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Previous Chapter: Fluctuation
Next Chapter: Recognition

What the hell have you been doing, Buffy? 

She felt like she was drugged. With what, she didn’t have a clue, but she had an overwhelming sense of goodness. Like nothing could ever go wrong, and everything in her life was eternal rainbows and butterflies and puppy dogs. Which was really disconcerting, in a way. She should’ve been worrying about something. A lot of somethings. How she was going to get out of town, what she’d have to do until she could, how to blend in and be Buffy

Instead, she felt like skipping through the cemetery on the way to her new temporary home.

Not that she actually could, because Buffy’s body was totally trashed. It wasn’t just that doped up feeling, either. She was tired. Like she’d just gone more than a few rounds, with more than a few demons, and never got to have a breather. The breathing itself was hard. She was the freaking Slayer! She shouldn’t have been out of breath just from jogging a few blocks. Her muscles burned and trembled, threatening to give out. She’d felt better waking up after eight months in a coma, atrophy and all. How the hell had Buffy matched her, feeling like this? For that matter, how had Buffy even been out at the Bronze to begin with? Dancing and drinking and grinding all up on her new honey, in the same body that made Faith dizzy just to jog in. 

The entire world had turned upside down while Faith had been in that coma. The mayor was gone, and Angel — the soulful, tortured vamp Buffy had stabbed her over — had left town. And Buffy…

She’d expected to find the same old, higher than thou Buffy, who could do no wrong. But what she’d found was a Buffy that didn’t care what her friends thought. Didn’t care what society thought. Didn’t care what anybody thought about her macking on a vampire out in public like that- not that she had before exactly. But the way she’d been was something else. She was more… Free.

Really kind of a shame she hadn’t been like that before. They could have been so tight, like it should have been. Two Slayers, having each other’s backs, taking on the night together. Like they’d been doing until that guy had been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Then she just couldn’t drop it, and everybody else had to get involved, and… None of them understood her. They couldn’t just move past it. They all wanted to dwell and talk about their feelings, blah blah blah.

The mayor hadn’t judged her over an accident, even though it had resulted in the death of a close friend of his. He’d just welcomed her with open arms, let her be herself, and made use of her talents. Made her feel for the first time in her life like she belonged. That her darkness wasn’t a bad thing.

You’re like obsidian, Faith. All darkness, and nobody pays you any mind when they see you sitting there with all the other brightly colored stones. But when given a little attention, some TLC, the right care… it shines just like the rest of them do. And so can you.

They just didn’t know how to appreciate her qualities. She wasn’t all proper and joyless and law abiding. So they’d all turned on her, Buffy more than anybody else. She’d stabbed her with her own knife and left her for dead. Over a guy, who wasn’t even in the picture less than a year later. Must’ve been some pretty bad sex.

That new vampire of hers, though. Big step up from Angel. Girl was moving on up to badder- and probably bigger- things. Good for her. Or, good for Faith. Since everything that Buffy had was now hers. New body, new life. New delicious boyfriend that she was dying to take to the sack. She had a months long dry spell to make up for, and if what she saw in the club was any indication, the guy knew his way around a body. Knew what he was doing with his hands and mouth. Probably way better than Angel could ever hope to be. Want. Take. Have.

Not a bad consolation prize, considering she’d probably have to be in town for at least a few more days. Longer than she really wanted to be, but with her body in the shape it was in, there was no way she was going to be able to make it on the streets. She’d need her strength back, and she needed to get her hands on some cash and a plane ticket. Not easy things to come by, but Buffy had that oh so wonderful and fabled support system of hers. Her mom, Giles. Even the damn scooby gang had some use on occasion. Right now, that use needed to be funding her grand exit from Sunnydale.

She could play nice until then, even if she wanted to kill them all. Contrary to what they thought of her, she actually did have some self-control. She just very rarely used it.

It had been a busy week. First running from police, then the Council. Then getting the thing from Wilkins, and trying to find Buffy for the last five days. Sleeping wherever she could, and scrounging meals. Tracking everybody down, which had been a real pain in the ass. Harris was still living in the basement, of course. No surprise there. But Willow was a big fancy college chick now. Had her own dorm room and everything. It had taken freaking forever to figure out which hall she was in, and which room. It had been worth it though- Buffy had been in college, until a few months ago. She was listed as a dropout, but all her stuff had still been in Willow’s room. So she hadn’t exactly been around for a while. 

But now she was back, and had packed all her things up and taken them with her. Which meant she was back in the warm little safety net she loved so much, at home with Joyce. Who’d probably be welcoming her sweet, precious little hero of a daughter with a nice hot meal on the table right about now.

Faith had some serious work to do on her new digs. Get some fuel to it, so it could heal from whatever the hell wound was still there, pinching in her abdomen. Recover her strength. And skim a little cash out of Joyce’s purse every couple of days until she had a nice little stash tucked away. Shouldn’t be that hard. Sweet innocent Buffy would never be stealing money from dear old mom. Joyce would never even suspect. 

It was a plan, and it was workable, and it wouldn’t take that long before she was on her way out of there and on to a new life. Be Buffy for a few days, maybe a week, and then disappear without a trace. Something she was pretty good at.

She walked up the stairs, hesitated a moment before letting herself in. No reason to knock, right? This was her house now. This was her porch.  She lived here. All her belongings were here. Want. Take. And now she finally had. She had a house, warm bed, stable life for the first time… ever. Rocking new boy toy to make use of. Yeah. She could work with that, for at least a few days.

She let the door shut behind her, and knew she’d been right about that hot meal waiting for her. For Buffy, anyway. Never any kind of hot meal meant just for her

“Buffy? Is that you?” Joyce called out from the kitchen, shaking Faith out of her mood. Then she practically came running out, concern all over her face. “Oh, thank God. I was so worried about you. I came home from the gallery, and you weren’t home… You didn’t leave a note, or call. I didn’t know what to think.”

Huh. Since when did Buffy have to let her mom know she was going places? And if she had to, since when did she disobey? Perfect little Buffy, always following other people’s rules and limitations. Now all of a sudden, she didn’t? Which meant Faith already had to cover her own ass, because Buffy would’ve had to.

“I just needed to get out for a while, I guess. Sorry. I forgot…”

“No, don’t be sorry Buffy.” she sighed, pulling Faith into an uncomfortable hug. “I’m just glad you’re home, and you’re okay. I was so afraid that something had happened. That I’d lost you again.”

Lost her again? Okay, hold on. Clearly, Faith was missing out on something big. Not that she cared what the hell had been going on for the last eight months, especially in Buffy’s life. It wasn’t her problem to try to fix whatever little meltdown Buffy had been having, or to repair damaged relationships. She was just there until she was in good enough shape to make it on her own again. She was kind of curious though. Did Buffy run off to Narnia for a couple months? Get kidnapped? Go to a psych ward? Now there was a fun image.

“Buffy? Are you sure you’re alright?”

She thought about that for a minute before answering. Buffy was obviously going through some shit. Regardless of what it was, she was finally embracing a wilder side. About damn time, too. And from what Faith had seen, it wasn’t too far off, really, from how they’d been before all the stupid crap had happened between them. 

A little detached from her friends, less concerned with society’s rules. Buffy was finally trying to just enjoy herself. Which, incidentally, worked out perfectly for Faith.

She didn’t have to hide how she was. Not really. Just dull it down a tiny bit. Kill the vampires and do what was right, while having whatever fun she wanted.

“Five by five.”

“I made dinner. Uh, pot roast. I figured, you know… You could use all the protein you can get. You lost so much weight while you were… anyway, you hungry?”

Faith suddenly felt self-conscious in her new body. Yeah, she guessed she was pretty thin. She hadn’t really noticed it before. Buffy had always been like a rail anyway, but… When she ran her hand over her stomach, she could feel the rib bones jutting out. Like she’d been starving for a few months, at least.

“yeah… “

“Come on. We’ll get some food in you, and then we can… watch some tv? A movie? Anything you want.”

“Count on it.” 

 

***

 

Joyce had asked her half a dozen times over breakfast if she was feeling alright, how she was sleeping, blah blah blah. And Faith kept insisting that she was great, and everything was fine. The vague excuse of just ‘being a little tired.’ 

Then Joyce mentioned the night terrors. How it was good Buffy was finally starting to cope and move past things. How it was nice to not wake up to screaming. Not that it was Buffy’s fault that she’d been waking her mom up screaming. She’d been through so much and all. It was just… nice to see some signs of healing. And she wasn’t talking about the gunshot wound, but it’s good that that’s healed up so nicely, too.

Which got Faith really curious as to what exactly had gone down while she’d been in that coma. Mayor killed, school destroyed, then what? She had no idea. So, she figured, she should probably try to get one. Somebody was going to ask specifics at some point, or mention something she should know about, and she could only deflect so much before they had enough and pushed. Like they had last time. She excused herself and headed up to Buffy’s bedroom, in search of answers. 

She dug through the desk first, and didn’t find anything interesting. Just junk, crafting stuff, and a puke worthy photo album of Buffy and her friends. Nothing she wanted in the dresser either. Plenty of tame lingerie and bras that had probably never been worn for anybody. No passport, no wallet, no ID. No money. The bedside tables had even less going on. But there, hidden between the mattresses, Faith’s fingers touched something hard. A book. A diary. 

Buffy’s diary.

“Hello, beautiful.”

She grinned as she pulled it out before flopping down on the bed on her stomach. Watcher’s diaries were always dull and lifeless, literally. Slayer fought, slayer died. On to the next. But a Slayer’s diary? That had to have some juicy little bits in it. Anybody but Buffy, that was. Trysts and one night stands, nights out, fights that really got the motor revving. That full body buzz feeling. The adrenaline. 

Buffy’s diary, however, read like a jaded schoolgirl who never grew up past graduation. Faith flipped through page after page, skimming through and looking for anything that might give an indication of what the hell had happened, and her disappointment grew. Stuff about the summer, and going to the beach, and shopping, and getting ready for college, and being so ready to start a new chapter in her life. Blah blah blah. Boring stuff. There wasn’t anything in there about running into some big bad, or getting her ass kicked by one, or getting shot. Nothing. 

Then on the last page, something different.

Nov 29- I swear, I could kill Willow for that spell. All the cookies in the world do not make up for the fact that she made Spike and me fall in love and get engaged. Not even to mention putting us all in danger. Xander and Anya could have been killed. Like, I get it. She’s heartbroken over Oz leaving. It’s not the end of the world though. But turning to magic like that? That’s not the answer. Time will make it better. Not that she listens to me, who has actual experience with the time healing wounds thing. Not like I killed my boyfriend or anything. Geez. At least it’s over now and everything is back to normal. Other than the weird glances Spike keeps giving me sometimes. I’m sure he does it more than I catch him at it, but I really don’t want to look at him that much, after all that happened. I was having enough dreams about him before she did her stupid spell. It really, really didn’t help with that. Now I have actual memories of sort of being with him, and my mind is going crazy with it. I wish they’d just stop already. Oh, I know! Why not just do a spell!? No? Guess I’ll just have to wait it out.

Dec 10- Some new demons are in town. Should’ve known that weird dream was a Slayer thing. Couldn’t have just been moving on from Spike dreams to normal joe Riley dreams. That would be too easy. Nobody can talk, and people are getting killed. Giles is looking into it, and how I can kill them. I hope he figures it out soon. We’re supposed to have a meeting later tonight, and hopefully he’s got something useful for me. 

Feb 27- I’m home.

Nothing for three months, and then that. No other explanation. There were even more questions now, with fewer answers. The more little hints Faith got, the more it became clear – something major had gone down. Something that made Buffy leave the hellmouth unattended for months. Something she wasn’t even capable of writing down. Something she didn’t want to recount and relive.

Faith didn’t get any time to think about it though, because Joyce was yelling up the stairs for her.

“Buffy! Mr. Giles is on the phone for you!”

She couldn’t exactly ignore him, could she? Well, she could, but Buffy couldn’t. And she had to play nice for a few days, even if all she wanted to do was go door to door and get revenge on every single one in that damned group. Reluctantly, she picked up the line, trying not to sigh into the receiver loud enough for him to hear it. She wasn’t sure why she even bothered to hide it.

“Hey, what’s up?”

“Hello, Buffy. Uh, something has… come up. I need to discuss some things with you.”

He was just as stuffy and British as ever. But maybe he could shed some light on whatever had happened, if she asked him in a vague enough way that he’d start talking about it.

“Oh, yeah? This about the uh, thing?”

“I don’t know what ‘thing’ you’re referencing, but no. Faith has woken up, and escaped the hospital. I’ve only just now got word because we were at the cabin when the Council came to call.”

So the jig was up then? Council boys had finally decided it was time for Giles to know, so they could, what? Try to get help from Buffy against her?  

“Giles, that sounds serious. Should I go look for her?”

“That won’t be necessary, no. The Council sent a special ops team, and they managed to capture her. They found her unconscious in an alley. She’s in custody now and will be on her way to England in the morning.”

“Wow. I don’t know what to say. That was fast. But, she escaped last time. So, maybe we should..?”

“I assure you, Buffy, these men can handle it.”

She choked down a laugh. “Alright, sure. A couple of guys from the Council are going to detain and transport a slayer across the ocean, and it’s all under control? Giles, dude. Faith beat their asses last time. Like, I appreciate the sentiment and whatever, but don’t lie to me.”

A moment of silence on the other end. Had she said something wrong? Maybe…. Would Buffy ever call Giles dude? Damn it. Before she could think of something else to say, the watcher started talking.

“I may have been less than honest about… a few things in the past, but I wouldn’t lie to you about this. A false sense of security would only leave you vulnerable. However, Faith is… From what I was told, they’ve got her heavily sedated, and she shouldn’t be awake until they are well on their way back.”

Well, that was a better plan than they’d had the last time they came to take her in. Throw some handcuffs on and call it good. For all the years they’d been controlling Slayers, the Council really had no idea what they were capable of. At least they seemed like they were starting to understand that and taking a few more precautions. So maybe they’d have a chance of succeeding this time. And ‘Faith’ would be taken to their headquarters and dealt with accordingly.

“You’re… sure about this? Like, she’s taken care of and I don’t have to worry about her popping back up?”

“Quite sure, yes. You’ve nothing to worry about from her.”

Well, that certainly was a reason to celebrate if she’d ever had one. Buffy on her way back to the motherland, to spend her life sitting in some dank ass prison cell? Poetic justice. And now Faith had more time to get herself situated nicely for a grand exit from Sunnyhell. More of it, at least. With Buffy out of the picture, her cover was way less likely to be blown anytime soon unless she slipped up, and all she had to do was happily avoid them all until she was ready to leave. 

“Okay, cool. Well, thanks for the heads up, I guess. Later.”

She didn’t want to waste more time on the phone with her would be ex-watcher when she needed to get ready for a good night out. Beers and dancing and slayage awaited. And if she was lucky, she’d run into that bleach blonde hunk of fang Buffy had been grinding on the night before. Yeah, it was going to be a good night.

 


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Table of Contents
Previous Chapter: Fluctuation
Next Chapter: Recognition

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