I was staring at nothing really, just the dust floating around in the back of
this crap cargo truck, and no one, not even the driver, knew that I was the cargo.
I was just sitting there. And thinking. Always way too much thinking.
We were moving at a pretty good clip, and at that rate I figured Sunnydale
would be history in no time, left behind just like Boston, another place I had
No more Sunnydale, and no more Buffy.
Goddamn good intentions. I could have been on an airplane by now, watching
some crappy in-flight movie. But at least I would have been gone. Nope, I had to
go make all the wrong choices one more time. I get a little bit of gratitude, and
all of a sudden I fall in love with the whole "Super Friends" mentality. Pretty
pathetic when you think about it.
So this isn't First Class; then again, I never got First Class. Only Buffy
ever got First Class. All Faith gets is the back of some truck.
Story of my life, really.
The truck slowed down now, coming to a stop. This wasn't good. I knew we were
on a highway, and it took something pretty serious to get traffic to come to a
dead stop. About the only thing that did were accidents. And roadblocks.
I crept to the front of the truck bed, peering out through the dusty wood
slats. Sure enough, about a hundred yards up the road, Sunnydale's finest. Shit.
Trust the SPD to start growing a brain just as I'm trying to leave town.
I opened the back of the truck just enough to squeeze through; luckily, the
truck was in the slowest lane, closest to the side of the road. I latched the
back of the truck and jumped smoothly down to the asphalt. Keeping low, I backed
off the road, seeking cover in the tall weeds and brush. The brown, brittle grass
crunched under my boots, but I knew there was no way they'd hear me from there.
So, roads were blocked. Time to switch to Plan B. Problem was, I had no clue
what Plan B was. And if I was gonna be hiking it, I was gonna need something more
than the clothes on my back. Looks like it was back to Sunnydale for me.
Goddamn place is like a black hole.
As I walked through the woods just outside town, I tried to think of what I
could do to get myself back on my feet. I could steal a bunch of hiking crap and
foot it out of town, but that didn't really have the appeal that one might think.
The highways were out, and I bet that the airports, bus terminals, and train
stations would be out too. Which left hanging out in Sunnydale until the heat was
off, and the SPD lost interest in their little dragnet.
But what to do in the meantime? I've never been one for waiting around.
I found myself wandering one of Sunnydale's many graveyards. Christ, I think
they have more dead people in this city than alive. It was getting on toward
dark, and the sun had just set for the day. I knew that Buffy was going to start
patrolling soon, so I wanted to be away from the graveyards and into downtown
That's when I saw him sneaking out of his little crypt.
"William the Bloody," I said, leaning casually against the wall of his crypt.
"This must be my lucky day."
He looked me up and down, and said in that punk British accent of his, "You
must be Faith."
"Currently, yeah," I said.
"I heard that the Slayer and all her little Slayerettes had their shorts in a
bunch because of you," Spike said, amused. "So tell me, luv, exactly why is this
your lucky day? I heard Buffy sent you packing."
"Because," I said, walking up to him and placing a hand on his chest. "I feel
like beating the crap out of someone, and guess what? You'll do."
He lost his smile immediately. "Now, Faith," he said, holding up his hands,
"You don't want to do that, I mean, I can help you so much more unbeaten, you know
what I mean?"
"No, I don't," I replied, enjoying myself. "Why would I possibly need your
"Uh, because." He was inching nervously away, trying not to let me notice.
"Because, I can help you get revenge on the Slayer."
"Sorry, Billy," I told him. "Been there, done that, not interested. Revenge
is just a big pain in the ass, you know? I'm much more a direct action kinda
"Ok, well, I can tell you where she lives. Bet you didn't know that, did
I raised an eyebrow. I didn't know that, other than the fact I knew she lived
on campus somewhere. "Ok, so tell."
"Oh, no," he said, regaining some of his smugness. "Not until you promise
you're not going to beat me up. Old Spike's no fool."
"Ok, I promise."
"Nice we could come to an understanding." He stuck his hands in his pockets,
pulling out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. "She lives with the little witch
in room 214, Stevenson Hall."
"Cool, thanks," I said, stepping up to him. "Now I'm going to beat the
crap out of you."
He dropped his cigarette and stared at me blankly.
"After all I've done, you think a broken promise to a vampire is going
to bother me?" I actually laughed out loud.
"Ok, fair enough," he said to me slowly. "But there's another reason why you
shouldn't beat me up."
"I'm a very fast runner!" With that, he took off. I cursed and ran after him,
but the damn rat knew exactly what holes to hide into, and I couldn't stick around
and look for him. I had places to go, and Slayers to see.
I caught up with Buffy outside her dorm; actually 'caught up with' are probably
the wrong words for it. I really hid in the bushes while she and Riley,
Corn-Fed-All-American-Boy, said their good nights to one another.
It wasn't the prettiest picture; Beefstick was so apologetic, almost brooding.
He probably told her that we screwed last night. Buffy was really distant, she
almost looked like she was in shock. What can I say, twenty four hours in my body
will do that to a person. Too bad she can't imagine what it's like living here
"So, I'll talk to you tomorrow," Beefstick was saying.
"Yeah," Buffy replied, her voice so soft I almost couldn't hear it. Beefstick
was doomed, and he didn't even know it yet. I could have told him that Buffy
doesn't like to share. Neither do I, that's why I slept with him.
See, I love Buffy. Funny-ass way of showing it, I know. But I do. It's like
the candle and moth thing, you know? I just keep getting drawn to her. But she
didn't want me, she wanted Angel. And that drove me nuts.
It wasn't until I looked at Buffy that I realized I needed some questions
answered. Call it stupid, call it idiotic, whatever, but I needed to talk to her
again. Find out if my life, and near-death, was worth anything after all.
So I waited for Beefstick to take a hike, and I followed Buffy on her patrol.
Problem was, she was always better at the intuitive thing than I was. She knew I
was there. About halfway through her first graveyard sweep, she pulled a stake
out of her pocket, and said, "Ok, whoever's out there can come out now. I don't
have time for this."
"What, no puns?" I asked, stepping out of the bushes. "I'm disappointed, B."
Probably not the brightest thing to do, but I can't help making smart-ass remarks.
It's in my nature.
"Faith." Her eyes narrowed when she saw me, so different than the polite
concern a couple days ago. "Why did you come back? Did you miss sleeping with my
"Beefstick? Nah, he was ok for a one-nighter, but not my type, you know?" I
thought I saw hatred right then in those gorgeous eyes of hers, but I knew she
wouldn't make the first move. She'd wait for me to do it.
"So why are you still here?" She never took her eyes off me. Just the way I
"I had a couple of questions. Figured you were the best one to answer them."
Always best to be up-front, I've discovered. Hell, I've got nothing more to
"Why the hell would I help you?"
I don't know, why the hell should she help me? There was no good reason for it,
but I knew she would; it's just the type of person she is, she helps people. Even
people she hates. I just smiled that same knowing smile, the one that never let
on exactly what I didn't know. "You will. You can't help it, it's who you are.
I got to know you pretty well this past couple days, B. Too bad you can't say the
same about me."
She looked at me, really looked at me; like she was sizing me up or something.
"What makes you think I can't?"
"You think you know me? You don't know shit about me, girlfriend." I was
pissed, now; got right up in her face with it. "Hell, twenty four hours as me?
You're lucky you survived."
She didn't back down, I'll give her that. "I know you're all alone. I know
you're scared, that you think everyone's out to get you. That you've been dealt
a bad hand and you have no choice but to play it."
Ok, so maybe she did know shit about me. I didn't want to let her know it,
though. "That's just the way it is, B. You play with what you're dealt. You got
dealt a PTA mom, with a nice middle-class household and a college education. I
got dealt an alcoholic who beat me and spent our food money on booze and drugs."
My voice broke then, goddammit. I hate remembering what my childhood was like; it
comes back to me enough when I'm asleep, I don't need it when I'm awake too. "No
college, no home, no family, no friends, no future. That's just the way it
"You have friends," she told me. Her voice was quiet, and that anger wasn't in
her eyes anymore. I wish she wouldn't do this to me. I can take her anger a lot
better than her pity.
"Who, you?" I kept my voice scornful, letting her know exactly what I
thought about that. "I'm not stupid. There's no way you'd be my friend after all
the things I've done to you." I made sure of that, at least, I thought I had.
"You're wrong, Faith. I've been here all along. All you need to do is come
"Don't do this to me. Don't fucking do this to me!" I kept shaking my
head. I had screwed up my life so much that I thought I would never get another
chance with Buffy, and here she was offering it to me on a silver platter. It's
all so much easier when we hate each other. I'm familiar with hate, I know how to
deal with it.
"I don't need your pity!"
"It's not pity, Faith. I care about you. I always have."
That rocked me. I looked in her eyes then, and she was telling the truth. I
wasn't being played, she was telling me the goddamn truth. And of course, I only
had one answer: "You're crazy."
"Yeah, I probably am." She smiled at me. I liked it, it always got to me.
I couldn't stop shaking my head. "Why are you doing this to yourself?" Why are
you doing this to me?
"Like I said, I care about you. Back when we were slaying together, things
were really good, you know? It was a lot of fun, and you did drive me nuts
sometimes, but it was nuts in a good way. Good nuts." She leaned back heavily
against a gravestone. "I miss it. Before you came, the only thing I had was
duty. You helped me see that there was something to live for in being a Slayer
besides averting the next apocalypse. When... you left...a part of me did, too.
If I can get that back, if I can get you back, I will."
I had nothing to say. No smart-ass comments, no biting words chosen to drive
her away. Nothing.
"So what happened, Faith? How come you went to the Mayor?"
This, at least, I had an answer for. I had practiced this speech, rehearsed
it. I knew it by heart, better than I knew myself.
"You always treated me like second-best. Second best Slayer to you, second
best friend to Willow, even second best...whatever to Angel. He got your love,
Willow got your friendship, and you got to be the hero. I...never...got...squat."
I made sure to say that nice and slow.
"And then...then I make one mistake. One! So I killed a guy that shouldn't
have been killed, by accident. You were there. So was it 'our' mistake? Was it
'our' problem?" I turned angrily, striding a few feet away to look out across the
"No, of course not! It was 'my' mistake. 'My' problem. 'Faith, you killed a
man!' 'Faith, you have to deal with this!' The minute I proved that I wasn't as
good as you, that I couldn't be as good as you, you bailed on me."
"I tried to get you help--"
"You tried to get me help!" I yelled, really angry now, turning around
to stare at the blond slayer. "Do you know how alone that made me feel? Why I
felt that it was all coming down on my head? You never supported me. You
never stood beside me. You walked ahead of me, barely looking behind to see if I
was following you, like a good little lap dog."
She looked like I had hit her; it tore me up, but I couldn't stop. It hurt me
to be hurting her, but I deserved the pain. So did she. "So I went to the Mayor.
Figured a little petty revenge was in order against you and the Scooby Squad.
Figured, once I got that out of the way I could move on, take that freighter and
get the hell outa Dodge. But I actually liked what I was doing with the Mayor.
For once, just once, there was someone who didn't treat me like second
best. He was wicked psycho, but he cared about me." I laughed harshly at myself.
"Like anyone but a psycho would care about me. But you wanted to know why I went
to the Mayor? Because he treated me like a fucking person, not a child."
"You're right," she said to me, her voice quiet. "I'm sorry, Faith. I don't
ever want to make those mistakes again." She paused, fighting to get the words to
come out. I knew how that was. "You know, it was hard for me, after I thought I
lost Angel. It was hard for me to trust people. You were one of the few people I
let in that close. Despite my best efforts, I liked you. Heck, I even looked up
to you." She smiled at me again, and I got that trapped feeling. The one that
tells me my heart isn't mine anymore, part of it belongs to her. "Please don't
shut me out, like last time. I don't think I could take that again."
She really knew how to take the wind out of my sails. All that beautiful anger
that I had worked up was gone, and I was too tired to even try to bring it up
again. "So, what does that mean?"
"It means I want us to be friends again," Buffy told me. "We've really hurt
each other, and I don't want to do it anymore. I don't think you do, either."
"You think we have any choice?" I was trying to resist this for everything I
was worth, I really was. But I wasn't putting up more than a token protest at
this point, and she knew it. It had all beaten me down; the police, the Mayor's
death, the killing, losing people I cared about. I didn't have the energy to
fight her anymore.
"I think we do. What about you? Are you willing to give it a shot?"
The psychologists from my old High School back home always said I had "trust
issues." I never liked letting people in close; all it was was setting myself up
for disappointment. But I knew that by doing that I was setting myself up for
What'll it be, Faith? Possible disappointment, or certain loneliness?
She had me. "Yeah."
We both sat around that old graveyard for a minute, not knowing exactly what to
say. Finally, she spoke up.
"So how come you came back?"
I shrugged; it suddenly didn't seem all that important anymore. "Police put up
some roadblocks, I would have had to lay low here for a few days anyway. Besides,
I had a couple of questions."
"Like, what happened to Angel?"
Buffy gave me a look, like she didn't trust why I was asking, but I guess she
decided to answer. "He's gone."
"Dead?" I kept my voice casual; truth was, I didn't give a rat's ass whether
boy-toy was dead or not. But Buffy probably wouldn't like it if I were all
excited at the prospect.
"No. I saved him. He drained me, almost to death, but the blood saved him."
"He just...left. After Graduation. Told me beforehand that he was leaving.
That he couldn't take it anymore."
I just smiled and shook my head. "He really is a piece of work. Takes a pair
to leave a chick who just risked her life to save yours."
"Can we talk about something else?" Buffy asked. She looked like she was still
pretty shaken up about the whole thing.
"Sure." I could've pressed her on it; hell, eight months ago I would have
pressed her on it. But now it just didn't seem worth it.
"Do you need a place to stay?" Classic Buffy, all right, always wondering about
"Nah, I got it covered." Classic Faith, never wanting any of it.
"The police are going to be watching your place." She was really worried now.
It made me a little uncomfortable. "You can stay at my place tonight."
I was about to say no, but then I got this mental image of Buffy telling Red
that I was going to be crashing at their place, and I couldn't resist. "Ok, I'm
cool with that."
So I was sitting there on Buffy's bed, flipping through the latest issue of one
of her chick mags. The look on Red's face was priceless when Buffy brought me
inside and told her I was staying the night. So Red dragged Buffy out into the
hallway, that same frozen grin on her face the whole time. It cheered me up a
whole hell of a lot, to be honest.
Of course, she probably didn't realize I could hear them through the door.
Slayer hearing, can't get enough of it.
"Are you crazy?" This was from Red, of course. "You want her to stay in the
same room with us? She's probably just waiting for us to go to sleep, and then..."
I could just picture the little stabbing motions she was making right now. What
a crack up.
"Look, Will, Faith and I have come to an understanding. I don't want this
whole thing going on any longer, and she doesn't either. We've both made some
serious mistakes. Trust has to begin somewhere." I shook my head. I couldn't
believe Buffy was sticking up for me against her best friend.
"Could it begin somewhere a little less lethal? Like...trusting her not to
cheat at miniature golf?" Yeah, as if I'd need to cheat to beat them.
"Will... Ok, if you're not comfortable with it, Faith and I can go stay
"No... Ok. But can we at least take turns keeping watch on her?... Is that a
The door opened, and Buffy and Willow walked back in. Buffy smiled at me like
nothing was wrong, but Willow kept shuffling sideways, like she didn't want to
turn her back. I would have bet fifty bucks right then and there that she wasn't
going to get any sleep.
"I coulda told you from the beginning that he was going to get caught." I
pointed at the small TV screen, which was running the credits for some "Matlock"
"Oh yeah? Why was that?" Buffy asked me. B, Willow and I were kicked back in
her dorm room watching a little TV. And by that, I mean a little TV, the thing
probably only had a 9" screen.
"Because, all that planning and shit... That's no way to get away with murder.
To get away with offing someone, ya just gotta go in there, and WHAM! get
it done." I tried to ignore Red's wide-eyed look, but it was getting harder and
harder. Keeping a straight face, I said, "It's even better when you can get 'em
while they're asleep. That way, there's no noise and no witnesses."
Red made some kind of startled, strangled noise. I looked over at her, all
cool and shit, and said, "You ok, Red?"
Buffy just sat there grinning. "Faith..." she said to me, in that "you've been
a bad girl" tone of hers.
I figured it was time to let the poor girl off the hook. "It's ok, Red, I was
just kiddin' ya."
"Um, yeah," she said, still looking at me like I held her head on a spike.
"So, who wants to go to sleep?" I said, stifling a yawn. "I'm exhausted." I
curled up on the floor with the pillow and blanket Buffy gave me, and went right
to sleep. Who says there's no rest for the wicked?
The next morning, Red left early to go meet her girlfriend. Oh, and I woulda
won my fifty bucks, too.
Buffy just shook her head when Willow left. "I don't think she got much sleep
last night, and you didn't help matters any," she said, poking me in the
"Yeah, well, not my fault she's skittish."
"When she gets over to Tara's, the first thing she's probably going to do is
take a nap."
I laughed. "Oh yeah, like those two get much sleep when they're together."
"What do you mean?" Buffy actually looked confused.
"Oh, come on B, don't tell me you don't see it." I kept looking at her, but
she kept staring at me like she didn't know what the hell I was talking about.
"What are you talking about?"
Oh, this was too much. "You mean they're not..." I figured a visual aid was in
order at this point, so I tried a hand gesture.
"Ok, I can do without seeing that," Buffy said. "As far as I know, no. I...I
never thought about Will...are you sure?"
I shrugged. "Pretty sure. I mean, you haven't seen the way they look at each
"Haven't really had the opportunity. Not that it's a big deal, though. I
mean, it would be great if Will found someone. It was hard on her when Oz
"Oh yeah, hey I'm certainly not one to pass judgement..." Just then, someone
knocked on the dorm room door. Buffy waved me behind the door, checking to make
sure I was out of sight before she opened it.
"Oh, Riley, hi! What are you doing here?" She stood in front of the doorway,
blocking Beefstick from coming in.
"Hi. Um, you...or, well, Faith, actually, um, left this at my place the other
night." He handed her something black, looked like the tank top I...Buffy...
whoever was wearing a couple of nights ago. "Um, can I come in?"
"Come in?" Buffy squeaked. Yes, squeaked. "Why?"
"Well, I'd kinda like to talk to you about...things."
"We can talk right here. Yes, talk would be good here. Or maybe in the
"Yeah, well, neither of those places are really private, you know?"
"Um, ok...just give me a minute to get decent..." Buffy closed the door in his
face, probably surprising the hell out of him. She motioned me over to the
closet, and I just rolled my eyes, gave her my best disgusted look. But I hid all
the same; I didn't want to miss this convo.
"Ok, come in," I heard her say.
"Are you ok? I mean, you seem really, I don't know, distracted." Ah, that
Beefstick, can't put anything over on him.
"No, I'm fine. What did you want to talk about?"
"I just wanted to see if you were ok. I mean, you seemed really distant last
"Yeah. I'm fine. Finer than fine. I'm the finest. Look, I got some stuff to
do right now, but we'll talk more later, ok?"
"Um, ok..." The door closed, followed moments later by the closet door
opening. I just stood there, arms folded across my chest, giving B my best amused
"Trouble in paradise?"
Buffy flushed, though whether it was because she was embarrassed or mad, I
couldn't tell. "You should know, you caused it."
"Oh, no, some things you can pin on me, B, and some you can't. Granted, I
slept with Beefstick--"
"...and it was the totally wrong thing to do, I'll admit that. I'll even go
one step further, and say I'm sorry." I always hated apologizing. Made me feel
guilty, and I hate feeling guilty. But in this case, it was true. "But why are
you blaming him? I mean, he thought it was you. Everything he did and said was
for you. So why the 'tude?"
Buffy chewed her bottom lip like she always did when she was thinking about
something really hard. "I don't know. Things have been really weird the past few
days, and I guess I'm still processing all of it."
"So, um," it was my turn to be uncomfortable now, "are we, you know, five by
Buffy looked at me and smiled. God, I'd give anything to see another one of
those. Pathetic, huh? "Thank you for saying you were sorry. It really means a
lot to me."
I shrugged, like it was no big, and tried to blow it off as always. "Yeah,
well, you know, it wasn't--"
Buffy silenced me by putting a finger over my lips. "Yeah, it was. And I
appreciate it. We are five by five."
I couldn't stop grinning. I must've looked like an idiot.
"So, since it's Saturday, and I don't have classes, what say you and I go over
I gave her a doubtful look. "I don't think he's going to want to see me."
"Well, he'd better get used to you. They'd all better get used to you.
Because I hope you're sticking around for a long time." She threw her arm across
my shoulders like we were best buds or something. I gotta admit, when B decides
to do something, she does it all the way.
"I'll be here as long as you want me, B."
Buffy lent me some shades, and we pulled my hair back in a ponytail to give me
a different "look" just in case we passed by the cops on our way to see the G-man.
Buffy tried to get me to wear one of her pastel numbers, but I just gave her that
"over my dead body" look. Pretty soon we were walking through town headed for
"So what are we going to do about the cops?" I asked. "Unless you want me to
turn myself in." Yeah, like that was going to happen. I don't care how hard I
fell for her, prison just wasn't an option.
Buffy shrugged. "What would be the point? You can do a lot more good as Slayer
On Patrol than as Slayer Behind Bars." She hesitated for a second. "Are you...
sorry for what happened?"
I dropped my head a little, unable to look her in the eyes. "Yeah, well that
guy, the Deputy Mayor? It was like a big accident, you know?"
She nodded, didn't seem upset at all. "I know. Giles told me that it's
happened before, with other Slayers. Accidents happen, and it's tragic, but the
only thing to do is learn from them, I guess. I'm sorry I freaked, and wasn't
there for you like I should have been."
"Nah, it's not your fault, well not totally. I just felt like it was all
coming to an end, you know? It was just getting so wicked cool, I mean you and me
were like real partners. The Chosen Two. But then, just like every other good
thing in my life, I lost it way too fast. I started screwing it up, just like
always. Then I figured that if I was going to be evil, I might as well go all the
way, you know?"
Buffy stopped me, turned me around to face her. "Listen to me Faith," she
said. "It doesn't have to be that way anymore. I've seen you, the real you, and
you know what? You're a pretty wicked cool chick." I couldn't help laughing at
that. Nice lingo, B. She held on to my arm, and we started walking again. "Tell
you what, I'll make you a deal. You think you're screwing something up, you come
talk to me about it. And if I think I'm screwing something up, I'll come talk to
"Yeah, ok." Goddamn, I thought, shaking my head. What the hell did I do to
"So, as far as the police go. I think I can get Will to hack into the police
computers, maybe work some of her magic on their files."
I eyed her doubtfully, not wanting to get my hopes up. "You really think that
"Well, you'll still need to hide out until the heat's off." She giggled. "I
always wondered what it would be like to say that. Anyway, once the police think
you've skipped town they'll forget all about you. They only ever wanted you for
questioning anyway. And we'll see what Will can do about their records."
It wasn't much, but I felt better than I did in a long, long time. Walking
down the street with Buffy, I started to get that feeling, like everything was
going to be ok after all. I was sure it was a lie. So I just shrugged, and told
myself I'd enjoy it while it lasted.
"Ok, so I'll go in and prepare Giles." Buffy and I were standing outside the
G-man's place, trying to figure out how not to give him a heart attack.
"Hey, no problem, I'll just wait out here in broad daylight, maybe flag down a
passing policeman and ask him what he wants, hey?"
"Ok, you might have a point there, no matter how couched in sarcasm. We'll
both go in at once. But try not to panic him, ok?" She took a deep breath, and
opened the door and we went inside.
Giles was sitting on his couch, reading a newspaper. He glanced over at us,
and said, "Hello, Buffy, nice to see you this morning." And of course immediately
did a double-take. I'm telling ya, I've seen deer which looked more comfortable
when they were trapped by headlights.
"Giles, it's ok, there's nothing to worry about." Buffy tried to calm him
down, but it didn't look like she was doing a very good job.
"Really, because, from where I'm standing it looks like you've just let a
dangerous murderer inside my house. I must remember to send a thank you card."
He was walking backwards, but where he thought he was going to go I have no idea.
I don't think he knew either.
"Giles, look, can I talk to you a minute?" She turned around and smiled at me.
"You want to grab yourself a soda and make yourself comfortable?"
I ignored the outraged yelp from the other side of the room, and smiled back.
"Sure B, take all the time ya need."
So I was sacked out on the couch, idly flipping channels and swigging a Coke
when B and Giles returned from their little talk in the back room.
"Ah, well, Faith, Buffy tells me that you and she have come to ah, an
I nodded. "Yeah, B's been really great about the whole thing. Um, look Giles,
I'm ... sorry about all the trouble I've caused. I know it isn't going to be easy
to try to make up for everything, but B and I really want to help each other this
time." I stuck my hands in my jacket pockets to keep them from shaking. I hate
it, I mean I can stare down vampires and demons who want to rip me limb from limb,
but the minute I have to think about my own feelings, much less share 'em, I go
No one spoke for a long time after that. Finally, Giles said, "Well, I think
what you are doing is admirable. If there's any way I can help, don't hesitate to
let me know."
I couldn't believe it. I actually looked between Giles and B, wondering what
the catch was. Why the hell should he forgive me that easy?
"What about the Council?" Buffy asked. She sounded scared, but she might have
had good reason to be. She had to deal with those jagoffs while I was living it
up as her.
"Yes, well, as far as the Council knows Faith has left town, and I have no
plans to disabuse them of that assumption."
The phone rang, and Giles walked over to pick it up. After a sec, he held it
out to Buffy. "It's your mother." He walked upstairs while Buffy started talking
to her mom.
Oh, great. Someone else who I tried to hurt. If they all got together, they
could probably throw a pretty wicked party.
"Oh, ok mom. Ok. No problem. Love you too. Bye." Buffy set the phone down.
"Mom's going away to Chicago for a few days, and wants us to house-sit."
I grimaced. "Somehow, I don't think she wants us to house-sit."
"Yeah, well..." B frowned. "It's...going to take some convincing on my part to
get you both in the same room again. My mom can be a little stubborn."
"Hey, no big deal, huh B? I was actually wondering why the rest of you weren't
being stubborn too." I shrugged and looked at the floor, unable to look her in
the eyes. I just couldn't accept the fact that she was willing to forgive me, I
just had to question it, didn't I? They always told me I never knew when to shut
the fuck up.
"Hey," Buffy said in that soft voice of hers. She walked around the couch
until she was standing right there in front of me, looking up with those mascara'd
eyelashes, her slightly parted lips, her hands holding mine... I swear, my brain
"Faith, listen. You and I have really been through some rough things together,
both good and bad. We've saved each others' lives, and we've tried to take them,
too. That night...at the graveyard, I looked into your eyes and saw something
that I didn't ever think I would see again.
"You weren't mad, you weren't mean, you were just...Faith. And I figured if
you could be just Faith, and I could be just Buffy, then maybe we could be friends
and none of that old stuff would matter anymore.
"That's why I'm not being stubborn about the whole thing. I just want it so
that none of that old stuff matters, and the only thing that counts is what's
happening right now. Does that make sense?"
I swallowed hard, and looked up at the ceiling. For two reasons, one was that
I couldn't look into those eyes anymore, and the other was that I thought I was
going to cry. Goddammit, I hadn't cried in years, I didn't want to start now.
Weakling. Pitiful, pathetic fucking weakling, the minute someone starts to care
about you, you fall into the same trap.
Something must've changed in my eyes, like a wall went up or something, because
next thing I knew her hands were stroking my face, and she was saying, "Faith,
please, please don't shut me out again." And I looked down at her, and her
eyes were filling up with tears. She was scared, scared that she was going to
And that was it. I sank down to the floor, dragging her down with me, buried
my face in her shoulder, and cried.
She put her arms around me, and held me like that for god knows how long. When
I finally stopped, it felt like someone cut this big iron band that had been
tightening across my chest ever since I could remember. I took a deep breath and
B, with minimal movement, managed to snag a kleenex from the box on the table and
give it to me.
"Wow, you must do this a lot," I said, blowing my nose. Ick.
"Only for my bestest friends," she told me, smiling. "So, do you mind
house-sitting with me? I hate to do it alone, and I think Willow is going to need
her space if she's going to get any sleep at all."
I grinned. "Yeah, you're probably right. Sure, B, I'd be happy to."
"Terrific!" She actually sounded pretty excited. "We'll swing by my place and
pick up some things, and then we'll head over."
"Lead the way."
B was finished with the packing thing, and headed off to use the bathroom one
last time before we left. Red didn't seem disappointed at all that we weren't
going to be roomies for the next few days; in fact, she seemed downright
As soon as B left the room, I got up and walked over to where Red sat working
on her computer. My sudden moves earned me a couple of cautious looks. "Red, uh,
I mean, Willow? Can I talk to you a sec?"
She looked at me suspiciously, kinda looking like she wanted to keep her
distance. "Um, sure."
"Cool. Look, I'm really sorry about all the stuff from before. I mean, I was
pretty nuts back then, and did a lot of stuff I shouldn't have. I know the things
I did hurt you pretty bad, and...I'm sorry." I waited for her answer, but never
got one. I looked at her, but she just kept looking at me, kinda surprised now.
Oh well, guess I should have kept talking. "I'm really sorry for the holding you
at knifepoint thing, and for the hitting you thing. And the kidnapping thing.
And Buffy told me that you probably didn't like the screwing Xander thing, either,
so I'm sorry for that too.
"I guess what I really want is for another shot. I'll try not to screw this
one up like I did the last one." I stopped, and looked at her again. She was
chewing her bottom lip like she didn't know what to say. "You know, if you don't
say something, I'm just gonna keep talking."
That made her smile, and she looked at me and nodded. "Ok. I can't promise
anything, but I'll try."
"Thanks. You're wicked cool, Red." Just then, Buffy came back into the room.
What can I say, the chick's got an incredible sense of timing.
"Ready to go?" She asked.
We did the bus thing over to B's place; she said that her mom already left for
the airport, so we didn't have to worry about that little scene yet. We went in,
and Buffy grabbed a note that was taped to the back of the door.
"It's from my mom. 'Thanks for housesitting, I really appreciate it. There
should be plenty of food in the fridge for the next few days, if not I left some
money for you you-know-where. All the hotel information is on the fridge. Have a
good time, love, Mom.' Cool, let's see what's in the fridge."
I started to get that feeling back again, that jealousy which drove me nuts; it
kept telling me that I had nothing while Buffy had everything.
"C'mon," Buffy said, grabbing my hand to drag me into the kitchen. "Are you
hungry? I can cook...well, sorta. A few things, anyway." She smiled at me and I
blinked; I realized that I didn't have nothing after all, I had her.
We sat in front of the TV eating our sandwiches, which was one of the only
things that Buffy could "cook". I couldn't complain, though, it beat the hell out
of what I was eating the past few days, which was a big nothing since I didn't
have any money.
"This is great!" I could tell B was totally excited. "We can run a quick
patrol tonight, and then come back here and do the slumber party thing."
"Sounds wicked, B...if I knew what the slumber party thing was."
"You know, the slumber party thing! Eat ice cream, watch movies until late,
talk, do each other's hair..." She must've caught my alarmed look. "Ok, we don't
have to do each other's hair. But I assume the rest of it is acceptable?"
I smiled and shrugged. "Sure, I guess. Slumber me."
Our patrol that night was quick and uneventful, meaning: dull. A few
new vamps, but mostly it seemed like everything dark and disgusting had decided to
hightail it out of town. When I mentioned it, Buffy said it was probably because
It didn't take long before we were back at Buffy's pad, ready to begin the
slumber party thing.
"This is going to be great. Just two bachelorettes, Buffy Summers and
Faith..." Here it comes, I thought. "Um, I don't think I ever learned your last
"That's cuz I don't have one." I walked over to the couch and turned on the
Buffy followed me. "Don't have one? Everyone has a last name, well, except for
Cher, Prince, and Madonna, but even they have last names, they just don't use
I sat down heavily, eyes still fixed to the TV. "Well, I don't, ok? Last
names...last names are for people who have families." End of discussion.
Not for Buffy, obviously. She looked at me, wanting to ask something, I could
just tell. Finally I broke down and said, "What?"
"What happened with your family?"
I just shook my head. "Look, this is supposed to be a party, right? So what
are we supposed to do now?"
She seemed to accept that, at least for the time being. "Well, now we change
into our pajamas and make some killer sundaes."
I laughed, and B gave me a look like I was crazy. Now it was her turn to ask,
"I don't wear PJ's, B."
She looked at me all puzzled and shit, and asked, "What do you wear-- Oh."
Finally it dawned on her, and she closed her mouth. "Um, well I can lend you some
sweats or something." Blushing furiously, she ran upstairs to her room.
Still laughing, I just shook my head and followed her.
The evening was a lot of fun, actually. More fun than I thought it would be.
We ate ice cream, and B almost had a sexual experience with the hot fudge. I
didn't realize she really flipped for that stuff. The movies were ok, a
no-brainer Jackie Chan movie and a couple of comedies. We were halfway through
the "South Park" movie when I looked over and saw that B was dozin'.
I nudged her. "I can't believe you can sleep through this. It's fuckin'
She blinked and yawned. "Guess I'm just really tired. Maybe it's time to hit
I shrugged and turned off the tv. I started re-arranging the pillows on the
couch, and she stopped me. "What are you doing?"
"Um, I'm making up the couch so I can sleep? You really need to work on that
observance thing, B."
"Most emphatically not," she said, grabbing my hand. "According to slumber
party rules, sleeping must be done in the same room." She dragged me upstairs to
her bedroom. "There is a certain protocol to sleeping at slumber parties, and you
need to be very careful in following it lest you bring down the wrath of the
Slumber Party Gods."
"B, I think I'll be more comfortable on the couch than on the floor."
She gave me a look that was pure "Duh." "You don't sleep on the floor at a
Slumber Party. Not unless the bed is already taken." She pulled back the
blankets on her Queen-size bed.
Oh no. No way. "I don't think that's a good idea." Yeah, like I'd get a hell
of a whole lot of sleep next to her.
"Why not?" I couldn't answer her, not without spilling my guts, which I was
most definitely not willing to do. "See? You don't even know why not.
C'mon Faith, open up and relax for a change." She jumped into bed and pulled the
blankets over her. "Turn off the light, would ya?"
I stood there for a minute, looking at the bed like it was one gigantic pit
viper. Oh well. How bad could it possibly be, right? I flipped the lights off,
and climbed into bed next to her.
I spent the next half hour tossing and turning. I couldn't sleep, not
surrounded by the whole Buffy thing, and every time I moved my sweats kept
bunching up. So I spent half my time getting comfortable, and the other half
"If you keep that up, I'm going to need Dramamine." I heard B's voice next to
me, and I turned to look at her, bunching up the sweats again.
"Not my fault," I grumbled. "Told ya I wasn't used to wearing this stuff." I
growled and tried to pull the ankles of my sweats back down to my ankles, instead
of my knees.
Buffy laughed. "If they're bothering you that much, just take them off."
I froze. She couldn't have possibly said what I thought she did. "What?"
She seemed a little flustered; I would have bet money that she was blushing,
but I couldn't tell in the dim light. "Um, it's just that I don't want you to be
uncomfortable. If you're more comfortable...I mean..."
I sat there for a minute, trying to decide whether to really do it, or just
leave and sleep on the couch. Part of me wanted to leave, and not mess up my life
with yet another complication, but... "Ok, B, you asked for it. Um, let me know
if you're uncomfortable, ok?"
I sat on the edge of the bed, and stripped the sweats and t-shirt off, keeping
them close by so I could wear 'em the next morning. I slipped back under the
blankets, sighing with relief.
"Better?" Buffy's voice didn't give anything away.
"Yeah, much. Thanks, B."