Summary: The Chosen Two have a falling out after the fall of Sunnydale and Faith leaves. Now Xander is getting married and Faith is invited to the wedding...how will the slayers get along after two years apart? And what really happened between them?
I could feel the wound in my stomach still bleeding but I tried desperately to hold on to the moment we were having together as we looked over the hole known as Sunnydale. I was relieved and excited and terrified all at once and also a little queasy from the lack of blood but it was kind of a rush. Of course, the next thing I knew it all went black.
I woke four hours later and I knew before I even opened my eyes that I was in the hospital. I made sure to wiggle my fingers and toes and found something restricting the movement of my right hand. When I opened my eyes I realized it was because Faith was holding it between both of her hands.
She grinned when I opened an eye to look at her. "Hey, B."
I smiled. "Hi."
"You okay?" she asked. "You scared Giles and Red half to death."
"You too," I mumbled. I could see it in her eyes.
She held my gaze and nodded. "Me too."
"Everyone else okay?" I asked, my throat scratchy.
She nodded and stood up to pour me some water. "Everyone that was on the bus made it."
"Good," I replied with a sigh and took the water from her. "Thanks."
"Sure," she replied.
"Where is everyone?" I asked, noting the distinct lack of friends at my wounded bedside.
She shook her head. "I told you, you scared Giles half to death and they thought he was having a heart attack. He was down in the ER but they're releasing him now."
"What?" I asked, immediately starting to panic. My heart machine was beeping really fast suddenly.
Faith looked at it and nodded. "He's fine. Calm down, we don't need you having a heart attack."
I nodded and did my best to calm my breathing which calmed my heart rate down to a normal-for slayers-105.
Faith took a seat in the chair next to the bed and busied herself playing with a ring on my right hand. "So…"
"Good fight," I told her.
She looked up and grinned. "Hell yeah. We beat some demon ass in that one."
"I didn't think we were going to make it," I told her honestly. "There were so many of them."
"That was some scary shit, that's for sure," she told me as she suddenly reached over and grasped my hand. We both tried to ignore my heart monitor when the beeping increased as soon as she touched me.
"I'm glad you're okay," she told me.
"You too," I replied with a smile.
She grinned and that single act was enough to change our entire existence together. It all changed after that day.
It wasn't hard to remember the way that Faith smiled. Or the way she had the smallest hint of a dimple with every word she spoke. It wasn't hard to remember the way she smelled. The scent of cigarette smoke and leather mixed with something entirely Faith. It really wasn't difficult at all to remember anything at all about Faith. She had that kind of presence that stayed with you after she was gone. Long after she was gone.
"So how does it look?" Xander asked, effectively halting my stream of thoughts.
I looked up at him standing in his tuxedo and I felt tears spring my eyes. "You look amazing, Xand."
He saw my tears and moved forward to pull me into a hug. "Are you sure you want to be here right now with me for this?"
I nodded my head; I needed to be strong for my friend right now. "Of course I want to be here for this."
He smiled. "So you're okay?"
"Of course," I lied with a smile.
"Good." He winked and turned to inspect himself in the mirror and it gave me a moment to catch my breath.
Xander's wedding was going to be amazing. He was marrying one of our slayers and she was so sweet and he was so in love. I really couldn't have been happier for my best friend.
"So when will she be coming?" I asked quietly. I couldn't help myself.
He turned and looked uncomfortable. "Wednesday."
"Two days." My heart suddenly skipped a beat. It was too soon.
"You're really sure you're okay with us inviting her?" he asked me.
I put on my bravest face and nodded. "Xander it's your wedding day, you should invite everyone that you want there."
He studied me carefully. "I appreciate the martyrdom, Buff, but I doubt she would have cared one way or the other."
"Faith loves you, she would of course care." I had to change the subject or things were going to get bad and quick.
He smiled a bit and nodded. "I know you two had a falling out I just want to make sure you're going to be okay."
"I promise everything will be fine." I only wished I actually believed that myself.
He grinned and turned back to the mirror so he could continue his tux fitting. "Great."
"So how are you?" Kennedy asked me later that day. She was the only one that knew what had really happened between Faith and me.
"Honestly?" I asked. "Terrible."
She sighed. "You know she's bringing Wood with her don't you?"
"That should make the pain complete," I told her. Suddenly the ache in my chest returned and I felt the urge to cry.
"Can I ask you something?" she asked me.
"Sure," I replied.
Kennedy hesitated for a moment. "If you had the chance to have a do-over with Faith now, would you try to make it work with her?"
I thought for a moment. "I wouldn't redo what's been done because if I went back, I'd make the same decision. I wasn't ready to be with her." I paused and sighed. "But I will tell you that if she walked in the door right now and told me she loved me, I would commit to her for the rest of my life."
"She told me in Sunnydale that she'd always been in love with you," she told me. She caught my look and shrugged. "Look, I know you wish that night hadn't happened, but it must have been worse for her."
"I think it's safe to say that it's been bad for both of us," I told her.
"Both of who?" Willow asked as she entered the room.
"Buffy and Faith," Kennedy answered with a smirk. Brat. She wanted me to tell Willow everything; I wasn't quite ready.
"What about you?" she asked me.
I shook my head. "The whole falling out thing."
She looked at me with suspicious eyes. "I promise I'll get the whole story out of you one day."
"One day," I promised and stood up. "I'm gonna head home. I'll see you guys later."
"Later," Kennedy replied.
My best friend's eyes were on me as I left and I knew she'd grill me about things at some point, but she knew that now wasn't the time.
We were seated with our legs dangling in the pool on a warm California night. The battle with the First had been over for weeks and we were settled in a few temporary houses set up by Angel. Willow, Kennedy, Dawn, Faith and myself had been living in one house and the rest of the gang was split up into the other two next door to us.
So Faith and I were seated side by side late one night. We'd both had a few too many drinks and we were laughing and talking like we'd never been able to. It was nice.
"So how are things with you and Robin?" I asked her with a roll of my eyes.
She made a face. "He's way clingy these days. Boy won't lay off."
"That's cause he loves you," I teased.
She rolled her eyes. "Whatever, B."
"He totally does," I told her. I hated him for it.
"Gotta get rid of the post fight twitches somehow," she told me with a wink.
"It's been far too long for me." That was the alcohol talking. That's what I get for going shot for shot with Faith.
"Really?" she asked with a smirk. I never talked about this stuff with her.
It was her turn to roll her eyes. "Oh."
"He saved our lives, Faith."
"Angel woulda done it too," she reminded me.
"I know." I somehow always found myself defending Spike when I was around Faith. I never did get the whole story about when she stopped being okay with him.
She shook her head. "I don't get what you saw in that guy. I know he saved us all but something about him just rubs me wrong."
"He got me." At least that's what he said.
She gave me a look. "He got you?"
"He said he did." I didn't know what to think anymore.
She shook her head. "He was a vamp. No way he got you. Me on the other hand, I get you."
"Oh yeah?" I laughed at that.
She slapped me. "Who better, B? I know how lonely it is and how awful it is to lead people to their deaths. I get it better than anyone else ever will."
"I guess you do."
"Course I do."
I looped my arm through hers and rested my head on her shoulder, simply content to just be near her. I felt her drop a kiss to the top of my head and in that moment I wondered if I could ever be happier.
A knock on my door pulled me from the memory and when I opened it I found Dawn on the other side.
"Hey," I greeted with a smile.
"Hi," she replied as she entered the apartment. "You almost ready to go? Willow and Jamie are downstairs waiting already."
I nodded and grabbed my jacket. "Just about."
"Think it'll be weird tomorrow when they come back?" she asked me as she rummaged through my fridge for a drink.
My heart skipped a beat. "Why would it be weird?"
"I don't know," she mumbled. "Isn't it always a little weird when friends come back after a long time? Plus Wood used to be my principal."
"That might be a little weird," I agreed with a smile. "But friends are like bicycles."
"You never forget how to ride them?" she asked with a strange look at me.
I frowned. "No, that's not right. What I meant to say was that you never forget how to be friends with old friends."
"That's nothing at all like bicycles," she told me with a laugh.
I shook my head. "I realize that now."
She shook her head and suddenly grew serious. "You're okay though, right?"
"Of course," I replied, not meeting her eyes. "Why wouldn't I be?"
"I mean with Faith coming back," she clarified. "I don't really know what happened, but it was bad."
"It was," I agreed, my voice shaking slightly. "But this visit isn't about me and Faith. It's about Xander and Jamie."
"You and Faith." She watched me carefully and I felt my cheeks warm under her stare and suddenly her expression changed. "Oh my God."
She smiled just a little. "You were in love with her. I can't believe I never realized it before now. Were you two together?"
"Dawn," I started. How was I going to talk my way out of this? "It's complicated."
"Don't tell me that it's complicated," she told me with a glare. "Tell me the truth."
"You want the truth?" I asked and she raised an eyebrow waiting for it. "Yes. I was in love with her. But we weren't together."
She sat silently for a long stretch of moments and finally her eyes turned confused. "Did she choose Wood over you?"
I smiled, knowing I was off the hook for now. "Like I said, complicated."
"But you're going to be okay while she's here, right?" she asked.
"I'll be fine, I promise," I told her with a smile. "Can we go?"
She nodded and headed for the door. I followed behind her a few steps wondering to myself how weird it would be to see them again. Probably weird and horribly painful…welcome to the life of a slayer.
I found myself in that place of complete and utter euphoria and I couldn't help but grin. Faith and I had gone out dancing and she was trying to get me to go shot for shot with her but I knew that would only lead to badness so I ended up giving her half my shots knowing she could handle it much better than I could.
So I was in that place were you're buzzing hard and you love everyone and everything and at the moment I was loving Faith. Though if I was honest with myself I had been loving Faith since the moment she arrived in Sunnydale I had just been too afraid to admit it.
I watched her dance and she was so in her element and so herself and when she closed her eyes I wanted to pull her close and kiss her. So I slid an arm around her and danced as close as I dared.
She grinned when she felt my hands on her and she opened her eyes enough to wink and then her arms wrapped around me and she pulled me close.
I closed my eyes and I could smell her perfume and I could feel the lightest sheen of sweat at the small of her back where my left hand had come to rest.
"You okay?" she asked as she pressed her lips to my ear.
I nodded and was sure I leaned in close before I responded. I had to be near her. "You have no idea how happy I am right now."
She gave me a little squeeze and I was expecting her to release me but she pulled me just a little closer to her. I could feel her heartbeat as we danced pressed together so tightly. I could feel her breath on my neck and I found my body reacting to it all.
I felt her pull away slightly and I frowned at the lack of contact and she met my gaze questioningly. "You sure you're okay with us being this close?"
I nodded happily and leaned in to kiss her cheek. "I promise this is more than okay."
She grinned and pulled me in tight again. "Good."
I watched from my apartment as Faith's black SUV pulled up in front of the building and she and Wood stepped out of the vehicle. I was glad that she had been the one driving. That meant that she hadn't relinquished total control to him…yet. She never let anyone drive that car. Well, except me. Smile.
When I took a moment to really look at her, she still took my breath away. Her hair was a bit longer and darker and she was dressed casually. She was definitely one of those people that only looked better the older they got.
I jumped slightly as a knock on my door startled me from my thoughts and I moved through the apartment to get it.
I opened my door to find Kennedy standing on the other side and she gave me a friendly smile. "Hey."
"Hi," I replied with a smile of my own.
She nodded her head down the hall. "They're here."
I swallowed hard and nodded. "Yeah."
"Willow and Xander are already down there," she told me. "And Dawn and Giles are on their way down now."
"Okay," I mumbled as I reached for my keys.
"You look nice," she noted with a knowing smile.
"Can we just go?" I asked impatiently. "I want to get this over with."
Kennedy tried to make small talk as we headed for the Council lobby, but I didn't hear a word of it over my heartbeat that seemed to go a million beats a minute. I had been dreading this day for months and it was finally here.
I felt her eyes on me as Kennedy and I approached but I didn't meet them. Instead my eyes found his and I had to resist the urge to punch his teeth in at the smirk he gave me. Instead I watched as Kennedy pulled Faith into a long hug. They laughed about something and I felt my heart drop when I saw her smile. That smile broke my heart.
Faith released Kennedy and Wood moved in to try to pull her into a hug as well but Kennedy turned back to me without even acknowledging he was there.
"No hug?" he asked, trying to play it off.
Kennedy shook her head and moved to stand by my side again. "Sorry, dude. I'm team Buffy."
I smiled a bit and tried not to notice the look on Willow's face. Instead I focused again on Wood who wasn't nearly as smug and he just smiled a bit uncomfortably. Then I made the mistake of looking at her. She was staring at me with those eyes and she looked confused and hurt and something I couldn't really even place. I held her gaze and tried desperately to not let her know how much her presence was affecting me.
"I gotta go," I mumbled. "I have class. See you guys later. Welcome back."
I turned and tried to exit as quickly as possible but heard slayer steps behind me approaching fast. I turned to tell Kennedy to go back, but was surprised to find Faith trailing me.
"B, wait up," she called.
I shook my head. "I have to go."
"Just wait, please?" she called again.
I stopped and closed my eyes, breathing through the pain that just her voice caused my heart. I missed her voice. "What, Faith?"
She stopped and stared at me for a moment. She opened her mouth for a moment to say something and instead sighed with a shake of her head. "It's good to see you. You look good. Well, great really."
"Yeah," I replied, my eyes on Wood who was watching us like a hawk. "You too." I shook my head and bit back tears. "I have to go."
"Yeah," she mumbled. "Okay. You'll be at Xander's later for drinks though, right?"
I nodded and she stood there for a moment longer. She looked like she was going to say something but shook her head a bit and turned back to Wood.
I stood rooted to the ground as I watched her walk away from me. Again. He caught my eye when Faith returned to him and smirked a bit when he slung an arm around her and led her upstairs.
Kennedy and Willow were huddled together and coming my way talking about something and I noticed Kennedy give me a little grin that I had to return and that's when I overheard Willow asking, "What did you mean by Team Buffy?"
"Will, I was just giving him a hard time," I heard her reply and I had to smile. She was a brat, but I liked having her on my team, that was for sure.
Xander pulled his door open and grinned. "Buff, come in, join the merriment!"
I grinned and kissed his cheek. "Merriment sounds good after this day."
As I entered the apartment I noticed that just about everyone had arrived already along with several of Jamie's friends. "I must be late. Sorry."
"You're a busy lady, don't apologize," Jamie told me as she appeared from the kitchen and pulled me into a hug. "Glad you could make it. My family got delayed overnight so it looks like it'll just be us."
"I like us so it's okay," I joked.
She laughed. "I like us too. Can I get you anything?"
I shook my head. "I'll get it."
"Champagne, wine and beer in the kitchen," she told me with a smile. "And the alcohol is all in the freezer."
I smiled warmly. I liked her. "Thanks."
She shot me a wink and continued further into the room to tend to her guests while I headed for the kitchen and the freezer. I usually didn't drink liquor but felt the night would probably warrant it so I took a shot of vodka and poured myself a drink before heading back out to the living room.
I looked around the room at all the familiar faces surrounding me and I realized that I'd never felt so uncomfortable in my life. The alcohol was helping.
"So how is New York going, Robin?" Giles asked him nearby.
He nodded. "Going well. Faith is a natural leader and the girls really look up to her there."
Kennedy met my gaze and made a face with a roll of her eyes. I grinned and took a seat on the couch next to Willow.
"She showed great promise in Sunnydale, it's no wonder," Giles replied.
Kennedy sat up a bit and leaned in closer to the rest of us sitting around the large coffee table. "Faith, can I ask you a personal question?"
Faith looked at her suspiciously. "Okay."
Kennedy smirked. "Who does it better, guys or girls?"
"What?" Faith asked looking a little surprised.
"Guys or girls?" Kennedy asked again. "I'm a gold star, so I can't say."
"Ask your girlfriend," Faith mumbled.
Kennedy smirked. "I already know her answer."
"Feel free to leave me out of this one," Willow commented with a slightly embarrassed smile.
Kennedy laughed and turned her focus back on Faith. "Seriously, Faith."
Faith squirmed a bit and it made me smile. "No comment." She smiled tightly as Robin sat down next to her.
Kennedy wasn't going to let it go that easy. "Come on, it's just your opinion."
Faith was beginning to look annoyed. "Ken, this is stupid."
"I don't think it's stupid," I said sitting up a bit straighter.
"It's completely stupid," Wood piped up.
"I was just curious, we're all friends here," Kennedy told them with an innocent smile. She caught my eye and winked discreetly. I tried not to laugh.
"Right," Faith mumbled as she looked between me and Kennedy. I couldn't meet her eyes in that moment.
"We talk about sex all the time, this shouldn't be weird," Kennedy told them acting as if her questions were completely innocent.
"Girls," Faith suddenly replied, surprising everyone. She refused to look at him.
Kennedy grinned and caught my eyes for a second before turning her attention to Faith again. "Really?"
"What's your opinion, Buffy?" Wood suddenly asked, looking at me evenly.
I narrowed my eyes a bit. "I wouldn't know."
He slid an arm around Faith and smirked, still holding my gaze. "So you've never been with a woman?"
I swallowed and my jaw clenched, my eyes never leaving his. "No."
He nodded slowly, a smug look in his eye. "I don't know why I thought you had."
I laughed a second later when Faith nudged him, not so subtly, in the ribs. I turned my eyes back to his. "What's it like being with a woman that could kick your ass without breaking a sweat?" I grinned wider. "Ever feel inadequate?"
His jaw clenched ever so slightly. "Of course not."
Out of the corner of my eye I could see several people looking at me, including Kennedy who was grinning. I tried not to smile. "I need another drink."
Once I was in the kitchen alone I let out a heavy sigh and leaned against the counter.
"I don't think I like him," Jamie announced as she entered the kitchen behind me.
"Who?" I asked her, turning towards her.
"Robin," she replied with a smile as she went about getting several drinks refreshed.
I had to smile. "Why not?"
She shrugged. "Something about him just bugs me."
I laughed and reached into the freezer for the vodka. "A lot of things about him bug me so join the club"
She smiled and picked up her drinks again and smiled warmly at me. "Maybe I'm just team Buffy too."
I stood totally stunned. How could she possibly know? "How?"
Jamie shrugged a shoulder. "Xander mentioned the ‘team Buffy' thing but only because he was trying to figure out what it meant. Anyone that really wants to see it, can see it between you two."
I blushed a bit and smiled. "I knew I liked you."
She nodded and grinned. "Ditto."
I made my way back into the room and I managed to find something to clink against my glass. Once I had everyone's attention I turned to the happy couple and smiled warmly at how happy they were. I caught her eyes for the briefest of moments and felt a twinge in my chest knowing we could have been that happy.
"I'd like to propose a toast," I told the room. "Xander is a man who loves with all his heart. He's strong and loyal and faithful to those he loves and has been nothing but the very best friend to me in the ten years I've known him. I've seen his love and his loss and his heart and his strength and to know that he's met a woman that makes him so undeniably happy warms my heart in a way I never thought possible. Jamie, you are an amazing woman and to come in and fit right in with this crazy family we have is a feat in and of itself and to know you is to love you. Thank you for making our Xander so happy. I wish you both nothing but a lifetime of love and happiness and may you live a long and charmed life together. Cheers."
I tried desperately not to meet her eyes as Xander and Jamie both pulled me into hugs but I couldn't help myself and when I saw her eyes watching me sadly I knew it would be a long time before I got her expression out of my head. It wasn't what I had been expecting and it certainly caught me off guard.
"Can I be honest with you about something?" I asked her quietly. I was on the end of her bed painting her toenails.
She looked up from her magazine and the way she looked took my breath away. She was dressed in nothing but a white wifebeater and black boy shorts and lounged across her bed she looked completely amazing. "Sure, what's up?"
I swallowed hard. "I just love how close we've gotten since the fight. Having you on my side again is probably one of the best things I can ever remember happening."
She smiled and tossed her magazine on the bedside table and sat up a bit. "Are you just messin' around? Cause that's one of the nicest things you've ever said to me."
I shook my head and scooted up the bed closer to her, making sure I settled myself so my leg was settled nearly on top of hers. I had to keep myself in contact with her. "I mean it, Faith."
"Back then was the biggest mistake I've ever made," she told me quietly and I reached out to place a hand on her arm. "Coming back to you was the easiest thing I've ever had to do. Well, the easiest hardest thing. Know what I mean?"
"I get it," I told her with a smile.
She grinned and reached out to grasp my hand that was on her arm and she started playing with my fingers and I felt my body react to her touch.
I shook my head and took in a deep breath, letting it out slowly. "That's not really all I wanted to say."
She looked up at me and smiled, giving me a nod to signal I should continue. "I'm probably screwing up one of the best friendships I've ever had by doing this because nobody else gets me like you do but I can't not say anything any more. I just can't."
She looked at me with worried eyes and that cute little crinkle between her eyebrows that she gets when she's worried. I wanted to kiss it to make it go away. I shook that thought from my head. "I've loved having us be friends but I don't think I can do it any more. Not like this."
Her hands instantly stopped their movements with my fingers and then she dropped my hand altogether. "What?"
I shook my head quickly. "No, that's not what I mean. I'm saying this all wrong."
I met her eyes and found that her walls had already been slammed down around her and she was looking at me with cold eyes. "Just say what you need to so you can go."
"I'm in love with you," I blurted out before I could stop myself.
Her mouth fell open a bit and she looked at me with confused eyes for several long moments. "What?"
"I'm in love with you," I repeated. "Like crazy I want to spend every waking moment with you and I wonder what you're thinking about and what you're doing in every moment I'm not spending with you. I smile just thinking about you and I want to bring you brownies in the middle of the night because I know you love them. I'm insanely in love with you and if you don't feel the same way I don't know what I'm going to do with myself."
She sat silently for a moment, just looking at me and she finally blinked several times and those worry lines appeared again. "Are you screwin' with me right now?"
I shook my head. "I'd never do that to you."
"So you're really in love with me?" she asked quietly.
She nodded her head once and sat up in bed a bit straighter. She held out a hand to me and I reached out and slid my hand into her warm palm, loving the way her fingers wrapped around mine. She pulled me closer to her and I suddenly found myself straddling her thighs as one of her hands wrapped itself in my hair and the other pulled me impossibly close. I was nearly breathless.
She pulled me in ever so closer to her and as our lips were a breath apart she whispered that she loved me too and then she kissed me.
I limped gingerly through the lobby of the Council holding my side with one hand and trying desperately not to draw any attention to myself. I didn't want anyone to know how badly I was hurt. That's what I get for drinking and slaying. Damn Faith for coming back and breaking my heart all over again.
"B, you okay?"
Of course. With my luck, she would be the one to find me like this. Drunk and dirty and hurt. It's no wonder she doesn't want me. I'm a mess.
"I'm fine," I mumbled, not even looking at her.
"Buffy, what happened?" Willow called as she rounded the corner with Kennedy and Xander at her side. Wonderful. Everyone was here to witness my pain.
"I went slaying," I told them. The less they knew the better. I made the mistake of sighing heavily and winced at the pain in my ribs.
"Broken ribs?" Faith asked. She smiled a bit as she pulled what looked like a worm out of my hair.
"Amongst other things," I replied sullenly. I was in the mood to pout.
She approached me slowly and that smile spread on her lips that she only seemed to get when I was in the mood to pout and it made my heart ache. "Let me see."
"No," I grumbled.
She smiled just a bit wider and reached down for the hem of my shirt. She was close enough that I could breathe her in and in my slightly drunken state it was nearly too much to bear. Her arm wrapped around me briefly when the alcohol caused me to sway a bit and I placed a hand on her arm for support and was instantly comforted by her warmth. I could feel her fingers on the skin of my belly and her touch was gentle as she pressed on my ribs. My head swam with the smell of her perfume and with the pain and with the alcohol.
She looked up and met my gaze when she heard me suck in a breath. "Definitely broken."
"Yeah," I agreed quietly.
"What the hell is this?"
I looked up and saw Robin standing at the top of the stairs watching Faith with her hands on me. I smiled smugly when he met my eyes. The alcohol wasn't helping with that side of me either. I opened my mouth to tell him how I really felt but was rudely interrupted by Faith.
"B broke some ribs slayin' and I was just checkin' it out," she told him with a casual shrug as she straightened up. My hand fell from her arm and I felt cold again.
He nodded slowly and kept his eyes on me as he descended the steps slowly and he held my gaze until he reached Faith's side and kissed her.
"Something you wanted to add?" he asked in that condescending tone of his.
I ignored him and met my friends' worried eyes. "I'm gonna go up to my place and take care of these."
"You sure you're okay, B?" Faith asked looking genuinely concerned. She reached out and placed a hand on my forearm.
I nodded and placed a hand on hers. Warm. "I'll be fine."
"Buffy's a big girl, Faith, she can handle herself," Wood told her, his eyes on our hands.
"I don't think anyone was talking to you, Wood," I told him with a glare.
"You know, I've really tried to be nice to you since we've been back," he told me quietly.
"I'm sorry, were you expecting an award?" I asked him snidely. He didn't respond so I turned away from them all. "I need to take care of my ribs."
"You need some help with the tape?" Faith asked.
"I'll be fine," I grumbled. "Besides, your boyfriend's eyes are looking a bit green." I saw her jaw clench before I turned and began to walk away.
"You had your chance with her, Buffy," he called out, causing me to stop dead. Did he really just say that? Out Loud? So everyone in the lobby could hear him? "And you blew it. She moved on. Deal with it."
I turned back towards him and ignored the looks my friends were giving me. I guess he did. "You're an ass, but you're also an idiot if you think she's moved on."
"I don't know, last night she seemed pretty moved on," he told me with a smug grin. I really wanted to hit him.
"You had your chance with her?" Willow asked, looking at me with confused eyes.
"Were you two together?" Xander asked looking equally confused.
I met Faith's eyes and held her gaze for a long stretch of moments. "Almost."
"Almost?" Willow asked looking shocked.
"Why don't you tell them the story, B?" Faith asked, her voice almost defiant.
"Gladly," I shot back, totally calling her bluff. I looked around at the confused faces of my friends and family and I took in a deep breath, wincing again. "You guys know how close Faith and I were before she left. We'd gotten over our past and things were really good between us. Then our relationship changed and it moved beyond friendship. I fell in love with her."
I head a gasp from Willow and I met Faith's eyes. "And the feeling was entirely mutual." I paused to catch my breath. The pain was only getting worse in my side. "I've never felt like I did with her. Not Angel or Spike or anyone else. I was completely in love and it scared me to death so I pushed her away."
"You completely shut me out," Faith told me quietly.
"So what did Faith do?" I asked bitterly, holding her gaze with angry eyes. "She goes out and finds the first girl she can and brings her home and sleeps with her. Like I meant nothing."
"You meant everything!" Faith replied angrily.
"So much that you threw it all away on some sorority girl?" I asked her, my voice rising with every breath.
"You didn't want me," she mumbled, her eyes falling to the floor. "I went out and found someone that did."
"Of course I wanted you," I told her quietly. "All I wanted was you."
"We could have been forever," she whispered.
"I was terrified," I said, moving a step closer to her.
She met my gaze again. "You don't think I was scared? It didn't matter. It was you and me. The Chosen Two."
"We should have been forever," I whispered as tears sprang to my eyes.
"You had your chance," Wood mumbled to me.
His voice broke the trance Faith's eyes had me in and I looked up at him. "I screwed it all up, I know. But you should know that you'll never have what I had with her. No one will ever have what we had."
With that, I turned and walked away as quickly as I could with my injuries.
I slammed the medicine cabinet closed and winced at the movement. I hated broken ribs.
A knock at my door had me rolling my eyes and sighing. I knew it would probably be Willow or Xander wondering what the hell that was downstairs. I was surprised when I opened the door and found Kennedy standing there.
"I figured you didn't need all the questions with that pain," she told me leaning against the doorframe.
"Thank you," I told her with a sigh of relief.
"Want some help?" she asked, taking the tape from me and heading for the kitchen.
"Please," I told her with a nod.
She headed for the fridge and grabbed a few beers and handed me one before popping the top off hers and taking a long drink. "That was quite a show down there. You okay?"
"Every time I see him I want to punch his teeth in," I mumbled as I took a drink of my beer.
"He can definitely be a dick," she agreed. "Off with the shirt."
I set my beer on the counter and moved to pull my shirt over my head. The pain in my side was enough that I needed Kennedy's help and a moment later she was taping my ribs up and I was trying not to cry. The heartache was too much.
Kennedy saw my face and frowned. "It's not too late."
I laughed briefly but sucked in a pained breath. "It's entirely too late."
"Buffy, it's not." She shook her head. "I saw the way she was looking at you and the way she was touching you before he got there and interrupted. She definitely still loves you."
I shook my head. "I can't even entertain that thought right now."
"Why not?" she asked me.
"It hurts way too much," I replied.
"Doesn't make it any less true," she told me with a shrug.
"I'd make her my life if she let me," I mumbled. "But she won't now. She's moved on."
"Faith is with him for now, but don't mistake that for moving on," she said.
I sucked in a pained breath when she hit a particularly painful spot on my side. "How can you be so sure?"
"I could see it in her eyes," she told me. "Look, just keep fighting for her and eventually you're going to win."
"You really think so?" I couldn't help myself.
"Definitely." She smiled and set the tape down on the counter. "All done."
"Thanks, Ken," I told her with a smile. "For everything."
She grinned wider and nodded, picking up my tee shirt. "Arms up, Captain. I'll give you a hand."
"Hey," I called out quietly as I approached her. I couldn't sleep without at least resolving something with her.
She looked up and smiled. "Hey. How ya feeling?"
I shrugged. "Sore, but it's not too bad now."
I nodded. "So, I'm sorry about all that earlier."
"Me too." She looked up at me and grinned. I knew all was forgiven. "How'd ya find me?"
I smiled. "Slayer sense. I can always feel you."
I took a seat next to her, close enough that our arms barely touched. I was always warmed by even the slightest contact between us. "Is it weird that it's only you I feel?"
"Chosen Two." Like that explained everything. It only left me feeling more confused.
"I guess." I sat silently beside her, content to just be in her presence again. "I'm sorry."
"For what?" she asked quietly. I felt her move slightly farther away from me.
Now or never. "Not being ready. To be with you."
She turned her head to look at me for a long stretch of moments and when I didn't meet her gaze she shook her head. "Don't apologize for that."
"Why?" she asked, still looking at me.
I still couldn't' meet her gaze. I swallowed hard. "Because you're with him and I hate him for it and I shouldn't hate him because he loves you."
"Why would you hate him for loving me?" she asked quietly, her eyes falling to the ground between us. She had moved far enough away that I couldn't feel her warmth any more.
"Because I love you too." I admitted softly.
I saw her shake her head. "Don't say that. Not again."
She sighed. "Just because."
I finally met her eyes. "But it's true, Faith. I've thought about you every day since you left and if I could go back and make it right, I would. In an instant."
She shook her head. "That's not fair, Buffy! I wanted everything with you and I was ready to give you anything you wanted from me. You can't be ready now."
"But I am." I shrugged. It was that simple.
"How do I know you won't freeze up and shut me out again?" she asked.
"Because I'm ready this time," I pleaded with her. "I'm not cookie dough anymore."
"What the hell does that even mean?" she asked. She didn't sound angry…more frustrated I guess.
"Nothing," I replied quietly, defeat evident in my voice.
She shook her head. "I found someone who was ready when I was."
"Wood?" I asked with a humorless laugh.
I sighed and stood up. I looked down at her and met her eyes. "Faith, I love you. And I know that deep down you love me too and if you were really honest with yourself you would just admit it. Please just admit it. We're destined. You know it and I know it."
"I'm sorry, Buffy." She met my eyes and it broke my heart. "I can't."
I felt the tears threaten and with a nod I turned and ran as fast as my legs would carry me back to my apartment where I could cry myself to sleep with the knowledge that I would never again have her.
Panic was a feeling that I had been nearly married to in Sunnydale…especially near the end. I woke in the middle of the night in cold sweats with my heart thudding in my brain wondering how I was going to get a bunch of little girls not dead. Panic became the norm to the point that when I didn't feel it and the accompanying feeling of dread I was left wondering if there was something wrong with me.
So when I woke up in Faith's bed with her wrapped securely around me I was almost comforted with the feeling of panic that gripped me the moment I opened my eyes and realized where I was.
I was cookie dough. I wasn't ready for this. I should have kept my mouth shut. Faith's going to hate me. I hate me. What am I going to do? Can I pretend I was really drunk and don't remember telling her that I love her? Can I really go on without her ever not kissing me again? One kiss…okay seventeen kisses…and I'm feeling like a lovesick teenager again. Only right now the ‘sick' is stronger than the ‘love'. Okay that's not true. I love her. Of course I love her, but I'm cookie dough. I'm not ready for this yet. I can't do this. I need to pee.
I felt her stir and I was sure my erratic heartbeat was waking her. She was probably worried I was having another cardiac episode similar to the one in the hospital that day. She pulled me closer to her and I fought the urge to flee. I couldn't do that to her.
"B?" she mumbled. Her sleepy voice caused my heart to skip a beat. My body was certainly not cookie dough when it came to her. Just my stupid slayer brain apparently.
"Hey," I whispered, not trusting my voice.
This was going to be bad…
"Hey," Kennedy called out as she jogged to catch up with me.
I smiled…or tried to. "Hey."
"Where have you been? I've been looking everywhere for you," she told me as she fell into step with me.
I shrugged and sighed. "I've been low profile girl so I don't run into her."
"That's what I figured," she told me with a shrug. "You okay?"
I shook my head. "Not really."
"What's up? Woody still being an ass?" she asked.
"I talked to Faith last night and told her to just admit that we're destined," I admitted softly. "I told her to pick me."
"I'm guessing by the lack of enthusiasm that she didn't?" she asked gently.
I shook my head. "She picked him."
Kennedy frowned and sighed heavily. "Maybe she just feels like she owes it to him to try to make it work with him. People do that stuff all the time. It's honorable or whatever."
"It doesn't really matter," I told her with a sigh. "It's over."
"I'm really sorry," she told me. "You two are destined in my opinion."
"That's what I told her!" I exclaimed.
Kennedy smiled. "You'll be okay."
"Not without her I won't be," I mumbled.
She remained silent until the elevator stopped on the floor with our classrooms. "Bachelor/bachelorette thing tonight. You're going, right?" she asked.
"I told Xander I would be there," I mumbled. "Jamie too."
"Have you talked to Will or Xander yet?" she asked as we headed down the hall.
I shook my head. "Xander's been busy so I haven't seen him. Will and I talked for a few minutes about it last night, but that's it."
"Was she pissed you never told her?" she asked.
I shook my head. "No. Hurt is probably a better word. She's my best friend and I kept something huge from her."
Kennedy nodded and we stopped in front of my classroom. "I'm glad she knows. This whole thing was hard for me to keep from her too."
I hadn't really thought about that. "She wasn't mad at you, was she?"
She shook her head with a bit of a grin. "No. You asked me to keep this to myself and I did. In the end I think it's all just shown her how trustworthy I can be. I think I actually got points on this one."
I laughed. "Either way, thanks for everything."
She shrugged. "No problem."
"I'll see ya later," I told her, nodding towards my class.
"Yeah," she agreed. "I'll buy ya a lap dance from some hottie tonight who'll make you forget all about Faith."
"As long as there's vodka," I told her with a smile. The plan was to get very drunk.
"Oh don't worry, I'll take good care of you," she replied with a smile. "Later."
As horrible as I felt, I felt better knowing that I had someone on my side.
I downed another shot of vodka hoping it would be the one to dull the ache in my chest and I tried desperately to ignore them both.
"You gonna sit over here all night?" Kennedy asked as she took a seat next to me at the bar.
I downed another shot and shrugged. "If it means I don't have to look at her looking like that all night, then yes."
"She does good tonight," Kennedy agreed before ordering us more drinks.
I shot her a look. "You're not supposed to say that."
"I'm sorry," she told me. "She looks awful. Have another shot."
"That's better," I told her.
We took our shots and she grabbed my hand and pulled me from my seat. "Come on, I'm buying you a lap dance."
"Seriously?" I asked, not really that excited about it.
She nodded with a grin and wandered off to find a suitable girl leaving me at the table to fend for myself. Willow and Jamie were laughing at Xander trying desperately not to blush as a girl danced half naked on top of him and Faith and Wood appeared to be arguing about something. That certainly caught my attention.
I found myself focusing my senses to see if I could pick up on any of their conversation and I managed to pick up a few words that sounded like ‘feelings', ‘past' and ‘love'. I stopped listening when Kennedy returned with a dancer and she grinned when I took a shot from the tray on the table and leaned back in my chair as the girl started dancing.
She was pretty enough. Brunette and toned. I honestly found myself paying more attention to Faith who was watching me with amused eyes. She knew how much I hated strip clubs and the whole idea of people stripping for money and she must have found the entire situation rather humorous.
My eyes landed on him and I found that he was watching Faith watch me and he didn't look happy. That at least made me smile. I didn't understand why he was being a jerk. She picked him. If she had picked me, I certainly would have been excited. And I certainly wouldn't be in a strip club. I'd be at home with her on…we'll stop that drunken train of thought before I say anything. It was going to be a long night.
"He's such an ass," I mumbled to Kennedy as she struggled to get me to my apartment. I was a bit drunk.
"I know," she agreed.
I nodded. "It's not fair."
"I know," she repeated.
"I love her," I whispered.
Kennedy stopped and propped me up against the wall outside my apartment. "Buff, I'm really sorry you're hurting about this. He totally sucks, but in my opinion she sucks just as much for staying with him."
"Yeah," I agreed with a nod.
She smiled and unlocked my door and grabbed me again. "Come on."
"She should have waited," I told her as I stumbled through the door. "Isn't that what people do in these situations? Wait for the ones they love if they're not quite ready? I told her I was cookie dough."
"She's not the most patient person I know," Kennedy replied with a shrug as she set me down on the couch.
"We're not talking about not waiting for her hot pockets to cool off before she eats them so she won't burn her mouth," I mumbled. "We're talking about true love and soul mates. Can she not be a bit patient for something this huge?"
"I'm sure baring her soul like that to you was hard for her," Kennedy reasoned. "And I'm sure that left her feeling vulnerable and when she was rejected she needed to feel like she was loved and he loved her."
"That makes me feel worse," I told her.
"I'm sorry," she replied and handed me a bottle of water. "But you hurt her and maybe on some level this is her hurting you back. I wouldn't count on it being forever."
"Well she should get over it," I replied. "Cause maybe I won't wait around."
"What happened to soul mates and waiting forever?" she asked with a grin.
"Well, we all know I'm not the most patient slayer under the sun," I mumbled.
"Something tells me you won't have to wait long," she told me with a shrug.
"Why is that?" I asked.
She smiled and stood up. "Because you and Faith may not believe in it right now, but I do believe in soul mates and the fact that you two are soul mates. You're destined. It won't be long before she gets it."
"I hope you're right," I told her with a sad smile.
"Me too," she replied. "Drink that water before you pass out and I'll see you tomorrow."
"Thanks, Ken," I said with a smile.
She grinned. "Anytime."
I grabbed my cell phone once I head the front door close and stared at it for a moment as I made my mind up. I had to try one last time to let her know that this time was the right time for us. I keyed in my message and stared at the screen for a moment, the small screen illuminating the space around me. I debated for a minute and I finally let out a deep sigh and hit send.
"It's not like it's going to hurt anyting."
If forever is how long it takes for you to come back to me, then that's how long I'll wait. xoxo
Envy was another one of those feelings that I had been married to. Only Envy mostly followed me around in high school. I was envious that Willow and Xander had such a good friendship. I was envious of Cordelia for having legs for days and being normal. I was envious of Faith for getting to be the bad one sometimes leaving all the responsibility for me. I was envious of my classmates for their ignorance.
On that night, however, I was envious of the bringers for their lack of eyesight. Because if I could have not seen what I saw, I would have been much better off.
I had her favorite beer. I got take-out from her favorite restaurant. I got several of her favorite movies and I was headed to her place for some serious apologies for acting the way I'd been acting.
I felt rather proud of myself for being a grown up and taking responsibility for my feelings…even if I was being responsible for them about two weeks later. Honestly I was feeling terrible about the way I'd been with Faith. I was ignoring her and being rude and pushing her away and I found that after two weeks away from her that I really missed her.
Kennedy grinned when she saw me heading to Faith's apartment, which was next to hers and she stopped in her doorway. "Does this mean you guys are okay?"
I shrugged. "I'm hoping after all this we will be again."
She nodded. "Good, cause I know she's been pretty down since you guys stopped hanging out all the time like you used to."
I smiled and slid my keys out of my pocket and found Faith's key and turned the lock. When I opened the door I frowned because I was picking up on a lot of things that worried me. I could smell at least three different types of liquor so I knew she was drunk. I could also sense something else that I wasn't sure about and it had me very uneasy.
I dropped my bags on the table in the kitchen and moved through the apartment and that's when I started picking up on sounds from the bedroom. I tried to ignore the panic that was creeping up inside me with every step I took towards the back of the apartment but as soon as I crossed the threshold of the room, it blew through me like a hurricane.
"Faith?" I whispered.
She stopped her movements on the bed and looked up at me with glassy eyes. The girl next to her caught sight of me then and did her best to cover up.
"Who the hell are you?" the blonde asked as she sat up in bed and began pulling her clothes on.
"Obviously I'm no one," I whispered as I kept my eyes on Faith and I hated how her face scrunched up and tears welled in her eyes.
Neither of us moved as the blonde ran past me on her way out and Faith did nothing but sit up in bed and try to get dressed once she was gone.
"You say you love me and you're sleeping with some 19 year old?" I asked her. I felt numb. There were so many emotions swirling in my brain that they simply all turned to one. Numbness.
"You haven't even looked at me since you said it to me," she whispered.
I shook my head. "No. You don't get to play that card. You're sleeping with someone else!"
Faith finished getting dressed and got out of bed, moving to the kitchen to pour herself a drink. "You've done nothing but push me away since that night."
"I just needed time to think," I told her angrily. She was not about to turn this around on me.
"What is there to think about?" she yelled. She downed her drink in one shot and poured another. "You said you loved me!"
"You obviously don't think it means much," I told her, my voice rising, "if you sleep with the first girl you could find to bring home!"
Faith finished her drink and threw the bottle against the wall. "You told me you loved me then shut me out. I figured that meant you regretted it."
"You need to calm down," I told her as I gazed at the broken glass and alcohol pooling on the kitchen floor.
"Screw you, B," she told me.
"Are you guys okay?"
Kennedy's voice shook us both from the trance we both seemed to be under and in that moment the fog seemed to lift over me and I gave Faith one last look. "I just needed a little time and you obviously couldn't handle that. If tonight doesn't go down as the biggest mistake you ever made with me, then you never really loved me at all."
"Can I cut in?"
Her voice was enough to make me want to cry again but I knew that since the ceremony was over she was probably just saying her good-byes.
"Sure," Xander replied with an easy smile as he released me and headed for his wife who was nearby dancing with Andrew.
"Come to say goodbye?" I asked without meeting her eyes.
I nodded. "Come to tell me again that you're choosing him over me?"
Another nod. "Come to rub it in again that I made the biggest mistake of my life when I let you walk away two years ago?"
I finally met her eyes and I found myself getting angry when she was smiling. "Will you stop saying no and tell me what it is you want so I can stop making an idiot of myself?" I shot her a look. "And don't say no."
She smiled wider and my eyes fell to her lips. "I came to tell you that you were right."
"What?" That had my full attention.
"You were right."
"About what?" I asked softly.
I heard her take in a breath. "If I'm totally honest with myself I know it's not him that I'm in love with. It's you. It's always been you."
I met her gaze evenly with a frown. "That's not funny. I don't want to cry right here on the dance floor in the middle of everyone."
"Will you shut up for a second?" she asked me with a grin.
She smiled and shook her head. "B, I told Robin after the ceremony that it was over."
"What?" I know. I'm nothing if eloquent.
She swallowed hard and shrugged a shoulder, pulling me closer to her. "I told him that I'm still in love with you and I've always been in love with you."
"What?" I had to be sure. Absolutely sure.
"Don't say what again," she told me with a smile.
She pulled me close so her cheek met mine. "The point is, all I've been doing for the last two years is waiting for you to tell me that you're ready. It's all I've ever wanted to hear. I would have waited forever."
"Are you being serious right now?" I asked as I pulled back and met her eyes.
She nodded. "B, if you meant what you said last night then I want you to do something for me. Did you mean it?"
"I meant it."
"Good." She pulled me close again and her lips brushed my ear as she spoke quietly to me. "Then I want you to close your eyes and just take in the everything around you."
As she pulled me in I was suddenly overwhelmed with her presence. I turned my face into the crook of her neck as I closed my eyes so I could breathe her in.
Her lips brushed against my cheek in a chaste kiss. "Listen to the way Xander's feet are shuffling across the floor as he dances with his wife. Listen to the sound of Willow's laughter at Ken's stupid joke. Listen to Giles trying to pick up Jamie's aunt at the punch bowl. Breathe in the roses and the lilies that Jamie has all over this place. Breathe me in like I'm breathing you in right now. Savor in this moment right now because 70 years from now we'll be telling all the little grandkids all of us will have about how this is the moment our lives changed and we succumbed to forever. And believe me when I say you'll want to remember all the details."
My knees literally went weak at the emotion in her voice and how overwhelmed I was by her presence and her promise of forever. Faith held me close until the wave of emotions crashed over me and I was able to breathe again.
I pulled back. "Are you really seriously picking me right now?"
She leaned in and kissed me gently. "It was never a choice."
My senses all sharpened as I found myself waking up slowly and I was keenly aware of a slender arm wrapped tightly around me and I smiled when a wave of panic didn't crash over me. Instead I was encompassed by a warmth that settled in my chest, replacing the dull ache that had been there for days, and I focused on her deep, steady breathing and how her breath tickled the back of my neck. I sighed happily and snuggled myself deeper into her embrace.
She stirred slightly against me and all I could do was simply breathe in the moment with her. I smiled wider when I felt her lips press against the back of my neck and I heard her laugh, a gravely, sleepy laugh when my body shuddered under her lips.
"Guess you're awake?" I whispered.
Her lips found my neck again and she nodded against my skin. "Are you freaking out again?"
I shook my head and rolled over on my back and pulled her into me. "Not at all. This feels way too right for me to ever freak about it."
She grinned and I leaned in to kiss her. "Good."
She propped herself up on her elbow so she could lean in over me and she kissed me gently. I wrapped my arms around her middle and pulled her down so her weight was settled on top of me fully.
My hands wrapped into her hair and I pulled her down into a searing kiss. It felt so right with her. My heart was thudding in my chest and my entire body was humming.
"I love you so much," I told her quietly as I rested my hand on her chest and felt her heart beating just as rapidly as mine was.
"Love you too, B,' she whispered with a smile.
We remained silent for a few minutes and I was so content to just be near her again. "You're not going back to New York are you?" I asked her quietly.
She studied me carefully for a moment. "Are you sure you're ready for me to be here? For good?"
I nodded and leaned in to kiss her neck. "I don't want us to be apart again."
She smiled a little. "Then I'm staying here with you."
She nodded. "Vi can take over the branch up there. She was a good second in command so the girls will be fine."
"Good," I replied softly.
"I'll get Wood to send my stuff," she mumbled. She smiled down at me for a moment and leaned in for a kiss. "You're stuck with me now."
"Good," I told her with a wide smile.
She rolled her eyes and grinned, leaning in to kiss me. "Knock it off."
"You love it," I told her grinning madly. Damn I loved her.
"I love you."
I smiled, knowing my life was now complete. "I love you too."