Chapter One: Down The Rabbit Hole
Pain. Body shredding pain was the last thing she remembered. Body shredding pain and bright lights blinding her vision. She knew the sun had just rose, signaling a new day for those that she loved. From the moment Buffy Summers leapt off the shaky man made tower and into the portal of energy, she knew she would die. It all came together and stuck like glue; death was her gift and the only way to save her friends and her sister. As odd as it sounded she'd reached a sort of peace in those last few brief seconds as she told Dawn to keep living. Naturally she would die young; that was the curse of being a Slayer.
Yet as she laid on the cold, hard ground and stared up at the star filled night sky, one random thought filtered through her brain. Man, Heaven looks kinda crappy.
There had been no white fluffy clouds or angels with soft wings to welcome her to her final resting place. Nope, nothing cool and interesting like that. Just wet grass and a cramp that was steadily moving up her leg to her ass. And here she'd thought Heaven was a place of good feelings and fluffy fluffiness. Where she could eat all the cheese she wanted and never gain a single pound. Where she'd always have the latest fashions and her hair would never do that weird thing it usually did.
"If I'm in hell, someone is getting a strongly worded letter." Groaning, she slowly sat up and rubbed at the back of her head.
Her muscles were aching, her heart thudding loudly in her own ears. She glanced around with big green eyes and frowned slightly, standing on wobbly legs that nearly made her topple back down. She brushed off her beige pants and sighed, wondering if she was in the midst of a strange concussion. Or maybe she was indeed dead but this was the afterlife waiting room, and any minute now some chick named Doris would call her name and show her through some gates that better be pearly. Hand her a halo, a coupon for free fries and wish her a good day.
Otherwise her spirit guide had totally lied to her. How could death be her gift if she were in fact standing in the Sunnydale park? Unless she was doomed to be a ghost. Float around for eternity while going oooh until she found a good house to haunt. She could haunt Giles, that would probably turn out a lot funnier than someone would think.
Making sure that she didn't have a case of the dizzies, she slowly began to walk along. She made her way past the small shrubs and that circle thingie the kids like to play on, listening to the sound of leaves crunching under her stylish shoes. She stepped off the curb when she came to it and continued strolling, wrapping her arms around herself to keep off the slight chill. A small breeze fluttered her long blonde hair, sending strands dancing across her cheek. She pushed them to the side and bite her bottom lip, looking to the eerie silence that was the Restfield cemetery.
Once upon a time it had been so many vamps, so many different headstones to get tossed over. Who knew it would finally end at the hand of a scary Hell God with a bad home perm? Or that it was supposed to end at the hand of a scary Hell God with a bad home perm. She wasn't quite clear on the how do yet, considering she was in fact on solid cement and not enjoying out of body-ness.
Exhaling deeply, she rounded a corner and the familiar sound of fighting flowed into her ears. Great, on the night she died she couldn't even get time off. How unfair was that?
Quickening her pace, she weaved between a thick over growth of bushes and stopped to see what was going on. A brunette with shiny corkscrew curls and dressed in leather pants was fighting off a vampire. Her foot connected with his face as she delivered a hard kick, sending him flying to the ground. She jumped on his back and grabbed his head, slamming it down into the dirt and making him growl. Slipping to the side, she yanked him right side up and punched him in the face repeatedly until it was likely cartoon birds were swirling around his head.
Jerking the wooden stake out of the pocket of her denim jacket, she plunged it into his chest and smirked as he poofed into dust.
Buffy blinked, her mouth falling open. Was she really seeing what she thought she was seeing? Because what she was seeing was supposed to be in jail. Locked behind bars and sharing showers with women named Bertha and Mad Maxine, not slaying vamps all la di da.
Snapping back to attention, she frowned. "Faith! What the hell are you doing here?"
Faith looked over, her brows shooting up. "Scuse me?"
"You heard me! What are you doing here? How did you get out?"
"Outta where? Do I know you?"
"Oh don't even try it. The amnesia thing--so not gonna work."
"Look lady, I got no clue what cha babblin' on about. I suggest ya get home though before somethin' messes up that pretty hair."
She started to walk by but Buffy grabbed her wrist, meeting her gaze. "Did Angel get you out? Was it a good behavior sort of thing?"
The brunette wretched her arm free. "Who? I don't know any Angel..."
Pressing her lips together, the blonde just stared at her for a moment. She was usually a good judge when it came to the crazy, or when people were lying to her. So standing there getting all intense gaziness with Faith, she saw no recollection in her deep brown eyes what so ever. Not even a smidgen, and someone doesn't just forget massive fights where fists connected with faces on a daily basis. That rhymed.
But back to the matter at hand. "You really don't know who I am, do you?"
"Not a clue." Faith replied slowly. "Are you aight? You look kinda trashed."
Pouting, she rubbed at her bicep. "I--I dunno. This is Sunnydale right?"
"Yup." A beat. "All day long."
Now she was confused. "Bu--but if this is Sunndyale then..." Trailing off, she gestured wildly with her hands. "I was just here like five minutes ago! The guys and I had defeated Glory, bu--but the portal was open so I had to jump. I was right up there!" She pointed up to...nothing. The large tower that you could probably see from space was gone. "Whaa..."
Faith clicked her tongue against the roof of her mouth. Was this chick mental? "Maybe you should go catch some zees. Come down from whatever you're on."
Dragging her fingers through her hair, she shook her head from side to side. "It was right there, I swear. What is going on?!" She was right; this was hell. "Where is everyone? Where is Dawn? Where is Giles?"
"You know Giles?"
"Yes. We both know Giles. He's...Giles."
"O...kay. C'mon we'll go see if he can make heads to what you're sayin'."
Without waiting for a response, she turned and started walking off. Buffy whimpered but followed along, replying the last events she remembered in her mind over and over again. Glory. Beating. Tower. Portal. Death. Sense; it wasn't making it. Even if she could suspend the wacky and figure that maybe the tower had collapsed, it didn't explain Faith or why she had no idea who she was.
Unless all the steel had hit her in the head as it came down. Though a concussion did not seem a normal reaction. Giant gaping head wound, that she could understand.
The streets were quiet and the buildings were closed as they strolled along. The town looked exactly the same as always. The Espresso Pump had just finished pumping; the boss pushing out the last of his customers. People chatted and went about their business, jumping in cars and speeding away or jogging down the sidewalk. Everything was peaceful.
Folding her arms over her chest, she glanced to Faith and noticed that she did look different. Older maybe. The last time she had seen her as she gave her statement to the police, there'd been a repose to her body. Like she'd finally learned to accept herself. That was missing now. Granted she didn't look like she wanted to get stabby with it, but she looked like there was no weight on her shoulders at all. No reason for her to atone.
"Like what cha see?"
Good to see that hadn't changed. "No. I--I mean yes...I mean...things are way wiggy right now."
Smirking, the brunette nodded. "Well no worries. I'm sure G will straighten out whatever is up."
"God I hope so." Buffy sighed, taking the steps down to his home two at a time.
Faith knocked twice and then twisted the knob, pushing the door open. "Yo G!" She stepped to the side and let Buffy in, then did the same and closed the door. "Look what followed me home. Can I keep it?"
The blonde scowled and Giles appeared out of his bedroom with a cup of tea in his hands. "Dare I ask?" He moved into his living room and picked up a book, then turned to see what she was talking about. He blinked and visibly jerked, the pretty mug in his hand falling to shatter into a thousand pieces on the floor. His eyes grew wide behind his thin rimmed glasses, his mouth working but no sound coming out.
Buffy swallowed, his reaction making her slightly nervous. "Giles? D--do you know who I am?"
"Yo--you're B--Buffy Summers." He stammered out. "But you can't be. It--it's not possible."
She wet her lips. "Why not? Why can't I be me? Is someone else me?"
Removing his glasses, he cleaned them. "Faith, where did this woman come from?"
The girl in question shrugged as she sat down on the arm of the couch. "I dunno. I was patrolin' and she walked up with a major 'tude. Said she knew ya and since I didn't get demon vibes, I brought her over."
"Hello, still in the room." The blonde replied. "Giles please, why can't I be me?"
He cleared his throat before he spoke. "Because...Buffy Summers died nearly four years ago at the hands of the Master."
Suddenly everything tilted and she would have hit the corner table had Faith not steadied her. She was lead to the sofa and sat down, and the brunette moved into the kitchen to get her a glass of water. She covered her face with her hands and tried to gasp in air, feeling a panic attack coming on. If it were possible for things to be worse than hell, then she'd found them. Go team her!
"I--I..." Stuttering, she took the offered beverage and sipped lightly. Too fast and she'd end up yakking on the carpet. "Th--there must be some mistake. I--I did die bu--but Xander, he--he brought me back to life. I was only gone a minute."
Giles eased down hesitatingly beside her. "Those are not the events that I remember, like they were yesterday. You--uh Buffy went down to fight the Master but she did not survive. He bit her and then left her to drown in a small fountain of water."
"But Xander gave me CPR!"
"No. He was too late. There was nothing he could do."
"I--what's going on?"
"What is the last thing you remember?"
Sniffling, she took another sip. "I--we were fighting Glory and the portal opened before we could stop it. Da--Dawn was going to jump to stop the energy fro--from leaking out but I--I jumped instead. Everything went white..."
He stood and moved to his bookcase, thumbing through the volumes. "You jumped into a portal? Hmm..." A pause. "I suppose it is possible. It's not unheard of though this is truly extraordinary."
"Giles, English." She whispered. "What the hell is going on? Am I not...Buffy? Am I losing my mind?"
Smiling warmly, he slipped his spectacles back on. "I believe that you are Buffy, but not the one that belongs here. It is not uncommon for portals to lead to other dimensions; there are hundreds that border our own."
Her lashes fluttered. "So wait, this is another dimension? But I--the energy was supposed to kill me. Everyone said so. You said so."
"Perhaps I was wrong. Energy is volatile and unstable at best, no one can be quite sure what shall occur when it is unleashed." He explained. "It could have caused uh--uh tear in the fabric of worlds, and instead of killing you, it sent you here."
That did make sense with Dawn being the key and all. Keys did open doors and doors did lead to places. "Jeepers." And suddenly she was tired, but sleep could wait. She needed answers. "So the me here, she died?"
"Unfortunately, yes." He answered.
"But who defeated the Master?"
"Angel. He was so upset over your uh, her death that he made it his mission to kill him. Luckily he succeeded."
"An--and then, Kendra came, right?"
"Did--did Angel lose his soul? Did he unleash Acathla?"
"No, that was Spike and Drusilla. Drusilla revived him, and then Kendra killed her to seal his mouth before he could suck the world into hell."
"But if Faith is here then Kendra died, right?"
"Yes, at the hands of Spike. Revenge for killing Drusilla."
Okay, piecing it together now. "And then what?"
Faith took this time to chime in. "I rolled into town and did what I do best. Kick ass."
"Yes." Giles said wryly. "Angel left a few days before she arrived. And with her Watcher dead, I took over those duties and she has been here ever since."
Buffy looked to the brunette, who winked at her. "What about the Mayor? Did he turn into a giant snake at graduation?"
"Actually it was the Deputy Mayor, Allan Finch. He tried to frame me for murder and then turned into this big ass bat thing." The other female cracked her knuckles. "We doused his ass in gasoline using a fire truck water hose and boom, homeboy went up like a roman candle."
So she hadn't went evil and killed people. That would take some getting used to if she were here long. "And Adam the robot boy..."
The brunette frowned, then snapped her fingers. "Oh you mean Riley? Walsh's pet science project? Yeah we killed his ass."
Riley. Poor Riley. "Wow. This is a lot to take in. Things were--are different where I am from." Sighing, she itched at her cheek. "Are my--Willow and Xander? Are they alright?"
"Five by five." Faith drawled out. "Will's doin' the college thing and Xand's around."
Buffy smiled at that, glad they were okay. "Is Willow a witch? Or gay here?"
"As tinsel on a Christmas tree. She's datin' some chick named Tara, and Xander hooked up with an annoyin' ex demon." She stretched, her shirt riding up over her flat stomach. "Yeah she works the magics from time to time."
"Wow..." Was her reply. "What about my mom? Where is she?"
"She moved a few months after the funeral." Giles said softly. "I am not sure where."
Least she was alright. Alive.
When Buffy didn't say anymore, Giles folded his arms over his chest. "You look tired, perhaps we should talk more tomorrow. Look into ways to uh--get you home." He turned his attention to Faith. "Would it be alright if she stayed with you tonight?"
She nodded, stifling a yawn. "Aight. Let's go, Blondie. I wanna get a shower before I hit the hay."
Getting up, the blonde went with her impulse to hug Giles. He might not be the one she was used to but he would always just be Giles no matter what. "Thanks."
He returned the embrace. "You're welcome. It's good to see you again, Buffy."
Squeezing his hand, she then turned and followed Faith back out into the night air. Her mind was going a hundred miles a minute. She'd never thought that there could be another Buffy running around out there somewhere, or in this case one that hadn't faired as good as she had. Guess that meant there could be an evil Buffy or vampire Buffy or Barbie dream house Buffy. And if so, who was really the original?
"My brain hurts." She announced. "Bed has never sounded so good."
Faith cut her eyes over but didn't respond, instead drifted into her own thoughts. She'd heard stories about Buffy Summers, especially in training exercises and stuff. Chick had been bad ass for someone so young, yet still got snuffed out by the Master. Made an impact though on those around her; changed their lives or some shit. To her she'd been just a name, just an image in her head, just a grave she'd pass by sometimes.
Yet now here she was. Alive and well and pretty hot. A little whiny but things were ample in all the right places.
"So this like other dimension thing, who was I there?" Asked the younger Slayer. "If I was some perky cheerleader, lie to me."
Buffy chuckled. "No you were a Slayer. Pretty bad ass." Biting her lip, she scrunched up her face. "But you um, you kinda went bad and joined the dark side of the force. You got better though...but went to prison."
"Damn." Faith snorted. "Mama always said drinkin' Jack would get me in trouble."
"You seem to be doin' pretty nifty here though." She fiddled with the bottom of her dirty blouse. "Slayer in charge..."
"Guess so. G keeps me on the straight and narrow." The brunette said idly. "Heh or tries to anyway. I still do my own thing when the mood hits."
"And you're friends with Willow and Xander?" She inquired, trying to get a feel for things.
"More or less." The younger Slayer remarked. "We don't have sleep overs and shit but they come patrolin' with me sometimes."
"How did Willow get into the magics if Angel didn't lose his soul?"
"I dunno. I think Jenny helped her."
"Jenny? You mean Miss. Calender? Oh my God, she's alive?"
"And kickin'. She's in Romania visitin' family, otherwise she'd be shackin' up with Giles. You think fightin' demons is gross? Try walkin' in on them two doin' the ditty. I wanted to bleach my eye balls."
The blonde giggled, then stuck out her lower lip. She couldn't help but wonder if her death hadn't worked out better for those around her. Well except her mother of course. And Dawn since she didn't seem to be anywhere around. Two outta like five wasn't bad though.
The two young women entered a rather swanky looking building, and took the elevator up to the top floor. They came to the door at the end of the hallway and Faith finagled her keys out of her pocket, twisting it into the lock. She kicked the barrier open with her boot and fumbled along the wall, flicking up the light switch and flooding the room in light.
Buffy instantly remembered the apartment; it'd been the location of their final battle. Or her final battle with the other Faith. "Nice place."
Faith removed her jacket and tossed it onto a chair. "Thanks. The Mayor was so glad that I saved the day, he set me up in these classy digs. Make ya self at home." Kicking off her shoes, she waved around. "There's left over Chinese in the fridge and cable on the tv." Flashing a grin, she headed off towards the bathroom. "I'll get cha some clothes when I'm done."
Huffing, she slowly sat down and untied her sneakers, pushing them neatly under the coffee table. So she wasn't in hell which was of the good, but alter Sunnydale wasn't that much of a picnic either. Was it too much to ask to get a little death for a change? She'd been looking forward to a permanent vacation in ultimate paradise. Instead she found herself in the Twilight Zone where carbon copies of everyone she knew were skipping around.
It might be a bad idea but tomorrow, she was so going to find the Willow and Xander of this time. She needed her Scoobies, now more than ever. Besides the part of her that was curious and loved shinies really wanted to know about their lives. And she had to pass the time somehow while she was here.
Wiggling her toes on the fluffy carpet, she scratched at her neck and glanced towards where singing was coming over the running water. Faith; the dark Slayer being not so dark threw her head for a loop. Faith not trying to kill her didn't seem natural as stupid as that sounded. It was hard to bend when you were set in your ways. God, she sounded like an old lady.
Though day was young. She may still find a knife in her back yet. The point was to keep hope alive.
Snorting at her own off kilter thoughts, she padded into the kitchen and peered in the fridge, seeing the aforementioned Chinese. She plucked out the carton and smelled what was inside, then stuck it in the microwave. She leaned to the clean marble counter and arched a brow as the door swung open and a pretty girl with bouncy black curls hurried her way inside. She was dressed in a waitresses uniform, with something brown stained on her apron.
When she noticed Buffy, she blinked and looked around. "Um, hi."
"Hi." The blonde said.
Just like clockwork the brunette appeared in boi shorts and a tank top, her wet hair up in a towel. She smirked, showing off those impressive dimples. "See you two have met. Good, now we can get right down to the threesome."
"What?" Both girls said in unison.
She laughed. "Chill, geeze. Carly, this is Buffy. She's a friend of Giles. Buffy this is Carly, my bitch."
Carly pushed at her, rolling her almond shaped dark eyes. "You wish. Well any friend of Giles is a friend of mine. It's nice to meet you."
As she turned to give Faith a rather intimate kiss on the lips, Buffy suddenly felt her mouth go dry. "Ni--nice to meet you too."
"Buffy's gonna be crashin' here for a bit." The brunette explained.
She heard Carly's reply but it sounded muffed as if she were under water. So this Faith had a girlfriend. A friend who was a girl, who kissed her with tongue. That was...it was something that she didn't know what. Not that it was bad because it would never be bad. It was...different. Interesting different, like a giant ball of rubber bands or tin foil.
If Xander's ex demon was a guy she'd give up cheese for a month.
The funny part? She could cruise past the Buffy here being dead and everything being topsy turvy. What bothered her the most was something she never knew would bother her. Something that she always used to brush off or scoff at cause brushing and scoffing seemed appropriate. Now? Not so much. It shouldn't bother her but it did. What did?
Hearing Faith call her anything other than B.