Buffy got home after patrol to find most of the lights on in her house. She didn't think much of it though because she was still thinking about her night with Faith.
She didn't think she'd ever have a good night that involved her fellow slayer. In fact, she didn't think she'd ever see Faith again without wanting to punch her over and over. That, however, was when she could feel that strong of an emotion. Now she was indifferent to Faith and it was almost like giving her a clean slate.
Buffy could tell Faith had changed since the last time they'd seen each other, even though she didn't want to admit it. Now she felt comfortable with her, something she never would have expected. She thought maybe it was because Faith had nothing to do with her current situation.
Faith hadn't helped in bringing her back from the dead and wasn't watching over her every second, wondering why she wasn't acting "normal", whatever that meant. Sure, she looked concerned when Buffy told her about her lack of emotions but she didn't make a huge deal about it. Instead, Faith just listened and that wasn't what something Buffy expected. It shocked and amazed her.
Her thoughts were shaken from her as she walked through the front door to be greeted by an angry Willow.
"Buffy!" she exclaimed. "Where have you been?"
Buffy just stared at her. "Didn't know I had a curfew."
Willow took a step back and softened her expression. "You don't. It's just . . . we thought you'd be home by now."
"I was looking for a job since I was told I need one," Buffy remarked. "And I now have a real shitty one at the Doublemeat Palace. It's the only one I could find on short notice."
"Well, it's a start," Willow sighed. She followed Buffy as she walked into the living room. "You'll find something better." She paused. "That didn't take you until now, did it?"
Buffy paused. She knew Willow and the rest of them would freak if they knew Faith was back much less that she'd spent the afternoon and patrolled with her. "No, I picked up something to eat after the interview then went on patrol."
"Oh," Willow said hesitantly, "okay then. I'm gonna go to bed."
Buffy watched her best friend walk up the stairs before putting her head in her hands. She didn't want to lie to Willow but she didn't want everyone to overreact. They never saw Faith the same way she did, even back when they were in high school. She knew Willow was always a little paranoid Faith might replace her as Buffy's best friend.
That would never happen and both Buffy and Faith knew it, but it still wouldn't change Willow's mind and Buffy was still aware of that. Both she and Xander would go ballistic if they knew she was around Faith again.
Buffy couldn't take that chance. She wanted to see if Faith was telling her the truth about wanting to redeem herself first. She wanted to make absolutely sure there wasn't a chance Faith would hurt any of them again.
Deep down, she also liked being the only one who knew. It was almost like she had Faith all to herself and she felt as though that was something she desperately needed right now. Faith wasn't looking at her the way everyone else did, like someone newly back from the dead, and Buffy appreciated that.
She sighed, knowing once the rest of them knew it would probably blow up in her face. She refused to think about that now, however, and went upstairs to get some sleep. Tomorrow would be a long day, especially since she had her first day at her new job.
Faith's first day of work was nothing but paperwork and she got bored quickly. Her mind quickly wandered before it settled with Buffy. She couldn't think about anything else after that.
She thought about what Buffy was doing right now. She was probably at her new job now as well but Faith knew Buffy got the short end of the stick when it came to jobs. Faith hoped she found something better quickly because she couldn't see Buffy happy there. She couldn't see how anyone would be happy there.
By the time the afternoon rolled along, Faith started to hope Buffy would stop by to see her again. She loved the fact Buffy was starting to confide in her even though she knew it was only because there was no one else. She would take that gladly, just liking the fact she could be there for her.
The reformed woman could feel all the love she once felt for Buffy come flying back at her. It felt so huge and if she was still the same person she'd been a few short years ago, she knew she wouldn't have been able to handle it. Now she could but part of her wondered if Buffy just might feel the same way. She thought about what they'd be like together.
Before she even realized it, she was being told training was done for the day and she could go. Faith rushed out of there fast and walked around the sunny streets until she found herself looking at the fast food joint where Buffy was now a proud employee. She took a deep breath and decided to go in there and check it out.
Walking into the place, she looked around and smirked. It looked like such a fake family-friendly place she wanted to laugh out loud. She couldn't imagine a slayer working here. Nevertheless, Buffy was behind the counter, trying in vain to get an order right.
Faith strolled up to the counter and stood by a guy giving Buffy a hard time. Buffy saw her out of the corner of her eye and had to stifle a laugh as she made a face at the angry customer.
"I want it without onions, I can't stress that enough," he said, looking at Buffy like he had already made the assumption she was an idiot.
"I got it. See, I even pushed the little button stating the lack of onions," Buffy responded, trying to keep a smile on her face. Her eyes darted to Faith quickly then back to her customer. She couldn't think of a reason why she would be there.
"Fine," he practically growled and finished his order. He paid and got his food, scowling at Buffy the entire time. Once he was gone, Buffy turned her attention to Faith.
"What are you doing here?" she asked, no anger in her voice at all. At this point, she was almost relieved to see another familiar face. The gang had stopped by during the lunch rush but that was a few hours ago.
"Thought I'd stop by and check it out," Faith said easily then thought maybe Buffy didn't want her there. "Was that okay?"
Buffy thought for a moment. "Yeah, it is."
Faith grinned. "Cool. How much longer to you have?"
"About," Buffy looked at the clock on the wall, "half an hour."
"Wanna get out after that, get some real food?" Faith asked with some uncertainty in her voice. She wanted Buffy to say yes so badly.
"I kinda have to go home," Buffy responded and was shocked to see Faith's shoulders sag slightly, like she was disappointed. "I'll see you for patrol though, right?"
Faith nodded slowly, hoping her disappointment didn't show too much. "Yeah, okay. You'll stop by the motel?"
Buffy smirked and nodded. "I'll see you there."
"Wow, that guy just came out of nowhere," Faith said enthusiastically as the pair walked into her motel room. "Where did you learn that spinning kick?"
"Just kinda developed it, I guess," Buffy answered, sitting in the chair in the corner with a small sigh. "It looked like you still punch as hard as you used to."
Faith threw herself on the bed before thinking about Buffy's question and what it might mean. "I only hit vamps and demons now. You know that, right?"
Buffy looked at her and fell into Faith's huge brown eyes. She could see how much Faith cared about her opinion and the thought scared her. It almost felt like a responsibility and she didn't think she could handle that. "I still might have a doubt or two."
"I want to prove to you I'm better," Faith said simply, sitting up and facing the other woman. "I've changed."
"It'll take some time," Buffy said. "A lot happened, you know? I don't know if I'll ever be able to fully trust you again."
Faith tried not to let her face fall but couldn't stop some of it from showing. She looked up at Buffy with a questioning look, thinking of something that had never crossed her mind before. "Did you ever fully trust me?"
"I wanted to," she responded, avoiding the question for the most part. "I never knew that much about you." She paused. "You never really said much about yourself."
"Didn't think you cared," Faith said almost defensively. She could just feel an argument coming on and wanted to avoid that at all costs. "I cared what you thought of me."
Buffy got up and sat next to Faith on the bed, a move that shocked both of them. "We were both kinda stupid back then, weren't we? My mind was so focused on other things, like Angel. There was nothing left for anything else." She sighed. "I'd give anything to feel that way about something right now."
Faith turned her complete attention to Buffy right then, looking over her demeanor. She could tell she wasn't feeling much of anything at the moment. "B, I know you know more than what you're saying about why you can't feel emotions, about why you seem to not like being back."
"I like being back," Buffy said but it wasn't a protest. She didn't even try to hide the fact she didn't believe the statement.
"No, you don't," Faith said. "You act like it's a burden. You wouldn't act that way if it wasn't true."
"What would you know about it?"
"B, you're not a liar. I'm the one who does that." She paused. "Can you just tell me what's wrong? You know I'm not gonna judge. I have no right to."
Buffy looked down and thought about everything for a few seconds. She could feel that Faith wouldn't judge her and knew she'd take it better than the gang. Faith wouldn't feel the guilt they would in bringing her back. She looked away, mumbling something, still not wanting to say what she was feeling out loud.
"What was that, B?" Faith asked, daring to put a hand on Buffy's shoulder. "What were you saying?"
She turned to look at Faith, eyes wet from the tears threatening to fall. "I was in heaven."
Faith gave her a puzzled look. "What do you mean?"
"I mean, I think I was in heaven," Buffy said quietly. "I was happy there, at peace. Next thing I know, I'm in a coffin and wondering how the hell I got there."
"Oh," was all Faith could say. None of this was anything she expected to hear.
"There's all this pain now," she continued, a few stray tears falling down her cheeks. "It feels like I'm being punished for something."
"You're not being punished, B," Faith said softly. "Your friends just wanted you back. They didn't know."
"Doesn't make it any better."
Faith nodded. "I know." She sighed. "Maybe you should talk to them about all this. Then you'll deal, they'll deal and everything will get better."
"I can't tell them," Buffy said. "They won't be able to deal . . . I can't deal."
Buffy started to sob quietly and for a moment, Faith didn't know what to do. Without thinking, she pulled Buffy into an embrace, letting her cry on her shoulder. She smiled a little when Buffy didn't pull away, instead putting her arms gently around her.
"It'll be okay eventually," Faith said into Buffy's ear. "I promise."
Buffy pulled away and looked into Faith's eyes. She was continually shocked by the concern in Faith's eyes but now saw something else there as well. "You think?"
"Yeah," Faith said soothingly, brushing a lock of hair away from Buffy's face.
She was amazed Buffy was letting her get this close to her. Before she even knew what she was doing, Faith leaned in and tenderly brushed her lips against Buffy's.
Buffy was taken aback by Faith's move and shocked both of them by not stopping it. Instead, she just moved her lips with Faith's as the other woman continued to kiss her softly. It lasted until Faith kissed gave her top lip a quick kiss before moving her head up to give her a tender kiss on the forehead.
The pair just looked at each other for a moment. Faith waited to be slapped or punched or something but Buffy didn't do anything. She just looked at her with a sadness that broke Faith's heart. She took Buffy in her arms again and her heart jumped for joy when Buffy tightened her arms around her waist.
After a minute, Faith silently moved them so they were lying down. Buffy still wasn't talking so she kept hold of her, kissing the top of her head as she wondered what this turn of events meant for them.
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)