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Chapter Six - Not Much Cause for Celebration

Faith's never been real big on birthdays.

Frankly, she's never thought there was much of a reason to celebrate the day she was born. Celebrate her life, whatever. It's not really anything that calls for that sort of thing. Not that she's the emo suicidal type; she's more along the lines of indifferent about it all. She's on this earth, okay yeah, but no reason to throw one big hurrah over it. Life sure as hell hasn't thrown one big hurrah over her.

Willow and Xander didn't ask about why she stormed out two days ago. They didn't have to, they already knew. They didn't talk about it, though probably because they know Faith's not real big on the taking out her issues thing. They would give her small smiles though, nothing big, but enough for her to know that they were there for her when she needed them.

She's still upset about the whole Slayer thing. That probably won't be going away any time soon. But she's still training with Giles; preparing for the "what if's" in life.

Whatever happened between her and Buffy that day was definitely over. Cordelia and Harmony were up to their usual tricks and Buffy was right alongside with them. Faith tried like hell not to notice how Buffy's heart didn't exactly seem into the whole jesting and torments, but only cause it's easier for both of them if she just goes back to the way it was. Then again, Buffy's never been one to be outright mean; only backing up Cordelia and Harmony when she's expected to, but the last two days she's been going out of her way to do it. Like she said; heart not totally in it, but she was damn well trying. Probably cause it freaked her out as much as Faith; what went on.

Not like Faith's really gonna complain. She'd rather hate the bitch then actually give a shit about her. Hating is just easier, which is what Buffy seems to be exercising as well. Hell, hating was far less fuckin' complicated.

But now it was her sixteen birthday and she was at The Bronze with Willow and Xander who were wearing party hats. Xander was far too into the idea and Faith relented with a scowl as he pulls one over her head, the rubber band smacking her chin a bit. She narrows her eyes at him but he just grins.

"Just be happy I didn't let Willow hang the banner she made," Xander tells her with a goofy grin. Faith rolls her eyes.

"It was a nice banner!" Willow protests, a little pout on her lips. She looks at Faith then in all her party hat glory and smiles, "Aw, you look cute, Faith." Faith flashes her eyes at her, trying to look menacing, but Willow just giggles.

Faith idly remembers when her scary looks used to actually have an effect on them. Not so much anymore.

"Cute," Faith mumbles under her breath, annoyed, as she goes to take off the party hat. Xander practically jumps on her before she has a chance though, tripping a bit as he falls into her lap, hands firmly planted on her head to keep the hat on. Faith cocks an eyebrow at him.

"Xand, while I know you like the ogle the goodies every now and then, climbin' on top of me ain't swaying me from the gay side of the tracks."

Xander looks flustered as he gets off of her. "I wasn't… I didn't— your hat!" he points out feebly. It makes Faith laugh a little and she slaps him on the back.

"Relax. I'm just fuckin' with you. I'll keep the damn thing on if it makes you happy." She adjusts the string a bit underneath her chin though; annoyed with the way it dug into her. "I probably look wicked retarded in this thing, but hey, if it gets your rocks off…" She smirks.

"There are no rocks!" Xander protests, embarrassed as he scrambles back to his seat. "There's never been any rocks with you or any party hats involved! Especially not with you wearing said party hat right now!"

Faith just smirks more. "Dude, you seriously need to get laid. You're wound way too tight." Xander decides to just focus on his drink in front of him instead of looking at her and babbling out more stupid things.

Willow's looking at her disapprovingly.


"You're grumpy today," Willow comments.

"Hey, I was just jokin' around, how does that make me grumpy?" Faith protests as she picks up her drink and takes a good long sip.

"You… you get all sexual when you're grumpy and trying to hide it," Willow observes. Faith narrows her eyes.

"You better not be studying me for that Psych college course your taking."

"N-No, I'm… I'm not. Just… noticed," Willow says, flushing a little. It makes Faith actually wonder if she really is studying her for some kind of school project. That'd be all kinds of fucked up.

"Well I ain't real big on birthdays," Faith tells her flatly, but honestly.

"We're going to change that!" Willow says excitedly as she gets up. "W-We got you a cake!" And then she darts off into the other direction, leaving Faith to stare after her, then shifting her line of site to Xander.

"Gimme the liquor bottle."

Xander laughs but hands it over to her, making sure to keep it hidden from the employees. They didn't really like people bringing in their own stuff, but Faith drank like a fish and didn't have enough money in her pockets to pay for all of that. She takes a couple long swigs, feeling the alcohol burn down her throat.

"It's just a cake," Xander says, looking at Faith like her reaction towards it is bordering on hilarious.

"Says you," she says flatly and takes another couple of gulps.

It's not like she doesn't like cake. Cake's a great fuckin' food, whatever. The thing that goes along with cake though is the candles and the singing, and oh god she needs to be fucking drunk for all of that. She spots Willow heading in her direction with a large cake and she damn near downs the entire bottle in one go. Xander's eyes go wide.

"You should probably slow down…"

"I'm good," Faith says, feeling her head cloud a bit as it starts to kick in slowly. Okay, she can do this. She can let them do the candles and the happy birthday singing bullshit. Only cause they're her friends and maybe cause she doesn't want to make Willow pout again.

She remembers when she used to not give a shit. Then she also remembers when she didn't have any friends, so not giving a shit kinda pales in comparison on the list of suckier things.

Willow's all smiles and joy as she comes over with the big cake, setting it down in front of her. "Happy Birthday, Faith!"

Faith looks down at the cake and reads the words they spelled out. Happy Birthday Faith! The #1 Potential Slayer. Faith can feel herself smiling before she can stop it. She chuckles a little, shaking her head, "You guys are nuts…"

Willow's positively beaming though and Xander looks proud of himself as well. "We thought you'd get a kick out of it," Xander tells her with a shrug. "And it's not like anyone else around here is going to understand what it means." Faith nods; that's true. They'd probably think she's trying out to be in a gang, which would be funny as hell anyway.

Faith ain't gonna jump for joy over it though, ain't gonna say that yeah, it makes her really fuckin' happy, even though it does. She just ain't the gushing type, but she smiles and says, "I dig it. It's cool," while completely ignoring that she feels like she wants to bounce around.

She'll blame the liquor on that though.

"And look! Look at the candles!" Willow says excitedly as she pulls them out. "I carved them to look like little stakes!" And sure enough, she did. Sticking the pointy end into the cake, Faith can do nothing else but laugh at how cute and excitable she's being.

Honestly, it ain't so bad; the birthday thing. Her friends were making it suck a whole lot less, that's for sure. Even if this ain't her idea of a party, she's enjoying herself.

And she's kind of drunk already. That shit was starting to hit her fast. Maybe she should have slowed down. She might have a tolerance, but she was still only sixteen.

But she didn't mind it so much. It was starting to make her loosen up about the whole birthday party deal, and when Willow and Xander lit the candles and started singing "Happy Birthday" (Xander decided that the version ‘you live in a zoo' would be better) she was giggling and feeling alright.

"Make a wish!" Willow exclaims, clapping her hands together a little.

Faith purses her lips together as she pretends to think. But she already knows what she wants. She leans up on the stool, hovering over the cake, and as she blows out the candles she wishes: I wish I was the Slayer.

Their party is interrupted though by none other than the Queen Bitch herself, who apparently decided that since Faith inadvertently ruined Harmony's birthday by outing her, she had to return the favor. The ruining part, anyway. Faith's been outted more times by them that it really doesn't even bother her anymore. She's never been one to shout her business at the world, but after awhile it just gets kinda fuckin' old; repetitive.

"Like celebrating your birth is any cause of celebration," Cordelia says irritably as she waltzes right up to their table, her two blonde minions in tow.

Faith, in all her drunken haze, lets that get to her probably more than it should. Only cause she was thinking the same thing herself not thirty minutes ago. She turns around slowly, her gaze situated on the brunette. "You lookin' to get your face rearranged again? Ain't on school property, worst they can do is kick me out."

"Wrong, Slut-O-Rama. Worst that can happen is that I press charges on your skanky ass."

Faith stands up then, getting in her face. "Do it," she snarls. "I fuckin' dare you."

"Faith…" Willow warns softly, but Faith doesn't listen to her.

"Hey!" Buffy says, finally finding some kind of voice and stepping in front of Cordelia, almost protecting her. "How about you back off of her?" Faith raises her eyebrows at Buffy's sudden boldness. Damn, look who grew a pair. She licks her bottom lip a little as she takes in the sight of Buffy with big girl panties on.

"Stickin' up for your girlfriend now? That's kinda sweet, B."

Yeah, their little moment they had the other day was definitely over.

"My name is Buffy," Buffy tells her, her eyes flashing. Faith ain't gonna lie; it's kind of a turn on. Not cause of Buffy or whatever. Maybe she's just drunk, but the feisty part of the blonde was looking a lot more delicious than she would have expected.

She practically leers at her, and it makes Buffy's eyes go wide, but not before her eyes swept down Faith's body, taking in every inch of her form. It was quick, but Faith caught it.

Faith just kinda wants to fuck with her. It'd be funny just cause she's drunk and hey, it's her birthday. She can screw with people if she wants to, or however that song goes.

Her eyes never break contact with hers as her finger trails down the side of the cake, getting some of the frosting on her finger. Buffy seems to be almost mesmerized as Faith brings it up to her full lips before she wraps her mouth around her finger, sucking it gently, making note of how Buffy's pupils seem to darken. She smirks and asks, "You want a taste, B?" There were so many innuendoes in that she didn't even know where to start.

"Ew, gross!" Cordelia exclaims loudly, disgusted.

That seems to snap Buffy out of whatever place she found herself in five minutes ago. Her eyes harden and she pushes Faith back, making her actually stumble. She has to hold onto the table to support herself so she doesn't fall. Damn, she must be drunker than she thought, because Buffy doesn't look like she'd be all that strong.

"I'd never be that desperate," Buffy spits out at her, clearly more furious that Faith actually got a reaction out of her. That knowledge right there is the only reason Faith doesn't start pounding on her for pushing her. She just smirks. She still won that round; least on the field she's been playing.

"Oh please, Twinkie. I see the way you look at me, hell, even the way you look at Queen Bitch over here. You'd be begging me to touch you just a little bit more…"

Faith knows she should stop – knows this has gone way past the usual, but she's drunk, fuckin' pissed, even more fuckin' horny, and it's just too damn easy to screw with a closet case like Buffy.

"Ugh, let's get out of here before I start breaking out in hives," Cordelia says with a disgusted scoff as she puts her hand on Buffy's arm, trying to lead her away, but Buffy doesn't move, she's just seething as she stares at Faith. "Uh, hello? Buffy? Leaving now."

"Go on with your girlfriend, Princess," Faith mocks. "Let her walk in front of you so you can stare at her ass like you can't get enough of it. I know how much you like that."

Faith knows she's asking for it. She just doesn't know what exactly she's asking for at this point. She's too drunk and too pissed to think straight.

Apparently Buffy is too. Pissed that is, cause she can tell she ain't drunk.

She rips her arm away from Cordelia and has her hands on Faith faster than the younger girl can even comprehend. When her back collides with the wall and pain shoots down her spine she can hear the combined cries of "Buffy!" and "Faith!" from both of their circle of friends. Faith tries to move, tries to get the bitch off of her so she can just fucking kill her, but finds she's pinned. God, she's never drinking again if it's affecting her strength this badly.

"Buffy! What is your damage?!" Cordelia yells at her friend, clearly thinking that they were above physical violence. That they were the girls who press charges, not get charges dealt on them.

"Stay out of this Cordelia!" Buffy yells at her, to which Cordelia scoffs, gives an overly dramatic flick of her hair and storms off.

"Come on Harmony. Buffy's obviously been infected by loser." The two leave, clearly able to dump friends as if it's the easiest thing in the world. Strangely, Buffy doesn't even seem to care.

"L-Leave Faith alone!" Willow stammers, eyes wide as she watches Faith be powerless to a woman half her size. It was a bit fucked up, that's for sure. But neither Buffy or Faith are playing much attention; they're just staring at each other. Their eyes pierce into each other, tying to dominate the other without words for a second.

"Couldn't wait to get your hot little body pressed against me, huh?" Faith says, using sexuality to try to disarm her since she's too trashed to even get out of this on her own. Then again, it was her mouth that got her into this mess. She ain't gonna lie; her pride is taking an ass whoopin' right now.

"You don't know the first thing about me," Buffy hisses, her face much too close for comfort. It really does nothing to dull the itch she's feeling right now. She might hate her, might fuckin' want to bash her head into the nearest wall just for kicks, but she was intoxicated and something about dominant Buffy was getting her all kinds of hot.

Not that she'd fuck her. She's still got her standards. She ain't opposed to thinking about it later when she's fucking herself though. Just as long as no one knows.

Xander's starting to come over, now out of his little daze that was two girls fighting, and is probably gonna try to break it up. But Faith doesn't want him too; some sick little part of her likes this. "I got this Xand," she says, but doesn't even look at him. She sees him stop out of her peripheral vision and she presses her lower half of her body firmly into Buffy. She watches her zone out for a second from the feeling.

"I know more than you'd think, B," Faith says, her voice low and husky from her arousal. "You can stand there and act like you're straight as a fuckin' arrow, but I can see…" she chuckles a little as she pushes into her more, making Buffy let out a tiny breath, "I can feel what I do to you…"

"You're disgusting," Buffy tells her in a low voice, her anger clear, getting even worse as the situation continues and Faith pushes her buttons. "Even if I was gay… I'd never sleep with you." She pushes her back again, letting Faith go as she turns to walk away, trying to get back some of her self control.

But Faith's furious. She dusts herself off, trying to get a hold of her pride again as she snaps, "So what? I'm not good enough to fuck but I'm good enough for you to cry all over?" She knows she shouldn't have gone there; that place was completely off limits.

That makes Buffy turn around quickly. "In case you forgot, you were crying all over me too." Faith's eye's flash as she just lays that out in the open for anyone to play with. Buffy shakes her head in disgust, "Just go to hell, Faith. God, I can't believe I ever thought…"

"Ever thought what?" Faith snaps, now past caring at this point. She'll deal with the crying thing later.

Buffy gives her a little laugh, which is more scornful than anything. "You and I have something in common. And if you took your head out of your ass for one second, you might be able to see it." Her eyes glance over at something on the table, but Faith doesn't follow her gaze. She's just staring at her. "But you know what?" Buffy goes on, "I don't want to know you. Stay away from me."

Faith yells after her as she goes, but Buffy doesn't turn around. Her hand balls up into a fist and she screams a little as she punches the wall, knowing that's gonna hurt like hell in the morning but not caring in the slightest. "I hate her!" she yells, at no one in particular.

Her knuckles are already starting to throb from that stupid move and she covers her fist with her hand as she rubs it. Fuck this. Fuck her. She hates Cordelia, but there's just something about Buffy that makes her want to take an axe and do things with it other than cut wood. She drives her fuckin' insane; more than is even normal. There's no reason why she should get under her skin like this.

"Faith?" Willow asks cautiously, coming up to her. "A-Are you okay?"

"Fine," Faith says, not being able to hide the anger. She takes a breath and runs her fingers though her hair. "I just… gotta get the fuck outta here."

"You want us to come with you? We can bring the cake," Xander offers.

Faith's about to tell them no, that she just needs to be alone, but she feels bad. They were trying to give her a nice birthday and she screwed it up because of her big fat mouth and her need to be the one on top. She just nods shortly, not trusting her words to not come out harsh.

When they get to her hotel room, Willow and Xander do their best to cheer her up. They stay clear from the topic of Buffy and Faith crying all over each other, which she was grateful for. She knows they're gonna ask at some point, but they don't wanna make her day even worse by bringing up Buffy. They're starting to get that the girl is a sore spot for her, even though they don't know why. Faith doesn't even know why she bothers her this badly.

They eat cake, they give her presents, and Faith starts to calm down. She jokes with Xander about his present; a very tight pair of leather pants, which yeah, totally suit her, but she couldn't resist poking fun about how he probably just bought them to see how fabulous her ass would look all squeezed into them. She was rewarded with him turning bright red and stuttering for a few minutes.

But it wasn't bad. As far as her birthdays went, this one was by far the most successful, even with the added Buffy drama. They said goodbye and left after a couple hours, leaving Faith to lie on her back and just stare at the ceiling, trying to figure out why the hell some stupid bitch has the power to drive her so damn crazy.

She can't think of an answer though and soon the liquor takes its toll and she passes out, clothes and all, she hopes that next time she decides to put her foot in her mouth, she at least won't be intoxicated so she can deal with the backlash.

Because really, getting bested by Buffy Summers? That's so many fuckin' ways of not cool.



Chapter Seven - Secrets That Destroy Us

Faith's hangover wasn't as obnoxious as she expected it to be.

After dragging her ass out of bed, taking a shower, and poppin' a couple aspirin, she looks at the clock. About time for her mother's daily dose. She sighs, not even bothering to wish that her life were different since it would be pretty damn pointless, and grabs her mother's drugs. Her life just is what it is; ain't no use whining over it anymore. Turing sixteen should have made her feel like a whole other world of possibilities was now open for her, but she couldn't get past the nagging voice in her head that kept telling her that her opportunity to become the next Slayer has come and gone.

It was Saturday, so she didn't have school. Giles did want her to go in and train some more, but not until later.

Faith makes her way into Caroline's room and she smiles up at her daughter, but then frowns as she takes in her appearance. "Oh honey, you look like shit."

"Thanks," Faith says dryly and hands her mother her bag of shit before flopping down on the bed. Her mother doesn't do it right away though; instead she puts it on the side table and looks at her daughter in almost pity or maybe it's understanding.

"Party too hard last night?" Caroline asks as she runs her fingers through Faith's wet hair. If there was one person who knew about partying too hard, it'd be her mother.

"Something like that," Faith says, trying to ignore the bruises she has on her because of Buffy's rough behavior last night. Bitch can apparently throw down. Faith didn't really remember much besides Buffy suddenly comin' out of her shell and sticking up for herself. Well, that and apparently how hot it made her. It kind of disgusts her to think about. She's got way too many damn issues.

Caroline leans over and grabs a comb from off the table and situates herself behind Faith as she starts combing her hair. Faith ain't really into the whole coddling thing, but she's too hung over to argue right now.

"So tell me what happened, did you have a nice birthday? It was sweet of your friends to take you out," Caroline says as she runs the comb through her daughter's dark locks.

"Yeah, fun as fuck, till the bitch from hell showed up," Faith mumbles. She knew she shouldn't have said anything after the comb stopped halfway down her hair.

"The bitch from hell, huh? Tell me about her."

"It ain't nothin', Mum. Just some bitch whose head I'd like to kick in though a damn door," Faith says flatly, but her mother chuckles, finding amusement in that. Faith narrows her eyes, "What?"

"Nothing, Fai," Caroline says, running the comb through her hair again. Faith can feel the water droplets drip down her back, getting lost beneath her tank top. "Does this bitch have a name?" Faith knows her mother's just trying to bond and all that crap and while bonding over Buffy isn't exactly what she wants to do, she does want to talk to her. Just because she never really gets to anymore.

"Buffy," Faith says quietly.

"Buffy, huh?" Caroline asks idly, except Faith can tell she means something more by it. She finds out what it when her mother goes on, "I've heard you talk about her in your sleep."

"What? I don't talk in my sleep, Mum."

Caroline laughs a little, "You've always talked in your sleep. I went in and checked on your last night, you kept mumbling her name." Faith just glares at the wall, not knowing if she's right. She knows Buffy has shown up in her dreams a couple times, but she can never really remember them. She just knows she was there. Caroline continues though, "You must really hate her if you dream about her."

That makes Faith turn around to face her, eyes accusing. "What are you doing? What's with the tone?"

"What tone?"

"That tone you're givin' me now, like you don't believe me or somethin'."

"I didn't say that," Caroline avoids, but she has this little smile that's aggravating Faith, and she can tell. She sighs a little and touches her cheek comfortingly, "Fai, sometimes you're so grown up that I forget that you're still so much a child."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

Caroline gives her another smile, a more comforting one, as she lets her hand fall from her cheek. "I think you like this girl," she tells her, knowing that one isn't going to go over well.

"What? Mum, I'm not fuckin' five. I don't pull her pigtails on the playground so we can go play a little game of ‘I'll show you mine if you show me yours' later," Faith snaps, annoyed. She might not be an adult yet, but she ain't a stupid kid who teases the girl she likes cause she wants to kiss her. What the hell is that? Seriously? Buffy may be pretty, but she ain't all that. Faith's had hotter.

[trigger warning]

"Faith," her mother says, her tone disapproving. "You know I don't like when you talk about sex, especially after—"

"Don't start on that," Faith warns her eyes flashing. That was one thing she never, ever wanted to remember. In her mind, that fuckin' day doesn't even exist. But Caroline is looking at her sadly. She tries to wrap Faith up in her arms but Faith pushes her away.

"You have to acknowledge it happened, just like I did," Caroline tells her, her voice coming out shaky from the emotion behind it. All the love… and all the protection she failed to give her. Faith sets her jaw and looks away from her.

"I didn't happen."

"Fai, what you're father did…"

"HE'S NOT MY FATHER!" Faith screams, standing up, all the fury and all the emotion making camp in her chest and threatening to claw its way back out of her. She's breathing heavily, her hands clasped into fists at her side. She can feel her nails start to dig in, start to pierce the skin, but it only makes her do it harder.

Her father… her father was nothing. A sick fucking bastard who four years ago allowed his daughter to get violated as payment since he didn't have the money. Sat there and fuckin' watched as her world and her body got torn apart. He is nothing, he is nobody. And she never, ever wanted to remember that day. It doesn't exist.

"Okay, okay sweetie, hey…" Caroline says, getting up, trying to calm her daughter who looks on the verge of tearing the room and herself apart. "I'm sorry, we won't talk about this now, you're not ready. I'm sorry…"

"That day doesn't exist," Faith says, her voice coming out strangled and detached. She was breaking, she could feel it. It's like something sick crawled inside her and died, trying to take her with it. She could feel his hands again all over her, could smell his sour breath and hear his grunts of pleasure as he violated a child. It was eating at her all over again and she could feel the pain force its way up her throat.

The pain turns out to be vomit though, and she bends over and hurls onto the carpet, the acids burning her throat and bringing tears to her eyes. She chokes and sputters, seeing some blood mixed in with her bile on the carpet. Would've helped if she had anything in her stomach other than day old booze.

Caroline is by her side in a second but Faith pushes her away. "Don't," her voice comes out strangled and hoarse. "Just leave me alone," she tells her, all the hurt, anger, and disgust flowing through her words. She wipes her mouth with the back of her hand and leaves her mother's room; leaving her to clean up the mess she started. She slams the door behind her and makes her way into the bathroom, turning on the sink before rinsing her mouth out.

Faith knows why her mother pushes her to talk about it. She's all about ‘talking is how you heal', or some shit. She can't afford her to bring her to a therapist, so does this about twice a year, just trying to let Faith work through it. But she never wants to work through it. Working through it means she has to accept it happened to her and she just ain't fucking ready to do that. It's too messed up and yeah, maybe her whole life is pretty damn messed up but that's one thing she can't accept.

She tries not to blame her mother for it. It ain't her fault it happened. After she tried to stop it she got thrown into a wall and was unconscious for longer than it took the bastard to finish, which felt like forever. But maybe somewhere deep inside she does blame her mother, cause it ain't like her getting beat was anything new. Wasn't like how completely fucked off her father was, was anything new. Faith doesn't even remember when they were happy, but her mother tells her that they were once. But it took her years and years of getting beat down, of Faith being beat down, Faith getting violated for her to finally get the balls to run.

And it wasn't even cause of that that they ran. It took the fuckin' place being shot up cause her father pissed off the wrong gang or something. Scared of bullets but ain't scared of getting a beat down every damn day. Whatever. Yeah, she resents her mother for it a little, but she's all Faith's got now. Caroline tried to protect her when she could, but it just wasn't enough. Never is. She loves her cause she tried, but hates her cause she failed.

Sometimes Faith wonders what it'd be like if she had a normal family; if she had a house and a dog and maybe a little brother or sister, just something normal. Family dinners and all that shit that she'd see on TV. But she always stops wondering cause there ain't no point in holding onto something that'll never happen. That ship has sailed and she was on the wrong fuckin' boat.

Faith knows this is why she gets how she does. Angry; needing to be in control no matter what the cost. She's never been big on psychology but she can see what it all did to her. She knows what the rape did to her too, even though she doesn't like to think about it. But being a lesbian; a lesbian slut no less… it's clear as fuckin' day why that happened.

She doesn't have any trust in men and really doesn't ever want to. Xander's different; he's like one of the girls. His cherry still ain't popped so he ain't become a monster yet. Faith's not sure he'd ever really become a monster, but it's not like she's looking to start her first mutual sexual encounter with a man with him. He's a friend, but that's it. She's not lookin' to expand into new territory anyway.

The shit that went down she knows subconsciously made her feel like that's all she's worth. She knows it ain't true, that yeah, she's gotta be worth something, but sometimes an imprint like that is hard to shake. That's why she fucks around. Gets some and gets gone. It's all about give and take and nothing in between. Faith doubts there will ever be anything in between. It's what people wants from her so why the hell not just give it to them?

Maybe a part of her thinks that a girl like her doesn't deserve more. That love and happiness and all that crap are reserved for normal people; people who don't have a bastard father, a drug addict mother, and more baggage than she can ever carry herself. Who would want to deal with that? She doesn't even want to deal with that.

Maybe that's why Faith needed the slaying. Why she needed to be Chosen. Just to feel like someone or something out there actually gives a shit and thinks she's worth more than this shell of a person she's become. She knows she's strong; she's strong as all hell for what she's been through and how she deals with it. She's still going to school, still trying to do some right by herself. She's trying to live even though half the time it seems pretty fuckin' pointless. But no matter how strong she is she always feels so damn weak.

But she gets by; she survives. She has to now. Her life might not seem like much, but it's a whole lot better than how it was. Compared to before, this shit's like Disney Land. She's moved up, she's moved on, and she's trying. Trying to give her and her mother more than what they had, even if it's only by a little. But they got freedom now, freedom from him and his fucked up life, and that's gotta be the best thing out of it all.

Besides, there's no use torturing herself about the past. She was already tortured enough when she was in it.

[/trigger warning]



A week went by and Faith continued to train with Giles, work on her schoolwork, and stay clear from anything that would heavily piss her off – like Cordelia and Buffy – who were now seemingly separated, which made it harder. When they roamed in packs it was easy to stay clear, but now that Cordelia had decided that Buffy was uncool, the blonde had taken to being by herself most of the time. It's not like Faith is avoiding a confrontation, no, she lives for that shit, but right now she's trying to give herself a break from all the drama. She's falling behind in her classes and that was one thing that was actually important to her, so she stopped with all the bullshit for awhile. She couldn't concentrate when she was pissed off and around both of them she was pissed off a lot.

Avoidance didn't last long, of course. Though through no fault of her own.

Faith strolled into the library one day only to stop short by the sight of Buffy, eyes red and puffy from crying, talking to Giles as her hands were shaking. She looked a wreck; scared and upset beyond words. Faith felt her mouth go dry and she wasn't able to be cruel only because she'd never seen anyone look more devastated in her entire life.

"Ah, Faith," Giles says, noticing her in the doorway. He has a pained expression on his face, almost as much as how nervous he's clearly become. Faith seems rooted to the spot, not knowing what the hell was going on. "Faith… meet Buffy; the Slayer."

Faith's eyes go wide and she feels like she's been punched in the gut. She takes a step back, her eyes connecting with Buffy's. She reaches out to the desk to steady herself, her brain going faster than she can comprehend. She can barely think, let alone make out words right now besides:

"…What?" It's quiet, so quiet she doesn't even think she said it at all.

"Faith, Buffy is going to be… under my care for a little while. Merrick…" but he couldn't finish, the pain washes over his face again in waves and Faith can't even fuckin' breathe. She knows what he's going to say anyway; Merrick was dead. Buffy started crying harder, upset that she couldn't protect him.

Buffy Summers. Buffy two-faced closet-case Summers is the Slayer? It didn't make sense, and she almost laughs at just how absurd it is, but she can't make her mouth move. Buffy couldn't be the Slayer, she's all pink and girly and—Faith's mind flashes to when Buffy pinned her up against the wall. She was strong. Too damn strong. It wasn't the liquor that impaired Faith; it was that Buffy was just so much stronger than her.

She can't breathe. Life just bitch slapped her across the face.

"You will still be under my care, of course," Giles goes on as he takes off his glasses, cleaning them. His hands were shaking and she can detect the slight tremor in his voice. "But I will be training you both… and Faith, it is absolutely vital that we train you and that you help us learn more about the Zan'Hurrak so that Buffy has a fighting chance to survive."

So that Giles has a chance to survive too. They've been picking off her Watchers one by one. And Giles… Giles was…

It infuriates Faith. She has never felt so much hated in her life until that very moment. Buffy fucking Summers is the Slayer, and Buffy just painted a big red target on both of their backs. "You…" Faith says slowly, her eyes dangerous. She laughs a little, she can't help it. "Are you shitting me?!"

"Faith…" Giles tries.

"No, G! What the fuck? You told me you didn't want me involved, I don't want to be fucking involved! Let B handle this shit on her own, she's gonna fuckin' get us all killed if she sticks around here!"

"She is the Slayer and you will respect her," Giles says firmly. "And me, for that matter. This is your duty, Faith, as well as it is mine. We are both involved whether we like it or not and you must be prepared for what it about to rain down on all of us."

"Fuck this," Faith responds, still too much in disbelief at all of this. Buffy?!? She turns to walk away, but another voice says her name; calling her back. Buffy. She sounded so broken; so distant.

Faith whips around and stars advancing on her, "No! No you don't just come in here and take everything away from me! You don't fuckin' come in here and make me and Giles next on some demon clan's hit list! Who the fuck do you think you are?!"

"Get out of my face," Buffy warns her, the effect of recent events making her voice choke from sobbing. But her eyes flash at her, making Faith aware of the danger. That she was not to be fucked with, especially not right now. But Faith doesn't move; she's right up in her face. She's not backing down. No one, not even the fuckin' Slayer is about to fuck up her life. It's Buffy's destiny, not her's. And yeah, Faith really hates the bitch in front of her for that too.

Go figure right? Of all of the people in this school, of course it's gotta be the one she despises the most.

"Girls, please," Giles says, apparently now realizing the two of them have spotty history with each other. Making them work together was going to be a task in itself.

"Make me," Faith spits out at her. Buffy stands up then, the chair she was in clanging against the tile as it falls to the ground. Faith backs up instinctively, knowing she should have done so in the first place. She can smell the power radiating off of Buffy and it makes her furious, but it doesn't make her completely stupid. Buffy looks almost detached from reality, but also like her only anchor to keep her grounded is Faith and the anger she's causing within her. Faith barely notices though; to wrapped up in herself.

"Do you think I want this?!" Buffy screams at her, and now she's the one advancing on Faith. "If I could give this stupid destiny to you I'd do it without a second thought! I don't want to be the Slayer! It's my fault everyone's dying!"

"Got that right B. That is your fault," Faith snarls at her, but backs up just as much as Buffy's coming towards her. She has fear in her, but it doesn't show in her voice. "And I ain't dying for you."

"I don't want you to! I don't want anyone to!"

"Got a funny fuckin' way of showing it."

That was obviously one step too far as suddenly Buffy's fist collides with Faith, the force lifting her off the ground before she crashes into a bookshelf, books falling down around her. She groans in pain, feeling like she just got hit by a fuckin' truck.

"Buffy! Faith!" Giles yells, furious. "Stop this right now! We do not have time for your childish quarrels. We are all in danger!" He runs over to Faith and holds out his hand to help her up, but Faith slaps it out of the way before picking herself up off the ground, wincing at how badly that hurt.

Her ego just keeps getting beat down by this bitch, let alone her body.

She fucking hates her. Faith's eyes connect with Buffy's and she can feel nothing but rage. She already had everything and she had to go and take the one thing Faith wanted. She had to come in and turn her life upside down and now in a couple weeks she'll probably be six feet under because of this stupid bitch. This is not what she wanted!

"Fuck you. Fuck all of you," Faith says, her voice hard as she starts to walk away. Giles calls back to her but she doesn't listen, she just keeps right on walking. Once she's out of the school she takes off running down the street, just needing to get away. She ran for miles and miles, just trying to make her chest stop feeling like it's ripping in half.

Buffy Summers is the Slayer… and Faith wants to destroy her for that.


Chapter Eight - Breaking Apart: Part One

Storming out dramatically didn't work out exactly the way Faith had planned. Mainly because usually when someone storms out, the whole point would be to not come back. To show the fuckin' world you're pissed and that everyone can just fuck the hell off and die for all you give a shit.

Faith came back though, probably because the dying part was a bit too real now.

She gets responsibly, she gets destiny. She's not completely dense and she's not completely selfish either. But it hurts. Everything fuckin' hurts inside and she's freaked out to realize it's because she's terrified. Not like she'll admit it. No, she'll never say anything like that out loud. But she is. She's got this big red target on her back now that screams, "Take your best shot, big guy!" It ain't something she's exactly had to deal with before… and she's dealt with a lot.

She's pissed because Buffy's the Slayer but she's even more pissed because the bitch just brought hell to rain down on Giles' and her friend's heads, let alone her own.

She just doesn't know how to handle it. Doesn't know how to handle her. Buffy.

There's something about Buffy Summers that bugs the hell out of her. It's like this feeling in the pit of her stomach that's drawing her in at the same time that her mind warns Faith that Buffy's not good for her; screaming at her to stay the hell away. Maybe that's because of the Slayer thing, maybe that's just because of her. She's always felt weird around Buffy, though not enough to really notice it before. But lately it's like it's pokin' its head out and letting her know that something's wrong and she's trying like hell to ignore it but she just can't.

For real though, on her top ten things to do this week, dying ain't one of them. That's why she came back.

When she strides through the Library doors she's greeted by the sight of Buffy, Willow, Xander, and Giles all sitting around the table with books laid out around them. They all look up at her, Xander and Willow looking relieved, Giles still looking angry with her for storming out, and Buffy still looking shaken up.

"No one say anything," Faith warns as she comes over and flops down into a seat. She meets every single questioning and surprised glance that's thrown her way with dangerous eyes. She's not talking about why she's back. She just is; end of story.

There's a silence that stretches on for what seems like forever before Buffy speaks. "I'm sorry I hit you," she says softly, her words coming out cracked. Her hands still seem to be shaking.

"What part of ‘don't say anything' did you fail to grasp, Twinkie?" Faith shoots back at her, becoming increasingly aware of the pain on the side of her face. If she has a huge bruise in the morning she's throwing down with this bitch, Slayer or not.

Reality has yet to hit Faith about what's really going on. Imminent death, yeah, she gets that. She get's everything that has to do with herself. But she's refusing to see what has already happened to other people around her. She doesn't want to think about it, she doesn't want to feel. Faith doesn't want to feel for her. Maybe it's selfish, but she is far past the point of caring. She's fuckin' terrified, okay? Yeah, she'll admit it to herself. Faith's terrified for herself and she's terrified for her friends. She just can't think about what someone else is going through cause it's just going to make the reality so much worse.

Denial. Faith's almost as good at it as Buffy is. Faith denied acknowledging the fact that Buffy was the Slayer even though she feels like it was in front of her the whole time. If she can't handle it then she just won't deal with it, plain and simple. What she can handle? Anger. Oh, anger she can handle just fine…

Buffy shoots her an indignant look at the bitchy attitude and Giles clears his throat. "Enough, both of you, please," he says before sliding a book Faith's way. "We need to find out what we can about the Zan'Hurrak as quickly as possible. Faith, I've filled in Xander and Willow already, they arrived not long after you… left," he says the last word with distaste. She knows he's still pissed, but like she's the poster girl for controlling her emotions. She really should get a gold fuckin' star and a scratch n' sniff sticker for coming back this soon, seriously; pat on the back for her, damnit, since no one else seems really inclined.

"If the Council can't find this shit, how are we gonna?" Faith asks. Not to be a damper on their parade or anything, but just cause it's a valid question.

"Faith," Giles says her name like he's sick of explaining this to her, "Like I told you once before, these are not regular library books. What you have in front of you is a book that is hundreds of years old. While yes, there are translations of that book across the world, it is still one of very, very few." Faith cocks an eyebrow at the word ‘translation' and Giles assures her, "You have the English one. But some of these books are some of the last in existence and are volumes that the Council does not possess. Some of these are even from my own collection. We may find what we are looking for here and we may not, but we will not find anything if we don't try."

"Yeah, got it," Faith mumbles. She hates when he gets all annoyed at her. She had a damn valid reason for storming out, shit. She got fuckin' thrown into a wall, told she was basically gonna die, and that the girl she couldn't stand had everything she wanted and a bag of peanuts. Why can't she just get credit that she came back?

She knows why, but she won't think about it. She can't think about it. Thinking about it makes it real. That's another reason why she keeps avoiding everyone's look of disapproval at her snapping at Buffy.

The Library falls silent after that and nothing can be heard but the turning of pages. After about ten minutes Willow slips her a note that asks, ‘After this we can go back to yours and talk, right?' Faith just nods to her. She knows both of them probably haven't been able to say word one about Buffy suddenly being the super hero since they got there. Giles probably didn't give them much time to react, though not like there was much time at all to do anything anymore, it seemed.

The air in the room is heavy. Shock mixed with determination and desperation. Everyone's trying to concentrate but not being able to really think. Faith's thoughts are going so fast through her head that she barely has time to process them. She's trying to push everything else out and just tries to focus on her anger. She's pretty sure her anger is the only reason she's survived as long as she had, so it's a good enough plan to fall back on.

"Ah ha!" Xander bursts out after another long stretch of silence. Everyone looks at him and then he scrunches up his face, confused. "No wait, no ah ha. Nevermind."

Faith sighs and slumps lower in her chair, trying to look at the words on the page in front of her but they seem to just be blurring together. Her eyes flicker up to land on Buffy, who's sitting across from her looking like she can't concentrate on the words in front of her either. She's leaning on one of her hands, staring down at the book in front of her as she slides her slightly trembling fingers slowly through her blonde hair. Faith doesn't realize she's staring until Buffy looks up at her, which makes Faith glare at her before dropping her gaze back to the page in front of her.


That weird feeling that she gets when she's around Buffy just intensifies and she really wishes she knew what the hell it was. Maybe it really was a potential Slayer thing; like all the Slayers and Slayers-To-Be get butterflies in their stomach when another one of their kind is around. Maybe she'll ask Giles about it later when he's not actively being disappointed with her. It's weird though, she's never gotten anything like that with anyone else. Comes sort of between the realm of nerves and the tingles you get from sexual anticipation. It feels good, but that's the problem. She doesn't want to get the warm fuzzies when she's around Buffy. She hates her. She's trying really fuckin' hard to not let anything change that.

Faith gets the feeling someone's watching her so she looks up and meets Buffy's eyes again. She doesn't look down though; she doesn't seem embarrassed about being caught. Instead she mouths a silent, "I'm sorry," fucking again. Seriously though, what is this girl's issue? Why the hell does she have to go and apologize every time something goes south between them? It ain't like she's gonna win any kind of award for it and it ain't like she's looking for a new friend in Faith. Right? Cause just… no. And it's making her feel weird. Almost guilty. She doesn't like that feeling… at all. Reality isn't allowed to bleed through right now.

Girls like them ain't meant to get along. Period. Cut from different clothes or whatever. She doesn't get why Buffy has to turn around and be so freaking nice. It's frustrating, especially right now. Especially after everything. Can't they just stick to being rude to each other? She knows Buffy doesn't like her, that much is clear. So why the hell is she trying? Does she get charity work credit for this shit? Fuck that. She just needs to leave her alone cause Faith isn't ready to feel yet. She isn't ready to see that Buffy's a… person.

A person that's in so much pain right now that she can barely contain it inside of her.

But Faith refuses to see that. She turns a blind eye and focuses back on the book in front of her. All there is inside of her is anger, that's what Faith tries to focus on. Anger. She's not a person; she's a Slayer. She should be equipped to deal with this type of thing. Half demon, right? But Buffy looks all mortal right now, in more ways than one. That's the problem.

But even though she's holding onto the anger, Faith ain't about to start another fight, at least not when Giles is still all pissy. So instead she just shrugs a little and puts up her hands to tell her it's cool, for now. When she sees the damage to her face it might not be, but they'll cross that bridge when they come to it. Right now they gotta stick to the books and find out more about who the hell wants to chop them up into little pieces and make a Slayer pie.

"Wait!" Willow exclaims, making almost all of them jump out of their skin as her voice pierces the silence of the room.

"What is it, Willow?" Giles asks.

"Here, I-I think I found something," Willow says, looking really pleased with herself through her nervousness. "It's a diary entry written by a Watcher from the 16th century. Look," she says, sliding the book, or apparently diary, over to Giles who picks it up and adjusts his glasses on his nose before reading outloud.

"I do not believe I will live though the night, hence I will write this hurriedly and hold onto the hope that this will never be discovered by those whom wish me harm. None whom acquired knowledge of them have lived to breathe a word of their existence, but I must try. I do not know what name they call themselves; all I know is this: they feel themselves connected to the Slayer line, perhaps even behind controlling it. They carry out the orders to pave the way for the new world, for the destiny of two—" Giles stops, apparently where the passage ends.

"Guessing our boy got interrupted," Faith says, just to fill the silence of the room.

"That is the last entry," Giles affirms. He takes off his glasses and begins cleaning them thoroughly. Faith knows that means he's freaking out a bit. "If… by some chance this man spoke the truth, then this has been going on for centuries now. I'm inclined to believe that they are trying to carry out a prophecy, though it's quite disconcerting that not many have known about their existence and lived to speak about it."

"Wait," Buffy says, sitting up now, most of the tremble gone from her voice now. She's trying to be stronger and Faith tries like hell not to notice. Faith's eyes do flicker up to look at the Slayer though as she speaks, "If… If no one knew about them, then how does the Council know their name?"

"Good point," Xander says, pointing at Buffy and then to Giles with an expectant look.

She does have a good point, but Faith doesn't stress it, she just looks at Giles. Giles puts his glasses back on his nose before answering, "I said not many. The Council has one passage on them that only describes them as manipulators of fate. It says they are classified as neutral, but under the current situation they have been referred to as a threat. Though," Giles says, thoughtful for a moment. "You may be on to something, Buffy. All of the Council has been warned about them, been told their name, and yet there are far less deaths than one would presume if this entry is true."

"S-So what does that mean?" Willow stutters, a little freaked out about being in the know about something that could get them all killed. She's not the only one. Xander still looks a bit green, but every single one of them is trying to deal with this as well as can be expected.

"It may mean the prophecy of the New Age is coming to pass right at this very moment. That the Slayer it entails is in fact the current Slayer."

All eyes turn to Buffy, whose own eyes go wide in fear.

"Me? Why me? I don't want to be Prophecy Girl!"

"Would you rather be Dead Girl?" Faith asks with a snap of annoyance. Buffy seems to think about that, but not very hard. She shakes her head and then slumps further into her chair, looking defeated. Oh my god, the bitch is pouting.

The fate of the world rests on the shoulders of a pouter. They're all fuckin' doomed.

Faith narrows her eyes, her line of sight never leaving the blonde. She slouches in her chair before kicking her feet up on the table. That lasts all of about five seconds before Giles pushes them off without even a glance at her. But Faith doesn't even spare a glance Giles' way either; she's still staring at Buffy who doesn't seem to be handling anything as well as Faith would expect from a Slayer.

Don't they get bravery in with that package of kung fu and crazy ass strength?

Looking at her though, that clearly isn't true. Buffy just looks as much like a scared girl as Faith feels herself. They're both trying to be strong though; trying to deal. The façade is faltering though; falling apart in front of each other as their eyes finally meet again. Faith can't bring herself to glare, she can't even sneer. She just looks at her, looks at all of her… and can't deal with it. She looks down again. She doesn't want to recognize the pain behind the older girl's eyes.

Anger. Anger. She has to remember that.

"They keep killing off her Watchers though," Xander says. Buffy immediately stiffens, the fear back on her face. Faith doesn't look at her. She can't watch her react to that.

"Yes, which is what troubles me the most; if one is to assume, they have been controlling the way the Slayer line is passed down, it in essence would mean they would be eliminating the Slayer at the correct moment in their timeline. The fact that they have been eliminating your Watchers," he's speaking to Buffy now, "also fits the theory that you are what they have been waiting for. They seem to be guiding you to a place in your life. It may be isolation and it may be something else, I do not know."

"So we're still on the hit list but B here seems to be off the hook?" Faith asks spitefully, shooting a scornful look at Buffy who at least has the decency not to meet her eye. Anger. She's doing anger. She hates that she has to constantly remind herself to do it though.

She also hates that every single time she does it everyone looks at her like she's being the biggest bitch from hell. But they just don't understand. Hell, Faith barely even understands. But she knows she has to. She knows it's easier.

If there was one thing she learned in her life, it was to protect herself above everyone else. In the end, everyone's always lookin' out for numero uno anyway.

Buffy can protect herself any way she wants to and Faith will do the same.

"To be on the safe side I think we should all assume that every one of us are still in danger, Buffy included, even after—," Giles starts, but notices the look on Buffy's face so he falls silent. "Willow," he says, addressing the red head, changing the subject. "Would you assist me with preparing a protection spell of sorts? It is not a guarantee safety net, but it should do the trick for a little while. It's more like a cloaking spell; hiding us from those who wish to do us harm."

"Sure!" Willow exclaims, excited to be doing some real magic for once instead of just studying.

Buffy raises her hand cautiously, "Is that going to affect my slaying? Like… can I beat up on unsuspecting vampires and they won't be able to see me?" She sounds hopefully, but only feebly so. Hell, Faith would be too if she was her. Sounds… a heck of a lot fuckin' safer.

"Unfortunately no, once you make your presence known to any danger, they will be able to tell you are there. That goes for all of us. The spell will only cloak us for as long as we do not engage our opponents directly. Be cautious that the Zan'Hurrak may also already have an effective method against such obstacles as well, so we all must be on guard," Giles tells them as he gathers up his books. "Xander, could you assist Willow and me by going out and gathering some ingredients while we prepare?"

"I'm on it, just tell me where you need me," Xander says, getting up.

"Excellent. Let me write down a list of what we'll need, Willow and I will start preparing in my office." He looks up then at both Buffy and Faith. "Oh, and Buffy? Would you please assist Faith in her training?"

"What?" Buffy asks, surprised.

"What?" Faith asks, annoyed. She needed to get out of here if she wasn't needed for the spell. She just needed to… get away. Probably go get really fuckin' drunk, even though that's probably the shittiest plan in existence. Also not the healthiest way to deal with… well, anything. Everything.

"Yes, she seems to have some trouble with blocking when the attacks come from behind. I know Merrick has taught you exceptionally well these past few weeks, though do not make the mistake – I will be enhancing his training after we get through with this spell. Just remember to pull your punches; I'd rather not see Faith look like a swollen blueberry."

A swollen blueberry? Fuck, fine, go on and shoot her pride down just a bit fuckin' further. That's cool. Like she really needs that right now.

"Nah G, I don't need—" Faith starts, but is interrupted.

"Yes, Faith, you do. Now is not the time for your petty quarrels with each other. In fact, I need you to start practicing self control over your anger issues and this is a good enough exercise to start. That is what weakens you the most. It causes you to overestimate your own abilities and underestimate your opponent's. I hope you will learn to overcome that quickly," Giles tells her in that way that makes her feel like she has no choice. Damnit. Fuck, fine. Why not get her ass handed to her by the one person she's trying like hell to get away from? Just peachy.

Buffy gets up though, looking hesitantly at Giles. Giles gives her a small smile of encouragement and comes over to her, telling her something softly in her ear. He puts a comforting hand on Buffy's shoulder and the blonde nods slowly, that urge to be strong coming back, all while Faith's eyes are shooting daggers in their direction because of the simple gesture. Buffy looks over at Faith before Giles walks away from her and into his office.

Buffy's trying to be okay with this. With everything. But Faith isn't. She can't.

Willow and Xander follow after Giles and Buffy and Faith are left alone for a minute, just staring at each other. Buffy looks a bit uncomfortable with the situation as well and she coughs a little, maybe just to clear the air. "Well, I guess we should…" Buffy starts, still looking hesitant.

"Whatever," Faith says in a huff as she gets up quickly, the chair scratching on the floor a little. She turns and makes her way into the locked closet, finding the key hidden behind some old books and opens it. She walks in, grabs the blue mats and throws them out onto the floor.

This is gonna suck.



Chapter Nine - Breaking Apart: Part Two

Buffy tries to help Faith set up the mats but the brunette shoots her a look. "I got it," she says dismissively, not really wanting to put up with being helped by the other girl because it only made her feel like more of an asshole. As she lays out the mats, Buffy folds her arms across her chest.

"You know, this isn't the most ideal situation for me either," she says flatly.


"You're just a fountain of intelligent words, aren't you?" Buffy mocks, starting to get a little furious with the younger girl's unwarranted bitchiness. Faith finishes laying out the mats and stands up to face her. She needed Buffy to back off and keep her distance for her own piece of sanity.

"Look, Princess. I don't like you, you don't like me. Let's just stick with that instead of you tryin' to get all buddy-buddy with me."

"I'm not trying to get—ugh," Buffy says, frustrated. "I'm just trying to be nice since we have to work together and see each other every day now because of this. Excuse me for trying to make that a little more pleasant. Excuse me for fucking living, Faith. I can see how much it bothers you."

Faith cocks an eyebrow at her, following her own advice of just saying angry. "Don't start with this dramatic shit, okay? I know what you're doing. Cordelia dumped you, from what I heard Scott dumped you. You got no friends, no boyfriend. You ain't got anyone and now you think that just cause we got something in common me and mine are gonna be your rebound buddies? Really don't think so." Buffy just stares at her like she couldn't believe Faith just said that too her. Hell, Faith is having a big okay, idiot, that was WAY over the line moment in her head, especially after what Buffy just went through, but she can't stop herself.

Protecting herself. Pushing her away. Pushing everyone away. Anger. Hate. Fuck it. She can't deal with it and she knows she's going about it all wrong and yet the words keep coming.

"You can't just come in here and think you're one of us because you have nowhere else to fit in anymore. You can't just fuckin' waltz in here and screw up everyone's lives and think we're going to be okay with it. You know what? Yeah, I can deal with you being here. But don't you fuckin' dare act like a wounded puppy who's trying to find their way back home when you bring this shit down on us. You're the Slayer, B. Fuckin' congratulations. Now deal with your shit like a Slayer."

Faith just took the ‘Biggest Bitch' title away from Cordelia. She can feel it and she already regrets every single thing that came out of her mouth when Buffy looks at her like she's not even human. She doesn't feel very human after that. She just took one thing and went way off base, turning it into something uglier just to hurt her; just to push her away. Faith's a lot of things… but she's never been that cruel. She can be a bitch with the rest of them but she doesn't… fuck. She just did.

She feels the pull as she watches Buffy start to fall apart.

Buffy's hands are shaking again and Faith realizes she's trying to control herself not to just beat Faith into that blueberry Giles was talking about. Faith steps back hesitantly as she watches her. Buffy's eyes have misted over and she sets her jaw and Faith watches her swallow hard before a strangled sob is released from her lips. The sound seems to infuriate Buffy and her hands connect with Faith's chest as she shoves her into the ground furiously. Faith gasps in pain; the force making the safety mat that broke her fall relativity useless.

Faith doesn't get up though and for once she doesn't defend herself, though maybe only because she knows she'll lose. She looks up at Buffy who's standing over her, one tear falling down her cheek, the fury igniting behind her green eyes.

When she speaks finally, her voice comes out even, like she's trying to control every single word. It only makes the anger sound more predominant though, and Faith's pretty sure she's not about to pick herself up off this floor anytime soon.

"My Watcher just died, you cold hearted bitch. He died! In front of me! Have you EVER seen anyone die, Faith? Get ripped apart?!" Buffy shrieks, the tears falling from her eyes faster. She points at the brunette below her furiously, "You don't know what it's like for me! Everyone around me is dying and it's my fault! I close my eyes and try to go to sleep and all I see is death!"

Faith's stomach feels like she swallowed rocks. The reality; the reality she's been trying to avoid. Buffy's pain. She saw it; she could practically feel it the minute she walked in the door. She didn't want to think about what Buffy went through because this would happen: she would want to fix it. She can't see her cry. She doesn't know why but the last time she saw her cry it scared her because she wanted to make it better. And this? All she wants to do is make it better and it terrifies her.

She's not supposed to care. She's not that kind of person. She's not the person who helps out someone when they need it cause no one has ever helped out her, that's for damn sure. So she's the person who gives a big FUCK YOU to the world and lets everyone go about their shit. But Buffy… she can't leave it. It freaks her out and pisses her off and she tries like hell to avoid what is happening right now and yet the funny thing is that she's the one that made it happen, her and her stupid fucking mouth.

Faith tries to get up, but Buffy won't let her. "No," Buffy demands, her voice dangerously calm as she stares down at her. "No, don't you fucking move. You're gonna sit there and listen to every single thing I have to say to you before you even think about moving."

Faith's eyes widen; Buffy's dead serious. She's never seen Buffy this way before. She doesn't move though, she stays where she is. She locks her jaw to keep herself from saying anything that's about to make this worse and make both of them feel like even more shit. It's hard though. She's never let anyone tell her what to do before, but right now? It seems like it might be a good idea to just shut the fuck up for once.

Buffy looks down at her. "You want this so badly, don't you? This destiny," she spits the word out like it's vile. "But it's not fun, Faith! Outside of all the blood and the gore and the fighting to survive every single night, everything else around you starts to fall apart!" More tears. So many that it's a wonder Buffy can even see. "No one wants anything to do with me anymore because I'm some sort of freak! My mother's starting to think I'm some sort of delinquent because I come home with bruises and wounds because I'm out there fighting for my life, fighting for your life and everyone else's every single night instead of being normal! I don't get a social life; I don't get a life at all! All I am is this and I can't make it stop! My entire world just fucking broke apart and I'm trying here, really trying to be the destiny girl and you're… you're not helping any, Faith! You don't know what I've been through, okay?! So just shut up and get off of my back!"

Faith doesn't have to see them to know that Giles, Xander, and Willow are watching the scene through the office window. Buffy's loud enough to make that obvious. But Faith doesn't care about them right now. She feels completely fucking horrible and it's making her sick.

Buffy's legs seem to give out from under her as she breaks down sobbing, putting her head in her hands and curling herself into a ball. Buffy's breaking in front of her and it makes Faith feel like she's breaking too. She has never witnessed anyone going through that much pain before. Ever. In her whole life. She's had her shit but she keeps it all inside. Her mother has freak outs but it's more rage than pain. But this… Buffy was shaking as she sobbed and for the first time since she heard about it… Faith hopes she never becomes the Slayer.

"B…" she tries, just trying to say something, anything. But Buffy doesn't respond to her and the overwhelming feeling inside of Faith to just reach out and hold the crying girl was becoming more predominant. But she was scared. Reaching out and relating… she doesn't want to do that. "Buffy," she tries again, moving closer to her, but Buffy pushes her away from her. Not hard though, she can't seem to put much effort behind it.

"Just go away," she sobs.

"Buffy… shit, come on. Stop cryin'," Faith says, her voice gentler as she tries to come closer to her again.

"No! Just… Faith, just leave me alone!" Buffy cries as she pushes her away again, but can barely see through her tears. She tries to make Faith get away from her, keeps trying to push, keeps telling her to leave her alone until she's screaming it. But Faith's arms wrap around her and the fight leaves the blonde and she collapses against her, burying her face in the crook of Faith's neck.

"I'm sorry; I'm a bitch, okay? I'm sorry, Buffy," Faith tells her as she holds her closer to her, just trying to get her to calm down. It was eating her up inside; the guilt. She shouldn't have done that. She should have found a better way to deal with her own problems. She knows she's not the poster girl for dealing with problems in the healthy way, but she shouldn't have been that fuckin' stupid.

Now look what she did.

It takes about ten minutes to calm Buffy down. Faith strokes her hair and holds onto her because she knows she has to; that she has to fix what she just broke. She watches Xander slip out quietly from Giles' office, the list of things he was sent to get in hand. He glances at them quickly, but leaves without another look to give them privacy.

Buffy's sobs have faded now; all that's left are her sniffles every now and then. Her hands hold onto Faith's shirt in a death grip and she won't open her eyes. "Buffy?" Faith asks softly. "B? You… you okay?" Buffy doesn't say anything, but she does lift her head up to look at Faith. Faith feels a tightening in her chest as she sees Buffy's tear stained face and she wipes away the next one that falls down her cheek. Buffy takes a breath, maybe a sigh, and leans her forehead gently against Faith's, closing her eyes.

"You were supposed to be the only one who could ever understand…" Buffy whispers, the pain still evident in her voice. It terrifies Faith that she wants nothing more than to make that pain go away. But she doesn't think about it, she can't right now. She'll freak out later, alone in her room, sure. But right now? Right now she's got more important shit to deal with.

"I don't," Faith tells her softly, almost regrettably. She sighs and closes her eyes too, just feeling Buffy's skin against hers. "I'm sorry, B. I ain't a Slayer. I'm… just me. I got shit I have to deal with every day but it ain't like you."

Fuck. Buffy's lips are way too close to hers, making her think inappropriate thoughts and have stupid urges. The girl's crying for shit's sake.

Faith pulls away from Buffy, just needing the distance before she does anything stupid. She doesn't know where that urge came from because this isn't the sexiest of situations. Buffy looks up at her, so many emotions on her face that Faith can't read.

"You hate me," Buffy states, softly. There's no emotion in her words even though her face is showing too much of it.

"I have to hate you," Faith corrects quietly.


"It's easier."

"Then what?" Buffy asks, her voice cracking. Her eyes search Faith's like she's trying to find answers to her own questions that she's never asked. Faith looks away from her, not wanting to see what's behind her eyes; what's reflected in her own.

"I dunno," Faith tells her, honestly. "Easier than anything else." She looks up at her when she feels Buffy's grip slacken on her tank top and her fingers start to slightly caress Faith's sides. Buffy doesn't seem like she's realizing that she's even doing it. But Faith moves away from her, making her stop. "It's easier for you too," she tells her, keeping her distance now. "You know it."

Buffy looks up at her, studying her; "You're terrified," she tells her.

"So are you," Faith counters defensively, even though she's sure neither of them knows if they're talking about impending doom or something else. They just stare at each other for a long time, the tension so thick in the air that it's almost suffocating them both.

"Yeah," Buffy admits softly. "I am." She takes a deep breath, contemplating something. She picks at her shirt absentmindedly as she goes on, "So maybe you're right. We just… we shouldn't get along."

Faith nods a little as Buffy looks up at her again.

Buffy takes another breath, calming herself down. Making herself deal with the situation and move on. "But we should be training," she says, trying to get back down to business. Faith's grateful for it.

And just like Buffy, she pushes down everything she was feeling and tries to act normal. They both need to right now.

Faith cracks a small smirk. "Now you're talkin'. Let's get rough." Yeah, that came out sounding a lot more suggestive than she meant it to and she can tell by the slight blush of Buffy's cheeks. Shit, that's not what she meant. She tries to move on from that quickly though, not wanting Buffy to think she's hitting on her because she's so not.As both girls pick themselves off the floor, Faith asks, "So what? You want to just come at me then?"

Jeez, that sounded like an innuendo too. Maybe she should just stop talking all together.

"Yeah, turn around," Buffy tells her, thankfully seeming to miss the innuendo. She brushes off her pants and wipes her eyes and Faith can see the strength behind them. It's almost beautiful in a tragic sort of way. Kinda like Faith's life as a whole.

Faith turns around, looking at the doors of the library as she tries not to think about what just happened or what it was. What it even meant. It just didn't make sense, any of it. She shouldn't feel this connected to a person she barely knows. But that's why she needs to run. She doesn't need connections, especially connections she can't explain. And most definitely not a connection that makes her… care. Caring is dangerous. Caring gets you hurt.

Faith's lost in her thoughts and her pause in being aware of the situation costs her when Buffy comes at her and she only realizes at the last second. Before she knows it she's sprawled out flat on her ass. Fuck. She needs to pay attention.

She rubs her shoulder where the hit connected. "Damnit, B. Giles said pull your punches!" Christ that hurt.

"I did!" Buffy insists. "Sorry, I'll pull them more. I'm still trying to get used to this whole super strength thing." She extends her hand to help Faith up, something that normally Faith would slap away. Though right now, after everything, she knows she has no right to be a bitch. She takes it reluctantly and lets the blonde help her to her feet.

"Alright, go again," Faith says, turning around and planting her feet. She can hear Buffy behind her, trying to pay attention to where she is this time. But when Buffy comes at her, even though Faith accurately judges the distance, she still blocks too late and ends up on her ass again. She growls in annoyance and Buffy tries to stifle a giggle.

At least she's feeling better. Christ. Faith rubs her back, wincing in pain.

"Sorry," Buffy says again, helping her back up. "Can I… can I show you something?" she asks, not knowing how receptive Faith is going to be to being taught by her. But right now if it keeps her from landing on her ass she's all for it.

"Go for it, Blondie."

Buffy looks disgruntled at Faith's array of nicknames but comes over to her. "Turn around," she tells her. Faith does what she says and then feels Buffy get behind her; almost pressing against her she was so close. "You're right handed, right?" she asks softly and Faith nods, most of the attention on how close Buffy is to her right now rather than their lesson. Jesus, Lehane. Get a grip.. If she got laid recently this probably wouldn't be much of an issue. Well, she's got a new thing on her to do list, anyway.

Not with Buffy. Let's make that perfectly clear.

"Okay, so when you turn to block me, lead with your left," Buffy instructs as she takes Faith's left arm in her hand and guides her, slowly showing her how to turn. "Keep your arm bent like this, that way when you block my punch most of the force will go here," her fingertips trail over an area on Faith's forearm, showing her. Faith feels the tingles getting worse. God damnit, the closeness isn't helping any. She's really gotta talk to Giles about this. "It's less likely to get broken on impact there." Yeah, cause that's comforting.

Faith is facing her now and Buffy has stepped back, demonstrating how she's going to come at her and how Faith's arm will connect to block it. "That way, if you do it like this, you can follow through with your right and get a clean shot," Buffy tells her, smiling a little as she takes Faith's hand in hers, guiding her along the pathway. Damn, they were way too… in each other's space right now. "You get it?"

"Yeah, think so," Faith says, waiting for Buffy to step the hell back from her space, but Buffy doesn't move right away, nor does she let go of her hand or the grip on her arm. She looks kinda spaced for a second before coming back to earth and stepping away, looking a little shy. Faith narrows her eyes, confused. Okay, awkward.

They're supposed to be hating each other. This isn't helping.

"Gimme your best, Twinkie," Faith says with a smirk before stepping back and turning around. She needs to get this back on track before she does something really stupid.

It takes about four tries before she manages to actually follow through correctly. Her fist connects with Buffy's jaw making her stumble back a step. "Oh shit, I did it!" Faith says, excited. Then she notices Buffy rubbing her face. "Oops?"

"It's fine, barely felt it," Buffy tells her, rolling her neck to crack it. She smiles at her though and Faith can't help but smile back, only a little.

It's one short moment of a truce between them, but Faith doesn't plan to think too extensively about the matter. She still needs to hate her, still needs Buffy to hate her back, but it doesn't look like hate is on the menu anymore. Faith will knock it down to ‘strongly dislike' but the fact of the matter is… no matter how much she tries to convince herself of it, Buffy isn't exactly the enemy anymore.



Chapter Ten - A Little Bit of Jealousy

"We should go to Church this Sunday."

Faith blinks heavily, trying to process what she just heard. She stops folding laundry and looks at her mother in disbelief. "Uh, why?"

Caroline digs a cigarette out of her pack, not meeting her daughter's questioning gaze. "Well I just think it's time for a little faith in our lives, maybe it will help us through the bad times," she tells her calmly before pulling one out and putting it between her lips. Faith is still staring at her like she has four heads.

"Mum, I don't need faith. I am Faith."

Caroline looks over at her disapprovingly, not amused by her joke. "I'm serious Fai, we are Catholic, or did you forget?" She flicks the lighter, making it flame before lighting her cigarette. Faith just raises an eyebrow.

"Yeah, you're a Catholic drug addict and I'm a Catholic lesbian slut. Pretty sure the big guy upstairs would smite us the second we stepped foot in the joint."

"Faith!" Caroline snaps, annoyed now. "God doesn't give up on us because of our sins. And I thought I told you not to speak to me about your sex life. I wasn't joking and I really wish you would be more respectful with your body." Oh please. Faith bites her tongue before she snaps back about how her mother should be respectful with hers by not snorting up drugs every damn day.

"Whatever," Faith says, rolling her eyes before going back to work folding a shirt. "I don't see why the fuck you'd wanna go all of a sudden. Ain't like we've always been religious." Then she stops, realization dawning on her. She looks up at her mother. "Aw, Mum… have you been watching the religious channel again?"

"That's not the point. I think we should—"

"I told you ya gotta quit watching that."

"—try to atone for our wrong doings. I think sitting in for a mass and maybe doing a confessional will be good for both of us," Caroline finishes.

"I ain't confessing nothin' to nobody," Faith says flatly as she puts down the folded shirt and picks up a pair of jeans."You can go though. If you think it's gonna do you good… more power to ya."

"I'd like us to go as a family…" Caroline tries, but it rubs Faith the wrong way and she slams the jeans back down onto the bed.

"Since when have we ever been a ‘family', Mum? I mean really. Between the cops knocking on our door every other week and Dad's gang shooting up the apartment when he jacked their stash, no wonder we couldn't find time for family fun, right?"

"Faith Hope Lehane," Caroline starts, her eyes flashing from her daughter's tone and pulling out the full name card like it's going to scare her. It doesn't scare her, but it does get Faith's attention. "I know I might not be the best mother and I know I haven't protected you as well as I should, but you damn well better respect me. I try my best and I'm sorry that isn't enough for you, but I am your mother and we are a family and you will go to church with me on Sunday. Is that clear?"

"Crystal, mother," Faith shoots back as she gives her a glare. Fuckin' whatever. If she wants to try to play happy family just… whatever. She can play that game if it makes her sleep better at night. Fuck it.

She doesn't know if she loves it or hates it when her mother gets like this. It seems she goes between being the good mother, to the fuck up, to the try-to-be-your-friend type. Like she doesn't know where to fit in or what will make Faith love her. Faith just tends to go with it though, knowing more often than not it's the drugs the effect her mood swings. She's gotten used to it.

Caroline looks at Faith and her face softens a bit. "Honey… I know…" she starts, then sighs, "I know things are bad. I know I'm bad. But I'm starting to get better, you know that. And I know you've been going through some stuff, stuff you don't think you can tell me and that's fine, okay? It is." Her gaze lands on the angry bruise that's starting to form on Faith's face, but she doesn't comment on it. She knows Faith won't tell her. "But I just think this could be good for us," she goes on. "We can learn and grow and… all that shit."

Faith smirks a little as her mother's speech falters a bit. But she relents, shrugging a bit. "Fine. Whatever. But just so you know, if we walk in there and get struck by lightning, the first thing my dead ass is gonna tell ya is ‘I told you so.'"

Caroline smiles a little, "Fair enough."

There's a knock on the door then, making Faith look up. "My door," she says, noticing the sound was from next door. She grabs some of her clean laundry and gives her mother a small smile, "I'm gonna go see who that is. You'll be alright?"

"I can survive on my own, Faith. I'm a big girl," Caroline reminds her with a soft smile. They hear another knock on the door and Caroline gets a twinkle in her eye. "You might want to get that, it could be Buffy."

Faith groans, deciding yeah, now is time to leave. "Don't start on that, Mum. Seriously. Me and her? Not ever gonna happen," she tells her as she starts backing out of the room with her arms full of clean clothes.

Great, she finally went all of a couple hours not thinking about the girl and then her mother has to go and bring her up. Seriously, she went out of her fuckin' way to distract herself so she didn't have to think about her and what happened earlier. But of course, because life likes to have a laugh at her expense, now her mother is convinced the girl that's the cause of her bruises is the girl she wants to send flowers and candy too. Right.

"You still talk about her in your sleep. Every night," Caroline tells her with this grin that Faith just despises. Like she's teasing her cause she's a school girl with a crush. She does not have a crush on Buffy! Ugh. Fuck! Maybe she talks about her in her sleep cause she's always dreaming about the stupid Slayers. I mean, fuckin' obviously.

Not like she can tell her mother that though.

"Whatever. Bye, Mum," Faith says with a dismissive tone as she walks into her room. As she closes the door she hears her mother ask:

"When you start dating you'll let me meet her, right?"

Faith groans again and shuts the door. Good fucking grief. Her mother was never gonna let it go. Caroline knows she's a lesbian but Faith has never once mentioned another girl to her before. Well, okay, she knows about Willow, but she met Willow and could tell that there was no sparks there, just friendliness. While she gets that her mother is trying to be all… excited over the prospect of Faith having a crush or even a real girlfriend – which she's never had – the fact remains that she's blowing smoke up the wrong damn chimney.

Dating isn't what Faith does. She screws. A lot. Though not really much as of late. After Harmony and that whole disaster she's kinda steered clear. Well, except for that one time last week she let the bartender go down on her in the storage room at The Bronze. But come on… needs had to be met. It's only so long she can go until she starts feeling antsy.

The knocking on her door continues.

"I'm coming, hold your shit together! Damn!" Faith yells as she puts the clothes down on her bed before making her way over to the door. When she opens it, she's not surprised to find Willow and Xander on the other side. She smiles, trying to make up for her grumpy response. "Sorry… Mum was drivin' me nuts."

"That's what parents are for, otherwise I'd think we both drew the short straw," Xander says with a smirk before Faith steps aside letting them both inside. When she closes the door, Willow starts talking a million miles an hour.

"I can't believe Buffy's the Slayer! I mean THE Slayer! Here! H-Here with us, in Sunnydale! It's so weird! She's not like a kick ass bad girl like you either, she's… she's a cheerleader! A slaying cheerleader!" Willow gets out all in a rush, almost like she was teetering on bursting a second before she opened the door and greeted them.

Faith cocks an eyebrow at her. She was far too enthusiastic for her liking.

Willow seems to get that and quickly diverts to, "I-I mean, damnit, damn Buffy and her… slayerness. It's wrong and it's bad and she's… a-a bitch." Well, on a scale of one to ten of how convincing that sounded, Faith would give it a two point five. Then Willow seems to notice her face and she winces, "Okay… m-maybe I shouldn't have been so ‘Ra! Ra!' over the girl who gave you… well, multi-colored bruises."

Faith sighs and sits on the bed heavily. No, probably not.

"It's fine Red, you don't have to be jumpin' on my bandwagon of hate if you don't want to. I dunno. I'm just kinda pissed about it. I mean Buffy's so fuckin'… girly, y'know? Packs a mean punch now but she's still such a… girl." Yeah, her ego is still bruised as well as her face on that one.

"Isn't that one of the main qualities a Slayer is supposed to have?" Xander asks pointedly. Faith rolls her eyes and lays down on her bed, looking up the ceiling.

"Whatever. Yeah, though that wasn't my point," Faith says, though more to the ceiling to them. "I just don't like her." She knows how stupid and jealous that sounded before it even left her mouth, but she has to convince herself of it. Like she told Buffy; it's just easier.

Easier than what though… she hasn't really thought about. She doesn't want to think about it.

"I'm sorry, Faith," Willow says, putting her hand on her leg and rubbing it, trying to comfort her. "We um… we saw…"

"I know," Faith interrupts, still not looking at either of them. "Buffy was screamin' pretty fuckin' loud. Figured half the world heard her."

"You kind of deserved it," Xander tells her honestly.

"Thanks, man," Faith says dryly.

"Sorry, but you did."

Yeah. She knows she did. That's why it sucks so fuckin' badly.

"Do you wanna… talk about it?" Willow asks, entering that territory cautiously since Faith doesn't ever talk about emotional shit much and what went down was definitely emotional.

"No. You know me… dealin'. Five by five, whatever. Eventually. I dunno," Faith says, still keeping her eyes trained on the ceiling, but now watching the fan spin slowly around. She feels like such an asshole right now.

She sits up suddenly, trying to put on that tone of indifference she likes so well before she starts spilling her guts. "It's cool though. We'll help her kick the bad guy's ass. No big."

"I'm still wigged that there's a bad guy that wants us all dead," Xander says.

"Yeah, about that… why the fuck did G-Man get you guys involved?" Faith asks. "This ain't your battle."

Willow looks sheepish. "Um… it was my fault. We came in and we heard him talking to Buffy and we… w-well I kind of… offered to help. He tried to pretend he didn't know what I was talking about but… we're your backup, Faith. We go where you go."

Faith smiles a little. "That's sweet and all – seriously you guys are like the best fuckin' friends a chick could ask for… but you shouldn't have wanted in this mess." She doesn't want to be the one responsible if something goes wrong.

"Too bad, you're stuck with us," Xander says with a grin as he sits down next to Faith and slaps her thigh lightly. "Besides, our lives would just be dull if we didn't have all the impending doom."

Faith snorts a little as she laughs, "Yeah, cause that's what dreams are made of right? Demons and doom."

"In Sunnydale? Yeah," Xander responds with a lopsided grin. Faith grins back, and then sees Willow checking her watch out of the corner of her eye.

"You got somewhere to be?" Faith asks her and Willow noticeably jumps a mile. Well, shit. Suspicious behavior for one hundred, anyone? Faith cocks an eyebrow at her.

"W-What? No! No, where would I need to be? I-I don't have a life," Willow stammers, nervous. Faith looks over at Xander and he shrugs. They both look at Willow questioningly.

"Willow, I love you to death… but you are a crappy liar, my friend," Xander tells her with a pat on the knee.

"I'm not! I-I'm… I'm…" Willow stammers some more. But both Faith and Xander are looking at her like they know better and suddenly she sighs in defeat, "Okay I give! I'm… I'm supposed to meet… Buffy… later…" She looks really guilty at Faith, whose eyebrows get lost in her hairline. Xander coughs uncomfortably.

"Is Buffy your new study buddy now?" Faith asks, folding her arms across her chest. She tries to keep her voice even, like she doesn't care, but it doesn't go over so well. The bitchiness is seeping back in and she doesn't really know why.

"N-No… it's not… she just… I mean I just thought…" she sighs again, looking like she's feeling horrible about herself. She looks down at her hands and mumbles, "You hate me now, don't you?"

Fuck. Faith runs her hand through her hair and sighs. "No, I don't… I don't fuckin' hate you, Red. Don't think it's physically possible. But I just…" Faith rolls her eyes, more at herself than anyone. She doesn't want to say it out loud. Saying it out loud made it even more real and even more pathetic. "Nevermind."

Willow looks at her sympathetically. "Faith… that doesn't mean I'm not your friend! I-I mean, you know that, right? But Buffy's been all… I mean, she doesn't have any friends now a-and she's upset about… everything. I think that… that maybe since she's around now maybe we could—"

"It's cool, Willow. Don't worry about it. You go with B and have your girly thing. Whatever you're doin'."

"You're still my best friend," Willow assures her.

"Hey!" Xander exclaims. Willow smiles and looks at him.

"You too, you goof."

"Good, because I haven't been in the market for a new best friend since I was five and the competition was pretty stiff then – I don't even want to think about what it would be like now," Xander says with a sly grin.

"What happened when you were five?" Faith asks, an eyebrow rising.

"I stole Willow's Barbie. We didn't talk for two whole days," Xander tells her with a smirk. "Hardest time of my life."

Willow giggles, then looks down at her watch again. Faith rolls her eyes and gives her a little push.

"Go," she tells her, making sure her voice sounded like she was okay with it and not like the jealous bitch she was really feeling like, which was hard. Faith's never been one to try to hide her emotions, mainly cause she sucks at it. Like, say, right now. Damnit.

Willow just looks at her for a moment before pulling Faith into a hug. Faith's eyes go wide, feeling like she's never gonna get used to the whole physical touching thing. But she slowly reciprocates. When Willow pulls away she assures her, "You're still my favorite Slayer-person."

"I'm a potential Slayer-person," Faith corrects with a smirk.

"Same thing," Willow says with a smile before she gets up, hugging Xander goodbye. She gives a little cheerful wave and a "Bye!" before she leaves, which then lets Faith finally relax her face into a scowl. Xander chuckles getting up to stand in the corner of the room, leaning against the wall as he looks at her.


Thanks Xander, because THAT needed to be said out loud. Jeez.

"She's stealing my fuckin' friends now," Faith grumbles. Yeah, she knows how stupid she sounds. If her, Xander, and Willow weren't so close she'd just brush it off; be defensive about it. She's like that with everyone else, anyway. Those two seemed to have a knack at breaking down her walls though, and she's realizing that she keeps opening up without meaning too all the time. It's kind of annoying, but she can't exactly back track or train herself to stop it. She doesn't have much in the way of self control.

"Relax, possessive-girl," Xander jokes, but Faith flashes him a look that shows him it wasn't funny. He's not put off though. "We're still your friends, and Buffy's still a two-faced popular girl that fell from grace, but she's kind of penetrated our little group now cause of all the evil bad stuff going on. Besides, you should know better than anyone how much she's… well, you know she's just hurting a lot."

Faith raises an eyebrow at the word ‘penetrating', a little smirk on her lips. She tries to steer the conversation toward something she can deal with: this. She can deal with sexual innuendoes much better than having a talk about Buffy's feelings. Or her own, for that matter. Xander looks embarrassed once he realizes what she's smirking about. Sometimes it's just way too damn easy.

"Not what I meant."

"You sure you don't want to go and penetrate her, Xand?" Faith asks with a dirty smirk. Xander turns all kinds of shades of red.

"No! I don't! There were no thoughts of penetration running through this mind, let me assure you."

"There wasn't, but I'm guessing there is now," Faith presses. Bingo! Cue more inappropriate blushing. Faith laughs a little. Okay, she's feeling a bit better. This was more natural.

"You do this on purpose," Xander mumbles accusingly as he comes back over to flop down on the bed.

Faith chuckles, "Damn right I do." Xander flips her off and Faith laughs some more, leaning back and putting her hands in back of her head, relaxing a bit. "You should try it sometime, it's hella fun to screw with people."

Xander looks up then, an eyebrow raised a bit almost as if accepting her challenge. He says calmly, "Like you screwed with Buffy at The Bronze?"

Faith narrows her eyes. She didn't want to talk about Buffy and her. "I was drunk; shit gets said."

"You looked like you wanted to eat her," Xander points out. Then he realizes the implication of his words in their literal meaning and he blushes a bit, but he doesn't retract his statement.

Faith smirks, not rising to the bait. "Yeah, and have her kicking and screamin' the whole way down."

"You know that's not what I meant. You think Buffy's sexy," he taunts her with a smirk of his own.

"Oh lay off, I was just messin' with her head."

"Uh huh."

"I was!"

"You're not jealous because Buffy's stealing your friends, you're jealous because Willow gets to spend time with your lover," he makes the word sound as taunting as possible and Faith makes an annoyed face before grabbing a pillow and hitting him with it. She didn't like how that one sentence made her feel; like her insides were doing back flips. "Ow!" Xander exclaims.

"Oh don't be a baby; it's just a fuckin' pillow."

"Faith, you just bitch slapped me with the pillow," Xander complains, rubbing the offended area with a pout. Faith just flashes him a triumphant grin.

"Be thankful you didn't get worse. I mean, come on dude, Buffy?" Why does she sound like she's trying to convince herself more than him? Christ. Maybe Buffy's fist rattled her brain more than she thought it did.

Xander shrugs, "You had sex with Harmony. I'd say after that all bets are off."

"Harmony was all… fuck, I dunno. Some kind of fluke. I was deranged or somethin'. I dunno. But B? Hell and no. She might be hot and all but my hormones don't control my life," Faith defends, arms crossing in front of her chest defiantly. Xander just looks at her skeptically and Faith sighs heavily. "Fine, hormones don't always control my fuckin' life. Happy?"

"A little. You just admitted she was hot," Xander says, a look of triumph on his face now.

"I got eyes, don't I? Shit. I ain't fuckin' stupid, but I ain't desperate either. Besides, I ain't the one who wants to penetrate her." Yeah, she's a bit defensive now.

Xander blushes again. "I don't want to penetrate her!" he defends.

"You've wacked off to the thought though," Faith says in that confident way she does that makes Xander's eyes go wide and then makes her smirk. "See? I knew it." She just needs to turn everything around on him; it's easier to deal with.

"It was once!" he defends quickly, then realizes what he just admitted too and says quickly, "Oh god, don't tell Willow I said that. Ever! In fact, this conversation never happened." He covers his face with his hands and groans.

Faith laughs. "Relax, I ain't telling Red nothin'. What we talk about stays between you and me, you know that. Besides, it ain't nothing to be embarrassed about. We all do a little self-lovin' every now and then, even to weird shit like Buffy fuckin' Summers."

"You've masturbated thinking about Buffy?" Xander asks, looking up at her, his eyes going wide. So do Faith's.

"That's not what I meant," Faith says quickly. "I meant you. You and your fuckin' weirdness of doing it." That didn't come out near as convincing as she wanted it too. Oh shit.

"You're a sucky liar," Xander tells her, but now he's smirking. He knows. God fucking damnit. It's not like she meant for it to happen!

"Fine, whatever. Once. It was a fuckin' accident," Faith admits flatly, then points at him dangerously. "Never. Leaves. This. Room."

Xander laughs a little but makes a motion like he was zipping his lips and throwing away the key. But then he looks at her, eyebrow rising. "Wait, how was it an accident?"

"Fuck. I dunno. One minute I'm goin' down on Angelina Jolie and the next…" she doesn't finish her sentence; he gets it. "I think my time ran up and Angelina was just needed in someone else's fantasy so I got stuck with the runner up."

But that just makes Xander's eyebrow arc even higher. "Buffy's your second best after Angelina Jolie?"

"What? No! Fuck, Xand. I dunno. It just happened and… whatever. You've done it too so just… fuck it. Whatever. The end. Conversation over," Faith says, her defenses kicking in again. Xander holds up his hands in surrender.

"No need to get snippy."

"I wasn't getting snippy."

"You were snippy. You were snipping. You were full of sniptasticness," Xander tells her with a grin. Faith rolls her eyes, but smiles a little bit.

"Pretty sure snipstasticness isn't a word."

"It is. Look it up under the dictionary and it'll show a big picture of you," Xander quips. Faith flips him off and he makes a motion like he's grabbing it and putting it in his pocket. "Thanks, I'll save that for later."

"Whatever. Fuckin' dork," she says, but she's laughing.

"Yeah but you love me," Xander says with a grin. She's gotta agree there, she kinda does. Bit weird, seeing as she never thought she'd have friends. But it's nice. Cool. It's… good.

"Alright, get outta my house. I gotta do homework," Faith tells him, but she's still smiling.

"Yeah, yeah, homework. I probably have some of that too but I'd rather go home and watch TV," Xander says as he gets up and heads towards the door.

"I don't know how the hell you pass your classes, dude."

Xander smirks, "I copy off of Willow."

"Oh, she's gonna kill you if she finds out," Faith says with a laugh. But Xander just puts his finger to his lips, signaling her to not say a word. She just shakes her head a little at him. "Alright, I won't tell. But if she finds out – I never knew."

"Faith enough," Xander says as he opens the door. "Night Faith."

"Night X-Man."



Chapter Eleven - Cryptic Messages

Faith strolls through the library doors the next morning, making Giles look up from behind his desk. He furrows his eyebrows at her. "Faith… shouldn't you be in Biology?"

Faith shrugs, "Probably." She leans against the counter on her elbows as Giles gives her a disapproving look.

"And is there any particular reason you're skipping it today?"

"Needed to talk to you," Faith tells him, turning around and placing her palms flat against the counter before hoisting herself up to sit on it. Giles narrows his eyes but doesn't tell her to get off of it, probably because he figures it's rather pointless.

"Regarding?" Giles asks as he puts away the book he was leafing through earlier, giving her his full attention.

Faith looks down and starts absentmindedly smoothing out her pants, feeling a little awkward though not sure as to why. She takes a breath, "Okay, this whole Slayer, Potential Slayer thing… is there like some kind of weird ass connection between the two?"

Giles looks confused. "What do you mean?"

Faith sighs, looking across the way instead of at him. "I mean like… Buffy, right? Whenever I'm around her I feel…" she starts moving her hands a little, trying to figure out the word but coming up blank.

"Feel…?" Giles prods.

Faith lets out another sigh, a little agitation at trying to have to explain it. "I dunno. It's like, whenever she's around, or looks at me or something I get… tingly."

"Tingly?" Giles asks evenly, though almost sounds like he's trying not to be amused.

"Yeah, like, my stomach does fuckin' back flips and my hairs stand on end. Is that normal?" Faith asks, looking at him finally.

Giles raises his eyebrows a little in surprise then hastily takes off his glasses and starts cleaning them; a sure sign he's uncomfortable. But Faith didn't know why the hell this conversation could be uncomfortable. "There are no known… connections between a Slayer and a Potential," he starts, looking embarrassed. Faith cocks an eyebrow at him. "What you seem to be experiencing sounds like nothing more than nerves or maybe a bit of indigestion."

"Indigestion? What the fuck?" Faith asks incredulously. "G, something weird is going on. Aren't you all for research about new and fucked up things?"

"Faith, language," Giles reminds her tiredly as he puts his glasses back on. "And this conversation isn't exactly in my jurisdiction. Perhaps you should ask your mother."

"My mum?" Faith asks, confused. What the hell does her mother have to do with anything? "Giles, this is Slayer shit. You're my Watcher."

"Faith, I find it hard to believe that you have never experienced… this, before," Giles tells her, rather embarrassed. Faith's still wicked confused. "You spare no detail when recounting your…" he chooses his words carefully, "active sexual prowess to your friends in this very library, which, let me assure you, I wish you would withhold from doing when I am around."

"My what?  Dude, I don't wanna fuck B, are you serious?" Faith asks, her eyebrows shooting up into her hairline. He's got to be joking.  "I don't get the happy in my pants when she's around, this is different!"

Why the hell does everyone think she wants to bang the bitch? For real. Like she doesn't know the difference between wanting to rip someone's clothes off and having weird other feelings that can't be explained.

Giles still looks embarrassed though and Faith is far past frustrated. "This is fuckin' stupid. You really think that I would stoop low enough that I would want some two-faced, stuck up, annoying little—"

"Faith!" Giles exclaims, anger now apparent in his voice. "I will tell you this once, and once only, do you understand me? I don't care what goes on in your personal life and what your issue is with Buffy, but I will not have you belittling her, especially not to her face. She has been through more hell that you can even imagine."

"Yeah, yeah, her Watcher died, I know," Faith says dismissively, trying not to think about it. She can't really handle thinking about it because then it makes her feel again. Makes all those weird feelings come up that makes her want to comfort Buffy and hold her and god damnit  why isn't Giles taking her weird feelings seriously? For fucks sake. This isn't normal at all. She's been with a lot of people and has never had those kinds of feelings. Hell, she can barely stand Buffy, has never once fucked her, so shouldn't that raise some red flags?

"She witnessed him getting ripped apart by fifteen vampires, Faith. They killed him in front of her and made her watch," Giles tells her softly. Faith blinks, trying to process that. Trying like hell not to get a mental image of that but yet she does and it makes her feel sick. She thought Buffy was exaggerating with the… ripping, part.

"They killed him, left… left him in pieces in front of her, Faith," Giles tells her, his voice shaking a little. "Then they knocked her out and left her there. They spared her. My only guess as to why, is that she is the Chosen One that the Zan'Hurrak are after and they are… I don't bloody know, torturing her, maybe. I haven't got a clue, but I am sure that they were the ones who gave the vampires their instructions. Not many vampires would spare a Slayer and as good as the Slayer is, coming up against fifteen vampires… the survival rate is slim to none. You need to understand something, Faith."

Faith doesn't look at him though; she's staring at the wall, trying like hell not to feel.

"Faith?" Faith looks over at him, taking a breath. Giles continues, "That is the life of the Slayer. Buffy has not been in it that long and yet she has witnessed more death and suffering than any one person should ever have to live through. The Slayer is strong, but she is still human. Buffy can still feel all that pain and she is grieving like any person should. But soon the grieving will stop, the shock will fade, and the Slayer will take over. She will go hunt every single one of those vampires down and kill them; I have no doubt about that."

Faith doesn't doubt that either. She would. If anything ever happened to Giles… fuck, she doesn't want to think about that. It's too real now. Imminent death is too fucking real right now.

"But she is not ready yet," Giles continues, "She has not yet learned to deal with grief and keep focus at the same time and so I am trying to keep her stable so she doesn't follow her instincts to kill when she isn't ready. So that is why I need you to please try to be somewhat pleasant to her before you push her over the edge. It is like what I told you about your anger. It clouds your mind and affects your judgment when you react based solely upon how you feel. It is the same with grief and it can be dangerous. Do you understand?"

Faith nods slowly, not trusting her voice. Fuck. That was… a mind fuck and a half. Ripped apart?  And she had to watch?  How the hell isn't she halfway to crazy town by now? Something like that… ain't that the shit people are put in mental hospitals for? Witnessing horrific death? God, it makes her fucking sick to her stomach.

"Now," Giles says, trying to move on from that. "The bell should be ringing in just a moment. Could you please find Buffy, Willow, and Xander and bring them here?"

Faith furrows her eyebrows and looks at him. "Why? What's up?"

"I will tell you all when we are together. So please?" he indicates the door and Faith slides off the counter. "I'm sure you know that Willow and Xander are coming out of Biology, where you're  supposed to be," he gives her a disapproving look. "And Buffy should be getting out of English right now."

"On it," Faith says, walking away and out the door just as the bell rings. She tries to clear her head of the conversation she and Giles just had. Disassociate. She's good at that.  She watches students flood out of the classroom for lunch; Faith spots Willow and Xander first and waves them over.

"Faith," Willow says, surprised. "Where were you?"

"Talkin' to G. Listen, he wants us all to meet up in there. Lemme go grab B and I'll meet you," Faith says, still scanning the crowd for any sign of the blonde.

"Are we all going to die?" Xander asks, worry in his voice.

"What?" Faith asks, turning her attention to her friend. "Nah, I don't think so. He didn't act like he was on death row, anyway. Or, I guess more so than we already are." Her eyes spot Buffy at her locker and she gives him a pat on the shoulder as she walks away. "I'll be there in a sec."

Buffy seems absorbed in what she's doing and Faith smirks a bit as she leans against the lockers, behind her open locker door. When Buffy closes it and see's her standing there she almost jumped out of her skin, but only before her hand clasped around her throat and pushes her flat up against it. Then her eyes go wide as she sees who it is and she lets go.

"Christ, B! What the fuck is your issue?" Faith asks, pushing the blonde off of her before rubbing her throat and glaring at her. Yeah, she's gonna have to work on this whole being nice thing. Though it might help if Buffy wasn't trying to fuckin' strangle her. Shit.

Then again, maybe sneaking up on the Slayer wasn't the best plan in the world.

"Sorry. You— Reaction. Don't sneak up on me like that!" Buffy defends, taking a breath. "Sorry," she says again, sounding more apologetic this time.

"Whatever," Faith says, just trying to brush it off. "Giles called a meeting; wants us to meet him in the library right now."

"But lunch…" Buffy starts, a pout forming on her lips. Faith rolls her eyes and digs a Snickers bar out of her pocket and throws it at her. Buffy catches it easily but makes a face as she holds it. "It's all… squishy."

"You're welcome," Faith says flatly as she turns away, walking down the hall. Jeez, try to be fuckin' nice…

"Sorry," Buffy says, catching up to her. She walks beside her, looking over at the brunette who doesn't look back at her. "Thank you."


"Is that the only word in your vocabulary?" Buffy asks with bit off a huff at being constantly dismissed with it.

Faith smirks and says, "Whatever," just to annoy her.

They both walk into the library and are greeted by Giles, Willow, and Xander. Faith strolls right up to the counter and hops on, taking a seat. "So what's up, G? Xan-Man here thinks we're all about to die or something."

"Hey, it's a valid suspicion," Xander defends.

Faith just shrugs. Yeah, probably. Buffy makes her way over to Faith, leaning against the counter next to where she was sitting. Faith raises an eyebrow at her choice of placement in the room but doesn't say anything. Didn't they say they were gonna not like each other? Usually that would entail space. But she doesn't say anything because Giles is there and she said she'd get along with her, at least for now.

She does have some compassion, after all.

"Actually Xander, it seems to be quite the opposite," Giles says, walking over to them and placing a piece of parchment on the table in front of them. Both Faith and Buffy look at it curiously, then at each other, before stepping away from the counter and walking over to where it lay.

Faith leans on the table, looking down as she reads the message.

"All will be kept safe until a fortnight before the splitting, which will occur in three phases of the moon. Prepare her."

"Cryptic, much?" Buffy asks after she reads it herself.

"The Zan'Hurrak are manipulators of fate, which could mean that they could be the composers of prophecy. Many prophecies are worded as this is," Giles says, picking it up again; studying it.

"Where'd you find it?" Faith asks.

"My office. On my desk this morning," Giles says softly.

"Okay, who else isn't feeling so safe anymore?" Xander asks, raising his hand. Willow raises hers as well, followed shortly after by Buffy and Faith.

"Actually, I believe we are, at least from them for the time being," Giles tells them. "The Zan'Hurrak seems to be following some sort of timeline and if killing us doesn't fall precisely where it needs to be than there will not be any needless death. By this, I assume we are all safe until two weeks shy of three months from now."

"What happens then?" Faith asks, folding her arms across her chest.

Giles take a breath, looking at the page. "It speaks of a splitting. We should start researching that, though it's vague. I'll speak to the Council; see if they have a take on it. In the meantime, they seem to want me to prepare Buffy for… whatever it is that may happen."

"Prepare me how?" Buffy asks.

"I don't know. I will double your training schedule; try to get you as ready as possible. In the mean time, we will still keep up the protection spell; better safe than sorry. And Faith? You will be training with Buffy. I feel that it would be wise to train you just as much as her, in case…" he stops, realizing what he just implied.

"In case what?" Buffy asks indignantly. She folds her arms in front of her chest. "In case I die?"

Xander clears his throat awkwardly and Faith purses her lips together, raising her eyebrows and looking at Giles with a 'well you just shoved your foot in your mouth' look.

"We must be prepared," Giles says, stuttering a little. "That doesn't mean that I don't have complete faith in you, Buffy."

Faith makes a horrified face at the way those words came out and Xander snorts a little while Buffy blushes and Willow looks at them all like they need to get their head out of the gutter. They probably do. But hell, she wasn't the only one thinking about how the sounded!

Giles looks at them all disapprovingly. "You know what I meant. What you two do in your spare time…"

"We don't do anything!" Faith and Buffy exclaim at the same time, equally as loud. Then they look at each other and take a step back, as if warding off unwanted attention. Xander's still cracking up and Willow smacks his arm.

"Well, regardless," Giles says, trying to not look too flustered at the interaction. "Lunch is almost over; I suggest you all grab something before your next class." And then he turns and leaves, probably just wanting to get the hell away from all of them and their teenage minds.

Faith looks over at Buffy cautiously, almost at the exact same time Buffy does. Their eyes connect and then they both take another step back from each other for good measure. Yeah, see? And this is why Faith thought space would be good. They just need to hate each other and things will go back to normal.

Except that it's not working all that well. Faith can still feel her stomach doing somersaults inside of her each time Buffy catches her eye. Fuck, what is happening? Why can't Giles take this shit seriously?

"So, Faith," Xander says, getting out of his chair. "Are we still Bronzing tonight?"

Faith tears her eyes away from Buffy to look over at him. "Yeah, Friday night. Nothin' else to do in this town."

"Ohh Buffy, you should come!" Willow says excitedly, earning a glare from Faith. Well, great. Fuckin' fantastic. Because space works really well when they invite her along.

"Um…" Buffy says, shifting her eyes to look over at Faith's unwelcoming glare. "No thanks, I think I'm going to just stay in…"

"Come on, it'll be fun!" Willow says, coming over to Buffy and putting her hand on her arm before looking over to Faith. "Won't it be fun, Faith?"

"Yeah," Faith says flatly. "Fun."  Xander gives her a look as he walks over to her and lightly bumps her arm, saying more with his eyes. Faith sighs, defeated. "You should come along." Damnit. What the hell.

"Are you sure?" Buffy asks, obviously still not sensing the welcoming since it isn't really there to begin with.

"Yeah. Whatever," Faith says with a shrug, trying to sound indifferent.

"See?" Willow presses.

Buffy shrugs a little, but still looks a bit apprehensive. "Okay… I guess. It could be fun." Willow beams at her, looping her arm through Buffy's before starting to walk out with her. Faith narrows her eyes.

"It'll be cool, w-we can all hang out without all the evil doom around us and…" Willow's voice fades into nothing as they walk out of the library doors. Faith huffs and leans against the counter, arms crossed over her chest as she shoots a glare at Xander.

"Stealing my friends," she says again, flatly.

"Come on, Faith. It's one night," Xander tells her, putting his arm around her shoulder. "After what Buffy went through, maybe we should—"

"Alright, alright, I get it," Faith says, pushing his arm off of her as she starts to walk away. He follows her. "I wish people would stop fuckin' telling me what she went though like I don't fuckin' get it," Faith snaps as she pushes open the doors to the library, practically stomping down the hall.

"Faith, we're not trying to—" Xander starts, but he's interrupted by Faith rounding on him.

"Look, I get that I'm a bitch, okay? I get that I should be nicer to the girl who had to witness her Watcher get torn to fuckin' shreds, alright? But you just don't get it, Xander. None of you do!"

"Then why don't you explain it?" Xander asks, keeping his voice calm. Not judging, not attacking, just curious. It's probably the only thing that saves him from her from tearing him a new asshole.

"It could have been Giles!" Faith yells before punching one of the lockers hard. Her hand stings but she doesn't care, she just keeps yelling. "It could be Giles, Xand! I mean for fuck's sake, I get it, okay?  I look at the bitch and see what might happen again. And yet all I wanna do is bloody fix it and make her stop crying because, I don't know, we have some weird fuckin' connection that Giles won't even acknowledge exists!"

"Whoa, slow down," Xander says softly, coming over to Faith cautiously. "Hey," he says, putting his hand on her arm. "Okay, I'm sorry. I didn't know what you were… Wait," he says, realization dawning on him. "Did you just say bloody?  You've been hanging around Giles too much." He gives her a small smirk and she tries to give him one back but can't bring herself too.

It wasn't Giles. It was her fuckin' father coming out in her. God damnit. She tries to suppress that as much as she can. It sounds wicked retarded when his stupid British words slip out around her Boston accent. Fuckin' prick. He's dead to her and yet is always haunting her. She hates that he's a part of her.

"Just forget it," Faith grumbles, brushing him off of her. But Xander holds his grip and pulls her back to him while she sneers.

"Don't go all defensive-girl on me," Xander says seriously. "We're all freaked out, Faith. You're not the only one."

"I know that," Faith growls. She's really not looking to have a heart-to-heart here, but she doesn't want to be a complete cunt and throw insults at Xander until he lets her go without a fight. She knows that's the only reason he'll ever let her go too. He cares too damn much.

"Besides, I am in firm belief that we are not going to die," Xander says, to which Faith looks at him skeptically.

"Weren't you convinced we were like a half an hour ago?"

"That was then, this is now," Xander replies, like that was a valid justification. It makes Faith smirk a little, amused. He smiles, "See? Cheer up. Nobody's going to die; at least not until three months, apparently."

"That's comforting," Faith says dryly, staring at the classroom door across from her; looking at her reflection. She looked tired. She was tired.

She sighs, moving away from him a little, trying to go get some lunch before it's over and she starves. But he stops her. "Hey… what you said about Buffy… what were you talking about? A connection?"

"I don't wanna talk about it," Faith says, starting to walk away but knowing he was going to follow anyway. "Giles just… he says it's nothin', like I'm makin' this shit up in my head or something. I dunno. Whatever." Okay, as for not talking about it goes, that was pretty much a failure. She needs to learn to keep her mouth shut. The damn thing just opens automatically sometimes.

"What happened? Do you get some sort of creepy voodoo vibe off of her or something?  Is she secretly evil?"

"No! I dunno, okay? I just… feel her. Feel for her. Something. Like I'm drawn to her like some sort of fuckin' puppet. It's really stupid, okay? I think it's the whole Slayer thing but Giles won't pay attention to it," Faith tells him, her annoyance at Giles showing in her words. He thought she wanted to fuck her. Jesus Christ. "Look, I don't want to talk about it, okay? Can we just go grab some food? I'm fuckin' starved."

"Okay," Xander says, letting it go. He knows better than to push too hard or too far. "But I gotta warn you… it's 'meatloaf surprise' day."

Faith groans.  Great.




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