the bunny warren v. Faith

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The Hope Chronicles - Chapter 2
Hope's Secret

Series: The Hope Chronicles
Author: Venus Blue
Written: 2001
Summary: Set during the events of "This Year’s Girl" and "Who are You." Hope’s been keeping a secret, which may destroy her relationship with the Gang.
Rating: PG-13, for tactful sexual situations.
Spoilers: This Year's Girl and Who Are You?
Feedback: Do I need to say it?
Disclaimer: Yeah, yeah, Joss can have ‘em. But Hope’s still mine! Yep! She’s all mine! There’s also that little thing about Kathleen Wilhoite owning the song lyrics I borrowed. But I only borrowed ‘em! She can have ‘em back!
AN: Hope and Giles have been dating for about six months. If you haven’t read "With a Little Hope," just know that Hope is Giles’ new girlfriend.

Four words sent my entire world into a spiral. With her declaration, Buffy had no idea that she’d just made me die a little inside.

On one hand, I felt euphoric. Why shouldn’t I? I’d been waiting for this for so long. Almost the entirety of my life, I’d looked. And then for almost seven months I’d waited. Hoped. Prayed. And now…what I wanted was finally here. I should have been singing to the rooftops.

Yet on the other, I felt all-consuming dread in my heart. Buffy…the gang. How would they react? And Rupert? Rupert, the man I’d grown to love more than anyone ever in my life. How would he take it? Would he hate me for keeping it from him?

I’d tried to visit her ever week. Between teaching and spending time with Rupert, I’d been terribly busy, but I did visit. I talked to her for at least an hour, sometimes more. And now. Now she was going to be here. She would see me. How would she react?

After all…she hadn’t seen me in over fifteen years. Her sister. Her only sister.

With four words, Buffy had turned my entire world upside down.

********************

"It’s Faith. She’s awake."

Everyone turned to stare at Buffy. No one quite knew what to say. Shock…fear…that’s what radiated from the stares. But not from one face. One face just showed horror. Disbelief and horror.

I watched her from my spot at the window. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was really her. Sitting there which Willow and Xander, staring at a spot on the floor. There was no mistaking it.

My sister. What the hell is my sister doing in Sunnydale?

********************

Everyone’s gone home. It’s just Rupert and I now. He looks a little worse for the wear. He takes off his glasses and rubs the bridge of his nose, which is a sure sign of worry. Though my head is reeling and I want to cry, I walk to him and take his hand, leading him to the couch. We sit, and he leans back against me as I gently massage his temples. He rubs my knee absently, and we sit in comfortable silence like that for a good five minutes. I rest against the crook of the couch, inhaling the scent that is uniquely Rupert.

I love him so much.

I feel the tears begin to well, and I use everything I have to bite them back.

"I’m sure that was a bit confusing for you," he says suddenly.

"Hmm?" I murmur, not trusting my voice.

"That business about Faith. I noticed you didn’t say anything for the rest of the meeting."

"Well, I just assumed it was slayer business. You know I don’t interfere in that."

"Faith is…well, things with Faith are complicated. She was…she…"

I could tell he was faltering for words, and I gently reached around to trace his lips with my fingertips.

"Don’t. It’s alright. You don’t have to explain anything to me."

He sighed and turned so he lay sideways against me, and he leaned his head up to rest his chin on my shoulder. I rested my forehead on his, and looked into his gorgeous eyes.

"Things are going to be very tense around here for awhile, I’m afraid. I won’t be able to relax for a good while."

"I’m used to it," I joked lightly, kissing his eyelids.

He slid down and rested his head in my lap, and I gently stroked his hair. I could never bring myself to say the words. But every time I saw him, or even thought of him, my heart sang them.

I love you, Rupert. I love you.

But would he love me when he learned the secret? Or would he despise me…I had to tell him. I knew I did. But how?

"Rupert?"

"Hmm?"

I hesitated. I had no idea how to brace this subject, and I didn’t want to try.

"Nothing. Let’s go upstairs."

He slowly rose, and I took his hand, leading him up the stairs. We went into the bedroom, and he took me into his arms, planting kisses along my jawline and collarbone.

It felt so wonderful, but I had to force myself to say, "No."

He looked at me with surprise. He knew how to push the buttons, and which buttons to push when.

"Lay down. On your stomach."

He looked at me, a small grin forming on his lips, and I said, "Please?"

He did as he was told, and I straddled his back, using his butt as a seat. I began to massage his shoulders, feeling the taught muscles beneath.

"Just relax. You’ll feel much better soon."

He took his glasses off and set them on the side table, a gesture I found more endearing than anything.

My arms began to grow sore as I felt him finally easing up underneath me, and I suppose he could tell my strokes were lightening, because in a flash I was beneath him, and he continued his earlier attack on my collarbone.

It started slowly, gentle kisses and feathery touches, and slowly built, engulfing us in wave after wave of passion. It swept us up in a great swell of ecstasy, until we were panting and gasping and holding each other, concentrating only on us.

As we came down, he kissed me gently, and I suckled his neck, stroking the back of his neck. He lay on his back, and I rested my head on his chest, listening to the steady rhythm of his heart, and gently running my fingers through the soft grey hair on his chest.

"Rupert?"

"Hmm?" he said, gently stroking my hair.

"I love you."

I felt his arms tighten around my waist.

"There was never any doubt. I love you more than anything in the world."

We pulled the comforter out from under us, and covered up. When I knew he was asleep, I let the tears roll. I sobbed silently, horrified that this would be our last night together.

********************

As I walked through the center of town, I looked around at the crowds of people. I knew she had to be around here somewhere. But where?

Rupert had gone with Xander to look for her. I asked if he wanted me to tag along, but he said it was too dangerous. That she was a loose cannon and he didn’t want me getting hurt.

I cried for an hour after he left. I’d been trying to work up the courage all day to tell him. But it never happened. No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t bring myself to give him the hurtful news.

Memories flashed behind my eyes as I passed a window with an array of knives displayed for public view. I remembered watching over Faith when Mom was passed out in the living room, too heavy for a small child to carry to her bed. Playing dolls with Faith, taking her with me whenever I went out with my friends. We were as close as two sisters could be.

When social services took me, Faith had run. She ran out the back door before they could stop her. I never heard whether she went back to live with Mom, or stayed on the run. My father discouraged me from contacting my mother. He didn’t want her in our lives. When I finally did get in touch with her, I was informed she’d sold Faith to the Watcher’s Council. Horrified, I looked up everything I could on this council. I found out about the other slayers, and heard from rumors about the world famous Buffy Summers. It was through a lot of confusion and rumors I learned about the second slayer, who came to Sunnydale after her watcher was killed. When Daddy died, I ran to Sunnydale, only to find my sister in a coma.

Now she was awake. And alone.

********************

"Rupert? Honey, are you home?"

I unlocked the front door and walked in to see Rupert talking to four men, dressed all in black. His expression was bleak.

"Hello, luv."

He rose and kissed my cheek, and I said, "Hey. We have guests?"

"Um, yes," he said, and I could see his discomfort. "They’re…old friends from England. I was hoping to speak with them-"

"No problem. I’m going to go grab a shower."

As I walked up the stairs, I heard one of the men say, "She’s pretty, Rupert. A little young, eh?"

I paused to hear his reply.

"It’s really none of your business. That ‘young’ lady is the most important part of my life. You came here for a reason, get to it."

I continued up the stairs, and started running the bathwater.

I had been soaking in bubbles and bath oil for about twenty minutes when Rupert came in.

"Hello, darling. Where have you been?"

"I got restless. I went for a walk."

He nodded and sat on the closed toilet, running his hands through his hair.

"What is it, Rupert? What’s wrong? Did you find Faith?"

"No, no, no we haven’t found Faith yet. We found Spike, and he was his usual giving self. Now this."

"Those men downstairs. Who were they?"

He sighed, and said, "Council. Special operations unit."

I grimaced at the mention of the council. I knew they’d put Rupert through hell over the past year and a half.

"They were here because of Faith?"

"They’re planning on capturing her, bringing her to England and rehabilitating her. Not sure how well that’s going to go, but I imagine it’s worth a shot."

I grabbed his hand with my soap-covered one, and said, "It’s going to be alright. I know it will."

He gave me a small smile, and I said, "You want to join me?"

"Mm. Sounds tempting, but I think I’m just going to go to bed."

He kissed my forehead, and said, "Goodnight, luv."

"Goodnight, Rupert."

********************

"I’ve called Buffy. She’ll be here soon."

Anya, Xander, and Willow were all at the house. Giles had gotten news about Faith, and he wanted to convene a meeting to discuss the findings.

He’d told me nothing, saying he’d wait and tell everyone at the meeting. My stomach was in knots, and I couldn’t even drink the tea he offered.

As I tried to listen to a joke Xander was telling, Buffy arrived, a bright smile on her face.

"The gang’s all here. Willow, Xander, and…"

She eyed Anya, and said, "Everybody."

Plopping down on the table in a very un-Buffy like manner, she asked, "What’s up?"

Giles began to tell about the council capturing Faith, and I noticed Buffy watching me intently.

Does she know? I wondered, feeling a little panicky. I looked at her quizzically, and she smiled.

As they talked, I noticed Buffy acted…strangely. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but she seemed different.

While Anya and Giles bickered, I watched Willow walk over and speak to her briefly, then there was talk of Adam. Buffy stated she was going to patrol that night, and the meeting was over. I walked over to her and said, "Buffy, are you feeling alright?"

She looked into my eyes, and I studied her face. There was something there. What was it?

"I’m fine, Hope. Really. I’m fiv…I’m good."

I cocked my head and said, "Alright. Well, be careful on patrol tonight."

"Always. You know me."

********************

"Rupert?" I asked as we cleaned up that night. "Did you notice Buffy acting…a little strange tonight?"

He looked over at me and said, "I didn’t notice anything. Why?"

"I don’t know. She just seemed…different."

"I’m sure it’s just stress over Faith coming back, and having to deal with past demons."

"Yes, I guess," I said, turning away from him and going into the kitchen.

"Hope? Is everything alright? You haven’t been acting like your usual self either."

I shrugged my shoulders and said, "I just…I’ve had a lot on my mind."

He came up behind me as I washed the dishes, and put his arms around my waist.

"Want to talk about it?"

I smiled and said, "It’s not important. Not even worth mentioning."

He sighed and buried his face in my hair.

"Alright, darling. I’m going to go upstairs and take a shower. You can finish up down here?"

"Mm-hmm. Almost done."

I turned my head and kissed him, and said, "I’ll be up in a little while."

He went upstairs, and I continued to wash the dishes.

England. My sister is being sent to England.

I was tired of crying. I knew there was no way to get Faith back. The Council was dangerous, and I wasn’t about to mess with them.

I finished cleaning up, and went upstairs.

********************

When I woke up the next day, Rupert was already up and out of bed. The clock on the nightstand read 9:30.

I pulled on my robe, ran a brush through my hair, and walked downstairs. There I saw something that stopped me in my tracks.

"Faith."

Rupert and Faith looked up at me on the stairs, and she said, "No, Hope, I’m Buffy."

"What?"

"Faith switched our bodies. She had some device."

But Rupert just stared at me.

"How did you know she was Faith? You’ve never seen her before."

His eyes bore into me, and I couldn’t meet his gaze.

"Giles, Faith has taken my body and we have to get it back."

Willow burst through the door at that instant, a pretty blonde girl trailing behind her.

I watched as they discussed how to use the Katra that Willow held in her hand, but Rupert just stared at me, his eyes full of confusion.

The phone rang, and he ran to get it. He talked for a few seconds, then hung up.

"That was Xander."

He turned the television on, and there was a news report about people holed up in a church by what sounded like vampires.

We headed out, and when we got to the church, some police officers tried to keep us. Rupert distracted them while Fai-, er, Buffy, ran around through the back.

I wanted to follow her, to go with her to find my sister, but I didn’t dare. I stood with Willow, Tara, and Rupert, and waited.

"Hope? I think we need to talk."

I looked over at Rupert, and said, "Later. Yes, we do."

It seemed like an eternity before I saw Faith run out of the church. As she ran, she turned her head and her eyes locked with mine. It hurt me to see such pain in them.

Buffy came out a little later, and she was breathless and disoriented.

"Alright. Let’s go."

********************

Disappointment stops by from time to time
To see how I’m doing
And he came by last night right after you left
My life in ruin

"Rupert, I didn’t want to hurt you."

It was later that night, and I had just explained everything to him. Livid was an understatement.

"How could you have kept this from me? Did you think it didn’t matter?"

"Rupert, I didn’t think it was all that important, and then-"

"I told you!" he roared. "I told you what Jenny did to me! And even after that, you deliberately kept something as important as this from me!"

Tears were pouring freely from my eyes now, and I said, "I didn’t do it to hurt you! I swear!"

"A lot good that does!"

"Rupert, please!"

"Get out of my sight. I want you out of this apartment, and out of my life."

My heart constricted, and I had to pause to catch my breath.

"You can’t mean that."

"Oh, I mean it. I don’t want to see you again. Ever."

I sobbed into my hands, and he slammed out of the house.

~The End


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