Under Your Spell
Three Years in Hell 14-16

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by Bill Gopher & Red Demon

Violence Disclaimers: There is definite bloodshed and violence in this, if that bothers you then go elsewhere.

Pairings: Buffy(Beth)/Faith, Willow/Tara

Rating: R X (extreme violence, torture and non-consensual sex)

Spoiler: Not really, no. The story starts 3 years after what would have been Season 5. So everything after the beginning ep of Season 5 never happened.

Distribution: As our girl Faith likes to say, Want, Take, Have. Just let us know where it ends up.

Summary: An AU where Buffy is framed for the murder of Deputy Mayor Finch and ends up in the US Marines.

Feedback: A definite Must Have. Makes us write much faster, Thoughts, Opinions. We can be reached at either "mailto:senseiferret@yahoo.com" or "mailto:billgopher@netscape.net".

<thoughts>

*translation*

 

 

Chapter 14


The Magic Box
Sunnydale, CA

Come on Will. I'm almost 18 and you were fighting and patrolling when you were a lot younger. I'm old enough to patrol. Dawn paced back and forth in front of Willow.

Willow patiently folded her arms as she watched Dawn pace, That's not the point Dawn, we patrolled because we had to, not because we wanted to. So why do you really want to come with me, are you looking for something else to hit?

Dawn stopped pacing and frowned, That's not fair Will. I just want to do something to help.

Willow sighed, she'd seen that look before. It was usually on Beth's face when she made a decision she was going to do something and they werent going to like it.

Fine, you can come along. But I'm setting ground rules, break them and I will teleport your butt home so fast it will make your head spin. Understood Dawn? Okay then, Rule number one; you stay out of the way. We run into something you let me handle it and if I say run, you go. Rule number two; when we patrol you pay attention to what's going on, if you see something you tell me and Rule number three; you break rule #1 or #2 you're gone. Clear?

Yeah, I get it. Dawn answered sulkily.

Good. Willow smiled. Be here at 'The Magic Box' around 7 okay Dawn?

Dawn nodded.

Willow saw the look on Dawn's face and walked up to her, Dawn, I just don't want you getting hurt, that's all.

I know. I just feel you guys treat me like I'm still a kid sometimes and...

And you think if Beth were alive we wouldn't? Willow reached out and moved Dawn's head up so she could see her face. We'd still be just as protective as we are now.

Dawn reached out and pulled Willow into a hug, Thanks for being there Will. With Faith gone now, all I have left now are you and Xander.

I'll always be there for you Dawn. Willow stepped back, Now I've got a class to teach so I'll see you later, k?

Ok, Dawn smiled, feeling better for the first time in a while and turned and left the shop on her way home.

<<<<<<>>>>>>

Roselawn Cemetery
9:30PM

Willow was happy, so far they hadn't really run into anything. The dead were staying that way tonight and she was one very happy Wicca about it too. Although Dawn was looking bored as the day is long Willow noticed, [Good, boring for her is a good.]

As they were leaving the Roselawn Cemetery something caught her eye and Willow stopped. Looking harder, she saw several figures standing near a grave. Dawn, we've got trouble stay close.

As she neared the figures Willow saw that they were standing by Beths grave. [What are they doing by her grave? Theyre not vamps. Well theyre gonna be toast in a minute!] Willow ran towards the creatures by the grave site.

Dawn looked over where Willow was running towards and saw several vamps by Beths grave. Anger filler her at the thought of Beth's rest being desecrated by vampires.

Two of the figures darted away into the shadows. Solaris Luminae!!! and Willow threw a large ball of yellow energy at one of the shadows, there was a bright flash as it hit the creature and Will watched the creature absorb the spell into itself.

Willow watched as the shadow shattered Beths tombstone and then turn to face her. Its features were still obscured by a large, dark hood. She could only make out the red eyes that glowed inside the cowl.

Willow barely had time to get a shield spell up around her and Dawn when a dark ball of black energy flew at her and hit the shield. Willow felt herself thrown back from the backlash as the shield shattered

Dazed she looked around and saw the shadow figures had left and only she and Dawn where still in the cemetery. Willow got up and checked on Dawn. She saw that Dawn had cut her forehead on a rock when she'd landed, but she'd be okay.

Willow slowly walked towards Beth's grave. The headstone was completely pulverized into little pieces and there were strange symbols burnt into the grass all around the grave. Willow slowly walked back to Dawn, she felt drained and exhausted from whatever had hit her shield spell.

Pulling out a cell-phone, Tara? It's Willow, can you come by the Roselawn Cemetery we need a ride. Yes Dawn and I are okay. Um hmm. No. Just pick us up, we don't need to see a doctor, besides there's something I want you to see. Ok, I love you too. See you in a few. Bye! Willow closed the phone and kneeled by Dawn as she waited for Tara to arrive.

After several minutes Willow looked over at a still silent Dawn, Dawn, whats wrong. Youve been quiet as a church mouse, which is very un-Dawn like.

Dawn looked up at Willow, Nothings wrong Will, Im just tired tonight is all. Dawn replied.

Dawn, try lying to someone who isnt a Wicca. So tell me whats up, is it because of the demons by Beths grave?

What the hell do you think Will?!? Dawn yelled angrily and stood up abruptly. Why cant they leave Beth alone? Shes dead Will! Tears coursed down Dawns cheeks, Dawn fell to her knees her hands over her face as she sobbed.

Willow pulled Dawn into her arms and held her as she tried to comfort Dawn.

Its not fair Will, Beth suffered so much when she was alive, why cant they leave her alone? Dawn choked out thru the tears.

Willow sighed softly. She is at peace Dawn, she earned it.

<<<<<>>>>>>

[Willows barely said two words since we dropped Dawn home, somethings wrong.] thought Tara. Wills hon, are you okay? Youve been really quiet since I picked you and Dawn up.

Im fine Tara, Willow answered snippily. Closing her eyes Willow sighed softly, Im sorry Tara, I shouldnt been taking it out on you.

A look of concern crossed Taras face, Whats wrong Wills?

Im tired of lying to Dawn and everyone else! Every time I see Dawn I have to lie or pretend that Beth is still dead even though I know the truth. Willow shifted uncomfortably in the seat.

But Wills hon, you know why we cant tell anyone. Its to protect Beth

Thats not the point, you didnt see how torn up Dawn was tonight after those demons had done something to Beths grave. I-I just feel dirty lying to Dawn when we know the truth and its not going to get any easier.

Tara reached over and put her hand on Willows shoulder, I know. But for Beth, we cant tell anyone.

Willow leaned her head against Taras hand, I know Tara, I just dont know how long I can keep on lying about it.

===============

3 Days later
15 kilometers South of Belfort

Faith stopped to fix the Alice Pack and let Beth walk past her. [Damnit B. Why are you pulling away from me? Don't you trust me?] Faith started to jog to catch up with Beth and slowed down as she reached her. You're quiet today B? What'cha thinkin?

Not much, just tired of walking across all of France. I think I've seen enough of the beautiful French countryside to last me is all.

Oh, Faith tried not frowning at Beth's evasive answer. Well we're only a day out from Belfort. Faith tried to cover the hurt and gave Beth a sidelong glance. After she had found out that Beth had been raped, Faith had noticed Beth had slowly started to withdraw into herself emotionally. Now she wasn't even sure if B even trusted her, B was always looking at her oddly or double-checking something she said was done.

We should probably make a camp for the night in about an hour and head into Belfort in the morning B. Okay? Faith asked.

Beth looked at Faith, Sure, her voice was carefully neutral.

Faith stopped and stared at Beth's back before Beth finally turned around. What Faith?

Oh come on B. Don't what me! I know it's hard for you, but you keep acting like I'm gonna hurt you.

I know youre not Faith, Beth answered patiently.

Then whats the problem B. Youve been looking at me weird for the last few days and every time I go near you suddenly you jump.

Beth turned away from Faith and started walking down the dirt road away from Faith.

B, where the hell are you going?

Does it matter F? Beth replied angrily.

Faith ran up to Beth and grabbed her by the arm and spun her around. What the hell is wrong with you B?

Beth pulled her arm free, You, they way youve treated me since I told you about being raped.

How have I treated you B? You don't talk to me unless I talk to you first. You don't listen, just like you aren't now. I'm not treating you any different Beth.

Beth spun around. You don't know what you're talking about Faith.

I don't know what I'm talking about? You better think twice before you bite off more than you can chew B. I saved your ass from that place when I had orders to kill anyone alive. Faith sighed. So step back B.

Why did you even bother then F? Beth's voice was cold as ice. You should have just left me there. She chuckled heartlessly.

Faith shoved Beth back, Go to hell B! She stared Beth in the eye for a second before spinning on her heel and started down the road.

Beth watched Faith walk away. Dammit, she muttered before jogging after her, Beth continued to watch Faith from behind for several minutes [Damn, damn, damn!! Stupid temper.] as they continued to walk.

Beth sped up her stride till she was walking next to Faith, I'm sorry Faith.

Faith stopped and looked at Beth, For what exactly? You've been like a...a...I don't know what! But Im tired of it B. I'm tired of feeling like I did something to you when I didn't. So what's going on?

Beth sighed and sat down on the ground.

Faith sat down next to Beth, B, what's been eating you then?

When I told you I was raped in the prison I felt like a weight was lifted from my shoulders, but then after we got back...I just started to feel like every time you looked at me you were judging me, and that I had done something for them to rape me...that maybe I deserved it. Beth answered softly in a quiet voice.

Faith sat in shock for several seconds and then grabbed Beth by the shoulders. Don't you ever think that B! You didn't do anything to have that done to you! They were just sick scum B, that's all.

But

No B, that's all there is to it, no buts B. Faith looked Beth in the eyes, And I'd never judge you B, I'm not fit to judge anyone. I've done too much evil in my life to do that. But you, you've saved the world more times than I can count, you protected me when you had no reason to. You're a hero B, that's who you are. Not a victim or a screw up like me. Don't ever doubt that.

Beth wiped the tears in her eyes with the back of her hand, Okay Faith. And thanks. Beth pulled Faith into her arms and held her tightly, she felt Faith's arms wrap around her and she knew that Faith was right.

Faith moved back and stood up, Come'on B, we've got a little ways to go before we can stop.

Beth stood up next to Faith, You're wrong about one thing though Faith.

Faith's brow furrowed as she wondered what Beth was talking about.

Youre not a screw up, you never were. You are a beautiful and intelligent woman whos gone through a lot and come out stronger inside than I could ever be.

================

Same Day
Backroom of The Magic Box

Aha!! Tara cried out, as Research-Fest 03 came to a halt. I found it. Its a.Rylarn demon. They are or were powerful sorcerers and mercenaries of the demon realms. The last of them were supposed to have been destroyed on August 27, 1883.

Willow frowned as she heard the date, [I know that date from somewhere, damn!] What happened on August 27, 1883 Tara?

Krakatau blew up and destroyed over three quarters of the island, Rakata. According to this several Rylarn demons were seen on the island when the volcano blew up.

I always thought that it was a nature thing when that happened Will, why do you think they were there and why would they be messing with Beths grave? Xander asked.

Im not sure, but Im going to find out. Does it say anything else Tara?

Yeah, a Watcher and her Slayer were there that same day the volcano blew.

<<<<<<>>>>>>

The Following Night
Roselawn Cemetery

Willow had been walking around Sunnydale looking for any sign of the Rylarn demons for the last two hours and had found exactly nothing so far. She and Tara had cleared the symbols from Beths grave re-sanctified it and cast several protection spells they thought should keep the demons away from the grave. Willow found herself back at Beths grave minus the headstone, which was being replaced tomorrow.

Willow sat down next to Beths grave, I know youre not really here Beth, Cordy says that youre safe with Faith right now. But you dont know how much we miss you, especially Dawn. Its been hard on her, harder than when you were sent away to the Marines. At least she knew you were alive then, so she could hope that one day shed see you again. But shes so angry now and Ive been too wrapped up in my own problems to help her. Willow heard footsteps quiet footsteps behind her and whirled around, a large ball of glowing red energy forming in her hands, and came face to face with Dawn.

Damn it Dawn!! What are you doing out here? Willow absently released the spell and the energy ball vanished. Well?!? Its almost midnight, are you trying to become dinner for some stray vamp? Willow said angrily.

NoI just needed to get out and I wound up here.

Dawn, this is the last place you should be right now. Willow said in a calmer voice. Its dangerous with those demons on the loose.

What about you Will? Why are you here? Dawn asked petulantly.

Willow leaned down and brushed the dirt off her pants, I came to check on Beth, I wanted to make sure no-one was bothering her. Something caused Willow to look up and she saw a shadowed figure appear at the edge of the woods about 50 feet away. Dawn! Dont move, just listen. The demons are back, Im going to get his attention, I want you to run as fast as you can out of the cemetery and keep on running till you get to Xanders, Willow whispered.

But

No buts! I dont have time and I cant protect you and fight this demon at the same time. Now reach into my left pocket, grab the cell phone. When you get out, call Tara and tell her whats going on, okay? Willow watched as the hooded figure started to move forward towards them.

Okay Willow. Dawn felt her heart race, she couldnt see the demon but she knew they way Willow had tensed up it was coming closer. She was scared for Willow after what it had done last time.

Ready? Go!

Dawn ran faster then she ever had towards the cemetery gates. She heard Willow yelling in Latin and but she didnt hear explosions or anything. As she neared the gate Dawn saw something move out of the shadows by the entrance. WILLOW!!!! she yelled as she saw another of the demons step into the light.

Willow froze for a moment as she heard Dawn yell her name, she turned to look and saw Dawn backing away from the cemetery gate as another of the Rylarn demons stepped out. Turning back she barely managed to deflect another of the black energy balls from this demon, the blast threw her back several feet. Quickly she got to her feet and looked over by Dawn.

Willow saw the second Rylarn demon cast a spell at Dawn and threw a quick shield spell over her blocking most of it, when she felt a blinding white-hot pain in her shoulder and fell to her knees. Looking down she saw a knife in her shoulder and blood all over her shoulder. Dawn! Come over here quick! Willow called out.

Dawn ran over to where she saw Willow kneeling, as she got close she saw Willow had been hurt. Willow!!

Help me up, Willow said weakly.

Dawn helped Willow stand up and watched as both demons walked towards them, slowly.

Now theyre gonna find out why they should have stayed dead. Willow said angrily.

Dawn watched as Willow seemed to get stronger and a deep green fire burned brightly in her eyes. Dawn heard Willow start murmuring softly until Willows voice was echoing in the clearing, Beatus deus cessum tui fidelus creatura tui imperium deleo nunc malus peior pessimus!!! Dawn felt herself pushed back by some force, a red glow surrounded Willow and she hovered several feet off of the ground. The stars disappeared beneath clouds that had formed in the sky, afraid to do anything Dawn stood still and watched.

Looking over at the demons, Dawn saw that they had stopped moving towards them and were watching Willow when from the sky 2 bolts of lightning shot down and surrounded both demons and trapping them. You have threatened and injured MY servant and Chosen!! Dawn looked up at Willow who was now hovering about 12 feet in the air. Dawn watched as Willow gestured and the cages started to shrink and the demons began to scream in pain. You are abominations to Nature and now you will be destroyed!!! the Goddesss voice echoed from Willow. The cages continued to shrink as the demons screamed louder, there was a loud clap of thunder as the demons disappeared, bits of ash gently floated where the demons had been a moment ago.

Willow? Dawn asked.

Slowly Willow floated back down and walked over to Dawn, My Chosen, who you call Willow will be fine. Have no fear little one, said the Goddess.

But her arm, the blood Dawn said nervously. [This is a goddess or the goddess? Wow!]

I have done what I can, Nature must take care of the rest. Sit and rest. You will be safe and under my protection this night and no harm will come to you. Willow sat down and closed her eyes, the reddish glow slowly faded away.

Several minutes passed before Willows eyes fluttered open, Owww my head! What hit me? Willow asked as she raised an arm to start rubbing her temples.

Relief flooded Dawn as she heard Willows voice, Dont you remember Will?

Remember what? Willow asked puzzled.

The two demons, that bad-ass spell you cast, the lightning. You know the Goddess kicking demon butt!! Dawn said excitedly.

No, I just have a splitting headache and my arm is killing me. Before Willow could say any more they heard screeching tires and then a car door slamming.

WILLOW!!!!! Tara yelled as she ran towards them from the cemetery entrance.

Tara ran up and grabbed Willow into a hug, Youre okay, youre okay, she kept saying softly over and over as she ran her hand softly down Willows hair. I had a dream you were hurt Will

Willow held Tara close, Its okay Tara, really. Willow kissed Tara gently and deepened the kiss. The two lovers were oblivious to everything except each other until Dawn tapped Tara on the shoulder several times.

Uhmm, Tara. Its not that I mind you two kissing, but I can really think of better places for that. Like anywhere but here!

Tara moved back slightly, Later? she asked Willow.

Yes, later, Willow smiled and blushed at the same time. But we should go to the hospital I think, my arm is killing me after whatever happened. And Dawn can fill us both in on what happened on the way there.

<<<<<<>>>>>>

Sunnydale Memorial Hospital
Room 302

Willow, hi! Joyce said with forced cheerfulness.

Willow turned her attention to the doorway where she heard Joyce's voice. Joyce, what are you doing here?

Joyce walked into the room and over by the foot of the bed, I came by to pick Dawn up, and I thought I'd see how you were doing.

Willow looked at Joyce with a cool gaze, I'm fine. Mostly a few bumps and bruises. But otherwise I'm okay.

Joyce heard the withdrawn tone of voice from Willow and winced, I wanted to say thank you for protecting Dawn. I don't know what I would have done...

I wouldn't have let that happen, Dawn's family to me.

Joyce heard the unsaid comment, unlike some in Willow's voice. I'm sorry Willow. Maybe I should have done things differently, I never meant to alienate you or Xander. But I did and I can't change what happened.

Willow shifted in the bed, wincing when she jostled her arm. She shrugged off Joyce as she tried to help her sit up. I can do it myself.

I know you can Willow. Let me help please?

Like you helped right after... Willow trailed off noticing the look on Joyce's face. I'm sorry. I'm just in pain and grouchy.

Joyce sat down in the chair next to the bed. "I realize you're angry with me Willow but we need to talk."

Willow turned her head, staring out the window.

I'm not leaving until we settle this Willow. For Dawn's sake we have to. Maybe I was wrong the way I shut you out. Joyce watched as Willow still refused to look at her. Okay, I was wrong, no maybies. But it was a mistake Willow, and what about you. You shut me out as well and look what's happened Willow, Dawn won't talk to anyone.

Joyce saw Willow flinch with her last words.

Willow turned her head to look at Joyce, Maybe, so what do you think we should do then Joyce.

Talk Willow, that's what. We don't have to be best friends, but we have to work this out somehow for Dawn. She's caught in the middle of our fight and it's not fair to her.

Willow grimaced clutching her arm, as pain radiated through her. Taking a deep breath she glared at the table. She felt a hand on her shoulder.

Willow let me help you up, please.

Sighing, as Willow started to answer Joyce the door opened and Giles walked in.

Willow! Are you all right?

Joyce sighed frustratedly and stepped away from the bed, [Well its a start of sorts I guess. Itll have to do.]

Yes, Im fine Giles, Willow saw Joyce start to move away, Joyce wait! Willow leaned over to the side so she could see Joyce clearly. Stop by the apartment tomorrow, youre right we should talk.

Chapter 15

People diechildren dieeveryone dies,

--John Lee, retired Wei Tong assassin

Mid-February
Outside Auro, France
Somewhere near the border of Germany and France

Damnit Faith! What makes you think you can go into that village and get the supplies? Do you even speak any French? Beth paced back and forth. Stopping suddenly, Id have no problem getting in and out Faith.

Faith looked up at Beth from where she was sitting, B, youd stick out like a sore thumb. Everything about you just screams Im a soldier, look at me, you cant pull it off.

Yes I can Faith

BFirst, you walk, talk and stand like a soldier whichll get you noticed and then arrested. Second, you only know proper French. Before I dropped out of high school I had a friend from Louisiana and what I learned from her wont sound like Im a friggin school teacher or a book B.

Faith stood up and moved over by Beth, B, trust me on this, please. Faith put her hands on Beths shoulders.

The emotions that played on Beths face vanished behind a cold mask as Beth shoved Faiths hands off her, The last time I did that, I ended up a POW, Beth said angrily and walked quickly away from Faith and over by the fire.

[Damn her!] Faith thought angrily.

[Damn her! Cant she see Im afraid for her if she gets captured? ] Beth kicked a small rock into the fire and watched the sparks it made as the rock hit a piece of wood.

Faith walked over by the fire and stood near B. Faith forced herself to swallow the angry reply on her lips, she knew it would only drive Beth away and deeper in her shell. B, Im the only one that can do this. Besides, who else will get my butt out of jail if I get in trouble? Faith teased.

Beth smirked, MaybeI just think its too dangerous and that I should go. I can handle myself, especially if I run into trouble Beth kicked another pebble into the fire. [You dont deserve her you know.] Beths voice nagged her. Angrily she shook her head trying to break those dark thoughts that plagued her.

Faith put her arm over Beths shoulder, Yeah, and youre idea of avoiding trouble needs a little work B. Shoving the barrel of your pistol into someones ear and telling them they have 10 seconds to decide if theyll help you or youll blow their brains out isnt very subtle. You know Im right B.

Yeah, but I dont have to like it though.

No you dont. But Ill be back in a couple of hours B. Faith leaned over and softly kissed Beth on the cheek. Ill see you in a few, and Faith walked out of the camp quickly and towards the town of Auro.

<<<<<<>>>>>>

After checking her snares Beth had found she had caught two rabbits, quickly she killed and cleaned them. Once back at their camp she put them on stakes and started roasting them over the small fire. Suddenly tired, Beth shook her head trying to clear it, but the need for sleep was too much and she laid down on the blankets that made up her bed and quickly fell asleep.

Beth found herself standing by a grave, looking around Beth recognized where she was as the Roselawn Cemetery. At her feet was a headstone with her name on it. [What is going on here? This is a dream, so why am I here?]

Out of the shadows Beth saw Willow walk out and head over towards her, as Beth was about to greet her she saw Willow step into the light. Her throat had been torn out and her clothes were bloody and torn, but what scared her were Willows eyes, they completely black and emotionless.

You failed me Beth, if you were here Id be alive. Said Willow.

Beth turned away, No, this is a dream. Its not real!!

Is it a dream B? asked Faiths voice behind her.

Turning around Beth saw Faith now standing next to Willow. Beth saw the fresh blood covering Faiths jacket from the multiple bullet holes. [No!!! This cant be real, it cant. I wont lose her!]

Where were you when I needed you B? I waited for you, but you never came.

Noooo!!!!! Beth yelled as she shot upright, she felt herself covered in sweat and her heart was racing. [It was only a dream, thats all.] As she wished this nightmare would stop haunting her, and afraid it might come true

<<<<<<>>>>>>

Sunnydale, CA
Beths Grave

The symbols that surrounded and were inscribed around Beths grave glowed a bright, sickly green. Slowly the light faded from them and they disappeared and to anyone looking at the grave nothing seemed out of the ordinary

<<<<<<>>>>>>

Auro, France

Faith walked down the sidewalk, her hands full from the bags she was carrying. Bags that held food, clothing and some extras she thought they needed. It wasnt a lot, but in the last house they had found a small stash of money hidden in the freezer. Faith was just passing the Constables office and stopped suddenly as something caught her eye and she stopped to take a second look.

Turning Faith walked back and looked at the bulletin board she had passed. In the very center was a large piece of paper with Beths picture, most of what was written beneath it Faith couldnt read. But she did see Beths name and a large number $50,000 at the very bottom. Faith pulled the paper loose, folded it and slipped it into her jacket pocket.

[Shit! What can go wrong next?] Faith thought annoyed. Walking towards the outskirts of the city Faith saw several police cars parked in the street and barricades had been put up blocking off the street except for one area where there was a long line. Faith slowed but didnt stop walking, not wanting to call attention to herself. Seeing the closest person she walked over to him, Excusez-moi, ce qui est toute l'excitation vers le haut en avant? *Excuse me, whats all the excitement up ahead?*

Ah, le gouvernement veut s'assurer que chacun a leurs papiers d'identification. Vous savez, des espions et tout cela. *Oh, the government wants to make sure everyone has their ID papers. You know, spies and all that,* the man replied absently. Turning he looked at Faith for several seconds and a frown crossed his face, Je ne me rappelle pas de vous voir avant *I dont remember seeing you before* he asked suspiciously.

Ah, Im pas dautour ici, merci. *Oh, Im not from around here, thank you.* Faith turned to leave quickly and headed back towards a series of side streets she had seen that would get her past this checkpoint.

30 Minutes Later

Faith walked over to the clearing she and Beth had setup their camp earlier. Beth, Faith called out when she didnt see anyone. There was a slight noise behind her, Yes?

Faith jumped as she turned around, startled by the voice behind her. Damnit B, I really wish youd stop that. I hate it when you do that.

Yeah, but its soo much fun to see you jump like that. Beth teased. Besides I gotta stay sharp you know, we cant afford it if I get sloppy. Beths voice turned serious and the smile disappeared from her face.

Faith frowned mentally, disturbed by the quick change in Beths mood. Shed seen Beth get like this over the last few weeks, mostly when Beth beat herself up for being captured and not being good enough. What you get for tonights menu B? Faith asked already knowing the answer to the question and trying to change the subject.

Rabbit. I got two of them cooking now. They should be ready in a few. So whatd you find out and whats with the bags? Beth asked as she walked over to the small fire and turned the 2 spits that held the rabbits over the flames.

Faith moved over by the small fire and sat down on a log, Well the bags are some used clothes I picked up for us. We cant go wearing camos as we stroll through the countryside, and I got us some supplies as well. Some fruit, cheese and other stuff. But we have another problem B.

Beth sat down in front of Faith, Beyond being stuck in a country were at war with, having little money, supplies or a way to get home? Beth asked sarcastically.

Yeah, I was walking past the local police headquarters and I found this. I cant read it though. Faith pulled the folded piece of paper out of her jacket and handed it to Beth.

Beth took the folded paper opening it, and started reading;

Lance Corporal Elizabeth A. Summers aka Beth Summers. Wanted for multiple counts of War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity. Summers oversaw the murder and mass burial of over 100 French POWs. This individual should be considered armed and dangerous. We ask that any loyal citizen of France who sees this person to inform either the local constabulary or garrison. There is a $50,000 franc award for any information leading to the capture or the body of this criminal. Elizabeth Summers was last seen North of Lyon and is also in the company of another woman. This woman is wanted for questioning and a $25,000 franc award for her capture alive is being offered.

Beths features hardened as she finished reading and tossed the paper to the ground. [Damnit!! Its happening all over again.] She stood up suddenly and walked away from the fire and Faith, only stopping at the edge of the clearing.

Faith saw the mixed emotions on Beths face as she read the paper before Beths face went cold and she walked away. Faith got up and walked after Beth and stopped when she saw Beth standing at the edge of the clearing. Slowly Faith made her way towards Beth and stopped a few feet away, B, you going somewhere?

Does it matter? Maybe itd be better if I do. Its happening all over again F. Beth said coldly.

Yeah it does, and its not happening again. You didnt do whatever it was it said on that paper B. Its just a bunch of lies.

Beth turned to face Faith, How do you know Faith? Beth walked over and stopped just in front of Faith, How do you know I didnt do what they said? You dont even know what they accused me of. Beths voice was blank and emotionless.

Faith looked deep into Beths eyes, Cause I know you B, thats all I need to know. As hard as she tried all Faith could see was the pain and fear in Beths eyes. Everything else doesnt matter B.

Beth whirled around, her back towards Faith, Why is it enough? Tears threatened to fall from her eyes and Beth struggled to control them. Why is this happening again Faith?

Faith stepped up close behind Beth and put her arms around her pulling Beth against her, I dont know why theyre doing this. But youre not alone anymore, Im not leaving.

Beth pulled Faiths arms around her tighter as she tried to disappear into Faiths embrace.

Faith felt Beth shudder in her embrace. I've got ya B. No one will every harm you again k?

Beth sniffled looking into Faiths eyes she saw understanding, but most of all she saw trust and love.

==================

Council Chambers

The seven Council members sat seated around the large, circular table.

It has come to my attention that you have allowed the first Slayer to escape you Lord Vaarden, TVaras silkily seductive voice said. And that you have failed in your attempts to re-acquire the dark Slayer or her since you cannot even find either of them. When were you going to inform the Council of this situation?

Vaarden looked over at the Succubus, It wasnt necessary TVaras, since Ive put several things in motion and she will be captured again shortly.

Wasssnt necessssary? Sharas hissed loudly. You do not decide what isss necessssary for usss to know Vaarden!! You oversssteps yoursself!! Sharas scaled fist slammed down on the table and left a deep impression in the stone where her fist hit the table.

No it is not. I have everything under control and I rule this Council and I will decide what information is relevant.

You go to far Vaarden, TVaras said sharply. Sharas is correct, you do not decide what information we will and will not hear. Do you understand me?

Vaarden snorted, Very well TVaras, Sharas. I will watch my step and not withhold any more information. There is a bounty on the Slayers head and she will be dealt with shortly.

Very well Vaarden, but you will keepssses uss informed asss to whatss transspiresss with her capturesss or death. Sharas answered as she gave a small nod towards TVaras. What of our ssspy in the NSA?

Vaarden smiled beneath his hood, He has taken the place of a high-ranking member there and his efforts have succeeded greatly. They are now in complete disarray and will not be bothering us or anyone else for sometime.

And the Hellsssmouth Lord Vaarden, how aresss thingsss moving alongsss there?

Our plans are proceeding as scheduled Sharas. The Hellmouth where it is weakest and the building it is in has been secured, everything will be finished in time.

===================

Los Angeles, CA
Caritas

So Angel, tell me again why we are here instead of at the hotel? Wesley asked as he carried in an armful of books into the bar.

Angel looked up from the book he was searching through and at Wesley, Itll be a lot harder for anyone to eavesdrop on us here than at the hotel. With some minor modifications to Lorns wards around the bar we can be pretty sure no one can listen in on what we need to talk about.

Gunns eyebrows screwed together in confusion, Angel, what are you talking about?

Beths not dead. Angel stated simply.

For several seconds the silence hung in the room before several shocked replies echoed loudly, WHAT!! from Gunn and Wesley.

Shes not dead, which means someone went to a lot of trouble to make us think she was. Angel answered again.

Wesley closed his mouth after picking it up from the floor, Why do you think shes alive? he managed to finally ask.

Because I saw her in a vision, Cordelia answered from her seat at the bar, Beths alive and shes with Faith.

Cordy, Gunn started, how do you know its not another trick by Wolfram & Hart? Theyve done this before.

Cordelia stood up from the bar stool, Because I know, I dont know how I do. I just know that shes alive. Cordelia said angrily.

Gunn saw the fire in Cordys eyes and raised both hands in surrender, Okay, okay. Im just askin.

Wesley stepped near Angel, So who would have the power to pull something like this off Angel? I dont believe even Wolfram & Hart has enough power to be able to do something on this scale.

Angel was quiet as three pairs of eyes watched him for several minutes before he finally replied. His voice was quiet, almost hushed as he spoke; About a 150 years ago I first heard some rumours about a group of demons that were supposedly able to manipulate or control nations from the shadows. Whenever this group was mentioned it was always in quiet whispers, when they were talked about at all. But one thing was certainyou never wanted to have them notice you, it was healthier that way. Even the Master feared them, he let ship their name once. They were called the Black Hand.

The Black Hand? Gunn asked, What, they couldnt come up with something original for a name? Instead of something from a bad Chinese Kung-Fu movie, Gunn joked.

Angel pinned Gunn with a scowl, Not funny Gunn. Were talking about Beths life.

Gunn saw the angry looks from Angel and Cordelia, Sorry, just tryin to lighten things up Cordy.

Do you know anything else about them Angel? Wesley asked, trying to break the tension between in the room.

No, Angel replied.

Oh wait!! Cordelia called out. Theres something else you guys need to know.

Wesley turned to look at Cordelia, What is it?

Cordelia moved over by Angel, When I went down to see Willow, she told me something had happened at Beths grave, they had run into several demons by Beths grave. Cordelia tapped her fingers on the bar as she tried recalling the details. Thats it! Tara said that they were Rylarn demons, but that they were supposed to all be dead though.

Was there anything else Cordy? Angel asked.

No, just some symbols they drew by the grave, but they couldnt figure them out.

All right then. Angel go and see if any of your demon contacts can get you any more information then. Wesley turned to Gunn, Gunn, talk to your crew and see if anything new has been happening. See if there has been any influx of demons or vampires more than usual.

Cordy, come with me. Were going back to the hotel to get some things Ill need to research those symbols and this group. Wesley turned back around and grabbed his coat off the bar, Any questions?? No? Okay then, weve got a lot to do and very little time to do it so lets get busy.

================

Northern France
East of Moselle River

Beth watched Faith move around the camp from her spot in the trees. [Faith, what arent you telling me about when you got me out?] Beth stayed where she was for several more minutes watching Faith before she got up and headed towards her.

Faith! Beth called out as she walked over towards Faith.

Faith looked up from what she was doing as she heard her name and saw Beth walking towards her. B, whats up? Find anything?

No, its clear. But we need to talk, actually I need some answers about the prison. Beth stated simply as she stopped in front of Faith and folded her arms.

Faith saw the serious look on Beths face, [Damn! I really hoped she wouldnt ask me about what happened. And now I gotta give her answers she may not like.] Sighing Faith sat down on the ground, Okay B, shoot. What did you want to know?

Beth sat down in front of Faith cross-legged. Beth could literally feel the waves of anxiety coming off of Faith. I want to know about when you got me out of that hell hole. When I was down there I remember talking to several others from my platoon, did you see any of them?

I only found one other Marine down there B.

Beth leaned forward towards Faith, Was his name Taylor?

Faith closed her eyes before she answered, Yes, Faith answered very softly, it was.

Beths excitement was dimmed as she felt Faiths regret. Frowning Beth looked closely at Faith, Faith, what happened to Taylor? Did he make it out? Beth asked anxiously.

I dont know

What do you mean you dont know!! How can you not know Faith!?!

I told you, I dont know!! Faith yelled back at Beth.

Beth took several deep breaths to slow down and rein her temper back and under control. Im sorry. I shouldnt have snapped at you like that. But I need you to tell me what happened when you were in the prison, I have to know

Getting in was no problem, intel had the place pretty well pegged for what to expect. And the little diversion up above kept them off balance. After I got to the lowest level I headed towards the cell block where I was told Id find Ramirez and found another Marine instead

Beth sat there as she listened to Faith, Wait a minute Faith, you came after Ramirez, not the rest of us?!? How did you know he was there to begin with? Beth asked with a frown.

[Uh oh!] Faith thought quickly. B, I didnt even know you were alive. Control said that that was where their agent was and I was sent to get his agent out, thats it.

Our agent? Beth asked. Who do you work for Faith? Whats going on here? Rams a Marine, not some spook.

Im a spook B, I work for the NSA. And I told you, I was sent to the prison to get Ramirez out. Ramirez or whatever his name really is, works for the NSA. No-one knew about Taylor, you or anyone else there.

Suddenly there was a dangerous glint in Beths eyes. So you would have left us to rot in there Faith?

Faith leaned forward, Dont you get it B?!? You are dead!!! Thats what everyone thinks right now, your Mom, Dawn, Giles, Willow, Taraeveryone knows that youre dead B. They all went to your funeral and cried at your grave!! So no-one was looking for you and no-one was expecting to find you there, especially me!

Beth moved back away from Faith, D-dead? she asked. They think Im dead? Even Mom and Dawn?

Faith scooted forward and moved close to Beth, Yeah B. They all think youre gone.

Beth forced the knowledge of how her mom and Dawn must be hurting down, You said you found another Marine, but not Ram. Who did you find?

Like I said, I found another Marine in one of the last cells, he said his name was Taylor. If it wasnt for him, we wouldnt have gotten out of there. Faith said simply.

Taylor was alive?? Did he make it out? Beth asked concerned.

Faith put her hands on Beths shoulders, she saw the concern in Beths face over this other Marine and her heart sank. He got hit pretty bad B, he stayed behind to keep the guards busy while I got you out. Faith said sadly.

[No, not Taylor!] Beth looked in Faiths eyes, Are you sure hes dead? What if

Faith put her hands on Beths shoulders, Beth no. He didnt make it out. The only way he could get out was back the way I came, and he couldnt walk B. Inside Faith hurt as she realized that Taylor wasnt just another Marine, but someone special to Beth.

Whyd you leave him Faith?? That wasnt part of your mission, saving POWs? Beth asked bitterly.

Thats not it at all B. He knew he wasnt gonna be able to make it out and the guards wouldve heard the gunfire

You still

Faith cut Beth off before she could continue, Damn it B!! Faith yelled. He knew he was dying and he wasnt getting out. He stayed behind so you could get out!! The last thing he asked me was to get you out of there, getting you out was important to him. Damn your stubborn hide!!

Tears coursed down Beths face as she realized Taylor was gone, shed never see him again.

B, dont do something stupid. You getting out of there alive was what he wanted, dont throw away the chance he gave you.

Beth wiped her face and fought to stop the tears. She had clung to the possibility that somehow Taylor had made it out, but that last shred of hope was shattered now and the tears didnt want to stop.

Faith pulled Beth into her arms, Im sorry B, she whispered. Faith held Beth closely as Beth cried for the friend she lost and would never see again.

<<<<<<>>>>>>

Beth had watched Faith for the last hour as she waited for Faith to finish her workout. Faith, Ive tried asking you several times but you keep changing the subject and this time Id like an answer.

Faith stopped her workout and picked up a shirt to dry the sweat off her face. What do you want to know B?

When I woke up a couple of weeks ago, I was butt naked and so where you. Howd I wind up naked in bed with you?

[Aww crap! I was really hoping she just forgot about that.] Faith bit back her frown. Uhmmm, you and me naked Beth? I dont remember that. Faith picked up the clothes on the floor and started walking out of the room. Im gonna take a quick shower B, I stink. Be right back. Quickly she walked to the bathroom and closed the door. [Phew! Dodged that bullet. I really dont want to tell B what happened.]

Faith turned on the water in the shower so it was hot and peeled off her sweaty clothes and dropped them in a heap at her feet. Faith moved the curtain and stepped into the shower and let the hot water run down her back for several minutes and relaxing the muscles in her back. Grabbing a bar of soap she started to lather up a rag and wash the sweat and dirt off.

Beth waited outside the bathroom door for two minutes since she knew Faith liked to stand under the hot water and then walked in. [Im not letting this go, I want to know what happened, because I know something did.] Faith, okay you cant run now, so spill.

Faith heard the door open and then Beths voice, B!! What are you doin in here? Faith pulled the curtain sideways so she could look out.

Beth saw Faith move the curtain and peek out at her. I want some answers Faith. So tell me what happened. Beth noticed the shower curtain was molded against Faiths body and leaving very little to the imagination. Beth felt herself flush as she stared at Faiths body and was glad it was foggy in here from the steam.

B, couldnt you have waited a few minutes? I told you Id answer you when I got back out.

No it couldnt have. Cause you would have found something to sidetrack me.

Faith sighed, Fine, one sec. I wanna wash off the soap, okay? Faith ducked back in the shower and started washing the soap off of her body and out of her hair.

Actually why dont you just answer me while youre there Faith?

Sighing again, Faith saw that B wanted answers and she wasnt going to be able to put her off. Okay then, shoot. Faith said resignedly, not sure that B would like the answers she was going to get.

Howd I wind up in bed with you Faith?

I carried you into the bedroom when you fell and you or cave-you didnt want to sleep alone.

And me winding up naked? My clothes just sorta fell off Faith? Beth asked in a teasing voice.

I think your towel fell off while you were sleeping. You do toss a lot in your sleep ya know.

Uh huh, Beth replied, not quite convinced. And you?

And me what?

And your clothes, howd they wind up thrown on the floor?

Im a messy person, you should know that after all these weeks B. Faith replied cheerily and finished washing up. Sticking her head out from behind the shower curtain, Anything else?

Yeah Faith, just one thing. Beth said with all seriousness. Do you love me?

Huh? Faith said shocked at Beths question.

Beth moved forward and stopped in front of Faith, I said, Do you love me Faith?

Faith stood there for several seconds still shocked at Beths question, Yes Faith said softly, afraid of how Beth would react. She had accepted the fact that Beth would never be her lover, but she could accept being Beths friend and that Beth had forgotten what she had said to her those weeks ago.

Yes? Was that a yes Faith? Beth stared deeply into Faiths brown eyes.

Beth, I love you with all my heart and soul. I know you dont

Beth cut Faith off as she stepped in close and kissed her on the lips. Gently she teased Faiths lips open and let her tongue play with Faiths. Beth let her hand slide down Faith side and behind the shower curtain. Slowly she moved her hand up gently brushing her hand against her stomach and cupped Faiths breast, she brushed her thumb over Faiths nipple as she felt it harden under her touch.

Faith moaned softly into Beths mouth, the feelings Beth were igniting in her were driving her insane. Faith wrapped her arms around Beth and pulled her into the shower and under the warm water.

Beth pulled back slightly as the water ran down her face, I thought you wanted to come out of the shower Faith, besides look at me. Now Im all wet, what are you gonna do about it? Beth teased.

I dont know B, I think those clothes are just gonna have to go. We cant have you getting a cold because of wet clothes now. Faith said huskily.

Well then, by all means Beth replied smiling at her lover.

Faith kneeled down inside the tub and slowly unsnapped Beths jeans and slid them slowly down her legs. Beth stepped out of the jeans clad only in her shirt and panties. Faith started licking the water running down Beths thighs, gently nipping her skin as she moved across Beths legs and towards Beths flat stomach. She could hear Beth moan lightly as she did. Is there something you want B? Faith asked teasing her new-lover. One hand gently ran up and down Beths side while the other teased the back of Beths thighs.

Please Beth whispered huskily.

Faith stood up and then pulled Beths sweatshirt over her head and dropped it with a wet PLOP. My, my, my B, As Faith saw Beth wasnt wearing a shirt or bra underneath. Reaching up with both hands Faith cupped and caressed Beths breasts and felt the nipples harden into points. Leaning down she captured one nipple with her lips and teased it with her tongue before moving to nip and suck the rest of Beths breast. Faiths other hand wasnt idle as it caressed Beths other breast.

Beth arched into Faith, Gods, more pleasedont stop. Beth pleaded. Her body was on fire where Faiths lips touched her.

Faith stopped suddenly and Beth whimpered softly at the loss of Faiths lips on her body, Faith picked Beth up in her arms and captured Beths lips with her own. Stepping out of the shower Faith moved to the bathroom door and opened it. Moving quickly she walked across the hall to her bedroom, lying Beth on the bed, Faith kicked the bedroom door closed and walked back join her lover.

<<<<<<>>>>>>

The Next Morning.

Beth rolled over and looked at Faith who was lying down with her eyes closed and pretending to be sleeping. There were still some things she didnt understand about Ramirez or why the Corps just wrote her and the platoon off Faith, Ive been thinking,

Faith opened one eye and looked at Beth, Can you think later B, Im trying to sleep here. Faith closed her eye and tried to ignore Beth.

Faith, youve been awake for the last hour and like I said, Ive been thinking. We need to head back, going North isnt getting us anywhere,

Faith sighed and opened her eyes looking at Beth. Comeon B. You gotta be kidding, you wanna head back into the middle of a war zone?? How are we gonna avoid getting shot by the Marines or the French?

Im serious Faith, weve got a better chance surviving this if we go back. At least this way were not on the run from everyone.

Faith looked at Beth dubiously, Riiight B. Faith said sarcastically.

Beth propped herself up on one arm, Faith, we cant run forever and going this way has gotten us nowhere so far.

Faith looked at Beths version of Resolve Face and tried not to laugh. So how are gonna avoid being shot by our side B? Faith asked. Faith asked. She didnt want to head south. She knew that if Beth went back to the Marines shed never see her again. And she didnt want that. After Faith had found out that Beth was dead she had realized that her whole life never meant a thing until she met B. And a few months ago seeing Beth the way she was...Faith shook her head. She couldnt lose Beth again.

Beth smiled confidently, Trust me.

Faith put a smile on her face, Okay B, South it is then. As she felt someone had grabbed her heart and squeezed it dry. Faith knew if she tried to stop Beth from going back she'd lose her, the Marines were her family. As much as she loved Beth, Faith knew that Beth didn't feel the same way towards her. Not when Beth realized the mistake she made in the shower yesterday. [Why would B want to stay with someone like her, a liar and a murderer] Faith thought morosely. [She doesn't love me, she can't. I don't know why I'm trying to fool myself about last night. I was just a good fuck, that's it. People like me aren't meant to get second chances.]

Beth stood up and crossed over to the window looking down at the town lying in shattered ruins below her. Im not worried about the Marines. If they pick us up its okay, we can just let them take us in. We just have to watch out for the hueys. Theyll be our main concern. She turned back towards Faith. We should head South towards the Loire River. Once we hit the river well be about 250 klicks from Bordeaux. Thats were the Corps will be. She smiled at Faith. So we head South.

Faith stood. Yeah B, south and the Corps. She grabbed her clothes from a chair. I'm taking a shower. Faith turned back towards Beth, Preferably alone.

<<<<<<>>>>>>

1 Week Later.

Beth stopped at the top of the rise and looked around. Most of the countryside seemed empty and peaceful, which was shattered by the sudden sound of gunfire. [Hey! Thats an M249 SAW!!] Beth pulled the M4 Assault Rifle off her shoulder and started jogging towards the fire-fight up ahead.

Beth slowed and about halfway up the hill she dropped to her knees and started crawling. She heard the gunfire ricocheting from the other side of the hill. Reaching the top Beth pulled out the binoculars and looked down into the small valley stretched out below.

As she looked below Beth saw what looked like about 12 Marines, some of them wounded, moving back towards a barn. Moving her head Beth saw about a platoon of hueys moving slowly forward towards the Marines as they pulled back and into the barn.

Beth watched as the hueys stopped advancing suddenly and took up positions to block the Marines from escaping the barn, [Huh? What are they doing?] Beth thought puzzeldly. Beth shifted her position so she could see behind the barn, where Beth saw another platoon of hueys positioned behind the barn. [Shit, theyve got them pinned inside. Ive gotta warn them.]

Beth started to move when she heard someone moving behind her, whirling around Beth saw Faith as she crawled over to her.

Going somewhere B? Faith asked, not really expecting an answer.

Yeah, down there. Beth pointed towards the barn, Theres some Marines trapped and I gotta help them.

Damnit B, you were supposed to be scouting ahead so we can avoid the French Army, not fight them!

Beth looked at Faith angrily. Faith, we cant leave them. Those are Marines down there!!

Do you know them? No. And we cant just rush down there and get killed either B! Theres only two of us, what difference are we gonna make against all of them?!? Anger coloured Faiths features.

I dont have to know them, theyre Marines, that makes them a part of me. Theyre family Faith. Beth replied just as angrily.

Fine, you got any ideas on how to get them out, cause I dont.

Well neither do I but I have to do something Beth watched as Faith started to move around her towards an outcropping of several large boulders 10 feet away, when Beth heard the shrill whistle of incoming artillery. Beth leaped forward and tackled Faith, knocking her to the ground and covering her. Seconds later there was a large explosion behind the barn the Marines were in.

Looking over Beth realized what was going on, the hueys had forced the Marines into the barn so they could drop an artillery barrage on them. After what seemed like an eternity, but was only seconds, came the scream of more incoming artillery rounds. Beth covered her head and the ground shook over and over with the impact from the artillery.

When it finally stopped Beth and Faith looked up and over at the barn, except it was gone now. Destroyed and burning, except for small sections that were still standing. Beth pulled the binoculars out of her pocket and saw the huey's were pulling out. She waited until they were out of sight and quickly headed down the hill towards the burned out barn.

Faith watched Beth descend the hill. Sighing she grabbed her weapon and raced down after Beths retreating back

Faith watched Beth as she raced down the hill towards the barn, before she started to make her way down the hill as well.

Beth carefully moved into the barn keeping a tight hold on her weapon and staying as hidden as she could. The first bodies she saw caused her to gag. The bodies twisted and smoldering flaps of skin hanging off. She forced herself to take a deep breath. [Get it together Summers. This isn't the first time you've seen this] Turning away she moved on looking for any survivors. Beth heard a low moan and moved toward the sound. She found a Marine pinned on his stomach by a large pile of fallen lumber. She shouldered her M4 and knelt down in front of the Marine him.

Im gonna get you out of there in just. Beth had been looking for a beam to use to pry the lumber off when she heard the sound of a pistol being cocked. Shit. Beth muttered, turning her head back she saw the Marine had managed to pull out his sidearm and it was pointed at her face.

Slowly Beth raised her hands and kept them in his view.

Okay Frenchie, since you speak English this is how were gonna do things. Youre gonna take that rifle off your back nice and slow and throw it over in the corner. Then you're gonna get me out from under this, the Marine said, blood dripped down his temple and into his eye but he kept his gaze steady. His eyes were ice cold. Got me?

Listen here Private, Im not a damn huey. Im a Marine just like you, so get the gun out of my face.

The Marines eyes never wavered from her face, Bullshit. Now do what I told you before I put a bullet between your eyes.

Faith stepped into the remains of the barn and saw one of the Marines holding a gun on Beth. Quietly she moved forward and got behind the Marine before she poked him in the back of the head with the muzzle of her rifle. Somehow I dont think youre going to be putting a bullet anywhere. Drop the gun or I kill you. Understand me? Faith growled.

The Marine craned his neck as he turned to look and saw the tall, dark-haired woman with the rifle standing behind him. Turning his head back, he dropped the pistol and put his hands behind his head. Fine.

Beth grabbed the pistol and put it in the waistband of her pants. Thanks Faith.

Faith walked around the Marine, Okay B, we found one. Now I guess you want us to free him.

That is why were down here Faith, Beth frowned. The two of us should be able to get these off of him. Marine, you got a name?

Stansfield, M. Private. US Marine Corps

Good. Stansfield, stay still while we get those timbers off you. Beth replied, cutting Stansfield off before he could continue. Several minutes later Beth and Faith had managed to move most of the wood off and were using a lever to raise the last piece of wood up.

Can you slide out? Beth asked as she watched the Marine pull himself free from under the timber. She and Faith let it drop with a loud THUD!

Beth watched as Stansfield pulled himself up against a beam and sat up.

Stansfield tore a piece of cloth loose and held it where he was bleeding from his scalp. Alright, whats going on here. Youre not hueys cause they dont let women in the army, so who are you? Stansfield asked warily.

Beth crouched down in front of the Marine. My names Beth Summers, Lance Corporal. USMC. And until a month ago, I was a POW.

The Marine looked at Beth for a second then something almost hidden past over his features. He nodded his towards Faith. She aint no Marine.

Beth nodded at Faith who backed away to give them a room. No she's not a Marine. But she's the reason I'm alive today. Beth shuddered at the memories threatening to take over. She looked down at the Marine. You got a unit?

Beth watched as Stansfield paused before answering warily, 3rd Batt/3rd MarReg. You?

2nd Batt/4th Marines. The 3rd wasnt here for Thunderbolt.

Stansfield shook his head no.

Thats when I got captured by the hueys. What are you doing this far North? Have we pushed up this far? Beth asked curious.

Stansfield looked around for the other woman and saw her about 10 feet away and facing away from them, Not really. Why havent you reported back in? You escaped so why are you up here and not back with your unit? Stansfield asked suspiciously.

I was in pretty bad shape when Faith got me out, she took care of me and nursed me back to health while we dodged huey patrols, a small smile lit Beths face as she said Faiths name. And the patrols were lighter up north thats how we ended up here.

I can bet she took real good care of you Summers, especially while she pumped you for everything you know. Stansfield replied with an angry look.

As the implication Stansfield made struck her, Beth backhanded Stansfield knocking him backwards and leapt onto his chest. Her knees dug into his shoulders pinning him to the ground. Beth saw red and swung her fist downward, she felt someone grab her arm, stopping it short of Stansfields' face.

Whipping her head around to see who stopped her, she heard someone call her name, Beth!! Beths eyes fell on Faith who was behind her holding her arm, Beth, don't Beth continued to glare at Faith for several seconds before she recognition set in. Looking back, Beth saw one hand wrapped around the Marine's neck and the other poised to swing. Slowly she drew her arm back and unclenched her fist from around his throat. Beth stood up and started to back away, fear taking tight hold on her heart as she realized she would have killed the Marine.

Faith looked down at the Marine and pinned him with a cold gaze, Move or open your mouth and I will finish what she started.

Faith, I Beth stammered.

Faith walked over and pulled Beth into her arms, holding her close and gently rubbing her back, Shhhh, its okay.

Beth could feel the tension slowly ebb away as she held Faith close. After several minutes Beth moved back slightly and looked at Faith, What if

Beth saw Faith look down into her eyes, No what ifs B. You didnt and thats all that matters. Faith replied.

Ahem, not to break up this little love-fest you two have going Stansfield asked roughly.

Faith pulled roughly away from Beth. You little shit. She saved your life. She kicked him in the stomach, causing him to double over and then kicked him in the head knocking flat onto his back.

Stansfield straightened up, She's a whore... wiping the blood from his mouth, he looked Beth straight in the eyes. ...and a disgrace to the Marine uniform.

Beth could feel the waves of anger from both of them washing over her and making her head pound from the intensity. Closing her eyes Beth struggled as she tried to block out everything. STOP IT!!! BOTH OF YOU!!! Beth screamed as she held her head and fell to her knees, the pain from their anger was overwhelming her.

Faith was by Beths side instantly, her anger with Stansfield gone. B? Whats wrong? concern colored her voice.

Beth stayed silent, unwilling to say anything as the pain slowly subsided. With Faith right next to her Beth could feel Faiths concern, worry and love. Finally Beth was able to block everything to the point where she barely noticed it other than the headache she now had, Yeah Im better. Beth hedged, not wanting to talk in front of Stansfield.

Faith frowned as she looked at Beth, Are you sure B?

Yeah Beth replied as she slowly stood up. We need to finish checking Faith. If he survived there might be others.

Ill Faith started to say.

No. You stay with him, Ill go look around. Beth saw Faith hesitate. Please Faith.

Beth saw Faith nod and move over to the Marine. The headaches had been getting worse the last few days, the more people they saw, the worse the pain in her head. Sometimes it took all she had to block out their emotions from overwhelming herPushing these thoughts to the back burner in her mind, Beth concentrated on looking for any more survivors.

Just as she was about to go back to Faith she heard a low moan. Looking around slowly Beth found two Marines; both were alive. Faith!! Over here, two more.

Beth was helping the second Marine to his feet when his eyes opened wide and he shoved her aside. As Beth fell she saw the Marines head explode in a cloud of red mist and bone.

Faith heard the loud CRACK of a gunshot and turned to see Beth lying on the ground. Running towards her, Faith saw Beth was covered in blood and brain matter, the Marine at her feet was missing half his head.

B, you okay? Faith asked, ducking as bullets flew by her. She squinted for a second and saw Beths head move. In a flash Beth was up and behind several fallen timbers, taking her M4 with her. Leaning over Beth fired a long burst and ducked down in time to avoid several bullets that struck the wood she was hiding behind.

Faith crawled over by Beth, Wheres the other one? Faith asked.

Beth pointed to her left where the other Marine, Kelly, was hunched down behind some fallen wood. Wheres Stansfield? Beth asked.

I left him back there when I heard the gunfire. Any ideas whos shooting at us? Faith asked as more bullets started peppering the wood they were behind. Okay, lets worry about that later. Lets get out of here first and figure that out afterwards.

Beth popped up and fired several short bursts and ducked back down, Sounds like a plan to me and no I dont know whos shooting. Beth pulled out the empty clip from the M4 and popped a fresh one in. You got any ideas? Beth asked as she fired a quick burst.

Faith fired a quick burst and dropped back down, Not really B.

Beth heard the heavy recoil from a MG and pulled Faith down flat against the ground as splinters flew all around them as the timbers they were behind shuddered under the heavy impacts and were chewed up. Beth took one look at what was left of their protection wasnt going to last. Faith, when I fire get moving back to where we came in.

What about you? Im not leaving you behind B.

And Im not staying, Ill be right behind you. Now get ready. Beth got up on her knees and started firing short bursts, Faith, GO!! Beth called out to the Marine Kelly!! and tossed her Browning 9mm over to him.

Pulling a grenade out Beth pulled the pin and threw it where she saw some weapons flashes and dropped back down. There was an explosion and the fire seemed to lighten up. Beth used hand signals to tell Kelly to fall back, for several seconds Kelly hesitated and then signaled back Ok. Beth watched as he crawled back towards the entrance they first came in.

Suddenly the gunfire intensified, bullets flew all around chewing up the wood. Staying as close to the ground as she could get Beth covered her head to protect it from the splinters of wood flying around. [Jesus!!] Beth thought worriedly, [I gotta get the hell out of here!]

Beth waited until the gunfire started to slack off and pulled out the cylinder-shaped grenade, pulled the pin and threw it 15 feet in front. There was a hissing sound as orange smoke billowed out of the grenade filling the air and blocking the hueys line of sight. Jumping to her feet Beth ran as fast as she could out of the barn and towards where she knew Faith would be.

A hail of bullets flew thru the smoke and tore up the space Beth had just vacated, the timbers splintered and broke under the heavy fire.

<<<<<<>>>>>>

Sunnydale, CA
157 Briar Drive
1:13 AM

Thomas Nox stepped out of his dark blue, 2002 Lincoln TownCar and headed towards his house. As he got to the front door he pulled out the keys.

District Attorney Thomas Nox? came a cultured voice with a slight British accent from behind him. Whirling around, Nox frantically looked for the speaker, but all he could see were shadows. Whos there? Nox asked nervously.

You might call me a fan of your work Mr. Nox.

Nox relaxed slightly as this wasnt a call from his loan shark. A figure stepped out of the deep shadows about 10 feet away from him and stopped. The light from the street light didnt let him see the figures face clearly since it was behind them, Nox could only see that the figure was dressed in dark clothing. So what is it that you want?

The figure seemed to smile cruelly, Why to congratulate you of course. You are the new District Attorney are you not? Something you couldnt have done with your conviction of the criminal Elizabeth Summers and your strong anti-crime platform. Of which she was the centerpiece of your platform, wasnt she. Without her and the certain backers such as Wolfram & Hart you would never have been elected DA.

Uhmmm, yes. Well she did kill Deputy Mayor Finch. I really must go, uhmm thanks. Nox turned his back on the figure and fumbled with the keys to the house. A hard blow slammed him against the front door and Nox dropped his keys as he was held in place against the door.

Somehow I dont think so Mr. Nox, Ripper answered. We have a few things to discuss first. Ripper pulled Noxs left arm back and up. Shoving a rag in Noxs mouth he held it there and with a practiced move he broke Noxs pinky. A grim smile on face as he listened to Noxs muffled cry of pain. Now that I have your attention Nox, lets talk.

The rag was pulled from Noxs mouth so he could speak, W-what do you want? I have cash, jewels and I know people who... the rag was stuffed back in Noxs mouth.

Do be silent and listen. I really dont have time to listen to your pathetic whining this evening, and if you insist on begging Ill break another finger. Do you understand me? If you do then nod, Ripper watched as Nox nodded emphatically.

Tomorrow morning you are going to go to work as normal, and once there you will write a letter of resignation citing personal health problems as the reason for your immediate resignation. Ripper said cheerfully.

Nox felt the rag pulled from his mouth again, But people will as the rag was violently thrust back into his mouth he felt a sharp blinding pain in his hand as his forefinger was broken. Tears welled in his eyes and fell down Noxs face.

You havent been listening to me Nox, I didnt ask you to think. Im telling you what youre going to do. Period. Do you remember Officer Johannsen and his unfortunate accident? Ripper watched with satisfaction as Nox nodded with fear in his eyes. Good. Now you can either ignore what Im telling you, in which case I will destroy you publicly by anonymously having proof of the dirty money in your Cayman bank accounts sent to every major newspaper and the FBI. Or you can do the smart thing, which is to resign and disappear from here and never return. Personally I dont care which.

The rag was pulled from his mouth again, Ill go, just dont hurt me anymore!! Suddenly Nox felt the weight move off him, turning slowly Nox looked around but didnt see anything or anyone. Bending over he grabbed his keys and fumbled until he managed to unlock and open the door.

Stumbling inside Nox slammed the door shut and got the door locked. [First thing Im calling an ambulance, then Im calling Lilah and telling her to forget our deal. I dont know who that was, but Im not gonna call him on his threat. Im getting out while the getting is good.]

Nox reached for the phone and started dialing

Chapter 16

Headhunters nimrod! They dont hunt alone. Were you always this stupid or did you take lessons??

-Charlie Baltimore, CIA Assassin

Faith waited impatiently as she saw the orange smoke spreading out, but there was still no sign of Beth. <Shit! Damnit B! What the hell are you waiting for?? Get the hell out of there!!> Just as Faith was going to head back in to get Beth, when out of the smoke Faith saw Beth run out and stumble, falling to the ground hard. Jumping up from where she had been crouched, Faith ran over to Beth and dropped her rifle next to her as she reached out to turn her over and see if she had been wounded.

Beth had felt her boot catch something as she ran out of the ruins and sent her sprawling onto some rocks on the ground, knocking the air out of her. As she fought to get her breath back, Beth felt a pair of hands touch her shoulders. Immediately Beth knew it was Faith, she could feel the distinct emotional flavor that could only be Faith. Turning onto her side Beth got back to her feet.

Wheres Kelly? Beth asked.

He didnt make it B.

What are you talking about? anger colored Beths voice.

B, we dont have time for this. Hes probably dead and we have to get out of here, now! Faith grabbed Beths arm and started to pull her away from the building when Faith felt Beth pull her arm free of her.

No! We dont leave our people behind Beth started to turn around to go back into the barn when she felt Faith grab her shoulder and hold her.

Beth, we cant go back for him. If we do well be killed. Hes dead and theres nothing we can do, so come on lets go!

Beth turned to look at Faith, Faith, hes a fellow Marine. I cant just leave. You go and well catch up with you. Beth turned her back on Faith and started to move back towards the ruined barn, she could see the smoke was already dissipating.

Im sorry B. Faith whispered as she suddenly lunged towards Beth and wrapped one arm around Beths throat in a choke hold, cutting off her air. Faith held on tightly as she felt Beth struggle to free herself, but quickly her struggling slowed and then stopped. <Im not going to let you get yourself killed going after a dead man> Faith gently let go and checked Beths pulse before she hoisted Beth onto her shoulder in a firemans carry, leaning down she picked up the rifle Beth dropped in her struggle and then headed quickly up and over the ridge.

Away from the death and carnage.

*************************

Leaning back Faith rested against the tree as she waited for Beth to wake up. <This is gonna be ugly Faith. Bs not gonna be a happy camper when she wakes up.> <Not gonna be happy? Thats the understatement of the year.> Faiths little inner voice nagged her.

<Well what was I gonna do? Leave her so she could get killed?> Faith asked her voice back. But no response came. Thats the problem with having an argument with yourself, youre never gonna win. Faith muttered as she looked over at Beths still form lying a few feet away.

Her patience was rewarded though as Faith heard Beth moan softly and start to move. <Here we go...>

As Faith moved closer, Beth couldn't tell which was worse; the headache she woke up with or the pounding waves of worry she could feel coming from Faith. But when Faith put her arm around her, Beth felt the tension ease and the headache start to subside making it almost manageable.

I'm here B, Faith said as she put her arm around Beth and pulled her close against her chest.

Beth leaned back into the Faith's warm embrace and close her eyes, letting the warm feeling of safety wash over her and take away the pain in her head. After several minutes Beth leaned forward slightly, What happened Faith? The last thing I remember was someone grabbing me from behind and that's it.

Why don't we start before then B. What happened to you in the barn?

I don't know what you're talking about Faith, Beth answered defensively.

Faith felt Beth tense up in her arms. B you promised you'd tell me why you suddenly screamed in pain and almost collapsed. Faith gently rubbed Beth's neck and back as she worked to get Beth to relax.

Beth felt Faith's hands massaging her back and started to relax some before sighing nervously, I'm not sure Faith, and it's kind of hard to explain...

B, you can tell me anything. Don't you know this by now?

I..I feel things,

Faith's brow creased in confusion, You feel things B?

Yeah, like right now. I can literally feel your confusion beating on my skin, sorta like I was standing in the water and you could feel the water brushing against your skin. Beth sighed loudly this time and turned around in Faith's arms, facing her. I don't know how to really explain it

Faith saw the confusion and fear in Beth's eyes. Pushing her own uncertainty aside, So you can feel someone's emotions then, like an empath?

An em-what? Beth asked not understanding.

An empath B, it's someone who can feel the emotions of other people around them.

Let me guess..Star Trek right? Beth asked with small smirk.

Ha ha B. But seriously though, is that it?

I don't know, when I was a little girl I'd get little hunches or feelings when I talked to people. When I was five or six I told my Dad about it, he looked at me like I was a freak and he told me if I didn't stop imagining things like that I'd get sent to a hospital for crazy people. Beth flinched as the scene played itself out in her mind.

Faith stayed silent not wanting to interrupt Beth, it was something Faith had the feeling that Beth needed to get out so she just waited for her to continue.

After that a little while later it seemed to go away, until you got me out of there and it came back again. Pretty soon it got to the point where I'd feel how you were feeling right when I was nearby, sometimes I didn't even need to turn around to see you were behind me.

Tell me what it's like when you feel someone's emotions. Faith asked.

Beth closed her eyes and leaned into Faith's arms, snuggling close. It's weird really. It's like standing in the middle of a rain shower nude,

Naked B? Faith interrupted.

Yeah naked, cause you can feel it all over your skin. It's sorta like when you're angry, I can feel it beat hard against my skin like little, sharp pinpricks all over or when you're happy it's like feeling something soft brush across my skin that... The image of when she had made love to Faith flashed thru Beth's mind suddenly and Beth blushed a deep red as she remembered how she had actually felt Faith's passion that night...

Remembered something nice B? Faith teased as she noticed Beth blushing.

Mostly though it's confusing, sometimes it gets to the point where it's hard to tell what I'm feeling from someone else. Other times it hurts...

Why didn't you tell me before now? Faith asked, hurt at being shut out.

What was I going to say Faith..

Faith was quiet as she thought about what Beth had just told her.

Beth pulled herself out of Faith's arms and stood up, turning Beth looked down at Faith, "See, that's why I didn't tell you Faith. I can feel you pulling away and shutting me out." Furious with herself for opening up, Beth turned and started to walk away.

"Stop right there B!!" Faith stood up and moved so she was next to Beth. "I wasn't pulling away from you, but I was thinking. Why are you so damn moody? You're like a friggin light switch, one minute you're fine and the next minute you're pissed off!"

Beth could feel Faith's anger slam into her and she winced as it washed over her. <I don't know what's worse that fact that she's right and I'm wrong...>

Turning to look at Faith, "I lose all control around you, that's what!!"

Her anger suddenly drained away, "What are you talking about B?"

"Sometimes when I'm with you I feel myself slipping away in all your emotions and I can't tell where 'me' is. All the carefully built barriers I've put up to block everything out just crumbles and I'm scared Faith. I'm scared that I won't be able to tell who's me anymore."

Faith wrapped her arms around Beth and held her close as she felt Beth shake and cry in her arms.

=======================

The Magic Box

Willow, are you sure about this? Tara asked worriedly. I dont think we should try

Willow looked up from the book she was reading with an annoyed/angry look on her face, Yes Im sure Tara. Weve researched this for the last three weeks and we know what the glyphs on Beths grave are for. This spell I found should be able to break them.

Tara walked over to Willow, Will, thats not the point. We still dont know exactly what else theyre doing or what will happen when we break the spell or how it could affect Beth

Willow angrily slammed the book shut, And want do you want to do Tara. Wait? Iveweve done that and I found what I need to break the spell and help Beth.

Willow the spell youre using is black magic

Willow stood up and walked away from the table and over to the counter where the herbs she needed for the counter-spell. Grabbing them she dropped them in a worn leather bag, Tara this is not open for discussion. Weve gone over this and Ive made up my mind. Im doing the spell tonight with the full moon out. Now I can do the spell with or without your help. Im going to the cemetery and get set up. Willow walked back over to Tara with the bag slung over her shoulder, gently Willow cupped Taras cheek and softened her voice, I hope youll help me, but Ill understand if you dont come. This is something I need to do to help Beth. Willow walked quickly out of the Magic Box and towards the cemetery.

Tara sighed softly after she heard the front door close. <Its going to be a long night> she thought morosely.

<<<<<<>>>>>>

Faith sat on the ground leaning against a tree, Beth was lying between her legs and had wrapped herself around Faith's body. <No wonder she's been moody,> Faith thought as she softly rubbed her hand in circles on Beth's back.

Beth slowly drifted awake and opened her eyes, beneath her Beth could feel Faith's warm body and soft curves bringing a smile to Beths face. "Hi there,"

Faith felt Beth stir and looked down to see Beth looking back up at her with large smile. "Hi. Sleep well?"

"Yep, best sleep I've had in a while. Thanks for being my pillow."

"That's what friends are for B."

Sitting up with a frown on her face, "Are we friends Faith?"

"I'd like to think so after everything we've been through." Faith replied cautiously, not sure where this conversation was going.

Beth's gaze turned inward, "Sometimes I'm not sure...I'm not even sure who I am anymore. Am I Buffy Summers? Or am I the Slayer? Or am I Elizabeth Summers the US Marine?"

"How about just being Beth?"

"What do you mean Faith?" A confused look filled Beth's face.

"Simple, just stop worrying about the lables. Slayer, Marine, none of them matter..."

"So I should just forget the oaths I took when I joined the Marines, just forget about the Corps?!" The confusion on Beth's face gave way to anger. "I should just throw them away since I don't need them anymore? How can you even suggest that?!?" Beth stood up suddenly.

"What are you talking about?! That's not even what I said B!!" Faith yelled back angrily as she got up off the ground.

"I'm out of here!!" Beth yelled as she walked angrily out of their camp.

"Fine!!"

"Fine!!"

<<<<<<>>>>>>

Roselawn Cemetery

10:30PM PST

Willow arrived at the Roselawn cemetery just as the sun was setting and made her way over towards Beths grave. Willow dropped the bag near the headstone and walked around the grave clockwise once, stopping at the foot of the grave. Moving her coat out of the way Willow drew the athame out of the knife sheath at her hip and proceeded to draw a circle in the ground around the entire grave and the symbols she could now see. Stopping, Willow left a small window in the circle and stepped inside before she completed the circle and closed it.

Kneeling down Willow closed her eyes and focused her mind on what she had to do next. She pulled out some herbs from the bag, chanting softly she threw the herbs around her until the bag was empty. <That should keep anyone from seeing me if they are scrying.> Willow reached down and grabbed the athame off the ground and started drawing symbols on the inside edge of the circle she had marked with the dagger.

A little while later Willow finished the last symbol as sweat ran down her face. <Goddess Im tired> She leaned back against the headstone and closed her eyes. She had several hours till the moon rose to its zenith and shed need all her energy for the spell.

Willow opened her eyes as her internal clock went off and she woke up. Looking up at the sky Willow could see the moon, <Its almost time.> Reaching over Willow grabbed the bag and pulled it closer, as she opened it she reached in and pulled out a medium-sized, black jar, obsidian dagger, a golden eagles feather and several sticks of incense.

Willow took several sticks of the incense and stuck them in the ground in front of her. Reaching in her pocket she pulled out a lighter and lit them. Breathing in the fumes from the incense Willow steeled herself for what she had to do next. Reaching down with her left hand Willow grabbed the black jar and opened it, inside she could see the still-beating rabbits heart. Turning the jar over the heart fell out and into her hand below.

Willow placed the jar to the side and then took the heart in both hands and raised it above her head, Upuaut!! Guardian and Keeper of the Hidden Ways hear me!!! Anakh tal ah inta yi-ada ba!!! I call upon you to unlock that which is hidden from my sight, let me see that which I seek! Sateh vah-boku ra-ekh! Rashi mu lakashka, hutashi ma delwakty inya!! M Him- set-na! M HIM- SET-NA!!! The sky darkened and Willow heard a loud rumble of thunder above her. Lowering her hands Willow picked up the eagle feather and covered the tip of it in rabbits blood. With the feather Willow drew the sacred symbols on her cheeks and forehead. As she finished, lightning light up the sky and thunder roared. Carefully Willow put the heart and feather down and picked up the black jar and brought it level with her eyes. For what I ask of you I give you the heart of an innocent and sacrifice my blood-innocence to you for that which I require. Anakh ge ha yo! Yi-cda b! Ana tal-h inta Gekh-hami. Bringing the jar to her lips Willow tipped it forward and swallowed the thick, warm liquid that filled her mouth. The taste almost made her want to gag, but steeling herself Willow swallowed all of it.

A darkness settled inside of her stomach and her sight went black. Taking several breaths Willow opened her eyes, and saw the shield and just inside the circle were the glyphs which were clear to her now. Shooting from the glyphs Willow could see how they formed a complex web around Beths grave and she understood how she could break them.

A wave of dizziness washed over her and she fell back against the headstone as she struggled to get her balance and strength back. Closing her eyes she concentrated on tapping her reserves of energy, she had to finish this now. She knew she couldnt go through this again.

Willow dropped the jar and reached down to grasp the obsidian dagger. With one swift move Willow slashed her left hand diagonally. Grabbing the knife with her bloody hand Willow repeated the action on her other hand and dropped the knife. Squeezing her hands so the blood ran down her arms and onto the ground Willow looked up at the sky, Maat!! In my time of need I call you. At the moment of my death I will honor you!! Hear me! You who are Truth and Order in the Universe come to my aid now, Chaos has taken up here and corrupted this hallowed ground. Break this evil that surrounds me and free Elizabeth Summers from the deceit that covers her now!!

Willow saw her vision start to tunnel and go gray as she fell on her back, fighting to stay conscious she used her last burst of energy to pull herself up. There was a deafening clap of thunder and a blinding flash of light that blinded her and threw her down, the last thing Willow saw was her shield surrounding her shattering. <No!! I cant falter now, the spells not complete> were Willows last thought before the darkness claimed her.

******************

Northern France

At the same time

Her lungs were burning as Beth came to a stop and her breath ragged. Tears leaked down from her eyes, her hands were clenched into fists at her side as she fought to stop the feeling that her heart had been ripped out. The argument with Faith continued to replay itself in her mind, and each time Beth could hear the angry/spiteful things she had said. <Stupid! Stupid!! What is wrong with me lately?? I cant seem to say anything without hurting her.> Beth berated herself as she angrily wiped the tears from her face. From behind her she heard a voice.

Well, well Slayer, feeling sorry for yourself? the voice asked mockingly.

Whirling around Beth saw a group of ten large, winged, red-skinned demons. The leader stood only a few feet away and was easily over 7 feet tall and heavily muscled. Beth watched as the demon casually held a large broad sword in one hand.

Tilting her head slightly to the left, Beth put on a cocky smile. And what are you? Rejects from the movie Legend? Beth watched as the demon roared in anger and swung the sword at her. Leaping high over the whistling blade that slashed where she had been standing Beth landed on the blade trapping it and nailed the demon with a quick forward snap-kick to its head knocking it back and stunning it. Reaching down with her left hand, Beth grabbed the sword up by the blade and felt the edge slice into her hand.

Before Beth could take advantage of the demon she had to jump back to avoid two blades from the demons companions who charged at her.

Raising his clawed hand Lucidan halted his companions, The first blow goes to you Slayer reaching behind he pulled the massive two-handed sword loose from the scabbard on his back and his companions slowly spread out in a half-circle in front of him, surrounding their prey.

Quickly Beth pulled the bandana from her neck and wrapped it around her bleeding hand as she held the sword in her right hand. Experimentally Beth twirled the sword in her hand, noticing the lightness of the blade and smiled grimly.

<Aw shit!> as Beth saw the demons spread out to surround her. Reaching to the small of her back, in one swift move Beth pulled the dagger out and threw it at the nearest demon to her. She had the satisfaction of seeing it sink to the hilt into one of the demons eye that was charging her and see it fall before she had to fall back, parrying the attacks from the other demons.

<<<<<<>>>>>>

Her clothes torn and bloody, Beth stumbled back several steps as she fought to keep herself from falling, there wasnt a place on her body that didnt hurt. Blood dripped down the side of Beths face and into her eye, with her free hand Beth wiped the blood out of her eye, wincing at the pain that shot down her arm as she moved it.

Shed killed seven of the demons attacking her, but there was still three left; the leader who stayed back and the two remaining demon-soldiers. But the others hadnt gone down easily, Beth knew she had been cut up badly, the worst of which was a deep slice that had cut her left arm open from her shoulder to her elbow, <I cant keep this up, Ive lost too much blood. If this goes on too much longer Im gonna pass out.>

Out of the corner of her eye, Beth had a glimpse of movement and pivoted to her left and raising the sword with both hands to parry the blow from the demons sudden attack. The impact from the demons blade knocked Beth down onto one knee and from behind her Beth heard running footsteps. Waiting until almost the last moment Beth rolled to her left, a sword cleaved the ground where she had been a moment ago. Coming up onto one knee Beth dropped the sword and drew the M9 9mm Beretta out of the holster on her hip, firing five times at the closest demon. Beth saw three rounds catch the demon high in the chest and the fourth round go in one eye and blow the back of its head off. Beth watched the demon as it collapsed and wasnt going to get up when she turned her attention to the other demon. The other demon hesitated for a moment as it watched its comrade fall before charging her.

Beth emptied the rest of the clip into the demon and it collapsed dead right in front of her. Thumbing the release Beth ejected the empty magazine from the pistol and reloaded it with a fresh clip. <I gotta thank Faith for the idea of using hollow-point rounds> Pulling the slide back Beth chambered a round into the barrel and held the weapon steady on the leaders chest. Beth watched as the leader moved towards her slowly and stopped about five feet away from her.

Im impressed Slayer. Those men were my best, very few who ever faced them have lived to tell the tale and yet you have managed to survive. Lucidan smiled broadly, showing off the razor sharp teeth in his mouth. But now you have me to deal with, and Ive never lost or failed to fulfill a bounty.

=======================

Sunnydale, CA

1:00am PST

Tara woke up suddenly and shot up from the bed, her heat racing. <Willows in trouble> was the feeling that filled her. Quickly she pulled on a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt and headed out of the bedroom, only stopping to grab her jacket, car keys and wallet as she headed out of the apartment. Once outside, Tara pulled on her jacket in the cold nights air as she ran towards where their car, a beat-up, blue, 1988 Toyota Camry was parked.

Driving quickly, almost recklessly, Tara headed towards the cemetery. The feeling of dread/fear/worry she had about Willow, became stronger as she approached the cemetery.

As she neared the cemetery entrance Tara pulled right up to the gate and stopped. Jumping out of the car Tara gestured at the locked gates, flinging them off their hinges. Running inside the cemetery Tara headed towards Buffys grave where Willow had planned to cast the spell. Tara could see a body lying in the grass about 10 feet from the grave and several small fires were burning nearby, the smell of smoke and burning wood was stronger the closer the got to the grave.

Willow!! Tara called out as she reached the crumpled form of her lover. Carefully Tara turned Willow over on her back, she could see the left side of Willows head was covered in dried blood that matted her hair against her head and blood leaked from Willows nose and down her cheek. Checking for any other injuries Tara found two deep cuts on Willows hands, but didnt find anything else.

Pulling out her cell phone she quickly dialed 911.

*****************************

Lucidan slowly walked towards the Slayer, confident she would be his shortly. Taking the Slayer had been more difficult than he had anticipated, it would be hard to replace the nine mercenaries she had killed but the reward would more than compensate him for their loss.

As he started to close with the Slayer, Lucidan had a moment to recognize the sudden feeling of wild magick in the air and shield himself. The demon felt the magick shield he had managed to raise take the brunt of the magick that lashed out at him and batted him backwards, slamming him into a tree and then he felt nothing at all.

Beth watched stunned as violet lightning flashed and swatted the demon back into a tree over 400 feet away where he collapsed bonelessly to the ground.

The ground shook violently around her and Beth felt herself fall backwards to the ground, struggling to get back up Beth saw a pair of rotting hands burst out of the ground and grabbed her by the ankles, holding her. As she fought to free herself from the hands that held her, more skeletal and rotting hands burst out of the ground and grabbed her, pulling her down to the ground and keeping her pinned to the ground spread eagle.

A flash of light blinded her and Beth felt a surge of energy course thru her. Screaming in agony as the energy pounded thru her, Beth fought back with all her strength to break free but to no avail. Suddenly the energy that hand been pounding her stopped, leaving her out of breath, and her entire body throbbing in pain.

<Oh god, oh god, oh god! I hurt so muchnothing was this bad.> Beth felt a tiny tickle on the top of her head and then she felt the energy surge though her mind and then a rush of memories began;

Beth do you have a minute? Mary asked.

Sure. Beth turned to Sammy and handed him the bag of napkins shed been carrying. Hey squirt, bring this out to your Dad. Ill catch up with you in a few minutes.

Kay Aunt Beth. Beth watched as Sam ran out the patio door and then turned to look at Mary. Whats up Mary?

Mary looked at Beth with a serious look on her face. Beth, Ive heard some rumours recently about the 13th deploying overseas

Mary, its just a rumour, thats all. Beth answered.

Maybe, but I need to ask a favour from you though.

Beth watched as Mary started to nervously smooth the non-existent wrinkles out of her shirt, something that Mary only did when she was very uncomfortable. Itll be okay Mary. It was just that, a rumour, talk, thats all. What did you want to ask me though?

Mary reached out and put her hand on Beths shoulder and squeezed it gently. Beth, you know that youre a part of this family, right?? Mary waited until she saw Beth nod before continuing. I want you to promise me youll look out for Steve, I know he can get single-minded at times and he forgets to take care of himself. I want Steve to come home to me and I want Sammy to have his aunt come back as well.

Beth saw how important this was to Mary and how it was hurting her to ask Beth this favour. Mary knew that Taylor would have been hurt if he ever find out about this little talk. Reaching over Beth put her hand on Marys, I promise Ill do everything I can to watch his back so he comes home to you Mary.

Beth felt the tears course down her face Please.no more Beth whispered. But the floodgates to her memories was open and they continued play themselves in her mind.

Scene after scene bombarded her mind and body. Every experience and memory she had buried from the prison rushed forward and Beth found herself experiencing them all over again as if for the first time

Time had no meaning now to Bethall she wanted was for it to end and not feel anything anymore when a final memory rose up from the depths of her mindBeth saw herself from outside as she was thrown into the cell with the five rapists and time seemed to slow down.

<No, not this! Please dear God, dont make me live this again> Beth pleaded to whoever was doing this to her but no-one answered.

The memory started up once again and Beth called out to the one person who could save her. <FAITH! HELP ME!!!!>

<<<<<<>>>>>>

Faith reached the clearing and saw the first body, a large red-skinned demon with wings. He was lying on his back, a throwing knife sticking out of one eye. Kneeling down Faith looked closer at the knife, <Thats the knife I gave Beth>. Getting up Faith saw several more demon bodies littered across the area, it wasnt until Faith saw the last two that she saw Beth and ran towards her, BETH!! Faith yelled as she saw Beths body lying on the ground curled in a fetal ball. Dropping to her knees next to Beth Faith reached over and checked for a pulse. Relief washed through her as Faith felt Beths pulse beating strongly under her finger., but the relief stopped as Faith saw the wounds that covered Beth.

Sliding her backpack off and swinging it next to her, Faith carefully started checking the wounds she saw on Beth and looking for any other hidden wounds. After several minutes Faith stopped, satisfied that she had found them all and pulled out a first aid kit from the backpack and opened it. <First thing is to stitch up that deep slash on her arm, thats the worst one.> Pulling out a pair of medical scissors Faith started cutting the blood soaked cloth away from the wound, exposing it. Jesus! Faith swore as she saw how deep and long the wound was. The deep slash ran from Beths shoulder and down past her elbow.

Grimly Faith pulled out a needle and thread and started sewing the wound closed as best she could. Her hands bloody, Faith leaned back closing her eyes and exhaled deeply trying to settle the anger that roiled inside her gut at Beths injuries. Wiping her hands on her jacket and jeans, Faith tried cleaning some of the blood off of them but she only managed to cover her jacket and pants legs in bloody smears.

Sighing Faith looked Beth over, bandages covered Beths stomach, arms and back, and even now blood was soaking the bandages and slowly turning them red. Dont you die on me damn you! Faith whispered angrily as tears fell down her face. Sniffling Faith angrily wiped the tears from her face and shouldered the backpack. Scooting closer to Beth and leaning over, Faith slid her arms under Beth and lifted her up as she stood up.

<<<<<<>>>>>>

Exhausted Faith plopped herself down near the fire she had burning. Reaching into the backpack Faith pulled out a cold sandwich and started eating it. With the sandwich done and her stomach no longer empty Faith felt slightly better, at least until she looked over at Beth.

Beth was still curled up tight in a ball, her arms and legs drawn close. Faith could see Beth toss and turn, violently at times, but Beth hadn't woken up since she had found her and brought Beth back several hours ago and she didn't know what else she could do or what might be wrong.

Moving over to Beth, Faith slid in behind her and pulled Beth in between her legs and holding her closely. With a free hand Faith grabbed a blanket and pulled it over both of them and leaned back. "Please come back to me B, please. I love you," Faith repeated softly again and again until exhaustion overcame her and she fell asleep.

<<<<>>>>

Beth had been sitting in this small, dark place for what seemed like forever. It was peaceful here...quiet. No fears, no responsibilities or worries, she could just 'be' and for a while she had considered staying where she was, but she had started to feel that she was missing something important, something that she needed to feel complete.

Getting up Beth started walking, after a while she saw a light ahead of her and started walking towards it. The closer Beth got to the light, the stronger the feeling that what she was looking for was there.

As she approached the light and the end of the tunnel she had been walking in a name popped into her mind, Faith. "Faith?" Beth whispered and the image of the tall, beautiful, dark slayer popped in her mind. Breaking into a run Beth ran at the light, "FAITH!!!!!!!"

Opening her eyes Beth looked around. She was back at their camp and in Faith's arms. Turning on her side Beth looked at Faith who was sleeping, there were dark circles under her eyes and even asleep her face showed the exhaustion and fear on it.

"I'm sorry Faith," Beth whispered and reached out to cup Faith's cheek softly, caressing it with her thumb. With that simple movement, Beth felt a sharp pain in her left arm, <Damn, I forgot about that.>

Her whole body felt sore and tired, but she was alive and more importantly, so was Faith. Smiling Beth snuggled down close to Faith, wrapped her arms around her and closed her eyes to sleep. There would be time to talk later, with that last thought Beth drifted off to sleep.

<<<<<<>>>>>>

Several Days Later...

Rolling over, Faith looked at her lover sleeping soundly next to her. <I can't believe I'm saying or thinking those words, my lover, it's not something I ever thought I'd ever say about Beth.> An amused smile slid across Faith's face. Watching Beth, Faith saw her shift position onto her stomach and the sheet slide off leaving Beth's back partially exposed to her view.

Faith took in the healthy colour and glow to Beth's skin now. The once pasty-white skin had darkened and bronzed and her hair bleached by the sun was a streaked gold-blond. Physically Beth had changed a lot from the young woman she had fought those years ago though. Looking Beth over Faith didn't think there was an ounce of excess fat on Beth's body, Beth's once overly slim body was gone. Faith could see the toned muscles on Beth's arms, legs and body, a small smile of appreciation for those muscles and stamina gave Faith a leering grin.

Beth shifted suddenly reaching out and pulling a pillow close and hugging it, the sheet had completely fallen off of Beth now and left nothing hide from Faith's gaze. Faith smiled as she watched the muscles in Beth's back shift and play as she moved and the faint white lines, faded scars really, that criss-crossed Beth's back and shoulders. Gently Faith reached out to trace the lines with her finger. <She'll have these scars forever> Faith thought sadly. The scars didnt take anything away from Beth's beauty, but they were an outward sign of the scars inside of her.

Not really sure where this little introspective moment came from, Faith continued to gently trace the scars on Beth's back when after a little while Beth's eyes opened and looked up at her.

"Hey you, sleep well?" Beth asked impishly.

"What little sleep I got, yes." Faith smiled back broadly.

Rolling over onto her side facing Faith, Beth moved her back out of Faith's reach.

Faith scooted forward and put her hand back on Beth's back, "B?" Faith asked surprised at Beth's reaction.

"Don't...please?" Beth asked softly, the pain in her voice was clear.

"Don't what B? Touch your scars? Why?" Faith asked puzzeldly, trying to mask the rejection she felt at Beth pulling away.

A tear fell down Beth's cheek, "Because they're ugly..."

Faith moved her hand to Beth's face and turned it towards her. "No B, they're not. They're a part of you and that makes them beautiful. Just like you."

"But..." Faith cut off Beth's reply with her lips, kissing her. Beth opened her mouth and deepened the kiss. In a quick move Faith straddled Beth's hips and gently teased Beth's stomach and sides, but avoiding her breasts.

Beth inhaled sharply as Faith softly ran her fingers down Beth's left side and little bolts of pleasure shot down her side. "Faaith..." Beth moaned softly.

"B, I love 'all' of you. The little scars *kiss*, your stomach *kiss*, your neck *kiss*, everything. There is nothing ugly about you B. Relax and let me love you, trust me."

Faith saw Beth nod and she let her lips nip and lick the sides of Beth's breasts, watching as the nipples hardened into points. When she suddenly swooped down and captured one nipple with her lips, sucking and playing with it while her other hand teased Beth's sensitive flanks.

Faith heard a loud groan from Beth as she continued to suck and tease Beth's nipples. Faith stopped what she was doing and looked into Beth's eyes and saw the passion and desire had deepened the colour in them to a deep blue.

Faith reached over and maneuvered Beth onto her stomach and straddled her buttocks. Leaning down Faith kissed each of the scars on Beth's back, the muscles were tight with tension and Faith proceeded to alternately massage the muscles in Beth's back which she alternated with kissed and caressed until she felt Beth relax underneath her and start to respond to the caresses.

Faith pressed her knee inbetween Beth's legs and moved it forward until her knee was resting against Beth's hot center. Faith felt Beth push back and start to slowly grind herself against her leg, Faith pushed back feeling the wetness from Beth's vagina start to cover her leg.

Moving her knee away Faith heard Beth whimper at the loss of contact. "Ah ah ahh Beth, not yet." Faith reached down and teased the inside of Beth's legs with her fingernails, but never touching the one spot Beth wanted.

"Faith please!!!" Beth moaned.

"What do you want B? This?" And Faith trailed her fingernails lightly up over Beth's calf and thigh. Faith watched as Beth squirmed.

"I want you.."

Faith relented and let her hand dip down between Beth's legs and softly caress Beth's folds, feeling the wetness there as it coated her fingers from that gentle touch.

"Oh gods, please! Don't stop Faith," As Beth pushed backwards against Faith's hand.

Leaning down Faith licked a trail up and down Beth's back by her scars and then pushed two fingers inside Beth.

"Augghhh" Beth groaned out as she pushed against the fingers inside her and started to gyrate her hips.

Slowly Faith started a rythym moving in and out of Beth first slow and then speeding up as she felt Beth wetness soak her hand and she added a third finger inside of Beth.

Moans of pleasure flew from Beth. "Yes, yes! More! Harder!!" Beths voice was ragged and Faith knew Beth was close to the edge as she felt Beth's muscles squeeze hard against her fingers. Faith turned Beth over, never losing contact with her and looked into Beth's eyes as she moved against Beth's body.

Slowing her motions down Faith slowed the pace and with her thumb gently cirlced the hard nub of Beth's clitoris.

"Can you feel me Beth?"

"Yesss" Beth replied.

Looking deep into Beth's eyes Faith held them, "No B, feel 'me' and all the love I have for you. Just let go and trust me."

Seeing and feeling the waves of love and trust from Faith Beth let go the last of the barriers she kept up even now, and Beth 'felt' Faith and the sheer love and desire she had for 'her', for Beth. Her whole body tingled from the waves of emotion that washed over here and left her wanting more.

Faith watched Beth's face as she reacted to Faith's feelings for her. Faith started moving her hand faster inside Beth, building the pace back up and towards Beth's peak. Just as Faith saw Beth was close to her release, she flicked Beth's clitoris with her thumb sending Beth higher and over the edge.

"Ahhhhhhhh!! YESSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!" Beth yelled as she climaxed over and over again. Slowly Beth came down from the peak, exhausted physically and emotionally. As she felt Faith start to withdraw her hand Beth reached down and held it. "Don't please. Let me just feel you like this."

Faith nodded and laid down close to Beth tracing little patterns on Beth's shoulder and arm.

Her heart was slowing down and Beth felt a chill from a breeze that blew over her body and chilling the sweat the coated her. Beth felt Faith pull a blanket over them both.

After several minutes Beth felt Faith finally removed her fingers from inside her before she pulled Beth close against her chest as she draped one leg over Beth possessively. "I love you B."

A tear fell from Beth's eye, "I know Faith, I really 'know'. I love you too."

Faith held Beth closely as she listened to Beth's breathing as it slowed and evened out as Beth drifted off to sleep. Looking down at Beth Faith saw the lines of tension and worry that had been a hallmark on her had softened and gone away, for now at least and that was all she could ask for. Closing her eyes Faith felt herself drift off as sleep finally claimed both lovers.