Chapter Thirteen

After running out of the bar, Faith found herself wondering where she was going to go and what her next move was. There was no way that she was about to go back to the dorm and spend the night there with Buffy, but she really had nowhere else to go.

Focusing on her anger, she decided instead to patrol through the night and get her hurt out on any unsuspecting nasties that crossed her path.

Only when the moon had crossed the sky and the sun was rising in the east did she decide to make her way back to the dorm to gather a few of her things. She figured that Buffy would be out of the room and sitting through her first class by now.

As she stood outside of the dorm, she closed her eyes and focused on her Slayer senses, trying to feel if Buffy was nearby. After sensing nothing, she grabbed the key out of her pocket and nonchalantly opened up the door to their room.

She casually walked in but froze about two steps into the room when she saw Buffy walk out of the bathroom. The two Slayers locked eyes, both frozen where they stood.

Faith’s first instinct was to walk up to Buffy and give her a big hug and kiss, but then she remembered that she was supposed to be pissed off. Shaking her head a little and letting go of Buffy’s gaze, Faith mumbled, “Slayer senses, my ass,” as she walked over to her side of the room.

“Hey,” Buffy said, finally managing to find her voice. “Umm, sorry about the Slayer senses thing. I had Willow dull them for a day,” she said awkwardly.

“Cos that’s a safe thing to do,” Faith said sarcastically as she rummaged through the pile of laundry on the floor. “Take away one of the few advantages we have over the nasties. Yeah, seems perfectly fuckin logical to me.”

Buffy shook her head and sighed.

“It’s not like I had any other choice, Faith. I was looking for you for hours, and every time I’d start to feel you, you’d run off in the other direction. I thought that maybe if you thought I wasn’t here, you’d come back and we could talk.”

Faith scoffed at her words.

“Nothin to talk about, twinks. You made that perfectly clear last night.”

She continued searching through the pile of clothes, throwing a few random articles onto her bed. The only time she glanced up was to check to see what was on the bed, but she made sure to avoid looking at Buffy at any cost.

Buffy hesitantly took a few steps closer, not wanting to spook Faith and cause her to run.

“Yes, there is something to talk about. Us, Faith. We need to talk about us,” She said gently, inching closer and closer until she was finally on Faith’s side of the room.

Again, Faith scoffed.

“Apparently, there is no us, B. You tried to play like ‘us’ didn’t exist with one glance from Parker. I may be lots of things I’m not proud of, but I’ve never been anyone’s dirty little secret.” Finally, she raised her tired eyes to meet Buffy’s. “The part that kills me is that you did that to me. You made me feel that way. After all we’ve been through the last few days, I . . . you . . . oh, fuck this.”

Faith shook her head and broke her gaze away from Buffy’s before angrily stomping to her closet and getting a duffel bag.

She made her way back to her bed where she proceeded to shove the clothes she had hastily thrown there into the bag.

Buffy, who had remained silent through Faith’s little rant, suddenly found her voice again. She realized that Faith was about to run. Maybe not to another town, but definitely as far away from her as she could get without shirking her responsibilities.

“What are you doing?” She asked quietly.

“What does it look like I’m doin?” Faith snapped. “I’m leavin. Ain’t it obvious?”

Buffy did her best to hold back the tears that were threatening to fall. They were burning her throat, but she was still able to speak shakily.

“Why? Where?”

Faith chuckled bitterly, still avoiding Buffy’s tearful gaze.

“Why? Cos I can’t stay here with you, B. I’m too pissed off right now and if I stay, I’ll probably say somethin stupid or make ya cry. Where? Fucked if I know. Anywhere with a couch for me to crash on. You weren’t the only one who didn’t sleep last night.”

Buffy went to take a step closer but stopped when she saw Faith tense up.

“You can stay here, you know. This is your room, too.”

“I already told ya, I’m not gonna stand around here and argue with ya all day. I need to sleep and I can’t do that if you’re busy yappin’ and playin Miss Self-Righteous all day long.”

Buffy looked down at her feet, not knowing exactly how to respond. At that point, she knew that she had hurt Faith pretty badly and that her walls were back up as a result. From experience, she knew that Faith needed some time to simmer down and mellow out.

Still, she didn’t want the girl to slip through her fingers and out of her grasp completely.

“Well, there’s no sense in you leaving right now,” Buffy began. “I have to go to class, then I have to go to the computer lab to do some more work. If you’re not going to your classes, you can stay as long as you like . . . I’ll try to make myself scarce until I get back from patrol tonight.”

Faith felt like she should reject the offer or put up more of a fight, but her endless hours of slaying and her lack of sleep were finally catching up to her.

After a minute of thinking it over, Faith finally spoke.

“Whatever. I’ll be gone by the time you get back tonight.”

Silence filled the room as Faith cleared off her bed and arranged the rest of her laundry and as Buffy finished getting ready for class.

Just as Buffy was putting on her jacket, she turned to Faith, not wanting to leave without saying goodbye.

“So . . . I’m gonna go to class now. Is there, I mean . . . are you gonna come slaying with me tonight?” She asked sheepishly.

Faith chuckled.

“I’m not sure you really wanna be around me and weapons right now.” She glanced up and saw the hurt expression on Buffy’s face and instantly felt a pang of guilt. “Fuck, I didn’t mean it like that. I . . see what I mean, Buffy? This is why I can’t be around ya right now. I’m not petty enough to actually want to hurt you that way.”

Without saying another word, she laid down on her bed and pulled the comforter up over her body. She wasn’t exactly sure what Buffy was doing because her back was towards her, but she knew that she was still standing there.

When she heard footsteps across the room, she just assumed that Buffy was walking towards the door. However, she found that she was wrong as she felt the mattress sink down a little bit behind her.

Buffy hovered above her, one knee on the bed and one hand atop the comforter on the small of her back.

She leaned over so that she could watch Faith’s face as she whispered to the girl.

“Regardless of what you think, there is an us to talk about. I love you, Faith. I meant it when I said it, and nothing’s gonna change that. I’m sorry if I hurt you. I was stupid. But please . . . don’t shut me out. Please.”

With her peace spoken, she leaned in and placed a soft kiss on Faith’s cheek, letting her lips linger for a moment before pulling away. Faith didn’t respond in any manner. She simply remained completely still and quiet.

Buffy gathered the rest of her things and silently made her way out of the room.

When Faith heard the door shut, she exhaled the breath that she’d been holding. She inhaled shakily, her resolve coming undone a little at the memory of Buffy’s words and of the scent of her shampoo that still lingered on the pillow.

“I love ya too, B,” she mumbled, tasting the tears that she’d been holding back spill down her throat. “Fuck,” she exclaimed, burying her face deep into the pillow.

The day had gone by fairly quick for Buffy. Before she knew it, her classes were over and she found herself staring blankly at the monitor in front of her at the computer lab.

She realized that it was pointless to even try to do any kind of school work. Her mind was elsewhere. Wondering if Faith was still at the room; wondering if she had moved her stuff out; wondering where she would stay the night; wondering what the future held for them.

It took a lot of willpower to stay in the plastic computer chair, seeing as that her body was willing her to run back to her dorm as quickly as her legs could take her and apologize to Faith. To make things better.

Over and over, she played the events of the previous night in her head. Feeling safe and warm in Faith’s arms. Shivering every time Faith whispered ‘I love ya’ in her ear. Nestling further back into her warm embrace and loving every minute of it. Looking up and seeing Parker walk in. Remembering how he’d held her similarly. Remembering how badly that situation had ended up. Starting to feel slightly claustrophobic as she recalled the events with him. Suddenly needing room to breathe. The hurt look on Faith’s face. Her own random babbling about what a jerk Parker was. Rejecting Faith’s offer of body contact but not being able to tell her why she couldn’t be held at that moment. Watching Faith walk away with unshed tears in her eyes.

Buffy had stood there frozen after Faith had walked out. She wasn’t sure if the whole thing had actually happened or if her mind was playing some sort of sick game on her. Only when she heard Willow calling her name and felt Tara’s small hand on her shoulder did she realize how badly she’d screwed up.

In the span of a few minutes, she had totally rejected Faith and let her walk away mad and hurt. Big mistake, especially seeing as that Faith already had her own intimacy issues. With the virtual slap-in-the-face like she’d received, Buffy knew that it was going to be hard to convince Faith that she was truly sorry.

Blinking back the tears in her eyes, Buffy grabbed her opened books from the desk and stuffed them arbitrarily into her backpack. She wasn’t sure where she was going, but sitting and staring at the computer screen was completely pointless.

Remembering that she’d told Faith she would stay out of the room until after slaying that night, she decided that she’d just wander around campus for a while and perhaps get something to eat. In all honesty, she wasn’t hungry. Her nervous stomach churned a little more angrily when she thought of food. But if she was slaying alone that night, she’d need all the energy she could muster.

Walking in a semi-daze out of the computer lab, Buffy didn’t hear her name being called until she felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned around to find Willow standing behind her, a concerned look on her face.

“Hey, Buff. Are you alright?” The Willow asked, her hand still on Buffy’s shoulder.

“Yean. Fine. Great. Fantastic,” she answered with a fake smile. Upon seeing the look of doubt on Willow’s face, she continued. “I’m miserable. Thanks for asking.”

Willow frowned.

“So, things are bad I take it.”

They began walking slowly, no particular destination in mind.

“Well, they’re definitely not of the good,” Buffy answered.

“So, you got to talk to Faith then?”

Buffy chuckled, trying to hide the hurt she was feeling.

“I guess you can call it talking. She was bitter. I was repent-y.” She paused, looking down at the ground. “She’s leaving.”

Willow’s eyes grew wide.

“What do you mean, leaving? Like, leaving school? ‘Cause that would be bad. She’s finally pulling her life together, and she’s doing well, and she has a job, and we all love her now, and . . .”

“Will!” Buffy cut her babbling short. “She’s not leaving school. She’s leaving me. Or, our room anyway. She came in this morning because she didn’t think I was there. I tried to apologize . . . but she’s really hurt. I think she was planning on leaving right then and there ‘cause she started packing some of her stuff in a duffel bag, but I convinced her to stay and sleep. Guess she’s gonna be gone by tonight.”

Willow remained silent, not quite knowing exactly what to say to comfort her friend. She had only gotten to know Faith better since they‘d started college, and in that short time, she got to know her well enough to know that the she was likely more hurt than she had ever been. Having her love thrown back in her face the first time she decided to freely give it away must’ve stung more than words could describe.

Buffy sighed and continued.

“I really fucked up this time, Will. If I would’ve known that I was going to lose my best friend . . . erghh . . . one of my best friends over this challenge, I never would’ve let it happen in the first place.”

“But do you regret it? What happened with Faith, I mean. Do you regret getting so close with her?”

A small smile graced Buffy’s face as she thought about her answer. She lifted her head and looked at Willow, pure honesty behind her eyes.

“No. I don’t regret that part at all,” she softly began. “Behind closed doors, she’s sweet and kind and entertaining and endearing, and just completely amazing. Everything I’ve always wanted in a guy.”

She turned her head away from Willow and cocked it to the side a little, a pensive look on her face.

“Buff, here’s something for you to consider. If you love her and she’s everything you want in a man . . . maybe she could be everything you want in a woman too. Just some food for thought.”

Silence filled the air between the two girls again as they continued their slow walk. After a few minutes, Willow watched as Buffy stopped walking and a look of realization came across her face.

“You’re right. She is what I want in a woman. In a man. In a lover. In anything. She’s what I want, point blank.” She glanced up at the redhead. “Willow, will you . . . can you help me fix this?”

Willow gave her a huge grin.

“Of course, Buff. That’s what I’m here for. Maybe we should go back to your room and see if we can talk to her, I . . .”

“No!” Buffy interrupted. “I don’t want her to feel cornered or anything. Plus, I said I’d keep away. It’s probably best if I stick to what I said. Maybe I can just come to your room until I have to go slaying tonight?” She asked hopefully.

Willow nodded.

“Sure, that’s a good idea. Maybe we can start working on a plan. Ooh! I’ve got it! We can ask her to come with all of us to the Bronze tomorrow for Tara’s birthday. Even if she’s mad at you, she still loves Tara. She’ll go just to make her happy.”

Buffy put on a big smile.

“That sounds like it just might work. We’ll have to let Tara in on the plan too.”

“Now’s as good a time as any,” Willow finished as she linked her arm with Buffy’s and they headed off towards her and Tara’s room.

“Thanks for lettin me crash here, Tare-bear. You’re a real sweetheart, yunno that? Red’s a lucky girl to have ya,” Faith said as she set up the spare bed for herself in Willow and Tara’s room.

Tara smiled.

“You know you’re always welcome here Faith. You can stay here until you and Buffy work things out,” she said, trying to gauge Faith’s feelings on the matter.

Faith chuckled, trying not to let her bitterness come through. The last thing she wanted to do was upset Tara when all she was doing was trying to be a good friend.

“Yeah, about that. I don’t what’s gonna happen. I don’t handle rejection well, and I think it’s fair to say that last night was choc full of rejection-y goodness. Or badness. Whatever. I’m not gonna go crawlin back on my hands and knees, cos it wasn’t me who screwed up this time.”

Tara sat down on her bed and watched Faith as she tried to busy herself.

“Faith, Buffy screwed up. I think she knew that the minute you walked out of the bar last night. She went looking for you for hours, but you kept running from her. She even went so far as to have Willow block your bond so that you wouldn’t run away from her. All she wants to do is apologize and make things right. If you won’t even give her a chance to prove how sorry she is, then you can’t keep playing the innocent card.”

Faith stopped what she was doing and sat down on the spare bed opposite of Tara. She played with her fingernails for a minute before finally glancing up to meet her eyes.

“T, I want you to close your eyes for a sec and imagine something.” She watched as Tara closed her eyes without hesitation and waited patiently.

“Okay, imagine this: you and Red finally get together after bein’ real close for a long time. You both love each other, and you’ve both told each other that. Your relationship is goin’ great, the sex is fuckin mind-blowin . . . everything seems like a dream. But there’s always this white elephant in the room between the two of ya. Either fear of people’s reactions to your relationship or the lingering ex or the threat of someone or something comin’ between the two of ya. Now, I want you to imagine that one of those things happen, and that Red turns her back on you. How do ya feel now?”

Tara opened her eyes and gave Faith a sympathetic smile before crossing the small distance and sitting next to the girl.

“Faith . . . I think you’re forgetting that something like that did happen to Willow and I.” Faith gave her a questioning glance, so she continued. “Oz. Do you remember when Oz came back to town and tried to reclaim Willow?”

Faith’s eyes got wider when the memory hit her. Tara continued.

“Willow and I were so new at that point. I loved her and she loved me too, but suddenly the one and only love of her life walked back into the picture and, understandably, she was a little confused. I had almost convinced myself that it was a losing battle for me. How could I compete with years of their love? But, you know what? I didn’t get too nervous.”

Faith chuckled.

“Yeah, until wolf-boy was chasin’ ya across campus.”

Tara smiled at Faith and covered her hand with her own.

“Yeah, that part made me a little uneasy. But I never truly doubted Willow for a minute, because I knew that deep down, she loved me. She had let go of her past long before Oz ever came back. As expected, her past haunted her for a little bit with the appearance of an old ghost . . . but I had faith in her.”

Faith looked down at their joined hands and sighed.

“Yeah, but that’s the thing, Tare-bear. You and Red were working on the love thing for a while. Me and B? It’s about two days old. Even worse: it’s part of a fuckin challenge. How am I supposed to know if what she’s feelin’ and what she’s sayin’ is real?”

Tara smiled gently.

“You’re not supposed to know it; you’re supposed to feel it. Faith, do you love Buffy?”

Faith didn’t hesitate to quietly respond,

“Yeah . . . with all that I am. But I don’t know if that’s enough for her.”

Tara pulled Faith closer to her and into a gentle embrace.

“Well, you need to let her decide that, and you need to have some faith in her. Just . . . give her a chance. What more harm could it do?”

Faith smiled deviously before standing up and twirling Tara around in a circle.

“You’re so smart, Tare-bear. What would I do without you?” She joked, trying to lighten the mood a little.

“Well, for starters, you’d probably look a little silly spinning by yourself.”

After a moment or two, Faith finally stopped spinning and let Tara down. They talked quietly for a few more minutes before they heard voices in the corridor and the sound of the door opening.

Buffy and Willow walked into the room arm-in-arm but froze instantly when the saw Faith standing there.

“Faith!” Willow shouted, startled. “I’m sorry, I forgot to reverse the spell from last night.”

Faith’s eyes remained locked with Buffy’s as she replied,

“Don’t worry ‘bout it, Red. It’ll wear off by tonight, right?”

Willow looked nervously between Faith and Buffy before answering.

“Umm, yeah. Twenty-four hours.”

“No problem then,” Faith said as she finally tore her gaze from Buffy and started busying herself by her duffle bag again.

Buffy and Willow intently watched Faith. Willow tore her eyes away to give Tara a questioning glance.

Tara, ever the peacekeeper, decided to get things moving.

“You’re just on time, Willow. We have Wicca group in ten minutes. Are you ready to go?” She raised her eyebrows and stared intently at Willow, hoping to convince her to play along.

There was no Wicca group that day. In fact, they didn’t even belong to it anymore. Tara just wanted to give the two Slayers a chance to talk.

“Oh . . . right. Wicca group. We’d better go then.”

Tara walked towards the door and grabbed Willow’s hand on the way, exiting the room before either of the Slayers could protest.

After a few moments of awkward silence, Buffy finally decided to make an effort.

“Hi, Faith.”

“B,” Faith acknowledged.

“So, you’re staying here then?”


“For how long?” Buffy asked, perching herself on Willow and Tara’s bed.

“’Til something better comes along,” Faith answered, instantly regretting how bitter the words seemed as they left her mouth. “Uhh, that’s not what I mean. I . . .”

“No, it’s okay,” Buffy answered. “You’re upset. I get that, and I totally understand. But there’s something that I want you to understand too.”

Faith stopped what she was doing and turned to Buffy, looking the girl in the eyes. Instantly, she felt her resolve melting away.

“Oh yeah? What’s that?”

Buffy stood up and nervously approached Faith, looking for signs that she was going to run. Receiving none, she walked up so that she was only about a foot away from her. She tentatively took Faith’s hands in her own and ran her thumbs over her soft skin.

“I want you to understand that I’m sorry. Really and truly. That I love you. And that I’m not going to let you go without a fight. I can’t . . . no, I won’t see my life without you.”

Faith stared into Buffy’s green eyes that were wet with unshed tears. She tried to inhale deeply, but her breath hitched in her throat. Her emotions were overwhelming her.

“So, what do we do, B?” She asked with a shaky voice.

Buffy smiled.

“Well, we start off simple for now. You stay here tonight, and I’ll patrol alone.”

Faith felt her heart drop a little at Buffy’s response, but Buffy continued.

“And then tomorrow, I’d like you to be my date for Tara’s birthday party at the Bronze. We’re all going . . . my Mom, Xander and Anya, Giles . . .”

“Giles is gonna be there?” Faith interrupted. That was a big deal. If Buffy was comfortable with Giles finding out about their relationship, then she was obviously serious when she said that she wanted to be together.

“Yep. So . . . what do you think? Will you be my date?” She asked with a nervous smile, loving the fact that Faith was actually letting her do this.

Faith tried not to smile, but the corners of her mouth cracked up into the teeniest of grins.

“You’ve got yourself a date.”

Buffy beamed at Faith’s response.

“You won’t be sorry. I promise. I’ll pick you up tomorrow at 8:00.”

She let go of Faith’s hands and started to walk towards the door but stopped halfway across the room. Seeing as that Faith had been so understanding and willing to listen, she decided to push the envelope just a little further.

Hesitantly, she turned around and walked back towards Faith. She put her right hand on Faith’s cheek before leaning up and placing a feather-light kiss on her lips.

She pulled back to stare into Faith’s deep brown eyes. After flashing a small and gentle smile, she pulled back all the way and walked to the door, stealing only one backward glance before walking out and closing the door behind her.

Faith couldn’t help but smile as she brought her fingers up to her lips and pressed gently against them like Buffy just had.

“I think I understand now, B,” she said quietly.

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