No Time To Choose
Prequel to the House of the Setting Sun Series


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PART THREE
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Chapter Seven: Make Your Choice For Better Or Worse

"So what brings you to my neck of the woods, or should I say Buffy's?" Faith looked up at the principal as he came through the door and then around at the girly room.

"Uh well to be completely honest we were a bit worried about you. You were less than happy when you came up here," Robin said.

"Oh you noticed, did you. Well having Anya accusing me of obsessing over Buffy kinda pissed me off."

"In all fairness she was accusing Buffy of obsessing over you too," Robin countered.

"Yeah well it's not true and it's lucky for her that B wasn't here to hear it, 'cause she hasn't got her past holding her back from knocking her teeth out," Faith said.

"So is that what stopped you? Your past?" Robin asked, sitting on the edge of the bed next to her.

"Yeah, I've got a lot to make up to Xander and Willow and I didn't think knocking out the love of his life would help my cause much."

Robin chuckled. "No, probably not."

"And I'll let you into a little secret . . . Buffy and Spike are back together." Faith forced the words past her lips. She wanted these rumors laid to rest once and for all. If she didn't stand a chance with Buffy, she didn't want B hearing what everyone was saying and thinking it was Faith's fault. 'Which let's face it, she would.'

Robin nodded his head. "I thought as much. So I guess it's not true about you two then?"

"Nope, sorry to disappoint you," Faith quipped.

"Actually I just wanted to check I wouldn't be stepping on a Slayer's toes. I hear that can be painful," Robin joked back.

Faith gave him a big grin. "Why, you looking to get lucky tonight? Think you've got the stamina for a Slayer?"

Robin smiled widely. "I was brought up by a Watcher, I know all the Slayer moves."

"Not these ones you don't," Faith announced before kissing him roughly and pushing him backwards onto the bed.


"So thanks for the stuff and that. I guess I should get back now and tell everyone the witch is dead," Buffy told Angel, gathering up the folder and the envelope that held the amulet. "Oh, maybe I shouldn't say that in case Willow is listening."

"It's my pleasure. Are you sure you don't want me to stick around for the big fight? I've been getting pretty good at handling the L.A. apocalypses, and they're somewhat bigger in the big city," Angel said.

"Bigger than on the Hellmouth?" Buffy asked skeptically.

"Okay, maybe not bigger, but more widespread definitely," Angel amended.

"No, what I really want is for you to be ready with a second front, just in case we . . . y'know."

"Yeah, I know." Angel stepped in and gave her a big hug.

"It was good to see you again. Maybe when this is over we could see more of each other," Buffy told him.

"Maybe, I'm not sure about having Spike over for tea and biscuits though."

"What about Faith?"

"Oh Faith would be fine, as long as she doesn't want to beat up any of your exes," he teased.

Buffy closed her eyes still enveloped in his hug. "Angel, what do I do?"

"What you've always done. You follow your heart." He kissed the top of her head.

"And if I don't know where it's going?"

"Just keep following, it will tell you eventually. It brought us together, didn't it."

Buffy nodded against his shoulder.

"Y'know, if it wasn't for your curse, none of this would be happening. I would have made my choice years ago."

"I don't know Buffy. Everything happens for a reason. If we were supposed to be together forever, the Powers That Be would have made my soul permanent."

"Do they have the power to do that?" Buffy asked.

"Yeah, that's kind of why there called the Powers That Be," Angel chuckled.

"Yeah well they suck!"

"Sometimes."

Buffy thought for a moment, wondering if she was about to say the right thing or if it would just make everything that little bit harder. Then she said it anyway.

"Well whatever they have planned for us, you'll always be in my heart, Angel."

"It's getting a little crowded in here. Spike keeps shoving me," Angel fake whined.

Buffy pulled back, a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. Angel was smiling widely down at her.

"I was being serious." She pouted, giving him a light slap on the chest, before stepping away.

"I know, and Buffy you know I feel the same, but we can never be. Not like we were, not the way you could be with Spike or Faith." The vampire grimaced. Being the supportive friend sure didn't feel as good as being the adored boyfriend, but until the Shanshu thing came through, he'd settle for it. Relish it even.

He looked up at the night sky. "I'd better be getting back, there's only a few hours left until dawn. Go, kill the baddy, fall in love, be that powerful force I know and love, and then when you get a quiet moment, give me a call and tell me all about it. Spike may have done the right thing for once in his existence by falling in love with you, but he was wrong when he said you and I could never be friends. We are friends, Buffy, and because of that I will always hold my love for you in my heart and that way it will live forever." Angel gazed down at her for a moment solemnly, then he gave her a heartbreaking smile and walked away.

Buffy watched his retreating back. She felt as if she should be in floods of tears. That speech, however beautiful had also been the final nail in the coffin on Buffy's hopes of a romantic reunion. She'd always known it was a pretty pointless fantasy anyway, but was still surprised to find her eyes dry and her head clearer than before she arrived at this Godforsaken area of outstanding natural ugly.

It had seen less creepy when she was in Angel's arms, but now she stood here alone the creep factor returned full fold. Even knowing Caleb was finally out of the picture only reduced her shivers by a fraction and she hurried away from the age old Mausoleum, hacking away at brambles and nettles to cut a path through to civilization.


'Man, the boy has got stamina, who da thought' Faith mulled as she lay there panting. Robin was kissing his way down her throat, across a breast to her stomach, clearly up for round two already.

Faith grinned widely, dragging him up to eye level and flipping them over. He looked up at her, giving a little nod of his head as if congratulating on a play well executed, his desire matching hers as she ran her hands over his torso, then lower, causing him to groan, but never lose his grin. The sheet fell away behind them, unheeded, their bodies generating more than enough heat.


Spike was beating up the punching bag in the basement. He moved with a blurry speed, dancing around the bag, muttering at it the entire time.

"Bloody Slayer, thinks she can come in here and take . . . well she can can't she, Spike my son, what are you going to do about it . . . rip her head off that's what . . . yeah and then she'd rip my head off and I'd deserve it, too . . . shouldn't be thinking this, have to be positive . . . I am, positively fed up to the back teeth of Slayers and Slayer wannabe's . . . I'm a vampire for Heaven's sake, soul having or not, this situation is just perverse . . . should have staked myself all them years ago before I got myself in this situation . . . well this is it, the turning point, I'll fight by her side and do the right thing, like the good little puppy that I am and then I'm outta here. I won't take her tidbits any more, I'm gonna bite the hand that feeds me, yeah . . . then maybe I'll hump her leg a little . . . " Spike howled with frustration. "Who am I kidding, I'll roll over and let her pet my tummy any time she likes," he complained to the empty room. He sunk onto his cot and dropped his head into his hands, listening to the creak of the bag swinging back and forth from his exertions.

Then the door opened.

"Hello, is anyone down here?"

Spike looked to the ceiling and rolled his eyes in mock despair. Of all the people to come down it had to be bloody nancy boy Andrew. He didn't answer, hoping the annoying kid would go away, but no such luck.

Andrew's footsteps descended the stairs and Spike saw him looking over.

"What!"

"No need to be nasty. I heard a howl and I was just doing my duty and making sure you're okay," Andrew told him.

"Since when has it been your duty to keep tabs on me?"

"Well okay then, I'm bored," Andrew whined, stomping down the rest of the stairs.

Spike sighed. "Surely there's enough people in this house that you don't have to make time with the vamp outcast."

"You forget I know your plight, Spike, our paths run very closely."

Spike looked at him incredulously. "Come again?"

"We both have been evil, only to have the Slayer show us the correct way to live and now we both fight for the good guys hoping that one day we will find the redemption we seek."

'Yeah, you and me and Faith makes three,' Spike thought.

"That and we both like onion blossoms."

Spike nodded, he had to give him that one. "So what's happening topside?"

"Nothing much. Kennedy and Willow are still in their room. Faith and Principal Wood finally got a room, Dawn is moaning to Giles in the kitchen about the long lasting effects of chloroform and Anya and Xander are on the couch, giggling. Their love is so pure but I really wish they'd get a room too." Andrew stared wistfully into space.

"So you were feeling a bit lonely." Spike almost felt sorry for the guy. Even Spike had got a kiss that afternoon, he was starting to think it may not have been quite so monumental as it had felt at the time, but a kiss is still a kiss. Then something else struck him. "Uh Andrew, you didn't come down here to, uh, ask me to get a room did you, cause I'm sure you're a very nice chap and that but my thing don't swing, you get me."

"Oh Spike, you silly vampire, do you really think I'd trust my heart to you?" Andrew asked him with a soft smile.

"Well, er no, of course not. Why wouldn't you exactly?" Spike flustered.

"Cause you're clearly in love with Buffy, anyone can see that. Plus you have all these Angel issues that you never seem to deal with."

"Angel, what has that ponce got to do with anything?" Spike exploded.

"I'm the hostage everyone takes for granted. I've been here six months almost. I cook, I clean, I do the laundry and I blend into the carpet. People just talk over me so I hear a lot of stuff most people don't." He gave a 'no big deal' shrug as he stood up.

Spike thought for a moment, the pained look on his face giving away the internal struggle he was having. Andrew stood there patiently, expectantly. Finally Spike made up his mind and asked.

"The Slayer do you think she feels the same way? About me, not Angel." He added the last bit hurriedly.

Andrew nodded. "Yes, but that's not always enough. Sometimes things get in the way like death or jail . . . or jet packs." Andrew trailed glumly to the stairs, he turned before ascending and gave Spike a smile. "But if love's there, it'll come out somehow. You've just got to have faith."

Andrew's smile dropped and was replaced by a look of uncomprehending fear as Spike jumped up, growling ferociously. The teen scuttled up the stairs, muttering, "I was only trying to help."

Despite his current annoyance at all things faithful, he couldn't help but smile with genuine pleasure at Andrew's fearful reaction.

"Yeah I still got it, I'm still the big bad."


As Buffy walked down the road that would take her to Revello Drive, she knew what she had to do. She had to make a decision before she got home, that was what. 'Well that was a big step forward' she thought, sarcastically. Then she got angry. 'Why do I even have to make a decision? Hello, trying to save the world here, again. Shouldn't that be a big enough work load without having to decide who I want to spend the rest of my life with, which hello again could amount to all of the end of the week. This sucks. I should let them choose. Stick them both in a ring and who ever comes out alive gets me as the star prize. How very Neanderthal of me and I haven't even been drinking.'

She stopped at the end of her road. If she looked real hard she could make out the lights from her house as they were filtered through the softly moving trees and bushes between her and it.

She could no longer deny the attraction she felt for Faith. Just being near the younger Slayer made her nervous and jittery and she didn't want it to be like that. She wanted it to be comfortable like it once had. She knew she was pretty much fooling herself, the only time she had ever been truly comfortable in Faith's company was when she let herself go, gave in to the places Faith wanted to take her mentally speaking.

'Yeah, I'm mental all right, she makes me like this, it's just this time if I give in it will go so far beyond cutting class and crashing police cars. Okay so the police car thing was pretty heavy, but this time we're talking intense emotional and physical meltdown of the senses. How can I give in to that when it could lead to both of us going over the edge this time. Then where the world be, two rogue Slayers on it's hands. Quentin Travers would be turning in his grave. Well, I guess that's one good reason to go for it.'

She started walking down her road, stopped, started again, stopped, turned around and walked back to the corner. Leaning against a tree, she reached up and snapped off a twig and began twirling it like a stake. It helped her think.

'I want her though.' There she had admitted it. Only in her head but it was a start. 'I don't know if it's real love or just something to do with the Slayer connection, but I want to explore it. Take it in my hands and fiddle around with it and see if it fits in the slot marked love. I'm never gonna know if I don't try, and hell, from what I know of Faith, I'll have fun trying or, see above, about the meltdown thing.'

She sighed, switching the stick to her other hand and continuing to twirl.

'So is that decision done then? Do I choose Faith? Do I have the guts to march into that house, pull Faith into my arms and kiss her?'

"Ohhh, nooo," she said aloud, shaking her head.

'Cowardly Buffy reporting for duty. I think a quiet chat, alone, might be the first step on this road to dual enlightenment. Just in case I am alone with my feelings here. No need to make total fool of myself.'

She was pretty sure it wouldn't come to that, but apart from the first kiss in the basement, which Faith now claimed was just due to being heated up from their fight, the dark Slayer hadn't really expressed her feelings for Buffy. Sure she'd looked like someone had just shot her pony when she had caught her kissing Spike, but any of the Scoobs would have looked at her the same way. Then outside on the step she hadn't wanted Buffy to go, that was obvious, but then that could have been more of the protective crap she'd tried to pull the night before.

"Don't care, I'm telling her anyway," she resolved. She felt better now she had made her choice, until the other half of her brain piped up with the oh-so-unhelpful comment

'So what about Spike then, do I just kick him to the curb? Thanks for being there when I needed to prove my sexuality but it looks like I got it wrong after all. Sorry to crush your heart once again, but can we still be friends?'

"Damn! So close." She kicked at some loose stones, Slayer strength sending them flying through the air. She watched them arc up and land again further down the road, thankfully not through any car windows.

She loved Spike and she needed Spike, but it didn't feel the same as this thing with Faith. She'd known them more or less the same amount of time but Spike had always been there, she'd grown used to his feelings for her, used to his touch, used to his manner and used to keeping him at arms length. Faith had been away for three years and it was all new and exciting and a lot more scary than her feelings for devoted, love-struck Spike. Was that influencing her decision, that Faith was more exciting, because Spike had been pretty damn exciting last year and look how that ended.

"Oh God," she muttered, looking up at the sky, imploring.

Unsurprisingly, no help was forthcoming.

'Okay, let's look at the facts. Spike knows me like the back of his hand. Faith and I are two sides of the same hand. Mixing analogies thingies but I don't care, so shut up. Spike loves me with all his unbeating heart and still-in-the-cellophane soul. Faith loved my heart and soul enough to try and take it over and fly it to God only knows where. Spike would quite possibly lay down his life for me. I nearly took hers away from her and she nearly took mine (the body swap). It doesn't matter if I'm thinking in brackets, it's helping. The only trouble is, it's not painting Faith in the most favorable light. In fact Spike is starting to look better and better.'

She shook her head and spoke aloud, quietly out loud.

"If I'm gonna try twisting the facts to make Faith look better I might as well just accept the fact now that it's Faith I want." She started walking home again. "Okay one more, sudden death, so to speak." She considered her thoughts for just a second before muttering to herself. "Who makes me wanna get naked the most?"

She blushed even though she was the only one who could hear her. The thought of getting naked with Faith still felt a little - okay, very - weird, but as the warmth continued to spread throughout her body, probably taking the blush with it, the weirdness was losing ground to hunger, and she wasn't hankering for food.

To be fair she weighed up both sides. She knew Spike was hot, made her hot. Last year he had gotten under her skin and it was an itch that just had to be scratched, and though she knew it was wrong and would probably leave a scar, she ripped it to pieces with her nails and her teeth and her moral high ground until they were both left bleeding and raw. The kiss they had shared earlier had been full of passion but it hadn't shared the urgency from before. If it had, Faith would have walked out into the hallway to find them stripped and going at it like animals..

She walked up the steps to her house and jumped. She'd been so engrossed in her sexual meandering she hadn't noticed the figure stood in the shadows. Blushing again for no reason outside of her own head, she let out a shaky breath.

"Oh it's you, you shouldn't be out here alone Dawnie. Wait a minute . . ."

Dawn watched, straight-faced as the cogs began turning.

"You shouldn't be here at all, what happened? Where's Xander?" Buffy stared at her in confusion. If Xander had done what she asked, they should have left hours ago.

"I happened to Xander. He's inside. He's had his ass kicking, now it's your turn." Dawn kicked Buffy on the shin.

Buffy grimaced and bent down to rub it.

"You shouldn't have sent me away Buffy. You not wanting me around, that hurt."

"So does this," Buffy complained about her shin. Straightening up, she looked at Dawn. "I did it to protect you, to keep you safe. You shouldn't be dragged into this mess."

"I get why you did it Buffy, I know you well enough to be able to translate that addled brain of yours into some sort of sense, but this time you were wrong. I'm already in this, I have been from the start, and I need to do my part," Dawn tried to explain.

"Mom would have wanted me to keep you safe."

"Mom would have wanted us to stick together," Dawn countered. "And besides, as much as I love Xander I think a Slayer is better protection. Even I can take Xander."

Buffy smiled and bumped her hip against her sister's. "Point taken. So tell me, exactly how did you happen to Xander?"

Dawn began giggling a bit. "Promise you won't be mad? Actually, the rule says you can't be mad because you put me in the situation in the first place, so I'll get to the point and tell you. I got him with a blaster."

"You did what? Dawn how could you do that?" Buffy was angry.

"Hey, you should be proud of me, I was being kidnapped like some pirate's slave girl and got myself out of it." Dawn was angry too.

"Pirate's slave girl, don'tcha think you're being a little melodramatic there Olive Oyl?"

"I was going with the eye patch chic, which makes more sense than your oblique cartoon references."

Buffy stared at Dawn for a moment then smiled and put her arm around the taller girl. "I hope I don't live to regret saying this, but I'm glad you're back, I need your wacky logic to keep me grounded. I think that's scary in itself." Buffy pushed open the front door and led them in.


"I don't know why I've been wasting my time with dumb-asses all these years," Faith grunted.

"Why's that?" Robin looked up from what he was doing for second.

"Cause having smarts obviously comes with more skills than book learning." She guided him back to what he had been doing.

"You should never limit your potential," came his muffled reply.


Xander and Anya were on the couch when Buffy and Dawn walked in. They were sat a foot apart and were red faced and flustered, obviously they had been canoodling before they heard the door. Buffy took a second to consider 'Who would come up with a word like canoodle', before focusing.

"Hi guys, what'cha doing?" She asked mischievously.

"Nothing, just sitting, on the couch, like this." Xander smiled up at her, patting the couch for emphasis.

"Okay, then my next question would be, why are you sitting on a couch in Sunnydale when you should be sitting on a couch in Oxnard?"

Xander had the good grace to look sheepish, which quickly turned to a grimace of pain when Anya belted him on the arm.

"You were going to Oxnard and you weren't going to take me with you?" She raged.

He shrugged, knowing he couldn't win this one. He wondered if he'd ever won with any of the women in his life,; no, he couldn't think of a single time. Even when he thought he was doing things his way they all went to hell, so maybe it was safer this way.

"So how are you feeling? My little sister didn't hurt you too much, did she?" Buffy teased, hanging up her coat and placing the scythe behind the couch out of sight.

"I know you're mocking me, but I refuse to rise. She had electricity on her side. Now in a fair fist fight I could take her no problem," Xander replied.

"Excuse me!" Buffy and Dawn said at the same time.

Xander held his hands in front of him in the peace gesture. "Whoa, not that I ever would, obviously. My duty is to serve and protect the Dawnster, not beat her up in any way, oh protective Slayer person."

"Well that's alright then," Buffy replied with a smirk.

"No it's not, that's not what my 'excuse me' was for. You couldn't take me, I could totally kick your ass," Dawn fumed. "I'll take you on right now."

Xander looked at Buffy for help, which despite her amusement she consented to give.

"I'm sure it would be a pretty fair fight but we don't need any more broken furniture, so can you find a more productive way of using your energy, like, I don't know, cooking dinner?"

"Buffy, it's like nearly midnight, we all ate hours ago," Dawn told her.

"Maybe so, but while you were stuffing yourselves with goodies, I was putting creepy Caleb to bed forever," she told them.

"Woohoo!" Dawn and Xander squealed together.

"Hmm." Xander coughed. "Didn't know my voice could go that high."

Giles and Andrew came through from the kitchen. "What's all the wooing about in here? Oh, hello Buffy."

"Buffy killed the bad priest guy," Anya explained. "Which is definitely worthy of celebration, we should have drinks and a toast." She got up to search for alcohol.

"Well, yes indeed, that is very . . . Woohoo." Giles looked a little embarrassed for a second, but decided to give in to the excitement and relief everyone else was feeling.

"And now surprise, surprise, she's starving. Why does killing something always make you hungry?" Dawn asked.

Willow was just coming down the stairs and caught Buffy's eye as she heard Dawn say that. Buffy blushed crimson, her naked Faith thoughts still lingering. Willow raised an eyebrow and smirked. She may not have known quite who was passing through her best friend's mind, but she could make a stab at what. Buffy smiled at her now and shook her head. Willow smiled back as she said:

"I heard woohooing and I didn't want to miss out. What's the what?"

"Buffy got Caleb!" Anya said, returning from the kitchen with a bottle of white wine and an assortment of glasses caught in her fingers.

"Got him, as in got him- got him?" Willow asked, taking a glass but still looking at Buffy for confirmation.

"As in got him good."

"Tell us everything not leaving out any of his screams or pleas." Anya started pouring a little wine into each of the glasses.

Andrew pouted. "That's my cooking wine."

"You're too young to be cooking with it anyway, now please be quiet," Giles told him.

"I will tell you everything, but first food." Buffy started making her way to the kitchen.

"It's okay Buffy, Andrew made a delicious meatloaf today, didn't you. There's probably some left," Dawn said.

Andrew perked up at the praise. "Yes, I'll go get you some Buffy, just you sit down."

Buffy shrugged, sat down next to Xander and put her feet up on the coffee table. "He's useful to have around isn't he? He was wasted as arch nemesis, he should have been a maid."

Looking around she saw all eyes looking expectantly her way. She drained the glass of wine Anya had handed her and sighed.

"I know me and the hard stuff don't really mix but I needed that, I hope there's more."

"Oh yes, Giles has a quite a stash of bottles hidden in the kitchen, don't you," Anya ratted him out innocently.

Buffy raised her eyebrows, but it was Xander who spoke.

"Something you want to tell us Watcher-man? Stress of watching Buffy too much for you? Okay, something sounded wrong there."

"There is no stash and they are not hidden. It's just a few bottles I have acquired, I have been going back and forth a lot and well, it seems silly not to take advantage of the duty free. I've merely tried to keep them away from the girls, there's no point providing unnecessary temptation for them." Giles looked around at the group. "And now I belatedly realize you were making fun of me so how about we just let Buffy tell her story, hmm." He sipped some of his wine.

Buffy smiled warmly at him, he was starting to seem like the old Giles to her again now. The rocky altercation, concerning Spike seemed to have finally been placed behind them. She was sure a lot of that was due to all the other stuff going on inside her head and around them, but she didn't care about the reasons she was just pleased to have her Giles back.

"Okay, the story. Well there's not much of one really. I met an old lady who lived in the mausoleum . . ."

"It's like a creepy nursery rhyme," muttered Xander.

"They're all creepy if you know where they come from," Anya asserted.

". . . She was kinda freaky but good, I think. She said she was one of the people that forged the scythe, and that it was used to kill the last true demon that walked the Earth and that it could help us if we knew how to use it right."

"And did she tell you how to use it right?" Willow asked.

"Uh no, we didn't get that far. Caleb came along, or he may have already been there and anyway he killed her. Thanks." She took the proffered plate from Andrew and began to tuck in.

"You're welcome," Andrew beamed and took a seat on the floor.

"Dawn was right, this is delicious." Andrew's smile got even bigger and he looked bashfully at the floor.

"And then you killed him," Giles urged.

Buffy pointed to her mouth until she finished chewing. "Not quite that easy. We had a bit of a scuffle and when I say that, I'm downplaying it a lot." Her fingers went to her throat, the skin around it still felt tender and sore. "Then Angel showed up and gave me a bit of a hand and then I killed him dead."

"Angel showed up?" Dawn asked. "Where is he?"

"Gone back to L.A., he's gonna assemble troops down there in case we need him, ooh and he brought some stuff. Will, could you?" She motioned to her jacket.

Willow went to it and felt around until she found the folder and the envelope in the inside pocket. Willow handed them to Giles.

"Haven't looked at any of it yet but I figured you could do that, considering I had to do all the strenuous stuff," Buffy told him.

"Yes, of course," Giles said while leafing through the folder.

Buffy had cleared her plate and set it aside. She gratefully accepted another glass of wine from Anya. "In the envelope there's an amulet. Angel doesn't know what it does, but it's supposed to be real powerful. It has to be worn by someone with a soul, but more than human."

"But you just said Angel's gone," Xander said.

"Angel isn't the only person we know who that applies to," Buffy explained.

"Spike?" Willow asked.

"Could be Spike, could be me, or it could be Faith. That's a question for later, when we know more about it."

"Okay, now for the good bit. How did you kill him?" Anya asked, excited.

"Well with Angel's help I beat him down, then I beat him up, then I kicked him in the . . . well you know."

"Atta girl," put in Willow.

Buffy smiled at her enthusiasm. "Then I poked him in the eye with the scythe." She shivered slightly at the gross memory, but shook it off at Xander's excited exclamation.

"Well what d'ya know, the preacher gotta taste of his own medicine, huh. High five me Buffster."

Buffy obliged, slapping his hand.

"I couldn't have wished it on a nicer person," Willow said.

"I agree, is that all?" Giles asked.

"Isn't that enough?" Buffy appealed.

"Well yes, normally, but these things have a habit of repeating on us . . ."

"Like cucumber." Dawn received a slightly disconcerted look from Giles before he continued.

". . . and we don't need any nasty surprises."

"It's okay Giles, I chopped his head off afterwards, so it's unlikely he'll be back." She finished her wine and stretched, feeling the muscles stretch and pop in her back and arms.

'Right time to take the bull by the horns,' she thought. 'Or time to stop with the bull and start getting horny.'

"Could you guys go through that folder? I know it's late, get some sleep first if you can. With Caleb out of the picture I think we'll have a little time before the First can make another move. We might as well make the most of it," she told everyone. 'I certainly intend to' she thought, with a small smile.

"That is an offer I refuse to refuse," Dawn said, giving a big yawn. She gave Buffy a kiss on the top of her head and started for the stairs. "And they're had better not be anyone sleeping in my bed tonight."

"So where is everyone?" Buffy's eyes scanned the room for Spike or Faith, realizing she hadn't seen either of them since she entered.

"Well everyone's spread out a bit while we've been waiting for your return. The majority of the girls are camped out in either Dawn's room or Willow's room. We figured Faith would recuperate faster without the agitation of sharing her room," Giles explained.

"My room too and I fully intend on making the most of a sleep-filled night which bears no resemblance to a slumber party. Is Faith resting now?" Buffy stood, preparing to go upstairs.

"Well she's in bed, I don't know how restful she's being. Ow!" Anya stopped what she was saying and glared at Xander. "What? If they're not doing it, I don't see a problem."

"Okay Anya, you're not a new human anymore. You should know that when someone kicks you it means shut up."

"No Xander, when someone kicks me it means they're in for a world of pain. You should know that."

Xander quailed under Anya's stare. "I did know that, I just forgot for a minute." He moved a bit further away from her on the couch.

"What are you guys talking about?" Buffy looked from Anya to her one-eyed best friend, but neither was forthcoming. Anya just looked pointedly the other way and Xander shifted uncomfortably in his seat and fiddled with his eye patch.

"Will?" The witch looked back at her blankly and shrugged.

"Giles?"

"There was a slight altercation earlier, but I believe it resolved itself," he offered.

Buffy had a cold flash of fear in the pit of her stomach, fearing the very worse she once again looked from friend to friend.

"Where's Spike?"

"Um, basement, acting all scary. He has issues concerning love, he's a tortured soul," Andrew said.

"And he's okay apart from the tortured soul I mean."

"Yeah Buff, why?" Xander asked.

"You said there had been an altercation, I thought maybe Spike and Faith had had a fight, but if they didn't then it doesn't matter," Buffy said, her fears vanishing. For one horrible moment she'd thought Faith had gone after Spike, or vice versa.

"What would Spike and Faith be fighting about? Is there some specific tension I should know about?" Giles asked.

Anya leaned over Xander and whispered in his ear. "I bet it's a girl." She waggled her eyebrows, a smirk firmly in place. Xander was starting to hope he wasn't right for once, things could possibly get even messier.

"Oh you know; Vampire, Slayer. The two aren't generally the best of friends, with me being the exception of course," Buffy added before anyone else could. "Living under the same roof as each other is bound to be a bit weird for each of them." That sounded convincing enough and wasn't a lie.

"Uh no, it was nothing like that." Giles didn't really have a clue what had taken place, he had been in the kitchen for Anya's little outburst.

"Right, well if you guys have finished with your weirdness skit, I'm gonna go up and see how she is. Maybe catch some z's myself if she hasn't taken up all the bed." Buffy started up the stairs.

Xander cringed as Anya whispered. "Oh I bet she has."

Willow looked at her in confusion. "What are you guys on about?"

"What we were talking about earlier . . ." Anya nodded her head and did a winding motion with her hand, trying to lead Willow up the right path without saying anything.

Willow thought for a minute, remembered back over the conversations they had had about Faith before her and Kennedy had rushed upstairs to take advantage of the empty room before bedtime. She remembered talking about the ridiculous notion of Buffy and Faith and she remembered Robin showing an interest in Faith. Her eyes quickly scanned the room. No Robin, but it was late, he could have just gone home.

It was like Anya could read her mind. She started shaking her head, then she pointed to the ceiling.

Weakly, Willow said, "They got a room?"

Anya had a naughty twinkle in her eye. "Not just any room."


Chapter Eight

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Part Three Quick Jump:

Chapter One || Chapter Two || Chapter Three || Chapter Four || Chapter Five || Chapter Six || Chapter Seven || Chapter Eight || Chapter Nine || Chapter Ten || Chapter Eleven || Chapter Twelve || Chapter Thirteen || Chapter Fourteen || Chapter Fifteen || Chapter Sixteen


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