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Chapter 3: Layers

Faith smirked, her dimples flashing as she winked. "'Course, if she happens to walk into somethin' or trip, that ain't my problem either."

Dawn snickered. "Of course it isn't."

"Faith," Buffy warned.

"What?" She asked defensively. "Short-shit's always been kinda clumsy."

"Uh-huh," Buffy drawled, a reluctant smile playing at the corners of her mouth. "I can remember some of those incidents."

She shrugged. "See?"

The blonde nodded. "Yeah, and it's really funny how you were always around."

"I was just tryin' to help her out," She said, trying for innocent but sounding far from it.

Dawn was giggling hysterically by now. She gave Faith a wink, grateful that she'd gotten Buffy to cheer up a little. She rolled her eyes when the Slayer gave her a disgruntled look.

"Strange how I don't remember you ever being that helpful before," Buffy continued contemplatively.

"I have layers," Faith answered, unable to keep from snickering.

"And most of them come off when you take a shower," She returned, a slight challenge in her tone.

"You've been thinkin' 'bout me in the shower, B?" Faith smirked, touching her hand to the area of her chest above her heart. "I'm touched, really."

"The only touching going on is what you're doing to yourself."

Getting herself calmed down, Dawn managed to gasp out, "Stop it, both of you! I can all ready tell this is delving somewhere extremely disgusting!"

Faith chuckled, scooping up another helping of eggs on her fork. "You'll live, squirt."

Buffy cleared her throat, "Faith?"

She sighed deeply and shrugged. "Aight, ya got my word. I won't go after her."

"Thank you."

"Whatever," She muttered, shooting Dawn a glare as the younger woman giggled.

Buffy cleared her throat. "Anyway, that's enough about my issues. What brought you back, Faith?"

She smirked. "Wishin' I was gone all ready?"

Buffy leaned her elbow on the breakfast bar top and propped her chin in her open hand. She rolled her eyes.

"Yes, I'm just waiting for you to leave so I can throw a party."

"Bet it'll have a theme and everything, won't it?"

She nodded. "Uh-huh, I'll call it, 'Ladies and gentlemen, it is now safe to let your sons out to play'."

Faith tilted her head, her expression contemplative. Then she shrugged, "Seems a little long for a theme name."

"I thought you were in Texas taking care of Terri or whatever her name was," Buffy said, returning to her original topic.

Faith took the last bite of her eggs and chewed it quickly. Then she gulped the rest of her juice down and settled back on the stool. She shrugged.

"I got that sitch settled and Giles suggested a break. I didn't have anywhere else to be, so I hopped the plane with him and here I am in dear old Cali."

"How did things go with Perry, Faith?" Dawn asked. "I know Giles was really worried."

Faith's expression turned serious. "She's pretty messed up. Some things were done to her when she was a kid that caused her to have a mental breakdown and the power of bein' a Slayer was too much for her. We had to call Red in."

Buffy's eyes were pinned to Faith's face as she spoke. No matter how many times she saw it, the change in the dark haired woman when she spoke about work amazed her. She wasn't anywhere near as bad as she once was, but there was still a certain amount of immaturity in her behavior most of the time. But certain things, like the work she did with the troubled Slayers, brought out the adult in Faith like nothing else could.

She'd been skeptical at first when Giles suggested Faith become a Social Worker of sorts for the Slayers who had trouble coping with the power. She'd thrown a fit about it for weeks and then when Faith brought in the first girl, Giles had forced Buffy to watch the way the girl responded to Faith. It had been nothing short of amazing. The young Slayer had spoken to Faith with a rough respect that she didn't afford anyone else.

Now, almost eleven years later, Sharon was one of Faith's most successful cases. She was also a Social Worker for the Council herself now. There had been other successes and several failures over the years, but it was blaringly obvious that Faith was their best. She just had a way with them that no one else could duplicate.

Buffy shared a wince with Faith at the mention of calling Willow in. That was a last resort. It meant having to take the girl's power away. Neither of them liked it, but sometimes it had to be done for everyone else's safety.

"I guess you'll be staying here?" Buffy asked.

"Yeah," She answered.

"You'll have to use the foldout on the couch," Dawn said apologetically.

Faith shrugged. "That's aight. Just means you gotta gimme some PJs."

"What?" Dawn asked, confused. "Why?"

"Texas is too fuckin' hot to wear anything to bed so I didn't take any with me."

"You don't have anything upstairs?"

Faith smirked and gestured at the blonde Slayer as she said, "Unless B's plannin' on givin' those back to me, nope."

Buffy rolled her eyes. "I'm not staying here tonight, so you'll have the guestroom back."

"Wait," Dawn said softly. "Where are you going to go? Last night you were mumbling something about a motel?"

"I've got a fucking big mouth," The blonde muttered.

Faith's eyes widened and her mouth twitched. She wasn't sure if it was so much as what Buffy said or how she'd phrased it. Either way, it struck her as hilarious. She bit her bottom lip, shaking her head as she tried not to burst into laughter.

"Don't even say it," Buffy growled, not even bringing her gaze to the younger Slayer.

"Say what?" She gasped out, losing the struggle.

"Whatever it is that's bouncing around in your deranged little brain."

Snickering, Faith held up her hands in front of her. "Not me. I wasn't thinkin' anything."

At Buffy's skeptical look, she added, "Honestly."

"Anyway," Dawn said loudly, interrupting what she was sure would be another in a long run of mutual antagonistic harassment. "It won't kill Faith to sleep in the den. It isn't the first time she's had to do it."

"Yup, me and the couch are old buddies by now," Faith said flippantly.

Buffy eyed the brunette Slayer warily. "Well it may not kill you, but it might just be the final nail in my coffin if I walk downstairs and find you naked."

Faith smirked and leaned on the breakfast bar. "Y'know, B, you keep talkin' 'bout me naked and I'm gonna start thinkin' you got a thing for me."

"In your dreams, F," Buffy replied dryly.

A sudden flash of memory from earlier that morning caused a flush to creep up Buffy's face. She'd gotten dressed in the PJs she'd found and fallen into the bed. Just before she'd passed out, she'd buried her face in the tank top and inhaled deeply. She recalled fuzzily thinking the faintly familiar spicy scent was the sexiest thing she'd ever smelled.

Now, all she could do was force herself to keep eye contact with Faith as she balked inwardly. Oh, God. What is wrong with me?

"At least we're havin' fun there, B," The younger Slayer snickered.

It was the alcohol. Buffy told herself sternly. There's absolutely nothing sexy about her. Except her lips, her eyes, her breasts, her a—No, don't even go there! There's nothing!

Jerking her attention back to Faith, she rolled her eyes. "I'm sure you are, at any rate."

"Stop it," Dawn said in exasperation. "If you don't, you'll both be staying in a motel tonight."

Faith shrugged and pushed her stool back as she stood. She grabbed her plate and glass, rolling her eyes when both Summers women immediately held theirs out to her. She glared at them as she stacked the dishes.

"Y'know, I cooked. I shouldn't have to clean."

Dawn giggled as she stood. "Yeah, well, we have to get dressed so we can leave. We need to pick Buffy's stuff up from the motel."

"And you really don't want me helping anyway," Buffy chuckled as she got up. "I suck at domesticated chores."

"Uh-huh," Faith grunted and then carried the dishes to the sink. "I think I'm bein' handed a load of bullshit, but whatever. Get outta here all ready."

"Later, Faith," Dawn tossed over her shoulder as she turned to go.

Buffy took one last look at Faith before following her sister from the room. She didn't know what was going on in her head, but whatever it was? She had to get out of that room because things were looking a little dangerous.

Faith looked over her shoulder to watch Buffy leave, a smirk spreading across her lips. She'd seen the blonde's blush and knew she'd won this round. She couldn't wait for the next one to start. This trip is startin' to look a whole lot better.

She frowned. As long as she doesn't start cryin' or nothin'—'cause then I might have to go kick short-shit's ass.

Chapter 4: The Trouble with Relationships

"I don't know, Dawn. I just can't go inside that house right now."

Dawn sighed in frustration. "You're going to have to eventually."

"It's just too soon," Buffy mumbled.

"Okay, we'll wait. But you won't be able to hide in my guestroom for long, Buffy."

"I get that," She muttered.

Dawn closed the front door behind them, calling out, "Faith, we're back."

"Good, that means B can get me some more vodka since she drank my stash," Faith answered as she walked down the stairs.

"Buffy," Dawn said slowly. "Tell me you didn't end up drinking more this morning when you got here."

"Okay," She answered obediently. "I didn't drink more when I got here this morning."

"Then what happened?" Dawn asked, momentarily confused.

"I drank it when I woke up," She said with a shrug.

Dawn sputtered, "Jesus, Buffy!"

"I'm going upstairs," She said, interrupting her sister before she could get any further into her rant.

"It's not even noon yet, Buffy."

She shrugged, and crossed the room. "I just want to be alone for a little while."

"Want me to come get ya when it's time for lunch?" Faith asked, stepping aside so Buffy could reach the stairs.

"No," Buffy muttered. "I'll come down when I'm ready."

"Aight," Faith replied with a shrug, "Later, B."

"Uh-huh," Buffy grunted, shifting her bag on her shoulder as she headed upstairs.

The younger Slayer glanced at her and then turned to see Dawn about to speak. She held up a hand to stop her.

"Don't, D. Let her have some time to herself."

"But I'm worried about her," Dawn muttered.

Faith waited for Buffy to disappear upstairs before she closed the distance between them. She grabbed Dawn's arm and pulled the protesting woman through the doorway by the stairs. She shut the door to the den and released her.

"D, I know you understand that it's tough as fuck for a relationship to work. But it's even worse for a Slayer. It ain't often we can find someone we can be ourselves with."

"I know that," Dawn answered sharply. "I've been here through all seven of Buffy's relationships, y'know?"

"Okay, then how do you think she's feelin' right now?" She asked her, brown eyes darkening with intense understanding.

Faith crossed her arms over her chest and continued, "It was doomed from the start with Spike and Angel 'cause of the whole Slayer and vamp thing. Scott wasn't even in the runnin' and neither was Riley. Neither of 'em could ever come close to bein' her equal."

A smirk twitched her lips and she added, "Don't even get me started on Parker Abrams. I wasn't there for that one but I've heard enough about it over the years. Apparently the juice wasn't even worth the squeeze."

"What's your point, Faith? None of this is a good reason to let her become self-destructive," Dawn snapped.

The dark Slayer licked her lips and held her arms out at her sides. "Point is? Satsu had everything B wanted in a relationship. She understood, she accepted, and she could give and take just as much as B could. It doesn't get any better than that."

She dropped her arms back to her sides and stuffed her hands in her pockets. Heart aching in sympathy, Faith continued softly, "B's feelin' like she just lost her only chance at happiness, Dawn. She needs time."

The younger woman's anger evaporated just like that and she moved over to sit down on the couch. She leaned her elbows on her knees and looked up at Faith.

"How is it that you understand this better than I do? All I can focus on is that I don't get how anyone could love Satsu enough to be all that broken up over losing her."

Faith sighed, smiling sadly. "It's kinda how I felt when Robin left. 'Cept B's lost more than I did with him, 'cause he wasn't ever my equal."

Dawn winced. She recalled the breakup between Robin and Faith vividly. It happened over five years ago, but it wasn't easy to forget having nearly every glass object in your kitchen broke. Slayer temper tantrums weren't easy to deal with. She still wasn't sure what exactly had been said or what had led to the destruction of her kitchen.

Wanting to change the subject before Faith became depressed too, she asked, "So what was the problem with Dorian?"

An eyebrow lifted in response, and Faith smirked. "He was an evil serial monogamist and he chose the wrong fuckin' Slayer."

They snickered, recalling Buffy's last relationship before she'd moved to Scotland to work for the Council. It hadn't lasted long and ended shortly before they discovered that he'd only dated her to try to get to the Slayers. Apparently immortality wasn't all that it was cracked up to be because The Immortal was now deceased. It was the one time Buffy hadn't put up a big fuss about Faith going after one of her lovers.

No, in fact, the blonde's exact words when Faith had shown up in the middle of the fight with Dorian had been, "Kill that son of a bitch, F."

Faith's amusement faded and she shrugged. "Just give her some time, D. The good thing 'bout bein' a Slayer is that we ain't gotta worry about becomin' an alcoholic."



Buffy sighed, staring down at the boxers and tank top on the bed. Since she now had her own clothes, she could give these back to Faith, but she didn't really want to. She sighed and rolled her eyes at herself.

What is wrong with me? Maybe it's just 'cause I'm so messed up from the breakup. I mean, this is Faith for God's sake!

She picked the clothing up and turned toward the door. She paused with her hand on the knob, frowning.

Okay, so is it really hurting anyone if I do keep them? I mean, I felt pretty comforted by her scent. She rolled her eyes. God knows why that is.

She let her hand drop and moved to sit down on the bed. Bunching the boxers up in her hand, she rubbed her thumb over the silk. A slight, reluctant smile formed.

Okay, so there's no denying that she's attractive—more than that really. She snorted. But I'm not over Satsu yet. It's not like I'd want anything to happen between me and Faith anyway.

She laughed hoarsely. We'd end up killing each other.

The laughter died in her throat and was replaced by tears. "Fuck," She muttered as she swiped in irritation at her eyes.

I think this may have been the final straw, She mused. I'm starting to understand why Faith doesn't bother with relationships. How many times have I tried, only to end up with my heart being ripped out? Is it even worth it?

Right at that point, her heart was telling her no. And her mind was more than willing to listen as painful memories flashed before her mind's eye. It made her want to shut out the world and hide.

She tossed the boxers back onto the bed and stood, kicking her shoes off. She crawled onto the bed and curled up near the head of the bed, wrapping her arms around her waist. She stared forlornly at the door as her thoughts continued.

None of my relationships have ever turned out for the better. I had to send Angel to Hell, and Scott was just a desperate attempt by a heartbroken girl trying to cling to normalcy. Then when Angel was sent back, it wasn't the same and he left for LA.

She swallowed hard and a tear trickled down her cheek. I can't even count Parker. And while I loved Riley, I wasn't ever in love with him. Spike was just a complete disaster who I ended up caring a lot about but I never even reached the point of loving him.

And then there was Dorian. She snorted, causing more tears to overflow her eyes. I can't even pretend that I actually cared about him. He was just really good in bed and I was kind of enamored with the different lifestyle he was showing me.

I mean, who can resist their very own prince charming who can give them almost anything they want? I just got caught up in the things my old friends and I used to babble on about back at Hemery. She swallowed hard. But I still ended up hurt.

He left me for someone else five months in and not even a week later, I found out he'd only been dating me 'cause he wanted control of the Slayer line. He just gave up on me 'cause he realized I'm not exactly the Chosen One. I still don't get why he didn't try to go for Faith when he found out it was her.

She blinked tiredly and buried her face in her pillow. She struggled to stay awake, but she was losing the battle. With a sigh, she gave in and drifted off.



When Buffy woke up, it was late. The pale moonlight was streaming in from the window across from the bed, leaving the room shaded in silver. She simply laid there for a long span of time, the tightness in her chest overwhelming her.

Then, with a shaky breath, she got up from the bed and moved for the closet. She had to get out of there for a while. She stood in the closet doorway, looking at her clothes musingly. Her eyes fell on a black leather mini-skirt and she smirked.

She wasn't looking to pick anyone up, but she could do with feeling appreciated right now. She reached for the skirt and let her eyes search out the perfect top. With a sigh, she turned and went to the dresser. A white tank top would be better.

Once she was dressed, she pulled on a pair of knee-high leather boots with spiked one inch heels. Then she grabbed her toiletry kit and went to the bathroom to finish getting ready. When she was done, she paused to survey herself in the mirror over the white porcelain sink.

Smoky, dark green eye-shadow brought out the green in her hazel eyes, black eyeliner only adding to the effect. Mascara darkened her pale blonde eyelashes and a light pink lip gloss made her lips shine wetly. Her long blonde hair was loose, framing her face in gentle waves. A satisfied smile creased her lips and she turned to go.



Faith heard the sound of light footsteps upstairs and recognized it right off. Buffy was awake and most likely preparing to sneak out considering how quiet she was being. She glanced at the clock, seeing that it was ten thirty. She sighed.

She'd spent most of the day silently worrying while Dawn hadn't been quiet about it at all. If she didn't follow the blonde, Dawn was going to kick her ass. Hell, she might even let her. But how would Buffy react?

Ah fuck it. With a mental shrug, she reached for her jeans. She'd just have to deal with that later.

She finished dressing and just as she was tying her boots, she heard almost inaudible movement on the stairs. She sauntered to the doorway of the den, pausing with her hand on the frame. Buffy came into sight and all she could do was blink as her eyes hungrily took in the vision before her.

She'd never seen her blonde counterpart look more dangerous, or gorgeous. She swallowed hard. This is a bad idea, her mind whispered.

Her mouth opened as if to say something and then Buffy's eyes caught hers as she came even with her. She closed it with a click of her teeth and lifted an eyebrow in question. Buffy's eyes lowered to take in her jeans and tight black T-shirt and then she shrugged. Faith followed Buffy out of the house, her eyes on the leather clad backside.

Oh, there's gonna be trouble tonight. I just fuckin' know it.


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