Sidhe Likes It On Top by Pounce Goddess

Email: Diepounce@hotmail.com
Disclaimer: These are not my characters. I'm just having a little non-profit fun with them. Some of them behave in non-heterosexual ways. If this bugs you, do not read on.
Rating:Probably PG-13 Again.
Genre:Buffy/Faith, really, eventually, trust me.

Sidhe likes it on Top

Faith woke up in a dark room, though it wasn't completely black. It was daylight out- she knew that much by the thin beam of light filtering in through what was obviously a basement window, caked nearly solid with dirt. She lifted her head and groaned a little at the headache waiting for her when she did, feeling the impacts from the fight before. She tried to sit up and discovered immediately that her hands were manacled with chains running over a beam in the ceiling and between two pipes. She growled softly as she tested them, finding the steel unyielding to her tugging.

She'd been kidnapped, she knew that much, but her kidnapper had been one of the nurses she'd liked from the hospital. The woman had sympathized with her desire for sugar and meat and anything but more nasty hospital food and drugs. Her name had been...what was it, Mel? Faith growled again, reminding herself that you can't trust people. Not that Mel or whatever was really people, since she'd just come in and told Faith to come along quietly, holding a baseball bat. Faith of course would not cooperate, and the woman had bounced her off three walls, denting the bedrail with her head before presumably dragging her here. It had been the middle of the night when the woman had come, and Faith felt along her stomach where the cut had opened up during the fight, bleeding all over the pitiful hospital gown. She was still wearing the flimsy thing, but she wasn't bleeding anymore at least. That was a relief. She took better stock of her surroundings- chained in an empty room, and obviously Mel was no vamp if she kept a sunlit room.

Faith paused in her examinations as she heard footsteps coming down the stairs towards the closed door. Mel came in a moment later, wearing something totally different than before- an outfit of leather, with fur on the collar and cuffs. It would have been sleek under other circumstances. Mel merely smiled as she saw Faith sitting up and tapped the baseball bat she held in her hands gently against one long-fingered palm. The woman was almost supernaturally pale, Faith noted, and those eyes were really green for a human. Mel circled around her, not saying anything right away as Faith strained to watch her while still chained up, and finally Mel leaned down slightly, extending the baseball bat to push up Faith's jaw, forcing her to look upwards.

"Good morning. I see that you Slayers are as hardy as advertised. That's good. I like my slaves to be able to take a great deal of punishment. But I haven't introduced myself properly- I am Melitherion Illuthandanil. You will address me as Mistress, when I give you permission to speak." Faith rolled her eyes and prepared a biting comeback, but Mel, or Melitheater or whatever turned quickly and smacked the baseball bat into her ribs.

"No insolence from you will be tolerated. Do I make myself clear?" Faith finished gasping from the first impact and glared up at Melitherion.

"Crystal. Good thing I'm chained up, wounded, and unarmed- that's always a challenging fight for whatever you are. I've been through worse than some wimpy Domme-wanna-be-Uuuhhh!" Faith broke off there as Melitherion struck her across the jaw with one hand. She was strong for a tall skinny bitch. As Mel leaned up, Faith looked past the colors swimming in front of her vision to see a pointed ear through Mel's long auburn hair. An Elf? Mel didn't give her time to think about this new discovery as she kicked Faith in the ribs again, knocking the Slayer back to the floor, and then again in the solar plexus, curling the Slayer into a tiny ball.

"We'll talk again later slave. You will learn your place, or spend much time with broken bones- and not in a hospital." Melitherion turned and stalked out, her bootheels making loud sounds against the concrete floor. Faith stared after her, and then shouted.

"Hey! I'm not going to insult you anymore until I get some water! I hate being hit on an empty stomach!" The door slammed and Faith strained against the chains again, feeling fresh bruises forming on her ribs as she struggled, then subsided. She sighed to herself as she stared at the ceiling, watching a little spider buildng a web in the beams above her head.

* * * * * *

Xander was the last to arrive this time as the entire group congregated around Giles's dinner table. Giles looked up from where he sat on the edge of the table as Xander entered and then stood. Buffy looked absolutely frantic though she tried very hard to hide it. Faith's disappearance had only been discovered that morning, and the police had been alerted right away by the hospital staff. One of the nurses hadn't shown up for work that day, a girl who had only started working a few days past. The police had tried her apartment, but found nothing- as though the woman had just packed up and moved. This Mel MacGregor didn't have a criminal record, but as it turned out, she didn't have much record at all- beyond the basics of her identity, it looked as though she had come to exist only to take this job. It was a good fake Id, good enough that the cops couldn't trace the original.

"Faith is still missing, as you all well know. Have we found anything on this disappearing nurse?" All four of the kids shook their heads, staring up at Giles earnestly.

"Faith isn't exactly the check-in-at-curfew girl, but she really has vanished without a trace, and we only have one weak lead on who might want her for whatever reason." Willow sounded doubtful as she spoke, and she shrugged at the end to Buffy's frown, shrinking into her chair a little "Not that she can't be useful or something, just, well, oh nevermind!" Willow gave up on that train of thought and looked at the table.

"We could always put me on a leash and dangle one of her leathery jackets in front of my nose tonight." Oz spoke tonelessly, as was his norm, and the weak joke drew only small smiles. Xander looked around the room at the books piled in random locations and spread his hands.

"It's not like we can just look up every reference to random disappearings with the card catalong gone." Giles winced at that, the card catalog having been far too large and unwieldy to move, and they hadn't had a lot of time to clear out what they did. There had still been books lost when the library went up, but there wasn't much to be done about it.

"Maybe I can do a searchy spell or something, as long as it doesn't involve any more petroleum jelly or putting large numbers of people to sleep?" Willow blinked innocently as she tried the suggestion, but since she didn't know any search spells, this seemed like a pale solution.

"That might be a possibility, and I would suggest that we two try to locate such a spell in the books. The rest of you- go look around. See if any of the local supernaturals have heard anything that they are willing to divulge. We want whatever took Faith on the loose even less than we want Faith on the loose." Giles looked over Xander, Oz, and Buffy, and then waved them towards the door. The three of them all stood and dashed out, leaving Willow and Giles to try and wade through the mess of spells and books.

* * * * * *

"You're a stubborn one aren't you?" Melitherion seemed heavily amused as she bandaged a finger bleeding from where Faith had bitten her. In her other hand she held a leather collar with small metal studs and a silver plate with the word "SLAVE" engraved in it. Faith sneered at the woman and spat out some blood at Melitherion's feet. She had a fresh bruise on her jaw to show for their earlier confrontation in the morning and was absolutely starving, though Mel had at least given her water. Mel slipped the collar through her belt and picked up the baseball bat leaning against the wall. Faith glared up at her as she tensed, waiting for the hitting to start. Mel didn't dally and immediately cracked the bat across Faith's shoulders, and then again on her back. Faith flattened on the floor, face first, and took several deep breaths as the pain exploded through her body.

"Collars aren't my style babe. I've taken worse beating from my mom when she wasn't even drunk. She didn't need to chain me up for a fair fight either. OW!" Faith bit back another cry as Melitherion cracked the bat across one of her shins, then again. Mel raised the bat once more and looked down at Faith.

"Your last chance to avoid any further pain, for now, slave." Her tone sugary sweet, she waited a moment as Faith just glared. "Alright then." Crack! The bat came down again and Faith screamed for real, feeling the bone break. She clenched her teeth and kept on glaring, refusing to give in.

"I'll let you think about that for a little while, and we'll talk again later." Mel left, shutting the door firmly and stomping up the stairs. Faith narrowed her eyes and then looked at her leg, and took several deep breaths as she reached out and set her hands against it, feeling along the break. She clenched her teeth hard enough to hurt and set the bones back into place, suppressing another scream into a lower groan, but the pain lessened. This really sucked.

* * * * * *

Oz and Xander wandered down an alleyway in the afternoon sunlight. No one knew anything. Their only lead had just dried up at nothing, the nurse was gone, vanished with less trace than Faith. They didn't talk as they kept moving, kicking pebbles along the alleyway. Oz scowled as he walked, thinking of the night ahead that would be spent chained up in the mansion again. At the end of the alleyway, a cat screeched at something and went running off. Oz and Xander both jumped and watched the fleeing kitty, then laughed as they realized it was just a normal black cat.

At that moment, a barrage of rocks started hitting them from behind. They both turned and faced the source of the attack, raising their hands to defend their faces. They faintly saw a little green-skinned form hiding behind one of the boxes in the alleyway and hurling the rocks. They prepared to charge when another little green shape ran up from behind, slicing Oz's belt which caused his very trendy loose pants to fall around his ankles. Xander glanced down as the little thing ran off, and then tried to turn and run after it. He failed because his shoelaces had been tied together, causing him to fall over Oz, leaving them both in a heap. Both little green things ran right over them, laughing in high pitched nasty voices and disappeared down the alleyway.

"Goblins?" Oz said from beneath Xander.

"Something anyway." Xander rolled off Oz and untied his shoelaces, shaking his head in consternation.

"Guess we go back to report and hope not to meet any more de-pantsing demons." Oz had pulled his jeans back up, covering the Scooby-Doo boxer shorts. He examined his belt and discovered that it was definitely beyond repair, so he resorted to the simple solution of holding his pants up with his hands in his pockets, letting his shirt cover the lack of support. Xander merely shook his head as he laboriously tied both shoes and stood up.

"Well, let's go." Oz and Xander started back towards Giles's apartment, as fast as they could go while gazing over their shoulders and jumping at every sound.

* * * * * *

Buffy met up with the two boys partway back, having come up similarly zero. She reported a feeling of having been watched the whole way, and even a few incriminating shadows around the alleyways, but no out-and-out assaults. They were discussing this new happening when a voice called to them from behind, unfamiliar and with a very Irish accent.

"You three there, might you be the Slayer and two of her friends?" They all turned to seek the source of the challenge, eyes narrowing. The speaker was a tall woman, auburn hair flowing loosely over her neck. She watched them with emerald green eyes, hands thrust in the pocket of a leather jacket. She wore Doc Martin boots and long flared jeans over that- and it was midsummer. Her skin was very pale, though not vampirically so, and she was standing in the sunlight. Buffy lifted a brow but answered her.

"I am the Slayer. Who are you?" Her tone held a definite challenge, and the strange woman met her gaze evenly.

"I'm Kalindorian Jherigundiel." As she watched the three of them trying to stumble through her name under their breaths, she half smiled. "Call me Kallie. I'm to understand that you've had recent dealings with one Mel MacGregor?" At the name, they all tensed, but Buffy nodded.

"What can you tell us about her?" They all spoke at the same time, then stopped and exchanged glances, and looked back at Kallie standing there serenely.

"I can tell ya that she's a Sidhe, like me, and that I'm here to catch her or kill her." Kallie took a step forward at that, and furrowed her brows to match their expressions of confusion.

"I would figure that she's a she, unless she had some really serious reconstructive surgery..." Xander smiled cheerfully at Kallie, not quite sure what the woman meant. Kallie frowned and then swept back the long auburn hair, exposing a delicately pointed ear.

"SHE is a S-I-D-H-E, she. High Faerie, elf you might say, unseelie and terribly dirty-minded. Her real name is Melitherion Illuthandanil I'm sent here to stop her before she wreaks too much havoc- it is considered terrible bad sport to leave the emerald isle where humans like yourselves know at least a little about fighting back." Kallie looked at them expectantly as they exchanged a few more glances.

"Okay, so SHE is an elf or something- is that unseelie like the mattresses?" Buffy inclined her head with the question, hand on her hip.

"No, damn you all for fools! Seelie are the good fairies that try not to hurt others and unseelie are the bad. I don't understand how you Americans have managed to survive without a proper occult tradition!" Kallie looked positively annoyed at that, and then glanced around the street, sniffing the air.

"She sounds like Giles." Oz said to no one in particular, still staring at the strange faerie woman standing before them all.

"Hush lad, there's goblins about!" Kallie sniffed some more, and then shouted a word that couldn't possibly be spelled phonetically and extended a hand covered in silver rings, sending a bolt of whitish magic into a pile of boxes at the back of the alleyway. A small green shape shouted "YOW!" and flew through the air to take off running, little green hands grasping it's rear. The three teenagers took off after it, but it quickly lost it when it jumped into a sewer grate.

"Damn and blast, now she knows I'm here. We'll have to get her quickly." Kallie looked expectantly at them. "Do you happen to have any cold iron?"

* * * * * *

Faith heard the footsteps coming down the stairwell again, and she narrowed her eyes angrily. Her leg still ached, and she knew it would keep doing so for several days to come, Slayer or not. Melitherion pushed open the door, holding a small bronze brazier glowing with heat. In it rested a single short poker, and Faith hid her apprehension at this newest development. She didn't like being burned, didn't like things that left longer scars, even on Slayers, and she merely stared at Mel flatly.

Mel just lifted her brows at Faith and grinned, then slapped a hand down on the girl's shin before she could react. Faith doubled over in pain, but Mel grabbed her jaw in an iron grip and lifted Faith's head up to face her. In the same motion she reached over and grabbed the poker- it was a small brand, Faith saw in the brief seconds before the hot glowing end came to touch firmly on her cheek, sending a nasty smell of her own burning flesh into the air. Faith just held her place, glaring at Mel while the smoke cleared. Mel barely even looked at her as she pulled a few packets out of her pockets.

"I've just gotten word that a rival is in town, so I'll have to break my usual rule and use some magic to break your little spirit, slave. This won't hurt..much, and it will be over fairly quickly." Mel didn't release Faith's jaw as she began a long and sonorous chant in a language Faith didn't recognize. Faith struggled, pulling on the woman's hand as she tried to release herself, but she quickly felt a strange lassitude coming over her, and her will to fight back just seemed to fade into unimportance suddenly. Melitherion finished the chant and dropped several powders over Faith, causing her to fall into a sneezing fit for several minutes. When she regained something like composure, Mel was standing over her watchfully.

"I hope you're prepared to obey more readily now slave." Faith blinked a few times as two responses warred within her, her will fighting with whatever spell had been cast.

"Y-y-yes....Mistress.." It came out like a curse, Faith still struggling to keep herself against this new form of attack.

"Much better. We'll be leaving shortly, to finish your training in a quieter venue. Those fools at the Court will never suspect this." Melitherion walked back out, leaving Faith nearly in tears from the internal conflict, completely unable to resist the compulsions that gripped her to obey this elf bitch.

* * * * * *

Giles and Willow had quickly been enlisted to the new cause- setting traps for the goblins. Kallie said they had irresistible cravings for custards, which had set off a brief cooking craze in Joyce Summers's kitchen until Joyce had thrown them all out for a few hours, coming back with six nicely baked custards. Oz was chained up in the mansion as dusk was nearly upon them. Willow had showered him in kisses as she fastened on the manacles, and then smacked Xander for his comments about kinkiness. Xander had been elected for first watch over Oz, since he wasn't the most adept at being patient or subtle.

Kallie had paced with eloquent impatience the entire time Joyce was in the kitchen. The other three had grilled her for information about their fey opponent, but received surprisingly little.

"And ya wouldn't be expecting me ta give away all me secrets would you?" Kallie had said, lifting her brows in feigned indignance.

"That or your lucky charms." Buffy blinked innocently up at the Sidhe pacing around the room, and Kallie had burst into laughter. Mostly they knew that the fey were vulnerable to cold iron, a dagger of which they had managed to aquire and which Buffy now held lovingly in one hand.

"Alright, here you go, though I don't know how custards could be useful for this slaying business." Joyce emerged from the kitchen with her good dessert dishes on a tray. "If any of these are broken, I will cause the perpetrator harm." Joyce made her threat with matronly affection and set the tray down.

"Looks magically delicious to me." Buffy stood up as Giles lifted the tray gently, inhaling the scent happily.

"Mrs. Summers, I will have to get this recipe from you. I didn't know anyone could make decent custards outside of England." Joyce just smiled a little uncomfortably and vanished back intot he kitchen.

Well, let's be off then." Kallie stalked towards the door, and the others followed quickly.

* * * * * *

Less than twenty minutes later, they were set up in an alleyway, watching from a narrow doorway to an abandoned house. Willow held a little string that connected to a stick which propped up a large box. One of the custards rested under the shadow of the trap, steaming away in the semi-darkness of the alley. They all waited patiently, periodically letting out the breaths that they'd been holding as they waited for the goblins to appear.

Finally their patience was rewarded, one green-skinned shape shuffling into the alleyway making loud sniffing sounds. It was a hideous little thing, a large nose and knobby hands tipped with small claws, and large staring wide yellow eyes. It followed the scent of the custard until it spotted the box, looking the stick and box up and down. Then it laughed, and raced preternaturally quickly under the trap and grabbed the custard. Willow pulled the string and caused the box to fall, but the Goblin had raced out from underneath it, slurping down the custard as it headed out of the alley. The gang burst from their hiding places and chased after the little thing as it ran down the alleyway. It tossed the dessert dish over it's shoulder and Buffy and Giles collided in their haste to catch it, landing in a heap with the dish resting on Giles's stomach, dribbling a little leftover onto his shirt. He lifted it gently as Kallie and Willow leapt over them in hot pursuit.

Less than a hundred yards away, the goblin wavered as it ran and then fell flat on it's face. Kallie and Willow caught up to it and Kallie swiftly lifted it into the air.

"I guess drugging the custard was a good idea." She spoke to Willow as she shook the goblin hard, ignoring it's burbling cries and rattling teeth. "Now where is your mistress?" She shouted this into the Goblin's face, causing it to babble incoherently at her in another tongue. "I mean it, tell me now or I will spit you and roast you and feed you to the Boggans!" The goblin babbled some more and Kallie finally nodded. "That's better." Buffy and Giles caught up with the other two at this point, just in time to see Kallie speak an arcane phrase and zap the Goblin with more white magic. The Goblin's eyes went even wider and it made a strangely muppetish scream and then popped, leaving behind only a smell of brimstone some greenish ashes. Buffy, Willow, and Giles all blinked and looked at Kallie who was meticulously dusting off her hands.

"What? It wasn't like it was alive. Those things are created out of slime and snails and puppy dog tails- as opposed to little boys, as some people believe for whatever reason." Kallie headed off down the street, gesturing them onwards. "Hurry up now! We've not much time- Melitherion is preparing her escape as we speak." The others didn't need to be told twice, and dashed after the tall elf woman.

* * * * * *

Faith's head swam, and she hurt all over. She couldn't quite get her thoughts to focus, and merely lay on her side on the concrete floor. She heard noises upstairs, shouting and violence, but couldn't quite make it out, or figure out why she should be concerned. She closed her eyes and tried to go to sleep.

* * * * * *

Melitherion had been taken by surprise when they all burst in. She had fled through the abandoned house, tossing boxes and broken furniture into their paths. Kallie had shown her supernatural agility at this point, leaping over obstacles with amazing speed while the others pursued. Mel had headed straight for a set of basement stairs, stomping down them quickly as she fumbled with a set of keys, trying to unlock the half-rotted door. The others stomped down after, just behind Kallie who roared down the stairs at Mel, tackling her full bodied as she shouted something incoherent at the other elf.

* * * * * *

Faith perked up a little as she heard footsteps on the stairs. That meant the Mistress was coming. The Mistress would set everything right. Or she would do something. Faith frowned as she remembered being hit, and hard, by the Mistress. She must have done something wrong to get hit, but her leg still throbbed and kept her from sleeping. She looked up and nearly screamed as the door burst open, spilling the Mistress and another woman who looked terribly like her onto the basement floor. The other woman ended up on top and punched the Mistress in the face, three times quickly. Faith struggled at her chains, but she couldn't exactly walk at the moment and instead she just shouted something angry at them both, not even certain what she was saying. Then Buffy, Giles, and Willow stomped down the stairs after the first two and Faith felt her heart leap at the sight of them. Buffy leapt into the fray of the two elf women just as Melitherion struggled out from under Kallie and rolled away, holding up a hand and blowing a small cloud of dark powder from a box she'd pulled out of a pocket. Buffy jumped at her and knifed her with the cold iron blade in the same instant as Kallie fell back from the powder, screaming and clutching at her face. Mel went stiff as the hard black knife punched through her leather clothing, then screamed horribly as her flesh caught fire at the source of the wound, spreading swiftly over her form. Buffy backed away from her twitching corpse as Willow and Giles crouched over Kallie who had grown still on the concrete floor, though she was still breathing.

Buffy took several deep breaths and then dropped the knife on the floor and dashed over to Faith who just stared at her wide-eyed, then tried to attack, using one leg to stand as she charged headfirst. Buffy caught her and grabbed her wrists, staring at her in shock, eyes fixated mostly on the fresh burn in Faith's cheek. Faith continued to struggle until finally her weight came to rest on her broken leg, and she fell back to the floor with a gasp, her head striking the concrete loudly. Buffy blinked and fell next to her, checking Faith's breathing and pulse as she gently lifted the other girl's head and probed at the spot, which didn't seem to have refractured. She cradled Faith's body in her arms as the others stared helplessly at Kallie, still struggling on the floor.

Kallie slowly withdrew her hands from her face as she looked up at the other two, eyes reddened and puffy with many livid red marks all across her face. Melitherion had burned away to nothing on the floor, just a vaguely human shaped black mark where she had been. Kallie sat up and smiled when she saw the remains and extended her hands, showing them the dark red marks there as well.

"She iron-burned me. The bitch probably hoped I'd swallow some of that powder and choke to death. One less unseelie transgressor to hunt down and kill." Her voice was a little thick as she spoke, and she started to stand, unsteadily.

"What'd she do to Faith?" Willow asked tremulously, looking down at the harsh black mark on the girl's face, now serene in unconciousness.

"She cast a glamour on her, probably trying to break her will or make her forget her mortal past. Something like that anyway. Melitherion was big on slaves, but after she fell out of favor with the Unseelie court, she had to leave in disgrace. Looks like she wanted your Slayer friend to try and fight her way back in. I had always thought there was only one Slayer at a time." Kallie crouched and gently touched the burn on Faith's face, an expression of pain crossing her features as she withdrew the hand.

"There was, until Buffy died for a few minutes and then came back. A new Slayer was called during that time." Giles spoke up as he too examined the mark. "How can we break this glamour?"

"Cold iron again, but you have to basically cut the mark out of her skin. It will hurt, but the wound should heal without a scar, even without her being a Slayer." Kallie stood and headed for the stairs, making a wide berth around the cold black dagger.

"Wait!" Buffy looked up at Kallie as she started to leave. "Is that all? I mean, thanks for helping us and stuff, but it just seems like that is an easy way to break a spell..well, sorta..." Kallie half smiled, the dark red scars on her face contrasting heavily with her alabaster skin.

"Cold Iron is to us and our magic like sunlight is to vampires- but you have to be sure and get it all. Fey magic is persistant."

"Will you be alright?" Willow asked, furrowing her brows at the scarring on Kallie's beautiful face.

"Eventually. Iron burns take a while to heal, but I'll be fine. If you ever visit the Emerald Isle, look me up. I can always be reached here." She tossed a small card onto the floor, the name and address of a pub printed on it in green ink. "Onto the next vagabond faery. I wish I had a Watcher or something to help clean up my messes." She walked out the door, and on up the stairs, the sound of her footsteps vanishing into the early part of the evening.

The three of them stared after where she'd been and then Buffy gently set Faith on the floor and picked up the knife again, bringing it over to Faith, who remained out cold. She licked her lips and took a steadying breath, then pressed the edge gently against Faith's cheek, drawing a droplet of blood. She continued, and cut carefully around the mark, sliding the blade expertly under the skin until she had sliced off all the burned flesh, blood now pouring out over her hand from the substantially sized hole in Faith's cheek. Buffy tossed the knife and bit of skin aside and covered her mouth with her forearm, fighting the urge to vomit. Giles stepped in at this point and pressed his handkerchief to the wound, stopping the flow of blood. Willow blinked a few times at the sight of Faith's blood trailing down to the floor, and then she reached over into Melitherion's ashes for the keys that had fallen to the floor during her demise. They were still slightly warm from the flames, but not intolerable. She fumbled them with the locks on the manacles, until finally one fit and she clicked them both free, letting Faith's arms fall to the floor. Buffy recovered some of her composure as she watched Giles, and she waited silently as the bloodflow slowly eased, eventually letting Giles move his hand away to show a swiftly forming scab.

"I guess we better take her out of here." Buffy leaned forward and looked Faith over, noticing the broken leg right away, and smaller bruises elsewhere, as well as the older bloodstain on the front of the now very dirty hospital gown. "She's hurt really bad again isn't she?" Giles nodded slightly as her surveyed the injuries with Buffy and stood slowly.

"We'll have to carry her out regardless- I somehow don't wish to return her to the hospital if we can aovid it, though that leg needs attention." He looked around the completely empty room for any material for making a splint and then frowned and started for the stairs. "I'll be back shortly- I must go pick up some medical supplies from my home. I doubt very much that Melitherion kept a well-stocked first-aid kit around." He moved out, and Buffy and Willow heard his footsteps travel up the wooden stairs.

"Wow." Willow sat across from Buffy as the Slayer gently held Faith's head on her lap, looking down at the unconcious Slayer. "Kallie was like, the bad-fairy Slayer or something." Buffy looked up and smiled a little, eyes flicking towards the stairs as her hands gently smoothed Faith's hair back from her face, smearing some of the still-drying blood on the girl's cheek.

"I guess someone has to clean out the bad seeds in all species of supernatural critters." Buffy's hands continued stroking Faith's hair subconciously, even though it was dirty and tangled after the hospital and kidnapping. She noticed what she was doing at the same time as Willow did, and she stopped, choosing instead to just cradle Faith's injured skull in one position. "Do you, uh, have any magicky Wicca tricks for healing?" The little redhead just raised an eyebrow slightly and then looked thoughtful.

"I do, but I'd have to go check the book on it...I wonder if Giles is still in range to take me back to his place." Willow jumped up as she listened for the sound of Giles's ancient car, but she didn't hear it right away. Buffy looked up as Willow moved and she gestured for the redhead to hurry.

"I bet you could still catch him if you rushed- if not, it'll be alright, but I want to get Faith up and out of here fast as possible." Willow just nodded sorta and dashed up the stairs at top speed, and Buffy heard her steps vanish up through the house. Buffy sighed slightly, wonderinfg if she'd offended Willow by trying to get rid of her, sorta. She knew the redhead was uncomfortable around Faith, and for good reason she supposed. She was uncomfortable around Faith, but it wasn't for the same reasons, or so she suspected. She looked down at Faith's closed eyes and watched as her chest rose slowly with breathing, which was at least steady. She checked Faith's pulse and felt it beating strongly against her hand.

"Is she gone?" Buffy nearly screamed as Faith opened her eyes and spoke.

"Oh my God you scared me Faith!" Buffy placed one hand over a rapidly beating heart as she looked down at the other girl still lying placidly in her lap. Faith just smiled a little tightly, breaking the expression when it started to crease the scab on her cheek.

"Ow. I know she's all uncomfy when I'm involved, so I preferred to stay out cold until she was no longer around, which might have been a little while. Her and Giles both. I guess that since you're here, ugly elf bitch must be very dead." She raised a hand to her cheek and gently probed the cut-up cheek, wincing slightly until Buffy seized her hand and pulled it away.

"We had to break the spell that she had put on you. Don't break it back open or it will scar." Buffy didn't release Faith's hand as she spoke, other arm still holding Faith's head in her lap.

"Hey, no arguments there I guess. I always did dream of waking up in the lap of a beautiful woman or something, but I was sort of hoping to be able to immediately leap back to my feet, which is sort of not possible now." Faith didn't try and move her body, and Buffy knew that the leg had to be agonizing, but there was little she could do besides leave it flat upon the floor.

"How did Melitherion get you?" Conversation might help take the other Slayer's mind off some of the pain.

"She just stepped in wearing that funky leather crap and went after me with a baseball bat. That seemed to be her weapon of choice the whole time. She knocked me out and I woke up here, chained up." Faith didn't wince at the memory, though the bruises still ached everywhere on her body. The thing that had hurt most was the spell, easily, and that memory still filled Faith with rage that set her free hand to trembling. Buffy looked down at her and hugged her a little.

"Hey, Faith, it'll be alright. She's dead, and Giles and Willow are off getting things to treat you with." Faith subsided a little as she mastered her emotions. That elf-bitch deserved worse than she'd gotten, but at least she was gone. Faith kept that anger out of her voice as much as she could.

"Wonderful. No more hospitals right? I didn't like them before, and I definitely don't like them now." Faith looked up at Buffy and spoke firmly, determined to tough this one out before she risked another session like this one.

"No hospitals, though I think the likelyhood of another supernatural kidnapper coming after you is pretty slim. We just think it'll mean too many questions to answer and stuff like that, as well as the issue of money, which none of us have much of." Buffy hated herself for saying that, for not being able to afford medical care for Faith, even after everything else that had gone by.

"No prob B, like I said, I don't wanna go." Faith let herself settle back a little against Buffy, glad of the other Slayer's warmth instead of the cold concrete. The two of them just watched each other in silence for several minutes they waited for Giles and Willow to make it back, Faith trying very hard to not move her leg even though it was starting to get stiff. Finally Buffy broke the silence with a question, throwing caution to the wind out of desire to ask.

"Faith.. don't get mad at me. Why?" She phrased it as simply as she could, looking at the younger Slayer in her lap below, battered both by her own hand and by supernatural menace.

"Why what?" Faith just opened her eyes wide and looked back, playing off the question as long as she could. She didn't want to get into this argument with Buffy now, not really ever, though she knew it wouldn't stop haunting her easily.

"Why everything? Why so much rage, why do you run away from people who want to help you, and why did you do...well, all that stuff?" She'd asked before, though not really as flat-out as now. Faith was a hard target to pin down for personal answers, and she guessed that Faith wouldn't answer straight now. She was right.

"Oh, you know, the usual reasons. Unhappy childhood, desire for acceptance, but generally I just think it isn't your business. I don't particularly feel at my best, and definitely not up to taking one of your 'I'm the good little Slayer!' lectures." Faith's eyes flashed angrily as she spoke, but she didn't try to move, knowing the foolishness of any such attempt. As much as it galled her, she was trapped in a room with the one person she wanted least to be confronted by and the most to be with. How did she always end up this way? Faith shied away from the sort of personal revelation that would remind her that it was her own fault.

"Faith, I'm not trying to say I'm better than you, or to put you down at all, but it is my business since you tried to kill me and all my friends and worked with my worst enemy. That's going to sound harsh any way its phrased, but you're a big girl and can take it." Buffy scowled down at the other Slayer now, fighting her own guilt at having been the one who indirectly landed Faith in this current situation. She had tried to kill the other Slayer, after all, and very nearly succeeded.

"I can take it alright, but I don't have to. I don't have to justify myself to you, and since I've been alone this long, I can keep it up- after I get healed I'll just take off and remove myself from annoying you any further." Faith tried to sit up, but found herself restrained by Buffy's supernaturally strong arms. "Let go of me dammit!"

"Where you gonna go O mighty second Slayer? Straight back to another concussion? You can't even walk. Look, we'll talk about this later, but we will talk about it." Buffy then lapsed back into silence and Faith fell back into Buffy's lap again, still steaming mad, though she didn't say anything else, and looked away at the wall as she lay still, annoyed even more that Buffy was right.

Several more minutes passed in this uncompanionable silence until they heard footsteps on the floorboards above. It sounded like two sets, and sure enough, Giles and Willow came tromping over the broken remains of the basement door. Giles brought a bagful medical supplies and Willow was carrying what looked like her own weight in large leather-bound books. They both looked a little surprised to see Faith awake so quickly, but Giles merely set his bag on the floor and carefully examined Faith's leg, gently probing along the bruised edges of the break.

"OW! Dammit, be a little more gentle! I already set it, so you can spare yourself that pain at my expense." Faith tried to sit up again, and again Buffy restrained her gently, drawing a venomous glance from Faith for her efforts. Giles didn't say anything, but drew out a modern Gel-filled splint and set it against her leg, carefully sizing it until it fit. He then wrapped the heavy Velcro straps around her leg, lifting it gently and ignoring her pained hiss, and set it back down again.

"That will take some time to heal, as I am sure you are aware. Fortunately it is a clean break and it appears to have set well, which means that we don't have to get surgery for it, but you may need a cast." Giles then moved upwards and started to lift the bottom of the hospital gown.

"Stop right there British-guy! My leg will be fine, and so will the cut, without your examinations of my more private spaces." Giles looked positively offended, but he did withdraw his hand and settle back on his heels.

"The cut might be infected, and I would prefer to attend to it. Have no worries for any innocence you may yet possess." Giles set a wad of guaze on the floor along with a large container of iodine and a box of moist towellettes. Willow had set her books down and was avidly flipping through pages, suppressing a smile at the most recent interchange.

"I think I'll just take that risk on my own if you don't mind. Thanks for the leg splint, but I would be overall happiest if we could get out of here." Giles frowned a bit at that, but gave Buffy a 'what can you do?' look and a small shrug.

"I think I found a good spell..but we'd have to go back to your place for it Giles." Willow perked up at the thought of getting to Wicca something, and Giles just shrugged again and stood, looking at Faith's prone form.

"I suppose that means we should try to move you out of here. Do you think you can carry her Buffy?" Buffy nodded, readily certain she could carry Faith, but not so certain that Faith would aquiesce to being carried. Faith looked doubtful at the idea, and gestured at the stairs.

"I doubt I'll fit through there easily, and won't be much good for going up them." Faith hated this helplessness, but she couldn't exactly deny that her leg ached like a motherfucker and wouldn't get any better from her trying to tough it out.

"We'll see about that. Cooperate with me." Buffy gently tilted Faith into a sitting position and then kneeled over her middle in front of the other Slayer and wrapped her arms around Faith's middle, lifting the other girl upwards until she held her at shoulder level. Faith supported herself on her one good leg, the other simply resting on the floor. Buffy then carefully turned around and ducked down a little bit, thrusting her hips backwards. Faith took the hint and half-leaped onto Buffy's back. Buffy stumbled a couple steps and then got a good hold around Faith's knees, holding her piggyback style. Faith wrapped her own arms tightly across Buffy's shoulders and peered past her hair at the others.

"Looks like we're set to go I guess." Faith held onto Buffy tightly, trying to avoid dropping too much of her weight onto her injured leg which was swinging somewhat freely in the air. Buffy nodded and hefted her weight around one more time before she started for the stairs, clomping up them steadily and slowly, keeping herself and Faith carefully centered. Giles and Willow packed up their things quickly and followed after the others, Willow chattering with Giles about some spell she'd been looking at.

The four of them made it out to the car in good order, and after some considerable struggle and some pained yelping from Faith, they got her inside it. There was some considerable debate over where to take her, but finally they settled on Giles's apartment, as Joyce would quickly have become hysterical and motherly over Faith's broken leg. They would give Joyce the excuse of Faith still being in the hospital for a while, and see how quickly Willow's magic and Faith's Slayer power could heal her.

* * * * * * *

Faith was eventually settled into Giles's guest room, propped up on a large pile of pillows with multiple blankets. Willow brought in one of her big heavy books and set it down on the bedside table as Giles polished his glasses. Buffy popped in to say she was going after some of Faith's stuff, and then disappeared. Willow flipped swiftly to the appropriate page and then pulled a series of occult-looking ingredients from her backpack. Giles lifted his brows slightly at the sight of the chicken's feet and Willow just shrugged with that little half smile of hers. Faith watched her warily, but didn't make any movements beyond adjusting herself to a comfortable half-sitting position.

"Alright, this spell isn't very difficult, but I do need absolute quiet from the both of you, I mean, I wouldn't want to turn Faith into a rat or anything, though I don't think that's possible with this spell, but still..." she trailed, off aware that she was babbling, and merely started grinding some herbs with a mortar and pestle.

"If you don't mind, I'll be in the front room, looking up some other information about the Sidhe. If you need any he.. assistance, just yell." Giles tried to cover up his mistrust of Faith, but it was still very plain. Faith couldn't say that she blamed him much, and she wondered at the willingness of any of these people to help her- save her life, heal her, support her. It was just mind-boggling to her, and she wondered if they had some sinister plot of their own in mind, though she had trouble of envisioning these people jaywalking, let along doing anything really evil.

"I'll be fine. Remember Faith, quiet." Willow continued her mixing, a thin green trail of smoke starting to wisp away from whatever she was comibining in the little bowl. Faith wrinkled her nose a little but shrugged, saying nothing as Willow worked. Faith had sometimes thought Willow rather pathetic, with her computer freakiness, little magic spells and study compulsions, but she had been impressed that night in the Mayor's office. Impressed and offended, of course, that anyone would question her power, but thinking of that night just brought back sore memories, and she preferred to think other brooding thoughts for the moment.

Willow began softly chanting something as she sprinkled a pale green powder over Faith's leg. The powder turned into a sort of shimmering greenish mist and drifted over her leg, slowly filtering itself into the aching flesh. Faith felt the pain lessen immediately as the mist did it's work, and Willow continued the chanting and sprinkling for several minutes. Her brow was furrowed with a look of intense concentration, and Faith just watched her, not saying anything until the spell was apparently completed, Willow taking several long breaths as she looked down at Faith.

"Pretty neat girlie. That does feel considerably better. I still don't think I'll be sprinting anytime soon, but now I can sleep again." Faith straightened up slightly as she looked over the injury, which was still horribly purpled and bruised on the surface, but not so completely puffed up now. Faith didn't dare touch it yet, but the throbbing had decreased considerably, and she looked back at Willow to see a well-hidden expression of pride in the girl's eyes as she too looked at her handiwork. "I only have one question. Why?"

"Because...Because.. Buffy wanted me to. I mean, we may not be friends, hell, we might be rivals and enemies, but you were hurt really badly by that Sidhe-thing and it just didn't seem right not to..." Willow faced Faith nervously, surprised that the other girl's eyes were not full of recrimination for anything this time. She bit her lip a little and half shrugged as she gathered up her supplies and book and started packing them away again. Faith blinked a few times and didn't say anything else, unsure what to make of Willow's answer at all.

"Buffy really liked you, and probably still does- I admit I was jealous of the way she spent time with you, but that doesn't make you a bad person." Willow spoke tremulously into the air between them, trying to restrain her jabbering impulse, knowing that admitting anything to Faith was a bad idea.

"Except all those other people I hurt, including you, I know, you don't have to tell me again." Faith's expression had returned to normal as she regarded the other girl. "But thanks." She settled back onto the pillows, considering the conversation finished as she waited for the redhead to leave. This inability to move was already making her incredibly nervous, even and especially with this crew around. She wondered idly when Buffy would return and they'd have their next snipefest. She also wondered about food, as her stomach growled loudly.

Willow heard Faith's hungry noises and furrowed her brows. She decided to mention the subject of food to Giles after she left, not wanting to spend any more time with Faith for the present. She just nodded and mumbled some sort of vague goodbye sounding thing and skittered out the door, shutting it quietly behind her and leaving Faith in silence. Complete, utter silence. No music, no traffic, no sounds of criminal acts occuring next to her room, just the faint noise of an air-conditioner. Faith considered screaming to break it up a little, but that seemed counterproductive since it would only be quieter after. Instead she laboriously studied every crack in the wall, the few fixtures in the room, and the small bookcase resting against the far wall. There was little in here to catch her attention, and she rapidly started to hate it.

Why did they have to come after her again? She really hadn't wanted to die at the hand of that demon, tackled and eaten by small shadowy shapes that just felt icky, nor did she need the comatose dreams that had plagued her before, of her home, of her mother, all the things that had made her who she was. Same deal with the elf-bitch. She was torn with the desire to split as rapidly as possible, running like she always had, but another part of her wanted what Buffy had, wanted what Willow had told her she'd lost, that night in the Mayor's office. It was all terribly confusing to the brunette, and she liked things that were easily solved, good guys, bad guys, bad guys go poof into dust. But Buffy wasn't a bad guy, nor would she go poof. In fact, Buffy seemed more like human Velcro, clinging tightly when applied. She couldn't ditch the girl, or her own thoughts of her. All the time it seemed, Buffy this, Buffy that, even in her own mind. The shorter blonde Slayer had captured her attention the first they met. It was all terribly frustrating. Especially the leg thing, which kept her from being able to split even if she'd been able to decide that that was what she really wanted to do.

Oh face it Faith...you started falling for her the first time you saw her.

That was the insistent little voice in the back of her mind that some other people would have called a conscience. Faith called it a nuisance, and she tried to shut it out by putting one of the pillows over her face. Faith had been attracted to women before, but she'd always shut it out. One more thing to make her different, undesirable. The smothering darkness of the pillow was nice for a minute, but then it was time to face the world again, specifically when Buffy opened the door a few minutes later. She hated the girl sometimes, but couldn't make herself keep doing it, like she could with Angel, and with other people.

"Hi." Buffy favored Faith with a small, tight smile as she set down two large duffel bags taken from Faith's apartment. Faith hugged the pillow in front of her middle as she looked over at Buffy's entry. She saw a brief flash of the night they'd danced together in the bronze, until Buffy had run off to Angel again. Faith suppressed a sigh and forced herself to the issue at hand, feeling that familiar resentment at the superiority Buffy seemed to exude. Part of was aware that it wasn't Buffy's fault that her leg was broken, and indeed, that she would be much worse off if Buffy and crew hadn't helped her, but she still resented needing help in the first place.

"Hi." All Faith's thoughts passed in an instant as she looked Buffy over. The other girl looked tired, like she hadn't slept much. Faith was tired too, but also a mess. After the hospital and Melitherion's ministrations, she was bloody and dirty and wanted a shower something fierce. Buffy had noticed this as well, and she immediately unzipped Faith's bags and lifted out a folded towel and a small bath bag that looked to contain Faith's shower items. Faith raised her brows slightly as Buffy set these things on the bedside table, and then rustled into the bags again and pulled out a pair of her boxers and a baggy black T-shirt.

"I think it's bath time, if you have no objections. Giles has graciously given permission for you to use his bathroom for the duration of your stay at Hotel Rupert." Buffy looked up at Faith, knowing that this was going to be an ordeal and a half.

"Yeah, I suppose so. I guess that means I have to lean on you or else hop ungraciously down the hall." Faith shifted herself carefully around, lifting her splinted leg with her hands as she gently lowered the foot to the floor. She sat up fully, feeling every bruise and ache in her young body. She suppressed a groan with clenched teeth. Buffy furrowed her brows in some concern but didn't say anything as she slid herself next to Faith and wrapped an arm under the taller girl's shoulders. Faith cooperated, and they stood in unison, Faith carefully holding her injured leg above the floor as they made a painstaking path towards the bathroom, down the hall.

Once in the bathroom, Faith looked at the ordinary bathtub with stark suspicion, wondering how she would get into and out of it without hurting herself further. Buffy had turned to leave when Faith called her back, gritting her teeth against this as well, but needing Buffy's help once again.

"Hey B- I don't think I can handle this part on my own either." The admission was painful, but so was the leg, even after Willow's spell. She knew that she shouldn't get a lot of hot water on it, but she needed to wash it at least. The first obstacle of course was to get into the tub. Buffy turned, and looked momentarily guilty as she noticed the difficulty. She stepped back over towards Faith then bit her lip, looking between the girl and the shining white porcelain.

"I guess this could be a problem indeed. Firstly you need to be naked for the shower part of course, but after that...I guess if you'll let me help you for balance, you could leave your leg over the side sorta and shower that way." Buffy offered another tight smile at that, and made a nervous little gesture with her hands.

"Well, for the naked part-" Faith pulled the strings of the dirty hospital garment carefully, holding herself balanced on just one foot until she'd gotten all but two of the ties. The others eluded her attempts and she growled something as she tried to reach them. Buffy took the initiative there and carefully undid the last two, letting the soiled garment fall to the floor. Buffy couldn't help but admiring the lines of Faith's back, even marred by one long scar along one of her shoulder blades and various fading bruises from Melitherion. She unconciously reached out a hand and ran a gentle finger along the ridged tissue, causing Faith to immediately stiffen.

"I'm sorry.. I was just curious about the scar." Buffy looked innocently up at Faith as the taller brunette turned halfway around, her usual frown in place. Faith just shrugged a little as she hopped a step closer to the shower.

"Knife fight." Faith leaned down and turned on the water, sending a sudden torrent from the showerhead. She tested the water with her hand, heavily concious of Buffy's steadying hand on her hip. Fairly quickly, the water ran warm under her hand. Sunnydale homes didn't really have to expend much enery to heat their water, especially in summer. Faith looked back up at Buffy, ready to step in. Buffy looked at Faith, and then at the bathtub for a moment, and then carefully turned around and lifted off her own shirt, dropping it to the floor. She then started on her other clothing, leaving a pile of it next to the white gown and the boxers and T-shirt set out for later.

"What're you doing?" Faith could hardly believe her eyes, and wondered if this was another of her really late night fantasies that she tried not to think about at other times. Buffy just stepped into the shower, slightly behind where Faith would need to be, and held out her hands.

"Helping you- I'm going to get wet any way I do this, so I might as well get clean as well." Buffy could hardly believe what she was doing either, but it seemed like the natural way to go. She wasn't clear herself on the Faith issue, but showering with her, even under the pretense of injured-assistance seemed like a pleasant way to pass the time. The knife fight comment had other memories shifting through her mind as well, of trying her damndedst to kill Faith, and the guilt she still felt from that. She quickly cleared all speculation to the back of her mind as Faith leaned in against her, and together they moved Faith over the edge of the bathtub, leaving Faith's leg dangling out, still splinted. Faith still had a large bloodstain across her stomach from the stab wound, which was also still there, though mostly healed at this point. Buffy cringed a little when she saw it, but Faith didn't say anything, just groaned when the water hit her. Buffy held Faith's waist as the taller girl began to shampoo her hair, feeling the hot water like fire across her bruises, but she didn't let that show. It felt really good to be cleaning herself again, and especially really good to feel Buffy so close behind her, and also naked. She knew nothing would happen, and knew how Buffy would react if she found out, but that didn't prevent a little idle fantasy from occurring.

Buffy continued to hold Faith steady as the other girl washed, spending a long time all over her body as she tried to clean the feeling of ground in filth away from her skin. Eventually Buffy took the body pouf from her and gently cleaned her back, sending shivers down her spine. Faith just stood stiffly through it, afraid to even move as Buffy worked.

Why does she hate it when I touch her?

Buffy suppressed a small flash of hurt at Faith's woodenness and finished up quickly, handing the pouf back to Faith. Faith didn't change expression as she accepted it back, but she looked back at the other Slayer/

"I guess I'm done." There was steam filling most of the bathroom by now, and Buffy nodded as Faith moved to let Buffy up into the stream of hot water. Buffy slid forward carefully, feeling how close she was to the other girl as they slid past each other, Buffy's hands guiding Faith against any possibility of the other girl falling. They came face to face briefly, Buffy meeting Faith's eyes, and they stayed that way for a moment, just staring.

"You're beautiful..." Faith spoke in a soft whisper, one of her hands almost brushing Buffy's limply wet hair, and then stopped as she realized both what she was doing and that the other girl had heard. Buffy's eyes changed in that moment, but not to recrimination. She just looked back up at Faith, hands never moving from the other girl's waist.

"So are you." Buffy didn't whisper, didn't dare move. She wasn't sure of the feelings running through her at this moment, but she didn't want them to end either. She swallowed briefly, unsure what to say or do next.

"Time to finish the shower I guess." It was Faith who broke their locked gazes, looking away to the back of the shower as she struggled to keep her composure. Buffy looked faintly hurt, but she moved ahead and began her own process of washing and shampooing. Faith steadied herself against Buffy's shoulders, still kicking herself for the moment before, nettled both that it had happened and that she had ended it. She didn't need these conflicts.

Buffy finished swiftly, in part because the hot water began to run out, giving them both a somewhat much-needed cold shower, and in part because she wanted suddenly to separate herself from Faith and whatever the other girl was doing to her hormones. She slipped out of the bathtub quickly and shut off the water, then assisted Faith with the tasks of getting redressed and blowdried. Neither of them spoke during the rest of the trip back to Faith's room, until Faith was situated back on the bed. Buffy went through the bags again and pulled out a good store of Faith's comic books and her Discman.

"Something to amuse you a little I guess." Buffy was trying to recover some sense of equilibrium between the two of them, but it wasn't working well. Faith took the proferred items from Buffy and set them on the bed next to her.

"Thanks B. For all this." Faith made a weak attempt at a smile as she felt weariness closing in over her. Buffy smiled back tightly, and she set down several of Faith's CDs on the table.

"If you need anything, well, err..yell I guess. I'm staying here tonight at least, mostly because I am too tired to walk home safely through vamp infested cemetaries." Buffy straightened and looked over the room one more time, and then headed for the door. "G'night."

* * * * * *

As Buffy was making her way down the hall above, a small green-skinned form was carefully pushing it's way through the crawlspace under Giles's house. The Goblin knew it's mistress was dead, and that it's companion was also dead, and some part of it's feral little mind was angry about that. It had followed the scents of the attackers to this place, and now it just needed an entrance so it could work it's mischief. As it went, it rattled the pipes and clawed at wires, causing lights to flicker above, and strange noises to come through the plumbing as water pressure shifted in unhealthy ways. It chittered and burbled to itself, looking for a loose board that it could break widely enough to get inside. The windows and doors were all warded, a wise precaution for anyone in Sunnydale, but the Goblin was small and wily, if not actually intelligent.

It kept searching through the underparts of the house as the occupants went to sleep, Buffy on Giles's couch, Faith in the guest room, and Giles in his heavy carved-oak bed. Eventually the goblin's careful work bore fruit, as it found a half-rotted section of flooring under the kitchen sink. It clawed itself up through the layers of insulation

and wiring, breaking through the bottom of the sink at last. As it came up, it's head struck the U-pipe under the sink and caused a goblinish curse to fill the air. It stepped backwards and fell back into the hole below, clawing wiring as it fell with a thud and then a Z-Z-zap! as a loose wire carrying current struck it's side. It yelled again and jumped back into the cupboard, out through the doors and into the kitchen. It ran around in circles for a moment until the burning pain subsided, and then it looked around.

Buffy awoke with a start at some unknown sound. She sat up and looked around the room, hearing a faint rustling from the kitchen. She looked for her clock, then remembered that she wasn't in her room. She sighed slightly and slid off the side of the couch and grabbed up a stake and the iron knife. She crept towards the kitchen, hearing the noises growing louder, along with strange gutteral grunts and slurpings. Finally, she jumped through Giles's swinging kitchen door (and was smacked by the vengeful thing on the backswing) to see a small black shape rooting through the refridgerator. The light from the full moon filtered in from the window, but the fridge light hadn't come on. She could see the delicate forms of her mom's good dessert dishes on the floor, and in the same moment, the little Goblin noticed her. It blinked up at her, and then dashed off at top speed.

"Come back her you evil little green bastard!" Buffy dashed after the thing, but it was damn fast, racing off like a cockroach. It pushed through Faith's door, which was very slightly open. Buffy continued down the hall after the creature, but she didn't get far before she heard a piercing shriek from Faith's room, then several crashes and thuds. She made it down the hall and ran into the room, finding Faith with the Goblin in her hands as she steadily pounded it against the wall. Buffy ran up to the other girl and grabbed her arm to stop the Goblin's motion, then stabbed it with the iron knife. This time it was the Goblin's turn to shriek as it puffed into bits of greenish ash, just like the other one had. Faith took several rapid breaths, and then looked up at Buffy.

"What the hell was that?" Faith sat up, her silhouette ruffled in the darkness. Buffy tried to turn on the light, flipping the switch once, twice, then three times before she gave up.

"A Goblin- one of Melitherion's pets. As far as I understand, there were only two of them that she brought with her, and that was the second." Buffy carefully ran a hand through her hair and leaned against the doorjamb.

"Ugly little things." Faith muttered darkly as she settled back in to sleep. Buffy shrugged a little and bent to pick up the stake she had dropped on the floor. As she stood, she felt a hand on her shoulder. She jumped and made a muffled shriek as she turned around into the sleepy face of Giles.

"Buffy, if you want a midnight snack, do shut the refridgerator door when you're finished." Giles looked into the room and spotted Faith still sprawled on the bed.

"It wasn't my snack Giles- one of those Goblins snuck into the house and proceeded to eat the rest of mom's custards." Giles looked stricken at that thought, and half-turned back towards the kitchen.

"And you disposed of it I am sure?" He was ready to launch into a late night cleaning session, feeling somehow soiled that the creature had broken into his orderly home.

"Yeah, I nailed it, but I think it managed somehow to knock the power out. We might want to call the company."

Buffy yawned suddenly as the adrenaline rush faded.

"I'll take care of that. I suppose you two should try to get some sleep." Giles turned and stepped out of the room, bedslippers flopping as he walked down the hall.

"Yeah, sleep good." Buffy yawned again and then looked over at Faith. "You alright?"

"I'm good. G'night B." Faith settled back down completely, staring up at the ceiling.

"G'night again. I always thought that Goblins were just things that mothers made up to scare children with. I hope this doesn't mean that there are leprechauns." Buffy stepped out of the room and closed the door completely and headed back to her couch. In the kitchen, she heard Giles on the phone as he cleaned up the kitchen, arguing with the person on the phone. She half-smiled to herself and let herself lean back onto the couch. It had been a terribly long day, but not all bad. The moment spent in the shower with Faith came back to mind, and Buffy frowned to herself slightly at Faith's stiffness. She still wasn't clear on the Faith front either. She sighed slightly and wished that Angel were still around, though she wished that less for him as a lover than as someone to talk to. Giles wouldn't understand and the rest of the group certainly wouldn't. This was Faith after all. She sighed again and rolled onto her other side, facing the back of Giles's good sofa as she tried to get comfortable. Hopefully a good night's sleep would clear up some of these issues for her.

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