It Starts With Faith Season 4 -- Chapter 34 by Dreiser

TITLE: It Starts With Faith 
CHAPTER: Thirty 
AUTHOR: Dreiser 
EMAIL: dreiser0@earthlink.net 
YAHOO I.D.: dreiser3
MY REALLY LONG HOMEPAGE ADDY: http://www.angelfire.com/anime2/superhighway/Dreiser/dreiser.html
ISWF ARCHIVES: http://www.altfic.com/    --    http://www.geocities.com/shaych3/dreiser.htm 
MAILING LIST: Well, it's not really a mailing list for this fic series but just for F/C pairing in general. Check it out! http://groups.yahoo.com/group/cordyhasfaith
CONTENT: F/F romance. The stars are Faith/Cordelia. Don't like it, don't like them, please don't read the fic. 
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 redeemed money. Yes, redeemed! Life is sweet. AUTHOR'S NOTE: This chapter is fairly long but hey, I had to do it. Tell me if you like Anya and her little curse.

It Starts With Faith
By: Dreiser
-Thirty Four-

"It's dead."

Quirking an eyebrow, Faith regarded her fellow Slayer with a smirk. "Sorta has to be, us hunting vamps and all."

"Ha," Buffy replied in the driest of tones, staring down Faith. "This is the sound of me laughing at your joke. It was oh so funny. Ha."

"Meow," Faith teased, sashaying her hips as she walked in front of Buffy. She reached out to tap the blonde on her nose before bouncing backwards on her heels with a grin. "Someone's having a bitch attack. What's the what, Buff?"

"Nothing," said Buffy with a sigh. "I'm sorry," she continued, running a hand through golden locks. Peering at Faith with hazel eyes, she said, "I hate my class."

"Which one?" asked Faith.

"All of them," Buffy replied sheepishly.

Considering this, Faith studied Buffy carefully then said, "How come? Too much homework or.?"

"It's not that," said Buffy, looking off into the distance as they walked through one of the many local cemeteries. "I don't know what I want to do," she confessed. "I'm not really. well, good at anything." Facing her companion who, as expected, was opening her mouth to protest this statement, Buffy interrupted, "Don't."

Frowning now, Faith said quietly, "All right. But you gotta at least tell me how you came up with such a weird ass idea, Buff. That way I can prove you wrong."

"I came up with it by myself. Sitting alone in my room doing the obligatory angsty thoughts about my life," said Buffy. She looked at Faith and shook her head on seeing the concern there. "It's all right," Buffy assured. "I'm not going Betty Ford on you or anything. I just realized I'm only good at Slaying. I used to have dreams," Buffy said, sounding lost. "Silly ones. The sort of things that people imagine they want. Being famous, having money, maybe even some power. I don't know, I can't really remember." Meeting Faith's eyes, she said, "And now I all want is the same thing as you."

"To protect the people you love," Faith supplied. Her dark gaze inspected Buffy with slight worry. "That's something natural to want. I think we all feel that way but--"

"Everyone else knows what they want to do," Buffy said rather desperately, her eyes pleading with Faith. "I have no clue! You're studying Criminology because it's what you want, what you know you'll be good at. All I know is that I have to be a Slayer. And yeah, some part of me wants to be a Slayer just so I can help everyone. But still, I want something of my own, apart from it. Something I'm good at, that makes me special, that I can do for the rest of my life and be happy doing it." Buffy looked utterly defeated as she said, "Only I don't know what it is."

Mulling over Buffy's words, Faith murmured, "You don't gotta make up your mind now, Buff. It's not easy, figuring out what you wanna do with your life. Hell," Faith gave a wry chuckle. "I had no clue until I met G-Man and he told me it was my destiny to make vamps go poof. I guess all I can tell you is maybe think about what you like most, y'know? What you like to do the most that you can make into a career. Then take a few classes that'll relate back to that and guess what," Faith directed a playful grin at Buffy. "You might find out what you want to do."

Buffy looked at Faith for a long while before a beautiful smile spread across her features. "You're the best!" Buffy declared suddenly, embracing Faith in a hug.

"Thanks," Faith said, surprised. She smiled softly and returned the hug. Faith was going to ask about what she said that made the other Slayer so happy when she sensed the very reason they were in a cemetery. "Buff," began Faith in low tones. "Three on the left, two on the right."

"I'm left," Buffy replied, her tones equally low but holding a mischievous quality. Seconds after she said this, Buffy pulled away from Faith and dropped a stake out of her sleeve, holding it up as she smirked. "Olly olly oxen free! Red rover, red rover, bloodsuckers come over!"

"Ox in what?" a particularly confused vamp asked. Then Buffy threw her stake at him with unerring accuracy and he was nothing but a pile of very stupid dust.

"Nice one, Buff," complimented Faith, giving a brash smile as she unsheathed her wooden sword and dashed into the fray with lighting quick speed.

"Thanks, I try so hard," Buffy replied, wearing a weary and put upon expression. "Coming up with new and clever quips is becoming a full time job. Hey!" Buffy's face brightened as she ducked a punch from the vamp she was fighting, then gave a him a roundhouse kick. "I could be a comedienne. They quip a lot."

"I dunno, I think quips are more for our type of person," Faith said, dodging her opponent's wild swings. Whirling around, she smoothly stabbed the vamp in the heart while she faced Buffy. "Right?"

"Our type?" asked Buffy, frowning.

"Yeah," Faith's grin widened, slamming her fist down hard on the second vamp who groaned. Sitting on his fallen form, Faith twirled her wooden sword in her hands. Holding it inches above his heart, readying for the final strike, she said, "Superheroes."

"I can't major in being a superhero, Faith," said Buffy, rolling her eyes. She ducked another punch from a vamp as she produced her last stake and dusted him.

"I know," said Faith, smirking from where she sat in a pile of dust, looking at Buffy. "Sucks. If it was then we'd have a shit load of extra credit points by now."

"We'd be at the head of our class," Buffy said. She wore a bored expression and polished her fingers on her shirt and said, "Why yes, I've killed countless vampiric fiends that have stalked the innocent. An A++++++? Thank you, Professor. Yes, I do deserve it, don't I?"

Laughing at this, Faith took Buffy's offered hand and rose to her feet. "We kick ass, don't we?"

"We kick ass mightily," Buffy grinned.

The Slayers high fived in an odd display of machismo only to whirl around when the sound of a high pitched scream pierced the air.

"Sounds like we gotta kick ass some more," Faith commented, giving Buffy a significant look.

They were absolutely still for a moment then Buffy formed a huge smile and cried out, "Race you!"

Then the two girls almost seemed to disappear in a cloud of dust in the direction of the screaming.

Seconds later, they discovered a gang of vampires descending on a pretty strawberry blonde who was actually fending them off with a big stick. Too bad for the blonde, she didn't realize she shouldn't hit them with the big stick but stab them through the heart with it.

"Take that!" the blonde declared, slamming the stick over one of the vamps heads, making them fall to the ground.

"Hey Buff," said Faith slowly, watching this go on.

"Yeah?" asked Buffy, wincing as the girl whapped one of the vamps hard in the ribs. That had to have hurt. "I'm startin' to think it wasn't her screaming for help, it was one of these vamps," remarked Faith with a grin as she studied the girl's assault on the vampires.

"That's a first," Buffy said. "Usually we rescue everybody." She looked at Faith and said, "Should we intervene just to get it over with? I mean, she's beating them up but they're still alive," Buffy frowned now. "In an undead way."

"Might as well," Faith shrugged.

The Slayers then moved to approach the strange battle that was going on. Well, it was only a battle if someone considered petite girls whacking much larger vampires with a big stick a battle. They weren't really sure about their opinions on the matter. All the same, they stepped closer, causing the vamps eyes to widen on realizing they were in much bigger trouble now.

"Slayers! The Boss said to always avoid 'em! Scatter!" one of the vamps shrieked in panic. He tried to run away but slammed into Faith's solid frame.

Looking up at her, he paled, if that was possible, and swallowed very nervously as she smiled slowly. "Where do you think you're going?" Faith asked in low and very dangerous tones, pulling out her wooden sword. "Me and Buff are just getting ready to play."

The vamp only squeaked and seconds later, he was dust and Faith had moved onto her next victim. While this all went on, the petite blonde that been beating the vamps up dropped her big stick on the ground, making a loud thud.

Flipping a vamp onto the ground, Buffy knelt on his abdomen and looked up at the girl. "It's all right," Buffy said, giving a smile. "We'll take care of these guys for you. It's sort of what we do."

Then looking away from the girl, Buffy staked the vamp through the heart the turned to go back into the battle. An action that was slowed when she heard the girl shout out as she fled the fight, "Thanks so much! Campus security is a lot cooler than I ever imagined it to be!"

"Campus security?" Buffy echoed. She shook her head and absently staked the vamp approaching from behind. Turning to look at his dust as it fell in the air, she grinned at Faith. "All done."

"Pretty clean kill," murmured Faith, her expression distant. "But I didn't recognize these guys."

"So?" said Buffy. "New vamps are made every day and we stake them. It's not like we have a roll call."

"Yeah, I know," Faith said, wearing a thoughtful expression. "These guys were wimps, yeah, but they also were a group. A pretty organized one from how they were yelling at each other. I'm just wondering--"

"Who's their leader?"

Both Slayers turned at the sound of a new voice and observed with quiet surprise the figure of a vampire with sun kissed blonde hair done up in braids and dressed in punker fashion as she smirked at them.

"The name is Sunday," the vamp said in bored tones. "And unless I'm very mistaken, you just killed my latest recruits. That," Sunday shifted into her game face. "Really makes me grumpy, you know?"

Faith formed a slow and wicked grin as she looked at her fellow Slayer. "Are you thinkin' what I'm thinkin'?"

"That she's an imitation big bad, not the real thing, and was probably produced in Taiwan?" Buffy replied with a wide smirk, her eyes dancing with amusement.

"Exactly," Faith drawled, lowering her wooden sword and moving into the traditional stance. "Five minutes."

"I'll time," Buffy offered, pressing a button on her watch.

Observing this interaction, Sunday scowled deeply and growled, "That's it. You're going down!"

Thus began another battle.

---

Part of Tara always wondered why they met in the Twilight Zone for their meetings. Maybe it had to do with the fact a few of their members lived there, including her. Or it could be the fact that at the T-Zone no one much cared at all what their group was about.

It was perhaps the most apathetic of all the dorms.

This was proven by the fact that at the nearby Wicca meeting a small bonfire was being started. One that Tara wasn't quite sure they had an actual use for. Then again, unlike the girls in the club, she was a real Wiccan, not someone pretending because it seemed cool.

The only thing that reassured Tara was the fact that Anya was sitting in on the meeting. She had insisted on it when she found out they were going to have 'fun with fire'. Of course, Tara wasn't sure the Wicca members were happy about this situation as every other minute Anya would make snide remarks about their sham of a ceremony.

Currently one of the Wiccas had her sleeve catch on fire and the others were running around like mad women in a strange attempt to put her out. Anya simply watched all of this go on and continued to make comments.

Laughing at this, Tara almost missed someone saying her name. Only she didn't and turned around to face her group as she said, "What?"

"I asked what you thought," said Sarah, President of the UCS Lesbian Alliance.

"Uhm." Tara said slowly, trying to recall what Sarah's question had been. Just then, a shriek filled the air and she turned to see Anya using an extinguisher to put out the Wicca member who was on fire. Laughing again, Tara said, "I'm sorry. I was sort of distracted."

"Tara's off in dream land," Kim teased while Sarah sighed at her and adjusted her glasses. "I'm just telling the truth."

"Uh huh," said Sarah dryly. Looking at Tara, she repeated, "Do you think a party during hell week would attract enough attention with just posters alone or should we try to bribe Anya for some air time?" Sarah frowned and looked at Anya who was busy smirking at the foamy Wicca she'd sprayed. "I'm personally against interacting with the demon spawn but that show of hers is popular."

"Because all they talk about is sex," Jean snorted. "I don't see why we have to have a party anyway."

"Money," said Laura, staring at Jean with an expression which said she was being idiotic again. "We need it."

Jean scowled at this statement and Sarah sighed yet again. Seeing this, Kim slung an arm over her girlfriend's shoulder and gently ran her fingers through her hair. This made Sarah relax, if only by the slightest degree.

"Okay," said Tara hesitantly. "I guess that we should get some free press from Anya. I don't think it will be all that hard. I mean. we just ask, right?"

Immediately after Tara said this she got the same look she got anytime she defended Anya to people in general. They stared at her as if she was a freak of nature.

"She's not all that bad!" Tara exclaimed in defense.

The look increased at this statement and Tara sighed. Before she could comment any further on Anya's not evil nature, one of their absent members came rushing over, her face red with excitement.

"You won't believe what just happened to me!" Caroline said heatedly, bouncing down to sit next to Tara.

"What? You met another girl?" Jean asked, her voice laced with sarcasm as she referred to Caroline's habit of dating anything feminine that could walk.

"NO," said Caroline sharply, glaring at Jean.

"Caroline," Sarah interrupted in her always soothing tones. "What happened to you?"

Beaming, Caroline faced Sarah and said, "The self defense classes you arranged for us came in really handy tonight. These guys attacked me but I fought them off!"

Seconds after Caroline said this the entire group was surrounding her, asking if she was all right. Waving off the attention, Caroline exclaimed, "I'm fine because of these two girls! That's what I really wanted to tell you. I was just fighting off these psychos best I could when out of nowhere bam! Two gorgeous girls show up and take care of them for me. Although," Caroline frowned. "I'm not really sure about those guys. They were strange, how they looked and they just sort of disappeared. weird."

"I'm sure you were just seeing things," Tara offered a bit warily. She was certain Caroline had seen vampires and most likely was saved by Faith and Buffy.

"Probably," Caroline agreed, nodding her head. "It was awfully traumatic. Still," she smiled wickedly. "I wouldn't mind being traumatized again if it meant I got to see that blonde one more time."

"Blonde?"

Everyone in the group jumped visibly on seeing Anya standing behind Caroline. They weren't sure when she got there or how long she'd been present.

"Yeah," said Caroline nervously. She, like nearly everyone, wasn't comfortable around Anya. "One of the girls who rescued me was a pretty blonde."

"What about the people who attacked you?" Anya demanded, eyes narrowed. "What did they look like?"

"Uhm, they were a bunch of guys," Caroline offered.

Her eyes narrowing more, Anya leaned closer and whispered dangerously, "I'm well aware that you're not a fan of the male persuasion but do better than that."

"They were punkers?" Caroline gulped, scooting away from Anya and towards Tara.

"Thanks," Anya said, turning on her heel and stalking out of the dorm. "You were a big help."

Everyone watched her walk away for a moment then Kim looked meaningfully at Tara. "Not that bad, huh?"

For a response, Tara heaved another sigh.

---

Two weeks.

That was how long they had until their performance. As much as Willow was looking forward to it, she couldn't help but feel sad as well. They would be playing without him. she would be playing without him.

Closing her eyes painfully, Willow reached up to caress the beaded choker she wore, running her fingers over its delicate texture. "Vince," she whispered.

It still hurt. Willow wondered if it would ever stop hurting. She didn't think so. Even now she would find herself looking at Cordelia and hating her.

Hating her with a burning passion she found surprising. She didn't like feeling this way. In fact, she despised it. More than anything Willow wanted things to be how they once were. She wanted to love Cordelia as a friend again.

The problem was, she wasn't sure how to do that because every time Willow looked at her she'd see Vince dying.

"Hundred dollars."

Lifting her head on hearing this, Willow looked into Veruca's smiling features as she stood above her. In a smooth movement, the blonde sat down next to Willow on the empty stage to the Bronze. Willow thought she was the only one left from their rehearsal but apparently she was wrong because here Veruca was.

"What?" Willow asked with some confusion.

"A penny doesn't seem enough for the serious thoughts you look like you're having," informed Veruca solemnly. "I figured a hundred dollars was more fitting."

Blushing lightly, Willow moved her gaze away from Veruca and murmured, "I was just thinking."

"Already noted," Veruca teased. She bumped her leg against Willow's. "Want to tell me about what?" Unsure of how to reply, Willow remained silent, well aware of Veruca waiting patiently at her side. In a unconscious movement, Willow reached up to touch the beads of her choker as she thought of him.

Observing this, Veruca looked at the intricate design of the jewelry and murmured, "It's pretty. Was it a gift?"

"It was," Willow responded hoarsely. She cleared her throat, attempting to smile brightly and ultimately failing. "It's my name in Hebrew. hand carved and painted."

"They must care a lot," said Veruca. "To give you a gift as special as that."

"Yes," said Willow in choked tones. "He did."

They were quiet for a moment as Veruca came to a decision. Reaching under her blouse, she pulled out a gold necklace with a ring hanging from it. Undoing the clasp, she pressed it into Willow's hands.

Watching Willow gaze at it, tracing the refined and exotic lines of the ring's engraving, Veruca said, "It's a family heirloom. Passed down from each generation dating back to their ancestors in Madrid. There's an old story that says it protects the brides who wear it."

"Who.?" asked Willow in a breath of a whisper.

"Caesar," said Veruca calmly, taking the necklace and ring back from Willow and putting them around her neck. Tucking it under her shirt, she pressed her hand against the slight lump it made there. "Was my fiancÚ's name."

"What happened to him?" Willow asked even though she knew exactly what the answer would be.

Looking into Willow's eyes, Veruca said plainly, "He died, three weeks before the wedding." Before Willow could ask anything else, she continued, "Someone killed him, they never found out who. That was ten months ago. I left Los Angeles. traveled. I couldn't stay there, the place where we met and fell in love. There were too many memories of him." She looked at Willow and murmured, "You're stronger than I am. To stay here."

"You. you know." Willow whispered, eyes wide.

"I try not to listen to idle gossip," Veruca said. She looked self deprecating and smiled warily. "Only in a town small as this one, it's difficult to avoid it."

"They still talk about it then," said Willow. Her voice dead and face expressionless. "I thought as much." Jaw clenching, she said tightly, "Vince was murdered. I saw him die. I felt him slip away from me. We were just starting. we. we just."

Willow trailed off and gave a torn sob, pressing her hand over her mouth. Veruca watched this for a second then in a smooth movement, she pulled Willow to her, holding the other girl as she cried the last of her tears.

As Willow quieted down, Veruca asked, "How long?"

"Five months," Willow said, wiping her tears away. She moved back from Veruca who gazed at her steadily.

"I can't forget Caesar," Veruca said quietly. "I don't want to. He's a part of me now, he always will be. If I close my eyes, I can still see him smiling. That's how I keep him with me. But," her face turned hard. "When I think of those who took him away."

"You hate them," Willow said with knowing.

Looking back at the redhead, Veruca nodded. "More than anything in this world," she said fiercely. "It scares me at times, how much I hate them. Sometimes I wonder if all I will be able to feel is that hate." "Like it's sucking away at your soul, leaving you dry of love and happiness, taking what's left of your life away," said Willow softly, her voice pained.

"You keep clinging to it though," Veruca met Willow's eyes, gazing into their green depths. "Because part of you is afraid if you let go of it. of the hate, then maybe you'll let go of that love you had for him as well. Then it will be like he never existed at all."

Shaking her head, Willow ducked it only to peer at Veruca moments later. Reaching up with trembling hands, she traced Veruca's aristocratic features with a fluid sensitivity.

"I don't like feeling this way," Willow said in shaky tones.

"I know," said Veruca. She softly covered Willow's hand with her own and her eyes were dark with understanding. "Neither do I."

"Maybe," Willow began nervously, swallowing the lump in her throat. "We can help each other feel differently."

Forming a slow and sweet smile, Veruca lightly squeezed Willow's hand which she still held. "I'd like that."

The smile she received in return was beautiful beyond compare and it almost made Veruca think they could do it. Together they could finally defeat their past and the horrible emotions that it leant them.

Unfortunately, it would take far more than Willow and her beautiful smile to make Veruca believe that. Believe and abandon all the plans she'd so carefully made.

---

The fight had been going on for barely five minutes and much to Faith and Buffy's surprise, it wasn't an easy one.

Sunday might look like a cheap cubic zirconium version of a big bad, but she certainly didn't fight like one. In fact, she was actually someone quite skilled in battle. Too bad all her minions were definitely lacking in that area.

"You guys are pathetic!" Sunday snarled, her game face contorting with rage. "I thought I told you to train!!"

"Man, she's yelling again," Tre whispered under his breath, looking over at Heather who winced.

"I know, it's getting SO old," enforced Heather, sniffing as she folded her arms across her chest.

"No one told me we'd have to fight the Slayers," whined Bobby, pulling up his far too large jeans that were falling off his lanky body.

Shrieking with rage, Sunday stamped her foot and shouted, "This isn't how you're supposed to act!" Shaking her head, she muttered under her breath, "I need to get away from this place, I swear I do. Find quality minions."

"Hey Buff," said Faith vaguely, looking at her fellow Slayer with a faintly humorous expression.

"Yeah, Faith?" asked Buffy.

"If we had some popcorn and comfy chairs this'd be just as entertaining as a soap opera, huh?" Faith smirked.

"Definitely," Buffy chuckled in response.

Hearing this, Sunday scowled and said, "Sure! Mock my problems, you dinky Slayers. Well, my minions might be complete idiots but I'm more than a match for you."

"That so?" Faith arched an eyebrow, a slow smile forming. Crouching down, she pulled out her wooden sword and drawled, "Then lets go."

Her gray eyes glinting, Sunday matched Faith's smile, looking just as dangerous as the dark Slayer. Something that wasn't easy to achieve these days. However, mere seconds later, her dangerous air disappeared completely as a very familiar voice entered the air.

"What in the hell do you think you're doing?"

Buffy and Faith, even with their Slayer vision, barely made out Sunday's twitch. Moving out of her game face, she turned around and faced the person who said this.

Hands on her hips, Anya demanded, "Well? You want to answer me? I thought we made our terms very clear."

"They're the Slayers," Sunday snarled, stalking over to Anya. "We don't have any 'terms' about me going after the Slayers. You know, my natural born enemies!"

"True," said Anya carelessly. She waved a dismissive hand in Buffy's direction. "But we do have terms that state you won't go after anyone in my care. Pastels R Us happens to fall into that category. Slayer or not she's under my protection, snookums."

"What?!" shrieked Sunday, she whirled around to face Buffy who blinked at her study. Rushing over, she looked her in the eyes. "Is this true? You live in the T-Zone?"

"Uhm. yeah." said Buffy slowly, lost as to what that had to do with anything going on here.

"Dammit," Sunday muttered under her breath. She quickly moved her gaze to Faith and said, "And you?"

"I'm off campus," said Faith dryly.

"Ha!" declared Sunday, whirling around to face Anya. "That one has nothing to do with you! She's up for grabs!"

"I never said she wasn't," Anya replied in glib tones.

Twitching yet again, Sunday approached Anya and shifted into her game face as they stood inches apart. "I hate you," she pronounced with infinite and unwavering conviction.

"I'm wounded," Anya said, her voice thick with sarcasm.

"There you go again," said Sunday, sounding exasperated. She poked Anya hard in the chest. "I'm sick of you acting like you're superior to me! I'm just as immortal as you!"

"Immortally in bad taste," remarked Anya callously.

"You--" Sunday started to snarl but was interrupted.

"Can I ask a question?"

Anya and Sunday paused to look at Buffy who, for some reason, was holding up her hand and looking sheepish.

"Go ahead," said Anya, granting permission.

"What's going on?" Buffy asked, utterly confused. She gestured towards Sunday. "Are you guys dating?"

At this suggestion, Anya and Sunday turned sickly colors and all of Sunday's lame minions burst out laughing.

"I'd never date her!" said Anya, pointing a finger in Sunday's face. "She's an overgrown mosquito with an outdated hairstyle!"

Snarling again, Sunday said, "Don't make me drain you."

"That's what you always say and guess what?" Anya said, speaking with clear disdain. "You never do."

"Because you'd give me food poisoning," Sunday growled, looking like she wanted to bite off Anya's finger which was still in her face.

Faith looked at Buffy. "I'm guessing that's a no."

"Apparently," Buffy said slowly, nodding.

Anya and Sunday were still arguing when one of the minions stepped nervously towards the Slayers. Hitching up his jeans again, Bobby said, "Do you guys really want to know what's going on with those two?"

Looking at each other, Buffy and Faith shrugged before turning back to the minions. "Sure," they said.

"Uhm. you gotta promise not to stake us," Tre said, approaching the Slayers as well. "We're just minions, we swear it. Y'know, we don't have plans or anything."

"Besides getting a meal," Heather added.

"We're not promising anything," said Faith in cold tones that could probably freeze over hell. "Just spill it."

Swallowing anxiously, Bobby darted his eyes over at Anya and Sunday who were busy arguing with each other. If they stayed on schedule, they'd be like that for another ten minutes at the least. That gave him some time.

"It's like this," said Bobby very reluctantly. "Anya's really Anyanka, a former bad ass vengeance demon who worked for this dude, D'Hoffryn, right? She went around granting wishes to chicks who were spurned and stuff."

"You mean to women who wanted vengeance on their significant others," Heather supplied, rolling her eyes. She faced the Slayers and said, "She was pretty well known back then, you know? All cool and shit within the demon circle. Then one day she gets word of this sweet little girl in Sunnydale who's got the usual Springer deal."

"Getting married in a week and her fiancÚ is cheating on her with her bridesmaid," Tre picked up the story. "Anya goes to do her thing, reveal the truth to the girl and grant her a wish for vengeance, making the boss man happy as a clam. Except there was a hitch in her plans."

"The girl wouldn't make a wish!" Bobby exclaimed happily, apparently getting into the story. "She was too nice to wish for vengeance on her former fiancÚ and best friend so Anya had to stick around by order of D'Hoffryn until she did. Then she gave her amulet with all her powers to the girl, hoping that with it, any old random wish the girl made out loud or to herself, would be granted and her job would be finished."

"Problem was," Heather said with dramatic airs. "That without the amulet, Anya felt all the emotions she had as a human come back to her. And the longer she stayed on this plane, the worse they got. Soon, before she knew it, she fell in love with the girl and she thought that the girl had fallen in love with her too. Because, you know," she formed a lascivious smile. "They did it."

"Yeah," Tre chuckled, looking fairly perverted as he rubbed his hands together eagerly. "Apparently it was really good because Anya decides to give up her life as a vengeance demon to stay with this girl. So one night she leaves her to go talk to D'Hoffryn about it and when she did, the former fiancÚ makes his return."

"He wanted the girl back?" asked Buffy curiously.

"Nope," said Tre with a pop, enforcing the p sound. "He'd been turned and he was there to do the same to her. When Anya went to see D'Hoffryn, he told her as much. Hearing this, she wanted what she was best at, revenge. Too bad he was angry at her falling in love with a human and letting her get turned before he could even benefit from using her while she was still an innocent."

"He cursed them," Bobby revealed in confidential tones, glancing back at Anya and Sunday who were still in the throws of their argument. "Anya would remain as a human so she could delight in all the emotions she wanted to abandon him for. Except she'd be immortal too, unable to die. so she'd just stay the same and have to remain with the vampire that had once been her love." He paused and then said in an overly dramatic whisper, "Forever!"

"That's it?" asked Faith dryly. "That's why those two are so bitchy? Pretty lame story if you ask me."

"I don't know," said Buffy. "I sort of liked it." Looking over at Anya, she added, "And it explains some things."

The three vampires looked fairly disappointed at Faith's reaction then Heather jumped up. "We forgot!" she said, sounding excited. Leaning towards the two Slayers, she revealed, "They're stuck here."

"Stuck here?" Faith and Buffy echoed.

"Yeah," said Tre, shoving his hands into the pockets of his leather jacket. "They can't leave town because they can't break the curse. The loop hole's too difficult. Been stuck here ever since. what?" He looked at his fellow minions. "I can't remember. 1900.?"

"1909, I think," said Heather with a frown.

"Yeah," Bobby nodded emphatically. "Or something."

"Perpetually stuck in Sunnydale," Faith said in droll tones. She looked at Buffy and smirked. "I'd be pissed."

"Me too," said Buffy, her eyes wide.

"We're so glad that you sympathize with our situation," a cool and calculating voice pronounced, causing everyone but Faith to pale at the sound.

"Hey," said Faith, facing Anya. "We've just been having a fun time playing it's your vengeful life."

"I bet," said Anya dryly. Her eyes narrowed as she said, "That doesn't really matter though. Because we've come to quite the little realization, Sunday and I."

"Oh yeah?" Faith arched an eyebrow. "What?"

"You're the Slayers," Sunday said in gleeful tones, a wicked smile forming on her features. "You know things that other people don't. Lots of things."

"Not really," Buffy said slowly. "We mostly kill stuff."

"Yep," Faith smirked. "It is our specialty."

Anya and Sunday exchanged a look at this then they turned to face the two Slayers. Taking a step forward they looked deep into their eyes with a penetrating stare.

"It doesn't matter," said Anya with soft deadliness. "We've already decided. You're going to help us."

"Help you?" Buffy repeated.

"Yeah," said Sunday, purring the word. "You're going to help us get the hell out of Sunnydale."

---

She'd known that for the past few weeks, ever since they had begun college in fact, that Xander was going over to Faith and Cordelia's house while she was in classes. That was because of the stories he told her about the fun he'd have when hanging out with Cordelia. Mostly stories of how their video game wars were getting more and more competitive as Cordelia bought more games.

That's why Amy thought she was fairly prepared when she went over there today. She thought she'd know what to expect but certainly, she didn't expect this.

Sitting cross legged in front of the huge television in the living room, were Cordelia and Xander, wrapped up in an intense game of Bust A Move. Amy watched as the little colorful bubbles flew upwards as the two competitors played and exchanged harmless insults.

"You've got purple and do I see any purple bubbles?" Xander gave a mock evil laugh as he fired his blue bubble and caused several to disappear. "Soon victory will be mine and that streak of yours will fizzle!"

"Please," said Cordelia, firing the purple bubble at a row of yellow while a yellow bubble came up. Smirking, she fired it off and watched a few bubbles, including purple, leave the screen. "You can't win. Twinkle."

"Don't go insulting my character again," Xander warned, sticking his tongue out at Cordelia before turning back to the game and firing his red bubble. "I like Twinkle. Elfie jesters are just cool. Besides, Jack is boring."

"Jack's reliable," Cordelia replied. She smirked as she fired off a star bubble and won the game. Turning to look at Xander, she said, "My streak lives on."

Releasing a huge groan, Xander dropped the controller and said, "I give up. It's my own fault for challenging you. I should've known, like any male gamer, that girls are utterly invincible at puzzle games."

"Falling back on the old 'guys aren't good at puzzle games' excuse, are we?" Cordelia teased. She looked like she was about to say more but stopped on seeing Amy hovering in the entrance to the living room. "Hey," she said. "Enjoy seeing me trounce your boyfriend?"

Shaking off her shock, Amy returned the smile and walked into the living room, sitting on the coffee table behind the two friends. "You bet I did," she remarked. "It's nice to see someone beat him. I always lose when I play games with him."

"That's why I love playing with you, honey," Xander replied with an impish smile, looking up at her.

"You're so nice," Amy pouted, lightly shoving him on the shoulder. She eyed the large pile of games that was on the floor and whistled. "Wow. Your collection's expanding."

Looking back at the games, Cordelia colored slightly. Running a hand through her long hair, she said, "I don't have to sleep much these days and there's not a lot to do while Faith's at school. My homework for class doesn't take too much time and I sometimes I need a break from painting. These occupy me and they're fun." Ducking her head, Cordelia murmured, "They help me forget."

The couple gazed at Cordelia for a long moment then Amy slowly reached out to touch the brunette's chin. As hazel eyes lifted to meet hers, Amy smiled gently.

"I think I understand," Amy said quietly. She looked over at Xander and took his hand, squeezing it. "I'm happy you guys are hanging out. I think it's good. But." Trailing off, she frowned then looked carefully at Cordelia. "I want you to know we're here for you. More than just help you have fun here for you, the listening kind too. Because I've kind of got the feeling you might need that."

Cordelia slowly looked over at Xander who nodded at her encouragingly. "You know how I feel," he said gently. "If I ever wanted someone to be my sister, I'd pick you."

Blinking back tears, Cordelia released a wavering sigh and looked up at the ceiling. "I don't know how to like myself," she confessed. "I hate what I am now and I can't talk to Faith about it. She refuses to listen to me when I try to talk to her about what I did. says that it wasn't me and it's not my fault. But it is! It was me in some degree and I can remember it all, everything I did, what I thought when I did it and it's tearing me up inside." She looked down at her hands that were clenched tightly, nails biting into the soft skin of her palms. "I want to like myself. I want to make up for everything I've done but I don't think I ever can. Most of all I. I don't want Willow to hate me anymore. I know she does, she must. How can't she?"

"You should talk to her," Xander advised. When Cordelia looked towards him with fearful eyes, he formed his best reassuring expression and reached out to hold her hand. "I can go with if you want, but you should do it. The sooner that you do, the better you'll feel. Both of you." He looked at Amy and said, "Don't you think?"

"Xander's right," Amy nodded. "Only I think maybe you should talk with Buffy too." Sighing softly, she said, "I've got it on first hand info that girl is living in guiltsville."

"Well," Cordelia gave another shuddering sigh, laughing hoarsely as she rubbed at her eyes. "Those should be fun filled conversations when we have them."

"It'll be okay," said Xander, giving Cordelia's leg a playful push as he grinned. "I'll protect you."

"I feel so comforted," Cordelia replied drolly, expression filled with affection despite her tones.

Laughing at this, Xander turned to Amy and said, "At least you appreciate my manly." His eyes went wide and he trailed off on seeing Amy's blank expression that had her looking off into nothingness. "Amy?"

Frowning deeply, Cordelia scooted towards the blonde girl, waving a hand in front of her face. "Amy?" she said. "Are you okay? What's going on?"

Amy didn't respond and kept staring blankly ahead, making both Xander and Cordelia fairly panicked. They were about to call 911 when Amy's eyes suddenly were frighteningly clear and she leapt to her feet and declared, "Bad magic! Very bad magic!"

"Bad magic?" Cordelia and Xander said skeptically.

"We have to go!" Amy said in what seemed to be an order of sorts as she ran towards the front door. Close behind were Cordelia and Xander, following her in shock. "No one tries to trick my friends into giving out love spells!"

Blinking at this comment, Cordelia and Xander exchanged a look of complete puzzlement then shrugged in unison and headed after her.

Hoping that somehow, along the way, exactly what was going on would be explained to them.

---

"Why should we do that?" asked Faith.

She was listening to Anya and Sunday elaborate on their request for the fifth time and it still sounded fishy. Maybe it had to do with the fact that it came from the lips of a former vengeance demon and a current vampire.

"So we can leave!" Anya said with exasperation. Her eyes narrowed and she said, "You got dropped on your head as a child a lot, didn't you?"

"Not that I'm aware," Faith said dryly.

"I don't know," said Buffy tentatively, darting her eyes towards the three vampire minions who were sitting on the lawn of the cemetery, looking bored. "After what they told us, why should we help you with anything?"

"We want to LEAVE," Sunday enforced, clearly losing patience. "If we're gone then you won't have to deal with us. Evil vampire! Hello? Good thing me being gone as I'm a creature of darkness, gee whiz."

"You're nothing new," drawled Faith, eyeing Sunday with a lack of respect. "I doubt that you'd cause us any trouble. Mostly because it looks like she," Faith jerked her thumb over at Anya. "Has got you neutered for some reason."

"Neutered!" Bobby cried out, bursting into laughter. "The Slayer's got you there, Boss."

Giving Bobby her best evil glare, Sunday snarled, "Just for that, you're not eating for two weeks."

"Imbeciles," Anya heaved a sigh. She looked over at Buffy and murmured, "I'll be civil for a second. All we want is to leave town. It tends to get a bit monotonous being in the same place for almost a hundred years and trapped as a," Anya paused to grimace, "human at that. I've tried for countless years to break this stupid curse but it's impossible. If you just give us that book."

"NO! No books! She wants bad magic!!"

Everyone turned and looked at the figure of Amy running towards them with some surprise. Behind her was a very winded Xander and an amused Cordelia. They had spent the past ten minutes chasing Amy as she made the short trip from their townhouse to the cemetery.

Breathing heavily, Amy bent over and rested her hands on her knees. After a few moments, she got her breath back and glared up at Anya, despite remaining in a partially hunched over position. "I saw you," she accused. "You're not getting any books. If you do it'll create some major bad magic. Love spells aren't to be taken lightly."

"How do you know what I want?" demanded Anya.

Straightening up, Amy smiled serenely. "I work for the big guys. They let me see bad magic before it happens." She frowned and muttered to herself, "I figured my first job would be something more exciting though."

"What big guys?" asked Sunday sarcastically. Shaking her head, she scowled and looked at Anya. "This isn't getting us anywhere. We should just steal the damn book."

Anya lifted an eyebrow and smoothly reached out to touch Sunday's chin. Moving her face, she made the vampire look at Faith and Buffy. Both Slayers had lethal expressions on their faces.

"Eh. or not." Sunday said rather nervously.

"No bad magic," said Amy almost imperiously. "You can't use love spells to get what you want. The curse will be broken in its own time. You just have to let people in."

There was a moment of absolute silence and the air suddenly turned electric and now it was Anya twitching. Sunday took several visible steps away from her and headed towards her lounging minions.

"Let. people. in?" Anya repeated very slowly, sounding almost manic. She laughed in high pitched tones then walked over to Amy, leaning close so they were just a breath apart. "Do you know how many people I've dated trying to break this curse? How many people I wooed? How many I let sleep with me?! It's in the triple digits!! I never got anywhere with them! I'm still here!" Anya's voice dropped low and she growled, "I'll never find anyone to break this curse. I need that book."

"The book won't help you," Amy said calmly, meeting Anya's gaze. "The spell will go awry and you'll just have a crowd of horny people after you." She paused to smirk then said, "Unless you want that?"

"How do you know it won't work," said Anya slowly, eyeing Amy closely, trying to figure her out.

"Like I said," began Amy. She pointed at the sky and continued, "I work for the big guys. The Powers That Be."

As soon as Amy said this all the resident non Scoobies stared at her as if she was some sort of anomaly. Blinking at this reaction, she said, "What?"

"You." Anya started, stepping away from Amy. "You're saying that you work for The Powers That Be?"

"Uhm, yeah," Amy shrugged. "Is that special?"

Anya opened her mouth to reply when she noticed Sunday was sneaking off with her minions. "Oh no you don't!" she shouted, stomping after them. "Even if we can't use that spell we've got things to talk about! Mainly you trying to eat the people from my dorm!!"

Watching them scurry away, everything was quiet as Cordelia walked over to Faith and the dark Slayer gave her a sweet smile. Looking at their friends, she said, "I dunno about you guys but I'm ready to call it a night."

"Yeah, same here," said Buffy warily, rubbing the back of her head. "This was a little too weird, even for me."

"I'll go with that," Xander said amiably, hooking his arm in Amy's. "Only just answer me one thing." Seeing he had everyone's attention, he asked, "What in the world was all of that really about?"

Overwhelming silence met his question.

---

Feeling completely worn out, Buffy reached for the doorknob, about to walk into the room when her Slayer senses picked up just a hint of a song. The chords of the guitar resonant and soothing, the voice full and strong, totally unwavering in its feeling.

Even if Veruca wasn't her roommate, Buffy would've known with all her heart that it was her singing.

"This is the place for celebrating. This is the crowd that's fascinating."

Opening the door, Buffy looked at Veruca who lifted her head in slight surprise then sang her next lyrics, "This is the time for concentrating. To hear some words worth translating. He's rapping 'bout his meditating. She's dying for some medicating." Veruca slowly lowered her head. "And though I shouldn't be complaining. What's lacking here is entertaining."

The door shut with a resounding click and Buffy leaned against it, watching Veruca. Tapered hands were expertly strumming the acoustic guitar and it was mesmerizing to watch. "We're all looking for a good time. But what we get is empty rhyme."

Playing softly still, Veruca stretched her feet out on the bed she comfortably sat on as she continued to play.

"When everything's right but nothing's fine. It's everything but party time," Veruca went on, studying her guitar and hands with subdued concentration.

Walking towards her roommate, Buffy sat on the edge of the bed, tucking her feet under her legs.

"Talk about decorating," Veruca sang. Coffee colored eyes hesitantly met hazel and Buffy tried to ignore the shivers that ran through her.

Veruca turned her head away from Buffy and sang the song. Focusing again on her guitar and playing instead of the blonde Slayer at her side.

"A room that needs sophisticating." Veruca felt a faint touch on her leg, rubbing it in a comforting movement and she closed her eyes. It wasn't supposed to be this way. First Willow and now Buffy. She wasn't supposed to have friends. People who would care for her. The risk was too great. But it was so hard being alone and she wasn't used to it. No, not used to it at all. She knew that's why she joined the band, why she took time to actually talk with people. Because of the horrible loneliness that seized her. "When conversations become straining."

Slowly Veruca opened her eyes and once again met Buffy's gaze as she finished, "No one's good at interest feigning."

They were quiet for several moments, then Buffy asked in playful tones, "Rhyme much?"

"Not as such," Veruca replied smoothly, ignoring Buffy's groan. "Why?" She stared hard at Buffy. "Don't tell me you're a closet hater of rhymes?"

"I'm not a closet anything," Buffy remarked. Her hazel eyes twinkled and she said, "I'm up front with my hatred of rhymes and limericks."

"Bad," Veruca teased, shaking her index finger back and forth at Buffy. "Not all limericks are dirty I'll have you know and rhyming isn't a crime, its taste is just so-so."

"Very funny," said Buffy, wearing a smirk as she poked Veruca significantly in the abdomen. "You big dummy."

"I think I'll just let this conversation drop before we descend totally into bad rhymes," Veruca chuckled. She looked at Buffy for a moment then said, "Want to tell me what's wrong?"

"How did you--" Buffy began, only to be silenced by Veruca's finger pressing against her lips.

"I can just tell," murmured Veruca. Pulling back, her expression was open as she said, "What is it?"

"It's nothing really," Buffy said with a sigh. Looking at the detailed quilt on Veruca's bed, she played with it as she said, "I'm having a strange night, that's all."

"Mmm," Veruca kept her eyes on Buffy, tracing every feature with attentive eyes. She knew she shouldn't but she found herself reaching out to push back a stray lock of the Slayer's hair. "It might help," she said when Buffy looked at her. "If you talked about it. Don't you think?"

"Yeah," Buffy formed a slow smile. "It might."

"I'm listening," encouraged Veruca, pulling away from Buffy and putting her guitar on the floor. "Talk to me."

Crawling up onto the bed, Buffy moved to lie down on her stomach, tucking one of the many pillows arranged there under her chin. Suitably comfortable, Buffy said, "I'm not normal, you know."

"Oh?" Veruca wore a dubious expression. "Do tell."

"Don't tease," said Buffy, forming a pout but smiling as she shoved Veruca's leg softly. "I'm being serious."

"Okay," said Veruca as she gave a solemn nod. "Why aren't you normal? Do you have webbed feet?"

"No!" Buffy said, sounding offended. "My feet are unwebbed and cute, thank you very much. I'm just not normal. I was born different, I think."

Buffy was quiet as she contemplated what to say next. She wasn't sure how to explain things to Veruca. More than anything, she wanted to tell the other girl just who she was. Buffy wasn't sure why she wanted this, but she knew it had to do with the fact that Veruca, more than anyone else lately made her feel good about herself. She exuded this sense of 'you're all right' that Buffy loved.

She felt a gentle touch before Veruca's husky voice met her ears. "Where did you go, bella?"

"Nowhere," Buffy said with a smile as she looked up into Veruca's eyes. "I was just thinking."

"Are you going to tell me why its been such a strange night for you?" Veruca asked, watching Buffy.

That's when Buffy made her decision. She turned to see Veruca watching her calmly, her face as accepting and warm. "Once in every generation, a Slayer is called to fight the forces of darkness," Buffy began in earnest tones, locking their eyes. "This generation had a screw up and now there's two. Faith is the first Slayer and I'm the second." She was silent for a long moment then said, "I kill vampires and other bad things."

The room echoed in silence for what seemed like an eternity then a slow smile curled on Veruca's lips. "I'm thinking that explanation is only the start of why your night was strange, am I right?"

Buffy's only response was a wry grin.

To be continued...

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