Author's Note: This bit follows directly from the last. I'm posting it in two parts because they occur in separate locations and I want to maintain the format. At least for now.

Title belongs to Keane.

February 2008


The Scoobies were all gathered around a conference table in front of a very morose Giles and a very excited Andrew. Giles was giving them the rundown and Andrew was copying and illustrating what he felt were important points on the dry-erase board behind them. Currently, the board was sporting a crudely drawn curling wave that looked more like the letter P and what was supposed to be a crater with the number 1 crossed out in its center.

Giles was telling them all what the prophecy had entailed, the three signs, each roughly two years apart, indicating that it had come to pass. The first was The First, ergo the number "1." The prophecy had said that the Mouth to Hell would swallow itself whole. The second sign was Hurricane Katrina; a purging of The Wicked from bowels (or maybe it said bowls, the translation wasn't clear) of the earth.

As Giles read this, Andrew drew little stick figures trying to swim in what barely passed for water. Giles noticed and snatched the marker away in irritation. He pointed for Andrew to take his seat next to Dawn at the table with the others and Andrew did so reluctantly. That was his marker. Dawn patted his arm in understanding when he sat.

The third and final sign was only now becoming apparent, but had actually began in late 2007. "The sky will will bleed and Hell will pour forth through its wounds and infect the earth." It explained what they were experiencing in a way nothing else could. The first two signs could be explained away as coincidence but all three together, they were convinced, could only mean on thing: Impending Apocalypse.

Giles was able to clarify the danger with an analogy. The "wounds" in the sky were similar to those rips created when Glory had used Dawn to open the gates to her dimension. With them open, demons and disaster from every adjacent dimension bled through. Buffy raised her hand. "What's the plan, then? Give the sky some stitches?"

Giles sighed, he often had a very hard time telling when Buffy was being serious or sarcastic, but for once Buffy had the right idea, even if she was probably joking. "In a sense, yes. Our only hope is to repair these holes before they grow too big to be closed. Once the dimensions begin to mesh, the damage will be irreparable. There is a very fine balance of good and evil on the earth with the same precariousness as, say-- the ecosystem. Once that balance is compromised, it cannot be rebuilt. The world will simply cease to be. All that there is will be destroyed and will culminate in the, likely very violent, end of all that we know."

"Well!" Xander said, clapping his hands then rubbing them together vigorously. "Who's hungry?"

Everyone but Giles raised a hand. "Honestly, if you lot aren't going to take this seriously, then I'll only just stand by and let the world get destroyed and I won't even feel bad about it until later."

"You can hardly expect us to focus on an imminent threat like the end of the world on empty stomachs, now can you?" Xander intoned.

Giles guessed not.

"Where's Kennedy?" Dawn asked. "She was supposed to come back with pizza like, ages ago."

On the other side of the door, Kennedy and Faith were re-materializing. Faith nearly fell over when they did, her body not used to being pulled apart into billions of magical pieces and reassembled in seconds, thousands of miles away. It took some getting used to. Kennedy straightened her jacket and pushed open the large wooden doors.

Willow asked where she'd been at the same time that Andrew asked what she did with the pizza. Kennedy seated herself in one of the plush leather desk chairs at the table and nodded towards the door. "I was gathering reinforcements." Faith heard this and thought she wouldn't get a better cue and, now that she was no longer in danger of fainting, walked through the door.

The bravado and confidence Faith had walked in with melted into a puddle at her feet when six pairs of confused eyes settled on her. Somewhere near the back of the room, Faith heard Andrew mutter what sounded like, "That is so not pizza."

Faith's eyes were flying from face to face and finding nothing but unabashed surprise. They stopped at Buffy. She looked less like a deer in the headlights and more like she wanted to run Faith over with a very heavy car. "She said--" Faith rounded on Kennedy who was looking unbearably smug and extremely pleased with herself. "You said they knew!"

"Well," Kennedy starts, "clearly I was lying."

Faith spun on the heel of her well-worn motorcycle boot and left the room. She was trembling; her anger and embarrassment warring inside her. Faith stopped at an elevator and stabbed the button with her finger so hard that she broke it. She punched the button panel in frustration and her fist went right through it. It was bleeding when she pulled it out. Faith was shaking off the bits of broken tile when Buffy came up behind her.

"What the hell are you doing here?" Buffy asked. It's no louder than a whisper but Faith can hear the disdain dripping from every syllable, she can feel the anger rolling of Buffy. It makes Faith forget her own.

"Kennedy showed up in Boston, said you needed help." Faith is too deeply ashamed of herself to find an excuse.

Buffy snorted. "Your help? If I needed your help, which I don't, I would've asked for it myself."

Faith shook her head miserably because she knew it. She doesn't know what else to say to Buffy. She knows what she should say, what she wants so desperately to say, what she never will say because it's true and the truth has a bad habit of lying down on Faith's tongue and keeping her from saying anything true at all. So Faith does the only thing she knows how. She turns and walks away, leaving Buffy standing alone behind her.