DISCLAIMER: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all the slayerettes belong to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is my first story in Buffy-verse. Please let me know what you think of it.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Faith's Hope
By Buckster


Chapter Twenty-one

As Caleb disappeared up the stairs, Kennedy reached her sister laying on the ground, having passed out after making the realization she was blind. Normally Faith can and did take anything and everything that life dealt her, but it seems this was the last straw.

As Kennedy sat on the floor with Faith's head in her lap, she was in the middle of an internal struggle of her own. Her wolf was, understandably, upset. Her mate was in a battle above her and her sister was injured. Not to mentioned being trapped, not only by a mystical barrier, but also by Hope. All of that combined was enough to convince the wolf to go all out in order to take over control of the body.

"You know you are not strong enough to help them. You are just a potential, a weakling." the wolf screamed at Hope.

"Yet this weakling has been controlling you for awhile now." Hope screamed back.

"Only because I let you. I'm not saying you are not strong in your own right, I just want to help. It's time Hope. It's time we work together, not against each other."

"What are you saying? How can we work together in one body?"

"Look at Faith. She and her wolf are not separated. They work together."

"She didn't know the wolf was there till this month. She didn't go through the change until just this past cycle. How can you know how they will work together in the future?"

"Just the fact that she hasn't changed until now has no say in what will happen. She was able to change back on the second night of her first change to help you. Her wolf knew that it needed the human form to carry you up the stairs, so it gave up the control. To be honest, there is no division between Faith and her wolf. That is what we need to get through this."

"What are you saying? That I just give up and disappear? Let you win? Let you have the body permanently?"

"Is Faith gone? No! But neither is her wolf. I'm saying it's time to merge. To become one. If you need any of my abilities, you won't have to worry about not having control and I won't have to worry about having to fight every month just to exist. Because I will be there WITH you everyday. You know what, we are wasting time with this. We both know I can take control anytime I want right now. I don't want to. I want to work with, not against you."

"What about the prophesy? It says I am going to lose control for a month."

"Well, maybe you will lose the control to stay in human form. If so, I am sorry about that. I know sometimes we will need that. But even if I have control, I can let you take over for periods. Prophesies are not always the know-all be-all of life. They are not always right and are often very vague. They don't take into account the individuals response to what is happening to them. They are just a glimpse of what could happen. Look at when Buffy fought the Master. There was a prophesy saying she will die. She did, but she had friends to bring her back so she could come back to win. We can do that. We can work together and win. I feel it."

"You promise me you won't hurt any innocents? Even if you feel they deserve it?"

"Do you mean the potential that hurt us? I know she was just scared. I was reacting to how I thought you would handle it when I had thoughts of going after her. Listening to Faith and you talk about it, I realize she is not a threat anymore. Listen, I know you are scared. Afraid you will be lost in our mind forever. I can't let that happen. Without one, the other of us cannot exist. Haven't you realized that yet? Remember the time you tried to have me exercised? You were in a coma for a week. And that was just me acting like I was gone. The same would happen to me if you were to leave. Like it or not, we are stuck with each other. This is for life. How about this, you sit back and think about it. Let me go and help Faith and the others get out of this. After we get back home, I will give up control back to you. By that I mean, you will get a chance to talk it out with Faith and Willow and get their feedback. I only want to help."

"Ok. I will let you have control for now. Don't make me regret this."


Chapter Twenty-two

Buffy and Willow were in the fight of their lives. That didn't mean they were alone. They had brought Xander and a group of the more advanced potentials with them. Buffy's link with Faith, along with a simple locator spell from Willow, had led them to the old abandoned vineyard near the edge of town. Once they got near, they noticed it was bringer central. They fought their way inside and now were currently trying to find where the two slayer/wolves were being held.

"Buffy, you sensing them anywhere in here?" Willow asked as she threw a fireball at a bringer about to attack her.

"I was, but then I got a sharp feeling of fear, then nothing." Buffy said, as she was fighting off two bringers of her own.

"You mean Faith's..."

"No," Buffy interrupted. "If that were true, then I think I would sense Hope. I think Faith had just been knocked out. Which means they are in more trouble than we thought. We have to find them."

"We will. We just need to calm down and think. Plus getting rid of these bringers would help. When you rescued Spike, he was in an underground cave, right?"

"Yeah, but he was also by the high school and the seal. This place is about as far away from there as someone can be and still be in Sunnydale. Plus I feel pulled apart here. Like there is something here besides Faith and Hope I need to find. Something important."

Just then they heard a loud shout come from the corner of the room They all stopped fighting and turned to see what looked like a preacher had just entered from a staircase that was hidden in that corner. "Ah Slayer. I was wondering if you got my message. It's a shame I had to take a couple of your girls in order to get you here."

"Sorry it took so long to accept your invitation. We had things that were a little more important than a priest on a power trip. I'm here now, so why not give me what's mine, and I do mean everything you have of mine."

"Stupid, stupid girl. You think I am just going to hand all that over to you. Oh no. Although, I will let you join the other two I have in the basement."

Just then a growl came from the corner the priest had appeared from. When Buffy and Willow looked over, they realized Kennedy had manage to escape from where ever Caleb had her and Faith trapped. They also noticed that she had changed more into her wolf state, but still not fully, meaning she looked more like a were-wolf than she normally did after she changed.

Suddenly, Willow heard someone talking to her in her head, Willow, I know you can hear me. You need to go down and help Faith. Caleb did something to her. Buffy won't be able to get to her, but she may be able to find whatever is down there keeping her trapped. You have to hurry.>

"Buffy, we have to get to Faith. Hope just told me where to find her."

"But what about creepy-preacher man? We just can't leave the girls up here alone with him."

As soon as she said that, Kennedy attacked Caleb. She had him down on the ground in no time. She was about to go for his throat when she heard Willow scream for her to stop. She turned toward Willow, changing slightly so she could talk and said, "Why should I spare this asshole? You don't know what he has done. Plus if I let him go, he will just go back to making our lives hell. It's better that we get rid of him now while we can."

"Because, we don't kill. Not humans anyway." Willow said as she walked up to Hope.

"Who said this guy is a human? He is evil. He is in league with The First. I'm telling you, we need to get rid of him now." Hope said, looking into Willow's eyes, trying to will her mate into seeing what the priest really is and what he had done. "He hurt Faith, bad. He needs to be stopped."

"How bad did he hurt her? What did he do?"

"He hit her so hard, she can't see. Do you know how hard you have to hit a slayer to have that happen? When he saw what he had done, do you know what he did? He laughed. I'm telling you, he is evil."

"How do you know he is working for The First?"

"Uh excuse me, but am I the only one that noticed the bringers here? They are supposed to be The First's minions, but Caleb has been bossing them around since I woke up. Why are we even discussing this, you need to get down and help my sister."

"Why can't Buffy get to her?"

"There is some kind of barrier down there. Not really sure how I got through it, but when I tried to bring Faith through, it wouldn't let me. I'm thinking it blocks slayers from getting in and out."

"Then how were you able to get through?"

"Because the wolf is in control right now."

As Willow and Hope were talking, Hope had taken her attention away from Caleb. When he noticed that, he got up, trying to escape. What he didn't plan on was a very pissed off Buffy, coming at him to take revenge for her injured girlfriend. She was slowly approaching the trio, when she heard what he had done to Faith.

"Where do you think you are going? When I am through with you, you are going to wish you never even laid an eye on Faith, much less hurt her." With that, she started pummeling Caleb. After a few blows, she realized nothing was fazing him.

"Is that the best you can do? You'll have to be stronger than that to beat me." Caleb said, then punched Buffy, throwing her to the other side of the room.

The minute Buffy hit the wall, there was silence from everyone. Then suddenly all that could be heard was the sound of someone screaming and throwing themselves against something, as if trying to break through a wall or door. At once, both Willow and Hope realized that Faith was awake and trying to get upstairs to Buffy. While everyone's attention was on that, Caleb managed to get away.

"Willow, please, you have to get down there and stop Faith before she hurts herself even more." Hope said to Willow, pleading with her.

"But what about Buffy?"

"Don't worry about her. I've got her. You just go help my sister."

Willow went downstairs to find Faith pounding on what looked like empty air. "Faith, you need to calm down. Buffy is going to be fine. Hope is up there now taking care of her."

"That asshole hurt her, didn't he? I'll kill him. No wait, death is too good for him, I think I am going to hurt him so bad he wished he was dead."

"Faith, right now we have more important things to worry about. Mainly getting you out of here and everyone home."

"But, he hurt Buffy. He needs to be stopped."

"And he will, just not right now. We need to regroup. I know you love her, so think of her right now and concentrate so we can get you out. Ok?"

"Fine, but first chance I get, I am going after that evil excuse for a preacher."

"In order for you to do that, you need to get out of this basement. Now, do you sense anything that may be powering this force field holding you in?"

"Yeah, over by the wall, near the bottom there seems to be something."

"Good, now let me go over and see if I can find what you are sensing."

Willow went over to the far wall, looking all around the base trying to find anything mystical that could be powering the force field that was holding Faith. After looking for what seemed like hours, but in actuality was only a few minutes, she found a small crystal. She said a small incantation that told her what spell was used to form the field. Once she realized what was done, she quickly did a counter-spell and led Faith out of the basement.


Chapter Twenty-three

Faith was quiet on the ride home. Anytime anyone would ask how she was doing, she answered with her trademark answer of "5 by 5." By the time they got back to the house, Buffy was ready to cram that answer down Faith's throat.

Once they got home, Faith said she was tired, and just wanted to lie down for a while. When Buffy asked if Faith wanted her help up the stairs, Faith told her to go have her talk with Giles, that she would get one of the potentials to help her. That was the final straw for Buffy. She knew something was bothering Faith, and she thought she knew what. The problem now was to get Faith talking instead of bottling it up like she normally does.

"Faith, my talk with Giles can wait till I get you settled."

"Buffy, I'm fine. Go talk with Giles. Just don't wake me up when you come upstairs when you're done."

"But Faith..." Buffy started before being interrupted by Hope.

"Buffy, I'll take care of her. Go talk to Giles. That should give her a little time to get used to being blind again." Hope said.

"Again? What do you mean again?" Buffy asked.

"Didn't you ever read her files from the Council?"

"No, never had a reason to, and even if I did, they weren't complete."

"Listen, let me get her calmed down and in bed, then I will come down and tell you about it."

"Ok, I guess. Take care of her. Tell her I love her and will be up in a bit."

Hope went over to Faith, who was still standing just inside the door, and gently grabbed her by the arm to start leading her toward the stairs. Faith knew it was Hope, both by the feeling she got through their link, and also by how Hope had approached her.

"I'm not helpless, Hope. Just point me in the direction of the stairs and tell me how many steps and I can do it myself," Faith said.

"First off, I know you're not helpless. Secondly, I need to talk to you anyway. Now the stairs are about five steps in front of you, but slightly to the right. You know how many stairs there are, right?"

"I think so, but give me a heads up when we get close."

The two sisters made it upstairs without any trouble and went into the room Faith is sharing with Buffy.

"Acting kind of mean to Buffy, aren't ya?" Hope asked Faith, once the older sister was ready for bed.

"Well, she is acting like I'm an invalid. I can still take care of myself, even if I am blind. Not like it's the first time, ya know."

"I know that, but Buffy doesn't."

"What do you mean? It's right there in my file."

"She never read your file. Said she had no reason to."

"That's bullshit. I'm willing to bet after everything that went down, she memorized it."

"You know, you need to have a little more faith in her. She forgave you and decided to give you another chance, even after everything that happened between you. She seems to really care for you, yet the first excuse you think you have, you dump on her and try to push her away. Just give her a chance."

"Yeah, because she pities me. She thinks I'm helpless now. I just have to prove to her that I'm not."

"Faith, it isn't a sign of weakness to need help once in a while."

By this point, Faith's temper was at it's limits. With everything that had happened that day, then having the argument with Hope, it was becoming too much. She stood up, turned to where she thought Hope was and said, "Just get out. I'm tired and I just want to get some sleep. I just want to be left alone."

"That's the last thing you need right now. If you don't want to talk to me, that's fine. Talk to Buffy then."

"She won't understand."

"Only because you won't let her. Just give her a chance."

"No. I let you and her down, AGAIN."

"How did you let us down?"

"How am I supposed to protect you if I can't see? You remember what happened last time? You ended up with broken bones and Dad took you away."

"That was not your fault. You were in school when that happened. No one knew she was going to blame the accident on me. Don't you dare blame yourself. You were trying to protect me when it happened the first time."

"See that just proves it. I'm a failure. Always was and always will be."

"Dammit Faith! You are not a failure. Anyone else with your past would have given up long ago. You didn't. You've made it through this once and you will again this time. Who knows, maybe with your slayer healing, you'll be seeing again soon. Have you tried using your wolf eyes?"

"Yeah. When I woke up alone in that basement I tried. Got a pain through my head so bad I almost passed out again. Guess this means I'll never find out what the rest of the prophesy says."

When Faith said that, Hope looked away. Even though Faith couldn't see it, the feeling of being ashamed and Hope holding something back came through the link loud and clear.

"What aren't you telling me, Hope?" Faith asked, getting very angry and trying to walk to her sister.

"I've told you everything about the prophesy, Faith."

"Why don't I believe you? You held back that you knew there was a prophesy. Plus you told me you knew what the rest was. Why can't you just come clean with me? Dammit, just tell me already."

"Because I can't."

"You mean you won't. You know what, just go. Get out."


Chapter Twenty-four

Hope stood there for a minute, then decided to give Faith what she wanted. By the time she was downstairs she was so upset with herself and the situation, she didn't notice Willow standing at the bottom of the stairs.

"Hope, what's wrong? You and Faith have a fight?" Willow asked.

"Not exactly. She accused me of lying to her because I didn't warn her and can't tell her about the rest of the prophesy."

"Wait, you know what the rest of the prophesy says?"

"Yea. It's written in wolf language. That's why I can't tell any of you what it says."

"So Faith thinks, since you know what it says, you should have given her a heads-up about it?"

"Yeah. I told her before we got jumped, I was going to show her. We should have headed back then. Maybe she's right. Maybe this is all my fault," Hope said starting towards the door again.

"And where do you think you're going? You know it isn't safe out there. Especially now. That priest is out for your head."

"If I stay here, I'm putting everyone in danger. Out there, I'm the only one. Besides he doesn't scare me. If you hadn't stopped me, he'd be dead already."

"He's human, Hope. We don't kill humans."

"He is not human. How many times do I have to tell you that. He's in league with the First. Tell me how he subdued Faith and Buffy by himself if he is human."

"Lucky shot? I don't know. All I know is I saw what your sister went through when she accidentally killed someone. I don't want you to have to go through that too."

"Trust me, guilt is the last thing I'll feel. That bastard deserves to die. Just for what he did to Faith."

"Ok, think about it this way. Do you really think Faith would want you to go out and kill him?"

"To be honest, I think right now she doesn't care what I do. I could fall off the face of the earth and it wouldn't bother her."

"You don't really believe that, do you?"

"Honestly, I don't know. She is so angry with me right now. I hope we can get past this, and fast. I really need my big sister right now."

"And she needs you. She just doesn't realize it right now. Just give her time. She'll come around."

"If you say so. Listen, I'm getting tired, and since you won't let me go after the evil preacher, I am going to go to the basement and get some rest."

"Why the basement? Why not our room?"

"Because I thought I would give Faith the space she thinks she needs. Added bonus, if I should start to lose control, I am closer to the chains so one of you can restrain me easier."

Once downstairs Hope laid down on the cot that was set up for Spike. Willow came down with her and sat on the side of the cot next to Hope.

"Willow, I was thinking something on the way down here. Why didn't that preacher just kill Faith and me. He had every chance in the world, and all he did was locked us up. It couldn't have just been to set a trap for Buffy. The prophesy says Faith and I are the ones that will defeat The First."

"I was thinking about that when you were up talking to your sister. I'm not sure. He didn't have to keep the two of you alive to get us there. All he would have had to do was kill you, and leave you where we would know to get your bodies. As it was, I had to do a locater spell to find ya. And that only got us so close."

Willow noticed that Hope seemed to be having a hard time getting comfortable. It seemed that the younger woman just couldn't lie still.

"Restless, baby?"

"Now that I am starting to calm down, I realize that I may have been hurt worse than I thought. There isn't a spot on me that isn't sore."

"Well, honey, with everything you've been through lately, it's no wonder you're sore. Want me to give you a back rub?"

"Could you please? You know how much I love your magic fingers."

So Hope rolled over on her stomach and Willow straddled her hips and started rubbing her back. After a few moments, she noticed the wolf's breathing starting to even out. Soon she was out cold. Once Willow was sure her leaving would not disturb Hope, she got off the bed and went upstairs to talk to Faith.

As Willow got to the top of the stairs, she heard a loud crash coming from the room that Buffy and Faith were sharing. She rushed over just in time to see Faith sweeping everything off the top of Buffy's dresser.

"Faith, stop. You're going to hurt yourself." Willow said to the slayer.

"A little too late for that, isn't it Willow?" Faith asked snidely.

"Fine, hurt yourself worse. Why don't you get back in bed and let's talk a bit."

"I don't want to get in bed, and I really don't want to talk. Why don't you just go back and comfort my traitor of a sister. You know, if I had any inkling that she would be hurt, I wouldn't hesitate to get her out of here. Then again, I'm letting her stay after hearing what the prophesy said and everything that happened this week."

"Faith, you do really think you could make Hope do anything she doesn't want to do? She is as stubborn, if not more so, than you. She is tearing herself up because she thinks you hate her."

"Oh damn, I don't hate her. I never could. It's just hard, ya know. I only just got my sight back about half a year before I met you guys. You know how hard it is to be given a gift like getting to see again, only to have it snatched back? It's worse than when I lost my sight the first time."

"I don't know what you are going through, but I do understand. Thing is, none of us knew you were blind before. What happened? Were you born blind or did something happen?"

"Well about six months to a year before our dad took Hope away, not too sure the exact time 'cause a lot happened about that time and when you're a kid, time don't much matter, me and Hope..."

"Hope and I," Willow interrupted.

"Whose telling this story? You or me?" Faith sniped.

"Well Faith, I know you're smarter than you let people think. I still have no idea why you want people to think you're stupid."

"Whatever, anyways, Hope and I were outside playing. Don't remember what, I just remember it was a nice day and mom shooed us out the door. I think we were playing ball or something because I looked up and Hope was in the street. Now remember, she was only about three years old at the time, so she didn't know better. Well a car was coming, so I ran out to get her, got her running back to the sidewalk, but I guess I wasn't fast enough cause the car hit me. I ended up in the hospital for a few months cause my brain was swollen. Well that caused some damage to the nerves to my eyes and I was blind."

"When did you get your sight back?"

"Believe it or not, my watcher paid for the surgery out of her own pocket. The council didn't give her a dime towards it. They never really expected me to be called, so they didn't think it would be necessary."

"Ok so now I know why Hope is taking you being blind again so hard. She's blaming herself for both times. I think she thinks you blame her too, at least for this time."

"I don't blame her. I got mad because she didn't give me a heads-up on what she knew, and knows. She is totally not to blame. For either time."

"When she came downstairs she was ready to go priest hunting."

"And you left her alone? With her talking about going after Caleb alone? And I thought you loved her."

"Yes I left her alone, chained to the wall in the basement."

"Wait, you chained her up? Do you really want her to go insane?"

"Hold on a minute. First you're worried because she is alone in the basement, so she may leave and go after Caleb on her own, so when I tell you I have her chained, you get upset about that. Besides, I thought you were mad at her."

"I am, but that doesn't mean I can't worry about her. She's my little sis. Now that I'm blind again, I can't protect her like I should, so I have to count on you to watch her back for me."

"And I am. I talked her out of going after Caleb alone. Plus it was her idea to use the chains in the basement tonight. I waited till she was asleep to come up to talk to you. "

"How did you get her to agree to wait to go after Caleb?"

"I told her that she should wait till tomorrow and Buffy will go with her."

"And if Buffy doesn't let her go?"

"She will, trust me."

"So I get to sit here getting baby-sat by the wannabes while while the two people I care the most about go out and get themselves killed?"

"One, I'll be here to make sure you're okay and the others won't bother you. Two, you don't think I'm not worried about the two of them going out there too? I had to talk them both into waiting till tomorrow."

"Wait, you're not going with them? What do you mean you're not going, that you'll be with me?"

"Ok, what part of that do you not understand?"

"The part where you are letting your girlfriend and your best friend go after the evil priest without backup. That's it, I'm going with them."

"You'll just get them or yourself killed. You didn't see Hope take down Caleb tonight. When she got upstairs, I had to stop her from killing him. She was about to rip out his throat."

"Why didn't you let her?"

"Because he's human. I saw what you went through when you accidentally killed Finch. I can't let her go through that."

"I understand, Willow, but he ain't human. No human can hit as hard as he does. What he did to me, he did with one punch."

"Thinking back on it, maybe I should have let her, but to be honest, I probably would stop her again. You do understand don't you?"

"Yeah. You keep telling me to have faith in her and her abilities, well you need to too. She knows what she's doing. Ok, here's the deal. I won't try to go with them, but you need to find a way to keep tabs with them. The minute they seem like they need help, you go to them. Deal?"



Chapter Twenty-five

When Willow left Hope, she was sleeping soundly, the massage having put her into a deep sleep. Suddenly, she was jolted out of that sleep by a kick to her ribs. Since she was sleeping on her stomach, not having moved after falling asleep, she knew something was up. What she saw when she woke up was the last thing she expected though, The First with the face of her mother.

"Wake up you little, good for nothing brat. Your Daddy ain't here to protect you now. Plus with Faithy blinded AGAIN because of you, you have no one to hide behind," The First said.

"How did you get in here? I thought you were still in Boston slutting yourself out for another hit."

"Oh, our little Faithy didn't tell you, did she? I died before she was called as a slayer."

"So your The First? Then how did you kick me? I thought you were non-corporeal."

"Oh, you thought you could touch me, but I couldn't touch you? I thought you knew everything about the prophesy. Well guess what, you worthless mutt. You are not going to win. The minute you merged with your wolf, it started the last part. We are in the end game now."

"That's the thing, The prophesy says we win."

"What was it that was said when Buffy and Faith found out about the prophesy? That they weren't written in stone. I have just as much of a chance to win. Actually more if you don't lose control and we know how much you like to be in control. That's why you didn't warn Faith about her becoming blind again. Because of that, she couldn't care less what happens to you."

"That's not true. She's just mad. By tomorrow she'll be talking to me again."

"You think so? Well think about this. You two have a link that lets each other know how the other is feeling, right? I'm sure you are sending plenty of scared and worried feelings through since I woke you. So why hasn't she come down to check on you? Or at least sent someone? Cause she doesn't care. Right now she is having a nice talk with your girlfriend. I could do anything to you right now and no one will know till they find your corpse. Maybe I'll make it look like you killed yourself. Wouldn't that be funny, since you caused another girl to kill herself?"

The First had grabbed Hope in the middle of it's speech and started hitting her in the ribs and stomach. It then let her go and started in on her head. The whole time, Hope didn't fight back. She was too in shock from the combination of seeing her mother again and what was said. The First finished with a strong uppercut that had Hope flying, then sliding till she ended up under the cot, where she curled into a ball to try to protect herself.

"Like I said, you're just a worthless mutt, and I am going to win. It would be best if you get that through your head now. In my opinion, Cloe was the only smart one of you," and with that, it disappeared.

About ten minutes after The First left, Willow came down to check on the young wolf, expecting her to still be asleep in the cot. When she got to the bottom of the stairs and noticed the empty cot, she started to get concerned. She didn't notice the whimpering until she had turned to go back up the stairs.

"Hope, you ok? There's no reason to be scared. Faith is fine and isn't angry. She was just hurt," Willow said as she walked towards the cot, then bent down to try to coax Hope out. She she reached in to try to stroke Hope's back, she started to growl, in her muddled mind, thinking it was The First using Willow to get her out.

"Hope, sweety, what happened? Come on out. I'm not going to hurt you."

Hope turned to Willow, baring her fangs, bloody from the last hit, and growled louder.

"Hun, it's me Willow. I'm not going to hurt you. Please come out of there."

As Willow was saying this, she started to climb under the cot after Hope. This caused the younger woman to back up even more and curl into a tighter ball.

"Ok, I won't come under, but please tell me what happened. You were fine when I left you."

Hope just stayed in her ball and started whimpering again.

"I'm going to go get your sister and Buffy. You just hang tight."

Willow then got up and took off running to the bedroom where she left Faith, hoping Buffy was up there also. The whole time worrying about her girlfriend and wondering what could possibly have happened in the small amount of time she had left the younger girl alone while she was talking to the two slayers. By the time she got upstairs, she had worked herself into a frenzy.

"Faith, Buffy, something's wrong with Hope. She's under the cot and won't come out. She's scared and whimpering and she, she even growled at me. I don't know what happened. She was fine when I left her and..."

"Whoa Red, breathe. What do you mean she is under the cot? I thought you said she was chained on top of it," Faith interrupted Willow's babble.

"I lied. I didn't want you to worry about her taking off. She was asleep when I left her though. You know, when she bared her teeth, they were bloody. And before she went to sleep, she was talking about how sore she was. You don't think she was hurt worse than we thought, do you?"

"If she is that bad, we better get down there. Buffy, could you go down and see what you can do? Willow, can you help me?"

Buffy took off downstairs and Faith grabbed on to Willow's arm so she could get down to her sister a little quicker than if she tried to navigate the house by herself. When the two of them got to the basement, they came upon a fully changed Hope, standing on a prone Buffy, growling with her fangs out.

"Hope, get off of Buffy. She is only down here you help you. No one here is going to hurt you, so calm down," Willow said to the wolf.

This isn't Buffy. It's The First. Hope mind-spoke to Willow and Faith.

"No she isn't. If she was, you wouldn't be able to touch her."

That's the thing, I can touch The First. How do you think I even have a chance of killing it. Bad part that I learned today is, it can touch me too.

"Is that why you were hiding under the cot? Cause it was here as Buffy and did something to you?" Faith asked her sister.

It was here, but not as Buffy. Hope looked from Buffy to Faith It was mom. Why didn't you tell me she died?

"Uh, does anyone mind getting the big heavy wolf off of me sometime this week?" Buffy asked.

"Hope, get off of Buffy. She is not The First. Do you want Willow to touch her to prove it to ya?"

Fine, when I get off of her, Willow, you help her up. That way I am still close if your hand goes through hers.

Hope then got off of Buffy's chest. Willow then bent down to help the older slayer up, but her hand went right through. Shocked, Willow backed up quickly. Seeing it really was The First, Hope sprung on it, just to be swatted aside, yet again.

"Oh this is priceless. I get to beat you again, this time with your sister here helpless to do anything." The First then walked over to Hope, who was motionless next to the wall that she flew into.

"Aww did I break the little wolfy? I thought you wanted to play some more. Guess I'll have to come back to finish our little game." The First said, then disappeared once again.

"HOPE!" Faith yelled as she heard her sister hit the wall. When she heard The First say she was helpless, it struck her to the bone. That is exactly how she has felt since the moment she realized she was blind again. In that moment, she decided that she will not be helpless. She was going to talk to Giles in the morning about helping her to be able to fight blind. She isn't going to stand idly by while her sister is getting hurt over and over again.

Once The First was gone, she turned to where she thought Willow was and said, "Will, take me to Hope. I need to make sure she is alright. I don't hear her moving."

Leading the brunette slayer to her sister, Willow said, "She hit that wall pretty hard. Plus I think she was hurt before this. We need to get her around other people. That way The First can't make the sneak attacks like this."

They made their way to the wolf. Once there they realized she was injured way more than either thought. She was still in wolf form, not even close to changing back like they thought she would be since she was out cold, and she had blood around her head.

"Willow, how bad is she? Is she going to be ok?" Faith asked when Willow hadn't said anything.

"It's, she's pretty bad Faith. We need to get her upstairs so we can get a better look at her. It's going to be hard to tell all of her injuries with her in her wolf form, but we'll manage. Can you sit with her while I get the real Buffy. I don't think either of us will be able to carry her up ourselves."

"Are you crazy? If she happens to wake up and sees Buffy carrying her, she'll freak. Just lead me to her and I can carry her. Just keep a hand on one of my arms and talk me through where we are, ok?"

To Be Continued

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