DISCLAIMER: Characters belong to the show's creators; I own nothing but my interpretation of them.
PAIRING: B/F, established relationship; previous B/S, which I loathe, but it plays a key role in this fic.
SPOILERS: Dunno, I don't watch the show. Take your chances. My understanding of the Buffy world is distilled from reading fanfic and from lurking on a Buffy ng, so anything is fair game. Actually watch the show? Bah!
DATE: August 2002
Author's Note: This fic was written in response to the following challenge:

For August, I'd like to see some lovers quarrel and then make up. Can be any pairing het, slash, or femme slash, and can be canon or non-canon. Doesn't matter as long as it's a couple and as long as they are a believable one.


1.A fight between lovers
2.A record heat wave
3.At least one person from the couple must use the unbearable heat as their excuse for why the fight happened
4.A make-up session can be smutty or just sweet
5.Something special done by one half of the couple for the other half as a means of making up a gift, a dinner, etc. must be a surprise, though.

Incorporate at least three of the following:

1.A mention of The Powerpuff Girls
2.A cold shower
3.High thread count Egyptian cotton sheets
4.A sexy piece of lingerie
5.Candles and lots of them **Bonus points for using all six

Your Name Upon My Heart
By cyn#

Sunnydale, CA.

Home to Buffy and Faith. Two Slayers that had overcome countless obstacles to become partners, both in love and in duty. They'd declared their love and promised themselves to the other in a private oath made under a full moon. Unwitnessed and unheralded, it meant more to them than anything either had ever known before. Together, they lived and acted as one in their Calling, keeping the streets safe and the nights free from vampiric activity.

Home to the Hellmouth. Evil gravitated to the small town, like a moth to a flame. Vampires especially were drawn to it, despite the formidable presence of the two Slayers...the lure of what lay within more than enough to tempt them. So much opportunity that, with a bit of luck, could give them the world at their feet, their name worshipped by the most powerful of demons.

Home to a record heat wave that had never been experienced before, not in a hundred years. One that was making Slayer and vampire alike grumble; the first in disgust at the unbearable weather, the latter in disgust over the lack of victims to satisfy the blood craving -- there was simply no feeding when people stayed indoors in air-conditioned homes.

It was this heat wave that saw Spike, former Big Bad Wannabe, step back into the town limits.

The decades old, bleached-blonde, leather clad vampire had been absent for over two years. After a bitter rejection, he had left having reached a sudden impasse in his "relationship" with Buffy. Humiliated, he left to lick his wounds, certain the Slayer would not further accept his advances as he was. He had gone in search of some personal epiphany that would either purge his obsession for her, burn away his need for her, or change him enough that she would finally accept him as her mate.

For two years Spike wandered the world, visiting old haunting grounds, recalling the good old days when he struck fear in all that saw him. He missed those days of mayhem, the intoxicating scent of terror from those who fled his pursuit -- there was nothing like it. The taste of fresh blood satiating the beast within, quelling the roar of hunger that was the mainstream of a vampire. Over all the ages he'd existed, only the lust of a Slayer compared to that rush. And so he had returned to Sunnydale, the town that was source to his greatest defeats. To the town of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer -- the Slayer who had somehow captivated his unbeating heart.

It was a dark obsession of his, Slayers, but instead of killing this one, he'd fallen for her pastel-clad form, her witty banter, her golden looks. Not that he hadn't tried to kill her the first time he'd seen her. And several times thereafter. It would have been the perfect manner in which to solidify his already widespread respect amongst fellow vampires: victory over _three_ Slayers, all meeting their deaths at his hand. _That_ had been his goal, at first. That and the exhilaration that came from fighting and surviving a Slayer, of course...there was a delicious pleasure to be had from that, too.

It was only after he had been captured, and the accursed chip put into his head, that Spike's obsession for this blonde Slayer grew from hatred and the desire to kill her, to something else. Something foreign to vampires. Something he took to be love. It was an aberration, folly, unthinkable. To fall in love with the _Slayer_? With the enemy? It was unheard of. But so it was. Forced to exist at her whim, and that of her groupies, he'd grown complacent. Unable to physically harm the living, those that were once his terrified prey, he had been forced to submit himself to the mercy of the blonde Slayer. Naturally, she had qualms about it, but couldn't force herself to stake him while he was defenseless -- a weakness, and one he would never have been guilty of.

Over time, both sides lost sight of what they were to each other, lost the instinctive loathing they had for the other. Spike, having discovered the chip only hurt him if he attacked humans but not demons, readily joined in their attacks on other night creatures -- it was his only way to experience the joy of the hunt, after all. Death to other creatures was still death, if not the preferred death of humans. And it was to be exulted in, for was he not still a vampire at heart?

And if, over time, the Slayer's friends lowered their guard against him, eventually seeing him as an ally against darker foes, if not a trusted friend, was that not acceptable so long as it allowed him his unlife? And if he himself began to experience the faint stirring of...affection(?), lust(?), love even, for the Slayer, could that not be indulged in, so long as he existed in the crippling state he endured courtesy of the chip? What greater rush...if not the death of a Slayer, than the lust of a Slayer, one who repudiated her Calling by not staking him, instead giving in to her own lust for him? There was a delightful perversion in the concept of a Slayer lying with a vampire. For Spike, the reality of it was far sweeter than even the taste of blood.

Perhaps there was more to it, perhaps Spike truly did love Buffy, as well as he understood it. Perhaps it wasn't merely a strange and deadly obsession playing out, but some nascent stirrings of compassion in the chipped vampire. Regardless of what it was, he wanted her back, and he was determined to have her. Two years had passed, but what was time to an ageless vampire? Two years was a hiccup, nothing compared to the decades he'd survived. They had parted on bad terms, true, but Spike was confident he could win Buffy's affection again. Who else could satisfy her needs the way he could? Who else had a little bit of "badness" ingrained in their nature, just the right amount to attract but not repulse her? Certainly not that Initiative Soldier Boy with his bland personality and puppy dog eyes.

No, Buffy was _his_. No matter what had come between them previously, she would be his again. He would make it so. He loved her. He just had to make her see the truth, even if that meant having to manipulate her emotions until she was needy again. Needy for him. It should be easy. It had worked before, it would work again. After all, how different could things be after a scant two years?

Over the next two weeks, Spike learned just how much the course of life could change over two years.

At night, Spike watched Buffy, keeping a close surveillance that would have put the corn fed Army Boy to shame. Stalking her in the shadows, far enough away that she wouldn't detect with her heightened senses, but close enough to see that she was still the woman he desired -- still the Slayer. He studied her friends, as well, the so-called Scooby Gang that had at once accepted him, and yet were repulsed by him. If he was to stay any length of time in Sunnydale, he would encounter them, and if he was to have Buffy, he would have to deal with them in some way.

What Spike observed disturbed him: Faith, the dark, psychotic Slayer was in town and seemed to enjoy permanent residence at the Summers household. And, she had somehow worked her way into the Scooby gang's good graces; they accepted her presence as they had never accepted his. Worse, she was sharing slaying duties with Buffy. Two active Slayers on the Hellmouth where there should be only one, and even that was one too many -- it was enough to make a vampire turn in his grave. But by far the worst trespass, the worst of it all...Faith was fucking Buffy. _His_ Buffy. They were..."in love"...with each other. The Slayers were lovers. And they appeared...happy.

Spike was appalled. Buffy was _his_! Not the rogue Slayer's. HIS. He cursed Faith for daring to touch Buffy, for taking his rightful place; he cursed his traipsing across the world, the idiot decision to leave Sunnydale which allowed Faith to step in unchallenged; he cursed Buffy, for not waiting for his return, for turning to the dark Slayer for comfort and companionship; he cursed the chip, preventing him from killing the brunette -- oh, it would feel so good if he could just ambush her and break her neck, sink his teeth into her and drink her as she bled.

Instead, Spike was forced to watch and plan. He had to get rid of Faith. And soon. He had to get her away from Buffy. The chip wouldn't allow him to kill her, and he hadn't been in town long enough to establish contact with those who would, for the right price. There weren't enough demons, in any case, who were willing to test themselves against a Slayer, no matter who that Slayer was. He had to get rid of her another way. And ultimately, for the personal satisfaction he would derive from it, he had to do it personally.

To rid himself of the unwanted Slayer, he needed to drive a wedge between her and Buffy, one that would force her away from the blonde. It would have been difficult for most to determine how, but Spike was a vampire, a canny one, one who had survived far longer than most of his ilk. He had walked the earth with Darla, and Angelus, at the height of their glory, in times where they were feared and reviled throughout the world. He could detect weakness in his prey, easily pinpoint the areas that would cause the greatest pain in his victims. He saw how he could hurt Faith.

Betrayal was the key to Faith's departure; it would strike at her insecurities, and she would run, retreat as fast and far as she could from the breach of trust...leaving Buffy for his taking. The dark Slayer was a hotbed of insecurities and self-doubts, despite the tough-as-nails attitude she evinced. Even with Buffy's "love" of her, those doubts had never gone away, lingering in wait for the right catalyst to free them. Well, Spike was just that catalyst, and he reveled in the emotional turmoil he was going to unleash on the Slayer. It would serve her right for daring to take what was his.

And there was no better time to make her suffer than the present, Spike decided, as he watched them argue from a distance. It was perfect. They appeared truly upset with each other, both of them flushed with rage, gesturing wildly. They were a beautiful sight. Even he had to admit that. A study of contrasts -- blonde vs. brunette, pastels vs. black leather, all American good girl vs. full-of-attitude bad girl. Slayers. He had no idea what they were arguing about, but it was the best opportunity he'd have. This was the first time he'd seen them so angry with one another, the best chance he would have to insert himself back into Buffy's life. The summer heat wave had already worked in his favour, making both Slayers irritable. Now that they were fighting, what better timing to knock the brunette Slayer down with her insecurities, use them to drive her away from Buffy?

His Buffy. Even from this distance Spike could see the fire in her eyes as she yelled at the dark Slayer. It was Buffy at her best -- full of vitality, iridescent with emotion, flushed in passion. He recalled the times she'd been flushed with him, the nights of pleasure and lust. He wanted her. And once he took care of Faith, he would have her. Buffy would see she was better off without the other Slayer. She would return to him, where she belonged. Once she saw he was back, she'd have no room for Faith in her heart. And she would be his.

It was time for Spike to make his move.

"Look, Faith, all I'm saying is that on a hot night, the _last_ thing I want is pizza! Think about how hot the pizza guy feels when he's working next to the oven. Do you really want to make it worse for the poor guy? Why can't we just go home and grab some yogurt, or something? Tonight's slay was a bust, it's not like we need the extra calories."

"Yeah, I _know_ the pizza guy's hot. Why do you think I want the stuff, B -- another chance to check out the stud muffin." Faith grunted, her eyebrows twitching, leaving no doubt to what she was alluding to. "Besides," she continued absently, "Yogurt's not filling. I might as well suck up pudding, for all the satisfaction I'd get out of that."

Buffy's mind latched onto the first part of what Faith was saying, her jealously flaring up dangerously. She ignored Faith's put-down of yogurt, one her favourite sources of calcium, as her overactive imagination conjured up images of Faith and the pizza guy. Normally, she wasn't fazed by Faith's suggestiveness, or her array of sexual innuendos, no matter how inappropriate -- she'd long since grown accustomed to them -- but tonight she was irritable, short-tempered, cantankerous. She blew up like an atomic bomb.

"What, you checking out the pizza guy now?" Buffy snarled.

"Huh?" Faith was bewildered. "Whoa. Back up, B..."

"Is that why you're always over there? You have a thing for him? What else is going on behind my back?" Buffy demanded, pissed off.

"There's nothing going on! Jesus, B, where is this coming from?" Faith was defensive, and becoming upset as well. Where the hell did the blonde get off with her unfound accusations? They'd promised themselves to each other long ago. She'd never regretted it, never even thought of straying from Buffy. "What the hell is your problem?"

"My problem? MY problem? What the hell is YOUR problem? You're the one lusting after some pizza-smelling, grimy..."

"What is _with_you?" Faith interjected angrily, but her words had no effect on the outpouring.

"...toad with no intellect, that barks like a poodle, and probably has a disgustingly hairy back!"

"Oh, yeah, I'd lust after someone like _that_." Faith's angry sarcasm was lost on Buffy.

"See! You just admitted it. How does _he_ provide your '_satisfaction_'? What's he do? Drool all over your breasts?" Buffy continued irately, working herself into a fit.

"He doesn't!" Faith threw her hands up in protest. The blonde had gone crazy.

"Then why the hell do you want to see him?" Buffy screamed. Why wasn't Faith answering her?

The heat was merciless, affecting them both. They glared daggers at each other.

"Because he gives me pizza! And I like pizza! What the hell is wrong with that? I just want a damn pizza!" Faith yelled. "With pepperoni! And sun-dried tomatoes! And green peppers! And mushrooms! But no anchovies, that's gross!"


They stared at each other.

Buffy's mouth twitched. Faith's mouth twitched, echoing Buffy's. In a rush, they cracked up, both of them laughing uncontrollably, breaking the tension that had come between them.

"God, Faith, I'm sorry!" Buffy smiled sheepishly. "This heat is getting to me...it's never been so bad in all the years I've lived here. It's just making me cranky and unreasonable. Forgive me?"

"Five-by-five," Faith said, pulling Buffy close and kissing her lightly. "But only if you forgive me, too, B. I shouldn't have blown up at you, either -- the heat's getting to me, as much as it is you. Boston was never this hot! If you really want...I can live on yogurt for _one_ night." Faith smirked.

Buffy huffed, playfully swatting Faith on the shoulder, even while giving her a patented, Buffy trademarked 'I love you' smile.

They were still smiling when suddenly their "vamp-dar" went off, signaling the presence of a vampire. They both stiffened in anticipation, ready for combat. Silently, they communicated with the other, setting up the scene for a slay.

When Spike stepped into view, Faith was the first to reach him, throwing him over her shoulder and slamming him to the ground. A soft grunt of pain escaped Spike before he rallied and grunted, "Now, is this any way to treat a friend?"

"You aren't a friend of mine, buddy," Faith was saying when Buffy interrupted her.

"Spike?" Buffy had started at the familiar voice. She gestured to Faith to move aside so she could see the vampire. It _was_ him. "What are you doing here? It's been so long..."

"Not that long, sweet cheeks." Spike winked at her.

Buffy exchanged a puzzled look with Faith.

"What are you talking about?" Buffy demanded, confused.

"Aw, c'mon Slayer, it wasn't that long ago you were kissing up to me. You couldn't get enough of me! I thought I'd need a new wardrobe, since you destroyed most of it with your groping."

"What the fu--" Faith was shocked.

"Spike, shut up!" Buffy was furious. The blonde vampire had disappeared two years ago, showed up now, and was spouting this crap? What the hell was wrong with the undead bastard? She'd made it clear the last time she saw him that she never wanted to see him again. From the corner of her eye she caught Faith's stricken look, her face paling, before suddenly hardening in anger. She tried to reach her. "Faith..."

"You fucking liar!" Faith was furious at the vampire's affront. But a part of her was also fearful. Could it be true? Buffy and her, they'd been together for over a year now, had promised each other forever...but Buffy hadn't had a relationship with a woman before her, had dated men only. She'd been with Angel for so long...and _he_ was a vampire. Maybe this blonde vampire wasn't lying. Maybe Buffy wasn't as committed to her, to their life together, as she had thought she was. Maybe Buffy had sought out someone like Angel, someone to drive stick with. This Spike...he was a pretty boy, and he seemed so sure of himself...

"Your little pussycat was all over me," Spike gloated, well aware of the effect his words were having on the brunette. He was a master manipulator, after all.

"B...?" Faith's voice quavered uncertainly. She didn't want to believe it but...

"Don't you love that little scar, high up on her thigh? Less than an inch long, it begs to be licked right before you descend into her--"

Buffy's fist smashed into Spike, ending his speech, but it was too late. Faith's world had ground to a halt. It was true. Spike was telling the truth. How else would he know about that scar? The blood rushed in her ears, and all Faith could hear was a dull roar that seemed to take over everything. Distantly, she was aware of Spike laughing in the background, but that faded in the light of her new knowledge.

Buffy had betrayed her.

"Faith, no, that's not what happened--" Buffy was desperate, trying to make Faith hear her, understand, but it was futile. The dark Slayer had tuned out her words and was staring right through her, silently. "Please, Faith, you have to listen to me!"

Faith's voice was dull. "I gotta go. See you around, Buffy."

"Faith!" Buffy's pleas fell on deaf ears as the brunette turned on her heel and left, striding away briskly. She turned to the blonde vampire who was grinning smugly, ignoring the trickle of blood running from his nose. She growled in anger. "Spike, you bastard! What did you do that for? Why? What the hell were you trying to prove?"

Alone with her, Spike's expression became one of tenderness. "Look, luv, I know you're upset now, but you know I love you. And I know you love me. I'm back, and we can be together again. We're meant to be. Faith is nothing."

Buffy was aflame with fury.

"Faith is _everything_ to me. She is my life. What I did with _you_ was nothing. Nothing but sex. Something that made me feel after I came back from the dead, but that's all it was...a physical response that I mistook for emotional. I used you because it was the only thing I knew. And it was wrong

"If I hadn't been in so much shock, I would have seen it earlier and stopped what I was doing with you. Hell, I wouldn't even have started it with you, Spike. You're evil. Nothing about that has changed. Except you're neutered because of the chip, the only reason you're still walking around today. You may not have killed anyone since the chip, but you don't go out of your way to stop it, either. I know that now, and I should have known it then. The only reason you played at being non-evil was to stay on my good side, so I'd keep fucking you." The word was harsh coming from Buffy's mouth, but she was beyond mere anger.

"The only reason I, or my friends, haven't staked you already is that you looked after Dawn when I was gone. Maybe you only did it because of your obsession with me, but you helped take care of her and we respected that. But you've just used up your last chance."

The night air became colder than death, and Buffy's face hardened, becoming implacable as she uttered, "I swear to God...for coming between Faith and I...if you've ruined us, ruined what she and I have...I will stake you so hard you'll howl before you dust."

With that, Buffy turned and strode after Faith, leaving behind a stunned vampire. Spike suddenly found himself feeling much more vulnerable than he was mere minutes ago. Far, far, from the security he'd built around himself after surviving decades of undead...life.

This was not at all how he anticipated the blonde Slayer would welcome him.

Faith wandered aimlessly.

Buffy had betrayed her. Boinked the undead again. Why? She thought they had been getting along so well. Perfectly. They'd promised themselves to each other, something she'd never dreamed possible when she was released from prison. She'd returned to Sunnydale, hoping to make things right with the ones she'd hurt the most, and found herself under attack from them the moment she stepped into town. Their anger tore her heart, but she persevered, and eventually won them all over.

Especially Buffy. Buffy, who had forgiven her, and held her as she cried. Buffy, who embraced her in love, admitting her feelings for the dark Slayer after a night of patrol. Under a full moon Buffy had whispered sweet words of devotion -- a lifeline, and the best night of Faith's life, the pivotal moment that changed her and the way she lived. The first night Buffy had said to her, "I love you."

Tears burned Faith's eyes, but she wasn't even aware of them as she walked the empty streets. She avoided their home. Subconsciously, she kept herself away from any place that they shared, unwilling to meet up with the blonde Slayer, even by chance. Buffy had betrayed her. How could she face her, knowing that? Did she even want to? No. She couldn't face her, not now. Not when her heart was breaking.

Silence shrouded the dark Slayer. Only the sound of her footsteps penetrated the stillness of the night. It was as though the night creatures were somehow aware of her thoughts and, for a change, refused to break into them.

Buffy was frantic. Faith wasn't anywhere they'd normally go after a slay. She couldn't find a trace of her, and no one had seen her. Damn Spike. The vampire caused more trouble than he was worth. She should have staked him years ago. Why did he have to show up tonight? And acting the way he did? It was the _worst_ timing. Not that there could possibly be good timing, but...

Damn him!

Just when she and Faith had laughed and made up after her own baseless accusations, no thanks to the cursed heat that made her act like a fool. Faith had forgiven her, easily, admitting to her own heat-inspired touchiness, and now this...it wasn't fair!

Desperately, she searched, praying silently that Faith hadn't left town. She couldn't live without her. Not now, not after she'd had the chance to experience her love. And not over something so trivial as Spike's lies. But how could she convince Faith of that when she couldn't even find her?

As the night wore on and her search proved fruitless, Buffy's heart shrank and her worries grew. Where was she? What was she thinking, now? Where had she gone? Why couldn't she find her? It should have been easy, in a town as small as Sunnydale, to find one of the few living souls brave enough to walk about during the night. That she couldn't weighed heavily upon her mind, feeding her anxiety.

Where was Faith?

Faith found herself standing on top of Sunnydale's power dam. Strange, how a town as small as Sunnydale had such a large unit. Stranger that she'd never noticed it during her first stay in the town. Even if she had been a ditzy teenager, it should have been hard to miss the generating station, yet she'd never seen it. Only after she'd spent years away did it now seem to leap out at her, the vast expanse of steel and concrete intimidating. If she didn't know better, Faith would have thought the dam to be an awful plot twist of some Higher Being, placed there solely to serve as a fitting background for her deep contemplation.

The dark waters that swirled below were a perfect match for her disjoint thoughts. Buffy...and Spike. The very thought made her sick to her stomach. Why? Why would Buffy betray her? Why, with another vampire, and one not even possessing a soul? Spike might have a chip in his head, but that didn't make him less evil. She remembered him, now, from when she'd switched bodies with Buffy...recalled the blonde vampire's aggression, the hate in his eyes when she'd taunted him in Buffy's body. The lust to kill had been there. The thought of his hands on Buffy called forth a bottomless rage from within her, intermingling with the pain of betrayal.

Faith sat, bitterly reflecting on the circle her life seemed to run in. Buffy had betrayed her. Deja vu, all over again. It was just like when she had first arrived in Sunnydale, when Buffy had lied about Angel. The first betrayal by the blonde, her sister-in-arms...lying over a guy, and playing her for a fool. And now, it played out again. Same story, different vampire. Lies, and Faith left out of the loop, unstaked deadboys and her broken heart stepped on by an uncaring blonde.

Damn it!

Faith cursed the night, cursed the heat, cursed everything that caused the aching pain she felt emanating from deep within. Frustrated, she pounded the cement with her fists, until the pain broke through her consciousness. Hissing to herself, Faith examined her hands, noting the broken skin, the bruised flesh. It wasn't serious, but it stung. And it was stupid. That hurt as much as the physical tears; once again, she'd let her emotions control her, resulting in her suffering...she was lucky bleeding hands were all she had to show for her stupidity.

And it had solved nothing. She was still reeling from the bombshell that had been dropped on her. It was too much to take in. Faith needed to get away from her thoughts. She needed physical action to drown out them out. Without a backward glance, she left the dam with its dark, swirling waters. Left it all behind.

Without direct guidance from her conscious mind, Faith found her feet leading her back down the dark streets of Sunnydale, towards the only place with some action. The only place that might distract her from her thoughts.

Faith found herself moving towards the Bronze.

It was the umpteenth time Buffy had crisscrossed the streets of Sunnydale, still searching for her partner, and her soul at its lowest ebb. She'd come across nothing that might point her to Faith. She was near to giving up, heartsick at the thought of abandoning the dark Slayer to the night. It terrified her to think of Faith alone, with Spike's words echoing in her ears...what she might do without Buffy to counter them, deny them...

Some twist of fate or chance made Buffy pause a moment, and she looked up to see the bright sign of the Bronze beckoning. It stood out from its surroundings, glowed against the prevailing darkness. Something about it, a latent hunch, Slayer instinct, call it what you will, drew her towards the club. With a growing certainty that had been absent in the last few hours, Buffy moved towards the Bronze, sure of what she would find there. Of who she would find there.


And there she was. One lithe figure amongst many, dancing to the beat of the heavy music. Faith's white tank top glowed bluish in the Bronze's lighting. The music throbbed, gyrating bodies following its rhythm on the dance floor, pressing together in defiance of the summer heat. Even in the darkness, Buffy could see that Faith's dance partner was good-looking in a rugged, muscular way. The way he held Faith to him, possessively, was a cut to her heart.

She watched for a minute, allowing the surge of relief at the sight of Faith to pass, trying to control the anguish that tore through her from seeing the brunette so close to a stranger, quelling her anger at the sight. She shouldn't have been so surprised to find this. It shouldn't be so unexpected that Faith would revert to her old habits, not after what Spike had said. It shouldn't be so jarring to see the old Faith in her lover's shoes. But it was.

Another moment passed, then Buffy moved to speak with Faith. Her Faith. She would get her back The one she'd promised to, the one who had promised eternity to her in return...her mate, her love, her Chosen One.


"I don't wanna talk to you, B."

"Damn it, Faith-" Buffy was frustrated. The brunette had sensed her coming, and brushed her off, refusing to look her way when she approached. She'd tried to get Faith's attention but was ignored. It had been like that through three tortuous songs. In the meantime, the man with Faith was smirking at her, obviously pleased to have come between two lovers, and female ones at that. She was reaching her limit, angry at the situation, at Faith's refusal to acknowledge her.

The man grinned down at Buffy. "You heard the lady. Take a hike. We..." he wrapped his arms around Faith from behind, and Buffy barely resisted the urge to smash his perfect teeth in, "...have plans for the tonight." He leaned in to nuzzle Faith's neck, his hands moving dangerously close to her breasts.

Buffy saw red.

In a flash she moved behind him, twisting his arm easily from Faith. Using the full force of Slayer strength, she immobilized him, tightening her grip until she heard a satisfying gasp of pain.

"Go. Away." Buffy's eyes blazed fire and deadly intent, though her face was a mask of glacial calm. An onlooker would have seen only a man framed by two beautiful, young women, and perhaps felt envy. Instead, the reality was the man was in the death grip of a Slayer...a jealous, possessive Slayer.

The man looked into Buffy's eyes and a part of him quailed at what he saw. An animal instinct made him want to cower in fear, reacting to the primal threat in Buffy. Then reason reasserted itself, conquering base instinct. What was she on? Steroids? Some kind of drug, no doubt -- there was no other way a bare slip of a woman was stronger than him. But there no way he was going to challenge it, either. No matter how sexy the brunette was, it wasn't worth his effort, the modern man reasoned. "Fine. Not worth my time," he muttered, pushing himself away as Buffy released him.

Faith had watched this transpire with a surprising lack of emotion. She had felt no more than a curious detachment when the man was groping her. Impassively, she watched him make haste away from them, trying not to seem as though he were fleeing.

Buffy tried again. "We have to talk, Faith."

Faith shrugged. "Not really wanting to, B."


Faith ignored her, turning away again.

This time, Buffy stopped her. "I won't let go until you talk to me."

"Fine." Faith grimaced. She knew how stubborn Buffy could be. It was exasperating, like a dog with a bone; she knew she wouldn't be able to get rid of her.

They walked in silence for a time. Buffy, now that she had Faith's company, was at a loss for words. Where could she start?

"Look, B, you wanted to talk, so talk." Faith wasn't making it easy for her.

"Faith...I don't know how...where...to begin..."

"No? How about you boinking the undead? Again? What is it about them that gets you going so bad..." Faith was hurt, lashing out angrily, "Maybe I should give it a go!"

"Faith. Stop." Buffy felt an answering anger, but she forced it down, knowing it was Faith's pain causing the torrent of hurtful words. "It's not like that. Spike and I, we're not--"

"Fucking? He sure knows all your hot spots."

"Let me explain."

"What? Why you're sleeping with him--"

"You promised you'd let me talk." Buffy caught Faith's hand, halting her words. Faith flinched slightly, barely noticeable, but Buffy was sensitive to every nuance that crossed her face. Buffy looked down, her breath catching in consternation when she saw Faith's hands; they were bruised, her nails showing signs of tearing. The damage was recent -- Slayer healing would have taken care of small wounds like this in a matter of hours. "Faith! Are you all right?" Buffy asked, unable to conceal her concern.

"Five-by-five. It's nothing. Stupidity," Faith stated flatly, not looking at her.

Buffy studied her, and let it go. The bruises weren't serious, and there were more important matters to attend to. Heaving an internal sigh, she began again. "Spike has an obsession for me. He's had it for years, since before you came to Sunnydale the first time. He started out with wanting to kill me--"

"Yeah, and none of that explains why you're fucking Spike now." Faith's eyes were dry and hard. Anger was beginning to lace her words, and that was a dangerous sign.

"Faith, please...let me finish." Buffy waited until the dark Slayer's anger ebbed. The barest snort of air gave her the cue to continue her explanation. "I'm not fucking Spike now. I swear it."

"How did he know about the scar?" Faith challenged. She'd felt momentary relief at Buffy's words, but then the anger rose up again. Never trust anyone. They just use you.

"Spike and I aren't having sex. I swear. But...a couple of years ago, we did." Buffy stopped, unable to continue. This was harder than she thought it would be. She had never wanted to tell Faith about this part of her past.

"And you never thought to mention it?" Faith sneered.

Buffy sighed. "Faith, when we became lovers, we promised ourselves to each other. We swore to love each other forever, no matter what might come our way. We swore to let the past lie as it was, and not let it come between us ever again.

"Spike is part of that past. I never told you about him because I didn't want you to know. I'm not proud of my actions then. It's not because I don't trust you, or that I don't love you, I just didn't want... you to think less of me. I couldn't bear it if you did. And I know you will, when I finish explaining." Buffy looked away from Faith's stare, unable to hold her gaze. Even in the moonlight, her tears were evident and she bit her lip to keep them from falling.

Despite herself, Faith softened. She could never enjoy Buffy's pain. Not even now, when she was angry and felt betrayed. Quietly, she demanded, "Tell me."

Buffy took deep breaths, gathering herself. "When I was with Spike, I was in a very bad place, emotionally. The summer before, Mom died, and it took so much out of me. I wasn't prepared for it in any way. She was supposed to get better and then she just...died." Even now, pain tinged Buffy's voice. Faith took her hand, and squeezed gently; Buffy smiled a little at the support, from the reassuring touch of her lover, and continued.

"I didn't know what to do. I wanted to crawl into a hole and hide, escape from all the pain. But I couldn't. I had to look after Dawn, keep slaying, try to balance my schoolwork, and now look after the house and everything Mom took care of. It was impossible, but I had to keep going. Willow, Xander, Giles, they all tried to help, but it wasn't the same.

"Life on the Hellmouth became worse then ever with the arrival of Glory, a Hellgod. She wanted her precious Key, to open up the portal between worlds. Dawn was that Key. All of our memories of her were false impressions created by some Monks -- she wasn't my birth sister at all. It was all a bunch of lies. It...learning about Dawn...it was the final straw. I just started to feel numb, a lot, a part of me deadened by everything I was going through; the shock of Mom, then Dawn...it was overwhelming. Part of me slowly started to shut down.

"Then things got really rough. Really rough. Glory was kicking my ass all over town. She finally found out that Dawn was the Key, and kidnapped her. I was frantic. My only goal, the only purpose that I could see was to keep Dawn safe. I don't know it that was part of the Monk's spell, but I was willing to do anything for her. I would have hurt Giles if I had to; I wouldn't let anyone touch her, even if by killing Dawn, the rest of the world would be safe.

"By the time we caught up to Glory, the portal had been opened. It was too late. The only was to close it, was through blood. Dawn's blood. But as I stood on that high platform, I realized _my_ blood would close it, too. I don't know how I knew, but I did. And it was a relief. I could save my sister, save the world, and give it all up in one swoop. So I did. I sacrificed myself, for everyone else. But also for me...to get away from all the pain that had built up, not just from that summer, but from all accumulated junk over my life -- my parent's divorce, Merrick, Angel, slaying night, after night, after night. Dying...it was a final break from all of that, and I wanted it. I knew it was selfish, in a way, but I couldn't handle the pressure, the responsibility any more. I wanted out. So I jumped. And I died."

Buffy was brought out of her reflections by Faith's muffled choke, and she glanced at the dark Slayer in alarm. Faith's face was pained, her throat making a strange strangled sound; Buffy reached for her in concern, but was waved off. With a shake of her head, Faith got herself under control. She had been so angry when Buffy began her tale, but had been brought up short when she talked of her death. Faith remembered that time. She had felt Buffy die when she was in prison. When she had learned the details of Buffy's death from Cordelia, it had nearly killed her too. Just the thought that she'd never be able to make things right with her had been a stake in her heart. And then, to learn that Joyce was dead, too...another Summers woman she'd never be able to redeem herself to. It had nearly destroyed her.

"If I'd known about Glory, I would have come..."

"I know, Faith. It's okay."

"...nothing would have kept me away, I swear. I could have gotten out of prison anytime I wanted to, could have busted out easy--" Faith's eyes were haunted, her voice hollow. She'd felt empty for months after receiving the news of their deaths.

"I know." Buffy reached up gently and cupped Faith's face with both her hands. They stared at each other in silence, communicating with their eyes, reassuring. They stood that way for a time, until Faith closed her eyes and nodded. After a moment, Buffy released her, and stepped back. It was time for her to finish her explanation.

"Before you came back..." Buffy paused, biting her lip. She was just coming to the hard part. She tried again. "After I died, I spent a long time in a happy place...somewhere I felt content. Warm. All my troubles were forgotten. It was peaceful. The first peace I'd felt since being Called. It was heaven.

"Then Willow brought me back to Earth. Cast some spell, pulling me back here...and I was in shock. Everything was so harsh, so different from that safe haven I'd been in. I was yanked out of my peace, and thrust back into the life I'd fled from...it was a slap in the face. I couldn't feel anything. It was like I was living in black and white, when all the world around me was moving in colour. I was depressed, unable to cope with it. Everyday living was a chore and I felt so empty all the time." Buffy tried to hide her hurt, disguise her pain, but it was all too apparent to Faith.

"The thing with Spike..."

Faith flinched, but Buffy continued, lost in her tale.

"...was a reaction to the emptiness I felt. He was obsessed with me, and I used that. Somewhere along the line, I started having sex with him, and it when I did, it made me feel something inside. It filled me up, and I used him, the sex, to fight the emptiness. Anything I could do to get a response from within me, I was willing to try -- it had to be better than the blankness I felt. Spike and I established some sort of connection based on the sex -- we'd have our secret encounters and both get off on them, and then we'd part." Buffy was quiet for a moment, remembering. Then, she pulled herself together and came back to the present. Turning her eyes back on Faith, she refocused on her.

"But, Faith, that's all it was. There was nothing more to it, I swear. The thing with Spike, it was...absolute despair. Just existing in a state so bad that I'd try anything to generate some other kind of feeling, no matter what it was. It took me a long time to come to terms with being alive again, and when I did...when I realized just how badly I was acting, what I was doing and why...I broke it off with him. Told him it was over. He didn't like it, didn't listen. He tried...he tried to hurt me."

Faith's face tightened at this, her fists clenched automatically, but she didn't interrupt.

"I told him I never wanted to see him again. Tonight was the first time I've seen him in over two years. I swear it to you. My history with Spike is long over and done with, and I regret it all, but most especially, I regret it's come between us tonight. The crap he spouted, earlier, was part of his obsession acting out again, but that's all. I didn't know he was in town, and I'll stake him if he comes near us. I never want to be with him again.

"Faith, I love you," Buffy said, putting all her heart and soul into the words. There was no response from the dark Slayer, and Buffy swallowed nervously. She couldn't read the expression of Faith's face. "Faith, say something."

Silence was all she received from the brunette.

"Faith...please, tell me you're not angry with me, that you don't hate me." Buffy's fear was evident in her voice no matter that she tried to conceal it, and that seemed to rouse Faith.


Buffy cringed. It was always bad when Faith used her full name.

"...B." Faith continued in a softer voice. "I'm not angry with you. I'm not." She repeated more firmly. "I'm just...overwhelmed. I don't know what to think. Or feel."

"I know that you're upset, but we can work through this. We can go home and deal with it together, like we do whenever we have a problem. Come back with me? Please?" Buffy asked, willing Faith to accept and return home with her.

Faith hesitated, but shook her head slowly. "I can't, B. Not tonight. I need to think, clear my head, and I won't be able to if I go home with you. I need some time to digest this."

Buffy nodded, accepting her answer though her heart sank. Logically, she had expected Faith's response, but she had hoped Faith would return with her. "Promise me, you'll talk with me when you're ready? You won't do anything..." she trailed off. 'You won't leave,' she thought.

Faith wouldn't look at her, staring instead into the distance. But her voice was clear, albeit soft, as she said, "Yeah. I promise." She shook herself, before continuing in a stronger voice. "Look B, I'm not happy about this. And I'd be lying if I said finding out about you and Spike didn't throw me for a loop...it has. I'm gonna need some time to deal with it. But I won't do anything stupid. I promise.

"I'm just gonna go stay at my apartment until things get settled in my head. I'll call you, when I'm ready." There wasn't much to be said after that. "See you around, B."

Faith turned and walked off, leaving behind Buffy, who stared silently at Faith's retreating back and wished with all her heart that this night had not happened.

It was hours later when Faith entered her apartment. The one the Mayor had leased for her. When she returned to Sunnydale, she was surprised to find that it was hers, prepaid for as long as she lived. Since moving in with Buffy, she hadn't stayed there often.

The events of the night kept running through Faith's head, thoughts chasing themselves around and around without fail. Listlessly, she sat on her bed, resting her back against the headboard. Idly, her fingers traced the bed sheets. Buffy's influence. The golden Slayer had insisted on luxurious Egyptian sheets -- she claimed they were far more comfortable to sleep on. Faith had laughed and given in. Many times since, she'd thought how fortunate she had -- if not for their high thread count, she was sure their...vigorous activity...would have ripped them to shreds. Two Slayers, both possessing strength and stamina beyond mortal knowing did _not_ make for long-lived sheets. Especially given her horniness after a good slay. Tonight, the sheets served as a reminder of the petite blonde, one Faith didn't need.

Cursing, Faith got up and headed to the bathroom. She needed an ice cold shower to wash away the pain of the night. Something to numb her mind.

For a week Faith brooded in her apartment.

She avoided Buffy, and Buffy, for her part, respected Faith's wishes and gave her the distance she needed. She didn't intrude on Faith's space, didn't try to go near her, even though it broke her heart to be away. The Scoobies seemed to know what had transpired, or had been alerted to Spike's reappearance, for they left Faith undisturbed except for brief calls letting the Slayer know they missed her.

Spike's words had struck Faith with deadly accuracy, reminding her of the past, of Buffy's choices in partners. Always someone else but her. And vampires, their supposed enemy, that was salt on an open wound. It had always infuriated her that Buffy could fuck the undead. Vampires were meant to be killed, or they would grow stronger and kill the ones you loved. As Kakistos had. If only he had been killed by a previous Slayer, or if only she had been able to kill him herself, before the undead bastard got her Watcher. And Buffy had slept with one of those things. Two actually. Although, Faith grudgingly noted, Angel was different, and she herself had tried to score with him, even if the main reason behind that had been to hurt Buffy, and help the Mayor.

Anger that Buffy would fuck a vampire mixed with jealously. Despite what she had said, Faith _was_ becoming angry at Buffy. Try as she might, she couldn't curb it. The more she thought on it, the more the anger solidified, growing almost tangible. Her apartment was thick with tension, the heat of the summer adding to the haze in her mind. Furiously, Faith exercised, pounding the punching bag set up, until it flew off its hook. Daily, she worked off her rage, spending hours in physical exertion, until, sweat-streaked, she fell from exhaustion into a fitful slumber.

It was on the sixth day that the heat wave broke, and with it, Faith's black mood. She herself had once pursued a "get some, get gone" lifestyle...had used sex as a means of escape. She had no right to be angry at Buffy over her past, especially when they had not even become lovers yet. And they _had_ promised to let the past lie, not let it come between them ever again. Spike...the blonde vampire could never come between her and Buffy. Not for long. And he couldn't make her love Buffy any less; Buffy was everything to her. Her whole world. No matter what Buffy might have done in the past, Faith loved her today. And tomorrow. And forever. What more was there to think on?

Faith took a deep breath and released it. Her introspection had come to an end. For the first time in a long time, she knew what she was going to do.

With a light heart, Faith reached for the phone.


"Faith?" Buffy was nervous. This was the first time they'd spoken in days. Her heart beat rapidly.

"I've done my thinking. I think I'm ready to talk. So, um, you wanna come over?"

"God, _yes_." Buffy stated emphatically. No matter what Faith wanted to discuss, whatever conclusion she'd come to, she was desperate to see her again, look into her brown eyes, be in the same room with her...just be _near_ her. Softly, she continued, "I've missed you, Faith...so much."

A pause.

"I've missed you, too, B. See you soon?" Faith's voice was ambiguous, but Buffy thought she detected warmth underneath.

"As soon as I grab a few things."

"I'll be waiting."

As the call ended, Buffy closed her eyes and took a deep breath, resting the receiver on her temple for a moment. Faith wanted to see her, was ready to talk. She had prayed for this, lying awake in bed at night. She'd missed Faith's presence more than she thought she could possibly miss anything. She'd never felt so alone in her life as she had the last few days without her lover. It was worse, knowing that Faith was less than fifteen minutes away. So close, and yet so untouchable. So far from her emotionally. It had been excruciating torture. And now, finally, it was over.

Buffy quickly collected a stake and her bag, and left, nearly runningout the door in her eagerness to see the other Slayer.

Standing in from Faith's apartment door, Buffy was visited with a surge of reluctance. Had Faith called her over simply to break things off between them? Was she going to end their relationship? What had Faith decided, and would she be able to live with the consequences of her decision? What if she _was_ going to spurn her? Gathering herself, Buffy knocked on the door. She had a key, but she wasn't sure if Faith would appreciate her using it. She was leery of what her reception would be, and didn't want to make things worse.

"That you, B?" She heard Faith yell through the door.


"Come on in, it's open."

Buffy took a deep breath and walked in...and found herself submerged in darkness.

Or rather, not darkness. As her eyes adjusted to the soft dimness, Buffy could see that the room was lit by the flickering of candles. Hundreds of them. All around her, employing every conceivable nook and cranny, utilizing every space that could possibly fit, were candles casting a warm glow. Buffy marveled at the beauty of the display before her, silently taking it in as she grew accustomed to the subtle illumination.

"Like what you see, B?"

Faith's voice came at her from out of the darkness. Buffy turned towards it, automatically seeking the brunette's reassuring form. When her eyes fell upon her lover, she gasped at the sight -- Faith was clad in only the sheerest of sheer negligees. Smooth, satiny fabric stretched taut over her breasts, concealing yet hiding nothing, while her legs, bare to the warm summer air, seemed to go on forever.

"Faith...?" Buffy questioned. Her breath hitched, even on that one syllable. Blood was rushing to her extremities, sweat breaking out across her skin, faint beads of perspiration already dampening the base of her neck.

"Glad you could make it." The brunette's voice was husky, and it sent the blonde's heart racing.

"What-" Buffy's mouth worked soundlessly. She was aroused, nervous, intoxicated at Faith's nearness, her unabashed sexuality, confused and anticipatory all at once.

Faith walked over to Buffy slowly, enjoying the way Buffy's glazed eyes tracked her movement. It had been a long time since she'd felt so wanton, so sensual, so willing to engage in the dance of seduction. With the petite blonde, she was going to unleash the full force of her unbridled sexual passion. Faith could hear Buffy's quick pants as her body reacted to her; she smiled to herself as she saw how dilated the green pupils had become...already, Buffy was exhibiting the first stages of arousal, and Faith drank it in.

"I've been thinking, B. About you. About us." Faith had reached Buffy, now, and she let her hands run free to trace up Buffy's arms, then down again, until they rested on her hips. "I've missed you. I couldn't stop thinking about you. At night, I missed your arms around me. I missed breathing in your scent. I missed the feel of your body pressed up against mine"

Buffy shuddered at the words, her mind conjuring images of the two of them. She was breathing heavily, barely able to gasp out, "I've missed you, too."

"I want you back again, want _us_ back together." Faith paused to look into her partner's eyes, their faces scant inches apart. "I love you. And I'm sorry it took me so long to come to my senses. Forgive me?"

"It doesn't matter, Faith. As long as you're here now. I love you, too, so much."

"I want you." The desire in Faith's voice was unmistakable.

"Yes." Buffy surrendered to her instincts and reached up, wrapping her hands in Faith's dark tresses, and pulling her down for a long, intimate kiss. Both of them moaned at the contact, pressing tighter together. It had been so long since either had felt the other so close.

Buffy was running her hands all over the satiny fabric Faith wore, loving the sensation of the slick material, and Faith's heated body underneath. Faith, in turn, was quickly divesting Buffy of her clothing, stopping here to squeeze a firm breast, there to nibble at the freed skin, moving back to her mouth and indulging in lingering exploration...loving the shivers and sounds of Buffy's pleasure.

"Bed..." Buffy gasped, her legs giving way as Faith continued to tease her with her moist kisses.


Stumbling they made their way to Faith's bed, falling onto it with a distinct lack of Slayer grace. They continued their roaming search of the other's bodies, relearning the planes and valleys that they'd been so long without. Warm skin slid slickly against warm skin, and they groaned at the sensation, even as it pushed their arousal higher. Unable to stop herself, Buffy ripped away Faith's negligee, throwing it from them. A sharp indrawn breath betrayed her delight as she took the brunette's full breasts into her palms, fingertips lightly teasing the nipples. Faith arched into Buffy's touch,

Wanting to experience the same, Faith pulled away with a smile. She was nude, and she wanted the blonde that way, too. Buffy allowed this, biting down on her bottom lip in an effort to hold down her passion as Faith removed her underwear. As the last piece of Buffy's clothing, her bra, fell to the floor, Faith looked down at the beautiful blonde...and froze in shock.

Buffy had a tattoo, right above her heart. In bold letters, contrasting sharply with her pale skin, it was a declaration of love.


And below, in smaller, flowing script, 'My Chosen One'.

"B...?" Faith's breath caught, her voice barely carrying even that soft syllable.

Buffy was tentative. "Do you like it?"


Buffy babbled. "I wanted to surprise you. I want you to know that you're the only one for me, the only one I ever want. I love you. I need you. You're the whole world to me. Everything. I _love_ you, Faith. I...I...do you like it?" Buffy trailed off, uncertainly. Faith hadn't said a word.

The dark Slayer was stunned. For the first time in her life, Faith was completely speechless. Her name, permanently etched on Buffy's skin. Seeing it did something to her, gave her an overpowering sense of...wonder, possessiveness, awe, humility, pride...there were too many emotions swirling through her to identify. They swept over her, billowing, buffering, each of them warring for supremacy; but all she could focus on was the dark letters of her name above Buffy's heart. 'FAITH' Buffy did love her.

"I love it." Faith said huskily, bending to trace the new tattoo, an unexpected gift, with her lips. The soft touch elicited a gasp from the blonde, and a shiver of desire ran down her spine, rekindling the fires that raged within. Faith couldn't resist temptation, scant millimetres away, and soon she found herself tonguing the soft flesh between Buffy's breasts, the hard pebbles of Buffy's nipples.

"I'm glad." Buffy shuddered as Faith began gently suckling. Firm touches, teasing of future pleasure. Occasionally, her tongue would snake out, and Buffy bucked up, pushing herself further into Faith's embrace.

Faith moved up until she was looking Buffy in the eyes. "I love you," she said. Then she kissed her, tongue delving deep within the moist cavern of Buffy's mouth, relishing the taste of her lover and the rightness of the moment. She drank in the blonde's response to her every move, glorying in the little whimpers of joy Buffy let out, as she pulled her ever closer.

This was the way it was meant to be between them. The Chosen Two. Forever together. Belonging to the other. Always.

That night they proved it.


Faith was a shadow as she entered Spike's crypt. She hated the place immediately, almost as much as she despised the vampire who dwelt there. Silently, she took her bearings, automatically moving to a position along the wall that provided the most security should a fight ensue. She could sense that the crypt was empty, her undead target not in the vicinity. But he would be back soon, if the flickering candles were any indication; they lined the walls, the mantle, everywhere that there might be a clear space, a candle rested, providing gentle luminescence.

It grated on her, the similarity between this, and her own surprise for Buffy, days earlier. Darkly, she noted the collection of black leather in the wardrobe, eyes scanning the numerous pairs of pants. She sneered to herself at the sight, eschewing what superficial similarities might exist between them; they were nothing alike. Faith imagined what pleasure she'd have if the place were to go up in flames. The candles were stupid -- why would a vampire surround himself with candles when he so vulnerable to the flames? Why risk the exposure? It was ridiculous.

Sounds of the crypt's returning owner broke Faith's musings, and she was grateful she wouldn't have to wait longer.

"Expecting company?" Faith asked sardonically, startling the blonde vampire as he entered, his hands full of grocery bags.

"What the-" Spike was surprised to find her in his home, but he quickly adapted to the intrusion, donning an arrogant bravado. His voice rang out mockingly, "Well, if it isn't the little Powerpuff Girl herself. What brings you to my lair, Slayer?"

Faith ignored his barb. She knew Spike's taunting was just an act. She easily read his anxiety at her presence, his unease at having an uninvited Slayer in his crypt. Especially while he had the chip in his head and was defenseless. "Nothing much. Just dropping by to give you a friendly warning." She idly twirled a stake in her hand.

"And what would that be?" Spike relaxed slightly. Warnings were good. If she'd come to kill him, he'd be dead by now. Dust, anyway. Warnings meant he would see another day. Keeping an eye on the rogue Slayer, he began unpacking his latest fast-food delight: Type A, animal crackers, blood pudding...all the necessary ingredients to keep a vampire's bones strong.

"Buffy's mine."

Spike paused momentarily, before resuming his task.

"Come near us, or try to come between us, and it will be your last day on the earth. B may have had a soft spot for you, but it's gone now. And I don't care diddly squat about you...cross us, and I'll be glad to put a stake through your unbeating heart. You won't even see it coming.

"No second chances, Willyboy. Just this one warning." Faith glared at him, silently. She was deadly serous, and Spike could sense it. This one had none of Buffy's softness, would not hesitate to dust him at any provocation, never mind trying to steal her lover away from her.

Spike turned away, breaking the stare. When he looked back, Faith was gone. He stared sightlessly after the dark Slayer, gaze lingering pensively where she had stood moments earlier. Slowly he scanned the room, noting how the candles had burnt down. Reaching into his jacket, he took out a colour photograph of Buffy Summers, taken years earlier. She was bright-eyed, and smiling. Happy. He traced the curve of her cheek.

Standing alone in his dark crypt, Spike stared at the photo and thought.


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