Test for one, test for two
Buffy's promised explanation never actually happened. For two and a half weeks, Faith waited – almost patiently – to be filled in. Then again, how patient could she be expected to be when she didn't even see Buffy for that seventeen-day stretch? Just when she felt that she and Buffy were finally beginning to connect, the blonde would practically disappear. Faith was tired of having to always be the one to seek out her sister slayer, but what else could she do?
The town of Sunnydale could never be called normal, but the sudden propagation of the ridiculously named "MOO" group was enough to give even Faith the creeps. Overnight, the inhabitants of the town went from being completely oblivious to the dangers their burg held, to . . . all she could think to compare it to was the scene at the end of the Frankenstein movies where the villagers attack with torches and pitchforks. And somehow, she had wound up right in the mob's sights.
"I know she's in on it!"
Faith turned from her still-locked door and saw a bunch of people filling the parking lot. She didn't recognize the voice, but when the speaker stepped to the front of the crowd before her, she thought it might be that scuzzy freak from room 8. The guy was a total "peeping Tom", she knew, although she hadn't actually caught him looking into her own windows. If she had, he'd probably be in traction.
"She's gotta be a witch, or know one at least. I seen her with cuts and bruises one day and they be gone the next! It's black magic, I tell ya', just like what got them kids."
She didn't know what he was talking about, ranting about magic and stuff. The only magic user she knew was Red, the wanna-be witch. But she also knew that she didn't exactly want to try and explain that to perhaps three dozen angry people carrying baseball bats, large kitchen knives, and she thought she even saw a gun or two. Besides, Slayers fought demons, not human nut jobs.
As quickly as she could, she got her door opened and went inside. She felt stupid for hiding when she hadn't done anything wrong, but better safe than sorry.
The feeling of stupidity quickly fled when the mob closed in on the room and began pounding on the door and window. The wood creaked, and the glass trembled ominously. With only a moment of contemplation, Faith grabbed the small bag that she kept behind the rickety dresser and was out the back window. The bag contained those few precious items she still had left - a picture of her with Jules, the heart and stake pendant that she hadn't worn since the night Jules died, and the scribbled note that reminded her that she had been actually loved once. Nothing else in the room mattered that much. It could all be replaced, if necessary.
Now, the question was where should she go? Weird things happened in Sunnydale all of the time, but it never lasted long. She'd be able to go back in a few days or so. But since her "home" wasn't safe at the moment, she probably needed someplace else to crash until it all blew over.
Buffy's house was out; she didn't want to risk involving Joyce in anything dangerous, since the other slayer's mom had been kind to her. Little did she know that Joyce was already right smack in the middle of the whole mess. She didn't know where Willow or Xander even lived, not that she'd feel comfortable going to them. That pretty much left Giles. It was time to get some info on what Hell had spat out this time.
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Everywhere she tried, it was the same story. None of the Scoobies could be found, not even G was in the library, and always more of those MOO people. She was seriously getting freaked out. Unable to find any help, she hid out until nightfall. Then, she hit the graveyards, hoping to find a demon with information.
It watched her walking amid the gravestones. This was the one? The one prophesied to banish it for six millennia? Impossible! Still, it wouldn't hurt to be sure. And here was its chance to get a foothold. The child-warrior was all alone and the items she carried tucked inside her shirt inspired an idea.
She span around, searching for the source of the far-too-familiar voice. "Jules?" But that was impossible. Jules was dead, had been for months now. Yet there, in front of a mausoleum, was a too good to be true form. "What?"
"It's me, Faith. Julia. I"ve been trying to get back to you ever since . . . well, ever since I died." It held its breath, figuratively, and hoped she would take the bait.
Instead, Faith threw the stake in her hand at the apparition. It sailed right through the image's chest and clattered against the stone wall. Then she tried a kick, but met no resistance and had to hop awkwardly to keep her balance.
"You can stop now," ‘Julia' said. "You can't hit me; I'm not even here, physically."
"So, you're a . . . ghost?" Faith asked hesitantly.
Perfect! "Well, yes. But I don't mean you any harm. I just wanted to be there, or here rather, for you. To make sure you aren't alone anymore."
"Alone's no biggie," Faith began, but the look the ghost wore reminded her that Jules could always see right through her bluffing. Alone certainly was a big thing. All of her feelings of worthlessness came rushing to the surface. "Oh, Jules! I've missed you so much!" Faith struggled to keep tears from falling.
The ghost made a move as if to hug the girl, but seemed to suddenly remember it was incorporeal. "I've missed you too, sweetie. How I wish I could hold you." More than anything, it wished that it could touch the slayer physically. But if all worked as it planned, it would have that wish soon enough. Less than a decade, certainly, and that was nothing compared to eternity. "But for now, you need to get yourself balanced again. I can tell how hard it's been for you to not have anyone who cares for you. Don't worry about a thing. I may be dead, but I can still help take care of you." And, it thought, I can't let you help that other slayer through her little "test" and risk her getting between us now.
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The week she spent in the little beach house with her ghost-Watcher was one of the best Faith could remember. She spent the days talking with her lost friend and the nights hunting. She couldn't believe how stupid she felt when ‘Jules' suggested taking the stash of whatever creature she killed. It was the perfect solution to her money troubles. After all, who did it hurt? The demons were dead, and she didn't have any other decent income.
When the week was up, ‘Jules' was less than enthusiastic about her returning to Sunnydale, but agreed that she should go home. "Just don't tell anyone about me, ok? I'm not technically supposed to be here, in contact with you. Anyone finds out, I gotta go back."
Desperate not to lose Jules again, Faith promised wholeheartedly. Not that it was that hard of a promise to keep. Nobody said a word about her absence when she just suddenly showed up again in the school library. Nor did anyone bring up the sensitive subject of what Buffy had gone through the previous week in conjunction with her 18th birthday.