A week had gone by and Buffy had only just heard from Tru an hour ago, speaking with her over the phone. Their conversation had been difficult, awkward. Tru had asked Buffy several times if she was keeping anything more from her, if there was anything she wanted to share or get out in the open. Buffy had insisted there was nothing more, no more skeletons in her closet. It wasn’t quite true of course, there was plenty she could tell her, but for now it was best not to rock the boat any more than it had already been rocked.
One day she’d tell Tru everything, but they weren’t quite at that place yet. She couldn’t tell her about slaying, about vampires, about how she’d slept with Faith. It all had to stay locked away until Buffy was certain Tru could handle it and remain by her side. There was too much at risk otherwise.
They’d made plans for Buffy to travel up to LA to see Tru, but Buffy wasn’t sure if it would require an overnight bag. She’d go tomorrow, leaving early so she could spend as much time with Tru attempting to convince her that they could remain together despite what had happened.
Buffy hadn’t heard from nor seen Faith the last few days so she had been focusing on Tru, and on the hope that they would be able to move on. When Xander and Willow had heard Buffy’s tale of the weekend they’d been sympathetic and kind, and irritated at Faith, though Willow had pointed out that it was all bound to happen. Her little “told you so” sigh made Buffy want to push her over in the biggest way since they’d met. It wasn’t that Buffy didn’t agree, she just didn’t like knowing it was all her own fault.
Things could have been worse of course, Buffy tried to convince herself. She could still keep Tru if she did her best not to screw up anymore, and she now knew for certain she could not be in the same place as Faith without something bad happening. She just had to be on her best behaviour, and switch her stupid brain off when it started trying to trip her up.
When she finally felt a little more grounded and was on her way up to LA – with an overnight bag just in case – Buffy felt sure things would be ok with Tru now that the big secret of her twin sister Faith was out of the way. Or at least partially out of the way; they still hadn’t really talked about it and Buffy didn’t know if Tru had had contact with Faith over the past week. Not knowing was gnawing at her a little but she tried not to dwell. There was nothing more she could do in that respect.
As she stepped off the bus and glanced around for Tru, Buffy crossed her fingers subconsciously. If Tru didn’t show then that would be one hell of a smack in the face that she deserved. But over by her gleaming car stood Tru, sunglasses perched on top of her head and her arms folded over her more than ample chest. Buffy smiled, then tried to hide it before walking towards her; she didn’t want to push her luck.
“Hey,” Buffy said softly, seeing a hint of wariness in Tru’s eyes that she had never seen before.
“Hi,” Tru responded, stepping forward and placing an awkward kiss on Buffy’s cheek.
She glanced at Buffy’s bag but didn’t say anything and Buffy suddenly felt completely stupid for presuming she might be able to stay with Tru for the night. Things had obviously changed and she hated that they had.
Once they were driving to Tru’s apartment the awkwardness continued and Buffy squirmed in her seat. They were hardly speaking and Tru was guarded in a way that surprised Buffy; she’d thought that Tru was nothing like Faith, but here she was. . .just as defensive as Faith could ever be.
“Looks like it’ll be a nice day,” Buffy remarked as she turned her face into the warm breeze coming through her window.
Tru nodded and made a sound of agreement but didn’t speak. So, even talking about the weather wasn’t going to help. Buffy sighed to herself and pushed her own sunglasses onto her nose, just as Tru had done when she got into the car. This day was going to drag and Buffy had very few ideas on how to make it better; Buffy had never really had to do the chasing before in a relationship.
It wasn’t until shortly after lunchtime that the atmosphere between them began to ease, ever so slightly. Buffy had done her best to be super nice and super attentive, making Tru chuckle a few times and eventually getting to the place where they could walk closer and touch without one of them stiffening up. Buffy only had to keep things on track, and avoid talking about anything uncomfortable.
They hadn’t mentioned Faith, which was probably a bit weird but Buffy wasn’t complaining. It was better not to think about the other slayer, and better still not to bring up her name.
Lunch had been a quiet affair, but as they approached dinner time - having spent most of the day flitting in and out of all kinds of exotic shops and markets – Buffy vowed to do her best to get Tru to drop some of her defences. They chose a small restaurant to dine in, sitting at a table far enough to the back that Buffy felt confident enough to reach cross the tabletop and brush her fingers over Tru’s. Tru didn’t pull away, but her eyes watched Buffy with caution.
There were only a few other diners in the restaurant and the dim lighting and soft music felt oddly out of place for their circumstances, but Buffy did her best to filter out anything but the two of them.
“I missed you this week,” Buffy admitted for the first time that day.
Tru nodded and glanced away before returning her gaze back to Buffy. It seemed as if she was fighting something. Fighting what she felt for Buffy, which saddened Buffy more than she could explain. Still, her fingers entwined with Buffy’s and they both smiled softly, a handful of heartbeats passing before their waiter interrupted them.
They ordered their meals and ate in a silence that overwhelmed. Buffy, unable to take anymore, shook her head and placed her fork down on the table, forgetting about her pasta for the moment. She flitted her gaze towards the other tables, watching as couples smiled and chatted, hands secretly searching each other out under tablecloths as candles flickered and danced. They all looked so happy. So at peace. Buffy had thought she’d had that with Tru, but it was temporarily on hold it seemed, and she wasn’t just going to allow that to continue.
“I’d like to stay with you tonight,” Buffy admitted, bringing up the subject they’d both avoided. Her gaze moved back to Tru and she felt a little more confident as brown eyes softened for her. “I’d like to show you how sorry I am.”
There was a pause and Buffy wondered if she should have just kept her mouth shut, but then Tru nodded once again.
“Ok,” she responded with a wistful smile. “That would be nice.”
Buffy felt a weight lift from her shoulders. It would indeed be nice, and hopefully a step on the path to recovering what they had.
Now that that was out of the way Buffy had been able to talk more freely with Tru, and she delighted in the fact that Tru became more responsive. The one word answers gave way to whole sentences, and as they sipped on their wine it became easier to laugh, to relax.
By the time they left the restaurant, Tru had her arm looped through Buffy’s and they stayed close to one another, like lovers should be on their way home together. It made Buffy really smile with happiness for the first time that day, and Tru gave her arm a squeeze. Maybe they really were going to get through this. It would probably only make them stronger and at least now Buffy didn’t have to worry so much. She’d even consider introducing Tru to her mom, and Giles, soon.
Of course, things always had a way of leaping out at Buffy and knocking her sideways, and that’s exactly what happened as they rounded the corner headed for Tru’s apartment. Only, it was more of an It than a something. An It with horns and nasty breath.
“Oh, crap,” Buffy spat as she got quickly to her feet, pushing Tru back with her arm as the demon advanced on them both.
They were on a very quiet street with few lamplights and Buffy cursed her rotten luck.
“What the hell is. . .” Tru began, but Buffy didn’t hear the rest as she rushed forward, taking the large monster by the horns as he snarled at them, stamping like a bull.
It snarled louder as Buffy hurled it into the side of a building, grunting herself at his weight.
“Ok, two choices,” she told It. “One: You get the hell out of here before I kill you. Two: You get the hell out of here before I. . .”
The beast charged at her and Buffy slipped sideways, giving it a boot in the backside so its momentum took it into another brick wall. Its skin was a lurid green, scaly and grotesque, and Buffy winced as one of its horns dangled dejectedly from its head as it turned around again. She quickly glanced to the side to make sure Tru was ok, wincing further as she saw the fear in her girlfriend’s eyes. Buffy had to finish this quickly. The problem was she didn’t have a weapon on her. That was obviously a big downside to dating somebody who didn’t know about slayers and everything that went with.
Buffy had to improvise, but she was confident enough with her own strength to know she didn’t always require weapons. Allowing the beast to use its own weight as more of a hindrance than a help she speedily moved as he charged again, grabbing his arm and swinging him around and into the wall once more. He howled in pain as he hit full force, his legs giving way as he crumbled to his knees.
Tru gasped but stayed well out of the way and Buffy was thankful she wasn’t trying to help, or screaming, or making things far worse than they could be.
Stepping quickly towards the demon, Buffy didn’t even think twice before she grabbed its head and twisted hard. There was a resounding snap and his body slumped forward with a crash, scattering some trash cans and making Tru wince and back away even further.
“Is it. . .dead?” Tru asked, a tremble in her voice.
“I hope so,” Buffy replied, tapping at the beast with her toe, prepared for any eventuality. Sometimes demons didn’t stay dead.
After a minute or two in which Buffy moved closer to Tru, ready to protect her, she decided he really was dead. There was no need to hang around further, though she wasn’t really happy about just leaving the demon’s body laying around for anybody to find. Some demons evaporated much like vampires when they died, some instantly turned into a squelchy gloop, but a few didn’t decompose any quicker than humans.
“I need to drag it away from here,” Buffy said quietly, as Tru eyed both her and the demon warily.
She spotted a dumpster further down the alley they were beside and decided that that would have to suffice. It didn’t take long for her to deposit it within its grimy darkness and she slammed the lid shut once she’d covered him in loose bags of rubbish. It hadn’t been a pleasant job and Buffy knew she now desperately needed a shower and a change of clothes.
“Sorry about that,” Buffy said as she turned back to Tru who seemed strangely calm despite her ashen face. “I. . .I have no idea what that was or. . .”
Her words fell away as Tru’s shoulders sagged and she gave Buffy a disappointed look. Tru turned away from her and ran a hand through her hair, the small shake of her head clearly visible even in the scant light.
Moving closer to Tru, Buffy placed a tentative hand on her shoulder, her heart dropping as Tru flinched at the touch.
“I was hoping you were going to tell me everything tonight,” Tru began quietly. “But now I can see you won’t even tell me when something clearly not human comes out of nowhere to prove that you’ve been hiding things from me. Keeping me in the dark.”
She swung round to face Buffy and Buffy could clearly see the hurt in her eyes.
“I. . .I didn’t mean to. . .”
“Don’t, Buffy,” Tru interrupted. “I already know anyway. Faith told me.”
“What?” Buffy asked, her voice loud enough to echo down the alley. “Faith told you what?”
For a moment she felt her world tip upside down. Had Faith told Tru about their night together? And if so, why had Tru even bothered to spend the day with her if she knew? Buffy’s head was spinning and she felt a trickle of perspiration make its way down the centre of her back, both from the earlier fight with the demon and from being put on the spot so ruthlessly.
“She told me about demons, vampires, and you,” Tru answered with a sigh. She looked truly sad that she’d had to talk about this without Buffy’s prompting. “She told me you’re both slayers.”
Buffy was reeling. She wiped a filthy hand over her face and instantly regretted it, but she was too stunned to really care. So Tru had been talking with Faith, that much was clear. God only knew what tales Faith had told her. There was the distinct possibility that Tru knew everything, and that put Buffy firmly on the back foot. Faith had information that Buffy knew could be used to hurt her, to destroy what she had with Tru. She hoped, she really hoped that Faith hadn’t been that cruel.
“Faith was surprised you hadn’t told me already,” Tru continued when Buffy failed to get her mouth to work as she stood gaping. “I’m surprised too. I thought you wanted this to work.”
“I do,” Buffy sighed. “I really do.”
But as she said the words she could hear the hesitation in her own voice.
“Buffy, you were going to stand there and deny that you knew that thing. . .” Tru pointed to the dumpster, “was a demon. You were going to lie to me. Again.”
Lowering her gaze and taking a breath, Buffy tried to think of a way to prove that Tru was wrong, but she knew whatever she said would sound lame and desperate. She tried to find excuses anyway.
“I just didn’t want to freak you out,” Buffy said. “I didn’t want you to be exposed to. . .”
“But this was bound to happen at some point,” Tru pointed out. “You couldn’t have kept it a secret forever. Or could you?”
Tru seemed genuinely concerned that Buffy really could have hidden such a thing indefinitely, rendering any trust between them a fallacy.
“No,” Buffy countered, “I would have told you.”
She was sure that she would have, just. . .not yet. Not when everything else was so out of sorts. Not when Faith was still lingering in her head, and her heart.
“I don’t know,” Tru said with a shake of her head. “I don’t know what to believe right now.”
Tru turned away again and began walking back to the street, her hands shoved deep into her pockets. Buffy followed, her mind racing with ways to fix this ridiculous situation, but she was at a loss.
When they reached the street they continued walking to Tru’s apartment in silence. Every time Buffy was about to say something, she changed her mind, sure that whatever she said would only dig her hole deeper. Every thought she had just sounded like an excuse, and it was. Buffy wasn’t stupid enough to think she’d be able to convince Tru otherwise right now.
As they entered Tru’s apartment, Buffy stood awkwardly, watching as Tru turned on lamps and moved to the kitchen area to grab a bottle of wine from the fridge. She poured them both a big glass and came back to sit on the sofa. The silence was killing Buffy but there was no escaping it so she took her glass and swallowed down a large mouthful, sitting by Tru but not too close.
“Tell me everything you need to tell me, Buffy,” Tru finally said, taking a large gulp of her own drink.
Letting out a whoosh of air and closing her eyes, Buffy wondered just what constituted as everything. She didn’t know what Faith had already said to her, what secrets she’d spilled on Buffy’s behalf. Guessing it was probably best to start with what little she did know about what Faith had told her, Buffy began to try and explain being a slayer and all that came with it.
After refilling Buffy’s glass when she’d slurped down the dregs from the bottom, Tru nodded, seemingly happy with the amount Buffy had divulged so far. Buffy had told her all she could about her life as a slayer, and also done her best to convince Tru that she wasn’t planning on keeping it a secret forever.
“I don’t like secrets,” Tru informed Buffy bluntly, placing her glass back down on the low table in front of them. “But you seem to have a lot of them.”
“But I just told you. . .”
“You’ve told me what Faith already did, and I don’t think we’d be sitting here talking about it now if she hadn’t,” Tru accused, making Buffy feel very uncomfortable and guilty.
“Then why did you ask me to come here?” Buffy questioned, setting her own glass down next to Tru’s.
“I wanted to see if you’d tell me on your own. . .about everything.”
“Everything?” Buffy asked cautiously, her heart beginning to thump in her chest.
Tru looked away, her eyes fixed to a point on the wall as she seemed to deflate.
“You’d left your bedside drawer open,” Tru said cryptically, not yet turning back to look into Buffy’s eyes. “When I was in your room.”
Buffy blinked a few times, wondering what that had to do with anything. Then it hit her; there were things in that drawer that she hoped Tru would never see. Her heart was hammering now, beating out a panicked rhythm that threatened to cause Buffy to pass out.
“My drawer?” Buffy asked tentatively, buying a little time before it all came spilling out. “What do you mean?”
Her voice was tight and higher than normal and Buffy winced at the way it sounded to her own ears. The hole she’d been digging from the start was only getting wider and wider.
“I mean. . .I couldn’t help but see what was inside,” Tru said, finally glancing back at Buffy with tears in her eyes. “Which is why I’ve been asking if you’ve told me everything.”
“Oh, Jesus,” Buffy uttered instinctively, a hand flying up to her mouth.
Tru must have seen what Buffy had been storing in there, unable – try as she might – to throw away. Faith’s picture, her panties, and the hastily scrawled note clearly indicating what they’d done together.
“Tell me it was before we got together,” Tru implored, a tear escaping and rolling down her cheek.
Buffy couldn’t speak and she felt her stomach begin to gurgle, ready to bring back her dinner and the wine she’d just consumed. Her heart was in her mouth and she wanted desperately to tell Tru that she hadn’t cheated on her. That she’d never do that.
“I. . .I. . .” Buffy stuttered.
Tru’s tears began to fall more freely and she looked down at the space between them.
“You still love her,” she said with a tremble. It wasn’t a question.
“No,” Buffy replied, louder than she wanted, her heart thundering so much now she was beginning to worry. She shook her head and repeated, “No.” But the simple word sounded completely unconvincing and she knew it.
“Buffy, stop lying to me,” Tru practically shouted, her gaze lifting to Buffy’s again as she burned her with the intensity of her pain.
Reaching out to touch Tru’s face to wipe away the tears, Buffy quickly pulled her hand back when she realised it would be a mistake. She didn’t deserve to touch this woman. She didn’t deserve to have those tears fall for her.
“I’m sorry,” Buffy mumbled, putting her hands over her own face and feeling them grow wet with her shame. “I didn’t. . .I didn’t want to care about her anymore.”
A sniffle broke a momentary silence and Buffy wasn’t sure if it was hers or Tru’s. This was a miserable situation and she had nobody to blame but herself.
“But you do,” Tru declared, almost sounding resigned to the fact.
Another sniffle, this time clearly from Tru as she shifted on the sofa, gently pulling Buffy’s hands away from her face. They looked into one another’s eyes, tears still welling and spilling, hearts on their sleeves as the last few months crumbled around them.
With a shaky breath, Tru appeared to sit straighter, taller as she held Buffy’s hands in her own as she faced her. She seemed to be deciding something and Buffy didn’t want her to. She didn’t want to lose this. Gripping Tru’s hands tighter, Buffy took her own steadying breath.
“We can still make this work,” Buffy professed. “I don’t want to be with her. I want. . .”
Tru shook her head no.
“This can’t work. I can see that now,” she insisted. “There’s been too many secrets already. Too many lies.”
“That’ll change,” Buffy implored. “We can start again.”
Again Tru shook her head.
“You should go, Buffy. I’m sorry.”
There was a tone to Tru’s voice that made Buffy’s heart ache painfully in her chest. She understood too well how trust worked, and a lack of it could destroy any relationship, no matter how strong you thought it was.
“I’m sorry too,” Buffy muttered, feeling Tru’s hands slide away from her own.
It suddenly felt like the world was crushing in on her and Buffy wanted to lash out at it, to scream, but there was no point. Her own stupid mistakes had led her here after all, and as much as she hated it. . .she did still feel for Faith. She did still find herself drawn to her in a way that confused and maddened her.
There was no doubt that she’d also been falling for Tru; she hadn’t been able to help herself. But that had obviously not been enough despite how much it hurt right now to think they were over.
“Can I call you?” Buffy asked as she stood, awkwardly waiting in the hope something might change. “I mean, just to talk. As a friend?”
She was well aware of how stupid that sounded but she wanted Tru in her life.
“Maybe in a week or so,” Tru answered quietly, smiling sadly up at Buffy before she too got to her feet and headed towards her phone. “I’ll call a cab for you to take you to the bus station. I’ve drank too much to drive.”
Buffy just nodded, feeling sick to her stomach at the abrupt finality of it all. This was really it. They were really breaking up.
It stung Buffy more than she’d expected it would.
Luckily the cab showed up promptly and Buffy climbed into the back seat, feeling tears stinging at her eyes as she gave Tru a small wave goodbye, hoping with everything she had that they could remain friends at least.
She hadn’t meant to hurt Tru, or herself. She hadn’t meant for everything to get so out of control and Buffy had no idea what the hell to do now. After clinging to the hope that Tru could fill the void inside her – pleasantly surprised that she had almost achieved it – she was now floundering once again. With her hand pressed against her chest as the cab carried her towards the bus station, Buffy let the tears tumble down her cheeks, splashing onto her tee shirt and burning her skin.
Buffy had no idea what the hell was going to happen now. Everything had changed. Her life was in disarray.