The thing Faith doesn't get—
Okay, she's good at this game, right? Doesn't get a lot of things, didn't graduate high school, can't read fancy spells or Latin or what the fuck ever. She's gotta work at the white hat thing that comes so easy to B and the rest of her gang ('cept maybe Willow, and yeah, the witch is kinda hot and also let Faith sack out in her bed one night, but Faith wouldn't go near Willow's problems with a ten-foot pike).
She also doesn't understand: Magic. Not owning your own fuck-ups. Why B can't go easy on herself, why B's cheekbones are more prominent every week, why B misses a pisshole like Sunnydale. Anal fisting (she digs anal, but anything more than a couple of fingers up there seems unnecessary). Hope. Mustard on a hot dog. Why B loves Dawn. Why Xander loved Anya. Loss.
Old Faith would've gotten angry, would've raged or put her fist through a wall or a knife through some poor dude's heart. New Faith, the Faith that sat on her ass in prison for three years, that Faith goes off and buys Twinkies for all the kiddie Slayers. Xander and Buffy are holed up together, fucking or crying or, shit, getting high, and Willow is sorting out room keys and credit card bills. Faith, who sucks at confronting grief and has never used a credit card that wasn't stolen, figures that they're all gonna get low blood sugar and pass out. With their luck, that'll be when the receptionist decides to summon a demon in the lobby.
She has six bucks in her pocket, so: Twinkies.
She gets back to the hotel, dumps the box out in Willow's room. Twinkies taste like crap, but they tasted like crap before Sunnydale was a hole in the ground and they'll still taste like crap tomorrow.
She should check on Robin. Instead, she spends the night on the floor outside B's door, standing guard. Or something.
Six months later, she runs into B in Chicago. Tried Ohio for a while; it wasn't great, it didn't work out. Too many faces shining for Hope and Honor and The Cause. Faith, she's practical. She was put on this planet to kill evil shit, so the least she can do is kill the shit that is evil and try not to end up evil herself.
(Robin said there'd always be other people between them. Faith doesn't understand what the hell he meant, but she knows a brush-off when she hears one.)
So she's got her motorcycle, a bag of stakes, a sword, a bow. The bikers give her wicked looks and treat her like a queen any time she stops at a roadhouse. How'd you get that scar, they ask, and ever been out west. And Faith tells them the truth or a fantastic lie, and she says, not lately.
Chicago. In a park. Of all the places in all the worlds.
B disappeared weeks ago, weeks and weeks. Watcher-man said she needed some time, and Faith wondered—not that she cared, B saved the world and she was entitled to do whatever the fuck she wanted—that day Faith wondered if she'd gone back to L.A., to Angel and his crusade. Then night, before she fell asleep, she wondered if B didn't just fade away, like some princess in a fairy tale. Nobody ever told Faith fairy tales, but she liked them for the same reason she liked Superman and documentaries about the ocean. They were completely unreal, they let you blow off a little steam. They gave you an outlet for the crazy. An hour later, switch off the TV, pop your back, there you are. They let you turn away and look the world square in the eye and say, I'm not running.
All Faith has done in her life is run away, but sometimes she draws a line, right? Angel's the line. Turning herself in, that's the line. Fighting the First—the line.
Chicago is the line.
She has a little tequila in her, a little bump and grind, a little jazz and liquor. It should be cold out; Faith's in leather pants and a top that covers her tits and not much else, but she's high from slaying a couple of vamps and the sweat drying on her skin feels good. She feels good. Nails another vamp down an alley, hops the line at some club and dances until her feet feel numb, goes back out to hunt again. It's past three when she comes across B in a park. Just—turns around and there the Slayer is, sitting on a bench.
"Hi, Faith," B says.
"Hi, Buffy," Faith answers.
"That's new from you," B says. Her hair looks gold in the shadows, her coat only a shade lighter.
"Yeah," Faith says, and thinks, lionheart.
She sits next to B. Looks at the stake in her hand, the stake she's gripping so tight it splinters and digs into her palm. Tries to remember where she parked her bike.
"Been a while," B says.
"Yeah," says Faith. And then—"Why'd you leave?"
B shrugs. "It seemed like the thing to do."
"Yeah," B decides. "Dawn likes it here. Not so much with the weather, but she has friends. She's talking about college."
"You leave for her?" Faith says, without looking at B.
"I left for me."
Faith looks at her hands again. Thinks about how far she's come, how far she's had to go. How much B deserves her break.
"And because," B says, in a quiet voice, "I mean, it's—when even you wouldn't look at me, I figured it was time to make with the going, you know?"
Now Faith does turn. "I didn't not look at you because I wanted you to leave," she says.
"No," Faith says, and leans forward, and kisses B. Not dirty, nothing to scare her off, but enough to be clear.
When she pulls away, B says again, "Oh."
"I know," Faith says, expecting B to split and run, knowing that she will. Faith is pulling herself out of the pit by the bootstraps and B can't fall fast enough to meet her. Good Girls Don't, and Faith, she tries, right? And most of the time trying is five by five, most of the time knowing she killed two monsters to the one decent human she popped in the jaw is plenty to let her sleep at night. Here and now and with the best, better doesn't make the cut.
Except B says, "You kiss with tongue?"
Huh, Faith thinks, and the smile that curls across her lips is wholly involuntary.
"Do I ever, slayer-girl," she says, and because she's a little drunk, adds, "but no anal fisting."
Discovering that B can still blush? That's five by five, too.