A Lost Paradise.
A man lies in dreams of green field and rivers
But awakes to a morning with no reason for waking
He's haunted by the memory of a lost paradise
He's chained to a world that's departed."1
A man walked down a busy street, he was oblivious to the world around him, only aware of the cold that seeped through his threadbare greatcoat. He was just another soldier left homeless after the nation's wars with its continental rival, a fallen hero ignored by society. He stepped into an alley to avoid another gust of strength stealing wind.
A hand clamped around his mouth, and a feral growl echoed against his skin as he tried to scream. A monster of the night bites down on its victim's neck feeding of his warm blood. The monster is lonely though, she tears her wrist, letting her own blood flow into the dying man's mouth. He is young, handsome, an air of danger surrounded him, and despite his frail condition he would be a good mate. Suddenly the monster screamed, the man continued to suck at her blood, something was breaking out from deep within him. The monster looks down in fear as his eyes flicker open, they are completely black.
They show no emotion as the monster explodes into dust, another Daywalker is born.
The world spun as the blind fold was removed, the bright sunlight caused her too wince, though as the purple dots slowly receded, her ever so sharp senses began to kick in, and it was like being hit by an eighteen wheeled truck.
"Are you okay?" an English accented voice called, she could hear the panic laced concern from its owner.
"Yeah, just dizzy." She felt movement, the brush of air as someone entered her own personal space.
"Here sit down." She winced as the cool hands touched her and the feeling grew more intense, despite that though the touch was gentle, guiding her to a soft and expensive seat.
"Drink?" It asked as she settled.
"Course Angela, could you bring us a pot of tea and one of coffee please."
She slowly began to adjust to her surroundings, to say the conference room was luxurious would have been an understatement, along the lines of saying David Beckham was merely a footballer, or Michael Jackson had sold a few records in his career. It rang from the antique table that seemed to stretch like a battle ship before her, the deep carpet that her booted feet sunk into and the works of art that lined the walls.
"How are you?" The man asked as the secretary brought in their drinks.
"Kidnapped, drugged, blindfolded, rate it up there with my all time best," she bit back sarcastically.
"I'm sorry Faith," for all he sparked her senses Faith found herself believing the man, "sometimes, it is necessary." He shook his head sadly.
Faith took her first good look at the man, he was tall and thin, his face had a cross between a devilish and an elfish quality about it. Though his most distinguishing feature was that he was black. It wasn't in his skin colour, no that was a pale white, as if stuck in an office without seeing the sun or the deathly pale of a vampire, no it was that that was the most obvious thing about him, the colour black. Somehow, though it looked natural on him, from the black nails and neatly cut hair, to his expensive suit, where even the shirt and tie were black. His eyes though made Faith shudder, they were a moonless, starless night black, a colour so deep that it went on ad infinitum, they held no other colour.
He smiled, it was a contrast, to his dark, almost evil appearance, it carried a warmth that even sparkled around his eyes.
"Anyway, enough of that, how are you truly?"
"Glad to be out, though "
He smirked. "Don't worry, your free and legal," he pre-empted the question brewing in her face. "Much to my sorrow, it was the only way to guarantee your attendance." He paused. "Welcome to Wolfram & Hart."
Fear crossed Faith's face, images of her last encounter with the evil law firm burst into her mind, and Angel's warnings quickly followed.
"W-what do you want?" She stuttered, she had a sudden desire to be somewhere else, she glanced looking for any escape route that would present itself.
The man noticed her panic, he grinned in amusement. "Don't worry, your perfectly safe, some may disagree with that," his voice darkened, "those voices are not of any more concern."
She gulped, fearing the menace lurking behind his clipped accent. She noticed for the first time the sharpness of his teeth, like a vampire's but not quite fully formed.
"You see Faith, I need a favour." He cocked his head slightly, the warmth turning to a kind of innocence, the one you imagine the devil to have before he took your soul.
"I need a body guard, not for me, but for someone very important to me."
"My daughter." Her eyes widened. "She doesn't know that she is, in fact she's perfectly human "
"Unlike you?" He grinned wickedly, at her mumbled question.
"Yes unlike me, you see my dear Faith, I'm somewhat special, unique even, legends call me a day walker, I am evil's version of a slayer." His grin grew as she paled. "Yes that is why your senses are so so hyper."
He waited 'till she'd calmed a little before continuing, "But you see I have two children, and they should be destined to be happy, they should find happiness, total, complete and forever. Someone, however, is not playing by the rules, I want to know who, what and how, and I want it stopped." His voice had grown ever louder as he talked, anger turning his voice to a feral growl and his fists balled.
"Okay?" Faith shrunk back. "Why me?"
"You're a slayer, and she needs protection, who better."
"The catch?" Despite her nervousness, she could feel the but coming.
"'Cause I own you, I freed and cleared your name, this is your debt, and it will be paid in full." The earlier concern had disappeared behind the menacing tone.
Faith nodded, the word 'no' was definitely not an option.
"Good," the warmth flooded back, he stood up. "Someone will be along to pick you up in a few moment, he'll explain everything. Good luck Faith and Thank-you."
"Hey, where is this job?" She called.
"Er.. A town called Sunnydale, I believe your familiar with it."
Faith's world bottomed.
Loki leaned back in his office chair, closing his dark eyes against the emotions that battered against his dark soul.
A beautiful women, as red as he was black slide into his lap.
"Is it done?" She drawled, her voice as soft and deadly as a snake.
He nodded, he groaned into her exploring fingers. "Yes," he all but moaned.
"Good, and?" She dragged her sharp nails along his skin, just breaking its pale surface.
He spasmed with delight, his dark eyes open dancing with lust.
"Our (gasp) d-daughter's will be happy." He breathed heavily, as the women's sharp teeth dragged along his neck, little droplets of blood welled.
He growled, pressing her hard against the desk, his hands grasped her thick red lock, exposing her own neck.
It was her turn to gasp with pleasure.
Faith listened to the lawyer drone on, she recognised him from her previous encounter with Wolfram & Hart, Lindsey or something.
" This is your contact, her name's Anya, lives with her girlfriend...er Cordelia Chase I think, they've contact with the other slayer," Faith twitched at that, images of the beautiful blond slayer flashed like bright neon lights against her mind. "So be careful " She tuned out, not really caring, her own file covered what the prattling Lawyer was babbling about.
As the limo began to pull away from Los Angeles, and start the journey towards the Hellmouth Faith shifted nervously, she could almost feel it, despite the distance, it called to her.
Chapter One: " Wish You Were Here?"
"How I wish, How I wish you were here,
We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year,
Running over the same old ground,
What have we found,
The same old fears,
Wish you were here?"2
"So everything to your satisfaction?" She could almost feel the sarcastic sneer on the lawyer's face.
She didn't care though, she was too engrossed in the luxury of her new home, it just seemed to roll on forever. It was larger than any home she'd ever known, from the hovel she was born into, through the foster and care homes, to even the mayor's apartment. So like a little girl, she examined every nook and cranny, touching every little item that adorned, almost casually the rich home.
"Yeah, it just so cool!" She grinned.
Lindsey winced at her obvious happiness. He simply couldn't understand why such a senior partner was helping the slayer who'd so completely betrayed the firm and its ideals.
And so, like a good lawyer he'd copied the file he was holding, hoping that Holland would be able to make some sense of it all. There was one piece of information that he'd not been able to copy, and that he suspected would be they key, grudgingly he handed it over.
"Here," he thrust a video cassette into her hands, "a message from a mutual acquaintance," he sneered before leaving.
Faith hardly noticed his departure, she just stared at it's black plastic casing, images of another man's final words flooded back into her mind, the mayor sinisterly, jovial final goodbye.
Those memories sapped the excitement from her, and the unique air of Sunnydale began to crawl its way back into her senses. It was the feeling of being trapped in a maze, with a thousand dark corners, and that behind each one an invisible evil lurked.
Something else lurked in the town's streets for Faith, her very own demon, and as the sun set, she could feel it come into it's own, adrenaline pumped from the hunt and the battle it was a feeling by one other living thing.
Buffy brought her knee up into the stomach of the vampire, her long dark wavy locks and leather-clad body reminded the blond slayer of her rogue counterpart.
Faith! Her mind spat the name.
She lashed out again and again, her fists making a dull squelch as they destroyed what remained of the human visage.
"I. Hate. You." She muttered only seeing Faith.
"Er Buffy." Willow coughed quietly. The concerned and horrified tone broke into the slayers red hazed rage, seeing what remained of the vampire she felt pang of sympathy and brought down the stake quickly.
"Sorry," she mumbled ashamed. Willow shrugged as she helped her best friend to stand.
"Channelling Faith huh?"
"Oh that so not gonna come out," Cordelia whined, as she stood up from behind the bench.
"You'd be surprised, blood not a problem," Buffy added cheerfully as she dabbed away specks of blood from her new top.
Cordelia rolled her eyes, "No look." She pointed at the smudged dark green bands that now covered her shirt and jeans.
The wet paint sign glinted on the bench.
The ex-cheerleader grimaced as she ran her hands through her short hair, her new clothes, ones that she'd bought for her date with Anya were now ruined. Another item on her rapidly shrinking, and impressively small wardrobe ruined by the creatures of the night.
The other two women shook their heads with wonder. Out, proud, and bordering on butch, Cordelia Chase was still Cordelia Chase.
"I'm sure Anya won't mind." Like she even cares, Willow thought bitterly, she was still uneasy about the ex-demon.
"Yeah, where is she?" Buffy asked.
"Not sure, she's off be-"
They stared open moved at their red-haired friend.
"Sorry, gotta go, bye." She ran off.
"What is with her lately?" Buffy mused.
"I got "
A man sat on a desk, a mischievous grin on his handsome features. For a second Faith's mind saw red haired and heard that kind, favourite uncle voice. "Hello Faith, If your watching this " She brushed away the tears and blinked until her vision cleared.
The black covered frame of her new boss, shifted on the desks edge." then you're in Sunnydale. Good. You see this (he produced a file), this is the file my associate Mr McDonald gave you. There's only one thing to do with this (he ripped in half and dropped in an off screen bin), it's a complete and utter rubbish.
"Some of my more Machiavellian colleagues will be watching you, trying to find out what I'm doing. There'll probably be sitting outside soon, white van, dark tinted windows." He rolled his eyes, his English tones dripping with disapproval. "You'd think they'd be more original. Anyway, I know they're outside the address I gave you for my agent, but they'll be watching an empty mansion, and too stupid to check the names under any different spelling, so that done, but you're another matter."
"My Agent is waiting for you now, she's in a black ford, she'll take you where you need to go. I'll be in touch, good luck." The screen darkened as he approached the camera, they screened flickered and descended into a crackling snow.
Another has touched her.
She's so innocent.
Another is loving her. Fucking her.
It's only that, her love should be mine.
She should be mine.
Why? Why? Why? Why?
Can't she see me? Can't she tell?
I can love her.
I can protect her.
You can smell that too, the evil incense.
I'll stop it.
They are pleased
So am I.
She instantly recognised the slim, attractive brunette sitting in the driver's seat.
So she stood half in, half out of the large car.
Everything suddenly makes sense, the names make sense, the lawyer was right, just off not to be too different, but different enough to hide the true owner.
It was Anya, girlfriend to Cordelia Chase, member of the Scooby Gang.
"Are you getting in?" Anya huffed.
Giving a small nervous nod, Faith climbed into the car.
The drive passed in silence, an uneasy tension grew in the car between them.
"So you're her?"
"What?" Faith frowned.
"Faith, the psychopathic, rogue slayer."
"I'm Anya," she turned to Faith and stuck her hand out, ignoring the traffic.
"You can't have Cordelia."
"Okay." Faith said cagily.
"Hurt her, I hurt you."
Yeah right, her mind snarled. Outwardly, though she said, "okay, I can live with that."
"So your not worried about what I did?" She'd have thought that all the Scoobies would kill her on sight for what she did to Buffy.
Anya shrugged. "I was a vengeance demon for 1100 years, so not really, but "
"Hurt or sleep with Cordelia, I'm dead."
"Unless I'm there we've enjoyed threesomes." The car stopped. "We're here."
Anya got out of the car, as Faith's mind replayed that last sentence.
"Are you coming, I want to go home and have orgasms."
Faith shook her head as she heard Anya drive off, the last half hour with the woman had been a unique experience, oddly factual.
She chuckled softly as she remembered her describing the ex-bunker that would now be her home, she opened the file that had been sitting on her bed.
Any amusement died as grainy black and white stared up at her from the photo, Loki's neat script announced 'This is my daughter.'
Faith recognised her instantly, and her stomach rolled violently.
Willow brushed her hands nervously against her clothes, waiting for the door to open.
She found herself smiling at the blond that stood behind it, she stood there in her overlong t-shirt, its picture advocating the legalisation of a certain herb.
Tara's grinned back, just as nervously at the other women.
"Sorry I'm late, patrol, and all that."
"'S'okay." She muttered from behind her hair.
Willow immediately brushed the hair away from her girlfriend face. "I got you this."
She presented Tara with a rosebud, red petals peaked out from its green bud.
"The lady at the store said it meant something, you red, thorn less, and rosebud. I don't understand, I wanted a proper one, but the lady said if you understood flowers, it was good. It is good, isn't it. I haven't cursed you have I?" Willow babbled on, she grew scared when Tara didn't respond, not seeing the little grin on the blonde's face. "Oh goddess, I've cursed you haven't I, I didn't I'm sorry, I wanted to say I love you, caus "
Tara kissed her, her babble dying abruptly as she melted into the kissed, as the warm body enveloped her.
"Its w-w-wonderful." Tara stammered, as the kiss broke, "it m-means "
"Tell me later." Willow whispered huskily, Tara hands stroked the skin under her shirt, fuelling her desires. Her own hands, tracing similar patterns across the blond skin, caused her light blue eyes to darken with desire.
Tara nodded, grasping Willows hands, she led her over to her simple dorm bed.
Chapter Two: " one inch of love, is one inch of shadow "
"Over the mountain watching the watcher,
Breaking the darkness,
Waking the grapevine,
One inch of love, is one inch of shadow.
Love is the shadow that ripens the wine,
Set the controls for the heart of the sun."3
She'd always been one of those people who would awake before her alarm's call, early enough to allow her to stretch and warm herself into the day, before the shrill klaxon would force her to confront the new day.
Today though she'd yet to sleep.
Last night she had taken the woman beside her as her lover, it had been their and her first time.
" pink frog soldiers, pink frogs " The slim red-head jerked in her arms, the distress of the dream twisting her features.
As Tara gently stroked the fine red hairs, the other women calmed, and snuggled further back into the arms that surrounded her.
" purple kittens and bunnies " Willow giggled in her sleep, relaxing again into a deep slumber. It was not the first time Tara had watched Willow sleep, nor calmed the red-head's dreams, she was sure her lover's mind raced and babbled even in sleep.
"Willow," she breathed against the fine hairs on the back of her neck, "Willow, hon, you've got to get up."
Willow shivered as the warm breath touched off an instinctive shudder of desire, as it tickled across her skin.
Tara nudged her, trying to ignore her own longing that rose, as the slim body rubbed against her own. "You said you had to get up."
"Don't wanna, warm, comfy." Willow shifted letting small sliver of cool air float across her back. One green eye cracked open, "Its Friday, don't hafta." She shuffled back into the warm cocoon of her lover.
Willow moaned as she became aware of the naked body pressing against her, she turned around in the arms, a lazy, satisfied grin spreading rapidly across her face. She moved up so that their foreheads were pressed together.
The green eyes darkened as she looked into deep blue ones, which danced with an equal lust. Tara's eyelids fluttered as Willow traced her fingers along her pale skin and the embrace tightened.
"Are you sure you want me to go," Willow drawled huskily, drawing their bodies tight together, shifting them. Tara groaned and shook her head weakly, the redhead captured the deep moan with an eager mouth, hands stroked the fire dancing with a passion to rival the deep kiss.
Tara broke away reluctantly, the annoyed groan of frustration that came from the redhead made the blond smile, revelling in the excitement she aroused in the other women. Fingers began to move of their own volition causing them to gasp for air trying to cool their heated bodies.
"Y-y-you h-h-have a s-s-Scooby m-meeting." Willow rolled from the embrace, her face twisted into a disappointed, frustrated snarl. She'd forgotten.
"Okay," Willow harrumphed, "but on three conditions," the husky drawl returned.
Tara nodded, something between fear and arousal made her shiver at the mischievous, almost dangerous sparkle in her lover's green eyes.
"First, we'll shower together." Tara nodded, "Second, after class we're going to have lunch with me, here." Willow fingers made it clear what she meant by that, her resolve face crinkled at her eyes. "And third you're coming to tonight's Scooby meeting."
Tara's blue eyes widened with surprise and joy. "A-a-are y-you sure?"
Willow grinned, her warm mouth answering the question.
Faith shifted uncomfortably against the vending machine, a baseball cap hung low over her face, a broad sheet paper masking her face, she looked like a P.I. from a trashy '30's pulp fiction novel. She was though, in the one place where she might pull it off: a student lounge.
The Scooby gang was still in the process of arriving. Predictably the watcher arrived first, Faith made a game of predicting his movements: tea, brush chair with paper, sit, coat off, drink tea, wince, read paper, straight for the crossword. She shook her head, an amused grin plastered over it, so who would be next.
She was wrong, a bickering Anya and Cordelia turned up.
"I'm not going to stop slaying."
"But you'll get hurt, and we can't have orgasms." Anya pouted.
"Their my friends, I won't let them get hurt."
"But I worry." Cordy gave a silly half grin, dragging the smaller women to the large sofa and pulling her onto her lap.
Cordy whispered something in Anya's ears, and the two had a small tickle fest. Faith felt like laughing, as she saw the Englishman blush, and focus on active not watching.
Faith's breath left her body in a rush, the world contracted into a blur as the blonde slayer entered the lounge. An annoyed frown on her pretty features, it could have been about anything, from clashing clothes, to a piece of college work even the end of the world, Faith didn't care she loved to watch that expressive face. The little shifts that made it so open, here it went to a slight twinge of embarrassed disgust at the antics of the amorous couple, it changed to a fond amused grin at her watcher, and the relief that she'd arrived, finally she pouted when she couldn't see Willow.
"Anyone seen Willow?" She asked as she sat.
"Not since last night." Mumbled Cordelia through Anya.
Faith knew who she was with, but not where, it was why she was here.
"Perhaps she's got an orgasm buddy."
"ANYA." Everyone groaned.
"It's a good thing, she's got over Oz, and she won't chase Cordy."
"A-any way," Giles stammered, he would be happy if the redhead had someone, he just didn't want to know about it, "I have some news from Angel."
Faith felt a cold shudder run through her body.
"It would appear Faith is "
An out of breath Willow rushed towards them, she was flushed and looked as though she had dressed in a rush, a cardboard cup sloshed coffee as she moved, a pastry flaked in her mouth.
"Sorry, I'm late I er um overslept." She blushed.
Faith and Anya unknowingly smirked simultaneously, definitely an orgasm buddy. The other brunette leaned into her girlfriend and whispered something. Cordy's eyes narrowed then a knowing grin and nod followed.
I can see it, I can smell it.
Some thing had fucked her.
It should have been me.
No it wouldn't be fucking with her, it would be love.
No love there, the voices sang.
No, fucking, something disgusting, it wasn't with me.
I can smell the musk of her arousal, she still thinking about that bitch.
Why isn't it me.
Am I not good enough, I could make her sing, not like some little slut.
I can smell magic, the voices tell me, that's why.
You must take her, protect her.
But if I only knew who.
" Faith's free." Buffy tense, her voice tightening with alarm.
Faith's heart sank as she heard the hate bubble under the blonde slayer's voice. Perhaps though if she'd been closer, or facing the other slayer, she'd have seen the flash of pain and sadness that darkened the slayer's eyes.
"Yes it would appear so."
"He said it was something to with a law firm, Wolfram & Hart, Angel sounded most upset about it. Perhaps Willow could look into it." The red haired women in question, perched on the coffee table, sat staring off into nothingness, a small, silly half grin brightened up her features.
"Willow." Buffy nudged her friend when she didn't react.
"Umm, sorry. Oh hi. What's up?" The woman turned a deep scarlet.
"Faith's free." Buffy smirked.
"Faith!" She squeaked jumping.
"We were wondering if you could er hack, I believe the word is, into her record to find anything else, perhaps the law firm too."
Willow bristled with pride, "I can be hacker girl."
'Okay,' Faith thought with worry, 'gotta tell the boss, red's pretty good at that shit.'
The Scooby gang was winding down, "So Will, is there anything you're not telling me?" The slayer drawled teasingly.
"Yes. Who is your new orgasm buddy?" Cordy blurted then blushed, burying her head in Anya's shoulder. "I didn't just say that did I?" She groaned, Anya nodded beaming.
Willow blushed, she started to shake her head, then "Yes I have met someone, you'll meet "
Faith inched forward, hoping to catch anything more the redhead said. A blur of blue filled her vision with a cheerful: "Hi." Faith blinked, bringing her extended and ringing senses back to normal. "Would you be interested in "
Faith looked up at a pretty, hippie style dressed women, " .joining the UCS march against "
"Fuck off," Faith muttered, trying to peer round the other girl.
"Look there's no need to be rude, I was "
Faith heard the girl's voice begin to rise, shit, she didn't want any attention. "Look sorry, bad day, I'm just not interested okay," she dropped her voice too its huskiest, most flirtatious, trying to placate the girl.
"Yes, you'll meet them tonight, okay." Willow rushed out. A look of annoyance flashed across her face, her friend wasn't listening.
At the border of Buffy's awareness, she heard a familiar warm and husky east coast accent, and she grew tense and ready as she focused on the throaty drawl.
She could feel the other slayers accusing eyes through the other girl.
"F-faith?" Buffy murmured, she began to push her way through to the voice.
"You know, I'm still kinda new to Sunnydale, visiting a friend, perhaps " She gently tugged at the girl's arm, her eyes flicking to the nearest exit and the largest crowd.
Buffy moved through the growing crowd, her eyes searching for the form hugging leather and the long curly dark hair.
"Excuse Me, Faith." She grabbed at a girl spinning her round.
"Hey watch it." The women snarled, pulling herself from the small blonde's surprisingly harsh grip.
"Sorry." Buffy blushed.
She spun round in the shifting crowd, she thought she could feel eyes still on her, but too many people flowed past.
Perhaps she'd just imagined it.
Faith let out a shaky breath, her heart pounded in her chest, rushing in her ears like a river in full flood.
She didn't notice the smaller blonde move back into the lounge.
Faith watched Cordelia, she hid in the alley, its cool shadows masking her from prying eyes, she focused on the former cheerleader, she was barely aware of her breathing, let alone the whirl of her camera.
The Scooby Gang had left the student lounge by the time she gained enough control to return, only the former Queen of Sunnydale had remained. Faith needing to know more about them had decided to follow.
The woman in question had not moved in five minutes, standing in front a shop window, her mouth turned up in a sad, wistful smile. Faith couldn't see what she was studying, the shops dark, glinting windows hid its wares even through the lens of her camera.
Cordelia shook herself from the daze she'd entered, and Faith saw her give a final longing look at the display, before twisting to annoyance. Cordelia crossed the road, smoothing any invisible creases from her dark, conservative clothes.
Faith calmly shifted back into the shadows, as the woman passed her hiding spot, watching Cordelia's pre-work ritual, the sneer that accompanied her pinning the nametag, and tired fake smile she practised before entering the shop.
"Ooph!" Giles' guitar case clattered to the floor as he collided with the solid body.
"Sorry," the woman mumbled as she helped him to his feet, his surprise showing when he realised it was a woman he collided with, it had felt like hitting a moving brick wall.
"That's all right," he blushed, "I wasn't looking."
"Me neither, guess both to blame huh?" She shrugged off his embarrassment, "You need a hand?"
"No thank you," he nodded as she handed him his guitar, smiling at the young woman' good manners, if only his charges were as polite.
The girl was pretty, with short auburn hair, dark sky blue eyes sparkled back at him, through a pair of simple glasses, though he had to frown at the crumbled dark clothes, not understanding the fashion of today.
He nodded, smiling at her again, "Thank you very much, and again I'm truly sorry."
"Its fine," she began to grin as he disappeared.
Faith ran her hands through her newly short hair, her new look had passed its first test.
Stevenson, 214. Thank fuck for a delinquent education, Faith grinned as the door popped.
'Okay Red, tell me your secrets'.
Which side of the room was the red head's was obvious, both of the room's occupants were neat, but there was something anal about Willows, everything had a place, everything was perfect, not even a scrap of paper was out of place.
She was drawn to the other half though, she ran her fingers over the bed, gently picking up Buffy's stuffed toy, Mr. Gordo, she remembered staying with Buffy after they'd killed Kakistos, 'he'll keep you company' she'd grinned, at the awkward woman. She could smell Buffy on the toy, the perfume that she loved to wear and the warm smell of her body.
Faith cuddled it, wishing it was its owner.
A picture caught the tearing up Faiths eye, she was level with it, fingers lifted those which covered it.
It was of her and Buffy, Giles had been trying to take a picture of Buffy at Homecoming, Faith had jumped in startling the blond just before the flash. Carefully she pulled it from its pin, sliding into her pocket.
Faith sat back on the bed, fighting back tears.
'No, you've got something to do Faith, her inner voice snarled at her, stop being weak.
Finding something here would not be easy, messy people left important things out in the open so they could always find it, tidy people could put it away, they already knew were it was.
She carefully read through the small piles of papers on the desk, her movements as small as possible, not wanting to give any clue of her presence.
The name Tara, appeared often on the notes, the name carefully outlined in whatever pattern of ink the woman had used on her work.
Tell me something I don't know, Red.
Faith leant back against the toys and pillows propped up on the bed, letting out a frustrated growl.
She'd been through everything, books and papers arranged as if to conform to some complex and precise math problem.
Come on Red give us a clue.
Her eyes narrowed as she went over her searching making sure she'd not left anything out of place.
Come on Faith, think like Red. I'm a genius. I'm going out with a girl. I don't want anyone to know. Where would I hide it?
No, idiot, where wouldn't Buffy look, but I look every day.
She ran her fingers over the books again.
Gotcha. She eased out a well worn book.
Only Red would read this book all the way through, most people just had it on their shelves to say I've got it, she'd read it.
The book felt awkward, as if hiding something.
She opened it, the front cover held two sheets of paper and a crushed, dried flower. Careful not to damage it, Faith eased the paper out from behind the flower, she pulled out her own pad.
Name of Loki's daughter: Tara Maclay.
Two large vampires stepped in front of her. She could feel her muscles tense, the adrenaline flow, and her heartbeat quicken with excitement.
"Hi their girly, wanna have some fun."
Faith grinned, oh yeah, she thought wickedly I am, your not though.
She spread her legs into a more comfortable stance.
"W-w-what?" She stammered meekly, "n-n-no." Their faces shifting, evil grins spreading across their distorted features, as she backed away.
"O-o-oh g-g-god, w-what are y-you?" A stake slide down her arm.
A weight collided with her, knocking her to the floor.
Faith watched as Buffy streaked past her, she could feel the tenseness in the other slayers body, the feline grace and strength as the blonde slayer moved in for the kill.
The vampires' faces flickered with fear as the blonde blur moved in, blocking the first ones arms, spinning in, he was dust before he realised the stake had struck.
Faith gasped at Buffy's smooth movements, the control that exuded from her every fibre as she moved with predatory skill and calm, ducking and blocking the second vampire's attack.
He was already dead.
Faiths breath quickened as she watched Buffy, the familiar sense of arousal that always accompanied watching the blonde. She'd fallen in love watching her fight, she could see the real Buffy here, the hunter so in control, an ultimate fighter.
God she was beautiful.
The second vampire backed away dazed as a roundhouse kick rocked him to the core, Buffy buried the stake in his chest, momentarily revelling in the look of shock and anger that passed across his face as he imploded into dust.
She turned to where the girl had been, she'd gone.
"How rude," she muttered.
The girl had seemed familiar though. She shook it off, she was starting to see Faith everywhere.
Faith blinked back the tears, putting it down to the smoke that lined the club.
"Fuck the Scoobies," she snarled to herself as she approached the bar. The lingering images of the other slayer danced in her mind, moving sensually to the beat that hummed in her body.
The dark clubbed moved with bodies, tight hot and sweaty, the heavy music heightening the atmosphere, the flickering strobes hypnotising, promising anonymity.
"Scotch. Rocks." She shouted at the barman.
"Hi," a voice purred in her ear, the voice turned husky in smoke and drink, lust danced in the eyes.
"Hi," Faith grinned, the women was short, thin and blonde, she could feel the desire pouring from her, "what's your name?" Faith drawled, moving in close, letting her body move close letting the beat take her.
"What do you want it to be?" The women slurred the corny line slightly.
Faith grin, hooking her hands around the woman's waist pulling her tight.
She entered with a blonde.
Her eyes sparkling with a deceitful lust and fake love.
Their bodies reeked of sex and magic.
I love that voice.
It should be mine.
It will be mine.
"this is Tara, my girlfriend."
Chapter 3: " A Hunger Still Unsatisfied."
"Encumbered by desires and ambition,
There's a hunger still unsatisfied,
Our weary eyes still stray to the horizon,
Though down this road we've been so many times."4
She tells me truths that I alone can understand.
Even though I don't want to.
For my Willow is gone.
It's a lie!
I can barely stop myself, stop my hate when I smell her evil.
Faith tried to focus on the dorm's main entrance, but something nagged at her stomach, she wished she could put it down to a hangover, but she knew what it was, her old friend guilt. Memories of the previous night jumped into her mind, like time frozen in the beam of a strobe light, warmth against her skin, the taste of another's body rocking with pleasure lingered in her mouth, the sigh of her name on another's lips they all jumbled against her senses. Her guilt came from the pleasure she'd felt, the enjoyment of the way that small slim body had felt against her own, and the betrayal she felt when she'd called out a different name to the one her mind had screamed.
Two recognisable figures stepped from the dorm's main entrance, breaking into Faith's thoughts. Red looked over the moon, Faith recognised that half grin that was plastered on Willow's face, nothing was going to impact on her good mood that day, she really should've been bouncing with every step. The blonde was a different picture, an underlying tenseness betrayed the truth behind her happy smile, even at this distance Faith recognised worry tracing itself around her eyes.
Willow kissed the blonde's hand, and the smile became genuine for the briefest of seconds, murmuring something against the pale palm.
A man in blue approached them, a small white box under his arm and a clipboard tapping in a bored fashion against his thigh as he walked.
Willow smiled as she opened the box, a large single pale red rose appeared in her hand. She turned to Tara kissing her soundly and giving her, what looked like, an air stealing tight embrace. It softened as the red head kissed the blonde more gently, once again whispering into her ear.
Willow missed the look that crossed Tara's face, Faith didn't.
She hadn't sent that flower.
God, were Scooby meetings always this boring! She hadn't really noticed before, usually she'd spent meetings staring at Buffy, or if she not been there she'd ogle Cordelia, or hell even read, as long it involved not listening to a watcher.
Neither were currently in Giles' house, so with no distractions she had to listen to Giles prattle on about the different parts of a Frankenstein-like monster.
He really was dull!
She fidgeted uncomfortably.
" on another point, it would seem Faith is indeed in Sunnydale. Angel acquired some information from the law firm, and Faith is employed by one of the senior partners, his source was unsure of her real purpose, the senior partner gave him false information. We must be on constant alert, but knowing Faith she make herself known, keeping a low profile was never her strong point."
Faith bit her cheek desperately trying not to laugh.
The door creaked open.
"Oh that's lovely." Giles handed the girl in his garden her pay, he shook of the niggle of familiarity the young student gave off, specially that mischievous, almost knowing grin, she was currently giving him. "Can you come again."
"I'll have too check my timetable, but sure I could do with the cash."
"Yes I remember my student days too. You can use the sink to tidy up."
"Cheers." Anya almost started choking when she saw Faith walk through Giles' living room.
Faith winked at her. "Hi." Willow jumped up to meet the new girl, "Giles says you go to Sunnydale."
"Yeah just trying to earn a bit of extra cash ya know." Willow smiled in sympathy, "Tell me about it books, fees just so expensive."
"Nah just too many parties." She grinned as the comment stumped the red head.
"W-w-what a-are y-you s-studying?" Tara stuttered.
"Earth science," she said giving the subject her previous nights companion had said, "hence the gardening. Just heading back."
"Us too," Willow blurted.
"I'm on the next floor." Faith said as they walked up to Tara's dorm room. She had been nervous when the two had said they walk her back, they'd seen through her as Buffy. The redhead though was wrapped up in the blonde, while the blonde seemed to jump between nervousness and happiness.
They were Faith decided far too cute.
Tara stopped, she and Willow kept moving for just a few steps.
Pinned to her door was a single yellow rose, behind it sat a small card, a strange but intricately drawn black flower was its only decoration.
"Someone like ya huh, Red got competition." Faith quipped weakly, then she noticed that the colour had drained from the witch. "Hey you okay?"
Tara seemed to snap, ripping the flower and the card to shreds, tearing the soft yellow petals from the green stem, ignoring the thorns that scrapped soft fingers.
Willow fingers caused Tara to jump, her eyes blank for a second, before collapsing into her girlfriend's worried arms.
"L-look I'm gonna go." Faith stuttered into the silence that followed.
Willow nodded weakly. She didn't notice Faith finger the small card that had accompanied the flower.
The bell tinkled as Faith entered the small florist.
" so that's possible then?" Faith recognised the voice immediately. Shit! "That's great." She heard the relief in the girls voice.
Faith tried to disappear into the over hanging leaves, but the other girl hardly noticed her. Brown eyes lingered over the petite form as it pressed past them, the way the bright summery colours seemed to suit the blonds small, feminine frame. She felt her breath catch as she watched those curves move gracefully passed her.
She often wondered how people didn't see what Buffy was, the way she moved, the threat that hidden beneath the surface of girl exterior. The strength in the legs and arms that would reveal the hidden truth behind Buffy, like a cat really seemingly lazy and playful, but really a deadly hunter
The bell tinkled as the blond exited the shop.
Faith sucked in her breath rapidly, not realising she'd been holding it, and desperate to catch any of the blonde's faint scent, before it vanished into the background masked by the perfume of the shops contents.
"Can I help?" A slightly accented voice called.
"Yeah, do you recognise this?" She showed the old man the card.
"It looks like an orchid, I'm sorry I don't recognise the breed, perhaps a specialist could help you."
"No," stupid her mind snapped at her, "I know what the flower is, do you recognise the card."
"Yes, I had to make up a delivery with this card attached."
"Can you tell me who?" Faith leaned forward eagerly.
"Are you with the police?" The old man frowned.
"Then I can't help you."
Fuck! "Look its real important, please." She almost pleaded. "It was sent to er my sister, she just wants to know who, to say thanks okay."
The old man shook his head, Faith could tell he knew she was lying. "I can't help you." He spook firmly.
"Thanks," Faith spat as she left the store. "Fuck!" She spat under her breath, kicking a bin. "Fuck!" She spat again, leaning against a nearby wall.
" Look I told you never too contact me again. I don't give a flying fuck if it is important, we're never to " Faith inched closer the voice, recognising it as Cordelia's voice.
He shouldn't be talking to me like that.
Teaching him for hurting Willow.
No, the voice tells me, I need him.
Yes she's right! She always right. That's why I listen to her.
Good, she says.
Remember Willow, you must save Willow.
But he touched her, fucked her.
He's unclean, He was unworthy.
Later, she coos. Calming my hate, my fire.
Then I can see him die.
"What do you mean we're having him back. He betrayed us, sold us to that bloody vampire " Loki ranted at Holland, towering over the older human, rage sparkling in his black eyes.
"I have great faith in the boy."
"Really, if this is any indication of your instincts, you're obviously a liability, perhaps I should have your contract revoked." Loki spat, Holland paled fear crossed his normally calm and reserved face. Excellent, Loki grinned internally. "Some in this firm may think you deserve promotion Holland, remember I don't."
He paled even more.
Calming Loki sat back down into his soft leather seat, "Do you have plans for retrieving the scrolls."
Loki rather enjoyed seeing Holland pale and flinching.
His intercom buzzed, "I'm sorry to disturb you sir, but you have a phone call."
"I'm in a meeting."
"It's from Sunnydale."
"I'll take it, put her through." He looked up at Holland, his face almost back to its normal colour, his scheming mind back into high gear. "Goodbye, you have three days, or I'll take a personal interest in how special ops works, a number of contracts are still in their trial periods." Holland paled again, understanding the threat.
"I-I'll get on it s-straight away."
"Excellent. Hello Faith," his voice softening immediately as the slayer was patched through. "How can I help."
"Something's definitely going on here boss No idea why, got an idea who though No, nothing definite One strange thing, Tara's been receiving little cards with a blackbell on them." Faith frowned a familiar smell twitched in her nose, despite the other bodily ones lingering in the phone box.
"A B-blackbell, are you sure?" Loki paled as the news sank in. "I-its probably just a sick joke No, its doesn't mean anything, understand nothing. Just focus on protecting Tara okay." Loki put the phone down, trying to control the shaking in is hands.
How? He thought.
"Nothing my ass!" Faith whispered to the dial tone crackling in her ear.
The familiar smell grew stronger, and a glimpse of light material drove thoughts of the card from her mind.
"Sorry." Tara mumbled, casting her eyes downwards, unable to meet Willows as the spell collapsed into a cloud of acrid, grey smoke. Willow lifted up her face, gently stroking back the long dishwater blond hair.
"Its okay, I'm kind distracted too." Willow was worried, she'd never seen her girlfriend react like that to anything before nor so afraid, even when Jonathan's monster attacked her. "You know, I keep thinking that I'm sitting here with a really sexy blonde, and spells just poof don't seem to work."
Tara looked down, this time in embarrassment. "I even couldn't concentrate in my lecture "
"L-liar." Tara mumbled.
"What me?" Willow said in mock indignation.
Tara nodded, "y-you h-had computing, nothing d-dis distr n-nothing gets I-in the w-way of y-you a-and computers."
"Are you calling me a nerd?" Willow whined, her heart fluttered when Tara finally looked up, a small teasing sparkle flittered behind her blue eyes.
She nodded, looking around the room, she picked up a well worn book. "I t-think you're the only p-person, who h-has t-this as t-their favourite b-book."
Willow pouted. "I like it."
Something fell from its cover. "You k-kept t-them." Willow grinned.
"Yep my favourite things all in one place." Willow picked up the papers, and opened the front of the book, "the first flower you gave me."
Tara blushed. "And there are things that are better than computers." Willow breathed heavily as she began to nuzzle Tara's neck. "For example," Tara moaned as she watched green eyes darken. "This."
Willow captured Tara's lips with her own.
Later they lay snuggling on Willows bed, trading soft delicate kisses, hand tracing contently over each other bodies. The threat of Buffy coming back at anytime stopped the passion building too far.
Willow felt Tara relax. "Hon." She breathed.
"Hmm," Tara paled when she saw Willows look.
"W-what happened t-this morning?"
"I g-got some f-flowers."
"And." Willow pressed.
"A bramble and a yellow rose."
"Both with that card?"
Some one knocking at her door stopped any further discussion.
"Hi Willow," her Dorm's far too cheerful RA called as she opened the door, "got a package for you."
"Thanks." She said absently, closing the door on him. It was another flower, one she didn't recognise.
"Tara, thanks but what is it."
"W-willow, I d-didn't s-send it." The redhead turned a frown creasing her brow.
Hands grabbed her, and the world span, Faith blindly struck out, her arm colliding weakly with an arm. Something clumped to the floor.
"Shit!" Faith froze.
Buffy pressed the girl into the wall, trying ignore the burst of electricity that shivered along her system as she held the girl by the neck.
"I'm sorry." The girl pleaded, fear touching at her voice. Faiths mind raced at the speed of light, she was going to get caught, she was going to die.
"I know you?"
Oh god! Faith tried to calm herself, but she could feel water on her cheeks, acid in her belly and electricity shocking her nerves. "Y-you s-saved m-me l-last night. I wanted to say t-thank you." Faith tried, fortunate that the emotion wrenching through her body making her sound almost believable.
"Oh right, you know yo " The girl's sky blue eyes ate into her own, they were the wrong colour, but they radiated the same depth, both of pain and life, that only belonged to one other, the curve of the face, the voice oh god. "Faith."
"P-pardon," Fuck! Shit! Fuck! "N-no E-emily."
Buffy eased up, the moment lost.
"Y-you dropped something." The girl nodded to a small bag on the floor.
"Shit!" The girl forgotten she grabbed at the bag, holding it close as if it were a precious metal. "Look, erm, I'm sorry, you just made me jump okay, reminded me of a friend that all." Buffy babbled.
"I-its okay, I'm sorry, b-but thanks."
"Its fine," Buffy waved absently, leaving the alley.
Faith slumped as if every bone had suddenly left her, her body shook as if detoxifying violently from drugs, her skin was pale and her breath was fast and ragged. Her stomach lurched as tears fell freely down her cheeks.
Loki's hands shook as he opened the cabinet, jerky movements splashed the amber liquid unevenly into the glass.
He gulped it down, hardly aware of the sharp burn the alcohol caused as it trickled down his throat.
He poured another.
He brought his arm up in a wide arc.
An ancient looking split, humid air hissed into the warm office.
A plant crept all over the cool surface, its long twisting stems clinging to the smooth walls like magnets, a multitude of small black orchid-like flowers hung from the creepers. Just hidden behind it was a small clear box, each with a card, an impression of the flower that held them imprinted upon each.
"How?" Loki moaned.
They fawn over each other like lovers.
The lie broadcast to the world.
Feeding each other.
Touching each other.
Comforting each other.
As if the love was real.
But I know the truth.
It's a lie.
Can't she see I know, Can't willow see my love, my message.
But the witch's spell must be strong.
I must break it.
She must see my love, my protection.
Perhaps my next gift will.
Anya was not happy. Cordelia was late, she'd left early and now wasn't home.
It was wrong.
Heavy banging on the door interrupted her brooding sulk.
If that's Cordy, I'm gonna
"What this mean?" Faith pushed the small card into Anya face, pushing her way into the small apartment.
Willow wished she didn't have to leave Tara, her girlfriend was upset, the flowers were terrifying her, but their afternoon classes were at the opposite end of campus. She pushed the key into the door.
It swung open, and Willow first vision was of purple and yellow.
Tara backed out of her room, fear and confusion marring her face, her room was filled with orangey-yellow flowers, stuffed into her small room till her dark occult walls were now a sea of the ugly flowers. They were everywhere draws, shelves, walls, floors and they even bulged out from her books.
Sitting proudly like a great work of art was a blown up version of the card, clearer now in its complex pattern of twisted green stems and delicately drawn black flowers.
Tara could feel the tears fall down her cheeks.
"Cordelia will be back soon." Anya stuttered.
"Yeah well perhaps she and I could have a little talk."
"You hurt her "
"Whatever, the flower, what is so important about a black orchid." Faith loomed over Anya, her body language nervous. "Tell me." She growled again.
"Its Loki's symbol, it's the symbol of the daywalker. Someone knows who Tara's father is."
"But why would it scare her? I thought she couldn't know."
"She can't, but Loki never plays by the rules he sends a birthday present to his daughters every year, the card too. Okay." Anya snapped.
"T-to his d-daughters?"
"Yes can you go now." Faith nodded.
A key twisted in the lock.
"Hi Honey I'm home." Cordelia called. "Anya. You in." Cordelia breathed a sigh of relief, quickly moving to a small cabinet she hide a small book behind a small clock.
"Whatcha doing?" Anya called stepping into the living room.
"Jeez woman." Cordy jumped, "you scared me."
"Heh what's wrong?"
"You left without waking me, and I didn't see you for lunch and you're late, and I had to go to a Scooby meeting and listen to Giles." Cordelia grinned at her girlfriend.
"I'm sorry, I was busy at work all day, had an early start."
Faith heard the sounds of kissing.
"Better." Cordy whispered breathlessly.
Oh god. Faith groaned as she heard Anya moan.
Something cluttered in the front room, papers collided with the floor.
"Oh god Cordy."
"I want you." Cordy growled.
"Fuck." Clothes ripped.
She could see Cordy as she shimmied backwards into the doorway, jeans flew across the doorway. Anya kissed her way up Cordy's flat stomach, the women beneath lifted up into that probing mouth, Faith closed her eyes.
A flash, a fantasy passed across her eyelids she's kissing her way up Buffy's stomach, the smaller slayer's body writhes beneath, her skin is hot against her mouth, she tastes like she smells, but that is only a fleeting tease against that magnificent flavour
A gasp brought her to the present. Cordy flipped Anya over, their bodies moved tightly together as mouth battle to devour each other.
"Cordy!" Anya breathed as if air were precious, the taller brunette was tasting deeply of her skin, her neck became chest, the worshipping
mouth moves down, her bra is shredded by hands frantic expose the flesh beneath, Buffy looks into her eyes, light blue turned purple by pure desire, the head dips, a damp, heavenly warmth envelopes her chest
you." Anya jerked uncontrollably as Cordy's warm mouth leaves her chest, exposing superheated skin to unnaturally cold air, but she shuddered for a different reason a the mouth continued its tortuous journey downwards
Fuck." Faith moans as her sensitive skin twitches under the blonde's lips, her body anticipating the others destination.
Anya begged as fingers danced across hot, sensitive skin, brushing through short fine hairs
Faith almost explodes as Buffy's mouth touches her, the world disappears into the sensations jerking inside her, as that warmth envelopes her, fingers and mouth start to work as one, her world shatters like a mirror into a thousand pieces
"Cordy!" Anya screamed as the orgasm over take her.
Heavy breathing was the only noise in the suddenly quiet flat
She can feel Buffy's warm breath against her skin, she catches the blue eyes, any tiredness is banished by the mischievous and triumphant look sparkling in them, daring her too fall asleep
Anya growled as Cordy kissed her way up her body, rolling them over so she was on top, hips pressed down holding her partner tight in that position
Buffy squirms playfully underneath Faith's sudden, dominant move. Faiths lips capture hers, her own taste sparking off need. There's no desire to tease, to be gentle, that can come later, now only passion fuels her, want, have, take. Buffy's thighs grasp a her hand a the warm silk covers it, it hardly moves at all but Buffy jerks hard against its invasion
Cordelia gasped as Anya clamps down on her movement, clearly marking her control, her need, their eyes lock as she gives, her gasps, moans, half formed words grow more fevered as the hand moves harder and faster within her
Faith can feel Buffy approach, see the battle in the eyes, one to close and give into the release threatening her or keep them locked letting the other women see the result of their coupling. The battle is lost, her body arc, her eyes close tightly, she holds back no longer
Cordelia lungs burst with the most primal of screams. They just collapsed into each other their strength spent, their skin sweaty and sensitive seems to merge into one as they lay panting in each others, exchanging small kisses and words only they can understand keeping their passion a simmering ember, but it was more about love, each basked in the others sunlight.
Faith cried quietly in the wardrobe, angry at the universe showing her what her heart needs but can not have.
Willow cradled Tara against her shoulder, the familiar silkiness of her hair quieted her own fears, while the blond took comfort in the gentle smell of her lovers warm body.
"Ms Rosenberg, Ms Maclay if I may?" The detective coughed awkwardly as he interrupted the intimate scene.
"Come on hon," She felt Tara nod against her neck, and the embrace broke apart gently, though neither women was neither willing nor able to break their connection completely.
"Can you tell me what happened?" He asked gently, he could see the distress that lined their faces.
"I c-c-came b-b-b-back, a-a-and t-t-the the f-f-f-f-f-f-f f-flowers w-w-were t-th-there."
"The same happened to you Ms. Rosenberg?"
"Yes, I went back to my dorm room after lunch and my side of the room as filled with flowers."
"Now you've both been receiving flowers all day correct?"
"Yes" Willow answered when she saw Tara disappear behind her long hair. "A red cabbage rose, and enchanters nightshade, Tara received a bramble branch and a yellow rose, hers each had this card attached." Willow gave Tara a comforting squeeze, the blonde rested her head against Willow shoulder.
"The Black orchid?"
"Yes, but I didn't?"
"And do these flowers mean?" The Detective had an idea where this case was heading and what it meant. Sick Fucks, he spat mentally.
Tara looked up surprised at the detective's question she nodded.
"Okay what?" Tara looked pained, Willow turned her face so she could catch Tara's eyes, "You can do this, I'm here." She spoke firmly, but encouragingly.
"The cabbage rose means, please be my love; the enchanters nightshade you fascinate and bewitch me; the wild pansies your always in my thoughts." She paused taking a deep breath, her eyes had never left her girlfriends, Willow smiled and mouthed 'I love you.'
Tara blushed deeply.
The Detective waited.
"The bramble, the blackberry flower means envy, the yellow rose jealousy, the tansy intense hostility."
"And the black orchid?"
"I d-don't know," she broke away from Willow's for the first time in her speech.
"Its okay. I know neither of you want to hear this, but this, this kind of case is often carried out by someone you don't know, or only in passing" Yeah but that doesn't feel right here its gonna be someone real close to them, his internal voice piped up. "But I have to know have either of you broke up with someone recently or a relationship ending badly."
Willow stiffened. Ah-ha, his internal voice shouted, he agreed with it totally.
She nodded, "My ex-boyfriend, I found him cheating, he left, I haven't seen him since."
"Oz, Daniel Osbourne."
"Okay what does he look like?"
"He's shorter than me, with short dark hair, though he did kinda like to dye it funny colours, he was, is a musician, drove a big van. Sorry" Willow added meekly as she finished.
"Its okay, now's probably not the best time, I'll need a list of your friends too."
"So I don't get nervous when you're talking to them okay?" He smiled. "Now I suggest you go somewhere you both feel safe, but keep it to yourself Actually you better tell me, I'll have a patrol check up on you, and I'll work with campus security to keep an eye on you on campus okay. Don't worry, I'll catch them. I promise." He locked eyes with them both.
"Thank you, er we'll be at Giles' I think."
"Who?" The detective frowned.
"Sorry Mr. Rupert Giles, he's the old high school librarian "
Faith was still trying to shake off the lingering numbness of her vision/fantasy as she walked up to Tara's dorm room, she didn't notice the man lingering outside until way too late.
He just screamed cop!
"Hi can I help you?"
"Yeah I'm looking for Tara Maclay?" The detective's eyes narrowed, this girl wasn't on his list, but she wasn't a he, either.
"We share a class, just wanted to see if she picked the notes, I missed today's lecture."
"Sorry she's not here?"
"Why?" Faith blurted before she could stop herself.
"Someone broke into her dorm room," he noticed Faith's eyes narrow, so you know what's going on he thought, but you didn't no about this. "Who are you?"
"Just a friend you know where she went?"
"I'm afraid not." Both knew that the other was lying now.
Faith nodded slightly to herself, "Okay I'll just catch her in class then, hope you catch whoever did it."
"Don't worry I will."
Loki felt the air twist and shimmer as someone used magic to enter his room. Cool pale arms encircled his shoulder and sharp teeth nibbled at his neck.
He felt her stiffen, it hadn't been one of lust.
He spun before she could even blink.
She was pinned hard against the wall, nails now sharp dug into skin, superhuman strength crushed her throat.
She looked up in fear, his face had contorted into vampiric form, and his black eyes seemed to glow with anger and hatred.
"Who is it Bethany?"
"Who is sending my daughter these." A card was thrust into her vision.
"I don't know." He tossed her across the room, but was soon on her again, both hands clutching at her throat.
"L-L-Loki, I d-don't know, t-truly." She whimpered.
"If you're lying, I will rip off your wings and feed them to you. Understand?" He dropped her.
"Yes, I understand, but could it be your fault." He twisted towards her, she stepped back at the fury that greeted her. "Your gift each year."
He chuckled, it was an evil sound. "Only one of your kind would dare to break the agreement, or be aware of its meaning." He spat.
She nodded at his logic, "its not sanctioned by either of them though."
He shrugged, "Whoever it is I want to know." His voice softened slightly, letting a little of his own worry set in.
"I'll try Loki, they're my daughters too remember." She spoke softly.
"Yes, I know." His voice and features had returned to normal, the dark glow gone from his black eyes. He stroked her cheek softly, "I know, I'm sorry."
She nodded, then grinned. "Do I have to go yet?" Her own face twisting slightly.
He growled again.
"Are you sure this has nothing to do with Faith?" Giles asked the group sitting in his living room.
Tara shook her head. Anya let out a definite "No," while Buffy snorted, "That's way too clever for her."
"Yes I suppose your right, it does strike me as a little to subtle for her. But if not who?"
"Oz." Anya muttered. "Yeah," Cordelia agreed. "You know ex-boyfriend, discovers you've gone all rainbow pride on us, it'd send most men off the deep end, and that whole werewolf thing, can't be good for the mental stability thing."
Riley attending his first meeting since the Faith fiasco blurted "Yeah aren't werewolves meant to be real protective of their mates." His mind caught up "Oz was a werewolf?"
Buffy rolled his eyes from where she was perched on his lap. "Yeah, but I though he was kind of a cool character, not one to go off the deep end."
"True but look what he did to that Veruca-chick." Cordelia countered.
"I believe Riley's right, werewolves are notoriously protective of partners, though I've never heard of one going so off the deep end, when their in the wrong, as Oz was, its more of a noble sacrifice ending." Giles interrupted.
"Umm, when I was a vengeance demon, it was a case of leaving something sharp and silver lying around. But Willow did cheat first, then go all gay, best decision she ever made too, so who knows."
"Hey!" Giles, Buffy and Riley called, while Willow and Tara blushed and Cordelia just grinned indulgently.
"Wait a sec you were a vengeance demon?" Riley said, though it was a more 'it all makes sense' rather then anything else, though the dangerous look he got from both women kept it at bay.
Oh my god.
They are so fucking easy!
She was right.
This won't be hard at all.
Everything will be mine.
You are a genius.
Fake. Fake. Fake. Fake.
Ahh she's back, that calming voice. Showing me the future.
All that blood. All that Pain.
My enemies dead.
My Willow mine.
I can almost taste her, hear her. My voice on her lips.
I can't help but shudder.
I want it now. She's so close.
Oh. Oh. Oh. Its time for my next gift.
"You okay Buffy." Riley said as he ran his fingers along her back.
"Just worried that's all."
"Don't worry, you'll get him."
"Do you think you could capture him, experiment that sort of thing."
"Buffy." Giles' said harshly.
"Sorry, but its just creepy, and they won't kill him, maybe help, but you know with electricity." She grinned, showing she was joking.
Giles rolled his eyes. Slayers. "Anyway you said Tara received a card with her flowers?"
"Yeah, a "
Willow and Tara looked fearfully at the door, guessing what was behind it.
"Buffy." The blond slayer nodded.
Faith shoved the deliveryman against a nearby wall, she'd watched him deliver two further packages, she recognised the name on his jacket as one of the flower shops she'd been in earlier.
"Who paid for the flowers?" She growled into his ear, he was taller and bulkier than her, but she was using all her slayer strength to scare him into talking.
"I-I-I d-d-don't k-know." She could hear the fear in his voice.
"Fuck. Nothing?" She snarled.
"N-n-no I w-was told to deliver a rose to this address, at this time."
"A rose what about the other package, the box?"
"Some g-guy g-gave it to me."
"When?" She pressed hard against his neck and chest.
"Five m-minutes ago, he paid me fifty bucks to deliver it at the same time."
"W-what did he look like?"
"Real short, b-blue hair, grungy, clean but like he'd been wearing them for a while ya know." Faith nodded.
"Your gonna wait here, the cops a be along soon, you tell them this 'kay, but I wasn't here. Understand?" She smiled sweetly at this, it terrified him even more, it wasn't a warm smile, but a deadly one, and he understood it's meaning.
The girl was gone before he'd finished nodding his head.
Willow would have thought the single thornless white rose pretty under any different circumstances, but now it was an ugly, evil thing. Tara had yet to bring herself to open the small, grubby white box that had also arrived.
"Its okay. Shall I do it?" Tara looked gratefully up into the Englishmen's kind face.
Carefully Giles opened the box, lifting out the small card that rested on top of a plastic bag.
"Basil." Buffy frowned, "why would he send Basil?"
"It means I hate you." Cordelia answered, everyone stared at her, eyes narrowing. "What, Xander kept sending me flowers, each with a meaning, like forgive me, I'm so sorry, I love you. So I sent him basil leaves. He never got it. Men." She went back to bored disinterest, gently playing with Anya's hair.
"Well A white rose means heavenly love, creature or I'm worthy of you, Angel used to send me flowers too." Buffy's statement faded off as everyone turned to look at her.
"So he's telling Willow and Tara his feelings towards them." Riley stated the obvious.
"Yes." Giles mumbled he'd not yet looked up from the card. "Can I keep this?"
Tara shook her head violently, "N-no."
"You know when I was a demon, I'd "
"Anya!" Everyone groaned automatically.
The two pale figures were stars of colour against the black night of the sheets, though while Bethany was a splash of garish colour amongst its folds, Loki seemed to merge into them, like a faint, pale fog vanishing into the night.
A phone crashed into their peace. Bethany groped for the phone, small red marks, like rapidly healing love bites line her pale skin.
"Hello," she winced slightly as she turned over to talk. "Faith." She whispered. "Yes he is. Loki," she prodded the slumbering form beside her, "its Faith."
He moved in a blur. "Faith?" The sleep all but gone from his clipped voice, "A werewolf? An ex. Yes, I'll send someone. You'll have everything you'll need. Night, and Faith be careful."
"It would seem, our daughter's lover's ex was a werewolf, he's been sending the flowers."
"But what about the cards?" That prevented Loki from a peaceful slumber, what about the cards?
Tara's nose twitched as hair tickled it, automatically she nuzzled into the warmth that lay just beyond her. She purred against the skin.
Tara let out a little squeak, as the redhead twisted causing he hair to tickle a sensitive spot.
"You awake?" Willow whispered.
"No my eye are closed I'm still asleep." Tara groaned.
"Mine too, I'm afraid to open them, 'cause I now its late, and I'll see the clock, and I'll have to get up, and I don't wanna, enjoying sleep. And you." She grinned as she felt the blonde's pout against her back.
"Mmm, good plan. If we don't open our eyes we can't see the sun, we can claim its night and still be a sleep."
Willow giggled. "That was almost a babble." She turned around, neither had opened their eyes yet, not needing too.
"It's your fault."
"I'm a bad girl." Willow giggled, it was cut short as lips met.
"Very bad." Tara gasped.
"Willow, Tara breakfast, and class."
Both groaned together. "He'll have cooked bacon and [shudder] black pudding."
"I'm a vegetarian."
"Have you told him?"
"No," Willow giggled, "I can't." Both started to giggle.
"Girls you have class." His voice was louder, he was probably standing outside the door. It was about as far as his Englishness would allow him to come.
"Coming." Both rolled over, blinking against the light that shone brightly against sleepy eyes.
It wasn't a white light though, dark and light purple marred it, flower like shadows were painted across the room.
Tara started to scream.
Faith could still taste the phantom Buffy from her vision yesterday, it had grown stronger in the passing hours, not weaker, driving sleep from her body and tears from her eyes. She sat on the plain, hard bed, constantly tracing her fingers over her crumpled picture. Afraid to touch its surface, in case the colours ran and the frozen moment of happiness disappeared forever.
The heavy metal door echoed heavily as someone knocked at it.
"Coming." Faith mumbled, carefully, reverently putting the picture down
"Yeah?" She snapped as she yanked the door open. Her slayer senses went mad as she stared at the huge, lumbering thing that loomed over her at the door.
"Faith?" It rumbled.
"Y-y-yes," she stuttered, suddenly afraid.
"Mr Loki sent me."
"Oh, c-come in?" She offered weakly.
The thing shifted it large hooded head. "I don't think that would be practical." It offered almost sheepishly. "I have a number of items for you."
"Okay." Large scaled hands, tipped with horrid looking talons appeared, the long limbs reached the bed from there. Two items, ludicrously small against those massive, deadly looking things, more weapon than hand.
"The case contains a handgun and a supply of silver bullets," delicate movements which should have been alien to those claws opened the case, an amazingly worked handgun rested in velvet, its sleek black shelled gleamed as bright as the bullets that accompanied it. "This," he unwrapped two large syringes, "is a cure for lycanthropy, but it must be administered within twelve hours of the bite, or it will not work."
"Cool, I didn't think there was a cure."
"Yes, but it takes three days to prepare, and its ingredients are very rare, it is often too late to administer it in time." She thought she could hear sadness in its voice.
"Thanks anything else."
"No, Mr Loki said to be careful."
"Hey, thanks." She called as the thing lumbered in an awkward turn. She thought she saw a tail and wings shift under the great coat.
"None needed, just be careful." It called back.
"How is she doctor?" Giles asked.
"I've had to sedate her, she'll sleep most of the day."
"Will it be okay to move her?"
"I believe so, I'll doubt she'll even know, but do so gently and she might be distressed if she wakes up in unfamiliar surroundings."
Giles nodded "Than you, can I get you anything?"
"No, I must be going, but please call me if there is any change."
"I will." They shook hands as the doctor left the house.
"Any idea how he got in Mr. Giles." The detective called from the kitchen.
"No, the doors and windows were locked."
"Damn, and he left a card?"
"Yes, again the black flower against a white background."
"Any idea what it means, I know it's not an orchid?"
"I'm afraid not detective." The detective noticed the slight pause in the older mans statement.
"It is important." He pressed, but he could see the Englishmen wasn't going to be pressed. "What about this one?" He waved a white flower at the other man.
"It's a Lobelia, it means unadulterated malevolence towards the receiver."
The detective whistled, "That's one hell of a message."
"Well, I've got to be going I have to talk with Ms Rosenberg, I've arranged to meet her after class, I thought it best she go, perhaps I can catch the bastard in the open eh?"
"Yes." If it is he, Giles mind worked, he didn't notice the detective leave, he focused on the dark flower on the card. "No not an orchid, something worse." He gave a worried mumble.
I can see her.
Yet still she can't see me.
I'm pure. I'm good.
My love is real.
Yet she clings to that bitch.
How can I show her?
What must I do?
Faith watched as a pale and scared looking Willow exited her class, she was relieved Buffy didn't emerge from the room as well, her senses still tingled from yesterday, the memories so real, she whished it would just go.
Faith was also worried. Tara hadn't showed for her class, and the redhead didn't look too good.
Please god, let nothing have happened, she pleaded. The blonde's survival was becoming way too complicated, but in way Faith wanted to deal with without a bad ending.
Getting sentimental girl.
She lost Willow in a crowd of students.
"Hey Ms. Rosenberg." Faith recognised the voice from last night, the detective she lowered cap further, as she moved closer.
"The Doctor had to sedate her."
Faith gulped, oh shit.
"I should go."
"No, if you're being closely watched, I'm going to get him okay, if you're in the open he make try to make contact or step into view. Then pow, the good guys strike, so don't worry."
Willow nodded. "It's hard."
"I know, but I deal with these freaks everyday, I'm good at my job, whether they're after a movie star or cleaning lady, I always get them."
"Promise?" Willow mumbled.
Faith almost laughed, but she agreed with the cop, though she was sure she'd get there first, she got the feeling the cop wouldn't be overly bothered about that outcome.
"I'll buy you lunch okay, I'll tell you about the stars I've met and ruin all our secret crushes." He grinned.
"W-W-what about Nicole Kidman?" Willow whispered smiling slightly.
"Okay, not all of them, that one would ruin me too." He gave a wide grin, as they disappeared in another melee of people.
When they were clear Faith notice the cop just stop, his face pale, his eyes darted from Willow's bag to the crowd.
"He's here." He shouted, men started to move, guns were drawn.
Sticking out of Willow's bag was a sprig from a tree, its large bunch of small white flowers clear against the brown wool of the bag's coverings.
Faith stood watching stock still as panic set in around her, her face a clear mirror of the confusion sitting on the detectives.
"It was horrible Giles, it was just there, he'd been so close, b-but he got away." Willow sobbed into her tea.
"Its okay Willow. Buffy, Riley even Cordelia and Anya are all out looking for him."
"Isn't that d-dangerous?"
"No, Willow I'm not sure if it is Oz."
"What do you mean?"
"Do you recognise this?" He held up the small card that had come with Tara's flowers.
"Yes it came with Tara's flowers."
"No do you know what it is?"
"It's a very rare plant, it looks like an orchid, but its not, its called a blackbell, or Heaven's Drop. It's the symbol of a very powerful, and very evil being, the daywalker, he's like evil's version of the slayer."
"I think he's after Tara, not you."
"I don't know, but I know this, the current daywalker works for Wolfram and Hart "
"Where's Tara Giles?"
The door burst open. The detective rocketed in. "Where's Willow?" He breathed heavily. "You really should lock that." He aid distracted.
"This came for you, pretty clear threat" He produced a bouquet of white roses, some opened some not, "It seems he thinks you're unworthy of earthly love." He tossed them on the table as if they were filthy.
"Oh god Tara."
Tara awoke with a headache beginning to form at the corners of her eyes, her head was groggy and fuzzy, as if emerging from a deep and heavy sleep.
"Where am I?" She croaked fear touching at her voice. Unsteadily she headed towards the door it creaked open.
The light stuck her, flaring the forming headache into mind numbing reality.
"Oh your awake." A happy voice called at her there was a motherly quality about. "I thought I heard someone moving."
"Where am I?"
"God, where are my manners. I'm Joyce Summers, Buffy's mum, your in our home. Now would you like something to drink or eat, you've been asleep all day."
"So your Willows girlfriend?"
"That's nice, I know she went out with Oz, but you now I always wondered, you know, the way she looked at Buffy sometimes at the beginning."
"Don't worry, that was years ago, now it's more like ." She did a wonderful copy of Willow's annoyed come frustrated face.
Tara giggled. "Recognise it huh."
"W-when I-I m-mention c-c-c-computers."
"I'll bet. Toast okay, perhaps a little jam or marmalade, nothing too hard okay?"
"Thank you." She said as she sipped at her milk, liking Mrs Summers immediately.
"So how did you meet?"
"At a w-w-wicca meeting, y-you know w-when e-e-everyone l-lost t-their voice."
"Oh those awful Gentlemen monsters."
"Y-y-yes." Tara was shocked.
"Yes I got a crash course in Sunnydale's other inhabitants and Buffy's place in them, you know I had zombies gatecrash a party. So you met when you lost your voices?"
"W-we m-moved a v-vending m-machine t-to stop t-them g-getting us." Joyce looked momentarily upset, "w-when w-we c-cast I-it was ." She blushed.
"Magical huh?" Tara nodded. "Good for you, I wish it for Buffy, hell I wish I had that sometimes." Tara grinned.
"Oh by the way a package came for you." Joyce said absently as she went to butter the toast that had popped. "A striped rose it was really pretty, but had the strangest card, a black flower, I thought it was a witch thing. Buffy said you and Willow were wit "
The back door slammed shut, cutting off Joyce's words.
He grinned as he watched her run through the park.
He grinned as he felt the transformation over take him, it would allow him take justice for Willow against the thing that tortured her.
He would get his mate back.
He was glad he listened now.
Its mind became simpler more primal, no longer about mortal concerns of justice and revenge, just prey and taking back what was its.
It was on her in a second.
Its prey was already screaming when it attacked.
Its excitement grew when the scream became laced with fear and pain.
It howled in triumph as the preys blood seeped through its claws and the smell of blood twitched at his nose.
It growled with hunger.
Triumph, it howled once more as its jaws descended.
Chapter Four: "Spinning into Darkness."
"I was thinking all about her, burning with rage and desire
We were spinning into darkness; the earth was on fire
She could take it back, she might take it back someday
So I spy on her, I lie to her, I make promises I cannot keep
The I hear her laughter rising, rising from the deep
And I make her prove her love for me, I take all that I can take
And I push her to the limit to see if she will break."5
Teeth. They filled, at that precise moment, her entire universe, more than the hot rancid breath that battered her soft skin, more than the growling that burst her eardrums like a never ending thunderstorm. It was it's teeth, those horrid yellow stained teeth, so bright against the vivid pink of its hunter's mouth. The mouth that seemed to be filled with an endless supply of those blunt instruments, which whether long or small seemed to whisper brutality, and promise death.
Her face tightened as she tried to hold back the tears, and keep in the fear that threatened to overwhelm her. Its emotionless black eyes, that hung above her, began to crinkle with a gloating triumph as they watched its prey slowly give into to its terror.
Her sobs were drowned out by its howl of joy and victory.
It darted down suddenly.
Her mouth began to work in a silent scream, as her neck erupted with a thousands pinpricks of pain. Its crushing jaws though, stole her voice from her. She could feel warmth trickle rapidly down her neck and upper body, it was in stark contrast to the cold that tickled at the edges of her consciousness. Her mind broke as the unvoicable pain screamed deep with her, it rang so loudly her ears burst and her vision turned a bright red.
A deep, eternal blackness ripped it's through the red, as though ragged patches grew, the pain seemed to grow distant, slowly disappearing into the encompassing dark.
Loki's face twisted with disgust, "This is good work Holland." The words came out slowly, as if each were painful.
Holland didn't even try to hide his smirk.
"Though you will make sure it doesn't live after its mission."
"Of course," the other lawyer agreed. "Once the vampire has been neutralised, and it has helped us gain our new associate, its return portal will suffer and unrecoverable and fatal failure."
"Excellent, of course you may proceed, though do so quickly. The necessary it " The ringing of a telephone halted the discussion.
"Yes?" He barked, regretting sending his secretary home early. " Hello Hello who is this?" His tone grew angry. " Who is this? Hello? Faith Faith's what's wrong? Faith is Tara alright?" His voice cracked, almost pleading, the other lawyer instantly forgotten. "Faith, please what's wrong?" He whispered.
"No." The word was delivered in a stolen breath, Holland watched as his strength was blown away in the blink of an eye, leaving him suddenly physically tiny and weak. His body began to shudder and twitch uncontrollably, and emotions danced violently across his face, his black eyes lost their spark becoming dull and dead.
He straightened as suddenly as he had collapsed, his body giving itself up to an unnatural stillness. "Thank-you, Faith, I'll be there shortly." His English accent was now precise and cold.
"Yes Thank-you." The detective placed the phone gently back into its place, he stood watching it quietly, he was frowning deeply as if pondering a great and complex puzzle.
"Detective?" Giles prompted.
"Do you know what purple columbine means?" He asked absently.
"Y-yes." Giles stuttered, rapidly growing pale. He leaned heavily against the table.
"What's wrong?" Willow asked, not wanting to understand the reactions of the two men.
The detective ignored her, his eyes never straying from the shiny, plastic of the phone, "And?"
"I conquer you." The detective nodded at the Englishman's quiet answer.
"What's wrong?" The red head demanded, her voice cracking slightly as she saw Giles begin to shake. She stared into his eyes, her own eyes widened at the deep mournful pain that echoed in the older man's.
"N-N-No." Her head shook rapidly as she spook the simple word. "Your wrong!" She spat out, not noticing the tears that started to fall down her cheeks.
The detective turned to her, "Willow I'm sorry, but Tara's d "
"Don't say it!" She screamed.
He walked slowly towards her, his own eyes clouding with tears. "I'm so sorry, they just found her, she w-w-was "
"No you lying. She! Is! Not! Dead!" She spat forcefully, "Giles tell him he's wrong."
The reserved Englishmen turned away from her pleading eyes.
She spun towards the detective. "You lied!" She spat her voice filled with venom. "You promised to keep her safe!" She sobbed out. "You promised!" She repeated over and over again giving into the tears as he enveloped her.
"I know," he whispered. "I'm so sorry."
Yes! Yes! Yes!
I can hardly walk.
People must think I've gun mad.
I don't care.
My head spins, it was so beautiful all that glorious red.
It was so much better than I'd imagined.
Gutted. Bleeding. Dead.
like electricity as I gave her, her final.
I'm still tingling now.
Even she's singing.
I can barely hold myself together, I want to jump, skip, sing.
She's all mine! Mine! Mine! Mine!
Anya looked up at Cordelia her eyes bright and wet, glowing in the restaurants soft lighting.
"Do you like it? I've been saving for months, I looked at it everyday to make sure it was still there. Do you like it? I can take it back, if you don't "
"I love it." The ex-demoness stuttered interrupting Cordy's babble.
"Youdo!Sowillyou?" She rushed out quickly. Anya's face seemed to grow into one giant radiant smile, her eyes sparkled with joy, despite the tears that fell so freely.
Cordy's breath left her body in a rush as Anya landed heavily in her lap, any words were stolen from her as lips passionately captured her own.
"Yes Ms Chase I will marry you." Anya croaked emotionally into the brunette's ear, before urgent hands pulled her back onto hungry lips.
"Ahem." A waiter coughed. "I'm sorry to interrupt, but there is an urgent phone call for you Ms Chase." He stammered out, blushing under their intense gaze.
Giles rocked the distraught redhead in his arms, quietly humming a meaningless tune as he tried to comfort her.
"So what do I have to kill, Giles." Buffy snarled angrily, hating to see the redhead women so distraught.
"It was Oz, according to the detective Tara was " He trailed off, not wanting to form the images in his own mind.
Buffy nodded, "Bad huh?"
"Yes, but " Giles whispered. "The way they found the flower and card suggested a human mind."
Giles shook his head, "He would be unable to think clearly enough to do that."
"You know what Dorothy, you are really fucking stupid." Faith snarled into Oz's ear. She tightened the cord around the now human Oz's neck.
"What?" He groaned as he gasped for air.
"Shut up!" She growled, twisting the knot even tighter. "I'm asking the questions. Got it?" She kicked away his legs, he began to grope desperately for air Faith pressed down heavily on his legs, pulling him upwards and blood began to trickle from underneath the rope. "Oh by the way this won't kill ya," she whispered as she jerked the rope. "But bad dogs need to be put on a leash." She grinned wickedly jerking him back to his feet.
"You know I always wanted a big sister Dottie." His face started to turn blue. "I was so happy, you know I was gonna stop ya, hell I was even gonna do it quick. Then me and her were gonna talk, get to know each other. I loved her and I didn't even get to know her, so you gonna tell me why I don't get to have a family."
Almost tenderly she scrapped a knife along his cheek, the skin sizzled as the silver blade danced along his skin. "Oh just so ya know," she whispered casually, "you and quick are no longer an option. 'Kay?" He could hear the evil, manic grin that accompanied the words.
"But he was there right?" Giles nodded. "Good, he'll know where Faith and that Nightwalker "
"Daywalker" Giles corrected automatically, "but yes your right."
"So tell me about him?"
"No-one is entirely sure if his origins, but like the slayer a new one is called on the death of the last. They are born into bodies that have been turned, but unlike true vampires they remain partially mortal, hence the name Daywalker. They are quite powerful, they tend to either be very strong or very magickal, rarely both "
Buffy was rooting around in his weapons chest, "I'm sure this is really interesting, but how do I kill him?"
"Oh." Giles stammered sheepishly, "staking, beheading, even gunfire have been known to kill them in the past."
"Cool." Buffy grinned.
"Ahh Anya, perhaps you could provide some assistance." Giles said without greeting as the bubbling couple burst into his front room.
"God, what no 'Hello', and people say I'm rude." Cordy admonished as she pulled Anya down onto the settee.
"Anyway." Giles said ignoring the comment. "Do you know anything about the legend of the Daywalker?"
"W-W-W-Why?" stammered Anya.
"We believe he maybe behind, that he " He stumbled over the words, and the blood soaked images it conjured. "That he was behind Tara's murder."
"What?" Anya shouted. "She's dead?" She stood panic spreading across her face. "Oh god, oh god, oh god."
"Hon what's wrong?" Cordelia tried to grab her shaking lover, shocked at the fear evident in her eyes.
"That is so not good, he's gonna be seriously pissed."
"Anya what do you mean? Who's going to be p upset?"
"We should run, far, far away."
"Hon, what's. Going. On?" Cordy spoke slowly, firmly trying to get through Anya's rapidly approaching hysteria.
"Loki, a Morrigu half cast, the current daywalker and Tara's father."
Loki gently ran his fingers through Tara's hair, his body shook with grief. "My poor baby girl, I'm so sorry, I tried so hard." He nuzzled her cheek softly. "You are so beautiful, so very beautiful." He whispered reverently he began to stroke her hair again.
The air shimmered around him, a huge scaly form seemed contract in the whirlpool of sizzling energy. A man calmly cricked his neck as the maelstrom of energy disappeared, he shifted muscles as if trying to fit a much larger form into a suit many sizes too small.
"You called?" He snarled.
"A Morrigu?" Giles stammered, "aren't they "
"Evil incarnate? Dark Mages? Descendants of Dragons? Yep all of the above."
"But aren't they obsessed with maintaining their 'purity'?"
"Obsessed, down right homicidal, is more accurate."
"Then how come?" Giles had heard that the Morrigu had destroyed entire nations, down to the last child, to remove a half-cast line.
"Cause Killian, the father of the first daywalker, petitioned the powers that be. Their price for his line's survival, the head of the Morrigu King. He gave them the entire Royal Family, they gave him what he wanted, the survival of his children for eternity."
"Your boy ain't coming." Faith called to the dark figure. "Faith?" Blonde hair shone in the moonlight, as the dark figure twisted suddenly towards the unexpected voice.
"Hiya B." Faith said cheerfully as she levelled her gun at Buffy's head. "How ya been?"
The blonde slayer shrugged, a sly grin spreading across her face. "Not too bad, but what are you doing here?"
"Just out for a walk, it's a nice night, thought I'd visit old friends ya know?"
Buffy stepped forward.
"Don't move B, just stay there." Faith ordered, gesturing with the pistol.
"You sure Faith." Buffy began to drawl, "wouldn't you want me right here." With slayer speed Buffy slipped passed Faith's guard, stopping less than a hair's width from Faith body. "Are you sure?" She began to run her hands up Faith's sides, gently teasing the darker slayer, the gun trembled. "Yeah you want me right here don't you Faith." She stood on tip toe to whisper huskily in he ear, running her hands through Faith's long dark hair. "Umm so soft," she moaned running her tongue along Faith's skin, "so nice." The blonde's hands travelled down her body, her small hands quickly finding the sensitive parts of Faith's body.
Faith moaned, enjoying the way the blonde's hands seemed to know her body. "You want me don't you Faith." She started to kiss her way up the brunette's chest and neck. "Want. Have. Take." She grabbed Faith's hair hard, pulling the taller girl into a hard kiss.
Faith pushed Buffy away, tears starting to stream down her face. "Why B, why did ya do it? Why?"
Buffy laughed. "'Cause I could. Cause I want " Faith slapped her.
"Don't give me that bullshit. You don't want Willow, its this." She threw the card at the fallen blonde.
She began to laugh, "Oh well done Faith. I didn't think a stupid slut like you could work it out."
"Just tell me why B, that's all?"
"You know, I knew you wanted me, I could see every time you came near me. Like I could want you, touch that tainted form, you're vile. You disgust me." Buffy snarled at the trembling dark haired slayer. "But it took it me ages to convince her of that." Buffy started to giggle.
"What?" The gun lowered fractionally, Buffy pounced ripping the gun from Faith hands, the table turned quickly, as Buffy levelled the gun at the girl, now slumped on the floor. "What do you think your daddy's gonna feel when he finds both his daughters dead." Buffy began to giggle.
"Seriously pissed off." A voice seethed in her ear, Buffy turned. Bones shattered under the force of the blow, the blonde slayer's flight was halted with a horrid crunch as she slammed into a tree.
The blonde slayer rose, her eyes burned red, her face contorted with an earth shattering rage.
"Hello Lorelai, its been an age." Loki snarled. He looked different though, his hair a dishwater blonde, his blue human eyes turned almost black with a rage equal to that of the slayer.
"Loki." Lorelai drawled, "like the new look?" She gestured to the blonde slayers body.
"It suits you."
"Thank-you." She bowed, sarcasm rich in her voice.
"A dumb, blonde." He sneered.
"Not that dumb, I've won, I'll remove the blasphemy." She spat triumphantly.
Loki began to laugh, "My dear Lorelai, you really are quite stupid."
"Shut up! I've won! Look at you, Your line will die, you will die, the obscenity ends!" She all but crowed.
"Yes, I will die, I'm already dead in fact." He smiled and opened his hands, a small blood red pearl glowed in his pale hands. "But then again so will you?"
Lorelai's eyes widened. "No your bluffing, its not mine." Her voiced cracked, a fear lined panic fed her words.
"Oh it is, Mivrelle assured me of that."
"No you're lying!" Her voice broke, she backed away, a small trickle of blood dribbled down her chin.
"Its already begun. Did you really think you would win, wipe out that which was written in royal blood?" He spoke sadly, as the blond began to shiver and shake, as if every muscle in her body was twitching at the same time, over and over again.
"No." Tear of blood began to fall from her eyes, the blue was once again shining through the red. "No!" She screamed again, the body began to shift, muscles began to pop. She doubled over pain, she gagged as if trying to breath in a vacuum, as her body jerked violently.
"You corrupted purity and broke a covenant of blood Lorelai, time to pay." He crushed the pearl. The small women screamed.
The scream became a bubbling gurgle, then with a final jerk Lorelai was ripped from the blonde slayer's body. For an instant Lorelai's spirit stretched out in its full glory, her golden scale rippled in supernatural light, her wings spread wide and her long neck reached for the moon. Her jaws opened and she let out a mournful cry, deep and resonant, filled with an eternal grief. The scales darkened, red veins pulsed out from now black skin, it sizzled and burned, burned by an internal flame, engulfing the spirit from within, and doing so with a relentless hunger. Wings twisted inwards, the membrane evaporated with a hiss, their magnificent fame turned dark, nothing more than smouldering bones. The spirit screamed a final time as the flame engulfed the graceful neck.
The spirit exploded, its death scream instantly forgotten in the wind.
Loki collapsed to the ground, red sand mixed with his own blood as it poured from his hand. His blood, dead for centuries flowed from his mouth in bubbling torrent. Faith crawled forward, her face stained by tears.
"Loki?" She whispered.
He shook his head. "James, James Quinn." His voice was barely a whisper. "Faith, t-take care of them, she'll need y-y-your love m-most. I l-loved you t-though, my d-daughters, n-never forget that." He smiled, "I'm sorry."
Faith watched, his body collapse to the ground like a puppet without its strings as the light just disappeared from his eyes.
Epilogue: "Where Do We Go From Here?"
"There's a silence surrounding me
I can't seem to think straight
I'll sit in the corner
No one can bother me
I think I should speak now
My words won't come out right
I feel like I'm drowning
I'm falling weak now
But I can't show my weakness
I sometimes wonder
Where do we go from here."6
One Month Later
Bethany watched as the young women moved through the office, long black nails gently rang across the rooms understated luxury, eyes that while completely black held a mournful quality, as if whatever joy they had known had been ripped brutally from them.
"Aren't partners offices on the top floor?" Her voice was a rasping whisper, the voice of someone whose voice had been devastated by a great trauma.
"We " Bethany cut Holland off, "Loki was afraid of heights." She gently placed a hand on the women's shoulder, her fingers traced the edges of the long black hair, she gave a comforting smile.
"We can of course move you, ma'am." Holland drawled.
"Yes I'd think I'd like that, the view must be magnificent."
"It is." Bethany agreed gently, feeling the women give a small shudder beneath her fingers. "It will be fine." She whispered, louder she said, "That will be all Holland."
"Of course," he nodded slightly to both women.
"It will be okay." Bethany repeated, "I know it will be hard, but you'll be wonderful, Lo I'm proud of you." She cupped the pale women's chin, and smiled lovingly into in the dark, sad eyes, she smoothed the silk scarf that covered the women's neck. "Now get too work," she said with mock sternness.
The air shimmered behind Bethany, "Oh and Tara, if you need anything, I'll come."
Tara gave her mother a weak smile, before a gentle pop left her alone in the vast office. Silently she moved to her desk, and flipped through the files on it.
Hmm, she thought, this souled vampire Angel, is very interesting.
"Why won't you talk to me
You never talk to me
What are you thinking
What are you feeling
Why won't you talk to me
You never talk to me
What are you thinking
Where do we go from here"
6 months later
"Hey let me say it " Angels voice drifted off as he took in the figure in his reception. She leaned casually against the desk an amused smile dancing over her pretty face.
"Home Sweet Home." She chuckled, there was the barest hint of warmth in her soft voice, with its gentle rasp. She pushed herself away from the work top, her heels clicked as she walked confidently towards them, each step oozed sexuality. The woman was stunningly attractive, the clothes despite their conservative style fit her thin form perfectly, highlighting the natural grace of her body. Her obvious demon heritage did not detract from her pretty face, nor did the very faint white scars that formed an intricate puzzle on her neck.
"What do you want." Angel snarled at the women.
"I just wanted to say welcome home, the firm hopes you had a pleasant trip." She grinned mischievously. "you know the way you treat this grand old place is next to scandalous, the previous owners thought so at least."
"Previous owners?" Angel asked, his stomach starting to growl with fear.
"Yes, I know own the freehold, I plan to lease it Wolfram and Hart, Special Ops needs a new home." She grinned as she slunk passed him, she turned just before the exit.
She didn't see the other person approaching.
"Yes, you have one month to remove you " She collided with the other women, her red hair flared in the fading L.A sun. "Ang " She was calling.
Both women collided, the frantic groping for balance changed in an instant as both reacted on a primal instinctive level. Senses moaned as the past flooded back into the presence, hands moved across lines never forgotten, an electric tingle travelled through both women.
They stepped apart, panting for breath fighting an almost magnetic pull to rest in the others arms.
"W-w-willow." Tara started.
"Tara." Willow breathed out, her body rocked. "They said you were dead." She cried, pain cracking her.
"I-I w-w-was," she automatically fell back on past habits, hiding behind her long black hair. "M-m-my f-father s-saved m-me, I-I b-became h-him."
Willow nodded, unknowingly causing the free flowing tear to fall abruptly, she remembered Faith saying Loki, her father was no longer the Daywalker when he'd confronted the thing inside Buffy.
"That was seven months ago, why didn't you say?" Willow demanded, anger battering its way to the surface.
"I c-couldn't l-look a-at me?" Tara stuttered back weakly, Willow pushed down the lust and love that her former lovers new form evoked in her, turning it into the anger. "Bitch." She spat suddenly, moving to slap the other women.
Superhuman reactions caught the hand before it could strike. They stood staring at each other, their breathing slowly becoming one movement, a unity.
Lust replaced anger behind those green eyes.
Tara jerked Willow into her, crushing their lips together, her small sharp teeth pricked Willow's soft mouth. The red-head responded with an equally violently passion, ignoring the pinpricks as she devoured the other women's mouth, each punishing the other for the last seven months as they let a primal, anger fuelled lust drive them.
The lust burned itself out, love began to remerge in the embrace, it grew softer. Their grips softened, pleasure not pain drove the two women. They moaned as one, more memories returned, blurring into reality as replayed them at that moment.
Wind whipped at them, hard and hot, it drove the stunned spectators back, it crackled with mystical energy. It drove them into the air, spinning rapidly in that vicious tornado, something tore at the fibre of Tara's being, the universe ripped at the very core at her being attempting correct a paradox, driving the daywalker spirit from a body it was never meant to inhabit. Neither women noticed, lost in each other, the joy of the past and the present blurring into one, dominating their very beings. They didn't notice the glow that enveloped them, nor the way it drove a black cloud from Tara's body, like the victorious day driving the night away, and like that event it drove away the evil, leaving only the pulse of life.
Both women collapsed to the grounds, their breaths still moving as one with the soft steady rhythm of sleep, absently Willow nuzzled the soft blond hair of her lover.
"It doesn't have to be this way
All we need to do is keep talking"
As two lovers slept quietly in the warmth of a developing day, in other city, a man screamed, as a monster of the night feeds of his warm blood. The monster is lonely though, she tears her wrist, letting her own blood flow into the dying man's mouth. He is young, handsome, an air of danger surrounded him, he would be a good mate. Suddenly the monster begins to scream, the man continues to suck at her blood, something is breaking out from within. The monster looks down in fear as his eyes flicker open, they are completely black.
They show no emotion as the monster explodes into dust, another Daywalker is born.
"I feel like I'm drowning
You now I can't breathe now
We're going nowhere
We're going nowhere."
1 Sorrow (extract) © Gilmour, 1987 (From Pink Floyd 'A momentary lapse of reason'.
2 Title comes from a Pink Floyd song: "Wish you were here' used without permission, © belongs to Pink Floyd, lyrics by Gilmour and Waters 1974 (from album of same name).
3 Title comes from a Pink Floyd song: 'Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun' used without permission, © belongs to Pink Floyd and Westminster Music Ltd, lyrics by Waters 1968 (from the album 'A Saucerful of Secrets'). Please don't sue, I'm very skint.
4 Title comes from a Pink Floyd song: 'High Hopes' used without permission (just love), © belongs to Pink Floyd and Pink Floyd Music Productions Ltd, lyrics by Gilmour & Samson 1994 (from the album The Division Bell'). Please don't sue, I'm very skint.
5 Title comes from a Pink Floyd song: 'Take it Back' used without permission (just love), © belongs to Pink Floyd and Pink Floyd Music Productions Ltd, lyrics by Gilmour, Samson & Laird-Clowes 1994 (from the album The Division Bell'). Please don't sue, I'm very skint.
6 Epilogue title and extracts come from the Pink Floyd song 'Keep Talking', used without permission, only love, © belongs to Pink Floyd and Pink Floyd Productions Ltd, lyrics by Gilmour and Samson, 1994 (From the Album 'Division Bell', 1994).
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