TWICE CHOSEN
Part 03

By DragonWriter17

 

 

Rating: PG-13

Disclaimer: All of the materials borrowed from Buffy the Vampire Slayer belong to Joss Whedon and to the entities and companies associated with their creation.  I have borrowed them for creative and entertainment purposes only.  No compensation has been or ever shall be received for the writing below.  No copyright infringement is intended.

My Website: http://www.dragonwriter17.net/

Feedback: Yes, but only if it’s of the non-flamey variety: DragonWriter17@aol.com

Distribution: The Watchers Forum, The Mystic Muse, and my personal site (If you are interested in posting my story on your site, please contact me first for permission.)

Spoilers: BtVS Season 3’s “Faith, Hope, and Trick” (and beyond)

Pairings: Buffy/Faith

Author’s Notes: (1) The first chapter of this story was originally written for Lilly as part of the Watchers Auction for WriterCon 2006. Lilly and I had been chatting for some time about a possible Buffy/Faith story idea of mine which basically rewrote Season 3 to put the two slayers together (’cause, hey, Fuffy is hot!). When Lilly won me at the auction, she said that I could use that same story to fulfill the bid. So this is the continuation of that story. (2) This chapter is a rewrite of the episode “Beauty and the Beasts”.  A lot of it is just a straight rehash of the episode itself, so I apologize for that, but it’s really necessary to something I am trying to set up. I am cutting and/or summarizing where I can to save space, so anywhere I’ve condensed, you can pretty much assume the scene played out as aired. Although I have made a few small changes in the original story, there is one major difference between the original B&B episode and my version. In my version, Angel is not around because he did not return in the previous episode. (3) I would like to thank Lilly for the beta read and edit. I would also like to thank the Buffy-vs-Angel web site, whose B&B transcript I used.

Number of Chapters: Current Plan = 18 chapters

Complete: 11

Chapter Summary: As Buffy and Faith separately try to figure out how to handle their attraction, Sunnydale experiences a savage attack.

PART 01     PART 02     PART 03     PART 04     PART 05     PART 06    

PART 07     PART 08     PART 09     PART 10     PART 11   PART 12

PART 13     PART 14     PART 15     PART 16     PART 17     PART 18

Return to the Home Page       Return to BtVS Stories
 

*** 

It was late at night, about a week after Kakistos, and Willow was “Oz sitting” in the high school library. It was some time after midnight when Xander came in to do the last shift. Willow was giving Xander the run-down on watching Oz.

“…he’s more manageable tonight and on the third night. Tomorrow night, the

total full moon, that’s when he’s a real wolfer.” Willow reached across the table for something. “But in case there’s trouble...there won’t be, but if...” She held up the tranquilizer gun.

Xander took it from her and slipped his finger into the trigger guard. “Sleepy time,” he said. “Gotcha.”

“Thanks again for doing this,” Willow said. “I wouldn’t have asked, but I have this test and…”

“No big,” Xander said. “You can count on me. I got my coffee, magazines. Figured I’d read, maybe run the stairs over there a little bit. I’m good.”

Willow didn’t look happy with the way Xander was waving the gun around, so she eased it out of his hands and set it aside. Then she made her good-byes and headed out.

After Willow had left, Xander climbed onto the long table, put a book under his head for a pillow, and settled in for a nap. In the locked cage, Oz let out a loud growl.

***

At the same time, Faith and Buffy were in one of the local cemeteries, strolling through on patrol. While Buffy carefully scanned a nearby row of graves, Faith had her eyes on Buffy. She watched the blonde intently until Buffy suddenly turned to face her.

“So…” Faith said, putting on a smirk and pretending that she hadn’t been staring, “…you ever catch kids doing the diddy out here?”

“No,” Buffy replied. “There’s a smooch spot up by the woods. That’s usually where kids go.”

“Yeah? Bet you and Scott have been up there kicking the gearshift.” Faith grinned as if she were teasing, but behind the façade, she didn’t want to hear a confirmation from Buffy.

Buffy gave Faith a look. “Hardly,” she said. “Only been on a few dates.”

Faith forced herself to go on, to press a little further, all with a big smile on her face. “But you like him,” she said. “And when you think about him, you get that good, down-low tickle, right?”

“No, not really,” Buffy said, shaking her head. “I mean, I like him. It’s just a little early for—” When Buffy realized what Faith might have meant, she stopped and gave Faith the eye. “Wait…how low?”

“You tell me,” Faith said, more seriously than she intended. She covered by giving Buffy a playful nudge and another grin.

Buffy rolled her eyes. “How about not?”

The two slayers walked along in silence for a time until Buffy spoke up once again.

“He asked me to the homecoming dance,” Buffy announced.

Faith nodded and tried not to frown. “Good. Good for you.”

Buffy could feel the awkwardness of the conversation, but wasn’t sure why it was happening. “A-A-Are you going to the dance?” she asked.

Faith didn’t answer immediately; instead, she kicked the ground with her feet. Yeah, right, she thought to herself. Me in some fancy dress. Faith pushed the thoughts aside and looked up at Buffy. She shrugged nonchalantly and said, “Nah…school dance…way too tame.”

Buffy seemed a little disappointed at the news, but quickly covered it up. “Well, tame or not, it’ll be fun to go, especially with Scott. He’s nice, and he’s funny…”

“And quite a muffin,” Faith added. If you like the wimpy, sensitive type, she thought to herself.

“Blueberry…with that crunchy, munchy stuff on top,” Buffy confirmed. “But my most favorite thing so far…is that he doesn’t seem to be any kind of hell-beast.”

“All men are beasts, Buffy.”

Buffy was surprised by Faith’s statement. “Okay, I was hoping to not get that cynical till I was at least forty.”

“It’s not cynical,” Faith replied. “It’s realistic. Every guy has beast in him. I don’t care how sensitive they act. They’re all still just in it for the chase.”

Buffy reluctantly nodded, forced to agree that Faith might have a point.

***

Elsewhere in town, in a wooded area, a boy ran through the bushes in a panic. From behind him came the sounds of a creature growling and breathing heavily. The boy attempted to look back, but ended up tripping over a branch.

When he hit the ground, he rolled onto his back and tried to push himself away with his feet. It was too late. The creature was upon him. He screamed loudly before the creature attacked and dragged him away.

***

The next day at school, Willow and Oz and Buffy crossed paths with Scott and his two friends, Debbie and Pete. When the group stopped to talk, Buffy noticed that Debbie was holding a bouquet of flowers.

“Those are pretty flowers,” Buffy commented.

“Thanks,” Debbie said. “Pete brought them for me.” She smiled happily at her boyfriend.

“Yeah,” Pete said, smiling. “Well, I-I-I’m sure Scott does that kind of stuff for you, too, Buffy.”

“Oh well, we’re not up to flowers,” Scott interjected. Then he turned to Buffy. “Are we? Up to flowers? Did I miss flowers?”

“No, we are pre-posy,” she reassured him. “Definitely.” As Scott gave a relieved nod, Buffy suddenly grabbed his watch. “What time is it? I have to go see Mr. Platt today.”

“Platt? The school counselor?” Debbie asked.

“I get to convince him that I’m ‘Little Miss Stable’ so I can stay in school,” Buffy explained.

“Platt creeps me out,” Debbie said disgustedly. “I would totally quit going, but I’m flunking senior bio, and my teacher says I have ‘success issues’.” She gave an unconcerned giggle.

“Senior bio?” Oz said. “I kinda aced that final.”

“And how did you do that?” Willow needled playfully. “Oh, right. You showed up.”

Oz grinned at Willow’s jibe, then turned to Debbie. “If you want my notes, they’re yours.”

“Thanks!” Debbie said with a grateful smile. “That’d be great!”

“Well, let me find ’em, and I’ll give you a call,” Oz said. “We can meet sometime tomorrow.”

“Super!” Debbie said. Just then the bell rang.

“We’d better go,” Buffy said to Willow and Oz. Then she turned to Scott. “I’ll see you.”

“Yep,” he said. Then the two of them shared a quick kiss.

Buffy turned and headed into the building. After giving a final wave, Oz followed Willow inside. Scott sighed and gave his friends a contented look.

***

Meanwhile, in the library office, Xander and Giles were looking in alarm at an article in the local paper.

“We need to recheck every possible exit avenue,” Giles said, heading into the main area of the library.

Xander followed anxiously after. “I’m telling you, it’s a waste of time. I was here all night.”

As the two headed for the book cage, Willow and Oz came into the library. Giles and Xander stopped in place, a startled look on their faces.

“Right. It’s good to see you,” Giles said to the couple, forcing a smile. “Um, no need to panic.”

“Just a thought,” Oz told Giles, “poker: not your game.”

“What’s the deal, Giles?” Willow asked worriedly.

Giles began to pace nervously. “Now, uh, bear in mind, uh, most likely, there, there, there is no deal,” he said, glancing at Xander briefly, “but um, if, if, if there was a deal, then it, um, would concern murder...last night. A male student was, was found i-i-in the woods.”

“Which student?” Willow asked.

“Jeff Orkin,” Giles answered.

“Jeff? He was...” Oz began. He looked over at Xander, who just looked down at the floor. “I knew him,” Oz finished.

“I’m afraid he was, he was, um, terribly mauled,” Giles said. “Now, uh, much as I hate to think it, i-i-it could be the handiwork of, of...”

“Me,” Oz said.

Willow touched Oz gently, concern in her voice. “Wolf you, not you you.”

“But it’s not,” Xander insisted. “Not wolf you, not you you. The room was secured, the gate was locked...” He headed into the cage to prove his point. “...and the window was unbreakable, and...open!” He rushed out of the cage, pointing at the still-open window.

“Oh, God...” Willow said.

Giles and Oz went into the cage to see for themselves.

“Not to freak,” Xander said. “I rested my eyes now and then. That’s all.”

Willow shot a look of betrayal in Xander’s direction. Giles and Oz came out of the cage. Oz just stared into space as if contemplating the serious implications of these events. Giles strode directly over to Xander.

“How long...exactly...did you rest your eyes for?” Giles demanded with a glare.

“A little now, uh, a little then,” Xander said. “But I never heard Oz leave, and he was here in the morning when I, um...when I...”

“Woke up?!” Giles supplied angrily.

“You could put it that way if you want to, Mr. Technical,” Xander said defensively.

Oz walked over to Willow and gazed at her sadly. She took his hand to comfort him. He looked at Giles imploringly.

***

Meanwhile, Buffy went inside the office of the school counselor, Mr. Platt. She closed the door behind herself and stepped up to the desk. Mr. Platt was sitting in his chair, facing away from the door, looking out his open window, smoking a cigarette.

“Two o’clock. Miss Summers,” Mr. Platt said without turning around.

Buffy pasted on a smile. “Buffy Summers, reporting for sanity,” she said cheerily.

Buffy’s smile faded when Platt didn’t laugh or even turn around. Instead, he just blew out a huge cloud of cigarette smoke.

“Look,” Buffy said in a serious voice, “I know that I have to do this, and I-I-I’ll cooperate, and I’ll look at your ink blots and everything, but...I don’t wanna talk about my life or my childhood or...anything, for that matter, actually. And, uh... I don’t wanna be friends here.”

“We’re not going to be friends,” Mr. Platt said, finally turning around. He gave Buffy a smile. “You have friends already...I hope. Friends are a good thing.” He took one last drag on his cigarette and then crushed it into the ash tray. “They like you, agree with you, tell you what you want to hear.” He pulled a can of air sanitizer from his desk drawer. “That’s not what you need right now. What you need is a trained, not too crazy professional who will always give you his honest opinion.”

While Platt sprayed the air around himself, Buffy didn’t say anything. She just looked at him oddly and waited.

“Which I offer,” the counselor finished. He met Buffy’s eyes and then gestured to the chair in front of his desk. “Have a seat.”

While Platt returned the can to his desk drawer, Buffy sat down in the chair. “Not too crazy?” Buffy commented. “Those are your credentials?”

Mr. Platt grinned, got up, and came around his desk to sit in front of Buffy. “Look, Buffy, any person—grownup, shrink, pope—any person who claims to be totally sane is either lying or not very bright. I mean, everyone has problems. Everybody has demons, right?”

Buffy glanced away and stared at her hands. “Got to say I’m with you on that.”

“Excellent,” Platt said. “So, the hope I bring you is: demons can be fought.” Buffy looked up at him in surprise as he went on. “People can change. You can change.” He paused a moment and then said, “Now. Your turn. Let’s start with why you ran away.”

Buffy began to fidget. “That’s a long story.”

Platt shrugged. “Bore me.”

Buffy once again pasted on a smile. “You know, I’m...I’m really over it. I-I-I’m moving on, I feel good, I’m...I’m even dating someone new.”

“All good things,” Platt noted. “But still...you’re bringing me in at the end of the movie.”

“I was dating someone,” Buffy answered awkwardly. “Uh, i-i-it ended badly. My mom and I were fighting, and I...kinda freaked.”

“Well, tell me more about this guy. The ‘Bad Ending’ guy.”

For a long moment, Buffy didn’t say anything. Then she let out a deep breath and looked down at her hands again. “He was my first...I loved him, and then he—”

“—changed?”

Buffy looked up at him, surprised that he filled in the blank so perfectly. “Yeah,” was all she could say.

“He got mean.”

“Yes.”

“And you didn’t stop loving him,” Platt said. “In fact, you still love him now, don’t you?”

Buffy stared in shock for a time. Then she finally admitted, “A part of me does.” When Platt simply waited for her to go on, she said, “But he’s gone now. A-A-And it’s over. I’m ready to move on.”

Platt stared at Buffy intently, trying to read her. Buffy wouldn’t meet his gaze for more than a second or two at a time. When Buffy didn’t crumble under his stare, he leaned back in his chair and said, “Glad to hear it.”

***

After her session with Mr. Platt, Buffy made her way into the school library. There she found Giles pacing nervously. Willow, Oz, Xander, and Cordelia were sitting on the steps looking worried. Buffy set her bag on the table and approached the gloomy group.

“I’m afraid to ask,” the slayer said, steeling herself.

“Oz ate someone last night,” Cordelia announced.

“He did not!” Willow instantly denied, giving Cordelia a glare.

Xander tried to smooth over the situation. “Oz does not eat people. It’s more...werewolf play. You know, I bat you around a little bit, like a cat toy. I have harmless, wolf fun. Is it Oz’s fault that, you know, side effect, people get cut to ribbons, and maybe then he’ll take a little nibble and...I’m not helping, am I?”

“No,” Giles told him before turning to Buffy. “Oz may have gotten out of his cage last night.”

“Or maybe there’s a...another werewolf roaming the woods,” Oz said with hope-filled eyes.

“Perhaps,” Giles said. “Perhaps it’s something else entirely.”

“It’s okay,” Buffy said. “We’ll work together, and we’ll figure this out.”

Giles thought a moment then began doling out the plan of action, albeit somewhat hesitantly. “Buffy, uh, you, uh, patrol the woods. Uh, the others, um, check out the morgue. I have some research materials at home I need to look up, and Oz...” Giles looked up at the clock.

Oz followed the watcher’s eyes, and when he realized it was close to sunset, he sighed and headed for his cage.

Buffy moved closer to Giles and tilted her head slightly toward Oz. Giles leaned over and whispered, “I’ll call Faith and have her watch him tonight.” Buffy gave a nod of approval.

***

While Willow, Xander, and Cordelia were breaking and entering at the morgue, Buffy checked out the woods where Jeff Orkin had been attacked. Buffy spent several hours patrolling that area and others, but she found nothing that could explain the vicious attack. Having come up empty, Buffy decided to return to the school library.

***

In the library, werewolf Oz growled and paced in his cage. Faith paid no mind as she danced to the loud music blaring in the headphones of her portable CD player. When she felt a tap on her shoulder, Faith instinctively spun around and landed a swinging backhanded punch to the person behind her. She ripped off her CD player and headphones, pulled out her stake, threw the person to the floor, and raised her stake—ready for the kill. Then Faith realized who it was.

“Oh! Buffy!” Faith said, surprised. “Are you okay? What are you doing here?”

Buffy groaned but gave a smidgen of a smile. “Uh, bleeding internally, but I’ll live.”

“God, I’m sorry,” Faith said. Then she shrugged in the direction of the CD player lying nearby. “I guess I didn’t hear you.”

“Figured as much,” Buffy said.

As Faith put away her stake and moved aside, Buffy sat up. After Faith helped her to her feet, Buffy shook her head a little dizzily. Faith steadied the blonde with a hand on her hip and another under her forearm.

“Damn, that’s quite a punch you’ve got,” Buffy said, rotating her jaw a bit.

Faith touched Buffy’s cheek and looked deeply into her eyes, trying to gauge her steadiness. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

The two locked eyes, their hearts thudding in their chests. After a long stare, Faith let her gaze drift to Buffy’s mouth, and she gently brushed Buffy’s cheek with her thumb. When she brought her eyes back to Buffy’s, she found the blonde still staring. Then, as they had done before, on the night of Kakistos, the two slayers began to move almost imperceptibly closer to one another...until Buffy finally looked away and cleared her throat.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Really,” she said, backing out of Faith’s arms.

The briefest moment of confusion and hurt flashed in Faith’s eyes, but then she just stuffed her hands into her back pockets and gave a nonchalant shrug.

“So…what’re you doing here?” Faith asked. “Find something on patrol?”

“Oh, um, no,” Buffy said, wringing her hands nervously. “Woods patrol was a total strikeout. No sign of any maul-y type beasties. So…I figured I’d come give you the rest of the night off.”

“Get out of jail free, huh?” Faith noted. “How come? You know you could just go home and get some sleep.”

“I-I-I don’t think I could sleep. Figured I’d, uh, cram for my French test.”

“That’s cool,” Faith admitted. “I was going kinda crazy in here, but I can get in a few stakings before sunrise.” She smiled and handed the cage keys to Buffy, ignoring the spark of attraction she felt when their hands touched.

As Faith headed for the door, Buffy followed the slayer with her eyes, a worried expression on her face. She called out her name. When the brunette turned around, Buffy said seriously, “Be careful, okay?”

Faith grinned widely and held out her arms. “You know me, B...”

Buffy rolled her eyes. “Exactly. Hence the ‘be careful’.”

Faith just laughed and gave Buffy a wink. Then she left the room.

After Faith had gone, Buffy turned away from the door, let out a deep breath, and hugged herself. Her brow furrowed as she sank into heavy thought. It took only a few seconds before she turned back around and looked longingly at the library door.

***

After leaving the library, Faith walked quickly away, a serious expression on her face. She stopped at the water fountain and took a long drink. When she was done, she wiped her mouth and slowly turned back toward the library entrance.

What are you doing? she asked herself. This girl’s got ‘mistake’ written all over her. You two are actually getting along...like real friends even. Don’t screw that up.

Faith gave a big sigh and let her head drop back against her shoulders. She looked at the ceiling briefly, then shut her eyes and took in a deep breath. She let her breath out gradually and lifted her head. Then, without another glance at the library, she strode away.

***

The next morning, Giles came into the library carrying a cup of coffee. He first checked the book cage and found Oz safely transformed into his human self. Giles unlocked the cage and headed over to where he saw Buffy asleep in a chair, her French book lying open in her lap. As he sipped his coffee, Buffy slowly woke up and looked up at him.

“Hey,” she said in greeting.

“Hmm, hello,” Giles replied, taking another sip of his coffee.

Just then, they heard the doors open, and when they turned to look, they saw Willow coming in with a box of donuts. Willow looked at Buffy curiously.

“I thought Faith was on duty,” Willow said.

“Oh...change of plans,” Buffy said.

Willow held up the box of donuts. “Glazed or cake?” She gave a goofy grin. “It’s fun to watch them make them. They use this spritzy thing, and they drop the batter into this—”

“Couldn’t sleep, huh?” Buffy cut in.

Willow sighed in affirmation. “I’ve been at Mister Donut since the TV did that snowy thing.”

Behind Willow, a half-dressed Oz came out of the cage.

“How come you’re the Wakey Girl?” Willow asked Buffy. “I mean, this time, it’s not your boyfriend who’s the cold-blooded...”

Willow trailed off when she saw Buffy’s eyes widen. Still slipping on his shirt, Oz walked up next to Willow.

“...Jelly donut?” she said with extra cheeriness as she held out the box to her boyfriend.

Oz ignored the donuts. “Everything all right?” he asked.

“Yeah,” Buffy told him. Then she turned to Willow. “Uh, what happened with the inspection of the body?”

Willow kept up her fake smile and stayed on the topic of donuts. “Anyone? They’re yummy delicious!”

“Willow, come on,” Buffy prompted. “Was it a werewolf?”

Willow’s smile disappeared, and she set the box down on the table. Then she forced herself to say, “I-I-It wasn’t conclusive.”

Oz looked down at the floor, and Buffy glanced at Giles worriedly.

***

Later that day, Buffy was coming out of the cafeteria line. On her tray was a plate containing various flavors of Jell-O and nothing else. She scanned the area for a place to sit and saw Scott waving to her from the other side of the room. She smiled and headed that way, where Scott sat with Debbie and Pete. She put her tray on the table and sat down.

Scott frowned at what was on her plate. “Hey, uh, I can’t back you on that lunch. Nutritional demerits.”

Buffy looked down at her plate. “My stomach doesn’t want hard food today.” She pointed at the green Jell-O. “But there’s fruit in it.”

“Those are marshmallows,” Scott whispered.

“Oh.”

Pete and Debbie looked at Buffy strangely, but she just sighed.

“I’m...I’m really out of it today,” she tried to explain. “I didn’t sleep well last night.”

“Just don’t tell Mr. Platt you have insomnia,” Debbie warned. “He’ll make you start a dream journal.”

“Oh, what’s that? Like a Barbie thing?” Pete joked. “Dear Dream Journal, how come Ken hasn’t come around since he got that earring?”

Debbie giggled. “I never did it. He’s a quack.”

“I kinda liked him,” Buffy offered.

“Really?” Debbie said. “I guess, I guess he’s kinda funny and stuff. It’s just... sometimes I just don’t like the things he says.”

Pete’s eyes narrowed for the briefest of seconds, and he clenched his jaw tightly as he looked at Debbie. Then, as quickly as it had come, the expression was gone. None of the others noticed his change.

“Oh, he definitely marches to the beat of his own drummer,” Buffy noted.            “A-A-Actually, I think he makes his own drums.”

“Well, my mom says that therapy can be completely helpful,” Scott said.

“Yeah, but your mom has the wattage of a Zippo lighter, Scott,” Pete quipped. Once again, Debbie giggled away.

Scott took the jibe good-naturedly and turned to Buffy. “I hope you realize I don’t actually know these people,” he told her. “It’s just...I thought you would like me better if I had friends, so I hired them.”

Buffy gave him a weak smile. Then he turned to face her completely.

“So...I, uh, I wanted to tell you that you look great today. But now I wanna raise that to amazing because you didn’t sleep well.”

Buffy smiled a bit awkwardly. “Uh...that’s really sweet. Um...” She trailed off when she saw Faith pass by the cafeteria entrance. She stared at the doorway for a full second or two before turning back to Scott. “...and I-I-I wish I didn’t have to, but I just remembered that I do, so...uhhh...I’ll see you later.” Then Buffy stood up, patted him on the shoulder, and walked away, leaving her uneaten Jell-O behind.

“Uh, yeah,” Scott said, slightly confused. He and Debbie and Pete followed Buffy with their eyes as she headed for the door.

“Check out Scotty,” Pete teased. “Liking the manic-depressive chick.”

Scott shot a glare at his friend.

***

Buffy hurried down the hallway until she caught up with Faith. Then she called out the slayer’s name. When Faith turned around, the two of them stopped and stepped out of the crowd to talk.

“Hey,” Buffy said with a sincere but slightly hesitant smile.

Faith returned the smile. “Hey yourself.”

“So...how’d it go last night?” Buffy asked. “Find any action?”

“I can always find action when I want it,” Faith said suggestively, grinning widely.

Buffy couldn’t help but blush. “Of the vampire variety,” she added pointedly, though not loud enough for any of the passing students to hear.

“Hey, you’re the one with those inclinations, not me,” Faith teased.

“Shut up,” Buffy said with a grin, reaching her hand forward to give Faith a playful poke in the side.

Faith laughed and flinched at the same time, but swiftly caught Buffy’s hand in hers before the poke could actually be administered. The two slayers instantly felt what seemed to be a faint electrical charge pass between them, and they froze in place, still smiling but without releasing each other’s hand. This time it was Faith who pulled away first.

“Gotta be faster’n that, B,” she said, making a dramatic show of letting Buffy’s hand go. At Buffy’s eye roll, she added in answer to the earlier question, “It was pretty slow. Got one vamp near the Manchester crypt. That’s about it.”

“Good!” Buffy said, nodding a bit more than was really necessary. Then she stopped and shook her head instead. “I mean, not good for you ’cause I know you wanted to get with the slaying, but good in the sense that things in general, I mean, as a whole, um, were a little less, well, demon-y.” Buffy cringed inside at her stupid babbling.

Faith gave her a smirk. “If you say so.”

After that, there was a long moment of awkward silence as the two slayers shifted nervously in place. Finally, Buffy spoke.

“Well, I should probably get to class,” Buffy said.

“Yeah, you should.”

“Catch you later?”

“If you’re lucky,” Faith replied with a wink as she backed away and then turned and headed for the library.

Buffy laughed and watched her go, unconsciously resting her hand over her heart. When she turned to head off to class, she was still smiling.

***

As Faith walked down the hallway, she worked the fingers in her hand. It still tingled from the spark of Buffy’s touch.

When she got to the library entrance, she stopped and looked curiously at her hand. As she lightly drew the fingertips of her other hand across her palm, she immediately thought of Buffy, and her heart began to beat faster.

After a moment of daydreaming, Faith scoffed disgustedly and dropped her hands back to her sides.

“Don’t be so stupid,” she chided herself. Then she went inside the library.

***

Later that afternoon, in English class, Buffy sat quietly in the back, doodling in her journal. The teacher had given them a writing assignment, but Buffy couldn’t concentrate on it. She looked at the page full of silly doodles and sighed. She turned to a fresh page and set her pen at the first line.

She wanted to write down what she was feeling, but the thought of actually recording it on paper was terrifying. To write it down would make it real, make it an undeniable admission, and she wasn’t sure she was ready to do that. She gave a low, frustrated growl and forced herself to begin anyway.

Something’s happening to me, she wrote. Something I don’t understand. Something that really scares me.

Buffy paused, her pen tip hovering over the paper. She took a deep breath and started writing again.

I think that I...

RIIIIIINNNNGGG!!!

The sound of the bell made Buffy jump in her seat. She looked down at what she had written, slight alarm in her eyes. Faintly in the background she heard her English teacher telling the class to finish their journal entry for homework. With a heavy sigh, she closed her journal and gathered her books.

***

Meanwhile, as students moved between classes, Pete and Debbie slipped into a rarely-used hallway near a supply room.

“Debbie, come on,” Pete said. “Just for a minute.”

He grabbed Debbie’s hands and tried to nudge her against the wall, but she pulled away, giggling coyly.

“No, I can’t,” she insisted though not convincingly. “I have to meet a friend.”

He pulled her back to him by both wrists. “So you’ll be late but happy.”

He kissed her, pulling her inside the dark supply room with him. Once inside they kissed passionately until Pete broke off the embrace and backed away toward a shelf behind him.

Debbie reached out and stopped him. “No, no. Let’s stay here.”

“Relax, Debbie,” Pete said. “What’s wrong with you today?”

They kissed once again. Then he noticed an empty jar on the shelf. All that’s left in it is the last few drops of a fluorescent fluid.

“What is that?” Pete asked.

“Nothing,” Debbie said, turning his face to hers and kissing him again. “Nothing. Kiss me.”

“No,” Pete said as he pulled away. “Debbie, you did not drink that, did you?”

“Drink it?” Debbie said with a nervous giggle. “You know I didn’t.”

Pete looked at his girlfriend intently. “What’s going on?”

Debbie’s giddiness faded, and she looked back at him nervously.

***

In the counseling office, Buffy reported for her appointment with Mr. Platt. She took a deep breath and went inside, closing the door behind herself. She found the counselor turned away again, looking out his open window, his signature cigarette held between his fingers.

“Two o’clock,” she announced. “Buffy Summers, right?”

He didn’t say anything in reply, which was okay by her because she really didn’t want him to. She reached out toward him in a cease-and-desist gesture.

“You don’t have to say anything,” she told him. “I’ll get right to it.” She began pacing behind her chair, looking at the floor. “To be honest, I really didn’t know what I was going to talk about today, but I’ve been thinking about what we talked about…a-a-about moving on?” She looked up with cautious hope in her eyes. “I think...I think I might be ready.”

Once again, Platt didn’t answer, but Buffy didn’t seem to notice. She dropped her gaze to her hands. “A few months ago, it was like, ‘I’ll never love again.’ It just... hurt too much.” A deep frown came over her face.

Buffy looked back up and began to walk again, this time with a more brightened expression. “But now...I’ve met someone. Someone who really seems to care about me, someone who…”

Buffy trailed off when she noticed Mr. Platt’s hand. The cigarette in it was burned all the way down to the filter, yet the ashes were still hanging there, never having been tapped off. She rushed to his chair.

She found Mr. Platt dead, his face and body severely mauled by a sharp-clawed beast.

***

Meanwhile, back in the supply room, Pete was seething with anger. He snatched up the empty jar and thrust it toward Debbie.

“So the bottle just jumped out of the cabinet and spilled on its own?”

Debbie shook her head. “O-O-Of course not. I-I-I was trying to get rid of it.”

“You were trying to get rid of it?”

“To help you. You know how you get.”

“How I get?” Pete demanded. Then he grabbed Debbie by her arms, causing her to whimper in fright. “I get the way I get because of you, Debbie! You and your stupid...grating...VOICE!!!”

Pete gave a roar of pain as his neck muscles tensed and then thickened and his veins began to bulge out. He jerked his head back and forth, whipping it around violently, as Debbie watched in terror. He screamed a final time then looked at Debbie with rage in his eyes, his transformation now complete. Pete shook Debbie hard.

“You’re the reason I started the formulas in the first place: to be the man you wanted!” Pete growled. “And you pay me back how? By whoring around with other guys and taunting me!”

“No! I don’t!” Debbie insisted through her frightened sobs. “I don’t even look!”

Pete let her go and then immediately backhanded her across the face, knocking her to the floor. She touched her face in shock but still stood back up to face him. Pete closed in.

“Is that something your shrink taught you, Debbie? Huh? Huh? To share? To communicate? To piss me off?!!”

He hit her again. When she hit the floor this time, she stayed down and merely cowered at his feet.

“Well, guess what?” Pete told her. “Even he’s not going to listen to your pathetic ramblings anymore. I’m all you’ve got, Debbie. Do you hear me? I’m all you’ve got!!!”

***

A short time later, Buffy and Giles and Willow and Faith were discussing the school counselor’s unfortunate death.

“The attack on Mr. Platt was especially brutal,” Giles said. “A ‘slice and dice’ I believe the coroner called it. Thankfully, though, he did confirm that Platt was killed shortly before Buffy found him.”

“Which means that he was killed during the day,” Faith supplied.

“Yes!” Willow cried out, raising her fist in elation. When she realized the others were giving her horrified looks, she lowered her hand. “Sorry. I got...I’ve just been...it’s horrible, horrible.”

“It’s okay, Will,” Buffy assured her. “We’re all glad Oz is off the hook.”

“Indeed,” Giles said before checking his watch. “Shouldn’t he be here by now? The sun will set at 5:30.”

***

Meanwhile, Oz was standing on the quad waiting, holding a folder of notes in his hands. He looked around one last time then started to head for the library. Debbie caught him just as he was about to leave.

“Sorry, I’m late,” she said, smiling. “Did you bring the notes?”

Despite her attempts to hide it, Oz noticed her black eye. “Yeah...um...you okay?” He held out the folder.

Debbie laughed and took the notes. “What? Oh, yeah...I’m such a klutz. I, um, I...”

“Fell down?” Oz prompted. “And hit your...eye?”

From around the corner, Pete watched the exchange intently.

Debbie laughed again. “Door knob,” she lamely supplied. “Um...thanks.”

As Debbie turned to go, Oz stopped her with his hand. “Hey, um, if you wanna talk...”

Debbie instantly shook her head and gave him a fake smile. “Thanks again for the notes.” At that, she hurried away.

“Yeah...” Oz said worriedly.

Then he looked up at the sky and quickly headed for the library. From his hiding place, Pete turned around and stalked off.

***

Back in the library, Giles was continuing the discussion about the creature that attacked Mr. Platt.

“Our task now,” he said, “is to determine what sort of killer we are dealing with. Clearly, we’re looking for a depraved, sadistic animal.”

“Present,” Oz chimed in as he came in.

Willow smiled broadly, jumped to her feet, and ran to him, pushing Giles aside in her eagerness to reach him.

“Hey, I may be a cold-blooded jelly donut,” he deadpanned, “but my timing is impeccable.”

“But you aren’t!” Willow told him excitedly. “I-I-It’s a kill-in-the-day monster! A hundred percent for sure.”

Oz smiled in relief. “Okay.”

“Uh, I wish we had time to celebrate properly,” Giles interjected. “However, we have two victims: Jeff Orkin and now Platt. Perhaps there is something they had in common.”

“Missing internal organs?” Faith suggested.

“Besides that,” Giles replied.

“Debbie,” Oz announced. When the others looked at him expectantly, he said, “Well, victim number one, Jeff. He was in jazz band with us. They used to horse around.”

“And Debbie knew Platt, too,” Buffy added. “She was seeing him and was way vocal about not having love for the guy.”

“Now add this and stir,” Oz said. “I just saw Debbie a minute ago sporting a nasty black eye.”

“Okay, so pretend Debbie wanted Platt dead,” Willow offered. “Maybe he fought back.”

Buffy shook her head. “No, I don’t think so. I’m thinking Pete may be the one doling out the punishment.”

“We should find them both immediately,” Giles ordered.

“Well, Debbie was in the quad a few minutes ago,” Oz said.

“All right then,” Giles said, “we’ll split up. Um, Faith, you and I will team up. Willow, stick with Buffy.”

Willow gave her boyfriend a saddened look and then followed the others out.

“And I’ll...go lock myself in the cage,” Oz said.

***

Moments later, Buffy and Willow found Debbie in the girls’ locker room. She was looking in the mirror, applying makeup, in an attempt to hide her black eye.

“It’s tricky, covering a fresh shiner like that,” Buffy said as she walked over. “You know what works?”

“What?” Debbie said, putting away her makeup.

“Don’t get hit,” Buffy said. She pinned Debbie with a stare. “What’s going on, Debbie? I’ll bet the farm you know.”

Debbie shook her head. “You’re wrong. I don’t know anything.”

“I don’t have time to play ‘I have a secret’,” Buffy told her sternly. “People are dying here!”

Debbie looked at Buffy and then at Willow. “It...it’s not his fault. I mean, he’s not himself when he gets like this.”

“You mean Pete,” Buffy prompted.

“I-I-It’s me. I make him crazy. He-he just does what he does because he loves me too much.”

“Pete’s not like other guys, is he, Debbie?” Buffy asked knowingly.

When she realized how much Buffy and Willow seemed to know, Debbie got frightened. She grabbed her purse and started to leave. “I-I-I’ve gotta go.”

Buffy grabbed her and stopped her. “You have to talk to us. We can’t help you until you do.”

“I didn’t ask for your help!” Debbie shot back.

“Well, when are you going to?” Willow said. “I mean, if Pete kills you, it’ll pretty much be too late.”

“Debbie, we’re running out of time,” Buffy said. “Where can we find him?”

“I-I-I don't know,” she answered.

“You’re lying,” Buffy said.

Debbie tried to take a brave stance. “What if I am? What are you gonna do about it?”

“Wrong question,” Willow said as Buffy took Debbie by the arm and pushed her up against the sink in front of the mirror.

“Look at yourself,” Buffy said. “Why are you protecting him? Anybody who really loved you couldn’t do this to you.”

Debbie took a few steps away then turned around to face them. “Would they take him some place?”

“Probably,” Buffy said.

Debbie began to cry. “I could never do that to him. I’m his everything!”

“Great,” Buffy said disgustedly. “So what...you two live out your Grimm fairy tale? Two people are dead! Who’s gonna be next?”

Debbie just shook her head and said nothing.

***

Back in the library, Oz was alone in the cage, pacing, waiting to change. Just then, the door opened, and Pete walked in. He went right up to the cage.

“Since when do you touch my girl?” Pete said furiously as he grabbed the cage.

“Hey, Pete,” Oz said. “This is kind of a bad time.”

“Well, I guess you didn’t think about that when you put the moves on Debbie!” he accused, rattling the cage door.

Oz glanced briefly at the window before turning back to Pete. “We talked, yeah, but it was move-free.”

Pete rattled the cage even harder.

“About this cage?” Oz warned. “When that sun sets...”

“You won’t be alive to see it!” Pete promised before stepping back, rage pouring from him.

“I’m serious,” Oz said. “Something’s gonna happen that you...probably won’t believe.”

Pete screamed and whipped his head around as he transformed into his violent alter ego. When the change was complete, he looked at Oz with murder in his eyes.

“Or...you might,” Oz said simply as he took a step back.

Pete lunged at the cage and seized the door. He yanked at it a few times, and it suddenly broke free. He hurled it aside and roared at Oz. Then he ran into the cage, grabbed Oz, and threw him out the door and onto the floor.

Pete picked Oz up and raised him over his head then slammed him down onto the wooden table. It smashed under the strain of the impact. Pete immediately yanked Oz back up and punched him hard in the face. Then he grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him hard.

“Did you kiss that whore?” Pete snarled. “Huh? Did she like it?”

He lifted Oz again and flung him across the room onto the stairs. When Pete came at him again, Oz raised his leg and kicked him away, sending Pete sliding across the floor. Oz turned and looked at the window again, this time seeing that the sun had set. He looked over at Pete, who was just now getting to his feet.

“Time’s up,” Oz told him. “Rules change.”

Oz morphed into his werewolf form and growled, baring his teeth at Pete. He leaped onto Pete, and they started to wrestle on the floor. When the fight caused them to crash into the stairs, Oz was finally able to snap his jaws around Pete’s arm. He bit down hard, making Pete scream out in agony.

***

In the meantime, Buffy and Willow were leading the traumatized Debbie along the hallway. When they heard Pete’s scream, they all took off for the library. Giles and Faith soon joined them from another corridor.

“What was that?” Giles asked as they dashed away.

***

Seconds later, Buffy and the others burst through the library doors. In a flash, they took in the broken cage and then the two fighting on the stairs. Oz still had his jaws clamped on Pete’s arm, but Pete was pummeling Oz with repeated gut punches.

“Get the dart gun!” Giles yelled.

Buffy ran behind the counter and grabbed the tranquilizer gun. “Got it!” she cried out before cocking it and taking aim at Pete.

Just as Buffy pulled the trigger, Debbie shoved Buffy aside. “Pete, watch out!”

The dart sailed past Pete and Oz and embedded in the distant wall.

Oblivious to the whole affair, Pete flipped Oz and slammed him on the floor, making Oz finally release Pete’s arm. Now free, Pete dashed from the room via the stacks. Oz, on the other hand, growled and blew right past Buffy and the others and out of the library.

Buffy tossed the rifle to Faith. “You get the wolf!”

“Got it!” Faith said before running out of the library with Willow close behind.

“Wait!” Giles cried out after Faith. “You’ll need to reload!” He grabbed a handful of darts from behind the counter and ran after Faith and Willow.

When Buffy went in the opposite direction after Pete, Debbie looked confused about what to do. She looked at the stacks then turned and ran out the main entrance.

***

At an intersection of hallways, Pete came running through a set of doors, clutching at his wounded arm. He glanced back, knowing that someone was pursuing him. He looked frantically for an escape route and found it in a window high above a bank of lockers. He leaped on top of the lockers and crawled through the small window, leaving streaks of blood on the wall.

Seconds later, Buffy skidded into the intersection. She looked in all directions but didn’t see Pete anywhere.

***

Elsewhere in the building, werewolf Oz came bounding around a corner and ran down the hall. Faith and Willow and Giles were right behind him in hot pursuit.

***

Meanwhile, in the supply room, Debbie was sitting on the floor, leaning against a crate, waiting for Pete to show up. When he came in, she jumped up and ran to him.

“Pete! You’re all right! God, you’re all right!”

She threw her arms around him and hugged him tightly, but he didn’t hug her back.

“She almost shot you,” Debbie told him. “Did you see? I stopped her.”

She pulled out of the hug and looked at Pete.

“You have to leave, get out of Sunnydale,” she told him. “She knows.”

“And how did she know, Debbie?” Pete said menacingly. “Did you run your big mouth?”

Frightened, Debbie took a step back. “No! She just knew. It seemed like she just knew.”

“So you filled in the blanks!” he accused before shoving her to the floor.

“No!” Debbie instantly denied. “No!”

Pete roared and lunged at Debbie. She screamed in terror.

***

In a nearby hallway, Buffy heard Debbie’s scream. She turned and ran in that direction.

***

In the student lounge, Oz came leaping down the stairs, with Faith right behind him. When Oz stopped by the vending machine, Faith started to rush him, tranq gun in hand.

“Faith! Wait!” Giles shouted, stopping the slayer in her tracks.

“What?!” she demanded impatiently.

“The gun has to be reloaded,” Giles said, panting breathlessly, as he and Willow came over.

“Do it,” Faith said, tossing the gun to Giles.

When Faith turned back around, Oz jumped her, knocking her to the floor. Willow screamed.

***

Buffy found her way to the supply room. She listened intently at the door then forced it open. Inside it was dimly-lit and quiet. She slipped in cautiously.

She looked around and soon found Debbie on the floor in the back. She rushed over to check her out. Debbie’s neck had bruises and claw marks on it as if she’d been violently strangled, and Buffy couldn’t feel a pulse.

“Oh, God...” Buffy said, pulling her hand away.

Just then, Pete grabbed Buffy from behind and threw her across the room and into the stack of crates there. She hit them hard and then rolled onto the floor. Pete smiled cruelly as he closed in on the dazed slayer.

***

In the lounge, Faith was on the floor with Oz on top of her, trying desperately to keep him from biting her. Nearby, Giles was struggling to get the dart gun reloaded and ready.

“Where’s the gun?!” Faith screamed. “Where’s the gun?!!!”

Willow ran over and grabbed Oz’s tail. “Get off her!” Willow shouted as she tugged him away from Faith. Then she took off down the hall with Oz chasing right after her.

“Get the gun!” Willow cried out as she ran. “Hurry!”

As Faith scrambled to her feet, Giles finally finished loading the gun. He took aim and shot, hitting Oz right in his rear-end. The werewolf yelped, whimpered for a moment, then fell unconscious.

Faith turned to Giles. “You and Willow get wolf-boy back to his cage. I’ve got to go help Buffy.” Giles nodded, and Faith took off.

***

In the supply room, Buffy was still on the floor by the crates, being kicked mercilessly by Pete.

“You’re all...” Kick. “...the same!” Kick. “All...” Kick. “...the...” Kick. “...same!” Kick. Kick. Kick.

When Pete stopped, Buffy groaned and tried to crawl away. Pete picked her up and flung her across the room, where she slammed into the metal rack near Debbie’s body, sending bottles and jars crashing to the floor.

Before Buffy could recover, Pete was on her, wrapping his clawed hands tightly around her neck. Buffy pulled uselessly at his fingers as he began to squeeze the life from her. She kicked and pushed and flailed about, but could not shake him away. She reached blindly around herself until her hand found the top of a broken bottle. Just as she was about to lose consciousness, she gripped the glass in her fist and then swung the jagged end directly into Pete’s neck.

Pete’s eyes went wide, and he gave a wet gurgle as he released Buffy’s neck to reach for his own. As Pete’s blood began streaming down her arm, Buffy gasped and let go of the bottle. She tried to scoot back, but Pete had her legs pinned. She watched in horror as he reverted to his human self, stared at her in shock and betrayal as he clutched at his cut throat, then collapsed on top of her.

“Oh God, Oh God, Oh God...” Buffy repeated maniacally as she pushed Pete off her body, flipping him onto his back in the process. She scrambled backwards into the corner past Debbie’s body. Then she turned away and faced the corner, unable to bear the sight of Pete’s bloody form. She pulled her knees against her chest and wrapped her arms tightly around her legs as if she were trying to pull herself into an impenetrable ball. She began to cry and rock in place.

***

Moments later, Faith rushed in. She saw Pete’s body first, a large pool of blood surrounding him amidst the broken bottles and jars.

“Oh God...” Faith whispered before a whimper from the corner drew her attention. “Buffy!”

Faith ran over to the distraught slayer and knelt beside her. She called her name again, but Buffy didn’t acknowledge Faith’s presence. Faith reached out and stopped Buffy’s rocking and slowly made the crying slayer uncurl herself.

Tears were rolling down Buffy’s blood-spattered face. She wouldn’t meet Faith’s eyes. She just shook her head over and over, repeating, “I didn’t mean to...I didn’t mean to...”

Faith gently turned Buffy’s face toward hers so that she could look at the blonde. When Buffy finally met Faith’s concerned gaze, she stopped her rant, her body trembling as she grabbed Faith’s arms.

“I killed him,” Buffy confessed in a quiet and tortured voice. “I...” She didn’t finish her statement. Instead, she fell sobbing against Faith’s chest.

Not knowing what else to do, Faith wrapped her arms around Buffy and pulled her close. “It’ll be okay,” Faith whispered, her own eyes filling with tears. “I’ve got you.”

***

Moments later, Giles arrived on the scene. He came running up just as Faith was leading the traumatized Buffy out of the supply room.

“Good God!” he exclaimed when he saw the two slayers covered in blood. With Faith’s arm wrapped around her, Buffy clung to Faith’s body; she didn’t even seem to register that Giles was there. “Are you girls all right?” he asked frantically.

Faith ignored the question and said, “She had to do it, Giles.”

His eyes widened in realization, and he shot a glance at the supply room. Faith grabbed his arm, bringing his attention back to her. She looked her watcher right in the eyes.

“She had to do it,” Faith repeated, more slowly this time. “So you call the Council, you do whatever you gotta do, but you make this go away.”

The two stared at each other for a long moment before Giles finally nodded in acquiescence. Faith nodded back and said, “I’m taking Buffy home.”

As Giles watched Faith lead Buffy away, his shoulders drooped, and he let out a defeated sigh. “Heaven help us,” he whispered.


TO BE CONTINUED IN PART O4...

 


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