SUMMARY: Now that the dust of Sunnydale has settled, two survivors need to figure out who they are and where they should go from here. Xander/Faith friendship fic. Post-"Chosen" AU. Beginning of a series.

RATING: Rated PG-13 for language and violence.

DISCLAIMER: We own nothing. Literally. Suing us will not help you, but we will cheerfully hand you our bills. ME owns everything. All characters are owned by other people, and those that are original are not based on anyone real, living or dead.

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Authors' Notes: This "virtual" season eight is AU in that the basic premise is based on another fanfic called "Revelations." In that story, the AU element is "what if Willow's magic blast at the end of Grave had long-lasting consequences for Xander."

As the Buffyverse stands as of July 2003 that should be the only AU element you need worry about. Everything else should track with on-screen cannon, although the conclusions explored are strictly speculation. Although it's technically not necessary, if you want to get fully up to speed on the background for the Where Fools Go series, please read "Revelations" here on FF.net.

Where Fools Go

Episode One: After Happy Ever After

By Lizbeth Marcs and Sydney Taggert

There were no formerly heroic times, and there was no formerly pure generation. There is no one here but us chickens, and so it has always been: A people busy and powerful, knowledgeable, important, fearful, and self-aware; a people who scheme, promote, deceive, and conquer; who pray for their loved ones, and long to flee misery and death…There never was a more holy age than ours, and never a less.

--Annie Dillard, For the Time Being

Faith nervously tapped her fingers on the motel room's phone and debated calling Angel.

She snorted with disgust. Little-Miss-I-Don't-Need-Nobody had somehow turned into Little-Miss-Needy. First, there was her odd fuck-buddy relationship with Robin and now there was the overwhelming urge to talk to Angel. If she kept this up, she was going to need an entourage the size of Buffy's just to go to the bathroom.

She jumped off the bed and began pacing the room as her mind continued to circle on itself. So much had changed so fast since leaving Sunnydale that she was pretty sure she had managed to cram a whole year's worth of living in two short weeks. For the first time in a long time she could actually see a future for herself, several futures actually.

Unfortunately, most of them involved her fleeing the country because she was still an escaped convict with a murder charge hanging over her head. Wonder if they'll send the CIA or the FBI or whatever they call the international cops to hunt me down if I make a run for South America. Fuck. Maybe they're too busy looking for What's-His-Face in Iraq to give a shit about one run-away murderer, Faith thought.

Then there was the fact that she was no longer the Chosen One, well, one of the Chosen Two anymore. Now she was one of hundreds—possible thousands—just another face in an exclusive sorority. Lookit that, one more big honkin' sign that I can do what I want, where I want, when I want and no one is gonna be givin' me the big speech about my duty, destiny, or some other bullshit about the greater good, Faith thought.

The thing that really scared her was that in the face of all this freedom jumping up and down and screaming "Take me, I'm yours" she found something appealing about walking into the closest police station and turning herself in. Something in her wanted and needed the structure, the bars, hell, the chains to define her world and set her limits.

"Christ, I'm turning into such an old lady," Faith grumbled.

She stopped by the phone, hand hovering over the receiver as she silently considered her options. She needed advice and there was no one she could approach. Robin would tell her what she should do rather than ask what she wanted; her connection with Giles was strained at best; and drill sergeant Buffy was in her tight-assed control freak glory as she made plans for everyone and barked orders. She highly doubted that Buffy was capable of seeing past her own nose to offer anyone anything resembling constructive advice.

Faith snarled to herself, grabbed her pack of cigarettes, stalked over to the window, and flung it open with an angry yank. She leaned out and lit the nicotine stick, drawing in the smoke while her mind ticked over to the two other Scoobs who might even come close to understanding where she was coming from.

Willow fell into the "yeah, right" category. Faith couldn't really imagine sitting down with the witch to discuss their shared history of murder, mayhem, and the rocky road to redemption over a pitcher of beer, that's even assuming she could drag her away from Kennedy long enough to involve a conversation that didn't involve tongues in intimate places.

Xander had her beat with thirteen bodies behind him, but he was suffering from a rain of body blows that left him a shell of himself. Since Sunnydale disappeared, the body may have been present, but the mind had taken a vacation. He had also locked himself in his room with a finality that should have worried his friends.

So that left one option for a formerly murderous bad-ass chick in serious need of advice. "Who ya gonna call?" Faith sang under her breath as she tossed the Camel away with an expert flick, not bothering to check if someone was underneath her window. She slammed the window shut with a quick nod and returned to the phone, her movements more certain, and dialed the Hyperion.

Faith didn't worry when she was able to count off ten rings. Hell, she didn't even worry when she lost count of the rings. When the automated operator cut in and informed her that her party could not be reached and disconnected her with a click, that's when she began to worry.