As Faith returned to her motel, she braced herself. She fully expected Buffy to be in there waiting and she was ready to fight her off, even if she had to run away to do it. She was going to put a stop to this, one way or another, plus she wasn't in the mood to be ravished again by Buffy…So not the point.
She was tired, having spent the past five hours with Giles trying to dig up some information, any information on the new hotshot vampires. Giles had more books than Carter had pills, whoever the hell Carter was, and he was positive they would get something solid. Instead they got squat, and Faith was worried her eyes were permanently crossed. And for what?
It was the perfect example of why she hated research. And it wasn't like she was supposed to be "Research Girl" anyway. Where in the hell were The Scoobies? They were falling down on the job, big time as far as she could tell, and if she was speaking to any of them, she would have told them exactly that. They couldn't afford this now, they had to stay on top of things.
She stood outside her room and got ready. She could sense that Buffy was inside, so she toughened her resolve and swung the door open with a confidence she came nowhere near feeling. It was all about the attitude though, and she could do attitude…she had attitude out the ass, for just as long as she needed it.
The first thing she saw was Buffy sitting on the bed, just what she'd been expecting. No surprise there. Nope, the surprise came when she saw just where the Scoobies were hanging these days.
They were gathered around a folding card table, sitting in lawn chairs, drinking, eating, laughing, and arguing while engaged in what appeared to be a rousing poker game that was in full swing. In her motel room.
Game…full swing…her room…
Buffy and Willow were sitting on the bed with a billion computer and glamour magazines spread out between them. They were talking excitedly as they always did when it was about the boring stuff they loved, and how the two of them
Xander, Anya, Spike, and Dawn were immersed in the poker game that was taking place…in…her…room.
"Ho, Dark One, got your chair at the ready! Burnin' hot baby, this vamp's tearin' it up!"
Xander was clearly disgusted:
"Spike's also crazy because we're basically tied."
Anya waved her hand to get Faith's attention:
"Don't listen to either of them, I'm winning easily. I can read Xander's face, Dawn is just a child, and Spike is a gambler."
He drained his beer before he took offense.
"Is a gamblin' game, Mrs. Carpenter."
"Hmm…That is true…Okay, what I meant to say is that Spike is a fool."
"Hey, no call for insults just 'cause you're headed for financial ruin."
Dawn was grinning and could no longer contain her excitement:
"Faith, hurry up! I just made the draw to an inside straight!"
A groan swept the table as everyone but Dawn folded.
"Oops! Aw, come on guys, I messed up. Don't fold!"
"Just take the pot, Little Bit, and be glad for it. Old enough to know not to blab about your good hand."
Dawn was disappointed as she grabbed her winnings.
"Boy, do you guys have to be so serious? It's just a game."
Faith caught Dawn's wink and smiled in spite of herself. Dawn was such a liar, she'd had no straight, she'd "oopsed" so she could claim a pot she had no real chance of winning. Faith knew because she'd taught Dawn the trick herself, and Dawnie's innocent face went a long way towards selling the whole thing.
Buffy climbed off the bed and slowly made her way over. There was a sexy, knowing smile on her face, and the sight of it made Faith's breath hitch in her chest.
"Hey baby, where've you been?"
Her arms slipped casually around Faith's waist as she pulled her close and kissed her. The kiss was so slow and delicate, Faith almost groaned out loud. She was just beginning to congratulate herself on her self-control, when Buffy leaned up and whispered softly into her ear:
"And I was so sure you wouldn't be able to move…Guess I'll have to try harder."
Faith's entire body jumped. She dimly heard Willow's quiet laughter at her involuntary reaction, but everything she had was now focused on Buffy.
She was busy tracing her tongue around Faith's ear, and she blew into it lightly before nipping at the lobe and leaning back. She slowly trailed her fingers down Faith's bare arm as she made her way back to the bed…the sexy, confident smile still on her face.
Goose bumps the size of mountains appeared on Faith's arm as she struggled to control herself. She wanted to rip her clothes off, then Buffy's and throw everyone else the hell out. Okay, reverse the order, and that was what she wanted.
Her heart was pounding, her skin was humming and her eyes were seeing only Buffy. She tried to think, but her brain was short circuiting.
**Have to…Want Buffy…Say something…Want Buffy now…Say something else…Buffy is so goddamn hot…Stop with the Buffy!**
With nothing less than a heroic effort, Faith managed to blurt something out:
"…What the hell is this?"
Buffy looked up from her magazine:
"The gang came over, like a housewarming thingy."
"Yeah, 'cept this isn't…"
"Faith, don't be mad at the Buffster. The poker was my idea."
"Not mad, Xander, just thinkin' you guys didn't get the memo."
All eyes looked to her.
"Look, me and B…Stuff's changed and…Buffy and me…We're…Kinda decided…The two of us…We're not…"
"While you're havin' a fit of Tourette's, # 2, mind snaggin' me a cold one from the bath? Completely parched, so it's either that or Harris here."
Xander looked not the slightest bit concerned.
"Double Slayer protection now, Spike. You'd be dust in the wind before you even got a drop."
"And I really don't find it amusing that you just threatened my husband."
Xander's face went all soft and romantic when he heard those words:
"I mean, the will revisions won't be final for five days. If he dies before then, the will could be contested."
Dawn seemed to be in a world of her own. She was happily shuffling the cards with the utmost of concentration.
"Hurry up, Faith! It's my turn to deal and you have to see this cool Vegas shuffle I can…Whoa!"
"Bloody hell, I lose an eye?! Am I bleedin'?!"
Dawn was holding two cards, the rest had scattered all over the room.
"This isn't that annoying 'Fifty-Two Pickup' game, is it? I hope not because I'm not going to play. I mean, how stupid is it to throw something on the floor just so you can pick it back up? Only a human would even…Watch it, I've got my chips just like I like them!"
"Sorry, An. Hey Will, would it be a frivolous use of magic to pick up the cards for us?"
She barely glanced up from her magazine:
"I think you'd better get them yourself, Xander."
"Come on…Hey, what if we had no hands? You could just zap'em away, legally pick up the cards, then stick'em back on…the hands, not the cards. Come on Will, loophole provided!"
She was still distracted as she looked through the magazine, a pen held between her teeth.
"Maybe next time…Hey Faith, wanna help me choose between the final two upgrades?"
"Oh yeah, Dark One, don't miss that fun. After, if we're ever so lucky, Harris'll drywall something and Nibblet will treat us to a round of: 'Oh Brian, Oh Brian'."
"Spike! Shut up!"
Buffy's attention was suddenly riveted on Dawn.
"'Brian'? Who's 'Brian'?"
"He's nobody, Buffy."
Spike's grin was downright evil.
"Dawnie and Brian, sittin' in a tree…"
"Shut up! Faith, can't you stake him?"
"I'm confused, why would Dawn and this boy sit in a tree?"
Buffy sat up straight, her big sister antenna quivering at full speed.
"Dawn, are you seeing this guy?"
"What's he look like, Dawnie? Is he really cute?!"
Dawn's face went all dreamy in a second:
"Oh Willow, he's so cute, it's nuts. His eyes are…I mean, 'Who'?"
"…and that's how it goes. It's just a song, An."
"Well, it's an idiotic song. Anyone can purchase a baby carriage, you don't need to be married. You don't need to sit in a tree to get married either, we're proof of that."
Willow's excitement was palpable.
"So Dawnie, you makin' with the smoochies yet?"
Buffy looked angrily at Willow:
"Hey, don't ask my baby sister about……you know."
"Buff, I think Dawn's old enough to say 'kissing' in front of. Hey Will, wasn't Buffy younger than Dawn when she slept with Ang…"
He realized what he'd stepped into when he met Buffy's eyes and he quickly tried to make it right:
"Willow, no saying the 'K' word in front of little Dawnie!"
She turned to Anya who was reorganizing her chips.
"I wouldn't worry too much about it. Dawn already has a filthy mouth. Just yesterday I caught her saying, 'Mother…"
"…of God'. I gave her a good talking to, told her not to call on the Deities unless she really wants them."
"Buffy, it's not my fault! Faith says that word like a hundred times a…Oh, never mind. I thought that was going someplace else."
A commotion erupted at the card table.
"Hey, where are my chips?! How come your pile's so much bigger than mine?"
Spike smirked as he answered:
"Not your fault, Harris. Nature just endows some of us bigger and better.
"I'm talking about the poker chips!"
"Oh, right. Seemed like a bloody weird metaphor."
"Spike, where are my chips?"
"How should I know?"
"Maybe because you stole them."
They all knew what was coming.
"Oh right, then! Blame the formerly evil bloodsucker whenever anything goes amiss! Ever heard of 'profiling', because you're…"
Xander rolled his eyes and pointed:
"And there's also 'a missing' card hanging out of your…"
"No idea how that got there. Maybe Nibblet's little blast of Vegas or a set-up courtesy of Lady Magicks."
Willow was irate.
"Me? I'm not even playing!"
Anya's happiness at having her chips just so, was dimmed slightly.
"Clearly Spike's been cheating. We have to behead him."
"Honey, we're not playing by demon rules, okay?"
"Oh good, then we can just start over and Faith can jump in. I really love beating Slayers. They think they're so much better than everyone else because they're stronger, faster, tougher and quicker than all of us."
Xander kissed her and grinned:
"They do seem to have a superiority complex based on, oh I don't know…say, fact?"
"Yes, and it's infuriating. Deal her in, Xander, I'm going to teach her a lesson."
Buffy was still staring at Dawn.
"Dawnie, I want some answers about this boy. We're going to have a serious talk later."
"Not if I see you first."
"What did you just say to me?"
"I said, 'Hot if you have thirst'. Faith, grab me a beer too!"
Buffy wasn't even remotely amused.
"So not funny."
Buffy's head turned towards him, and he forced his face to look serious.
"No Buff, I'm not. Please don't hurt me or remember my inappropriate 'Angel' comment uttered at the very wrongest of times…not that there's ever a right time for a 'deflowering' com…Can I stop groveling yet?"
"No, I'll let you know when."
Spike snorted in disgust:
"Hell Harris, could you be more like a girl?"
All eyes shifted to Spike as Buffy spoke up:
"And is that supposed to be some sort of insult?"
"Just an expression…What? All you lot on the rag or somethin'?"
Willow looked at him like he was an idiot.
"You know, seeing as how you're in a room with two Slayers, a powerful witch, an ex-vengeance demon, and a pissed off teenager, you'd think you'd exhibit a lot more respect for girls in general."
He looked around:
"Just a sayin', is all. You know: 'You throw like a girl'…Back me up here, Nibblet."
"'Nibblet', my ass, you scumbag! You completely fuc…"
"Well, he did, Buffy!"
Spike looked repentant.
"You're right, Dawn, I shouldn't have said a word. Please forgive me…Mrs. Brian Bradford…Smooooch!"
"I am so going to kill you!"
Faith felt like she'd entered the "Twilight Zone". This was her motel room, located in the motel she'd gone to in order to get away from these people. Yet here they all were, crammed into the dark and depressing little room as if they belonged there.
She had to get back in control.
Buffy got up slowly from the bed, pointing out two things to Willow in the magazine she'd been reading and then telling her not to lose her place.
"# 2, could you throw out a couple beers 'fore you and your woman go at it?"
There was no response as Faith angrily stomped her way into the bathroom, followed by a seemingly unconcerned Buffy.
"Just two cold ones…Nibblet, sneak in there and grab me a bottle."
Dawn crossed her arms and turned her head away from him:
"Give you a sip."
Buffy whirled around.
"Spike! Willow, you make sure she doesn't drink any. I'll be checking your breath when I come back, Dawn."
"Big stick up your butt."
"What did you just say to me?"
"Digs chicks, wassup?"
"I mean it, Spike. Heads will roll."
He looked at Buffy, not the slightest bit concerned:
"Make it Xander's, and I don't much care."
"It's going to be yours, William."
"Right! Off to the nunnery with her then!"
Faith was all done waiting, her head thrusting out of the open doorway:
"Okay, I'm here!"
The door slammed shut the instant Buffy scooted inside.
"Dark One, please! Have a bloody heart!"
The door opened and Faith's hand appeared holding two beers.
"Grab'em, Dawnie. Aces, Faith!"
The door slammed again, giving the Slayers a modicum of privacy.
"Okay B, what the hell is…"
Buffy's excitement was plain to see.
"I know, I know! I had no clue, which is way, way scary when you think about it. We have no idea how long she's been seeing him. She's plenty…"
"…old enough, and how crazy is that?! I guess I'm just freaked that she hid it, and hid it so well. She…"
Faith let out a huge sigh and rubbed her hand over her face.
"Why is everyone in our…my room?"
"They're playing poker."
"Knock off the comedy routine. What are they doin' here?"
"Visiting. I guess they missed us."
"There is no 'us', not anymore."
"I guess no one's too clear on that."
Faith glared at her.
"Yeah? Well I'm clear and you're clear, think that's plenty."
"Hmm…I'm not all that clear and I don't think you are either."
"B…don't touch me. Get everybody the fuck outta here."
"Can't wait to be alone with me, huh?"
Faith was as far away as she could get without getting into the tub.
"Just stop it, B."
"Stop what? Are you sweating?"
"Well you're hot…we're hot…It's hot in here."
Buffy's smile was definitely making Faith sweat.
"You are so sweet."
"Where am I supposed to go? It's a pretty tiny room."
"Then stand still."
Faith edged back, almost tumbling into the bathtub before sliding off to the side and ending up trapped against the wall. Buffy was only half a pace behind, her hips meshing with Faith's, her hands resting firmly on her ass as she moved them together.
"Oh fuck, B…"
"Not now baby, everyone would hear."
Faith's eyes closed when she felt Buffy nibbling along her neck.
"Mmm…you want them gone, you do it."
Faith managed to pull away, smacking her head as she tried to gather her wits.
"How crazy are you? I broke up with you!"
Buffy leaned in, eliminating the small bit of space Faith had put between them.
"Faith, don't you feel like you're right where you belong? Like everything's just like it's supposed to be?"
She said nothing as Buffy pressed more firmly against her.
"They love you, they've missed you. Just go play poker, it's not going to hurt anyone and they'll have the chance to say goodbye. Can't you at least give them that?"
"Please? I'll make it way worth your while later."
"…There is no 'later'. One hour, then I want everybody out. Means you too."
"Okay, if that's what you really want."
"It is. So we got a deal?"
Buffy stepped back and stuck out her hand:
"So you'll leave with the others?"
"Solemn Slayer promise."
"Then we got a deal."
They shook hands, and Faith pulled away as fast as she could.
"This is so fucking nuts!"
"I know, F, but try not to worry. You're just going through a rough patch, you'll come around."
"Ha, fuckin' ha."
She yanked open the door, Buffy right on her heels:
"Faith and Buffy, sittin' in a tree…"
"Shut up, B."
Four hours later, the poker game finally wrapped up. It was neck and neck, but Faith just managed to beat Anya. She was not a gracious loser.
"This means lunch is on you."
"Friday lunch is on you."
"Anya, I can't have lunch with you. I…"
Anya looked at her with disdain:
"Faith, you've taken all of my money, I think the least you can do is…"
"We played for pennies! I cleared like twenty bucks!"
"Yes, and some of that was mine. I'm sorry you're all guilt-stricken and mixed-up, but I still need to eat. It's time we got back to our Friday lunches anyway, so this will…"
"Fine! Fine, okay?! Now everybody get the fuck out!"
"Hey settle down, # 2. We're trying to fold up the table and chairs."
Willow was nodding in agreement with Spike:
"You do seem to be a little on the grumpy side of cranky, Faith."
"'Grumpy' hell, Will. Dark One's showin' her ass and I'm…"
Faith was practically snarling out the words:
"Leave the table and chairs and…"
Xander smacked her shoulder as he piped up:
"Good idea! I can swing by with the truck and pick it all up tomorrow. What time works for you, Faith?"
Dawn was the first one out the door.
"See you guys later!"
"Someone needs a shag…Ow!"
Dawn yanked Spike outside and Anya trailed after them, all smiles at the thought of a free meal.
"See you Friday, Moneybags."
"Bye Faith, bye Buff. An, wait up!"
Xander waved at the Slayers over his shoulder as he ran after his wife.
Willow was the last one to go, her arms full of magazines.
"Maybe tomorrow you guys can help me make a final decision. Call me when you…"
"Hold it, B's goin' too."
"Yeah. Buffy, we had a deal."
"Yes, we did."
Faith walked to the door and gestured:
"Okay…Can I get a kiss goodbye?"
"No. Just get out."
Buffy didn't say a word, her face sad as she stood there.
"…Can pout 'til Hell freezes over. Leave."
"Okay. Come on, Will."
Faith slammed and locked the door behind them. Her head was spinning, and what puny amount of resistance she had left was now completely gone. Seeing Buffy's big eyes and her lower lip clearly begging to be sucked on…Faith had almost been undone again.
The whole night had been such a fucking nightmare and it had been so much fun. She wanted to be with them and they'd made it plain they wanted that too. She felt like she was going to start bawling, and holy fucking shit…she was so in love with Buffy.
She took some deep breaths to calm herself:
"It's gonna be okay, just settle down."
The plan was still workable, and at least she had her balls back. She'd tossed them all right the hell out, even Buffy, and she'd been wearing her impossible to resist "Pouting Face". It hadn't been an easy thing to do, but she'd done it. She'd made it clear who the boss was and she'd let them know who was running the show.
She wanted them to come back.
She didn't want to be in a crappy motel room all by herself. She was already missing them and she wanted Buffy so bad, it hurt…in all kinds of ways. All she could think about was the things she wanted to do to her.
Clearly she needed to relax, and a hot shower would be just the thing. It would help her work out all of the kinks…most of the kinks, and then she was going to polish off every single beer that was left behind. Ten, twenty, a thousand, she didn't care. She was going to down every last one of the bitches, all…two of them.
There were just two measly beers left floating in the tub, and she watched them for a minute as they bobbed around like the smart asses they were. She grabbed them and sat them on the counter, then pulled the plug and stripped while she waited for the icy water to drain.
As soon as the tub emptied, she turned on the shower and waited for it to heat up. When it did, she stood under the surprisingly hot spray, trying to let go of the tension that had every single one of her muscles bunched tight. She knew she had to do it quickly because who knew how long the hot water was going to hold, it was already some kind of miracle that it had lasted as long as it had.
She hurried to relax, and the problem there was that hurrying and relaxing didn't really go together, in fact they were exact opposites. The whole fucked up situation she was in had her on edge and was making it hard for her to clear her head, which was in turn, making it impossible for her to relax…which was why she needed the fucking shower in the first place.
She tried talking to herself:
"Think of something else…Buffy…Buffy's lips…Buffy's eyes when she comes…Christ, need a cold shower now…Concentrate, you idiot…Buffy's smile when I come…Buffy's moan every time I make her come…Fuckin' piece a shit, shower!"
She'd had enough torture, so she shut off the water and flung back the shower curtain. The whole rod flew off, smashing into the mirror, but somehow it didn't break…which had to be considered a lucky break since she already had all the rotten luck she could handle.
She tried to gently hang the rod back in place, but there was no gentle in her at the moment. With an angry yell she slammed the bar right through the tile.
"Not comin' out now are ya? Fuckin' little bastard!"
She spun around in a fury, slamming her hand down onto the sink. It crumbled under her Slayer strength, and pieces of jagged porcelain crashed to the floor. She picked one up and smashed the mirror, figuring now she had a reason for the next seven shit filled years.
With a huge effort, she made herself stop. The bathroom wasn't the problem, the problem was that she loved them. They made her feel good, made her feel like she belonged and that her life was just what it was supposed to be…Just like Buffy had said.
Buffy…It felt like she'd been fighting her for years, but it'd been less than forty-eight hours. Less than two days, and Faith was already so tired. It was a deep down, ass kicked, drop dead, kind of tired. She was drained, exhausted, and completely wiped out. She was cracking so badly, even her cracks had cracks.
And the most on fire, obvious thing of all? She had absolutely no self-control when it came to Buffy, and they both knew it. Buffy was just playing with her, whenever and however she wanted to, and there was nothing Faith could do about it.
Except Faith had shown her tonight. She had thrown Buffy's ass right the hell out, and she had definitely won this time around. She was going to have herself a little celebration with her two beer bounty and she was going to use the rest of the night to pull herself together.
"I guess you should have sipped it."
Faith would have screamed like a sissy if beer hadn't already been trying to enter her brain through her nose. As it was, all she could do was cough and gasp in a desperate attempt to breathe.
"……What in the fuck?!"
"Boy, out here it sounded like you were really upset about something."
"I was going to join you, but then I thought maybe you needed your space."
"What the hell are you doin' here? We had a fucking deal, Buffy!"
Buffy smiled sweetly, reclining comfortably in her cow pajamas.
"Yes, we did. I said I'd leave with everybody else, and I did. Then I came home."
"Your home's a good fifteen minutes from here."
"No, you're my home, Faith. I know it's corny, but it's true."
Faith tossed both bottles, one after the other against the wall.
"What the fucking hell do I have to do?!"
"Well, I made a list."
"Yep, of pros and cons."
"'Pros and cons'."
Buffy held up the notebook from her lap:
"I was thinking you could make your own, then we'd compare them if you wanted to. It's up to you."
"'Up to me'?"
"Yep, so do you want to?."
"Could I see yours?"
Buffy handed it over without a second's hesitation and was quiet while Faith read it.
"See ya only got the one con."
"It was the only thing I could think of."
"Got three pages of pros."
"Well, what can I say? I'm in love. They're all true, though."
"Con says: 'Can be stupid sometimes'."
"It's my only complaint."
Faith sat down on the bed and looked at Buffy in stunned disbelief. So it was true after all: Buffy was not going to stop, she was not going to let go, and she was not going to lose.
Day Two and Faith was toast. Stick a fork in her ladies and gentlemen, she was done. It was over, just like that. She had lost, Buffy had won, and all Faith knew was that she had never felt better about being so totally outclassed.
Buffy loved her forever, no matter what, and Faith was just going to have to learn to live with that. It was a thought that made her smile.
"It's okay, B. Don't need to make a list."
"Are you sure? It really helps to clarify…"
"I get any clearer, my head's gonna explode."
"Oh, okay then. I don't wanna be pushy."
"No,course ya don't."
Buffy tossed the notebook aside.
"I love you."
"I know ya do."
"Good. So could you do me a favor?"
Buffy's smile was all sexy again:
"Could you please get the light?"
"Got it, B. Fuck me, do I ever got it."
"I'm glad to hear that. It's perfect timing too."
"Remember how I said I'd have to try harder?"
Faith's mouth went completely dry, obviously the moisture had other places to go.
"I wanna do that right now, if that's okay with you."
"So far past okay, don't know how to explain it."
"Hmm…Maybe you should show instead of tell."
Faith pulled her down on the bed:
"For you, Buffy? Absolutely anything."
They headed home early the next morning. Everyone was still sleeping, and the house was quiet.
"Welcome home, Faith."
"Good to be back. Feels like I been gone forever."
"It sure does."
Buffy's arms encircled her waist:
"Faith, this is where you were always meant to be. I know you've still got issues, I know everything's not fixed. Some of this stuff is going to be hard to get past, but we'll work on it together. And hey, I've got issues too. For example – I don't like to be left by the people I love."
"Yeah? Hadn't noticed."
"It can be a big problem too. Usually I fall into a depression and think it's all my fault, but sometimes if I care enough, I fight to hang on."
"Okay, good to know. I'll keep an eye out for that."
Faith kissed her, then caressed the side of her face. Buffy smiled and leaned into the touch as she spoke:
"We deal together from now on, no more running. I love you more than anything, and I want you with me, okay?"
"Faith, do you promise?"
"Give ya my word B, no more running."
"God, I love you."
"I love you too, just hope you know what you've signed up…"
Faith just managed to turn around in time. Dawn leapt at her four steps from the bottom, landing in her arms and knocking them both to the floor.
"I knew you wouldn't leave, I knew it! This is so great! Hi! Welcome home! Come on, let's make a gigantic breakfast to celebrate! You're home!"
"Hiya, Dawnie. I'm…"
"I love you so much, Faith!"
"Love you too, Squirt. Breakfast sounds great, just let me hit the bathroom and I'll be down to watch ya do all the work."
Dawn stood up, then slammed into Faith for another hug as soon as she was upright again.
"Okay! You wake up Willow, we'll get Spike! They're going to be so excited! Hurry up, okay?"
As Faith headed up the stairs, she heard Buffy say:
"I'm home too, you know."
"You little brat."
"Taller than you by a mile, Dwarfy."
"Shut up before…"
"Buffy is a midget! Buffy is a midget! Ow! Let go of me, you freak of nature. No tickling! Stop, Buffy!"
The sounds of the scuffle stopped.
"I hope that teaches you a lesson."
"Yeah, something about older sisters with a Napoleon complex."
"Dawn Summers, I swear I will…"
"No, I'll stop! You just relax, I'll do all the cooking."
"Now that sounds good."
"But make sure you sit on the barstools. Whenever you sit in the regular chairs, all I can see is the top of your head peeking over the table."
"Oh, you're so very funny."
Faith could somehow tell by the silence that Buffy was ready to deliver a zinger.
"So Dawnie, who's Brian?"
"What?! No, Buffy, come on."
"Now start at the very beginning and be sure to make it funny."
Said in the exact same tone of voice, like only sisters could do.
"Can't we just be happy that Faith's back?"
There was another pause and Faith heard Buffy give in with a sigh:
"Okay, 'Faith' celebration first, but later you've…"
"Got a lot of explaining to do, I know."
"But we'll let it go for now."
More silence, but Faith knew this one was different…it sounded serious.
"You brought her home, just liked you promised me you would."
"You did really good."
"I love you, Buffy."
"I love you too."
They hugged, and Dawn kissed her on the cheek.
"Um…I'm not sure if I should tell you this now…"
"Hey, of course you should. It sounds important."
"Yeah, it kind of is. See…Well…Mom told me you were an adopted monkey midget and she just never had the heart to tell you."
"No! No tickling!"
"It's fine with me if you wanna pee your pants."
"These are your jeans!"
"What? Why are you wearing my clothes?!"
"They're too big for you anyway."
"I could so kill you without anybody ever knowing."
"Got to catch me first…No! Stop!"
Faith ran up the stairs with the biggest grin on her face. She was home.
"I can't believe he hasn't said a word to me about it."
"Don't be mad at him, B. He was just worried about you."
"Well that's great, but I am a Slayer and he is my Watcher. I'd like to be told when my potential death is arriving. It's just not like him not to tell me."
They were holding hands, and Faith squeezed a little to get her attention.
"Sure he was gonna tell ya soon. Maybe he was…"
"I think I'd like to hear him explain it, and it had better be good."
They knocked, then entered his unlocked front door.
"Lucky day, G-Man! Two Slayers for the price of one!"
"Hello? Yes, right there!"
Faith's arms wrapped tightly around Buffy from behind, and she began planting soft kisses along her neck.
Buffy was pissed and ready to confront Giles, but the instant Faith's lips touched her skin, she could feel herself beginning to relax.
"Hi there, Blondie."
"Mmm…this is the softest neck on the planet."
"You've sampled every neck on Earth?"
"Pretty much, yeah. Most of'em had stubble, not you though."
Buffy tried to stifle a moan, but wasn't completely successful as she felt Faith's tongue swirling around.
"I do have…a great…aunt who has a…mustache…Faith…"
"Is this the best place to neck?"
"Think a neck's the best place for it. Kinda required."
"Funny…I mean here…in Giles' living room."
Faith sucked hard enough to mark her, and Buffy's knees almost buckled.
"So now you're shy?"
"Well it's…Giles' living room…and he's…right up…there."
"And your point is?"
Buffy knew she had a point, but Faith's hands had migrated up to play with her breasts, and the only point she was aware of now were the two that …
"…We can't…you can't…"
"Look like maybe I can."
"Close as ya can get down here."
Buffy was leaning back heavily as Faith's fingers trailed their way to the front of her jeans.
"Probably not any time soon. Got me some payback just burnin' a hole, ya know?"
"…Had to get…you to come…home."
"Yeah, no argument here."
"Don't think ya mean that."
Buffy was lost. Every cell in her body was screaming out for Faith, and she was rapidly approaching the point of no return.
"Based on the way you're shakin' and leanin', think you like me just fine."
"I used to like...Yes! Yes, I like you."
"Might be down any sec. Guess we'd better quit wastin' time."
"Sorry for the delay, but that blasted…"
They pulled apart so quickly, Buffy stumbled and almost fell. The dazed look on her face was hysterical.
"Is something wrong?"
His arms were full of Giles stuff, and he looked like he knew exactly what was wrong.
"Nah, B's just clumsy."
"Yes, and you are inordinately happy. Might I assume this means the two of you have resolved your differences?"
"Assume away, G-Man."
He smiled as he put his books and papers down on the table.
"That's wonderful news! I'm delighted for you both, and Faith, I must tell you that I greatly admire your strength of character. It's truly an inspiration…as is yours too, of course, Buffy."
"Gee, thanks so much for the last minute add-on."
"B, ya gotta get used to livin' in my shadow. I'm hot shit."
Buffy laughed as she rolled her eyes:
"I'll do my best to struggle along."
Giles clapped his hands together:
"Well then, I'd say you've both earned a day just to enjoy yourselves. Off you go. In the unlikely event that something dire presents itself, I shall leave a message at the house. However, considering there's absolutely nothing looming on the horizon, I don't imagine either of you will be required."
"Heads-up, G-man. B's all caught up, kinda ratted ya out. Sorry, thought she already knew."
"Oh, I see."
Buffy did not look happy:
"Yeah, 'oh, you see'. What's going on, Giles? Vamp cult, Council scared you, blah, blah, blah. Did you just forget to tell me or did you think I wouldn't be interested?"
"…Uh right…Bit of a problem with all that."
Faith was trying to help him again:
"Better just lay it out and I'll try to keep her from killin' ya. Best I can do at this point."
"And I very much appreciate your efforts. Well, then…where to start?"
"Oh my God. Giles, I can't believe this!"
Faith looked confused and banged her hand against her ear.
"Okay, don't wanna false alarm us, but I didn't hear a word he said. Must be some kinda spell 'cause I can hear you fine, but…"
"He lied to you."
"See, still all fucked up. Sounded like you said Giles lied to me."
"I did. He did."
"What? No way, he's Giles! Wait, we're talking about this one, right? 'Cause no way am I gonna vouch for some other one. Who the fuck knows what…"
Buffy was staring at him and Giles began sputtering his explanation:
"Yes…perhaps I did fabricate a few small details as such."
Faith's mouth was practically hanging open.
"You lied to me?!"
"Giles, your face is completely red. I mean, it's like 'red' red."
"Yes, Buffy, I do feel a tad flushed. I think it best if you girls run along, we can discuss this at a later date."
Both Slayers sat down on the couch.
"Think talkin' time's right the hell now."
Buffy smiled at him:
"But there is some good news, Giles."
"And just what might that be?"
"I'm not mad at you anymore for not telling me."
"A rather small comfort at the moment, I'm afraid."
Faith was past impatient:
"Let's hear it, G-Man."
He began cleaning his glasses, looking nothing but uncomfortable.
"Well, there's a rather simple explanation."
Faith wasn't givng him an inch:
"And what the fuck is it?"
"I wanted to prevail upon you to stay, and I gave the situation a great deal of thought. The approach I decided upon was the one I believed would best give us the necessary time to convince you not to go."
"So you lied to me."
He was obviously flustered:
"No I didn't, at least not technically."
"Oh, this is gonna be rich."
"Yes, well, you see…"
Buffy interrupted, her voice filled with suppressed laughter:
"Wait Giles, do you have any popcorn or Twizzlers. I wanna enjoy the show and…Sorry, go ahead."
"I merely said that I'd recently spoken to The Council."
"Yeah, and what they said had ya all spooked."
"And that was absolutely true."
Faith leaned forward and Giles leaned back.
"So what was so scary?"
"Whilst I was enquiring after some administrative matters, it was brought to my attention that the new appointee in charge of the 'Records' department, is grossly ill-prepared to execute the position's requirements. Quite alarming, yes?"
Buffy began laughing so hard, she could barely breathe.
"And the hotshot vamp and his tough as shit gang?"
"Faith, surely there are vampires considering Sunnydale as their future destination."
"Uh-huh. Got any names?"
He tried to British his way out of it.
"I beg your pardon?"
"I said, 'names'. Ya know, like the ones you had me lookin' up for five fucking hours!"
He flushed again.
"…All right, yes. I made it up, it was all a bloody fabrication!"
Faith jumped to her feet:
"I can't fuckin' believe this! Looked me right in the eye and lied to me!"
"Well, clearly I had to do something. Did you expect me to just twiddle my thumbs while you bollocksed everything up?!"
Buffy got up and gave him an enormous hug.
"Giles, I love you so much. Thank you."
"You're most welcome, Buffy."
Faith shook her head:
"A snake. My Watcher's a fuckin' snake! Well don't you worry, Giles. Records Guy shows his face, me and B'll take him out. Sunnydale's gonna be safe."
The room fell silent as they all stood there. Finally Giles spoke up:
"I suppose I should apologize."
"Depends. You sorry?"
"You'd better not lie to her again, Giles."
He was nothing but defiant.
"Fine! No, I'm not at all sorry, not in the slightest! You were making a dreadful mistake, and I could not just sit idly by while you attempted to destroy your life. You made it quite clear that you would not listen to reason, so I did what I thought best. I'm not at all ashamed to say I'd do it again without hesitation."
Faith paced back and forth in front of him for a few moments.
"Okay, gonna be big about this."
His smile revealed just how relieved he was.
"I greatly appreciate your maturity, Faith. I know it's not easy to…Oh yes, by all means open the door. The fresh air would be bracing and…"
"Liar, liar, pants on fire! Rupert Giles is a big fat liar!!!"
Buffy could barely be understood through her laughter:
"I guess you have to take this lying down."
"That's most amusing, Buffy."
Faith continued to broadcast the news to all of Giles' neighbors and any random passersby who happened to be passing by, and she showed no signs of stopping.
"Buffy, would you perchance care to intervene?"
"Do you want me to?"
She did her best to look serious:
"Okay, I'll just…Hey, wait a second. What if this is just another one of your lies? Giles, I'm so confused. I can't tell what's true anymore!"
He sat back in his chair, resigned to taking his lumps:
"Oh my, this is all very entertaining."
Faith finally closed the door and strolled back over to him.
"Might wanna get comfy, Giles. Got a story to tell, it's called: 'The Watcher Who Cried Vampire'."
"Ooh Faith, I've never ever heard this one before!"
"Then take a load off, B. It's one of them long ass stories with a big lesson at the end."
Buffy sat down eagerly:
"I'm so excited!"
He shifted in his chair, facing them as they got comfortable again on the couch.
"I don't have to take this, you know. I was 'The Ripper' in my day, and…"
"Yeah, well sorry to break it to ya, but the day you're livin' in's got two Slayers in it. Even in his prime, Ripper was no match."
"Perhaps, but I…"
Buffy looked terrified.
"Oh my god! Faith, what if he's been lying this whole time?! What if The Ripper has superpowers or something?!"
Buffy sniffled and brushed away her fake tears:
"I want you to know, F…if…if we don't make it…I love you."
"Love you too, B. If somethin' happens…want you to save yourself."
Giles was trying to look irritated, but they all knew he was greatly amused.
"By all means, you two carry on with your fun, but might I make some tea before the Second Act begins?"
"Tell ya what…Throw some of them shitty English cookies in the mix, maybe this whole thing goes away."
"I have root beer too."
"Consider it gone."
He stood and headed for the kitchen.
He turned back to her:
"It really means a lot to me you'd do somethin' like that. Thank you, Giles."
He didn't say a word, the smile on his face said it all.
There was no doubt about it – Buffy was happy. The last couple of months had been good ones and Faith had made almost every effort to deal with her guilt. She approached everyone on an individual basis to offer her apologies, and then she did her best to really listen to what they had to say.
To her surprise, not one of them seemed to blame her for what had happened. In fact, none of them had even considered for a second that it had been her wreaking the havoc. It seemed that they all trusted her completely, well, everyone except Anya.
"You're asking a lot, Faith. I don't think I can honestly say I trust you enough, that's going to take some time."
It hurt, but Faith understood.
"Can't blame ya for that."
"The fact of the matter is: I don't trust anyone enough to leave them alone with it. It's nothing personal."
"Huh? Anya, I'm talking about…"
"I mean, I know you wouldn't steal anything, but you wouldn't believe how easy it is to make a mistake when you get flustered."
"…when I was possessed."
Anya looked confused and then exasperated.
"Oh, so you're still making us talk about that? Yes, I know you'd never crack my ribs, yes, I know you'd never even hit me unless it was to protect me, and yes, clearly you were under a demon's control. It happened weeks ago, no one cares anymore, so would you please just let it go?"
"Now if you're serious about wanting to work the register on your own, I think two weeks of intensive training is the bare minimum."
"…Yeah, makes sense…Least to you."
"We can start tomorrow morning at six sharp."
Faith was clearly uneasy:
"Wow, that's early."
"And make sure to be on time. I'm going to have to give up sex in the morning and that's going to make me pretty cranky."
"Look Anya, I way appreciate the offer, but gotta check my schedule, work shit out."
Anya thumped Faith on her shoulder with a big smile:
"All right, but don't let it slide for too long. The world of retail is so exciting! I know you think nothing beats slaying and having sex with Buffy, but the feeling you get when you make a big sale on a marked up item…well, there's just no way to describe it."
"Sounds like a wild ride alright."
"You have no idea. Call me!"
They all accepted her back. There was no hesitation and nothing had changed. Willow still brought her magazine articles, Xander still tried in vain to beat her at pool, Giles still worried about her just like a father was supposed to, and Spike still regularly sought her out for his version of a heart to heart:
"Just evil touchin' evil, Dark One. So tell me, ever feel like killing Xander when he downs the last bloody beer?"
They all still teased her, confided in her, asked for her help, and expected her to do the same. She was still fully included in their lives, and the more they shared with her, the more comfortable she became with sharing herself.
She started trusting them with the things she'd kept hidden for so long, and she began to understand that they would never use her revelations against her. The love and acceptance they freely gave to her was the kind of luck Faith had never had, and now she realized she had it in spades.
The Scoobies all felt the same, each one cherishing their friendship with her. She'd captured their hearts with her warmth, kindness, loyalty, courage, and humor, and her positive impact on Buffy had not escaped their notice either.
Before Faith's return, Buffy had been sinking beneath the weight of all the responsibility she'd been forced to carry for years. The losses and deaths, her own included, had taken an enormous toll on her, and she had been forced to cultivate a hardness in order to survive. That hardness had slowly begun to destroy all of the things that made her Buffy, and each day she became just a bit more distant.
Despite all of their efforts, there was a part of her that her friends could not quite reach. She was the Slayer, day in and day out, and they all knew that nothing was ever going to change that except her death…and maybe not even then.
Buffy knew her fate was to be struck down in the line of duty, but it didn't really matter. She would be mourned by the handful of people who loved her, and then life would roll on without her. Other Slayers would rise and fight, only to fall and stand again and again as they chased their destinies all the way to their own violent ends.
It was bleak, but it was the reality of her life. She was the Slayer who had overstayed her welcome, the one who should have been gone long ago, and yet she still stood and fought the fight.
She could not escape her destiny, nor did she try to. She had long ago accepted that her life was one of death, darkness, and duty, and she accepted it willingly. She did not believe there could ever be anything else for her because she was The Slayer, no more and no less.
There was nothing she could do about it and so she pushed on, doing what she had to, yet paying a huge price along the way. The fire that made her "Buffy" was slowly going out, and when it was finally extinguished, only the Slayer in her would remain. She had come to believe that was the path she must follow, the only path she could follow.
Faith changed all of that. She lit a spark, igniting Buffy until she blazed into who she was always meant to be. Faith yanked some of the weight off of Buffy's shoulders and placed it on her own, and as the burden lifted, Buffy began to see life more clearly than she had in years.
The dark future she had always known was waiting for her was suddenly swept aside as a glorious new life beckoned her onward. A light was shining, calling to her with a passion she had never felt before, and Buffy began answering.
Faith had exploded back into her life, pulling Buffy away from her gloomy outlook and forcing her to look past her "Slayerness" to the woman she truly was. As Faith pushed the darkness aside, Buffy began seeing that life was full of possibilities just waiting for her to claim them as her own. There was so many more than she'd ever expected, and she wanted them all now…with Faith.
It wasn't the first time Buffy had known love. She had loved and been loved by both Angel and Spike, but they had never been able to make her feel like she did now. She felt safe, and that was a feeling that had been missing since her parents had separated. It was something she had learned to go without, but its absence had changed her profoundly and hurt her deeply.
Faith's warm love surrounded her, and Buffy believed in it more than she had ever believed in anything. She knew without a doubt it would never fade away, and it was that knowledge that made her feel safe and gave her the confidence to open up and live again.
Faith excited Buffy's long dormant emotions, grabbing onto her with an intensity that set Buffy ablaze with feeling. Faith engaged her on every level, stirring her senses until she felt on fire with life. Everything about her called out to Buffy: her looks, her voice, her mind, her soul, all a heady blend that Buffy simply couldn't get enough of.
No one but Faith would ever do for Buffy – she was hooked and she was hooked forever. She felt like she was exactly where she was supposed to be, doing exactly what she was supposed to be doing, with exactly the person she was supposed to be doing it with. Her despair and confusion were gone. She knew now who she was and she knew where she belonged.
Slaying was enormously important and always would be, but it was now just a part of her life. Buffy was no longer just "The Slayer", she was a young woman who had made the decision of her life, and it was clear she could not have been happier. She'd matured, and yet somehow she seemed younger than before.
Faith had taught her how to find the fun, how to appreciate all the good things life had to offer, and Buffy was experiencing everything as if for the first time. Faith took such delight in all the simple, everyday things, and her boundless joy and excitement made everything seem brand new.
She was funny too, and she made Buffy laugh all the time, whether she wanted to or not. Faith's passionate nature made Buffy fight for the things she wanted, and as anyone who knew her could attest: when Buffy Summers fought, she won. The future was there for the taking and Buffy was claiming it.
A wild, dark, strong, complicated woman was Buffy's future, and she wanted it now, every single second she could get. Faith was beautiful and awe inspiring with a strength and courage that defied all understanding…and Buffy wanted her.
The fact that Faith wanted her in return was something Buffy considered a miracle. Faith could have had anyone she wanted, and yet she only wanted Buffy. She wanted her so much she had fought through every obstacle to get to her, and she had refused to let anything stop her. The depth of character she had revealed during her quest had been nothing less than incredible.
Faith had returned to Sunnydale to face the very people she had wronged the most. She had done so knowing full well that she was not welcome, that she was hated and feared, and also knowing that the forgiveness she sought would probably never, ever be hers. And yet still Faith had come back.
She had taken all of the abuse they'd heaped on her, and never once had she lost her temper or retaliated. She had owned up to all of her crimes, refusing to make any excuses for all of the horrible things she'd done. She had struggled to make amends, giving everything she could and receiving nothing remotely pleasant in return.
It hurt her, but against all common sense she kept right on trying. She stayed there day after day seeking redemption, even though redemption seemed nowhere near. She sought Buffy's forgiveness and finally she got it, along with Buffy's undying love. Faith had made her own second chance and then she had taken it.
It was tempting to see the Slayers as two sides of the same coin, the light and the dark, but they were far too complex to be summed up so simplistically. They were each light and dark, and they were each other's strength and weakness, meshing together in a way that brought out the best in both of them. Their flaws were now tempered by the answering attribute in the other, and they fit together like a cliché.
Buffy calmed Faith and gave her a place to rest. She trusted Faith with a rock solid confidence that inspired Faith to believe in herself. Buffy never doubted her, and that unwavering belief let Faith see herself in a whole new light. Buffy held nothing back, and she kept no secrets. Her trust and honesty let Faith feel comfortable in revealing more than she would have ever believed was possible.
Faith began realizing that she was not just the sum of all her past mistakes, and she began seeing that her past was just that: the past. It did not define who she was or who she was going be: her future was unwritten and wide-open. By teaching her that, Buffy had given her the greatest gift she would ever receive.
In turn, total understanding was what Faith offered to Buffy. She understood that Buffy's long stint as The Slayer had made her feel as if she were responsible for everything that happened. Everyone who died, everything that went wrong, all of the evil that still survived, Buffy had taken every bit of it upon her shoulders.
Faith did her best to put a stop to that, refusing to let Buffy claim what was not hers to claim. She turned Buffy away from the guilt, sometimes forcibly, and pointed her firmly towards their future. She would not allow Buffy to dwell on the things that went wrong, instead shifting her focus to the good things that came with each new day.
Being the Slayer was an enormous job, and Faith made Buffy see that it just wasn't possible to do everything, no matter how good she was. She could not save everyone, she could not be perfect, she could be nothing except what she was: The best Slayer who had ever done the job.
Faith pulled her out of her aloneness, freely accepting as much of the burden as she could. She was a Slayer too, and this time around she wanted to do her job. She shouldered as much of the responsibility as she could pry away from Buffy, and because she now accepted her duty, it made all the difference in the world. At least it did to Buffy.
She knew now that there was truly another Chosen One, an equal standing firmly at her side. It was no longer all up to her, there was someone else now who would get the job done. Buffy was no longer the last line of defense against the forces of evil, Faith was there now, and Buffy knew she wasn't ever going anywhere. The sense of relief that knowledge gave her was a blessing.
It wasn't always smooth sailing between them. They were Slayers after all, filled with the passion, stubbornness, and arrogance that came with their calling. They both had formidable tempers that could get away from them and sometimes did, and they both never backed down from a challenge. They clashed often, but it never scared them or anyone who knew them.
They fought and yelled, but neither could resist the other for long. They had an innate understanding of what was needed and when, and they followed each and every step the other took. No matter what was thrown at them, they stayed perfectly in stride and although things didn't always run smoothly, they ran beautifully and always would.
When Faith got scared and tried to retreat, Buffy cut off her escape and held on. When Buffy took too much upon herself, Faith pulled her back and made her accept her limitations. They were made for each other and they knew it now. They were soul mates and nothing would ever come between them again.
The Faber incident was fading, and Faith had done her best to put it all behind them…almost. There was however, a big fly in the ointment, and Buffy couldn't help but wonder where such a crazy saying had come from.
What did it really mean and why ointment? Sure, nobody wanted a fly in their ointment, but it was way better than in somebody's soup or toothpaste. It had to be a pretty safe bet that no one wanted any flies in their anything, and now Buffy was left to wonder how she'd gotten so far off topic.
The point was that Faith was giving it her all…almost, and the only fly in their ointment was Dawn. Faith still hadn't spoken with her about the Faber incident – not a word — nor had she discussed not discussing it, especially not with Buffy. In fact, she was avoiding the subject with every fiber of her being.
Buffy tried to be patient and let Faith tackle the issue on her own terms, but as time passed, Buffy realized that Faith had no terms. She was already doing exactly what she planned on doing when it came to Dawn: nothing. Still Buffy hesitated, hoping that she would change her mind, but then Faith began brooding and trying to retreat.
Buffy continued to wait, hoping that Faith would see for herself that her approach could not work. It was obvious that she had to talk to Dawn, surely Faith would realize that. They had no such luck, and then the nightmares started.
Faith began dreaming almost nightly that she had killed Dawn. She tried to downplay the situation, but as time went on, she started looking like hell, or at least like a woman who couldn't get a good night's sleep. The dreams continued with no end in sight, and Buffy knew it was time for her to step in.
She started off slowly, a veritable poster child for delicate sensitivity. She approached Faith with a gentleness she had not even known she possessed, and she got absolutely nowhere. Faith swatted her aside as if she were an annoying mosquito, forcing Buffy to ramp up her efforts.
She became much more aggressive and direct, and she began pushing Faith to talk to Dawn. Faith's somewhat hostile response made it quite clear she did not care all that much for the suggestion. Things continued to escalate until finally Buffy was right in her face, day and night.
Not too surprisingly, Faith didn't seem all that happy about the extra attention. She kept trying to avoid the topic, and when that didn't work, she tried to avoid Buffy. That was an unfortunate strategy on her part because Buffy was all done with that before it even got started. She began hounding Faith, and the resulting arguments were not pretty.
Faith didn't cave quickly or easily, but Buffy was relentless. It was all she would talk about and she made sure they spoke constantly. The battle came to a head late one morning when the Slayers were in their bedroom. They were facing off from opposite sides of the bed as Faith finished getting dressed after her shower.
"Do I have your word, Faith?"
"What, we in some fuckin' Robin Hood flick now?"
"I want your word."
"Works great, 'cause I got a shitload I'd love to give ya."
Buffy never looked away as she stood there:
"I want your promise, Faith, all in a complete sentence."
"Jesus, what's the drama? You're gettin' your way, so…"
There was no response as Faith finished buttoning her shirt.
Buffy didn't respond to the mocking reply and even though Faith wasn't looking anywhere near her, she knew Buffy was still staring at her. She stayed silent and strapped on her watch.
"So you're not really going to talk to her?"
"Are you fucking deaf?! I said, 'Yeah'!"
"Then why won't you promise?"
Faith glared at her:
"Told ya a million fuckin' times already, I would. What's your goddamn problem?"
"My 'goddamn problem' is that you won't give me your word."
Faith bent down to grab her shoes and when she straightened up, Buffy was standing right next to her.
Buffy's hand gently caressed her cheek:
Faith jerked away angrily:
"…Fine! Fucking fine, okay? I fucking promise I'll talk to Dawn today! Ya happy now?!"
"Yes. Thank you, Faith."
She stormed out of the bedroom, slamming the door behind her.
It wasn't that she didn't think Buffy was right, she'd known all along that she was. It was just that Faith could think of few things she'd rather do less than talk to Dawn about what had happened. But something had to give, they couldn't keep going on like they had been.
She was nervous and awkward around Dawn now, always on high alert in case the subject of that night showed any signs of being brought up. So far, Dawn hadn't said a word, instead acting just like she always had. It was Faith who had turned into a crazy person, a crazy person who couldn't relax whenever they were together.
Faith didn't know how much longer she could take the nightmares either. They were just normal nightmares, well, "normal" for Faith. She'd been assured by both Giles and Willow that they were not a scary sign of another impending demon test drive in her near future. The dreams were just what she got because she was acting like a "gutless pussy" who wouldn't deal.
She knew if she would just talk it out with Dawn, the nightmares would most likely stop…and God knew she wanted them to stop. Following that logic, it would stand to reason that she would be eager to discuss things with Dawn, but no. She wanted absolutely no part of the conversation, and she kept going over it in her head, desperately looking for a way out:
**Can just put it off for a few, where's the harm in that?**
But she knew where the harm was: right inside a very scary and very determined blonde Slayer. She wouldn't like it if Faith backed out, especially not since she'd made Faith promise, so it was going to have to be today…this afternoon…which was in just a few hours…except no, it was going to happen right now because somehow the day had flown past and Dawn was going to be home any second.
Faith didn't even have time to puke and she was feeling seriously ill. She knew that wasn't a good way to start, so she began talking it out in her head again:
**Best thing would be to think this through a little more. Just take a few and make sure to get it right. No sense riskin' a big fuck-up, way too important to go at it half-assed. Can't just start shootin' off at the mouth, have to know exactly what to say. Makes perfect sense to take some more time, coupla days, week or two, tops. Just enough time to get it all straight upstairs before…Fucking shit! Why the hell did I promise?**
But she knew the answer to that too: She had promised because Buffy had asked her to, and as usual, Faith could deny her nothing.
The patrol that night went quietly, too quietly on Faith's end. She was clearly upset and Buffy was doing her best not to crowd her, but as the night wore on, it became all too obvious that Faith was really hurting. When they decided to call it a wrap, Buffy reached for her hand and held it all the way home.
The Slayers had a well-established routine in place for after patrol. They would get something to eat, then just sit and talk in the kitchen while they chowed down. They would discuss all sorts of things, and as Faith became more comfortable in sharing her feelings with Buffy, they began addressing a lot of the big issues.
Faith worked hard to face what she had always thought was impossible to face, and as a result they were able to take huge strides forward. Buffy cherished the trust Faith placed in her, and a new closeness grew between them as time went on.
Lately though, Faith had been almost completely shut down as she had tried her best to avoid discussing the "Dawn" situation. Buffy was hoping that behavior was going to change when they got home, but as they walked into the house, that hope was quickly dashed.
"Not hungry, B. Night."
She took the stairs two at a time, leaving Buffy calling after her:
"What? Faith, of course you're hungry. Let's just……Empty room, Buffy. Faith has left the building."
Well, maybe not the building, but she had certainly left the room and it was now officially a "thing". Buffy couldn't even remember the last time Faith had turned down food, she didn't even know it was possible.
She locked the door and switched off the lights before heading up the stairs. As she got to the bedroom, she began hoping again that Faith was going to talk to her, but as they got ready for bed in complete silence, Buffy knew it was just a night of dashed hopes.
The tension Faith was feeling was easy to see. Her shoulder muscles were bunched, she was avoiding all eye contact, and a dark cloud was following her wherever she went, which at the moment was into the bathroom. Buffy got into bed to await her return.
She knew Faith wasn't going to talk, at least not voluntarily. She also knew if they didn't get this all out in the open tonight, by the time morning rolled around, Faith would be caught in the middle of a big self-hatred thing. If that happened, she would beat herself up for days, maybe even weeks, and Buffy hated to see her suffer like that…especially when it was about Dawn. They needed to talk about it now.
Faith came back into the bedroom, closing the door softly even though they were the only ones home. She leaned down and kissed Buffy briefly, mumbled, "Goodnight", then slid into bed with her back firmly presented. It was an easy message for Buffy to read, but it was one she was going to have to ignore.
"Aren't we going to talk?"
"Don't think so."
"Okay, but how come?"
It took so long for her to reply, Buffy thought maybe she wasn't going to.
"Not a good idea."
"Faith, I'm going to need a little more than that."
"Sorry, that's all I got."
Buffy gave her a minute to change her mind, then plunged right in:
"What did Dawnie say?"
"I'm not talking now. Goodnight."
"But why aren't you talking now? I mean, I get that you're upset, but you've talked before when you've been upset, so…"
"Don't worry about it."
Faith's tone was so dismissive and condescending that Buffy instantly became angry. She hung onto her temper though because getting upset wasn't going to help anything and that was what she was trying to do: help Faith. And then Faith reached over and turned off the light.
That common, everyday act had Buffy seeing red. Faith had obviously gone insane, that had to be the answer. Nothing else in the world could possibly explain how Faith could come to the conclusion that turning the light off in Buffy's face was a good idea. Only someone not in their right mind would ever believe that.
Buffy sat quietly and began counting to a hundred. She made it to four, then reached across Faith and turned the light back on.
"Don't do that, Faith."
"I like to sleep in the dark."
"And you prefer to live there too."
That little dig hit home, and now it was Faith trying her best to keep a lid on her temper.
"Look Buffy, it's not a good idea to talk right now."
"And I want to know why."
"Would ya just shut the hell up and go to sleep?"
She reached over to turn off the light again, but this time she found her wrist in the powerful grasp of an angry Slayer.
"Put it like this: you really don't want to do that."
Faith's response was all anger and sarcasm:
"So what, we gotta do this on your schedule now? Way sorry you don't approve, but I'm goin' to sleep."
"I'm not trying to force you to talk, I just want a basic outline of how you're feeling."
"Yeah? Well, too fucking bad."
"Faith, come on…"
"Okay Buffy, wanna know how I'm feeling?"
Faith turned to look at her:
"I'm feelin' tired, just like everybody does every fucking day. I'm gonna go to sleep now, just like everybody does every fucking day. It's normal, so stop making it such a big fucking deal."
"I'm not making it anything, you're the one who's being a jerk. I just want a general idea of how it went, any info at all would be fine."
"Christ, will you just shut up and turn off the fucking light?"
"You want the light off, Faith?"
"Yeah Buffy, I do!"
Buffy threw the lamp against the wall at full Slayer strength and it literally exploded.
"There Faith, the light's off."
"What in the hell are you doing?!"
"Making you happy, what's it look like?"
"Fine! Wanna talk so goddamn bad? Let's talk then! "
She flung the covers aside and got to her feet.
"We can talk about how I got so much evil in me, demons can just hop right on in and make me hurt and almost kill the people I love. We can talk about all the shit I've done and how I pretend I can somehow make up for it when deep down I know I never can."
Faith's voice was filled with so much pain, Buffy just wanted to reach out and pull her close. She knew she couldn't, not yet. Faith needed to get this out, so Buffy sat silently, not moving a muscle.
"Let's me and you chat it up when the down and dirty's that I deserve to be burnin' in Hell right about now. 'Stead I'm hangin' here and gutting the most important person in the world right in front of her baby sister. Yeah, B, talking's a great fucking idea, I'm havin' a blast, how 'bout you?!"
They stared at each other in the darkness, the only noise the harsh sound of Faith's breathing until Buffy spoke:
"Dawnie's so grounded."
There was a slight pause and then they both burst into laughter.
"Yeah B, she's really got it comin'."
Faith sighed heavily and sat back down on the bed.
"Sorry about the big blow-up."
Buffy scooted over and sat next to her on the side of the bed:
"It's okay, I just hate to see someone let their temper get away from them like that."
"Hard to see much with our lamp pulverized."
"Hmm…I'm not exactly sure how that happened. The choices are: accident or PMS."
"Let's just call it: 'Accidental PMS'."
"Perfect…Faith, I'm sorry. I think I kind of overreacted. I should have just let you go to sleep, but I was worried that you were keeping everything bottled up."
"Wonder why ya thought that?"
They laughed again and Faith reached for Buffy's hand:
"It's just hard, B. She's really okay with it, it's all me. I can't stand that I hurt her…She's never been scared of me, even when she shoulda been, and then I saw her lookin' at me and she was fucking terrified……She was the one thing I did right and now that's gone. It's hard to accept and…"
Buffy tilted Faith's head up so that she could see her eyes in the darkness. She was thankful that the moonlight slivered in through a crack in the closed curtains because when joined by her Slayer vision, it allowed Buffy to see just fine.
"Faith, she wasn't looking at you like that, she was looking at the demon. Nothing's been ruined, she still loves you, you're still her hero. She's not a little girl anymore, she understands what happened and she knows it wasn't you."
"I'm going to paraphrase something a very wise person once said to me: 'She has complete trust in you Faith, and she's right to. You're a great friend, sister, role model, and hero. Don't do this to yourself. Don't doubt your relationship with Dawn…I see it and it's beautiful'."
"This guilt you're feeling? Don't listen to it, it's a liar. Listen to Dawnie, to all of us. We tell you the truth, Faith. All of those other voices don't mean a thing."
Faith kissed her then, and it didn't take more than a few seconds for the passion to flare up into a blaze.
"I love you, B."
"I love you too, Faith."
"Why? Did you have something in mind?"
Faith's hands were roaming, and Buffy knew exactly what she had in mind.
"So, what are you thinking, F?"
"Kinda hungry here."
"Mmm…me too…Wait, do you mean 'food' hungry?"
"Well, yeah. Not like I had anything after patrol."
"I hate you."
Faith turned on the charm as she planted tiny kisses along Buffy's neck.
"C'mon, baby…Let's head downstairs and grab a quick bite."
"You mean like I suggested twenty minutes ago?"
"Not my fault B, ya shoulda insisted."
"Oh, so it's all my fault now?"
Faith grinned as she stood and hauled Buffy off of the bed:
"Well, yeah! You know I get all grouchy when I'm hungry; no wonder I was so pissed off before. Ya say ya love me, but you're not takin' very good care of me."
"I'm so sorry. However can I make it up to you?"
Buffy sighed, then sighed again:
"Fine, let's go."
She led the way…or tried to.
Faith's arms were encircling Buffy from behind and her lips were exploring everywhere they could reach. Buffy was trying to walk to the door, but she was finding it more than a little difficult.
"Faith, stop. I can't…"
"See? If you woulda fed me, we wouldn't be stumblin' around in the dark like this."
"True, and if your hands weren't touching me there, I could walk straight."
"You're never walkin' straight again, girlfriend."
They made it out into the hall, the nightlight illuminating the way.
"Mmm, F…you are so irritating..."
Faith slammed her against the wall, kissing her as she slid her hands into Buffy's pajama bottoms.
"That's why ya love me."
"Among many…many reasons."
"So tell ya what: while you whip up the grub, you can list'em out. Man, I love talkin' shit out! Ya get food and praise and…"
"Oh yeah, nothing says fun like late night cooking."
"Just what I was thinkin'!"
"I will kill you one day."
"Maybe, but not today, B. Today were livin' large."
Buffy moaned as Faith's fingers hit a rhythm.
"If you want food, you'd better…"
"Not sure anymore which half I want more."
"Of my Slayin' theory."
"'Slaying theory'? No clue what you're referring to, F."
Faith's hands moved to Buffy's butt and she lifted her up.
"Yeah? Way you got your legs wrapped around me makes me think otherwise."
Buffy's mouth attacked Faith's neck, then trailed up to whisper into her ear:
"Slaying makes you hungry and…hardy?"
"Fuckin' laugh riot, B."
Screw the food."
"Okay, but I rather do you instead of a cucum…Faith!"
Faith stumbled back into the bedroom, Buffy clinging tightly around her and intent on doing her best to drive her crazy.
"You can't seem to walk straight either, F."
She tried to toss Buffy down onto the bed, except Buffy didn't let go, pulling her right along with her. They both grunted from the impact.
"Jesus B, tryin' to kill us?"
"I don't like being apart from you."
Faith kissed her, then brushed the blonde hair back from her face.
"Gotta tell ya B…you sure are a lotta work."
"I know, thanks for putting up with me."
"Big sacrifice, but you're mostly worth it."
Buffy legs were still locked around Faith's waist and her hips began moving:
"Prove it, F."
"All night long, B."