by Hayley

Chapter Three

I've been hanging out with Faith pretty consistently for over a week now and I still don't know much about her. At least, nothing deeply personal. She's hasn't shared any of her hopes and dreams or anything like that.

All I know is that she's fun to hang out with.

It's not like we've been constantly together but I do see her every day. If Willow's not around, I usually end up at Faith's apartment in the afternoon. We watch TV or do a little hand to hand combat that won't endanger any of her furniture. The Playstation is only on when I finally give in to playing.

I can't believe I even won that battle but I think as long as we do a little training she's okay with anything.

Today I decided to sleep in a little so by the time I got out of bed my mom had left for work and I had the house to myself. I know I'm not going to get this kind of privacy once I'm in the dorms so I try my best to make the most of it when I get the opportunity. It's part of the reason I never see Faith, or anyone else really, until the afternoon: morning are for me.

Breakfast consists of cereal and yogurt and I'm about to enjoy it on the couch while I watch a little crappy daytime TV when the doorbell rings. I'm still in my pajamas but I kind of figure it's Willow so I walk over to the door and open it to find . . . Faith, who's standing there with an amused grin on her face.

"Cute jammies, B," she says as she laughs quietly.

I look down and I think that my pajamas are adorable. They're light blue with little penguins on them. "What's wrong with them?"

"Aren't you a little too old for those?"

I narrow my eyes because there's a sex joke coming if I say the wrong thing. "Since they make these in adult sizes I'm gonna say no."

"I'd make a short joke but then I think you probably won't let me in," Faith says. "Which you have yet to do."

"Oh." I step aside to let her inside and shut the door behind her. "What's going on today?"

She shrugs. "I thought we could hang out here since you've been over at my place every day." She sets a bag she's been carrying on the floor next to the stairs. "And it's easier to train here. I don't exactly have a backyard or anything."

The weapons in the bag clink together as the bag hits the floor and it makes me wonder what she brought over. I don't have anything set up in the back or anything. Giles was supposed to find us a place to train but nothing's come of that yet.

"Don't worry, just small stuff," Faith says since she must see me eye the bag. "I'm not sure how it'd look if I carried the big weapons over here." She sighs as she sits on the couch. "I need a car."

"Like a slayer mobile?" I ask with a small grin on my face as I sit down next to her.

"Yes!" She's all excited now. "We could get a slaying van, only it won't be creepy."

"Vans are creepy?"

"The only people who own vans are band members and sickos."

She seems to know from experience but I pick my battles on getting her to talk more about herself. I try to only concentrate on the good. I pick up my bowl of cereal and eat a little. "Did you eat breakfast? You can grab some cereal if you want."

Faith's up and walking toward the kitchen before I'm even done talking. "Don't have to ask me twice, B."

The only thing I can do is laugh to myself as I concentrate on eating. I wonder if Faith will want to hang out all day. I can only imagine the amount of food my mom will make if she comes home and finds Faith here.

"I always knew you'd love the sugary, non-healthy cereal," Faith says as she walks back to the couch with a heaping bowl of cereal. "You always try to make it sound like you're into all that health food junk but I know better."

I shake my head. "I had yogurt, too. That healthiness evens out the cereal."

We look at each other before laughing and then start eating. Faith is a fast eater, like if she doesn't eat as fast as she can someone might take it away from her. When she first showed up in Sunnydale I was a little put off by it but now I know that's just a part of the whole Faith package and I don't think twice about it.

"What's Red do during the day anyway? I almost thought she'd be over here."

Now that's a funny story. "She's probably at work."

Faith's eyebrows shoot up. "One of you actually has a job. You're joking, right?"

"Her parents are making her intern at a law office or something," I explain. "It's their form of punishment for her choosing UC Sunnydale and not some Ivy League place."

"Punishment?" Faith manages to laugh out. "Her parents think way differently than mine."

I can only shrug at that. Willow's parents are a little weird but it is Sunnydale. "They want her to see what she'll be missing by not going to a top notch school, especially when all of them were offering full scholarships. I guess they think staying in Sunnydale is career suicide."

"It's really a whole other kind of suicide to stay in Sunnydale." Faith sets her now empty bowl on the coffee table. "Mrs. S seems to be the type who'd want you to get a job, too."

"I think it probably crossed her mind once or twice, especially since she sees that you're working and slaying at the same time." I shake my head. "Thanks for that."

"Hey, not my fault I get bored."

"Kind of is," I counter but I'm not serious. Nothing about any of our conversations lately are serious. "But my mom is letting me have one last relaxing summer anyway."

Faith leans back on the couch and closes her eyes for a second. I look down at my empty bowl before taking hers and walking to the kitchen to clean up. By the time the bowls are in the sink I hear Faith lean against the counter.

"Have you ever had a job, B?"

The fact I have to think for a moment says more before I even say a word. "Does babysitting count?"

"For your sake, I'll say yes."

I laugh at that. "And you? I mean, before this bar one."

"Does being a thief count?"

Only Faith would say something like that with the look she does now. It's not quite a smile but not quite a smirk. I shake my head at her before walking out of the kitchen with Faith following close behind. We settle back in on the couch and I think I can get her to talk a little more about herself. Call me crazy but I think she just gave me a little window.

"Are you talking about Boston or here?"

Faith turns to me and the look on her face is unreadable. "Little of both . . . which do you wanna know about?"

"Let's start with Boston."

"Okay," Faith agrees. "So before I was called I was kind of a delinquent. I didn't really hang out with the greatest people and we used to kind of steal stuff from stores for the hell of it."

I don't think Faith realizes that she has a tell when she isn't telling the complete truth. She can't look anyone in the eye and she's not doing that now. "That's not all though, right?"

She shrugs. "When my ma was being her normal neglectful self I might have stolen some food here and there and maybe some clothes for school. I was on my own a lot and sometimes I just had to steal to get by. Too young to get an actual job, you know?"

There are at least a dozen questions in my head now but then she's either gonna make up a reason not to answer them and leave or she's just gonna brush me off. I don't want either but I still want to know more. "And what about Sunnydale?"

"I didn't live in that disgusting motel 'cause I wanted to, B. I had to scam and steal and try to get by the only way I knew how. No one else was looking out for me but me."

I smile. "But you don't have to do that anymore at least."

Faith smiles back. "Guess I finally caught a break. Only took 18 years."

"It couldn't have been always that bad in Boston."

"Well," Faith starts out but then stops and narrows her eyes at me, "what's with me doing all the talking here? When you wanted to ask me all these questions we agreed that I would be asking you questions, too."

And there goes my line of questioning. I knew she would catch on quickly. "Sure . . . go ahead."

The look on her face makes me a little nervous. "Willow told me once you were different before you got called. Like, Cordelia different. Is that true?"

I nod. "I was popular if that's what you mean."

"Prom queen?"

I nod again and I know this is gonna end with her teasing me about something. "I was a cheerleader and was in the popular crowd and pretty much had anything I wanted before I was called."

"And you probably didn't give the masses a second look."

The look she's giving me is not something I really like but that's because I know what she's getting at. I was a kind of a bitch before I was called and one of the good things that came out of being the slayer was that I grew out of being that person. I don't think I would end up being a decent adult if I hadn't been called.

"I guess getting called was a good thing in a way," I say quietly. "Slaying made me an outcast with my friends because I was always running off and making excuses at why I was late or why my clothes were dirty and ripped up when I eventually showed."

"Is that what happened when you and your ma moved here?"

"I don't know," I admit. "Cordelia and her minions started to befriend me but then I saw how they treated people and I knew I wouldn't fit in. They didn't really like me after that."

Faith smiles a little. "Who were they picking on? Willow?"

She knows me too well. "Yeah," I confirm. "I like to think I made the right choice."

"Yeah," Faith agrees. "I probably wouldn't have stuck around if I had shown up and someone like Cordy was the slayer. I would've done what I needed to do and gotten the hell outta here."

If I didn't know Faith as much as I do I know that could probably be an insult. Who knows? It still might be but looking into her eyes right now it's probably a compliment. I'm part of the reason she stuck around after we got rid of Kakistos.

"I like that you stayed," I say. "It made the last year a lot easier."


We both look away from each other and neither of us says anything for a minute. Faith starts to pick at some imaginary fuzz on her shirt and it makes me contemplate whether or not I can continue to ask her questions.


She looks at me and gives me a small smile. "Yeah?"

"Are all those slaying stories true? Seriously, no lying."

Faith laughs. "Yeah, they're true."

I narrow my eyes a little. They really can't all be true. "I don't know that I completely believe that. Some of them were pretty . . ."

"B, when I got here I was told some pretty unbelievable stories, too. You can't believe that I saved people while naked but I'm supposed to believe you guys were getting sucked into the floor of the high school? Are you serious with that?"

Maybe she does have a point there. I hold up a hand in surrender. "Okay, you have a point but can you really say there was zero exaggeration on your part?"

Now it's her turn to narrow her eyes at me. "Maybe I make it a little more dramatic."

"I knew it!"

"But it all still happened!"

I start laughing at her because the look on her face is so animated and it only takes a few seconds for her to join me. Faith looks so happy and carefree when she laughs like this, not like when she first arrived in Sunnydale. She's not as guarded anymore, at least not around me. I think she trusts me more now.

Faith stops laughing and hits me in the arm lightly. "So what will your neighbors think if they see us fighting with knives in the backyard?"

"They'll get over it," I say. Honestly, I probably couldn't even name most of my neighbors if Faith asked. "No one really looks in the backyard."

"Let's do it then, girlfriend."

"Does your mom really think I'm gonna show up for dinner every night?"

I shrug. "Is it really that bad?"

The last three days we've been hanging out at the house instead of Faith's apartment so we can have more space to train. After the first time we worked on some hand to hand fighting in my backyard we hung out at Faith's the next day. We got bored and sparred a little . . . until we broke her coffee table.

Faith was not happy about that.

My mom usually comes home from work while we're still going at it and just assumes Faith is staying for dinner. It wasn't a big deal until tonight when she joked that she was just going to have to make food for three every night from now on. It was just a joke, my mom hinting that we spend a lot of time together now, but I'm pretty sure Faith took it the wrong way.

"Maybe I should just stick with hanging with you during the patrol," she comments as we walk toward our first cemetery. "And maybe you could do that solo for a couple nights. I gotta work anyway."

Yep, she definitely took it the wrong way.

"Faith, she was kidding." I smile at her in an attempt to get her to stop overreacting. "It's just that we're finally starting to hang out more and we used to go days and days without even seeing each other. My mom noticed."

Faith grumbles something but even with slayer hearing I can't make it out. I knew Faith was a little sensitive when it came to, well, most social settings, but I had thought that once she was fully in with our group that some of that would go away.

She might try to play it that she's full of confidence and doesn't care what anyone says about her but I know better. It's actually the first thing I noticed when she came to Sunnydale but calling her on it was never a good thing. No matter how much she tries to play that nothing gets under her skin anytime someone makes a comment that maybe she's somewhere she might not belong all the light leaves her eyes.

I stop and grab her arm. "Don't do what you're doing right now."

"What? Walking?" she asks sarcastically.

"You know what I mean," I challenge and even though she shakes her arm away I don't let go. "You want to be one of the gang, right? You want to be friends with me?"

She nods slowly. "Yeah, B. That's why we've been hanging out."

"Then you need to learn that when people notice you've been hanging around more than normal, they're not necessarily trying to get you to leave." I let go of her arm. "Especially not my mom. Trust me, she wants to feed you. She keeps nagging at me that eating takeout every day isn't good for you."

"Oh . . . I guess I didn't think about that."

"So now you realize you're being stupid?"

Faith scowls. "I don't think I would go that far."

I smile and put an arm around her shoulders. Her shoulders tense for a split second but then she relaxes against me. Faith isn't used to us being all buddy-buddy so it's not often that I have an arm around her shoulders. But it's feels pretty natural for me.

We don't talk for a few minutes as we talk through the cemetery. There still isn't the amount of vamps that Faith would like because we only come across a handful each night but we're slowly getting more action. Even though I knew it wouldn't last forever I really liked having a break from all the slaying. It meant I could actually relax.

Faith and I don't think the same on that. It's easy to see that since the moment she sees a vamp off in the distance she moves away from me and is off and running.

"I got this one, B!"

There isn't a chance that I would be able to catch up with her and attempt to fight for the chance to slay so I only continue walking in the direction she's run off to. A couple seconds later I hear the sounds of a fight and I move a little faster but only to see Faith in action.

She does put on quite a show when she slays.

When I make it to the fight it's only in time to see Faith dust the vamp. He must have gotten a hit in though because her lip is bleeding. She doesn't look all that happy about it either since she's scowling as she touches her lip.

"Are you okay?" I ask as I put my fingers up to her lip. I don't exactly touch her though but that's because she's looking at me weird.

"Just caught me off guard," she says as she wipes her lip and smirks at me. "Not getting rid of me that easily."

"No one wants to get rid of you."

"I dunno," Faith says as she stays within a few inches of me. She's close enough that I'm very aware that she's still breathing heavily from the fight. "You sure took your sweet time in getting here. What if I needed backup?"

I think she's almost daring me to back away but I don't want to be the one to blink first. We are competitive about everything lately. "You can handle yourself."

Faith smirks and winks. "Damn right."

There really isn't anything I can say to that. Even though I think Faith can be a little sensitive she still doesn't lack for confidence when it comes to slaying. All I can do after Faith takes down a vamp is shake my head and smile. Anything else will feed her ego.

"Come on, B," Faith says as we start walking again, "I bet we can find a few more in the next cemetery."

I shrug. "You know, you should like that we get a break right now. I'm okay with only coming across a few vamps a night. It won't always be that way."

"How can you get any aggression out if there aren't any vamps?" Faith raises an eyebrow then wiggles them. "How do you get out all that extra energy?"

I knew somehow this would turn into a sex thing. "I don't need to get out any extra energy."

Faith narrows her eyes and it looks that she's trying to figure out what to say. I know she could easily go the crude route but she hasn't been doing that much lately. She really picks her moments.

"We both know that's a lie." And here it comes. "I bet you just need someone to help you get rid of that energy you're not using on slaying."

"Faith . . ."

"Maybe that's why you always wanna go to the Bronze!" she continues. "You finally are gonna go with the flow and find someone to . . ."


She looks at me like I'm crazy. "What?"

I point away from her. "Uh, company?"

Faith finally sees the trio of vampires that have noticed us and are beginning to walk in our direction. "I guess we're working out our aggression the old fashioned way."

And thank God for that.

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