The nights that Faith works are normally the nights I patrol alone for half the night or when I hang with Willow at the Bronze. She can work some late hours so when she's says she has to be at the bar I assume I'm just not gonna see her that night.
Tonight's different in that Faith thought she'd have an early night so we could hang out after her shift, maybe go the Bronze or something. It's also different in that I've never met her at the bar before. Hell, I've never even been there before other than to wait for her while she picks up her check.
And there's a good reason for that: the place she works at is gross.
Giles isn't the only one who wants her to work somewhere else but for some reason she likes it and I have a feeling she's paid pretty well, too. Faith's pretty much the bartender, bouncer and is definitely the only pretty face there. The owner pays for all that.
She was also supposed to get out of there early tonight and that was the only reason I agreed to meet her there. The place is just a little too skuzzy for me to hang out while she works but that's what I'm doing right now because the guy who was supposed to take over for her never showed. I guess that's the hazard of living in Sunnydale. Sometimes people just don't show.
Now I'm stuck waiting at the bar while Faith helps drunks and looks apologetically at me. "Sure you don't want anything to take the edge off?"
I've been sitting at the end of the bar in the corner nursing a diet coke trying my best to blend into the background. Faith's been checking on me every few minutes while she curses and waits on the owner to say she can leave. "I'm fine, Faith."
"You don't have to wait for me, you know," she says as she looks over the bar. It's not exactly crowded but there's enough to where she can't just leave either. There's only two other employees there. "You can head to the Bronze or call it a night or something."
It's starting to get a little late to meet anyone at the Bronze but I'm not going to tell her that yet. "No, it might die down at some point and you'll be able to get out of here."
Faith gets a new look of determination on her face. "I'll see if I can light a fire under someone."
She walks off and starts talking to the other bartender there, getting very animated in the process. If I were her I would just quit but Faith sees things differently. I do not see the appeal though. This place is creepy. I'm more comfortable at Willy's than I am here. At least I know what I'm dealing with when I walk in there.
Oh, shit. There's been a guy drinking steadily since I got here and I could tell he's been looking at me every once and awhile. He's overweight, looks like he hasn't showered in days and is pale but not in a vampire way. Not only is all that unappealing but he's got a gross grin on his face as he walks up to me and leans against the bar.
"Haven't seen you in here before," he slurs out. "Having a good time?"
"The best," I say sarcastically and look past him toward Faith. She's not looking my way so she doesn't see that she needs to be done with her shift right now.
"What do you say we get you a stronger drink and then I can show you a good time?" He smiles and shows that he's missing a couple teeth. I wonder how so many people die in Sunnydale each year from vamps but this idiot has managed to escape all that.
"Hey, Joey! Back off!"
Faith comes up behind him and pulls in a few feet away from me. She's got her jacket on so I think that means we're finally getting out of here. Her eyes meet mine and I can tell she feels bad. "Go get yourself another drink, okay?"
He looks at her then to me and back again and laughs. "Oh, I get it. Not enough room for me in this picture."
We look at him as he keeps on laughing while walking away and Faith begins to walk us toward the door. "What did he mean by that?"
"Nothing, B," Faith says as we walk outside and down the street. "Where do you wanna go?"
"I think the first question is how did you convince your boss that your shift was over?"
She laughs quietly. "I explained that if he didn't I would just walk out and then he would be stuck trying to find someone who could handle the bar, be a bouncer and look hot while doing it. The decision was pretty easy."
We laugh at that and I start to think about what we can do now. I made a quick sweep of a couple of the more active cemeteries and even though we can always find vamps to stake if we really want to that's not what I would consider a good bonding activity.
Faith looks at her watch before putting an arm around my shoulders. "Shit, it's later than I thought."
"I completely fucked up our plans, didn't I?"
"I wouldn't completely say that."
She groans. "Sorry, B. I should've put my foot down earlier. Then you wouldn't have had to deal with the regulars there."
I shrug. "It's all right. Now when Giles tries to get you to different job I'll know exactly what to say to convince you to listen to him."
Neither of us says anything for awhile as we walk. I'm trying to think about what we can do but it really is too late to do much of anything outside of getting some food a one of the two all night diners. I have a feeling Faith is thinking along those lines because after a couple turns I know we're walking toward her apartment and away from any of the usual hangouts.
"You wanna hang out for a while at my place? I know it's not the same as the Bronze or meeting up with everyone else but I do have leftover pizza."
"We can always go to mine. There's some leftovers that have your name on them."
They literally do have Faith's name on them. She didn't come over for dinner tonight 'cause of work so my mom made up a plate for me to take to her. I couldn't exactly do that since I was going to the bar but I figured she'd be over tomorrow for them.
"Nah, don't wanna wake up your mom or anything." Faith grins. "And I picked up a couple movies we can check out."
Faith does that. When we hang out she tries to be doing something so that it's impossible for us to have a conversation. I'm okay with that at the moment because there are still plenty of times where we talk and she doesn't blow off my questions. I found that she's a great listener, too.
When we get closer to her apartment, Faith's arm drops from my shoulders but she doesn't move away from me. "B, we're friends, right?"
Where is this coming from? "Yeah, and I'm pretty sure it was my idea," I say, laughing a little. "I still think you're just going along with it."
She laughs. "Nah, you know that's not true."
"Yeah, now I do."
Faith lets out a breath. "No, seriously, we're friends and all."
I nod and try to read the look on her face. It looks like she's thinking over something but doesn't know if she should let me in on it. "Yes, Faith. We're friends."
"Cool, 'cause you're kinda the first friend I've ever had and I don't wanna say something that will make you realize that all this was a mistake."
"Not gonna happen, Faith. So far all you've shown is you're pretty fun to hang out with. I don't think I'd put up with you every day if I didn't think that."
"You're just a little comedian tonight."
I wait for her to say something else because it really feels like she wants to but she doesn't. "Faith . . . is there something you want to say?"
She furrows her brow slightly. "Just have been wondering about things I guess."
"Why? Is there something wrong?"
"No, nothing's wrong," she says as we get to the door of her apartment. "Just forget I said anything. It's nothing."
We stop at the door and when I turn to look at her Faith looks away from me for a second. It looks like she's cursing under her breath which completely surprises me. I understand that this whole friend thing is new but I don't want her to think that there's something she can do or say that will just make me not want to hang out with her. A choice like that would never be that simple.
I can't help but give her a hug when I see that. I don't know why she's being so hard on herself but she needs to stop. "I don't know what's wrong, Faith, but you can talk to me."
She moves away from me after a few seconds. "I'm just a shitty friend. I make us miss everyone at the Bronze and you had to wait at the bar for me. I know that wasn't fun for you."
"It's okay," I insist. "Sure, I don't understand why you work there but it doesn't bother me that we missed out on anything." I pause. "Why do you work there again?"
"Good money," she says quickly but she knows that's not the answer I'm looking for. "It reminds me of that semi-illegal lifestyle I grew up in. I know I'm supposed to want to get as far away from that life as possible but there's also a part that finds it kinda comforting."
"That's kinda weird, Faith."
She shrugs. "That's why I like working there. That and it's a good test of how far I can toss drunks."
We look at each other and laugh. "So we're good, right?"
"Yeah," she agrees and she's all smiles again. "So . . . movie?"
"Lead the way."
"I can't believe you finally have the morning off."
Willow sits on my couch and sighs. "I think the people I work for owe a favor to my mom or something. It feels like I'm stuck in a filing room for hours every day."
I look over how she's dressing for the law firm and notice that even though she's still wearing bright colors, she's toned it down. "Did your mom pick out the clothes, too?"
She nods. "How can you tell?"
The only way I can respond to that is to laugh and soon she's laughing with me. "Kind of obvious, Will. I guess you have to go there later then, right?"
"Yeah," she says sadly. "I guess that means I won't see you until tonight. That is if you and Faith actually make an appearance."
"She had to work later than she should have," I explain. "She felt real bad about it, too."
"So how is all the slayer bonding going anyway?"
I have to think about that for a minute before I answer her. "Hanging out with Faith is fun and it's relaxing to know that we don't have to just talk about slaying or patrolling when we're together."
"She is fun to be around," Will agrees. "Faith seems to be more relaxed lately, too. More comfortable."
My best friend is definitely right about that. "I think she likes being in Sunnydale better than she did when she first came here. I told her that I'm not just gonna decide one day that I don't wanna be friends anymore. It feels like that's what she's afraid of."
"That would make sense."
"There's something else, too, but I can't quite figure it out."
Willow leans toward me slightly and raises an eyebrow. "What do you mean?"
"Okay, so when you and I talk it's just normal, right?" She nods and I continue. "Well, it's different when it comes to when Faith and I have a conversation."
"You said she doesn't like talking about herself," Will points out. "Maybe that's what you're feeling. And you have to coax all the answers out of her. Definitely not something you have to do with me or even with Xander."
"Or it could be . . ."
I wait for more to come but Willow just stops and doesn't say anything else. I know she's thinking something because of the look she has but maybe it's so crazy she doesn't want to share. Of course, that's not good enough for me.
"What, Will? Don't leave me with only half of your awesome Willow-approved knowledge."
"Okay, hear me out." She pauses. "Faith acts differently around you than the rest of us."
"That's because we're slayers."
"One, you can't use that explanation for everything," she says and I guess she's right. Both Faith and I tend to use that response more than we should. "And two, she looks at you differently."
"No, she doesn't."
Willow shakes her head. "When you talk her eyes go to you and when you're specifically talking to her, it's like you're the only one in the world."
I have to think about that for a second but I have to admit that I don't see it. There isn't any difference from the way Faith and I talk to how Willow and I are talking right now. "I don't think that's true."
"No, I'm sure of it and it's not because the two of you understand each other on a slayer level. That doesn't explain why she brightens up when she looks at you either."
"I don't see that."
"I know, Buff," Will says, a smile on her face. "The two of you are both a little clueless but I know Oz sees it. He's the one who pointed it out."
"You've been talking to Oz about this?"
Willow shifts a little and laughs quietly. "You know how he is. He just mentioned it one day and the next night when we were all together I noticed it, too."
Now I'm confused because I've never noticed and maybe I should have. Then again, none of that would change our friendship so I don't think it matters much.
When I look at my best friend again she has a little smile on her face. "You know what the weirdest part is?"
"You do the same thing when you see Faith."
And now I'm even more confused but I don't have time to process it or object to Willow about it. There's a knock on the door and after a few seconds Faith walks in, a backpack over a shoulder. "Hey, B! You upstairs?"
"In here," I say and Faith walks into the living room, setting the backpack on the floor. I'm guessing she brought a change of clothes for training later. "I didn't expect you until a little later."
"We can't all be slackers like you," she says, a smirk on her face. "Hey, Red. How's work?"
"Boring," she answers and lightly nods her head toward me like I should see something. I don't though.
"Didn't mean to interrupt anything," Faith quickly adds. "I thought you'd be on your own this morning and we could bother Giles about a getting a place for us to train."
"You know if you do that he'll start in on you getting a different job."
"Necessary evil." Faith begins to backtrack toward the kitchen. "I'm gonna grab something to drink then we can get started."
Willow looks at the clock and sighs. "I guess I should get to work. It feels weird to say this but I can't wait for the summer to be over and college to start."
I laugh. "See you tonight?"
"It's a plan." She looks toward the kitchen. "See you later, Faith."
Faith yells something from the kitchen and Will and I laugh a little before she leaves. Faith walks back into the living room a few seconds later with juice and a granola bar. "She didn't leave 'cause of me or anything, right?"
I shake my head. "Nope, work calls."
She sits down on the couch where Willow used to be and puts her feet up on the coffee table. "Guess not everyone can be as awesome as us."
I look her over and try to find any evidence for what Willow told me to be true. I just can't though. Faith is looking at me like she always does. I'm sure of it. "Nope."
The Bronze was kind of dead tonight so after hanging out with Willow and Oz for a couple hours I decided that I could use some sleep and Faith decided to leave with me. Willow gave me a little look as we left but I really think that both she and Oz are crazy.
I really don't see what she thinks she does.
"Whoever runs the Bronze should get Oz's band to play there more," Faith comments as we walk away from the club. "The bands they've been getting the last couple weeks have been terrible."
"I think the Dingoes have been playing some out of town clubs lately," I say. "I think they'll be at the Bronze next week though."
Faith nods. "That's cool. It's always fun to see the look on Willow's face when they play."
We do kind of tease her about that. "It is."
Neither of us says anything for a minute as we walk through the streets of Sunnydale. There are still people out and about which always makes me frustrated. I understand that to live in Sunnydale most people need to have a very selective memory but seeing so many people walking around at night without a care in the world only shows stupidity. You can have a selective memory and still be smart enough to know to stay inside when it's late and dark out.
"You think Giles was serious about having us do separate patrols?"
When we were talking with Giles today and bothering him about getting a new slayer central since the library is no more he suggested that we wouldn't need to patrol together if there wasn't a lot of activity. He even brought up nights off so we could have a night to ourselves once and a while. I know most of that has to do with college and the fact that I patrol alone when Faith works but it's weird to hear Giles say it.
"Maybe he thinks we're a bad influence on each other."
I laugh. "Yeah, he probably thinks all my bad habits are rubbing off on you."
We laugh a little at that and I realize we've passed Faith's building. I guess that means we're going to my house tonight. Normally, if we're hanging out after the Bronze we stick to Faith's apartment 'cause then we're alone and there is zero chance of my mom checking in on us.
Faith must notice my eyes looking toward her apartment as we pass by. "I figured I'd just walk you back to your place."
"Oh . . . okay."
Another silence settles over us as we walk toward my house. All this walking does make me realize that it would be nice if one of us had a car. We're always walking everywhere and it feels like that's all we do some days.
"B, can I ask you a question?"
"You've said a few times that you're not just gonna stop being my friend just 'cause I fuck up. Is that still true?"
We're in front of my house so I stop and look at her. "Are you thinking about fucking up or something?"
She grins, showing her dimples. "Nah, it's just . . . if I try something and it doesn't work out, we'll still be friends and everything, right?"
What is it about people confusing me lately? "Yeah, I guess but I don't understand what you're getting at."
We walk up to the front door and before I open the door I turn to Faith and that's when I think I see it. I think I see the look Willow was talking about. And the moment I notice Faith leans in and kisses me.
Faith kisses me.
It's so light and soft and it only lasts a matter of a couple of seconds before she moves away from me. She has a little smile on her face and I'm a little too shocked to really process anything. Could this be what Willow meant?
"See you tomorrow, B."
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