Chapter Eight: Hold the Line

Dinner was moving along quite nicely. The atmosphere was light, the conversation touches on the unimportant, the trivial, even meaningless and travels the route to the absurd. Occasionally soft laughter would fill the homey little dinning room when one of the three women would say, or do, something the others would find amusing.

Joyce watches with more then a little wonder at how easy and happy the two young girls are with each other. She can't really remember when she's last seen Buffy looking so bright and open, carefree and joyous.

The last year she had watched helplessly as all the light, the very life itself, was drained out of her daughter. Replaced by a dark, cold void. Her own actions, when confronted with the why of it, had done nothing to lessen Buffy's burden. If anything they simply exacerbated the matter even further.

Even after her return home she was still distant, shut off from everyone around her. Her closest friends were kept at arms length, especially after that debacle of a welcome home party.

She had wanted to string Buffy's friends up herself after that.

It wasn't until Faith's arrival that she began to see Buffy acting like her former self. While it wasn't the relationship she would have chosen for her daughter, she wasn't about to stand in its way. Not when just being in Faith's presence was enough to make her beam so bright she could practically turn night to day just with the light shining in her eyes.

And Faith, the reticent, dark hair girl that had simply barged into their lives a few weeks ago. She was beginning to open up. Not that she hadn't been talkative to begin with, and she didn't stop bragging or telling tall tales, but a lot of the bluster was gone. It was almost like she no longer felt a need to pretend to be something she wasn't anymore. Like she was just becoming use to being herself and having people see her without the facade. In the short time Faith had been with them, Joyce had begun to think of the brunette as another daughter.

She's extremely glad for both girls and while it wasn't the relationship she was hoping for, it was better then Buffy being involved with Angel. Better then most of the people Joyce could picture her daughter dating.

All she really wants is for both girls to be as happy as possible. She can only hope, and pray that the two of them have the strength to stand against whatever the world is going to throws at them. And maybe for God to show mercy on anyone who tries to ruin their peace and happiness because she wouldn't

Joyce smiles broadly as she watches and listens to the two of them banter back and forth, lightly teasing each other. They were so easy and natural with each other, one simply seems the extension of the other, as if the two of them make a whole.

Watching them she knew one thing. She would do whatever is necessary to keep them safe. To protect them from the world for as long as she could.

The two slayers walk back towards the school, from an extremely pleasant dinner, side by side, hand in hand, arms intertwined. The silence between them is companionable, not tense or strained. Just two young people in love enjoying a slightly cooler then seasonal evening.

Buffy however could sense something was bothering Faith. Normally she would wait for the brunette at her side to open up, to come to her with whatever is troubling her.

It had actually taken Willow to point out the fact that Faith isn't the type of person to spontaneously start talking about the things she found vexing.

The tiny blonde had taken her best friend's advice, striking up a conversation and taken the lead in her and Faith's relationship. A lead Faith seems more then willing to follow.

Buffy still had to think up an appropriate thank you for Willow.

While Faith is more open- not just around her, but around everyone- its just the surface she was sharing. The things that are really bothering her she still didn't like to talk about. With anyone.

That is why Buffy now finds herself asking, "what is it?"

Faith looks up a slight tinge of fear sparkling in her dark eyes. "What's what?" She asks, but just a little too defensively for her own ears.

Buffy gives her girlfriend a wry look as she responds saying, "that what?"

Faith sighs slightly. She honestly didn't know what was bothering. She felt great, both physically and psychologically- the first time she could say that- but there is something nagging at the back of her mind. "Nothing's wrong, not really."

"Then why do I feel like there's this little piece of you that missing?" She asks the concern etching her voice.

"You're not," Faith assures her tiny blond girlfriend while giving her hand a tight squeeze. "Everything's perfect. For the first time in my life I'm someplace I feel like I belong," she adds. Taking a deep breath she continues by saying, "there's just this feeling... Like I can feel someone breathing down my neck."

"Waiting for the bubble to burst," Buffy murmurs.

"Huh?" Faith asks unsure of exactly what Buffy said or meant by it.

Buffy exhales sharply as the two of them continue on their trek back to the high school. "Last year, when I was dating Angel, it felt like I was living in my own little world. A bubble that nobody could get inside. Everything was perfect, and then..." She stops taking a deep breath.

"The bubble burst," Faith finishes for her.

"Yeah," Buffy agrees with a small nod. "Everyone told me it was a bad idea, that it could never work between us. And well, they were right."

"Hey," Faith growls sharply pulling Buffy to a stop. Turning the blonde to her she lifts her head so she could look her in the eyes. "What happened wasn't your fault," she informs her sternly.

"I know," Buffy replies as she tucks a stray lock of Faith's hair back behind her ear. "It still doesn't make me feel any less responsible."

Faith gives a small shrug as she slides her hands down Buffy's side, to her hips. With a light tug she easily pulls the blonde to her. "It doesn't mean you are though," she says softly, but quite firmly, while stepping backwards and pulling Buffy with her. She doesn't stop until her back hits a large, thick bole of an oak.

Buffy grins wickedly as she falls into Faith's strong arms. She knew if they stay as they are for any length of time, they were going to be even later getting to the library then what they already are. Her mind however was having a very hard time convincing her body of the severity of the situation. Mustering what little self control she has Buffy manages to murmur, "tell you what."

"What?" Faith breathes out huskily. Her fingernails drawing small circles on the sensitive flesh of Buffy's sides as somehow they had managed to find their way under the blonde's light silk blouse.

Buffy leans, arches, forward slightly, pressing herself into Faith as shivers run up and down her spine. Resting her forehead on the brunette's she runs her fingers through Faith's dark tresses just above her right ear. "You try to convince yourself that you deserve to be this happy and I'll try not to blame myself for things I can't control."

"You think you can do it?" Faith challenges with a teasing smirk a brief moment before shifting her head and sweeping in to capture Buffy's soft, lush lips with her own. Its a slow, sensual, smoldering joining that has Buffy leaning up slightly in an attempt to deepen the kiss as her tangles in Faith's hair drawing her closer. Pressing her body fully into the brunette's.

Slowly, after nearly a minute or more, they break apart slightly, breathlessly. Buffy smiles upwards at Faith. Despite a tiny tremble in her abdomen she playfully inquires, with an equally challenging tone in her voice, "think you can?"

Faith's broadening grin is the only answer Buffy receives. The next instant Faith is gliding back in, recapturing her lips in another searing kiss. Her right hand snaking up along her back to pull the blonde tighter still. Without hesitation she slips her tongue between Buffy's lips and enters her small, moist and extremely hot mouth. She feels her entire body, every single muscle, contract and relax at the same instant, from nothing more then this one simple kiss. Unconsciously she moans into Buffy's mouth as her eyes slip close and the moment slides into pure bliss.

A small smile plays over Buffy's lips. It falls away a moment later as she recriminates herself. A moment later it was back again as recent memories flash through her mind.

If she didn't think about it too much she could still feel Faith's amazingly deft fingers lighting a blaze along her skin as she melts into their fiercely passionate kisses of just a few short hours ago. An impromptu make out session that lasted far too long, but nowhere near long enough.

As far as Buffy is concerned, nothing would ever be long enough when it came to spending time with Faith. Whether just gazing at her- awake or asleep- talking with her, kissing her, sparing with her. Making love to her.

Not that the two of them have consummated their relationship yet, but it was getting harder and harder to stop themselves. Each time it took just that little bit more to restrain themselves. Each time their will to restrain themselves is just that much weaker.

Both of them want the time to be right, when everything is perfect. When they both feel they're ready to take their relationship to that next level.

Tonight had been the closest yet. With her brain not working, and her body running on auto pilot. Everything had just been clicking for them.

Surprisingly it had been Faith that had hit the brakes. Reminding her that they had to get to the library. That they were late already.

Late wasn't really the word Buffy would have used to describe their tardiness. Extremely late would be better, but still not it. Lost in the Bermuda Triangle, for thirty years, kind of late would do though.

None of her friends had said anything. Well Xander almost did, but Cordelia put the kibosh on that. Willow's face had a bright flush and she was stammering her words a little more then normal and she definitely had that look in her eyes that said I wanna talk with you missy. Giles had been studiously cleaning his glasses, and when he spoke to either her or Faith he stammered only slightly less then Willow.

So everyone knew what her Faith had been up to, but at least they all had the decency not to say anything.

A sudden crashing in the underbrush snaps Buffy back to the present. She silently curses herself for allowing her mind to wonder in the middle of a patrol.

She begins to spin as soon as she registers the noise. Her movements coming a fraction of a second to late to avoid the heavy body that slams into her. It was enough so she doesn't get hit with the full force of the impact. The blow is still solid enough to send her crashing to the ground.

Buffy whirls, bringing herself to a kneeling crouch, coming face to face with whatever it was that had come bounding out of the woods.

Her heart stops in her chest. Her breath catches in her throat. Her brain freezes as one word escapes her lips.


It wasn't possible. She had sent him to hell. Put the sword through his heart. Watched Acathla suck him down and seal him away forever.

"No!" Buffy snarls softly.

Angel growls at her. As savage, as animalistic of a sound as she has ever heard. A sound that couldn't possible come from a rational being.

He lunges at her without recognition. His arms outstretched, fingers hooked into claws meant to rend her flesh like some kind of wild, savage beast.

Buffy reacts instinctively, thankful for the nearly two weeks worth of intensive training Giles has been putting her and Faith through. Her reactions are faster then they have ever been. She's more comfortable with her own strength and abilities then she's ever been.

She grabs hold of his wrist with her own hands as she begins to roll backwards. Planting her feet in his midsection she heaves upward sending him soaring into the air, and then pulling him back down, crashing into the ground with bone crushing force.

Buffy continues her roll landing on top of Angel, straddling his chest. He continues to struggle weakly. Buffy can feel months of pent up rage, frustration, and humiliation come roiling to the surface as she looks down upon the face of the man that made her life a living hell for so long.

She had thought she was over it. That she had been able to deal with everything without ever really confronting him. With a snarl spreading across her lip that matches his, she pulls back her arm and delivers a massive punch to the side of his head.

Faith leans back in the high back wooden chair, easily keeping it balanced on two legs. Her feet tap lightly on the edge of the table keeping time with the pulsing techno beat pouring into her skull through the CD walkman's headphones. The walkman itself is nestled comfortably in her lap while she leisurely reads Buffy's American Lit assignment.

Call of the Wild

It wasn't bad, as far as books go. A little long winded for her taste. Nothing at all like the hard hitting action she enjoyed in comics, or the fast pace, pulse pounding action adventure books she sometimes read. There was something about it though that kept her reading, word after word, and turning the pages. She had no idea what it is, but then again she wasn't really thinking about it.

She was just glad she didn't have to take the class for another two years. If she passed all her current classes this year and the classes she would have to take next year. Then she might be stuck reading this book again.

She could still feel Buffy's fingers on her skin. Like ghostly touches that send little jolts up her spine short circuiting her brain.

They had been so close tonight. Closer then they had ever been before. In the dark. In the shadows provided by a large oak. Where if anyone looked closely enough they would have seen, would have known, exactly what they were doing.

Seeing so much desire and passion in Buffy's eyes, that hungry look that could never be satisfied, had almost sent her head long in to the abyss. She had nearly fallen right there and then. Rode out that wild current and the consequences be damned.

It had taken all her strength to keep some hold on her self control and restrain herself. Dragging herself out of that sweet oblivion by the bare skin of her fingernails.

Sex was simple. She was use to it. Had been since before most other children knew what the word meant. Its her weapon and her tool, and she's used it often enough as both to get what she wants.

That, however, isn't what she wants with Buffy. She wants every time they're together to be magical. Not just the first, or the second, the third, fourth, thousandth, or millionth, but each and every time that they're together to be just as special as the first. A complete and utter sharing of the love they feel for each other, to turn that ethereal emotion into a physical force.

And that hadn't been tonight.

She wasn't ready for sex to mean anything more then that. Not yet. She still too much in her past she has to deal with before she would be ready for that.

Only there wasn't anybody around that she could talk to. There was, but she didn't really think any of them are capable, not that they wouldn't try, just that they wouldn't know how to deal with what she would tell them. What she really needs is someone with professional training.

A soft touch on her shoulder causes Faith to jump. The chair topples over backwards, the book flying from her hands as the walkman crashes to the floor, and she flips back. Her left foot lashes out, her toes make contact with something hard.

Buffy falls back, the move taking her totally by surprise, while Faith rolls smoothly to her feet. "Oh, shit," she gasps seeing Buffy with her right hand pressed to her forehead. "I'm so sorry. I didn't know..." She starts, quickly moving to Buffy's side, brushing her hand away to check on the small bruise forming.

Buffy waves the comment off even as she allows Faith to look over the injury. "My mistake. Sneaking up on a slayer like that," she adds taking Faith's hands in her own. "Nice move by the way."

Faith gives a little shrug feeling her heart beat just a little faster. "I wasn't really thinking about... It just sort of came out."

"And if I was watching you do it to someone else instead of me I'd heaping loads of praise on your inventiveness, creativity, and accuracy," she replies playfully. A moment later a slight frown slides across her face as reality slips back in and she remembers why she came here.

Faith sees the pensive expression that settles on Buffy's face. "What?" She asks a slight hitch to her voice. "Something happened?"

Buffy gives her a small nod saying, "yeah. Something happened all right." Her voice is soft and she wishes she could be anywhere but here, but knows there isn't anywhere else she wants to be. Or anyone else she wants to be with.

Faith's eyes narrow sensing Buffy's distress. "What?" She pleads.

Buffy looks up locking eyes with Faith. She hesitates for a brief instant before she says a single word. "Angel."

Faith blinks at the word. She can feel the world tilt as it falls away under her. "What?" She repeats with a slight shake of her head. She must have heard Buffy wrong. It sounded like she said Angel, but that was impossible.

Wasn't it?

Buffy had sent Angel to hell. Literally. He couldn't be back. It wasn't possible.

"Angel," Buffy repeats holding tight to Faith's hands.

She shakes her head again, her black tresses swaying back and forth. "That's... How could?"

Buffy gives her head a sharp jerk. "I don't know," she says. "I was on patrol and he was just there. He came out of nowhere, like an animal. He attacked without warning..."

"Are you okay?"

Buffy nods. "I think you did more damage," she murmurs brushing a rogue lock of hair out from in front of Faith's eyes.

The brunette ducks her head slightly with the attention. After a moment she asks, "what happened?" She knows what she would like to have happen. She doubts it though. It wasn't in Buffy's nature to kill someone she loves, and Faith wasn't dumb enough to believe Buffy simply stopped loving Angel, even if she had sent him to hell.

"Knocked him out. Chained him up in his mansion," she answers with a shrug.

Faith nods at the reply. It was about what she had expected.

Buffy drops into the chair seemingly running out of energy. "He was suppose to be gone forever."

"And now he's back," Faith adds stepping close to Buffy. Her fingers caressing her silken hair.

"And I don't know why," she sighs resting her head against Faith's abdomen. "What am I suppose to do?" She questions softly. For the first time in hours, since Angel's return to her life, she feels a calm, a sense of peace, wash over her.

Giles pushes open one of the libraries two swinging doors and steps inside his sanctuary. After a single step he stops dead in his tracks at the sight before him.

It wasn't an uncommon sight that greeted him. In fact it was quite common to see. Though it was normally Xander, and only occasionally Faith or Buffy, with their head laid out on the large table catching up on their sleep, usually later in the afternoon. What he wasn't use to was seeing it at six thirty and the morning.

Almost as unusual, as the sight of Buffy and Faith lying half on the table, were the books scattered around them. Big books, little books, thin pamphlets to giant tombs. He begins to take a few steps closer to the table in order to see what the two slayers were researching.

"Shh," Willow breathes from the checkout counter as she sees Giles inching closer to sleeping girls. The soft sound causes him to give a slight start. He turns quickly to face the young redhead a light glare in his eyes. "They've been here all night," she explains. "Researching."

There had been a twinge of surprise when she came in this morning and found Buffy here with Faith. The last thing she had expected to see the two of them doing when left alone, not that she thought about what the two slayers did when they were alone, but if she did, them having their heads buried in books wasn't anywhere on the list.

When she found out why. Her throat had gone dry. She felt her heart accelerate, her breathing quicken as her fear spikes slightly, and she hadn't even been a main target of Angel's. Just someone he could play with to keep Buffy off balance.

She didn't even want to think about what Giles reaction is going to be like, what he's going to go through when Buffy tells him. Angel had killed Ms. Calendar, the woman Giles had been in love with. Giles had gone after the vampire, and nearly died himself. Later Angel had captured the watcher and tortured him for the better part of a day. It didn't surprise her that he didn't talk about the experience.

Buffy telling her what had taken place earlier this morning in halting sentences, with Faith supporting her. As Buffy talked, Willow was able to see little flickers of dread burst in the brunette's eyes. She could understand Faith's concern, and she didn't know if Buffy knew, whether she had seen the worry in her girlfriend's expressions, or not. It was something she would have to find out later.

It had taken some doing but she had finally gotten Buffy's assurance that she would tell everyone Angel is back. Buffy had wanted to wait until she figured out why Angel returned before informing the rest of the gang. Willow had convinced her the quickest way to figure it out why is by going to the person with all the answers.


The man who is standing right in front of her.

There's a curious light burning in his eyes as he glances back at the sleeping slayers. At the table. At the books sitting on top of the table. Turning back towards Willow he inquires, "you wouldn't happen to know what it is they are in the midst of?"

Willow nods. "Its probably better if Buffy tells you what's going on," she tells Giles. Her voice several octaves higher then normal.

Giles takes a few steps closer to Willow. "It sounds serious," he states. The concern heavy in his voice.

"It is, but its really not my place to say anything to you about this because it really should come from Buffy and not me because its Buffy that should tell you what's going on with you being her watcher and you should really her it from her not me."

Giles blinks at the rapid fire delivery. "If you feel that strongly..."

"I do," Willow chirps. "Feel that strongly I mean."

"Then I want press you on it," Giles says taking a small step back.

Willow nods sternly. "Good, because I wasn't going to tell you."

Buffy keeps her eyes locked on Giles as her watcher sinks into the high back chair at the far end of the table. His face is ashen, drained of color. He looks as if the world has just been pulled out from under him. Or as if a bullet just ripped through his chest, his heart, and he can't believe he is dying. That these are his last seconds of life.

And she's the one who caused him this pain. The one that ripped his comfortable foundation out from under him. She is the one that told him Angel, the man who killed his lover, is alive. Back from his eternal banishment.

The entire time Faith kept a firm grasp on Buffy's hand, their fingers interlocked. Occasionally her grip would tighten causing Buffy a slight moment of discomfort. She didn't care. The pain simply kept her grounded.

Buffy didn't know what she would have done if she didn't have Faith's strength to support her. If she had to go through this alone, with nobody to turn to, forced to keep everything to herself. Driving an even bigger wedge between herself and her friends.

She was going to have to come up with something extremely special to show her girlfriend, her lover, just how much she means to her.

But first she needs to make sure Giles is going to be all right. She doesn't think she would deal with it all too well if Giles was unable to handle this. Or worse yet went off and killed Angel, or tried to and wound up getting himself hurt or killed in the process.

Standing she extricates her hand. Faith hangs on for a moment giving Buffy's hand a final, tight squeeze. Soundlessly she makes her way to Giles' side and takes a knee as she wraps her hands around his.

She could feel her friends eyes; Willow, Xander, Cordelia, and Oz on her back. Judging her. Weighing her actions.

Right now none of them mattered to her. Her only concern is Giles.

"Are you all right?" She pleads quietly.

Giles blinks coming back to himself. He works his jaw for a moment trying to find the words to express what he is feeling. Only how do you hold a seventeen year old child responsible for the actions of her heart. "I suppose I shall be," he says finally.

Buffy nods. "I know its way to soon to ask, but I need to know how he got out, why he's back? Why now? Even if its just a place to start looking. I'll do everything myself I just need you to point me in the right direction," she pleads.

His eyes harden as she speaks. A vicious light burning in his dark eyes. Pushing his chair back he stands, easily pulling his hand out of her grip. "I don't think I'd be much... Its probably..." He gives his head a hard shake. "I think its best if I was alone for a bit," he finishes then turns away from them. He takes several steps towards his office and comes to a stop. Without turning around he adds, "thank you for not keeping this from me," his voice thick with emotion. After making his statement he continues on his way to his office pushing the door close behind him.

"That was cold Buffy," Xander snaps as soon as the door shuts behind Giles. "Asking him to do that after everything that bastard did to him." Buffy surges back to her feet, whirling on Xander in one smooth motion. A dark light flashing in her eyes. Its a look Xander obviously misses as he continues. "Best thing you could have done was drive a stake through his heart and forget you ever saw him."

"You selfish little prick," Buffy growls rapidly closing the distance with him.

A resounding thwack stops her in her tracks as Xander spins around. A very angry Cordelia glares at her boyfriend. "If I treated my friends half as shitty as you treat yours, then maybe I'd deserve being called most of the names you use to call me. Not that I don't agree with you or anything, but I'm kind of curios to find out what Angel ever did to you, aside from sleeping with someone you were never going to get, to make you hate him this much?"

Xander stands there gawking at her as if she had just grown three extra heads. "No answer?" She asks just before picking up her purse. "If that's the case then maybe I ought to rethink this relationship," she informs him. Strutting to the library doors she comes to a stop a few feet in front of them. She turns back around to face Xander. "FYI. Girlfriends don't find it all that attractive when their boyfriends or so obsessed about another woman they become an uncontrollable, insanely jealous freak." Saying her piece she spins back around and sweeps out the doors.

Xander glances at Buffy, a glare still in his eyes and an angry red welt, in the shape of Cordelia's hand, burning his cheek. Without another word he rushes out the doors after what he hopes is still his girlfriend.

As the doors swing close, swishing to and fro, Oz lets out a low whistle. "Wow," the young man murmurs. "Cordelia to the rescue. Who would've imagined it?"

Buffy looks around sensing something out of place. That someone is missing. "Where's Faith?" She asks unable to believe that the brunette would leave her side. Or that she hadn't realized it until now.

"She said there was someplace she needed to be," Willow answers.

Buffy looks at her best friend asking, "where?"

Willow shakes her head. "She didn't say," she answers.

"I gotta go," Buffy says turning towards the exit.

Before she can take a step though Willow reaches out latching on to Buffy's wrist bringing the tiny blonde to a stop. Buffy turns her head giving the redhead a questioning look.

"We need to talk," Willow informs her.

"So?" Buffy asks nearly a minute after Oz excused himself. "You wanted to talk?"

Willow glances down then back up at Buffy as she chews on the inside of her cheek. "I'm probably not going to say this right, but I have to say it and I don't want you thinking I'm saying it being a witch or anything..."

Buffy grabs hold of her friend's shoulders bringing her to a stop as slight smile plays along her lips. "Deep breathes Wills. Calm. Relax. Start at the beginning and I promise not to think you're a witch. Unless you happen to turn me into a rat or something."

Willow returns Buffy's warm smile with a nervous grin. "No, no turning into a rat or anything else small and furry, or squishy and slimy either." She takes a deep breath, exhales sharply, then says, "I think Faith thinks you're going to leave her for Angel," in a rush.

"What?" Buffy blurts out. Not just her eyes, but her entire face widening in surprise. "That's insane. Why would you think that? Did she say something?"

Willow shakes her head. "Its what I saw in her eyes," Willow begins. "Like she thought she was going to lose the most important thing to her in the entire world."

Faith pivots on her heel taking a step away from the door to the shrink's office. She comes to a stop and whirls back around taking a step in that direction. She wasn't sure if this is the right way for her to go. Buffy told her the guy made a lot of sense during her session with him and didn't make her feel like he was getting all judgmental with her.

She wasn't comfortable talking with anyone though. Well there's Buffy. And Willow. Kind of.

But there are things about herself that she doesn't want Buffy or Willow or any of her new and potential friends to learn. Thing's she has done in order to survive, to get food in her stomach or a roof over her head for a night, that she wishes could simply be erased. Wiped out, expunged as if they had never happened.

"Screw it," she grumbles stopping in front of the door. She needs somebody to talk to. To unload all of this crap, she's carrying around, on. Someone who doesn't know her from Adam. Somebody who, after she steps out of his office, isn't going to give a flying fuck about her.

She steps forward, turning the door knob, she pushes it open. Faith stops dead in her tracks just inside the doorway. Somebody was standing in front of Platt's desk, his body shaking, almost blurring as it whips back and forth.

As the boy stops Faith's voice cuts through the stunned silence as she demands, "what the hell was that?"

Pete, at least that's what she thought his name is. Someone pointed him out to her once. She had only been paying half attention at the time, but slayer memory being what it is, she could have been asleep and remembered that much. Minds like a beer trap. Nothing escapes them.

Pete turns toward her. His face a hideous mask of molted skin and huge, grotesque warts. There weren't a lot of things in the world that could make her stomach roil and churn, like white water rapids, but the sight of his face was one.

"You're going to regret walking though that door bitch," Pete snarls.

"Get out of here," Platt shouts. His warning drowning out Pete's threat.

"I already do," Faith mumbles to herself as Pete closes with her in a fast moving second.

Grabbing her by the shoulders, his fingers digging painfully into her flesh, he slams her into the maple door frame. His right back fist sends her careening into several filing cabinets against the far wall. Without hesitation he leaps at her.

Faith's round house kick smashes into his gut. Pete grunts in pain, but manages to catch her foot, pinning it to his side with his left hand. Again the knuckles of his right fist smashes into her cheek spinning her around.

She manages to jump in the air as she twist. The heel of her right foot sweeps up slamming into the side of his face, rocking him back over Platt's desk. At the same time she does a smooth, nearly flawless one handed walk over to land on her feet.

Pete springs back up, staring at her with shock. Horror, maybe terror flashing in his eyes for a brief second. Only to be quickly replaced by rage. Faith didn't see any of that as her own anger and rage explode outwards.

With a savage roar Pete charges, only to be met head on by Faith. She ducks to the right, her left fist crashing into his chest, as she slips under his punch. Her fist shoots upwards, slamming into his jaw as she slides her body in behind his. A savage thrust from her hips, combined with the upward force of her punch, flips him up and over, high into the air.

He hits the floor face first with a resounding crash. Spinning he manages to sweep Faith's feet out from under her. She does a simply, backwards hand spring landing on the top of the desk.

As she lands, Pete's foot lashes out, kicking the desk, sending it skittering into the far wall across the room. The sudden movement causes Faith to stumble forward falling to the floor. She hits the ground hard a moment before Pete rolls on top of her.

Before he can strike, her elbow slams into his ribs. The slight respite gives her the time to roll to her back. Faith sees his right fist speeding towards her. She shifts her head slightly, just enough for his fist to whiz past her. It hits the floor with enough force to crack the linoleum tile.

Faith's right hand latches onto his forearm and tugs pulling him forward, at the same time her right knee drives into his left buttocks. The two actions more then enough to flip him off of her. As his back slams into the floor Faith rolls over landing on top of him.

Grabbing her around the waist, Pete hurls her backwards. She sails through the air like a run away rocket. Hitting the door it cracks in half under the force of the impact, partially spilling Faith into the corridor.

Pete looks around the room wildly. Trying to find any way out of the confining space. His face lights up as he spots the window.

Faith lets out a low growl as she see Pete rush towards the window. "I don't think so," she hisses. Pushing herself back into the room Faith launches herself at him.

A step before the window she slams into his back. The two of them barrel headlong into the window and crash through it, showing the shrubs with chunks of glass as they plummet to the ground below.

Platt stares at the window in amazement. His eyes wide as saucers while his mind replays the last fifteen seconds. Most of it had happened so fast he didn't even see it. Both of them had been moving so quickly that at times they appeared to be flying around the room.

Coming back to himself, as his smoldering cigarette burns down to the filter, the heat burning his lips. He gives his head a sharp jerk, the cigarette dropping from mouth. Moving to his desk he picks up his phone. He wasn't quite sure what was going on, but he knew a death threat when he heard one. Especially when it was directed at him.

The two slayers lay in a neat little sprawl on the sofa in front of the television. Its volume turned low as the scenes shift from one commercial to another. Faith lies with her slightly larger body on Buffy. Her head resting comfortably on the blonde's chest. Her nimble fingers skillfully stroke Faith's dark tresses. She mumbles something too unintelligible for Buffy to understand as her eyes slip close and she dozes lightly.

Buffy smiles to herself as Faith slips off to sleep. The one sure fired way to get the brunette to drop off, even when she's determined to stay awake. Her Achilles heel. Something Buffy had only found out about recently. She didn't even know if Faith knew about it.

Play with her thick, luxuriant, dark hair. Brushing it, running her fingers through it, braiding it. The activity didn't matter. Within minutes Faith would be sleeping soundly, peacefully.

That's what Faith needs right now. A good nights sleep

Today had been as emotionally draining for Faith as it had for her. Plus Faith had the extra benefit of going half a dozen rounds with Pete the super freak. There are still a couple of bruises visible, one a dark shiner covering Faith's left eye. By tomorrow morning there wouldn't be any sign that she had been in a fight.

Thanks to slayer healing.

And thanks to Mr. Platt, Faith's name had been left out of any official report. It was a surprise to find out Faith had been going to see Platt. There had been a small twinge of something. Anger maybe. At knowing there are things Faith would rather talk to a complete stranger about, then her.

Just because she understood why didn't mean she had to like it. But she did have to accept it. When Faith was ready she would tell her.

That was one good thing that came out of today. Mr. Platt knew about everything now; vampires, slayers, watchers, demons, magic. The whole nine yards. She didn't have to hide anything from him now. When he wanted to know what demons were troubling her, she could tell him and not have to speak in coded messages.

From what Giles said the watchers were going to have Pete transferred to a special institute they control to make sure he gets the attention he deserves. Whatever that meant.

She was still having problems believing what Pete had done to himself. Or that people could so easily confuse jealousy as a sign of love. All jealousy really is, is being overly possessive, obsessive, and distrustful of the person you love. Then amplify it to the, whatever, degree and you get the psycho boyfriend, or girlfriend, from hell.

Every relationship has to be founded in trust. Whether it was between friends, lovers, children and parent, student and teacher, slayer and watcher. Trust has to be there, and most of the time it has to be earned. Just like it can be earned, it can also be lost.

She can only hope that she can keep Faith's while helping Angel recover. If it came down to choice between them. Angel would lose.

Hands down. No ands, if, or buts about it.

Everything comes back to trust and love. And she would never be able to trust Angel enough to love him like that again. There would always be that nagging feeling in the back of her mind no matter how much she buries it.

Did I do something to make him too happy? Is this the day he loses his soul? Is this going to be the day he tries to kill me?

She doesn't want, and she wasn't going, to live her life like that. Holding herself back. Even if it was just a the barest fraction. She wasn't going to do it. Loving with half a heart, limiting what she could do, what she could feel. Constantly having that cold tingle of fear running up her back.

She had made her decision before there was even a decision to be made. She wants to love, to live, to enjoy life with her whole being. With every fiber of who she is, and have the person she loves so much be able to return those feelings just as completely.

The only thing she wants to do with Angel is help him recover. And the only reason she wants to do that is so she can lessen the guilt she feels for sending him to hell. It was selfish and petty and that was just the way it is.

If he couldn't understand that it was over between them, then so be it. She wasn't going to lose Faith over him. She'd live with the guilt just fine if need be.

Faith said she understood. The two of them had gone together to get Angel his blood. Brought it to him. Faith had stayed back, stake out and at the ready, while she fed Angel.

He seemed a little better. Calmer. More in control.

They didn't stick around for very long. Buffy could tell Faith was getting anxious being around a vampire and not using her stake. They had left Angel chained up. Maybe in a few days he would be well enough to release. Maybe?

Looking down again, at the brunette using her chest for her pillow, Buffy can't help the smile that slips across her lips. Leaning down she places a gentle kiss on top of her head. "I love you," she whispers into Faith's hair.

"Love you too," Faith mumbles back dreamily. A playful smirk spreading across her face.

Buffy's grin widens at the words. Even sleeping peacefully she still knew exactly what to say. Shifting her eyes she glances at the VCR clock. Its little blue digital lights let her know its almost quarter to eleven. "Time to go to bed sleeping beauty," she murmurs.

Gently, slowly, with extra loving care she shifts Faith's limp body in her arms so she could carry her upstairs to bed. Instinctively Faith throws her arm over Buffy's shoulder and snuggles in deeper. Clinging tightly to the blonde.

Buffy stands from the sofa easily, thoroughly enjoying the fact that she can carry her sleeping girlfriend up to bed and tuck her in. "Gotta love slayer strength," she says absently.

Outside. Shrouded in the darkness. A pair of baleful eyes gaze in on the young lovers. A low growl rising from deep in his chest. "Buffy! Mine!" Angel hisses as he watches Buffy cradling Faith in her arms and rise smoothly from the couch. "Buffy mine!" He repeats savagely. "Buffy mine! Buffy mine!" He begins chanting lowly as he starts prowling around the house.


Hold the Line - Toto

It's not in the way that you hold me

It's not in the way you say you care
It's not in the way you've been treating my friends
It's not in the way that you stayed till the end
It's not in the way you look or the things that you say that you'll do

Hold the line, love isn't always on time, oh oh oh
Hold the line, love isn't always on time, oh oh oh

It's not in the words that you told me, girl
It's not in the way you say you're mine, ooh
It's not in the way that you came back to me
It's not in the way that your love set me free
It's not in the way you look or the things that you say that you'll do

Hold the line, love isn't always on time, oh oh oh
Hold the line, love isn't always on time, oh oh oh

It's not in the words that you told me
It's not in the way you say you're mine, ooh
It's not in the way that you came back to me
It's not in the way that your love set me free
It's not in the way you look or the things that you say that you'll do

Hold the line, love isn't always on time, oh oh oh
Hold the line, love isn't always on time, oh oh oh
love isn't always on time

Hold the line, love isn't always on time -
love isn't always, love isn't always on time
Hold the line, love isn't always on time, love isn't always on time
Love isn't always on time, love isn't always on time, oh oh oh