Chapter 1: Prologue
Chains are what you use when you're afraid; I mean piss your pants afraid.
Prison is for people who you are that afraid of; it's just a modern version.
It's a way of locking that thing up, letting the stupid people across the country sleep without nightmares, without fear.
Guards are put at the gates, bars on the doors; don't let the murderer escape.
This prisoner got out for good behavior... let's see how you sleep now.
Chapter 2: Being Unleashed
Wesley ran a hand through his messy hair and wished he had brought a comb. Of course, the Watchers council hadn’t felt it necessary to give him time to get ready. They felt all Watchers (retired, active or exiled) should always be on high alert for the council to drop by. Like that was really his biggest concern at the moment with everything going on.
The prison guard looked at him strangely but shrugged it off, having met the prisoner himself and questioning who her acquaintances would be. “Judge Mercer has cleared all the paperwork, you just have to collect your ward.”
Wesley nodded and resurrected some of his strict British upbringing and demanding Watcher training, even momentarily forgetting how not the part he looked. “Of course. Lead the way, please. I would like to get this over with as soon as possible.”
The guard again shrugged, having seen enough strange occurrences every day that no one in particular could get a rise of emotion out of him. So what if this guy was supposed to be by-the-book responsible? Wasn’t his problem. He led the man to the cell and followed him in. Standing outside the door, content at a job done by the books.
Wesley walked in and took his seat, thankful the prisoner was seated across the table from him, even if the handcuffs weren’t very comforting. Wesley didn’t have long to feel uncomfortable, as the prisoner fixed her gaze on him almost immediately, studying him long and hard. Wesley grumbled, his now normally short temper threatening to give way. “Well, are you ready to leave this place, or shall we sit here recounting the past?”
Faith leaned across the table and grinned. Wesley was more rugged, his hair messy, voice sharp and demanding… and that nasty scar on his neck didn’t hurt the image. Of course, her Slayer nose could pick up the distinct smells of recent sex and old evil, and she knew that this man wasn’t the stuffy Watcher she remembered. “I’m impressed Wesley, didn’t think you had it in you!” It was easier to focus on the now than their past - what she'd done to him in their past.
Wesley’s gaze fell to his coat as he sighed deeply. “What impressed you so?”
Faith grinned, the handcuffs seemingly falling off of her as she reached forward to grasp his sweaty palms. “I mean, I always knew you weren’t all stuffy Watcher - had that thing for Cordy, didn’t you? - but I never figured you for such a bad-ass. Way to go, Wes.”
Wesley pulled his hands away from her cold ones, and had the decency to look outraged. He gritted his teeth. “You don’t know the first thing about me, Faith.”
Faith slid out of the chair fluidly, more gracefully than before. Not just sexy but smooth, like a cat on the prowl. “Oh, yeah, I do. Had some time to hone my instincts, locked up in here. Seems to me you’ve been sleeping with someone who’s not entirely the goody-two-shoes type,” she rested her arms on the table much too close to Wesley. “I can smell stuff like that now. Learned my lesson, paid my debt; I’m a good little Slayer now.”
Wesley pushed the chair back abruptly and stood up, his back rigid from anger. “My love life is none of your concern. If I had a choice in the matter, I wouldn’t be here. Now gather your things and come with me.”
Faith shrugged unconcernedly, following him without a second thought. “If I had a say, you wouldn’t be here either. But hey, gave up my choice back in Sunnyhell, didn’t I?”
Wesley stopped at the door, turning gruffly. “I’m sorry, were you under the impression I cared?” He then pulled open the door and strode out, knowing she had no alternative but to follow.
Spike banged the side of his TV, trying to get the thing to turn on, but to no avail. “Bloody hell,” he lamented, “power must be buggered up again.”
Sighing, the vampire exited his crypt and hunted for the power lines in the back. Sure enough, there was a cut in the line. “Bloke just can’t catch a break,” he was instantly reminded of his kind-of-relationship with Buffy, just as everything else reminded him, “figures.”
He wasn’t sure how much more of this flat-out denial with her friends he could take. It was one thing to pretend they weren’t sleeping together, it was quite another to all out humiliate him every chance she got.
Spike cautiously picked up the two ends of the power line as he darted a quick glance around the cemetery. “Living on the Hellmouth, power in the cemetery, and these people can’t get it through their bleeding skulls to put lighting in the place.”
Shrugging, he pushed the two power lines together with a little more force then was required. The connection resulted in a large spark, with Spike still holding onto both lines. The resounding shock through his body was enough to send the vampire flying back into his crypt wall.
Spike stood up with surprise, brushing off some dirt that had gathered on his duster from the tumble. There was a terrible pounding in his brain that kept him bent over, hands to his head, like the chip on steroids. That was when Spike spotted the other chewed wires and correctly assumed he’d meshed the wrong ones together. “Why I never bothered faffing about with electricity,” he decided resolutely.
When the pain had subsided slightly, Spike stood straight and stared out into the dark. Something was off. “Where’re all the buggery lights?”
Normally he could see some lights from outside the cemetery. He blinked twice, tried his game face and blinked again, but all was dark. “Shock's probably done in my vision!”
Sighing, the vampire cautiously made his way back inside his crypt, where he promptly dropped down to his bed to sleep off the remaining headache.
Anya shouted over the monopoly board, “PAY UP!”
Dawn grumbled and handed over the fake money to the greedy ex-vengeance demon's hand. In her opinion this game was never fun, unless she could goad Spike into playing with her and then pretend not to notice when he cheated. “Gee, talk about a sore winner.”
Xander attempted to diffuse the tension between the two as he offered, “No harm, everyone’s still in the game, right?” at the glares he received, Xander attempted a different tactic, “Uh, isn’t it Buffy’s turn?”
Anya grinned widely. “Ooh yes, roll and land on one of my ridiculously expensive hotels, Buffy!”
Dawn, seeing her sister was floating somewhere in outer space, snapped her fingers in front of the Slayer's face and asked, “Hello? Earth to Buffy!?” It was her job as little sister, after all.
Buffy’s eyes abruptly focused as she pushed the offending hand out of her face and turned wide, innocent eyes to the rest of the group. “What?”
Xander sighed, running a hand through his properly gelled, if somewhat messy, hair, and casting a nervous glance at the clock. At this rate, the game would be over sometime next week. “It’s your turn, Buff.”
“Oh,” Buffy smiled wide, picked up the dice, shook them, and tossed them back on the board.
Dawn let out a loud whoop. “An eight, that’s MY hotel!” she stuck her tongue out at Anya, “Take that!”
Buffy picked up her racecar and dutifully moved it eight spaces on the board. Sure enough, it was one of Dawn’s hotels, a gaudy red thing set up on Atlantic Avenue. Buffy moved to her monopoly cash so she could pay her little sister, even as she noticed Anya pouting that Buffy hadn’t landed on one of her hotels.
Willow and Tara returned from collecting more snacks from the kitchen, and Willow noticed the impending exchange of money. “Didn’t miss much, did we?”
There was a strange buzzing sound, and it went pitch black in the Summers' household.
Anya let out a small shriek and cuddled closer to her fiancé. Buffy dropped the fake money and crawled to where she knew Dawn was, thankful when she felt her sister’s hand reaching out for her. Willow, who had been standing by a wall, felt for the light switch with one hand, and grabbed Tara’s free hand with her other. Finding it, she flicked it down, then up, then down again. Nothing. “Uh, guys, it’s not the switch…”
Tara carefully set the snacks down and murmured something in Latin, causing a glowing orb of light to appear in the center of the room. “Better?” she asked weakly.
Buffy took stock of the situation quickly. First things first: “Is everyone okay?”
The assembled Scooby Gang all nodded that they were fine, and Xander peaked out a window from his position on the couch. “Uh, Buff, I don’t see any lights.”
Everyone rushed to the window, the orb following with a command from Tara, and they stared out into the complete darkness of Sunnydale at night. Dawn’s eyes were wide. “That can’t be good.”
Chapter 3: Freed Killers
Faith swung out of the car and slammed the door, though not hard enough to break it. She leaned over and spoke through the rolled down window, “See ya, thanks for the ride!”
Wesley glowered at the rogue Slayer from the driver's seat. “Remember, stay out of trouble… you’re my responsibility according to the Watchers and the state of California.”
“You mean I can’t kill anybody?” Faith asked innocently, then rolled her eyes and laughed, “Don’t worry, Wes, I’ll be one of the good guys. Pinky promise.”
Wesley grumbled something about her being patronizing, but was never more pleased than to pull the car away and leave that Slayer far behind.
Faith, for her part, made sure to flip Wesley off before the car was out of sight. It was both satisfying and oddly freeing, because no matter what he said, she wasn’t anybody's responsibility anymore.
Swinging her new biker leather jacket over her shoulder - courtesy of a pit stop on the way from L.A. and a biker with a bad attitude - Faith took her first few confident steps back out into the world. As much as she hated to admit it, some of that psych-shit they had made her go through in jail had actually worked, actually helped some of her issues, even if it never erased the guilt she did her best to hide.
Of course, confidence had never been something she had been lacking, and it was a good way to avoid any vamps tonight. “I don’t want to deal with demons yet,” Faith muttered to herself as she came to a quick decision.
“I need a place to stay…” A place to stay that was far enough away from B and the cemeteries, “And I know just the spot.”
Hoping she didn’t run into the other Slayer any time soon, Faith cautiously made her way to a rundown group of apartments just on the edge of Sunnyhell that wouldn't ask any questions. “Perfect…”
The headache not going away had quickly told Spike there was a problem, a big problem. It didn’t help that when he woke up the lights in Sunnyhell were still off and all the demons were out and about.
Deciding that he needed to find out what was going on and avoid demons that wanted to pick fights with him - which, admittedly, was pretty much all of them - until his head stopped pounding, Spike emerged from his crypt and headed to the more humanly populated areas of the town. He shook his head several times, trying to clear it, but it only seemed to make things worse.
Walking steadily, Spike headed towards the only place he could think of that might hold a cure for his headache, the Bronze, and a lot of alcohol. He entered the building and promptly was run into by a great hulking human, blind in the dark. “Oi, watch it, mate.”
The guy stared unseeingly at Spike and shrugged. “Can’t see, dude. Get out of the way.”
Rolling his eyes, Spike obligingly stepped out of the man’s way, turning to continue into the bar only to be decked by a stray fist from what looked to be a huge fight. Shocked by the strength in the punch, Spike took a step back, trying to get out of the brawl. Not that he habitually backed away from fights - but presumably the majority of the Bronze denizens were actually human. Spike didn't need an even bigger headache.
This highly drunk individual didn’t quite understand who Spike was, nor did he care, and followed after the flash of white-blonde hair he could see, still throwing punches. “Coward, get in here and fight like a man!”
Realizing that at this point his headache couldn’t get much worse, and getting decidedly pissed off at the persistence of this idiot, Spike took aim and threw a punch with all his might. The man went down and, surprisingly, the pain was gone.
Spike stood there in shock for a moment before deciding that something must have gone wrong. Maybe he had accidentally punched some demon in disguise - he was in pain, it would make sense that he couldn’t smell the difference. Didn't migraines affect the sense of smell? He sighed and looked for another human-smelling foe, just in case his nose wasn't buggered up. “Here goes.”
Catching the man from behind, Spike made sure he was planning the most harm to this innocent man that he could think of before he swung, aiming for the head. Again the man went down, and again, Spike felt no pain. “Two strikes down, third’s the charm.”
Grabbing another individual, a girl this time, Spike slipped into game face and hovered his fangs over neck, figuring if that wouldn’t get his chip firing, he was off free. He bit and nothing happened. He let the girl sink to the floor, relatively unharmed, too shocked for the moment at the taste of blood and the lack of pain in his head to do anything.
Finally, a wicked smirk passed over the vampire’s features. If it was a brawl they wanted… “Oi, all you bloody wankers, over here. Thrashings for all.”
He watched with vampire eyes as throngs of mortals came at him, undeterred by the pitch black of the night, following the insult in the middle of a brawl. As the blood began to splatter, Spike whooped from under the five that had flung themselves on top of him, feeling better than he had in ages. “Oh yeah, the Big Bad is back.”
“Whoa, I said back the hell off. I was just looking for a place,” Faith raised an eyebrow and simultaneously put her hands up in both a calming gesture and a ‘just try it’ one at the same time.
The landlord of the sleazy apartment complex grinned drunkenly at Faith. “That’s right, little lady, and this is definitely a place of… places.” He scratched at his balding head slightly and sized Faith up for both her looks and her likeliness to pay him, ever. “Look, you want a place or not?”
Taking a quick moment to review the confines of the apartment, Faith grudgingly nodded. It was what she needed all right; far enough away from all the people - and demons - gunning for her but still in town. Plus she was more than sure that the landlord could be persuaded to leave her to herself with either cash or fists. “Yeah, sure.”
Nodding slowly, the landlord put out his hand for the previously discussed first month's rent up front. Faith bent down to retrieve the money out of her bag, turning slightly away from the landlord, who took the opportunity to check out her ass. “Consider yourself one of our fine community members.”
Faith was digging through her bag quickly and still keeping most her senses focused on the other human in the room just in case he proved stupid enough to try something. Sure enough, she caught his hand moving out of the corner of her eye but didn’t move quite fast enough to avoid a slap on the ass. “Man, you need to chill out,” she kept her tone even as she handed him the money.
However, the landlord’s grin was taking on definite leering tones and he was just drunk and stupid enough to act on the thoughts he was having. Grabbing the money hastily out of Faith’s outstretched hand, he adjusted his pants and grinned wider. “Sure thing little lady, just so long as I get the other part of the rent.”
She watched his gaze travel across her body before she did anything, just to be double sure she’d gotten his meaning right. After all, Faith didn’t plan on making the killing of humans a habit again, but she was sure she could make an exception for this creep. Of course that could lose her the apartment.
Making up her mind quickly, Faith surged forward, grabbing the short-but-fat man by his neck with one hand and twisting his arm around behind his back with the other. Slamming him into the nearest wall and noting with satisfaction that it hadn’t cracked, Faith tightened her hold, threatening to both choke the man to death and to break his arm. “I think you'd better get your ass out of here and not come back.”
When the landlord nodded in numb fright, Faith settled for the latter of her options and pushed harder on the arm she had in her hold until she heard the telltale sound of snapping bone and her money slipped out of his sweaty palm and to the floor as he let out a high-pitched scream. With a cold grin, Faith bent to pick up the cash, letting the man go. “I’ll just be keeping this now. We understand each other?”
The landlord nodded, making sharp little whimpering sounds and hastily moving away from the angry and vicious brunette. Cradling his broken arm gingerly, he quickly made the decision that he was never going to get any money out of this tenant because there was no chance of him coming back to collect it. He couldn’t call the cops either, because he had other, more shady, tenants as well. “Perfect, we understand each other just perfect, uh, Miss.”
Faith watched with the same evil grin on her face until the sweaty, bald man had left and shut the door behind him. Then, allowing herself to relax again, Faith picked up her bag and tossed it towards the couch before flopping down on her new bed.
She didn’t even try to flip on the power because, as she’d already noticed and been told on no uncertain terms, power was out in all of Sunnyhell. Deciding the place would most certainly do, for now, she sunk down into sleep, not bothering with the lock on the door. “Guess this is home for a while. Sure beats prison.”
Buffy Summers stared at the phone incredulously, looking for all the world like it had sprouted another head and tried to eat everyone in the room. Which, considering that this was Sunnydale, it was a very likely possibility. However, no such demonic event had taken place. “What do you mean, you don’t know when the power will be back?”
Faced with yet another of their very irritated customers, the depressed voice of one of the power company’s employees answered through the receiver carefully. The last woman they had encountered had threatened to blow up the building, which had been one of the better calls. His friend Bob had been cursed by an especially pissed off witch. “Ma’am, there appears to be a fault in a cemetery line.”
“So,” Buffy asked, incredulous and mentally calculating her power bill for the month and already planning her speech promising they would never get a dime out of her for it because of this beautiful mess up. “Get someone to fix the power. Preferably now.”
The employee on the other end looked at the phone, and all around the blackness of the room where he was being forced to answer phones, and lamented that he was not being paid enough for this job. Especially with the possibility of being cursed. He was so not being paid enough. “Look, the last time there was an out in a cemetery the crew we sent all suffered unfortunate deaths just after restoring power. Nobody is willing to go out there.”
Buffy sighed; this would be the one group of people in the town who had actually figured out that wandering cemeteries was a bad thing and they were the only people that could restart the power. Resigning herself that even when it was a normal thing, demons were going to be the doom of her, Buffy asked, “What if I could promise your crew one hundred percent safety? With a side of a no death policy?”
Conceding that this was a much better deal than his own company could promise any of its members, or the people who supported it in the town of Sunnydale, the employee nodded, then remembered he was on a phone. “That might work, Ma’am. May I ask how?”
Motioning her friends closer from where they were scattered around the room, talking by the light of Tara’s glowy orb, Buffy tried to sound as reassuring and mature as she could. All commanding and Slayer-like, “We have a group,” she paused, “of bodyguards, if you will. We’ll meet your crew at the cemetery in an hour.”
Very encouraged by the possibility of power being restored, the man quickly said the one thing he knew was required, “So long as it’s free, you have yourself a deal, Ma’am. I’ll make sure the electricians meet you there at the gates of Evergreen Cemetery.”
She hung up the phone with a click, assured that there would be people there who had the know-how to fix whatever had happened to the power lines. Smiling brightly at her friends, Buffy sarcastically announced, “We’re off on a mission of great importance, Scoobies: we have to go guard the power-peoples so that they can bring light back to our town.”
Without comment, her friends hurried off to find the weapons they would need, just in case any vampires or assorted other nasty demons decided keeping the lights out was a good thing. Buffy grabbed her coat, and didn’t even protest when she saw Dawn do the same. For the most part, this looked to be an exceedingly boring night and the chances of real danger were less than if her sister were home alone. “Let the funness begin.”
Chapter 4: Dodging Demons
The Bronze had seemed like just the place to unwind and blow off some prison steam. Except, apparently everyone else had that idea as well. And they'd lost, judging by the multitudes of frat boys passed out on the floor, just barely visible in the dim club interior. Sunnydale had a serious power problem.
Faith let out a low whistle. "Helluva party going on tonight."
"Looking to join in, love?" Slurred a very English voice from the depths of the Bronze.
Faith wandered inside, keeping a sharp eye out until she determined that the only person awake was a white-haired punk situated at the bar and looking like he'd already drunk half the place dry. "That an invitation?"
Spike shrugged, taking another swig of Jack. It had been exhilarating, at first, caught up in a proper bar fight with something other than sweaty demons three times his size with ooze in truly disgusting places. But then all the puny humans had crumpled or fled and Spike had found himself at a bit of a loss. Was he supposed to bite one of them? Hardly fair when they weren't even putting up a proper fight. Poor buggers couldn't even see in the dark. And Buffy wouldn’t - sod Buffy. So he'd decided what he'd needed was a nice drink. And then a few more. And since it was an open bar, he'd figured there wasn't much point in leaving. Except now Buffy was all he could think about. Every scenario he imagined ended up with him as a big old pile of dust, and he hadn't even done anything yet. "Suit yourself."
Faith edged closer, lured by the promise of free booze after the forced sobriety of prison. Except about three paces in the door her vamp senses started tingling. Faith froze, immediately adopting a loose fighting stance.
Spike shot out of his seat. Slayer. "You're not Buffy."
Of course. B might as well have been the center of the universe - everything came back to her. Faith offered a cocky shrug instead. "Got it in one. I am a Slayer though, and you're a vampire… so if it's a rumble you were looking for, why not take on someone your own size?"
Shaking his head to clear a bit of the alcohol, Spike squinted at the brunette Slayer across the room. She looked - jumpy. "You're the one the Watchers banged up in jail? Bloody shame that."
Eyeing him warily, Faith took a few steps closer, thrown off by his casual attitude and the lack of immediate attack. This close, he looked more than familiar, and it took her a beat to realize why - she'd met him, wearing Buffy's body. Well, wasn't that a kick in the pants. Her memories of that time were a bit fuzzy, like they'd happened to someone else, and in a lot of ways they had, but he was unforgettable. William the Bloody with a chip in his head. Only he didn't exactly look like a dog on a leash. No point in letting on that they'd met, especially if she was just going to have to kill him in a few minutes. "That's right. I'm Faith. You?"
"Spike." He grabbed a remaining bottle of Jack and tossed it at the Slayer, so quick that she barely caught it. Her reflexes weren't bad, but they weren't Buffy's either. "Drink?"
The bottle was solid and tempting in her hand. But really fucking confusing, too. "Thanks. So, what, you're gonna try to soften me up and lure me into some trap? 'Cos I gotta warn you, ain't gonna happen."
Spike shrugged, polishing off another bottle in one long swig. "Traps require a lot of bloody effort. I prefer to take my chances and see what happens."
Taking a hearty swig of her own, Faith regarded the blonde vampire curiously. He was hot, for a vamp. If she recalled, he wasn't exactly opposed to Slayers either. "You sound like my kinda guy; except for the whole evil undead bit."
The neck of the bottle in his grip shattered and Spike tossed it inelegantly to the floor, shaking the glass from his hand with a derisive snort. "Slayers. You're all the same."
"Now I know you aren't lumping me in with B because Slaying's about the only thing we got in common." Faith needed another drink if they were going to be talking about Buffy. "Besides, I thought evil undead was kinda B's thing."
Spike let out a humorless laugh, licking the blood from his hand. "Not the way she tells it." And he glowered at the empty bottle, wishing it were Angel's neck he'd broke instead. Bloody poofter. A hundred years and he was still paying for Angel's messes.
Faith reached for another bottle and slid it down the bar to Spike. "Yeah, well, B never knew how to lighten up. Now me, I don't go in for that melodramatic reflection crap. It's all fighting and fucking and going hard or going home."
Taking a bleary drunken moment to appraise the darker Slayer sat next to him, Spike couldn’t help but grin, tongue curling up. He liked the bird. "Fuck going home."
Their bottles clanked and cracked and splashed as they knocked them together, vampire and Slayer, alone in the Bronze with a whole bar at their disposal.
The electricians were huddled together in a nervous knot when the Scoobies arrived. They started and looked about fearfully into the dark, the bravest managing, "Who's there?" before the others quickly shushed him.
Xander sauntered forward into their little circle of flashlights, his own flashlight preceding him and an axe hitched jauntily over his shoulder. "No fear, fellas, the Scooby Gang is here!"
The electricians blinked and remained suspicious in their tight little group, clearly unimpressed.
Xander's smile faded a bit. "That sounded more impressive in my head."
Joining him, Anya patted him reassuringly on the arm that was not hefting the axe. "I'm sure it did."
Joining the loose circle, Willow offered the terrified men a small wave. "Don't worry, guys. We're much scarier than we look. Oh, wait. Not for you. I mean for the scary things out here that - we're not the scary things and…"
Buffy rounded out the rear, busy finishing a lecture to Dawn about not wandering off. She caught up to them when Willow was mid-babble and attempted to rescue her friend. "Hi, I'm Buffy, and we're your bodyguards reporting for cemetery duty. We'll get you in and out safely so that you can get the power back on. Deal?"
Anya huffed. "I still think we should be charging them."
"We're not charging them!" Buffy hissed, annoyed, then turned and offered what she hoped was a reassuring smile to the electricians. "We're not charging you."
Though not the most professional of entrances, the electricians apparently decided that the Scoobies were not, at least, Scary Things. The bold one stepped out of the group and nodded gruffly to the foreboding cemetery gates. "Whatever you say. Let's just get this over with." Personally, he was still of the opinion that this was a terrible idea. He resolved to ask the union for a pay raise if he survived the night.
Taking the lead, Buffy slid open the well-oiled gates and marched purposefully through the cemetery, hoping that someone else knew what they were looking for.
The rest of the Scoobies intermingled with the electricians in an attempt to make them feel safer, Anya and Xander bringing up the rear and Dawn trying to stick as close to Buffy as she could get away with.
Thankfully, the power company had sent them armed with a map with the downed line marked with an ominous red X.
Buffy could have kicked something when she realized they were headed right to Spike's crypt. Of course. She motioned the rest of the Scoobies to spread out. "You guys keep an eye out for any trouble. I'll just, " beat the crap out of Spike, "keep guard here."
Dawn was squinting through the dark with sudden interest. "Hey, isn't this-" Buffy's glare was clear even in the dim light, and Dawn trailed off awkwardly.
Buffy sat on a tombstone and sighed. At least there shouldn't be much demon activity, since they tended to steer clear of Spike's crypt unless he'd done something to piss someone off. Oh, who was she kidding? With her luck, there'd be a horde of angry demons rounding the corner any second.
One of the electricians looked baffled, holding up the wires with heavily gloved hands. "Looks like someone crossed the two main lines right about here… Luck son of a gun - there's enough voltage here to kill whoever tried…"
When she found Spike, he was in so much trouble.
Chapter 5: Try Again
Buffy didn't know why she was surprised to find Spike not at his crypt, where he was supposed to be, but chain smoking on her back porch. She crossed her arms over her chest and stayed in the newly restored fluorescent light of the kitchen. "I got to spend another glorious night in Sunnydale's finest cemetery because some idiot crossed the main power cables."
Her glare made it abundantly clear that she was talking about him. He shrugged, stomping out his latest cigarette and moving to crowd Buffy, resting one arm on the door jamb and jutting out his jaw, unrepentant despite the pounding in his skull. "If you're done insulting me, can we skip ahead to the shagging?" He leaned forward, leering.
"What? Eww, no! Shh!" Buffy stepped back and away, glancing around the kitchen to make sure everybody else had gone to bed, but not before she caught the alcohol fumes wafting liberally off Spike. He smelled like he'd just drained a bar dry. "Are you drunk?!"
"Gonna invite me in, Slayer?"
He was doing that tongue thing, which was gross and sexist and not even a little bit sexy and his hair was mussed and ... bad Buffy. "In your dreams, Spike."
He smirked. "Don't need dreams when you're in my crypt every night, Slayer, in my bed." Curled his tongue and raised one eyebrow. "When we make it to the bed."
Buffy blushed and didn't meet his eyes. "That's not - you know that doesn't mean anything."
He could smell her arousal. That's how it went, with her. Good enough to fuck, but not good enough to love. He shoved past her into the house anyway, ignoring her startled squeak - worried the Scoobies would wake from their beds and find them shagging against the counter, no doubt. "Keep telling yourself that. Maybe one day you'll even believe it, Pet."
Counting to ten in her head and trying to remember that throwing him out would definitely wake up the others, Buffy followed Spike into the living room, where he sprawled out indolently on the couch, eyeing the Monopoly game still half-finished on the coffee table with thinly veiled confusion as he reached for the remote and flipped on the TV like he belonged. He absolutely did not belong in her house or her life or anywhere in the world of her. "Spike," she hissed, "get out!"
Spike shook his head, eyes on the TV. "Need to talk to you, first." Only it came out a bit slurred together, his liquid courage and righteousness catching up to him.
"We don't talk, Spike. We don't have anything to talk about."
Giving up on the TV, Spike flicked it off with a muted growl. This wasn't at all how he meant any of this to go - he'd hoped for a last shag, at least - but sod it. "You wanted to talk about the cemetery cables, earlier. Here I thought we were all for sharing inconsequential details of our days."
Good. That was good. The cemetery was a good reminder that she was mad at him. "That is not inconsequential! You fried the power for the whole town!"
"Not the only thing that got fried."
Working up to a proper rant, Buffy halted at something in his tone, her spider senses rising like hackles across her back. "What does that mean?"
"What I came here to tell you," Spike scrubbed a hand through his hair, confidence dwindling though he was determined not to let it show. "Got a nasty shock on the power line. Thought I'd fried my noggin' proper, but it seems the mind's a bit stronger than wires and electronics."
Buffy's hand gripped the banister so hard she was afraid it would crack. "The chip." Her blood was pounding in her ears and it was Angel all over again. Buffy sleeps with a guy and he turns evil. And then, close on the heels of her world tipping. "Wait - how do you know?"
Spike had the grace to look sheepish. He wasn't keen to let Buffy in on his little bar fight, when he knew exactly how she would take it, even though he hadn't even killed anyone. He swayed to his feet and inched towards her, hands out. "It's not what you think, Slayer."
"No? Because I'm thinking that you're just an evil, soulless thing, and now there's nothing to hold you back." She marched to the front door, flinching away from him. "Don't touch me!"
Never one to give up easily, he reached for her again. "Buffy..."
"And don't call me that!" Her voice sounded high an panicky even to her own ears and she was definitely not going to cry over Spike, of all things.
The door opened and Spike came flying out, he landed with a great ‘oof,’ far from the house. He grit his teeth and tried not to sound menacing, “Fine then. Just doing you the common courtesy of…”
Buffy appeared in the doorway, anger all over her face, masking the path of tears. “Fuck you, Spike!”
Spike stood up, dusting himself off quickly. “Sorry love, afraid you’ve been there, done that.”
Buffy turned on her heel and walked back in the house. “Go ahead, ask me again why I don’t love you, and watch me laugh,” and the door slammed shut.
Spike grimaced, fighting to keep his demon in check. He pointedly ignored the sobs coming from just inside the door as he called out, “And tell the Whelp to stay away, or he’ll get the thrashing I owe him!”
Faith wasn't sure how she thought this would go, exactly, but she supposed a door in her face was better than a fist. "C'mon, B, don't be like that." When the door remained stubbornly closed, Faith sighed and tried again. "Aren't you even a little curious what I'm doing here?"
It was too early in the morning for this, as far as Buffy was concerned. But it was a Saturday and Dawn was in the living room watching cartoons, and the last thing she needed was Faith kicking the door down. She couldn't afford to replace it anyway. Buffy opened the door just far enough to step through and close it firmly behind her. "Y'know, I'm really not."
Even though the sun was somewhat muted on the Summers' front porch, Faith could tell that Buffy wasn’t her usual chipper, holier-than-thou self. Which was pretty fucking funny, since Faith was the one fighting the hangover from hell. "What's a'matter, B? Crawl out of the wrong bed this morning?"
"I - what - where did you -?"
Watching the other woman's wide-eyed expression, Faith couldn't help but laugh. "Lighten up, B, it was just a joke."
Great. Because Faith standing on her front porch wasn't enough after the night she'd had - trying to figure out what she was going to do with Spike when the obvious answer was stake him and no matter how much she psyched herself up, Buffy already knew she couldn't do that, not without proof. Now Faith thought her love life was in any way appropriate to joke about? For all she knew, Faith had already slept with Spike, too. Not that it mattered. He was going to be dust soon and it wasn't like they were dating or anything. If Faith still wanted to be a crazy ho-bag, it didn't bother Buffy in the slightest. Her fists clenched. "I'm going inside. When I come back out, I want you gone. Gone from my house, gone from my town. Got it?"
Shit. This was not going the way she'd planned, not that she'd really planned. Faith caught the door. "Wait, B -" and met a properly murderous expression on the other Slayer's face, and she knew all about those. "Look, I know you don't have any reason to believe me, but I've changed. I got released for good behavior and... I didn't know where else to go. Figured I'd let you know I was here, see if there was anything I could do to help out or..." It sounded lame even to her own ears; she didn't need Buffy's incredulous expression to tell her that. "I know sorry doesn't cut it, but-"
"No, you're right, it really doesn't." Buffy absolutely could not deal with Faith on top of everything else. And Faith wanting to help? "You wanna help? Stay out of my life."
The door slammed shut for the second time that morning. Faith took a deep breath she didn't realize she'd been holding, and turned to walk back down the driveway. They hadn't come to blows, so that was something.
She'd just have to stick it out in Sunnyhell until B gave her a chance or until she figured out somewhere better to go - even if it meant figuring out what the appropriate apology was for "sorry I tortured you for hours, Wesley". Somehow, "sorry I stole your life and boyfriend" seemed like an easier place to start.
Nobody said making amends was easy.
She was not even a little bit surprised to find him at the only thing that passed for a bar in this shithole little town.
Faith slid onto the neighboring barstool and signaled the bartender. Spike appeared to be well on the way to drowning his sorrows in liquor, which sounded like a pretty decent plan, even if it was barely even five. "Is this a private pity party or can anyone join in?"
Spike lolled his head toward the other Slayer, wincing. Slayers - he could never seem to be quit of them. "Sod off."
Not much of a welcome, but not the worst she'd heard. Faith ordered two shots as a peace offering of sorts. "See, I would, but I've got this wicked headache, and I'm pretty sure alcohol is the only cure. Since someone tore up the Bronze last night... 'fraid this is it."
"Fine." Spike grit his teeth and eyed his rapidly emptying beer with annoyance. "Don't listen to a word I say. You Slayers - all the bloody same."
On second thought, just because the vampire was the only person in the town speaking to her at the moment, maybe it wasn't such a good idea to be hanging out with him. Aside from the whole vampire shtick, Faith wasn't exactly excited for a repeat performance of The World Revolves Around Buffy. "Lemme guess - B's still a stuck up bitch?"
Spike snorted. He had to hand it to the bird - she called it like it was. Not that he didn't love Buffy - he did - but he knew her faults. Part of loving someone, that was, loving them for their faults. Even if it was bloody hard sometimes. "Not exactly front page news there, love."
"I dropped by this morning and was lucky not to get drop-kicked. B's in a wicked bad mood. Here I was thinking that was all me, but now I've got to wonder." The shots arrived. Faith nudged one over to Spike and they both downed them in quick swallows, signaling for more.
Swallowing back the urge to ask how Buffy had seemed, Spike considered this new information. He'd half expected Buffy to stake him in the middle of the night, if he'd been honest. Hadn't got a lick of sleep all day, either, which is why he'd decided to drink his problems away. Or maybe he'd decided to drink and then hadn't been able to sleep. The details were getting a bit blurry, except for Buffy. No matter what he did, never could get her out of his head. "Buffy not your biggest fan, pet? Join the club. We've got bloody t-shirts."
"Yeah, but you're banging her, right?" Spike glanced up sharply, but Faith was grinning, hands up to forestall his protest. "Hey, I don't judge. Whatever floats your boat."
He nodded gruffly. "Pretty sure it's past tense, after last night."
At least Buffy's taste in men was getting better. Which was kind of a shame, since Faith really couldn't sleep with another guy Buffy was, or she might as well give up on ever apologizing her way out of it. "Lover's tiff? You not good enough for Little Miss Perfect?" Spike gave her a sharp look and Faith amended. "If it helps, neither am I. Though I'm not trying to get into her pants, so good luck with that."
Spike offered a slow smirk. "Nobody's trying here, love. Been there plenty."
They were quite a few shots in now, and Faith was starting to feel that Buffy-induced tension fade. She was almost drunk enough to dance, but dancing tended to lead to fucking and fighting, so she tried keep her focus on this stool and conversation. She hadn't exactly got the best start with her creep landlord, but she made a special exception for creeps. However, Faith would not blow it just because Buffy was still a bitch. "So then, what's the problem?"
Spike watched the Slayer fidget on her stool, full of pent up energy. He understood the feeling: the urge to start a fight just to feel alive; to make the world fade out in a blaze of glory and adrenaline. It sounded bloody fabulous - if Buffy was going to accuse him of being a soulless monster, he might as well actually get some fun out of it. He missed eating people - bagged blood just wasn't the same rush. Spike sighed heavily and tapped the side of his skull. "Used to have a chip in my noggin' that kept me from hurting anyone, see? Thing went and fizzled out on me, and Buffy's acting like I went out and painted the town red. Won't believe that I've changed."
So he was dangerous. Not that it mattered - Slayer, vampire. If she had to kill him, fine. Besides, he wasn't the only killer in the room. "Buffy's not a big believer in redemption - unless it's Angel."
Spike growled at the mention of the Big Poofter. "Like the Great Ponce has a fucking monopoly on redemption. He didn't even try to change - he got cursed! I should know, I was there."
"Hey, I got no problem with Angel," Faith hedged, remembering belatedly that Angel and Spike had history that went back way before Buffy, if she was remembering her vampire lore right. "Just saying that B should cut the rest of us some slack - pretty sure he's killed more people than both of us combined."
Spike glared, even though the Slayer was probably right. "You take that back."
More shots were definitely in order. And no mentioning Angel, got it. "Whatever. It's all five-by-five."
They retreated into their respective drinks, and Faith took a moment to appreciate the irony that the only people who seemed to understand where she was coming from were vampires. Well, if Buffy was going to go and get horizontal with the grey area, the least Faith could do was make friends with it. She was used to living in the moral grey area, after all.
The silence made Spike itchy - it always did. His mouth tended to run away with him before he could think better of it. Besides, he had a bit of a soft spot for Slayers. Always had - it had just been so much easier when that soft spot meant killing them. "What's eating you, pet? Homecoming not all you thought it would be?"
Faith shrugged, rolling her empty shot glass between her fingers. "I don't know what I thought, coming back to Sunnydale. That B was gonna be happy to see me, after everything that went down?"
Spike sucked in his cheeks, watching the Slayer. "So why'd you come back?"
If she kept talking, Faith figured she could stop herself from doing something else, like jumping on top of the bar and dancing, or dragging the bartender over it for a fuck. “I just got so sick of it all. I mean, look where being a badass got me: psychiatric care locked in the closest thing to hell. Aside from here. So, I just swore it off, all of it. No slaying, no men; I’m done!” Spike's attention was on her, blue eyes watching her with far too much amusement.
He offered her a salute with his refilled shot glass - the bartender had left the bottle this time - and they both downed their alcohol and immediately poured another round. It was almost a shame he hadn't met Faith first - she seemed like the kind of girl that could paint the town red. She also seemed a little lost and, after so much time minding Dawn, Spike had the strangest urge to try to help. Him, help someone. It was bloody ridiculous, it was. Still, he couldn't stop from commiserating. "I’m in love with the fucking Slayer, doesn’t change who I am. I’m a demon, not the soddin’ poof! I'm supposed to kill; it’s what I do. Only thing stopping me was the bloody chip." He deflated. "Only, thing is, I've got used to being a part of the gang, with Buffy and the Scoobies. Kid sis, the lot. If I go out and eat someone, I lose all that. I lose Buffy." He took another shot, making a bitter noise. "Not that it seems to matter. As far as Buffy's concerned, I'm a monster with the chip out, whether I eat someone or not."
Faith regarded this speech warily for a moment. She'd never had the same thing for vampires that B did - and she could see the appeal in just about anything self-destructive. But Spike looked genuinely heartbroken, pining after Buffy like she hung the moon. Faith knew all about wanting Buffy to notice you and never quite measuring up. "Hey, I'd vouch for you - no bodies I can see." She paused. "There are no bodies, right?"
Spike shook his head, holding up two fingers and swaying slightly on his stool. "Scout's honor."
Yeah, like either of them had even been Scouts. "Well good, 'cos I'm done with that whole slaying thing." What she hadn't figured out was what she was going to do instead - a high school drop out with a murder rap.
The brunette was about as done with slaying as he was with drinking blood, but it hardly seemed the time to point that out. Besides, she was about the only one who seemed to think he could give up killing, so he wasn't about to mock her newfound morals, especially when they included not killing him. Be useful to have her on his side, when Buffy came knocking. Oh, who was he kidding? If Buffy really wanted to stake him, he'd offer up his own chest in a heartbeat. "What a sorry lot we are."
Faith gave him a lopsided grin. It felt nice to have a friend around for this whole redemption gig. She had a feeling it was going to take a while, but it didn't look like either of them were going anywhere. "I'll drink to that."