"Is she here?" Buffy asked as she ran down the stairs.
"No, that was just us," Xander said. He and Anya walked into the living room as Buffy followed behind them, a hopeful smile on her face.
"I'm happy you decided to come." Buffy gave him a little hug, trying not to show how nervous she was about the night. She wanted so badly for everything to go smoothly and with minimal fighting.
"Don't expect too much from me, Buff," Xander said, backing away and moving to sit. "I'm not exactly okay with this." He paused. "I'm far from okay."
"I just want you to try," Buffy said a little nervously. The mood in the room was not what she wanted. She knew none of them wanted to be there.
"She's going to kill us all," Anya blurted out, causing everyone to turn to her. "What? Everyone's thinking it, except of course Buffy but she's having sex with her so she doesn't count."
Buffy's eyes nearly bugged out of her head, hearing the last thing she expected anyone to say. "What did you say?"
"It's obvious, Buffy," Dawn said from her spot in the corner of the room.
Buffy was about to respond when she heard a knock on the door. She smiled and turned away from her friends, walking quickly to the door. She opened it to find Faith giving her a weak smile and pushed her backwards just enough so she could walk out onto the porch with her and closed the door behind them.
"What's going on?" Faith asked curiously, raising an eyebrow her.
Buffy only smiled and wrapped her arms around her, resting her head on her shoulder. Faith responded to her action by embracing Buffy tightly, loving that she was in her arms. She set down a box she was holding on the ledge in order to hold her properly but pulled away after a minute and looked down at the other woman with a small amount of concern.
"I'm about to walk into a firing squad, aren't I?" she asked with a small smirk.
"I don't know if I'd describe it like that," Buffy said carefully. She leaned in and lightly brushed her lips against the other woman's, trying to ease the nervousness they both shared. When she went to pull away after a couple seconds, Faith kept her there, deepening the kiss as she did. They finally broke apart a minute later, gasping.
"That's more like it," Faith said. She placed a tender kiss on her forehead. "Will you be spending the night at my apartment? We might need to get away after dinner if it doesn't go well."
"It's an option," Buffy said, smirking but with a light blush. "I've missed being that close to you."
"I've missed having incredibly hot sex with you." Faith grinned wickedly as Buffy's blush deepened.
"Come on, we better go in," Buffy said and watched as Faith went to pick up the bakery box from the ledge. "What did you bring?"
"I knew I should bring something but I didn't know what so I bought a bunch of cookies on the way here," she explained.
"Perfect," Buffy said, kissing her cheek. She stopped on their way to the door and thought for a moment before looking at Faith. "They know about us."
Faith looked at her with a little shock. She didn't think Buffy was any way near ready for that. "You told them?"
"They kinda figured it out," she answered. "I'm told it's kinda obvious."
"That okay with you?"
"If it wasn't, you wouldn't be here," Buffy responded. "What about you?"
Faith grinned. "Never better." She leaned in and gave her another quick kiss. "Now let's go in before they start to think we're doing something out here."
Buffy only laughed nervously as Faith opened the door and walked them through it. They heard the gang talking in the living room and went to join them. As soon as they entered the room, however, all the talking stopped. Everyone turned to the pair and looked at Faith.
"Hi, guys," Faith said, trying to sound as confident as possible. "I brought cookies, store bought so no one will think I poisoned them."
Buffy gave Faith a shocked look but Dawn snickered for a moment. Faith smirked, hoping that one thing could be a sign of good things ahead. She looked to the rest of the group, however, and the only halfway friendly face she saw was Tara. She figured that was because she didn't know her.
"So . . . what's for dinner?" The nervousness Faith was trying to conceal was starting to show, her voice losing the confidence she wanted.
"I ordered pizza," Buffy said with a small smile. "I didn't have much time to cook."
"You don't have to make excuses, B," Faith said with a sly grin. "I know you can't cook."
"I can so," Buffy protested but smiled in spite of it.
"You can't, Buffster," Xander said, looking wearily at the two of them. "Tara does most of the cooking."
Faith nodded. "Figures." She paused then looked at everyone in the room. "I know none of you will believe me and B didn't at first either, but I am sorry for everything I did. I'm trying to make it right. That's why I'm here."
"Sometimes you can't make it right," Willow said harshly but felt Tara grip her arm. "But we'll try."
Buffy watched everyone in the room as Faith spoke. None of them looked like they believed her at all, especially not Willow or Xander. She put a hand on her girlfriend's arm and squeezed gently to show support. She moved a little closer to her and Faith gave her a smile in return.
"She is helping out, guys," she said.
"Whatever, Buffy. I'll believe that when I see it," Xander said, mirroring the words and attitude from Willow the previous day.
"Yeah, we really don't see Faith around at all to know if she's good or not," Anya remarked, an almost thoughtful expression on her face. "But then, you see way more of Faith than anyone else."
Buffy blushed lightly at the comment, knowing Anya's meaning, but Faith only smiled slightly. "Anya, right? I don't think that's any of your business unless B wants it to be."
"I don't think you have the right to say that to me," Anya said strongly and smacked her fiance's arm. "Xander, tell her."
Before anyone could say anything else, the doorbell rang and Tara stood up quickly. "Food's here. We should eat."
The entire dinner had been uncomfortable. No one would talk and only a few attempts were made at conversation, mostly by Buffy or Faith. Buffy usually only received one word answers to her questions whereas Faith mostly only received a glare for her attempts.
Faith's feelings about the dinner being a bad idea kept coming back to her. She couldn't help but feel nervous about every move she made and it was putting her on edge. She knew how badly Buffy wanted everyone to get along, however, and Faith wanted to do everything she could for her. The only problem was the urge to smack Willow kept getting stronger.
Even though Willow said she would try to get along with the reformed slayer, she wasn't trying very hard at all. Every time Faith tried to start a conversation, Willow would scoff or mutter a remark that stopped it. If she didn't do it, Xander did. Anya and Tara stayed silent for the most part, feeling a battle of wills between the others at the table. Dawn just sat back and watched, not caring enough to say anything.
"Xander, you're a carpenter, right?" Faith asked, fidgeting with her napkin slightly. It was uncharacteristic of her but she was becoming more and more anxious. It was also getting harder to control her temper and she was desperately trying to remain calm.
"Yeah," Xander answered simply, looking disinterested.
"How'd that happen?"
"Just did, I guess."
Faith looked to Buffy next to her and she gave her a little nod, which she returned with a hint of a smile. "B tells me you're pretty handy with a stake now, Xander."
Xander brightened a little at the compliment but still looked uncomfortable, like he didn't feel he should accept one coming from Faith. "I can hold my own."
"You should patrol with us sometime then. We can always use an extra set of hands that's good with a stake. Take out more bloodsuckers that way."
"Don't the two of you want to be alone during patrol?" Willow asked in a sarcastic tone, not needing to expand her question for everyone to get its meaning.
"No," Faith said, trying not to have any irritation in her voice. "You should come, too."
"I think I'll pass," Willow scoffed, looking away.
Faith let a scowl show and turned to Buffy. She just shrugged nervously and gave her hand a little squeeze for support. Faith just hoped she'd forgive her if she couldn't keep her cool and it was getting harder and harder to do just that. She turned from Buffy to Dawn, putting on a small smile.
"What about you, Dawn? You ever patrol?"
"Buffy says I'm too young," the teenager said, leaning back in her chair.
Faith looked from Dawn to Buffy. "She's old enough, B. She should learn the ropes."
"From you? Would you even teach her or just throw her out to let her die? You know, one less of us to deal with." Willow shook off Tara's hand that had been clamped on her arm and leaned in like she was ready for a fight.
Faith couldn't stay calm any longer, not liking Willow's attitude at all. "What exactly is your problem with me, Willow? I've really tried to be nothing but nice to everyone the entire night, you especially, and yet you insist on being a bitch. Care to tell me what all that's about?"
"My problem is you, Faith," Willow said in a sarcastic yet cheerful tone, standing up in the process. "You think you can just come back like nothing ever happened? After everything you did? You tried to kill us all, Faith. You tried to kill Buffy twice. You can't make up for that."
"You think I don't know that?" Faith nearly yelled, standing up as well. "You think all that doesn't haunt me? Most times it's all I think about."
"Then why are you here?"
"Because it haunts me." Faith tried to calm herself as she spoke. "It reminds me of what I have to do to try and make things right."
"You know what you can do? Go back to prison," Willow spit out.
"Will . . ." Tara stood up and put a hand on Willow's arm but she shook it off.
"No, someone needs to say this."
"You know what? Screw you. I'm through with trying to please you," Faith said bitterly and turned to Buffy. "I'm sorry but I tried."
"I know," Buffy said almost sadly, standing up to face Faith.
"I'll see you later, okay?" Faith asked, leaning in and putting her lips to her ear. "I'm heading back to my apartment. Do what you need to do here and come over." She kissed her ear lightly for emphasis.
Buffy only nodded and pulled back, a small smile on her face. Without another word, Faith turned and walked out of the room. A few seconds later, the front door opened and closed and Buffy looked straight at Willow.
"That was you trying?" she asked, more frustrated than she could remember being in a long time. "You could have at least attempted to listen to her, talk to her maybe. She tried to meet you halfway but all you wanted to do was attack her."
"She has no right to be here, Buffy," Willow said. "She's just using you and you can't even see it."
"She's not," Buffy protested. "If anything, I've been using her."
"Faith won't stay good forever, Buff," Xander added. "It's just not in her. She'll find a better offer and take it without even considering you, won't matter if it's good or evil."
"You're all wrong." Buffy was becoming angrier with each comment her friends made. She couldn't understand why they couldn't see the good in Faith like she did. "If you only gave her a chance . . ."
"I don't think I can do that," Willow said stubbornly, arms crossed.
Buffy looked to everyone else in the room but when no one else said anything, she turned and walked away. She went to her room quickly and tossed a few clothes into a duffel bag, anything she thought she might need for the next couple days.
"Where are you going?"
Buffy looked up to see Dawn standing in her doorway. "I can't stay here right now."
"So you're going to Faith's?" she asked, leaning against the frame with her arms crossed.
"I don't have anywhere else to go," Buffy sighed. She looked back down to check what she packed. "If you need me, I'll be over there but I'll stop by tomorrow."
Dawn scowled. "She means more to you than I do, doesn't she?"
"Of course not," Buffy said quickly, looking up again. That was the last thing she wanted her little sister to think. Even with Faith, Dawn was still the most constant and important person in her life. "I just can't be around Willow, not when she refuses to even make a half-assed attempt to get along with Faith." She zipped up her bag and threw it over her shoulder while walking up to her sister. "Everything will work out eventually."
"If you think so," Dawn said hesitantly.
"I do," Buffy lied. In reality, she had no idea how to fix the mess she found herself in but she didn't want her sister to know that. "I'll talk to you tomorrow."
Dawn didn't respond, just watched a little sadly as Buffy raced down the stairs and out the door before anyone could convince her otherwise.
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 (original) || Chapter Fifteen (alternate)