Disclaimer: All characters, etc, belong to Joss, M.E., Fox, and whoever else. I just needed to borrow them for awhile. No harm or copyright infringement intended.
A/N: And the end is finally here. I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to read and review this story. Your reviews and kind words were what kept me writing. I hope to start a sequel some time in the future, so keep an eye out for it. It will probably be called something along the lines of "Into the Void: Even Deeper" or something cheesy like that.
Anyways, thanks again! You guys rock!
Chapter Twenty-Four -- The End & The Epilogue
Buffy and Faith stood in a tight embrace in the kitchen, both enjoying the slight tingling sensation that they were feeling from their Slayer bond. They had been like that for about ten minutes, just holding on to one another in complete silence.
Finally, Buffy decided to break the silence.
"So . . . fill me in on the missing details. You got in Angel's car yesterday and headed back to LA with them. Then . . . you're turn." Buffy said, still tight in Faith's embrace with her head against her shoulder.
"Then . . ." Faith began, "I realized how much I missed bein' here and that I wanted to get things done there as fast as possible. I asked Angel if we could go see the Host right away, but he shot me down . . . he said it was kinda late, and I said that was kinda bullshit, but he won out . . . just not before he told me the name of the Host's club."
"Wait . . . the Host's club?" Buffy interrupted. "What kind of club?" She asked, pulling back from Faith just enough to give her a questioning look.
Faith smiled, her cheeks blushing just a bit.
"Umm . . . it's a karaoke club. The only way the Host can read you is when you open up your soul, and that just happens to be when you're singin'."
Buffy tried to hide her smile. "Did Faith sing a little song?" Buffy asked teasingly.
Faith lowered her hand and smacked Buffy's butt, making the blonde jump.
"Yeah, I did, and we're never gonna bring it up again, 'kay?"
Buffy smiled. "'Kay. So . . . you sang a little tune, then what?"
"Then . . ." Faith's smile faded just a little bit, ". . . then he pulled me over and filled me in on the what and the when."
Buffy noticed Faith's smile fade and could tell right away that the news probably wasn't the best. She laid her head back on the brunette's shoulder and wrapper her arms around the girl, offering her as much comfort as she could.
"What did he tell you?" She asked quietly.
Instantly, Faith's mind began to get flashes of everything that the host had told her: how they would be hunted by a Demon-God in search of a Mystical Key, that key being Dawn; how Buffy would perish in the battle; how her friends would bring her back into the dark world from a much happier place; and how a bid bad evil would try to open the Hellmouth and unleash hell on Earth once again.
But then the Host had told Faith something else: he told her that she herself was the key to stopping all of that from happening. When the group had performed the ritual to save Faith, they had no idea that they had saved themselves as well, for when they gave up pieces of themselves, the pieces were absorbed by Faith as well as by each other.
She now held the heart of a warrior, the power of a witch and the power of a link to the Powers-that-Be, the innocence of an ordinary man, the strength of soul. The Host had also told her that she didn't gain immortality from Spike's surrender, but she had gained another gift from that very same surrender that she would find out later down the road.
Point and fact: she was bigger and badder than any Slayer before her. A power lay within her that she couldn't yet comprehend.
She also learned that those who served as the five sources had also absorbed small amounts of one another's surrenders, and that they would be able to harness their new-found powers in their upcoming battles.
The Host had informed Faith that the path that lay in front of her was sure to be rocky and treacherous, but that if she stayed true to her calling and to her heart, the world might live to see a brighter day.
Faith's mind sorted through all of the information that he had given her, trying to put together bits and pieces that she could tell to Buffy without scaring or upsetting the girl. She decided to use the vague approach.
"Well, B, he told me that things are gonna be fine, I just have to keep workin' hard at stayin' on the right path. There's gonna be some tough times in the future, but I've got a good 'heads-up' on the what and the when, so I think I'll be able to make things better." 'Or at least I hope I can' she thought.
"Anything I should be concerned about?" Buffy asked nervously.
Faith squeezed her harder, deeply breathing in her scent.
"Not at this moment, not on this day. Right now, all we have to worry about is getting our lives back on track after the last few days, and possibly about what you're gonna make me for breakfast."
Buffy chuckled against her.
"You want to eat 'Buffy' food? You are aware that I can't cook to save my life, right?"
Faith laughed. "Nahh, I didn't know that B. Thanks for the warnin'. Guess I got lots to get to know about ya."
"Well, we've got nothing but time to do that now, right?" Buffy asked cheerfully.
Faith tried to copy Buffy's cheer, but the Host's words that 'Buffy will perish' kept ringing through her head and she couldn't help but think that they didn't have much time to be happy before things started getting bad.
"Yeah, lots of time." Faith said flatly, trying to sound cheerful but failing. "Hey, speaking of time, I better call Angel and apologize. He probably still thinks I'm out patrolling or something."
With that, she placed a kiss on Buffy's forehead and walked across the room to use the telephone.
Just as she was about to pick the phone up to dial, it rang. She glanced over at Buffy with her eyebrows raised, and the blonde just nodded at her. Casually, she picked up the phone while Buffy stood nearby and listened on.
"Hey, Faith. How's Buffy? Oh, and how's the weather in Sunnydale?"
The sarcastic voice of Cordelia rang across from the other end, instantly making Faith smile.
"Good on both of those counts, Cor. Umm . . . sorry I took off like that. I never was one for sittin' and waitin'. Is Angel pissed?"
"He got over the car thing, but when he found out that you went to see the Host and Warden Drake without him in the middle of the night, he was kinda . . . grrr and argh."
"Shit. How'd he find out?"
"Through his enhanced vampire hearing. The phone rang, he heard it, answered it, and had a lovely little conversation with Warden Drake who filled him in on your little midnight rendezvous."
"Ha-ha, Cor. So . . . is he there? Can I talk to him?"
"Yeah, hang on . . . . ANGEL!!!!" "Hello?"
"Hey, Angel. So . . . are ya gonna try to kick my ass next time I see ya?"
"I'll let it go this time. I shouldn't have made you wait, I know how impatient you are. I should've seen it coming. So, you talked to the Host?"
"I'm not gonna ask you what he said, Faith, because it's meant for you. You can tell me only if you want to."
"Thanks. Maybe another time, yeah?" She didn't want to get into the details with Buffy so close by. "Umm, I talked to Drake too. I still had some questions after the Host read me, so I figured that Drake might've been able to fill me in on the blanks."
"And did he?"
"Yeah. As far as what he's been able to get outta his friends on the higher plane, I'm all better, 100. No chances for a relapse or for the darkness to try and get back inside."
"That's great, Faith. Anything else interesting?"
"Yeah. He said that when we did the ritual, everything that we gave up is now shared between us. So, you've still got the permanence and strength of you soul, but so do me and Willow and the rest of them. The mortals didn't get 'immortality' like Spike surrendered, but there is some kind of perk we got from it, we'll just have to wait to find out what."
"And what about the whole 'soul' thing?"
"Well, mine is complete now and stronger than ever, yours is still permanent, and as far as the soul-mates thing goes, it's all true. We all share a little of each others' soul, so we're all cosmically tied together now. Even Spike; he doesn't have his own soul, but he's got a little of all of ours."
"Hah. That's gotta be killing him. But hey . . . at least we won't have to worry about him trying to kill any of us anytime soon."
"Guess not. So, anyways, I'll try and get your car back to ya sometime this week . . . maybe B and I can take a drive down there this weekend or somethin."
"No need to rush, Faith. You know that you're always welcome here, right?"
Faith smiled. "Yeah, I know, big guy. I'll be in touch. Bye, Angel."
"Bye, Faith. Behave."
"Sorry, but that word's not in my vocabulary."
And with that, Faith hung up the phone. She turned to face a smiling Buffy.
"What?" She asked the blonde who was giving her a devilish grin.
"So . . ." Buffy began, slowly creeping up to the brunette, ". . . I hear that soul of yours is permanent. No worries, right?"
"Riiiiight." Faith answered, taking a step back as the blonde got even closer, eventually backing right up into the wall.
Buffy was now right up against her, looking up at her through her eyelashes while wearing a feral smile.
"So . . . how about getting that room?" Buffy asked huskily, causing Faith to smirk and instantly forget about the slightly glum news she had got the night before.
"How 'bout it?" Faith answered cockily, having no time to say anything more as she felt herself being tugged up the stairs by the petite blonde.
A smile crept up on her face.
'Now THIS is home' she thought as she was pulled into Buffy's bedroom, the door slamming closed behind her.
So it's been about two weeks since I came back to Sunnydale. Things have been pretty good . . . Buffy's been a fuckin doll, tryin' to take care of me and make me happy. It's like she's tryin' to make up for all of the bad times in our past and for all of the time we spent apart.
I've gotta tell ya: it definitely doesn't suck..
As for the Scoobies, they've been pretty cool too. Things were kinds awkward at first, but I don't think it's because of our shaky past. I think it's more because I'm with Buffy now.
Yunno. With with.
Sure, Red's with Tara, so it's not really the girl-girl thing that shocks them. I think it's the fact that it's Buffy and Me, both of us who had only ever been with guys.
I'm sure that if none of this woulda happened, Buffy woulda ended up with some guy, and I probably would ended up with some guy too. But . . . there's something that we share . . . call it the Slayer bond or whatever the fuck else you want. Whatever it is, I can't stand the thought of bein' away from her for more that a few minutes at a time, and she feels the same way.
Anyhow, the entire gang is slowly dealing. Willow and Tara moved in the house and are stayin' in Joyce's old room. We figure that no one can take Joyce's place, but that it can't hurt to have more loving and caring people in the house.
Plus, it makes Dawnie happy to have us all around. She needs a sense of family, and we all wanna give her that. She's so young, she needs it. After all, look at me: I had no real family when I was her age, and I think it fucked me up for a while.
Thanks god I'm on the right track now. smirk
So, like I said, things are goin' pretty good. Just yesterday, we finally got our first taste of that Glory bitch, the hell-God that supposedly takes my B from me.
Yeah, notice that I said supposedly, cuz I ain't lettin' that bad-home-permed fashion-challenged piece of shit excuse for a God take anyone from me.
Truth be told, it was kinda weird when we met her for the first time. She was all big talk and bravado, but then she took a look at me. A good hard look.
And ya know what?
She looked scared.
Looks like the new and improved Faithy has got a little something extra up her sleeve. Hah. Maybe little-ol'-me can give her a run for her money.
Either way, I'm not as scared now as I was two weeks ago when I found out the things that lay ahead of me. I feel confident . . . and I haven't been able to say that about myself since, well, ever.
So we're getting' prepared. The Scoobies are in full research mode, B and I have been trainin' like mad between researchin', and we're takin' things one day at a time.
When the shit goes down, we're gonna be ready.
And as long as I have my friends (yes, my friends) and B by my side? I think we can take whatever the world has to throw at us.
"I love the way I feel today
But how I know the sun will fade
Darker days seem to be
What will always live in me
It's hard to walk this path alone
Hard to know which way to go
Will I ever save this day?
Will it ever change?" -- Alter Bridge – "Open Your Eyes"