Note: You may not want to read this if you've had a huge loss in your life. You'll love it if you like hurt/comfort and connection between these four and if you love Faith loads.

"What do I do?" Buffy pleaded, "There has to be something I can do."

Faith was screaming in pain.

"Spike said there was something," Angel said, "Spike?"

Spike was just staring at Faith completely freaking out. Buffy had never seen him like this. She'd seen him weepy, tortured, angry, tenderly concerned, but not this. He was terrified and miserable. Even when Spike died or asked Buffy to kill him he sort of had a smile about it. When Faith thought Buffy had killed her, Faith had smiled. Buffy had seen too many people the way Spike was now. Spike couldn't be in pain like this. Faith couldn't be in pain like this. It wasn't how they were. They could laugh through anything; they had to, because Buffy couldn't.

"Spike!" Angel roared and Buffy was startled.

Spike's head snapped back and he scowled at Angel.

"Keep it together!" Angel demanded of him, "You said something about taking on her pain. How do you do that?"

Okay, Buffy could see how Angel led groups of people into doing things. She wasn't so sure that he could do it well until now. She heard about how that whole L.A. thing ended up. Usually Buffy led the people, but she could never get Spike or Faith to do what she wanted. Angel could.

"He isn't doing shit. Just leave us alone, Angel. It's what you're best at," Faith said.

Or not. Buffy wanted to comfort Faith, but she was frozen.

"I—I don't–Faith does it. She calls on The Goddesses. I—All I do is open myself and push—push into her wound. She- she won't let me now," Spike held up his hands and showed they were bound with Faith's.

Buffy understood Faith was physically stopping him from saving her life because it would hurt him. But, she wasn't understanding much else.

"Call on the Goddesses?" Buffy repeated. That was a phrase she at least understood.

"No!" Faith screamed, "You—you don't know what it does to him. He tries to take too much. I—I'll be fine."

"You're not fine. You're so hot," Buffy said as she caressed the other Slayer's forehead and face.

"So—sso that wasn't just the spell. Thanks, B," Faith pushed out her words painfully.

She smiled and laughed, but Buffy didn't feel any better now that Faith was smiling. She felt worse. Buffy began to rethink all those evil smiles Faith gave her.

"Please, love. Please, let me take the pain. Is it not what I'm built for, to take a Slayer's pain? I'm nothing if I can't do that for you. Don't you know that?" Spike said.

Oh my god! If Spike ever pleaded to Buffy like this, with his soul, she probably would have done whatever he said. Thank god he hadn't. Faith had to listen to him now.

"No!" Faith said, "Don't you remember what they said last time? Your body wasn't made to take this pain. You can't take it because you're a weak loser. You were always a weak loser and so was I. That's the only reason I went with you. Settled for you."

"Faith!" Buffy gasped.

"Do you really think that's going to work?" Spike said and Buffy saw him smile through his tears.

"What? You think I'm lying," Faith said and smiled, "I just started hanging out with you to control my powers. I broke your nose. You called me a bitch everyday."

There were tears coming down her face now. No! No! Faith didn't cry!

"Right," he said, now his smile shifted as if he was watching home movies, "You were the biggest bitch I ever met, saving my life all those times, giving me free drinks, letting me go on about my sad sodding tale."

"Well, you know I hated you, Billy. But, you did play a mean game of pool; and you knew where all the good jukeboxes were in town; and you could totally crack me up with how you pushed people's buttons while getting their numbers. Accept when you did it to me, and then I'd be so pissed. Not much has changed. Maybe I still hate you, or I love you. That could be it. I completely fucking love you, but I was too stupid to realize it on my own and I let The Bitch ruin our lives."

"It was an accident! I-" Buffy began, her voice coming out more pleading than Spike's had been.

She was crying, Buffy was the crier, not Faith.

"Oh my god, B," Faith laughed and now took both of her hands.

"This is so not about you," Faith said and smiled weakly with her pail drawn face.

Buffy couldn't speak.

"This isn't your fault," Faith said, "Big deal, you opened up a deadly mystical wound. Anyone can do that when the wound is still there begging to be opened up, okay? So don't go thinking you're all special."

Faith was wiping Buffy's tears, as they seem to squirt out with gusto hot on her face. Buffy wasn't helping. She couldn't be crying Buffy. She had to be hero Buffy!

"No, you're dying. I can feel it," Buffy said swallowing her tears at once, "There has to be something we can do. Maybe we can help Spike take your pain or something."

"B, no!" Faith said, "You have no idea what you're saying. I can't—"

"If we all take it, it isn't going to be that bad for any of us," Spike said.

"You don't know that! This isn't an afterschool let's-work-together special. This is blood and guts and no high school. This is my pain! Besides, they would have to have a mystical connection to me to do that," Faith said.

Buffy opened her mouth to argue.

"Love, they just spent a day making you come. Buffy knows you're dying. Angel, the ponce, isn't going to be able to leave here until this is resolved, and if you think I'm living with him…They aren't superheroes here and they aren't bubblegum buddies. They are deeply connected to you. They love you even if they do it downright poorly. They can do this, and they'll do it right."

"Faith," Angel said, "do I really need to go into a whole pep talk? Besides, I've been in Hell. Do you really think I can't take your pain?"

Buffy found Spike and Angel already said what she wanted to say. Faith smiled at Angel.

"Well, if you think I've made it all hard for you so far," Faith said, "wait 'till you get a load of this. Just so you know, it's usually not my style to end my orgies this way."

"So, that's a 'Yes, you can all save my life,' right? I'll get Willow to call on The Goddesses," Buffy said, "We, um, can leave out the orgy part of the story when she gets here."

"We don't need your little witch, Slayer," Spike said as he looked away from Buffy, "Faith, apparently, is much in touch with her roots as you, and she has the wounds you opened up to prove it."

While he was talking he grabbed a knife from his dresser. It reminded Buffy of the knife she used on Faith. Well, Buffy hadn't "used" it on her. That sounded terrible in Buffy's head. She just teased her with it. Faith had wanted. She liked it! This didn't make Buffy feel an ounce better as Spike grabbed Buffy's arm and brought the knife down on her without making any eye contact.

"Ow!" Buffy said softly as Spike pricked four of her fingertips.

Before she could say anything else, or try to get Spike to look at her Faith grabbed her hand.

"As lame as it sounds, I'm real sorry about this, B," she said, "But I can't let Spike down, not again."

"You never let me down," Spike said looking at Faith.

Spike pricked Angel's fingertips and gave Angel a long steely look. Then he pricked his own fingers. He didn't look at Buffy. She could feel his tension and animosity. Faith's eyes were darting back and forth as she looked at all of them and licked her lips and smiled.

"Wow," Faith said, "Something we didn't do. All a' you inside of me at once."

"What?" Buffy said.

Faith was in pain again. She sucked in her breath laid back and arched her back all the way out. No!

"Stick your bloody fingertips in her wound, Slayer!" Spike barked.

In her—Oh! Buffy saw Angel and Spike had their fingertips in Faith's wound. That's why Faith was in pain again. Before Buffy could even think about that she already did what Spike said. She ignored the fact that the wet and lumpy surface on her fingertips was the inside of Faith and it didn't feel right in more ways than one.

What had first wounded Faith inside like this? If Faith knew what Buffy was thinking she'd make a joke about Buffy not complaining about Faith's insides before. Buffy missed the sex spell. She missed being inside Faith and it feeling right. Never mind! This had to work. Buffy had to save Faith's life, but didn't Faith have to help?

"You—you have to call on The Goddesses, right?" Buffy whispered as she found she couldn't make eye contact with Faith who was gripping at Spike in pain.

"Already done," Faith grunted in pain, "Maybe this is one of the times they won't show."

"Of course they will!" Spike said.

"What? Don't you have to say some incantation or some—" Buffy began.

"This isn't Sunday school, Slayer," Spike snapped.

"No, maybe she's right," Faith said, "I should say something. 'C'mon, Bitches!' That's all I got."

That's all I got. Buffy heard the thought that wasn't her own inside her head, and the feelings; Why were the feelings so much stronger than the causal tone of the words? That's all I got. Everything, until it's gone. And yet the words and feelings came together and fit like a tough voice and the softest saddest eyes.

Suddenly, Buffy was somewhere else. She was screaming. It was a shocked throaty scream laced with pure rage. She felt like her insides had been ripped out. It was the worst physical pain of her life, but she was too angry to care about it. She would have been in total darkness if not for a huge crack with light pouring in. The crack came from a huge stone door. The harsh sunlight bounced off golden pieces on never-ending stone walls. The gold pieces were Egyptian hieroglyphics. The hieroglyphics showed a girl roller-skating, a girl blindfolded and beating a demon and…and something else.

Isis, what's up, bitch. You're sister's a cunt. I know you don't like it down here but you gotta fix this here. We know my girl isn't supposed to go down like this.

Buffy was thinking or the body she was inside was thinking. She didn't understand the gruff girl's voice in her head. She didn't understand how someone could think, and make sentences through this pain, this anger, as they screamed. She realized she was in a giant Egyptian tomb. She realized there was something else here, and it was the thing that did this to her. She knew what it was even though she didn't. It was like a dream where you are someone else and that person knows things and you don't. She knew everything she wanted and needed was gone because she had been selfish. Buffy felt like she did when her mom died only the feeling was so intensified it poured out of her mouth in a scream and poured out of her body with blood and guts. She was scratching and scrambling along the scribed gold walls to hold herself up. Still screaming. Something was missing!

Isis, time's a factor. I can't feel her anymore!

She had never been hurt like this. She felt like she had to be missing body parts but she could feel them all there, but still something was missing.

"It'll be all right now, gorgeous," a sweet-sounding girl's voice said with an accent Buffy couldn't place, "You'll see you were so much better than this. It's alright. I still love you."

The voice wasn't comforting. It was taunting. This voice that sounded oh-so-sweet, was evil. Buffy struggled to get out. Stay up. She dragged her hands along the walls of hieroglyphics, making prints with her own blood. Well, not her own blood. Buffy knew this body she was in as well as her own, and this was the worst time she ever had in it by far.


"I haven't loved anyone like this in 10,000 years. I mean 10,000 before that Christ" it continued, "I guess I'm a late-in-life-lesbian, and you led me on. I showed you your weak and insignificant desires, so you could expunge them, rise above them and their suffering human roots. You were so beautiful. So perfect, because you hated that weakness in yourself, that need. So, I'd give you the power to rid yourself of it and you'd become as I am. You'd become The Goddess of Desire. I'd finally have my equal, my half, that Isis wishes she was."

Pain. Isis! Where are you?

"You were supposed to despise what I showed you. The weakness of that poet with nothing but unmet desire," the girl voice laughed and then it had an angry mood swing, "You were not supposed to fucking leave me for him! You made me bother with that- creature- twice. This time I ripped his heart out, because that's what he would have done to you with the parasite he gave you. You were blinded by the parasite, but now you'll see."

Isis, please. Please not Spike! Any of you sane fucking Goddesses, please, help Spike; help my baby! I know you have a thing for Spike. Please don't let her hurt him. I'll do anything! Just save him and save my girl and I'll give myself, to you, to her, anyone forever!

Faith's head was begging, but Buffy knew it wasn't to the voice. She hated the voice. She wouldn't bargain with it. Faith knew it too well. Buffy felt Faith's own voice come out as an angry cry of the blood soaked body she was in. Her rage equaled her pain as she crawled and scraped to the shadows where the female voice was.

"That's right, come to me," the woman-thing said.

Buffy saw the shape of a woman, but she knew it wasn't a woman and it wasn't a demon. Faith was in was in too much agony to speak, but she wasn't afraid anymore. Buffy wished she could say the same. Buffy felt the rage like it was her own even though it wasn't, but Buffy still felt her own fear and knew it was just hers. She didn't know what was happening, but she was terrified. The thing laughed now. The thing walked into the light. She was stunning looking like that rich girl with the sex tape, Kim Kardashian. Only this woman shaped thing had these eyes of blue ice.

"Let me show you how painful it all would have been if I hadn't destroyed it for you," the woman thing said with its olive skin and long silky black hair as she bent down and kissed Faith.

Her lips were like cold needles. It's too late. They're gone. You bitches should have killed me before I married him.

It all happened so fast, too fast… What Buffy saw, images, thoughts, that didn't belong to her. So Fast! The feelings Buffy felt, they were so—so… no words. They weren't her feelings but that didn't matter.

MY GIRL on roller-skates with glasses. Candy-cane striped tights and a pink plaid dress with a tie-dyed t-shirt over it and of course the paper crown. Hair I love to braid. That's it, baby! If your gonna go fashion disaster, go all the way. She's 7. You got sick of Christmas crackers and tried to go outside in your skates, even though Dad said no, but it's 5 x 5. He has you now. Scraped knee, crying. He made it stop. Such a Daddy's girl, and why not? Dad is the real power in town when it comes to comfort. The man is made of the blood of eternity, the fire of Hell, and the love of a puppy. Love him so much it scares the shit out of me. I'd chase his soul through Hell and Heaven and back again just to catch him to have beer at the end of the day. Luckily, he never runs. But, how I love you never scares me. I'd end the world for you and never look back. Too bad I hafta make it safe for you to live in this world of scraped knees instead. That scares me. But you have faith; I think I'm up for it. We know dad is. He brings you over to me, and you hug me like a little monkey with you're big head and heart. Wes's freakin' adorable nephew comes in and says it's time for more Christmas crackers! Giving Wes's family that money and saying it was from him was one of my better moves. Love Christmas in London! (THE BITCH TOOK YOU AWAY! I'm gutted; cleaned out of you. I have no body.)

MY GIRL. She's 14. Thicker glasses and A-line hair cut dyed magenta, staining the tub. You'd never let me touch you hair now. Cursed/blessed with Lehane boobs and other genetic disorders, dad's nose looks good on you. Beautiful. Beautiful. Smart, like Dad, dumb like him too. Dreamer. So angry. Yell at me, but I hafta yell louder. Have to stand my ground, can't let you win. Want to, but some dreams don't come true. You have to be blind so you can see. Hurt me, slice me with words, I can take it. Say I'm the problem, say I don't love you, say I'm embarrassing trash. I know only the last one is true. You storm out of the place I made for you. Worked so hard on it. Read all the right magazines went to Home Depot. Clean gutters, keep it up-to-date with pillows. I'm not good at this shit, you know! You'd leave me for good if you could. But, that's okay. Too bad for you, dad and I are still a set. Still such a daddy's girl. I fall back into my old white trash ways screaming, trashing, drinking when you're gone. What kind of a fucked up world do we live in where I have to hurt you to save you? Dad picks me up, keeps me sane. I give him my rage and my body and he flips it into something good as I flip him around. You're too young to know everything he sees in me. Sometimes I hope you never see it. You come back and see him sleeping and I'm awake. You see right through me and put fresh cut demon head on the table. Can't you see that you aren't going blind! You are starting to see! (THE BITCH TOOK YOU AWAY! I'm not a woman. I'm a monster dragging guts and murder. Who the fuck was I to think you could ever belong to me?)

MY GIRL, we made it. How old are you now? You asked me to do your hair even though a pro would have been better. You insisted. So freakin' stubborn. Still Daddy's girl. You keep touching his face to see if he is crying. You are stunning in a long white sleek classy thing I could never pull off. Somehow you grew tall. But, you are still ours. Now you will be hers too. I hug the little man (Oz?) that made the person that made you so happy. I poke and hug your chocked up old man. I'm old too, older than I ever thought I'd get to be, and you, you are still MY GIRL. (I LOST YOU! I LOST HIM! I LOST EVERYTHING BECAUSE I USED YOUR STRENGTH FOR MY WEAKNESS! I deserve to die soaked in only my own blood.)

No! Buffy didn't know what was happening. They/she was back in the tomb with The scary thing.

Where had that beautiful girl gone? Where was Spike? Buffy loved them, or Faith did. It didn't matter whose memories or feelings those were. Buffy didn't care. She didn't care about being Buffy. She just had to get the girl and Spike back. She had to get Faith and this body; out of all the blood and pain that she now sat in trying to scream with no sound coming out. Buffy never had pain like this; it had to stop. She had no control. Faith wouldn't look down so Buffy couldn't see the injury, but she felt gutted.

"I'm sorry to cause you so much pain, gorgeous. Don't worry as soon as I end this world the pain will be over," Kim Kardashian icicle eyes said, "But, I really had to destroy that thing in you first before I took you away from here, because as you saw it would've destroyed you. You would have been its slave. It was a blind parasite. Already its blindness got into and you believed you were invulnerable when you were really at your weakest. "

"No," Buffy felt Faith's painful rasp of a voice, "Now I'm at my weakest, and you've never seen me weak with nothing to lose. You may be The Goddess of Destruction. But I'm the Goddess of Rock Bottom, bitch. She'll always be in me and I've never seen through you more."

Buffy felt Faith's body rise up. Buffy could only feel the pain and see flashes of red as she fought with a rage and hate she didn't recognize. The Kim Kardashsian thing was strong. It could fly. But, then Buffy saw and felt Faith strangle her with a cord that hung from her slashed own body. Faith roared. Buffy wanted to scream.

Buffy felt herself being thrown back. Did that dying Evil Cunt hit her? Good! She'd hit back. No, Buffy was back on Faith's bed, her pretty bed in Turkey where they all made love. They had made love, Spike, Faith, Angel, and Buffy. Faith! Oh God!

"Huh. That wasn't so bad," It was Faith's voice, "Maybe y'all are stronger than I thought. "

Buffy jumped up from the floor bed, fell down, and then puked on the floor an inch her face. She croaked a word that made no sense here:


But it came out as painful as on the last day she spoke it to the person whose name that was.

"Oh my god, B! I forgot," Faith gasped and pulled Buffy off the floor with super speed and gentleness.

"Are you alright now, love?" Spike asked and he wasn't asking Buffy.

"Of course I am!" Faith snapped, "B did most of the work as usual. I told you clueless bastards I didn't want to do this! You don't have the guts to feel it like she does!"

Still, there was Gentleness. Angel left the room. How could he leave? But, then he was back cleaning up Buffy's puke. Buffy was too distracted to be moved, or grossed out.

"Where is she?" Buffy asked Faith as she still stood in front of her.

"Don't," Spike said looking at Buffy for the first time since she kicked Faith.

"Who?" Faith asked her brow creasing, "Oh, you mean Neppie," Faith said, "She's gone for now. Some say dead. Hopefully for a thousand years. You saw our little fight, huh? There's some nasty stuff they won't even show on cable. Don't worry about her or any of what you saw, B. It my problem, and I took care of it. Just forget all that, okay."

Faith was rubbing Buffy's temples and it made her feel so much better. It was like Faith wanted to erase what happened and Buffy couldn't see why that was a bad idea. It had been the least fun ever, except for that wonderful girl.

"No!" Buffy objected suddenly and pushed Faith's hands away.

"Where is she? My—your girl?"

Buffy saw Angel get a book. Maybe he wanted to figure this out more.

"I said 'don't!' When do you stop? Haven't you ripped her open enough?" Spike demanded.

Spike so angy—so…

"Alive! Spike you're alive. So she has to be alive too! I saw her grow up. I saw her with you! That Neffie with the bad contacts had to be lying about kill—hurting her," Buffy said.

"Oh my God!" Faith's voice shook, "You saw her? You saw her! You saw my baby! Spike she saw her! B, you're amazing!"

"Tell me! Tell me what you saw!" Faith demanded.

"I-I saw her with Spike on her roller skates and her glasses. It was Christmas…in London. Faith, I-"

"When she had on candy cane tights?" Faith laughed a little too wildly, "With a frinkin' pink dress and a tie-dyed shirt, right? Oh my God! She was a fashion disaster. Did you hear what she said about Christmas in London?"

"I didn't hear anything I saw and felt," Buffy said, "I thought your thoughts. I felt your—I felt a lot."

"Oh!" Faith said, "Well, she told Spike that Christmas in London was like-Spike! Spike, We would have had a beautiful kick-ass girl. And she never woulda wanted for a job. She was a blind lesbian so she'd affirmative actioned her way into taking over anything. Not that she'd need to. She was so smart! I have no idea where she got her brain! Spike, I-"

Faith was interrupted briefly by Spike holding her close.

"You—you called her Carrot. I called her Cara. Sometimes Care Freddie. Her name—her name was Caroline Winifred, for your sister, and Fred."

Spike had a sister? Fred? Why did that sound familiar? Apparently, Buffy hadn't seen everything Faith had seen, but Buffy had felt everything…unless, Faith had felt even more. Buffy didn't know how that could be possible to feel more pain than that, or more love.

"She was blind?" Buffy asked.

She didn't understand. Buffy found she didn't want to understand because she hated what she was beginning to understand.

"Yeah!" Faith said like this was the best news ever, "Well, she went blind thanks to that stupid genetic disorder from my fucked up family. She was so mad at me about that one. But, it ended up being great! Didn't you see what she could do with her powers, B? Did you see her marry Oz's daughter?"

Before Buffy could answer Faith was squeezing Buffy's raw feeling body. Faith pecked her a few times on the lips feverishly.

"Oh my god, B! You've saved my life! You saved everything. Thank you. I love you," Faith said softly looking Buffy straight in the eye beaming a smile.

Buffy had saved everything? How? The girl was okay? Faith loved Buffy? Faith broke away from her too quickly, and went back to Spike again. Buffy saw Angel had ripped a page out of a book. Did it have answers?

"Fuck, Spike! I have so much to tell you," Faith said, "I'm sorry. I'm so fucking sorry I couldn't say anything without going fucking nuts before now. I guess somehow B seeing her too got the lock off my fucking throat. B-"

"Don't be sorry. Don't ever be sorry," Spike said, "You've given me far more than I deserve and—"

"No, you have no idea!" Faith shouted and then she continued softly after she pecked Spike on the lips, "No idea how happy you made her. You loved her! You taught her Latin. Fucking Latin!"

Faith stopped to laugh and feverishly rubbed her hands along her stomach. Buffy saw Faith's back with her purple print hippy dress. One of Spike's hands held Faith's head and had swept up her hair. Buffy saw that Faith's dress tag was sticking out and it said "Maternity." Buffy wished it didn't make sense to her. Spike didn't say anything, but he made a terrible sounding chocked noise. His eyes were shut his face twisted in joy and sadness. Too much sadness.

"She taught you brail," Faith continued, "I was really the dumb muscle. You were fucking great. I—"

"No!" Buffy cried at Faith, "You loved her. You were fucking great. I—I felt what you felt! I saw what you—I saw some of what you saw. Didn't Spike and Angel feel it and see it too? Didn't they see—see Caroline?"

"I guess I'm not as worthy as you, Miss Great Awakener," Spike grumbled at Buffy and then softened in pain to Faith, "I felt her, though. I felt her soul."

"Don't be jealous you couldn't get it all, baby. You just didn't have the ovaries to take it all in," Faith said with not a hint of sarcasm, "But you won't have to anymore. Now I can share the good parts. Look…"

Faith lifted up her dress and revealed her heart shaped perfectly curved ass to Buffy and Angel as she showed her front to Spike. Buffy didn't think to feel that was weird, or if she did she pushed it away. Faith put Spike's hand on stomach.

"The scars are still there, but it's smooth there's no more festering lumps in my guts!"

Festering lumps In my guts, Buffy's head echoed numbly. Buffy remembered the blood, all her—Faith's—blood, and what had she strangled that thing with… Buffy remembered why she threw up, and she was pretty sure she was going to do it again. Angel got in her vision and she saw that he was drawing on the blank book page. How could he just sit there? Didn't he realize what happened? Or had happened or wasn't going to hap—It didn't fucking matter!

"That thing, that evil bitch! You were going to have her. You—you were so close and she ripped- How could—"

Buffy was shaking and tearing as her fists clenched.

"Okay, here we go. When Spike knocked me up with Cara Freddie I became invulnerable, or so I thought," Faith sunk down on the bed and shut her eyes and two tears spilled out.

Buffy couldn't take it if Faith cried now, or ever again really.

"You did?" Buffy gasped, "You mean like in a video game when nothing can hurt or kill you? How was it?"

"Like nothing you've ever felt. Even without the powers I loved being knocked up," Faith closed her eyes sighed, smiled and opened them again, "But it was cool being more kick ass than any Mortal Combat fighter even when I got as big as the fat guy from it. It was worth not being able to shit, the back pain. We kicked so much ass. Saved the world like eight times until..."

"Eight times?"

Buffy sat on the bed beside Faith and squeezed her hands.

"Her feet swelled, so she could kick harder. She was beautiful," Spike said.

Spike was behind Faith laying on the bed. Buffy had forgot about him, even though one of his bare feet was resting on Faith's lap.

"He's not telling you my face swelled too. I don't know how beautiful I was. But, I felt beautiful," Faith said held Spike's foot, "Maybe the problem was I felt too beautiful. Nephtys came back and she never got over the fact that I dumped her because I realized her lame ass desire and power was nothing compared to how I loved my best friend."

Buffy wondered for a second who Faith's best friend was, and instantly felt stupid when Spike sat up straddling her from behind.

"See, I'm not like you, B. You only had to talk to the Goddess once and you got what you wanted. Not me. I didn't want all their power so they had to keep talking to me. So, of course I had to screw one and she screwed me right back."

"Nephthys fell in love with you. It wasn't your fault," Spike interjected.

"Shut it," Faith said, "I'm talking to B. And of course it's my fault. It's all… So, I didn't care if Neppie wanted to have it out with me, I was invulnerable, but I was not gonna let her fuck with my man, my baby-daddy, ever again. Then, I hear not all does she want to fuck with him, but she wants to end the whole damn world. I couldn't let her do that. I was planning on setting up house with my man and me and baby makes three in this world. So, I go in all cocky, thinking I'm The Shit and set a trap. Turned out the trap was really for me, and my amazing family, that I was so sure no one could touch ever again. Who knew The Goddess of Destruction could somehow destroy my invulnerability? Cara's invulnerability. It was never mine, B. I used my baby. I killed my baby, B! Wouldn't it have been better I just died when you-"

Faith sobbed.

What was she saying? NO! Buffy wanted to hold her, kiss her, rock her but she was too busy being miserable and frozen. And someone else was faster.

"No, no, no! You were saving the world for Caroline, with Caroline an' me. Because that's how we do things—together," Spike wrapped himself around Faith and held her on the bed, "That cunt killed our baby and you defeated her. You defeated her and saved the world when you thought you had nothing. When you knew you The Bitch could have stopped your pain and taken you to a world without it."

How did he so quickly know exactly what to say and do? Faith mostly stopped crying. She looked at Spike her big brown (really amber) eyes searching his face.

"You have me wrong, Billy. I'm no fucking hero. I just wanted to kill the bitch because I hated her. I thought she killed you too. My crazy perfect Champ baby-daddy who'd never let his baby—"

"You did the right thing Faith," Angel said, "The world would have ended. No one could have defeated Nephthys but you. You were the only one who got close enough."

"You knew about this, an apocalypse! You knew that Faith and Spike were—and you didn't tell me!" Buffy yelled.

He didn't even look up from writing that damn book, but at least he said something, to comfort Faith unlike Buffy.

"There has to be something we can do," Buffy said, "Time travel! That's it. That's the answer! Angel does that all the time, right? You're already thinking up a plan and writing it down, right Angel?"

Buffy got up off the bed. She looked over at him, as he was still writing on the book page. She looked away from him and paced. She'd ignore the fact that they didn't usually work that well together. They would now. Buffy would call on everyone she knew. She almost grinned when she realized how shocked everyone would be about Spike and Faith being married with a daughter, a beautiful daughter. That Buffy would hold in her arms again. That Faith would hold-

"You stupid bint! You don't think I did this already, Slayer!" an angry roan came up at Buffy while she was thinking.

It startled her and few things did. Spike was all-big again.

"You don't think I thought of every bloody possibility? You don't think I went to Willow? You don't think I went to the highest places, my knees bloody from begging, offering my soul. She was my daughter, Buffy! Mine! Mine and Faith's! You don't think I loved her more than you just because I couldn't see her and get those salt stinging visions Nephthys gave to Faith after she ripped her open, after The Bitch tried to make me a helpless sniveling man. A simpering sodding man," Spike roared like "man" was a dirty word,

"…in the middle of the fucking desert with my goddamned heart ripped out of my sodding chest? You really think you're the first thing to re-open that wound? It was just your first time feeling it and your little brain can't come to grips with the pain. Well, guess what Queeny? There's still suffering that you know nothing about, that you can't do anything about. Suffering you helped cause with what you, and artist lover-boy over there, opened up when you were playing battleship footsy with him and grabbing for power. You were so happy flying and fucking around you not only forgot about the dead Slayers my wife was burying, but you forgot about the goddesses you waived the welcome banner for. Did you really think all of them would come riding in on a pretty clam shell? I guess you somehow forgot about the balance of power. How every good fairy has a shadow. I mean you only lived on a Hellmouth for seven y-"

"That Net-this was a Goddess! One I woke up on the mountain in Tibet when I went to get my powers back to battle Twilight, to battle Angel," Buffy realized and she felt her insides sink to her feet.

"Angel this is our fault!" Buffy said.

"Boy, you catch on quick. That's what I just said," Spike now just grumbled.

"That is not what you just said. You just said you were a total ungrateful asshole for everything B just did for us," Faith said, "Maybe I wasn't the one who killed you the last time, but I will be this time."

At least Faith wasn't crying anymore, that made one of them.

"Ow!" Spike said as Faith punched him lightly, "Good, love. Don't cry anymore."

"Angel!" Buffy yelled at him.

Angel was still drawing but he looked up at her and said:

"Just give me a minute."

She'd give him a lot more that a minute. Buffy went to go kick his ass as he looked up at her from his drawing with that stupid fucking stoic-ness. Someone grabbed onto Buffy. Spike.

"That won't help. I've tried it," Spike gave her a smile.

"Sp— William, I am so so sorry," Buffy said.

She clung to him. His body was stiff, foreign, but then it softened and felt like Spike.

"Ah, Goldie locks," Spike said, "Why do you have to be so damned lovable? Do you realize how amazing you are? You kick my door in, kick my face, shag my wife, kick my wife an' almost kill her, and I just want to hold you. Anyone else would be dead four times over."

"Like she couldn't still take you," Faith said.

Spike lowered Buffy into the big green chair.

"I am sorry," Buffy said looking at Spike and his sad smile, "I'll do—"

"It's not me you should be apologizing to," Spike said as he looked at Buffy with tender eyes now.

That just made it worse. She wished he'd hit her. Buffy remembered something she once said to Faith a long time about apologizing.

"If you apologize to me I'll beat your skinny ass," Faith said like she was reading Buffy's mind, but her tone was light and sweet.

Faith was sweet. Well, she had been/would be a mom now.

"You opened the wound, but then you healed me as much as I can be healed. You're better than a shrink and way sexier if just as clueless," Faith said still as she poured into the big green chair with Buffy.

Buffy leaned into Faith's shoulder and sobbed. Faith rocked her and stroked her head and hair. Faith had been so many things Buffy hadn't. She had felt so many things Buffy never did. Buffy knew this before, but she had known nothing.

"Okay, quit it now," Faith said, "You know Spike is full of shit when he's mad. None of this was anywhere near your fault. It was all mine. Me and my stupidity."

"You guys should have come to me for help. I've killed a god before," Buffy said.

She got up. She had to separate from Faith because she might cry again and Faith didn't need that.

"Stupid? Cocky? Thought I was an invulnerable hip mom, remember? Besides, you probably would want to throw my belly a few punches if I showed up knocked up and hitched to Spike," Faith smiled.

"How could you think that?" Buffy gasped.

"Um," Spike said, "You just kicked her gut open over it. Almost killed her."

Spike was now in the chair with Faith. They both didn't fit so Faith half sat on his lap. He rubbed her temples and she shut her eyes. Her head hurt like Buffy's did too. Buffy saw the ring on Spike's hand. It was silver and gold twisted together. Faith had one too. Buffy would wonder how stupid spells made her, but she was too busy stupidly trying to talk.

"That was—I didn't-I thought—Faith, if I knew how you felt about Spike and that you— I'd never stand in the way of love."

Faith burst out laughing.

"Oh! Oh? You were serious," Faith said, "I thought you joking, pretending to be mellow dramatic to lighten the mood. No worries, B. It's cool. The one that stands in our way is usually me, but I'm gettin' better. I thought about cashing it in a lot when I lost Cara Freddie. Some days I still do, but then I always remember how Spike came through…"

Faith looked off into nothing for a second, and Buffy was aware and oh-so-glad Spike made it stop by putting both his arms around her stomach.

" At the risk of sounding less manly, I didn't come through at all. You saved me," he said simply but not simply at all.

"Nah," Faith smiled at Spike, " I had nothing to do with it. It was all you and your big candy ass heart. It was too strong to die. Isis fixed it up because she has a thing for you."

"I wasn't the one who made the call that sent Isis running. The Goddess of Creation does your bidding," Spike said.

"Isis?" Buffy asked. She remembered that name.

"Yeah, right," Faith said, "Maybe she just saved you to piss off her sister. We're like they're toys they fight over. Haven't you seen 'Clash of the Titans', B? See the old one. The new one sucks."

"Isis is Nephthys's lighter-half. Her good twin," Spike said, "She's creation."

"Believe me, B, the irony of getting mixed up with those two isn't lost on me," Faith said, "Isis gave Spike's heart some Goddess mojo. It beats, his blood pumps, he gets hot and sweaty, he gets sun-burned."

Faith was smiling big and so was Spike, even as he said:

"I do miss the fangs and face at times, but—"

"Spike's a god!" Buffy exclaimed.

"No," Angel said, "Gods don't age, and Spike—Spike can't even fly."

"Really? You pick now to talk?" Buffy snorted, "And that's what you say? You have nothing to say to them after all they went through other than some crap about Faith doing the right thing. Didn't you feel anything? Do you even know what's going on? Do you even have any feelings when you personally are not wrapped up in some curse or spell or your own destiny!"

Buffy was furious at Angel. Well, maybe Angel wasn't who or what she was furious at, but that didn't mean she didn't mean what she said.

"Here she is," Angel said.

What did he mean by that? That Buffy was being a bitch? Well, maybe she was. She didn't care!

Angel ripped the page he was scribbling on out of the book and handed it to Spike.

"Your daughter," he said, "At least this is what I saw of her when we healed Faith. She would have looked like Faith more, thank god. Her eyes were blue."

"This is—woulda been her. 7, 14, twenty-something. It's fuckin' perfect!" Faith exclaimed looking at the paper.

Buffy looked at the three drawings. They were perfect, if you had to accept a drawing in the place of a person, and Buffy could not.

Spike was looking down at the paper.

"So, everyone got to see her but me," Spike said.

"You're welcome," Angel said, "And you got to feel. I didn't. I didn't feel anything. I just saw pictures. She was never my child and I'm not a Slayer so there wasn't a lot of connection, so I guess Buffy is right in a way. But, I still did my part."

Angel was looking at Buffy. Buffy could only look at Faith now who filled with emotion so beautifully and painfully that Buffy had a second where she wished she was the one Faith was trying to pretend to casually sit on so Buffy could be the one to hold her. It was just a second, and then Faith sprung up.

"I'm not going to thank you either," she said facing Angel, "Why would I? It would only lead to hugging and crying and we know I don't do either of those things when I'm sane and sober, accept maybe today."

"I know," Angel said, " and you don't need to do them with me, and that's good."

"That doesn't mean I won't need you ever again or anything, or that I'd even object to you hanging out some time, like now even. You don't have to go," Faith said.

"But, I should," Angel said.

"Yep," Spike said, "You should. Well, bye."

Faith smacked him, "Ow! What? I was saying 'goodbye' in that machismo fashion. Isn't that what we're all doing?"

They got up out of the chair.

"No, I'm telling them to stay," Faith said, "Drink coffee, watch 'True Blood,' help us slay a murderous mountain sprite or two."

"Oh, there's three things I hate," Angel said.

Buffy realized everyone was moving out of the bedroom, like they were going towards the front door to walk Angel out of it and he'd get into a car with heated seats in the cold winter day like he was some normal guy or something. Some really good looking, well dressed, group-sex-with-married-people, emotionally restrained normal guy. He couldn't go anywhere, the sun was out. He'd have to stay. They'd have to talk, unless Buffy left, and she was not leaving. Faith wanted her to stay even if Spike might not.

"Really? You hate 'True Blood'?" Buffy said to Angel.

Yep, that's what she found coming out of her mouth. That question, to Angel, her star crossed lover, after she completely shredded him with insults, after they had just sex with a married couple. A married couple that probably were not star crossed lovers at all. So they had no problem being in the same room together, no problem loving each other after they just had sex with Angel and Buffy. Not to mention the lack of awkwardness between them after one of them almost died and they had to relive the worst day of their life.

Spike and Faith started playfully bickering as they headed over to the kitchen area that had too much light for Angel. They bickered about True Blood and some guy named Bill. Then, it was something about blood pudding and Spike goading Faith about being domestic and having wifely duties. Buffy heard Faith throw some choice phrases his way. Buffy heard Faith laughing as Spike was telling her something about English food as she raced around the kitchen. Faith cooked. It was crazy, or maybe not.

What was crazy was the fact that Angel was texting now. Angel was texting on a phone after he just had group sex with all of them and Spike and Faith were the ones in love. Buffy felt like she couldn't go out to the kitchen and intrude on Faith and Spike, but she didn't have to stay in some shadowy hallway while Angel texted.

"You mean, you don't find it too realistic, too painful," Angel said looking straight at Buffy. Now, she wished he were texting again.

"Angel," Buffy said, "What I experienced here today was one of the most horrible things I've—Realistic? It was real! Caroline was real. You saw her, and Faith—Faith was gutted. She was so hurt and you-"

Buffy locked down her jaws before she could sob. Angel grabbed her upper arm and encircled it. Buffy couldn't tell if it was affection or to make her stop crying. She preferred the latter. Buffy would not have Faith comfort her again for what was Faith's tragedy. Angel seemed to know this and he led Buffy to the bedroom. Spike and Faith's married bedroom.

"I—I didn't see that part. I didn't see Faith hurt. I just saw the girl," Angel whispered, "And I was talking about 'True Blood.'"

He gave her that adorable embarrassed look.

"To me it's too realistic," he said, "I mean, since stories got out about us, stories about vampires falling in love with young girls are everywhere. It's nauseating. But-but 'True Blood' with Bill and Sookie. They love each other! They should be getting married, but they took him! and that blonde vampire…"

Angel stopped. Again, the adorable embarrassed look.

"Um, I've never seen 'True Blood,'" Buffy said, "People just told me it was good, but I find when I get a lot of TV time I don't want to watch sexy vampires. I know they'll never be as good as what I had. Ever."

"Accept for this time," he said.

"Well, if you're just counting the sex and not my horrible jealous come down and almost killing my best Slayer this time was pretty good. I'd even go for great. It just—"

"It just wasn't our time."

"I was going to say it just made me realize, again, the prices I have to pay for times like these," Buffy said, "But, I can't have Spike and Faith—I can't have them pay our price, Angel. I won't! I'm going to get Caroline back."

"Buffy—" Angel began.

"Angel, this isn't an argument. This is what I'm doing. I know Faith made her own choices, and it seems like some of them weren't very good, but we unleashed that horrible thing that killed Caroline when we made our choices and I'm not—"

Angel's phone rang.

"So, you're coming?" was the way he answered.

"Tell me you're not really there! Tell me you didn't do anything stupid!" the voice on the other end of the phone was loud young and male.

"Everything is fine," Angel said.

"Everything is not—" Buffy began.

She wouldn't be ignored for a phone, and she never bought into Angel being this business tycoon or whatever he was now.

"Yeah, right. Is that Faith? Let me talk to her," the voice said.

Who was this guy?

"Look, are you coming or not? And if you are just—just wait in the ship, okay?"

"No!" Buffy said and smacked his phone away, "This isn't about you and sex and you running away with your old evil business connections because you feel like shit. This isn't about us. You have no idea how much Faith loves her daughter. You have no idea how much she loves Spike, her family. You didn't feel the connection, so how could you know? Caroline was supposed to have existed. I will make her existence with her family happen. So, if you don't want to help me, don't help me, but tell me straight to my face."

"Most heroes are alone because they can't ever accept the world the way it is. They sacrifice to change the world until they have nothing."

"Angel, if you're going to stand there and tell me that they have enough because they have what we can't I'll—"

"I'm going to say that there are some things people should never have to sacrifice, not even heroes, and I do have an idea of how Faith, and Spike, feel," Angel said.

"Dad, hello? You there? Let me guess: Faith is kicking your ass. Look, in her eyes you killed Slayers. She's not going to forgive—"

The phone was shouting on the ground and Angel picked it up and brought it to his ear.

"I'm here, Connor," Angel said, "Son, can you tell your contact in Boston we have one more potential stabilizer for the girl? For—for Faith's girl."

As Buffy felt a waive of heart jumping realization wash over her, she watched Angel's face get annoyed, tenderly annoyed. She couldn't hear the voice on the other end of his phone anymore. For a moment all she couldn't hear or see anything but him.

"I know that. I know—No! No! Look if you come just stay in the ship and I'll—Fine! Do you really have to bring—Fine! Just wait in the ship and—and drive carefully."

And then he just looked tender.

"You're son? You and your son have been working on saving Caroline?" Buffy said.

"We can't talk about this here. Sometimes there have to be heroes for those heroes who sacrifice, but it's not easy, Buffy. It's risky and messy and you may never get what you're after. The price you pay may be even bigger if all the risks pay off. The people you help may shut you out."

"Angel, I—"

Faith's head popped through the bedroom door. How could she smile through it all?

"Hey, what's going on in here? Do I have to remind you it causes tidal waives and demon army waives when you two bang it out alone? Just kiddin'. I'm sure you could get away with it for a while if you stayed up here. Anyway, Angel I have blood and blood pudding, which is completely disgusting and English. All stuff I know you eat. B, I'm not even gonna show you the blood pudding or tell you what Spike calls it, you'd puke again" Faith stopped to laugh, "But, I am gonna make eggs, and this Turkish soup that is good for hangovers and coffee and you can take a bath upstairs."

"Faith, you're my hero," Buffy said.

"I'd wait 'till you try my cooking before you say that," Faith said.

"I think everything she makes is amazing; I think she just doesn't give herself enough credit. In fact, I know it," Spike said.

He came into the doorframe and pulled Faith's back to him into the hallway, into where the sunlight was coming in.

"Me too," Buffy said.

END _ maybe an epilogue…