DISCLAIMER: I own nothing but enjoy trying to play with the characters a bit.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

The Farm
By Gina


Chapter One

Faith was lying in the back of a truck struggling to keep herself conscious. She was bleeding heavily from the stomach as well as battered and bruised from the fall she took off her apartment balcony when Buffy stabbed her. She had shot Angel with a poison arrow for Mayor Wilkins. She'd come to know him as boss and father figure in the few months preceding her being stabbed. Buffy was hell bent on making Faith the cure for Angel's ailment but it all went wrong and Faith ended up comatose for several months.

The fates were never good to Faith it seemed and this time was no different. The blood of a slayer was the cure for the poison Faith shot into Angel's body. Buffy, like all times before, had chosen to put Faith's life lower on the ladder than that of a vampire by using her blood to cure Angel. Granted, he was a vampire with a soul but a vampire nonetheless.

Faith had a rocky go of it ever since she came to good old Sunnydale. She was left out of the important Scooby meetings; lead astray by an evil watcher-wanna-be and mistakenly killed a human being. Not to mention how Buffy lied to her about Angel in the beginning. These things, coupled with a rotten childhood, were the makings of what caused Faith's jaunt to the dark side. It was on the dark side, that Faith found someone who loved her and treated her like a human being. She had concluded that this was a much better treatment than the norm of being dubbed as a second-rate slayer, or piece of income as her mother had done prior to her own death.

Rage and desire for revenge filled Faith's every fiber as she struggled for consciousness. She had let herself fall over the balcony to stop Buffy from using her blood to save Angel. Luckily she was able to keep her head from smashing against the back of the truck bed to hard; but hard enough that it had her reeling. None of that would matter soon if she didn't get treatment. She knew the blood loss was too much to withstand much more of life.

Tara Maclay was a shy senior in high school. She had lived on a farm with her father, Thomas and brother Donny for nearly a year. She had lost her mother a year ago and the nightmare she lived only grew worse because her mother was no longer there to protect her as best she could.

The Maclay women were looked down upon by the men because of their abilities to use herbs for healing and being well experienced in the craft. It had long been told to Tara that, upon her twenty-first birthday, the full reason of the male harshness towards the women would be known and understood. It was said that the Maclay women were part demon. The men in the family kept the demon half of them in line with harsh authoritative ways. Upon Tara's twenty-first birthday, the demon half of her would emerge dominant only being submissive to the Maclay men. This is how it was prepared to behave by Tara's lifelong regiment of beatings and being sheltered from doing things girls her age normally did. Something deep inside Tara wanted out, to break free of what she had endured at home. While another part of her feared what the demon half would do if she were to leave.

Tara's life consisted of going to school and pretty much being a slave on the farm to her brother and father. She got good grades and worked with herbs as much as she could to try to keep up on the things her beloved mother had taught her before her death. Her father's dictatorship ways left little time for such things however, thus she had to squeeze time in for them when he was out drinking. This was no life for a young girl but a life that Tara supposed she would forever be forced to live. She often dreamed that a woman of great kindness would come and rescue her but stopped believing in the dream ages ago.

Tara heard her father's old truck pull in the drive and wondered what orders he was going to give this time. She looked at him going around the back of the truck where a still figure was lying. Horror spread across her features as she wondered what he'd done to this person. "Tara, get some blankets in the barn and see what you can do for this woman." He growled roughly. 'Not a bad looking woman, if we can get her patched up a bit maybe she'll thank the boy and me.' "Get moving!" He snapped as he staggered towards the house.

Tara knelt down by the dark slayer and noticed the gaping stomach wound right away. She went to work immediately with fear that the young girl had lost too much blood to heal from this. She spread the blanket out and moved Faith onto it. She then applied pressure and wiped around the edges of the wound with an herbal antiseptic she kept in the barn. She was lucky being as most times, she hadn't time to prepare more of the antiseptic. Since Donny and her father had gone out the night before, she had just prepared some fresh antiseptic.

Faith visibly jerked as Tara applied first one then another dressing to stop the bleeding. She then removed Faith's blood-soaked shirt and began to clean the blood from her stomach. After doing this, she looked Faith over. She found scrapes and bruises on the dark-haired slayer's upper body. Unsure as to the extent of Faith's injuries, Tara decided to leave things go after she cleaned the minor wounds.

Faith's eyes fluttered open and closed a time or two while Tara was working on her battered body. Her mind was fuzzy due to her head injury and the extensive blood loss made her weak. She kept trying to focus her mind but that wasn't happening tonight. She decided to relax and hope that the slayer healing would hurry up and aid the woman in healing her body.

At around 6:30 the next morning, Faith opened her eyes again. Someone rustling around in the barn had stirred her out of a restless slumber. She looked around to see a man standing over her. "What happened ta'ya girl?" Thomas Maclay asked as he looked down at the weak woman. "We don't care for the sick here for no reason; so ya best be healing' up there so you can earn your keep." He trudged out of the barn as a young woman came in with a tray.

Faith's eyes closed again momentarily, her body was still weak and she felt like death warmed over. She didn't know if she was out of the woods yet but figured this would be a good place to recover. Even with slayer healing, it would take awhile to recover from the mess saint Buffy caused. She also knew that it was graduation day but couldn't focus on why that was so important to her. She had cut the school scene out of her life before she came to Sunnydale. She could remember working with the mayor and tried to concentrate hard on him hoping he could feel she was all right. She relaxed in her thoughts, as Tara put the straw up to her lips for her to get a drink.


Chapter Two

Faith had spent most of the day sleeping. No matter how hard she tried to wake up for more than a couple minutes, she couldn't do it. 'That bitch B really fucked me up. Her time will come as soon as I can get out of here.' She was jolted out of her thoughts of revenge by a verbal commotion just outside the barn. She strained her eyes and cursed Buffy again for causing her not to be able to focus. From what she could make out, the man was slapping the woman who helped her. They were in front of the barn and he was yelling at her that she didn't get all the morning work done before her classes.

Faith may have gone all psycho-slayer and desired to kill most of the residents of Sunnydale but abuse was one thing she hated. She'd spent too many years living through beatings and mental abuse until she was old enough to break away. Besides, the girl had spent most of the night helping Faith and Faith wasn't taking too kindly to her being treated this way. 'Why the fuck should you care slayer? You're a murderer, it's no bother that some stupid girl is gonna sit and take beatings from her family.'

Faith continued watching as a younger man joined the fray. He kicked the girl in the ribs as she lie on the ground. When she turned her face towards the barn, Faith saw the tears that streamed down her cheeks. She tried to stand but grew dizzy. 'Fucking B, now look someone is in need of help and I can't do it cause you had to go and gut me for that broody ass vampire that you can't even have a good lay with or he'll go all evil.'

The two men finally left the girl alone telling her to get the barn work finished before suppertime. Faith closed her eyes again as Tara made her way back inside the barn. She had a black eye and several bruises but she was used to it. As Tara turned towards the haystack, Faith reopened her eyes and looked her over. "Hey," she said in a low hoarse voice and cursed Buffy once more. The more she thought of her physical condition, the more the rage fueled inside her towards Buffy.

Tara turned and looked at Faith who was trying to sit up. "Y-Y-You shouldn't do that just now," the girl stammered so bad Faith could barely understand what she was saying.

"C'mere Blondie and let me see your eye." Faith said as she cleared her throat in an effort to regain her normal voice.

"M-M-M-My name is T-T-T-Tara," she stammered walking over to the slayer.

"Faith," was all she said as she looked at Tara's eye and touched her arm. It was badly bruised just below the elbow. "You want me to help you out with your work?" Faith pointed over at the hay knowing she wasn't physically able to do much and didn't really know what they did with it anyhow.

"I-I-I-It's all right," Tara stuttered. "It's sorta heavy and I don't think you're in any shape to be doing that."

"Honestly, the only thing I know about hay is its fun to full around in." Faith smirked having realized she felt less dizzy. 'Slayer powers are fixin' me up faster than I thought.'

Tara turned a crimson color as she looked away from Faith. She wouldn't know anything about any of that having not even had a chance to go on a date before. "I-I-I-I better get this out to the cows." Tara said as a horse on the other side of the huge barn made its presence known.

Before Tara stood back up, Faith placed her hands on Tara's shoulders for support and stood up. "I'll get it Blondie." Faith slowly walked over to the hay, as Tara looked after her in utter shock.

Doing the feeding of the animals for Tara was a task for Faith but she did it. She figured it was the least she could do after how much Tara had helped her. She lay back on the now fresh blankets Tara had got for her after showing her what to do with the horses, pigs and cows. 'I knew this barn didn't smell too good.' Faith was weak and tired knowing she had to bide her time here. She needed time to gain full strength if she were going to be able to fight Buffy, if Buffy was even alive.

Everything was coming back to her, the plans of the mayor and such. She smiled a little bit at the thoughts of what Sunnydale may now look like and hoped again that her boss somehow knew she was all right. On top of all the evil thoughts running through her head, was the thought of helping this woman who helped her out. She hated abusers and from the looks of things, this girl was abused beyond comprehension.

The next evening, Tara arrived home from school and found that most of her outside chores were done. The chores Tara normally finished in a couple hours, took Faith a large part of the day due to weakness and not really knowing what to do. "Hey Blondie," Faith smiled at her from the barn. "Your dad and whoever the other guy is were gone all day. So I thought I'd help ya out a bit."

"You didn't have to do that," Tara said with a heavy stammer. "Maybe I should check your wound. You could have done damage by moving to much this soon."

"Nah," Faith leaned back against the hay. "I dressed it earlier and put some of that stuff you had in the jar over there on it." Faith pointed at the small shelf that contained a few jars of ointments and ingredients for spells on it.

"Oh I see," Tara said shyly. "You remembered which one then."

"Yeah," Faith said with a smile on her face. The slayer rarely truly smiled but something about Tara brought one out of her easily.

"Since you seem to be doing better, would you like to come in the house?" Tara offered as she wondered just what her dad had in store for this gorgeous young lady.

"Nah, I like it out here I think." Faith said not wanting to let the men see how fast she was recovering. She was still weak and knew she needed to bide herself just a little more time before going after Buffy. "So, you in school huh?"

"Today was the last day." Tara stuttered as she spoke shyly. "I was accepted to a few colleges but," she dropped her head sadly. "Dad needs help around here so I probably can't go."

Faith could tell Tara was not a good liar and knew something not so good had to be going on. Probably something worse than the shouting fest she overheard the night before. "School never was my bag," Faith said as she pondered why she was so interested in finding out about this girl. She was also intrigued as to why the rage within seemed to calm a bit when she looked into those beautiful sapphire eyes.

"My mom wanted me to have a good education," Tara said sadly.

"Where's your mom at now?" Faith enquired having not seen another woman around the place.

"She passed away awhile back. It's just been my dad, Donny and I since then." Tara said as she shuffled her feet uncomfortably.

"Oh man I'm sorry," Faith said with a downcast look on her face. "My mom passed a few years ago."

Silence fell upon them for a couple of minutes as neither woman wanted to delve into the craziness that was their lives. "I-I-I should go get dinner started." Tara said and gave Faith a glance to make certain she would be all right.

Later that night, Faith awoke to find that a scruffy looking man was standing over her; he was the younger of the two men who abused Tara. She thought she remembered Tara calling him Donny. "Daddy's brought home a fine young woman," Donny said smelling of booze.

Faith liked to drink once in awhile but when the booze smell seemed to be a permanent fixture on a person, it reminded her of her childhood and she loathed it. "I wonder just how good in the hay you'll be." He leaned in for a kiss but Faith was having none of it.

Though she was weak, her slayer strength could easily stop a drunk, this much she knew. As he leaned down, Faith quickly ran through what would happen if she lashed out now. She then decided she didn't care as what he said next chilled her to the bone. "Daddy decided tonight's the night he will initiate Tara, so I get you." He laughed roughly, as he spoke and patted the bulge in his pants. "You gonna get you some of this girl."

"Fuck off," Faith said as her hand shot up and grabbed hold of his neck. She then tossed him to the other side of the barn with ease.

"Bitch you will pay for that!" Donny hissed as he got up and kicked Faith in her stomach with his steel-toed boot.

Pain shot through her body, she knew the wound was probably reopened, as she was certain the slayer healing hadn't had ample time to heal it fully. "Asshole!" She shouted and got to her feet on pure adrenaline. Nobody messed with Faith like that and got away with it. "You're fucking with the wrong woman boy!" She grabbed his wrist as he swung at her.

She could barely stand on her legs due to the sharp pain that coursed through her body. "You're not gonna hurt me or Blondie." Faith said then snapped his wrist with ease. He jumped back from her and yelled in pain. "

"I'll do whatever I want to my sister!" Donny spat as he struggled to get up but Faith kicked him hard in the ribs. She was satisfied with the sound of his ribs cracking, as he yelled out in pain again. "I'll make a straight woman out of her," he grunted as she kicked him again.

Faith stumbled to the shelf where tools were kept. She shook her head in an effort to stay focused, as the pain grew worse. She lifted a hunting knife and walked back to Donny. "You will never hurt a woman like that again," she jerked his pants down and took his manly tool in her hand. In spite of the fear he had of the woman who knelt before him with a knife, he moaned in pleasure then screamed as it was sliced off. "Name's Faith, you tell how this happened and your father will die! Do you hear me boy!" Faith said then backhanded him hard several times and laughed as she cut the organ in several pieces. "I've been told I'm a psycho-bitch, I guess you met your psycho match huh little boy!" Faith said and kicked him again. She felt the rage inside her about to come to a snapping point and it felt good, Faith was back.

Tara was lying in her bed trembling as her father smacked her again. He had her clothes off and she feared what would happen next. A cousin of hers had warned her that her father had molested her a couple years ago and now Tara was certain it was her turn. She was bleeding from the nose and mouth from his assault and now wanted to die.

She heard someone shuffling slowly up the stairs and feared it was Donny but then thought he was probably in the barn getting it on with that girl she had helped. Suddenly her father fell to the floor and there, leaning on the bedpost for support, stood the dark-eyed girl she had helped the night before. "Blondie," she said in a choked out voice. "It's all right," she moved up to the head of the bed to look Tara over then almost fell due to her weakness. "I think we need to get out of here though."

"M-M-M-My grandma has a horse farm about twenty miles from here but I don't know how we can get there." Tara said with fear in her voice of what would happen to them when her father awoke.

"Get dressed and give me a hand out to that truck." Faith said as she sat down on the bed. She lifted her shirt that Tara had given her and didn't see much blood. That was a good sign but the pain was almost unbearable. "I'll drive and you tell me how to get there."

Hattie Olin was a short plump woman with blondish brown hair. She was heartbroken when her daughter, Diana, passed away both for the loss of her daughter and the knowing she would probably never see her Tara again. Tara was special Hattie knew and tried so hard to urge Diana to get her away from Thomas before he killed them both. Diana was a weak-minded person though and couldn't seem to pull herself out from under Thomas's iron hand.

Diana's fear was that Thomas's lies would win custody of Tara and she'd never see her daughter again if he got her in his clutches. That, coupled with the fact that she had endured so much mental and physical abuse from the man that she convinced herself the lies he told about the Maclay women were true. Therefore, Diana chose to stay and protect her daughter as best she could. She had planned to teach Tara all that was good about the craft so she could maybe keep the demon half of her under control and get away from Thomas.

Hattie didn't ask the two young women any questions when they arrived late that night, as they looked worn out. Tara especially looked emotionally tanked so she hoped she might get some answers once the girls had rested up.

As she was preparing breakfast, the dark haired slayer made her way in the kitchen. "Hello dear," Hattie said as she got a chair for the weakened slayer.

"Hey," Faith answered having never been one to try to impress anyone with a more proper way of speaking.

"Are you Tara's friend?" Hattie questioned not quite knowing how to approach this young woman who was brimming with some sort of powerful energy. Hattie had a great deal of knowledge of the craft but didn't want to use her aura reading skills on Faith. She never did such things unless it was important and, at this moment, it didn't seem a necessity so she chose to let Faith keep her privacy.

"Her dad picked me up," Faith said accepting the coffee offered her by Hattie. "I got hurt pretty bad," she pulled up her shirt and showed Hattie the wound. "Blondie fixed me up real nice though and then her dad turned out to be not such a good guy so I helped her get away." Faith finished speaking having left out the bloodier details concerning Donny. He after all was her grandson.

"You don't know how grateful I am that you happened to be there. Tara is a very precious soul," Hattie said and gave Faith a small smile much like Tara's smile.

That statement made Faith feel good inside; nobody had ever showed any gratitude for something she had done. She shook her head and began to fight with her inner-demons. She didn't want to feel nice, she wanted revenge and to do whatever she had to do to get it. Buffy and company would pay dearly for the treatment they gave her. She had to stay strong and not allow these nice people to soften her up. 'You can do it Faith, you've done it all your life and there is no sense stopping now.'

Just then, Tara came in the kitchen. She had showered and slept well once they arrived at her grandmother's house. She looked better than Faith had seen her since they met and this pleased Faith. "I wasn't sure if you would stay." Tara said honestly, as she smiled at the slayer. She wanted to properly thank the girl for saving her last night as well as get to know her. 'Not that Faith would want to get to know you Tara. You're just a plain girl, not tall and slender, not short and anorexic looking, just Tara.'

Everything within Faith screamed at her to bail out now while the bailing was good but she couldn't, not yet at least. She kept telling herself that in a week or so she would be ready to fight Buffy and that is when she would bail. There was no need in leaving before she was ready for the fight and there were a few things she wanted to find out before leaving the girl. "Yeah I'm here," was all Faith could think of to say after her little mental diversion of what she wanted to do.

"Do you have any family?" Hattie asked casually.

Here was Faith's chance. She knew they couldn't be more than an hour from Sunnydale due to the distance Thomas had driven the other night during her battle to stay awake and the length of time it took them to get to this farm last night. "Yeah, well, my mom passed but I have family in Sunnydale."

Faith saw the look of surprise on Hattie's face right away. This told her something had gone down in Sunnydale but she wasn't sure as to what she should say to Faith. As the woman pondered what to tell Faith, if anything, the phone rang. After speaking for a minute, she hung up and looked at Tara. "Tara, did you see your brother before leaving the house last night?"

"N-N-No," Tara said as Faith kept her poker face on. She wasn't about to tell the woman what she did to Donny and wasn't so sure she should tell Tara either.

"That was Beth on the phone, Hattie began surveying the girls for a reaction. "She says Donny has been in the hospital all night and is ok now but someone chopped off his penis."

Tara's face showed Hattie utter shock but Faith's showed no emotion whatsoever. She began to wonder just who this girl was and what her deal was, as the timer beeped telling her the biscuits were done.


Chapter Three

After dinner that evening, Faith and Tara decided to take a walk around the place. Tara loved horses and this farm. She hoped she could get Faith to go riding with her in a day or two but wasn't certain. She thought it would be a good idea to take her mind off what would happen once her father and Donny found her. She also thought it would help Faith relax and not worry about whatever her troubles were before she happened into Tara's life. "You should listen to your grandma y'know," Faith queried in a soothing tone. "If you're into it, education is good and you seem pretty smart."

"I'm thinking about it," Tara said really wanting to continue her schooling as much as she did magic. "There is this college in a small town near here that I might go to. I-I-I can see grandma still if I stay near."

"Yeah," Faith's eyebrows rose. "Where is that?"

"Y-Y-You said you had family there." Tara answered and Faith knew it was good ole Sunnydale. "Grandma Hattie told me, while you were napping, that there had been some trouble there though." Tara added in wonderment. She didn't want to go into details too much because she was certain Faith didn't know about such things as the hellmouth.

"Yeah, what kind of trouble?" Faith asked with a raised interest. She hoped that some of the blanks would be filled in.

"I-I-I guess at graduation something happened and some young girl went to jail. There was something about her trying to kill the mayor." Faith's eyes grew large as Tara finished speaking. She had to find a way to know what was going on fast.

"So you're into magic?" Faith gently prodded trying to scope out the full situation.

"I have been since I can remember," Tara said feeling comfortable around this dark haired beauty that she wished could like her. She was glad to have a friend but felt an attraction for the girl, being certain it would never be reciprocated. "M-M-My mother taught me a lot and grandma is very much into it."

"That's cool," Faith smiled as she brushed the hair from over Tara's eyes. She had the most beautiful eyes Faith ever saw and Faith couldn't understand why she hid them. "I used to know this girl who dabbled in magic back in Sunnydale but her spells sorta found a way to screw themselves up."

"Are you into magic?" Tara asked hoping to find some sort of common ground as a basis to start a deeper friendship.

"Naw," Faith replied. "I mean I don't mess with it but," Faith trailed off seeing something in the distance and knew her cover could be blown. "Um, would you mind refilling our glasses and maybe we can sit out here awhile." She hated asking that of Tara but had to think of something fast to get her away so she could kill the vampire.

Tara too saw something coming but it was to far away to make out. She also felt a shift in Faith's energy. She had tried hard not to pay attention to auras and such as taught by her grandmother but sometimes it happened. She thought she would do as Faith asked though and smiled as she headed for the house.

As Tara headed up the path to the house, another vampire jumped out at her. He grabbed hold of her in game face. She let out a frightened scream as Faith raced towards them leaving the vampire she was after trailing behind her. With a fluent motion, the vampire holding Tara was staked.

As she drove the stake home, everything hit her at once. It was an epiphany the slayer had in that moment as she looked at the wide-eyed blonde standing before her. "Into each generation a slayer is born. One girl in the entire world, a chosen one. One born with the strength and skill to hunt the vampires, to stop the spread of evil. You, Faith, are that slayer." Faith could hear her watcher saying as if it were yesterday.

Thoughts swirled around in her head until she felt as though she were going to burst. She knew she was the chosen one now but Buffy Summers stole that from her. As well as Buffy was given luxuries such as family and friends. This is what caused Faith's turn; she only wanted to be loved. As she looked up into the sea blue eyes of Tara Maclay, she felt someone genuinely cared for her and would be more than glad that she, Faith, the chosen one was around to help. Faith thought the fantasy sounded good, up to the part in which Tara knew who Faith was and of her evil deeds. Faith knew that Tara would bail as everyone else did when she gave her full disclosure of her life in Sunnydale. "Faith," Hattie's firm but soft voice from the door snapped the slayer into the present again.

The other vampire was upon them now and she quickly disposed of him. "You're the slayer," Hattie said almost in a whisper as though it were something so sacred even the animals shouldn't hear the words come from her lips.

"I should go," Faith turned to leave. Getting out of dodge was something Faith was good at and the feelings she was feeling now, told her she needed to do just that. The rage she was harboring since before her unfortunate accident was slowly dissipating though not totally gone. This rage was being replaced with comfort and caring feelings for Tara Maclay and she knew that could never be.

"Faith," Tara stammered though not trying to stop Faith physically from leaving. She felt a lump well up in her throat at the thought of the slayer leaving her but didn't feel it was her place to stop her if she wanted to go.

Faith turned and eyed the blonde knowing with everything in her she should run but did not. "Yeah?"

"You don't have to leave," Tara said shyly. "I-I mean if you want to stay," she looked away from the slayer ashamed at her mild boldness.

"When you know all about me you won't say that," Faith muttered quietly. "Fact is there are two slayers and it turns out I'm the bad one."

"You saved Tara from her father and brother," Hattie said as she motioned towards the house. "I don't think that classifies you as bad. Why don't you stay the night and we can talk tomorrow. I'm sure you both could use a little rest."

"Yeah I can do that." Faith agreed and followed the women back inside the house.

None of them saw a certain broody vampire looming in the shadows. His plan had worked in that he'd been gathering up vampires to see in what area they might be killed in order to find Faith.

Later that night, Tara was about to clear away the teacups from the room her grandmother had got ready for Faith. The two had drank tea and tried to relax for nearly an hour. They barely spoke during this time, Tara not knowing what to say and Faith trying to figure out how to tell Tara. She had decided she would rather tell Tara alone in case she wasn't accepted. "Hey, before you go, I thought maybe I could tell you what's all happened to me."

Tara smiled happily; nobody had ever desired to confide their personal issues to her. It made her feel good to know this gorgeous woman wanted to do so. "All right," she said and sat down on the bed next to Faith.

Faith started by telling her of her crappy childhood, how her mother drank the nights away leaving little money for food and bills. Faith then talked about her watcher; how glad she was to have found someone who cared for her. After all this, the story wove into how her watcher was killed and she headed for Sunnydale to get help from the legendary slayer, Buffy Summers. "Then it got all screwed up from there," Faith continued after already having talked for quite some time. "Not only did B have a family, she had friends helping her and that's not how we were supposed to do things. Most of the group tried to keep me shut out for whatever their reasons were and then," Faith flinched at the thought of killing the mayor's aid. "We were in this big fight with vampires and I moved to fast and staked a human. Rather than helping me, they wanted to send me up the river. Well I got scared and tried to blame B. Then when they tried to turn me in, I ran off and found the mayor who took me in."

The pain showed deep in the slayer's eyes as she told her story to Tara. She had certainly made some bad choices by getting involved with an evil mayor but Tara could see why it happened. She was a scared lost little girl inside desiring for someone to care for her. Tara felt a tear escape her as she put her arms around the slayer who was trying hard to keep her composure during the telling of her painful story. "It's all right Faith," she wiped a tear from her own eyes. "I don't hate you. What you have done for me is good and we all make mistakes in life."

Faith looked into the beautiful eyes of the blonde. "You don't hate me huh," she seemed surprised at the showing of affection from the woman.

"No, I would like you to stay and let me be your friend. I've never had a real friend Faith and maybe we can help each other." Tara smiled, she wanted to make the point to Faith that she wanted her friendship and was sincere. She knew she was very attracted to Faith also but wasn't counting on that coming up in the cards.

"I guess I've never had a real friend either," Faith muttered. She wanted nothing more than to kiss this gift from the heavens but didn't want to scare her. 'You're getting to comfortable Faith; something is bound to happen to ruin it.'

She put her hand on Tara's cheek and rubbed her thumb down the smooth skin as she looked into her eyes. She saw mixed emotions there but wasn't sure how to read them so ventured to find out. She cuffed Tara's chin in her other hand and gently pulled it up to meet her own. "I've never kissed anyone because I thought it was nice either so I hope this doesn't offend you." Faith gently pressed her lips to Tara's where she found a welcoming invitation. "Y'know, I feel like I should run out of here and never look back Tara."

"Why," Tara stuttered with thoughts that she'd done something to blow it.

"I've never been with someone because I care. This is some scary stuff y'know?" Faith said and kissed the woman again.

"It's all right Faith," Tara said then put her arm around the dark slayer. "I've never been with anyone period but if you think you might like me, I would like to be with you." Tara's cheeks were a bright shade of red, as she'd never spoke to anyone like this.

"There's no might Tara," Faith pulled her closer. "I do like you and am willing to keep the slayer hormones in check. We can go slowly to keep you comfortable. This is all new to me and it might be better if we keep it slow."

Tara's bright smile seemed to envelop Faith's heart as she nodded in agreement, gave Faith a gentle kiss then headed to her room.

All the while, Angel stood watching and heard the entire story from outside the window. He had walked for a bit until he came to a pay phone. "Hey Giles," he said softly. "I couldn't find Faith. We have to come up with another way of keeping the mayor from charging Buffy with Faith's attempted murder. In which case, if she is dead, it is best we not find the body because he will charge her for murder." He hung up the phone quickly; he knew he'd lied but knew the pain of the dark slayer all to well. "Maybe, just maybe, with a little help," he shook his head feeling that Faith was going to make it in her redemption path. He was worried that the angered Scooby gang would just mess it up before she had the chance to make it. He felt terrible for Buffy but warned Giles there would be consequences if he and Willow did the time spell on the mayor. Said spell sent the Mayor back to the day he started preparing for his day of ascension. The two had then burst in; thwarting his plans then jerked time back to the graduation date. They now were paying for what they did because Buffy was sitting in jail for the attempted murders of Faith and the mayor.

The mayor had been assumed to have restarted his ascension plans, which was a simple task to do as Angel warned them it would be. Willow had forgotten to put a little oomph in the spell that would make the mayor forget his plans. This was the norm with Willow Angel knew but she couldn't have picked a worse time to screw up.

All of this, coupled with a slayerless Sunnydale, enabled the mayor to have a free reign. That didn't add up well for the small town. Angel wasn't certain on what to do as things were going downward fast but something deep within him would not allow him to turn Faith over to Giles and the council.


Chapter Four

The next two days were spent lazing around the farm. Tara taught Faith to ride a horse, which she was a natural at doing. They also spent a great deal of time in Hattie's gardens working and had their evenings to talk. "So you see it's not whether or not you're born a witch but whether or not you can connect with the energies properly that is important. Magic is magic, there are no separations of dark and light magic as most think. It is how one uses the elements given them by the power that makes it dark or light." Tara finished a lengthy conversation on magic as the two sat outside beneath the stars one night.

Faith listened intently to Tara's words. She took pleasure in the notion that Tara seemed so comfortable talking about something, with no stutter. She wanted to learn from this woman if nothing else. Tara exuded goodness and Faith hoped a little of that rubbed off on her. She really wanted to make something good of whatever time she had left but knew, deep down in her soul, there was only one way she could truly do that. What she needed to do could entail butting heads with Mayor Wilkins and she was certain she didn't want to do that. Though the man was evil, he loved her, believed in her and showed her genuine affection.

Tara felt a wanderlust coming from Faith though she tried to dismiss it. It was as though Faith was content to remain on the peaceful farm with her but a part of her was somewhere else and always would be. She hoped to speak with Hattie about it more at length in the morning while Faith slept. "Faith, am I boring you?" Tara ventured in hopes she would find an easier answer to Faith's change in attitude over the last few minutes.

"No Tara," Faith leaned over and took Tara's hand then placed a gentle kiss on it. "I like hearing you talk; sitting out here with you and getting a little smoochies in isn't so bad either."

"I was just afraid I was boring you with the magic talk. People usually aren't into hearing of such things." Tara said with a shrug of her shoulders and half-smile.

"Not at all," Faith pulled her closer and kissed her gently. "I think we're all rooted with some sorta darkness. It's how we embrace our dark side that can either make us stronger or go all evil-slayer-chick." A hint of sadness played across Faith's features as Tara returned the kiss.

"Faith don't get down on yourself. People make mistakes and learn to not make them again." Tara said hoping she could find some way of helping Faith cut herself some slack.

"Nah, Saint B hasn't screwed up like me for sure." Faith said in a hallow tone that indicated to Tara, Faith had a ways to go before shedding her dark side completely if she ever would.

"That's not true at all," Tara countered. "She made the mistake of pushing you away when all you wanted was something real, something to hold on to. When you got down and out, they made more mistakes. They tried to throw you to the wolves and you felt backed up into a corner. You then lashed out in a bad way. That was your mistake but those people in Sunnydale aren't to be held blameless from what I can tell." Tara spoke firmly as she looked into Faith's eyes, which held so much complexity of emotion in them.

"You got an answer for everything Blondie," Faith said and kissed Tara more firmly.

"No, you had the answer for my brother and father, not me." Tara said softly as Faith rubbed her shoulders.

"I got another answer right now," Faith said with a grin as she pulled Tara on her lap.

"What's this an answer to?" Tara said suggestively with a hint of laughter in her voice.

"How to kill some slayer energy and be with the best witch in the whole wide world," Faith said huskily as she began kissing Tara down the neck. "Is this ok Tara?"

Tara's smile could have reached from Sunnydale to Texas, as Faith's embrace became more firm, her touching and kisses more intimate. Never in her wildest dreams did she believe she would ever be with such a beautiful woman. She had no problem letting herself submit to the slayer, whose aura still showed darkness around the edges. "It's great Faith, thank you for liking me," Tara said shyly as the slayer began to up the aggression slightly.

"Bravo Faithie!" A cheerful booming voice brought them out of the make out session a short time later. "I see you've learned a bit of manners from me."

Faith stood quickly and moved away from Tara, out of shock at hearing the mayor's voice and fear for the blonde's safety. "Boss," she said and Tara couldn't help but notice Faith's aura light up. She truly loved this man like a father; more so than Tara loved her own father and that saddened Tara. She knew that, until now, all Faith had to care for her was something evil.

As the jolly man put his arms around Faith, Tara noticed his aura light up like a Christmas tree. Perhaps this evil being did find it in his heart to love Faith. If that was the case, it could make things better or far worse than Tara could comprehend because once you truly love something, you will fight tooth and nail to keep it with you. "Um, would you like me to get you something to drink?" Tara asked the two with a slight stammer.

The mayor quickly released Faith and turned to shake Tara's hand. "You have taken great care of my Faithie Ms. Maclay," he beamed a big grin at her inspecting her hand before he shook it. "Mother always told me cleanliness is next to godliness." He shook her hand letting Faith know he approved of Tara's cleanliness. "If you don't mind leaving us for just a few moments so we may speak privately, I would be most grateful," the mayor continued as his eyes scanned the area for something. His actions caused Faith to grow more attuned with her senses looking for something that might be a threat to him.

"Of course sir," Tara said quietly as she went into the house where Hattie stood pensively at the window.

"Faithie I must say this farm has done wonders for you my dear." The mayor said as he looked into her eyes. "I think that pesky vampire Angel has been lurking around here but for some strange reason, he hasn't turned you in." The mayor placed his hands on Faith's shoulders and laughed uproariously. "That slayer magic is being woven on more than just me I see."

"Have you started the ascension?" Faith asked having known that the mayor was one to get down to business quickly.

"Now now Faith," he said with a bright smile on his face. "Let me first say I was thrilled to find out you were alive and here at Hattie Olin's farm. She's a wise woman and knows a lot of things." The Mayor pointed up the path where two demons quietly pushed a Harley towards them. "Next let me say, that my dearest slayer is for you." He beamed upon seeing Faith's smile of appreciation. "Now finally, let me just say this. Your town awaits you Faithie and no, I have not reformatted my hundred-day ascension. I was so worried about you Faith," the evil man's eyes turned soft. "I am so grateful these women nursed you back to health because I wasn't lying to you when I said I wanted you with me, not in that god forsaken town to be eaten." He chuckled lightly as he looked into her eyes.

Faith felt something tug at the back of her mind and knew it was Tara. She had grown fond of the pretty woman but here was the mayor, the man who handed her life and a weird form of happiness and love. "What about B?"

"Well it so happens that she tried to kill me," the mayor laughed. "She miscalculated my feelings for you and thought I'd turn totally into that thing without you. Then that crazy little witch thinks she stopped me. Truth is Faith, you stopped me. I had a moment of panic and weakness due to your absence at the hands of Buffy Summers. I let my guard down which is against every rule I have. Vulnerability is a very bad slip of the foot. So during this moment of weakness, the watcher and witch managed to pull the rug out from under me briefly."

Faith knew he might not be the best thing for her to care for but she did and didn't know if she wanted to stop. She also knew he was telling her the truth, which meant he still trusted her fully. "You got a job for me boss?"

"Possibly a small one," the mayor said with his eyes dancing. "Not tonight though," he patted her arm. "You go in and get some rest," he handed her a cell phone. "You call me anytime day or night Faith and I trust it is all right for me to phone you."

"Sure boss," Faith said and headed for the house.

Hattie stood to leave the room as Faith entered. "Am I still welcome here?" She questioned Hattie with her eyes. There were things she would want answers to from Hattie soon but that could wait.

"You are welcome here so long as Tara is safe with you," Hattie gave Faith a smile of assurance yet no fear as she left the room.

"You want me to hang awhile?" Faith asked looking at Tara.

"Of course Faith but," she looked at the slayer seriously. "When you feel like it we might need to talk."

"If this is going to be one of those, do this or do that talks, I'm not playing the game." Faith said somewhat coldly before reprimanding herself for speaking to the blonde in such a tone. "I'm sorry T," she said as she moved closer and kissed Tara. "It's just hard y'know?"

"I understand Faith," Tara said smiling though inwardly feared Faith would not be with her much longer. "Maybe we should get some sleep and," Faith kissing her repeatedly stopped Tara in mid sentence.

"Well if you still want me I was sorta hoping' we might do this a little more then maybe I could hold you while we sleep." Faith suggested rather liking the feeling she got when she was with Tara.

"That sounds great to me," Tara said and was quickly scooped up by the dark slayer.


Chapter Five

A call from the Mayor jerked Faith out of a peaceful sleep at around 4:30am. After their discussion, she found it was still easy to follow his orders. She moved quietly down to the basement where she hoped to find a clue that would help the Mayor. He told her Hattie Olin loves her family dearly but knows things that could be detrimental to Tara's future as well as her own then instructed her to see what she could find.

Faith wasn't certain why the Mayor would want to help Tara but had never questioned him before and saw no reason to now. She sifted through an old box until she came across a book, which had a distinctive picture on it, an exact picture of the letter opener in the Mayor's office. 'Everything old has a secret Faith.'

She leaned back on an old bench and opened the book. It appeared to be a book outlining some of Hattie's thoughts and disappointments about her daughter being with Thomas the Cad and so forth. The book went into some detail as to how Thomas was only going to deter Hattie's plans for her daughter and baby grandchild. Faith raised an eyebrow when she came across one small note that simply said, smart thinking on my part to keep Donny alive with the, Cepter demon. Faith quickly got out the cell phone and dialed up the mayor. "Boss, just how much trouble am I in here and what is Hattie to you?"

The mayor leaned back listening to Faith's brief reading of some of Hattie's notes and clicked his fingers together in utter distaste. "Faithie dear, there are two kinds of evil in this world. There is evil with a heart such as myself and pure evil. I will not allow anyone to get in the way of my evil plans to forward their own, do you understand me?"

"Sure boss but whatcha what me to do?" Faith enquired not liking this entire situation.

"First off, a Cepter demon is merely a demon that intercepts the body of a human life that is about to be ended. They usually work for sorceresses and other dealers of the dark forces of magic. Though I would find someone of this nature of use in my own plans, something tells me this particular woman has no interest in my plans so you need to play it coy until I've had the opportunity to further investigate things." The mayor ended his talk and the two hung up the phone.

"My dear Faith, you truly have no idea what you've done to me do you child." The mayor leaned back in his chair with a vivid memory of himself covering Buffy's mouth with his hand. "You will pay Buffy Summers, you stole my girl Faith's calling, never gave her a chance to shine but she will shine!" He slammed his hand down on his desk and smiled.

That next evening while Faith walked around the grounds for some fresh air, Tara tried to have a talk with her grandma. "Do you know anything about the Mayor or Faith?" Tara asked not wanting to beat around the bush because Faith would be back soon.

"I know this much, he is evil Tara and Faith is drawn to him. Please be careful in the event that the dark side wins out over the slayer side." Hattie spoke frankly with her granddaughter.

"I don't think Faith would hurt me," Tara stammered in hopes of being right.

"If she had to choose between you and the Mayor," Hattie let her comment fall flat in the air hoping it would sink in.

"She will never have to choose," Faith said as she walked in the door. "Boss wouldn't do that to me nor would he make me harm Tara."

"Confident aren't you child?" Hattie questioned in a soft voice.

"Please don't do this," Tara said. "Faith grandma likes having you here and," Faith darted her deep brown eyes at Hattie as if inviting her to play the next card. The Mayor had told her to play it coy but something inside her snapped when she heard Hattie working to push Tara away from her.

Hattie Olin saw the piercing cold eyes of the dark slayer and inwardly cringed. Indeed Richard Wilkins had selected the correct slayer to do his bidding. "Of course I like having you here dear," Hattie rose to touch Faith's arm. "I just get a bit leery when it comes to Tara's well being. Please accept my apology."

"No problem," Faith said as she headed towards her room. She quickly dialed the Mayor. "Hey boss, she backed down a bit when I gave her the ice look."

"Very good for starters," he smiled outwardly. "Now then, it has been arranged for Tara to go to the University of Sunnydale free of charge. You need to collect that book and get Tara out of there ASAP. Within the next couple of days preferably and then you and I will discuss what you need to do after that."

Faith took note of the haste in which the Mayor spoke. She knew whatever was on the go was of the utmost importance and she would follow his instructions to the letter. She had no desire to go back to Sunnydale and see the old faces again but whatever it took to help Tara and the Mayor, she would do it. She wasn't thinking of what consequences having loyalties to both good and evil could cause; just that both of these people cared for her and that's all she ever really wanted in life.

"Faith," Tara said softly having entered the room only when Faith did not answer her knocks.

"Oh hey T," Faith rose and gave the blonde several kisses. "What's up?"

"I just thought we might be able to spend a little time together." Tara said unsure of what she was really doing there. Her emotions were torn, fear of Faith being evil but wanting to believe Faith was good. It was taking a toll on her mind but she tried to keep up a good front. She wanted to remain positive for Faith. She wanted to do whatever she could to encourage Faith to remain on the path she had started on before the Mayor came back in the picture.

"Yeah sure," Faith moved over on the bed so Tara could sit down with two hot chocolates. "I wanted to talk to you anyhow. I just got off the phone with the Mayor and he offered to get you into the college at Sunnydale free of charge."

Tara's eyes lifted in curiosity. She felt both happiness and fear as to why he'd offer such a thing. "Tara," Faith said and pulled the woman closer. "He knows you're important to me and he wants to see me happy. You being happy will make me happy," Faith said and finished her hot chocolate. "C'mon whata ya say?"

"I didn't think you'd want to go back there after all that had happened," Tara spoke softly as Faith began to rub her shoulders and kiss her fingertips.

"You wanted to go to school there so you could see your grandma so I want you to do that." Faith said and kissed her more. She hadn't exactly detailed everything to Tara correctly but felt she wasn't lying either so all was good.

"All right then, I'll do it." Tara smiled brightly as Faith pulled her more firmly into her arms. Behind the bright smile was a fear that once they hit Sunnydale, Faith would slowly slip away from her grasp.

"You'll be safe Tara." Faith said and kissed her passionately.

"As long as I'm with you I know I'll be safe Faith." Tara said and returned the passionate kiss.

"Tara, y'know, I've never allowed myself to trust anyone or care in this way before. I really want to be with you," Faith began to caress Tara's stomach gently as she spoke. "When we go to Sunnydale and you're not so nervous because other people are around, I want nothing more than to make love to someone for the first time in my life."

Tara looked into the beautiful dark eyes of the slayer and could sense the struggle between good and evil that lie within the dark beauty. Tara knew she was falling hard for Faith and hoped it was enough to hold things together. "You got yourself a deal slayer," Tara said and snuggled up to Faith for sleep.


Chapter Six

Tara sat in her dorm room at the college. She had spent two relaxing days with Faith before they drove to Sunnydale. Faith had helped her settle in with a promise to return in a couple of days. The couple of days sailed by with no word from the slayer. Tara's worry was evident on her face. She didn't know what was going on but feared it wasn't good. She wanted to believe in Faith but her worries were getting the best of her. She thought that she should pick up the phone and ask the Mayor about Faith's whereabouts but decided against it. She wanted to show Faith that she trusted her implicitly and checking up on her would not be the way to do that.

A girl cautiously entered the room and withdrew Tara from her near panicked thoughts. "Hi," the girl said in a soft voice. "I'm Willow Rosenberg."

Faith pulled into the old farmhouse she never thought she would have to see again. She was here at the Mayor's orders to find out if Thomas Maclay was indeed any sort of threat. "Open up," she shouted as she knocked at the door.

Thomas opened the door and looked at the girl who sent shivers down his spine. "Whatcha want girl?" He spat not showing the fear he had for the young woman who could have easily killed him and his son.

"If your son Donny isn't here, we need to talk." Faith said with no emotions playing out on her features.

"What business would I have with the likes of you?" Thomas enquired in a gruff tone of voice.

"I want to discuss Hattie Olin." Faith decided a card needed to be played if she were going to get inside the house.

The man's features quickly changed into something Faith couldn't read. "Hattie Olin is a scoundrel who ruined my life!" He shouted as he stepped back to let Faith in. "I want nothing to do with that bitch!"

Faith hoped she read Thomas right as she sat across from him. "Well I think I can help you with that situation Mr. Maclay."

She reached across the table and handed him a photo of himself. He was dressed in a suit and looked very young. "I know that you were an all star basketball player in school and that your family once had high expectations for you. What did Hattie do to you Thomas?" Faith asked pushing the envelope a bit.

Thomas looked at the photo but still had a befuddled look on his face as he handed Faith a drink. "What are you really doing here girl?"

Faith produced yet another photo for Thomas to look at. It was one of he and Diana when they were very young. They both looked happy and very much in love. "Thomas, I know you once loved her and your children." Faith pushed a bit further.

Thomas stared at the photo for a few minutes. "Tara is a demon girl! I only want to protect her from what's out there!" Thomas shouted though the feelings inside him were mixed. "I reckon I don't know what Hattie did to me ms."

"Ms. Wilkins, Richard Wilkins III is my father and Mayor of Sunnydale." Faith decided to play another card to see if she could rattle the man a bit more.

Thomas slapped his hands together and laughed uproariously. "He's Hattie's cousin! What a hoot this is, now tell me girl, what's your purpose here?"

"I'm trying to help Tara." Faith said softly and made a note of how Thomas' eyes flashed the same as Tara's when he was laughing.

She could see the thoughtfulness in the man's eyes and realized he was just a pawn in Hattie's sick game. As quickly as his thoughtful look had come, it went away. Faith could feel the energy change and knew he was about to lash out. She struck first and more quickly by knocking him in the back of the head with a chair that sat next to him. She then threw him over her shoulder and walked out of the untidy house.

Tara and Willow had hit it off fast over the course of the two days they'd known each other. They found that they had a lot in common but Tara had not yet revealed her connection to Faith. She was almost in tears over the brunette slayer who had surely left her when Willow came barreling into the room. She tripped and dropped her books. Tara grabbed her hands and stopped her from falling to the floor. Upon the touch, both women could feel an electrical charge go through them. They looked at each other for a moment then ignored the feeling.

"I've had a rough day," Willow said as she plopped down on her bed. "A friend of mine is going on trial and can't even defend herself properly."

"Why not?" Tara enquired softly as she sat next to Willow.

"Well," Willow wasn't sure if she should tell Tara or not. For one thing, she barely knew the woman and another thing; Tara would think she was crazed. She decided to take a gamble and could only hope Tara would still like her after this. "You see, she got into some trouble but it was caused by this thingie and," Willow blushed as she tried to come up with the right words to explain. "She was put in jail for trying to kill someone and there are reasons she can't defend herself properly," Willow paused again and frowned. Here was the hard part, the friendship maker or breaker.

Tara figured who Willow was talking about so decided to let her off the hook. "Buffy Summers," she said quietly and received an astonished look from the redhead. "I read about it in the papers plus a close friend of mine told me the other details."

Faith sat on a park bench in deep thought. She missed Tara terribly and wondered how Tara was taking the fact that she had not yet returned. She had done everything the Mayor had requested of her thus far but tell him where Thomas Maclay was. She simply told him Thomas was no threat to his plans and the Mayor had accepted her report without question.

She was loyal to the Mayor on all counts but the fact that she was hiding Thomas. She felt bad for keeping this information from him because his actions had shown her how much she trusted her. She wondered what exactly she would do if she found he were up to something evil and again wondered about Tara.

One girl chosen in the world to fight off demons was her calling. She just didn't know if she could do what she had to do when the time came. She stamped out her cigarette and shook her head from the increasingly confused thoughts that ran through it. "I'm on my way Hattie." She said then walked up the street.


Chapter Seven

Tara and Willow were performing a basic spell in their dorm room. Tara had been helping Willow with concentration. The two were floating rose pedals around the room with ease. Both women were very relaxed when the phone rang. "Hello?" Tara said as she motioned for Willow to continue performing the spell.

For the last three days, Tara had been helping the redhead with meditations and basic spells. She sensed a great power within Willow and was eager to try to help the woman learn about magic. It gave Tara the added bonus of not worrying about Faith so much as it now had been one week since she left. As Tara hung up the phone, her face was a mask of emotions; panic, sadness and fear swept through her until she felt as though she would pass out. "Tara?" Willow went to her side quickly. "Are you all right?"

"T-T-That was my grandma Hattie. She told me my girlfriend was not g-g-going to make it. I don't know what happened."

Willow didn't know what to say or do but wanted to comfort the girl in some way. "Are you sure, is she sure? Maybe we can go check it out." Willow quickly stood and reached for the phone to call Xander with plans of having him drive them.

Tara realized her girlfriend was exactly who Willow would love to get her hands on at this moment. She trusted Willow fully but knew she couldn't betray Faith. She let thoughts spin through her head in an attempt to find a quick escape. "Thanks Willow but I can take care of this." Tara said and raced out the door. Though she dreaded this, she knew where she had to go.

Faith sat in the basement of Hattie Olin's home with magical bonds in place to hinder any attempt of escape. She knew her time would be short lived if she weren't rescued quickly. After the few things she'd managed to learn, she also was in fear for Tara's well being. She knew she had at least been held captive twelve hours as the sun had begun to set.

The scruffy figure of Donny entered the basement and laughed at the girl. "Did you think you could help my dad?" He backhanded her hard but her slayer resolve kept her from showing any signs of pain. "You played right into our hands and even your foolish boss wants your powers, not you!"

"No!" Faith hissed back as her mind drew to feelings of imminent danger for the Mayor. "He loves me, just as your father loved you before you died and that bitch put a demon inside you!"

Donny flinched with surprise that Faith knew the secret. He wasn't the brightest apple that fell from the tree but knew if the slayer got loose, his grandmother's plans could be in jeopardy. "You don't know squat girl!" He backhanded her once more.

"That all you got boy?" Faith taunted with a plan forming. "No penis, no good firepower in those demon hands of yours; you're a sorry excuse for a bad guy!"

"This demon is gonna show you what I can do to a little helpless girl!" Donny hissed angrily and placed his lips on the slayer's mouth.

Faith's features went blank at that moment as her mind replayed bad events from her youth. As Donny groped her, she envisioned the many men her mother brought to the house doing this to her. She felt them fondle her and saw that they gave her mother drugs as payment. That old helpless feeling wove its way through her core, as he continued his conquest, then she snapped.

Hattie had reached the top of the stairs with something in her hands when she felt the burst of energy. Hattie trembled in fear because once the truth came out; it would be known that Tara was indeed the powerful one. Hattie merely possessed the means to take said powers for her own use once everything fell into place, as she had done with Diana. "Donny!" The woman screamed out as she checked the force of her magical bindings. "You stupid child!" Hattie shouted again with fury because she knew Faith was winning this battle. She knew it was all Donny's fault for causing her to relive pained childhood experiences and planned to have his head if they got out of this situation alive.

The slayer energy was counter-acting the weak spell. Upon Diana's death, Hattie could no longer control and make use of her powers thus rendering her nothing more than a novice when it came to magical abilities. Though Hattie was well versed in the craft and manipulation, she had little in way of natural powers. It was through Diana, the real sorceress powers that she was even able to call up the demon to overtake Donny as he lie in a hospital dying so many years ago.

As Hattie racked her brain for a quick spell to stop Donny's assault on the slayer, she felt something hit her hard from behind and fell to the floor. "You trusted me to take my chains off girl," said Thomas Maclay who now stood at the top of the stairs. "When you came to see me yesterday and broke Diana's chain to piss me off because I was being so rude, I felt something leave me."

Donny turned and stared wide-eyed at his father who shouldered a gun. "You're not my boy," Thomas said somberly as Donny sliced Faith with a knife then quickly made a run for the exit tunnel.

Tara sat in the passenger seat of the Mayor's car. She was trying to swallow all he had told her but couldn't. She couldn't fathom the idea that her grandmother was just as evil as he was, if not worse, nor that her brother was the real demon in the family. She only had one chance to save Faith though and that included relying on this man who claimed he was her biological cousin.

As the two entered the home, stillness filled the air. "I-I-I don't think they are here." Tara said with a noticeable stammer.

The Mayor's eyes filled with rage. "Hattie Olin, if you can hear me and I'm certain that you can, you harm my Faith and you will surely die!" The mayor's voice boomed through the old house with authority as Tara looked around the room that once held so much comfort. Now she felt something wrong within the walls of this old farm, something menacing and evil and then it was gone replaced with a calm loving feeling again.

"Will she kill her?" Tara asked fearing the answer.

"Not just yet," the Mayor said in a matter of fact tone. "I need to have the place swept for information quickly. I need to find Faith, you know Tara, I gave up the ascension for my Faith and I'll be damned if I let her die!"

Tara wanted to ask him if the ascension was a done deal on a more permanent basis but somehow doubted that plus thought it would be the wrong time to ask such a question. She did not want to get on the wrong side of the man who, she felt, could make or break her relationship with Faith. "W-What can I do?" Tara offered sincerely.

The Mayor's eyes smiled at the girl. "Get back to your room, do a locator spell. I am low on demon resources in way of help just now and feel that your magic will be of good use. I have a little deal to work out with another slayer."


Chapter Eight

Faith and Thomas rode around town in his old truck that had helped save Faith's life not so long ago. "You're the slayer, where do we go from here? Do ya think Tara will ever forgive me?" Thomas asked several questions, which indicated to Faith the man was nervous.

"One thing Thomas, don't let them see fear. The next thing is, we go to the University and find Tara. I'm betting she has some jewel on her or something too. Hattie kept you under her control with some magic crap done to that necklace."

"Faith, do you think you can see that I live long enough to at least apologize to my daughter?" Thomas asked as he pulled up to the dorm area of the campus.

"I'll do my best sir." Faith mumbled as the two got out and headed for Tara's room.

The Mayor stood across the room from Buffy Summers. She looked as if she'd seen better days but wasn't in to bad of shape. "There is no way I will ever make a deal with the likes of you!" Buffy hissed at the Mayor.

"You will be saving not only Faith's life, but removing a charge from you as well as doing your slayer duty and saving the world." The Mayor said in a low voice. "Come now Buffy, I am giving you a sweet offer here. I don't really have to give you any offer at all." He clapped his hands and smiled brightly. "All I have to do is turn you over to the woman who wants Faith. I'm certain any old slayer will do. You have no choice really but to agree with me and have less time in that dirty prison. Of course you could just be given to the woman who wants a little slayer blood then die!"

"How can I be certain that once you make the trade, you won't leave me to die anyhow?" Buffy questioned with a disgusted look on her face.

"Ms. Summers, you know what I've already sacrificed for Faith, she is the only reason you temporarily won the battle. It had nothing to do with that crazy magic of your little friend and you damn well know it! Now make up your mind and do it quickly because my patience has worn thin!" The mayor's brow creased in a tight worry line as he spoke.

Buffy decided her best option was to take this gamble and hope a better card turned up in her favor along the way. "Deal," was all she said then the Mayor hurried off to make some arrangements.

"Faith," Thomas motioned to the thick bubble around the dorm. "I think that's magic. I can't see it but I can't get beyond it."

"Fuck!" Faith shouted in anger. She knew nothing about how to break through magical forces and was certain Hattie had gotten to Tara. "There's only one person who might be able to help us now, but I'll have to make a damn deal!"

Faith sprinted for the truck and climbed in the driver's seat followed by Thomas who struggled to keep up. She wheeled out at top speed with dread as to what she had to do next.

The two burst through Giles' door without knocking. "Giles I don't have time to fight nor argue. We need to make a deal and fast." Faith spat out having noticed the evil look the man gave her.

"What on earth makes you think I might help you Faith!" Giles hissed angrily.

"You either help me or I will get dead real fast and then B will be charged with my murder!" Faith shouted as Thomas shuffled his feet behind her, well prepared to use force if necessary.

Faith pulled the broken chain out of her jacket and handed it to Giles whose face went white upon recognition of the pendant that was still attached. "That's an Olifschire chain. Its powers are for mind control and magic transportation." Giles looked at the brunette slayer and knew, by the look on her face, Faith was truly desperate for help. "Testify on Buffy's behalf against the Mayor and you have yourself a deal."

"Help me or, when I die, the Mayor will have your ass! Then he will see to it that B is convicted of my murder." Faith challenged unwilling to agree to anything that could harm the Mayor in any sense. "Thomas had this chain on, we think another woman has one too and her magic is being sucked as we speak. Hattie Olin is the woman's name that is doing all this and she will need a truck load of slayer blood to complete her task, whatever that is." Faith looked to Thomas for confirmation and received it with the nod of his head.

Willow looked in horror as Tara lie limp on the floor of their dorm room. A man stood over her who appeared to be half demon and a woman was moving some sort of chain, which made a chain on Tara's own neck glow. They had ordered Willow not to move or she would surely die and she had obeyed up to now. Willow wasn't versed as well as she'd like to be in magic but knew enough to know that what was happening to Tara was bad news.

She concentrated with everything in her to move the pendant from Tara's neck before the woman noticed. Thus far, nothing had happened and the demon-man was drawing closer to Willow. "Just three more minutes Donny," Hattie instructed.

"There is a tare in the bubble master Hattie." The demon called and Willow focused her energy to help whoever was trying to breech the bubble. She wished Tara had more time to prepare her on the uses of magic because then she would be able to do more.

Willow's magic was precise enough to aid Giles and Anya's spell and Faith entered the barrier, before Hattie sealed it back up. "Dear Lord, I think Willow is inside there." Giles murmured as Xander, Anya and Thomas rejoined hands with Giles. This process was taking all their energy but it had to be done. Giles had heard of the prophecy of the pendant and warned them how serious the conditions could be if they failed.

Faith burst through the dorm room door and knocked Donny off his feet quickly. For a split second, this distracted Hattie and Willow instinctively grabbed the pendant from around Tara's neck. "Oh well, I think I have enough to stop you slayer!" Hattie hissed as she knocked Faith across the room with a strong energy wave.

"Red run!" Faith yelled as she got to her feet. Willow was none to happy to see this particular slayer but instincts told her to listen this time.

Willow raced for the door with Donny hot on her heels as Tara opened her eyes. "Faith," she said quietly. She felt something strange within her, there was no energy, no will to move or speak.

"No time T, we gotta find a way out of here." Faith said as Hattie magically lifted her in the air. She knew Tara was no longer under her control but hoped she had taken enough of her essence to stop Tara from being able to mount any form of retaliation.

Just then, Willow returned to the room with Giles and the others. Hattie laughed and sent them flying around the room in different areas. "You can't stop me!"

"Maybe not but I can," Buffy's voice boomed into the room with the mayor's smiling face at her side. "I'm the true slayer; wouldn't you rather have my blood?"

"I could have you both, you foolish girl!" Hattie hissed but noticed the Mayor seemed to be using something to protect this one. He really didn't have much in way of true protection but Hattie didn't know this. He had calculated correctly because Hattie was thinking he had restarted his ascension and she had little time left to rule the world. If Hattie had been a smarter woman, she would have joined forces with him rather than going off on her own quest to conquer and rule.

Thomas decided it was time to take some initiative and lunged at Donny. The demon knocked him backwards with ease but Xander clobbered him from behind. Thomas got to his feet quickly and pulled a blade. "You're not my son!" He shouted in a rage as he plunged the blade into Donny's chest. "He died a long time ago! Damn you Hattie Olin!"

"Oh what a mess, I do hope that blood doesn't reach my new shoes." The Mayor chuckled as he watched his slayer in a struggle to get free.


Chapter Nine

Buffy charged at Hattie with lightening speed as a band of demons entered. "The once great Mayor shall die!" One shouted as the mayor dodged the first assault from two demons.

Faith struggled to break free and Buffy going at Hattie was just the opportunity she needed. Nothing was more important now than aiding her boss and that is just what she did. "Has she gone mad?" Giles said with all hope dwindling that Faith would do a turn around to the good side. He motioned his other crewmembers out the door in order for them to prepare to set Buffy free.

As Buffy battled Hattie, Faith sliced and diced her way through the band of demons until she made her way to the Mayor. He could tell she was drained and weak but knew she would defend him at all cost. This pleased the Mayor greatly as Angel dove in and sliced Hattie through the middle. He knew Angel did this to keep Buffy from having to kill a human being and thought it noble but fruitless. "Faith now!" He shouted as Faith swept Angel's legs out from under him and the Mayor grabbed the pendant that had hung around Tara's neck. With what little power it possessed from the transfer of Tara's essence, he lifted Buffy high in the air. "Show is over," with a chuckle, he proceeded to back her out of the room.

"No!" Thomas shouted and went after the mayor. "I want whatever they took from my daughter restored!" The Mayor laughed as he waved his hand and Thomas hit the floor with a thud.

"Descend," Tara spoke under her breath and Buffy began to drop to the ground.

Willow noticed Tara's efforts were still weakened and was glad her essence was still in place. She focused her energy on moving Buffy to help Tara. "We got her," Xander said and scrambled to help Anya get the blonde slayer in the car to head off.

As the Scoobies made their get away, Giles turned his attentions to the dorm room where Faith was beating Angel down fast. Giles eyes locked with Tara's and her great pain was evident to him. He felt for the girl but knew he must act fast and feared it was too late to save Angel.

His calculations were right as the Mayor plunged the stake deep in Angel's chest, which ended his redemption path. "You tell Summers the war is on!" He hissed as he took hold of Faith's arm to help her up.

Tara looked at Faith with the realization that Faith couldn't truly change written all over her face as Thomas reached out his hand to assist his daughter. "Tara, we have so much to talk about, so much to heal if I even have a chance."

The words her father spoke helped the blonde understand in some fashion what Faith was feeling. Tara had wanted a loving father all her life, one who would be truly good to her and love her. She feared that bond with the Mayor would keep Faith from being able to turn over a new leaf. She also feared she would not be able to get over all the things her father had done to her but as she looked into his sad eyes, she knew that was not really her father and she had to try. She had to try finding it within herself to love the man her mother once loved before Hattie ruined all their lives.

With one more look at Faith, Tara turned and left the room with her father, Giles and Willow. "I'm so sorry Faith," the Mayor spoke in a soothing tone as he patted her shoulder. "Come let's get you some cheese cake and a good rest.

Tara awoke late the next afternoon on the Summer's couch. She rubbed her eyes and looked at Willow who was smiling down at her. "Joyce is gone to fix some dinner. You've been asleep quite awhile and your dad is here too." Willow looked the shy blonde over in wonderment as to Tara's train of thought. "I got you some things from the room, what was left of it. You can get cleaned up," Willow pointed towards the stairs as she spoke and motioned to lead Tara up them.

Tara heard the redhead speak but her mind was a tangled mess. She felt hurt over her grandmother, uncertainty over her father, and devastation over Faith's choice. She had thought Faith cared a great deal for her but realized she didn't care at all. The tears began to spill down Tara's cheeks as Willow embraced her tightly. "It's okay Tara; I'm here if you let me help you."

As Willow cradled a sobbing Tara in her arms, Thomas watched them then turned to Joyce. "With all do respect ma'am, I understand where that young slayer is coming from. Though I was being controlled, where I've been a bastard so long, it's not so easy turning my life around but I'm determined to do it for my daughter. I know how frantic Faith was when Tara was in danger and I know she almost killed me to save Tara. I've got to believe she will heal my little girl's broken heart."

"I do hope you're right Mr. Maclay," Joyce said with a not so convinced tone in her voice, as she picked up the phone.

After a brief moment, she placed the phone back on the table as Thomas flipped the chops. "When will this end?" Joyce said more to herself then anyone else. "They've now got Buffy, Giles, Anya and Xander in jail."

The Mayor placed a feast of a meal in front of his slayer and a few demons who had smartly rejoined his side quickly. There was still a faction of demons that felt he was weak. They planned to get rid of him for linking himself too tightly to a human. A human who, at times, seemed more cold than the Mayor. "Faith dear, you do know they would have tried to kill me don't you? They may have even succeeded and I did what I did all for you." The mayor spoke with great concern.

"Of course boss," Faith looked up at him as she slowly ate her meal. Her heart ached to know how badly she had hurt Tara but she couldn't let the Mayor down either. She felt torn in half as to what to do then remembered something. [She alone must fight the forces of darkness.] She knew now that no matter what, she had to do what she had to do and pray that she wanted to do it if the time came. The Mayor loved her, Tara may love her also but that sort of love was a gamble. She knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this man would never leave her side as he had proved that fact abundantly. There was one more thing that wouldn't leave her though, her slayer ability. It was these three aspects that made Faith feel as though her very body would rip apart down the middle and rid her torn soul of this life forever.

"You will be all right Faith," the Mayor offered. "She loves you and I have no doubt at all that you can't win her back no matter what the agenda is." He clinked her glass with his and smiled. "Be a trooper Faithie and win the girl at all cost! That is what we do, am I right?"

Faith smiled as a charge of power went through her veins upon the sound of his energetic words. She remembered the darkness, tasted its riches, its lust and power and smiled. "You're always right boss."

"That's my girl," he said cheerfully. "Now let us celebrate the downfall of that pesky Scooby gang. Imagine that, couldn't they have come up with a more suitable name than the Scoobies. What a bunch of inept children."

Joyce and crew ate a quiet meal at the Summers home. She had decided not to tell the girls what had transpired as of yet and hoped they would retire early so she and Thomas could try to find some sort of plan to get the gang out of jail. She doubted Buffy would be released quickly but felt if they could get the others out, her release would be sped up. "Why don't you girls retire for the evening," Thomas suggested in hopes he'd read Joyce's plan of action correctly. "Tara, I want us to talk soon but you need your rest first."

"I agree," Willow said with worry on her face for Tara. She wanted to help her so badly for more than one reason but knew friendship was all Tara needed at this point. Being the good friend was Willow's strong point and she put her resolve face on as she took Tara's hand to lead her up to Buffy's room.

"You know I do love her," Tara said softly as her lip quivered. "She doesn't love me though does she?"

Willow didn't know quite how to respond to Tara's statement so hugged her tightly. "Tara, no matter what happens, I'm here for you.

Tara relaxed in Willow's embrace, "thanks W-Willow," she stammered.

"No thanks needed Tara. You made a great sacrifice today. You could have gone with Faith and the Mayor because you loved her but you chose to help us free Buffy. That is a selfless act Tara and those who do selfless things get rewarded in the end. You are a special person Tara Maclay." A shy smile crept its way on Tara's face as Willow spoke then placed a gentle kiss on Tara's cheek. Both women jumped back in alarm at the electrical charge they felt when Willow kissed Tara's cheek. They looked at each other then both chose to ignore it and relax to allow sleep to overtake them.


Chapter Ten

The next evening, Tara, Willow, Joyce and Thomas sat at the dining room table discussing how to get the gang out of jail. Their ideas were few and far between and all welcomed the break when the door shook with a firm knock. "That sounds like Faith," Willow said and rose to get the door.

"I-I-I'll get it," Tara stammered as she looked at her father. The two of them had a long way to go in their relationship but Tara hoped they could repair it.

"Tara, you don't have to talk with her just yet if you don't want…" Willow's words were cut off as Faith barged in the door.

"What's up with that Red, you after my girl now?" Faith asked as her dark eyes flickered about the room with a coldness Tara had not seen before.

"Faith, Tara is good; you chose your side when you went with the mayor." Willow said with an inward fear that she refused to let the others see. Someone had to be strong against Faith and, though she didn't feel very strong, she would do her best to fake it.

"If I recall, Tara is the one who walked out the door with you freaks of nature! Tara is the one who chose to set B free! That was none of my doing!" Faith shot back in anger.

"Willow, it's probably best that you don't further agitate her." Joyce said in her usual calm voice.

"I'm not gonna let Faith manipulate Tara!" Willow said angrily.

"Tara is a big girl," Faith said circling passed Joyce over to the blonde. "So, is that how it is Tara? Just because I don't like B and she-witch here, you gonna leave me now?"

"Faith, it's not like that." Tara said softly as she wondered if she ever really knew Faith. "When I walked out that door, I was choosing good over evil, cousin or not, the man is evil." Her eyes dropped to the floor, as she couldn't bear to look at the slayer. Faith had a pull over her and she knew she could not accept her if she was going to be evil.

"Tara, you knew what I was about, you said you understood me," Faith said as she struggled to keep her temper in check. "You wanted to have something with me, now just because I'm not righteous, you're gonna leave me just like everyone else did huh?" Faith didn't care who heard her; she loved Tara and planned on keeping her in her life. She loved the mayor also and knew she had to find a way to make Tara remember their long talks. She hoped that this would make Tara remember how she told Faith she wouldn't leave her and that she understood her struggles.

"Faith won't hurt me Willow," Tara said as she stood up to follow the slayer out the door.

Willow stood to go after them but Joyce put a hand on the redhead's shoulder. "Willow, let her go. She has to do this in order to find out on her own what is and isn't."

Willow felt her stomach clench up in knots, she knew then that she was falling for the good-hearted witch. She also knew that if Faith hurt her, she would find a way to seek vengeance on the dark slayer. "All right, I guess we should find a way to free the gang with Faith distracted."

"Right you are," Thomas said as he worried about his daughter. He truly felt she was safe with Faith, the Faith he knew that is but did he know the real Faith?

Faith and Tara walked inside a well-decorated apartment. It had all the fixings a young girl of Faith's taste could want. A large stereo with cd's and big screen TV with a play station lined one wall. A mini-bar, weapons chest and small bookshelf lined the other wall. A plush sectional sofa was at the other end of the room with a large table in the center. "T-T-This is nice." Tara said, as she looked the room over.

"Yeah, the Mayor set it all up for me." Faith said as she went in the kitchen and brought out a tray of food she'd had delivered while they were on their way to the apartment. "Tara, why don't we have some dinner then we can talk?"

"That sounds good," Tara said with less stammer than earlier. The more she looked into Faith's captivating brown eyes, the safer she felt. She wasn't sure as to her next move but knew Faith did care; she just had to.

Faith sat a plate of food in front of Tara. "It's good stuff, sorta like your grandma used to make." Faith hoped her words weren't the wrong ones. She wanted to make Tara feel at ease with her and knew how much Tara loved home cooked meals. "The chef at this restaurant is real popular around here."

Tara returned Faith's smile though was afraid to give the slayer any hopes. Her heart ached because she cared for the slayer very deeply but knew she couldn't live a life of evil and hoped Faith couldn't either. "Thanks," Tara said softly as the two ate their meal in virtual silence.

"Tara," Faith said with a serious look on her face as the two sat down from clearing the table. "Y'know, I never lead you on nor lied to you about who I was. I never made any big redemption promises to you either but when you walked off like that, I felt like it was all a lie. I thought you were willing to except me for who I was and knew I was trying to not do so much wrong."

Tara studied the brunette as she spoke and saw the pain in her eyes. She too was pained because she let Faith down. "Faith, it's not like that. I understand you have loyalties to the Mayor and I meant it when I said I wanted to be with you. You had a choice though and you blatantly chose to harm a decent human being without any thought."

"Just like you expected I would be a perfect little slayer after all I told you. You knew I was far from good Tara!" Faith's voice rose in anger yet her eyes cloaked it well. "I told you I would never hurt you! I never once told you I would help B, not once and you knew the score between us because it was explained to you."

Tara's eyes glanced around the room, anywhere but near the angry slayer. She knew Faith was upset and hurt but she was also and didn't know quite what to do. "Faith, I thought what we had was growing into something special and I never expected you to turn on your boss but," Tara lowered her head as she spoke. She realized, at that split second, that is exactly what she had expected of Faith. She knew people couldn't change on a dime, yet she somehow expected that the little time she shared with Faith was enough to change her. That she had what it took to reshape Faith's traumatic life into something good in such a brief time. She realized that she might have made a fatal mistake, that maybe she should have stood by Faith and encouraged her to change her ways rather than running out on her. Faith needed to be shown that someone good was going to hang in there; believed in her, and knew she could change and Tara had done just the opposite. She had only proved nobody stays in Faith's life. She began to cry with this realization because she was certain there was no fixing it now. She believed that once Faith was hurt, she closed off to the person dishing out the hurt forever.

When Tara looked back at the slayer, she saw no emotion in her eyes as she watched Tara's tears fall and that only hurt Tara more. "Faith, this is all new to me also. I thought you were choosing evil over me and I ran. I don't want you to have to make life-altering choices just for me. I want you to make them for you and I'm so sorry I got scared and ran. I wasn't planning on doing that because I do care. You've got to believe me Faith; I acted impulsively and really have made a mess of things. Of course, I want you to be on the good side but I can't force you and I knew that from the beginning. I'm not certain how far down the road I can handle the dark side Faith but I'm willing to give us a try if you can forgive me."

Faith studied the blonde for several minutes. She loved Tara's blue eyes because they oozed with love, compassion and most of all, honesty. "Nobody has ever asked my forgiveness before." Faith said in a low voice as she tried to calm her overactive mind. Part of her was saying to let Tara go for her own good while another part of her was screaming for her to forgive the beautiful woman and claim what was hers. The third part of Faith, the small good part left in her was saying, maybe you can climb out of this and become a true slayer if you let her love guide you. "Tara, trust comes very hard for me y'know but all I want to do right now is take you in my arms and kiss you. I want to hold you till the morning comes and let everything else go. I missed getting to hold you so much when I was busy helping the Mayor with your grandmother and I wish I was there for you when you found her out."

Without another word, Faith stood and turned to Tara. She leaned down and pulled the blonde into a firm embrace then placed a gentle kiss on her lips. "I've wanted to do that ever since I had to go away for awhile Tara. I may not be perfect and my loyalties may be questionable but I don't want you to doubt that I care for you. I will never hurt you Tara." Faith spoke softly in between kisses in which Tara responded enjoyably to.

Tara felt safe and secure in Faith's arms and believed the slayer wouldn't purposefully hurt her. Another part of her feared what would happen if the mayor ever made Faith choose between he and Tara but she let Faith's kisses and tender touches wash all of that away for the time being. She had all she ever desired in life at that moment, someone who was attentive to her needs and desires, was telling her how she felt and made her feel secure.

What Tara couldn't figure out however, was why the electrical feeling she and Willow shared when their hands touched came up in her mind. She and Faith were progressing into the heavy make out stage when it happened the warm sensation she felt with Willow crept its way in her mind. She tried to block the feeling out because she knew it was wrong to have thoughts of another while with someone. No matter how she tried to concentrate on Faith though, she couldn't shake the presence of Willow's touch.

As Faith slowly eased Tara into more passionate making out, her slayer senses kicked in. "Tara," she said in a low aroused voice. "Are you all right with this?"

Tara contemplated whether or not to stop. She wanted more than anything to be with Faith out of love and to assure the slayer she was not going to run out on her so easily any more. "I-I-I'm all right." Tara managed to get out as Faith aggressively kissed her.

Faith tried to shake off the feeling she was getting that something wasn't right and it worked. She pored all her energy into loving Tara for what she hoped was the first of many nights to come.


Chapter Eleven

The bright morning sun beamed through the windows giving a false sense of a beautiful normal day in Sunnydale. Nothing was ever normal in this little town, Willow thought as she rubbed her eyes. The smell of bacon and eggs made her nose twitch in appreciation as she decided to wake up more quickly. "Mr. Maclay," Willow said fifteen minutes later as she entered the kitchen freshly showered and smiling.

"Hello ma'am, Joyce has gone to bail out Xander and Anya. They have some trumped up charges on Giles and if the entire set of charges they have on Buffy sticks, she'll never get out of there." Thomas frowned as he placed two plates of food on the table with large glasses of orange juice. "I worry about Tara, that girl was the first one who paid her any attention. That's partly my fault and now I'm afraid I messed her life up for good."

"I'll do whatever I can to help Tara." Willow said with a reassuring smile on her face. She convinced herself that whatever means she used to keep Tara out of harm's way would be excused because they would be for the grater good.

"I think Faith cares for her; I just hope it's enough." Thomas said thoughtfully as Joyce's car pulled in the drive.

"This is ridiculous!" Anya came in the door with a shout. "I am in need of a manicure for sure now, not to mention a good orgasm!"

"An please, we have important things to discuss such as Buffy's future. I suggest jail break and worry about the consequences later." Xander offered as he filled his plate.

"I'm inclined to agree with the boy," Thomas said furrowing his brow. "The best lawyer money can buy won't beat that monster we are forced to call a mayor."

"Surely there has to be a more civilized plan that won't land the rest of us in jail." Joyce said with a look on her face that showed fear; fear that Xander indeed had the best plan available.

Faith awoke before Tara and placed a gentle kiss on her forehead. She wished in her heart that she had met Tara before her life went spiraling in a direction she wasn't so sure she could get away from, if she even wanted to get away from it. Why had she allowed this woman into her heart, her mind and soul? Why had she forced Tara into having to choose something that was partially, if not totally, evil when it was obvious Tara was a good soul?

"No more second guessing your life slayer," Faith said in a low voice as she crept out of bed. She had paved her roads long before she met Tara and would have to make do with what the cards dealt her.

As Faith stepped out of the shower, smells of fresh sausage and pancakes drafted her way. She smiled and quietly moved in the kitchen. Stepping behind Tara, she placed a kiss on the back of her neck causing the wiccan to jerk. "Good morning T," Faith said with a smile as she turned on the coffee maker. "That smells great."

"Good morning Faith," Tara said shyly. "I hope you like this." She motioned to the breakfast that she was now putting on plates. "I am not sure if the college will have classes today so I thought I'd make you a nice breakfast before I went to check."

"Oh I'm sure they will," Faith said pouring herself a cup of coffee and getting Tara a glass of orange juice. "Things conspicuously go back to normal fast here in good ole Sunnydale."

The two ate breakfast in silence, enjoying each other's company and being glad they had made amends the night before. Both women wondered how long it would last though, being unsure of what choices lay ahead for them both.

"You're a great cook," Faith said as she finished her meal and stood up. "I have some errands to run this morning so you can let yourself out." She leaned over and kissed Tara several times. "Tara, thank you for trying to understand my position and I do promise you that I will never hurt you in a physical sense. Sometimes we can't do anything about the mental sense but I'll do my best where that is concerned."

"I believe you Faith and I'm sorry I tried to push you." Tara said and returned the kiss.

"So will you be back tonight?" Faith asked with a smile as she encircled her arms tightly around Tara and kissed her again.

"Of course," Tara said as she fought off that electrical feeling she had shared with Willow.

"Great, I'll see you later on then." Faith said and left the apartment.

Willow and Tara finished a late lunch at the campus around 2pm. They had bumped into each other as they both headed for the same eatery. "So, are things all right with you and Faith?" Willow asked with hopes they weren't, though she did want Tara to be happy.

"Last night went well. I think we understand each other better at least. It's good to talk through things, something I hope she can get used to." Tara said regarding her friend with a smile.

"She's never been a talker that I know of." Willow said with a shrug of the shoulders. "We got Xander and Anya out of jail, I'm afraid Buffy is in for a big battle though. They have her charged with attempted murder on the mayor, escaping prison and resisting arrest." Willow frowned as she spoke.

Tara's wheels turned, Buffy's fate seemed bleak for sure. The Mayor had kept his deal though. She had learned from Faith the night before, that he had agreed to drop the attempted murder of Faith charge in exchange for Buffy's help. "I wish there was something I could do to help." Tara offered sincerely.

"I'm not so sure that anyone can help at this point. The Mayor is not going to have a change of heart nor is Faith." Willow frowned having known that statement would hurt Tara but it was the truth.

"I know she hasn't given any of you a reason to believe she might turn herself around." Tara lowered her head as she spoke. "I have to believe in her though; she has done so much for me."

"It's all right Tara," Willow hugged the woman and brushed the hair from over her eyes. "I know you're not evil, I trust you and will not hold your current choice of company against you."

They continued talking as they left the eatery; neither girl noticed they were being watched. "So, maybe we can study for that science test together." Willow offered casually. She wanted to be near Tara, to get to know her better, to comfort and protect her.

"Sure," Tara replied with a smile. "I have one more class, maybe around 6:30?"

"That sounds great, I'm sure your dad would love the opportunity to have dinner with you also, maybe the two of you can have a chance to talk." Willow felt guilty for using that particular card but she had made up her mind and was not going to be deterred.

It was 9:30, Faith sat in her apartment waiting for Tara. She had gathered a few things for the Mayor earlier in the day and gone on a quick patrol when the sun had set. He had reminded her that it was perfectly fine for her to continue the slayer duties and rid the town of low life vampires and demons that were of no use to him. What Faith didn't know was that the Mayor had Tara followed the entire day. He wasn't about to let any opportunity pass him by. If he felt Faith were going to stray for the witch, he had the ace in the hole, Willow Rosenberg.

As she flipped through the TV channels and sipped her beer, the door opened. "Hey T," Faith rose to greet her and kissed her.

Tara's lips went into a frown quickly. "Hi, I'm sorry I'm late and I really don't like the taste of beer." Faith smiled and popped a breath mint in her mouth. "I had a test to study for so Willow and I studied. Then I had dinner with them and talked to my father for a bit."

Faith didn't like the idea of Tara befriending Willow for some reason. Probably because she saw how protective Willow was over her and the fact that Willow hated Faith. She decided to play it cool for now seeing as Tara was trying hard to be understanding of her association with the Mayor. "I'm glad you got to spend time with your dad Tara." Faith said with a fake smile on her face. "I missed you though," she ushered Tara over to the couch.

"I missed you too Faith." Tara said and sat down next to the slayer.

"How about we snuggle up here and watch a movie." Faith said as she placed kisses all over Tara's face.

"Are you going to really watch the movie?" Tara asked shyly.

"That all depends on if you want to watch it or not." Faith said and pulled Tara close to her. "Y'know T, most of my time spent with someone I kiss is sex and get gone. I think it would be kinda nice to relax here and watch a show. It makes it feel more real."

"That sounds good to me then." Tara said as she snuggled close to Faith enjoying the contact and honesty that was coming from the slayer.


Chapter Twelve

Faith was walking down a long winding corridor with a flashlight in her hand. The corridor seemed never ending as she trudged down the long path. She came upon Tara's corpse and shuttered outwardly. She looked to her right and saw the corpse of Tara's father; they both were nothing but bones. Faith knew who they were without being able to see their faces. She stopped and stared at Tara's bones as she heard faint laughter in the distance and knew it to be the laugh of the Mayor.

Faith jumped upright in the bed with sweat trickling down her face. She knew that Tara had already gone for the day but felt a sinking terror deep within her. She knew the Mayor loved her and wanted her with him as the ascension progressed. She knew the small tasks she had been doing for him over the last couple of days were in preparation of the days leading up to the ascension. She knew she was the only one who could stop him, if she wished to stop him. If she did this, she knew that she would not free Buffy until her slayer duty was fulfilled because the slayer would take it from her once again.

Tears flooded down her face as she realized it was now or never. She had to make a choice, one that had been brewing in her mind for quite some time now. She had kept this choice in the depths of her mind for fear the Mayor would pick up on her inner turmoil but the time was drawing near. The time was coming in which she had to make a decision and begin acting on it.

Ever since the day at the farm when she had her epiphany, she had been preparing for the ultimate choice. She had played every card just right so as not to tip any one off, not even Tara. Now she knew she must decide, was the love of an evil man enough to keep her from leaving the good fight forever? Was Tara's love enough to keep her away from the dark side forever?

Faith stood with her hand on the phone deciding whether or not to make a life changing call when the Mayor came rushing in. "Faith," he said in a sad tone. "Dear, I have something of the most unfortunate matter to show you."

Tara and Willow sat at the park with brunch. "I can't believe they canceled that class today. Nothing ever gets canceled here because of a little vampy action."

"I should have called Faith I suppose." Tara said not wanting to exclude Faith from her morning of unexpected freedom.

"You can use my phone if you want." Willow suggested and pulled out her cell. She loathed Faith for her part in Buffy's predicament. She feared for Tara's safety because of her closeness to the dark slayer but had to be careful. She couldn't let Tara know how she was feeling about anything so continued her standing as supportive friend.

"That's all right," Tara said with her trademark half-smile on her face. "She's probably sleeping anyway."

"Do you think the two of you can get through all of this?" Willow asked as she handed Tara a bottle of water. "I mean, isn't it hard to think of what could happen?"

"I gave my word to Faith that I would try but I am not sure how far down the road of evil I can travel with her. She knows my feelings as I do hers." Tara explained, touched at her friend's concern. "It's not easy but I can't just run out on her. I believe everyone deserves a chance to change their ways. I hope that Faith will see how much I care and want to change for us."

Willow looked at Tara with admiration written all over her face. "I wish I could have such a forgiving soul. I guess the soul gets hardened with too much time on a hellmouth. I just can't see my way to giving her that chance when I know she could help Buffy and won't."

"I understand your position Willow, I really do. I'm just happy that you are not judging me by the company I keep." Tara said as she finished her water and looked out over the school lawn.

"I would never judge you like that Tara." Willow said softly and touched the blonde's hand. They both felt that now familiar charge that flowed between them and looked at each other for a few seconds. "You are one special lady Tara and Faith is one lucky girl."

As the two hugged, neither of them saw Faith turn and walk off beside the mayor. "I don't know what that's all about," the Mayor said in a comforting tone of voice once he and Faith were out of earshot.

"Neither do I boss," was all Faith said as they continued walking down the street.

The Mayor felt bad for his slayer, he truly wanted her to be happy but had to do what needed done. He was not the cause of the two women getting all chummy on the lawn but did not hesitate to use their situation to his advantage.

Faith sat in her apartment in disbelief. Tara had lied to her, flat out lied. She couldn't believe Tara would do this to her after the things they shared last night. She folded a piece of paper up that had the number she planned to call on it. "Dunno if I will be needing your services or not." Faith said aloud as she popped the top off a bottle of beer. "The good side has too many hurts and the boss will never hurt me."

She drank two more beers and allowed all her emotions to swirl around in her head. She had almost made the decision to join the good fight, almost but was glad she didn't now. Even if there turned out to be a good explanation for what she saw, she decided not to act in such haste. The Mayor was the one always there for her; family love was no gamble as were other types of love.

Tara entering the house withdrew her from thought. "Hey T," Faith said as she looked out the window.

"Hi, class was canceled this morning." Tara said as she looked at the beer bottles. "I thought you would be sleeping so had brunch on the lawn with Willow. Do you always drink this early?" Tara finished speaking and smiled at her girlfriend. She hoped Faith wasn't drinking to decide on some big decision of evil or good but vowed to remain supportive.

Faith pondered Tara's explanation briefly. She figured that she could have the story checked out if she needed to but was the sleeping a good enough excuse? "You and Red are getting pretty chummy," Faith said dully as she lit a cigarette.

"She's come to be a great friend and doesn't try to sway me at all where you are concerned. I thought she would but she hasn't thus far." Tara said oblivious to the undertone in Faith's voice.

"I have an hour before my next class," Tara said and sat next to Faith. "If you want, I could get you some lunch."

"I grabbed a bite while I was with the Mayor." Faith replied as she tried to gather her thoughts. "We took a nice little walk to the college."

"Oh?" Tara asked not understanding Faith's meaning.

Faith stood from the sofa and looked coldly at the blonde Wiccan. "I saw you in an embrace with Red! What's your answer for that one Tara?" Faith felt her anger getting the better of her but couldn't help it.

"Faith, you don't think," Tara dropped her head in sadness. "Faith we were complimenting each other on our abilities not to judge others because of who they like and don't like is all."

"That's how it starts Tara! Can't you see what she's doing? She's slowly making her move and you're sitting there letting her do it! Maybe you want her to do it is the reason!" Faith turned and walked out the door quickly.

Tara sat in stunned silence at Faith's outburst. Willow had been nothing more than a caring friend to her during this entire ordeal. She had not once tried to keep Tara from Faith but it was obvious to Tara that Faith was very judgmental. She sank back on the sofa and allowed the tears to fall from her face until she had to get ready for her next class.


Chapter Thirteen

It had been two days since Faith had spoken to Tara. She avoided the blonde like the plague and drank her spare time away. She tried to shut all the hurt and anger out but couldn't; it overwhelmed her more than any of the childhood pain she'd survived. She realized that was a big deal because it ranked Tara above all others in her book of those she cared for. She knew that she cared deeply for the mayor but now questioned if that was real or just some fantasy she had concocted because he gave her family. She wanted so badly for someone to love and care for her and he was there. She knew a part of her cared for him when it came down to it but wondered how far he would go for her. Granted, he gave up his plans for her once but would he do it again? This time around, she was healthy and not missing. Would he be happy acting as a family and no evil plans? "Faith," Thomas Maclay said softly as he pulled up along side the dark slayer. "If you're not busy, I would like a minute of your time."

Faith darted her cold eyes at the man who did not flinch nor attempt to get away. "I have no time for you or your daughter!" She hissed and kicked the side of the old truck.

"What if I tell you that I agree with you on some of the points you made to my daughter!" The man barked back. "We had a long talk and I told her that I think Willow was trying to move in on her. I told her that the two of you need some serious alone time to fix this mess!"

"I have work to do!" Faith yelled, unwilling to let him get the better of her emotional state.

"Sure you do," he hissed angrily. "You're going to go help that monster end the world as we know it all because you were scorned by a girl? What a wimp you are slayer! I thought you had more guts then us all and now you are reduced to this! You're doing this All for revenge on Tara! What a fucking joke!" Having finished his speech, Thomas sped off from Faith's view.

"Fuck!" Faith shouted and kicked a trashcan over. "You're so stupid Faith, no wonder they all love Buffy!"

Tara sat in the library at the college. She had been running through the conversation she had with her father the night before. Willow was always there for her, kind, understanding and helpful. She not once made a move on Tara but both her father and Faith felt that was exactly what she was doing. She had grown to consider Willow a good friend; granted there was some connection between them but one Tara would never explore because she loved Faith. "Tara," Willow said softly as she stepped around the table next to the solemn woman. "Are you all right?"

Tara thought about lying but knew that wasn't in her nature. "No Willow, I don't know if I can do this."

"Do what Tara?" Willow asked as she sat next to the woman.

"I don't know if I can get over Faith and I don't think she will want to fix things. I mean she thinks we are getting on with something. I told you what happened and thought it would get easier but it just isn't." Willow placed her hand on Tara's and felt the connection instantly.

"Tara, I'm not going to bash Faith but what she did to you was wrong. She never even listened to your explanation which was entirely the truth." Willow wished that she could comfort Tara, hold her and kiss her but knew that was impractical at this point. She hoped the little trick she'd pulled of making sure Tara felt their connection while she was intimate with Faith would have done the trick but she was wrong. She felt guilty for pulling such a stunt on the Wiccan but feared for her safety so much that she would do almost anything to get her away from Faith. After she'd pulled the stunt twice, she promised herself that she would never do it again and she had not thus far.

"I'm not going to lie to you Tara. I am attracted to you but I would never purposefully come between you and another person." Willow was telling the truth, her main goal for removing Faith from Tara's life was to keep her safe. If they developed something more in the process, that would be an added bonus. "I hope you can believe that Tara because your friendship means the world to me."

Just then, Giles raced into the library. "Thomas got it!" He shrieked in utter happiness. "That vampire he befriended planted the bug in the Mayor's car and he just so happened to mention how he cleverly framed Buffy."

As he held the device out, his wrist was snapped backwards and he was lifted in the air. "Wrong move watcher!" Faith shouted and tossed him to the floor like a rag doll. "B's not getting' out till I say!" She turned to Willow and Tara and gave them both an icy stare. "You understand that ladies?"

Willow looked at Tara whose face showed sadness. "I'm sorry Tara," Willow put a hand on the woman's shoulder in an effort to comfort her.

Faith moved quickly and slapped Willow to the floor. "Don't you dare follow me Red! Tara, you move from one bed to another quickly doncha!"

"Faith, I have not slept with anyone but you and I will not allow you to degrade my name like that!" Tara had enough and spoke sternly though it did nothing to rattle the slayer.

"You stomped on my feelings once T, it will never happen again!" She glared at the blonde and made a quick retreat out the door.

As Giles picked himself up, Tara thought on what had just transpired. "Something's not right," she said more to herself than the other occupants of the room. "If she hated me so much, she would have shown violence towards me and she said Buffy doesn't get out till she says it's time."

Willow didn't think much of Faith right now but hoped Tara had the correct assumption. "If you're wrong Tara, we're all in danger of losing our lives. She will take that device to the mayor and hand us all over on a silver platter."

"Willow is right Tara. Perhaps it is time that you stopped trying to find the good in Faith and join us in efforts of freeing Buffy. She can then deal with Faith properly."

"It doesn't matter what we think Giles!" Willow snapped not liking the fact that the irritated man seemed to make Tara recoil within herself. "She is in love with Faith, good or evil, that is a fact. She has to do what she feels is necessary and in the way she sees fit."

Tara gave Willow a grateful half-smile as the tears trickled down her cheeks. She was glad Willow was able to put her personal feelings aside and support her in whatever decisions she would have to make. "Thanks Willow," she said with a noticeable stutter. "I have to take the gamble that she won't allow me to be hurt because she promised. If she gives him that thing, I could be hurt because of association."

Faith's head was in a daze as she neared the mayor's office. She knew that if she didn't do something, the world would be in ruins starting with Sunnydale. She also knew that she loved the raw energy that she felt when she was exuding her power for means that weren't on the up and up. She was so confused, in love with Tara, yet loyal to the mayor. "Hey boss," she said dryly as she entered his office.

"Hello Faith my dear! Have you got the item I am in need of?" His eyes lit up with delight as he spoke.

"Yeah I got it but we gotta talk." Faith said as she kept some distance between her and the man that made her feel like she had a family.

Of course," he said with a smile and handed her a bottle of water. "You don't get enough of the liquidy goodness that makes you healthy Faith."

"Boss, why is it that you have to do this ascension deal? I mean, can't you just be happy with things how they are?" Faith got right to the point being attentive to his gaze.

"Faithie, are you going to bail on me?" He asked with great concern in his voice.

"Would you kill me if I said yes?" The dark slayer asked with frankness in her voice.

The Mayor looked at the slayer as if he'd been mortally wounded. "Now Faithie, look what I've done for you. I am deeply hurt that you even would consider that I might," she cut his words off as she pulled out a box and held it up.

"I had a dream that Tara died and you were laughing. Y'know boss, I never cared about anyone like I let myself care for you. I believed in you but now I wonder that do you only care cause I can give you things you need?"

"Faith, I gave up the ascension for you once. I risked everything to see that you were well. I can understand your confusion with all that has transpired with Tara and young Ms. Rosenberg. She is to blame for this dear, not me. I would suggest you take this problem up with her." The mayor's gaze never faltered from one of hurt and concern as he spoke.

Faith knew he was right on many fronts. He had risked it all for her, Willow was at fault for most of the problems she now had with Tara and the Mayor had never lied to her about anything. She felt so confused and hurt. She didn't know which side to be on or which way to turn. "Let me ask you this again boss, if I changed sides and destroyed this box here, would you kill me?"


Chapter Fourteen

Faith stood stone-faced as she awaited the Mayor's answer. The Mayor, in turn, had a look of utter shock upon his face as he opened his mouth to speak. "Faith is this some sort of stand off? Do you question my loyalties after all this time? I am not the one cavorting around with Willow Rosenberg but rather the one who has done everything in his power to give you what you want and need."

Faith studied the man's features closely in attempt to find some sort of sign as to his true feelings. "I asked a question and I am waiting for the answer. Will you kill me if I destroy this box, the final key to your ascension?" On the inside, the slayer was aching but he couldn't see it. She felt as if she were being disloyal to the only person who would ever truly know and care for her. All the while, another part of her felt that Tara would be there to help her through the hurt if she carried through with her plan.

The Mayor's facial expression changed to mirror the one Faith sported. He had no emotion whatsoever on his face or in his body language, as he gazed back at the slayer. "Faith, you have no idea what's in that box. You could cause serious damage to a lot of people if you destroy it."

"I got my answer," she looked deep into the eyes of the man who showed her love and kindness. "I know you care about me and I care about you, but the question is, will I let you murder tons of innocent people?" Faith took a small knife with intricate writing on it out of her pocket. "I picked this up along with the box." She said flatly, as the Mayor's face changed to a look of horror.

"Faithie, stop playing games!" The Mayor shouted in a demanding voice, as he stood from his chair and rounded the desk swiftly.

"Willow, you didn't have to come with me." Tara stammered, as the two young women headed towards the city building at an ever-quickening pace. "I know none of you believe what I said but there is something off. Faith would have done more to me then a verbal lashing if she were really so furious."

Willow pondered what the Blonde said carefully and knew Tara was right. "I believe you Tara. I know Faith well and have been at the receiving end of her brutality. When she feels betrayed, she freaks out big time and she's only half freaked."

A car with thick blankets over the windows pulled to a screeching stop next to the women who stopped abruptly. "Get in," a soft but stern voice said in an urgent fashion. "There is no time for questions; Willow can fill you in on what a doppelganger is later." Angel said as he sped towards the Mayor's office.

Willow's face recovered quickly from the shocked look that spread across it when the pair had jumped in the car. She didn't know the details but easily assumed Angel's doppelganger was killed. "What's the plan?" Willow asked tentatively, as Angel searched for a hiding place.

"We let the slayer do her job, that's all she ever asked for. We act if needed," Angel said flatly, as he stepped out of the car in broad daylight. "It's a sunlight cloaking spell, it will only last a short time so I hope she moves fast." Angel said in response to Willow and Tara's questioning eyes.

He darted around the side of the building and turned on a small device that he had on a chain, which was attached to his jacket. "We listen for now." He said and settled himself against the wall with both girls huddled next to him.

"Faithie, stop playing games!" The trio heard over the small device, as they readied themselves for whatever was to come.

"This is no game boss! I know you care for me, I truly do but I also know a few other things." Faith stood tall in front of the Mayor, unshaken by his nearing proximity to her person. "I did well, just like you taught me and know that you did something boss. Though you didn't cause Red to go after Tara, you planned to use it to your advantage if I tried to cross you. You had her watched and I know this cause you never killed fang!" Pure rage darted through Faith's eyes as she continued her tirade. "I trusted you with everything in me boss and part of me still does but you were planning to use another person to keep me in line. That is not family!" She swung the knife dangerously close to the Mayor who stood still as a statue listening to her every word.

"Faithie, I feared you would leave me because of Tara. I acted in haste because I did not want to lose you. It had nothing to do with my plans; I can promise you that. I was being honest with you when I said that I would keep Tara safe but I saw her bonding with Willow, saw her give you an ultimatum when she walked out on you at the dorm and I feared you would leave me to please her." The Mayor's face softened as he spoke to Faith. "Young Ms. Rosenberg was using magic to keep some feeling she and Tara shared in Tara's mind while the two of you were together, I did what I thought was best. I only wanted to protect you and keep you with me at any cost. I gave up everything for you once Faith, and I did it because you are very dear to me."

Faith's features shifted to a mixture of fondness for the Mayor and hurt at his revelation of what Willow had done as she shut off the device in her pocket. "I didn't know fang didn't die till he contacted me. He promised me that he would not get involved unless I needed his help and watched you through some inside spies. Boss, you gave me what I could never have before, love and family and I will always be grateful for that. I am the slayer though and can't allow you to kill all these innocent people. Is your love for me great enough to stop this madness or will you fight me on it?"

Tara looked at Willow with a shocked and devastated expression. "Is he telling the truth?" She asked having felt the answer in her heart already.

"The device went dead," Angel said dryly in hopes that the two women could deal with their problem later. He knew Willow very well and feared the answer to Tara's question. He also feared that if the words were spoken, it could mess up what was evolving inside the building.

"Tara," Willow began cautiously; she knew this was not the time for this conversation but didn't know what else to do. "I grew attached to you very fast and-and-and I was afraid that Faith and the Mayor would destroy you. I screwed up but did it with good intentions. I wanted to keep you safe and we did feel something when we touched. You can't deny that but I did it for your safety, not my own personal desires and I hope you believe me."

The sound of the device kicking back in stopped the conversation before Tara could respond. Tara felt relieved at the interruption because her mental state was one of utter confusion at this point. "Faithie, please don't put me in the situation of choosing again. I'm begging you, stop this nonsense!" Were the next words the small group heard from the Mayor's mouth.

Faith was glad that whoever was outside the building could not see the tears that were trickling down her cheeks. The Mayor saw them and his heart ached for his slayer but he was not backing down. "Boss, I got my chance to do right and maybe have people believe in me for good reasons. Please don't make this hard, you can stop this."

"Faith, they will never believe in you. They will just shun you and mock you because you left Buffy in jail. They will tell you that you did this for personal glory, not the betterment of mankind and use her jail stay as the proof."

Something deep within Faith began to stir, the words that the Mayor spoke were true and she knew it. She would never gain anyone's respect because of Buffy. She knew they would never look up to her because of how she took their proof away and raced out for the Mayor's office. She looked at the knife in her hand and then back at the pleading eyes of the Mayor. "Y'know boss, they caught you up in this plot against Buffy. I took the bug from them and came over here. I can't let anyone else do you any harm but I don't know if I can go for world domination either."

Angel's voice rang through a loud speaker in the building. He had it set up the night before to help ensure that Faith wouldn't be caught with her wire in case he needed to speak. "Faith, don't listen to him. I believe in you and went to great lengths to show you that I did. I could have stopped all of this myself but I didn't because I couldn't put you on a chopping block. I know what it's like to feel alone and hurt as bad as you are right now. The fact is, Faith, you are not alone. Please believe me when I say that I want to help you get the respect and redemption chance that we all deserve."


Chapter Fifteen

Angel's words penetrated through Faith's mind. She knew he believed in her; he could have turned her in many times and did not. She knew Tara believed in her, even if she wasn't showing it in such a good way. She also knew that Thomas believed in her, he allowed her to get through his walls, trusted her with his daughter and helped her out in a few situations. She also knew all the things the Mayor had done for her and came to a decision as to why he did it. "Boss, you treated me like a daughter, you gave up this crazy plan once for me, will you do it again? You talk of how important family is to you, prove it and help me have a normal family. I have friends boss, real friends and I hope I have someone who can love me outside these walls. They showed me that they do believe in me, will you show me that much or are you gonna let evil come in between our family?"

The Mayor looked at his slayer sadly; he remembered hiring her simply to get a job done but something more happened. He had grown fond of this girl and knew it would most likely be his downfall. "Faith, if I don't turn good for you, will you kill me?" He decided to play the same card she played. "You knew my agenda from the get go, yet you allowed me inside your walls as I did you. You know that I have done everything for you and never put demands on you as you are doing me."

"You didn't truly answer me that question either boss, is it gonna be a fight to the death if we can't agree on sides?" Faith flinched inwardly at what was happening between the two of them. Though she didn't allow him to see it, it was killing her on the inside to make the stand that she was making. Little did she know, it was killing the Mayor as well.

"Faith, I founded this town a couple hundred years ago specifically for this purpose. I was Mayor Richard Wilkins I and so on down the line waiting for the day that I would fulfill my goal. Little did I know that my goal was harbored for the same reasons your ways were changed. Granted, there were other reasons for what I embarked upon but much of it was family oriented. I can't promise you that I will be a good person because frankly, it's not my style just as it isn't yours to be a totally good person. It has become my style however, to love you and for that reason, I will not complete my task, at least until your mortal death. This is a death that I hope does not come for many years and I will do whatever is necessary to keep you from dying of an untimely death. My only stipulation is that Buffy Summer's leave the town of Sunnydale for good! If she so much as breathes near you, I will kill her with my bare hands for the pain she's inflicted upon you!" The Mayor's words were spoken with authority, as they resounded throughout the building and outside it thanks to the wire that Faith wore. "As a matter of fact, I want them all gone, Buffy, Joyce and Ms. Rosenberg. Angel may stay to help keep watch on me if you don't fully trust me. Is it a deal?"

"You won't try to stop my slayer duties?" Faith asked trying to stop a smile from appearing on her face.

"You are the slayer," the Mayor smiled at his charge. "I want help from you if I need it but will not get involved in your slaying of those pesky vampires and other demons. Most of the time, they were of no use to me anyhow."

Faith turned to the door and opened it. "Fang, can you arrange all this?" Faith asked, as she looked the vampire over.

"Faith, I can't ask all these people to leave their homes." Angel said emphatically. He knew Faith had the tool that could get rid of the Mayor and was growing angry that she did not use it.

"Do it or I tell him to complete the ascension," Faith barked back. "B let you live far to long when you were Angelus because she loved you. I am givin' him a chance because I love him. Now do it or I take his side fully."

"I can go to Harvard without a problem," Willow spoke up surprising everyone. She realized that Faith did have feelings just as real as everyone else. "And I'm sure Buffy will make a deal to get herself out of jail but Faith, you have to do your job. You can't let evil run a muck."

"No Red, this is your lifelong home, you go to school here. I'm not afraid of what you can do to Tara and I and that's the main reason he wants you gone. So, you can stay, B and fang have to leave. The choice is up to Joyce at what she wants to do." Faith spoke confidently, as she believed the Mayor would be fine with this idea so long as she was okay with it. She also wanted to show Tara that all was well with her and didn't think forcing Willow to leave would be the right way to go about accomplishing this task.

Angel didn't like this plan one iota and was forming a plan. He would go along with it, free Buffy then dispose of the mayor at a later date. Faith's plan was merely putting off the ascension rather than stopping it from happening totally. He could not go along with this so decided to put his plan in motion. "All right, I'll go along with it but let me say this Faith, a true slayer would end the evil, not sweep it under the rug." He walked off after giving his brief statement.

Faith closed the door and looked at the Mayor. "I think you can handle telling B, you want I should take care of Angel for real this time?"

"You got the same vibe I did Faith," the Mayor smiled at his slayer. "Yes take care of him, I keep my ascension box and you keep the only tool that can destroy me, the knife."

"Deal," she returned his smile and walked out of the building where Willow and Tara were finishing up a talk.

"It's gonna take some time for me to trust you Willow, but I understand where you were coming from. You just need to learn why not to use magic in such ways." Tara and Willow shared a brief hug then Willow turned to leave.

"Red," Faith grabbed her arm and spun her around. "You ever do anything like that to Tara or try and mess up my relationship with her, you won't have time to leave Sunnydale cause I'll kill ya!" Willow shivered inwardly having known Faith gave her a real chance to stay in town and there would be no more second chances.

"Fight off the demons and I'll leave you alone." Was willow's response before leaving the two women standing outside city hall alone.

"Faith, I knew something was off. I knew that you would have acted more violent towards me if you were really angry." Tara didn't know where to start but found that was the best place. "I understand that you will never be fully on the up and up as the Mayor said but you made a huge sacrifice today when you stood up to him. I can accept you for who you are and what you do because you have accepted me and I love you."

"Then we're good," Faith kissed the woman several times. "I think you can go back to the apartment and I'll be along in a few minutes."

Tara didn't know why the swift push off but figured she aught not ask questions and left as the Mayor stepped out of the building. "It's being taken care of, Buffy comes one step in this town and she's a dead woman, are we clear?"

"No problem on that with me boss." Faith smiled as she lit a cigarette. "Any of them tries to cross you and they're dead. Now, how long will this extended ascension take?"

"The day Buffy Summers steps in this town, and she will, it starts and will be under way before anyone realizes what's going on. By the way my dear, you need an Oscar." The Mayor slapped his hands together in utter delight.

"Honestly boss, those were things I did wonder at times so it wasn't all acting." Faith grinned sheepishly at the Mayor.

"Well now, I hope you know that I would never kill you and I do realize that you struggled hard to make this decision. I am so glad that you made the right choice. Just keep up with those slayer duties and nobody will be the wiser."

"Me too boss," Faith said and raised the crossbow ending Angel's life before he could inform anyone of what he'd just heard. "Once the ascension starts, Tara will be mine and it will be to late."

Faith entered the apartment with a smile on her face. Waiting for her, was a nice dinner and Tara. "Hey T," Faith said, as she kissed the woman and sat down. "I'm so glad we got all this mess resolved."

"Faith, what's gonna happen after you pass away?" Tara had to ask the question that Angel tried to get answered. She knew Faith was only putting off the Mayor's destruction but promised to stick by her and would do so.

"I got it covered T," Faith pulled the girl into her arms and began kissing her aggressively. "Let's not let all this come between us Tara. I want to be with you," she moved her kissing to Tara's neck and fondling her breasts. "C'mon T, you said yourself that I made a big sacrifice, can't we just let it go for now?"

Tara began returning the kisses feverishly. She had waited for this moment for some time now and wanted to be with Faith badly. Something tugged at the back of her mind however, but she chose to ignore it as Faith asked her too.

As Faith undressed the blonde and passionately kissed her stomach and suckled her breasts, a pounding on the door interrupted her task. "Damn it," she said gruffly and got up to open the door.

"Did you think it was that easy Faith?" Buffy asked with a grin on her face.

"Fuck off Bitch!" Faith shouted and punched Buffy quickly.

Tara looked at both slayers and found that her stomach was churning, something just wasn't right. "Buffy, please go. We made a deal and Faith will stick to it." Tara said weakly.

"I am the slayer! Nobody makes deal with evil beings, we kill them! That's what makes me a true slayer and her nothing! I am just shocked that my friends agreed to this ridiculous plan! Buffy's anger showed clearly in her words and on the features of her face.

Rage was displayed in Faith's eyes as she plunged into the fight with Buffy. Tara stood helpless and watched the madness unfold.

Finally, Willow came along and helped Tara stop the fight. "Buffy, please, give Faith a chance to do her job. We all agreed to do this and the Mayor backed down. Please Buffy, for once, just don't go back on the plan and mess everything up?"

"You've all gone mad!" Buffy shouted and raced out of the apartment, as Willow shrugged at Tara and Faith before following after Buffy.

"She's gonna go after him and all bets will be off," Tara said somberly.

"Can we just finish what we started Tara. I don't wanna worry about B and the Mayor just now." Faith said scooping the woman back into her arms. For the plan to work, she had to make love to Tara and that is just what she did.

Upon finishing the task, Tara felt nothing but total devotion to Faith. All else was forgotten, as the knife that could destroy the Mayor began to shimmer into nothingness. Faith knew now that it was done, the ascension was at hand. She had everything she ever wanted, a father in the Mayor, a lover in Tara and a town that she would co-run with the Mayor.

She also knew a few more things and jumped up from the bed. She put on her clothes quickly and bolted out the door. Tara looked stunned but ran after her barely keeping pace.

She ran into the center of town where the snake-like creature was devouring persons and Buffy lie on the ground bleeding badly. "Didn't get to blow him up this time huh b!" Faith shouted, as she ran up to the creature. "I'm sorry that I had to do it this way, I couldn't hurt you while you were still human because the humanity in you is what I loved. I had to play along with your little game," she said and drove the knife into the big snake just before it got hold of Willow.

Tears flooded down Willow's face, as she ran to Buffy. "Need some help?" Angel said from the sidelines.

The two carried Buffy off in the direction of the hospital, as Tara threw her arms around Faith in great joy. "You really did pick the good side!" Tears leapt down her face as she hugged the slayer.

"Yeah T, it didn't feel to good but I couldn't hurt him while he was human and still loved me. I couldn't risk taking time to see if that snake thing loved me but part of me will always believe it did. I had to play everyone to get this planned out just right and I hope fang will be ok with me killing two of his look-alike thingies y'know? I can't believe the Mayor fell for that twice but I guess it proves that he did really love me. I guess I betrayed his trust in a way."

Tara hugged Faith tightly as her emotions were finally released and tears escaped her eyes. "It's all right Faith, I love you too and there has to be a part of the Mayor, the part that couldn't hurt you, that felt human emotions for you, that is proud of you for being the slayer and doing your job. You saved Willow's life Faith, they can't down you any more."

"Tara," Faith said as she tried to compose herself. "I had to allow the Mayor to cast a devotion spell on you. I had to make him think I was totally up with his plan, y'know? So technically, I'm no better than Willow. We had to make love for the spell to be activated but that's not the only reason I made love to you. I love you Tara, I really do. It was my love for you that helped me to pick this side of the fence and I hope you can forgive me for allowing him to do that."

"It's all over now Faith," Tara said with a slight smile. "Let's move on and forget this. Let's start over, maybe go to my dad's farm where we met and make some new memories?"

"That sounds great to me Tara." Faith said and pulled the blonde in for a long passionate kiss.

The End

Return to BtVS/Angel Fiction

Return to Main Page