Bed. Bed was a good thing. Fire bad, bed nice.
Buffy's content brain dreamed of soft sheets and warm comforter until her aching body pushed sleep aside, demanding like a petulant child that its pain be acknowledged. The unwelcome bonus was the cold that came with wakefulness and reality.
So Buffy woke with a rare curse falling from her lips, unbidden.
"Right back at you, B."
Blinking awake faster now, Buffy turned her gaze behind her to find Faith sitting with her head in her hands, looking entirely hungover.
"What the...?" Buffy looked around and it took her a moment to realize where they were.
"That was my thought, or at least it was when my brain started working again." Faith rubbed the back of her neck experimentally as if checking for a pin prick from a needle. "Pretty sure I was drugged."
"I'm going to go with a big fat 'oh yeah' on the drugging part," Buffy agreed, taking a moment to try to sit up despite how woozy she felt. "As far as where we are, I'm pretty sure we're in the same mausoleum cage that Oz used to use for when he wolfed out on the full moon."
Faith stood and gave the locked iron barred door a strong yank and then a powerful kick. It rattled, but resisted even her slayer strength.
"Great. It's both monster and slayer-proof. So we're going to starve down here?"
"I'm sure whoever brought us here will be back." Buffy wrapped her arms around her knees for warmth. Whoever had left them there had only provided two thin blankets, which did little more than keep the dust from the floor off them. "Eventually."
"Little Miss Hopeful," Faith smirked. "Wouldn't it be funny if your boy toy locked us up in here together hoping for a little girl on girl action?" She made a show of checking the corners. "Only I can't see the cameras."
"Riley would never..." Buffy began awkwardly. "And neither would we... I mean you and I. The girl-girl thing."
"Really? I'd do you in a heartbeat."
Faith's eyes widened in shock just as much as Buffy's.
"Do you realize you actually said that aloud?" Buffy tittered nervously, trying to diffuse the sudden tension in the small cell.
"It's not what I planned on saying, that's for damn sure." Faith seemed to shake herself back to the present. "Anyway, doesn't matter who I fuck or if I fuck anything that walks, I am so ready to put my fist in the face of whoever locked me up down here."
"Well, if it was Willow or Riley or Giles? Then no way I'm letting you hit them."
"Yeah, because good friends are the kind of people who lock you up with a murderer."
Buffy's eyes fell. "That's not how I see you."
"Oh really?" The sarcasm dripped from Faith's voice. "It's only the reason you turned your back on me and wanted to hand me over to the police or worse the Watchers' Council. I bet you probably never once visited me when I was in a coma all those months."
"I've had some time to think." It sounded lame even to her ears, but the words kept spilling out of Buffy's mouth as if she couldn't control them. "And I realized that I'm no better than you. In fact, you killing Alan was an accident, but when I stabbed you? I knew exactly what I was doing." The words swept out of her and she heard them for the first time at the same time Faith did. "I was angry at you: for refusing to admit killing Alan meant something, for hurting Angel and for turning being a slayer into something dirty and wrong."
Faith let out a little huff and sat down cross-legged on her skimpy blanket facing Buffy. "Go on, B. Tell me how you really feel."
Buffy flushed red, mortified, but unable to resist continuing. "I just meant... I... When I went after you with the knife I was angry, but as soon as I stabbed you I realized how wrong it was. I should never have done it. I forgot who I was for a while there. I don't do stuff like that to humans, least of all someone I care about."
The expression on Faith's face flickered from smug annoyance to something softer, gentler, and then it passed as quickly as a shadow.
"Care about, huh? Great way of showing it. 'Happy Valentines Day! How about nice knife to the gut to show my affection?'"
Buffy winced, the sharpness of the verbal attack almost as painful as a strike. "God, Faith! Can't you have a serious conversation about what happened without cracking jokes?"
"No, because if I don't deflect with humor then I have to face what I did and that hurts too much!" Faith blurted it all out so fast, both of them were stunned.
After a pregnant pause, Buffy ventured, "Um, you didn't mean to say all that, did you?"
"No way in hell." Faith looked shaken, uncertain. "What the fuck is going on here?"
"We were drugged..." Buffy got up to pace the short distance of the cell. "So it could be a truth serum or a spell."
Faith gestured to the not even slightly bent cell door. "It would take some serious witch mojo to keep that door from busting open from me kicking it, so I'm going with the spell idea."
"I don't know, but I think it might be a truth serum on top of something to knock us out," Buffy mused, thoughtful. "Clearly someone thought taking on two slayers at once would be a bad idea."
"Watchers' Council?" Faith let a little shudder show. "They've got some fancy mojo themselves. Wouldn't put it past them to pull a stunt like this. Hell, I bet they'd want us to just take each other out. That would solve it all: no Faith, no Buffy. Next slayer? Come on down!"
"They're not like that," Buffy groused.
"Yeah, they just want me dead," Faith spat back.
"Pretty much yeah," Buffy replied, blinking at her own brutal honesty. "Well, that's only because they have no idea how to control you and are pretty sure that you're ready to graduate to mass murder if they don't stop you." She slapped her hands over her mouth. "Oh, this is not good," she mumbled around them. "I need to, like, not talk or something."
"Oh, no!" Faith crossed over to Buffy's side of the cell and peeled her hands away from her mouth. "This is just getting good! Tell me, are you afraid of me?"
"No. I was only afraid of becoming you."
Faith huffed out a breath. "Well, that's honest at least. Next up, were you jealous of me?"
"Totally," Buffy couldn't hold back, the words just kept coming. "You had all this freedom - no watcher, no parents, no rules... I wanted all that until I figured out that it also meant no love, no friends and..."
"Enough!" Faith turned on her heel and stalked back over to the door, rattling it impatiently even though it refused to give.
"And you?" Buffy turned on her. "Did you ever care about me at all or was I just cannon fodder in your trip to the dark side?"
"Did I care?" Faith's eyes flashed with anger as she turned back to face off with Buffy. "I loved you! You were everything to me: the sister I never had, the best friend who understood me... And you? You put a god damned knife in my gut! What kind of friend does that?"
"I'm sorry!" Buffy cried out. "I never wanted to be that person. I just wanted us to be close. No one ever got me like you did, but after Alan... I freaked out and thought you were some sort of bad omen, like you were changing me, making me forget who I was inside."
"Hell, I wanted to forget who I was!" Faith's voice had risen so loud the cell almost reverberated with her volume. "I was the slayer who got my watcher killed. I was the slayer who brought an unstoppable vamp to Sunnydale, who almost killed us both. And I was never going to be as good as Saint Buffy no matter how hard I tried!" She slumped down on the floor, as if the venom inside - once expressed - had been drained from her. "I almost wish you'd really died for good when the Master drowned you. Then I'd have been the only slayer - no one to be compared to. That's how it's supposed to be: only one..."
"Sorry to inconvenience you with my only partial death." Oddly relieved at getting all that off her chest, Buffy couldn't help a smirk crossing her lips, which Faith noticed and began to chuckle at.
"Next time, make it for real, will you? I've got a kick ass red dress that would be perfect to wear at your funeral."
"Bitch," Buffy tossed out, her tone almost playful now.
"Right back at you, B." Faith let her head fall back, allowing a long deep exhale to pass before speaking again. "How the hell did we get here?"
"Doesn't matter. It's what we do next that's important." Buffy got up, walked over to Faith and offered her a hand to rise. "Peace? At least for now?"
Faith looked at the outstretched hand a second then took it. "Peace. I can hang with that. Got enough people who want to kill me." She cocked her head towards the iron gate. "Think this thing can withstand two slayers at once?"
Buffy grinned, pleased at the suggestion of teamwork. "Not a chance. On three. One, two, three..." Both of them kicked hard and the door not only blew open, it flew across the mausoleum, denting as it impacted the wall on the other side.
"Not too shabby, sister!" Faith nodded her approval. "Come on, let's blow this clambake and find the bastards who shut us up in here."
They both headed up the stairs only to find the wide double doors barred on the other side.
"Jeez, overkill much?" Buffy complained.
"One good hard push from both of us... Come on." Faith gestured Buffy into position and they both put their shoulders to the metal doors. Dust and dirt fell down on them, cobwebs snagging their clothing. "Push!"
There was a creak and then a snap as the bar broke and they both tumbled out onto the day-lit grass in front of the mausoleum.
"Look..." Buffy rolled up to a seated position and pointed to a large manilla envelope attached to the side of the mausoleum with copious amounts of duct tape. She got up and peeled it off, opening it as Faith joined her, watching.
"'Buffy," she read, "If you're reading this then it means we know about the body swap, but we haven't figured out yet how to test for who's Buffy and who's Faith. We're sorry about locking you up, but we didn't know what would happen if we let Faith go free. Giles sent the Watchers' Council goons on a wild goose chase so we've got some time until they come back. If you're okay and if Faith is okay then here's a motel room key for you guys to use to hide out until things blow over. Call me at Giles and we'll take it from there. - Willow'" She turned the page over. "Faith, if you're reading this, please don't kill us.'"
"They don't mention the truth thing." A siren sounded in the near distance and Faith shifted to hide behind the nearest tall headstone. "But the lay low idea sounds good. You good for some pizza and pay per view until the police kind of forget about that little stunt at the church?"
"I'm good," Buffy confirmed, mirroring Faith's once familiar friendly expression. "Five by five."