Once more, another of my new BtVS fanfictions. The others include Dealing With Denial, and Second Chances. Five by Five, Or Are We will also be posted soon.

Hope you like, and please review!


Chapter One

Xander tried as quickly as he could to sum up the conversation with Anya and send her on her way. It wasn't that he didn't like her, she was good looking and she didn't try to rip his head off with every other sentence she spoke like Cordelia had...but the prom was bad enough listening to her every tale about eviscerating men throughout the ages, without turning that into a lifelong conversation. He didn't think he could take it. But then again, it wasn't as if he had women lining around the corner for him. It wouldn't be like he was settling, he did like Anya, but...He shook his head, the only girl he'd ever dated had actually left town in a semi-effort to get away from him, and the only girl he'd ever actually slept with had thrown him out afterward, tried to strangle him, then gone crazy, started working for the major Big Bad in town and ended up in a coma. And that wasn't taking into account Praying Mantis Lady, Ampata the Incan Mummy Girl and now Anya the ex-Vengeance Demon. Oh, yeah, I've got luck with the women, he thought sarcastically.

His mind trailed back to the first girl he'd actually had deep feelings for: Faith. He still liked to think that their night together still meant more to her than she had said. She had told him that she wanted, took and forgot...but from what he'd gathered from Buffy during their week stint preceding Faith's fatal human staking, she had been asking about him. Clearly Buffy hadn't known that they had slept together due to her reaction when he'd told them, but her questioning seemed to indicate that she at least had some feelings about him. And not all of them bad.

He had thought a lot about Faith during his 'road trip', or more accurately named 'The Stay in Oxnard That Should Never Be Spoken About'. He had had feelings for her even before their encounter. He'd been completely enamored with her when he'd first met her, with her crazy stories and her sexual charm. But he'd been with Cordy, so he'd pushed his feelings to the back of his mind. Then they had gone back to her motel room and his feelings had come rushing back. He'd been scared as hell leading up to the act and still mildly terrified during, but it was the after part that was his favourite bit. Pre being thrown out, of course. He had just held her, she had snuggled into him, looking into his eyes, and there was the tiniest hint of a smile, her dimples showing clearly on her face. That was where he got stumped. She had seemed happy! She had seemed like she was enjoying cuddling up to him, the feeling of his hands running along her arms. Then before he knew it he had been out of her door, clutching his clothes with her announcing she had to shower. He didn't get it!

And then everything had happened with the Mayor and she had ended up in a coma. He had told himself that he stopped feeling for her the moment her hands had begun to squeeze around his throat...he still couldn't think about that for long without his throat itching. But truth is, he didn't think he'd ever really stopped feeling for her, he'd just pushed it as far as he could into the back of his mind. While in Oxnard, he had thought about her, he didn't have much else to do during his time there, he had thought about the young girl she actually was lying alone in a cold hospital room, with no one to visit her. He knew that Buffy and Willow wouldn't have visited her, he doubted Giles had because of his relationship to Buffy, Angel had moved to LA. Xander himself was the only one that had any ties to her, no matter how fragile, and he had left town on a trip and left her by herself. He knew she wasn't exactly his responsibility, but he still felt bad about leaving.

Suddenly a huge feeling of guilt settled itself in his stomach. He had been back from his trip for a while now and yet he still had not been to visit her. He knew there was close to no way she was going to wake up, although being a Slayer that may be a different case, but he'd hate for her to wake up knowing that absolutely no one had visited her. Just a good way to make her feel even more alone...a feeling that he knew all too well. Firmly deciding on what he was going to do, he made his way back into Giles' apartment.

"Ah, Xander," Giles greeted as he reentered the apartment. "I see Anya did not manage to eviscerate you between outside and here."

"Uh, no," he replied awkwardly. "Probably not for a lack of trying though," he forced a chuckle. "Look," he continued, "something's kinda come up, so is it okay if I come back tomorrow to help you finish this?" he asked, gesturing to the large pile of books at Giles' feet.

"I suppose not," Giles sighed. "I've quite had enough myself for tonight..." he admitted. "I'll see you tomorrow, then."

After thanking Giles, Xander made his way to his car and started driving somewhere he never thought he would be going under the circumstances. Sunnydale Hospital.


He sneaked through the emergency exit, surveying the immediate area. There didn't seem to be any police around, but not wanting to take the chance, he quickly made his way through the dirty corridor. He hated that she had been moved there, but he supposed that with the Mayor gone, they figured that nobody would be visiting her, and as a 'danger to society', she would be better off removed. He hated that if they were the case, they were right about having no one to visit her.

As he approached the room he knew her to be kept in, he had the unfortunate chance of running into a nurse standing guard near Faith's door. After bumbling his way through a rather convincing lie about being Faith's brother, having been away for a while, and not wanting to waste time on paperwork when he needed to see his sister, he was able to get himself some unguarded time with the hospitalised Slayer.

She looked so pale. Pale and small. He could never remember a time when she had seemed small to him. Even when she first came to Sunnydale, her personality and outrageous stories made her seem larger than life itself, she oozed confidence and sexuality with every step. Now here she lay, in the dirtiest hospital basement he had ever seen, and that was saying something, and she looked way too young to be the girl that he had once lusted after. She didn't look to be more than a child. She was so skinny, so unguarded without the leather and make-up that she usually wore. Guilt began to eat at him again as he thought about how they had all left her alone like that, even himself.

He began to slowly walk towards her, observing her quietly while she slept. She looked innocent. He knew that, as much as he'd love to believe that was true, it wasn't. But she looked it. He slowly reached out to brush an errant strand of hair of her face, an unconscious compulsion that left him utterly confused, but as he move his hand, something happened that made him nearly jump five feet in the opposite direction.


The girl's eyes fluttered open, taking in her surroundings in a confused and a surprisingly vulnerable manner. He couldn't help the fact that he tensed, ready to bolt for security should she have enough strength to be able to attack him. He hated thinking that way, but he couldn't help it. The last time he had had any interaction with her, she had been strangling him as she straddled his gasping body, and the last time he had seen her, she had held Willow hostage with a knife to her throat. He didn't want to take a chance, just in case. He watched as Faith dragged herself into a sitting position, staring angrily at the cables and needles attached to her prone body. His breath hitched slightly...angry Faith equals not good. Suddenly her eyes flew to his.

"Who the fuck are you?" she demanded, her eyes squinting at him defensively. Despite his shock at her apparently having forgotten, or at least pretending to have forgotten, who he was, Xander's first thought was, Same old Faith...

As he opened his mouth to reply however, she quickly cut him off with another question. "Where's Mrs Lawson?"

Confused by the question that was asked both quickly and resignedly, he thought about who this person could be. A nurse? No, the nurse he had spoken to was 'Nurse Daniels' or something like that. Not exactly sunshine and roses either. If he went along the lines of her supposed show of amnesia, if it was true, maybe she could be talking about her Watcher. He didn't know hell all about Faith's Watcher, but from what Buffy had mentioned he had deduced that she had been female. Although it had seemed like they were close, like Buffy and Giles close. Would it make sense for Faith to refer to her all formal like?

Suddenly registering that Faith was staring at him with an expectant air to her features, he finally questioned, "Who's Mrs Lawson?" He just hoped that his confusion at the situation masked any residual misgivings he had about the suddenly all too small and frail looking girl in the hospital bed.

Luckily for him, it seemed to. "The fuckin' social worker, dumbass." He blinked at her bluntness. "I skipped out, what, like a year ago? Guess now I'm back in the system, they tracked me down." She sighed heavily. "So what happened? Those assholes manage to knock me out?" she asked, avoiding his eyes.

Now intrigued, Xander started to buy into this amnesia routine. She wasn't asking anything angrily, only a little defensively, she was talking about things that made absolutely no sense to him, and she seemed to truly not know who he was. Did she think she was still in Boston? Did she remember being a Slayer? What year did she think it was? And who were these 'assholes' Faith was talking about? Vampires, demons?

"Uh...what assholes?" he stuttered out. It was always a close call for Faith between asking questions and getting your ass kicked. He knew he did not want that to happen. He was also getting anxious. How long would it be before the cops came rushing in now that she was awake? And if she really did have amnesia, how the hell would she know what she was being arrested for? And if she still had Slayer powers and was completely unaware of it...hoo boy! "Faith..." he began, hoping to move the conversation from idle chit chat, as curious as he was, to the case of this supposed amnesia. Or to see if she would react at all to him saying her name. She still hadn't pushed the question of who he was, causing him to hold onto that little bit of doubt about her amnesia.

Her eyes pierced him with a vicious glare, silently berating him for the question. He tried his hardest not to flinch under her gaze, and it was a job of work to pull it off. "The guys who were tryin' to get busy with me in the alley, who the fuck do you think?" she spat at him, and he would have believed her angry facade if her eyes hadn't slid away from his immediately following after she finished her words. She sat silently scowling at her lap as if angry at herself for admitting such a thing. Xander, on his part, couldn't believe what he was hearing. Not only her angry, which, following her words, made complete sense, but...the way Faith acted about guys and the way she had responded to him following her rescue from the Sisterhood of Jhe demon, he had never had any clue that any guy had tried...that with her. Not to mention, from what she was saying, guys, plural!

He tried to respond, but every time he went to open his mouth, his lips wouldn't even open. Clearly Faith either mistook his silence as expectancy, or else, she knew he was going to respond to her words and desperately wanted to change the subject, because before he could speak, she cut in with, "And if you're waitin' for me to ask how ya knew my name, I know the sheet's right in front of you. Been in and outta hospitals enough in my life to know the drill."

Her eyes remained averted from his throughout her comment, belying the tough act she was putting on, and he was suddenly struck with the thought that maybe there was much more to the Dark Slayer than he'd ever known. Or bothered to acknowledge...he thought sadly. Maybe there had always been more to the tough front she showed to all of them than he'd ever thought about. What the hell had happened to Faith before she came to Sunnydale? Here she was almost casually stating that she had almost (at least he hoped it was almost) raped by more than one guy at a time...a casualness that almost made him terrified to think if maybe it wasn't the first time. She had mentioned a social worker, something about being in the system, so where were her parents? From what Buffy had said, Faith's Watcher had been killed by the ancient vampire Kakistos. Jesus, no wonder Faith wasn't exactly Little Miss Sunshine...

Xander sighed. As much as he was currently filled with such curiosity about Faith's past that it frankly scared him, he realised it was only a matter of time before the nurses or police started piling in. He realised that it might be a rather stupid move on his part, but he felt as if he had to get Faith out of there. Somewhere safe. Ironic, he thought dryly, trying to get the girl who tried to murder us all to a safety...

But first he needed to know exactly what year she thought it was. And he could only think of one way to do that.

"Look, Faith," he began, reaching over and retrieving said clipboard from the base of the hospital bed. "You've actually been in a coma for a while. Any injuries you had would have healed by now, but the doctors were worried about possible damage to your memory, so..." he trailed off, hoping this would work, though he still had no idea why he was doing any of this. He glanced down at the clipboard, quickly surveying the information there. Faith Lehane...I never knew that was her last name...but then he was starting to realise just how much stuff he should have known about her given how adamantly they had told her they were her friends. "I'm just gonna ask you a few questions..." he muttered.

"Yeah, sure, whatever..." Faith replied, seemingly bored of the conversation already.

"Okay, first, what's your full name?" Once Faith had replied correctly, he continued on to ask her date of birth.

"December 30th, 1982..." Faith sighed, eying him warily.

Xander blinked owlishly. 1982? That means she's not even seventeen...she was only sixteen when she killed Finch. Oh God, Xander had to stop himself from hanging his head in shame. She was only fifteen when she came to Sunnydale, when she had traveled all on her own across the country, when she had lived all on her own in the dingiest motel in town. And they had let her. A fifteen year old girl was left all on her own to live in one the places most renowned for drug users, prostitutes and just overall seedy characters. A place that she did not own, that any number of vampires or demons could have entered without her permission and slaughtered her in her sleep. Oh, God...he thought dismally.

"Um..." his voice caught in his throat momentarily as he pondered everything he'd just realised. He really needed to speak to Giles about this. Hopefully he would help. "What's today's date?" he asked quietly, trying not to convey any feeling into the question. He needed facts from her perspective. He needed to know where she was at.

"I dunno..." she began, a small crease forming on her brow as she thought. "It's, like, sometime in May, isn't it? The 13th or somethin'?" she questioned, seemingly doubting herself for the first time since she had awakened.

May. What happened in May? He wracked his brain trying to figure out what could be significant about that month that Faith could have been metaphorically sent back to that time. While he thought, he glanced down at the clipboard in his hand. His stomach dropped. Date of admission: May 19th, 1999. Shit, he thought, his heart pounding furiously in his chest, she's been faking. She's not just been taken back to before she went in her coma, but she's right in the middle of her Crazy-Psycho-Meltdown Phase! He tensed, waiting for her to rush out of the bed in front of him and either punch him or kill him. How could he have fallen for that?

He dared a glance up at the seemingly fragile girl in front of him. He was about to unleash with a series of rather harsh threats about police or the Council, or something to keep her from outright killing him. But just as he was about to open his mouth, he noted that she still had that almost adorable crease on her face. She was the picture of confusion. It was like she wasn't actually sure if what she had said was the truth. Had she really forgotten or was she just pretending? He needed to know for sure.

"What year is it?" he asked, his voice cracking slightly over the word year as he waited with baited breath.

"'98, right?" she asked, her brow creasing further as she realised that maybe all was not as she thought.

His head jerked up at that. Okay, maybe she wasn't faking. May 13th, 1998? What had happened on that date? Why would her subconscious send her back to that date of all dates? That was before she had come to Sunnydale, so if she happened to be telling the truth it was no wonder she didn't recognise him. But that meant that she also would have no idea of why the police would be wanting to arrest her. He could only imagine the damage that could be done to a bunch of cops arresting her for a murder that she had absolutely no memory of committing.

"No, actually," he admitted. He couldn't help the little part of his heart that threatened to break at the look of utter confusion and loss that passed over Faith's face at his admission. "It's actually October 19th 1999, and we're in a town called Sunnydale in California. You've been here for nearly a year, five months of which you spent in your coma." He hated what he was forcing on Faith right now, it was clearly a lot to take in at once, but they needed to get out of there. When he started to hear voices faintly echoing in the near empty basement of the hospital (he still couldn't deal with the fact that that was where Faith had spent her entire coma in), he realised that they needed to get out of there right then.

Before she could ask any questions herself, he quickly continued. "Look, I know this is a lot to take in and if we had time I'd tell you everything right now, but for now I'll just sum up, okay?" At a slight nod from Faith, he went on. "I met you when you moved to Sunnydale and you became friends with me and my group of friends," Kind of, he added silently. "There's a lot of stuff I can't get into right now, but let's just say that you and a friend of mine got yourselves into some trouble and the-" he paused, trying to break this part to her gently, "the police are wanting to question you on something that happened."

He noted the widening of the dark eyes watching him. He waited for her to explode with questions, denial, anything Faith-like. You know, aggressive. Instead, he heard her ask something he didn't expect. Something asked in a tone that was so tentative that he was almost sure that someone else had asked him instead of Faith.

"So...if I talk to them..." she paused, her eyes flitting around the room in a near panic. "Does that mean I'll have to go back to that foster family?"

There was a nearly horrified look in the girl's features that he had never seen before. Foster family? Where were Faith's real parents? And why did Faith looked so terrified at the prospect of going back to this faux-family? She didn't even seem to care about the police, though he would have thought she would have bolted by now at the thought.

"Um, I dunno..." he hedged, watching her with an open curiosity that she must have missed with the way her eyes were looking at everything except him. "Maybe..." he settled on, hoping maybe, if nothing else, this would make it an easy way to get her out of the hospital quickly.

By the time he had finished the word 'maybe', she was already throwing back the sheet on the bed, yanking the cords attached to her body and jumping to her feet. He darted over to her quickly when she swayed on her feet slightly, but stopped short when he saw the glare she threw his way. He knew better than to cross that look. He braced his hands near his sides, standing near her in case she fell, or worse, fainted. He had no idea what happened with coma patients when they normally woke up, but he also knew that being a Slayer would have healed her quicker than normal.

"So, we're, like, friends, right?" she roughly demanded, once again avoiding his eyes, rubbing her hand slightly on the spot where the needle had been.

"Yes," he asserted firmly. Even if they hadn't been as close as they should have been, he knew that he wanted to be friends. What better way to get close to her now when she couldn't remember fucking and kicking him out or trying to kill him and his friends? He was forced to admit that he still felt some of the feelings he had had for her back in the day, but...if she didn't feel the same way, then he would be more than happy to be at least a friend to her. She deserved that much. Especially now, when she had no one else. He tried not to think about how flimsy the hospital gown she wore was, or how beautiful she looked even when she had bags under her eyes and was undeniably skinnier than normal.

"Get me outta here..." he heard her mutter, watching as she began to move towards the closest exit.

Oh, God, I hope I'm doing the right thing here...he thought worriedly, following her quickly and glancing around for any nurses or guards. When he found that the coast was clear, he steered her out the door and over to his car. After helping her into the passenger seat, careful not to touch her too much, he made his way over to his own door.

He braced his hand on the door, breathing deeply. Here goes nothing, he thought, tearing out of the hospital car park. What the hell am I doing? I really need to call Giles...


Well, well, well...Xander's helped Faith escape in this version...how will that go over with the other Scoobies?

Hope you guys are enjoying!

AShadowedLife

X.