The Gun

Author: Koos van Winden <van_winden_koos[at]>

rating: I don't know. Seems PG13 to me.

disclaimer: I own nothing. Even that is to much.

distribution: Xanderzone only.

Feedback: Yes, please.

main characters: Xander and Faith.

Many, many thanks to my beta reader 3D Master.

Summary: Lucinda gave me in her fic 'Last Chance' the inspiration, an idea, for this fic. As a X/F fan I just needed to write my own version on the always interesting plot of 'how do we let Xander the White Knight make Bad Faith come to the good side.' Of course that is not an original plot. To make it more difficult, Faith is already over the Mayor's side and it takes place when she desperately want to test her new nice toy, a fancy knife, out on Willow. Of course in a slow and playful way. Quess who comes to the rescue.

I hope you enjoy.

Latest addition

Part 1.

Willow had been caught by Faith when she got obsessed and begins skimming the pages of the Mayor's fine collection called 'the Books of Ascension'.

She just couldn't stop Nancy Drew-ing.


Willow: I'm not afraid of you.

Faith pulls out the fancy knife.

Faith: Let's see what we can do about that.

It was not The Mayor, but Xander who is standing at the doorway.

He was aiming a Walter PPK in Faith's direction. "Leave her alone," he demanded from Faith, for the sake of her own live.

"Oh wow, who do we have here? The Loyal One," Faith said mockingly. "Sucker" she added to it and ignored his gun.

"Faith! Release her!" he said in his soldier voice.

Faith looked up at him at the change of his tone, but still ignored him.

"Faith, you think I won't shoot, do you? To be honest, I don't want to, but I don't know how long I can restrain Private Harris from shooting."

Faith knew from his halloween adventure, she knew he had still the memories and skills from an experienced and well trained soldier.

Only Faith had gained to much of an ego and had become a little mad, so she still ignored the commands from that boy.

"Faith, this is my last warning. You are threatening Willow . . . my Willow. Nobody and I mean nobody will hurt Willow and just leave."

For a second he lost his is cool voice and vehemently he spoke "If you lay one finger on her, I'll kill you."

Faith looked in his eyes and saw the passion in his eyes flare for a moment and turned back into plane and deadly look. She stared in them, but he didn't give an inch. Faith remembered Buffy telling her that Xander had threatened to kill her if Willow would be hurt, 'cause she couldn't take care of her issues.

She saw him aiming for her heart and pulling the trigger slowly.

A sudden rush of fear took master of her and she released Willow in an instant.

"Damn, you win, she can go," Faith said, her body shaking with adrenaline as she dropped her knife.

Without loosing his aim and sight from Faith he commanded to Willow. "Go!"

Willow tried to protest, but the look in his eyes was determined and was not something you wanted to overrule. She left the room quickly, leaving Xander with the evil Slayer alone.

For some minutes they just stood there . . .

Part 2.

Faith, the dark-haired beautiful and enigmatic Slayer dressed in her favorite outfit, black leather, and Xander the dark-haired boy, dressed in his soldier outfit, who stood there in his soldier stance . . . cold as ice. They were standing in the Mayor's office, standing in front of his cupboard of skulls and magic stuff.

Xander didn't release his death glare on her for a second and it made her nervous.

<First Willow and now him again, won't they ever stop? They really are a hoot and a half,>

Faith thought, with a small scared chuckle. Her memories trailed back to the hall in the highschool . . . to the moment that the two of them showed her their past adventures.

<<Willow, while pointing at the door,"and over here we have the cafeteria where we were mauled by snakes," she said while smiling.

Xander, who points down, grinned, "and this is the spot where Angel tried to kill Willow."

"Oh, and over there is the spot where Spike and his gang nearly massacred us all on Parent-Teacher night," Willow said again . . .>>

Faith winced about the thought. <They actually had fun about it . . . Incredible>

A chill ran down her spine, when she thought back on her adventure, on what Kakistos had done to her Watcher, and then what he would have done to her . . . Every night she had nightmares about it. She couldn't stop thinking about it and just get it out of her head. It had become a part of her.

Her rush of adrenaline had lowered to normal levels, if you can speak of normal in Faith's case.

Her whole body was full of hormones and not only from the sudden fear or of being a teenage girl. The whole being a Slayer thing was giving her a lot of hormones too. It made her so sharp, alert, digging the danger and even needing it. It made her this Super Bitch. How could she survive otherwise and do her job? But most of the hormones were coming from her current situation in which she had chosen the side of the Mayor, which went completely against her nature of being a Slayer, and all the horrors and drama she had faced that had lead her to this desperate situation. All her emotions were really fucked up . . .

Now the Dark Slayer was facing a boy, a clumsy boy who meant nothing to her. He had come to her door to let her face her own denial.

Instead of being harsh and stubborn, he took it gently . . . in a nice and understanding way, just like he is. He had offered himself as a friend to help her in front of a court. She had denied it of course.

<How can I believe that he really wanted to help me and not doing it for his own pleasure?>

<<"You and me, Faith, we're a lot alike. Time was, I thought humans existed just to hurt each other. But then I came here. And I found out that there are other types of people. People who genuinely wanted to do right. And they make mistakes. And they fall down. You know, but they keep caring. Keep trying. If you can trust us, Faith, this can all change. You don't have to disappear into the darkness,">> she remembered Angel telling her.

She almost did believe it. She nodded to herself. <Luckly for me, it was my own Watcher, who told me that lesson again. At least the Mayor is honest, he also cares about me.>

Now he stood there, at least honest about his cold intentions . . . one wrong movement and he would kill her. <It's a lot smarter then the last time, way better then a wet noodle,> she chuckled, remembering him showing his biceps.

Xander didn't lower his gaze at her, after all those long minutes, when he spoke. He tried to break her a little, get a hit on her defenses, before talking. "Faith, I guess this is the only way that I am able to talk to you."

Faith just shrugged. "Huh!" she snorted with disdain, "Why would you wanna a talk to me, boy toy?"

"Why are you doing this, Faith?" he said with a serious and calm tone.

"What do you care?" she snapped pissed.

Xander just shrugged. His expression was still cold as he spoke with irony, "I don't know. Maybe I am just curious or maybe I am still this sweet good-hearted boy who thinks that there is good in anyone. The poor bastard who still believes that even *you* can be redeemed."

"Well, I guess you are the only one then . . . Your precious little redhead thought otherwise about that, she didn't even try to convince me. She said that is was my own choice, whatever the circumstances were that made me like this. I was a Slayer and now I am nothing, just a big selfish, worthless waste."

"I guess there is a mistake in my genes then," he said and added whispering, his face still blank, "I wonder how that could have slipped in? It couldn't have come from my parents!"

Although she had heard his lost words, she chose to ignore it.

"Anyway, here we are, and I think we should talk. Why are you doing this, Faith?" he asked again with even more steel in his voice.

"Why are *you* doing this?" Faith snapped back.

"Hey, Buffy, Willow, Cordy, look I have turned Faith to our side again. Oh, how proud am I am of myself, what a great scooby I am," she spoke, mockingly imitating Xander the White knight, hitting her fist on her chest.

Xander shook his head in denial. With the same mocking tone imitating himself, only with a little sad tone to it, he said, "no, no. It is more like this: 'Hey, Buffy, Willow, look, I have turned Faith to our side again. Oh, how proud I am of myself, maybe I am not the Zeppo after all.'" He nodded decisively as he tried to imitate Giles when he spoke, "or maybe even 'she is better than you' instead of 'she is much, much better than you." Xander chuckled and shook his head lightly. "They would see you as an exciting new obsession for me . . . It would make Wolfie feel very special about me."

Faith didn't buy it and continued. "'Look, what a great heart I have, how brave I am . . . all women fall for that . . . even the grazy Dark Slayer . . .'"

Xander interrupted her, " . . . *after* I blackmailed a wicked witch into performing a love spell for me! Although I doubt you'd have fallen for it and would have joined Cordy." Then he whispered to himself, "I am only good as a muffin!"

For the first time, Faith felt a little sorry for him. She had used him like that and then she had thrown him away. She had seen the way Cordelia had treated him and how they all told him how useless he was. Her thoughts went back to his words 'love spell'.

She had heard some rumors about this and she was intrigued by it. "Love spell?"

He sighed, but not losing sight of her. "Yeah, it was meant for Cordy, to let her feel the way I felt when she dumped me in front of her friends. It hurt so much that I resorted to black magic. It went wrong, instead of Cordy, all the other girls fell in love with me.

Each of them rather would rather have killed me instead of seeing someone else having me. Willow was the worst of them and even Buffy . . ."

She looked into his eyes and saw a lot of hurt flashing there. Faith frowned at that, misunderstanding. <I thought Buffy hadn't done anything with Xander. She said it herself. How? Xander can only think about Buffy,> she thought.

"Buffy?" she asked.

"Buffy came to me with nothing more then a raincoat on and then she grabbed her raincoat belt and began to untie it. I asked her not do it and she said, 'aren't you gonna open your present?'."

"You didn't open it?"

Xander shook his head. "It's not that I didn't want to. Okay, for a minute, it was touch and go there . . . If . . . if I thought she had one clue what it would have meant to me . . . But she didn't . . . and still doesn't . . . " He looked at her in disbelief, surprised that she thought about him like that, "C'mon, how could I have taken advantage of her like that?"

Faith didn't believe her ears. <He didn't take advantage of her?>

Xander continued, with pain thick in his voice, "No matter how much I want to, she doesn't love me and she never will." It was silent again for more than a minute, the sadness of his voice still echoing in the air.

Although his words had its effect on Faith, she still thought of all men as beasts. Xander just couldn't be an exception. She felt a little sorry for the boy for so many things, but to many *guys* had used her for their own fun.

Xander saw her disbelief and tried another approach, from a more realistic point of view, less noble. "Well, okay, there might be some interest. I'm a man. I have certain desires, certain needs . . . warmth and love . . ."

"Oh, please," Faith drawled, disgusted, "I don't want to hear it . . ." She went for a hit under the belt, taunting him. "I don't want to hear your late night Redhead Bed fantasies, they just don't make me hot . . ."

Xander lost his cool for a moment again. "You don't go there!" he snapped back.

<Ooooh,> she thought grinning as she said, smiling, "Have I overstepped my bounds?" she spoke mockingly. Then she went serious again. "I don't care how sensitive you act . . . you, like all men, are just in it for the chase."

He had regained his calm again, when no direct hit came back and spoke. "You are no different than that, Faith. I know firsthand that you're like a wild thing, I am the living proof. Want . . . grab . . . take, and then throw it away."

"Oh, please, as if I am the one who kicks about how I made you my boy toy for a night," Faith said, disgusted.

Xander shook his head, looking her straight in her eyes, as honest as he could. "No Faith, I am not. It's not that it wasn't great, it was like a buzz. Ok, it is not that you drained my life force . . . but still it was great."

He sighed. " Ok, Faith, yeah you're right, I did fluke with Willow and I am very sorry about that. I also did have an one night stand with you. I want to feel sex, warmth, love and all the other things. I'd do the one night thing if my partner perfectly understands it that it is a one night thing and nothing more. But I would never throw someone on the bed, screw 'em, and then throw 'em out of my room half-naked . . .

I didn't tell my friends about our night just before I went to you to offer you my help after that accident. I would never make fun about it behind your back or in front of your face! I am *not* that kind of man!"

Faith eyes widened and his words made her reflect on herself, pondering his words. This is not what she had expected.

She regained herself quick enough.

<Oh? Let's see what kind of man he really is,> Faith thought changing the subject a little. "It's easy to play for hero when you're the only one with a gun in your hand, isn't it?" she asked flippantly.

Xander nodded, remembering his adventure with the bomb. "Yes, it is much easier, you can be sure of that . . ."

From the tone of his voice and his facial expression, Faith thought that he had experienced the other way around, <Must be his soldier memories . . .> Faith smirked at Xander, "Are you still such a hero if *I* would have had the weapon, X-man?" she asked daringly.

She saw Xander looking at her and saw his hand reach slowly for his throat, unconsciously or deliberately, Faith didn't know, and shook his head. "We know what would happen then, don't we? . . . At least it will be quicker than being strangled to death."

<He has learned his lesson,> she thought. "I guess it is . . . do you still want to try out? C'mon, show me how much you trust me to be a good gal," she asked him with more pressure.

"And make me the Mayor's newest pet?" Xander asked.

Faith grinned evilly and just shrugged.

"Or yours?" he continued.

Faith's grin went a little wider, the darkness flashed in her eyes at his casual comment. "Wouldn't it be nice?" she quipped.

He raised his eyebrow, and asked, "Then you're the Queen of the 'black leather fetish SM party', and I am your puppy slave?"

Faith grinned even more and nodded. "Well?" she asked.

Xander looked at the ground, and shook his head lightly, amazed by her disdain towards him. "If you think I am an idiot, you are wrong," he hissed.

Faith was pissed off again. "Take it or leave it!" she snapped.

"Proves that I am nothing too you," Xander mumbled softly to himself.

"It's up too you to change that," Faith said daringly again.

Xander was surprised that she had heard this comment of his. <Damn Slayer hearing, she has heard everything I said.> He sighed heavily. "How can you expect me to hand my gun over? It is the only way for me to even be able for you to see me, let alone talk to me."

Faith shuffled with her feet, impatient, no longer bothering to listen to what he had to say.

"It's going to be the only way for you to convince me. You have three choices: just go away, alive . . . or shoot me and go away alive, or just toss me that damn PPK . . . And you better hurry, 'cause the Mayor won't be gone for long!"

"Faith, you can't keep running," Xander tried again, not giving in to her demanding tone.

This made her remember Wesley's words and filled her body with anger. With contained fury, she replied, "I don't have to run anymore! Right now I have somebody who can take care of me!"

<Ah, I have hit a sore button here,> Xander thought. "The Mayor? That's precisely what I mean, you are hiding yourself, hoping to escape your life as a Slayer. That is even worse than running," he spoke calmly, trying to make it more painful for her.

"What do you know about that? You don't have to deal with this crap!" she asked, still pissed.

He sighed, not much impressed by her anger. "I don't, but I do know about seek and hide. I do it myself all the time!"

Her fury changed into a mocking laughter. "I guess you do . . .

Congratulations, you just have won your first point!" She paused a moment. "Now what? You're offering yourself as my protector?" she said it, like it was insanity.

Xander went serious again. "Listen Faith, I realize that I am a kind of joke to you. But I really mean it. The Mayor is not the solution and you really need someone. I am not saying that it should be me, Buf, uh, . . . " He quickly corrected himself, "the rest of us will help you."

Faith eyes filled themselves with hate as she went furious again. "Read my lips," Faith said in slow motion, "I hate Buffy!" She took a breath and calmed down a bit. "She acts like the responsible, caring and heroic one, but in the end, she is no better then me . . . I am not in denial . . . she is."

She took a pause and let the anger flow away. She looked up to the ceiling and spoke again. "Actually, I hate them all! The arrogant Witch, Mr. 'All Know' Tweed and Mr. Wuzzly."

"And me?" Xander asked with some hope, nervously.

She frowned for a moment. For some moments she thought of him as an open book, yet for a big part he was a mystery to her. It took a her a lot more to convince him to go with her game. He seemed honest too. But this was not the moment to tell or ask him about that. She sighed. "You're a geek, a looser and a pain in the ass. Just look in the mirror, man! You dug up your old stuff, came all the way over and try to impress me with your soldier act . . ." she said with her hands up in the air. Then pointed her finger at him. "Well, I've got news for you, mister, *you don't score* . . . I've no need for a personal butt monkey!" She growled mildly, "Buffy does!" A bit more serious, she added, "I don't trust you, you're way to much of a pal for Buffy!"

Xander eyes grew wide. "You can trust me!" Xander almost yelled when he tried again, way to many times now.

Faith was exasperated. "Then show me your real face!" she snapped.

Xander looked at her for a long time and thought about his chances. How much was his life worth? Faith saw him looking at her, at her movements, in her eyes, looking for any sign of sincereness in her. She felt his senses go to the max, searching for any sign of hope to get through to her. <No Hyena, you won't see a damn thing, I am just a mad, scared, wicked and totally fucked up bitch, you'll need to play this game to the very end . . .> Xander's distrust was plainly visible, written on his face. Faith felt the tension rising in his eyes. <C'mon Xander, don't let me think of you as a sissy man!> She hoped that he would give in.

He could get away now, it had gone all wrong. But Xander wouldn't be Xander if he didn't try, so he finally made his decision; he lowered his gun. <"A black eye heals, Buffy, but cowardice has an unlimited self life,"> he remembered himself saying that. He made a silent mental plea, and threw the weapon to her. <Damn,> he growled to himself, making a fist in self-disgust. <here I go again.>

"Do you like a glazed, cinnamon, cream-filled, or a jelly donut with it?"

Part 3.

She caught it and then aimed it at him. Xander took a step back.

Faith pulled the trigger slowly, while she looked at him. Xander somehow stayed oddly calm, in spite of the fact that *she* was in control, and he was the one facing the gun.

Faith was amazed by this, but didn't show it on her face.

"So, this is how much you trust me," she said and began to laugh.

Xander just shrugged. "Well, I am in good faith!"

Faith got pissed and snapped.

"You are an idiot! I already tried to kill you and still you don't learn. Anyone with brains, anyone who knew what was going to happen to him, wouldn't do something stupid as this . . . *You* did it twice!"

She now grinned wickedly . . . madly . . . "This game is dangerous Xander. It is meant for people with experience in life and not for clowns like you . . ." She shook her head. "You see how easy it was for me to have the control back . . . it . . . it was too easy."

Before she could do anything, Xander answered directly, casually and a little annoyed, "I already told you that that was a little flaw in me . . .

Then he added almost self-mocking, but still serious, "Xander 'I'm as stupid as I look' Harris didn't win the gold medal in 'Being Wrong' for nothing."

She was amazed about his ability to make fun when his life was in the balance.

Inwardly Xander was scared to hell. He really hoped that she wouldn't shoot . . . or beat him down for that matter or slowly cut him open like an apple. There was no way for him to escape anymore. It was like swimming or drowning, he has to learn how to play this game right now.

He recognized her surprise at his reply and tried to make it stronger. "I like the quiet," he said grinning, but calmly.

Then his face turned serious again. "It is all or nothing, Faith! To win or lose! You can kill me or come with me. Only know this: if you decide to kill me then there is no way back and your soul will be lost for ever. This time it won't be an accident, but plain murder! " Faith didn't know how or what to think anymore, this was all so unexpected. He knew exactly where her weaknesses were . . . what her fears were . . . he was still in control.

Xander continued. "I don't need the honor Faith! A lot of what I did, they don't even recognize or will know. If you decide to try to walk the right path again, you can tell them whatever you want what made you come back to the right side. I don't care. I will just tell them that I left you only moments after Willow left . . ."

He stared at her for a moment with intensity. "Win or lose, Faith! It's up to you to decide which is which and to make the right decision!"

Faith was tempted to go for his offer. It felt so good to be trusted by someone and to be able to trust him back, even when it was just Xander. She had only known him for a very short time and she had seen him as a friend of Buffy. A friend who would do anything for her, hoping for one day that he would be seen by her . . . even by giving up his live! From what Faith had seen of him and the way he had wanted to talk to her some days ago, his name had become a synonym to her for 'My life has no worth, I don't care if I die'.

Faith snorted. "Why do you care, Xander? Why are you doing this? I don't mean me, but helping Buffy," she asked.

Xander blinked. "'She is my friend, of course!" he simply said, not understanding the question.

Faith eyes widened. "Your friend? *That* is your only reason?" she asked surprised.

He shook his head with sorrow . . .

"I also do this in remembrance for my good and life long friend, Jesse, who had been turned the first day Buffy came here. I had to kill him," he said bitterly.

"We're living in the undead's favorite party town . . . a lot of my classmates have died. I can't just look and do nothing, I have to live up to their names, especially now Jesse is watching me," he explained to her as he spoke from his heart loaded with hope and anxiety while he smiled wistuflly up at his lost friend.

Faith looked stunned. <What? They never told me about a guy named Jesse. And Xander was forced to kill him.>

Xander saw her surprise and suddenly understood her question. She didn't understand his concept of friendship.

"If you think I am doing this so I could win her heart then you are wrong: I am not. The moment she rejected me, she had asked me not to go away and to stay as her friend."

He sighed. "I had already lost Jesse and my only real friend was Willow . . .

Friendship is everything to me, so I stayed and we became friends.

That's why I brought her back that night..."

Faith could understand that, friendship was something she needed.

<That is how we turned up with two Slayers, by the power of friendship,> she thought.

<It didn't bring us much good.>

"So in the line of friendship your life isn't worth much?" she asked.

"My life is very dear to me, but if you mean that I would gladly give up my life for my friends, then you are right," he stated firmly.

"So you want me to become friends and you are prepared to die for it?" She asked, while shaking the gun a little.

He looked at it and nodded slowly.

"You expect the same from me?" she asked.

He reacted fast. "No, of course not!" he almost snapped and calmly explained, "it's just the way *I* am. It would be very hard for me to live my life knowing that a good friend of mine died while saving me."

"But you are doing it for me *if* I become your friend. How do you think I would feel if I would have you as my only friend and you would die by protecting me?" she said slowly.

Xander stared at her with big eyes. He never had realized that.

"Huh?" was all he managed to say.

"I guessed as much," she said.

She walked over to the desk and picked up a picture she had left there this morning.

She gave it to Xander, while still pointing the gun at him. Xander looked at it, grabbed his stomach as he almost had to vomit.

Emotions run through her eyes as she explained the picture. "That was my Watcher after Kakitos was done with her. He sent me pictures of her after I had run away, to scare the hell out of me and to remind me of my destiny. This morning it was the first time I was able to watch the picture without . . ." She closed her eyes and a small tear appeared as she shook her head.

Faith spoke with horror, sadness and quilt as she said, "She was the only friend I ever had! And I couldn't protect her when she was protecting me! I was so scared . . . I had to run cross-country, hoping to stay one step ahead of Kakistos all the time. I had some 'friends', all guy's, who had helped me." She didn't even grin when she added, "they all payed the price by the hands of Kakitos *after* they betrayed me."

She looked back at him, one tear running over her cheek, fear and guilt in her eyes.

"I was only able to see this picture again, thanks to The Mayor. It is not only my past which it resembles, Xander! It is the present too! Facing the horrors which come with the job of being a Slayer.

And it is the future . . . it is still my destiny."

She looked at him for any reaction and saw the understanding in his brown eyes and his almost overwhelming desire to help her.

Xander just didn't know what to do or how to react to it anymore.

She calmed herself and sighted.

"I am sorry that I've misjudged your intentions. You convinced me that you mean it well and that I could trust you. But I can't live like that. How can I be a good Slayer, knowing that I can lose my only real friend every second, and then go on an uncontrolled vengeance tour? . . .

* I* am the Slayer, Xander, it is my job to *protect* people, not the other way around. You're hardly able to help me. The only person I can allow as a friend is Buffy and well . . ."

She looked at him in his eyes, for only a few seconds, but it seemed to take forever.

All those long seconds he remained calm, she was amazed by it.

Her fury and rage for him had left her body completely, instead there was still fear, the fear of entering the light again. But most of all the fear of losing another friend if she would let him win.

She looked at him with sorrow and quilt. "I am sorry, Xander. I am evil now . . . it's the way it went. All I can hope for is that Buffy can find me quickly and kill me, before I can do more damage!" She aimed the gun more precisely for the kill, " I am sorry, Xander, it was nice to have known at least one good guy, but it's like you said: all or nothing, win or lose... I can't be friends with you, I'm way past that and I can't protect you!"

Xander lost his calm suddenly as he paled. "No, Faith. You can, it is not that difficult and I can support you . . ."

She pulled the trigger, and . . . the gun went off . . .


Part 4.

Xander stepped back, shaking his hands in front of him, making nervous moves. "I . . . I can explain."

Faith stared at the gun, with her eyes wide open. "What?"

Instead of hearing a shot, all that she saw was a small stream of water dripping out of the loop. "It . . . it . . ." He laughed a little, nervously, "it is a water pistol."

Faith still stared at the pistol, not knowing what to think or say. She had been fooled and threatened by a fake gun. The embarrassment was simply to big. <There goes my hero act,>

Xander thought. "You see, Buffy and Giles were afraid that I would come to you, so they hid my real gun and . . . I, well . . . it's still a damn good duplicate, uh . . ."

A last drip, dripped painfully slow out of the loop brought her out of her temporary shock and she followed its trail towards the ground as it splashed on her razor sharp knife, precisely on the intricate design. Xander had followed the drip as well and his eyes grew wider as he saw in slow motion the moment it hit the solid surface, turning it into a thousand smaller drips. Suddenly something gripped his throat . . . it was fear . . . fear itself. He had difficult time swallowing it when he pictured himself on the ground, skinned alive.

Faith remembered the words of her boss. <"Be careful not to put somebody's eye out with that thing, until I tell you to">. The Dark Slayer looked up to him and saw his nervous goofy smile as a mask over his not well-hidden fear. Normally she would have been outraged, but not this time. *He* of all people, had stared *her* down with a fake gun. It hadn't made it less dangerous for him, she could still have beat him down. In fact it had made it all the more dangerous.

Slowly she bent down and reached for the knife as she still looked at Xander's terrified eyes. <Let's see how far he can control his nerves now . . .>

She deliberately looked away for a few seconds and picked up the knife, and then she looked back at him. Her eyes widened at bit. <No shit! This was his last chance, he didn't took it! Brave 'till the end, huh?> She frowned a little and shook her head, still in disbelief. <He took a double risk, coming into the Mayor's own place, the City Hall. First he tried to bluff his way through my defenses and then he risked his life again by giving up his ... aargh,> she balled her fist for not seeing through his act.

"The Barrel length is precisely 3,2" and its length 6,1", its height: 3,93", its weight, uh, well, the water compensated a l..." Xander tried to explain while looking at the ground as he saw how little water there had come out of it and gasped for air.

She shook her head again. <Even after I had tried to choke him, he would pull off something like this.> She looked at him, basically ignoring his jokes, funny movements and explanations as she wound up in deep thoughts and amazement. <Now he still tries, with his clown mask as defense. Back to the basics, huh?> She looked at the water on the ground. <Still, the fake gun had saved his life . . . at least until now,> she thought while she twisted her knife, unconsciously. The whole thought would have made her laugh manically, it was all so ridiculous, frenetic, if it weren't for the fact that it was all so damn serious to him. She had felt his fear, heard his heartbeat going wild . . . <It's not that he isn't afraid or doesn't value his life,> she thought, while remembering their discussion.

She played with her knife in slow and daring movements. <All this time he could hide his fear damn well, as if he was the one who played with me.> Her respect for him raised a thousand times.

"It's the gun James Bond carried and it is a .380 . . ." Xander continued.

She still had to laugh about his gullibility, but there was definitely more to him. A guy like him wouldn't be in her way, he could be an asset to her. She now understood why Buffy could allow him as a friend. Although Buffy would never realize it that she needs him . . . <Well, at least she knew Xander would come to me, but even she wouldn't have expect a stunt like this from him . . . Or would she?> she thought back to some of his adventures. <He had always walked over the thin line, but had managed never to fall.>

". . . But I guess you know that James doesn't use a .380, he being a brit and . . ."

<You and I, gonna be a team?> she questioned to herself. She then looked at him and frowned. <Still need a lot of life lessons, but hey, that can be arranged . . .> she thought while she grinned wickedly to herself, liking her lips. Then she remembered Angel's words again.

<Three times? No, even four attempts. Kindness, coldness, bravery and now with humor, hmmm, wonder what more he has . . .> She put away her knife in one of her pockets.

For a full minute she just stared at him and then suddenly tossed the 'Walter PPK' back to Xander. She raised her hands. "You win," she simply said while grinning.



Together they walked out of the building into the nice sun which shown brightly over Sunnydale. It made Xander smile, <sometimes things do work out!> They walked side by side over the pavement 'till Xander saw a trash can and unconsciously tossed his water pistol into the can.

Faith stared at the can. "What? You're throwing it away?" she asked, amazed. Xander just shrugged. She walked to the can and picked it out quickly. She saw Xander looking surprised at her. She grinned at him. "It might have saved my life . . . I am going to keep it!"

Xander smiled and they walked further. After a short while he reached into his pocket and picked out an object. "Then I will keep this . . ." he said while he showed her his real PPK. She looked at it and her eyes grew wide . . . absolutely stunned! He grinned at her. "It might have saved mine!"

END? Continue?