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Once again, I do not own any of the characters.  Joss Whedon owns all of them in this chapter.  Hope you guys enjoy.  And thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for reviewing the story!  I love the feedback.  Catch ya on the flipside!




The full moon shone down on the ground below, stars twinkling in the background.  The night air was cool as it whipped through the silence of the cemetery.  Not a sound was heard, not even the sound of the nightly crickets.  This was a place reeking of death – both of the dead and the undead. 


Faith crept through it, Oz close behind her.  Neither of them uttered a word and their footsteps were soundless.  For a person who had not patrolled in a few years, Faith was as stealthy as ever.  Even more so.  There used to be a time when she didn’t care about being quiet.  When the fight was the only thing that mattered.


But that had changed. 


Now, she was the protector of the city.  There was no more Buffy here to cover up when Faith slacked off.  No, she was the only one.  And she had to do everything possible to protect herself and others.


They stopped suddenly in front of a newly dug grave.  Faith turned to Oz, her eyebrow raised.  “Is this the one?”


Oz nodded as he looked at the name.  He said nothing and his silence slightly unnerved Faith.  She had never known about the quiet guitar player, only that he had loved Willow.  But other than that…she didn’t know him.


Faith sighed as she leaned against a headstone, waiting for the vampire to rise.  She looked up at the sky, enjoying the sight of the stars and moon.  It’s the first time I’ve actually paid attention to the stars.  They’re a helluva lot more beautiful than I remember.  Maybe I just never cared – I was too busy going through my screwed up life to care.


“How long do you think it’ll be before he rises?”


Faith jumped, pulled out of her thoughts at Oz’s words.  She sat in silence before the question finally registered in her mind.  She shrugged.  “Dunno.  Could be a couple minutes, could be a couple hours.  I have nothing else to do tonight.”


“Do you miss her?”  Faith asked suddenly, turning to Oz.  Oz stared at her, not answering.  “Do you miss Willow?”


Oz was silent for a moment.  “Yeah, I do.  Everyday.  Sometimes I think I could have saved her.  But I wasn’t part of her life anymore.  Our time together was over and done with.  But still…I miss her.”


“Do you know how they died?”  Faith asked quietly, eyes curious.  “B never told me.  Figured it was best not to ask, with all the shit she’s dealt with.”


Oz shook his head.  “She never said how.  And I didn’t ask.  If I really want to know I could look it up but right now, that’s not important.”


Faith looked down, idly playing with a stake she had pulled from her sleeve, and said slowly, “Do you know where B is?  She never told me where she was going.”


“I think she needs to be that way,” Oz said.  “She needs to be on her own for awhile, in a place where she doesn’t have any connections to anyone else.  She’s hurt, Faith, more than I’ve ever seen before.  She needs to be distanced for awhile.”


Faith nodded, falling back into her thoughts once more.  But before she could go too far, a vampire jumped out of the bushes, snarling as he leapt for her.  She jumped into action, springing forward into a jump kick.  The vampire stumbled back, only to be knocked down by a half-morphed Oz.  Faith stood in stunned silence for a moment before stepping forward to help him.


But at that moment, a hand sprung up from the fresh grave and grabbed her around the ankle. 


“Dammit!” Faith swore as she hit the ground, kicking her other leg back.  The hand let go of her and a moment later the new vampire stumbled out of his grave, spraying dirt everywhere.  Faith spared a brief glance for Oz but once she saw that he was faring alright, she turned back to the vampire in front of her.


“Didn’t know they brought your first meal to you,” the vamp growled, snapping at her.  Faith rolled her eyes.


“You’re either an idiot or…no, you’re just an idiot.”


The vampire growled and lunged for her.  Faith leapt forward to meet him, spinning into a butterfly kick.  He went down, hard.  She didn’t let him recover, though, instead grabbing the stake she had dropped and bringing it down into her heart.


As soon as the stake hit his heart, Faith watched in horror as it changed into someone different.  He was familiar, with his nervous and pain filled eyes and his suit.  It was the helper of the Mayor.  The first person she had killed.


“Fuck,” Faith whispered, staring down at him.  Blood starting flowing from the wound, covering the ground around her.  “God, no!”


Faith pulled the stake out, trying to cover the wound with her hands.  It only resulted in the blood flowing on her hands, dirtying her skin.  The man opened his mouth to talk but blood dripped from the side of his mouth.


“Help me…”


Faith stared at him, old fears suddenly overtaking her.  She couldn’t control herself, couldn’t stop herself.  She had killed someone.  KILLED.  She could never be forgiven from that.  Not –


The body disappeared in a cloud of ashes, leaving no trace of the blood behind.  Faith looked at her hands and was shocked to see nothing was there.  No blood, no nothing.  Just a few ashes lying on the ground.


Faith pulled herself out of her shock and turned just in time to see Oz put a stake in the heart of the other vampire.  She watched, once again, as the body changed.  Oz lost his wolf form, his hands trembling as he held the person in front of him.


“Oz?  Baby?”  Willow asked, blood dripping down the front of her dress.  Her eyes were filled with pain and confusion as she slowly slipped to the ground.  Oz grabbed onto her, his form changing as he struggled to keep control.


“I thought you loved me,” she whispered before turning into ashes.  Oz looked at the ashes in shock.  He once again gained complete control of his human form, his clothes in tatters around his body.  He looked at Faith and, in an unspoken agreement, the two turned and left the cemetery.


But before they left, Faith turned around and stared at the endless darkness.  “Ya think you can beat us that easily, you asshole?  We won’t fall for your stupid tricks.  You don’t know what you’re up against – we will not let you beat us.”


She turned around again and the two left the cemetery.  Neither of them noticed the ashes slowly rising in the arm, swirling around in a small whirlwind.  Neither of them saw the shadowy figure step away from a crypt and watch their retreating backs.


He beckoned towards the ashes and they flew to him.  The ashes landed in his hand and he put them in a small pouch around his waist.  Slime dripped from his clawed fingertips as he scratched them across the crypt.  His fanged mouth twisted into smirk as they disappeared from the cemetery.


“No.  You don’t know what you’re up against.  Your world is coming to an end.  And you’re not going to be ready for the final battle, Slayer.”