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Second Time's the Charm

by Faithful_14
Rating: PG

Disclaimer: BtVS is owned by Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and whoever else. I mean no infringment and I make no profit.
Timeline: Takes off from issue #13 of Buffy Season 8.
Feedback: Yes, please!

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CHAPTER 1

"Buffy what?!"

"Yes, it appears they found Satsu and Buffy in bed together just before the..."

Clunk.

Silence.

"Faith? Faith are you there?" Giles asked with concern.

A dial tone soon rang in his ear as Faith had just fainted, knocking the phone off the desk.

As the dark slayer hit the ground, the receiver fell out of her hand. But the knock to her head snapped her out of it. "Ugh..." Faith sat up, rubbing her head as she looked for the phone. However, it was in pieces. "Shit..." she cursed.

Picking herself up off the floor, she moved to sit on the couch that doubled as her bed. The old watcher had set her up in downtown Cleveland when they first arrived. And since slaying didn't exactly pay, it was all she had.

Had she really heard Giles right? Buffy had actually slept with Satsu? And not in the "let's-have-a-sleep-over" sort of way? She definitely wouldn't have pegged Buffy to be a lover of the Asian persuasion. Then again, only in her wildest fantasies had the golden slayer ever swung that way.

Back in Sunnydale, before everything went to hell, and the Mayor, she once thought she had a chance. All their flirtatious banter, the sparring that always got a little too intense. That wasn't entertained for long. Not after Mrs. Post, and Finch...

Faith shook her head in attempt to clear it. Even if it was true, there was no way. Buffy thought she'd just tried to kill her. Again. Besides, Cleveland Ohio was far from Scotland. And what was she supposed to do, just ring the doorbell and say 'hey, found out you were gettin' it on with the girlies now, can I come in?'

She had to talk to Giles again. He wouldn't have mentioned Buffy if there wasn't something other worldly going on. As they'd continued to work together, the tweed clad Brit began to understand the once misguided slayer. Of course, with the phone in pieces that wasn't quite possible. With a growl she fished in a jar for some change. There was a pay phone downstairs. This couldn't wait.

*****

After Giles had filled Faith in on the Japanese vampires and the stolen scythe, she had her way in. She'd failed in so many ways though, so many times. After being cut so deep by the blonde slayer, physically and emotionally...was it worth it? With the passport Giles had gotten she could surely get safe, legal passage. Besides, she'd always wanted to travel. The G-man could take care of the Hellmouth for a while. Wasn't for lack of slayers.

'Course now, she couldn't get the image of men in kilts and that god awful bag pipe music out of her head. Faith laughed at herself. The things she did for that one little blonde haired slayer. It would never end.

CHAPTER 2

Staring down at the ticket in her hand, Faith began to have second, third, and forth thoughts. Her travels would take her from Cleveland's Hopkins International Airport to Newark NJ, and on to Glasgow-Prestwick Airport in Scotland. In total a nine hour and forty-five minute flight. From there it was another who-knows-how-long journey on land to reach the castle itself. Not to mention the dubious task of getting inside, and coming out alive. Empty handed or not.

Giles had contacted Xander for the directions, which were convoluted at best. Buffy and her former Watcher had something of a falling out after Sunny D so it was going to be up to Xander, the one eyed wonder as Faith affectionately called him, to tell Buffy of her arrival. Which undoubtedly wouldn't go well. And then he'd been sworn to secrecy, not to tell anyone else of her coming. After the 'Dale bit the big one Faith and Xander had become friends. Likely something to do with both of them feeling on the outside looking in. Of course no one else knew her true reasons for coming.

After landing in Scotland, she waited for her meager duffel of clothes and got her rental car. Which was about the size of a roller skate. By then, night had fallen. It would take at least two hours by countryside, using roads barely wide enough for one car let alone two.

In the end, it took Faith three hours to reach the castle. Turning down the long private drive, she neared an area of grass that appeared to be the parking lot. Unknowingly setting off a series of alarms.

It was 3AM and Satsu had elected to do the night watch, so it was she that heard the alarms and watched the car approach on the surveillance cameras. She couldn't sleep. Earlier she and Buffy had a little talk, and she could not quiet her mind. Everything they'd talked about replaying in her head.

*****

Buffy had sat down on the bed they had made love in. The weariness in her voice audible. "Satsu..." the petite blonde began, "I heard you talking to Willow in the courtyard about us earlier. And I wanted you to hear it from me. The night we spent together was amazing but..."

"But you're not gay," Satsu finished, eyes cast to the floor. Buffy tried to speak but was cut off. "No, it's okay Buffy, I know. No need to explain." It wasn't like they hadn't had this conversation before.

"I just don't want to hurt you, that's all."

"Nothing to worry about. I'm a big girl," she got up, "I need to go. I'm on night watch. Get some sleep. You're gonna need it." Heading to the door, she paused a moment before turning, "Goodnight ma'am." With that, she left.

Buffy exhaled loudly and fell back onto the bed. It was going to be a long trip.

*****

Faith exited the car, bag left in the backseat. With no idea how this would go down, she wouldn't push her luck.

Satsu didn't want to wake anyone; the next few days were going to be tough. So after seeing the security feed, she left the control room and headed to the door.

What used to be the original door was bolstered shut. A smaller, regular size steel door set into it. Did she knock? "Here goes...everything..." fist poised to knock, the door opened. Faith then found herself staring down the barrel of a sixteen gauge shotgun aimed at her head.

Immediately she put her hands in the air, a gesture of no harm. "Whoa, hey...why don't you put that down?"

"Why? Because I know exactly who you are. Faith, right? Yeah, I've heard all about you. And that last little stunt you pulled on Buffy; I knew you hadn't really changed."

"Then you must be Satsu..."

"What of it?" she gave the gun a priming pump.

"Nothing. Look, if you're going to shoot me, do it. If not, I'm here to see Buffy."

Satsu's eyes narrowed and her finger tightened on the trigger.

CHAPTER 3

A shot rang out in the night, waking Willow and a number of other girls.

Willow was the first to arrive and found the two women on the ground wrestling. The gun had skidded to the side but she could see blood.

"Hey!" reacting, she went down to pull them apart but got a fist in the face instead. Stumbling backwards, she fell into the crowd of girls gathered in the doorway. She was quickly picked up and checked on by one of the other Wiccans.

"What is going on?!" came the booming voice over the scuffle.

Everyone immediately stopped; the crowd parted like the Red Sea as Buffy stepped forward.

Faith and Satsu disengaged and stood. Faith held the side of her shoulder while Satsu stared off into space angrily.

Willow rubbed her jaw lightly as she confirmed she was okay, "I heard a shot, ran down and these two were wrestling. Normally I might have been excited. But the wayward punch kinda killed the mood..."

"Satsu, are you hurt?"

"No, ma'am..."

"Then I think it's time for you, and everyone else," she spun on her heels toward the crowd of girls, "to get back to bed."

"And Faith, what the hell are you doing here?"

The girls all retreated as instructed. Satsu got another 'we'll talk' look from Buffy as she stormed inside, pushing past the others.

"No one told you?" Faith arched a brow.

"Told me what?" Buff was aggravated beyond words. She'd just gotten to sleep.

"Told you that I was coming. Giles told me about the scythe. Thought you could use some help. Said he told Xander to tell you..."

Blank stare.

Faith could kill him. This was difficult enough as is without surprising Buffy. Then again, she should have known. She hadn't heard the other slayer's head explode from the other side of the world. Time to take cover, she thought.

"Great, just what I needed. Willow, can you get Giles on the phone? I need to speak with him." She'd have words with Xander later.

The redheaded witched nodded and left the two original slayers alone.

"You hurt?"

"Just a scratch." She moved her hand from her arm and it was covered in blood. When the gun went off she'd managed to knock it out of the way. It was just a graze- looked worse than it was.

"Let's get inside, get that cleaned up." Buffy's tone was defeated. She was under a lot of pressure, the stolen scythe, Satsu, and now Faith. Shaking her head, she led the younger slayer inside and shut the door.

They walked down the corridors in silence, only their footsteps reverberating. Faith had no idea where Buffy was leading her. It seemed the like castle went on forever. After a few winding turns they reached a door with a red cross on it. The infirmary.

Buffy flicked the lights on as they entered. "Wow, B, quite the set up you got here." Words echoed from the past. It looked as though they entered a hospital. Stainless steel, stocked cupboards, beds with all the monitoring gizmos.

"Yeah well, with so many girls..." she set about grabbing gauze and the other necessities. "Have a seat," she gestured to a clear table.

Faith hopped up and quietly watched her counterpart. Wondering why exactly it was they'd yet to exchange blows.

Bandages in hand, Buffy pulled up a stool. "So if you're here to 'help' you wanna tell me what the hell our last little get together was about?"

Shrugging off her jacket, she exposed her arm; tattoo peeking out from under her blood stained sleeve. She pushed it up to expose the wound.

Faith took a deep breath, "Gigi was about to try and take you down. I was trying to help...But you just assumed I was..." she sighed, "I got caught up in the moment..."

Looking at her with skeptical green eyes, Buffy began to clean and dress the wound. "So you just decided to do exactly the thing I had accused you of? Let me tell ya, not the best way to convince me otherwise."

"I get that, and I'm sorry." Faith winced as the other woman wrapped the bandage a little too tight.

"Sorry," she mumbled, loosening it and finishing. "Well, I can't refuse any help on this one. What with these vamps playing by new rules. We leave in the morning. You're just lucky I've bigger things to worry about," she said pointedly.

Faith nodded her understanding and pushed her clothing back into place. "Do we know where we're going?"

"Yeah, downtown Tokyo. We've gotten intel from one of our slayers there. Xander's currently recruiting Dracula to help us since he's the original fog-turning-guy," the blonde began to clean up.

"So what's the plan?" Faith jumped off the table and slipped her jacket back on.

"Retrieve the scythe. We don't know why they have it, but I'm sure it's not for anything as wholesome as saving puppies and kitties," she finished putting the supplies away. "I'll show you to a room, c'mon," Buffy led the way out and back down the longest corridor before ascending a set of stone stairs. "This is where the guest rooms are," she gestured down a short, damp hall. "All of them are empty, feel free to pick. And, uh, I guess I'll see you in the morning." She gave a halfhearted smile and turned to leave.

"Hey, B..." she stopped at the first door.

The blonde slayer turned, brow raised in question.

"Thanks. For not just pounding my face in. Giving me another chance."

Buffy gave another halfhearted smile and a nod before taking her leave.

Faith sighed a breath before pushing open the heavy door. Like the rest of the castle seemed, it was cold and damp. With its own, unique smell. Her lip curled in distaste. She'd left her bag in the car but it didn't really matter. Instead she stripped down and quickly ducked under the heavy covers.

It was painfully obvious that not the entire castle had been outfitted in the latest or even standard amenities. But as the once dark slayer stared up at the stone ceiling, she wondered what the hell she'd just gotten herself into. This was THE Buffy Summers. THE slayer. Why in the world did she think she could ever possibly get close to that? Nothing in the past had ever pointed in that direction, not really.

No matter her feelings, she was in this fight now. She'd just leave as soon as it was finished, go back to Cleveland. This was her last thought as she fell into a fitful sleep.

CHAPTER 4

Early that same morning, or rather, a few hours later, everyone got up and began prepping. Faith woke late and by the time she dressed and found the control room, the team was nearly ready to go.

By her count, there were at least fifty slayers-in-training, three witches, and Andrew- though why he was still around was anyone's guess. Plus nearly all the contents of the armory; minus the scythe. All of which were being loaded into an Air Force type cargo plane. How in the hell Buffy afforded any of this was beyond Faith. But she knew better than to ask.

Everyone was milling around, intensely focused on their tasks. The second of the original two slayers felt even more lost and insignificant than usual. Wandering around, she found Buffy alone on one of the castle's balconies overlooking the preparations, just off Slayer Central. "Hey..." the younger slayer slowly approached.

Buffy started as Faith broke into her reverie. "Jeez, you scared me..." she straightened from her slumped position over the ledge.

"Sorry. Just wondered what the plan was," she sidled up to her former counterpart.

"We're set to leave within the hour. Xander and Renee are meeting us at the training house after dusk. From there, I don't know."

"Training house? Damn, you guys really are global."

"Yep, that's us...We should get going. Looks like everything's almost ready." With that, she turned and left Faith by herself.

"Good talkin' to ya B..." she announced to no one.

*****

Shortly thereafter, the entire population of the castle, minus a few safe guards, was in the air on their way to Tokyo. All in all the ride would take fifteen hours. And spending fifteen hours on a plane with multiple teenage slayers was not Faith's idea of a good time.

It was, however, the perfect opportunity for Buffy to have that talk with Satsu. Who was seated as far away from everyone as possible.

The original slayer approached casually, she knew enough not to confront Satsu; she wasn't trying to be the General here. She was upset, obviously, and Buffy could take a guess as to why but she wanted to know the answer for sure. "Hey, mind if I join you?"

Satsu didn't respond, instead she turned away.

Heaving a sigh, the petite blonde took a seat next to her on a box of equipment. "What's going on with you?" she asked gently. Genuinely she wanted to know. Even if they couldn't be more than friends she still cared.

"It's nothing."

"Satsu, please..."

"I can't. I'm sorry," she stood abruptly and turned to head into the cargo hold where she could be alone. Leaving a much bewildered Buffy in her wake.

Truth was, Buffy wasn't ready to hear it yet. Satsu had been filled in, by others, about Buffy and Faith's past. And she'd overheard Xander on the phone; knew Faith was coming. She wasn't dumb, and it bothered her that an ex-con had a better chance at Buffy's heart than she.

But Buffy was oblivious. She her head, she walked back to where everyone was seated. No use in pushing Satsu away any further than she already had. She'd just needed that. That connection. However, the price was proving to be much more than she bargained for.

*****

After touching down just outside the city, they were met by a caravan of trucks and the rest of the Tokyo based slayer squad.

"Where's Aiko?" Buffy approached the small group of five.

The oldest looking girl of the bunch stepped forward and bowed, "My name is Kimiko. She is awaiting your presence in the city. We've gotten confirmation on their location. I will take you to meet her there."

Buffy nodded her understanding and turned to Willow. "I want you and the rest of the girls to get situated in the training house. I'll take Faith with me to go check out this place. Let me know when Xander gets in."

Willow nearly saluted Buffy, but thought better of it. "Sure thing, Buffy." Immediately she began organizing the girls and transferring their gear into the trucks.

"Faith, Kimiko, let's go," the petite blonde was all business as she followed Kimiko to a smaller Jeep for the trip.

Faith still stood with the others, shocked she had been called. Breaking out of her trance she followed the other two women. Glancing back over her shoulder she saw Satsu with her fists clenched at her sides.

As always, she'd have to watch her back. This time from a small, angry Asian slayer.

*****

The ride into the city was silent, tense, and long. The Bostonian didn't know how long they'd been stuck in Tokyo's infamous traffic but it felt like forever.

Eventually they inched their way into the heart of the city's business district. Everyone was awash in a sea of suits and briefcases. Faith had never seen anything like it.

As they drove alongside massive, glittering buildings they had to be careful of the street vendors. New and old, both coexisting next to one another. Faith watched out the window with wide eyes until the car came to an abrupt halt. Causing her head to slam into the scarcely padded roll cage. "Son of a...what the hell was that?!" she demanded.

Her question was met with only silence. Following Buffy's stone gaze out the window, she saw the reason for their sudden stop. On the side of a building was strung a young, dead, Japanese girl. Behind her was painted unfamiliar characters in red.

"That's her blood isn't it," Buffy deadpanned.

"Yes," Kimiko spoke barely above a whisper.

"What does it say?"

"Tokyo he youkoso...Welcome to Tokyo."

CHAPTER 5

Buffy and Faith took care in cutting Aiko's body down. After that, the ride was silent as they headed to Slayer headquarters located outside of the city. All the girls were present for their arrival, but upon seeing the body, stayed silent or wept. The blonde slayer was directed to put Aiko's body to rest in a small temple of some sort. And that was where the slayer stayed, even after night fall.

Everyone knew to give Buffy her space, but it was Faith that finally entered the temple. She'd gotten a small taste of how it felt to let a group of young girls down that looked to you as leader, back in Sunnydale when she was chosen to lead the potentials against the First. She could understand how the elder woman felt.

Having changed after their arrival, the brunette slayer was wearing a pair of dark jeans with her hands stuck deep in the pockets. She had a long white under shirt on and her leather jacket over that. Japan was damn cold. Walking into the temple quietly, she stopped a few feet from where Buffy sat. "How long you gonna stay out here?"

"Just 'till I figure out what to do next," the blonde sighed.

"Want some help?" Leaning against a wall, Faith crossed her arms over her chest.

"We've got to get our hands on one of these vamps."

She'd been told of their ability to change into fog and wolves from Giles. ".Easier said than done, B." She was shot a look, and Faith had to bite back a smirk. "Well, they should be easy enough to find. Not exactly low profile, are they?" She looked to the wrapped body of Aiko on the stone altar.

"True." Clearly they weren't worried about attracting attention, that was for sure.

"Where's Red? I'd figure she'd have a way to keep ahold of one."

"She's working on it. Researching."

Suddenly a male voice interjected, with a distinctive Transylvanian accent. "I assume you've considered using Carolina's Gasp. I mean, your witch isn't a complete idiot, is she?"

Turning, Faith raised a brow. Dracula. While she didn't know what he looked like, it wasn't a surprise to find a well-dressed, pompous looking guy. 'Really?' she thought; the top hat and cane were over the top.

"Oh good. It's you," Buffy rolled her eyes and got up from her seat on the cold floor. "Who's grasping Carolina's what now?"

The brunette slayer bit her lip to keep from laughing. She had such a dirty mind.

"It's a rudimentary containment spell. You do still have a witch in your employ, don't you?" Dracula seemed exasperated already.

"She's in the house," the blonde slayer replied.

"Fine. I'll teach her the incantation as soon as someone removes their nighties from the master bedroom. I need to get my coffin installed. The sun should be up before long."

"Its 8 p.m.," Faith smirked.

"Is it? I've never understood time zones," Dracula shook his head.

Xander then came walking up with an armful of luggage. "Hi guys."

Buffy raised a brow, as it was obvious the ex-commando wasn't surprised to see the other slayer. 'Faith must have been telling the truth then,' the blonde thought back to when the dark slayer had come knocking.

"You look awful," Faith said by way of hello. She was going to have a little chat with him. She knew Giles told him to let Buffy know she was coming, just not to let anyone else know. Even though her arrival went 'okay', she hadn't been expecting to show up as a surprise. Then again, it may have been for the best.

"It's been a long flight. He doesn't travel well." The one eyed Scooby was clearly having some trouble balancing all the luggage.

"I thought you said no more butt monkey?" Buffy laughed.

"Very funny, Buff," Xander rolled his eye.

"Oh and also.Is somebody going to finish eating this?" Dracula interjected once again from beside the alter where Aiko's body lay.

All three of them shot the infamous vampire a look. "Let's just go inside. Let Willow know you're here." With a shake of her head, Buffy headed inside the house with everyone else in tow.

*****

Once the Wiccan had been given the spell, it was decided they would go out a.s.a.p. to get the information they needed. Buffy chose a younger slayer girl to be the bait while she and Willow got the info. Faith would be there for back up. And Xander insisted on coming too for some reason. The Bostonian could tell he was sweet on the bait girl, Renee was it?

They left the Tokyo house on the outskirts of civilization to find a more rural spot to look for vamps. Renee was dressed as a school girl, and Faith caught Xander staring at her ass more than once. She'd have to give him a hard time about that later.

*****

In the midst of downtown Tokyo, the vampires were readying themselves for the imminent fight with the slayers.

*****

When the group had finally scouted a vampire, they sent the bait in, running for help.

"Help me! Please-somebody help me!"

The vampire was lighting a cigarette for himself, "What's the matter, little one?"

"Oh thank god-you speak English. Please help me-I'm so lost. And frightened."

"Where are you headed?" he pocketed the lighter while taking a drag.

"My parochial school was on a field trip to Shinjuku and I wandered off looking for the bathing ape store...And now I don't know how to get back to my hotel because all the signs in Japan are in Japanese. For some reason."

Tailing the two, Faith wasn't impressed with the acting; then again, it didn't matter when a vamp was hungry. It was clear by his face he was considering himself lucky for such an easy meal. He took off his jacket and put it around Renee's shoulders, playing the gentleman. "Alright, calm down. I'll get you where you need to go."

"Really?"

"Of course. Here-why don't we cut through the park.?"

It was perfect, now all Renee had to do was steer him to the tree Buffy and Willow were waiting in for the ambush.

"Thank god you came along when you did. I was so scared." Renee was actually having fun with the part, even though she got stuck being the bait.

"Well, you have to be careful." he was saying, and the next moment she saw his true face, "You never know who you could run into out here."

Looking up into the trees where Willow and Buffy awaited, she grinned, "Boy, you're telling me."

"Constrixi deficio!" the redhead cast the spell. The vamp screamed as a sudden blaze of light came from nowhere and fixed him in a box of energy that hovered above the ground.

Buffy jumped down from the tree and Faith joined her. "So. Here's the problem we keep having.Every time we try to fight one of you guys, you turn into air. And it's really hard to hurt air. At least until you remember.Air burns." Brandishing a gas can, she handed it to Will.

"Pressi." A zap sound was heard as the gas can penetrated the energy field to dump its contents all over the vampire inside.

"You're gonna tell me everything I want to know," the blonde slayer stated matter-of-factly.

"Okay. Okay!" the vamp sputtered, coughing on the gasoline.

"And to be honest, I'm hoping you choose to be difficult about it."

Hearing Buffy say that took the darker slayer by surprise. She remembered the blonde denying any satisfaction in pummeling vamps. And here she was encouraging it. 'That was a long time ago.' Faith reminded herself. Things change.

"I won't! I promise! I'll tell you everything you want!"

Clearly, this guy wasn't one of the higher ups. "Good. Where's my scythe?"

"Toru's got it! He's holed up in the Ashikaga building downtown!"

"Why does he want it?" Buffy pressed.

"He wants to reverse the spell you did. He-he wants to take away your powers. He wants to make all the slayers human again."

"How?" Faith piped in; her brows knit together in worry. More worried about herself than all the other girls around the world. Sure, it was selfish. But the brunette didn't know who she was without being a slayer. The thought of losing that was frightening.

"We have a witch-Kumiko. She can do the incantation. And we're building a lens that can amplify the spell."

"Oh my god," Buffy whispered; the sheer gravity of the situation hitting her. They had to stop this.

"How long before this lens is finished?" Xander pushed through the girls to ask his question, not wanting to feel useless.

"We're on alert. It's supposed to happen before dawn."

"That doesn't give us much time," Willow said.

"We should get moving."

"Please-I told you everything I know. You have to let me go." The vamp began to panic.

"I never agreed to that." And with that said, Buffy flicked a lighter and tossed it into the energy field. The whole thing immediately set ablaze. Everyone else began to walk away but Faith had to stare a moment.

CHAPTER 6

Now that they knew what was happening and where, the original slayer began to put together a plan. They had to ready the girls immediately; there was no time to waste.

Buffy stood outside on one of the terraces, overlooking the girls prepping when Satsu approached. "I was told you wanted to see me," she said.

"Yeah..." she took a deep breath. "I gotta make the tough calls. You may not understand...why I do what I do but...I need you to follow my orders anyway. I want you to stay at the house while I take the girls into Tokyo." Buffy wasn't dumb, she knew this was going to be an argument. Satsu was hard headed and strong willed; something she couldn't help but find attractive.

"You want me to stand down?" she asked in disbelief.

"No. I want you to lead. The girls here who knew Aiko-they're pretty shook up. I'm not taking them into battle. I need you to stay here and look after them. And I need you to help them bury Aiko," she explained.

"You want me to stand down. I'm one of your best fighters..." Satsu started to argue.

"That's not what this is about."

"It's Faith, right? The second she shows up, I'm second fiddle. Do you even know why she's here, Buffy? I mean, really?" The Asian slayer wondered if the blonde had any clue what kind of feelings Faith had for her. Or if anyone else knew for that matter. It seemed unlikely. The blonde hadn't realized Satsu's feelings for her until after her kiss had awoken her and process of elimination. And she didn't appreciate the sudden competition.

It hadn't been hard to figure out the real reason for the dark slayer arriving so suddenly. Satsu saw the way she looked at Buffy; the same way she did. And what better a time than when she found out the blonde was suddenly sleeping with women to drop into the picture? Back in Scotland, Andrew had given Satsu the low down on Faith after her last attempt at murder on the original slayer. Apparently at one time Xander alluded to something between them, long ago.

"Satsu-what are you talking about?"

"So you're either leaving me behind to avoid me or protect me. I don't know if I should be hurt or touched, but either way...I'm not following your orders. Not this time. I'll see you on the battlefield. Ma'am." And she stormed off.

Buffy was silent for a moment, and then spoke aloud, "I can't believe I find it sexy when she calls me 'ma'am'." Shaking her head, she didn't know what her latest lover was talking about in regards to Faith. Satsu didn't even know her.

*****

Inside the house, Faith had snuck into the control room that held all the monitors for the various security cams scattered around the grounds. The one in particular she was focused on showed Buffy talking to Satsu before the younger slayer stormed off. She couldn't hear anything though.

A few moments later Xander came in with a big, goofy smile on his face.

Faith quirked a brow before asking, "What's up with you, X-man?"

"We were talking. And then she kissed me!" he beamed.

"Ah, must be the school girl then. Renee, was it?"

He nodded, still grinning.

"So you wanna tell me why you didn't mention to Buffy that I was coming?" She wasn't mad so much as curious.

He looked like a deer in headlights then. "I, uh, thought I was sworn to secrecy?"

Shaking her head with the ghost of a smile, Faith replied, "Yeah, from everyone else. But you were supposed to tell B so I didn't surprise the shit out of her."

"Oops?" he smiled sheepishly, with an opened handed shrug.

"Uh huh..." Faith smiled a little so he knew she wasn't angry. "It's fine. I thought I would've heard her head explode from the other side of the world if you had. And she may not have even let me in then."

"So why are you here? Don't get me wrong, your help is appreciated but it isn't for lack of slayer power anymore." He slipped his hands in his pockets as he came to stand beside his only one night stand.

Faith was silent for a few long moments. Despite their previous history back in the beginning, she'd always felt like she could trust him. But could she be this honest with him? It'd taken a long time just to be that honest with herself. Sighing, she ran hand through her brunette locks. "Look, if you tell anyone what I'm about to say, I'll be forced to kill you."

Well aware she was joking, he made a zipping motion past his mouth.

Sitting down on the very edge of the table, the slayer crossed her arms. "Giles called and filled me in about the scythe right after it happened." The only reason the old Watcher knew was because Xander had told him. He never did understand the weirdness between him and Buffy after Sunnydale, so he kept in touch. "And he didn't leave out the part about B sleeping with a chick. After hearing that I damn near fainted." She'd be damned if she'd actually admit to fainting over anything. "You remember back when I first got to Sunny D, me and B were hanging out a lot?"

"Yeah. Willow and I got jealous. Like you two had a 'slayers only' club," he remembered.

"We got pretty close there for a minute. And maybe I was just making it up, but...I felt like she might have had feelings for me. I had it pretty bad for her...still do," she laughed at herself.

The one eyed man wasn't surprised. Hell, he'd fantasized about the two of them together from the start. But he wouldn't mention it to avoid a slayer powered punch to the arm. "So you figured when you heard Buff was in the buff with Satsu..."

"Yeah... Seems pretty stupid now. I'm not a complete moron; I know she's not gay. But if she was willing to give a woman a chance..." she shrugged.

"Why not you?" he finished. Faith only nodded. "Well, I can't predict what she'd say, but she's definitely not the same Buffy she used to be. She's Commander of the armed Slayer Forces now. She's pulled away, even from me and Will. Who knows, maybe she could use someone that knows what it used to be like. Someone that knows what it's like to carry the burden of being a slayer. All the girls now, they have no idea."

Faith chewed on that for a moment. It made sense. Then again, she knew better than to get her hopes up. "Not likely, but thanks for the pep talk, Xan," she half smiled and got down from her seat on the counter. "Anyway, I may not even say anything. Just head back to Cleveland after all this is over. Looks like we oughta get movin' though. The troops are mobilizing," she gestured to one of the closed circuit TVs.

Nodding in agreement, Xander gave the Boston slayer an encouraging smile and headed out to the court yard with her. There were vamps that needed slaying and if there was one thing Faith did well, it was that.

CHAPTER 7

Everyone, except the girls who'd known Aiko well, left the Tokyo house for the city in teams. Buffy, Faith, Xander, Renee, Satsu, and Dracula were the second team to arrive, the first having been tasked with scoping out the numbers of vampires guarding the building. The rest of the teams gathered in the alleys of the surrounding buildings. While they watched the main alleyway entrance from the roof of the much shorter building next to it.

A crackle came over Buffy's radio, "By my count, they've got almost a thousand vampires total, ma'am."

"The girls are in position around the perimeter. We've got numbers as well," Buffy spoke over the radio. No matter the odds, and often they weren't in her favor, she had to keep an upbeat attitude for the others. Then again, compared to prior life and death situations, this wasn't the worst.

"But again, we're back to the same problem. The numbers don't matter. We can't fight these guys when they can just disappear," Xander reiterated.

"And I don't suppose you have any bright ideas..." Renee directed her question to Dracula. She didn't understand why he was even there in the first place.

"On how to slay vampires? Isn't that your little crew's area of expertise?" he shot back.

Rolling her eyes, Buffy cut in to avoid further argument. "I'm not looking for a fight. All that matters is the scythe. Once we get that back, they can't hurt us. I mean, except, you know, in the traditional biting and killing sense. But we'll deal with that when it comes." Leaning over the building's ledge, she looked down on the three vampires guarding her way in. "Right now, our only mission is to get into that building and retrieve the scythe. All we need is a really big distraction so we can slip in the back door..."

Willow came floating up from behind them just then. "...and if you all could just stop talking for one minute, I could concentrate long enough to work my mojo." She'd been among the first team to arrive for her spell preparations.

A chorus of "sorry"s rang out from the group.

"Dea pro mihi, audite meus dico..." a soft glow began to envelope the witch. "Patefacio prodigium pro nos totus." Suddenly then, a flash of blinding light engulfed everything and when it cleared, there was Dawn, standing in the middle of the street; a giant just as big as the surrounding high rises.

Faith nearly choked on her own tongue when she saw her, "Dawnie?"

Xander saw her reaction and apologized. "Yeah, uh, Dawn's a giant. Long story short, it was the result of dating a guy; a Thricewise to be exact."

With the impending fight, the brunette figured that was about as much explanation as was necessary then.

The magic ride from Scotland was a bit bumpy but the teenager finally regained her bearings. "Hi. Or I mean...Roar?"

Looking down upon the hundreds of vampires that stared up at her in fear, she gained her confidence. So Dawn let out a rumbling roar that sent the vamps fleeing for their lives. A big smile spread across her face as she got into character; she'd enjoyed watching the old Godzilla flicks with Xander when he'd babysat for her. And it felt good to have the upper hand, having gotten so used to feeling powerless despite her unfortunate size.

"Well there's something you don't see every day," Faith shook her head.

Looking down into the alley, the blonde slayer watched the door guards run. "Okay, let's go, doors open."

Everyone moved inside the huge office building from a little hall that lead straight into the main lobby. There was a giant sign, clearly painted in blood though this time in English that read: 'Welcome Slayer. Join me on the top floor.'

Hoping she wasn't making the wrong decision, Buffy got everyone into the elevator and up to the 50th floor. Everyone tensed as the lift 'dinged' and the doors opened, except there were no vampires in sight. Exiting the elevator, they moved into a hall with no other doors save one right in front of them.

Opening the door carefully, Buffy saw Toru, the supposed leader wearing a suit, staring out the office window at the chaos below with the scythe slung over his shoulder. There were no other occupants in the room as the group came to surround the blonde from behind.

"Yep...that is, in fact, a giant Godzilla woman wreaking havoc on your minions. And to make matters worse, she's a teenager, so...moody. Believe me, there's no dishonor in surrender, despite what your culture says to the contrary." She gave a signal for the others to stay back as she inched forward toward him.

Suddenly Willow winced, her eyes closing as if in pain. "Are you okay?" Faith asked.

"Something's wrong..." the witch put her hand to her head.

Coming upon Toru, with his back still turned, Buffy made a grab for the scythe. Only she stumbled when her hands found nothing but air, going straight through his image. It was a hologram. "Guys it's a..."

A sudden, sick sound was heard before Toru cut in. "I believe the word you're looking for is trap." There he stood, having come up behind them, with an evil grin on his lips, the scythe's stake end driven straight into Satsu's back and out through her chest. That sound was the weapon sinking through flesh and bone. He held her off the ground, dangling like a fish on a hook.

CHAPTER 8

Shoving Satsu off the end of the scythe, Toru laughed manically as she hit the floor with a thud and he suddenly disappeared.

Watching this, it was as if time slowed to a crawl for the blonde slayer while everything else fell into chaos. Where Toru had been standing was now a flood of vampires and wolves beginning to tear into her crew.

Her first instinct was to fall to her knees, cradle the body of her once lover. There was no chance of her surviving that kind of wound, but to at least comfort her. Nothing but guilt washed over her as Dracula grabbed her by the arm.

"Slayer! Slayer listen to me, get your witch!"

"What?!" Buffy replied, getting pulled from her daze.

"I can stop them, but I need your witch!"

"I--" following the direction of his pointing finger, she saw nothing but a broken window.

"Go get her!" Grabbing a wolf by the scruff, he flung it away from them and practically threw Buffy toward the broken window. Sometime in the seconds surrounding Satsu's death, Willow had been pulled through the plate glass by one of their vampire enemies and was plummeting toward the ground as Buffy looked down.

As the women fell, it's clear who had the upper hand, and it wasn't Willow. Looking down from the smashed glass, all the blonde slayer could see was the two plummeting figures, Willow's on the bottom and a light show of magic in two contrasting colors; another witch.

"...It's just like a diving board. It's just like a diving board. It's just like a diving board." Buffy chants to herself, eyes closing for a moment to refocus herself. Forcing herself not to think, she leapt from the window with her stake clutched tightly in both hands.

Amazingly, she's able to catch up with the falling witches and notices Willow appears to be unconscious in the Japanese witch's grasp but there's no time to think. Slamming her stake down into her back, she catches her best friend by the arm just as dust explodes in her face.

"Not like a diving board! Not like a diving board at all! Will? Willow? Um, I need you to wake up now... wake up wake up wake up."

*****

On the ground below, a melee of slayer and vampires clash to the death. And with the amount of wolves and panthers adding to the attack, it's clear the outcome is not in the girls favor.

"We have to fall back! There's too many of them! That's an order! Fall back now!" Yelled the ground leader for the slayer squadron.

Dawn, in all her huge glory stomps a vamp with her school bus sized foot right in front of her. "We don't run."

*****

On the very top of the building, Toru and his minions surround the giant lens and make their final preparations.

"We've got a problem," speaks one of the men to Toru, watching mega-Dawn on the ground stomping their soldiers.

"Wait until she gets to the intersection, then deploy counter-measures." Slayer scythe securely in hand, Toru smirked confidently.

*****

"Let's go ladies! We're taking that building! Buffy needs our-" the giant teenager tries to rally the slayers.

"Dawn! Look out!" someone screams.

A metal fist smashes into her nose, cutting off her words and felling her to the street before she can turn to face the attacker. Looking up, a giant metal robot in Dawn's likeness is staring back at her with cold, glowing yellow eyes. They built a Mecha Dawn.

*****

"That should keep her busy." Looking on, satisfied that that particular threat is taken care of, Toru turns to his computer lackey, booting up the lens system.

"Slayers are within radius," he reports.

"Good."

"Kumiko's not responding, Sir." he wearily looked over his shoulder to his leader.

"Less good. Fine. I'll do the incantation myself. Power up the lens."

Clacking away at the keyboard, a sudden hum builds as the lens is powered up. Toru moves to stand in front of it, scythe raised above his head. "Makuraayami inter canem et lupum."

The vampires standing guard around the lens, ready to fight, all notice a low rumble that doesn't appear to be coming from the mechanisms of the lens when the cement cracks through when Dracula, in game face, appears with Faith and the girls from the floor beneath their feet.

"Get the scythe!" he yells, running to tackle Toru to the ground and the scythe goes flying from his grasp.

"On it!" Faith yells back. She jumps on top and over the throng of vampires to grab the weapon out of the air. But her leap takes her over the edge of the building. "Oh fuck."

*****

Back in mid-air, and ever nearing the ground, Willow wakes in time to cast a spell before she and Buffy get flattened on the side walk.

Instead of concrete, the two crash into a pool of water. Gasping as they come up for air, they reach the side and take a moment to cough and catch their breath before climbing out.

"Sidewalk into water?" the blonde tries to clear her nose of the water that surged up it.

"Short notice," Willow pants, pulling herself onto dry land.

"I'm not complainin'," Buffy follows suit and gets to her feet, wringing out her hair.

Looking up from where they fell from on the building, they notice another figure falling.

"Hey, isn't that Faith?" Willow rung out her dress.

"I think so."

Looking sidelong at her friend, Willow had to ask, "Buffy...do you realize why she came all the way out here?"

Suddenly confused, the blonde slayer replies, "What? Will, what are you talking about?"

From above, the women are now able to hear a chorus of profanity coming from the falling slayer.

Shaking her head, the red headed witch changed gears, "Never mind. We should go catch Faith."

"Good idea."

Without further ado, Willow grasps onto Buffy's elbow and flies up to meet Faith in the air, catching her and bringing them all back up to the roof.

*****

Squeaking out of the fight, Toru's second in command runs to the ledge to look where Faith leapt off with the scythe, yelling into his radio, "We've lost the scythe. Repeat: we've lost the..."

Before he can look down, Willow with Buffy and Faith in her grasp flies up to startle him.

"...scythe!"

Buffy jumps at him with the scythe, ready to dole out some payback but he laughs, turning to fog.

"Oh come on! Fog is totally cheating!"

...to be continued...

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