Get Him Back

Summary: Faith and the gang go to rescue Spike from Sunnydale University and their views collide. Will they be ready for what they find? Faith's POV.

"Wait 'til I get him back
He won't have a back to scratch
Yeah keep turning that chin
And you will see my face
As I figure how to kill what I cannot catch

So wait 'til I get him back
Gonna bring him home and watch him unpack
Hey, keep turning that chin
And you will see my face is fixed on the one
I'm going to get back." Fiona Apple

Get Him Back

Faith stomped on the grass of the Sunnydale campus as hard as she could while the whole rag-tag group was behind her. If she had time she would grind on all the grass like it was a bunch of burning cigs, she would bust out every security light, tear the pages out of every hard-to-read-book, but she didn't have time. She knew this was her second time on a college campus and it would probably be her last. The other time she had been here was to terrorize B. She knew she would never belong here. But, wasn't this supposed to be a good place?

Wasn't college supposed to be about making friends and learning? It clearly wasn't. It was a place just like any other that did fucked up things like put chips in people's heads and made deals with demons. Faith hadn't really sat down and thought about how Sunny D University was connected to everything. That soldier boy she fucked that said he loved B, the government, Sunnydale U, they all were about Spike' s chip, and now they were about fucking with Spike again.

Maybe the only reason Faith hadn't come here and trashed this place was because she knew that Spike had to be alive. Connor was the one that pointed that out. Spike had to be alive and they had to want him to stay that way or else they wouldn't have gone to all of this trouble to get him. Connor was the only one that made sense. The others wanted to wait and sit on their collective asses and call their daddies.

The only person that should want to call daddy for help was Connor, and he didn't want to. Faith told him that was too bad, and she put in a call to Angel right away. Of course, she had only gotten his stupid secretary who was more interested in whether or not Faith had broken up with Spike. Then, when Faith finally got the story out to the stupid bitch she went all Scarlet O'Hara and started blubbering that "Spikey was somewhere being hurt." No shit. Then the bitch totally shifted gears and started yelling at Faith and demanding to know how she could let this happen. So, Faith did the only thing she could. She started cursing the stupid whore out. So, Angel probably wasn't going to get the message.

So, there was only one thing left to do—move. She had wanted to come here right away and go down to their secret lair that was below the science class or the biology building --or whatever the fuck it was-- and do whatever she had to do to get Spike out. But, Connor suggested that it would be best that they wait just a little while and regroup after the whole Sahjhan thing. Faith got behind that idea. She had a lot of sore muscles and bruises from the shoot out with Sahjhan's vamps. Damn she really missed that quick healing of being a Slayer. Having a sore body reminded her of places she didn't need to go.

"Um," Willow said as she caught up with Faith, "Did I mention this isn't a good idea?"

"About a hundred times, but you never came up with a better one," Faith said as she kept looking straight a head for guards or anything suspicious.

There was nothing and Faith was almost disappointed. All of the kiddies had gone on Winter break, which was a month long. Boston public never had a break that long, at least not an official one. College sounded really sweet. Too bad most of the students weren 't like Connor. They seemed to have interesting extracurricular activities like opening up people's brains and fucking with them. Red swore that was probably only the psychology department, and that the computer science department where she worked was all good, but Faith was a little pissed Red hadn' t noticed anything.

I mean, it really isn't even an idea since we have no plan. So, I guess, what I'm saying is-is-Can we not do this? Can we think of something else—Like anything," Red continued and she was beginning to sound like a gnat in Faith's ear.

Faith wanted to smack the girl all of a sudden. She wanted to pull out her knife and tell her what a dork loser she still was and how dare she try to trick Faith into thinking she had changed at all.

"I vote for this 'anything' idea Will is proposing," Harris said.

Faith wanted to strangle him too.

"No one is making you two stay here," she said instead.

"These are the trank guns," Connor said as he handed Willow, Kennedy and Harris the bubble gum guns.

"These are the 57 magnums with the wooden tipped bullets I made," he smiled just a little as he handed one to Faith, "It has a little more of a kick back then the 45, but it's nothing compared to the shot guns. I just wanted to let you know, since you'll be shooting at close range if need be."

"Gotcha," Faith said as she looked over toward the science building.

"Guns!" Red gasped, "No one said anything about guns. I hate guns. They never help. Buffy would never use guns."

"Icks-ney on the uffy-Bay," Xander whispered to Red.

"Look!" Faith tried not to yell and failed, "Why don't the two of you just go? It's obvious you don't want to be here."

"I'm not leaving my girlfriend with you two psych—psy---cyber-punks. Cyber-punks, yeah. That's what you guys are. With all the black leather and the cool gadgets and the stern stone faced walking into a federally protected secret building. The thing is that this isn't a movie and people could get really hurt, and I can't let that happen."

Red had started her little speech so strong, but then she recoiled into the so-called good girl.

"I think that—"Kennedy began, but Faith cut her off.

"I tell ya, after everything I've done to you guys I never expected you to ever be my friends, and I'm fine with that. The only reason I wanted to try to get in good with the gang was because I thought you guys were cool. I thought you would always do what's right, " Faith said.

"What do you mean?" Kennedy snapped at Faith now, "Of course Willow is your friend. She's just—"

"In what universe did you ever think I was cool?" Red said with folded arms, "You just think my girlfriend is cool because you've got a thing where you have to share my people, or Buffy's, or Angel's. You can't find your own because you're too twisted."

"Willow!" was all Kennedy could get out of her mouth.

"Oh, god!" Harris said nervously, "Willow, I'll pay you to start talking about what Buffy would do again."

"You have no— "Connor began, but Faith stopped him.

He was the only one that didn't have any fear in his voice. The only one besides Red, and that was who this was about now.

"No," Faith said and laughed, "This is good. Good for you, Red. Finally saying what you feel after what---two years? It's a wonder you don't become the wicked witch more often with the way you bottle it all up. Maybe you wanted to think we were friends, or maybe you just wanted K to think it. I know I don't deserve your respect, but right now I need your trust."

"Actually, Buffy has been gone for almost three years now. Everyday I think I'll miss her less and it never gets any better but, I know she would want us to help Spike," Harris said.

"Oh, Xander—"Red started on her motherly routine.

Faith noticed all traces of her being pissed totally disappeared. Red also had completely stopped paying attention to what was going on.

"This has nothing to do with Buffy!" Kennedy said.

"Maybe it doesn't for us, K," Faith said, "But, it always may be about B for some people, and that's five by five with me, as long as they keep fighting the good fight and saddle up with their mad skills. Red, I'm sure you got some magic you could use without going all wiggy. I don't care what you gotta do to use it, just use it."

"I know you don't care, Faith," Red said looking all pissed again, "You don't care about what people have to go through. What risks their taking or who gets hurt. You just want to get what you want no matter what. So, you're all good now. Spike's all good. Horary for you! But, guess what? You're still fighters on a Hellmouth and bad things are going to happen. Your lover's gonna get kidnapped, or beaten up, or driven crazy, or yeah—maybe even killed. That's the price you pay for fighting the good fight, and these things take time, work, planning. They're not easy. They're never easy. You can't just go off half-cocked and start killing people because you feel like it, because things aren't going your way. If—if you do that-- that just makes you one of them."

"Faith is not one of them," Connor said calmly now, "She isn't doing this because she feels like it, or because things aren't going her way. I don't know all about what you people have done or what you've gone through, but I know when I have to do a rescue mission and I know time is a factor. I know you know that too, Willow. You came to LA and you did what you had to do to help Angel get his soul back. No one had to urge you. You didn't wait. So, either you're helping us now or you're not."

"Well, that was different. That was the first spell I ever learned. So, so, there was no danger. I knew it would be smooth. I--I was never going to get out of control," Red said as she looked up at Connor for the first time tonight.

"It didn't happen smoothly. It never does with magic, and you looked pretty in control," Connor said, "You had to do a lot more than your first spell. There was a demon that you had to take on and you did it. You didn't have any time to plan."

"That—that was—I got lucky with that. I—I could have become dangerous, but—but I-- How—how do you know about that?" Red stammered.

She looked like the little mouse that used to follow Buffy around in those stupid dresses now.

"I was there. You don't remember because Angel did a spell so you'd all forget me, but I was the androgynous yet attractive son with the genetic sneer," Connor smirked.

"What?" Willow said, "You were there?"

"Yeah, and at the time I had no idea what 'androgynous' meant. Thanks a lot, by the way," Connor said dryly.

"That means you look like a girl, right?" Harris asked with that lost look on his face.

Faith wasn't sure what it meant at all, and she could care less. She was just glad Connor decided to talk to Willow. He could talk to her in that college way—debate or whatever. Faith couldn't be more proud of the kid, and she had always known he was way smarter than her—like Red. So, she'd wait a couple of minutes to see how this went down, but after that she was going ahead no matter who was behind her.

"You were there and I said things to you? Someone did a memory spell I couldn't at least sense on me?" Red looked more fearful about this idea than she had about going into battle the government guys.

"Don't feel bad. Angel had it done to the rest of the world too, and besides my little sister and me no one sensed a thing. And you didn't really talk to me much beyond that. You were pretty busy battling that mystical demon with magic that I'm now pretty sure was my girlfriend at the time—kind of," Connor said.

"Sadly, I can relate to that last thing you just said," Harris said.

"Point is," Faith said, "You can help us, Red. More than you think. If you want to."

"Of course she wants to," Kennedy said, "You do want to, honey, right?"

"I—I—Yes," Red said, "But, you all still don't understand. I can be dangerous. I haven't done any aggressive spells, especially not any against humans since I was, well, evil. With that whole Angel thing it was a familiar spell, even when things got bad I knew I could do it. It wasn't like Buffy was there knowing Angel had no soul and it all depended on me or else she would hate me forever."

"So, you're saying Buffy used to mess up your confidence, but that doesn't matter anymore, because she's not here, and I am," Kennedy said sadly but then she came back strong, "and I give you confidence. I know you can do anything, Willow. You're a goddess and—"

"That's not what I'm saying at all. God! Why do you always have to twist everything I say when it comes to Buffy? Where do you get such bad ideas about her, as if I didn't know," Red was pissed again, more pissed than before.

The cute little witch's words slid over Faith like ice as she also got a cold glare that Faith wouldn't think Willow was capable of. And just like that Faith saw this darkness that Red was always so twitchy about. Yeah, Faith had seen Red's eyes get all black when she did that spell to hold back those pure vamps that time. She knew Red cursed her out when she was "under the influence" of the magic. But, Faith didn't see this so called "dangerous Willow" until now. Faith totally got it. She also didn't have time to care right now. She did a little bit, but that was only because she felt bad for Kennedy, her own friend, because Faith was a dangerous bitch too. Big surprise there.

"Faith never---"Kennedy began.

"You know what?" Faith interrupted, "You're right, Red. K probably can't see all of the greatness that was B because of me."

"That's not—"Kennedy began angrily.

"Shut-up, K," Faith said lightly, "But, I really couldn't give a shit right now. You're scared of the bitch you think you are inside. Fine, that's your business. The only advice I can give you on that is some that a now tortured vampire gave me: Don't close off your darkness, its part of you. Learn to harness it and use it or else it'll do it to you."

"I don't close off," Red said firmly.

"Right, honey," Kennedy said, "You balance, you balance with me. I help you. So we can---"

"We can what? Shoot people with the wooden tipped bullets that I'm guessing kill people as well as vampires. We should plan, research, calm down with the gun thing and know what were up against. We're not really sure if these people are the government," Willow said.

"Well, if I had time to do all that maybe I'd also have time to give a B-like war speech about how we need to stick together in these dark times."

"God, just when I thought it couldn't get any worse," Kennedy groaned.

"This isn't war. Someone hurt your boyfriend, that's all. You can't kill over that. You can't go in there this way, thinking you owe them pain. It won't work," Willow said.

"I'm not going to kill anyone," Faith said, "Unless I have to. Just 'cause I think I owe them pain doesn't mean I'll stop to give it. And Spike was never—He isn't my boyfriend anymore. This isn't about who's going steady with who, Red. It's about doing what's right. And I'm doing whatever I have to do to get him back, and that's why it will work."

"You'd kill to get him back. I can tell," Red said and she looked different than both the old Willow and the angry Willow Faith had been seeing "I can tell because—"

"You can tell because you'd have done it for her, for Tara, but you won't do it now. Not for any of us. Not for me," Kennedy said.

"No, it's not that," Red said softly, "Well, it's not just that. I just don't think this is the best plan."

"Being that the plan is having a total lack of one," Harris backed her up.

"Right," Willow continued, "I know Spike is going through some unpleasant things, but he's had to go through all kinds of things before. They're probably putting a chip back in his head or studying to see just why vampires bleed like people. I nev er got it. I mean they have no circulation..."

"Oh!" suddenly Red smiled, and Faith thought she might have an idea for a spell, "You know what this is like? This is just like the time the First captured him and used his blood to set off the last apocalypse. The First had him for days, and we couldn 't rescue him because we knew we would lose. Plus, we had no time with everything else. He was tortured for like ever before Buffy could get there."

"Um, Willow," Xander said as he looked only at Faith's face.

He looked at Faith like he was judging whether he'd have to throw holy water on her or not.

"It wasn't like the first time with the First got him when all it did was put that trigger in his head, and who knows what it had to do to him to do that--- mentally I mean. This time the First really went all medieval. The physical stuff didn't look too bad, but Buffy said if I saw him with his shirt off…," Red said.

"Willow," Xander said with all his mock-pleasant anxiety as he read Faith's face.

"…Anyway, the point is, when we finally did get him back he was okay—eventually. I mean, he was really quiet for weeks and that was spooky. He'd sit and stare a lot and he did try to kill Andrew but—"

"What?" Faith demanded.

"Oh, Andrew was fine, but I'd never seen a vampire break through a wall like that. It was cool, in a way," Red smiled now.

"You let the First torture him! Twice! You didn't even try to get him until you felt cool about it. Why? He hadn't been in your club long enough? He'd only saved your ass a bunch of times, but he wasn' t in the Sunny D year book so, he could wait," Faith said.

"I think there might be a few photos of him from parent-teacher night back in '97 when he came and killed some people," Xander said lightly.

"So, he'll always deserve to suffer. No matter how hard he fought to get back to good. No matter how many times he won that fight, nothing is good enough for you people," Faith said.

"Faith, that's not true. It was nothing personal. It's just sometimes you have to weigh out what's best ---"Red talked now.

"You're right," Faith said, "And I can't believe I wasted time on this crap. For some kind of real life woman sized Hermione you can be a little slow, Red. You seem to have forgotten two really important things. The most important is you have a perfectly good live hot girlfriend standing right next to you. Not only can she manage all of your demons with out getting hurt, she makes sure that you don't hurt anyone else either. The other thing you forgot…"

Faith saw Red visibly jump as she cocked her gun,

"Is that I'm not you, or anyone else. I don't need to talk out all the pros and cons of everything before I do it to see if I'm okay with it. Now, I'm going in there to bust Spike out. Anyone who wants to come to help is welcome and gets my protection. Anyone who gets in my way gets hurt, and if it's a must—killed. It's nothing personal. It's just sometimes you have to weigh out what's best," Faith said.

"Let's go," she said to Connor.

She heard the sound of Connor cocking one of the trank guns and handing it to Kennedy who took it.

"No," Kennedy sighed.

"It's okay, K," Faith said, "I really do know it's nothing personal with you. I know that you're my friend. I get that it's best that you go with your girl."

"No," Kennedy said again, "I want two guns too. A trank one and a real one. What am I? Some kid Potential?"

"What?" Willow gasped, "Kennedy, no!"

"Oh no," Harris said, "This can't be good."

He walked away, and Faith didn't bother to look back at him as her focus was on Kennedy.

"No, you're not a kid, K" Faith said, "And you may've noticed that Dawn and Amanda aren't here. There's a reason for that. They don't need to see this, just like you don't need a real gun."

"But your Boy Wonder gets one and not me," Kennedy said, "After I'm willing to stick my neck out. Boy Faith, you really know how to stick together with your own."

"Like your sticking with me, Kennedy?" Willow snapped, "No one needs a gun."

"Connor and I have two kinds of guns," Faith explained as she looked at nothing but the Science building where she was going, "One puts people and vamps to sleep the other kills them. I gave Connor both kinds 'cause he can aim to wound perfectly. I have two guns 'cause I need to make up for my insecurities. If you don't think it's fair that we all have different toys, for whatever reason you can leave, but no one is giving their toys away or getting any new ones."

"Willow's right," Harris was back, "No one needs a gun. I don't know what's going on, but it isn't good, but the good news is they'll be no more fighting about guns tonight, or gun fighting."

It seemed like he had walked around in some kind of circle and come back to them. Faith thought about how Spike might say that was poetic of Harris, since that was what all of them were really doing. Faith wasn't going to walk around in circles anymore.

"Maybe you didn't hear what I said, Harris," Faith said, "Since, you were busy trying to walk away and then doubling back when you realized no one was following you. Maybe that's why you were always a follower and never a leader. But I said—"

"Don't talk to him like that! What do you know about leading anyone?" Red snapped.

Then, everyone erupted. They were all saying something at once, except for Faith who just laughed because this whole thing made her realize she really missed arguing with Spike or even B. They wouldn't have let this last this long, there would be punching, or fucking, or running off dramatically if they were here. Well, she could get one of those people back. She grabbed Connor's sleeve and motioned with her head that they keep moving. Connor stopped with whatever sneering and glaring he was doing and followed Faith. They walked off with no drama, or at least with as little drama as two armed people could walk away from yelling people.

"Faith," Harris was coming through with a surprising amount of drama tonight as he ran after Faith and Connor, "Where are you going? Listen to me. You don't need to go down there. I know where Spike is."

"If you have a theory that you think is going to help us in the next five seconds you're welcome to share it," Faith said as she kept her eyes on her target—The science building.

"Um, actually I do. I think he's really fucked up," Harris said, "Like he was with The First. Only, I think they messed with his body too… I think they tried to re-make Adam using him."

"Remake Adam using Spike?" Red said as she held her hand up to quite Kennedy who was wasting her time trying to say something to her.

Faith could see Red's wheels turning in a different way now. Like she was a computer trying to figure something out. Faith remembered seeing the old black board in high school with the math problems that had letters the smart kid's used to solve. If X then Y…

"But why?" Red said.

Faith could care less about Y or X or solving any problem for some fucking theory.

"Who the hell is Adam?" she demanded.

"A sort of cyborg that the Initiative created to do…I don't know what they wanted him to do, but whatever it was he didn't do it. Instead, he gained independent thought and tried to end the world. You think one of those government scientist people would have seen '2001' or 'War Games'. He was one of the biggest bads we had to fight. Buffy couldn't destroy him alone—"

Faith realized she didn't even care about that.

"What the hell would make you think they're doing something like that to Spike, Harris? Do you have some kind of an in you're not telling me about?"

"How could you think Xander would--- Do you have some kind of in, Xand? Did Riley say something--" Red's voice trailed off.

"Yeah," Xander said, "I have an in with my one good eye and my one good mouth. I saw Spike sitting under that tree and I went over there and talked to him and he's---"

Faith darted over to the tree Harris gestured to. She did see a figure sitting under the nearest tree, but she didn't think it was Spike. He wouldn't just sit there listening to them, unless… maybe he would. Maybe he was still all pissy about the break up thing. Yeah, Faith should have known he was going to be a total prick now because they had screwed, or had a relationship or whatever. Of course, when B kicked him to the curb he kissed her ass, and now Faith gets shit. Spike would just sit and watch her yell at B's friends to save him. Not to mention he was going to be a smug ass because he escaped the government again. Faith now took time to mash the grass as she tromped over to where Spike sat.

Faith was pissed. Spike knew just how to keep to the shadows. It was a vampire thing. She had seen it millions of times of course. When she had her Slayer power she knew when they were back in the shadows without ever having to see them. Now she could only see Spike's silhouette. He could have been any guy just sitting there, but she knew it was him, and it had nothing to do with any Slayer power. It was her power. You don't fight someone, fuck someone, know someone and then not know the out line of their face, the curve of their cheeks, or their big ass English nose in the dark. It didn't matter if they weren't wearing their usual clothes or sitting all slumped like some homeless crack head. Spike really thought she was an idiot.

"Something's wrong. I couldn't--- I can't smell him," Connor said as he followed, but hung back with Xander.

"Yeah. Faith, Faith, don't go over there you don't want to get---ow," Xander made the mistake of trying to hold Faith back.

Connor could successfully hold her back, but he knew better.

"Spike!' Faith yelled over to him as his back was up against the tree.

She could only see the outline of the bastard, and the boys were right. There was something off about him. He wasn't wearing his duster, for one, and it was weird the way he was up against the tree. But, that was just him fucking with her.

"What the hell are you doing? What, were you just watching us, waiting to see how far we'd go for you? How long it would take us to come? Were you impressed? I bet you loved the way I kept all the troops together, huh?" she hissed at him as she looked down at the shape of him sitting there.

His silence told her everything she said was right. She was going to get nothing but a world of lip for not coming sooner to save him and, for dumping him for the only noble reason she ever left anyone in her life.

"You sick fuck! How long have you been watching us? Waiting to tell me how stupid I was to think some 'Clockwork Orange' soldier boys can hold you?" she demanded.

More silence. He was savoring the moment for his smug response. Enjoying how pissed she was. Unless he was just going to give her the silent treatment. Had she told him how much she hated the silent treatment—the cold shoulder? Had she told him how when her mother would do that to her she'd curse and scream or do something until her mother cursed or screamed or hit her? She didn't think Spike was capable of the silent treatment, but he was capable of being a cruel bastard. She'd make him be a cruel bastard then.

"Spike?" she demanded as she moved closer to him.

"She comes closer," he said lowly, like he thought it was entertaining and he was watching a nature show, "I thought we all voted on this that we wanted her to go away, but the machine gets what it wants. Beautiful. We won't touch her. We're beneath her. No touching, We won't let the machine get its spark. "

"Oh, I get it, English!" Faith yelled.

"Um, just exactly what about that is there to be gotten?" Xander asked.

"Fuck you, Spike," Faith snarled, "You know. Fuck you! When I think you're being fucked with by the don't-ask-don't-tells I get all fired up to bust you out. I drag my sorry arsenal here to find your even sorrier ass doing your best impression of Sid Vicious's later years. It's not like I expected you to come back and be my friend after I opened my legs and closed them again. I mean, I know I'm not a perky Slayer. But, could you at least pick up a phone before you picked up a bottle? I'm glad you escaped the government and got right back to your heroic drinking schedule. But, did it ever occur to you that not everyone can escape soldier boys and get back to partying as easily as you? Did it ever occur to you they might be after me or Connor, since, I dunno, they have been before?"

"Shhhh," he said.

Faith could see the outline of his hand holding the side of his head as she saw that he was holding a bottle of Jack in the other. She smelled the Jack before she saw the bottle. No wonder Connor couldn't smell him. She didn't need sniffing powers for that. She had been familiar with the smell since she was in the womb.

"That's what the bitch wants, but she doesn't respect our demon, so she won't win. She can break me apart inside all she likes, but I won't break outside or I'll break my outsides off."

"You haven't even begun to see me be a bitch. Just how drunk are you right now?" Faith demanded.

"Need something for the pain," he said and laughed.

"Faith, they did something to him," Harris said, "He's not drunk. Well, he's not just drunk. "

"The government? What did they do to you Spike?" Connor asked.

"You," Spike said and he seemed to be talking to Connor, "You are part of it. That's why they want the machine to hurt you too. We're just ghosts in the machine that can't die now. We don't want to play anymore. We liked it better when it was all about him getting caught up in the wheels, the prophecies."

"It sounds like he's crazy again, like when The First drove him crazy," Willow said, "He's talking about ghosts and prophecies. This isn't something The Initiative would do. This seems evil."

"Damn, Red," Faith said, "You don't think the government can drive someone nuts? You don't think they're evil? You've obviously have never been in jail or in the child welfare system. But, it' s like you said Spike is strong. He'll be okay. He just needs to get out of here. He's probably more drunk and shaken than anything else."

Faith felt funny all of a sudden, cold and tired. She didn't listen to Red explain herself, as she was saying something about how she did know the government could be evil but that The Initiative is "purely scientific." Red didn't get it. Torture was a science.

But, Faith knew, she was sure, that Spike couldn't be tortured all that bad. He was really strong and he had escaped, hadn't he? He wasn't crazy or "traumatized." Faith knew trauma and she knew Spike. As much of a drama queen as he could be, he was also the most stubborn son of a bitch in the world. He wouldn't let himself be traumatized, not all the way. Faith crouched down to Spike's level. He was still holding his head, and she still couldn't really see him, but he looked smaller somehow.

"No," he said, "No chip. Old hat. We can't let it out. They didn't hurt us, they separated us. Separation much worse."

"The government or whoever didn't separate us—you did—when you beat up Wes for decisions I made. But, even though you made it so I had to dump you we can still be together in the mission, as friends, whatever," Faith said and she wondered if she made as much sense as Spike.

"Wes...The head-boy. He turned on them, turned us lose. Let us go. He's his own man now, not head-boy anymore. The head-master will be very cross," he said and laughed.

"Yeah, talk about head as much as you want, you're still not getting anywhere with me until you sober up, start making sense, and respect my decisions," Faith said with a laugh.

God, this was a fucking mess. He was still holding his head hiding in the shadow of the tree. He was slipping into Watcher talk. Sometimes when he was too drunk or too tired or even too happy he'd start talking like an old English guy. She noticed it a lot when they had hooked up at Angel's vacation house. She made fun of him, and said he was really an old tight assed Watcher underneath it all. She thought it was funny. He didn't. He got that pissed off look where he stuck his chin out. Of course, that only made Faith tease him more. Faith then accused Spike of wanting to buy her a tea cozy and take her to a cotillion, which- she said- didn't say much for them as a couple because Faith didn't know what those things were.

Then, he told her what they were (though she still wasn't really sure about the tea cozy thing.) But, he talked about cotillions and how pompous they were, and how he used to take his crazy ex to them so they could feed on spoiled "vulgarian" socialites and get nice clothes. Faith then said the weirdest fucking thing. She told him that if she was ever a vampire that was probably exactly the kind of thing she would do, but that wasn't the weird thing. The weird thing she told him was that she had always wanted to throw a fancy party with catered food and streamers and party favors, even though she wasn't sure what those were either. Faith told Spike she realized how weird it sounded. She told him it was probably some weird thing she had due to the fact she never had a birthday party as a kid. He said: It's not odd at all, who doesn't want a party? He asked her what kind of flowers she'd want and what kind of cake. Then, she realized he was actually planning a fucking party. He said he was really good at planning parties, and she started calling him a little sissy English boy again. Then he pushed her up against the special glass again and they fucked. Hard and laughing. No ponce fucks like me. he said. No one fucks like you she said.

It was true, but now he had been fucked by something, someone, as he sat under this tree. He probably drank enough Jack to kill ten sissy English boys, but he was talking like one because they had done something to him. He almost sounded afraid, and he was never afraid. But, he would be okay.

"It'll be okay, Spike," Faith said now after what felt like way too much silence, " Whatever happened is over now, okay?"

And it was over. Whatever he went through. Even though shit never stops, there were some things that could be divided into before and after. Faith wouldn't let the government or whoever they were hurt him again. She wouldn't let them hurt anyone.

"We are sorry, all of us. We thought everything we did was for you, but it only made you go away…all of you. So, some of it really had to be for some of us, but we all love you…all of you. That's why there's to be no touching ever again," he said.

Faith swallowed and then laughed. Man, he was really fucked up. The chip did a number on him, but one thing that Willow was right about was that Spike was strong. He'd get over this thing. Faith might not be able to get everything he was saying, for the first time. But, she still got the gist, and she knew Spike got what she was saying.

"Yeah," she said, "Now I know you're really fucked up. When have you ever told me you were sorry? You're never sorry, not for trying to get me to kill you, not for beating on Wes, not for ditching me to go on this bender while the government was after you. If I can't believe you're sorry how can I believe the 'l word' shit? God! I'm dating my mother! "

"Mother," Spike laughed, "It's always about the mother. That's why they wanted us to break apart, to break you apart. That can't happen. We all want you to go away now."

"Yeah?" Faith said, "Well tough shit, Mama's boy. We aren't leaving here with out your fucked up drunken ass."

"We all want you to go away now," Willow said.

"No, we're not leaving him here like this. We need to get him to sober up so he can tell us what the fuck is going on," Faith said.

"No, she's saying what Spike's saying," Connor said, "'We.' He keeps saying 'we' and 'us'"

"Yeah, well, you know what a pretentious drunk he is," Faith said.

"There's something really wrong with him," Harris said.

"No shit," Faith said, "One of the things that's wrong with him is that he needs to get out of here and sober up."

"You're getting too close. You have to go. We can't fight the trigger," Spike said.

"Trigger? Shit. Faith—"Xander began.

"A'right," Faith said, "I've had it with this shit. Get up."

She grabbed him by the shirt he was wearing, which she was pretty sure was the shirt she put on him at Angel's vacation house in case his bimbo ex was going to come by. Faith knew she didn't have any Slayer power anymore, but she had become an expert in hauling her drunken mother to her feet way before she ever had power. She was about ten years old, before she was really good at doing it. She had been a pipsqueak of a ten year old, but her mother was tiny too. It was about the same size difference as her and Spike now.

"No touching!" Spike growled, "Why don't you listen?"

And now Faith was down on the ground. She felt the familiar sting tingle through the side of her face until it peaked around her mouth.

"Connor save it. He doesn't know what he's doing," Faith said without even looking back at him, knowing that the boy was going to try to hit Spike

"Okay," Faith laughed, "Maybe you hit a lot harder than my dead mother, but this isn't new territory for me."

"I don't think that's true, Faith," Xander said.

"Now you've done it! Now you've done it! You've touched us, and you triggered it," Spike howled.

"I don't think any of us have ever dealt with this before," Xander said as he pulled Faith gently off the ground.

Harris looked so serious and resolved about the whole thing that Faith had to laugh a little.

"Go, go, go, go!" Spike repeated as he sunk back into the shadow of the tree.

The vamp was drunk and messed up in the head about something and he was embarrassed. He didn't want to be seen this way. He didn't want to be seen as weak, and when Faith called him on it he got pissed off and hit her. So, now he was doing the-I'm-so-sorry routine. That was all. Yeah, so the government messed with his head bad and put a chip in him, but wasn't it always something? Man, she really was dating her mom with a penis and fangs. She made a mental note to go back to Alanon. Seriously.

"There's lots you little suburbanites don't know about me, what I've dealt with. Getting bitch slapped by drunk drama queens was my specialty before I got into the mission," Faith told Harris.

"Yeah, mine too. It was more of a birth right really," he said, "But, this is more than that."

"You have to go now," Spike growled now literally.

That was new. She had only ever heard Kakistos growl while he talked for that spooky Exorcist affect. Faith knew Spike thought that was such a hacked bit. He really wasn't himself.

"She set it to tear you apart for her own little reasons, but the rest of them have you as there number one priority," Spike said as he grabbed Faith's arm.

She tried her best not to cry out in pain as he gripped her arm. Hard. Nothing like his usual hard sex grip that made her know just how much he was there because he wanted to be there. This was like he wanted to grab so her arm would no longer exist.

His face looked different. He was in game face, but his vamp wrinkles were outlined in silver veins that looked like it would jump like water if they were touched. She wanted to reach up and touch his game face. Faith had made a point to make out with Spike's game face, to fuck it, to touch it, to make him turn it on and off. She had done that for the same reason she had done most things that 99.9 of the population would be scared to do. She did it because she could, because she wanted to, because what scared almost everyone didn't scare her at all, and that was a turn on. Spike's game face was a turn on; this was not because this vampire face lined in liquid silver lava-lamp like veins was not Spike's game face.

Things happened very fast even for Faith. She knew she saw Connor run up on Spike and she saw him easily push Connor away with his other arm. She knew he had pushed the boy away too fast and too easy. She saw things even though she was sure her arm was about to snap. She saw that Spike had no hair anymore. Faith also saw a small liquid silver patch on his head with dried blood around it. She didn't want to scream, but the pain of the grip Spike had was betraying her. Then all off a sudden Faith felt his grip loosen.

"We don't know how long we can fight as ghosts moving the machine," he said as his normal face returned.

He smiled at her sadly.

"You'll need to get Buffy, and Red. They know how to take bots apart real good," he said

"Spike, wha—" she began

Faith knew that the chip hadn't been like this. She knew why people shaved other people's heads. She had been in prison. They shaved your head to take your identity. Someone wanted to take Spike's identity. They wanted to make him a soldier.

"Dead flesh, the machine moves and the ghosts watch and suffer, but sometimes the ghosts win. Angel should have warned us, how touch can trigger, how a trigger or a curse can make us separate," he said.

"Spike, put down the knife," Kennedy ordered as she held her little trank gun to him.

Faith saw that Spike was smiling with a knife, her knife that he must have slipped out of her pocket. There was blood all over it. Faith looked down and saw blood on her arm, but she didn't feel cut anywhere. Then she saw Spike looking at his wrist with blood all over it.

"No!" Faith yelled as she looked at Spike's bloody wrist.

His hand couldn't be gone, but it was. He had sliced it right off. Faith realized it had fallen from her arm.

"Shhh. Not us. Just the machine cut it away is all," he said

Faith felt her knees buckling. When she fell she forced herself to look on the ground and search. She had her fucking eyes open for a change. She picked up Spike's hand.

"Go, now. You set it off and we can't fight it much longer," he said.

"What did they do to you, baby?" she said, her voice came out shrieky like she knew it might, but it didn't matter she had been able to pick up his hand.

"Faith, No!" Someone said and grabbed her.

They were really good at grabbing people smaller than them, and making them go away from where they needed to be.

"Get the fuck off me, Harris!" Faith screamed, "Just get the fuck off me!"

Great the bulky carpenter was pulling her, the hysterical woman, away from her injured evil Ex she still wanted. To make it even more Soap Opera while that was going on her noble friend, Connor, fought her evil ex, who was really misunderstood. She was everything she hated, and she hated everything, but she could care less about that right now. She only cared about one thing.

"We have to help him, Harris. We have to help him. God! Fuck! What did they do to him?" she shrilled, "I can't--Why? Why did he—His hand. We can get it back on right? He's a vamp so...I need to get this on ice right away. That's what you do, right?"

"Give it to me," Red said, "I'll take care of it."

And just like that, the girl took Spike's severed hand from Faith, like she was taking some grocery bag filled with much needed food. Faith herself was visibly shaking. She knew everyone would know she was a loser now. Nothing but a big ball-dropper. She couldn't even keep it together for a severed hand. She really didn't care what they thought anymore. That was the upside of losing something huge; you didn't sweat the small things that seemed big before. Faith saw Connor shoot Spike with his trank gun after Spike got in a couple of blows. Good boy. She hadn't thought to bring a trank gun out on Spike. She should have the second she sensed something was off about him. Faith was the one that was off.

"They put another trigger in his head. This time he told me the trigger was you touching him. Sorry, I didn't figure that out right away. I'm not good with other languages, but I could understand a bit of his Crazy," Xander said to Faith.

"A trigger? Is that like a chip? I made his game face get all fucking weird like that 'cause I touched him? ---"

Faith knew she was really off. She nearly jumped out of her skin when Connor came up from behind and touched her, but she had to stay, even if she wasn't needed, she had to try. She watched numbly as Connor and Xander put Spike's unconscious body into the car. She didn't remember walking to it, but here she was. Here they were.

"I tied off the wound with his shirt. Actually, Vampires don't bleed like people," Connor looked over at the very stoic Red in the front seat when he said this, "He'll bleed, but he won't hemorrhage. He won't die."

"Of course he won't fucking die!" Faith snapped and then looked down at the dark nook of the car floor where her feet were and whispered, "What's wrong with him? What's a trigger?"

Faith turned to look down at Spike who was in the way-back of the SUV. He just looked like he was sleeping. She would expect him to open his eyes and say: "Surprise!" if she could over look his shaved head and the hunk of metal that was embedded in the side of it. When they sealed themselves off in that house to fuck she had done a lot of sleeping with him; she was sure they did almost as much sleeping as they did fucking or talking. Faith acted like they lived in that house, like it was theirs even though she would say it was Angel's. Spike was the one that would remind her it was not Angel's house; it was a Wolfram and Hart vacation house.

"A trigger is something they put in his head where they program him to kill. The First did it to him too, remember?" Harris said.

"The government is getting its tricks from The First Evil. Well, I'm shocked," Faith said as she made eye contact with Harris in his rear-view.

"It's something that governments have done with assassins for a long time. It gives them complete control," Connor said and he did sneer like Angel, "He told us about it that one time I crashed your training in the gym. I guess that was a while ago now."

"The trigger!" Faith said, "The thing that makes you dance with yourself. Fuck. I know what it is. My brain damage is just acting up again. They did more than that though, right?"

Faith looked back at Spike again and this time she forced herself to look at where his hand wasn't. The white button down that Spike had been wearing was tied around the wound (or his fucking stump really) with expertise. She could almost make herself laugh when she realized it was the shirt from the Wolfram & Hart house she made him wear when she thought his bitch ex might be stopping by. She just liked putting a shirt on him to take it off again really. She made him wear a shirt some yuppie asshole left behind because she liked making him into a fucking Ken doll. Faith saw there was a lot of blood on the shirt. No one would be wearing it to a dinner party, but it wasn't completely dripping. Connor was right. Vampires bled less than humans. The idea that the kid needed her as some kind of Watcher was really turning out to be some kind of joke. Maybe she should think about leaving town after Spike got better.

"I'm not sure what they did to his game face. I think they used him to create some kind of super soldier, and I gotta say he's a lot better looking than Adam and he blends more," Xander said.

"Blends?" Kennedy scoffed, "They made him crazy. Somebody tore the guy apart and they enjoyed doing it."

"You gotta hand it to them," Xander said, "Making him crazy would take away that pesky gaining independent thought problem."

"No, you want a soldier to be able to follow orders. A shell-shocked one is no good to you," Kennedy said.

"They weren't done yet. They were stripping him down to build him back up," Xander said.

"No!" Faith snapped, "What the hell are you people talking about? Just because he's gone a little off the rails doesn't mean he's not there. Sometimes when your thoughts are crazy, they're more yours than ever. No one can strip Spike down. He's the strongest man whoever had a demon in him and whoever fucking did this to him knows that. They know him. Kennedy's right this wasn't one of your old school big bads experiments revisited. This was personal. That demon bitch told us--,"

"Maybe that's exactly why they did it," Connor said, "Because Spike is so strong, because it's personal. They thought they could take all of that strength and that power and twist it into something they wanted. Add to him what they wanted so he could become something else. There's some bad shit in there Faith. Like a liquid based metal system that's built into---built into his demon."

"Like in terminator, I mean the liquid metal part, not the crazy vampire part," Harris said.

"Built only into the demon infrastructure but how? It would have to be locked into his central nervous system---"

"I don't give a fuck about how they did it! I only care about how to fix it," Faith said.

She felt a tingling return into her brain that she knew was anger. It felt like it was cleansing the numbness out of her, like those pills that Lorne gave her for her Orpheus hang over back in the day.

"We can't fix it," Willow said.

"Bullshit!" Faith said, "You can fix it and you will. You can't sit there on your little narrow all-powerful ass and tell me that you can bring B back from the dead, make a bunch of Slayers, get me into a dimension where these guys can stick more demon power up my ass, and put B into her dream dimension where she'll be safe from the First and tell me that you can't give Spike a hand."

"So to speak," Harris said, "Sorry. I couldn't resist. I'm sure that---"

"I was going to say we can't fix it until we understand how it was done. That's something called 'thinking things through,' which doesn't seem very popular with you. You talk like all that stuff was easy for me. Well, it wasn't. I'm not a grown up Hermione, Faith, but at least I'm a grown up. At least I learned to deal with my power and my problems with it instead of expecting people to do stuff for me," Willow said.

"What's a her-my-o-knee?" Harris asked.

"What's with the two of you? Look--"Kennedy began.

"You're right. I don't expect you to do anything for me, Red. Just help the Champs, okay?" Faith said, "I never claimed to be one. I just tried to help. That's why I had you zap me into that dimension with those shadow guys a couple years back. I thought it was the only way to fight the First if B wasn't gonna be there. Big surprise, I was wrong. All it did was give me that annoying demon that was either gonna kill me or Spike when he healed me. I decided it wasn't gonna be Spike, that's why I left with Angel," Faith said.

"What? I can't believe you didn't tell me this. Obviously Spike or your hero Angel found a way to stop you from dying," Faith said.

"Number one, I don't have to explain myself to you, and number two I didn't let any of the Super hero boys interfere. I found my own way. Long story short, I lived, but I gave up all of my Slayer power to save Spike."

"You gave up your power to save Spike?" Red asked, "I thought you had to do it; I thought that Alistair Crowley warlock removed your Slayer power magically or having that shadow demon would have killed you."

"Yeah, I lied. Al's spell was a bust. The demon was really killing Spike when he'd heal me, so I gave it up. I know—I know not very girl power of me, and you're right, Red, I didn't think it through at all. I was all ready to die. I jumped off a cliff but then Spike did too—"

"You jumped off a cliff!" Kennedy demanded.

"We've already established that I'm stupid and willing to give up my girl power, K. Do you want to hear the whole story or not?" Faith said.

"No, I don't!" Kennedy said, "And did it ever occur to you that I really don't give a shit about you explaining yourself or girl power? Did you ever think I might just want to know if you're dying, so you wouldn't have to do it alone?"

"We all die alone, K," Faith said, but she was actually asking good questions.

Faith just couldn't answer them truthfully right now.

"I kind of want to hear the cliff jumping story. Just because it sounds like a good story to tell one of those people who ask: 'If your friend jumped off a cliff would you?'" Harris said.

"Well, again, long story short. Spike would and did, and I gave up my powers and we were both okay. That was all I wanted, for him to be okay, and now he's not," Faith said.

She looked back at Spike's unconscious body. She couldn't bring herself to touch him. Maybe because she knew he wouldn't wake up or because she thought he would.

"He will be," Red said.

Faith was smoking her last cigarette outside of her and Kennedy's place. She knew it would do no good to stand around the shaved headed Spike. Connor had pumped enough tranks in him to make an elephant sleep. She knew that much, so standing over his body like a girlie concerned ex whining at him with idiot romantic notions that he could hear her, or even that he wanted to speak to her now. At least she wasn't stupid in that way. She was just stupid in…

"Connor!" she yelled as she heard punching.

Fuck! Spike had woken up. No, Spike had not woken up. It wasn't Spike at all. It was that terminator thing they put in him. The demon with the silver-lined vamp faced wrinkles.

Faith darted over to them. Spike's fist would somehow always get Connor right in the face. The kid didn't bleed like a vampire, he bled like a human, and it was pouring down his face

"Faith, get back," Connor said.

She was losing it. She swore the kids eyes were glowing like a vamp's. It had to be the light that the shit they put in Spike was reflecting off of him. This think they dropped into him was a terminator for sure. She recognized hitting to kill. Spike said nothing. His face, that demon-tech face gave off nothing.

"Spike don't do this. This isn't you this isn't what you want to do," Red was saying softly from far away, but Faith could hear it perfectly because it was in her head.

"Spike, stop it now!" Red said in a firm voice that Faith didn't really think was hers.

Willow was putting that voice in everyone's head, and it was strong, but she didn't realize Spike wasn't home. She was talking to a machine. Then she heard the shots fired. It was Kennedy firing straight at Spike with her little trank gun. Nice shot, but machines don't sleep, and Spike was already sleeping. The machine just went on. A cog in the machine. They'll collect his blood to keep it going. If I ever sell out like that kill me. Spike used to say about Angel going to Wolfram and Hart.

The machine didn't seem to know Spike's other hand was gone. Why would it? It was trying to do that thing that Spike did so well where he broke necks with one jerk, but it couldn't quite do it. This was probably because it was Connor more than the possibility that Spike didn't know how to do that with one hand. They stole all of his knowledge, and they were making him use it. They stole him. Spike always knew how to work his way around a problem, and the machine did too. It had a hold of Connor and it was going to strangle him. Faith grabbed her gun with the wooden tipped bullets and fired. She hit Spike right in the hunk of metal that was in his head. The metal thing had been so smoothly embedded in his head that it looked like part of it, like Nike stamped into a shoe. Faith actually smiled a little when the metal thing sparked as it got hit by the bullet. No brains, no blood. The bullet stopped the machine, and it let Connor go. It turned and looked at Faith. Fuck, they made his eyes go all silver too.

"First priority," it said.

The bullet had clearly fucked it up. It said that kind of slow, and it seemed to want to walk towards her and couldn' t. Connor got up and it went to grab for him again, but before it could do that she shot Spike in the heart with one wooden tipped bullet. Straight through, without hitting Connor.

"Oh god," Harris was always the first one to talk.

"Connor," Faith said flatly as she walked towards him, "Let me see your face."

"It's okay," Connor said, "I'm all right."

"No," Faith said, "You are not all right. It was going to kill you."

"God! Fuck!" the boy cursed in anguish, "I am so sorry, Faith. I—I should have been able to—He was always faster. Stronger maybe, but he could never wipe the floor with my ass like that before. I don't know what--"

"It wasn't him anymore. They had him locked up and dancing with himself," Faith said as she used her jacket to wipe the boy's blood off of him.

"Maybe you could've gotten him back. He's strong. If I only thought about---"

"No, I couldn't get him back. Not if it meant sacrificing you. He wouldn't have wanted that and neither would I," Faith said.

Kennedy was by Faith's side clutching her. Xander and Willow magically seemed to appear with bandages and ice-packs. Maybe they really did magically appear. Faith couldn't help but think: be careful what you wish for. She wished she could be happy these people seemed to be her friends. She wished she could care. She knew she cared about Connor and Kennedy, but she felt-- not alone, but empty.

"C'mon," Kennedy said,"We have to get the kid to the hospital. Harris and my girl can take care of the body."

"Body?" Faith and Connor questioned in unison.

They both looked down to see Spike lying there, in his normal, well normal with a shaved head human face.

"He's not dead. He's not dust," Faith stated the obvious as she bent down to look at him.

"Maybe his soul gives him a body, and he's really--" Kennedy began.

Then, they all jumped back because the body moved. Faith got out her gun. She had three shots left.

"Good girl, Fi," he said, "That was a nice try, but it's going to take more. Angel, Buffy, Red."

"Spike!" she exclaimed and withdrew her gun.

"They won't let us die," Spike said as he grabbed for the stake stuffed in Faith's pocket

She heard Kennedy or Connor cock their guns.

"See," he said and buried the stake in his chest.

"Spike, no!" Faith screamed and bit her lip to keep from screaming more.

"It's those parts they stuck in us," Spike said as he pulled the stake out of his bare chest.

His chest filled with liquid metal and then became skin.

"Seals us all up inside. A prison. It's tearing us apart on the inside. Eternal suffering and all that," he said.

"Now it's over, baby. Okay?" Faith said.

"No, they want you dead. They're scared of you—us," he said.

Faith then heard shots being fired. They were so close she could feel the sound of them rumble in her stomach. She looked and saw Spike had somehow had gotten a gun and fired it into his head. He did this so fast. She didn't know if it was her or Willow screaming at the end. Spike then passed out.

"That was one of the trank guns, but I don't think he knew that. Faith…" Connor said.

"I know he's alive. He's holding my hand. See. Who's got his other one?" and Faith was actually laughing.

They brought Spike inside and Faith didn't know how long she was staring at him until she realized Willow was sewing on Spike's hand. She looked away and down at his hand she was holding.

"Um," Red said softly, "Could you maybe hold him still?"

"Why?" Faith asked, "Is he moving? Is he awake?"

"Um," Red was back to being the mouse, "No, you're kind of shaking, I think, and you're shaking him."

"Oh," Faith said.

"You won't like this." "His left hand." They both talked at once.


"I'm sorry. What?" Willow said.

"Oh, nothing it's stupid," Faith said, "He cut off his left hand. It's just funny. He was left handed, but back then you weren't allowed to be or something. So, every time they caught him using it 'whack' with the ruler."

"That's horrible! How did you know—you guys really liked to talk about stuff? That's horrible!" Red exclaimed.

"Yeah, it's really the worst thing that ever happened to him. He survived Victorian English schooling. This whole making him Robo-cop with him trapped inside should be nothing," Faith laughed.

"That's what this is, isn't it?" Willow was actually asking her a question, " But why? Why would someone—the government-- do that?"

"I think it's like Connor said, they wanted his knowledge, his—his specialness, so they couldn't fully destroy him. It's also pretty fucking clear that these people want vengeance."

"The government? Wants vengeance? N—no. Why would they want vengeance on—The government is a whole system, a network, with—with checks and balances," Willow said.

"No matter how big the government is it's made up of people, and people want vengeance. He escaped from them once before, right? That probably pissed some pretty powerful people off," Faith said.

"Well, not all powerful people---I know some people who work for the government and they wouldn't…" Red stammered, "Anyway, I've gotta tell you something you won't like."

Red paused waiting for Faith to speak.

"I don't think anything you have to say could make me feel worse," Faith said.

"Yeah, well, um. I've been practicing a spell to try to regenerate a new eye for Xander," she said and paused as if Faith was going to ask a lot of questions or something.

"I—I've been very careful with it. I didn't want to tell anybody about it and get people's hopes up or make them worry. You see there are certain spells I feel safe doing, non-aggressive ones that never caused me much trouble. It's just fighting evil, or anything with spells, it's hard," again she paused as if waiting for something.

"The thing is that it doesn't work in regenerating new tissue without draining someone else's life force—and—and I don't ever want to do that—again. But, I'm thinking that since Spike's hand is just unattached and---"

"You want to drain my life force to get Spike's hand back on? Well, let's go. What do you need? Blood? You need to go inside me? In my mind? My soul? Just tell me what to do," Faith said.

"Um, ew," Red said, "I don't need—inside you—no. I don't need anything. It will probably work on its own, and you are really in love with him aren't you? This wasn't about doing him because he loved Buffy, or because he's a hot soul boy. You really fell in love with him. You'd do anything to get him back, you'd kill for it, but you'd kill him before you let him hurt Angel's son. I—I don't know if I—That's great. I mean, it's not great it' s terrible. I mean you, you're great, but I think you're wrong about my ass. It's neither all-powerful or narrow."

"Jesus, Red. You make my head spin. So even you can tell Spike is hot, huh?" Faith said.

"Um, I just was saying that was why you, or it wasn't why you…"

The girl seemed to be apologizing to Faith, and challenging her, and sympathizing with her, but Red wasn't sure about any of it. Spike may shift gears really fast, but they always made sense and he was always so sure of all of them.

"I'll just respond to the part I can get a hold of. I'm not that great," Faith said, "I should be willing to kill him if he went after anyone like that, and I don't know if I could, even though it's not him that's doing it anymore. And now all I want is him back, I don't even care about chasing down or investigaiting just who did this or why they did like you.. That's what a real hero would do, and I'm not one. All I want-- all I wanted was him back. So, I'm not that great."

"Faith, no," she said, "I've been in love before. I chased down vengeance for love and that was wrong. You're just—Do you hear a helicopter? "

"Yeah, I do," Faith said, "It's them. It's the government guys. They're here to get him back."

"Oh no!" Willow said, "This is all my fault. I should have remembered, last time they had a tracking device in him."

"No worries," Faith said and grabbed her gun to load it with real bullets, "I'm going to kill all those motherfuckers the minute they even think about coming in this house."

Faith rose and left the room as she heard the machine-gun like rhythm of the helicopter come closer.

"Oh," she heard Willow say, "Oh no."