Forever, That's The Whole Point

Chapter 52

Chapter 52

Amanda was sitting down drinking a red drink when Faith came off the dance floor to have a drink of beer she'd left on the table. The bar tender hadn't asked for her ID, so she'd been more than happy to take a beer. "This is so cool." Amanda said to her. "Buffy would never let us do this. You are so cool. This woman is so cool!"

"Hey, hey, how old are you?" Faith asked, eying Amanda's red drink.

"17."

Faith took Amanda's drink from her and drunk it. "Yeah, we're gonna get you a real nice 7-up, ok? "

"You're not 21."

"Nope. But I'm a Slayer. That's like being in the army. You can drink when you're 18." Faith headed back to the dance floor, but three police officers walked up to her.

"We're gonna have to ask you to come with us, miss." One of them said.

"Yeah, or we could try this one on instead. How 'bout you guys buy me another drink, and we see where the evening takes us." One of the police officers grabbed Faith's hands roughly, put them behind her, and started walking her out.

Cordelia stopped dancing when she saw the police with Faith. "Hey!"

"What's going on?" Kennedy asked, making her way over.

"It's cool. I got it." Faith said. An officer took out his shotgun. "It's nothin'. Get…. get off me."

"Shut up." The officer with the gun said. There was a total of five officers there now, some with their guns drawn. They escorted Faith through the crowd as the other girls watched, following them to the door where the officers took Faith out back.

"I tell you right now, I'm not goin' to jail." Faith said, gently wrestling herself free of the officers' grip. She walked back toward the door to go back inside the Bronze, but an officer pulled the door shut from the inside.

"Who said anything about jail?" He asked.

Faith turned around to look at them to see three officers pointing handguns at her. Faith didn't hesitate. She began fighting with them, knocking one officer down, and punching two others.

Inside the club, Cordelia, Kennedy, Amanda, Rona and other potentials were gathered around the back door to the Bronze. A police officer holding a shotgun guarded it, preventing the girls from following Faith outside.

"Stay back. This doesn't concern you." He ordered.

"You can't keep us in here." Cordelia said, crossing her arms.

"It'll be over before you know it."

Outside, the tables had turned in the fight between Faith and the police. Faith was lying on the ground as several officers beat her with Billy clubs. She kicked one of them in the ankle, knocking him down, giving her enough time and space to get to her feet. She kicked one man away, but he kicked her, pushing her forward. She punched him.

Inside, the police officer still guarded the door with a shotgun, preventing the girls from going out to help Faith. "Trust me…. the best thing you can do is wait here."

"Don't listen to him." Cordelia said. "He won't hurt us. You know what? I'm just gonna go borrow the phone." She started to walk away, but the officer cocked his gun and shot at the lights, frightening the girls who screamed and ducked for cover.

"Best thing you can do is wait…. here."

"You're gonna have to shoot us all to stop us." Kennedy said.

"It doesn't really bother me."

"These cops are really gettin' Hellmouth." Rona said.

"Back up!"

"No!" Amanda said.

The officer looked at Amanda. "What?"

Kennedy took the gun away from the officer and hit him in the face with the butt of the gun before pointing it at him. The officer knocked the gun out of Kennedy's hands, but couldn't grab it before Amanda knocked him in the head with a broom handle. On the floor, the officer tried to crawl away, but Rona and Chao-Ahn kicked him and then Cordelia jumped on his back, kicking and screaming at him. Finally, the girls rushed out the back door.

Faith was lying on her back on the ground, shielding herself with her arms over her face as the police had ganged up on her, beating her with Billy clubs. Kennedy and Amanda went up to the police men and threw them off of Faith. Faith had a chance to get to her feet and joined in the fight against the police. She kicked a man against the hood of his car and grabbed the club from another, pressing it against his throat and knocking him into a wall. He sunk down to the ground.

"Faith!" Aurelia cried, walking around the corner. "What are you doing?"

"Just blowing off steam." Faith said. "Well, it started that way. Turned when the cops went evil on us." Cordelia, Chao-Ahn, Rona and the other girls came out of the club and gathered around Aurelia and Faith.

"Girls, go home." Aurelia ordered. "I need to talk to Faith for a minute."

"Buffy, we weren't…." Cordelia started.

"Go." Aurelia snapped. The girls walked away and Aurelia turned to Faith. "What is this?"

"They needed a break, all right? They've been running themselves into the ground. Things just got out of hand."

"Taking a break is one thing. I get blowing off steam. In fact, I was coming to join you. But they were fighting and those girls were drunk! What were you thinking?!"

"Seemed like a good idea at the time."

"What if someone had gotten hurt?"

"They didn't."

"Faith, I need to know that these girls are going to be safe when I'm not around."

"No one got hurt, B. Look, you don't even know these girls. Maybe you should have a little more confidence in 'em, let them mess up sometimes, you know, get down and dirty. How the hell else are they gonna learn?"

"Learning from your mistakes is one thing. But you don't throw children into…."

"Most of them are the same age as us."

"That really isn't the point." Aurelia started to walked off.

"Yeah, what about the vineyard?"

Aurelia stopped walking. "What?"

"How safe were they when you dragged them off to meet Caleb? How safe was Rona or Amanda or Molly?" Enraged, Aurelia punched Faith in the face, knocking her down to the ground before walking away. Faith touched her face and watched Aurelia go, but didn't follow.

There was a hastily made yellow banner painted with WELCOME HOME in big red letters hanging over the fireplace. Giles, Cordelia, and the potentials were gathered in the living room as Aurelia and Willow escorted Xander in the room. Oz and Faith, who had been sitting on the front porch, followed, closing the door behind them.

"Oh, God." Xander said.

"We didn't have time to do more." Kennedy said. "You have to pretend there's a big party here."

Cordelia rushed up to Xander and gave him a big, long, tight hug before kissing him tenderly. He smiled slightly as he wrapped an arm around her waist. "That's fine. Parties in this house, I usually end up having to…. rebuild something."

"Welcome home, Xander." Aurelia said. "I didn't know they were going to throw a party, but I'm glad everyone is here. I wanted you to be here for this. I think you'll be interested in what I found out."

"W-what did you find out?" Willow asked.

"I-it's about the cellar. I know that night wasn't fun for any of us…. but I figured out some things about that place, and I realize now what we have to do. We're going back in."

"Excuse me?" Kennedy said.

"Look, I know what you're thinking, but I had a visit at the school today from Caleb."

"Buffy, why didn't you…." Willow started.

"I'm fine. I mean, it wasn't fun, but I'm fine. I'm better than fine. I…. I figured something out. He kept making all this noise about the school."

"Is it that seal again?" Cordelia asked.

"Do we need to try shutting it again?" Willow asked.

"No, that's just it." Aurelia said. "We've spent all this time worrying about the seal and the Hellmouth. Why isn't Caleb guarding them? Why doesn't he have someone there protecting it? Why is he camped out at the vineyard? The bad guys always go where the power is. So if the seal was so important to Caleb and the First, they would be there right now. They're protecting the vineyard or something at the vineyard. I say it's their power, and I say it's time we go in and take it away from them."

"Or, in the alternative, how 'bout…. we don't?" Faith said. "I mean, it's a neat theory, B, but I'm not going back in that place, not without proof, and neither should you and neither should they."

"I'm not saying it's going to be easy."

"I think Faith had the floor." Giles said.

"Maybe it ends ok the way you wanna play it, but maybe it doesn't. And right now, I don't think I want you playin' the odds. You gotta give me something to fight, something real, not…."

"Windmills." Giles said softly.

"There is something there." Aurelia insisted.

"Maybe. But we can't be sure of that. This is a hell of a lot to ask."

"Too much." Cordelia said.

"I don't understand this. For the past three years, I've kept us safe by doing this…. exactly this, making the hard decisions. And now suddenly you're all acting like you can't trust me?"

"Didn't you say to me today you can't trust us?" Giles asked. "Maybe there's something there that should be addressed."

"Is that why you sent Angel away, to ambush me?"

"Oh, come on."

"You know what?" Rona said. "I am sick of your deal with this Angel guy. This isn't about him. This is about you. You're being reckless."

"What?" Aurelia said, turning her glare on Rona.

"You are! I don't even know you, and I can tell! You are so obsessed with beating Caleb, you are willing to jump into any plan without thinking."

"That is not what I'm doing."

"Well, that's how it feels to us. People are dying."

"Kennedy…." Willow started.

"Why are you always standing up for her?"

"I'm not."

"What do you mean, you're not?" Aurelia asked.

"With everything that's happened, I…. I'm worried about your judgment."

"Look, I wish this could be a democracy. I really do. Democracies don't win battles. It's a hard truth, but there has to be a single voice. You need someone to issue orders and be reckless sometimes and not take your feelings into account. You need someone to lead you."

"And it's automatically you." Cordelia said. "You really do think you're better than we are."

"No, I…."

"But we don't know. We don't know if you're actually better. I mean, you came into the world with certain advantages, sure. I mean, that's the legacy. But you didn't earn it. You didn't work for it. You've never had anybody come up to you and say you deserve these things more than anyone else. They were just handed to you. So that doesn't make you better than us. It makes you luckier than us."

"Luckier?" Aurelia laughed. "Cordelia, I was handed the mantle of Slayer because I deserved it. The things I've had to deal with for the last 200 odd years…. I didn't have to work for it. But I sure as hell earned it. I've gotten us this far."

"But not without a price." Xander said.

"Xander…."

"I'm trying to see your point here, Auri…. but I guess it must be a little bit to my left…. Cause I just don't."

"I'm willing to talk strategy. I'll hear suggestions on how to break this down, but this is the plan. We have to be together on this or we will fail again."

"We are clearly demonstrating that we are not together on this!" Giles snapped.

"Which is why you have to fall in line! I'm still in charge here."

"Why is that, exactly?" Rona asked.

"Because I'm the Slayer."

"And isn't Faith a Slayer, too?"

"What? Whoa, whoa, whoa." Faith said. "So not what I meant. I'm not in charge chick. I think B here needs to just…. chill out for a little bit, take a siesta or something. But I'm not the one you want."

"Maybe we need a vote…." Kennedy said. "To see who wants Faith to have a turn in charge."

"No." Aurelia said.

"No, what?"

"No. You don't get to vote until I've had my chance to be everyone's best friend. I didn't realize this was a popularity contest. If I'd have known, I would have made this whole time just one big sleepover party."

"How about just learning their names?" Faith asked.

"You're just loving this, aren't you?"

"Aurelia, that's enough!" Giles said.

"I didn't come here to take anything away from you, but I'm not gonna be your little lapdog, either." Faith said. "I came to beat the other guy, to do right, however it works. I don't know if I can lead. But the real question is…. can you follow?"

"So we vote." Kennedy said.

"Wait. I can't watch you just throw away everything that…. I know I'm right about this. I just need a little…. I can't stay here and watch her lead you into some disaster."

"Then you can't stay here." Willow said sadly. "Aurelia, I love you, but you were right. We have to be together on this. You can't be a part of it. So I need you to leave."

Aurelia looked around angrily, then walked out the front door.

"Ding dong, the witch is dead." Rona said.

"Shut your mouth." Willow said.

Faith followed Aurelia outside. "Hey. Look, I swear I didn't want it to go this way…."

"Don't." Aurelia said.

"I mean it, I…."

"Don't…. be afraid to lead them. Whether you wanted it or not, their lives are yours. It's only going to get harder. Protect them, but lead them."

Faith walked back inside the house. With her face tear-streaked, Aurelia walked down the front walk alone.

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