Chapter One

I’m officially bored of these girls now. I was bored over a week ago, but they just keep coming. My house is now overrun with them and getting two minutes alone is becoming impossible. Giles says we have to give them shelter and protect them, I say let them find some other chump to put them up; we don’t have space, and I don’t have the patience for their squabbles and their constant questions.

I’ve tried my best, and even attempted to get to know them, but there’s too many now and I have to prepare for the saving of the world. . .again. The latest addition to the pack of potentials is driving us all insane. Giles calls her feisty, but most of us call her a pain in the butt. She’s been here four days and managed to annoy or upset nearly everyone, including me.

I thought Kennedy was bad with the questioning and the provoking, but this girl is seriously lacking in tact.

The other day she asked if Spike was the resident vampire for stake practice, wanting to know if it would be ok to take a shot and see if she could get it right first try. When I told her she couldn’t she asked me right out if I was screwing him. Of course, I said no. . .but not until after my jaw had hit the floor and my eyes did that threatening thing. I had no clue why she’d assumed that, I haven’t been with Spike in a long time and don’t plan to at any point in my future.

She just laughed, telling me she knew the score and that she’d keep it on the down low. I don’t want her to keep anything of mine on her down and lows, thank you very much. I told her as much and she just slapped me on the back and left the room, continuing to laugh.

It’s obvious she has no respect for authority, or at least mine. Giles doesn’t seem to have too much trouble getting her to do what he wants, but she just ignores me and the rest of the gang. Willow asked if I could have a word with her today, but whenever I try she just comes out with a smartass comment or does that twisting thing where everything you say gets turned into an innuendo. I promised Willow though because the girl is clashing with Kennedy big style, and with Kennedy being Will’s new girlfriend. . .it’s not of the good.

I can’t tell Willow that I like Kennedy even less, but I still have to try to keep the boat steady. Giles is right after all; these girls need us right now. They need each other if we’re going to survive.

I make my way around the house in search of her, stepping over kicked off shoes and discarded cups and plates, sleeping bags and blankets. I hear giggling and before I have time to move I’m being jostled aside by three girls chasing each other with a forlorn looking pillow. I just hope it isn’t mine.

Looking around doorways and into rooms full of potentials learning about beasties and baddies from Giles, Anya and Xander, I come to the conclusion she isn’t around. It makes me worry for a second because the girls aren’t meant to be going out alone. There are Bringers out there just waiting for their opportunity to strike, and the local vampire contingent has wind of fresh potential slayer blood. And I’m not even going to mention the new uber-vamp that we’ve recently been introduced to. Nope, I’ll leave him out for now, mainly because I’m still trying to work out how to kill him.

I’m about to ask if any of the girls have seen her, but then I spot movement in the back garden. I get closer to the window to take a better look. The sun is just getting ready to set, settling itself into that moment when the world looks all red and glow-y, like there’s a giant roaring fire somewhere off in the distance lighting up the sky.

Her dark hair is all straight and devoid of curls today. She’s moving her body into shapes and poses that I guess is some kind of Tai Chi. She looks calm, which is weird because since the moment she stepped through the front door she’s been anything but. I didn’t know she had it in her, but I guess I was wrong. Maybe Giles sees something I don’t; he keeps telling me she’s probably the next in line.

Watching for a few moments, subconsciously letting my body relax as if it’s mimicking hers, I marvel at the whole concept of ‘the slayer’. I mean, we’ve been around a long time. The slayer line keeps going, no matter what. I’ve seen it first hand. The night I died for Dawn - and the rest of the world - I caused Kendra to be called. We met once, but she was. . .well, she was a little weird. But still, we were both slayers, both existing together; so it was kinda neat.

We still chat on the phone now and then, and she knows what’s going down here. Her watcher is bringing her this way in the next few days to help out. I’ll be glad of the extra muscle, especially against uber-stinky-vamp. The whole thing baffles me, though. Maybe I’ve been doing it too long. I know I’ve survived longer than most slayers, and there’s never been an instance when there’s been two of us around at the same time. Things seem to have shifted, which is either good. . .or really bad.

Giles tells me not to worry. He says that hopefully - should anything happen to Kendra - the next slayer won’t be as young as I was. If it’s the ‘feisty’ girl outside then she’d be one of the oldest ever called. She’s eighteen; just a few months short of nineteen. It still seems young, but I guess I’m just getting jaded. She doesn’t act young, but I can’t tell if she’d ever make a good slayer. She seems so. . .raw; like she has too much energy inside her. She’s always joking around and purposefully irritating people. Xander says it’s her defence mechanism, but I just think he wants her hot little body.

I chuckle, imagining Anya chasing her around the garden trying to keep her away from her man. There would be a monumental battle of a tactless nature, endless jibes about sex and then possibly some mud wrestling in the flower patch.

Shaking my head free of the disturbing image I make my way to the back door. It’s time I tried to get her to step in line, or at least step somewhere near to the line so we don’t have to toss her out to fend for herself. I wouldn’t do that of course, but the thought is tempting. It would be one less girl in the queue for the bathroom at least.

“Faith,” I call, waiting for her to finish her set of moves before beckoning her over.

There’s something about her that I can’t quite work out. It’s like she has a million secrets and a thousand stories. Her dark eyes seem like they’ve crossed time and space and hold everything in the universe within them, yet I can’t see anything when she looks at me. She hides it all. She keeps us all on the outside peering in; only showing us the dimpled grin and the flirty eyebrows.

I’ve known her four days, but I have no idea who she is. I know the girl that tells jokes and says things to me to get me to blush. I know the girl that likes to jump around and cause mischief and generally make Giles’ hair turn more gray by the minute. I know the girl that has that walk that makes it seem like she’s seducing the ground beneath her feet. . .but I don’t know her. I don’t know Faith.

I do know she’s a potential, she’s rowdy and exhausting, she’s attractive and confident with it, infuriating but eager and smart, crude but sometimes kinda funny. . .and she’s shrouded in something that seems almost dangerous. When she looks at me sometimes, I feel a tingle right in the middle of my stomach. If I didn’t know any better I’d say she was some kind of weird vampire ‘cause I don’t get tingles there from anything but vampires, but she’s not. . .she’s just her. And I really don’t know what to make of her.

“Hey, B,” she says in her husky drawl, stalking her way towards me.

I don’t know who told her she could give me a nickname, but I haven’t gotten around yet to telling her to stop using it.

She stops before me, her skin glistening with a light sheen of perspiration, the tattoo on her arm looking darker with its damp cloak. It takes me a second to lift my eyes from it to hers, and I realise I’ve completely forgotten what it is I was going to say to her. A puzzled look crosses her face as I just stand gaping at her like a mounted fish.

“You need something, B?” she asks and I blink a few times, trying to remember what Willow had told me to say to her. “Maybe you need me to help you with something? Stake a vamp, gut a demon, put up a picture, rub you down?”

I shake off my daze and furrow my brow. She’s got that expression on her face that tells me she’s thinking lewd thoughts and wants to share them to embarrass me. I certainly know that much about her. She does it to most people that react, and unfortunately she seems to enjoy mostly doing it to me. I have no clue if she’s gay, straight, bi or whatever. . .but she has an uncanny way of making it seem like she’s happy to tease or seduce anybody.

She doesn’t mess with the younger girls or Dawn, she obviously has some standards, but the rest of us have been fair game to her, and now it appears like she’s decided I’m the most fun to play with. She got bored of toying with Xander’s obvious attraction to her when Anya brought up the fact she used to be a nasty vengeance demon. I don’t know what she thinks she’ll achieve with me, but I’m pretty sure it’s not what she imagines.

I can appreciate the fact she’s a very good looking girl, and I mean very in the extremely sense, but. . .I’ve never strayed across that particular line. Willow sleeps with girls, I. . .well, my bed-buddy past is shaky but there hasn’t been anybody of the female persuasion in it. Despite the way her eyes seem to be trying to rip my top off right now, I’m pretty sure it’s going to stay that way. No girls for me; especially not this one.

“I need to talk to you, Faith,” I tell her, finding a little squeak to my voice that hadn’t been there before. I ignore it and move back into the kitchen hoping she’ll follow.

“I kinda got that much, B,” she chuckles, hopping up onto the counter top. “What can I do for ya?”

I don’t know how, but she made that sound rude. I choose to pretend I didn’t hear her and poke around in the fridge for something to drink.

“Dammit, why is there never any soda left for me? This is my house, I should get first dibs,” I sigh, shoving food this way and that.

“You just don’t know how to look, princess,” Faith tells me, giving me yet another nickname.

I’m not sure if it’s a good nickname or bad. If she’s being sarcastic then I’m going with bad, and I’m so gonna be pissed.

“I’m looking with every looking skill I have, Faith. There’s no soda.” I close the fridge and watch as she jumps from the counter.

She heads towards the basement and I follow. Either she’s ignoring me and going to see Spike, or trying to show me something. She stops next to the basement door and opens an unused cupboard that’s hidden away at the side, digging around in there as I wait. I didn’t think it still opened let alone held anything of interest. With a grin, all dimples and lips, she jiggles two chilly looking bottles of soda at me.

I raise an eyebrow. She’s been here just a few days and already has a place to stash stuff? Maybe she’s not as bad as I thought. In fact, she gets a gold star today ‘cause she’s giving me one of her sodas and I really need a cool drink right now.

“Thanks,” I say, my smile genuine. “How did you. . ?”

“Thought it would come in handy to find a place to keep stuff. Lotta girls here all taking and snatching and leaving me with nothing, and nobody much comes back here on account of the vamp downstairs,” she explains, the remnants of a grin still gracing her lips .

I chuckle and shake my head. The rest of the girls won’t come back here, even Kennedy, yet Faith has no problem strolling downstairs and chatting to Spike when everybody else starts getting annoyed with her. She’s certainly. . .different.

“And you even have ice in there,” I nod appreciatively, taking the top off my ice cold soda.

“Yep, got a bucket of ice. It melts pretty quick but does the job.” She swigs half her bottle and wipes the back of her hand over her mouth. “Hope I can trust you not to give the game away, or take too many of my goodies,” she says with a wink.

I pause, wondering if I should tell her that technically whatever’s in the cupboard is actually mine due to the fact it’s in my house, but her smile leaves me without anything to say so I let it pass.

“As long as I can have the occasional bottle of soda, you’re secret’s safe with me. Just don’t tell Spike, he’s bad at keeping secrets and he can’t keep his hands off things that aren’t his,” I say a little bitterly, then take a nice long chug of my drink.

“Yeah, that’s pretty much what I heard,” she says, looking directly at me; like. . .right into my eyes. “He told me a few secrets, but don’t worry. . .they’re not going anywhere but up here.” She points to her head and there’s a mischievous bounce of her eyebrows.

I almost spit my soda right back out. He surely wouldn’t have told her about us. And I mean the past us of the icky kind that I really want to forget about. Oh God, I can just imagine him recounting the gory details with that evil grin on his face, licking his lips and gloating. I’m so gonna beat him up. . .but that might just turn him on and I’m staying far away from that little problem.

“You really shouldn’t spend time with him, Faith,” I warn. “He’s still a vampire, even if he is a little. . .incapable right now.”

“Not what I heard,” she says, her eyes roaming over me and making me shudder.

I shake the feeling, passing it off as meaning I feel gross for having to think about me and Spike. She chuckles and I narrow my eyes. Like I said before, I don’t know this girl. She’s not my friend. She’s not even somebody I would want to make my friend, so why the hell am I even talking to her? I’m done with being irritated by her for today.

“Just stay away from him, Faith,” I say sternly, thudding my half empty bottle down on the counter. I’m about to walk away and be done with the conversation when I recall my reason to even be here. “Oh, and stop winding Kennedy up, it’s getting too much. If I have to hear her tell me one more time that you’ve moved her stuff, or left her boots out or looked at her ‘funny’ then I’m gonna kick your ass.”

She nods, a little smirk drifting over her full lips. “Sure thing, boss,” she says.

I stare at her for a moment, trying to think of more to say. Trying to look past those dark eyes so I can see if she’s understood me. I see nothing but chocolate brown and a lifetime of knowing how to get her way. I know right then that she doesn’t do anything she doesn’t want to, or anything without a reason. The whole pissing everybody off deal is for a reason. . .I don’t know how I can see it but I can. I don’t know why she does it but she does.

There’s a lot to learn about Faith, and I’m not even sure if I want to go there. Why would I? She’s just another potential. Just one of the bunch. . .even if I did make sure I knew her name right away, and instantly realised her eyes were brown and her dimples were cute. She’s just one of them; getting in my way and hogging my bathroom.

“There’s a padlock in the second drawer down over there if you wanna lock your cupboard,” I say, not turning around.

I’m not sure why I told her, but I can almost feel her smile as I leave the room and go looking for my jacket. I have the urge to hunt, and there are plenty of vampires roaming around right now for me to vent on. They’re crawling out of the woodwork and trying to figure out what’s going on, and I’m right there to show them the way.

I slip on my boots and make sure my stake is happily tucked away in my jacket. I know Giles doesn’t like me going out alone right now, but I’m the slayer and that’s my duty. There may be a whole lot of messed up stuff going on, but there are still vampires to dust and demons to kill.

Glancing back towards the house as I make my way into the oncoming night, I notice a figure stood at the living room window. It’s Faith, watching me leave. She doesn’t move and she knows I’ve seen her. I stand for a moment, just looking. She unnerves me and I don’t quite yet know why. I could go with the obvious and say she’s a spy and working for the bad guys, or that she’s some kinda demon, or ex demon maybe, but I know she’s none of the above.

I feel her eyes locked on me and find it hard to pull away. Maybe a few mindless killings will make me feel less. . .strange. She turns away before I do and I feel kind of cheated. If she’s going to creep me out she could at least watch me leave properly; like all the way. I’m not even across the street yet.

Maybe she is a demon, sent to torture me before everything goes to hell with the new big bad. Maybe I need to stop thinking so much. I’m not stupid after all. . .I know what’s going on in my head. Well, maybe not my head; I think the cause is a little further down. Still, it’s throwing me for a loop and I don’t have time to deal with new feelings or experiences. I don’t have time to deal with Faith, and whatever it is she’s making me feel.

I’ll put an end to it right now. No more possibly, maybe, almost definitely thinking she’s hot and all kinds of sexy. I need to focus. She’s here for me to protect her not for me to have new and interesting thoughts about her. Suddenly feeling all gay - and not in the happy sense – is not going to get the job done, and I’m all about getting the job done.

I stride off into the darkness, sure that I can avoid any thoughts of Faith from now on. In fact, I’ll avoid her altogether and that way I get to stay safe in my straightness, and she gets to stay unaware of how smoking hot my crazy mind has us looking together all of a sudden.

* * *

When I get back from a fairly uneventful night of slayage I walk in to find all kinds of hell going on. Not of the demon kind, but of the Faith kind. I stride into the center of an argument and wait for them all to quiet down, hands on hips with my best glare in place.

“Willow, what’s going on?” I ask her as she hovers at the back of the room.

“I’m not sure. One minute it was all peaceful, well, as peaceful as it ever gets around here now. . .and then the next, Faith and Rona are squaring off against each other and the rest of them are yelling and screaming, and then I started to hiccup and came over here to sit down out of the way. And then you got here,” Willow tells me quickly, her face all bunched up in worry.

“Ok, so. . .” I look between Rona and Faith as they continue to stare threateningly at each other, “so far I get that you two are acting like nine year olds and you scared Willow into having hiccups, what I don’t get is why, so spill,” I demand.

Rona turns to me and points at Faith. “She started it,” she says.

“No I didn’t,” Faith whines, her cocky attitude all on show. “She got all up in my face.”

“Right, so you both really are nine years old and I’m gonna have to take your treats away? Seriously guys, this is pathetic,” I sigh.

I’m sick of the squabbling. I’ve had enough of that living with Dawn all her life. This is like a bad replay of one of our most childish arguments. I hold the bridge of my nose, understanding now why Giles does it so often. I just want to bang their heads together.

“Do I have to bang your heads together?” I ask, glancing between them both.

Faith is smirking but Rona looks livid.

“It’s cool, B,” Faith says in that thick accent that comes out when she’s trying to smooth things over or get her way. “It’s over now. We’re just wicked antsy having to sit around all the time. It kinda makes you itch to just get out n party or dance. . .or fuck.”

She looks right at me when she says it and I can see the heads shaking all around me at Faith’s crudeness. I don’t blush this time but I can’t turn my eyes away from hers; I know I have to tell her to behave, though.

“You won’t be going out anywhere to do any of those things for quite some time, Faith, so get used to it. We’re all in the same boat here, so stop fucking rocking it,” I caution her coldly.

Willow lets out a loud hiccup and there are a few wide eyes looking my way. I’m not known for my foul language. Buffy doesn’t swear; it’s a rule. But I need to talk to Faith on her level, and it seems the girl was born to fuck. . .I mean, to say fuck.

I take a deep breath and glare at them both to sit down and play nice. They eventually do, though Faith still has a sly little smirk on her lips.

“Come on girls, time for bed I think,” Xander says, clapping his hands to get their attention. “A good night’s rest will do us all good. . .or at least stop us from killing each other.”

Leaving the room, rubbing my head with the headache I can feel coming on, I quietly wish I was as good as Xander is with the girls. It seems to come naturally for him. Maybe it’s because he’s a guy that they rarely squabble with him. I just know he’s great at stepping in and being all in control. They see him as a gentle giant, and I see him as my rock. He’s always there for me to lean on, as long as I don’t squick him out by talking about Angel or Spike. I don’t think he likes me being around vampires much, and who can blame him.

I make my way upstairs and leave everybody to shove their way into clear spots in the living room to sleep. I still have my room to myself, and it’s going to stay that way. Dawn is sharing with two girls and Willow and Kennedy are sharing. Xander and Anya seem to be bunking down more frequently together now too. Of course, nobody goes down to share Spike’s space and that’s all good. I don’t want him near the girls. . .especially Faith.

I stretch out my tired muscles and attempt to relax as I turn the shower on, hoping I don’t get interrupted. I’m craving hot running water, and not pounding fists at the door. I’ll be quick, I know I have to be with them all hoping to run upstairs to brush their teeth and do their things before going to bed, but this is my house dammit so I’m gonna take a shower before they wreck the bathroom.

The shower does nothing to relax me, but I’m being pretty successful this time at not thinking about the brunette downstairs. I don’t know what’s got into me, but I have to get control of my mind, and my body. I can’t allow some eighteen year old tough-girl to get under my skin. It’s just wrong, and so not like me. I’ve lived a little over the past few years and Spike taught me not to be such a prude, even though that was so not a good phase for me. I won’t be making scrap books of my time with him but it did loosen me up. Still, he was most definitely male, with all the right male parts. Male parts that are suddenly making me pull an icky face.

Seriously, I have so got to ask Willow to check if I’m under some kind of spell. That’s all I can really put this down to. Sure, in the past I may – on occasion – have had a few naughty thoughts about other women; I hear it’s quite a popular fantasy, even for totally straight girls like me. But never once before have I gone all lesbot and crushed on an actual real live girl I know.

This is new, and this is not going to be allowed to continue. I have too much to do. Too much is riding on me, and not in the good way.

I leave the bathroom all steamy and hot behind me, and as I close the door to my bedroom girls start to filter up one by one to the toilet. I’m safe on this side, from them, and from Faith. I can avoid her. I’ll leave it up to Xander to deal with her outbursts and her fights from now on. I’m just here to do my job, which doesn’t involve the lusting parts that seem to be creeping up on me. Faith isn’t all that special; I can ignore those deep dark eyes and that tight little body, and those soft round. . .

Ungh! I’m under a fucking spell, I know it.

Keeping a firmer grip on my wandering thoughts I sit down at my Vanity and start brushing through my hair. It takes so much work now it’s longer, but it’s worth it; my hair is cute and shiny and that justifies the effort.

There’s a bang at my door and I seriously hope they don’t expect me to answer.

“Buffy?” Willow calls. “We um. . .we kind of need you.”

If it’s not a horde of vampires rampaging through the house she’d better duck and cover for disturbing me.

“What is it?” I snap as I open the door.

I can hear the commotion coming from downstairs and I don’t have to be told what it is. I close the door enough to grab my dressing gown from the back of it and slip it on, dropping the towel I was wearing to the floor. I’m pissed now, and they’re gonna find out what a pissed Buffy looks like.

Once again I stride into the middle of it all, my hair damp, my robe pulled tight around me, its shortness forgotten as I feel my anger boiling over.

“Ok, this time somebody is getting their ass kicked,” I yell.

The room falls silent and I spot Rona and Faith once again staring each other down, only this time it’s gotten physical as they’re still clutching at each other. They have the sense to let go as I glare at them.

“I don’t want to hear excuses, I don’t want you to get all ‘she started it’, and I don’t care what the hell it’s about, just stop. Now,” I tell them, clearly angry. “Get into your sleeping bags and sleep, and tomorrow I’m gonna start busting your asses with lotsa running around. If you all have so much energy to burn, well I’m gonna burn it. Both of you will be giving me fifty laps around the garden. . .and that’s just for starters. The rest of you will follow if you so much as squeak one more time tonight.”

I think I’ve finally flipped.

Faith opens her mouth to speak but I narrow my eyes and make it clear I’m not going to listen. She’s smart enough to know not to push. Rona on the other hand is obviously a fan of running as she utters out her objections.

“That’s so beyond unfair. Faith keeps fucking with me, saying I’ll be no match for even Dawn let alone the vampires, and I’ve had enough,” Dawn sighs in the corner and kicks at the chair. I’m sure she’s sick of being looked down on by these girls now, as much as I’m sick of listening to them, still. . .Rona stupidly continues. “And there’s no way I’m sleeping near her, she’s a nightmare,” she says, not explaining herself further.

“I wouldn’t sleep near me either,” Faith says with a grin. “As soon as you’re out I’m gonna get the cheese from the fridge and rub it in your hair. Make it all smushy and nice for ya so ya stink of cheese for at least a week.”

She seems proud of her little plan, and I wonder just what it is that causes her to be that way.

I let out a long sigh. I’m tired. I just want to get to bed and sleep. I don’t really care what it is that Faith says to them, they all need to grow up. If they can’t even ignore her pokes and jibes then they’re gonna be useless against the kind of vamp and demon that likes to get you riled up with banter before they go in for the kill.

I’m no good at this motherly thing, and Xander seems to be sitting this one out.

“Fine, you can sleep in my room, Rona. The rest of you get to bed before I make you all camp out on the street,” I say, actually believing I will.

“No, no, no,” I hear all around me, “take her.” They all point towards Faith, who just stands there looking pleased with herself with her arms folded.

They keep saying it, pleading with me to take her away from them so they can rest in peace, and I really need to tell them no but I don’t. I rest my eyes on Faith and I’m certain I can see right through the tiniest chink in her armor for just a split second. As much as she caused it, she’s pissed that they all want rid of her. Maybe even a little upset.

“Get upstairs, Faith,” I tell her, softer than I wanted to. “Seems like you’ll be sleeping in my room.”

She catches my eye for a moment and I think I almost see gratitude, but it’s quickly replaced by a smug grin as she tosses her clothes into a bag and throws it over her shoulder. She trudges up the stairs and I follow, leaving the rest of the house to settle down peacefully for the night.

I don’t feel particularly peaceful myself. How am I meant to avoid Faith and the completely unwanted thoughts about her if she’s sharing my room? I’m going to have to make a swap in the morning or go insane. This constant back and forth in my head over Faith is already making me nuts and distracting me. I almost got jumped by a lucky vamp tonight, all because I couldn’t stop thinking of Faith’s ass in leather. Much like I can’t stop now as it sways ahead of me ascending the stairs.

It’s time for me to get my own armor out because there is no way I’m going to give in to Faith and her completely unreasonable sexiness. I’m glad she hasn’t progressed – so far - from mildly teasing me into coming onto me; I don’t think I could handle that.

Hell, I know I couldn’t handle that and keep my sanity, and my vow to stay utterly and completely straight. I’ll have to avoid my thoughts, because there will be no bending of Buffy. This Buffy is unbendable.

“So, which side do ya wanna take, or are we both just gonna sleep in the middle?” Faith asks with a wink as we enter my bedroom and she jumps onto the bed.

No bending here, not at all. Not even a. . .dammit she’s hot.



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