A/N: Post S7. Not too satisfied with how things have ended up, Buffy decides to take things into her own hands. This won't be updated very regularly, at least not until I finish a few other fanfics. But it will get updated, and will be rather long.

She stared into the mirror hanging above the small sink of the bathroom. Grimy marks covered the glass, faint traces of oil and dirt that were barely noticeable. But looking very carefully, she could see it all. She could see all the signs of the other people that had used this bathroom and checked into this room, in this motel, in this town in the middle of nowhere.

"Hey, B, what do you want on the pizza?"

The yell from outside the cramped bathroom startled her out of her reverie. Buffy Anne Summers flushed self-consciously and allowed herself a tiny smile. She had promised to get on with her life. And here she was, blanking out in a locked bathroom. Was this her way of appreciating the world that had been saved?

Someone was now tapping on her door.

"B, you still alive in there?"

Buffy took a deep breath and swung the door open. Rather too quickly, as a taller brunette practically crushed her tiny frame. After a few moments of flailing limbs, both girls righted themselves with Slayer grace.

"Anything but anchovies," Buffy replied smoothly, tucking a piece of stray hair behind her ear.

"Okay," Faith answered with a nod and plastic smile. Then her smile faded. "You okay, B?" she asked, invoking a seriousness usually masked by her normally devil-may-care attitude.

Buffy nodded. "Of course," she said, trying not to sound defensive. "Why wouldn't I be? I mean, after all, the world didn't end."

Faith shrugged, offering the blonde girl a small but genuine smile. "I just thought, maybe you wanted to talk—"

"Don't," Buffy said brusquely, brushing past the other girl. "I'm absolutely starved!" she added quickly and way too cheerfully. "Let's go order that pizza."

***

Faith shook her head, watching the blonde Slayer walking quickly out of the small room, presumably to her ex-Watcher's, where the rest of the gang awaited. The Potentials—no, they were Slayers now, weren't they?—included.

The Scooby gang. Faith still felt like an outsider at times, but really, everybody here felt like an outsider in their own way. Sad how the Scoobies had become a gang of outcasts. She still remembered when she had been the only one who hadn't belonged. The "new kid." The outsider.

That had been almost five years ago.

Things had been so different then. Simpler. The lines between right and wrong had been so clearly defined.

She had been the black sheep of the Slayer line. She had been bad, and she had liked it.

But at least she had known where the line had been. She'd known that Buffy, her Watcher, family, and friends were the good guys. She thought that even now.

But sometimes she couldn't be too sure. She knew things about the kindly Watcher that made her blood run cold. His actions alone should have condemned him to nothing more than a "bad guy," like she'd been. And maybe still was.

And five years ago, he would have been. If they knew what kind of person he was, what he had done and was willing to do, the Scoobies would have teamed up to destroy Giles, like they'd teamed up to destroy Richard Wilkins III.

Nostalgia and grief rose in her throat, along with a certain faint bitterness. Like bile. She swallowed it back down, determined to keep the past just that—in the past. It was no use grieving for a dead man—an evil man who had sold his very soul, who hadn't even been a man at the end. A man who loved to play golf and was almost obsessive over cleanliness and personal hygiene. A man who she honestly believed had loved her in his own twisted, fatherly way.

It wasn't just the Watcher who had turned to a darker shade of gray. Sweet, innocent Willow, who had been the wallflower in high school…

She hadn't been around for it, but she'd heard how Willow, the shy one, had almost destroyed the world. And had killed people in cold blood. Kinda like Faith herself.

What she was around for the redheaded witch's returning of Angel's soul. That had been something. That chick was one powerful Wicca. And as if that hadn't been enough, why, just a few months ago, Willow had pulled off that spell, the one that activated all the Potentials.

Now that was really something. Faith sure didn't want to get on the wrong side of her.

Even Xander had changed. Still joking, still the stand-up comic of the group. But he wasn't the virgin she had laid so long ago, the boy who had yet to grow up despite all that he had witnessed. Xander was different, a man now.

And the differences weren't just physical, like his lost eyesight. The boy had grown to understand the world he'd had the misfortune to be born in. He'd grown to understand and accept, which few people Faith knew had the balls to do. And accepting his insignificant role, Xander chose to fight. He wasn't chosen; he didn't have any supernatural powers to aid him in his struggle, yet he chose to take up the fight anyway. He'd learned how to fight. How to do what was necessary to win. And he'd learned to make sacrifices like all of them.

He'd smiled when Andrew had told him. Joked, even.

The innocent boy had grown into a ruthless yet never unfeeling man.

Faith sighed. Even the false brightness she'd put on for Buffy had left her.

Then there was Dawn. According to them, Faith had never met her before. Had never even held her hostage with Joyce that time four years ago, when she'd first awoken from her coma.

Had never talked with the girl, never spent Christmas Eve with her and her mother when Buffy was out. Dawn had never looked up to her, albeit briefly, and tried to imitate Faith down to her style of dress.

Needless to say, Joyce hadn't been impressed. But then again, that had never happened, had it?

Well, no matter what her made-up memories said, Dawn had changed. She wasn't a kid anymore, that was for certain. She was a young woman now. She was gifted at research, practically an expert with ancient texts. Adept at combat. And apparently a computer whiz, too.

And such a cold expression she'd never imagined on the face of one so young when she'd stepped into the Summers' residence for their first real meeting. According to others she'd spoken to, the kid had done worse and said worse than she had glimpsed. And her interest in demons and carnage was definitely unsettling, even for Faith.

All in all, a grown woman in the body of a teenager. Even more terrifying than her sister, not that Faith would ever have admitted it.

Next was Robin. Robin Wood, who had surprised her more than once. Maybe they'd even develop a relationship in the future. Nothing was hurried now, though. Nothing was rushed as they slowly made their way across the world finding the other Slayers.

Other Slayers. That was still a somewhat foreign concept, even now. That those girls in Giles' room bickering over pizza selection were all Chosen…

Faith shook her head in wry amusement. Young girls, so unsure of themselves. They barely knew what Slayers did, what they were meant to do. Ah, well. They had time to learn now, all the time in the world.

Hmm.

And how exactly had that happened? How had the apocalypse been stopped, how had the Hellmouth closed?

B hadn't been too clear on that.

Oh well. They could talk about that later, when B was ready. The blonde Slayer had been so…withdrawn…lately. Oh sure, she acted like nothing was wrong, like everything was just peachy keen. But Faith could tell. Faith could always tell.

Buffy had changed in so many ways. Four years ago, during the little body-swap episode, she had been such a good girl. So self-righteous. It was that attitude that had made Faith hate her with a passion.

Yet half a year ago, when Faith had seen her again, Buffy had been like a different person in the same shell. What…and who…she did…

Faith shook her head, a ghost of a grin on her face. Why, she'd never have thought of it in her darkest imaginings. B had managed to shock even her. But in the end, Buffy had been righteous, right? Righteous and triumphant.

So what was so off? Why were her laughs hollow, why did her smiles never reach her eyes?

Faith shook her head. By now, the pizza was probably already here. She'd better go grab a couple of slices before those girls scarfed everything down.

Man, those Slayers could eat.

TBC