Review @ Norwalker
Part 16 of
Willow sits in the airport terminal, slouched over, carryon at her feet, hands clasped before her. She shifts around in the chair, feeling uncomfortable. For the 5th time in the last 15 minutes, she checks her watch.
- I wonder why they make these chairs so darned uncomfy? Is it some rule? Maybe airports don't want you to get too comfortable. Or maybe it's someone who hates airports and travelers and wants them to be uncomfortable. I mean, would it hurt to put a little padding in them? Are they afraid that a horde of transient travelers will just sit here, never boarding the planes.- Willow looks at her watch yet again.- Where are they? I swear I told Faith I was coming by plane… she said she'd have someone meet me. Geeze, is this like some kind of revenge? Let me sit here, all worried and stuff? Kinda childish, I think. Was she always like this? I thought she was more mature than just playing little games with me. God, what did I see in her again? Maybe it was a good thing being the dumpee back in Indiana. I mean, geeze, if she is like this…now, after all that time…what would she be like in the middle of an argument? Boy, I'll bet she's just sitting wherever she is, having a big old laugh. " That dumb red head…just sitting there, thinking I'm gonna meet her at the airport? What a hoot… making her wait around for nothing." Geeze. What if she just leaves me here, and I miss the memorial? Is that her plan? All of Angel's friends are there, with one big exception… me… and I can hear her saying, " Well, look at that. Red couldn't make it. Must be too busy to remember her friend. Kinda cold, don't you think?" God, I'm an idiot, trusting her!-
- Willow stands up, and grabs her bag. - Well, I'll show HER! I'll rent a car, and go myself… but… where is she having it again? Damn, she didn't tell me! Crap! - Willow sits back down, frustrated.- I'm so going to find her, if this is her game. I'll find her, and …
" Willow? WILL? God, I'm so sorry. God, Faith is gonna be so pissed at me!" Buffy runs up to where Willow's sitting. " God, how long have you been waiting? Traffic was murder, and I left late… don't be mad, ok?"
"Buffy?" Willow looks up, " Buffy?" she repeats, not believing her eyes," Faith sent you to pick me up?"
" Yeah… god, I'm so sorry. I meant to get here before your plane landed. But I got a late start, and I … damn… no excuse, I just blew it. But, it wasn't Faith's fault, ok? It was me… ummmph" Buffy is cut off when Willow runs at her, hitting her full force with a huge hug.
" Buffy!" Willow cries out, smiling a huge smile, " Goddess, it's been forever since I've seen you!" She kisses Buffy's cheek, and hugs her tightly, " Boy, I've missed you!"
" Missed you too, Will !" Buffy says, hugging her tightly, but not slayer tightly( she's learned to control that). She breaks the hug, and takes a good look at Willow. " Cute as ever, I see… but boy, look at your clothes. So businessy and power tie friendly. Gosh, I guess all that stuff I've been hearing about "WillNet" is true then. Heard you got a write up in some big business magazine!" Buffy beams at her.
" Not a write up, really. Just a blurb in the " Up and Coming" column, " Willow says, modestly.
"Still, pretty cool, Will. I'm so proud of you! I always knew you'd be like the super duper business woman or something… knew whatever you did, you'd be great at it!"
" Aw, Buff, " Willow smiles, and blushes, pleased at Buffy's praise. Then she remembers. " HEY! I should be so mad at you!" She punches Buffy's arm, " you haven't called me in like… forever! I was worried about you!"
" Boy, can't get anything past you, can I?" Buffy smiles. Her smile slips a little as she continues, "it's been kinda weird for me lately, Will. Hearing about Angel kinda threw me…I've been kinda… out of touch with everybody."
" Oh, Buffy!" Willow turns to her friend and catches her arm, " Goddess, I'm such a dope sometimes. Of course this is hard on you… what was I thinking?" Willow takes Buffy into another hug." Sometimes I swear my mind goes on vacation or something. I'm all scatter-brained"
" Don't be silly, Will," Buffy says, returning the hug, then breaking away," I'm ok. It was over with us a long time ago, you know? I'm just a little out of it, you know? Not to worry, I'm good, really." She puts on a smile for Willow." See? All's good!" She takes Willow's arm, and together they start down the concourse to the baggage carousel.
Willow glances time to time at Buffy, her brow slightly furrowed. She can sense something's not right with Buffy, but she can't put her finger on it. -Whatever she says, it's got to have something to do with Angel. I know she still loves … loved him… but she's not coming clean on that. Is it more? Something else? Goddess, I wish I could read minds sometimes. It surely would make things easier. Like with Jana. I told her, ' I'm not ready for serious' but she's acting serious… god, I don't know what to do there. I care about her, I really do. I know she cares about me. So, what's my problem? Why don't I … I can't… dammit Faith, what in hell have you done to me? I gave you my heart, and you threw it back at me. How could you do that? Goddess, didn't you get I loved you? Loved? Damn, I wish it were loved. I don't know, this is driving me crazy. Seeing her again. Goddess, how much is this going to hurt? What if she… aw, crap… who cares, anyway? She can't… not and left me like that. God, that excuse… " Oh, I might go bad and hurt you." Well, that's really bogus, Faith. Do you really think, with all your strength, you could even get close to me if I didn't want you to? Shit. C'mon, Willow, she's not the bad guy here. She broke it off so she wouldn't hurt you anymore… how'd she know you'd break your heart all over her because you didn't get it? Can't you try and let the hurt go? Maybe see her side of it? Well, why should I? She HURT me. That hurt. What? Did she really think that breaking it off would just be easy for me? Did she think I was heartless… Goddess, I hate this. I shouldn't have come… What's Buffy saying?-
"Will? Earth calling Willow. You there?" Buffy looks at her, trying to get her attention." Hey, girl, I need you to identify your bags."
" Sorry, Buffy. Just kinda doing the daydream thing, not here, I guess," Willow laughs, embarrassed." You know me, Buffy. My heads always busy, busy, busy. Sometimes I lose track of where I am. "
"Well, genius girl, we're in the airport getting your luggage, so stay with me, ok?" Buffy looks at her, " You sure you're ok, Will? I know this has gotta be hard… seeing Faith again."
"Oh, let's not let old Poopy-head ruin things for us, Buffy, " Willow smiles brightly at Buffy, hiding her doubts, " I mean, she had the Willow, and gave it away, you know? Maybe it was for the best, anyway. We're so different. Gosh, see? Even when trying to dismiss her, she just kinda plops in the middle of things. This time, it's about you and me, ok?" Willow looks at the carousel, and points at a couple of bags. Buffy lifts them off the carousel, and holds them up, for confirmation. Willow nods. They start to walk towards the Terminal exits.
" I'll tell you Willow, it's been hard not seeing you all the time. I know, we got our lives and things, but I miss being able to just drop in my best bud and talk things over, " Buffy's mood changes, grows wistful," I missed it a lot." For a moment, she seems lost, then she shakes it off, smiling," God, listen to me, getting all nostalgicky. Boy, I didn't think that'd start happening until I was at least 30."
" Buffy, are you sure you're ok?" Willow probes a little. She's feeling a little uneasy about Buffy.
"Will, Will, Will, you're such a worry wart, " Buffy smiles brightly," Guess that's why I love you so much. But honest, I'm great. Yeah, I'm not gonna say Angel's death didn't freak me. It did. But life goes on, Willow. I'm gonna miss him, sure, but hey, we can't live in the past. You know me, live for the now, seize the day… Carpe per Diem, all that stuff. Now, get that frowny face off you, and lets have the gossip, ok? Are you dating? Seeing someone…"
The two women walk out the Airport exit.
Faith sits in her room, half dressed, by the full length mirror. She seems to be lost for the moment, not exactly sure what she's doing. She looks in the mirror, not entirely recognizing the person staring back at her.
She's back in that night. The night she tortured Wesley, and tried to kill Angel. In the alley, her tears of rage and frustration and sorrow masked by the falling rain. They're fighting , and she's beating on him, yelling at him…
" … I'm evil! Don't you get it? I'm bad, bad… bad…" Faith screams at him, hitting him, trying to anger Angel
" Faith, " Angel says quietly, taking her in his arms, trying to calm her. She collapses, and he lets her down gently.
" God, just kill me… just kill me, " She cries, helpless, confused… all the pain overwhelming her…
She feels the tears stinging her eyes. God, she misses him. She can't believe how much she misses him. He was like a touchstone for her, something she thought she could count on when things got bad. She always expected he would live forever. -He was supposed to live forever. Isn't that what immortal means? Damn you, Angel, how could you just go and get yourself killed and leave me here? Alone… it's so tough, holding on, being this new person. Did you even see this new person? Did I make you proud of me? Were you proud of me, finally? It isn't fair, Angel. You can't just walk out on me now. I need you, I still need you. Don't you get that? Why'd you go and be stupid.. and brave. Damn you, how can I be mad at you when you were so damned foolishly brave? I'm scared, Angel. I know, I know I'm supposed to be tough and strong. I'm strong. I am! But I'm still scared, don't you get that? You know what's inside me. What I'm fighting here. I want, no I got to be good. I can't… God, it's just there, laughing at me, don't you hear it? Waiting, waiting for me to slip up, let it out. I won't. I promise. Wherever you are, I promise! I'm gonna make you proud. I'll show you that you didn't make a mistake. You'll see, I swear to you. You'll see!-
She looks in the mirror, and sees her face wet and black with running mascara. Aw crap, now I gotta start over.. again.- Shit, I oughta just have my tear ducts removed. What good does crying do , anyway? Bring someone back? Oh yeah, that so works. How many nights did I cry after…Oh, stop it, Faith. You decided to leave her, not visa versa! You got no right to complain. It's what you wanted, right? What you needed to do? So stop acting like a baby. Be an adult for once, ok? It never would've worked, you know that. You and her, too damned different.- Faith stands up, and walks over to the bathroom, to clean her face. She stubs her toe on the little table by the bed, and her temper snaps. She brings her fist down, hard, smashing the table. She stands there, looking at the mess she made. –Mature, Faith, really mature! Hit your toe, destroy the table. Damn. God, how the hell am I gonna face her tonight? Been hiding out all day, avoiding her. Can't do that tonight. She's going to be there… what'm I gonna do? What do I say? Shit, why can't I just let her go? Why does it have to be like this? And hey, stop blaming HER. You pushed her away, you didn't give her a chance, did you? You said you wanted to protect her, but was it her you wanted to protect? Or was it that you just were too scared? Too scared she'd see what you really are… some fucking demon, and hate you. She would've known, or figured it out. Then she would've been repulsed by you, right? Except, did you even give her a chance? Don't think so, I think you ran… just like you did when you couldn't deal with your feelings for her. You ran, and now she's… Shit! Stop it. I'm so tired of your whining I wanna puke! You made your choice, now live with it!
She flashes on Angel's apartment in the Hyperion Hotel
" … I don't think I'm gonna make it through the next ten minutes" Faith is visibly shaken by her pain.
" Then, make it through the next five. The next minute."
" I don't think I can"
" Yes you can"
" God, it hurts! I hate that it hurts like this." She moves away, trying to escape what she's feeling
Angel won't let her escape." Oh, well, it's supposed to hurt. All that pain, all that suffering you caused is coming back on you. Feel it! Deal with it… then maybe you can be free."
Faith enters the bathroom, and about 20 minutes, reemerges. Her face is scrubbed clean , she's just wearing base and a light lip color.- Don't know if the tears are coming again, but that raccoon look really doesn't help-. She goes to the closet, and selects a simple black frock. She quickly pulls it on, then goes to the mirror and adjusts and buttons it. She runs a brush through her hair, and ties it back. Finishing off with a pair of low heeled black pumps, she checks herself out in the mirror one final time.- It'll do. Ok, Faith, it's showtime. This is your party… get it done-. She turns, and with a determined look on her face, exits the room.
Willow stands in front of her mirror, doing a final check on herself. Like Faith, she's wearing a simple black frock, no frills. She appears to be staring intently in the mirror, but she's not really seeing herself. She's back in time, several months ago, in Angel's office. Back when she was still trying to get answers to the big question : Why?
" Why didn't you tell me?" Willow's tone is furious. She's pacing in front of Angel's desk, " How could you just throw her into that, and not tell me?"
" You couldn't have helped," Angel says quietly, sitting behind his desk.
"What do you mean, I couldn't have helped?" Willow turns on him, " I'm not the nerd you knew in Sunnydale, Angel. I'm a pretty powerful witch."
" All your power wouldn't do what needed to be done. She had to do this, Willow," Angel rises from his desk, crossing to the window, looking out.
" I could've helped her…" Willow repeats, insistently.
" No, you don't get it. This was her test, Willow. Her final redemption," Angel turns to Willow, " She had to do this, alone. She needed to kill the demon, Willow. Alone. There was no other way. Not to fulfill her destiny."
" Her destiny? You mean as a slayer?" Willow shakes her head, " I still don't see why you couldn't tell me. Even if I couldn't help with magic, I could've supported her, encouraged her…"
" Willow, you're not seeing the whole picture. She had to choose. Without encouragement or enticements. It had to be her choice. Yes, I gave her the mission, and didn't tell her why. I couldn't. She could've backed out at the last second. I had other contingencies in place. But for her to go on, to do what she needs to do, she had to take that step. You knowing would've only complicated things. Because you couldn't have told her you knew, you couldn't let her know why she was doing it. Could you really watch her go through that agony, and not try to ease it?"
Willow just stares angrily at him. She curtly shakes her head. It's clear she doesn't understand.
" I didn't think so, " Angel says. He sees Willow's expression, and sighs, " I know you're made at me. I'm sorry, but that's just the way it had to be."
" She left me. Did you know that?" Willow's voice is low, and artic.
" No, I didn't, " Angel says, genuinely surprised, " I wish she hadn't. You two… you belong together. You're stronger together."
"Well, she obviously doesn't see it your way, Angel. She thinks because of her heritage, she might hurt me… or at least, that's what she's convinced herself to believe."
Angel looks at her bewildered.
" She's using that as an excuse, but I know there's other things going on. Things she's not telling me," Willow turns away, " Damn you, Angel. I don't know who I'm madder at right now. You for not telling me, or her for lying to me…"
"Or yourself, for deserting her?" Angel punctures through her wall.
" That's not fair, Angel !"
" No, it's not fair, and it's not true, but that doesn't mean you don't believe it."
" Shut up, Angel!" Willow says, her voice growing more strident, " I know I didn't desert her. She left me!"
" Yet somewhere in your gut, a little voice is screaming at you, saying you ran out on her, left her when she needed you the most. Isn't that true? Isn't that what you believe?"
" SHUT. UP!" Willow screams at him. She turns back to him, and her eyes have turned black. " It really doesn't matter what I believe, or what she believes, now does it? What happened is you put her there, and now she's suffering, and so am I. So, I'm thinking, you should suffer too!"
" Willow, calm down," Angel says, his voice having the tiniest note of fear, " This isn't going to change things. It won't help."
" Maybe not, Angel, "Willow says, her hair flying as if in the wind, " but it's going to make me feel a whole lot better!"
Willow raises her arms, and her voice.
By Hecate, I invoke thee
Show this unbeliever your power
Bring down the winds upon him,
so he might ken your might!
Suddenly, it's as if a hurricane is blowing in Angel's office. Things are flying everywhere, and high, piercing alarms go off.
" Oh, great, just great. I'm going to have the goon squad up here, wondering what the hell is going on!" Angel, nearly clobbered by a flying statue, ducks behind his desk.
Willow, in the middle of it, is protected by her spell. She just looks at Angel, cowering behind his desk.
"Well, what can I say, Angel?" She starts to rise, her teleportation spell going into effect, " That's just the way it has to be." She teleports out of the office, leaving Angel to deal with her spell.
Back in the now, Willow smiles a little ruefully in the mirror. That was the last time she saw Angel alive. Once she cooled down, she regretted her little trick, and went back to Wolfram and Hart to apologize to him. But there were strict instructions at the front desk that under no circumstances were they to allow her to come up. She finally got him on the phone, not long before his death, and they made peace. But she regrets that their last meeting ended like that.
So now what, Will? You're here to say goodbye. Is it just to Angel, or is it to Faith, too? You know her destiny, from what Angel told you, and what you learned on your own. You know what she has to do, and can you accept that? Can you be a part of her life? Maybe she doesn't even want you to be part of her life anymore. That little voice, the one Angel so sussed in you, is still nagging you, telling you bolted on her when she needed you to stay. Angel said it wasn't true, but you know, don't you? You know it's true. You didn't believe enough in her, you were so ready to believe she went back to her old ways. Where was your faith in her, when she needed it? She's been avoiding me, and I know why. She's still upset with me. Can you blame her for her rancor?
Maybe it's time I quit kidding myself, and face the fact that It's really over. Let her go, find some kind of happiness. If what I read is true, she'll need it. And Jana. I can't just let her twist in the wind. I gotta figure out what I feel for her, and if there's more than friendship, it's time I start committing to her. It's not fair to anyone, especially her, to let her hang on.
This was a dumb idea. I never should've come. IT would've been better all around if I'd just stayed away, no matter what the others think. Me being here is only going to make old wounds hurt again. Willow sighs, and picks up her purse. Nothing to be done about it now. Just get through it, and get gone.
Willow, with a sad expression on her face, leaves her room, making her way downstairs.
Buffy sits on her bed, facing away from the mirror in her room. She isn't looking in the mirror for herself, but within herself.
She lied to Willow. Things aren't fine. She isn't fine. She hasn't been fine for awhile.
Nothing in her life seemed to be 'fine' anymore. Ever since Sunnydale was destroyed, she hasn't been able to find a niche for herself, somewhere she belonged. She had worked to rebuild the council, but what did that mean to her, really? And frankly? It was just Giles trying to keep her included. They didn't need her there, she wasn't doing anything important there. She felt like Giles' PA, nothing more. It wasn't anything Giles did; it was just her own perceptions.
Dawn didn't need her anymore. – Oh, she says she needs me, but it's bogus… no, it's charity. She's just trying to keep me feeling needed, but hell, she's in college now; has her friends, her life, her stuff. Doesn't need big sis for anything except to sign the checks. I don't blame her; when I was in college, I didn't need mom like before. Not saying like she doesn't love me and all that stuff. She does, I know she does. But, she's got to live her life now, not worry about where sis's mind is. God, did I ever think I'd see the day that I missed Dawn's whining and trying to do my stuff and be part of my circle?- Buffy sighs heavily.
-All gone. Everything I thought I had, I thought I was, gone. I always bitched about my life, how I wish I could ' just be normal'. No more monsters, no more apocalypses, no more life as a slayer. Just a normal girl, normal life. Well, here it is … and guess what? I … can't… deal! I don't belong anywhere, I'm not part of anything… it's just all useless, hell… I'm useless.- A small, sad smile pulls at her lips.
I remember when Giles gave me those drugs and I lost my powers. How I felt then… like now, I felt what do I do when my calling is gone? I complained to Angel how shallow I was, what did I have to offer if I weren't THE Slayer?- Her smile becomes wistful. – He told me how he saw me, and loved me from the first minute. How he saw my heart, and he wanted to protect me. He didn't exactly come out and say it, but he let me know I was precious to him. I knew at the moment, if I died right then, I'd be happy. Oh, Angel, I miss you so much. Why'd you have to go and die? Was the loneliness so much that you couldn't take it anymore? Did you have so much guilt, that you had to sacrifice your life? Wasn't there another way? Did you have to leave me all alone? You're so stupid! You thought I moved on… but I never moved on. I tried normal guy… Riley. But I never opened up to him, Angel. Not like you. I tried a monster wearing the face of a man… Spike. But that was so twisted, so confused… and in the end, even with a soul… I couldn't love him, not like you. When I told you about Riley, you got all …EEEEE… and said great, fine you moved on… but you couldn't … damn you, couldn't you see the truth? I told you about Riley because the last time we talked, really talked in Sunnydale…you remember… when YOU broke up with me? You said you wanted me to have " a guy who could take me out in the sun …" . You didn't want this " Freak show" anymore. Well… damn you, it was never a freak show to me. Never!-
Buffy sits, gripping her hands together tightly, to keep them from trembling. She feels her eyes burning with tears, but she can't, won't, shed them.- If I start crying now, I won't stop. I won't leave this room. They find me, huddled in a ball, shaking and crying and going crazy. I gotta hold on, can't let myself feel… not now, not ever.. closes her eyes tightly, forcing herself to not feel, to calm down, to just hang on. She opens her eyes, and nearly screams. In the mirror, she sees Angel, standing as he always does, hand clasped in front of him. He's looking at her, with a sad expression. He says nothing, does nothing but turn away, and seemingly walk away from her deeper into the mirror, until he disappears. For a moment, she can do nothing but watch. She finally gets up, and walks to the mirror.
" Angel?" She whispers into the mirror, " Angel?"
She feels her knees give out under her, and she slides slowly down to the ground, all the while murmuring "Angel, Angel… Angel." Try as she might, she can't keep the tears back, and she sits, leaning against the mirror, crying softly.
But the tears don't seem to help the pain, the feeling of loss and disconnection she feels. After a brief time, she pulls herself together, but her eyes seem empty, as if nothing is home behind them. She stands up, and walks into the bathroom. When she emerges, her makeup is back in place, she's straightened up, and she looks normal to the casual observer. She is neither frowning nor smiling. Her whole attitude seems to be one of quiet acceptance. It's only the façade she's wearing to keep away the questions, the looks. Inside, she feels broken. She can't show that. She can never show that. She makes one final check in the mirror, and sees a stranger looking back at her. –Good, real good.-
She leaves the room to go downstairs.
Faith finds herself moving around the lobby, going from group to group, greeting people. Her sense of irony at the whole situation is running overtime. – Look at me. Playing hostess to this group of strangers. What's that about? Pretty much not the way I saw my life a year ago. Who are all these people, anyway? I don't know most of them… but they must've known Angel. Kinda funny. Mr. Broody boy, Mr. King of Pain loner… having like what? 100 or more people hanging around, talking about him, memorializing him. She shakes her head in disbelief. Hope the big guy is catchin' some of this. Who woulda thunk it?-
Faith looks around for familiar faces, but mostly sees strangers. She does see Kate Lockley… - Detective Lockley, that is… who had such a hard on for busting me… and maybe a little bit of a thing on Angel… though who could tell? They acted so weird around each other… hot and cold. Well, she looks almost as friendly as usual… not.- Faith walks over to Kate.
" Hello, Kate, it's been… forever."
"Do I know you?" Kate Lockley looks at Faith suspiciously." You look familiar…"
" Yeah, you busted me once… remember? "
" I've arrested a lot of people… so?"
" Yeah, but you threatened jail for Angel because he wouldn't give me up… he said something about you arranging a nice eastern exposure for him…"
Kate looks at Faith intently, trying to puzzle it out. Then as if the sun breaking through the clouds, she knows.
" Faith. Oh, yeah, I remember you." Her expression goes a little sour, " assault anybody lately?"
Faith smiles enigmatically, " I see you're still a bit of a hard-ass, Kate."
" Let's say criminals bring out my cranky side. So, how come you're here, anyway? Thought you'd be in a nice cozy cell, being some Bertha's girlfriend, or something."
" Guess prison didn't agree with me. Got a pardon, Kate. Sorry to disappoint you, knowing how you love putting handcuffs on me… rather kinky, I think."
Kate doesn't get, or doesn't like the joke, " So how come you're here, anyway? Figured you to be not the sentimental type, Faith. More the punch and kill type. Figured you would've blown town by now… not hang around for a memorial."
" Be kinda rude of me, since I'm the one who put this together…"
Kate gives her an ' yeah, tell me another one ' look.
" I owe… owed Angel a lot. When I heard he died, I figured…" Faith trails off, gesturing around.
" Yeah- huh. Right. Not exactly your M.O., Faith. Where'd you get the money for it, anyway?" Kate interrogates, " Prison isn't exactly a high paying profession."
" Don't sweat it, Blondie, " Faith retorts, getting irritated, " it's legal, if that's your worry."
" Not my worry. I'm more worried why they'd let a violent criminal back on the streets, " Kate shakes her head, " Stupid liberal governor."
" Things change, Kate, " Faith says. She stares intently at Kate, who returns the stare. It becomes a contest of wills, with Kate finally looking away." But then you'd know that, wouldn't you? Not exactly the by the book cop anymore, are you?"
Kate starts in surprise.
" I've got my sources too, Kate. You seem to have become the Mulder of the LAPD. Always looking into the weirdo stuff."
" Guess your sources are a little out of date then, Faith. Not with the LAPD anymore," Kate can't hide the bitterness in her voice, " guess they don't want the ' weirdo stuff ' looked into too closely."
"Really? The police, doing cover up? How odd," Faith smirks. " So what're you doing now?"
Kate just looks at her, suspiciously.
"Ashamed, Kate? What, doing the security guard thing?"
" Really none of your business, Faith" Kate looks as if to move away.
" It's really is, especially since you're working for Lehane Security. Since I own it."
Kate's eyes go wide.
" Isn't life just full of surprises, Kate? Like how I got you assigned here tonight, because I knew you needed to come. How I know you hate doing what you're doing, and I have something to offer… something better?"
" Get real, Faith. Me, work for you? That's a laugh. Didn't know you owned the company, or I never would've applied. I guess this is where I quit."
" That's up to you, Kate. Can't stop you, " Faith says, " too bad, though. Could use someone like you. Tough, smart, knows how to handle herself. Someone with good investigative instincts. Someone who's itching to use those talents, especially since no police force will touch her… not with her rep."
"What's the scam, Faith?"
" No scam, Kate. Just something that I think needs to be done. Something to maybe counter the influence Wolfram and Hart has in this town." Faith sees Kate's expression, " What's wrong, something go down wrong?"
" Nothing," Kate mutters.
" So, you're not still pissed because they got you fired, then?"
" How'd you know that?"
" Told you, Kate. I've got my sources." Faith sticks out her hand, " So, stick around after? Find out what's the what?"
Kate looks at Faith's hand like it's diseased. " And if I don't?"
" Then you don't" Faith shrugs, withdrawing her hand, " it's up to you."
Without another word, Faith walks away, leaving a thoughtful and slightly bemused Kate behind.
Faith continues to walk around, meeting some other interesting characters from Angel's past. Nina, the werewolf girl, whom he helped find some kind of normal life with her family.- Seems to have a bit of a crush on Angel, too, even now. Fang always did have that effect on women… some women… ok, me too, shit.- David Nabbit, Game software billionaire. Evidently helped Angel finance the Hyperion Hotel for his offices, after W&H blew up their old offices. She chatted a little while with him, finding most of what he said somewhat opaque.- God, vague it up some more for me, I almost understood that.-
Her interest was piqued by a woman wearing opera length gloves and leather.- Well, well. Wonder what Angel did for her? A little kinky, Angel.- She gives the woman the once over, and walks over to her. As she approaches, the woman turns, giving Faith the once over.
" Who're you?" They both say together. They share a nervous laugh.
" My name's Faith… and yours?"
" Faith… where've I heard that name… oh… you're the one throwing this wake?"
" Not exactly a wake, " Faith corrects, " more a memorial."
"Whatever. Are you that Faith?"
" Yeah… so?"
" Glad to meet you. My names Gwen. Gwen Raiden." Faith notes she doesn't offer her hand in greeting.
- Where've I heard that name before? – Faith asks herself
" So how did you know Angel, Gwen?" Faith asks.
" You might say he got in my way." She thinks about it, " Actually, all of them, but mostly him and Gunn."
" Not making much sense there, Gwen. How did they 'get in your way' ?"
"Does it really matter? " Gwen asks," I mean, it's all over now, right?"
" Well, it's just kind of puzzling. Wondering why you'd come to a memorial for someone who got in your way," Faith queries.
" Maybe they helped me, getting in my way… never been really close to anyone. Couldn't be, because of … my talent, I'm guessing you'd call it. Anyway, when I was trying to steal the Axis of Pythia…"
"Electro-girl? That's YOU?" Faith looks at her, finally realizing who she is. Now she understands why Gwen has been avoiding any contact.
" Yeah. Shocking, isn't it?" Gwen jokes a little bitterly. She changes her mood quickly, " Gunn, and Angel, changed my perspective, I guess. Gave me something like a normal life…" she smiles ruefully, "though old habits are hard to break."
" So, it's still working… the LISA device?" Faith asks, remembering what Angel and Gunn told her about it.
" Yeah, " Gwen nods, then holds up her gloved hands, " but I still don't trust it." She changes the subject. " So what's your story, Faith? Why the whole thing?" She gestures around.
" I guess Angel kind of got in my way too," Faith says, " kept me from doing things I guess I didn't really want to do." Faith sees Gwen's questioning look, but waves it off, " too complicated to go into now. I just owed him a lot."
Gwen, sensing Faith's reluctance to go on, starts to move off, " Well, nice meeting you Faith…"
" Actually, if your not busy after, I'd like if you hung around. Want to talk to you."
" I dunno, kinda busy …" Gwen is trying to suss out what Faith wants.
" It could be profitable for you."
" I don't steal anymore…"
" Don't want you to, " Faith says," but it could still be profitable."
" Alright, guess I'm not that busy…" Gwen is intrigued.
Faith smiles enigmatically and departs. Gwen watches her go, feeling a little confused over the whole conversation. – Strange girl.- she shrugs, and moves off.
Faith wanders towards a corner, kind of talked out. She knows soon she's going to have to make some kind of address… not exactly her favorite thing, public speaking. She's avoiding more contact, just trying to get herself together for the speech she knows she's going to have to make. She starts to hum to herself; she finds it calms her some.
" I think he'd like that, " a familiar voice floats over to her. Startled, Faith looks up and sees a tall figure leaning next to her. He removes his hat and shades, and a shock of reddish hair, green skin and red eyes are revealed. Faith looks as if she's seen a ghost.
" Lorne?" Faith impulsively hugs him.
" Hey, careful, sweet cheeks, you could crush the Lorne-man with that grip," Lorne smiles, but groans at Faith's strength.
" Is it really you?" Faith asks, " how can it be you? I thought you died in the final battle…"
" I wasn't there, cutie," Lorne says, almost wistfully, " I was taking care of another little errand Angel sent me on."
" Doesn't matter, you're alive, " She hugs him again… then pushes him away, " Hey! You're alive. And you didn't tell me?"
Lorne looks at her, a sad expression on her face. " Sorry baby cakes, but I needed to get away from all this" Lorne gestures around the Hyperion lobby, " I told Angel that… I didn't know he would be … " he trails off.
She smiles at him, " Doesn't matter, you came. That's what's important," She looks around at the crowd, " can you believe the turn out? I mean, Angel was always dark broody and alone guy."
" That was his choice, though. Doesn't mean others didn't notice what he did, " Lorne looks around at the crowd, " also, some curiosity. Not every day a Slayer memorializes a vampire."
" Ex-slayer, " Faith corrects, " and Angel wasn't exactly your typical blood sucker, either."
" True enough, " Lorne agrees. He turns to Faith, " I think he'd be proud of you, kiddo. Fulfilling your destiny."
"Am I?" Faith says, having a moment of doubt, " Am I really? Sometimes, I just don't know." She gets pensive, " I miss him… silly, huh? A Slayer missing a vampire."
" Is that all you miss?" Lorne looks down at her. Faith blushes, realizing Lorne has read more than she wanted him to know.
" That really sucks sometimes, Lorne, that you can do that, " Faith says, not wanting to go there, " Anyway, that's over and gone."
Is it, sweetie?" Lorne asks, " I wouldn't count it out entirely quite yet."
Faith notices he's not looking at her any longer, but rather over her shoulder. She turns, and Willow is standing there, a little ways off, facing her. She isn't ready for this. Her cool deserts her. She turns back to Lorne, but he just smiles and gently pushes her towards Willow.
" I think you two need to talk," Lorne says before he quietly fades into the crowd.
Buffy stands quietly in the garden outside the hotel, looking in on the crowd of people.
Somehow she feels safer out here. She looks in, watching Faith move around the crowd with a practiced ease she has to envy. She can't remember the last time she's felt comfortable with so many people. Or with people, period.
But it's just one more example of how much things have changed. How much Faith has moved ahead of her, leaving her in the dust. She's off her game, and she doesn't know how to get back. She doesn't feel a part of this, any of this.
The worst part of it? I'm a fraud.- Memorialize Angel? Hell, I drove him away. Or, he walked away, 5 years ago. How do I recall his life, when I haven't been part of it for so long? Look at all these people. Who are they? They're strangers to me. Yet they all have some kind of connection to Angel. Frankly, what connection do I have? All these people were a part of Angel's life here… 'his town' … as he called it. Even Willow, more a part of this than I am. She fits here. How do I fit here? Do I even fit here?-
Sighing to herself, she turns to find a bench, to sit down and consider her situation. She runs right into a tall young man, standing almost directly behind her. She's starts… she didn't even sense him there.-That's weird, I usually sense someone that close.- She backs off a step, looking him over. He's tall, and thin, and has a mop of longish brown hair. He has a smile on his face, but it's his eyes that hold her attention. – So intense, almost as if they belong in the head of someone much older. God, they make me feel like he's looking right into me, as if he can read my soul… I don't… only Angel seemed to be able… - . She stands confused, not able to understand what's going on.
"Hi, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to crowd you. I just wanted to get a look inside, see what was happening," the young man says, by way of apology.
" Who are you?" Buffy manages to get out. She's still feeling somewhat at sea, the young man's gaze giving her some feeling of uneasiness.-Why didn't I sense him behind me?-
" My name's Connor. I'm Angel's son." Connor says simply and directly, his usual style.
Buffy stands in shock, looking at the young man with an open mouth. She feels as if she's been caught between two giant cymbals, and they just crashed together on her head –Angel's son? But… that's impossible! Angel can't have…- but she remembers hearing rumors about Angel having a son, rumors only started a couple of months ago. But she just dismissed them, figuring they were just that… rumors. But now, this young man is claiming…-Wait a minute. No way he could be Angel's son, even if he had a child. He's too old… way too old.
" Excuse me? Angel's son? How's that possible? I knew Angel a few years back, and he didn't have a son then… you're way too old to be his son."
Connor smiles, reciting an explanation he's had to repeat numerous times, " I was only born two years ago, here on earth. But I was raised in a hell dimension… Quortoth. Time passes much faster there, and while I was only gone a few weeks here, 17 years had passed over there." He looks at her, bracing for her reaction. He knows how fantastic it sounds( it's even fantastic still to him, since his memories of Quortoth are now rather vague). He's quite surprised when she nods as if understanding. " You believe me? Most of the time people tend to be … well, skeptical."
" I know a little something of Hell dimensions, " Buffy says, remembering her own brief sojourn in a hell dimension back when she hid under the name of Anne.
" Really?" Connor says, his suspicions aroused, " Who are you, exactly?"
Buffy, still feeling uncomfortable about the whole situation, decides to use her middle name in identifying herself. – I don't know what he knows about me, but maybe best to not reveal everything just yet-.
" My name is Anne." Buffy says, quietly.
Connor frowns, " No you're not. I know Anne. She's inside right now."
" I so am Anne, " Buffy says, defensively, " I've been Anne longer than you've been 'Connor' ".
" You're lying…" Connor says, but he's cut off by a voice from the doorway.
" It's ok, Connor. This is Anne… the real Anne, " A woman steps closer. She's thin and blonde, like Buffy. But that's where the resemblance stops. Unlike Buffy, she's tall, standing at least a head taller than the diminutive slayer. Buffy turns, hearing the familiar voice, and smiles in recognition.
" Lilly!" Buffy says, going over and hugging the other blonde woman. The woman, a little startled, still smiles and returns the hug.
" I go by Anne now, Anne. Well, that's weird, " She laughs.
Buffy steps back, and she takes a look at the girl formerly known as Sister Sunshine, Chanterelle , Lilly… and now Anne. Instead of the self –effacing, somewhat spacey girl she knew in L.A. back… oh, goodness, almost 6 years ago, she sees a self confident woman who knows exactly who she is, and what she wants. It's all there in her stance, her smile, her aura of confidence she projects.
"Well, look at you, " Buffy smiles, feeling a genuine warmth and pride. It's almost as if seeing your daughter grow up into someone special. " How are you? It's been so long. What've you been doing with yourself?"
"Later, Anne, we can sit and catch up after the memorial? Aren't you coming in?" Anne asks.
"Wait a minute. Which of you is the real Anne?" Connor asks, growing more confused by the moment.
Both point at the other woman. " She is" they say together, and laugh.
" We both are, I guess, Connor, " Anne, formerly Lilly says, " I met Anne a long time ago, in L.A. She let me take her name… it's a long story. I'll tell you about it sometime." Connor still looks bewildered.
" Maybe we should end the poor guy's confusion. I'm also known as Buffy, " Buffy says, clearing things up a little.
Connor looks at her intently. " Buffy? Dad's Buffy?" Connor asks in disbelief. " Is that you?"
" Guilty, " Buffy replies. She braces herself for his reaction.- I have no idea what Angel said to Connor about me.-
She's quite unprepared for Connor's reaction. In a blink, he's moved to her and hugging her, quite tightly. He pulls back, and holds her at arm's length.
" I've wanted to meet you for a long time, " Connor exclaims, " Cordelia told me all about you and Dad."
" Ummm… don't believe EVERYTHING Cordelia told you, " Buffy says. –Oh, great. He probably wants to kill me now. So, why the hug?-
" No, nothing bad… well, not really. Mostly though, just how you and Dad were very close. I was hoping…" Connor trails off, his natural reserve and shyness kicking in.
" What, Connor?"
" I was hoping you could tell me about him. I … I never got to know him real well."
" I'm sure there're others that can tell you about Angel, " Buffy feels inadequate on the Angel knowledge score.
" Not like you," Connor says, quietly, " Cordy told me you and Angel… well, you knew him better than anybody."
" I'll tell you whatever I can, Connor," Buffy says, noting the hint of desperation in his voice. She's come to accept the strange fact that this young man standing in front of her is indeed Angel's son. – It's so weird… he's Dawnie's age.- Thinking about Dawn, Buffy smiles. – I guess no weirder than me getting a sister all of a sudden.- " Maybe we should go in now… I'm sure things will be starting soon."
Connor, flanked by Buffy and Anne, heads towards the Lobby door.
" You know, I expected you to be a lot taller, " He says, turning to Buffy as they reach the doors.
Buffy just sighs and shakes her head. – Why does everybody expect me to be some kind of Amazon, anyway?-
The three enter the lobby together.
Willow stands quietly watching as Faith talks to Lorne.
She's actually been watching Faith all evening. Even though she's been hiding out from Faith since she arrived, Willow is curious about her, how she's been doing. –Even if she doesn't want me anymore, doesn't mean I've stopped caring about her.- She came down early, hoping to avoid Faith on the stairs, looking for a nice corner to blend into until the service began. She contemplated the garden, but saw Buffy standing out there. Her body language and expression screamed out " I want to be alone right now" , so Willow stayed in the lobby. Besides, despite whatever Buffy had said at the airport, Willow felt something was bothering Buffy. She wanted to know about that also, but felt Buffy didn't want to talk about it.- Just have to wait 'til she's ready to talk about it, I guess. Goddess, what is it about slayers and expressing their feelings, anyway?.-
Willow watched Faith make her entrance as the lobby was filling up with people. She saw her hesitate for a second, then she started going around, talking to various groupings. Surreptitiously, keeping out of Faith's line of sight, Willow followed her around, watching her deal with the crowd. What she saw surprised her; this wasn't the Faith she knew. This woman had poise, she was confident, and talked easily to people. – Goddess, what happened to her? She seems so… together. What happened to her? When did this happen? Where was this girl when we were together?… was it me? Did I make her… crazy? No, that… she was already… but … oh, crap… what if it was me? What if I was the one making her so… but… Willow shook her head. She just followed her, growing more and more amazed. Then she saw Faith moving to a corner, seeming to want to fade out for a bit… and then Lorne seemed to appear from no where… and they started talking…
Willow comes out of her reverie to realize that Lorne is looking straight at her. So is Faith.- Oh, goddess, how long have I been standing there like an idiot, probably drooling on myself?- Willow chides herself, straightening up and returning Faith's gaze.
They're eyes lock, and for a brief time the world drops away for the two of them; only they seem to exist. The old needs, longings and desires seem to readily come to the surface, overwhelming both women. Yet the fears, the hurt both felt, the tears both cried, are there too, keeping them at a distance. It's as if both are shackled to the spot, both straining to move closer, but unable to free themselves.
Willow seems to break the spell first, moving towards Faith slowly. She sees the emotions playing havoc in Faith, love, desire, need, and a small element of fear.- Is she afraid of me? Does she think I would hurt her? Goddess, what's happened to us?- Willow struggles to keep her own emotions in check, attempting to adopt a friendly, non-threatening casual attitude. She's only partly successful.
" Hey, Faith, " Willow says calmly, but there's a hint of strain in her voice.
" Hey, " Faith returns, feeling all of 6 years old, naked and exposed. Her instincts are screaming at her to run, run now, before she sees you as you really are. But Faith holds steady, pushing down her fears, trying to keep a semblance of the cool poise she's developed over the last year.
" You're looking good, " Willow says, honestly.- Downright edible, I'd say. WILLOW, god, get it in control, girl.-
"So are you, Red, " Faith says, her own heart hammering in her chest. She catches a whiff of Willow's scent, and feels a little intoxicated. – God, I'm hopeless. I can't even stand close to her without wanting to… keep it cool, Faith. Just keep it cool. Damned raging hormones.
" How are things with you, Faith? I hear you've quite become the business woman. I think I read about you in Business week last month."
" That was nothing, trust me. It was a puff piece for the company. If Bobo the cymbal playing chimp had been there, they would've interviewed him. Nothing." Faith trails off. She looks at Willow and starts to say something, the switches at the last second, " So, I hear you've got your own business now? A networking company?"
" Yeah, we do networking security. No big," Willow dares to traverse the personal, asking, " So, are you seeing anyone?"
" No. Been too busy, trying to learn the ropes, I guess, to date or anything," Faith says, not saying she had no desire to see anyone else. Not now, not ever. She tries to brace herself. " You? You seeing anyone?"
The question hangs in the air for the briefest second, Willow trying to decide how to respond.
" Yeah, " She answers, deciding on the truth, " I'm seeing someone. Kinda. It's not serious or anything…"
"Well.. that's… that's great Red, " Faith smiles, a little too broadly, " that's … really great." She reaches out and pats Willow's shoulder, in a friendly way." It's good that you're … uhhh.. getting out there, you know? I'm really happy for you, you know that, right?"
" Look, Faith… I…" Willow starts, but Faith interrupts her.
" No, it's really cool, Red. I just…" Faith looks around, a little desperately, " I just… well, you know, I just better get this thing started before everybody gets restless. You know how people are, " She smiles, " Hey, do me a favor? If you're not in a big hurry to leave, I mean… ummm… I've … I need to talk to you about something… so if you could stick around?"
" Yeah, sure Faith, I'll stay, " Willow feels puzzled.
" Good, real good. Well, I better go… it's been great talking to you again, Red. I'll see you after…" Faith turns and almost seems to trip over herself trying to get away. She heads towards the speaker's platform set up in the middle of the lobby.
Willow watches her go, feeling all of 1" tall. – Damn, stupid. Stupid, stupid and stupid. That so totally sucked.-
Faith, moving towards the center of the lobby, is scolding herself. - Well, could you be any more stupid, Faith? That totally sucked!-
Faith is climbing the steps to the little speaker's platform she had set up in the middle of the lobby. She's still trying to figure out what she wants to say when she hears the doors to the lobby slam open. Startled, she looks over and sees a group of figures enter, led by a woman in a long, dark burgundy dress.
" Look, my lovelies. A celebration for Daddy. How sweet. Daddy did so love parties. Cakes and games, cakes and games. I'm so thrilled!" Drusilla claps her hands excitedly, " And, oh, look at all the pretty blossoms… all red and white and gold. So pretty. Now my dears," She says, grabbing one of the figures and pulling him to her, " You be careful, when you're snacking on all the delicious treats, that you don't go spilling on the lovely flowers!"
Faith is immediately alert. She looks for Buffy, and sees her moving off towards the side door.-Good, get the civilians out. - She also sees Willow breaking off from the crowd, moving towards Faith. She turns around to confront Drusilla.
" Well, looky who's here. Drusilla. Funny, I don't remember adding you to the guest list." Faith says, looking across to the dark haired vampire.
" Did you think you could have a party for Daddy without me showing up, dear? Tsk, tsk, tsk." Drusilla wags her finger at Faith.
Meanwhile, Buffy, along with some of the other guests, is attempting to herd the main body of guests out the side door. They're stopped by a contingent of vampires.
" Now, now, don't be leaving the party before refreshments are served, " She scolds the crowd, " After all, that's just rude."
" So, Dru, how's that insanity thing working out for you? Still have the creepy crawlers slithering through your brains? I mean, you'd have to be crazy if you think you could take us with that group of vamps, " Fait mocks her.
" Oh, no, dearie. These are just my favorite children," Drusilla moves, allowing a large contingent of vampires to pour into the lobby. " These are my other babies." Drusilla smiles her slightly out of focus smile at Faith. She turns to her companions, " Well, what are you waiting for? Daddy's party has begun." She waves her coterie on, and the vampires begin to move in for the attack.
Willow, in the meantime, has been chanting a barrier spell. She reaches the final phrase, and the vampires run into a solid wall. Buffy, getting her cue, starts attacking the contingent of vampires blocking the garden exit. Clearing them, she starts to herd the guests out of the building. Drusilla turns to Faith.
"What good is that? My babies will just eat them as they're leaving. Inside, outside, it's all the same to me" She smiles.
" Oh, now I'm being a rude hostess, " Faith returns, " I forgot to introduce you to my girls" The lobby is mostly cleared out. Faith raises an air horn, and triggers it. A group of women appear at the top of the stairs. " You see, Dru, I figured you might decide to show up. I didn't want it to get dull for you, so I invited some of my friends. Girls?" Faith calls out, and the women start to descend the staircase to the lobby. About 2 dozen strong, a contingent of six break off and head for the garden. The lobby is pretty much cleared except for the vampires and the women. Also present is Gwen and Kate. They're assisting Buffy move the guests out of the hotel.
"What's this? A group of little girls to go up against us? Are YOU insane, dear?" Drusilla laughs.
Faith just smiles. " About got that barrier down, Willow?" Willow nods, and suddenly the barrier drops. The vampires move in for the slaughter. Faith continues. " Times change, Drusilla. Not just 'girls', they're my warriors. My slayers." The women move in time, pulling out weapons, and start attacking the vampires. Faith jumps off the platform, and joins the fight.
Outside in the garden, the slayers that joined up with Buffy are attacking the vampires that were stationed there to keep the crowd in. They punch a hole in the line of the vampires, and start to move the crowd out of the garden, into the street, and to safety. Though outnumbered 3 to 1, their training shows, and soon the vampires start to either fall or run away. Buffy addresses the slayers.
" Ok, you guys, go and escort the guest out to their cars, and see them safely off. I think the memorial is over for now. I'm going back in to help out in the lobby." The leader of the squad, a tall redhead, nods, and leads her slayers out to escort the civilians. Buffy runs back into the lobby.
Inside, the lobby has become a war zone. Drusilla has brought a small army of vampires, and the slayers are engaged in a tight battle. Willow is creating fireballs, incinerating vampires right and left. The slayers have grouped in pairs, back to back, working in co-ordination to take out the vampire horde. Gwen, using her power, stuns the vampires, making taking them out easier. Kate, carrying a crossbow, is firing and dusting vampires.
Drusilla, off to the side, is directing her vamps. She notices Faith is alone, and beelines for her, wanting to kill her personally. She brings her select group of vampires with her.
" Faith, watch out!" Buffy calls, seeing Drusilla and her group moving towards Faith. Faith turns, and is surrounded by Drusilla's 'boys'. Four of them hold a struggling Faith, as Drusilla comes up to mock her.
" So, dearie, we're not so cocky now, are we?" Drusilla purrs, as an angry Faith struggles against her captors. Faith looks up at her, and spits on Drusilla. Drusilla wipes her face, and backhands Faith. " Rrrr - ruff. Bad girl!" Drusilla starts to weave back and forth, trying to get Faith's attention. " Look at me, luv. Look at my eyes… be in me" Faith struggles some more, but slowly her struggles lessen , then cease. " That's it, dear. Look at me. Shhh… it's ok, it's ok…"
" I don't think so, bitch," A fist slams into Drusilla's face. She's knocked off her feet. Buffy is standing there, smiling. The spell broken, Faith breaks free of her attackers, and starts to dust them. Buffy stakes one, and then turns towards Drusilla.
Drusilla is back on her feet, and shaking with anger and frustration. " ooooo… you! You ruined my perfect boy for me, you ruined my Daddy for me…." Losing control, she launches herself at Buffy, attacking Buffy head on.
Buffy sidesteps her, then uses her own momentum to slam her into the ground. Buffy is on her in a heartbeat, but Drusilla manages to buck her off, and gets back on her feet. Buffy flips mid air, landing squarely on her feet, facing Dru. Drusilla advances on her.
" It's your fault, you know," Drusilla screams at her, " If not for you, they wouldn't be gone. You… you messed with them, weakened them… and now they're gone. You killed them!" Again, Drusilla lunges at her, claws out.
Buffy, already feeling guilt over the death of Angel and Spike, snaps. Her rage boils over, and she grabs Drusilla, slamming her hard into the ground, head first. Jumping on her back, she starts beating Drusilla about the face and head.
" Not my fault, it's NOT MY FAULT," She screams at the weakened, stunned vampire. Losing control, she starts to beat her head to a bloody pulp, ignoring everything around her. " NOT MY FAULT!"
" Buffy! BUFFY! " Faith yells at her, having taken care of the other vamps holding her." Stop… just stake her and move on… we need help!"
Buffy ignores her, whaling hard on the unconscious vampire, still screaming " NOT ME. NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT!" She's out of control, slamming her fists into Drusilla.
Faith, out of patience, runs over to Buffy and hauls her off of Drusilla, throwing her to the side. Faith raises her stake over the now near-dead vampire and finishes it.
"Noooooooo! She was MINE!" Buffy screams, doing a body slam into Faith. " SHE WAS MINE!"
Faith is nearly knocked off her feet, but recovers herself and grabs Buffy. She slaps her across the face.
" I don't have time for this, B. I need you fighting. We're not done yet, " Faith points at the battle still going on, "If you want to fight, fight them. Take your crap out on them." She throws Buffy back, and moves to join the other slayers. Buffy, red faced, but sober again, runs to join her.
Slowly, the tide of the battle turns. The vampires, their leader gone, lose heart. Still they attack, having the superior numbers. But the squad of slayers sent to escort the guests joins the battle , attacking them from the rear. The vampires, outflanked, their numbers dwindling, seeing the writing on the wall, break and run. Some make it; most are surrounded and dusted by the slayers. Soon the battle is over, and the slayers, exhausted from battle, some of them wounded, sit where they stand, trying to catch their breath.
Faith makes the rounds, checking on her 'girls'. Seeing a few have serious wounds, she heads in towards the lobby to call an ambulance.
The lobby is beyond a mess. Most of the furniture is broken. Some of the windows have been smashed, and glass seems to be everywhere. Some of the potted plants have been overturned and broken, dirt scattered all over the floor.
Gwen is sprawled on one of the remaining undamaged couches, a silly grin on her face. " That was cool" she utters, to no one in particular.
Kate is leaning over the reception desk, her expression grim but satisfied. She has a cut on her forehead, and some bruises are appearing on her face. She nods acknowledgement when she sees Faith enter.
Willow is next to her, sitting on the floor, leaning against the reception desk. Her eyes are closed, and she seems asleep. Her hands are held out away from her, and are still crackling from mystic energy.
" Is everybody ok in here? Anyone hurt?"
" I'm good, " Kate answers, stoically. Faith walks over and checks her out.
" I want you to get checked out when the ambulance arrives," Faith says, seeing her cuts and bruising.
" I'm good, I told you, " Kate responds. Faith just stares at her. " Ok, ok, I'll get checked. Crap, don't make a deal about it."
" That was so… fine" Gwen pipes up from the couch.
" You ok?" Faith asks.
" I'm great!" Gwen replies, laughing.
Faith shakes her head.- God, she's nuts, too. Great, just great. I need another nutcase onboard.-
" How 'bout you, Red? You ok?" Faith asks, making her way behind the desk. She picks up the phone, and dials.
Willow doesn't answer, she just sits quietly, leaning against the desk. Faith finishes her call, and looks over the desk, worried.
" Hey, Red… are you ok?" She asks, concern plain in her voice.
Willow opens her eyes… they are black. She speaks, but her voice is an octave lower than normal, and distorted.
" I'm ok, Faith. But I need to meditate. Please, just be quiet." Willow closes her eyes again.
- Aw, crap, I pissed her off… again. I can't win with her. Why do I even try? -
Faith moves back out into the front, checking on the girls again, and waiting for the ambulance. Something nags at her… she's forgotten something. She looks around, but can't see anything out of place. But she knows she's forgotten something…
- Buffy! Where the hell is Buffy? -
She looks around, but there's no sign of the blonde slayer.
" Hey, has anyone seen Buffy?" Faith calls out.
" Is that the short little blonde ?" Jane, the tall redhead asks.
" Yeah… that's her."
" She took off right after the fight ended. She was with some kid. Thought they might be chasing some of the vamps."
Faith feels her fists balling up, and she sighs heavily.
" Kid? Kinda tall, longish brown hair, attitude?"
" Yeah, that's him. Who is he?"
" Connor… Angel's son" Faith replies. She shakes her head. – Swell. Put one pissed off slayer with a kid with a vampire's strength and attitude, and what do you get? Disaster!-
- Great. Just fucking great! –
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