Five by Five by Shyfox

Disclaimer: Joss is god, I just use em for my own sick and twisted pleasure.
This is my own version of events when Faith wakes up from her coma...I've taken great liberties in changing everything to fit my own little verse.
This is yet another story in the Sappho's spell series...anybody sick of them yet?:-) Just checking. I've lost count of how many I've written so far.:-) It's like that song...you know the one that never ends.:-) Anyhoo...This one takes place about a month after Wonderful days...glorious nights...give or take a day.:-) enjoy.:-)
Summary: So, Willow's five months pregnant, the prospective parents are busy putting the nursery together and preparing to bring a new life into the world...wouldn't this be a really bad time for an old enemy to appear? Well, like they say on the Hellmouth. You can't keep a bad seed down forever...let the games begin.
Comments, questions, criticisms are as always welcome at shyfox30@hotmail.com

Five by Five
by
Shyfox

Look into my eyes,
you will see
what you mean to me.

Search your heart,
search your soul.
And when you find me there, you'll search no more.

Don't tell me it's not worth trying for.
You can't me it's not worth dying for.
You know it's true.
Everything I do.
I do it for you.

-- Bryan Adams

 

"Okay...now over to the left."

"No, Xander your other left!"

"Ow." Buffy learned first hand what it was like to be caught between a rock and a hard place...or in this scenario, a wall and a really bulky peice of furniture. Buffy and Xander were in the process of getting the baby's changing table/dresser up the stairs, while Willow directed them from below. Unfortunately, Xander was lousy with directions.

"Oops, sorry about that Buff." Xander chuckled nervously at the baleful look he recieved from the Slayer.

"Who knew babies needed this much stuff." The Slayer grumbled to herself, before she shifted her grip. "It's all right...let's just get this thing moved." She grunted, as she tried to maneuver Xander in the direction of the nursery. It wasn't especially heavy, at least not to the Slayer, but it's bulkiness made it difficult to move.

It was just another turn, before they entered the room that they had spent a good part of the last month preparing. They set the peice of furniture up against the far wall, underneath the window that peeked out at the back yard, and took a moment to survey the room...examining the work they had done. Brightly colored images of baby Mickey and Minnie mouse graced the soft yellow painted walls, a color Buffy persisted perversely in calling 'Baby chick yellow'.

In one corner of the room, a wooden rocking chair stood idle...waiting for someone to sit in it and rock a crying baby to sleep. Buffy remembered the look of love and surprise on Willow's face when she had presented the chair to her. Willow looked at her through misty eyes for a timeless moment, then put her arms around her in a heartfelt hug.

'You remembered.' She had whispered softly, the wetness of a tear dripping down her cheek.

'Of course. How could I forget?' Buffy had replied in a low tone, remembering all the stories Willow had told her after the baby had first been conceived, of how her mother used to rock her to sleep when she was an infant and how she would read to her from that very same chair before putting her to bed at night as she grew older. Buffy was well aware of Willow's dream to do those things for her own little daughter and she was all too happy to help that dream come alive.

They had stood there embracing, their heart's swelling with love and devotion for each other, smelling the fresh paint drying on the nursery walls, as every added touch to the nursery brought them that much closer to the birth of their baby. And the dream that was ever present in each of their hearts.

The baby's crib stood in the center of the room, and quickly became the center of her attention. The light colored peice of furniture was decorated with tiny images of the Disney characters, and a mobile hanging over the top of the crib went with the motif of the room, displaying the cartoon figures in a way certain to catch an infant's attention. She could easily imagine her daughter reaching up to play with the dangling and enticing objects, or falling asleep while the tune 'Twinkle, twinkle, little star' echoed tinnily in her ear.

Buffy observed Willow's mood as she watched her walk over to the crib and pick up the Tinky Winky plush doll that lay inside. She looked like Buffy felt...like she was in some kind of a daze, and that if she blinked this would all disappear like a mirage in the desert. Buffy moved behind her, circling her growing waist with her arms as she laid her head on the red head's shoulder, before putting her hands on the distended belly.

"We did good." Buffy reflected, scanning the room with shining blue eyes. "All we have to do now is wait for the baby to arrive."

"A room fit for a princess." Willow murmured, imagining what it would be like to flutter around in here, taking care of her newborn and finding that she couldn't wait to hold her baby in her arms and love her. "I can't wait to see her, Buffy."

"Me either." Buffy said softly, nuzzling her wife's cheek, and was amused to hear Xander cough uncomfortably, before he left the room. 'Yeah...I'm turning into a qualified bowl of jello here, aren't I?' She thought, rolling her eyes at herself, while trying to keep her eyes from spilling over.

She sniffled, then turned Willow to face her, keeping her hand on Willow's belly. "What do you think, little one, huh? Do you like it?" The shock on the Slayer's face was priceless as she looked into Willow's bemused eyes.

"Did you feel that?!" Buffy asked, her eyes widening as her hands roamed over the expanse of belly exicitedly.

"Oh yeah...I felt it." Willow chuckled, amused at the total thrill on her wife's face. "Couldn't miss it." She had felt the strange flutter inside that had been her daughter's movement for a short while now, but this was the first time she had felt her kick.

"Think she'll do it again?" Buffy's face was so full of awe that Willow thought her heart would burst from the sheer beauty of it.

"Probably. I've heard they do that." Willow grinned, watching her wife's eyes widen impossibly further as they felt their daughter kick again.

"Wow." The word was just above a whisper, but Willow could tell that Buffy was deeply moved by this moment.

"Buffy...Willow...you're going to be late for your appointment." Joyce called from the direction of the hallway, and the stairs beyond it.

"Mom! Get in here!" Buffy half cried, half laughed as she hugged Willow to her. "The baby just kicked me."

It seemed like the words had just left Buffy's mouth, when Xander and Joyce rushed into the room and started hovering over the elated parents. Each one wanting to take their turn feeling Willow's stomach, and waiting for the baby to move against their hand. Each wanted that tangible sign that this miracle was indeed a live presence in their consciously growing family.

*****

The first time Buffy had accompanied Willow to Dr. Wiseberg's office, she had been forced to wait in the waiting room. Nurse Brackett had been nice and all, letting her borrow her Soap Opera Digest, but waiting nervously for what seemed like forever for Willow to emerge had almost been her undoing. After that initial visit she had insisted on being present during the examination.

It hadn't taken Dr. Wiseberg long to realize that the two women were a couple. Buffy's excited chattering and questioning every move they should make to care for a healthy baby had given him large clues...not to mention Willow's blushing when Buffy had reached for her hand during an examination. He hadn't been raised so old school that he didn't know true love when he saw it...so he wasn't too surprised when they announced their relationship to him, and their pending marriage.

Now he treated Buffy like he would any future father...with kid gloves.

He had witnessed many fathers express excitement over the growing realization of their child...but he found he was quite amused as he listened to Buffy relate the story of how she felt her baby kick for the first time in vivid and extremely detailed clarity. He watched with even more amusement, Willow's slack jawed wonder of her babbling wife.

"Hey, Dr. Wiseberg...maybe you could give Buffy an examination after you finish with me." Willow interrupted the narrative, grinning quirkily.

"Hey!" Buffy protested. "There is absolutely nothing wrong with me!" She defended, and then had to laugh at herself. "Okay...so maybe I am just a little bit excited."

"A little?" Willow teased, laughing when Buffy stuck her tongue out at her.

Dr. Wiseberg was enjoying the banter when his intercom buzzed. "Yes, Nora."

"The lab room is ready, Doctor." Nurse Brackett answered him.

"Thank you." He replied before looking up at the two women. "I know you've had a lot of excitement this morning...are you up for a little more?"

Both women looked at him questioningly. "Want to see your baby? Maybe we can even see if she's the girl you both seem to think she is."

*****

'The wonders of modern technology.' Buffy thought, as she stared curiously at the big monitor where the image of her baby would be shown. Dr. Wiseberg was busily rubbing some kind of Gel onto Willow's stomach in preparation for the procedure.

When he was finished, he turned toward the screen, taking the transducer into one hand. He ran the instrument over Willow's belly, then waited for the image to appear on the screen.

Buffy and Willow stared in wide eyed wonder as a living, breathing image of a baby appeared in front of their very eyes. They caught their breath as they distinctively made out the form of their baby...lying head down in Willow's womb, curled in a fetal ball. The dimensions were easily seen, from the curve of the baby's head, all the way down her back, and the curve of her butt along the uterine wall. Her knees appeared to be pulled up to her chest, and the doctor pointed out the toes on one foot. The baby's eyes were shut as if she were sleeping, and she appeared to be sucking on her thumb as she slept.

The noticable absence of a sexual organ, or rather one they could see at this point, confirmed what they had already known in their hearts...and through the genology section of their biology class...that they were indeed having a little girl.

The sight of the baby brought tears to both women's eyes as they saw how beautiful and full of life she was...but it was the sound of their baby's heartbeat that sent those tears down their cheeks. Buffy realized with a great deal of self awarness that she'd been hearing that sound for months while she and Willow lay quietly in their bed at night, but it had never occured to her to question what that sound was. And now, besides the sound of her wife's heart beating...it was the most beautiful sound on Earth. She would willingly die to ensure that sound never ended.

*****

Buffy was so excited that afternoon that Willow practically had to drive her out the door and to Giles for a little Slayer practice, because quite frankly she was bouncing off the walls so much it was starting to drive her nuts.

'Are you sure you want me to go?' Buffy had asked her, for maybe the hundredth time, while she had changed into a simple t-shirt and pair of jeans.

'Yes..I'm sure...go.' Willow had replied, handing the Slayer her jacket.

'Are you sure you don't want me to get you anything at the store...ice cream...carrot sticks...yougurt on a stick?' Buffy had asked, while being practically pushed out of the house.

'No...I'm fine...I'll just drink my herbal tea and relax. You...go...work off some energy.' Willow had ordered, but then grinned to make sure the Slayer knew she wasn't irritated with her.

'Okay. I can't wait to show Giles the pictures of the baby.' Buffy grinned broadly, while Willow smiled and tried not to roll her eyes at her overly excited wife.

'Bye' Willow had waved at her, and watched as Buffy jogged off, unaware of the malevolent prescence that watched the scene like a circling bird of prey.

Joyce had some business to take care of at the gallery, but she too didn't seem to want to leave Willow alone.

'What is this?' She asked herself, as she made herself some herbal tea, while listening to all the reasons Joyce really didn't want to leave her alone, but had to because of business and really hoped she understood. All Willow really wanted was to sip her drink while sitting in her rocking chair and wistfully imagining rocking her child while she talked to her softly.

"Willow, are you sure you don't mind me going?" Joyce asked, looking for some final reason to stay home. For some reason, she did not feel at all good about leaving Willow alone...some intuition was telling her it was a bad idea, but she couldn't justify the emotion with reason. "I'm not sure I like leaving you alone...it's only for a couple of hours, until either Buffy or I get back...but still...anything could happen. And Buffy would never forgive herself or me if neither of us were here and something bad happened to you."

Willow smiled, and tried to convince the older woman that she'd be okay. "Really...I'll be fine. I'm just going to take my tea and relax upstairs. I promise I won't stir out of my rocking chair while your gone. Well...except for maybe going to the bathroom." Willow smiled ruefully, the bathroom had become her most frequented place to be during recent months.

Joyce smiled in understanding, then sighed heavily as doubt once again flashed upon her mind...but she didn't want to be overprotective either. "Okay...Have fun. I won't be gone long." Joyce said, before grabbing her briefcase and walking out the kitchen door.

Dark eyes watched the older woman walk to her car and get in. It wouldn't be long now. Just a little longer to make sure there would be no interruptions and then...Red would be hers.

*****

Willow watched the sun set on the horizon, through the window in her baby's nursery and thought about the events of the day. It had been a miracle seeing her baby live and in technicolor on the television monitor. Buffy had even arranged to have a video, as well as photo's made of the Sonogram feed. She couldn't get over how excited and happy Buffy was...insisting on showing Joyce the pictures the second they got through the door, and joking about how nice they would look hanging up in her mother's gallery.

Willow knew Joyce had humored her daughter, both sets of green eyes had risen and met over the Slayer's head, sharing the laughing sparkle within. They both knew Buffy would hardly be able to wait to share the photo's with the rest of their friends, her exuberent energy raising both of them higher, until all three of the women were giddy with emotion.

Buffy had practically copied Xander's Snoopy dance, and then had swung Willow in a circle, wearing the biggest smile the redhead had ever seen.

Willow laughed out loud as she remembered, rubbing her belly in thought. "Your daddy might be crazy, but I love her."

She settled back in her chair then, rocking idly as the last of the sun's rays disappeared over the horizon and twilight descended over the little town of Sunnydale. "Well, little one...your Daddy will be out slaying soon...and then she'll be home...probably carrying enough energy to last all night." Willow thought fondly, her mind starting to take her down trails better left traveled with her friend, lover and partner at her side.

It was just as well then, when the ringing of the doorbell disturbed her wayward thoughts. "Hmm. Wonder who that could be?" She thought in bemusement, as she eased herself out of the chair and headed down the front stairs.

She opened the front door without really thinking about it first, and once she had she was too much in shock to close it.

"Hey, Red." The darkest eyes she'd ever known stared her up and down in ill concealed disgust. "Does B know you've got a bun in the oven?"

******

I'm on a ride and I want to get off,
but they won't slow down the roundabout.

-- Duran Duran

Buffy was just about to head out of Giles'apartment, Xander and Oz at her heels, when a strange lurching sensation filled her gut and her face turned pasty white.

She leaned against the doorway,feeling barely strong enough to hold herself up, not noticing the worried questions of her friends through the hectic buzzing in her ears.

"Buffy!" Giles noticed with some alarm how deathly pale the Slayer had turned. He strode forward quickly, catching the Slayer's shoulders in his grasp and tried to steady her on her feet. Her eyes appeared distant as he stared into them and Giles felt his heart excellerate at the sudden sense of loss he felt eminating from her. "Buffy...what's wrong?!"

"Will..." He barely heard the whisper released from the Slayer's lips, but when she looked back up at him, he was stunned by the amount of panic in her eyes. "You've got to get me home, Giles. Now!"

****

Willow tried to close the door, but Faith was right there, and she was upon her before she knew what was happening. She tripped over her own two feet trying to get away from her, her body not responding as quickly to the danger as she was used to, and found herself landing hard on the living room floor.

She looked up in a daze as Faith loomed over her, an unreadable expression on the dark Slayer's face. "And you didn't even invite me to the wedding." Was the last thing she heard before she blacked out.

*****

The first thing the group noticed when they reached the house, was the fact that the door was slightly ajar. It was something people never did in New York City...much less Sunnydale...and it was definitely an ominous sign.

"Will?!" Buffy called out as she rushed into the house, and up the stairs searching frantically for her wife, and hoping against all hope that she would find her here safe and sound, although she had the feeling that it wouldn't be the case.

Giles, Xander and Oz searched the downstairs, hearing Buffy's voice echoing through the vacant house yelling Willow's name and being answered with a devastating void.

Giles noticed a simple piece of white paper sitting on top of the coffee table. Hoping that it might be a simple note from Willow saying that she had run off to the store for a carton of milk, or something just as benign, he picked it up and read the simple message quickly.

Buffy returned with a half drunk mug of tea in her left hand, that she had found upstairs, resting quietly by the runner of the rocking chair...as if Willow had set it there intending to return for it. The disturbing thing was, Willow never just left dishes lying around like that.

She noticed the look on Giles face immediately when she entered the living room, and was by his side in an instant. "Giles...wha?"

He didn't speak, simply handing her the piece of paper, his brown eyes speaking volumes of the state of worry and fear the missive had instilled in him.

Buffy's eyes glanced over the paper, finding the words quickly, then backtracked and read it once more, slower this time as she felt her heart rate, not to mention her fear and anger accelerating.

Yo B!

Got something that belongs to ya.
You want her back you're gonna have to come and get her.

Same place as last time.
F.

Xander saw the looks that had come over the Slayer's and Watcher's faces and instantly became worried. "What...she's just gone to the store for some pickled pigs feet, right?"

"Xander." Giles hushed him with a single word, while Buffy took no notice of the slight distraction posed by the Scoob.

"Same place as last time." Buffy mumbled to herself, her mind rapidly going through every possible option of where Faith might have taken Willow, while forcing herself not to panic. Panicing wouldn't bring her any closer to finding her missing wife.

"City Hall?" Giles questioned, also trying to figure out where the errant Slayer might be.

"No." Buffy discarded the possibility without a second thought. "That wasn't personal. This is." An image of a fight, their last fight, flashed through her head. She saw herself stabbing the other Slayer and heard Faith's words echoing in her brain. 'You killed me, B.' The fight had been a last desperate attempt to save Angel's life, only the blood of a Slayer could save him, and she had done what she had never thought she would do...attempt to take another human being's life. This same fight had put the other Slayer into a coma, from which she had apparently awakened. Buffy just wished somebody had warned her.

"I know where she is." She said finally, to the anxiously watching faces of her friends. "Let's go."

*****

Willow woke up to a loud throbbing in her head, herself tied to a chair and her worst nightmare grinning malevolently in front of her. "Faith." She managed to say the word quite calmly, although internally her nerves were screaming with fear.

"Hey Red, you're awake." Faith said, with mock surprise. "Good. I was afraid you were going to miss all the fun." She brandished a silvery knife, it's edge gleaming in the moonlight, and delighted in seeing the green eyes fill with undisguisable fear. She ran the blade gently over the redhead's cheek, almost in a caress, and grinned as Willow shivered uncontrollably.

"What do you want?" Willow asked, cringing as the blade ran down over the line of her jaw and slid gently over the soft flesh of her neck.

"Aren't you even going to say, 'Hey Faith...glad to see you're awake. How was the coma'?" The Slayer towered over the Wican looking as tempestuous as ever. "You ever wondered what a baby looks like inside the mother?" Faith asked, suddenly, circling Willow's rounded abdomen with the knife. "I have."

"Don't." Willow pleaded, trying not to surrender to the panic that was telling her to do something...anything. She was pretty sure that she could fling the knife out of Faith's hand and away from herself magically...but it was a trick that would only work once. She could probably surprise the Slayer but once Faith had seen her do it she would be prepared for it the next time, and she wasn't sure she'd be able to outrun her.

She would have to hope and pray that Buffy showed up in time...then maybe she could use her little trick to distract the other Slayer long enough for Buffy to beat her into a bloody pulp. The thought was a little mean...but justified.

Faith saw the scared yet determined look on the redhead's face and knew she wouldn't be able to get her kicks from teasing her...she'd just have to save her little experiment for when B showed up. She knew it would kill her to see her baby get ripped from Willow's stomach right in front of her. And she couldn't wait to see the look on her face when she did.

*****

Buffy and the rest of the scoobs stood outside the apartment building nervously looking up at the roof. "Okay guys...I want you to stay here."

Giles, Oz and Xander looked at her like she had lost her mind. "But Buff..." Xander started to protest, but Buffy cut him off with a single look.

"No. Look she is much too dangerous to risk it. My best chance is to catch her off guard and hope she isn't anywhere near Willow when I do. Stay here." Buffy said, and without looking back, she made her way toward the fire escape.

*****

Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the lord my soul to keep.
If I die before I wake.
I pray the lord my soul to take.

Hush little baby don't say a word.
And never mind that noise you heard.
It's just the beasts under your bed,
In your closet, and in your head.

Exit light, enter night.
Take my hand.
Off to never never land.

-- Metallica

Faith walked back and forth across the rooftop, getting increasingly more agitated as time passed with sullen ticks of her wristwatch. She was growing bored with the cat and mouse game she was playing, and wished to move on to the good stuff...pummeling the blonde buffet into the pavement. But that was hard to do, when the person in question hadn't even showed up yet. As she paced, she played a catching game with the knife, kind of a lets see if we can play a little trick on destiny game where she threw the knife up into the air with one hand, then without looking tried to catch it with the other. It made a colorful sight as it arched up into the air, reflecting the moonlight off of it's surface, shining with a hint of it's own evil intent. She would catch it gracefully every time, her hand coming to rest on the wooden handle, holding it idle for only a second or two before she threw it again.

Finally, even this activity grew tiresome, and she reached her limit of being able to just sit idly by, waiting for the other Slayer to show. She turned back towards the redhead, a menacing look taking root across her face. "You know...you would think if B cared anything for you, that she would have been here by now. Maybe she doesn't love you as much as you thought?" Faith said, coming closer to where Willow sat helpless, watching the dark eyes of her captor as they watched her without the slightest hint of emotion.

"What's the matter, Red?" Faith took great pleasure out of taunting her captive, grinning as Willow shrank back in fear. One eye ever present on the sharp blade, the other watching her eyes very carefully. "Is the relationship just not what it was cracked up to be? What was she...dull in bed? Was she no good in the sack? Is that why you had to find some guy, cause B just wasn't man enough for you?" Faith grinned, eyeing the rounded buldge of the wiccan's stomach. "I mean, I know she's good..." Faith said, gesturing wildly with the knife, causing Willow to gulp nervously. "...but she's not that good."

Willow searched frantically for anything to say that could keep the Slayer talking, without giving her the temptation to give in to her greater instincts. Usually she had no trouble talking, babble mode usually kicking in instantly whenever she was the slightest bit nervous. But now that she needed it the most, it chose to dessert her, leaving her a blank slate in dire straights. She let her eyes devour her surroundings, as she hunted for anything that could get her out of this predicament, and almost feinted with relief when she spotted the one person she was sure could end this nightmare climbing over the edge of the roof from the fire escape.

Faith doesn't know she's there...got to keep her busy.

Willow thought to herself, as she moved her eyes back to the dark brown/almost black ones that were staring into hers. "There's a lot that you don't know about Buffy." Willow said finally, as if answering an unspoken question, an air of certainty in her voice. "Just as there is a lot that you don't know about me." An inscrutible smile started to take form over her lips, and she was intrigued to notice Faith staring curiously back at her.

"Oh yeah? Like what?" Willow watched as the knife darted perilously close to her chest, no doubt in response to the tone of challenge that had filled her voice. Oh well...can't stop now. She focused her attention on the handle of the blade, and the hand that was holding it, a hand that hadn't bothered tightening around the weapon's handle, too confident in her ability to cower the helpless wiccan into submission.

Okay...I've done it with pencils...and a soda machine with Tara's help...let's just hope my majik doesn't fail me now.

She concentrated as hard as she could, ignoring everything around her including the menacing presence in front of her, Buffy's worried emotions, and her own fear, and felt the power rise up inside of her. "Like the fact that I can do...this..." Willow said, and surged the power out of her in a wave designed to impact the blade of the knife and send it spinning out of the dark Slayer's hand.

Faith was too stunned to react as she felt the power impact on her hand...feeling warm waves of heat that were left behind as the knife went sailing across the roof top. She turned her head...watching it fly, and noticed where it landed before turning her attention back on the red head, who was a lot more than she had seemed when she knew her last. "Nice Trick." Faith spat, allowing a faint amount of grudging respect to enter her voice. The slap that followed was meant to teach her a lesson about who was really in charge on that rooftop, and if Red didn't learn it then, she'd be learning it when she was slicing her open for sure.

Willow felt the vibrations of the blow starting from across her cheekbone, which the Slayer had managed to hit with full force and no doubt would leave a lovely bruise, if it wasn't indeed broken, and ending all the way down to the tip of her spine. Now Buffy! She managed to think desperately as the impact of the blow caused her head to rock back on her neck, and she looked up at the powerful Slayer through a daze of stars.

*****

Buffy saw Faith hit Willow, and then she saw red. Without a second thought, she was running across the rooftop, intent on reaching her destination...a collision course with the other Slayer. Faith heard her coming and was starting to turn, when Buffy met up with her in a hard impact of bodies, and Buffy's weight took them both to the ground. Buffy came to a rest on top of the other Slayer, and her fist was swinging before the dust had cleared.

The impact of her fist against flesh was extremely gratifying to Buffy. She took great pleasure in watching her fist rise like a hammer, and rain punches against the giving flesh and bone of the other Slayer.

Faith soon recovered from the initial blow that took her to the ground, however, and bucked the blonde Slayer off of her, sending her flying into the pavement.

The two slayers were a blur of motion after that, and Willow had a hard time keeping track of what happened to who next. She would feel her heart quicken with elation when Buffy would get the upper hand, throwing Faith into the door that led from the roof to the inside of the apartment building, and groan when Faith would retaliate...ramming Buffy's head against the steel door.

It was a battle between the Slayers. A rematch, if you will, to see who was the better Slayer. Who was better...stronger...faster. Who could deal out the most pain...and who could take it.

Buffy fought with a certain viciousness that Willow had never seen before from the Slayer. She had seen her fight many times...had even seen her fight Faith on occasion, before what happened with the Mayor. The fight that had happened after, the one that had put Faith in a coma...Buffy had refused to talk about, but Willow assumed it had been a lot like this...no holds barred, for either of them. As Willow watched, an unwilling spectator to the match of the century, she realized that Buffy could allow no hint of remorse or regret into this fight. It was too personal...with too much at stake. Faith had crossed that one uncrossable line and had turned this into a personal contest to see which one would be the sole survivor, and in the end there could be only one person left standing.

In the end, it appeared that Buffy's holy justice won out over Faith's insane rage. Faith lay still on the concrete finally, what seemed like an eternity later, but in truth could only have been maybe ten or twenty minutes, with Buffy looking down at her with a look more fierce than any Willow had seen before. Faith appeared unconscious to Willow, but she wondered if she really was when Buffy kneeled down and murmured something hoarsely to the other Slayer. Willow could just barely make out most of the words, but it sounded to her like... "If you ever touch another hair on her head, I'll bury you under so deep you'll never dig your way out again."

Buffy looked at the still face for a long time after that, and Willow was for the first time afraid of what her wife might do. The look was so venemous, that she was afraid Buffy might actually kill Faith. Then Buffy rose, with a last look at the unconscious Slayer, and made her way back to where Willow was straining at the ropes that bound her to the chair.

"Hey...sorry I took so long." Buffy said, as she limped back to where her wife was sitting.

"That's okay." Willow said, smiling in relief as her wife got closer. "Just hurry up and untie me so we can get....BUFFY!!!"

*****

They had assumed that she had been out...gone to the world...unconscious...the fact that she might have been faking it never crossed either of their minds...until now...when it was too late. Buffy had unwittingly thrown her close to where her knife had been thrown earlier. Buffy hadn't realized it...but she had..and she had bided her time, letting the Slayer pummel her into an almost unconscious state, somehow knowing that the Slayer wouldn't be able to finish the job...to cross that line. She waited until Buffy's guard was down...until her back was turned before she felt around for the knife, sliding her fingers around the hilt of the blade...curling her fingers around it possessively.

B had been so involved in getting to her wife that she had never even heard her approaching, although Red's eyes had been drawn to her...almost magnetically...as if sensing her prescence. The red head had lifted her voice in warning, but by then it was too late, the blade had already been slicing sweetly through the blonde Slayer's skin, dodging the hard bones of the Slayer's rib cage, and burying itself deeply within the Slayer's body. The cry the Slayer had emitted was like music to her ears and she found herself grinning as she hugged Buffy's weakening body against her, feeling the life dribble out of the hole she had made. "Looks like I killed you this time, B."

****

Buffy's eyes widened in pain as she felt herself cry out unwillingly. She heard Faith's murmured words in her ear...at least she thought they were murmured, it was hard to tell through the loud buzzing in her ears, but it was Willow's eyes that she met as she stared into her wife's horror filled gaze. She knew she was dying, she didn't have to hear Faith tell her that, she could feel it in the blood that dribbled copiously out of her open wound, and she had never felt more sorry for anything in her life. The sudden knowledge that she wouldn't be around to see her child grow up was like a stake through her chest and hurt a hell of a lot more than the knife being driven into her body. But she would be damned if she would let Faith live...live to reign terror onto her wife and unborn child. No...if she was going to die...she was going to do it her way...Slaying to the end...even if it was another slayer.

She communicated her sadness and horror to her wife through the link that they shared. She told her that she was sorry...and then she said goodbye. Take care of our little girl. She pleaded with her, wishing that she could be there to watch her be born...to grow...to love. This was all communicated within a moments time and then she was turning, raising her hands to grip Faith's in all too surprisingly strong grip. "I may be dying." She choked, on a mist of blood, looking directly into the deep brown eyes. "But I'm taking you with me."

Eyeing the nearby ledge, she shoved with all of her weight and managed to propel them both over the edge, enjoying the brief look of surprise that was on the other Slayer's face before it clouded over with acknowledgement as she felt gravity working it's will.

Time seemed to slow to a stand still at that moment, a second turning into enternity as she saw the ground below her...and the huge utility sized trash bin that apparently was going to be her coffin. For this timeless moment it seemed so far away from her...inconsequential...as she listened to her wife's screams echo in the wind. That sense of timelessness seemed to last forever, but then the time god must have remembered to turn it back on because it reasserted itself on reality and Buffy found the ground rising up to meet her. She stared at the jagged metal of the trash bin, knowing somehow that her head was going to collide with it, and that it was probably going to hurt...a lot...she closed her eyes...not wanting to see her fate...and then all went black.

The uncaring night listened to the screams of horror and rage of a young woman in pain, while a disinterested moon shined down on a pool of dark colored blood that seeped from a still body. And Fate knew that something had gone horribly wrong in a small town named Sunnydale.

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Tell Me I Was Dreaming

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