Summary: Faith didn't slip into a coma after the fight scene in Graduation Day Part 1. This is an AU season 4 as a consequence.
A/N: I strongly recommend a good understanding of season 4 to follow this: Restless especially for this update.
Disclaimer:Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, 20th Century Fox, UPN and WB Television Networks own the television shows, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel". Dark Horse and IDW own the Comics. No copyright infringement is intended, no money is being earned by myself. The title of each chapter, and the story as a whole, come from Laura Marling songs/Album titles. I've been listening to her on repeat recently and I find her very fitting for Buffyverse.
I would love to hear your thoughts on my thoughts. Many thanks.
He swung his father's pocket watch back and forth before her face. "You have to stop thinking." He told her. "Let it wash over you."
"Don't you think it's a little old-fashioned?" Buffy asked him.
"I want to play, I want to play." A girl bounced behind her.
"Hush now Faith." He scolded her. "Daddy's working. Now," Giles returned his attention to Buffy, "this is the way women and men have behaved since the beginning…" he trailed off when he saw Faith drawing on his wall. "Faith!" he told her again. "I don't have time for you." He went back to swinging the watch in front of Buffy, "...before time. Now look into the light."
Faith moved across the empty room and pulled Giles by the hand, the watch dropped to the floor as he was taken from his home into the night. Faith ran off ahead of him and left Buffy to pull him through the crowd of people at the carnival.
"You should go after her Rupert." Olivia told him. "Its not safe for a young girl out at night."
"I don't have time."
"Come on! Come on!" Buffy pressed him forward, pulling him towards a stall. "We're gonna miss all the good stuff."
"Why doesn't the other one want to train this badly?" Olivia asked him.
"Well, it appears she's never heard the fable about lethargy."
"Which one is that?"
"The, the one about the fox, and the, uh, lethargic fox."
"Here," Buffy stopped and pointed to one of the games, "I want to, I want to!"
"Yes, go ahead."
He watched as Buffy held a small yellow ball and prepared to throw it at a dummy of a girl bouncing up and down. He could only watch as the ball sailed past its target.
"Buffy, you have a sacred birthright to protect mankind." He sighed, "Don't stick out your elbow." Buffy threw another ball and it hid the dummy in the stomach. He watched as the toy girl started bleeding from her stomach. Buffy spun round to look at him an expectant smile across her face. "I haven't got any treats."
"For god's sake, Rupert," Olivia scolded him, "go easy on the girls."
"This is my business. Blood of the lamb and all that." He turned to Buffy eating her candy floss. "Oh, now you're gonna get that all over your face. And you," he pointed to Faith, "you're getting blood everywhere."
"Hey!" Giles turned towards Spike in the distance. "Come on!" he continued to call, gesturing into his crypt, "You're gonna miss everything!"
Giles walked in and rolled his eyes at Faith crying at a grave.
"Don't push me around. You know I have a great deal to do." He told her walking past her and towards the vampire.
"I've hired myself out as an attraction." He explained, striking a pose for all the photographers.
"Side show freak?" Giles questioned before glancing back at the crying girl.
"Well, at least it's showbiz." Spike shrugged before posing again.
"What am I supposed to do with all of this?"
"You gotta make up your mind, Rupes." Spike said. "What are you wasting your time for? Haven't you figured it all out yet, with your enormous squishy frontal lobes?"
"I should of let Faith kill you." Giles sighed walking through the crypt.
"Would you though?" Spike stopped. "Let her kill again?"
Giles was about to reply but a bald man stepped in his path.
"I wear the cheese. It does not wear me."
"Honestly, you meet the most appalling sorts of people." he complained walking out of the back of Spikes home and into the Bronze. He made his way through the crowd and found Willow and Xander.
"I'm so sorry I'm late. There's a great deal going on. And all at once!"
"Don't we know it." Willow nodded. "Only at death's door over here, look at Xander!"
"Got the sucking chest wound swingin'." He smiled. "I promised Anya I'd be there for her big night." Giles looked up to see his girlfriend in the spot light on the stage. "Now I'll probably be pushing up daisies, in the sense of being in the ground underneath them and fertilising the soil with decomposition."
"Okay. A man ... walks into the office of a doctor. He's wearing on his head, um... Wait, there's, there's a, there's a duck-"
"Do you know this is your fault?" Willow asked him.
"We have to think of the facts, Willow. I'm very busy. I have a gig myself, you know."
"Something's after us." She pressed on. "It's, uh, like some primal... some animal force."
"That used to be us."
"Don't get linear on me now, man." Xander scolded him.
"Rupert." Willow took his attention away from Anya on stage. "You've got to focus. You must have some kind of explanation. If we don't know what we're fighting, I don't think we stand a chance."
"It's strange, it's not like anything we've faced before." Giles started to sing as he approached the stage, "It seems familiar somehow. Of course!" Giles sang down to the crowd in the Bronze. "The spell we cast with Buffy must have released some primal evil that's come back seeking," he removed his classes as he continued singing, "I'm not sure what. Willow, look through the chronicles for some reference to a warrior beast. I've got to warn the girls, there's every chance they might be next. Xander, help Willow and try not to bleed on my couch I've just had it steam-cleaned. No, wait-" he cut himself off when feedback radiated from the microphone. He dropped to his knees and followed the mic cord backstage. As he found a mess of cables he pulled out his father's watch from amongst them.
"Well, that was obvious." He looked up to find a black girl with matted hair staring down at him. "I know who you are. And I can defeat you with my intellect. I can cripple you with my thoughts. Of course, you underestimate me. You couldn't know." He found his voice faltering as the girl started to scalp him. He felt the blood pouring down his face. "You never had a Watcher."
Faith looked around Buffy's dorm room, she blushed slightly when she realised she had interrupted Tara and Willow. She looked from them to their clothes scattered on the floor and suddenly out of the window.
"Its easy," she turned to see that Tara had addressed her rather than Willow, "I've never done it myself but Will promises she doesn't even miss it." Tara continued as Willow nipped at her ear lobe.
"Yeah, well," Faith shrugged turning back to the desert outside the window, "my dad wouldn't approve."
"Which one?" Willow asked between placing kisses on Tara's neck.
"I don't know."
"My father doesn't like it." Tara told her, climbing out of the bed and joining her by the window. Faith jumped when she discovered just how close Tara was and found her body being explored by the other girl's hands. "The trick is to get away. Then you're free."
Faith turned from the window and found she was embarrassed by Tara's close proximity, she looked to Willow for reassurance but found she was simply patting the space where Tara had been.
"I'm going to go. Leave you."
"Yeah," Willow nodded, moving to the edge of the bed so she was closer to Tara again. "Go find Buffy."
Faith slipped out the room and stood in her own corridor rather than that of Stevenson Hall. She followed the passage until she was in her living room, she found she was watching her father, Richard Wilkins and Rupert Giles playing cards.
"Oh good," Richard smiled at her, "you're just in time for the next hand."
Her father dealt her into the game as she sat cross legged around the coffee table with the three men. She picked up her hand and found that the cards were trading cards. She looked at each one, she held a card depicting herself in her graduation dress, one of her in a wheelchair, one of her as a small child.
"Oh I don't have that one." Her father told her, taking the wheelchair card from her hand. "Trade you for Red Sox Faith!"
"I've got two Killer Faiths if anyone wants one." Giles smiled at the group.
"I've got nothing but Killer Faiths," Buffy sighed joining them around the table. "I swear every pack I open its just Killer Faith, Killer Faith, Killer Faith." She dropped her deck on the table and Faith saw a dozen cards with herself on, all of them dressed in a white top and a black Gilet.
"Brilliant." Richard smiled at them all, "I love Killer Faith, her special attacks are super effective."
Faith pushed her own cards away from them. "Sorry Dads, I've got to go." The three men all responded as once as she stood up to leave. She headed to the front door and heard the game resume without her. She grabbed her coat from the rack by the door and was about to slip out when a bald man appeared with a briefcase. He smiled as he opened the case to reveal lines and lines of neatly arranged squares of cheese.
She dodged passed him, out of the door and into a class room. She looked down and was surprised to see she was dressed in a plaid skirt and a blue blazer, she looked around at all the other girls, all identically dressed, sat in their seats.
"You're late. That's sloppy." Gwendolyn Post complained to her. "A sloppy slayer is a dead slayer." She pointed to an empty seat in the front row and returned to writing on the black board. "Now, who can tell me about the Spartans?" she asked the class.
Hands shot up all around her, Faith could only look around them all confused.
"Faith?" Miss Post held out the chalk for her to write the answer on the board.
Faith was just about to place the chalk to the board when an announcement rang out from the school's PA system.
"By order of the Watcher's Council of Britain," Wesley's voice called round the room, "school is recessed for the summer."
Faith was suddenly knocked off her feet. She tried to fight against it but it was too strong. She looked up and found a black girl with matted hair pinning her down. She tried to fight against her but she was too strong. "Do I know you?" was all she could muster.
"Buffy, you have to wake up right away!"
"I'm not really in charge of these things." Buffy closed her eyes again and willed Anya to be quiet.
"Please wake up. Oh please."
"I need my beauty sleep. So stop it, okay?" She rolled over onto her back and found a black girl with mottled hair handing from her ceiling. Instinctively she closed her eyes, willing the creature to go away. When she opened them again she was back in her old bed in her old room.
"Faith and I just made that bed." She complained, standing looking at the ruffled sheets.
"For who?" Tara asked.
"I thought you were here to tell me." She looked at Tara before looking around her room. "Faith's not here is she?" She leaned in close to the other girl. "I think we're starting a relationship."
"You lost her?"
"No." She shook her head. "No. I think she- they need me to find them." She glanced at the clock on her bedside table. "It's so late."
"Oh that clock's completely wrong. Here." Tara held out her hand and passed her the Tarot card, Manus, the hands.
"I'm never gonna use those."
"You think you know; what's to come; what you are. She hasn't even begun."
"I think I need to go find Fai- the others." Buffy told her sending a fleeting glance to her freshly made bed. Be back before dawn.
She walked down the one of the university corridors. Looking amongst all the faces for one she recognised. She continued down the hall until she caught something out of the corner of her eye.
"Oh, hi, honey." She smiled at her from a hole in the wall.
"Why are you living in the walls?"
"Oh, sweetie, no, I'm fine here. Don't worry about me."
"It looks dirty." Buffy frowned at her, trying to get a glimpse of the space around her.
"Well, it seems that way to you." Her mother smiled at her. "I made some lemonade, and I'm learning how to play mahjongg. You go find your friends; your girlfriend."
"Mom!" Buffy blushed and tucked a couple of hairs behind her ear.
"Its okay. We've all experimented. Before I met your father I-"
"MOM!" She stopped herself from saying anything more when she found her mother was laughing at her.
"I-I'm sorry, dear." She continued to giggle at her. "A mouse is playing with my knees."
"I really don't think you should live in there..." She trailed off when she spotted Faith walking up the stairs to the second floor of the building.
"Well you could probably break through the wall." Buffy didn't catch any more of what her mother said though as she tried to catch up with Faith. She continued through the corridors until she found two people sat at a table in the Initiative.
"Hey there, killer." Riley smiled at her.
She ignored him though and turned her attention to the other at the table. "Faith," she smiled, "I've been looking for you."
"I've been here the whole time, B. How hard did you look?" She said. "Riley and I are drawing up a plan for world domination."
"The key element?" The boy smiled. "Coffeemakers that think."
"World domination?" she frowned at the pair of them. "I-is that a good?"
"Baby," Faith smile broadened, "we're the government."
"You're the government?"
"Yeah," stood up and went over to the map on the wall. She pulled down a picture of a brain scan. "I got a chip in my head. Now I'm harmless."
"You don't need a chip in your head."
"She's uncomfortable with certain concepts." Riley explained to Faith. "It's understandable. Aggression is a natural human tendency." He looked back to Buffy. "Though you both do it a little differently."
"Did you just wink?" Buffy frowned at him. "You don't wink. You never-"
"The demons have escaped. Please run for your lives." Buffy looked around for the source of the voice but found that Riley and Faith had jumped up and were readying themselves for action.
"This could be trouble." Faith told him.
"We better make a fort."
"I'll get some pillows." She agreed before the both headed off.
"Wait!" Buffy called out after them finding a bag by her feet. "I have weapons!" She knelt down and opened the bag, but finding nothing but mud inside abandoned it and headed out after the pair of them.
She followed them down the corridor but found herself in the desert. She looked around but could only see Tara.
"Have you seen Faith?"
"Of course not." She replied, "That's the reason you came."
"You're not in my dream."
"I was borrowed. Someone has to speak for her."
"Let her speak for herself." She told Tara turning her attention to the black girl with mottled hair. "That's what's done in polite circles." She sighed as the stranger started to circle her. "Why do you follow me?"
"I don't." Tara said as the girl shook her head.
"Where are my friends?"
"You're asking the wrong questions."
"Make her speak."
"I have no speech. No name. I live in the action of death, the blood cry, the penetrating wound. I am destruction. Absolute ... alone."
"The Slayer." Buffy realised with a sigh.
"She is not alone." Buffy said.
"The Slayer does not walk in this world."
"She walks. She talks. She dances, she sneezes. She'll to be a fireman when the floods roll back. There's trees in the desert since you moved out. And she doesn't sleep on a bed of bones."
"Now give me back my friends." Buffy said, her voice once again her own.
"No friends! Just the kill." The slayer told her. "We. Are. Alone!"
A bald man leant in between herself and her predecessor waving two squares of cheese in her face.
"That's it." Buffy sighed, turning away from them all. "I'm waking up."
She was knocked from her feet by the Slayer and they rolled in the desert sand. Buffy found her footing and started to fight, taking control of the battle. Taking control of the war.
"It's over." Buffy told her. "We don't do this any more. Enough!" Buffy looked around and took in her mother's living room. Her friends, her Watcher, Faith sleeping around her. She stood up just to be knocked back to the floor.
The slayer leapt on top of her and started to stab her repeatedly in the abdomen.
"Are you quite finished?" Buffy asked her with a roll of her eyes, pushing her from her. "It's over, okay? I'm going to ignore you, and you're going to go away." She got to her feet and brushed herself down as she started to walk back to the sofa. "You're really gonna have to get over the whole primal power thing." She turned to face her before sitting down again, "You're not the source of me," she took in Faith sleeping besides Willow, "of her." She picked up the blanket and settled herself back in. "Also, in terms of hair care, you really want to say, what kind of impression am I making in the workplace? 'Cause-"
She opened her eyes and looked back around the room, she let out a sigh of relief when she saw her Watcher, her friends, her… Faith… stirring around her.
"The First Slayer." Willow looked around the dining room table at them all. "Wow."
"Not big with the socialisation." Xander nodded.
"Or the clothes." Faith added.
"Somehow our joining with Buffy and invoking the essence of the, the Slayer's power was an affront to the source of that power. Faith," he turned to her, "I can only imagine you got trapped with us as you're where the slayer line lies."
"Me?" She frowned back at him.
"You are the active slayer." He nodded adding a smile to reassure.
"You know," Buffy interjected, thinking about what Giles had said previously, "you could have warned us about the affrontage before we did it." Buffy scolded him.
"I did. I said there could be dire consequences."
"Yeah, but you say that to me about watching too much TV." Faith said pushing her chair back, suddenly finding the room very confining. "Mind if I grab a shower, B?"
"Come on," she took the girl by the hand and led her by the hand, "I'll find you some towels. So what did you dream about?" she asked her once they'd reached the top of the stairs.
"Willow and Tara. My three dads." Faith shrugged. "The usual."
"You usually dream about Willow and Tara?" Buffy smiled at her. Faith simply rolled her eyes at the smaller girl as she was handed some towels. "I dreamt about you." Buffy told her eventually. "I couldn't find you."
"You were looking for me?"
"That's it, cool?"
"For now." Faith moved in and brushed her lips against the side of Buffy's cheek before she stepped into the bathroom.
Buffy touched her cheek, then the closed door and thought about the girl the other side of it. For now. That would do, for now. She caught a glimpse of her bedroom out of the corner of her eye, she approached her room and looked back inside it. It hadn't changed.
You think you know; what's to come; what you are. She hasn't even begun.
She turned back to the bathroom, she could hear water running behind the door. It hadn't even begun for her; yet.
Thank you all very much. I had a lot of fun with this story. I hope you enjoyed reading it.
Please let me know what you thought, good or bad - all feedback is greatly appriciated.
Many thanks, circusfreak88