Feedback: Keep it coming, the good with the bad.
Spoilers: Seasons 3 through to 7 in Btvs
Disclaimer: All characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer are
Joss Whedon and 20th Century Fox, for they are the masters of the
universe, or the Buffyverse at least.

The sun set slowly over the city, flooding everything with a rosy red glow. Faith glanced over her shoulder to watch it through the window in her hotel room the beauty of it lost on her, sunset meant only one thing; it was time to go to work.

She quickly gathered her equipment before leaving; she hung a cross around her neck, slid one stake up a jacket sleeve, tucked a second stake into a pocket and finally placed a small knife in her boot. One thing she had realised since starting her travels was the difficulty of carrying weapons from country to country, there was no way she was able to carry anything big like a sword or an axe or crossbow around with her which meant she was left with the bare minimum of stakes and a knife, even those had created some problems but nothing that a smile, a flash of cleavage or, as a last resort, cash couldn't solve.

She had thought about buying weapons in each country and then leaving them behind but that bothered the part of her that hated to throw things away, especially something expensive like a weapon and her budget wasn't exactly unlimited, she could also have got weapons from the various centres of the new Council but she didn't want to because…well just because, maybe she was being stubborn but she preferred to think of it as being independent.

She strode out of her room and headed for the lifts, B's credit card had come in handy, it allowed her to travel in reasonable comfort and stay at decent places in whatever country she was in instead of the roach infested motels she was used to.

The lift dropped her off in the lobby and Faith hit the streets of Sydney. Australia was one of the countries she had always wanted to visit but she hadn't exactly planned to come here, since leaving Rome she had generally headed south and east going through Eastern Europe and most of Asia from Turkey to Indonesia trying to avoid major trouble spots along the way, Iraq and Iran had both been big no-no's. However as an attractive, single, white female travelling by herself she had trouble had inevitably found her anyway, trouble that her slayer skills had had to get her out of even if it meant she was now a wanted fugitive in a few more countries, nothing new there.

As day slowly faded into night Faith worked her way onto the backstreets of the city, on the lookout for anything unusual and also for other slayers, she preferred to avoid them when possible and if she spotted an area was being patrolled by another slayer she quickly headed in the opposite direction.

Her stay in Australia had so far proven uneventful, it didn't seem to be much of a hotbed of vampire or demon activity although she had run into a couple of examples of native demons, at least she assumed they were native she hadn't seen anything like them before anywhere else in the world.

As she wandered down some nondescript backstreet, Faith heard a scream coming from somewhere to her left, she pulled the stake out of her sleeve and began to run in the direction she thought the scream had come from, it looked like work had started for the evening.

Faith walked slowly down the deserted street, kicking an empty can out in front of her. Tonight had been a total bust, there hadn't been a single thing to slay all night, the only action she had found was a mugging and while that had given her someone to hit it wasn't quite the same thing.

She gave the can a vicious kick sending it spinning off into the shadows and sighed, somehow the lone slayer routine wasn't as fun as it used to be, it was getting stale and boring, being completely honest she was lonely, she wanted some company, preferably of the Dawn Summers variety.

Faith tried to veer away from that thought as she had ever since leaving Rome a few months ago, but somehow Dawn always came creeping back into her thoughts no matter what she did, large amounts of alcohol, slaying continuously, dancing the night and day away in various clubs nothing seemed to be able to get Dawn off her mind not even sex, with either or both of the sexes, in fact recently sex hadn't even been able to get her off full stop, she had had to fake it the past few times which was unprecedented for her.

A movement at the corner of her eye caught her attention; she looked up to see a sign for a pub, or bar, swinging gently in the breeze. It was a place she knew reasonably well, it served some decent alcohol at cheap prices and no one bothered her while she was in there, a good combination.

Faith glanced at her watch, it was getting late and she hadn't found anything interesting, she could probably afford to take the rest of the night off and a drink was calling her.

She went in, grabbed herself a beer and sat down in one of the dark, anonymous corner of the pub. One thing she had learned since she first arrived was to take it easy with the local beers, they were stronger then the American beers she was used to and that had led to a couple of embarrassing incidents, so she sipped slowly, savouring the cool liquid as it slid down the back of her throat.

A song came floating over the in-house speakers, loud enough to be heard over the noise of the fairly empty bar. Faith frowned, it was a slow, soft number, just a girl singing over a piano, some local popstar she had never heard of. It was the kind of commercial music she couldn't stand, one of the reasons she liked coming to this bar was because it played a radio station called Triple J that played her type of music, good, hard rock not this crap. Despite that Faith found herself listening, drawn into the song by the woman's soft voice and the slow melodic tune, she lit a cigarette and leaned back in her seat, closing her eyes and gently drawing the smoke into her lungs as she listened to the track.

I've hardly been outside my room in days

'Cause I don't feel that I deserve the sunshine's rays

The darkness helped until the whiskey wore away,

And its then I realise the conscience never fades

Faith snorted bitterly. "You said it sister,"she muttered to herself, neither alcohol nor her nocturnal activities, slaying included, had managed to ease her conscience over what happened in Rome, nor allowed her to forget…

When you're young you have this image of your life:

That you'll be scrupulous and one day even make a wife

And you make boundaries you'd never dream to cross,

Now that was something she had definitely done, crossing boundaries was a habit for her. But falling so hard for another girl was something she never dreamed would happen to her, then again she couldn't really see herself ever becoming a wife either…

And if you happen to you wake completely lost.

But I will fight for you, be sure that

I will fight until we're the special two once again.

The special two, that had a nice ring to it. She could almost imagine her and Dawn as the special two. Faith gave a sad little smile and knocked back most of her drink in one swallow, of course she hadn't stayed and fought for her, as soon as things had got rough she had run just like she had in the old days…

And we will only need each other we'll bleed together,

Our hands would not be taught to hold another's

When we were the special two.

And we could only see each other we'd bleed together

These arms will not be taught to need another,

'Cause we were the special two.

Were the special two, were being the operative word and all because of one stupid mistake she had made, one stupid mistake, that was the story of her life one mistake after another and her life went to hell…

I remember someone old once said to me:

'Lies will lock you up with truth the only key.'

But I was comfortable and warm inside my shell,

And couldn't see this place would soon become my hell.

Now she was stuck inside this hell she had created for herself, full of her own self-loathing and fear and she couldn't get out, she wanted to move on but she couldn't, she missed Dawn so much and she hadn't found anything that could fill the void that Dawn had left inside of her, she would give anything to have her back but she couldn't see any way that was going to happen…

So is it better to tell and hurt or lie to save their face?

Well I guess the answer is don't do it in the first place.

I know I'm not deserving of your trust from you right now,

But if by chance you change your mind you know I will not

Let you down 'cause we were the special two, and will be again.

Trust: that was the big problem Dawn was never going to trust her again, not after what had happened with Rosa. Faith shook her head angrily and set her glass down with a thump, reviewing her past mistakes was getting depressing and she had only gone back a few months, she wasn't nearly drunk enough for this and that damn song wasn't helping any. She finished her drink, stubbed her cigarette out in the ashtray and left, thrusting her hands deep into her pockets. Too late she noticed the guy walking straight towards her, giving her no time to dodge him.

"Hey watch it mate," he said picking himself up off the floor, Faith mumbled an apology without looking at him and hurried off.

The guy stared after her, surprised that a woman had knocked him off his feet so easily, and an American at that. "Bloody sepos come over here and think they own the place, almost as bad as the bloody poms," he remarked angrily trying to regain some of his wounded pride, before heading to the bar for a much-needed drink.

And we will only need each other we'll bleed together,

Our hands would not be taught to hold another's

When we were the special two.

And we could only see each other we'd bleed together

These arms will not be taught to need another,

'Cause we were the special two.

The song's chorus floated after her out into the night air, Faith desperately tried to ignore it and all the memories it was stirring up, walking down the street with Dawn holding her hand and laughing at some joke as the wind blew gently through her hair; sitting on the couch as she pretended to watch the TV but actually watching Dawn cradled in her lap; Dawn coming out of the shower wrapped loosely in a towel, looking surprised and then pleased as Faith whipped off the towel and picked her up and carried her onto the bed; Dawn's beautiful face with that heartbreaking expression on it as she shouted at her to get out, leave and never come back.

Faith ran blindly into a nearby alleyway choking back the tears, she stopped and leaned back against a wall, angrily wiping her eyes. What the hell was wrong with her, she could count the number of times she had cried in her life on one hand, and none of them were over a relationship break-up.

Dawn had been different though, it wasn't the usual casual fling that most of her relationships had been she had actually loved Dawn. There she could finally admit it, to herself at least, she had been, was still, in love with Dawn Summers and that was the single most frightening thing she had ever experienced in her life. She knew why she had acted like an idiot in Rome, she had realised what was happening, how she felt, on some level and that idea had been so terrifying she had gone out and done something completely stupid that had utterly ruined the relationship with Dawn as well as the rest of her life.

Faith walked slowly down the alley trying to get her scattered thoughts under some sort of control so the blow that smashed her hard across the back of her head caught her completely by surprise, sending her flying into a chain-link fence.

Faith groaned and raised herself up in time to be kicked hard in the ribs and fly back against the fence again, she managed to catch the boot as it made a return trip, viciously twisting the ankle, causing the owner to yelp in pain, she lashed out with a leg tripping him and buying herself enough time to get up and find out who was attacking her.

A vampire, young, well dressed and good-looking, well he would have been without the crinkly forehead and dental enhancement, picked himself up off the ground and grinned at her. "A girl with some spirit I like that, it makes it more fun to break you."

"Oh great line like I haven't heard that one before, why can't you vampires ever come up with something original," Faith said sarcastically. "Let's see how cocky you are when I…" she fumbled around in her sleeve, swearing silently when she found nothing; the stake must have fallen out at some time.

The vampire studied her hesitantly. "You're one of those slayers aren't you?" he asked.

"Yeah and soon you're going to be a small pile of dust," Faith reached in to her pocket to pull the stake out, only to find it was stuck in some way, that was one of the problems with wearing tight pants you always had difficulty in getting things out of the pockets.

"I hear once you drink a slayer you never go back," the vampire said ignoring her comment, his hesitation melting away as he watched Faith's struggles. "Having a little trouble there slayer, want me to give you hand?"

"I'd rather you gave me a stake," Faith said abandoning her struggles to duck under his swinging fist.

Faith landed a neat one-two that rocked the vampire back on his heels, following it up with a spinning kick that knocked him off his feet and launched him into a heap of rubbish.

Bloodlust filled her veins as she went to press home her advantage but the vampire caught her by surprise as he stood up and spun around hitting her across the jaw, causing her to crash into the nearby brick wall.

'What the hell is his fist made of metal?' Faith thought attempting to clear her head of the insistent ringing that was filling her ears.

Faith managed to catch a glimpse of a bar of metal in the vampire's hand as it connected once again with her face throwing her off her feet, as she lay stunned on the ground she heard the ring of metal on concrete as the vampire dropped the bar and picked her up, slamming her once, twice, three times face first into the brick wall, he then casually tossed her up against a large pile of wood, she bounced off and landed on the ground blood streaming down her face, the pain from several broken bones shooting through her body and swamping her consciousness.

She somehow stayed conscious, trying to get up but only succeeding in rolling herself over onto her back. A shadow fell across her vision as the vampire climbed on top of her, straddling her waist and pinning her wrists above her head.

"Not so mouthy now are you slayer, I think I prefer you this way," he whispered in her ear before rearing back and sinking his teeth into her neck, burying them into her flesh and sucking greedily at the blood welling up into his mouth.

'So this is it, this is how it's going to end,' Faith thought. 'Killed by some two-bit vamp in an alley halfway around the world.' She felt her strength start to fail and struggled weakly underneath him, the vampire pushed her down harder, growling and shaking its head savagely, forcing its teeth in deeper and sucking eagerly at her rich, red lifeblood. Faith started to lose consciousness, her vision slowly fading away…

I step outside my mind's eye for a minute,

And I look over me like a doctor looking for disease,

Or something that could ease the pain.

But nothing cures the hurt you, you bring on by yourself.

Just remembering, just remembering how we were…

Memories flooded through Faith's dying brain, bad ones starring her mother and the death of her first Watcher; joining up with the mayor and all the things she did for him, the faces of the people she murdered flashed before her eyes; the monotony and boredom of her time spent in jail; then the good memories of Dawn and their time together in Rome filled her mind like the sun coming out from behind a cloud, happy memories, the few that she had, replayed through her mind making a warm glow suffuse her body.

"Dawn," she whispered a tear trickling down one cheek as everything faded to black. One of her legs gave a last spasmodic kick, hitting the pile of wood and causing it to rock precariously back and forth, the vampire ignoring engrossed in getting the last few drops of blood out of Faith's neck. The woodpile rocked one final time before collapsing suddenly, covering them both completely.

Faith groaned as a shaft of sunlight hit her directly in the eyes, forcing reality upon her protesting body. Her head felt like an axe had buried itself into her forehead and was trying to work its way further into her skull, she must have had one hell of a night last night. She whimpered softly and attempted to cover her eyes with a hand but found she couldn't move either of her arms, they were pinned down above her head under something heavy, a brief survey found the rest of her body similarly pinned to the ground.

She frowned and cracked open one eye just enough to see the sunlight slanting down through a gap between two large things that were blocking the sky, probably the same things that were keeping her trapped against the ground.

Faith didn't know what was going on and tried to remember what had happened the previous night; she had gone out slaying, found nothing of interest, gone into a bar and went tripping down memory lane, that had made her all depressed so she had left the bar in a hurry and ran up an alley…

Her eyes flew open as she remembered being attacked, the vamp somehow getting the best of her then holding her down against the ground as it drank from her…then everything went black and she couldn't remember what came after that, she must have come very close to dying before something had stopped the vampire, which begged the question what had stopped the vampire from killing her…unless it hadn't stopped and instead of killing her had turned her into a vampire.

'Oh God, please say that hasn't happened to me,' she thought desperately, closing her eyes against the sunlight as it brightened suddenly. It took a while for this to filter slowly through her throbbing head but finally she realised that although the sunlight was annoying it wasn't painful and certainly wasn't setting her on fire, which ruled out her being a vampire.

Faith breathed a soft sigh of relief, at least that was one thing she didn't have to worry about but that didn't explain where the vampire was and why she was still alive. She craned her neck, the only part of her body she was actually able to move, to check herself over for any obvious injuries and came face to face with a large splinter of wood only a couple of inches away from impaling her chest. She stared at it wide-eyed for a few seconds, working things out slowly and realising that the splinter must have staked the vampire directly through the heart. 'Now that was lucky,' she thought. 'Mind you the way my life's being going I think I deserve a bit of good luck.'

That solved the mystery of the disappearing vampire but unfortunately she was still stuck under what she now recognised as a large pile of wood, probably the same pile the vampire had thrown her against during the fight. After a few second of wriggling her hands around she found a couple of gaps between the timbers and began to push the tips of her fingers through, only managing to get them a scant few millimetres through before running out of breath. She felt so weak, the numbness that had enveloped her body after she had regained consciousness was wearing away and blood was being forced into areas it hadn't occupied for hours, causing pins and needles to race painfully through her muscles. Parts of her body were beginning to wake up and signal their problems as well, her ribs felt like they were on fire as did most of her head, especially her nose and neck and the rest of her body felt like one giant bruise.

She rested for a few minutes before trying to move her hands again, gaining a few extra millimetres before running out of energy. She lay back, breathing heavily and feeling completely drained, the pain from her various body parts was becoming more insistent and was starting to drag her back down into unconsciousness. For a moment she thought about giving in and letting the pain win, let it drag her down into the blessed release of nothingness, no thoughts, no worries, no pain but then thoughts of Dawn flashed through her mind and she felt a new surge of determination and energy flood through her body, washing away her hopelessness.

Faith gritted her teeth and resumed her attempts to break free, she soon settled into a rhythm of moving and resting, moving and resting before finally her hands worked themselves through the gaps, she wrapped them around a couple of pieces of wood and began pulling with her hands at the same time as pushing with the rest of her body. Eventually after a torturous eternity she worked her whole body free and lay on the ground completely spent.

When some energy had returned Faith climbed painfully to her feet, leaning against a wall to catch her breath, she stumbled off down the alley stopping every now and again to rest against a wall. As she walked past a window she caught sight of her reflection and stopped, grimacing. Her face was not a pretty sight, her nose was off at an angle that was definitely not natural, a large black/purple bruise covered one cheek and most of her lower face and shirt was caked in dried blood. She looked sadly down at her now ruined shirt. 'No way I'm going to get that stain out,' she thought brushing ineffectually at the blood, raising small puffs of dust every time she brushed her hand. She stared, puzzled, at the motes of dust dancing in the sunlight before realising with grim satisfaction that she was looking at what was left of the vampire who attacked her. 'Serves the bastard right,' she thought, contentedly brushing off the last few pieces of ash.

She looked at her reflection again and frowned, or at least attempted to frown, stopping when it became too painful. There was no way she could walk the streets looking like this or walk through the hotel, someone would call the cops or an ambulance or possibly both and that meant trouble she didn't need. She had to find a back way into her hotel room so she could get at the medical supplies she always carried with her, luckily sneaking into places without catching anyone's attention was a skill she had acquired very early on in life and she had only got better with time.

Now all she needed to do was to make it back to her hotel without collapsing or passing out along the way. She set off in that direction, feeling better the further she went along, the world had stopped spinning and some small measure of her strength had returned by the time she reached an unattended back door into the hotel.

Faith stood in front of the door and cautiously checked for anyone coming before breaking the lock and slipping inside. She shut the door softly behind her and looked around, the room in front of her was thankfully empty and seemed to be some sort of storeroom, boxes were stacked haphazardly everywhere and everything was covered in a thin layer of dust. Faith looked around for a way out and spied a set of stairs that went up and kept going up seeming almost endless, although that may have been due to her condition more then anything.

She began climbing and quickly realised she was reaching the end of her strength as she stopped to take a rest at the end of each set of stairs. She guessed the storeroom had been on the ground floor, which meant she only had to climb three floors up, Faith counted her blessings that she had asked for a room on a low floor instead of taking the higher room she had been offered.

She staggered onto the landing for what she assumed was the third floor and carefully inched open the door. Seeing the coast clear she closed the door and started walking down the corridor, when she saw a numbered door she stopped to check the number, pleased to see it wasn't far off her own.

Faith finally reached her room, opening the door with her passkey and falling inside, barely managing to make it all the way to the bed before collapsing. She stretched out on the bed, relieved to have made it in one piece, and let her breathing slow. She managed to stop herself before she drifted off to sleep; she needed to do one thing first.

She grabbed the medicine kit from her bag and walked into the bathroom, it was lucky Dawn had taught her some first-aid before…all the bad stuff had happened. Faith checked her reflection in the mirror with a critical eye, it looked even worse then it had in the window, the injuries looking more vivid, bloody and just plain gross. She was at a loss as to where she should start, everything looked like it needed some attention but finally she decided to start with the nose, it looked the worst of all and was at least broken. Faith carefully grasped it between her fingers and braced herself before clicking it back into what looked like the proper angle, a hiss escaping through her teeth at the pain, she grabbed a bandage and set it in place checking her handiwork in the mirror. Satisfied she went to work on her other injuries, cleaning the blood off her face, wrapping her ribs firmly, they were at least fractured if not broken, she cleaned and bandaged the deep bite mark on her neck and carefully poked and prodded all her other numerous bruises checking to see if anything else was broken or badly damaged.

After finding no other serious injuries and treating everything she could find Faith packed up the now much depleted medicine kit and dumped it back into her bag. She slowly, carefully got undressed and crawled into bed, wriggling around till she found the least painful position. She lay there thinking over the events of last night, one thing it had made clear was that she wasn't over Dawn and wasn't getting over her anytime soon. The last thing on her mind before she had blacked out was Dawn, the first thing on her mind when she had come to was Dawn and here she was doing what: thinking about Dawn. She now realised just how much she missed her and loved her and how she would do anything to get her Dawn back. So she decided that was what she was going to do, she would find Dawn, wherever she was, and win her back, no matter what she had to do, no matter how long it took she wasn't going to stop until Dawn was back where she belonged, in her arms.

But first she needed to heal, after all she wanted to seduce Dawn, not scare her and getting through customs looking the way she did would be damn difficult. With her slayer healing it would probably take a week or so for her to look decent enough to allow her to leave the hotel room, then she would start tracking Dawn down and winning her back. For the first time in months Faith smiled a genuine smile of happiness as she drifted off into a deep, dreamless sleep. She was going to go get her girl back.

And we will only need each other we'll bleed together,

Our hands would not be taught to hold another's

When we were the special two.

And we could only see each other we'd bleed together

These arms will not be taught to need another,

'Cause we were the special two.

- 'The Special Two' by Missy Higgins.

To be continued…