Sorry for the long, long delay. What can I say, things got crazy for a while. Here's the beginning of the next episode: Anywhere but here.

Disclaimer: Joss owns the universe and all the characters previously seen and/or heard of on BtVS and Ats. I make absolutely no money from this hobby. All original characters are mine (but Joss can use them if he wants to ;).

Rating: Young adult (15). Mild language; mild scenes of a sexual nature; nudity; semi-graphic violence - so you know, just like Buffy.

Pairings: Faith/Buffy and Willow/Kennedy predominantly, but also het and boyslash.

Summary: With relations still strained at Sunset Camp and an influx of seemingly unstoppable demons to battle, things are bad enough, but when Willow gets sick and the Scooby Elite disappear, can those left behind defeat the demons and find the missing turkey recipe in time for Thanksgiving?


Anywhere but here

Teaser

As Kennedy awoke, she smiled sleepily; the acheyness in her head countered by the warmth and snuggliness of the body she was wrapped around. She breathed deeply, sighing contentedly, twirling some red hair loosely around her finger as she lazily opened her eyes.

The hair around her finger was blonde she realised with perplexity as she tried to focus better on the woman wrapped up in her arms.

"Arghhh!"

Kennedy's sudden loud yell woke Buffy with a start.

"Arghhh!"

They looked at each other in shock, then down at their entangled limbs and then back up again.

"Arghhh!" This time they yelled in unison as they scrambled away from each other to different sides of the mattress.

"What are you doing in my bed?" Kennedy demanded, her rude wake up call increasing the pounding in her head.

"It's not your bed, it's my bed," Buffy told her indignantly.

Kennedy looked around the room, realising it was infact the older slayer's room. She rubbed at the pain in her forehead.

"What am I doing in your bed?" she asked in the same demanding tone.

"You don't remember?" Buffy gave a big yawn. "You and Will had a fight last night. Well, first you and Oz, and then you and Will."

"Yeah, yeah, it's starting to come back to me… unfortunately." Kennedy groaned, feeling the pain from the scratches in her thigh again now."

"See, this is what happens when you stop patrolling cold turkey. All those little Slayer urges come out in other ways. You get more confrontational, a little less controlled about things and the next thing you know…"

"We end up in bed together?" Kennedy quipped, but then grasped the implications. "Oh crap, we didn't… did we?"

She lifted the bed covers up high and looked under. Phew, short of her boots she was still wearing what she had the night before, no clothing more askew than could be explained by sleeping in them.

She looked over at Buffy next. She was wearing pajamas designed for a ten year old and there wasn't a single button undone on the shirt.

She dropped the covers again with a relieved sigh. "We're good."

Buffy smirked. "What would you have done if I was naked?"

"Um." Kennedy paused. "I'm too hungover to answer that."

She climbed unsteadily off the bed, keeping one hand to her brow as much as possible. Not that it made a jot of difference to the pain.

"How quickly do Slayers recover from the night before?" she groaned as she tried to slip her foot into one of her boots.

"Depends. I'm usually okay by the time I wake up unless I really tied one on. Judging by the state you were in last night, I'd say… you should be okay by next week."

Kennedy glared blearily as Buffy chuckled. Giving up on the boot, she left them where they were and walked to the door in her socks. She paused before she opened it, forehead leaning on the cool jamb.

"Did Willow and I break up?"

The chuckle died on Buffy's breath. "I don't know. Maybe. She was pretty mad."

"Did I at least kill Oz?"

"No."

"S'probably because I was drunk. I'll have another crack at him when I'm sober."

Buffy chuckled despite herself. "How 'bout you come patrolling with me tonight instead. Work some of that frustration out on the demons who actually deserve it?"

Kennedy wanted to argue that Daniel Osbourne did deserve it; he was moving in on her girl, had been since he showed up. He'd even told Xander he wanted Willow back. Everyone else thought he was so cool just because he'd traveled around the world and used as few as many words per sentence as he could… So what? She could do that too. Oz wasn't cool; he was just a loser who didn't know it. He'd lost Willow once already, hadn't he? And she was going to make sure he lost her again…

However the solid ache behind her eyes and the dryness in her mouth and throat had other desires. She needed some Advil and a glass of water ASAP and so left the room without bothering to argue at all.

Buffy watched her go and then flopped back onto her bed, waving her arms and legs under the covers as she relished having it all to herself again. Wondering whether to go back to sleep and pretend the night before hadn't happened for a little longer, or to answer the call of her tummy and go in search of breakfast, she glanced at her alarm clock.

The digital display read 7:15.

Buffy sighed. It was way too early to get up considering the time she'd actually gotten into bed, but if she did make a move now she would have half an hour to speak to Faith before the other slayer had to start work. Waiting for Faith to come to her, considering the mood she had been when she'd walked away the night before, would take far too long and she didn't want to spend any longer than she had to with things awkward between them.

Hopping out of bed, she left her room and padded towards Faith's. She gave the door a gentle rap with her knuckles. There was no answer. She knocked a little harder.

"Faith."

Still no answer.

Maybe she was still asleep, or maybe she had her head under the pillow trying to ignore her.

"Faith!" Buffy tried one more time with an accompanying knock.

When all that replied was silence, Buffy morosely turned and walked away.


"And then, get this, she says Dracula is worse than Kennedy!"

Faith leaned hard on one side of the tiles and brought her clenched fist sharply down on the other side. Six ceramic squares were snapped in two along the score lines Xander had made. It was certainly quicker than his one-tile-at-a-time method.

"Did you see me go to bed with Dracula last night? Do you see me still all snuggled up under the sheets with him?"

Faith continued to rant as she adjusted the rubber goggles Xander insisted she wear.

"No, but if I had done, I'd have probably been in there with you, you know, eating spiders, doing some general toadying." Xander shuddered slightly as he scored the last of the tiles. "He has gone now, hasn't he? You're sure. You saw him leave?"

"I don't know if he's gone." Faith shrugged, mixing up a fresh batch of tile cement. "I don't care either. I got no interest in what he does one way or the other, but try telling Buffy that."

Xander sighed quietly as she started up all over again, but hey, at least she was working through her pain. And twice as fast as usual. If she kept going at this rate the shower block - that he'd estimated was still a two day job – would be finished by lunch.

If this argument lasted out the week, they could have the whole house renovated by the weekend, he thought, wincing as Faith's fist snapped the next batch of scored tiles.


(Soundtrack: Bowling for soup – When we die.)

Kennedy stared down at the broken bottle in the kitchen sink. She'd done that. She hadn't meant to, not really, it wasn't like she'd actually been aiming at Willow or anything, but staring at it recalled the anger and frustration she'd felt the night before. The broken shards of glass felt like a metaphor for her feelings and she couldn't stop the surge of distraught emotion that welled up in her. Tears fell into her beaker of Alka-seltzer, making the powder fizz.

Willow opened the door from the living room, unnoticed by Kennedy, and stared at her back, watching it heave with sobs.

She didn't know what to do or say so she just stood there, feeling her own tears well up. Fidgeting on the threshold, she watched as Kennedy got her tears under control with a big sniff and a shake of her head that made her pony tail swing from side to side.

The faucet was turned on and fast water gushed first into the sink and then into a glass. Seconds later, Kennedy tipped her head back and gulped the fizzing Alka-seltzer straight down without bothering to stir it first. She leaned down low over the sink after, as if she was about to be sick, but instead just a long, low burp emerged.

Willow's lips quirked in a teensy smile and she opened her mouth to comment, but she still didn't know what to say, so she closed it again, frowning. She wanted everything to be magically alright this morning, like the fight last night had never happened, but past experience reminded her it was way better in the long run to do it the hard, everyday way.

That meant giving herself time to be angry and dealing with Kennedy's anger – and other emotions – too. It might not be pretty, and after they'd both done the dealing thing there was a chance that things might not work out between them anyway, but at least they'd have come to that decision together… and, also important, she wouldn't automatically be the bad guy this time around.

Kennedy was picking the bottle shards out of the sink, doing it carefully so she wouldn't slice a finger off in her still-shaky state. Only big bits remained – the smaller pieces had been washed down the drain when she run the faucet and she hoped they hadn't got stuck anywhere on the way down. Xander would not be happy if he had to spend the morning taking apart the u-bend.

When all the pieces were cradled delicately in her palm she turned to the trash can and saw Willow.

"Hey." Her voice was scratchy from all the shouting last night and she cleared her throat. "Morning."

"Yeah," Willow replied softly, nodding a few times. "Good morning."

They looked at each other in silence for a few minutes and then Kennedy moved to dump the glass in the can by the door.

"So this is awkward."

"That's not really surprising, you know, after last night," Willow said, a nervous chirp in her voice. "If they weren't awkward, it would be weird."

Kennedy stared at her for a beat, unsure of what she meant, but then she cracked a little smile. "I guess. Usually the only good thing about breaking up is that you don't have to see your ex first thing the next morning, but with our living…"

"Hold on." Willow came further into the room. "We're ex now, already, just like that, after one fight?"

"Uh, I…" Confused by this reaction, Kennedy came deeper into the kitchen again too. "I thought that…"

"You thought!" Willow repeated crossly. "You thought so I don't even get a say in it?"

"That's not how this is!" Kennedy shot back. "I don't know what you want!"

"Well, you obviously know what you want. So…"

Willow was cut off by Xander appearing at the back door.

"Good morning, Kennedy," he greeted cheerfully as he walked between them to the coffee pot. "At it again I see."

"Yeah."

Kennedy barely glanced over as she answered him, still focused on their argument, but Willow seemed to forget about her instantly and turned around to face her best friend.

"Morning, Xander," she chirped, her face already registering her disappointment that he hadn't acknowledged her yet. "Are you… How, uh… You good?"

Back still to her as he finished making coffee for him and Faith, he shrugged his shoulders. "I get by."

He turned ready to leave and Willow, not wanting him to leave until they'd made up, asked him a question.

"Did Oz go to the hospital with Giles?"

"Yeah, hours…" he paused as Kennedy turned on her heel and left via the back door without another word. "… ago. Giles is already back."

Willow watched Kennedy walk across the rear lawn through the large kitchen windows and gave a weary shake of her head. If Kennedy thought they were already over, was it even worth trying to fix things? Obviously storming out of here for no reason meant that Kennedy's views on the matter hadn't changed, so why should she change hers?

"Is he okay?" she asked next.

"He's a little broken in places, but he'll mend." The conversation was apparently over, Xander walked out the door.

"Xan!"

He turned on the lawn to face her.

"Can we have lunch today? Just the two of us?"

"I can't today. Faith needs my help on the shower block. Giles' wants it done by the weekend."

"Dinner then?" she asked desperately. "My treat. To say sorry."

"No need, Will. We're okay," he said, but his tone was flat and unconvincing. "I know you only said what you said because you care." He sneered a little on the last word, but let it go with a shake of his head.

"I did. I do!"

He ignored that. "If you wanna make stuff up to someone, you might wanna start with your girlfriend. If you still want her to be your girlfriend, that is."

Willow stared after him as he headed towards the shower block. "Oh, yeah, we're fine," she muttered sarcastically.

"Talking to yourself?" A cheery voice called from behind her. "You know what that's a sign of, don't you?"

Willow turned in the doorway to face Buffy. "Yeah, that people are eavesdropping on me and my quiet time."

Buffy looked stung by the curt words, but she came deeper into the kitchen anyway and tried to keep her upbeat tone. "No, I was gonna say madness."

"Yeah, well, I'm mad too." Willow shrugged and tried to remember what she'd come into the kitchen for in the first place.

"Do you want some coffee?" Buffy asked, going to fill the pot Xander had just emptied.

"That'll help," Willow muttered.

"Okay, well what about mochas. I have the morning free – I have the whole day free if you want. We could go to the diner for lunch. My treat," Buffy finished hopefully.

"No thanks. I'm busy at lunch," Willow lied.

She still couldn't remember why she'd come in here, but Kennedy and Xander were outside, Buffy was in here, so heading to her Magic room for a few hours peace and quiet sounded like a good idea.

Buffy stopped her as she tried to walk past. "I don't even get why you're angry with me."

"You slept with my girlfriend last night, Buffy!"

Buffy choked on her discomfiture. "No I didn't! I slept next to, not with. Big, big difference."

"Not from where I'm standing. Either way you were all snuggled up in your bed together, while I was in mine and Kennedy's alone."

"I thought you guys had split up," Buffy asked, honestly a little confused. She realised before the look on Willow's face spelled it out that it hadn't been the brightest thing to say. "I know that probably seems beside the point, and maybe it is, but what did you want me to do, Will? She was drunk; she fell asleep on the bed. Short of picking her up and tossing her into your room I don't know what I could have done differently."

"You could have stopped to think how it would make me feel?" Willow snapped before flouncing towards her Magic room. She knew she was flouncing, but she was too huffy to stop.

"I did!" Buffy cried after her, but the door at the back of the kitchen was already slamming. She fell into one of the kitchen chairs, with a heartfelt: "Crap."

"Maybe next time you should just toss Kennedy over your balcony; might save you hassle in the long run."

Buffy turned, surprised, to see Faith leaning in the doorway. "Huh?"

"I'm planning on tossin' her off the roof later on if you wanna pick up some tips."

Buffy smiled. "Not necessary; there won't be a next time. From now on I think my bedroom is out of bounds as far as Kennedy is concerned."

Faith pushed off the doorframe and walked to the far corner cupboards to find the bread.

"Watch it, B. You ban many more women from your bedroom, you're gonna have to go back to screwing guys."

Buffy sighed. She'd thought the amiable atmosphere was too good to be true.

"You're not banned from my bedroom, Faith. Last night was just… awkward."

"Yeah, well, entertaining two chicks at the same time can be that way." Faith stuffed four slices of bread into the toaster. "Not that I ever done it. Two guys, sure, uh, three actually, one time, but never chicks."

Buffy's eyes were saucers, but she kept them turned to the table top. Three guys? At once? She'd had three guys her entire life. Okay, four, but Parker so did not count.

If Faith realised she was silently freaking out, she didn't acknowledge it. She leaned over the counter; lightly flicking the side of the toaster like it would make it pop faster.

Buffy cleared her throat. "Anyway. Like I said. I wasn't entertaining Kennedy. She was just asleep on my bed. She wasn't even under the covers until I woke up this morning."

Faith's head whipped around and her mouth opened, but she didn't speak. After a few seconds of uncomfortable staring, the toast popped up and she turned as nonchalantly as possible back to fetch it.

"So did you invite her under for some early morning fooling around, or did she just climb in and wake you with a tongue surprise?"

Buffy went red at the suggestions.

"Neither," she said firmly. "In fact I came to see you as soon as I woke up, but you weren't in your room."

Faith glanced around again, looking a little surprised.

"I had to start work early." She went back to buttering the four slices of toast. "What did you want?"

"I wanted to apologise for being so grouchy last night."

Faith nodded, but that was her only reaction.

"I was really tired and I just didn't want to deal with any more… anything, but I know I should have at least listened to you."

"I agree."

Buffy rolled her eyes at Faith's taciturn reply, but ploughed ahead anyway. "So, did you wanna talk about it now?"

Faith shook her head as she cut the four slices of toast diagonally and grabbed a plate to stack them on.

"I have to get back to work. I only stopped for breakfast."

"Well, aren't you at least going to eat it here?" Buffy asked as Faith picked up the plate ready to leave. "I'm sure Xander won't mind if you take fifteen minutes break."

"Maybe he won't, but I do," Faith said, stopping next to her chair on the way to the door and finally giving Buffy her full attention. "I took a half day yesterday, wasting time getting ready for our date, and I wanna make it up before the end of the week."

"You think our date was a waste of time?" Buffy asked touchily.

"Well, considering it was supposed to make things easier between us and now we're here… I'm gonna go with yeah."

Buffy couldn't really refute that, but it still hurt. Did this mean Faith hadn't enjoyed any of it? Or had Buffy's behaviour before bedtime ruined the whole experience for Faith.

Before she could ask, Faith was leaning down, free hand on the back of Buffy's head as she kissed her firmly on the lips. It wasn't a quick peck, but it wouldn't have rated much higher than a PG certificate either. She still felt a little breathless when Faith swooped back up as fast as she'd swooped down.

"I gotta go, babe." Faith was already walking away by the time Buffy had stopped blinking at her.

"I, ah, okay." She shook her head slightly. "We still need to talk."

"And we will." Faith shrugged. "Later. You okay with that?"

"Um, sure, no problem," Buffy said helplessly.

Faith gave her a little wave without turning around. She didn't want Buffy to see the victorious smile on her face.

Buffy just watched her go, still slightly dazed from the conversation and the kiss. Hadn't they been arguing? Did this mean they were made up already? Was that probably too much to hope for?

Dawn came flying through the swing door from the living room, her book bag in one hand and a power bar in her other.

"Morn…" Buffy began.

"I'm still not speaking to you!" Dawn snapped as she whirled through the kitchen and straight out the back door.

"Um, yeah, okay, whatever." Buffy absently waved goodbye to her, her mind still on Faith.

How much later did Faith mean? Today sometime, surely, or this week, at least, right? She wouldn't leave it any longer than that, would she? After all, it was in both their interests to make up as soon as possible.

Buffy groaned to herself; sometimes it felt like this relationship was never going to get off the ground.


Two weeks later

Buffy flew backwards six feet above the ground and crashed into Faith – coming the other way – in mid-air. They fell to the grass together, both groaning in pain from the impact.

"This is going well," Buffy grumbled, scrambling back to her feet.

"Yeah, fantastic," Faith muttered sarcastically as she did the same. "You head-butted my spine!"

"I didn't mean to! You got in my way."

"Whatever."

Without exchanging another word, they both ran back into their respective battles on opposite sides of the clearing.

"There's still thirteen of them!" Xander shouted out between swings of his sword – swings that, much to irritation, were mostly missing the mark, the mark being the five foot lizard things surrounding them.

"Your point?" Kennedy, closest to him, ground out as she fired her crossbow again just to have the bolt bounce off the scaly hide of the demon once more.

"That there were thirteen demons when we started and there are still thirteen demons now." Xander slashed and parried with the thing in front of him. "I don't need to be good at Math to know that's bad."

"Yeah, well, it wasn't my idea to send all the Slayers home for a two week Thanksgiving break," Kennedy said, shooting Buffy an annoyed look as she reloaded. "If we were at full strength we'd have finished these mutants by now."

"You agreed to a six week intensive training period before they're all assigned to their hotspots," Buffy reminded her from where she was kicking and punching at two lizards on the other side of the clearing. "I wanted them to have some time with their families beforehand."

"But why now?" Willow called over from the mostly safe distance she was standing at with Giles. "Did ya really think in the middle of a demon attack was good timing?"

"We weren't in the middle of a demon attack when I suggested it," Buffy shouted back angrily. "Besides, Giles signed off on it."

"Yes, well," Giles began as he swiped ineffectually at one of the bi-pedal reptiles scuttling past while pulling Willow further back at the same time. "I don't think increased numbers would help us any. They appear to be protected by some kind of magic, which would explain why, despite our best efforts, we're not gaining any ground."

"He's right, guys," Buffy realised as she planted her foot in a lizard's groinal area and he didn't even notice. "We have to fall back, regroup, do… something, anyway," she added as she was thrown over the demon's head to land in a bush behind him.

"I don't know," Faith countered as she also went flying across the clearing again. She rolled expertly, came back to her feet and immediately began attacking the demon closest to her. "I'm just starting to enjoy myself."

"You would be," Buffy complained as she extricated herself from the bush. "Personally I like my challenges less challengy than this."

"Stamina going, B?"

"No, just my patience."

Faith elbowed her opponent in its broad-nosed face as she turned her focus on Buffy.

"You got something to say, B?"

Buffy looked over, surprised, she'd been talking about the demons, after all.

"No, but if you finally do, I'd love to hear it." She winced as Faith took a hit and went sprawling face down across the grass. "But later's fine."

Kennedy started laughing at the result of Faith's inattention, but it soon turned to a yelp as Faith, staying down, twirled her body in a spinning kick and took both of the younger Slayer's feet out from under her.

"Hey, we're on the same side!" Kennedy griped as she landed hard on her butt.

As Kennedy tried to kick her, Faith kicked back. "You start acting like it, maybe I'll start acting like it."

"Will you two pack it in!" Xander cried out as he back-stepped hurriedly to avoid claws of lizard and nearly tripped over them.

"Yeah, don't make me have to separate the two of you," Buffy added, half joking, half concerned because they were just fooling around and the longer this went on, the more chance there was of one of them – probably Xander or Giles – getting hurt. "Again."

"Separating us ain't the problem," Faith said, bouncing back to her feet. "Separating you two is the problem."

"Here, here," Willow called, just loud enough, from the sidelines.

"Oh, boy." Buffy rolled her eyes.

"Do you realise how stupid that sounds," Kennedy asked; she'd given up on the crossbow, probably thinking that punching would ease a greater amount of her frustration. "It was one, silly, unplanned, never-to-be-repeated, spell-induced kiss! That's what you're both jealous of!"

"So are you!" Willow reminded her. "That's what you're being stupid and jealous of too!"

"Girl's not wrong," Faith put in.

"Oh, would you both just grow up!" Buffy yelled.

"Actually, would you all, please, grow up!" Giles shouted, frustrated with the lot of them.

"Hey, what did I do? Ow!" Xander collided with Faith, who kept him on his feet, but then nearly knocked him over again as she shoved him out of demon's path.

"I was talking to the ladies," Giles assured him. Going through the satchel over his shoulder, he addressed Willow next. "Perhaps you can try an anti-protection spell. I believe we brought the right ingredients."

"You brought ingredients?" Willow asked in surprise; and then with only semi-playful finger pointing, added. "Have you been pilfering from my magic room, Mister?"

"It's the Council's magic room…" Seeing her eyes get big and less playful, he continued hastily. "…but to speed this up: Yes, I have. I did tell you that from reading Andrew's notes magic may be necessary against these creatures."

"But I thought we agreed that we'd assess the situation first," Willow sounded a little worried as she spoke over the noises of the free-for-all fight just metres from them.

"We did, and I have spent the last hour assessing, and I have come to the conclusion that an anti-protection spell is our only course if we wish to defeat these things tonight."

"But… but shouldn't we do more research first. We don't know what kind of protection spells their using. It's not like all of them can be broken with just a simple cover-all anti-spell. Some of them need a little more finesse."

"I've brought a range of ingredients and you are very adaptable, Willow," Giles reminded her. "I'm sure if at first you don't succeed…"

Willow stared at him in dismay for the cliché. "You surely don't expect me to just throw magic at these guys until I find something that works?"

"You're not normally so shy when it comes to throwing magic around," Kennedy pointed out as she paid the price for hand to hand and took her first flight over the clearing.

"Girl's gotta a point," Faith repeated after her nose was bloodied; proving she wasn't completely biased against Kennedy.

Willow ignored Faith, but snapped at Kennedy. "And you're not normally so supportive of it."

"I've always been supportive of it when it keeps me from getting my ass handed to me," Kennedy countered, already back in the fray albeit on the other side of the clearing.

"Come on, Willow." Giles had already moved a little deeper into the trees and was spreading a blanket on the grass. "Let's try something simple to begin with and take it from there."

Willow moved towards him but her answer was hesitant. "I don't know."

"For God's sake, Will." Buffy called over to them. "If you're not up to doing magic why are you even here?"

"Thanks a lot, Buff!" Willow shouted back sarcastically. "Sure is nice to know I can count on your support."

Buffy rolled her eyes again. "I just meant that you're obviously not here to fight, 'cause you're not! Fighting, that is. So make yourself useful and try a spell already."

"Look, whatever Giles says, just throwing any old spells at them could make things worse! We hardly know anything about them and what we do know came from Andrew! Since when do we take Andrew's word without double checking it first?"

"Naomi has checked all of his research thoroughly," Giles guaranteed.

"Maybe, but she obviously didn't learn everything or else we wouldn't have been out here an hour before we realised we needed an anti-protection spell to even make a mark on them," Willow argued. "I think Buffy was right. We need to retreat and learn more about them and then come back better prepared."

"And what if they hurt someone while we're preparing to fight them another day?" Kennedy asked validly.

"They don't seem like the hurty type of demon," Willow said.

"Really?" Buffy posed dubiously as her right eye swelled from a direct hit.

"I just meant, with the size of their claws they could have cut through you guys like hamburger, but they just seem to be defending themselves. Maybe if we back off, they'll back off."

Xander suddenly yelled in pain as a swipe left his shirt sleeve torn and bloody and knocked his sword from his hand. Buffy was between him and the demon almost instantly, leaving Xander to stagger back towards the tree line, wincing and clutching at his wound.

"Do the damn spell, Will!" he ground out through his pain, shooting her a furious look. "Please."

"I can't… this isn't… Every time I do a spell on the fly these days, it has unforeseen side-effects." Despite her misgivings she was already dropping to her knees next to Giles. He already had several ingredients and a small cauldron ready. "Side-effects that piss people off, including me. It's kinda why I've been staying away from the stuff."

"You can do this," Giles promised her.

"Yeah, Red," Faith called out encouragingly. "I don't wanna push you to do anything you don't wanna, but maybe this is justa: 'The only thing to fear is fear itself' deal."

"And if you're right, peachy," Willow said as Giles lit a fire under the cauldron and she started sprinkling herbs into it. "But if you're wrong. I'm about to make this a whole lot worse."

"I think we have to take the chance!" Buffy yelled as she saw Faith narrowly miss getting her shoulder clawed off.

The fight seemed to intensify as Willow's chanting began, but it was probably just because all three slayers were more than ready for it to be over now. They were growing tired whereas the demons were not, if something didn't change in their favour soon a scratched arm was going to be the least of the wounds they took home with them, assuming they all made it home.

As Willow's chant rose towards it climax, Giles shouted over the sound of the gathering magic.

"Try some of the Bilbury Root. It has anti-cloaking qualities too. It may determine if there are any of their more cognizant brethren here."

Willow wanted to ask if he was sure that was a good idea, but she already had a bad feeling about this. Which may have been because of what Faith had said about her fear being in control, or may have been because she knew more about this stuff than anyone else here – even Giles. So breaking her chant to ask was probably a bad idea and Giles was holding the root up already, waiting for her to take it.

So, in a hurry and trying not to let negative thoughts invade her consciousness, she took the offered ingredient and crumbled it expertly into the cauldron.

Just as her words reached a crescendo she threw her arms out in front of her; channeling the blast of magic towards the fighting demons and slayers.