by Hayley

Chapter Two

"You hung out with Faith yesterday?"

I nod as Willow and I stand around in the kitchen as I try to figure out what to eat for breakfast. "Yeah."

"Most of the day? Really? Faith?"

"Yes, Will," I say and try not to sigh. It shouldn't be this shocking. "As much as you probably don't want to be anywhere near Faith one on one, I think it's important that I at least try to be friends with her. She's the only one who knows what it's like to be me."

"I never said I didn't want to be anywhere near her," Willow says, looking away from me.

"That's kind of what it's looks like," I respond and try to smile. "You just need to get over the whole Xander thing. It's been a few months and everyone else has decided to forget about it. Faith's actually kind of fun to hang out with."

"What did you do?"

"She attempted to teach me how to play video games on her Playstation."

Willow starts laughing and I start to scowl. "Sorry, Buff, but I can't even begin to imagine what that would be like. Maybe she doesn't want to be friends after that."

"It wasn't that bad," I insist. It was pretty bad though. Faith made it seem like it wasn't but I was terrible and apparently can't be taught even after hours of trying. "Okay, maybe Faith just has incredible patience when it comes to that. You should join us next time."

"I don't know about that. Faith never talks about anything but slaying and then she's only talking to you. Well, she talks about . . ." she doesn't finish her sentence but I know what she's getting at. The blush says it all.

"We didn't talk about slaying yesterday . . . or anything else you would think." I can tell right away she doesn't believe me. "Okay, we didn't talk about slaying until we actually went slaying. We talked about other stuff, too."

"So there's more to Faith than slaying and tight clothes?"

I nod. "Yeah, there is. She's just never really had friends before and has huge trust issues. I'm working on that though. If she trusts me while we're slaying she should all the time."

Willow looks a little uncomfortable but then says, "Faith is kind of intimidating. Like, everything about her is all in your face."

I know what she's getting at because that's what I used to see before yesterday, too. I can't help but wonder if she's talking about the way Faith dresses, too. That's not something I can bring up without causing both of us to blush though given the amount of cleavage and skin she shows. "I think that's just for show."

"You're really serious about wanting Faith to hang out with all of us more, aren't you?"

"Yeah." I nod. "She's gonna be around for as long as, well . . . for awhile and she doesn't need to live the normal 'fight alone' slayer lifestyle. I'd like to think we've proved being a slayer doesn't have to mean being alone."

"Group slaying," Willow says, smiling. "We definitely started a trend."

"And Faith is one of that group."

She nods. "What are you suggesting we all do together?"

"Nothing big. I'm taking baby steps here," I say. It's a little funny I'm afraid I'll scare Faith off but it's a legitimate fear as far as I'm concerned. "Do you have plans tonight?"

"Yeah, Oz doesn't have practice and the Dingoes aren't playing so it's date night." My best friend gets a cute little lovesick smile on her face. "Tomorrow maybe? It'd just be me since Oz'll be at practice."

The fact that I think I have Willow on board with my plans to make Faith part of the group for good makes me immediately smile. It's also cute how she acts when she talks about Oz. She's crazy about him and what's even better is that he's pretty crazy about her, too. That's another reason for me to hang out with Faith. I'd be the third wheel otherwise.

"Maybe you can meet us for patrol and we can hang out afterwards."

Willow still looks a little nervous but nods. "It's a plan."

It's been a couple of days since I've seen Faith and I'm a little worried she thinks I didn't have a good time when I was at her apartment. I had said we would hang out more and now it might look like I'm trying to avoid her and I'm so not.

My mom wanted to have a mother/daughter day the day after we hung out so instead of hanging out with Faith I was doing some shopping. I almost thought about asking her if Faith could come along but my mom has been getting all sentimental about me leaving for college so it was probably for the best that Faith didn't see the mushiness.

The next day I spent at the gallery because a shipment came in and my mom needed help. It went late so I had to change the plans of having a girls' night with Willow and Faith. I didn't even get a chance to patrol much so I didn't even see her then. Now I have to try to do that tonight and convince her I'm not avoiding her.

"Buffy, honey," I hear my mom call from downstairs, "Faith is on the phone."

I don't think Faith has ever called me. It feels a little weird. "Coming!"

My mom's holding the phone out for me when I get downstairs and smiles as I take it from her. If I didn't know any better I'd think she was up to something. "Hey, what's up?"

"I've been invited to dinner for one."

I look back at my mom and she's doing her very best to ignore my stare. "Really?"

"Yeah, that's cool, right?"

"Why wouldn't it be?"

There's a pause on her end and having her come over shouldn't be this awkward. "I dunno. I just . . . we hung out and then I didn't hear from you for a couple days and you didn't show during patrol. Thought maybe I scared you off."

"Not possible," I say. "Willow might meet us for patrol tonight."

"No Oz tonight?"

"I think he's with the band."

I can almost see her nodding. Now that we're talking on the phone I realize that most of what I get from Faith I pick up from her body language.

Not that I'm constantly checking out her body all the time or anything.

"B? You still there?"

"Yeah," I say quickly, "yeah, still here. You coming over or what? It looks like my mom's gonna go all out."

She laughs. "Well, I don't wanna disappoint then. See you in a few."

Faith hangs up before I can say anything else and I'm left holding the phone for a moment before setting it down. It never dawned on me that not seeing her for a couple days after making a big deal that we should be friends would make her think that maybe I'd changed my mind. I guess I should've known she might react like that after what she'd said when we hung out though.

"Is Faith coming over?"

I walk into the kitchen and see my mom is in full on cooking mode. "Yeah, she's coming over now."

"I must say I like that the two of you are finally starting to talk to each other. I had thought that once Faith came to Sunnydale she would be over here all the time. It seems like you two would have so much in common."

"I don't know," I say as I lean against the counter. "Faith's not much of a talker, I guess. I kind of want to change that."

"It would be nice to have her take over more of the slaying so you can concentrate on college, don't you think?" my mom says and that's not the first time she's said it. She's all about me going to college and when she heard that Faith had no intention of joining me, the thought that I wouldn't have to be a full-time slayer moved to the front of her mind again.

I shake my head lightly. "That's not how it works, Mom. We're both equally responsible."

She looks like she really wants to fight me on that but she doesn't. I think she knows it's a losing battle right now but I also know that's not the last I'll hear of it either. Ever since she found out I was a slayer she's been in denial that this will always be my life. Sure, I can have friends and maybe a more normal life if I'm still around in the future but I'll always have slaying. It's not going to go away.

Thankfully, my mom changes the subject and starts talking about something that happened at the gallery today and about something funny one of customers did. I just listen to her as she talks, occasionally asking a question. It's nice to be able to just have a normal conversation for once.

That's something else I want to change this summer. I want to be closer to my mom. Slaying kinda stopped that from happening the last couple years and I hate that I let that happen.

Soon the doorbell rings and I smile before walking over to the front door, opening it to find a nervous looking Faith on the other side. She looks as uncomfortable as I've ever seen her.

"Hey." Faith tries to smile and it looks off. I think that's because she's trying to keep her flirty smile in check.

Every smile Faith has looks flirty.

"Hey." I smile back. "Come in and try not to look nervous."

"I'm not nervous."

"Really?" I laugh quietly. "Could've fooled me." I close the door and walk with her into the living room. "It's not like you've never been over here before."

"Yeah, for slaying stuff," Faith says. "Other than that, it was just that one time when I first got here."

I think about that for a second and I know she's right but I have to think that part of the reason why she's nervous is because of my mom. I don't know anything about hers other than that what she said the other day but I'm sure my mom is the exact opposite. My mom never said she never wanted me, that's for sure.

"Just give me a sign if she asks a question you don't want to answer and I'll distract her," I say and that gets a grin out of her.

"It's cool, B," she says and I see she's starting to relax a little. "I bet your mom's pretty cool."

Before I can say anything about that my mom walks into the room and smiles warmly. "Faith, I'm happy you're here and I hope you're hungry."

"Always, Mrs. S," she says.

"Well, dinner's ready."

We end up in the dining room and my mom has made an amazing amount of food. I have this feeling that she overcompensating for the fact that she feels Faith doesn't get a good meal very often. That's probably true since I know for a fact that she lives on takeout but this meal is over the top. How am I going to patrol after eating all this?

"This is a lot of food," Faith comments as she sits down. "How is B so damn skinny when you cook like this?"

I can tell Faith's form of flattery is working instantly. "Well, this is a special occasion and I don't think you get a good meal much living in that apartment by yourself. Do you cook a lot, Faith?"

She shakes her head. "Nah, but there's a lot of good places near my place. It beats trying to burn my place down by trying to use the stove."

We all laugh a little at that and concentrate on eating for awhile. I can see Faith is trying her best to stay quiet and keep her attention on her food. I bet she thinks that way my mom won't be constantly asking questions.

"So, Faith, why aren't you going to school?"

Faith sets her fork down and stops eating for the first time since we've sat down. "School's never been my thing. Seems like going back would be a form of self-torture for me."

"Maybe you just need to find something you want to learn about."

She shrugs. "I kind of like just working a little and slaying."

My mom looks over at me and gives me a look that seems to say "see?" and I hope she doesn't use this time to try to get Faith to give me nights off or something. I'm trying to use the summer to get Faith to be my friend, not to convince her that she should take over for me.

"Besides," Faith adds, "Buffy's gotta do the whole college thing. I figure that means she'll need more time to study and less time for slaying."

"It doesn't mean that," I put in quickly before my mom can get too excited. "Giles is still going to want me to do all the slaying stuff and the Council will definitely want to get all their money's worth out of me."

Faith nods. "Yeah, they're probably keeping a close eye on us now that there's money involved."

"I have to say I don't care of that Quentin Travers much." Both Faith and I look at her with that comment. "He thinks he should have control over your lives and it's not right. Maybe you should've both quit the Council."

"It's fine for now, Mrs. S," Faith says. "They're paying us and they're letting B go to college. That's more than what they actually want at this point."

"If you say so."

"We're both fine with everything," I say, trying to add to what Faith said.

Faith takes the opportunity to look at the clock and then at me. "Is Willow coming here? 'Cause we should get going if not."

"I'll have to call her," I say then turn to my mom. "We should get ready to go. I might be at Faith's afterwards."

"Okay," she says as she stands and smiles, "please be careful."

"No worries, Mrs. S." Faith smiles again and I see she's more relaxed than when she first showed up. Maybe that's because my mom didn't ask her any personal questions. "I have her back."

Once we're in the living room again I turn to Faith. "I hope that's okay."

"What's okay?"

"We never said if we're doing anything after patrol but I just told my mom I might be over there," I explain. "I hope it's okay I said that."

Faith grins. "Sure thing, B. I liked hanging with ya."

Her smile is infectious because now I'm smiling, too. It makes me think if what will happen when we add Willow to the mix.

"You tried to teach Buffy how to play Grand Theft Auto?"

Somehow I knew this was coming. Faith and I met up with Willow a few blocks away from the first cemetery and it was a little awkward at first. I don't think either of them knew what to say to each other so no one said anything. That is, until Willow brought up my lack of understanding how to play any sort of video game.

Now they are talking . . . by making fun of me.

"It was pretty hysterical. I've never seen someone hit the wrong button so many times in a row."

Willow laughs and Faith laughs and I am definitely not laughing. "It is not that funny."

Faith puts an arm around my shoulders as we walk through the cemetery. We heard about a couple suspicious deaths so we're heading toward the new graves. That way we can stake them before they cause any trouble.

"It's a little funny, B." Faith has this relaxed grin on her face and it looks like making fun of me has made everyone more comfortable around each other. "Don't worry. I won't give up on you yet."

The smile on her face makes me smile. "I don't really like to embarrass myself. Isn't it easier to just watch a movie when you get bored?"

"For you, maybe."

We reach the graves then and Will and I take a seat on a couple of gravestones. You know, it seemed morbid for me to do that when I first got called in LA and now I don't even think twice. It makes me wonder how long it took for my friends to think walking through cemeteries at night was normal.

"So, Willow," Faith starts and I hope this ends well, "how pissed was your mom when you didn't pick one of those high and mighty colleges?"

Willow looks at me and I breathe a small sigh of relief. I was sure she was about to ask about Willow and Oz's sex life. "Uh, my parents kind of do their own thing. I got a full scholarship so they didn't have to pay and I think that's all that matters."

Faith laughs. "I would've figured you for an Ivy League kind of girl."

"Tempting but I don't think I can delve into magic the way I can here."

"Yeah," I agree, "there's no place like Sunnydale to study something paranormal."

It looks like Willow might want to ask Faith a question, she looks like she's finally more comfortable around her, when the dirt starts to shift. We watch as the newbie vamp crawls his way out of the ground. Faith's been standing so she's the one who pulls him the rest of the way out of the ground by his collar and stands him up.

"Sorry, man, but you gotta go," she says as he gives her a very confused look.

She stakes him quickly and I always think this is the easiest part about slaying. Unless the sire is close by, and most of the time they're not, most of the new ones have no idea what's happening when they rise. They're easy to stake and we're putting them down before they realize what they are. It's win-win.

"Was there more than just the one?" Willow asks as we both stand.

"I think the other one's in another cemetery." Faith gives me a look that tells me she wishes there were more than just one. "Let's check out the next one. Maybe we'll get lucky."

"I thought no vamps was a good thing," Willow comments as we follow Faith, who's walking away from the now empty grave.

"Only if you don't want to stake anything," I say.

"And you should always wanna stake something," Faith states quickly. She turns around and grins, her dimples on full show as she walks backwards. "Come on, Red . . . you can tell me embarrassing stories about B until we find something."

Will seems to really like that 'cause she's all smiles when she looks at me. I know it has more to do with the fact that Faith is actually talking to her and it's not awkward but I'm less than thrilled that it's at my expense. Can't they talk about something that doesn't involve discussing the stupid things I've done?

It's times like this I'm happy I've only been in Sunnydale a couple years. There's only a limited number of stories and therefore times I can be embarrassed.

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