by Hayley

Title: Dealing

Rating: NC17

Pairing: Buffy/Faith

Disclaimer: These characters are not mine and I make no money off this.

Summary: Faith arrives in Sunnydale after Buffy runs away. She helps Buffy come of terms with the results of her battle with Angel, and the actions that led up to it, in order to bring her back to Sunnydale and mend her relationships there.

Chapter One

Giles hung up the phone in his office at the Sunnydale High School library, allowing a small smile to show on his face. He'd just received the best tip in the over two months of searching so he figured that small amount of happiness was worth the smile. It felt like something he'd earned.

He closed his eyes for a moment before putting his glasses on and looking out the window of his office door. His new slayer, Faith, was practicing some moves in the open space of the library. She was called when Kendra died and the Council thought it fitting that she train in Sunnydale, thinking she would learn faster from a watcher and slayer team already in existence before moving her to another location. Giles agreed, mostly because Sunnydale was currently without a slayer, something he had yet to tell the Council.

Faith had amazing concentration when she was training and during the few times they'd been out on patrol, showing Giles she more than had what it takes to be a slayer. Training and patrol was all they ever seemed to agree on though. Everything else they argued about and it was almost constant when they were together. It had been hard to adjust to living together as well, something Giles had agreed to since Faith had nowhere else to go.

Living with a teenage girl was not something he ever envisioned himself doing and Faith didn't like living with him. That much he could tell. They were managing though and were starting to get along little by little. Giles had even taken her with him on his last two trips to find Buffy.

Faith had proven invaluable on those trips, somehow quickly knowing the trips were dead ends and that Buffy wasn't where they were looking. How she knew this Giles hadn't a clue but she'd said she could just feel it and he'd learned from Buffy to trust a slayer's instincts. They were so rarely proven wrong.

Giles walked out of his office and observed Faith's practicing for a minute. She was learning quickly and for that he was grateful. He didn't want Buffy's friends to feel they needed to take her place in her absence, something they were trying despite his objections. The last few nights Faith had proven she could take over though, staking vamps with ease. The problem was it still didn't bring Buffy back and she was definitely missed.

"Ya know, Giles, if you weren't my watcher I'd be calling you a pervert right now," Faith commented as she stopped what she was doing and turned her attention to Giles. "What's the what?"

"Good news, I believe," he said, allowing another small smile. "There's been a report of a teenage girl saving a couple from a vampire attack."

Faith furrowed her brow slightly, thinking her watcher may be getting his hopes up over another dead end. The false hope was one thing she'd grown to dislike since she arrived in Sunnydale. "What makes you think this one's Buffy? Sounds like the one before last."

"This one has a description of the girl," he answered. "It matches Buffy's description. We should go right away."

"Are you gonna tell her mom or her friends about this one?" Faith asked, hoping Giles would keep a level head. Ever since she arrived in Sunnydale, she'd been around people who couldn't get over the fact Buffy wasn't there. As much as she'd love for that to be over, she didn't like seeing the looks on everyone's faces when they failed to bring her home.

"I think I'll keep this between the two of us," Giles said. "As you've pointed out, we do not know this one is her."

"Then you shouldn't get your hopes up either, G-man." Faith began to pace slightly, trying to think of the best way to handle the new information.

Giles winced slightly at the nickname but chose to ignore it. He'd noticed it was something Faith ended up doing with everyone, not just him. "I'm well aware not to do that, Faith, though I do appreciate your concern."

Neither said anything for a minute, each lost in their own thoughts, until Faith spoke. "I should go alone."

Giles simply stared at her for a moment, shocked and not knowing how she came to that conclusion. "Faith, I do not think that is a good idea."

"Why not?" Faith asked, arms crossed over her chest.

"I'm sorry but I don't feel you know what you are dealing with here." Giles tried to stay calm, knowing in the short time he'd been around Faith that she hated being challenged. Like Buffy, she wanted to do things her way. "Besides, you're a teenager and I don't believe it is a good idea for you to search for Buffy alone."

"I'm a slayer, Giles. I can handle myself just fine," Faith said, taking a step toward him. "Look, if she doesn't wanna come back she's gonna see you and walk the other way. She doesn't know me so I can find her before she has a chance to run."

"I highly doubt she would run."

Faith looked him over, noticing he wasn't all that confident in his response. "Well, she obviously doesn't want to be found or she would've come back by now. Everyone here wants her back and I can do it so again I ask: why not?"

Giles looked away from Faith and thought about the situation. She was partially right in that Buffy would probably notice him before he would see her. If that happened she could easily slip away without him noticing she was even there if that's what she wanted. It was something she wouldn't be able to do with Faith. No, his new slayer would be able to confront her before she had a chance to slip away.

He sighed. "What do you have in mind?"

Faith blinked a couple times, surprised her watcher was going along with her plan so easily. They usually fought over everything. "Not much. You tell me where this sighting is and I'll go there and look around. If I see her, I get her back here and if I don't find her in a couple days, I come back and we start over."

"Right," Giles said, nodding in agreement. "What will you say if you find her?"

Faith shrugged. "I'll think of something."

"All right, I'll go along with this but do be careful." Giles internally sighed and walked behind the counter. "And do not simply render her unconscious and drag her back."

"You're gettin' to know me pretty well, G-man," Faith laughed out. "I won't do that. I bet it's kinda hard to do that to a slayer anyway."

Giles nodded. "Well, let's get you prepared to go. It would be best if you left as soon as possible."

Faith nodded as well and followed Giles as he began to walk out of the library. Her mind was racing with what she had just set herself up to do. She was amazed that Giles trusted her enough already to find Buffy solo but she assumed it was because he was afraid that she really didn't want to return to Sunnydale. That thought stuck in Faith's head now, however, because it left her with one big problem. If she did find Buffy, what the hell was she going to say in order to get her back, especially if she didn't want to?

Faith was sick of walking. She'd been doing it almost nonstop for a day and a half and she knew she couldn't stop. She was running out of both time and money so there would be no stopping. She'd told Giles if she hadn't found Buffy by the third day she'd take the first bus back to Sunnydale and they'd consider this lead a wash. That couldn't happen in Faith's mind because then she would have failed and she didn't want her first solo mission to end in failure.

She reached into her pocket and took out the picture of Buffy Giles had given her when she left. All she got when she looked at it was that Buffy was a hot blonde so she had no idea why everyone was so depressed that she wasn't around.

When Faith was called she thought it was the best thing that ever happened to her. She was going the wrong way fast in Boston and had hoped Sunnydale would be different, a fresh start. The problem was when she got there everyone was so out of sorts about the missing slayer they didn't know what to make of her.

The experience was definitely not what she expected and had thought of bailing more than once. It felt to her that Giles was merely tolerating her until he found Buffy or until she managed to make her way back. Her friends weren't much better. She'd only met them a handful of times but each time was more uncomfortable than the next. It was though they looked at her as a replacement and Faith hated that.

That was why she felt she needed to find the other slayer. She wanted to get her back to show that she wasn't trying to replace Buffy. It wasn't even on her radar. She only wanted to do what she had been called for. The few times she'd been slaying she'd experienced such a rush and she wanted to get Buffy back so she could get on with training and slaying. Faith wanted to slay more than anything and thought it'd be amazing to get out there with another slayer.

Faith shoved the picture back in her pocket and continued walking down the block. She had hoped by now she would have gotten the feeling she'd had the last couple trips, the one that told her Buffy was nowhere to be found. Right now she wasn't getting that feeling at all but something else entirely. The problem was she hadn't found Buffy yet so she didn't know if she could trust her feelings at the moment.

She stopped and sighed before turning around. The area she was in didn't look bad but Faith knew that could change easily once night came so she didn't think about that much. She was only a few short blocks from the reported vampire attack so Buffy could easily be in the area if it was her. She turned in a circle slowly to be well aware of her surroundings, ignoring the couple stares thrown her way and breathed a sigh of relief when she realized she was standing next to a diner.

"Thank God," she mumbled as her stomach growled. It was mid afternoon and she hadn't eaten a thing since she woke up.

Faith casually walked into the small diner and took a quick look around before sliding into a booth in the corner, dumping a small backpack that had been slung over her shoulder next to her. She instantly noticed the uniforms on the waitresses and snickered, thinking she wouldn't be caught dead wearing something like that. Picking up a menu, she began to concentrate solely on what to order and ignored everything else, her stomach a priority.

"What can I get ya?"

Faith looked up and had to force her mouth not to drop. Her waitress was none other than Buffy Summers. She quickly looked down at her menu and back at her, not having the slightest idea what to say. "Uh . . . what do you suggest?"

"Anything on the menu's fine," she responded in a disinterested voice, not even looking at her.

"Okay," Faith drawled out, quickly finding something so she wouldn't sound like the bumbling idiot she was threatening to become. "Cheeseburger, fries, coke."

"Comin' right up," she said, barely acknowledging Faith at all.

Faith watched Buffy walk away before reaching into her pocket and pulling out the picture. She eyed the waitress again and unless Buffy had a twin, this waitress had to be her. Faith put the picture back in her pocket and drummed her fingers on the countertop before leaning back and stretching out in the booth.

She knew this was the opportunity she'd been looking for. This was where she would let Buffy know that she knew who she was and tell her that she needed to come home. Faith took a few minutes to observe Buffy as she worked and knew easily she didn't enjoy being a waitress. Her shoulders were slumped in what looked like defeat and she never had even an indication of a smile on her face.

Shaking her head lightly, Faith looked around the diner more. It looked like everyone there would rather be elsewhere. Most of the waitresses had the same look as Buffy in varying degrees and the customers didn't look much better. The whole place was depressing and in Faith's mind, no place for a slayer. A slayer should be out slaying vampires, not serving people food in some dive of a diner.

After a few minutes, Buffy grabbed a couple plates, one of which Faith hoped was hers as she was starving. She dropped one plate off at a table occupied by two burly and unkempt looking men before turning toward Faith's booth. One of the men smacked her right on the ass as she walked away and Faith grinned, waiting for Buffy to let loose on the jerk. To her disappointment, all Buffy did was take a breath and continue walking, setting a plate in front of Faith.

"You get that a lot?" Faith asked, hoping to get an actual response out of Buffy.

"Sometimes," Buffy said quickly. "Need anything else?"

"I'm good." Faith displayed her best grin, trying to appear friendly.

Buffy nodded and walked away, carefully avoiding the table she'd served before Faith. Faith looked at her food for a moment before eating slowly, keeping an eye on Buffy in the process. She tried not to make it obvious but she had the urge to keep her in sight at all times now that she finally tracked her down. She couldn't risk losing her.

Buffy looked over at the strangely familiar girl in her section and noticed she was still staring at her. She got a feeling from her that was making her wig out, something she'd felt since she entered the diner. It was as though the girl could see right through her and she didn't like it one bit.

She walked over to the front counter where another waitress was manning the cash register. "I'm not feeling very well. Can you cover for me?"

"Sure, honey," the older woman said, a concerned look on her face as Buffy almost rushed out the door.

Faith scowled as Buffy walked out and looked down sadly at her half eaten cheeseburger before grabbing her bag, getting up and rushing after her. The waitress behind the counter started to say something to her as she walked by but Faith slapped a ten dollar bill on the counter quickly.

"That should cover it," Faith said, already looking out the door. "I'll tip the waitress myself."

Getting out onto the sidewalk, Faith looked around fast before seeing that Buffy was almost a block away. She moved quickly, wanting to catch up with her but not wanting to look like she was stalking her either as she was sure that wouldn't end well. It didn't look like she knew Faith was following her and turned a corner with so much as a look back. Faith smiled, hoping she was gaining ground, and began to round the corner only to be immediately grabbed and pushed up against a wall.

"Why are you following me?" Buffy asked in a low, menacing voice as she scowled angrily at her.

"I'm looking for you," Faith offered, amazed at Buffy's strong slayer grip. "You bolted before I could say anything."

Buffy looked her over, trying to figure out if she knew her from Sunnydale. She didn't think so but there was still something familiar about her. "Do I know you?"

"No, but I know you," Faith said, hoping Buffy would go of her soon. She was being kept in a hold that was getting uncomfortable fast. "You're Buffy."

"I think you're looking for someone else," Buffy said, looking away from her piercing eyes.

"I don't think so," Faith said confidently. She hoped she had the upper hand her confrontation, an element of surprise. "Your name tag may say 'Anne' but you're Buffy Summers. A vampire slayer."

Buffy's eyes grew wide and she let go of her. "Who are you?"

"I'm Faith." She extended her hand. "Also a vampire slayer." Buffy only looked at her hand so Faith withdrew it and continued. "We've been looking for you."

"We?" Buffy looked up to meet Faith's eyes again.

"Yeah," Faith answered easily. She wondered what exactly was going through her head right now but from the look in her eyes, she doubted it was anything good. They looked almost panicked. "Giles and I have been looking together."

Buffy didn't know what to say at first since she didn't think anyone would be looking for her, especially her watcher. "Giles is here?"

"Nah, just me this time."

"Oh." Buffy suddenly became very serious. "This is how it's gonna be: I'm gonna walk away and you're gonna forget you even saw me."

Faith looked wide eyed for a moment as Buffy turned and began to walk away before speaking up and starting up after her. "I don't think I can do that, B."

"Try," Buffy said, not looking back but scowling at the new and unwanted nickname.

"That's not how this works. I can't just forget I saw you." Faith wanted to get her attention, maybe reason with her, but she didn't know how. "I'm not gonna start off in Sunnydale by lying to my new watcher."

"Your new watcher?" Buffy asked as she stopped and turned back.

"Yeah, I was shipped to the 'Dale to learn from you and Giles. Right now, it's just Giles."

Buffy looked away and sighed. A feeling came over her that she'd been replaced. Sunnydale didn't need her anymore and it felt like the constant weight she seemed to carry with her at all times was beginning to lighten. "Then I don't need to go back."

Watching for a moment as Buffy turned away again and began to walk down the block, Faith blurted out the last thought in her head. "Don't you miss it?"

Buffy stopped and turned back again. "What?"

"The slaying. I've only been out a few times but it's an insane rush. Don't you miss it?"

"No," she responded weakly, not even believing her own response.

"That's shit," Faith stated quickly and jogged up to Buffy as she started walking again. "How do you think we found you anyway? That was you saving a couple from a nasty vamp a couple nights back, right? It was only a few blocks from here."

Neither slayer said anything for a minute. Faith was waiting on Buffy's explanation but the other girl didn't want to give one. She didn't even want to look her in the eye. That told Faith right away that she missed her old life or at least, the slaying.

"You just couldn't look the other way, could you?" Faith moved a little closer. "Not when you knew what that thing was. You had that voice in the back of your head screaming to slay that vamp, right?"

Buffy still didn't look at her, not knowing what to say. She wanted to run from the entire situation and didn't want to keep talking to Faith. The other girl was being much too insistent for her liking and everything was moving too fast. She tried hard every day not to think about Sunnydale and didn't want it pushed at her now. She wasn't ready.

"I did it 'cause they needed help," Buffy said evenly. "Now I'm going to walk to my apartment and you're gonna walk the other way. I don't care what you have to say."

Faith scoffed as Buffy walked away again. "I don't even think you convinced yourself there." She started to follow her. "You're just gonna run from everything?" Still not getting a response, she sighed a little louder. "Where is your place?"

Buffy stopped. "Why?"

"'Cause I wanna know how long I've gotta keep chasing you."

"It's a couple blocks ahead," Buffy answered. "And you don't need to keep chasing me. You can just leave."

"Sorry, I can't." Faith gripped the strap of her small backpack. "I do need a place to stay though."

Buffy turned to Faith, disbelief on her face. "Excuse me?"

"A place to stay," Faith said, a small grin on her face as she hoped she'd thought of a way to keep an eye on Buffy while she convinced her to come home. "I'm running way low on cash. I figured I'd find you and you'd just come back with me 'cause you'd know that's the right thing to do but I guess you're not down with that. Since Giles said I can't bring ya back unconscious I'm gonna have to stick with you until you wanna go back willingly."

"You really think you could bring me back unconscious?" Buffy asked. She didn't know what to make of Faith. There was a strange feeling that tingled up and down her body now that she was around her and she figured that had to be a slayer thing. She wasn't about to bring that up though. It would keep the conversation going and all she wanted to do was leave.

Faith looked her up and down with a smirk on her face. "I wasn't sure before but now that I see you . . . yeah, I do. I thought you'd be taller."

The pair stared each other down for a minute, sizing each other up. Faith kept the smirk on her face while Buffy simply scowled. Neither wanted to give, to be the first one to show any weakness but they were on a sidewalk and while most of the people were walking around them, not all of them did. One scruffy, older man walked right into Faith, causing her to look away.

"Asshole," Faith said angrily as he passed but the man didn't respond. She quickly turned her attention back to Buffy, who she could swear was trying to fight off a smile. "So your place is where?"

Buffy sighed, defeated for now. "You can stay a night but then you can go back to Sunnydale without me."

"Fine," Faith relented, still wanting to argue her point but didn't think they should be arguing out in the open.

They walked the next couple blocks in silence, Faith keeping a step behind Buffy. She noticed first how her whole body looked depressed and how she kept her eyes down in an almost defeated way. It wasn't what Faith expected of the great Buffy Summers, the one so many missed and desperately wanted back. No, this girl was broken, more so than Faith had ever imagined.

Buffy walked into an older building and rushed up the stairs to her tiny place, feeling Faith's eyes boring into her every step of the way. She had no idea what she was doing, letting the other slayer stay with her. The only feeling she had to justify the move was that Faith probably wouldn't have taken no for an answer. Now she just needed to convince her that the best thing for everyone was that she forget she ever saw her.

"This is it?" Faith asked in disbelief as she walked into the apartment behind Buffy. It consisted of only three small rooms, including the miniscule bathroom.

"Home sweet home," Buffy remarked sarcastically as she stopped and leaned against the chipped up counter by the door.

Faith ducked her head into the other room, looking over the sparsely furnished place. She didn't know how someone wouldn't feel down on themselves, living like this after what they'd left behind. When she was younger Faith had lived in similar places and she'd always felt the way Buffy looked right now.

"I don't get it, B," Faith started as she turned to face her. "You got a great place to stay, people who care about you, a purpose all back in Sunnydale. Why are you livin' in this hole?"

"I don't have to explain myself to you." Buffy walked past her, avoiding eye contact. "I said you could stay here but I really don't wanna have that deep and meaningful talk, okay? I'm not about to share my feelings with you."

"Fine." Faith crossed her arms as she sat down in one of the two chairs in the place. She sighed quietly that the one she sat in didn't break. Neither one looked very sound. "I'll just sit here until you realize how right I am and come back with me."


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Chapter One || Chapter Two || Chapter Three || Chapter Four || Chapter Five || Chapter Six || Chapter Seven

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