One Day I'll Find You

Chapter Eight

Feeling like somebody had used her head for baseball practice, Buffy tentatively opened her eyes. She was lying on something soft with what seemed to be cushions propping her up just a little, so her head wasn't resting too heavily on anything. As her surroundings came into focus, she breathed a sigh of relief. She was in Giles' apartment, on his sofa. It took a minute for her to figure out how she got there, but she had a faint memory of being carried. Carried by Tru of all people.

Lifting her hand slowly to feel at the back of her head, Buffy had a hard time working out what was going on. Tru didn't know Giles and certainly didn't know where his apartment was. She winced as she felt the bump and dried blood in her hair at the back of her head and felt a little queasy. Buffy hated being knocked out, it was almost as un-fun as a bad hangover.

She tried to lift her head a little way to see where Giles and Tru were, but moving didn't seem to be a good option as her head pounded in protest.

“Tru?” she called out, the sound of her own voice vibrating through her skull and making everything that much worse.

“See, she's calling me Tru again,” a voice said, filtering towards Buffy from behind her. It sounded like Tru, only different.

“I see,” Giles said softly as it appeared they were moving over to the couch and closer to Buffy. “The blow to her head must have been very hard.”

“Hard enough to think I'm someone else? It's not like I'm Joe Nobody.”

“It is worrying, but we'll see how she is now that she's coming round again,” Giles mumbled.

Buffy furrowed her brow, feeling agitated that they were talking about her, and agitated that Tru was talking to Giles as if she knew him. And why did she say Buffy thought she was somebody else? Her head was hurting more, and her questions soon became academic as Giles came into view, followed quite clearly by Faith and not Tru - all the black clothing and heavy eyeliner gave her away easily. Buffy felt suddenly panicky, her mouth drying up and heart starting to thud much too loudly in her chest.

“Faith!” Buffy exclaimed through gritted teeth, her mind racing at a hundred miles an hour and making her dizzy again.

“Ah, well, it seems there's no lasting damage,” Giles said unnecessarily cheerily given the circumstances.

“What the hell's going on?” Buffy asked, forcing herself to sit up a little way as her eyes stayed firmly fixed on Faith.

“No need to get irritable, Buffy,” Giles assured as he gingerly perched on the table next to the couch. “Faith found you unconscious and brought you here to me. We were worried we'd have to take you to the hospital. How are you feeling?”

He looked at Buffy with concern and she felt suddenly silly for feeling all panicky. Nobody else was panicking.

“I'm. . .what's she doing here?” Buffy asked, interrupting herself.

“Well, for one thing she was rescuing you from whatever God awful fate that could have befallen you while lying unconscious in a graveyard,” Giles pointed out a little tersely.

Buffy had the good grace to blush just a bit. If it hadn't been for Faith anything could have happened to her, and it had been her own stupid fault for being caught by surprise in the first place.

Faith sat down heavily on a chair near the couch and held her jaw firm, her eyes drifting from Buffy to Giles and making Buffy feel uncomfortable. She wasn't ready to be face to face with Faith again. Things were too. . .weird. Too different. And she couldn't believe she'd mistaken Faith for Tru. How was she going to explain that? She didn't know, and thinking too much about it was beginning to give her a peculiar sensation in her stomach.

“Ok, so she helped me get here,” Buffy conceded. “But what's she doing in Sunnydale?”

She knew she could have asked Faith that question instead of firing her questions at Giles, but actually talking to Faith was a little daunting now she was armed with all the knowledge of how she'd always felt about her. The last time she'd laid eyes on Faith was in her dream, and the memory of that was causing her heart to skip around and her hands to verge on trembling. This was too soon. She wasn't ready to deal with Faith in the actual flesh.

“Released,” Faith muttered. “Good behaviour and overcrowding or some shit.”

She looked into Buffy's eyes as she spoke, and Buffy felt the need to look away. She'd grown used to Tru's eyes – so like Faith's, yet so much more open and warm. Seeing the real-deal was unnerving and reminded her why she'd never been able to get to grips with the way Faith had always made her feel. Faith wasn't open like Tru, she was a mountain of walls to climb.

“They've released her a little earlier,” Giles clarified. “She's done very well in prison and I put myself forward as a contact for when she came out. It also seems that the Mayor left Faith some property in his will so Sunnydale is in fact her home. Now, can I examine your head or shall we continue this line of questioning until you're fully satisfied that you've made Faith feel as unwelcome as possible?”

He looked sternly at Buffy – every bit the father figure. Buffy nodded and allowed him to reach around to check the bump on her head. She had a thousand more questions, but it was obvious that Giles was batting for team Faith right now so she kept quiet.

“The bleeding has stopped but you're probably concussed, which is no doubt why you kept getting Faith confused with somebody else,” Giles said, handing Buffy a drink and some painkillers.

“It was. . .I thought. . .” Buffy stuttered, unable to explain herself - feeling rather embarrassed and silly for mixing them up.

“Take those and rest a little while longer,” Giles instructed.

He got up from his perch on the table and made his way into the kitchen, out of sight, leaving Buffy alone with Faith.

“I'm not gonna hurt you, or anybody,” Faith mumbled after a moment of awkward silence.

Buffy swallowed her painkillers uneasily and regarded Faith, looking at her clothes, her hair, her posture as she sat fiddling with her lighter nervously. She never equated Faith with nerves, but she was clearly nervous now. She was also just as stunning, just as beautiful as ever – if not more. Buffy tried not to notice, but it was hard not to. It always had been hard.

“So you're. . .magically reformed?” Buffy asked, trying to keep the scorn from her voice – not wanting to fall back on old habits so quickly. Not after the regret she felt after their last meeting.

“Nah, took a lot of work. No magic involved,” Faith answered, flicking her lighter on and off.

“And you've reformed into an arsonist?” Buffy questioned with a raised eyebrow as she watched the flame from Faith's lighter dance and burn.

Faith chuckled and shook her head, leaning forward to place the lighter on the coffee table between them both.

“Officially, I was only in for assault so arson wouldn't be one of those things they let you out on good behaviour for I'm guessing,” Faith said with a slight grin. “Took some classes to control my anger and. . .I'm getting that you don't want me here, B. Not gonna hope for anything more, but I'm not about to fuck with you again.”

Buffy glanced away, trying to deal with all the conflicting emotions and feelings that were raging around inside her. She was clearly giving off the vibe that she didn't want Faith around, and she honestly felt that to some extent, but she also felt a whole load of other things that she hadn't wanted to deal with so unexpectedly.

“It's not. . .that. I'm just. . .” Buffy tried to get her mind to work, and her mouth. “Last time we saw each other I knew you'd already hurt me all you could, so I'm not automatically thinking you're here to do anything. . .bad. But I don't get why you'd come here at all. I mean, why here, Faith?”

She wanted to add “why now?” but didn't. She could do without Faith strolling back into her life just when she was attempting to do everything she could to not think of her. It was a complication she didn't want, no matter how much just looking at Faith - just sitting close to her – was making her insides squirm in ways she'd always been able to ignore before. There was no ignoring it now, even if the overwhelming feeling was still of mistrust and anger.

“Nowhere else to go,” Faith said quietly, looking down at her hands as she now sat perched on the edge of her seat, elbows resting on her knees. “Besides, still got my place here, and some stuff. And I've got a lot of things to make up for.”

Buffy nodded slowly, trying to understand. She couldn't quite believe Faith was there; right there in front of her – her long dark hair all wavy and perfect, body all toned and wrapped in leather and denim. She felt like crying, like screaming, like running away and leaving behind what she felt.

It was only a short time ago that she'd admitted to once actually being in love with Faith, and she could feel the burn of it in her chest; the remains of it scorching her and making her confused and achey. She didn't want that feeling. She'd moved on from it and didn't want to revisit the past – of hurt and pain, of fighting and betrayal.

“You shouldn't have come back,” Buffy said, feeling the tears falling from her eyes before she could stop them.

“I know,” Faith responded softly, looking up at Buffy.

Buffy could see tears wanting to fall from Faith's eyes but they didn't drop. Faith didn't allow them to drop. She looked down again and Buffy felt her heart squeeze and her head pound. It was all too much. Seeing Faith so soon after realising what she'd felt, after meeting Tru and hoping to start something good – something safe – with her, after knowing that everything could have been so different. . .was a whole load of trouble she didn't want to get involved with. Things could only turn out bad; they always had.

“I guess I should tell you I'll leave,” Faith finally continued, looking once again at Buffy; her dark eyes pulling Buffy deep into them. “But I can't. It's bigger than you and me, B. I gotta make things right, and I can't do that anywhere else but here. I'm sorry.”

Her voice was so soft, her usual cockiness giving way to something gentler as she apologised.

Buffy felt more tears fall, remembering what she'd said about Faith apologising and feeling the regret of it pinching at her. She could hear how sorry Faith was, and it stung, it marked her. She couldn't ignore how truthful she sounded. It didn't change the basic fact that Buffy didn't think they could ever really be anything but enemies, however.

“I can't trust you, Faith,” Buffy said, wiping at her nose.

She felt like a lover that had been cheated on or hurt by her partner. She felt like Faith had always been more to her, and that's why it was so difficult. That's why it burned inside her heart – a heart that obviously still remembered how it felt to be in love with Faith. It's why she couldn't make sense of what she was feeling and how she should be reacting. And somehow, she sensed that Faith knew it. Looking into Faith's eyes she saw that hint of recognition that she'd always turned away from in the past. Buffy doubted Faith knew exactly how much she had once felt for her, but she could tell Faith knew some of it. It had to be fairly obvious and that made Buffy feel even more uncomfortable and unsure. She felt exposed.

“I don't expect you to trust me, B,” Faith said. “But that's not gonna make me turn and run. I'm here for the long haul.”

She sounded firmer now, intent on doing what she knew she needed to, despite what Buffy thought. It was kind of noble, though Buffy didn't want to admit that.

Before either of them could say any more, Giles re-entered the room.

“When you're feeling ready I'll take you home, Buffy,” he told her. “Unless you're still feeling dizzy, in which case it's probably better you stay here. Faith's apartment isn't ready quite yet so she's also staying here tonight, but I'm sure we could squeeze you in.”

Buffy felt the panic begin to rise within herself again. She didn't want to stay that close to Faith. Not now. It would be far too hard to do, for many different reasons.

“No, I'll go,” Buffy said quickly.

“Right then, I'll just. . .” Giles looked down at his robe and slippers, “get changed and be right with you.”

“Don't sweat it, G,” Faith said, standing up from her seat. “I can take her.”

Buffy's eyes went a little wide. She wasn't sure being stuck with Faith in a confined space was any kind of a good idea.

Giles looked towards Buffy and she could tell that he expected her to agree. That he expected her to do the right thing and give Faith the chance he so obviously already had. She didn't know why he was so trusting of her, but she knew he wasn't stupid. Giles was a very astute man, and she trusted him. . .so she had no choice but to nod her head and accept that maybe he knew more about Faith than she did right now.

Buffy moved from the couch, trying to keep her head as still as possible so it wouldn't hurt quite so much. Faith lingered nearby, momentarily looking like she was going to offer Buffy a hand before changing her mind and backing off. Buffy was glad; physical contact with Faith wasn't what she needed right now. It would only serve to make her head spin and it was spinning quite enough already.

She thanked Giles and then followed as Faith lead her to Giles' car. Her gaze instinctively wandered to Faith's backside and she rolled her eyes - she was so predictable.

“Do you even have a license?” Buffy asked as she climbed into the passenger side, pushing off a map and an old Starbucks paper cup from the seat.

“What do ya take me for? A criminal?” Faith replied with a smirk. “I got it in jail, amongst other stuff.”

Buffy nodded and pushed her seatbelt into the slot just as Faith did the same. In the cramped confines of the small car it meant the backs of their hands brushed against each other, and Buffy didn't know who jumped more, her or Faith.

“Sorry,” Faith mumbled, but she didn't move her hand and neither did Buffy.

The quiet was almost unbearable, as was the warm feel of skin on skin, of memories passing between them and tingles that didn't really have anything to do with their slayer connection. Buffy eventually slowly moved her hand away, feeling the heat of Faith's skin burning her, mocking her, daring her to enjoy it.

She licked her lips and fought back the flood of memories that rushed through her just from the slight contact. It had been so long since they'd last touched. Most of their touches had been sparring or fighting. . .but one of their last had been when Buffy had taken Faith's hand in her own in order to run from the council henchmen. It'd been instinct, and she'd tried to forget about it but that simple touch had haunted her ever since.

“You still live at the college dorms right?” Faith asked, breaking the uncomfortable silence that had started to hang around them.

“Yeah,” Buffy replied, trying to stop her inner-panic from possessing her again.

Faith started the car and they were quickly on their way. Buffy tried not to look in Faith's direction, but kept glancing over at her, just at the same times that Faith glanced back.

“This is awkward huh?” Faith asked, a slight smile on her lips.

“Totally,” Buffy responded.

Silence fell around them once more as Faith drove them to Buffy's dorm building. There was so much Buffy wanted to say and ask - so much she was feeling - but she kept it all in. It was bubbling inside her, churning in her stomach and making her mind a black pit of turmoil as she looked into it and saw nothing but fear and regret.

“So, who's the Tru chick you kept calling me?” Faith asked unexpectedly after a few minutes. “You seem close to her. . .yunno, given what you were sayin' to me and stuff.”

Buffy's eyes went wide. She had a faint recollection of calling Faith Tru when she'd found her in the cemetery, but the rest of it was a blur.

“What was I saying?” Buffy asked, hoping it was nothing bad, but knowing it probably was.

“Well, after you got done kissing my neck and trying to grope me you kept telling me – or Tru I guess - that you really wanted her,” Faith explained with a mischievous grin.

Buffy's mouth fell open a little way and she blinked, trying to remember anything that had happened. All she really remembered was the feeling of being safe in Faith's arms – a strange enough occurrence in itself.

“I so didn't say that, or try to. . .touch you,” Buffy protested, feeling her cheeks getting hot.

“Whatever you say, Twinkie, but I know what I felt,” Faith assured with a wink.

It felt strangely like when they'd first met; the subtle flirting and Faith being all pushy and cocky. But so much had happened in between and Buffy wasn't sure any of it felt right.

“Maybe it was you feeling me up with me being all unconscious. I mean, you've been incarcerated all this time so you're probably all hornier than normal,” Buffy insisted, looking smug.

Faith laughed – a hearty, full on laugh that caught Buffy by surprise.

“Shit, Buffy. . .you're fuckin' funny,” Faith blurted, banging her hand on the steering wheel.

“What's so funny?” Buffy asked, feeling herself beginning to chuckle too as she tried to hide her smile.

“You think I'm gonna wait to get out of a jail full of chicks. . .to be able to feel one up?”

Buffy felt suitably embarrassed as she realised her mistake. Then she wondered if Faith had been with any girls in jail. It was a no-brainer really – Faith liked sex, so there was no doubt she would have taken advantage of her good looks in jail to get what she needed. It made Buffy feel somewhat jealous, though she knew that was crazy.

“Ok, point taken,” Buffy muttered as Faith finally stopped laughing.

“Seriously though, you were gettin' a little full on over this Tru girl. She a friend of yours or more?” Faith asked, a hint of something in her tone that Buffy couldn't quite place.

She had an idea that maybe Faith herself was jealous, but she couldn't be sure. She was almost certain now that Faith had liked her that way before, but she didn't know how deep it ran, or if she still felt that way. Buffy certainly wasn't about to ask.

“Tru's. . .my. . .” Buffy couldn't get the words out and she looked away from Faith.

It wasn't as if she didn't want to just come out and say she now had a girlfriend to Faith – to gauge her reaction as much as anything – but there was something stopping her. The fact it felt completely strange being sat with her in a car, not fighting but talking, gave Buffy cause to pause. She couldn't put her finger on how she felt – a mix of relief, anxiety, apprehension and the desire to let the past go, all rolled around inside her as she felt Faith's unique energy pulling at her once again. It wasn't easy trying to figure out how she should be acting with Faith considering how they'd left things.

“She's your girlfriend?” Faith asked, an air of amusement and a little shock to her question.

She grinned over at Buffy, her eyebrows all expressive and lively.

Buffy didn't answer. She didn't know quite how to.

“Wow,” Faith said, shaking her head. “All kindsa changes been going on around here huh.”

Fidgeting uncomfortably in her seat, Buffy tried to think of a way to deny Faith was right, or to make it sound less shocking at least, but she couldn't think of anything to say. She kept quiet, hoping they'd arrive at her dorm very soon so she could get away. So she could think.

“Giles told me about the new vamp you got helpin' out,” Faith continued when it was obvious Buffy wasn't going to talk. “And about Will and her chick – though I kinda saw that coming. He left out the part where you started muff divin' too though.”

Buffy furrowed her brow and looked towards Faith as they pulled up outside her building.

“We don't have a 'new' vamp helping out, it's Spike and he's far from actually helpful. And I haven't started. . .diving anything,” Buffy stated, fighting down the urge to blush profusely.

“Not got that far yet?” Faith asked with a lascivious grin.

“No, we only just started dating,” Buffy confessed, shocked at herself for saying it so easily.

There was a moment's silence and Buffy realised she should be leaving the car, but she wasn't moving.

Looking directly at Buffy – as Buffy did the same back, unable to pull away – Faith grinned even wider, her dimples all on show and her eyes sparkling with mischief. Buffy was momentarily captivated, her lungs fighting not to give her away as she tried to breathe without gulping down air.

“She's gotta look a helluva lot like me if you can get us mixed up so easy, so now I'm back in town. . .if you're lookin' for somebody to practice on, give me a call,” Faith said in a husky and flirty tone.

She winked, and Buffy momentarily forgot how to breathe altogether. She wanted to be outraged, but she wasn't. Still, Faith didn't need to know that.

“You wish,” Buffy responded, not quite so firmly as she'd liked.

Faith looked down, a flash of something passing her eyes that Buffy had to be quick to see. Disappointment. Buffy remembered that same look many times from Faith when she'd flirted with Buffy or made the subtlest of passes in the past. Buffy hadn't seen it back then for what it really was, but now she knew. And she knew how ignoring it had made Faith feel.

“I'm happy with what I have, Faith,” Buffy told her, trying to convince herself of the same.

“Right,” Faith responded, turning back to the steering wheel and grasping it with both hands. “I'd be too hot for you to handle anyway, Princess.”

She sounded cocky and sure, but there was something underneath that. Buffy didn't call her on it and tried not to imagine what it meant. She couldn't think of Faith that way. . .especially now that she was back.

“I've gotta go,” Buffy said, ignoring Faith's comment.

She pulled free from the seatbelt and opened the car door, turning back and giving Faith a stern look.

“Just 'cause you've done your time, and now you're back and Giles is your best friend, it doesn't make everything ok,” Buffy made clear. “We're not ok.”

Faith didn't look into Buffy's eyes for long before nodding and starting the engine again.

“The things I did,” Faith began quietly, “I'll never be able to fix, but all I'm asking is that you let me at least try to put some stuff right. Especially the shit I did to you.”

Buffy sighed, unsure about how Faith could do that, and if she even wanted her to.

“I don't know how you can, Faith,” she told her honestly, looking up and catching Faith's gaze. “But I won't get in your way if you don't get in mine.”

She needed Faith to know that forgiveness wasn't going to be easy, mainly because she didn't know if she could ever really give it. She knew now why it had all hurt so much, but that only made it sting more. It didn't make Buffy instantly believe they could suddenly figure it all out and find a way to deal with the past, and find a way to deal with each other. She couldn't be with Faith; not in the way she'd always really wanted, and the way Faith had probably always hoped for. She couldn't lie to her and give her false hope. As much as she wanted it to be easy, it wasn't going to be. Especially not now she had Tru in her life.

“Just one more thing,” Buffy said, realising that Faith would have the ability to really screw with her life again now she knew about Tru. “Nobody but Will and Dawn know about Tru, so. . .if you really want to show me you've changed you'll keep it to yourself. In fact, just forget about it altogether.”

She tried to sound a little threatening and hoped it got the message across. Not only did she not want Faith outing her to anybody, she also didn't want Faith asking too many questions and finding out who Tru really was.

Faith raised an eyebrow but nodded anyway and Buffy stepped from the car and closed the door, walking towards her dorm as Faith eventually pulled away. She stopped before the rumble of the car's engine was out of hearing range, turning and watching as it rounded the corner out of view.

“Why did you have to come back now?” she asked to the air.

No matter how hard it was going to be to forgive her – or even convince herself it was the right thing to do – she was still very attracted to Faith, and completely drawn to her. Just sitting next to her had Buffy tingling, remembering, needing. She couldn't ignore it now.

As she entered her room and threw down her keys, Buffy heard her answering machine beep. She rubbed at her brow and pressed play. It was Tru. . .sounding all happy and cheery – asking Buffy if she'd gotten home safely, telling her how much she'd enjoyed their time together, and how much she was looking forward to seeing her again.

It made Buffy sit down heavily on her bed, her body feeling weighted down as she fully understood what Faith's arrival had done. She was back to square one, and finding it hard not to think about Faith instead of Tru. It wasn't fair on Tru. It wasn't fair at all but Buffy wasn't about to give up so easily. And it wasn't as if Faith would be flinging herself at her, despite her little offer in the car – she knew that was just bravado; just Faith being Faith. For all Buffy knew she'd totally moved on and didn't want her any more. . .though Buffy had to concede that Faith's eyes gave her away every time she looked at her.

The want was still there. They both still wanted.

But now Buffy had Tru so she had to convince herself that staying away from Faith was the best thing she could do. She didn't know how possible that would be now Faith was back in Sunnydale, but she was about to find out.



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