DISCLAIMER: The Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters are the property of Mutant Enemy, Joss Whedon, and Fox Studios. The story contents are the creation and property of Djinn and are copyright (c) 2002 by Djinn. This story is Rated PG.

Just the Same By Djinn

"I didn't mean to do it."

"Sure you did."

"I didn't. I just lost control."

"And as I remember that excuse never flew for me."

"You're different."

"Different? How?"

"You just are."

"Well it's nice to see you're embracing the zen and all, but I'm not seeing the difference."

"We're different. End of story."

"Hey, don't run away. It was just getting good."

"I don't think so."

"Well, I do. Hold up a minute."

"No!"

"Yeah you say no, but your legs say yes. Or you wouldn't have slowed down."

"Shut up."

"Oh now there's a good comeback. That was big back in what? Fifth grade?"

"I said shut up."

"Whoa. Almost got me there. Good thing for those reflexes. Almost as good as yours, I bet."

"We're not the same."

"Oh yeah. We're different all right. Notice who takes a swing and who holds back."

"You don't count."

"I've always had that feeling from you. But why exactly is that?"

"You're evil."

"Oh."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Nothing. Just oh."

"You don't think you're evil?"

"Well, no. Not anymore."

"You'll always be evil."

"Not big on the forgiving, are you?"

"I can never forgive you."

"Ok, sure. Whatever. But can you forgive yourself?"

"For what?"

"For being like me."

"I'm nothing like you."

"Right. I forgot. Because it's not like you like the sex rough? Awfully quiet suddenly. And it's not like you get off on the power, is it?"

"I don't."

"Sure. Or wait, it's not like you beat the crap out of someone who was only trying to help."

"Spike isn't Xander."

"Fortunately for him or he'd be dead."

"Or Wesley. Or even me if your plan had worked."

"Yeah, we've covered this ground."

"You're evil."

"I was. You won't hear me denying it."

"I'm not like you."

"You're exactly like me."

"Get away from me."

"There you go running away again. Good thing I can keep up."

"Go away."

"I can keep up because I'm like you. I understand you."

"You don't know what it's been like. They all want me to help them. I can barely help myself."

"What part of that do you think I don't get?"

"The all of it part. You didn't help anyone."

"Bull. I helped plenty. It's what we do, in our blood."

"Till you went evil."

"And God, what a relief. Tell me it wasn't a relief to do exactly what you wanted to do for once?"

"It wasn't."

"Liar."

"I'm not."

"You are. Tell the truth."

"Well...maybe a little."

"Yeah. More than a little."

"Maybe."

"He's part of that."

"Yeah but he's evil."

"He made you feel good, didn't he?"

"He did. But he's still evil."

"And he loves you."

"That doesn't matter."

"Why not?"

"Because he's evil."

"Broken record much?"

"You think it's nothing? You think it doesn't matter that he's evil?"

"You're just afraid that you're like him."

"No."

"And like me."

"No!"

"Well, you know what? You're not like me. Not yet."

"Good."

"Don't you want to know why?"

"No."

"I'll tell you anyway."

"I don't care."

"You should."

"Fine. Then tell me."

"You're not like me because you're not sorry."

"Sorry? You think I'm not sorry for the things I let him do to me?"

"That's guilt. And that's stupid. You were just letting off steam. Nobody got hurt. Not really."

"Then what am I supposed to be sorry for?"

"For hurting him. Deliberately."

"Oh."

"You did hurt him."

"He probably liked it."

"That's what I used to say about Xander and Wesley."

"They didn't."

"How do you know?"

"I just know."

"Well he didn't either. I just know."

"Leave me alone."

"Not gonna happen. You have to go to him. You have to say you're sorry."

"Fine. I'll say it."

"You have to mean it."

"I won't."

"Try."

"Why do you care?"

"Because I don't want you to turn out like me. Especially not now. Because of her."

"Who?"

She's going to need you."

"Who?"

"My replacement."

"Huh?"

"Why do you think I'm here?"

"Because you're a pain in the ass."

"Try again."

"You were bored in prison and learned astral projection instead of a useful skill?"

"No. And it's not projection. I'm here."

"I'm dreaming."

"Yes, you are. But I'm still here."

"Lucky me."

"Hear that?"

"It's the phone."

"It's news."

"The machine will get it."

"You need to take it."

"Fine." Buffy forced herself fully awake, reached for the phone. "Hello?"

"Buffy Summers?" A British voice.

"Yeah."

"We regret to inform that you Miss Carpenter was killed in prison."

"Who?"

"Faith Carpenter."

"She had a last name." Buffy looked around the room. It was empty.

"Her death will activate the next slayer. We're trying to identify her now."

"Identify?"

"These are confusing times. Two slayers at once. One that keeps insisting on coming back to life. It's all most unprecedented. In the muddle, we've just slightly lost track of the new one."

"Slightly?"

"If she finds her way to you, please call us."

"Call you? So you can ruin her life the way you did mine? The way you did Faith's?"

"She is a slayer, we are watchers. It's the way this has been done since the beginning. You will call us." It wasn't a question. The phone went dead.

Buffy swung her legs out of bed. "Faith?"

Nothing.

He stood up. "Faith, please? I want to talk."

Still nothing.

Buffy heard a noise down the hall. She listened for a minute, heard it again, coming from Dawn's room. She opened her sister's door quietly. The girl was dreaming, covers twisting around her.

"No! You're never here!" Dawn cried out as her hand reached, then suddenly punched out and hit the leg of the nightstand hard. It broke. Her hand wasn't injured from the blow. She didn't wake as the table collapsed, as her things fell to the floor.

"No," Buffy moaned, this time in unison with her sister.

"My replacement. She's going to need you." Faith's voice was a ghostly echo.

FIN