Summary:

Faith wants Connor to clear his mind, only to have Buffy and Spike visit hers. Connor has others messing with his mind, and Faith plans to make a mess of her own when she learns the truth about Spike.

(Connor, Faith & Kennedy friendship, Xander,Willow & magic, Willow/Kennedy, Faith/Spike, Buffy/Faith,Dream-verse,Action, Sahjhan,Sex, Bloodlust, mild slash, het, h/c)

Notes: Feedback appreciated. I DO take into account what people want. Don't worry if certain people weren't around much. They'll be back.

THANKS to Rooibas this time for betaing. She also said: "With your stories I have to set aside time and prepare for a full meal." Bon appetite, guys!

More or Less 6- Our Time is running out (or Sahjhan's Return)

"Wait, wait. I don't get it," Faith said, "This shit makes no sense."

She laughed as she lay on her bed's dark green bed-spread and blew out pot smoke towards Connor as he was flopped down next to her. If he could only get a little closer he could get a shotgun off of the smoke she blew out.

"It's not supposed to make sense. It's a myth. They're archetypes for the phenomena of human nature—desire, jealousy, birth, life and death," he said as bits of thoughts swirled up in his head as she passed him the joint.

He had thoughts of archetypes and why the world needed them. Weren't they just more lies, or the truth simply because they were said to be. Is that what archetypes really were? He thought of Jasmine.

He felt a flash of panic that he hadn't felt in a while. The one that came when he wasn't being the person that he was needed to be. Then Faith burst out laughing.

"You got that right," she said, "It's a bunch of guys trying to get laid and their bitches reeking havoc on the chicks that screwed them instead of their men. Totally life, what I don't get is why Hera bothered to mess with these chicks. She really should be messing with Zeus. Make his dick break off if he screwed anyone else."

"She couldn't. He was too powerful. The only way she could get her revenge was through his ho's," Connor said, happy he could add something.

"If Zeus was so powerful why did he have to trick her into getting married with that weird ass pretending to be a lamb and then fucking her thing. Why didn't he just do a love spell, or whatever Gods do?" Faith said.

"That doesn't work I guess, even a god can't create love if it isn't there. I never thought about that. One of the few limits of Zeus's powers is he couldn't truly get what he wanted—love. Even though one of his affairs created Aphrodite and she—"Connor thought he was having some kind of epiphany or something, and he was glad when Faith interrupted him.

"It was kind of a cool punishment for that one chick though. The one that fell for the reflection guy. All she could say was what he said back to him. So, he had to be all 'Stop copying me, bitch!'" Faith said.

That made Connor laugh until his stomach hurt as he thought of Narcissus really saying that to Echo.

"Of course, if someone really was in love with themselves they'd love someone just saying back what they said. It would be like another reflection to be in love with. Maybe deep down he really hated himself. I mean, he ended up cutting himself up and growing into that flower," Faith sighed as she rolled over on her back in her red tank top.

"It wasn't just him she could repeat back to others too. Anyone who talked to her," Connor said as he watched Faith close her eyes.

"Ug! She was probably mad crazy in no time. Having to say other people's dumb ass shit. What was her name again?"

"Echo," Connor said softly as he studied the side of her face carefully.

She looked a little tanner. It must have been from staying in that glass house with Spike. She had the faintest freckles on her forehead.

"Right, duh," she said and suddenly she had rolled over and was looking him dead in the face, "This is what you learn in fancy colleges that cost more money than a slob like me will ever make in my entire life? It's no wonder you are all a bunch of crazy pot heads and the world is falling to shit."

All of Connor's self-consciousness fell away with her tone, and her lively eyes. He laughed again with her.

"I wished you had been in my Greek Mythology class. It would have been so much better. How did this whole conversation start anyway? Were we talking about Jasmine?" he asked, really not remembering.

"Jasmine?" she said as her brow wrinkled.

"Yeah, the god me and Cordy made and she tried to make the world into a mindless dystopia, you know?" Connor said.

"Oh, that," Faith said, "No, it wasn't that. I was telling you Angel loves you, and you said something about Angel only being able to love his own reflection, and than I said 'Dude, I'd agree with you as most guys do that, but Angel doesn't have a reflection.' And then I said 'Imagine someone who really was in love with their reflection, and then they became a vampire. Tough break.' And then you started telling me about the narcissism guy, and I kept asking about it. So, you told me about Hera and Zeus and Echo."

"Oh, I'm kind of a dork, huh?" Connor laughed.

He talked too much when he was stoned, and he often had no idea what he was saying. He shouldn't do this with her anymore.

"Totally, but I'm sure your brain will save our lives, as much as your brawn. In fact, I don't know what you need me for. All of this 'I must train Connor in Sunny-D crap' is probably just an excuse to relive my glory days I never had through you. Talk about in-love-with-myself-guy-tendencies. I should be shot or at least beaten," she said, and smiled sadly.

"That's not you. That's Angel. I do need you. I tried to kill myself and I beat up Wes, remember?"

"Yeah," she said coyly, "What the hell were you trying to do those things without me for? Those are my areas of expertise, man."

"Right, see," Connor said.

"No more," she smacked his hand as he went to take the joint from her, "This is just a simple homeopathic remedy used to clear your head, grasshopper. Since you refuse to meditate. Don't get too crazy with it."

She pinched out the joint with two fingers that had nails painted some shade of blue.

"To clear my head, huh?" Connor grinned, "It sure beats magic."

"Magic and weed are the same. You can use 'em both for your own good cause, but everyone thinks everyone else isn't using it right. They think they're the only ones who know how," Faith grumbled.

She seemed to be giving him that look of misery now. Oh no. All was not well. He had to bring up magic. He really was an idiot. He wanted to keep her happy. He had never seen her as miserable as when she broke it off with Spike. She even looked more miserable than the few times he'd seen her cry. He'd almost rather have crying than the way she was then.

"Fucking Dick! None of his fucking business!" Faith sneered.

"I thought we weren't going to mention his name," Connor said softly.

"Did I mention that jack-off's name?" Faith said.

He had opened up the Spike door again. She was so angry at Spike; it seemed like she carried around this loaded gun full of Spike fury and no matter what Connor did he just would set it off sometimes. Actually, she did carry a loaded gun—literally these days, unlike the Spike anger it had a safety. Connor had designed wooden tipped bullets, and Faith couldn't stop raving about them. So, one year of engineering class and that Blade Two movie had been worth something.

It was Spike that started to call Connor "Blade." So, he thought it would be good to see the movies. After he did he was glad Faith stopped calling him that, and that Spike was gone. Blade really had vampire in him, and Connor was sure he didn't—not the demon part anyway. Was that what Spike thought? Connor thought it might be better just to forget about Spike. But, it was like the summer he sank his father into the ocean. Things kept popping up that made it hard to forget about him. The vampires they fought, and mostly killed, even wanted to know where he was. At least Faith had finally stopped smelling like him. Connor didn't think anyone else knew it, but that had taken forever to go away. They must have had a lot of sex in that house before Connor and Angel showed up. Like constant sex and touching with him all over her. Spike had a strong smell, like leather, cigarettes, and something like snow, but it didn't drown out Faith's clove and milky smell. It just mixed with it enough to mess with Connor's head.

"…own fucking choices. I chose to go down!" Faith had been in the middle of saying something, "Wes didn't push me. I wanted to do the spell to save that Brit bastard and I know I wanted to do the spell to save Angel. He thinks I'm some kind of idiot that just says 'yes boss' and Wes pulls my strings. Bastard."

Yeah. Connor didn't know what was with vampires with souls, but he started to realize that they were probably all big hypocrites. So Spike had been shutout. He couldn't be with Faith anymore. Just because a girl decides that she doesn't want to date you doesn't mean you totally leave if you are needed. Not that Connor couldn't handle being the only super-being on the Hellmouth. Spike still was a bastard.

"And he brought you in on hurting Wes. That's just the fucking creamy filling of it," Faith said.

Spike was a bastard, but not for anything that Faith was mad about.

"Faith, Spike didn't bring me anywhere, okay?" Connor said firmly, "I beat up Wes because I thought it might save your life, and—and I did it because I wanted to. And I'd do it again. I might not hurt him as much, but I'd confront him. There'd be bruising."

"That's just because the dick pumped you full of testosterone, and don't mention his name!" she said.

Her eyes blazed as she shot up on the bed. Good. It was better that she be angry with him that meant he wasn't selfish. He wasn't trying to get something from her. A good man would make sure she would know the truth. All of a sudden Faith was laughing now.

"Did you hear what I just said? Spike pumped you full of testosterone. God, I hope that wasn't what happened," she said with that raspy laugh behind her words.

"It wasn't," Connor said earnestly. Then he felt his face fall as he realized the joke.

"Oh God. It really wasn't," he said, but then felt himself laugh a little.

"I don't think you get what happened. I don't think you get why we did it," Connor sighed as he sat up on the bed.

"I get it all right," she said, "I get that the guy who I gave up all my mojo for and screwed for the better part of a week who was all like 'Oh, I believe in you. You're the most amazing hero in the fucking world,' totally proved otherwise when he blamed Wes for the few heroic decisions I did make. He doesn't believe in me. He should have just let me go down for him like I wanted since he thinks I'm so fucked up—some crazy dumb ass who needs fixing. I was already in a relationship like that and it didn't end well."

"I know Spike—he-- doesn't think you're crazy, and I really don't think the Principal thought you were crazy. I think he just wanted you all to himself. I can't really say I bla---"

"I'm not talking about Robin," she scoffed, "I'm talking about her---Someone I have no right to talk about. Forget it. You know how it is. "

He didn't really. She frowned as she looked over at this Barbie she had in her room that she gave a punk rock makeover to and put in dirty poses with a Ken she did the same with.

"You—you dated a woman? It was in prison, right? And she thought you were crazy? Was it because you told her about vampires and stuff? I knew I could never tel---"

"No," she sighed, "Well, yeah but that's not what I'm…Just forget it my head hurts."

"Look, I may have no idea what you're talking about. But, I'm not some dumb kid, okay. I'll be twenty-one in a few weeks," he said.

"Oh, happy birthday. We should have a party. For real. Not like a formal cotillion, or anything. I wouldn't know how to go about doing that, but---"

"I'm just saying, I don't know why you're so mad at Spike over Wes," Connor said, "A formal cotillion?"

He had to stay focused. He'd love to go off with her and have a party, but it wasn't what she needed. He had to stay good, get this out, because it was the truth. She looked at him like he sprouted a second head.

"I mean, I understand why you're mad because Wes is your friend. But these other things that you have been saying, Spike didn't think you were crazy or fucked up. He didn't think that you were too stupid to make your own decisions. He just didn't agree with your decision. He didn't think a Slayer should be dying for a vampire whether it was him or Angel before him. Both times it was Wes that made that decision possible and this ti---"

"Because I wanted him to! After all I did to Wes, after I hurt him," Faith snapped, "he did what I asked, and Spike had no right to—"

"But he did," Connor said plainly even though he had a lump in his throat, "It was him you were going down for this time, not Angel. He had a right to try to stop it just as much as you had a right to go for it. If you both didn't do that one of you would be dea---"

"Did they have formal cotillions for boys?" Faith asked as she looked at the ceiling.

"What?" Connor must have been more stoned than he realized or maybe less, since he had heard right and she had really mentioned a cotillion.

Faith had gone under her covers and nestled in them in a way that reminded Connor of his dog walking a circle on his bed before he lay down in it. She had her eyes closed, but her forehead was still creased as she spoke, like she was thinking hard.

"Did they have formal cotillions for boys? You know those fancy Victorian parties where people dressed up. Did they have them for boys—like when you turn twenty-one? I always wondered what it would be like to have a fancy party with streamers, or I guess they have stuff that's better than streamers. I'm so white trash, and I keep hanging out with people who aren't and then I wonder why stuff doesn't work out. You should go home for your birthday. You know, to your other family. Have a real party. Cake and ice cream."

"I don't want to go home for my birthday. I'm fighting with my---I'll just call them. A cotillion? That's like a dance they had for girls they wanted to marry off, right? There's a way to get rid of me that Angel never thought of."

"Angel never wanted to get rid of you. It was just what he had to do. He missed you, and you came back. It's like that Sting song, if you love somebody and that shit…"

Her voice trailed off. Connor heard her breathing change and her pulse. It was amazing all the noises he had learned to block out. She looked different when she was asleep. Pensive, but more peaceful. Maybe that was why she liked doing it so much, that and meditating. Faith wanted him to meditate but the idea of clearing his mind was terrifying. What would be in that clearing? He didn't want to be lost in his own thoughts. He didn't think he could be, and---

"Hey, Yo!" Kennedy bellowed, "We got a call."

"Shit!" Connor jumped at her sudden burst into the room.

"Aren't you, like, supposed to be able to hear me from 5 miles away? Isn't that part of your M.O., wonder boy? What kind of training are you doing in here, anyway? Yeah, figures you'd only get the kind of training you want when she's asleep," Kennedy smirked.

"You just wish it was you here instead of me," Connor grinned.

It had taken him a while to figure Kennedy out. He'd never really met a girl like her. Did she just really hate everyone who wasn't Faith or her girlfriend? Then, Connor realized she was exactly like most of the guys he knew in baseball in his one year in college. They were on a team together and the more of a dick they were to you the more they liked you, unless you were some girl they had a thing for.

"Damn straight! I should be the one that gets trained by the Chosen one, we are fellow Slayers, but she has some fucked up idea that I wouldn't like being told what to do, that it would ruin our friendship. Not that I don't already have all the moves to out move her powerless ass," Kennedy huffed.

"Yeah," Connor said, "I bet all your Watchers wanted to kill themselves after just minutes in a room with you."

"Yeah, fuck off," Kennedy muttered and then said firmly to Faith's sleeping still body, "Rise and shine, Watcher bitch. We got a call."

"Don't," Connor snapped more severely than he meant to, "What kind of call?"

"Routine," Kennedy said, "Willy's bar. Some vamps brought some unsuspecting Co-eds in and Willy thinks it's only a matter of time before they feast."

"And the reason we don't tear that place down is…?"

"Where would we get all our info if not for shady Willy?" Kennedy shrugged, "I know how it is, dude. You train all your life and you think it's gonna be a certain way, you'll be Wonder Woman kicking ass and not bothering to take names. Next thing you know a world full of demons are after you and you're depending on a half-vampire as your only real muscle."

"I am not a half-vampire!" Connor said, "And I never fantasized about being Wonder Woman. Maybe doing Wonder Woman but---"

"Who says you can't do both? Too bad you didn't. You have the legs for it. She's gonna kill me if I don't wake her up for this one," Kennedy said looking down at Faith, "For some reason she takes vamps messing with spoiled clueless chicks very personally."

"Lucky for you," Connor said.

"Lucky for me nothing!" Kennedy said, "I may be spoiled, but I was never clueless. I was raised to know what I was and who I could be from the beginning. My father had me holding a cross-bow at four."

Kennedy tromped over Faith's old Indian rug and over some comic books to where the modified wooden-bullet shooting long-range rifle was.

"Good job with this by the way, McGuyver. There's more than one reason to keep you around."

"Sounds lucky to me to have always known. Most of us didn't."

Kennedy stood in front of the poster of Sid Vicious flipping the room off, and looked straight into Connor's face and that made him realize how she normally never did that.

"Don't you have like a literal double life? One where you're the nation's most valued treasure- a white suburban male, and the other where you've always been a lean mean half-vamp fighting machine? That sounds pretty—"

"I'm not a vampire," Connor said quietly but he knew he was glaring at the girl. He knew she didn't mean anything by it, but he was in no mood for it.

He looked away from her before it was an obvious glare that she'd have to say something about.

"C'mon," he sighed and started walking out the door, "Let's just get this over with. Maybe they'll be grateful and we'll get some phone numbers."

"Okay, with the way my relationship is going, it might be good to have some back up numbers. Too bad this town isn't overflowing with red head genius goddesses that want a commitment," Kennedy said and before Connor could stop her she was over Faith shaking her with the rifle down by her side.

"You did it to yourself…" Faith's voice muttered and trailed off as she slept. Connor knew he could only make it out due to his hearing.

"C'mon sleeping moody, we have damsels to save and sweep off their feet," Kennedy said.

"Don't Kennedy," Connor tried to say in a more pleading than demanding tone, "She should sleep. She has a lot on her mind."

"God damned vampire!" Kennedy said as she turned to Connor and picked up the rifle.

Kennedy wasn't slow when it came to knowing about what Faith would have on her mind. She wasn't slow about anything. The rest of these people seemed to be. Connor wasn't sure how much Kennedy's girlfriend or that construction guy with the cool video games wanted to be in the mission. Ever since he came back here with Faith he hadn't really seen them, and he hadn't seen Dawn at all. Word was she saved Fred's life while she was interning at Wolfram & Hart by discovering some file where a guy wanted to use Fred to make yet another evil goddess. He wanted to congratulate her, but he could see why Dawn would avoid him. Connor hadn't exactly been nice to her the last time they talked.

"Do you know where he is?" Kennedy looked at Connor fully again.

There were a lot of people avoiding the mission. Spike was the one Kennedy was asking about. The one Faith had on her mind. Kennedy sneered as she walked away from Faith. She picked up her weapon and aimed it at the wall. Connor was just glad she was listening and not waking Faith. He didn't care if Kennedy bitched about Spike, or started going on about how all men were scum.

"No," Connor shrugged, "How would I know? You think all us beasts have some sort of psychic connection?"

Kennedy snorted as they took off down the paved sidewalks of Sunnydale.

The wind came and whipped around her head and she turned with it to catch it blowing into something solid—a demon, a man, a blond woman that was dying, anything was better than nothing. All she caught was a thick dark lock of her own hair that fell in her face. She hated being outside with the bright sun. Other people would find this big tree and this green green grass a good picnic spot. She didn't—not alone. Nothing was covering her. She was out in the air and it could whip at her like this.

And it did. The wind seemed to be just sitting spinning trying to gather itself, its noise. As it started out to get where it was going it drew out a sound that sounded like a cry, as it sputtered through her body it formed words: "I miss you."

Faith wrapped her arms around herself. She realized she was in a dress. One of those huge old-fashioned dresses that made your ass look big. It was so white it was gleaming in the sun.

Then she was there. Faith saw her from far away. She was in a flowery dress bent over a pond, with her back to Faith, but Faith always knew when it was her. B. She had a very familiar knife in her hand.

"I need help," B said as she looked into the pond.

Faith could see B's wavy reflection looking at her. Her eyes were bluer than usual. She took the knife and stuck it deep into her own chest. Faith only saw the reflection of blood going into the pond and spilling out on her flowery dress. Faith had tried not to flinch when B stabbed herself. She really did. Faith should be used to this crap. B had been dying in her dreams for weeks.

"So, this is the latest version" Faith said dryly, "I get it. You're dead in that other dimension. My condolences. It's not like I can Email you an inter-dimensional grief card."

"You have to let me in. You're shutting me out," B said as she rose from the pond, but still looked towards it.

Even her reflection had that mega-intense pissed off pixie face.

"You were the one that shut me out. You left, and what? Now you're trying to tell me you're dead in that other dimension. What am I supposed to do about it?" Faith yelled and she was going to keep on yelling even though B had turned to face her now.

"I'm not even---hmmm…" Faith had to stop because B had grabbed her by the head just like she had grabbed B once.

But, instead of kissing her forehead B was giving her a real kiss. She no longer had on that stupid flower dress that Faith saw get soaked with blood in the pond's reflection, but she was all in black. Faith didn't even try to fight the kiss, like B had in reality. B was the bad one in the dreams. By now Faith knew this was a dream and none of this mattered or meant anything. So, she took her kiss in the only place left where stuff could surprise her. She shut her eyes and felt how strongly the mouth was cupping hers and how the tongue danced around. In the rawness and strength of it there was a need and tenderness that she knew B would never throw down for her.

"No matter what stupid things I do or say, I still need you. It's because of what you did that everything can be balanced," B whispered as she held Faith's face.

Her eyes were serious huge blue marbles fixed on Faith, but she had a little smile. Her eyes were too blue, her smile too real. Faith had to look away.

"No matter what stupid things I do or say, I still need you too. It's because of what I did everything is NOT balanced. If only I was able to follow your lead and die like I was supposed to, then you'd be able to see. Now you're just gone," Faith said as she burrowed her face in B's black leather now.

"You wanted me to leave, love."

"That's bullshit. You did it to yourself. You messed around with stuff you shouldn't and you had to go. The whole dimension, reality, good and evil, would have collapsed if you stayed. You're not gonna pin your big fuck up on me. I never wanted you to go. I miss you so much it's like a bad teen movie. It just had to be," she said, and maybe dreams weren't even surprising because when she looked up from the chest she was hiding in Spike was there with his stupid puppy eyes.

Those eyes he could never match with the rest of his face. You could cut glass on those cheekbones and that defiant curly mouth with the straightened out bleached hair.

"Now that's black and white, and I don't think that white dress you're wearing is really you," he said.

"You don't know me," she said to him and his eyes that looked like little slits of sky now, "I torture and I kill and I die and I slash and I burn for what's right—I do it, not you, not Wes, not Angel--- me. I do those things, those five things, and you can't know me."

"You do those five things, but what of the other five you do?" he said.

His mouth didn't move when he spoke, but she knew he said it, his eyes had totally changed into these royal-pain-in-the-ass blue marbles that thought they knew everything. And this was another reason why dreams were cool. They didn't need to make sense. He had slid that big beautiful cock right in her and she didn't have to think about how the stupid white dress wasn't off or that he hadn't unzipped anything to un-cage the beast. She just felt it and it didn't feel wrong. She was screwing the guy that she really wanted to be with and that was a rarity. No, it didn't feel wrong as she dug her fingers into the soft wrinkled leather. The only thing that felt wrong was that she wanted to peel the leather off and get under it and she couldn't seem to do it. Maybe it was because he was distracting her by filling her up like a gas pump or because he was pumping away at her like one. Or maybe it was from whispering all the words he was whispering.

Words and words-- always with the words. She was a little too distracted to know exactly what the words were, but they were always good, or about her, about how she was good, or about how he felt she was good, the best. The best words. A Brit talking about his feelings. No a Brit pouring out his feelings as he did something. Did her. He was a talker as well as a doer.

Words, words that he knew her, that he needed her, wanted her, words that said he wouldn't leave—lies. And she hated this, hated dreams, they always fucked her over in the end. Why should they be different than anything else?

"No!" she said and pushed him away.

Maybe into the pond where she first saw B. She didn't know. She turned away—shut her eyes.

"I see the parts you don't, the other side, the reflection. You know I'm not perfect, but you need me. That's why you saved me after all. Gave it all up, that Slayer power, but now we need it again. I need you. You know I would never really leave. Open your eyes," he said.

"What?" she roared and felt it rumble in her throat because when she went to look straight at him he was gone.

"Faith, I think you better get up."

The sky turned grey and black with clouds. They started to funnel and look like an angry, dirty cotton candy machine.

"Faith! Get your ass up. I need you to get up."

The sky was shaking. The clouds were jarring at her. Kennedy was standing over her looking down at her with that severe Latino face.

"Oh, Jesus fucking Christ!" Faith croaked.

"No, it's just me. That's the problem. You're gonna freak out, but don't you dare do it at me. It's not my fault," Kennedy said plainly but she sat down on the bed next to Faith and gently touched her arm.

"Fuck!" Faith groaned, "Did you guys smoke all my stuff again? That kid is smoking way too much. I told him a few hits after a night of patrol and that's it. You gotta help me enforce that. C'mon, it's a chance to boss a guy around, K. You must actually like him or something."

"There were so many of them. It was a set up. I think they scared Willy into it and they had needles. They got me with one," K said.

She held out her arm and showed Faith a small pinprick. Was her voice shaking?

"K, what the---?" Faith shot up in the bed the space between her eyebrows ached as Kennedy interrupted her.

Her voice came back firm and steady.

"But, I'm okay. Whatever they were trying to dope me up with didn't work, but it worked on the kid. They took him, Faith."

How could he let this happen? They fucking got him. Captured him like he was some spoiled little rich kid that they were going to hold for ransom. He'd love to think that was what was going on. It would make sense, but none of this made any sense.

What was this? Where was he? Why would they take him? He thought all the people that wanted him had been taken care of. He used to think he was so great at figuring things out—extrapolating, deductive reasoning, logic. It was S.A.T. bullshit that was about as useful as a paddle in shit's creek with no boat.

Connor needed to go over it again. Who would want him? The last people that had were none other than the United States government. They thought he was a terrorist because of what he had done in LA. But, that had been taken care of. That Xander guy had talked to that FBI guy and they made some kind of deal because, apparently, the FBI guy had sex with that Buffy Slayer too and somehow that got Connor off the hook. It shouldn't have had anything to do with that Buffy girl. That FBI guy said he was "sorry" that those soldiers that were out for Connor had almost raped and killed Faith. He said that they were "extremists that didn't reflect the US military's conduct." The FBI guy should have let it go for the sake of Faith, who was the real Slayer.

It seemed the FBI guy had lied and hadn't let anything go at all. The U.S. government lying? Connor would kick himself if his feet weren't chained together. Why hadn't he thought of that? Maybe it was because there were 1,000 other things to think about.

He had been fighting with his parents for the first time in his life. Well, the people he had thought were his parents, and he still thought they were. But, they didn't understand why he had to go and figure out who he was in some suburb in Southern California that had almost fallen into a sinkhole once.

Despite his parent's objections to dropping out of school, Connor started training with Faith, who could actually teach him a lot in her powerless state. She had moves and she was a sharpshooter. But, she still had only human strength, and he had told her, even though he knew less than her he still felt responsible for her safety. She had thought this was really funny.

i "Welcome to the life of a Slayer. That's the thing, as much as a pain in the ass as your Watcher is; you still have to cover their ass. Some days I think I'm dreamin.' The two biggest baddest vamps on earth become heroes and the fuck-up Slayer becomes a weak Watcher, and her Slayer isn't really a Slayer, but a super-being dude! What's next? Is B going to come back and be the bad Slayer?" /i

Connor didn't know about this Buffy chick coming back, or even if Angel or Spike were heroes. Angel had all of his stories about how he was going all over the world to save it, but Connor hadn't seen Angel do anything big in a while. And Spike, where the hell was he?

i Talk is cheap. I know a lot of guys that talk. Show me what you can do. I wanna see it. /i That's what Faith would say if she was here, but Connor was glad she wasn't. It would be humiliating for him for Faith to see him like this. Chained to a chair by a couple of demons.

Connor knew he was better than this. He could figure this out and get out of here. He was in some place with blood red walls. Not what they called "blood red," that bright cheery color, but real blood red. It was maroon-like with old Victorian carvings on the walls. Other than that the room was sparse. There were some chairs and a table and the big glass stained window that was showing the night. It wasn't likely the U.S. government would take him here. This place had a mystical element to it. It was so old the wood was cracking in places, even the floors. Connor noticed the subtle carvings that were in the corner of the room. They looked like angels except they had little horns on their heads like Lorne. A lot of vampires and some demons had taken him. That was for sure. So, the U.S. government was most likely out. As far as Connor had seen the government hadn't taken up with demons, not literally anyway. If it all wasn't humiliating enough he was being guarded by two vampires—two! If only those other demons hadn't gotten him in chains he'd rip them apart, but not before making them talk. For now, he was the one that couldn't talk what with being gagged.

"God damned floor boards!" one of the vampires that captured him grumbled as another laughed.

He had busted a hole in the floor from just pacing around. Why were most vampires idiots?

"What's up with this shit hole, anyway? Part of its mystical Rhoshobi charm?" the other vamp asked.

"No," the other said, "It's termite season, and it's not like they come here everyday. So, it got infested. Big termite problem here in Sunnydale."

"Oh, I just thought the buildings here were for shit."

"No, this place has some of the finest architecture in the world. It's very underrated. It's just that a lot of buildings get abandoned 'cause people get spooked out of them, and then…termites. They're more common in Southern California. You have to keep on top of it."

"Oh."

Connor should be glad they were idiots, while Mr. Home Depo talked he'd give it all away. Rhoshobi? Those were the demons that had been after Spike and Faith, but now that their whole The-Slayer-and-Souled-Vamp-will-together-do-something-evil-and-destroy- the world Prophecy hadn't come true everyone just assumed they were off feeling stupid. Weren't they supposed to be a basically benevolent demon clan? Why were they working with vampires? It all went to show that maybe Holtz was right, and there were no good demons. Now there was a demon standing there glaring at Connor.

It was unmistakably a demon with glowing red eyes and flesh that looked like it was rotting slightly. Connor couldn't help but wince and look away as he remembered Jasmine. The demon he helped bring about that wanted to own the world. This demon was female too. She had a human womanly shaped body, but a face of pure horror. She was the kind of creature that most people would shriek at if they saw it at the movies. It was because they expected a woman, something that should be nice to look at, and they got this.

The demon before him was all too real. Connor couldn't read the demons inhuman glowing eyes, but when she spoke in her booming voice she sounded pissed.

"The Shadow demon rises. The derivation ensued, the joining was completed, the sea boiled with soul fire and demon essence," the semi-rotting scabby faced beast said as she loomed over Connor while he was chained in his chair.

The demon had a book in her hand as her voice seemed to echo in his head. The book looked archaic and had figures etched into the binding. One looked like a dog, the other a goat, one wasn't really a figure. It looked like—like a human heart. This couldn't be good. He knew he had to keep observant to tell Faith everything he saw.

"I—I don't believe you! I just do not believe you," a disappointed woman's voice huffed and it seemed to be coming from the demon.

"I mean it's all written right here in black and white, Sahj. Why? Why do I think you're going to change? It was all about you 1,000 years ago in Athens, and it's all about you now." the agitated voice was coming from the demon.

She closed the book and threw it down on the table with an annoyed thud.

"Whoa," a gruff male voice said, "She didn't mention Athens for three whole days. That's gotta be a record. There was nothing I could do to help you, Mina. You crumbled your own empire. And then there's the little fact that it was more like 2,000 years ago. Let it go."

It was coming from behind the door where Connor couldn't see. He could smell the presence wasn't human.

"Let it go. Let it go, he says," the demon woman said, her sagging flesh shaking with her head as she walked over to where the voice was, "You're the one that is convinced it all comes back to you and your nothing blurb of a prophecy with this little twerp when an entire faith of a demon race thinks otherwise."

He noticed that the demon woman was wearing a tan banana republic dress that his mother had. Connor felt like an idiot for being thrown off by her and he would demand to know everything if he wasn't gagged. He remembered how he used to face completely inhuman things and kill them without batting an eye. Why couldn't he live those memories now?

"An entire demon race my ass. You Rhoshobis can't even agree on whether to put in the toilet paper roll facing up or down. I can name three different ways that the great prophecy is interpreted each more stupid than the next," the male demon said as he stepped into the room.

His face was different than hers, not as bad, but not pretty. The flesh was grey with sores that looked like they were carved into it. He had hair that was very mullet like on his head. Despite that, Connor could tell he was intelligent and of course human like.

"Well, all the Rhoshobis that matter think that it has something to do with that vampire, and that Slayer that got more of her share of demon in her, you have to admit that is something that sounds like it's going to cause trouble. Not that every Slayer doesn't. They're all a bunch of half-breed freaks that upset fate. I was personally rooting for Evil to take out the line," the demon woman sighed as she looked up at the tall male.

"Fate? Don't tell me you are still that old-fashioned little demon that I met in that old order dimension? God, that place was dull. Good health care system though, nice shiny neighborhoods. Haven't I proved to you there's so much more than that? That you make your own fate?" the male sighed and seemed to give her a patronizing pat on her ash blonde head.

"That's what the Rhoshobis have been doing since the beginning. We influence it all without touching any of it. Of course, there are those militant separatists that tried to have the Slayer and vampire killed, and look how well that worked out. Now that the government has the vampire maybe those extremists will finally see that the old ways of staying behind the scenes is better," the demon woman said.

Connor really really wanted to kill her as he heard all the things she had to say. She seemed more human and yet more evil and dangerous than any vampire he had taken on. Connor felt his insides shake with more than rage as he realized there was something about her than reminded him of Jasmine, besides the face.

"I'm not talking about what your idiot Rhoshobis do. This isn't your Daddy's fate making. I'm talking about really grabbing it by the balls," the male demon said as he chucked the woman's chin as if she were his harmless movie date.

Connor found he didn't want to kill the male demon as much as he should. He wanted to hurt him, make him pay, but maybe he wanted the guy to talk more about this taking fate by the balls stuff. That was something Spike would say. Connor knew the demon had to be wrong or lying about the government having Spike. It seemed that taking fate by the balls was something Connor should do right now. But how?

"Yes, yes, you talked me into viewing this great turn around you'd be doing, so what is it? What kind of magic? I want to see." The demon woman asked the man excitedly.

"You always were such a bad girl, Mina," the male demon smiled and went to kiss the female.

Connor would be grossed out by that, but he was too worried about the word he heard her use-- "magic."

"My order may prevent me from directly intervening with humans and the like when they're seemingly of no threat to us, but, it doesn't say anything about not being able to watch. Are you altering his body? Stripping his powers away? Magic is just so low and dirty. The worst of the worst," she cooed and seemed to shudder with excitement as she caught the demon's face before he kissed her.

"Not just bad, but kinky," the male said in a way that really did gross Connor out.

"Hey," the male demon said with his lips inches from the woman's, "Speaking of kinky, do the face."

"Oh, Sahj!" the woman snipped and turned away.

"Oh, c'mon do it!" he grumbled good naturedly, "and I'll do mine. We'll turn the kid and then get some pizza."

Then, Connor saw the demon turn from the grey diseased flesh that he had to that of healthy human skin.

The demon woman gasped. "Pizza?"

"Okay, authentic Italian," he said, "Now do up your face the way I like."

The demon woman closed her eyes and seemed to exert some energy and then she appeared to have a young middle-aged human face. She was pretty with Bambi-like brown eyes and the soft ash blonde hair falling around her shoulders. No, she looked pretty, like Jasmine had. But, Connor knew her real face.

"Ah, yes, that's what I like," the guy crooned and kissed her, "You look like that actress, you know that one? She did that show with that guy in a bar, and then she was in that movie where she died."

"I don't watch TV or movies in this dimension. It's so stupid here. So, what kind of spell are you going to do? Are you going to liquefy his organs? I hope not, because that's dangerous. He could end up living through that with his physical powers and kill you anyway. Is it a reality-altering spell? That's what I'd do if I could. I know they never seem to last, but, I love those," she said and smiled.

"Women," the guy smiled and looked Connor straight in the eye, "They always want you to do something huge. She's gonna be so disappointed when she sees I really have nothing to do with it. I'll just get the party started right. Then again, that's what her little clan has been doing for ages. What they don't get is the subtlety of it, how you make people do it to themselves."

"What are you talking about? We don't know about subtlety? We've been under the radar since before there was anyone to invent radar," The woman said.

"Okay, so no disappointment when I just give the kid his vitamins, so he can grow up big and strong."

The now human-looking guy ripped the gag off Connor. He looked like a lanky guy in young middle age that you still wouldn't want to meet in an alley if you were an average guy. Connor was no average guy though. He wasn't afraid of this asshole or whatever magic he had planned.

"You think looking human and some kind of magic memory spell is going to stop me from remembering everything you and this bitch said in front of me? You think other people haven't tried it? No matter what you do to me—I'll still get to you," Connor said.

He felt hate bubbling in him now, he didn't care about what this demon's philosophy was on fate.

"That's what they say," the man said calmly, "So, I thought on it. Had some time on my hands due to the fact that I couldn't travel through it anymore, thanks to your dad, F.Y.I.. And I thought, 'Hmmm, where is this kid weak? How would he destroy himself before he could even get to me? How could I make the prophecy about his father killing him true?'"

"You're Sahjhan!" Connor realized allowed.

"A reality-altering spell, right? Now that you are corporeal on this plane you could do it!" the woman said excitedly.

"Shut-up, honey, and let us talk okay?" Sahjhan said to the woman who still had two visible tiny horns sticking out of her head.

"Yeah, I'm Sahjhan. You know about me?" Sahjhan asked with a surprised chuckle, "You're dad seems more like the let's-not-talk-about-it-type with that mind wipe he did on you and all. Some parents'll do anything to get out of that uncomfortable talk."

"I learned all I needed to know about you from the best books around. They all say I'm gonna kill you," Connor said.

"Sahj, I'm hungry. Just do the spell, already," the woman said.

"Anything you do to me with magic will just come back to you," Connor sneered, "Haven't you learned your lesson with what you did with Holtz? He made me the demon-hating fighter that wants to kill you. You may think I'm not that guy anymore, but underneath it all I am."

"Oh, I'm banking that you are who you are underneath it all. You have a pretty human mask. Maybe not as pretty as Mina's, but no one can have it all," Sahjhan said as he walked up to Connor.

Connor smelled something human on him as well as demon now that he had that human disguise. He knew it was a lie. There was nothing human about Sahjhan. He felt his eyes well up with hatred. That was it. That was what everything was really all about. Connor trying to find himself and leaving the family that loved him behind. It didn't matter if they loved him or not or even if Angel had. Connor was the destroyer, a killing machine that spent eighteen years in hell with a man who only knew how to love through hate, and nothing could change that. So, he had to face up to it, and do what he did best. What he was born to do.

"This is something that you're gonna do all on your own. Still, I wish I could take some credit. Maybe you'll give me some after you turn, huh? I mean, vampires and demons have no beef with each other," Sahjhan said.

The two beefy vampires walked in as if on cue. They probably were on cue.

"See, we work together. It's all a big happy family. Not like yours. It doesn't seem like you and dad ever got along and now that your punk big brother is gone, rumor has it that you are getting awfully close with his girl. Now you'll finally be able to have it the way you really want it. You can't say that if you had the perfect life you'd be so interested in killing me," he said.

"Oh, I get it!" the demon woman smiled, "You're going to turn him into a vampire, so then he won't have a soul and then he won't care about killing you! I don't know, Sahj that's kind of risky. He's an angry little boy. He may just kill everything in sight."

"You're such an idiot; I wouldn't bother with you either way. I would just make you apologize to Faith for what you said. She's not a half-breed freak, she's a goddess," Connor said to her.

"That's what I'm afraid of," the demon woman said, "Faith, the Slayer, see Sahj, it all goes back to the Slayer. And he just called me an idiot, are you going to just let this all stand?"

"No," Sahjhan said, "I'm gonna let it all fall in on itself."

Suddenly, Sahjhan grabbed a hold of Connor's face, more gently then he would have expected. The vampires just stood there on guard, but did nothing else. Sahjhan pinched Connor's nose shut and tilted his head back.

"Good for what ails ya," he said and held a flask to Connor's mouth and he felt his mouth become drawn to the flask.

He thought for sure he was being poisoned, or more likely Sahjhan was giving him some kind of spell that would make him into a demon or something. The stuff was salty, but sweet and soft tasting. It was like the first time he ever ate filet mignon in that steakhouse with just him and his dad when he was eight but, it was also like the first time he ate something else with just him and Tracy when he was seventeen. None of those things really happened though and he knew it. This was real and better just because he knew it was real, only it was worse because he couldn't be with anyone worse. He missed his dad who wasn't his dad and he missed Tracy who maybe really was never his girlfriend. He couldn't have them, not really. Maybe it was better to have this. Whatever this was, some potion, some magic that was going to bring something that would turn into reality.

"I knew it! I knew it!" Sahjhan laughed like he was relieved taking the little flask away.

"Sahj, you're a genius!" the demon woman said.

Connor felt good, peaceful and powerful. He felt in control now. He knew what he wanted. More of what Sahjhan had given him. He jerked in the chains to get to the flask.

"How do you feel, kid?" Sahjhan asked.

He gave Connor the remaining potion in the flask.

"Feels good, doesn't it? Feels right?" he asked.

"Whatever that stuff is it's not working. It's just making me stronger," Connor said with a smile.

He was able to break his arms out of the first set of chains, but he was still chained to the chair and his hands were still chained together. Sahjhan did know who he was dealing with after all.

"Sure, but do you really want to kill me, or do you have some other things you want to attend to? Like taking care of the Slayer. Giving her what she tried to get with the rest of the family. Do you think you can do it?"

"I can do anything," Connor said and he meant it.

He felt a power moving through his body that he didn't know existed. All the things that were bothering him before, whatever they were, he could fix them, make them right, or they weren't worth his time. Then his mind snapped back to what Sahjhan said.

"Are you offering me Faith in exchange for not killing you? You're trying to make a deal with me like you did with Holtz?" Connor laughed, "Like I need you. Like I couldn't do it by myself."

"Yeah, because that's what all you hero vampires really want in the end. Slayer trim or Slayer blood, potato, poe-tot-o. You can let that other punk rot with the government, and while daddy is off saving the world you'll move in. Finish what he started, fuck the Slayer, kill her, turn her into one of you. That was a brilliant idea. I gotta say your dad is impressive when he kicks back and gets Slayer juice in him. Now we can see what you can do," Sahjhan said.

"You're saying Spike has got that chip back in his head and I'm the one that should be with Faith and then we could do anything. Sounds good. Sounds real good, but why shouldn't I kill you again?"

"Because I'm the one that gave you the Slayer's blood, showed you what you really wanted, who you really are. Not that I'm expecting you to be all honorable about it. I just think you'll be too distracted with all the murdering of innocents and human blood to care about me."

"What?"

"You're a vampire, meat head. That surge of clarity you feel, that goes from your head, to your hard-on, to your trendy alternative sneakers, that's the Slayer's blood I gave you,"

"What? You have Faith? Where is she? If you even touch her---"

"Relax. I don't have her. I didn't want the whole cracker parade coming after me. So, I just took her blood to give you a little sample. I figured the rest would take care of itself and you'd be the one to do the touching, the killing, whatever,"

"You—you think I'd kill Faith. Well, you're wrong. I lo—I would die for her."

"Yeah, that's what they all say and yet, look at yourself, kid. Well, I guess you can't. You won't have a reflection. There's an interesting paradox, huh? So, let me just tell you, you've got the cutest little Baby face."

Connor went to touch his face to see if it had changed, but he couldn't bring himself to do it.

"No! No! It's not true. That was magic you gave me—a potion. I'm not—"

"Oh, spare yourself the Luke Skywalker routine and just go with it. I've been around a long time, a lot of times, whatever, and I know blood lust when I see it, and I know you can't be that much of a moron. You feel it. You like it. You want more of it."

"I'm so going to kill you!"

"Or, you could just do want you really want, anything. Take the Slayer; turn her against Dad and the other one. Turn her into a vampire; drain her of all the blood. That was just a vail. Imagine all of it. Imagine taking over this world or whatever it is you want. Forget about little old me."

"I---I don't get you. I don't get you at all. Why wouldn't you just kill me? Why don't you? Why don't you just do it now?"

"Was that an invitation?"

"Divine intervention is more rewarding than common intervention. Do you think we're really on your level? You and your clan, a bunch of sniveling half-breeds. You don't affect us—you infect us, like this beautiful house and those disgusting termites. You're all beneath us," the demon woman spoke up with bitterness suddenly.

"Ain't she great?" Sahjhan smiled, "She puts such a good spin on all the drivel in her faith. Makes me wanna be a believer. But, really I just want to watch you suffer, kid."

"You don't fool me, Sahj," the demon woman smiled, "Not for one second. You are a believer. You're afraid to kill him. You think that will only make him come back stronger. You believe in your prophecy as much as I believe in mine."

"You want me to be a sensitive guy, or something, Mina? Maybe I just want to see the kid suffer after all the centuries of shit he caused me with the prophecy. The least he can do is give me a few months of fun, or a few weeks. Maybe it'll just be a day until he gives over to his real urges and loses the soul."

"Maybe it'll be when he turns 18 or 21 or 25…whatever humans see as a milestone year, that's when a lot of half-breeds have their demon surface. God, I probably have hang-nails older than him," the woman said.

"Hey yeah, aren't you celebrating a birthday soon, kid?" Sahjhan said coyly.

"Fuck you. You and everyone one in here are dead," Connor's voice shook

"No, I'll think we'll all be leaving here alive. Well, except for the boys I hired who are already undead, but maybe you and them---"as Sahjhan spoke one of the vampires that was standing out in the hall turned to dust with a pop.

The other advanced towards the popping noise and then was also dust.

"That's not good," Sahjhan announced, "What the hell could get them from so far away?"

"Angel, he found me," Connor said dully, "He'll be the one to kill you."

Connor wished he could be happier about being the rescued rich son of a vampire. But, now, not only was Angel going to see that Connor couldn't take care of himself, he was also going to see that Connor didn't know who that self was. Nothing could be worse.

"Faith!" Connor exclaimed. He was wrong. This was much worse.

She was standing there with the rifle he redesigned as she quickly reloaded it.

"Get out of here! I don't want you to see me this way," he said.

Then he was thinking maybe she took one look at his vampire face and decided to shoot him. She had another gun in her pocket and a sword on her back, and probably more. He wondered if all of that was heavy for her to carry.

"What? Tied up?" she said with a smirk as she caught her breath, "Like I've never seen a guy like that before. Put your hands up."

Connor obeyed and Faith aimed the gun. An instant after he heard the shot he felt the chains loosen. She wasn't trying to shoot him. She was setting him free with his face and all, but when he touched his face he realized nothing demonic was there. It was his face. Maybe it always had been.

"Did that do enough damage for you to pull them apart?" Faith asked.

She had shot the chains and one of the links was weakened.

"I-I think so," he said.

"Don't think, just pull," she said.

A bunch of vampires came crashing into the room all with their demon faces. Connor pulled the chains apart, but he was still bound to the chair.

"Faith, get out of here! You can't shoot them all. Just listen to me," he pleaded.

"Not the way it works," she said and shot one of the vampires and they turned to dust.

That confused them enough to all pause for a minute. Faith started shooting at the floor. She went around Connor's chair shooting. Was she trying to give the vampires warning shots? That wasn't going to work.

"You listen to me," she said as she stood between Connor and the bullet holes she made "Hold me and break my fall."

And before Connor could ask what she was talking about she jumped in his lap and the floor gave way. He felt the chair hit the ground and break and Faith was on top of him grinning.

"I was afraid I wasn't packing enough weight to do that, but luckily the floor was really weak," she said.

"Termite problem," Connor said as he grabbed a plank of wood from the broken chair and got up from the chains that were now slack around him.

He threw the wood behind Faith and staked a vampire that was jumping down after them.

"Apparently, they're infested," Connor said as he pulled Faith behind him.

"Too bad, nice house," she said.

She handed him the sword and the gun with a grin.

"Sahjhan, it's her! The Slayer! The one who creates the joining! Kill her, Sahjhan. Kill her," the demon woman yelled as she ran down the stairs.

"Don't mind her. She thinks she's above direct intervention, but then wants me to do her dirty work, you know how it is. That was really cool," Sahjhan said as he came down the stairs, "The best lap dance I've ever seen."

"So, you're the kidnapper?" Faith said.

"Don't talk to her, Sahj. Just kill her. You can be the one to stop it for sure. Dad will finally like you," the demon woman said as she had that deceptive pleasant face on.

"Mina, please," Sahjhan said and then he turned to Faith, "So you're the Slayer? Thought you were blonde."

He seemed to like her, to be impressed, who wasn't?

"That's the nice one. She had to skip dimensions," Faith said.

"Sahj, please at least try to kill her!"

Sahjhan ignored his girlfriend and kept talking to Faith.

"I used to do that all the time myself. Until this kid's father had to make me get stuck in this one and put me in an urn for a few years. I'm a little bitter about that."

"Not as bitter as you'll be when I kill you," Connor said.

Sahjhan seem to have a thing for human women that Connor would enjoy beating out of him.

"Not very snappy with the come backs, is he?" Sahjhan said to Faith.

"He can be. Better than Shelly Long over there. What's her deal?" Faith asked.

"Shelly Long!" Sahjhan smiled, "That's who it is she looks like. You're quick. Sorry about the whole taking your blood thing,"

"Taking my blood? You didn't---You were trying to take my blood and you took Kennedy's. Why?" Faith's face went from displeased to full on pissed.

"Boy, is my face red. First I don't even know you're a brunette and then I find that the boys took blood from the wrong chick. That's what I get for hiring vampires. I guess they're good for nothing. Except maybe killing Slayers. Imagine what would've happened if I had gotten the Slayer's blood. Never would've know that wasn't Slayer blood with the way---"

"Shut-up!" Connor was the one who was pissed now.

He grabbed the sword from Faith's back and went to behead him and Sahjhan ducked. Connor would have went after him further, but he didn't want to leave Faith unguarded.

"And they say you're supposed to kill me with reflexes like that. Maybe we should let her try. She seems better, even though we all know she gave up her powers for the prisoner of war vampire," Sahjhan said.

"Prisoner of war vampire? What the hell are you talking about? Did you kidnap Spike too?" Faith demanded.

"Stupid girl. That would be a direct intervention on my part if I plotted with Sahjhan to take the uncleansed one. But, if Sahjhan killed you now I'd have nothing to do with it, of course. Why aren't you trying to kill the Slayer, Sahj? This could end all the doom for us," the demon woman pleaded.

"What?" Faith spat, she hated being confused about things that really mattered.

"But, not him. It would only bring doom to him," Connor explained, feeling calmer somehow as he looked at Faith, "She's a Rhoshobi Faith. She wants you and Spike dead, but she can't intervene herself, because she believes that will bring about the events of their prophecy about you. But, she thinks she can have someone outside of the prophecy kill you. She wants Sahjhan to do it now, but he knows if he tried to hurt you I'd come after him, and with all the weapons here my prophecy would probably come true. So much for thinking you can take fate by the balls."

"Okay, I'll admit it. He's not stupid," Sahjhan said.

"So, you're the demon he's gonna kill? Why are you with this bitch who still believes I have anything to do with her stupid demon clan when that prophecy is obviously a dud?" Faith said.

The look of frustration had lifted from her face due to the fact that Connor had explained the heart of the matter to her, and he knew that was why he himself felt much better.

"Why did you take my boy here and not kill him? What else do you need from him? You have Spike too, don't you?"

"But you're really quick aren't you," Sahjhan smiled.

"Shut your fucking mouth, Sahjhan!" Connor warned.

He'd find a way to kill the guy with all of Faith's weapons if he breathed a word of Connor turning into a vampire, if that was even what happened.

"What? You don't want her to know her other boyfriend never really left her? She seems to have a thing for vampires---"

"Yeah Sahj, Shut-up," the demon woman said before Connor could make himself speak, "I know you are not flirting with my anti-Christ!"

"Your anti-Christ? God, my mother was right about me. Hey wait, no, you and all your kind are idiots. Can't you accept that whole thing with that prophecy is over with? Me an' Spike aren't gonna end the world or whatever," Faith said as she glared at the woman.

"Apparently, she's not that quick," the demon woman smiled at Faith a very patronizing Shelly Long smile, "Yeah, some people say it's over, especially since that vampire was taken out of the picture, but you know how prophecies are. There could be another that could fill his shoes especially after what I've seen of this one tonight."

When the demon woman said that Faith seemed to look into Connor's eyes with such misery, and then the demon just went on:

"He's Sahj's fixation, but I think if Sahj kills you everything is over. But, Sahj, he always has to do everything the hard way. He won't kill you or this one because he's afraid it'll bring about his own death prophecy. It's so like him to only care about himself," she huffed angrily at Sahjhan, "Screw the rest of the world. You just want to have fun messing with the vampire boy because everyone teased you about your stupid little prophecy all these years. Your prophecy probably isn't even true. And you got me all excited about tonight saying that we were going to watch a real demon come out and kill the man, and what do we get…This--- a weak Slayer with you too scared to kill her! I freed you from that urn! I came here to this po-dunk Hellmouth to mess with this little boy. We did so many of your things, Sahjhan. When are we going to do one of my things?"

"Yap, yap, yap…'When are we going to do one of my things. My prophecy is more important than your prophecy.' How quickly you forget who talked to the Black Thorne and got the ball rolling with the vampire. You think for a clan that is all about divine intervention you'd have a better understanding of cause and affect."

"Oh big deal! You know someone, who knows someone, who knows some silly little Warlock who knows some silly little scientist in the United States Government. The United States Government, Sahjhan. That's how I'm going to tell everyone at home I intervened?" she shrieked, "And if that wasn't humiliating enough, I'll get to say I stopped the vampire—the unclean vampire. The vampire is nothing! Nothing! You tried to stop your whole thing by messing with your vampire, that had no direct effect in your prophecy, and look how that worked out! Next thing you know I'll be dating a low-life Warlock. The Slayer is the key, the vessel for the unspeakable thing, and she's standing here all skanky weak and literally dumb and you won't even---"

Connor was a little confused. He got most of it. This clan of demons wasn't into directly affecting anything, but they had no problem making dirty deals so others could do it. Sahjhan had done something. He had talked to some people to get Spike out of the picture due to this prophecy, but the demon woman didn't think that was enough. The demon woman thought it all revolved around Faith, and she wanted Faith hurt. What Connor didn't really get was what made her so suddenly stop talking and what that angry holler was. Then, he realized it was Faith. He should have realized it sooner but maybe his eyes saw it right away but his head didn't get it.

Faith had the demon woman's head and she was banging it into the banister again and again. Connor smiled, and it might have been his imagination but it seemed Sahjhan did for a second too. Then, he went to advance toward Faith.

"Go ahead and try. I have this and a gun, and I bet even if bullets don't kill you they won't feel good," Connor smiled as he held the sword to Sahjhan's face, then he frowned and whispered, "and I'm still jacked up on that blood you gave me."

Maybe it was true and maybe it wasn't. Maybe it had all been some magic mind fuck and Connor didn't really have any of that in him, but he thought it couldn't hurt to say. Sahjhan looked like he believed it. Connor was hoping he wouldn't, but what was important was Faith wouldn't be hurt.

"You tight ass little cunt rag!" Faith screamed as she was still banging the demon woman's head. Connor saw blood on the banister. He smelled it. It looked human, but it wasn't.

"You want skanky? Well, here's skanky. Weak, you want weak! When I'm done with you you'll aspire to weak! You want dumb? I'll show you dumb. I'll cut out your tongue, if you don't talk now and tell me everything," Faith had taken a knife out of her pocket.

Connor smiled. She was like Rambo. A hot, stacked Rambo, but he shouldn't be thinking of her like that. She was so much more than that, more than him, and he knew it. He usually didn't think that way. Words like "hot" and "stacked" weren't allowed to be formed in his head about her. Why was he doing it now? The blood. No, it wasn't even her blood. It probably was all a lie and no one's blood.

"All right!" the demon woman whimpered.

"Why does the government have Spike? What are they doing to him? They are putting that chip back in his head, aren't they? AREN'T THEY?" Faith spat as her lips curled to show her teeth in an almost primal way.

"I don't know, like I talk to those people. It would be like you talking to an ant…aaaaaaaa!" the demon whimpered looking like a small helpless woman as Faith seemed to be twisting her head around.

"You're gonna be talking to ants and worms, if you don't give it up, at least the parts of you that they have left to bury in the ground," Faith said lowly now, but fiercely.

Connor felt a warm shock go through his body. It was like a thread pulling him towards her. She looked so calm now, but he knew there was something under there. A slayer, a goddess, something more than human, a demon, and he wanted to be closer to it.

"Ok, we're here to…" he heard a male voice that snapped him out of whatever it was he was thinking.

Angel. Connor barely turned to be sure he didn't give up his guard on Sahjhan

"---help?" the voice ended way too meekly to ever be Angel and Connor knew it was that Xander guy with his friends.

The broad shouldered guy just stood there with his mouth a gape and his eyes wide at the sight of Faith continuing to rough up the demon. . He really didn't see the point of him showing up. Faith had thrown the demon woman to the ground now

"Connor," a soft girl voice said with concern.

It was Kennedy. Connor smiled. He was glad that she had shown. She had been with him when all the vampires attacked, and she had fought so hard. He knew that they hadn't killed her. He really didn't know why they hadn't. Connor suddenly felt pulled towards Kennedy that immediately reminded him of the way he had been pulled towards Faith. Except Kennedy was so close to him. She was almost touching him. For the first time Connor could sense how warm-blooded she was. What was wrong with him?

"Please tell me these people are vampires," Willow said and she bit her lip.

Connor scowled. Wasn't she supposed to be super-intelligent? Hadn't she been doing this work for a while?

"Demons. Don't let the faces fool you," Connor muttered.

He found it was easy to fall back into old taciturn Connor with these people. Connor could feel the heat of Kennedy brushing past him as she went to go to Faith. He took one of his arms off the sword and firmly grabbed her arm while she was in reach. He wasn't really sure why he did it. It wasn't as if she went over there she'd be in any danger. Faith was wiping the floor with that demons ass.

"Faith seems to have gotten her strength back, or she takes it really personally when you get kidnapped," Xander said, "Do you do that a lot? Because I thought those of you with super powers were immune to the whole kidnap thing."

Connor knew the guy was talking to him, but he was only into the heat of Kennedy's arm. She had turned to look at him, and she wasn't sneering. She seemed to be giving him a confused but almost pleasant look. Connor released her arm when their eyes met. He was far more confused than she was. He noticed she stayed in place, right next to him, she hadn't advanced toward Faith.

"That's not true at all; remember my whole skin-thing. Are you okay, sweetie? You look upset. No one ate your skin did they?" Willow asked him.

"He always looks like that, I think. Well, he has the times I've seen him," Xander said.

"Great. It's the cracker parade. Just what I didn't want. You must be the all powerful witch," Sahjhan said.

Connor felt panicked. He was supposed to be guarding Sahjhan and he still held the sword to him, but he had been distracted.

"And you must be the guy that took my girlfriend's blood," Willow said angrily.

Her girlfriend's blood? Connor actually let the tiny woman get between him and Sahjhan and she seemed to be walking the demon back.

"Oh, well, um, that was an accident. We thought she was the Slayer and—"Sahjhan said nervously.

Connor realized the demon was scared of Willow. He also realized what had happened. He had been given Kennedy's blood. He had drunk Kennedy's blood.

"Will, remember, don't go nuts. Remember, Kennedy is here to balance you out with the magical rage," Xander said to Willow.

Apparently, Willow had some magic problem, like binge drinking, and Kennedy stopped her from going on a bender. Magic. That was it! It had been Magic. They had used Kennedy's blood for a spell on Connor and it hadn't worked. It hadn't. He obviously wasn't a vampire, so it hadn't worked.

"Kick his ass, honey!" Kennedy said.

"Kennedy!" Xander exclaimed.

"What?" Kennedy said, "The Bastard took my blood—God knows what he's doing with it!"

"It's okay, Kennedy. They were trying to do some spell with it, but it didn't work," Connor sighed.

"Willow, you gotta stay in control. No one here is as powerful as you and---" Xander winced as he heard the sound of Faith's fist on the demon woman and the demon woman yelped, "We don't want anyone to get hurt…What's with her?"

Xander had turned to Connor as if he'd have the answer. Connor did, but he didn't like the snippy way the guy demanded it. These were demons.

"She really has a whole mother hen thing with you, huh?" Kennedy smirked in a crooked sexy way, "Did she just find a weak demon to pick on and she's finally gonna take her aggressions out?"

"Spike never left us. The government kidnapped him and that demon knows where he is," Connor muttered.

He really had a great desire to say as little as possible. He closed his eyes and dreaded all their questioning. He knew he'd have to try to hold back his urge to tell them to all shut-up.

"Oh," they all said in unison and then said nothing more.

Connor was surprised and greatly relieved.

"I told you. The Watcher's Council has him along with some military people. We have nothing to do with it--- nothing," the demon woman said to Faith.

"I don't care about any of that. Wait? The Council? Never mind, just tell me where! Where?" Faith demanded holding the demon by her now ripped banana republic dress.

"You're time is running out, Slayer," the demon surprised Connor with a sudden calm laugh, "I'll die before I tell you and I'll be a martyr."

"Not gonna happen," Sahjhan said and he turned Faith around and hit her in the face.

"Looks like today is the day you die after all," Connor said as he was upon Sahjhan in an instant.

Connor could kill him now as he had the clear advantage, but he almost didn't care. He felt so stupid for letting Sahjhan out of his sight. He just assumed the demon didn't care about his girlfriend or hurting Faith. He was wrong.

"He can live if he tells me where Spike is," Faith said weakly from the floor as Kennedy was down by her side.

One punch from someone like Sahjhan could kill Faith now. Connor was so stupid.

"You're all so stupid," Sahjhan said as he lifted his bloody demon woman to her feet, "I don't know why I waste my time worrying. Try the Science Lab right here at Sunnydale U. There's an underground tunnel somewhere."

"Sahjhan, no! The fate of the world!" the demon woman cried.

"What? Like I would let us die for this stupidity? Besides, I thought you said the vampire didn't matter," Sahjhan said as he walked out the door with the beaten Shelly Long demon.

"It's the end of our world here! And the uncleansed one is the most likely beast to end it with her," that was the last thing Connor heard her say.

"Did she just say that the end of the world was coming?" Willow asked and then gasped suddenly, "Eeow! I know a girl that just started working there her name's Shelly and she's super nice. She'd let me in to the lab and we could find the tunnel."

Connor was looking at Faith's face and she looked okay. He knew it would upset her if he tried to examine it up close.

"Okay, am I the only one that's what-the-helling?" Xander demanded as they walked to his car.

"I know, I know," Willow said "I work at Sunnydale U, but I swear I haven't seen anything the least suspicious there since The Initiative days, as long as I keep the Wicca group in line."

"Not that," he said.

Great! More explaining. Connor looked to Faith and saw that she looked exhausted and very far away.

"That guy kidnapped me because there's a prophecy I'm going to kill him, and his girlfriend is a Rhoshobi. The same demons that attacked us last year. Apparently, some of them still believe in that prophecy that Faith is going to end the world with Spike or something, but she thinks if she directly intervenes, it'll cause it. The government has Spike due to---"

"No, I get all that. I'm talking about Faith. Aren't you supposed to be taking it easy and using long-range weapons? How did you know that demon had no super powers?" Xander asked as he peered into the back seat where Faith sat next to Connor.

"I didn't," Faith seemed to answer dully but then she smirked, "She was just sitting there saying all of those things about Connor and me…and Spike, and she really pissed me off. She took Connor and she has Spike."

She was frowning again, looking off into nothing. Then, Faith saw Connor's eyes on her and she immediately smiled.

"A souvenir," she whispered and seemed to put her face an inch from his. Then she slipped something into his hand. Something hard and as cold as stone.

Connor looked at the demon horn and could tell the blood on it, still wet, wasn't human.

"I used to do that…a long time ago," Connor smiled.

"I know," she said, "You aren't old enough for a long time ago."

She put a hand on his face. It was warm. She had known about his souvenirs? She had bothered to find out? He had to tell her everything. Even the parts he didn't understand. Maybe she'd understand, and not turn him away, or be afraid. He was afraid, and at the same time he wasn't, and that made him more afraid.

"Yeah, I am," he told her.

"I guess—" she began

"What is that?" Kennedy said.

She had crawled into the back seat with them now. She had been in the front seat with Willow, but she just bounded to the back like a hyper kid. They were both always moving around like that—her and Faith. Connor found that Faith seemed very still now. He also found he wanted to grab Kennedy and hold her still, make her still. Hold her to him and see how long it took her to stop moving. Connor moved away from both the girls as far as the back seat would allow after Kennedy grabbed the demon horn from him.

"It's a horn from that bitch. I ripped it out of her fucking head," Faith said and gave a small smile.

"Oh my god!" Kennedy said, "That is so cool, Faith."

"But, she isn't really the one that took Spike, Faith. I think she thinks the world is gonna end due to you guys. She thinks you're evil…not that you are evil. She may just be, ya know, confused," Willow said.

"Red!" Kennedy laughed in surprise, "They took my blood. They were trying to do something to Connor."

"Well," Willow said sheepishly, "They didn't kill anyone, and that tall guy thinks that Connor's destined to kill him. It's just like when Spike thought he was destined to burn his soul into Faith and—"

"No, it's not like that!" Faith said fiercely, "It's not like that at all. Those demons were trying to hurt Connor, and I know just what they signed Spike up for. They're below animals no matter how smart they sound or how harmless they look. I should have taken her whole head to prove a point. I'm going to get Spike and I won't let anyone near Connor. I will take anyone's head that is involved in this if they get in my way."

"One problem there, Vladimir," Xander said, "The government is involved in this."

"So?" Faith said, "You've taken them on before, right? Of course back then, you had B. We should get Angel."

"We can do it without—" Connor began.

"We didn't take on…" Willow began, "Oh yeah, I guess we did, but---"

"Yeah, these guys," Faith said and Connor could tell she was thinking hard, "The Initiative, the government, I know a little something about these guys too. Just like I know a little something about these Rhoshobi demons. I'm through trying to reason with them. My eyes are wide open now. They fucked with my people. They brought this fight to me, and they're gonna get it right back at them."

"Um, okay, I think I know why that demon lady is afraid of you. I know why I'm afraid of you. Powerless, shmowerless, you're like that Bourne Identity guy, only with better boobs," Xander said like it was all funny.

"They need to be afraid of all of us. We're gonna go in and get Spike, and I need you all. That includes you, Harris, and you too Willow," Faith said.

"Right, um, about that…"

"Don't worry, baby. I'll still be there to anchor you down. Maybe cute little Shelly can get us into the science lab, but who's the one to keep you from blowing up the Science lab?" Kennedy said.

"I am NOT going to use my powers on humans," Willow said firmly, "No matter what they're doing. I can't---"

"Willow, I know B wouldn't want the chip back in Spike's head, and you know it too," Faith said.

"Of course, I just don't want to hurt anyone, at least not permanently. I could do a sleep spell, an insect spell, there is a paranoia spell that works really great with government types. But, that could back fire and—" as firm as she was before now she seemed to be rambling nervously.

"No one wants you to hurt anybody, baby," Kennedy assured.

"I'm sorry. I'm just nervous. I haven't done any spells on humans in a while and…"

"I know we don't have to discuss the finer points of this mission. I know you're in all the way," Faith whispered to Connor.

She put her head on his shoulder.

"It's what I do," he said.

That's when he smelled it. So close to him he tasted it.

"I bet all Watchers would have loved a Slayer as good as you…What's wrong?" she asked as she was looking at him dead in the face.

"You're still bleeding," he said.

"It's what I do. Don't worry I'll get better in time," she smiled at him.