Faith woke early the next morning, looking ar0und the small apartment and groaning softly under her breath as he head pounded fiercely. She only vaguely remembered the night before, having left the house after the talk with Buffy and the brief talk she'd had with Xander. She grabbed her jacket and took off without a word, wandering the streets until she found a small club that was packed for a Wednesday night. She remembered standing at the bar for all of five minutes before a young couple joined her for drinks. One thing led to another and several drinks later, they ended up at the couple's apartment just down the street.
Even now, with the haze of the alcohol still lingering, she couldn't remember their names. She moved from the bed slowly, quietly, and picked up her clothes from the floor. Her body ached in more than just one way, in good ways and in bad. Old habits die hard. She shrugged as she quickly pulled on her clothes and walked out of the apartment before the couple on the bed she'd spent the night with woke up. The morning air was chilly as she stepped out of the building a few minutes later and it took her a couple minutes just to figure out which direction to start walking.
She wasn't too pleased with herself, especially not after having what she almost had with Robin for that short time she had been with him. It was more than anything she'd ever had before and she knew if he hadn't died, things would have gone a lot differently once they had all arrived there in Cleveland. How different it would have actually been, though, she wasn't so sure. Despite the promises Robin did make her, she wasn't sure she'd have stayed with him for more than a couple of weeks before she was bored and moved onto the next conquest.
It was more than just getting bored; she was scared of any kind of commitment and attachment. It was one of those things that made her skin crawl, made her remember the things her mother used to say to her years back, things that made her believe for so long that she was not worthy to be loved by anybody. Those things her mother had said to her, along with the way her mother just was, had shaped her into who she was here and now. It was especially in this moment when she couldn't even bear to look at herself in the reflection of the store windows she passed without feeling that twisted knot in her stomach.
She shook those thoughts from her mind, not liking the place they took her. It took her deep into the darkness that she was fully determined to conquer once and for all. Once she got most of those thoughts out, along with the thoughts of feeling like she'd betrayed someone besides herself with what she'd just done, she focused on the feeling, that buzz she felt only with Buffy, and let it lead her home.
Home. It felt weird to think it, yet at the same time it just felt right just to know that for once she did have a home; she had a room, a place of her own, and she had people that actually wanted her around now. She walked around to the side door of the house, hoping it'd be unlocked, and turned the handle, sighing out softly in relief when the door opened.
"Good morning," Giles said softly as Faith closed the door behind her. "Late night?"
"Yeah," she shrugged as she slipped off her jacket and draped it over one of the chairs at the kitchen table. "Just had to get out for the night."
"I know you are not a child and do not need to have permission to go out. However, I would appreciate it if you let me know where you are going, especially at night."
"I am not trying to..."
"I get it, Giles."
"We have no idea what this city is like yet, Faith. We have yet to locate the Hellmouth and find out what has been going on and until that happens we all have to stick close to one another. Is that too much to ask?"
"No," she replied as she walked over to the fridge and pulled out a bottle of water. "Like I said, sorry and all. I just had to get out of here last night."
"Dare I even ask where you went off to?"
She just smirked as she raised the bottle to her lips and took a sip. She left Giles standing there in the kitchen with a look that crossed between disbelief and disappointment. She knew that look. Her conscience was giving the same look, only this time she wasn't ignoring it like she always had. Part of her redemption was accepting who she used to be, who she was now, and looking forward to who she could become once she got over everything that held her back.
Everyone was already awake and carting down armfuls of books from the rooms upstairs into the living room. Faith took one look at Willow and Andrew as they sorted the books on the floor before she headed up the stairs to her room. The door was wide open and Xander was inside, handing the books from the large bookshelf to Buffy, who placed them into the small boxes on the floor next to her. Faith stood in the doorway for a moment with a bemused look on her face before either of them noticed her standing there. Buffy barely even looked at her as she bent down to pick up the box and walked out of the room.
"What's up with her?" Faith asked as she walked in and sat down on the edge of the bed.
"I have no idea," Xander shrugged. "Been out all night, have you?"
"Sure have. You got a problem with that? Cos I've already had to deal with Giles downstairs."
"No, no problem, just asking is all," he replied, offering her a friendly smile as she pulled off her boots. "Should have everything out in no time. The bookcases aren't attached to the walls from what I can tell so we're just going to carry them downstairs, set them up, and..."
"Xander, I don't care. Just do what you gotta do and do it fast."
"It would get done a lot faster if you helped," he muttered under his breath, faint yet loud enough for her to hear him clearly. She shot him a look that he let slide as he motioned to the box on the floor next to the bed. "I'm just saying, you know, it would be faster and you'll be able to sleep the whole day away."
Faith groaned loudly as she got up from the bed and helped him with the rest of the books on the shelves. Four trips later, she was helping Kennedy carry the heavy, solid wood bookcases down the stairs, both of them ignoring Giles and Buffy as they told them repeatedly to watch out for the walls. She bit back the snide remarks she wanted to make that if they didn't like it then they should do it themselves. She was tired from the long, restless night she'd had, hungry since she hadn't eaten anything since the day before, and thirsty since the house was hot and nobody had bothered to open a single window to let in some fresh air.
Five hours and several long breaks later, the last of the bookshelves were taken from the rooms upstairs and lined up against the only wall without any windows. The living room looked like a library and it made them all laugh as a sense of déjà vu washed over them all. Even as exhausted as Faith was, she stayed down there in the living room, sipping a cold beer Xander had gotten for her as she sat there with Kennedy on the couch and watched the others try to reorganize the books before they started putting them away.
"This isn't how you thought we'd spend our first day here, is it?" Kennedy asked quietly as they both sat on the couch, slouched down about the same height with their feet propped up on the worn wooden coffee table. "I sure thought we'd be able to sleep all day, wake up for dinner, patrol or whatever, sleep and repeat."
"Missing something in there, Ken."
"Sex?" Kennedy chuckled softly. "Falls into the category of `or whatever'. Keep up."
Their laughter drew a look from Buffy, a look Faith couldn't quite figure out. She looked annoyed and amused at the same time. A little bit of confusion flickered in her eyes before she went back to helping the others put the books away. Faith finished off her beer and stood up slowly as she reached for Kennedy's empty bottle. She headed for the kitchen with Buffy following close behind.
"Were you out all night?"
"Yeah, and? You got a problem with that too?"
"No," Buffy replied, looking taken back at the snide tone of Faith's voice. "Where'd you go?"
"Out. Found a club, drank a little, danced a little," she replied coldly as she took two beers out of the fridge. "What do you care anyway?"
"I was just asking you a question."
"It's never just a question with you, though, is it?" Faith asked as she set one bottle down on the counter and opened the other. "Sorry about reacting like this, B. I'm not so good at the talking deal when I'm not in the mood."
"Its fine," Buffy said quickly as she smiled over at her. "I understand. I just thought it'd be nice to try and..."
"Can I be honest with ya for a sec?" Faith asked as she turned to face Buffy. "After all we've been through together and the shit that happened, I really don't know how to talk to you, or what to even talk about with you."
"Am I really that hard to talk to?"
"Oh. Can't we just start over, Faith?"
Faith shrugged as she took a sip of her beer, not knowing if it was even possible for the two of them to start over. There was just too much to work through and they couldn't just forget everything, drop it and move on, could they? It felt like a cop-out to Faith. She knew they had to work through their past in order to move forward now. If they couldn't move past it, they'd forever be stuck in the vicious cycle, never friends, not quite enemies, just there.
"How?" Faith asked softly, their eyes meeting gradually after a few long moments of heavy silence between them. "How can we start over?"
"I really don't know. I just...I don't want it to be like before."
"Neither do I."
"I think we should start by trying to be friends," Buffy said quietly as she played with the hem of her shirt, her eyes falling away from Faith's intense gaze. "I know we've already started, but..."
"But what, B?"
"It's a lot harder than I thought it'd be."
"Yeah, it is. Ever wonder why that is?"
"Seriously?" Faith asked, doubting that Buffy ever thought of the reasons why it was so hard for them to just be friends. "You know what I think? I think we're too different and at the same time we're too much alike. We can't find a common ground cos there is no common ground between us."
"I think you are wrong," Buffy replied as she looked back up at her. "There is a common ground."
"What is it then?"
"Uh," she laughed as she shrugged her shoulders a little. "Slaying?"
"That's all you can come up with? Our common ground is slaying?"
"Well, it's a start, Faith."
"Couldn't think of anything else, could ya?"
"No," she said softly, almost sadly, as she looked deep into Faith's eyes, the gaze lingering for a second too long, that one second more than what would constitute just a friendly look. It got the wheels in Faith's head rolling and she had to put a stop to them. "We'll work on that, though, won't we?"
"We were doing pretty good on the drive here," Buffy said as she walked over to the fridge and pulled out a beer for herself. "We should probably just lay it out on the line and make a list of things not to talk about."
"There has to be a list?" Faith asked, raising an eyebrow as she tried not to laugh. "Could be a pretty damn long list, B."
"I know. So," she sighed as she leaned against the counter next to her, "no talking about Angel, Robin, prison, uh..."
"Spike?" Faith offered, not knowing what else to add to that list of Buffy's things not to talk about.
"Yeah. Oh, and I don't want to hear about your...sexual encounters. Kind of wigs me out a little."
"Anything else? Cos I'm thinking this is a pretty short list."
"Uh," Buffy shrugged as she looked over at her. "We definitely talk about things that happened before, but not all at once. I just want you to know that...I don't...hate you."
"Yeah, I picked up on that already."
"I never did," Buffy said softly as she looked away, her eyes finding a spot on the floor to stare at as she picked aimlessly at the label on the bottle in her hands. "No matter what we did to each other before, Faith. I never hated you. I tried to, believe me I did. Hate is such a strong emotion and I don't think I could ever truly hate you when I..."
"When you what?"
"Nothing. Forget about it."
"Forgotten already," Faith winked as she picked up the beer from the counter and headed for the kitchen door.
The others were still putting the books away as she handed Kennedy her beer and sat down on the couch next to her. The only sounds in the room were that of Giles instructing the others where to put certain books and the odd groan of annoyance when one of them didn't listen to him. Dawn gave up and joined the two of them on the couch, muttering complaints under her breath over how she thought Giles was being too demanding, too meticulous of the order the books would be kept in.
Everyone was bored out of their minds. It was evident as the silence grew heavy in the room. Faith just clicked her tongue against the roof of her mouth as she got up and headed for the kitchen to grab her jacket. Buffy was still in there, still leaning against the counter where she'd left her before. She looked so lost, so deep in her own thoughts she barely even glanced at Faith as she grabbed her jacket and headed for the side door. But Faith then felt Buffy's eyes on her as she opened the door to step out and she left the door open, knowing Buffy would follow.
They didn't say anything as Faith walked around to the backyard and sat down at the small picnic table just under the only tree back there, an elm, or at least that's what she thought it was. Buffy sat across from her, still picking at the label on the bottle as their eyes met in one of those intense gazes that made Faith feel uneasy and a whole mess of other emotions she just didn't dare think about. They were dangerous. She'd had them before, years ago when she'd first came to Sunnydale and met Buffy, and those feelings had caused nothing but trouble for her.
There was no denying that she was attracted to Buffy. Even at their lowest point that attraction had never diminished, it only got set on the back burner, stored away for another time, another place. Nobody knew how she felt, not even Angel, and she was going to keep it that way. Nothing good could come of her deep attraction to Buffy and it wasn't as if those feelings would ever be returned in the same way. She wasn't going to set herself up with the false hope of ever having something more than friendship with Buffy. She was over setting herself up for a fall and she'd vowed over and over again in the last couple of years that she'd never do it again. That she'd never let her feelings for Buffy consume her, drive her beyond the areas she was comfortable staying in.
Flashes of the night before came back to her and she could do nothing to quell it. Too exhausted, too deliciously sore to fight it. What she'd done the night before was the one thing she was used to. It felt routine just to go to the bar and strike up a friendly, flirty conversation with the best looking couple in the entire club. She'd never been with a couple before, but it wasn't as if it'd never crossed her mind. But even now she knew she didn't enjoy it, she didn't want to admit she loved that dull ache between her legs after a night of hot, wild sex with complete strangers she'd probably never see again. She took a long drag of her cigarette and closed her eyes, trying to forget, trying to erase those faded images of the night before, and trying not to fill in the blanks where everything was one big blur.
"Do you want another beer?" Buffy asked softly when Faith downed the rest of her beer, trying to shake her thoughts from her head. "Faith?"
"A beer, do you want me to go grab you another one?"
"You finished that one," Buffy pointed out. "Just thought you might want to sit out here with me for awhile, have a couple of beers, and maybe talk to someone else other than the voices in your head."
"Didn't take you as much of a drinker."
"I'm not, but..." Buffy sighed out as she stood up and reached for Faith's empty bottle. "I find it is almost relaxing, that is until there's been one too many and we end up..."
"End up what?"
"Come on, B. Tell me," Faith teased, hoping to get it out of her. "Until we end up doing what?"
Buffy shook her head and walked back to the house quickly, leaving Faith sitting there with her mouth dropped open slightly and the wheels in her head turning furiously as she tried to figure out what Buffy had been trying to say to her. When Buffy finally came back out, she wasn't alone. Xander, Kennedy, and Willow were with her. A part of her was relieved she wouldn't have to sit out there alone with Buffy. Being alone with Buffy scared her for too many reasons to even think of now.
They were all talking about plans to go out shopping the next day. Giles had, over the course of the morning and most of the afternoon, given in to the pleas coming from Dawn and Buffy over the fact that they all needed clothes and other essentials. Faith just sat there next to Xander, staring over at Buffy and Willow, who were deep in conversation, chattering excitedly as they planned the shopping trip right down to the last detail. Faith rolled her eyes as did Xander and Kennedy; the three of them shared a look and burst out laughing.
It was easiest to get along with Xander and Kennedy out of all of them. She chalked it down to the three of them finding an easy way just to be around each other without any tension and stress like she felt whenever she was around Buffy. Xander was going through a lot and even though he hadn't said a word about Anya, they all knew he spent a lot of time thinking about her, pining over her, mourning her all the while trying to keep his spirits up and that goofy smile on his face.
"I'm going on a beer run," Xander said as he finished off his beer. "You coming, Faith?"
"Nah, I'm gonna sit right here and chill."
"I'm with Faith on the whole sitting right here and chilling thing," she chuckled. "Looks like you're on your own, Xander."
"Fine," he grumbled as he stood up from the bench. "Any special requests?"
"Light beer," Kennedy replied. "Something that tastes a little less like horse piss this time."
"Whiskey," Faith said with a smile, "and lots of it."
"Money is kind of an issue here," Xander said softly as he pulled out the pockets of his jeans to demonstrate that fact. "Cough it up, Faith. I paid the last time."
"Cough what up?" She asked innocently, not even blinking as Xander held out his hand. She laughed as she pulled out a few bills from her pocket, ignoring the look she received from Buffy and Willow as she handed over the cash. "Remember. Whiskey. And no more of this piss you call beer."
"Didn't hear you complaining till Kennedy said something."
"Well, I was waiting for someone else to say something. Got a problem with that?"
"No, no problem," Xander said quickly. "I'll be back in a bit."
"We got him whipped," Kennedy whispered as she moved to sit a little closer to Faith. "Fucking whipped."
"You think?" Faith laughed as she shook her head and pulled out her pack of cigarettes, offering one to Kennedy before she lit one for herself.
Willow gave Kennedy a look that scared even Faith. Kennedy placed the unlit cigarette on the table and blew Willow a kiss. As soon as Willow was back to engaging in the conversation she and Buffy were having, Kennedy turned to Faith and just rolled her eyes.
"Looks like you're whipped too, Ken," Faith chuckled softly, just loud enough for her to hear.
"It's really not a bad thing seeing how it does work both ways. Just watch," she smiled brightly as she reached over for Willow's hand. "You want to go for a little walk, Will?"
"Yes, now," Kennedy said, tugging on Willow's hand as she stood up. "We'll be back."
Buffy and Faith both laughed as Willow allowed herself to be dragged into the house. The two looked at each other as the laughter faded. They were back to being alone again and Faith could almost taste the tension in the air. She thought now that maybe a little alcohol and some fun would help loosen their tongues and let them become comfortable just being around one another. She wasn't one for drinking every day, but the way things were looking that was exactly what would end up happening if they didn't find a way just to be themselves around each other.
"It doesn't always have to be like this," Buffy said quietly, tearing Faith away from her thoughts.
"Be what way?"
"Like this," Buffy gestured between them. "All this..."
"Yeah. Tension. If that's what you want to call it."
"It is what it is, B."
"What were you thinking about?"
"Just now," Buffy said, slight annoyance slipping out as she spoke. "You are always lost in your own thoughts, Faith, and don't try and tell me you are sitting there and not thinking, because your eyes tell a very different story."
"Nothing important," Faith breathed out as she took one last long drag of her cigarette before dropping it into her empty bottle. "Why does it fuckin' matter? It's not like we've ever been big on the sharing what we're thinking about."
"Don't you think we should start? Or at least try to?"
"Because," Buffy sighed out softly as she shook her head. "That is what friends do. They talk about whatever they are thinking about."
"Got some news for you, Twinkie. You and me? We aren't friends."
"Not yet. We won't ever get there if you keep pushing me out"
"I'm not fucking pushing you out!"
"Oh really?" Buffy asked as she raised an eyebrow at her, looking as if she was fully determined to prove her wrong. "Well, you aren't exactly inviting me in either, so that's pretty much the same as pushing me out every chance you get."
Faith breathed in and out evenly as she tried to control the bubbling anger growing inside of her, not knowing why Buffy was pushing all of her buttons. "You are doing the same fucking thing to me. It's what we've always done. Never let each other in, always pushing each other out. Same old fucking song and dance. It's never gonna change."
"You know why it won't change?"
"No, I don't, so why don't you tell me why since you seem to think you have the fucking answers to everything."
"Faith..." Buffy sighed out, still sounding very much annoyed and yet there was a hint of tiredness in her voice. "I really don't want to do this with you. I'm trying to be civilized with you because it's the right thing to do. You're here with all of us, you're a part of us and our lives now, so don't you think you should let us in just a little so that we can be a part of your life too?"
Why, was the question Faith wanted to ask her, but she said nothing as she lowered her eyes and picked at the peeling paint on the table. The mid-afternoon sun was warm, the breeze a little cool, but she felt warm all over as she looked up and saw Buffy studying her intently, waiting for her to speak and looking like she was trying to figure out what was going through Faith's head at that moment.
They had a long way to go to get over everything that was holding them back. They both needed to say all of the things they never said but should have if they ever wanted to move on from that point. Faith chuckled softly to herself, wondering when she started thinking and over-thinking everything. It wasn't like her; then again, her life had changed since she'd been in prison. Too much time alone equalled too much time to think. It hadn't stopped when she got out and it hadn't stopped even after the fight with the First and that feeling deep inside of her, that screaming voice she'd always tuned out before, was telling her it'd never stop until it did.
That ever familiar itch was crawling to the surface, stronger now with the energy coming from the Hellmouth. Itching to seek out the vamps and demons she just knew were crawling all over the city. Itching to fight, itching to kill, and to sate her urges afterwards in ways she knew best and in ways she'd missed doing for years. She knew Buffy was feeling it too. She could just feel it as much as she could see it. That telltale look in Buffy's eyes mirrored that of her own, only the urges she felt were drastically different. A non-fat yogurt different. It made her laugh, yet again, and she allowed her eyes to wander over to meet with Buffy's, smirking at the oblivious look on Buffy's face.
"What's so funny?"
"Nothing," Faith chuckled as she shook her head.
"Seriously, tell me what the hell is so funny, Faith."
"Just thinking how we're both feeling the energy here, feeling a little antsy and agitated, itching just to get out there and slay."
"That's funny how?"
"Cos the urges we feel after," Faith drawled out as she continued to pick at the paint. "So much the same, yet so drastically different."
"Non-fat yogurt different, unless...you pulled that stick outta your ass while I've been gone and no, I'm not counting the fact you did the nasty with Spike, cos...ew," Faith said as she pulled a face, and then quickly continued before Buffy could say a word, "and yes I know that Spike is on that list of things not to talk about, I just had to..."
"Point it out," Buffy finished for her with a roll of her eyes.
"So, have you?"
"Have I what?"
"Moved on from the non-fat yogurt craving afterwards? Pulled that stick outta your ass and found the fun? Shall I go on?"
"No to what?"
"To all of it," Buffy sighed as she looked down at her hands in her lap. "How come you always think of slaying as fun, Faith? It's not fun. It's so far from it."
"You gotta start thinking differently, B. Sure it's not fun, but you gotta find the fun in it wherever you can," Faith replied, offering a friendly smile as Buffy looked up at her. "You know, newbie vamps are fun to smack around a little especially when ya come across the ones who are confused as fuck, letting that bloodlust drive them. It's fun to play with them for a little while before ya dust `em."
"You guess? Jesus, B. Looks like I'm gonna have to take you out, find the fun one night, and show ya what you've been missing since you've been called."
"We've been there before," Buffy reminded her. "Honestly? I didn't find it all that fun. Slaying is just a job, Faith. It's our destiny. We have no other choice. How can something like that be fun?"
For once she just sat there and considered things as she came to the realization that Buffy was right at the same time that she was wrong. Buffy looked back down at her hands in her lap and Faith took that moment just to look at her. It was hard to read Buffy, she always knew that, but she knew there was something bothering her, something stressing her out, and she wasn't sure how to ask Buffy just what it was. She'd meant it when she said she didn't know how to talk to her and right then and there she wished it was different between them.
"I thought once we came here that...and this feels stupid to say, but...I thought maybe things would change," Buffy mused as she slowly lifted her eyes to look over at Faith. "I thought it'd be easier. Nothing is ever going to be easy, is it?"
"No, it's not. I got over that trauma years ago, B. It's not easy to accept that things are always gonna be fucking hard, but you gotta accept it one way or another if you expect to ever just live," Faith sighed as she pulled out another cigarette and she tried to still her shaking hands just long enough to light it. "Look at it this way though. You don't have to go through this alone. Got me here now and Ken to share the burden with, then don't even get me started on all the girls out there that suddenly have superpowers."
"What was that?" Faith teased, watching as the small smirk crept over Buffy's lips as she fought to keep it away. "Did you just say I am right?"
"Yeah. Don't let it get to you. Probably be the only time you are."
Buffy shook her head and laughed. It was a genuine laugh, and Faith couldn't recall the last time she'd actually heard it. It made her smile and it was one of those smiles that rooted itself deep down and worked its way up and out. It was also one of those smiles she'd gone far too long without doing and it felt good. Really damn good. The friendship that was slowly building between them would bring a lot of different things to the table, one of them being the fact that around Buffy she wanted to do nothing more than to try to be a better person. Wanting to be a better person around Buffy wasn't completely new, but she hadn't felt that way in a very long time.
They sat there in complete, utter silence until Xander had come back from the store. Faith had pulled a branch off the tree and had been carving it for a good hour before he'd come back. They sat out there until the dusk began to fall and then the three of them went inside to find Willow and Kennedy cooking up a storm in the kitchen. Nobody'd had a home cooked meal in...well Faith wasn't sure how long it'd been for them, but it felt like forever and a day for her. She knew it'd been awhile, too long, since they'd all had decent food and in the last week all they'd eaten had been greasy food at roadside diners.
Faith grabbed the bottle of whiskey off the counter, looking over at Xander and giving him a small smile, a silent thank you for picking up what she'd asked for. She grabbed a couple of small glasses and sat at the table with Giles, Buffy, and Dawn. She poured them each a glass, aside from Dawn, and raised her glass a little before taking most of it back. Buffy just raised an eyebrow at her and at how fast she'd downed the alcohol. She just stared right back at Buffy, silently challenging her to keep up with her, glass for glass, shot for shot.
With every drop that rolled over her tongue, she tried to forget what had happened the night before. It left a bitter taste in her mouth and her whole body wrenched with disappointment in herself. Again with all the new feelings, the new thoughts. She was getting used to it all, though. In fact, she knew by the third drink, despite the fact the alcohol was probably loosening up her flow of thoughts, that she was embracing this newer part of herself with open arms. She was on the path to redemption and she knew the first person that needed to forgive her was herself. She would, in time. She knew it would happen but it wouldn't happen overnight.
Nothing was ever easy. Nothing ever would be, not unless she made it that way.
Never once did she take her eyes off of Buffy as the two of them drank half the bottle by themselves before the dinner Willow and Kennedy had made was ready and on the table. Buffy could barely eat as she sat there swaying slightly with the alcohol coursed through her body. Faith could only reach out and place a hand tentatively on her shoulder to stop her from swaying, giving her shoulder a gentle squeeze before pulling her hand away. She felt the warmth she always felt around Buffy, but didn't let it drive in deep as she usually let it. She let that warmth wrap itself around her and it felt good. Everything about it felt way too damn good.
They all ended up in the living room together after they'd eaten and cleaned up. Faith sat alone in one of the armchairs, Giles in the other, and the rest of them sprawled out on the two couches. She had the bottle of whiskey in her hand and was taking small, gentle swigs every so often. Her eyes locked with Buffy's and she knew she was feeling something lingering there between them over the distance and the sound of soft chattering among the others. Whatever it was, she could see in Buffy's eyes that she felt it too. The alcohol they'd both consumed had left them unguarded for once.
And Faith was scared. She was more scared than she'd ever been in her life and all because of what she thought she saw in Buffy's eyes in that split second before Buffy turned to talk quietly to Willow.
She was scared because what she thought she saw was something deep, something real, lingering there. Something she'd never seen aimed at her before. She shook her head and laughed to herself, wondering why she'd even think Buffy would love her. The alcohol was definitely messing with her head.
Another day and yet another hangover. Faith groaned as she blinked a couple times, her eyes adjusting to the brightness of the morning sun streaming in through the living room window. She had to stop drinking the way she had been, she knew she did. Her head was pounding something fierce and her body was stiff from being on the couch all night. There was only so much her body could take and she still hadn't slept off the exhaustion from the fight a week ago. She moved to stretch out and that's when she realized she wasn't lying on the couch alone. A warm body was behind her, an arm draped loosely over her stomach and a face buried into the back of her neck, the soft breaths tickling her skin.
"Fuck, not again," she whispered to herself as she turned just a little to confirm what she already knew was true. "How the hell has this happened again?"
"Huh?" Buffy asked softly as she opened her eyes, groaning and shutting them quickly. "What time is it?"
"Faith?" Buffy sat up quickly as soon as she realized the position they were in. "I uh...how did we...crap...this is not good."
"Drank too much last night," Faith muttered as she slowly sat up on the couch and leaned back next to her. "Must have fallen asleep on the couch together last night or something."
"Uh yeah, looks like. But why?"
"Beats the fuck outta me, you're the one fuckin' spooning me here, B," Faith replied in what was supposed to be a playful voice, but it came out harsh as if she was disgusted when in fact it was quite the opposite. "Don't worry about it," she said when Buffy began to breathe a little quicker, her eyes darting around in worry. "You were probably just trying to keep warm or some shit, B. Didn't bother me none."
"But you said, `not again'. When the hell has this happened before for this to be `again', Faith?"
"Uh, B? Can we at least get some coffee or something right now? Can't think straight with this pounding in my head."
Buffy just shrugged as she closed her eyes and leaned her head against the back of the couch. She stood up on shaky legs and left Buffy there in the living room while she headed for the kitchen to throw on a pot of coffee. She stood by the sink, listening to the pot brewing, and looked out the window while she gripped onto the edge of the counter to keep from swaying back and forth. She could feel Buffy before she heard her walk into the kitchen and grab a bottle of water out of the fridge, downing it in seconds and groaning softly as she leaned against the fridge.
"I am never drinking again," Buffy moaned as Faith turned to look at her. "Correction, I am never drinking with you again."
Faith chuckled softly, shaking her head as she closed her eyes and brought her hands up to rub her throbbing temples. "Deal. I don't think I'm gonna drink with me ever again."
"You do realize that made absolutely no sense while making complete sense at the same time?"
They both laughed softly, the sounds of their laughter without a doubt floating through the rest of the sleeping house. It died off quickly and Faith watched the coffeepot fill with every steady drip. She thought back to what she did remember of the night before, the images blurry, but there. She and Buffy had ended up drinking the rest of the bottle together long after the others had called it a night. They'd talked, but about what exactly she couldn't recall now. She remembered trying to move from the couch to go up to her room only to be pulled down with Buffy whispering to her to stay there with her until she fell asleep. As weird as it was for the two of them to be the way they were together, it felt right. Too right.
Faith grabbed a cup of coffee as soon as the pot was finished brewing, followed by her jacket as she headed out to the front porch. She hated feeling so unsteady, her muscles twitching with every breath she took. It wasn't just the hangover that made her feel that way, it was the way she'd woken up with Buffy so close to her. She could almost still feel the soft, warm breath against the back of her neck as she stepped outside and quietly closed the door behind her. Shaking it off, she placed her mug down on the step as she slipped her jacket on, the morning air cool enough to make her shiver.
For once she didn't light a cigarette right away. She just sat down on the steps and leaned against the railing, sipping her coffee slowly as she watched the world, well just the neighbourhood, wake up around her. The hum from the city was comforting and it mixed with the energy of the Hellmouth that just made her entire body want to go out there and slay. They would soon enough, though, she knew that, but she was impatient, just as she always had been. She just couldn't wait to get out there and get her hands on a vampire or a demon, whatever came her way first. She chalked up the last two nights to the mounting frustration she'd been feeling since the fight with the First. Not even getting her itch scratched with the couple she'd picked up at the bar had been enough to quell that frustration.
She stayed out there long enough to finish her coffee before she headed inside and went straight upstairs. She needed a shower and a couple more hours of sleep to clear the fuzziness of the hangover from her body and mind. She went right to the bathroom closest to her room, grabbing a fresh towel out of the linen closet on the way. The house was quiet aside from the whispers she heard coming from Buffy's room, but she ignored them and headed for the bathroom.
Her mind was barrelling forward a mile a minute with thoughts of the night before. She couldn't stop herself from thinking about that look she'd seen in Buffy's eyes, that look of what she had no doubt was love. Why Buffy had that look in her eyes when she looked at her, at her of all people, was bothering her. It made her skin crawl, not in the bad way, but in the way where she was agitated and confused with what that look meant. Waking up with Buffy's arm around her had derailed her thoughts and sent her into a tailspin she couldn't get out of. It had woken up that deeply woven attraction she'd been fighting to keep hidden deep down inside since she came to help them all in the fight against the First.
Faith quickly showered and went back to her room, quietly reminding herself to get a lock for the door as soon as she could. She hated living in a house full of other people. Well, she didn't exactly hate it, she just wasn't used to it and she liked her privacy. She crawled into bed, hoping for a dreamless sleep, knowing it was too much to hope for especially with all that had happened recently. She hoped to sleep the day away, to sleep away the thoughts that plagued her mind and the fatigue her body was so used to feeling. She laid there staring up at the ceiling, listening as the others woke up to start their day. She fell asleep, finally, to the sounds of Andrew and Kennedy arguing in the kitchen, laughing softly before she finally succumbed to another restless sleep full of dreams and nightmares she'd rather not have.
It was dark when she woke up and the house was eerily quiet. She felt better than she had that morning, the hangover no longer there, the pounding in her head dulled enough for it to be bearable, yet those thoughts, all of them, still plagued her mind. She lay there for a few minutes, allowing herself some time to wake up and stretch. As restless as she'd slept, the bed was surprisingly comfortable, the sheets soft and freshly washed. The sound of laughter as the front door opened made her get out of bed and get dressed quickly.
She joined the others in the living room, watching as they took the clothes that they'd bought that afternoon out of the bags, comparing everything they bought for themselves. She cursed under her breath for having missed the opportunity to get herself more clothes, but it didn't bother her. She always did what she could with as little as she had and this was no different. Kennedy handed her a bag, smiling as her eyebrows went up in surprise.
"I'm not sure what you like, but you didn't bitch before so I got you a few more things today," Kennedy said to her as Faith pulled out the clothes from the bag. "Now you really can't say I've never done anything for you."
"Appreciate it, Ken. Thanks."
"Nobody wanted to wake you up earlier," she said quietly as she sat on the arm of the chair Faith was sitting in. "Buffy said you two were up late drinking and I know you haven't been sleeping much lately."
Faith just nodded, dropping the bag to the floor as she leaned back in the chair. She knew Kennedy wanted to say something else, she could just see that she was holding it back, biting her tongue because the others were around. She wondered if Buffy had told Willow about how they'd woken up that morning together on the couch. She wouldn't doubt that she did and that Kennedy had heard it from Willow. She knew for certain that it had been talked about when she caught Buffy's eyes from across the room and saw the small blush creep over her cheeks before she looked away.
"We're going out to patrol tonight to check out the cemetery a few blocks from here," Kennedy said softly as the others gathered their bags and headed upstairs. "Then I was thinking you and I could have a little talk afterwards."
"You know, just in general stuff. Get to know each other, talk about what's going on with you and Buffy."
"Nothing is going on with me and Buffy."
"Yeah, that's the problem."
Faith raised an eyebrow at her as she stood up from the chair. "I don't know what the fuck you're going on about, Ken."
"Everyone sees it," she said softly. "There's something definitely there between you two."
"I don't know," Kennedy replied with a sly smile. "Maybe you two just need to fuck and get it over with already."
"Excuse me?" Faith laughed as she walked to the kitchen with Kennedy following close behind. "I think ya need to check your sanity, Ken. There's nothing going on with Buffy and me. We're trying to be friends, trying being the key word here, and it's not really working. We've never been able to be friends."
"Because you two need to fuck, that's why."
Faith laughed as she punched Kennedy playfully in the shoulder. "We don't need to fuck. Story, end of. I think you are getting your wires crossed up there," she said as she flicked her fingers against Kennedy's forehead.
"You know," Kennedy groaned as she rubbed her forehead slowly. "If I didn't like you, I would have kicked your ass just now."
"You really think you could take me?"
"I know I could take you, Faith. There's just one problem," she chuckled as she leaned against the counter and crossed her arms. "Buffy told me not to get into it with you since you've got a hot head and get outta control way too fast."
"Well she's not wrong about that, I'll give you that much," Faith smirked as she opened the fridge and reached around the back for a beer, stopping herself and choosing a bottle of water instead. "So, you excited about going out on patrol tonight?"
"Sure. Isn't the first time I've been on patrol, but Giles told us not to expect too much activity for a while. Word has gotten out that we're in town and I think a lot of the baddies are skipping out of town as fast as they can."
"Figures," Faith chuckled softly as she hoisted herself up on the counter and took a sip of her water. "We show up in town and they all fucking run scared."
"Can't be an entirely bad thing, though, right?"
"Who knows? The only thing I'm worried about is where they're running to."
"That's what Giles said this morning. We'll know more as the days go on and I say," Kennedy smirked as she hoisted herself up on the counter next to Faith. "I say we just enjoy this downtime for as long as we can since we don't know how long it'll last."
"And how do you suggest we do that?"
"Just chill and whatever," Kennedy replied with a smile. "I mean, after the last couple of months, none of us have really been able to just be normal and enjoy life, you know? I really miss the days when I had no idea that the things that go bump in the night really were real and at the same time, I don't, because I know I can beat them. Besides, there's nothing better than knowing you can beat them no matter what."
Faith nodded, smiling right back at her, seeing so much of herself in Kennedy that it was almost scary. She knew they got along so easily was because of the fact they weren't that different in personality, aside from the fact that Kennedy, as far as she knew, had never killed a human before. One day she knew the two of them would have a nice long talk and she'd tell Kennedy things she never could tell anyone else. The comfort factor she felt around her was unlike anything she'd felt around another human being before. It was just easier with Kennedy. She hadn't been there before when everything went bad and she'd only heard the stories, shrugging them off as tall tales and choosing to make her own judgement when it came to her opinion on Faith.
"So tell me something, Faith," Kennedy said softly as she stared long and hard at her. "Why is it that you and Buffy have such a hard time getting along?"
"Lots of history, bad history, we haven't gotten over."
"Is that all? I mean, I see the way she looks at you sometimes."
"I don't know," she shrugged. "Sometimes I think I see her trying to figure you out, pick you apart, layer by layer and other times there's just...I don't know, some kind of love and admiration there."
"What the hell are ya smoking, Ken? Buffy doesn't love me. Nobody loves me, it's just the way it is and the way it probably always will be. I'm the type of person people don't love and I know you don't even know me yet, but it is how it is. Nothing is going to change."
"Okay, stop," Kennedy sighed out as she hopped off the counter and stood right in front of Faith. "You need to stop with the pity parade and the whole `nobody is ever gonna love me' bullshit, because I know that can't be true. Maybe nobody has ever been vocal about their feelings towards you because they know exactly how you are going to react. Have you ever thought about that?"
"It isn't a pity parade or bullshit," Faith said under her breath, staring long and hard down at Kennedy. "You have no fuckin' idea what you're talking about either, Ken."
"It really works you up, doesn't it? Knowing that someone probably feels something for you and it's driving you insane because you aren't used to it. Bet you wish everyone here didn't even want you around since life would be so much easier for you to deal with that way, wouldn't it?"
"I know what you're doing, Kennedy."
"And what am I doing?"
"You're trying to break through the walls I got up around me, aren't ya?"
"Is it working?"
Faith let out an exasperated sigh. Kennedy was getting to her, but she didn't want to let her know it. It made her laugh and want to punch her at the same time. "No," she said finally as she fought to keep the smirk from slipping out.
"Okay, fine," Faith laughed as she hopped off the counter. "It's working. Just a little. You want to do me a favour and stop doing it?"
"Why? Does it bother you?" Kennedy asked, poking her in the back as she tried to walk away. "It does, doesn't it? It bothers you I can get under your skin the way I am and that I actually care enough to want to break down your walls, doesn't it?"
"Can't handle it, can you, Faithy? Can't handle the fact that someone actually fucking cares about you and no," Kennedy smirked as Faith spun around to face her, "I am not just talking about myself, I'm talking about everyone under this roof."
"Come on," Kennedy laughed as she playfully smacked Faith across the cheek, testing her to see how much she'd take before she snapped. "It really does bother you, doesn't it?"
"Fine, yes! It bothers me. Is that what you want to fucking hear? Jesus Christ," Faith sighed out, forcing back the bubbling anger and the urge to kick Kennedy's ass right then and there. "You're a fucking annoying little brat, ya know that?"
"Oh I know it. I embrace it," Kennedy replied cockily as she stepped right into Faith's personal space. "What are you going to do about it, Faithy?"
It took a lot to back down, to keep that anger from bubbling over even though she knew Kennedy was just teasing her, pushing all her buttons to see how far she could go. Kennedy only smirked as she took a couple steps back, looking rather pleased with herself as she smoothed out her shirt. Kennedy held out her hand, looking like she wanted to call a truce on the conversation, but when Faith reached out she found herself face first on the floor in seconds.
"Told you I could take you," Kennedy laughed as she got up from pinning her down and helped her up to her feet. "Sorry, just couldn't resist."
"Yeah, whatever," Faith said with a forced smile. "Just don't fucking try that shit again unless you're looking for a serious beat down."
"What's going on?" Buffy asked as she and Willow walked into the kitchen. "Who is getting a serious beat down?"
"Nobody," Faith said under her breath. "Just witnessed the tail end of the start of a beautiful friendship."
"Sarcasm, yet it's the truth," Kennedy chuckled as she wrapped her arms around Willow and stole a kiss. "Are you coming with us on patrol?"
"No, I'm staying behind. It's just you three tonight."
Faith grabbed her water and left the kitchen, unable to take the penetrating gaze Buffy was suddenly directing at her. She joined Giles and Xander in the living room and sat down in the chair near the window, sighing as she turned to look outside. No matter how much she'd tried to think of everything but that morning, she couldn't stop replaying that moment she woken up. Had it been anyone else that woke up pressed so close to her she would have flipped, but it was Buffy. Buffy.
All she'd dreamt about was Buffy. All she could think about even when she wasn't paying attention to those thoughts running through her mind was Buffy. She needed to seriously get out of the Buffy loop she'd fallen into. It was just like before, only this time something was different. Something she just couldn't quite put her finger on. The things that Kennedy had said to her were bothering her too. She felt even more restless as she shifted in the chair and looked over at Giles and Xander as they gazed down at a map of the entire city that was spread out over the coffee table.
"What do you think, Faith?" Xander said as he motioned for her to come over and check out the map. "We've figured out the areas with the most activity and created an effective route to take for patrol each night."
Faith got up, walked over to the couch, sat down next to him, and looked over the map. Four major areas had been highlighted in red. She guessed those were the active areas. There were a few yellow and the rest of the map blank. The house was circled and a route laid out that would take them through each of the four major areas.
"Explain?" She asked as she looked over at Giles. "Two different routes. Does that mean Kennedy is going to be with one of us?"
"For now," Giles replied with a ginger nod of his head. "This would be a good way to get her trained properly. Tonight, though, I want the three of you to stick together."
"Sounds good," she shrugged as she examined the map a little closer. "What's with the yellow areas?"
"Minimal activity," Xander explained. "At least one incident a week in the yellow areas. The red areas, well," he laughed sharply as he sat back and opened the can of Coke that had been on the edge of the table, "I think you know how bad the red areas are."
"No, I don't. Tell me."
"A dozen incidents a day, on average," Giles answered when Xander shrugged as he drank his Coke.
"This is definitely worse than Sunnydale," Faith sighed as she looked over the map again. "It's also three times bigger than Sunnydale. There is no way we'll be able to cover this much ground in a night, even if we are separated."
"It is," Giles nodded slowly. "Fortunately there are three of you here to take care of things. As you might know, word has travelled that we are in town. There shouldn't be any major problems for a couple of weeks. And as for covering those four major areas, we'll focus on two at a time."
"And what happens when things get out of control? I mean, worst case scenario, we can't handle it on our own, then what?" Faith asked, needing to know what the backup plan would be.
"We'll bring in some of the other Slayers, train them, and have them here to help us, but that won't be necessary, Faith. I know that between you, Buffy, and Kennedy things will be kept under control."
"Besides," Xander cut in as he leaned forward, "if things really do get out of hand, we'll cover the yellow areas and pick up the slack any way that we can."
"You guys have really figured things out, haven't ya?" Faith asked, chuckling softly as she leaned back against the couch and looked at Giles then over at Xander. "Anything else that I missed out on today that I should know about?"
"Shopping trip from hell," Xander muttered under his breath as Giles laughed softly and walked into the kitchen. "I'm serious, Faith. You should have been there. Between Buffy and Dawn, my god, I'd never seen two women fight over the same jacket like that before. I swear at one point I thought that Dawn was going to snatch Buffy bald-headed."
"Sounds...amusing," she laughed as she shook her head. "What's the sitch on the basement?"
"Yeah, like a heavy bag, some weights, you know...stuff we're gonna need to train during the day?"
"Far as I know, it's a work in progress. Giles is taking care of it. Everything is a work in progress right now, actually," Xander replied and he turned to look at her, sighing as he shook his head and took another sip of his Coke. "Andrew spent the entire afternoon trying to convince Giles to spring for a good TV."
"And he didn't budge and you know what he told him? Told him, well all of us in general, if we want the extras and stuff to entertain ourselves, we'll have to find jobs and pay for them ourselves."
"Faith?" Buffy called out from the front door. "We're leaving!"
"Great," she repeated as she rolled her eyes and got up from the couch. "Later, Xand."
She grabbed her jacket, slipped on her boots, and caught up with Buffy and Kennedy at the end of the driveway. Buffy handed her a stake and began walking without a word. Faith and Kennedy only exchanged a look and a shrug as they followed her, staying a couple paces behind her. The first cemetery was only two blocks away and they followed Buffy through the front gates. Faith twirled her stake in her hand, feeling out the energy that grew heavier the further they walked into the large cemetery. The place was crawling with the undead. She could feel it with every breath she took.
"You feel that?" Kennedy whispered to her.
"Is it always like this?"
"Only when we get close enough," Faith replied, coming to a stop along with Kennedy as Buffy turned to face them. "What do you think, B? Spread out?"
"No," she said as she shook her head. "We stick together. That's the plan."
"Since when do you do things according to the plan?" Kennedy shot out, the energy surrounding them starting to get to her and drive her. Faith recognized that wild look in her eyes, the Slayer in her itching to get out. "Seriously, don't you think it'd be better if we did split up like Faith said?"
"No," Buffy said again through clenched teeth. "You aren't ready to be on your own out here, Kennedy. I'm sorry, but for tonight we all stay close together. End of story."
"Bitch," Kennedy muttered under her breath as soon as Buffy had begun to walk away. Faith shook her head when Kennedy went to add another comment to that, warning her with a hardened glare not to go on.
Faith kept her mouth shut, as did Kennedy from that point on. The first hour dragged on until they came across a small group of vampires passing through the cemetery. Buffy ordered them behind a row of headstones and they watched as the seven vampires disappeared inside a large mausoleum. Faith already knew the plan long before Buffy quietly explained it to Kennedy. They kept it simple, in and out, catch the group of vampires off-guard and end it quick as possible.
Kennedy was too excited and Faith grabbed her by the arm before she could leap up. "Just chill, Ken. You gotta stick with the plan."
"Since when do you stick to the plan? Thought you went all living large on vamps without a care in the world?"
"We're outnumbered and we gotta play it safe," she hissed softly as she caught Buffy staring over at them as she crept towards the mausoleum. "Just use your fuckin' head, Ken, okay?"
"I'm serious," Faith said firmly as they followed Buffy, keeping a low profile while at the same time keeping an eye out for any other vampires that decided to come crash the party. "In and out. I don't wanna have to drag your ass outta there when you can't fight cos you've decided to be careless."
"Come on," Buffy whispered as she motioned for them to hurry up. "In and out."
"No fucking around, Ken," Faith said as she gave out her final warning, hoping that Kennedy wasn't as stubborn as she was portraying herself to be. She didn't want to have to drag her out of there because she was too into fighting rather than taking the vampires out.
Buffy went in first and Faith and Kennedy were right behind her. The vampires inside barely had time to realize their little party was crashed before three of them were nothing but a pile of ash. Faith fell into the fight, feeling every bit of her come alive with every punch and every kick. Only twice she looked over at Kennedy, making sure she was okay, and she was proving that she could very much hold her own. She paid no attention to Buffy, knowing she didn't have to worry about her at all, and she made short work of the two vampires she fought alone just as Buffy and Kennedy finished off the ones they fought.
"In and out? Piece of fucking cake," Kennedy laughed as they walked outside, the cool night air providing relief from the muggy interior of the damp mausoleum.
"We got lucky," Buffy sighed as she leaned against the stone wall and tucked her stake inside her jacket pocket. "It won't always be that easy, Kennedy."
"After the fight against the First and the Turok-Han? Anything is going to be easy," Kennedy replied as she paced in front of both Buffy and Faith. "I don't know about you two, but I could really use a little more action tonight."
Buffy and Faith exchanged a look and shrugged. They both knew what it was like to be a new Slayer, to feel the power, to want more, to crave it. Faith still felt that, but she knew Buffy didn't. She'd lost that somewhere along the way. Faith leaned against the wall next to Buffy, breathing heavily from the fast-paced fight. One look at Buffy and she knew the night was far from over. She knew they'd be out patrolling until dawn and she couldn't wait to see what else the night would bring their way. It felt far too long since she'd just been out on patrol without any apocalypses to deal with.
"Where to now, B?"
"We'll check the rest of the place out and move on to the next," she replied with a faint smile. "You did see the map, didn't you?"
"Yeah, before we left."
"You'll remember how to get us home, right?"
"Are you fuckin' kidding me?" Faith laughed as she nudged Buffy's shoulder with her own. "Seriously, B. You are kidding right?"
"Yeah. Relax, Faith. Unlike you and your habits of sleeping all day and drinking all night, I actually do productive things in my life."
"Ouch," she laughed as she clutched at her chest. "You just don't hold anything back, do ya?"
Kennedy raised an eyebrow at both of them, a smug smile firmly over her lips as they started walking deeper into the cemetery. Buffy saw the look Kennedy had given them, but she dismissed it and walked ahead of them. Faith took the opportunity to slug Kennedy hard in the shoulder, shaking her head as she picked up the pace to catch up with Buffy.
"When we split the patrol, she's going with you," Buffy said quietly as she looked around everywhere but at Faith as they walked slowly. "I don't think I could handle her attitude for very long."
"No problem," Faith said, offering a smile she knew Buffy wouldn't even see. "Is something bothering you tonight, B?"
"No. Why would you think that?"
"You haven't looked at me all night and you've barely said a word to me since we left the house. This isn't about this morning, is it?"
"Never bring that up again," Buffy said firmly as she stopped walking and looked right at her. "This morning was nothing short of awkward and I'd like to forget about it, okay?"
"B, I told ya. It's not a big fucking deal. Seriously, just chill out about it."
"You're just lucky I was feeling like total crap this morning or else I would've kicked your ass ten ways to Sunday. Just drop it, okay?"
Faith nodded and let Buffy walk ahead, trying not to feel like she'd just been punched in the gut. She reached inside her jacket, pulled out her pack of cigarettes, and quickly lit one, gritting her teeth as she inhaled sharply. Kennedy walked next to her, chuckling softly.
"You two just need to..."
"What part of shut up don't you fucking understand, Ken?" Faith snapped, her voice just loud enough for Buffy to turn to look at them. "Just don't fucking start on that shit, okay?"
Faith took off, not caring that the plan was to stick together. She could take care of herself and Kennedy had proved she could too. She needed to be alone for a little while, the anger that had been bubbling inside of her reaching the boiling point. The last thing she wanted was to show all of them that side of herself. She wanted to prove to them and to herself that she'd changed, or at least was trying to change. She growled under her breath and kicked over a headstone, watching as the stone crumpled to the ground.
"Fuck," she sighed out as she felt the tears burning in her eyes.
She leaned against the nearest tree, wiping away her tears quickly when she saw Buffy and Kennedy heading her way. There was no way in hell she'd let anyone catch her getting so worked up she broke down into tears. Buffy had already seen her break down after Robin had died and she sure didn't want to have her see her cry ever again. The vulnerability she was feeling, even now, made her turn and punch the tree she'd been leaning against. She continuously punched it, the rough bark digging into her skin, ripping it apart, blood flowing freely, yet she felt nothing. Nothing but numbness her body had fallen into. Buffy pulled her away from the tree, grabbing her wrists and forcing her to stop.
"Faith, what the hell are you doing? Stop!"
Faith pushed her away roughly, the tears filling her eyes before she could force them down. Kennedy stood back, a look of shock and concern on her face as Buffy pulled Faith into her and wrapped her arms tightly around her, forcing her to stay right where she was. She kept struggling against Buffy, feeling weaker as the tears continued to fall.
"Stop pushing me away, Faith," Buffy whispered softly, holding on to her as they both fell to their knees. "Just let me be there for you right now, Faith. No matter what's going on in that head of yours, however you are feeling, just please stop pushing me away."
Why, was what she wanted to know. It felt too out of the element of their barely there friendship for Buffy to want to care as much as she did. She had to stop questioning it; it only made the tears fall harder and faster. Everything was piling up inside of her, bursting through the cracks in her walls as those walls slowly began to crumble around her.
"You aren't alone, Faith. You have all of us now. Whatever is dragging you down you have to stop it from doing this to you. Just talk to me, talk to Kennedy, hell," Buffy laughed softly as she pulled back a little and looked deep into Faith's eyes, "talk to any of us, Faith. Stop pushing us all away, okay? We're family now and whether or not you feel like it, you are a part of this family."
She felt naked under Buffy's gaze as she blinked away her tears. Breaking down during patrol after the last couple of days she'd had wasn't safe. Her vulnerability was making them all vulnerable. She wiped her tears on the sleeve of her jacket before looking down at her raw and bloody hands. There was a softness in Buffy's eyes now, whatever hardness she'd had still when it came to her gone completely now. The hope she'd felt before came back and it hit her so hard she nearly felt out of breath from the intensity of it all.
Things were looking up, slowly but surely. She'd have her downfalls, she'd have her moments where she'd fall apart, but just from the look in Buffy's eyes and the way she'd just held her to calm her down, it gave her more than just hope that everything would be okay. It would only if she let it be okay.