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Five by Five

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This story is No. 9 in the series "Buffy and Xena Crossovers". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: # 9. The Ultimate Evil from Xena's past takes over Faith's body in order to kill Xena.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Television > Xena-HerculesdaviderlFR1316,204011,05022 Mar 0322 Mar 03Yes
{I do not own the rights to any of the characters in this story. No copyright infringement is intended. This story is for entertainment purposes only.}

Five by Five

Chapter One

The doorbell rang.

"I'll get it!" Buffy yelled out to no one in particular.

She opened the door expecting to see an annoying door-to-door salesman, but her jaw dropped when she saw who it was.

"Hiya, B." Faith said as she pushed past Buffy into the house. " 'S happening?"

For a few seconds Buffy couldn't think of anything to say. When she did, it was only to ask,
"What are you doing here?"

"Was in the neighborhood, thought I'd drop in."

Faith walked to the foot of the stairs and looked up to the second floor, then into the dining room.

"So, where's Little Sister? Haven't seen her for a while, she's probably all grown up by now."

Buffy started to remind her that she had never known Dawn, but realized that when the monks created the false memories of her, their influence must have included more than just Sunnydale.

"What are YOU doing here?" Dawn asked as she walked from the kitchen, her arms folded in front of her.

"Must be an echo in here." Faith said. "I could have sworn I just heard B. say that."

And without an invitation, she went to Dawn and gave her a quick, insincere hug, who kept her arms folded.

"I thought you were in prison." Dawn said.

"Yeah," Buffy added. "Shouldn't you still be there?"

Faith gave them both a humorless smile. "I was, but got out early. You know, that 'time-off-for-good-behavior' thing."

"If you say so." Buffy told her, suspicious.

"Wasn't it kind of hard to keep your Slayer strength hidden?" Dawn asked her.

"Not too hard, once I gave them a small taste of what it's like to cross the new girl."

"So you used your power to kick some butt." Buffy said. "Doesn't sound like good behavior to me."

"Maybe once or twice, at first. Mostly I used the other senses. Didn't give any of them an opportunity to stab me in the back, literally. Or to catch me sleeping. It wasn't hard."

"So what are you doing HERE?" Dawn repeated.

"Like I said, I was in the neighborhood and thought I'd look up some old friends."

"You don't have any." Dawn said.

Faith almost seemed hurt by the comment, but only for a fraction of a second.

"I heard about your mom." She said to Buffy. "I'm really sorry. I know I didn't treat her very good there at the last, but she was good to me when I first got here. It's a damn shame she died."

"Thanks." Buffy replied with little feeling. "Now if that's all . . . ."

"So where's Red? Upstairs doing the 'witchy' thing with her girlfriend?"

"Tara's dead."

"Jeez. Lot's been going on. What happened to her?"

"She was shot by some creep trying to kill me."

"Too bad. So, Willow going back to stick?"

"That's not even a LITTLE bit funny!" Dawn spat out. "Weren't you just leaving?"

"Nah." Faith said as she dropped down on the sofa and plopped her feet on the coffee table.

"So, B. I hear you've got a new Best Bud."

Buffy shrugged her shoulders, a bit bewildered. "I don't know what you're talking about."

"Sure you do. Somebody named Zay-na, or something like that."

"Her name's Xena." Dawn said.

"A 'her' huh? Well, anyway, I hear you two are pretty tight."

"Not really. We don't see each other that much."

"She doesn't live around here. She's from . . . ."

Dawn!" Buffy exclaimed, cutting her off, not wanting Faith to know too much.

"She doesn't live around here." Buffy said.

Faith looked from Buffy to Dawn and back to Buffy, slightly suspicious.

"So where's she live?"

"Greece." Buffy said after a few moments.

Faith nodded, then asked, "So how'd you two meet?"

"Why all the interest in Xena?" Buffy countered.

"Just curious. Like to meet her sometime."

"She doesn't come to Sunnydale very often. It's a pretty long way, in case you didn't know."

"How'd you hear about Xena, anyway?" Dawn asked.

"You'd be surprised how things get around."

"You didn't know about Tara." Dawn said.

"Wasn't that important."

"The Hell it wasn't!" Dawn shot back.

"Dawn." Buffy said. "It's all right. Some things are better left inside the family. You know she doesn't really care about anybody but herself."

"Oh, B., now that's cold. I care about people. Well, some people, a couple, maybe. Speaking of which, what's good old Xander been up to?"

"Not much, working construction."

Faith nodded again. "So when do I get to meet this Xena?"

"Who said you were?" Buffy asked.

"Who said I wasn't?"

"Well, unless you know how to get in touch with her . . . ."

"I have an idea -- why don't you hook us up?"

"Why should I?" Buffy was getting a little aggravated.

"Just a small favor. She - interests me, that's all."

"She won't come without Gabrielle." Dawn said.

"A girlfriend, huh?" Faith leered suggestively. "So let her come, too. The more the merrier."

"It's not like that. They're just very good friends."

"Sure they are." Faith said with a small, knowing laugh. "Just good friends."

"You think you know so much!" Dawn said, anger in her voice. "But you don't know ANYTHING!"

"I know where Xander is, and you don't."

"What are you saying?" Buffy asked, threateningly.

"Just what it sounded like. I've got Xander and I'm the only one who knows where he is."

"If you hurt him . . . ." Dawn started to say.

"Dawn, I'll handle this. Faith, if you hurt Xander, in any way, I'll . . . ."

"You'll what? Beat me up? You tried that a couple of times before, if I remember correctly. Didn't get you anywhere. Of course, you could always stick a knife in me again, but if you do you'll never find Xander."

"What do you want?"

"I told you, I just want to meet this Xena, that's all."

"I know you better than that. What do you want with Xena?"

"That's a real toughie, B. I guess you'll just have to find out when she gets here."

"She may not want to come. Or can't."

"Then you'll just have to convince her to, won't you? Mention Xander, I'm sure she'll show."

"It'll take a little time."

"Hey, I've got time, plenty of time. Don't know if Xander does, though. I wouldn't take too long, B., things could get - well, just don't take too long."

Faith got up from the sofa and walked to the front door.

"I'll be back tomorrow morning. Have some good news for me. Oh, and don't bother trying to follow me. Xander's not going anywhere, and I'm not going anywhere near Xander."

Faith walked out of the door, leaving it open so they could watch her leave.

"So much for 'good behavior'. " Buffy said as she watched her go.

Chapter Two

"Anybody home?" Willow yelled out as she came in.

"Out here! In the kitchen!" Dawn yelled back.

"Hi, Dawny . . . ."

"Willow! You'll never guess who was here? FAITH! She was HERE!"

"Faith? I thought she was in prison."

"Not anymore. She said she got out early for good behavior. "

"Good behavior? Yeah, I'll bet! So what did she want?"

Dawn proceeded to tell her about Faith wanting to meet Xena and kidnapping Xander.

"What did Buffy do?"

"Well, first she tried calling Xander. But when she couldn't get in touch with him, she called Anya. But she said she hadn't seen him. So then she called Angel. And he said Faith did get out for good behavior. He said he picked her up at the prison and took her back to the hotel. He said she spent one night there and then just disappeared. I guess that's when she came here."

"So, where's Buffy now?"

"Said she had to go out. I think she went to see Spike in case he might know something."

"She didn't say anything else before she left?"

"Not a word. But I know she'll want Xena to come here. She really doesn't have much of a choice."

"And Faith didn't say why she wants to see Xena?"

"No. And she didn't say how she found out about her, either."

Just then they heard the front door close.

"Willow? Are you here?" Buffy called out.

"Kitchen!" She answered.

Buffy entered the kitchen, a little agitated.

"I need you to do a locator spell to find Xander. I asked around, but no one's seen him."

"Well, sure, I guess I can."

"What do you mean - you guess you can? Either you can or you can't!"

"I didn't say I couldn't . . . ."

"Then let's go. Do it. The sooner we know where he is and I can go after him, the better off he'll be and the better I'll feel."

"Well, I'll need something of his. Is there anything here he might have left - clothes or a comb or something?"

"I think he left a hammer here." Dawn answered.

"That would work. I'll need a few more items, but I'm pretty sure I have everything."

"I'll go get the hammer."

"Did she say what time she was coming?" Dawn asked.

"No. She just said she'd be here sometime this morning."

"Well, it's after ten, if she's coming . . . ."

There was a banging on the front door, but before Buffy could open it, Faith did, and walked into the living room.

"So, where's your best friend?" She asked looking around.

"Right here."

Faith turned back around to the door and saw Xander standing there. Next to him was Willow.

"So you got your little red witch to find him for you." Faith said to Buffy. "Should've figured you'd do something like that."

"I hear you've been asking about me."

Faith turned toward the voice coming from the dining room. She saw two women walking toward her. One was tall with black hair and piercing blue eyes. From behind her shoulder, the handle of a sword could be seen.

As Faith let her eyes travel down, she noted that the woman was wearing a short leather dress, with a metal breastplate. She also noticed some kind of circular metallic ring hanging from a clip on her right hip.

Looking at the other woman -- blond, and barely coming up to the dark-haired woman's shoulder, Faith at first thought she was unarmed, but after looking past the dark red woolen outfit, she saw two trident-like weapons fixed in some way to the outsides of her calves.

Faith looked back at Buffy. "Looks like the gang's all here."

When she looked back, Xena was now standing only ten or twelve inches away, staring down at her.

Faith looked up at Xena, and frowned.

"I said," Xena repeated herself, her voice mellow, yet a little threatening, "I understand you wanted to meet me. Well, here I am."

"Back off!" Faith said as she put one hand against Xena's chest to push her away. But when she did, Xena didn't budge and Faith found herself off balance and had to back-pedal a couple of steps to keep from falling.

"I'm waiting." Xena said.

"Faith, what's this all about?" Buffy asked. "You asked, no, you demanded, to see Xena, so here she is."

"Chill, B. You'll all find out soon enough."

Then without warning, Faith tried a roundhouse punch to Xena's face, but her fist smacked loudly into Xena's palm, startling everyone. Faith tried pulling her hand away but Xena wasn't letting go.

"Okay! Enough, already!" Faith said as she felt the pain become more than an irritation.

As Xena opened her hand, she pushed against Faith's fist, causing her to take another step backward then trip on the edge of the sofa, and end up sitting down on it.

"Aren't we the tough one?" Faith sneered as she tried to stand, but Xena put her leather-booted foot against her chest, pinning her to the sofa.

"It's okay, Xena," Buffy said, "You can ease off, she's not going anywhere."

Xena took her foot from Faith's chest, but only backed up a couple of steps.

"Now," Buffy said to Faith, "Are you going to tell us what's going on, or do I let Xena beat it out of you?"

"Like she could!" Faith spat out.

"Want to try me?" Xena asked.

"It'd be my pleasure. Any time, any place."

"But not here, and not right now. First, you're going to give us some answers." Buffy told her.

"Why'd you try to hit Xena?" Gabrielle asked.

"How did you find out about Xena, anyway?" Willow asked.

"What's the big idea of kidnapping me?" Xander asked.

"You've got a lot of nerve coming in here . . . ." Dawn started to say.

Faith put both hands up defensively. "All right! Give me a break here!"

"Everyone! Let her talk." Buffy said. "Okay, let's hear it. And it better be good."

Faith took a couple of breaths, gathering her thoughts.

"It started a few days ago while I was still in the joint. I was eating breakfast and a voice told me I had to find this Zay-na or Xena, whatever. At first I thought someone was behind me, talking to me, but no one was. Later on I heard it again. And it repeated I had to find Xena. Well, I didn't know if this Xena was a person, a place, or a THING!" And she looked hard at Xena.

"Whose voice was it?"

"I don't know, B. It was a voice."

"Man or woman?"

"How do I know? It was in my head, and it was just a - a voice. Anyway, I didn't hear it again until the next day. Then it said I'd find this Xena in Sunnydale. Well, then I figured it must be a person. The next time I heard it was the next morning, it said to be ready. Then right before supper I was called to the warden's office. She told me I was being released, time off for good behavior. Well, at first I thought she was just pulling my chain, but when she handed me the phone and told me to call someone to pick me up, well, she didn't have to tell me twice."

"And you weren't suspicious?"

"Hey, if she said I was getting out of there, then who was I to question her? Anyway, I called Angel. Six hours later I was in L.A. But on the way there, I heard the voice again. It said there was almost no time left, I had to find Xena as soon as possible."

Faith looked directly at Buffy. "And it said I'd find Xena with you. So here I am. Got to admit though, I didn't expect her to be a woman."

"But why kidnap me? Why not just ask Buffy about her, like civilized people do?"

"Not my style. Besides, it was fun watching B. squirm."

Faith smiled evilly at Buffy. "Pay-back's a real bitch, isn't it?"

"So why'd you try to hit me?"

"About the time I got to Sunnydale I heard the voice one more time. It said to be suspicious of anyone claiming to be you. It said if you could be hit, it wasn't you."

"So, now what?" Buffy asked.

"You got me. I was just told to find her. I have no idea why."

No one spoke for a few seconds.

"Now it's MY turn." Faith said. Then looking at Xena and Gabrielle, she asked, "Who the HELL are you two? And why the - the costumes, and the hardware?"

Xena looked at Buffy. "Should we tell her?"

"Might as well. She may need to know later on, anyway. You want to tell or, or me?"

"You go ahead."

"Faith, Xena and Gabrielle are from Greece, ancient Greece. About two thousand years ancient."

"Get out!"

"True." Willow said. "That's why they're dressed like that, it's their real clothes. They're warriors, and pretty darned good ones, too."

Faith slowly looked them both up and down, trying to decide if she was being lied to.

"Then why aren't you speaking Greekian?" She asked them.

Xena looked at Willow, who answered. "We're not really sure. Somehow the magic that lets us travel back and forth also lets us speak the language."

"Back and forth?"

"Yeah. We've been there -- then, and they've been here, obviously."

Faith looked at Buffy, "Is she on the level?"

"She is. We've all been there, even Anya. I think Giles is the only one of us who hasn't gone."

Again, there was silence. Faith started to get off the sofa, then looked up at Xena.

"You mind if I get up?"

Xena backed up a few more steps. Faith stood up, stretched, and then started walking toward the kitchen.

"What's for lunch, I famished!" She said brightly, turning around to face them as she continued on into the kitchen.

By the time the rest of them got there the back door was open and Faith was gone.

"So, you guys want to hang around a while?" Buffy asked Xena and Gabrielle, staring at the open door.

"I wouldn't miss this for anything." Xena said. "I think Faith and I have some unfinished business."

Chapter Three

As the door to his crypt flew open, Spike jumped back from the sunlight streaming in.

"Hey! Have a little respect for . . . Do I know you?"

"Don't think so. You're a vamp, right? I'm Faith."

Spike grabbed a length of pipe to defend himself.

"It's cool." Faith told him. "I'm not here to fight you. I just need a place to crash for a while."

"You're a Slayer."

"That's right. Got a problem with that?"

"Not me. Always glad to accommodate a friend of Buffy's."

"Well, I wouldn't go that far. We aren't exactly friends. But I guess we're not really enemies, either. We just sort of tolerate each other."

"And you'd rather stay here with me than with her?"

"For a while. Things are kind of tense right now and we need a little space."

Faith walked around, looking at everything. Then she spied the ladder going down to the lower level.

"What's down there?"

"Stuff. Private stuff. Nothing that would interest you. It's dark down there, and damp, with rats. Big rats. Big vicious rats."

"Sure. That's okay, you can keep your little secrets. Besides, the TV's up here. Got anything to eat in the fridge?"

"Some jars of pig's blood. But I don't suppose that would interest you any."

"Pig's blood? What's the matter? Scared big bad Buffy'll come looking to do some dusting?'

It was then that Spike realized Faith had no idea who he was or his relationship, such that it was, with Buffy. He decided maybe it would be better for him if he kept it that way.

"No! Well, maybe. It never hurts to keep a low profile when you live in the same town as the Slayer."

"You vamps are so predictable, and so boring. Later, you can go get me something to eat. Chinese, or maybe a pizza."

"Oh, I can?"

"Sure, unless you'd rather go now. Oh! I forgot! You're not real crazy about sunshine, are you?
Oh well."

Without warning, Faith grabbed Spike by his shirt and started to throw him through the door.

"Bloody Hell, I'll go! Just as soon as the sun sets!"

"That's better." Faith said as she straightened his shirt, then smacked his upper chest with both hands, knocking him backward.

"I think Chinese would be good. I'm sure you've got the cash, or can get it. And don't forget the beer."

Then ignoring him, she sat down in front of the TV.

Xena was sleeping on the sofa in the living room when she heard a pounding on the back door. She didn't know what time it was, but it was still dark outside. She picked up her sword and headed into the kitchen. She snapped the light switch that turned on the porch light. At the same time she snatched open the door and thrust her sword out ahead of her.

"Bloody Hell!" Spike yelled out as he threw himself off the porch to the safety of the yard, well out of reach of the sword.

"What do you want?" Xena said as she went to the edge of the porch, sword still pointed at Spike.

Just then, Buffy, Dawn, Willow and Gabrielle crowded behind her.

"Spike!" Buffy said. "What the Hell are you doing?"

Slowly getting to his feet, Spike answered, "I came for some help. I didn't expect to attacked by some crazy bimbo with a sword."

Buffy put her hand on Xena's sword, lowering its point to the porch floor.

"He's okay, Xena. A little - well, a lot, irritating most of the time, but basically he's okay."

"You mind if we go inside? I don't think she followed me, but you never know."

"Who followed you?"

Spike indicated the open back door. "Let's go in?"

As she shut the door, Buffy asked again. "So who's following you?"

"That crazy Slayer pal of yours, Faith, that's who!"

"Faith? Do you know where she is?"

"Well, yeah! She's been hanging out in my crypt the past two days, driving me crazy with all the threats. 'Do this Spike!' 'Get out of my site, Spike!' 'Where's my supper, Spike!' 'Do I have to beat the Hell out of you, Spike?' 'Now where did I put that stake?' It's enough to drive a person batty. You have to do something!"

"He's a vampire?" Gabrielle asked.

"Yeah." Willow said. "But he's harmless; can't bite, can't hurt."

Gabrielle nodded.

"Well? Are you going to do anything about her, or not?"

"You say she's there now?"

"She was asleep when I left. So I assume she's still there, unless she wasn't asleep and followed me here."

"So all she's been doing is making threats?" Xena asked.

"Well, yeah! That's enough! That and talking to herself."

"What do you mean?" Buffy asked.

"What I said. Every once in a while she'll start having this conversation with herself. A real nut job, if you ask me."

"What kind of conversation, what exactly was she saying?"

"Weird stuff, like she was arguing with - something in her head."

"What kind of stuff?!" Buffy repeated.

"Things like, 'No! I found Xena for you, now leave me alone!' and 'Get the Hell out of my head!' and 'I will NOT be your vessel!' You know, crazy talk."

"And you never heard any name, or anything that might let us know who, or what, was in her head?"

"I'm not sure. It seems like I heard some name but I don't remember exactly what it was."

"Well, THINK! We need to know!"

Spike cocked his head to one side, then the other, trying to remember.

"I think it was something like - Hardy? No, not that. Uh, Aldair? Aldy?"

Xena grabbed Spike's shirt at the shoulder and jerked him around."

"Alti? Did she say Alti?"

"Yeah. That was it, Alti. Why, does it mean anything?"

"By the gods, Xena! Not Alti again? Won't we ever be rid of her?" Gabrielle asked, worry in her voice and concern on her face.

"Who is Alti?" Buffy and Willow asked at the same time.

"She's an evil shamaness I had allied myself with many years before I met Gabrielle." Xena told them. "I thought she was going to make me a Destroyer of Nations, but I later found out she wasn't one to be trusted. And since then we've fought many times. Once she tried to take Eve from me even before she was born. And we battled her spirit one time in India. Even though her body died, she is so evil, her spirit lives on."

"And now it looks like she's trying to take over Faith's body." Gabrielle added.

"Then we have to do something before she does." Buffy said. "Spike, we need you to go back and keep an eye on her for us until we can come up with a plan of some kind."

"Why not just kill her before it happens?" Xena asked.

"I can't do that. Even though I tried to once, to save Angel, I couldn't do it now."

"That doesn't mean I can't."

Buffy gave her a sad smile. "I'm sorry, Xena, but I can't let you kill Faith. I can't explain why. I'm not even sure myself, but I can't."

"But Buffy'll come up with something." Dawn told her. "She always does."

"I hope so." Xena said. "Because if it comes to a battle, it will be to the death. Alti won't have it any other way. It will be me or her."

"Well, I'll tell you what. If this Alti does take over Faith's body, and you have no other choice but to kill her, I won't interfere. But until it happens, Faith stays alive."

"Besides," Willow added, "If you killed Faith now, wouldn't Alti just find another body? One we won't know who to look out for?"


"Will, do you think you might be able to come up with some kind of spell to get Alti's spirit out of Faith?" Buffy asked.

"You mean like an exorcism?"

"Exactly! Can you do it?"

"Gosh, I don't know. I've never done anything like that before."

"Sure you can." Dawn told her. "You're so powerful, you can do anything!"

Willow smiled affectionately at Dawn. "That's sweet of you to say that, but just having power isn't enough. You have to know how to use it, too."

"Then maybe you should get started." Buffy said. "I doubt if we have much time."

Chapter Four

"Where the Hell've you been?" Faith spat angrily at Spike as he entered the crypt.

"Out." He answered.

"Here, I brought you a couple of those egg rolls you like," he said as he tossed a small brown bag to her.

"You've been gone all this time just to get me egg rolls?"

"And walking about. I do like to get out once in a while, you know."

"Checking out some tender, hot necks, just right for biting and sucking?"

"Well, that too. But it's what we vamps do. It's like what window shopping is for you girls."

"Next time, tell me when you go. I don't like it when you sneak out when I'm asleep."

"Right! And then you pummel me for spoiling your sleep. I'll be sure to do that."

Alti: Don't believe him! He's lying!

Faith: What are you talking about?

Alti: He can't be trusted!

Faith: He's just a vamp, they all lie. What's the big deal?

Alti: He'll betray you!

Faith: What's your problem?

Alti: He's in league with the others! You must kill him!

Faith: So he has vamp friends. The only reason I haven't dusted him is because he comes in handy.

Alti: He's seen Xena, talked to her, and the other Slayer! He is betraying you! You must kill him before he can lead them to you!

Faith: Like a vampire and a Slayer are in cahoots with each other? I'm not the one who's going insane!

Alti: If you won't do it, then I will! I've been too patient too long! You are wasting too much time! Your body is mine! I now control your every move, your every word! Vampire! You are dead!

At first, Spike thought that Faith was talking to him.

"What are you talking about?" She asked.

"Well, it should be obvious, you don't want your beauty sleep disturbed, most birds don't."

"He's just a vamp, they all lie. What's the big deal?"

"Hey, not always, and certainly not to a Slayer."

"What's your problem?"

"Me? You started it," Spike retorted, a little confused.

"So he has vamp friends. The only reason I haven't dusted him is because he comes in handy."

"What? Are you talking to me, or . . . ? Oh, I get it. You're talking to that thing in your head!"

"Like a vampire and a Slayer are in cahoots with each other? I'm not the one who's going insane!"

"Well, you never know."

"Vampire! You are dead!"

Suddenly Spike found himself flying across the crypt and hitting hard against the cold, concrete wall, his mouth bloody where Faith/Alti had punched him.

As soon as he fell to the floor, Faith/Alti was there. She picked him up and threw him all the way across to the other side. Again she was there as soon as he hit the floor. Twice more she threw him. The second time it was against the door, which burst outward, and he and the door were outside the crypt.

Faith/Alti was beside Spike. She bent down and grabbed his head and was about to snap it off his body.

"Leave him alone!"

Faith/Alti looked up to see Buffy standing not twenty feet away. With her was Willow, Xena, and Gabrielle.

Faith/Alti slowly stood up and smiled at Buffy. "I don't want you. You're nothing to me." She pointed at Xena. "I want HER!"

Xena stepped slightly in front of Buffy. "Here I am."

There was a sudden blur and a wind as Faith/Alti slammed Xena into the wall of the nearest mausoleum with a loud crack as her head hit hard.

Another blur and Xena was again crashed against another wall.

"Willow!" Buffy yelled. "Do something! NOW!"

Willow began chanting the words of a spell, trying to get it finished before Xena was killed.

Then suddenly, the blur that was Faith/Alti slowed and she became visible.

"I can stop Alti's supernatural powers," Willow managed to say, straining to keep Alti's energy contained. "But not for long."

"That's good enough. It'll give Xena a chance to fight back." Gabrielle asked.

Faith/Alti moved on the semi-conscious Xena again, but Buffy intercepted her, catching her by surprise and throwing her several yards away from Xena.

Buffy bent down to help Xena up, but Faith/Alti was up and attacking again.

"I don't know." Willow said. "Even without her magic, Alti can still tap into the full resources of a Slayer, something even Buffy can't do."

Faith/Alti kicked Buffy in the stomach, and as she rolled several times away, she picked Xena up over her head and was about to slam her down on top of a headstone. Only Gabrielle's quick action by diving into Faith/Alti's legs and knocking her down kept Xena's back from being broken over the stone marker.

Then there was the four of them, three against one, standing apart, waiting for one or another to make the first move.

"You'll never defeat me." Faith/Alti sneered. "I can call on all of the strength and stamina this body contains. ALL of it!"

Buffy and Gabrielle started circling around Faith/Alti, trying to draw her attention away from Xena.

Xena slowly took her Chakram from its hook and prepared to throw it.

Faith/Alti cautiously turned to follow their movements and as soon as her back was to her, Xena threw the Chakram.

But as fast as the weapon traveled, it still wasn't fast enough to strike Faith/Alti. She only had to move her head a few inches to let it sail harmlessly past her.

At the same time, Buffy ran at her, jumping into the air, trying to kick her with the bottom of her foot. But Faith/Alti turned sideways and pushed Buffy's foot away and she fell to the ground.

Gabrielle also attacked, her sais in hand, but as she tried punching with them, Faith/Alti easily blocked the blows.

Then without warning, Xena had Faith/Alti in a bear hug from behind -- one arm around her neck and the other around her waist, pinning her arms to her side. Xena straightened up, lifting Faith/Alti a foot off the ground.

Just as Faith/Alti was about to throw her head back into Xena's face, the Chakram circled back around and glanced off her forehead, slicing open a large gash and knocking her unconscious.

"That should do it." Buffy said, looking down at the wrist and leg irons she had put on the still unconscious Faith. Her head had been bandaged, but she was still wearing her blood stained clothes.

"You're sure she can't get out of those?" Dawn asked uneasily, standing at the foot of the sofa in Buffy's living room. "She can't break them, can she?"

"They'll hold." Willow said, a slight, confident smile on her face. "If they could hold wolfy Oz, they can hold anyone."

"What do you think will happen when she wakes up?" Gabrielle asked.

"No telling." Willow said. "I'm pretty sure Alti's spirit has gone. At least, I think it has. I'll know for sure when she wakes up."

"You're positive she'll wake up? No chance of her being in a coma or anything, is there?" Buffy asked.

"I doubt it. She wasn't hit that hard." Xena reassured her. "She'll have a scar, even with the accelerated healing, but it'll probably fade in time."

"Shouldn't we use smelling salts, or something?" Dawn suggested. "They always do on TV."

"I think she'll be better off just sleeping until she wakes up naturally." Willow replied. "If we use the salts it may give her more of a headache than she'll have anyway."

"Certainly don't want that." Buffy said sarcastically.

"It really wasn't her fault, you know." Xena said, her compassion surprising everyone.

"You're right," Buffy admitted. "Its just that sometimes I have a real problem feeling sorry for her. And other times, I understand her completely. Weird, isn't it?"

"So, how's Spike?" Dawn asked. "You said he got beat up pretty bad."

"He'll live. I mean, he'll be okay. He's not in that much pain. We can go see about him after we find out about Faith, here."

"Okay." Dawn said, not quite as worried.

Faith was out for another hour, giving all of them, one at a time, a chance to shower and clean up. They were back in the living room, eating sandwiches, when Faith came to.

At first, she tried putting her hands up to shield her eyes from the glare of the overhead light, but they wouldn't move. Willow had used a thickening spell as soon as Faith moved.

From faraway, Faith heard someone say "She's clean." Then her hands were free. But as she raised them she felt the weight of the shackles.

Faith squinted her eyes, trying to see more than the shadowy shapes around her.

Then there were hands under her back , sitting her up, causing her head to pound.

She had closed her eyes again, so she only felt and heard the wrist and leg restraints being removed.

"How are you feeling?" an unrecognizable voice asked. "You okay?"

"My head hurts." Faith heard her voice say. "Wicked bad."

"Here, take these, they should help."

Faith slowly opened her eyes again to see Buffy holding out some pills and a glass of water to her. She took the tablets, swallowed them, then drank down the water afterward.

Then she put her hand to her head, feeling the bandages wrapped around it.

"Is it bad?" Faith asked.

"Not too bad. It should heal up in a few days. Might be a small scar, though." Buffy told her.

"Do you remember anything?" Dawn asked.

"Everything." Faith answered. "Not my most shining moment, was it?"

"It wasn't your fault." Xena told her. "I've been fighting Alti for years. She's a hard one to kill, seems like she just keeps coming back again and again."

Faith gave Xena a small smile of thanks.

"Hungry?" Willow asked. "We've got sandwiches."

"A little. But I really need to pee." Then looking down at her bloody clothes, she added, "A shower wouldn't hurt, either."

"I'm sure I have something you can change into." Buffy said.

Faith got up from the sofa with help from Xena and Buffy, but made it to the foot of the stairs by herself. When she was a third of the way up, Buffy asked, "You'll be okay?"

Faith turned to look down at them all. “Sure. You know me.”

After her shower and eating a couple of sandwiches, Faith decided she needed more sleep, even though it was only 10 a.m.

Buffy let her use her bedroom and she slept until almost eight that night. When she got up Xena and Gabrielle had returned to Greece.

Dawn told her that Spike was all right and didn’t hold any grudge against her.

“So he really was spying on me, huh?”

“Not really. He just came to us because you were acting so crazy.”

“Well, I guess it’s time for me to go.”

“You don’t have to, if want to stay a little longer. We don’t mind.”

“Thanks, B. But I’ve got places to go, things to see and people to do. You know how it is.”


“So, see you guys later.”

Faith got as far as the front steps when Buffy called to her, “Faith! You’re really all right?”

Faith gave them her signature smirk.

“Five by five, Girlfriend. Five by Five.”

The End

You have reached the end of "Five by Five". This story is complete.

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