Copyright- Any BTVS characters mentioned belong to Joss Whedon, Marti Noxen, Fox, Mutant Enemy, and affiliates.

Rating- PG-13 (References of Abuse)

Summary- No one can just *be* that way, it takes something to push them over the edge.

"Momma, Pop gave me a couple again." The petite Jersey-accented brunette whispered to her mother, as she turned around and lifted up her shirt, to reveal a canvas of blue, purple, and yellow welts. Momma, a young woman of only 21 with the accent and coloring to match her tiny daughter,sat down her mending job and quickly pulled down the back of the the little girl's shirt, swooping her into the lap of the gray apron she wore over her blue faded plaid skirt. With one hand placed securly around the 5 year old's waist, she used the other one to swat away the fresh tears that sat under the eyes of a scared mother. Salty reminders of how she was failing her daughter by not stopping his hands as they bruised her,or his words, as they scarred even deeper.

"Is Poppa sleeping now?" Momma asked in a hushed voice. When the doe- eyed little girl nodded sheepishly in reply, Momma smiled."Then Momma will just have to go get you a new, flowery dress, won't she?" She brushed a stray curl from her baby girl's face and placed her gently on the floor, before going over to the counter and retrieving her pocketbook. She knelt down infront of her daughter and spoke again, softer this time. "Now go tidy your room like a good girl, and when your done stay in there until Momma gets back." Placing an airy kiss on the child's forehead, she moved towards the door, but didn't get through it before her daughter called to her.

"Momma?" She asked in a strained whisper, hopping to her feet but staying on the spot her mother had left her.

"Yeah, sugar?" Momma turned and stood in the doorway.

"Are you and Poppa ok?" the young brunette twirled a soft ringlet absently around her pointer finger.

"Yeah, Faithie. Five by five."

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A while later, Faith yawned and, from under her safe little haven below the bed, looked up at her clock. Momma was very late, very late. Which was never normal. Because when Momma wasn't home, Poppa got angry, and when Poppa got angry, Faith got 'a couple' (what Momma called the colorful patterns Poppa left across her tiny body). But, as usual after Pop did, Momma went out and bought her a new dress. She stifled another yawn as she heard Poppa's heavy feet clumsily move down the hallway. Cringing as he shouted for Momma, she shrank back as far into the shadows of her bed as possible, and listening through covered ears until the screaming stopped. With her arms securly over her head, Faith fell asleep to the echoes of Poppa's voice through the apartment, and the heavy raindrops starting to fall.

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In her dream, Faith sat in Momma's lap in the middle of an open, grassy field. The sun was shining and nature was abuzz all around. She had never been to this place, but it didn't bother her. As long as Momma was here everything is fine. She giggled at the way the wind tickled her nose and relaxed into her mother's embrace. No words were spoken, but the little girl knew where she was. This was the place Momma talked about in her stories, the place she grew up. She had promised her that someday, they would escape to this place, and Poppa wouldn't be able to hurt them anymore.

"Momma, we can't stay here yet, can we?" Faith closed her eyes as she spoke softly to Momma.

"No, baby. Momma has to stay here, but you need to go back home, you are still young to this world, you have time yet to make a difference." Faith felt her mother softly stroking her hair as she grew silent.

"When will you be home to tuck me in? It's late and Poppa is getting angry." Suddenly Momma grew still, her hands leaving Faith's waist and falling to her sides. "Momma? Momma?" Faith asked worridly, as the world around her began to grow dim. She no longer felt the grass, or her mother near her. Her bare feet felt cold stone, or concrete, and she could hear rain drops in the distance again. Looking up, she saw a flash of golden eyes, sharp as daggers and full of hunger. Fear gathered in the pit of her belly and she couldn't help but scream.

Eyes flying open, Faith looked around her. She was still in her room, underneath her bed. The rain pattering on her window was louder than before. She wiped the tears that had fallen in her sleep. Listening to the other sounds in the apartment, she heard Poppa and someone else talking ; the someone else she recognized to be Aunt Carina, the only relative Momma had left. She heard Aunt Carina talking calmly to Poppa, and then Poppa roaring in anger, a glass bottle breaking with a wet, crashing sound. As Poppa screamed Momma's name over and over, Faith squeezed her eyes tightly shut and tried to block it out. Momma was fine, she had to be. It was her fault Momma was out buying dresses, now if only she would find her way home.Faith would give all the flowery dresses back to have Momma here right now. She would let Poppa give her 'a couple' too.

Anything to have Momma back again...

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As Faith prayed under her bed for her Momma to come back to her, a lone figure lay in a darkened alleyway. A pale face veiled by ebony hair, blood trailed from her neck wounds down to her grey apron. An empty brown wallet lay at her feet and a lifeless hand grasp a single possession, a rain soaked shopping bag labeled ' The Little Dress Boutique '.

*****************************ONE WEEK LATER*****************************

Faith sat at the edge of her bed, shaking slightly, with tears streaming down her flushed face. Scattered across the top of it were all the flowery dresses from Momma. Next to them was a rain soaked shopping bag and a pair of kitchen scissors. Moist eyed and filled with a rage that a tiny 7 year old should never experience, picked up the scissors and tore into each dress. If she had never told Momma, she never would have went to the dress shop, and then...

Carina shook her head sadly. She was leaving today, and had no choice but to leave Faithie with him. Hearing only silence from Faith's bedroom, Carina moved to the door and stood quietly outside of it. "Faith, you okay sweetie?" she asked worried, rapping lightly on the door but not opening it.

"Five by five." **************************************************************************** *****