Buffy felt the walls
shake around her and she cried out. For Angel. For her mother. For this to just stop. And then it did and she was…in
her kitchen. At her house. She closed her eyes gratefully. Thank God. She started
to walk toward the living room when she heard the door open. “Giles?” she called, walking quickly toward the sound.
She entered the
living room just in time to see Faith closing the door behind her. Buffy skidded to a stop, her feet backing up quickly to
turn and head back the other way when Faith’s cold voice stopped her. “You saw me.”
Buffy turned back
to face her. Faith’s hair was wilder than usual, her white tank-top streaked with dirt and blood and a battle-ax hung
limply from her fingers. But it was Faith’s face that Buffy focused on. She had it seen it full of anger, jealousy,
spite and even joy, but never this dark rage tinged with despair.
Faith started toward
Buffy. “You saw me. That’s the only way you could have beat me here. I guess you do have the mad Slayer speed
out the two of us. Of course, I stopped to make sure that Xander got home okay,
oh, and to check on your little sis, since you were obviously too busy to be bothered.”
clenched at her sides. “What have you done with Dawn?”
Faith reached Buffy
and stopped, her axe falling slowly out of her grasp. She stared at Buffy for a long minute, her body trembling slightly until,
finally, her hand lashed out and cracked across Buffy’s cheek. “You fucking bitch,” she choked.
snapped back and then she righted herself and launched at Faith, her fingers circling the other Slayer’s neck. “Where
is my sister?” she ground out.
you left her,” Faith gasped, jerking out of Buffy’s grasp and flinging Buffy away from her. “When you ran
off to fuck your vampire lover.”
Buffy looked at
Faith, her mind desperately trying to piece this together. Faith was in her house. Faith, who was supposed to be imprisoned
somewhere. Faith knew about Dawn, or at least something about Dawn. And Faith knew she had been with Angel?
hell are you doing here,” Buffy asked slowly, “and what in God’s name are you talking about?”
Faith sneered back
at her. “I live here, dumbass.” She paused, tossing her hair. “Or at least I did. And you can drop the clueless
blonde act. While I was covering patrol so that you could go off and supposedly get your shit together in the desert, Xander
and I saw you in the cemetery, grinding all over Big Bad Spike.” Faith glared at her, the tears that she refused to
allow fall glittering on her lashes.
Buffy shook her
head. “The who’s whating how with huh?” she asked blankly.
Buffy, stop with the cute little Scooby shit. I saw you,” she snarled. “Riding that fucking vampire like he was
a float in the homecoming parade. The only reason you and that undead asshole still have connected body parts is because Xander
dragged me off to check on Dawn and he managed to convince me that the Little Bit didn’t need anymore corpses in her
short and extremely scary life.” Faith pushed her hands through her hair, and then dragged them out, her nails raking
along her own cheeks. “So I don’t kill you. But I’m going to Xander’s until this shit with Glory is
over, or until she picks us off one by one. But no matter what, you and I are so over.”
Buffy froze, her
mouth dropping open. “We’re what?”
The door opened
and Xander and Anya walked in, talking animatedly to Buffy. Another Buffy. “This is my house,” the Buffy in the
pleated skirt said brightly, stopping when she came upon Faith and Buffy.
the skirted Buffy said happily, flinging her arms around her. “You are also a Slayer. And my girlfriend. We have hot,
lesbian love when I am not servicing my dark demon lover, Spike.”
Faith pushed the
new Buffy back, her head whipping from the Buffy she had been dumping to the one in her arms. “Holy fucking shit,”
“And so say
all of us,” Xander intoned as he and Anya stood gaping in the doorway.
The skirted Buffy’s
eyes lit upon the other Buffy. “Say, look at you! You look just like me!” she exclaimed gleefully. “We’re
“Two of them,”
Anya said in awe.
“I know this
one,” Xander said suddenly, drawing on his own doppelganger experience. “They’re both Buffy.”
Faith said slowly in the god-what-a-retard voice she reserved just for Xander. She pointed at the skirted Buffy. “That’s
a robot. She acts just like that girlfriend-bot that Warren guy made. God, you two couldn’t tell B from
me,” Xander ventured. “Selective memory, much? I wasn’t the one who had to be dragged out of the cemetery
before slicing graphically described body parts off of that, and I quote, ‘bitch Buffy’ and ‘fucking Spike,’
Faith shrugged defensively.
“Well, it was kind of dark and it was from a distance and I was a little upset, okay?” Faith walked over to Buffy,
reaching out carefully to take her hand. “I’m sorry, B. I thought I’d learned to ask first and smack later.
But we all know how Spike feels about you, and seeing the two of you all hooked up and groiny…” Faith shuddered.
“I’m sorry, okay?”
Xander shook his
head. “Spike must have built her so that he could program her to, uh, program her to…”
Buffy and Faith said together.
things,” Anya breathed.
Buffy burst out. “No imagining.”
Xander raised his
hand sheepishly. “Already got the visual.”
Before Buffy could
answer that, her heavily lip-glossed doppelganger spoke up. “People. Friends of mine.” She winked at Faith. “And
lovers – you’re forgetting the most important thing. We have to save Spike.”
Faith said, rolling her eyes. She looked back at Buffy, willing her lover to look at her, to smile, to kick her ass, do anything
but stare blankly at the lot of them like they were characters in a junior high school play.
“Uh, we kind
of do,” Xander said, walking into the room with Anya following him. “Glory has Spike.”
Buffy snapped back
then, the idea of her with Spike, of her with Faith, and the fact of her robot twin fading away. “Glory has Spike?”
she gritted out to Xander. “Spike knows about Dawn…”
Faith answered, clenching her fingers on Buffy’s. “So what do we do?”
Buffy answered blindly. She didn’t care if she was supposed to be here or not, she wasn’t going to allow that
vampire sex-fiend to sic a hell bitch on her sister. She jerked open the weapons chest and began hurriedly handing Xander,
Anya and Faith whatever she could get her hands on.
my weapons,” the Buffy-bot chirped up. “Give me something big and sharp.”
Buffy ignored her
and closed the chest with a bang, turning the face the others. “We need Willow,”
“Yeah, I know,”
Faith said sadly. Xander stopped, his shoulders shaking slightly as Anya ran a hand slowly up his arm.
Buffy looked back
at them as they all tried to hide expressions of pain from her, the Buffy-bot even dropping her perma-smile. “Willow is dead,” the Buffy-bot said sadly. “She was my best
friend. It saddens me to hear you speak of her.”
Buffy lunged forward,
slapping the robot sharply across the face. “Shut up, you perverted metal freak.” She clenched her fist, her palm
aching from the synthetic-flesh covered steel she had just encountered. Buffy looked desperately back at Xander. "Willow is not dead.”
Xander choked out, his eyes dark with pain and shock.
Faith gently took
Buffy into her arms, and Buffy was too horrified to stop her. Faith pulled Buffy close, her hands reaching up to smooth across
Buffy’s back. “I know, baby, it just seems like too much,” she murmured against Buffy’s neck. “But
we have to be strong. Dawn still needs us.”
Buffy shook in Faith’s
arms. None of this could be real, but somehow it seemed more familiar than the sweet dream she’d had with Angel. Buffy
pulled back slightly, her eyes filling with tears as she looked into Faith’s. Faith’s eyes, darker and sweeter
than she ever remembered seeing them. “Willow and Mom?” Buffy whispered.
Faith nodded slowly,
her face worried, the tears in her eyes throwing Buffy far more than Faith rushing in earlier and slapping her had. “Yeah,”
Faith said softly. “Willow and Joyce.” Faith pulled
Buffy to her and then turned to look at Xander and Anya. “I don’t know if she can do this, guys,” Faith
said, her voice shaking.
to Willow?” Buffy asked softly. Faith just stared back
at her, the tears falling down her cheeks now. It had been so much easier, somehow, when she had thought that Buffy had cheated
on her. She could fall back on all of that old anger and disillusionment to deal. But this Buffy was so fragile, so broken.
“It was Glory,”
Xander reminded her softly. “After Willow held her off
with that transportation spell, she felt like she could take her. She wanted to give you time, after your mom. After finding
out about Dawn.” Xander drew a deep, shuddering breath. “But she couldn’t,” he finished helplessly.
Buffy shook her
head, pulling away from Faith. She had to stop getting distracted by the differences. Her Willow
was back in Sunnydale, her Sunnydale. She had to focus on what was the same. She was distracting Faith and Xander from stopping
Spike from leading Glory to their Dawn.
She took a couple
of head clearing breaths and then said softly, “I’m okay, guys. So. Glory has Spike. Spike knows that Glory is
looking for her key, and he knows that the key is Dawn, right?” Faith, Xander and Anya nodded slowly back at her.
Dawn?” Buffy asked, realizing that Faith had never really told her.
Faith answered. “You dropped her off there while you went out to the desert.” Faith looked at her, concern and
confusion warring on her face.
Buffy nodded. “Okay.
Anya, go to Giles’ and tell him we’re going to get Spike. Then you two stay with Dawn. Xander, Faith, grab the
weapons. We’re going now. “
Faith reached out
and gently took Buffy by the arm. “We don’t even know where to look.”
Buffy smiled grimly. “I
have an idea.”
Buffy burst through
the doorway of the high-rise apartment complex, Xander at her side and Faith at her back.
Buffy’s eyes darted to the open elevator where a heavily beaten Spike lay sprawled on the floor. She spun around,
taking in the lobby where several of Glory’s hobbits-with-leprosy were swarming down the stairs.
Buffy lifted her
crossbow and took aim, slamming an arrow through the closest minion. She ran at the remaining lackeys as Xander and Faith
took flank alongside her. Out of the corner of her eye, Buffy watched Xander as he raised his axe, swinging at a minion that
came at her back. The minion fell back and Xander swung again, knocking him across the room.
Xander!” Buffy heard Faith exclaim. “Somebody had their Crunchberries this morning.”
“With a side
of whoop-ass!” Xander said gleefully.
Huh, Buffy thought
as she threw a roundhouse kick at the brown-robed hell-god groupie in front of her. A sane Slayer at her back and an ass-kicking
Xander riding shotgun. Their Glory didn’t have prayer, god or not. But, damn, her little minions could throw down. Buffy
tossed her crossbow to Faith and spun into the little freak in front of her fists first.
She saw the Buffy
robot flash past her, blathering on about saving Spike. Buffy kicked aside her scabby assailant and whirled around to pull
off one of the two hanging on Xander. She had just kicked its bitch-goddess-worshipping ass through the doorway when she heard
Faith cry out behind her.
“Buffy!” Faith lay on her back, struggling as one of the minions choked her with the crossbow.
Before Buffy could get to her side, she saw the robot race toward Faith and yank him off her. The minion quickly righted himself
and sent the bot sprawling with a savage punch. The robot hit the back wall and slid to the floor, blue sparks erupting around
Faith jumped to
her feet. “I could have taken him,” she muttered, rubbing her throat. Buffy jerked her head toward Spike. “C’mon.
Let’s get him and get out of here.”
Buffy and Xander
ran toward Spike as Faith kept the remaining minions off of them. Grimacing, Buffy slid one of Spike’s bloody arms over
her shoulder and motioned for Xander to do the same. As they hauled him up, Spike turned blackened, bleary eyes to Buffy.
“I knew you’d come for me,” he gasped.
Buffy rolled her
eyes. Spike shook his head at her. “I’m serious, Buffy. Listen, I didn’t…” Buffy faced him fully,
“Save it,” she growled. “The only thing I want to hear from you is a big ‘poof’ as you fade
Buffy and Xander
moved Spike swiftly across the lobby, Faith backing behind them with the crossbow in her hands. They had just reached the
doorway when Buffy heard that whiny valley-girl voice behind her.
goin’, Precious?” Buffy looked over her shoulder to see Glory standing on the stairs in all of her spandex, well,
Buffy urged Xander, tugging Spike faster. Before Buffy could stop her, Faith crossed the room and took aim at Glory.
from her, you bitch,” Faith said, her eyes narrowing as her hands tightened on the trigger.
Glory crooned, her eyes growing big. “The butch!” Glory laughed softly, tossing blonde curls over her shoulder.
“Don’t worry, sweetness, I’ll save a little for you, too.”
Faith let an arrow
fly and it sank into Glory’s right shoulder. Glory glanced down at where it jutted out from her pink sundress. “Okay,”
she sighed, yanking it out and tossing it across the room. “Now I’m a little p’od. I guess you’ll
get to be first. Pucker up.” Glory reached down and grabbed the banister railing, yanking a three-foot section free.
Buffy gasped and dropped Spike’s arm. She reached to grab the axe out of Xander’s hands but fell back as Spike
shoved her into Xander and ran toward Faith and Glory.
Spike yelled in full game-face as he leapt in front of Faith. Glory sent the wooden missile flying and it slammed through
Spike’s midsection, impaling him. He heard a gasp behind him as he fell, landing with a jarring crash on wood and something
too soft. Spike wrenched himself quickly up off of the giant stake, screaming as he felt it pull of out him. He turned, seeing
that he had been quick enough, but too close. As he rose, he pulled six inches of the narrowest end of the stake out of Faith,
who lay gasping and bleeding beneath him.
Glory crowed, laughing down at them.
Spike turned quickly
to Buffy and Xander, who stood white and wide-eyed behind him. “Get her out of here,” he commanded and turned
back to Glory. He ran at her, taking the stairs two at a time as he clutched at the hole in his stomach.
Buffy and Xander
grabbed Faith up and ran to the door as Spike reached Glory. “Now,” he said, grinning cockily. “How is a
hell-bitch like an apple?” Glory quirked an eyebrow at him, smiling widely. “You don’t have to peel it before
you bite it!” Spike snarled, lunging forward to sink his teeth into her neck.
Buffy and Xander
raced across the park in front of Glory’s apartment building, carrying Faith between them. “Stop, stop,”
Faith gasped, pulling against their arms.
Buffy and Xander
slowed, easing Faith gently down onto the ground. Faith’s breath labored in her chest, her white tank-top dyed red with
the same blood that covered Buffy’s hands and Xander’s side. “Faith, we have to keep going,” Buffy
said, looking down into Faith’s eyes that pleaded with her desperately. “We have to get away from here, get you
to a hospital.”
Faith shook her
head slowly. “It doesn’t matter. This is it, B.” Buffy looked at her helplessly, and then back up at Xander
who stood shaking at her side. Buffy knelt down next to Faith. “Faith, please,” she said, feeling her control
slip, her command gone. “I can’t lose you, too. Fight it.” She grabbed Faith’s hand strongly in hers.
“We’re Slayers. The rules don’t apply to us, remember?”
Faith laughed and
then choked, gasping. “I was just talking shit back then, B.” She focused her gaze on Buffy’s. “But
you can beat her. I know you can.” Faith smiled sadly. “I know you love me,” she shook her head. “Not
like Angel, but you love me. And Xander and Willow and, God, you have enough love for us all, even a selfish bitch like me
who wanted all of it for myself. But you’ve never loved anyone like you love Dawn. You’ll save her, Buffy. You’re
the only one who can. The rest of us are just slowing you down.”
Buffy stared into
Faith’s eyes. Faith, who had hated her and fought her and wanted to be her. Faith loved her. Loved Buffy. And as Buffy
looked into those dark brown eyes that were even now fading before her, Buffy knew that she had loved Faith. Whatever was
different in this world from her own, there was no way Faith could look at her with so much love, so much trust, unless Buffy
had loved her back.
Buffy said softly. “I…”
Faith squeezed her
hand tighter, her chest hitching as she fought death to the end. “I know you do, B. Now, kiss me goodbye and go save
our little girl.” Buffy trembled as she leaned over, her mouth brushing gently across Faith’s. Her love for Faith
wasn’t the kind that this beautiful, darker half of herself remembered, but she wouldn’t let her go without knowing
that her Buffy had.
B,” Faith whispered…and then Faith’s hand in hers, the blood drying on her skin and Xander’s sobs
behind her burned brightly away.