Sequel to 'The One She Could Always Count On' After suffering a tragic death, The Scooby Gang begins to fall apart from within. Can anyone help them before it's too late?
Feedback: Be my guest.
Faith jerked awake with a start and quickly sat up. Looking around her prison cell in the early morning, she could've sworn that she heard someone's voice but most of the inmates were still asleep and, aside from the occasional snoring, everything was quiet.
Then she remembered the dream that she'd just had.
She was in the Bronze watching Xander as he left his girlfriend, Anya, to get some drinks. Before he stepped up to the bar to order, she saw him stop for a second to watch Willow dance closely with Tara to a slow song. It was at that moment that Xander looked sharply past the couple on the floor, and focused on the back door. Faith didn't know what he saw but the young man moved through the crowd as fast as he could to follow.
Faith tried to intercept Xander before he moved too far away but she quickly found that she couldn't to get through the mass of people standing between them in time. Five heartbeats after Xander exited the building, Faith finally reached the door, slamming it open. What she found outside the door caused his insides to wrench painfully.
Standing there in the alley, was a short blonde woman. She was holding Xander in her arms, her face buried in the side of his neck. That was not what caused the pain inside of Faith. No, it was the blonde's eyes that had locked onto hers over Xander's shoulder. Those yellow eyes, that blazed from under the ridges of the her disfigured forehead, held Faith motionless as the vampire quickly drained Xander of his lifeblood. The vamp then let Xander's body fall from her arms, revealing herself to a shocked Faith.The demonic copy of Buffy then smiled sweetly and waved at the younger Slayer before walking away.
Faith railed internally, as she was held fast against her will. She just stood there, unable to move a muscle, and was forced to watch as Xander was killed by a vampire wearing Buffy's face. Faith mentally screamed out her frustrations but as the vampire walked away, she was suddenly hit in the back by a cylindrical object. The vampiric Buffy then turned around with astonishment in her face as she looked at the pointed wooden stake that had blossomed from in between her breasts. That look of astonishment remained on her face even as she was reduced to ashes.
Faith fell to her hands and knees, suddenly freed from whatever had held her. Scrambling around, she looked over at Xander. There she was startled to find Buffy, kneeling at his side.
The blonde looked up from Xander. "Yeah Faith, it's me." Buffy smiled as she answered and then returned her gaze back to the boy lying next to her. She gently ran one hand over his forehead, down the side of his face and onto the place on his neck where he was bitten.
Faith watched as the bite mark slowly healed up and then vanished like it was never there. Then Buffy waved her hand over the rest of his body, causing the spilt blood to disappear. That was when Faith realized that she was just dreaming this nightmare. But then, why would Buffy be here, taking care of a Xander that wasn't real.
"Because this is Xander." Buffy answered Faith's mental question. "And this isn't your dream. It's his."
"But.. how?" Faith asked in confusion.
Buffy's grin clearly showed amusement. "How what? How did I know what you were thinking or how is it possible that you're in Xander's dream."
Faith ignored the older girl's question, accepting that Buffy was telling her the truth. "Is he okay?"
Buffy sighed, tenderly caressing the young man's face. "No, Faith. Xander's very far from okay. He's been pushing everyone away. He won't let anyone help him. Not even Willow."
Buffy looked back up at her with a worried expression. "He's been out hunting, Faith. By himself."
That simple statement took Faith aback. Though it had been little more than a month since that night, there was no way that Xander could be healed enough to even think of starting going after vamps.
"That's Xander for you," Buffy stated fondly, obviously knowing what she was thinking. "Nothing can keep him down for long."
Faith shook her head. "There's no way X could heal that fast from all the damage that you did to him."
The crestfallen look in Buffy's face caused Faith to start calling herself every derogatory word in her vocabulary. "Damn B, I didn't mean-"
"I know Faith," Buffy cut her off, offering a weak smile.
Leaving the subject of Xander's health alone for the moment, Faith broke the uncomfortable silence that developed. "So... why are we here?"
Buffy chuckled. "I don't know if you remember but after I put you into a coma, we used to share dreams. It has to do with us being Slayers which means that we're always connected in our dreams."
"Okay, but that still doesn't explain why we are in Xander's dreams."
Buffy stared forlornly at the young man. "In a way, I'm always here."
Faith was about to ask what Buffy meant when Xander suddenly vanished. At Faith's alarmed look, Buffy said. "Don't worry. Xander's fine. He's just gonna wake up soon."
As if in answer of Faith's question, the alley transformed into a exact replica of the Prison Warden's office. Faith recognized it from her many trips there. She was slightly surprised to find Buffy sitting behind the desk, watching her. "Now Faith, you really have to stop beating yourself up about that night."
"Look B, I know that you're all with the good now but you're wrong about me. I'm fine."
Faith heard Buffy muttered something about her being as stubborn as Xander before she shook her head. Buffy then looked Faith in the eyes. "Do me a favor Faith?"
"What," Faith said carefully, not sure exactly what Buffy was going to ask but felt she owed the dead Slayer.
"Please take care of Dawn. She trying to be brave but she's hurting inside and she really needs someone to talk to."
"Why me?" Faith demanded. "There isn't much that I can do to help from here."
Buffy smirked at the younger Slayer as she tapped her fingers on a folder that suddenly appeared on the desk. "Don't worry Faith, apparently that's being taken care of." Then Buffy's face took on a more somber look. "The only thing that I'm asking you to do is to help Dawn. Actually, not just her but also my mom and everyone else. Especially Xander."
"Why me?" Faith asked once more but this time in a soft voice.
Buffy shrugged. "Maybe being on this side of life has made me see things more clearly but I know that I can trust you, Faith," Buffy answered as she began to fade away. "As for Xander, I believe that you're the only one that can... help him."
That was when Faith had woken up. She felt a few stray tears fall and furiously scrubbed her eyes dry. Cradling her head in her hands for several minutes, she slowly dropped her hands into her lap and stared dully at her cell. Almost against her will, her eyes shifted around the small room and came across the short stack of letters that was sitting on the small table in her cell.
With her eyes still locked on it, Faith recalled her surprise when Dawn had started writing to her. In the first letter, which Dawn spent most of it releasing her pent up anger and sadness, the younger girl just wanted to thank Faith for letting them know about Xander and Buffy. And for helping them.
Helping them. Faith thought with a snort. She felt that she hadn't helped enough. Or at all. Xander was still hurt and in the hospital and Buffy was dead. She set that letter down and picked up the next one.
How are you doing? We're coping as well as we can.
Xander just got out of the hospital and...
Faith set that one down and picked up another letter. This one went on to describe in detail how Xander was doing. How Dawn herself was doing. She even admitted that she even tried to convince Willow to try and bring Buffy back with magic. She went on to describe an incident where two Army officers had stormed Dawn's home demanding to know where Buffy was. Apparently they suspect that Buffy had something to do with the death of Riley and his family.
It was then that Dawn's handwriting became slightly erratic. The younger girl's emotions obviously got the better of her as she wrote about the confrontation between the officers, her mother, and Giles. In the end, the Army guys left after interviewing everyone.
Dawn continued on, telling her about the goings on in Sunnydale now that Buffy was not there. Faith let that letter fall from her fingertips when she heard a guard approach her cell.
"Faith, you have visitors."
"This early?" the brunette asked, looking up from her letter.
The guard just shrugged her shoulders as the cell door opened and motioned for Faith to follow her. The two quickly made their way through the prison passing the visitor area, to Faith's surprise, and continuing on to the Warden's office where they stopped and the guard knocked on the door.
"Come," the voice of the Warden could be heard from the other side.
The guard opened the door and Faith walked in. She stumbled a little just inside the doorway from the shock of finding the Warden talking to two of the last people that she thought she'd ever see.
"Please come in Ms. Lehane," the Warden rose from his seat. "I was just discussing your case with Mr. Giles and Miss Rosenberg."
"Why?" Faith blurted out unconsciously as she stared at the two people from her past. Her question directed more at the two newcomers than at the Warden.
"Now Faith," the Warden warned.
"That is quite alright," Giles spoke in a clipped manner. "I've had dealings with Faith before and I believe that we understand each other."
"That's all well and good but -"
"Please," Giles politely interrupted. "We were discussing Faith's status here in your facility."
Faith stood silently by the door, watching as Giles and the Warden talked about her prison life. Willow stayed slightly behind Giles, watching as the two men talked, speaking up often to make a point or to support something that Giles had said.
It wasn't even an hour later that Faith found herself walking out the gate after being processed and given back her property. Now she was outside and walking towards the parking lot where Giles and Willow were waiting for her.