Summary: After Faith accidentally kills Finch, things take a different turn and Faith winds up in the hospital while Buffy desperately tries to keep her from disaster.

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters portrayed here, they remain the property of their respective owners/creators.

Rating: PG-13, for violence and language.

Time Frame: "Bad Girls/Consequences" (alternate timeline).

Archiving: Be my guest, but e-mail me ( to let me know. . .I like to know where stuff I write ends up and I might want to see what else you've got.


Part I

Buffy's face contorted as she hauled off and struck Faith in the jaw, causing her to reel back for a moment before smiling wickedly and commenting, "There's my girl."

Buffy's eyes widened with revulsion at what Faith's taunting had brought her to, then turned away and replied, "No. . .I'm not gonna do this." Her face tightened with the effort of forcing down the rage that Faith was causing in her.

Faith smiled coldly and intercepted Buffy as she taunted, "Why not? It feels good. . .Blood rising-"

When she looked back at it later, Faith was utterly unable to remember clearly about what caused her to act as she did as she spotted the large crates directly above them being released to drop on them. The only thing she could remember without any doubt was shrieking, "Look out, B!" as she forcefully shoved Buffy out of the path of the falling crate and tried to avoid it herself.

She was not entirely successful: the huge crate struck her a glancing blow, and there was the sound of breaking bone as Faith was knocked ten feet away into a heap. She looked up blearily and saw Buffy facing Trick and three other vampires, while another one was cautiously moving towards her. She painfully dragged herself to her feet: the pain told her that her left arm was badly broken, along with at least three ribs. In spite of those little problems, she managed to deliver a feral grin that stopped the advancing vampire for a long moment.

There was no way she was letting B have all of the fun.

Buffy had taken a few hard punches, and she was fighting in a slight haze as she attacked the three vampires in front of her. She could see that Trick was holding back, waiting to see what would happen, and that Faith had managed to get up and face the vampire threatening her, in spite of the fact that her left arm dangled uselessly, clearly broken. She set her mouth grimly and redoubled her efforts: Faith wouldn't last long without help.

Faith knew that she wouldn't be very effective defensively with one arm out of commission, and she saw no reason to waste any time. She moved forward, ignoring the pain screaming from her ribs as she threw a nasty right cross, knocking the vamp back into a pile of boxes. As he struggled to regain his bearings, Faith tripped him, knocking him sprawling on his back. He had only a moment to contemplate his predicament before a stake pierced his heart, resolving the problem.

Faith looked at the dust with satisfaction, only to turn right into a hard punch that sent her staggering back into some more crates. She looked over and saw Trick looking at her smugly. She met his eyes with a contemptuous glare and commented, "That's the best you can do? Kakistos must have been scraping the bottom of the barrel when he took you on as his head lackey."

Trick's eyes flared with anger for a moment, then turned mocking as he replied, "Maybe. . .but I'm good enough to kick your gimpy ass, Slayer." He moved in for the attack, and Faith found herself being overwhelmed. . .the handicap of the broken arm was just too much, along with the stabbing pain from her ribs. After a few moments, Trick seized her by the throat, and began leaning forward, whispering, "Let me know if you feel this, Slayer." Then there was the meaty sound of a stake biting through cloth and undead flesh, and Trick only had time for a brief howl of rage before bursting into dust, revealing Buffy's concerned face. Faith managed a sickly smile as she muttered, "We sure showed them, didn't we, B?" before collapsing into a heap at Buffy's feet.

* * * * *

The first thing Faith was aware of was the sound of whispering voices. Annoyed at not being able to hear clearly, she struggled through what felt like a blanket of sensory deprivation as she struggled back to consciousness. The voices grew clearer, and Faith could hear Buffy asking, "So, enough with the medical mumbo-jumbo, Doctor Baines. . .is she going to be all right?"

Faith could hear the faint annoyance in the doctor's voice as he replied, "As I've been trying to tell you, Miss Summers, your cousin Faith will be just fine. The break in her left humerus was clean, and the bone should heal just fine, as should the ribs. Remarkably, there was no internal bleeding, as might otherwise be expected from such an injury. . .she's a very lucky young woman. We should be able to release her for bed rest at home in a few days, but I'm relying on you to make sure she takes it easy. . .injuries like these can still cause complications if proper precautions are not taken."

Faith could hear the smile in Buffy's voice as she replied, "Faith has always been a quick healer, Doctor. . .I think she'll be just fine." Faith could hear the doctor mumbling about fools who ignored medical advice as he departed, and she opened her eyes, seeing Buffy watching her. Faith smiled faintly and commented, "That doctor sounded seriously annoyed, B. . .he won't hold out on the pain medication now, will he?"

Buffy moved over to Faith's bedside, pulling up a chair as she asked, "How do you feel?"

Faith sat up a little, noting the cast on her left arm and feeling the pressure bandages around her ribs. She grimaced and replied, "Most definitely not five-by-five. . .but I'll live, I guess." She smirked at Buffy and commented pointedly, " 'Your cousin Faith'?"

Buffy shrugged with an embarrassed look on her face and replied, "It sounded better than 'my fellow Slayer who was trying to goad me into beating the crap out of her before a crate fell on us.'" She frowned and commented, "You had me worried, Faith. If you hadn't been able to hold off Trick until I finished off those vamps. . ."

Faith smiled with effort and replied, "No fancy-dressing, smart-mouthed vampire is going to punch my ticket, B." Her face darkened, and she looked away, commenting, "Of course it might have been better than waiting for Wesley and his goon squad to come and get me again."

Buffy saw the desolate look on Faith's face, and she wasn't going to let it stay there. "Faith. . .look at me, please." Faith mechanically turned back to Buffy, who continued, "Faith, they're not going to take you, period. I've been in touch with Giles, and he passed the word on to Wesley: if they even try to pull that stunt again, the Council can go on permanent holiday as far as I'm concerned. . .I won't be working for them any more. Just to make sure, one of us will be waiting in front of your door until you're ready to check out."

Faith raised an eyebrow and commented, "All of that for me?"

Buffy smiled and replied, "That, and because we're all seriously pissed off at the Council for the crap they've put us through in the last month. Unless they get their act together, we'll be better off without them."

Faith nodded and laughed, responding, "No argument there, B. . .but we've still got the same problems we had when that crate squished me. Even if you can prevent Wesley the Weasel from spiriting me off to the Mother Country, maybe it would be best if I just got on that freighter. We're too different. . .I don't see how we can make it work. We can save each other's lives until doomsday, and I still don't see anything changing."

Buffy tensed, and she locked eyes with Faith as she replied, "Faith, it's not about being perfect. . .we've all had our screw-ups. The point is to learn from them and move on. . .and maybe throw in a few groveling apologies where they're called for, like maybe to Xander, for example." Faith frowned at the reminder of the incident in her motel room, and Buffy saw that she was tuning out. She sighed and pulled out the object she had stopped at home to pick up. She put it on Faith's lap, and the younger Slayer blinked and asked, "What's this, B?"

Buffy took a deep breath and replied, "It's exactly what it looks like, Faith." Faith reached out with her good hand and lifted the small book so that she could see the words on the cover: "My Diary", and the angular signature, "Buffy Summers."

Faith blinked in astonishment and stared at Buffy for a long moment before asking, "Let me get this straight. . .it's been like pulling teeth to get you to talk about anything personal in the four months we've known each other, and now you're handing me your diary. . .what gives?"

Buffy sighed and replied, "Because it's the only way I can think of to get to you, Faith. I've never shown it to anyone: not Giles, not Willow or Xander, and definitely not my mom. . .and I would appreciate it if you didn't tell them I'm letting you see it. . .I don't want to hurt their feelings. Also, if any of it gets repeated to someone else. . .well, Cordelia will be getting serious competition as the Queen Bitch of Sunnydale High." She turned away and concluded, "If you still feel the same way after you're done, I'll support your decision and help you as best I can." She nodded to Faith and left.

Faith stared at the small book for a long moment, then raised her knees so as to make it easier for her to turn the pages with one hand. She smiled cynically at Buffy's attitude; sure, it was a nice gesture, but how was B expecting her to react, anyway? After all, it was just words on a page. . .what could they do for her? She opened the diary and began reading:

March 12, 1997

"A whole new beginning". . .yeah, right. Mom drops me off at Sunnydale High, and I'm figuring that I can go back to living a normal life. . .no such luck. I'm not there two hours when some tweed-covered librarian is dropping a book with "Vampyr" on the cover in front of me. I tried to blow him off, but next thing I know there's a dead body in the locker room, and I need to see tweed guy to find out what's going on. He gives me the whole boring speech that Merrick gave me about me being the Chosen One, yada, yada, yada. . .doesn't he get it? I've had it with all of that crap. So I'm at this club, and what happens? Vamps drag off two of the few friends I managed to make here on my first day. So I pummel these vamps, save one of my friends and lose the other one, and meanwhile some broody hottie shows up and keeps pushing all of this destiny crap on me. . .I just can't win. So I end up in this nasty battle to the death with some big vampire who's having a suckfest at the dance club to let loose his boss. . .some wanna be big shot called the Master. . .on the world and end it all. * Sigh * Anyway, fortunately this vamp is as dumb as he is strong, and I con him into a nice easy staking. Then I give the other ones in the room a nasty stare, and they all disappear like Vanilla Ice's career prospects. I just can't get away from this crap. . .oh well, I met some nice friends in the deal, and they're cool with the whole Slayer thing, so that's a plus. Willow is a sweet girl who is like the biggest brain at the entire school. . .nice for a homework challenged girl like myself, and Xander is an OK guy. . .kinda goofy, but he followed me down into some really nasty sewers to help rescue his buddy Jesse. . .who ended up as a vampire. Xander took it badly, but he was right there at the club with me, fighting the vamps and ended up staking his former bud in the deal. . . harsh. Giles, my new Watcher, has got to be the straightest human unit on the planet, but he's OK, I guess. . .I evidently don't meet his idea of what a Slayer should be, so he's going to try to straighten me out. . .we'll see about that.

Faith finished the entry and laughed to herself. . .this was Buffy? Miss High and Mighty, Older and Wiser Slayer was writing this less than two years ago? She shook her head and thought * You can never know about people, can you? * She turned a few pages ahead, looking for a particular entry, and began reading again:

April 12, 1997

Angel is a vampire.

I'm sitting here, writing this, and I still can't believe it. He saved me from these three seriously leather and metal obsessed vamps who went by the deeply original name, "The Three." We got away and made it to my house. He was hurt, so I helped bandage his wound and . . .God he looks great without a shirt on. Anyway, I stashed him in my house overnight because of the three pissed off vamps wandering around outside, and I found him still in my room when I got back. He was nervous. . .told me that he shouldn't be around me. . .and that he wanted to kiss me. Before I knew it, we were. . .his lips are so soft and cool. . .and I found out why they were so cool when he pulled back and turned away from me. I pulled him back. . .and saw the face of a demon. I screamed as loudly as I ever have, and he dove out of my window. . .Mom came, and I lied to her about seeing someone at the window. She bought it, but I can't sleep. Why did he help me. . .why didn't he kill me, or worse? I could have woken up this morning in serious need of a suntan and looking for the nearest blood bank, but I didn't. Damn it, having to fight monsters is bad enough. . .trying to understand what they are thinking is worse. I need to talk to Giles, Xander and Willow. . .they'll know what to do.

April 14, 1997

I thought that understanding what was going on would make it easier. . .I was wrong. Giles came up with the 411 on Angel. He's 240 years old, and was a horrible monster for most of those years, then for some reason he stopped killing and came to the States. When Giles told me, I was ready to at least talk to him. . .find out what in the hell was going on. . .until I found him holding my bleeding mother in his arms, staring at me with those evil yellow eyes.

I introduced him to the plate glass window in the living room, then told him that he wasn't welcome there any more. Mom made it through O.K., thank goodness. . .though she was confused. I couldn't believe how stupid I had been. . .I let him get inside, and he had nearly killed Mom. . .I grabbed the crossbow that Giles had just finished getting me up to speed with and went after him with murder in my heart.

I found him in the Bronze, and after a scuffle I had him dead to rights. His face turned human and he taunted me to finish it. I would have. . .but I needed to know. I asked him to justify himself. . .and he was blunt about what had happened to him. He was a monster who picked the wrong victim one night. . .and her relatives restored his soul. The guilt of what he had done during those years was naked in his eyes, though he admitted he still had the urge to kill. . .which was why he had been unable to tell me that he hadn't attacked Mom. We had just come to that little understanding when that bitch Darla showed up and started whining about how terrible it was that Angel had abandoned her after she had turned him and they had been together for years. Like I cared. I pointed the crossbow at her, and she pulled out two big ugly pistols and shot Angel before trying to blow my kneecaps off. That sucked. . .Giles and the others arrived and tried to distract her, but I was starting to feel like I had wandered into one of those shoot-em-up computer games when Angel snuck up behind Darla and staked her. I'll never forget the look of complete shock and betrayal on her face when she turned to him and whispered, "Angel?" before she burst into dust. He just looked at me for a minute, then walked into the darkness and vanished.

He showed up tonight at the Bronze, and we talked. . .I know I can't see him any more, no matter how much I want to. It's just too complicated. I hope he'll be all right.

Faith stopped and shook her head. * Willpower can be a bitch, B. . .it can abandon you when you need it most. . .and you definitely could have used it with Angel. * She yawned, and realized that it was late. She put the diary in the bedstand drawer, turned off the light, and instantly fell asleep.

. . .to be continued

As always, comments are welcomed and desired