Author: Tim Knight
Title: Year To The Day

Copyright: July 2002
Rating: PG (Scoobies talking, thinking, reminiscing, and playing the hiring game)
Spoilers: 
Buffy: Season 2 until Phases. Specific Episode, Bad Girls.
Highlander: Season 5 until Season finale. Richie Ryan lives.

Keywords: Buffy/ Highlander.

Summary: When Faith tries to get Shaw's mind on where it belongs (namely the Prom, finding the DJ (as they're juniors, they have to do all the work), and especially what they're going to wear), she finds out what's distracting our little pointy-eared junior from doing what the Troll wants them to do.

Legalese: All characters except those noted below with their respective rights, properties, and copyrights are the property of the respective creators, authors, owners, producers and agencies. These characters are used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended or meant, and no money will be made from this story. This story may be copied in its entirety, and may be distributed as long as all copyright information remains.

The characters Shaw Hunter and Marion Pryce are mine <although Jack has the license for liberal fun with Faith's Auntie, as well for making Faith and Shaw do as much of the setup work as he thinks Snyder would make them do… <G> yes, I know that could make them miserable, but that's part of the fun sometimes… Jack, you DID say the JUNIORS would be the ones throwing the Prom "in the seniors' honor"… Go for it <G>>. Anyone wishing to use them may contact me at doobytim@aol.com.
The characters Steven St. Wolf, Robert Lawrence, and Carol Lawrence are property of Steve Pantovich, as is the universe in which this story takes place. Steve can be contacted at Steve711@concentric.net.
The character Edwin Giles is property of NorJC. NorJC can be contacted at NorJC@aol.com.
The character Liam Danahure belongs to Mike Weyer. Mike can be contacted at SWERJ321@msn.com.

Author's Notes: Just something that a few people thought would make a good story as Shaw thinks about what's happened since she first stepped through a portal and came to that strangest of worlds; a nice little planet called Earth.

Dedications:
To Steve, Grand High Poobah of the Wandererverse, giving us the okays to have fun.
To Jack, for saying this was a good story idea and for helping me make sure I wouldn't ruin the elements of Prom Night for him by editing it for me.
To Mike, for his help with narrowing down the timeframe of Price of Victory and other stuff he's let me bounce off his head.
To Tenhawk, for letting me bounce story ideas off his head and offering his critiques.

Here are the changes from your regular shows that might play a part in this story:

Buffy: 
1. Kendra didn't die at Drusilla's hands. She lasted a month longer before "dying" (she was helped out by a combination of Quinn <and for the last time, he's NOT the Q we see on the Next Generation, he's the one from Voyager who let himself die, so don't ask again <G>> and a crack medical team from the show Trapper John, MD). This led to number 2.
2. Faith was Chosen (in the Wandererverse) around the 12th of July 1998. We all know the rest of the story from Au Natural, Heir Apparent, and Faith's Story. She never went psycho, she never boinked Xander (at least the Wandererverse version didn't, right Tenhawk?), and she didn't channel Rip Van Winkle. She's a junior at Sunnydale High.
3. Amy's not a rat. She's not turning into her mother. She's not a magic junkie. And yes, she's still blonde, which is her natural color.
4. Jenny didn't die. She's on the outs with her Gypsy clan (except for apparent covert ties to her Grandfather). She still teaches and finally nabbed her boy England in February of 1998, becoming formally engaged in April or May of the same year.


Year To The Day

Part 1: Party Mix From Hell
(What Kind Of Music Can You Expect When The People Snyder Recruits To Find The DJ For The Prom Are A Boston Bad Girl And A Rennie Flute Player?)

Student Lounge
Sunnydale High School
Sunnydale, California
12 May 1999

"Gawd, isn't there a single decent, low-priced DJ-for-rent in this town!" Faith groaned. She threw the classified ads down on the coffee table in front of her and started sorting through the secondary list, which Oz had put together for her and her partner. The problem was, she'd already heard most of them do their thing here or there and they didn't meet her high standards.

The hand holding the various numbers plopped onto the table. "You know, it's bad enough I just got back from the Mother Country Exchange Program last week, Hunter. I don't even get through my first day and what happens? That little troll shanghais us into playing VH1 Girls for the Prom!"

It didn't matter to her that she was probably the best judge of music available in the entire school after Teen Wolf, who got out of the grunt work because he was a senior; it was the principle of the matter. <Principal Shitter just loves getting stuff over on us.>

She sighed in frustration. "I just wish he'd get turned into a vamp so we could stake him, y'know?" She sighed wistfully, daydreaming for a few moments. "Right in the old pumper, and poof. Put him out of everyone's misery." She blew some errant hair out of her eyes and muttered, "Who am I fooling? No vamp'd be desperate enough. Oh well."

The Dark Slayer flipped her hair back over her shoulder. She wore a sleeveless and shoulder-less crop top that looked hot on her. Add to that the nice leather pants and three-inch heels, and she'd scored another blow to Cordy's ego. <I saw the look in her eyes. Eight point five on the Jealousy Scale.> She began sorting through her pile of candidates again but eliminated sixty percent of them in less than two minutes. "Ah, screw it."

She dropped her papers and stared at them. "I'm gonna get even with Snyder some day. Just you wait." She stopped her semi-rant and idly asked, "You havin' any luck on your end, 'Kay?"

When her fellow "draftee" didn't answer, the current Chosen One turned around in her chair. She saw Shaw's wavy black mop, untied today, sitting stock-still. She could tell that Shaw had her elbows propped up on her knees. She got up and walked over to the chair Redeye was sitting at. She tapped Shaw on the shoulder and said, "Hey, Elfie. Wake up!"

Her sis jumped; startled out of whatever daydream she'd been in the middle of. Faith jumped back a bit and said, "Whoa! Sorry, Hunter."

Faith watched as Shaw blinked a couple times and glanced around, looking to make sure no one had seen her slip. <Especially Snyder; he'd love an excuse to give us detention or some crap for screwin' this up.>

Shaw focused on her and sighed. "What is it, Faith?"

The perceptive East Coaster could tell Shaw was distracted. She frowned and asked, "Hey, you okay? Guess you were in the Twilight Zone, huh?"

"I…" Shaw stopped and guiltily glanced at her half of the possible Prom DJ's.

Faith just knew she hadn't even looked through it. She put her hands on her hips and scowled. "You haven't even started? Gawd, did you even hear a word I was saying over there? What good's a decent rant against the Troll if I don't even have an audience."

Shaw sighed at her. "I am sorry, Faith. I just have other things on my mind."

"Great," she muttered. "Hunter, you do remember because Smitty came down with a freak viral infection we got two, count 'em, two days to find a new DJ, right? But that's not gonna matter if we don't get crackin'. And I for one don't feel like lookin' like an idiot in front of the entire senior class, y'know?"

"I…" Shaw knew the pressure that had been laid upon them. But something had gotten her distracted. "I am sorry, Faith. I have just been thinking of other things."

"Like what?" her friend asked. Faith picked up the sheets Shaw was supposed to be looking through and sat down on the table. It was against the rules, but this was Faith. She had an understanding look in her greenish eyes. "Oh, you're still stuck on a dress, right? Something that, well…"

"It is not that." Damn, Shaw sounded sure.

"Then what?" the Slayer asked her. Faith reached out and gripped her knee. "Come on, tell me. This is 'Big Sis' here." A sly grin formed. "Lemme guess. It's not the dress, is it? It's a big nosed mop top that's short, red-haired, and Irish." She let out a low, husky chuckle. "You really need to loosen up, Hunter. Just admit you've got the hots for him and you want him to whisper sweet nothings in your ears." She cocked her head. "Unless you want him to do other things with your ears...and...’Ewwww’ to that thought, if you please!"

*****

Shaw stiffened and cringed. She flashed hazel death beams at her fellow music critic. "FAITH!" she hissed through clenched teeth. She felt her cheeks turning bluer than normal but couldn't help it.

She hadn't admitted to Faith that she was attracted to the Irishman. Very attracted. Of course, Willow had been needling her in private for four days since she'd made the mistake of confessing to her.

<But to tell Faith? Forgive me, but I am not suicidal.>

"Faith, it is not Liam," she said tiredly. While Amy, Cordelia, and Randi continued to drop not so subtle hints on her about forming a romantic relationship with him, Faith seemed to be willing to drop the single bomb once every week. "I just… today is, to be honest, not the day I need this distraction."

She waved a hand at the paperwork in Faith's hand. In return, her fellow junior just arched a dubious eyebrow. "All this crap we gotta sort through, and it's a distraction? What's more important than screwing Snyder at his own game? I mean, we're not even patrolling tonight…" Her mouth opened in an "o" of understanding. "Oh, that's right. You're hitting the job after school. Is that it? Tryin' to tell Carol why you're looking through boys' names and phone numbers?"

Shaw shook her head. "Oh, I am so looking forward to explaining that to her." Now she laughed a bit but shrugged. "It is not the job. It's…"

"What?" Faith asked. Shaw knew she wanted her to admit what was bugging her. <To 'fess up,’ as she would put it.> "Come on, out with it. What's got you noddin' off five whole minutes into our lunch hour?"

Shaw looked around to make sure no one was within eavesdropping range. She took the list from Faith again, feeling a touch of anger over their being given this thankless task.

She settled herself and tugged at the neckline of her shirt. She knew Faith was far too proud of herself for convincing Shaw to go with the "see through," skintight shirt that showed off her skin through the brown color of the fabric, not to mention the bra she wore underneath it. She'd been getting ogling looks from the boys all day, but Faith had just said, "At least now both of us can give CC fits." Even so, Faith had had a hard time convincing her because of her back. So Faith had just told her to leave that thick-ass hair free and it'd be covered. Of course, having a nice black biker jacket helped. The just-as-tight leather jeans and the brown leather, zip-up platform boots Faith had bought Shaw in Britain completed the package.

She still wondered if it was more to get her to "embrace her inner model," to have another person to help her send the boys into what she called hormone overload, or just to give the others coronaries.

<Knowing Faith, more likely all three,> Shaw concluded, not able to smother a small grin.

"Okay, that's an improvement!"

Shaw sighed and nodded. "Thank you." She motioned her friend to another seat. As soon as Faith settled down, she said, "The thing distracting me is that tonight marks my anniversary, Faith. I have been thinking about everything that has happened since then."

"Uh, color me lost," Faith said, a blank look in her eyes, "but don't you and Lucky Charm have to have an actual, dinner-style date, get hitched, and do the horizontal mambo before you can even consider an anniversary?"

*****

Faith knew she'd scored, because Shaw moaned and brought her hand up to catch her forehead. She just stifled a scream while the Slayer Supreme just smiled. "Hey, just trying to get you focused here." She folded her hands on her lap and leaned forward, an earnest look on her face. "Seriously, what anniversary is it? Joining the team? Making nice with Cousin Blondie? What?"

Shaw gave her that infamous Hunter glare but didn't give the usual scathing response. They knew each other too well for that to work. A resigned sigh later, her bosom bud bowed her head. "Tonight, it will be one year ago that I came here." She waved her hand around. "Here, Faith. You know what I mean."

Now she got it. "That's today?" she asked in surprise. Shaw nodded, now looking at her again. Faith could see why her brain was off in Wonderland. "It's been that long, huh?"

"Yes," Soul Sis agreed. She glanced around and seemed to be watching various kids walk by. "It was exactly one year ago tonight, that I stepped through that portal and started walking..."

*****

Part 2: Down A Dark Desert Highway
(Although The Hotel California Was In The OTHER Direction...)

Student Lounge
Sunnydale High School
Sunnydale, California
12 May 1999

"Damn," Faith replied. <Her anniversary. And I bet no one knows...> She gave Shaw a fake frown. "I don't suppose you even thought of telling anyone."

"Why would I do that?" Shaw asked.

Faith didn't know what was worse; the fact that Shaw actually asked her that, or that she wondered why it was a big deal. "Hunter, let's recap. It's one year to the day, tonight, that you came to Earth."

"America," Shaw hastily amended, her eyes widening and all but shouting, "Watch what you're saying! Tonight marks one year since I arrived."

"Tell you what," the Bad Girl said, wrinkling the papers in her hand and standing up, "let's go to Belvedere's Book Room. Maybe we can find a way to tick off both G-Guys. Not to mention it's private."

Shaw nodded. She still preferred the quiet of the library to crowds. "All right. Perhaps we can both work on the music."

"Oh sure, *now* you want to do your job."

As they started walking, Ears asked her, "Why do you think that my anniversary is so important?"

"Okay, here's the thing, 'Kay," she drawled, determined to get through the thickest skull this side of herself. "I could see you saying, 'la la la, it's been a year,' if you'd moved here from Scotland or Timbuktu." She started talking with her hands to get her point across, knowing Shaw was looking at her. "But your case's different, Hunter. You didn't just 'arrive' here. You got away from one of the crappiest situations I've ever heard of, and I came from the streets! I just don't understand why you're not more happy about the fact you're free, sister. You get my drift?"

"Faith, I am not forgetting that fact," Shaw told her as they pushed the library doors open simultaneously. The involuntary shiver that ran through her body was noticed by Faith. "I could not possibly forget."

Faith stacked her stuff on one table and walked over to another. She did a one-eighty and hopped up onto the tabletop, scooting herself back and crossing her legs.

Shaw just walked over and pulled out a chair. "I cannot believe you do that while Giles is here."

"Hey, if Shania Twain can sit on a baby grand, I can sit on a cheap ass table." Faith grinned in triumph. "Now stop dodging the issue. What've you had on your mind about this anniversary thing?"

*****

The only thing she could do was shrug. "Everything that has happened, Faith. So much in so little time."

She was glad to be talking about it. This wasn't something she'd thought about keeping secret; she'd only been thinking about it all morning, she mused sarcastically. But she was glad Faith was willing to talk to her about it.

"Okay, I think I get it," Faith offered. Her teammate uncrossed her legs and let them dangle over the edge of the table. "When you got here, you were Revenge Lass and wanting not to be Revenge Lass anymore."

She folded her arms under her chest and nodded. "That is but the barest beginning, but yes." She flicked her eyes over at the office door, where she was sure Giles and Jenny were sharing lunch and talking about their roles as chaperones. The ranger looked into the brown-green eyes that understood her so well. "Faith, saying I was emotionally screwed up would not do justice to describing my state of mind at that point."

"Been there, Sis, been there." Faith rolled her right hand a couple times to prompt her. "Tip of the iceberg. C’mon, spill."

"I thought it would be so easy then. I thought it would be so easy to give up hunting vampires." She shook her head wryly. "I thought that perhaps there were no vampires on this world."

"As if," came Faith’s response. She snorted. "’Course, if there weren’t, I’d still be stuck on the streets or worse."

Faith didn’t need to say any more, so Shaw moved on. "Of course I wasn’t even on Earth two minutes when Drevok followed me here." She shivered a bit at the memory of her first moments on the world she’d come to. She rubbed her arms up and down the sheer material of her shirt. "I lost control… I was so enraged that I actually shattered his sword. People can say all they wish to about survival instincts, but in that moment… I just didn’t care."

She caught Faith’s nod through the curtain of her hair. "Really been there. Keep in mind, you were the one brought me back from it."

*****

Faith pushed herself off the table and yanked a chair toward her. Sitting down, she reached out and took Shaw’s hand. "Hey, you cared. But like you said, you were screwed up inside. Still missin’ your folks and all that."

"Yes." Redeye gave an itty-bitty sigh that Faith translated as, <Shoot. Why didn’t I grow up sooner?> She brushed her hair back and licked her lips. "But a great deal of it is that even then, I knew there was a reason I was sent here, Faith. I didn’t choose to come here."

She nodded but Shaw’s head just started shaking back and forth. "What?"

"I did not want to come here when I read that scroll," she said again, "but now I cannot imagine living on Toril. Not anymore." Her fellow Twin Tower of Tactlessness gave her a smile. "Can you imagine me living the life of a noblewoman?"

On an unseen cue, Faith and Shaw shouted, "NOT!"

They laughed again and Faith said, "So what was the first big thing that ‘hit you?’ You know, as far as coming here."

"When Jonathan told me what he was," Religion Girl told her with a blank look. The ‘flashback’ look, Faith called it. "Remember, I have always known that divine servants and demons exist. But when I was told that one had been chosen to teach me what I needed to know… and as I was…" She sighed. "Damaged goods is appropriate, I think…"

"Hey!" Faith snapped. She reached over and lightly punched Sis’s arm. "You aren’t damaged, Hunter." She told it like it was. "Don’t talk like that."

"I was what I was, Faith." Shaw shrugged and waved an arm around the library. "Look at what happened a month later, in St. Louis. I went hunting despite my vow to myself. And I was going to kill the man I saved because he beat people."

Faith watched as Shaw stood up and walked toward the window. She got up and followed her but gave her some space. Faith smiled at the sight of Shaw in that getup; she’d really gotten the girl out of her modesty shell. But this was something she hadn’t talked about before. "What happened?"

"You know what happened physically. I let him go." Shaw turned around and leaned her butt against the sill, the light glinting off her hair. "But that night, Faith, I nearly crossed a line. Just like…" Her voice quieted down. "Just like my last night in that dimension. But I finally told someone about the hate. I finally…" Redeye looked up and gave her a sad smile. "I finally had someone to tell me that I wasn’t too far gone. I had a chance. And I took it with both hands."

*****

She saw the knowing look in Faith’s eyes. <She knows how I feel. I am glad of that.> The elven woman threw her hair behind her right ear, clothed in illusion. "It was the day before I met Connor and Duncan. And they helped me start the next step in becoming who I am now."

"Lettin’ go of Grandma and Grandpa." Her friend came up and Shaw the sunlight playing off her eyes. "Like with me and Linda. Diff bein’ I’m still workin’ on it."

Shaw nodded sadly. Even though Faith was delighted about seeing Marion again, it still reminded her of wounds that hadn’t been as healed as she’d thought.

<As her nightmares would testify,> Shaw thought. On impulse, Shaw gave Faith a sisterly hug. She backed up and saw the Slayer’s confusion.

"What the Heck was that for?"

"The things you have been through." She wasn’t sure she completely understood it herself. "I know Marion’s arrival is reminding you of your time with Linda, yet here we are, talking about my petty problems."

"Yours?" Faith scoffed good-naturedly, although Shaw could tell it was to mask the lingering grief and guilt she felt over Linda’s passing. "Whatchu mean ‘you,’ PaleEars? It’s we who’s stuck finding entertainment here."

Shaw wasn’t going to let her get off track. "Faith, I understand how you feel. How can I not? You do not have to hide your emotions, not from me. But I appreciate you talking with me on this." She looked down and shuffled her feet. "While I still do not see it as that big of a deal, I will admit to having strange feelings about this."

*****

Faith nodded. She chose not to just sweep her pain under the rug again. When she did that, she had the dreams. "Okay, thanks. But like I said, girlfriend, I see where you’re coming from. It was the Big Guy or Lika Van Winkle giving me the Chosen Gig that got me on the right track." She glanced over at Alfred’s office. "That’s something I think about a lot. If I hadn’t gotten Chosen… I think the only thing left of me’d be a chalk outline in an alley somewhere."

"Don’t say that!" Hunter hissed. Faith felt all...fuzzy inside because ‘Kay was so angry about it.

"I’m just sayin’…" She shrugged and leaned against the railing on the second level of the stacks. "Right. Let’s not go there. Okay. Let’s get to the one-year thing. I get how meetin’ the Old MacFarts helped you, especially with D-Mac telling you how revenge don’t do shit for the heartache." She held her hand up to her eyes as the sun peeked out from behind some clouds and blinded her. "Come on, let’s sit down. Not like sittin’ in the sun’ll do you any good. You don’t tan."

"It does sort of defeat the purpose of sunbathing." They laughed as they strode down the short stairway to their table. Faith hopped back up on the table while Redeye took her chair.

Faith smiled and asked, "So next up was comin’ back to the good ol’ US of A, right?"

"Yes," Shaw said with a grin. She leaned back and put her boots up on the table. "It was only a week later when I left Mark and Jonathan."

<She still misses ‘em,> Faith realized. Shaw didn’t talk much about them but it was so obvious that the angel and cop had done Hunter a lot of good. "Heck, why don’t you just ask Joanie to dial ‘em up and give the old guys some time off. Heck, I figure the Padre wouldn’t mind seeing them again." She’d leave that there. She gripped Shaw’s toe and jiggled it to get Lady Tuvok back to talking. "So then you came here to Hellmouth 90210 and met the guys."

Shaw’s face went a bit darker. Not in an angry way, but in that way Faith thought she still wished things had started better between her and Sabrina. Soul Sis’s look faded into the ‘remembering things’ type and her eyes came back up to hers. "From the time I came here, I knew about the things going on here; Ulric was clear about that. And I saw those fighting them. Especially poor Xander. I wonder how long it took him to forgive me for that darkness spell." She smiled again; it made Faith feel better. "But it wasn’t until a few days later that I saw Amy. And…"

*****

Shaw shook at the memory of the first time she’d seen Amy in the flesh. On her knees, surrounded by vampires. "Goddess, Faith," she whispered, "even now, when I think about that night…" She gave Faith a look, hoping she’d understand. "Even now, I wonder what in Mielikki’s name I would have done if she’d died."

"Like what? Give up?" Faith asked incredulously. "No way, not you."

The words gave Shaw a lift in her heart. Faith wouldn’t lie to her. If she did not know something, she’d let you know.

She didn’t stop with her initial answer. "You might’ve wiped out the vamps. Maybe. But you wouldn’t have turned your back on the world, girl. You didn’t when your folks and Kadali died. You wouldn’t here." Shaw stared at the certainty in Faith’s eyes. "Even I didn’t think about quitting when Linda got killed." She saw the flash of pain again. <Would the others have?> Giles, yes. Joyce, probably. The younger friend’s shoulders slumped. "Hell, what I was thinking was that I was so not going to work with Wes. Funny how things work out, huh? Here I hated his guts for lying and all of a sudden, he’s on some Angel-type redemption kick."

"I felt the same way, Faith," she replied, remembering her and Amy’s decision not to trust the Council as far as Shaw could throw them. <Amy could throw them, and fairly far, too.> "Amy and I were prepared to do whatever it took to protect you. You are more important to us than the Council."

"Yeah, but you guys had the Grannie thing." Faith knew her too well. "And it’s like with King G. Some things you don’t just let go of."

She frowned. "In my case, it was how the Council had changed from the traditions they espoused. Violating Margaret’s memory, so to speak. But now I am hopeful; if Wesley can show the courage to change for the better, then there is hope for them yet."

*****

Faith gave Shaw a funny look. Despite the last few weeks, she still had some misgivings about the Tweed Set, especially the man she’d originally called the Weasel. "You really think so," she said, still holding onto some of the old feelings of betrayal. "You weren’t in London, sister. Some of those guys still don’t like the exchange and joining S7 program. You could tell. Or better yet, I could."

Shaw folded her arms again but this time she wasn’t thinking about the past. "Faith, I know that the transition will not be easy." She tilted her head and asked the sixty-four thousand dollar question. "But what do you still doubt? A particular Watcher or the Council in general?"

Slayer Prime knew she was curious; she wasn’t into the blind trust thing when it came to the Brits, any more than she was. "Well… both, sorta. It was the head honchos that told Wes to lie to Linda."

Shaw nodded. "There it is."

"What?" she asked, caught flat-footed.

"The central issue here," Almond Eyes said with a nod that said she knew what was really bugging her. Faith was about to comment when sis pulled her boots off the table and decided to channel her, only on the chair. <How does she friggin’ do that on that little chair?> Gripping her ankles with one hand and holding the other out toward her, Shaw whispered, "Your issue with Wesley is his lie to Linda."

A small pool of Irish Boston anger bubbled inside of her. "No shit!" she snapped. <Gawd, it seems so clear now. But it’s still legit.> She jabbed a finger at her partner in hijinks. "He lied to her about you guys. Buffy and Kendra. And dammit, it’s because of him that I was mad at Linda for lying to me about them when she’d been snowballed too! That bastard lied to his own partner!"

"I wi—won’t argue that point with you, Faith." Redeye gave her that look that said she sympathized but still thought she might not be seeing the whole picture. "But where I shared your condemnation of that, I have also seen that he regrets it. He cared about Linda, Faith. I think he truly cared for her and simply chose the wrong side."

"Because he was whipped," she snidely remarked, her lips curling in a snarl.

"That is not fair. He was abused as a boy and you know it. I would think that this is something you could understand." Shaw nodded her head toward the door. "Giles is willing to give him something of a chance, Faith. He proved himself while we were here and there. He supported you in England."

"Yeah, yeah, he’s suddenly on my ‘bandwagon,’" she drawled. She rolled her eyes and doubtfully asked, "Don’t suppose you can figure out why, huh? Don’t tell me he’s trying to get me to forgive him all nice and neat. Sorry, I just can’t do that."

"Again, I do not think it is so much you, as it is you and Linda. Faith, the first day, he was willing to undergo magical interrogation to prove he was sorry about what had happened. We found out he was truly sorry about how he treated you." She chewed on her bottom lip for a second. "You simply have not settled the issues between you regarding your foster Mother. Faith, I think he truly wishes to make up for those times."

"And I’m just supposed to say everything’s all fine and dandy between us?" Faith grumbled, "Yeah, right."

"Perhaps you should talk to him. Tell him your issues." Shaw shrugged. "At least think about giving him the chance to redeem himself."

"Hunter, that’s just it," she snapped without any venom. <Maybe I have been too hard ass on him.> "I get that he’s sorry about treating me like shit. But how am I supposed to forgive him for lying to Linda? Yet, how can I keep hammering him, too? Gawd, Sis, I know how he felt about her. He had a crush on her! I can see it in his eyes when he talks about her."

"And as such, perhaps it is not your forgiveness he seeks. Perhaps it is Linda’s."

"That’s screwy."

"Do you really believe she is not watching you from Heaven, Faith?" Redeye asked. Faith couldn’t argue with that; Shaw was as much an expert on this other plane crap as anyone could be. <She grew up with that stuff.> "Faith, since he cannot ask her directly, the only thing he can do is to take up where she left off; by helping you. And there is something else you should consider, if you will."

Faith’s eyes went dark. "And what’s that?"

"You said it yourself; Wesley had a crush on her. Faith… he misses her too." Shaw looked away and Faith knew why; the hurt in her heart was the last thing her sis would bring up. "I know it is not much," she said sideways, "but it is some common ground. If you are willing to let him show you he has changed, perhaps you can help him deal with his grief."

Faith’s first instinct was to scoff at letting Wes make good with Linda; he didn’t deserve it! But something Shaw said caught her. <I saw he had a crush on her. He… Oh Gawd. He was falling for her like Sis did for Raidon…> "I guess if anyone would know, it’d be you."

"Steven, Giles, and Liam would know. But yes, I do."

Maybe she had been...a little hard on Wes. <But it’s not that easy. Just what am I supposed to let him do?> She cleared her throat to make Shaw look at her. "So just what am I supposed to do to give him a chance? Let him do stuff for me?"

*****

"Yes. I am certain that Giles will allow him to help you in small ways at first. Then depending on how well you two work together, he will allow Wesley more leeway. But you heard Giles. You are the Slayer. It is your call on how much or how little Wesley is allowed to provide assistance to you."

"Yeah, well," she muttered, "what kind of stuff should I let him do?."

Shaw waved her hands around helplessly. "What am I supposed to say, Faith? This is something that has to be worked out between you and Wesley. If there is something you can think of for him to do, that would be a beginning." Remembering her sister’s love for Linda, she hastily added, "Start with something reasonable."

"Yeah, yeah, I know." The sad-eyed Slayer swallowed and Shaw regretted bringing the issue up.

"Faith?" She looked up. "If you truly think about how Wesley has acted, and what he has done during the past month… I think you will see he truly wants there to be peace between you."

"So we should talk, that’s what your saying?"

"Yes."

Her teammate just looked off to the side before glancing back at her. "And just what kind of thing am I supposed to let him do for me? I’d prefer something really, really humiliating, but I know you won’t go for that. So how about embarrassing? Any ideas?"

Shaw forced down her instinct to scold Faith. Wesley did want to make things right between them. <Or should I be grateful for the ‘progress’ of her actually thinking of talking to him?> Very well, if she wanted something snide, she’d give it to her sister. <She deserves it for making light of this.> "Something that would embarrass him?" Faith grinned so Shaw decided to make her pay. "You still do not have a date for the Prom."

She gave Faith’s look of disbelief a blank expression in return. Her friend took more than a few seconds to formulate a response. "You’re serious," she noted with a tremor.

"Perhaps I am," she confessed. <I had not intended to be, but perhaps it is one way to make their peace.> She gave Faith a look meant to convey why it might not be a totally insane idea. "Tell me this. If you did do this, it might be the first step in making the peace between yourselves that I think you know Linda would want. Is that so horrible?"

"You really think he’d do that? Dress up in a tux and everything?"

As much as she meant to be serious, the ranger couldn’t help but have a smile at Faith’s expense. "I think he would be wondering if he was sane if he did agree to be your date. But I also think that if you truly want to settle things between you, he would jump at the chance. If you were willing to give it to him."

She could tell that Faith was dubious, but she was also thinking about both what Linda would want and the efforts Wesley had made to show that he was committed to do the right thing.

Still, she was surprised when Faith smiled. "You know," she drawled, "if’n I did ask him, it wouldn’t be to be an ass. I’d really be giving him a shot. I… oh why the Hell not? I’m gonna ask him." Her grin turned quirky, but there was still some residual mistrust in her green eyes. "After all, even I can’t hold a grudge forever, right? You know, forgiveness and all that?"

"As someone who held a grudge against all vampires for the action of one, I would hope not, Faith." Shaw glanced at the library doors, where Giles might be talking about Wesley’s role in things to come at that very moment. <Wesley is a good man who has never done anything unforgivable. And with his recent actions, has earned a clean slate.> Turning her eyes back to Faith, she gave her sister an earnest look. "Faith, he is a good man at heart; he always has been. He has never faced the trials against his own dark side like we have; he doesn’t have those scars on his soul. His painful upbringing had to have affected him, like our painful experiences affected us. My torture and the mistakes I made. Your not having the love you deserved growing up and… losing Linda. Linda’s death has hurt him too, my sister. He has made mistakes, yes, but has admitted to them as well. And his mistakes pale in comparison to mine. Faith, we both know and believe it. Wesley has changed for the better since coming here."

*****

"Like you and me changing for the better?" she asked. Shaw glanced at her. "You said it yourself, sister. You were still the ‘do everything myself’ type when you got here. I wasn’t any different." Her face fell and she looked down. "You had to look out for number one for so long, you forgot what it was like to have someone who had your back. I was pretty much on my own from the get-go. Thing was, different starts, same results. We didn’t know how to do the team thing. Least you had some experience with it from working in Ladyhawke bars."

Shaw rolled her eyes and it got Faith to laugh. "Do not remind me."

"Oh come on. You had fun on that." She pointed at Halfsie’s shirt. "Not like that’s any different than your Midsummer outfit! Face it, Hunter. You’re growing up, far as bein’ a woman goes."

"Growing up…" Shaw muttered. Redeye took a second to grab the hair out of her eyes <Again!> and throw it back over her shoulders. "When I saw Amy in the vampire’s grip, my heart froze. And after we killed them, I ran. Because I was frightened of telling her what I had been before." She glanced at the window again. "But she didn’t care. She understood."

"And it helped once you had the talk." She smiled again. "See, sometimes I wonder how the Madison Twins could ever be on bad terms. Rob really helped, didn’t he." Shaw nodded. Faith reached her arms up, linked her fingers, and stretched a bit. "Well, at least you had someone to love, Hunter." <I know how it feels. Linda threw me that surprise birthday party and made me feel really happy for the first time.>

"That was when I finally started to open up," Shaw told her. The Slayer just grinned; she had a way of gettin’ people to talk. "I finally realized that I had, however strangely, come home."

"You were happy again," she guessed, pretty sure of herself.

She was confused when Shaw shook her head. "No, Faith." The elder woman’s hazel eyes flicked downward. "With what had happened with Ares, letting loose the whole story of twenty-five years ago, understanding that Earth was my home now, and finally starting to truly work with my relationship with Amy, there was too much confusion and other emotions rolling around in my mind to be happy." She seemed to think about it before looking at Faith again. "Having a home and knowing Amy accepted me made me… content. I was still working at happiness. But I eventually made it. I was happy."

She paused again and Faith knew why. "Then came time traveling."

"Time traveling," Shaw agreed without any anger.

Faith couldn’t help but notice that for once, the old stuff people said was true; time had done its healing thing on her, and Faith smiled. It was talking about the whole time and space thing that had made them see how much they meant to each other. "You’re over it," she said happily.

*****

"I am," she said, not surprised. "I have gotten over it, Faith. It was hard enough when Raidon died, but when I found out about my brother and grandmother, they did not allow me to shift the blame to myself." She reached down and touched the ruby pendant given to her by her grandmother. "Thankfully, Amy and Robin were more stubborn than I and kept me from making a mistake."

"Hey, ‘least I got to see Larzie again," Faith chirped, her voice going into a teasing tone. "Even if we didn’t have another night to remember. We knew it was a one-time thing." She shrugged. "Didn’t stop us from drinking you under the table though."

"Do not remind me," she drawled, trying to sound frustrated but failing. "How did you know you could hold that much liquor?"

"Didn’t. But hey, that’s one of the things I like about your mudball. No drinking laws," was Faith’s cheerful response. She smirked again and Shaw knew she was in trouble. "And the fact that when you pass out drunk, you snore…"

"I thought we were talking about one year on Earth?" she said, eager to get back on the topic. It didn’t stop her from sharing Faith’s joking smile or mood. "It did help me deal with my issues. Did you know that Grandmother’s experience in the East helped her be the one to understand that I had made the right choice by swearing not to heal him?"

"I knew something did," her sister offered, not looking surprised. "You really started changing then. Like you’d figured out it wasn’t something the Big Guy did to you."

"I had no right to blame Him," she said. It hadn’t been easy to admit it had always been her choice. "But along with that was finally letting Raidon go." She looked at Faith again and hoped her feelings were showing. <I am so inadequate at putting my emotions into words.> "You helped me with that, Faith. By talking to me and helping me see how much my anger was hurting us."

"And you paid me back by keeping me from throwing my life away," Faith countered. Shaw watched her eyes pass through a momentary lapse of guilt. "I guess we’ve both become happy here, huh?"

Shaw couldn’t help but smile. "And we only had to move to the doorway to Hell to find that happiness."

"Well, at least you’ve got the whole package," Faith told her. She started flicking fingers out. "Pop, cousins, sisters, brothers, crazy ass mind-reading cat…"

"You have a family here too, Faith," she countered. "You know that."

"Yeah," her spiritual sister drawled, actually sounding jealous of her. "But I don’t see myself getting nekkid with a leprechaun I’m sweet on anytime soon…"

"FAITH!" Shaw shouted before she could stop herself. "I AM NOT SWEET ON HIM!"

*****

Faith was just getting ready to give her argument to the contrary when the office door burst open. Jenny stepped out with a cross look on her face. "Girls, if you can’t hold it down out here, please hold your conversation elsewhere. Rupert and I have too much to concentrate on with our chaperoning duties to be distracted."

"Sorry, Calendar Girl!" she chirped. She laughed at Jenny’s groan as Teacher Woman turned and walked back into the office, pulling the door shut. She turned around with a goofy smile on her face and saw Shaw’s cheeks were turning even bluer than normal. "Is that, ‘pissed off’ blue in the face or ‘embarrassed about your pointy-eared boy toy’ blue in the face."

"I will get back to you on that," Redeye snarled with evil intent.

Faith didn’t let it get her down. "Okay, okay, I’ll lay off about you supposedly not being sweet on him."

Shaw snarled. "Thank you!"

The Dark Slayer just laughed. "Hey, don’t get snotty with me." <Time to really get Sis!> "So you’re not sweet on him, right?"

"I think we have sufficiently covered that," Fantasy Babe said with the evil eyes boring into her.

"Fine." Faith leaned as far forward as she could without falling off her seat on the table. "But I didn’t hear you say you wouldn’t get NAKED with him!"

The utter look of horror in Shaw’s eyes made Faith wonder; was she totally horrified of the thought of sleeping with Liam, or was she actually imagining sleeping with Liam. But whichever it was, it would’ve led to the same thing Shaw said to express her thoughts on the image that was no doubt in her mind.

"AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!"

The office door burst open again, and this time Giles came out, his glasses off and a look of frustration on his face.

"Shaw…" he started.

Faith just gave soul sis her best innocent grin. <I love being me!>

*****

Part 3: Happy Anniversary
(And Did They Ever Choose A DJ?)

Lawrence Antiques
Sunnydale, California
12 May 1999

Shaw glanced around as Carol and Robert went through the process of locking up the store. Not seeing any threats nearby, undead or otherwise, she turned back to her employers.

Carol gave her a warm smile. "See you Sunday morning, Shaw?"

"Eleven o’clock." She smiled and slung her bag over her shoulder. "And do not worry, I think I will have enough time to dress for work before coming in."

Robert moaned at the joke, but Carol just nodded. "Thank you," she said. Her outfit had shocked them, but they couldn’t complain; she hadn’t had the time to run home and change, even if she’d "driven."

<Sharillon?> she called out.

//I am here,// came the mental response.

"I will see you Sunday," Shaw said with a grin. It had only been two days, but she already enjoyed working for them. "Be careful."

"We will. You, too."

Shaw waved good-bye and walked around the corner of the building, entering the parking lot where Sharillon waited for her. She smiled when she saw the Mustang sitting there, but she became confused when she saw Faith sitting in the passenger seat.

She climbed in and threw her bag in the "back seat." "Faith, what are you doing here?"

"I was on my way here anyway," she cheerfully drawled. "Thought since we both had the night off, we might go out and celebrate your anniversary."

Shaw wasn’t opposed to the idea; she loved spending time with Faith. <Even if I get into trouble with her.> She smiled and settled back. "Where are we going?"

"Rave," Faith answered. Shaw arched an eyebrow at her, but she just shrugged. "Two things. One is, I’m gonna talk to Bob about getting the DJ who works weekends for him to do the Prom. Second, we’re off, we can dance the night away with any single guys."

For some reason, Shaw wasn’t as open to that idea as she thought she’d be. "But…" Faith gave her a "What?" look, but Shaw stifled it. Faith wanted to have some fun with her, and she didn’t want to spend her entire evening at home. She forced a grin onto her face and decided to go for it. "Let’s go."

"All right!" Faith cheered. "Woo hoooo! Look out boys, the Soul Sisters are paintin’ the town red tonight!" She turned back to her. "Soon as you get back in the right clothes, that is."

Shaw smiled. "Let us stop by the house and I can run in."

"Sounds like a plan. Hit it, Shari!"

As Sharillon pulled out and started heading toward her house, Shaw leaned back and relaxed; she’d earned it. "So you have solved our problem?"

"The DJ? Yep." Faith sounded far too proud of herself. "One of us had to do it."

"I was at work, remember?" she asked, closing her eyes and letting Sharillon do her own thing. "I am sorry I was not much help. But I think I can make up for it."

"How?"

"Well, the others are renting limousines."

Faith shrugged. "Yeah, so?"

"I thought we might do them one better," Shaw said, turning her head toward Faith and opening her eyes a bit.

"Stretch limo? Too much moolah to be worth it."

Shaw let a smile crease her lips. "Actually, I have been talking to Sharillon about that. She cannot assume the form of something that large, but we were able to agree on a vehicle form for the Prom. Something that will make everyone else just ‘die’ of envy."

Faith sat up, her attention grabbed. "What? SPILL, Redeye!"

She just leaned back again. "Do the words, Lamborghini Countach mean anything to you?"

Faith’s eyes went wide as the picture registered in her mind. Shaw knew she was just salivating at the thought of showing up in something that ‘hot.’ "Shari, you’re gonna do that?"

//Why not? It’s something I haven’t tried before. And she’s right; the others will want to kill you when you outdo them without spending a dime to do it.//

"What do you think?" Shaw asked, glad that Faith liked the idea. "We could…" She hesitated before quietly saying, "We can consider it payment for letting me have someone to talk about my anniversary with."

Her sister obviously loved the idea, not only because of the car, but because of how their friends would react.

<Not to mention people such as Harmony or her friends…> Shaw thought.

Faith just reached over and hugged Shaw, giddy with delight. "You rock, Soul Sis! We are gonna rock on Prom Night!"

Shaw returned the hug and sat back, trying to relax. <Sharillon?>

//I can’t wait to see the look on Faith’s face when she sees me pulling up in front of Buffy’s house as a Volkswagen Beetle, either. Of course, the fact I’m going to do the Lamborghini won’t do her any good once Buffy and Steve see her expression.//

<She will forgive us when the others die of jealousy.> Still, Shaw had to fight like Hell to keep a straight face as Sharillon’s mental laughter rang in her mind. <As I said, Faith, I am paying you back for our talk today.>

Sharillon sped down the street, two sisters in spirit enjoying this night and dreaming of nights to come.

End

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