by Hayley

Chapter Seven

Faith was a part of the team.

That had been the goal and even though she had yet to go slaying, Faith was slowly starting to train and Buffy thought she was getting some of her confidence back, too. She thought it looked like the good kind of confidence as well. It was more of a "safe in the knowledge she'd win a fight" type and not so much the overwhelming untouchable cockiness she'd had in the past. That was a welcome improvement.

The hard part now was the rest of the gang needed to be able to work with Faith and though Buffy knew it would be hard at first, she hoped everyone would understand there wasn't a danger. The positive parts of the other slayer were beginning to come back, hints of her sense of humor and positive slaying attitude were starting to show, but all the bad was gone. It felt as though her good side was winning the battle with the bad.

"Guys, just listen, okay?" Buffy asked her friends as they sat in her living room. She thought it would be best to warm them up a little before having Faith talk with them. The other slayer was finishing up a workout in the backyard, giving Buffy an opportunity to state her case.

"I don't know, Buff," Xander said as he sat next to Willow, Tara and Anya. "Do you really think Faith can change?"

"He's right," Willow added carefully, looking nervous. "It hasn't been very long since she was all homicidal. I don't think someone wakes up and decides not to be a killer anymore."

Buffy paced in front of them and for a second thought about how strange it was that she had to defend Faith to her friends. Back in the beginning when Faith first showed up in Sunnydale they were the ones telling her to give Faith a chance. "You know if anyone should be weary it's me, right?" She paused as they slowly nodded. "Well, I've been around her every day and she's not the same. She's getting better."

"We can try, Buffy," Tara said quietly. "I know we haven't seen much of her but I can feel a change in her."

Willow turned her head to look at her. "You can? Since when?"

"I can sense it every time we cross paths. I know it's not much but it's something I feel."

Crossing paths seemed to be the correct phrase for how the gang and Faith treated each other. The Scoobies retreated once Faith showed up at Giles' or wasn't in her room when they were at Buffy's house and Faith made any excuse she could when it came time for a meeting in order to leave.

They heard the back door open and close then Faith appeared in the living room a few seconds later. She froze once she saw everyone since she had yet to sort of lengthy conversation with the group and had yet to address what she'd done to them. That was the problem with both parties not wanting to be in the same room.

"Uh, I'll be upstairs. Come grab me when it's time to start training, okay, B?"

She started to move toward the stairs but Buffy quickly stopped her. She leaned in, speaking quietly so only Faith could hear. "Now's as good a time as any, Faith."

Faith simply looked at her for a moment but then nodded and allowed Buffy to lead her over to the group. The pair sat down opposite the rest of them and Buffy waited patiently for Faith to start talking. She knew it couldn't look like the apology was forced. Faith had to do it on her own.

"I know you guys don't like that I'm here," Faith started out quietly. It looked like she was trying hard to look at them and not at the floor. "I don't think Buffy likes it much either. I'm trying to change all that though." She took a breath. "I know I'll never be able to make up for what I did. I'm so sorry for everything I did, everything that went wrong. I don't expect you to forgive me or anything. I just want a chance to do some

good finally."

No one said anything for a minute and Buffy had to stop herself from adding anything to Faith's apology. It already seemed odd to her friends that she was okay with Faith staying at her house and spending most of her time with her. She didn't want any added questions of why she was so invested in Team Faith. She knew some of those questions she probably wouldn't have an answer for.

"You're asking a lot, Faith," Willow said carefully. "I know Buffy's had more time with you to see the change but we really haven't. We're gonna need some time."

"Yeah," Xander said in agreement.

"As long as you don't get all stab-happy or try to steal my Xander, I don't think this really affects me," Anya commented as she crossed her arms and looked like she had better things to do.

Faith smiled nervously. "Don't worry, I know Xander's all yours. No 'stab-happy' either."

Buffy saw Faith look at her almost uncomfortably, like she wasn't sure what to say next. She still didn't want to join the conversation yet though so she stayed silent. The end result needed to be that even if they couldn't forgive Faith yet, they could at least tolerate her presence. She didn't want to push for that result.

"I can see you're changing, Faith," Tara said and Buffy was impressed that she didn't stutter, something she had a habit of doing when she was the center of attention. "I can see it in you even now. I've told Willow that you don't have the same aura you did when we saw you last."

Faith frowned and looked down for a second before looking at Tara. "I'm sorry about that night, too. I get that it was an important night for you two and you didn't deserve what I said."

Tara nodded and surprisingly Willow did, too. "You . . . you could start showing up to our meetings."

Xander had a serious look on his face, like he was having an internal debate on what was being said. "It's going to take some time but it does mean something that you're apologizing like this, Faith."

No one said anything for a minute and Buffy took that as her cue to start talking again. Faith had, in a way, been invited to the Scooby meetings and her friends didn't dismiss the apologies. She thought she could consider that a win.

"Well, I guess we can meet you guys later at Giles'," she said, smiling as the tension was beginning to leave the room. "We should probably do a little warming up before Giles tells us what to work on today."

All of them nodded and said their goodbyes. Buffy knew if they still had any serious doubts about Faith or really didn't want her to be a part of the team they would have said so. They wouldn't have kept quiet just because Faith was in the room or for Buffy's benefit. She had been fully prepared for that, too, but was glad she didn't need to have an argument with her best friends and their significant others in order for them to see Faith as part of the team. She was a slayer and whether they liked it or not, she belonged in the Scooby gang more than the rest of them. Buffy was especially thankful she hadn't needed to bring that fact up either. Their little meeting would not have ended well if that happened.

Once they had left Buffy turned back to Faith, who was still sitting down. "That didn't go too terribly."

Faith shook her head. "They don't believe me."

"I think they did, at least partially anyway," Buffy said, sitting down next to her. "If they didn't believe any of it they would've said so."

"I guess." Faith managed a smile. "Red's girlfriend has my back for some reason. Why? I figured she would've been told how evil I am."

"Willow says she's very intuitive," Buffy said, choosing to ignore the way Faith worded her comment. She wanted her to use past tense when talking about her misdeeds. "She says she can see how you've changed all around you when she looks at you. Or something like that. It's a magic thing, I guess."

Faith seemed to be okay with the explanation and stood up. She smiled and Buffy was thankful she was starting to have a better attitude about her situation but she figured that was more due to the fact Giles was beginning to let her train. Buffy thought her presence made her own training more enjoyable, too. It felt like she was getting the Faith she wanted back.

"Thanks for giving me some backup," Faith said.

Buffy stood up. "I didn't do anything. I just sat there."

"You did plenty, B." Faith took a step closer to her. "I don't think they would've heard me out if it wasn't for you being here and you know it."

"I guess that's true." That was something she had to admit. She had to tell some half-truths to make sure everyone showed up at the house in the morning. It reason she gave was a Scooby meeting and while it was that, she didn't mention that Faith would be the topic. "But they showed and listened. I couldn't make them do that."

"Just be quiet and accept the thanks, B." Faith smiled before leaning in and lightly kissing her. "Thanks for everything. I'll see out outside."

She grinned and walked into the kitchen. Buffy heard the back door open and close a few seconds later so she knew Faith was getting ready for training. That was something she should be doing, too.

Instead, she just stood there in shock for a few seconds. So many thoughts zipped through her head she didn't have time to process them all. Faith had kissed her.

She had no idea what she was going to do next.

Faith's mood was improving and that was the most positive development since the other slayer had come back to Sunnydale. Instead of being withdrawn like she was at the start, she was starting to smile and talk more. Buffy thought her nightmares were decreasing, too, though she didn't know that for sure. Faith didn't like to talk about that much.

She thought her mother had a lot to do with that. Since Faith still wasn't going slaying even though she made it known that she wanted nothing more than to go on patrol, she was spending many nights with only Joyce Summers. Buffy was sure Faith found it easier to confide in her than she would with Giles and the other girl probably had talked more to her than even to Buffy. She had to admit she was a little envious of that.

The Chosen Two were getting closer as well but not in the way Buffy expected. There had been a couple kisses over the last week since the first one Faith had initiated and Buffy had to admit she didn't hate them. She had even responded the last time.

What made the kissing a little complicated was that Faith usually ended up sleeping in Buffy's room. She wasn't sure if it was because she was still having some of the night terrors that tormented her or if it was simply a comfort issue but there were still times that they ended up together. It seemed like being near her made Faith almost nightmare-free.

As they walked back from Giles', their instruction for the day being complete, Buffy thought about what made Faith want to kiss her. She had never noticed that she'd had feelings for her or anything and didn't think Faith was doing it to simply mess with her head. The thought was that she'd try to talk about it if that was the case and they hadn't.

"You wanna go for a run before your mom gets home?"

Buffy turned to look at Faith. They other slayer smiled and she couldn't help but smile back. "Think I'll pass. I might take a nap before patrol."

Faith nodded. "I won't be long then."

Giles had decided since Faith didn't seem to be a danger to herself any longer and starting to act more positive that she would be allowed to go places on her own. He still wanted her to check in at all times and not go too far though but Buffy figured it wouldn't be long before Faith was out patrolling on her own. She hoped sooner rather than later on that. It would be nice to be able to both sleep and study at night by the time college started and patrol made that impossible most of the time.

They walked the rest of the way in silence and Buffy realized that the silences between them were comfortable now. She didn't feel tense around her anymore and definitely didn't feel as though she was a threat. It even felt like they were starting to become friends.

The couple of kisses that might lead to a more-than-friends part she pushed aside, wanting to wait until later to think about it.

Once they got back to the house, Faith quickly changed and left, leaving Buffy to relax on the couch. She was more tired than she thought because even though her intent was to maybe doze a little while watching TV, the moment her head hit the throw pillow she was fast asleep. Before she knew it someone was shaking her lightly.

"Buffy, honey?" Joyce asked as she looked down at her. "How long have you been asleep?"

Buffy blinked a few times and looked over at the clock, sadly realizing it hadn't been long at all. "Only about 15 minutes."

"Where's Faith?"

"She went for a run," Buffy answered as she sat up. "I passed."

Her mother smiled. "It's good to see Mr. Giles is giving her more freedom. I know she's doing so much better than when she first came here." When Buffy only nodded she continued. "I bet even the nightmares have stopped . . . thought I bet Faith almost didn't want them to."

Buffy raised an eyebrow at her last comment. "They haven't stopped, Mom, and why wouldn't she want them to? When she had them she wakes up in a cold sweat and they scare her so much she doesn't ever want to sleep. Last time I think she was even scratching herself in her sleep and I thought I saw a bruise."

"That's not what I mean," she said as she sat down next to Buffy. "I see more than you think. I know how Faith gets to sleep without having the nightmares some nights."

"Oh," was all Buffy could think to say.

"Don't worry," Joyce said, a reassuring smile on her face. "There's no judgment coming from me, only pride that my daughter can overcome her feelings to help someone." She paused. "You need to be careful, Buffy. I think how you're helping Faith means more to her than you realize."

Buffy furrowed her brow. "What do you mean?"

"I think you know what I mean, honey." She padded her knee lightly. "I don't want to see either of you hurt."

As she moved to get up the front door opened and closed and Faith walked into the living room a moment later. "Hey, Mrs. S."

"Hi, Faith," Joyce greeted her. "I was just about to start dinner."

"Cool, I'm gonna jump in the shower and get changed," Faith said. "We watching that movie tonight?"

"Mr. Giles still isn't letting you patrol?" Joyce looked from Faith to Buffy for an explanation.

Buffy shook her head. "No, but I think I'll talk to Giles about having you start with me in the next couple nights. It's time."

Faith's face immediately brightened. "Can't wait. The Chosen Two back in action."

She ran upstairs after making another quiet comment that she needed a shower and Buffy couldn't help but watch her go. She wondered if her mother was right about Faith. Maybe there was something there.

Joyce cleared her throat, causing Buffy to look back at her. "Like I said, I don't want to see either of you get hurt."

Before Buffy could even think of a response, Joyce walked toward the kitchen, leaving her to think about everything she said.

Buffy had barely any sleep yet or at least it felt like it.

The vampire activity had been a lot worse in the past couple nights and she felt as though they had the worst timing in the world. Before all the activity the nightly patrols had been slow and she had hoped they would continue to be that way until Faith got out there, something that hadn't happened yet.

She didn't see why it hadn't happened but when she talked to Giles about it he didn't agree with her. He had said he didn't feel she was ready yet, even if she would be out there with both Buffy and him. Buffy disagreed with him but she lost the argument in the end and that left two very unhappy slayers.

There had to be a way to get Faith back patrolling but Buffy hadn't found a successful argument yet.

Now she was being woken up because the warmth that had been next to her was no longer there. Buffy groaned and opened her eyes to see Faith trying to quietly sneak out of her room.

"Faith, what are you doing?" Buffy asked groggily.

The other slayer looked back at her with a worried expression on her face. "I slept too late and I left my bedroom door open last night."


Faith raised an eyebrow. "And I don't think your mom would be too happy about it."

Before the talk with her mother a couple days ago Buffy knew she probably would've panicked, too, but since she knew there wasn't a problem the only feeling she had was exhaustion. She hadn't bothered to check to make sure both bedroom doors were closed because there wasn't a secret to protect.

"Don't worry. She knows."

"What do you mean she knows?"

"Faith, there were a couple of nights where she could probably hear you," Buffy said in an exhausted tone. "She knows that sometimes being around me helps you sleep. It's fine."

Neither of them said anything for a moment. It looked as though Faith was trying to go over all the implications of having Joyce know that there were times she needed to spend her nights in Buffy's room. Buffy thought maybe there were other feelings going through her mind now, too, and she didn't want to think about that when she'd only been asleep for a few hours before she'd been woken up. The need to talk was there but not this early in the morning.

"Come on, I know you're tired, too." Buffy wasn't sure why she was trying to convince Faith to lie down with her other than she liked and missed the warmth. There may have been some other feelings in there as well but there wasn't any time to think about them. "I could tell you didn't sleep until I got back."

When she got back from patrol she could tell it wasn't very long before sun would begin to rise and once she got to her room she found Faith there. It had looked like she had been trying to sleep but she was above the blankets and covered in a thin layer of sweat. It made Buffy sad to see it because the last three nights she'd been sleeping in her own room, nightmare-free.

Buffy almost wanted to consider that someone or something was causing Faith the additional torment because after the initial visits to all the Sunnydale places the nightmares had begun to fade. Giles didn't agree with the theory, however, and said it was likely just a case of Faith being her own worst enemy. Her watcher said it would probably go away once she had fully dealt with her past. People accepting her apologies and confronting her mistakes were only part of the healing and redemption process.

"You could?"

"Yeah," Buffy answered. "Come on, we both need more sleep if we're gonna convince Giles you need to patrol."

Faith looked at her for another few seconds before walking over and sliding under the covers once again. She kept a further distance this time, keeping a space between them. Buffy could tell she was more relaxed though, especially considering how she was when she got back from patrol.

"Sorry you found me here when you got back." Faith turned on her side to face her. "When I wake up now it's almost like whatever's happening in the nightmare is still with me, like I'm still asleep or something. After that, I didn't know what to do. I didn't wanna wake up your mom or anything by trying to go back to sleep so I thought I'd wait for you here."

"Were you still seeing it when I got back?"

"Yeah," Faith said, nodding. "They're so real but I knew you were back 'cause they started to fade away."

"What was it this time?" Buffy asked quietly. She knew Faith didn't like talking about them. It made them more real in her eyes but every once and a while she mentioned what happened. Their reappearance was a little troubling.

"It was like someone was playing with my future," Faith said quietly. "Except I left LA alone and went nuts. I kept getting in this fight over and over and there was all this blood. Everything feels like it's real. I even thought I had a bruise last night when I woke up."

"Faith, that's not normal."

She shrugged. "I kinda figured I was doing it to myself so I don't think much of it. You know, that I'm hitting myself while everything goes on in here." She put a finger to her forehead.

Buffy furrowed her brow, wanting to sleep but wanting to know what was going on with Faith, too. "You don't do that when I'm here."

"You keep 'em away, B."

There was nothing she could think of as a response so she only smiled. "I need a couple more hours of sleep before dealing with Giles and I know you do, too, especially if we're going to convince him to have us patrol as a team."

Faith nodded and a small smile appeared on her face before leaning in and lightly kissing Buffy, something she returned without even thinking about it. The other slayer didn't say anything, only hesitantly closed her eyes and Buffy looked her over as she did. She could see how tired she was but she also noticed what looked to be a fading bruise on her arm.

That wasn't something she liked at all and she made a mental note to ask Giles and maybe Willow about it later. If something magical involved she wanted it to stop. She pulled Faith close, almost in a protective manner, and she felt Faith relax as she did.

The implications of their newfound closeness were screaming at Buffy but she chose to ignore it for now. Instead, she insisted to herself that she was only doing what she was because Faith needed to heal and she needed to be rested and healthy to do that. It didn't hurt that Faith seemed to like it.

She didn't mind it all that much either and that was the main reason she fell asleep so fast.

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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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