Chapter 6

They turned towards me then, parked one house down and across the street from Faith's, and I thought at first that maybe it was okay, maybe they had the wrong house. But then one of them went ahead making his way really sneakily over to the right house, Faith's house, I guess to be standing there waiting, hiding for when she came out. And the other two grabbed me and threw me out the van door hard so I hit the asphalt on my hands and knees, skinned them all to shit and about passed out all over again from how much it hurt the rest of me.

"I don't' care how you do it," one of them said, "You're bringing her out, her Watcher, or both…you do that, and we'll let you go."

I wouldn't have thought I could stand up at all at that point, and I damn well wouldn't have thought I could walk across the street, up a driveway, and onto a porch. And at first I didn't even try. I just stayed bent over on my hands and knees, my head pounding and spinning so much I could hardly think anything at all, and I wasn't gonna do it.

But one of them bent down and dragged the tip of his fang across my wrist, and that was all I needed. All I could think was I didn't want another bite, I couldn't let them bite me again.

So I stood up. I don't know how, but I did it. I stood up and limped really slow across the street and up the driveway of Faith's house. They were following after me, keeping a distance, but I knew I couldn't run away, and I knew what would happen if I stopped.

The whole time I was stumbling along I was thinking please don't let her be home, don't be home, don't let her fucking be home…and she wasn't. But in the end it was just as bad.

By the time I got to the door I was shaking so bad I had to lean against it, or my legs would have just collapsed under me, and I was crying again, not making any noise or anything but tears were going pretty hard. And I was still praying no one would be home. But there was a car in the driveway so I knew there probably was.

They told me to knock on the door. They were on the porch now, at the sides, so whoever came to the door wouldn't see them until it was too late. They were right there, and I knew they'd bite again if I didn't do it…fuck, I was scared. I was hurt and scared and sick and…but it doesn't matter why. I did it. I reached out and knocked hard on the door and everything after was because of that.

It wasn't Faith who came to the door. It wasn't Faith, so for a minute I was so damn glad I almost smiled. But then I realized it didn't matter. They could use her to get Faith too, and I didn't have to look at the vampires to know they would.

The lady who answered the door looked like she was fifty or something, but she was tall and pretty skinny and pretty hot to be old, I guess, with short black hair. Her eyes were really bright blue, like a bird, and right away they got big and worried when she looked at me, gasping and covering her mouth with one hand. This must be the lady who Faith lives with, I thought, just before she spoke up with a really British accent.

"Good heavens! What has happened- how badly are you hurt? Was there an accident- can you speak? Come here, child, let me help you- let me-"

She reached to touch my shoulders really gently, like she was gonna hold me up, and she was half out the doorway now, one foot out on the porch. But once she was a little closer I guess she saw the bite marks better, because she sucked in her breath and her face went all stiff, and she tightened her hand on my shoulder and used the other one to lift my arm close to her face.

"Those are bite marks," she said in a really serious voice, looking up at me. "Good heavens, all of this is bite marks?"

It was something about the way she was touching me so gently, like she didn't want to hurt me, when she didn't even know me…the way she was looking at me like she cared, and wanted to help. And there were three fucking vampires on the porch and I'd lead them straight to this woman who was acting like she wanted to help me, and it was all so fucking wrong I started crying harder, way more than before, like where it felt like it was gonna break my whole chest open.

I should have shoved her into the house and locked the door. I should have told her to run. But I couldn't think of any of this, all I could do was stand there and bawl like a fucking baby because I knew what was coming. I knew how bad we were screwed.

But meanwhile the woman was even more worried and she put her hand on my cheek, kind of rubbed at my shoulder like she was gonna calm me down, and she took another step out onto the porch.

"It's all right, child, shh, you are safe now. I promise you that you are safe. Listen to me. I want you to think carefully. Those that attacked you…did they make you drink anything?"

I knew what she was asking. She wanted to see if they'd turned me into a vampire. I shook my head, and she repeated her question, asking again if I was sure, then sighed in relief I guess, taking my arm and kind of tugging at it like she wanted me to take her inside with her. But I could see one of the vampires move…he was coming, and I was crying so hard I couldn't see straight because I wasn't letting her know, and I couldn't move. And what I said, it wasn't what I wanted to say at all.

"I'm sorry, oh god, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry…Faith, t-tell Faith…"

The woman's eyes got really wide then, and she moved in closer to me, looking me right in the eyes like she was more than worried now, like she was scared too.

"Faith? You know Faith? Was she with you? Is she hurt? What happened, is she all right? Here," she said, and she slipped her arm around me, trying to support me as she turned her back all the way to the vampires, wanting to help me along. "Come inside with me, child, and tell me-"

I knew it was coming the second she turned her back. I wanted to scream or pull away, push her out of the way, but they were so fast…it seemed like half a second before they had grabbed her and ripped her away from me, throwing her down to the porch step so hard she skidded, smacking her head on one of the steps. She went really still then, and at first I thought she was dead. I screamed, but one of the vampires covered my mouth, grabbed me, and the other two got the woman up and started hauling her towards the van. I knew it was gonna involve Faith too…it was just that it was Faith they really wanted.

And I had just made sure they'd get her.

They threw the woman into the van and slammed the door shut, with the one vampire staying behind with me, his hand still covering my mouth for a while before he finally took it away. They were going to hurt that woman, maybe even kill her…she was someone Faith knew, maybe even loved, someone who gave Faith that huge house and lots of other stuff too probably, and she was so nice to me even before I said Faith's name, before she knew anything about me at all. She was trying to help me, and thinking about that, thinking about Faith, I didn't even try to get away from the vampire holding me or stop crying either.

"You can stop with all of that now, your job is done…great job, very convincing," the vampire smirked, and I turned my head to face him, desperate. He didn't seem in any hurry to go to the others in the van, so I thought maybe there was a chance.

"I take it back…let her go," I said, and my hair was getting in my mouth, hanging in my eyes but I didn't try to wipe it away. "Let her go, take me instead- you can have me…just…"

He looked me over really slow then, my face and all the rest, his eyes staying a while on my neck, and the blood starting to crust and dry on my arms, and his eyes were glinting like he thought I was the funniest thing he'd ever seen…and for just a few seconds, I thought he might do it. I thought maybe he would think I was pathetic enough to actually listen.

But I'm pretty damn stupid.

"Now are you asking me to go back on my word?" he smirked, shaking his head, and giving me a little shake too. "No, a deal's a deal, girl…and didn't I tell you we'd let you go?"

"I-I don't care anymore," I sniffed, gulping for breath and rolling my eyes up to try to stay cool enough to answer where he might actually listen, but I was still shivering so bad I thought I'd never be warm enough, even if I lived long enough to make it to July. "Y-you don't have to…you can…you can have me instead of her…or the Slayer…just let her go."

I sounded like a fucking little punk asshole, I bet, and looked like some weak little girl too, but there was no way I cared, if it might make him listen…I was still hoping he would. That maybe it wasn't too late.

But he shook his head, grinning, my own blood dried on his teeth, and leaned in close to my ear, whispering.

"Sorry, girl…time to carry out our part of the bargain. Time to let you go. Just one thing first though…I'm not gonna kill you…but I don't let ANYONE go alive!"

And then he bit me, one last time, but this bite was the worst of all, worse than all the other bites put together, longer and hurting worse, way worse, like a knife cutting into my throat and digging in deep, but sucking out all the things it hadn't torn through, sucking out all the blood in my body.

This time I couldn't scream. All I could do was kind of slump in his arm with my mouth open, my eyes open too, but I couldn't see anything but the black dots exploding in front of me and couldn't hear anything except the awful sucking noise the vampire was making as he drank, and my heart beat was getting slower and softer as everything blurred and spun all around me. it all hurt so much I didn't even care anymore what would happen next, as long as it would end.

My heart was barely beating when he finally pulled away, holding me up with one arm, and then there was something at my mouth, an arm, maybe, something wet and sort of bitter in my mouth and on my tongue, something that smelled like blood. I swallowed, closing my eyes, and barely felt him drop me to the porch, barely heard him walk away. I guess back to the van.

And that was where I died. Right there on Faith's porch. The rest of it, opening my eyes and figuring out what I was now, and how I was different, what I wanted to do…how much I wanted to hurt and hunt and kill, that all came later.

First, I had to die. I'd done it once before, supposedly, when I faked the car accident after Foxfire blew apart…but dying for real was cold and dark and hurt like hell, and I was all alone. And all the while I was thinking of Faith, of Maddy, and their faces were blurring together so I couldn't even tell who was who anymore, and I opened my mouth to say I was sorry but I couldn't speak. You're my heart, I wanted to say, you're both my heart, but my own heart was stopping and all I could think just before it gave out was please don't let me wake up in hell. Because I never did get to teach them how to fly, and that was all I wanted in an afterlife. Me, Faith, and Maddy, three hawks in the sky, free and strong and so fucking beautiful, on our own.