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Back to the Beginning:

Can't or Won't

by Amanda



SUMMARY: Big Bad has been defeated, relationships are on the mend, so then what could possibly hold back the Slayers?
GENERAL COPYRIGHT / DISCLAIMERS: Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel the syndicated series and all other characters who have appeared in both shows are the sole property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy & UPN. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.
NOTE: All works remain the © copyright of the original author. These may not be republished without the author's consent.
DISCLAIMER #2: Lyrics below from Warlock, by Skinny Puppy. I was bopping my head listening to this song when the "theme" for this part came into my head, SO, thanks to them.
SPOILERS: All of Season Six.
NOTE #1: This is the fifth of a series, read the others first.
NOTE #2: If it is written in italics it is the character's thoughts. (or dreams, but you can figure those out). Flashback is in < > (still hate them, but needed to write this one down)
NOTE #3: Going out on a limb here. Don't hate me for molding this Faith into something…
NOTE #4: Why can't they just be happy, rolling around naked and in love you ask? I suck at PWP, that's why and so I have to dwell in childishly thought up plots, which = boring. I will leave the tantalizingly yummy fics to the writers that excel at it, (bows before Sway & Nikita & Michele, & heck everyone else)
DATE: 070902- 071202

Listen to the Music


… self confessed criminal, tore pen in vain, instant still spellbound, game stock talk back rock, reencounter incident subsistence inexistent, non committed, unwitted, oblivious, habitual resistor, buff the stuff, roughed up edge, fluent nudge, pre-collect ignition motivation inexistent, wasted views that's all they see… abusive recluse, too late for me, make shifting peace, settling, crazy things keep your eyes open, soft spoken changes nothing… retold impressed by possession, insiders know refresh detained contest off and pure, sure tonight it feeds itself, freeze in time or shadows climb distracting override, instincts evolve and try over and over, wasted truth why call at all, blue hot lines eventual decline, with the right attitude you will succeed, blue resent that discontent, sidestep, define the state of things, so far,"

~warlock, by skinny puppy.



She was lying on her back, staring up into the sky, watching as the black turned to deep blue, and the stars got progressively lighter. She was sore everywhere, but it didn't seem to matter all that much. All that Willow wanted to do was to lay there looking at the stars, feeling the peace and calm that was Tara, that was still dancing in her heart.

A dark figure leaned over her. Pale skin, still marred by cuts and bruises was framed by raven hair. Willow looked up into Faith's brown eyes and wondered, for not the first time, how people couldn't see how kind she truly was. How people could take her aggression, her presence and think that was all there was to her. Willow could feel the goodness in her.

"Boy am I glad to see you." Faith said.

"Really?" Willow asked, with a grin. She listened as Faith squatted next to her, and the Slayer's knees popped.

"Oh, hell yeah. I had visions of having to search for Willow bits all over the place, and I forgot to bring a bag to put you in." She said grinning. The moonlight caught in her eyes, making them sparkle impishly.

"Faith." Willow sighed.

"Tellin' you like it is." She helped Willow sit up slowly, and then ripped off some of her tee shirt and used it to wipe away some of the blood that had collected on Willow's face from her bleeding nose.  "So how'd you do it?" She asked, sitting back looking at her clean up job.

"Tara." Willow smiled.

"Like Ghost Tara?" Faith asked.

"Like memories of Tara." Willow grinned.

"Oh." Faith said, rubbing her palms on her thighs, nervously.

"I am going to be alright." Willow declared.

"Damn straight you are." Faith added.

Willow held out her arms. "But I can't walk."  Faith lifted her into her arms, and waited for her to settle.

"You know, I think you just like being in my arms." Faith joked as she began walking them out of the meadow.

"Don't flatter yourself, Slayer. You stink." Willow giggled. Around them the sounds of morning began filling the air.



The whole gang was there when I got back with Red. She had been quiet during the hour it took me to carry her back. But that was okay by me. I needed some babble free time to think about everything that had happened that night. It was almost too much to believe. I mean, this couldn't be real, right? Defending the Hellmouth – well really Red did all of that, but lots of dead vampires, lots of pulled muscles and cuts, and lots of kissing. Well okay, maybe not a lot of kissing, but way more than I was used to, and with B no less.

The question I kept asking myself was; what did it mean? Was it her hormones and stress? Did she just need a little bit of courage, and there was no JD in the house? Did she want something more from me? And did I want more from her.

The years spent in prison, I dealt with the unrequited love thing. I mulled over things in my head again and again, playing them differently. What if I had tried sooner, before Angel came back? What if I had fought harder for her to be with me instead of him? But I always came back to the same place. No matter how much I loved that girl, no matter how much I needed her; it had always been up to her. She said no. And when that hit me like a ton of brinks in prison I decided. I did not love her anymore. I let the anger and hate for her grow, as strong as the love had been.

Tara once teased me, telling me that B would always be my obsession. That I was going to love her and hate her forever. I, of course, told her she was full of shit. Gently and carefully, Tara told me that it was a fine line between love and hate. It was all about passion. She was right there. Definitely some passion.

But now? Sure we had kissed, but that was it. Sure, earlier, in the basement of the new school, after she kissed me so hard I thought my head was going to burst, I wanted her.  I wanted to touch her and taste her, have her for once SCREAMING my name. But now? The adrenaline was gone from my muscles, the fight was over, and the world was saved yet again. So now, did I still want her?

"Hey." Xander said as he opened the back door for me. I turned so I wouldn't smack Red's head on the doorframe.

"They all here?" I asked, moving through the kitchen. In the living room I found all of them, sprawled here and there. B was holding Kiddo on her lap as she slept. She gave me a wide smile, and I turned away, setting Red down on the couch that Giles had just gotten up from.

Did I still want B? Hell yeah. Could I let myself ever care about her again? I didn't know.



Dawn was still asleep in her lap, as Buffy leaned against the wall. Willow was sitting up on the couch, drinking some tea that Giles had offered. Xander was there now, and had finally stopped complaining that he missed all of the fun. Buffy looked across the room. Faith was standing far away, by the front door, her arms cross, her head slightly down. She wasn't looking at any one, her eyes just down at the floor. Buffy wondered what she was thinking. She hoped she was thinking about her. Buffy wanted to get up and walk over to her and pull her into her arms, and just hold her. Tightly hold her.

Sure she had been acting like the Buffy-Bot for months, walking around empty. The only time she felt anything was when the lust for the kill or the sex was taking her over. She looked over at Faith again. She knew what it was like. Faith had intimate first hand knowledge of what it was like to be consumed by the nothing. But it was clear that Faith had beaten it, learned to control it. And Buffy wanted the same thing, and already she was feeling better. She had pushed Jane away, realizing that the poor young girl was simply a replacement for the beautiful woman standing across the room from her. Just those few kisses, in them Buffy had felt a memory of something she had once known, and desperately wanted again. While they were waiting for Faith to come back she had thought about it. Trying to decide exactly what she felt, what she was still feeling for the other Slayer. What Buffy wouldn't give for everyone to just not here, so she could walk over, cup her palm under Faith's chin and raise her head, to look into those eyes?

"…then Buffy said you just poofed." Xander was talking and she turned her head when she heard her name, zeroing in on the conversation.

"Right." Willow said and took a sip of the tea.

"So Wills, where did you poof to?" Buffy asked. She noticed that Faith looked up when she spoke. Buffy met the Slayer's eyes, and they both just looked, searched for something. Gently she smiled, and Faith looked away again.

"I teleported."

"You what?" Xander asked. "I thought you were no magic Willow."

"I figured it out, guys. It wasn't the magic that was bad, it was the dark magic that I couldn't control." Willow began.

"You do realize-" Giles started, but Willow set her hand on his leg.

"No, see, I do realize. I figured it out. So calm down Xander, I'm not all dark and brooding and psycho."

"We got enough of that with her," Xander leaned his head towards Faith. He had whispered to Willow, but Buffy had heard, and she saw Faith tense, knowing she heard too.

"Xander!" Buffy yelled.

"Sorry." He looked at Faith, "Sorry."

"Whatever." Faith pushed off from the door. "I am going to get some sleep." She opened the front door and walked out. Willow watched her, eyes rounding and then she looked back at Buffy. The red head was pleading with Buffy to do something.

"Holburn?" Buffy asked, trying to get out from under Dawn.

"Oh, yes, of course." He kneeled and pulled Dawn into his arms. She murmured and then turned to burry her face into his neck. "Oh my, well, okay." He settled down with the young Summers wrapped around him. Buffy stood up and walked quickly out the door. Faith was standing at the front gate, a hand resting on her back, her head bowed.

"Faith?" Buffy asked, as she stepped up next to the girl. She straightened up.

"It's cool B. I'm just a little tired." She offered.

"Please don't go."

"I need sleep." Faith said and pushed open the gate.

"Stay with me? You can, I mean."

"No, Buffy." She turned onto the cracked sidewalk, her head still hanging low.

"What happened tonight, Faith, I have wanted that for a really really long time." Buffy offered as Faith walked away. Buffy couldn't let her just walk away. Not again. "You said you were going to help me Faith." Faith faltered in her steps. Buffy knew she had her with that. "I thought you meant it. I thought you of all people would know how badly I need you." Faith turned around, her eyes searching Buffy's face.

"I." Faith stopped and held her hand up, silencing Buffy. "I know exactly how it feels B. Remember I was right where you are now, and I needed you."

"But you didn't know how to ask. I do. I am asking. Faith, will you help me?"

Faith nodded.

"I know none of this is fair, that I should never ask you for this, not after everything that I didn't do for you. You know Faith," She stepped closer to the younger girl. "I like that you didn't say you were sorry, I like that I didn't say I was sorry. I think we both know that there is nothing that can make up for what both of us did. And I am not talking about you killing Allan, and I am not talking about the Knights of Byzantium that I killed." Faith flinched, and Buffy realized that the other Slayer had not known. She waved her hand, "That we can talk about another day. But what I was saying, this is about you and me, Faith.  What we did emotionally to each other. I clearly broke your heart, and you made me a victim. I don't know if we can ever truly get past that." She was standing in front of Faith now. "I do know that in those kisses," she ran her hand up Faith's arm, "God it was like feeling the sun for the first time." Buffy smiled dreamily. "I felt so much of everything." She opened her eyes again, slowly, looking at Faith. "I felt you." She cupped her cheek. "I need you Faith. For a million different things I need you. Selfish as that sounds, it is true. I just don't want to take, either. I want to give you what you need too, whatever it is."

Faith's lips opened, like she was going to speak, but then they snapped shut, and she shook her head, looking exhausted. Buffy leaned forward, just lightly brushing their lips together.

"You need to stay here. I am wired, so you can have my bed." She tugged on Faith's hand, and the girl relented, walking behind her.



I felt my brow furrow. She was making me feel, making my heart speed up.  Last time I felt love for her, she broke my heart and I freaked out and lost myself. I didn't want to let that happen again. But I was still letting her drag me into her house; I let her push me in the direction of her room. I walked up the stairs, looking back once, to she her smiling up at me. My stomach jumped. I couldn't do this; I couldn't let myself love her.

I sat on the edge of her bed, cupping my face in my hands.

What had really set me off? Made me go over the deep end? Was it her turning me down, not once but twice? Was it her hearing my declaration of love, something I have NEVER done before, and not saying anything about it? Did that shattered me? It could have been all of those things. If it were only B, and that, it would have played differently. It was everything back then really. It was being shunned by the Scoobies, it was being betrayed by a wack-job-reject-Watcher, and then betrayed by Wesley. It was being treated like spare parts, like the rusty axe that you knew still cut, and you used it and put it away, knowing that you really should take it out more, maybe polish it up, sharpen it, but there just never seemed to be time. It was feeling like I had my whole life, that I was just there to be used, then put away, ignored. From my Mother and Father I learned the craving for being needed. For wanting someone to need me. And I was needed. Everyone needed me. B needed me to fight with her when it was a little tough, Xander needed me to fulfill his Slayer fantasy, and Wesley needed me to prove to the Council he could be a Watcher.

But they only needed my body.

That was it, wasn't it? Not being valued and needed for who I was inside, but instead just a tool. Always a tool. My entire life people looked at me, and all they saw was this body, and thought about how they could use it. Even though my mind was screaming, "what about me?" What about my emotions, what about that? Who ever asked me what I was feeling, and actually wanted an answer? In the beginning, with the Mayor, he put me on a pedestal, telling me I was the one he wanted, that even if B came begging he would turn her away. That had felt fucking amazing. Until I realized that he just wanted the Slayer, the body, the tool.

When I cracked, really cracked, was when I begged Angel to kill me. To kill the body. On some weird level I was praying for a release from it, from the baggage I carried with it. Because in heaven or hell, wherever I ended up, it would just be the me inside.

What I went through was clearly different than what B was going through now. She was always the whole of her parts, everyone knew that. When they asked her how she was feeling, they waited for the answer. They wanted to know. All she was fighting now it seemed was her true nature. She needed to accept who Buffy Summers truly was, not what everyone wanted her to be, expected her to be. She wasn't all innocent and pure. Like I always said, there is no such thing as innocent. She loved the shadows, liked the feel of the mud under her hands. That was who she was. B would never be truly happy until she accepted that.

Ah, but the problem. How could I help her to do that? Sure I promised, and I wanted to see it, wanted to see her rise above this confusion and emptiness, the thing of it was, I didn't know how I could. Maybe she needed Spike to come back. He was everything she needed. Darkness, passion, power. All wrapped in a pretty package, with the acceptable bow between his legs.

It was clear to me that what B had going on with Jane wasn't about two women, it wasn't about being gay. It was about dominance. Spike would submit to her, just like Jane did. If she was expecting the same from me, she was sadly mistaken. I wouldn't do that, not even for her, not for anyone ever again.



Buffy sat down next to Willow on the couch, looking out the open front window just one more time. The sun was coming up, and it was a new day, and Faith was upstairs in her bed.

She tried to concentrate on the conversation around her, but all she wanted was to see Faith, talk to her more, to explain, to tell her how sorry she was for ever hurting her in the past, and that she wanted to make it all better, wanted to move forward.

"So I got all of that energy inside of me." Willow was going on.

"Was it neutral?" Giles asked, rubbing his forehead.

"Yeah, and that was when I knew that I could actually use it. Not to be all evil and destroy the world," Willow sighed, "But to help myself."

"But the earthquake?" Holburn asked.

"That was me, imploding."

"What?" Xander exclaimed. "You aren't in little pieces."

"I know." Willow smiled. "I let the Key's energy collide with the dark magic that was still inside of me. And well, earthquake."

"You are a powerful witch." Holburn mused, shifting Dawn on his lap.

"Was, was a powerful witch. Our Wills is a magic free girl." Xander beamed.

"No, I'm not." She said softly.

"Willow." Giles hesitated.

"It's okay. I figured it out. What Tara was trying to tell me all along, but I was so caught up that I didn't want to hear it. I am still a witch Xander." She stood slowly. "And yeah, I am still really powerful. But I can control it."

"No you can't." Xander protested.

"Yes I can, and I will."

"This is bullshit." Xander stood.

"That is quite enough." Giles stood. "It has been a long and trying day, and I believe it is time for us all to depart." He walked over to Willow, setting his hand on her shoulder. "I will be leaving tomorrow, but hope you consider my offer."

"Offer? What offer?" Buffy asked, shocked.

"Giles invited me to come out to England in the fall, do some studying with the Council, bum around Oxford." Willow shrugged like she was talking about going to the supermarket, not across to another continent.

"Oh?" Buffy said.

"Don't worry Buffy, I am still thinking about it." Willow grinned.

"Yes. Do so." Giles pulled her to him tightly and whispered in her ear. "Please take care, I know that this will be a painful time for you, but they are all here for you, and love you and will support you. Do be careful with the magic. I know that Tara's spirit will guide you." Buffy heard all of it, with her Slayer hearing. She smiled. "I love you Willow." Giles concluded and kissed the red head's cheek. Upon releasing her, Willow sat back down on the couch.

"Xander, walk with me?" Giles asked.

"Where? I thought you had been staying here?" He asked.

"Xander, walking you home is the pretext so that we may discuss a few things." Giles shook his head walking past. Holburn came down the stairs, and leaned over to Buffy.

"I am very sorry that I went into Dawn's room, Buffy. But I feared that nature called, and well-" She set her hand on his arm.

"It's okay." Buffy grinned.

"Ah, good. I am off then. See you in the morning, err, later morning, Rupert?"

"Quite. Perhaps four hours?" Giles looked at his watch as they two men walked out the front door, Xander trailing behind. Buffy turned and dropped onto the couch next to Willow. The Wicca set her head on Buffy's shoulder.

"Faith sleeping?" She asked.

"I think so." Buffy closed her eyes for a moment, sensing the house. "Yupe, two sleeping beauties upstairs. "

"Buffy, do you love her?"

"Willow? What are you talking about?" Buffy exclaimed leaning away from her friend. Willow raised her head.

"I saw the way you two were all looking at each other when she brought me back to the house. My little Sapphic nose smells something. So spill!"

"Um, weird visual place." Buffy shook her head, clearing her thoughts "What is there to spill?"

"Something happened Buffy Summers, and I as your best friend am calling you on it. I am using my best friend card."

"We kissed." Buffy confessed.

"Ah." Her eyes rounded as she spoke.

"More than once." Buffy smiled.

"How was it? Was it all passion and fiery, you know, a toe curling kiss? She certainly has the lips for it, I mean have you seen the way they just sit there begging to be – okay not that I ever thought about her in that way. Maybe a little lie in there, I mean, Buffy, you have looked at her right? She is walking sex. No, I wasn't meaning I wanted to have sex with Faith, just that she is sexy, yeah." Willow took a deep breath "I just kept falling deeper in that hole."

"Yes. You did." Buffy bumped her with her shoulder. "But I think I got it. Faith is hot,"

"Oh, yeah." She cringed. "Sorry, will silently stay in my visual happy place." Willow made a Zipped motion over her lips.

"You know Will, for about half a second the other day I thought that maybe the two of you had, you know-"

"What do I know?'

"You know, something going on." Buffy wiggled her eyebrows.

"Me and Faith?" Willow smiled. "Buffy, I may think that Faith is breathtakingly beautiful, and that body just begs to have whipped cream licked off of it; ahem. There is no spark. Not between us. Nope, just good friends. Strictly platonic – and I mean that in the most literal sense, not in the kissing Xander platonic sense."

"Okay, Wills, gotcha."

"So you kissed?" Willow asked, pulling the conversation back around.

Buffy nodded.

"Was it?"

"It was. Wow and amazing, and anything else you can think to say."

"So what will you do now? Will you start dating?"

"I don't know Willow. I think, well, I mean, maybe it was a heat of the moment thing."


"You know, end of the world is coming, kiss me. A one time thing." Buffy's shoulders slumped.

"Faith isn't like that."

"I am." Buffy frowned. "I am still really confused Willow, not sure what is going on. I mean I am just coming to terms with the fact that I probably wasn't in the REAL heaven. And that all of the things I have been doing to myself over the past year."

"Whoa. Wait a second. What things?"

"Things, Will."

"Tell me about said things. Are there more things? I mean more than Spike, and for the record, eew."

"There was more than just Spike. Allot more. But, I um, would rather not talk about that." She rubbed her chin. "Where is Spike anyway?"

"Don't know, don't care. I hope he never comes back. And for his sake I hope he stays away. Faith will dust him."

"I thought you guys liked Spike."

"Buff, he was a vampire, sure so was Angel, but Spike was, just. What I mean to say is that. Okay. Honest Willow. He was a fucking loser who only wanted you because you were the Slayer. Sure he said he loved you, but please. Trying to rape you in the bathroom, no, there are lines that are not to be crossed, and he did. He rubbed right through them. So I am glad he is gone, and don't want him to come back."

"Look at you, impassioned Willow. I like it." Buffy hugged her. "You have come a long way, since, erm."

"I know. I just needed some guidance."

"How are you?"

"Some days are better than others. I won't say there aren't nightmares, and a whole lot of tears. But this isn't about me, and losing Tara. This is about you."

After Willow left, Buffy went up to her bedroom. She stood in the doorway for some time, arms crossed looking at the figure in her bed. Faith was lying on top of the blankets, fully clothed. One hand was tucked under her head, the other laying open on the bedspread. Buffy pushed off the wall, closing the door behind her as she walked closer. She softly sat on the edge of the bed, and moved her finger over the back of Faith's hand.

"So strong." She sighed. "Don't understand it, don't know why, but I need you so much, Faith." Buffy leaned down and kissed Faith's cheek. As she leaned back she noticed Faith's eyes were open and alert, like she had never been asleep. "Hey."

"Hey." Faith said, moving to sit up. "About me helping you."

Buffy looked at, searching her eyes. The tone was one filled with a definite ‘But'.

"I don't know how I can help you." Faith shrugged. "What I went through and what you are going through are way different."

"I know what I am feeling, Faith."

"So then tell me. Lay it all out, B."

"When I patrol I am hunting. I can see that now. The thrill of chasing a vamp. I mean, I even let them get away so I can chase them sometimes.  When I am just being, like earlier, I was sitting out there with Dawnie, and I just felt stagnant. Like there was something I should be doing, and it wasn't sipping lemonade with my sister. I should be hunting." She paused. "I don't just hunt demons." Faith nodded for her to go on. "I have found myself, not all the time, but sometimes, out hunting for, erm, a well-"

"A fuck buddy. I get ya." Faith completed her thought.

"Crude-much? But yeah, I guess that is right."

"What about Jane?" Faith asked.

"I can't find her." She sat up straighter, "Ah, not that I have been looking. I mean, with what is going on here-"

"B, I understand your relationship with her. I do. I think the problem here is that you don't."

"I do, I totally get it. And that's why there is nothing going on between her and I."


"I know she was just a replacement for you." Faith looked shocked. "I used to go to your apartment. I had no idea that Tara lived there. But I had come back, you know, and then told everyone that I thought I was in heaven. I was just feeling so lost, floating around, not feeling anything.  It dawned on me one night. That what I was missing was you. So I went there and just stood, looking up at the roof, replaying that night in my mind. Over and over, each night I went there. You ever think about that night?"

"All the time."

"I wonder what I could have done differently, you know? If I had been thinking at all. You gave me the perfect out, but I didn't take it. You were right what you said the other day. I wanted to punish you. I wanted to hurt you. Lashing out, trying to push down the confusion and the feelings." She sighed. "But I went every night for a while. One night this tall, dark hared figure came out of the fog, and I just let go. For that one night I let go." She took her hand. "The whole time I was thinking about you, it was you and me."

Faith swallowed deeply, and Buffy noticed just the faintest hint of color at the bottom of her cheeks. "So what changed? I mean between you and Jane?"

"When I woke up in the morning, seeing her face, knowing she wasn't you, that kinda sealed the deal. I couldn't do what I did again. Unfortunately, Spike came along, and just loved the fact that I was laying in bed, naked with a woman."

"So you did what came natural." Faith grinned.

"Big orgy. Yupe. But it changed. I knew what she was, and I used her. I used her as much as I used Spike."

"What did you use them for?"

"I controlled them." Buffy started and then stopped. She felt nervous talking like this, but she told herself, who better to understand then Faith? Faith waited. "Nothing in my life made any sense, it felt like it was all happening around me and I had no control over it. I hated that feeling. But when I was, with them, I was in control of the situation. Am I making any sense?"

"Perfect." Faith rubbed her inner forearm absently. "I did that to."


"Yeah, but not with the sex." She shrugged. "I would cut myself." She waited. "HS tells me that it is about control too. When you feel like everything in your life is out of your hands, and you are just going with it, we need something to make us feel like we are actually there, in life. So I would cut myself. I controlled where, I controlled how deep, and I controlled how long I bled." Faith shrugged  "Just like you controlled who came, and when, and how."

"You did see me." Buffy looked down ashamed. She never knew she could be so aggressive sexually, but she was when it came to Jane. It was something she never knew she was capable of. Faith's admission was not a surprise, Buffy had noticed the faint white scars on the inside of her forearm before. Only now she better understood.

"I saw enough to know that you were in complete control." Faith nodded.

"I don't need that from her anymore, Faith. I don't want it."

"You do need it, sometimes, B. And that is okay." She ran her finger over Buffy's cheek. "Problem is, I can't give that control up to you."

"Oh, but I didn't mean that. I meant that I don't feel so out of control anymore."


"Yes really. You are helping me so much."

"That's me, being all helpful." She grinned, and Buffy wanted to kiss her cheek, but didn't.

"Speaking of which. Did I tell you that Xander and Anya are back together? And I mean in the biblical sense?"

"No shit?" she chuckled. "Finally the boy seals the deal. So how did he tell you?"

"Actually I interrupted."

"B, you naughty voyeur."

"Not like that! I called Anya, and she appear, a little disheveled."

"You mean naked?"

"Yeah." The conversation had turned from serious to just talking, and that was nice. All of this was nice. Buffy closed her eyes, just feeling Faith sitting next to her, feeling like she was going to be okay, and Faith was going to be okay.

"B?" Faith asked after the long pause.


"I always wondered. Do her curtains match the carpet?"




Faith was eating her second bowel of cereal, watching Dawn pushing her spoon through the now chocolaty milk. That cereal was soggy and Faith knew Dawn wouldn't eat it. That much was clear from her smirk. Giles was taking in the scene, amused. He glanced at his watch again, wondering when Buffy would be coming down stairs. He needed to leave soon, if he was to make his flight back to London on time.

"So, Kiddo, how are you feeling?" Faith asked leaning forward.

"Normal." Dawn pouted.

"And that's bad?" Faith laughed out.

"It could be worse, I could be dead."

"No way. B would never let anything happen to you." Faith finished her last bite of breakfast, and stood to take her bowl to the sink.

"Giles, if I am not the Key any more, what am I?" Dawn looked up at him.

"You are Dawn Summers." Buffy said as she came in the room, and Giles sighed thankful that she had come to his rescue. He had been unclear on how to answer that request, as he was not even sure what the effect of the spell would have had on the young Summers.

"But am I really not the Key?"

"You could always take her to L.A." Faith shrugged turning back to the group.

"Why?" Dawn asked.

"There is this demon, Lorne. He can read your soul, your future. Maybe he can tell you guys what is happening inside of Kiddo." Faith offered, shrugging her shoulders.

"No." Buffy crossed her arms.

"Just a suggestion, B." Faith replied.

There was definite tension between the Slayers, but Giles knew that he had no time to play councilor to them. The back door opened and Holburn stepped in.

"Mr. Giles, ready when you are." He said with a drawn smile. Poor boy was exhausted, that much was clear from the circles under his eyes. He sighed heavily. He had said his goodbyes to Xander, Anya, and Willow last night. This was what he was dreading, saying goodbye to the girls he thought of as his own.

Faith stepped up to him and squeezed his arm. "I will get out of the way of family time. I just wanted to wait to tell you thank you."

"Faith?" He questioned.

"Even though, well, we all know who I am and what I have done. Still, you trusted me with them." She looked over to Buffy and Dawn with a shrug. "That meant a lot to me. So thanks." She cleared her throat. "Yeah, okay. I gotta go." She stepped away, and he watched the emotion playing out on her face. She had changed so much. Granted the girl had much more growing to do, but she was making progress and he had no doubt that Holburn would be a good influence on her. Staying here on the Hellmouth where she was needed was the best thing for her. "Don't drink to much on the flight." She grinned widely at him, and then walked to the back door. Giles noticed Buffy was tracking her with her eyes, taking in the younger Slayer's every movement. Yes, something had happened. He smiled.

"Faith, will you met me at the new house after work?" Holburn asked softly.

"Sure thing, Watcher man." She was still grinning as she walked out the back door.

Giles looked to Buffy, who still transfixed with the departing Faith. He had the urge to snap his fingers at her, but did not. She seemed to come out of it on her own, and was suddenly in his arms, clutching him.



"Am I going to be okay?" She mumbled into his chest.

"It all depends, do you think you will." He held her shoulders, pulling her back to look her in the eye. "It is all up to you Buffy. You control whether you view the glass half empty or half full."

Buffy rolled her eyes.

"I am being quite serious you know." He tapped the end of her nose, a gesture he rarely braved, but knew would be allowed as he was soon to be half way round the world. "You control the theme of your life. You shape it by your attitude. If you keep going on thinking that everything is unfair, that everyone is out to get you. That is how your life will feel." She huffed. "I know you don't want to heard this, Buffy, but I think you need to hear it. You life is going wonderfully, better than I ever believed it could. There is so much for you to be thankful and happy for. I want to see you grow even more, become even happier." He hugged her again strongly. "I am so proud of you."



She opened the door to see Faith standing there, grinning with her arms crossed. She hadn't expected to see the Slayer so early. After years of knowing and living with Buffy, Willow thought she knew a Slayer's sleeping habits.

Just another example of how different Faith and Buffy are.

"Hey you." Willow said, opening the door wider, and Faith strolled inside.

"Hey." She looked around the room. Willow had cleaned up most of the debris from the fight. Though there was still some evidence of it. "Shit." Faith walked over to the window, tapping a piece of broken glass that was jutting out from the frame. "Sorry about this. Get me the bill when it's fixed, I will take care of it." Faith said.

"Faith, you can't afford-" Willow protested.

"Sure I can. Just get it to me." She walked into the living room and sat heavily on the couch.

"The Council pays that well?" Willow asked smiling.

"God, no." She laughed. "But what they give me, and what I get from work, no problem."

"Work?" Willow asked.

"Shit, right work. I have to go." Faith sprung up from the couch.

"This just isn't fair." Willow mumbled.

"Excuse me?" Faith stopped halfway to the door.

Willow gulped, seeing Faith's scowl. "Heh." Willow faltered. "You, job, big mystery."

"My job is a mystery?" She grinned.

"There is a pool."

"Shut up!" Faith laughed. "You are betting on where I work."

"Yes." Willow nodded, partially ashamed.

"Tell me." Faith crossed her arms.

"Xander was thinking, Stripper."







"No." Faith sighed. "God, shows what you guys think of me huh?"

"I thought maybe you were a waitress." Willow shrugged. "So tell me, please?"

Faith sighed. "I shouldn't." She stepped closer to Willow. "You laugh, I will hit you. Are we clear?"

"Crystal." Willow nodded, beaming inside. She had no idea what it could be.

She glanced at her watch. "Ugh. Fine. I work over at St. Michael's."

"A church?" Willow was dumb struck.

"Sort of. I cook."

"For the priests?"

"No. I cook with a bunch of other people, for the soup kitchen they run in the evenings." Faith's shoulders dropped. "Happy?"

"Um," Willow was speechless. Faith was helping people.  Why had they not thought of that?

"Okay. I really have to go." Faith turned and walked away.

"Um, Faith?" Willow asked as the Slayer opened the door. It dawn on her that she forgot to ask before.


"Why did you come over, I mean, not that I don't like to see you and all of that, especially after you carried me about ten miles in your arms last night, again thank you for that, but there seems to be something wrong, and I mean, is there something wrong? I am pretty good about helping out when things are wrong. Unless you are here to talk about the magic. Did Xander tell you that I shouldn't do magic? That's it, he sent you over here to beat the magic out of me. But maybe it is something else all together. Goddess, is something wrong?" Willow blurted.

Faith laughed lightly, shaking her head. "I wanted to talk, but it wasn't anything important."

"You can come by later?" Willow offered, but it came out sounding more like a question.

"Sure." Faith nodded, and slipped out of the apartment.

I wonder what she wanted to talk about? This is Faith, and Faith and talking did not go together. Ooh, maybe it was about Buffy?!  Willow grinned.



"And how was your day?" Holburn asked as Faith stepped onto the porch. The sun was just starting to drop in the west, and it made the temperature rise. He wondered, not for the first time, how she managed to look so at ease dressed in those tight fitting clothes.

"Same shit, different day." She shrugged. "So, I am here."

"What do you think of the house?" He asked tentatively. He had hoped to discuss it with his Slayer sooner, but things had arisen. Mr. Giles informed him that waiting for anything in Sunnydale was a bad idea, as apocalypses and other catastrophes were always popping up.

"It's big." She looked up appreciatively.

"Yes. It is. Plenty of room." He had to be careful.


"A training room, a library."

"A regular Slayer central then huh?" She grinned, seeming to like the idea.

"That is what I was hoping for."

"Right." She dragged out.

"A few months of construction and it will be ready. I only need to find someone reasonable." He mused.



"He does this stuff. Building stuff." She shrugged, noncommittal as always.

"Well that is good news. I will discuss it with him tonight."

"So, okay, are we done?" She was fidgeting, it was ever so slightly, but Holburn picked up on it.

"I want you to live here, with me Faith."

"Sorry, tweed, I don't sleep with the boss." She grinned. "Did I just say that?"

"You did. And that is not what I meant." He returned her smile.

"What did you mean then?"

"Allot of room in this home, just as you said. I was thinking of having separate quarters built for you. Possibly in the attic." He nodded to the high turrets.






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