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In Pieces

By Ariel Dawn

Summary: So in the last chapter, both Buffy and Faith fell to the ground, passing out…what do you think happens?

Disclaimer: I told this guy in the local comic book store that I was addicted to Joss Whedon. I don’t think he realised just how much.

Author’s note: Thanks to BTL for the beta job.

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Chapter 11: Using

The throbbing in her head and the queasiness in her tummy wasn’t really making consciousness welcoming, but Buffy felt compelled to open her eyes. She knew in an instant that something was wrong. Or rather, right.

Blond hair had fallen over her eyes, and she felt the familiar sensation of her own body. She experimented with her muscles, revelling in the fact that she must be in her own body.

Of course, when she did open her eyes she wasn’t exactly smiling. She had thought that Faith was in the capable hands of Willow. Not Riley Finn.

“Faith?” he asked sweetly.

Buffy briefly thought that it was only fair to tell Riley that he once again had it wrong, but it seemed better to let him believe that she was Faith. The truth would only lead to apologies and wasted time with a soon to be very ex boyfriend.

“Are you alright?” Riley asked, helping her back up on her feet.

Buffy had no idea what Faith had been doing prior to the fainting, but she knew that she didn’t want to be anywhere on the dance floor with Riley.

“Five by five,” Buffy responded in her best Faith like tone. “I was just on my way to see if Willow wanted to go.”

Riley looked into her eyes, which Buffy was very certain had turned green and wondered if he was going to figure it out.

“Right, well I’ll be on my way, let me know when Buffy starts to inhabit that body again, will you?”

Buffy sighed as Riley walked away, and stepped towards the two witches who were still smooching on the couch.

“I’m sorry to break up the smooch fest Wills, but I have a slight case of being in my own body again,” the Slayer said as calmly as she could. The fact was that she was really having a hard time not shouting it out for the whole room to hear. This was news of the good in Buffy world.

A look of annoyance passed over Willow’s face. “Faith,” she complained. “You really think I’m going to believe you?”

“Willow!”

The red headed witch sighed. “Fine. What frightens me the most?”

Skill testing questions aside, this one was pretty lame, Buffy decided. “You have frog fear, and have a recurring nightmare that you have to sing Madame Butterfly on stage. Can we get on with this? Faith is out there, full on slayer strength and free. Okay, probably not free, ‘cause I was in Cordelia’s apartment when I switched.”

“You were in Cordy’s apartment? Is it nice?” Willow asked.

“She has a ghost for a roommate.”

“Typical,” snorted Willow sarcastically. “Are you sure it’s you?”

“Her eyes are green,” Tara noted.

Willow leaned forward on the couch to make sure it was true.

“Buffy?” Willow questioned.

“Yes!” Buffy groaned. “Undo the bind! Give me back my slayer strength!”

“Well not here! Are you mad?” Willow asked, getting up off the couch.

“The Bronze isn’t the best place to concentrate on casting,” Tara confirmed.

“Can we just go?” Buffy responded impatiently, grabbing Willow and Tara by the hands and leading them away from the couches.

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Faith looked up to see a whole bunch of people looking down at her. She’d met them all, but she didn’t really feel comfortable. Last she checked they all didn’t like her very much.

“Buffy?” Angel asked.

Faith groaned and tried to sit up. “What happened? I feel like road kill.”

“You fell over. So much for slayer… whatever,” said Cordelia Chase.

“Great, well I’m done here.” Faith made to get up off the couch. “I’ll just go back to Sunnydale and continue acting like Faith.”

“Hold on!” cried Cordelia. “You are just going to give up?”

“Yeah,” Faith responded. “I’m trying to be Faith like remember?”

Faith looked at each of the people in the room and wondered if they were going to buy it. She wished that they’d just let her go. She might have slayer strength again, but two vampires in a enclosed space… plus she had the feeling that she didn’t really want to fight her way out of there.

“I think you should go,” Anya mentioned, stepping back from the couch. “Go.”

Faith moved off the couch and walked towards the door. She really didn’t like the way that Anya was looking at her. It was possible that Anya knew that she’d switched back, or maybe it was just how the conversation with Buffy was going.

Wesley opened the door to the apartment and watched silently as Faith walked out the door. The Slayer really tried to keep her heartbeat in check. Only when she was safely on the pavement of the sidewalk outside did she finally draw a relieved breath. She quickly scanned the street, up and down, wondering what her next move was going to be.

Sunnydale was north, therefore, she would go south.

“What do you think you are doing?” came a sexy English accent behind her, as fingers gripped her arm. “Faith.”

Faith turned to look at William the Bloody and cringed. He knew.

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The bathroom of the Bronze proved to be just ideal for the removal of the spells that kept Buffy’s body from exerting its power.

“What do you want to do now?” Willow asked. “We have no idea where Faith is.”

“I know where I was last. She couldn’t have gotten too far. Plus Spike is with her. I’m hoping that he’ll have noticed the change,” Buffy responded. “Now all I need is a ride to LA.”

The three girls exited the bathroom, searching for a solution to Buffy’s problem. Buffy didn’t drive and therefore it was a little more complicated than borrowing a car.

“What about Spike?” Tara asked.

“He’s already in LA, with what used to be me. I think I’ve already used that gift house.”

“Gift horse,” Willow corrected.

“Your mom’s car?” Tara suggested again.

“In the shop, again, my fault, long story. I think that’s the last time she’s ever going to even entertain teaching me to drive. Behold the pedestrianism.”

“Riley?” Willow finally suggested.

“No good, Wills,” Buffy shot the suggestion down.

Unfortunately it was too late and Buffy’s soon to be former boyfriend had heard Willow.

He sauntered over from the bar.

“My ears are burning,” he said with a forced smile on his face.

“Are you too drunk to drive?” Buffy asked, eyeing what looked like a rum and coke in his hand.

“Been drinking coke all night, just in case I was needed. Am I needed?” he asked hopefully.

Buffy hated to be doing it, but she sighed and resigned herself to using him for his ability to drive and his car.

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She stared directly ahead as Riley drove. He still hadn’t figured it out. Even a moron should have realised something when Willow had told him that she’d released this slayer from the magical leash and that she wasn‘t coming.

“Why are we going to see Buffy?” he asked. “Why is she in LA?”

“She needs help. And she went to LA to talk to Anya.”

“What is Anya doing in LA?”

“Visiting Cordelia,” Buffy sighed. She just hoped that Spike and Angel had the common sense to tie Faith up. She really hoped that Spike had realised what had happened, because with all the craptitude that was floating around, Buffy didn’t think that she could handle the dusting of her vampire. Yeah, it was crap. She felt like crap for using Riley, for not being truthful with Spike while they had all that time together, for tempting Xander and therefore breaking up Anya and Xander, and she felt like crap just in general, an after feeling from the passing out.

The pair of demon fighters lapsed into silence once again and Buffy wondered if she should just get it over with, the official breaking up, or if she should wait until they were in LA and she didn’t need him anymore. Either way, it felt really mean to do that to him, when he was just trying to help out. It wasn’t his fault really, that he was blind and oblivious. He was a male after all. Spike only figured it out because he was a vampire, and acutely attuned to his only predator.

Nothing to do with the whole attraction thing.

She’d just have to come up with a good reason to go back to Sunnydale in Spike’s car. Yes, that was the only decent thing to do.

The break up was inevitable, but it was best to do it at home, not in LA.

“Is everything okay, Faith?” Riley asked, keeping his eyes on the road like a good driver.

“Five by five,” Buffy muttered, not willing to give up the fact that she was Buffy just yet. They had two hours of driving ahead of them.

“Do you think Buffy is in trouble?” Riley asked.

“Yeah, that would be terrible,” Buffy moaned. “No, I don’t think Buffy is in trouble.”

“That’s good,” he responded. “Look, I’m sorry about the grabbing earlier. I’m just, frustrated about this whole situation. When you first switched and I didn’t know, and you made me think that everything was alright…and then you switched back, but not quite…it just seems that I’ve been without my girlfriend for ages.”

“When really,” Buffy noted, “It’s only been a couple of days.”

“It feels longer. I don’t like it when she’s angry at me. Especially when it’s not at all my fault. How was I supposed to know that you were in her body? I can’t tell. I’m only human.”

“I guess, being her boyfriend, she thought that you would just know. Maybe she expected some kind of connection between you two, something that transcended regular humanness. Especially seeing as two other people knew right away.”

“Don’t get me started on the vampire,” Riley almost growled. “He’s been stalking Buffy for ages. He’s not as reformed as she thinks he is. He’s just looking for a way to get that chip out so he can chew on her neck.”

“Spike doesn’t chew necks,” Buffy laughed.

“Whatever, you know what I mean. You have to think it’s a little peculiar that he’s hanging out with the one girl in all the world that’s meant to hunt him down. Doesn’t that strike you as odd?”

Buffy nodded her head. Yes, it was odd, but she’d gotten so used to Spike now that any other way would seem equally as odd.

“I’m waiting for the day she finally reaches the breaking point and dusts him. I’d do it myself, but I’m already in hot water on the boyfriend front. I don’t want to take away her vamp puppy.”

“What if she never does reach the breaking point?” Buffy inquired.

“I guess I’ll have to deal with that too.” Riley sighed. “Or dust him myself, you know if I’m not in the semi monthly dog house I seem to get myself into.”

Leaning up against the window, making sure that Riley couldn’t see her green eyes, Buffy let her mind wander to more pleasant topics. Yes, talking with Riley was more productive when he didn’t know it was her. But this idea that he was just waiting for her to dust Spike was ridiculous. And she really didn’t like the idea that one day Riley would just decide that he’d had enough of Spike himself, and do away with her ‘vamp puppy’.

And Spike was so going to have to hear about that new nickname.

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As they approached LA, Buffy gave Riley directions in a curt fashion, knowing that sooner rather than later he would find out that she was deceiving him the entire trip there. She wasn’t looking forward to it, but she’d decided that she was the Slayer and if she wanted to be chicken about one thing in her life, this was going to be it. She was tired about being brave in every aspect of her life.

Riley followed the directions without question. Soon they found themselves turning down the street on which Cordelia lived. There were several cars parked on the side of the road, and each and every one of them got a careful assessment before Buffy forced her eyes onto the next one. Finally, she spied Spike’s Desoto, and let out a breath she hadn’t realised that she’d been holding. Spike’s car was there. Different possibilities floated around in her head. The idea that Faith had dusted him was struck down though as Buffy saw Spike’s gleaming bleached head in the street light. He was smoking, naturally, leaning against the light pole nearest to his car.

A slow smile covered Buffy’s face. And this time Riley did notice.

“You’ve got a thing for Spike?” Riley asked her. “I mean it makes sense, you both have psychopathic issues.”

Buffy wiped the smile off her face. Who the hell was he calling psychopathic?

Then she had to remind herself that he still thought she was Faith.

Riley stopped the car, and in an instant Buffy was out of the car, racing towards Spike. Riley followed behind cautiously. A carefully timed stop and Buffy faced Spike, only a foot or so between them. It would have been too sappy to throw herself into his arms and kiss him for all she was worth, but then she had her soon to be ex boyfriend behind her.

Spike took the fag out of his mouth and threw it on the ground, hurt. “Is this how it’s going to be then? Running back to your solider boy now that you’re all switched back?” he asked in a hiss.

Buffy smiled. He knew. It made her want to kiss him even more.

“He still thinks I’m Faith,” she whispered. “I needed a ride here.”

Spike’s eyes went wide for a moment, as if he knew what the game was. “Right then,” he said in a whisper matching her own.

“She didn’t dust you!” Buffy said aloud this time, unable to help just how fantastic she felt that he was still undead.

“Did you really think she was going to be able to dust me pet?” Spike asked. “She’s been trying for years! Bint’s old hack now. I know her moves like back of my hand. Been studying her for years.”

Buffy smiled, knowing that Spike’s performance was more for Riley’s benefit than for hers. Spike narrowed his eyes at Riley behind her and glared.

“’Course she knows the same about me by now too,” Spike noted, staring down the solider behind her.

“Where is Buffy?” Riley asked, acting like speaking to Spike was beneath him in every way.

“Sitting oh so primly in the back seat of my car,” Spike answered, pointing.

Buffy asked herself why she hadn’t looked in the car before, but there, just as Spike had said, Faith was sitting in the back seat, staring straight ahead.

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Tbc…

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