It was almost dawn by the time they got back to the house, Faith attempting to go right to her room but instead being pulled into the bathroom by Buffy. Her hands were a mess from punching the tree and a couple of demons they'd run into had split open her bottom lip. She was a mess on the inside as well as the outside and there weren't any band-aids that would just magically heal the wounds deep inside of her. Buffy sat her down on the edge of the tub while she got out the first-aid kit.
"B, I can take care of this myself."
"I know you can, but can you just let me do this?"
Buffy sighed as she grabbed a washcloth and wet it. "Because I want to," she said as she knelt down in front of Faith and began to gently wipe off the dried blood and the dirt from her hands. "I know you can't talk to me about a lot of things, Faith, and honestly I don't expect you to just open yourself up and tell me everything that's going on with you. I just want to understand what got you so worked up tonight."
"A lot of shit," she shrugged, holding back the whimpers as the pain shot through her hands. "It's all just getting to me lately, that's all. Can't expect it all to just go away overnight."
"Yeah, I know," Buffy sighed as she placed the washcloth on the edge of the tub and pulled out a roll of gauze. "Faith, I know there are a lot of things we've got to work through and that is going to take some time, but I just want you to know that things have changed. I've changed and I know you have too."
"Haven't changed all that much," she muttered under her breath as she watched Buffy slowly wrap the gauze over her hands. "I'm trying, but it's hard."
"I know," Buffy smiled a little as she sat back just a little and carefully examined her split lip from where she was without touching her. "Where'd you go off to the other night?"
"You still hung up on that?"
"I'm just curious, Faith."
"Well I already told ya where I went, B. Found a club, had a few drinks, and danced. You want the dirty details of what happened after I left the club or something?"
"Oh," Buffy said as the realization dawned on her of just what she'd done that night. "Forget I even asked. You know I don't want to know about those things."
"Quit bugging me about it, then," Faith chuckled softly and winced as she felt her lip split open a little more. "We done here? I'm fuckin' beat."
"B?" Faith said as Buffy stood up and put the first-aid kit back under the sink. "Thanks…you know, for earlier. For being there for me and shit."
Buffy just gave her a small smile as they walked out of the bathroom and went their separate ways. Faith tore the gauze from her hands as soon as she was in her room, knowing they'd heal just the same whether she had the cuts wrapped up or not. She'd only humoured Buffy, allowing her to clean up the mess of her hands. She groaned softly as she looked down at them, knowing it was just as bad as it looked. Fuming, she wrapped the gauze back over her hands, ripped off her clothes and climbed into bed.
Faith hated feeling this way, fired up, the adrenaline from patrol still rushing through her body, the feeling of vulnerability from breaking down, completely losing it in front of Buffy and Kennedy earlier, it was all too much. The one thing she just couldn't wrap her head around was the way Buffy had held her, the words she'd said to her that drove deep yet didn't quite stick.
Family. How could she believe that she was a part of what they, especially Buffy, considered to be a family? She'd never had a real family before. She'd only ever had her mother and the relatives she didn't care were alive or dead since she knew that for a fact they thought the same about her. Still, though, the way Buffy had just held her close—so tight, like she actually cared—until she cried the last of her tears had been so out of character for her that Faith still believed that maybe she was suffering from shock. She thought of the other things Buffy had said to her, but the words jumbled in her brain as exhaustion took over.
A few hours of sleep was all she seemed to need and it was all she seemed to be able to get. The sounds travelling through the house by the afternoon had woken her from a surprisingly dreamless sleep. She felt restless despite it all and laid in bed for almost an hour just listening to the others as they spoke downstairs. She wanted to get angry when she heard Buffy talking quietly to Giles about what had happened with her the night before, but she wasn't. She just felt the tears burning in her eyes yet again and she blinked them away, feeling them burn over her cheeks and hit the pillow. She got out of bed when she heard the quiet footsteps coming up the stairs and she'd not quite gotten dressed when she heard the soft knocks on her bedroom door.
"Yeah?" She called out as she slipped on her jeans and walked over to the door. "Hey," she said as she opened it to find Buffy standing there on the other side with two cups of coffee in her hands.
"I thought you might want..."
"Can I come in and talk to you?"
"About what, B?" Faith asked as she walked over to the window and opened the blinds.
"About last night."
Faith motioned for her to sit on the bed and she stayed right where she was by the window, opening it a little and letting the warm late spring air drift inside. She could see a trickle of nervousness in just the way Buffy sat there on the edge of the unmade bed and ran her fingers over the rim of her mug, her eyes darting over the room. Buffy avoided looking into her eyes until finally, with a deep breath, she brought her eyes up to meet Faith's. Faith felt as if they were almost communicating silently, with words she didn't understand yet she did at the same time. It was one of those things she'd felt before, very rarely, around Buffy.
"What about last night, B?"
"I heard what Kennedy was saying to you. Is that what set you off?"
"Part of it."
"Don't know, B."
"No, I mean, why is she saying those things to you?"
"What things?" Faith asked, taking a tentative sip of her hot coffee and making a face when she tasted the sugar. "I think ya gave me the wrong mug, B."
"Sorry," she said softly as they exchanged mugs and Faith took a sip and smiled a little. "She was saying that we need to, you know...why would she say that?"
"Beats the hell outta me. Ken is just a fucking brat. Surprised ya haven't figured that out yet."
"Is that all?" Faith asked, sighing as she turned to look out the window. "Really not up to having some kind of heart-to-heart chat right now."
"It's all going to be on your terms and on your time, isn't it?" Buffy asked, her voice evenly cold.
"No, just fucking tired today, that's all."
"I thought we were doing okay, but after last night..."
"Buffy, we can't just snap our fingers and expect to be all best buds just like that. You know me...I've never been able to be friends with you or any of the others. Hell, I don't even know what it's like to have friends much less be one to someone else."
"You were doing okay," Buffy said quietly as she looked over at her. "I've been thinking a lot lately since we left Sunnydale. We've all been through a lot in the past couple of weeks, Faith."
"No shit. What doesn't kill us only makes us stronger," she said under her breath. "Or just makes us want to kill each other even more so."
"I don't want to kill you," Buffy shot out, the sparks of anger flickering through her eyes as Faith looked over at her, bemused by her reaction. "I never wanted to before, not even when I..."
"When you gutted me with my own knife?"
"I...have I told you I'm sorry about that?"
"You just did."
Buffy let out as soft sigh as they stared at one another for what felt like hours. Faith knew exactly what she was waiting for, for her to apologize for all her wrong doings too. Where would she even start? She highly doubted that Buffy would take a single `I'm sorry' for everything she'd done. She shook her head as she took another sip of her coffee, unable to take her eyes off of Buffy. She had to say something and even with the doubts she had, she knew she had to at least try to say she was sorry.
"Look, B, about all that shit before..."
"You're sorry," Buffy nodded. "I know."
"Why else would you have come back to help us and why else would you have come here with us if you weren't sorry?"
"Not afraid I could still be all evil and shit, plotting the right moment to kill you all in your sleep?"
Buffy laughed at that, her eyes just sparkling as she stared long and hard at Faith. "I highly doubt you're capable of that now, Faith. And for the record, I don't think you are evil. I never thought you were. You just...you had a lot of stuff going on and it didn't help that none of us were there for you. Well, I tried to be, but with Angel..."
"I get it. I'm over it, Buffy. What's done is done now. Gotta move on now, or at least try."
"That's what we're trying to do now, isn't it? Moving on?"
"Yeah, I guess."
"You think I don't know you, right?" Buffy said softly as she stared down at her mug in her hands. "I might not actually know you, but I understand you. At least I think I do. Like with before, years ago," she paused to take a sip of her coffee before looking up at her, "I was hurt with all the things you did, the way you just turned on all of us, but you know something? I got over it."
"Great. Good for you, B."
Sarcasm wasn't going to get her anywhere, but she didn't know how else to react. Buffy was on her own train of thought now and she knew she just had to let her talk and try not to fuck things up even more than she already had.
"You got this whole badass persona, but you know what I think? I think its horseshit. It's all just an act to keep everyone from getting too close to you."
"Angel said the same thing to me."
"Before the drive out here when I talked to him on the phone."
Buffy nodded and watched as Faith opened the window wider and climbed halfway out. "What are you doing?"
"I'm having a smoke," Faith replied as she took her cigarettes out of her pants pocket and quickly lit one. "Too lazy to go downstairs. Besides, we're having a little heart-to-heart. Hate to break it up cos of this habit of mine."
"Why do you smoke anyway? You never used to before," Buffy asked softly as she walked over and stood near her. "You should think about quitting."
"Bother you?" Faith asked, taking a long drag and inhaling deeply, smirking when Buffy shrugged and leaned against the window frame. "So, why do ya think it's horseshit, B?"
"Because I can feel it," she replied quickly. "I don't know how to describe it, but when you...I can just feel there's something else there, that's all. Like right now," she said as she poked Faith in the leg and laughed when Faith barely flinched, "I can feel this wall built up around you, yet you've let it down just a little."
"A little bit, yeah."
"What else do you `feel', Buffy?"
Buffy lowered her head, her hair falling around her face, hiding the blush the crept over her cheeks. Faith saw it, though, and it made her smile, just a little, for reasons she wasn't ready to listen to. Faith's eyes flickered over Buffy's body quickly, drinking her in without realizing she was doing it. She tore her eyes away before Buffy looked back up at her, taking another long drag and then sighing out softly.
"Why?" Faith asked, so quietly she could barely hear herself speak.
"Why do ya care so much?"
"I don't know. I just do. Why do you have to question it? Why can't you just accept it, Faith?"
"Cos nobody ever gave a damn before."
"That's not true..."
"Isn't it?" Faith asked coldly, her hands shaking as she fought to keep from becoming vulnerable yet again. Twice she'd cried in Buffy's arms and she wasn't exactly looking to have it happen again. "Look, maybe everything we went through is just a lot of bullshit and misunderstanding. We're not gonna get anywhere trying to go through that shit how many years after the fact?"
"You're right. What's done is done. I'm sorry, you're sorry, moving on," Buffy said, a small smile forming as their eyes met. "It's going to be hard for us to trust each other, I know that, but I just want you to promise me you'll try."
"Only if you do, Twinkie."
"Shake on it?"
"Why don't you give us a kiss, B?" Faith winked as she watched the blush creep over Buffy's cheeks yet again. She reached for Buffy's hand and shook it, winking at her once more before letting go.
"Uh, you want more coffee?"
"Nah, I'm good."
"We're setting up the basement later," Buffy said as she backed up to the door. "Or now, actually. I figured since you live here too, you should get to have a bit of the say as to how it's all set up."
"I'll be down in a bit."
"Just..." Buffy trailed off as she stood in the doorway. "Just remember that if you need to talk you can come and talk to me or anyone else."
Faith turned to look back out the window, taking one last drag of her cigarette as she listened to Buffy's footsteps descend the stairs. It was a lot to take in, what they'd just talked about. It was also different, for lack of better words and understanding. Nothing in their conversation had been malevolent in any way or form, and it should have made her feel at ease, but it didn't. At least she and Buffy were on the same page when it came to the trust issues that were between them. It'd be hard to trust one another, not just because of all they'd been through, but also because they'd never had even a basic foundation of trust between them before.
She got back to thinking about Robin, about some of the things he'd said to her during the one and only night they'd been together. She wished now that she'd actually listened to him, instead of just pretending to while that ever-familiar high rushed through her body. She almost wished things could have been different. She wondered what it'd be like if he had lived instead of dying alone in the night in the small hospital in a small town she had long forgotten the name of. Would he have `surprised' her, proven to her that not all men were the same? Would she have stayed with him longer than a couple weeks, given him a real chance? Would she have been able to fall in love with him?
She swallowed back the lump that formed in the back of her throat, knowing there was no point in thinking of those questions when there'd never be any answers. Ever. She knew she couldn't stay hung up on Robin, or grieve his death for too long. It was tearing her apart inside and she didn't like that feeling. She loathed it nearly as much as she did the darkness she could still feel inside of her, itching to come out and play. The only one, aside from Angel, who had seen past that mask she'd put on had been Robin. She was slowly starting to see that Buffy was looking at her that way now, as were the others. It made her nervous since she didn't know how to just be herself anymore. She didn't even know who she was, or who she'd become if she continued down this path she was on.
She didn't bother to go downstairs at all, she just closed the window, shut the blinds, and crawled into bed. This wasn't who she was either, but it was who she wanted to be for the time being. After saving the world, she deserved as much downtime as she needed. It was just too bad nobody else seemed to think that way. Despite not being completely exhausted, she managed to drift in and out of a light sleep for most of the day.
By that night her body was itching to get out there, itching to slay, to dance, to drink, to find someone to fuck, yet she knew the last three things would have to be scratched off the list. Responsibility had never been so hard. She'd never actually cared what others thought about her and the things she did, but after the last day and night she did care. She cared too much and she hated it. This wasn't who she was, she didn't feel guilty or feel that it was wrong to want to go out and do what she was used to doing. She grabbed her jacket and headed downstairs, fuming and trying to put on a forced laid back smile when she nearly ran into Buffy and Kennedy on her way out the door.
"Where are you going?" Buffy asked as she quickly grabbed her jacket and followed Faith outside. "Faith?"
"Could you wait up?" Kennedy nearly shouted, struggling to put her boots on as she walked out the door. Faith stopped at the end of the driveway with Buffy standing a little too close to her for comfort and waited for Kennedy to get a move on. "Sorry, jeez. What's the big rush?"
"Just itching to get out," Faith replied as the three of them headed for the same cemetery they'd first gone to the night before.
She saw the look that Kennedy and Buffy exchanged, but she ignored it as she walked ahead of them. She ignored the quiet conversation the two were having and got lost in her own thoughts, her own urges that kept her walking past the cemetery and towards the club she'd been to the first night they were in town. Buffy was the first to catch up to her, grabbing onto her arm and forcing her to stop.
"What the hell are you doing?"
"I need a drink."
"Faith, we need to patrol first."
"Whatever," she said as she grabbed Buffy's wrist and forced her hand away from her arm. "You two can cover for me for an hour, can't ya?"
"Faith, just stop!" Buffy said through clenched teeth. "What's the matter with you?"
"We need to..."
"We don't need to do anything. What I need you to do is either join me for drinks, cover me on patrol, or just leave me the fuck alone, all right? Your choice."
"One drink wouldn't hurt, Buffy," Kennedy said softly, smiling over at Faith. "Come on. You can't stand there and tell us that we don't deserve to have a little bit of fun after all we've done lately, right? We saved the fucking world, didn't we? We deserve to have fun."
"She's right, B. Come on, pull that stick outta your ass and have a little fun!"
"I do not have a stick up my ass!"
"You do!" Kennedy laughed as she stood next to Faith, both of them watching the frustration, the anger, and then the amusement flicker over Buffy's face. "Prove us wrong then."
"And how am I supposed to do that?"
Faith chuckled as she reached for Buffy's hand and pulled her towards the line that led to the club. She dragged Buffy to the front of the line and smiled ever so sweetly at the bouncer, who obviously recognized her from the other night. He let the three of them in without question and without even having to pay the cover charge. Faith and Kennedy dragged Buffy through the packed club towards the bar, ignoring her half-hearted protests. They weren't exactly dressed to be there at the club, but they didn't seem to care as Faith led them around to a table near the bar and they sat down.
"What'll you have, B?"
"Faith, you brought me to a gay bar?" Buffy asked in a hushed whisper as she glanced furtively around the club, looking rather nervous at the amount of same sex couples dancing on the dance floor together.
"Nah," Faith replied, shaking her head as she motioned for the server near the bar to come over. "It's just gay friendly, B. Don't stress over it."
"We should all have a girls' night one night. Willow would love it here," Kennedy said with a smile as the server approached the table.
"Three shots of Jack and three beers, something light," Faith said to the server, a woman barely in her twenties that Faith had recognized from the other night as the other half of the couple she'd slept with. She didn't let that realization show in her eyes as she let the woman look her up and down before she wrote the order down on her little pad of paper and walked away.
"Did you see the way she looked at you?" Kennedy asked as she leaned over and the two watched her walk away. "She looked at you like she wanted to fuck you and punch you at the same time."
"Probably wanted seconds," Faith replied, winking at Kennedy who just grinned widely at her. "I don't do seconds."
"Seconds?" Buffy asked, having no idea what they were talking about. "Seconds for what?"
Faith laughed and shook her head as the woman walked back over to the table with their drinks on a tray. She smiled uneasily at Faith as she slid a napkin into Faith's hand before she walked away. She looked down and saw her number and a name, Julie, written down on it. Kennedy looked over and smirked as Faith crumpled the napkin up and tossed it to the floor.
"Did she just give you her number?" Buffy asked, raising an eyebrow as Faith nonchalantly shrugged her shoulders. "Why would she...oh. I get it now."
"Was she any good?" Kennedy asked as she lifted her shot glass, waiting for Buffy and Faith to lift theirs before they all took them back at the same time. "Or was she just bad despite how banging she looks?"
"Well, her boyfriend wasn't bad. I give her props for her enthusiasm in...y'know," Faith said as she clicked her tongue against her teeth.
"You had a threesome?" Buffy said quietly, her voice a little high as the shock settled in.
"Jealous?" Faith chuckled as she took a sip of her beer. "So, now that we've wandered into the topic of sex, tell me something, Buffy. Have you ever had a threesome?"
"You ever wanted to?"
"Oh god, I am not talking about this!"
"That means yes," Faith said quietly to Kennedy as Buffy's face flushed a deep red. "What about you, Ken?"
"I have, but not with a man in the mix," she replied, smiling over at Buffy who flushed an even deeper red at that. "Oh, don't worry Buffy, it wasn't with Willow. This was long before I came to Sunnydale."
"Can we not talk about this?" Buffy muttered as she looked down at the beer bottle she clutched rather tightly with both hands. "This goes way beyond my comfort zone."
"Hey, you wanted to prove to us that you didn't have a stick up your ass," Faith said, trying hard to keep a straight face and finding it next to impossible as she let a small laugh escape.
They sat there and drank their beer, none of them saying a word after that. They left before the crowded club got even busier and headed straight for the cemetery. Buffy kept looking at Faith, her eyes searching for Faith's and never once able to hold her gaze for more than a second at a time. Faith knew that she wanted to talk about what had been talked about in the club and she knew that Buffy was having a hard time finding a way to talk about it. Faith could only chuckle to herself every so often. She stopped walking and sat down on the bench at the side of the gravel path.
"What'd you stop for?" Kennedy asked as she stood in front of her for a moment before she shrugged and sat down next to her. "I don't feel that buzz like the other night."
"Does that mean it's going to be a slow night?"
"Dunno, Ken. Can't blow off patrol just cos it feels like it could be a slow night," Faith replied softly, seeing Buffy smile a little as she walked over and joined them on the bench. "Right, B?"
"Right," she nodded, smiling as she looked up at the stars in the sky. "Wait a minute, did you just..."
"What?" Faith smirked as she nudged Buffy's shoulder with her own. "Y'know, I can have a little fun and be responsible in the same night."
"Yeah, I can see that."
"Let's move on to the next area," Faith said as she stood up from the bench. "I'm kind of thinking word has gotten out about this place and us. Gonna have to find a way to track down the word that floats around about the underground."
"And how do you propose we do that?" Buffy asked, standing up and moving to stand next to her.
"Find ourselves a snitch," Faith replied. "Got to be at least one around here. The trick is in trying to figure out where to find `em."
Kennedy groaned as she got up and followed them out of the cemetery. Faith stopped for a moment, feeling out the energy coming from the Hellmouth and the energy coming from Buffy. She tried to focus on just one, the Hellmouth, and let it lead her to the next cemetery several blocks away. She fell behind, kind of listening in to Buffy and Kennedy's quiet conversation about planning a night out at least once a week just for fun. Faith's eyes were darting all over the dark cemetery, searching for what she knew was out there waiting for them, hoping to see them first before they were sought out and hunted down like animals.
This was the part of slaying she'd missed the most while she'd been in prison, the hunting part of it all. Sure, the vampires and the demons thought they were the hunter, but in Faith's mind, they were the prey. She tried to stay close to Buffy and Kennedy as she gripped onto her stake, ready to reach for the knife she had strapped to her shin just above her ankle and hidden under her jeans.
She stopped when she felt it. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Buffy stop too and she knew that she could feel it also. The evil, the darkness, just creeping along as if it belonged there. They moved to stand on either side of Kennedy, both of them prepared to protect her if she couldn't protect herself.
"What is it?" Kennedy asked faintly as she reached for her stake and held it tightly. "Faith? Buffy?"
"Shut up," Faith snapped as her eyes darted around the shadows, trying to find the ones that moved, the ones that didn't belong. "First rule of slaying..."
"Don't speak unless you want to attract whatever is out there to you quicker, before you even figure out what it is," Faith said softly, she and Buffy sharing a small, knowing smile when Kennedy only scoffed in reply. "Uh, B?"
Faith stood there as three large demons stepped out of the shadows. Buffy gulped as she leaned in to whisper to Kennedy to get out of there as quickly as she could. Faith reached for her knife and tossed it to Buffy without a second thought. Kennedy didn't listen, she just stood there stock still.
"What? Always come prepared, B."
"And what are you going to use?"
"I'll uh, compromise. Come up with something creative. I don't know. I'll figure something out. These guys are butt fuckin' ugly. The question is...can they actually fight?"
"We'll find out," Buffy replied, looking over at her for a moment. "Kennedy..."
The demons attacked and they each fought with all that they had. Faith snapped the neck of hers almost instantly, the demons proving that, despite how big they were, they weren't fighters. She got up and ran to help Kennedy, knowing she couldn't take it alone. She wasn't trained nearly enough and it was so clear in the way she tried to throw her punches. Faith groaned as she leapt on the demon's back and quickly snapped its neck. She leapt off before it fell to the ground, looking over at Buffy who had just snapped the neck of the demon she'd been fighting.
"Goddamn," Faith breathed out as Buffy handed the knife back to her. "Quick fight."
"Are you two actually complaining that it was too easy?" Kennedy asked, rolling her eyes as she leaned against the tree next to her. "I can't believe it. Either it's too easy or it's too hard. I'd be happy that it was easy this time around."
Both of them shrugged as they started walking down the gravel pathway towards the entrance. Faith could still feel her heart racing, her breath catching in her chest when she tried to breathe normally. It was a quick slay, but it had rendered all three of them nearly breathless. They walked back to the house quickly, Kennedy going on and on about how lame it was that they had to go back and report to Giles right away. Rather than explain to her why, Faith told her to go off and find Willow, breathing out a sigh of relief when she took off up the stairs without another word.
They found Giles sitting in the living room looking over the evening paper as he lounged on the armchair. Faith sat in the other as Buffy explained to him about the demons they had come across. Faith was barely listening. She was fighting the urge to have a cigarette and trying to ignore the softest sighs and moans she could hear coming from upstairs. She shifted in the chair a little bit, trying to get comfortable as she tried not to let the sounds get to her.
After half an hour, she'd had enough. She apologized to Buffy and Giles as she walked out, promising them she'd get caught up on their theories about the demons they'd faced when she got back in the morning. She walked quickly to the club and slipped around the back alley, waiting for the back door to open before she slipped inside and went off in search of the server, Julie. She sat herself at the bar and looked around. She wished she hadn't tossed her number or else she could have just waited until later, given her a call from the payphone outside her and her boyfriend's apartment, and set up a second hook-up with the two of them.
She didn't do seconds, ever, but she didn't care this time around. She needed an easy lay and what was easier than one she'd landed once before? She flashed Julie her sexiest smile as she walked past with a tray of empty glasses. They exchanged a look and it was all it took, no words needed. Words in situations such as this were nearly useless as so much more was said with just a single look. She went to the staff bathrooms and waited for nearly five minutes before Julie came back.
"Just you and me this time?" Faith asked softly as Julie pulled her into the small supply closet.
"Yes, it's just you and me this time," she breathed out as she kicked the door shut and jumped into Faith's arms, crushing her lips against Faith's before another word was spoken.
Faith lost herself then, as she always did. Her mind just drifted off and she caught back up with it once she was out of the club and lighting up a cigarette while she fixed her belt buckle. She slipped the napkin with the phone number into her pocket this time, figuring she'd give Julie another go if she couldn't find anyone else that would scratch her itch quite as well as she did. She shrugged off the sudden wave of guilt that washed over her as she walked through the alley towards the street. She had no reason to feel guilty. This was what she did, this was who she was, and this was who she'd always be.
She pushed out the thoughts of the talk she'd had with Buffy on the short yet seemingly never-ending walk back to the house. However, she couldn't get rid of those thoughts as easily as she would have been able to before. Something had changed since the night before, maybe even before that, and she couldn't quite put her finger on just what, or why. She stood at the end of the driveway and stared up at the house for the longest time, feeling out of place and feeling that sense of home all at the same time. She hated feeling this way. She hated bouncing back and forth, never finding the right path to go along and always finding her way back to where she'd been before. The one other thing she hated was the fact that no matter how much she wanted to change who she was, there'd always be one part of her that would stay the same.
There were just some parts of her she'd never be able to change and what she'd just done with that server at the club was one of those things. She couldn't just stop being who she was even though she knew she could begin to change pieces of her life wherever it mattered to her the most. She ran a shaky hand through her hair as she walked up to the front door and let herself in. With a sigh of relief that nobody was awake, she closed and locked the door behind her before heading upstairs to take a quick shower before she went to sleep. And she tried so hard not to let the guilt get to her, but it was impossible when Buffy opened her bedroom door and just looked at her. The disappointment in her eyes said more than words could say.
And just like that the door was closed and she knew that once again they were back to square one.
By morning, Faith had pushed aside the events from the night before, acting as if nothing had changed, as if nothing had happened. It was what she was used to doing and it was one of the masks she always put on. She expected to be the first one awake, yet wasn't surprised to walk into the kitchen to find Buffy already there and trying to figure out how the coffeemaker worked. Faith was about to point out that it wasn't plugged in when Buffy rolled her eyes and reached for the plug herself. There was tension between them, familiar tension along with something else, something new.
Faith tried not to let Buffy's apparent bad mood get to her as she grabbed the orange juice out of the fridge and quickly poured herself a glass, offering some to Buffy who just shook her head no and flipped through the paper she had laid out on the counter. Faith knew she was avoiding looking at her, but she wasn't sure why. She knew it had to do with whatever happened last night and with that look she'd seen Buffy give her, the look that brought them right back to square one. Before she could even say a word, Giles walked into the kitchen and mumbled his good morning under his breath as he filled up the kettle and placed it on the stove.
She listened as Giles and Buffy quietly discussed a plan for regular training. She couldn't stop herself from staring over at Buffy, her eyes drinking in every inch of her without being too obvious she was checking her out. She was allowing her libido to take over and finding it nearly impossible to control it any longer. She closed her eyes and brought her hands up to rub her throbbing temples, trying to pay attention to what Giles was saying instead of listening to the rapid beats of her heart thumping in her head. She grabbed a clean mug and poured herself a cup of coffee, still trying to listen as the two of them discussed training and patrol schedules.
It wasn't long before everyone was awake and in the kitchen. Faith just poured herself another cup of coffee and headed out back to sit at the picnic table with hopes that maybe she'd be able to sit out there alone in peace and quiet for a little while. She realized her wishes had gone unheard by the Powers that Be when she heard the unmistakeable sounds of Kennedy and Willow's laughter as they walked out of the house and headed towards her with the others following close behind carrying coffee and plates of food.
Faith just grabbed her mug and moved to go sit around the other side of the tree on the ground, laughing to herself as Kennedy walked around and sat down next to her. "You really don't know when someone wants to be left alone, do you?"
"Oh, you want...I'll just..."
"What did you want, Ken?"
"I kind of wanted to talk about last night, but if now isn't a good time, seeing how you are in a bitchy mood and all, I'll just..."
Faith stopped her from getting up and let out a soft sigh. "What about last night?"
"Where'd you go?" Kennedy asked quietly, then raised an eyebrow at Faith when she only shrugged. "You went back to the club, didn't you?"
"Yeah. Hearing you and Red go at it kinda just...drove me a little nuts."
"You were...oh...great," Kennedy laughed as she leaned against the tree next to her. "Just don't let her know you heard us. She'll get all wiggy over it all."
"Yeah, definitely not gonna say a word. Kind of afraid of what she'd do to me," Faith chuckled as she glanced over at Willow sitting around the table with the others. "She might not look scary, but I heard stories of what it was like when she got into the dark magic for awhile."
"I heard the stories too," Kennedy said quietly as Faith turned to look back at her. "Have you heard about the training schedule Giles wants us on?"
"Yeah, heard bits of it earlier."
"Isn't it a little...too much?"
"Nah, you'll get used to it. Trust me, you'll be very fucking thankful for the long hours of training you'll put yourself through on those nights when the baddies are coming at ya left and right with no end in sight."
Faith barely recognized herself for saying that, but she felt Buffy's eyes on her just then. She didn't even need to turn and look to confirm it. She just knew. She shrugged as she looked over at Kennedy and took a sip of her coffee. She might not be able to change everything about herself, but she knew where her responsibilities lay within the group. She was a Slayer and she knew where she belonged in the world as a Slayer, but as a woman, as Faith Lehane, she didn't know where she belonged at all. It had always been that way and she knew it was stupid to think that things could change that easily.
She pulled her cigarettes from her front pocket and offered Kennedy one. She shook her head, refusing, and Faith shrugged and lit her cigarette, inhaling deeply as she leaned her head back against the tree. The morning sun was warm, warmer than it'd been since they had left California, and she knew everyone was enjoying the warmth and the soft, barely there breeze. She felt it again, just sitting out there with everyone else, that sense of home, of acceptance, of belonging, but it only lasted for a few short seconds before she slammed up those walls of hers, fearing the same thing as always would happen yet again. She closed her eyes, trying to find her center somewhere among all the chaos of voices inside her head and when she opened her eyes she felt a sense of calm wash over her, fill her, and ease her tired mind of the thoughts that just wouldn't go away.
She got to thinking about the things Buffy had said to her the other night, about them being a family now. She was starting to see it and feel it just being out there with everyone and she found it easier than she'd thought to let the sound of laughter wrap itself around her and make her smile. However, it was Buffy's smile, when they finally did look at one another, that made her heart skip a beat or two, that smile that made the rest of the world just fall away until all she saw was her.
"You're falling for her, aren't you?" Kennedy whispered softly as she leaned in closer to her. "Don't even try to tell me you aren't. Anyone with eyes can see it."
"What the fuck ever, Ken," she sighed as she took yet another long drag of her cigarette, her eyes not once leaving Buffy as she watched her animatedly talk to Willow and Dawn. "So what if I am?"
"Wait, correction," Kennedy chuckled softly. "You're falling for her again, aren't you?"
"Already fell pretty fuckin' hard," Faith replied, figuring it was better just to admit it than try to deny it as she always had in the past. Denying it had gotten her into trouble; it had pushed her into the darkness. "It ain't like it matters how I feel about her. She's never gonna feel the same way and besides, she's too good to ever be with someone like me. And, in case ya haven't noticed," she said softly as she tore her eyes off of Buffy to look at Kennedy, "she's straight. Very straight."
"You sure about that?" Kennedy asked softly, raising an eyebrow in disbelief when Faith only nodded her head. "I think you need to take another look, Faith."
"Believe me. I've looked and I've looked again and I always seem the same thing."
"Look just a little bit differently."
"Whatever, Kennedy. I don't want to talk about this. I don't even know why we're talking about this in the first place."
Kennedy gave her a wink and a smile as she stood up and joined the others around the table. Faith watched as Kennedy whispered something to Willow that made her eyes open wide in shock as she looked over at Faith. Rather than feeling the need to kill Kennedy for probably telling Willow that she was falling for Buffy, that she had already fallen for her, she just let it slide. She couldn't care less if anyone knew, since it was obvious to anyone with eyes, as Kennedy had so blatantly pointed out to her. Obvious to everyone but Buffy, it seemed.
Now things started to make a little more sense to her, at least when it came to their rocky history and the rough start they'd had trying to establish a friendship. There was a mutual attraction, at least on some level, and that alone was creating a bit of a rift they had to both get past. It was what sent her mind into overdrive, made her want to push those thoughts out and run as far and fast as she could away from them. It was what made her just want to fall back into old habits since they were easier to deal with than what she was going through when it came to her feelings for Buffy. She wanted to push all those feelings aside, knowing if she didn't, everything would become awkward and once the awkwardness had passed, the darkness would find a way to come back and take over her life yet again.
"We all make mistakes and we all push others away, but that's what makes us human. All too human."
Robin's words were still haunting her, that one line in particular. He'd been right and not just when he'd said that, but he'd been right about everything. It made her almost want to let the tears she felt building up fall, but she held them back as she crushed out her cigarette in the dirt next to her and closed her eyes. She'd never felt so much before, never thought so much, either. If she was there alone she'd blame the energy coming from the Hellmouth for her strange behaviour, but she wasn't alone and she knew that a lot of it had to do with the people she was surrounded by now. People that she'd never been accepted by before and were now welcoming her into the fold with their arms wide open. She knew even if Robin was there, even if the two of them went off on their own, it'd still be the same.
Faith opened her eyes slowly, tilting her head just enough to look back at the others sitting around the table. She wanted to join them, join in on the laughter that flowed through each and every one of them. She wanted to actually feel like she was a part of the family they'd created. It wouldn't happen instantly, she knew that, and she knew that despite what Buffy had said to her, the others probably didn't quite feel the same way yet. She didn't even know why she cared so much about being a part of their family in the first place. Maybe it was because she'd never been before and it was that one thing she wanted whether she would ever admit it or not.
She finished off her coffee, slightly cold now with her having forgotten about it. She headed back inside quickly, just wanting to get another cup of coffee and slip out to the front to possibly have a few minutes alone. Buffy was right there before she even had a chance to pour herself a fresh cup, placing her mug on the counter as she smiled sweetly.
"Thanks," Buffy said softly as Faith poured her some coffee. "You've been awfully quiet this morning."
"Yeah," she shrugged as she picked up her mug and leaned against the counter.
"Just am. Why does it fucking matter?"
"I was just trying to make conversation, Faith. Forget that I even bothered."
"Sorry. I'm just in a weird mood today. Didn't mean to...take it out on you. We're okay, aren't we?"
"Since when weren't we?"
"Dunno," she shrugged. "Kind of saw the way you looked at me last night. Not sure what it all meant either."
"I know where you went off to," Buffy said softly, unable to meet her eyes. "Don't you think it's time to change, Faith? That `get some, get gone' routine is getting old and honestly," she sighed as she turned to look at her, "honestly it makes you look like the big slut you always were."
"Is that supposed to hurt me, B? Cos I must say, ouch. Got me right where it hurts the most," she chuckled dryly as she clutched at her chest. "Does it make ya feel any better to know I haven't changed? Makes ya realize that you've probably been right all along about me, doesn't it?"
"I never...do we really have to do this, Faith?" Buffy asked tiredly as she turned to look at her, finally allowing herself to stare deeply into Faith's eyes as they stood just a few feet apart. "That `look' you saw last night was just disappointment because I thought maybe you'd changed, that maybe you'd figure out you don't need to be like that anymore. It was stupid to think that maybe you'd try to change that about yourself."
"It's one of those things I just can't change about myself," she shrugged. "Does my sex life bother you or something, B?"
"I'll try to be a little more discreet about it then, how about that? Does that work for ya? Kind of like that whole `don't ask, don't tell' deal."
"Why are we even...you know what, don't answer that," Buffy said as she shook her head, making no effort to move from where she leaned against the counter next to her. "I want to get past all these things with you, Faith. I feel like some stuff is really holding us back. It doesn't have to be that way."
"So, what way is it supposed to be then, B?"
"I don't know. Definitely not like this."
"How are we gonna change it then?" Faith asked softly as she slid a little closer to Buffy without realizing what she was doing. "We can't keep doing this."
"Doing what exactly?"
"Picking each other apart, waiting for that moment to find something just to..." Faith trailed off as she sighed softly. "Remember what you said about family, B?"
"What does that have to do with this?"
"Dunno, but my point is, I'm trying to feel like I'm a part of this family and for some fucked up reason I can't. I don't know if it's cos I'm not ready to feel like I'm a part of what you guys all have, or what. I think I still feel like I'm not good enough for you."
The last part was whispered so softly she'd barely even heard her own words. It was laced with a double meaning and she knew that Buffy picked up on it. She could feel it coming from her as their eyes slowly met. Faith fought that urge to step forward and lean down to capture Buffy's lips with her own, to kiss her and to use her lips to say the words she couldn't say through a kiss. She couldn't do it, though. It'd destroy whatever little bit of a friendship they'd managed to piece together. It was fragile and something as big as a kiss would shatter any hopes of having a real, strong friendship with one another.
She looked at her differently, as Kennedy had said before to do, and she saw it, just a little. She saw something there, but it quickly disappeared as the others came back inside. She'd let her thoughts consume her and she tried to shake the vulnerability off as Giles explained to her that she'd be spending the rest of the morning and most of the afternoon down in the basement helping Buffy train Kennedy. Buffy could barely even look at her as the two of them headed down to the basement with Kennedy trailing behind them, mumbling under her breath how much she thought it sucked to have to be stuck training inside all day when it was such a beautiful day outside.
Faith set up the mats along the floor, unable to stop herself from looking over at Buffy as she and Kennedy stretched out along the mats that were already laid out. She groaned softly as she began her own stretches, knowing it was going to be a long couple of torturous hours down there in the basement. Between her attraction to Buffy—that only ever seemed to grow worse when they were training or out on patrol—and the fact that Kennedy was picking up on it, she was in for a very interesting day.
The three of them were laid out on the mats, panting heavily from the latest round of three-way sparring they'd done. Kennedy had been a quick learner, picking up on both Buffy and Faith's moves after watching them have a quick round together. Giles had come down to monitor their training an hour before and left when he knew that Buffy and Faith had it all under control.
"Is it going to be like this every day, is it?" Kennedy asked as she pulled herself up from the mats and tried to stretch out standing up. "Because I have to say, damn."
"No, this is just..." Buffy sighed as she leaned up on her elbows and looked over at Faith. "A couple days here without any training and we're already out of shape."
"Yeah," Faith chuckled as she made no effort to move. "Don't worry, Ken. It'll get easier."
"Whatever," she laughed with her as she headed for the stairs. "We're done, right?"
"Yeah, we're done," Faith nodded as she turned to look at Buffy next to her. "We are done, right?"
Buffy nodded as she laid back on the mats and closed her eyes. Faith waited until Kennedy had gone up the stairs and closed the basement door before she sat up slowly and looked down at Buffy, wiggling her eyebrows as she leapt to her feet and pulled Buffy up before she could even blink.
"Feel like another round, B?"
"Why not? Still feeling all sorts of worked up," Faith said with a smirk as she stepped back and stood in her fighting stance, ready for more. "Come on, y'know ya want to. I can just taste that you haven't had enough yet, B."
"I don't know," Buffy said as she smiled a little as she moved to her fight stance as the two began to slowly circle one another. "You think you can take me?"
"I can always take you," she chuckled as she picked up the pace, trying to find a way to throw the first move without Buffy seeing it coming first. "The question is, B, can you take me?"
"I know I can. The real question is," Buffy mocked as she swept her leg around, catching Faith off guard and sending her flat on her back down on the mats, "now do you think that you can take me?"
"It's gonna be like that, is it?" Faith laughed as she stood up slowly, licking her lips as she waited in anticipation for more. They both stopped circling one another as the basement door opened and Giles called them upstairs. "Gonna have to continue this another time, huh?"
"Yeah," Buffy nodded, her voice tinged with a mix of both disappointment and relief. "I think he's probably afraid if we're down here alone we'll end up trying to kill each other."
Faith stayed back and watched Buffy walk up the stairs, sighing heavily as she tried to stop the flood of lascivious thoughts that were now running rampant through her mind. It was hard with the adrenaline running through her body from the workout she'd just had, but she took a few deep breaths, burying the thoughts she had of fucking Buffy on the floor, up against the wall, taking her in ways she'd never been taken before, and headed upstairs. She knew she really had to stop those thoughts from coming to her. They were becoming more vivid and harder to control each and every time she allowed them to take over. It was what had ruined everything for her before and even though she'd once thought she could manage to hide the way she felt and the things she thought, she knew it was transparent now. If Kennedy could see it, Buffy surely could.
Giles was waiting for them in the living room and from the dozens of books scattered over the coffee table Faith knew there was something going on. He wasted no time in starting the meeting, explaining how they'd need to find out the exact location of the Hellmouth before it got too late. With the Council having been destroyed along with almost all the records they kept, Giles didn't know where the Hellmouth was located. Faith could see how nervous that made him despite the way he tried to keep his confidence that, between all of them, they'd find it sooner rather than later.
Andrew had his share of theories and he ran them off, one by one. Faith just sat in the chair she favoured most and listened with as much enthusiasm as she could. Her eyes wandered over the room, falling upon Buffy as she sat on the couch next to Willow and Xander. By the time the short meeting was over, Faith was already running up the stairs to have a quick shower. Buffy wasn't too far behind her and they both made a mad dash for the second bathroom while Kennedy ran for the other.
"Come on!" Buffy growled as she tried to pull Faith away from the door. "I was so here first!"
"In your dreams, Twinkie. I'll save some hot water for you," Faith laughed as she slipped into the bathroom and quickly shut and locked the door behind her. She heard Buffy kick the door and it only caused her to laugh again as she turned on the water, watching as the steam began to fill the small bathroom. "Keep it up and I'll make sure there's no hot water left!"
"You are so infuriating!" Buffy groaned as she kicked the door once more before she walked away.
Faith just shook her head, relaxing at the way things had changed between them over the course of the afternoon. She stripped out of her clothes and stepped under the hot spray of water, unable to wipe the smile off of her face. The small yet playful banter was slowly coming back between them. It'd been the odd jab there and a joke here while they'd been training and sparring with Kennedy. It felt too easy, too natural just to be that way around one another. Whatever had changed over the last week had changed again throughout the course of the day. She wasn't going to question it, instead she was only going to embrace it and allow things to continue changing between them.
She finished up in the shower quickly and headed straight for her room, knocking on Buffy's door as she passed to let her know the shower was free. Half an hour later everyone was down in the living room once again and going over the plans for patrol that night. They were all going out in search of the Hellmouth. Faith stood next to the couch, peering down at the map as the others discussed a route and ways to cover the city while searching for the Hellmouth.
"Guys," Faith said softly as she stared down at the map and the areas that had been highlighted in red. "Guys, seriously, look."
"What?" Xander said as he moved to stand next to her and peered down at the map. "No way."
"Yes way," she chuckled as she touched her finger to the center point between the four red areas. "Should be around here. Makes sense, right? I say we go right for that area, check it out before we go anywhere else. Something tells me we'll find it around there."
Giles peered over at the map and smiled up at Faith as he pulled out an old Watcher's diary from the stack of books he had near his chair. "You may be close, Faith. I'm not sure why we didn't see this before. It is rather obvious that the amount of activity would surround the Hellmouth itself."
"This is what I was saying before," Andrew said as he shook his head at all of them. "Nobody ever listens to me!"
"What's the plan then?" Faith asked, ignoring Andrew as she looked over at Buffy. "B? The plan?"
"You and I are going to check that area out. The others," she said as she looked around at everyone else, "are going to stay behind."
"What? Why?" Kennedy asked almost angrily as she stood up from the couch, the force of her rising nearly pulling Willow up with her. "We're supposed to be a team, Buffy."
"I know, but Faith and I can handle this ourselves."
"Whatever," Kennedy muttered as she sat back down and quietly apologized to a frazzled Willow.
"You two report back as soon as you can if you locate the Hellmouth," Giles said softly to both Buffy and Faith. "We'll cover the rest of the patrol areas ourselves. I know you two have heard it before, but please do be careful."
"Always am," Buffy smiled as she motioned for Faith to follow her. They opened up the front hallway closet and Faith just raised an eyebrow as Buffy slid open the panel at the back to reveal a rather wide selection of weapons. "What? While you've spent your days sleeping, we've been busy."
"So I can see," she laughed as she reached in and pulled out one of the crossbows. "Where'd ya get all this?"
"Sporting goods store. Now, pick something a little less bulky. It's not the same as Sunnydale and I highly doubt we'll be able to walk down the streets with weapons and not get stopped by the cops."
"What happened to the scythe?"
"Willow has it hidden in the basement," Buffy replied as she pulled out a couple of stakes and handed Faith one. "Giles is worried that we'll be targeted because of it. It may be even more powerful than we know and it's best kept hidden away for now."
"Too bad. It's a kick ass weapon. You can seriously demolish anything that stands in your way."
"We'll save it for the next apocalypse," Buffy said with a small smile as she closed the panel and stepped out of the closet. "You ready to head out?"
Faith nodded and said nothing more as she grabbed her jacket and opened the front door, smiling at Buffy as she walked out first. They barely said a word, barely looked at each other for the first couple of blocks they walked. The sun was still up, but it was close to setting and Faith could feel the energy from the Hellmouth buzzing more intensely the closer they got. They walked through a neighbourhood that was mostly full of abandoned houses and stores that were boarded up. It was eerily quiet and the only sounds were their footsteps as they walked down the sidewalk side by side.
She was getting a bad feeling about the neighbourhood the further they walked down the street. She looked over at Buffy, knowing she was getting the same feeling, and they came to a stop just outside an old boarded up store. The buzz of energy was more intense and Faith motioned for Buffy to follow her as she headed around to the back of the store and kicked in the door. There was dust everywhere.
"Nobody's been around here for a while," Faith said quietly as she looked back at Buffy.
"How do you know that?"
"The dust," she said as she pointed to the floor. "It's all even. Not a single footprint."
"And you are just going to walk in there without...Faith!" Buffy groaned as she followed Faith inside, grabbing onto her before she could open the door that lead down to the basement. "Stop and think about this for a minute."
"Empty store, empty neighbourhood," she said slowly and pointed down the stairs. "Hellmouth is down there, B. Can't you feel it?"
"I definitely feel something," Buffy said softly as she let go of Faith's arm. "Shouldn't we go back and tell Giles?"
"We should make sure we're right about it being here first, don't ya think?"
Buffy rolled her eyes but followed Faith down the steep stairs. Buffy was clutching onto Faith's arm by the fifth step, which was where the stairs gave way and sent them suddenly tumbling down the rest of the way into the dark basement. Faith groaned as she landed with Buffy on top of her, the wind slightly knocked out of her from the impact of the fall. She allowed herself a minute to let her eyes adjust to the darkness before she looked at Buffy. There was slight awkwardness as Buffy got up from on top of her and looked around the basement. Faith just stood back and watched as Buffy wandered around the dark basement until she found the only light and pulled on the flimsy cord. The single bare bulb barely lit up the empty, drab basement, but the evident hole dug in the ground was the one thing that stood out the most.
"I guess we found the Hellmouth," Buffy said softly as she moved to stand next to Faith.
"Yeah, guess we did."
"You okay?" Buffy asked as she looked at her, reaching for the arm Faith was clutching close to her.
"Just uh...the fall kind of shook me up," she replied, shaking it off as if it was no big deal despite the now very evident pain shooting through her left arm. "We're kind of screwed getting back up, though."
"Yeah," Buffy sighed out as she looked over at the broken stairs. "Great."
They both made their way around the basement and from what they both could tell, aside from the cement dug out around the seal, nothing else had been disturbed in a good long while. Faith went back to stand by the stairs, clutching at her sore arm and cursing under her breath, thankful she hadn't popped her shoulder on the fall down the stairs. She cracked her neck as she leaned against the wall and watched as Buffy knelt down next to the hole in the floor to inspect the seal. She let out a soft sigh as she walked back over to Faith and looked up to where the stairs had once been.
"We should probably get out of here," Buffy said softly as she looked at Faith and over at the gap in the stairs. "You want to give me a hand?"
Faith hoisted Buffy up before she could even say another word and once she was at the top of the stairs she reached down to pull Faith up with her. They tried to cover their tracks and any evidence that they'd been in there. There was no telling what was around there just waiting for them to leave. The Hellmouth was definitely out in the open, not particularly in your face open, but it was there. They knew that if they had come across it, anything else out there could as well, especially now that they'd disturbed the building the Hellmouth resided under.
They walked back to the house in silence, neither of them saying a word or looking at one another. Faith just rubbed her sore arm, trying not to make such a big deal out of how much it was bothering her. She also kept looking back behind them, feeling as if something was there following them, yet every time she looked back she saw nothing. Buffy continuously looked back as well and sighed out in annoyance about a block away from the house as she stopped, grasping Faith's arm and bringing her to a halt too.
"What gives, B?"
"You feel it too, don't you?"
"Feel what? Like something is following us?"
"Yeah...I think so."
"Well, there's nothing there," Faith shrugged as she looked back, still rubbing her arm lightly. "And watch the arm, B. Kind of fuckin' sore from when you landed on it before."
"So, what's the deal you think?"
"The Hellmouth just being out there the way it is and yet..."
"I have no idea."
Faith let out a soft sigh. She knew now wasn't the time for small talk—or any kind of talk for that matter—with Buffy. She could feel how anxious she was just to tell the others about the location of the Hellmouth. Faith was feeling uneasy about it. There was just something too easy about it all that didn't sit right with her. It didn't help that it had been a long day and she was, as usual, going on very little sleep. She was sure that it didn't help with that uneasiness she was feeling. They tracked Giles down about half a block from the house and, after rounding up the others, they headed for the abandoned store to show him the exact location of the Hellmouth. Faith stayed out back while the others went inside, rubbing her sore arm slowly while keeping an eye out on the shadows around her.
She spent about a half an hour listening to the others talking inside while Giles and Willow figured out if there was a mystical barrier already in place surrounding not just the Hellmouth itself, but the entire neighbourhood. To her it made complete sense that there was some sort of mystical barrier and it seemed like everyone but Giles seemed to agree with that theory. After a heated argument exploded between everyone inside, Buffy, followed by Xander, stormed out and stood next to Faith, shaking her head in disbelief.
"Sometimes they are just too goddamn stubborn for their own good," she muttered under her breath as she looked over at Faith. "You feel like heading to the cemetery for a quick patrol?"
"Nah, I'm good right now, B. Besides," she said softly as she motioned to the door behind them, "we should stick around just in case shit goes down. Feeling like something is completely off about this whole thing. I know that you feel it too."
"Feel what?" Xander asked as he looked over at both of them. "You mean besides the fact that it is completely creepy around here?"
"Tell me you feel it too, B. You did before," Faith said softly, wanting some kind of confirmation that she wasn't completely losing the last bits of her sanity.
"Something doesn't feel right," Buffy replied as she moved to stand a little closer to Faith, shivering as the breeze picked up. "It feels like something following us, maybe. There's definitely something at least watching us."
"Hold up," Xander said as he stepped closer to them, shivering as they looked up at him. "You telling me that something is out there following you and watching you? What, like ghosts or something?"
"Or something else we can't see," Buffy said as she reached out and lightly ran her fingers over Faith's arm. "How's your arm feeling?"
"What happened to your arm?" Xander asked, looking down at her as he scratched his forehead just above his eye patch. He took a step back when Faith didn't answer him and he shook his head as he leaned against the building. "All right, I get it. You don't want to talk. I'll just stand right here and let you Slayer types deal with whatever you gotta deal with."
Faith could only laugh as she went to stand next to him. "Buffy kind of landed on me earlier if ya gotta know all the details."
"She landed on you?"
"Stairs fell in, she fell with me. On top of me, whatever. And wherever your mind just went, Xand," she chuckled as she slapped him playfully across his shoulder, "you are completely on your own there."
"Wait, what?" Buffy asked, standing in front of both of them, a look of pure confusion flickering across her face. "You've completely lost me."
"That's okay, Buff," Xander smirked as he looked down at Faith, giving her a quick wink before he put his arm around Buffy. "I'll clue you in on the walk back to the house. It'll probably bore you, maybe make you laugh, but whatever you do, you gotta promise me one thing."
He leaned in to whisper something into her ear and Faith could only stand there leaning against the wall and watch as Buffy's eyes showed pure amusement, then a flash of anger as she pushed Xander away. Faith hadn't heard what he said to her, but she had an idea. If she didn't find it funny in her tired state of mind, she would have challenged Buffy over the right to kick his ass.
That one little moment, a light-hearted moment between friends, was all they really needed when it came down to the reality of their lives each and every day. The laughter that erupted between the two of them only made Faith smile and laugh right along with them. For now she'd lose herself to the silliness of the moment and laugh for whatever reason if not for any reason at all. After all, there was no telling what would happen or how long it'd be before they'd next spend a few moments like this.
For hours that night after discovering the Hellmouth, Faith tossed and turned in her bed, unable to sleep, unable to shake the feeling that she was being followed, that something out there was watching her. It was nearly four in the morning when she gave up on sleep and headed downstairs to make a pot of coffee. She wasn't surprised to find Buffy already sitting down at the kitchen table. She said nothing to her, only nodding in her general direction as she walked over to the coffeemaker and poured herself a cup from the half a pot that was left.
"Can't sleep either, can you?" Buffy asked softly as Faith leaned against the counter and took a sip of her coffee. "I can't...this is crazy, but I can't get rid of that feeling that..."
"Something is there?" Faith said as she waited for Buffy to answer. "It's fucked up how finding the Hellmouth has wigged us both."
"I'm not wigged, I'm just..."
"No!" Buffy sighed as she got up from the table. "Something doesn't feel right, Faith. You and I both can feel it. Giles and Willow can too, and the others...I don't know if they know that they're feeling it, but I know they are."
"You are definitely wigged, B."
"It's not just this whole thing that's bothering me," Buffy said as she poured herself a fresh cup of coffee and kept her back to Faith. "It's what Xander said to me earlier."
"What did he say?"
Faith didn't have to see Buffy's face to know she was blushing furiously. Instead of doing what she'd normally do and force it out of Buffy, she just waited for the moment to pass. Whatever Xander had said to Buffy had definitely been bothering her and despite the fact that she now was desperate to know what he'd said to her to cause such a reaction, she knew she'd find out sooner or later. She had a momentary flash of nervousness when she thought that maybe Kennedy had talked to Xander and told him about her feelings for Buffy. She quickly composed herself as Buffy turned to look at her, her cheeks just barely flushed as she looked at her.
"Aren't you gonna tell me what he said to you, B?" Faith asked, smirking when Buffy shook her head no. "That bad, huh?"
"Not bad just...unexpected," she shrugged as she looked away from Faith quickly. "I...I don't want to talk about it, okay?"
"I know I brought it up, but..."
"Whatever, B. It's not a fucking big deal that you don't or can't talk to me. Whatever it is it doesn't matter."
"You are right, though. This whole thing has gotten me wigged, the Hellmouth thing, not the thing with Xander," Buffy said quickly. "I don't know about you, but I'm used to restless nights and tonight just feels different than what I've gotten used to."
Faith knew all too well what she was getting at. She'd felt it since they found the Hellmouth and it'd only gotten worse by the time they'd gotten back to the house. She'd always felt restless and it wasn't just a Slayer thing. She never knew what it was like to just relax, to sleep without a care or single worry in the world. She was always on guard, ready for whatever would pop out from the shadows. She wanted to talk to Buffy about everything; she wanted to hear Buffy tell her she felt those same things, thought the same things as she did during those restless nights. They weren't there yet, at least not on that deep level of sharing. They were working on it, though, and Faith could admit that much without admitting she would literally lie down over a pit of fire just for Buffy.
It was thoughts like those that were going to end up with her in trouble and with feelings she thought she'd buried and stored away years ago. She couldn't help but stare into Buffy's eyes and search for some of the answers to the questions she feared to ask. The heat between them for just a split second was intense and Faith felt burned as she quickly looked away. She was losing whatever was left of her self-confidence and she wasn't sure what was going on or why she was suddenly acting like a schoolgirl with a crush. She blamed it on the events of the last couple of weeks, on coming back to Sunnydale to help them in the fight, on Robin and the mix of feelings she'd had for him even from just their quick rumble and tumble in Buffy's bed that one night.
But it was more than just the events of the last couple of weeks. It was her whole life and everything led to this one moment, this one small revelation she'd been avoiding since the day she first met Buffy years before. She couldn't let this get to her and ruin any little bit of a chance they had at finally having an actual friendship. Of course the other side of her, the side that revelled in the darkness, had to ask her why she even cared, why she even wanted a friendship with Buffy and the others. She was battling her inner demons, the light versus the dark—or the gray versus the dark, really, since she didn't have much `light' inside of her.
"Are you okay?" Buffy asked. "You keep kind of..."
"How's your arm feeling?"
"Like new, why?"
"Well," Buffy smiled as she put her mug down on the counter, "I was thinking we could get a few hours of training in. Just you and me, kind of like old times but not."
Faith shrugged nonchalantly, thinking for a moment, debating whether or not it was a good idea to take Buffy up on the offer to train together. It would only add fuel to the fire she was feeling inside of her, the fire that was just waiting for a spark to come roaring to life. She rubbed her forehead slowly, still thinking about it. They did need to train on a regular basis and despite the fact that it was early morning, she could already feel her muscles just aching for a good couple of hours of sparring. She nodded her head, fighting back the smile as Buffy's eyes lit up, her own fire sparking to life as she grabbed onto Faith's arm and pulled her towards the basement door.
"Jeez, B. If I would've known you were so enthusiastic about training..."
"Are you going to finish that?" Buffy asked as they walked down the basement stairs together. "And for your information, F," she paused, playful smile dancing over her lips as she turned to look at Faith while backing up towards the mats, "I am not enthusiastic about training in general, I'm just looking forward to having the chance to kick your ass without, you know, actually kicking your ass."
"You get off on kicking my ass, Twinkie?" Faith asked, winking when Buffy blushed a little at the words. "Totally knew ya had some..."
"Just stop it, Faith," Buffy said firmly, holding back the laughter as the two spread out on the mats and began to stretch out slowly. "You are infuriating, you know that?"
"Yeah, you told me that the other night. Besides, B, I can't help it. Razzing you is like the Olympics of teasing."
"Seriously, it's too easy sometimes."
"Well don't get too used to it, Faith. I'll find a way to get you back."
"Oh yeah?" Faith laughed, finding this much too fun to let it go. This playful banter was something she'd missed and from the look in Buffy's eyes, even just for the split second that Buffy allowed it to be shown clearly, she knew Buffy had missed it too. "You really honestly think that you can get me back? Bring it, B. Always did love a challenge."
Faith could feel that fire burning in the depths of her soul as she and Buffy began to circle one another. They hadn't had the chance to really spar one another and now that they did, Faith was growing excited at the opportunity to just let loose with someone who could easily match her strength and speed. It started off slowly; a kick here, a punch there, each one blocked with ease no matter who was on the receiving end. It wasn't a fight to the death, it was just two of them training, testing each other's reflexes. This went on for what felt like hours before they stopped, both of them sweating and out of breath, listening to the sounds of the others in the house beginning to start their day.
Faith could only sigh out in relief as she sat down on the mats before laying back. She closed her eyes as she stretched out her body, every inch of her tingling and feeling completely alive. Buffy was laid out on the mats a few feet away from her and neither of them spoke, too busy trying to catch their breath to think of saying a word to each other. Faith turned her head and opened her eyes, staring at Buffy as she lay there and concentrated on taking deep breaths to control her rapid breathing. She could hear Buffy's heart racing and she could almost feel the rapid pulse mixed with her own. It made her shiver and shudder for reasons unknown to her.
Buffy turned her head and looked over at her, a lazy smile forming over her lips as she took in a deep breath. Faith knew, in that moment, she'd never seen Buffy look quite the way she did now. She looked beautiful, as she always did, but there was something more there, something deeper. Faith tried to push those thoughts out, finding it harder as their eyes met and locked in a long, intense gaze. Something was definitely happening and Faith, being the coward she now knew she was quickly becoming, was too afraid to question it. Whatever moment they were sharing was shattered as soon as the basement door opened. Buffy was up and on her feet before Kennedy made it halfway down the stairs.
"Have you two been at it all morning?" Kennedy asked as she tossed them each a bottle of water.
"Pretty much," Faith replied as she slowly sat up and looked over at Buffy. "Neither of us could sleep, ya know how it is."
"You both couldn't sleep either?" Kennedy sighed as she sat down on the weight bench. "Willow thought I was just restless. She didn't believe me when I told her something is completely off about this whole thing."
"So it's not just us," Buffy said quietly as she looked back and forth between Faith and Kennedy. "There is definitely something going on. I don't like it."
"What do you think it is?" Kennedy asked. "I don't like this any more than you do, Buffy. Giles doesn't know anything, Willow doesn't believe me...she said I'm probably just feeling the energy from the mystical barriers around the Hellmouth, but I think it's more than that."
"It's definitely more than that," Faith said under her breath. "I could feel it long before we even got here."
"Feel what?" Buffy asked her as she went to sit on the mats near her. "What did you feel, Faith?"
"Pure evil. I don't know how to describe it, but I just know if it feels this way it can't be anything good. We might have to figure this one out ourselves."
"Looks like," Buffy sighed as she took a sip of her water. "You don't think it's...the First, do you?"
"We beat the First," Kennedy cut in. "How could it be back if we just..."
"We beat it, but we didn't kill it. You can't kill evil; you can only momentarily derail it."
Faith just lay back on the mats, listening to the two of them come up with their own theories of what was really going on there with the Hellmouth and why they were all feeling that uneasy restlessness since coming upon the seal the night before. Faith was still itching for more, her muscles aching yet craving to be pushed that much further. That familiar burn in the pit of her stomach took over and she groaned softly as she leaned up on her elbows. She was finding it next to impossible to take her eyes off of Buffy, watching her as she and Kennedy continued to talk.
She stood up and left the two of them down there alone to talk while she allowed herself to be lured upstairs by the smell of freshly brewed coffee. She grabbed a mug and poured herself a cup before joining Giles and Willow at the table. They were going over the books spread out on the table and she glanced at the one closest to her, raising an eyebrow when she couldn't read a single word on the page.
"What are you two researching?"
"Spells," Willow said with a soft smile. "We're trying to figure out what kind of mystical barrier has been set up around the Hellmouth. It's very strong. I've never felt anything quite like it before."
"You don't think it has anything to do with the way we're feeling? I mean here I thought it was only me feeling restless with all the energy I can feel around here, but it's not. Buffy and Ken are feeling it too and it's only gotten worse since last night."
"Are you unable to sleep?" Giles asked tiredly, looking over at her for a moment before closing the book he had open in front of him. "Do you feel as if you are riddled with endless energy and yet at the same time you feel drained?"
"Pretty much," she nodded. "Do you know why we're feeling like this? Cos I gotta tell ya, G, after me and Buffy found the seal last night, it's just gotten worse."
"Worse how? Please explain," he said as he removed his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose. "It is imperative that we know all we can to further help us with whatever it is we are dealing with."
"After we found the seal and were on our way back to find you guys, I don't know, it just felt like something was there following us, watching us. Whatever it is, it's kept me awake all night. I feel drained and yet at the same time I feel like I can go out there and kick some ass. I just get this feeling that something is wrong. Buffy and Ken are downstairs discussing this right now, trying to figure it out for themselves."
Giles pulled a thick book from the bottom of the pile in front of him and furiously flipped through the pages. Faith sighed as she sat back on the chair and sipped her coffee, watching as Willow just stared at her long and hard for a moment before she reached out and stopped Giles from flipping through the pages.
"Ghosts of the past," Willow said softly. "That's what it is."
"Are you sure?" Giles asked, letting out a soft breath as his hands trembled slightly.
"Ghosts of the past?" Faith asked, looking at both of them as if they'd lost their minds. "What the fuck are you talking about?"
"It's rare, a phenomenon of sorts. I've read of this before. Only a very few Slayers ever experienced it, and then only if they'd been to more than one Hellmouth. The details are scarce, but I believe that after Sunnydale and being inside the Hellmouth, being near another one so soon has brought on this phenomenon."
"Is it dangerous?"
"Not if you don't let it get to you," Willow cut in. "They aren't actual ghosts, you know? More like...Giles, help me out here."
"Ghosts of your subconscious trying to bring out the demon inside of you. As you know the Slayer is..."
"I've heard this all before," Faith said as she stopped him from continuing. "So these `ghosts' are just like our subconscious then? Can't be too bad."
"I've explained it poorly," Giles said softly as he took a few deep, steady breaths. "There is actually no one way to explain what you are experiencing and what you will continue to experience."
"Will it go away?"
"Fuck," Faith muttered as she stared down into her mug before she took a sip. "Is it gonna be dangerous for us, though? I mean, I know what my subconscious is like. You all do. I don't want to go back to that."
"You won't," Willow said as she offered her a sweet smile. "You won't because none of us will let that happen again."
"Thanks," Faith smiled back at her, finding it oddly comforting to hear that coming from Willow.
It reminded her of the drive from LA to Sunnydale, the things they'd talked about and the way that Willow just seemed to forgive her, just like that, for all the wrong and the bad that had happened in the past. She could never see herself being friends with Willow, they were just far too different, but just for a moment, a fraction of a second there, she knew that they had one shred of common ground between them.
"If you are going to sit here with us, you might as well make yourself useful." Willow handed her one of the lighter, thinner books. "Don't worry, it's in English. Mostly."
"Great," Faith laughed as she took a few sips of her coffee and ignored the look Giles gave her when she tossed the book haphazardly on the table in front of her and slouched further in her chair. "What? I don't do research. I am a Slayer. I do the ass kicking thing, not the book thing."
Willow rolled her eyes as she got up to get herself another cup of coffee. Faith just chuckled softly as she made herself comfortable in the chair and glanced down at the book Willow had given her. It was one of the Watcher's diaries, she recognized that much, and the date on the first page was almost a hundred years ago. She shrugged as she picked up the book and quickly read through the first page. There was no name, just dates and certain events written down. The parallels between what happened over a hundred years ago and what had happened throughout her time as a slayer were extremely close to being exactly the same.
She skimmed over the scribbled writing, every other word barely readable with the faded ink against the yellowed pages. The slayer that had been written about, she'd been alive for nearly ten years. That much Faith could pick up on. She'd been to three Hellmouths, beginning to hear voices with her relocation to the second one, along with the feeling of being watched. Faith groaned as she closed the book when it ended abruptly, the rest of the pages blank aside from an address written on the last page.
"Well, we're definitely not the first to feel this," she said under her breath, mostly to herself even though she knew that Giles and Willow were listening to her. "How'd you get most of these books? Didn't they all get swallowed up with the rest of Sunnydale?"
"Unlike everyone else, I was prepared for the worst to happen. I had every text I had shipped out days before the fight began," Giles replied. "Unfortunately, just like everyone else, I neglected to pack other necessities."
Faith laughed as she grabbed her nearly empty mug and stood up slowly. "Hey, we all make mistakes, right? Can't always do everything perfect first go around. I'm living fuckin' proof of that."
"Indeed you are," Giles smiled warmly at her as she made her way to the coffeemaker and poured herself a fresh cup. "I know it has only barely been two weeks since Sunnydale, but how are you holding everything together, Faith?"
"Honestly? I'm just barely managing to get through each day here, y'know?," she sighed as she leaned against the counter, feeling slightly uncomfortable talking to Giles. Willow was staring at her, but she didn't let it get to her. "I should probably call Angel later, touch base with him. I'm sure he'd just love to know the deal with everything here."
"You mean about the Hellmouth? I've already talked to him," Willow said as she looked back at Giles. "We talked to him I should say. He did ask about you."
"Oh yeah? What'd he say?"
"He wanted to know if you were all sane-girl now and not all grr-argh again," Willow chuckled uneasily as she quickly looked away from her. "Of course I told him everything was great, peachy even, but I don't think he believed me."
"Yeah, why would he, right?" Faith said softly as she shook her head. "It's not like it fucking matters. He's helped me out. Got the ball rolling on the whole redemption deal. It's all up to me to keep it going. Figure I've been doing okay so far."
"You've been doing wonderfully considering the circumstances, Faith. You should be proud of how far you come in such little time." Giles had a genuine smile across his face as he just looked over at her. She smiled right back at him, wishing she was the type to randomly hug others at moments like this, but she wasn't and she was glad that they both knew it too. "Now, as for this phenomenon you've been experiencing, if anything changes and if it gets worse, I need for you to immediately inform one of us."
"Will do," Faith nodded and took a sip of her coffee before stifling a yawn. "I'm gonna get some sleep, or at least try. Don't wake me unless, y'know, apocalypse is coming, or we're under attack, or whatever."
"Faith, don't joke about those things!" Willow hissed at her. She wore a pained look laced with traces of fear, something Faith had only ever seen once before, and it brought back memories, slivers of flashbacks she'd rather just forget. "Never joke about those things when we're living on a Hellmouth, especially one that, from what I can tell, is far higher on the evil scale than Sunnydale ever was."
She shrugged and finished off her coffee, letting out a sharp breath as the still-hot beverage burned slightly on the way down. She passed Buffy and Kennedy on her way up to the stairs and she muttered a half-assed goodnight before she took the stairs two at a time and went straight to her room. She debated whether to have a shower, but a sudden wave of exhaustion hit her as she stripped from her clothes and flopped down onto the bed.
It was hard to let go of the thoughts running through her mind and hard to fall asleep when all she could hear was the voices downstairs and the ones in her head, fighting for dominance and fighting for her attention. She pulled the covers over her completely, burying her face into the pillow as she tried to drown out the voices, all of them. Sleep came eventually, but her mind was riddled with nightmares of the past, her childhood, and parts of her time in Sunnydale. She kept waking up, trying so hard to control her dreams, wanting nothing more than to just be able to sleep for more than an hour at a time.
The afternoon slipped by and she did nothing but toss and turn until dusk fell. She gave up, throwing the covers off of her as she stared up at the ceiling in the dark room. The dull ache between her legs started as soon as she heard soft whimpering moans coming from Buffy's room. She raised an eyebrow when she realized what Buffy was doing and she couldn't stop her hands from roaming over her own body. She'd gotten the release she'd needed after the fight against the First and its army, but as far as she knew Buffy hadn't. She groaned softly as she deftly slipped her fingers over her soaked pussy, throwing her head back as she closed her eyes and listened as Buffy's moans echoed her own.
"Fuck," she panted under her breath as she circled her overly sensitive clit, her senses now hyper aware of the soft sounds in the next room. She could hear Buffy breathing heavily, sighing out contently as she fucked herself slowly.
She spread her legs further, sliding a single, solitary finger deep inside her hot, wet hole, every inch of her body pulsating with every rapid beat of her heart. She bit her lower lip, feeling so close so soon. It was never this quick for her, but she wasn't exactly complaining as she ran her free hand over her stomach and up to her breasts, rolling a semi-hard nipple between her fingers as she thrust a second finger roughly inside of herself. She couldn't stop the moans that slipped out and she bit her lip harder as she felt the first waves of her orgasm begin to build.
"Oh god," Buffy moaned softly, her voice thick and husky, traveling through the thin walls and sounding as if she was right there next to her.
Faith let out sharp, panting breaths as she listened to the soft moans coming from Buffy. She knew if she could hear her clearly that Buffy could, without a doubt, hear her too. She slowed down, holding her breath and waiting, hearing Buffy take in a sharp, deep breath as she let out a strangled moan. They both stopped as the sound of footsteps ascending the stairs broke whatever trance they'd both fallen into and Faith ran her fingers down her stomach slowly, listening as a door shut down the hallway. She waited for Buffy to continue, finding it impossible to hold back the moan as she heard Buffy gasp softly.
Her mouth was dry, her body growing rigid as white hot pleasure shot through her body. Never had self-gratification been so satisfying for her, only ever having succumbed to it when she was too tired or too injured to find a willing partner. She could feel herself getting closer with every thrust of her fingers deep inside and she circled her clit with her free hand, letting out a primal moan as she let herself go. Buffy was right there with her and for a moment she could almost feel the pleasure Buffy felt mixed with her own.
She lay there with her fingers buried deep inside her cunt as she struggled to catch her breath. She heard shuffling in the other room and the sound of a zipper being pulled up. Seconds later the door opened and she heard Buffy descend the stairs. She groaned softly as she got up from the bed, her legs shaking as she pulled on her clothes, her fingers feeling weak as she buttoned up her jeans. She'd barely slipped on her boots when she heard footsteps coming back up the stairs and she nearly jumped when she heard the soft yet insistent knock on her bedroom door.
"Faith, are you awake?" Kennedy asked softly. "We're having a meeting before we head out on patrol. You better be awake."
Faith chuckled softly as she walked to the door and opened it. "I'm awake, Ken. What's this about a meeting?"
"Just...a meeting? I don't know, Giles told me to come and get you," she shrugged as Faith stepped out into the hallway and closed the door behind her. "Were you sleeping all afternoon?"
"Yeah. Didn't sleep last night."
"Feeling better now, aren't you?" Kennedy asked, a small smirk forming over her lips as they headed for the stairs. "You know, I still say you two need to fuck. I'm sure it'd get rid of that tension you both are feeling."
"What the fuck are you talking about?" Faith nearly growled as she grabbed Kennedy by the collar of her shirt and stopped her from walking down the stairs. "Seriously, Ken. You need to fuckin' drop it. It's never gonna happen, so get that into your head, okay?"
"You think you two are the only ones that can feel each other? Because that's not true. I can feel you two, just a little, and I do know what you two were just doing. Pity you don't have the guts to just take her the way you and I both know she wants to be taken."
"You need to shut up. I told ya already that it's not gonna happen."
"Are you a coward? I heard you had this saying once," Kennedy chuckled as she pried Faith's tightly clutching hands off of her shirt. "Want. Take. Have. You don't live by that philosophy anymore?"
"It's a fucked up philosophy that got me into nothing but trouble. I don't live by that anymore and I don't plan to start again."
Kennedy only laughed as she headed down the stairs. Faith sighed and followed her down to the living room where the others were waiting. She stood by the couch, listening as Giles spoke of the plans for patrol that night and letting her eyes drift over to where Buffy sat on the far end of the couch. When their eyes met, the telltale blush that crept over Buffy's cheeks before she quickly looked away told her so much more than words ever could. Buffy had heard her just as she'd heard Buffy and despite the apparent embarrassment of the whole situation, she just knew Buffy had enjoyed their little experience.
Faith licked her lips slowly, fighting back the smirk that was dying to escape when Buffy looked back over at her, her fingers nervously fidgeting with the hem of her shirt. She hadn't heard a word that Giles was saying, her mind conjuring images she'd spent far too long fighting off. She couldn't fight them any longer, not after what had just transpired between them. The ache between her legs was growing as she let her eyes drink in Buffy, not caring that Kennedy stood next to her, grinning like a fool because she knew she was right. Faith knew she was right, yet there was no way she'd ever let those words slip past her lips. She wouldn't give Kennedy the satisfaction.
It was impossible for her to tear her eyes away from Buffy's as they just stared at one another. She'd give anything to know what was going through Buffy's mind right then despite how much it scared her to consider what she could possibly be thinking. She shoved her hands into the pockets of her jeans as she blinked and tore her gaze away from Buffy's, trying with all that she had to pay attention to what Giles was saying. She could feel that ever familiar buzz, the one coming from Kennedy just a little dimmer than what she knew she felt coming from Buffy. It made her sigh out softly, her lips suddenly drier than they were after a night of heavy drinking. She said nothing as she walked out of the living room and into the kitchen.
Whatever was happening to them, to her, was pulling her to the depths of places she'd never been before. It was taking her thoughts on a joyride, playing with her, taunting her, dangling what she knew she could never have. What only existed in the fantasies she struggled not to let take over every thought of every waking moment of the day. She pulled out a bottle of water from the refrigerator, slamming the door shut as she closed her eyes and twisted off the cap.
"We're heading out," Buffy said as she walked into the kitchen, startling Faith from the trance she'd fallen into with her thoughts.
"Great, give me a minute," Faith replied softly as she lifted the bottle to her lips, taking a deep breath before she took a sip. "Where we headed to tonight?"
"Were you not paying attention?"
"Not really," she chuckled softly before she downed the rest of the water and placed the empty bottle on the counter. "Still half asleep here."
Buffy said nothing more to her, only raising an eyebrow as she turned and walked out of the kitchen. She followed Buffy out to the front hallway, grabbing a stake and the knife she'd had her eye on before. Kennedy and Buffy were talking quietly, going over the route for patrol. She only picked up on bits of it, figuring out from the things they were saying, or lack thereof, that they'd be patrolling the neighbourhood around the Hellmouth to see if they saw any strange activity despite the mystical barrier that surrounded those four blocks.
Faith stayed behind the two as they walked towards the Hellmouth neighbourhood. She kept trying to push out all the thoughts she had, the fantasies of Buffy she was afraid to even think with her so close, and failed continuously as her eyes swept over Buffy from behind. There was no denying the fact that Buffy was the epitome of sexy. No other woman had ever gotten under Faith's skin the way Buffy had. No other women invaded her thoughts and caused her to question everything she'd done to her in the past. Her time spent in prison had resulted in endless hours of being trapped within the confines of her own mind and it produced a lot of answers she just didn't want to hear.
She pulled her pack of cigarettes out of her jacket pocket, sighing as she lit one and inhaled deeply. Buffy glanced back at her, shaking her head slightly as she turned and continued walking ahead of her next to Kennedy. They were talking about plans to arrange a workable patrol schedule, that much Faith picked up on as they continued walking down the quiet, empty streets. She kept looking behind her as well, unable to shake the feeling of being watched yet again. It made her skin crawl and the Slayer inside her awaken. She needed a fight, some action, something, anything to get rid of the growing tension that just didn't seem to want to go away.
Sirens blared off in the distance as the three of them got closer to the Hellmouth. Aside from that, their footsteps against the pavement, and the breeze that picked up, there was nothing more to be heard. It made her uneasy. A city as big as Cleveland shouldn't be so eerily quiet. They came to a stop just outside the abandoned store and stood there, each of them looking in a different direction for any signs of movement from within the shadows that surrounded them.
"So, do we stay here and do the stakeout thing, or what?" Kennedy asked quietly as Faith sat down on the curb and finished her cigarette. "I vote for the stakeout thing."
Faith chuckled softly as Kennedy sat down next to her. "Yeah, the stakeout thing. Sit here like sitting ducks and hope something comes out and tries to eat us. Perfect fucking plan, Ken."
"There isn't anything else we can do," Buffy said as she sat down on the other side of Faith and let out a soft sigh. "Giles wants us to monitor the activity around here. The only thing we can do right now is to stay right where we are."
"It's gonna be a long, boring night," Faith said with a laugh as she flicked her cigarette away, watching as the embers scattered over the pavement.
Faith looked over at Buffy just out of the corner of her eye and found herself smiling a little as Buffy stretched her legs out in front of her and let out a soft grunt of frustration and boredom. Kennedy got up and began pacing near them, but Faith wasn't paying a speck of attention to her. All she could feel was Buffy next to her and the warmth radiating off of her as Buffy's hand easily reached for her own. Such a small gesture that came out of nowhere and it made her heart race as their fingers intertwined. She couldn't figure out just why Buffy wanted to hold her hand, nor could she figure out what made her do it.
She wasn't sure if what she was feeling was only what she herself felt, or if she was feeling what Buffy felt at that moment as well. In the last eleven days since the fall of Sunnydale, everything was gradually changing between all of them. Old and new friendships were being established, new bonds being formed, and something was transpiring between the two of them, something that neither of them seemed to be fighting, nor pushing away as they had before. She didn't want to think of just what it was that was happening between them, as it felt too surreal for it to really be happening.
But it was happening and there was something more there, something just waiting to capture them both and send them on an adventure of discovery together that seemed to have been a long time coming.
She looked over at Buffy, waiting until the moment their eyes met before she smiled at her, watching as something she thought was desire flashed through Buffy's eyes. She tried to convince herself that what she was seeing didn't really exist, instead being a product of her own wishful thinking. In her mind, this wasn't happening and she tried harder to convince herself she was still in her bed and dreaming, fantasizing as she had in moments of weakness when being alone got to her head. Buffy smiled back eventually, giving her hand a gentle squeeze before she let go.
Faith turned her head away from Buffy, breaking the intense eye contact they had for those few short minutes. She closed her eyes as she held her breath, still trying to convince herself that this was all a dream. Either that or she'd stepped into an alternate universe where things like this were possible.
She knew that being on a Hellmouth, anything was possible and that it could play tricks on one's mind. With the things she'd been feeling since they'd arrived there, she couldn't banish the nagging thought that this was one way whatever evil was there lurking in the shadows had of playing with her very soul. It was pushing her to the edges of whatever sanity that she'd managed to hold onto over the years, waiting for that moment to give her that final push to allow that darkness in her to take over.
And in her world, the darkness always won. Eventually. She had to fight it harder this time, not wanting to lose what she finally had now. A place in the lives of those she'd betrayed, of those she was learning to love in the tiniest of ways, a place in a family they were building amongst themselves. She couldn't lose it and she had to find the light to lead her on, to make her want to fight with everything she had to keep from succumbing to the darkest parts of her soul.