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What Comes Next?

by Kat(Zoom)


Rating: NC17
I do not own any of the characters, they belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and 20th Century Fox. The story is a product of my own demented head, and well, lots and lots of free time. I hope you all enjoy it, it's the first story I've ever posted, so please be kind.
Notes: NOTE: For this story, the order of the Season 3 episodes needs to be changed slightly. In my story, The Zeppo happened before the events of Helpless, in order for things to work out; I needed to do this. I didn't want anyone to think I don't know the order of the episodes, so I'm putting in this note...sorry for any inconvenience.
Summary: Set After Sunnydale Goes Bang

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Chapter One - New Beginnings

POV Faith

I'm standing on the edge of what used to be Sunnydale, and I'm freaking out big time. I'm so nervous I just can't stand still. The big bad is gone and now what? Where do I go from here? Will these people tell me to get lost now that it's all over? Will she? Jesus, I'm freaking. Buffy is standing close to the edge, and the rest of us are just staring at her back; like she has all the answers.

Well, she has my answers, but I wonder about the rest of them. She is still just standing there, not acknowledging us whatsoever. Even my wise ass comments don't pull her back from the edge. Hope she's not planning on jumping...again; but I know she's not. I know she's happy, a little sad, confused and nervous. I know because I can feel her now. All her emotions are right on display inside of me.

Freaking magic. Something unexpected always happens. It was the fucking scythe. Everyone said not to hold it at the same time as any other slayer. Always throw it, don't hand it. So what does Buffy do? She hands it to me, like a freaking idiot, and I'm the one that can't follow rules...please. I know somehow this will wind up being my fault, someway, somehow. Then she'll banish me again and I'll be sent away cause I know too much about her. Shit. Fuck. Shit. I'm so fucking screwed.

POV Buffy

I'm standing on the edge of Sunnydale. It's gone. It's all gone. The Bronze, the Expresso Pump, the new high school, my house, my car, my mom and well, Spike. Of all the things I'm sad about though, I'm not all that sad about him. It's kinda weird. A few days ago I would have been shattered, but now, I don't know, I just feel...free. Maybe it's cause the hellmouth went bye, bye. Maybe cause there are all these new slayers. Maybe it's because I finally convinced him I didn't love him by telling him I love him. I don't know and I sure don't feel like figuring it out now.

There are lots of other things to figure out right now, like where do we go from here? If I turned around right now, I know everyone would be staring at me, waiting for some kind of direction. Which is really funny. They want me to tell them what to do, where to go, and I can't even figure out my own life. And now, there is this feeling inside me. This nervous, sometimes hopeful, but mostly doubtful feelings and I know what it is. Or more to the point, I know who it is. It's her.

She always has a knack of coming around and turning my life upside down. Damn it, even when she's not here she can still do that to me. I can go for months without thinking of her once, and then bam, the next month she's all I can think about. I feel her nervousness and I know why it's there. The big bad is gone and she's afraid I'm going to tell her to leave. And I might have, but now she'll know I don't mean it, cause I'm sure she can feel me just like I can feel her.

She'll know I'm lying when I say I don't want her around. She probably coulda guessed that fact before. She was always good at reading me, but now she'll know for certain. So, I guess honesty will be the word of the day. Ya gotta love the side effects of magic, although we were all warned this time. Don't hold the scythe with another slayer, it would be bad. So what do I do? I get stabbed and she, of course, runs to my side. Then I hand her the scythe, and what does Faith do? She takes it. She takes it like a freaking idiot. I swear that girl cannot follow rules.

All right, I know I have some blame in this. Just like everything else that has ever happened between Faith and me, I have a share in the blame. It was never all her fault, although, I always tried to make it seem that way. It's because she always got to me, because she always had the ability to know exactly what I was up to, and I hated the fact that I could never fool her.

That Christmas my mom made me invite her over, she knew it was my mom's idea. And the whole thing with Angel she understood it so much better than I did, and she wasn't even around then. All this time I've been bitching about how nobody could ever really understand me, convinced that I would always be alone. It's so fucking stupid. I had somebody who understood me, who knew what it was like to be a slayer because she was one too. And I pushed her away when she needed me the most, and not just once, but twice.

I have given lots of people second chances, Angel, Spike, Anya, and even Willow. I gave them all a second chance to prove that they weren't just evil, but I don't think I even gave Faith a first chance. Now she's back. She came back because I needed her. This is new territory for me because people usually leave me and they don't come back. Well Angel did come back to me briefly, but that's another story. Right now she's the one on my mind. Maybe this means we can work things out. I wonder what I should say to her? I don't know, but feel like I hafta do something, and I need to do it now. So even though I have no clue what I am going to say, I call out to her anyway, "Faith?"

POV Faith

Oh shit, I think she just called me. What do I do? Oh right, answer her dumbass.


"Come here..." is her reply.

I don't do anything for a moment. Everyone is staring back and forth between Buffy and me. She still has her back turned to everyone. I stumble forward in Buffy's direction, encouraged by a not so gentle shove from Willow and Giles. I really don't want to talk to her right now, I'm scared, and she's nervous. This can't be a good thing. I straighten myself out and walk toward her of my own accord, cause I'm Faith, I'm not afraid of anything. Which is absolutely true, except for all those people who scare me.

There are lots of them, but Buffy is the one person that scares me the most. She scares me cause she has my life in her hands. She has the ability to make me happy or crazy or depressed, and sometimes it's all three at the same time. That scares the shit out of me cause I have never needed anyone the way I need her. Fucking scary shit, huh? So, I'm finally standing next to her, and I put on my best indifferent face.

"You called?"

POV Buffy

Oh fuck, she's right beside me now, and she's scared. Even though her face gives none of that away, I know it's true because I can feel it. I wonder what I'm about to say. Will it be the wrong thing. Just once I would like to say something right.

"You're no longer wanted..."

Ok, shit. That is so not what I wanted to say, and I can feel the devastation those words have caused, I realize I need to make this better and fast.

POV Faith

I stand next to her and I hear her words. It feels like I've just been shot. I look down into the pit that used to be Sunnydale and I wanna jump. I just want it over. I know I won't do it, I can't do it. I couldn't disappoint Angel that way. So I turn to leave. She's speaking to me again. What I hear stops me dead in my tracks.

POV Buffy

"I...uh...I meant you are no longer wanted by the police, I still want you..."

Shit, that really didn't make it any better and it might have made it worse. God I suck at this whole talking thing. I mean of course I want her, have you seen her? She's gorgeous and that's so not the point. She gives me that standard smirk, looking around before pointing to herself.

"Huh, you want me...?"

She knows what I meant, but she also knows what I'm feeling. So I just ignore her and continue.

"I still want you around. Maybe we can work on the whole friendship thing?"

POV Faith

Friendship? Yeah right, I know what I felt, I know what she felt. This could have some interesting possibilities, and I can't keep the stupid grin off my face.

"Yeah, sure...the friendship thing..."

POV Buffy

God she's a pain in the ass. She knows I want more, just like I know she wants more. How long can we keep this pretense going? Will it make us better off or worse off? Still, I continue with the pretense cause I'm a wuss.

"We...uh...should probably get the wounded to a hospital and find somewhere to bed down..."

Fuck...did I just say bed down? Oh my god, who says that? Stop speaking you moron.

POV Faith

Bed down? Who talks like that? Now she's all sorts of embarrassed cause she's busted, and I'm gone, laughing so fucking hard, I can barely speak.

"Sounds like a plan..."

POV Buffy

Great. Now she's laughing at me. I turn around to ignore her and everyone is staring at us as predicted. Although they are looking at us like we are insane; they are probably right. I issue orders, like the general I'm supposed to be. Soon we'll be moving and moving is always good.


Chapter Two - Pismo Beach

POV Buffy

Well, here we are. Finally got the wounded all sorted out at the hospital. Giles is handing out room keys, and there aren't enough rooms for everyone; so we are going to have to share. Of course nobody wants to share with me cause I'm General Buffy and everyone still kinda hates me. Obviously nobody wants to share with Faith cause we...I...told everyone she's a pyscho and this is a motel. So you do the math.

What gets me the most is she's back to being nervous. I wonder. Why? It's not like I'm gonna bite her. Heh...well at least not in a bad way. Ok...bad Buffy thoughts; not a good idea right now. I understand why I'm anxious, but Faith just doesn't do nervous. She's always been cocky and self-assured on the outside, but now I suddenly wonder who this woman really is.

It occurs to me that there are thousands of things I don't know about her and that thought makes me really sad. I don't even know when her birthday is. It could be today and I wouldn't even know it. Is it today? Hmmm; don't know. Does she look any older? I look at her and she doesn't appear to be any older than yesterday. Maybe it was yesterday? Ok, babbling in my head now, so not a good thing. I take the key from Giles with a small, "Thanks." I head to our room and she's right behind me.

POV Faith

Fuck! Not enough rooms? Are you shitting me? I look around at all the girls and wonder whom I'll be stuck with. None of them are looking like they wanna share with me. It kinda reminds me of prison. Nobody wanted to bunk with me there either, although that was actually a good thing.

I didn't notice a line forming to get to share with Buffy either. Pipsqueak doesn't even wanna, which is surprising. Although, not really, cause somebody needs to stay with Xander. Make sure he doesn't do anything stupid. Losing the woman you love can make you do crazy things. We've all been there. I look over at Buffy...fuck does that girl have a whole lot of emotions swirling around. It's kinda giving me a headache.

We keep going happy, sad, nervous, hopeful, horny, yes that's right, horny. Little Ms. Tightly Wound is horny. This should make for a great night. How would I tell her I don't want to when my body is screaming I want to? It's not like I'm opposed to having sex with another woman, but having sex with Buffy would be a whole different ball game. There's too much history between us to just jump right into sex. It's not all I want from her, and nowhere near what I need from her.

It's not like I could pull a get some, get gone scenario with her or any woman for that matter. There's just something about the act with another woman, more intimate I guess. Or maybe it's cause with girls there are always emotions involved. Which would make it impossible, or maybe it's just me. I don't know. I'm sure there are women out there who could do that, just fuck them and leave, but not me. With guys it's easy, cause it's what they want. Perhaps not all guys, but a guy's guy, if ya know what I mean, loves it when the woman just leaves afterward or lets them leave.

Which is fine by me, they really don't have anything I'm all that interested in anyway. Don't get me wrong, I love them to worship at the house of Faith. Ok that's lame, but still; I don't mind them doing me, but reciprocating is kinda tricky when you don't like dick. So fuck me, sure why not, blow job, hell no, not gonna happen. Oh shit; she's walking towards the room...our room; with the key. Damn...guess I should follow.

POV Buffy

I get the door open and stop dead in my tracks. No fucking way, this is just horrible. The worst thing that could possibly be in here, other than a demon or a vampire, is one single solitary bed, and it's mocking me. It mocks Faith too as she comes inside and stands next to me.

POV Faith

Fuck, one bed! I wanna laugh at the absurdity of the situation, Buffy and I sharing a bed. This is either gonna kill me or cure me. Not sure which I prefer at this point. Whatever, I'm tired and I've got hellmouth gunk all over me.

"I'm gonna take a shower..."

I take the shorts and t-shirt that Giles bought for me into the bathroom and shut the door.

POV Buffy

I watch her go into the bathroom. I'm kinda disappointed with her reaction, I expected her to be upset or embarrassed, but all I felt was resignation. I'm sure she's had worse accommodations, but me, never. Well, I suppose a coffin is worse than this, and I'm not sure which one I'd prefer at the moment.

The water starts to run in the shower and I realize there is a naked and now wet Faith in the bathroom. All that horniness just waiting for me to...ok, I really need to stop the bad thoughts. Well, they aren't all bad thoughts, some seem like they would feel pretty damn good. Shit. I really need to stop. I wonder if she's taking care of that itch in the shower.

No, I'm not wondering, no wondering here, I'm a wonder free zone. Damn I am so horned up. It's just because of the battle, yes, because of the battle. I just don't want to admit that most of it is because of her. I can't stand listening to her in the shower. I'm going to get a soda, some ice...oh ice...I wonder....shit, stop wondering.

I can't believe I forgot the key when I left the room; that's just great. Faith better answer the door with some clothes on or I'm gonna...hmmm. What would I do if she answered the door in nothing but a towel? Maybe I could tell her there is an emergency and I need to borrow it, then when she takes it off I could. Damn, she's not wearing a towel. She's wearing shorts and a t-shirt.

I look at her face and that body and I'm stunned. I've never seen her look more beautiful than she looks right now. Her wet hair is pulled back in a pony tail and her breasts look incredible in that shirt. My eyes lock on her well-defined thigh muscles. Thank you Giles for buying her shorts.

She's looking at me weirdly and why is she? Oh, cause I'm standing here like a retard staring at her breasts. Good move Summers. As I walk into the room I say, "I...I thought you might like a soda, so I got some, and some candy. You know, someday you're gonna hafta explain how you can not like candy with nuts, but like peanut M&M's..."

POV Faith

"What can I say Buffy, I'm an enigma...something that cannot be explained easily or at all."

I swear when I opened the door, she was scoping out my breasts. I cannot believe she just checked me out. She looks a little flushed after her visual exploration and I have to push it.

"I'm done in the shower, I think I even left you some hot water. Although, maybe it's the cold water you're looking for."

I follow up my comment with a wicked grin and a wink.

POV Buffy

Oh my God, I can't believe she just said that to me. I can't believe how much she knows me. Well, I'm not gonna let her get away with this. I'm so gonna get her, show her she doesn't know everything about me. I grab my stuff and brush past her.

"You know, cold water really doesn't fix horniness, sometimes it even makes it worse."

Oh shit, what did I just do? I cannot believe I followed up that comment with a slap to her ass. What the fuck is wrong with me? Holy shit, I wish the floor would just open up right now and swallow me whole. The only good part is Faith seems to be stunned into silence, for which I am grateful, although I have no idea how long that will last so I rush into the bathroom and slam the door shut.

POV Faith

What the hell was THAT about? Who took the stick out of her ass? Cause I'd like to buy them a beer. I flop down on the chair and pop open a Mountain Dew. I can't believe she remembered that's my favorite soda. She remembered my anti-peanuts in chocolate speech, with the peanut M&M exemption. I woulda thought she wiped all memories of me from her mind years ago, cause after all I wasn't very nice to her. HA! That's a great one Faith, 'not very nice', you were downright evil to her.

I know we are going to hafta talk about the past if we are ever gonna be able to remain civilized to each other. This status quo between us will not last forever. I'm not stupid enough to believe that it will. The question is: Am I ready for her to know who I really am? Am I ready to be who I really am?

I know I should tell her everything, even the stuff that makes her look bad; which is usually where we stop talking and start punching. The more I think about all this stuff the more daunting the task seems to be, but I remember what Angel told me once, just make it through the next five minutes, the next minute and so on.

Buffy's not pissed at me any more. I know that I'm being a little overly dramatic about this, I mean, I think she's more receptive to listen than she ever has been. I guess listening to kids bitch about shit for a living has helped her there. I wonder if she's ever had to deal with kids that went through the shit I've been through, God I hope not. Nobody should go through what I did.

POV Buffy

I feel her depression, her guilt, her need to tell me everything and it's driving me crazy. I know she's sorry, why we keep dredging up everything is beyond me. I do realize it's something we both need to do, so we can move on, but I'm not looking forward to having to share my things with her.

It's not that I'm angry with her or that I don't like her; cause I do. I probably like her too much, that's the problem. I'm afraid she'll hear what I have to say and then leave me. That's what everything always boils down to with me, I don't want everyone to just abandon me.

I really don't believe my friends would ever do that, but I trusted my friends in LA all those years ago too. With the Hellmouth gone, what more is there to keep us together? Will they all leave? I really don't wanna think about that now, I need a distraction. Wait, I got an idea for the perfect distraction. There was this flyer at the soda machine about a fair to support the Pismo Beach Fire Department.

I bet it wouldn't take much convincing to get Faith to go. So, I come out of the bathroom and ask her.

"Hey Faith, you feel up to seeing some sights?"

Faith is still being her difficult self with her answer.

"What sights did ya have in mind?"

I ignore her obvious meaning and continue.

"There's a fair downtown, wanna check it out?"

Oh my God, does this count as a date?

POV Faith

You know, sometimes I really hate it when my mouth starts working before my brain does. I didn't mean to sound like I wanted her to check me out. C'mon, obviously I do want her to check me out, but not right now. Anyway, I need to focus on the topic at hand. A fair could be kinda fun, along with I've never actually gone to a fair with another person before.

"Sure, sounds like fun, I'll go change." Oh shit, is this a date?

I look around at said fair and I wanna say that it's lame, but Buffy can still feel what I'm feeling, so I can't. I'm actually excited to be here, and with her, cause that's something I never thought would ever happen.

"Pismo Beach and all the fried clams you can eat..."

She looks at me for a moment and then she gets it.

"Bugs Bunny?"

I laugh and then explain.

"Yeah, he and Daffy are traveling to Pismo Beach and they end up in Nottingham Forrest, or ancient Rome, I forget which. And then they argue and hijinks ensue...Hey, ya ever notice we're a lot like Daffy and Bugs? Of course, I'm Daffy you know."

"Actually Daffy, it was ancient Babylon and you got all greedy and tried to keep the treasure all to yourself, and then the genie in the lamp shrunk you."

"Oh yeah, that's right. I'm rich, I'm rich, I'm a wealthy mizer..."

She's smiling at me now, remembering that we weren't always at each other's throats. Suddenly she's dragging me toward the gaming booth, and I wonder what the hell she's doing when I look up and see it. A white stuffed pig with a bow tie. She's pointing at it like a little kid, jumping up and down all excited, ok, the screeching needs to stop.

Guess that's where Dawn got it from. I give her a 'you've gone nuts' look and she's pouting again.

"What's with the pout?"

She just points at the game all disappointed and I get it. It's a target shooting gallery and surprisingly enough for a slayer she can't shoot for shit. I smile at her and wink, cause I can shoot, so I throw the money on the counter like I'm Jesse fucking James.

The skeezy guy working the booth is smirking and it's really not attractive cause of the whole no teeth deal. This pig better be worth it cause he ran his hand across mine when he gave me the rifle...as if ya toothless fuck. Not even if we were the only two people on a deserted island, I'd rather drag myself across the beach hoping to snag a stray stick.

Anyway, I win the pig easily and Buffy jumps up and grabs the pig before the guy can even move, guess she doesn't want his mitts on her pig. I can't help but laugh at how childish she is behaving. And I gotta admit, it's wicked cute.

POV Buffy

OK, I'll admit it, I'm acting really childish right now. I can see it in her eyes, but I don't care. A replacement Gordo was needed stat, so it was an emergency. A pig emergency; if you will. Anyway, we walked around some more just enjoying each other's company, trying to make each other laugh. Now it's Faith's turn to act like a kid, wanting to go on the Ferris Wheel. She's really adorable. I finally give in cause it's Faith and I'm finding it awfully hard to resist her lately.

We waited for what seemed like forever to get on this stupid ride, and then the guy running the machine stopped to talk while we were stuck up there near the top. We were on our way down and off this ride when the stupid guy just stopped it. It's not like I'm afraid of heights...ok; so it is like I'm afraid of heights.

I've only really noticed this since I've come back. I guess taking a dive off a 70 foot tower will do that to you. So, I'm getting really, really nervous and Faith is not helping at all. She's looking everywhere, practically hanging over the side to get a better view, of what I can only imagine.

I couldn't help it, I grabbed her; cause I was scared, and now I'm even more scared. Damn; her face is just inches from mine, lips I've been wanting to taste forever are just inches from mine. The intensity of my need overwhelms me and I feel like I can't breathe. She doesn't move an inch for a moment, like she's stuck there, and then it finally happens.

Her lips are on mine and it's so soft and gentle, she feels like my girl not a slayer. I never knew she could be this way, it has quickly become my all time greatest kiss. Her tongue has wiped away everything else; so softly running itself against mine. Then I hear something I wish I hadn't, or more importantly, someone.


Chapter Three - Old Enemies

POV Buffy

I cannot believe who I'm hearing. I should be used to this by now, something going right and then it goes right back in the toilet.

"Oh, there are so many of them. So many to choose from, how will I ever be able to just take one? Ms. Edith was very important; one child shall never be enough to replace her."

"So take more than one, take as many as you like, there is no one here to stop us."

There's only one name in my head now--Drusilla. I instantly recognize the other voice with the lame accent, but I'm not really worried about him right now. I pull away from the kiss as I try to find them in the crowd and I finally see her standing between the shooting gallery and the fish bowl booth. I turn back to Faith and she's upset, "I...I didn't mean...I thought, I thought you wanted me to..."

Oh, oops. She thinks I wasn't digging the kiss. I realize my hands are still clutched around her jacket and I pull her forward and kiss her briefly.

"Oh, I did want this, I want a lot of this..."

I lean in and kiss her again.

"Mmm...so good. But um...work..."

I point down between the two gaming booths and she says, "Vamp?"

I answer her without looking back, "Not just any. Drusilla..."

POV Faith

Drusilla? Why do I know that name? It sounds really familiar, then it hits me, the other slayer, the one before me, Drusilla killed her.

I say out loud, "Kendra..."

I immediately feel how upset Buffy is getting and I say, "Time for us to get some payback..."

I pull away from her and I'm about halfway out of the car, when she pulls me back in again, "Where are you going?"

I look at her like she's crazy, "I'm going to bag a vamp. What are you doing?"

"But we're up really high and she's not gonna be easy. And there are two of them..."

Ok, I'm confused so I just answer, "Well then, that's bad news for them yeah?"

I start out of the car again and I stop myself this time, cause we're moving again. We finally get off the stupid ride and I start walking toward them and again she's doing the whole stopping thing. It's kinda getting annoying.

"What's with all the stopping?"

"We need a plan..."

"Uh...ok, how about you distract her and I'll sneak up and stake her, sound good?"

"That's not a plan. That's not even an outline..."

I'm starting to get antsy, and then I see it. We can't wait.

"We don't have time, she's got a kid, we need to go now."

Finally she gets it, nods and off we go. We get back toward the darkened beach and we can see her walking away with the little boy, I'm about to go circle around when she grabs me and kisses me and tells me to be careful. Aww, she cares. Ok, focus Faith.

POV Buffy

I take a deep breath and watch Faith walk away, and then I chase after Dru. I tackle her and the kid to the ground, she has to let the kid go and he lands awkwardly, and I'm so hoping he doesn't break his neck. I come out of a roll and land on my feet facing her.

"Where ya running off to, Dru? Not happy to see old friends?"

I watch as the little boy gets up and runs screaming and crying back to the fair. You're welcome ya little shit.

"Buffy...Got tired of my William, did you? Made him get a soul. Poor, poor boy...he never really understood how you used him."

She hits me with a punch I barely saw coming, too busy watching the little boy run away and trying to locate Faith in the darkness. Meanwhile, Dru's dancing around, laughing at me. Every time I try to move she kicks me hard in the ribs. Distract her, sure, I'll just let her kick me a few thousand times...where the fuck is Faith?

"It will be a lot of fun to kill you. Ruining my family. You tore us apart, first my Angelus then my William. Tell me, do you think you'll rise from this death?"

She stops moving and looks at me with those crazy eyes and then she looks down at her chest in surprise as Faith's stake plunges through her heart and Faith says, "Think you will?"

Finally! I was beginning to think Faith forgot about me. She gives me a hand up from the ground, grinning. She really does love dusting the vamps; I need to get that enthusiasm back. It's been way too long since dusting a vamp has made me happy. All duty and no play has left me one, very boring slayer and I'm thinking Faith is the cure for that. We just stand there for a second, neither one of us knowing what we should do, lost in our own thoughts. I have to say I'm a little disappointed how easily Drusilla went down, it hardly seemed like a fair fight.

"Drusilla, the car is...Oh shit..."

I see him and yell, "Stop right there!!!"

Faith and I run after him and he turns around to face us, he looks back and forth between Faith and I and says, "Hello Buffy..."

I see Faith frown out of the corner of my eye as she asks snidely, "Friend of yours?"

"Well, I wouldn't actually call him a friend..."

POV Faith

I swear to God if she banged this vampire I'm leaving and not looking back. I mean come on, I don't even know this guy, but he's a complete tool. I glare at the guy and ask, "Who the fuck are you?"

The guy just looks at me and smirks like he knows something I don't. God I really hate that about vamps. Then he says in this completely lame accent, "I apologize. I assumed you would know. I am Dracula."

I just look at the guy and then at Buffy and I burst out laughing, right in the guy's face and he says, "No, really...I am."

I just look at him still laughing and say, "Get the fuck out of here."

Buffy just looks at me and says, "He's not kidding; he's really Dracula."

And I can't help it, I just point to him. "No way this is Dracula. Dracula's all scary and badass, this, this guy's...well...um..." I take a good look at him and say the first thing that comes to my mind, "fruity."

Now she's looking at me and asks, "Fruity?"

"Yeah, as in gay, as in he likes stick..."

"Uh... I assure you, I'm not..."

"Yeah, sure you're not twinkie--why don't you save that for Oprah, cause she might actually buy it."

"Well, there was this one time with William the Bloody..." He stops himself when he realizes what he's just admitted. I look at Buffy with my eyebrows raised, and all she can do is shrug.

Now the guy looks pissed, guess he didn't want to let that cat out of the bag. Then he summons me to him, "Come here, Slayer..."

I look into his eyes and I take a step forward like I can't help myself and then I laugh at him. "Your, uh, 'thrall' seems to be a little lacking. Like the rest of you. Fuck, I'd be more scared if you were the Count from Sesame Street, hell, even Count Chocula would be scarier."

Ya gotta admire the guy cause he keeps trying, "You cannot resist me..."

"I think ya got the wrong slayer, pal." Buffy shoots me a dirty look, but serves her right for boinking the undead. I mean really, can't handle the heat, stop fucking the dead meat.

"Your power is rooted in darkness..."

"Yeah, we all got the memo on that one, but thanks."

I wave my stake around in front of him, "So you got any more lame ass lines you wanna try out or any more lame ass tricks you wanna pull, cause I'm not impressed."

Suddenly the guy turns into a bat, swoops at me, then takes off flying back toward the parking lot. I turn to Buffy and point at the bat, "Ok, well that was actually kinda cool."

Buffy is just standing there shaking her head, damn, what now? So I ask, "What? What did I do?"

POV Buffy

Leave it to Faith to not be impressed with Dracula. And did he really have sex with Spike? Cause eww. And how did his thrall not work on her, when his thrall worked on everyone else? Well not exactly everyone else...mainly it was Xander and me. "HEY!!!! How come his thrall didn't work on you?"

She just shrugs and says, "Avoiding thrall, Chapter 7 of the slayer handbook."

OK, now I'm just confused. Is she serious? Did she really read it? Is there a chapter for that?

"You read the slayer handbook?"

Now she looks confused and answers.

"Yeah, didn't you?"

"Actually no. When did you read it?"

"Um...I read it..."

And I feel it, she's pulling away and I don't understand why, maybe it brought back memories of her watcher. I wonder if it still bothers her. What am I thinking? Of course it still bothers her; I know it still bothers me. It bothers me that I never told her about it, about my first watcher. Actually, I've never told anyone about him, or anything that happened in LA. Finally she just says, "I'm kinda tired, can we talk about it tomorrow?"

"Oh, um, sure..."

We walked back to the motel in silence. I tried to get her to talk about anything but she was really distracted, just kept her answers short, sometimes they weren't even on topic. I don't know what she's thinking, but whatever it is, it's confusing and sort of depressing. Kinda like she's trying to figure out the answer to a really hard question. Whatever it is, I know she's hurting and I want to help, but I don't want to push her cause I know that won't accomplish anything.

The silence continues after we get back inside the room. So, I just watch her get ready for bed and do the same. I brush my teeth and come out of the bathroom, and she's already in bed, fast asleep. She's curled up with the replacement Gordo clutched tightly in her arms. Normally I'd complain about that, but maybe she needs him more than I do. So I just get into bed and try to get some sleep...which won't be easy with her lying so close to me.

POV Faith

I'm awake, but I don't open my eyes yet. I'm just enjoying being held; I feel safe, warm and loved. And it doesn't feel weird to me; it feels like I've had this before. Of course I know I'm fooling myself, cause I've never. I don't know why my mind insists on playing games with me. I really hate it, cause it feels so real, like there's something there, if only I could reach it. I tried to explain it to the prison shrink once, but she kinda freaked me out.

Started getting all excited; thinking it was some kind of lost memory trying to resurface. She wanted to hypnotize me, but I wasn't having any of that. I don't need anyone else fucking with my head--been there, done that. I know if she starts messing around, next thing you know I'd be talking about how some aliens took me aboard their spaceship and ran experiments on me. But what did I really think she'd say? It's not like she's Freud or something. I mean seriously, she worked at a prison, how good of a shrink could she have been? OK, I admit I've probably watched one too many episodes of the X-Files or read too many horror stories when I was a kid, but you never know. I've seen weirder shit happen. Maybe it's just my head, cause I've always had trouble remembering stuff. Maybe that stuff was just boring so I forgot it; I wish I could remember it now, though.

You know, instead of every detail of what Kakistos did, and what my parents and step-dad did. That's all clear as day, but my fifth grade teacher? Or any teacher for that matter, I just don't remember them. Those memories are just...gone. Erased. But that's just stupid school stuff--who remembers that anyway?

I'm taken from my thoughts by Buffy, "Deep and meaningful thoughts?"

I open my eyes and I'm looking right into light green ones. God, I love her eyes, I could just stare into them for hours, but instead I answer wittily.


Give me a break, I just woke up.

"I asked if you were having deep and meaningful thoughts cause you got that scrunched forehead thing going on. You do that a lot, did you know that?"

Aww, she knows my facial expressions. And I must be doing it again cause she takes her finger and smoothes it over. I just smile like a dork back at her; cause she's kinda left me speechless. Then she goes and ruins it.

"Well, while you're thinking, how about you think me up some coffee and a jelly donut?"

Hmmm, I guess I'm the one in this that's supposed to go running out cause princess wants something.

So I answer her back. "Sure...light and sweet?"

OK, so I guess I am that chick. I go to move out of bed, but she won't let me go.

"Ah, you kinda hafta let me go if you want coffee."

She looks like she's thinking about it.

"Don't wanna. I'm not sure which I want more now. You or coffee?"

I laugh slightly; "You sure know how to make a girl feel wanted..."

Now she laughs, "I think I want both."

She leans in to kiss me, our lips are just about to touch and then someone pounds on the door, and Kennedy's voice is all loud and shit.

"Giles wants us ready in an hour..."

And that's it, the moment is over and I look at Buffy and sigh, "And I thought I was loud."

POV Buffy

I so wanna beat Kennedy's ass right now, but it's no longer an option, cause she can kick back and it'll hurt. I watch Faith gather her stuff up and head into the bathroom to get ready. God she looks amazing and I just wanna do things to her, things I'm not even sure I know how to do. She's the first girl I ever had feelings for, and that scared the hell out of me. But now I'm a little older and a little more comfortable with girl-liking. Actually, I've only gotten comfortable with the girl-looking at, and the finding them attractive part. It wasn't like I've ever wanted to date a girl. Well, until now.

And lest we forget the whole Spike ordeal, I wonder what Faith's take on the situation will be? I know she knows I had sex with him...I heard him tell her about it. And he enjoyed telling me about her flirting and coming onto him, but I know she wasn't. It looked like it, but I think she just wanted to find out what he was all about. She did that with Scott Hope all those years ago, and I should've listened when she said he gave her his number. She told me that meant he was a creep and not worth my time. Back then I thought she was the creep, that she did it to prove something. But I've realized ever since she came back with Willow, she's looked out for me, she's tried to make my life run smoother, like training the potentials. She wasn't trying to take over, she was trying to lighten my burden.

And thinking back, I realize that was what she always did, but I never really noticed then. I used her when it was convenient, and then I wanted her to disappear when it wasn't; I really didn't treat her very well. And it's not like I'm a mean person, or that I don't care about people, I do. It's just really weird. I think I pinpointed when our relationship really went bad the first time around. It wasn't the accident with Finch, no, it happened a few weeks before that, when she missed my birthday and the Council made me take that stupid test.

It was the day after my birthday when she came back. She looked freaked out over something, but I didn't care. In my mind, she was wrong, she let me down so I didn't listen to anything she was gonna say. I just went off on her. I can't help but wonder what it was she wanted to tell me. Maybe it was something important, maybe that was the day she wanted to ask for my help, and I just turned my back on her. I'm pulled from my thoughts as Faith emerges from the bathroom, all cleaned and dressed, and she looks over at me, concerned.

"Are you ok?"

I just nod not very convincingly, but she doesn't call me on it. Instead she asks, "Coffee, light and sweet and jelly donuts, right?"

I just keep nodding and she turns to leave, opening the door slightly before she turns back in.

"You know, you can talk to me...if you want. I'd understand why you might not, but maybe..."

She sighs in defeat, cause at this point I usually tell her to mind her own business. She turns to go and I call out to her.

"I-I'd really like to...talk with you."

She turns again and smiles softly at me and nods. "OK, when I get back..."


I smile slightly at her as she finally leaves the room. See, there she goes again, being there for me. I hope she'll let me do that for her. I sigh and get up and start to get ready; I'm sure Giles will be bugging us soon to get going and I want a few minutes to talk to her without being interrupted.

I barely finish in the bathroom when I hear the knock at the door. Guess Faith forgot the key. I run out and open the door to find Willow standing there. "Oh, hey Will."

She comes in and looks around and asks confused, "Where's Dawnie?"

"Dawn? Um, she's with Xander, right?"

I sure hope she's with Xander, or at least somebody. I start to panic, then I finally see her walking around the bus talking with him. OK, the little sister is fine, check.

Willow comes in and sits in the chair.

"I wouldn't let the others know you had your own room if I were you."

I look at her confused for a moment.

"I didn't have my own room, I..."

I just stop cause I'm not sure what I'll be admitting to if Willow knows who I spent the night with. What will she think? Uh-oh, she's looking at me like she's trying to figure out the 'who.'

She smirks a little and asks, "Who'd ya share with Buffy? And with one bed no less, something you wanna tell me?"

Damn, she knows there is a story here. Sometimes best friends are really annoying, with the wanting to know all the time. Nosy really...

"I, uh, um..."

I don't explain anything cause here comes Faith walking into the room, followed by Kennedy, Xander and Dawn. I know Willow is smirking at me as Faith hands me my coffee and donuts. Faith slyly runs her hand across mine and mouth's 'sorry' to me. I give her one of my cute, half smiles--yes, I know they're cute, cause I spent a lot of time perfecting them.

Then I try to look like I'm happy my friends have come to have breakfast with me, when all I really wanted was a few minutes to talk with Faith. Instead, we all just eat and joke about non-threatening things until Giles tells us it's time to go. Since we aren't on alert anymore he's taken over the leadership role. I'm glad...I really need a break from all that.

I'm about to walk out the door when Willow stops me.

"Oh...we're gonna hafta talk about this later, missy."

I just let out a whimper as I follow her to the bus. Why does everyone always want to know about me?


Chapter Four - LA Story

POV Buffy

Wow, Angel's hotel is really impressive, it's old and it's freaking enormous. And I was hoping there wouldn't be enough rooms so we would have to share again. I walk in with some of the new slayers and Giles, it's kinda awkward since Angel's crew is just staring us down, it's almost funny.

When Willow, Kennedy and Faith walk in, everyone from Angel's crew is so happy to see Faith, and that's a first, because we never were. Another thing to feel sad about. Something disturbing is occurring to me--these people are acting like...like she's THE Slayer. I'm so not used to being second string. Even Wesley seems happy to see her. Then adding to the disturbing weirdness, Faith gives this green guy a great, big hug. I don't think I've ever seen Faith hug someone before, and... hey! Get your mitts off my almost girlfriend, Kermit. Finally she remembers she needs to introduce us all, which she does and everyone's all smiles until she gets to me.

That big guy, I think she said his name is Gunn and the girl, Fred are just staring at me. Then he looks at Faith and asks, "That's Buffy? THE Buffy?" She just nods and says, "The one and only." And then he says, "I don't get it..."

HEY!!! I think he just insulted me and why is she giving him a high five now? This is so not cool. I'm just about to say something when Giles asks about the rooms and then everyone is moving around again. Faith isn't following cause apparently she already has her own room here and I can't help but feel a little jealous. I also can't help but wonder how much do Faith and Angel like each other? Speaking of, where the hell is Angel? He should really...

"Oh, hey, Angel."


Why does he always just say my name and trail off? Like he's surprised I'm here, uh...hello, you invited me.

"Nice place..."

Well, what else is there to talk about? I saw and spoke to him a few days ago, so I kinda got nothing left.

"Yeah, it's...ours."

Faith is kinda over by the reception desk, trying not to interrupt us. But I guess the silence is just too much for her cause she's asks, "Where's Cordy and Con..." I don't know what else she was gonna say cause Angel was over to her in a flash and now he has his hand around her mouth. Ok, the 'weird' continues. Even weirder, he just yanked his hand away--guess she pulled the old, 'lick the hand' trick. He says a little angrily, "Faith."

She looks at him, "Damn, man...what the hell have you been doing with that hand? Squishing caterpillars? You know what, on second thought? I really don't wanna know."

He wipes his palm on his pants and sighs, "Office..." He points and she rolls her eyes but she goes. Now it's back to him and me, he says, "I gotta talk to Faith for a minute. I'll be back. We'll, uh...catch up."

I just nod and watch him go into the office after her. He closes the door. What the hell is that about? He's supposed to be making awkward conversation with me, not Faith, and I so wanna know what those two are up to in there.

POV Faith

Damn, note to self; never lick a vampire's hand, cause, gross man. I take a seat and wait for him. Doesn't take him long to come in and shut the door. I can tell from the look on his face, he's got some bullshit to sell me, but he starts by asking, "How did things go in Sunnydale?"

"About as bad as could be expected. Dude, they put me in charge. Does that tell how fucked up things were?"

"I'm sure you did fine, after all you did manage to save me. I guess some of the things Lorne told you came true. Saw the hug."

"He told you?" Ok, I'm panicking now. I asked him not to tell Angel; actually I begged and pleaded. Oh God...what did I do now?

"No, he just told me you were skeptical and about the bet he made with you."

"Oh..." Whew! Damn for a second there I thought...

"Most of the other stuff I already knew and I sorta guessed the rest."

OK, back to panic. "What?"

"It's really ok, Faith. I'm not upset with you, nor will I be. Lorne told me two years ago that I wasn't her soulmate, I'm not the one she belongs with. I told you about it, remember? About how I sang Mandy. It was your birthday. Remember?"

"You knew? And you still came to visit me?"

"Yeah, I did."

I sit there for a moment, just taking everything in, he asks, "What about Spike?"

"Oh, um...he won't be a problem, he kinda helped save the world. The amulet you gave Buffy, caused him and the whole Hellmouth to implode. Took Sunnydale with it...that's why we have nowhere to go. Remember?"

He grins at me for mocking him and says, "Yeah, I just like hearing the part where Spike implodes."

I so wasn't expecting him to say that and I laugh and say, "Yeah, I bet. I'm just glad it wasn't you."

"You'd miss me?"

"Yeah...for about a minute." I just grin at him for a sec, and then I remember to tell him the other news, "Oh, guess who else got dusted?"



He looks at me in disbelief, "You dusted Drusilla?"

"Buffy and I tagged teamed her, she didn't stand a chance. She was hanging with this really dorky vamp calling himself Dracula, but I'm not really sure I believe it cause I've met plenty that claimed they were Lestat."

"You didn't happen to dust him did ya?"

"Um, no, he kinda turned into a bat and flew away."

"Yeah, he has a habit of doing that. It's annoying, him and his stupid sleeping in coffins and turning into a bat...I mean, come on..."

OK, I know where this rant is going, it will soon degenerate into a diatribe about hack writers and how Anne Rice is an idiot. I say why blame her; put the blame where it belongs, on Stoker, cause he started it. But either way, I don't really care, just as long as he doesn't rag on Stephen King. So, I must stop him before he really gets going. "How about you tell me what's going on around here?"

He sighs and I know this isn't gonna be good, but I'll let him tell me. "You were right. About Cordelia. That wasn't her."

"What was it?" Cool, I was right. Damn I'm good. OK, probably not the time to gloat about my awesome powers of deduction.

"Some entity who used her to gain access to our dimension. If you hadn't seen it, she might be dead, and not just in a coma."

Shit. I know he's really devastated by this, probably feels like he let her down, like it's his fault. "Well, sometimes people come out of coma's..."

It's all I got; I'm really not good at sympathy. Most people assume it's because I don't care, but it's not, I do care, I just have trouble showing it. The prison shrink seemed to think it's because I didn't have any role models to learn it from. But I try to say something helpful.

"Just...um, make sure you visit a lot. They say visitors help."

And I guess I did ok cause he looks up at me and smiles slightly. "Thanks."

"Welcome. Now what about Connor? Then you can tell me why the cops aren't after me anymore."

"I made a deal."

"A deal? With who?"

"Wolfram and Hart..."

"WHAT!? Are you insane?"

Ok, I'm yelling now, but is the man crazy. That place is pure evil. What the fuck was he thinking?

"Quit yelling and let me explain."

I wave him along and he continues.

"We all made deals with them."

I just raise an eyebrow and he's sighing again, guess I'm annoying him or something.

"They gave us the whole LA operation, I'm the CEO, and it's up to me to run it as I see fit. Anyway, I don't know what the rest of them were given, but I asked that they try to heal Cordelia. And to place Connor in a home, with a real family. Kinda like the monks did with Dawn."

"Why? He's your son..."

"I couldn't reach him Faith. Every day he just sank deeper and deeper until finally I just couldn't reach him anymore. There was nothing else I could do to make it any better."

OK, that makes sense. That I get. I've been there, sinking deeper every day, hoping against hope someone or something could make it better. All the while believing help was impossible.

"They also got you freed. I figured that was only fair since they got you arrested in the first place, and now it's like nobody was ever looking for you; you've got a clean slate."

"You did that for me?" Why? Why would he do that for someone like me? "Why?"

"Because...that's what big brothers are for."

Wow, is he like the greatest man alive? Ok, he's not actually alive, and he ain't really a man, but he kinda is my big goofy older brother.

"And here's some stuff you might need: a brand new Massachusetts Driver's License, a social security card, and ATM card for an account I started for you. The pin is the last four digits of your social security number. I tried to get a copy of your real one but apparently you never had one. We're still trying to track down your birth certificate."

"You're giving me more money?"

"Yeah, consider it your first paycheck..."

"Hmmm, I'm guessing a paycheck means you expect me to do like, chores, right?"

Damn, didn't think I'd be getting chores. I mean; I'm a little tired. Getting beaten up, drugged up, blown up and then fighting in the Hellmouth, I think I deserve a break.

"That's usually how those things work. And I knew you wouldn't just let me give you money, so..."

Who said I wouldn't let him give me money? I definitely never did. Suddenly I get an idea. "Would I get the use of a company car? Something...fancy?"

"I'll have one brought over."

"Cool. Listen...I gotta go. Enough info for one day. Or else my head is going to explode."

I get up to leave, but stop and say, "I still got stuff I wanna say about this whole Wolfram and Hart deal, so I'm reserving my right to talk shit about it. Cause in my experience if something looks too good to be true, it probably is..."

He laughs slightly and nods at me. I guess he knows me well enough by now. "Oh, Faith?"


"There're also some other things we need to discuss, but I need a little time to sort it out."

"Other things? They about me?"

He nods. I look at him, trying to gauge the seriousness of whatever he's not telling me. I kinda get the feeling that this is pretty serious so I move back toward the desk and ask, "What other stuff?"

"Try not to worry about it tonight."

"Well, I already am, so tell me now."

He looks like he's thinking about it and then I realize he's not gonna crack when he asks, "Do you trust me?"

God I hate that question. I cannot tell you how many times that question has come back to bite me in the ass and not in a good way. My mind is screaming at me to say, no, fuck no, no fucking way, but my heart says to do it. Finally, after nervously pacing the office for a few seconds I nod, "Yeah."

"Then give me some time."

I was about to say something else, but I felt something...someone. Busted! I whip the door open and a blonde and a redhead fall through to the floor. They look really ridiculous lying on the floor in a big pile; I just shake my head and step over them as I leave the office. As I head upstairs I can hear Buffy and Willow's lame ass excuses for being pressed up against the door.

I walk into my room, and I'm surprised by what I see. Above the bed is a sign that says, "Welcome Home Sis..." That and the other decoration makes me laugh-a framed poster of the Patriot's Superbowl victory. My Tommyboy prominently displayed. I walk around and open the closet, it's full of clothes, all my tastes and styles. There's a radio with some of my favorite CD's sitting on the desk next to a laptop.

I flip up the screen and see a yellow Post-It, 'Don't get too excited, I took it out of your paycheck.' I wonder just how large this paycheck is? I also wonder how shocked everyone would be to see me with a laptop, bet they probably think I wouldn't know what it is. You'd be surprised the amount of stuff you can learn inside. Like how to light a cigarette with just a staple and a microwave. Yeah, prisoners have access to a microwave. And computers and email accounts. Although some of those little perks are only available if you manage to save a guard from getting stabbed to death. But that's another story.

I smile at the door, and begin the countdown. 5..4..3..2..1. Knocking. Bingo. I know who it is. I let her in, and she's trying to glare at me, but it's not working. We end up laughing and I ask, "You didn't hurt yourself did ya?"

"Just my pride, so, thanks for that."

Well, what did she expect me to do, knock before LEAVING the office? "Any time."

She doesn't say anything, she just looks around the room at all the stuff. I can see her mind working, trying to make sense of it. She stares up at the sign for a moment and asks, "You have family here?"

"Um, no family, it's kinda a joke between me and Angel. The first time he came to visit he told them he was my brother, so..."


Oh? That's it? I was expecting her to flip, be angry or something, but she's not. "What brings you by?"

"Me? I was, uh, just, uh..."

"Trying to hide from Angel and Willow and pretty much everyone else?"

POV Buffy

Aww. She's concerned about me. She's teasing on the outside, but her feelings say different. Normally I'd be offended that she called me on it. I'd think she was trying to point out my faults. But now, I get it. She says these things cause she wants me to know she understands. I sit on the bed with a sigh and say, "Yeah. Everyone is going to ask me a bunch of questions I don't have any answers to, so I'm hiding."

"How do you know I'm not gonna ask you questions you don't wanna answer?"

That's a fair question. I think about it, ponder it; try to explain my reasons for being here. After 'hiding,' the other is cause I was kinda hoping 'hiding' would lead to some serious make out time. But somehow I doubt she'll wanna do that, which is freaky in itself cause she has restraint, and I don't. What bizarro planet is this? "I just know."

She's just staring at me now, and then she says, "I'm not going to be him, Buffy."

Well, I was right, she's not asking questions, although she is bringing up stuff I don't wanna deal with. "What's that suppose to mean?"

"I'm not going to get on that long line of Buffy worshippers, I'm not going to tell you that everything you do is perfect cause that's crap, sometimes you do things that downright suck."

"And you don't do things that suck?" OK, I'm getting a little angry here. Who the hell is she to judge me?

"Didn't say that. I have done lots of things I'm not particularly proud of..."

"Good, so back off." She just sighs at me, like I'm an annoying child. She runs her hand through her hair, she sits next to me and is quiet for a few moments before she speaks again.

She's softer this time, calmer. "I didn't mean for it to sound like that, like I was accusing you. I'm not. It's just...for this to work, for us to work; we have to be on equal ground here. Anything other than that would cheapen what I think we could have, what we can be to each other. We need to deal with the past first, believe me I'd much rather forget it, but it won't go away no matter how much we might want it to now. Not to mention the fact, this is a big lifestyle change for you, Buffy. I don't know if you're ready for everything that comes with it."

Huh? "What about you? This isn't a lifestyle change for you?"

"Not really. Who's gonna give a shit I'm gay? Nobody. But for you, your friends..."

"They won't have a problem with it, believe me. Do you really think Willow is gonna try and talk me out of it?"

"No. It's more the 'who you'd be doing' that will be the problem."

I laugh slightly and she's seems to get a little upset with the laughing so I quickly explain, "Oh please...after Spike, I doubt they will even raise an eyebrow. And Xander, I'm sure he'll be loving it, of course we probably won't see him for a few days, but..."

We just look at each other and say, "Ewww."

We both laugh and she says, "Yeah, Giles will probably be like, 'oh bloody hell'..."

And now I'm rolling with laughter cause that's exactly what he said about Willow when he found out. Plus, Faith's imitation of his accent is dead on.

After a few minutes she says, "I just want you to be sure this is what you want. That you think before you leap.

I move so we are facing each other and reach out to stroke her cheek gently, "I've thought about this...I've thought A LOT about this."

I'm about to kiss her and there's a knock again. "We really need to invest in a 'Do Not Disturb' sign."

She grins and says, "You ain't kidding..."

She answers the door and I can't see who it is or what they want, but she took something from them. Closing the door, she turns and holds up car keys. "Wanna go for a ride? There's something I need to show you."


Chapter Five - Revisiting the Past

POV Buffy

OK, I'm not really sure what I've just gotten myself into. Hopefully she knows how to drive. I can't imagine Angel would give her a car without knowing if she could drive. Right?

The car is awesome, it's red and sporty, and she seems really excited about it, and when I didn't join in her enthusiasm, she yelled at me, "It's a Porsche!" I was like yeah, and? She just rolled her eyes and opened the door for me; she's really cute when she's being all chivalrous. I just shrugged and got in. I smiled to myself cause I knew it was a Porsche, my dad had one just like it, but I liked watching her get all huffy about it.

It seems my worries about her driving were for nothing apparently cause Faith is actually a good driver, I woulda thought she'd be a little reckless behind the wheel, but she's not, she even uses turn signals. And the music she chose to play, I woulda thought heavy metal, but she choose a classic rock station. I even caught her signing along to the radio, it was a song I had never heard before in my life, but she knew it. She seemed a little shocked that I never heard of the guy before, I think his name was Neil Young and the song was about an old man or something. I'm starting to understand that the Faith I think I know, does not exist.

We finally arrive at UCLA of all places, and I'm totally confused, what could she possibly want me to see here? She takes my hand in hers and we walk inside one of the buildings, she stops right before she opens the door to one of the classrooms and says, "We need to be quiet, I think the lecture is still going on."

Lecture? Faith is taking me to a lecture, ok, now I know I must have died in the Hellmouth, pretty soon I'll be waking up in a coffin. Again. I shake those thoughts away and follow her inside. She's right, there is a lecture going on, students are madly taking notes, nobody seems to notice us as we slip into the back row. I look around at everyone, wondering what she wants me to see; perhaps if I had listened to what the Professor was taking about I might have had a clue as to what was coming next. We sit for a long while until the class is dismissed, we wait until they all leave and Faith says, "Come on."

The Professor is erasing the board and he turns around to see Faith and his eyes light up and he says, "You're free?"

"Yeah, I'm free..."

She turns to me and says, "Buffy, I'd like you to meet Professor Lester Wirth."

Holy shit, did she just say Wirth? It can't be, she...she killed him. "But..."

She whispers by my ear, "Say hi Buffy, you don't want him to think you're retarded do you?"

"Hello." OK, Faith has a lot of explaining to do. I glare at her as he says to me, "I'm glad to meet you Buffy."

Faith continues the conversation like I'm not even there, "I just wanted to stop by to let you know I got out. Um, the books you lent me, um...I'm not quite sure what happened to them..."

"Oh, I picked them up from your friend Angel a few nights ago, so no need to worry about that."

"Good, I was worried they were lost. Anyway, I know you have another class soon so I don't wanna hold you up, but maybe if you're free we could get together if you want."

"That would be great. I'd like that. Give me a call and we'll set something up."

They exchange some more pleasantries and he leaves presumably for his next class. OK, what the hell is this all about? I'm still stuck on the fact Faith didn't really kill the volcanologist. And I went and told everybody she did, actually I told Andrew which pretty much guaranteed everyone would hear about it and in a very exaggerated way. I really didn't want the girls to like her.

"Let's go sit outside and I'll tell you all about the good professor."

I just nod along and follow in stunned silence, she doesn't start talking until we get outside and sit under one of the trees on the campus grounds.

"I know you want an explanation, and I really wish I had one to give to you. But the truth of the matter is, I don't know how he's still alive because as far as I know, I killed him. Imagine my surprise when Angel brought him to the prison and introduced us. I guess Angel ran into him by accident here on campus and knew I wouldn't believe it unless I saw him. Wirth has no idea what happened in Sunnydale, he doesn't remember anything. He's a really nice guy; he would come to visit me once or twice a month and every single holiday. I don't know why, I guess he felt bad for me or something, but it didn't matter cause it's not like I had lots of people wanting to see me."

I'm not quite sure what I'm supposed to say to all this. "What do you mean 'as far as you know, you killed him?'"

"I mean, I have memories of going to his apartment and killing him, but I guess it didn't happen, cause he's alive and still human. It's really not all that unusual for me, cause ever since I arrived in Sunnydale weird things happened to me. And even before, I don't know...the things I remember are all bad, like nothing good ever happened to me, and that can't be right. I mean...something must have gone my way at one point or another, right?"

"What kind of weird things?"

"Like I mean I would wake up and it would be like days or hours later than I thought. Remember the other night, you asked me about reading the Slayer Handbook. I must have read it because I could tell you damn near everything in it, but I don't remember actually sitting down and reading it. And then other times I would remember things I did, but I couldn't remember why I actually did those things. It was like everything was out of my control, nothing made any sense."

I remember the night on the rooftop at Angel's old office, she was trying to tell me all this then, and again I didn't listen. The only thing I can do now is to ask, "Can you tell me anything specifically?" And as soon as I ask the question, I can feel her tense up, and I sense her emotions, they're all over the place, she's going from angry to sad to scared to ashamed and embarrassed.

She takes a deep breath, and just when I think she's not gonna say anything she finally starts with, "Do you remember your 18th Birthday and the test the Council made you take?"

Uh-oh, I think I'm about to find out something that I'm not gonna like, but I nod and she goes on.

"Well, um...a day or two before your birthday, the uh Council came to see me. I mean, not the whole Council just that old guy..."

"Quentin Travers..." I add helpfully, as I am dreading what she is about to say. Pieces of the puzzle are starting to slide together and I don't like where they are leading me.

"Yeah, him. I don't really remember much of what happened, I'm pretty sure they're responsible, but everything is kinda hazy. I'm pretty sure I let him in to talk and the next thing I know I'm waking up and it's the day after your birthday. Um..."

I can see she's trying hard not to cry as she tells me, "I woke up in the back of this truck, and I had no idea how I got there. Which was disturbing enough, but then I realized that my...um...my pants are around my ankles and I don't know why, although we can assume it wasn't a good thing. I was totally freaked out; I had no idea what went on or what to do. So, I went to your house..."

No, no, no, no, please don't go there. Please don't tell me you came to me for help and I completely turned my back on you, please, Faith, don't tell me that, but it's too late, that's exactly what she's gonna tell me.

"...you were so mad at me..." and now she's crying and I don't know what to do, "...you were mad because I missed your birthday and I stood there and you wouldn't listen to me. I wanted to be there for your birthday, honestly I did. I didn't know about the test until I went to Giles. I was still freaked out and I needed someone and he was supposed to be my watcher too. Instead of telling him what happened, he told me. He told me about the test and how he was fired and that the Council would be sending both of us a new watcher."

I just look at her, she's crying and I'm crying. I never knew. My head was so far up my ass I never even considered the Council might have had something to do with it. I just assumed she was off partying and getting laid. Oh God, what did I do? I'm supposed to help people and the one person who needed me the most I let down. That fucking Quentin Travers is a jackass, but I'm sure he didn't realize what had happened, he wouldn't allow that to happen, right? Just some stupid scumbag they hired decided to...I can't even finish the thought cause it's so...disturbing. I can't imagine what it must have felt like for her, waking up like that, knowing something happened, and then trying to ask for help that neither Giles nor I provided. I know nothing I can do will ever make up for the fact I wasn't there for her, I think I get what Faith meant by some things you just can't take back, no matter how much you might want to. I reach over to her and pull her into a hug and she doesn't resist me, and I just tell her how sorry I am and how it wasn't her fault over and over again.

We stayed like that for a long while, me just holding her, it felt nice. No, that's not correct, it felt right. Of course it all ended quickly when she heard the ding, ding of an ice cream truck. In a flash she was up and out of my arms and yelling over her shoulder she'd bring me back something. I was a little upset at first but then I realized why she left so quickly, it's because she feels uncomfortable having shared something so emotional with me.

I take my time finishing my ice cream because I know after I'm done it will be my turn to share and I don't wanna. I know she wouldn't push me into doing it, but I also know it would hurt her if I shut her out again, especially after what she just told me. So, I finish the ice cream and take a deep breath and proceed to tell her about me.

POV Faith

I know she's just wasting time, pretending to lick every bit of ice cream off the stick, even though it's all been gone for a while now. It would be sexy as hell had we not been in the middle of telling each other things we swore we would never tell anyone. I know she's not gonna stiff me on the dishing dirt, but I also know how hard it is to start talking. So I try to wait patiently and not fidget too much.

"I'm not sure where to start, but I guess starting with how I wound up with Spike is as good a spot as any. I guess it all started when I came back...I was back, but I didn't want to be back. I had wanted to jump; I wanted it to all be over. Death was my gift, so I either kill Dawn or kill myself, and I was just so tired of having to fight all the time, of feeling like I'd never get to be normal, I was tired of losing everybody I loved. And the thing I've never told anyone, not Spike nor my friends, is that I jumped because I wanted to die, not because I wanted to save the world."

She looks at me, her eyes wet with tears, it's like she's expecting me to yell at her or condemn her for wanting to die, but she'll be waiting a long time. I won't ever do that to her because I know what she means, I'd been there myself. And I already knew that stuff, I already knew what she did, what she wanted, and hopefully she won't ever find out how I know all that stuff.

I don't say anything but I take her hand in mine, try to reassure her, to support her, to let her know I understand that I get it. To show her I'm not like all the others, I can understand her in ways nobody else can because I'm a slayer just like her.

"So, I'm back and I just feel empty. It was like I couldn't feel anything and I wanted so desperately to feel something. I was walking around going through the motions of living but not truly feeling alive. And my friends just kinda ignored it; they just wanted things to go back to normal. I tried to act like I cared, but it just got to be too much and I'd spent as much time away from them as I could. I started out small, letting random vamps hit me so I could feel something. Physical pain was better than nothing, but a little led to a little more until one day I just let a vamp beat on me. I had no interest in trying to stop him; it was like I wanted...I needed to be punished. Punished for choosing the wrong thing, for betraying my calling."

"If it wasn't for Spike coming along, the vamp probably would have killed me. I hated Spike for not letting me do it anymore; he followed me everywhere on patrol making sure I was doing what I was supposed to do. Eventually I got sick of it and we fought, it used to be he couldn't hit me back, but what surprised me was that he could hit me now. He could hurt me, so I let him. I let him do whatever he wanted to me and after every time I'd swear it was the last time, but there I was every night going back to him. I was just using him; I didn't really care about him, most of the time I didn't even like him."

"I finally put an end to it, but he wouldn't give up, he finally wound up trying to...um...force me to be with him. Which wasn't really all his fault cause I always resisted at first, cause that made it seem like less my fault and more his fault. And he didn't have a soul at the time, he just had that stupid chip that wouldn't let him hurt anyone...anyone but me. And then everyone found out about it, Willow was confused but didn't really give me shit about it, I guess Tara kinda helped me there. But Xander...he was so angry at me, so disappointed...so disgusted..."

"Well, that's Xander for you. Always sees things others are doing wrong, but never wants to take any responsibility for his actions. And, hello...didn't he like date an ex-vengeance demon and not really mind when she went back to being all demony."

She gives me a look, and I realize I might have said a little too much, maybe I shouldn't be talking shit about him, shouldn't let my own issues with him come into play.

"Well...he was right Faith. What I was doing with Spike was wrong..."

OK, I'm not gonna let this one pass, I have to say something. "OH MY GOD...you had sex...alert the media, call Giles cause there could be an apocalypse. Come on Buffy, it's really not that big a deal..."

"But he didn't have a soul, and I didn't love him...I used him. Xander had every right to be..."

"No, he didn't. He had no right to pass judgement on you; no right to act like he's a better person than you. He had no idea what you were going through, no idea. So, big deal, you had inappropriate sex, it's not the first time that's ever happened in the world. Hell...you're probably not even the first Slayer to do it. And it don't make you a bad person, it just makes you a person..."

We sit there for a long time without saying anything else, just watching life go on around us, lost in our own thoughts. After a while, she laughs slightly and jokes, "Why do I get the feeling you're just saying that so I won't give you shit about Robin?"

Robin...damn. That's a tricky subject isn't it? I'm still wondering why I slept with him, he really isn't my normal type, not to mention that I knew Buffy and I had a future together before I left LA so why did I try to blow it by sleeping with him. Perhaps its one of those self-fulfilling prophecies the shrink was always yapping about, I did it cause I wanted to fuck things up. Maybe that is it, I tried to sabotage myself, and then I continued to do it by telling her about it, so maybe that's just...typical me behavior. Ruin it before it even has a chance, then again, how mad could she be about Robin, her and I weren't together, now if she wanted to be mad about people I slept with...oh...fuck...

"It's not Robin I'm worried about..." It's the whole Riley subject that has me concerned.

She stops for a moment and says, "Riley..."

I just let it hang there, I don't wanna acknowledge it cause I got nothing to say about it. There is nothing that can be said to defend that, to justify it. I won't even try, cause I know I'm a scumbag for doing it, just gotta accept it. Just gotta accept whatever she wants to say about it, about me, so I brace myself for the worst.

"I think sleeping with him was punishment enough..."

Huh? Did she just...? I wasn't expecting to hear anything like that, I whip my head up in surprise and I'm looking right in her eyes, she's smirking at me, I shrug. "Yeah, he was kinda..."

"Horrible? Bad? Unfulfilling? Utterly...vanilla? Am I getting warm here?"

Uh-oh, this could be a trap. "I'm just gonna stick with no comment..."

She gives me a little nudge on my shoulder, her eyes are still twinkling mischievously, "Come on, pick one..."

Fuck it...she asked..."Well horrible is the word that first comes to mind..."

She laughs, "That's my girl..."

I stop for a moment and I think about what she just said. Am I her girl? I think she knows what I'm thinking cause she asks, "Does it bother you?"

I shake my head yes but I say, "No..." I grin a little and continue, "I kinda like it."

She says, "Me too." And she leans in and kisses me, oh God, Buffy kisses, I'm really digging those. Things would have gotten a whole lot more involved had we not heard the gasp from the couple and their children who walked by at that moment. I start to worry about her reaction, especially when the guy says to us, "You know you're going to hell..."

I was about to tell the guy where he could go and how to get there, but instead Buffy turns to the guy and says, "Been there, not that bad actually, a little hot and dusty...lots of demons..."

He just mutters and shakes his head as he ushered his little family away from us and she yells after him, "Yeah...you should really go back to your 'red state', ya fucking moron."

I make a show of looking into her eyes as I half-jokingly say, "WOW! You didn't happen to get some of that black oil on you, did you Scully?"

She blushes a bit at her outburst, then laughs, rolls her eyes at me, "No, Mulder I didn't. I'm fine, no abductions nor black oil, but I think I saw Krycek running around."

"I still say that guy was an alien..." I say as we get up and start walking back toward the car. All relevant conversation is over for the moment, but it's ok, it's kinda nice to slip back into something more comfortable. I know we're not done, there's still much more I need to tell her about me, so many more things which might make her not want to be with me. I try to stay positive, try to lose myself in the pleasantness of a ridiculous conversation.

"No he wasn't..."

"OK, how do you explain him having his arm cut off in one episode and it being back in another. Are we supposed to believe it just grew back? That it was a miracle..."

We argue back and forth about the X-Files all the way back to the hotel. It's not the first time we've argued over that show, nor will it be the last. I'd be rather embarrassed to admit it, but we've also spent lots of time arguing over Dawson's Creek, which I personally believe should have been called Pacey's Creek.



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