Buffy looked at me, all curious. "Why do you want to know about Adam?"
"Oh, I was just thinking about him, and what he's doing to the vamps around here."
Well, that part wasn't a lie, at least.
She nodded. "Well, he was some sort of demon/human/machine hybrid that the
Initiative created. Only, now he's completely out of control." She sighed. "I
only fought him once before, but he's tough. Really tough."
"You couldn't take him down?"
"Nope. He acted like he didn't even notice I was there... I've never fought
anything like that before," she admitted.
"But he's got a weakness or something, right? I mean, everyone has a weakness."
She just shrugged. "If he does, we don't know it."
That wasn't exactly what I wanted to hear, right then.
Once again, I have to ask:
What the fuck was I doing?
I knew that what that goddamn vamp said was right -- or, at least, it was
right. I didn't enjoy Slaying because of any righteous thrill, or smug knowledge
that I was doing the 'right thing.' I loved it because it was excitement, a challenge.
Winning and losing. And until B came along, I was all about winning.
She beat me. She was the only one to put me down.
I looked over to where she slept, red and black blankets pulled up around her
shoulders. We had come back to my place, and made love until we fell asleep. Well,
until she fell asleep; I had too much on my mind, and even Buffy couldn't really
quiet the thoughts I was having.
So I got up, pulled on a sweatshirt and some boxers, and just sat, staring into
I thought about that chick in the alley outside the Bronze. The one I saved from
being vamped. That look in her eyes, when she thanked me -- it had been a long time
since the last time I saw it. When you're going around killing people for the Mayor,
they just don't give you that same look. The look they gave was fear; fear was almost
as good, to be honest. But gratitude, their honest get-down-on-their-knees thankfulness
that you are who you are and you decided to save their lives -- that was something
I decided I liked it.
But did I like it enough?
"Faith?" I heard B's soft, sleepy voice from the direction of the bed. "Everything
"Yeah. Yeah, everything's fine. Just couldn't sleep."
"Ok..." Her voice was drifting off now. "Love you..."
"I love you too."
Ah hell. I really did love her. But, shit, that 'second best' comment really
tore at me, just like that fuckin' vamp knew it would. I wasn't built to be second
best, not to anyone. Not even Buffy.
"You mind if I borrow a pair of jeans?" B was getting ready for class, and I was
laying in bed, half-asleep. It took me a long time to get to sleep last night and
I was still pretty wiped.
"Go for it," I said, opening an eyelid carefully. "You'll need a belt." Even
though I liked my jeans tight, B was a size or two smaller than me, and they'd be
a little baggy on her.
"Thanks." She finished getting dressed, pulling on her socks and shoes.
"You should just leave some of your clothes over here," I said, before I even
realized what the hell I was saying.
She looked over at me, kinda surprised. "You wouldn't mind?"
Would I mind, ah hell. I wouldn't mind if she brought all her clothes, and stayed
with me for the rest of my fuckin' life. "Nah. I mean, if you don't."
B just smiled, and leaned over to give me a kiss. "I don't." She grabbed her
jacket. "I've got classes all day; want to meet me tonight, at the dorm? We can
grab some dinner or something."
"Sounds like a plan," I mumbled, and went back to sleep.
I had to find something better to do with my afternoons, I decided. Daytime TV
was really starting to piss me off, and you can only play video games for so long
before you start craving the real thing. So around dusk I cut through the graveyard
on my way to the campus to meet with B.
I had tried my best to avoid thinking about all the crap that had been going through
my mind lately; so, of course, life threw me a curve.
"Well, if it isn't our favorite Slayer." Of course, just my luck.
"Just fuck off, Vinnie, before I dust your ass," I snarled. My hand clenched
around the stake in my pocket.
He just looked amused. Pushed off of the tombstone he was leaning on, and came
walking over. "You think about my offer?"
"Why the fuck would I want to do that?"
"You disappoint me. I thought for sure you were a winner. Instead it looks like
you're just as happy trotting after your little bitch in heat."
I grabbed him, shoving the point of my stake against his chest. "No one fucking
talks about her like that," I said, gritting my teeth. I raised my stake to shove
it into his chest, and he didn't even blink.
"You're not going to do that."
"Why the hell not?" I said, and just as I was ready to shove the stake into his
chest, I felt it.
It was like getting hit by a truck, if a truck was the size of someone's fist.
It sent me flying to the left several feet, and I crashed against a tombstone, shoulder
first. Fuck, that hurt! Not even B ever hit me that hard.
I stumbled to my feet and saw Vinnie standing next to some bizarro demon/machine
thing which could only be Adam. The sucker must've stood about six and a half feet
tall, with muscles which could put Arnie to shame. He just looked at me, his head
cocked to the side a little, like a dog. Or a robot.
"You are Faith. The extra Slayer."
"Just a Slayer, asshole, there's nothing extra about me."
"You were an accident, activated upon the death of the Slayer Kendra, who was also
an accident." He spoke in a monotone, like he was reading all this from the goddamn
encyclopedia or something. Slayer, The. "After arriving in Sunnydale you turned
renegade and took orders from former Mayor Wilkins. You fought with your counterpart,
who put you in a coma with acute neural trauma and severe lacerations."
I glared at Vinnie. "You feed him all that?"
He just shrugged. "Some of it. You'd be surprised how many records the Initiative
had about this town." He walked toward me, totally cool like I didn't just try to
kill him. "Adam knows everything the Initiative does. They'll never catch him.
Neither can Buffy."
"Don't be too sure about that." My voice sounded hollow, even to myself. I was
never too convincing a liar.
Vinnie chuckled. "Adam can make sure that you're the only Slayer in Sunnydale,
if you get my meaning. No being second best, no having to live in the other Slayer's
shadow. I know how much that gets to you, Faith. I know how much it drives you nuts."
My jaw hurt from me clenching my teeth so hard. "I can't. I won't."
"Why, because you think you love her?" He laughed. "I remember you, Faith, and
your revolving bedroom door. She's just another fuck to you, and that's all you are
to her. Experienced. I bet you give a good ride." My fists were clenched now, but
I still didn't make a move. Not with Adam standing there a few feet away. "It will
never last between you two, anyway. How long do you think she'll be able to put up
with your shit, huh?"
I just shook my head. Somewhere in my head, that voice tried to tell me that he
was right. How many times have I tried to push Buffy away? Did I really think our
hormones would be enough to hold us together, with all the shit that has gone down
"Listen, you don't have to do anything. That's the beauty of it. Just bring her
here, and we'll do the rest. You'll be the Slayer here, just like you always wanted.
The only Slayer. The Chosen One. Sunnydale will be your town, like it was supposed
I didn't answer, I just closed my eyes. I heard movement, and I hoped it was Adam
coming up to rip my head from my shoulders. Put me out of my fucking misery. But
when I opened my eyes, both of them were gone.
"Are you feeling ok?" B asked me, all concerned about my welfare. Damn her.
"Yeah, I'm fine." I picked at my fries, not really hungry. I met up with B at
her dorm, and she wanted to go to this burger place for dinner, so here we were.
She frowned. "You don't look ok. Did anything happen this afternoon?"
I looked at her, and gave her a half-smile. "Nah, everything's cool. I'm just
not hungry. I ate a big lunch."
She seemed to accept that; either that, or she decided it would be best to change
the subject. "Will was pretty freaked out about her date tonight." She giggled.
"She and Tara look really cute together."
"Maybe we could all go out to dinner together some night? I'd like to get to know
She cocked an eyebrow at me. "Are you sure you're ok? Do you even want to go on
I stiffened a little, and looked at her. "Yeah. I'm fine. Five by five."
"Okay." She grabbed her wallet, and left a twenty on the table. "Ready when you
We walked through the graveyard, the same one where I met Vinnie earlier. I
Okay, Faith. Time to find out what you're made of.
"You hear something?" B asked, looking around at the shadows.
"Not sure," I said, feeling that prickling on the back of my neck, like there's a
knife headed right for it.
"Well, well. If it isn't the Slayer twins." I recognized Vinnie's voice
immediately. I should, by now. I looked around and three vampires came out of the
shadows, surrounding us.
I measured up all three vamps. Besides Vinnie, there was some biker looking creep
who dressed like a Hell's Angel wannabe, and a young punk who looked like he used to
be on Sunnydale High's football team. Geez, they must really be scraping the bottom
of vamp material since the boss left.
"Wow, that's really clever," Buffy said, sarcastically. "But if you wanted to
fight us, you should have brought a few more guys. We won't even break a sweat with
Vinnie just laughed. "We don't need more guys. Not when we have these." He and
the other two vampires pulled guns from their jackets, and leveled them at us.
Guns, hell. Those suckers were fuckin' hand cannons. At least, that's what it
looked like from the barrel end.
Vinnie smiled, all smug and shit. "I don't care what Slayer powers you have,
they won't stop a bullet."
He was right. I don't know why more vamps didn't think of it, to be honest.
"I have to thank you, Faith. You did a great job bringing the Slayer here. Guess
you decided to be on the winning side after all."
Buffy just looked at me...hurt, confused, betrayed...I don't have enough words to
describe that look. She stared at me, like she couldn't believe he was telling the
truth, but also couldn't believe he was lying.
It almost killed me. That's when I knew.
"Guess again, asshole," I snarled, and launched myself at the nearest vamp, Mr.
Hell's Angel. I led with my stake, which buried itself in his chest, turning him
into dust in a second.
I have to give B credit; as soon as I moved, she ducked out of the way and shots
fired wildly over her head. She aimed a leg sweep at Vinnie, and brought him to the
I saw that Jock was trying to get a bead on her, and I was on him fast. I buried
my stake in his back, grabbing his gun away from him with my right hand. He dissolved
into dust, and I aimed the gun in Vinnie's direction.
"I think you'll want to drop that," he growled, holding Buffy in front of him, gun
pressed against her temple. "One shot won't kill me, but it will most certainly kill
I glared at him, gun leveled at his face.
"You disappoint me. I thought for sure you knew which side to bet on this time.
Guess you're just a big loser after all." He dug the gun hard into the side of B's
face. "I said, drop it."
I looked into B's eyes; she was scared, but it was more for me than for her. I
looked away; I had to, or else I'd never be able to do this. "Okay," I said, and
ejected the clip. Time seemed to slow down in that weird way it does, right when
you know you're gonna die; the clip tumbled down, end over end, until it landed on
the grass with a dull thud.
Vinnie smiled at me, and pointed his gun right at my chest. "Like I said. Just
a big, fuckin' loser."
"I'm not the one with a bullet in my brain," I said, and fired the one round I
knew was still in the chamber.
Vinnie's head snapped back, and I heard the sharp crack of another gun firing.
Buffy whipped a stake out of her sleeve, dodged around Vinnie and buried it in his
back. A second later, he was dust.
What a relief, I thought, and then I wondered why my legs weren't holding me up
anymore. I dropped down to the turf, noticing with a hell of a shock that my chest
was covered with blood. B ran over to me, holding me. I knew she was saying something,
but I couldn't figure out what. My ears didn't seem to be working, or some shit like
"I love you, Buffy," I heard myself say, my words echoing inside my head. I wanted
her to know it, to know that I didn't betray her. Not really.
I got tired all of a sudden. After that, I don't remember a whole hell of a lot.
You didn't think the story ended here, did you? Fuck, I got knifed, fell two stories
down to the bed of a junk truck and pulled out of it. Eventually.
The first thing I noticed was someone holding my hand. Buffy, definitely. I got
to know those hands pretty well. She was talking to someone, from the sounds of it.
"No way. I am not leaving her."
"Buffy, be reasonable. You have to go home, get some sleep." That voice, I knew
I heard it before...
"Forget it, mom." Oh yeah. "I need to be here when she wakes up."
"I know you feel responsible for her, honey, but you have to think of yourself
"You don't get it. She saved my life, mom, and she almost died doing it. Besides,
I wouldn't leave her now anyway."
"I know she's a friend of yours, but--"
"We're more than friends, mom." Oh, this was getting good.
"We love each other. We're in love with each other. If you can't deal with that
right now, then it's probably best you leave. I'm not leaving her."
There was a long silence then. I can only imagine the looks. "We'll talk about
this later." A couple seconds later, I heard the door close.
Now, if only I could get my voice to work. "Buffy?" It was hoarse, but not bad.
I heard a stifled sob, and I felt her hand brush across my face. I opened my eyes,
just to have to shut them a second later from the brightness.
"I'm here, Faith. I'm here..." I felt her lips on the back of my hand, and I
tried opening my eyes again. It worked a little better this time, and it only took
me a few seconds to focus on Buffy.
God, she looked like hell. Dark circles under her eyes, tear stained cheeks, the
whole bit. She was wearing the same clothes, too, which had big dried bloodstains
all over. Crap. Those were actually my clothes that she had borrowed. Oh well.
"How many months was I out this time?" I asked, my voice still shaky.
B smiled at me, her eyes filling up with tears. "Two days. They had you in surgery
for about four hours, from the time I brought you in."
"How bad is it?"
She licked her lips. "I don't know if--"
"Please, B, I want to know." I looked at her, hoping my eyes would tell her what
"The docs said the bullet ricocheted off your ribs and tore through your lung; it
missed your heart by less than an inch. But they were able to get all the pieces out,
and patched you up pretty good. With the amount of blood you lost, they didn't think
you'd make it--" Her voice broke, and she took a deep breath before continuing. "I
knew you would, though. Slayer chicks are just too tough to put down for long."
"Tell me about it," I said, giving her a weak grin. "So when can I get the hell
out of here?"
It wasn't long after that when B left, at my urging, to go tell the docs that I was
awake and see when I could get the fuck out of here. She also left to go get some rest,
a shower, and a clean change of clothes. That was at my urging, too.
The doc came in and checked me over; he was a short, pudgy guy who looked like he
hadn't gotten laid in about a year. He called me "Ms. Summers" about four times before
I actually got that he was talking to me. Smooth, Faith. Better not ever have to go
into Witness Protection.
He seemed really happy at my progress; he was surprised, actually. I wasn't. Of
course, I knew that I was a Slayer, and he didn't. He said I could be out in two days
if I continued to improve and promised to do some lame-ass breathing exercises, to
"extend the capacity of my damaged lung." Yeah, well, in a few days no one, including
a doctor, would be able to tell that I had been shot.
Fuck, I got shot.
I almost died.
Oh well, not like it hadn't happened before.
I was sitting there, flipping channels on the TV trying to find something decent to
watch. Figures, here I was again watching lame-ass Daytime TV, and I didn't even have
The door opened and Xander walked into the room, holding a stuffed bear.
Yeah, that's what I said. Surprised the hell out of me, too.
"Um, hi," he said, handing me the bear. I took it from him, wondering if it
contained anything explosive, he was so nervous giving it to me.
"I heard about what happened, and I wanted to stop by... And you know what they
say, 'Say it with a stuffed animal.'"
I raised an eyebrow. "And what is the stuffed animal trying to say?"
"Um, it's right there on his little t-shirt," he pointed, "'Get Well Soon.'"
I smiled, and set the little guy down on the side of the bed. "Thanks."
Things got pretty awkward after that; a few minutes passed, and neither of us said
anything. Eventually, Xander mumbled, "I guess I'd better get going..."
As he was heading out the door, I said, "Hey, X-man?" He froze, and turned around
to look at me. "I'm...sorry. For everything back then."
He grinned, that goofy, lop-sided grin he has. "Better have 'em check you over
for a concussion, Faith...cuz I don't remember any of that." He waved goodbye, and
closed the door.
Well, shit. Buffy had some pretty wicked cool friends. I had some pretty
wicked cool friends. I liked the sound of that, actually.
"Hey, was that Xander?" B came into the room, looking like she had showered and
I made a point of looking at the clock on the wall. "There is no freakin' way you
actually got some sleep."
She grinned, a little sheepishly. "Who needs to sleep when you have caffeine?" She
asked, sitting down next to me. "Hey, cute bear."
I decided to let her off the hook, seeing as how I started missing her about five
minutes after she left. "Yeah, Xander brought it."
"So that was Xander...how cute!" She picked up the bear and waved one of
its little arms at me. "Hi there, Faith," she said in a deep voice, "and how are
I just looked at her.
"I think someone's a little grumpy, Mr. Bear," she said, nodding the bear's head
I just kept looking at her.
She grinned, and kept playing with the bear. "So what did Xander want?"
"He wanted to bring that by. Things look like they're going to be five by five."
"Great! Glad to know he's finally come to his senses. Now all we have to do is
worry about telling him about us." She licked her lips, kinda nervous now. "Faith,
I...um...I kinda told my mom about us."
I nodded. "I thought that's what I heard, right when I was coming out of it.
Things...ok between you two?"
Buffy shrugged; she was pretty sad, it was obvious even to me. "I haven't talked
to her yet. She stormed out of here, pretty upset, just before you woke up."
God, what a piece of work I was, ruining Buffy and her mom's relationship. "I wish
I was surprised, I really fucked up any chance I had of her liking me. I'm sorry."
B's eyes got all wide. "Faith, you don't have to be sorry. My mom will come around,
she's got to learn that I'm happy, and the choices I make aren't always going to be the
ones she wants me to make. But too damn bad, they're my choices.
"I love you. And if I had my way, I'd spend the rest of my life with you."
I stared at her. "You don't mean that."
"The hell I don't."
"Ah, c'mon B," I said, looking away to stare at the wall. "You don't want--"
"Faith, shut up," she said, leaning over and kissing me. And I did.
We sat and watched TV for a little while; B held my hand and wouldn't let go. Not
like I was trying to get away, or anything.
"You never did ask...why I brought us to the graveyard that night."
She shrugged. "Is it important?"
I looked at her, confused. "Isn't it?"
"You saved my life. That's all I care about." She looked at me steadily the whole
I nodded, and didn't say anything for a long time. Finally, I said, "I...I kinda
need to tell you."
"Okay," she said softly. She squeezed my hand and waited for me to start.
The whole time I talked to her, my voice was real quiet. I did things I regretted
before, hell, I did things I regretted a lot. But now, it was different. I
"That vamp who was talking to us...his name was Vinnie, and he used to work for
the mayor, back when I was...working. He wanted to talk to me, said he worked for
Adam now, and...and they wanted me to join them. He said he knew that I enjoyed
being on the winning side. He told me Adam was the winning side, that he took you
on and you were scared of him.
"He knew I hated the fact that I was always second best...to you...and that I
should be the only Slayer here. That Sunnydale should be my town, and I wouldn't
have to be second best to you anymore. He told me he and Adam could make it so
that..." God, I couldn't go on. I just thought about what would have happened if
Vinnie hadn't turned the gun on me, if instead he had shot--
"Shh, it's ok," B said to me, smoothing my hair back. "What happened?"
I forced myself to take a deep breath. "I...I had to prove to myself, to everyone,
that I wasn't like that anymore. When we got to the graveyard, I didn't know what I
was going to do. But when I saw you there, with that look in your eyes like I betrayed
you -- I knew I'd do anything to keep you safe. I'd die to keep you safe."
"Faith," Buffy said softly, still stroking my hair. "You're not second best to me.
Some things I do better, but there are a heck of a lot of things you do better than me
too. The two of us, we're partners. Equals. I wouldn't have it any other way. I
don't think that you're second best, and neither do any of our friends. And if some
dusted vampire and junk-yard Frankenstein do, then that's their mistake. Because
they'll learn it the hard way.
"You know, this whole Adam incident has really taught me two things."
"What's that?" I asked, completely unable to believe my luck. She was right, what
she was saying felt right to me. I don't know if it was wishful thinking or
whatever, but I felt like I could believe it.
"First, that I am incredibly lucky that you love me, and that I love you."
Shit. I felt myself blush. I never blush.
"Second, that Adam is running scared."
"Huh?" I looked at her like she was nuts. "How do you figure?"
"Because, if we Slayers are so inconsequential to him, why did he bother having
his flunkies try to get you to fight on his side? I'll tell you why, because when
he was making his little plans, he didn't factor you in.
"One Slayer he figures he may be able to handle. Two Slayers... and now
he's in a world of hurt."
I couldn't help grinning at her, and she returned it. I don't know if what she
was saying was true, but I couldn't argue with her logic.
The Chosen Two. It meant a lot to me right then. It meant everything to me.
The next couple of days went by pretty fast, and with a couple of exceptions,
pretty uneventfully. The doc was pretty astounded by how quick I was healing; he
prescribed me some painkillers which I never took. It doesn't pay to be all
fuzzy-headed when you're a sitting duck.
Along with Xander's stuffed bear, I also got a bunch of flowers from Giles, and
some balloons from Red and Tara. Looks like things went pretty well on their date
after all. Just like I predicted, they did make a very cute couple.
Anyway, like I was saying, there was a big exception to all that dull and
I finally made B go to class, since she had probably already missed way too many
because of me anyway. I was sitting up, eating my lime jello when the door opened,
and who should walk in except Buffy's mom. Ah, shit. And me without my bulletproof
"Joyce," I said, nodding at her. She came in without a word and sat down right
next to my bed. Way too close for comfort.
"Buffy's not here," I said, knowing that Joyce had probably planned it that way.
"I know. I came to talk to you."
I didn't say anything, but I knew my expression said, "I'm here, so talk."
"I'll be straight with you, Faith." Well, that makes one of us. "I think you
need help. I'm willing to make allowances because of the rough time you've had,
but you have some serious problems. You're bad for yourself, and you're bad for
Buffy, and I don't want you to see her anymore. If you're honest with yourself
about loving Buffy, you'll make the decision which is best for her."
I almost laughed. After what we just faced, did she really think she could get
between us? "Sorry to be the one to break this to you, Joyce, but what you want and
what you don't want is kinda irrelevant here. It's completely up to Buffy to decide
what is bad for her, and to be perfectly honest, you don't know enough about the
situation to make that kind of snap judgement.
"Now, if you want my advice, you'd better just accept what Buffy decides
and hope she chooses to talk to you about it. Don't think that you can just come
here and guilt me into breaking up with her, like you did with deadboy. Because it
just ain't gonna happen." I went back to eating my jello, and I heard her get up
Well, that won't make the inevitable family dinner any easier. But it had to be
said. Didn't it?
B came back later that afternoon, and helped me spring myself from that place.
I kinda put off telling her about her mom; I wasn't gonna lie to her about it, but
I figured we should be somewhere a little more private first.
And I learned that I really needed to practice signing 'Faith Summers.'
Giles drove us to my place in his crappy little car. It was an improvement over
his old crappy little car, but only because this one was a few years newer.
B went around the side to get my spare key off the balcony; one of these days I
suppose I needed to make a couple of spares. Giles and I were left waiting on the
"Thanks for the flowers," I said, lifting the vase. "They're cool."
He smiled at me. "I'm glad you like them." You could tell he still wasn't
really comfortable, but it was getting better. And hell, if he was willing to give
it a try, I would too.
B opened the front door and we went inside. As soon as we did, though, she
started with all the mothering crap.
"Thanks for your help, Giles. Faith, you need to sit or lay down; we're
following doctors orders on this, I don't want you going all relapsy."
I rolled my eyes and laid down on the bed. I kinda liked the attention, as
long as she didn't totally overdo it. "Only if you lay down here with me," I
said, giving her my best smile.
She froze for a second and looked at Giles, who was suddenly very interested
in one of my posters. He cleared his throat and said, "Well, I suppose I should
leave you two to...recover..."
Buffy nodded. "Yeah, we'll call...later..." And shut the door behind him.
She turned to look at me, and I just kept grinning at her.
"Was that really necessary," she said, in that long-suffering way of hers.
"Completely. We've got nothing to hide, B; they'll find out anyway, and if they
see how happy we are they won't second-guess it." I patted the bed next to me.
She walked over and laid down, putting her head on my shoulder. "I guess you're
right. I just hope my mom sees it the same way."
Uh oh. "I wouldn't bet on it..."
She sat up and looked at me. "Why? What happened?"
"Your mom came to see me this morning, after you left," I sighed. "She wanted me
to stop seeing you."
"Damn it!" B swore. She looked really pissed. "When is she going to learn that
I'm an adult?" She jumped up and grabbed her jacket.
"Wait a minute," I interrupted, getting up with a small amount of pain and walking
over to her. "Far be it from me to keep someone from going off 'half-cocked.' I am,
after all, the queen of half-cocked. But do you really want to talk to her right now,
now that you're pissed off?"
"Guess not," she said, and dropped her jacket back on the chair. "Guess I should
give it a couple of days, huh?" She pulled me back to the bed.
"Now this is more like it," I said, climbing on top of her and kissing her.
I felt her laugh. "Are you sure we should be doing this?"
"Fuck," I said, pulling off her t-shirt. "I'll be six feet under before I stop
From the sounds she was making, I'll assume she agreed.
"Gotcha," I said, feinting with a kick, and then at the last minute dropping into
a leg sweep which dumped B right on her butt. "You ain't goin' easy on me or anything,
B got up, rubbing her tailbone. "Trust me, I'm not going easy on you. You're
just getting better. A lot better."
I grinned to myself, bouncing up and down on the balls of my feet. B and I were
sparring in my -- our? -- loft; it was nice, and a hell of a lot less lethal than
the last time we fought here.
B was right, though; I was getting better. I didn't feel that weird, stretchy
feeling in my chest anymore, and my breathing was back to normal. Gotta love Slayer
healing; less than two days since I got out of the hospital, and I'm already almost
one hundred goddamn percent.
Maybe once I healed up, all those doubts I had about myself and B would disappear
Who the hell was I trying to bullshit.
"Guess we should call it a morning... We have that meeting at Giles' to go to,
and I'd kinda like to shower. I'd rather not have our friends smell me before they
see me." B gave me a quick kiss and went into the bathroom.
Our friends. B was saying stuff like that more often. Our friends, our place,
us, we. I'd never really been a part of anything before, unless you count the
Watcher's Council, and that was a major clusterfuck. But she always included me,
I don't even know if she did it on purpose or not.
When I came back here after getting out of the hospital, we both kinda agreed
it would be better for B to move in here, unofficially at least. She wanted to be
near me, in case I needed anything, and I wanted to be near her. What a laugh --
big, bad Faith didn't even like sleeping alone anymore. But can you blame me? When
you've got B sleeping next to you, anything else is a wicked letdown.
What I tried to tell her was, "Buffy, I think things between us are better than
they've ever been. I love you, and I need you. I would be happy beyond words to
have you move in here with me. I know it's not much, but it would mean a lot to
me." What I actually said was, "You know, you should bring over some of your stuff.
That way it won't be such a pain in the ass if you spend the night over here."
She got it -- at least, I think she did. B just smiled at me and said, "I think
that's a great idea. I'd love to." And so she dragged over a bunch of her clothes
and stuff. Red gave her a little bit of a hard time, but it wasn't like she was
spending a whole bunch of her nights at the dorm room, either. The little witch
was keeping her plenty busy.
I listened to the sound of the shower running for a couple of minutes before it
really sunk in, and then I began to wonder what I was doing out here when
she was in there.
This is California after all; gotta do what I can to save water. And if that
means showering together, I guess I'll just have to make that sacrifice.
"Okay, so what do we know about Adam?" Buffy asked, looking around the room.
The whole Super Friends group was there, sitting around the G-man's living room:
Willow and Tara together on the couch, just itching to hold each other's hand, but
trying to play it cool in front of everyone; Giles, all business now that he had
something demonic to focus on; Anya, sitting near Xander and glaring daggers at me;
and Xander, sitting in one of Giles' chairs, uncomfortably aware of Anya and me in
the same room. Guess he told her what was what, and now that we were talking again,
she was pulling a jealous routine.
As if she had to worry. I sighed. Guess I'd have to straighten that out, too.
"I've got a list of several of the different demon types from which he was
constructed," Giles said, holding up a piece of paper. "He has been given
extraordinary strength, and above-average speed. He has, of course, the skewers
in his arms from the Polgara demon, but that seems to be his primary weapon."
"Aside from his fists," I said, rubbing my arm. Giles nodded at me.
"So he likes to get in close," B said, pacing around now. "Problem is, so do
we. But we can't inflict the same damage on him that he can on us."
I shrugged. "Piece of cake, then." They all looked at me like crazy, so I
explained. "I seem to remember hearing about the great Slayer Buffy Summers, who
once pulled out a fuckin' rocket launcher to finish off some demon or other who
couldn't be killed with normal weapons."
B thought about that for a second. "Yeah, but unlike the Judge, Adam knows what
a rocket launcher is, and he probably won't stand still for it."
Xander spoke up. "He's got some computer thing in his chest...can't we use that
to attack him?"
Everyone looked at Red now. "Maybe...but we'd have to give him a disk and trick
him into reading it," Willow said. "But I can't write a virus unless I know a lot
more about his hardware and operating system."
"Can you get that information from the Initiative's computers?" Buffy asked.
"Probably...but the Initiative probably uses C2 security, at a minimum." Red
got blank looks from everyone. "That means their network is isolated." More blank
looks. "It means I can't just break into their system from outside."
"Can Riley help us get in to their system?" Xander asked.
B and I exchanged looks. "I don't think we can count on Riley's help with this
one," Buffy said evenly. "He and the Initiative will be hunting Adam separately."
"Which leaves us with the massive brute force approach," I said, jumping off the
breakfast bar I was sitting on. "All we have to do is make sure Adam doesn't see
it. He can't see it, he can't dodge it, right?"
"Only one problem," Xander said. "Rocket launchers make a big noise and a big
flash before they make the big boom. There's no way you'd be able to keep that a
"So we can't use a rocket launcher," B said, looking around. "Is there anything
else we can use?"
I grinned at her. "I think I have an idea."
After a few more minutes of hashing things out, B and Giles left to go stock up
on a few weapons, and Xander left with his own laundry list of stuff to rip off from
the dupes at the military base. It was only so obvious that Anya didn't want to see
him go, and she never stopped glaring daggers at me the whole time. Well, since Red
and Tara were researching some spell or other, I figured this would be a good time
to get some things straightened out.
I walked over and sat down next to her, watching with some smugness as she moved
over to try to get some of her personal space back. I knew all the intimidation
tricks, and getting in someone's face is definitely one of them.
"You got a problem with me?" I asked, wicked casual.
"You're after Xander." Direct and to the point. I could get to like this girl,
if she stops being such a bitch.
"He told you we slept together, didn't he?"
She nodded, still glaring.
"Well, trust me, I'm not looking for a repeat performance. It was just a quickie,
I'm-horny-you're-horny thing, ok? Didn't mean anything, and if I knew how B and her
friends felt about casual sex, it wouldn't have happened in the first place. Got
The chick looked confused. "How can anyone have sex with Xander, and not want
to have sex with him again?"
Now, see, this is a conversation I like to have; no BS, no beating around the
bush. "All I can say is that he must have practiced before boinking you, because
when we did it, he was ok, but not great. I've had better."
I shrugged. "Plenty of people. I mean, if Xander is ringing all your bells,
that's great, stick with that. He just doesn't do it for me, ya know?"
"Because you have Buffy, right?"
My eyebrows shot up. Two points for perception. "Yeah." No reason to deny it.
"You two are orgasm friends?"
That's an interesting way to put it. "At least. I..." Shit, Faith, you can do
this. "I love Buffy. I wouldn't do anything to hurt her, including cheating on her
with Xander. Okay?"
She thought about that for a minute before she nodded. "Good," I said, and
glanced up just in time to see two pairs of eyes look down wicked fast at a book.
I grinned to myself and got up, walking around behind Red and Tara. Leaning down,
I said, "See anything interesting?"
Two heads shook.
I just smiled and went over to turn on the TV.
"Ohh yeah, baby, it's been too long." I ran my hand over the smooth surface,
feeling the lethal tension just waiting to be released. She fit in my hand perfectly,
like we were made for each other. Hell, who knows? We probably were.
"Faith, if you're done having a religious experience with your new toy..." Buffy
I looked up, tearing my eyes away from the gorgeous, black compound bow that
Giles and Buffy picked up as part of their shopping trip. "Sure, sorry B. But the
experience I was having wasn't religious."
That got a grin from B, but Giles cleared his throat. "Well, we're all familiar
with the plan of attack. The only question that remains is, how do we implement
"We have to lure out Adam, right?" Red asked. "How do we do that?"
"By giving him something that he wants," I said. "Me."
B shook her head. "No way. Besides, Faith, if the plan is going to work, you've
got to be hiding when Adam comes out. I'll need to be the one out there."
"He'll know it's a trick," Red pointed out. "He's not stupid."
"But he thinks we are..." I thought for a sec, twirling a broadhead arrow
between my fingers. "When you're trying to pull a con, the best thing to do is to
feint, let the mark catch you goofing up on a smaller con, so the big one doesn't
get noticed. It's a great way to get someone to underestimate you."
"Do I even want to know how you know all this?" B shook her head, smiling. "So
he's going to assume it's an ambush, unless we give him another trick to figure
I grinned and nodded. I was juiced now, all the pieces were clicking into place.
"You know, B, you'd look good as a brunette."
"She should have been back by now," I mumbled, pacing the floor.
Red looked up from the book she was reading. She and Tara were sitting a little
closer together, getting a little more daring with the whole PDA thing. "It takes
a little while to get to Willy's and back. I'm sure she's ok."
I grunted and kept pacing. I should have gone with her, but we didn't want to
make it too obvious. The trick is in making it just obvious enough.
Seconds later, the door opened, and B walked in. Goddamn, looking at her, I could
hardly breathe. She was wearing stuff that I would normally wear: boots, tight black
leather pants, black tube top and black denim jacket. The only difference was that
she had a brown-haired wig covering her hair; a wig which she took off as soon as she
got through the door.
I was gonna keep my cool, but I couldn't help it. I jumped into her arms as soon
as the door closed, and gave her a nice, long kiss.
"I should be greeted like this more often," she whispered to me after breaking
"I missed you," I told her, huskily. We heard a small cough, and looked over to
where Red was clearing her throat. Not that she gave a rat's ass what we were doing,
but she pointed at Giles and Xander, whose eyebrows had reached their hairlines.
"Uh oh," Buffy said to me, in a low voice. "Now we've done it."
"I couldn't help myself," I told her. "In that outfit, you're wicked sexy."
"Guess I should hang onto it, then." She grinned at me, and winked. Turning to
the two guys, she said, "I guess it's kinda obvious that Faith and I are a little
bit more than friends."
Giles seemed to snap out of the haze he was in. "Ah, yes. Well, I'm sure
everything is...good. Can I get anyone a drink?" And he beat a hasty exit to the
Xander just stared at us. B frowned, all worried for the guy. "Are you ok, Xander?
Does this bother you?" I snickered. I coulda told her he was ok, considering all the
blood left his brain in a rush.
His jaw worked for a minute before any sound came out. "Two beautiful,
leather-wearing, strong, gorgeous -- did I mention leather-wearing? -- Slayers french
kissing right in front of me. You know, I can't tell if it's bothering me or not.
Could you do it again, so I can make sure?"
I shrugged. "Sure," I said, and put my arms around B.
B, in turn, almost jumped out of her skin. "Xander! Faith!" She gave us both a
glare that was completely unconvincing.
I just shrugged again. "Shit, wouldn't be the first time I let a guy watch," I
said. That got a whole hell of a lot of shocked looks from everyone, Xander
"Ok, that's enough," Anya said, dropping the magazine she was reading. "C'mon
Xander, let's go back to your basement."
"Yeah, that's a good idea, Anya," Xander said, still in a daze. "We need to go
and...do stuff. You know...do stuff."
Anya looked pleasantly surprised. "That's the second time today. I should let
him watch you guys kiss more often," she said, and dragged him out of the house.
"So," I said, casual as all hell. "How did it go over at Willy's?"
B looked at me, and blinked a couple of times. "Oh, it went fine; I found one
of Adam's vamp goons, told him I was Faith and that I was sorry our last meeting
went bad. Told him to let Adam know that I could deliver him Buffy, and to meet
me tomorrow night at the cemetery."
"Great." I grinned. "Did he fall for it?"
"Not really," B said. "He kept looking at me, like he recognized me as Buffy.
But he didn't say anything."
"So Adam will think the trick is an ambush by Buffy?" Tara asked, her voice so
quiet it barely carried to the other side of the room. Gonna have to work on
loosening that girl up.
I nodded. "That's the plan."
"You know," Buffy began, facing the group, "no one should feel like they have
to come with us. This is going to be pretty dangerous, and if anyone feels like
they shouldn't risk their lives, that's cool."
Red looked at Tara, and the witch girl just slid her hand into Red's. Guess
that was her answer. Red looked at B and said, "We're with you, Buffy. We want
to help fight the big, nasty evil. You'll need our help."
"She's right, Buffy." Giles nodded. "Not helping you is not an option worth
B grinned; I smiled, too. It was nice having friends to watch your back. "I
love you guys," B said, getting all misty-eyed and shit.
"Ah hell," I said, blinking. "If this is turning into the caring circle, I'm
Red and Tara got up from the couch. "Guess we'd better go back, before it gets
late. Big day tomorrow." They said their goodbyes, and took off.
B looked at me, sliding her arms around my waist. "Tomorrow's going to be pretty
I shrugged, holding her close. "Could be."
She was going to say something, and stopped to lick her lips; I barely held back
from doing it for her. "It's not too late; I'd kinda like for us to visit with my
mom. Try to get things straightened out before tomorrow."
Woah. Didn't see that coming. "Now, I don't want you to be all getting your
affairs in order here, B. Cuz you ain't going anywhere tomorrow, ya know?"
"I know." B nodded. "But I want to get past that. Go into the fight tomorrow
with a clear head."
I couldn't argue with that, but I didn't know how much would actually get resolved.
"Okay, I'm game."
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