Pieces of Now

Pieces of Now

By Strange Bint

Summary: When two rogue Slayers and ensouled vampires join up things happen.
Pairing: Spike/ Faith, Spike/Buffy, Spike/Other
Warnings: het sex, voyeurism, loss, grief, mentions of past abuse, might bother some hard-core Spuffians.

***

Dana was learning about what was real. She was learning what real meant and why it was important. Dana was learning that from Dr. Suzy. (“Kind of like Dr. Suez, isn’t it? But it’s not. Do you remember Dr. Suez, Dana? The Cat in the Hat? Did your parents read to you? I bet that was good. We can talk about that.”) That was what Dr. Suzy first said. That was a memory. It wasn’t happening now. It was over. It had been real, but now it wasn’t; now it was just in Dana’s head. There were bad things that happened in Dana’s head. Bad things with chains and her long dark hair getting ratted up in knots, like her body, but they were over.

The time she had very short hair that stood up on her head, and that vampire with the yellow hair killed her on the dirty subway floor was over. All she wanted was to get to her son again. No, that wasn’t her that was another Slayer. She was a Slayer, part of all the Slayers, but she wasn’t all Slayers. She was Dana. One of many, but separate, alone, Dana. The bad things that had happened to Dana were different than the bad things that happened to all the Slayers she remembered. But, sometimes it was so hard, she felt those things the Slayers felt, she saw the things they saw, she said the things they said. She was them. Sometimes she really wanted to be them and not Dana, but it was important to be Dana.

Who was Dana? Dana was a girl with long dark hair and “olive” skin. Faith said once they took her out she would fit right in with all the Italians here. Dana lived in Italy now, which was far from where she lived before. She lived in a nice room with sunlight now with walls the color of custard. The room had pictures on the wall. One was of Xena the Warrior Princess, a show, a pretend not real show, Dana liked. The room also had a poster of a bunny rabbit smiling and under the bunny it said: I like everybody except you pinheads.

Dr. Suzy didn’t like that poster, but Dana insisted on keeping it. It was from Faith. Faith bought it for her the day after she had gotten a Teddy bear from B. Dana had never met B, but she had sent the Teddy Bear down. Faith said B was the boss of all the Slayers, and Dr. Suzy had Dana make B a thank you card and write about herself. So, Dana wrote she was a girl who had a nice room. She liked “Xena.” She liked to wear flannel shirts because they were soft. She like the Harry Potter stories Dawn read to her. She wrote that she had a friend named Dawn and a friend named Faith. Then Dr. Suzy said that Dawn was Buffy’s sister. Dana didn’t like hearing that, and she wasn’t sure why. Maybe it was because she didn’t know who this “Buffy” was or what she had to do with the Slayer boss, B, giving her a bear. She didn’t like that Dawn had a sister. It made her scream and punch the walls. Dana wasn’t a sister. She had been. She had a brother once and bad things had happened to him. She saw her little brother getting torn up piece by piece. She screamed and she swore this time she would fight. This made Dr. Suzy push the button and some Slayers came out to hold Dana down. The Slayers were her sisters. What bad things would happen to them? They explained bad things wouldn’t happen anymore. Those were just memories Dana had. There was a difference between what was remembered and what was happening now.

Dana had Faith—here now. That was what she had. There were the others, the others that smiled and didn’t hurt. Girls, women, Slayers like her. Sisters. Women didn’t hurt—women protected. Now wasn’t a punching screaming day for Dana; now was a good day. She had Faith next to her and even though she was much smaller than the mother she reminded Dana of the mother, when the mother was whole.

Now Faith was here. She was real and sitting on the couch in Dana’s room. Dana remembered having a room before too, a room where she wasn’t afraid and always in the dark. A room when the mother would be whole and real and come and sit. This room was different though. Besides the Xena and Bunny picture and Teddy bear, the room had a couch. It also had a lock on the outside and a steel door. Dana also had rooms with steel doors after the before time. Rooms with locks and steel and sharp things and shackles. Hurting things! Had to get out. Had to—can’t hurt me anymore.

No, Dana, no. That isn’t now. She liked her room now even if she didn’t like the locks. Real time had pieces—pieces of things she didn’t like and pieces of things she did. She thought about stripping away what she didn’t like, taking the badness out piece by piece, but that was wrong. Take one block out and the whole tower falls. She needed the bad to have the good.

Faith was here and that was good, but she was sad—mad—then back to sad. Faith was having a bad day now. She could do that even though Dana was having a good day. They were separate.

“What is bad now?” Dana asked.

“Everything, coucou. Everything is wrong,” Faith said.

She bit her red apple lip. Her lip looked like an animal squirming, struggling to live under her teeth. Her round eyes looked around the room and got more pointy and angry. When Faith was having a bad day her face made Dana want to hide, but she couldn’t look away from Faith. Her face was too strong like a light that burnt your eyes, but it was so much nicer than dark.

“Everything is not bad, everything is not wrong. There is good and bad together. It can’t be taken apart,” Dana said.

“Oh couc,” she pushed out air from the big round balloons on her chest, “I came down here because you’re the only person I can stand right now, you know?”

“Now people are bad—hurting you? Can the Slayers kill them? Are they all bad monsters that Slayers can kill?”

“No, they were just fucking stupid. They were fucking stupid people that were all good and messed with the all bad monsters. Do you remember Wes, couc? He helped get you here,” she looked at Dana.

“I came here with Andrew. He’s not a Slayer or a girl, but he doesn’t hurt. Andrew visits me and writes things down,” Dana smiled.

She liked Andrew. He had a funny face that made her laugh when he looked at her with concentration. He also fell down a lot like a clown and that was funny.

“Yeah, that’s gotta be fun, huh?” Faith asked.

“Yes, it is. He looks like this,” Dana said and tried to make the face Andrew made when he looked at her.

She pretended the pillow was the thing Andrew wrote on and her finger was a pen, but she knew it wasn’t real. Dana put her hand on her chin and stroked it like Andrew. Faith laughed, but then Dana thought she might have been crying. Then she stopped and touched Dana’s head and looked at the wall. Dana looked at it to but there was nothing there. Maybe Faith was looking at the nice color of the wall, or that the sun was getting less yellow and more orange and it made light on the wall.

“You were happy and then it went away,” Dana said, “Where did it go?”

“Happy time is over, time to be sad,” Faith said

“Why?” Dana asked.

“Because something bad has happened. Something wicked bad,” she said.

“Is it happening now?” she asked.

“No, I think it’s over, for now,” Faith said and put her elbows on her knees and sighed.

She said things were happening- bad things or they already happened. When something already happened there was nothing you could do about it. That was what Faith always told her.

“Past is past, no amount of crazy or crying will change it, so you might as well just let it go, ” Dana echoed what Faith had said to her once.

“Heh,” Sometimes Faith had little laughs and her big red lips bent up, but didn’t show her perfect white teeth.

“You’d make a great member of the gang in LA. I know you got off to a rocky start with them. But who hasn’t,” Faith said.

“LA is not now. It’s over,” Dana assured Faith.

Dana knew “LA” was where she lived before, but when Faith or someone else talked about “LA” they usually meant something else. They meant the things that Dana did when she got out of her last room. She had broken a lot of things and hurt Andrew and she didn’t like to think about the rest. All of those other men were too tall and not like Andrew and they messed up her memories of who she was and what was now.

“Yeah,” Faith’s big eyes that were the color of the goodness inside a chocolate bar looked of to the side. “It’s never over, is it? If they come at them again I’m gonna make sure I know it’s happening—not when it’s fucking over and I’ll jump into the fire with them. All of this made me realize the Slayers aren’t my people, The Fang Gang, they are my peeps, at least what’s left of them, and I should be with them fighting the good fight in a bad way.”

“We are Slayers both,” Dana said pointing back and forth to Faith and herself. Then, she brushed her long dark hair back. Sometimes it fell in her face and made her hot.

“That doesn’t mean we belong with all of them, Couc,” Faith said.

Her round real life doll eyes looked at Dana. Sometimes Dana wanted to squeeze Faith as hard as she could, but she always seemed to be moving too much for Dana to do that. Even as they sat on the brown couch that matched Dana’s skin more than Faith’s eyes Faith was moving around. She would fold her legs up and down in her dark jeans. She would move her arms and torso around as if she wanted to make them fit right in her black shirt. All the moving made Faith’s hair fall in her eyes too. Dana brushed Faith’s hair back. Faith made a face that made her get a line in her forehead, but then she smiled.

“You and me belong. Our hair, it’s the same, but it feels different. Yours feels softer—better,” Dana said.

“That’s not the only part of me that has gotten soft. I should have been on my toes. If I was in the know I would have made Red get off her ass and save that waif. I would have torn that posh building down myself. I wouldn’t be afraid to mix it up like B. I’d have marched down there and said: ‘Angel, what the fuck are you doing?’”

“Angel was Angelus, but now he’s good,” Dana said.

She wanted to show Faith she knew that. It was wicked important to her. Dana tried to remember all the words that Faith used and all the ways her body moved so that when she was gone Dana could have her memory. Memories weren’t real, but sometimes they were good.

“And after a bunch of shouting and punches and lecturing he would have broke and told me, and I’d have helped. Fuckin’ B, man,” Faith had lit a cigarette and took it out of her mouth to laugh.

“I go to Angel to go psycho and she’s down there in a flash, but she won’t help him when he’s waste deep in a bucket full of evil. That’s because she never wants to really touch it. Must be nice to be so high and mighty and alive for sure and not missing.”

Dana had wanted to start smoking, but she wasn’t allowed. Faith wasn’t allowed to smoke near her, but she did today. Dana understood today was a special day, but not a good special like a birthday. Dana had a lot of special bad days too.

“I was missing, presumed dead for six years, but I wasn’t really missing I was with him,” Dana said numbly.

“I know, kid. That had to suck balls compared to anything I’m bitching about,” she said.

“It’s five by five,” Dana drawled, “Like I said past is past.”

The things Faith said seem to stay with her like the things the other Slayers said. Only the things Faith said came to her more easily. The other Slayers were in her dreams, her body, and her blood. But, none of the others could touch her like Faith could. They were gone. Dana could breath in Faith, smell her, and touch her. Faith was real. She was real and had big bright eyes that didn’t look away, but they were nice eyes—not hurting. Her eyes had lashes so long and strong it was like Dana’s doll she had in the before time. But, Faith wasn’t a doll; she was real, and the before time was over. Dana was learning—learning about kicking and punching and when not to kick and punch from Faith—learning past is past from Faith.

“Yeah, but you still can be sorry for stupid things you did or said… and you know, it’s not B’s fault. She’s afraid. She has to have control. She has to think things aren’t so bad. She has to think there is something she can do to help.”

“B is the boss. How can the boss be afraid?” Dana asked.

She didn’t understand. Dana had no memories of B. She imagined B was exactly like Xena, but Dana knew that was much different than having Slayer memories.

“How can she not in times like this? I should really feel sorry for someone like B, I suppose. She can’t live in reality. The Fang Gang, we know the world is beyond help, but we still want to go down swinging. I could never figure out why Spike didn’t make a b-line for B, why he stayed with Angel of all people. You know, other than to some vamped out version of the odd couple, but I get it now. I totally get it. He knew he’d never fit in with all the happy shinnies around here. He may not lose his soul, but eventually he’d do a Scooby no no and get bounced. I should find Spike just to tell him I get it. Just to tell him how the more or less being good thing is going. I’d tell him how B can’t deal with the more or less good thing, and that’s why she stood them up. He could hit me in the face a couple of times, and we could laugh and share a cigarette, “Faith smiled.

“Spike. You want to share a cigarette with him and not me,” Dana said.

Dana didn’t like to think about him in LA, but she would never forget Spike. He was a vampire, and she made sure she took the bad pieces off of him, but everyone said that was wrong. But, she had seen him hurt and kill, maybe that was just a Slayer memory, but Dana had real memories of the other man doing hurting and killing. It didn’t matter. He was back in the other place over the water and on the plane. He was in a dark place. Dana didn’t see him killing, but he left the dark place and he hunted a lot. Dana didn’t trust that. What was he looking for? More Slayers to kill? Why did Faith want to share a cigarette with him?

“Spike isn’t here. He hunts. I’m here. I don’t hunt now. Share a cigarette with me,” Dana said.

“No, sweetie,” Faith smiled, “I only share cigarettes with people who already smoke and are already dead. I’m not here to corrupt you, at least not like that.”

“Corrupt…to make bad. You want to corrupt Spike?”

“I think he’s already there,” Faith made a funny noise as she said that. It seemed to come out of her nose.

This made Dana laugh, but then she thought of what Spike would look like smoking a cigarette. It wasn’t her pretending, like how she pretended B was Xena, it was a memory. She wasn’t sure if she saw Spike smoke or if it was a Slayer memory. He grinned, like a dog growling with the cigarette between his teeth. It was like he had a bad light in his eyes even though all around it was dark. He made a show out of taking out his lighter and lighting the tip of the cigarette. He had to “make a show” of everything. Those were the words that popped into Dana’s head as she saw him in there.

“Yes, he’s been made bad. He wasn’t the man that hurt me, but it doesn’t matter. He hurt the Slayers--- killed them.”

“Right, but then he was made good and in the end it all broke even. Slayers hurt him, got him killed twice now by not doing jack to save his ass,” Faith shrugged.

She looked like she wasn’t really sure about this, and she didn’t really care that much. She should care. All Slayers should know about this vampire.

“William the bloody has bad pieces in him that I don’t like, even if he has good.”

“Right, I know he’s a total pain in the ass. I don’t really know the guy that well, but I know him enough to know that if only one member of team Angel is still kickin’ it’s him. I just kinda feel that,” Faith said.

“I just kinda feel William the bloody all the time. It’s not real. It’s a memory, the past. Accept when it’s not,” Dana said.

“Oh yeah,” Faith nodded, “All your Slayer memories. I don’t envy you that so-called super-power, girlfriend. Who wants memories of some dead chick’s past in their—What do you mean accept when it’s not? Do you see the future?”

“Not the future,” Dana shook her head,” Now. I can see William the Bloody sometimes now. He lives in a dark place that flashes with a dark man who sleeps. Someone hurt them. Someone bad. They can still hurt them.”

“You know where he is? Is he in LA?”

“He is in LA where I did those things. The things I did to him went away—got better, but the things other people did haven’t. That’s why he’s in a dark place with flashes,” Dana explained.

“You still interested in breaking rules, Couc?” a smile came to Faith’s mouth slowly.

“I can have a cigarette,” Dana felt her mouth smile too.

“I was thinking something a little more crazy, but you’d have to promise me something,”

“Make a promise? Like the Slayer oath?” Dana asked.

“There’s an oath? When did that happen? Never mind. We don’t need some stuffy oath. I’m going to take you back to LA, but only if you can deal with---“

“No!” Dana yelped, “I want to stay with the Slayers.”

“Well, okay. Stay here in sunshine land,” Faith's voice got rough, like it did when Dana did something wrong.

She had only done one wrong thing in front of Faith, and she thought that was pretty long ago. Faith had brought a man to see her. Dana usually didn’t like men who weren’t Andrew. She threw things at the English one with the glasses that came to see her because he talked to her in a too loud voice. Faith told her she was bringing a man that would be different and Faith was right. She brought a man that was very tall and had muscles, but he was different. He had skin like chocolate and talked to her in a good voice. She had liked him so much. She couldn’t remember what they talked about, but she answered all his questions that he asked about the before time, and she didn’t do that for Dr. Suzy. She might do it for Faith, but Faith didn’t ask any questions about the before time. Everything was perfect with the big black man, Dana actually saw him as quite little and cute. Then he said he had to leave. Dana really thought he was going to stay there forever with her. It was what seemed right. It physically hurt to have him go. She couldn’t remember what she said or did. She knew she didn’t hurt the little big man, but she may have hurt everyone else as she tried to stop him from leaving. After that Faith had the rough voice she did now.

“They can make you into the perfect Stepford Slayer I bet. Someone who never sticks their neck out for any of the other champs that make a mistake,” Faith said.

“One mistake for a Slayer can mean death,” Dana said.

She wanted to show Faith she knew what was right; she knew what the Slayers wanted.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Faith said, “Since I’m about up to my hundredth mistake I might as well see how many licks it takes for me. I’m going to go away for a while, kid.”

“Go? You can’t go! You have to stay here, get better, getting better everyday.”

“Whoa. Whoa. That’s you not me. You’re the resident psycho now, and even when I was no one kept me under lock and key, so I’m going.”

Dana felt something painful fill her insides. She thought she might start screaming and holding on to Faith like she did with the man, but she knew that wouldn’t be good.

“Where? When are you coming back?” Dana asked as she gripped her own hands until they felt like they weren’t there anymore.

“Geez kid, you’d be smart if there was less going on in your head,” Faith sighed, “I’m going to LA. I have to find Spike. Then, he’ll lead me to Angel. I don’t know when or if I’ll be back it all depends on how much trouble they’re in.”

“Can I come?” Dana asked lowly.

She knew what the answer was. She had to stay here and get better. She was getting better everyday, and one day she’d be there. She couldn’t leave the room with just Faith yet. She had to leave the room with Dr. Suzy and seven other Slayers that were trained in restraint. Faith said “restraint” was a fancy word for holding you down, and she didn’t want to help hold Dana down.

“Well, you said you wanted to stay here with the Slayers, remember?”

“You are a Slayer. I want to stay with you,” Dana said.

“Okay, but you have to promise you won’t go all mediaeval on me, or any kind of evil. I know you’re already nuts—nuts I can handle. Just don’t hurt anyone unless I say so especially Spike or Angel, and that includes chopping anything off of them,” Faith said.

“I can come!” Dana said loudly.

“Shhh,” Faith said sharply, “Yes, as long as you promise not to hurt anyone.”

“I have taken my oath,” Dana said solemnly. That felt like the right thing to do.

Then, Dana did hug Faith. She couldn’t remember the last time she hugged someone, but all the old feelings came back to her while she was doing it. It was the feeling of her insides popping with cartoon hearts that no one could see, but they were real.Dana just wanted to squeeze herself so close to Faith that there would be nothing between them. Two Slayers together—the same.

“Christ,” Faith grunted, “When you promised not to hurt anyone that meant me too, ya know? Are you sure you’re up to this, couc?”

“I keep all my promises to a lady, love,” Dana said in an English accent.

She could see William the bloody saying that to her. She knew a promise was a good thing, but when he said it, it wasn’t good. It was always the first thing in her head that came up when she heard the word “promise.” But, that wasn’t happening now. Now they were going back to the before place to help the vampire because that was what Faith wanted now. Dana knew saying what the vampire said in her head would make Faith laugh and it did. She learned more everyday.

Part II-- Kissing Fish

"You're the barmiest bint I've ever come across, and I've known some prizes, love!"

Dana folded herself up on the couch as small as she could. Spike was really yelling now. He had a different yell when he was really angry. Faith's yell always sounded the same, but Dana didn't care when Faith yelled at Spike. It was when Spike yelled at Faith that there was trouble. Dana wanted to turn him into hamburger meat for yelling at Faith, only she couldn't. She wasn't to hurt Spike unless Faith told her to. Well, that was one reason. The other was you couldn't turn a vampire into hamburger meat; they would just turn to dust. Dana smiled. She should tell Spike about wanting to turn a vampire into hamburger meat and then realizing she couldn't. It was the kind of thing that he would think was funny. But, no! Spike wasn't their friend anymore. Dana was sure she hated him forever because he had done something evil; Dana just wasn't sure what it was. Dana knew he had killed the Slayers. She felt them die, like it was her, but Faith couldn't be mad at that. Faith always said past was past. But Faith knew and she hated it-hated him. That was more natural anyway.

"You couldn't be more right! I was crazy-crazy to stay here in this fucked up city with you. Crazy to think you'd give me any cred for what I did, that you would let anyone know I actually saved your ass!" Faith said.

Dana was trying to think of a time when Faith had sounded more mad. But then Dana heard Faith ask: "Barmy means crazy, right?" and she didn't sound mad.

Dana thought maybe the fight was over, and things could go back to the way they were, but then Spike sounded really mad.

"That's it then? It's the bloody merit you want? A ticker tape parade?"

And, Dana was sure she hated Spike forever again. Spike seemed to explode like a bomb out of the bedroom apartment and into the living room where Dana huddled on the couch. He was always doing that, reminding her of things he wasn't. He wasn't a bomb, or a royal swordsman, or one of those guys on MTV, or a Mexican Jumping bean. He was a vampire, and that was it. Only that wasn't it.

""Oi! Guess what, la-la land?" Spike yelled really loud out the window, "The Slayer saved the world and my ass all by her lonesome! If it wasn't for her it would be all Hitchhikers' guide around here thanks to me. Let's all give her a sodding shout out!"

They lived in an apartment with plain white walls. The only color they saw all day came from the giant neon girl advertising the strip club across the street. Spike called her Sexy Sady. He used to say he was going to look under Sexy Sady's dress, and that meant he was going to see the girls in there, but he hadn't done that in a while. Sexy Sady usually flashed purple, blue, and then red. But the club had changed her colors for Christmas time and she was now flashing red, green, and white.

"Shut up! Us sane people have jobs and are trying to sleep, asshole!" a voice yelled back at Spike.

Spike said this flat was very cheap because of Sexy Sady flashing herself at you even when you drew the shades, and because of the other questionable neighbors. Dana told Spike she liked Sexy Sady because she added color to things. Spike thought that was the greatest thing Dana ever said.

"I wish I was still an asshole! It beats being a sodding plaything for both sides. I killed my last friend to save your bloody ass!" Spike yelled out the window to the voice.

Dana knew for sure that the voice was attached to a person who had a job, like they said. She knew how most people were not like her and Faith and Spike. Most people had jobs where they didn't save the world or fight. They had jobs like they did on TV-like a lawyer or a doctor or a crime scene investigator. Most of the people knew what they knew on TV, which was nothing about demons and Slayers. There was that show with the witch sisters that was a little like real life, but it was still all wrong. They never talked about vampires or Slayers on that show, and demons were wicked easy to kill and everything was always happy in the end. The show did have it right that most anyone thought people who said they fought to save the world were making it up and crazy.

"You didn't kill Gunn. That wasn't him. The senior partners were playing you. You know that," Dana said.

She didn't know why Spike said things he knew were not true when he was angry. Dana noticed Faith did the same thing, but Dana was sure she had her reasons.

"Spike knows that, Dana," Faith came out with her arms over her chest. "He just wants me to think that's why he hates me-it's what he wants to think. That I came here and made him kill his buddy. But that's not it. It's not 'cause I came and picked him up off his ass when sitting still was the only thing that didn't hurt like a motherfucker."

Dana didn't think she ever heard Faith mention a time when sitting still was the only thing that didn't hurt like a motherfucker. Faith had said other things hurt like a motherfucker, but not moving. Faith was always moving, but Dana knew exactly what she meant. Sometimes the best thing to do was nothing. To do nothing so much that you forgot you were a person, forgot you were there. Dana wished Faith looked at her as she talked to her, but she just looked at Spike.

"'Hey, wait a minute!" Spike sneered, "I may be the power's bitch, but I'm certainly not yours! You didn't make me kill Charlie boy. You just helped me suss it out is all, and maybe you and lil' Handy over there killed a few demons and shut the portal for the senior partners and saved the sodding world. But you never made me-"

"Clean B's spit out of your ears! I just fucking said that wasn't the reason you can't stand me- that you have to hide me from her!" Faith spat.

"What the bloody hell are you talking about? Handy, you're not all there. Do you know what she's talking about?" Spike asked Dana.

It was like his upper and lips wanted to run off the side of his face, but they couldn't. He had a strong face. That was what Nikki Wood thought about it. His eyes ran nowhere though. They looked straight at Faith. For the first time Dana was glad she wasn't Faith. Spike wasn't looking at her either, but Dana had been trying to figure it out.

"Maybe she's mad we had to run and hide from B and while we were running and hiding she spit in your ears," Dana said, "Why would B spit in your ears? Was it because she suspected you were hiding us? Do you think she knows we're here, and she'll take me back to my room in Italy? I don't want to go back. I know B isn't bad, and she wants to help, but Faith is right. Me going back now would be like Faith going back to jail."

"No one is going to back to jail or to the Slayer loony bin." Spike was rolling his eyes.

"Right, we are just getting out of here," Faith said as she walked into the bedroom, "C'mon Dana, get your things."

Spike did actually look at Dana now. They shared a moment of confusion, and Dana felt something in her chest release, like a fist opening up. When Spike wasn't mad Dana found him very solid---like a good sword even when he seemed like other things like the MTV guy-he was solid. Spike. She always seemed to know exactly what he meant when he said things. Sometimes with Faith it was a little harder, but Dana couldn't be without Faith. She never wanted to be. Dana could be without Spike.

"Is B back? Do we have to hide again?" Dana asked.

"No, we are never running or hiding again! That's the way of a bitch, and we aren't bitches," Faith said as she kicked a suitcase out of the closet.

"You could have fooled me. Again, I'm back to: What the hell are you doing?" Spike had his arms folded like Faith had before.

"I'm taking the kid and we are getting the hell out of here. We aren't going to stay where we aren't wanted," Faith said.

"Where will we go? To find Angel? Can't we just stay a little longer? Can we stay for one more street fair?" Dana asked.

Dana and Faith had come here to find Spike and help him. Then they were supposed to go find Angel, but everything had taken much longer than Faith had thought initially. Dana knew part of that was her fault because she'd tried to kill Spike again at first. He had just seemed so much like the Spike in her head when she first got here. Plus, she was so scared of everything and wanted to go back to her room in Italy, like she was a big baby.

Afterwards Spike needed help. It was world-saving stuff, Faith said. For some reason that made Dana not be afraid anymore. She had to concentrate on killing demons. Then a horrible man who was human and used to be a ghost tried to do terrible things to her. Spike had saved her. He knew all about how bad the man was and how to stop him. Spike wasn't scared of the man. Dana didn't exactly remember all the things Spike said to him, but Dana had never wanted to hurt Spike after that.

Then, a whole bunch of other things happened, like Gunn waking up, and Spike having to kill him because he wasn't really Gunn. Faith and Spike were wicked depressed after that. Dana had to remind them that they still had more fighting to do. They got hurt and had to heal from that attack when they closed the portal. After that, there was always a street fair or a concert Faith wanted to go to right before she left to look for Angel. Things were pretty fun until Faith started talking about the idea of Dana going to high school. That made Dana wicked scared. She was almost glad when B came into town to see Spike and she and Faith had to hide. Faith said she wasn't sure what B would do, but knowing her she would butt in and try to take Dana back to her room in Italy for more pointless talk with Dr. Suzy. Dana couldn't even remember what Dr. Suzy looked like. It was funny to think she'd once liked her as much as she liked Faith. She had once thought that one roomwith Dr. Suzy was something she needed like a weapon or clothes.

"I dunno," Faith said in a too loud voice, "Maybe we'll go look up Robin. He'll be so happy to see how much better you've gotten, and he can get you into the high school he works at."

"Slayers don't do high school. Why do I have to go to high school if you didn't? Besides, Spike says I'm too old," Dana said "Attagirl, Handy," Spike laughed, "That's no life for you, locked up in some tower with that bloke playing head-master."

"He wouldn't be playing. He actually has a job," Faith said as she was throwing clothes in the suitcase.

"Yeah, that's just what the girl needs. She's finally free after a life of being a caged animal and now you want to go and play 7th Heaven happy family. Right, that will work for about three seconds until good ol' Robby can't handle her," Spike said.

"Who's Robby?" Dana asked.

"Robby is a man that Faith happen to shag because she thought the world was ending and now she thinks he can make her happy with his dark good looks and money," Spike answered.

Dana knew what shagging was. She'd seen "Austin Powers" a bunch of times now. Spike said Faith was shagging that guy that came around who always had his hair in his eyes and some other guys too. Dana didn't like these guys, but wasn't sure why. Spike always had really good reasons why these guys were gits, and she just agreed with his reasons.

"So what if it doesn't last forever? At least I don't bend over for someone who only makes me fucking miserable," Faith said.

"Well, I know I'm not either, or I'd be sore from bending over for you," Spike arched his eyebrow,

"You are so-ungh!" Faith shouted and Dana thought she was going to hit something, but she didn't.

"The only reason I make you miserable is because I tell you the truth you already know ," Faith said pointing a finger at him, ", that everything is fucked! But that doesn't bother me; you can think I'm the biggest bitch in the world for any made-up any reason you want. What I will not take, is the fact that you sold me out and didn't explain to B about me and Dana, like we we're some fuckbuddy you're embarrassed of!"

With this she turned into the bedroom and slammed the door.

"She's so pissed. What's a fuckbuddy? What did you do, Spike? "Dana asked.

Dana definitely wasn't afraid because Spike wasn't mad at all anymore. He just had a wrinkly forehead, and his head went to the side like that dog she had in the before time. Dana wasn't sure what the dog or Spike felt when they did this, but it wasn't dangerous. She wished he would say something though. Dana never remembered having to wish Spike would say something before. She more had to wish he hadn't said things. But he always said: If wishes were horses we'd all ride away. Dana was pretty sure that meant wishing was stupid. But she had no idea what was going on now.

"Are we really going to Robby's house? What's it like? Does he have the cartoon network?" Dana asked.

"No one is going anywhere," Spike said, and he (?)moved his head and stuck out his chin like he did before a big fight.

Then he went into the bedroom and closed the door. Dana was afraid again. Spike shouldn't be making his fighting face because of Faith. Dana realized with terror that Spike might be wanting to tie Faith up to make her not leave. That's what Dana had wanted to do when she thought Faith was leaving Italy without her. She was so crazy back then, but she still realized it was wrong. For sure Spike would realize it too. Faith said that was how his soul worked, and that was why he wasn't like he was in her Slayer memories.

What Dana didn't tell Faith was Spike was still kinda the same as he was in her Slayer memories. He still did and said the same things and had the same faces, he just did and said the bad things to evil things now and not Slayers. Also, he did and said more things and had more faces that seemed good. Faith said his soul took away the bad, but Dana didn't really think so. The bad William the bloody was still there, and the soul put a good person on top of it. That was what Dana thought, but she didn't want to say because she thought both William and Spike were solid, and Dana liked the solid. Maybe that made Dana evil too. Still Dana would not let Spike hurt Faith. She would rip all the solid pieces out of him with the bad ones if he tried. She didn't care if that made her evil or if she broke her oath to Faith; she wouldn't let Faith be hurt.

Dana could only bring herself to the closed door though. She knew how it wasn't right to barge in on people when they wanted to be alone. She learned this from when Faith was with guys mostly, or when Spike and Faith and sometimes someone helping the mission had to talk about something serious.

"---your idea to run away when Buffy showed up here," Spike was said as Dana heard him through the door.

"And you were so eager to fucking help! You couldn't wait to be alone with your princess to show her how good and squeaky clean you are now," Faith said.

Dana knew Faith really liked B. B was one of the best people in the world, but there were some "harsh realities" (bad things) that B didn't get. That was why Faith and Dana had to hide when B came, otherwise B would want to take Dana back to her old room. But there was this other person that showed up around B that other people talked about, and her name was Buffy. Faith didn't like her or trust her at all. Faith hated Buffy so much she never talked about her, just like how Dana used to never talked about the human man that hurt her all that time. Buffy was a princess, Spike's Barbie, an all American girl, and Faith didn't like any of those things. Other people always talked about Buffy when Faith talked about B and it made Faith wicked pissed. "Hell yes!" Spike said, "Otherwise she would have carted Handy away or tried. I'd imagine you and the girl would have something to say about it-with your fists."

"Damn straight!" Faith said, "No one is taking Dana back to being locked up with people poking at her, that was what made her crazy in the first place, and you know that's exactly what B would want. She thinks she knows how to help crazy people, or she doesn't like to think of them at all."

"I'm not going to say you weren't the best thing that has happened to Handy, or to some other people around here but without Buffy's help that couldn't of-"

"Yeah, yeah, B gave me a second chance and then I helped someone. Go team. That doesn't mean I'm going to let the team captain come in on my game and screw it all up as much as she wants to come in and screw you," Faith said.

"Yes, and that's why I didn't tell her you were here. I lied to the big boss for you, the woman who is responsible for my soul, not to mention the only woman that can knock me on my bloody ass. Do you know the snit she would go into if she found out? It would be nothing to the one you're having now, though at least I'd understand why she was having it," Spike said.

"Yeah, B is the good Slayer who comes riding in on the white horse saving you, while I'm the bad Slayer who's on the lam and hides out with you in this shithole. Let me tell you something, princess. You have a huge Madonna/Whore complex, and you've got it all ass-backwards. You're supposed to fuck the whore, not the Madonna."

"I'm not fucking anybody, which is less than I can say of you," Spike said.

"Well, I am the whore, after all," Faith said proudly now. "I'm sorry B didn't save you again. We all know you're the one who wants to be taken back to Rome---and DO like they do, or like The Immortal does still, and that's why she didn't take you."

Faith said she was sorry, but she didn't sound like she was sorry at all. "Stupid bint! All this after I covered for you like you wanted. I should have gone to Rome. I could do with a little bit of phony bohemian class over this trashy tough talk bollocks," Spike said.

"I may be trash, but at least I'm real!" Faith shrieked and it made Dana back up from the door.

She knew she should go in and see if she was okay, but something stopped her. Something said Spike wasn't the dangerous one when Faith's voice got that way. Faith was right, she was real, very real.

"You're real," Spike agreed, "Real daft. What's wrong? Buffy comes here for five minutes and it starts you thinking about the life you coulda had?"

"What?" Faith laughed, "Where have you been? I gave up dreaming having hundreds of little girlie friends and a super hero boyfriend when I was six. I wanted you to talk to her for us, to tell her how well Dana is doing and maybe mention that I saved you and the world. Then everything could finally be cool between us."

"You wanted me to fix all the bad blood between you and Buffy by tellin' her that you an' Dana are here with me ,doing a right good job on your own? While you hide behind me?"

"I was not hiding behind you. I was--I was doing what was best for me 'an Dana. You weren't! You could have changed things for us."

"You wanted me to talk Buffy into thinking that you not listening to her was a good idea? I know I rose from the dead a few times, love. But you must really think I can work miracles," Spike laughed, but Faith didn't think it was funny.

"Bullshit. I just wanted you to do the two things you do best-kiss B's ass and tell the truth. But, no! You were too ashamed of us. You were too ashamed of me being the reason that you are alive and kickin' in a trashy city like this."

"You never asked me to tell her the truth. I did what was best for you and the girl."

"I shouldn't have had to. You should have wanted to tell her. It should have meant something to you."

"It does mean something to me. Hell, it means everything to me. That's why I didn't tell her. You really thought I could smooth things over like that? Talk Buffy out of taking Dana when we both know she would have thought that what was best?"

"You've talked her into worse ideas," Faith laughed, and Dana thought maybe the fight could be over.

"I may have a certain power of persuasion. But one thing I don't have is some sort of mind reading power. The one power vampires do have is a keen smell of fear, and I smelt it all over you when Buffy came to town. You were too afraid to face her yourself. The only one of us that wants a white knight is---ow! "

Dana knew that sound. Faith had hit Spike in the face.

"Fuck you!" Faith said.

Faith said this a lot to Spike, but this time it sounded like she really meant it.

"As if you had the stones for that! You can't even---"

Then everything got quite. Dana could practically hear Sexy Sady flashing her Christmas colors as the room went red, green and white in her flashes. Dana thought she would be so relieved when the yelling stopped, but she wasn't, not at all. She was filled with a thick solid dread. It actually wasn't quiet anymore. The voices were quiet, the voices of Spike and Faith, but they still made noise. They made noise with their moving. They moved now, and Dana heard things crashing, falling over. The two of them were always moving. Dana liked knowing when to move. When she didn't feel the urge to move she liked to stay still. Dana knew that only fear was making her still now, and that she should move.

She knew how to be very quite, and she used that skill to open the door. Stealth could be a Slayer's greatest weapon, but maybe it wasn't important now. Spike and Faith probably wouldn't have heard her if she was a one-man-band. Spike had made that joke about a demon he ripped the ears off of once. Dana wasn't sure what a one-man-band was.

Spike was holding Faith by her arms and their faces were pushed together. Dana thought it looked like they were kissing, but that couldn't be it. She saw kissing when they watched movies and "The OC" all the time, and this was much different. Their mouths were opening too much, like they wanted to catch the other person's mouth or grab their tongue. Dana actually saw Faith grab Spike's tongue; maybe this was a way to stop him from yelling. It did look like it was an emergency, like they both had to do this right away and not mess around about it. It wasn't like kissing at all. It was very serious. They were putting their hands everywhere on the other person's body-places Dana never saw people touch on the TV. It was like they were looking for something on the other person-searching them. Dana was told that she was to stay out of fights with Spike, that Faith would handle them. There hadn't been a fight with Spike for a very long time. The one time Dana did hit Spike, Faith had been so mad. She said if it happened again Faith would send her back to the Slayer Loony Bin. Dana couldn't bear to go back there now. So, she just stood still, and watched all the seriousness-she didn't know what else to call it. Faith broke away from Spike's mouth and it made a smacking sound. Kissing wasn't this noisy.

"I don't need a fucking hero, you do, and I'm not one, that's the only reason I never fucked you--- stones had nothing to do with it. Now will you let me go," Faith said this in a quiet voice.

She had a face on that Dana hadn't seen before. It just looked so sad.

"No," Spike said, "No, I won't, and if you run it has everything to do with lack of stones. You know me. You know, Faith. Even before, you really knew me that I go where I want. I do what I want. I don't stay somewhere out of honor or duty."

"No, but you'll stay somewhere because your afraid that if you go where you really want you'll just be a dirty little secret again. Was it hot, Spike? It must have been great that you could finally do it in public places 'cause her little friends weren't around to see," Faith said.

"It was hot," Spike said with his normal face and voice, but Faith moved like he had hit her, "when I did it-years ago. I was never afraid of getting full out I-never-want-to-see-you-again rejection from Buffy. Hell, it happened once a week and I always did what I had to in order to get back. We also had sex in public all the time."

"So, this was what?" Faith snarled, "The soulful sex you never got to have back in the day? I bet you weren't thinking about me or Dana at all, how just one slip of the tongue in the wrong way from you could have landed us both back in jail. But I guess B was more interested in your tongue for different reasons, and thank God because if she came here because she wanted me, you obviously would have rolled right over."

Then Spike looked just as mad and as dangerous as Faith. He had Faith by the arm, and by the hair. He pulled Faith's head back. Dana was frozen. She had remembered this, but she didn't realize when it was real how fast it all happened. They did say he was the fastest, the stealthiest of all of them. Angel was just the strongest, but Dana was strong and she was found it didn't mean much when you couldn't move. She should have been used to this. She had seen Spike turn on people and bite them in her Slayer memories a thousand times. This just seemed so different because it was real-now. There were other things too. Like there was something different in his eyes, they didn't have the bad light even though they had turned all yellow, and Dana didn't remember Spike pushing his body into people and holding them the way he was doing it with Faith. He always pushed his fangs forward first and now he held them back and pushed his whole body forward first.

"I should sire you right now!" he growled.

Dana knew Faith was the fastest Slayer. Faster than her; faster than B. No one told her this. It was not a Slayer memory. She just knew. So, as Dana was frozen solid maybe because there was something about Spike that still seemed solid and Faith could get away.

Only she didn't. Dana didn't know if she couldn't. She just didn't seem to try. Faith just shut her eyes tight and whimpered and Dana was mad. She had never been mad at Faith before, even when Faith said she would take Dana back to Italy, but she was mad now. Why wouldn't Faith try? Slayers were stronger than vampires, certainly one vampire. Dana knew in her memories that it wasn't that Spike was stronger, there was just something in him that made them stop trying. But Faith couldn't be like them. She had to be better. She was different. She was Faith.

"Then you would know. You'd know for sure, what you really wanted to know. What this really is all about. Do you want to know, Faith? For sure?" he asked.

"Stop," Faith said, but she said it lower than anything Dana ever heard.

"Make me," he said, "You can stop me, and believe what I say, or you can not stop me and know everything for sure."

"You think this is what I really want? That's what you think of me, that the core of me is no good," Faith said through clenched teeth.

She was breathing fast like she was going to explode or cry. But Faith was like Dana, she did not cry. Spike turned back into human face, but he didn't let Faith go. Not even her hair. Soon Dana would make her move. She just wanted to see what Faith did first. A Slayer should follow orders whenever possible.

"I know it's not what you want! I know you. What you want is to fight the good fight, no matter how bloody bad you have to get to do it. I think you want a little family with Handy and whoever else the rest of the world gave up on. I think you want a good beer, a good shag, and a good song on the radio and you're happier than the most powerful entity could ever be," Spike said all this as if Faith had already told him he was wrong.

But, she hadn't said anything. Her eyes were open now-wide-and looking back and fourth at Spike's face as if she'd find out why the fuck he was doing this. Dana knew she should not care why. She should just attack-kill-don't stop until there's dust, but she wanted to know why.

"I think at the core of you is the best possible person," he said all soft now.

Was that why he was being so bad? Because Faith was the best and he was jealous?

"I think you want someone to believe in you and trust you, but you don't want to do it for anyone else. So, if I turned you---you could smell I didn't fuck Buffy this time around and it's the only way you'll bloody believe me. But I'm in a bit of a bind. If I turn you, I'll destroy everything good about you, except your strength, and your sex drive, and possibly not your humor but they say intelligence can go a bit down and that might affect---"

"Do you ever just shut the fuck up?" Faith growled now, and Dana knew Faith was back.

Faith asked Spike this a lot. She would hit Spike now, punish him and tell him if he ever did this again she would kill him, or send him away. She was doing that mouth fighting thing with him again, and this time stuff crashed around on the floor worse. Big things fell, like desks and shelves. A mirror broke when Spike lifted Faith up on the dresser. Their lips never broke apart this time; maybe it was whoever did it the longest won. Dana was watching the Discovery Channel once and it said Kissing Fish weren't really kissing; they were fighting over territory. Faith said she wasn't surprised. Maybe they were fighting over the territory and whoever lost had to leave. Dana found she didn't really want Spike to go. He had said nice things about Faith even though he was mad. Dana always understood what he said, just not what he did. With Faith it was the reverse. So, the two of them together felt whole to Dana.

But now things were coming apart. Piece by piece-really. Their clothes were coming off. They took off their black shirts and then their jeans, and then Faith's bra. Dana had seen Faith naked before. Spike had too when Faith ran out of the shower to fight that assassinating Mobaracy demon. Dana understood why Spike had been smiling for a long time after. She looked all soft and perfect, like she was meant to be naked. But, Dana never saw the kind of fighting they were doing now. They had both fallen to the floor. Faith was winning. She was on top, but they both made sounds like they hurt. Dana didn't like them. They made her hands get sweaty.

"So is the 'I-always-have-to-be-on-top' thing just talk?" Spike said in a really low voice.

"Only one way to find out," Faith said.

All of a sudden Spike was over Faith. It happened so fast, just like it did that time with Dana in the subway. No, that wasn't Dana! She hadn't confused something like that up for so long. What was wrong with her? Faith yelped louder and longer than she had before. If Faith was getting hurt Dana should do something. She had come in here with that instinct-to protect, and something had screwed it all up. What?

"I knew it was all talk," Spike laughed, "I had made a bet I'd be rich now, but I have what I want."

It was Spike, he screwed it all up. He always confused Dana's Slayer instincts. Spike bent down to do that mouth fighting thing with Faith again, and Faith fought back as best she could.

"Never said I had to be on top. I said it's all good as long as you don't forget who it is," Faith said with a laugh, but she sounded so weak.

Faith kept having to stop and breathe as she talked. Spike did too, but she knew it had to be a lie. Vampires didn't breathe.

"I don't think I'll be forgetting this any time soon. I want to make your eyes roll back in your head five times around before mine go. God, god, I'd knew you'd be so good, better than any kill, any resurrection---"

Dana clenched her fists. He wanted to hurt Faith-break her. He had to be stopped.

"You really don't ever shut-up," Faith said faintly.

"At times, in short little bursts," he said and whatever he was doing to Faith he did it faster and she cried out.

Dana had to find a stake, but she didn't have time to leave Faith alone. Spike made noise too, but even if he was hurt he was on top-winning.

"Or looong strokes," he said and whatever he was doing he did it slower and that made Faith scream.

"Don't stop now," Faith cried, "Talk."

Spike was hurting Faith and confusing her too! She didn't want Spike to stop the terrible thing he was doing. She wasn't going to fight! Faith was like all the other Slayers; she was just going to stop trying and die. Just like her mother didn't try to fight Walter Kindel. Why? Her mother couldn't help it, she was weak, but Faith wasn't. How? Walter Kindel was a professional thief. He was very good at breaking into houses-keeping things that didn't belong to him and making them dirty-- and not getting caught. How could Spike do this to Slayers?

"Knew you'd be the best one...Knew it...Wanted...from the first time to see if I could quiet that insatiable monster in you," Spike said all out of breath like he was running.

"So far, so good," Faith said and she hugged him with her whole body.

It looked like hugging and fighting at the same time. Dana thought maybe it was. She wasn't sure what kind of monster Spike said Faith had in her, but whatever he said it wasn't true. Faith was a Slayer-not a monster. He was the monster. Dana didn't know why she was just standing so still. Maybe it was because of her memories. Not her Slayer memories, but the ones Dana knew were hers. Spike and her played Crash Bandicoot. She remembered Spike pulling her up off the ground or pushing her down---never to hurt always to protect. Once he made his body a shield, so those poison arrows would hit him and not Faith. Faith had been mad about it, but Dana wasn't. She'd much rather see Spike full of bleeding holes than Faith, and Spike agreed. But Faith always said all that mattered was now and now Spike moved his whole body like a weapon, like he was stabbing Faith over and over. He grabbed at Faith's boobs. Dana used to think of them as balloons Faith carried on her chest. She used to be so stupid. Dana thought it looked a little familiar, but she didn't want to remember that. They hadn't said anything in a while, and Spike looked as weak as Faith, with his eyes shut and his mouth open all the way. Maybe Faith would win by herself, and Dana wouldn't have to violate her oath again.

"Tell me," Faith was the one that broke the quiet, "Tell me how you'll satisfy the demon in me."

There wasn't a demon in Faith. Why was she believing what Spike said? Then a word never spoken by Dana that she had heard long ago come into her mind. She felt so stupid for not knowing what this was before, for not thinking of it right away.

Thrall-- That was why Dana was so confused by Spike all the time, and that was what Spike was doing now while he hurt Faith. The thrall was so strong now Dana felt it like never before. Part of her thought of good things, like Faith's eyes, and how fast she could climb a wall with her perfect body that should always be naked, and Spike's solidness and how he had all these man parts, but he could still fight. The other part of her thought of bad things, like the times when the blood comes from down there. Dr. Suzy was the one to tell her all women had that, even Slayers. Dana thought that it shouldn't happen to Slayers, they bled enough. Dana also started thinking of the man. Walter Kindel. Spike said it was better to know he had a name. Spike said if you named something you could pin it down-take away a bit of its power. Now, Dana wished she didn't know Walter Kindel or Spike at all. They were the ones doing this. They were the ones that were making her feel this horrible way. They were the same! Spike had lied. Wasn't that what Faith was so mad about?

"I can do this as long as you can take it, until you drop, until you break, until you---"

Spike was still talking saying all the ways he wanted to torture Faith and as Dana got closer she thought she would throw up. He had stuck his fingers inside Faith's mouth. The closer she stepped with all her strength and power the more she remembered Walter Kindel and all of the things he'd done to her. How dare Spike do this to Faith! Why did it take Dana so long to remember? Was she stupid, or just still crazy? She should have known Spike would do this. Where was her solidness now? Maybe all men did this, even the daddy in the before time. Dana never felt so sad and mad.

Dana could hear Faith giving a little yelped as Dana screamed in fury and threw Spike off of Faith. She threw him as hard as she could.

"Pieces! Now! No more lies! I rip you to pieces." Dana roared.

She grabbed some wood from the knocked over desk. She was so mad everything looked blurry and watery. She felt herself moving towards the ground, and someone was on top of her. Dana thought she might open her eyes and see the men with the big arms and the blue shirts from her hospital time, and then they'd stick the needles in. Brown makes you sleepy. Dana knew that wasn't possible. She had to focus on what she did. Dana killed vampires and she worked with her Slayer sister Faith; maybe that was the only thing that was real. Dana couldn't hear anything except her own angry yell until the watery blurriness stopped and Dana saw Faith on top of her.

"---uck are you doing?" Faith yelled at her.

"Turning a vampire to dust. Head and heart," Dana spat.

"I don't think so. You know how long it's taken me to get a guy to say I'm good both in and out of bed?"

"He's tricking us with thrall. We have to keep cutting until we see dust. Be brave; I know it hurts," Dana said.

"Please. He's not tricking us with thrall. I think someone with thrall would be way less of an asshole, and they'd shut-up for two seconds to do that thing with the eyes," Faith as she rolled her eyes.

She stood up and then made her eyes very big at Dana. Dana stayed on the ground and looked up at naked soft Faith with the big eyes. No one good would want to make Faith dirty. She was perfect. Spike was across the room where Dana had hit him. He was laying by the broken desk on the floor. Those pieces of broken wood could kill him so easily now. He wasn't awake. Dana was strong and knocked him out, just like Walter Kindel had done to Daddy. Spike looked a lot different than Faith when he was naked. He didn't look perfect. He was dead after all.

"He tried to make you into one of him," Dana yelled, "and you-you did nothing to fight. You-you were going to leave me alone. No more Faith. No more Spike. Just vampires."

"Oh. You saw that, huh? Um. How the hell do I... " Faith smirked and looked down, "That was just a little office romance kink. Spike would never really-it was like a game."

"A game, a dance, one good day, a Slayer dies. Spike had bad pieces, so all pieces have to go," Dana said.

"Why are you talking caveman again? I haven't heard you talk like that in months," Faith frowned.

She got all the lines in her forehead that told Dana she wasn't pleased. Dana got up and looked Faith's frowning in the eye for the first time. Dana knew she wasn't crazy again.

"I'm not the one who's wrong, you are!" Dana yelled and pushed Faith's shoulder, "You never let your guard down. You told me that."

"Well, now I'm telling you, you're on thin ice," Faith said as she went to the rumpled bed and covered herself up in a blanket.

Dana just looked at the now blanket rapped Faith who looked past her into nothing. Was she realizing how Spike was bad now? How he done the worst things to her? Faith was strong she could do what was right.

"Look, I know what I said, and I'm not even saying it's not true. I know hooking up with a vamp never ends well for our kind, but---Well, there are things about this world that you just don't get yet, killer. It took me long enough to figure it all---Hey! What were you doing going all peeping tom on us anyway? You really are on thin ice."

"Thin ice" meant Dana was not behaving; not listening to her oath. Faith still didn't understand. Dana wished she did, the understanding hurt so much, and maybe it would help to mot be alone. The good and bad pieces of Spike were stabbing her everywhere like little needles but they weren't making her sleepy, they were only making her hurt. Why didn't Faith understand? For the first time Dana wanted to hit Faith.

"I won't go back to the hospital. He was hurting you! You were screaming. It's you who doesn't know, who doesn't see. I know what he was doing. It's a thing that hurts you. The ma-Walter Kindel he would do it... Makes you weak. Makes you dirty. Try to stay still. Try to forget. Spike's not solid anymore; he's dust. He lied. But, you-you aren't weak anymore. Why didn't you fight?"

Dana felt her eyes stinging and her nose was leaking and there was a scream stuck in her throat that would only come out slow. She remembered this. This was crying.

"Shit," Faith said, "You really don't get it. There are still a lot of things you need to learn, like basic stuff. Half your life locked away, and two thirds of it tortured and I think you're going to get it all in a year. Apparently, you're not the only one who lacks basic knowledge, but at least you have an excuse. Geez kid, saying I'm sorry wouldn't cut it."

"You know I'm right now? You remember, you remember like me. How he hurt you."

Dana was annoyed the crying made it hard to talk.

"Can you kill Spike then?" Dana asked and she was even more annoyed because more crying came, "Can you kill him and not me? I-I don't think I can do it. He's too solid for me and I can't make him dust."

"Dana," Faith said as she grabbed Dana's head and hugged it, "Listen to me. I promise Spike wasn't hurting me. I know it seemed like it. I know it seemed like all the horrible shit that was done to you, but it's not. It's something else. Something different-opposite. You know how Spike looks evil, but he's really good? That's like how what we were doing is. It can look bad, but it's actually really good. Sometimes it can be wicked good-really rock em' sock em' amazing good, but that's a story for another time."

"I didn't wanna say, but sometimes I think Spike still has bad in him," Dana said, "How do you know it's not his bad coming out?"

"Dana, I promise, everything is going to be okay. Spike is all good," Faith said.

"No, I'm not!" Spike groaned.

He was hurt. Different from before when Dana had hurt him. When she had hurt him before he just looked angry and now his forhead was all scrunched up. He got up and put his jeans on. Most of the time he went around with those same jeans and no shirt. And now his face looked like it often did, "brassed off." He looked like he looked when he figured out who was after them.

"That was the worst bloody thing that ever happened to me, and that includes being tortured, burning up frontward and backwards and getting half eaten by a dragon! Now I know what it's like to be yanked out of Heaven. You, lil' girl should apologize to me and learn to suss out a situation before you act on it," Spike said.

He wasn't pleased either, but he looked like the same old Spike now. Solid. She knew what he was saying. She had hurt him worse that all those things because she had taken him away from Faith, and she should have known Spike wasn't hurting Faith. But, she didn't know. Dana just looked at him. She didn't want to give her spot up snuggled against Faith's side, even if she did some how know she had been wrong.

"Oh, yeah," Spike rolled his eyes as if Dana had said something, "I should be the one who's--- Is she crying? I didn't---She doesn't cry. Why is she crying? How do we make her stop?"

Now he looked at Dana with a knotted brow.

"I can't believe she thought you had thrall! I think she knows what it's like to be yanked out of Heaven and put into Hell way before she was a decimal point of your age, and you reminded her of that! Didn't you listen to what she was saying?" Faith demanded.

"No, I'm pretty sure I was unconscious," he said.

"Oh, yeah. There's a new excuse from you," Faith said.

"She said all that? I reminded her of hell? That doesn't sound like something she'd say. How the hell did I remind her of ---Hell? Don't cry, 'bit. Do you want some ice cream?"

"Spike!" Faith snapped, "She's not a little kid!"

"Well, does she want some Jack Daniels then?"

"In fact, she's pretty much a woman. A really screwed up clueless woman, through no fault of her own. We have to teach her more. She needs to learn more about normal stuff."

"Right," Spike snorted, "and we're the experts in that."

The way Spike would look when he thought something was stupid always made Dana want to laugh. He was right. Why did Dana need to learn about normal stuff and how could Spike and Faith know about it? Normal was living like the people who thought demons didn't exist.

"There you go-that's better. Do you want me to find your doll-the bear? What was his name, Francis?"

Dana nodded. She did want Francis. It was Spike that named him that. He pretended Francis could talk, and he said Francis told him to tell Dana Spike wasn't the big bad anymore. Dana knew Francis wasn't talking, but she liked it. That was when Spike finally stopped yelling that Dana was crazier than a shithouse rat and was a lost cause. That was a long time ago.

"Spike, I just said she doesn't need that crap!" Faith said.

Dana knew Faith didn't like Francis because he had been a present from B. Actually, When Dana thought about it; it was B that had caused all this trouble with Spike and Faith. But Francis was not part of B; he was part of now.

"She just said she wanted Francis," Spike insisted.

"Fine, get the stupid bear, but we need to talk to her right now about serious stuff, like sex," Faith said.

As perfect as Faith was, Dana didn't understand how she thought about things that had nothing to do with Slaying. Dana didn't think sex was very serious. People on TV joked about it all the time. It looked funny when she saw it on TV-two people kissing under the covers, and Dana didn't know why they were making such a big thing out of it.

"Well, you can do that part an' I'll get the bear," Spike said and left the bedroom to find Francis.

"Fine, but there's the other stuff too. You do that," Faith called out to him.

"What? Never on the first date? I think that would make me a bit of a hypocrite, don't you? By the by, where would you like to go on our first date, and don't say the tunnels," Spike called to Faith.

"Spike! I'm serious, you're the only one that can talk to her about the other stuff," Faith rolled her eyes, but she smiled.

Dana didn't think Spike and Faith should date. Whenever someone dated on TV they always had a bad time.

"I know you're not talkin' 'bout her monthlies, but could you be a bit more specific?" he asked.

He handed Dana Francis and she clutched him to her side that wasn't leaning into Faith.

"You know, how sex just isn't sex. How it can be something good," Faith said.

"You tryin' to tell me that wasn't good? because then you are right troubled. Well, the interruption and the black out were bad, very bad, but-"

"Love!" Faith said through clenched teeth as she looked up at Spike, "Tell her about when sex leads to love. I'm not saying you're the poster child for a healthy relationship, but you know about fucking love, right? I mean you had like 90 years with that vamp chick that tried to end the world with Angelus, and then there was B. God! The kid is doomed. Dana, you should run out of here right now."

Dana responded by clutching harder at Faith.

"I think the both of us together can teach her about love, and I think it won't be bad this time," Spike smiled and tilted his head.

"I think one of us is jumping the train a little bit. I don't know jack about love, Dana," Faith said as she let lose of Dana and was putting on clothes.

"Love is blood. Love is life and death," Spike said to Dana.

"Love will work it's will now matter how much you try to run from it," Spike called out so Faith could hear.

She'd already gone into the other room. Dana wanted to follow, but she could tell they both wanted her here. Dana would listen because was so glad everything was back to the way it was now. Faith yelled at Spike, but not really. Spike yelled back, but not really.

"Ugggh!" Faith groaned from the other room.

Faith was probably bored of this whole drama.

"Love is the best thing in the entire world. It's bloody brilliant. Everything good stems from it," he said, "But it can be a bit of a rub."

Part III- Crazy Again

I busted into my old apartment by kicking in the door. I couldn't help but smile a little. I love property damage. I probably shouldn't be smiling. If I was some cheerleader or some prissy girl I would be crying about everything. But I don't cry, and I'm not a normal girl. I'm Faith. I'm a vampire slayer and I don't give up. Even if I die I don't sit around bitching about it. I don't give up and start taking things that aren't mine. Okay, so I did do the taking thing once or twice, but I don't do it anymore. I live in the now, and now I was going to take back what's mine.

The apartment was dark and smelled like him. Like leather and cigarettes and fall leaves mixed together. I remember that and everything else in my life as clear as glass; so what if some of the glass was cutting me up. I remember everything in my life, like Fall in Boston. It was one of the few things in Boston that didn't make me rage. The smell of Fall, the leaves matching the brick. I loved jumping in piles of leaves the color of a building. It was like wrapping myself in a wall so no one could get me. I want to hide myself in something else now--Spike. Just because I do. Not because he's the only thing left. What's safer than wrapping yourself up in spikes? I looked at the reflection in the window, and I can't help but think that covering myself in spikes or leaves or even paper bags could only be an improvement.

I'm really good at keeping secrets. My secrets about the way I really feel inside. Even people who think they know me would have to get inside my body--my mind to know what I felt. Well, one person knew even before he got in my body, and it still amazes me that he knew. I am like the best actress ever. And the thing is I need Spike, I mean I need him so bad it's like someone is burning holes in my soul with a cig when he isn't with me. I know that sounds really selfish and soft, and maybe it is, but my other secret is that I know what he needs. He doesn't need some bonnie, all-American head-of-Slayer-Corp. girl to string his immortal soul along forever; he needs to be kept on a tight string by some bitch that doesn't let go. The bitch can say whatever she wants, in fact the bitchier the better. She can even pretend to be pushing him away, as long as she has him on that tight string and she is in reaching distance everything is five by five. So, I'm not selfish. I want to give him what he needs; I cracked the code and figured out how to make a champ happy.

I walked into the bedroom. All my stuff was still there, but he cleaned it. All my leather bracelets with the silver studs are stacked on top of each other on the dresser along with the one girlie thing I own, the Love's baby soft spray. My clove cigarettes are there too along with my Harley Zippo lighter and my lipstick, which I don't count as girlie because the color isn't some wussy pink. The mirror is above the dresser still with the devil girl and Rosie the Riveter stickers. It was funny how he could make things neat when he put them in the same place I did, but when I put them there they looked like a train wreck. Dana was worse than me. His girlie neatness with my stuff was all cool. It was like a shrine and I expected as much.

What wasn't cool were the other things that were there I didn't expect. He had taken the sketch pad out and the pencils, and he had put the drawings on the wall with the cheap art we have. What the fuck? I didn't want anyone to see these and he knew it. He had bought this stuff for me on a whim when I said maybe I could try to draw some demons I saw without him. He was actually really good at knowing what demons were what, and he'd get all pissy when I called him "my little watcher." He said he wasn't bloody little, and he had learned it all from experience and not from some book. I drew some of 'em, and he said I was good at it. I don't know if it was true. Dana loved everything I drew, which was probably a sign I actually sucked. I'd started to draw things that weren't demons. Things like Spike and Dana. I looked at the drawing of Dana. She looked much better in a fake drawing. I was probably trying to make her feel better. I don't remember.

Spike had pictures I drew of him, but they were never right--never. I told him he moved too much, and that he was too hot to capture. His hotness was in the way he moved. So was mine or at least it used to be. But, I'm not the kind of chick that is going to feel down because she lost her hotness. Shit happens.

What bothered me was that my drawings were out; the one of that bitch was out. I remember drawing her as, and as soon as I got to the hallow, narrow eyes Spike knew it was her, Eve. At least I took her with me. At least she didn't get Spike or Angel. I knew it was wrong but I would have done anything, given anyone for them to be safe.

I didn't even know what it was all about until I had some time to think about it. There's nothing like dying and being reborn in some other chick's body to give you time to think, well that and prison. I just knew at that moment when I dove on pointy faced bitch before she could set that spell off that yeah, I was dying to save the world and all that crap, but I couldn't let Angel or Dana go down because it wasn't right, and I had to save Spike--it was beyond wrong, or right, if he died. So I stepped up. He was pissed about it, still is, that is part of the reason why we are having these problems. I didn't stop to think about the consequences, I just did it.

Now I know. You see, I knew it was right to die for Angel and Dana. I was ready. I'd have given myself, and I did. That was the way the dice rolled. I gave myself for Angel because without him I'd have been nothing; I'd have been like her --Dana, who I felt I should give my life for because she was innocent. But, Spike, Spike was no innocent. I wanted to die for the Limey fucker because I couldn't live without him. I have so many feelings for the boy that a world without him is something I couldn't get through. Even if I had other people. No matter what. He was the only one I had these raging feelings about; the only one I had to have. Some people might call it love, but maybe it's just possessive bullshit. I don't know about love, that's Spike's department.

I just know I really only have these feelings for Spike. I had a little something like it for Angel but it was totally different, with Angel I felt like I could never die if he was there, with Spike I felt like I could die and it would be all right. I think maybe I felt a little like that for the stupid bitch that was sleeping in my bed now. But I know I didn't feel like that about anyone else, like I didn't feel it for crazy D. It was wicked important that I protect her. I wanted her to have a good life. I thought she could, but maybe everything worked out for the best here. Yeah, I know it did. It wasn't like I felt all crazy about crazy D. I guess she just wasn't enough to feel crazy about. She just didn't have that uungh, you know? So, it's five by five she's dead and I'm alive.

It worked out fine the way it did, even though things were lying around that shouldn't be. One of the things was B's naked bony ass in my bed, but unlike the drawings I knew she'd be out here. It was just too perfect that she was here like this for me to surprise. Most girls would freak out or cry, if some other chick they had always butted heads with had obviously just boned their man, but not me.

"I knew you'd be here," I said all quiet-like as I flopped on the bed next to her.

B's eyes opened, and immediately got huge. What color were they anyway? Blue? Green? Blue-green? Magic color-changing eyes were the only thing Spike and B had in common. Well, that and a bed, and they were both having really fucked up thoughts about the person I was.

"I know how it is. I've fucked him too, and I'd look for any opportunity to slip back in, or have him slip back in. So, I knew. I just didn't know I'd be getting the added bonus of full frontal B out of it. Well, it's more like added minus. You've lost a lot of weight since our teeny bopper sleep-overs. I guess you're one of those can't-be-too-thin-or-too-rich-bitches now," I said.

"Spike," B croaked out to him.

I could tell she hadn't heard a goddamned word I said. She never fucking did. I remembered it all now. How she always let the boys get in the way. So she was totally missing how I was saying it was okay she fucked my man. I got why she did it. I could let it go. I was even fucking telling her I liked the sight of her little ass naked in my bed. I'd like to see even her best friend Ms. Witch say that to B if B had done the same to her. It would never happen, even though the witch is 100% gay now. And the main reason it wouldn't happen wasn't because B wouldn't go for that kind of girl power if her life depended on it. It wouldn't happen because B's best friend wouldn't forgive people, even if they slept with boys she thought she liked in high school. It didn't matter. B wasn't ever going to see the ways I could be a big person. This was all going to be about how I busted in to a place to harass her and how I wasn't myself--again. It wouldn't matter what she did to me. I could take it. But she wasn't doing anything. She just lay there and called for Spike.

"Wow, you really have gone soft, B. Calling for help for the big strong vamp. I guess that's what happens when you're not out in the field," I said.

Her eyes just grew wider, bulgy even. I could tell she heard that. She always got stuff that pissed her off. She drew her fist back to hit me, but then she just froze there. Her eyes bugging in and out, her mouth making a jagged line. I wanted her to hit me. God knows she would have, a few years back, if I made that kind of crack. She didn't though. Maybe she really was getting soft and that would be a shame.

They say she is the best, and she thinks that's what pisses me off, and to my surprise, that's not it. I like her being the best. She's always been a solid mark I could measure myself by no matter what happened between us. What does piss me off, what gets my quality psychotic rage going, is that she never fucking saw who I really was. She didn't want to. I made sure I tried to see who Dana was, and yeah, what I saw was a damaged girl I had to help --mostly. But I tried to see other things in Dana too. B didn't even try. She wanted me to be seriously damaged and I was more than that--more than Dana was and ever could be.

That feeling of needing to make B happy, that feeling that I had for Angel and I had a hundred times over for Spike, it didn't seem to be there for B anymore. And that is almost worse than not having it, even though she never felt the same way back. I dunno. Maybe nothing hurts more than feeling that way and not having it bounced back to you. But I don't care about B bouncing back anymore. She always does it without me and I do it without her. She'd bounce back and do something without Spike's help. I was the one that needed Spike's fucking help here, not her.

"Hello, love," Spike said to me all 'Clock Work Orange'-like.

Shirtless in denim, his hair looking bent and curled at the ends. Some brown was growing in with the bleach. Any look would work for him but this was one of the best.

"Hello, baby," I said, "Isn't it lonely to have to smoke out on the fire escape alone after screwing? Don't you want someone smoking in bed with you, in every way?"

"You know she doesn't--didn't want you to smoke," was all he could say.

He stopped looking at me then. He never used to stop looking at me. And there it is. That fucking feeling. Thank God I'm really good at hiding it. Sometimes it backfires on you like a bad engine. When I saw him again my brain got flooded. He used to tell me how every engine needs a spark, but we had lightning in a bottle. He once said we had one mean machine. Nothing could stop us. I guess some people have to be stopped. I remember when they locked me up. Well no, Dana got locked up; I wanted to go.

"I-I'm glad you're here," B gulped.

She managed to find all her frilly clothing and she put it on with Slayer speed.

"Oh, I'm sure you are," I grinned, "You couldn't have planned this more perfectly, right? I mean, you knew I'd hear about you coming to town to take my man, and you wanted me to see it."

"I'm not here for Spike," she said, "I'm here for you. I want to help you with-with all that happened. I know you're in pain. We all are."

"Pain?" I said and then laughed, "Why should I be in pain? Oh, because you were, when you came back from the dead, right. I forgot. If I'm not doing things the B way; they're wrong. Face it, B. I'm better at you with comebacks. Always was."

"Oh god," B's voice broke, "She sounds--she is--I didn't know it was this bad, Spike."

"I tried to tell you, love. You should just go on and let me handle it," Spike said.

"No, you can't. Not alone. I know you," she said.

"You don't fucking know him. You don't even know yourself, B."

"I wouldn't be one to talk," Spike said and laughed, but it wasn't his laugh.

It was a crazy person's laugh. I should know, having been around enough crazy people.

"But I know you, B," I said.

I had to just pretend Spike didn't have that crazy laugh because if I thought about it too long it would be like holding my hand to a stove top.

"Little Miss Can't B Wrong," I said to B instead, "Pretending everything is okay. That you want to help and you're in total control. And the thing is you are in control, but you only are in control to get what you want, and you knew this was the only way you could get it. You could only get Spike when he was confused. It's fucking brilliant, B. Better than my best work. You really are the bad Slayer now."

"Shut up!" B yelled, and she did hit me.

It wasn't the first time this happened, but it was the first time she was crying while she did it.

"Shut up!" she said again as I was on the floor.

I was holding my face. Her little fists were always hard on the old jaw--I remember. But, I was kind of happy with myself. I never got this much outta B before.

"Stop looking and me like that, and stop talking like that. You're not---"B bit down on her mouth as Spike held her by one arm.

Whether he was holding her up or holding her back from running at me I didn't know. I didn't care. What I did notice was he wasn't holding her close. He was handling her like some clueless girl that just got attacked by something. I knew Spike thought B was more than that, but I could tell that he wasn't in love with her anymore. My brain did that flooding thing again.

"Not what, B?" I asked as I still felt a little dizzy from my brain flood. "Not going along with your little plan? Not agreeing with you and your crap? Not buying that I'm really a psycho loser spelled Slayer?"

"You're not her," B cried, "You're not Faith. Faith is dead."

"No!" I said through gritted teeth, "I'm alive. You're just jealous. Jealous because I came back from the dead too; only I did it better with no side-effects...Okay, so I have one little one. But it's not as bad as yours. Yeah, I heard about it. Depression, dry mouth, fatigue, an uncontrollable urge to use my man as a dildo."

Spike laughed, and it was his laugh. B looked at him as if he just started making out with Angel in front of her.

"I told you, love. You sure you still miss her? It really is like she's still here what with all the wackiness. But she's not, she's not, she's gone." Spike started out smiling and then nose-dived into crying.

"Spike!" I swallowed, "When are you going to knock this off? I'm right the fuck here! Did you just want to have one last time with B and you needed this as an excuse?"

"No, love. No. I wasn't trying...We were just giving each other solace and it didn't even--- Is that what she would think if she saw this? Is that how she would feel?"

His voice rose up as serious as a heart attack as he grabbed me by my arms like the first time I kissed him. Wow, did I love him then. I could remember it so well. Only now he was yelling at me, pleading. Damn, I hated now. "God, what did I do? I've been working so hard to make things right, to not betray her, and no matter what I do I'm a selfish bastard!"

He turned away from me and B, letting me go, and he was sobbing. I only remember him being like this one other time. It was when he had to kill Gunn only it wasn't really him. Gunn had been taken over by the dick-weed Senior Partners and there was nothing of the boy left really. He just knew how to act like Gunn and fool everybody. Spike had cried like a baby after he had killed Gunn like a man. I think that was when the feeling I have for him started--the feeling that I could die and it would be okay if he was there. The feeling that I could be anything good, bad, ugly, and it would be okay because he was there.

Don't ask me why I felt it when he cried like a huge girl back then, or why I was feeling it when he cried like a big girl now. I felt it in spades as he wept. I had to snort for irony when I realized I felt for him now how I felt then--only more. He had cried then because he knew Gunn wasn't really Gunn but some pathetic evil thing. He cried now because he thought I wasn't really Faith but some pathetic stupid girl.

"Spike," B was the first one to say something because my snort had kind of turned into this gagging thing on me.

It wasn't like B was doing much better with her talking. She could barely say his name, like her heart was actually breaking. No way. Why was she all weepy anyway? I doubted that B would cry because she lost a guy to me. But she couldn't be crying because she thought I died, and she gave a crap, could she?

"No!" Spike said as if B had just made some big argument, "Get--Get out of here. She's right. You come in here like the fire brigade, but you set everything on fire."

Then he looked at her fully in the face the way that he does, that way, like he's not even fucking blinking.

"I'm sorry, love. I didn't mean that. You're doing your best to help me, I know. You always helped me because you believe in me, but I need you to go," he said.

He looked at her and not me. He was saying this to her and not me. He had told me the same thing, kind of, a couple of months ago. That he was sorry. That I was trying to help, but wasn't. That I was killing him and I had to go. He could be such a fucking idiot, even if he didn't believe I was me; I was still keeping him alive.

"You know I can't go before I do what's right," she said in that don't-fuck-with-THE-Slayer tone, but her bottom lip was sticking out like she was five.

"And what's that exactly?" Spike asked softly, but it was bitter, and his voice had a tickle in it like it was funny. His voice was like his face; it could go from 0-60 in every direction at once and still make sense.

"Killing me? You and the great Council decide that was what's best? You all have a meeting after you ran the numbers on the chances of me going 'round the bend and killing every idiot in sight? Do me a favor: if you want to do it, do it. But don't tell yourself it was about that---that it was for the greater good of the mission and that it had to be done and all that rot," he was crazy laughing again. "Do me a favor if you're going to do me a favor, Slayer. Admit the real reason. That maybe that's the only thing that will help me. I'd do it myself, but Faith, she wouldn't want that."

"I'm gonna start wanting it, if you don't shut-up. When will you stop talking about me like I'm not here?" I demanded.

"You--you killed those people, those lawyers, but you--you can't think that's what I came here for. I wanted--I needed--" B was sucking in breath.

"You needed his body. That much is obvious, and you thought this was a great opportunity since I'm in this one and Spike doesn't believe it's me. I get it. Nobody's perfect. What's with you guys? It's just sex. I finally realize what you two have in common--the drama queen factor," I said.

"Is that really what she would think?" Spike smiled, "She would know; she would understand. She would know I still love her; it doesn't matter if I loved other people before. She would know she was the one. The one that made me happy, right?"

"Stop," B said to Spike, "Stop asking her those questions; it's just making it worse. You're making yourself miserable."

"No, baby," I said, "That's your job. I think he just said I was the one that made him happy."

"No," B said, throwing all her dramatic ability into play, "You're making him more miserable than I ever did, and you need to be stopped."

I knew that something was coming because her tone was all about being THE Slayer. She dodged under the bed and grabbed a weapon and then she was on me. Her teensy powerhouse body on top of me like a Mac-truck. She pointed her tazer thing at me.

"Aw, B, was this all you wanted? Me with Spike watchin'. Why did you get dressed?" I grunted as I forced the tazer away from me.

B seemed as strong as I remembered, no more, no less. So, the kid's body was stronger than I thought. It wasn't letting me down.

"What the bloody hell are you doing?" Spike growled and pushed B away from me.

Her bony butt hit the wall but she bounced back with all the spring of a Slayer. Impressive.

"Kill me once, shame on me. Kill me twice, shame on...you!" I said and I kicked her in the face with my boot, and it was MY boot.

It was a little tight as the girl's body had big feet, but I was able to get my boots on. I wish I could say the same for my damn jeans. Well, no body is perfect. Except maybe mine; too bad it's in the ground. Spike's was so perfect, that the damn chick Eve made it come back from being burned to nothing. Too bad it was just so she could get the two vamps with souls under control of the Senior Partners, who wanted to set off some ancient black magic to end the world, but everything had a price. And being stuck in this body and having everyone sell me out is mine, but it's cool. I'll work through it. Just like B worked through her resurrection backlash --I'll fuck Spike. I just have to get him to see me. It didn't seem like B was going to see me anytime soon, as she looked bitterly at me after I kicked her down. What else was new?

"This stops now," Spike said and he helped B up. "What are you trying to do, love?"

This time he examined B's face all mother-bird like with the loving caresses and little touches. Maybe he did love her, and now that I didn't have my hot bod anymore, what could I do?

"Ew," I laughed and said, "I never heard you sound so Daddy-like, Spike. At least not in a serious way. So, that's how B likes it? Isn't it obvious what she's doing? Your golden girl is trying to kill me."

He didn't seem to think it was funny anymore. He didn't laugh Okay, so the sex jokes were getting old.

"I'm not trying to kill you. I'm trying to take you back to where you belong," B said.

"What?" Spike said, but I knew what B meant.

She just doesn't want to believe it's me because I know too much.

"I KNOW that!" I said, "Don't you know I know you, B? Even if you never wanted to know me. You are so predictable. What you want is the same as killing me--worse. I know where you think I belong, in some cage like a fucking animal. You wanted us locked up...locked away where you didn't have to see us. You couldn't deal with us! If it was up to you we'd be all alone. No more people for us ever."

"It won't be that way, Dana. I pro---"

"Don't you fucking call me that, you bitch! Dana is dead! She was too green, and she was too crazy and she needed me too much," I screamed and darted towards her.

I had her hair in my fist and I was gonna pummel her face. I was going to rip her to pieces. Do what I could never seem to do in my hot body. I'd do it in crazy D's good sturdy body. That's what I thought of D's body. It was good and sturdy for fighting. I used to tell D she was pretty. I guess she was in a sturdy, fighting way. I used to tell her that we were two hot chicks with super powers. That was kind of stretching it. Dana wasn't like me and she knew it. Now I had to live in her body, and have her memories. But no tears. I was still hot where it counted. I was still me, and Dana's pathetic memories were nothing I couldn't handle. It was when people told me I was crazy D-- I lost it.

Then I was on the bed. My arms were pinned flat with my hands over my head. It was my man. He was pinning me down by holding my arms down with his knees. It was a quick way to restrain someone. I'd taught it to him. Yeah, I could even teach an older man a thing or two. Not that I was into restraining. Sometimes it just had to be done with Dana in the early days. Sometimes it didn't need to be done with Spike and me, but we did it anyway.

"Hi Spike," I smiled as he looked down at me.

"Hi love," he said, bearing down on me with all his strength.

"Well, this is hot," I said, "I'm not the crazy kid, Spike. She never thought it was hot when you did this. Well, maybe a little, but any sex-type thing just turned into fear with her. Sad. Don't you know it's me, Spike?"

"I know that's how it feels, love. But, what really happened is, that when Faith died all of her memories went into your head, and your connection to her was so strong---"

"No! No! No! No!" I screamed.

Dana's voice had a good scream. I remembered it. I remembered the first time I heard it. I heard it in Rome in that candy-ass girl-bedroom they had her in, which was really a rubber room. The voice was strong and shrieking at once. I thought, this chick could go places. I wanted to bust her out even then, before there was any real reason.

"Slayers! We were both Slayers! But, I'm not her--- she's not me! I'm better. I'm Chosen. I 'm the best. You can't take me; no one can take me. I can't die. I'm Faith," I yelled.

I head butted Spike and he flew off me. I kicked B again as she came at me. I realized I really was the best now.

"Wow, dude," I said, as I pulled Spike off the floor. I did a little less than gentle because I didn't know why he kept saying I wasn't me.

"When I said no one could take me that was just posturing, but when I get mad I am the best now. It is really like I do have Dana helping me. Whatever she was good for is coming out now. She had to die to reach her full potential."

"You gained Faith's reaction time along with her memories," B said, "which apparently was one of the best. That along with the primal connection you have to all the Slayers, it makes you extremely powerful. That's why you can't be---you have to know--That's why I want to help you, so we can do good things with what you have now. Together. You don't have to be alone."

"You're full of it. You don't care about us. You never visited us when we really needed you. You just want to help so you can tell yourself how good you are. You never really gave a rat's ass about me. You're already the best, so why can't you just leave me alone!"

I charged B as I said this. I have the most interesting brain ever. I'm not saying it's the sharpest one in the shed, but it's definitely got style. Because while I was charging her to kill her (and that was what I wanted to do) I was thinking: Huh. I obviously do have that feeling for B after all because if I wasn't I wouldn't be so insane over her like this, and I was almost glad. I was glad even though I knew now that Spike and the bitch had to be right in one way. I was crazy again. The definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I was trying to kill B again, and anyone could tell you it wasn't going to work. She would probably cut me and throw me off a building again. If that was what I wanted then I guess I wouldn't be crazy. But, then again, what rational chick wanted that?

I heard a crackle and I felt like every cell in my fucking body was being ripped out by its root and moved around. B had struck me down with that zappy tazer thing she had. I would have yelled, but I couldn't talk or move.

She had taken me down again. So, crazy again. I guess rising up from the dead and taking over another Slayer's body might do that to you. I realized that by definition Dana really wasn't crazy. She never repeated the same shit over and over. When she was a weak little nothing and that fuck-nut got a hold of her she stopped trying to get away. She even stopped screaming. She knew when the jig was up, like how it was up now and maybe I was dead.

Unlike me, when Dana was dead she knew how to stay down. When Dana became a Slayer, that was when she went off like a firecracker, but when they took her down, she stayed down.

That was why Dana was so scared of Spike with those stupid Slayer memories she had, (which I now had.--What a prize.) Dana was zapped by memories of Spike because he knew how to make a Slayer stop trying. When he was evil he knew how to make them stay down. Dana got that, but didn't get how he did it. Maybe she was a little slow. Spike got you to stop trying by getting you to do it yourself, by making you realize that's what you wanted. He didn't drive a Slayer crazy to kill her; he drove her sane. If I was dead, that sucked because it would have been better to have Spike kill me and not B, like an honor, in some fucked-up Japanese Kung-fu movie "Kill Bill" way.

"What did you do to her?" Spike cried.

Of course, if I was dead again, in his eyes Dana would be dead and not me. He still sounded as miserable as he did when I was alive and kicking in her body. But talk about Spike being miserable. When I died it was worse. So much worse. Having Dana's fucking memories was so unfair. The best part of dying is that it's easy. Watching someone you love die is worse. The other best part of dying--usually--is that you don't have to see the people you feel for more than you ever felt for yourself suffer through it, or so they say. Me, I have all of Dana's fucking memories.

When I died, Spike, he was...gone-like. He was still really there and he wasn't crazy, but he was gone. All the pieces of him that made him have that light in his eyes and that movement in his body, they all went away. It wasn't even like the evil pieces took a turn when he and Dana killed those Lawyers that helped Eve. I actually would have been okay with that because those evil pieces were still Spike. But, there were just broken-up, sad pieces and nothing else. Of course, the person that was most gone was Dana. She didn't even have the jagged sad pieces left. She totally vacated the premises, and that's when I came. I resurrected in her body because she wasn't using it anymore, I guess.

It seems sad I know, but there should be no tears. 'Cause ever since I fully came back in Dana's body Spike's been sad, but those bad ass pieces are back. He laughs at my jokes. That's how, deep down, I know he knows it's me.

"It's just a stun gun. It paralyzes her temporarily. She'll be fine," B said convincingly.

I believed her as I lay on the floor. I saw under my bed. Oh, that was where that shirt went. I always believed B about practical things like this. It was the tricky stuff that she didn't get. So, I wasn't dead.

"Oh," Spike said, "Well, all right, but as fun as this is I can't take much more of it, pet. So you better toddle off."

"Yeah. So, I guess I'll take her back with me now. It would be kind of weird to sit around and watch TV like this, weird and totally excruciating," B said.

"Take her back with you?" Spike asked as he picked me up off the floor.

I could still feel everything even though I was powerless to move. Leave it to B to have a doming device like this. Spike hadn't really touched me in so long, or at least that's what it seemed like. He seemed smaller somehow, and at the same time more chiseled out. But his hands were nice and sand-paper like, but the soft light side of sandpaper not the harsh dark side. He said it was from when he was human. Apparently people had to put coal in heaters, or he said men did, like he was trying to convince me he was manly back then. Even though one night I got the truth out of him. He said he never told anyone who he really was back then. Spike said I could get him to do anything with my mad skills. Cool to have the great Slayer killer at my mercy, huh? Not that I ever thought of him like that. He was just Spike. Dana was Dana but she was a Slayer first. But I didn't care about Dana. Dana was gone and Spike was here, and he was touching me. Holding my hand, touching my face. I could get the great Slayer killer back under me again, and that made me hot. Hot and trembley. Dana's hands sweat when she gets turned on.

"Well," B said, "I didn't think you'd be up to getting her sedated for when I make the big trip back to Rome with her."

I'd actually totally forgotten that B was there. I was so into Spike's hands.

"What?" Spike said and his forehead did that wrinkling-up thing. He went to go stand up to B; literally.

I was too weak to stop him from getting up and letting go of me. I was too weak to even say anything about it unless you counted grunting. Fucking B and her batman toys.

"You want to take her back to the land of leather shoes and one-dimensional people? Is that was this is really all about? To think I thought you actually came here for me--to see if I was all right. You just came for your package, and you thought you'd get another one while you were here."

"You started it with---Spike, I am here to see if you are okay, first and foremost. I wanted to do all I could for you, and I wanted---I wanted to say 'goodbye' to Faith. Do you really think I came to--to make things worse?" B said.

"No, I don't think that," Spike said, "I now think you're here because you think carting her away is what you have to do. But, you have to know that's not the way, Buffy. You thought if we shagged I would vindicate you somehow; smile and wave as you take her prisoner? Is that it?"

"Spike, please! You can't think that my being with you has anything to do with feeling guilty about having to take Dana back. I don't feel guilty about having to take Dana back. It's not that I want to do it. "B said.

"Oh, don't worry you're not going to. I'm not letting you take her anywhere, and I don't care how many Slayers you sick on me. You won't get her."

I smiled; Spike did know it was me. I looked at the white walls and saw my drawing of Dana. It was a face I could learn to be in. I used to look at it so much to know what she was feeling. I always worried she would lose it again. Little did I know she was just so stoked to be with me. She loved this brick box and these cracked white walls that was right near the god damned fire department with the sirens that were screaming now. She even loved that giant neon stripper that used to blink across from us, not for the kitsch, like me. She actually thought it was beautiful like art. Stupid kid. The stripper's been broken for so long now.

The sirens cutting through the hot dry night gave be her back up for drama. She sounded like a vice cop that broke into a shit-hole apartment trying to cart me away. It wasn't really a shit-hole though. Spike got those Indian rugs.

"Spike, I have to do this. She has a lot of power and she's not stable, so I need to help her get there. She has a lot of power and with the right--" B said.

"See, Slayer, Buffy, you may have done anything in your power to save us or help us, but it all comes back to that with you, doesn't it?" Spike asked

"Comes back to what? Saving and helping? Why you and Faith--- Dana do has the memories of me trying to help Faith like it is some kind of crime. Is that how Faith thought of it, is that how this works, and now you think it too? I won't apologize for wanting to help or save anyone, Spike. It's my job," B said with that decided face of hers.

The face that she makes sure she keeps still as she looks at you as if she doesn't care what you think one way or the other, but you can feel her body shaking with rage.

I saw the side of his face and it looked as sharp as jagged rock with that sneer. I gotta say I was a little surprised. I didn't think B would ever get the sneer, not the serious one. My man could surprise me. "I wasn't talking about helping or saving; I was talking about power. It all comes back to power."

"Spike, I would give up all the power I had if it meant things could be different for Faith, for you. You have to believe that," B said.

Damn, whenever you got B with a good one she always seem to do something to make you feel like you shouldn't have hit her. B's voice was shaking now. She was back to be that shaken little Blondie. When I got Dana's memories I found out she thought B and "Buffy" were two different people. Maybe she was the sanest of us all. No, that's not what I think; I think she was a stupid kid.

"I suppose I do," Spike said, "I know I do, but you know things aren't different. Dana, along with Faith's smarts, is now the most powerful and you want to get hold of that--- control it."

"I don't want---"B's face got as stony as mine felt. Then I felt mine move a little.

"Look, Spike, the girl has a history of danger and mental illness due to trauma. She just went through another trauma and lost the person that meant the most to her."

"You've done that a lot and you got better," Spike said as he crossed his arms.

"Yeah, well, I didn't have a psychotic break where I thought I was my dead friend," B said.

"Yeah, but if I remember you had one where you went catatonic for a bit, and then there was the time--"

"I didn't go crazy and start killing people!"

"Yes, and you can stop lording that over the lot of us at any time. The girl may have gotten a bit overzealous when Faith died," Spike said.

"She killed people; she got you to do it too. Spike, I know you're a good man, but with Dana being so unstable---"

"Aw, Ma thinks Dana is a bad influence. This is what should tip her off that it ain't Dana. It's me," I said weakly.

My voice sounded like someone else's. Oh yeah. I sat up and coughed. Being frozen was over. I was made to move.

"Do you want some tea, love?" Spike asked me.

He looked at me fully. In his black button-down shirt now that was always unbuttoned with just him under it. I realized how he'd never looked at me like that until just now. I wanted to make some joke about how the British used tea to solve all problems, but all I said was:

"A' right."

"Spike, you're acting like I want to do this, like it's up to me. Dana was, and for all we know, is killing people. She's under a world of stress and she also thinks she is a woman who did try to kill a world of people when under a world of stress. And you want to English your way out of this with taster's choice? You can't," B said.

"No shit," I said, "Taster's choice is coffee."

"Sometimes I forget your shortcomings. Losing it, losing anything, frightens you so," Spike said to B in this weird way, like he felt sorry for her or something.

"Short comings? It's a shortcoming to realize that I have to take responsibility for the Slayers I made? You would see it that way, because you don't take responsibility for anything. All you've ever done is follow other people into their battles for the rush, "B said with that soft nastiness she had.

I wanted to tell her to fuck off, of course and knock her off her pointy little shoes. But I was kinda reeling. They seemed to talk to each other so fast. They weren't stopping for any smiles or chances for the other person to take it down a notch.

"Let's not pretend this is about me," Spike said. "You're right. This part isn't about you at all, so you should get out of my face. She's a Slayer," B said, "I can't look the other way with this like I did when Angel went to Wolfram---"

"You think you're the one to handle this because this is a Slayer problem and you're the one true Slayer and all. That's what you think this is about. Your responsibility to hold the line," I said.

I got it. I got something. I was keeping up. Spike and B had a running engine of their own. It wasn't hot and smokin', like ours was. It was rusty and cold but moved really fast even though it had no business doing it.

"Right, Buffy now comes complete with a full set of army Slayer friends. Must be nice having all those friends; it's just like you to focus on the one that got away," Spike rolled his eyes, "or the two. But maybe it turned out that none of them were really friends. More like charges."

"And you think I'm happy that's true? You think I'm happy I have to clean up another mess Faith made--"

There was a cracking sound, very familiar to me from my upbringing--the sound of the bitch slap. I had never really heard it in this bedroom, well, not when serious talks were going on.

"Wow, never thought I'd do that again," Spike had that crazy person laugh and there were tears in his eyes as he shook his hand, "Funny how having a soul takes all the fun out if it, or maybe it was the awful thing you said. But it's not you're fault. You're not like Faith. Really all you can see of her is a mess."

B looked as stunned and as speechless as I felt as she stood there holding her face. I'm a little slow. It took me a second to realize what happened. Spike had bitch-slapped B! I didn't really get why. I mean, I'd never seen him do anything like that it my life. He had pounded on me a couple of times before he really knew me, and of course I've seen him rip heads off living bodies. But, a bitch slap---never. Part of me wanted to smack him and demand to know what he was doing, another part was scared shitless that this fight was totally out of my control, but mostly I started picturing Spike as a pimp or a Jerry Springer Drama queen who went around smacking people. I felt myself smiling, almost laughing. B looked at me with full outrage on. She didn't get that I wasn't laughing at her; she never got it.

"Well, I'm sorry I'm not as much fun as Faith, who let this girl out so she could suffer. Maybe you won a few battles with her help, but look at the price. She's out of control," B said with a cool shaking of her head.

I opened my mouth and I thought I was going to laugh again.

"Control was never my thing, but I never wanted Dana to suffer," I said. I realized how true this was.

I remember how strongly I felt about giving Dana a good life--- the best life, and it wasn't about me. I didn't want to impress anyone, or be, (What was that big word Spike used on B?) vindicated. (I think that's the same as redeemed.) I wanted to give Dana a good life because I knew she could do it. I remember I thought she could do it for herself, but I was wrong. Dana needed me. She couldn't be without me. Without Faith there is no Dana. She wouldn't know how to be. I didn't realize how needy and stupid she was until I got in her body--her head.

"You don't think I feel awful she ended up dead, that I killed her!" I screamed at B, and then I was crying, crying so much I couldn't say anything.

Then I could feel Spike touching me again, hugging me. Wrapping himself around me like I wanted. I always think that when I get what I want I'll feel better, and I'm always sorta right and sorta wrong.

"I let her die! I killed her, Spike!" I said into his shoulder, "She can't be dead. She can't. It's not fair. She was happy."

"You didn't kill Dana. You are---" B started saying something.

I knew she was gonna say it wasn't my fault, for once, she was gonna say that. You think I would care.

"It'll be all right. All right? We'll do this together; suss this all out. You just can't expect to skip over the part that we lost her," Spike said to me.

"Spike, you're making it worse. She thinks you're talking about her, I mean not Faith. I mean, you can't do this...It's--it's--- I mean are you just going to let her believe--" B stammered.

"Faith took it upon herself to breathe life into this girl, to make her someone real, and no matter what, that's what she is. You want me to take responsibility for something, well, let me take it. Walk away, Buffy," he said.

"I really want to, but I don't know if I can. If something bad happens because of her, to her, if something bad happens to you---It will be my fault. I made her. I made her with that spell," B said.

"Don't feel bad, B," I said, "If we never made Dana, she would have just sat in the hospital and rotted. Now the world is saved and I'm alive."

"Spike," B pleaded like she wanted him to do something again.

Her little lip sticking out, her ever changing round eyes misting, her hair was so long now she could pull it back in a school marm bun even though it was Barbie blond. I miss her old hair Ultra-Barbie blond and "sassy."

"You didn't make her. It's not you that she has in her head. She was never yours, and now she's mine," Spike said.

"True that, dude. True that," I laughed.

B looked at me all sad like, and then she said goodbye to me and Spike. I think she called me "Dana." I dunno. I tuned her out. I don't do dramatic goodbyes.

"Holy shit!" I said and I laughed the minute I heard Spike shut the door behind her. "Don't ever tell me you can't handle her again. Why didn't you do that years ago when she first came by when Dana was actually alive and an issue? You do know how to handle Slayers though, don't you? But, I think I should be on top for a while, and let's not forget about it."

I unbuttoned the rest of the buttons on his shirt, as I pushed him into living room, past the Sex Pistol poster and on to the couch. I climbed on top of him, but he just moved his head to the side like a dog submitting. I was afraid of this.

"You weren't just bullshitting B. You still don't think it's me. You think I' m Dana messing around. You want me to hit the road again," I said.

I sighed. This was such annoying bullshit, but it wasn't like I was going to cry over it. My eyelashes were still wet from crying over letting Dana die or whatever. But I didn't let her die. I died for her. I didn't have a clue I'd come back in her bod, and get her memories. I sat back on Spike's legs. It was a good thing he had the super strength because my legs were as big as his now. Not that Dana was a fatty; Spike just wasn't the biggest guy in the world, not outside of his pants anyway. I think I remember Dana seeing it once, that first time, and it scared the shit out of her. Poor girl.

"I don't want you to go anywhere. That was a mistake. I'm sure I'll make more," he smiled sadly.

"It's the body, isn't it? You can't stand the body. You like them small boned, I was the biggest size you'd take. You pig! I mean, I know it's not like my old bod---"

"It's not the body. I think you're adorable. You have a rough an' tumble way about you that could send any man over the edge...Just like Faith," he said keeping the smile, but I could tell it had something else underneath.

It was something I'd never seen him do before. He was forcing the corners of his mouth up, but those eyes. They weren't the smug ones with the pieces of good/bad light flicking on and off like a neon sign. His eyes were dark and fixed. Two dark blue sharp orbs fixed on dim--fixed on me.

"C'mon, Spike! Do you really think Dana could pull this off? She had the savvy of a ten year old. And she didn't have any mad skills in the way of the bedroom. Maybe she wanted you a little, but that--you--scared the crap out of her. She didn't understand me, us, she couldn't," I grumbled.

"You want to know one of the ways I know you're not Faith?" he asked in a casual way like he was asking if I wanted to know why he could beat me at poker.

He never would tell me about the poker thing.

"She wouldn't talk about you like this, like you were some foolish charge. She loved you and she would be devastated, devastated, if anything happened to you," Spike said to me.

He wasn't pushing me away. He was holding my face, so I couldn't pull away from him.

"No. No," I said. I was pissed. I thought I might cry again, thinking about Dana and me, but when I put my hand on his chest I felt like I was myself again.

How's that for irony.

"Maybe---maybe I did care about the kid, but, but, it wasn't how I cared about you or even how I cared about that stupid bitch who just left," I said.

"You think she didn't love you because her memories of loving Buffy an' me feel different? But it doesn't mean she didn't love you," he said.

"I--I care about you so much, Spike. You know I'm not good with this stuff, but you are really pissing me off with not believing me. I care about you so much it makes this body shake. The way I felt about Dana never made me want to shake. If she was gone from me I worried. I wanted to do anything to make sure she was okay, but I didn't feel like I couldn't get through the next five minutes. You always made me shaky, but in the old body I could control it, and now I can't. I'm at the end of my fucking rope and if you say I'm her again, I'll lose it. I don't know shit about love, so I don't want to talk out of my ass and tell you I love you if I don't know how to do it. But I almost wished I said this in my old body if this is how you're going to be."

"Don't---Was she----You shouldn't worry about that. I know what we had. I know exactly what we had, and you---she knew it too," he said.

I could feel his chest shaking with breath he didn't need. He didn't need to breathe or be going through this drama.

"Have, Spike, have, as in want and take. What would I have to do to prove it's me? Don't you want it to be me?" I asked and I kissed him softly on the mouth.

It was funny, doing it in this body, just a little lip on lip made Dana's hands sweat "More than anything I've ever wanted in my life," Spike chocked back a sob.

"Well, when you want something you have to make it happen. I am Faith, there's no way I can stop being me. Thinking what I think; feeling what I feel. If you really were so into me for these past few years, like you say, you'd have the stones to get past this body thing," I said as I ran my hands up and down his arms.

His arms were these awesome ropey things. I was always looking at them--touching him, even when I first met him, and even then he always let me. Now he grabbed my hands roughly to make me stop.

"It isn't lack of courage. Let's have this metaphysical argument out, shall we?" he snapped. "Say you are her? For all intents and purposes you are. You have her memories, her thoughts, and her feelings. Hell, you're even starting to get her glare. These are the things that make a person who they are, right?"

"Fuck yeah. What's a metaph--?"

"It's an argument about what's what and why. Like, what if you have all of these things of Faith, but you really are Dana pushing Faith forward because Dana can't handle Faith's death?" Spike said.

"Heavy," I smiled, "Then I'm still your girl,"

"Well, that's the rub isn't it? Maybe we can say this is a way of keeping Faith alive, but if she is in fact dead it doesn't change that. The girl that dragged us out of Hell and took us to Heaven is really not here. Maybe she's there, in Heaven and she wouldn't mind if we---"

"Well, you know me," I said as I got off of him and looked out the window.

Maybe I was looking for that old neon stripper to come back. That old neon stripper was wiry and flashy and lived in an ugly box brick building in an ugly part of LA---just like me. I knew I wasn't dead. I knew I was the strong one and I survived. Spike had said something like this to me before, and I flipped out. I guess I was getting sane because I realized flipping out wasn't working. Maybe I didn't like when he said this because I knew Dana was in Heaven, but I remember not being so sure I'd make it.

"If that was true," I said with a laugh, "You could remember the ol' me. My hot bod, and how I died to save you because I wanted to. I really wanted to; I wanted you to live more than anything. But past is past and if you can't beat 'em join em. Have some fun."

I slowly walked back over to him and my fake leather couch I found on that pier that time. I smiled at him. I know my smile looked big and broad and goofy. That was Dana's smile. It made her look younger. She looked like someone's pure Italian niece that flew over just to see the fucking home town of some boy band; or the black and white old picture of some distant relative on her virgin wedding day. I couldn't believe that Dana had lost track of exactly how old she was. I felt myself licking my lips like I always did.

"Yeah, yeah, I do know you, all of you and there needs to be room for Dana in there somewhere. That's what Faith would want," Spike said.

"Well, Faith wouldn't want for it to be like a convent in here with the lack of screwing and she wouldn't want it to be like a constant funeral either," I said.

It was true. It's not what I would want. I don't want to keep referring to myself in the third person. I wasn't B. I wasn't--- I wasn't anyone else. I was Faith now.

"No, no. She wouldn't," Spike said softly, his eyes off in some other stratosphere now, "Just-- just give me time."

The End (for now).

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