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Choosing - Chosen -5- A House of Cards

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Author: JoDi
Title: Chosen -5- A House of Cards
Fandom: BtVS
Disclaimer:
See contents for disclaimer and links to all chapters
Summary: Activating all the potentials has an unforeseen effect on Buffy and we find out what it really means to be Chosen.

A House of Cards

**The flames were roaring all around her, the crackling of burning timber and crashes of burnt beams collapsing under the weight they had been designed to support drowning out the noises of the fight. The demon was a part of the flames and of the night, especially powerful in a blaze that added heat to its fire.

The blades in her hands no match for the creatures reach, cursing the summoner who had bought her adversary into this dimension, she ducked and weaved around the demon’s clumsy blows, finally managing to sink her blades into it’s gritty flesh. Even as its flames were extinguished and the demon defeated, the knives melted into pools of metal. Destroyed by the inferno.

She tried to catch her breath in the hot, oxygen starved air, the smoke stinging her wounds as she swayed, still reeling from the battle. There was no chance of escape**


Buffy woke up choking in attempts to breathe, and looked in confusion at her surroundings. Where were the majestic pillars? The tiled floors? More importantly, where were the fires? For a moment the room seemed completely alien, then her mind reorganized, sending her dreams… memories of ancient Greece back into her subconscious.

Thoughts and feelings that were both new and so old she couldn’t trace their origins settled down. Her breakdown the night before, or technically earlier this morning, had released the floodgates of memories. By no longer trying to repress the thoughts of her deaths she had welcomed her previous lives into her subconscious.

The urge to fight that had receded in her misery now returned with a vengeance. She went down to Angel’s flat in the basement and closed her eyes in the centre of his training mats. She started with a simple Tai Chi routine, or simple for a slayer anyway; the achingly slow moves often impossible to those without enhanced flexibility and strength.

But the low burn in her muscles wasn’t enough to satisfy the desire to push herself, adrenaline was still flowing through her system. She sped up into more vicious kicks, jumps and punches.

Fighting imaginary adversaries. Speeding up the moves until she was just a blur in the midst of flailing limbs. The minutes, hours melted away as she fought her demons. Literally battling the things that had caused each of her deaths.

~ ~ ~

That was how Faith found her; engrossed in her deadly dance. Some of the moves she was pulling off were not only impossible for a human to contemplate attempting, but daunting for a slayer.

The presence of the other slayer niggled on the edge of Buffy’s senses, which in her current state were on full alert. It snapped her out of her imaginary battle and her moves stilled from frenzied fighting into complete stillness in an impossibly short period of time. Settling into a stance that Faith remembered well, it was both a challenge and an invitation.

Buffy stood in the classic ready position that she had assumed every time the two slayers had sparred… or fought… in a flash she saw Buffy clad in leather a mocking smirk on her face and empty eyes taunting her. Faith shuddered and came back to the present.

There was no threat in this Buffy’s face, she looked completely calm, standing with her eyes closed. As if completely unaware that there was anyone else in the room. But Faith wasn’t going to fall for that.

She threw the First punch, like Buffy had wanted her to. But it wasn’t out of any desire to place blame for their fight on the younger slayer, she wanted to give the other girl the chance to refuse. To walk away from a fight they both knew Faith couldn’t win.

But Faith could never resist a challenge, especially when it came to sparring with Buffy; something they hadn’t done in the years after she’d betrayed the blonde. It had seemed to be so entwined with the short time when they were such good friends; when they’d done everything together. In the past four years they’d only fought in anger.

A smile of relief crossed Buffys face as Faiths first hit landed on her jaw, glad to have a real fight to ease the building tension she’d been feeling without anything to slay. And then they were dancing around each other, fighting like they had planned how to miss each other by millimeters with each attack, their offensive and defensive moves balancing one another out.

As Faith kicked at Buffy’s head with a roundhouse, she ducked and swept her leg to knock down her partner, who jumped and flipped out of Buffy’s path. Their years of fighting allowed them to anticipate each others next move, slayer-quick reflexes forcing their bodies into well trained postures.

Occasionally one would slip through the other’s defenses, landing powerful blows that would send the other flying back. They got lost in the fight. In the strikes and parries, the ache of their sore muscles and forming bruises adding to the satisfaction of calming the instinct that told them to slay.

~ ~ ~

Bloodied and sweating they finally finished their fight. Buffy’s bruises were already healing, the split on her lip visibly closing and knitting together. Faith on the other hand without the extra fast healing that Buffy had recently acquired, was still feeling the soreness of some of Buffy’s throws and had a streak of blood down her face from a cut on her forehead. She stood breathing heavily in the centre of the room, fully exhausted by the sparring session as Buffy started stretching out her tired muscles.

“Wow Buff, you’ve really got that super-slayerness working for you. I don’t think I even tired you out.”

Buffy moved through the apartment to grab a bottle of water. “Yeah” she thought back to everything that had come with her newly acquired powers. The painful memories of her past, the long extended future that she could no longer escape… it was hard for Buffy to see a good side.

Disappointed by Buffy’s sullen response, Faith turned away; starting to warm down herself. It wasn’t as if she could expect their past to be forgotten, but after the night of comfortable silence on the roof, she had hoped they could try to work through things.

“You’ve definitely proved you don’t need help slaying. Angel’s been here four years and you emptied the city in a week.”

Buffy caught the hint in that sentence and looked sharply at the girl. In her tone she could hear Faiths acceptance, reluctant as it may be, that Buffy no longer needed her help.

What if she isn’t coming?

She realized that no-one had asked. She had just assumed Faith would be coming with them to the Hellmouth. For some reason the thought of Faith not being there seemed terrible.

She saw how fragile their relationship still was; a house of cards ready to topple in the slightest breeze.

“I still need all the help I can get.”

Faith frowned at the inflections in Buffy’s voice. This wasn’t about slaying… She forced herself to keep the hope in her face hidden from Buffy. She had harmed the Scoobies too much to expect her recent help to absolve her of all sins.

“Are you coming?”

Neither of them needed to clarify what Buffy meant. The hopeful tone was all the convincing Faith needed. She nodded, a subtle gesture which meant just as much to one slayer as it did the other, before making her way to the exit.

“You wanna join my slayers road trip?”

Faith turned, finally making eye contact with Buffy in her shock. The chosen one had made it clear that she wanted to take a lone slaying trip across the country, while the others flew to sort out their lives, alone.

It was the only thing Buffy had even discussed with her friends the previous week; she would travel across the country cleaning out the cities of all ‘sub terrestrials’ along the way. She looked searchingly into Buffy’s green eyes.

“Sure” She tried to sound nonchalant, but the hope came out in her tone... the longing in her eyes for a place to belong “If you want me there.”

Buffy had insisted on her solo trip to give her more time to deal with her feelings towards her friends. She knew that she also needed the time to learn to use her enhanced powers alone before she had others tagging along as well.

When she had told them about the trip she had just wanted to get away from them, to continue to loose herself in the fight after the dwindling demon population of LA was destroyed. Her weeks slaying had been in a fighting frenzy where she had completely given into her more demonic side, allowing it to wipe her consciousness of everything but the kill.

She had to learn to control the beast inside her. Trying again to convince her friends of the validity of her plan had been difficult last night.

** “Are you sure you have to do this.”

“Think about how many lives I’d save doing vamp extermination from coast to coast, you know it’s the best plan”

Her friends were still worried for her sanity. She had only just started talking to them properly at all.

“I get it Buff, but why can’t someone come with?”

“Xand, you have to pick out a house and do it up, you’re gonna have to go up there in the next few days to start house hunting.”

Willow smiled sadly at her friend, she knew there was no way to move Buffy on an issue that she was this insistent on. Even ‘resolve face’ didn’t work well against Buffy’s stubbornness. Xander reluctantly saw this point but still mulled over the plan sulkily.

“Why can’t I come?” she barely even saw her sisters face, the glow around her distracting from her sisters visage.

“It’s not safe Dawn. Besides, you need to start summer school if you want to catch up in time.”

“You need someone to watch your back Buff. G-man with all you’re watchery duties, you should go with her”

Buffy looked up in horror at the idea that Giles would come with her. He was even more of a liability than the others, having been out of the game for a while and not exactly getting younger in his retirement. Giles saw the look on his slayers face and cursed himself for the destruction of their close relationship.

It seemed his attempt on Spikes unlife had destroyed their tenuous hold on their friendship. It might take years to rebuild, but for the present, he would give her what she seemed to need.

“Don’t call me that” Giles absentmindedly muttered as he sought for an appropriate reason to once again leave his slayer alone “I will have to sort out acquiring a library, but I think that Buffy is well able to do this alone”

Buffy smiled gratefully at the older man. He, as ever, understood far better than her friends when she needed to be forced and when to let things go. Perhaps it was because his training helped him understand the slayer side of her better. **


Buffy once again thanked her stars that the others still listened to Giles, allowing her to shorten what could have been an endless discussion. The realization that Faith hadn’t been sure of her invitation to come with them, or thinking back, that they had even thought about Faith’s involvement was a wake up call to her fellow slayer’s insecurities.

Buffy hadn’t been thinking enough about the near future to wonder if her friends had even asked Faith along. She had just assumed her fellow slayer would be there. And after last night she knew she needed the other slayer more than ever.

Needed someone that understood what if felt like to have a thing within you desperate to kill.

Needed someone who stood a chance in bringing her down if that thing ever truly came out to play.

She needed to reassure Faith that she was wanted and was in no way a liability. She flashed a winning smile.

Should I take her with me?

“Wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Continue to Chosen -6- Coffee Memories

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