Dawn you need to move it! It's 1830 hours already! Beth spoke loudly into the bathroom door where Dawn was finishing up.
"What are you talking about Beth? It's only 6:30 and I'll be ready in a minute.
That's what I said Dawn, and you've been saying that for the last half an hour.
Alright, alright. I'm coming out now. Dawn muttered, as Beth walked back into her bedroom in irritation.
Dawn knocked on Beth's door, Okay, you can come out now. I'm ready. Dawn saw Beth as she stepped out of her old room. Oh. My. God! Beth? she briefly felt the earring drop from her fingers, but was too shocked to care. Mom is gonna freak when she sees you.
Beth looked down at her dress uniform with a smile. No matter how many times, the reaction was always the same.
Beth looked at her sister, silently contemplating when the dorky teenager turned into a beautiful young woman. Your pretty freak worthy yourself Dawn. Dawn stood in front of Beth dressed in a red, sleeveless dress that stopped just at her knees. Her hair was pulled back in a french braid and Beth saw a pair of diamond studs in her ears.
Beth felt pride at how much Dawn had grown from the gangly 15 year-old to this 18 year old, beautiful, young woman that stood before her.
Beth pulled her sister into a hug, I love you Dawnie, she whispered and then stepped back. You ready to go downstairs?
And the two Summers sisters started down the stairs where Giles and Mom were waiting for them.
Giles was waiting with Joyce downstairs when he heard voices and looked over towards the stairs. Dawn was the first he saw, she was dressed in the lovely red dress he had seen her carrying recently, <God she has grown hasn't she...> Giles felt a burst of pride as he watched Dawn.
Dawn, he started t ask where's Be.... the words froze in his throat as he saw Beth come down the stairs. Dressed in her Marine Dress uniform. The navy blue slacks with a red stripe down the side and the black jacket with gold buttons and the Eagle, Globe and Anchor insignia on the collar shined brightly. On the arms of the jacket he saw the gold chevron on a blood red field, and a few ribbons on the left chest of the jacket and finally the white hat under her arm and white gloves to finish off the entire image.
Willow and Tara stood outside the Bistro Bella Vita entrance waiting for Giles, Joyce and Dawn to arrive. Xander and his fiancée Anya stood a few feet away talking.
Tara, did you get the feeling Giles was hiding something? Willow asked.
No, he seemed like Giles usually is, Tara answered her lover. <Well not quite, but I'm sure that he wants to surprise Will about something. No need to say anything,> she thought.
Will eyed Tara carefully, she could swear that Tara knew something about tonight. <Damn, I guess I'll have to find out like everyone else this time.>
Willow saw Giles car drive up and pull into the parking lot. She only got a quick look, but she would swear she saw four people inside.
A few minutes later Willow saw four people walking towards them. <Four people> she thought puzzeldly and counted them out, Giles...Joyce...Dawn...and a soldier? she whispered, catching the attention of Tara who looked over at the group headed their way and a crooked smile blossomed on her face.
Seeing the smile on Tara's face Willow knew something was up. <Tara, what's going on?>
Mm..mmaybe you should ask Mr. Giles, Willow.
Willow saw the group halt about 15' away and Giles started walking alone towards her. Willow, Tara! Good evening ladies.
Giles, who is that with you? Willow asked.
Tara felt the satisfaction and happiness rolling off of Mr. Giles in waves, glancing at the party she looked at the soldier and her suspicion as to who it was, was confirmed.
Why don't you go ask Dawn or Mrs. Summers who it is Willow? Tara asked innocently.
Willows suspicion that her lover knew what was going on was confirmed with her innocent little question. But she headed on over towards Dawn and Joyce.
She saw the fourth person was a soldier and a Marine at that when they turned towards her. Willow stared for several seconds in shock, <That can't be....>, but it was as she recognized who it was and ran towards her.
Buffy!!!!!! she cried out and ran into her out-stretched arms and felt them hug her. Buthowdidyouwherehaveyoubeen?what'sgoingon? She took a deep breath. This isn't some sick joke?
Beth saw Willow as she walked towards them and then as she called her name and ran towards her. Suddenly she was pulled into a tight hug and was greeted by the bubbly Willow-speak. Willow, Willow! Slow down.
Tara grinned as she watched the two of them together, she was happy for Willow that she now had a chance to see her best friend again and she knew how much the trial and her disappearance afterwards had hurt her. She watched all four of them walk on over here at the front entrance.
Stepping back to look at Buffy, Willow saw the short blonde hair; her face was mostly the same. But now there was leanness to her features and her eyes... Willow saw the joy on her friends face, but her eyes were what caught her attention. She saw the pain hidden in them and how she had changed as well.
Xander saw Mr. G, Dawn, Willow and....Buffy??? Anya had told him earlier that Buffy was back, but on some level he really hadn't been able to believe it.
But actually seeing her changed that, he walked over to Buffy and threw his arms around her and swung her around.
Buffy! You're really here! Looking at her, Like the new hair, he teased her, knowing how she loved her long hair.
Thanks, you look good too. Is that Anya over by Giles and Tara? Beth asked, she remembered Xander was seeing her, but didn't know much about her other then she 'was' a vengeance demon before she lost her powers Xander just beamed at the mention of his fiancée's name.
Yep. Grabbing her hand he pulled her towards his waiting fiancée.
Beth looked over at Willow and whispered, Is everyone engaged now? First I find out about Mom and Giles, now Xander and Anya. What about you two? Have you tied the knot yet?
Willow blushed furiously at Beth's comment, Ummm... Tara heard Beth's question and leaned over wrapping her arm around Willow's waist, Actually Willow and I were Handfasted by our coven last Candelmas, she said very proudly and kissed Willow on the lips.
Which only caused Willow to blush even more and made Beth chuckle, Then I guess congratulations are in order for you two. Beth leaned over to Tara, But if you hurt her I'll beat you to death with a shovel.
Tara just smiled, Thanks for the warning, but I think you'll have to get inline behind Xander, Giles and Mrs. Summers first.
The group walked into the restaurant with Willow, Beth and Xander following at the rear as they talked.
As Beth was listening to Willow, she heard a voice from a nearby couple, God, you'd think they'd have rules about letting the military in here. I thought they had standards at this restaurant. Now, now dear. I'm sure they paid the Maitre D' well to get in here, the male voice replied in a snobbish voice.
Turning she saw the couple that she'd overheard and smiled at them. <Rich brats, probably never did an honest days work.>
Buffy? What's wrong? Xander asked.
And Beth focused her attention on her two friends, but she couldn't help feeling like someone had spit on all the sweat and blood she'd shed over the last three years.
So Xand, when did you pop the question to Anya? Beth asked curiously. She had noticed he had changed, but this was a big step from the boy who lived in the basement of his parents' home to the man who was standing in front of her.
Oh, you want to hear about that? Its not that big, what about you though. How do you like being in the military? If I remember right you never really liked to follow the rules, or get up early, he teased.
Beth looked at her Xander as he tried to switch the conversation. Nice try Xander, but we're talking about you and Anya. So give. Let's hear all the juicy details, she said with a smirk.
Sighing, Will and I had a run in with a demon about a year and a half ago and I got a little hurt, that was sort of a wakeup call I needed to change things in my life, and Anya was just one of things I needed in my life.
Frowning at Xander, Willow looked at him severely, A little hurt?? You had a broken leg and some bad burns from that fire demon and you were in the hospital for a month.
Okay, okay. I got hurt bad. But it was what I needed to look at things. So I took Anya out to dinner on Valentines Day at Mario's, and asked her to marry me.
Uh huh, how about you gave her this completely romantic dinner that night, and told her you couldn't imagine her not being in your life or how she cried when you asked her to marry you. You left a few details out there. Willow added as she watched Beth smile broadly and it was Xanders turn blush.
Beth threw her arm around Xander's shoulders, Xander, I'm damn proud of you and that I'm your friend.
The Maitre D' cleared his throat. If you would follow me, your table is ready.
Giles, Xander and Willow all seated their respective partners; Beth sat down in between Dawn and Willow.
The Maitre D' looked to Giles as he was seated, Your server will be with your momentarily sir. Enjoy your meal.
Thank you, Giles replied.
Moments later their water glasses filled, the server came by. Good evening. My name is Tomas and I'll be your waiter for this evening. We have several specials today He handed them their menus before walking away.
Tara looked over past Willow and towards Buffy, Buffy do you really think we should having a war that we obviously started? I mean look at what happened in the US Embassy in Paris, look at all those students that were killed by the soldiers there.
Willow looked at Tara with an angry look on her face, No, Tara. Don't.....
Beth felt her shoulders stiffen at Tara's question, she had known two of the US Marine Embassy Guards who were killed there. She stifled back her angry response and took a deep several deep breaths to calm herself.
Tara, this is a pleasant dinner. Lets not bring that up right now, ok? Willow said, trying to cut her lover off from her personal crusade against the war.
But Buffy, people died there, and over what? Tara asked.
Anger glittered in Beth's eyes at Tara's question, Yes Tara, people did die there, including Marines who were protecting the Embassy and the civilians inside, her voice was cold and angry.
This isn't what we're here to talk about Tara, this is to celebrate Buffy's return, Xander broke in.
Yes indeed, I suggest we move on to a different subject. I'm sure you can ask Beth about it later Tara. Giles stressed.
Willow grabbed Tara's hand, Tara, just drop it. Now is not the time for this, we've had this discussion before and you know my feelings about it.
Tara looked around and saw the anger clearly on Beth's face, as well as Xander and Willow's, and realized how her question had sounded.
I'm sorry Buf...Beth. I didn't mean to... She stood up, knocking her chair over in her haste to get leave.
I'm sorry Buffy, she shouldn't have....
Will, its okay. Just tell Tara I'm not angry at her and bring her back.
Beth felt tense inside but she was determined to forget it. She understood that Tara hadn't meant anything by her questions, she knew many civilians felt the same way. They just didn't understand.
Willow caught up to Tara in the parking lot, Tara's face was streaked with tears.
Tara wait! Willow called out and stopped in front of Tara.
Nnn..no Willow. I can't believe I said that it... Willow gently pushed Tara's face up so she could look into her eyes.
Its okay Tara, Buffy understands. She asked me to tell you she's not angry with you and wants you to come back.
Bb..but Will, Willow put her finger over Tara's lips.
Ssshhh, Tara look at me. Buffy doesn't say things that she doesn't mean, so come back with me.
I ruined dinner Willow, I cant.
Nothings been ruined unless you leave Tara, yes Buffy was upset a little, but she has that right, we don't know what she's been through. Please? For me, come back to dinner. I promise to make it up to you, Willow replied mischievously.
Tara took the tissue Willow held out for her and wiped at her eyes. Well since you're offering to make it up, how c-can I refuse, she paused taking in the beauty of her lover. I love you Willow Rosenberg, She leaned down pouring all her emotions into the kiss.
Meanwhile as Will & Tara walked back into the restaurant....
So Buffy, what's up with this Beth? Xander asked to break the silence that had descended since Tara & Will's sudden departure.
As Beth was about to reply she saw Tara & Will and smiled at Tara. Hi there, everything ok? she asked Will.
Bu-Buffy, I'm sorry about what I asked, it wasn't very nice and it put you in an awkward position.
It's okay Tara, I was just caught off-guard with the question.
Beth waited until Will and Tara were seated before answering Xanders' question.
"Well Xander, they weren't going to call me 'Buffy' at Boot Camp or anywhere else. So I just shortened my first name, and well I'm not Buffy anymore, anyhow my life is different and so am I, so I'd prefer if you'd call me Beth.
Willow noticed Buf...err Beth's face as she was talking to Xander, and how her features had gone cold as she brought up her past however briefly.
Xander was quiet after she replied, Oh, okay. <Way to go Harris, bring up the painful stuff> Xander chastised himself mentally. Oh, Will, I just got a call from Faith. She says that the powder you gave her to track the Polgara demons last week worked great. But she wanted to know if you can come up to LA, she has a problem that needs some strong Wicca backup.
Willow turned to see a dark look on Beth's face, You want to tell me something Will? Beth asked angrily. How can you help her after what she's done? She's a murderer.
Beth, she's changed. She's not the same person she was, she's trying to make amends for what she did. I know she's different now.
And how do you know that Will? Beth asked sarcastically Magick?
Willow turned to face Beth, she knew this would be a sore spot with Beth but she had to face that Faith had changed. Beth, are you the same person you were three years ago? No, you're not, none of us are. We've all changed and so has she, you've got to get past this anger with her at some point. Go see her, yell at her, whatever it takes to get this out. But you have to deal with the fact that not only have I been helping her, I'm going to keep helping her and I trust her.
And you trust her? Why? Because you cast some spell that tells you, you can? Beth said sarcastically. You can't trust her, she tried killing you how many times Willow?
And what about Angel Beth? How many people did he kill, maim and torture as Angelus in 150 years? But you trust him, right! Willow knew she had made a point finally as Beth went silent.
I just don't want to see you get hurt Willow, I still remember how she hurt you. Beth answered in a quiet voice.
I know that Beth, but you haven't seen her. She's changed a lot.
Maybe I'll go see her later this week before I head back. But no promises.
Willow kept her eyes on Beth as they walked through the cemetery. She really couldn't believe that her best friend was back. Dinner had been frustrating, Beth was so different from the person that she had known. Willow didn't know how to talk to her and frustration started to surge inside her when Beth had insisted on going on patrol with her.
So far she'd managed to steer them away from any trouble, <It's been three years!! What is she trying to prove?> Willow thought angrily. <For all that she's changed, she's still thinks it's her responsibility.>
Stopping, Willow cast a cantrip and a stake appeared in her hand. She motioned for Beth to stay behind her, but Beth stayed where she was. Willow felt the breeze pick up and knew trouble was about to start.
Before she had time to complete the thought four burly vamps who looked like their faces had been bashed in one too many times stepped out from behind a mausoleum. Hey it's the Wicca, kill her and her friend!
Two of the vamps rushed at Beth, Willows' eyes flashed green fire, Solaris Luminae!!!!!! and a ball of yellow energy formed in her hands and flew at one of the vampires. As he was hit by the ball of energy, he cried out as he turned to dust.
Beth had managed to dust one of the vamps, but as she fought this one she felt slow, despite all the training she'd had in the last three years. She chuckled for a second, fighting vampires just wasn't on her priority list. She started scolded herself mentally for getting out of practice, when the vamp finally managed to land a hard blow that knocked her back into a tree
Beth felt herself being picked up and the vampires fangs sink into her neck.
Willow distracted by trying to keep an eye on Beth was holding her own when she saw the vampire Beth was fighting throw her into a tree and then sink his fangs into her.
NO!! Willow yelled. Ergane Cerinus!! she chanted and the vampire was thrown back and a shield formed around Beth. No more games. Incendium Viburnum!! Willow cried out and large ball of red energy appeared over her right hand. Gesturing she threw it at the vamp that attacked Beth, as it hit him he was consumed in fire, turning to dust. The other vamp thinking to flee, ran.
As he ran away, Willow looked up at the sky and pointed at the fleeing vampire. Fulmen!! she chanted, the stars disappeared behind clouds and a bolt of lightning came streaking down and incinerated him, leaving only dust and a burn mark where he had been. The sky cleared and the stars were once again visible.
You okay? Willow leaned down closer to Beth who was sitting up, as she tried to remove Beth's hand from her neck. Blood had started to seep thought her fingers and leave a trail down her forearm. But Beth jerked away from her but instantly regretted it when her vision blurred.
Willow saw the confusion and panic clearly visible on her face. Buffy! Stop it. Its me, Will. I'm not going to hurt you. Beth stopped backing away and Willow saw something she thought she'd never see, Beth was afraid of her.
You don't have to be afraid, it's me, Willow.
I'm not afraid of you, but Beth used the tree next to her to stand up. As she stood up, a wave of nausea hit her and she felt her stomach heave as she lost all of dinner. She felt Willow's hands steady her and keep her from falling as she vomited, <This is Willow, my best friend. I..I just, I just....> Beth knew in her head that Willow would never hurt her, but the raw power she had seen her use scared her.
I'll be fine now Will, Beth said slightly more brusquely than she intended.
No you aren't Beth. You're hurt and I'm taking you back to your house Willow answered, hurt by the cold tone in her friends voice. <Just give her some time, she hasn't seen you in three years and you go casting spells like water around her. She just needs a little time to sort it out is all> Willow rationalized to herself.
What the hell was that? Beth motioned to the area where the burn mark from the lightning strike on the vamp.
Willow looked at Beth, What do you mean? I just killed some vamps that almost made dinner out of you! So what are you talking about?!? Willow replied angrily.
No Willow, you didn't just kill them, you completely obliterated them like they were nothing and those spells. Where the hell did you learn that?? Beth was upset but she knew that it wasn't really at Willow or even the powerful spells she had cast, although that did worry her.
It was that she could have gotten Willow and herself killed, she was so arrogant that she could handle this patrol as if nothing had changed, but it had and now she had to face things. Including how Willow and the others had changed. She needed to get away and think about things clearly first thought. <LA isn't that far, and I'd like to see how Angel and Cordy are doing.>
Willow looked in shock at that language Beth had used. It hadn't struck her at first, but now... Beth, when did you start swearing like a sailor?
It's not that bad Will, its only the word hell, Beth rolled her eyes.
Willow noticed that the frightened look on Beths face had gone, and she seemed calmer now. <See Will, I told you she just needed time to relax about your spells. You were just throwing them around like water and she is your best friend, three years or no.>
Uh huh, and when we go to Willy's youll share some of your colorful adjectives with him too? she teased Beth.
Beth noticed her hand was wet and sticky, <Aw damn!> she thought and brought her hand up to her face and saw it covered in blood.
As she stared at her hand, she felt her vision tunnel and start to go gray, and her legs buckled beneath her when Willow grabbed her to keep her from falling.
You're going home Beth.
No arguments from me Will, I really don't feel good.
During the trip back to her house Beth was quiet as she thought about what happened. Hey Will, are you going to LA?" she asked casually.
Willow turned her head to look at Beth before answering, Uhmmm, yes I am. Why?
Beth looked at Will, Actually I'd rather if you didn't.
What? I thought we settled this about Faith over dinner.
I've been thinking about what you said over dinner, and I've decided to go to LA in a few days. Maybe you're right and I do need to, as Cordy once put it, Spank my inner moppet and settle things with Faith.
Willow walked Beth to the front door, Are you gonna be okay?
Yeah, I'll be fine Will. Beth smiled, G'night.
Beth let herself into the house and moved into the bathroom, peeling off her bloodstained and torn shirt. <Ouch, crap that hurts. I forgot about this part of Slaying.> Taking out some peroxide and a dark towel, she soaked the towel with water and cleaned the wound on her neck. The she poured the peroxide over the wound and put a large gauze bandage over it. Moving out she headed up the stairs, <God I'm glad Mom's not here. I'm really not in the mood to explain this to her now.>
She walked to her bedroom, stepped inside and pulled on a clean sleeveless undershirt before reaching for her cell phone and knocked the book she had been reading off the bed.
As the book bounced off the bed it fell open and a piece of paper and a dollar bill fell out. Bending over, Beth picked up the dollar and the folded piece of paper.
I know you're going to be nervous about seeing your
family & friends after all this time. But they'll be just as nervous to see
you. I've listened to you talk about your Mom & Dawn, and I don't think they
ever could hate you. Not the way you've spoken about them, there's too much
love in your family for them to do that to you. Right now I'm sure you're
rolling your eyes at how 'mushy' this is.
Just give them time to get used to you as you are now, it's
been three years and it'll be hard for them to not see you as you were. Just
as you cant expect Dawn and your friends Willow not to have changed either.
Give them the space they need to get used to you and do the same for them.
Above all, you know that Mary, Sammy and I care about you, so if you need to
talk, call me. I'll be here for you.
Beth heard a knock on her door as she started to dial Taylor and turned the cell phone off and placed it on the bed, Come in. She saw the door open and her mom and Giles walk into the room. Hi Mom, hi Giles. What's up?
Joyce walked over, I just wanted to talk to you. It's been so long.
Joyce looked at Beth when she noticed a large bandage that was bloodstained on her daughters neck, Beth! What happened to you? You were fine when we left the restaurant, where you attacked?
Touching the bandage on her neck, Mom it's nothing. Will and I got jumped by some vamps, but I'm okay.
Giles moved closer from the doorway to Beth, And what were you doing patrolling last night with Willow? I thought she had more sense then to let you go with her. Giles shook his head.
Its not Wills fault Giles, so don't blame her. I pushed her to let me go and it was my fault I got hurt.
Okay?? Buffy, you were hurt. How can you be okay?! Putting her hand on her mom's shoulder, Really, I'm okay. Slayer healing, one nights sleep and I'm better. Really."
Beth saw how worried her mom was. I'm okay, really mom, and smiled.
Thats not the point Beth, she shouldn't have let you go out with her. You haven't been slaying for over three years, you could have gotten both you and her killed.
Giles, I learned my lesson and Will and I are fine. Okay?
Joyce picked up Mr. Gordo off the bed. I don't really know much about what you do in the Marines Beth.
Beth had known this would come up and she uneasy felt telling about telling mom, but she knew that she had to tell her. "Uhmm, when I finished Boot Camp I was assigned to the 4th Batt/1st MarReg she hoped Mom wouldn't ask what the 1st MarDiv was.
What is the 4th Batt Beth? Giles asked, seeing his wife's confusion.
It's an infantry unit.
Infantry? But you're a woman Beth! Joyce replied anxiously.
Beth shifted uncomfortably on the bed, Congress passed a law that allows women in combat positions now Mom. Besides I'm not with the 4th Battalion anymore, I was transferred so you don't have to worry. Beth hoped this partial truth would be enough for Mom. She didn't want her to worry about her, especially now that she was with the 13th MEU.
Giles looked down at Beth and noticed a tattoo on her right arm, it was a bulldog pushing the US flag upright, above it were the letters USMC and below it in a banner it said 13th MEU. Interesting tattoo Beth. Joyce looked at her husband and then back at Beths arm. What is the 13th M-E-U I believe it says, that you have so prominently displayed at the bottom?
Oh that, Beth looked at her tattoo nervously. That would be the unit I'm with now. But that's not really important though.
Joyce saw the nervous smile her daughter had made, Beth the only time you smile like that is when you're hiding something, liked the time you broke the lamp when you were eight. What does that M-E-U stand for?
Beth sighed loudly, It stands for Marine Expeditionary Unit, it's a rapid deployment combined arms unit. I've been in it for the last year.
Joyce reached for Beth's hand, Honey, I don't understand what that means.
Joyce, it means that Beth is part of an infantry unit, doesn't it Beth. Giles stated. How soon is your unit shipping out?
Beth looked down at her hands. Were not sure. Weve picked up our training and theres a buzz going through the unit. Beth looked from her mom to Giles, noticing the fear in their eyes.
Mom, its gonna be okay. This is what weve been training for.
Standing up suddenly Joyce started pacing back and forth, For what?!? To go get killed or blown-up or something? Joyce yelled at Beth, tears rolled down her cheeks.
Beth got up from the bed and moved over to her mother and put her arms around her, No, not to get killed. To protect my family and my country. Its what I took an oath to do.
Ive seen the news reports Beth, so many people are getting hurt and killed. I don't want my last image of you to be as they bring you back in a body bag in some news footage on the TV. Joyce pulled Beth into fierce hug. I just got you back, I can't lose you.
You won't. I'm tough and so are the members of my squad. We watch each other's back. I'm going to come home to you, both of you, she reached out for Giles and pulled him into the hug. He heard Joyce breathe hitch in her throat and he pulled her closer to him.
I promise, Beth whispered before taking a step back and cocking an eyebrow. Besides Taylor said he'd curse me with his wife's food if I got hurt.
Beth picked up the phone after Giles and her Mom had left and dialed Taylor's house, Beth listened to the phone ring as she waited for someone to pickup. Hello she heard Mary say.
Mary, hi. It's Beth.
Beth! How are you? Is everything okay at home?
Yeah it is. I just wanted to talk to Taylor about some stuff though. Is he home? Beth asked.
Yes, he's out back, let me go get him. Hold on one sec Beth, Mary heard the tenseness in Beth's voice and knew something was wrong as she walked over to her husband.
Steve, Beth's on the phone for you, she heard in the distance
She is? Okay. I'll pick it up out here, as he picked up the cordless phone next to him.
Beth? What's up? Taylor asked, concerned that she was calling back after she had left the message she was ok with Sammy. Sammy gave me your message, if you were calling to check on that. He heard her chuckle but noticed something else in her voice. Are you okay? Beth sighed, wishing that she wasn't across the US talking to him on a phone. You sound hurt? Did something happen? He frowned when she didn't respond. Beth did you try to do something heroic again?
God Taylor I was so weak. A vampire beat me Taylor, a vampire.
Okay a vampire beat you, it happens to everyone, well so to speak. What's really bothering you about that Beth?
I...I felt so useless, that's why. Cause her I am the big, bad Slayer and Will had to save me. I'm the one who's supposed to do the saving, not her. She's been patrolling for three years because of me not being there and I know she's been hurt.
Yeah Beth, you are the Slayer. But you know that means you can't be responsible for everyone.
But nothing Beth, stop trying to take the responsibility for everything on your shoulders. What you have to ask yourself is this, Have you done everything you could? IF the answers yes, then leave it alone. She's grown up and changed just like you have and likely she's stronger a person since you weren't there. Would you want to change that?
No...I wouldn't. Beth replied quietly
Good, now what else is bothering you? And don't deny it, I know you Summers. So spill. Taylor teased her, trying to break her out of the black mood she was in.
I told Mom about being in the infantry. I'm not sure how she took it other than the look of fear on her face as I told her.
Did she run out the door screaming or tell you that you're never to step foot in the house again Beth? Taylor asked.
No she didn't. Beth replied slightly thrown by Taylor's question.
Then your families handling it a lot better then mine did. I think your mother especially just needs time to get used to the idea. She still sees you as her little girl in many ways and this is a hell of a wake up call that that's not true anymore. Just be patient with her, okay Beth?
You're right, I just didn't expect to have to tell them so soon though.
So how was the barbeque?
It was a smashing success as always, Taylor said proudly.
Beth chuckled into the phone after she heard Taylor, And did you have to cart Ramirez out of there and back to the base? Or did you leave that for the rest of the squad this time?
No, this time I let them have Ramirez's drunk butt to carry home, Taylor replied as he laughed. But I can tell in the tone of your voice that what happened with Willow wasn't the only thing bothering you.
Faith? The other slayer that was in the hospital?
Yeah that's her. But she's not in the hospital anymore.
She's not? When did this happen? Beth chuckled, That's what I'd like to know, before fingering the letter still clutched in her hand. She's in L.A. fighting vamps and she needs Willow's help.
He could hear the desperation in her voice. And you want to go instead, right?
No. Yes. I don't know, yeah I guess I do. They say that she's changed, Beth heard him chuckle.
Stop laughing at me Steven Jonathon Taylor.
I'm not laughing at you Beth.
Right, you're laughing with me.
Exactly. Anyway, tell me more about Faith.
Faith's in L.A.
You already said that Beth, are you getting senile in your old age? he teased. SoFaith's in L.A. and you want to go see her.
Yeah. But I put her in a coma Steve.
Hmmm, and there's something else about Faith that's bothering you Beth, what is it?
Isn't that enough?
Not with you it isn't. If you put her in a coma, it was for a good reason. Now what else is bothering you about this Faith?
Sighing defeatedly, Okay. Before she turned so to speak, everything felt right with her and after...that night, everything changed. It was like the Faith I knew never existed and in her place was this evil creature. And now Willow's telling me she's changed, but I cant get past all the evil she did....
And now you're not sure if you can get past how you remember her as being evil?
Well Beth, there isn't an easy answer here. But Willow was right that you should go see her because it sounds like there's more to this story then you're telling, and this is something you should deal with before we leave. One way or the other you have to settle things between the two of you.
It sounds like I have 2 votes in the YES category to see Faith then. Beth replied
No, there are two friends telling you that they think this is what you should do, you get to make that decision yourself. Whatever you decide, you know Ill back you.
I read the letter Steve and...thank you.
No need for thanks Beth. Semper Fidelis Beth.
Always Faithful... and you wonder why Mary married you.
It's late Beth and you need rest. I'm here if you need me, okay?
Thanks Steve. Talk to you in a few days.