Road to Redemption (Series #2) – a Faith Series (takes the place of season 5 of BtVS)

By: Monet

AUTHOR'S NOTE Though this season is based off of the actual season five of "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer," I have taken a LOT of liberties from the original idea that is Joss Whedon's. Furthermore, this particular episode is based off one of the actual episodes from season five. Ya' know, just for fun...

EPISODE THREE: Pieces of Me

Xander Harris walked up the stairway of his dormitory at UC Sunnydale as quietly as his tired legs could carry him. It was past one in the morning and his already blurry eyes and aching body were magnified ten-fold by this hour of the night. The only consolation to everything was that Anya had gone to sleep in a somewhat content state; it would take another talk or four to really work things out, and even then, it may not be ironed out totally.

But after tonight's battle, Xander would do what it took to make sure Anya was okay.

The other consolation was the one waiting back at his dorm room. The talk in the waiting room with Faith sent more than warm fuzzy feelings through him. Well, he could honestly say the feeling he had were 'warm' if not 'hot'... Still, to see her here, to hear her say what she had said, especially to the fact she was staying here for as long as he wanted, it was nearly surreal to him.

The smile, though somewhat fatigued, came to him as he came up to his door. Turning the knob, knowing she hadn't locked it, he stepped into the quiet, dark room. As he shut it softly behind him, he spotted Faith snoozing peacefully on his bed. She still wore the same clothes she had on earlier.

The poor Slayer must've been tired as all out. He stepped up to the bed, taking a peek at her face. The mark the out of control hammer had left behind was nearly gone from her forehead, her Slayer healing abilities taking care of it.

He couldn't help but just stare at her fiercely beautiful face. Beneath all the leather and toughness, he knew the Faith inside. Granted, before she returned to Sunnydale this time, the Faith he was experiencing wasn't all that fun. But she was working through issues, and he had to give her the time and space to resolve it. Plus, they were in a relationship, which was on a level that neither of them had experienced with each other before.

But DAMN, how he had missed her. He found himself squatting down next to where she lay and reaching out to brush the few strands of hair that had fallen upon her face.

It still amazed him what Slayers could or couldn't sense. At that moment, he kind of wished he did because before he knew it, her hand shot out from where it rested and gripped his wrist, tightly. She bolted out of the bed without much thought and pushed him back into the wall.

"Ow..." Xander muttered, grimacing in pain.

Faith stared at him in shock, wiping at her eyes as if not believing what she was seeing. "Xander? Shit, what the hell are you doing?"

"Not attacking you, promise," he said, smiling through the sharp pain the wall meeting his back brought. "And yet with the bone crushing grip..."

Faith realized she was still holding his wrist and quickly let go. "Shit, sorry..." She rubbed both her eyes. "Don't sneak up on me like that."

"Wasn't really with the sneaking," he said, rubbing his wrist. "Just... was slipping in."

"I'm... not used to people comin' into the room is all," she admitted, running her fingers through her hair. "Paul usually keeps to where he's supposed to be."

"It's been... awhile, I know," Xander murmured. "Plus, wouldn't it be kinda creepy if he didn't keep to where he's supposed to be?"

She watched as he continued to rub his wrist and she reached out and touched his hand. "Sorry 'bout that," she told him in slight embarrassment.

"No big. And hey, good to know you still have those cat-like reflexes," he teased.

She pulled back her hand, her eyes slipping away. "So, how went the chattin' with Anya?" she asked.

Xander frowned a bit at her reaction and decided to stop rubbing his wrist. She had a long day, and who wouldn't be in a semi-bad mood after a nice, long sleep? "Uh, well, about as good as telling your ex how everything isn't gonna work out on top of slamming a crowbar through her."

"That good, huh?" She smiled at him weakly then glanced back at the bed.

"I... disturbed you from a nice, deep sleep didn't I?"

She looked up at him. "Wasn't all that nice. I was alone in the damn bed."

He lifted his brows at her. "Well, I can definitely fix that, if you want."

Faith's smile remained slightly strained but she took his wrist and pulled them both back onto the bed. "I just want you here," she said quietly.

He gave one nod. "Of course. Anything." He crawled under the covers with her, seeing that she didn't want anything more than just to be side by side on the bed. He didn't protest, not one bit. But he still felt the slight hesitation from her.

She turned her head, kissed him lightly on the lips then spooned up next to him, facing away from him.

He stared at the back of her head a moment but didn't say anything. He just held her tight until the morning rolled around...

Classes felt like they were in the way the next day. He thought about skipping them but two out of the three had quizzes he had barely studied for. Still, he told himself he would do well this year – after all the trouble Willow and Giles had gone through in getting him into the school to begin with.

But with Faith in town and everything that had happened yesterday, his mind wasn't on classes. It was on her. Wanting to see her again. He had left her a note so that when she woke up, she would know to meet him in the quad after his last class.

The final class ended and he met up with Willow Rosenberg and Tara Maclay outside the classroom. "Hello, ladies," he said with a smile.

"Hey there, guy," Willow greeted him back. "How was the quiz?"

"There was a quiz?" He glanced back at the classroom.

"Xander..."

"I'm of the kidding Will. It's good. It's done. And I'm happy."

"Somehow, I think you finishing a quiz isn't what's giving you the LARGE happy." She gave the blond witch a knowing look.

Tara giggled.

Xander nudged the redhead. "Hey, what can I say? I've got good reason."

"Right. Starts with 'F' ends with '-aith'?" But she shared his happiness because HE was happy. "I ever tell you how still of the weird it is with the two of you?"

"Not enough times. Not enough times." He stopped once they reached a split in the walkway. "Later, girls."

"Bye, Xander," Tara replied with a wave.

A few minutes later, Xander found Faith sitting at a table, feet propped up on it, reading what looked like the UC Sunnydale newspaper. He stood there a moment before glancing behind her then coming up to her and punching her lightly in the arm.

"Punch buggy blue," he told her.

She turned slightly to see the Volkswagen Beetle pulling out of a parking space. "Damn," she said as she grinned up at him "I'll get you next time."

He brightened even more, seeing her mood seemed better than this morning. Plus, he couldn't resist those dimples of hers.

"Hey, stud," she greeted him, pulling down the paper.

Putting his finger up to his lips, he slid in the seat across from her. "Shhh, you'll reveal my super, super secret power of stud-ism. It's a power I keep very well hidden according many, many people." He set his book bag on the table and leaned forward. "Everything cool?"

She looked over at him. "Yeah, five by five. How were classes?"

"Oh, the usual. Reminds me why I hated high school so much." He sighed, a little too dramatically.

Catching that, she rolled her eyes but continued to grin. She stood up, putting the paper on the table.

Xander watched her. "Uh, was that the extent of our visit today?"

She laughed as she came over and sat down on his lap when he leaned back. "Nope," she purred. "Sorry to disappoint." She leaned in and kissed him. "You didn't kiss me 'hello.' I'm damn well making up for it."

"Uh, no disappointment here." He kissed back, feeling her returning his gesture. He was more than having a happy at the moment, which indicated how much he really missed her. "Mmm, Faith..." He could feel her getting even more into it, her hands reaching under his shirt as she leaned closer into him. He knew the students around him were making their act a show to break up their study sessions. "Faith... wait..." He leaned back more in the chair, pushing at her slightly. "Public arena."

"And that mattered to me when?"

"True... But I can tell you want more than kissage and so maybe we should wait until we're... in private let's say."

"Boy, you now how to shoot a girl down where she sits, dude." But she grinned, kissing him once more on the lips. She began to move off his lap, but he wasn't releasing her.

"Whoa, hey, where do you think you're going?" he asked.

"Hey, by me sittin' here, it's still in the PDA law."

"No, no, no. This, this I can handle. This, me likes. Only... have you been putting on some weight?" he asked, playfully shifting in his seat.

Faith shook her head with a grin. "Yeah. It's called muscle, and I could use it and knock you into next week if I wasn't so comfortable in my own damn skin."

He laughed. "You know I'm kidding." He kissed her on her bare arm. "I missed you," he couldn't help but say to her quietly. "Don't know if I told you that enough."

Faith's face grew solemn. "Doesn't matter. I know." She leaned in again when Willow came running up to them. The dark-haired Slayer looked up. "Red?"

"Guys!" The redhead ran up to them, breathless. "Giles-Giles was attacked at the Magic Box! There was a message when we got back to our dorm..."

"From him, I hope," Xander said, worried.

"Yeah. A demon, he said. But he was kinda incoherent-like. Tara is trying to reach him now. He wasn't answering when I left."

"Where's B?" Faith asked on alert.

"In class. For, like, another half hour. That's why... well, I came to you." She looked at Faith.

Xander's gaze slid over to the girl in his lap and he smiled slightly.

She met with his gaze then glanced back at Willow. "We'll go check it out," she told her, sliding off of Xander's lap. "You and Tara wait for B to get out of class and let her know what the hell's going."

Willow nodded as the two of them went off in the direction of the Magic Box.

Xander burst through the Magic Box's doors. "Giles?" he called when a hand grabbed him from behind, pulling him back.

"Shit, Xander. Slow down," Faith told him almost scolding him. "Who the hell knows if the bastard who knocked him out is still here?" She held him there until she was able to move in first, acute vision scanning the interior of the Magic Box, which was a mess. Part of it could've been from when Anya had come in and attacked, but some of the mess looked new.

Once Faith was all the way inside, Xander followed her in, slowly letting the door close behind him.

The dark-haired Slayer was near the back of the Magic Box when a noise caught both their attentions from towards the training room.

Faith was on it faster than Xander could step forward and there was a slight yelp as something was slammed up against the wall.

Xander rushed to where Faith was and when he found her, she was looking VERY apologetic as a slightly tender-looking Giles was rubbing his throat.

"Jesus, Giles, I'm sorry," she told him. "I'm so fucking jumpy today," she muttered under her breath.

Giles let out a small clearing of this throat. "It's okay, Faith. I'm fine."

"You okay, G-Man?" Xander asked. "I mean, from the boogie man guy that came rushing through here."

"I'm a bit bruised." He rubbed the back of his head. "But he swept in looking for the Slayer and when he couldn't find her, he knocked me out. Which isn't something new."

"Hey, he seemed to know protocol," Xander joked. "C'mon, Giles, go sit down."

The Englishman let Xander lead him to the nearest chair. "I was making sure he wasn't hiding about."

"Lemme do that," Faith said, disappearing into the backroom for a once over.

Xander went over to where he knew Giles kept the ice packs and brought a fresh one to the Watcher. "So, the guy couldn't find Buffy so he came and left."

"Yes." Giles let out a relieved breath when the coolness touched his forehead. "I did get a good look at the staff he was using."

"Before or during knocking you out?"

"A bit of both, actually."

"Nothing back there," Faith told them when she rejoined the two males. "Pretty rockin' training room B's got back there."

"Oh, you like it?" Xander asked, brightening. "I built it – well, most of it. You checked out the dummy? That's all me."

Faith grinned, thoroughly impressed. "Knew you worked well with those large hands of yours, Xander."

Giles closed his eyes. "Let's not go there at the moment, please."

"Damn, Giles, when Xander told me you get knocked out a whole hell of a lot, I thought he was exaggeratin', ya' know?"

Giles gave Xander a glare.

"That's not the point, is it?" Xander amended. "So the demon wanted Buffy then."

"Yes."

Just as the bell over the door rang, Xander murmured, "Generally, when a demon is looking after you, it's not a good sign."

"Who was the demon looking for?"

"Buffy," Xander told Riley Finn as he entered the store. "Surprise, surprise, right?"

Riley stopped when he noticed Faith there. "Oh, uh, hey."

"Hey, there, Soldier Boy," Faith greeted the obviously uncomfortable former Initiative guy. "Long time, no see, huh?"

"Yes. Yes it is." He was clearly keeping his distance from her.

"Hey, Riley, you heard, huh?" Xander asked, knowing that Riley had a right to be uncomfortable around Faith. Last he had seen her, well, she had looked like Buffy.

Riley glanced over at Xander. "About you two?" He pointed between him and Faith.

"Uh, I meant about the demon that attacked Giles."

Reddening from embarrassment, Riley nodded. "Oh, yeah. Willow told me. It's the reason I came here." He looked around the store. "So, what did the demon steal?"

"Besides Giles' consciousness? Pretty much nothing. Giles says the demon was looking for the Slayer."

"Buffy," Riley said, his voice grim.

"The one and only," Faith commented. "But looks like the bastard took off."

Riley frowned. "Okay, so now we just have to hunt it down before it can even think about doing it again."

"Slow down, cowboy," Faith said. "Giles doesn't even know where he ran off to."

"He was rather smelly," Giles commented.

"He didn't happen to ask you to pull his finger," Xander replied. Then he offed the others' looks and turned away. "That was out loud, I realize."

Giles stood up, placing the ice pack on the table. "I mean, he did have a distasteful odor to him. As rank as it was, it still is familiar." He moved over to the books lining up one of the back walls of the Magic Box. "Xander, could you please place the 'closed' sign on the door."

"Sure thing," he replied, moving towards the door.

"What're we doing?" Faith asked.

"Researching," Giles replied, handing her a book.

Faith stared at the book as if never seeing one before. "Fuck. You know how I always hated doin' this kind of shit," she murmured.

"Well, until Willow and Tara get here, I could use as many eyes as possible," Giles said.

"Yeah, yeah. I know. But if my A.D.D. kicks in, not somethin' I can control." She sat down and opened up the book. "What're we tryin' to find out anyway?"

Giles described the demon as best he could. Cracked, orangy skin. Bright green glowing eyes and teeth. And the staff.

After about twenty minutes of hardly any conversation, Xander snapped to attention when the door burst open. He was beginning to doze off into sleep world before then.

"Giles!" came Buffy's voice. "Are you okay?"

Giles still had the ice pack against the back of his head as he looked up. "Yes, Buffy. I'm alright."

The blond Slayer rushed in with the two witches in tow. She took a look around the Magic Box. "Looks like you got things under control."

"Actually, not really," Giles said. "I think everyone but Riley was beginning to doze." He glared at Xander and Faith.

"Um, no. I kinda was, too," Riley admitting getting to his feet and dusting himself off. "Sorry. It's been a rough week."

Buffy came up to him and smiled, wrapping an arm around him and giving him a kiss. She then looked over at the researching group, such as they were. "So what big bad do we have going on here?"

"Big, sweeping, wappy with a staff demony-kind," Xander said, stretching.

"Toth," added in Giles suddenly.

"Okay, and kinda tothy, too... whatever that means."

"No. That's the name of the demon." He showed the picture he found in the book to the others. "This is he."

"'HE' is really ugly," Faith commented.

"Nice and crusty," Willow added.

"So does it say where his favorite hang out place is?" Buffy asked, giving the picture a once over. "Maybe a favorite color?"

"This isn't Teen Beat," Willow teased. "Although, does it say Toth's favorite color?"

Giles gave each of them a quick, playful glare. "NO. Other than saying it's very strong and sophisticated – which was already shown by his staff – it really doesn't say where we can find him."

"We got a name, right?" Faith asked. "I can find where he hangs."

"How?" Buffy asked. She glanced at her watch. "I'm not sure if Willy's place is opened this early."

"Nah, not Willy's." She stood up. "I got other connections."

"Again, I ask, 'how'?"

Faith headed towards the door. "Hey, when you worked with the mayor of the city, you get the connections. I'll be back."

"You don't want me to come with?" Buffy asked.

"It'll only take one of us. The guy's after you, B. S'Probably good you lay low and on alert."

Buffy and Willow exchanged a slight look of surprise with one another.

"I'm coming with," Xander said, catching up to her. "Someone's gotta watch your back. And I'm always happy to volunteer for that." He grinned.

She hesitated a little then, "Alright, X-Man. You're in." She glanced back at the group. "We'll meet back here in an hour."

"So, where we going?" Xander asked as he followed Faith into a back alley behind the Bronze.

"Assuming the guy's there, his name's Morton," she answered, slowing down so she could walk beside him. "Anytime Wilkins needed to track down some information, Morton seemed to know what's the shit. Plus, he kinda had a crush on me." She grinned.

"Oh, well, that's comforting," Xander replied. He was almost tempted to ask if she had... but he quickly pushed that thought out of his head.

"Don't worry, Xander. A crush is as far as the guy's ever gonna get." She glanced around as they moved towards an even deeper alleyway in which the entrance was well-hidden if one didn't know there was an alley there. Moving a few boxes to the side, she gestured for Xander to go in first.

After he did, she pulled the boxes back and hooked her arm through his. "You nervous, stud?"

"When am I not?" he hissed as he lowered his voice. "I know he was probably buddies with you but that's when you were... um, you know, more on his side than you are now."

Faith turned to him, stopping him with her hand on his chest. "Trust me, Xand. You think if he's gonna do something shitty to me that I'm not gonna NOT let him?" She leaned in and kissed him. "And if he does something to you, he's not even gonna THINK about living a second longer. Simple as that." Her hand wandered towards his and she actually held it.

He smiled, relaxing a bit as she pulled him towards a dark brown rusty door off to their left. She came up to it and banged on it five times. "Yo, Mort. Open up."

The door opened slowly.

Faith glanced back at Xander. "Back me up?"

He pulled out a stake from his jacket. "Uh, not sure how good this'll be." But he followed her in.

The room they had entered was very, very musty in every sense of the word. Things creaked from any movement whatsoever, and a lit lamp hid in the corner of the room, giving barely any light to the room.

"Faith," came a voice from the darkest corner. "Long time, no see."

Faith glanced over to the glowing yellow eyes. "Yeah. Too long, actually. How've you been?" She touched a few things absently on his desk.

Xander stood near to the door, gripping the stake as he shifted his eyes around to make sure nothing else was looming in the darkness. The casual chat between the two of them should've calmed his nerves, but for some reason, it really didn't.

"Been better," the hoarse voice said. There was some shuffling from his corner. "You look good. Very good, Faith."

She partially sat on the desk, crossing her arms. Her eyes were still towards the source of the chilling voice. "You've always been too good to me, Mort."

"I don't lie. Especially about beautiful women. I was sorry to hear about Richard."

Faith paused, almost as if caught off guard. It didn't go unnoticed by Xander, seeing her eyes go unfocused for a moment. Then she shrugged. "Hey, always said his antics would get him in trouble one day. Guess that was his day. But that's all in the past, Mort. No need to bring that up."

There was what sounded vaguely like a chuckle. "Now that he's been gone for some time, what could you possibly want to ask from me?"

"Toth. Dude's in town, wants Buffy dead, so we're looking for him."

"Buffy? You've aligned with her once again, Faith? I'm very surprised. The way you talked about her the last time you were here, I would've thought you would've gotten rid of her before ever coming into Sunnydale again."

"Well, things got turned around. If it makes ya' feel better, we ain't best friends. Hell, she'd probably hit you if you called us 'friends.'" She grinned.

Morton laughed a full-on raspy laugh. "And you've brought her friend."

Xander realized he was being referred to. "Uh, hey there."

"Faith, I really am surprised at the changes. First, you are here to help protect Buffy. Now, you've become friends with her sidekicks?" His yellow eyes brightened. "And one of the ones we laughed at about what you said about him."

Faith suddenly froze, her eyes glancing over at Xander a moment.

Xander stared curiously back at Faith for a second before shaking his head and snapping out of what the demon's plans were. "Hold it," he spoke up, walking more into the room. "Look, I don't care what was said about me back then. Like I haven't heard it all before... well, there could be some new ones..."

The demon laughed. "You were right, Faith. He - "

"Shut up," Faith snapped, standing up straight. Her casual attitude had disappeared in a fraction of a second. "That's got nothing to do with what we're doin' here, so let's focus."

"But you know procedure, my darling. We chit chat, get me in a good mood. Then you pay me and I give you what I can." He moved something in the shadows. "We're not done chit chatting."

Xander could see Faith's patience running dangerously low. He came up to her, putting his hand carefully on her shoulder. "Do what you have to do," he whispered. He knew she had a plan coming here, and it had seemed to be going well... until Morton mentioned something she didn't seem to like to hear about. But Xander knew Faith wanted to forget everything about her past here in Sunnydale. It really had taken a lot of guts for Faith to come back, knowing how much this was going to hurt.

Faith sighed meeting Xander's eyes. "Okay, Mort, let's chat then." She turned towards the shadows, her cool manner returning. "How much do I owe you?"

"Depends," he said. "You say you are looking for the demon Toth."

"Yeah. Where he is."

There was a pause. "Two hundred dollars."

"What?" Faith asked, raising her brows. "Shit, Mort, what happened to the $50 rate you used to gimmie?"

"Inflation, you know."

Faith bit her lip. "I don't got that much cash on me," she admitted. She purposely leaned on his desk, making sure her low cut tank top did its job. "C'mon, Mort, give a jailbird a chance. Or at least, a discount."

Xander could see the yellow eyes wandering to where Faith hoped it would. He gripped his stake tighter.

"You know, you were always my favorite among Richard's cronies," Morton said. "You had that certain appeal that most of the others had zero of."

Faith grinned. "Hey, what can I say? It's a natural thang. So, you gonna help me out?"

"Yes, I will."

Right away, she slapped down $75 on his desk. "There ya' go, Mort. Now, Toth. Where can we find him?"

"And what's he in town for?" Xander added in.

"Toth. Yes. His first time in Sunnydale. He came in only today. Looking for the Slayer."

"We got all that from before," Xander said, annoyed now. "ADDITIONAL information might be really what we're looking for, buddy."

"Fiesty, isn't he?"

Faith grinned. "It's why I have him."

"I see. Well, then, the answer you seek is that he likes to roam the yards of junk."

"Yards of junk?" Xander blinked, letting it sink in a moment. "You mean A junkyard?"

Morton grunted a "yes."

"Why does he want Buffy?"

"To kill her."

"Well, that's a given. Okay, how does he intend to do that?"

"Dear boy, I don't know all things. But the main point of this all is that he is looking for the Slayer. He wants the Slayer dead. If for revenge or otherwise, I can't tell you."

"Come on, Xander," Faith said, tugging at his arm. "We got what we came for. Let's motor."

Xander nodded and gave Morton one last glance.

"I'd be careful, if I were you," he called to them. "Sometimes what you think is, really isn't."

"Oh, that's so helpful!" Xander shot back right as Faith pulled them both out into the alley.

The group moved along the path in the junkyard. Each of them had a weapon in hand as they walked gingerly through the piles of garbage.

"This guy better be right," Xander muttered, turning up his nose.

"Well, the aroma does match what I smelled back at the Magic Box," Giles put in, scanning all shadows. "Not that it matters much, or quite possibly at all, but has anyone seen Spike lately?"

"Oh, didn't I tell you?" Buffy asked. "Faith dusted him."

"Oh?" Willow asked then she frowned slightly. "Oh... and I was beginning to like the guy, too. You know, after finding out he can't hurt anyone..."

"Which doesn't mean he wouldn't have tried," Xander put in. "Which, yay for Faith."

"Yeah," Faith replied. "Bet it hurt like shit that the last thing he did for me and B was helping save your ass." She nudged him in the ribs with her elbow.

"Double 'yay,' then!"

"Xander, shhh!" Buffy hushed, finger to lips.

But it was too late. A large avalanche of trash came tumbling down off to the group's right, making them scramble away and apart.

Both Slayers tumbled forward and landed back on their feet. Everyone else wasn't quite as graceful.

"Where is he?" Buffy asked, her keen blue eyes looking around the mounds of trash and old, torn apart cars.

Faith shrugged as she shifted the axe in her hand. "I dunno."

"I'm guessing from behind the avalanche of grossness and disgust. You go the right side, I'll take the left and maybe we can corner him."

The rest of them got to their feet, picking dumped garbage off their clothing.

Willow made a face. "Uck." She looked at beat up box covered in some sort of food and fruit peels. "How can anyone eat this for breakfast?" she asked, holding it towards Xander.

Xander pinched his nose. "I dunno, Will, but I'd rather not add to the already high gross factor."

"Honey, maybe you shouldn't continue to hold that," Tara suggested, also covering her mouth and nose with her free hand.

Xander watched both Slayers split up and head around where the source of the avalanche had occurred. He glanced around in the other directions, ax up and in his hand. "Anyone hear anything?" he asked, quietly.

Riley was trying to watch for any movement in the shadows. "Nope. But he's probably in the direction Buffy and Faith went."

"Good... well, not for Toth," Willow said with a smile.

That's when another noise appeared behind them. Another avalanche of junk came crashing downward towards them.

"RUN!" Giles cried, shoving Willow and Tara out of the way.

Riley ran a few feet before diving to safety behind a large van missing three wheels.

Xander's eyes widened, realizing he was in the middle of it all. He spotted a nook in the large pile of trash and decided that was his only way to avoid being hit by anything else. He dove into it just as the body of a Cadillac fell right where he was standing only 2 seconds ago.

After a minute of the barrage of trash settling down, Buffy and Faith came rushing out from behind where they thought Toth was going to be.

"What the hell happened?" Faith cried, looking as everyone began to emerge from their safe spots. Her eyes wandered, trying to find Xander.

"I think Toth tricked us," Willow said, shaken a little. Giles and Tara were helping her to her feet. "Or... can he be in two places at once?"

"Where's Xander?" Faith called, her eyes darting which way in an almost panic.

An arm stuck out from behind the frame of the Cadillac. "Here!" he called. "Kinda... stuck." He barely fit in the space between the actual nook and the underside of the Cadillac that leaned against it. It was facing nose down. He tried to squeeze his body through what he could.

Riley grabbed his hand and helped him through. "You okay?"

He cringed as he straightened his back. "Yeah. Man, was it stinky in there."

Willow ran up to him then backed away. "Yikes. I think you fell in with some..."

"Shhh," Buffy whispered, hearing something.

Xander turned around to see where Buffy was looking. His ax up and ready, he continued to look around, trying to ignore the foul smell emanating from his clothing.

Faith began to move forward, her body tensed, ready to deal with the demon. "I think it's over there," she said, pointing forward. She darted in that direction before anyone could say anything.

"Faith," Xander hissed. But she had already disappeared into the darkness. His worry for her only lasted a second as a large shadow appeared in the total opposite direction that Faith had run off to. It was a 7-foot figure, wearing a monk robe, hood down. Just as Giles had said, it had a crusty face, glowing green eyes and a staff that was big and scary.

Buffy turned around, backing up at the sight in front of her. "Whoa. Where'd you come from?"

"The Slayer," he boomed. "I will destroy the Slayer." He raised his staff up and began pointing it towards Buffy.

Xander was already off and running, him being the nearest to the blond Slayer. He left the ground and tackled Buffy away from the line of fire. Just then, Faith returned hearing the start of the commotion.

"What the fu - ?"

Toth paused and looked up. Whipping his arm even higher, a blast from his staff shot off at the dark-haired Slayer, taking her by surprise as it slammed into her chest. It sent her into the nearest pile of trash, causing a mini-avalanche.

"Faith!" Xander cried just as Buffy flipped to her feet and attacked Toth with her ax.

She swung at his knees but he easily jumped up and swung down to hit her in the head with his staff. Bringing her ax back up in a smooth motion, the handle met up with the wood and stopped it cold. She was pushing him back but he had the leverage being taller than her.

"Really hate this," she muttered, kicking forward and knocking him off his feet.

Riley rushed up to the fallen demon, raising his ax and bringing it down towards Toth's neck only to be stopped. Just as Giles came to help, Toth brought his feet up, knocking the Watcher away and flinging Riley over to the side.

Before Buffy could reach the demon as he stood, he laughed and disappeared in a shimmer of light.

"Hey! Did I say he could leave?" Buffy commented, pushing her blond hair behind her ear in irritation. "What was THAT all about?"

Xander was digging his way through the trash, trying desperately to find Faith. He feared Toth's beam had really hurt her or... well, he wouldn't even think of it. "Faith?"

The rest of the group joined in, removing all they could as fast as possible to find the other Slayer. Finally, Tara let out a noise of discovery.

Xander went over to where the blond witch was and saw Faith underneath all the trash. He knelt down beside her, gently pulling her out. "Faith?"

"She's breathing," Riley commented, squatting down and feeling her pulse. "Alive and well."

"Except for the unconscious part," Willow added.

Just then, Faith stirred, her eyes slowly opening. "Fuck, what happened?" she muttered, her hand going up to her head.

Xander sighed in relief. There was no way that she was with him for one day in Sunnydale only to be put in a coma (again) or worse. "Thank God," he whispered, pushing her hair away from her face.

She slapped his hand away. "I'm good," she snapped, sitting up. "Geez, don't get all in a tizzle about it."

Xander blinked but nodded. "Okay, sorry. I was just worried."

Riley and Giles helped her to her feet, holding her a bit longer to make sure she was able to get her balance. Faith soon rejected them as she jerked her hands out of their grips.

"I just said I was five by five, guys," she said. "Don't need to baby me."

"They were just making sure you weren't gonna go all timber on us," Buffy said.

Faith raised her brows, looking at Buffy with a smirk. "Why? Worried about me, B?"

"Well, you did just get hit by some freaky rod thing. Tends to make me wonder what badness was done." She was studying Faith closely.

"Look, I'm cool. Let's just outta here." She began to walk off ahead of them.

Xander shared the looks of the others. "She was kinda in a bad mood last night, too," he murmured. "Maybe being hit by some light thing brought it all back."

"Well, keep a careful eye on her, Xander," Giles warned. "At least until I can figure out more on this demon. She may not be 100% and may be hiding it."

"Faith hiding how hurt she is? Unheard of," Xander added in with a sarcastic dismissive swipe of his hand.

"Additionally, Toth is still on the loose..."

"... meaning Buffy is still in danger," Riley said, gravely. He took another quick peek around to make sure there wasn't a sneak attack.

"When am I not?" Buffy remarked, lowering her ax.

"Well, we'll reconvene tomorrow at the Magic Box then," Giles said as they made their way towards the exit. "We should all get a good night's rest and..." He sniffed at the sleeve of his jacket. "Shower."

"Amen," Xander commented. He gave them a wave and ran to catch up to Faith. "So no lying on the feeling okay, right?"

Faith shot him an irritated look then it faded and was replaced by a grin. "Dude, I don't lie." She grabbed his wrist. "C'mon, baby, let's go have us a good time. Night's still young."

"Uh, I've got class tomorrow morning."

"And that means something to me 'cause...?"

"Because ... well..."

"C'mon, boytoy, I just got back here in Sunnydale. You gonna deny me my fun? Brozin' it is something I haven't done in a long time." She took his hand and pulled him in the direction of town.

"Why the sudden want to party?" Xander asked.

"Why not? I just got the shit shot out of me from some demon bastard, and I can't want to dance a little? Looks like you could loosen up a bit, too." She grabbed his collar and pulled him to her, kissing him hard.

When they parted, Xander was in a daze. "Uh... you don't think it'll offend anyone we smell like Ode to Junkyard?"

"We'll dance it off," she suggested. "No one will notice a damn thing."

With that, Xander had no choice but to be led towards the Bronze.

By past midnight, Xander was groggily sitting on one of the couches off to the side of the dance floor. A half-drunk cup in his hand, he nearly dropped it when he felt himself dozing off. He shook himself awake and automatically scanned to see where Faith had gone off.

He had left her not half an hour ago as she kept on dancing. He couldn't keep up with her, as was so often the case, so he had told her he would be waiting. Glancing at his watch, he had promised Anya he would see her. Of course, visiting hours were long past but he had slightly more rights than the average non-relative. Still, he was pushing it.

He spotted Faith dancing it up with about three older high school guys who weren't shy about touching her every which way was legal. Xander didn't like it much but he sat there, keeping his eyes on them just in case it got too far. Although, he half-expected Faith to not have them feel her up as much as they were currently doing.

No, not jealous. Not jealous, he thought. Okay, slightly jealous. But that was typical for an average Joe with a mega hot girlfriend to feel when she was surrounded by a bunch of good-looking pipsqueaks

He spotted one actually laying a hand on her butt, which prompted him to get to his feet.

Not even an annoyed look on her face. Just a grin and a laugh. Then she leaned forward, apparently turned on by the act, and nuzzled her nose into his neck, kissing him slowly across it.

Xander's jaw dropped to the floor then. The cup in his hand followed through, making a nice soda puddle at his feet. He frowned then moved forward, pushing his way through the crowd up to where Faith had just started putting her tongue down the guy's throat, the other three cheering her on and wanting their own turn.

He grabbed the guy by the arm, jerking him off of her. "Hey!" he snapped. "That's not too cool there, buddy."

"Wha...?" the guy asked, dazed. He blinked and looked at Xander. "Hey, man, she's the one who kissed me. Wait your turn."

"Turn?! This isn't a carnival ride!"

"But, boy, could I make it feel like one," Faith purred with a seductive grin on her lips.

"What the heck are you...?" Xander trailed and got in between her and the guy, his back to him. "Faith, what's going on with you? I think you're going a little on the overboard on this whole 'I got shot; I need to party' trend. Maybe you need to get some rest."

"Right," she mocked, running her finger down his jaw line. "Come on, boytoy. Learn to share."

"Share? Faith..."

"Shut up," she murmured, kissing him lightly on the lips. "You aren't the only one, ya' know, Xander. A girl like me has got to have her kicks." She lightly slapped him on the cheek. "Go run along. I'll see you tomorrow... maybe."

Xander frowned, not liking this at all. Something was up. Big time. He took his chance, taking her by the wrist and pulling her out of there. Surprisingly enough, it was much easier than he had anticipated.

He pulled her through the Bronze, the three guys she had been dancing with protesting. But he ignored them, knowing they would just move on to the next chick that came up to dance with them.

They emerged from the Bronze when he finally let go.

She glared at him. "What the fuckin' FUCK were you doin' in there!?" she screamed at him.

"Whoa, Faith," Xander said, holding up his hands. "That's the question I should be asking you."

"Why? I was havin' fun. What's there to ask about?"

"Faith, you weren't having fun – you were practically having FACE. That weirdo, high school's boy's face!"

She sighed, throwing up her hands. "Oh, GOD – you never know how to just have FUN, do ya'? You're a fuckin' square."

"I am not a square. Well, maybe in a rhombus kind of way, but..."

"You know, what? Screw it, Xander. Screw YOU." She pointed at him for emphasis. "Go to your goddamn ex and give her the boo-hoos. Me? I'm goin' back in there." She turned her back to walk back inside.

"Faith! Wait!"

"For what? You to form a wild side? We're done here!" And with that, she moved inside and let the door shut behind her.

"... so that was my night," Xander said when he leaned back in one of the most uncomfortable chairs to grace his body.

"Gosh that sounds very awful," Anya told him. "I mean, you had to walk through a junkyard?"

"Yes, Ahn, that was the worst part of the entire night..." He had told Anya what had happened up until he arrived, but didn't dwell too much on the argument he had with Faith. It just didn't feel right to talk about what was left of his current relationship.

"Well, you certainly stink of it." She twitched her nose.

"Anya, do you think... I mean, am I boring?" he suddenly asked.

The ex-demoness met with his gaze. "Yes," she said simply.

"Oh." His shoulders sagged.

"But it was endearing for me. In a way. Plus, you made it up with the enthusiasm of the sex that followed."

"Oh, well..." He smiled quickly. Question answered. He could always count on Anya for that.

"Why are you so down about this anyway? Isn't this what Faith is all about?" It wasn't sarcastic, not even mean. It was just an upfront curious observation. "You did tell me she kicked you out of bed after she took away your virginity. I'm sure she's done the same for many, many other guys. Maybe even girls."

"Anya..."

"Okay, you can subtract the 'girls' comment, but only for your sake. My point is - "

"I know what your point is," he said, quietly. "I just... I can't just accept that because that's not how she was in L.A. She was... sweet. I didn't see her put her tongue down any guy's throat when we started going out."

"But... you left because she didn't want you to go out, right?"

"Um, yeah. But she was scared and stuff. She even said so."

"I don't think that's the point. Maybe she didn't do any sexual things to other people ... well, guys – while you were going out. But you two were broken up for a few weeks; who knows what she - "

Xander put his hand up, cringing. "Okay, okay..." He leaned forward, placing his hand over Anya's. "I better go. Maybe I can catch her on her way back."

"Assuming she comes back."

All Xander could do was just smile. He stood up, giving Anya one last kiss on the forehead, then left.

Giles was on his fifth cup of tea, pouring over the tenth book he hoped would be helpful in finding more on Toth. It puzzled him that the demon had just disappeared like that. But book after book said the same things that they had already known just by meeting up with him. Apparently, Toth was not a demon that showed up very much.

"Giles," came Willow's voice.

The Watcher jumped. "Oh, dear..." He noticed some of the tea had spilled over onto the book.

"Ooops, sorry," the redhead apologized. "Um, I think Tara and I are gonna go back to the dorm. I have a paper I have to finish writing."

"Oh, of-of course," Giles insisted. "As always, your schooling comes first. I shall see you both tomorrow."

"Call us if you n-need us," Tara said as she gathered her stuff and approached the door.

Giles nodded, taking another sip of his very strong tea.

A moment of quiet and Giles was back into his reading. He flipped a page, skimming the text finding any new keywords. He did a double take when he spotted something interesting. "... halves..." he murmured. Before he could read any further, however, he felt a new shift in the air behind him.

Instead of turning around, he threw himself out of the chair, his tea cup going the opposite direction just as Toth's staff came crashing down.

The Watcher rolled over to look up at the looming demon looking back down on him. "Slayer," he demanded.

"For goodness sake, man, she's not here!" As he spoke, he was reaching for the nearest object, which was some wooden vase. Sure it was probably sacred and rare. But at the moment, it didn't matter to Giles. He threw it as hard as he could.

Toth didn't expect the object and could only deflect it with his arm.

Giles got to his feet and scrambled towards the back room. Right when he was only a few feet from the door to Buffy's training room, Toth appeared, smacking him across the chest. "Where is she?"

The Englishman slid right back into the table behind him.

Toth neared him, ready for a fatal blow when hands grabbed at the back of his robe and threw him against the door to the training room. The force caved it in slightly. He shook his head and looked up to find Faith coolly looking down on him, arms raised and ready to keep going. She stood between him and Giles.

The demon regarded her getting to his feet. "Not the one," he muttered then disappeared.

Faith came over and held out a hand for Giles to take. "You okay?" she asked.

Giles rubbed his chest, wincing as he stood up. "I don't need my lungs, really."

She helped him into the nearest chair.

"Thank you," he said. "My, I think I've seen more of that bastard than I care to ever see." He looked up at her, seeing her continue to scan the room, rubbing her fist in her other hand. "How are you?"

"Five by five, actually." She met with his gaze, calm and collected. "Think I should go hunt him down?"

"I would tell you 'yes,' only I wouldn't know where to tell you to go."

"Right. Why do you think he keeps comin' over to you?" she wondered.

"Because he must know I'm Buffy's Watcher."

"Giles, you weren't helpful to him before, don't know why he thinks you'll be now." She smiled slightly. "Hey, mind if I train in the backroom while you do your research thing? Keep you company."

"Certainly."

"Holler if you need help." She clapped him on the back before going into the training room.

Giles watched her go in, raising his brows. She had definitely recovered well from the blast.

"Hey Giles," came Buffy's voice as she slipped into the front door only a few minutes later..

"Ah, Buffy. What are you doing here? Shouldn't you be resting?"

She shrugged. "Nah. Still had energy to burn, actually. Went on patrol. Any luck on this Toth guy?"

"Um, besides a visit from him only moments ago?"

Buffy straightened. "Huh? He was here? Are you okay?"

"Oh, yes. I'm fine. Well, thanks to the fact that Faith showed up in time to run him off." He nodded towards the training room door.

Buffy glanced at it, a little surprised the other Slayer had come back to the Magic Box after running off with Xander. "Well, good thing then. He was looking for me, wasn't he?"

Giles nodded. "Again, seems like. I had found something on him..." He searched around the piles of books that had gone into disarray when he was thrown into the table. "Oh, damn."

Buffy sighed. "Why didn't he just show up NOW? Hello, here I am! Boy, for some all-knowing sophisticated demon guy, he's pretty stupid."

"Why don't you train with Faith?" Giles suggested. "Maybe he'll show up again and beat me to a bloody pulp. Then you can have at him." He was distracted as he searched the books.

"Oh, yeah. Training with Faith. Um, that COULD get dangerous and possibly very violent, ya know?" She stood up.

"Ah, the life of a Slayer." He quirked a brow, a teasing twinkle in his hazel eyes. "Believe me, you and Faith inflicting violence on each other is much better than either of you inflicting unintentional injury on my poor soul."

"Boy, when did you get all drama queen?" Buffy said with a grin. With that, she moved towards the training room and peered inside. "I come in peace," she called.

Faith was balancing on the lone small pedestal placed in the center of the mat. Her entire body was in the air, including her right arm. "Heya, Buffy," she said, concentration not at all shattered by Buffy's entrance.

"Impressive," Buffy commented, trying not to sound too impressed. The act was something she could easily do, but it was the distraction that always got her.

"Sometimes." She slowly lowered herself back onto her bare feet, slightly bouncing on the balls of them for a second. "Did you check up on Giles?"

"Yeah. Heard about his little visitor." The blond Slayer shook her head. "Um, thanks for being here."

"No prob. So, what can I do for ya'?"

"Giles told me you were in here, thought maybe the two of us could train or something. Got this crazy idea that it would do the both of us some good." She shrugged.

"I'm always up for a challenge, Buffy."

"You sure? Even after you got blasted by Toth?" But Buffy was already removing her jacket, in clothing that allowed her to move freely.

"That was a sting," Faith said with a grin. "Not even gonna pin it on you guys that you left me hangin'. But it's cool." She shook her arms out.

"Left you hanging?"

"Back at the junkyard. Had to pick off the trash off my own self. But like I said, no big." And her voice reflected it not being a big deal.

Fists raised, Buffy still looked at Faith with total confusion. "Uh, you left... like quicker than we could get the trash off of you."

"Huh?"

Acting as if it was as casual as walking, the two Slayers began sparring. And to a Slayer, fighting seemed to be as casual as walking. So casual, in fact, that they continued to talk in almost conversation-like tones.

"Hate to break it to ya', Buffy, but - " She raised her arm smoothly to block Buffy's first hit. "I was layin' pretty in the trash."

Buffy ducked Faith's roundhouse kick. "No. You left with Xander..." She pushed forward, increasing her attack – mainly because she knew she could, unlike when she was with Giles.

"Nope." Faith shook her head just before she moved it slightly to the side to avoid the bottom of Buffy's sneaker. "Should be pissed at Xander for leavin' me, but I ain't."

Buffy was a little surprised at how easily Faith was blocking her shots, probably even more surprised at how she was totally on the defense and not really fighting back. "Faith, I think maybe you were hit a little harder than you thought." She twirled to deliver a backhand to Faith's cheek.

Faith grabbed Buffy's wrist, stopping it cold then used her foot to sweep Buffy's legs out from under her almost at the exact same time, moving quicker than Buffy thought either of them were capable of moving. Buffy slammed into the mat, face first.

"Ouch," the blond Slayer murmured, feeling Faith's knee dig into her back.

"Sorry 'bout that, Buffy," Faith replied.

"ugh no problem..." She brought her legs up, grabbing Faith around the neck and pulling her back. She tossed the dark-haired Slayer back and away.

Faith turned the potential belly flop into another backward roll, easily setting her back on her feet.

Buffy was only half a second behind, fists raised. "Shined up on your fighting skills, I see."

Faith shrugged. "Well, you know... nothing better to do in the slammer."

They stood there a moment, Buffy just waiting for Faith to make the next move. But the other Slayer just stood there, ready for Buffy to do the same. Definitely something Buffy wasn't used to. Then again, changes in Faith had taken place.

With an inward sigh, Buffy charged at her, her right fist coming fast and extremely hard not too far behind the rest of her. She knew the next move Faith was going to make was blocking it so she snuck a knee up into Faith's stomach.

And yet again, Faith blocked both moves at the same time. Then she unleashed an offensive move, smashing her elbow holding Buffy's fist into her face. Spinning around, she tossed the 100lb Slayer across the room like a rag doll, smashing her into the padding along the walls.

Buffy collapsed onto the floor padding again. She pushed herself up and rubbed her cheek where Faith's elbow had hit. "Okay. Seems like I have to brush up my moves more than I thought."

"Sorry 'bout that, Buffy." She walked up to the fallen Slayer and offered her hand.

Frowning and slightly embarrassed that she was disposed of so quickly – and by Faith, Buffy took her hand and pulled herself up. "Since when did you get all formal?" she asked, referring to Faith not calling her 'B' since she entered the room.

"Whatta ya' mean?"

"Nevermind. Well, looks like all that training I've been doing with Giles hasn't paid off one bit." She walked over to the balancing horse and stretched out a bit.

"Eh, we can do this anytime." With a shrug, Faith walked over to the punching bag and immediately began a boxing routine with it. "Wanna go patrolling?"

"I already did a sweep of the town before I got here."

"Still night. Vamps might think all's clear and we know it ain't."

"I'm kinda of the surprised you're not hanging with Xander. I mean, where did you leave him when you two walked off from the junkyard? It sounded like you wanted to go dancing at the Bronze."

Faith stopped punching, holding the bag still. "Buffy, I told you, I was knocked out for awhile at the 'yard. I went to Xander's dorm to get washed up before comin' here and findin' Giles getting attacked. Xander wasn't there, though..." A tinge of worry didn't go unnoticed in her voice.

Buffy stared at Faith for a long moment. "Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I have a bad, bad feeling about this... I think something's wrong with your memory or something."

"Could be something wrong with yours," Faith replied.

"Could be only..." She gestured for the dark Slayer to follow her. They both returned to the main area of the Magic Box. "Giles!"

Giles looked up from his position at the table when the two Slayers re-entered the room. "Are you both done sparring already?"

"Yeah, let's not get into that right now – you saw Faith leave with Xander after the jollying in the junkyard thing tonight, right?"

"Yes." He knitted his brows together. "Why?"

"'Cause I didn't leave with Xander," Faith answered.

"Why, yes you did." He looked at her. "And you weren't quite in..."

"In what?"

"The best of moods."

Faith crossed her arms and stood there, but her face was still the picture of calm and cool. "Tellin' you, I woke up in the junkyard by myself. You guys had motored. Thought it was kinda weird but..."

Giles and Buffy looked at each other.

"Something's up," Faith answered before either of them. "You guys think it's Toth..."

"He did blast you with that thingy," Buffy pondered. "Maybe... maybe it zapped your memory?"

"Or maybe something else," Giles murmured.

Willow and Tara walked hand in hand across campus, heading towards their dormitory. It was after 2:30am and both witches were exhausted from everything that night and the studying.

As they passed the boys dorm, they spotted Xander rushing out of the side door and stopping by a tree, leaning on it as if he couldn't stand on his own.

Willow quickly ran up to him. "Xander! What's wrong?"

Xander continued to lean on the tree. "Bad night," he murmured, almost as if he was out of breath.

"Are you okay?" She put her hand on her best friend's shoulder.

"Not of the really," he answered, bluntly. He looked at Willow. "It's been one of those nights I wished I was old enough to drink."

"What happened? Where's Faith?" Tara asked.

"Back at the room."

"What's she doing there?"

Xander paused. "Think his name is Jack or Jake. Couldn't quite get the name between moans."

"What!?" Willow cried. "Xander, you're not saying..."

"Oh, yeah. I'm saying. Seeing is believing. I'm in belief." He sighed and slid to the ground, his back against the tree. "God, who was I kidding?"

Willow and Tara exchanged looks then the redhead dipped down to his level, trying to be as fair as possible. "Xander, are you sure you saw her? Are you sure it was HER?"

"Brown hair? Hot body? Tattoo on left arm? Which, by the way, was probably the ONLY thing that covered her body. Oh, yeah, I'm sure it was her."

"Are you sure that's what... I-I mean, was she doing what you think she was doing?" Tara asked, quietly.

Both Xander and Willow looked up at her.

"Oh. Yeah, I guess..."

Placing an assuring hand on Tara's arm a moment, Willow turned back to Xander. "There's gotta be ... something else going on here, Xander. Faith, she wouldn't - "

"What? Do that?" he finished. When he saw Willow glance floorwards he side. "Because... she ... would."

"No," Tara insisted. "I-I mean, maybe before..."

"She was acting funny last night. Kinda distant."

"What're you thinking?" Willow questioned him.

"Maybe she's having second thoughts about coming here. About coming here for me, I mean."

"No, Xander. She-she got blasted by Toth. Maybe she's just nothing thinking straight right now."

"She got blasted by him tonight. How does that explain last night?"

Neither girl had an answer for that.

Xander sighed. "I'm not her type. I'm... a type negative or whatever. I'm boring, not nearly as hot as she is. Again, kidding myself."

Willow frowned. "Nuh-uh, mister. None of that is true. Especially with the boring. Something... something must be up. And you won't feel all good about anything until you do the talking thing so I suggest just that. When she's, ya' know, done." She cringed at her choice of words.

"You're right." He gave one nod, getting to his feet. "I'm gonna get to the bottom of this here and... well, maybe not now." He looked up at where his dorm room was.

Rising to her feet, the redhead lifted her brow. "Honestly, walking in at whatever they're doing is probably, um, best."

"I was afraid that was going to be said..." Nothing was making sense to him. Nothing at all.

"Faith, we really, really need to talk," Xander demanded as he entered his own dorm room. His hand was over his eyes as he stepped in.

"So talk," Faith answered.

He split two of his fingers apart, peering through them. She was standing in front of the mirror, fixing the outfit she had put on. Other than that, they were the only two people left in the room. Pulling down his hand away from his face, he gave the room a once over. It definitely LOOKED like something wild had gone on in here.

He was just relieved it was over.

"What is going ON with you?" he asked, closing the door behind him. "I thought me and you were... well, I thought that you, ya' know, loved me."

Faith laughed as she put on her jean jacket. "Dude, you sound like a fuckin' girl!" She turned to face him. "Chill, baby. I'm just doin' my thang. Do you really think I'm a One-Man gal? Want. Take. Have. Discard." She shrugged. "He was fun, but I gotta find me some fresh meat." She pushed past Xander and out into the hall.

Xander stood there then closed his eyes, sighing. He followed her out. "Faith, wait!" He followed her all the way to the walkway on the side of the building before he reached out and grabbed her arm, stopping her instantly. "What did I do wrong?" he asked.

She tried to shake off his grip, but found she couldn't. "Get your fuckin' hand off me."

Xander stared at her a moment and let go. "Sorry... it's just, I'm confused here. Are you saying you wanna break up?"

"Aw, is that gonna hurt your feelings or something?" she mocked with a frown. It turned into a grin. "I'm sayin', I could pretty much have anyone I want to, and I'm still tryin' to get why I'm stuck with YOU."

He actually stepped back in shock. "Faith, I-I thought-"

"And what were you thinkin' with? Your dick or your heart?" She put her fist over her chest, melodramatically.

It was Los Angeles all over again. Except this one was harsher, and it being a SECOND time they were having this conversation just didn't help. But Xander couldn't just let it go, not when she had found him again. After everything they had been through, SHE came HERE. Xander had to believe there was something behind that. If not, he was NOT going to let her off this hook THAT easily. He knitted his brows. "Now just wait one damn minute -"

Two figures jumped out of the bushes behind him. Fangs out, the vampires headed towards the couple, one plowing into Xander the other one, grabbing Faith.

Xander fell forward, skidding a bit on his stomach. He felt the vampire clawing at his back and he lifted his elbow and turned his body quickly, making contact with the vampire's cheek.

The attacker was knocked off, landing on the grass.

Taking the open opportunity, Xander stumbled to his feet to keep the vampire in view while he tried to figure out a way to kill it. That's when he heard a yell and turned to see Faith struggling with the vampire on her.

Struggling?

Xander blinked but the vampire had the upper hand, easily pinning her to the ground. She was thrashing around but it was clear it was getting her nowhere.

"Faith!" Xander cried, clearly confused. He ignored his own assailant and ran at the lone vampire. Putting his entire body weight into the tackle, he managed to throw the vampire off of Faith, punching him a few times as they rolled twice over into the bushes.

Faith wobbly got to her feet, staring slightly wide-eyed at the fight between Xander and the vampire. She stepped back a little before the second vampire came up behind her, grabbing her from behind.

Willow awoke by the sound of knocking on the door. "Hmfrgh," she murmured.

"Honey, I think that's the door..." Tara said, rubbing her eyes. She looked at the clock. 3am. She slipped out of the bed and opened it without thought.

Buffy stood there. "Uh, sorry for the wakeyness."

"It's okay." Tara blinked more awake, realizing this wasn't right. Not that Buffy never visited them, but even the Slayer had manners at three in the morning. "W-what's wrong?"

"Xander. Have you seen him?"

"Not since we left him at his dorm," Willow answered, getting out of the bed. "Why? Has something happened?"

"Not really of the sure."

Faith appeared behind Buffy. "He's not there," she said, worried.

Willow stood beside Tara and her eyes narrowed at Faith. "And, what, you suddenly give a damn?"

Faith's eyes shifted to Willow, taken by surprise. "I'm sorry?"

"Honey..." Tara murmured.

"No. I'm sick of being Bouncy Gal on how I feel about you," Willow told Faith. "First, I don't like you much 'cause of the maiming and killing and the leather, but then, you tell us you love Xander and-and I saw that so I put you back on my 'good' list. And now, you-you go off and start doing the first guy who isn't Xander in Xander's BED!"

"Whoa, Red, I've been with Buffy and Giles the whole time since after the junkyard," Faith stated, holding her hands up in defense.

"What? No. Xander said you were up in his dorm. You went to the Bronze and..."

"Giles was right," Buffy murmured.

"About what?" Tara asked, though not wanting to hear the answer.

"Faith HAS been with me and Giles. The thing about Toth, Giles thinks... well, maybe he made a clone of Faith or something."

"A CLONE? As in two?" Willow asked. "'Cause you know how I feel about two of one person. Especially if it's me!"

"Clone as in two, yeah," Faith answered, her eyes peering around her as if expecting something to jump out at them in the hallway – but totally ready for it.

"Oh, OH!" Willow exclaimed in revelation. "That's Faith's EVIL twin, then! 'Cause of everything I just accused you of doing which sorry..."

Faith looked at the redhead with a small smile. "Hey, no big. Wait, evil?"

"Well, yeah. I mean, she was sleeping with some random guy. Oh, God... and Xander thinks it's you."

Buffy's eyes widened. "Xander..." She glanced at Faith. "If Will's right, he could be in really, really bad danger. You said he wasn't in his dorm, right? Ugh, where could she have taken him?"

"Well, I don't know what standin' around here is gonna do but I'm planning on finding her and taking her down," Faith remarked, moving away from them quickly.

"Okay, I'm gonna help find. Maybe he's still here on campus or back at the Bronze or... God, I don't know. Giles is still looking for what's up with Toth and how to stop him! I told him to call here if he finds anything!" She was backing away as she spoke.

"But... I don't get it," Willow called to her. "Why would he want TWO of you?"

Buffy shrugged. "Beats me! Giles is looking into it!"

Xander slammed his foot into the vampire's chest while on the ground. The vampire's back hit the nearest tree, giving Xander enough time to find a random branch laying near him. He grabbed it just as the vampire recovered and staked it right in the chest, making it explode.

He quickly jumped to his feet and spotted Faith trying to fend off the second vampire. "Dammit," Xander muttered, not getting why Faith wasn't able to fight back.

Suddenly, he saw the vampire being pulled off of her and being tossed a good five feet up in the air and about six feet behind him onto the ground.

Blinking more, he realized who had done it.

Faith.

Only not the Faith who was struggling. Not the Faith wearing the leather pants.

Two Faiths?

"HUH?"

"Okay, game's up," the second Faith replied, staring coolly at the first Faith.

The first one blinked, looking the second one up and down. "What the fuck is going on?" She was glaring daggers. "Get the fuck outta my body!"

"YOUR body? Honey, I'm thinkin' you got your screws loose." She glanced briefly at Xander. "You okay, babe?"

Xander nodded, still in total confusion.

The second Faith gave a single nod then looked back at the first Faith. "Gotta get this done. Can't have an evil version of me runnin' around." She moved so fast, not even Xander saw her hand go out and grab the first Faith's throat.

The first Faith quickly grabbed at the other Faith's wrist, trying desperately to break out. But it seemed she hadn't the Slayer strength as the second one.

"This is on the wild side of wildness," Xander murmured.

Losing oxygen quickly, in a last ditch effort, the first Faith reached into her jacket and pulled out a handgun that she had stolen off someone while at the Bronze. She pressed it against the second Faith's forehead. "Let me the FUCK go or I'll blow your goddamn brains out!"

"What?" Willow cried into the receiver. "Giles, you're telling me that they're BOTH Faith?"

"Yes," Giles answered. "Um, Toth's power from his staff, it-it doesn't create a clone of his victim. It splits the victim in half. One isn't more than the other – they are BOTH the tried and true Faith."

Willow scratched her head. "But Giles, why would he wanna do that to Buffy? Split her in half? And why is the other Faith so... skankier?"

"The splitting is done so that the weaker traits of Buffy, or in this case, Faith, are in one form and the stronger traits, including being a Slayer, are in the other."

"So all the EVOL Faith is really all of Faith's weaknesses rolled into one?"

"Precisely."

"And the other Faith is, like, Super Faith?"

"Um, well, I suppose. She would have the fighting skills and abilities of the Slayer. I guess, untainted as the case may be."

"But again, why with that? That means Faith could be like 5 times better than before and beat Toth's crusty butt." She cringed, mirroring Tara's disgust at the choice of words. "Um, ew. Sorry."

"Because they are both Faith, they are connected. One cannot exist without the other. Toth was making it easier on himself. He wouldn't be after this 'Super Faith' as you put it. He'd be after the - "

"Skanky one!"

"... um, yes, that one. Because she's the most vulnerable one and most likely would not be able to defend herself. Once that half is killed, the other will also die."

"Oh, God..."

"What is it?"

"The Super Faith. She-She was here with Buffy and she went out looking for the Evil Faith, only she's not evil and doesn't know that!"

"You think she'll hurt the weaker Faith?"

"Um, it doesn't matter which Faith it is. Faith'll hurt anyone... I mean, more so if it has to do with Xander, which, I guess me saying the skanky one slept with..." She paused. "Guess not the point. We gotta go warn them. That's a point."

"Yes, hurry. I'm only afraid if Faith doesn't hurt... well, herself... Toth will."

"Faith! Er, the one not holding the gun!" Xander cried, stepping forward. "The REAL Faith!"

"What the fuck are you talking about?" Gun-Holding Faith snapped. "I AM the real Faith!"

The gun was cold against the Cool-Headed Faith's forehead but her manner was just as cool. She loosened her grip but still didn't fully let go. "You might wanna put that away before someone gets hurt," she warned.

"I don't know who the fuck you are," Gun-Holding Faith snapped. "But I'm guessin' me putting a bullet through your head will hurt more than you think."

Xander gasped, slowly approaching the duo more. "Okay, okay... we're obviously all VERY confused. I've seen this type before, the whole twin thing? Only, Willow's twin was a vampire from an alternate universe..."

"Xander, what the fuck're you talkin' about? I AM Faith." She pressed the gun harder against the less hot-headed Faith. "This is some fuckin' poser!"

"How come I don't believe that?" Xander murmured.

"It's cool," the second Faith replied, watching Gun-Toting Faith's eyes widen as she looked right over her shoulder.

Xander saw the vampire try to come up behind her. "Faith, look- !"

But the second Faith pulled back her elbow, ramming it HARD into its nose, caving in his face. Using the distraction on the other Faith, she then pulled her fist forward, hitting her in the face while letting go of her throat.

The first Faith yelled in pain, automatically letting go of the gun. The second Faith snatched it out of the air and turned it around, aiming the barrel at the injured Faith. Meanwhile, her left hand reached into her jacket, pulling out a stake and throwing it from around her abdomen like a knife without looking.

With incredible accuracy, the stake stuck into the vampire's chest and it exploded into dust.

Xander blinked, very impressed with that display of skills. Not that he could doubt her in that respect but still, wow.

"Okay, let's start this again," the second Faith said, pointing the gun in return.

"Wait!" cried Willow as she came running up to the scene. Buffy, whom she had found along the way in the search for Xander, was with her. The redhead had explained it all to the other Slayer.

Both Faiths turned to Willow.

"Whoa," Buffy remarked, stopping at the sight. "Definite Double Mint Twin action, without the actual gum."

"Uh, guys? Explanation Central stop right here..." Xander said. "What the heck's going on?"

A nervous look spread across Willow's face. "Uh, well, I'll explain only, kinda feeling icky about the gun pointing."

The second Faith pulled the gun down. "Sorry, Red."

"Oh, no... it kinda would be BOTH of you who would've been of the sorry."

The rowdy Faith jumped up to tackle the other Faith in anger when she was met by a hand that felt like a brick wall, shoving her back onto the ground.

The second Faith coolly stared back at her. "Stay," she remarked.

"I'll watch her," Buffy volunteered, walking over to the Rowdy Faith.

"Fuck you, B," she snapped.

Xander and the other Faith came up to Willow, who began explaining as best she could to what Giles had told her about what was going on.

"You're just lovin' this, ain't ya, B?" the Rowdy Faith sneered.

"Actually, seeing more than one of you is more unnerving than lovable," Buffy answered. "Just getting used to the ONE Faith."

"You mean the fake?"

"No. I mean the - " Buffy's eyes began look up at the tall figure that had suddenly appeared behind Rowdy Faith.

Toth grabbed her by the hair, hauling her to her feet. "Time to die, Slayer," he replied.

"Hey! Think you've got the wrong Slayer," Buffy called, falling into a fighting stance.

Toth looked at her briefly as the Faith he held struggled almost violently. "No," he said, boldly.

A shot rang out then, the bullet from the gun the other Faith held zipping through the air and hitting Toth in his left eye.

"Huh. That explains the aim," Xander murmured to Willow. "Remind me never to play darts with her."

"Probably a good idea never to play darts with whole Faith, either," Willow whispered back as the Cool-Headed Faith rushed to follow up with her attack.

"Yeah." Xander was taking everything in that Willow had told him. It was leaving him with a weird, cold feeling, knowing that each Faith wasn't more of the original Faith than the other.

Buffy was already on Toth, slamming her foot into his chest to drive him to the ground which he unhappily obliged. He landed right near Willow and Xander, unexpectedly.

The two best friends backed up, Xander keeping Willow behind him.

"Sorry, guys!" Buffy called running to catch up to where she had kicked the demon.

Toth was already on his feet, his left eye still oozing with green blood. He turned to Xander and Willow, growling deeply in anger at the turn of events. He struck out at the two.

"Willow!" Xander cried, pushing the girl out of the way just as he got the brunt of the hit. He flew back, skidding on his back along the ground.

"Xander!" both Faiths in unison cried.

With brows raised, Willow was surprised at both Faiths reacting the same way just then.

The second Faith ran up to the first one, some urgency in her tone. "Gimmie the knife," she told her, holding out her hand.

The first Faith looked at her, almost insulted. "What the fuck are you talkin' about?" she asked. "What knife?"

"I know you have a knife in your pocket. Now give it to me. I gotta save Xander."

The first Faith thought a moment then reached into her pocket, producing the mentioned knife.

"Knew it." She snatched it out of her hands.

"Better give it back! That's mine!"

"Exactly." And with that, she rushed at Toth just as he had swung an arm that sent Buffy face first into the ground. She wasted no time and slashed at Toth's throat.

He gurgled a few times, falling to his knees as he clutched his crusty throat and fell forward onto his face, unmoving forever.

Xander lifted his head just as the cool-headed Faith came up beside him. "Ouch."

"Are you okay, babe?" she asked with worry.

"Yeah. I think so." He rubbed his chest. "I did mention the 'ow' part, right?" With some help, he got to his feet, supported by both Faiths now. He looked at each one of them. "This is a dream, right?"

Buffy and Willow joined them.

"Sorry, Xand," Buffy said, fixing her hair. "Dream it's not. And it's not over."

"Can I fuckin' go now?" the Rowdy Faith asked, releasing Xander when she realized what she was doing.

"No," the rest of them answered.

"So, now that Toth's gone bye-bye, shouldn't things revert to.... Normal?" Buffy asked, staring at the dead body of Toth. She glanced at the two Faiths curiously.

"Uh, Giles said he wasn't sure," Willow answered. "But I think there's a spell that we can do." She smiled. "We just need to bring Faith...s to the Magic Box."

The Rowdy Faith sat with arms crossed and practically pouting in a corner as Willow and Tara were gathering the ingredients for the spell. "I'm fucking bored," she announced to the room.

"I can smack her one, if you want me to," Buffy volunteered.

Giles gave her a slight look.

"You'd like that, wouldn't you, B?" she snapped. "Would love to just keep on showin' me up and up and up."

Buffy sighed, rolling her eyes. "No, Faith." She glanced at the redhead with gritted teeth. "Will, can we hurry it up here?"

Xander stood off to the side, mainly observing the situation. He kept his distance from the group, however.

Rowdy Faith hopped up from her chair, done with this. "I know when I ain't wanted."

"Sit down," Cool-Headed Faith said, pointing back to the chair. "Really don't want you walkin' around Sunnydale causin' trouble."

She grinned, wickedly. "But trouble's what I'm all about, hun. You should know that."

"Which is exactly why I don't want you goin' through that door." Before Rowdy Faith could say anything, she raised her brows. "And if you say 'you can't stop me,' you better think that through."

Rowdy Faith frowned, glancing at the door and then at the other Faith. "Fuck you," she muttered. "Since when did I fucking care about being any part of this stupid ass group again? You guys screwed me over, and you're tellin' me I gotta stick around?"

Buffy and Giles exchanged looks while Xander stared at the ground he stood on.

"I'm not just telling you," the other Faith remarked, leaning against the nearest counter. "I'm lettin' you know if you don't, I'm not gonna be nice about it."

"I mentioned how weird this is, right?" Buffy announced to the room.

"Done!" Willow cried, relief filling the entire room at the single word.

They gathered the Faiths together into the circle Tara and Willow had made in the back of the Magic Box.

Rowdy Faith tried to make a break for it before Willow could even start, but the Cool-Headed one stopped her and held her on the ground with one foot to her throat.

"Let me go!" she yelled, angrily.

"Uh, that works," Tara commented.

"You're quiet," Buffy murmured to Xander as they stood watching.

"Much to be quiet about," he answered. "Still kinda dazed, though. This whole thing with Faith. These two halves being a part of the real Faith."

"Kinda disturbing, isn't it?"

"Not just kind of."

Tara sprinkled the dust-like concotion they put together over the two Faiths just as Willow said, "Let the spell be ended" then clapped her hands together once.

There was a flash in the circle then it went away as quickly as it had come.

"That's it?" Xander asked, blinking at the now one Faith.

"That's it," Willow said, smiling proudly. "There is only one there now." She closed the spell book on the table.

"But all you said was 'let the spell be ended' and did the clapping thing." He looked at Faith closely. "No side effects?"

Faith shook her head. "Not that I can feel, at least." She tested her limbs and movement in general. "Thanks, Red. You're gettin' this witch thing down."

Willow grinned. "No problem."

"Well, you LOOK good and whole, emphasis on the good," he said, though the smile he produced as strained. "Uh, it's late... I need to still go see Anya," he murmured.

"This late?" Faith asked, blinking at him.

"Yeah. Promised her." He went towards the door, meeting with Willow's and Buffy's curious gazes. He just shrugged and glanced back at the room. "See you guys later." Running his fingers through his hair, he went out the door.

Faith stared at the closed door for a moment, confused.

"Faith?" Giles called.

"Huh?" She looked at him.

"Um, are you positive you're alright?"

"Oh, yeah. Five by five." She shrugged. "Just... fucking weird with all these different memories slammin' me. I'll live, though."

"You should get some sleep," Tara suggested.

"Yeah. Sounds good." She went to the door, almost robot-like. "Later."

Once the door closed, Buffy sat back in her chair, blowing out the stray bangs out of her eyes. "Well, that was... interesting." She winced slightly at the bruise on her forehead from the fight.

"Are you okay, honey?" Tara asked Willow, rubbing her back soothingly.

Willow nodded. "No sweat. Who knew that putting someone back together could be a total breeze?"

"Seeing that 'weaker' Faith wasn't Fun Town," Buffy commented. "So don't miss THAT side of Faith."

"It's quite interesting to see what Toth's powers considered 'weak' and 'strong' of a person," Giles remarked. "Faith's temper, her bad language, her ability to say things without thought..."

"But when Xander was knocked down by Toth," Willow recalled, looking at Giles. "BOTH Faiths reacted – I mean, they were all worried and stuff that he was hurt. Is that... weird especially considering the whole... opposite thing we just saw?"

Buffy tapped her fingers on the table absently. "Huh. Guess Toth didn't really know where to put it."

"Put what?"

Buffy looked at Willow. "Love." She gestured on one side. "Could be a strength.." then gestured on the other side. "...but it could be a weakness, too."

"I guess to Faith, it's both?"

She shrugged. "I don't know, Will. Maybe."

Giles frowned slightly. He was recalling everything that had happened since Toth appeared, including the things Willow had mentioned about the fight on campus, and something struck him as quite interesting. His face must've reflected that.

"What is it?" Buffy asked.

"Hm? O-Oh, nothing. Only pondering inconsequential things." He gathered up his books. "You all run along. I think it's been a long night." But even as he watched them slowly leave out the door, he couldn't help but stare, as Buffy was the last to leave.

This whole time, Toth had been asking for the Slayer. And this whole time, they were worried about Buffy as the target. But Willow had mentioned during the fight, it was, in fact, Faith who Toth really had meant to target all along.

Giles couldn't help but wonder what it exactly all meant. With a sigh, he piled up the remaining books and cleaned up for the night.

Xander sat in the quad area of campus the next afternoon, staring at his book. He chewed on the end of his pen, trying so hard to concentrate on the words but his mind was wandering - in a BAD way. He knew he had failed the pop quiz today. Mainly because he had left class in the middle of it, not answering half the questions.

A shadow fell upon him, making him look up. "Oh, hey," he said, forcing a smile at Faith.

"You said you were gonna be stayin' after class," she stated.

"Uh... oh, did I? Er, didn't I?"

"I waited for you for about half an hour when I finally took a peep into a fucking empty classroom." She had her arms crossed, none too happy. "What's up?"

"Nothing," he murmured, glancing back down on his book.

"Bullshit. After they got my pieces back together, you've been avoiding me. You were asleep when I got back... just wasn't like you."

"Yeah, I guess... I have been doing the avoidy thing." He shifted on the bench slightly. He couldn't even look at her, feeling so self-conscious at the moment.

"Look, Xander, I... remember what both halves of me did," she said, quietly. "I'm... I'm sorry. I can't tell you it ain't my fault because in a way..."

"I know."

"But you heard Giles. It was almost the good and bad of who I am, and ... the bad me just... I guess it's fucking still IN me. But Xander, you know I'd never..."

Xander looked up just as Jake or John or whoever she was with that night came up beside Faith, victorious smirk on his face. He made sure to make eye contact with Xander as he spoke.

"Hey, there" he greeted her, putting his arm around his 'trophy.'

Faith took one look at the guy and her bad side – flaring, dangerous temper and all - came out immediately. She grabbed the guy's throat with one hand and lifted him a good foot off the ground, showing no subtly to her capability. "We're having a fucking private conversation, asshole," she growled as he grabbed at her wrist in shock and as she gave his throat a squeeze.

"Faith..." Xander began a little shocked at how strongly she had reacted. He slowly began to close his book and set it beside him.

"I-I'm sorry," the guy choked out, looking down at her from his heightened vantage point, wide-eyed.

Xander stood up and placed a hand on Faith's shoulder. "Aw, look, he's sorry." This time, Xander made sure to look the guy straight in the eye. "C'mon, put him down. I think the lesson was learned. Which not quite sure what, besides buy American, it was..."

Faith tossed the guy away easily, making him fly back a good six feet. Some nearby loitering students watched in amazement. "Get the hell away from us..."

After rubbing his throat and giving her a 'scared shitless' expression, he scrambled to his feet and took off.

Xander watched the guy leave in record time, hearing some clapping of approval, then lifted his hand away from her, but not before she took it gently. He felt her fingers intertwine with his, still amazed at how the hand that could lift a full-grown college guy without trembling from effort could be so tender the next second.

"Talk to me, dude," she stated, her anger suddenly gone from her face. "I know what you're thinkin' and the whole me'd never do that to you."

"It's not even that," he murmured. "Faith, those halves were part of you. And... I get that the stronger side of you is who you really are, but... your other side... I just-I can't help but think that I'm Lame-o Guy to you in some way. You know you could do better, 'cause that side of you said so. There's gotta be something in you that believes it or else -"

"No," she intoned, almost angrily. "Not one part of my body thinks that, Xander. Once upon a time, I said shit like that to push people I should love away. That's a weakness that I still have as you saw back in L.A. That's the part of me that you saw." She pushed him back onto the bench and he had no choice but to sit down.

She sat beside him, her hand still holding his. "I know it's still fresh in your head about what I did to you in L.A. And... yesterday mornin' after the whole thing with Anya, I kept thinkin' about how I DON'T deserve you taking me back, how I'm afraid I'm just gonna hurt you again. Then this happened and... guess I did."

Xander was staring at where she was holding him, wordlessly.

"And I don't know what I can fuckin' do to make all this up to you, how I can prove to you that I'm not afraid any more of what we have. What I did in L.A. and what I did here – and everything in between that I gotta make up to you. I wish I could say 'hell, that was my evil twin sayin' all that shit' but it was ME, the really shitty part of me." Her eyes wandered towards their hands as well. "Fuck, Xander, I can't catch up to how to make things up to you." She paused. "But I'm gonna try."

He looked up at her. "You are?"

"Hell, yeah. Of COURSE I am."

Xander winced slightly, giving her hand a squeeze as he asked the ever-pending question. "So, you... didn't find anyone after I left?"

"What?" Faith blinked at him. "That's a double 'hell, no.'" She looked at him more closely. "You were thinkin' that, before all this shit went down, didn't you?"

"Faith, have you SEEN yourself in the mirror lately? Who wouldn't if you're me?" He tried to smile it off.

But she wasn't sharing it. "What did you hear?" she asked, seriously.

"Uh, from Joe?"

"Joe?"

"I think he's the one who ended up dead in his apartment, his guts all over the place... he didn't sound sexy at the end, but..."

"Who the fuck told you that?" she demanded.

Xander blinked. "His friend, Nick. We... We took him to get information and... he... said stuff."

"And you believed him?"

"Well, he was under a truth spell." Okay, so now he officially messed this all up. "I... I'm sorry. I shouldn't have thought that. I'm Stupid Guy."

"No. You got every right, and you ain't stupid." She continued to hold his hand. "I didn't, ya' know. I... was fuckin' empty," she admitted quietly. "On the blank side. I missed you. Couldn't stop thinkin' about you and it was killin' me."

Xander smiled slightly, not able to resist what she was saying. "Wow, I've gotten you so soft and sappy," he remarked.

Faith's eyes met his playful twinkle and her solemn face cracked into a grin. "Asshole," she said, giving his shoulder a nudge with her hand. "You tell anyone about that, I'll kick your ass."

"Then I wouldn't dare."

She sighed. "Sorry you went through that side of me, Xander. You know that's a side that I was tryin' so hard to bury. The side that was... well, keepin' me from gettin' with you. Betcha wished I was all the other 'cool' side, huh? That side had some sortta manners and shit. Didn't even call Buffy 'B' one time. And damn, was that side focused as HELL when it came to the slayin'..."

"You missed the part where I said that side was more you than anything," he replied with a grin. "But no, I don't wish you were all that side. The way you are right now? Perfect."

"Bullshit," she said with a grin.

"Okay, well, perfect for me. How's that?"

Faith shrugged. "You sure?"

He looked in her eyes. "It's funny – even though that wild side of you said all that ouchy stuff and I thought it was ALL you, I still loved you. So, yeah, I'm sure. I still wanted to be with you and prove to you that you didn't need anyone else."

"You know I don't." She leaned in and kissed him, his statement hitting her hard in the chest. "Just you." It was at that moment she realized Xander really and deeply did love her. The good and the bad. Loving the bad side of her was definitely something amazing and Xander proved more than again how amazing he was. "Sorry about yesterday morning," she whispered as she kept her face close to his. "Had too many thoughts goin' through this head of mine. Promise, I'll make some of it up to you tonight."

He smiled. "I like kept promises."

"Gross," came a young voice from in front of them.

The two brunettes turned their heads and looked at the source.

Faith continued to stare at the light brown, silky straight haired girl with crossed arms staring at them disgustedly. "Who the hell...?"

"Dawnster," Xander greeted the girl with a grin. "Uh, hey!" He obviously was trying to cover up anything PDA-ish in front of the middle-schooler. Standing up, he gave the girl a hug. "What're you doing on a college campus?"

Faith continued to watch the interaction between Xander and girl carefully. Dawnster?

"Mom had to bring Buffy something for her dorm," the girl answered. She eyed Faith. "So, she is so here. And you two were totally making out with each other. Ew."

"Uh, we weren't making out... we were, uh, uh..." He looked at Faith for help.

Faith stood up. "Listen, kid, maybe you should run along to your mommy. This ain't no place for you."

"Don't call me 'kid,'" she said, annoyed. "I told you that before."

"Huh? No, you didn't..."

Xander looked uncomfortable then, putting an arm around Faith. "Yes she did, Faith," he insisted.

"The fuck she did. I don't even - "

Xander quickly hugged her tighter as a way to cut her off, smiling largely at the girl. "Dawn, we're gonna see you later, okay?"

Dawn gave Faith a look. "I still am not okay with her being here again," she admitted. "And... her being your girlfriend? I so thought Buffy was just kidding."

Faith frowned. She was really getting fed up with this girl already, whoever she was. Dawn. There was that name again. Xander had mentioned it the other night. Now... here she was. And why was she acting like she knew Xander? Or for that matter, Faith herself? She hadn't seen this girl in her life.

"Dawnie," Xander warned.

Dawn rolled her eyes. "Sorry. But if she starts killing again, don't come crying to me or Buffy is all I'm saying."

Xander felt Faith's entire body tense at the remark and he soothingly rubbed her arm to calm her. "C'mon, Dawnie, your sister also probably told you to do the 'chance' thing. Buffy more than surely did."

Sister? As Dawn and Xander continued to talk, Faith began to have a bad, bad feeling about this. She didn't know Buffy had a sister. And she absolutely KNEW Buffy didn't have a sister. Even Mrs. Summers had remarked when Faith had first arrived to Sunnydale that she was glad Buffy was an only child.

Something was up. And by the way Dawn and Xander were talking, Xander promising they'd come over one day and play a board game just like old times, it was affecting him in some way. That part, Faith didn't like in the least. She also had a gut feeling Buffy was also involved.

As Xander finally closed out the conversation with Dawn, Faith noted to herself how she was going to get to the bottom of this mystery little girl.

And soon.

-END-