Giles dropped into a chair. He took off his glasses, and he rubbed the bridge of his nose. "That was Quentin Travers on the phone," he said softly to the Scoobies. "There wasn't a Slayer called when Faith jumped to close Glory's portal."
"What does that mean?" Jesse asked. He missed his girlfriend of five years. He had planned on asking the dark-haired Slayer to marry him when the apocalypse was over, but she had died saving the world. He knew that the only person who missed Faith more than him was her little sister Hope.
"Travers believes that a previously unknown potential was called at Faith's first death at the hands of the Master." Giles glanced at the Slayer's friends.
There was Jesse, the faithful boyfriend. Angel was the vampire stalker that none of them liked. Then you had Willow and Tara, the Wicca lover, and Oz, the lone werewolf who used to date Willow. Lastly there was him, the Watcher. The only remaining member of Faith's family was Hope, her little sister a.k.a. The Key.
"When they find her are they gonna to send her here?" Willow asked. She really missed Faith. It had taken them almost two years to become the best of friends. It hadn't helped that the Slayer had been standoffish, and Willow had been abnormally shy.
"Most likely. Sunnydale has the most active Hellmouth in the world," Giles answered.
"And we're just supposed to welcome her with open arms?" Hope grumbled.
"I'm sure after four years that she is confused about her powers," Angel said. "It's our duty to help her adjust." Faith had never given him a chance. He was sure this new Slayer would be grateful for his guidance.
The group of friends started to prepare for the arrival of the newest Slayer. Angel made sure the practice room was clean and the weapons polished. Willow and Tara found a nice little apartment for the Slayer. Oz spread the word that a Slayer was coming to Sunnydale. Jesse and Hope continued to mourn for Faith. Giles conferred with Lydia Chalmers, the watcher sent to take on the new Slayer. The Council felt that the new Slayer would now be drawn to the Hellmouth to take on her duties.
One night after the young adults left the Bronze after a night of dancing, Oz's attention was distracted by a fight in an alley. As they stood there watching a petite blond dervish demolish a gang of fledglings, it dawned on them that the new Slayer was in Sunnydale.
"So, you all gonna stand around like a bunch of lumps on a log, or are you gonna help?" the young woman called out.
Oz and Jesse were about to leap forward to help when a voice sounded from the other end of the alley.
"Thought you had it pretty well under control, pet." A bleached blond man stepped into the light. He was dressed all in black except for a relief of red peeking out from under his long black duster. He carried a crossbow over his left shoulder.
"Spike's quite right, Buffy." A taller, leaner man dressed in a long sleeved button shirt with its sleeves rolled up to his elbows and slacks stood next to the bleached blond. He also carried a crossbow. "You're doing splendid. I've taught you well," he added with a hint of sarcasm.
"Assholes," Buffy muttered. She staked the last two vampires at the same time. "Why do I put up with you?"
"You love us," Spike replied. He stalked over to Buffy, used his free arm to pull her close, and he covered her lips with his own.
"Must you do that in public?" the tall man asked.
Buffy pulled away from Spike. "Hush, Wesley. You're a Watcher. So, watch!" She giggled when Wesley rolled his eyes.
"Kinky, Slayer," Spike purred, "But it appears Oxford's not our only audience."
"Um, hi." Willow waved. "You must be the new Slayer. I mean, of course you are. Otherwise your guy wouldn't have called you that. We didn't know you had a Watcher. The Council didn't even know you existed until ... well... um... Faith died again."
"Breathe, Will," Tara said softly.
"Oh, right, that's always good advice." Willow took a few deep breaths.
A growl echoed off the high building walls. The Scoobies turned to see Angel in full game face enter the alley behind them. He stalked towards them in a menacing way. "Get away from them, Spike."
"Well, hello, Gramps," Spike shouted the greeting out in a mock jovial way. "Long time, no see."
"What are you doing here?" Angel snarled.
"Lawson, old man, come out and say hello to your Father," Spike called out over his shoulder.
"Howdy, chief." Another dark-haired man stepped out of the shadow. He was young, handsome, and wore a pea coat over dark clothing.
Buffy's eyes opened wide. "So, this is Angelus? He doesn't look like much."
"He's got a soul," Hope piped up. "He's been good for over a hundred years."
"Oh hear that, Lawson," Spike chortled. "He was 'good' when he turned you."
The Scoobies stepped back in surprise. They suddenly looked at the newcomers with new eyes. Just how many of them were vamps. Maybe all of them were.
Buffy rolled her eyes. "Spike and Lawson are vamps. Wes and I are all with the living. Now can anyone recommend a cheap hotel?"
"W-we got you an apartment." Tara smiled shyly. "I don't think it's big enough for four."
Jesse suddenly blurted out, "You have a Watcher? Giles said they didn't seem to know anything about you."
"Well, sorta." Buffy smiled at Wesley. "Wes was supposed to be a Watcher, but he quit. Now he hangs out with us. Now about that apartment, it'll probably be okay for my mom. She usually doesn't live with the rest of us, and I prefer she stays someplace that doesn't have a vampy invite."
"Your mom's here?"
"She'll be arriving tomorrow with the rest of the crew." Buffy stared at the gaping faces of the Sunnydale crew. She was too tired to deal with all their questions at the moment. "The hotel? I'm pooped."
"The Sunnydale Motor Inn is cheap and clean," Oz said.
"Sounds good." Buffy nodded. "Wes and Sam will get us rooms. Can one of you give us a tour? Show us the Hellmouth?"
"I will," Oz offered. He turned to the other Scoobies. "I'll give them directions to the hotel. See ya later." He went over to join Buffy and her gang.
"Thanks, Oz." Willow smiled at the young man. She still felt a tinge of guilt for dumping him for Tara. It was her fault she fell in love with someone else.
Oz gave the ex-Watcher and the dark-haired vampire the directions they needed before he took the blonds on a whirlwind tour of the Hellmouth. He started with the actual Hellmouth.
"It looks like a burned out school," Buffy observed. "Been there, done that."
"The Hellmouth's under the library." Oz shrugged. "The school was blown up at Graduation."
"That's going out with a bang," Buffy giggled. "Well, it seems pretty quiet now. Any other hot spots?"
"The Bronze and Willy's, the demon bar," Oz replied.
"Where do you lot have your little soiree's?" Spike asked.
"Giles owns the Magic Box down on Main Street. We usually meet there."
"Cool. Guess we'll see you tomorrow." Buffy put out her hand. "It was great to meet you, Oz." The Slayer and the werewolf shook hands.
Oz watched the two blonds melt into the darkness. They intrigued him more than he could say. The last year, since he and Willow had broken up, he felt like he didn't belong with the old gang anymore. Nothing that they had done, of course. It was all him. Sometimes he felt like he had to fight for control or hide who he was. He didn't like that. Oz strolled back towards his van.
"What do you mean, she has a Watcher?" Lydia bellowed. "The Council didn't even know of her existence till recently."
"His name is Wes, and she says he quit, if that's any help," Jesse replied.
"Wes?" Lydia's eyebrows scrunched together. "Is he tall, kinda geeky, and wears glasses?"
"Why, yes! I am!" Wesley chirped with a laugh.
The Sunnydale crew turned to see that the newest members of their town had walked into the Magic Box undetected. They recognized Buffy, Spike, Wes, and Lawson, but none of the others. Although one older lady looked enough like Buffy for them to guess that she was the Slayer's mother.
"Come in," Giles said as diplomatically as he could. "I'm Rupert Giles, Faith's Watcher. This is Lydia Chalmers, your Watcher."
"I have a Watcher," Buffy replied.
"You will have to stop consorting with vampires, Miss Summers," Lydia said in a pompous voice. She'd been informed about the Sunnydale team's run in with the new Slayer and her vampires the night before. No Slayer of hers was going to be hanging around vampires.
"I will do no such thing." Buffy lifted one eyebrow, and the Scoobies could see the Slayer peeking through.
Spike leaned down to whisper in Buffy's ear. "Maybe we should tell her which vampire you are mated to." He leaned back again with a smirk on his face. No one was taking Buffy away from him. Neither of them would allow that to happen. If this group didn't like it, they would head back to L.A. where they came from.
"Do you have any idea who he is?" Angel snarled as he walked out of the workout room. He'd spent the better part of the day grumbling and brooding over the presence of his childer.
"Of course I know who he is. He's William the Bloody, duh." Buffy wondered if Angelus was an idiot. "Slayer of Slayers, actually, and a damned fine kisser."
"Of course I know who he is. He's William the Bloody, duh." Buffy wondered if Angelus was an idiot. "Slayer of Slayers, actually, and a damned fine kisser."
"Do you kiss him often?" Lydia screeched. This wasn't going the way she had envisioned in her mind. They had expected a pretty scared Slayer to arrive in Sunnydale, afraid of all the unknown things that had happened to her over the last few years.
"As much as possible," Buffy answered cheekily.
"Why don't you introduce your friends?" Willow asked in a desperate tone. She groped for anything to divert everyone's attention away from the smoochie conversation going on.
"Sure thing," Buffy chirped. "You met Spike, Lawson, and Wesley last night." She indicated the men in the group. Then, she pointed to the women. "This is my mother Joyce, and the other woman is Dot Hill."
Oz stared at the pretty young woman that had just been introduced. His wolf clamored in recognition. Dot was a werewolf just like him. Oz took in the long black hair, the crystal clear blue eyes, and the petite figure. The male werewolf fell instantly in lust.
Willow felt a flash of jealousy when she saw the look of interest on Oz's face for the newcomer. She glanced at her girlfriend, and she hoped that Tara hadn't noticed the jolt of emotion she had so readily felt for her ex-boyfriend. Willow looked back at the other group of Slayer helpers. She had a sudden flash of irritation when she realized that these people were going to mess up their lives.
"Is Drusilla lurking around somewhere?" Angel sneered. He knew that Spike rarely strayed from the dark vampiress' side. He was tired of being the odd man out. He wanted to break up whatever there was between Spike and the other Slayer in a hurry.
"If you were any kind of Sire, Peaches," Spike snarled, "You'd know that Dru was dust almost a decade ago. She died in Prague of garlic poisoning."
Buffy laid a sympathetic hand on Spike's arm. She knew all about her mate's past, and how much he missed his Sire. She wasn't jealous though, because she was confident in Spike's love in her.
"Let's get down to business," Wesley commented. The get together was not going well, and he wanted to get away from this group as soon as possible. The reactions they'd already received warned him that relations with the old Slayer's group were not going to be good.
"My business is only with the Slayer," Angel said.
"As is mine," Lydia agreed. "I am your Watcher, Miss Summers, and I demand that you do as I tell you." She'd always been taught to be authoritative with Slayers. Slayers were supposed to take all orders from their Watchers as absolute. She needed to get control of the current situation and soon.
Spike chuckled. "You'll find that Buffy rarely does what she is told."
"She's always been that way," Joyce piped up. "Even before she was a Slayer."
After Lydia's little order, Buffy decided she'd wasted enough time with the old group. She turned to Spike, and she said, "You and Lawson go find the most powerful demon in Sunnydale. Kill it if it's evil. Negotiate with it if it's neutral or not entirely evil. Spread the word that there is a new Slayer in town. You know the routine."
"You can't do that," Lydia spluttered. "That's not how a Slayer works. Demons are to be killed, not spared."
"Why not?" Buffy turned to look at the older woman. "It's quite effective. We've used it before."
"We didn't do things that way before in Sunnydale," Giles commented diplomatically. "That's not to say that it's not a perfectly good way to operate." He quickly backpedaled when the new group gave him a stony glare.
"Thank you, Mr. Giles." Buffy smiled at the older Englishman. She hoped that the old Slayer's Watcher would be willing to help them. He would know more about the Hellmouth and be able to keep them from running into as much trouble. "Wesley and I will check out the hot spots that Oz showed us last night."
"I saw an art gallery with a 'For Sale' sign in the window a couple of streets over," Joyce said. "Dot can come with me to check it out."
"I'd be happy to go with you," Oz said. He smiled shyly at Dot. "Since you are new to town and all, I wouldn't want you to run into problems."
"Excellent," Joyce replied. She had seen how the young man had looked at her young charge. She kissed her daughter on the cheek. "I'll see you later, sweetie."
"Bye, Mom." Buffy smiled at her mother.
"I'll expect you and William over for breakfast," Joyce called over her shoulder as she herded the werewolves out the door.
"I'll meet up with you later, Slayer." Spike kissed Buffy on the lips. He motioned for Lawson to follow him, and together the two male vamps left the Magic Box.
"Come on, Wes. Let's go patrol. It was good meeting you all." Buffy nodded to the Scoobies. "We've got everything covered. You all can go back to a normal routine now. I'm sure you can use the break. Bye." The blond Slayer and her self-appointed Watcher left the store.
"She's not what we were expecting, was she?" Jesse said. He had been watching the whole proceedings in silence. He glanced over at Hope. "She's different than Faith."
"I don't like her," Angel growled.
"That's just because she isn't gonna fall for your shit any more than Faith did." Jesse gave the broody vampire a cool stare. "That's always good in my book."
"She dismissed us like we were normal everyday people," Willow said with a tinge of a whine in her voice.
"Maybe she was just being nice," Tara spoke softly. "She has her own group, and she took the burden off our shoulders for us."
"I need to call Mr. Travers about this." Lydia went to her purse, pulled out a cell phone, and disappeared into the back room.
"I think we should do as Buffy says." Hope looked at the others. "Maybe it's time for us to be normal for a change."
"I agree with Hope." Jesse nodded. "We can take time to grieve for our loss without worrying about keeping up with patrols." He rose to his feet. "Let's go home, Hope."
Jesse Young, Faith's longtime boyfriend, and Hope Lehane, Faith's little sister left the Magic Box together. They walked through Sunnydale hand in hand. Jesse looked down at his late girlfriend's sister with new eyes.
Hope was only eighteen months younger than Faith, making her just over eighteen. She had the same black hair as her sister, but her skin was lighter toned though, and her eyes were gold instead of brown. Where Faith was a sexy tomboy wearing tight pants and showing off skin, Hope wore soft, pretty clothes. Hope even acted more feminine than her sister.
"I'm glad you're here, Hope." Jesse bent down to brush his lips against the young woman's.
"I won't be a substitute for Faith." Hope pulled away from Jesse.
"You're not, sweetie." Jesse smiled sadly. "I love you for you. I love you because you're Hope."
Hope smiled a bright, sad smile. "Okay, then. Let's go home."
Passion flared between Jesse and Hope on the way home. They both missed Faith, and they both needed to be reassured that they would survive this tragedy. Little did they know something was brewing that would change everything.
Meanwhile back at Giles' place of business the rest of Faith's Scoobies were still chatting about the newest developments.
"I miss Faith," Willow said. "It took a long time, but she's my best friend."
Tara nodded in agreement, but she was then surprised by the red-headed witch's next vehement statement.
"Did you see how Oz was looking at that little slut?" Willow snarled. "If Faith was here he would have never strayed from us."
"Willow, what are you saying?" Tara's eyes filled with tears. She had always felt bad that she had been the cause for Willow's break up with Oz, but she had hoped that someday they could all move on from the incident. Maybe Willow wasn't as over the werewolf as she let on.
"I'm saying that I wish Faith would come back from the dead," the red-head snarled again. "Things were so much better before she died."
The Scoobies hadn't noticed the pretty dark-haired woman casually looking at merchandise until she turned around and spoke.
"Wish granted." Her pretty face turned ugly and veiny.
"My God, Willow! What have you done?" Giles exclaimed.
Miles apart, Spike and Buffy stopped. As one they appeared to scent the air.
Their companions looked at each one with curiosity. "What?" Lawson and Wesley asked at the same time.
"I sensed something happenin'," Spike told Lawson. "Someone foolin' with the universe."
"Spike felt something funky happen," Buffy said to Wesley.
"Any ideas what it was?" Wesley inquired.
Buffy shook her head. "No. So, we'll have to nose around a bit."
"Of course." Wesley nodded. He looked up at the sign above the bar door. "Willy's Alibi Room."
"It's a demon bar according to Oz," Buffy said as she opened the door. She entered the building as if she owned the place. She strode over to the bar which she hopped up on. "May I have your attention please!"
"Get off my bar," Willy spluttered.
"When I'm done." Buffy turned to the crowd of demons. "I'm the new Slayer, and I own this Hellmouth from here on out."
"You and what army?" An ugly demon in the back asked in a loud voice.
"My own army!" Buffy put her fists on her waist. "To cross me is to cross William the Bloody, my mate."
"What's one little Slayer and one traitorous vampire against the legions of hell?" the ugly demon in the back shouted out again.
"Ones under the protection of The Immortal Being."
"The Immortal?" The crowd of demons whispered amongst themselves. Everyone in the demonic world had heard of The Immortal.
"The Hellmouth is mine!" Buffy restated her ownership.
"Ours!" Spike and Lawson entered the bar.
Buffy smiled happily at her mate. "Yes, ours."
At Restfield cemetery, under a gravestone marked 'Faith Lehane' a Slayer awakened in the dark tight confines of her coffin.
Oz and Dot strolled around the art gallery looking at the exhibits while Joyce negotiated her purchase with the owner.
"Does Mrs. Summers buy a lot of art?" Oz asked.
Dot laughed softly. "She's buying the whole gallery, not just the art. One of the wealthy demons that Buffy was a bodyguard for in the past was quite enamored with Joyce. He bought her her first gallery she owned as a present."
"How many does she have?" Oz stared in awe at the pretty young woman by his side.
"Hmm let's see." Dot counted on her fingers. "The first one was in Rome. Then she bought one in London, Hong Kong, Rio and now Sunnydale. That makes five now."
"Sunnydale's a step down from those other places," Oz observed. "Maybe even at the bottom of the heap." He wondered why the Slayer's group would leave such exotic or worldly cities to come to Sunnydale.
"Not so," Joyce said as she joined the young couple. "Those four galleries are managed by some very loyal friends." She waved her hand towards the wall. "Here, I can do the managing myself."
"We should try to find some local artists, both human and demonic to show." Dot nibbled her lip. "Have a double gallery, so to speak."
"Excellent idea, Dot." Joyce patted the young woman on the shoulder. "You've always had pretty good business instincts."
Oz glanced around for any eavesdroppers before he asked Dot, "Full moon's in a week. You wanna spend it together?"
Joyce suddenly found one of the pictures very interesting. She had learned with Buffy not to interfere with anyone else's love life.
Dot grinned brightly. "That'd be awesome, Oz. I wasn't quite sure where I'd be going once we moved here. I'm glad I won't be alone. Thanks."
Oz smiled shyly in return.
"Now that that's settled, let's find an all night diner. Negotiating makes me hungry." Joyce grinned at the werewolves.
"My God, Willow! What have you done?" Giles exclaimed.
The demoness disappeared in the blink of an eye. All Tara, Giles, Willow, and Angel could do was stare at the empty spot in horror.
"I'm going to check out Faith's grave," Angel replied to the stunned humans. He hurried out of the back of the Magic Box.
"That wasn't my fault, Giles," Willow protested. How on earth should she know there was a vengeance demon in the Magic Box?
"You know better than to say such things on the Hellmouth!" Giles crossed the room to his book collection. "Was there anything else you failed to tell me about you association with D'Hoffryn?"
"What association, Giles?" Willow's anger flared. "One little spell gone wrong was all that was!"
"Obviously there was more to it." Giles flipped open a book. "Otherwise, why would a vengeance demon grant your wish? You aren't exactly a scorned anything right now."
"There wasn't anything else!" Willow grumbled. "He took me to his dimension, made his offer, and I refused. He gave me that pendant to call him if I ever changed my mind, which you deemed perfectly safe, Giles. Then, I came back here and ended the spell."
"Should we follow Angel?" Tara asked.
Giles shook his head. "If Willow's wish truly came true than Faith will not be able to handle too much stimuli."
Tara nodded in understanding, while Willow started to protest.
"But we're Faith's friends. Angel's just a vamp hoping to boink a Slayer. Didn't you see how he was looking at Buffy?"
"Be that as it may, he is probably the only one of us that can go out alone at night," Giles replied. "As humans we're way too vulnerable."
"I'm a very powerful witch, Giles." Willow glared at the Watcher. "I think I can handle it. In fact, I think I'll go after Angel." She grabbed her coat, and she bolted out the door.
"This is all bad," Tara whispered. "All bad. Maybe we should try to get in touch with the new Slayer."
Giles found himself in complete agreement with the young Wicca.
D'Hoffryn smiled toothily as his vengeance demon reported that she had fulfilled a wish for Willow Rosenberg. Azriel was the demon who did all of D'Hoffryn personal business, an assistant of sorts.
"Soon she shall be mine," the master vengeance demon chuckled. "Silly little witch has already forgotten the drink I offered her and she accepted."
"You've very clever, Master," Azriel said.
"Yes, I am. Only two more wishes and she'll be ours." D'Hoffryn reached out to cup Azriel's face. "I want you and Anyanka to keep a closer eye on our newest recruit. I want any wish of hers granted as quickly as possible. The sooner they are granted, the sooner we can claim her as one of our own."
A popping sound announced Anyanka's arrival. "You said my name, oh great and mighty D'Hoffryn."
"Cut the clap trap, Anyanka," D'Hoffryn sighed. "I need you to go in undercover in Sunnydale to help Azriel with the witch."
"Oh, she finally made her first wish?" Anyanka glanced at Azriel for confirmation.
Azriel nodded. "It was a doozy. She wanted her Slayer friend to come back from the dead."
Anyanka looked impressed.
"Of course, she didn't wish for the Slayer to be unburied. Poor thing could be dead again by now." Azriel preened under Anyanka and D'Hoffryn's attention.
"You didn't?" Anyanka gasped. "You naughty girl, you."
Azriel giggled wildly. She delighted in the fact that literal translation of a wish was allowed for vengeance demons. Nothing came without a price.
Angel trotted all the way to the cemetery where Faith was buried. His thoughts swirled around in his head. Maybe he would have a second chance with the dark-haired Slayer. After all, even a girl like Faith had to appreciate a knight in shining armor coming to rescue her from uncertain peril.
Angel arrived at Faith's burial spot just as a dirty, bloody hand punched up through the surface. He grabbed it, and he helped Faith's journey out of her grave.
Faith blinked in confusion. She wasn't sure where she was now, but she pretty sure it wasn't heaven. No, it felt like Hell. Heaven didn't hurt like this. Faith stared at her rescuer while she searched her brain for a name.
"Faith?" Angel whispered.
"What are you doing in Hell, Angel?" Faith's voice was raspy with disuse.
"You're not in Hell. Although it might feel like it." Angel inched towards the young woman. "You're back in Sunnydale."
"Your friend made a wish." Angel shook his head. "Willow really should know better." Even as he said it, he didn't believe it. He was thrilled that Faith was alive again.
"How long was I dead?" Faith's voice sounded better.
"About a month and a half." Angel put his arm around the Slayer. When she didn't get after him for being so forward, he gave a mental shout of joy. Maybe the resurrected Slayer would finally realize that he was the one that she belonged with.
"So, there's a new Slayer," Faith said firmly. She glanced around to see if anyone else was with Angel. "Hope? Jesse? Are they okay?"
"Everyone's fine." Angel guided Faith towards the back gate of the cemetery. He didn't want to run into any of the Scoobies if they had decided to follow him. "There's a new to us Slayer."
Faith gave the vampire a puzzled look.
"Apparently, she was called when you died at the hands of the Master, but no one knew about it." Angel got Faith out on the street and moving towards his secret mansion just as Willow entered the cemetery from the other side.
Willow muttered under her breath as she walked, "I wish everybody would chill out about Faith. God, it's not like I did it on purpose." In her conflicted state of mind, she didn't even notice that she made yet another wish.
The red-haired witch made her way to the grave site. When she saw that the ground was disturbed, she muttered, "Oh boy, this is bad. Where the heck is Angel?"
Willow glanced around as she tried to catch a glimpse of the vampire or Faith. She snapped her fingers. "I'll check out Jesse's. She wouldn't go anywhere else first. If she's not there, I'll check out Angel's apartment." Willow tried to reassure herself that Faith would do what Willow expected.
Willow set off towards Jesse's apartment, never realizing that Angel was leading Faith away to a secret lair.
Willy put drinks in front of the newest 'masters of Sunnydale'. The three males took whiskey and the Slayer drank a Diet Coke. The group easily dispatched anyone who disrupted their claim over Sunnydale. Now they were discussing where to live.
"We should contact a real estate agent tomorrow, Buffy," Wesley said. "We should find us a larger house in a central location."
"Sounds good." Buffy sipped on her drink. "One with a full and finished basement."
"Convenient sewer access," Spike interjected. "Get your IT-girl to pull up some blueprints of this little burg, Oxford."
"I have a feeling Dot's going to move in with a certain wolfboy in the near future," Lawson observed. He was able to watch the other Slayer's group in ways that Spike and Buffy as leaders were not. "Maybe he and Dot will move in with us instead. The red-haired witch won't be too happy."
"She's with the other witch though, isn't she?" Buffy asked. She was a little upset that she hadn't caught the possible threat against her 'sister'.
"Mm, doesn't mean she doesn't see the wolf as her personal property," Spike replied. He had noticed that the dynamics of the other group were shaky at best. "Even when someone tosses someone to the side for someone new, they don't exactly let go of the old. I learned that along time ago from Peaches."
"We'll warn Dot!" Buffy resolved firmly, "We have to keep an eye on Willow too."
Lydia wandered back into the main part of the magic shop where Giles and Tara were quietly talking. She hitched a thumb towards the back of the store. "Where was the vampire off to in such a hurry?"
"We had a small incident while you were on the phone," Giles sighed. "Willow made a wish."
"A wish? How does that work?" Lydia looked from Giles to Tara and back.
"There are vengeance demons who are all controlled by a Master. His name is D'Hoffryn." Giles adjusted his glasses. "Several years ago Willow had a little run in with said Master after a spell she performed went awry. Then, tonight while she had a bit of a tantrum over Oz's interest in the young lady in the new Slayer's group, she made a wish."
"What was the wish?" Lydia had a sudden feeling of unease. Travers' eager reaction to the new Slayer's independence was a little disconcerting, but this was a whole new level of tense feelings.
"Willow wished for Faith to come back from the dead. Those were her words exactly," Tara said softly. She had a bad feeling about the whole situation. Having her wishes granted could be very bad for Willow, and on top of that the rampant feelings of jealousy the redhead was feeling didn't bode well for their relationship. It would have made her feel better if she had known that both Watchers shared her unease about the wish.
"The vampire went to check on the grave, I assume." Lydia waited for conformation from the two Sunnydalians. "Well, you know him best, but I'm worried about the vampire's interest in Faith. Before the curse, Angelus tended to be quite obsessive. I did my thesis on the Scourge of Europe, you know. I wonder if Spike would consent to an interview." She hoped her initial reaction to Spike's presence hadn't upset the master vampire.
"I don't think Angel will hurt Faith," Tara said. She looked at Giles for reassurance.
"No, but if she's confused, he could influence her to do things she normally wouldn't." Giles realized what the other Watcher was trying to say about Angel.
"Oh." Tara's eyes opened wide. She had always liked the straight shooting Slayer. Faith had very easily accepted her into their group, despite Willow's dumping of Oz to date Tara. "I hope Willow finds them then."
"Travers wants us to study Miss Summers' group and compare them with Ms. Lehane's group," Lydia blurted out. "He hopes to revolutionize the Slayers."
"Really?" Giles' eyebrows rose in astonishment. "When he was here in the spring, he seemed to only have contempt for the way Faith did things."
"He didn't go into specifics, but he will send along a report on what exactly he wants." Lydia shrugged. "Isn't it odd though that two Slayers in a row ended up with a group of civilians willing to fight evil?"
"How does that explain the non-civilians? Werewolves and Vampires?" Giles adjusted his glasses. "Did you notice that both groups have a Watcher that has practiced magic, at least one vampire, and if I have guessed correctly, I'd say Oz's new love interest is also a werewolf?"
"Really?" Tara gave the male Watcher an astonished look.
Giles gave the Wicca nod.
"Wow." Tara sat back in her chair. "No wonder Willow was so freaked. Well, I for one think Oz deserves some happiness." The young woman recalled the stories about the last female werewolf that had been in Sunnydale. It had been just before she had met Willow, but the Scoobies still talked about it.
"I agree. Oz is a wonderful young man who deserves to have some companionship, as we all do." Giles gave Tara a smile before he turned back to Lydia. "Guess you're staying then?"
Oz, Dot, and Joyce enjoyed a late night snack at an all night diner on Madison Street ran by some local, peaceable demon. Joyce and Oz talked about the best place to pick up some extra cars for everybody. Afterwards, the two werewolves escorted Joyce back to the apartment in Giles' building.
Oz and Dot found themselves standing outside the hotel where Dot was staying with her friends. Neither one wanted to say good-bye to the other. They had just spent the blocks walking from Joyce's apartment talking about anything and everything, including how they became werewolves in the first place.
"I was bitten by my cousin when I was seventeen," Oz said. "He was just a little baby."
"I was born a werewolf." Dot gave a sad smile.
"I didn't think that was possible," Oz replied. "All of my research showed that it isn't a genetic change, per se. Giles could explain it all."
"Oh, it's not, but you know that book Firestarter by Stephen King where the college students got paid to participate in some kind of random drug study?" Dot glanced at Oz. "Well, the same thing happened to my mom, only they paid all of her tuition and her back debts to experiment on her unborn child which was me."
"That's horrible," Oz whispered.
Dot shrugged. "She was from a poor family, had a one night stand with the campus playboy, and found herself pregnant. It wasn't until after I was born that she formed any attachment to me."
"Where is your mother now?" Oz felt a lot of malice towards Dot's biological mother in that moment.
"We were prisoners of this army group for about five years." Dot's eyes darkened as she thought about the things she had seen as a child. "Then, we were able to escape." The young woman sat down on the curb. "We were on the run for another five years before the Initiative caught up with us."
"The Initiative?" Oz gasped as he dropped to the curb too. He remembered when the same army group had been in Sunnydale. "They were here, but we were given the impression that they were fairly new."
Dot shook her head. "No, they were formed in the forties. After I met Spike and Lawson, I learned the initial experiments were German in nature. The Nazis to be exact." She sighed. "My mother died so I could escape. We were in Rome at the time, and I was rescued by the Immortal. I was seventeen when I met Spike and Buffy."
"That must be quite a story." Oz was quite curious about everyone's story to be truthful.
"It is, but..." Dot yawned. "I'm pooped. Come by tomorrow evening?"
"I've got band practice." Oz rose to his feet. He put a hand out to help Dot up. "You could come along if you like."
"Really? I adore musicians." Dot accepted Oz's hand, and she let him pull her to her feet. "What do you play?"
"Cool." Dot leaned in to kiss Oz on the cheek. "I'll see you tomorrow." With a quick wave she hurried off towards her hotel room.
"She's awesome," the male werewolf whispered to himself. His hand brushed his cheek where Dot had kissed him. She appeased him in a way that Veruca hadn't. Veruca tried to stir up his wolf side into a revolt. Dot seemed to complete his wolf's wants, and his wolf seemed patient enough to wait this time to see what happened.
"Willow's made a second wish already," Azriel cried. She popped out of D'Hoffryn's chambers for a moment. When she returned she laughed till she cried. "She didn't even realize she made the wish."
Anyanka clapped her hands. "What was the wish?"
"She wished that everyone would quit making such a big deal out of her first wish." Azriel grinned. "One more, Master."
D'Hoffryn smiled with evil benevolence. "Time for you to take your place, Anyanka."
"Yes, Master." Anyanka bowed to the head vengeance demon. "I am yours to command."
Anyanka popped out of D'Hoffryn's chambers and onto a Sunnydale street. She was stylish dressed with a resume in her hand. Anyanka hummed a merry tune as she started off towards the Magic Box. She entered the store in question where she marched up to Giles and stated, "My name is Anya Jenkins, and you need me."
"I-I do?" Giles stammered. He glanced at Tara and Lydia.
"Yes, you do!" Anya gestured at the shelves. "If you want to look successful you need a good employee that not only knows your stock, but will give you good orgasms."
"What?" Giles stared at the pretty, but exceedingly blunt young woman in astonishment. It had been a while since he'd been intimate with anyone, but he never expected a woman to come right out and say she'd have sex with him.
"As you can see I have extensive knowledge of the supernatural." Anya handed the resume to Giles. She went around to the shelves, and she rearranged some of the merchandise more safely. "Yes, you really do need me, Mr. Giles. I will start first thing in the morning."
"Um, huh?" Giles watched as the energetic whirlwind swept out of the shop. The Englishman turned to Tara and Lydia. "What just happened?
Willow pounded on Jesse's apartment door. It took several minutes before the sleepy disheveled young man answered the door.
"Is Faith here?" Willow blurted out.
Jesse gave Willow an odd look. "What the hell is wrong with you?" he hissed. He looked over his shoulder before he stepped out of the apartment. "Are you mental or something?"
"I may have made a teeny, weenie wish tonight." Willow blushed under Jesse's scrutiny. "A vengeance demon granted it, and Giles wigged."
"What was the wish?" Jesse grabbed Willow's arms, and he leaned into her face. If she had anything to do with the kiss he had shared with Hope, she would be very sorry. "How have you fucked up our lives this time?"
Willow cringed in fear. Jesse didn't look anything like her childhood friend now. "I-I just wished that Faith would come back from the dead is all. You should be ecstatic because I think it worked. Her gave was disturbed like someone crawled out of it."
"How could you do that to her?" Jesse pushed the redhead away from him. "To us? Do you even know what crawled out? She could be a vamp, a zombie, or something worse now!"
Willow gasped in horror. "Angel went to check on her, and he's gone too. What have I done?" She covered her mouth with her hands.
"You never think about the consequences of your actions, Willow." Jesse gave his longtime friend a cold look.
"Well, it isn't like she was in Heaven," Willow protested.
"You don't know that! You need to quit doing stupid, irresponsible things!" Jesse stepped back into the apartment, and he shut the door in Willow's face. The young man leaned his forehead against the wood. He sobbed for the first time since Faith had died.
"So, Faith's back," Hope said quietly from the hallway. "Well, ain't life grand in that Hellmouth-y kinda way."
"You're awake," Jesse said unnecessarily.
"I heard the knocking." Hope licked her lips in nervousness. She had something to tell Jesse, but she wasn't sure how he'd react. "I received an offer to attend Oxford. I'm going to accept it."
"What?" Jesse turned to stare at Hope. "No, don't do that, Hope. Faith will need you. I'll need you. I can't do this alone."
"What you don't need is me getting in the way." Hope shook her head. "I won't be like Willow and come between you and Faith like she tried to do with Xander and Cordelia."
"That's not why they left," Jesse protested. "Cordy wanted to become an actress."
"Oh, wake up and smell the ultimatum!" Hope scoffed. "Willow's exactly why they left. She finally decided to go after Xander even though they were dating other people. If only she had done that before Xander was dating Cordelia, maybe things would be different."
"How do you know this stuff?" Jesse shouted. He didn't want to believe what Hope was saying. "You didn't even exist then."
Hope bit her lip to stem the words that threatened to spill forth. She took a deep breath, centered herself, and replied, "I'll make my arrangements in the morning. I love you, Jesse. I really do, but Faith needs you. Good night." She turned towards her bedroom.
Jesse watched Hope walk down the hall. His emotions were conflicted. He loved Faith, and before her death he had planned on asking her to marry him. He had barely started to come to terms with her death. Now he was faced with this mess. Jesse knew he loved Hope just as equally as he did Faith. He wondered if he had always loved them both that way.
"What am I going to do?" Jesse muttered. He went to his bedroom. He needed to change his clothes to go look for Faith. "Things are so fucked up!" he grumbled.
Spike and Buffy showed up at Joyce's place a couple of hours before sunrise for an early breakfast. There was plenty to talk about for the three core members of the Summers' team. Joyce fixed bacon, eggs, pancakes with syrup, coffee, and blood for Spike. They were about to sit down when there was a quiet knock at the door.
Joyce answered the door. She found Tara standing on the other side. The young woman shifted nervously under the older woman's gaze.
"I'm not interrupting, am I?" Tara asked softly. "I know it's really early, but I wanted to talk to Buffy."
"Of course not." Joyce smiled. "We were just about to have breakfast. You're welcome to join us." She stepped aside to welcome the younger woman inside.
"Oh ... um ... that'd be nice." Tara stepped inside the apartment. She smiled at Spike and Buffy. "I was hoping to catch you guys."
"Everybody dish up," Joyce announced as she closed the door. "Then, we'll talk."
They filled their plates with food. Tara was surprised at the amount of food on Spike's plate. She had always thought that vampires didn't eat food after they were turned. Angel certainly never ate human food. She wondered what else was different about the two vampires.
"So, Glinda, what did you want to talk to us about?" Spike asked. He took a bite of pancake.
Buffy and Joyce looked at each other. Spike gave the shy Wicca a nice enough nickname. They both knew that meant he liked the young woman. Usually he was a pretty good judge of character and anyone that would be a danger to them. They went back to their food.
"Well, uh, last night, after you all left, Willow made a little wish for Faith to come back from the dead," Tara whispered. She wasn't sure how the new Slayer was going to take the news. Buffy was an unknown entity. She had only come to Sunnydale because Faith was dead.
Buffy dropped her fork. "Well, I guess that explains what we felt last night or rather what Spike felt. I was just along for the ride."
"Was the wish successful?" Joyce asked in a concerned voice.
"Willow showed up at our place a few hours ago. She said that the gravesite was disturbed." Tara sighed. "Angel went to check on the spot before Willow did. He's disappeared."
"He was obsessed with her, wasn't he?" Spike asked. He put down his fork as well.
"A little, but Faith was never interested. She and Jesse have been dating since she moved here." Tara thought about how close Faith and Jesse had been before Faith's death.
"It's too close to daylight, damn it," Buffy grumbled. "We can't track Angelus until dusk."
"Angelus always liked to keep a secret lair," Spike speculated. "When Darla and Dru got to be too much for him, he'd sneak off for a few days."
"Fred can look up property deeds for the most likely places when she's pulling up blueprints," Joyce said. "I better call her now before we forget." She rose from the table.
"H-how was patrol?" Tara asked to fill the void.
"It was good." Buffy nodded. "The demons were surprised to see us. Other than that, it was good. There's a couple of vamp whorehouses to burn down though."
"One might be a mite harder to burn than the others," Spike grunted. "It's run by some fledge named Finn. He appears to have a military background."
"Riley's a vamp?" Tara asked. The surprise was evident in her features. "We thought he left town at the same time the Initiative did." She realized that both Spike and Buffy tensed up at her words. "What did I say?"
"The Initiative is here in Sunnydale?" Buffy asked. She was suddenly worried for Dot. The young werewolf had a history with that particular group.
"No! They're gone, I swear." Tara reassured the worried Slayer. "It's just that Riley was a nice enough guy, you know. I wonder how he got turned."
Spike and Buffy glanced at each other. They hated to shatter this innocent young woman's view of the world.
"Vamp whorehouses usually cater to those humans who become addicted to the biting," Buffy said carefully. "I can only assume that's what happened to Finn. Maybe he got bit once in a fight accidently, and then he went back for more later on purpose."
"I-I didn't know that." Tara blushed. "I was always under the impression that all the bites hurt."
"Most times vamps don't care and they do," Spike replied. "The pain and fear feeds the demon, but it doesn't have to." He gave Buffy a lusty leer.
"Oh." Tara saw Buffy's blush. "Oh! I didn't realize. I didn't realize you were together like that. Are you mated?"
"I don't think Lydia's ready for that info." Buffy bit her lip. Her hand inched across the table to Spike's hand. "We were both in very bad places when we found each other." She remembered distinctly how depressed both she and Spike were when they met.
"The scared little Slayer you were expectin' to show up actually disappeared years ago," Spike agreed.
Buffy gave an indignant huffy. "I was never scared. I was confused, angry, and ready to pummel whoever was responsible for all the terrible changes in my life, but never scared."
"Yes, you should have seen her." Joyce had returned from making her phone call. "Hank and I were already headed towards a divorce by that time. Buffy refused to let him drag her into the middle."
"Your ex is a git," Spike muttered. He never had any respect for males -- human, demon, or otherwise -- that abandoned their women.
"I agree." Joyce gave the vampire a smile before she turned to Buffy. "Fred should have some results in a few hours."
"That's our Fred," Buffy replied. "Always on top of it."
"We'll get together at dusk." Spike glanced at Tara. "You're welcome to join us, Glinda. Bring the Watcher if you'd like."
"Which Watcher? We appear to have several," Tara asked with a giggle.
"Rupes, of course. I don't think that other one is too happy with us." Spike went back to his breakfast.
"Au contraire," Tara giggled again. "She wants an interview. Apparently she did her thesis on the Scourge of Europe. In fact, she hopes she didn't make you too mad to talk to her."
Spike goggled at the Wicca. "You've got to be kidding me."
Wesley rose to his feet to greet Leticia Dobbins, an agent of the Sunnydale branch of a national chain of a real estate company. He had already given the woman the must haves that their group required. The woman had oozed enthusiasm when she had learned that money was no object.
"Mr. Pryce. I'm so glad to meet you." Leticia put out her hand in greeting. When she had heard the Brit's accent she had been intrigued. Now that she saw him in person, she was even more intrigued.
Wes noticed the speculative look on the woman's face, but he chose to ignore it. "Hello, Ms. Dobbins. Were you able to find a house that suits my party's needs?"
Leticia gave a mental sigh. This one's all business. Such a shame. She took a stack of files out of her briefcase. "Each one of these houses has many of the amenities that you requested, but this one... " She pulled a thick file from the pile. "This one is perfect for your group. It's called Skald Hill Manor."
"Skald Hill Manor? It has a name?" Wesley asked. "Is it an estate?"
"All haunted houses have names. Didn't you know that?" Leticia replied. She gave a nervous chuckle. "But of course... haunted houses... HOGWASH!"
"Indeed." Wesley didn't feel like informing the young woman that he didn't think it was hogwash at all. "Tell me about this manor."
"Skald Hill Manor was completed in 1848 by William Jamison for his bride Elizabeth. They were killed three short years later while on a business trip in San Francisco." Leticia opened the file. "The house has passed through several Jamison relatives until a decade ago when the house went on the market."
"A decade? Is it in disrepair?" Wesley was worried about the house being in bad shape.
"Oh, no. There's been a caretaker hired by the Jamison estate to ensure the upkeep." Leticia had contacted the man just that morning to make sure he was doing his job.
"The price?" Wesley nodded when Leticia quoted a number. "We need to inspect the house first, of course. If everything is in order, we'll look into purchasing the Manor."
"Oh, how delightful." Leticia clapped her hands. "When would you like to take a tour?"
"It'll have to be late. Will 10 p.m. be okay with you?" Wesley glanced at Buffy's schedule.
"That is late." Leticia bit her lip. She was going to complain until she realized the size of the commission she'd receive for the sale. "I can do that. No problem. I'll just have to take a nap is all."
Wesley copied down Skald Hill Manor's address in his appointment book. He shook Leticia's hand before he left the woman's presence.
Willow woke suddenly from a bad dream. She reached for Tara, but her girlfriend wasn't in the bed.
"Tara?" Willow called out, but she received no answer. She rolled over to find a note on the dresser next to her. "'Will, I needed to talk to Buffy. I'll be back by lunch. Love you, Tara'."
Willow threw the note down on the floor in a fit of anger. She climbed to her feet, and she walked naked towards the bathroom, forgoing her usual bathrobe.
"Why is Tara talking to them? I've got to change this!" Willow went into the bathroom.
The red-haired witch didn't feel the presence of Azriel or the vengeance demon's whispers in her ear. Azriel chuckled to herself. Hoffy never said anything about undue influence. If she could hurry the third wish along in some way, then the sooner Willow Rosenberg's soul could belong to the Master of the vengeance demons.
"This is all wrong," Willow grumbled. She turned on the shower, and she stepped under the warm water. "Maybe if Buffy was called first, we wouldn't be having these problems." She thought about her spell books as she bathed. "I bet if Buffy was the Slayer first, then Faith and I will be great buddies."
With that in mind, Willow finished her shower.
Willow found the spell she needed to alter reality. She gathered the ingredients together as she thought about exactly where to do the spell. She finally decided on a crypt in the Restfield cemetery that would work quite nicely she decided.
Willow set up for the spell. After she uttered the words, she realized the crypt had changed. It was still dusty, but there was a fridge, a television, and an armchair there now.
The door swung open, and Willow was surprised to see Spike saunter in with a smoking blanket. She gulped in panic when the vampire's face hardened at the sight of her magic components.
"So, Red, bad enough you pulled Buffy from Heaven and made us all lose our memories," Spike sneered. "Now, you're plannin' something else? In my home?"
"Spike?" Buffy entered the crypt behind the vampire. She looked at Willow and the magic paraphernalia with a hurt expression on her face. "I thought you were going to stop. Wasn't Tara leaving a good enough wake up call?"
"Tara left me?" Willow asked in a small, lost voice. What was going on? This reality was supposed to be better.
"Did you do another memory spell?" Spike gave the witch a contemptuous look. "If it wouldn't give me a headache, I'd smack you."
"Won't give me a headache," Buffy said with a small snarl. This was really too much.
"I-I... Can I talk to... um... Jesse?" Willow stuttered.
Buffy gave Spike a startled look. "Will, you know Darla turned Jesse that first week I was in Sunnydale, and Xander ended up staking him."
Willow whimpered. This wasn't how it was supposed to be. "Faith?"
"The psycho bitch is in jail. You know that." Buffy gave Spike a raised eyebrow. "I think we need to get her back to the house."
"Too bad it won't be her own home," Spike muttered. He gathered Willow's things while Buffy helped the redhead to her feet. He didn't want her tainted crap in his home.
"Not now, Spike," Buffy murmured. She knew the vampire wasn't happy with Willow's lack of contributions to the household.
"You're dating Spike?" Willow was confused. Buffy and Spike were together in this reality too? How?
Buffy gave a deer-in-the-headlights look at the witch. Then she sighed. "Maybe. You gonna go wiggy on me?"
Willow shook her head. Maybe there was more between the Slayer and the vampire than she had first anticipated since they were together in two realities.
"One down, pet," Spike said with a grin.
"Way too many to go," Buffy grumbled. The three of them left the crypt.
"Well, I'm sure the Bit will be excited," Spike drawled. "Maybe we should stop at the Quick Mart for earplugs."
"Ha, ha. Her squeals aren't that loud." Buffy stuck her tongue out at the vampire. She felt a bit freer now that Willow hadn't freaked over the idea of Spike and her as a couple.
"Maybe not to you, Slayer, but a vamp's hearing is mighty sensitive."
"I doubt Anya will care, but we'll have to endure the orgasm questions," Buffy replied thoughtfully.
"I'm sure Glinda won't care either." Spike gave Willow a cool glare. "She's not as prejudiced as some of your soddin' Scoobies."
"Yeah, Xander could be a problem." Buffy chewed on her lip. "Hopefully he'll be too busy with the wedding to notice us?" She looked hopeful.
"Sometimes you're swimmin' in it as deeply as he is, luv."
Willow was confused by everything that was going on. She was so sure that this reality would be so much better than her own. She figured that she would be great friends with Faith, but the dark-haired girl was in jail. It seemed that Jesse was dead, Tara had left her, and Buffy was still dating Spike.
"My memories are patchy for some reason," the witch said softly. "Jesse's dead, and Faith's in jail. What about Giles and Angel?"
"Giles left for England. He said I needed to grow up." Buffy rolled her eyes.
Spike snorted which caused the two women to stare at him. "He just couldn't handle the fact that you were in Heaven, and now you're not. The poofter's in Los Angeles with the cheerleader and the other ex-watcher."
"Huh?" Willow looked at Buffy for translation.
"He's teamed up with Cordelia and Wesley." Buffy looked around the streets, ever on the alert.
"Cordelia's not with Xander?" Willow felt odd. She was amazed at how similar, yet different things were here.
"She was until the brain trust here kidnapped the two of you so you'd do a love spell on the ho-bag. Cordy and Oz caught you kissing Xander." Buffy gave the vampire a cool look. "And don't think I've forgotten about the whole chaining incident, pet."
Willow was surprised to see the vampire was actually embarrassed by whatever had happened.
"About that... Dru mentioned that Darla was resurrected and among the unliving again when she was here last time."
"What?" Buffy stopped in the middle of crossing the street. "Why hasn't this been mentioned before?"
"Your sweetie bear's been here twice, Slayer." Spike shrugged. "When your mum died and when you came back."
Buffy sighed. "Number one, he's not my 'sweetie bear' anymore now is he? Number two, I don't think either of those situations were exactly a time to say, 'Hey, Buff, guess what? My bitch of a sire's back. Surprise.'."
"Guess I shouldn't mention what's circulatin' on the demon grapevine then." Spike turned up the front walk of Buffy's Revello Drive house.
"I think you better start talking, Spikey."
Spike chuckled at the Slayer's snarly tone. "Rumor has it that Darla's preggo ... with the poofter's child."
"Is that possible?"
"Prophecy or something." The vampire opened the front door for Buffy. "Are you upset, pet? I always seem to tell you the bad news about the ex-boyfriends."
"Why would I be upset, Spike?" Buffy bowed her head as she slipped past him into the house. "He's moved on. I've moved on. That meeting we had when I got back was awkward at best."
"Where's Oz and um... Lawson?" Willow asked softly.
"Who told you about Lawson?" Spike gave Willow a calculated look. The whole situation was getting ridiculous. There was no way that Willow could know anything about Lawson. His suspicions were confirmed when he sniffed the air around the witch. Her scent was off. "What did you do, Willow?" He grabbed Buffy, and he pulled her away from the witch.
"Spike, who's Lawson?" Buffy asked in confusion.
"Lawson was a submariner that Angel turned during World War II." Spike reluctantly told Buffy. He wasn't sure how the Slayer would react to yet another secret. One secret too many, and she might stake the messenger. He wasn't trying to hide anything from her. He hadn't thought about Lawson in a couple of decades.
"He had a soul then," Buffy whispered.
"I didn't know that till I got to Sunnydale, but yeah. Angelus was a little too protective of the pulsers. That should have clued me in, right there. You've met Angelus, luv. You know how he operates." Spike sniffed the air again. He looked at Willow. "Who are you, Red? You're not our Willow."
"Things were supposed to be better," Willow said quietly. The events of the spell were finally catching up with her. "I wished Faith back from the dead, and she had to crawl out of her grave."
"Yeah, well, been there, done that." Buffy moved closer to Spike. "Can't say the experience is all that much of a thrill, and I wouldn't wish that on anyone."
"So, you decided what, Red? To play with our lives?" Spike pulled Buffy into his arms.
"No... I just thought..." Willow's eyes filled with tears.
"No, you didn't think. You share that trait with our Willow," Buffy replied. "Make it right. Now."
SOMEPLACE ELSE IN THE SAME REALITY
Oz stepped into the clearing. Tonight he was going to welcome a new member to the pack. Her name was Dot Hill. Oz was leery about having her in the pack because of her close, but totally unwanted, association with the Initiative. He hadn't forgotten his own incarceration by the military group.
Dot stepped into the clearing. After years on the run from soldiers with a brief stint as a guest of the Immortal, she was finally with her own kind. Life hadn't been easy on the young woman. It showed on her lean muscular body. There wasn't an ounce of fat anywhere on her, including her breasts.
"Hey," Oz said.
"Hey," Dot replied.
"So, um, welcome to the pack." Oz nodded. He had no idea what to say to the young woman.
"Uh, thanks. I'm Dot." The woman glanced around the clearing.
"R-right." Willow twisted her hands together. "Um, Let this healing be begun, let this spell become undone."
A flash of light streamed through the house. Both Spike and Buffy had to close their eyes against the brightness.
"What was that?" Willow came through the door from the kitchen. "I thought I heard voices."
"Another Willow who doesn't think about the consequences of her actions," Spike grumbled. He rubbed his eyes. "You okay, luv?" he asked Buffy.
"I'm okay, Spike," Buffy reassured the vampire with a hand squeeze.
"You're holding Spike's hand," Willow sputtered.
"Yeah, I am." Buffy gave a small, tight smile. "I plan on doing a lot more than that too."
"Oh, um, okay, I guess." Willow looked back and forth between the Slayer and the vampire. "Are you happy?"
"Yes, Spike makes me as happy as I can possibly be." Buffy's smile turned luminescent.
"Okay." Willow stuck out a finger at Spike. "But if you make her unhappy, I'll hex your parts."
Spike shifted uncomfortably and nodded. He was just thrilled that Buffy hadn't shoved him back in the metaphorical closet. If he ever saw that other Willow again, he'd have to thank her.
Willow found herself back in the dusty crypt. She realized how much Spike must have cleaned it up.
"This reality is okay with me," the redhead whispered. "That one was even more screwed up."
Across Sunnydale at the hotel, Oz and Dot stared at each other. They both felt something strange happen, but they were unsure of what it was.
"That was weird," Oz said.
"Yeah, like we met twice, you know," Dot nodded. "Once here, and then again someplace else."
"Yeah, like we're meant to be." Oz nodded too.
"Meant to be. I like the sound of that." Dot held out her hand. "Wanna go out for a walk?" She smiled happily when Oz grinned in return and took her hand.
Giles picked up the phone, and he dialed the number of the coven where his friend Althenea resided. He had made the decision to call her after a desperate phone call from Tara about Willow.
"Hello, Rupert," Althenea greeted her old friend. "I was just about to call you. Serina, our Seer, had some troubling feelings about Sunnydale today."
"Yes, I believe that might be Willow's fault." Giles nodded. "She is doing some major magic. We are unsure of what she did, I'm afraid to say."
"She attempted to change reality," Althenea replied. "What she really got was another dimension."
"Did she damage the other dimension?" Giles asked softly.
"No. Believe it or not, her presence helped," Althenea said. "It's amazing how one small incident can change things. Sometimes it's for the better, sometimes for the worse."
"Hmmm," Giles hummed. "What do you think should be done in regards to Willow?"
"The coven and I will bind most of her powers," the witch assured the Watcher. "Miss Rosenberg will be quite outraged about this. Be prepared."
The Magic Box door jingled, and Giles looked up to see Anya Jenkins enter the store. He turned his attention back to the phone call. "I will await the news of your success."
"I will speak with you later, Rupert," Althenea assured Giles. She hung up the phone, and she immediately went in search of her sister witches.
"Hello, Rupert," Anya said brightly. "How are you this afternoon? Should we have our orgasms now or after we make some money?"
Giles dropped the phone while he blushed and stammered, "M-Miss Jenkins, please." He thought after years of dealing with Faith and her blatant innuendos that he could never be embarrassed again, but he had never had such talk directed at him.
"Oh, I do love a man who begs." Anya chewed on her lip as she gave Giles a sultry look. God, he was so cute when he blushed. "Beg for me, Rupert."
"Miss Jenkins, that's entirely inappropriate." Giles gasped when Anya entered his personal space to lay a hand on his arm. He backed away, but she kept advancing on him. After a few steps he bumped into the glass display case that served as his counter. "Someone might walk in! Please, desist."
"You know, all this stress is not good for business." Anya moved even closer to the flustered Watcher. She took off his glasses, and she placed them on the counter behind him. The vengeance demon reached up, took the man's face in hers, and pulled him down for a kiss.
"Miss Jenk..." Giles' voice was muffled by Anya's lips on his mouth. He almost fell over when she used the opportunity of his open mouth to caress his tongue with her own, and he had to grab her hips to steady himself.
Anya hummed in delight when she felt the strong arms encircle her body. She settled against Giles with a sigh, and her own hands entwined with his hair to gently scratch his scalp. Anya heard the bell above the door jingle, but she didn't care. She was getting what she wanted, right here and right now.
"Oh my." Tara cleared her throat. This hadn't been what she had expected to see when she entered the Magic Box. "Um, guys, can I talk to Giles for a few?"
Anya pulled away from the flustered man. She licked her lips, patted her hair back into position, and turned to Tara. "Hello, Miss Maclay. How are you this fine afternoon? Rupert is ready to talk with you now."
"I-I ... um .... " Giles stuttered as he frantically felt around for his glasses. He shoved them on as soon as he found them. "Can I help you, Tara?"
"Willow's asleep. Something happened right before I came here though." Tara looked at Giles shyly. "It felt pretty powerful."
Giles kept his eye on Anya who was now walking around the store with a notepad and pencil. She appeared to be taking an inventory. Giles cleared his throat before he turned back to Tara. "I-I ... um... well... my friend in the coven bound most of Willow's powers."
"She did?" Tara put a hand to her forehead. She hadn't thought it would go that far.
"Willow attempted to bend reality, Tara," Giles replied. He had to grab the young woman when she seemed a bit dazed.
"I think it's time to go see Buffy," Tara whispered as she clutched at the Watcher's arm. "This is just so much, Giles. How did our lives get so messed up?"
"I don't know, Tara. I really don't know." Giles shook his head.
"Wesley called while you were out getting those fax papers." Buffy stepped out of the hotel bathroom. "He met with the realtor. We're supposed to go look at a house this evening."
"What time?" Spike looked up from the pile of deeds he was perusing. Fred had done her job quite well. Spike and Buffy now had a few good leads on where to find Angel and the missing Faith.
"Around ten." Buffy toweled off her wet hair.
"Good. That'll give us a couple of hours to look for the poofter and the other Slayer." Spike got a gleam in his eye when Buffy sauntered over to him. She was dressed in a tank and tight shorts. He opened his arms to let her settle on his lap before he went back to the papers. He picked out one to show Buffy. "This one should be the first place we check out," Spike commented.
Buffy glanced at the deed. "Liam O'Conner, 1909 Crawford Street."
"It was one of the names Angelus used to use back in the day," Spike replied.
There was a knock at the door that interrupted anything else Spike and Buffy were going to say. Spike looked up, and he called out, "Come in, Lawson."
The dark-haired vampire slipped into the room. He sat in the chair across from Spike's. He was used to seeing the blond couple's affection for each other. So, he didn't think anything of their kissing in front of him.
Within a few minutes, there was another knock at the door.
"It's Glinda and the Watcher." Spike pulled away from Buffy to sniff the air.
Buffy rose to answer the door. On the other side she found an upset Giles and a distraught Tara. "What's the what?" the blond slayer asked as she gestured for the newcomers to come inside.
"Willow did some major magic today," Giles replied. "Tara noticed it when Willow staggered in earlier today and collapsed." He helped the young woman to sit down.
"Any ideas what she did?" Lawson asked.
"Not at first, but when I called the coven in England, my friend Althenea informed me that Willow tried to change reality." Giles sighed. "The coven also bound a majority of Willow's powers."
"Bet that's gonna brass her off," Spike muttered. In his experience magic makers weren't at all happy about having their powers fiddled with.
"Indeed, but I couldn't think of what else to do." Giles shook his head. "Both Tara and I have repeatedly cautioned Willow about the consequences of her actions."
"Doesn't listen, does she?" Buffy replied.
Lawson watched Tara with more than a little curiosity. She was exactly the type of woman he liked; sweet, earthy, and buxom. He was just saddened by the fact that she preferred the fairer sex.
Tara blushed under Lawson's scrutiny. She glanced at him from under her lashes. She had to admit he was a handsome young man. Since her conversation with Spike and Buffy earlier that day, her mind had been stuck on vampire bites when it wasn't being totally eclipsed by the severity of Willow's actions.
"Spike, Lawson, and I have a lead on Angelus' secret lair," Buffy said. She handed the Crawford Street deed to Giles. "We'll take care of this. Can the two of you research something for us? We have exhausted our resources."
"We can try," Giles answered.
Buffy went to the closet. She pulled out a briefcase which she took to the table and opened. She handed a sheath of papers to the Watcher. "This is not for Council consumption," she warned Giles.
Giles glanced through the papers. He gave Buffy a gobsmacked expression. "These items really exist? The Gem of Amara is just a myth, and I've never heard of a Slayer weapon as you have described here."
"Not myths, Rupes." Spike grinned at his fellow Brit.
"Where did you find this information?" Giles fell into another chair.
"When I finally knew what I was, Mom started the research." Buffy smiled at Spike. "Of course, it was Spike who identified me as the Slayer."
"I heard about your Slayer, Watcher," Spike commented to Giles. "So imagine my surprise on finding Buffy here."
"Yeah, I can imagine," Giles said with a nod. "I just don't understand why the Slayer of Slayers didn't kill her."
"Well, where’s the glory in killin' an unknown Slayer?" Spike smirked. "Besides, who says I didn't try? Buffy's one hell of a Slayer."
Before anyone could respond there was a pounding at the door. Buffy went to open it, and she found Willow on the other side. The red-haired witch pointed a finger at Buffy before she hissed, "What have you done to me?"
Tara leaped to her feet, pulled out of her self-induced trance by Willow's accusation. "If you're going to accuse people of doing things to you, you should make sure you have the right ones."
"Quite right." Giles stood next to Tara. He wasn't going to let the young woman take all the blame for the binding of Willow's powers. Giles adjusted his glasses. "Tara told me you were using too much magic. This was confirmed by an outside source not associated with Sunnydale. So, it was I who had your powers bound."
"How could you?" Willow shrieked. "You're just jealous of my powers! Both of you!"
"How can you think that?" Tara gasped. "I love you! I just worry that you're going to go too far someday. I want to help you."
"If this is the kind of help you're going to give, I don't want any more," Willow snarled. "Reverse it, Tara, or we're finished."
Buffy went to stand by Tara and offer her support. The Slayer knew when the two vampires joined her next to the white witch. "I don't know you, and I think you're out of control," Buffy said to Willow. "It's obvious you don't listen to anyone else."
"This is all your fault." Willow pointed an accusing finger at Buffy again.
"You're delusional," Buffy countered.
Spike growled menacingly. He didn't like how the witch was looking at his mate. Beside him, he could hear Lawson's rumbling response to Spike's ire.
"You're making my vampires all growly," Buffy said with a smirk. "While it sounds all sexy, it's not very good for a search and rescue mission."
"We'll just go now," Tara said softly. "Come on, Will." She held out a hand to her girlfriend.
Willow shook her head. "We're over, Tara. This was the ultimate betrayal in my eyes." She turned, and she fled the hotel room.
Tara's posture deflated instantly. She made no protest when Giles took her shoulders. She couldn't believe that the woman she loved had fallen so far.
Giles grabbed the papers he had been looking at before. He stuffed them in a pocket before he led the upset Wicca from the hotel room.
Buffy turned sad eyes on Spike. She really hated to see Tara feeling so badly, and she wondered if there was anything that they could do about. Maybe later, she thought. Right now it was time to get down to business. "I guess we should go find Angelus and Faith."
The two male vampires readily agreed. Neither one expected this to be over. Willow would certainly try to unbind her powers somehow. They needed to be ready.
Jesse unlocked the apartment door. He had spent part of the night and a good portion of the day on a fruitless search for Faith. He was unsurprised but still hurt to find a pile of luggage inside the front door.
"Hope?" Jesse called out.
"Did you find Faith?" Hope stepped out of her room.
"No, where ever Angel took her is well hidden." Jesse looked at the luggage. "I didn't think you were leaving so soon."
"R.J. and his brother will be here in a few minutes," Hope replied. "I'm going to stay with Janice until I leave for England. I don't want your reunion with Faith to be overshadowed by me."
"She'll be just as happy to see you," Jesse protested. "She died so you wouldn't have to."
"I'll come by in a few days when she's more adjusted to the change." Hope shrugged. She really wanted to see her sister, but the guilt she felt for kissing Jesse eclipsed the joy she felt over Faith's return. It didn't matter that when the kiss happened, they both thought Faith was gone forever.
"I don't like the idea of you staying with Lance Brooks," Jesse grumbled. "He's a lowlife."
"Lance is my friend. Nothing else." Hope rolled her eyes. She was pretty sure that Jesse was just jealous. "Besides, his mom and R.J. will be there too."
A knock on the door heralded the arrival of the Brooks brothers. Hope let them in, and the two men quickly took care of her bags. Hope hadn't explained the particulars of why she was leaving the apartment with her friend. She had just said things were too tense to continue living at Jesse's.
Hope followed Lance and R.J. to the door. She was stopped when Jesse grabbed her arm.
"Please don't go," Jesse pleaded.
"I have to, Jesse." Hope looked at the young man with saddened eyes. "Maybe if Willow hadn't made that stupid wish it would have been okay, but she did. You belong to my sister. I love you, Jesse." She swept out of the apartment before she could start crying.
Jesse closed the door. He wandered into the living room where he slumped into an armchair. He couldn't believe how totally fucked up their lives were at the moment.
It was a couple of hours before he finally shook off his funk long enough to make a phone call.
Buffy strolled down Crawford Street. She kept a close eye on her surroundings, cataloguing everything around her. This was a skill she had picked up from Spike. She knew that Lawson was several hundred yards behind and to the right of her while Spike was somewhere behind Lawson. For the most part she didn't feel anything supernatural. It was just a typical suburban neighborhood. However, as they approached 1909 Crawford street all that changed.
Woah. So, that's what I feel like to you vamps? she projected back to Spike.
Don't let your guard now down, pet, Spike replied back. Let's hope he's feelin' guilty enough that he won't have vamped her.
Buffy stopped to wait for Lawson and Spike to catch up with her. She linked her arm through theirs to give the impression that they were friends out for a stroll to any nosy neighbors.
"I don't think I like Angelus' obsession with the other Slayer," Lawson said under his breath. There was no love lost on his part for his sire.
"Neither do I," Buffy replied in an equally low voice. "I'm just glad it was her rather than me though. She sounded much more worldly at sixteen than I was."
"My pretty little valley girl," Spike teased.
"And don't you forget it," Buffy retorted.
The two vamps and the Slayer approached the front door of the house that Angel and Faith were inside of. Spike made quick work of the locked door while Buffy and Lawson performed lookout duty.
The three warriors slipped inside the mansion. Buffy wrinkled her nose in disgust when she heard Angel pleading and lying to Faith. Pathetic!
"No one else cared about you, Faith," Angel said. "I was the only one there when you awakened." He knew just how to stretch the truth to suit his needs.
"You're not a knight in shining armor," Faith replied flatly. "I don't like you, Angel. Not even Heaven can change that."
"You're the means to my redemption." Angel's voice was arrogant even as he pleaded with the Slayer. "The Powers ordained it."
"I'm sick of this ordained crap." Faith's voice had even less life to it now. "You want redemption? Find it yourself. Help the helpless or something."
Spike pushed his way into the living room where he found Faith curled into the corner of a ratty old couch while Angel loomed over her. "Well, well, well, what do we have here? Good old Angelus attemptin' to coerce the Slayer."
"Get lost, Spike," Angel snarled. He turned to confront the younger vampire, and he realized that Spike wasn't alone. "I didn't hurt Faith in any way, Slayer," he tried to assure Buffy.
Faith's eyes jerked away from the posturing vampires when a petite blond woman sauntered into the room followed by another vampire.
"Hi, there," the blond said perkily to Faith. "I'm Buffy, the other Slayer. You must be Faith."
"Aren't you a little old to be a new Slayer?" Faith studied the other female, sizing her up.
Buffy wrinkled her nose. "Not really all that new. You died twice. I've been around for a few years."
"Oh." Faith didn't know what else to say.
"Giles sent us to find you. He got worried when Angelus disappeared with you," Buffy said. She gave Angel a dirty look.
"Giles sent you?" Faith looked surprised. "Giles, my Watcher, is your Watcher?" She wasn't sure what she thought about that idea.
"Nah, got my very own rogue Watcher. Come on. I'm sure your friends will be thrilled to see you." Buffy beckoned for Spike and Lawson to get Angel away from Faith. "Not to mention your sister and that hottie boyfriend of yours."
"Hope? Jesse?" Faith sounded lost for a moment. She hadn't even thought about them since her climb from the grave, and she felt a bit guilty about it. "They're both okay? Angel never said anything."
Buffy glanced at Spike as she sent him a silent warning. He stepped closer to Angel as Buffy held her hand out to Faith. "Come one, let's get you home," the blond Slayer said.
Faith nodded before she stood up. She gave Angel a cool glance. "I don't appreciate your bullshit, Angel. I think you've worn out your welcome around here."
"That goes double for us, Peaches," Spike snarled. He didn't want the brooding poofter any where near his little family either.
The two Slayers left the Crawford Street mansion, followed by Buffy's vampires, who stayed on the alert for Angel and any of his tricks. Spike wanted to circle back to threaten the older vamp again, but Buffy mentally reminded him of their appointment with the real estate agent. When Faith was safely in Giles' hands, Buffy and her vamps went to meet up with Wesley.
Leticia glanced at her watch. The sexy Brit and his group should arrive at any moment. She was surprised when a blond woman and two men, one bleached blond and the other dark-haired strolled up the driveway of Skald Hill Manor.
"We beat Wes," the woman chortled. "This has to be a first."
"You're so easily pleased, luv," the blond man said with a smirk.
Leticia realized that the blond man was another Brit. She shivered at the thought of listening to two yummy accents. She hoped the dark-haired man was from across the ocean too.
A van pulled into the driveway and parked behind Leticia's small car. Wesley got out with another man and two more women.
"Ms. Dobbins, a pleasure to see you again." Wesley smiled at Leticia. "May I introduce Buffy Summers and her mate, William. Beside them is Sam Lawson, a relative of sorts of William's."
"I go by Spike, you wanker," the blond snarled without heat.
Leticia could tell this was an ongoing thing between the two Brits.
"Ma'am," Lawson said in a soft voice. He bowed slightly to Leticia.
"With me are Joyce, Buffy's mother, Dot Hill, and Oz," Wesley continued the introductions as if Spike hadn't snarled at him.
"Pleased to meet you all," Leticia replied. She took the keys to the Manor out of her pocket. "As I told Mr. Wyndam-Pryce, the Manor was built in 1853 by William Jamison for his bride, Elizabeth Winters."
Spike let out a grunt at the familiar name. There had to be a lot of men in the world over the centuries with that name. It had to be a coincidence, didn't it?
"The house is partially furnished," Leticia said as she led the group up the steps of the front porch. "The price includes everything, as is."
Wesley nodded his head. They'd have to check the quality of the furnishings first. He grinned as the ladies made happy exclamations over the size of the porch.
Leticia unlocked the front door. The foyer of the mansion was impressive. She hoped that the rest of the house was the same. "Skald Hill Manor comes with ten acres of land. The house itself has a full basement and attic, six bedrooms, and three and a half baths. Come in, everyone."
"Sounds lovely," Joyce murmured as she looked around. She stepped into the living room which was directly off the foyer. She flipped on the light, and she gasped, "Spike, Buffy, come here."
"What is it, Mom?" Buffy entered the room behind Joyce.
Joyce pointed at the portrait hanging above the mantle. The man and woman depicted in the portrait bore a striking resemblance to Spike and Buffy.
Spike followed Buffy into the room. He let out a grunt of surprise when he saw the painting. "Huh! So that's what happened to Uncle William. Father said he went to the States to make his fortune."
"Mr. Jamison did indeed make his fortune." Leticia came up behind Spike. "However, he and his bride didn't get to enjoy it though. Just a few years after the house was completed, they were both killed in San Francisco." She had already guessed that several members of the group she was escorting were not exactly human.
"Did they have any children?" Buffy asked.
"No, they did not," Leticia answered. "My file says that there was no information on William's family and Elizabeth was the only child of only children. The house passed to a distant relative that had no interest in living in the area. Seeing as how Spike is a direct relative to Mr. Jamison, I believe we can quite possibly get a price slash from the seller."
Buffy nodded in understanding. Sunnydale wasn't exactly her first choice for a hometown either. So, she could see why the house might be a hard sell. Now was it was time to get down to business though. She turned to her companions, and she said, "Dot, you and Oz check out the basement. You both know what to look for. Mom, you and Wes tour this floor. Spike and I will take the second floor and attic."
"Sounds good, sweetie," Joyce agreed. She turned to the real estate agent. "Why don't we talk specifics while the others do their look-sees?"
"Lawson, you're with us," Buffy said. She and the two vampires headed for the upstairs.
Thirty minutes later the group reconvened in the main living room. They agreed that the house was perfect for them. Leticia called the owners, and the transaction was finalized.
Buffy Summers was the proud owner of the Skald Hill Manor.
Buffy looked around the main living room of Skald Hill Manor. She wanted this room to be the one where her 'family' hung out. She wanted big comfy couches, a big screen television, and a home theater system. She was busy writing a list of needed items when Spike burst into the room with a wrinkly skinned demon.
"Pet, this is Clem." Spike went to Buffy, and he kissed her cheek. "He's been keepin' an eye on Finn for us."
"Glad to meet you, Clem." Buffy smiled at the demon.
"Slayer." Clem returned Buffy's smile with one of his own toothy grins. "Spike told me all about you."
"All good, I hope." Buffy indicated with one hand for Clem to take a seat. "So, tell me about how Finn runs his operation."
Clem sat immediately. Despite Spike's reassurances, he was still leery of talking to a Slayer.
"Finn's having a turf war with another vamp." Clem glanced at Spike who nodded for him to continue. "Sunnydale is big enough to support both whorehouses, but Finn's greedy."
"We should split up, and take out both places," Buffy directed this comment to her mate. "You and Lawson take out one while Faith and I take out the other."
"Do you think she'll be up to it, pet?" Spike asked.
"Depends on how her reunion with Jesse went, I suppose," Buffy decided. "I'll call and find out."
At the same time Spike and Buffy were having their discussion with Clem, Faith and Jesse were having an awkward dinner together.
When Faith had arrived home the night before at the apartment she shared with Jess and her sister, she had known she loved her boyfriend, but the feelings felt faded. She knew where ever she had been had been much longer for her than it had been for him. After Jesse had fallen asleep, she had spent half the night wandering the apartment. She felt so restless. Faith didn't understand why Hope had left. However, she got the impression that Jesse felt guilty about something.
Jesse had called in sick, and he had spent the day catering to Faith's every whim. He had made all of Faith's favorite foods, but to the resurrected Slayer it tasted like sawdust. Everything felt so sharp and hard to Faith.
"Would you like to go see Hope tonight?" Jesse said softly. He had no idea what to say to this very different Faith. She was no longer the outgoing girl he had fallen in love with.
Faith shook her head. Like with Jesse, she knew she loved her sister, but she didn't feel connected to the younger woman. "I just want to be left alone to patrol."
"Um, okay. I can do that." Jesse nodded. He looked unsure of what to say next. He rose to his feet. "I... I'll move my things into Hope's room until you're feeling better."
Faith watched as Jesse gathered their plates. She truly felt apathetic towards life at this point. Faith thought back to her reunion with Jesse the night before. He had been so happy to see her, and she had rebuffed his attentions. Now, he was reluctant to approach her.
"You don't have to move your things," Faith replied.
"You want to be left alone, sweetie." Jesse looked confused. He was trying so hard, and yet everything he said or did seemed to be wrong.
"I just don't want to be crowded right now." Faith put her hand up to her forehead. "I don't want you to feel like you have to leave me."
"Okay." Jesse nodded. He went to the kitchen to wash the dinner dishes. When he returned he found Faith simply staring off into the darkness outside the dining room window.
"I'm gonna watch some T.V.," Jesse said in a tentative tone, worried that he'd upset Faith.
"Okay." Faith continued to stare out of the window. She didn't even notice when Jesse left the room to answer the telephone.
Lawson sauntered down the sidewalk. He had just come from a very productive meeting with several demon clans that resided in the Sunnydale area. He thought back on how he came to be where he was now. It started four years before during a run in with Spike and Buffy after he had been wandering aimlessly without a mission.
Buffy had instantly recognized how lost Lawson felt. It was after meeting the rest of her group that he realized she tended to collect lost or hurting folks.
Buffy and her mother Joyce had been abandoned themselves by Hank Summers. Then, Buffy had found a drunk, depressed Spike. Instead of staking the bleached blond vamp, the Slayer had taken him home with her. Despite a rocky start with several heated battles between them, they were now a mated pair that could make HIM blush with their antics.
Wesley joined the group next. Newly fired from the Watcher's Council, the tall, lanky Brit had been trying to make it as a rogue demon hunter when he met up with Spike and Buffy while exorcising a Los Angeles hotel. Lawson knew from the stories that Wes had been surprised to meet up with a Slayer. A few discrete inquires told the growing gang of white hats that Buffy was a spare. This was information none of them thought to share with the Council.
After Lawson's own introduction to the group, they had met up with the Immortal who, to Spike's everlasting disgust was instantly enamored with the Summers women. It was through the Immortal that Dot joined Buffy's group. The Immortal thought that they would be better equipped to protect the young female werewolf.
A shout of his name broke Lawson out of his inner musings. The dark-haired vampire found himself being confronted by his Sire, Angel.
"What do you want, Daddy dearest?" Lawson sneered. He had no respect whatsoever for the other vamp.
"Everything was under control before you and that rogue Slayer showed up," Angel snarled. His feelings were still smarting over Faith's removal from his custody by Buffy and her vampires. He ignored the fact that it was the Council that had pushed Buffy to the Hellmouth, not her own inclination.
"If that's your idea of control, your standards need to be re-evaluated, chief." Lawson smirked at the older vampire.
"Faith's returned. You and yours can leave town now." Angel clenched his fists, suppressing the urge to pummel his childe. He felt the anger he had been repressing for years bubble under his broody facade.
"Somehow I don't think the first Slayer is ready to go it alone." Lawson shoved his own hands into his pockets.
"She's mine! The Powers That Be promised her to me!" Angel spat the words out.
"Don't think the Slayer will take too kindly to being seen as an object." Lawson shook his head. "Buffy certainly wouldn't."
"Get out of Sunnydale." Angel advanced on Lawson. "I'm not warning you again." He looked down in surprise at the stake pressed against his heart. He hadn't even thought about the fact that Lawson probably carried any weapons on him.
"I've trained for the past four years with a Slayer and a master vampire, chief." Lawson gave Angel a cold glare. "I suggest you get out of Sunnydale before Buffy gets wind of this little incident. She's very protective, and you dust very easily."
"Nothin' like a brassed off Slayer." Spike appeared out of the darkness. "You okay, Lawson?"
"Just fine." Lawson stepped back from Angel. The stake disappeared into a pocket. "What's up?"
"We're burnin' down Finn's whorehouse," Spike drawled. "Buffy's just itchin' for a good spot of arson before bed."
"Should I find another place to sleep in the morning?" Lawson asked. "I can't wait till we move into the Manor and you two can silence your room."
Spike smirked before he turned to Angel. "Get out of Sunnydale, Angelus. We rule here, not you." His voice was fierce and territorial.
Angel stepped back in astonishment. This was a confident Spike that he wasn't sure he could take. He would definitely be out of his league if Spike somehow had managed to convince the blond bitch to give him some of her blood.
"I agree. Leave town, Angel." Faith walked up followed by Buffy. "None of us would mourn if you somehow managed to accidently dust."
"Fine!" Angel threw his hands up in surrender. Angel figured Spike would get bored soon and leave for greener pastures. His idiot grandchild really had no staying power. Then Angel could come back for Faith. After all, she was his destiny. He could walk away now. He had plenty of time to win the dark-haired Slayer over later.
"Time for some vamp burning." Buffy rubbed her hands together. "Nothing like a bonfire to get the juices going."
"My nasty little Slayer." Spike leered at Buffy.
Lawson rolled his eyes at his friends' antics because he was used to them. He just hoped that Spike and Buffy wouldn't be too noisy later. Maybe he could find one of the others to hang out with, possibly even the luscious Tara.
Faith wondered if she had ever been as free as Buffy acted. Freedom was such a distant concept to the resurrected Slayer. She felt trapped in a life that wasn't her own anymore.
The next day Faith found herself standing outside the Brooks’ house where she knew her sister was staying. She wondered out loud what had made Hope move out of their apartment. It was then that she noticed the guilty look on Jesse’s face. This made her wonder what he had done to her sister.
Hope peeked out of the curtained window. She wondered how long it would take Faith to get up the gumption to come knock on the door. Hope decided to take the decision out of her sister’s hands, and she stepped out on the porch. “Hey, sis.”
“Hey.” Faith swallowed abruptly. Now that she was facing her little sister she had no idea what to say. “What’s the happenings?”
Hope shrugged as she stepped off the Brooks’ porch. She knew that Lance was standing just inside the doorway, ready to jump into action if need be. Not that her friend would be any match against Faith. Hope had told the Brooks’ that it must have been a case of mistaken identity. Whoever she and Jesse had buried hadn’t been Faith at all. Luckily for Hope, the Brooks had a very dominant case of ‘Sunnydaleitis’ going for them. They were in denial big time.
“I’m going to away to college, Faith,” Hope said. “I think it’s time. If I go away, you won’t have to worry about me.”
“Why on earth would you think that?” Faith protested. “If you’re far away, I won’t be able to help you if something happens.”
“If I go by Mom’s maiden name, no one is gonna know I’m a Lehane.” Hope rolled her eyes. “You and Jesse need to connect now that you’re back.” She tried hard not to let any emotion slip through, but a small hitch in her words alerted her sister that something had changed between Hope and Jesse.
Faith studied Hope’s face for a few moments, before she took in her sister’s words. “No, you can’t go, Hope.” She crossed her arms over her chest.
“I’m over eighteen, you know.” Hope crossed her arms over her chest to mirror her older sister. Anyone who would have seen them right at that moment would have sworn they were twins. “I had a birthday while you were away.”
“Why are you making this so difficult, H?” Faith growled at her sister.
“It isn’t me that’s making this difficult, F!” Hope glared at Faith. Then, she relented as she remembered exactly how her sister came to be standing front of her. Hope slowly moved towards Faith. “Honestly, it’s nothing to do with you exactly. Jesse and I were just getting used to the fact that you were gone, and when you got back we had a stupid fight. I need some time away from things”
Hope tilted her head towards the window where she knew the Brooks’ were watching her interaction with Faith. “You know H-mouth-y things.”
“Oh, those things.” Faith nodded. “You do know they’re not just here in Sunnydale.”
“I know, but it’s time, Faith.” Hope stepped up to hug her sister. “It’ll be five by five, honest.”
Faith huffed in displeasure, but she relented under the code word that Hope and she had always used to let each other know that things were gonna be a-okay. She put her arms around her sister, and she hung on for dear life.
Willow was not happy. She was not happy at all. All of Tara’s belongings had disappeared while the redhead had been at class. A small spell had revealed to Willow that Oz and the female werewolf had accompanied Tara away from the apartment. This little fact started Willow’s climb towards complete and total anger.
“Why is my Tara hanging out with that little bitch?” Willow growled. “In fact why is my Oz hanging out with her?” Of course, the ‘she’ in question was Dot. Willow just couldn’t understand what anyone saw in the other female.
Willow slammed into the apartment’s bedroom. She was angry when she found the bed stripped of the dark blue sheets that Tara had bought just a few weeks before when they had celebrated Willow’s birthday. When Willow realized the sheets were piled in the corner, her anger raised a notch.
“What the fuck is with that?” Willow stomped her foot. “Goddess, I wish I understood people sometimes.” She waved her hand, and the sheets were once again on the bed. She had studied hard to find a way to circumvent the coven’s restrictions on her magic. It had been surprisingly easy to find a different way to do her magic.
Willow let out a surprised gasp when she suddenly found herself someplace that wasn’t her apartment.
Buffy sat at the vanity removing her makeup. Behind her the bed appeared empty, but the tingles on the back of her neck and in the pit of her stomach told her otherwise. Without looking, Buffy knew her mate was doing naughty things with himself as he watched her finish her bedtime routine.
“Patrol went good last night,” Buff commented.
“Yeah, well, it’s good bein’ the master.” Spike’s voice was deep and thick with his arousal. He loved to watch Buffy do the most mundane of acts. She made everything she did appear beautiful and sensual.
Buffy turned to smirk at her vampire. “Oh, you think you’re the master, do you?”
Spike returned the Slayer’s smirk. “Unless you want to be on top tonight, pet?” He rose to his feet, gloriously unashamed of his nakedness. Then, he sank to his knees in a submissive pose, his head bowed, and his hands behind his back.
Buffy laughed softly as she rose to her feet. She strolled over to Spike, and she lifted his chin with one hand. “Have you been a good boy, William? Or do I need to punish you?”
“Punish me, Mistress,” Spike whispered in a hoarse voice.
“You always look so lovely with stripes covering your pretty hide.” Buffy dropped Spike’s chin. “Maybe I should make you go patrolling shirtless tonight. That would let all the other demons exactly who the Master in this relationship is.”
Spike smirked before he replied, “I think they got the hint, Mistress, when you staked that wanker Finn and burned his establishment to the ground.”
Buffy walked behind Spike, and she let her bathrobe fall to the ground. “That just showed them that WE are the Masters of Sunnydale, not that you belong wholly to me, and not the other way around.”
Inwardly, Spike snickered. This was a game they played, both being equally dominant and submissive to each other as equal partners tended to be. However, if Buffy wanted to make everyone think she was completely in control of the relationship, he would play along. It might be to their advantage later on while dealing with the dark Slayer or Angelus.
“Well, then, pet, let’s get started.” Buffy strolled over to the armoire, and she opened the doors to reveal all manner of sex toys.
“Rupert, just the man I was looking for.” Anyanka leaned against the door she had just closed. She licked her lips as she looked the man in question up and down. “I’ve locked up the store, and we’re finally alone.”
Giles gulped at the predatory look in his clerk’s eyes. “M-miss J-jenkins,” he stuttered.
“Oh, that stutter is so cute,” Anyanka cooed. “I’ll have you know that I’ve heard all about Ripper.” She pushed away from the door, and she strolled towards Giles. When she got to his desk, she dragged her fingers down the edge as she neared the gobsmacked man.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Giles attempted to bluff.
“Rupert, really, you don’t fool me.” Anyanka leaned in to whisper into Giles’ ear. “I know what you want.”
Giles swallowed loudly. “What’s that?”
“Me.” Anyanka cupped Giles’ face in her hands, and she covered his lips with her own.
“Anyanka’s moping again,” Halfrek drawled. She glanced over at Azriel. “So, are you!”
“Hoffy’s having too much fun with his new toy,” Azriel mumbled softly. “I was his favorite until she came along!”
“He does this every time,” Halfrek grunted as she rolled over. She snapped her fingers for the manservant standing nearby to come slather suntan lotion onto her back. “You’ll be back to being his favorite soon enough. Have some patience.”
“Easy for you to say, Cecily,” Azriel said with a disdainful sniff. “You knew exactly what you wanted to do when you were elevated. It takes some of us decades to find our niche.”
Halfrek rolled her eyes behind closed lids.
“Rupert was such an animal after I cracked through that stuffy exterior,” Anyanka said in a dreamy voice. Her mind was far, far away from her current surroundings. Her eyes fluttered shut, and she licked her suddenly dry lips with her tongue.
“Oh, boy, she’s off in lala land again,” Azriel muttered. She hoped that her friend didn’t start touching herself in front of her again. Last time had been embarrassing enough for all of them.
“Age gives a man such stamina,” Anyanka cooed. Her hand smoothed down her belly towards her pelvis. “I haven’t been fucked like that in decades.”
“You do remember he’s just a human, don’t you?” Halfrek asked her friend. “He’s gonna die soon.” She hated to burst her friend’s little bubble, but she didn’t want to see Anyanka heartbroken either.
Anyanka sat up suddenly with a gleam in her eye. “Not if I have any say in the matter. I want Rupert, only Rupert, and I shall find a way to have him.” She pointed at Halfrek and Azriel. “You two can’t stop me.”
“Wouldn’t even try.” Halfrek held both hands up in defense while Azriel shook her head.
“Good! That’s very good! I like that!” Anyanka rose to her feet. “I must research this now.” She disappeared with a pop.
“She’s got it bad,” Azriel muttered. “I still don’t like Hoffy giving the new girl so much attention. Something feels off about the whole situation.”
Azriel was right to be concerned. In D’Hoffryn’s chambers he had the very frightened Willow tied on top of an altar. He placed burning incense and other herbs around her naked, struggling body. The head vengeance demon was sure she’d be screaming if it wasn’t for the gag tightly wedged in her mouth.
“My king needs a powerful mortal body to inhabit, my dear,” the blue-skinned demon said quietly. He felt the need to tell Willow what was going to happen to her. “He calls to me even now from the primordial ooze that bogs him down.”
Willow begged with her eyes. This was so not what she wanted when she made her wishes. She just wanted to go back to Sunnydale, to her life and her friends.
“Your name shall forever be known as Willyria.” D’Hoffryn’s toothy grin lit up his face. “Your body will house my God-King for an eternity.”
Willow started to struggle in earnest. If only she could get the gag out of her mouth, she could do a spell to get her out of the terrible predicament she found herself in.
“I know what you’re thinking,” D’Hoffryn said. He started to unbutton his long robe. “If you could speak, you could do your magic, but I’ve put a dampening field around you. Your magic is useless. I just didn’t want to listen to you scream.” He finished undressing.
Willow screamed inside her head when she saw the size of the demon’s sex organ. It was huge, and it was fully erect. She continued to struggle in desperation as D’Hoffryn prepared to finish the ritual for his God-King to take over the witch’s body.
“Now you see why my girls love me so much.” The vengeance demon reached down to grasp his cock in his hand. He stroked himself roughly before he entered the magical circle around the witch. He climbed up on the altar, pushed Willow’s legs apart, and brutally slammed his arousal into the young woman’s tight sex.
Willow’s eyes rolled up in her head from the pain. She had never been invaded in such a manner before. Oz had always been a gentleman with her, and Tara’s use of a dildo was pleasant and sedate compared to the viciousness of D’Hoffryn’s attack.
“Illyria, my one and only God.” The demon punctuated each word with a thrust into the unwilling body below him. “I offer this mortal body to you, my God. So, that you may be born again, powerful and whole.” A light surrounded the two writhing bodies on the altar.
Willow screamed again as she felt the power of the God-King enter her, taking over her mind and soul. She struggled but to no avail. She could feel her sanity and self slipping away. Soon, it was like she was trapped inside a little room inside her own mind. Her soul was delegated to a small compartment, and she could do nothing but rage against the presence that took control.
D’Hoffryn removed the gag from Willyria’s mouth. He lowered his mouth to cover the female’s lips with his own, biting her soft flesh until blood gushed from the wounds into his mouth. When he pulled away, he was pleased to see the blue-black tinge to the witch’s skin that indicated the presence of the God King.
“Release me,” Willyria growled.
“In a moment, my King,” D’Hoffryn replied. “After I’ve given you a proper welcome.” He flexed his hips, slamming his cock again into the body beneath him.
Willyria threw her head back in ecstasy. This body was perfect for the desires that ran through the God King for the favored minion a top her body. D’Hoffryn’s cock felt incredible after centuries of being incorporeal in the Deeper Well. Willyria felt her orgasm rip thorough her body as the other demon’s hot semen spewed inside her body. She screamed in pleasure, the pain letting her know that the witch’s body wasn’t completely compatible with the acidity of the demon’s cum. This was perfection. Pleasure and pain all rolled into one.
Willow huddled in a corner of her mind. She could feel all of Willyria’s pain and pleasure. The sensory overload was more than the witch could bear, and she retreated further inside to protect herself. Willow rocked and crooned to herself. It would be a long, long time before she would be able to cope with the presence in her body.
D’Hoffryn grinned down at Willyria. He knew that once he untied her that she would make him pay for his highhandedness, and he couldn’t wait. He lived to serve his God King.
Buffy rolled over to cuddle up to Spike’s sleeping body. Her hand slipped over his skin, brushing up against the red marks that littered his flesh from their play session the night before. She remembered how innocent she had been when they had met, and how far she had come in her sexual growth. Buffy’s hand drifted down to caress Spike’s cock, but just as she was getting started, the telephone rang. She groaned in disappointment before she abandoned her mate, and she rolled over to pick up the phone.
“Yeah?” Buffy muttered into the phone. “This had better be good.”
“Miss Summers, this is Lydia Chambers. May we speak?”
“Isn’t that what we’re doing?” Buffy flopped onto her back. She let out a sigh, but she continued to speak, “Go ahead. What do you want?”
“I am reworking my thesis on William, of course,” Lydia said. “However, I wish to do another thesis for the Council on how having a team is a help rather than a hindrance to the Slayer. I wish to interview both your team and Faith’s.”
Buffy glanced over at her sleeping mate. “I’m sure William will be flattered by your attention, but I don’t know about an interview that will be brought to the Council’s attention. Wesley doesn’t have very flattering things to say about them.”
“Yes, well,” Lydia hesitated. “Wesley didn’t have the best of experiences with the Council. As I’m sure he told you, his father is part of the Council’s hierarchy.”
“Yes, I know a lot about Wesley’s old man. None of it good.”
“The elder Mr. Wyndam-Pryce is a great at strategy, but he’s not really a people person.” Lydia nodded.
“So, what made you change your mind about us?” Buffy rolled over. “When we came to town you were all gung-ho on me working alone.”
“I … well… It’s come to my attention that there are those within the Council that wish to change how the Slayer is dealt with.” Lydia stopped speaking for a moment. “This could be the catalyst for such an event. The Slayer would never work alone with just her Watcher again. I will be able to explain more when we meet.”
Buffy sighed. She had a feeling the woman would just keep asking until the gang caved. It would be easier to get it out of the way. “We can come to Giles’ shop tomorrow night at dusk. We’re busy tonight.”
“That would be excellent.” Lydia smiled. “I’ll see you then.”
Buffy made her good byes before she put the phone down in its cradle. She just hoped the results of the interview with Lydia wouldn’t come back to bite her in butt. Her group of friends didn’t need that kind of problem right now.
A sleep-filled voice broke through the Slayer’s thoughts. “Quit worryin’, Slayer. We can take care of anything that comes our way.”
Buffy rolled over to look at Spike. “I suppose. Now, last night my slave promised me something as soon as he woke up.”
Spike tilted his head. “I’m sure I didn’t promise you breakfast in bed.”
“Not quite,” Buffy giggled. “But it might be for you. Suck on my pussy, vampire. I’m horny!”
Spike smirked before he got to work eating his breakfast.
Jesse laid flat on his back while Faith huddled at the edge of the bed. The sex had started out spectacularly, just like always, but about half way through, Faith froze up. She urged Jesse to continue until he gave up because he felt like he was forcing her.
“I’m sorry, Faith,” Jesse whispered.
“Why are you apologizing? I’m the one that’s fucked up,” Faith snapped. She sat up, grabbed her clothes, and dressed without looking at Jesse.
“You’re not fucked up. How can you say that?” Jesse sat up, and he bunched the sheet around his waist. “Things are just a bit off, that’s all. It’ll get better, I promise.”
Faith turned to look at her boyfriend. Although she didn’t feel like he was her boyfriend anymore. He felt like a stranger. “Everything’s different now,” Faith said. “I’m not the same and neither are you.”
“Maybe if we try harder,” Jesse replied. “I’m willing to try harder. I love you, Faith. I have since the day I laid eyes on you.”
“I love you too. I know I do.” Faith put a hand through her hair. “But, it’s like a big sheet of ice is between me and my feelings. I know what I should be feeling, but it’s just not there.”
Jesse rose to his feet. “I’ll do what ever it takes for you feel again.” He put his arms around Faith, and he lowered his lips to cover hers.
Faith pushed Jesse away. “Don’t do that. It’s not going to help.”
“What do you want me to do then?” Jesse asked. “Tell me so I know.”
“I don’t know.” Faith shook her head. She felt confined by the lack of emotions and Jesse’s attempts to help her. She grabbed her jacket off the floor, and she edged towards the door. “I think I’ll go patrol now.”
Jesse watched as Faith left the room. He knew it wasn’t even dark yet, but he didn’t know what to say. He was trying so hard to be what Faith wanted him to be, and it was damned confusing. He wished Hope was there to talk to. Maybe Faith’s little sister would have an easier time connecting with the Slayer again. He flopped back on the bed, let out a heavy sigh, and proceeded to stare at the ceiling until it was too dark to see.
Dot glanced up to see that Oz was standing on the porch steps in front of her. She hadn’t seen him since the day before when they had helped Tara get her stuff from the apartment she shared with Willow.
“Tara got settled in.” Oz sat down beside Dot on the top step of the Skald Hill Manor porch.
“That’s good.” Dot nodded. “She seems like a really nice girl.”
“Oh, she is. I’ve always like Tara. It’s not her fault that Willow dumped me.” Oz looked over at a nearby bush. “She tried to get Willow to come back to me when she found out.”
“I don’t think I like Willow very much,” Dot said softly. “She just makes my fur stand up on end.”
“Yeah, I used to love her, but these days I have a new girl in mind.”
Dot reached over to grasp Oz’s chin, and she turned his face towards her. “The new girl is in complete agreement.” She leaned in to press her lips against his in a chaste kiss.
Anyanka spent considerable time in the Arashmahaar archive researching exactly how to make her Rupert immortal without changing anything about him. She had stumbled across a ceremony for a blood binding that tied two beings’ lives together. Anyanka had tried to find other viable methods, but each and every time she came back to the blood binding ceremony. She memorized the steps before she put the books away.
Anyanka stepped into the outer chamber of D'Hoffryn’s quarters. Her demonic senses took in the scent of blood and semen inside, and while she didn’t care if she watched her boss fuck as she had in the past, there was something different this time. There was something foreboding in the scents this time. Anyanka tilted her head to listen more closely to whatever was happening inside the private rooms.
Anyanka heard nothing behind the big wooden doors. She stepped forward to push one of the doors open. When she stepped inside the room, she gasped in horror. Anyanka was used to seeing disgusting things. She’d eviscerated many a man in her career as a vengeance demon, but she had never expect to find D’Hoffryn laying naked on what looked like an altar with his dead, vacant eyes staring at her.
Anyanka stepped back, not wanting to bring attention to herself as she watched some strange version of Willow Rosenberg munching on D'Hoffryn’s heart. The vengeance demon didn’t know quite what to think of what she was seeing, and she silently called for Halfrek and Azriel. When the two women popped into sight, the creature finally acknowledged someone’s existence.
“This body is weaker than I thought.” Willyria tossed down the heart that she had been eating. “I will require proper sustenance. Where can I find such a thing?”
“Uh, what kind of sustenance are you looking for?” Halfrek said in a brave voice. She could tell that Azriel was shell shocked at the sight of D'Hoffryn demise.
“I need to eat the souls of Gods,” Willyria said in a cool voice. “Clearly my servant forgot to prepare for my return properly.”
“Hmm, well, it’s been a long time since Gods walked the Earth,” Halfrek said in an equally cool voice. “Humans have taken over. They crowd the planet with their wants and desires. It’s quite disgusting, but it’s good for business.”
“I wish to walk with the Gods,” Willyria commented.
All three vengeance demons changed into their demonic visages as they said as one, “Wish granted.”
Willyria vanished from the room. The god-woman found herself in a strange dimension where she was the only corporeal being. She was miffed, but she found that she was unable to escape using either her own powers or the shell’s powers. The shell’s soul could only cry and moan when she attempted to talk to it.
“Anyanka, take Azriel to her rooms,” Halfrek ordered. “I’ll take care of D’Hoffryn.” She stepped towards the body.
“Of course, Mistress Halfrek,” Anyanka said with a small bow.
“What?” Halfrek whirled around to stare at her friend. “I don’t want to be the boss. You be the boss, Mistress.”
“Why don’t you both be the boss?” Azriel’s voice was small and quiet. She really had adored D’Hoffryn, and she needed time to mourn her loss.
“Both of us?” Anyanka tilted her head. “I suppose that could work. Then I won’t need anyone’s permission to use the blood binding ritual with Rupert.”
“You actually found something that’ll work?” Halfrek sounded astonished.
Anyanka nodded mutely as she went to Azriel’s side. “I’ll be back in a few minutes, Hallie. Then, we’ll break the news to the others.” She led the upset young demon out of the room.
Buffy, Spike, and their friends converged on the Magic Box’s entrance. Once they moved inside they were not surprised at how disjointed the other Slayer team appeared to be. Oz and Tara were sitting to one side together, chatting quietly between themselves. Giles was behind the counter, counting the money. The Watcher looked sad and unsure of himself. Faith, Jesse, and Hope were around the table. None of them were sitting close together, and Jesse looked torn between wanting to talk to both of the Lehane females. He opened his mouth several times to say something, but he quickly closed it again.
Lydia watched all of the interactions with an interested gaze. It was obvious to her that whatever cohesiveness Faith’s group had before her death was slowly eroding away with the resurrection and loss of Willow. Then she turned her sights on the group that had just entered the room.
Dot went to join Oz and Tara. The female werewolf easily connected with the other two. Lawson followed Dot’s lead, and he too went over to Oz and Tara. The vampire’s interest in Tara was easily seen by anyone who was observant.
Spike, Buffy, and Joyce moved to talk to Giles while Wesley stood at the door way with a tall, skinny brunette. They held hands, and he led her into the store to make introductions.
“Everyone, this is Fred.” Wesley smiled at the young woman.
“Hi, y’all.” Fred waved at the gathered group. “Wesley has told me so much about y’all.”
“How did you join this little group?” Lydia asked the stranger. She had a notebook and pencil at the ready.
Fred glanced at Wesley. “Oh, that’s easy. Buffy saved me from being sucked into another dimension.”
Buffy looked up. “Yeah, who knew libraries were so dangerous.” She turned to look at Oz when he let out a snort.
Giles caught Buffy’s attention when he cleared his throat to speak. “Yes, well, I never thought that libraries were all that threatening either until I moved to Sunnydale. You see, the high school library was built right over the Hellmouth.”
Lydia wanted the attention back on herself. She cleared her throat, and she started to speak, “As I have told you, I want to do a report on how the Slayer benefits from having a group to work with.”
“Not much of a group anymore,” Faith muttered. “Angel and Willow are gone. Hope’s leaving. Tara and Oz have defected. Just Jesse, Giles, and me, and I don’t know about Jesse.”
“Faith, how can you say that?” Jesse said in a hurt voice. “You know I love you.”
“It’s not enough, Jesse,” Faith said softly. “I can’t give you what you want.” She stood up, and she marched towards the back of the store to the workout room.
“Well, that went smashing,” Hope muttered. She too rose to her feet. “Look, Ms. Chambers, I don’t know what you’re looking for with this whole Slayers need a group thing, but I have to say I think Buffy’s group is more together than we ever were.” She turned to Tara. “I’m sorry about what I’m gonna say about Willow, but it all really started in that last year of high school. Sorry to you too, Oz and Jesse.”
“What do you mean?” Lydia questioned.
Hope turned to the older woman. “Willow and Xander got all smoochie-faced. She always had a crush on him. This one time Xander was on the outs with Cordelia, and Willow started to seduce him. Oz and Cordy walked in before it got too far though.”
“That’s old business,” Jesse replied. “Oz and Cordelia forgave them a long time ago.”
“It’s when our group started to fall apart and you know it, Jesse Michael Young.” Hope put her hands on her hips. “Things were never the same between Oz and Willow after that. If Xander and Cordelia hadn’t moved to Los Angeles, I’m sure they would have broken totally up too.”
“Cordelia’s doing good in L.A.,” Tara said in a soft informative voice. “She’s the face of Estee Lauder now.”
“Yeah, and Xander’s opened a detective agency in some old hotel.” Hope nodded. “He emailed me last week after I said I was leaving Sunnydale. He’s recruited some street kids who have been fighting vamps and this empath demon named Lorne. Xander even has a lawyer on his side. He’s doing pretty well for himself.”
“You never liked Willow.” Oz tilted his head to look at Hope. “It’s all fake memories, but you never did.”
“Not really, no.” Hope shook her head. “Now she’s hurt Tara and my sister too by her actions. She hurts everyone she claims to care about. I don’t like that in a person.”
“She won’t be a problem again.” Anyanka popped into the shop. “D’Hoffryn changed her, and she killed him. She’s in a dimension where she won’t be causing any trouble. Oh, Rupert, I found the perfect way for us to stay together. We’ll just do a blood binding ceremony.”
“Willow’s dead?” Tara asked in a shocked voice.
“Oh no, Hoffy changed her into some kind of heart-eating thing.” Anyanka nodded with a small grimace. “It was nasty, and I’ve seen nasty.”
Tara let out a cry of anguish, and she hurried off towards the backroom where they all could hear Faith hitting one of the punching bags. Lawson started to follow her, but Oz shook his head as he grabbed the vampire’s arm. Lawson sighed before he stopped his pursuit of the upset Wicca.
Lydia sighed as the meeting that she had hoped was demolished by the arrival of Anyanka. She continued to observe and take notes. She decided that she needed to call Travers to let him know she was going to stay in Sunnydale indefinitely. This was too good of an opportunity to pass up. Lydia Chambers was determined to revolutionize the Council if it was the last thing she did.
“Let me tell you all about the blood bonding ceremony,” Anyanka announced.
Faith looked up when Tara stumbled into the room with tears on her face. She wondered what Willow had done now to make the kind-hearted Wicca so upset. “Hey, Glinda. What’s Will done now?”
Tara sniffled. “An-Anyanka is b-back. Willow m-made her third w-wish.” Tara brushed the tears from her face. “She’s gone forever now.”
Faith closed her eyes, and she tilted her head with a shrug. “What on earth was she thinking?”
“I don’t know.” Tara glanced at Faith. “I haven’t understood what Willow’s been thinking since that first wish.” She went to the couch where she perched on the edge.
Faith studied Tara for a moment. Everything was feeling out of sorts for the dark-haired Slayer. Slaying used to make her horny and hungry, and it didn’t even do that anymore. Faith felt cold and alone despite the fact that Jesse tried his hardest to help her. “You want to go get a drink or something, Tara?”
“Y-you want to me to go with you?” Tara was surprised. Faith had never been mean or anything, but on the other hand she hadn’t really acknowledged Tara before either.
“Yeah, sure.” Faith nodded towards the backdoor. “Let’s get out of here. We can go have some fun without the significant others.”
Tara glanced at the door that led to the other part of the store. She wasn’t sure if she should leave without telling anyone. Dot and Oz were being great friends at that moment.
“I’m sure Spike and Lawson can hear us. So, they know where we’re going. Especially that Lawson, he was really checking you out.” Faith went to get her jacket, ignoring Tara’s sudden blush. She turned towards the front of the store. “We’re just going to the Bronze guys. You can join us later to check on us if need be.”
“A-Alright, I guess it’ll be okay. I think I need something stronger than a soda today anyway.” Tara gathered her belongings before she followed Faith out the back door of the Magic Box. As they walked towards the nightclub, Tara wasn’t even aware of the shadow following them.
Faith looked back over her shoulder. She knew Lawson was pacing them, keeping an eye on the pretty blond Wicca walking next to her. The old Faith would have teased Tara about her new admirer, but the new Faith just didn’t have the emotional gumption for such an act. The girls continued on to the Bronze without incident.
“Let me tell you all about the blood bonding ceremony,” Anyanka announced.
Lawson ignored the vengeance demon as he made his way towards the back of the store. He heard the dark-haired Slayer’s offer to Tara to go have a drink or two at the Bronze. The vampire didn’t want the Wicca to go out alone. The state of her emotions was too unstable at the moment, and alcohol might make her even more upset. Lawson gave Spike and Buffy a slight nod as he left.
“Why on Earth would you want to do a blood bonding ceremony?” Lydia asked in surprise.
“Oh, I don’t want to lose my Rupert, of course.” Anya smiled brightly at Giles. “When we do the bonding ceremony our life forces will be tied together. It’s much like a vampire mating. You will stop aging, just like Buffy has.”
Giles and Lydia stared at Anyanka in astonishment.
“What are you talking about?” Lydia spluttered. She glanced over at the blond haired Slayer and her vampire companion. “A Slayer would never consent to be the mate of a vampire. It’s just not done.”
Buffy smirked as she flipped her hair back to show off the newly opened fang marks on her neck. “Oh, I consented. I consented a lot.”
“It’s all one sided, isn’t it?” Lydia was a little worried. If the Slayer was under the vampire’s control, things could go pear-shaped any time he got a little out of sorts.
Spike let out a bark of laughter. “Not hardly.”
The others from Buffy’s group laughed. They all knew that Spike had been reluctant to claim the Slayer in the first place. He had been worried that she hadn’t known what she was doing since he didn’t know that Buffy had researched the whole mating act before hand.
“Spike’s mine. I’m the one in charge in this relationship.” Buffy knew that the others in the group would go along with anything she said. They had already briefly discussed letting everyone think that Buffy was the dominant one in the relationship instead of the equals that they really were. Buffy turned to Spike with a smirk. “Take off your shirts, Spike. Assume the position.”
Spike quickly got into the game by slipping off his duster and pulling off his shirt to expose his lash striped back. The bleached blond vampire sank to his knees next to Buffy’s side. He put his hands behind his back with his head bowed.
“Good boy.” Buffy patted Spike’s head.
Giles was agog until he saw Buffy give him a little wink, and then he realized the whole act was for show. Buffy was establishing her supremacy over her demon mate, at least in the eyes of the other demons in Sunnydale. This also had the added benefit of flustering Lydia Chambers. He gave a little chuckle.
“That’s so sexy.” Anyanka licked her lips. “Is it like that with all blood bondings?”
“I’ve never seen any but ours,” Buffy replied. “Although Dot mentioned something similar for werewolves.”
Dot nodded vigorously. “There’s a special brew that can be made. It lets the werewolves remember their human sides so that a ceremony can be performed. I saw one before my mom and I met up with the Immortal. Most werewolves just go for the human type marriage.”
“No one takes commitment today.” Anya shook her head, but then she brightened. “Sure does make the scorned women vengeance a lucrative business though.”
“Oh, is that your forte?” Joyce said with a grin. “I sure wish you would have come to visit me when Hank left me. I would have wished for his penis to shrivel up whenever he looked at a woman.”
“Wish granted.” Anya’s demonic visage rippled forth. “I would have been there sooner, Joyce, but Hoffy was worried that your daughter would slay me.”
Halfway across the world, Hank Summers’ cock deflated just as he was about to stick it in his secretary’s fine, tight cunt. When he was unable to arouse the organ again, the young woman slapped him silly before she stormed out of the office. She spent the rest of the week telling the other secretaries about how Hank couldn’t perform under pressure.
Giles’ mind finally wrapped itself around the idea that Anyanka had set forth when she had arrived unexpectedly. He turned to the petite woman, and he asked in a wondering voice, “You want to bond with me?”
“Of course silly.” Anyanka laid a hand on Giles’ arm. “I’ve been a demon for over 1100 years, and you’re the first man I’ve ever wanted to spend more than a few minutes with. You’re smart, fun, and give the best orgasms I’ve ever had.”
“Oh.” Giles didn’t know what else to say. This beautiful creature was interested in him. Most days he felt every one of his forty some years, but when he was with Anyanka, he felt like he was Ripper again.
“I must go call a colleague at the Council.” Lydia got to her feet. “I’m sure you remember Reginald Bey, Rupert?”
Giles nodded mutely. Reginald Bey was the youngest son of a Middle Eastern sheik and his English wife. As the youngest boy of five sons, Reggie had spent most of his childhood in England with his maternal grandparents the Hobsons before following his grandfather into the Council. Giles had hung out with Reggie at Oxford until he got involved with Ethan’s group. Then, Reggie had distanced himself from Giles. Looking back, Rupert thought that Reggie probably had the right idea. They were still friendly, of course. Couldn’t help that one with them both going to Watcher classes together.
“Well, Reginald would be very interested in this thesis I am doing.” Lydia strolled towards the back of the store. “This will be his first field assignment. I’m sure he’ll be eager to see you, Rupert.”
“Anya, how about you go shopping with Mom and Dot? Give Giles some time to wrap his mind around your proposal?” Buffy smiled at the vengeance demon. “Thanks for cursing Daddy’s dick.”
Anyanka glanced at Giles. She realized that he still had a flabbergasted look on his face. “Oh, um, sure, I guess. Are there any good sex shops in Sunnydale?”
“I know just the place,” Hope spoke up. “My friends dared me to go in there once. It’s over on the old Highway close to the Rusty Beaver.”
“You know about that place?” Jesse gasped. He couldn’t believe that Hope had any idea about the seediness of Sunnydale.
“Of course, silly.” Hope grinned at Jesse. “I only had to go into The Shadow’s Den of Pleasure. Lance was the one that had to go into the Rusty Beaver.”
“Rusty Beaver?” Anyanka asked.
“Yeah, it’s the demonic strip club outside of the city limits,” Hope said with a nod. “It’s the coolest ever.”
Jesse’s head dropped into his hand. “I’m so glad you’re leaving Sunnydale, Hope. Otherwise I think I’d need to lock you up and throw away the key.”
“Let’s go, slave boy.” Buffy tapped Spike’s shoulder. “We have some demons to intimidate.”
Tara fiddled with the umbrella on her drink. She was unsure of what to say to Faith. She and the Slayer had never been particularly close, but before the Wicca could think of anything to say, Faith broke the silence.
“I think I came back wrong,” the dark-haired woman said in a toneless voice. “I know how I should feel. I remember it even, but it’s like I’m dead inside.”
Tara stared at Faith aghast in horror. What had Willow done when she had uttered that life altering wish?
“I was happy where I was. I knew Hope and Jesse had each other.” Faith stared into her cup of beer as if she was searching for answers in its depths. “Now they don’t even have that. They barely look at each other. My return has ruined everything.”
“No, you return hasn’t ruined anything,” Tara protested. “It was Willow’s fault. You haven’t messed anything up. Jesse and Hope both love you very much.”
“I love them too.” Faith sighed. “At least, I used to. I remember what it feels like to love them both.”
“You still love them. I’m sure of it.” Tara looked around the club. She noticed Lawson across the room watching them with an intent expression on his face. “What’s he doing here?”
Faith glanced in the direction Tara was looking. “Somebody has a crush on you,” she observed with her usual insight.
“But I’m not his type.” Tara continued to stare at Lawson. She thought he was almost pretty for a man. She had to admit one thing; Angelus knew how to pick the pretty ones. If she was going to go out with a guy, Lawson would be the one.
“Obviously you are, sweets.” Faith raised an eyebrow at Tara’s naiveté. “You need someone whose darkness is on the outside where everyone can see it.”
“Maybe.” Tara looked at Faith. She had a question burning in her mind. “Did I ever really know Willow?”
Faith shrugged. “Do we ever really know anyone? Most of us don’t have the privilege of living inside each other’s heads like the other Slayer and her vamp toy does.”
Tara looked at Lawson again. The vampire hadn’t moved an inch, and his attention was squarely fixed on her much to the displeasure of the women trying to get his attention. “I’m gonna go talk to him. Be right back.”
“Take your time.” Faith gulped down her drink before she rose to her feet. “I’ll be on the dance floor.”
Buffy sauntered into the Rusty Beaver, a demonic strip club on the outskirts of Sunnydale. In one hand she carried a loaded crossbow, and in the other she held a leash attached to a collar around Spike’s neck. The vampire was clad only in his jeans and boots. Oz and Wesley followed behind the Slayer and the vamp, and they both had loaded crossbows too.
The demons eyed the submissive acting vampire. Most knew that the new Slayer was in town, and that William the Bloody had accompanied her, but they had no idea why the infamous vampire was with the known killer of his kind. The demons saw the lash marks that marred Spike’s skin, and they collectively shuddered. If the Slayer could subdue and command a creature as wild and craven as William the Bloody, what on earth would she do to them?
Buffy strolled over to the stage. She hopped up on the platform, and she leaned the crossbow across her shoulder. Buffy nodded to Spike, who put two fingers into this mouth to let out a loud, sharp whistle.
“Hey, listen up!” Buffy shouted. “I’m the Slayer, which I’m sure you’ve figured out already. I own this town now!”
“Says who?” A scar-faced vamp stood up from the his seat at the bar. He waved a hand at his comrades. “It’s just one broad, her bitch, and two humans. We can take them.”
Buffy leveled the crossbow at the vamp. “Mr. Pointy part deux says so.” An arrow zinged through the air, and the vamp’s dust littered the floor.
The demons backed up from the stage.
“You all see ‘my bitch’ here?” Buffy pointed at Spike. “He isn’t some housebroken puppy. No, he’s a trained attack dog.”
Oi, watch who you’re callin’ a pooch, Slayer. Spike’s indignant voice echoed through Buffy’s head.
Buffy smirked at the congregated mass. “If you’re good little demons, I won’t sic him onto you. But if you cause havoc of any kind, me and my guys will kill you dead.” She glanced at the vamps at the bar. “Or deader, whichever the case may be.”
A floppy skinned demon in the back raised a hand. “Is kitten poker okay?”
“Don’t see why not.” Buffy shrugged. “And you are?”
“Clem,” the demon replied happily.
“Wes, you were looking for a liaison person.” Buffy nodded to her Watcher. “Clem here just volunteered.”
“I did?” Clem puffed up with importance. “Will you be paying me? Can I have it in kittens?”
“Sure, if that’s what you want,” Wes replied. He wondered why Clem was so interested in kittens.
“Uh, Mistress?” Another demon raised his hand. “Will you beat us like you did him?”
“Not bloody likely,” Spike suddenly growled, all pretense of being submissive gone. “She’s mine, and you’ll keep your nasty thoughts to yourself.”
“Oh, I love it when he gets all hot and possessive,” Buffy cooed. She let out a shriek when Spike grabbed her off the stage, and he slung her over his shoulder. Buffy had a contented smile on her face as her vampire went all caveman on her.
Clem walked over to Wesley and Oz. He glanced around to see if anyone was eavesdropping. No one seemed to be paying attention to them. “Did I do okay?” he asked in a quiet voice. “Spike told me to pretend I didn’t know him or Buffy.”
“You did good!” Wesley clapped the demon on the shoulder. He hadn’t been at all surprised that Spike already made a friend in Sunnydale. For an evil vampire, Spike was surprisingly social.
“Will you really pay me in kittens?” Clem looked at the human in a hopeful manner.
“Yes, that shouldn’t be a problem.” Wesley nodded. He’d heard odder requests during his time with Spike and Buffy. “Now as your first job as our liaison, please introduce me to the owner of this fine establishment.”
“That would be ‘the Zoof’,” Clem said. “He owes me two kittens from last night’s game. He borrowed them before we both lost to a Fyral demon.” He led Wesley towards the back rooms.
“Are there many Fyrals in Sunnydale?” Wesley asked while he tried to get a feel for what the gang was up against.
Clem shrugged. “Only during mating season. Not sure why this one was here.”
“Mating season is usually in May, isn’t it?” Wesley struggled to remember his Demon Mating Habits class from his Watcher Academy days.
“Just in time for the annual apocalypse,” Clem said. He stepped in front of a door, and he knocked.
“Come in,” a loud voice inside called out. “You here for your kittens, Clem?”
Spike carried Buffy into their bedroom. Once there, he dropped her to her feet, and he stripped off her clothes in a systematic style. While he removed his own clothing, he watched the naked Buffy crawl onto the bed.
“So, vamp of mine, slow and sweet or the kinkiest of the kinky,” Buffy asked. Her teeth nibbled her lower lip while she waited for Spike’s answer.
Spike leered at his mate. He trailed one hand down his chest and over the taut muscles of his abdomen to grip his burgeoning hard on. “My, my what an interestin’ choice.”
Buffy’s eyes watched with avid interest while Spike stroked his cock. She didn’t know which she craved more though. Sweet, sexy Spike got her motor revved almost as quickly as domineering, take-what-he-wanted Spike did.
“Tonight, it’s slow and sweet.” Spike knelt on the bed next to Buffy. He cradled her head in his hands, and he covered her lips with his own.
Buffy sighed into the kiss. She reached up to grasp his wrists. She opened her mouth under his questing tongue. Buffy moaned in delight while she laid back on the pillows, pulling Spike with her.
Spike eased himself between the Slayer’s parted thighs. Their tongues continued to explore the depths of each other’s mouths. He trailed his hands down her neck to cup her breasts.
Buffy buried one hand in Spike’s short bleached hair while the other traced down his back. She didn’t need much foreplay even though she loved every touch and taste. Her vampire’s caveman-like actions earlier made her wet and ready for him. Buffy lifted her legs around Spike’s waist to give him better access to her heated core.
Spike reached down, and with one quick adjustment, he slipped balls deep into his mate’s depths. His lips never left hers when his hips started to move in the slow and steady pace he knew would bring her to ecstasy the hardest.
“H-Hello.” Tara fidgeted with nervousness now that she reached Lawson’s side. “What are you d-doing here?”
“I wanted to make sure you’re okay,” Lawson replied. He studied the shy young woman’s face. When she ducked her head, he reached out to tuck her hair behind her ear.
“I like girls,” Tara muttered. She didn’t understand why the vampire looked at her with such heat and contentment.
“So do I.” Lawson nodded. The band segued into a slow song. “Dance with me.” The vampire’s tone booked no argument. He hoped that maybe Tara had yet to meet the right man to make her preferences in dual gender pleasure instead of just females. He liked Tara, and he wanted to get to know her better as a friend if nothing else.
After a few moments of thought, Tara took Lawson’s hand. She let him lead her onto the dance floor. They swayed for a bit before she said, “Even if I am intrigued by you, I’m not ready for a relationship. I love Willow despite everything.”
Lawson pulled Tara’s body closer. He laid her head on his shoulder. “I have all the time in the world,” he murmured.
From the arms of some random male, Faith watched Tara and Lawson dance. Not for the first time since her return, she wondered why she felt so completely disconnected from those around her. Tara found comfort in a vampire’s arms, and Faith couldn’t even connect with the boyfriend she had loved for years. The Slayer pushed the male away before she turned to leave. She couldn’t take it anymore.
“Hey, we were dancing here,” the man grunted.
“Too bad, so sad,” Faith said over her shoulder. “I gotta see a monster about a stake.” She saluted Lawson on her way out of the club.
Lawson nodded at the dark-haired Slayer when she left the Bronze. He knew she could take care of herself. All of his attention was on the heartbroken woman in his arms. If he could ease her pain, he would be very happy.
“I want to drive you to the airport,” Jesse said. He watched Hope’s face. He hoped that she would agree to the gesture.
“I suppose,” Hope sighed. She looked Jesse straight in the face. “I’m not sorry we made love, Jesse. I shall cherish the memory forever, but you belong to Faith. I can’t stand to see you happy together. Maybe in a few years.”
“But…” Jesse wanted to tell Hope that he and Faith weren’t as together as it appeared.
Hope put her hand on Jesse’s arm. “If Willow hadn’t made that wish, maybe things would have worked out between us. We’ll never know for sure.”
Jesse let out a huff of air. “I think you’re seeing more than there really is. Faith and I just aren’t connected the way we used to be. You saw how she was earlier.”
“She was in a hell dimension. What do you expect? Give it some time.” Hope squeezed Jesse’s arm. “Please, give it some time.” She loved her sister, and she didn’t want to take anything away from Faith’s happiness.
Jesse rolled his eyes. “Somehow I don’t think time will help. I-I don’t thin Faith was in Hell, Hope. She’s having trouble because she was in Heaven.”
Hope covered her mouth. Her eyes widened with shock. “No, that couldn’t be right. She would have said something.”
“No, she wouldn’t.” Jesse shook his head. They pulled up outside Janice’s house. Hope slept at the other girls’ house even though she hung out with the Brooks’ house. “Get your things.”
Hope had no idea what to say. She had never expected her sister to come back from the dead, let alone Heaven. She got out of the car.
“I wanted to say good-bye, sis.” Faith stepped out of the shadows.
Jesse noticed Faith showed up to say a farewell, but he didn’t want to interrupt the sisterly moment. He stared out the windshield into the growing darkness.
Hope stared at her sister. She gave an inarticulate cry, and she rushed to her sister. She flung her arms around the older woman. “I love you, Faith,” she cried. “I’m gonna miss you.”
“I’m gonna miss you too, kid.” Faith put her arms around her sister. “Go get educated. One of us should graduate college and do something special with her life.”
“Oh you,” Hope sniffled. “You do something special every night. You’re the Slayer.”
“Actually, I’m not.” Faith shook her head. “B is.” She pulled away from Hope. “Call me when you get settled, will ya?”
“I will. I promise.” Hope sniffled again.
“Well, I need to go patrol or something.” Faith stepped back. “Tell Jesse I’ll see him later.”
“Okay.” Hope wiped the tears off her face. “Everything five by five?”
“Five by five, baby.” Faith turned to walk away. She had a long night of patrolling and thinking to do. She needed to decide what to do with her life.
Hope went inside Janice’s house to get her luggage. Her friend’s good bye was more tearful than her sister’s. Hope wondered exactly how true Jesse’s assessment of Faith’s location during her death could be.
Jesse helped Hope put her bags in the trunk of his car. They had a very quiet drive to the airport with both of them deep in thought.
Oz knocked on the front door of Joyce’s apartment. He knew Dot was keeping the older Summers woman and Wesley’s girlfriend company. He grinned when Dot answered the door.
“Oz’s here,” Dot called over her shoulder. “We’re going to Skald Hill Manor now.”
“Bye, Dot,” Joyce and Fred called back to the young woman. They knew that Oz wanted to surprise Dot with the cage that he had delivered and set up at the mansion.
Dot stepped out of the apartment, and she closed the door behind her. She slipped her hand inside Oz’s elbow. Together they strolled out of the courtyard onto the street.
“Things went well,” Oz said.
“That’s good.” Dot grinned. “I figured they would.” She looked up into the sky. “The stars are beautiful.”
“I miss seeing a full moon.”
“Yeah, that would be nice,” Dot agreed. “Is our cage ready? It’s only a few days away now.”
“Yes, it’s ready.” Oz ducked his head. He had never felt so shy and uncertain before. “I can’t wait to change with you.”
“Me either.” Dot felt a dash of bravado. She turned her head, and she kissed Oz’s cheek. “I’m glad I came to Sunnydale.”
“Me too.” Oz turned shining eyes on the petite girl next to him. “Me too.”
Dot stopped in her tracks, turned to Oz, and cupped his cheek. She rose up on her tiptoes to cover his lips with her softer ones. Oz seemed stunned for a moment, but then he started to reciprocate with enthusiasm. Dot moaned when he pushed her against the building, and he covered her body with his.
Lawson stepped inside Skald Hill Manor. He whistled an aimless tune while he thought about walking Tara home. Despite her declaration that she preferred women, she wasn’t too upset with his attentions. Lawson held out a bit of hope in his heart that she’d eventually see him as something more than a friend.
Wesley stepped out of the living room. “There you are, Sam.”
“Hey, Wes.” Lawson nodded a greeting. “How did things go at the strip joint?”
“Great, we’re on our way to owning the Hellmouth.” Wesley tossed a set of keys to the dark-haired vamp. “I heard a rumor that Angelus is biding his time in Los Angeles. I want to check it out.”
“Sure thing, chief. You need me to drive?”
“Yes, please,” Wesley said with a nod. “I need to get some sleep. You’re the best man for the job.”
Lawson glanced at the grandfather clock. “We best get going then if we want to beat the sunrise.”
Wesley clapped Lawson on the shoulder. “Let’s.”
Jesse leaned against the sturdy window with his nose a mere inch from the glass and gazed at Hope while she climbed the steps to board the plane. Travelers brushed past him and announcements blared over the PA, but he only had eyes for her. He wanted to run after her and stop her from leaving him. Maybe he’d go with her instead. Jesse wanted to do so many things, yet he just stood there watching her leave him behind. Faith was the furthest thing from his mind in that moment.
“Don’t leave me,” Jesse whispered. “What will I do without you?”
Almost as if Hope heard Jesse’s words, she turned to give him a reassuring grin and a small wave before she disappeared into the plane.
Faith wandered around for what felt like a few hours before she found herself in one of the many churches that dotted the Sunnydale landscape. She slid into one of the pews and lost track of more time staring at the stained glass windows.
Faith’s thoughts whirled around. Every time she thought she had a grasp on the situation the ideas flitted away like butterflies. The one thing she was sure of though was that she needed to get away from the Sunnydale Hellmouth. Hope had the right fucking idea, she thought. The Sunnydale Hellmouth is sucking the life out of me.
“There’s a nice one in Cleveland.”
“Huh?” Faith glanced around until she spotted a nun perched on the edge of one of the nearby wooden pews. “What did you say?”
“There’s a nice one in Cleveland,” the nun repeated her words. “Oh, dearie me, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to disturb you. Sometimes I just blurt out. Sorry.” The nun flashed Faith a small smile of apology.
“Have you been to Cleveland?” Faith asked.
“Once long ago in a different lifetime,” the nun answered. I’m Sister Edith.” She held out one hand in greeting.
Faith slid over to take the nun’s hand. She found that it was quite cool to the touch. “I’m Faith.”
“What a coincidence. I have faith,” Sister Edith joked. “I noticed you were far away in thought when I came in. Is there anything I can help you with?”
“Not really.” Faith pulled her hand away from Sister Edith. “It’s been a few difficult months for me.” She turned her attention back to the windows.
“For myself also,” Sister Edith replied. “I never expected to be here in the Lord’s House again after all of my sins.”
“What brings you to Sunnydale?” Faith asked. “It’s not exactly a bustling metropolis.”
“I go where I am needed.” Sister Edith smiled. She rose to her feet. “It was nice meeting you, Faith.”
“Yeah, nice meeting you too.” Faith glanced at the older woman. “Maybe I’ll see you around.”
“Maybe. The Lord works in mysterious ways.” Sister Edith turned to leave. “There’s one in Cleveland, young one. Not as powerful as the one here, but it’s there. Ask your Watcher about it. Tell William that I’m happy now, and that I approve of his choice.”
Before Faith could respond, Sister Edith hurried away through a nearby archway. The Slayer jumped to her feet to follow, but when she got to the same archway, she found that the hallway beyond was empty. It was as if the nun had disappeared into thin air.
“Where the hell did she go?” Faith wondered aloud. She looked up and down the hallway. She glanced back over her shoulder at the glass windows that had held her attention for so long. It wasn’t like weird things didn’t happen on an hourly basis in Sunnydale. A disappearing nun with a cryptic message scored pretty low on the scary meter. “I guess I could check with Giles about other Hellmouths. It’s not like I’m needed at this one.”
Faith strode out of the church with a purpose at last. On the way to her Watcher’s apartment, she realized that there were very few demons out and about. “That’s not normal,” she said softly. “Buffy and her crew really do have Sunnydale in their control.”
Within minutes, Faith knocked on Giles’ door. She wasn’t surprised when he answered the door with a book in his hand.
“Some big apocalypse I need to worry about?” Faith pointed at the book.
“No, thank God.” Giles put a bookmark between the pages before he closed the tome. “Spike and Buffy asked that I research several artifacts to determine their existence.”
“What kind of artifacts are we talking about here?” Faith was curious and a little bit hurt that Giles was helping the other Slayer.
“A Slayer weapon and an invincibility gem for vampires,” Giles said. “All I’ve really done is confirm what they already know. Now, my dear, how can I help you?”
“Is there a Hellmouth in Cleveland?” Faith asked.
“Why, yes there is.” Giles gave his Slayer a concerned look. “Why do you ask?”
Faith explained the odd encounter in the church with the nun. She finished the story with a puzzled question. “Who the hell is William? I don’t think I know any Willliams except Willy from the Alibi Room, but that doesn’t seem very likely.”
Giles’ eyebrows raised high on his face. The only William he could think of was Spike. He didn’t say anything to Faith, but he made a mental note to ask Spike about anyone in his past named Edith.
“I’m not needed here anymore, Giles.” Faith shrugged to show how unconcerned she felt about the statement. “It’s time to move on. Hope’s gone as of tonight. The Scoobs have all but fallen apart. Jesse and I just don’t connect the way we did before.”
A thoughtful look graced Giles’ face. “Well, I’ll need a few weeks to sell the Magic Box and find someone willing to take over my flat here.”
Faith felt her jaw drop. “You’d be going with me?” She that Giles cared for her, but she hadn’t expected him to drop everything to go with her.
“Yes,” Giles answered simply.
“Oh, Giles!” Faith let out a war hoop of delight. This was her first real show of emotion since her return from the dead. “I thought for sure you’d want to stay here with Buffy like Oz and Tara will.”
“Buffy has Wesley and Lydia. She doesn’t need me. You do. Just give me a few days to get prepared.” Giles looked around the small apartment that had been his home for the last five years. He’d miss the old place, but Faith came first.
“This is so awesome, Giles.”
“I know you said you and Jesse weren’t connecting the way you used to, but what does he think of the move?” Giles asked.
Faith’s face lost the happy glow she’d just sported. “I don’t know about Jesse. All I know is that I need to get away from Sunnydale. If he comes with me, that’ll be great. If he doesn’t, I just don’t know.”
“I’ll make the arrangements while you speak to your friends,” Giles suggested.
“Okay.” Faith nodded. “I can do that. I’ll go talk to Jesse. He should be back from taking Hope to the airport.”
“How are you coping with her leaving like she did?” Giles looked at Faith with concern.
“I’ll miss her of course,” Faith assured Giles, even though she wasn’t too sure if she really would miss Hope or not. She wanted to feel normal, but all she really felt was apathetic. “It’s time for Hope to get out of Sunnydale too. If she’s not with me, nobody will know who she is. Besides, she has a lot of opportunities I’ll never get.”
“You’re as smart as your sister, Faith. You need to give yourself a little more credit.” Giles put his arm around Faith’s shoulders. “Cleveland is nothing like Sunnydale. You’ll be free to pursue other interests there besides slaying. You could even go to college.”
Faith snorted. “School and me were never friends, Giles. You know that.”
“Never say never, my dear.” Giles herded Faith to the door. “Go home. Talk to Jesse, and get some rest. You deserve it.”
“Okay, I know when I’m not welcome.” Faith rolled her eyes. She called back over her shoulder, “Hey, Anya, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”
Faith strolled away, whistling an aimless tune under her breath.
“My name is Anyanka,” the vengeance demon spluttered while she walked down the stairs of the apartment.
“That’s just Faith,” Giles replied. He closed the door and turned to face the disheveled female. “She gives everyone nicknames.”
“So, we’re moving to Cleveland, huh?” Anyanka wrinkled her nose. “That town is much bigger than Sunnydale. Although the Hellmouth is much smaller.” She tapped her chin with on finger. “A few years ago a very prestigious, exclusive boy’s school was built on top of it though.”
“A boy’s school?” Giles’ eyes widened. “I thought there was an abandoned insane asylum on top of it.”
“There was, but it burned down. Some idiot demon tried to open the Hellmouth, but it wasn’t powerful enough for his purposes.” Anyanka shrugged before she slinked her way over to Giles. “Now, Rupert. You can deal with all that in the morning.” She lifted the book from his hands and set it on a nearby table.
“Of course, luv,” Giles agreed.
Anyanka grabbed the collar of Giles’ shirt and dragged him towards the stairs.
“We’ll be hitting the city limits in a few.” Lawson reached over to shake Wesley’s shoulder. “How are we going to find the fucker?”
Wesley opened one eye. It was rare to hear Sam Lawson swear, but the dark-haired vampire did have a lot of issues with his Sire. “Go to Lorne’s. If anyone knows where Angel is, he does. I swear that demon has a finger on the pulse of the supernatural world.” He closed his eye again to return to his fantasy of long, leisurely kisses with Fred.
“All right, chief. You’re the boss.” Lawson pointed the car in the direction of Lorne’s demon nightclub.
Buffy curled up next to Spike’s side, laying her head on his chest. “I think we’re finally home, baby. Sunnydale is where we belong.”
“You really like it here, doncha?” Spike pulled Buffy closer and rubbed his thumb across the small of her back. He sighed when she threw her upper leg across his legs.
“Yeah, I really do.” Fearful of what he might say, Buffy closed her eyes and asked, “Is that okay with you, Spike? Would you prefer to keep travelling?”
“I don’t mind settlin’ down for a bit,” Spike replied. “Dot’s found herself a nice dogboy. The witchlet will be good for Lawson even if they don’t fall into a romance.”
“Oh thank God.” Buffy let out a breath of relief. “I thought I would have to seduce you into it.”
“You can still seduce me, pet.” Spike rolled over onto Buffy’s body. ‘Not sure I’ll put up much of a fight though.”
Buffy’s answering giggle was music to Spike’s ears. When she was happy, he was happy.
“Don’t know why you never told anyone we met Lorne before,” Lawson said when he pulled into the nightclub parking lot.
Wesley cleared his throat. “You know the saying ‘what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’. I came close to my jaw dropping when I heard that he was working with someone from Sunnydale.”
“How should we handle this, chief?” Lawson pulled into a parking spot, and he shut the motor off.
“Follow my lead.”
Lawson slid out of the car to follow Wesley inside the bar. There was one thing he knew without a doubt. There was no way he was singing for Lorne this time. Once was more than enough.
Lorne’s face lit up when he saw the newcomers. He hurried over to Wesley and Lawson as soon as he saw them. “Boy, am I glad to see you two!” he exclaimed.
“We’re here on business,” Wesley replied. He held out his hand to the empath in greeting.
“Don’t I know it!” Lorne gripped the offered hand. “This vamp has been coming in trying to get me to read his destiny.” He stuck a finger in one ear, and he twisted it in a cleaning motion.
Lawson and Wesley glanced at each other. Spike had mentioned that Angelus couldn’t carry a tune to save his life.
Wesley glanced around the club, looking for the broody vampire. “If he sang, you couldn’t reading him. What’s the problem?”
Lorne gave a noncommittal shrug. “The Powers that Be want me to keep it quiet. The bloodsucker is too Slayer obsessed to hear it now, that’s for sure.”
“Why keep it quiet? What does his Slayer obsession have to do with destiny?”
“His destiny isn’t with the Slayer, any of them. It never has been.” Lorne got a faraway look on his face. “There’s a prophecy about a vamp with a soul helping to end an apocalypse and becoming human, but our pal actually needs to participate not just stand back and watch like usual.”
“He’s already made an enemy of Wolfram and Hart. Harris wasn’t very happy to see him either,” Lorne said. “Angelcakes is biding his time until he can influence the Slayer without interference.”
“Sounds like we need to give Daddy Dearest another talking to. Where is he?” Lawson took his own look around the nightclub.
Lorne jerked his head towards the back of the main room. “He’s in some fierce negotiations with Harris back there. It seems the big lug wants in on the helping the hopeless gig.”
“Thanks, Lorne.” Lawson brushed past the green-skinned demon.
Wesley clapped Lorne on the shoulder as he moved past the demon to follow Lawson.
Lawson burst into the back room where he found Angel and a dark-haired human staring daggers at each other. “Daddy Dearest!” He opened his arms wide.
“Lawson!” Angel growled. “I thought I’d seen the last of you. What are you doing here?”
Wesley slipped into the room. “Just checking up on you, Angel. Can’t have you bothering the Slayers, after all.”
“What’s going on?” Xander studied the newcomers. The first one into the room – the one called Lawson – he was sure was a vamp. If he was a betting man, he’d say the second was a Watcher or had been a Watcher. “What do you mean by Slayers? That’s plural. There can be only one at a time according to Giles.”
“So, he didn’t tell you everything that’s been happening in Sunnydale?” Wesley raised an eyebrow. He should have known that Angel would only give out the barest amount of information possible to anyone he dealt with.
Xander shook his head while Angel glowered at the newcomers with murder in his eyes.
Xander glared at Angel. “Cordy and I went to Faith’s service, but we haven’t talked to anyone from Sunnydale until Deadboy here showed up on my doorstep.
Much to Angel’s dismay, Lawson and Wesley took turns informing Xander about the changes at the Hellmouth. When the tale was done – with much swearing on Xander’s part – the room fell quiet for a moment.
Xander pointed a finger at Angel. “I hate you. I’ve always hated you. While you were busy playing Captain Cryptic, my friend Jesse almost died, Faith did die, and that bitch that spawned you killed Miss Calendar.”
“None of that was my fault,” Angel protested.
“Shut up! I’m not done talking!” Xander yelled. “It’s obvious someone needs to keep an eye on you, and it’s apparently fallen to me.”
“I’m not a child.”
“No, you’re an idiot. At least a child can grow up.” Xander rose to his feet. “In this business, I’m the boss. In my absence, Gunn or Lindsey will be in charge. Your only job is to be muscle. If you step out of line, I will not hesitate to call this new Slayer or that Spike guy in to kick your ass.”
“If you don’t agree we can dust you on the spot.” To emphasize Lawson’s words, he and Wesley both pulled stakes from their pockets.
“I’m a champion. I can’t be dusted.”
“Pompous git,” Lawson growled.
Faith stood in the doorway of the bedroom. Jesse lay on the bed, staring at the ceiling.
“I’m leaving Sunnydale.” Faith leaned against the doorframe. “There’s a Hellmouth in Cleveland.”
“Do you want me to go with you?” Jesse asked. His fixed gaze didn’t leave the spot he was studying.
Faith shrugged. “I still love you. I know it, but it feels like we’ve moved on.”
Jesse finally turned his head to look at his girlfriend. “Hope and I were coping. We were adjusting to you being gone. I kissed her, but she was not a substitute.”
“Finally!” Faith threw her hands up in the air. “Is that why things have been so freaky? I was thinking it was just me.”
“Aren’t you mad?” Jesse was sure that Faith would flip out now that he admitted his secret. “It happened the night you came back, and it was only a couple of kisses.”
“I’m not really upset.” Faith stepped closer to Jesse. “I can’t explain it, but it’s like I knew that you’d moved on. I was dead. It’s only natural.”
“We didn’t plan it or anything.” Jesse sat up. “Before you died, I never thought of Hope as anything besides your little sister. Cute, but not my type.”
“Then, I died.”
Jesse nodded. “Then you died, and I spent all my time with her. None of the others grieved as much as we did.” He plucked at the bedspread. “Sure, they love you, and missed you, but they weren’t as close to you as Hope and I were.”
“Jesse, when I go to Cleveland, what are going to be doing?” Faith asked her now ex-boyfriend. She was pretty sure they had just broken up, but she had to be sure. “Are you staying here or coming with me?”
Jesse looked Faith dead in the face. “Neither. I’m moving to be with Hope.”
“I’ve found your information,” Giles said. He sat in the best parlor that Skald Hill Manor had to offer with Spike and Buffy.
Buffy gave Giles a hopeful look. “So, they both exist?”
Giles nodded. He removed some reference books out of his book bag. “They’re both here in Sunnydale. You just need to find them.”
Spike and Buffy looked at each other in excitement. An ultimate Slayer weapon and vampire invulnerability would come in handy during a fight.
“Thanks, Giles!” Buffy hopped up to hug the Watcher.
“You’re welcome, Buffy.” Giles put an arm around the young woman, and he patted her shoulder in an awkward manner. He gasped for breath when she tightened her embrace.
“Don’t squish the Watcher, pet.”
“Oh, sorry.” Buffy blushed as she dropped her arms.
“Not a problem.” Giles assured the young woman. “I’m quite used to it. Now there’s more I need to tell you.”
Buffy glanced at Spike with concern. Nothing they had come across about the weapon or the gem had caused them alarm. She turned back to Giles. “About our research?”
Giles shook his head. “No, I wanted to let you both know that Faith, Anya, and I are moving to Cleveland. It seems that Faith got a visitor last night. A nun by the name of Edith told Faith that William needed to know that she’s happy and that she approves of his choice. You’re the only William I know.”
Spike stared at Giles for a moment. “Drusilla had a doll named Miss Edith. She carried it everywhere with her.”
“Could this be her apparition?”
Spike shrugged. “It wouldn’t surprise me. Drusilla had a way of knowing things. She always did.” He was lost in thought for a few moments before Giles changed the subject back to Cleveland.
“Have either of you been to Cleveland during your travels?”
Buffy shook her head, and she looked at Spike.
“No, I haven’t been there m’self either, but I know the Hellmouth isn’t as active as this one,” Spike said. He had a thoughtful look on his face.
“There’s a boy’s school over it.” Giles let out an ironic chuckle. “Wonder what it is about Hellmouths and schools? I’ll be sending in an application for the librarian position.”
Buffy let out a giggle. “We know the principal. We set him up there in Cleveland. His mom was a Slayer.”
“The pillock and I don’t get on, but he adores Buffy.” Spike’s eyes narrowed, and he growled under his breath.
Buffy rolled her eyes. “You two would get along just fine if you hadn’t killed her mother.”
“You found Nikki Wood’s son?” Giles looked astonished. “He and Nikki’s Watcher Bernard Crowley disappeared. It was thought that her…” He looked at Spike. “You didn’t touch them, did you?”
Spike shook his head. “I was interested in the Slayer, not her hanger ons.”
“So, if you’d come after Faith, you wouldn’t have been interested in the rest of us?” Giles asked in astonishment. He had studied Angelus’ tactics, assuming that Spike would operate the same way.
“I’m into the fight, Watcher. Always have been.” Spike rose to his feet, and he went to pour himself a drink. “Darla liked young boys.”
Giles nodded. “She tried to attack Jesse, but Faith rescued him. That’s how they met.”
“Angelus prefers the innocent.” Spike turned to Giles. “Like I said before, my sire was supposed to be a nun before he got his hands on her.”
“I’m glad I wasn’t called first,” Buffy replied. “I would have fallen so fast for his crap.” She went to Spike to cuddle close to his body.
“I’m glad too.” Spike gave the blond woman a quick kiss. “Dru liked children. The orphanages were always her choice.”
“Has being with Buffy really changed you that much?”
“She has a way of making a monster want to be a man.” Spike stared into Buffy’s teary green eyes.
Oz awoke to find himself naked and nestled against the back of an equally unclothed body. Casual sex had never been something he was interested in, and it had been a long time since he’d found himself in such a situation. Even though they had engaged in some serious kissing the night before, Oz wondered how Dot would react to their positions.
Dot yawned and stretched. She enjoyed the feeling of the lean body and hard cock pressed against her. She slowly rolled over and gazed deeply into Oz’s serene eyes.
Oz’s fingers brushed the bite marks on Dot’s shoulder. “Mine,” he growled.
“Yours. All yours.” Dot pulled Oz’s head down to hide her face in his shoulder where she buried her teeth in his skin.
Oz arched into Dot’s soft body. He let out a wild, feral bellow so unlike his usual quiet self. One hand clutched at his mate’s rounded hip. The fingers buried themselves in her flesh when she broke away to finish the werewolf claim.
“Mine, Oz,” Dot growled like Oz had earlier.
“Yours!” Oz pushed Dot onto her back, covered her blood-stained lips with his own, and thrust his cock home into her pliant body.
“Cleveland Boy’s School, how can I help you?”
“Robin!” Buffy smiled when the man finished his spiel.
“Buffy, I wasn’t expecting to hear from you.” Robin’s voice boomed through the receiver. “How’s California?”
“Sunnydale is great. We’ve decided to settle down here.” Buffy twirled the cord in her fingers. “It’s been weird here though.” Then, she proceeded to tell Robin about Faith, the resurrection, and everything else that had happened since her group’s arrival at the Hellmouth.
“That sounds fairly traumatic,” Robin commented. “What do you need from me?”
“Faith and Giles are moving to Cleveland. They’ll need access to the Hellmouth.”
“I am in need of a librarian.” Robin flipped open a folder in front of him. “The person I hired backed out of the contract at the last second, and the second choice found an alternate job already.”
“From everything I’ve heard, Giles was the high school librarian for two and a half years before the school blew up.”
“Have him fax me his résumé.” Robin rattled off his fax number which Buffy wrote down on her pad of paper.
“I’ll do that.” Buffy assured Robin. After a few more minutes of catching up, she said her good-bye.
“How’s the educator?” Spike drawled. He and Wood had come to an understanding over the death of Nikki Wood, but the two men were not friends.
“Seems to be doing good, actually.” Buffy shrugged. “You know Robin tends to be a bit close-mouthed.”
“Mm,” Spike hummed. He pushed off the doorjamb he was leaning against. He went to Buffy and pulled her into his arms.
“Did you talk to Lawson and Wes?” Buffy put her arms around her mate.
“Yeah, they went to check on the poofter.” Spike rested his chin on the top of Buffy’s head. “He’s in Los Angeles. He’s hooked up with that friend of the other Slayer. Harris or whatever his name is.”
“Hooked up? I thought they said that guy was married.” Buffy pulled away to look up into Spike’s face.
The blond vampire let out a snort. “Not like that, pet. It appears Angelus is going to be doin’ his part to help the hopeless.”
“As long as he stays away from us.”
“I agree.” Spike tightened his grip on Buffy. “Sam and Wes will be back tonight. They’re spendin’ the day in Los Angeles.”
“Okay, what’s next on our agenda?” Buffy asked.
“You’re the boss, pet.”
Buffy stepped back with a grin. “We have a few hours till sundown. Let’s go back to bed.” She grabbed Spike’s hand, and she dragged him towards their bedroom.
“I’m picking Reginald up at the airport in an hour or so.” Lydia collected her purse and car keys. She glanced at Giles. “Your Slayer is really moving to Cleveland?”
“We’re not needed here,” Giles said. His manner was calm and collected. “Buffy has it covered quite nicely.”
“You’re leaving?” the werewolf’s voice sounded loud in the quiet store. Oz and Dot slipped into the Magic Box through the back door.
Giles turned to look at Oz and Dot. He noticed that they were holding hands. “Yes, that is correct. Faith and I are moving to another Hellmouth.”
“What about Jesse?” Oz glanced at Dot. He had no plans on leaving his new mate, but he had to wonder if his old buddy was planning to stay or go.
“Faith is supposed to talk to him,” Giles replied.
Faith stepped into the room behind Oz and Dot. “He’s not coming with us,” she announced.
“So, he’s staying?”
Faith shook her head. “He’s following Hope. She needs him.”
“Is that going to be a problem?” Giles was concerned. Faith needed all the support she could get when she moved. He had thought for sure that Jesse would be joining them in Cleveland.
Faith shrugged. “It’s five by five, Watcher man. We’ve both moved on.”
“I’m off to get Reggie.” Lydia gave a wave before she left the shop.
“I need to ring the real estate agency.” Giles picked up the phone book. “Hopefully, we’ve changed the reputation of this location. Too many proprietors of this store have been killed over the years.”
Dot tilted her head while her eyes scanned the store. “I have my own money. I’ll buy the Magic Box.”
Anyanka popped into the store. “Did someone say money?”
“Dot offered to buy the Magic Box,” Giles informed his mate.
“Excellent news.” Anyanka hooked her arm through Dot’s. “Let’s go negotiate the sale, girlfriend.”
Dot gave Oz a ‘help me’ stare before she let the vengeance demon drag her into the back room.
“If this works out, our move to Cleveland should go smoothly.” Giles took off his glasses to give them a good polish.
“Now, you’ve jinxed us,” Faith teased.
“We should have a farewell shindig,” Oz said.
“Are you sure we don’t deserve a hootenanny?” Faith turned her teasing to include Oz too. “Or maybe we should do a gathering? What was the difference again besides the smelly cheese?”
Oz gave a dry chuckle. It was good to see Faith acting a bit like her old self again.
Three days later Jesse was packed up and gone. With nothing to hold him in Sunnydale, he hurried to join Hope in England. Jesse and Hope married as soon as Hope graduated college. She joined the ranks of the Watchers while he became her research assistant. They travelled the world cataloguing the different demon species.
Giles and Anyanka exchanged their blood vows before leaving Sunnydale for the Cleveland Hellmouth. It was a beautiful ceremony, even if the bridesmaids did wear burlap and larva. Halfrek aka Cecily tried to chat Spike up on several occasions only to find herself on the receiving end of the Slayer’s fist. Halfrek quickly learned to stay away from her former suitor.
At the going away party, Reginald Bey fell instantly in love with Joyce Summers. Within months they eloped in Vegas and were married by Clem’s Elvis impersonating cousin at a demonic wedding chapel. They took a leisurely honeymoon visiting all of Joyce’s galleries, ending in Rome where the Immortal presented them with the deed for a gallery in Madrid, Spain, for a wedding present. However, Sunnydale was where their family was, and after a brief stay in Madrid they returned home.
When Lydia Chambers met the Immortal at the same party, she happily handed all of her research over to Reggie Bey. It seemed she found herself a new thesis subject. She followed the Immortal back to Rome where she quickly scared off the bevy of beauties she saw as competition for his affections. The Immortal never quite figured out how Lydia managed such a feat. He’s been trying to get rid of the women for years.
Spike and Buffy ruled the Sunnydale Hellmouth for decades before they decided to move on, but their legacy lasted centuries. The local demon tribes worked together to ensure the Hellmouth stayed closed. They outlived most of their friends and family, but as long as they had each other, they were happy.
Wes and Fred followed the others down the path of commitment. Wesley proposed to the love of his life at the farewell party. They then spent the next year planning the perfect wedding. The only dark spot was when Wes’ father showed up to lambast him on his choices. Buffy called in Faith. The Slayers sent the man home with his tail between his legs with a message to the Council; ‘Don’t mess with anyone the Slayers’ care about’.
Clem showed up at the party with a beautiful human woman named Jack Reitz. It turned out that she was a bartender at the Bronze. Clem and Jack suited each other despite the interspecies prejudices they tended to receive from those outside the Slayer’s circle of friend. Those inside the circle didn’t blink an eye.
Dot and Oz stayed in Sunnydale for a few years before they travelled to Nepal in search of ways to control their wolves. They wanted to start a family, and they both wanted any children of the union to lead as normal of lives as possible.
It took Lawson and Tara several years of dancing around each other before they gave in to their desires. Tara never forgot the conversation with Spike and Buffy about the pleasure of vamp bites. She decided that Lawson was the only vampire she trusted enough to teach her about biting. When she finally went to him, the passion flared, and she found herself tied to him much like Buffy was tied to Spike.
Angel lost his interest in Faith when a new obsession crossed his path. It seemed though that matter what he did no woman or man returned his interest. He barely remembered the gypsy woman Jenny Calendar that Harris had mentioned that Darla had killed. He had only been interested in Faith at the time. Little did Angel know that Faith’s slight revulsion of him had inspired Jenny to find and alter the curse on his soul shortly before her death. Jenny made it so that no man or woman – human or demon – would return Angel’s affections.
Faith met Robin Wood and the sparks flew.
“Who are you?” Robin looked at the woman from head to toe. She was hot, but she was liable to cause havoc in the school’s population of male teenagers.
“I’m Giles’ assistant.” Faith returned the man’s once over. She liked what she saw.
“What you are wearing is inappropriate for our school.” Robin waved his hand. “The pants are too tight, and the shirt shows too much skin.”
Faith wetted her ruby red lips with the tip of her tongue. “You must be Principal Wood. None of my principals looked as hot as you. I might have stayed in school longer if they did.” She flashed the man a sultry grin. “Are you going to take me to your office and show me your paddle?”
Robin counted to ten while he tried hard not to respond in a manner not befitting a high school principal. There’s nothing I’d like to do better, little girl, he thought. He fought not to reach down to adjust himself. “And you must be Ms. Lehane. You’re right, I do have something to show you in my office.”
“Your paddle?” Faith wiggled an eyebrow at the man, hoping to fluster him.
Robin rolled his eyes. “Just what I need, a slayer with a one track mind in a boy’s school.”
“Don’t worry, Principal Wood. I like men, not boys.”