No one saw Willow when she first appeared in the crypt. It was only natural, what with all of them being attacked by demons and everything. No one was ignoring her. Definitely not.
She broke the spell and the demons wandered away, since Xander was no longer a demon magnet. Well, except when it came to his dating life. Buffy and Spike stopped kissing, since they weren't really engaged and Buffy's sanity had returned. And … yeah. This was when they all started looking at her. Geez, if they'd just paid her a little attention to begin with this wouldn't have happened, so it was kind of their fault. Okay, it was shared fault. Well, it was nobody's fault. It was just something that happened and was over now and no harm done, right? Right?
The first stop, of course, was Giles's. They had to make sure he could see again, and reassure him that everything else was back to normal.
"We're not getting married," said Buffy approximately two seconds after ascertaining that Giles's sight was restored.
"Oh, Buffy, that's just—I can't tell you how relieved I am," said Giles, his voice low. He could put up with blindness as necessary, and Xander being a demon magnet didn't make an appreciable difference, but the thought of Buffy marrying that insufferable delinquent made him gnash his teeth in the most unpleasant way. He'd briefly thought of contacting the Council of Watchers before deciding that was leaping from the frying pan into the fire, so to speak.
"I know! I mean, it was insane. Certainly nothing I'd ever do if it wasn't for a spell," she added with a pointed glance at Willow. Willow flushed and looked as if she might start babbling more apologies, but Buffy headed her off. "I mean, my mom would freak. If we're still together in a few years, we'll talk about it then."
"Excellent. Now, Willow, I hope that—did you say 'still together'?" Giles repeated faintly.
"Oh, god," muttered Xander, dropping his head into his hands. Willow turned bright pink and tried not to look guilty.
"Yeah," said Buffy brightly, taking Spike's hand and squeezing it. "I mean, sure, Spike's my sweet baby, but I'm only 18. No need to rush."
"Stupid, really," Spike agreed helpfully. "Besides, I'm not really one for the sacramental rituals. What with my worshipping Satan and all."
Buffy stared at him. "You worship Satan?"
"Well, not worship. More like admire his continued excellence. I mean, thousands of years, most of us would just give up, start not caring. Lower our standards. But him, no, he just keeps trying to top himself. I mean, look at the state of the world today. Look at what they show on Fox! Gotta give credit where it's due, right?"
"Did you just say you have to give the devil credit?"
"You're deliberately misunderstanding me," Spike accused.
"What's there to misunderstand about 'hey, the devil's really cool'?" Buffy mimicked, giving a thumb's up.
"Fine!" Spike snapped, before mumbling something Buffy couldn't catch.
Spike muttered again.
"I said, I'm Anglican," Spike said sullenly. "All right? Sufficiently non-Satanic for your white bread tastes?"
"Excuse me, I am not white bread!"
"Right. You're the Buffy with an edge," he amended mockingly.
They glared at each other.
"Willow!" barked Giles. "Don't just stand there, finish breaking the spell."
Willow threw up her hands helplessly. "It's broken! Completely broken! It can't get any more broken! I have nothing to do with this!"
"That plainly isn't true," said Giles a little more harshly than he would have if he hadn't been comforting himself with Scotch for the last few hours.
"I didn't wish them in love," pointed out Willow, happy to grasp a straw that didn't incriminate her. A non-Willow-blaming straw. "I wished them to get married."
"Which differs how?"
"Uh…." Xander raised his hand, and the others turned to look at him. "Anybody who wants to view a married couple that's not in love, in its natural habitat, the bus leaves for my house in ten minutes."
"This is insupportable," fumed Giles. "Under no circumstances can this—" he broken off, heading into the kitchen. "Just a moment, I need—dammit! Willow, I need you to go out and get something."
"From the magic shop?"
"No, the store around the corner. I'm out of Scotch."
"They're being unreasonable," Buffy grumped as Giles's condo complex faded in the distance.
"Which is unusual how?" asked Spike, sliding his arm across her shoulder.
She snuggled up without thinking. "Well—you know, I take a lot from them! Werewolves and vengeance demons and witchcraft and sex with my mother and incredibly boring lectures on the history of the crossbow. The least they can do is return the favor."
"Probably feel like they already did—wasn't exactly a party last time you dated a vampire, what with Angelus being off his nut and all."
She ground her teeth a little, and tried not to feel guilty. "I guess so."
"Yeah. Good times."
Buffy paused. "Excuse me?"
Spike froze. "I mean … except for all those things he did. Unforgivable. All the blood and the fighting and the Slayer baiting…." he trailed off wistfully.
Buffy's jaw dropped. "You miss it," she accused.
"Uh … no?" he suggested. It didn't seem to help, judging from her expression. "I mean, of course not. It's just that's when we met, kitten. Of course it's special to me. Remember all those times we'd fight and you'd rub up against me and draw it out? Oh yeah, don't tell me you've forgotten that."
"I never did anything of the sort!"
Spike decided not to argue. "If you say so," he said skeptically. "There's one good thing, right? At least we know your mum likes me."
"Yes, still dating."
"Does this have something to do with your band?"
"We're not in a band, Mom."
"If you're not in a band, why is his hair that way?"
"Excuse me?" said Spike in surprise, drawing back and touching his hair defensively.
"Mom, I know it's hard to take in, but—"
"What's wrong with my hair?"
"Is this related to Angel?"
Buffy's jaw dropped. Spike, who'd been thinking about his hair and barely listening, jumped up in outrage. "I am not related to Angel!"
Joyce stared at him in bewilderment. "No, what I'm sa—"
"I mean, yeah, he's my grandsire, and yeah, there was a time or two back in the day when we were bored and the girls were busy and we found ways to amuse ourselves, but it's not like we're…" Spike noticed the women staring at him and finally fell silent. "Uh, no, we're not related."
"Have you ever considered not talking?" Buffy asked in exasperation. "Mom, this has nothing to do with Angel."
"We're nothing alike," Spike assured Joyce.
"I mean, just look at his hair. That's the product of a disturbed mind."
"It's Faith. She's awake."
The horror with which the Scoobies reacted to the news was expected. The newcomers to their little band, however, had no idea why the others were so upset.
"Who's Faith?" asked Spike, surprised by Buffy's evident agitation.
"I told you about her!" hissed Buffy as Giles began a long explanation. "Crazy vicious Slayer who tried to steal my life!"
"What? She's real? I thought she was a metaphor," he protested.
"Metaphor for what?" she said in disbelief.
He shrugged. "I don't know. Your primitive Slayer nature battling against your girly Barbie exterior?"
Buffy cast him a withering glare. "It's not a metaphor. Unless you consider a knife in the guts metaphor."
"Well sure, if you want to see the thing to its logical—not a metaphor," he finished hastily after a glance at her expression.
"She's nuts. She wants to be me. Or maybe she just doesn't want me to have what she doesn't have—I don't know. She tried to take over my friends, my Watcher, my mom, my—Angel. Giles and Willow and Xander are onto her now. But my mom? My mom felt sorry for her. It'll be you or Mom, I know it. She'll go after one of you. One or both."
"I can take care of myself," Spike soothed, momentarily forgetting his chip.
"No, you can't," Buffy reminded him.
"Neither of you can."
It was Joyce she went for. Spike couldn't conceive of someone stupid enough to think they could get away with messing with the Slayer's mother; Christ, even when he'd had the chance he'd let it go as a fool's errand. Apparently this Faith was as thick as a plank. Hot, but thick.
The battle, when it came, was ugly. Well, it was ugly if you didn't like watching two gorgeous chicks fighting. Personally, Spike wished it could play in a continuous loop inside his head.
It was damned frustrating that he couldn't take part, though. He knew his girl would mop the floor with the brunette Slayer, but he wanted to help. At the moment, though, what he really wanted to do was watch.
"Go, go," Joyce said as he shifted from foot to foot, reluctant to leave her.
"Thanks, Mum," he yelled behind him, rushing down the stairs.
Damn, the girls were pretty evenly matched. Faith's technique was much wilder than Buffy's, and she didn't give a damn if she destroyed the house taking Buffy down. Well, he'd find his own way to help.
"Babe?" he called to Buffy.
"Kind of busy now," she gritted, concentrating on Faith.
"Yeah, I see that. Can I drink her? If you kill her, I mean."
That caught Faith's attention. "Wha—" she began, her question cut off as Buffy slammed a roundhouse kick into her face, knocking her into Spike. He shamelessly groped her before she broke away and leapt to her feet. "Another vamp, B? You seem to have it bad for the souled vampires," she taunted. "And they all seem to like a little touch."
"Sorry, but thanks for playing," Buffy chirped. "No soul this time."
Faith froze. "No soul? You're shacking up with a vampire without a soul? What, are you the bad Slayer now?"
"Yeah, you'd like to thi—"
"What's this?" interrupted Spike, holding up a mangled piece of metal. Whatever it once did, he'd twisted and squeezed until it would never do it again.
Faith let out an enraged scream. "How did you get that?!"
"Pulled it off you when you fell into me. What, you think I'd come over all weak by your dazzling charm? Gotta look out for my girl."
"Thanks, babe, I—" Buffy broke off as Faith turned and slammed the heel of her hand into Buffy's cheek, knocking her flat. Spike ran to Buffy's side, barely noticing as Faith slipped past him and out the front door.
"Slayer? You all right?" he asked worriedly, cradling Buffy's head between his hands.
"I'm fine," she mumbled, feeling her face. She was a little surprised it was all in one piece. "Where's Faith?"
"I think she got away," Spike admitted.
Buffy ground her teeth. As long as Faith was out there, she wasn't safe. Not as long as Faith was obsessed with being her.
It was only a few days later that the call arrived.
"That was Wesley," Giles said as he hung up the phone, his mouth tightening somewhat. Relations had never been warm between the two Watchers.
"Good old Wesley. How is life over on the other side of the pond?" Xander asked a little maliciously. Not that he'd taken pleasure in Wesley being swatted on the nose by the Council of Watchers, not at all. And he didn't love the fact that Wes was on the other side of the globe from Cordelia, no, definitely not.
"He's not in England. He's living in Los Angeles now."
Xander's jaw dropped. "But—L.A.—Cordelia's there—"
"What do you care if Cordelia's there?" Anya demanded immediately. Xander began to babble excuses, none of them intelligible.
"At any rate," Giles continued, raising his voice slightly to quell the chatter. "Wesley wanted to alert me that Faith appeared in Los Angeles, continuing the same sort of activities she was up to here. Wesley said that he and … others have dealt with Faith, and she has turned herself in to the police."
The others regarded him with shock. "Turned herself in? She turned herself in?" clarified Buffy after a minute. "Are we still talking about Faith, or were there whole sentences I blanked on? Because that doesn't sound like Faith. Are you sure Wes didn't mean she turned me in or maybe turned on someone?"
"No, apparently she was sincere. She said something about 'being the good Slayer now'."
"The good Slayer?" repeated Willow "What could that mean? What about Buffy?"
Buffy jumped. "Oh. Oh! When we were fighting, she seemed kind of surprised at Spike not having a soul. I mean, seeing as how we're couple-y and all."
"And she always did want your life," reminded Spike. "And if she thinks you're bad now…."
"Then she can just become the good Slayer," finished Buffy. "She didn't even have to frame me this time. She thinks I really am the bad Slayer. So she's finally got my life after all."
"As long as she's not killing anybody and she stays the hell out of Sunnydale, do you care?" asked Xander practically.
"Not really, no."
"So … yay, team?" offered Willow.
"Job well done," agreed Buffy.
"We didn't actually do anything," Giles pointed out.
"And it turned out perfectly. Go, us!"
"Well, that was a little simpler than usual," Spike noted with some surprise as they walked home.
"Yeah. Nice break, though."
"No kidding. Makes you wonder."
Yeah, thought Buffy, it does make you wonder. "Baby, you were joking when you said you wanted to drink Faith, weren't you? I mean, you don't really want to drink people, right? Especially Faith people. I mean, you don't think she's … you know, bitable?"
"Uh … no? No! Not at all. I was just saying that to shake her, love. I wouldn't bite her with another vampire's fangs. Nasty thing, probably leave an aftertaste."
"Yeah. Sour. Not like you."
"Nobody's around, Slayer. No one can hear."
Buffy for silent for a moment. "She thinks I'm the bad Slayer now."
Spike shrugged. "Who says there has to be a bad Slayer?"
"I don't know. Faith?"
"Yeah, she's a great moral authority," Spike agreed, rolling his eyes.
"Spike … do you think I'm a bad Slayer?"
Spike paused. "On a scale of what? You to Faith, or you to Joan of Arc?"
"Me to—wait, Joan of Arc? She was a Slayer?"
"Well, yeah. Doesn't that Watcher tell you anything?"
"I guess not," she mumbled. "…Well?"
"Am I a bad Slayer?"
Spike considered. "Let's see … you've tamed not one, but two great vampires …you kill all my friends and I just say okay … and I've stopped trying to get Red to magic my chip out. Also, you're not nearly as bloodthirsty as Faith, except when I smoke in the house. I'd say you're doing fine, Slayer."
She absorbed his words in silence. Finally she said, "If it hadn't been for Willow's spell, we would never have fallen in love."
Spike snorted. "Rubbish. That spell didn't do anything that wasn't already there. Rupert was already blind, just in a different way, and Harris has always been a demon magnet."
"If we weren't in love we would have killed each other years ago. The spell just opened our eyes."
"You think so?"
"Baby, I know so."