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"– We Are Family –"

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Summary: What if Faith's attempt to use the Draconian Katra on Buffy had an entirely different result?

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
BtVS/AtS Non-Crossover > DramaGreywizardFR1815,3214243,89116 Sep 1316 Sep 13Yes
Disclaimer: They all belong to Crack-Head Joss and ME. Deal with it. I have.

Category: BtVS non-crossover, and a semi-response to my own TTH Challenge #6394: 'This Switch Won't Turn Off!'

Time Frame: Starts during Season Four, episode fifteen, 'This Year's Girl,' and then immediately goes AU.

Spoilers: None intended, but if you don't know what happened up to this point, why are you reading this story?

Character Bashing: None, whatsoever.

Feedback: Of course!

Archiving: Talk to me first, please.

Author's Note 1: Many thanks to Bill Haden and Theo (Starway_Man) for beta-ing this story.

Author's Note 2: As usual, “word” indicates speech, :: word :: indicates mental communication and { word } indicates a character's thoughts.

Author's Note 3: WARNING! Parts of this are DARK, and deal – very briefly – with topics of rape and torture, although not in any graphic manner, so if that sort of thing bothers you, you may not want to read this story.


Rupert Giles' apartment
Sunnydale, CA

February 22, 2000

"Giles! You've gotta get over here, to my Mom's house, right away!"

{ Hmm, Buffy sounds quite upset, } was Rupert Giles' first thought upon hearing his Slayer's semi-terrified voice over the phone, as he sat in his lounge chair was interrupted while enjoying a simple cup of Asam tea.

"What seems to be the problem, my dear?" he asked, trying to determine the general parameters of whatever problem Buffy might be facing, and whether the dilemma might be mystical or mundane in nature.

"Mom's unconscious, and I can't wake her up!" was the young woman's immediate response.

"I think, perhaps, you should call an ambulance –" Giles reflexively instructed his Slayer, when he was interrupted by Buffy then quickly adding, "And Faith's here, and she's unconscious, too, and there's some sort of weird-looking metal thingy lying on the floor, in between the two of them, too."

"Don't touch ANYTHING before I get there, Buffy!" the Watcher immediately, and quite forcefully, ordered, as he jumped to his feet, galvanized into action by that last piece of information.

"I'll be there as quickly as I can!"


Summers residence
Sunnydale, CA

Ten minutes later

"...and you're sure they were lying exactly the way they are now, when you first found them?"

"Yeah!" Buffy's response was both immediate and clearly emotionally distraught, Giles absently noted to himself as he carefully studied the scene before him.

"Well, Mom was sorta lying half on her side, instead of flat on her back, like she is, now," the blonde Slayer almost immediately qualified her previous statement.

"'Cause I checked on her right away, as soon as I saw her lying on the floor there, next to Faith," she elaborated.

"But as soon as I realized she wasn't waking up, no matter what I did, I called you. Y'know, 'cause I figured that Faith must've done *something* to her with whatever that thing is that's lying on the floor next to them," Buffy completed her explanation.

"So, how do we fix this? To make Mom wake up?" she asked, the worry and apprehension on her face obvious to anyone who might look at her.

"Personally, I don't care whether Faith ever wakes up or not," the Slayer added a moment later. "Unless whatever she did hurt Mom, and we can't fix it.

"If anything like that happens," the tiny blonde declared with a fierce look on her face, "then I want to make sure we can wake her up just long enough for her to realize I'm the one killing her!"


"I-it l-looks like that g-girl, F-Faith, used th-that device you f-found on y-your muh-mother," Tara stammered, clearly nervous and uncomfortable at delivering that particular piece of news to Buffy. She then gestured towards the item on the floor, which most closely resembled a set of brass knuckles which had been designed and fashioned by a 1960's science-fiction writer, who'd been dropping acid far too frequently for their own good.

"A-and their auras – both of them – there's something – different – about them," the blonde Wicca declared, as she stared at both unconscious women with a frown of concern.

Willow was hovering anxiously in the background behind the blonde, and was clearly making an effort to just listen and remain silent, since she had quickly realized that she had no real knowledge about this aspect of the Art, like her newly-found friend did, and didn't want Tara to possibly waste any potentially valuable time answering her questions that could be used helping Joyce.

After all, Willow knew she could quiz Tara at length later, once things had settled down here, and Joyce had been returned to her normal state of maternal concern and support, and Faith the Skank had been turned over to the Watchers Council. Whether it was for punishment and/or rehabilitation, Willow didn't care much which.

"What, exactly, do you mean when you say there's something different about Joyce's and Faith's auras, Miss Maclay?" Giles asked, a frown now crossing his own face as he turned his head to look at Joyce's and Faith's still insensible forms.

"Uhm, they're not – well, right," Tara said, her forehead furrowed in concentration as she again examined each of the women with a much intent focus, while searching for the best way to describe what she saw.

"Th-they're sort of connected to each other now, b-but – not," she said, the uncertainty in her voice clear to Buffy, Willow and Giles, as they listened with equally mounting bafflement.

"It, it's like there's s-someone – or maybe *something* else – that's h-holding them together, maybe?" Tara ventured, tentatively.

"Something – some other entity, possibly – is mystically connecting them together?" Giles murmured reflectively for a moment as he gave thought to Tara's words, before an expression of shock and disbelief appeared on his face, and a "Good Lord!" slipped from his lips.

"What's the problem, Giles?!" Buffy immediately demanded, turning to send a concerned look at him when she heard his exclamation. "You said, 'Good Lord!' You only say that when it's not good news!

"So, what's the problem?" she repeated her demand, her worry and apprehension filling her face.

"Uh, it just occurred to me that the only entity I could conceive of which might be holding the two together, based on Miss Maclay's description, is the Slayer Spirit, Buffy," Giles answered her, as he gave the two unconscious women a more searching examination.

"And the only reason I can think of for it to do something like that, is if one or both of them women involved are in some sort of peril – either physical or, possibly, metaphysical," he concluded his explanation.

Immediately, everyone's eyes focused on the two currently non-responsive bodies lying on the floor in front of them, as the levels of anxiety and apprehension in the room immediately skyrocketed.


An indeterminate location
Not on the physical plane

The same time

"Holy shit! What the fuck's going on here?!" Faith's shocked and somewhat panic-stricken voice echoed though the billowing white clouds surrounding her as she tried to figure out just where she was and how she'd gotten wherever here might be.

The last thing she could remember was her breaking into the Summers home, and Joyce grabbing that Draconian Katra magic thingy she was holding as she boasted about the surprise she had in store for B.

"Faith? Are you all right? Where are you?" the dark-haired Slayer could hear Mrs. Summers' concerned voice calling out to her, apparently from somewhere in the mists that were swirling all around her. The Chosen One then frowned as she realized that she'd probably put the poor woman in some sort of magical danger because of her bragging about how she was going to even things up with B, for everything she'd done – and hadn't done – to and for her, since she'd first arrived here in town.

"Oh, good! There you are!" Faith heard Mrs. S say, as she saw the woman emerge from the mists a few yards away on her left.

"Do you have any idea what is going on here, Faith?" Joyce asked her as they both looked around, trying to determine where they might be. "And who that person might be?"

Looking back towards Mrs. S as she heard her ask that last question, Faith saw a dark-haired, dark-complected young woman, whose face looked as though it were smeared with some sort of white mud or dirt, standing several yards further on Mrs. S's other side. And the bitch was looking at both of them with a frown and an expression that Faith took an immediate dislike to.

Reflexively darting to a spot between B's Mom and the newcomer, Faith gave the woman one of her best glares and demanded, "Okay, just who the hell are you, bitch?!"

"Sineya!" the face-painted woman declared, gesturing to herself, apparently in answer to Faith's question. "Slayer!"

As a transparent image of Buffy appeared in the mist to her right, Sineya pointed to the image and said, "Slayer!" before pointing, again, to herself and then to Buffy and saying, "Sisters!"

"You're saying you and B are sisters?" Faith smirked as she looked at the visitor, although there wasn't any trace of humor in her expression. "'Cause I sure don't remember B introducing anyone to me as her sister. Especially not you."

Ignoring Faith's comments, Sineya then pointed to Faith and herself and said, "Slayers! Sisters!", before then pointing to Buffy's image and then to Faith and repeating again, "Slayers! Sisters!"

"Oh, hell, no! B and I aren't sisters! No friggin' way!" Faith protested, the anger that was now always present within her coming to the surface when she heard the other woman insisting that she and B were sisters.

Nothing that had happened between the two of them since she'd first hit Sunnydale had made B ever even consider saying something like that to her, so she wasn't going to let some mud-faced black chick who couldn't even put together a full freakin' sentence get away with saying something like that!

Before she could say anything to their visitor, though, the First Slayer – the Primal, or Sineya, call her what you will – pointed at Buffy's image and then pointed to Joyce, before saying, "Daughter!"

Sineya repeated her earlier gestures, first at Buffy's image, and then at Faith, again and declared, in a very firm tone, "Sisters!"

The newcomer then to pointed first to Faith and then back to Joyce, as she declared in the same certain tone of voice, "Daughter!" and nodded emphatically.

Ignoring Faith's angry scream of denial and her voluble rejection of any sort of familial relationship with the older woman, Joyce – who had been watching everything with an almost frightening degree of focus – looked at Sineya and asked, "Are you saying that because Buffy is my daughter, and she's a Slayer, that Faith is my daughter because she's a Slayer, too?"

Upon hearing Joyce's question, Sineya nodded even more vigorously than she had been doing a moment earlier

Looking at Faith, Sineya declared, "Mother! Need!" as she pointed to Joyce. Unfortunately, the thought that someone might possibly be taunting her with the idea of everything she'd never had, and that she wouldn't ever have, caused Faith to lose what little was left of her cool.

"You shut the fuck up, bitch! I don't need anyone!" the brunette screamed as she threw herself at the First Slayer in an enraged, almost hysterical attack, apparently not noticing in her frenzy how the primitively-dressed woman was easily countering her every blow, even as she repeated, "Mother! Need!" and pointed to Joyce again.

Ignoring Faith's ear-piercing screams of denial that she needed anyone, Sineya looked at Joyce and pointed to an image forming behind Faith. An image appeared which showed a younger version of Faith and an older woman being beaten and gang-raped by Trick and Kakistos' other minions. The First Slayer then repeated one more time, "Mother! Need!" and pointed, first to Faith, and then again to Joyce.

"NOOOOO!!!!!" Faith screamed in a combination of rage and wide-eyed horror as she turned and saw the images being displayed behind her, and realized that her shame and her failure had been revealed to Buffy's mother of all people.

Turning back with a wordless, pain-filled, despairing wail, Faith launched another desperate – and equally ineffective – attack on the face-painted, dark-skinned woman she believed was tormenting and humiliating her, howling with rage and grief as she did so. Before finally collapsing in an exhausted, sobbing huddle once the First Slayer kicked her away, Faith's arms were clutched protectively around herself as she hid her face away from the two other women.

As she witnessed the horrifying abuses that Faith and her Watcher had endured while prisoners of Kakistos, Joyce was simultaneously sickened, to the extent that she thought she might vomit, and enraged to a point where she was quite ready – and even eager – to inflict an equal or greater amount of pain and suffering on those soulless beings who'd performed such reprehensible actions on two helpless women.

A kaleidoscope of additional images, evidently detailing the life Faith had experienced both before her Calling and after her arrival in Sunnydale, quickly flickered across the mists in front of Joyce. Concerned, she glanced down at Faith with reflexive maternal concern, to see that the brunette was lying on the ground – sobbing disconsolately as she lay hunched on the ground, and apparently completely unaware of what was being revealed about her life.

As the last of the images faded away, Sineya pointed to Faith as she gave Joyce another look – one which clearly carried with it compassion and concern – and repeated one final time, "Mother! Need!", as she reached out to touch Joyce above her heart, before finally fading away into the mists surrounding them.

Joyce paused for a moment and shook her head, dismissing the small electric shock which had surged through her at the other woman's touch. Setting aside for later consideration the extremely disturbing images she'd just witnessed, Joyce refocused her attention on Faith.

Hurrying over to where the young woman – teenage girl, actually – was slumped in on herself and crying uncontrollably, Joyce gathered Faith into her arms as she began rubbing her back soothingly and whispering soft, calming words.

"Leave me alone!" Faith demanded, her voice sounding exhausted and weak as she ineffectually tried to push Joyce away. "I don't need your pity. Leave me alone.

"I can take care of myself!" the Slayer's tone was simultaneously both defiant and pleading as she feebly tried to shove the older woman away.

"I'm not offering you pity, Faith," Joyce replied in a quiet, reassuring tone, as she pulled Faith even closer and tighter against her chest. "I'm just reaching out to help someone who's had extremely awful things happen to her – things that she couldn't possibly be responsible for, and things that *no one* should ever have had happen to them.

"And the fact that you didn't let those things completely destroy you simply means that you're even stronger than you thought you were, dear," she murmured into Faith's ear as she continued to rub large soothing circles on the girl's back.

"I'm here now, and I'm always going to be here, whenever you need me," Joyce promised, smiling to herself as she felt Faith relax the slightest bit within her arms and her choking sobs ease.

"Like that girl, Sineya, said, since you and Buffy are sisters, because you're Slayers, that means – since Buffy's my daughter – you must be my daughter, too, in a way?" she asked.

"I... I don't know. Maybe," Joyce heard Faith's barely audible, clearly hesitant and almost fearful response. Faith's bio-mom was long dead now, after all, and her Watcher – the closest thing she'd had to a real *mother* - had been raped and killed right in front of her. This meant that the dark-haired Slayer didn't exactly have the best experience with the maternal figures in her life.

"There's no 'maybe' about it, Faith," Joyce immediately corrected the girl, her tone firm and unyielding. "I just said you're my daughter, and I don't make a statement like that unless I mean it!

"Unless, you don't *want* to be my daughter?" she asked, her tone of voice making it clear she wanted Faith to answer her. “And I'll understand if you don't want to be. Believe me, I'm *not* trying to force you into anything. But still – *do* you want me for a mother?”

"I, I think... I'd like that," Faith conceded faintly, after a moment's pause.

"All right, then. That's settled," the Summers matriarch stated, nodding her head strongly enough for Faith to feel the vibrations as the girl snuggled against her breast.

"You're now officially part of my family."

Joyce's smile grew even wider as she heard Faith's barely audible "Okay – Mom," before her breathing settled down into a soft snore as she fell asleep with Joyce's arms wrapped around her, a small smile creasing the younger woman's lips.


Summers residence
Sunnydale, CA

Four hours following the Scoobies' initial meeting

"Can you tell if anything's happening?"

Buffy's worried question echoed the thoughts in everyone's minds, and Tara slowly shook her head in denial of the blonde Slayer's question.

"No, they're still pretty much the same as they've been for the past few hours," she informed the Slayer and the rest of the Scoobies, her words eliciting a series of despondent sighs from everyone present.

"Has there been any alteration in that small crimson spot that was marring Joyce's aura on the right side of her head?" Anya asked, focusing her question on a particular blemish she'd noticed while assisting Tara in her examination of both women's auras.

"Uh, I'm not sure. It, it might have gotten a l-little bit s-smaller since we f-first noticed it," the blonde replied uncertainly a moment later, as she paused and rechecked the area Anya had inquired about.

"Is that important, Anya?" Buffy asked anxiously, her face a mass of conflicting emotions as she stared at both motionless forms still lying in the same spots where she'd first found them several hours previously.

"I'm honestly not sure, Buffy," the ex-demoness replied distractedly, her own forehead furrowed as she concentrated on her own re-examination of the two quiescent bodies.

"Generally, that particular hue doesn't bode well for the health of the person involved," Anya stated with her usual candor, "since the few times that I noticed it on someone I was evaluating, prior to cursing them, the cheating male in question was usually already suffering from some sort of stomach cancer – or any one of a variety of different tumors.

"Although I didn't really pay much attention to that sort of thing, since the guy usually died in extreme agony within a few moments of my cursing him," Anya noted, a small smile crossing her lips as she reflected on her glory days.

"Which just means that it's probably nothing we need to be concerned about at this point in time," Xander hastily chimed in, seeing the extremely dismayed expression on Buffy's face as she listened to Anya's reminiscences and hoping to redirect the topic of conversation. "We can have your mother see a doctor about it as soon as she wakes up, Buff. In fact –"

Anything further Harris might have intended to say was interrupted by a pair of low moans issuing from the formerly comatose women lying on the floor, and who were now attempting to sit up.

"Mom! Are you okay? How do you feel? Do you need anything? Did Faith do anything to hurt you?" Buffy issued a rapid-fire list of questions as she practically teleported across the room to her mother's side, wrapping a supporting arm around her shoulders even as the non-stop line of queries issued from her lips.

"B? Mom? What's –" Faith's hesitant, uncertain questions were abruptly interrupted by a dull 'THUD!' and the brunette adolescent slumped back to the floor, while everyone present stared in shock at Willow as she stood over the now-unconscious younger Slayer, a small, satisfied smile on the redhead's lips and a baseball bat in her hands.

"What?" the apprentice witch said, her voice a combination of self-righteousness and semi-defiance, as she returned everyone's disbelieving stares. "We didn't want her trying to make a break for it, and getting away, did we?"


The Summers matriarch's voice held the unmistakable tone of an extremely angry mother, and Willow's face immediately turned a shade of pale unmatched by most of the vampires in town. She reflexively dropped the bat and flinched before Joyce's disapproving gaze, even as the rest of the group – Buffy, especially – gaped at her in shock and perplexity at the words they'd just heard her utter.

"And I have a great deal to say to *all* of you about the way this poor girl's been treated since she first arrived here in town," Joyce declared as she swept everyone present – except Tara –with an extremely disapproving expression.

"I'm especially disappointed in *your* behavior, Rupert," Joyce declared as she narrowed her gaze to focus on him. Even as she berated Giles, Joyce was checking Faith's vital signs to make sure that the girl wasn't more severely injured than a simple blow to the head.

"I'd expect the children to behave like children, but you're an adult, for heaven's sake – and should be held to a higher standard!" Joyce declared with a scowl making her displeasure with the Englishman quite evident.

The glare Joyce then gave Willow, as she indicated that the redhead sit in the closest armchair, had the poor girl cowering and meekly obeying orders and waiting for Joyce to turn her attention back to her.

"How in the name of all that's good and holy could you possibly allow a teenaged girl to live in that, that *whorehouse* of a motel, alone and without any adult supervision, whatsoever?" Joyce demanded, as she blasted the now quite embarrassed-looking Englishman for his perceived shortfalls as Faith's Watcher

"Especially when she didn't have any reliable source of support or income? I swear, when I get my hands on Quentin Travers and his…"

While everyone else present simply boggled in surprise and watched the unfolding display of a wrathful mother, Anya smiled with admiration, some awe and a great deal of respect at the upcoming series of events that Joyce intended would be occurring in the very near future.


Summers residence
Sunnydale, CA

Several minutes later

"All right, then, now that I'm sure that Faith is going to be all right, there are several things I've learned about her that you all need to know," Joyce announced after overseeing Buffy moving Faith into the rec room and carefully settled onto the couch, there. All the while, Joyce was paying very little attention to her daughter's clearly disapproving attitude and mannerisms as the blonde followed her directives.

As she settled herself on the rocking chair and surveyed a nervously watching group of teenagers, a not-quite-as-nervous former vengeance demon and a very anxious-looking Englishman, Joyce began her explanation. "As soon as I touched that device Faith was holding, I immediately felt very lightheaded, as though I was about to faint – and then I suddenly found myself standing… somewhere else…

"The first thing I noticed was that everything around me seemed to white mist of some sort, with absolutely nothing else around," Joyce informed her intently listening audience. "I couldn't even see any sort of ground beneath my feet…"

After spending approximately the next hour describing her experiences with Faith and the being who'd identified herself as Sineya, without describing the events of Faith's life in too much detail – Joyce had decided Faith could decide for herself exactly how much she wished to share with the other members of the Scooby Gang – Joyce concluded her tale with the statement that she intended to initiate adoption proceedings regarding Faith.

The furor those words generated was pretty much what she had expected, Joyce idly noted to herself, and she found herself locking eyes with her obviously outraged daughter.

"Mom, I don't know what happened to you while you and Faith were unconscious – but I'm guessing that gold doohickey thing she had did something to you. Messed with your mind to make you think she's really a good person, even though she's not," Buffy said in an only barely-restrained tone of voice.

Joyce, however, held up her hand to silence her daughter as she gave her Buffy eldest daughter a quelling look would have been proud to be able to duplicate.

"Buffy, I can understand your all being concerned about my possibly having been influenced by Faith while we were both unconscious, but I can assure that the reasons I have for my decision are entirely my own," Joyce told her daughter firmly. “And I'm willing to undergo any sort of examination necessary, to prove that to you.

"Good grief, dear. Do you remember how scared and confused you were when you were first Called?" she asked, catching and holding Buffy's gaze. "And how difficult everything was for you, because of your father's and my own reactions? How we restricted you to your room, and told you that you weren't allowed to go out anywhere, except to school, and we kept a very close eye on everything you did?"

"Yeah, of course, I do," Buffy snorted impatiently. "But what has that got to do with anything?"

"Can anyone here tell me when Faith's birthday is?" Joyce then asked, seemingly changing the topic of discussion as she looked around the room at Giles, Willow and Xander before returning her gaze to Buffy.

"Obviously not," Buffy snorted again, after the silence had lasted too long. "And how's that important, anyway? What? Are we supposed to run out and buy her a birthday gift, now?"

"Faith's birthday is June 7," Joyce quietly announced. "And she was born in 1982."

"So what?" Buffy began indignantly. "Okay, she's what – almost eighteen, now?

"That means that she's almost a legal adult, now, and… she's…" Buffy's voice trailed off as several facts abruptly came together in her mind, and her complexion quickly faded to a dull pallor as several of the ramifications of her sudden comprehension came to the fore.

"Wait up, if Faith's not quite eighteen now," Xander mused aloud as he considered Joyce's statement, "that means that she was only a little over sixteen when she first showed up here in town.

"Which means that she wasn't legal, when… we…" Xander's voice abruptly trailed off as some of the possible consequences of his own personal 'interaction' with Faith rapidly took on new significance.

The phrase 'Sixteen will get you twenty,' also immediately took on a particularly significant new meaning for him.

The look of self-loathing now present on Giles' face made it clear that he was berating himself for trusting in the Council's profile upon his appointment as Faith's Watcher, and for not having insisted on far more information about Faith's background when she'd first shown up.

"What it means is that we all failed her – each of us, in our own way," Joyce declared in the ensuing moment of silence.

"Don't get me wrong, I'm not excusing Faith's actions for all the wrong choices she made. But the fact is, I'm just as guilty of negligence as any other adult associated with this mess, Rupert," she reminded him of her own culpable carelessness when it came to checking on Faith.

"As the mother of a young woman in almost identical circumstances, I should have been asking questions, and looking to make sure Faith received some sort of guidance and proper care," Joyce said somberly. "And yet, I failed to do so. I'm not sure *why*, but I can't deny that I failed to act like a responsible adult.

"And because of that failure, I share in the responsibility for whatever mistakes Faith might have made, because the adults in her life shirked their responsibilities," the Summers matriarch stated.

"No, you don't," a raspy voice broke into the conversation, and everyone spun around to see Faith standing in the doorway, staring at all of them.

The first thing everyone looking at her noticed about the formerly renegade Slayer was the expression in her eyes.

The defiance, the rebelliousness, which had previously filled the brunette's chestnut-brown eyes was gone, now. And in its place was a weariness – a fatigue or, possibly, a resigned acceptance of her fate – which was almost the complete antithesis of her former recalcitrant attitude, and the alteration in the young woman's posture was both shocking and disconcerting to those who knew her best.

"I'M the one who did all that stuff willingly, and I'm the one who has to take responsibility for all of it," Faith continued her statement, glancing out over her impromptu audience, and fleetingly catching Buffy's, Giles' Willow's and Xander's eyes, before finally locking in on Joyce's unwavering gaze.

"I'm not running, anymore," Faith declared in an exhausted voice. "I'm done with trying to run away from everything that's happened.

"Go ahead and call the Council, Jeeves," the younger Slayer directed, not bothering to look over at Giles. "You tell them I'm here, and that I'm waiting for them.

"I'm not going anywhere."

"And neither am I," Joyce announced in a quiet and determined voice, as she got up off of the rocking chair and quickly moved to embrace the tired-looking adolescent.

"Whatever happens, you're not going to face it alone," Joyce assured her newly adopted daughter, who was currently holding onto her as though she feared she would be lost forever if she loosened her grip.

Seeing this, Buffy suddenly felt as if everything had gone completely insane. On the one hand, she couldn't forgive Faith just like that for everything she'd done; including killing two people, and attempting to kill the love of her life, Angel. It didn't matter that she was with Riley now; Angel had been her first, and still held a special place in her heart.

But on the other hand, she trusted her mother (even if Buffy *still* wasn't entirely convinced that the katra device hadn't messed with her mind somehow), and adding in the fact that she had stabbed an underage girl and put her in a coma for eight months...

"We all made mistakes, Faith," the pair heard another voice saying, and they both turned their heads to see Buffy now standing a bare arm's length away from them.

"So, I guess I'm willing to let bygones be bygones for everything that's happened since you sided with the Mayor," the blonde went on, locking eyes with her obviously surprised mystical sibling.

"And there's no way I could ever say that I haven't made my own share of seriously major screw-ups since I was Called," Buffy said, as she looked deep into Faith's eyes.

"But what I can say is – will you let me help straighten things out?" she asked.

Everyone witnessing the conversation waited with bated breath for the younger Slayer's response, and a long, hushed moment passed before Faith broke the silence as she nodded at Buffy, and gave the blonde a wan smile as she said, "Yeah, I'd really appreciate that, B."


Once things had finally quieted down – after the Scoobies had left, and Buffy and Faith had finally headed up to bed – Joyce was giving the room one final cursory check before heading up to her own bedroom, when she saw the glint of metal lying partially hidden under one of the drapes brushing the floor.

Picking up the draconian katra device, which was responsible for all of the unexpected changes in her family's lives that had occurred today, Joyce's lips quirked in a sardonic semi-smile as she murmured to herself, "I seriously doubt that you actually intended for any part of actually what occurred today to happen, *Dick*.

"And I hope you're roasting in eternal torment in some hell dimension, you manipulative bastard," she declared as she casually crushed the device into a shapeless lump of metal before tossing it into the wastebasket in the corner.

Turning away, Joyce turned out the lights and headed up to her own bed.


The End

You have reached the end of ""– We Are Family –"". This story is complete.

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