips. "Just dance with me."
Buffy moves closer, placing her hands on Faith sides, pulling them closer together. Their hands are beginning to wander, each desperately wanting more contact. Buffy wanted to leave now, but she felt that Faith needed to make the choice. Faith seemed to be delighting in the effect she was having on Buffy. Smirking at the smaller slayer who was squirming and almost salivating at the contact that wasn't nearly enough.
Finally, Buffy couldn't take it anymore. "Please." She moaned into Faith's ear.
Faith grinned and led them to the exit, knowing everyone was probably watching them and would notice if they suddenly vanished. As soon as they were in the alley, Buffy pounced on Faith immediately, wrapping her legs around her waist and kissing her deeply. They're disrupted by the sound of someone clearing their throat.
Without climbing off of Faith, Buffy turns her head to see a man she vaguely recognizes standing there. "Sorry to disrupt your evening ladies but I think we have some things to talk about."
Buffy frowns burying her face in Faith's shoulder, but then taking a deep breath and moving to stand on her own. "What do you want?"
"Do you know who I am?"
"You're the last of those three idiots who have been trying to drive us crazy." Faith answers, she would never forget them or what they had tried to do to her.
"Not exactly how I'd put it, but I guess that's right." Andrew frowns, not sure why he was expecting them to be happy to see him. "I just wanted to let you know that I'm not going to be bothering you anymore."
"You bothered us to tell us you weren't going to bother us? That's fantastic." Buffy quips and rolls her eyes in exasperation.
Andrew holds up his hands defensively, "Just listen. I was gone from here, and happy. But then Jonathan and Warren kept coming to me, and they wouldn't leave me alone until I came after you. I didn't want to hurt anyone, they just wouldn't leave me alone." He whines to them, they roll their eyes at how pathetic he is.
"So you were going to unleash hell on earth because they were annoying you?" Buffy asks incredulously.
Andrew nods, not understanding how ridiculous he's been, "But the first is gone now, I saw him wither and vanish. So I'm leaving town."
"That's great, have fun." Faith replies, reaching for Buffy's hand so they could leave.
"Well, there's just one small problem."
"I need money."
"What do you want us to do about it? We don't have any money." Buffy responds, starting to wonder if it would be ok to pound on him.
"But you can get money. You can zip into any bank anywhere and take all the money they have, and no one would ever know." He beams at them, thinking his request is perfectly reasonable.
"You're insane," Buffy replies.
Andrew frowns, "If you want me to leave, you have to help me."
"I'm not sure we care that much what you do." Faith replies, growing very tired of this conversation.
"You probably don't realize this, but my thing is technology. I have cameras everywhere. Even watching the Hellmouth." He grins as the realization hits them. "So you're going to do what I want, or you're both going to jail."
The slayers eyes widen at this news. Faith's eyes narrow and she takes a step towards the man.
"Before you get any ideas… If anything happens to me the video is set to automatically be sent to the police. I suggest you go get my money right now, you have 15 minutes."
Buffy and Faith nod to each other and vanish.
"Willow! Wake up!" Buffy is by Willow's bed, shaking her.
"What? What's wrong?"
"Need your help, now." Without giving her a chance to ask any more questions, she brings her to Andrew's apartment.
"You couldn't let me get dressed?" Willow stands in the apartment in her very skimpy pajamas. Feeling exposed and self-conscious in this strange place.
"There's no time. I wasn't even sure this was going to work. I've never been here before." She looks around Andrew's apartment in disgust.
"What is going on?"
"Andrew has a video of us killing the principal. He says he's going to release it if we don't steal money for him. He said there's something that will automatically send it out if anything happens to him. Faith is working on the money, and delaying him, while you take care of the video."
Willow is fully awake now, shocked by everything she's just heard. She spots Andrew's computer and gets to work. Touching the keyboard, she closes her eyes and lets the magic flow through her. "I found it. Oh my god." She whispers in shock. Buffy had never gone into the details of what they had done. Seeing how they behaved scared her immensely. She did her best to remind herself that it wasn't really her friends doing those things.
"Can you erase it?"
"I'm working on it, I need to make sure there are no other copies or fail-safes."
"I'll be back."
Buffy finds Faith in a bank vault, slowly moving stacks of bills into a large bag. "Can Red fix it?"
"I think so, she found the video. She saw what we did." Buffy frowns and leans against the wall of the vault.
Faith sighs, stopping her work. "So what should we do now?"
"I've got an idea." Buffy grins, and they return to Willow. "Did you fix it?" Willow jumps at the sound of Buffy's voice.
"I need more time."
Buffy looks at her watch, there are only five minutes left, "we don't have much more time."
"The video upload has mystical protections on them, not just technological. It will take time for me to break through without triggering the upload myself."
"Can you edit the video instead? Just erase us or something?" Faith suggests.
"I can try." Willow gets back to work.
The 15 minutes is just about up, they return Willow to her bed before meeting with Andrew.
"Cutting it pretty close ladies." He frowns, "I don't see my money."
"We didn't want to bring it here, it didn't seem safe. Not like you could carry it all anyway." Faith grins moving towards Andrew.
"What are you doing? You can't hurt me!" He squeals and attempts to back away.
"We would never hurt you!" Buffy responds with exaggerated shock in her voice.
"We're just going to take you to your money." Faith smiles, Andrew is not at all calmed by her words.
"Do you think I don't know that Willow would have tried to stop the upload? I know she's a super witch, but she can't stop it. If she even gets close, the file will automatically be sent."
"We're not worried, you can explain everything to them once they find you." Buffy grins.
The slayers approach and bring him to the same vault Faith had been in earlier. "Here's all your money. Enjoy it." Faith winks at him before they vanish, returning to their meadow.
"Do you think he has cameras everywhere… like all over the house?" Buffy shivers in response to the idea of being spied on.
"Probably." Faith frowns, now that the immediate threat is gone again she starts to doubt everything again. She had brought them to the Bronze, hoping to recreate the feelings of their first night together. It definitely worked, there was no doubt they had serious physical desires for each other. It just didn't do what she had hoped for the pain she was feeling. She had never cared about anyone before, not like this. Buffy's doubt felt like a dagger in her heart.
Buffy wraps her arms around Faith from behind and pulls her close. Leaning her chin on her shoulder. Faith lays her hands over Buffy's and leans into the embrace.
"Do you feel different now?" Faith asks quietly, she needed to find some way to believe that all this was real. To accept that Buffy's doubt was temporary and just because of the magic, not because any of it was real.
"A little." She's nuzzling Faith's neck now, she has other things on her mind besides talking.
Faith moans into the contact and then shakes her head, turning and gently pushing Buffy away. "I need to understand. If you want me to stay, I need to know what happened."
"But I thought…" Buffy frowns, she had thought they had worked this out. She knew she hurt Faith with her doubt, she just didn't know how to fix it. Looking over at Faith she sighed and braced herself, "What if I can't explain it? What if I don't even understand it myself?" Buffy's heart was breaking as she watched Faith shake her head and turn away. "What is it that you're afraid of?"
"I'm not afraid of anything," Faith replies without turning around.
"Then why can't you look at me?"
Faith sighs and shrugs, looking down at the ground. "It just hurt so much when you doubted me. It made me feel like I did when we first met. Like I was worthless."
Buffy begins to cry, "I'm so sorry that I did that to you, then and now." She wipes her tears away and moves to face Faith. "You are far from worthless. You've proved yourself over and over again." Faith only closes her eyes and shrugs. "Tara told me what the Scythe was doing to you."
Faith's eyes fly open, and she takes a step back. "What did she tell you?"
"Not much really," Buffy closes the distance between them, gently placing her hands on Faith's arms. "I only know that your strength is the only reason we survived this. If I had been the one to pick up the scythe first…" She trails off, too afraid to admit that she didn't think she could have resisted its corruption.
"We don't know what would have happened. It wasn't that big of a deal."
"It was a huge deal. The Scythe was constantly baiting you, trying to get you to hurt people. But you resisted."
"None of that matters now..." Faith frowns, her fists are clenched at her sides and she shaking.
"Yes it does, you were fighting with all you had to keep us safe, and there I was doubting you. It's no wonder you don't trust me anymore." Buffy pauses, staring at Faith, "We were so happy. It almost didn't seem real, I think that's part of why what the First said got to me. I had given up on love. I had decided there was no one out there that could ever love me. Maybe you feel the same way too? Maybe part of you doesn't understand how we could actually be happy together?"
Faith says nothing, she just shifts awkwardly.
"Tell me that you're doing this for you, and I'll try to find some way to accept it. If you can say that being with me hurts you, I'll let you go." Buffy can barely get these words out, tears are streaming down her face.
Faith looks into Buffy's eyes and carefully wipes away the tears. "You know I can't say any of that." Buffy's willingness to let her go makes her realize how wrong she's been. No one has ever put her feelings before their own before. She could see how much it hurt Buffy to say it, but somehow she had found the perfect thing to say.
Buffy's eyes light up, "I love you more than I have words for." She kisses Faith with all that she has. Running her fingers through her hair and holding her close. Faith shuts off her fear and melts into Buffy's embrace. Faith can feel her walls coming down again, knowing that she's opening herself up to be hurt again. Deciding that it's worth the possible pain to finally accept that she's truly loved.
The police are at the Summers' door the next morning. The slayers had been expecting the visit to happen sooner or later. They had sent Dawn, Tara and Willow out for the day, not wanting them to have to deal with the police. Or to see if things didn't go quite they way they had hoped. Faith had been very nervous that she would be arrested, it took a lot of convincing and promises of future favors to get her to be willing to be here.
"Are you Buffy Summers and Faith Lehane?" There is a detective and two uniformed officers at the door.
"Yes, is there a problem?" Buffy asks, trying to sound calm. They had been nervously sitting around the house all morning, just waiting to find out whether or not their plan had worked. They couldn't even talk about it because the surveillance was still active.
"We found some alarming evidence this morning, and we need to inspect your home."
"Inspect it for what? What is going on?" Buffy asks, guessing that they found Andrew and had searched his home.
"Do you know an Andrew Wells?" The detective consults his notebook, making sure to get the name right.
"We know that he and his friends were harassing us, but we thought he was gone." Faith answers.
"We found him this morning in a rather unusual place. He accused you two of kidnapping him."
The slayers laughed, "Why would we have done that?"
"Yes, well, it does seem rather unlikely. He also made some rather unusual claims about you two." The detective shifts nervously, it was an open secret that there was something otherworldly going on at the Summers' home. The police generally stayed out of their business because it was also known that the death rate in the town had dramatically decreased since their arrival.
They received a video the previous night, the video was very blurry and there was no sound. The techs had been working all morning and had not managed to make any improvements. There were only vague shapes, possibly of 4 people in an unrecognizable place. Andrew had tried to convince them that Buffy and Faith were on the video and that they had killed the principal and another unknown male. They hadn't been able to identify the location of the event, nor locate any bodies.
With his previous record of being an accomplice to kidnapping and murder, the police did not take his claims seriously. It did not help his cause that he had been monitoring them and their friends for quite some time, there was no doubt he had it out for them. His claims were dismissed, there simply wasn't enough evidence to prove they had done anything wrong.
"What did he say?" Faith asks nervously, she did not have a great history with the police and feared that they might take that into account. She wasn't even sure if she wasn't still in trouble for breaking out of jail. Angel had never explained what he did, and now there was no way to ask him.
"It's not really important, we searched his home and found that he has been surveilling you and your friends for quite some time. We have other officers visiting your friends to remove the equipment, we'd like to do the same for you."
"He's been watching us!" Buffy scrunches her face. Trying to show as much surprise and disgust as possible. The slayers move aside as the officers enter and begin removing the various pieces of equipment. Buffy is truly shocked to see the amount of gear that was removed, there were several cameras and listening devices in all rooms in the house. She shuddered to think what might have been recorded. They should have had Willow wipe the drives before they left, but it didn't occur to them.
The detective looks at them for a moment, "So you know… We have erased all of the footage."
"That is a relief, thank you." Buffy smiles at the detective.
"Can you build it?" Buffy turns to Xander, he's looking over the blueprints of a cottage with a few rooms and a large barn. He marks the paper in a few locations, making note of what materials he might need.
"Yeah, it's not too complicated but it'll take some time." He nods and places the pencil behind his ear.
"Make sure to put them to work." Faith walks up behind, grinning. She's covered in sweat from training the new slayers. And laughs when she goes to hug Buffy but is pushed away.
"Eww." Buffy giggled as she fends off Faith's advances.
"Come on, it's your turn with the baby slayers. Then we'll both be sweaty and gross."
"I guess that's better." Buffy sticks her tongue out at Faith and heads towards the slayers in training. They're in various stages of gasping for breath, some have fallen to their knees trying not to dry heave. They had tried out several new watchers, but none had been able to keep up with the extreme strength and speed of the slayers. It was decided that Buffy and Faith would have to handle the physical training. The watchers would manage any of the book training they might need.
"Break time is over!"
They groan as they stand up.
"It's not fair! You guys get to rest!" A particularly sassy slayer replies.
"Kennedy right? I'll make you a deal. If you can land a hit on me, you'll all get the rest of the day off from training."
Kennedy perks up and launches herself at Buffy, she feints right and strikes with her left. Buffy quickly deflects the move and smacks her lightly on the shoulder. Kennedy grunts in annoyance but strikes out with her left foot. Buffy spins, avoiding the kick and knocks her to the ground with an outstretched foot.
With a growl, Kennedy leaps to her feet and throws a flurry of punches, one of which grazes Buffy's right shoulder. "A-ha!"
"I guess we'll count that." Buffy grins, and all the slayers breathe a deep sigh of relief. "Ok, no more training for today. You can report to Xander for house building instead."
"What!" The look of triumph is wiped off of Kennedy's face.
"That was just mean, B." Faith says, laughing at the look of dismay on everyone's faces.
"Yeah, but it was fun."