Buffy sighed and opened the front door, walking back inside the house. Visiting with her best friend had been good for her. She had desperately needed the small break it had created for her. It enabled her to forget what her responsibilities were when it came to Faith.
The other slayer was sitting on the couch in the living room, flipping through a magazine. For a moment she looked just like the Faith she remembered, her clothes were a little tighter than yesterday and she had a certain confidence about her, but then she looked closer and saw something different. Faith still had heavier than Buffy probably would makeup on but it partially looked like an attempt to cover the dark circles under her eyes. It made Buffy sure that she hadn't slept and her shoulders were slumped in defeat as she sat.
She couldn't quite tell from her current angle but Buffy was willing to bet if she could look into them there would be pain in her eyes, too.
Faith looked up for the magazine then and Buffy's thoughts were confirmed. "Hey . . . where'd you go?"
"Just outside for a while," Buffy answered, debating whether or not to tell her everything. She decided she didn't need to tell her she needed a break from being around her. "What have you been doing?"
She held up the magazine. "'Ten ways to please your man'," she read off the cover. "Was it you or your mom who bought this masterpiece?"
Buffy had to smile at the comment. It felt like something the old Faith would say. "I'll never say."
Faith only nodded and didn't continue any banter that might have resulted from her question. "When are we going to Giles'?"
"Not until later," Buffy answered. "He decided you didn't need to study the journals with him today."
It only took that small response from Faith for Buffy to know that the other girl knew what they would be doing today. The apprehensiveness was all over her face and body language as she stood up, waiting for Buffy to tell her what to do.
"We can go right now if you want," she said quietly, knowing she didn't need to explain what she meant.
"Sure, not like I have big plans or anything," Faith mumbled out.
There wasn't anything else Buffy could think of to say so she simply walked outside, knowing Faith would follow her. Maybe that was because she felt they both wanted to get this little adventure over with.
They walked in silence for awhile before Faith spoke up. "So this is what Giles' plan is? Making me visit all the places I messed up?"
Buffy knew it wouldn't take long for Faith to catch on to what their watcher had planned. She knew she was smarter than most people, including herself, gave her credit for. "I guess so."
"Doesn't he know I see all of it constantly anyway?" Faith commented quietly.
"Is that why it looks like you've barely slept since you got here?" Buffy asked.
Faith nodded but didn't say anything else. Buffy wondered if she was trying to figure out where exactly they were going. It would make sense to go to the Mayor's office, Angel's mansion or even where she killed the professor before visiting her old apartment but Giles had suggested they go there next. She didn't know how to argue with him that she didn't want to take Faith there right away. It was something she wanted to mentally prepare for first and she hadn't done that yet.
What Buffy wanted to know about, but something she thought Faith wouldn't tell her, was what exactly Faith saw in her nightmares. They were obviously tormenting her to the point that she didn't want to sleep or couldn't but she had yet to mention them to either Giles or Buffy. It made her wonder just how bad the nightmares and images were.
It didn't look like Faith was paying attention to where they were going, simply following Buffy with her eyes to the ground, until they were within two buildings of where her old apartment was. That's when she stopped walking.
"Faith," Buffy said quickly, "keep walking."
She looked at her and nodded, starting to walk with Buffy again. Together they walked into the building and up the stairs to the apartment.
If they had lived in any other town, the apartment Faith had lived in over a year ago would have been fixed up and rented out to a new tenant. It had been a nice place before they destroyed it during the fight. But since this was Sunnydale and the Mayor had owned the building no one did anything with it after he died. It was only boarded up and seemingly forgotten about.
Willow had checked after graduation about the apartment and Buffy had kept track of it since. She didn't even think the people who had closed it up had taken anything out of it. There was a chance Faith's things were still there.
No one knew but this wouldn't be the first time Buffy had visited the apartment since that night for more than just a quick walk-by. About a month after graduation she started thinking about Faith and what could've been if they had been civil to each other. The thoughts led her to the last place she'd spoken to Faith: her apartment. It was still a disaster then but she didn't feel the need to pick up or anything like that. She only sat down on Faith's bed and cried.
She had stayed there for at least an hour but even getting that emotion out then didn't seem to help her now. The dread of being anywhere near the scene where she actually stabbed someone hadn't gone away. If anything it was worse because Faith was there with her now.
They walked to the top of the stairs silently. Buffy could swear Faith was barely breathing. She knew if there was an opportunity to run from the apartment the other slayer would seriously consider it. Buffy probably would, too.
"Don't other people live here now?" Faith asked so quietly Buffy almost didn't hear her. "When I woke up . . . I never . . ."
Buffy shook her head. "Technically the Mayor still owns the building and no one's ever, you know, claimed it. It's pretty much abandoned."
The front door was replaced, not only locked but padlocked as well. It made Buffy feel thankful she was a slayer as she grabbed the padlock and pulled with enough force for it to break away from the door. She tossed the lock on the floor then pressed her shoulder against the door and pushed hard, feeling the door give way easily.
They walked in and noticed with some surprise that it still was almost how they had left it. It looked as though they'd only had the fight a few days ago, not over a year ago. Some items had been picked up and the windows had been boarded up but other than that all of Faith's belongings were still there. It was almost as though the Mayor or any of the people who worked for him had wanted to keep it that way for when Faith woke up.
Neither of them said a word to each other once they entered the apartment. They even walked in opposite directions, refusing to get in the other's personal space.
She didn't know about Faith but Buffy's mind kept replaying the events of the night, of how they tried so hard to kill each other. Her body seemed to move on its own as she remembered how hurt she was that the other slayer didn't choose her side and that she went after Angel. All she could feel was the pain she felt as they had been fighting. Pain at the thought that Faith hated her that much.
That was the one thing Buffy could never understand: the reason why Faith hated her so much. She knew that she hadn't given her the best welcome or had been the best friend, or much of a friend at all, but that shouldn't have been a reason for her to attack everyone she cared about. It didn't make much sense to her.
Buffy realized her vision was starting to blur, her eyes tearing up even though she was trying to will herself not to cry. The image that kept appearing in her mind was the look on Faith's face when she stabbed her. That look of shock that she had actually been able to do it wasn't leaving her mind no matter how hard she shook her head to make it go away.
She looked around for Faith and at first she didn't see her, making her think she'd run. The frustration of that possibility rose quickly only to disappear when she saw Faith sitting on the floor. Her position was almost identical to when she was in the alley, back against the wall with her knees pulled up to her chest. She had her head down and every once and awhile her shoulders shook like she was crying. It also looked like she was trying her best to hold it all in, much like Buffy was attempting.
As much as she wanted to ignore it, Buffy knew she couldn't. After what she saw the day before it was obvious Faith was feeling remorse for what she'd done. Seeing the apartment today, Buffy knew she was feeling the same.
Sitting down by Faith, Buffy let out a slow breath. "I can see it like it just happened yesterday," she said quietly.
"I tried to convince myself I wanted to fight you," Faith mumbled, not looking at Buffy. "I wanted to believe the Mayor cared more than you did and when you showed up wanting to use me to cure Angel it was all so easy. It felt like you proved me right."
Buffy didn't know what to say. It seemed that all of their actions over the year were due to what they thought the other one felt. Neither one of them took the time to find out if what they thought was true. All the assumptions they had made about each other had caused them to get to this point.
"I was angry over what you did to Angel," Buffy said. "I kept thinking about how you wanted to take everything away from me and that it had to stop."
"I wanted you to pay for trying to treat me like a worthless backup."
"I never thought that." Buffy paused, thinking about what she really did think now that they were sharing. "I guess I didn't want to share what I had."
Faith looked around the open apartment but not at Buffy. "I see it every day, this place. I feel the knife every night like it's happening right at that moment. I don't know how to make it stop." She finally looked at Buffy with red, watery eyes. "How long to I have to pay for it to stop?"
Buffy didn't know how to answer that but frowned at the look on Faith's face. It looked like she was in physical pain. "I don't know, Faith. Maybe once you've confronted everything it'll get a little easier."
She had no idea if that was actually true. Buffy would have liked to have thought she had dealt with everything she and Faith had done to each other already but now that she was in the apartment again she knew that wasn't true. The memories seemed to hit her repeatedly, especially when she noticed a couple drops of blood on the carpet.
"You'd think they would've at least cleaned up a little more."
"From the video the Mayor gave me it didn't sound like he thought I'd ever wake up. Maybe he just wanted to make sure none of you could get in and then moved on."
"Obviously he planned for every possibility."
Both of them stared off into space for a minute. Buffy wanted so badly to get over what she felt, the guilt at having stabbed Faith, but she didn't know how. She doubted Faith knew how to get over her problems either.
She didn't know what else to say right away so instead Buffy only put an arm around Faith. The tears were beginning to fall freely from the other girl and she wanted to show her she wasn't alone. They had both been in that fight and Buffy wanted Faith to know that she was going through something, too. She needed her to know she regretted what happened, too.
"I didn't want you to die."
The words were so quiet Buffy didn't know if Faith had said them or if they were simply in her mind. "What, Faith?"
"I said I didn't want you to die," she said a little louder. "I . . . I don't know what I wanted. I just know I didn't want you to die. I think it would've ruined me if I had . . . killed you."
Even though she didn't want it to, Buffy was a little shocked by the statement. For the last few months before their showdown she was certain that nothing would have made Faith happier than seeing her dead. She had even been convinced that the other slayer was set on doing it herself, too.
"I know you don't wanna hear that from me."
The words were mumbled again and when Buffy dared to look over at her she could see the tears were still coming down. It looked like Faith couldn't control it either. She wasn't outwardly crying or sobbing but silent tears still ran down her cheeks anyway. Buffy knew the same thing was happening to her, too.
"Did you have dreams about all this?"
Faith let out a breath. "When I was in a coma? Yeah, this and other weird stuff."
"Some of them were slayer dreams. I was there, too." Buffy waited for Faith to respond at all but she didn't. She hadn't even moved or acted like she had heard her. "I haven't gotten over this."
Neither of them said anything for what felt like hours to Buffy. She couldn't think of anything else to say to Faith at the moment, especially since the other girl wasn't exactly talkative. That was easily understandable though. Her whole body was tense, causing Buffy to hold her a little tighter.
Everything about what was going on was so surreal. The one time Buffy had come back to the damaged apartment she'd felt an overwhelming sadness but now it was almost as though she could feel Faith's pain as well. It felt like it might crush her.
"I'll never get over any of this."
Buffy tightened her hold on Faith and felt the tears begin to fall again. There were so many things she wanted to say but the words weren't coming out. She could only hope that once Faith dealt with her feelings and that she knew Buffy regretted stabbing her as well she would begin to start living again.
"You will, Faith."
She shook her head. "I don't think it'll ever leave."
"It will if you can get past it, Faith, and I think you will." Buffy sighed, not really sure how she was saying what she was. Even though she felt for Faith she still felt all the hurt she had caused, too. "You just need to accept what you did was wrong."
Faith only nodded and wiped the tears off her face with her hand. Buffy wondered how long they would need to stay there.
They had stayed at the apartment for hours, so long that by the time they left Buffy knew it would be pointless for her to patrol. She hoped that Giles knew that she wasn't since they hadn't talked to him all day and hadn't bothered to check in. By the time they left all Buffy wanted to do was go home.
Before they left Buffy had asked Faith is she wanted to take anything with her. They had looked around and most of the other slayer's clothes were there, as were quite of few of the possessions she had gotten from the Mayor. Even though they were reminders of a time Faith was trying to deal with and maybe forget, Buffy thought maybe taking some of the clothes or other things would help her be more comfortable at her house.
Faith had taken her up on that and found a small duffle bag that was in the closet. Buffy simply watched as she placed some clothes and a few small items into the bag and then said she was ready to go. She couldn't be positive but Buffy was fairly sure everything she chose to take were things she had arrived to Sunnydale with and nothing that the Mayor had given her.
When they walked through the door Joyce rushed to them, a very worried look on her face. "Mr. Giles said you never checked in today and then you weren't around for dinner. It's past eight . . . I was worried something happened."
Buffy looked at Faith and saw she was in no mood to socialize. She gave her a little nod and Faith turned and walked up the stairs without a word to anyone.
"Buffy . . ."
She motioned for her to walk into the living room with her and they sat on the couch. "We're both pretty exhausted, Mom."
She sighed. "We spent the day at Faith's old apartment."
"All day? It's not rented out?"
Buffy shook her head. "No, it's still a disaster and a lot of Faith's stuff is still there. I just . . ." she felt the tears starting and had to stop.
"Oh, honey," her mother said as she put her arms around her. "I know it was a tough day."
"As soon as we walked in everything hit me." Buffy used her hand to wipe the tears away. "Faith and I just ended up sitting there for hours. We talked a little but mostly we just sat there. I wanna stay mad at her, Mom, but she's in so much pain about what she did. I don't know what to do."
"Well, the daughter I raised would know how to put her feelings aside in order to help someone."
Buffy narrowed her eyes at her mother. "I know she's sorry. It's just gonna take time. I do want to help her though. I want Faith back minus all the evil parts."
After she said that she yawned and she knew she looked tired. It felt as though she could sleep for a couple of days. All her energy had been trained by going to that apartment.
"Go up and get some sleep," her mother said with a small smile on her face. "I think you'll feel a little better in the morning."
"I hope so."
Buffy walked up the stairs as quick as she could manage, thankful her mother hadn't wanted to talk longer. She really didn't know what to say about the day's events other than it had been much too emotional for her. There had been too many bad memories involved and she desperately hoped it would be the last time she or Faith would need to enter that place.
She walked into her room and quickly stripped out of her clothes and put on some comfortable pajamas. The urge to shower was there but she knew she needed to check on Faith and make sure she was okay or at least, that she was in a better condition than she was during the day.
The door to the room was open and when she looked in she saw Faith was lying down on her side but she still had her clothes on. She was simply staring out into space and didn't acknowledge Buffy at all, which caused her to want to get her attention.
"Faith," she said, sitting down on the bed, "change, okay? It probably won't be comfortable to sleep like that."
"Doesn't matter," Faith said, turning her head to look at her. "I don't think I'll be sleeping anyway."
Buffy sighed and stood before walking over to the dresser by the door and pulled out shorts and a tank top, something she knew Faith had gotten to sleep in. She shut the door and turned on a lamp which showed that Faith had placed the bag she had taken from the apartment in the corner, untouched.
Without saying anything Buffy placed the clothes on the bed and took Faith's arm, gently pulling her up so she was standing. She looked into Faith's eyes and could see just how much she needed sleep and knew she needed to do something that was going to make her a little uncomfortable.
She slowly pulled off Faith's shirt and tried her very best not to look, or stare, even though she had the urge to. Her eyes kept attempting to drift over Faith's body but her willpower was stronger than her thought and she managed to stay on task. Buffy only grabbed the tank top she'd placed on the bed and helped her put it on. She did the same with the shorts and then let Faith crawl under the covers.
There was a moment where Buffy thought of leaving and letting Faith be alone for the night. The problem with that was the other girl had admitted she wasn't sleeping and Buffy had been leaving her on her own during those times. She wanted Faith rested for tomorrow, especially since she knew Giles would want to go over what had happened.
She shut off the light and walked to the other side of the bed, slowly sliding under the covers and moving next to Faith. There was a thought in the back of her mind about what her mother would say but she shook that away. Buffy knew it was understood that Faith wasn't left alone much lately.
Faith shivered and Buffy felt as though the other slayer didn't want her to notice. "Faith . . . are you okay?"
"Don't think I'll ever be okay," Faith mumbled out.
Buffy placed a hand on Faith's shoulder, causing her to turn and face her. "We're doing all this to get past everything, right? So you can move past feeling everything you've done and concentrate on working for the good side again."
"It needs to get out of my brain when I'm alone for more than five seconds to do that," Faith whispered. "It needs to get out of my head so I can sleep."
"It will," Buffy said even though she wasn't sure if it would. She could only hope at this point.
They were silent for a moment before Buffy pulled Faith a little closer so she could rest against her more. She felt Faith wanted to do that and the fact she felt her body relax against hers was proof enough. It felt as though she were protecting Faith from her dreams, especially since she swore she could feel the relief coming from the other slayer now that she was next to her.
"I'm not angry about you stabbing me, Buffy," Faith whispered, her eyes closed. "You had to. I know that."
She didn't say anything else but Buffy suddenly felt something. It felt as though a weight she had been carrying with her for over a year was beginning to lift. It wasn't gone but it heaviness was starting to be less of a burden. That was when she realized she knew she would be able to forgive Faith.
Maybe Buffy wouldn't be able to say it aloud now but she knew it was coming. And she was starting to become okay with that.
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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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