Disclaimer: Joss Whedon is God, but I'm allowing myself to play with his lesser beings. No money is being made from this, and no profit is desired. Angel, Wesley, Faith, Pike, Lindsey, Spike, Connor, Fred, Gunn, Buffy, Dawn, Willow, Xander and Anya belong to stupid idiot corporate suckers.

Notes: Spoilers for Season Six of Buffy, up to the recent one with Riley. And Season Three of Angel, up to last week's scary ending (I yelled and muttered at the tv for a good while). This picks up at the end of Angel. Oh, and sort-of spoilers for the movie.

PG13 for language and stuff. And this is unbeta'd and unedited. I'm tired. I'm going to bed.

How Crazy I Am
by Ana Lyssie Cotton

Los Angeles, CA

Fire was destroying the room nearby, the flames licking hungrily at the furniture and baby clothes. Wesley Wyndham-Price felt a sense of complete dread touch him as he turned to the man he employed. Man? Hah. Vampire with a soul, cursed to endure the torment of having a conscience after the slaughter of hundreds. He'd recently been gifted with a child, a completely human child, much to many people's chagrin.

The current state of affairs had been the result of a gas stove, and an unhappy earthquake. Wesley shivered as he stared at Angel. The Loa oracle had told him there would be Earthquake, fire, and blood.

First two were out of the way, and Angel's blood was now spattering Connor's baby blanket as the vampire held his son away from the danger of the flames.

Time seemed to slow as Angel remarked casually, "I thought we were gonna be trapped in there, huh?" He looked down at the blanket, seeming to be interested in the blood. He then smiled at Wesley, "At least I would have had something to snack on."

Wesley found himself unable to speak.

"Such a tasty little morsel." Angel continued in a soft whisper, hunger in his eyes as he gazed down at his son. Wesley felt as if he couldn't breathe, the horror he'd suspected closing around his throat like a vice.

The father shall devour the son. Why couldn't he have run with Connor when Holtz had pointed out this inevitability? Why had he cowered in indecisiveness?

"Angel." The voice was unexpected, and female.

Familiar. Both men started and Angel turned to face the brunette who watched him warily, crossbow steady in its aim.

"Faith. How delightful." Angel smiled, "Baby blood and Slayer blood. Tell me, do you think a chaser of Watcher blood would fit my palette?"

"Put down the kid, Angel." She wore a leather jacket that had seen better days, scuffed black jeans and a blue tank top. Her boots had at least three different laces in them, as if she'd had to salvage various bits of each to get them completely tied right.

"So you can shoot me? I think not." The vampire's smile turned sardonic, "I might be vindictive and a bitch to have revenged on you, but I am not insane."

"Funny, Angel, you used to be such a good conversationalist. But then, I'm sure it wasn't your voice that attracted B to you."

"And you used to be in jail."

She shrugged, and seemed to decide the crossbow was worthless while the vampire held the baby in front of his heart. "Things change."

Angel laughed, "Of course they do. Isn't that the point of life? Death, rebirth... My son as a vampire."

Faith set the weapon on the floor and held her hands out to her sides. "So. Think you can take me?" Behind Angel, Wesley crept silently closer, stake in hand.

"Wesley does. Doncha, Wes?" The vampire moved, removing himself from the center of the tableau--backing towards the still burning flames. "Best not try it, though, boy. Daddy might get mad and put the baby in the fire."

"I thought you wanted to turn him." Wesley replied softly, his voice found.

"Yeah, well, plans change. Like life."

"Funny, Darla gave hers to keep him safe."

"She was never that smart, Darla. I think it was the blonde thing. Buffy was that way, too. Y'know, that girl still kept coming back for more--even after I killed her teacher." A snort echoed in the hallway, "What are they teaching those Slayers these days?"

"How to use stealth?" Faith suggested, swinging the crossbow with all her might.

Angel turned back in time to get it full in the face, and reeled back, stunned. Without stopping, Faith slid an arm between him and the baby, trapping one of Angel's under her armpit, and leaving her vulnerable to his bared fangs.

She continued her movement, turning him, and praying that Wes wouldn't hesitate when presented with the vampire's back.

Teeth bit into her neck and she swore and head-butted backwards, staggering as the encumbrance of vampire suddenly shattered into so much dust.

Connor giggled in her arms, oblivious to anything but that someone else was holding him and he liked that someone else.

"Thanks." She settled the kid against her right hip and reached up to touch her neck. Her fingers came away bloody, "Dammit. Now I match B."

"Faith. I thought--" Wesley came around so he faced her, shock and something akin to fear in his eyes, "How did you get out of jail?"

"That would have been me." A tall man stepped into the flickering firelight. He was about Wesley's age, dark brown hair slicked back from his high forehead. His eyes were an intelligent blue with green flecks, and a ready smile seemed almost to hover sardonically over his lips. He wore a black duster over blue jeans, white dress shirt, and green embroidered waistcoat.

"Pike, Wesley. Wes, Pike. The two of you should get along well, y'know, with the whole Watcher thing."

"I don't--"

"Hey, I fee under-apprecieated here." Announced another man as he followed Pike from the shadows.

"Lindsey." Wesley said weakly, eyes wide.

"Hello."

--

"So, let me get this straight."

The group had prudently removed themselves from the vicinity of the fire, while the firemen in their red firetrucks took care of it. They'd gathered down in Wesley's office, talking over bits and pieces of the story until they were all tired of it. But Wesley was still unsure, and so he pressed on.

"You, Pike, knew Buffy before she hit Sunnydale, and you went on to become a Watcher. Then they decide they need Faith in the field and send you here to expedite matters and become her knew Watcher. Meanwhile, Lindsey runs into a voodoun priestess who tells him the Loa are agitated, and that he has to come back to L.A. and save Angel's child or the world will end."

Faith grinned, "That's about it, Wes."

He took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes, suddenly very tired. "It's all... so convenient."

"Nick of time, yes." Pike shrugged, "I've had that happen before. And, dude, you just gotta accept that the Fates are out to screw you over in the end."

Lindsey smiled calmly, "I understand your confusion, Wesley. I've got to tell you that excercising my lawyer muscles to get Faith out was something that stretched me--it's been a while. But it was good."

"Besides, you get me. And, Wes...." Faith studied him for a moment, then half-smiled, "I'm sorry. Doubt you'll forgive me, but. We have to work together on this."

"Together on what?" Demanded a voice from the doorway to the office. "'Cause I don't see any of y'all being real forthcoming with explanations of the fire and lack of Angel."

"Gunn, Fred." Wesley nodded to the two as they came tentatively into the room. "I'm glad you're back. I have some bad news..."

Faith turned to them, eyes appraising. "I'll spill it for ya, Wes. Angel's dead. He got that one moment of perfect happiness holding his kid, then, boom. No more happy vampire, it's all Dead-boy from there on out. So we staked him and saved Connor."

"And the fire?"

"Earthquakes and gas stoves don't mix."

Gunn nodded, "Uhuh. So. Who are all the rest of you?"

Connor chose that moment to wake up from his nap, and he began chirruping at nothing in particular. Fred quickly moved over to the makeshift cradle and picked him up, "There, there, Connor. We'll take care of you."

"Indeed." Wesley looked at the people in his office, "I believe it's time to take him to the Slayer."

"Uh, Wes..."

He glanced at Faith, "She needs to know. And maybe she'll have a good suggestion for where to hide him as he grows."

"I think I like that plan," Pike announced.

"No time like the present."

Fred coughed, "Shouldn't you all sleep before you go driving for five hours?"

They all blinked, then Lindsey grinned, "The lady is right, we need to pack and get provisions and a vehicle."

"Uh, I have only a motorcycle," Pike noted, "Faith will fit on it, but the rest of you..."

"We can use Angel's car." The other Watcher decided, "To bed, all of you."

****

Sunnydale, CA

Buffy Summers felt almost proud of herself. She had kicked Spike out of her life. She could do this, she could remain firm. Lusting after an undead monster wasn't good for you. It had been killing her, and that realisation was the only reason she'd succeeded in finally turning him away. A sense of despair touched her at the thought of being alone.

She shook it off as she shrugged out of her jacket, carefully hanging it on the coatrack at the base of the stairs. The house around her was silent, its occupants either asleep, or allowing her a respite from life.

A knock came from the door behind her, and she spun, angry. It had to be Spike. The bastard wouldn't take no for an answer, and she hadn't had time to de-invite him again. She yanked open the door, seething, "Spike, I told you, it's--over..."

There was a group of people on her porch. Some of them were familiar, others were not. The baby was sort of a surprise.

"Hey, B." Faith smiled at her, "We have good news and bad news."

Buffy ignored the errant Slayer, her gaze fastened on the dark-haired man who stood next to her. "...Pike."

--

In all the years since he had last seen her, she had grown more beautiful. Pike felt a sense of wistfulness touch him that he couldn't be there to see her grow. But things had been different back then. His feet had wanted to wander too much, and Buffy hadn't wanted anything to do with vampires after the gym.

There was a sense of despair about her that worried him, but he couldn't do anything now. "Buffy. Good to see you."

"Looking well for the dead, B. Like the peasant look." Faith said, filling the silence that had fallen again.

The words seemed to shake the blonde Slayer from her shock. "What the fuck are you people on my door step?"

"Well, it's kind of complicated," Wesley said.

Fred interrupted any serious discourse at that moment by twittering, "Oh dear, Connor needs to be changed." The slim girl moved towards Buffy, "It's awfully nice to meet you, but Connor is going to get cranky, and I hope you have a counter. And antiseptic wipes. I think we might have forgotten them, or they got burned when the bedroom went, and I--"

Gunn touched her arm, "Fred, it's ok." He looked at Buffy, "May we come in?"

"Oh. Sure." She stepped back, letting them all crowd into the foyer, then move into the living room.

Dawn chose that moment to come down the stairs, whining about Buffy making a racket, "I don't know why you can't just go to bed at a normal hour. I mean, I know you're the--" She broke off as she spotted the entire room full of people. "Um..."

"Heya, Dawnie."

"Pike?" The young girl broke into a wide grin, then pounced the man happily, "It's been forever, you jerk!"

The rest watched bemused as the two hugged, then Fred touched Buffy's arm. "I really need to change him. Counter?"

"Uh... The kitchen should work."

"I'll show her." Faith said softly, touching Buffy's shoulder, "You're going to want to hear what Wes has to say."

"OK." The blonde Slayer watched the whirl of everyone around her, feeling suddenly bereft of an anchor in the confusion.

Wesley seemed to notice it, and he came towards her. She realised he had changed as she looked at him. Gone was the supercilious obsequiousness. In its place sat a maturity she would never have expected from him. He would never reach Giles' stature in her eyes, but he seemed more competent than a dentist.

"I'm afraid, Buffy, that I have very bad news."

"So Faith said." She tilted her head to one side, regarding him thoughtfully. "Angel's dead."

"How--"

She smiled, then crumpled into the chair behind her, tears in her eyes, "I knew. I think I knew before... But... There was too much. Riley, and Spike and Sam, and..." She looked up at Wes, almost pleading, "How?"

"Connor is Angel's son." He knelt in front of her, catching her hand. "Angel loved him dearly, and for a moment tonight, he felt that perfect happiness required."

"Angelus."

"Yes. I can't make this easy on you, or me. I'm the one who staked him."

She studied him for a moment, then half-smiled, "Thank you. I prefer you to have done it. Faith..." She shivered, "There's too much of a vendetta there for it ever to have been OK with me."

"I know." He patted her hand. "We're actually here to ask for assylum, of sorts. Connor needs to be hidden in some way. We thought here might be best."

"Oh, what am I now, Buffy the Unwed Mother? Should go just great with Buffy the Fired Fast Food Worker."

He handed her his handkerchief and waited until she was done blowing her nose before replying. "It won't be easy. But he is being stalked by many, and we need to keep him safe."

"I could barely keep the KEY safe, Wesley, how am I supposed to keep a baby safe?"

"You'll have help, B. Me and Pike are staying here to keep Sunnydale safe for a while. Then the Council wants us to travel, become their commando squad or something." Faith snorted, "Not me, really. But I can handle it."

"Pike?"

"He's my Watcher." Faith shot the tall man a glance. He was still talking animatedly with Dawn, "I take it he knew you and Dawn."

"Yeah. He was..."

"Oh, great. I steal another boyfriend from you."

"Sort of." Buffy grinned, "We never got very far, 'cause mom and I moved out here."

"B. About, um, Dawn..." Wes had moved off, so Faith leaned closer, hoping no one else would hear, "She's not, um, real, is she."

For a moment, Buffy was silent, her eyes assessing her fellow Slayer. Then she shrugged, "She's the Key."

"Ah. Monks stuck her with you to watch her." She shook her head, "Good thing it wasn't me."

"Why?"

"Liability, B. I'm all about Number One, remember?"

"You... You would have killed her."

"Probably." Faith ducked her head, shrugging, "Now, no. Then... Yeah."

"And you wonder how I can still hate you." But she didn't, really. She felt just tired and worn, as if this had finally drained her back to the mummified husk she had been before Willow's spell reanimated her.

"I know."

Silence fell between them, and Pike finally came over, having sent Dawn back to bed with promises of his life story for the last five years in the morning over pancakes. "Buffy."

"My cue to leave. Seeya, B." Turning away, Faith caught Gunn looking at her. "What?"

"I've heard about you, rogue Slayer."

"Been called that. Called other things, too." Faith shrugged, "Can't help any of it."

"Watch your step. You hurt any of them, I will kill you. No fuss, no muss."

"Got it."

--

Morning dawned cool and clear, sunlight flirting with the clouds as the members of the Summers household awoke and prepared to do their normal routine. This was, of course, rudely interrupted by Connor announcing that he was very Not Happy with his breakfast.

Willow found him immensely cute, and took Fred and the baby both under her wing. It was a way to not think about the magic, really. Even if the kid sometimes seemed to demand it.

Dawn and Pike made a huge breakfast of pancakes, which were all pretty much demolished by the time Xander and Anya arrived at the house to escape their relatives.

Weddings were hard for two people who had demons and monsters as their relatives.

Explanations were had and talked about. Much was discussed and chewed over until about lunchtime, wherein everyone descended on the kitchen and more food.

Later that afternoon, Lindsey, Gunn and Fred left to make a food run at the nearby grocery. After all, feeding an army wasn't something the Summers ladies were prepared for.

Faith caught Buffy out in the backyard near sunset. "Hey, B."

"You never go away."

"Can't." She sighed, "I'm sorry, B. I can say it a thousand times, doubt you'll ever care. But. Your mom... She was the most fabulous mom I knew."

"Considering yours abandoned you."

"Low."

"Hey, I didn't sleep with your boyfriends."

"Being sincere, you twit."

"Yeah. Sincere." Brittleness coloured Buffy's words as she turned to Faith, "Were you sincere when you tried to kill him? Were you sincere when you stood in a police precinct and confessed to your 'crimes'? I doubt it, you're here."

"OK, B. I made some bad choices. I get that. But you don't, you don't...." Faith shook her head, "No. You do understand. And I'm sorry I can't be you. But I'm not, B. I'm me. And I'm dangerous and bad, and I sometimes forget that I'm supposed to be the Good Guy."

"Forget? Right. You revelled in it."

"Oh, come on, B, I--"

"She's right, Faith. You did. I seem to remember a night where you held a knife at my throat." Willow stepped onto the porch and looked at the two combatants. "But what was it you said? Ah, yes. 'Hurt me, and I hurt you.' And I did, didn't I."

"Yes."

"Willow--"

"Buffy, it's my turn. She had all of you. Xander, you, Giles... At one time or another, she fucked you." The ex-witch looked at the brunette Slayer contemptuously. "At least you're admitting it now."

"I am."

"Excuse me? Time out. When did Faith fuck Giles?"

"I meant figuratively--when she told him you were the one who killed that assistant guy."

Faith shivered, her eyes darkening, "I never was good at lying when it counted."

"No. You weren't." Buffy studied her, her eyes suddenly thoughtful. "I don't trust you. I don't think I ever will."

"Smart, B."

"Trust? She doesn't even deserve dinner." Willow crossed her arms, eyes flashing, "You hurt people over and over again. And you don't accept responsibility for it."

"Pot, kettle, Will."

The silence which fell then contained Faith looking at Buffy in surprise, and Willow staring at her best friend, mouth open in shock.

"You'll catch flies in there." Buffy said softly.

With a snap, the ex-witch closed her lips, her eyes flat and lifeless. "I'd forgotten. You really hate me, don't you."

"No. But I worry, Will. And I know it isn't hard. I mean, I only just..." She shook her head.

"Say, B, what was that you were saying about Spike when you answered the door last night?"

"Uhh..."

"Spike?" Willow looked between the two Slayers, puzzled. "He's sort of been on our side since he got a chip implanted in his brain, but..."

Buffy seemed to steal herself as she looked at Willow, "Spike can hit me. Without it hurting. And, and, we've been sleeping together. Horrible, kinky sex that should never happen. And I crave him. But I stopped. I told him tonight it's over, and..."

"We're not all lily-white." Faith said, looking amused.

"No." Buffy stared at the boards of the deck, trying to ignore the shocked and betrayed look she'd seen in Willow's eyes.

"Buffy, I don't... I don't understand why Spike. But I understand that craving. The need. He made you feel, didn't he."

"Yes."

"Well, aren't we a great pair: an ex-con, an ex-witch, and an ex-sexfiend." Faith chuckled sardonically, "Good thing we're on the side of Right."

--

It couldn't be said that things were easy. But they weren't as bad as they had once been. They would get worse. And they would get Dire and Dangerous. But Sunnydale has two Slayers now. And evil had better watch out.

-=-finis-=-