"In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone will stand alone against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness. She is the slayer," Willow read in rather over dramatic tones. Looking at Faith she smiled and said, "Your story is off to a good start. Very brrr creepy. I like."
"Gracias," said Faith as she unwrapped a lemon jolly rancher. "When we got that short story assignment for English I thought it'd be best to write about what I know."
"Which in your case is slaying," Willow said with a small nod. "Makes sense. I guess my story will have to be about studying all the time and having no social life."
Shaking her head Faith said, "Don't be like that, Will. You're a prime catch. It's just the guys here are too stupid to notice it yet. Just give them some time and their brains will grow beyond their natural peanut size."
"I'm insulted," Xander's playful voice announced his presence in the library. "I'll have you know that my brain is at least the size of a walnut."
"A walnut, huh?" Faith murmured as she wore a lopsided grin. "Looks like I need to update my info."
"Obviously," said Xander with a solemn nod. He leaned down to stop his face only inches from Faith's and reaching out he tapped her on the nose. "I bring tidings of good news, my lady."
"Oh yeah?" asked Faith playfully. "And what good news would that be? G-man giving me an allowance?"
"No, we're talking about something that's actually happening in this century," said Xander in dry tones.
"Xander," said Willow with a sigh. "Just tell us before a century actually goes by."
Wearing a slightly wounded expression Xander pressed a hand to his chest and said, "You don't attack the messenger. At least not before he gives you the message."
"So what's the message?" Faith prompted before Willow blew her stack from all of Xander's joking around.
"I have two words for you," Xander began as a silly smile spread across his features. "Cheerleading tryouts."
Quirking an eyebrow, Faith looked to Willow and said, "Well that wasn't as momentous as I thought it'd be."
"Got that right," said Willow almost sourly.
"I am astonished I tell you, astonished!" Xander cried out as his hands flew into the air. "I thought that we could do some nice male bonding, Faith. Check out the babes and make lewd comments. But no, you reject me."
"Xander," said Willow with slow enunciation. "Faith is a girl. Why would she want to do guy things with you?"
"She's not a girly girl," explained Xander. When they gave him skeptical looks at this he sighed and said, "Does she act like a regular girl? No. Does she dress like a regular girl? No. Does she date like a regular girl? No. Does she--"
"We get the point," Faith interrupted in dry tones.
"Besides," Xander waggled his eyebrows as he leaned down to look into Faith's eyes. "Cordelia is there."
"Cordelia?" Faith immediately brightened and her dark brown eyes gained a gleam of definite interest.
Wearing a smile of pure triumph, Xander slowly nodded his head as he said, "Yup. Cordelia's in the gym as we speak. Dressed in a very tight outfit and--"
Xander didn't get a chance to continue because seconds later Faith was up and out of her seat. Running out of the library, she called to him, "Thanks X! Later!"
"Ah," said Xander as he gave a strange near maniacal chuckle. "My plan is nearing fruition. Next comes Baywatch marathons and lengthy discussions on boobs."
Giving him an odd look, Willow shook her head and rose to her feet. "You really need to get more male friends," she commented.
"Why should I?" asked Xander with a wide grin. "I'm having fun hanging with Faith. Next to her any guy is boring. Besides," he confided. "I can't think of anything that I enjoy more than seeing Cordelia get all nervous around Faith. It just gives me a happy feeling that I can't quite describe."
"Right," said Willow as she smiled at him. "I think that you just like torturing Cordelia."
"That too," Xander admitted slyly.
They were about to leave the library when Giles burst out of his office holding a book as he said, "Faith! I've just found--" He stopped talking when he saw that Faith was gone and locked his gaze on Xander and Willow. "Where did she go?"
Xander and Willow exchanged a look before they sheepishly turned to Giles and said, "The gym."
"The gym?" Giles repeated. "Why on earth would she be there? She has that class during third period."
Exchanging another look, Xander and Willow finally turned to Giles and simply said, "Cordelia."
At this comment Giles opened his mouth but nothing came out. Seeing their opportunity for escape, Xander and Willow quickly dashed out of the library to leave him alone.
When Giles recovered his wits and found himself in a empty library he shook his head. "The folly of youth," he murmured to himself as he walked back into his office.
* * * * * *
Cordelia watched Amber Grove go through her an extensive stretching routine and grimaced. "Really," she said to herself. "Who does she think she is?"
"Next to you she's nothing, sweets," a low voice purred in her ear and whirling around Cordelia saw a smiling Faith. "Love the outfit," Faith said in sultry tones while she inspected Cordelia's frame with lidded eyes.
"Thanks," Cordelia replied with a slight stammer.
She quickly folded her arms over her chest and felt quite naked in her exercise clothes which consisted of nothing more than a sports bra and excessively tight spandex shorts. Cordelia hadn't been expecting to run into Faith dressed like this. She was sure that the other girl would have absolutely no interest in cheerleading or its tryouts. So why was she here?
She quickly regained her famous composure that always seemed to be shaken by Faith's presence. "Why are you here?" asked Cordelia in slight disdain or at least she hoped that sounded like disdain and not anxiety again.
"I'm here to watch you," said Faith with complete candor as she gave a slow smile. "Why else would I be here? None of these other girls can keep my interest."
"And I can?" Cordelia asked quietly, drawn against her will from sheer curiosity to voice the question.
"Oh yeah," drawled Faith as her dark brown eyes twinkled. "You've got my complete interest." She tipped her head back to stare at the ceiling and said, "You may act like the rest of these snits but inside you're different."
Blinking at this, Cordelia asked, "How do you know that? You don't even really know me."
"Yet," murmured Faith as she met their eyes. At this, Cordelia shivered and Faith averted her gaze to look at the ceiling once more. "Lets just say that I have a feeling when it comes to you. I seem to be something and you seem to be something but are we both really what we seem to be?"
"I don't get you," said Cordelia in confusion as she shook her head. "Are you this weird on purpose or does it just come naturally?"
"Maybe both," said Faith with a small smile.
"Whatever," Cordelia rolled her eyes. It was then that they called out the first name for tryouts and she grimaced on hearing Amber's name. She was about to say something about the other girl when she was interrupted.
Her hazel eyes locked on Xander with definite disdain and Cordelia said, "Would you at least try to get a life?"
"No, but you could always ask your Daddy to go and buy me one," retorted Xander as he smirked.
"And the sniping ensues," Willow said as she stood next to Faith on the gym floor.
"Hey Will," greeted Faith. "You guys here to check out all the cheerleading action?"
Giving Faith a wry smile Willow replied, "It's more like he dragged me along so I can watch as he ogles the cheerleaders."
"Sounds like a plan," Faith said. "A bad plan but a plan nevertheless." She turned to look at the mesmerized Xander and chuckled. "Like the view, X?"
For a reply Xander gave a mute nod and followed Amber's movements with his eyes. At this reaction Cordelia sniffed and said, "She's not all that good. I'm a way better dancer than her. Just you wait and see."
"Oh, I'll wait," Faith purred as she fixed a burning gaze on Cordelia who reddened slightly at the comment.
Faith was about to say something more to the already nervous Cordelia when she heard Willow call out, "Amy! I didn't know that you were trying out for cheerleading."
Averting her gaze Faith looked at the figure of a slender blonde who wore a nervous but pretty smile on her features as she neared the group. "Yeah," replied Amy. She pushed some stray hairs behind her ear and continued, "For all the good that it'll do me. Amber's really talented."
"She's obnoxious," Cordelia cut in as she grimaced again. Faith was beginning to notice that every time Amber's name was mentioned Cordelia grimaced. She thought that it was sort of cute in a strange way. "What does she think this is? Laker girl tryouts? Please."
"I heard that she turned them down," confided Willow in tones of utter solemnity.
At this comment, Faith chuckled and Cordelia shot Willow a withering look before she decided to turn her back to Amber's performance. If she watched it any longer she knew she'd be driven insane. After a moment, Cordelia felt a soft breath on her skin and a whisper in her ear.
"I believe you," murmured Faith. "The way that you move shows you're a better dancer."
"Oh?" asked Cordelia. She pulled back to lock their eyes and was surprised at the candor she saw in Faith's dark brown gaze. "Why do you say that?"
"It's simple," said Faith with a smile. "You've got this grace about you. It looks like you float instead of walking. And that's what a dancer has gotta have. Right?"
"Right," Cordelia said. Feeling stunned she gave a short nod and asked, "But how did you know--"
"Amber's on fire!" interrupted Willow.
Cordelia grimaced and shot the redhead a dirty look. "Enough hyperbole," she said. "I'm trying to talk to Faith."
"No!" Willow emphasized more strongly. "I mean that she's really on fire. Like burning ouch fire."
"Burning ouch fire?" repeated Faith. She moved her gaze from Cordelia just in time to see Amber's pom poms burst into flames.
Immediately, Faith went running towards Amber as she took off her leather jacket and used it to put out the fire that had now spread to Amber's arms. Everyone watched as Faith held the girl in a tight embrace, Amber having fainted from the shock.
Watching this with wide eyes, Xander said numbly, "That's burning ouch fire all right."
Cordelia in the meantime, merely grimaced again.
* * * * * *
"And poof! It's flame on," said Faith as she related the story of Amber in the gym to Giles.
Giles formed a small thoughtful frown and wandered off towards a bookshelf in the back of the library. "Cases of spontaneous combustion are rare," he said. "And they usually leave next to nothing of the victim left."
"She would've been nothing," said Cordelia in what sounded to be like a grumble. "If Faith didn't pounce on her like she did."
Faith quirked an eyebrow at Cordelia's choice of words, then turned her attention to Giles who was wandering back their way. "I'm guessing that this wasn't the spiffy work of a vampire?" she asked in droll tones.
"I shouldn't think so," said Giles. He walked to the table and placed the book down on it. "This is something else entirely new. It's part of the charm of living on the Hellmouth. We have a cornucopia of fiends to deal with."
"Right," Xander said very slowly as he eyed Giles like he were some type of mutant. "Fiends are a good thing."
"G-man," began Faith thoughtfully. "Do people who spontaneously combust have anything in common? Did they eat some bad chicken before it happened or what?"
"Rage," Giles replied promptly while he looked up from the book he'd been reading. "All the victims of it were enraged or terribly upset when it occurred."
"So that's a no on the bad chicken," quipped Xander. When everyone looked his way he innocently said, "What? I'm only trying to lighten the mood here. You realize that burning cheerleaders isn't a good thing for school spirit."
Shaking her head, Faith then ran her fingers through her hair and looked up at the ceiling. "Looks like I gotta find out the deal with Amber," she murmured. "It could be that she's done this spontaneous burning thing before."
"That would mean hacking into the school's computer database," piped up Willow. She rose to her feet and wore a wide smile. "Finally something I can do."
Following suit, Xander rose up out of his chair and crossed to Faith. Giving her a lopsided grin he said, "And I'll try to round up the rumors on Amber."
"Guys," said Faith in wonderment. "You don't have to help me with this. I'd understand if you didn't want to..."
"Are you kidding?" Xander asked. "This is the most fun I've had in my life. Vampires, burning cheerleaders, who could ask for more? Plus we promise to be careful."
"Oh so very careful," agreed Willow with a vigorous nod of her head. "And besides, we want to help you. That's what friends do. They help each other."
"And they give presents," added Xander playfully.
"You guys," said Faith softly. Her dark brown eyes crinkled around the edges as she smiled. "Okay. Will hacks the computers and X is rumor mill man."
"We're there!" said Xander with a wide grin.
Willow nodded vigorously and said, "So we've got a plan then. I mean, everyone has something to do."
There was a moment of silence and almost against their will, everyone looked at Cordelia who was silent and sitting in her chair with a bored expression on her features.
Noticing their attention, Cordelia said, "What? Do I look like Velma from Scooby Doo to you?"
"Scooby Doo to you," Xander repeated as he gave a strange chuckle. "That rhymes."
There was another moment of silence as everyone gave Xander a mutual look before Cordelia rose to her feet. "I suppose that I could ask the cheerleaders what they know about Amber," she said reluctantly. "But that's it."
"That's plenty," said Faith quietly. "Thanks a ton for the help, Cordelia. I really appreciate it."
At this comment, Cordelia rewarded Faith with a puzzled look before she said, "You're welcome."
Cordelia then rushed out of the library while Faith watched her exit with a soft smile on her features. Once she left, Xander repeated incredulously, "Thanks a ton for the help? I really appreciate it?"
"X?" Faith said in sugary tones as she beckoned him closer by curling her index finger.
"Yeah?" Xander replied and leaned towards her.
"Shut up," retorted Faith before she gave him a gentle slap on the cheek and strode out of the library.
"I don't think she likes the teasing," said Willow who was watching Faith's departure.
Touching his cheek, Xander grinned and said, "I knew that she was into the rough stuff. The leather tips you off." As he said this he gave his strange chuckle.
Seconds later, Giles and Willow exchanged a bemused look while Xander continued to chuckle strangely.
* * * * * *
Faith turned the corner to find Cordelia futilely trying to open her locker. Walking quietly, she stopped behind the other girl and stood on her tip toes. Faith then leaned forward to whisper into Cordelia's ear, "Need any help?"
Jumping slightly, Cordelia gave Faith an exasperated look and said, "Are you trying to give me a heart attack?"
"Not when there are better things to give you," said Faith in sensuous tones.
"Like what?" Cordelia asked in her usual tones of confidence. She wanted to get over the anxiety that Faith's presence caused her and she figured the best way to do that was to act like her usual self. Which was confident to the level of near arrogance.
Seeming intrigued by this new side of Cordelia, the slayer tilted her head to one side. "Lots of things," said Faith. "A kiss for one."
"A kiss?" repeated Cordelia and her breath caught as she couldn't help but remember the last time they'd done that.
"Do you want me to give you a kiss?" asked Faith. She slowly moved closer to Cordelia so their lips were only inches apart. She bore her dark brown gaze into Cordelia's hazel one and confessed, "I want you to give me a kiss."
Cordelia was about to respond when Faith suddenly pulled away and took the lock that the tall brunette had been trying to open then snapped it open. "See," began Faith. "It just had to be jimmied a little. It wasn't broken."
She could only blink at Faith's odd behavior but it was then that she heard Harmony call out, "Cordy! I've been looking for you absolutely everywhere."
"Harmony," said Cordelia as she shot Faith a grateful look of the corner of her eye.
The slayer merely smiled in response and giving a gesture towards the quad she said, "I've got to split. Thanks for telling me about Chemistry."
As she walked away Faith could hear Harmony as she asked, "What did she want, Cordy?"
Faith chuckled at the emphasis Harmony had placed on the word 'she' which made her sound like some type of vermin. If she recalled correctly, Cordelia didn't seem all that happy to see Harmony. Maybe Cordelia wasn't as happy with her life as she thought she was. Mulling over this, Faith pulled a jolly rancher from her pocket and began to unwrap it.
Popping the jolly rancher into her mouth, Faith looked up at the blue sky and said, "Yup. She likes me."
* * * * * *
"I'm telling you this is a great show," Faith mumbled through her mouth full of ding dongs.
Giles raised an eyebrow and replied, "I didn't expect you to be a fan of this type of program."
"What?" said Faith as she tore her eyes away from the television, which was now on commercial. "I don't look like a Trekkie to you?"
"I wouldn't know what a Trekkie looks like," said Giles dryly. "But I imagine that you're not a typical one."
"Maybe," said Faith. She paused to open another package of ding dongs and said, "I started watching it when I was a little kid with my Dad. When he left... I kept watching. It made me feel close to him somehow." She sighed then said, "I like this series the best. It's gotten a whole lot better since Seven was introduced."
"The woman in the incredibly tight outfit?" Giles asked as he flushed a bit.
"Yeah, that'd be her," Faith chuckled. "I always dug the Borg. All mechanical and efficient." She looked at Giles and smirked. "Sort of like you G-man."
"Very funny," said Giles. He averted his eyes back to the television and said, "Your program is returning."
Immediately, Faith's eyes fixated on the television and after a moment she grumbled, "It's another Paris scene." She focused her attention on her pile of food and began munching on another ding dong. "That guy just irks me."
"Faith," began Giles slowly. "What happened to your father?" When she gave him a hard stare he added hastily, "If I may ask."
With a wan smile, Faith said dryly, "I hate to tell you this, but you already did ask."
"I'm sorry," Giles said quickly. "I only--"
"It's okay," interrupted Faith with a sigh. "I'm sorry for sounding like a bitch. You've been real good to me but I've never talked about him. Never."
"Why is that?" asked Giles softly.
Heaving another sigh, Faith fixed her gaze on the ceiling and said, "I loved my Dad so much, y'know? I was this total Daddy's girl when I was little. I think that's what pissed my Mom off so much. Even after he left us, I still loved him best. Hell, I adored him... to me he was it. The end all and be all of everything. When he took off Mom got rid of his name. She said she didn't want to have anything of his but me?" She paused to chuckle. "I kept his name. It was a little thing but it made her so angry that I wanted to keep it. I guess to her it was like keeping him." Faith was quiet for a moment before she looked to Giles and asked, "What're your folks like?"
"They were very proper," said Giles with a smile. "So much so that I rebelled against them. I did everything that I knew they wouldn't approve of just to be difficult. It took me a very long time to even have a decent talk with my parents."
"G-man the teenage terror, huh?" said Faith as she chuckled. "That's pretty cool. I guess you could say I did the same thing with my Mom. I was a real shit after my Dad left but when she started the drinking..." she trailed off in lost tones. Faith looked up at the ceiling again and said, "I sorta became the parent. I had to take care of her, y'know? After awhile I couldn't take it anymore and I had to split. That's when I met you."
Giles was about to reply when Faith turned her eyes back to the television and exclaimed, "Janeway's on! You got to check out her voice G-man. It's ubersexy."
Slowly Giles moved his thoughtful gaze from Faith back to the television and asked, "Who is Janeway and what exactly is ubersexy?"
Keeping her eyes fixated on the television Faith began to detail with certain enthusiasm the various ubersexy qualities of Captain Janeway of the Starship Voyager to an attentive Giles. And when the show went on commercial they were still discussing Janeway's various qualities and in that moment Faith felt like she was home again.
* * * * * *
"They closed off the gym?" asked Faith in sardonic tones as she smirked. "You've gotta be kidding."
"I kid not," said Willow solemnly. "The doors are sealed and no one enters or leaves the premises. Apparently they need total privacy to choose the new cheerleaders."
Lunch period had just started and they were eating outside in the quad since Faith had decided to not eat in the library with Giles for a change. She figured that it was time to be social for a change and hang with her friends.
"Huh," Faith commented. She leaned back to bask in the warm light of the sun and squinted her eyes. "You don't think they're doing something weird in there, do you?"
"They're cheerleaders," said Willow as she opened her lunch. "That in itself is weird. Their jobs are to jump around in scantily clad outfits and cheer. That's weird."
Chuckling at this Faith said, "Weird to some and fun to none. Whatever floats your boat, right Will?"
"Don't all boats float?" asked Xander as he appeared out of nowhere to stand behind them.
"Not the Craptanic," Faith smiled at Xander who sat in between them on the stone bench so they could observe the people in the quad. "What took you so long?"
"Had to decide which disgusting lunch unedibles to try and make edible," said Xander.
Studying his food, Faith's lips quirked in an impish smile as she said, "Fries are unedible now?"
"Semi-edible," Xander revealed solemnly. "But only if you put at least twenty packets of ketchup on them." He then reached into his pocket to reveal at least twenty packets of ketchup which he dumped in a pile on the bench.
"You guys find anything on Amber?" asked Faith. She opened a bag of chips and began to munch on them. "I did some snooping but she checked out normal. For a prep."
"She got detention once," said Willow. "For smoking. For regular smoking, I mean, with a cigarette not like being on burning ouch fire and..."
"I getcha Will," said Faith with a grin. "How about you, X? Find anything out?"
"Just that she's a primo dancer and everyone figured she was a deadlock to make the squad," said Xander as he drenched his fries in a pile of ketchup.
Munching on another handful of chips, Faith said, "I got the same thing. But if Amber's not our girl then who is? I can't let someone go around torching people."
Willow and Xander studied Faith's thoughtful expression then Xander suggested, "To the library?"
"Yeah," Faith murmured as she stood up and held her bag of chips in one hand. "To the library."
They were about to exit the quad when several girls rushed past them and Xander said, "Looks like they're posting cheerleading list. Oh, the excitement. Oh, the thrill. Oh, the possibility of a cat fight breaking out."
After he said the last part, Xander went running towards the crowd leaving Faith and Willow to stare after him. Nearing the crowd they came to a stop next to the blonde that Faith vaguely remembered from the gym. She thought that her name was Amy.
"Amy," said Willow to the blonde. Hearing this, Faith smirked. Yup, her memory was still in perfect condition. "Have you seen the list yet? Did you make it?"
"No, I can't get through the crowd," said Amy in disappointment. "I thought I'd just wait it out."
"Why?" asked Faith as she blinked in confusion.
At that moment, Xander walked towards the group holding his arm. "Those girls hit hard," he complained. "And I didn't even get a good look at the list."
"That's why," said Amy with a sheepish smile.
"Leave it to me," Faith said confidently before she strode towards the crowd of manic girls.
Faith wound through the crowd and towards the list. Coming to a halt behind a familiar brown haired figure Faith lightly touched the small of her back. And an instant later, she was looking into Cordelia's hazel eyes.
"You're trying to give me a heart attack," Cordelia accused in almost playful tones. "Don't lie."
"Lie? To you? Never sweets," said Faith as she formed a slow smile. Tilting her head to one side she said, "I sense happiness. You make the squad?"
"Of course," said Cordelia as she flipped her hair over her shoulder in an exaggerated movement. She gave a slight giggle and quirked her eyebrow like she had seen Faith do before. "Was there ever any doubt?"
"Not for me," Faith replied easily. "Do me a favor? Can you see if someone named Amy made the team?"
"I don't know..." Cordelia said in slow playful teasing and Faith couldn't help but smile at this.
"Y'know," said Faith lowly as she leaned forward to whisper into Cordelia's ear. "The longer that we stand here talking to each other the more there's a chance that your friends will see us. Then what would you do?"
Frowning at this comment and the tone in Faith's voice, Cordelia said defensively, "I don't care what they think. I can talk to whoever I want to."
"Right," Faith said with clear skepticism. "You just keep on telling yourself that and maybe it'll be true."
Cordelia narrowed her hazel eyes but turned towards the list anyway and searched for the name Amy. "Lucky for you," she said. "There's only one Amy on the list. She's made first alternate, so maybe she'll get to cheer sometimes."
"What do you mean?" asked Faith nonplused. "Isn't an alternate on the squad too?"
"No silly," said Cordelia as she rolled her eyes. "An alternate is what it sounds like. An alternate. They fill in when someone on the squad gets sick. Like backup."
"And Amy's the first one," repeated Faith as she gave a slow nod. "All right. I got it." Shooting Cordelia a big smile she said, "Thanks for the help. See you later!"
Watching Faith's hasty exit through the crowd of girls Cordelia ignored someone bumping into her as she kept her gaze focused on Faith. "Yeah," she said faintly. "Later."
"I got your list info," said Faith as she neared an anxious Amy who was hanging on her every word. "You didn't make the team but you're the first alternate. That's still pretty good, right? Cordelia said you can still cheer."
Seconds after the words left Faith's mouth, Amy went running down the hallway obviously upset. Stunned at this reaction, Faith looked to Willow and Xander.
"Don't tell me," Faith said wearily. "I know. It had to be something that I said."
* * * * * *
"Her Mom was this big cheerleader back in the old days," said Willow with her usual dramatic flair. "Amy has always been sort of forced into doing whatever her Mom wants. That's probably why she was so upset."
The group was now gathered in the library to tell Giles the current events, all of them having given up on a futile search to find and try to comfort Amy.
"Damn," Faith gave a low wolf whistle. "Sounds like she has some reasons to set Amber on fire."
"Wait a minute," said Giles in skeptical tones. He pushed his wire rim glasses up the bridge of his nose. "Are you saying that this girl is casting horrible disfiguring spells merely to become a cheerleader?"
"Wow," said Xander in mock amazement. "This is just like an after school special. Parental pressure gone crazy."
Everyone gave Xander yet another mutual look before Giles shook his head and said, "I don't think we should make rash decisions, Faith. What you first need to do is find some evidence that Amy is responsible for the incident with Amber because if she is it could mean only one thing."
"I give. What's it mean?" asked Faith.
"That she's a witch," supplied Giles in simple but grave tones. "A witch with very strong powers."
There was a moment of silence before Faith heaved a sigh and muttered, "That's just peachy."
* * * * * *
In a darkened room, lit only by the light of a few sparse candles the smell of sulfur filled the air. Above a black cauldron that brewed with a strange green substance stood a figure masked in the shadows.
They held a small doll over the brewing cauldron and slowly began to wrap a hair band around the doll's head while they said, "Give me the power, give me the dark. I call on you the laughing gods. Let your blackness crawl beneath my skin. Accept this sacrifice. Cordelia... feed on her."
And then they dropped the doll into the cauldron.
* * * * * *
"Rough draft," Willow moaned as they walked out of their advanced English class. "I can't believe our rough draft is due tomorrow. My story is so not rough draft!"
"I can relate girlfriend," said Faith with a sigh. She adjusted her backpack as they walked to their next class. "Just when I think I have my story done I see another damn mistake. It's like I'm stuck in this cycle of constant revising."
"About your story," Willow formed a teasing smile. "I've been wanting to ask you... why Tiffany?"
"Aw, Will, not you too," said Faith in exasperation. "I just got done talking to Owen about that. What's wrong with the name Tiffany for a vampire slayer?"
Her smile widening Willow said, "You have to admit that it's kind of an unusual choice for you, Faith."
"And what exactly did you think I was going to name her? Switchblade Sally?" asked Faith dryly.
"Weeeell," said Willow in false consideration.
Shaking her head, Faith pulled open the door to their class and said, "Dork. You are a big dork."
"I might be a dork," Willow said as she breezed past Faith and into the classroom. "But you're a dork's friend."
"That I am," said Faith with a chuckle. She was about to follow Willow into the class room when she saw Cordelia wandering down the hall in a daze.
"Faith?" asked Willow as she turned around. "What's with the hovering? Come on, class is starting soon."
Looking quickly to her friend, Faith frowned slightly and said, "I can't... I gotta jet. I'm sorry, Will."
With that, Faith took off down the hallway and left a confused Willow behind her. Confused only until, she got curious and peered down the hallway to see exactly who Faith was pursuing.
"Cordelia," murmured Willow. She shook her head and gave a bemused smile. "She really does have it bad."
* * * * * *
When she ran out of the school, Faith saw Cordelia still wandering in a daze. And to be more precise she was wandering into the school parking lot.
A parking lot filled with cars. One of which was the student drivers car that was starting up and appeared as if it might back into the dazed Cordelia.
Moving into in all out run, Faith grabbed Cordelia by the waist and pulled her out from behind the car just as it was backing up. The result was the car slamming into Faith's right arm which was extended as if to stop the car by sheer will as her left arm was holding Cordelia close to her.
"Are you all right?!" exclaimed Mr. Paul, the drivers education teacher, as he jumped out of the car. Before Faith could say anything he looked to the student driver and said, "That's the fifth time that you've almost hit someone, Jim!"
Faith ignored the rants of Mr. Paul and the nervous apologies of the student named Jim, to turn her attention to Cordelia who was staring off into the distance.
"Cordelia?" asked Faith quietly. She gingerly lifted her right arm, which was feeling a bit sore from the car hitting it, so that she could cup Cordelia's cheek with her hand. "Are you all right? Didn't you see the car backing up?"
"Faith?" said Cordelia in slow tones of recognition. Her mahogany head moved in the general direction of Faith's voice and she said in panicked tones, "No... I couldn't. I can't see anything. Faith," she repeated strongly. "I can't see!"
Blinking at this, Faith reached up to cup Cordelia's face in both her hands and pulled her head down so she could peer into the tall brunette's eyes.
Eyes that were completely rolled back.
Forming a deep scowl at this, Faith tried to calm Cordelia by pulling her closer in a gentle hug. "It's okay," she reassured quietly. "I'll take you to G-man. He'll know what to do. He can fix this."
Walking away from the crowd that was starting to form due to the near accident, Faith headed towards the library with one arm around Cordelia's waist and the other holding her hand.
A grim look on her pretty features Faith muttered in dark and low tones, "And I'll fix her too. Count on it."
* * * * * *
"It should wear off in a hour or so," murmured Giles as he pulled back after examining Cordelia's eyes closely.
"Lemme guess," said Faith. She paused to fold her arms across her chest in a solemn motion. "This was some big time witchcraft, am I right?"
"Correct," Giles said. He paused to adjust his wire rim glasses and walk into his office. "The blinding spell is a fairly common one but still a powerful spell for witches," he called out. When Giles returned he was flipping through a book in serious study. "The spell is used most often for exterminating the enemies of witches."
Right after he said this, Faith rewarded him with a harsh glare and gestured towards the still blind, but not deaf, Cordelia who was sitting at the library table.
"I'm sorry," said Giles hastily in nervously apologetic tones. "I didn't mean for it to sound like--"
"Forget it," said Cordelia sharply. She turned her head in the general direction Giles stood in and asked, "A witch did this to me? A real broom flying witch?" Cordelia snorted then muttered under her breath, "It figures in this school."
"Yes, well," said Giles. He turned his gaze to Faith and said, "I think that you ought to take Cordelia home before anyone gets suspicious about her condition."
"Right," Faith gave a short nod.
"Home?" Cordelia echoed. Her pretty features brightened and she asked, "Are you telling me I get a free day thanks to this? Hey, maybe witches aren't all that bad."
Shaking her head at this, Faith walked to the other girl and helped her out of her seat. "Dork," she said fondly. "You almost get hit by a car and now you're thanking her?"
"Well, the car thing sucked I admit," said Cordelia in deliberation. "But now I get off school. And besides, I know that I'll be safe if I'm with you."
Blinking in surprise, Faith studied Cordelia's utterly serious features before the tall brunette said, "What's wrong? We going or not? Because I want to hear my soaps."
"Nothing's wrong," said Faith as she shook her head in quiet amazement. "Nothing's wrong at all."
"Good," said Cordelia with a sigh. "Because after this I don't think I could take anything else going wrong."
"Yeah," Faith murmured. A slow smile spread across her features as she led Cordelia out of the library. "Me too."
* * * * * *
"Livin' la vida loca--"
The music blared out of the radio at a mammoth volume the instant that Faith turned key in the ignition to Cordelia's Range Rover. And seconds later, Faith was frantically switching radio stations.
"I hate that fucking song," muttered Faith darkly. "If I ever met that guy he won't be livin' la vida anything."
Giggling at this, Cordelia said, "I guess you don't go much for the dance music, huh?"
"Nah," said Faith as she finally settled on listening to an alternative rock station. "I like the kinda music that causes riots and frenzied mosh pits."
"I should've known," said Cordelia with a small smile. She paused for a moment then quietly asked, "Who did this to me? You must have some idea."
Pulling out of the parking lot, Faith heaved a sigh as she scanned the intersection before pulling out into the street. "We're not really sure," she admitted. "We don't have any proof but I'm thinking it might be that girl, Amy."
"Amy?" Cordelia whispered after a moment and Faith saw her visibly pale out of the corner of her eye.
"Cordelia," said Faith slowly as she glanced at the other girl. They were paused at a stop light. "Did you do anything to her? Because if you did..."
"So what if I did?" said Cordelia indignantly. "Does that mean I deserved this and you're going to get her go?"
"Girl," said Faith with exasperation as she moved the Range Rover forward as the light turned green. "You make me crazy. You do know that, right?" She shook her head a bit then continued, "Of course I won't let her go but it'd help to explain some things. C'mon," she said in more gentle tones. "Tell me what happened. Please, Cordelia."
Biting her lip, Cordelia said reluctantly, "I may have sort of threatened her in the locker room."
"You threatened her?" Faith repeated incredulously. "With what? Your nail file?"
"Funny," said Cordelia sarcastically. "No. I just threatened her with more unpopularity if I didn't make the squad. That's all... nothing major. I promise you."
"Guess it was major to her," said Faith. She gave Cordelia another quick look as she asked, "Why'd you threaten her anyway? Seems weird."
"She bumped into me during cheerleading tryouts and made me fall down," Cordelia said sheepishly. "I thought that I might not make the squad because of her."
"Cordelia," said Faith with a deep sigh. She shook her head and gave a wry smile. "What am I gonna do with you?"
Considering this for a moment, Cordelia turned bright red from whatever she was thinking. She was quiet before she asked, "Where are we? My house is on Oak Lane."
"Gee whiz," Faith drawled as she smirked. "It looks like we're driving on Oak Lane. How psychic friend of me."
"How did you know where I lived?" asked Cordelia rather suspiciously. "Have you been stalking me?"
"Please," said Faith in sardonic tones. "Don't flatter yourself sweet cheeks. I may like you but I'd never sink to that desperate level of the crush zone."
"Then how did you know?" prodded Cordelia, mulling over Faith's mention of the words like and crush in reference to her.
"Okay," Faith said with some hesitation. "I had Willow hack into your file at school."
"Why?" asked Cordelia in confusion.
Releasing a sigh, Faith pulled up the long road that led to Cordelia's house she said, "I was curious, okay? I want to know you and that's not the easiest thing to do."
"So you had Willow hack into my files," Cordelia said with exasperation. She let her head fall back against the head rest and said, "You could've just asked me, Faith."
"Yeah, right," said Faith sarcastically. "You're really the receptive type. When am I supposed to talk to you? At school? At the Bronze?" She snorted then continued, "Not with your stupid lemming hanging friends around I can't."
Grimacing at this, Cordelia said, "My friends aren't lemmings and I don't think you should call them that."
"If they're not lemmings then how come they all dress, talk, and think alike?" asked Faith as she brought the Range Rover to a stop in front of Cordelia's gigantic house.
House, right. It looked more like a mansion to Faith. She eyed it with wide dark brown eyes as she turned off the ignition and pulled out the keys. Cordelia was silent and had what looked like to be a pout of her pretty features. It was an expression that Faith found somewhat charming.
Unbuckling her seat belt, she exited the car to cross over to the passenger side. Faith opened the door then leaned across Cordelia's lap to unbuckle her seat belt.
Feeling the slight pressure of Faith's weight pressing into her legs Cordelia asked, "What are you doing?"
Smiling at the nervous tone in Cordelia's voice Faith looked up at the other girl and unbuckled her seat belt. "Not much," she murmured. "Just undoing your seat belt."
"Oh," said Cordelia softly and Faith couldn't tell if she was disappointed or relieved to hear this.
"C'mon," Faith said as she gently took Cordelia's hand and helped her step out of the vehicle. "Lets get you inside."
After a moment of silence, they stopped at the front door to the house and Cordelia quietly said, "Faith?"
"Yeah?" Faith turned to look at Cordelia who had a worried expression on her features as she looked off into the distance.
"How do my eyes look?" asked Cordelia anxiously. "I don't want to worry Maria and--"
"They look fine," interrupted Faith. She reached out to clasp Cordelia's hands in gentle reassurance. "They went back to normal awhile ago. You still can't see yet?"
"No," said Cordelia in wan tones as she shook her head. "I can see some blurs of light but that's it." She paused before her unfocused hazel eyes rested on Faith. "Are you positive that I look okay?"
"Yeah," murmured Faith, who formed a tender smile. "I'm positive. You look more than okay, beautiful."
And for a response Cordelia's face lit up in a smile.
* * * * * *
"Which leaves me with one question," mused Giles. "Why would anyone want to hurt Cordelia?"
"You have met her, right?" asked Xander.
At this comment, Willow giggled and Giles shot him yet another dry look of exasperation. School was over and they were at the library to see what had become of the absent Faith who was last seen chasing after Cordelia.
"Faith seems to think it's this Amy character who has been casting the spells," said Giles. He slowly turned his gaze to Willow and said, "You seem to be acquainted with her. Do you think she's capable of such things?"
"I think so," said Willow sadly. "Her Mom is sort of controlling and Amy's always been pressured to do what she wants. Her Mom definitely wants her on that squad. All Amy has to do is get rid of one of the cheerleaders on the squad to be able to cheer with them."
"So her mother could be partially responsible for this," murmured Giles. His face lit up in a smile and he made a fist then punched his open palm with it. "That's it!" Giles exclaimed. "We'll simply talk to her mother."
"Wait a minute," said Xander skeptically as he waved his hands about. "We're going to tattle on a witch? Am I the only one thinking this might be very bad for our health?"
Ignoring Xander, the Watcher wandered over to the computer where Willow sat and was already going through its files. "Find the number for Cordelia's house," said Giles quickly. "We must tell her of our plan immediately."
"Plan?" echoed Xander. "What plan? I heard no plan."
"We're going to talk to Amy's mother," said Willow who kept working on the computer. "Maybe get her to back off Amy for awhile so all this stuff will stop happening."
"Oh, that's a great plan," Xander said as he gave an anxious laugh. "That's just great." He paused for a moment to look hard at Giles. "Did you just say Cordelia's house?"
"Yes," said Giles in distracted tones. "That's where Faith is. She drove Cordelia home after the incident."
"Ah ha!" exclaimed Willow so loudly that both Giles and Xander jumped at her sudden outcry. When she saw their reaction she smiled apologetically and said, "Sorry. I just meant, ah ha! I found Cordelia's phone number."
Peering at the computer screen, Giles quickly read the number then dashed into his office to call Faith. This left Willow alone with Xander who gave her his patented look.
"Ah ha!" mimicked Xander as he rushed over to Willow's side. "I knew that they were up to something!"
Rolling her eyes, Willow said, "You really need to stop watching those late night movies on USA."
"I should," agreed Xander with a smirk. "But I won't."
* * * * * *
"How many fingers am I holding up?" asked Faith.
She was lounging with Cordelia in the large living room that had to be bigger than Giles entire apartment. They were sitting on the crescent shaped couch and Faith held up two fingers as she peered at Cordelia who claimed to have her near if not perfect vision back.
"Two," replied Cordelia as she smirked. She reached out to push Faith's hand down on the couch. "Honestly," she said in teasing tones. "I told you that I'm fine now."
"All right," said Faith with a mock sigh. "I'll stop bugging you about it."
Faith averted dark brown eyes to take in the figure of a calico cat wandering into the room. The cat spotted them and immediately came strolling over to Cordelia as it rubbed the side of its face up against her leg. Cordelia bent down to pick up the cat and put it in her lap as she scratched behind its ears.
"Who's your friend?" asked Faith curiously.
She never thought Cordelia was the type to have a pet. Faith always wanted to have a pet, ever since she was a little girl but she was never allowed to get one. It almost made her feel a bit envious of Cordelia. Almost.
Looking up to meet their eyes, Cordelia smiled and scratched the cat under its chin. "His name's Monet," said Cordelia as Monet purred softly. "I've had him ever since I was twelve. He's a good boy. Aren't you Monet?"
For a reply, Monet continued his low humming purr and she gave him an affectionate smile. Observing this new side to Cordelia with careful eyes Faith asked, "Monet like the painter?"
"Yeah," said Cordelia as she looked at Faith in definite surprise. "He's my favorite artist. When I was little we went to see an exhibit of his work at this museum and it was one of my happiest times. When Maria gave me one of her kittens as a birthday present I decided to name him after Monet. I know, it's pretty corny. All my friends tease me about it and say he has a weird name."
"No," Faith shook her head quietly. "I don't think it's corny at all. In fact, think it's pretty sweet."
"You do?" Cordelia asked softly.
Faith reached out to gently pet Monet's head who purred and leaned into her touch. Lifting her dark brown gaze to bore it into Cordelia's hazel one she said, "I do."
"Faith," whispered Cordelia as moved forward to cup the slayer's face in a moment of aching tenderness.
"Yeah?" Faith asked with a husky murmur. Her eyes were wide and searching as they met Cordelia's.
Drowning in the beauty of Faith's dark gaze, Cordelia said breathlessly, "I want to give you a kiss."
"Then do it," replied Faith in equally breathless tones.
Cordelia slowly leaned forward to meet Faith's lips for a soft kiss that was gentle in its exploration. The butterflies in her stomach beginning to fade away, Cordelia deepened the kiss. Just as their tongues entwined, she heard distant ring of a telephone and Maria calling out Faith's name.
Reluctantly pulling away from the slayer, Cordelia glanced towards the doorway to the living room. "We'll be there in a minute, Maria!" she shouted. After she heard the maid's confirmation of this, Cordelia turned back to Faith who was looking a bit dazed. "Hey," said Cordelia as she touched Faith's cheek in a gentle movement.
"Hey," echoed Faith. She lifted her gaze to meet their eyes. Giving a slow smile she said, "That was a wow."
"Yeah," Cordelia agreed with a smile. "It was."
Her dark brown eyes crinkling up around the edges with her smile, Faith darted forward to capture Cordelia's lips in another searing kiss. The taller brunette gave a soft moan as Faith's kisses trailed down her neckline. Winding her fingers in Faith's dark hair, Cordelia said, "The phone..."
"What about it?" Faith mumbled as she began to kiss the smooth line of Cordelia's jaw.
"It's for you," whispered Cordelia almost incoherently before Faith moved her face up to meet their eyes.
"It was?" asked Faith in honest confusion.
Instead of replying, Cordelia grabbed the back of Faith's head to pull her in for another kiss. And when Maria got tired of waiting for Cordelia to arrive, she walked into the living room to find the two girls tangled in a heated embrace.
To say that seeing the girl she had practically raised since she was only a baby passionately kissing another girl on the couch was a shocking experience for Maria wouldn't begin to justify how she was feeling at that moment.
The singular thought that resounded most clearly in Maria's mind was this: What will her parents think?
And from the way that the girls bodies now seemed to be melding together Maria knew that Cordelia wasn't worried about that at all. Giving a loud cough she smiled politely when Cordelia looked her way with a wide eyed gaze. The other girl seemed more amused than surprised at her presence.
Apparently Cordelia didn't like the shy ones.
"Phone call," said Maria. "For Miss Faith."
Maria then looked at Cordelia reassuringly before she turned on her heel and walked out of the room. As she left she could hear the girl named Faith say, "She's nice."
Yes, Maria decided with a wide smile. She definitely liked this one called Faith. She'd be good for Cordelia.
* * * * * *
"I still don't understand what took you so long to come to the phone," said Giles with confusion.
The entire group were riding in Cordelia's Range Rover and for the past ten minutes Faith had been explaining why it had taken her such a long time to pick up the phone when they'd called Cordelia's house. And Faith was starting to get more than a little bit irritated with the entire subject.
"I told you," Faith said in exasperation. "We didn't hear the phone ring or Maria say my name. End story."
"I think it's part of the story," said Xander slyly. "Not the start or the end but the big juicy part in the middle."
Shooting Xander a glare from the rearview mirror Faith said in warning tones, "X... quit it."
"I quit, I quit," said Xander quickly as he held up his hands. "No more innuendoes for today. I promise."
"Good," said Faith with a sigh as she leaned back into the front seat. She looked to Cordelia who gave her a look of gratitude before focusing on the road. "So," Faith began. "Why do we now want to make friends with witchy Amy?"
"Her Mom actually," piped up Willow. "We thought that if we got her mother to back off Amy might stop casting these spells on all the cheerleaders."
"Cheerleaders?" Cordelia retorted. "You mean me."
"That too," Willow offered sheepishly.
"At the very least by telling her mother of Amy's activities we shall help stop her actions," said Giles. "I doubt very much that she will allow Amy to keep casting them."
"Or Amy might just zap her Mom to keep her in line," said Faith dryly. "Ever think of that?"
Mulling over this, Giles said, "I hadn't considered the possibility of that happening."
"Too late now," Faith replied. "We're here."
"Bad idea," said Xander as they piled out of the Range Rover. "I knew that this was a bad idea."
Walking up to the front door, Faith rang the bell and peered through the glass. The red haired woman quickly rose from the couch and walked out of the living room. When she opened the door she said, "What? I mean, who are you?"
"We need to speak to you about your daughter," said Giles immediately as he walked in the door.
"My daughter?" repeated Catherine.
"Yeah, the one casting all the spells," said Faith.
"Spells on me!" Cordelia added huffily and at this comment Faith couldn't help but smirk.
"Spells?" repeated Catherine again. "I don't know what you're talking about..."
"Amy's casting spells on people because of you and your dumb obsession about cheerleading," said Willow.
Catherine turned to look at the other redhead and her eyes widened. "Willow?" she said softly. She shook her head and said, "I don't even care about cheerleading!"
"Right," Xander snorted. "You don't care and your daughter isn't a teen version of Bewitched."
"It's not my fault she's doing stuff," Catherine insisted heatedly as she glared at all of them.
"Then whose is it?" asked Faith sharply. "You're her mother. Shouldn't you be held partially responsible?"
Giving a desperate laugh, Catherine said in mocking tones, "Yeah, well. Kids today. What can you do?" She froze to meet Giles eyes and said, "She's crazy. Ever since Dad... I mean, her Dad left I can't control her."
As this was going on Willow studied the half empty plate of brownies on the table and as she did this a memory came to her. A memory of her and Amy eating brownies as they talked about another one of her mother's screwy diets. She knew Catherine Madison would never eat food like this.
But Amy Madison would.
"Amy?" said Willow quietly. Ignoring the look that everyone gave her, Willow took a slow step forward to stare at Catherine's features. "It is you isn't it?"
When Catherine silently nodded, Faith was the first to respond as she said lowly, "Damn. She switched you. She switched your bodies. Didn't she?"
Wincing at this, Amy-Catherine replied, "She said that I was wasting my youth. So she took it for herself."
* * * * * *
"She keeps her things in here," said Amy. She opened the door to a crowded and dusty room.
"My God," murmured Giles as he searched the room with his eyes. "We need to find her book," he said quickly as he began to look around. "The one that specifically has the spell that she cast on Amy so we might bind her powers."
"G-man?" asked Faith. "What about this?"
She held up a small brunette barbie that had Cordelia's hair piece wrapped around its head. Upon seeing it, Cordelia grimaced and said, "It figures."
"Take it with you," Giles replied. "We need anything that she might have used to cast spells to bind her powers."
"Hey," called Xander as he opened a trunk. "What about all of these dusty book like things?"
Pushing Xander slightly off to one side, Giles looked through the trunk and held up a large book. "Yes," he said in quiet reverence. "This is the one. Good job."
"Thank you much," said Xander with a wide grin.
The group then piled out of the room in a hurry with Amy standing in the doorway. Willow paused to look at her old friend that was so much changed and grabbed her by the arm.
"Come on," Willow said strongly. "We have to get out of here before she gets home."
Giving a dim nod, Amy said, "Right."
* * * * * *
She was in the midst of cheering. In the midst of reliving her past. In the midst of enjoying her new found youth when she felt it.
She felt it all begin to drain away.
It struck her like a lightning bolt and before she knew it she collapsed, to topple the entire cheerleader pyramid. She ignored the taunts of the students and ran down the hallway towards the only place that her brat of a daughter could be doing this.
The science laboratory.
* * * * * *
"The gate is closed. Recede the dark, release the unworthy. Take of mine energy and be sated," Giles read from the book before he buried his hands inside of the pot.
It was then that the doors to the lab flung open and the figure of Catherine-Amy ran into the room. "Amy!" she shouted at the top of her lungs. "I'll get you for this!"
Forming a deep scowl, Faith stalked towards her and said, "I don't think so."
Returning the scowl, Catherine aimed a wild punch at Faith which the slayer ducked before she rose up to grasp the girl by the neck. Faith lifted her up off the ground and held her hard against the wall as she looked to Giles.
"Hurry up, G-man," Faith said tightly. "Hurry up and switch their bodies back so I can thrash the right one."
Turning his eyes back to the bubbling pot, Giles repeated in strong emphatic tones, "Release!"
There was a bright flash of light and giving a gasp of air the girl that Faith held against the wall looked at her with eyes shining with gratitude. "Thank you," she whispered.
"Amy," said Faith in satisfaction as she gently let the girl touch the ground. "Nice to meet you."
"You too," said Amy wryly.
That was when Catherine flew across the room to tackle Faith in a sudden movement. Slamming against the ground, Faith barely had time to take in what just happened when Catherine delivered a sharp punch to her jaw.
Rising to her feet, Catherine looked Amy hard in the eyes and said, "You little brat. How dare you do this to me."
"Mom..." Amy began nervously as she backed away.
"I'm going to get you for this," Catherine snarled.
"Witch!" Giles began.
Giles started to move forward when Catherine threw a harsh glare his way and with a wave of her hand she sent him flying back into Xander and Willow.
"You were always trouble," continued Catherine as she neared her daughter. "Now I'm going to put you some place where you'll never cause trouble again."
"I don't think so," Faith's voice was low and menacing.
In a quick movement, Faith darted her hand out to grab Catherine by the ankles and sent her slamming into the ground. She quickly flipped herself over on her back to glare up into Faith's eyes. With a hiss she gave a sharp swipe and scratched Faith.
"Screw this," muttered Faith who pulled back in order to deliver a strong punch to Catherine's jaw.
Just as Faith was doing this, Catherine's eyes grew dark and Faith flew across the room and into the far wall with a jarring thud. Once Faith collapsed to the ground she whirled around to face Amy.
Slowly stalking towards her daughter, Catherine said, "It was mine. That body, that life, it was mine and you took it from me."
"Oh grow up," said Cordelia derisively.
"You," hissed Catherine as she focused in on Cordelia who shot a nervous look to the recovering Faith.
"Yeah, me," Cordelia said as she backed away. "The girl that you blinded and tried to kill. Not that I mind of course..."
"I shall look upon my enemy," Catherine began in ominous tones. "I shall look upon her and the dark place will have her soul."
While Catherine said this, a swirl of dark red energy surrounded her and Cordelia looked desperately to Faith to find the other slayer gone. That was when she felt the familiar warmth of strong hands on her waist as they pulled her away from danger.
Looking at Faith with wide hazel eyes, Cordelia watched as the slayer lifted something she had drug along with her to block her body as Catherine finished the spell.
A really big pan? What was she going to do with that?
"Take her!" finished Catherine intensely as the spell moved forward in an attempt to envelope both Faith and Amy in its wrath.
But as soon as the spell hit the reflective surface of the pan it went bouncing off it and back towards Catherine. In a midst of the dark energy Catherine gave one final scream before she disappeared from the science laboratory.
Gazing at the place where Catherine had been Faith looked to Amy and said, "Welcome back."
"Thanks," Amy said quietly. "It's good to be here."
"You guys okay?" Faith called to the slowly rising Giles who was helping Xander and Willow up.
"Except for the broken bones? I'm doing just swell thanks," Xander quipped as he gave a low groan.
"Amy!" cried Willow. She quickly dashed to her friend's side and said, "Are you, you again?"
"Yeah," said Amy with a smile. "Thanks to you Will."
"And what about me?" said Faith as she formed a wounded expression. "Am I chopped liver? I think I was the one who got pounded on here. Doesn't that get anything?"
Unseen by anyone, Cordelia smoothly crossed to stand behind Faith and whisper into her ear, "A kiss."
Jumping on hearing Cordelia's voice, Faith looked up into playful hazel eyes and asked, "You trying to give me a heart attack?"
"Mmm," Cordelia murmured softly. "Not when there are better things to give you."
"Oh yeah?" Faith drawled. "Like what?"
"I'm not going to repeat myself," said Cordelia as she started to lower her lips towards Faith's.
That was when Harmony and her usual group of followers, who were passing by to use the restrooms for a make up check, got curious about all the noise coming from the normally quiet science laboratory.
They hadn't known what exactly to expect when they walked through the doors to the lab but they certainly weren't expecting to see one of their own in a near kiss with the new girl who was already considered the school freak.
They hadn't expected that at all.
So upon seeing this, they slowly backed out of the room and immediately went running down the hallway to tell every single person that they knew. Because after all, even if Cordelia was one of their oldest friends gossip was gossip. And it wasn't like Cordelia would be hanging out with them anyway. At least, not if Harmony had anything to say about it.
There was a long moment of silence as everyone contemplated what had just happened and what it would mean for Cordelia and their group as a whole.
Faith finally offered haplessly, "Woops?"
When everyone gave her a simultaneous look of disbelief Faith realized that her new line wasn't any better than her old one. Maybe she should stop even trying.
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