Rating: R (for language)
Disclaimer: All of the materials borrowed from Buffy the Vampire Slayer belong to Joss Whedon and to the entities and companies associated with their creation. I have borrowed them for creative and entertainment purposes only. No compensation has been or ever shall be received for the writing below. No copyright infringement is intended.
My Website: http://www.dragonwriter17.net/
Feedback: Yes, but only if it’s of the non-flamey variety: DragonWriter17@aol.com
Distribution: The Watchers Forum, The Mystic Muse, and my personal site (If you are interested in posting my story on your site, please contact me first for permission.)
Spoilers: BtVS Season 3’s “Faith, Hope, and Trick” (and beyond)
Author’s Notes: (1) See the first three chapters for detailed notes on the origin of this story. (2) Unlike the last chapter (which was a rewrite of BTVS Season 3’s “Beauty and the Beasts”), this part moves into mostly original territory, dealing with the fallout of the events of the last chapter. It’s kind of gut-wrenching at first, with a lot of crying, but that lessens as it goes, although it still remains rather dark and depressing for a while. (3) Thanks to Lilly for the beta read and edit!
Number of Chapters: Current Plan = 18 chapters
Chapter Summary: As Buffy struggles to recover from killing Pete, she and Faith become closer.
After leaving the high school, Faith walked Buffy home, intentionally keeping them in shadow so that their bloody clothes would be hidden from curious eyes.
Buffy no longer clung to Faith; instead, she walked numbly and silently beside her—her eyes red but vacant. It was as if she had simply turned herself off.
Faith kept her arm protectively around Buffy as they walked, using it to guide her when necessary, but mostly to provide what she hoped was a comforting touch. She could sense the pain radiating from Buffy, but she knew it must be only a fraction of what was really on the inside.
When they got to the Summers home on Revello Drive, Faith saw Joyce’s SUV parked in the drive. She glanced at the front windows of the house, but they were dark.
Maybe she went to bed early, Faith hoped.
Faith carefully led Buffy up the walk and to the front door. When they got close, the motion sensor set off the front porch light. Faith froze and listened, but she heard no activity from within the house. Faith quietly tried the door but found it locked. She cursed under her breath, then reluctantly turned to Buffy.
“Buffy?” she asked softly to get the blonde’s attention. “We’re here, but the door’s locked. Do you have your house key?”
Buffy looked confused for a moment. She glanced at the front door and blinked several times as if trying to place it. Then she reached into her pants pocket and fished out her key ring.
When she raised the key to give it to Faith, she saw the blood on her hand. She started shaking and dropped the key. She lifted her other hand and saw the blood on it as well.
“No...” Buffy said, her eyes fixed on the blood. She started to back away, as if she could somehow separate herself from her hands, what they represented, what they caused her to remember.
Faith quickly stopped her retreat with a tug on her arms. Then she put a hand on each side of Buffy’s face, gently encouraging her to take her eyes off her bloody hands and to lift them to look at Faith. When she finally did, Faith could see new tears streaming down Buffy’s cheeks.
“Everything is gonna be okay,” Faith promised her. She held Buffy’s gaze until the blonde finally gave her a small nod.
Faith smiled reassuringly at her then pulled her hands away so that she could retrieve the key that Buffy had dropped. Key in hand, Faith quietly opened the front door and led Buffy inside.
Very carefully, Faith helped Buffy upstairs and into the bathroom without alerting Joyce, who could be heard watching television in her bedroom.
Once the two slayers were in the stark white light of the bathroom, the horror of the night’s events could be seen more vividly, particularly on Buffy. Her shirt and pants were so soaked with blood that they were still wet and sticky. The smears and spatters on Buffy’s face and arms were mostly dried but no less disturbing.
Faith made eye contact with Buffy and said, “I’m gonna go get you some clean clothes. You get out of those and get in the shower, okay?” Once she had gotten a nod out of Buffy, Faith left the room.
As soon as Faith had shut the bathroom door and turned around to cross the hallway, Joyce came out of her bedroom. Faith gave a startled jump but then tried to act nonchalant.
“Hey, Mrs. Summers,” she said in greeting.
Joyce’s eyes instantly went to the blood covering Faith’s shirt. “Oh my God! Where’s Buffy?”
“Don’t worry, she’s fine. She’s in the bathroom cleaning up,” Faith said. She pointed at her shirt and added, “We kinda had a messy night with the slayage. Damn demons...you think they’d have the decency to bleed elsewhere, ya know?” She gave a light chuckle.
“Buffy’s okay, right? You’re both okay?” Joyce pressed.
“Oh yeah. Sure. Just the usual bumps and bruises. Same ole, same ole. Be gone by tomorrow probably,” Faith assured her.
Joyce visibly relaxed, letting out a sigh of relief. “Thank goodness!” Joyce reached out and touched Faith’s arm. “I am so glad you’re here, Faith. I’m so glad that Buffy doesn’t have to face all this alone. I may never get used to it, but I feel better knowing that you’re here.”
“Sure. No problem,” Faith said, fidgeting uncomfortably at Joyce’s words. She quickly changed the subject. “I’m gonna clean up and stay here...i-i-if that’s okay?”
“Of course,” Joyce said. “You’re welcome any time. There are plenty of towels in the downstairs bath, food in the fridge...just make yourself at home.”
“Well, get some rest, and I’ll see you girls in the morning,” Joyce said, stepping back into her bedroom.
Once Joyce had shut her bedroom door, Faith let out a long breath. Then she headed for Buffy’s room.
Moments later, Faith came out of Buffy’s bedroom with a stack of clothes in one arm. She returned to the bathroom door and gave a soft knock. When she didn’t get an answer, Faith slipped inside.
She found Buffy still in her bloody clothes, just standing in the middle of the bathroom, hugging herself and crying. Faith put the clothes down on the hamper top and walked over to Buffy.
“What’s the matter?” she asked, gently touching the slayer’s arm. “Why aren’t you in the shower yet?”
Buffy looked at Faith and said in a choked voice, “It hurts.”
Faith’s eyes widened in alarm, and she grasped both of Buffy’s arms. “You’re hurt?” she said in a panicked voice. “Where are you hurt? Shit! I should’ve taken you to the hospital.” Then she forced herself to slow down and to calmly ask, “Where does it hurt?”
Buffy let out a small sob and then laid her hand over her heart. Faith relaxed somewhat, realizing that Buffy wasn’t referring to a physical injury.
“I...don’t understand...why it hurts so much,” Buffy said through her sobs. “Even when I killed Angel...it didn’t...and I loved him so much...and Pete...I barely...Oh God...” Buffy hugged herself tightly again, doubling over in pain as she cried.
Faith pulled Buffy into her arms and held her and just let her cry, not knowing what else to do. “It’s not your fault,” she whispered as she stroked Buffy’s back. “Not your fault.”
A few minutes later, Faith came out of the bathroom, having finally gotten Buffy out of her clothes and into the shower. She was carrying Buffy’s bloody garments in one arm. She paused in the hallway and took a moment to just breathe.
“Jesus,” Faith muttered, running her free hand through her hair.
Although she was trying to calm herself, it wasn’t working. Her mind kept coming back to Pete. You son of a bitch, she thought. You’re lucky you’re already dead. ’Cause I swear to God if you weren’t, I’d kill you myself.
Faith forced herself to let out another long exhale. Then she headed downstairs to use the other shower.
A short time later, Buffy entered her bedroom. She was freshly showered and dressed in the pajamas Faith had brought her. Although she still looked haggard, she looked much better than she had before. She found a damp-haired Faith just then pulling a large sleep shirt over her head and body.
When Faith heard the door, she turned and faced Buffy. “Okay if I borrow this?” she asked, pinching a piece of the shirt and holding it up.
Buffy didn’t say anything, but she did nod her permission.
After that, the two fell into an awkward silence. Except for fidgeting slightly in place, neither one moved or met the other’s gaze. After a long moment, Faith finally walked over and spoke.
“I, um, I put our clothes in the wash downstairs, and, um...I put your key over there, on your dresser,” Faith said, pointing in that direction.
Once again, Buffy merely nodded.
“I, um, I saw your mom in the hall,” Faith went on. When Buffy’s eyes widened in alarm, Faith continued quickly. “I didn’t tell her what happened. I just said that we’d had a messy run-in with a demon. Didn’t want her freakin’ over the blood, ya know?”
Buffy let out a relieved breath and gave Faith a small smile. “Good. Thanks.”
After another long silence, Faith cocked her thumb over her shoulder and began backing toward the door. “Well, your mom said I could stay here tonight, so I’m just gonna go downstairs, watch a little TV, and crash on the couch.”
Buffy frowned but said, “Okay.” When Faith turned around and put her hand on the door knob, Buffy called out her name to stop her. When Faith was facing her once again, Buffy gave her a longer, deeper smile. “Thank you,” she said simply.
Faith returned the smile. “Sure. No problem.” Faith turned back to the door and started to pull it open.
“Faith!” Buffy called out again, a little more urgently this time, even reaching out toward her with her hand. When Faith once again turned around and looked at her expectantly, Buffy just shook her head and said, “Never mind.”
Faith left the doorway and walked back to Buffy, who was busy staring at her hands. “What is it?” she asked her.
Buffy didn’t answer at first. She shifted on her feet and wrung her hands, not daring to meet Faith’s gaze. Finally, she looked up and said in a softly pleading voice, “Will you...will you stay with me tonight?”
The three seconds it took Faith to answer seemed like an eternity, but then Buffy saw Faith smile and heard her say, “Yeah, sure.”
Buffy let out the breath she had been holding, practically laughing in relief. “Thank you,” she said.
“I’ll get the light,” Faith said.
Buffy nodded and headed for her bed. Faith returned to the door, shut it, and then turned off the overhead light. Faith paused a moment to let her eyes adjust to the moonlit room; then she walked over to the bed and got in.
“You better not steal the covers,” Faith joked as she settled in, earning a laugh from Buffy.
“Don’t worry, I think you’re safe,” Buffy replied. After a lengthy pause, she said, “Well...good-night.”
At that, the two slayers turned on their sides away from one another and tried to go to sleep.
It was after about ten minutes of tense, shallow, wide-awake breathing by both parties that Faith detected a change on Buffy’s side of the bed. She felt a slight tremor as Buffy tried her best to cry silently. An involuntary sob soon gave the stricken slayer away. Faith turned over and reached out to touch Buffy’s back.
“Hey,” she said softly, “it’ll be okay.”
Buffy instantly rolled over and fell crying against Faith’s chest. Faith gave an oomph of surprise and had a momentary flash of panic in her eyes, but then she just wrapped her arms around Buffy and pulled her even closer, gently stroking her hair and whispering reassurances to her. It wasn’t long before emotional exhaustion took its toll and Buffy fell asleep, with Faith following shortly after.
The next morning, Buffy was the first to awaken. She blinked her eyes groggily and leaned up a bit. When she was finally able to focus, she immediately realized she was lying in Faith’s arms. Her eyes grew wide, but she managed to stifle an impending gasp of shock. She looked around herself, as if trying to figure out how to escape without waking Faith, but it didn’t seem possible with the dark slayer’s arm firmly around her.
Calm down, calm down, she told herself. Just lie back down a-a-and pretend to be asleep. Let Faith be the one to wake up first and deal with the awkward, yet oddly comforting, slayer snuggle. Buffy’s eyes grew wide again. Unless she already woke up first and is waiting on me!
“Oh God...” Buffy said out loud, completely unintentionally. She slammed her mouth shut, but it was too late. Faith’s eyes began to flutter open.
“Whaaaat?” Faith said sleepily. Then a split-second later she abruptly sat up, bringing Buffy with her. “What is it?” she asked, grasping Buffy’s arms.
“I-I-I...ummm...I was just...because...” Buffy rambled nervously, blushing a deep red. As Faith waited expectantly with true concern in her eyes, Buffy suddenly blurted out, “I drooled on you!”
When Faith looked at her like she was crazy, Buffy meekly pointed at her shoulder, which was indeed rather damp. Faith glanced down and took in the sight. After several long seconds of inspection, Faith laughed. She released Buffy’s arms, and the two of them laughed some more, quite heartily.
“I’m really sorry,” Buffy squeaked out between laughs.
Faith just shrugged and said, “Hey, it’s your shirt.”
When their laughter tapered off, though, a somber mood descended, and the two became very quiet. They avoided each other’s eyes but didn’t move away.
“Guess we should get up,” Faith finally said, raking her hand through her mussed hair.
“Yeah, I guess so,” Buffy replied.
When Faith turned to go, Buffy reached out and took her hand, stopping her. When Faith turned back around, Buffy looked deeply into her eyes and pulled Faith’s hand into both of hers.
“Thank you,” she said sincerely. “For staying with me,” she clarified.
“Don’t worry about it,” Faith answered just as sincerely. Then she smirked and added, “Drooler!”
Buffy smirked back and turned her eyes to Faith’s hair, which she then poked. “Bed head!”
“Slobber bucket!” Faith countered, making a wipe at Buffy’s chin.
“Bride of Frankenstein!” Buffy shot back with a big grin.
Unable to devise a snappy comeback fast enough, Faith grumbled and shook her head but was still smiling. “Oh, you’re gonna pay for that one, missy!” she told her.
“Is that soooooo...Oh!”
Buffy found herself suddenly flipped onto her back with Faith over her but not on top of her. Faith wasn’t holding her down or impeding her movements in any way, so Buffy did not feel threatened or reminded of the previous night’s events. In fact, she felt a completely different kind of feeling, one that got her heart to racing. Breathing heavily, she looked up into Faith’s dark eyes and simply got lost in them. Faith returned her stare, breathing quite heavily herself.
“I thought you were going to make me pay,” Buffy whispered.
“I plan to,” Faith whispered back.
Both of them spoke without conviction, their game of mutual teasing completely forgotten in the heat of the moment, but neither made a move...until a knock at the door startled them into a quick separation.
“You girls up yet?” came the voice of Buffy’s mother through the door.
Buffy sat up in bed and called back, “Yeah, Mom, we’re up.”
“I’ve got breakfast,” Joyce continued. “If you hurry, I can drop you off at school.”
“Be down in a bit,” Buffy assured her.
“Okay,” Joyce said before heading downstairs.
Faith and Buffy stole darting glances at each other for a full minute before Faith saw a shadow of sadness pass over Buffy’s face.
“School,” Buffy said in a small, vulnerable voice. She dropped her gaze to her hands.
Faith watched her for a moment, then announced dramatically, “Forget school. You’re staying home today.”
Buffy gave a quick smile to show she appreciated the thought, but then she said, “I really shouldn’t miss. I’m on thin ice with Snyder as it is.”
“Screw Snyder!” Faith said. “You’re in no condition to go back there today. You’re staying home, and that’s final.”
Buffy grinned for real this time. “A-A-And since when are you the boss of me?” she said sarcastically, raising an eyebrow in Faith’s direction.
“Since I got to Sunnydale,” Faith explained with mock seriousness. “Thought you’d figured that out by now.” Then she gave Buffy a full-dimpled smile and a sparkling wink.
Buffy’s heart gave a goofy giggle and then melted. She nearly succumbed to dreamy staring before shaking it off and saying, “Okay on no-school, but you’re explaining it to Mom.”
Faith gave an unconcerned wave of her hand. “Hey, no prob. Me and Joyce, we go waaaay back. Couple of weeks at least.”
A short time later, the two t-shirt-and-sweats-clad teenagers were finishing up breakfast with Mrs. Summers. Joyce took her plate and coffee cup to the sink then came back to Buffy. She ran her hand through her daughter’s hair and looked at her worriedly.
“Are you sure you’re okay, honey?” she asked. “Maybe I should take you to the doctor.”
“I’ll be fine, Mom, I promise,” Buffy said. “I just need a day of rest.”
“Don’t worry, Mrs. Summers,” Faith added. “I’ll keep an eye on her for ya.”
Joyce smiled and said, “If you need anything, call me.”
“I will,” Buffy assured her.
At that, Joyce grabbed her purse and headed for the door. Buffy and Faith sat silently, waiting until they heard Joyce’s SUV pull away. Then they gave a sigh of relief.
After washing the few breakfast dishes, Buffy and Faith wandered into the living room.
“So...what now?” Faith asked. “Watch some TV?”
“No,” Buffy said in a tired voice. “I think I’ll just go back to bed.”
“Okay. I’ll just hang out down here then.”
“You got me out of school, Faith. That’s enough,” Buffy told her. “You don’t have to baby-sit me.”
Faith shrugged. “It’s not like I got anything better to do.” Then she grinned and put her index finger to her chin as if thinking. “Wait, I do have that audience with the Pope.” She gave a dismissive wave. “Ah, JP’ll understand.”
Buffy ignored the lame joke and gave Faith a hopeful glance. “You know what you could do?” She paused briefly then said, “Check in with Giles...see what’s going on?”
“Oh, okay. I can do that,” Faith said brightly. “I’ll just pop over, check in with Jeeves, and be right back.” Then she sobered and touched Buffy’s arm. “You sure you’ll be okay?”
“Yes, Mom,” Buffy teased before moving toward the stairs. “There’s an extra set of keys by the door. Just take those and then let yourself back in.”
“Got it,” Faith said. “Be back soon.”
A short time later, Willow and Oz and Xander and Cordelia were talking with Giles in the library.
“It’s all over school, what happened with Debbie and Pete,” Willow said. “Except for the Pete-was-a-monster part.”
“Yeah,” Oz agreed. “A freshman told me that Pete had eight iced café mochas and just lost it. He and Debbie got into it and just killed each other.”
“That’s better than the estrogen theory,” Willow countered. “I heard he took all of his mother’s birth control pills.”
“He didn’t?” Cordelia said, confused. She turned to Xander. “Pete was a monster?” When Xander nodded, she shook her head and said, “Where have I been?”
“In your special place, Cor,” Xander said, “which is why I adore you.”
“So...what’s the true story?” Cordelia asked. “What happened?”
“Well, we got a hold of Pete’s lab books and stuff,” Willow said, “and Mr. Science was doing a Jekyll-and-Hyde deal. He was afraid Debbie was gonna leave him, so he mixed this potion to become super macho.”
“The only problem was,” Giles interjected, “after a while, he didn’t need his concoction to become the monster...he did it quite well on his own. He murdered Debbie and then tried to do the same to Buffy.”
“So, it was like a real killing? He wasn’t under the influence of anything?” Cordelia asked.
“Only himself,” Willow said ruefully.
Cordelia frowned in thought. “So...Buffy killed a human.”
“Um, well, yes, I-I-I’m afraid she did,” Giles answered uneasily.
“No, no, no, she didn’t,” Xander said in firm denial. “She killed a monster that just happened to look human at the time. Isn’t that right, Faith?” he added as an aside when he caught a glimpse of the dark slayer entering the library. As soon as the significance of Faith’s arrival clicked in his brain, however, both he and Willow rushed right over.
“Faith!” cried Xander. “How’s Buffy?”
“Is she okay?” Willow asked worriedly.
“Was she hurt?” Xander pressed.
“I-I-Is she freaking out?” Willow asked. She turned to Xander. “She’s probably freaking out. We should—”
A shrill whistle stopped the anxious rant, and they turned to Faith, who was making a “T” gesture with her hands.
“Time out,” Faith said. “Everybody just chill, okay?”
Willow and Xander nodded meekly and returned to their seats.
“How is she?” Giles asked in a calm but serious voice.
“She’s fine,” Faith said. “Physically, anyway. Other than some nasty bruises, she wasn’t seriously hurt.”
“And...emotionally?” Giles prodded.
“She was pretty messed up last night,” Faith admitted, “but she seemed a lot better this morning. I talked her into staying home from school today. I didn’t think she needed to be over here gettin’ all reminded of everything.”
“Good idea,” Willow agreed.
“What about the cops?” Faith asked Giles.
“As far as they’re concerned, Pete and Debbie killed one another,” Giles answered. “Case closed.”
“Good, good,” Faith said, relieved. “Buffy can just take her time, get back on her feet, and everything’ll be fine.”
“I’m afraid it’s not that simple,” Giles announced. “Buffy is in more danger now than ever before.”
“What?!” Xander exclaimed.
“W-W-What do you mean?” Willow asked, fear in her voice.
“‘Slayers aren’t supposed to kill humans’,” Giles replied. “It’s a mantra we watchers teach our slayers, emphasizing it over and over—not just because it’s morally wrong to kill another human being, but also because it’s literally dangerous to the slayer herself.”
“What are you talking about?” Faith demanded.
“The-the power that a slayer possesses...i-i-it’s quite dangerous, you see, in the wrong hands,” Giles explained. “Imagine if a sociopath had the powers of a slayer...the damage that one girl could do i-i-if she didn’t value human life.”
“But Buffy is not a sociopath,” Oz pointed out.
“Yes, I know,” Giles said, “but it doesn’t matter. The deed is done, a-a-and the consequences...well, they’ve already begun, I fear.”
“What...Consequences?” Faith asked slowly and emphatically.
Giles let out a deep sigh and went on. “Slayers in the past who have killed humans—and thankfully there have been but a few—they’ve always had the same ultimate reaction...they lost their minds.”
“Are you saying Buffy’s gonna go bonkers?” Cordelia asked.
When Giles began to give a rueful nod, Willow became very distressed. “No...no! Not Buffy! She’s strong, she’ll get through this!” Tears began streaming down Willow’s face, and Oz put his arm around her to comfort her.
“What exactly do you mean when you say ‘they lost their minds’?” Xander asked.
“Of the ones we have records for, the majority became so despondent, so lost in their own despair, that they...well, they took their own lives,” Giles said.
“Oh God...” Xander said.
“And the minority?” Faith asked.
“They became unstable, violently insane, resulting in their having to be locked away,” Giles answered. “That was if the Council had been able to take them alive, which didn’t happen in most cases.” He gave an unhappy sigh. “Even those that were captured didn’t last long. They always managed to either kill themselves or get themselves killed.”
“You’re telling me that all of these slayers died?” Faith said in a harsh tone.
“I’m afraid so,” Giles replied. “Most within weeks of making the kill.”
“None of them survived?” Faith pressed.
“Well, there was one,” Giles said. “In the fourteenth century, if I recall. She managed to pull out of her depression and return to her duties. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter, she was killed, by a nest of vampires she was trying to wipe out.”
“And you suspect that she may have let herself be killed too,” Oz said to Giles.
“The Chronicles don’t say that, but, um...it’s possible,” he admitted.
“A-A-And this is happening because of her slayer powers?!” Xander said angrily. “Because of some stupid, anti-abuse, backlash clause?!!”
“Xander’s right,” Faith said in a fury. “This should not be happening! She shouldn’t be punished for doing her fucking job!! That bastard was trying to kill her!!”
“What do we do?” Willow pleaded. “Giles, what do we do?”
“Well, the first order of business is that Buffy is to be told none of this,” he said sternly. “Her awareness of the, um, ‘backlash clause,’ for lack of a better term, could very well become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If she learns what has happened to the other slayers in the past, she could become convinced that her fate is sealed. And if she reaches that point...”
“...she’s lost,” Cordelia finished sadly.
“Yes,” Giles confirmed. After a brief pause, he went on. “Secondly, Buffy is to be suspended from her slayer duties, effective immed—”
“What?!!” Faith yelled.
“It’s only temporary,” Giles insisted. “Until she recovers.”
“You mean until you and your Council bigwigs figure she’s gone wacko so you can lock her up!” Xander accused.
“Look!” Giles shouted, quieting Xander and everyone else. “Buffy is in a very fragile state. Exposing her to any kind of violence could-could trigger a downward spiral that she’ll never come back from! Is that what you want?!”
Xander didn’t reply; he just looked away. No one else responded either, until Faith spoke up.
“Buffy won’t see it that way,” Faith said simply. “She’ll see the suspension as a punishment, as confirmation that she did something wrong. She already feels bad enough as it is!”
“I’ll tell her that it’s standard procedure,” Giles suggested, “that it’s part of a, um, cleansing ritual that the slayer must go through before she’s ready to return to duty.”
Giles looked at Faith to gauge her opinion, and she nodded. Then he looked over at Xander and Willow for the same reason.
“Okay, that seems reasonable,” Willow said. “I-I-I think she’d buy that.” Willow turned to Giles and asked, “What else can we do, Giles...to help Buffy?”
“Keep an eye on her without letting her know we are doing so,” Giles said. “But most of all...love her, support her, let her know how much you care.” Giles smiled and added, “Buffy has something that no other slayer has ever had...she has you.” He let his eyes meet those of everyone else in the group as he spoke. “She’s not alone...she’s not ‘one girl in all the world’...not anymore. And surely that will make a difference. It must!”
All of the Scoobies nodded resolutely at that, but behind the determination in their eyes lay a deep, dark fear that nothing they did would make any difference at all.