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Chapter Twenty Nine

Faith never came back to the library and my new ability freaked everyone out so much they wouldn't be around me anymore. Giles is in total research mode because I'm starting to get this headache that won't go away and being around a lot of people at once hurts. Their thoughts are so loud and I can feel all of their emotions flooding through.

I think Faith might have opened some kind of door or something because it started right after she left. But hopefully I'll be able to forget about all of that now that I'm home. The school day isn't over but Giles thought it would be best if I got some rest so he called my mom, filled her in on the situation and now I'm lying in bed in my cow pajamas. Faith is in her room and mom is downstairs with Sam.

Even though I'm completely alone I can hear their thoughts even all the way from here. Mom is worried about me, hoping one day I'll be able to retire from slaying and just be a normal girl but I know that's not going to happen. Sam is trying to figure out if she likes peanut butter or jelly more and she can't make up her mind. On the one hand peanut butter feels cool because it sticks to your tongue but jelly is sweet like candy. For being only three she makes some pretty good points.

Faith's thoughts are louder and overpowering the others'. She's worried. She's worried about Sam. She's afraid Sam doesn't feel loved, doesn't feel like she's getting enough attention. She's worried Sam is going to grow up damaged because of everything Tanner put them through. Most of all she's worried Sam will be damaged and will hate her if Faith does move out and takes her away from my mom and me.

She's worried about being alone. She's afraid no one is ever going to love her. She thinks I lied to her. That I told her what she wanted to hear so I could be the one in control. She knows deep down that it isn't true but she can't help but think it. She's afraid of being abandoned. She thinks I'm going to 'come to my senses' and find someone else. Someone who's not a high school dropout single mom who doesn't even have a job or a future.

She's been thinking all of that and I've just been lying here listening. I don't know what else to do. She's still pissed that I never said anything and she thinks I don't really love her. How am I supposed to convince her that I do? How am I supposed to explain to her that I'm not going to leave, that I plan on going to US Sunnydale so I can stay close to her and Sam and my mom? How am I supposed to convince her that I care about Sam and the thought of not seeing her every day breaks my heart? I don't know, and it's making my head hurt even more.

Who the fuck do you think you are? I hear her think, and there's so much anger in her voice and makes me cringe. She could be whatever the fuck she wants and you're just holding her back. She's gonna hate you for it. If she doesn't go to college like she should just to be with your stupid ass one day she'll wake up and regret it and she'll hate you. Ok, that's enough. I can't just lie here anymore and listen to this. She needs to know the truth and she's not going to get that if I don't say anything.

I get up and change into a light blue tank top and some cotton pajama bottoms. If I'm going to have this talk with Faith I can't be dressed as a dairy cow or she'll never take me seriously. She probably won't anyway because she's so convinced I don't really want her and we could never work as a couple. I have no idea how I'm going to how her otherwise because once Faith sets her mind to something there's no changing it. I have to try, though. I love her too much to just sit back and watch this fade away no matter how small it may be.

Yeah, we're keeping it a secret and only Willow knows about some of what's been going on, but that's only temporary. When we finally stop these vampires and she gets over Tanner completely and things go back to normal we'll let everyone know what's been going on. My mom will probably never leave us in the house alone ever again but we'll deal. We're teenagers, finding a secret place to be intimate is something we're born to do.

I quietly walk down the hall and stand in front of Faith's door. I'm not trying to be sneaky so she won't hear me. I'm being sneaky so my mom won't hear me. If she thinks something's wrong she'll come up to check on me and that will chase away all the courage I've been working so hard to build up so I can make it through that door. Maybe I should just take off in the middle of the night. Get away quiet and clean. That would be best for everyone. No messy goodbyes. I hear her think and my heart breaks a little. She's too caught up in her thoughts to feel me out here and I know she didn't hear me because she's listening to music.

So this is it: do or die, now or never. Epic love that burns so bright it outshines the sun or growing up to be a lonely spinster with too many cats with names like Ringo and Bootsy. I take a deep breath and slowly turn the knob. I don't bother knocking because I know she'll just tell me to go away and if I hear that before I see her I'll lose my resolve. If I lose that now I might never get the chance to know this right. Just the thought of that makes me want to fall to my knees and cry.

I open the door and I see her sitting on her bed. Her ankles are crossed, her body is tense and she's crying. Not sobbing or anything like that but she's got these big tears running down her face and her makeup is smeared and she's sniffling a lot. She glances over at me and as soon as she sees it's me her eyes tense and form a glare so mean if I were a cat I'd be running away with no skin. But I'm not a cat, I'm a Buffy, and it's going to take more than a dirty look to get me to back off.

"Did you come in to gloat?" she asks and she sounds so bitter. She slowly wipes her tears away and I walk in and shut the door. The song she's listening to ends but starts up again. It must have some special meaning if she has it on repeat. "Come to find out all my big, dark secrets and scare the monsters away?" Every angry word is like a knife to the heart but I don't leave.

"No," I tell her and walk further into the room. She tenses more but I'm not going to leave. She needs to hear this or we won't stand a chance of making things right. Even if I do say this we might not be able to, but I have to try. "I came in here to say I'm sorry. I should have said something sooner, clued you guys in as soon as you walked in the door or this morning when I was brushing my teeth." Her eyes go wide and she looks shocked and pissed enough to kill.

"You heard what I was thinking and you didn't say anything?" she asks and she sounds so pissed that every nerve ending in my body is screaming at me to run away. I fight the urge and sit on the edge of her bed. I let out a small sigh and nod my head yes. "What the fuck, B?" Her voice is getting louder and that needs to not happen or my mom will come up here. If that happens we'll never finish this talk and that's the worst thing that could happen right now.

"I didn't know for sure if I was really hearing voices or not, ok? I woke up and I heard Sam singing the Tiny Toon Adventures theme song and then she started thinking about wanting a rabbit. I heard you thinking about my pout and how you think it's sexy, but I wasn't sure if those were real thoughts or if I was just going crazy," I say and she looks a little less pissed off now. "If I could tune it out I would but I can't shut it off. If it's any consolation I heard my mom think about how lonely she is and how much she needs a boyfriend." She laughs a little and wipes the rest of her tears away.

"That does make me feel a little better," she says and her body is a little more relaxed. Well, her tense version of relaxed anyway. I'm starting to get tense because I need to bring up what she was thinking in the library and what she's been thinking about in here. Ok, I just need to stop being such a coward and say it because things are starting to get awkward and if one of us doesn't say something I might have to destroy her stereo because my God that song is getting on my nerves.

"I didn't just come in here to apologize," I say and she looks at me with dread in her eyes. I guess she knows what I'm about to say. Please, fuck no, don't bring it up. Yep, I guess she knows. "Faith, this thing between us I know it's really hard right now and it seems impossible that we could be happy but I love you. This isn't a fling, I don't want you just for sex, and I planned on applying to UC Sunnydale before I even knew I have feelings for you so I'm not going to run off and leave you for…what's a beefstick?" She gets a suggestive look on her face and I now unfortunately know what that means.

"B, I know you love me but this thing between us, whatever the hell it is, all it's doing is bringing us down and making shit between us really fuckin bad. I can't have that around Sam anymore." She sounds like she's about to start crying again and it breaks my heart. I lean forward and hold onto her hands and she has tears welling up in her eyes. Seeing her like this is killing me. I need to make it better. I need to fix this right now.

"It's bad now because we're trying to keep it a secret and I'm having a really hard time dealing with that. Things are going to get better, Faith, we just have to tough this part out and they'll be better," I tell her and her tears start to fall. I reach out with one hand and gently cup her cheek. She's so beautiful, even when she's crying. God I'm so fucking stupid. Look at me, I'm a total mess. Just a fucked up loser like my dad always said I was gonna be.

"Please stop thinking like that," I say and choke back a sob. I don't know why I didn't know this before, why I never saw it but Faith is the saddest, loneliest person I've ever met. "You're not a stupid, fucked up loser. I would never let anyone say that about the woman I'm in love with, what makes you think you can?" I smile a little and she smiles back but it doesn't reach her eyes. Maybe I'll just start singing whenever you're around. That'll keep ya out of my mind.

"You can try but I don't think it'll work. I'm Buffy, you can't resist me," I tell her and she gets a dirty smirk on her face. The tears have stopped and even though her face is all puffy and red from crying to me she still looks amazing, like always. She slowly runs her fingertips up my arms until they reach my neck. Then slowly down my throat, between my breasts until they're resting on my hips. My whole body feels tingly and my skin is covered in goosebumps. I hate how she has so much control over me.

"No, I guess I can't," she says with that dirty smirk still pulling at her lips. Her dimples are peeking out but not on full display. I can't resist her but can she resist me? She's probably gonna run for the hills when she realizes what she's getting into. Why would she want to give up her life to help me raise my kid? That doesn't make any fuckin sense. I let out a little sigh and lean forward and kiss her. It's tense from the start. Teeth and tongues clashing and pulling, but it ends way too soon.

"Faith, I need to tell you something. Something important," I say and rest my forehead against hers. I wrap my arms around her back and she pulls me closer to her. So close that the only way to sit comfortably is to straddle her lap. That's perfectly ok with me. She looks worried, like I'm about to give her some bad news, but this is nothing but good.

"What is it, B?" she asks and starts blazing a hot trail with her fingertips. Up my spine then down my back, she firmly cups my ass and repeats the whole thing over again. My breathing gets a little heavier because she's not playing fair. She's going under my clothes, running her fingertips along my sensitive skin and she can play unfair all day as long as she doesn't stop doing this. "B?" Oh right, I'm supposed to be saying stuff. I reach back and pull her hands away from me. I can't concentrate long enough to say this if she's groping me.

"This morning in the library when you said you were going to look for your own place," I say and her expression changes. She looks defensive, and trust me that's never a good thing with Faith. I need to hurry up and say something or this is going to turn into a fight. "If you want your won place that's your choice but I want you to know that when you said that a piece of my heart broke. Not just because you would be leaving but just the thought of not seeing Samantha every day hurt's my heart." Faith's entire body is tense and she's not breathing. Crap, what am I supposed to do?

"I guess what I'm trying to say is, I love you and not just you but the whole package. Your little girl is amazing and I care about her a lot. I don't know what I'm doing half the time when it's my turn to baby sit but that doesn't change the fact that I want you both in my life for as long as you'll have me." Ok, that was a lot of talking and she's still not moving or breathing. Doesn't she get she can just say shit like that? This is my kid she's talking about. She can't just say shit like that about Sammy to pull my strings. That's so fuckin out of line.

"Do you mean that?" she asks and I don't think she's ever sounded more vulnerable than right now. Ok, so she has sounded more vulnerable. She sounded really vulnerable after Tanner beat the living hell out of her and I made him leave, but the point is I need to be really careful or this is going to turn into a fight. I wrap my arms around her neck, and she wraps her around my back. She's irritated and suspicious but she's not rejecting contact so that's good. Things might not be as bad as I thought.

"Yes, I mean it," I tell her and the look in her eyes is starting to soften. I can hear her thoughts racing through her mind. All of her truth before she filters it the way she wants me to hear it, if she wants me to hear it at all. I might as well do the same for her. "I know this is going to sound a little crazy and I'm getting way ahead of myself, but one day I can picture us being a family together." She looks a little shocked but I was expecting that. "Sam already calls my mom Grams so I don't think she would have it any other way." That makes Faith smile and she gently rubs my back.

"Yeah, Sam can be stubborn. I don't know where she gets that from," she says with a smirk on her face. I chuckle a little bit, and she kisses me. You have no idea how good it feels to kiss her. After thinking I was never going to get to do this again, having her lips pressed against mine is the best feeling in the world. I know that our problems are not over with and it's going to take a lot of work before we can honestly say we're happy, but sitting here in her arms I feel like our problems aren't bigger than us.



Chapter Thirty

I know it seems impossible but with everything else that's been going on I forgot how special Faith can make me feel. And I'm not talking about my libido and how it only takes one sexy look for her to have it raging out of control. Or that when she runs her fingertips softly along my skin I get goosebumps and a shiver runs up my spine. Or the fact that every time she scrapes her teeth along my pulse point my back arches and my toes curl and this little breathy moan rumbles in my throat.

No, I'm not talking about that at all. It's nice, don't get me wrong, and no one else has ever made me feel like they have complete control over my body, and it's a little scary but exhilarating at the same time. No, I'm not talking about what she makes me feel but how she makes me feel. She makes me feel like I'm the most important person on the planet. Whenever she pulls back from kissing me she looks deep into my eyes with this intense look and it makes me feel like the whole world is revolving around us and this moment.

"So what you're sayin is," Faith says in between heated kisses. I know we're teenage girls and it's a deserved stereotype that we talk too much but right now I really want her to just shut up and take me. If the thought alone didn't make me blush I would tell her but if I tried to get the sentence out I would look like a fool. "That you want the white picket fence and vanilla sky?" She smiles against my lips and I scratch my nails down her back.

"Not right away," I tell her and she starts kissing my neck. She nibbles on my earlobe and my back arches against her body. I feel her hand slide down the side of my body and rest on my hip. I wonder what she's planning to do with that hand. "After I graduate college we could get a house with a big yard and maybe have a baby together." Oh crap, why did I say that? She's going to freak out. I try to hear what she's thinking but there are so many voices in my head I can't tell them apart anymore.

"You wanna have a baby with me?" she asks and am I going crazy or does she actually have a little smirk on her face? Let's think about it. Crazy people hear voices that are not their "inside voice", I have that. Crazy people see things that aren't real and it's safe to say that's happening. Yep, I'm crazy. Time to call an asylum and have me locked up for the rest of my life. She gently runs her fingertips over my cheek and that one little motion calms me down. She's getting too good at that.

"Yeah, I've thought about it," I tell her and the little smile pulling at the corners of her mouth isn't going away. That's weird, normally when I put my foot in my mouth things end badly. "It's not like I have names picked out." That's a lie. "Or a wallpaper pattern for the nursery." That's the truth. "But I've day dreamed about what it might be like to have a family together. Does that freak you out?" Please tell me I didn't scare her off. I don't think I could handle that right now.

"No, it doesn't," she says and gently kisses me on the lips. She pulls back before I get the chance to respond. She can be such a tease sometimes. I look at her smiling and for the first time in a long time I feel safe and content. She gets a mischievous look in her eyes and quickly grabs onto my knees and pulls my legs apart. She settles between them and slowly grinds against me. I gasp at the sudden contact and scratch my nails down her back. "But I think we should stick to practicing for now." I smile and grind against her.

"That sounds like a good plan," I say and she brings her lips down to mine. When she touches me, especially when she kisses me, the pain in my head slows to a dull ache and all of the voices intruding my mind fade to the background. Faith makes everything better even if the road we're on is bumpy and full of potholes. Ok, that was a weird metaphor but the point is even though things between us have been hell, she still makes everything around me better. She gives me back my hope that one day I'll get to be normal.

"I almost forgot how wicked your lips feel," she whispers against my mouth and I open my eyes. She's staring at me with an intense gaze and I know what's coming next. I've seen this look before, not only on her, but on the boys I've dated and they thought I was easy enough to try to fuck after only two dates. Should I tease Faith a little more or let her get what she wants? I think I'll wait and see what the move is before I decide that.

"Yours aren't so bad either," I tell her with a little smirk on my face. She tries to kiss me but I turn my head to the side so she's left kissing my cheek. "They feel pretty amazing." I look into her eyes and she has the most beautiful smile on her face that I've ever seen. Not just because she has a pretty smile, but because it's lighting up her eyes. They could probably show up the northern lights right now.

She leans down again to kiss me and this time I meet her halfway. I can't let her do all of the work. I don't want her to think I'm a pillow queen. God I hope she doesn't think that. On that night we shared together she did more things to me and the things I did to her I'm starting to doubt I did right. Sure she said it was one of the best nights of her life and she came harder than she ever has before but she could have been lying to spare my feelings. Ok, I need to calm down. I'm starting to freak out over nothing. She came so hard that night she almost broke my fingers, I have nothing to worry about.

"Things are always so much easier when it's just the two of us," she says against my lips and kisses me again. Her hand is still on my hip and she needs to do something with it soon. These kisses are really getting to me plus the voices are starting to get stronger and I don't know how much longer I can ignore them. "I wish we had a place to sneak off to. Ya know, someplace that's just ours." Why does she have to keep talking? What she said reminded me of something and it totally threw a bucket of ice on the mood.

"Faith," I say and she pulls away from me. Not far, just enough so we can look at each other while we talk. I guess she head the worry and the insecurity in my voice because she looks concerned. I didn't mean for that to happen. Why do I always ruin everything? "In the library when you said you wanted to find your own place, were you being serious or were you just making conversation?" Her eyebrows furrow and for a second she looks really mad but she makes her expression go blank. At least she tries to. I can still see how irritated she is in her eyes.

"B, I need to get my own place," she says and her voice sounds strained like she's forcing herself to stay calm and the effort is restricting her voice box. "It doesn't have anything to do with you or us. I need to be able to take care of my kid and I'm never gonna show her I can stand on my own and be strong if I'm being completely supported by your mom." So that's what it's really about. I should have thought of that instead of being so conceded.

"I get that, Faith, you don't have to explain that part. I just…." What am I trying to tell her? The whole truth instead of leaving stuff out to protect myself. That would be a good start. "Finding out like that, it hurt. It hurt being treated like I was just another one of the guys, you know?" She gently cups my cheek and runs her thumb along my skin. She always knows what to do to make me feel better.

"I tried tellin you," she says and she looks a little sad now. When did she try telling me? I don't remember her trying to bring that up. That's not the kind of thing you forget. "You've been avoiding me. In the morning you always leave for school before we get a chance to talk and when I get home from patrol you run off to bed. Last night when Sam was asleep and you were holding her I thought we were gonna hang out and just spend some time together but you got all freaked out and you went to bed." Oh crap, how am I going to get out of this one?"

"I haven't been avoiding you. Education is important, and I've needed the extra sleep," I say and try to sound innocent but I know it didn't work. It sounded lame even in my head and I can tell by the look on her face she isn't buying it. "Ok, I've been avoiding you and Willow and Wesley." I think it would be best if I didn't mention Scott. "There was just so much going on at once and I felt overwhelmed and when I feel overwhelmed I suppress it and avoid the thing that's making me feel that way."

"You can always talk to me, B. You don't have to be afraid," she says and that makes me feel really irritated. She's being really sweet, she doesn't sound agitated or angry or anything like that. She cares about me and that's basically what she's trying to say but it sparks something I didn't even know was there inside of me. Maybe I have more issues then I want to admit.

"You haven't exactly made it easy for me in the past. Look at today. I didn't tell you right away that I was hearing people's thoughts and you ran off and didn't let me explain," I say and I sound a little more agitated then I meant. Her eyebrows furrow and her jaw gets tense and those are never good. God I hope this doesn't turn into a fight but it seems to be heading there.

"That's different. You were practically spying on us, on me, and you could've given us a head's up way before Giles brought it up, but you didn't," she says and she doesn't sound as mad as I thought she was going to. I guess she's getting better at controlling her temper. I let out a little sigh and gently run my hands up and down her back.

"I'm sorry, that was out of line. I know why you were so upset and I should have mentioned it sooner. But Faith, you have to admit that you haven't exactly made thing easy before and you can't blame me for being hesitant to talk to you. Besides talking wasn't really the issue," I say and she gets a confused look on her face.

"What do you mean?" she asks and she sounds as confused as she looks. It's adorable but I can't believe she's going to make me say it. Can't she figure it out on her own? I'm sure if she thought it through she would understand what I was hinting at.

"I mean whenever I'm around you all I can think about is kissing you and…other naughty things," I say and break eye contact. I can feel the blush burning on my face and I can feel her smile at me. Don't ask me how, I just can. I glance up at her and I can see her lips moving but I can't hear a word she's saying. I can tell it's something sexual because she just wiggled her eyebrows and she has a smirk on her face but I can't hear anything. What the hell is going on?

I hear a faint buzzing sound as all of the voices in my head start getting louder and are so quick they blend together until it's nothing but loud noise. I feel Faith gently rub my cheek and I try to talk but I can't concentrate long enough to form words. I can see the worry on her face as she sits up and gently shakes my shoulders. I don't know what she's trying to do but whatever it is it's not working. All I can feel is the blinding pain radiating from the middle of my forehead and the sounds of the voices bleeding into my brain.

Faith's worry, her fear, her anxiousness, all of those emotions and more hit me like a semi going ninety down the freeway and I feel a scream rip through my throat but I don't hear a second of it. I close my eyes and roll away from her. All I can feel is that searing pain and the buzzing of the all the voices in my mind is louder than before. Why is this happening? I was just getting back to happy. Faith and I were connecting again. We were opening up to each other. Why wouldn't this have happened later?

I feel the pain start to subside but it doesn't go away. I still can't hear anything and I'm afraid to open my eyes. The noise in my head is too overwhelming. It's like a migraine, like jack hammers pounding in my brain only a million times worse. I feel warm strong arms wrap around me, and I sink back into the body that's pressed against mine. The pain decreases some more but it still feels like an entire construction site is building away in my mind.

Just enough of the pain goes away that my body isn't twitching like it was. I'm not screaming and I can lie still. To anyone else that wouldn't seem like a big deal but my muscles are burning and my throat feels raw. Whoever is holding me is running their fingers through my hair and gently massaging my scalp with their fingernails. I press myself against them a little more and I really hope they keep doing that because it's making things in my head quiet down a little.

I really wish it would quiet down completely but I don't think that's going to happen. I'm afraid I'm going to be stuck like this forever. I don't want to be like this. It was funny at first but I don't need to know that one of my neighbors is having an affair, and the other ran over a dog on the way to work and feels guilty, and another just found out she's finally pregnant after months of trying, and one of them can't remember how many times B comes before A. I don't need to know, I don't want to know, I just want to be in Faith's arms and have her tell me that she loves me.

A warmness spread across my whole body and I feel calm even though I'm in so much pain I want to keep screaming. I want to get up and run away and find a quiet place to rest but I'm afraid of losing these arms around me. This comfort that I'm getting even though it's really small is the only thing keeping me together. Without it I think I would be completely insane right now. It's giving me something other than this pain to focus on.

Just when I feel like maybe I could get used to this, like maybe everything won't be so bad, the strong arms holding me are gone. The body I was pressed against disappears and my warmth, my solace, is gone. I feel like everything I am, everything I'm supposed to grow up to be is slipping away. The noise in my head, all of those voices screaming and yelling and begging for attention, gets so loud my head feel like it's going to explode. Or like my brain is going to dissolve from all of the vibrations and leak out of my ears.

I clutch my head, pull at my hair, anything I can think of to stop the pain, stop the noise so I can find me again. I feel like I'm lost. Just a pin drop floating in an ocean of sound and I'd give almost anything to get out of this and back to myself. But I don't know the way, and that one thread of hope that was holding me together is gone and I feel like I'm drifting away. Make this stop, somebody please make this insanity stop.

I feel someone pull me up but I'm too weak to sit up on my own. I feel one strong arm wrap around my back to hold me and the noise in my head quiets just a little. I feel something cool against my lips and a warm liquid slips inside my mouth. It tastes disgusting, like nothing I've ever tasted before and I try to spit it out but whoever is holding me up won't let me. The warm liquid goes down my throat but leaves a gross coating on my tongue and the after taste is even worse than the stuff itself.

As soon as that stuff is down my throat there's a pause. The voices quiet completely for just a moment and then all hell breaks loose. My body starts convulsing, a sharp pain settles in my stomach and the base of my skull. I try to get away but those strong arms wrap around me again and hold me down on the bed. Why won't they let me go? I need to get away from this pain. Don't they know they're not helping?

My muscles are burning, my head is pounding, and just when I feel like my body is about to go off like an atomic bomb my body goes limp. I'm breathing so hard my heart and lungs feel like they're racing towards some invisible finish line that won't get here fast enough. I feel like I could pass out and sleep for a week. How long was I trapped in that nightmare? It feels like I've been lying here for years but I hope to everything holy and sacred that I'm wrong.

The sounds of the room start to slowly filter into my consciousness. I hear people talking but it's faint, like a murmur. Mom and Giles and I'm assuming Wesley since he's the only other Englishmen I know are talking quietly on the other side of the room and they all sound worried. I try to open my eyes but they feel heavy, like some unseen force is keeping them shut. I slowly flutter them open and the grip on my shoulders loosens but the hands don't let me go. When I finally get my eyes open my vision is really blurry but I can tell that's Faith hovering above me.

A feeling of relief washes over me and a small smiles tugs at my lips. She was the one I kept sensing. I remember being able to dull all of the noise and pain a little by focusing on someone and Faith was that someone. She helped me, anchored me when I was going through that hell. If us being together isn't fate then I don't know what is. It has to be fate or destiny or whatever you want to call it. We were meant to be together, complications be damned.

"B, can you hear me?" she asks and there's a tremble in her voice like she's trying not to cry. My vision focuses a little more and I can see her clearly now and she has tears in her eyes. One of them escapes and slowly runs down her face. I lift my hand and wipe it away with her thumb. The effort is exhausting but it makes her smile so it's worth it.

"Yeah, I can hear you," I whisper and my throat feels awful. I can still taste that gross…whatever the hell that was and my mouth feels really dry. "Can I get some water?" My throat is so dry and raw from screaming that I start coughing and my mom is at my side in an instant with a glass of water in her hand. Faith helps me sit up and I gulp it down.

"Thank God you're ok. You really had me worried, sweetie," my mom says and wraps her arms around me. I let her hug comfort me and I feel like I always feel whenever my mom holds me. I feel like everything is going to be ok again but this time something is missing. Looking over at Faith it only takes a second to figure out what it is. I want to be in her arms. I want to curl up in her warm embrace and hear her say she loves me, but I can't right now. Not only are we keeping our almost-relationship a secret but I can't deny my mom this comfort. This hug is more her for than it is for me.

"I'm glad I'm ok too. I felt like I was trapped inside my mind," I say and she hugs me a little tighter. "How am I ok? I thought there was no way to reverse it." I look over at Giles and Wesley and I can tell by the look on his face that Giles' wasn't the one who found the cure. He's looking at Wesley with annoyance but also gratitude.

"One of my old chronicles speaks of a demon that infects its host with telepathy. We couldn't be sure if it spoke of these particular demons but it was well worth the risk," Wesley says and for the first time since we've met, he doesn't sound like a pompous ass. "Faith acquired the last necessary ingredient. We should be vigilant and make sure you are not also infected." I look over at her and she has a shy expression on her face that includes a blush on her cheeks. She looks so adorable I just want to take her in my arms and kiss her.

"I didn't get any blood on me," she says and picks at some invisible lint on the comforter. "I wore gloves and tapped the cuffs of my hoodie to my wrists." Why would she need to do that? You know what, I don't want to know. It sounds like dismemberment was involved and if it has to do with the potion I drank I think I'll be a lot happier not knowing.

"Thank you," I tell her and she looks into my eyes. She looks a little surprised and her gaze is really intense. It makes a chill run down my back and goosebumps appear all over my arms. "You saved me." I softly smile at her and she smiles back. Everything else in the room starts to fade away and I'm getting blissfully lost in her eyes. If I could I would lock us in here for a month and just be with her. Not just physically but to bask in the comfort and love she can give me by just holding me or looking at me the way she is now. She opens her mouth to say something and anticipation grows in my belly.

"Mommy, is Buffy better?" Sam asks as she runs into the room and climbs onto the bed. She looks around at the three of us sitting on Faith's bed and I guess she decides I'm better because she doesn't hesitate before she crawls onto my lap and leans her little body against my chest. "You screamed really loud. It scared Theo." Theo is her teddy bear. She's going through a weird phase where she expresses herself through the bear. It's cute but it can get really annoying when she won't touch her vegetables because Theo doesn't like them.

"Faith, you have a child?" I hear Wesley say and my whole body goes completely numb. I look over at Wesley still standing near the doorway with Giles and he looks shocked. Giles looks worried but he's being very British about it. I glance over at Faith and all of her emotions are on her face. She's afraid, she's frozen, she's trying to come up with something to say but she's just sitting there looking panicked. "You've never mentioned anything about having a child. This needs to be reported to the Council. They need to know what is really going on." Faith is up and in his face so fast I barely had a chance to register the move.

"No, you're not gonna tell the Council anything. You hear me? You tell the Council about her and I'll break every bone in your goddamn body!" Faith yells and she's in total 'momma bear' mode. It's exactly the way my mom was when she attacked Spike on parent teacher night last year, except with less yelling. Giles steps forward and puts a hand on Faith's shoulder and Wesley looks like he's about to wet himself.

"Faith, perhaps we should talk about this downstairs," Giles says and looks over at Samantha. I feel her flinch and she presses herself harder against my chest. It's like she's trying to burrow into it to get away from Giles' gaze. She's painfully shy in the first place and now that her mom is upset it's even worse than normal. I wrap my arms protectively around her and kiss her softly on the top of her head. That's my way of silently promising to do whatever it takes to keep her safe.

"Yeah, downstairs would be a better place to discuss this," Wesley says but I think he only said it because he doesn't know what else to do. He's fidgeting and looking around the room and I know why. Faith gets a very intense and scary look in her eyes when she's angry. Getting caught in that look can feel like being pressed against a wall with a knife to your throat. They leave the room, Wesley first then Faith is gently lead out by Giles' hand on her shoulder and he shuts the door behind him. The air in the room still feels tense and thick and I have no idea what to do.

"Mommy's mad at me," Sam says with a little tremble in her voice. God I really wish I could hear what she's thinking. Maybe if I could I would have a better idea of what to say to her. Before I get the chance to try my mom reaches over and takes Sam into her arms. She holds her close and Sam wraps her little arms around my mom's neck and buries her face in my mom's shoulder.

"No honey, no one is mad at you. She's upset with Wesley, that man who was just in here," Mom says but I don't think Sam is going to accept that response. I got a chance to really hear what Sam thinks and she blames herself for a lot of things. She blames herself for Tanner leaving. She blames herself for the way Faith acts sometimes even when it has nothing to do with her and everything to do with me. It's sad and horrible how much this baby hates herself, and she's only three.

"She's mad about me," Sam says and her tiny body starts quivering. Seeing her like this is killing me. I wish there was something I could do to make all of this better. My mom starts rubbing her back and Sam starts to quietly cry. I just sit here feeling completely useless as my mom comforts my almost-girlfriend's daughter. I should be the one doing that because if I'm going to be with Faith then I need to get used to being a stepmom. I'm kind of glad my mom is taking over, though, because even if Sam was still in my arms I'd have no idea what to do.

"No Sammy, she isn't mad about you. She's mad about something Wesley said," Mom says and keeps rubbing Sam's back and she starts to slowly rock back and forth. I wonder if Sam has had a nap today. If she skips her nap in the afternoon she can get over emotional just from being so tired. With everything that was going on with me I have a feeling making sure the little one slept wasn't a top priority this afternoon. If I was screaming and scared her then she's probably really on edge. Maybe it would be best if Faith got her own place. Then Sam would be away from my drama.

Since my mom is taking care of Sam I try to focus on what's going on downstairs. Every once in a while Faith will yell but I can't really understand what she's saying. I keep my eyes on the clock and after forty-five minutes goes by I try to get up but my mom grabs onto my arm to stop me. I look at her and I know I have an irritated look on my face. She gives me a 'mom look', you know the one that says 'don't you dare stat with me young lady'. I let out an irritated sigh and sit back against the headboard.

I glance over at Sam and she's not asleep like I thought she would be. She's sucking on her thumb and playing with my mom's hair with other hand. I really want to take her into my arms and hold her close. She's half of Faith and I'd give anything to be able to fight this battle for her so she doesn't have to worry. But I can't fight this for her. She needs to convince Wesley to keep his trap shut and I honestly don't think I have the energy to summon up the patience to talk to him right now. Since I can't be down there I want to hold Sam so I can feel somewhat close to Faith.

I hear the front door open and close and my whole body tenses up. What the hell happened? Is Wesley going to stay quiet or does Faith need to get Sam out of town before the Council sends a team to take her away? If Faith laves I'm leaving with her. This isn't like the end of the school year when I ran away for the summer. This would be me taking care of the woman I love and her daughter. You know, protecting them from evil and the Council. I think my friends and family would understand that.

I hear footsteps on the stairs and I can tell they're Faith's. She's the only person who wears boots and the only one who stomps up the stairs like a bull. Why a bull I don't know but it sounded like a good comparison. Anyway, the door opens and Faith walks in. My whole body tenses up even more and everything in me is screaming at me to run to her and take her in my arms. Her eyes and nose are red from crying and she has tear stains on her cheeks and she looks exhausted. She walks over to the side of the bed and lets out a little sigh.

"He's not gonna tell. Least that's what he said. He doesn't think the Council would do anything bad. He said they might increase my checks if they knew about her, but my real watcher said they would take her. I'm not gonna take Wesley's word over hers," she says and her voice sounds rough. I wonder how long she's been crying. I really want to hold her and tell her I love her but I can't with Mom in the room.

"Giles says sorry but he had to leave. Wesley really got to him. I'm gonna go lay down with Sam. We both need a nap," she says and wipes away the last of her tears. So I was right, Sam didn't have a nap today. How long was I out of it? I really want to ask but I don't want to agitate Faith. She has enough going on right now to play twenty questions with me. She takes Sam from my mom and Sammy latches onto her like a baby koala.

"Ok, dear, I'll come get you when dinner is ready," Mom says and Faith gives her a smile before she leaves the room. Well this is kind of awkward just sitting here in Faith's bedroom with Faith not in it. Mom looks over at me and lets out a little sigh before she wraps me up in another hug and leaves a kiss on the side of my head. "I'm so glad you're ok. If anything ever happened to you I don't know what I would do." I hug her back and we just sit here holding each other for a few minutes. Again I get that feeling I always get when Mom hugs me and I let it wash away everything that just happened.

"Why don't we go downstairs and watch some TV? Unless you're too tired. I can help you to your room if you need to rest," she says and we end the hug. Honestly I would rather stay in Faith's bed because it smells like her and just the smell of her can calm me down. Or totally turn me on depending on the mood I'm in. Ew, why did I just think that with my mom sitting right next to me? I need to start censoring my thoughts.

"I'm fine, Mom. I could use some TV time. It will help me get over and forget about some of the things I heard at school," I say and she gets a confused look on her face. "The boys at that school are seriously disturbed. I think you might have to home school me." The confused look goes away and she gets a smirk on her face. My pain is entertainment. Goody.

"Honey, all boys are seriously disturbed. That's something you're just going to have to get used to," she says and stands up. She's my mom isn't she supposed to be encouraging? You know, tell me something like 'don't worry, honey, there are some boys out there who are respectful'. No, instead I get the truth. Why am I worrying about this? I have Faith. I don't need to be concerned about what goes on inside the mind of a teenage boy. Let me rephrase that: I especially don't need to worry about what going on inside the mind of a teenage boy.

We go downstairs and I have to say that I love slayer healing. Just an hour ago I was so weak and tired I couldn't sit up on my own. Now I'm starting to feel normal again. At least I can walk down the stairs on my own and I don't feel like I'm going to pass out. I don't think I'm ready to go patrolling anytime soon, though. As soon as I'm off the last step there's a knock on the door and I let out a little sigh. I just want this day to end, not more distractions from my TV time.

"I'll get it," I say and Mom gives me that 'are you sure?' look. "It's probably just Willow and Xander checking up on me. They were pretty freaked out at school." She goes into the living room and turns the TV on and I walk up to the door and take a moment to just breathe. I know they're my best friends and they care about me but I really just want to lie on the couch and let my brain rot for the rest of the afternoon. I open the door and when I see who's on the other side my whole body tenses and a cold chill runs down my spine. What the hell is he doing here?



Chapter Thirty One

My heart is pounding so hard in my chest I can feel it throbbing in my ears. I'm frozen here in the doorway and I have no idea what to do. After everything I've been through today this was the most unexpected thing that could have happened next. I wish I could crawl back into Faith's bed and hide. What the hell is he doing here? Well I'm never going to find out if neither one of us speaks. I'm too thrown to say anything and I feel like a fool just standing here.

"Hi Buffy. I hope this isn't a bad time. I need to talk to you and Willow said you came home early," he says and remind me to kill Willow later. Preferably the next time I see her. I step outside and shut the door behind me. I hear Faith coming downstairs and the last thing I need right now is her jealousy to rear its ugly head. The last time it happened because of Scott she threw a chair against a wall. God knows what she would do this time.

"No, it's not a bad time," I lie and smile a very fake smile. He either doesn't notice or he doesn't care because he returns it with a little half smile of his own. His hands are in his pockets, he's fidgeting, and he keeps glancing down at his shoes. Whatever he needs to talk about can't be good. "What do you need?" Please just get to the point. Please don't drag it out with small talk.

"I don't really know how to say this," he says and looks down at his shoes again. He looks up into my eyes and lets out a little breath. "I think we should break up." Did I hear him right? He's really going to break up with me? It's not like I'm really hurt. I'm only dating him to distract me from Faith but my ego feels like it just took a two by four to the teeth.

"What? Why?" I ask and cross my arms over my chest. I probably look like I'm getting defensive but I'm not. At least not a lot. I'm still in my pajamas and although my breasts like that I'm not wearing a bra, I really don't need him ogling me right now. He lets out a little sigh and my God that is annoying. Is it that annoying when I sigh, because if it is I need to not do that anymore.

"You're never really with me," he says and my eyebrows furrow a little. That is so not true. Ok, so maybe I'm not the perfect girlfriend because I cheated on him and I'm in love with someone else. Plus I only agreed to date him to distract myself from Faith but it's not like we never went on actual dates or spent time together at school because we did. "Even when we're in the same room you're miles away from me. I thought if I gave you time and didn't push, you would maybe work out whatever's been bothering you but I can't do this anymore. I'm sorry."

Ok, so everything he said is totally true. I can't really be mad at him for telling the truth and he's being honest about his feelings so that's good. I look down at my bare feet because the look in his eyes was starting to burn me. He really did like me and I strung him along. What kind of a person does that? A horrible, awful person who doesn't deserve a chance at being happy since I keep killing it for the people around me, that's what kind.

"Scott, I'm sorry. I never meant for that to happen," I tell him and look into his eyes. His gaze is still intense but I need to stop being such a coward. I need to face up to this since it's all my fault. "Thing have just been so complicated lately and I never meant to push you away." He nods his head a little bit and I feel a huge weight lift off my shoulders. He isn't making a big scene, he isn't demanding I tell him everything I've been keeping from him, and he isn't calling me an awful person. He's being really cool about this and I totally appreciate his lack of drama. Wow, we never really had anything between us, did we?

"So, I guess this is goodbye," he says and he has a sad look on his face. Then his eyebrows quirk just a tad and the sadness fades away. "Well, goodbye until we see each other at school." I can't help the little smirk that tugs at my lips and he smiles back. I have no idea what to say now and the silence is starting to get to me. "I hope things get better for you soon. You're a great girl, Buffy. You deserve to be happy." I can't believe he's being this sweet to me after I treated him so badly.

"Thank you. You deserve it too. I hope you find someone who can give you what you need," I say and take a step forward. I lean in close and place my hand on his chest. I give him a lingering kiss on the cheek and I feel him hold his breath. I almost wish I could still read minds because I'd love to know what he's thinking right now at this very moment. I step back and he gives me a small smile before he turns and walks away. I let out a huge sigh and without any warning tears start cascading down my face.

These aren't sad tears or even bruised ego tears. These are tears of relief. I don't have to worry about keeping up appearances. I don't have to pretend to like a guy with the personality of a wet cardboard box. I don't have to feel guilty about how I'm just using him or worry about any of it anymore because it's over and there was no major drama. I get to be guilt free about something for once. It feels…a little strange, actually. I hope my mind doesn't come up with something to feel guilty about to compensate for the lack of guilt I'm feeling right now. That would suck.

I hear the door open and I turn around. I sigh a little when I see my mom standing there and as soon as she sees my face she looks worried. I'm glad it's her coming out to check on me and not Faith. Even though I really want to curl up in her arms, tell her I love her and thank her properly for saving me, I know if she sees me like this it would only lead to things of the bad. I'm going to tell her that Scott showed up and I'm going to tell her what happened but if I'm crying when I do it I don't think that would end well.

"Buffy, honey, what's the matter? Who were you talking to?" she asks and wraps her arms around me in a big hug. I feel what I always feel when my mommy comforts me and it makes the tears fall harder and faster instead of stopping. Hello emotional breakdown, it's been a while, how have you been? I really like your top, where did you get it?

"It was Scott, he said he needed to talk to me," I tell her and I force out a little sob. I can't be happy about the breakup in front of her or she'll just ask me more questions that could lead to her finding out about Faith and me and again that would be of the bad. I'm pretty sure when my mom told Faith to herself at home she wasn't giving a green light to bed her only child. It's best for everyone to keep this a secret for a little while longer. "He broke up with me." I feel more than hear her let out a little sigh. I'll pretend it wasn't a sigh of relief.

"Sweetheart, I'm so sorry," she says and gently rubs my back. I can tell she's worried but at the same time she doesn't sound too broken up about it. I guess she really doesn't like the thought of me dating. I hope she doesn't take it too badly when I finally tell her Faith and I are in love. "Do you want to just go to bed? I can make you some hot chocolate." Hmmm, should I milk this for all its worth to get free stuff plus offers of love and comfort? Nah, I think I'll be stiff upper lippy about it.

"No, it's fine," I say and hug her back just as tightly as she's hugging me. I have to make sure I don't hurt her with my slayer strength. That would be really bad. "We weren't really close. It's just on top of everything else that's happened I don't know how much more I can take." She squeezes me a little tighter and I know I was just trying to downplay Scott dumping me but what I said is also the truth. I honestly don't know how much more of this drama, this crap, I can take.

"Ok, sweetie, but if you need anything, Buffy, anything at all just tell me, ok?" she asks and gives me a kiss on the temple. I have no idea why she's acting like this. A couple of hours ago I was practically in a coma I was so overwhelmed by all of the voices inside my head, and now she's coddling me because the boy I dated for a couple of weeks broke up with me. That just doesn't make any sense. It must be a weird mom thing. Maybe I can ask Faith about it later. I'm sure she'll be able to give me some insight.

"I think I just want to take a long, hot bubble bath and forget this day ever happened," I say and my mom finally pulls back from the hug. She gives me another kiss on the temple before completely pulling away, and I can tell just by the look on her face that bubble bath isn't going to be hypothetical for long. I didn't mean for her to run it for me but if she wants to, who am I to stop her?

"Ok, sweetheart. You just go to your room and change into your robe and I'll draw you a nice big bubble bath," she says and walks back into the house before I can protest. I was going to let her do it anyway but it would have been polite to at least pretend to insist on doing it myself. I'm not going to dwell on it, though, because that would be stupid. So I do what she suggested. I go inside and change into my very comfy bathrobe and sit on my bed and wait for her to tell me my bath is ready.

I can't believe this day. I honestly don't think it's been only one day. Now that I'm thinking about it I might have been in that weird coma over night because Mom and Giles and Faith were all dressed in different clothes. So it's been a very emotional, very long two days. Faith and I almost fell apart but I made it right. God, I told her I want to be a family and have a baby with her. I can't believe it. I know that it's not impossible. Science is doing all kinds of things with turkey basters these days, but what if that's not what Faith really wants? What if that's not what I really want? All of this is just so confusing.

I hear a little knock on my door and I sigh in relief. Finally, I can't believe how much I'm really looking forward to just soaking and relaxing. It feels like it's been years since I've just calmed down and let my brain rest instead of worrying nonstop about everything. Well, ok, so it hasn't been years. That night I shared with Faith took a lot off my mind for a while but I didn't exactly wake up feeling rejuvenated. All of that relief goes away when Faith walks into the room and she doesn't look happy to see me.

"Faith, what's wrong?" I ask and stand up from the bed. I take a step towards her but she holds up her hand signaling me to stay away. Ok, this just can't be good. She paces back and forth and I can tell by the look on her face she's trying to think about what she says before she says it. Something must really be wrong if she's thinking things through and not being impulsive.

"I'm trying really hard not to jump to conclusions but what I saw downstairs, B, it's starting to dive me kinda crazy," she says and stops pacing. I'm with her on the crazy part. I have no idea what she's talking about or why she's so upset. She needs to explain that and fast because I want to help her. She's obviously upset about something and I just want to make it better.

"Faith, what are you talking about?" I ask and she lets out a tiny sigh. I can tell she's trying to control her temper. She's cracking her knuckles and her lips are in a tight line. Those are never good signs but at least she's trying to stay calm. That's something, right?

"I'm talking about you kissing Scott and crying over him after he left. You say you love me and I believe you and I love you too but if you love me as much as you say you do then why are you crying over that guy?" That's what has her so riled up? It would be kind of sweet if it weren't totally insane. I walk over to her and hold onto her hands and look into her eyes. I know it seems a little dramatic but I really need her to hear me.

"I gave him a kiss on the cheek, that was all. He broke up with me, that's why he came here. He really liked me and I treated him horribly and that little kiss was my way of saying sorry. That's all it was, Faith," I tell her and I'm not sure if she believes me or not. She has so many emotions swirling in her eyes it's hard to read them without getting them mixed up.

"Ok, I get that," she says and squeezes my hands a little. Thank God, that had the potential of being a really big fight and I just don't have the energy for that right now. Or ever, but you know what I mean. "But why were you crying over him? Do you love him? Do you wanna be with him?" Or maybe the right is just beginning. I can't believe we're even talking about this. I almost drove myself insane wanting to be with her, showing her that I really mean it, and now she's doubting me?

"I wasn't crying over him, not really," I tell her and I know just from the look on her face she doesn't believe me. How am I supposed to convince her? And why can't one small thing go my way for once? "Scott breaking up with me was a relief. Those tears were just my emotional stress catching up with me, but they were good tears. Now I don't have to pretend to like him to save face. It's just one less thing I have to worry about." Her eyebrows furrow a little and her body gets really tense. Ok, now what the hell did I say?

"Wait, you weren't going to break up with him?" she asks and her voice cracks a little. I guess seeing me with Scott gets to her more than I thought. I go to completely deny what she just said but she beats me to it. "You were just going to play along and stay with that tool? I thought you wanted to be with me, B, what happened to that?" She sounds like she's getting really angry and I need to do something fast before things get out of control.

"I do want to be with you, Faith. I want it more than anything. Being with Scott was just a way to keep everyone else off my back." Plus it was a way to make her jealous but I think I'll leave that out since I want to come out of this conversation with Faith as my…whatever the hell she is. "I didn't plan on being with him for long. Just until we're ready to be a real couple and tell our friends about us." By the look on her face I'm going to guess that also wasn't a good thing to say.

"So you were just gonna string someone along until I work through my shit and I'm ready to be with you?" Ok when it's put like that it sounds really bad. She's trying, she really is, and I should be waiting for her. I am waiting for her but I guess it doesn't look like that from an outsider's perspective. She lets go of my hands and takes a step back. I want to stop her but I can't. There's just something about the look in her eyes that's keeping me here and I feel almost paralyzed. "I gotta go check on Sam." She leaves the room and I have no clue how I'm going to fix all of this. What I really want right now is to hide under my covers, bundle up into some big lie until all of this just blows over. Yeah, I'm totally fucked.



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