After End Credits Rolled
Summary: It is 10 years post Chosen, Faith has been working for the PtB while the Scooby's run the ultimate Slayer training and research facility. What happens after Faith goes to Cleveland to see Buffy?? BF, WK, AD Rating: M – Adult Situations, Language
Chapter 1: Going Back
It’s a dull, steady pain, sort of like a having a toothache or getting a tattoo. It’s been with her so long, she’s forgotten what it feels like not to have it. After time it became familiar and somewhat reassuring, like an old friend. But now that slow burn that took up residence in her soul years ago is a raging inferno. So many years have past, yet the ache still weighs heavily upon her. It’s more a yearning for the life that’s always eluded her then a regret of her actions. She knows this is what her life was destined to be: on the outside looking in, taking care of business, no attachments. It’s how she survived until now, she doesn’t know if she could any other way.
‘Shit – I should have stopped at that last motel, I can’t ride anymore, and getting into an accident isn’t going to help anyone’ Faith thinks to herself. Pulling over towards a row of trees lining the road she kills the engine on the Harley. She’ll make it to Cleveland by tomorrow afternoon. The rest will do her some good considering she has no idea what she’s walking into. She takes her helmet off, places it on the seat and shakes out her raven hair. “Ken, how the hell did I let you talk me into this? Too much time has past...” she speaks into the deserted night. Taking the blanket from the bungee on the back of the bike, she lays down, hoping for some much needed sleep.
As she looks up into the autumn sky she thinks about the last time she saw them, it’s been more then ten years now. She’s only spoken to Kennedy a handful of times, the others, not at all. It was the day she saw the road of her life stretch out in front of her clearly showing two paths: to stay and finally belong in someone else’s world or to go and work out the madness her life had become. It had had to be one or the other for her, it was her defining choice. But regardless of the reasons why, she will always feel she ran away. Man did she run, as far as she could go, jumping into a multidimensional plane to really get gone. Well, that came later on, after she made the deal with the Powers that Be. While she knows she’s made a significant difference these past years, her decision weighs on her every day. That ache is her constant reminder. Only the Gods know how different her life could have been had she stayed. There’s no going back, she knows it, she’s worked for the PtB long enough to know there are always consequences when you try that sneaky mojo. But she is going back in a way, back to the people she left behind and she’s scared.
Faith settles into the blanket and tries to clear her mind. Using the tools the PtB have taught her, she calms herself, and brings a protective barrier down around her. Closing her eyes she prays for a dreamless sleep, but knows it’s no use, it will come, there’s no stopping it. Only it’s not so much a dream as a memory that’s been haunting her every night as she gets closer to them, to her.
Ok, drive fast, drive safe, gotta get everyone to LA in one piece. This is so fucked up. Wood is dead, shit; he didn’t make it two miles out of Sunnyhell. Most of the Potentials are hurt, bleeding, broken. Damn some were bitten, maybe turned; Angel is going to have to deal with that when we get to LA. We can’t have Slayer-Vamps running around, and I’m sure as hell not killing Slayers! Then that fucking Uber Vamp! Where the fuck did he come from anyway? FUCK FUCK FUCK!
“Red, how’s Dawn?”
“I stopped the bleeding and her breathing is better.” Willow put the finishing touches on Dawn’s bandage.
“How about B?”
“I think she’ll be ok, Kennedy wrapped her stomach and her Slayer-healing should kick in soon. It’s Dawn I’m worried about, I-I don’t know, I did some spells but he took such a chunk -”
“I know God damn it!”
“No one is blaming you Faith; if it wasn’t for you we would all be dead! You couldn’t have known he was under the bus, a-a-and he’s a vampire for Pete’s sake – hello - sunlight, supposed to be dust! The way they were poofing in the high school we all felt safe outside.” Willow started to cry, her nerves were officially shot. Kennedy put her arm around her trying to calm her down.
“I’m sorry Red. Eh, Willow, I’m sorry, it’s just I should have…shit, I’m sorry.”
I should have known, I should have fucking known! It just all happened at once: I’m talking to Wood, and then he kinda slumps over. I think he’s faking again, you know trying to be a flirt. I don’t have the heart to tell him he doesn’t have a chance with me, don’t want to hurt his feelings, him being wounded and all. So I play along for a sec, until I realize he’s really gone. Buffy, Dawn and Willow are still talking outside. The rest of the gang is at the back bus taking care of the injured. I’m pretty much alone, so I pick him up and take him outside; figuring now was as good a time as any for a funeral. Don’t really think anyone would want to spend the next few hours riding to LA with a dead man.
So as I’m covering him with rocks this Uber Vamp jumps out from under the bus knocking Willow down. He grabs Dawn sinking his teeth into that space between her neck and shoulder. Buffy pounces on him but she doesn’t see he has a battle axe until it’s imbedded in her stomach, lifting her up off the ground. She falls down into a clump. Sprinting towards them at full speed, I take the sword that Andrew left beside the bus and decapitate the bastard before he makes his way back to Dawn and Red. He explodes into dust but I think I’m too late, too fucking late!
Christ, so much blood, how can two people bleed so much and still be alive. But Red fixes them up real good, even does some healing spells. Me? I drive as fast as possible to LA, to Angel and the kind of help we need, the no-questions-asked kind.
They are all quiet now, some staring out the window, others trying to sleep. Most are in shock I suppose, none of them have seen this much death, let alone be the cause of it in some cases. Funny how it doesn’t even faze me, I guess I’m still fucked up, big shock there. I wonder what B would be doing now if she was awake, would she be spacing too? Not that anyone could blame her; she’s lost the most out of all of them. What a life we lead, and now these kids are going to follow our footsteps? Shit. Exiting the freeway I slow to stop at a light. Stealing a glance back towards B, I see her breathing has slowed to a normal rhythm. Somehow I know she’s going to be ok, Slayer connection I guess. Relieved, I drive on to Wolfram & Hart.
Angel just stares at me as he climbs the steps to the bus; I guess I disappointed him, great. He goes straight to Buffy, taking in her injuries then asking Willow “How did this happen?” She drags him over to Dawn. “Uber Vamp jumped us, Faith killed it, but it bit Dawn, you have to help her, I don’t know if she’s gonna make it, Angel you can’t let her die, it will kill Buffy, you just can’t let her, she’s only a kid!!” Sobbing, Willow collapses into Kennedy’s arms unable to control the stream of tears. She’s so done – I’m glad Ken is there to take care of her.
“I have the best doctors in the world, they’ll get on it now” Angel lifts Dawn and brings her out to the medical team; they take her away to another part of the complex. He doesn’t look at me, I guess he blames me, hell I blame me, take a number broody boy, there’s plenty more there before you, namely me. You know, I’m not the one who’s supposed to save the world, that’s B’s job, I’m just helping out until a better jig comes along.
Fred steps onto the bus trying to gauge the sheer number of our wounded. “Ok guys” she says calmly “the medics are right outside. If you can move under your own power, get off the bus and go into the lobby. Someone will meet you there to check you out. If you are unharmed, then Kennedy” she looks at her, Kennedy nods “and Willow will bring you over to the Hyperion Hotel and get you into a room. It’s been a crazy day for everybody so let’s all just get settled then we can talk about next steps later. I realize you don’t know us, but believe me, we’re here to help.” Fred looks around making sure everyone understands. Then she turns to me, “Faith, can you bring Buffy in?”
I pick Buffy up and carry her into W&H. She’s so light I could have carried her without Slayer-strength. She seems so small in my arms, not so much THE SLAYER right now, just B. Her arms snake around my neck as she presses her head into my shoulder. I can’t help but pull her tighter to me, wanting to protect her, soothe her. She murmurs, no words just a soft, content sound. Maybe she’ll wake up soon, but then I’ll have to tell her about Dawn, and there’s nothing good to say yet... well, hopefully she’ll sleep… I don’t know if I can go there right now. I look down at her and want to savor this feeling of closeness to her. The warmth of her against me, it’s… well, kinda nice and … comforting? Ok, I need a drink, hell lots of drinks. Maybe Loren will hook me up later.
Fred directs me to a hotel type room; I’m guessing it’s for their clients, in case they need to crash in LA for a while. She walks inside and pulls the covers down on the bed for me. “I’m going to check on Dawn. Can you wait here with her until the doctor comes? Willow did a good job with the bandages and spells so I told him to come here when he’s done with the other girls.”
I nod, and as Fred leaves Buffy stirs. “Faith? W-what happened?” her voice barely a whisper as she tries to look around. As gently as I can I lay her down.
“We’re in LA. Everyone’s fine, just a little beat up.” I figure lying’s always worked for me before, so why stop now. “Angel and Fred are taking care of everything. You just need to rest and let your healing go to work, so sleep ok?” I start to draw the covers over her.
“Where’s Dawn” she grabs my hand, her eyes boring into mine “tell me… please?” She looks so scared, so pained.
“She’s with the doctors. Angel said he’s got the best in the world, don’t worry.” I squeeze her hand, hoping to all the Gods she believes me. She peers up at me then looks away, the tears beginning to form in her eyes. I crouch down so I can be eye-level with her, “Look, B” slowly withdrawing my hand from hers I tuck a strand of hair behind her ear, “I’m not gonna let anything happen to Dawn, understand?”
The tears are flowing now, she can’t stop, can’t breathe, her chest is heaving. “She’s going to die, and it’s all my fault, I never should have let my guard down.” She looks up at me. “Don’t leave me Faith, please don’t leave me too. I can’t loose anyone else, everyone I love leaves, can’t someone stay, won’t you stay please, why does everyone leave me?” She’s barely making sense now, crying, sobbing, begging me not to go. She’s holding on to me like I’m a raft in the middle of an ocean. I calm her best I can, stroking her hair, whispering softly to her, promising I’ll stay and take care of her, Dawn, everything, everybody. I think I believe what I’m telling her, that I can do all those things. She won’t let me out of her grip so I slide onto the bed with her and gather her in my arms. As I lean back on the pillows, she buries her head into my shoulder, holding on to me as if her life depended on it. I take a deep breath, letting it out slowly, not really wanting to think about what I just said to her or this tingly feeling I suddenly have all over. So I just hold her closer to me, gently rubbing her back and lightly kissing her forehead.
My neck is hot and damp. It’s a strange feeling, almost as if I was sweaty from training or if someone – someone… I open my eyes. It’s dark, well dusk, must have nodded off for a couple of hours. The weight on me has me spooked for a second, and then I remember it’s B. Her arm is resting on my shoulder, a leg draped over mine. It’s reassuring, waking up like this, something I’m not really used to, but it feels kinda right to have her sleeping in my arms. I glance at her then stare out the window thinking I better get a handle on these feelings fast. Where is this coming from? And why now, for Christ’s sake? Buffy murmurs, her forehead creases, then she’s breathing deep and heavy again. She said she loved me before, but she couldn’t really mean it, she was freaking out, right? But in the school basement, when she was run through by that vamp, something happened when she looked at me. I don’t know it’s like we had a moment. Shit, I’m probably just reading into it, B doesn’t swing that way.
“Hey” she says, breaking my chain of thoughts.
“Hey yourself” I look down to her.
“You stayed with me.” She says in amazement, not quite a statement, almost a question.
Before I can say anything else she leans up and kisses me. It’s gentle, soft. At first I don’t respond, thinking it’s a friendly kiss, you know thank you and all that. But then, she doesn’t pull away, neither do I. As if it’s license to continue, her hand slides behind my neck; sealing her mouth to mine. Ok, this has nothing to do with friendship. She drags her nails across the back of my scalp as I deepen the kiss. Our tongues explore each other’s mouths as I crush her to me. I’m lost, hardly believing this is happening, not ever wanting it to end. I’ve never felt like this before, my heart is pounding, nerves on fire, it’s electric as we touch. My mind is too overwhelmed to keep a rational thought in my head, so I don’t. The floodgates are now open, blind desire has taken over. Realizing how much I want her, need to have her, my hands travel over her back, hair, face, I can’t get enough. I feel the same longing in her, building at a furious pace. Needing to feel the length of her body against mine, I drag her on top of me, my lips never leaving hers. She groans into my mouth as her bandages rub against my belt. It jolts me back to reality in an instant.
“My God…” she gasps as I pull away. She rolls on her back, eyes closed, chest heaving.
“Are you hurt?” I manage, trying to catch my breath. Shit, can’t believe I fucked this up, I am such an idiot. Scared, I lean over her and lift the bottom of her shirt, tentatively touching her bandages, to check for bleeding. It looks ok I guess.
“I’m ok.” She opens her eyes and watches me while she gets her breath under control. I’m still inspecting her dressings when she lifts my face to hers. She rubs her thumb against my cheek, looking at me intently, “Hey, I’m alright.”
Fred comes bounding into the room with a wheelchair just as I’m leaning down to kiss her again. “Great news guys, Dawn is finally stable and … whoa, I-I-I’m really sorry, I didn’t…” She looks from me to B then back to me. The question is in her eyes, but she’s silent.
I move away from B and slide to my feet. “Relax Fred. How is she?” trying to be casual.
“Eh, s-she’s stable. Angel wants to know if Buffy is ok to come down and talk, the doctors have a few options.” Blushing, she finally looks at B “Do you think you can?”
“Sure” she squeaks, her blush is starting to rival Fred’s.
I’m thinking we all need a minute to get it together. “We’ll be down in a little bit, ok?” I take the chair from her.
“Great, Post Op is on the third floor.” Fred scurries out. She couldn’t have left any faster.
Still trying to calm down from that kiss, the feeling of her next to me, I joke with her, “What do you say we take this thing for a test drive?”
“Ok, but, help? I don’t know if I can stand up yet.” B looks at me.
“You bet” I lean over to pick her up. Her eyes never leave mine as she wraps her arms around my neck. Sliding my arms under her back and legs I scoop her up. I can’t help but to lean into her, wanting her lips on mine again. God my whole body is on fire, ok, before was so not a fluke. Slowly I pull away to look at her and see she’s as lost as I am. “Buffy...”
Her fingers trail down the side of my face, stopping at my lips. “We should get downstairs.”
OUTSIDE POST OP
“So, you and Buffy hooked up?”
“What?” I growl at Kennedy. Not only am I stuck sitting in the hallway, since Buffy, Red, Giles, Xander, Angel and Fred – what is that half the universe - are all with the doctors, but now I have to have this ridiculous conversation? Jeeze, my life is so hard.
“Shit, Faith, she was holding your hand as you were wheeling her down the hall. Then she almost had a cow when Angel didn’t let you come in with them and the doctors. Have you seen the way she looks at you girl? What gives?”
You know, Kennedy is ok. People give her a lot of shit cause she’s opinionated and well, mostly because she’s not Tara. Now I never knew Tara but I know it’s not right to compare, especially when someone dies such a tragic death, who can compete? But I know I like a girl who speaks her mind and is a straight shooter. I guess I like her cause she kinda reminds me of me when I was younger, vain I know. But it also makes it easier for me to really level with her. I let her in on what happened and she doesn’t seem fazed. She tells me her and Red were waiting for this to happen.
“I swear. Willow and I were talking about it after she brought you back from LA.” Ken looks up at me narrowing her eyes, “You realize Buffy’s in love with you, right?”
“Whoa, backup, who’s mentioning the ‘L’ word? It’s not like there’s some wicked romance going on here. It was just a kiss.” Ken smirks at me, raising her eyebrows. “Ok, it was two really, really hot kisses.”
“She does, Faith, and you know it. You can see it anytime you two are together. You’re harder to read, but I think you feel the same. Now Willow, she’s not so sure. Personally, I think Will is still a little leery of you from the old days, she’ll get over it.” We laugh for this first time that day.
“Do you love her?”
“Well, I- I...”
“I’m only asking because she’s real close to the edge, Faith. She needs someone to help bring her back, someone she can really count on. She needs someone who understands her, who understands what we do and how that fucks with our heads. I know Will is going through some stuff too, she’s got a lot of things she still needs to sort out, but I’m trying to help her however I can.”
“Oh, yeah, and how is that working out for you guys?” I give her my best leer.
“Faith, I’m serious.” Ken gives me a playful shove.
What she said suddenly hits me like a sledgehammer. “Look Ken, I don’t know if I can handle this kind of responsibility. I mean what if I can’t bring her back? What if I can’t make her whole? What if I fail? Look at my track record, Angel trusted me and now he won’t even look at me. Look at those potentials I killed, see where it got them? People always expect me to fail, so if I do no big, if I succeed then fab, you know? But what if she’s depending on me and I let her down? I don’t think I could handle that.” I sit down, running my hands through my hair.
“Are you done?” Kennedy sits down next to me. “Cause it sounds to me like you’re fishing for excuses not to hang around and find out answers to any of those questions.”
First, I’m pissed, like homicidally pissed off. Then I realize, she’s right, I am looking for a reason to leave. I’m not ready for this and she knows it, hell, they all probably know it. Wait, that’s why they didn’t want me in with B, that’s why I’m having this talk with Ken. Fred told them something was up. And now that Dawn is going to be fine they want me gone, out of her life before I ruin what’s left of it. They’re protecting B - from me, damn it. Kennedy just sits and waits for me to figure it all out.
“So, they put you up to this?” I ask leaning back in the chair, crossing my arms.
“Nah, I volunteered. I like you, we connect, you know.” I nod, returning the high five. “And as much as Buffy annoys me sometimes, I think you two together are right somehow, can’t explain, just the way I feel. But there’s some heavy stuff going on with you, we all see it and they’ll do anything to protect her. So tell me, what’s the real deal?”
“Can you be honest with yourself when it comes to her?”
Sighing, I start, “I’m scared. Look, Ken, I know there’s something going on between us. Hell, been going on almost from the beginning, I’m not a complete moron. It’s real and it’s powerful, but I’m scared I’m going to fuck it up cause I’m not ready. I’m just starting to be ok with some of the things I’ve done the past few years. Shit, Ken, she stabbed me and I’m in love with her. I haven’t even begun to deal with how fucked that is.” Restless, I get up and go to the window, shake out my hair then come back and sit again.
“Go on” Kennedy encouraged.
“In some way I know I’ll be ok with it, all of it, I’m just not there yet. I don’t want to hurt her; I’ll do anything not to, even if it means never starting anything. I know it sounds stupid and like I’m fishing for excuses, but I’m not. I couldn’t stand it if I brought any more pain into her life, she’s had enough. You said it yourself, she’s on the brink and I refuse to be the cause of her losing it. I gotta work this out, and I don’t feel I can do it here with her. I feel like I have to do this on my own, away from everybody else. It’s like I know I won’t figure this all out unless I’m alone.” I stop for a moment, taking a deep breath, allowing Ken’s eyes to meet mine, “Thanks for getting me to see all this on my own. I guess I knew all along and just needed a push to spew it out.”
Looking at her, I slowly stand up, she does the same. She holds out her hand. I shake it. Somehow I managed to find a real friend in this mess. I’m grateful for it.
“Guess the Scoobys will be happy” I sneer.
“Fuck’em. Work this shit out and come back soon. You two were made for each other.”
“Yeah and how did you get to be so wise?”
“We’ll talk about it when you come back.”
“You bet, see ya Ken.” I turn away, right into B.
Well, B and the rest of the gang. How long have they been there? Feeling all those eyes on me I go for light: “Heya, B, so how’s Dawn doing?”
“She’ll be ok.” She looks warily at me and Kennedy then comes closer, knowing something’s going on, “Where are you going? And why are the Scoobys going to be happy?” ok - she definitely heard some of it.
“I just wanted to make sure you and Dawn were ok before I head out to see the PtB. They want to offer me a deal now that I’m out of prison, so I figure I’d go and see what they had in mind while I’m still in one piece.”
“You’re leaving?” she looked confused, “But I thought you…”
“Thought I what, B?” I cut her off - trying to sound flippant, like she doesn’t mean everything to me.
I glance over to Ken walking to the window, distancing herself from the Scoobys, from the look she’s getting from Red, I’m sure she’ll get an earful later. She places her hands on either side of the frame and looks out on the LA skyline. The others just watch back and forth from B to me. They know what I’m doing, but they’re scared I won’t leave, fucking self-righteous bastards. They have no clue what I feel.
I turn back to B, she’s looking at me, at first incredulous, then sad. “Nothing” tears are beginning to form, she bows her head then continues softly, “Thanks for making sure Dawn and I were ok, it means a lot to me.” She looks up at me while gently touching my hand. “Please be careful.” She wheels herself down the hall.
I can’t speak. My heart is breaking, that look in her eyes. I want to go to her, hold her, comfort her, but I know this is the right thing to do. It sure as hell doesn’t feel like it now, but I’m convinced it is for both of us.
“But you promised you wouldn’t leave; you said you’d take care of me and Dawn.” Buffy says it very low, thinking only I can hear; she forgot Kennedy is a Slayer now too. Ken snaps her head around to me; yeah I didn’t tell her that part. Her eyes lock onto mine, asking me to work this out with B, here and now, I hold her gaze for a moment, then leave.
NO ONE’S POV
It’s about 3:30 when she exits I-71 North at Denison Avenue. She pulls over to look around and then at Kennedy’s directions. ‘Nice neighborhood’ she thinks to herself as she comes to Franklin Boulevard. Parking the bike between two snazzy cars, she takes off her helmet and shakes out her hair.
A pretty brunette with her hair tied back in a ponytail rises from her chair. “Sure took you long enough.” Kennedy says from the front porch.
Hopping off the bike she makes her way up the steps. She stops in front of Ken for a moment then engulfs her in a bone crushing slayer hug. “God, it’s good to see you!”
“Jeeze, you’re squishing me, aggg, what the hell, did the PtB like double your strength?”
“Something like that,” Faith breaks away to look at her again, “it’s just good to see you.”
“Yeah, yeah, you don’t call, don’t write...” Ken gives her a wry smile, “I told you to work it out and come back soon. Ten years is a long fucking time.”
“Yeah, well, some shit happened along the way.”
“Tell me later. Come on inside, I told the gang you were coming. Everyone’s here except Buffy, she’ll be back tomorrow.”
“The gang? Leading the lamb to the slaughter so soon. Damn, don’t I get a last meal or something?”
“Who’s the lamb? You? Right! Look, it’s cool; they’re all excited to see you. Come on, the SiT’s are in academics now” she pointed across to the house next door “so we have a couple of hours before they come back here like hungry bears.”
“So tell me how this all works” Faith asks as they walk in.
“The girls usually do academics in the morning and Slayer training in the afternoon. I convinced Willow to switch it for today so we can have a chance to talk.”
“How is Red?”
“Be careful, I’m right behind you.” Willow warns as she walks in the front door behind them. They both turn around. “Faith” she wraps her in a hug “you know I never got a chance to thank you for saving my life.” Willow can feel the waves of power rolling off her. Stepping back, she looks at Faith for a moment, letting her know she feels it but won’t ask her about it, yet.
“I wish I could have done more.” Faith nods a silent ‘thank you’.
“You did plenty, at least from my and Dawn’s stand point.” Will nods back.
She slowly appraises the redhead; she certainly has grown into quite the Wicca. She has a quiet confidence about her and an almost ethereal beauty “You look great, Red. I guess Ken really has been taking good care of you.”
“Yes she has.” She smiles at Ken then looks back to Faith. “So how are you? What have you been doing? Are you staying? Where are you staying? Ok, too many questions?”
Faith laughed, “Damn, some things never change. I've been traveling mostly, helping where I can. I’m still figuring out what I’m going to do, that’s why I’m here. But tell me what you guys have done with this ‘Slayer School’.”
“Come and sit, I’ll give you the ‘Reader’s Digest’ version.” Will brings them into the living room. “Once Dawn was well enough to travel we all came here and started setting up the school. Giles got his teaching credentials so the girls could have it all under one roof, academics and Slayer training. We all went back to school to finish our degrees. Then we lost Angel and the LA team, then Xander disappeared. One day he just left and no one’s heard from him since.” Red was silent for a moment before collecting herself and continuing. “It was hard for a while but once we got our bachelors degrees, we started taking over classes from Giles. When I finished my masters Giles went back to England. He finally married his old girlfriend Olivia about 5-6 years ago?” She looked to Ken for confirmation, who nodded.
“So while all of us were teaching Buffy continued on to get her doctorate in Psychology. She’s a Psychologist now.” Willow said obviously very proud of her.
Faith turns to Ken raising her eyebrows.
“Hey, when you checked in, you just asked if everyone was ok. You didn’t ask for a full report.”
Willow continued “She still does some of the Slayer training when she’s here but mostly that’s up to Kennedy. Mostly she is traveling around bringing in wayward Slayers; girls who’ve been jailed or institutionalized because of their powers.”
“Dr. B?” Faith shakes her head “Don’t know if I can get used to that.”
“She’s very good with them.” Willow remarks defensively.
“I’m certain she is, Red, didn’t mean anything by it.”
“That’s where she is now actually, South Africa. She’s picking up a girl who’s been confined to a mental institution since she was 10, she’s 15 now.”
“Jesus, the poor kid.” Faith commiserates.
“Oh... my... God!” Dawn came running in the room with Andrew trailing not far behind. “Faith!” She is greeted with a hug that nearly knocks her off her feet. “I can’t believe you’re back, you are back, right? This is fantastic! Buffy is going to be so psyched!”
The five of them have dinner together then migrate back to the living room afterwards talking about old times. Andrew and Dawn looked very comfortable next to each other on the couch; Faith thinks there might be something going on there and reminds herself to ask Ken tomorrow. Willow and Ken are sitting on the other couch with Faith leaning on the arm next to Ken.
As Andrew starts to go off on some tangent regarding Giles and Olivia’s wedding, Faith begins to feel Buffy presence. Ken said she was going to be home tomorrow, but Faith could feel her on the road here right now, she could sense it. Guess it’s best to just get it over with, she thinks to herself as she allows herself to savor the feeling of her drawing nearer.
“How were you able to afford this place? Are you charging the parents of the SiT’s tuition?” Faith knew none of them or their families had the kind of money to buy houses like these or to live as comfortably as they are. Well, Ken’s family was super rich, but Faith doubted they would be footing this bill.
“Did you forget my girl’s first Scooby job was hacker?” Ken teases Faith.
“I don’t get it.” Faith was confused.
Shaking her head, Willow continues, “Well, when we got here, we were once again on a hell mouth, but this time we had no Council to back us up. So I got to exploring their bank accounts. And since everybody except for Giles and a few others were killed, we decided to make good use of the funds.” Willow was quite pleased with herself.
“You hacked into the Councils accounts and stole their money?” Faith was shocked. “Dude, good thing I didn’t know about your talents when I was on the dark side.”
“Well, it was just sitting there. It’s not like we really stole it. We are using it to combat evil and help people.”
“Preaching to the choir, Red.”
“There is something else though” Kennedy interjected. “Buffy told Will to set all of us up with a private account as well. Buffy asked me to manage yours until you got back,” Ken looks up at her while patting her leg, “she knew you were coming back.”
Ignoring that last part from Ken, Faith asks Willow, “Wait, you’re telling me you funneled some of the Council’s money into private accounts for each of us and you are all ok with this?”
Ken looks at her as if she’s crazy, “Think of it like a salary. We basically took what Giles was being paid then made it retroactive from when we started. So for the original Scoobys, seven years went into the accounts off the bat, me and Andrew here got 1 year and so it went for everyone. Then we bought the two houses and fixed up the facilities, then we’ve been paying ourselves and paying for traveling. It all adds up you know. Any way, it’s all just a drop in the bucket, because we can’t even spend enough in a month for the interest not to cover.”
“Wow.” Faith was pretty much blown away.
“You have no idea how much money the Council has. We really can’t even make a dent.” Willow concurs.
Kennedy patted Faith’s leg again, “We’ll stop by the bank in the morning and get you all sorted out. Then we’ll come back here and go over all the paperwork that’s piled up over the years.”
“Look. I’m no math major, school never was my bag, but that is some serious cash. There’s no way I can accept it.”
Willow shakes her head, “It’s not about accepting Faith, it’s yours. They’re your accounts, your name, and your Social Security number. If you don’t claim it, it will just sit there like it has been for the last 10 year, collecting interest.” Willow pauses for a moment then plows ahead. “Look Faith, we all talked last night and we want you to think about staying on here. We’re sure Buffy would welcome the help.”
“Guys, this is a lot to handle at once.” Faith is really feeling overwhelmed.
Faith’s words had just finished leaving her mouth when they hear the front door close and something drop.
“You don’t have to make up your mind now, just promise you’ll think about it?”
Not ready to answer, Faith closes her eyes for a moment, letting Willow’s words sink in while she basks in the unmistakable feeling of Buffy’s presence.