Disclaimer: The characters aren't mine, they belong to
the wonderfully insane people who created them, and
apparently to some other people who paid lots of money
to own bits. I'm just borrowing them for a bit. Title
belongs to Stevie Nicks, whose lyrics inspired this.

Spoilers: Little bits of most things Faith from Graduation
Day onward. Use of Dawn as a plot device.

Summary: Faith returns to Sunnydale, post-Judgement.

Rating: R

Pairing: Faith/Buffy

Email: chbkamen at optonline dot net

Site: http://bite.to/bloodandfire

Feedback: give it to me baby! uh huh! uh huh!

Dedication: the gals and guys of Fanfic Revolution
http://fanficrevolution.org, who continually impress me
as people as well as being some of the most talented authors
I've ever read. Y'all rock my world.

Archive: sure, just ask first.

Author: cheebs!


Buffy arrived home after a long day at work and an even
longer night of slaying. She'd barely made it in the back door
when the front doorbell rang. "Dawn, can you see who that is?"
she called, certain the cartoon din in the other room signified
the younger woman's presence. Although in her third year of
college, she still had many childlike traits as a result of
her genesis; watching cartoons was but one.

" 'Kay," came the reply, then the sound of footsteps to
the door...but there was no hinge squeak, just a sudden, angry
hail of dings and dongs.

An odd feeling that usually meant danger came alive at
the base of the Slayer's skull while another sensation gnawed
at her gut. Quickly, silently, she went to the living room,
to find her sister inching away from the door, eyes saucer-
wide and mouth agape. A glance at the door's window brought
bile to her throat. Just barely visible through the glass
were familiar dark brown curls.

"Dawn, go to your room and lock the door," Buffy said
in a calm tone that sent shivers down Dawn's spine; hastily
she did as she was told.

The blonde glared at the door, as if to burn a hole
through it and the woman beyond. She steeled herself with a
deep breath and gave the knob a mighty yank. "Faith," she
hissed through clenched teeth, automatically dropping into a
defensive stance. "Out so soon? Can't be for good behaviour."

"Hey, B." The once-rogue Slayer spoke quietly as she
held out her open hands, then opened and lifted her black
leather jacket, slowly turning to reveal her lack of weaponry.
"I didn't come here to fight."

Buffy's hazel eyes narrowed. "Well, there's a first
time for everything," she commented icily, dropping her fists
but not her guard. "So, why are you here? And don't you dare
try to apologise, or say you've changed...." Her threat went
unspoken, but it was apparent.

Faith sighed and ran a hand through her unkempt hair.
"Wouldn't dare. Can I come in for a few?"

The blonde hesitated, then stepped aside. As the hallway
light streamed out, Buffy's eyes widened imperceptibly at the
other's pale skin, dull hair and shadowed eyes, but she
remained composed. "Well?"

"B...Buffy, I gotta sit." The brunette limped inside,
heading for the living room. Noting the older woman's
expression, she offered as explanation, "Took a couple of
beatings; they didn't all heal right." She settled into the
nearest chair, coiling her legs beneath her.

Buffy, leaning against the doorjamb, nodded in reply.
"It could've always been worse...at least you didn't die."
Her mouth twisted wryly.

"Heard about that from Angel." Faith's expression nearly
matched the blonde's as she quipped, "Death would've been
easier sometimes. First couple of months I did a lot of time
in solitary for fighting. Had too much time to think, and once
the pills cleared up my head" -- here she paused, wishing she
hadn't revealed that minor detail -- "it was all I could do,
and what I thought about most was how I fucked everything up...
and I'm sorry." She held up a hand, stalling the inevitable
comments. "I know, you don't care...but maybe someday you will.
Won't change anything. I was beyond cruel, and knowing that
hurts in ways you should never know." Her midnight eyes looked
everywhere but at the woman to whom she spoke.

Empathy and pity flitted across the native Californian's
features, then dissolved. "I...um...thank you, I guess. I
doubt that's the only reason you're here, though." She crossed
her arms impatiently as she insinuated herself onto the sofa.

'That's my girl, all business and no fun,' the Bostonian
thought. Aloud, she said, "It's related to a dream I had."

Immediately Buffy tensed and her demeanor shifted.
"Prophetic...?" she prompted, but was met with silence. She
sighed and remarked, "Faith, I faced a Hellgoddess -- make
that the Queen Bitch of Hell -- and _won._ There's nothing
you can say that will faze me."

Faith had a brief flash of herself raising her eyebrows,
giving a wolfish smile and challenging, 'Wanna bet?' but
common sense won out. "Dream was about you...me...old times...
got me thinking about how things went so wrong, and why."

Something resembling regret flickered in the elder
Slayer's eyes. "I've often wondered about that myself. Why
did you hate me so much?" She leaned forward, anxious to hear
the answer.

The younger Slayer closed her eyes and inhaled deeply
through her nose, then opened them again, letting the
fathomless depths bore into the other woman's now greyish orbs.
"Because...I loved you," she voiced shakily, eyes widening at
the sound of those words spilling from her full lips.

"You...what?!" Buffy was incredulous.

"I loved you." Faith's voice was stronger and had a
hard tone to it which hadn't been there previously.

The blonde choked back something resembling laughter.
"What do you want from me, Faith? What did you expect me to
say? Or do? Did you think I'd discover some long-hidden, deep-
seated feelings for you?" She paced angrily, gesticulating
with her hands, before stopping to face the brunette, legs
slightly apart, feet firmly planted and hands on her slim hips.
"Did you even bother to think at all?"

With indescribable speed Faith sprung from her seat,
her right hand extending to Buffy's throat mid-flight. Her
momentum carried them both to the floor where the smaller
woman's head hit with the dull wet thud only a serious skull
fracture could produce. Hazel eyes widened in panic as copious
amounts of something warm soaked Buffy's shirt, both front and
back. Dimly she registered something -- no, make that some
_things_ -- digging into her neck. Panic gave way to years
of training and survival instinct, and finally grim realisation,
as attempts to dislodge Faith's hand failed. Her grip on the
dark Slayer's arm did not lessen, determined as she was to
free herself or break the other's limb with her effort. Pain
emerged from the slow burn of the injury inflicted by
surgically-sharp fingernails, causing her to wince, in turn
causing blood to bubble up into her mouth. She gagged on the
thick metallic taste and coughed, sending a crimson spray
onto her attacker, who still knelt heavily on the elder
Slayer's abdomen.

What started as an odd shaking became a low rumble
which barely passed for laughter from the now-obviously
psychotic woman. "Loved," she snarled, accenting the 'd.'
"_Past tense,_ you dumb, self-centered bitch." She twisted
her hand, embedding her nails deeper and widening the wounds.
"I can't believe you let me in the house, much less bought
that someone had actually been able to cripple me; had them
all wicked scared of me after the first day." She bounced her
leather-clad knees hard, forcing air and more blood from her
victim's mouth. "What the fuck were you thinkin', B? I just
spent eight years in prison, with little to do but weight
training. Picked up a few martial arts styles from the other
inmates; a few of their nastier tricks, too." Faith leaned
forward until her face was but an inch away from that of the
woman beneath her, shifting all her weight against already
bruised ribs, delighting in the cracking which followed. "And
to think, you were the one who insisted I go to jail! Gotta
hand it to ya, it was the best I ever had it: roof over my
head, three squares a day, freshly-laundered clothes on my
back. Food sucked and the uniform wasn't my style, but hey,
can't have everything, y'know? But I _can_ have the one thing
I've wanted for the better part of a decade...." She freed
her arm from the weakened grip and raked her long, razorlike
thumbnail along Buffy's neck, slitting the artery wide open as
she settled back on her heels to avoid the bloody geyser.
"You tried to kill me, twice. You _did_ kill the only person
who ever cared about me enough to care _for_ me. Payback's a
real bitch...so am I." Her voice dropped to a low growl on
the last three words. Mad eyes glittering near-black, she ran
a gore-covered digit down the doomed blonde's front, creating
a trail between her barely-there breasts, before bringing it
to her mouth and sensuously licking it clean. "Always
wondered what you'd taste like, B," she purred with a
maniacal, bloodstained grin.

That smile, which had once held such fascination for
Buffy, was the last thing she saw as her vision finally
succumbed to the long-encroaching darkness. A few words,
tinged with laughter and something else indefinable, made
their way into her fading consciousness:

"Who's the world's best actor now?"