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Ad Saltum Fidei

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When she'd finally caught wind of what her vampire ex was up to with Wolfram and Heart, Buffy had turned into her General Slayer-persona in two seconds flat, banded together as much of her army that was readily available and headed straight for LA.

When the army (or at least a battalion) of slayers arrived the battle had been in full swing, and many of the demon combatants had barely noticed that they were now fighting on yet another front. This, of course, made it a heck of a lot easier for the slayers to slaughter as many of the ugly fuckers as possible before they caught on. It actually took a good half hour before the more intelligent factions of the demons banded together against their new opponents, but by then it was too late. In between slaughtering their own allies, being picked of by superpowered teenage girls and, not to forget the heroic (albeit suicidedly stupid) resistance from Angels little band of guerilla-fighters, the demon hordes thinned out, and it started to look like the battle of LA was going to end with a victory for the side of good.

Against Giles rather adamant advice, both Buffy and Faith had wanted in on the action. His warning against the foolhardiness of letting both senior slayers enter the battle went pointedly ignored, by Buffy because she still hadn't quite forgiven him for the last couple of days in Sunnydale, and by Faith because she really didn't give a crap. Faith, in her mind, owed Angel her life, and that took precedence over Giles's protestations any day.

Willow, on the other hand, had opted to stay out of it, as she and Kennedy was currently holed up somewhere in South America. In her place, a resigned Giles had managed to find a young Wicca from the coven in England who had helped Willow during her Dark Period. Emmaline Gray was not as powerful as the red-headed Scooby, obviously, but she could handle herself in a fight, and most importantly, she was very proficient in telepathy. Every slayer that had traveled with Buffy and Faith to LA was psychically connected via Emmaline, to each other and to their commanders.

Faith and Buffy had separated early on, but kept tabs on each other via the psychic link. When Buffy had seen a glimpse of who she was sure was Angel in a skirmish about a hundred feet in front of her, she had quickly sent a message to Faith.

“I've got Angel, straight ahead. Working my way up to help”

“Gotcha, B. Don't let the big lug get dusted”.

Faith had continued on her own path, hacking and slashing at everything even remotely demonic around her. She was so invested in the fighting that she nearly missed a familiar flash of peroxide blonde hair duck into an alley. She frowned and changed her course slightly, intent on investigating the sight.

Couldn't be Spike, could it? Not freakin' possible. He'd burnt to ashes in the hellmouth, courtesy of Liz Taylors' rejected bling. Buffy said she had seen it herself. So who the hell was this impostor? Faith stepped in to the alley and took in the scene in front of her.

It certainly looked like Spike. His hair, his duster, his cheekbones, and the unmistakable style of fighting that no one but him could pull off. He looked tired though. Blood was dripping down his face, his jeans were torn and bloodied and as she watched, he somehow failed to notice the giant Fyral Demon coming up behind him, intent on his dusty demise.

Couldn't have that now. If it WAS Spike, B would have some choice words for him. Buffy may have thought that no-one noticed, but the red rimmed eyes she'd sported in the days after the battle of the hellmouth, and her refusal to talk about Spike ever since, smoothly changing the subject every time he was mentioned was a dead giveaway for grief, even for someone as emotionally stunted as Faith herself claimed to be. On the other hand, if it wasn't really him, then Faith wanted to know exactly what kind of clone this was, and how to kill it for impersonating the fallen hero of Sunnydale. Or whatever. She'd kinda had a soft spot for the peroxide pest herself. He'd had good taste in smokes.

She smoothly stepped up behind the Fyral, and the big ugly barely even noticed her as she cleaved him in half with the wicked sharp battle-axe she sported. Disappointing. Spike, or the Spike-clone noticed though. As the two half of the Fyral neatly fell on either side of her, he swiftly turned around and stared, sporting a rather comical look of chock on his face.

...” Faith?!”

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Spike beheaded the Grousnijk-demon in front of him, then in one move crouched low, spun around on his heels and chopped the knees of the ugly, dripping thing directly behind him. When it fell he skewered it through the neck, then quickly moved on to his next opponent. The battle had raged for over seven hours. They had lost Wesley and Gunn, but there had been no time to feel the grief.

Onslaught after onslaught of demons kept coming, and there was no sign of the hordes thinning out. Onward and upwards, slashing and hacking, and then a ten minute break behind a dumpster or in a narrow alley to catch his technically nonexistent breath.

Had it not been for the fact that the different demon fractions in the hellish army had grudges and rivalries against each other going back several milennia, and was fighting as much amogst themselves as they tried to eviscerate him he would have been dust within the first hour. Thank the bloody PTB, most of them seemed just as happy to lop the head of the demon next to them as going after him. Not that they'd forgotten him entirely. As it was he had blood dripping down his face from a cut near his hairline, he'd taken an axe to his thigh and an arrow to close to the heart for comfort. On top of that here was a million scrapes and bruises, aches and pains, but he was not ready to give in just yet. He was going down fighting, fist and fangs, and the fuckers would have to work bloody hard before they got the better of him.

Not that he had any illusions of coming out of this non-dusty.

He had lost sight of Angel a couple of hours before. The great forehead had actually managed to take down the bloody dragon before Spike lost sight of him in the wreathing masses. He was pretty sure the great brooder was around somewhere though. He had not felt the loss of his sire, and so he was pretty confident that Angel wasn't dust just yet. He'd see glimpses of Illyria from time to time, but she didn't stop her furious path of destruction for a second, just kept going and going through her enemies, possibly half mad with new human emotions she wasn't equipped to deal with. The loss of Wesley had hit her hard.

He was in need of a break, but there was enemies on all sides, and he had no choice but to keep on going. His muscles was screaming at him though, and he knew that his fatigue was making him dangerously sloppy. In fact, he was inches from getting his head ripped of by a Fyarl that he'd failed to notice coming up behind him, and it was only the keening gurgle that his would-be killer emitted as he was cleaved in half that clued him in that something was amiss.

He spun around, only to come face-to-face with his savior, of all the people in the sodding world...

...” Faith?!”

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The slayer in question had him pinned against the wall of the alley in half a second, pressing the blade of her axe against his throat. She looked him straight in the eyes with a dangerous gilint in her eyes. After about five seconds she'd apparently seen all she needed to, and she let up the axe slightly and asked him a question.

“What did I tell you the first time we met?”

It took Spike a moment to catch on, but when he did he allowed a weak smirk to show on his battered face.

“That you could ride me a gallop 'til my knees buckled, and squeeze me 'till I pop like warm champagne.” He chuckled. “Iv'e said it before, pet. Not the kind of thing a man forgets”.

Faith threw him a wicked grin and stepped back. As he gingerly felt his throat, she looked him up and down. “So it really is you, huh? Don't mind saying you look like all hell, but not as bad as I was expecting you to. Seeing as you're supposed to be so much dust in the bottom of Sunnyhell crater.” She locked eyes with him again, and affected a serious look. “So how come you're not? And how come we didn't know that you made it?”

Spike broke eye-contact and started fidgeting. He desperately wished for a smoke, but didn't have any on him. When he didn't answer straight away, Faith sighed and decided to bring in the big guns. She concentrated on contacting Buffy via the link.

“B? You there?”

“Here Faith. Angels ok. Battle's dying down 'round here. What's up?”

“Need you to come here, B. Someone you oughta see.”

“Who? Someone hurt?”

“No. Just come find me. I'll watch him 'till you get here”

“Who?” When Faith didn't answer, she could almost feel rather than hear Buffy sigh in her mind.

“Never mind. Be right there. This better be important”.

Faith broke the connection and turned back to Spike. “You won't have to explain yourself to me, but Buffy's on her way, and you'd better believe she'll have some things to say to you. She'll probably kick your resurrected ass for not telling her you were back.”

If it were possible for a vampire to turn even paler, Spike managed it. He looked worried for just a moment, before he shook his head and furrowed his brows. “I thought her highness were living the high life in Rome? Palling it up with the soddin' immortal wanker? Did she really deign to come all the way to bloody' Los Angeles?”

The grumpy look on his face nearly made Faith burst out laughing. “Dunno what stories you've heard, but we've been in Scotland almost since sunnyhell fell... I'm sure she'll tell you all about it when she gets here”. Faith smirked. “Can't wait to see the fireworks.”

As soon as the words had left her mouth, someone appeared at the mouth of the alleyway. Thinking it was Buffy, both Spike and Faith turned towards the apparition just in time to see the demonic warlock who was definitely not the blonde slayer general twirl his staff in a complex pattern.

The wall behind Faith suddenly turned into a swirling vortex of green-blue light, and the pull was too strong to resist. And as the real Buffy arrived at the scene, she was just in time to see her sister slayer disappear into the swirling, glittering portal, while she and someone who looked remarkably like the vampire she'd thought lost in the hell mouth could do nothing but watch.

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It was a testament to Buffys remarkable self control that she didn't proceed to hack the demonic warlock into itty bitty pieces when she realized what had happened. Instead, she managed to knock him unconscious before sending a message to Emmaline. She did not panic. She was calm and collected and not at all on the verge of exploding into a ball of rage. Really.

She also pointedly did not look at the apparition of Spike. Or speak to him. Or acknowledge his existence at all until he cleared his throat and laid a hand on her shoulder. She turned toward him and battered his hand away. “Later”, she growled at him. He simply nodded, and managed to look both sheepish and serious all at once.

The Wicca arrived on the scene in a matter of minutes, with a small squad of slayerettes in tow. They were met by a grim faced Buffy who did her best to explain what she had seen based on the limited information she had.

None of the girls that arrived on the scene had ever laid eyes on the blond man in the leather duster before, but beyond giving him a quick once over to see if he presented a threat, he went ignored once Buffy started talking. He was alright with that, actually. Faith had just saved his unlife. He'd rather liked the brunette firecracker of a slayer, and priority number one right now was to get her back from whatever hell-dimension the now trussed-up portal wielder had sent her too. He and Buffy could have their confrontation later. Preferably much later.

As the battle of Los Angeles died out around them, the Slayers immediately started working on saving Faith, the dark slayer, from the nightmare she'd undoubtedly landed in.

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