Buffy walked slowly to Giles', dreading the day. Even though she knew it was important she didn't want to do what her watcher had asked her to do the day before. It felt like too much to have to go through and she really wanted to simply not show up.
She knew Giles hoped that when Faith confronted all of her past misdeeds that she'd be able to get over them but she wasn't so sure. It might just magnify everything she was feeling and Buffy didn't want that. They had to live together and to her the only thing worse than dealing with Faith would be dealing with her when she was a quivering mess.
The one thing Buffy wished Giles would realize was just how much taking Faith to all these places would affect her, too. For most of them she had either been there or was Faith's target. It meant that every time the two of them would go to one of the destinations their watcher wanted, she would have just as many feelings surface as Faith.
The other slayer hadn't been told what was in store for the afternoon, only that she'd be spending it with Buffy. Giles had thought this would be the best to do it since Faith needed to confront her feelings and he didn't want her to run. Buffy knew that wouldn't happen though. Faith had gone to Sunnydale willingly with the intent of turning her life around. She only needed to get past the overwhelming pain the remorse was giving her.
Buffy walked into the condo without knocking since she knew they were expecting her. She wanted to get the afternoon over with. Maybe once the first one was over the rest of the places would be easier to visit. At least, that was what she hoped but she knew it was more likely that the other places would be as painful as the first if only for different reasons.
"Buffy," Giles greeted her from the kitchen, "we were just finishing up. Would you like some lunch?"
She shook her head even though she had skipped lunch earlier. An empty stomach might be better for what she needed to do. "I'm fine."
There were books on the coffee table and Buffy recognized them as the ones Giles had given Faith to read. One of them was open and there was a pad of paper off to the side with some notes on it. She knew right away they were notes Faith had written and for some reason that surprised her. Buffy never thought of Faith as someone with such meat and clear handwriting.
"Where is Faith?"
"Right here, B." Faith appeared from upstairs and quickly moved to the couch, sitting down.
The first thought in Buffy's head was that she looked tired. She hadn't checked in on her at all the night before and hadn't heard anything coming from her room either. It could have been that Faith had been trying to remain awake and silent so she wouldn't be disturbing Buffy's mother because it looked like she hadn't slept at all.
Buffy thought about asking her about it, just like she had in the morning when they had walked to Giles', but then thought better of it. "Are we good to go here, Giles?"
"I was making lunch first," he said as he appeared with a plate of sandwiches. "You should eat something, too."
"What are we doing after this? More studying journals?" Faith asked, making no move toward to the food.
"No, after we eat you're leaving with Buffy," Giles said as he nudged the plate toward her.
Faith almost looked like she wanted to protest eating but instead took a sandwich and ate slowly. Buffy looked at her with a raised eyebrow, trying not to stare. The way the other slayer acted kept confusing her. Sometimes it looked like the Faith she remembered was still right under the surface and other times it appeared like she was nowhere to be found. She wanted at least some of those old traits back. It would be nice to have her slaying again, if only so Buffy could have some actual nights off in the future.
They mostly ate in silence, Giles only asking Buffy a question once and awhile. She knew he wanted to meet after their little fieldtrip to find out how Faith reacted. Whether or not Faith would be there for that seemed to be still undecided.
"Come on, Faith," Buffy said the moment she saw Faith was finished. "We should get going."
Faith only nodded and stood, following Buffy out the door and onto the sidewalk. "Where are we going?"
Buffy knew she couldn't tell Faith the truth but didn't want to completely lie either. She wanted to be honest with Faith now that they were trying to coexist. "Just doing an errand for Giles."
"Why do I need to go?"
"Because he said so," Buffy answered. "You can't just go from his place to my house and back again."
"Isn't it easier for everyone if I do that? There's probably a lot of other stuff you need to do besides watching me all the time. Isn't there slaying and all that to do?"
"Yeah," Buffy answered but didn't want to get too into slaying talk. It would distract her. "Did you sleep at all last night?"
Faith shook her head. "I know most people don't think there's much in my head at all but I guess my memory's crystal clear. My brain keeps reminding me of that."
"People don't think that." Buffy knew that was a lie. She had to admit she'd thought that once or twice.
"Yeah, they do . . . have most of my life."
"Just dealing with your memory or other stuff, too?"
Faith turned her head to look at her, a small smirk on her face. "You playing my shrink now, B?"
"Someone needs to."
The other slayer didn't respond and they continued walking in silence. Buffy wondered what Faith's reaction would be to seeing where it all started going wrong for them and she got a small clue once they turned down an all too familiar street and began to see the rundown area where it all started. She could hear a change in Faith's breathing and her step slowed the slightest amount.
Buffy didn't get any other reaction though, making her think Faith might not even realize she had done it and she wasn't the only one slowing her movements. Now that Buffy could see the opening to the alleyway not that far ahead she began to walk slower than normal, too.
Her mind began to replay the night. She remembered how much fun she had been having with Faith. It had felt good to let go a little and have some fun. Buffy had a feeling it wasn't going to end well, especially after they had the incident with the police, but she liked spending time with the other slayer. Faith being there made being a slayer less lonely.
Suddenly, Faith stopped completely and that made Buffy stop, too. She sighed, wanting to get this Giles-created fieldtrip over with. "Come on, Faith."
"I know where we're going," Faith said quietly.
Buffy simply stood and waited, staring at Faith until she started to move once again. They walked the remaining distance in silence, only stopping once they entered the alley and saw the area where they'd encountered Finch. Both of them looked down at the spot where the Deputy Mayor's body had ended up, knowing exactly where it was even though the area wasn't exactly clean.
As it replayed in her head in slow motion, making it seem like the incident played out over several minutes even though it was a matter of seconds, Buffy knew it was a mistake. She knew if they had both acted differently it could have been dealt with as an accident. That was what it was after all. Faith had only needed to admit it and maybe everything wouldn't have gotten so out of control.
It took a second for Buffy to realize Faith was no longer standing next to her and for a moment she thought the other slayer had run without her realizing. She had to admit it was probably the perfect opportunity since she was distracted by the memory of that night. No matter where she looked she was reminded of it.
Then she looked down and realized Faith was sitting on the ground, her back pressed against the side of the building and her knees pulled up to her chest. Tears had begun to run down her face but she wasn't outwardly sobbing. Buffy wondered if she even realized she was crying. She still only continued to look at the other side of the alley.
Buffy sighed and sat down next to her, trying not to think of how dirty the ground was. A part of her wanted Faith to suffer like this, to be tormented by what she'd done, but not by this one. The death of Allan Finch may have gotten Faith started on the wrong path but it wasn't intentional. There was no doubt about it.
They just sat there for a few minutes, ignoring the people that passed by every once and awhile. Buffy was thankful they weren't in a well-traveled area otherwise they would've drawn more attention to themselves. As it was they were in a rundown area where the only passersby didn't care what they were doing.
Faith mumbled something and Buffy leaned closer to her. "What, Faith?"
"I thought he'd be dust."
"I know," Buffy said quietly. She knew Faith had just acted without thinking or pausing to make sure what she was staking was really a vampire.
"There was blood," she said as though she didn't even hear Buffy. "On my hands and on my shirt. And then he died before we could do anything."
Buffy didn't know what to say but she didn't think Faith was listening to her at all anyway. It seemed she had tunnel vision and hadn't looked away from the spot yet. She barely even blinked.
"I panicked when I did the rest of it but he deserved better than that. He was trying to do the right thing and I messed it up. I didn't mean it."
Buffy dared to place a hand in her shoulder but Faith didn't acknowledge it at all. "I know you didn't mean it, Faith. We all wanted you to admit that from the start."
Faith didn't respond to what she said either and Buffy became a little nervous. She knew Giles had said it would be helpful for Faith to confront everything head on, especially since she couldn't talk to a psychiatrist, but this didn't look healthy. It looked like she was going to have a breakdown.
"I didn't mean it," she said and began to repeat it over and over. "I didn't mean it. I didn't mean it."
The only thing Buffy could think to do at first was look at her in shock as she began to rock slightly, the tears coming more frequently now. She had always thought Faith was unstable but not like this. It looked like the memory of what happened was tearing her apart and this was only the first of many incidents they would need to revisit.
Not knowing what else to do and knowing Faith needed to calm down so they could walk back to Giles' at some point, Buffy put an arm around her shoulders and held her close. It was what she would do for anyone else and she couldn't make herself heartless enough to let Faith go on like this. She couldn't watch it.
She didn't say anything but simply let Faith lean against her as all her emotions over that night coursed through her. Buffy knew she couldn't even tell her it was going to be okay. There were other places for her to confront.
Buffy hoped the rest weren't as bad.
By the time Buffy and Faith had managed to get back to the condo to report back to their watcher it was already evening, much later than Buffy had thought they would be. She was sure Giles thought the same since he was sitting in a chair seemingly waiting for them to return when they walked in. He had a book in his hand but it didn't look like he had been reading it.
"How was everything?" he asked, looking at both of them before focusing on Buffy.
"It was . . . fine." Buffy looked at Faith, who had been silent the entire walk back. She thought she looked even more tired if that was possible.
She looked at Giles with sad expression on her face. "Yeah. Fine."
Giles and Buffy shared a looked and she hoped he could see that things were far from fine. They both knew if Faith was serious about changing her life she would need to go through some tough times but she doubted her watcher knew just how much emotion Faith had been holding in. She knew it surprised her.
"Faith," he started, "could you give Buffy and I a moment before both of you leave for the night? I'm sure Joyce is wondering where you are."
Buffy looked at a clock and noticed it was past when her mother normally had dinner ready. There would definitely be questions when they got home.
The only response he got was a nod before Faith walked outside, shutting the door quietly behind her. Buffy thought about telling Faith not to go far but knew she wouldn't. Instead she only looked at Giles, noticing his concern.
"I think I broke her."
"What do you mean?"
Buffy looked at him and couldn't help but feel guilty. When Faith had been on the wrong side there had been a part of her that wanted to see Faith suffer. Now that it was happening and she was seeing it firsthand though, she didn't like the feeling she had. She realized she didn't like causing Faith pain, even if most of that pain was really self-inflicted. So instead of feeling happy Faith was finally getting a taste of her own medicine, Buffy wanted to ease the pain.
"What I mean is we went to the alley, with a little prodding from me to get her there. After we did Faith completely broke down. We ended up sitting in the alley for a few hours."
"Did she talk about what happened?" Giles asked.
"She kept saying it was an accident and she didn't mean to do it but I had always thought that. When it happened I had thought she said she didn't care because she didn't want to admit she made a mistake and then didn't trust me enough not to turn her in."
Giles gave her a serious look. "I don't think she trusted any of us. I was told very little about Faith when she was first with us and unfortunately, I didn't follow up on it. I had expected her to volunteer information but . . ."
"Faith wasn't much of a sharer?" Buffy finished.
Neither of them said anything for a moment. Buffy knew there were several things they should've done differently that year. She shouldn't have been so standoffish when Faith first arrived. There were things Faith should've done differently, too. They had disconnected on so many levels and everyone ended up hurt in some way.
Buffy still felt the hurt Faith had caused, it was still much too close to the surface, and had to push it away every day she saw her. Faith hadn't apologized yet about anything but now Buffy was thinking it was only because she had told her not to while they were in LA. She was doing everything else she had told her to do.
"Will she be up for the next location?"
"I think so."
There wasn't much confidence in her voice and she knew it. The next stop would be Faith's old apartment, the place where they had fought and Buffy had stabbed her. It was a significant location not just for Faith but for Buffy, too. It was the place where she had the mindset that the other girl was better off as a cure for Angel than she was alive.
Sure, it wasn't exactly in order of all the places they needed to go but it was one Buffy wanted out of the way. Her hope what that after they were done maybe she would feel a little better than she did when she thought about the fight.
What bothered her was that Giles still hadn't asked if she would be okay with going there. She'd had nightmares about the place for a few months after it had happened. It was the only time she'd ever intentionally hurt a human and it took a long time for her get over the sound the knife made as she pushed it into Faith.
Giles say anything else and Buffy sighed, standing up. "We should probably get home. I'm sure my mom will have questions."
"Yes," Giles agreed. "It's okay to not be here right away in the morning. I want to keep the schedule but maybe while we're in this stage rest is important, too."
"It's a plan."
Buffy turned and walked out then, finding Faith sitting on the doorstep waiting for her. She tried her best not to look completely annoyed at the fact that they were basically starting to be together 24 hours a day. Every day she was around Faith the anger lessened and she wanted that anger. The anger helped her deal with the hurt she needed to push away and once it was gone the hurt would still be there. It made her feel weak and that was the last thing she wanted.
She hoped there would be some vamps around tonight when she did her shorter-than-she-liked patrol. She desperately wanted to take her aggression out on something.
Giles didn't seem to realize that rest didn't come easy to Buffy and she was sure it didn't come easy to Faith. She had checked on the other girl once during the night and knew that she wasn't sleeping. Buffy didn't stick around to check to see if she was crying or fighting sleep or anything though. She didn't want to deal with it for several reasons.
After only a couple hours of sleep she woke up early and decided to leave Faith on her own in the morning, or at least leave her in the house. She needed a break of her own so she called Willow, hoping seeing her friend would help her prepare for the day.
Willow showed up to her house with a couple of mochas but instead of inviting her inside, Buffy walked outside and they sat on the front steps. She gratefully took the cup and took a sip.
"Why are we sitting outside?" Willow asked.
"I just need a break."
"From everything," she answered quietly.
"Well, I'm happy you called," Willow said. "I feel like we've been missing out on some best friend bonding time."
"And I appreciate this." Buffy looked out onto the street. "It's just been getting hard with Faith being here and dealing with everything that goes with it."
"I don't know how you can even stand to look at Faith much less have her living in your house. Do you have any idea what she said to your mom to get her to let her stay here?"
Buffy shook her head. "No idea. Mom never said anything."
"But how do you deal with all of it?"
Buffy didn't answer because she didn't have one. She knew none of the gang liked that Faith was around. It was the main reason she had rarely seen any of them since Faith came back aside from when they were meeting about a slaying issue. The only problem was they needed to confront Faith just as much as she did but that wasn't going to happen today.
"It's hard but there are some things I don't blame her for," she finally said. "I don't blame her for Riley." She could tell immediately Willow didn't believe her so she was quick to continue. "I really don't. I wasn't feeling the same as him for awhile before Faith entered the picture. She just helped magnify our problems. And the rest of it . . . I try not to think about it."
"But . . ."
"Honestly, Will, I know I could've done some things differently too. That's why going to that apartment today won't be of the good."
Willow nodded in agreement. "Does Giles realize that?"
"I'm not sure but knowing Giles there's probably a reason behind it. Some watchery reason where I find some inner peace about what happened and can slay better or something."
"I wish I could say I could help."
Buffy smiled. "I know, Will. I know this is something Faith and I need to do on our own though. We were the only two there."
"The thought of meaning in a room with Faith right now makes me uncomfortable," Willow admitted. "I'm too afraid she'll snap."
Buffy let a small smile show. At least Willow was honest about her feelings. "You haven't seen her, Will. If she snaps, the only person she'll hurt herself." She paused. "You know if we're able to get her to face what she's done and come out better on the other side she'll be around for awhile, right? All of you will have to get used to her being part of the group."
"Did she ever really want to be part of the group?" she asked.
"I think so," Buffy answered quietly. "Like I've said, there are things I think I could've done differently, too."
"I guess so." Willow looked at her watch. "I should probably get going. Let me know how everything went, okay?"
"Sure," Buffy said and watched her best friend get up and walk away, something that made her sad. Now she had would be forced to face the day.
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Chapter One || Chapter Two || Chapter Three || Chapter Four || Chapter Five || Chapter Six || Chapter Seven || Chapter Eight || Chapter Nine || Chapter Ten || Chapter Eleven || Chapter Twelve || Chapter Thirteen || Chapter Fourteen || Chapter Fifteen || Chapter Sixteen
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