Faith looked around. She was standing in the middle of a dark hallway. She squinted, but it looked like the hallway stretched on forever in front of her.
"Oh great, are we doing this again?"
The Slayer turned slowly. Buffy was standing behind her, looking in the other direction where the hallway stretched just as far into oblivion. "Hey."
Buffy looked over at the brunette, rolling her eyes. "So," she said lightly, "Is this your dream, or mine?"
Faith glanced up and down the hallway again, not recognizing where she was. "No idea. Where are we?"
Buffy walked off to one side, touching the wall. There was a metallic sound as her fingers drummed along the surface. In the dim light Faith could make out vague rectangular shapes.
"Lockers," Buffy said. "I think we're at the high school."
"Definitely your dream then," Faith laughed.
The blonde began walking, "Come on, let's see where it goes." Faith complied and followed behind.
The younger girl felt a chill run up her spine and shivered.
Buffy noticed, "You sense something?"
Faith shook her head, "Nah, just cold." She raised her arm up, it was hard to see the goosebumps, but she knew they were there. She was suddenly very, very cold.
"This is some hallway," Faith drawled sarcastically after they'd been walking silently for a long stretch of time. "You always have the best dreams, B."
Buffy bumped shoulders with her. "Shut up. It isn't my fault. I can't control what happens."
They continued walking through the deserted hallway; the only sound was their shoes against the tile floor.
"Damn," Faith cursed, rubbing her hands over her arms, "Aren't you cold?"
"Yeah, but you've got bare arms," she held up her own arm, "I've got long sleeves. It is really cold though; I can feel the draft."
Faith scoffed, "Jesus B, could you dream of anything more eventful? If you're gonna drag me into your subconscious, least you could do is make sure it's-"
The older girl stopped walking, "Shhh. Faith, do you hear that?"
Faith rolled her eyes, but the movement was lost on Buffy in the lack of light. She stood still next to the other Slayer and listened. She could hear her breathing, Buffy's breathing, her heartbeat…
"Voices," the blonde clarified.
"Comin' from down the hall."
"Are they…" Buffy took a step forward and halted. A frown was setting on her face. "What are they saying?"
Faith pushed, but couldn't make out the words. To her it only sounded like a blending of different sounds, some screaming and some laughing. They were all high pitched though, like children's voices. It was a mixture of children having fun and being tortured. Faith cringed; the sound was melodic and airy but laced with all kinds of wrong. The kind of wrong she was Chosen to notice.
"B, this isn't right."
"No, come on," Buffy took three slow steps forward, cautious should something jump out of one of the abandoned lockers.
Faith grabbed her companion's arm, "Stoppin' you there, Buffy. Something's wrong here."
"Faith, it's a dream, what could happen?"
"In the world we live in? A hell of a lot."
"They're calling us, Faith. Let's just see what it is." Buffy pulled free of the brunette's grasp and started walking forward. Faith grumbled to herself but complied, following the blonde as she walked down the hallway.
A breeze started to pick up; Faith could feel the air rushing past her, drawing her closer to whatever was at the end of the hallway. Her dark locks tossed about and the hairs on her arms stood on end as the chill blew over her.
Buffy's pace had slowed. She turned around to face Faith as she pulled the sleeves of her shirt further down so they were covering her wrists and fingers. Her hair too was blowing in the unknown breeze, looking like honey-coloured straw on the wind.
"Yeah, I'm not liking this," she called over the gusts. "I mean, my human intuition is screaming 'No!' at me…"
"But the Slayer ain't saying a peep," Faith finished. It was true. Faith felt apprehensive and her gut was disagreeing with their continuance down the hall, but she wasn't feeling any of the usual Slayer tingles telling her something was a bad idea.
"Should we go back?"
"To where? The other end of oblivion? The hall went on forever in both directions."
"So…" Buffy looked nervous, "So what should we do? Should we keep-"
The voices, which had been drowned out with the source-less wind, picked up and were suddenly louder, overpowering the whistle of the gusts of air rushing down the hallway. They were screaming. The voices were most definitely screaming in fear.
But in amongst them Faith could still hear laughter.
What the hell was going on?
The two Slayers shared a look and then jogged down the hallway, wanting to help whoever was in trouble.
"Faith, what's that? Up ahead?" Buffy pointed as the continued moving closer and closer.
"No freakin' clue."
It was a source of light. They couldn't tell what it was, they were still too far away, but it was giving off brilliant, white light. Shadows danced on the lockers as they rushed past, looking like the claws of demons trying to grab at them.
The pair stopped short when they reached the source of the light; or rather, when they couldn't continue any farther. The light was coming from just up ahead, but something blocked their path.
"That is one big spider's web," Buffy said, looking up. The silk-coloured string of the web stretched from all four corners of the hallway, completely blocking anyone from moving further down the hall. The web shuddered slightly as the wind continued to blow. It glistened too, small beads of liquid caught on the sticky surface and reflecting the light coming from behind.
"Damn," was all Faith could manage as a reply.
The web was intricate, with pieces as thin as a hair in the center of the design weaving together and intertwining with pieces becoming thicker and thicker until they were as wide as her arm around the edges.
"I can still hear them," Buffy said, looking through the gaps in the web and trying to see what was behind it.
Faith knew Buffy couldn't see anything, because she herself couldn't. It was almost pitch black behind them and brightly lit in front of them. Her eyes were having a hard time adjusting.
"B, what are you doing!" Faith shouted as Buffy's hand reached forward, fingers about to touch the spider's web.
"Faith, we have to go through it," the blonde said with confidence.
"Are you insane? I'm thinkin' no, we don't go through it."
"It's just silk, Faith. It's not like it's poisonous. We have to know what's on the other side."
"What makes you so sure?"
"It's a Slayer dream, Faith. They always have meanings. We have to get to the other side, what's over there could be the clue we need to defeat The First."
The younger girl took a generous step back, "B, I admire your drive. I do. When you get on a task, you jump in head first till it's done. You're great at that. But, please, just think for a minute. That, that is a big web."
"Yes. But it's only a spider's web, Faith, it isn't cement. I could shred it with my pinkie."
"I'm not so worried about the actual web, B."
"Then what's the hold up?"
"Buff, I'm thinking about what made that web. That's gotta be… that's gotta be one nasty-ass spider."
The other Slayer's eyes grew wide as she realized this. Looking back at the web, Buffy's mouth gaped open. "Oh…"
"Yeah. I don't know about you, but I don't wanna be here when mama gets back."
Buffy took a small step backwards, away from the web and closer to Faith. "You know, that's actually a really good point." She paused a moment, "But, Faith, we have to know what's on the other side."
"You're absolutely sure. Like, I'm not kiddin, B. You are one hundred percent sure that we need to see whatever's on the other side of this thing?"
"About… about sixty percent sure."
"That is not a number I like, Blondie."
Buffy pinched the bridge of her nose as she thought, "Euhggg, I don't know what to do."
"Take your time, take your time. I'll just be here, waiting to be spider food."
While Buffy played general and contemplated exactly what they needed to do, Faith took periodic glances over shoulder, watching out for the web-maker. It was hard to see anything, with the light source casting the web's shadows down the hall, shadows still moving because the web shook in the strong wind, it was hard to make out any movement of the overly-large arachnid variety.
"Okay," Buffy said, speaking up.
Faith turned back to the other girl. "Yeah?"
"We go through. We rip through this thing as fast as possible, and then we go through and hope to God nothing follows us."
Faith did not like this plan. Not at all. But she trusted Buffy, and really, what other options were there? Stand around here waiting to be spider-chow? "After you," she offered.
Buffy glared but moved forward again. She reached out a hand, her fingertips hovering just before the silk strings of the web. Her fear got the better of her and she hesitated.
Buffy's hand was shaking, her nerves taking over. She took a deep breath, "I can do this. I'm a Slayer. This is a spider's web. I can do this."
She still didn't move.
"I… I can… God, Faith, I'm so freaked I can't move."
The younger Slayer gulped, "Together?" She regretted it the moment the words were out of her mouth.
The blonde nodded mutely. Faith stepped forward, one of her hands grasping Buffy's. Linked hands between them, the girls raised their free hands forward, letting their fingers touch the web.
Their terrified screams erupted in the empty hallway.
Both felt a rush of blazing white-hot heat blast its way through their bodies, paralyzing them from tip to toe as the immense feelings of pain, power, fear, courage, supreme heat and ultimate cold took over.
And then the world collapsed into darkness around them.
Faith hated sleeping at the Summer's home for one very strong reason: everyone seemed to enjoy waking her up. Faith enjoyed sleep. She and sleep were old friends. In prison she had been forced to develop a pattern with sleep, as it, along with everything from meals to washroom breaks, were scheduled. But as soon as she was out of prison she embraced sleep like an old friend.
It didn't matter that it was the apocalypse. Faith liked sleep.
And as was becoming routine, someone was waking her from it.
She was lying on her stomach, face down in the pillow. Though she was growing more and more awake by the moment, she kept her breathing even and feigned slumber, determined to figure out who the offender was.
"…it's only eight thirty." Kennedy. She sounded grumpy.
"Yeah, I know that. But we already made breakfast. It's like a breakfast train. Me, Anya, Vi, and Andrew." Dawn. Sounding way to chipper for Faith's liking. It was clearly her fault the rest of the room was becoming awake.
"What if we don't want breakfast?" Caridad.
"Well then you'll have to just jump into training with my sister on an empty stomach, won't you?"
"Fine, fine. What exactly did you make, Dawn?" Dominique.
"Eggs. Lots and lots and lots of eggs. It is like, attack of the egg monster in the kitchen." Faith could hear the excitement in Dawn's voice.
"And everyone else is already up?" Carmen.
"Working on it, this is the wakeup call. But if you want first choice, I'd head downstairs now."
Faith growled lowly when the sound of the girls stampeding out of the room filled her ears. One of Willow's hands rubbed against her arm under the blanket in comfort; the witch knew she was awake.
"Willow, aren't you and Faith getting up."
The redhead yawned, "In a minute. Though, Dawn? Next time, knocking would be a good idea." The sheets rustled as Willow sat up in bed.
"What?" Faith could practically hear Dawn's eye-roll. "It's not like you two are naked under there. You're not scarring my innocent eyes or anything. Plus, the other girls were in here. What could I have walked in on besides you sleeping?"
Right, Faith though, remembering the night before with a smile. She and Willow had managed to get themselves into some oversized t-shirts before the Potentials arrived for the night.
But if Willow's bare legs pressing against her own were any indication, neither of them were wearing anything other than a shirt.
"R-right," Willow coughed.
"Oh my God, you two actually had sex last night, didn't you! Oh my God! Yes! I knew it!"
Faith growled again.
"Dawn, any louder and the rest of the house will hear. And, you know, we'd rather that not happen."
The younger girl continued to squeal in excitement.
Without lifting her head, Faith's hands closed around the pillow she was using. Then, fast as lightning, it was whipped across the room in the direction of the doorway.
Dawn squealed again, this time in surprise. There was a plush thump as the pillow connected with something; Faith hoped it was Dawn's head.
"Out," she grumbled, head resting on her arms and still not looking up.
"Alright, I get it. I'm leaving," the younger girl giggled. "Have fun eating cold eggs. Oh, and Buffy's up and calling a meeting later today, so heads up." The door closed as she left the room.
"You didn't have to throw a pillow at her," Willow mock-scolded.
"She didn't have to wake us up," the Slayer retorted.
"She also didn't have to make us breakfast. And she did. So we should be-"
"If you say grateful, I'll pinch you."
"Same thing," Faith smirked, sitting up and smiling wickedly at Willow.
"Oh, no you don't," the redhead giggled as she leapt from the bed and out of Faith's reach. "I bruise easily."
"So I can see."
Willow's face clouded in confusion. "What…?" Then her eyes grew wide. "Oh!" she squeaked, hand running up to touch her neck. "Please, please, please tell me there isn't a mark on my neck. Please tell me I don't have a love-bite on my neck." Her face was flushing deep red by this point.
"Relax, Willow," Faith smiled. "I can be considerate, you know? Your neck's fine. No hickeys."
"Then what did you…"
Faith raised her eye brows, looking pointedly at the creamy skin of the witch's legs. On her thighs were a few marks left courtesy of Faith's mouth.
Willow made a strange noise, somewhere between a gasp and a giggle. Stretching one leg out, she inspected the marks on her skin.
Faith tried, she tried really hard, but she couldn't suppress the flare of hungry desire as Willow's shirt rode up slightly. Her voice was strained as she said, "You should get dressed, or there will be more where those came from."
Realizing Faith's meaning, the redhead nodded and moved to her dresser to find something to wear.
"It's a good thing it isn't shorts weather."
"Yeah, and you may want to consider not wearing a strappy tank top either."
"I may have left a few teeth marks on your shoulder."