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"Willow, would you fuckin' stop?"

"What, Faith? You can dish it out, but you can't take it?"

"Can take it just fine, but if I keep goin' in the roses, sooner or later there's gonna be some major damage and that's not gonna make Junior happy."

Dawn giggled at Faith's nickname for Spike:

"Well, he's not too happy about being called 'Junior' either."

"Hey, not my fault. He's the one who 'Single White Vamped' Angel and snagged a soul."

Willow bumped Faith from behind:

"Stop with all the stalling and go get your ball."

Faith bent down, peering through the bushes:

"This is a stupid ass game…Who the hell even plays croquet?"

"Obviously we do, although you…not so well."

"You're just pissed 'cause I took your precious green ball."

Willow's face went red and she began yelling:

"I always get the green ball! Everybody knows that!"

Faith smirked at her over her shoulder:

"Wow, can ya be a bigger baby?"

"I might be a big baby, but I'm the one who's winning!"

"Yeah? Well, the game's not over. Plenty of time to shove a wicket…OW! There's fuckin' thorns in here!""

Xander chose that rather unfortunate moment to wander into the backyard:

"Hey, ladies! What's shaking at the Casa de Summers?"

"Xander, Faith's picking on me!"
"Xander, Willow's picking on me!"

He took a step back and held up his hands as they both rushed him.

"Whoa, timeout!"

"Xander, she's the one…"
"Xander, she's the one…"

"Hold it! Dawnster, you seem older than four. What's going on here?"

Her face became serious as she began an orderly recounting of the events::

"Well, let's see…It all started when Willow said Faith could pick first…She chose the green ball."

He whirled around in horror to stare at Faith:

"Good God! Faith, are you crazy or suicidal?"

Faith tried to look innocent:

"What? It's just a fuckin' ball."

Dawn picked up the recap:

"So Willow keeps knocking Faith's ball all over the yard every chance she gets. I mean, she's not even really playing, she's just trying to kill Faith."

"That is so not true! I can't help it if her ball's always in my way."

"Total bullshit! She keeps smashin' it into the roses too and…"

"And I'm the 'big baby'? Maybe you should explain the game to her, Xander."

He looked like he'd rather be almost anyplace else as they converged on him.

"Gee, how fun. A dispute between a powerful witch and an angry Slayer. Hey, do you guys hear that? I think the broken disposal's calling my name...Coming!"

And then he was gone, running for his life into the house and away from the crazy people.


He never broke stride, and they heard the door slam and lock behind him.

"Damn, never knew he could run so fast."

Willow nodded:

"Yeah, he's definitely quicker when he's being a chicken…Better go get your ball, Faith."

"Yeah, looks like somebody already got both of Xander's."

They all burst into laughter until Dawn piped up:

"That is so funny, I can't wait to tell Buffy!"

"Hey uh, that's one of those things we talked about. Ya probably shouldn't repeat it to B…not 'less you say Red said it."

"Me?! Right, like she'd ever believe that. I don't even talk that way."

Faith was easing into the bushes, doing her best to be gentle while she tried not to get stabbed to death again by the numerous thorns.

"Guess ya just ain't witty enough. Where the fuck's the fucking ba…Shit! Did you guys just hear that? Tell me you didn't hear that."

Willow tried not to gloat:

"I heard definite snappage."

"Yep, I heard it too."

"Fuck! Okay, okay, don't panic…Dawnie, run and get me some Scotch, the tape not the booze…No wait, maybe bring'em both."

"Okay, I'll be right back."

"Run, will ya? Sun's gonna be down soon and he's gonna be out here."

Dawn took off into the house as Faith turned back to the roses. She was muttering to herself, her attention completely on the broken stem:

"Yeah, I can fix it. He's never gotta know, leastways not for a day or so."

Willow stood watching her with amusement and honest to goodness affection. She would have never believed it was possible, but she actually liked Faith…a lot.

Since she'd come back, Faith had proven herself time and time again. She stood beside or in front of them during battles, and she always kept an eye out in case they got into trouble. She never responded to their slights and insults, giving them all the time and space they needed to come to terms with her presence. She was very respectful of their feelings, never pushing the issue or attempting to charm her way into their good graces.

They weren't nice to her at all, dishing out some really rough stuff along the way, but she simply took it and never lashed out at them. She was especially gentle with Xander, even apologizing to him when it seemed clear that he hated her.

"You deserved way better for your first time, Xander, and I'm sorry I acted like that. You still tried to help me and I thanked you by tryin' to kill ya. There's no taking it back, but man, I wish I could. Anyway, just wanted you to know I'm really sorry, and I get why you hate my guts."

He tried hard to hold onto his hatred and fear, but just like everyone else he could see that she was a different person. Hating her for things done in the past began to seem more than a little stupid and petty, in fact it seemed unfair and downright mean not to give her another chance.

Willow remembered exactly when she finally gave in to Faith. The two of them were alone in the basement of the Magic Box checking inventory. After a lengthy time of their usual uncomfortable silence, Faith spoke up:



"Um…Could I…uh…ask you something?"


"Do you think Xander and Anya still love each other?"

Willow stopped what she was doing and stared daggers at her:

"Why, do you want another chance to choke Xander?"


They went back to what they were doing, but after a couple of minutes, Faith asked again:

"So do you think they still love each other?"

"Yes, I do. Why?"

"No big, just wanted your opinion."

But it was a "big", the big beginning of "Operation Xander and Anya: Lovers Reunited".

Faith in a very subtle and very masterful way, proceeded to make Anya insanely jealous. She somehow did it without anyone else noticing, not even Xander. She kept at it, and after two weeks, Anya finally snapped in front of everyone:

"Okay, Xander Harris, enough! Yes, I'm still in love with you. Are you in love with me?"

"Huh? Anya, what are you…"

"Answer me! Do you still love me?"

"More than ever."

She kissed him passionately, and when it ended he stood there dazed.

"Good. Let's move back in together and work on this whole marriage thing some more."

"…An, do you mean it? Are you sure?"

"Of course I'm sure. Did you really think I'd just stand here and let some other woman, even if she is a Slayer, take you away from me? You're mine, tell her that right now."

"'Tell her'?"

"Right now, Xander. That way if she tries anything, we'll have plenty of witnesses."

He was clearly confused, but he turned to Buffy anyway:

"Uh, Buff? I'm sorry, but I'm with…"

"Not her you idiot, her!"

"Who? Faith?!"

"Yes, Faith! What are you, blind?"

"But Anya…"

Anya pulled him closer:

"No 'buts'. It's obvious she can't forget that one night you had sex with her. Tell her she can't have you back, not ever. You let her know right now that you're mine and I'm yours and we'll only be having sex with each other from now on."

"Yeah but…"

"I know you hate to hurt people's feelings, but if you don't make it clear she might become a crazed stalker. Remember how Glenn Close got all…"

He still looked completely confused, but he turned to Faith:

"Faith, I'm with Anya."

"Damn. Okay, well ya can't blame a girl for tryin'. No worries though, I know when I'm beat. Congratulations, Anya. No hard feelings?"

She solemnly shook Faith's outstretched hand:

"No, no hard feelings, not unless you come after him again. You can be friends though, I got used to that with Willow and Buffy…"

"You got 'used' to it? Will and I knew him first!"

"…but friends is all. And that means without benefits."

Faith nodded:

"Understood. He's all yours, fair and square."

"Good. Come on, Xander. Let's go have lots of make-up sex and then when there's time, we'll talk this whole thing over."

"I can get behind that."

"Yes, we'll definitely do that position."

She snuggled into him as he wrapped his arm around her shoulders, and they headed out the door.

"Nobody bother us, we'll be way too busy having multiple orgasms to deal with anything else. You people are on your own!"

Then they were outside, but Anya's voice could be heard easily through the open door:

"I know she was crazy, but when she killed that horrible rabbit, she made me like her. I think Faith's that kind of woman."

The door swung closed, and everyone sat in total confusion, everyone except Willow and Faith.

When Willow turned to look at her, Faith smiled shyly, then winked, and who could resist that? Not Willow, and she buried the hatchet right then and there, and not in the middle of a certain Slayer's back. She understood now: this person was a different Faith, and this Faith had won her over.

She began noticing other things as well. Buffy was happier than Willow had ever seen her. She laughed all the time now, and she'd lost a lot of the tension she'd been carrying around with her for years. Her whole demeanor changed whenever Faith was near, and she became practically giddy at the sight of her. Yep, Willow was finally putting two and two together and coming up with four.

She also noticed something else that had been right in front of her face for years, and she couldn't believe she'd missed it for so long. Her only excuse was that she hadn't exactly had a reason before to think of Faith in an objective way, but now seeing her day in and day out, it quickly became obvious to Willow: Faith and Spike were separated at birth.

There were so many similarities, it was crazy. There was the whole bad boy/bad girl thing, the aura of danger that surrounded them, the nicknames they gave to the people they cared about, and their intense affection for Dawn. They both had a crazy amount of sex appeal just oozing out of them, and they both read people with ease. They shared the same sense of humor, they'd both been evil and had fought themselves to change, and they were both trying to make amends for the things they had done.

It was like they were the same person, and Willow couldn't believe she'd never picked up on it before. Of course, Buffy's big love affair with Angel had sort of put her on the wrong…Whoa! Faith was like Angel too.

Guilt stricken, tortured by the past, on a quest for redemption, way dangerous, mysterious, and all broody and dark with sexy good looks. No wonder Buffy was so blown away by her. Faith was Angel and Spike all rolled into one, and there was definitely no more guessing needed when it came to what Buffy's type was. She'd made it pretty clear.

Buffy and Faith, it wasn't shocking at all when you looked at it logically.They were co-workers who did an insanely dangerous job, and they were both stunningly attractive, smart, funny, and exciting. They were alike and yet different enough to be intriguing to each other.

Both of them were straight as far as Willow knew…except that wasn't exactly right. When it came to Faith, well, she was Faith and she was in a league of her own. She'd always been so sexual right from the start and it had been impossible to get a handle on her. Her stint as a maniac hadn't really helped to clarify matters either.

Still, it was apparent to Willow that Faith had always wanted Buffy, and she could see now that Buffy had felt just the same. The spark between them, such a mystery to Willow back in the beginning, had revealed itself through the years to be an obvious sexual attraction that had merely intensified in the present day. The only real question now was: what exactly did it mean?

Willow had always thought of Buffy as the straightest of the straight girls, but their "sleeping arrangements" discussion a few weeks ago had thrown that dumb belief right out the window. She should have known years ago, just based on the passionate reaction Buffy had always had to all things Faith. But again: what exactly did it mean?

Faith loved Buffy. Willow had known that since witnessing their conversation years ago on the UC Sunnydale campus. She wondered if Buffy had any clue about Faith's feelings for her, then or now. Probably not, even though every single thing Faith did revealed her love. But then this was Buffy, and she'd never been all that quick on the draw when it came to matters of the heart.

Add in that she was now so worked up about the situation and refused to really talk about it, well, there was just no way she was suddenly going to figure it out. Besides, when it came to Faith, Buffy had never been able to see straight…and boy, oh boy, did that expression ever fit perfectly.

So did Buffy love Faith? If Willow had to bet, her money was on "yes". In all the time she'd known her, she'd never seen Buffy behave the way she was behaving. Sure she was understandably shook up about the "woman" and "Faith" parts of it, but there was definitely something a lot bigger going on. Buffy was way too rattled, way too full of emotion for it to be just about the gay thing.

The main problem now was that Buffy wasn't going to go first and Faith was never going to tell her how she felt, at least not without some heavy duty prodding. Willow knew she was going to have to provide some major assistance and she was determined to keep her eyes open for any chance that might come her way. She didn't know what she was going to do or when she was going to do it, but she was going to be ready when the opportunity presented itself.

Buffy and Faith……Willow couldn't stop smiling.




The Magic Box was one tense place to be. Giles was behind the counter consulting his clipboard for at least the fifth time, and Buffy  had her arms folded as she tried to be patient with him.

"Look Giles, if we can't find it, you don't have it."

"Well yes, although that seems to make sense, it would also mean that Anya has ordered incorrectly, and I can assure you that is quite impossible."

Buffy rolled her eyes as she stood in front of him:

"Hello? Earth to Giles, do you copy? Have you seen Anya lately? All she can do is moon over Xander, so trust me, there are plenty more incorrect orders in her near future."

"…Yes, I suppose, but none of that changes the fact that we need frazzenroot if Willow is to perform the Tarfis Ritual."

"Re-preaching to the choir here. I know this."

Spike spoke up from his spot in the corner:

"Alright, no need for fisticuffs between a Slayer and her Watcher. Got your answer at the ready."

They turned to him expectantly, but he merely stared back. Buffy counted to fourteen before she lost her temper:


Spike didn't even bother to hide his smirk:

"Bloke I know in a burg north of here grows the stuff."

He stopped again, doing his best to push Buffy's buttons. This time she made it to six.

"So does he give it away or what?"

"He does indeed, pet…for a price."

Giles finally put the clipboard down:

"Splendid, Spike! Just how steep is the price?"

"All he requires are kittens or puppies."


Dawn's voice hit a frequency seldom heard on their current plane of existence as she stopped stocking the shelves.


Already sensing a lost cause, Dawn  rushed over to Giles:

"We can't give him little kitties and puppies!"

"Well no, I suppose…Spike, will he accept something else?"

"Sure, blighter takes money…"

Dawn was instantly relieved:

"So we'll give him money then, right guys?"

"…long as it's enough for him to buy the tiny scraps himself."


She ran from the shop, the door slamming behind her as she escaped into the alleyway.

"Hey, what's with the Little Bit? She comin' back?"

Buffy rolled her eyes again as she let out a huge sigh.

"Would you just go call this guy and make it work?"

"No worries Slayer, just need a few. But someone oughta check on her. Maybe you lot didn't notice, but I'd wager somethin's bothering her."

"You think? I'll take care of her, you just handle the negotiations. We need the 'Fraggle Rock'."

He headed off into the training room to make the call:

"Good as done, luv. Let me know if I can help with Dawnie."

Buffy forced herself not to smack him :

"You'll be the first one I call."

"Good to know. Right back."

As he disappeared, Buffy turned to Willow:

"Will, assuming Mr. Rocket Scientist succeeds, you'll need to make the pick-up. It has to be you because apparently you're the only one here who knows what it looks like."

"I bloody well know what it looks like!"

"Which you're not proving by not having any in stock."

Willow shut down her computer and Buffy handed her her laptop bag.

" Anyway, you'll need to take some muscle, just in case. The sunshine rules out Spike and I've got that thing at Dawn's school today."

"Hmm…Now who's that leave as Red's 'Louise'?"

Buffy smiled:

"Would you guys mind?"

"I don't know…What do you think, Faith?"

"Tough call. Gonna leave it up to you, Red."

Willow's face screwed up in concentration as she tried to make her decision:

"A fun road trip on a beautiful sunny day…Hmm…okay, but only for you Buff, and only because you begged us."

"I don't remember the begging part, but thanks."

Faith swung her legs down from the table and stood up:

"Don't gotta thank us, B. We're pros, this is our job. It's what we do, no more, no less………I got 'Shotgun'!"

"Oh boy, tell me I'm not spending all day with a goofy ten year old."

"Hell no, let the little punk hitch onto the next trip."

Before Willow could respond, Dawn walked back in. Her eyes were red and swollen, but she was no longer crying. No one got the chance to talk to her because Spike came swaggering along, his success evident in his cocky demeanor:

"Good news all 'round. He's got plenty and he's selling at fifty an ounce. Likes the ladies though, so I'm thinkin' Dark One turns on the charm and he'll go lower."

"Good show, Spike!"

"Thanks, Ripper. Lucky we were going with cash, soddin' fool's gone veggie. Wanker went on and on 'bout how his complexion's improved and he feels years younger. Was like he'd turned into a lady."

Dawn looked beyond happy:

"Spike, are you sure?"

"'Bout the dollars? Yeah, was tryin' keep him nattering on so he'd be willing to lower himself to deal with humans, and he goes off about his new diet and how he needs the cold hard stuff. By the end, I was ready to stake myself."

She hugged him, her relief and joy obvious to everyone.

"That is so great!"

"Yeah, whatever. All good news, like I said."

Buffy looked cautiously optimistic:

"So everything seems perfect. You guys still need to be careful."

"Yes, Buffy is quite right. Just because this assignment appears straightforward, we've no real assurance that it is."

Faith stretched and smiled big:

"Got it, G-man. Probably motorin' our way into a trap. Gonna have to fight for our lives, only to escape with the 'fuckinroot' clutched safely in our heroic hands."

Giles was a little befuddled:

"Ah…yes, I suppose that's in fact, one possible…"

"Faith, just be careful, okay?"

"No worries, B. Got Red's back all the way."

"And me too, with the back of Faith."

Giles handed Willow five hundred dollars, and they headed out to Giles' car which was parked by the curb out front.

As they left, Faith's excited voice could be heard clearly:

"Okay, can't do a road trip without the right snacks taggin' along. Gotta grab some chips, Twinkies, licorice, and chocolate, your choice. I'm drinkin' root beer, but we oughta get some water too. Ya wanna add some shit?"

Buffy watched them from the window as they got into the car. She wished she could go too, but her sisterly duty called. She hated to miss it though, because she knew that Faith would make the trip so much fun.

Buffy turned her attention back to business, she had more important things to do than stand there and watch…She smiled and almost melted as she saw that Faith was already playing with the radio and making Willow laugh.

"Little Bit, fancy a day at the mall with 'Evil Incarnate'?"

"Yeah, that'd be fun!"

"Meet at the usual in an hour?"

"Sure! Can we see the new Johnny Depp movie? You know how much I love him!"

"Fine with me. Liked him well enough in those pirate movies."

"Great, see you there!"

She practically flew out the door, and all three of them smiled as they watched her go.

"I see you finally figured it out."

"Bit slow, Slayer, but I'm not completely stupid."

"You're sweet too, and a big fat liar."

He looked not the slightest bit concerned at being caught:

"Won't have her upset all day. Demon's gotta eat what he eats, but nothin' Little Bit needs to worry over. 'Sides, did like those pirate movies."

Buffy leaned over and kissed him on the cheek:

"Okay, see you guys tonight. And please make sure she eats something besides movie food."

His smirk was back in place.

"No worries, Slayer. Pet store's right near the theatre."



The retrieval of the frazzenroot had been mundane in the extreme. Faith had thrown in a bag of chips, two packs of peanut M&Ms, a bottle of root beer, and more charm than any one person should have, and the price dropped to twenty-five dollars. Business was concluded without any violence anywhere in sight and they drove to a nearby diner. They decided on take-out and found a scenic area overlooking the ocean.

Willow glanced over at Faith who seemed to be in a great mood. She was spreading out their food on the picnic table and humming under her breath as she devoured a mouthful of fries. It sure looked like a chance to Willow, so she wished herself luck and dove in.

"So Faith, how's it going?"

"Goin' good. Little pissed nobody tried anything, but what can ya do?"

"Yeah…but I meant with you, in general. Like how you're feeling."

Faith grinned:

"Oh, like a 'friend' deal? Got no complaints at all, you guys have been wicked great to me."

Willow smiled back at her as she handed Faith her drink.

"I'm glad you're back, we all are."

"Thanks, Red. Pretty happy about it myself."

The sandwiches were huge, so Willow took half of hers and handed the rest to Faith. They ate in a comfortable silence, staring out at the ocean. Faith devoured two and a half sandwiches, two orders of fries, and a large piece of apple pie.

"Fuck, that was good. Ready to motor?"

"Do you mind if we just sit here awhile?"

"Fine with me, but if you're tired I can drive. Still got no license, but if I keep it below the limit…"

Willow shook her head:

"No, I'm fine. I just wanted to talk to you."

"Yeah? 'Bout  what?"

"Well, I've been doing a lot of thinking."

Faith turned to face her:


"Faith, have you ever been in love?"


She tensed immediately and Willow knew she was going to have to proceed carefully.

"Uh-huh, I was just wondering."

"Slow day upstairs, yeah? Anyway, have I ever been in love? Nope, not even close."

"Really? Never?"

"Hey, just never been my thing, ya know?"

Willow sat quietly for a moment, then decided to throw caution to the wind:

"I don't believe you."

Faith laughed:

"Sorry to disappoint ya, Red, but one nighters don't make the cut. Couldn't pick none of'em out of a line-up if ya paid me."

"I've seen you in love."

"Well, yeah, woulda married that roast beef sandwich if…"

"You're in love with Buffy."

Faith's face went completely blank as Willow looked at her.


"Faith, come on. When it comes to Buffy, you've never been that hard to read."

"Fuck me, you're s'posed to be the smart one?"

"I know you think you've got to keep it from her, but I don't think you do."

Faith patted herself down, cursing the fact that she'd stopped smoking:

"Maybe I'd better us drive back since you're goin' nuts here."
"You don't have to admit anything, just hear me out, okay?"

"Well, since you got the keys and it's a long walk…"

Willow was encouraged that Faith hadn't killed her or left, so she kept going:

"I knew you loved her back then. I mean, I knew pretty much right away that you wanted her, but when Angel came back, you looked like your whole world had blown up."

"Red, I know you think you know somethin' here, but that was a long time ago and…"

"I didn't get it then, Faith, but I do now. I know how much it hurts to lose the person you love, how it can bring out the worst in you."

Willow's gaze seemed to stare out at nothing before she brought herself back to the job at hand.

"You'd finally found what you needed and then just like that, it was all taken away. You snapped because you thought you'd lost her forever."

"I was nuts, Willow, that's all. There's nothin' deep and dark about it."

"Okay, here's my confession: I didn't know I was gay back then, but I had a huge crush on Buffy. Everything was so great, just me and her girl-wise, then here you came. You just blew past me and took her away. You could come to class, draw a heart on a window, and she'd just go with you. I hated how she'd always respond to you, even when you were enemies."

Faith laughed, but Willow could hear the pain in it too.

"Okay, Red? Sounds like maybe you got the wrong angle workin' here. Maybe you're the one in love with B. Wanna talk it out?"

"Do you even admit it to yourself, Faith? Maybe at night when you can't sleep because you wish so much that you were with her?"

"Fun as this is, can ya wrap it up?"

"Goddess Faith, everything you do, everything you've ever done since you first saw her has been all about her! You can keep trying to hide it, but…well, you're not doing a very good job, at least not when it comes to me."

Faith said nothing, but she still sat there and Willow kept going:

"Buffy's special and you're in love with her. Denying that isn't going to change a thing. Nothing will, Faith."

"Willow, I know you're tryin' to do a solid, but even if it was true, B doesn't need a crazy, murdering slut. She…"

"But that's not you, Faith, not anymore. Now I admit, I never thought I'd say this but…I think you're the one. You've changed, turned your whole life around, and trust me; I know how hard it is to come back from losing yourself. You're brave and strong, and if you love her like I think you do, please go after her."

Faith cleared her throat, but her voice still came out on the shaky side:

"Think you're forgettin' something pretty important here. B's straight, remember? Even if any of this shit was true, which I'm not sayin' it is, no way could…"

"But that's just it, Faith. There's something about you that maybe makes it different for Buffy. It's always been like that and it's even stronger now, you just need to find out what it is."


"I know it's scary, but…She needs someone to love her, someone who really gets her and accepts her for who she is. She deserves that…and so do you. You have to find out what's between you guys."

Neither of them spoke for a long time. Faith stared out at the ocean, watching its soothing motion and the bright sunshine sparkling like diamonds as it shifted and made its way to the shore. When she finally turned to Willow, there were tears in her eyes:

"…I don't…I don't know if I can."

"Do you love her?"

"Oh yeah, more than anything."

"Then try, Faith. If not for yourself, then for Buffy."

The drive home seemed a lot longer, and the silence lasted the whole way.



"Angel Investigations. We help the helpless."

"Got the right place then."

"Hi, Faith!"

"Hey, Cordy."

Cordelia stopped filing and sat down at her desk, all of her attention firmly placed on her friend.

"So how are you? You actually sound good."

"Yeah, I'm sittin' pretty with everybody."



"Want to tell me what's wrong?"

Faith sighed:

"It's nothin'. Guess I still get freaked when shit goes my way."

"Just give it time, you'll get used to it."

"Maybe…Hey, hear the good news about Xander and Anya?"

"I did, and I also heard from Willow that it's all thanks to you. Turned on the sex whammy, huh?"

Faith laughed at Cordelia's description.

"Gotta use it or lose it, baby."

"I don't think you could lose it if you tried. Anyway, it was really nice of you to do."

"Yeah well, they're in love. 'Sides, I owed the guy."

"Speaking of love, what's the latest on the fantabulous Buffy Summers?"

"…Oh fuck, that the time? Gotta run, but I'll give ya a…"

Cordelia's voice was deadly serious:

"If you hang up on me, I promise you I'll be in Sunnydale in three hours."

There was only silence as Faith considered her options:

"C'mon, Cordy."

"Come on, nothing. You've been avoiding the 'Buffy' topic for weeks now, so shoot."

"Trust me, if I had a fuckin' gun…"


"Alright already! I don't know what to say. It's all still the same, 'cept it's more.
B's…Well, B's just so…so…"

Cordelia decided to cut her some slack:

"I know, she's just so 'Buffy'."

"Exactly. Our friendship fuckin' rocks. Way better than I ever imagined, and you know I can imagine some pretty kick ass stuff. I feel so good now, sometimes I even forget all the shit I did to her."

"Did you finally talk things over?"

"Yeah, most of it. She'd still like to know why, but I can't go there without tellin' her how I feel. So that sorta just sits there between us, but there's not much I can do about it."

Cordelia wanted to reach through the phone and throttle her, but she made herself stay calm:

"You could tell her."

"'Tell her'?! No fuckin' way, Cordy! It'd just make her uncomfortable, and I can't risk what we got goin' now."

"What about that freaky 'Slayer Bond' thing? What if it gets so strong she reads your mind and finds out?"

"Not gonna happen. Just kinda leveled out, no more mind walks or anything like that. We've just got this way intense awareness of each other when we're slaying, and that's cool. Big time handy in the tough fights, and Giles has been workin' with us. Got a handle on how deep we go, and she's not diggin' around where she's not s'posed to. Sitch ain't keepin' me up nights anymore."


"Yeah, all goin' my way for sure."


Faith sighed loudly:

"Jesus…Cordy, just say it."

"You know I couldn't be happier for you…Well, yes I could and that leads me to the point I want to make."

"Oh boy, here we go."

"I understand you don't want to rock the boat. You're thrilled you guys are friends, and that's great, it really is. But, Faith? You love her, are you just going to give that up? Are you seriously planning to stay there without ever telling her how you feel? You're going to see her every single day, and never say a word? How long do you think you can take that? God, it must be so hard already."

Faith's voice was uncertain, like she was trying to convince herself:

"It's not all bad. I get to see her every day, and she likes me now. Whenever she looks at me, there's no hate at all in her eyes. That's enough for me, it's gotta be."

"But why? You don't even know how she'd react. What if she feels the same way about you? It's totally…"

"Buffy? In love with me? Fuck, I'm just lucky she forgave me. That's all I was hopin' for, and it's way more than I deserve."

Cordelia wanted to throttle her…again, but she made her voice stay calm…again:

"No it's not, Faith. You deserve to be loved, and I think Buffy does love you, I think she always has. It's all that fits if you look at it objectively and…"

"And if you've been boozin' it up, which obviously you have."

"Okay, I know I can't change your mind right this second, but I want you to listen to what I'm going to say. Just hear me out, all right?"

"Yeah, okay. Got my ears wide-open."

"You're scared, and I don't blame you one bit for that, it makes perfect sense. But Faith, you can't keep letting the fear run you, and that's what you're doing. You're not a coward, you've got more courage than anyone I've ever known. Use it. Tell her how you feel about her. It's really scary I know, but you never run from scary things."

There was silence, and if Cordelia hadn't know better, she would have thought that Faith had hung up on her.

"…But Cordy, this is different."

"Just think about it, okay?"

"Yeah, but don't see how I can risk what I got. She means way too much to me, ya know?"

"I know……Hey, I'm still your best friend though, right?"

Faith laughed as the tension eased slightly:

"You're Queen C. Nobody even comes close to you."

"And don't you forget it."

"No chance. Hey, would ya tell Soulboy I'll call him in a couple?"

"Sure, and Faith?"

"Got my word: I'll think it over. Ex-con's honor."

"I know I'm right about this."

"The Queen has spoken. Catch ya later, Your Highness."

Cordelia stared at the phone before slamming it down. The whole thing was so frustrating, so stupid, and so unnecessary.

Everyone knew the Slayers were in love, everybody except them. The problem for her was what should she do about it? What could she do, beyond what she was doing?

She knew Faith wasn't really hearing her. She was so overjoyed that Buffy had let her back in, she couldn't see anything else. It was all:

"Buffy smiled at me!"
"Buffy stood next to me!"
"Buffy breathed in and out in my presence!"

That was great, but Cordelia knew it would be even better if "Wonder" Buffy could get a brain in her head. Faith was standing right in front of her and she couldn't see how much she loved her. It just confirmed what she'd always known: Buffy Summers was a self-centered moron.

She stood up to finish her filing, but she was so irritated she ended up just cramming everything in together and slamming the drawer closed. She had a million things to do, but she walked out and flopped down on the couch in the lobby instead.

The situation was ridiculous. Faith, Little Miss Sexbomb, was so in love, she'd lost all of her confidence. She should just go after Buffy like she did with Xander, only this time for real. Buffy would be lucky to last a day before she lost it and jumped Faith.

And where was Willow in all of this? She was the official lesbian of the group, couldn't she steer them in the right direction? Plus she was a witch to boot, how about whipping up a spell to show the Slayers they loved each other? A great idea to be sure, except it was a bad one.

Willow was just as likely to destroy the world as she was to get a simple spell working properly. And love spells? So not a good thing anyway.

Angel was no help either. He just kept saying they had to be patient. Well brilliant, but if it took much longer, they'd all be dead. Except for him, of course.

He had all eternity to just wait around. He was probably the idiot who came up with the whole, "patience is a virtue" saying, in the first place. She should stake him, then he'd understand they didn't have all the time in the world.

Okay, she knew it wasn't Willow's fault and it wasn't Mr. Dead Man Walking's either. She was just frustrated because she was Cordelia Chase, for crying out loud. This was the kind of problem she should be able to figure out in her sleep.

So far, all she'd managed to figure out was that she wanted to kill Buffy…right after giving her a big hug and a kiss for forgiving Faith like she had. It was seriously wonderful of her to do, and she was a bigger and better person than most people were. It was amazing of her to just let some extremely rough bygones be gone like she had. She was incredible, an absolute inspiration.

Right. This was Buffy, definitely of the good, but in no way a saint. After all of the things Faith had done to her, Buffy should be dipping her in boiling oil right about now, yet somehow she'd forgiven Faith in a matter of months. There could only be one reasonable explanation for that: Buffy loved Faith like Faith wouldn't believe. God, the two of them were so very stupid.

Maybe Willow could give them a brain. Make that two brains, one each. Right there was the perfect example of just how easy it was to screw up a spell. Add in Willow's potential to go all black-eyed and evil, it was way better to just leave magic out of it. And no wishes either, those never went well.

So that meant Broody Boy was right: patience was all they had and the Slayers were going to have to figure it out for themselves. Fine, but Cordelia would rather stake Angel herself than tell him he was right…Still, he was really cute when he got all cocky and smug, the odd time he was ever right about anything. His eyes would turn all……

"Why do I have to love crazy people? They're making me crazy and I…"

"Morning, Cordy. How come you're mumbling to yourself?"

"Because I'm sick of how insane you are!"

She went back into the office and slammed the door, and Angel stood there scratching his chest as he tried to wake-up.

"Maybe I got up too soon."

He trudged back up the stairs to his room. An extra hour of sleep couldn't hurt a thing.



Faith sat quietly in her motel room, the light from the TV her only illumination. The sound was turned all the way down, but she didn't really notice. She was lost in thought as she sipped a beer with her head leaning against the headboard.

She couldn't stop thinking about the things Willow and Cordelia had said. They'd both seemed so sure of what they were saying, so positive that they were right, yet in the end it all came down to what Faith herself believed. And what Faith believed, what she knew, was that no matter how much she wished it were otherwise, Buffy did not love her. Not like that, and Faith knew she never would.

Buffy did love her though, as a friend, and that had to be enough. No matter what Faith dreamed of, no matter what her heart burned for, that was the only love Buffy could offer to her. That was just reality, and Faith knew she had to accept it.

She didn't think it was a small thing. Buffy's friendship was in fact, the greatest thing that had ever happened to her. She had never believed in miracles, at least not for herself, but now that one had happened to her, she sure as hell wasn't going to be ungrateful about it.

What she had now was way more than she'd ever expected. Buffy cared about her, and Faith was determined to do everything she could to hang onto that. She couldn't do something that might put their friendship at risk, no matter what Willow and Cordelia thought. She just wouldn't do it, and that was as final as it got.




The Slayers were in the forest, doing their best to stick to the overgrown path. For just over two weeks they'd been trying to find the hideout of some particularly vicious demons and an hour ago, Willow had finally pinpointed their location.

Buffy and Faith had grabbed their weapons and headed out eagerly, tired of always showing up after the demons had killed someone else. It was time to slay and they were both eager to get the job done.

"So what do you think, Faith?"

"'Bout what?"

Buffy rolled her eyes:



"Are you ready to do this?"

"I'm good to go, B. You?"

Buffy glanced at her, then back to the "could be marked way better" path.

"I'm just wondering how we should do this."

"Whatever you got's good with me."

Buffy grabbed Faith's arm, slowing her forward progress:

"I didn't come up with anything. What about you?"

Faith laughed and plowed down the path.



"Perhaps I'm not making myself clear. We don't have a battle strategy."

"Guess ya better come up with one or we're goin' without."

Buffy grabbed her arm again:

"Well, let's make one together."

Faith finally looked at her:

"Okay. I say we kill everything we see."

Buffy could feel a headache beginning:

"That's not very good."

"Why not? Wing it or map it out, end result's the same."

"Yes, but…"

Faith shoved Buffy onward and followed behind:

"You got somethin' better, Slayer?"

"No, but…"

"Then move it."

They walked for a couple of minutes and Buffy kept sighing louder and louder until Faith stopped again:

"Fuck…You gotta be a girl even when we're on a mission?"

Buffy merely glared her response.

"Fine, Princess. Gimme a minute here."

"Take all the time you need."

Faith paced back and forth while she thought it through.

"Okay, I got it."

"You do?"

"Yeah. I say we should see everything and kill it."

Buffy smiled:

"That's all you've come up with?"

"Tryin' to say there's somethin' wrong with it?"

"No, it's just that it sounds a lot like your first idea."

"Hey, if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Buffy nodded as they started walking again. When they curved around a small grouping of trees, they spotted the entrance and immediately went into stealth mode. They blended in with the night, approaching silently and speaking so faintly only they could hear:
"And Giles thinks preparation's so important."

"It is, B. Gotta be prepared to charge right on in."

"Fine, since you're so prepared, you can go first."

They shared a grin and then burst into the demon headquarters together.

There was no more talking, no more teasing. They were the Slayers and they had a job to do. They set about doing it, disposing of the entire clan in a relatively short time as they fought back to back in perfect synchronization. They sliced and diced with a graceful and terrifying beauty, a perfect blend of elegant violence and skilled brutality.

Demon after demon charged them, and demon after demon fell. Buffy could feel Faith through their Slayer bond, and she felt like a force of nature. She was excited, confident, alive, and her whole being was centered on her calling.

They could sense each other's thoughts and emotions, and Buffy became aware of Faith's increasing concern about a demon who was approaching on her left. Neither of them were in a position to deal with him and he was coming on fast. The Slayers moved without a word, rotating swiftly with Buffy going low and knocking Faith's foe to the ground.

She beheaded him as he fell, and the fast approaching demon couldn't stop his forward progress in time. He impaled himself on Faith's waiting weapon, and with a grin she quickly pulled up, eviscerating him. Buffy's previous adversary swung at empty air, the Slayer unexpectedly gone, but before he could complain, both Slayers turned back to face him – the lone survivor.

And then it was over, leaving neither girl with so much as a scratch. As they emerged back out into the clean night air, Faith let out a loud, war whoop and Buffy laughed. She was so beautiful in the soft moonlight, her face flushed, her chest heaving from exertion, her head thrown back as she breathed in deep.

"Fuckin' A, B! We're like 'The Justice League' all by ourselves!"

"I know! We're one perfect Slayer, only there's two of us being one!"

"No more bitchin' about the extra trainin' with G-Man. Just gonna shut the fuck up from now on."

"I'll believe that when I see it."

"C'mon, let's go stomp the shit outta some more bad guys!"

They patrolled for another hour, but it was like Sunnydale had turned into a ghost town. The demon population had somehow gotten the word out and they were clearly hiding when they weren't outright running. The Slayers only managed to snag one unlucky vampire when he literally bumped into them as he exited a tomb.

He looked startled, then panicked as he registered who they were and what was about to happen. He took off running for his unlife, but his dust was drifting away in the night air in less than twenty seconds.
Faith was depressed:         

"Fuckers all hauled ass."

"I guess slaying of the psychic kind's only fun for us."

Faith looked around, but there was no one in sight.

"Ya buncha fucking pussies!"

"You know what, F? Let's take it out on the road. Nobody would know us, we could sell tickets and make…Eek!"

Buffy had leapt up to sit on a large headstone when it suddenly crumbled beneath her hand. Her momentum carried her backwards where she crashed loudly into a large grouping of bushes.


Faith was desperately struggling not to laugh as she moved to the rescue:

"B…B, you okay?"

"I think, but there are sticker thorny things all over the…Are you laughing at me?"

"Me? No way."

Faith went nuts, her laughter echoing around the cemetery.

"Fuck…That was so…funny! You were all sellin' tickets…"

Buffy began laughing too:

"Yeah, I was already spending the money we were going to make."

"…then you were squeakin' like a cartoon mouse!"

"Hey, I was caught off guard, and in a situation like that, 'eek' is entirely acceptable. And don't tell anyone."

They kept laughing as Faith helped her to her feet.


"Where's it hurt?"

"I scraped my elbow and these stickers…."

Faith bent down for a closer look:

"Lemme get'em."

She pulled out all the thorns she could see, but it was impossible to spot most of them in the darkness.

"Come on, B, motel's not too far. We need some light and I wanna take a look at that elbow."
"I think it's okay and most of the stickers are…"

Faith cut her off:

"B, always gotta argue with me?"

"Me'? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!"

"Now why ya bringin' kitchen shit into it? C'mon, can at least slap a Band-Aid on your elbow, you're bleedin' all over the place."

"Since I can't see it, I'll have to take your word for it. Lead the way."

It took just a few minutes for them to arrive at Faith's. She grabbed the key from its hiding spot under the broken step and unlocked the door, gesturing for Buffy to enter.

"Wounded first, B."

Buffy walked into the room and as always, she was struck by just how neat and clean it was. She'd asked about it a few weeks ago, and after a slight pause, Faith had answered:

"Always lived in a pigsty as a kid. Like my stuff clean now."

She often made comments like that, sometimes with no prompting, and every time she did Buffy felt like she was being given a gift.

Faith came out of the bathroom, holding a towel and a first aid kit:

"Over here, Slayer. This lamp actually lets ya see shit."

Buffy walked over to the chair, plucking out the stickers she could reach:

"I think we got most of them, except the ones on my back."

"Okay, turn around."

Faith used a pair of tweezers to make short work of the remaining thorns, then moved on to Buffy's elbow.

"Lemme look, the bitch was drippin' out there. Can I just rip this off?"

"Sure, why not? It's ruined anyway."

Faith tore the sleeve aside, then examined the scrape:

"It's already closin', just looks kinda red and tender."

Buffy raised her arm and tried to get a look:

"It's not bad now. What an irritating place to get hurt. I can't even see…"

Buffy's voice was cut off as she felt Faith's mouth on her own. Her lips were soft and warm, her tongue sliding along seeking access, and Buffy instantly gave it. Her lips parted to allow Faith's tongue to mingle with her own, and she felt the groan that escaped in a puff of breath from Faith.

Suddenly she found herself pulled deeper into the kiss. A hand wove through her hair, holding her head right where it was and Faith's arm wrapped around her waist, roughly yanking Buffy's body up tight against her own.

Buffy knew she should be shocked, but the only thing she felt was how right it was. She couldn't believe how much she wanted and needed Faith, how perfect it all…

She was let go, almost shoved back and the suddenness of it made her stagger.

"Fuck! I…I'm…Shit…B, I'm sorry."

She looked terrified as she took a step back, and the rapid shift in attitude had Buffy mystified.

"Faith, what are you…What just happened?"

"Nothing. Nothing  happened."

"'Nothing'? Uh, there's no way that could ever be called 'nothing'. I…"

Faith shifted uncomfortably, moving even further away.

"Just wound up from slaying. You know how I get."

"Okay, yes, but I've never experienced it with you before."

"Yeah, sorry. I'm just all.."

"Hungry and horny, I get it, but that doesn't explain..."

"Sure it does."

She grabbed the first aid kit and took it into the bathroom, not seeming to notice it was unlatched and supplies were trailing out behind her as she went. Buffy picked them up and followed her into the bathroom.

Faith had the box balanced on the sink as she snapped it closed…except as Buffy stood in the doorway watching, she saw that Faith could barely manage it. Her hands were shaking and she eventually swore and threw it the cabinet under the sink.

She turned to see Buffy standing in the doorway:

"Here, these fell out."

"Oh, yeah…thanks."

Faith gingerly took the items from Buffy's hands, making sure not to actually touch her. She tossed the loose items underneath without looking, then stood facing the sink.

"Okay, well I'm gonna let ya get some sleep and…"

"Faith, we're in your room."

"Yeah, right, I knew that. Just uh…I meant you can hang as long as ya like."

Buffy took a step into the tiny room and Faith moved forward against the sink.

"You don't need to go."

"Think I do."



"Are you saying you can't control yourself?"

"…I don't know what I'm sayin'."

Buffy was trying get Faith to look at her:

"Is it me or would you be like this with anyone right now?"

The color seemed to drain from Faith's face and she seemed unaware that Buffy could see her perfectly in the mirror. The fact that her eyes were closed and she looked like she was being tortured made the answer if not totally clear to Buffy, then much less hazy.

"Faith, are you going to answer me?"

There was a deep breath and then the dark eyes opened:

"Could be anybody, sorry."

"Why does it seem like you're lying?"

"Not lyin'. You know how I am."

"So you're just going to go out now and grab the first person you see?"

"Somethin' like that."

Faith's reflection toughened and she finally turned to face Buffy:

"See ya tomorrow, maybe give ya all the juicy details if you're lucky."

"But what if…"

Buffy's tiny step forward had Faith moving backwards, but unless she was planning to escape down the drain, there was no place left for her to go. She kept trying, doing a weird little shuffling in place as her lower back kept bumping against the sink.

"Glad your arm's good. Okay, well, I'm gonna take off now."

Buffy moved back and out of the doorway, and Faith looked wildly happier now that she was convinced she was on her way out of the room. She headed towards the door, but Buffy wasn't done:


She turned back to face Buffy, but her eyes stayed riveted to the floor:


"Why did you stop kissing me?"

"…I wasn't…I should…"

"Because I didn't stop kissing you."


"And I wasn't going to."

There was no response and Buffy moved closer, so close that when she spoke, her breath blew across Faith's cheek in a gentle caress:

"Do it again."

Faith heard the words, but she still began moving away, her heart pounding as she searched for a way out.

There was none as Buffy kept advancing, driving Faith back as she tried to stay clear of her. All too soon she banged up against a wall and there was nowhere left to go. It was only then that Buffy stopped, a charged whisper of space all that separated them as they stood silent and unmoving.

Nothing happened for what seemed like forever, but finally Faith raised her eyes to meet Buffy's. She saw it then, the sexy half smile that quickly turned into something else. As their lips met again, Faith could do nothing but give herself completely to the woman she loved.

Since that moment years ago in a dirty alley behind The Bronze, Faith had never wanted anyone else. She had taken plenty of people, but from the second she'd first laid eyes on a confused blonde holding a stake in her hand, Faith had felt her heart sailing off, never to return. There was no reclaiming it, she'd always known that.

The kiss was like sliding into a warm bath. She was drowning in Buffy: her smell, her touch, her heat, and she only wanted to go deeper. Faith knew it was a mistake she was going to pay for again and again, but there was nothing she could do to stop it and she let herself be submerged.

It had started out so softly, but then just like that the desire consumed them, leaving behind only each other in its wake. They had never felt anything like it before, and yet something about it was familiar, something deep inside that  was calling out and finally receiving an answer.

Buffy wasn't aware of her surroundings. All she knew was that she was with Faith and she never wanted to be anywhere else. Her body molded itself like it was meant to, and her hands clung tightly. She was afraid Faith was going to try and pull away again, and she couldn't allow that, not now.

But pulling away was nowhere in Faith's mind, not even in the deepest darkest corners of her subconscious. She was where she'd always wanted to be, and it was so much more than she'd ever dreamed it would be. In Buffy's embrace, she felt alive for the first time in her life, and she wasn't going anywhere.

When they eventually broke apart reluctantly, they stood locked in each other's arms.  Faith found she was afraid to move, not wanting anything to break the spell Buffy was obviously under. She stood motionless, savoring the taste of Buffy on her tongue, the soft tickle of Buffy's breath against her neck, and the warm strength of Buffy's arms as she held her tight.

"I want you."


"I want you so much, Faith."

She moved then, pulling back so that she could see Buffy's eyes:

"B……are you sure?"

Buffy stared into the dark eyes, watching all of the emotions swirling around: desire, fear, hope, love and she pulled Faith towards the bed, kissing her again as they went:

"I've never been so sure in my whole life."

Faith took control then, carefully pushing Buffy down onto the mattress and following on top of her. She kissed her as her hands slid under Buffy's clothes, stroking, exploring, teasing, making Buffy moan and cry out for her. Her mouth seemed to be everywhere, whispering words of encouragement, sucking, nibbling, caressing, and providing so much pleasure that Buffy felt everything she'd been missing suddenly fill in, completing her like never before.  

She never even realized that she was naked until she took in the sight of Faith's beautiful body and then felt it gliding silkily along her own.

"Oh God, Faith…"

"B, I'll stop. Whenever you need me to, I promise I'll stop."

Buffy's hand came up to stroke Faith's cheek:

"Don't stop…please…Don't ever stop." 

Faith took her then, gently at first, but as the passion roared between them everything changed. She became demanding and forceful, and Buffy eagerly met her every inch of the way. They were tender, they were rough. They teased and they insisted. They were aggressive and they relented, making love for hours because neither could get enough of the other.

Faith tried to memorize every moment, every sound, every touch because she knew it would never happen again. She had no idea how it was happening now, but it was and she was going to live on it for the rest of her life. Buffy  was in her bed, moaning her name, calling out her pleasure, matching her stride for stride, stroke for stroke like no one else ever had, and Faith never wanted to forget just how beautiful she was.

She was Buffy and she was everything.

When they were finally spent. Faith leaned down and kissed her as softly and lovingly as she could, and then she was up and on her feet.

"What are you doing?"

Faith began dressing quickly:

"I don't do the whole cuddling thing."

"So you're going to just leave?"


Buffy half sat up, holding the sheet to her breasts. Faith instantly noticed how she wasn't very good at it since her right one was on full display.

"I want you to stay with me."

"…Don't know how."

"I'll show you."

"Yeah, bet you could show me all kindsa shit."

Buffy smiled at her:

"I'm thinking that goes both ways."

Faith continued getting dressed.



"I'm completely satisfied, sore in all the right places, and totally exhausted. If you make me get up and drag you back into bed, I'm going to have to make you pay."

Faith couldn't help but laugh because she could see that Buffy was absolutely serious.

"Wouldn't want that, would we?"

"You wouldn't, no."

"You takin' responsibility if this fucks up?"

"It'll be all my fault. Now come here."

Faith hesitated:

"What do I do?"

"Just take off your clothes, I'll do the rest."

When Faith finally slipped back into bed, Buffy pulled her into her arms and kissed her.

"Thank you."

"I feel like an asshole. I've never…"

Buffy guided Faith's head to rest on her chest and began playing with her hair and stroking soothing patterns along her back.

Faith started off as stiff as the proverbial board, but it didn't take long before she relaxed. It felt natural somehow, and she couldn't believe just how comfortable she felt. Her arm draped on its own over Buffy's stomach and her leg casually entwined with Buffy's as she snuggled in.  She almost purred out loud when she felt Buffy kiss the top of her head.

It was like being in heaven, and Faith laid there unable to believe her good fortune. She was in Buffy's arms, all warm and cozy, and in some ways it was better than the sex. Who was she kidding? In some ways, it was better than anything she'd ever known.

She wanted to stay there for all eternity, but the sun insisted on coming up to put an end to the best night ever…only Buffy had other ideas. She wanted Faith to come back to the house with her:

"I know you're starving, come on,  I'll cook you breakfast."
Faith lifted her head from Buffy's chest to look at her:

"You're gonna cook me breakfast?"


"You are?"

"Let's not get all bogged down in the specifics. I mean, what's it matter who actually makes it? It's the thought that counts."

Faith couldn't resist her when she was being insanely cute, so against her better judgment she agreed to tag along with Buffy back to the house. The plan was to sneak in before anybody else was up, but a joint shower had them running late and Dawn was already in the kitchen by the time they got there.

She was sitting at the bar eating peanut butter straight from the jar with a tablespoon.

"Hey, guys. We're all out of chunky and this smooth stuff's almost making me gag."

Faith could feel herself panicking. She knew she must look different, everybody was going to know and they were all going to hate her guts. She looked at Dawn, but Dawn was standing in front of Buffy and holding out a spoon loaded with peanut butter:

"Just try it."

"No thanks."

"Come on, Buffy, just this one time."

"No, I don't want it."

She tried to edge around her, but Dawn moved the spoon right up against her sister's mouth:

 "You have to take the whole spoonful to get the gaggy, sick feeling."

"I don't want it, Dawn!"

"Fine, be all unadventurous."

She shoved the spoon into her own mouth and began trying to talk, and Faith felt herself calming down.

It was just Dawn and she didn't have a clue, how could she? It was just another normal day and…

"So, did you guys go at it all night?"

Dawn heard Buffy's snort of laughter, but she was transfixed by the effect her words had on Faith. She turned the brightest shade of red Dawn had ever seen on a human being, and considering that Faith was someone who never even blushed...

"Oh my God, you guys did it!"


"This is so great! You're finally together! I can't believe this!"

She hugged them, then actually began yelling with excitement. Buffy quickly clamped a hand over her mouth:

"Dawnie, we don't want anyone to know yet."

Dawn was nodding before Buffy had finished the sentence:

"Sure, that's no problem. I won't say anything to anybody, not even one of those, "You Have to Promise You Won't Tell Anyone I Told You This' deals with Janice! Oh my God, this is the greatest great thing that's ever happened!"

She was literally bouncing up and down, she was so excited, but Faith still felt like running.

"Wow! Buffy, usually just has rough sex with vamps or icky sex with Riley."


"Oh…oops. I was just trying to…"

As Faith listened to them bickering, she could feel her fear just drifting away.

"Yeah, B couldn't resist a heartbeat and a personality. Plus, got me some wicked hot skills where it counts."

"Oh gross! Where's the peanut butter?!"


She smiled and Buffy smiled back.

"Alright, Squirt, put that shit down. Gonna cook you girls a decent breakfast."

Faith didn't know where it was going, but she was going to ride it just as far as she could. Besides, she was starving.




Buffy sighed, happy and content as she lay in Faith's arms. She was perfectly comfortable as she listened to Faith's heartbeat and felt her hand resting on her back. It had been three weeks now, and it just kept getting better and better. It felt so right to be with Faith, and Buffy understood that her life had finally started for real.

She raised her head slightly to look at Faith. She loved watching her sleep. It was a cliché for sure, but when Faith slept her ever present barriers were gone, leaving behind them a young woman so impossibly beautiful, she took Buffy's breath away.

Buffy loved her, she knew that for certain. She was also certain that Faith loved her. She could see it every time those dark eyes looked her way and she felt it every time Faith touched her. Neither of them had said it out loud yet, but that would come in time.

Faith wasn't ready to call it love. Buffy could still see the surprise on her face every time they were together, and she knew it was going to take time for it to sink in that they weren't just having a fling. It was going to take even more time for Faith to understand that Buffy wasn't going anywhere because she was head over heels in love.

She knew she had to be patient, but it was hard because she was so happy. She was so filled with love she wanted to shout it out to everyone, even the vampires and demons she encountered on patrol each night. But she understood she had to wait, she had to give Faith time to adjust.

So instead of telling everyone about the best thing that had ever happened in the whole history of the whole world, they were still sneaking around and making out wherever they could. They tried to be careful, but since they could barely keep their hands off one another, it was a challenge to say the least. In fact, it was nearly impossible.

All it took was a look from Faith and Buffy's blood would begin to boil. With just a casual touch she could return the favor, making Faith jump and squirm until neither of them could take it. They couldn't control their reactions and as a result, they'd already had two close calls.

The first took place at the Magic Box. They were sparring in the training room and everything seemed normal. Suddenly Faith had Buffy pinned up against the far wall, her body sliding against her captive's as her lips began doing things that had Buffy trembling with desire. When she slipped her hand in…

"Good Lord!"

They froze, then almost collapsed with relief when they realized that Giles had been reading, and had never looked up.

"Right back."

He returned a few minutes later, only to find them engaged in a proper workout.

Their second close call occurred at Buffy's house. They had the place all to themselves, a rare treat, because Spike was watching an important soccer match with Giles, Dawn was sleeping over at Janice's, and Willow had taken off on a Wiccan weekend retreat.

They were alone and loving it, sitting side by side on the couch and holding hands while they watched some TV show. Buffy had no idea what was on because in truth, all she was watching was Faith…who was inexplicably engrossed in the program. Finally, Buffy couldn't take it anymore.

She swung herself over, straddling Faith as she began kissing her neck. Faith's hands immediately went to Buffy's ass, and her grip tightened as Buffy nibbled her way along. One thing led to another and Faith was no longer remotely interested in watching TV. Things were heating up and…

The front door flew open, slamming against the wall with enough force to leave a tiny dent behind. Willow blew past them, talking as she ran up the stairs:

"Hey guys, forgot my copy of 'Mangot's Spells'!"

She never really looked at them as they jumped apart, frantically trying to get dressed in time for her reappearance which took place just moments later.

"Got it! See you Sunday!"

With a slam of the door she was gone, leaving in her wake a pair of extremely disheveled Slayers. They looked at each other and burst into laughter:

"Hey F, your shirt's on backwards."

"Just lucky it's on."

"It's too small for you."

"No way. It's my fave and…"

"See the problem?"

Faith was looking down and grinning:

"Yeah, it's yours."

"May I just say that pink is so not your color?"

"Well, least I got a shirt on."

Buffy was offended:

"Hey, I'm covered."

"With my pants."

"Are you saying I don't look good in leather?"

"You look better in nothing."

Buffy slowly lowered the pants, loving the lust in Faith's eyes.

"So how did she not see us?"

"No clue. Think she was playin' it cool?"

Buffy laughed:

"Willow? You have met her, right? She'd have turned red and started stuttering and stammering on her way to the babblefest. She definitely missed the show."

"Maybe we got a special power that makes us invisible when we make out."

"That'd be handy."

"Yeah, could go at it whenever and wherever we wanted to."

Buffy scooped up the rest of their clothes and stood:

"I'd say that's ridiculous, but then this is the Hellmouth…Anyway, let's play it safe and go upstairs. I think we've had enough surprises for tonight."

"Got the adrenaline goin' though."

"Mine was going fine before she showed up. Let's see what I can do about yours."

Buffy smiled; things were going along just fine. And the sex was…Well, the sex was incredible. It was the best sex ever, a combination of all the best sex she'd ever had or dreamed about, multiplied by ten.

It wasn't just the sex though, it was much more than that. With everything Faith did, Buffy could feel her love. It radiated out from her in big warm waves that surrounded Buffy and made her feel so complete and so safe. It was like Faith was some part of her that had always been missing, and God, how much longer did they have to keep it a secret?

Faith hadn't said anything about it yet, but surely that was just a matter of time. Buffy looked at her sleeping blissfully, and as she watched her it was all perfectly clear: Faith was the one. They were meant for each other and Buffy knew it. She would wait just as long as she had to, she would always wait for Faith…she just hoped it wouldn't be too long.



They'd been patrolling for about two hours and Faith had been quiet for awhile. Buffy reached over and poked her in the shoulder:

"Penny for your thoughts."

"Huh? Oh, just thinkin' about us."

"Ooh, that sounds interesting. What about us?"

Faith was embarrassed, but she tried to sound casual:

"Ya know, just stuff."

"Hmm…yes, now I see. Thanks for the detailed explanation, but maybe you could define 'stuff'?"

"Just how unbelievable it is that we're…ya know."

Buffy stopped walking, her hand halting Faith's stride:

"Do you mean 'sleeping together'?"

"Uh…well, yeah."

"Faith, are you blushing?"


Buffy spun her around so that she could see her face clearly:

"God, you are so cute."

"I am not!"

"Since when have you been shy about sex? It's usually me who gets all embarrassed."

"…Since it's meant somethin'."

Buffy could feel herself turning into mush:

"That is so sweet."

She leaned in for a kiss, then took another while she was there.

"You are cute and sweet."

"Am not! Hate to tell ya, B, but I'm one tough bad ass. Dangerous, hard as steel. I am…The Slayer!"

Faith flung her arms out to her sides as she dramatically uttered her proclamation. Buffy smiled at her as they resumed their patrol:

"Yes baby, I know, you're just terrifying. Especially when you're all cute and sweet."

"Aw c'mon, B, work with me here. Got a rep to keep goin'."

"Also, you are not The Slayer, you're a Slayer."

They walked around the Alpert tomb laughing.

"Yeah, but sounds way cooler if I call myself The Slayer. Makes it seem like I'm a big shot."

"Okay, you can call yourself whatever you want to…just as long as you stay cute and…"

They both stared down in horror at the enormous knife that was now sticking out of Buffy's right shoulder.


But there was no time to discuss the situation as five Faber demons were already charging them. They quickly lost sight of each other as the demons closed in, and Buffy did her best to convey to Faith that she was all right. There was no response and since she couldn't feel her through their Slayer bond, Buffy knew Faith wasn't focusing.

The two demons fighting Buffy were using the knife in her shoulder to their advantage. They kept her too busy to remove it, and they kept hitting it whenever they could. It was causing her a lot of pain, but she forced herself to block it out and concentrate on the fight. She'd have plenty of time later to feel the pain.

If two demons were attacking Buffy, that meant Faith had three to contend with. Buffy knew she needed to change her position so that they could fight together, but the demons seemed to know what she wanted to do. They countered all of her maneuvers and blocked her quite efficiently.

They were smart fighters, as well as incredibly strong, and Buffy had her hands more than full. She was worried about Faith, but there was little she could do about it. She had to trust that her partner could hold her own, and she had to concentrate on the situation in front of her.

Buffy brought her full attention back to her opponents, determined to gain the upper hand, but just then she heard Faith cry out. She could not help the split second glance she threw in that direction, and her momentary distraction was all the demons needed.

One lunged in quickly, grabbing onto the knife that was still firmly lodged in her shoulder. He lifted Buffy off the ground with it, making her yell from the intense pain, then hurled her into a nearby wall.

She stayed conscious and began to rise, but before she could fully regain her feet, he shoved the knife into her even deeper until she felt the blade exiting her back. She screamed again and then everything faded to black.

When she came to, she was surprised to find herself in her own bed. She'd been expecting to wake up dead or in the middle of the much talked about "Slayer Sacrifice". Instead she was safe and relatively sound with Mr. Gordo keeping watch over her.

Her mind immediately went to Faith because if they didn't have her, that meant they had the other Slayer. She knew she had to get up and so she did, swinging her feet over the side of the bed. She almost passed out again; her shoulder and back were killing her and she was dizzy. Apparently it wasn't a good idea to imitate a human shish kebab.

The dizziness wasn't passing, but it didn't matter. They had Faith and that knowledge had Buffy struggling to stand. It wasn't going that well, and then she heard voices approaching her door:

"…if you guys hadn't shown up. Was my fault."

Faith was okay…Buffy eased back onto the pillows and listened.

"Yes, it was most fortuitous that Willow and I were passing by, but in no way was this your fault.  None of us were expecting an attack at this point in time, and as I'm quite certain my calculations are accurate, I'm afraid I don't understand what tonight was all about."

"I don't give a shit, I'm done waiting. Almost got B killed tonight, so this ends now. Gimme some places to look, I got it from there."

Buffy could hear the concern in Giles' voice:

"Faith, you cannot just…"

"Yeah, I can. Not fuckin' playing around anymore. Gonna kill these bastards, then I'm outta here."

Willow sounded panicky:

"What? You can't just leave! Buffy wouldn't want…"

"Not stayin' here, Willow. I distracted her and she almost got killed. Not gonna risk that again."

"But it wasn't your fault! It could have…"

"Fine, you're not gonna help? I'll find'em myself. Get outta my way, Giles…Now!"

Buffy started to get up again, but Giles took control before she had the chance:

"Faith, I am your Watcher, and although I fully understand your distress, you are not going anywhere. Stop trying to intimidate us, it isn't working and it's not at all productive. You shall remain here while we carefully assess the situation and tend to Buffy. This was not your fault and there will be no more talk of running off. We're a team, of which you are a vital member. Now please, go sit with Buffy whilst Willow and I gather the necessary reference materials."

There was only silence until Giles spoke again:

"Please Faith, just go to Buffy."

There was a slight pause and then the bedroom door swung open slowly. Faith entered, her face mad, scared, and a little ashamed.

"I guess Giles told you."

Her head jerked up at the sound of Buffy's voice and she rushed over to the bed:

"B, you okay?"

"A little sore and dizzy, but I'll be five by five when the snazzy Slayer healing kicks in."


"So what was that all about?"

"Just 'Pussy' Giles throwin' his weight around."

Buffy grabbed Faith's hand and pulled her closer until she sat down on the bed.

"How strange, because from here it sounded like 'Smart' Giles keeping you alive."

"…Yeah, maybe that too."

"I'm okay, okay?"

Faith squeezed her hand as she looked at her:

"You coulda been killed. It was my fault you…"

"Hey, it was no one's fault. They got the drop on us, we'll be more careful from now on. It was just a little…well, more like a 'medium sized' wake-up call for the Slayers."

Faith's eyes were studying the blanket as Buffy talked.

"Speaking of which, you do remember that I'm a Slayer, right? And that getting hurt and almost killed a lot is just part of the job…right?"



Buffy tightened her grip until Faith met her eyes.

"Yeah B, I know the deal."

"Okay then, so let's not lose our perspective here. Now, would you please kiss me before they come back? I'm hurt, and I've heard that kissing can make it all better."

"Think it depends on who's doin' the kissing."

"I'm pretty sure you're the right one for the job, but you're going to have to do it several times before I can be positive."

She was relieved to see Faith's smile make an appearance:

"Guess I might as well. Giles won't let me have any fun."

"Come here."




Faith was hurting, but she was doing her best to make it look like she wasn't. Considering that she'd almost fallen through Buffy's front door a few minutes ago clutching her probably broken ribs while blood poured down her face, she didn't think Buffy was all that fooled.

"Faith, what happened?!"

Buffy steered her slowly to the dining table.

"I won."

"Well, it looks like you almost…"

Faith shrugged and nearly screamed from the pain caused by the movement.

"Horseshoes…and slayin', ya know?"

Buffy pulled out a chair:

"Sit down, I'll be right back."

"It's no big, B. I'll just grab a shower and …"

"Sit down."

Buffy waited until Faith was down before she hurried off into the kitchen for the first aid stuff she kept under the sink. The second she was out hearing range, Faith slumped forward and let out a pained moan. She'd almost gotten herself killed and if it hadn't been for a lucky escape from the underground lair, followed by some quick thinking when she'd spotted the metal chains on the swings, she wouldn't be sitting where she was feeling like death warmed over.

She took a minute to try and compose herself. Of course the problem with that was that she was a mess, and unless Buffy had become stupid in the past few hours, even Beethoven couldn't compose her enough to get her out of the trouble she was in. At least not without it costing her a pound of flesh, and she was pretty sure she'd already lost close to that much.

Buffy came back with the first aid supplies and a large bowl of water. She looked worried, but not panicked.

"Okay, let me get some of this cleaned off so I can see how bad it is. We might need to go to the hospital…"

"No, I'm alright. Looks worse, ya know?"

"So what happened? Was it a team of vamps training for the Olympics or…"

Buffy was trying to ease Faith's jacket off as she waited for her response.



"Shit, can you go slower, B?"

"Not and still be moving. Should I just cut it off?"

"No! It's my fave."

"Let me try this…"

Buffy went behind her to get a different angle as she started gently tugging the sleeve from Faith's arm:

"So I don't get it, weren't you just doing a light sweep?"


Buffy stopped. Two one word answers in a row when it came to the topic of what had happened, and she knew something was wrong.

She walked around to stand in front of Faith, only to find that Faith was looking nowhere near her.

"Okay, what happened?"

"Huh? Just told ya."

"What happened, Faith?"

Faith decided she'd rather be back out in the night, but she forced herself to look at Buffy:

"Buncha vamps jumped me and…"

"Stop lying to me!"

The silence stretched out between them until Faith was finally forced to say something. She took a deep breath and instantly regretted it as the pain made itself known.


"What's wrong, F? Not feeling all peppy and ready to roll?"

"...Yeah okay, so I'm a little banged up."

"'A little'?"

"Just need you to tape these ribs and…"

"You do realize you still have blood pouring down your face?"

Faith glanced up at Buffy's tone and tried to smile:

"No big, ya know how head cuts…Ow!"

"I'm sorry, did that hurt?"

Buffy tossed Faith's leather jacket onto a chair.

"Fuck, I'm okay if you'd stop…OW!"

"Keep pressure on that."


Faith held the compression against her head wound and braced herself as Buffy raised her sleeveless t-shirt, but she was nothing but careful. She winced when she saw the damage and massive discoloration over Faith's ribs, running her fingers lightly around the area.

"They're bad, maybe three broken, but I need to clean you up first. You've got a couple of deep cuts on top."


Buffy didn't say another word while she cleaned and bandaged the gashes, then securely wrapped Faith's ribs. Satisfied with her work, she began examining what looked like a puncture wound on the back of Faith's shoulder.

"So what's going on here, Faith?"

"Well, you're playin' Florence Ni…OW! Fuck!"

Buffy poured more alcohol on the cloth, but this time she dabbed softly.

"I'd advise you to stop with the: 'Everything's Fine Here' routine. I'm already upset that you're lying, and you're just making it a million times worse."

They were silent again as Buffy finished up.

She covered the puncture wound, then lowered Faith's top into place. She cleaned the deep, jagged grooves on her bicep and forearm, putting a bandage on the upper arm gash, but leaving the forearm one open to the air. She slowly removed the towel from the head wound and although the bleeding had stopped,  she made a makeshift covering and taped it to Faith's forehead.  All that was left was Faith's broken finger, and Buffy quickly snapped it back into place before applying a splint.

Her medical duties done for the night, Buffy picked up the debris. She carried it into the kitchen with the bowl of water, the first aid kit wedged firmly under her arm. Faith heard the garbage hitting inside the trash can, then the backdoor opened as Buffy tossed the bloody water out onto the grass. She placed the bowl off to the side on the porch, then came back in and washed her hands before returning the first aid kit to its spot under the sink.

All too soon she was back, standing in front of Faith with her arms crossed over her chest and her eyes blazing fire.

"So, are you going to answer me?"

"Geez, B, already answered ya like fifty times. Got jumped and…"

"What? The vamps took your stake away from you, stabbed you in the back, then tore up your arm with it?"

Faith decided she'd better turn on the charm:

"Heat of the battle, but yeah, best I remember was sorta like that. They're dust now though, so fuck'em. Why don't we just go to bed?"

"Good idea. Sleep in Dawn's room or better yet, take the couch."

"B, c'mon on!"

"Have a great night, Faith."

Buffy clicked off the dining room light and headed up the stairs, leaving Faith sitting alone in the dark. As she marched out of sight, Faith knew with a sinking feeling that she was screwed no matter what she did. If she explained herself, Buffy was going to be furious. If she didn't explain herself, Buffy was going to be furious.

Feeling every inch of the journey, Faith dragged herself up the stairs to Buffy's bedroom. By the time she got there, Buffy was already in bed with her cow pajamas on, leaning back against the headboard as she flipped angrily through a magazine. She looked up, her expression stopping Faith from entering the room:

"This isn't one of your options."

Faith stood in the doorway:

"B, I'll explain, okay? But you're not gonna like it."

Buffy heatedly threw the magazine aside:

"Well, maybe it won't be as great as you staggering in half dead and then lying to me, but I'll try to find the fun, F."


"I'm waiting."

"Not sure what to say."

"Really? Then go someplace else."

Faith walked over and sat on the edge of the bed.

"I took out the Polgaras."


"'I took out the Polgaras'."

"No, we're doing that tomorrow."

"Didn't want you there, B, so I did it now."

Buffy was clearly confused:

"What do you mean? We've been training, you know my shoulder's fine. I'm back on full patrol tomorrow and even if I wasn't, you can't just take them on by yourself. Are you crazy?!"

"I handled it."

"You 'handled it'? What are you…No…Faith, don't you dare pull this."


Buffy leaned forward:

"We talked about this, how it wasn't your fault that I got hurt. I distinctly remember we both agreed on that, so what are you…"

Faith stood up:

"Can talk and agree all ya want. Truth is, if Giles and Willow hadn't shown up when they did, you coulda been killed. I distracted you and…well, it's not happenin' again."

Buffy's confusion was gone and the anger was back:

"You could have died too, Faith, then and tonight. Why don't we talk about that?"

"Look, I don't wanna die, but I'm not gonna let you…no matter what I gotta do."

Buffy sat there speechless, her expression a mixture of everything as Faith continued to look at her defiantly. When she finally found her voice, it was soft and calm, never a good thing when Buffy was mad:

"You crazy, selfish bitch."

She didn't raise her voice, but the words seemed to echo off the walls anyway.


"How can you talk to me like that? I'm the Slayer, I've been doing this for years, longer and better than anyone else ever has. I don't need you protecting me! You did the job for what – a few months before you went insane and tried to kill everyone? You even got an eight month timeout and still woke up crazy. It took a four year, all expenses paid vacation in prison to get you straightened out."


"And what was I doing, Faith, while you were taking all your little sabbaticals?  I was right here saving the world day after day, and I managed to do it all without your help, unless you want to count you so helpfully turning into one of the things I had to fight against. I also managed to die twice without any input from you whatsoever, so just who in the hell do you think you're talking to? "

"I …"

"This is my town and I've given my life in every way possible to protect it, to protect the world. That's my job, it will always be my job, and there's no one that can ever stop me from trying to do it. Yes it's dangerous, it's been that way since Day One, and it'll be that way on the last day too. I'm living on borrowed time and whatever ends up happening to me, it won't be anyone's fault. It's just my life and that's never going to change."

Faith stood there saying nothing, not that Buffy was giving her much of a chance.

"Don't you ever try to interfere with my duty again. Am I making myself absolutely clear to you?"


Buffy flung the covers back and went to stand by the window. She was so angry she could barely control herself, and when she opened the window, the wood made a cracking noise.

"Okay, so what's next, Faith? Is this your big excuse to run? Are you going to be all noble now and walk away? Should I get ready for the: 'I don't want to, Buffy, but I have to for your own good' speech? I think I should remind you I've heard that one before, and I'll be even less impressed this time around."

"Jesus Buffy, what …"

"You're treating me like I'm a damsel in distress, which is so crazy I don't even know where to start, and on top of all that crap, you're trying to prove you're not good for me."

Buffy whirled to face her, the fury practically blasting off of her.

"But the worst part, Faith? The worst part is that you're sending the message loud and clear that you think your life isn't worth anything. Do you really expect me to agree with that?"

Faith didn't answer, the answer was obvious to both of them.

"So tell me, was this the big plan all along? The 'Bad' Slayer hangs around until she can give her worthless life to save the 'Good' Slayer? Is that supposed to wipe the slate clean, wash away all your sins just like that?"


"Listen to me: we were goofing around on patrol and they caught us off guard. We both should have been more careful, next time we will be. I plan on staying alive for a long time, and I have a lot of people helping me do just that. But guess what? You're not in charge of what happens to me, you're barely in charge of yourself."

Buffy moved closer, making Faith look at her.

"You think it's okay that you don't care about what happens to you? Well it's not, Faith, it's not okay with me and it never will be. Not ever."

She got back into bed:

"Damn you for doing this. Just…just go."



Buffy woke up early the next morning, glad the long night was finally over. She felt like hell, which was what five total minutes of sleep would do for a girl. She'd almost gone down to Faith a thousand times during the night, and now in the light of the morning, she wished she had.

She was still upset, but she was also much calmer, and she'd realized soon after listening to Faith struggle down the stairs that she'd said some things she shouldn't have. At least not like she'd said them. She'd lost control because Faith's obvious disregard for her own safety had been terrifying, and Buffy had reacted with anger. She was sorry about that now.

That Faith could even think she wasn't good for Buffy and had nothing positive to offer her…It was so far from the truth that even though Buffy understood the hows and the whys, she just couldn't get her mind around it. And the fact that Faith felt like she was expendable…it was scary and it was awful, and Buffy knew they needed to deal with it just as soon as they possibly could.

She could see now that she'd made a terrible mistake in waiting to tell everyone about their relationship. By hiding their love, she'd fed right into Faith's insecurities about not being good enough, and most likely Faith had convinced herself that it was all just about the sex. She probably believed that Buffy was keeping it under wraps because she was ashamed to be involved with her.

It couldn't be helping anything that Faith knew she'd done that exact same thing with Spike. It looked bad, and Faith had to be thinking that she was just Buffy's dirty little secret. Nothing could be further from the truth, and it was so ridiculous it would have been funny if it wasn't making Buffy's stomach turn.

Well, she was all done with this. She was going to tell Faith right this minute how much she loved her. She was going to tell her that contrary to bringing nothing to their relationship, Faith brought everything Buffy had ever wanted. She was going to stop at nothing to convince Faith that she loved her, and then they were going to tell everyone else.

Decision made, step aside world because nothing was going to prevent her… Nothing except Faith, who wasn't there and had left a note in her place:

      Took off for a few,
                    F "

**Took off for a few?**

Her voice came out on the squeaky side of panic:

"Oh good, Faith'll be back in a few years. I'll just wait here. Damn it!"

She had no clue when Faith had left or where she had gone, let alone what "a few" was supposed to mean. What Buffy did know was that she was scared and about to lapse into a full blown hysteria, so she breathed in and out deeply and tried to calm herself.
**Okay, will she go to L.A.? Yes, of course she will, she feels safe there and I told her to go. I meant 'downstairs' though, not away…God…I need to call Angel so he can be on the lookout for her. It'll be great if she shows up there. He understands her and he definitely knows firsthand what a bitch I can be.**

She picked up the phone, then put it down.

**Does he know about us? I didn't tell him, did she? Probably not, but maybe he's already guessed…Well, if he hasn't, he'll deal. As much as he loves us, he'll just be happy we're finally together.**

She picked up the phone again, only to put it down…again.

**Or he'll be happy until I tell him what a mess I made last night. God, I should have just stayed calm, but no, I had to be all nasty and cutting…Why did I have to be such a bitch? Because I'm Buffy, the Idiot Slayer, and I've been doing this longer and better than anyone else ever has. I'm just amazing.**


"Hey, Queen C."


Cordelia stood up, rushing around the desk to give her a huge hug. She missed the wince, but not the flinch as she jarred Faith's ribs.

"Okay, look like road kill, much?"

"Fuck, wanna cut me a little slack, Cor?"

"You're going to need a lot more than 'a little'. Is that blood on your shirt?"

Faith grinned and wiggled her eyebrows:

"Yeah, baby, but it ain't mine."

"Stop trying to charm your way out of this. Are you okay?"

"Christ, can't a girl come home without gettin' the third degree?"

"Maybe, if she doesn't just pop up out of the blue looking like something a werewolf dragged in."

Faith laughed:

"Hard to believe I been missing you."

"Of course you have. Are you hungry?"

"Ever known me not to be?"

"Then keep me company in the kitchen while I make you something to eat."

"Sounds great, but I gotta talk to Soulboy first. He here?"

Cordelia nodded, her face concerned as she studied her friend:

"He's still up in his room. He's going to be thrilled to see you."

"Thrills all around."

"Are you going to tell me what's wrong?"

Faith dropped her backpack next to the desk.

"Later, okay? Gotta do the meet and greet first."

Cordelia hugged her again, only this time much more carefully.

"Okay, but just remember I'm not the patient type."

"Don't I know it."

The phone rang as Faith headed up the main stairs. Cordelia watched her worriedly, then turned around and reached over the counter, just managing to snag the handset on the fifth ring.

"Angel Investigations."

"Cordy…Hi, it's Buffy."

Mystery solved and Cordelia wasn't pleased:


"Uh…Is Angel there?"


"Because I need to speak with him."

"About what?"

"What's your problem, Cordelia?"

"How long do you have, Buffy?"

Buffy's sigh was audible:

"I don't have time for games, so either say it or put Angel on."

"How about I just hang up?"

"Okay, this has to be a new record. What could I have done in ten seconds to piss you off so much?"

"Two guesses."

The silence was deafening as Buffy suddenly realized what the problem was.

"She's already there?"

"Yep, looking like hell and contemplating all things 'Buffy', just the way you like it."

Buffy's voice came out louder than she intended it to:

"Would you stop with the insults and just tell me how Faith is?"

"She's great! Her clothes are covered in blood, she's in pain, and she looks sadder than I've ever seen her before, which is really saying something."

"…Could you tell her I want to talk to her?"

"I could, but I think she needs a break from basking in your golden beauty."


Buffy's voice was clearly transmitting a warning, but Cordelia didn't care.

"It's confusing, that's for sure. I mean, here she is one of the lucky ones who gets to breathe in the same air as the 'Spectacular Buffy Summers', and yet she looks nothing but miserable."

"Fuck you, Cordelia."

"No thanks. I've seen what happens to the people you fuck, and I don't feel like having my heart ripped out and stomped on any time soon."

"I didn't rip out…I'm not getting into this with you. Put Faith or Angel on the phone."

"Here's what you can't seem to grasp – Faith is worth a hundred of you in every possible way…"

Buffy started to speak, but Cordelia didn't let her:

"…and I don't give a damn if you are a Slayer. If you keep hurting her, I'm going to come there and kick your stupid Chosen Ass all over Sunnydale. Just give me the chance, Buffy. Please."

And with that, Cordelia slammed down the phone.

"Wow, both barrels, yeah?"

Cordelia whirled around:

"Faith! How long were you there?"

"Caught the whole show."

"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said any of that to her."

Faith's smiled:

"No ya shouldn't have, and for the record: it's not B's fault."

"That's your crazy interpretation of events."

"Yeah, well this time I'm tellin' it sane. Anyways, I still appreciate it. Don't get too many people goin' to bat for me, and can tell ya straight up…nobody's ever gonna swing it better than you."

Cordelia nodded:

"Well of course not, I'm Cordelia Chase. I'm the best at everything."

Faith laughed and headed for the stairs again:

"No argument here."

Cordelia turned away, only to be called back.

"Hey, Cordy?"


"You're one helluva friend."

Cordelia smiled, her eyes tearing slightly:

"I know. Now go see Angel."



Buffy sat there staring at the phone until she heard the recording telling her to hang-up.

What in the hell was Faith doing in L.A. already? What time had she left the house? Everything was all wrong. Faith should be in Sunnydale working things out, not running back to Angel and Cordelia at the first sign of trouble.

And just what had she been telling Cordelia? Did she decide to share every tiny detail of their relationship? Buffy knew Faith had probably told her very little, if anything. If she had, Cordelia would have been much more specific in her attacks. No, Faith hadn't said anything, it was just Cordelia being Cordelia, all intuitive and right, even when she was completely off base and wrong.

Buffy stood up, this had gone on long enough. All she wanted to do was tell Faith  how she felt about her, and for the first time in her life, Buffy had no doubt. She felt no confusion, no uncertainty, no fear. She knew who she was and she knew what she wanted.

She wanted Faith, and she wanted her for the rest of her life. There was no doubt about it, Faith was the one, and Buffy was ready to lay all her cards on the table. It just so happened the table was currently in L.A..




"Sure good to see you, Faith."

"Same here."

They sat quietly on Angel's bed, until Angel bumped his shoulder into hers:

"Gonna tell me what's wrong?"

"Want to."


"Yeah, but gotta tell ya somethin' first. Odds are after, you won't wanna hear the problem."

"Can't imagine that, no matter what you say."

She let out a big breath, then looked him right in the eye:

"I owe you everything."

"Faith, you don't need to…"

"Just let me say this, Angel."


"I owe you everything. You saved me, and even if I live a thousand years, I can never repay you. Want you to know that even if ya hate me after I tell you, well, if ya ever need me for anything, just gotta call. I'll come runnin' always, no questions asked."

"Faith, there's nothing you could ever say that would…"

"I'm in love with Buffy and we've been sleeping together."


"I'm sorry, Angel. I tried to fight it, but I've loved her since the second I saw her. I know it makes me a real scumbag and I…"

He grabbed her hand as she tried to leave:

"Sit back down, you don't need to leave. I already know about you guys."

She was shocked:

"…B told you?"

"Nobody told me, I've always known."

"What? What do you mean?"

"When you headed back to Sunnydale, I was hoping you two would figure things out. I guess you did."

"Yeah, but what about…"

"She's not mine, Faith. She hasn't been for a long time, and I'm okay with that. I can't give her what she needs, I never really could. That's for you to do now; it probably always was."

He smiled at her stunned expression and reached over, pulling her into a hug.

"I love you and I love Buffy. I think you're perfect for each other, and I'm nothing but relieved that you guys finally figured out how you feel."

He kissed her on the cheek and released her:

"I just want you both to be happy, and I'm convinced that'll only happen if you're together."

Faith was still way over on the stunned side:

"You mean it, Angel?"

"Faith, have I ever lied to you?"


"All right then, so what's…"

"Hold on, was that one time you told me 'Moby Dick' was exciting."

He was immediately on the defensive:

"Well, I read it about 150 years ago. I forgot about all the tips on using whale blubber."

"So just an honest mistake?"

"Swear it on my unlife."

She grinned and got more comfortable, sprawling back on the bed.

"Gonna stick with my original answer then."

His head hit the pillow right next to hers:

"Okay, so tell me what's going on."



Buffy showed up at the hotel an hour and forty-eight minutes after Cordelia had hung up on her. It was a record, and Cordelia was impressed, impressed enough to stop filing her fingernails and give Buffy her undivided attention.

She noticed two things right away. The first was that Buffy looked a little frazzled, and the second was that she also looked completely in love. Both looks had Cordelia smiling.


"Whatever. You're here now, and that's nothing but a good thing."

Buffy blew out a breath, clearly relieved that she wasn't going to have to go through Cordelia to get to Faith.

"So where is she?"

"Upstairs, talking to our resident 'Buffy' expert."


"Yeah, 'oh'. Do you want some coffee? I made bacon and eggs too."

Buffy's stomach growled in response:

"That sounds good, but I..."

"There's plenty of time, they won't be down for awhile."

"Are you sure?"

"Trust me, I've lived with both of them. I know how it goes."

"Okay then, maybe just some coffee. I'm not sure if I can actually eat."

Cordelia led her into the kitchen area:

"You should probably try, we don't need two hungry Slayers going at it."

Buffy sat down at the table, watching the surreal scene of Cordelia Chase making her a plate of eggs, bacon, and toast.

"Milk and sugar?"

"Just black, please."

Cordelia sat the plate and cup down in front of her, as well as a glass of orange juice. She got herself a cup of coffee with two sugars and a splash of milk, then slid into the seat across from Buffy:

"Dig in and let's get started."

Buffy paused, the fork loaded with eggs frozen halfway between her mouth and her plate:


"Well, I figure we might as well make the best out of getting stuck with each other."

 "Um..well, yeah…Uh…maybe we should just…um…"

"Buffy, Faith is my best friend. I love her and I know her inside and out. I also know way more about you than either of us would like, but that's just one of those things we're going to have to get used to somewhere down the line."

Buffy didn't say a word as she sat there looking across the table.

"Anyway, we're not in Sunnydale High anymore and we're not kids. We're lifelong members of the 'I Love Faith Fan Club', so let's just make up a secret handshake or a password or whatever, and move along."

Cordelia gestured at her to eat and Buffy complied with a slight smile.

"All right, what's going on and how can I help?"




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