It Starts With Faith Chapter 26 by Dreiser

| Ch. 1 | Ch. 2 | Ch. 3 | Ch. 4 | Ch 5 | Ch. 6 | Ch. 7 | Ch. 8 | Ch. 9 | Ch. 10 | End Season 1 - Epilogue |
| Begin Season 2 - Ch. 11 | Ch. 12 | Ch. 13 | Ch. 14 | Ch. 15 | Ch. 16. | Ch. 17 | Ch. 18 | Ch. 19 | Ch. 20 | Season 2 - Epilogue |
| Ch. 21 | Ch. 22 | Ch. 23 | Ch. 24 | Ch. 25 | Ch. 26 | Ch. 27 | Ch. 28 | Ch. 29 | Ch. 30 | Season 3 - Epilogue |
| Toilet Demons Project |
| Ch. 31 | Ch. 32 | Ch. 33 | Ch. 34 |

TITLE: It Starts With Faith
CHAPTER: Twenty Six
AUTHOR: Dreiser
ICQ #: 37674780
CONTENT: F/F romance. Don't like it, don't read it.
SUMMARY: An alternate reality series that places Faith as the one true slayer aka the chosen one for her generation.
DISCLAIMER: I own nothing but my list of ex-gfs.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: No, I don't really have a list. Not even I can be that crass. Or can I? Hmm.

It Starts With Faith
By: Dreiser

-Twenty Six-

Ever since Kate was a young girl one thing has always, consistently, been proven true.

And that was the fact that if you yelled at her she got mad. She got mad and she stopped listening to you. In fact, she pretty much stopped respecting you. Because to Kate Lockley, there's nothing worse than a person who can't control their own temper.

Which was precisely why Kate wasn't listening to what Sunnydale Police Chief, Robert Ewels, had to say.

That and because she couldn't take him seriously no matter what he did. How could he just jump on the first hint of a lead and say they're the killer? It was true that all of the evidence led back to this Scott Kilgore, and that he fit the profile, even having schizophrenia that they believed led to his later suicide, but to close the investigation this soon? It made no sense.

She felt that they should investigate all the leads, especially because of her newfound discovery of all the supernatural activity this town got. Of course, she doubted that Ewels knew anything about that. He was probably like the rest of the people in this town, quietly ignoring the reality of it.

Hoping that someday it would just go away.

But Kate couldn't do that, it wasn't in her nature. Now that she knew about the vampires, the demons, and all the nasty things out there she wanted to stop them the same way that she wanted to stop criminals.

She knew, she just knew, that those murders led back to Willow, her friends, and all of the supernatural stuff going on in this town. No matter what the evidence said, no matter how much Kilgore matched the profile of their guy, being an unknown serial killer for years now, no matter how his suicide and last words gave statement that he was their killer, she couldn't believe it.

Not until she heard Willow Rosenberg say so.

Too bad that Kate also knew that Willow would never say yes or no. That her lips were forever sealed when it came to just what went on while she was captured.

Pausing in his rant, Ewels noticed that Kate still wasn't paying attention to him. That just made him all the more angry and that, in turn, led to Kate not listening to him even more as she kept pondering the situation.

So the vicious cycle goes and goes.

Until it was finally broken by Ewels somehow regaining his focus. Maybe it had something to do with him glancing at his desk and a pile of papers.

A pile of papers that consisted of all the very tedious assignments his department had to do around town. Ones that no one wanted to do and ones that he didn't want to give to people who were his friends.

Kate on the other hand, was different.

She wasn't his friend. She wasn't even a Sunnydale resident and yet, here she was, telling him that she's staying in his town, working Police jobs, and he can't do anything about it. That he should just deal and get off her case.

Perhaps that wasn't such a bad idea.

Watching as Ewels formed a rather sneaky expression on his rodent like features, Kate had a sinking feeling seize her stomach. It was one that she only got when something bad was coming.

"All right," said Ewels slowly. "I'll let you continue to work with us Detective Lockley."

"I never said I wanted to work with you," Kate frowned. "I just said that I'm staying in town. I don't think this case should really be closed yet and--"

"But it is closed," Ewels interrupted. "And there's not much you can do about it. If you want to stick around to investigate till your little heart is content, that's fine by me. The thing is, if you're going to do that, you'll be doing it in my town. And only people working for me can do any sort of Police work in my town." When Kate's eyes gave a strange gleam, he chuckled and said, "Don't start spouting about your friend the P.I. or the Feebs, they don't exactly count, now do they? What I'm saying, Detective, is that if you want to work our turf you have to take on some of our responsibilities while you're here. Or else your ball game is rained out and you're back in L.A."

"All right," Kate managed to grit the words out, though the glare she was giving Ewels could probably melt a solid steel wall. "What do you want?"

"Nothing much," said Ewels with a smirk, handing over the top file to Kate. "Just a little undercover work. It isn't anything the folks working here wanted to do but you being from a big city and all, I'm sure you can manage."

Scowling at this comment, Kate opened up the file and on seeing the assignment she had one reaction only.

Another deep scowl.

That and yet another horrible sinking feeling.

Where in the world was she going to find the appropriate person to help her keep up this cover? And as the answer flashed before her eyes Kate felt that sinking feeling increase by about three times the size.

This was because the last thing that she wanted to do was to ask this particular favor of Jenny Calendar.

And yet, she had to.

Because who else in Sunnydale would know about a rowdy bar that had customers labeled as inhuman?

No one that Kate could think of.


Buffy didn't like fighting with swords.

Perhaps that was why she continued to back off, block, and sometimes flip over Faith every time the other Slayer approached her in their match. That and the fact that unlike her, Faith liked fighting with swords.

"C'mon, Buff," said Faith, grimacing as Buffy made yet another block and flip over her. "Stop running away. We're supposed to be training, not practicing our wuss skills."

"I'm not a wuss!" Buffy protested, blocking yet another overhand strike from Faith. Glaring up into dark brown eyes, she said, "I'm just being strategic."

"You mean you're avoiding a real fight," Faith corrected. "If we're gonna get anywhere you gotta give it your all when we're training. That's the only way we'll be able to get strong enough to bring down Special K."

"All right," said Buffy in tight tones. She crouched down low and suddenly sprung up at Faith, propelling her backwards in a clumsy movement. When Faith recovered from this, she looked at Buffy in slight surprise. "You told me to give it my all," Buffy remarked with a sly smile.

"Good deal," Faith murmured, smiling also. "Now we're finally gonna get down to business."

With that, Faith rushed at the blonde Slayer who immediately did a flip, landing behind her. Faith whirled around just in time to receive a hard kick to the midsection that sent her flying backwards. Landing on the mat with a thump, Faith looked up at Buffy who was hovering over her, wearing a mask of concentration that still flickered with concern for her.

Scowling at this, Faith snatched Buffy's ankle in her hand to send the blonde crashing down on the mat with her. Swords were forgotten as Faith tossed hers to one side and it suddenly became a hands on fight. Buffy flipping Faith off of her with her feet, only to receive a hard blow to the stomach upon rising.

This went on for minutes but it seemed like hours as the two Slayers fought, the advantage switching to their partner at every other turn. Until finally, weary of fighting or just filled with exhaustion, they collapsed onto the mat, breathing heavily.

"That..." Faith began with a deep breath of air. "Is what I'm talking about, Buff. That's how we gotta train."

"Every day?" asked Buffy wearily, her body spread out on the mat so it appeared as if she was making snow angels.

"Every day," said Faith, giving a weak nod.

"Ohhhh, not good," Buffy groaned. "I don't think my body can take this sort of abuse, healing powers or not."

Pushing herself up into a sitting position, Faith looked at Buffy solemnly and said, "I know it's tough but we gotta do this, Buff. It's the only chance we got. We're not like Amy girl or Will, we don't work in that funky magic style they got going on. Our way is to fight with fists and weapons, and sometimes our minds if we're feeling lucky, but still, that's our way. And to get better at it, we gotta train like this all the time."

"Yeah," Buffy murmured, looking up at Faith from where she was lying on the mat. "I know that. It's just..."

"Just what?" asked Faith, her eyebrows furrowing.

"Can we get Giles or Jenny to supervise our next training session? Because I'm sick of you pulling crazy trick stunts on me and I know they'd stop it," finished Buffy rather impishly.

Chuckling quietly, Faith said, "Right... I dunno what universe you're in Buff, but vamps don't fight fair. If anything I'd get brownie points for being an asshole in our training. I know for sure that G-man would see the use of it, even if he wouldn't exactly condone it. And Jenny?" A deeper chuckle came from Faith now. "She'd encourage it and call you a baby for complaining."

"Ugh," Buffy groaned again, massaging her forehead with delicate fingers. "The sad part is that you're right. Don't I get any breaks in the world?"

"'Fraid not, Buff," said Faith, smirking. Rising to her feet, she offered the blonde her hand and pulled her up so they were standing across from each other. "You're just the horrible victim of circumstance."

"Or something," said Buffy, rolling her eyes.

There was a moment of pause and looking at the dark Slayer, Buffy saw a look of pain pass across her features. Taking a step forward, she lightly touched Faith's arm and said, "Faith? What's wrong?"

"Nothing," said Faith quietly. "I just... had a strange sorta feeling. Buff," she continued, looking at the other girl. "I'm gonna go now, okay? Get a head start on patrol. You tell G-man where I went, huh?"

"Oh no," Buffy began in strong tones. "You're not going patrolling alone. Not with Iris and Trick out there. I won't let you. We already know that Iris used her magic to frame that guy for Cor--" Buffy stumbled over her words and immediately formed a guilty expression. "The killings. We can't afford to go out alone anymore. It's too risky."

Considering this for a long moment, Faith finally gave a slight nod of her head and said, "All right. You can come with me. But you should know something first."

"Know what?" asked Buffy with confusion.

"That this isn't a normal patrol, Buff," said Faith quietly. "Just now... I felt her... I felt Cordelia, the real her, inside me. What I heard was like a distant cry for help muffled deep inside of a storm and I gotta find out what that's about." Pausing, Faith said rather solemnly, "I'm going on a search for Cordelia."

"Faith," whispered Buffy, her eyes shining with tears. Shaking her head a bit, Buffy lifted her gaze and gave a brave smile and said, "And I'm coming with you. We'll find out what's going on and we'll help Cordelia. I refuse to give up until we do."

"Yeah," said Faith softly, returning Buffy's smile with all of her heart. "The same here."


When Xander was nervous he paced.

So being nervous right now, that's what he was doing. Pacing around in his basement as his girlfriend sat crosslegged in a bean bag flipping through her stolen magic books like nothing was wrong.

"This isn't a good idea," Xander said in quick and emphatic tones. "I'm sure that it isn't a good idea. Just like I was sure that it wasn't a good idea to get those books out of your attic when Ed said not to. But I'm even more sure that it's not a good idea for you to cast a spell out of one of those books. Who knows what could happen? It could misfire and turn you into a rat!"

"Yeah, right," said Amy dryly. She paused to frown then said, "Why does everyone keep saying things like that to me anyway? My spells haven't gone wrong."

"So far! So far!" Xander cried out, hopping around and waving his index finger at her. "It might happen now!"

"Xander," said Amy with a sigh. "I have to do this. I know that somewhere in here is a spell that I can use to seal away Iris' magic and if I can do that think of how much less trouble she and Trick will be. It'll help out Faith and Buffy, plus give us an advantage over Kakistos and that'll also help us get Cordelia back."

"Yeah, well... yeah," said Xander slowly, trying to think of a good argument against Amy's reasoning. His face then lit up as he said, "It's dangerous!"

"Crossing the street in Sunnydale is dangerous," said Amy in sardonic tones. She was silent as she looked up into his concerned gaze. Reaching out, she took Xander's hand in her own and pulled him closer to her so he sat on the floor across from her. Touching his cheek lightly, she murmured, "I want to do this. I have to do this, I have to at least try to help our friends. Aren't you always saying how you wish you were able to help more? Well, you can do that now by supporting me. If I can do this then we won't have to deal with Iris' magical interference anymore and that'll bring us so much closer to defeating Kakistos. We all know Trick and Iris are his shield, that if they weren't around anymore he'd be a lot weaker. Please," said Amy in soft and plaintive tones. "At least let me try to seal her powers. Let me try to help."

Thinking over his girlfriend's words, Xander lowered his head, and when he lifted it a few seconds later, his eyes shone with pride. "Okay," Xander said in husky tones. "You find that sealing spell and you cast it. And I promise to be right here, supporting you all the way when you do."

"Thank you," Amy whispered, moving in to give Xander a tender kiss.

When they parted, Xander formed a goofy smile and said, "If I get a kiss for just supporting you then I have to remember to do that more often."

"Silly," reprimanded Amy with a smile. She then handed Xander one of the magic books she had in a pile and said, "Help me look for the spell?"

"You bet," said Xander gently.

And that's how the couple stayed for the next hour until they finally located the sealing spell. Then they sort of had to stand up to cast the spell and to wake up their feet.

But when everything was through and the spell was cast, successfully sealing Iris' powers away so that the vampire couldn't ever use magic in Sunnydale again, they felt infinitely happy and proud of themselves.

Well, they felt that way until the cell phone Amy's father insisted she carry at all times rang and Ed was at the other end of it shouting about the missing spell books.

It's fairly safe to say that this turn of events caused Xander to end up pacing again.

Which was, frankly, all too predictable.


As soon as Trick entered the family room he was hit upside the head with the front page of the newspaper.

Releasing a low growl as he scowled, Trick focused his glare on Cordelia who was lounging on the other side of the room, looking quite content.

"What," Trick said in tight tones, somehow managing to keep his good manners in tact. He was a vampire, yes, but he was a business man first. "Did you do that for, may I ask?"

"I work so hard, really I do," began Cordelia airily, stretching on the lounge she was seated on. "Daddy tells me to torture the Slayers, so that's what I do. He leaves to get this little trinket for me," Cordelia paused to lift up the silver chained pendant she wore around her neck, the light blue jewel inside of it glittering as she did so. "And I make myself busy killing some mortals to upset them. It works so well that Daddy is just overwhelmed with pride when he comes back home. But today," Cordelia's hazel eyes darkened and she shifted a bit into her game face as she said these words. "I find out that you and Iris gave all the credit for my hard work to someone else. Do you know how much time I spent? They weren't just random killings, you know! I did research! Well, sort of."

"You did research?" Trick repeated skeptically.

"I followed them around before I killed them. That's research!" Cordelia huffed, folding her arms over her chest. "This mortal didn't kill them, I did. Why give them the credit? It's not like the cops are going to catch me and put me away." After she said this, Cordelia's face twisted up almost painfully and she burst into sudden laughter. "I shouldn't have said that," she wheezed through her fit of laughter. "It makes my stomach hurt to laugh this much but really! The cops... catching someone... isn't that the funniest thing you've ever heard?"

"Almost," said Trick tersely, his eyes sharp. Leaning over, he picked up the newspaper that Cordelia threw at him and tossed it back at her. Watching as it landed nicely in her lap, he said, "You better talk to your Daddy if you want to complain about the job we pulled. He's the one who ordered it in the first place."

There was a long moment of pause and Trick couldn't help but smirk as a look of first surprise then rage passed over Cordelia's beautiful features.

"What did you say?" Cordelia demanded in low and dangerous tones. Trick noticed with some curiosity that as her voice changed, so did her manner, and suddenly her position was more catlike and feral.

"I said that your dear Daddy, Kakistos, was the one who gave us the orders to frame a suitable mortal for your killings," Trick said, still smirking. "He didn't want the cops to be more trouble than what they already are. Apparently he's had some difficulties with them once before when another one of his children went off on the same sort of fun time spree like you did."

When Cordelia once again wore a face of surprise, Trick's smirk widened and he drawled, "Aww, I'm sorry. I ruined your night now, didn't I? Now you know the truth, you're not that special. Your 'Daddy' has sired many children, all of them just as crazy to please him as you." Chuckling as he shook his head, Trick said, "You're nothing new, kid. Just another vamp obsessed with their Sire. The only ones of our kind that are special are the few that can step out of their Sire's shadow to claim their own rights. True vampires," Trick's face morphed and his eyes glowed a bright yellow. "Like myself and Iris."

Cordelia sneered at this and was about to reply when a smirk very similar to Trick's appeared on her features and she said, "Like yourself and Iris, eh?" she asked humorously. "So true vampires look like they have the Ebola virus and stumble around blindly? If that's true, then color me an untrue vampire."

"What?" asked Trick sharply, his eyes narrowed. Turning around quickly, he was met with the sight of Iris stumbling into the family room, looking just as sickly as Cordelia had described. "Baby doll?" Trick's eyes went wide as he rushed to Iris' side. "What's wrong? You didn't have a bad feed did you?"

"No," Iris whispered in bare tones, allowing Trick to lead her to the couch where she sat down numbly. "It's not that. I can't... they're gone..."

"What's gone?" asked Trick in confusion.

Looking up, Iris' sorrowful expression changed into one of absolute fury then she snarled, "My powers. Someone sealed away my magic powers."

"What?" Trick said with definite surprise. "Who could be powerful enough to do that?"

"I don't know," Iris growled, her blue eyes narrowing into slits. "But as soon as I find out who, I'm going to make them wish they'd never been born."

"Excuse me while I yawn but isn't the vengeance thing getting old yet? Every single vampire I run into is off on that kick," Cordelia said mockingly, rolling her eyes. "Isn't there something better for you to do? Like sticking nails under your skin?"

"Child," Iris said in dark tones that sent shivers down Trick's spine. Rising to her feet, Iris stalked over to Cordelia, hovering over her with a look of madness floating inside her blue eyes. "You have no idea what has been taken from me. In this world you need only power to survive and mine has been ripped from me. I won't take this lightly."

"That's nice for you but I'm starting to get bored," said Cordelia. In an elegant movement she stood up to meet Iris' gaze with a sense of tranquillity. "In fact, I think I'll go have some fun."

"You do that," Iris snarled.

Smirking at this, Cordelia gave a little wave of her hand to Trick and said, "Have fun taking care of powerless girl. Maybe you can give her a cape or something to cheer her up. That'll be really stylish." Laughing at her own joke, Cordelia flounced out the door with the departing words of, "I'll be at the club if Daddy asks."

Ignoring Cordelia and her taunts, Trick walked over to Iris who looked up at him with harsh eyes.

"This is the final straw, Trick," said Iris, her voice full of deadly calm. "Once we take care of who did this to me, I'm leaving town. This job has already cost us far too much and I don't think it's worth our efforts."

"All right," said Trick, not even bothering to argue when he knew it would just be futile. Iris had her mind made up and once she did that, there was nothing he could do to change it. "I might stick around a bit longer, baby doll. To tie up the loose strings."

"Whatever you want," Iris ground out, her blue eyes flashing with fire. "As long as we get who did this."

"Oh, we'll get them," Trick muttered, a vicious smile spreading across his features. "I promise."

If there was one thing that Trick always made sure to do, it was to keep all of his promises to Iris.

Even he had some sense of honor.


She knew this was a mistake.

But still, she went to the magic shop anyway. To at least try and attempt to get some help from the other woman.

And deep inside, she knew it was a mistake.

This was particularly reinforced when Kate saw the huge shit eating smile that spread across Jenny's features. Some would call the smile charming and even sexy, but to Kate it was a sure sign of trouble.

Which was the last thing Kate needed right now. It was bad enough she got assigned this lackluster busy work case that Ewels pushed off on her. Now she was going to have to put up with nonsense from Jenny just because, for whatever reason, the brunette loved to rile her.

"Route 666," Jenny repeated, the smile on her face growing as she chuckled a bit. "You want to go there?"

"No," said Kate irritably as she looked up at the taller woman. "I don't want to go there. I was assigned to go there. Ratboy Ewels wants me to check the place out. It seems a lot of problems come out of there."

"Oh, that's no surprise," said Jenny, smirking. She paused to rest her chin in the palm of her hand. "Especially when you consider that it's the most popular hang out for the demons and vamps in this area."

"It's what?" Kate asked, her eyes widening.

"You heard me," said Jenny simply, her voice losing its teasing tone and turning frank. "It's a hangout for all of the local demons, vamps, and anything else that just doesn't fit into the classification of human. Mostly they get peaceful patrons, ones who just want to be in a place they feel they belong, but sometimes folks get rowdy." Jenny shrugged and continued, "It's like any human club, except that it's not for humans. Some of the people in there are good and some aren't."

"People?" repeated Kate incredulously. "I thought you said that only demons and vampires go there."

"Humans are welcome too," said Jenny. Her eyes were serious and a slow smirk, one that looked almost condescending spread across her features. "And not just humans are people, Detective Lockley. It's not the outside that counts, it's the inside. In this town and anywhere else, things are rarely what they seem."

"I'm beginning to find that out," said Kate warily.

"Well," Jenny drew the word out slowly. She smiled again as she took her coat off the rack and walked out from behind the counter. "Lets get going, shall we?"

"Going?" Kate repeated again, blinking.

"To Route 666," Jenny supplied, shrugging her coat on and in the process, messing up her blouse just enough to give Kate a hint of cleavage. "You wanted to check the place out, right? I'll go with you. It wouldn't be good for Mikey to see you in there alone. He's a bit nervous what with everything going on. Plus he just doesn't much like authority figures."

Kate blinked again at this sudden turn of events. It was starting to seem like Jenny wasn't going to help at all and now she was coming along?

"Wait a minute," Kate began. "You're a civilian, I can't bring you into my investigation. It's--"

"A stupid assignment," interrupted Jenny. "One that stupid Chief of Police shouldn't have given you. But if I go with you, it can come of some use. I'll point out Mikey and a few other people who might be inclined to give you a hand if you play your cards right. After all," Jenny smiled sexily. "Don't you need contacts?"

"What about your shop?" asked Kate, refusing to rise Jenny's very tempting bait. "You're just going to close it? You're the only one around right now."

"Rupert will be back soon," said Jenny, giving a carefree smile. "He'll open it back up again and take care of things for the night." She paused to inspect Kate closely then said, "Don't tell me you're feeling nervous, Detective? We don't have to go to the club if you really don't want to. Perhaps we can go out for dinner and dancing?" asked Jenny, her dark eyes glinting. "I think I'd much prefer an evening of that, myself."

"Forget it," said Kate dryly. "We're going to the club and that's it. No funny stuff, got it, Calendar?"

"Got it, Lockley," said Jenny humorously, bowing lowly as she opened the front door of the magic shop for Kate who rolled her eyes at this action.

Then they were off to Route 666.

Whether Kate thought it was a mistake or not.


"Jeff says we have almost an hour left in our session," informed Vince as he entered the studio. "That's enough time to cut at least three more tracks. So what's next on the agenda? Midnight Confession or Contented?"

There was a moment of pause and Vince noticed with some curiosity that Willow exchanged a somewhat mischievous look with Charlie and Derrick.

"All right," Vince began slowly. "What's up? I know you guys have something planned from those faces."

"We've been conferring," said Charlie, stepping up to Vince, the smile dancing on his lips reflected in his eyes. "And in our conferring we decided that the next song that we play is going to be sung by you, Vincey boy."

"Me?" Vince's eyes went wide. He darted his gaze over to Willow who smiled softly at him while she wore an encouraging expression. "No way," he said in firm tones. "I'm a drummer, not a singer." Turning to look at Derrick, he continued, "'Rick, you remember how I sound when I sing, we write stuff together. It's not--"

"It's not bad," Derrick interrupted, his dark brown eyes warm. "In fact," a smile now spread across the bass guitarist's caramel features as he went on. "It's pretty good singing if I remember correctly. Which is why I think it's a good idea for you to sing that new song of yours."

"Yeah, that's what I think too," Charlie added, clasping Vince on the shoulder. When the other boy met his eyes, Charlie said quietly, "It's a good song, man, and you got a great voice. So lets get it recorded, huh?" He was silent for a moment, then dipping his head close, he whispered in Vince's ear, "We all know what it's about."

"Charlie," whispered Vince, a surprised look crossing his handsome features. "I didn't want..."

"Do you know," Charlie continued in gentle tones, his gaze boring into Vince's. "That when we first met I had such a big crush on you? Here I was, the new kid in town and everyone made fun of me because I was pale and sick and used to Seattle with all its rain, so I had this love/hate relationship with the sun. But you... you didn't care about what they said, you talked to me anyway. And pretty soon, the other kids left me alone." Chuckling softly, Charlie had a small smile on his lips as he said, "We were inseparable until middle school. Then, just like me, Derrick moves into town. Except he's not pale at all and neither is his Dad, but his Mom has that problem. So he gets crap too..."

"Until you guys stopped it," Derrick murmured, moving to walk up to the other two boys. "Then it was the three of us for a long time... maybe too long. Charlie and me, we had each other," he paused to look at the purple haired boy who seemed to blush. "Even if we didn't know it at the time. But you... who did you have?"

"Then comes in Big Red," drawled Charlie, turning to smirk at Willow who walked over to the group. "Our singing savior with those great green eyes."

"And then you have her," said Derrick, smiling. "And we have the missing piece of our little family and it's strangely perfect. Everything fits into place."

"Which is what that song is about," Willow said tenderly, reaching out to hold Vince's hands in her own. "Right, Vince? Or else," she said this with a slight look of playful teasing on her features. "Why would you name the song Pieces of the Puzzle?"

"We gotta record this song, Vince," said Charlie softly. "It's about all of us... it's our story and if we get that story out there, that'll be a good thing, right?"

Forming a slow smile, Vince murmured, "Yeah. I think that'll be a really good thing. Thanks," Vince looked at first Charlie, Derrick, and then Willow. "All of you."

"Hey, no problem," said Charlie, grinning. Darting his eyes over to Willow, he asked, "You got anything else to add to that, Red? You usually do."

"I'll save my extensive comments for later," said Willow, who wore a teasing smile. "But I'll say, for the record, I think Vince has the prettiest voice out of us all."

On hearing this, Vince turned bright red while Charlie and Derrick exchanged an impish look then called out in humorously high pitch tones, "Ohhhhh Vince, your voice is prettier than ours! We're jealous!"

From where he watched inside the studio, Jeff Wallas rolled his eyes at the band's actions. They were a goofy bunch of kids, that was for sure but he had to give them credit, they did have a lot of talent for musicians so young. He just wondered if their drummer was really that good of a singer. Sure, he had a lot of organizational skills and he was a whiz on his instrument, but singing?

Jeff hadn't met many drummers who could sing and sing well at that. But still... it was their session. What they did with their time was their business, not his.

Believing this, when it came time for Vince to begin his song, Jeff was pleasantly surprised to find that the other members of Prophecy Girl weren't wrong. He did have a pretty voice. If you could call a male voice, deep and rich in its echoing pretty.

Certainly their lead singer, Willow, could. And for that, Jeff couldn't fault her. Vince did have a presence, one that was incredibly genuine and honest as he sang his song about the people that he loved.

No wonder they wanted him to record this, Jeff thought to himself as Vince finished the final lyrics of the song. It's all about them... how he feels for them.

Jeff was still watching as the song ended and Vince was pulled into a sudden embrace by Willow as Charlie and Derrick waited for their turns.

Yeah, they were just kids but these kids had more heart than most people he ever met in his life. For that reason and that reason only, Jeff knew they would make it.

That one day, they would all be stars.


Clubs are supposed to be crowded.

At least, if the clubs are well run, they're supposed to be crowded. Because crowds mean customers and any good club should have plenty of both.

Since Route 666 had both, you'd think that it's owner, Mikey the Slimebag, would be happy but that just wasn't the case. Maybe it had something to do with the customers that he had coming into his club.

Very dangerous customers. Very scary customers. Very insane customers. Well, more than usual anyway.

Especially one particular customer.

Staring at the girl, Mikey wondered how it was that someone so harmless looking could be such a threat to him and pretty much anyone else in the club. It was even stranger yet that she used to run with the Slayer.

No, that she used to love the Slayer.

Or should that really be said in the past tense? Did she love the Slayer still? It was hard to tell, even when you considered the fact that she was in a somewhat... salacious position with one of the other club patrons right now.

Then again, that club patron did look suspiciously like a certain brunette Slayer and Cordelia did have her in the darkest corner of the club. The one with very bad lighting.

"Vamps," said Mikey with a snort. "Who the hell knows what goes through their mosquito brains?"

"I'll tell you what should be going through yours, Mikey," an entirely too sweet voice whispered in his ear. "Something along the lines of, 'I'll cooperate!'"

Turning around, Mikey's eyes narrowed as he took in the sight of both Slayers. Eyeing Buffy, who he knew had done the whispering job in his ear, Mikey said, "What do you want now, Twig Carrying Barbie?"

"They're stakes, not twigs," Buffy retorted, reaching into her jacket to pull one out. "And they'll kill obnoxious stink demons just as well as vamps."

"Yeah, yeah," Mikey muttered, appearing unimpressed with Buffy's threat. "Whatever you say."

"We don't have time for games," Faith growled, stalking forward to invade Mikey's personal space. She reached up to straighten his collar and pulled him in close so their faces were millimeters apart. In this position, dark brown eyes seemed to bore into Mikey's very soul. "I'm looking for Cordelia. Where is she?"

"How should I know?" said Mikey in choked tones as Faith pulled on his collar tightly. "I'm not her lackey."

"We know that she likes to go here, Mikey," Buffy said, picking up on the questioning.

"So do a lotta other vamps," Mikey said with a smirk. "I run a popular club, y'know. Maybe because this is the only place they can chill... when you twiggies aren't popping in here trying to screw up our groove."

"I'm gonna do more than just screw up your groove if you don't tell me where Cordelia is," Faith said, her voice turning into a low growl as she picked Mikey up off of the ground by the collar and slammed him into the wall. Leaning in, her eyes glinted dangerously and she said darkly, "I'm a Slayer, so I gotta follow certain rules and try to be a stand up sorta girl. But you're starting to push my buttons and that makes me forget the rules." Brown eyes met his steadily as Faith said, "Rules like not killing innocent demons. Now," she pronounced slowly as Mikey paled. "Tell me where Cordelia is."

Instead of answering, Mikey simply tilted his head to one side and turning to look, Faith locked eyes on the sight of Cordelia on the far side of the club. She was rising to her feet, a petite brunette hanging on her arm, and as she made her way through the club, people scattered out of her way. It remained that way until she paused in the middle of her walk to meet Faith's gaze.

Then a slow smile spread across her features.

Faith watched, mesmerized, as Cordelia turned to the girl hanging on her arm and gently ran her hand down her cheek. She then leaned in, whispering something in the girl's ear who nodded before running off.

That left Cordelia alone as she once again met Faith's gaze and gave another slow smile. Turning on her heel, Cordelia walked towards the side exit to the club, only to pause as she reached the door. Looking back at Faith, she gave the smallest beckoning of her finger. One that clearly said, 'come to me, Faith', and then she walked outside, disappearing completely from sight.

"Cordelia," breathed Faith, releasing Mikey from her hold, causing him to crash to the ground. She seemed to be under a sort of spell as she went after the other girl but that's when Buffy grabbed her arm. Looking towards the blonde Slayer in surprise, she said, "Buff?"

"You're not going out there," said Buffy with determination. "Not while you look this weird."

"No," Faith shook her head. "I gotta go out there, Buff. You don't understand. I gotta talk with her--"

"NO!" Buffy shouted. "You don't understand! I want to help Cordelia as much as you do, Faith. But that's not her... that's a demon wearing her body! And they want to trick you by using Cordelia's face. Faith," her voice was soft and gentle as she said the dark Slayer's name. "Don't fall into her trap. That's what she wants."

"Maybe," admitted Faith reluctantly. "But I still gotta go see her, Buff. And I need you to stay here and look out for things."

"Things? What things?" Buffy pursued. "Faith, there's nothing for me to do. I want to be with you, I want to help you--"

"And you can," Faith interrupted, pressing her finger over Buffy's lips to silence the other girl. She then reached for the blonde's shoulders and turned Buffy all the way around so she'd see the dancers. "By finding out what the hell the cop is doing here with Jen."

With that, Faith disappeared into the crowd, to go after the absent Cordelia, while Buffy stared at Jenny dancing with Kate and wondered why they were dancing.

And what the heck they were doing here.


"You don't blend very well," Jenny murmured into Kate's ear, a hint of a smile reading into her voice. "Aren't they supposed to teach you how to blend in? To do your best to be inconspicuous undercover?"

"I wasn't aware I was undercover now," said Kate in droll tones that still reflected annoyance.

Kate wasn't even sure why she'd agreed to dancing with the other woman. It did allow her to see the layout of the club better along with the patrons inside of it, but the situation was... well, distracting to say the least. Especially distracting was the way that Jenny occasionally brushed up against her as they danced. That and the tingles that this contact caused to run across Kate's skin.

They were distractions that she could do without.

"Well, you are," said Jenny playfully. "So try to blend, would you?" Drawing Kate closer and noticing the other woman stiffening as she held onto her waist, Jenny gave an exasperated sigh. "Calm down," she commanded. "If I was trying to seduce you I'd act more subtle. I just want you to look over my shoulder."

"How am I supposed to do that, giantess?" Kate asked dryly, quirking an eyebrow as she referred to Jenny having a clear height advantage over herself.

"Funny," Jenny said, her eyes twinkling. "We just have to do this, that's all." And with that, Jenny pulled the blonde closer to her and leaned down so her head rested against Kate's shoulder and Kate found her chin nestled on Jenny's shoulder. They were entirely close, so close that Jenny could feel Kate's heart wildly beating against her own. "See the guy in the dark blue suit?"

"Yeah," Kate rasped, somehow managing to speak despite her heart beating a mile a minute. Why was it that someone as obnoxious as Jenny Calendar could make her feel this way? Feel like she was on fire and there was no way that fire could be doused? "I see him."

"That's Mikey, the club owner," Jenny continued, taking in the scent of plain shampoo that somehow fitted Kate so very well. "A nice source, once you beat all the useful information out of him. He has to be scared before he talks for some reason. It's a thing with him."

"He's human?" asked Kate with some surprise.

"Nope," Jenny said wryly, reluctantly pulling away from Kate to look into the other woman's eyes. "He's a slime demon, that's just his human form."

"Demons can shift back and forth?" asked Kate.

"Some can," Jenny said with a nod. "It's a convenient power for a lot of them since they happen to lead pretty normal lives. Holding down jobs and such."

Kate was mulling over this new bit of information as she looked over at Mikey but was surprised to find him being confronted by Buffy and Faith. But what surprised her the most was what she saw next.

And what she saw next was Cordelia Chase.

Alive and well, and walking out of the club as Faith stared at her with a fixed gaze of pure wonderment.

Narrowing her blue eyes, Kate looked up at Jenny who had followed her gaze and wore a closed expression on her pretty features. "She's alive?" demanded Kate.

"No," Jenny whispered. "Not really."

Her eyes narrowing by another notch, Kate gave a sharp nod of her head. She then took Jenny's hand and pulled her along as she headed after Faith and Cordelia.

"Explain it to me as we go after them," said Kate, her tone of voice brooking no arguments.

Jenny was about to agree when Buffy appeared before them, blocking the way. And Buffy, well, she wasn't like Jenny. Whenever it came to Kate, no matter what the reason, she liked to brook a good argument. That was just Buffy's nature.

Lucky Kate.


In the dark of night, Faith couldn't see Cordelia so much as sense her presence. Stepping slowly into the alley, she inspected it with questioning eyes.

That's when she found herself pulled back into a cold embrace while the familiar scent of vanilla filled her senses. "Are you lost?" Cordelia asked humorously.

"I came to look for you," said Faith, swallowing the lump in her throat. "I wanted--"

"To see me?" asked Cordelia, her hands holding Faith's waist firmly, pulling the Slayer closer yet. Ducking her head down, so their cheeks were touching, she gave a quiet chuckle. "Isn't that cute? You actually miss me. Or," she paused to say this with some consideration. "Is it that you miss who I used to be? Poor Faith," cooed Cordelia. "All confused about who I am now."

"I know who you are," Faith said, her jaw setting as she turned around to look up at Cordelia. Taking a step backwards, she continued, "You're then one who's got my Cordelia trapped inside you. You're the one keeping her from me. You're the one committing all the crimes."

"Do tell?" Cordelia said with a smirk, quirking an eyebrow as she observed Faith. "And here I thought I was Cordelia. Silly me, having the same body must just mean I like to wear used materials, is that it?"

"Something like that," said Faith, her eyes narrowing. "I know you're not the girl that I love. She'd never do what you've done. You... you're some sorta monster who's wearing her body. But y'know what? I heard my sweets calling out to me today. So I know she's still inside you somewhere, that you haven't killed her off yet." Faith then moved closer and said in a low growl, "Which means that I can still get her back. And you better believe me when I say that I'll do anything to get her back, demon."

"Ouch," said Cordelia, wincing while she delicately covered her heart with her hand. "That hurts, really it does." Shaking her head, she gave a melodious chuckle as she said, "Silly, Faith, silly, Slayer. Don't you get it yet? I am your precious girlfriend, the former love of your life. It's just that I'm all the nasty parts of her that she tried so hard to hide and to get rid of." Moving forward gracefully, Cordelia seemed to stalk Faith, leaning in close to whisper into the Slayer's ear, "I'm that naughty voice that lurks inside everyone's head, the one that tells you to do things that you know are wrong but you want to do them anyway. And do you know why?" Pausing a moment, a slow and vicious smile spread across Cordelia's features then she said simply, "Because it's fun."

"You... you..." Faith could barely make the words out as she clenched her jaw. Holding back her tears, she gave a furious shout of rage and hurled herself at Cordelia, shoving the vampire into the brick wall to the club. "You aren't her! You're a fucking monster!!"

Laughing with delight, Cordelia tipped her head back against the wall and observed Faith who was taking in heavy breaths as she pressed up against her. "Isn't this a fun position?" Cordelia contemplated thoughtfully. Peering down at Faith, she said, "We never did it in an alley, did we? I wonder why? Are you just not outdoorsy?"

"Cordelia..." whispered Faith lowly, her head hanging low as she said this. "Please come back to me."

"Aww," murmured Cordelia with exaggerated affection. She then reached down to caress Faith's cheek and tipped the Slayer's head up so their eyes met. When tearful brown eyes met her own, she said, "You really do miss her, don't you? Well," Cordelia drew the word out, seeming like she had a secret as she leaned in so their faces were millimeters apart. "Do you know what I miss?"

For a reply, Faith could only give a shaky nod no.

"This," breathed Cordelia before she moved forward to seize Faith's lips with her own for a fierce embrace.

It was an embrace that Faith couldn't fight and couldn't deny because deep in her heart, she wanted this to happen. Just like she wanted Cordelia to still be with her.

And when Buffy, Jenny, and Kate found them moments later the embrace was still going on. Hearing the gasp of shock from Buffy broke the former couple apart, causing Faith to look at them with shock while Cordelia formed a triumphant smirk on her features.

Then she left, disappearing into the night once more. Leaving Faith to deal with the consequences of what had just happened and what it all meant.

Especially in their fight against Kakistos. 

Continue to Chapter 27

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