Title: One Great Thing

Livejournal: nikitangel

Pairing: Mostly gen with B/A tendencies

Rating: PG13

Words: 5,736

Spoilers: "Chosen" (obviously) and "Not Fade Away"

Written for: The Dana Ficathon

Dedicated to: theantijoss, for breaking honored ficathon tradition and being not only the requestor of this fic, but the best beta ever.

Requirements: Listed at the end of the fic

Notes: In honor of Dana's abilities, the section titles in italics are all taken from "Tales of the Slayer", a short-story collection detailing the lives of other Slayers in history.  I've done my best (and Babelfish's best) with the translations, but please forgive any grievous errors.

C'est le monde du mal... par jour, la vie est un défilé de beauté. Mais la nuit, la trêve avec la mort est soulevée, et il envoient ses domestiques pour rassembler ses dettes

This is the world of evil … by day, life is a parade of beauty.  But at night, the truce with Death is lifted, and he send his servants to collect his debts

The hallway smelled funny, all-too-familiar-hospital-funny, and she shivered at the thought. She waited until a young girl with a hand over her yawning mouth stumbled out of the room and down the hall. Keeping an eye on the stairwell, the intruder slipped into the now-unguarded room.

The lights were dim, but she could make out the form of the girl on the bed, mumbling and pulling on her restraints. She flicked on a light and the girl's eyes flew open as she cringed at the brightness.

"Sorry." The girl merely hissed back at her in some foreign language. "Are you ... I'm Faith," she finally managed.

The girl kept squinting at her as she slowly approached the bed.  Faith fought the urge to back out and keep going until Slayer HQ, or whatever fancy name they wanted to slap on it, was far behind her.  She didn't know what she was thinking, coming here, but instinct had propelled her, and Faith lived her life on instinct.

And now she was here, staring at this girl with no idea what to say or how to express the feelings churning inside her.  Guilt, for the role she had played in making Dana what she was.  Curiosity at the idea of another "Slayer gone wrong".  Fear of what was going to happen to the girl.  Fear of the precedent it could set.  Fear that she would once again be dragged down into the dark memories and maybe not make it out this time.

Faith struggled for words. "I heard about what happened to you," she said finally. "You're Dana, right?"

The girl continued fighting against the restraints. Wariness showed in her eyes as her gaze traveled up the worn clothing until it hit Faith's face. She snapped her eyes shut suddenly, shaking her head violently.

"It's okay," Faith reassured her awkwardly. "I'm not gonna hurt you or anything."

Dana's eyes flew open, flashing fire. "We alone here, Lester?" The unnatural words coming out of her mouth echoed throughout the room.  Someone else's words, by their accent and inflection.

Faith stopped breathing for a second, her heart cold. She swallowed thickly. "Right, you have that dream thing. I heard about that." Shoving her hands into the pockets of her scuffed jeans, Faith found she couldn't take the intensity of Dana's stare and turned her head away.

"Yeah, I did some stuff. Bad stuff. But - I'm different now. Better."  It was true, it had to be true.  For once, it could be true.  She'd changed.  People expected things of her, and she didn't screw those things up anymore.  Maybe she wasn't a goody-two-shoes golden girl, but she got the job done, and with a hell of a lot less drama.  She did a lot of good when no one was watching.

She turned back, searching Dana for some hint of comprehension, feeling oddly desperate for her to understand.

"All dressed up in big sister's clothes," the girl sneered back. Her nostrils flared and she began spouting some other language, shaking her hair over her face and rattled the railing on her bed.

Faith recognized Italian in the mix. Had this chick been dreaming about Buffy too? Shaking her head, Faith attempted to get through to the girl again. "I did some good stuff, too, you know. I helped save the world," she volunteered. "Yay me," she added wryly when it brought no response. She stood unmoving before the bed. "Did you dream about any of that?"

"Admit it, Wesley," came the reply, clad in an eerie girlish tone. "Didn't you always kinda have the hots for me?"

Nodding slowly, Faith lowered her head. Dana bared her teeth, reaching for the cuffs at her wrists. The bed shuddered under the strain.

"Not weak!" she suddenly screamed hoarsely. "Not weak," she repeated, staring at the unyielding cuffs. She looked up at Faith, a trace of confusion in her wild expression. "Not weak?"

"Oh, right," Faith sighed. "No, those are - they're - special. Magic. They, um - " she scratched the back of her head, "We know you're not weak. That's why they put those on you. So you'll be ... safe."

Dana stared at her, the violence and vulnerability in those dark eyes unnerving Faith as the girl tugged uselessly at her fetters.

"Listen," Faith began, cutting off when she heard movement in the hall. Swiftly, she backed into the shadows and held her breath.

The door to the room creaked open slowly and a man stepped into the light.

"Faith?" Giles called out gently.

Faith remained frozen in place, Dana's wild mutterings doing nothing to give away her presence.

"Faith, I know you're there. We have security cameras. Please, come out."

Chewing her bottom lip, Faith cautiously moved out of the shadows. She could see relief in his eyes as Giles spoke.

"Faith," he sighed. "Where - how have you been?"

Her gaze inscrutable, she answered carefully. "Five by five."

"We were worried," Giles said delicately. "You haven't checked in for months."

"Yeah, well," Faith shrugged. "I was busy." Restless, she fixed her gaze on the struggling girl on the bed.

Giles removed his glasses. "You always have a place with us, you know," he offered, keeping his attention on rubbing the small cloth back and forth over the glass. "We could use your help." He looked up in time to find her eyes flitting quickly away.

"I'm not much for groups these days," she murmured.

"I was sorry to hear about Robin," Giles said quietly.

With a sharp intake of breath, Faith turned away. "Whatever," she answered.

Silence reigned as Faith's discomfort grew. "You gonna help her?" she asked at last, jerking her head toward Dana.

Giles took a measured breath. "We're certainly going to try." He donned his glasses again. "I'm not sure how much we can do for her. She's been severely mistreated." He heard a soft snort from Faith's direction. "Tortured," he amended.

"You're not gonna give up on her, though, right?" Faith suddenly turned back to him, a hint of pleading in her eyes.

Giles frowned. "Of course not, we would never give up on - " He stopped suddenly at the look on Faith's face. "Right," he finished softly. "Right." He opened his mouth, his expression apologetic, but stopped short at the slight shake of her head. He nodded slowly, a shade of admiration in his expression. "We won't give up on her," he pledged, standing a little straighter.

Faith let out the breath she'd been holding. "Good," she said simply, watching the frantic movements of the tethered girl.

When she showed no signs of speaking again, Giles broke the silence. "At least stay for the night," he entreated. "I'm sure you could use a shower and a warm bed. A place to "crash", I believe you call it."

A rusty smile appeared on her face. "Nah, I'm good." She reached a tentative hand toward Dana's hair but pulled back abruptly at the snap of teeth. She pursed her lips. "I'm just gonna slip out again before anyone else sees me."

"She's not here, you know. None of them are."

"I know," Faith replied, her eyes still trained on Dana. "I've seen 'em around. Andrew's here, though. Heard him talking about 'Virgo Martinson' or something like that." Another trace of a smile. The girl stopped struggling at that, stilling her agitation and staring at Faith warily.

"I'll see ya," said Faith suddenly, turning for the door. As she reached for the handle, a voice cried out.

"I'm not gonna kill him, Wesley!" Faith spun around. Dana stared at her wide-eyed. "Angel's the only one in my life who's never given up on me. There's no way I'm giving up on-"

The silence was swift and startling. Faith stared at the broken girl glaring at her fiercely from the bed. After a moment, she gave an almost imperceptible nod and turned back to the door, closing it gently behind her.

Giles was left in the middle of the room puzzling over the hint of pride in the set of Faith's shoulders as she set off back into the night.

Versprechen Sie mir, daß, egal was geschieht, ich nicht alleine sterbe

Promise me that no matter what happens, I won't die alone

Three years later

Halfway down the hallway, Angel could already hear the familiar thumps and grunts of a sparring match.  He opened the door to Training and smiled at the sight before him.  Two brunettes were fiercely trading blows, ranging the length and width of the gymnasium in their efforts.  Past experience told him to wait until they were through before approaching.

"Angel!"  Faith called out, leg-sweeping her opponent.  "Hold on!"

The other girl scrambled to her feet and threw a punch, only to find herself blocked.  Faith held her arm tightly.  "Okay, we're done."  Angel could just barely see the girl's wild eyes as she thrashed in Faith's grasp.  "Sparring is done," repeated Faith firmly.  The girl struggled to yank her arm back, but Faith held fast until she calmed down.  She maintained eye contact for another moment before letting go.

"Angel," she said again, grabbing a towel and wiping her face as she made her way toward him. began to cross the floor.

He opened his mouth in warning, but found it wasn't necessary.  Faith turned smartly and blocked the surprise attack.  "Dana.  Enough."

Dana glowered but stopped resisting.  She looked down and away, indicating reluctant submission.  Satisfied, Faith turned her attention to her visitor.

Angel smiled warmly.  "It's good to see you."

"You too, big guy.  I'd offer you a sweaty hug, but I'm afraid you'd enjoy it too much."  She grinned.  "What's up?"

"Nothing apocalyptic, just thought I'd stop by while I'm in the neighborhood."  At her raised her eyebrows, he revised.  "Well, 'neighborhood' meaning 'the same continent.'"  He tilted his head, peering around her.  "Hi, Dana.  How are you doing?"

Dana stared back, her muscles flexing as she repeatedly tensed and relaxed her fists.  Faith elbowed her.  Heaving a sigh and throwing a sullen look Faith's way, Dana finally muttered, "Hi."

Angel blinked.  "Wow.  Progress."

"Yeah, we've been working on talking with strangers.  'Course, you don't really count, but you're gone often enough that it's good practice for her."

He could see pride in her gaze as Faith flashed her charge a half-smile.  Dana's attention wandered and she began rocking herself back and forth, her gaze crawling over the ceiling.

"Dana.  Dana!"  Faith waited until the girl was looking back at her.  "Want to show Angel what you've learned with the sai?"

Her answer came back hissed in a stream of Italian.

"English, Dana,"  she replied.  "Go get your sai."

With an additional glare over her shoulder at Angel, Dana shuffled off to the weapons cabinet.  Withdrawing two small metal instruments resembling pitchforks, she moved to the middle of the room.  After a throat-clearing prompt by Faith, Dana bowed slightly to Angel before beginning.

Her intense gaze remained as the metal flashed in the air around her.  Angel found himself impressed again as he watched her expertly spin the weapons, striking at imaginary opponents as she made her way through the ancient movements.

"This is her favorite kata," murmured Faith.  "She'd do it all day if I let her."

"She's good," Angel said simply.

"Yeah."  Faith kept her eyes on the whirling metal.  "She loves double nunchaka as well, especially if I let her use the silver ones.  I think she likes the shiny stuff."

"I think she likes deadly weapons."

Faith scratched the back of her head and sighed.  "Well, yeah.  That too."

Dana came to the end of the form and began again, her expression unchanged.

"How's she doing?"  He kept his voice low, though the girl seemed lost in her own world.

Faith nodded slowly.  "Better," she finally said.  "She still has the nightmares.  But who doesn't these days?"  She smiled wryly, but moved on quickly when Angel peered at her in concern.  "She's got the fighting stuff down fine.  And Giles says she actually listens sometimes in class."

"How many girls do you have here now?"

"Just this branch?  A dozen or so.  The others can handle more, but we like it small."

"How is that therapist doing – Williams?"

She scrunched her nose.  "She's out of the hospital.  She's even going to come back, but she doesn't want to see Dana again."

"That's understandable."

"I guess.  She shouldn't have said those things about Dana's parents.  Shrinks are always poking at stuff that should just be left alone.  If Dana doesn't want to talk about her family, she doesn't have to."

Angel slid a sidelong glance at Faith, but she kept her eyes facing forward.

"Are you going to find someone else for Dana?"

"We decided she wasn't ready right now.  She talks to me.  That's enough."

Angel was just deciding whether to ask Faith if she was talking to anybody when he noticed Dana had stopped her movements abruptly.  The sai hung forgotten at her sides as her breathing accelerated.

"Dana?"  Faith stepped toward her, a concerned look on her face.  "What's wrong?"

"Do you have any idea what it was like for me to see you with her? That you went behind my back…" Dana spit the words out with disgust, and her voice dropped lower.  "This was about saving somebody's soul. That's what I do here, and you're not a part of it."

"What the hell –"  Faith began, but stopped short and stared in disbelief at the blonde who was standing in the doorway.

"B?"

Ses mains étaient mouillee avec la mort ; elle était un testament de marche à son incapacité d'exiger la justice, ou vengeance

Her hands were wet with death; she was a walking testament to her inability to exact justice, or revenge

Buffy smiled hesitantly, thrown by the disconcerting recap of that long-ago argument.  "Hey."  What was Angel doing here?  Why hadn't she known?  How long had they – she closed her eyes briefly, striving to regain her composure.  "Angel," she finally acknowledged, opening her eyes again.

He nodded back.  "Buffy."

Growing uncomfortable under his searching gaze, she turned her attention to glowering girl with the sai in the middle of the room.  "Hi, Dana."

The answering growl prompted Faith to give her charge a warning look.

"Dana.  Chill."  Licking her lips, Faith walked toward the other Slayer.  "B, what's up?"

"Up?"  She found it hard to look away from the intensity of Dana's glare.  "Um," She shook her head.  "Nothing, I just - wanted to stop by."  At Faith's skeptical look, Buffy began to feel a little embarrassed.  "What, am I not allowed?  New Slayers only?"

"No, it's fine.  I mean, whatever.  It's just … you've never 'stopped by' before.  Kinda weird."

Shrugging a non-answer, Buffy awkwardly began to hold her hand out to Faith for a handshake or hug - she didn't know which was the appropriate thing here.  All three of them were shocked when Dana suddenly shoved her way into the circle and planted herself in front of Faith, facing off against Buffy with arms crossed defiantly.

"This one's from someone who just thinks she's a cop. It's my favorite of all my current bruises."

Buffy drew her eyebrows together.  What?  Behind Dana, a look of comprehension washed over Faith's face.

"Dana," she began.

"There's a word for people like you … loser," the girl hissed.

Faith closed her eyes and a memory finally sparked in Buffy's mind.  Chains.  Knives.  Fire.  Faith.  Angel.

"Stuck it in her gut.  Just slid in her like she was butter."

Buffy's stomach dropped. 

"Buffy, I'm sorry.  She's just - she doesn't always know what she's saying."

"She knows," whispered Buffy.

Faith shrugged uncomfortably.  "I didn't tell her any of that stuff.  She's got this weird dream thing.  I guess she's a little protective of me."

Buffy nodded, taking a deep breath and turning toward the man standing by quietly.  "Didn't expect to find you here."  She smiled weakly.

"Just stopping by."

"Lotta that going around lately."

Angel took a step forward but halted as Dana inched over to stand in front of him as well.

"I'm sorry I can't be in your club - I've never murdered anybody!"

Buffy stared in disbelief at the girl fiercely guarding Faith and Angel.  From her.

"B, maybe we should talk later." 

She watched as Faith gently placed a hand on Dana's shoulder. 

"Dana, why don't you and I hit the showers?"  Dana's worried eyes flicked between Buffy and Angel.  "Angel'll be fine, I promise."  With firm pressure, she slowly guided the girl away, deliberately not looking back at the scene behind her.

Silence hung heavy and Buffy tried to think of something, anything, to say.  Angel wasn't helping, keeping his gaze fixed on the floor.

"You know," Her voice echoed oddly in the large room.  "I should really find Giles.  Check in and stuff.  He probably doesn't even know I'm here yet."

"Of course.  I have some other girls to visit anyway, so …"

The politeness was cutting.  She had to get out of there.  "I'll see ya," she said abruptly, turning away.

Buffy walked quickly, not slowing until she hit the hallway and was alone again.  Sighing, she slumped against the wall.  Maybe coming here had been a bad idea.

"Buffy?"

The incredulous voice was achingly familiar and her heart lifted.

"Giles?"  She looked up to see the Watcher heading toward her.  "Giles!"  She closed the distance rapidly and was enveloped in a welcoming hug.  "It's so good to see you," she said sincerely, the words muffled against his shoulder.

"It's good to have you back, Buffy.  We've missed you."  He tightened his hold on her.

Buffy could feel tears threatening and hastily pulled away, swallowing hard.  "Everything looks great.  You guys have really done a lot here."

"Thank you.  It's taken a great deal of hard work, but I believe we're really making a difference."

"That's great.  Really … great." 

"And you?  How have things been going?  Are you still in Switzerland?"

"Oh, I stay here and there," she answered vaguely.  "And things are fine.  I'm traveling a lot, seeing some cool stuff.  I'm not really tied down anymore, now that Dawn's in college.  It's really … great."

"I'm glad to hear it."

She'd forgotten how knowing that gaze could be.  Squirming a bit, she rushed on.  "No really, it's good.  I was kinda burned out for awhile, but Rome and the whole Europe thing was good and now I'm ready to get back into things, you know, just seeing where I'm needed and how long has Faith been here?"  Darn it.  She hadn't meant to say it like that.

Giles raised an eyebrow.  "Faith?   She started coming around two or three years back.  She was still wandering at that time, but her visits became more frequent as time went on.  She especially connected with Dana.  You remember Dana?"

"They told me she was here.  She was the one from the orphanage?"

"Mental hospital.  She'd been kidnapped and tortured for years.  We found her in L.A…." Giles trailed off.

"I remember," Buffy replied.

"In any case, Faith was the first person Dana really responded to. I asked her to consider staying on, for Dana's sake.  She agreed."

"Just like that?  Faith?  And she stuck around?"

"People change, Buffy." 

His voice was softly reprimanding and she fought the urge to blush.

"It was only then that we finally started making progress with Dana.  Her periods of lucidity grew longer and the physical attacks decreased.  Faith and I worked out a program of recovery and rehabilitation for her, and she's taken to it very well."

"You and Faith.  You're like, co-workers now?"

He smiled gently.  "I've come to respect Faith as a peer, yes.  She's worked very hard here, Buffy.  She's doing a lot of good."

"Good," Buffy shrugged.  "I'm glad that whole rehab-y thing stuck."

"I can see that," he said wryly.

Buffy cleared her throat.  "So, does Angel come by a lot?"

"When his schedule permits, yes.  We like for Dana to have exposure to other males when we can.  There were a few young Watchers at the beginning, but Dana had a small setback and they declined to return."

She blinked.  "Oh."

"How long do you think you'll be staying with us?"

"Me?" Her eyes caught on a neatly labeled schedule posted on a nearby bulletin board.  The names spread evenly across the top of the page.  "I'm really just popping in.  I'll be out of your hair soon."

"Buffy."  He waited until she was looking at him again.  "We'd love for you to stay."  A pause.  "I miss you."

Buffy bit her lip and looked away.  "I know," she said, her voice wobbling.  She took a deep breath.  "I'm sorry."  Why did she feel like a misbehaving kid?  Run away from home and come back to find it running fine without her.  Talk about déjà vu.

"If you would prefer," he said carefully.  "I can check with some of the other branches, see if they're in need of help."

She shrugged, saying nothing.

"I was just off to find a cup of tea.  Would you care to join me?"

She took a shaky breath.  "No, thanks.  I think I'll just walk around a little, get a feel for the place."

"I'll speak to you soon then," he answered, squeezing her shoulder before passing by.

She nodded, watching him walk away.  Turning back toward the gymnasium, she was somehow not surprised to find Angel standing in front of her.

Θέλω να αναφερθώ επειδή έκανα κάτι μεγάλο. Μόνο ένα μεγάλο πράγμα.

I want to be remembered because I did something great.  Just one great thing

She looked thin.  She'd always been slender, but her skin seemed stretched tighter somehow. "How are you?"  He wondered whether she would give the pat answer or take the question seriously.

She put on a smile.  "Good.  You?"

Pat answer, then.  "Fine."

"What have you been up to?"

Always a complicated question with them.  "The usual."

"Saving the world from unspeakable demons?"  She was trying for humour, trying to keep it light.  When was the last time things been humorous between them?

He paused before replying.  "Yeah."  And suddenly his patience with evasion and good manners was gone.  "Actually, not saving the world so much as cleaning up after myself."

"What do you mean?"

He hadn't seen that little eyebrow crinkle in a long time.  He sighed.  How much had she heard?  "Buffy, you know what happened in L.A. three years ago?"

Her eyes darkened.  "Apocalypse.  Another one you didn't call me about."

"Oh, like you ran to the phone when you were -" He stopped himself.  Not the time nor the place.  "We were trying to - there was this group, The Circle of the Black Thorn.  They were the Big Bads – the ones in charge down here.  I thought that if we hit the right ones, if we could at least take down the leaders, we'd make enough of a difference.  For awhile, anyway."

"It … didn't work?"

"Not exactly, no.  We got the leaders. We lost—" He took an unnecessary breath that did nothing to dispel the pain.  "There was some sacrifice, but we got them."

"Then what-"

"It just made things worse." 

"How could they get worse?"

"C'mon, Buffy, you must have seen the news.  Demons everywhere, overrunning the city.  Came out of the woodwork in droves, gunning for us and destroying everything in their way.  We fought them off as best we could, and two of us even made it out.  But it was too late," he finished bleakly.  "We'd pissed them off.  Without leaders, they became even more chaotic.  We never thought there could be anything worse than organized evil.  Turns out that millions of evil creatures destroying a city with no one in charge isn't as great a situation as you'd think."

"Wait," Buffy shook her head.  "You're saying it all started after your plan?  I thought the apocalypse was the millions of evil …so you weren't fighting them.  You caused them." 

He couldn't bear to watch her eyes as the truth sunk in.  "It was a mistake," he said harshly.  "I thought it was the right thing.  It wasn't."

"I was going to come."

He lifted his head.  "What?"

"Dawn and I were in the Alps at the time.  We had no idea what was going down until we got back to Rome a week later.  The video footage, all those people …" She swallowed.  "I was going to come help but the Army was already stepping in.  The bombs and the controlled fires - I guess they just gave up."

"There was no L.A. to save by that time," Angel said flatly.  "The best we could do was try to contain it.  The fires got a lot of them, but we still had plenty of escapees, especially the ones who could fly."

"And that's what you're doing now, isn't it?" she said slowly.  "Tracking down all the ones who got away?"

"They're my responsibility."

He saw the color rise in her cheeks.  "Were you ever planning on telling me about this?"

"When was I supposed to tell you?  All those phone calls you never made?  The letters you never wrote, telling me where you were?  Telling me you were alive?"

"What, you wanted a Christmas newsletter?  We're not together, Angel!  I have my own life!"

"That's pretty obvious.  You certainly haven't tried to share it with any of us in the last four years."

"What business is it of yours?"

"How can you ask me that?" He stared at her in disbelief.  "You think just because we don't talk, you're not a part of me?  You think that just goes away?"

"I was tired, Angel.  Tired of everything.  All of this.  I was tired of being responsible for the world.  I had just enough left for me and for Dawn."

"So you just gave up."  He tried to quell the growing resentment.  "You cast a spell over the world, affecting thousands of girls, and you just got tired of taking care of it."

She set her jaw.  "There were plenty of people helping those girls, Angel."

"And you should have been one of them.  You should have accepted the consequences of your actions."

"Consequences!  I am so sick of hearing about that.  I did what I had to do.  We needed that power to fight the First.  Mine wasn't enough, so we gave the girls a choice."

"That's bullshit, Buffy!  You gave a couple dozen girls a choice.  What about the ones across the rest of the world?  The ones who woke up completely terrified with no idea what was happening to them?"

"What else were we supposed to do?  That's how the spell worked!"

"But you just left them!  You knew, you saw what was happening out there.  You knew about Dana and you must have known there'd be more like her." 

"We're talking about world-changing decisions in the face of an apocalypse?  Let's talk about your brilliant plan, huh?  Anyone blaming you for that?"

"Yeah.  Me.  Every day.  And I'm doing something about it.  How about you?"

She was breathing heavily now, anger pinkening her cheeks.  "Look, I didn't come here to argue."

"Why did you come here, Buffy?"

"I thought they might need me," she said through clenched teeth.  "Obviously I was wrong."

"You think you're not needed?  You think you're just some side note?  That just because we've managed to live without you, that's what we all want?"

"What am I supposed to think?"

"You didn't give us a choice, Buffy!  You just withdrew, disconnected, left us to get along on our own.  Showing up unexpectedly three years later doesn't cancel all that out."

"What do you need me for, huh?  This isn't the first branch I've been to, you know!"

That threw him.  "What?"

"I've seen them.  All of them, and they're all doing just fine."  Her chest was still heaving with anger.  "I've spent the last month going from branch to branch.  Today was just icing on the cake.  Giles and Faith and everybody else - they've got it all under control on their own.  So you tell me, Angel, what exactly am I needed for?"

"What are you …" He couldn't take his eyes off of her, spectacular in her fury and desperation.  He moved forward and it was dramatic, it was foolish, it was only in the movies - then again, their relationship had always tended toward the dramatic - and he found himself kissing her.

One hand moved to the back of her head, tangling in her hair, while the other crept around her back.  She was kissing him back and god, how long had it been?

He thought he heard her whimper before yanking herself away.

"This is exactly our problem!" She was nearly shouting now.

"Our problem is kissing?"

"Our problem is the big dramatic gesture, the one move that will solve everything.  Well, it didn't!  It didn't work for you and it didn't work for me!"

"You think I don't know that?  I'm the one trying to fix it now, Buffy."

"Well, I can't fix it.  I can't fix Dana.  I can't fix the other girls.  Faith has it all down and she's the one they're gonna turn to."

He sighed and watched her quietly for a moment.  She really had no idea.  No matter how large and complicated their organization grew, Buffy was still at the heart of it, willing or not.  They needed her – he needed her – because she was her.  But she couldn't see beyond her fears, those old, not-so-buried fears, and she wouldn't until she was ready.

"When you finally realize what the situation really is, give me a call.  Until then, I've got a dragon to hunt down."  Shoving his hands in the pockets of his duster, he turned his back to her and walked away.

És éppen úgy, mint halál boríték őt -ban -a irgalmas állandó megölel Ildik csendes wasn't persze ha a gyönyörű , Véres Grófnő volt hűségesen egy vámpír … Vagy ha , mint egy Gyilkos , meghalt részére értéktelen

And even as death enveloped her in its mercifully permanent embrace, Ildik still wasn't sure if the beautiful, Bloody Countess was truly a vampire … Or if, as a Slayer, she had died for naught

He had managed to ignore the rising voices in the hallway, but the long silence followed by a muffled thump had him worried enough to venture out again.

"Buffy?" called Giles.  "Are you all right?"

"I'm fine," she answered, sounding decidedly the opposite.

He approached and saw a fist-sized hole in the wall plaster.

She flushed.  "Sorry.  I'll - pay for it, or whatever."

"It's fine.  I'll have someone look at it in the morning."

"You even have people for that?"

"No, we have the phone number of a local contractor."

"Oh."  She picked at a thread on her shirt hem.

"Contrary to popular belief, even my talents have limits."  He smiled and was concerned to see the half-hearted effort she made in return.

"Giles, do you think - I mean, have you heard of many other girls like Dana?"

He weighed his response carefully.  "She's not alone in her difficulties, no."

"What's wrong with them?"

"Some of them were born with mental and emotional problems.  Others were fairly normal until they were Called.  It appears the event caused a kind of psychotic break in certain cases.  Buffy, are you sure you want to hear this right now?" 

"I need to know," she said quietly.

"Some simply deny our assistance, choosing to use their newfound powers for personal gain.  There is little we can do in such instances, although we keep tabs on them should they change their minds.  We do what we can to prevent them from harming others.  Most," he finished with a sigh.  "are simply scared, confused girls whose lives have suddenly changed irrevocably.  I believe you have some experience in that area."

She brushed the comment aside.  "What happened to them?  Those first ones, I mean.  With mental …"

"Most were tracked down and brought here."

"Why here?"

"Because this is where the person who found them lives."  He waited for comprehension to dawn.

"Faith."

"After working with Dana for a few months, Faith began asking about others like her.  I knew of one at the time, but we'd been unable to reach her thus far.  Faith disappeared that evening.  It was all we could do to calm Dana enough to sleep that night, but Faith was back the next day with Elyse."

Buffy kept her eyes on the gymnasium doors while Giles spoke.

"We adjusted our training program to include Elyse, but it wasn't long before Faith brought back Chiara.  Things continued in that fashion, Faith seeking out the ones who needed us most."

"How do you even find them?"

"She uses prison records, social worker files, hospital documentation.  She has a knack for finding the ones who've slipped through the cracks."

"The other girls, the ones at the other branches … they all seemed so normal."

He was surprised at her casual mention of the visits.  He'd had reports of people seeing her on the property, but nothing had been confirmed.  "Most of them are."

"Because you have the rest of them here."

"Yes."

"Sounds like Faith is doing a top-notch job."  No matter how old she grew, that resentful set of the chin seemed to stay with her.

"She's done some admirable work, true, but her life is far from easy, Buffy."

"She's here every day?"

"And some nights, when she isn't patrolling.  Some of our more advanced students have begun to take over that duty, but she still prefers to watch over them from afar."

"Do you think Dana will ever really get better?"

"Well, she's made considerable progress -"

"I mean really."

He pursed his lips.  "I don't know.  None of us can know.  We just keep showing up every morning and doing what we can."

"Does she understand what happened to her?"

"Some days."

"Is she mad?"

He arched an eyebrow.

Buffy rolled her eyes.  "Not English-mad, angry-mad.  Like she knows we did this to her."

"Dana is angry about a great many things.  Whether she holds us responsible for her condition or her recovery … I simply don't know.  Faith might, perhaps."

Buffy didn't answer.  She simply stood there, her gaze riveted to the schedule posted on the wall.  She ran a finger lightly over the printed names and swallowed.

Les gouttières de Paris ont couru le rouge avec le sang... que cette Marie-Christine a marché partout, elle a glissé et est tombée dans les magmas du sang

The gutters of Paris ran red with blood … everywhere that Marie-Christine walked, she slipped and fell in the puddles of blood

Faith is combing my hair.  Why is Faith combing my hair?  I'm supposed to, I'm supposed to, I get the star in the box if I do.

Her words and muscles are tight and we didn't cool down.  We always cool down.  It's Tuesday, we do weapons and we cool down with yoga.

The blond girl is wrecking everything.  Why is she here?  Why not the big mountains or the sunny place, why here, why here, why does she come to take my people?

I'll stop her this time.  No swords in the chest, no knives in butter, no slamming doors and teaching to know. 

She'll go away, go back to the Green and leave us alone.

Requirements:

Other characters : Faith, Angel and Buffy
Genre: shippy, smutty darkfic?
Requests: Dana "remembers" (hallucinates, whatever) a classic B/A moment,
and spouts it out in front of everyone. An argument that ends in a kiss. future fic.
Restrictions: no Spike except mentions in passing, no Cordy