DISCLAIMER: So not ours.
SETTINGS: Two months after 'Helpless'. Faith never came to Sunnydale, and Faith is two months younger than Buffy. Faith is still in Boston with her Watcher. Wesley is in Sunnydale working as Buffy's Watcher. Giles is still there (cos he's beautiful and we couldn't kick him out of Sunnydale…) Angel is a non-issue. They're not together and have accepted that they can never be with each other ever again.
WRITTEN BY: Sarah (Miss Goth Mai) and Kattie (DragonGal)
CHAPTER ONE: CRUCIAMENTUM
She ran frantically through a boarded up house, the lights blown and half of the rooms locked. There was someone -something- chasing her. This usually wouldn't have been a problem, but today, her eighteenth birthday, it was a different story. She knew that Slayers rarely lived past their coming of age, and she was beginning to realise why.
She barricaded herself into an unlocked room, pressing her entire weight against the door, praying desperately to the Powers That Be to get her out of this alive. She let out a yelp as her attacker rammed against the door, the hinges giving way. She acted on instinct rather than on the training that her Watcher had always forced upon her.
The door smashed inwards and she ran, reaching out her dulled senses in an effort to navigate her way around the house that she'd been told to check out, even though she wasn't at full strength. She reached another corridor, lined with rooms, all of them locked.
Her attacker, a vampire who she was fairly certain had been starved for a few days approached, cornering her in the tight corridor. She backed up against the wall, her breathing now coming in short gasps. The vampire grabbed her shoulders roughly and pulled the girl towards her, the stench of death overwhelming the exhausted girl. With a roar, the vampire sunk her fangs into the girl's neck, tearing into her skin, and ripping out her jugular.
For endless moments, the vampire feasted. When the girl's breathing slowed and her heart eventually stopped, she threw her victim violently to the ground and wiped the blood from her face, sucking the excess from her fingers.
The vampire didn't see the stake that dusted her from behind. A woman stepped forward and looked down at the dead girl. "Happy birthday Faith."
Buffy shot up in bed, her heart racing, her sheets damp with sweat. She brought a hand to touch her neck, almost able to feel the fangs that had descended into the brunette girl's neck. She forced herself to calm down and reached towards her nightstand, grabbing her journal and flicking on the lamp. She quickly jotted down the details of her latest dream, knowing instinctively that it had been prophetic.
Reading over the detail of the dream, she felt a sick sense of dread creep into her stomach. She knew what she was dreaming about. The Cruciamentum. She'd had nightmares about her eighteenth birthday before, but none of them had been like this. This dream hadn't been about her own birthday. The scenes that she'd played over and over in her head had changed. No longer was it Buffy being hunted by Kralik, it was the new Slayer being hunted by something far worse.
She looked at the alarm clock and sighed, knowing there was no point in trying to go back to sleep. Her alarm would be going off in twenty minutes anyway. She stretched tiredly and rolled out of bed, stumbling towards the closet and going about her morning routine.
She arrived at the library half an hour earlier than usual, wanting to speak to Giles about the dream she'd had before Wesley demanded that she report her dreams to him. If Buffy was right in her theory of what her dream was about, then Buffy had no desire to share it with Wesley.
"Good morning Buffy," Giles greeted, slightly startled to see his Slayer at the library at such an early hour.
"Hey," she replied, still tired and slightly worried by the dream.
"Are you alright?" he asked.
She shrugged and took a seat at the library table, curling her legs underneath her.
"Could be worse," she replied.
Even though he was no longer her official Watcher, he couldn't help but be concerned about her. In the last two and a half years, he'd learned to read her fairly well, and he had a vague idea of what was bothering her.
"You've been dreaming again?"
She looked at him, wondering whether or not she should be surprised that he knew what her problem was.
Buffy hesitated. She knew that this wasn't a topic that she wanted to discuss with her Watcher.
"The Cruciamentum," she replied quietly.
She watched as Giles visibly stepped back as though he'd been struck. He removed his glasses and looked away from her. A sharp pang of guilt hit the Watcher as he was reminded of his betrayal of his Slayer. Thoughts of the Cruciamentum tugged at old wounds as he remembered the brief but painful rift in their relationship.
"Not mine," she hastened to say.
He looked at her curiously. "Oh?"
"The other Slayer," Buffy explained. "I think her Cruciamentum's coming up."
Giles wandered into his office and opened up one of Wesley's files that the new Watcher had expressly forbidden Giles to look at. With a casualness that the Scoobies would have been proud of, the ex-Watcher read through the details of the Slayer who had been called following Kendra's death. He walked back to where Buffy still sat and handed the file to her.
She took it from him, scanning over the information, her eyes drawn to the picture of the girl that Buffy had dreamt about. She looked young, though Buffy knew from both the dream and the profile that she was only two months younger than herself. Faith Christina Keller. Born on the 25th of March 1980.
"That's her alright," Buffy said, showing Giles the photograph. "Her birthday's in three days."
"And your dream?" Giles asked. "What exactly happened?"
"Standard stuff," she replied glibly. "She was running from the vamp, she got cornered, got bit, got dead. Then this woman steps towards her and wishes her a happy birthday. Kinda creepy."
"I can imagine."
"I wanna help her Giles," Buffy stated. "That whole Cruciamentum thing wasn't fun, and if she's not gonna make it, then I wanna either help her or stop it from happening."
Giles knew that Buffy's heart was in the right place, and he could understand why Buffy would want to help this girl. Unfortunately, Council lore was deeply ingrained in Giles. Then again, he was no longer with the Council, so technically he wouldn't have to tell her that trying to interfere in a Slayer's Cruciamentum was frowned upon.
"The Council would not approve," Giles warned.
Buffy grinned cheekily. "Are you trying to give me incentive to go to Boston?"
Giles couldn't help the slight chuckle that escaped his lips. He was grateful that Buffy's loyalty to him hadn't wavered even after the Council had sent someone to replace him.
"Are you looking for my approval?" Giles asked softly.
Buffy nodded. "Not from a Council perspective, but…do you think I should go?"
"Well, I…the Council has always taught it's Watchers to encourage the Slayer's to follow up their prophetic dreams, so, I suppose me telling you not to go would be going against what I've been raised to," Giles said.
Buffy laughed and shook her head. "Who knew you'd be a closet rebel," Buffy commented. She thought about it for a moment and then scrunched up her nose. "I guess with that whole Ripper thing you probably were a bit rebellious, huh?"
"To say the least."
Buffy smiled and stood up, handing the folder back to Giles.
"Do you think I could get a copy of this?" Buffy asked.
Giles nodded and took the folder from her, mentally noting to photocopy it before Wesley joined them for the day.
"And, no offence to you Giles, but I don't wanna be here when Wes the Weasel turns up. I'll see you at lunch, 'kay?"
Giles nodded and watched Buffy as she left the library, probably to go and find a patch of sunlight and soak up the warmth before she was confined to the indoor life of school.
"You're going to Boston?" Willow whispered, her voice an octave higher than usual, squealing with excitement.
Buffy nodded, looking around to make sure no one else was paying too much attention to the conversation between herself and Willow.
"Yeah. I'll probably hafta leave sometime tomorrow if I want to get there. I still have to talk mom into it of course, but…yeah, I'm gonna go."
"What about school?" Willow asked. "Snyder won't be too happy with you leaving."
Buffy sighed and hoped that her mom wasn't going to be too upset with her for wanting to take about three or four days off school to go and help someone that Buffy had never met.
"As long as mom's okay with it, then Nazi-man can't say anything about it," Buffy replied.
Willow nodded and chewed her lower lip with worry.
"What about Wesley?"
Buffy just scoffed with contempt. "I doubt he'd even notice I was gone. I wonder what would happen if I just faked dead for four days. Could be funny," Buffy said.
Willow rolled her eyes. She had long ago learned that Buffy's comments about dying and being hurt were not meant to be flippant or hurtful, rather they were there for levity and a need for some sort of sanity.
"I think he may notice you gone for four days," Willow chastised. "He'll probably call the Council and classify you as being rogue."
"Ah, but he'd never find me though," Buffy replied. "They wouldn't even think to look in Boston. Then again, that Travers guy is probably gonna be in Boston to keep his creepy little eyeballs on Faith's Cruciamentum."
"Who's Faith?" asked a new voice.
Xander plopped himself between Willow and Buffy, forcing them to move down the bench or get squashed.
"The newest Slayer," Buffy replied. "It's her eighteenth birthday on Thursday."
"Eighteen huh?" Xander replied. "That's that cucumber test, huh?"
"Cruciamentum," Buffy corrected him with a laugh and a smile. It was amazing how Xander could massacre any word if he wanted to. "And yeah."
"Why do I sense a Slayer revolt on the horizon?" Xander asked.
Willow smiled at the unique phrasing that her best friend had put on the topic that she and Buffy had been discussing for the last twenty or so minutes.
"Probably because it's imminent," Buffy replied. She suddenly stopped and considered her choice of words.
Willow laughed at the confused and disgusted expression on Buffy's face. "You've been hanging out with Giles too much," Willow said.
Buffy grinned. "At least I'll get a few days off," Buffy said.
"Woah, wait. Why?" Xander asked.
"Wanna add a few more w's to that sentence there Xand?" Buffy asked. "And I'm gonna go and help her. The only problem is that she's in Boston."
"Boston…that's somewhere in the middle right?" Xander asked blankly.
Willow rolled her eyes and hit her best friend sharply on the shoulder. Xander winced and rubbed his now painful arm.
"It's in Massachusetts. Nowhere near the middle."
"Oh," Xander said blankly, still not entirely clear on where it was. He just nodded to make himself look less stupid. "So, when do we leave?"
"We?" Buffy repeated.
Xander flashed her a boyish grin. "We. You didn't think we were gonna let you go alone, did you?"
Buffy sighed. "Xand, you'll be missing a few days of school," she said.
Xander looked at her blankly, having no idea why Buffy would think that would be a problem for him.
"So…you're never gonna get permission to leave. Besides, I think Snyder might get slightly
suspicious if all three of us suddenly took off for four days."
"Oh no, count me out," Willow said. "I can't miss school."
Buffy nodded, already having figured that Willow wouldn't have wanted to join her on her adventure to Boston.
"Xand, I'm sorry, but…this is a gonna hafta be a bit of a Slayer thing," she said, genuinely sorry that her friends wouldn't be able to join her. She knew that the Hellmouth needed guarding, and there was no way that the town would survive if all the Scoobies decided to leave for a few days.
Xander sighed but nodded. "I guess you'll need someone to take over patrolling for you, huh?"
Buffy nodded and gave him the best pout-and-puppy-eyes that she could conjure. Xander gave her a sideways hug. "Consider it done," Xander told her.
Buffy bounced in her seat, excited at the prospect of being able to get away from the hellmouth, even if it was only for a few days.
"Thanks," she said brightly.
The trio stood up as the bell sounded, signalling the beginning of another monotonous day at school.
Please review!! Our first co-written fic. Will be updated soonish. Even if you're not into the whole slash thing, trust us, it ain't very explicit. Very cute, kinda fluffy and we're damn well proud of it. ;)