Finding Life by Pat Kelly
Finding Life By Pat Kelly
Feedback may be sent to Pat at: bandits@erols.com

This story is currently unfinished and being posted in parts

| Ch. 1-4 |

Ch. 5-8 |

5
REMEMBERING THE PAST (OR - HOW DO YOU LOOK NOW?)

"How come everything that heals burns like hell�shit!" Faith hissed, sitting on the bed as Buffy, standing over her, applied a disinfectant-soaked cloth onto her forehead.

Giles was applying a bandage to a gash caused apparently by four claws that had swiped her side. She had been lucky. She'd be okay in a day or two of course, but the bruising was obvious, and he could tell she ached everywhere. "You should have gone to a hospital."

Buffy saw the look Giles was giving her. "Hey, I tried."

"Okay, when did this become a spectator sport?" Faith asked.

Willow and Tara, as well as Xander and Anya, were observing the dark-haired slayer's "patching up." They all quickly looked at different places. All except one.

"Sorry." Willow said sheepishly.

"I�s�sorry." Tara stuttered.

"Ditto." Xander said.

"I wanna see where the next bruise comes in." Anya said.

Everyone figured they were better off ignoring the ex-demon's comment.

"I don't get it." Buffy said. "Why?"

"I told you, B -"

"Yeah. Wolfram and Hart�Mayor's Will�demons probably paid off�but it doesn't add up. What would they have to gain by going after you?"

"It's what he wanted, Buff. He was their client. Legal obligations." Xander explained.

"I don't buy it. One, they almost exclusively work for demons, right? How big do you actually think they are on sticking to legal obligations? And the Mayor is dead. He has no family�"

"Seeing as they're dead." Willow agreed.

"And he's got no more influence." Giles said. "Faith, you yourself said you heard the demons say they weren't planning to kill you."

"What are you driving at?" Faith asked, not seeing the point.

"That there's another reason for this. And the fact that the Mayor's Will had you in it, and that threat, was just a convenient cover. That happened at the right time." Buffy said.

"To keep you all panicky, scared and confused. And us, so we don't see what else might be happening." Xander added, rather surprised by his own deduction skills.

"So I'm just being used? I really hate that." Faith seethed.

"What is going on then?" Tara asked, confused.

"Something bigger." Anya stated, obviously.

Faith didn't know what to think. She felt somewhat relieved that she might not be the main focus of Wolfram and Hart, but she was also a little upset at that too. Did they not think she was dangerous enough to give one hundred percent of their time to? Did they think she was just a pawn they could use? That they would get away with whatever they were plotting because they were able to distract her somewhat?

She was angry now, but when it came down to it, she wasn't in a hurry to retaliate. You couldn't fight a law firm. The one thing she didn't get was where Raziel fit in. It seemed like the pieces of the puzzle were starting to come together, but the only problem was, they didn't know which puzzle the pieces went to, or if the pieces were even connected correctly.

"Perhaps we should let Faith and Buffy get some sleep. It's been a long day, and we can always discuss this tomorrow." Giles said.

"I like that idea." Buffy agreed quickly, suddenly feeling very exhausted.

"Thanks Giles." Faith said gratefully.

After quick "good nights" were exchanged and everyone left, Buffy and Faith were finally alone. Buffy turned off the small light in the room, and not quite ready to lie down yet, sat next to Faith on the bed.

"You should have told me." Buffy said softly.

"What difference would it have made?"

"I just would have liked to know, then maybe�"

"I'm sorry. Just didn't want you to think you had to baby-sit me. Thought I could deal with it on my own." She touched her bandaged side, and closed her eyes. "I made a bad call. It happens."

"Baby-sit? Faith, I'd never do that. You're the last person in the world who�okay, maybe I would've nagged, and worried, and asked you to let me come with -"

"See?"

"But if you said no, I would have let it go. Don't tell me if I were the one in trouble you wouldn't try to do the same thing."

"I would've." Faith admitted. Buffy smiled, and gently put her arms around the dark-haired girl. "I'm fine. Really, B. You don't have to -"

"I know you are. This is for me."

***

Why did she tell Buffy to go to school?

Because she shouldn't have missed her first day back. She still had her shot.

Faith figured she would be okay for a few hours. She lost. Well, it was fifteen demons. Even Buffy would have lost with those kinds of odds. But she still lost something when she took the beating in that alley. Thinking about it, she really should have expected the punishment.

She had been waiting for it, actually. She had had a pretty smooth ride since Buffy reached out to her�damn; it was going on a year now. Willow had fixed her record, and she had gotten away with murder. Scott free. Repercussions were bound to come in some form or another.

The "demon gang up" had been the cosmic forces way of telling her they still remembered what she did and that she had a long way to go. It had accomplished two things. Reminded her that she was still vulnerable and not invincible, as well as pushed her possible future just a little further out of her reach.

She was waiting to hear back from the GED people, but since it seemed to be to taking so long, she assumed it wasn't going to go her way. They told her that if she had medical reasons and documentation, it wouldn't be a problem. But Faith didn't go to the hospital because she didn't think she needed to go. That was Strike number two in her book. One more and she was out.

Faith now stood in front of the mirror in her and Buffy's bathroom, rinsing her face with cold water. To try and snap herself out of her current funk. She had considered giving up the place, but she wasn't going to give Wolfram and Hart the satisfaction. Things were a little bad, but she promised herself she wouldn't get the "world is against me" attitude again. Though she couldn't seem to help it. It sure seemed that way.

Something came in and scared off her attackers, though. What the hell was it?

Shaking her head, she came out of the bathroom, wiping her face with a towel. Sighing, she suddenly felt a breeze blow into the room. Looking toward the window, she saw that it was open. And she saw why.

"Get the fuck out of here."

"You don't seem to be in any condition to back up that tone of voice." Raziel stated calmly.

"I don't remember inviting you in." Faith said, backing off.

"Invite?"

"Whatever. If we're gonna go, let's get started."

"That's not my intention at the moment."

***

"I should've stayed home." Buffy sighed, sinking into a very well cushioned chair in the college lounge. Class just ended, and she saw Willow and Tara already sitting down on one of the couches. "I miss her."

"Awww!" Willow said with a smile.

Buffy glared, and Tara decided that it was best to keep quiet.

She could feel her confusion, Faith's confusion, even here. She had never planned to fall in love with Faith, but she had. And she had fallen hard. She hadn't realized how hard before. Before had been different. Before they hadn't ever really been apart for very long, so she never had the time to think about the depth of her feelings. Now that she was separated from her, she didn't want to be.

She had been the same way with Angel. She didn't like going to school and leaving him. But it hadn't been that way with Riley, strangely enough. But with Faith, right now, she wanted to be there for her because�Faith was scared. Is that the emotion she was getting? Fear? Buffy had to admit being targeted by a very resourceful law firm and not knowing when the next attack would come or from where, had to be pretty scary. Considering what Faith had gone through last night.

This wasn't right. She shouldn't have been on campus. She should have been by Faith's side, reassuring her. Buffy still thought that Faith wasn't Wolfram and Hart's main focus. The sooner they got to the core of what they were trying to do; they'd back off of Faith. Buffy was sure of it. She just had to find out what their purpose was first. And make sure she, Faith, and her friends stayed alive long enough to do that.

"Uh�Buffy?" Tara asked.

"Faith? Huh? What? Oh. Tara. Yeah?" Buffy said quickly, focusing back on reality.

"It's eleven-thirty."

"O�kay." She didn't get it.

"You don't have any more classes today, do you?"

Buffy thought and then her eyes widened. "Class. I don't have any more class. No more classes do I have today."

"Go home, Dr. Seuss." Willow said, grinning.

"Right." She jumped up. Then she remembered Giles. "The funeral's at noon."

"We'll meet you there." Willow said.

***

"What is your intention?" Faith asked, preparing herself for a fight.

Buffy was on her way home. She didn't know how she knew, but she was. All Faith had to do was stall, and then they'd take him out together.

"To ask for your help."

Her eyebrows raised and she considered laughing. "Let me enlighten you, Raz. I kill bad guys. I don't help -"

She had once.

'It ended badly, and I'm still feeling the shockwaves after the fact. I'm not goin' there again.'

"It would be the honorable thing to do."

"Honorable? Even if I did believe you were just here to have a little chat, I'm not much into honor when it comes to vamps."

"But I saved your life. Certainly I'm owed a favor in return."

"That was�" She thought back to last night. He was the one who had chased off the demons? "One night you kick my ass and the next you save it? What the hell are you trying to do?"

"Get what's mine. And I believe you'll be more useful to me at the moment alive, rather than dead."

"I'm already being jerked around by those lawyers, I'm not gonna be your pawn too. So just forget -"

There was a knock at the door, and both she and Raziel looked. She turned towards him, but he was gone. Sighing, she went to answer the door.

"Oh, do we gotta talk." Faith said angrily to Angel. "Come in."

He walked in, and she slammed the door. "You're hurt."

"He's got eyes! I asked you to give me a heads up. Where was it?"

"Wesley called -"

"Well I didn't get the message." Angel was silent. "What do you want?"

"Are you going to be okay?"

"Thanks to B."

Angel walked around the loft. "Nice place."

"It's what got me attacked."

"Window's open."

"Get to the point."

"I paid a visit to the head of the firm. Hart. He thinks he's got an enemy here."

"Besides me and -?"

"Yes."

There was a rush of air as Raziel dropped into sight. "Thank you." Then he flew off.

"There he goes." Angel went to the window, and then quickly backed away, remembering his tendency to burn in the sun. "Want me to shut that?"

"Look, they've got somebody tracking me."

"Tell you what. You go back to LA and see if you can get something. Cause I'm not ready to go to the source. I don't want to piss them off again."

"You're going to have to face them."

"Uh�hey, guys." Buffy said, now entering her home. "What's�uh�going on?"

Faith walked over to Buffy's side. "Missed ya. He was just leaving."

"Missed you too." Buffy said in agreement, kissing her. "Olivia's funeral. You up for it?"

"Yeah." Faith turned to Angel. "See? Gotta go."

***

Lee Mercer stood in the newly remodeled Mayor's Office, cell phone in hand.

"They're both on their way, sir.

"Together?"

"Separately."

"Perfect. I hadn't believed it would be that easy. When?"

"About ten minutes ago."

"Excellent. Stay there and make sure whichever candidate wins, that our new client plays by our rules."

"He will."

***

The gang met up outside the entrance to the cemetery.

"I hate funerals." Xander said.

"They're gloomy." Anya said.

"And sad." Tara said.

"Poor Giles." Willow pouted.

"At least it's not one of us getting buried." Faith said, thinking how close she could have come.

They all had to nod their heads in agreement to that. They had survived four years on a Hellmouth. If one of them had ever died�they shuddered, preferring not to think about it. Right now, Giles needed support.

"You guys ready?" Buffy asked.

They all took deep breaths, and sticking close together, entered the cemetery, following the sound of 'Amazing Grace.'

***

"He's coming up on the offices now." Angel said into his cell phone as he sped through the LA streets.

"What would you like me to do?" Wesley asked on the other end.

"Get here. I'll leave the car in the parking garage. If I need to make a run for it -"

"I'll be there."

Angel hung up, and as he got closer to Wolfram and Hart, he watched as Raziel landed on the roof of the building. He parked the car, and jumped out. He ran right for the stairs, quickly checking to make sure he wasn't being seen.

***

Giles watched the coffin as it was lowered into the six-foot hole. He had called all of Olivia's relatives that he knew of, and they had all shown up. He had walked around, trying to be the strong one. She was a very well liked person, and that simply added to his guilt. He stood now, staring at the rose he had placed on the coffin, and watched it disappear as the dirt was poured.

He felt Joyce squeeze his hand, and was immensely grateful for it. As the priest said his last words, Giles spoke soft words of goodbye, to the last remnants of his past, and thanked the stars that she would stay at rest. He turned, smiled at Joyce, and found Willow, Buffy, and Xander waiting to envelop him in a hug which he gratefully accepted. Tara was looking around, seeming rather uncomfortable, and he couldn't blame her. He smiled at her in thanks, simply for being there. Anya was staring; she seemed numb. Something that was out of character for her. He didn't see Faith though.

People began to slowly make their way out, some clinging onto others for support. Feeling support behind him, he began to move as well. He spotted someone a few feet away as he looked around, and given the man's appearance, Giles knew where he was from.

"I'll meet you at the car." He said, heading over towards the man.

The gentleman looked nervous. "My condolences, Rupert."

"You have no right to be here, Quentin."

"I'm just paying my respects."

"You put her in that position, and you dare to come here -"

"We're all sad at the turn of events."

"I'll bet you are. We had an agreement."

"I'm returning to England now. I'm not here to complicate things."

He began to walk away. Giles stepped in front of him. "You already have. You came to see if we were dead. It failed. You sent him after a fake."

"We had no idea. We were given the information."

"Who is he?"

"I can't tell you that."

Giles grabbed the man by his tie, and yanked. "Oh, I think you can."

***

Buffy walked in search of Faith and found her standing in front of a grave. She gave her a half-smile, and Faith returned it. Buffy's eyes followed Faith's as they looked down at the flowers in front of the headstone. She read the name, and her eyes went wide. Allan Finch.

"Uh�why you over here?"

Faith shrugged. "Needed to think. Watching that whole thing was kinda getting to me."

Buffy didn't like how she sounded. "Faith?"

"I'm screwed. I'm being punished, B. For getting outta jail, lost my chance to -"

"Hey." Buffy said grabbing Faith's hand. "You are not screwed. And you've been doing good things."

"Doesn't change the fact that I killed people."

"One was an accident, and you didn't have a choice with the other."

"I'm still paying. And I should. You can't argue that."

"You're doing exactly what they want. They want you off your game. And if you're off your game, I'm off mine. So when they do launch whatever offensive they're planning on, we're too distracted to put up a fight."

"This is something I gotta let myself feel and deal with, B. They just helped me remember. You make me feel great, and I just�let everything else fade. I can't do that anymore. Do you get it?"

Buffy nodded. "What do you need me to do?"

"Could you�hold me?" Faith said nervously. "I know that sounds so -"

But Buffy was already putting her arms around the taller slayer, and embracing her tightly. "Promise me one thing?"

"What?"

"Don't shut me out?"

"No way. I love you."

Faith wrapped her arms around Buffy, and they stood there for a few moments before slowly walking out, hands linked.

***

The Underworld

Before the Second Birth of Man

He fell, and he expected to writhe and scream and feel pain, but he didn't. The Abyss transported him into the Underworld, completely intact. Physical body and all. He didn't understand. He had been slain. Defeated. Then he remembered, his soul had been taken from him.

The Abyss was only dangerous to those creatures that had souls, which he no longer had. Yet he was still taken to the place where souls roamed, awaiting transportation to their final destination. Where else was he to go? He hadn't been on the Earth long enough for his body to disintegrate into nothingness, so he wasn't really dead.

He wandered the land for awhile, until he heard a voice.

"You will be punished for your transgressions. I gave you the ultimate power, and you misused it."

Before he knew what was happening, souls were surrounding him. Attacking him. Burning him. And why shouldn't they? He wasn't like them. He was an outsider, who threatened their land. He had no soul, so therefore, he was an enemy. His screams did come for quite a long time. Every inhabitant of the lower regions knew of his suffering. He wished for death, but that was impossible. There was only pain.

Eventually, he became numb it having endured it for so long. It felt like eons, and it probably had been. The important thing was, it had ceased to affect him. It was over.

"Is that all?" He began to strike at the souls, but they simply passed through him.

"Go back to the world as less then what you were. And hope that it is merciful."

The next thing he felt was his own flesh, melting under the light of day.

***

Raziel entered Mr. Hart's office, throwing the doors open, and no one was there to stop him.

"I was told you wanted to see me. I wasn't aware that someone here considered me an enemy."

"I trust you had no trouble getting in, Raziel."

"Why do you sound familiar?"

"Why do I get the feeling I'll have to hire some new people? You always knew how to enter."

"Show yourself."

"It pains me that you don't remember."

Hart started to emerge from the shadows, and an object caught Raziel's eye. He began to step closer to it. "The Reaver."

"Ah. You remember that, don't you? Do remember what you did with it?"

He came into view.

"Kain."

6
TRAPPED - PT. 1 (OR - OUT TO SCREW ME)

"Welcome to my new empire." Kain said, spreading his arms out.

"How did you survive?"

"Oh, my poor child." Kain laughed in a way that sent chills through Raziel's body. "It was all thanks to you. And after you expended so much energy trying to kill me."

Raziel made sure Kain never left his sight as his creator walked around the room. "You seem very sure of yourself. A new name as well. Hart?"

"Amusing, no?"

"I'll succeed in destroying you this time. I swear it."

"So impulsive. Today, this time, you don't succeed through brute force. The more information you have, the more connections you have, the more successful you are. You, Raziel, could have taken advantage of that. Instead you chose to hide away."

"This world is disgusting. I wanted no part of it. I only came out to reclaim what's mine."

"We always did have different views of the perfect world. But in the end, my vision was realized. For you took away my soul, and the children I created after my punishment, were the descendants of today's breed. All too distracted, too into quarreling amongst themselves to seize any kind of power."

"So you're the only one with enough sense to step in."

"Who would oppose me?"

"I would." Angel said, stepping out of the far, shadowy corner.

Kain smiled. "Of course you would. You have more intelligence than the rest of them, but you are just as foolish. Please. Feel free to watch."

Raziel ignored Angel's emergence. "You always have to have the power for yourself. You always traded the honor of the breed for your selfishness."

"And why shouldn't I? I began that way. Having a chain of command, order, but all it did was produce traitors." He glared at Raziel.

"I did not ask for these." Raziel gestured to his wings. "Perhaps the Fates decided it was time for someone else to take control. But you couldn't give up your kingdom."

"If you were in my position, you wouldn't have." Angel saw that the two vampires were engrossed in their long history, and began moving back towards the other end of the room, sticking close to walls. "Before I can move on to greater things, and reclaim my weapon, you must die."

"The Reaver is bonded to me. And it will stay that way."

"Until you no longer exist. Then it will bond with the next being who has a soul, and who frees it from its wooden prison. I hadn't fully understood it's power before, but now I do. With that weapon, and the law behind me, I'll be unstoppable.

"Don't you see? I've been waiting and planning for a thousand years. It took a long time for me to achieve this position in the world. To find the Soul Reaver. To have a duplicate made and planted�I knew the Council of Watchers would come to you, and I arranged for the sword to be sold to the mother of the blonde slayer. I've taken everything into account."

"Why involve the slayers?"

Angel was close to the sword now.

"I was hoping you'd kill each other and save me the trouble. They would have been trouble in the future anyhow. But you held back. As I should have expected. They shall continue to be dealt with so they don't interfere. And that has played out nicely. With minimal effort on my part."

"So the final step in your plan is to kill me. Let's begin."

"You know what strikes me, Raziel? You want to restore the honor of the race; to return them to their former greatness, yet you carry thousands of the many old souls in you needed to do exactly that. Including mine, which I will take back from you. Ironic is it not? In a way, you started the breed towards the pitiful state it is now at."

"You talk too much." Raziel said, seething with anger.

Raziel rushed Kain, and delivered several powerful blows to his face. Kain remained unfazed and retaliated by punching Raziel hard into the face, sending him careening backwards.

"I am not two human females, Raziel. You are out of touch. Shame." Kain held out his palm, and it began to pulsate red. "Magick is a wonderful tool."

Raziel began to clutch at his chest. He began to shake. The pain was intense. It reminded him of the Abyss. Kain was more powerful than he had been, and Raziel wasn't prepared for it. Then he saw light begin to pour into the room, and Kain stopped abruptly, reeling in pain.

Angel stood out of the sun's path, by the side of the window. He had the sword in hand. "Seems like a very sought after item." He said, studying it.

"Give it to me." Raziel said.

"No�I�think I'll hang onto it."

"You have no idea what you're getting involved in."

"I never do. But I despise this firm, so I'm already involved."

"Then we're allies."

"I wouldn't say that. But you are coming with me."

"Why would I do that?"

"I can always shut the curtains and let the fight continue, though it seemed pretty one-sided to me."

Raziel hated to admit weakness, but after a few moments, he spoke.

"I agree to come with you."

"How far do you think this minor victory will take you?" Kain asked Angel.

Angel widened the curtains a little bit more, and Kain shifted more into the still dark parts of his office. "I'm sure one of your employees will be by real soon."

***

Lee Mercer waited until both candidates were in the Mayor's Office, and then shut the door.

"What news do you have?" One of them asked.

"The citizens have voted, Mr. Treden." Lee stated.

"And?" Mr. Treden's opponent asked.

"It was hard to discern at first, the ballots were neck and neck, but," He walked close to Treden's opponent, mere inches separated them. In the next second, he was dust. "I'm afraid you lost."

"How did you decide?" Treden asked.

Lee brushed the dust off his suit and stuck the stake inside his jacket. "Mr. Hart is not very fond of vampires." He cleared his throat. "Now, you know what we want."

"Is it possible?"

"The officials in this town know where their salaries come from. They won't question you. It's all arranged. I just hope you remember who gave you this opportunity."

"I do."

"Wolfram and Hart will have no more direct contact with you. From now on, use more discreet communications."

"I won't fail you." Treden said, shifting out of human form to his true, demon one. Muted red, scaly skin; sharp, golden spikes; deep, black eyes; and no visible mouth.

"That's what the last one said. And he�well, you know how he ended up." Lee moved to open the door. "One last suggestion. Don't show that side to the press. It's not flattering."

***

The slayers walked and walked for what seemed like ever; silence being their main topic of conversation. They had left the cemetery, finding everyone waiting for them by Joyce's car. Faith had asked Giles if she could talk to him in private, and they had walked away from the car, spoke a few words, and surprising everyone, Faith had given him a quick hug. Then she and Buffy started their walk.

Their communication was all in their contact. Buffy walked alongside Faith, making sure she was as close to her as possible. Their fingers were entwined, and Buffy was resting her head on Faith's shoulder. Faith's one free arm was wrapped around Buffy's waist. The blonde knew that Faith was the one feeling weak, and the one feeling guilt and doubt, but Buffy felt the same way, because she couldn't do anything.

"This is enough." Faith said quietly, speaking for the first time. "Just this. No bad feelings."

"I can't stop."

Faith sighed. "And I wanted to be different. I'm making you miserable. Just like the others."

"No you're not. Wanna know what I thought about all day? You. This. Just being next to you. This makes me happy."

"Remember all that 'feeling each other's emotions' stuff?"

"That's not misery, that's worry. I do that a lot when I care about somebody. Even more when I love 'em."

"How can you -?"

"Stop. Don't. I just do. With whatever you feel you have to go through, whatever happens, that won't change. Never question it."

"B -"

"Ssh. I'm not going anywhere."

They stopped walking, and found themselves standing outside one of the forty-three churches in Sunnydale. Faith looked at Buffy, and the older slayer nodded. They entered, and Buffy hung back near the back of the church. Faith looked back at her, and she smiled in encouragement.

Faith walked to the front left side of the church, pulled back the curtain on a wooden booth, and went inside. She pulled the curtain shut again, and knelt down, taking a deep breath. "Forgive me Father, for I have sinned."

***

The rest of the group had gone back to Joyce's house to crash for awhile. There was something about funerals that made them want to stick close together for awhile. Giles had learned a great deal from Quentin about Raziel and his history, and it gave him something else to focus on besides the day's events. He would see that the creature was killed for her though. He just had to wait for Buffy and Faith to return so he could share his information. He also planned to go back to the gallery in the morning. He felt it was time to continue his life.

Willow, Tara and Xander were engaged in conversation, and were trying to get back into good spirits again. The wiccans had made love just yesterday, and yet it seemed like weeks had passed by. Bad things always had to interrupt the bliss, didn't they? That was the way on the Hellmouth. Xander was asked not to come into work today, and to come back tomorrow. They had given no explanation, and he had found it rather suspicious. But it was Sunnydale's government, so he had a right to his, probably well-founded, suspicions.

Anya sat by herself on the couch, near Joyce, who was so exhausted that she had fallen asleep. Anya wondered how she could do that. They had just come from a mourning ceremony. A place of sadness and black clothes. In all her eleven hundred and twenty years, she had never been to a funeral. It was always do the kill and move on. Like a proper demon should. When she saw all those people weeping and crying, the overall gloominess of the atmosphere, she had become catatonic. She thought about how many men she had killed. Hundreds? No, it was more like thousands.

And they probably all had families who attended their funerals, who loved them, who wept, who would miss them. Taking herself even further, she wondered how many people had taken their own lives because of the grief they felt. And given the way she had taken some of her victims' lives, suicide was a definite possibility. She had never had to witness the aftermath before, and she felt something she hadn't felt for a very long time. Guilt.

Not over Olivia. But over all of the others. All the others she had forced to be buried. She had been full of rage for so many years, had hurt so many people. Even the ones she hadn't killed, she had made sure that they hid in shame from society. Every woman's wish she granted, they had always regretted it afterwards, but she had just brushed them off as foolishly burdened by emotion and guilt. Now she was human, and she was beginning to understand how they felt. And she didn't like it at all.

"Anya? Anya, are you okay?" Xander asked, coming to sit beside her.

"No�I'm very upset."

"Oh. Well -"

"And I don't want to talk about it."

She got up, and walked upstairs, leaving Xander dumbfounded. He wasn't expecting that.

***

"Angel, do you really think it's wise to�" Wesley said, staring down the elevator shaft in the office.

"He went after Buffy. And Faith. I was in no position to kill him, and I don't even know if�" He stopped, suddenly deciding not to continue that thought. "I listened to the conversation, and he's the more the sensible. I went with the only option I had. I have what he wants, and I can keep an eye on him."

"By keeping an eye on him you mean being up here while he's down there, in your home, with this great weapon he wants more than anything in the world?" Cordelia asked, not being able to believe the vampire's absentmindedness.

"I said a few incantations over the sword. There's mystical barriers protecting it."

"Oh. I knew that." Cordelia said, trying to hide the blush that was threatening to show on her face, and going to sit down at her desk.

"I'm still not clear on what good keeping him here will do." Wesley said.

"Hart, Kain, whoever he is, wants him dead. If he dies, we'll have a -"

"Real big problem on our hands?" Cordelia asked.

Angel nodded. "But I don't trust Raziel either. Which is why he's here, and the sword's protected. He's smart. Kain seems to hedge on sanity line, but I think Raziel can be reasoned with."

"You wouldn't be being drawn in by his 'vampire honor' crusade, would you?" She asked in a tone between seriousness and sarcasm.

"No, of course not."

"Just checking."

"Do you plan to tell Buffy and Faith that he's here?" Wesley asked.

"I'm on it." Cordelia told them. "Right after my break."

***

Raziel had stared at the sword for awhile. He was so close to it, yet he knew he could not take it. He could smell the magick around it. So he walked around the vampire's home, looking at his collections. He was very impressed with Angel's assortment of axes. But he saw mainly one thing as he looked around. A vampire with a life. As much as one could get anyway, being what he was.

He had to admit to himself now, that Kain had been right. His sire had integrated himself very well into the current world. Raziel was stuck behind, simply because he had values. While not desiring Kain's current status, he could have at least become a part of the world, instead of remaining a recluse. He might have been in better position now, if he had.

But he hadn't thought that far ahead, because really, even though he declined the Elder's offer of death and rest, he never expected to have the desire to leave the Sanctuary. He still had the need to continue living though. What being wanted to die? Only the incredibly mad, he reasoned. He had thought the Reaver gone forever, but when he found out it wasn't, he felt like he had purpose again.

His confrontation with Kain, he wouldn't even call it that, had discouraged him somewhat. He had grand visions of armies of souled brethren, all working and coordinating together, for a better world. Not rampant destruction of the humans or their cities. He believed that humans had their place, that vampires were superior, and they had claim to the world. Of course there would be rebellions, but the majority would learn to fall in line. A system where power was held in the hands of many, for the benefit of the entire race, which was a vision that Kain didn�t share.

Yet, he wondered if he could accomplish that. The quarreling vampires might not want to join under his cause. Might even be too far-gone to understand his reasons. And he couldn't force a soul on a soulless creature. They had to be willing. Doubts kept flooding into his mind. Before he could do any of that, he reminded himself, he needed the sword. He needed his abilities. He wasn't ready for Kain, and that was a problem.

He looked up at the elevator as it started to descend. After a few seconds, Angel stepped out.

"You have a soul. A human one. I felt it before." Raziel said. "How is that possible?"

"Curse."

Raziel shook his head. "A soul should not be a curse. My sympathies."

"It has its good qualities." Angel walked over to his fridge, and got out a packet of blood.

He looked at Raziel's longing expression, and the old vampire noticed. "That, is my curse. Feeding off souls for survival."

"Human ones."

"There aren't any more demons with them." Raziel began to study Angel closely. "Except you. Though it isn't the kind of soul a vampire should have."

"Feeding off me would be a mistake. If you did, I'd be just like the others. Soulless and a mindless killer."

"I could kill you if it was necessary."

"I wouldn't bet on that." Angel said, feeling his darker half begin to stir.

Raziel sighed, and looked at the sword again. "I need it. It will sustain me. So I will no longer have to feed."

"Right. Then it'll just give you the power to destroy almost anything you want. You see my problem with that."

"You're wise. Wiser than most of your kind." Raziel sat on the sofa. "Very well. What do you propose?"

"We'll help you destroy Kain, but it's his move. We wait for it, and try to develop a plan of attack."

***

When Faith was finished, Buffy saw that some of the weight had been lifted. She could feel it. Faith came back to the second to last pew, and they just sat there for awhile. Buffy wasn't very religious and neither was Faith (kind of ironic considering they used crosses daily), but there was something extremely peaceful about it. A church, no matter what you believed in, symbolized goodness and positive feelings, which was something they both needed.

Eventually, they left the church to find the sun just about down. And six vampires waiting for them. Caught off guard a little bit, they managed to grab their stakes, and started to slay. Faith tackled the one nearest to her, and she wrestled with him on the ground, punching him repeatedly.

"Why won't they just leave me alone!?" Faith screamed at him.

He didn't answer, and she didn't care either way. She got over top of him, and jammed her stake into his chest. She sprang up, and rushed over to help Buffy. This was helping her. Battling evil was very cleansing, and it was fitting that it was in front of the church. She knew the high of slaying was temporary, but she planned to make it last.

Neither slayer noticed the figure running out of the church.

***

"Anya? Honey? You coming out of there?" Xander asked, standing outside the bathroom in the upstairs hallway.

Silence. And then -

"You wouldn't understand."

"Maybe if you told me I could attempt to."

"Just go away, Xander."

Xander didn't hear the soft footsteps coming up from behind him.

"Want me to talk to her?" Tara asked quietly.

He jumped. "Tara."

"Oh�uh...s-sorry."

"No, it's all right. I just have a fright disorder. They say it's psychological, but I really don't think so." He took a breath. "I've never seen her like this before. Un-her like."

Tara stepped up to her door and softly knocked. "Anya?"

***

They grabbed the final vampire by both of his arms, and using all of their strength, Buffy and Faith threw him onto the roof of the church. The vampire landed up against a very large cross. It began to scream, its whole body sizzling, smoking, until it eventually burst into millions and millions of dust particles.

"That was so cool." Faith said.

"Who says you can't be creative with slayage? Come on, let's get outta here."

***

"Slow down." Willow said speaking into Joyce's cordless phone. "Cordy, look�" She sighed, and gave a pleading look to Giles who took the phone from her. "Cordelia?" He asked.

Buffy and Faith came in then, still very much on the up because of their successful outing. Joyce, who had awoken earlier, instantly slipped into worry mode. "Are you both okay? We thought you'd be back sooner."

"Vamps." Buffy explained.

"Dust all around." Faith said.

"The way it should be." Buffy added.

They sat on opposite sides of Xander on the couch, and he had the remote in hand.

"If you ladies are gonna get frisky, I'll move."

"Xander!" Buffy said, blushing.

"I just know how you get after a slaying, and I'd like to remain the faithful type and leave my fantasies as fantasies. Comprende?"

"Where is Anya anyway?" Faith asked. Xander looked down at his hands. "Oh. Why don't we see what Must See Crap has tonight?"

He gave her the remote, and she flipped through the channels until she ended up on the news. She was about to move on when she recognized the City Hall building. It looked like some sort of conference. The reporter spoke.

"New Mayoral Elect Mark Treden, the first mayor since the end of the Wilkins Dynasty, is the youngest to ever enter office, at the age of thirty-five. Let's listen in now, as he has asked to address the residents of Sunnydale."

The camera switched to the clean cut, brown-haired, youthful new mayor.

"First, I would like to pay my respects to my opponent, who fought a hard campaign. But as he is now left in the dust," The gathered laughed and cheered, "I must shift my focus to the voters of this town, without which, I wouldn't be before you today. And I thank you.

"Now, it has come to attention, and as I'm sure many of you have suspected, that Mayor Wilkins' administration was corrupt. Based on files that he had not been able to destroy before the unfortunate end of his term, he used his authority to bend the law, as well as many other numerous acts I can't mention here.

"I promise you that I will purge this government of all remnants of his corruption. It will be handled quickly and efficiently, so I may move Sunnydale into a new age, and transform it into a town that you can be proud to say that you live in.

"Thank you again."

Faith robotically shut off the television. Giles hung up with Cordelia.

"Well he seems committed." Joyce said.

"Buffy, Angel has some news that -" Giles began.

The doorbell sounded, and everyone looked at each other quizzically. Joyce got up, and moved to answer it. Police rushed in, guns pointed. A man walked in behind them, and flashed a badge to the group.

"Buffy Summers and Faith Adams?" He looked directly at them, and they stood, both agreeing silently that a violent outburst wouldn't help things. Krupp nodded to his officers, and they began to handcuff the two slayers.

"You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney, if you cannot afford one, one will be assigned to you. Do you understand these rights as I have read them to you now?"

They nodded silently, and amid the protests of their friends, were walked from the house.

7
TRAPPED - PT. 2 (OR - FIRST WORD, JAIL�)

In the middle of a meadow, full of birds chirping, flowers, a bright sun shown down on a large apple tree. There wasn't a single flaw on the bark, all the leaves were a light green, and the apples were the image of perfection. Large, bright red, almost too good to be true.

Running into the meadow, came two females. A blonde and a brunette. They came in, playfully tackling each other to the ground. They rolled in the grass kissing, running hands through hair, laughing. Stopping eventually, they ended up on their backs, heads facing the tree.

"Whoa." Buffy said in awe.

"Yeah. Too bad it's off limits." Faith said.

Buffy got up and started walking towards it. "What do you mean?"

"It's not for us." Faith said, moving to catch up.

"Who else is going to use it?" Buffy looked up at the tree. "Isn't it beautiful?"

"It really is." Faith sighed in agreement. Just wasn't something they were meant to have. She knew that.

But Buffy didn't let that stop her. As she was walking around the tree, a few apples fell off, landing at her feet. She picked one up and turned it around in her hand, staring at it admiringly. "Faith, look at this!"

The younger slayer went to stand beside her girlfriend and lover, and looked at the apple she held in hands.

On the apple, an image was playing out. It was a scene. A wedding on a tropical island. Faith and Buffy stood side by side, barefoot on a sandy beach as they slipped rings on each other's fingers.

Faith looked away. "That's a nice dream."

"Who says that's all it has to be?" Buffy picked another apple up and handed it to Faith. "Here. What's yours?"

Faith looked at the apple, and then handed it off to Buffy quickly. "Doesn't matter."

The blonde stared at it, eyes widening in surprise. "Faith�I�had no idea."

"Just something�forget it. There's a reason why things are called dreams, B. Usually can't get 'em."

"I don't believe that." She gave Faith back the apple, and she still held hers in her hand. "I'll go for it if you will."

"I'm telling you�we'll just get -"

"At least we'll know we tried."

Faith closed her eyes. She wanted to do so much. She couldn't resist going after it. The two slayers bit into the apples. They were definitely sweet. Weren't all dreams?

Then, dropping down out of the tree, came a two-headed snake. It coiled itself around the girls' wrists, bonding them together. Both ends of the snake sank their fangs into their flesh, and they cried out.

The next thing they knew, the snake had transformed into a pair of handcuffs, and the dropped apples began to rot.

They woke up simultaneously in their cell, Buffy's head resting on Faith's shoulder. The first thing they noticed was a visitor standing on the other side of the bars.

"I understand that you're in need of representation." Lindsey McDonald stated.

***

Angel entered his home looking distraught, and Raziel picked up on that immediately.

"What has happened?" Raziel asked.

"They've been arrested." Angel answered quietly, with controlled anger.

"Credit must be given to Kain, then. He's made sure my resources to get to him are limited."

"They're not resources." Angel said sharply.

"Forgive me. People. Whatever you wish to call them, he has made sure they don't interfere either."

"Until we can�"

"This changes things. I see that."

Raziel had some thinking to do, and he felt himself beginning to weaken. He hadn't eaten, and his hunger was growing.

***

"They wouldn't even let me see her. I'm her mother, for God's sake." Joyce said to Giles, in his home.

It had been two days since Buffy and Faith were arrested and imprisoned. The gang was paralyzed. They couldn't do anything. The police were dead set on isolating the two slayers from everyone and everything. They hadn't come forward with any evidence to charge them with, and they'd have to soon, or Buffy and Faith would be released. The fact that the cops were waiting so long, either meant they had nothing, or they had a lot and were just trying to put it together.

"The reason they aren't allowing you to see her, is because morals and ethics don't apply in this town. Especially where Buffy and Faith are concerned. This is all tied in with the Mayor and Wolfram and Hart. It has to be."

"Why don't they just face Buffy and Faith head on?"

"Because they could easily defeat most anything thrown at them, and this way, and Angel says the vampire's name is Kain, does not implicate himself or the firm."

"How can they fight the law?"

"That's the point. The courtroom is Wolfram and Hart's battleground, and once they get in there�"

"We have to do something. You, Willow and Xander can't fight forever. And I know I can't."

"Angel was going to come here with Raziel," Giles said the latter vampire's name with a substantial amount of bitterness, "but I asked him to put that on hold until we can figure something out. It's too much of a risk to complicate things right now. We need them out of jail, I just haven't the faintest idea what to do."

***

Buffy and Faith sat on one side of a long metal table, each cuffed to a leg of it, and Lindsey sat on the other side. The room was bare except for the table and the three chairs they were all sitting on. There was a two-way mirror on the far wall, and Faith looked toward it suspiciously.

Lindsey saw her. "This is a private meeting."

Faith looked at Buffy, and then back at him. "Really? So if we wanted to, say," She snapped her chain, as did Buffy, and flipped the table over. Lindsey jumped back, nearly crushing his briefcase. "Come over there and break your neck, nobody would know?"

Three cops burst into the room, trying to fumble for their guns.

"Good call." Buffy said, impressed.

"What can I say? I'm perceptive." Faith turned to Lindsey. "Now, are you going to play nice? Cause we already got screwed over by your people once. You really think we're gonna let it happen again?"

Lindsey nodded to the three officers for them to leave. They moved for more sets of handcuffs, but he shook his head, and they backed out of the room, shutting and locking the metal door behind them.

Buffy started to lift the table back up. "Now, where were we?"

"He was gonna say how he planned to defend us." Faith said, taking her seat once more.

"But from what? They haven't charged us, and if they don't, we get let go. It's that forty-eight hour thing."

"The reason why you haven't been charged, is because I've delayed it." Lindsey picked his briefcase up off the floor, and sat it on the table. "They've got numerous charges which they are more than willing to press, and all of which will stick. But that's up to you."

Faith's expression of toughness faltered somewhat. "Do tell."

"Where do you want me to start? Robbery? Evading arrest? Assaulting law enforcement? Or shall we skip right to murder?"

Faith flinched.

"They can't -" Buffy began to protest.

"Oh, they will. Miss Summers, they have been waiting a long time to get you behind bars, as I've come to learn. And with the local police department's aggressive new polices, I can assure you that they will pull out all the stops."

Buffy closed her eyes and laid her head on the table. Faith's hand found hers, and it squeezed tightly.

"Now, as for you, Miss Adams, you didn't appear to have any record whatsoever on file, I'm told. You don't exist, according to the computer system."

"Then why am I here?" Faith thought. "Oh. Nevermind. I'm looking at the reason." She glared at him.

"Thinking about extending our sentence? I can't see how that would help." He paused, and began to open up his briefcase. "As I was going to say, the police don't have files on you, but Richard Wilkins did. Very extensive ones on the two, of you, actually. Damaging as well.

"Mayor Treden has lumped you in as part of the old, corrupt administration, and I could probably use blackmail as a defense. Coercion. Against your will�"

"But?" Buffy prodded.

"There's one piece of evidence that could either destroy both your chances, or help them tremendously, depending on how it's used."

"Stop stringing us along." Faith hissed.

Lindsey reached into his briefcase and grabbed a small tape recorder. He rewound the tape inside for a few seconds, and then he hit play.

"Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. It has been�well, I've never confessed before, but there's a first time for everything, right?" Faith's voice said off the tape.

The slayers were in a shocked silence.

"There certainly is, isn't there?" Lindsey said.

***

"This is all messy." Willow said to Xander, walking through the Restfield cemetery.

They were trying to do their honorary slaying duty, seeing as their slayer friends weren't in a position to.

"That's the understatement of the century, Will." Xander quipped.

"But�jail? Who would have thought jail?" She asked in her patented, worry mode.

"I know it's hard to believe, being a Hellmouth and all, but this is reality. In reality, when you have a record like Buffy's and however they got Faith's, you go to jail. It'd be nice if we were a TV show where such pesky details were ignored�"

"But we're not."

"Nope."

"Right." Willow turned to him. "How come you're calm guy?"

"No, this is 'panicked pretending to be freaked' guy. Especially cause of the vamp, oh about, directly in front of us."

Willow realized what he was saying and without missing a beat, closed her eyes and said a few soft words. The vampire tried to attack, but he couldn't move. He was frozen in place. Xander lunged forward and staked it.

They looked around cautiously.

"So what are we going to do?" The redhead asked. "Xander, no." She added quickly, in her most authoritative voice.

"What?"

"Whatever you may be thinking�don't."

"Gotcha. No thinking. So�where's your other half?"

"Huh?" Willow thought. "Oh. With your girlfriend. What's going on with her anyway?"

He shook his head. "I don't know. She won't talk to me." He froze. "You don't think they're - nah."

"Tara and -?" Her worry began to increase, and her face scrunched. "No. I mean�no. Of course not."

"Anya wouldn't�good. Glad that's settled." Xander said quickly.

They continued to walk; however a little more preoccupied.

***

"You have no idea what it's like." Anya said sharply to Tara in the blonde's dorm room. "Inflicting vengeance for a millennium and then suddenly being human and feeling...bad."

"Why do you have to be so mean?" Tara asked.

"Mean?"

"I might not know much about you�but you�you don't know anything about me either."

"I guess this is the part where you're going to tell me and I should pretend to be interested." Anya sighed.

"If you don't want to talk, why are you here?" The ex-demon didn't answer. "My great, great grandmother was a�a demon. She knew magick."

"So you've got a little demonic blood in you. Wow." Anya said sarcastically.

"You don't know how hard it is to grow up knowing that your ancestors were demons and they killed people. My great, great grandmother�slept with a human, killed him and gave birth to my grandmother. She was a half-breed, so my great, great grandmother didn't want anything to do with her. But she couldn't kill her own child."

"You never killed anybody," She pointed her finger at Tara, "so don't -"

Tara started to choke on her words. "I had to watch them die. My family died because they were considered tainted by the spirit of our ancestors. They sacrificed themselves for me. It's not the same thing, but it still hurts."

Anya seemed to study and scrutinize the blonde's body, eyebrows raised.

"This is really me. Magick is just like�built into me, but for the most�I'm human. I heal a little quicker...sometimes."

"She doesn't know."

"Not all of it." Tara said softly. "She doesn't know about the demon�p�part."

"Aha!"

"This isn't about�" She trailed off. She wasn't going to allow herself to become sidetracked. "Xander knows you were a demon, he knows you've hurt people and he still loves you."

"What do you expect me to do?"

"You're human now. Not a vengeance demon. Not a killer. Pray for those people you killed, apologize, and move on. He's already helping you. Try and put his help to good use."

"Like what? A job? I don't think so."

Tara sighed helplessly.

***

Giles stumbled into Willy's Place at around nine. Willow and Xander had checked in a half and hour before, to let he and Joyce know that they were all right. Soon after, he had taken off in his car, and had ended up here. Now, he shakily sat on one of the stools by the bar. Strangely enough, it was empty. Except for Willy, of course.

"No customers tonight?" He asked in a slurred tone, suggesting that he had had a little alcohol beforehand.

"Ever since�hey, you look familiar."

"Because I'm a drunk loser? You must get a lot of people like me." Giles answered, his eyes downcast.

"Actually, I don't get many people in here."

"What then?"

"Come on, buddy. There isn't anybody in this town who don't know about demons."

"I just figured I was seeing things. Everything's falling apart. You know? My girlfriend's gone, I let some friends down, I let down her mother�I'm a failure."

"I'm sure things'll get better."

"Always look on the bright side of life�" He began to sing the old Monty Python tune. "I'm sorry. You were saying something about no customers?"

"Well," Willy started nervously, "ever since the slayers got put behind bars all the regulars have been otherwise occupied. Know what I mean? Slayers?"

He looked at Willy like he thought the man was nuts. "Right. How about a drink?"

"You sure about that?"

"Of course I'm sure. Bloody moron." Willy got out a shot glass and set it on the counter. He poured Giles a shot of tequila. "So what are these incarcerated 'slayers' names?"

"Buffy. And the other one is Faith."

"Yes. I read about it in the paper. Do you think they'll be gone for awhile? The cops won't say anything."

"You kidding? Those lawyers have it covered."

"Lawyers?"

"Out of town guys. Wolfram and Hart. You know."

Giles downed the drink, and felt his throat burn. "Really?" He slammed the glass down and pointed at its emptiness.

Willy poured again. "They've got a confession from the one."

Giles' eyes widened. "Buffy confessed?"

"No." Willy shook his head. "The other one."

"I find that hard�I find that�um�" He looked to Willy for help.

"To believe?"

He shook his finger at Willy. "That's it. How do you know all this?"

Willy looked around conspiratorially. The guy wasn't going to say anything. He wouldn't even remember it the next morning. "How much ya got?"

Giles reached into his pocket and fumbled with his wallet, trying to retrieve it. It fell on the floor. He stared at it for a second, and then as he reached down to grab it, he hit the floor and giggled drunkenly. "Whoops."

"You all right?" Willy asked coming over to Giles and kneeling down.

"Just�wonderful." He laughed again, and grabbed his wallet, spilling bills onto the floor. "How much do you want?"

Willy, taking advantage of Giles' inebriated state, grabbed all the cash off the floor. There was at least five hundred. "This'll do."

Giles struggled to sit up. "You were saying�something."

Willy leaned in close, and whispered. "She went to confess at the church on Manor Street, and they set up a recorder�"

Giles listened as explained everything. "And you went and retrieved this for them?"

"Let's just say I'll be doing some redecorating."

"I should -" His eyes darkened, and looked a little less glazed over then they had before.

Then, running into the bar, came Joyce. The two men looked up at her, and she worriedly rushed to Giles' side. "There you are, Rupert! I think we should get you home now." She looked at Willy. "Thank you for watching out for him."

Willy quickly got to his feet. "Yeah�no problem." Joyce helped Giles up, and they started for the door. "Drive safe!"

When the two of them got outside and into the car, Joyce in the driver's seat, she turned to Giles who sat across from her.

"Well?"

He reached inside his jacket, pulled out the mini-tape recorder he had hidden, and grinned. "Moron."

***

"I'm screwed." Faith said the next morning to Buffy.

The blonde got off her rock-hard bed/cot/wood plank on the other side of their cell, and walked over to Faith's. "Scoot over." The brunette sat up, and Buffy sat beside her. "We're in this together. If you're screwed, I'm scr�wait. That doesn't sound right, does it?"

"If we were anywhere else it would sound pretty damn good." Faith got up and began to pace. "There's no reason we both have to go down. I could work a deal. Do your time and mine, and -"

"Stop right there. Forget everything else, okay? Either we both get out or we both stay in. Besides, you confessed to a priest. They can't use that."

"All they have to do is come up with a story and edit the tape, B."

"Fine. So we both get the black and white stripes. I won't let you take the fall."

Faith smiled sadly. "I knew you were going to say that. This is what happens. I knew it." She turned away.

Buffy got up and walked around in front of her. "What's happening?"

"Love messes with your head and you can't see straight. There's other things to think about. One of us has to be out there, and it's better you than me."

"I'm not convinced."

"Did you forget about Raziel and all that? Your�our friends? You gonna leave 'em to fend for themselves? And you got college goin' for ya, B. Everything."

"So do you!" Buffy practically screamed. How could Faith not see that?

"All I've got is you. And I thought that would be enough, but�I've�things have changed. Caught up with me. Maybe this is the best thing for me."

"I can't believe I'm hearing this. I'm not gonna let you."

Faith pulled Buffy into a tight embrace, and then kissed her. More tenderly and lovingly than she ever had. Both slayers got an eerie feeling that this was last time they'd ever share a moment like this. Faith stopped, and whispered in her lover's ear.

"Too late."

As she said that, a guard unlocked their cell, and entered. He pulled Faith back, away from Buffy. "Summers, you're free to go."

"What did you do, Faith?" Buffy asked.

"Go, B. Please."

"No." Tears were streaming down her face. "I can't believe you -"

"Damn it, Buffy! Leave!"

Buffy flinched. "I'll get you out. You know that, right?"

Faith looked down at her feet. The guard directed Buffy to go down the hallway. When Buffy was out of sight, he pulled Faith up, handcuffed her, and then they walked down the other direction, and out a back door. In the alley, a limousine's back door was open, and the officer pushed Faith in.

"Welcome aboard." Lindsey said to her inside.

***

"We're going." Angel said to Raziel.

"I thought -"

"I can't wait anymore."

Raziel got up off the floor of Angel's home, and walked up to the younger vampire. He was shaking. "For once�you and I are in�agreement."

"What are you -?" Angel's eyes went wide.

"I'm sorry. But it has to be done."

Raziel shoved his clawed hand into Angel's chest, and a green light began to come from his mouth. Angel dropped to his knees, and he began to be fed off of. Raziel felt himself getting stronger. Soon, he would be sated, and he would reclaim his weapon.

***

Buffy entered Giles' home about twenty minutes later, to find everyone there. Except Anya. They all saw her, and rushed over, giving her hugs. After the initial shock and welcoming, the questioning began. Buffy sat on the couch, Willow and Tara next to her.

"How did you get out?" Xander asked. "You didn't -"

Buffy was shaking, rubbing her hands together. "No�no. Faith�uh�"

"Where is she?" Joyce asked.

"I can't�"

"Oh no." Willow said quietly.

Giles walked over to his table, and picked up his tape recorder. "Damn."

Buffy looked up. "What's that?"

"It's not important." He said softly.

"Tell me, Giles."

He cleared his throat. "It was a confession from Willy. I was going to go call Angel and tell him to get in touch with Wolfram and Hart. In the hopes that they would�get you released."

"Because they'd be afraid of getting accused of�" Buffy ran her hands through her hair. "If she had waited just a few more�"

She slammed her fist into the coffee table, breaking it in half. Tara and Willow cautiously reached for her, and when Buffy began to cry, they enveloped her in a hug. Xander stared down at his friend, and felt his anger level rise.

Not saying a word to anyone, he stormed from the house.

 

8
FROM BAD�TO WORSE (OR - NO MATTER HOW SORRY YOU ARE)

 

As Raziel finished his task, he felt his strength rush back. Angel's soul was a tortured one, but also very strong. It had survived a lot of pain. He had drawn out the feeding, to savor it. All Raziel cared about was that it was strong enough to last him quite awhile. He needed to get to the Reaver. Because Angel had cast the magick as a souled creature, and no longer was, the spell was undone.

Angel dropped to the ground, his body shaking from Raziel's invasion. He came back to himself. He had come back. Angelus, however grateful, was not at all happy with the ancient vampire. He could still feel the gaping chest wound, even though it was already nearly healed. His last two returns to the world had been much more pleasurable than that, and he was angry that this third time hadn't been. Then again, he just had a burning to desire to kill something.

He wasn't sure what he was going to do yet. Cordelia and Wesley had just gotten in, and were upstairs. He smiled. From his position on the ground, he watched as Raziel headed for that wooden sword that sat atop the weapons cabinet. It was time to get some practice in. Springing up, he launched himself at Raziel. When they both tumbled to the ground, and realized that he had a hold of Raziel's wings, his vampiric face surfaced.

Raziel realized that Angel had gripped his wings. The pain was unbearable the first time, and considering it took them a better part of a millennium to heal, he really didn't want to wait that long again. Plus, his ability to ability to travel would be severely hampered. He'd have to walk through the, he shuddered, sewers to remain inconspicuous to the humans.

"You don't want to do this." Raziel said.

"I think I do. He warned you about setting me free. You didn't listen. Things just got worse."

Without a second thought, Angelus tore both wings clean off. Raziel let out a blood-curdling scream. Kain had simply hurt them enough so they wouldn't function. He hadn't completely torn them from Raziel's body. If Angelus could do that, what other vicious acts was he capable of? Of all the breed members he had seen since his return, Angelus had to be the most sadistic.

It was this thought that plagued him as his pain was replaced by rage and adrenaline. He drove his elbow back into Angelus' chest, sending him flying back across the apartment and into the wall. All he needed was to get the Reaver. Ignoring the stunned Angelus, Raziel stumbled over to the weapons cabinet and grabbed it. As he was raising it above his head, preparing to smash the wooden shell; he heard the noise of the elevator beginning to descend.

That was all Angelus needed. He ran to Raziel and picked him up by his throat, squeezed, and then slammed him to the ground. The sword rolled out the other vampire's hand. Raziel, motivated simply by desperation, swung his leg around, making Angelus join him on the floor. He got to his feet, and used one of them to press on Angelus' chest, while he gripped the Reaver in-between the claws of his other foot.

In the next second, he had snapped the wood, and saw the blue, pure energy form of the Soul Reaver emerge. He closed his eyes, and soon felt the Reaver bonding with his arm. It coiled itself around, feeding energy and power throughout Raziel's body. He didn't even pay attention as Angelus freed himself.

"Nice toy." Angelus said. "But since it doesn't hurt soulless monsters such as myself, to me it's just for show."

Angelus walked over to the couch, and saw Cordelia and Wesley stepping out of the elevator. From the way they were looking at him, he knew they didn't know what had happened to him. Turning back to Raziel, he shoved the couch at him, and it flew, hitting the older vampire in the chest and pinning him against the wall.

Raziel had no desire to be in that position, so he reached out his arm, and set the couch flying back directly at Angelus, and it knocked him down.

"This is not simply a weapon." Raziel said. "Its power is so much greater."

Raziel's hand began to glow bright yellow, and the next thing Angelus knew sunlight was beginning to shine on his legs. Wesley snuck up behind Raziel, holding a lamp in his hands. He hit the vampire with it just as his boss' legs caught fire. Raziel's spell stopped abruptly, and he turned around to look at his attacker.

Cordelia had rushed over with a dark blanket, and was extinguishing the flames. Angelus was wincing and growling low. His pants were cut and singed, and he could the burns and his own blood. Not even Buffy had made him as pissed off as he was right now.

"You don't know what you do." Raziel told Wesley.

"Go. Leave this place."

Raziel shook his head, and looked down at Angelus. "As you wish." He walked down the stairs that led into the sewer tunnels.

When he was gone, Wesley was at Angelus' side, still unaware of his change.

"Are you alright, Angel?" He asked.

"Hello! He just got third degree burns, Wesley!" Cordelia yelled at her colleague.

Angelus looked at them. "I'm fine. Really. Just fine."

***

Xander stormed into City Hall, walking its corridors. It was still morning so it was fairly empty. He wasn't in his custodial uniform, but the good thing about having the head position was that you could set your own hours. He had a single-minded purpose. To get to the Mayor. It hadn't sunk in yet, just how foolish it was, but when he saw Buffy hurting, it just set him off.

The Mayor had been the one who set it all up. Faith was in jail because of him. Buffy was unhappy because of him. There had been a time where he wasn't very receptive to the slayers' relationship, but he knew they were in love. And he wasn't going to see Buffy's heart sucked dry again. Or see Faith rot in jail. Just because his relationship was rocky at the moment didn't mean everyone else's should be.

When he reached the Mayor's door, he took a deep breath, and then flung it open. The Mayor was probably a demon, but that didn't register to him at the moment. He walked in, moving through the assistant's outer room. The man began to protest as Xander went into the next room, where he saw Treden reading the morning paper at his desk.

Treden looked up. "Ah, Mr. Harris. My door's always open, but try to schedule a time with my assistant next time." He looked at his assistant and nodded. The door was then shut. "Now, what can I do for you? Or may I say something? This building has been spotless. You're doing a wonderful job here."

All the anger had suddenly gone out of him. "Uh, thanks."

"You look stressed. Please. Sit."

Xander took the chair in front of the desk. "Look, the reason I came, is cause my friend is in jail."

"Which friend might that be?"

"Faith. Faith Adams."

"I see. Very noble of her to confess, wasn't it? Telling the truth about Summers' innocence?"

"It goes deep with them."

"Ah. Love." Treden smiled. "But what do you want from me?"

"To get her out." Xander requested nervously.

"Why would I do that? I'm sorry�Alexander, is it? Do you mind if I call you that? Last names are so formal."

"It's Xander."

"I'm sorry, Xander, but the law's the law. And the fact remains that she has a record that clearly describes her as a threat to society."

Xander knew Treden was just acting, playing the honorable mayor role, but he was in no position to change things. So he'd just act like a clueless citizen.

"She's not like that anymore."

"Even if I could, it's out of my hands. It's out of my town, actually."

Xander's eyes widened. "What do you mean?"

"Don't you read the paper? She's been transferred to a Women's Correctional Facility in Los Angeles. Sunnydale's not equipped to handle such a dangerous criminal."

He handed the paper over to Xander, who began to skim. Treden stood up and walked around to where Xander sat. "My advice to you, is to find less colorful friends. People like that could get you into trouble, make you stick your nose in where it doesn't belong."

Xander sat the paper down on the desk, and hoped his gulping wasn't obvious. "I'll get out of your way now. Thanks for seeing me."

Treden smiled. "Like I said, anytime. You're a good kid. Stay on the right path, and you'll go far. We'd hate to lose you around here. Oh�and keep up the good work."

***

"I'm so pleased you decided to join us, Faith. Wolfram and Hart," Kain began, sitting at his desk.

Faith was pacing around the room. She had to stop thinking about Buffy. Had to stop thinking about the hurt on her face. Buffy didn't get it. This was the only way, and Faith wouldn't be able to do anything if she wasn't able to get Buffy out of her mind. She needed to build those walls again, to hide her own sadness. Or else none of this would work.

"Cut the crap. I know what you are; you know what I am. I'm not here to play Ally McBeal, so let's just cut to the chase."

"Direct. Angry. Motivated. Just as I'd hoped."

"Well, I don't like to disappoint."

"So I've heard. I have just one question before we proceed. Can I trust you?"

Faith stopped pacing and looked Kain in the eyes. "Can I trust you?" The vampire grinned. He had expected that. "You know all about me. When I choose to do something, I go all the way. Maiming, killing�I'll get it done."

"And�Buffy Summers?"

Faith's expression didn't change. "I didn't back down from her then, and I won't now. Hell, I took a knife for the team. Wilkins screwed himself over."

"Yes, he was a bit of a disappointment."

"So we know the deal. Don't try to screw with me, and I won't go after you."

"Do you think you could if it came to that?"

"I don't back down."

"Good." Kain leaned forward. "Now, let's review your job description."

***

The punching bag flew up in the air, and swung back down. It didn't stay down for long though, because its assailant didn't give it time to rest. A right fist swung first, then a left, sending the bag for another ride. The person hitting it was feeling too many emotions at once. Anger, fear, hurt, sadness�love. Or the lack of it. Right now she was channeling all those feelings into her target. Beads of sweat cascaded down her face. Her body was tired, but she didn't let it relax.

"Buffy." Willow tried gently. She got no response. "Buffy, stop."

The redhead and the wiccan blonde had come back to Buffy and Faith's apartment with their friend after they had left Giles'. Buffy hadn't said a word since her breakdown. Had just come back, changed into her sweats, and set up the punching bag. Her punches connecting with the bag were the only things the witches could hear. They stood to the side, concerned.

"This isn't helping her, Buffy. You know that." Tara attempted.

Buffy stopped for a second, and stared at her friends. Two friends that were in love. Her face hard, she faced the bag again. She backed up, almost to the wall, her eyes never leaving it. Then she ran at it, jumping and kicking it with all her strength. The chain holding the bag to the ceiling snapped, and the bag flew against the wall, busting open. The padding was visible through the large tear.

Buffy looked at it, unclenched her fists, and turned to Tara. "And what would help her? She told me to get lost and she's in jail. What can I do, huh?" Her voice sounded hurt more than anything else. She didn't want to leave Faith, but that decision hadn't been hers to make, apparently.

"She only did it to--" Willow started.

"Get me out. Well, I didn't want out, dammit."

"So if we all died while you were enjoying yourself in a cell, it wouldn't matter?" Willow asked with disbelief.

"No, Will, that's not what I�" Buffy sighed and sat on the floor, leaning on the broken bag. "I need Faith. I never thought I would, but I do. And she just cut me off. The least she could have done was told me she was going to�you guys have to know what I mean."

"We do." Tara said, grabbing Willow's hand and going to sit by the slayer.

"This bond, I'm connected to her all the time, but I'm not. And it's really frustrating."

"How's she doing?" Willow asked.

"She's scared. But other than that she's shutting me out. Look at you guys. There's something there too. But nothing's holding you back. No duty. Just being open, and honest�I wish things were that simple for us."

Tara suddenly got nervous when Willow smiled at her. That's what they were all right. Honest. Willow looked at Tara quizzically, but didn't say anything. Instead she leaned forward, and gave Buffy a reassuring hug.

"I'm all sweaty." Buffy said.

"So?" Willow asked, not caring. "You don't want to lose her. I get it."

"God, I really, really don't. Maybe I'll see if I can visit her. Whether she wants me to or not."

"Will they let you in?" Tara asked.

"I'm very persuasive." Buffy said with a grin. Just as Buffy got that determined thought in her mind, Xander came running in, out of breath. She immediately went over to him. "Are you okay?"

He tried to calm his breathing down. "She's not here�anymore."

"Who?"

Willow stood up. "Faith?"

"She's in some correctional facility in LA. She's been transferred." Xander said.

Buffy was quiet. She was thinking, and they weren't thoughts she wanted to have.

"No she hasn't."

"It was in the paper, Buff. And the Mayor -" Xander shut up, feeling like a moron.

"Told you. Nicely backing up his cover story. But we're dealing with Wolfram and Hart, here. I don't know why I didn't realize it before."

"The deal was for her to�work for them." Tara figured out.

"I need to go to LA. Maybe Angel can help. I'm not going to lose her. Especially not to a bunch of evil lawyers."

"By yourself?" Willow asked.

"You guys have school."

"So do you."

"Not if we�uh�flood it." Tara said slowly.

The four of them grinned.

Buffy turned to Xander. "Is it okay if the three of us go, Xand?" She smiled apologetically. "She asks after he helps her out."

"It's okay." He smiled in reassurance. "There's things I have to deal with here."

"Thank you. Can you tell Giles what's up, and say that I promise to call once we get there?"

He nodded, and she hugged him. "Be careful. You know I'll be there in a jiffy if you need me. What's a jiffy, anyway?"

She chuckled. "You better be." They separated, and Buffy turned towards the wiccans. "Ready? I've learned to not ask if you're sure you want to do this. I'm not even sure what 'this' is yet."

"I'm ready." Tara confirmed.

"And raring." Willow added.

***

Raziel walked through the sewers of LA, knowing exactly where he wanted to go. Angelus was a nuisance, one that he helped to set loose, and therefore would be dealt with eventually. He knew one thing though. Angelus was going to die, because Raziel had no intention of ever giving him a demonic soul, and he doubted Angelus would accept the offer anyway. There were pros to having the vampire around, of course.

Mainly as a distraction for the slayers. But if Angelus did succeed in bringing them down, he would still be a problem for Raziel afterwards. And Angelus would certainly try to take recruits away from him. No, he was still dangerous, and had to die. That much was certain, but now it was time for Raziel to start his recruiting process. The sooner he did, the sooner he would face Kain.

And Raziel was sure that his ancient nemesis was already plotting. He had to catch up. He intended to start with the vampire nest that he sensed in the side tunnel. An immortal cadre living in filth, it was revolting, but he could no longer think about such things. Soon enough, they'd all be living above ground, not afraid of the light, and they wouldn't have to be secretive about their existence.

He knew they were down in the sewer as soon as he entered, and he intended to give them all the gift of a vampiric soul. Approaching the lair, the sleeping demons awoken, and were ready to attack him, an intruder. As they laid their eyes on him, and the mystical Reaver attached to arm, they backed down. Raziel knew they wouldn't fight with him.

"I offer you greatness."

***

Kain led Faith around the building, giving her a tour, simply to watch her reactions to things. He wasn't a fool, he knew that the slayer wasn't enthusiastic about her new job. And he knew that she and Buffy Summers were very close, in love, in fact. It pained her to be doing this, he could tell, but she didn't think she deserved anything good, certainly not her blonde partner, and that evil was the only thing that would take her.

She willingly accepted her arrest and went to jail to pay what she owed to society. Her thinking had been, that if she did the time, then she would be able to allow better things to come her way. But evil had still found there. Found her before that too. Keeping her from extending her education, punishing her for even thinking that she could live a good life. She went the extra length and confessed to God, and not even He could absolve her. The brunette was slowly resigning herself to the fact that this was her fate.

And Kain planned to exploit that mentality. He didn't know if she would kill again, kill the Summers girl, and he wasn't going to risk her not complying with his wishes. She would have no choice.

They walked into a large conference room, with several cushioned swivel chairs positioned around a polished oak table. On it, sat a stack of stapled pages, a pen, and what looked to be a miniature cassette player. Faith went to the side of the table on which those things were placed, and she pressed the 'PLAY' button on the player. As soon as she heard her voice confessing, she clenched her eyes shut, and threw the player in a rage.

Kain found much amusement in her anger. "I suppose you're asking yourself how exactly we knew you were going to that church to trap you so deviously."

"As a typical villain, I'm guessin' you're gonna tell me." Faith said.

The vampire laughed. "We have mind readers, my dear. We have been following you. As an employee of a man who was once our client, we saw your potential, waiting for the right time to bring you into our tightly-knit family."

"You sent those demons from the bar after me, the money�"

He nodded. "Driving you to the point where you have no hope for the future. But don't be upset Faith, here at Wolfram and Hart, we create new futures. Ones more suited to our interests, of course."

"Yours, you mean."

"If you wish to get technical, then yes. I have need for you in my plans, all which I will discuss with you once we take care of a minor formality."

Kain looked at the papers. Faith followed his gaze, and let out a small chuckle.

"A contract?"

"All our employees must sign them. To assure loyalty."

"Guess I don't get to look it over before I sign."

He pulled out the chair so she could sit, and smiled broadly, showing his fangs to her. Faith was never afraid of any vampire, but with Kain, it was a different story. He was sure of himself, but not to the point of arrogance. Which meant he had the power and resources to back up his words.

"Forgive me, Miss Adams, but even if you didn't agree with the terms written on these pages, it wouldn't make any difference. Very plainly, your choices are to sign or die. And you are much too young to give up your life." He handed her the pen.

There was something he wasn't telling her, she could feel it. It felt like she was selling her soul. But when you sold your soul to the Devil, weren't you supposed to have a choice whether or not to say no? Free Will? But Kain obviously didn't believe in free will. He was a vampire. Perhaps more evil than the Devil. Faith brought the pen to the dotted line, and began to make the characters that would spell her name.

Her single, solitary thought as she wrote, was of Buffy, and apologizing to her. Kain quickly snatched up the contract and stuck it inside his jacket as she finished.

"What's next?" Faith asked, trying to shake off the sadness she felt.

"My main requirement of you�well, it's not time for that yet. There are�items I plan to take back, among other things. When I do, I'll need a leader for my army."

"Until then?"

"I'm sure unforeseen circumstances will pop up that may require your expertise. But until they do�"

Two rather large Ethros demons, wearing dark, hooded cloaks, came into the office and grabbed Faith by the arms.

"Show the lady to her office."

***

Buffy, Willow and Tara entered Angel Investigations to find its namesake laid up on the office couch with his two employees tending to his scorched legs with bandages. The blonde slayer's first instinct when she saw him was to demand why he was laying down on the job, and then she saw the injuries. Even though the burns were already fading, she started to worry. There was also another nagging feeling in the back of her mind that something wasn't right.

"What happened?" Willow asked, beating Buffy to the question.

"Raziel has his sword." Wesley answered for his boss, bitterly.

"That's what I don't get." Cordelia said. "You had protection over the sword, right? How'd he break it?"

Angel, Angelus now, avoided her, and looked at Buffy with a smile. One that didn't seem appropriate for the dire situation.

"What are you doing here? Something wrong?"

Buffy sighed. "You could say that."

Cordelia looked at the slayer quizzically. "Hey, aren't you supposed to be in jail?"

"Long story short, Faith went to Wolfram and Hart because she thinks that's all she's good for. I need your help to get her out of there."

She looked at Angel while she said it, but Cordelia chipped in yet again.

"And she got you out of the big house too."

Buffy looked sad, and suddenly couldn't look at anyone. Willow went up to her friend, and glared at the girl she still knew only as the ex-May Queen.

"You can stop talking."

"Will you help us?" Tara asked Angel softly.

He stood up slowly, still with that smile on his face. Studying all three girls closely, it ran through his mind how easily he could take them. They came to him. It was wonderful, and it took all of his energy not to end his charade. But he was in a playful mood, and took his mind off Raziel. He moved close to his ex-lover.

"Of course. What can I do?" He asked, faking a sympathetic tone.

Buffy looked into his eyes, and she saw the darker edge to them. She closed hers, and leaned into him. This wasn't him, even now, after a year of non-involvement, she could feel him. The change in him. In his personality. His soul was gone. He had seemed too calm, too happy when she walked in. With the knowledge that Angelus was standing before her, the pieces fit. Raziel had taken his soul, and had broken the magickal protection, snatching his sword. He probably gave Angelus the burns in a fight, and ran off. Everything was�

She hated the disfigured vampire for it, and began to cry. "This is too much. Why is everything falling apart?"

Almost so quickly that was impossible to see, she brought her arm back and punched him in the face. Everyone was confused, and Cordelia was yelling at her, but Angel simply shook off her hit, and laughed that evil, maniacal laugh, she hoped to never hear again. He shifted into his vampiric visage, and she shivered.

Why did she always have to ruin his games? "Your life always does seem to fall apart, doesn't it? Maybe someone's trying to tell you something." He could see she was shaking. "Come on, Buff, cheer up. It can't get any worse from here." He retailed with a punch of his own, which she shook off just as easily. "Then again, maybe it can."

"Run." Buffy said to everyone.

"Yes. Run. Let's see how far you can make it."

Oh well. A new game was already starting, anyway.

***

Xander returned to his basement home after informing Giles of Buffy's plans, and had been sitting there for the past few hours watching television. Going to work didn't seem like the best idea in the world that day. For a couple of reasons. He was a little unnerved by the Mayor, knowing without a doubt that there was more to him, and he really didn't want to be in the same building with him. The second reason was his girlfriend. He was now at the point where he couldn't concentrate on anything.

He couldn't even remember the last time he had seen her. All he wanted was to talk. He still couldn't figure out what was wrong, but he did know that her distancing herself from him began at Olivia's funeral. He called her about a half an hour ago, but got no answer. She didn't have an answering machine. What could she have been doing? Where was she?

And when he wasn't worrying about Anya, he was waiting for Giles' to call him and tell him that Buffy, Willow and Tara reached Los Angeles safely. And it was getting dark. That was never good.

After a few more minutes of silence though, his steps began to creak. Somebody was coming down. He jumped off the bed, excited, in the hope that Anya was coming to see him finally. Standing at the foot of the stairs, he saw that it most certainly was. First there was jubilation, and then there was shock. She was wearing, well, clothes he never expected to see her in.

Anya stood there, decked out in City Hall's janitorial uniform. She stared at her boyfriend, and in what sounded like *too much* enthusiasm, she greeted him.

"Hi, Xander!"

"Uh�hi." He choked out.

"Guess what?"

"What?"

"We're going to be employed together! Boss." Then she narrowed her eyes in a warning glare. "But if you ever tell me what do, I'm dumping you. And don't think I won't."

Xander slowly backed up, and sat down on his bed.

"That's�wow. Honey�wow." He couldn't form a coherent thought at the moment.

"You're happy for me. You have to be happy for me. Doing a necessary human task, and wearing these clothes�I'm contributing to society." She said with what sounded like pride, but had a trace of fear as well.

"I am. I am. Really. But�I think it's time we -"

"Great!" Anya jumped onto the bed. She obviously didn't want to talk, and even though she was here, it still worried him. "I missed having sex with you. We should do it now." She saw him staring at her, and looked at the janitorial garb she was wearing. "Do men find women more attractive in outfits related to certain professions?"

"Uh�you mean uniforms, right?" This was all wrong, but he never could turn her down.

"I always thought it was the other way around." She shrugged. "I guess we should find out."

***

Wesley, Cordelia, Tara and Willow heard Buffy's very good suggestion of running, but they were still numb from the shock of seeing Angelus free, that they couldn't move. Tara didn't know whether she was going to die or not, but she felt the guilt bubble up inside her. If she did die, it would be without telling Willow the whole truth about herself and her past. What she had inside her. Demon blood. She had left that out because she didn't want to lose the best thing that had ever happened to her, but she owed it to the redhead to be completely honest.

'I might not get that chance now.'

When that thought came into her head, Tara snapped out of her trance, and her brain was finally telling her body to start working her legs. Then she started pulling on Willow's arm, trying to get her to come too. There wasn't time to be frightened. They needed to get out. That's when Buffy screamed at them.

"Didn't you hear me? Run!"

With that forceful command, it finally got through to Cordelia and Wesley. They all ran from the office as Buffy tried to keep Angelus busy as long as possible. She grabbed him by the jacket, and slammed him into the grate that covered the elevator. She let go, and he sank to a sitting position, simply laughing in amusement at the whole thing. She hated that. Hated him.

"We had the right idea."

"What's that?"

Angelus shot up, and shoved her back with so much force, that she flew to the other end of the room, hit the wall, and fell. He was standing by her in the blink of an eye.

"Leaving you." He sounded upset next. "You're just too�abusive." He brought his hand to his mouth. He picked her up, and just threw her back down again. "What happened to you, huh?"

The phone began to ring, and he looked in the direction of the noise. It didn't even occur to her that it might have been Giles, checking to see if she was there. To her it was simply a distraction, and she scrambled on her hands and knees towards the steps that led to the entrance/exit to the building. Angelus forgot about the phone, and was overtop of her in an instant.

"What are you talking about?" She asked.

"Giving up the straight life and settling for a murderous, fiendish, whore. I thought you had better standards." He shook his head. He was getting her angry. Not even he was going to get away with talking about Faith that way. "Don't get me wrong, I like seeing those qualities in a human being, I just never thought you'd sink so low."

She felt her pants pocket and smiled. Faith might not have been there with her, but something that reminded her of the brunette sure was. Buffy reached into her pocket, and removed the retractable blade. The younger slayer had given it to her as a gift, and it was about to come in handy.

She flipped to a standing position, and moved up to the second step, and in one quick motion, he sliced his cheek open. He growled, standing on the step below her.

"She's not like that."

Despite his anger, he had a grin on his face. "What? You helped her change her life around? She couldn't get her diploma, a group of drunken demons beat her up, and she gets thrown in jail, then blackmailed. Yeah, you've done a hell of a job."

"You bastard." It was truth. It was all her fault. Or at least she thought it was, and he wasn't helping.

"It just occurred to me that I'm neglecting your friends."

"I'm sure they don't mind."

She kicked him in the side of the head, and he nearly lost his balance, but managed to steady himself. He drove his elbow into her chest, and she tripped landing her head at the top of the stairs, but her lower back hit the top step, and she grimaced.

"I've been wanting to have fun with that shy one you brought with you ever since I saw her. And she and Willow seem *awfully* close. I think I'd enjoy her." He smiled, and bent down close to her, whispering. "And in my experience, the quiet ones always scream the loudest."

He rushed past her, and when she caught her bearings, he was already gone.

***

"No, Joyce." Giles said into his phone. "I haven't heard from them yet�yes, I just called. There was no answer�of course I'll call you when I get word�all right. Good bye, and don't worry. I'm sure they're fine."

He hung up quickly, so Buffy could get through if she was calling. This wasn't like her. She told Xander she was going to call, when she got to LA. She should have been there by now, he reasoned. He was going to give her fifteen more minutes.

Then he was driving there himself.

***

Wesley and Cordelia led the way as they all ran across the street to Angel's convertible. He hopped in the driver's seat, she got in the passenger side, and the two wiccas got in the back. As he went to start the car, he realized that he didn't have the keys. He patted his pockets, and checked the glove box.

Nothing. He slammed his hands on the steering wheel.

"Oh, you have got to be kidding me." Cordelia said, looking at him.

"They must be -"

From the backseat, Tara and Willow screamed. When Cordelia saw who they were looking at through the windshield, she screamed too. Angelus stood in front of the car, and dangled the keys in his hand.

"Looking for something?" He asked, as he started to walk around the driver's side. "And here I was thinking of getting a spare made for you, Wesley. Good thing I didn't, or we might not have been all together right now."

"Yes, that would have been such a shame." Wesley said. Angelus leaned over, and grabbed Wesley by his shirt. "Go on. You've won."

Cordelia was searching through the glove box frantically. Though unbeknownst to anyone, Tara had been saying a spell under her breath. The brunette found a bottle of holywater, uncorked it, and immediately threw it at him, at the same time the blonde witch finished reciting the words. Angelus let go of Wesley's shirt, and was flung by a strong force, back across the street.

"Go me!" Cordelia congratulated herself.

Tara simply smiled at Willow, and let the ex-cheerleader have her moment.

Willow saw something on the ground. "He dropped the keys!" She got out to grab them. She looked to make sure Angelus was still far away, and saw Buffy running towards the car. "Hurry Buffy!"

She threw the keys up to Wesley, and he started the engine.

***

Buffy was running as fast as she could, but was cut off when someone appeared in front of her.

"You're certainly in quite a predicament." Raziel said. "What with that horrid vampire behind you some feet away, who seems to have the singular purpose of killing you all."

"And if he wasn't, we'd be fighting right now." She swore. "So unless you want to see me dead, move out of my way."

"I considered leaving you to die, but then I realized that we have a common foe. Who I believe has coerced the one you care for into working for him."

"Yeah? What's your point?"

"I warn you not to strike her." Raziel said. But he wasn't looking at her anymore. He was looking over her shoulder.

When Buffy turned around, she saw Angelus standing directly behind her. Given her only two choices, she backed up towards the vampire that wasn't trying to kill her at that very second. Angelus growled at Raziel, but he didn't advance.

"Now, to answer your question, considering Kain is our mutual enemy, we could be allies."

"Yeah, we could, but there's one little problem."

"And that is?"

"I hate you."

"I could kill you at any time, or I could leave and let our angry friend do with you as he pleases -"

"You made him this way." Buffy interrupted.

Raziel kept going. "- Yet I'm choosing to save your life. As I saved hers once. I told the other slayer that you would both help me. She has already, now I ask you to do the same."

"What do you need me for? You and Kain are both stronger than I am. I wouldn't be much help in a fight."

"Ah, but you want to fight him. You have motivation. That's a powerful tool."

Buffy thought to herself. Die now and have accomplished nothing, or possibly accomplish something later, and then die? They weren't great choices, but at the moment, the latter sounded slightly better. She still despised him though.

"Okay."

"This isn't over." Angelus warned.

"It is for now." Raziel said, with anger. "I happen to be in good spirits, despite what you took from me, so I give you one chance to go."

Angelus stood there for a second, angry because he lost, but he decided to play it smart. He disappeared into the night.

***

Kain sat in a room filled with monitors that let him view every room in his building. He was focused on one in particular, however. He was watching a pacing Faith Adams. He had her locked in one of the basement rooms of the complex, below the actual working firm. But he wasn't a monster. Well�maybe he was, but he was being good to her. The room was well furnished with expensive carpet, a large bed, a fridge�only she was locked in by an advanced security system, and was obviously under surveillance.

He had a problem with trust, even with all the precautions he took. It was a flaw.

She would be allowed out soon. He needed to test her loyalty after all. And if she wasn't�that was taken care of. There was no need for him to worry. But the speed of her pacing was increasing, and he didn't want her any more angry than she already was. He had just gotten some news, and he figured he could have her handle it. He reached to turn on the microphone, as he zoomed in on her face.

Kain shuddered. Love was revolting. He tested the microphone by tapping on it, and when he saw Faith look around the room, he started speaking.

"That's right, Faith. I can see everything you do. I know Wilkins cared for you, but make no mistake, I am not him, and you will not get that treatment from me."

"I don't want crap from you. Gotta hand it to ya, though, you're careful."

"Thank you." Kain smiled. There was some level of respect. "I've got an assignment for you. It seems a new player has come onto the field, so to speak. I'd like you to extend him an invitation."

"Sounds easy enough. Who is he?"

Kain could see the relief on her face. Obviously, she was expecting a dirtier job. They'd come, just not now.

"He used to be our biggest nuisance, but according to what I hear, he's changed his ways."

Faith's eyes went wide. "You don't mean -?"

"Angel? Yes, I do."

To Be Continued

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