When the sunlight from the window hit the bed, Buffy opened her eyes and tiredly looked around the room. She was confused for a moment at the light before groaning in that she forgot to set an alarm. The manager at the diner was not going to be happy she was late again. Since Faith had shown up she hadn't started or completed a shift on time. She figured she was close to losing her job.
Buffy furrowed her brow, realizing she was alone in her tiny apartment. She wondered where Faith could've gone before she smiled, noticing a note on the pillow next to her.
Buffy couldn't help but smile at the obvious confidence the other girl had. It seemed like she wasn't going to take no for an answer today. She sat up and looked around the room, immediately noticing the clothes she had lying around the room were gone then looked to the door to see her bags packed save for a shirt and a pair of jeans. Her waitressing uniform was nowhere to be seen and Buffy knew Faith had done that on purpose. She obviously didn't want her going to work today.
As she got up, the door opened quietly and Faith walked in, balancing two cups of coffee and a bag. She set everything on the counter before turning to notice Buffy was awake.
"Good morning," Faith said, a small smile on her face.
"Good morning," Buffy said back, standing up and walking to meet Faith halfway.
Faith grinned as Buffy reached her and leaned in, kissing her gently. The fact that Buffy responded immediately made Faith happier than she could remember. It made what happened the night before all the more real in her eyes. Now she felt that Buffy wouldn't take back anything and that she wouldn't think anything that happened last night was a mistake.
When they broke away, Faith's grin was still there. "I got up early and shut off your alarm. Thought you could use some sleep 'cause I was getting the impression you weren't having any nightmares."
"Yeah, I wasn't," Buffy said, realizing for the first time Faith was right. She'd slept through the night nightmare-free. "You realize you're made me late for work."
"Oh, I took care of that." Faith winked at her playfully. "After I got our tickets I went to the diner to pick up breakfast . . . and drop off your uniform."
"You quit for me?"
"I couldn't exactly wait for you to do it," Faith answered. "You never would've and we need to get back. Giles is waiting for me to report in and if I keep stalling he'll come here himself."
"What if I'm not ready?" Buffy asked, looking away from her.
Faith placed a hand on her chin gently, making her look at her. She'd hoped Buffy would be getting some of her confidence back now that she'd shared why she'd left Sunnydale but that didn't look to be happening. "You are, B. And I'll be with you every step of the way."
Buffy nodded and took a step back. "Can I ask you a question? No getting mad?"
"Why would I get mad?"
"Look, I need to ask something and you only need to say no. It'll help." Buffy scrunched up her face in frustration, not knowing how to say what she wanted without insulting Faith. She didn't want to get her angry after everything.
"Ask away," Faith said, grinning at the look on Buffy's face. She looked too cute.
"Was everything that . . . happened . . . just a way to get me to go back?" Buffy asked nervously.
Faith wanted to be angry at the implication but the look on Buffy's face stopped her. She knew the other girl was trying to tell herself that the fooling around they'd done wasn't a fluke and that Faith wasn't doing what she was in order to get her to come home. Of course, she would've never thought about using that tactic anyway. She'd had no intention of falling for the person she'd been looking for.
She took a step toward Buffy again and carefully took her face in her hands. "B, I would never do that. I mean, there was a time . . ." Faith stopped, knowing immediately she was about to say the wrong thing. "I really like ya, Buffy."
"Okay," Buffy almost whispered, not able to look away from Faith's eyes. It was like she could see everything in them and she was more than okay with that right now. "I like you, too."
Faith knew Buffy was probably expecting a kiss right about now but she wanted to keep her guessing. Instead, she only grinned, her dimples on full display, and let go of her face. "You should get ready. We gotta eat and get outta here."
Buffy narrowed her eyes playfully. "You told the landlord I was moving out today, didn't you?"
"It might've come out when I knocked on his door this morning," Faith said as she smirked at her.
"So much planning and scheming and it's not even noon." Buffy closed the distance between them and lightly kissed her. "Fine, I'll get ready."
Faith only smiled as she watched Buffy walk into the bathroom and shut the door. Her mind immediately went to Buffy naked in the shower and she almost had to smack herself to get the mental image out of her head. She knew she was without a doubt she was falling hard for Buffy and she'd be lying if she ever said the thought didn't scare her. It scared her because she knew everything could change once they returned to Sunnydale and Buffy's normal life.
She could only hope that wouldn't be the case.
The walk from the bus station to the Summers house was both long and short at the same time. Buffy wanted to walk slowly but she knew she would only be prolonging the inevitable and her house seemed to be coming faster and faster. She was so nervous she gripped Faith's hand the entire way.
Buffy thought she was being silly but that didn't stop her nerves. She was only seeing her mother, not exactly something to be nervous about under normal circumstances, but she hadn't left on a good note. No, her mother had basically told her not to come back. That was the main reason the whole coming back to Sunnydale situation made her nervous. She wasn't sure her mom wanted her back.
For her part, Faith hadn't said much the entire way. She knew there wasn't anything she could say to make it easier. The way Buffy was gripping her hand was proof enough of how hard this was for her. The only thing she could do was be there, supporting her in that way if not anything else.
Once they reached Revello Drive, Buffy started to walk even slower so Faith stopped, making sure Buffy did the same.
"You can do this, B," Faith said strongly. "Your mom's only gonna be happy you're home."
"You make it sound so easy," Buffy said, using a hint of sarcasm. She started slowly walking again, pulling Faith with her. "Did you ever meet my mom? You said you and Giles were looking for me . . ."
Faith shook her head. "I think Giles kept her up to date but she never came to the library or anything. I've never been to your house."
Buffy turned away from Faith as she nodded her head and noticed they were now in front of her house. She took a deep breath and walked up the sidewalk to the front door, taking Faith with her. When she got to the door, she turned to Faith and bit her lip nervously.
"Should I knock on the door or walk right in? What if she doesn't want me here?"
"Stop thinking like that and just knock on the door," Faith answered, unconsciously letting go of her hand.
Buffy noticed but didn't say anything. She was too nervous about what was on the other side of the door. She took a deep breath and knocked on the door, hoping everything would be okay.
For almost thirty seconds the pair stood outside, waiting. Faith wondered if anyone was even home while Buffy wondered if her mother simply was not answering the door. She wanted to turn away but as she was about to say something to Faith about leaving, the door opened.
Joyce Summers stood on the other side, her mouth dropping when she saw who had knocked. She was aware someone else was with her but her eyes were solely on her daughter. Her mind would only let her focus on her. It took a moment to get over the shock but then she was wrapping her arms around Buffy, pulling her into a tight hug.
Faith watched the scene with a small smile on her face, thankful she had been right. She knew there was always the possibility that Buffy's paranoid fears would be right but that wasn't the case now. The look on her mother's face was proof enough that she was happy they'd shown up on her doorstep.
After a minute, Joyce let go of Buffy and looked in Faith's direction which Faith took as a cue to speak up. "Uh, hi. I'm . . ."
"This is Faith," Buffy finished for her. "She's . . . also a slayer. She's been helping Giles look for me."
"I should be thanking you then," Joyce said, a sincere look on her face as she looked Faith over.
"That's okay," Faith mumbled, a little uncomfortable now that she was the center of attention. "I should probably go, let you two talk or something."
"You don't have to," Buffy said quickly.
"Nah, you should get settled," Faith said, giving her a small smile. "I should meet up with Giles. You know, unpack, give him the good news. You'll come over later?"
Buffy nodded and turned away from her mother to hug Faith. The other girl returned it gladly, taking a moment to revel in the feel of Buffy against her. She couldn't for too long though, knowing Mrs. Summers was watching them. She didn't want Buffy's mother to get any ideas or jump to any conclusions before the two of them had a chance to sort it out and get used to being in Sunnydale.
They broke apart and Faith looked from Buffy to Mrs. Summers. "It was nice to meet you."
Joyce smiled. "Thank you, Faith."
Faith only nodded to her and walked away from the house, her bag slung casually over her shoulder. Joyce and Buffy watched her walk away before Joyce put her arm around Buffy and led her inside.
Neither quite knew what to say to each other. They didn't know how to pick up where they left off without all the drama and neither of them wanted drama right now. Both of them only wanted to have the same relationship they had before everything happened but neither were sure how to get that back right now. The revelation of slaying had complicated that.
They walked inside and shut the door behind them. Now that they were alone Buffy could instantly feel a tension rise between them. There was so much left unsaid and she didn't know where to start. She didn't know if she should simply apologize and leave it at that or if she should explain her being a slayer more to her mother. There hadn't been time when she'd first told her and Buffy regretted that.
"Well, Joyce said, breaking the silence, "you should get unpacked. Are you hungry?"
"I'm okay," Buffy answered, trying to smile. Being home was harder than she hoped. It didn't feel natural yet, not like it used to, and that left her feeling tense in her own home.
"Okay," Joyce responded with a half-smile before retreating to the kitchen.
Buffy watched her leave, not being able to think anything to say. It was like she didn't know how to talk to her mother anymore about anything. She sighed quietly and grabbed her bag, walking slowly up the stairs to her room.
Faith walked up to Giles' place with a smile on her face. For the first time in a long time, she felt like she'd done something good. It felt like she'd actually helped someone. That alone was something to smile about.
Of course, there was everything with Buffy. She had to believe that whatever was happening with them would continue to happen even though they were in Sunnydale. Buffy had said that she liked her. That meant something to Faith, especially seeing as they hadn't even had sex. Anyone who'd told her that previously had wanted something from her, like a quickie in a club bathroom or a night in a cheap motel. She knew that wasn't the case with Buffy.
With Buffy, it felt different. She knew she didn't have an ulterior motive in wanting to be with her. She had even asked her questions and that never happened. It felt as though everything was finally coming together so Faith couldn't help but smile.
She quietly unlocked the front door and walked in, casually setting her bag down by the door. "Giles? You here?"
There was some noise from upstairs followed by Giles walking down the stairs quickly. "Faith, I was concerned when you didn't call. Were you successful?"
"Yep, B's back. Just dropped her off at her house," Faith said, a small smile on her face. "She'll be by here later."
"That is excellent news," Giles said almost excitedly. He was almost in disbelief Faith had succeeded. He had underestimated his new slayer, something he knew he wouldn't do again. "Perhaps you should rest. I can't imagine the last few days were very pleasant."
Faith gave him a small grin, remembering the events of last night. "It didn't suck. Think I will shower and change though. These clothes are kinda rank."
Giles nodded. "When's Buffy coming?"
"Not sure," Faith answered, picking up her bag. "Whatever she's done unpacking and talking with her mom, I guess."
"Okay. Well, go ahead and unpack."
Faith only responded with a smile as she walked past him and up the stairs to the spare room that was now her room. There wasn't much in it, just a bed and some cheap furniture but that was okay with her. Even though she didn't like to think about the future, she thought of the situation as only temporary. She couldn't imagine Giles would want to live with her for very long.
She tossed her bag on the floor and sat down on the edge of the bed, thinking only of Buffy. She hoped everything was okay at her house and hoped even more that she was coming over soon. She knew she was falling hard for her now because she realized she was already missing her.
Buffy had been unpacking at a snail's pace for over an hour. Everything in her room was the same as she left it but it felt different now. It was like no one had even been in it since she left. The mess she'd made as she packed when she ran was still there and the chest where she kept her weapons had remained untouched. She thought her mother would have gone through her things after she left but that didn't look to be the case.
It was like her mother had tried to stay away of all things that reminded her of Buffy, much like how she was avoiding her now. Since Buffy had returned and went up to her room she hadn't said one word to her. She'd even passed her room multiple times and hadn't checked in or even acknowledged her presence. They had basically retreated to their separate corners.
When she finally finished unpacking and cleaning up her room to make it look more presentable, she set out to find her mom. She listened for a moment as she walked out of her room before realizing her mother was in her own room.
Buffy walked down the hall and looked in through the open door, knocking lightly on the doorframe and causing Joyce to duck her head out of her closet. "Mom? I was thinking of going out if that's okay."
Joyce gave her a blank look at first but that disappeared quickly into something Buffy couldn't recognize. "Will you be slaying?"
"Not that I know of. I should go over to Giles'. Faith told him I was coming," Buffy said quietly.
"She seems nice," Joyce commented, finally moving away from her closet and giving Buffy her full attention.
"Yeah," Buffy agreed, smiling. "She really helped."
"Buffy," Joyce started, wanting to ask so many things. Why she'd left, where she'd been and what she'd been doing the last few months were just a few of them. She also wanted to ask if there was something between her and Faith. She had sensed something when they'd shown up but had no idea how to ask. "Will you be home early?"
"I'll try," Buffy said then watched as her mother only nodded and turned her attention back to whatever she'd been doing.
She blinked a few times, telling herself everything was fine and her mother would talk to her eventually, before walking down the stairs and out the door. She didn't want to think about her situation with her mother right now.
Buffy decided that her walk would best be used to think about what she would say to Giles once she saw him. She was even more concerned with what her watcher would say to her. He could be really angry with her, about how she handled everything and that she'd left the hellmouth, and he might not even want to be her watcher anymore. She wasn't sure if he was even allowed to do that but now that the thought was in her head it wouldn't go away.
Even though she was dreading the conversation with Giles she still was not slowing her walk to his place. She wanted to see Faith, to see a face that wouldn't judge her and had no reason to. She was so sure she should be surprised at how much she liked Faith but she wasn't. She could only think it was because she knew how much the other girl liked her.
Giles' place wasn't too terribly far from her own so she reached it in almost no time at all. She took a deep breath and knocked on the door, nearly gasping with it opened almost immediately.
"Hey, B," Faith said, grinning. "Thought that was you I was feeling."
Buffy smiled. "Yeah, I guess."
Faith turned her head back to the interior of the condo before turning back to Buffy and winking. She leaned in and gave her a quick kiss before taking her arm and beginning to pull her inside. "Come on, B."
They walked into the living room, hand in hand. Faith knew Buffy was nervous about seeing Giles again but that didn't make her any less happy she was there and hoped she could help Buffy's nerves. "Giles, check out who's here."
Giles emerged from the kitchen and even though he'd been expecting Buffy to show at some point, that didn't stop his mouth from dropping the slightest amount. "Buffy, it's . . . so good to see you."
The watcher took a step forward only to take a step back a moment later. Faith fought hard and succeeded in suppressing a smirk as she watched him. She figured Giles wanted to give Buffy a hug but was probably too nervous to do so or maybe that he didn't think it was appropriate. Instead, he only smiled and adjusted his glasses.
"Please, sit," he said nervously, gesturing toward the couch.
The pair both did as told and sat on the couch while Giles took a seat in a chair. Faith looked from one to the other and could tell neither one of them wanted to be the first to start the conversation. Both looked a little uneasy to be where they were.
"So, Giles, isn't it great Buffy's back?" Faith asked, using the other slayer's full name and using her best upbeat tone, something she normally only used sarcastically.
"Yes, it is," he agreed, still trying to get over the shock Faith had actually succeeded. The couple months of searching hadn't been for nothing and he was having a hard time grasping that.
Buffy smiled, noticing Faith and her were still holding hands and liking that it didn't bother her in the least. "What's been going on the last couple months?"
"Once Faith was located and arrived here we set up a training schedule . . ."
"A very boring one," Faith broke in.
"That may be but I want you to be prepared," Giles said, narrowing his eyes slightly in her direction. "Now of course, Buffy can help."
"Yeah, she can," Faith agreed and grinned at Buffy, who was trying hard not to blush at Faith's obvious implications in the statement.
"Faith said she's only been slaying a few times. If she hasn't, who's been doing the slaying?" Buffy asked, trying to make the spotlight off her.
Giles began to look uncomfortable as Faith gave him a hard stare. "Willow, Xander and the rest have proved invaluable with patrolling."
Buffy furrowed her brow, confused at the answer. "You've had a slayer here but you let the gang do the slaying instead?"
"That's what I've been saying," Faith said quickly, now looking at Giles almost pleadingly. "I should be able to go out and patrol. Slaying kinda what I'm made for, ya know."
"I do not want to send you out unprepared, Faith," Giles explained carefully, now looking at Buffy. "It has been quiet in Sunnydale lately anyway so I've been able to concentrate on training with Faith and everyone else has been able to handle patrolling."
Neither slayer looked terribly happy with the explanation as they stared long and hard at their watcher. The only part of the conversation so far that Faith was even partially thrilled about was that Buffy was backing her up. She could tell Giles wasn't too happy with that new development either.
Giles sighed, knowing he wouldn't be able to argue his point with both of them. He'd never win with the two of them. "We can, of course, create a new training schedule now that Buffy has returned."
Buffy looked from Giles to Faith, noticing the other girl was now smiling. She knew how happy Faith was that she was here. She could feel and see that much. Right now she was wondering if Giles could see some of that too, but she figured he was more preoccupied with what he was going to do with two slayers than anything else.
All three were lost in their thoughts, not quite knowing what to say next, when there was a knock on the door. They looked at each other curiously, no one making a move to answer the door until Faith spoke up.
"Have a big date tonight, G-man?" she asked with a smirk on her face and turned to Buffy. "I leave for a few days and it's a swinging bachelor pad again."
"Faith, don't be ridiculous," Giles muttered, ignoring the muffled laughter from the two as he got up to answer the door and walking quickly so they could begin to talk about something else soon.
"Hey, Giles, you got any more holy water? We ran out last night," the person on the other side of the door said the moment Giles opened it.
Buffy leaned forward on the couch to get a better look at the front door. "Xander?"
Giles stepped aside as Xander nearly ran into the room, followed closely by Willow, Oz and Cordelia. Xander stopped suddenly as soon as he saw Buffy sitting on the couch next to Faith, causing Willow to bump into his back. All of them had varying degrees of shock on their faces, a result of seeing their friend for the first time in months.
"Buffy," Willow started, speaking before the rest of them, "when did you . . ."
"A few hours ago," Buffy answered before she could finish the question, glancing at Faith then looking back at Willow. "I went home to unpack first and see my mom then I told Faith I'd come here."
"But you're back?" Xander asked. None of them had moved since they saw Buffy.
"Yep, I'm back."
Xander grinned as did the rest of them. "That's great, Buffy. Ya know, we've gotten a good slaying team together."
"Yeah," Willow agreed, sitting down next to Buffy on the couch. "We've got a set up and everything."
"Well, I'm ready to get back to slaying and everything else so you won't have to keep doing the team patrols. Faith and I'll handle it," Buffy said, looking to Faith with a small grin.
"You've met Faith then?" Xander asked, sitting down in the chair Giles had previously occupied. Oz sat on the armrest of the couch next to Willow and Cordelia remained standing. "Giles has been sequestering her since she got here."
"Yeah." Buffy nodded. "She's the one who got me."
The four teens shared looks with each other but not at Buffy. All of them caught the fact Buffy didn't come back on her own and each tried to mask how uneasy it made them. It felt like there was no guarantee she wouldn't run again.
"So, hey, celebrating is in order," Xander said, doing his best not to think about Buffy's last comment.
"What about slaying tonight?" Willow asked.
"It's been slow," Xander answered, effectively dismissing the question.
"Ya know, Giles, maybe B and I can patrol for awhile. She's probably a way better guide than you," Faith said, looking to him as he stood off to the side.
"We can discuss that tomorrow," Giles said quickly, seeing Faith's face fall in the process. "Perhaps Buffy would like to spend some time with her mother tonight."
Buffy noticed all eyes were suddenly on her and smiled weakly. "Uh, sure. We probably need to talk about stuff."
"Yeah, there is school tomorrow," Willow commented then looked at Buffy nervously. "You're, uh, still expelled but I'm sure your mom can talk to Principal Snyder about that."
"She probably will." Buffy looked from Willow to Faith. "Are you going to Sunnydale High?"
Faith raised an eyebrow then turned to Giles who answered the question. "The Council hasn't made that decision yet."
"The Council decides whether or not Faith goes to school?" Cordelia asked, breaking an unusual silence from her. "You guys are really from the stone ages, aren't you? Not letting slayers make decisions for themselves."
"I don't care really," Faith claimed. "I'm not that into school."
"If I have to go so does she," Buffy said, wondering why if going to school was optional for slayers no one told her. "Someone else should have to deal with Snyder with me."
"Something else we can discuss tomorrow," Giles said.
Everyone stayed silent before Buffy spoke up, thinking everyone was probably waiting for her to say something. "I should probably go. Talk to my mom and everything."
"Yeah, we should go," Willow said, standing and the others followed her action. "See you tomorrow?"
The four of them left, saying their goodbyes to Giles and Faith on the way. After they shut the door, Buffy turned her attention back to her fellow slayer and their watcher. "Should we meet at the library tomorrow?"
"No," Giles almost stammered, making himself look at Buffy though he felt uncomfortable doing so. "Due to the expulsion, you're not allowed on school grounds. We can meet here after school to go through training and patrolling."
"Oh," Buffy let out sadly. "Tomorrow then. I'll come . . . here."
Faith watched for a moment as Buffy got up and walked toward the door before getting up and going after her. "Hey, we should get together tomorrow since neither of us is school-bound."
Buffy gave her a small smile. "Sure."
Faith winked at her and her smile grew as she walked out the door. The whole experience had been a little uncomfortable but she'd made it through and she thought she could call that a win. Now she hoped she could maybe get the rest of her life back.
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