Book 2

-Chp. 1: The Come-out-

(Teaser)

A broom held by Rupert Giles swept away the dust of a smooth tiled floor. Behind a counter, the cash register dinged as Anya secured a sale. Further back on a table, Willow, Tara and Dawn quietly flipped pages as they perused a variety of books. Xander munched on a donut and dropped crumbs on the smooth tiled floor. Outside, people walked, cars drove by, and a motorcycle roared. Together, all the sounds merged into a hum that buzzed in the background of a typical lazy afternoon at Sunnydale's Magic Box.

But for some, this typical afternoon with all its typical routines inspired quite an atypical moment.

A hand slid Ward's Die Daemon Dichotomy into its proper alphabetical perch on the book case. It was in the midst of this mundane and tedious task that Buffy stuttered as the thoughts that had been tormenting her mind lately all came together and fused into a single terrible conclusion.

She was going to lose.

No matter what she did, all roads led to Glory. And she, the Slayer, the champion of the light, was not enough to stop her. This was the end.

The chime of the door's bells broke through the hum, and a customer started walking in when Anya noticed them and uttered a despondent "Oh no."

By the study table, Dawn looked over and let out a small gasp. Giles' sweeping stopped. And the ruminating Buffy tensed while a dreadful feeling washed over her. This was it. Glory knew.

Determined to give out one final heroic battle, Buffy swiftly turned around to face the intruder.

For a moment she stood still. She didn't quite know what to think, because standing by the door carrying a pink helmet was a woman in the worst clothing ensemble she'd ever seen worn. The strappy heels and pant suit would have looked classy and fashionable were it not for the fact they were a little big on her. Add in the men's leather jacket and weird bulky sunglasses, and she could have been one of the newly rambling crazies that plagued Sunnydale lately.

But then the woman smiled and Buffy's heart skipped.

Suddenly tremulous, Buffy took a step forward—but surprisingly Anya had beaten her to the woman.

"Hi, welcome to the Magic Box. Where we exchange goods for money." she said while giving the frumpy woman a suspicious once over. "Do you actually possess any of it? Because if you don't you'll need to leave."

"Anya!" sputtered Giles while the woman looked on in bafflement.

"What? It's a valid question. She looks homeless."

But before Anya could interrogate the stranger further somebody brushed past her.

In a daze, Buffy had reached the pair and moved in front of Anya. The strange woman watched her approach and almost seemed to be holding her breath. Now so close, Buffy's mind was screaming at her in recognition. She raised a shaky hand, and slowly, almost gently, brushed her fingertips over a dimpled cheek.

The woman gave a nervous chuckle.

"Hey." she whispered.

Buffy remained silent because at the moment she couldn't find a way to vocalize the many thoughts and feelings storming her mind. The wonder. The hope. The happiness.

Buffy's caressing hand moved higher towards the sunglasses. Suddenly, the woman had grabbed the daring hands and it was then that Buffy noticed the blooming Gardenia tattooed on the back of the woman's hand. There was a pause, then the woman released Buffy's hand nudged it up. With that silent acknowledgement, Buffy continued.

Everyone at the Magic Box watched transfixed as Buffy grasped the sunglasses. They were weird, like safety glasses with thick red lenses that completely covered and obscured the eyes. She pulled them off and couldn't contain a small whimper as she took in the familiar face. Though the woman had shut her eyes tight, Buffy would recognize her even with the new harlequin scars bisecting her eyelids.

"…Faith?"

"Y-yeah B. I uh…sorry I broke my promise. Candy on me, this time?"

Stunned, it took Buffy a second to take it in. This lack of response made the blinded Faith lose a little of her confidence.

"Or not—"

Then suddenly Faith stumbled back as Buffy tackled her and crushed her into a desperate hug. Soon, she felt the blonde shake and Buffy's happy crying sobs started filling the Magic Box. With Buffy holding on to her, Faith finally dared to open her eyes and was greeted by the astonished faces of the rest of the Scoobies. Her posture relaxed as an invisible weight was unloaded.

She was home.

~ . [ • ] [ • ]

A hand flipped a set of keys over and over.

Leaning against a Harley across the street from the Magic Box, a somber and disheveled Wesley watched the tearful reunion through the shop's windows. A black 1967 Plymouth with the top on parked behind him, but Wesley paid it no mind.

From the driver's window, Cordelia's head leaned out, her face sporting some healing bruises.

"C'mon Wes." she said gently. "Time to go."

Wesley still kept his watch.

She sighted then looked over her shoulder where in the darkness of the back seat the face of Angel peered back.

"Do you think we're choosing right?" she asked.

"I think we're choosing. Whether right or wrong..."

"Glad we're feeling confident then." Cordelia rolled her eyes. "Not like the fate of the world depends on it."

Wesley flipped the keys one more time, and then hooked them on one of the bike's clutch levers. He then walked towards his waiting friends. As soon as he got on, Cordelia pulled out.

A tense silence covered the car for several minutes until Angel decided to break it.

"You gave her the Pink one?"

Wesley smirked.

-To be Continued

A/N: Guess who's back, back again? Alright seriously, now that I've confirmed my continued existence, I'd like to explain myself. So this little tidbit came out of nowhere yesterday when after rereading my fic and some of your wonderful reviews, I remembered some of the things I had planned for this fic and got inspired. So I sat down and spit out this little teaser in order to probe the waters and see if any of the old readers were still out there. If you are, (I want to believe) then I hope you enjoyed the teaser and hope there weren't that many grammar slip ups like on The River. Really practicing my best English here.

Hope to write you soon.