Buffy walked through the front door of her house around six in the morning and thankfully, no one was up yet. She really didn't want to explain to Willow and Dawn why she hadn't slept there last night. She wouldn't have been able to think of anything believable other than just telling them the truth. Buffy was too scared of their reaction to do that, not yet.
She wished more than anything she could bring Faith into her life without any complications but knew that wouldn't be the case. She'd had been such a help to her in the last few weeks and Buffy knew she owed it to her to not hide the fact they were friends again. She knew everyone else wouldn't see Faith's presence that way.
Buffy couldn't believe her and Faith were not only civil to each other but were friends and maybe even something more. The something more frightened her almost as much as her friends' reaction to having Faith back in town. She was amazed Faith had kept to herself enough that no one had seen her yet.
Walking quietly up to her room, she checked to make sure everyone was still sleeping before changing quickly and getting into bed for a couple more hours sleep. She was also wearing some of Faith clothes as the pair never did get around to washing her work uniform and she might get questions from that, too. Dawn had an uncanny talent of remembering her clothes and what she wore.
Buffy closed her eyes and before she knew it, someone was knocking on her door. She groaned and opened her eyes as Dawn walked into the room.
"Buffy, when did you get home last night?" she asked, sitting on the edge of the bed. "We were all worried."
"Late patrol," Buffy answered quickly, voicing the only excuse she could ever think of. "You didn't stay up, did you?"
"I didn't," Dawn said. "I think Willow and Tara might have for a while."
Buffy nodded. "All right." She paused and looked at her little sister's expectant face. "Just let me get ready and we start our day, okay?"
Dawn grinned. "I thought you forgot."
"Of course not," Buffy responded. "Where are we going?"
"Just everywhere," Dawn said, grinning. "You said you were going to show me where you've been spending all your time."
Buffy nodded, knowing she should start being honest about everything. Her little sister would be a good place to start. "Yeah, we can do that. I don't want to keep anything from you. But we're going later, okay?"
"Great," Dawn said giddily, jumping up and dashing out of the room.
Buffy only sighed quietly as she watched her go. Today could go either very good or horribly bad. Right now, she was thinking badly.
Faith woke up later in the morning relaxed and even a little contented. Buffy had slept in her arms all night and that always made her sleep better. She loved having someone there next to her, especially when it was someone she was crazy about.
She had no idea what Buffy thought of her. Faith realized that Buffy was still trying to get back everything she had before she died but could swear Buffy was starting to look at her differently. At least, she hoped so.
That wasn't something she wanted to think about right now, however. Buffy had said she might stop by with Dawn. Faith was beyond nervous about that. The kid had liked her back in the day but she knew all that changed when she went evil. She hoped Dawn wouldn't overreact to her being back but couldn't see her taking the news all that well either.
Not wanting to leave her apartment, Faith kicked back and stretched out on her couch. She watched whatever was on TV and drifted in and out of sleep until mid afternoon when she heard a knock on her door.
Faith got up and straightened out her clothes as she walked to the door. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. She opened the door to see both Buffy and Dawn smiling. Dawn's smile, however, slowly morphed into a shocked expression.
"Hey, guys," Faith said, trying to sound upbeat. "Come in."
"Hey," Buffy greeted softly, smiling. She lightly pushed her speechless sister into the apartment and Faith closed the door behind him.
Faith walked behind the pair and Buffy and Dawn sat on the couch. Faith slowly sat down in a chair and tried her friendliest smile out on the younger Summers.
"How are you, Dawn?" Faith asked, hoping for not a lot of yelling.
Dawn looked at Faith and her shocked expression turned into a scowl. "How the hell are you out of prison?"
"There was something wrong with my case or something like that," Faith explained. "My sentence was reduced."
"And you just had to come here?" Dawn asked, her voice beginning to rise. "You couldn't go to the other side of the world or something. Maybe you'd be wanted there."
"Dawn . . ." Buffy started but her sister continued.
"Did you just want to come back here and screw with our lives some more?"
"Hold up," Faith said calmly, holding up her hand. "I don't want to screw with anyone's life. I'm just trying to start over."
"Whatever," Dawn said, crossing her arms. "I don't think I'll believe that." She stopped for a moment before turning to Buffy. "How long have you known she was here?"
Buffy looked away from her sister's penetrating gaze and focused her eyes on the ground. She didn't know what to say that wouldn't make her sister yell and Faith could see that. She answered for her.
"I went to your house the first morning I came back," Faith explained, looking straight into Dawn's hate-filled eyes. She could take it and didn't want that anger directed at Buffy. "Your big sis knocked me out."
Dawn's expression lightened enough for a smirk. "Then why are you still here?"
"I don't like taking no for an answer," Faith responded, keeping her eye on Buffy. She was looking away from the conversation and looked a little uncomfortable. "I ran into B on patrol one night and we worked together well. We've been hanging out ever since."
"What?" Dawn yelled, turning her head to her sister. "How could you not say anything?"
"I don't know," Buffy mumbled. She looked at her sister and didn't like the anger she saw. "I think she's changed."
"How can you think that? What's wrong with you!"
"That's the million-dollar question," Buffy said quietly, looking away.
"What are you talking about?" Dawn asked, lowering her voice a little.
"Dawn," Faith said, getting the girl's attention away from Buffy. She'd much rather have Dawn focus her anger on her. "Haven't you noticed B acting differently since she came back?"
"Yeah," Dawn said, scowling at Faith. "But we were helping her. She doesn't need you."
"Yes, she does," Faith countered. "I didn't bring her back. I wasn't there. She can talk to me because I'm not gonna say anything back. I won't tell her what she thinks about being back is wrong or she needs to do something different. I'll just listen."
Dawn turned to Buffy. "I'll listen. Why can't you say anything to me?"
Buffy looked over at Faith who nodded her head in encouragement. She didn't want to tell her sister everything. She wanted to protect her but she knew the truth had to come out sometime.
"I wanted to protect you," Buffy said, voicing her thought. "I know you don't think I need to but I do. I didn't want to have to tell you how awful I feel."
"You feel awful?" Dawn asked to no one in particular. She looked at Faith for a second before turning back to her sister. "Because you were brought back?"
Buffy only nodded, looking to Faith again for support.
"But they pulled you out of hell. Why would you not want to be brought back?"
"I wasn't in hell," Buffy mumbled, eyes aimed at the floor.
"What?" Dawn asked, starting to have a little urgency in her voice.
"She wasn't in hell, kid," Faith said, stepping in. She didn't think Buffy could actually say it and it needed to be said. "She was in heaven. They pulled her out of heaven."
Dawn looked at Faith, panicked. She turned to her sister and put a tentative hand on her shoulder. "Is that true?"
Buffy lifted her head up and looked at Dawn with watery eyes. "Yes."
The younger Summers looked around the room, trying to process what she was being told. Faith took a chance and moved to sit next to her.
"Dawn, are you okay?" she asked, using the most soothing voice she had.
Dawn pushed her away and got up, causing both slayers to look up at her. "I got to get out of here. I can't be here."
She stormed out of the room and the apartment. Buffy jumped out to go after her, not wanting her sister to leave without a better explanation, but Faith stopped her. She turned back to Faith with a confused look on her face.
"B, let her go," Faith said. "She needs some time to process this."
"She can process here," Buffy stated, trying to shake off the hand on her shoulder. "That way I know where she is."
Faith pulled at Buffy until they were both sitting. "Okay, this is what's gonna happen. Right now, Dawn is running back home as fast as she can to tell Willow what happened. The gang will assemble and they'll come back here all angry with me for being here. We, you and me, will stay here."
"How can you be so calm about this?" Buffy asked quickly. "They're gonna know everything. They're gonna know I came back wrong."
"B, no one ever said you came back wrong," Faith said. "You just need to get used to the fucked up parts of life again and you need to realize that's not all there is."
Buffy turned and hugged Faith tightly. Faith wrapped her arms around her then moved a hand to the back of her head as Buffy buried her face in the crook of her neck. She leaned back on the couch so she was lying on her back and Buffy was basically on top of her.
"You gonna be okay, B?" Faith asked, gently rubbing her back.
Buffy moved her head so she was looking down at the other girl. A couple tears rolled down her cheeks and Faith's hands cupped her face, using her thumbs to wipe them away. Buffy was so moved by how caring Faith had been the entire time she'd been back in Sunnydale, how she was being now.
Faith gave her a small smile and Buffy started to get the urge to kiss the gorgeous girl. In fact, she got the urge to do a lot more than that. She didn't know how to process the new feeling and it was strong. It was the first real emotional feeling she'd had since she'd come back.
Buffy slowly lowered her head to Faith's and lightly brushed her lips against the other woman's. Faith returned the kiss gladly, overjoyed Buffy finally kissed her first. She had always been the one to kiss her, not the other way around.
They kissed so softly, Faith letting Buffy control every aspect of it. Buffy latched onto Faith's full lower lip, sucking on it lightly, before kissing her on the lips again. She brought a hand up to Faith's face, cupping it as they kissed.
As they broke apart, Faith looked into Buffy's sorrowful green eyes and thought she could see something she hadn't seen before. Her eyes always looked so troubled, like she thought everything was her responsibility and hers alone, but now there was something else, too. It almost looked like relief but she couldn't be sure.
Faith grinned up at Buffy. "What was that for?"
Buffy stared down at her, not really knowing what to say. She had a feeling Faith wanted to have a more physical relationship but didn't know if she could take the chance of telling her what she wanted and having her not feel the same. She knew that might effectively end the easiness of their friendship.
The problem was Buffy had never had a friendship like this. She certainly didn't look at Willow the way she looked at Faith. If she didn't know better, she could have sworn she was falling for the other girl. The thought scared her.
"I don't know," Buffy said quietly, trying not to look away. She still could not get used to the caring nature of Faith's eyes. She could have sworn that wasn't there before but maybe she hadn't been looking close enough. "Maybe it's a thank you."
"Maybe?" Faith grinned, hoping the look in Buffy's eyes was what she thought it was. "Could it be something else?"
Buffy smirked at her. "It could be."
Faith gave her a smirk to match. "B, how do you feel about me?"
"How do you feel about me?" Buffy asked right back, avoiding the question.
Faith ran a hand through her hair and leaned up to kiss her forehead. "I think you know how I feel." She paused and looked at Buffy for a reaction but she just stared down at her. "I want to be around you all the time." She chuckled. "You're starting to become my world, B."
Buffy grinned, looking as happy as Faith said seen her since she came back to Sunnydale. She hugged Faith as much as she could while basically lying on top of her, resting her head on her shoulder.
"I think I'm starting to feel the same way," Buffy responded, smiling a little as Faith rubbed her back lightly. Faith started laughing beneath her and she lifted her head, confused.
"I'm not laughing at you, B," Faith said, grinning. She leaned up and kissed her quickly. "I'm just happy you've finally told me."
Buffy giggled as Faith tickled her sides. "Do I ever have to leave here? I don't like what's on the other side of that door."
"I will never force you to leave," Faith said, putting her hand on the back of Buffy's head and moving it so it rested on her chest. "But you will have to deal with everything. I'm guessing in about an hour."
"Mmm," Buffy mumbled. "Probably sooner than that since the first thing Dawn will mention is you."
"We could do a lot of funky stuff in an hour," Faith said teasingly.
"Ha, ha," Buffy said. She snuggled into Faith a little more and sighed. "What you think they'll say?"
Faith chuckled sarcastically. "I don't think they'll say as much as yell."
"Mmm . . . sleepy." Buffy closed her eyes, not wanting to deal yet. She just wished everything was normal and that Faith was a part of her normal life.
Faith looked at Buffy as the woman she wanted more than anything closed her eyes. She ran a hand through her hair before resting it on her back, hoping she could control her temper when the gang got there.
Less than an hour later, Faith heard someone pounding on her apartment door. She sighed, knowing only bad things would be up ahead.
Buffy was sleeping soundly on top of her and Faith had been simply watching her. She was too anxious to sleep. She kept telling herself over and over to remember to keep her cool during what was to come. She wanted to show she'd changed.
"B?" Faith whispered into Buffy's ear. "They're here."
Whoever was at the door knocked more forcefully, jolting Buffy awake. "Oh, shit." She let Faith stand her up as her mind started to panic. "What do I say?"
"Whatever you want to," Faith said with a shrug. "Just say what you're thinking. Be honest."
"I don't think I want to," Buffy responded with a little scowl and pout.
Faith put an arm around Buffy's waist and kissed her pout. She gave her a reassuring smile before walking toward the door. She opened it and stepped aside as Willow, Xander, Tara and Anya all stormed inside.
"Buffy! Where the hell is she?" Willow asked angrily, not noticing the fact Faith had opened the door and was now behind her.
Buffy just looked at her with a raised eyebrow, trying not to show how nervous she was. "She's at the door, Will."
All four of them turned to Faith, who gave them a little wave. "Hi, guys. This my welcoming party?"
"What the hell are you doing here, Faith?" Willow asked with a scowl. "Shouldn't you be in a dank prison somewhere doing something prisony?"
"Probably," Faith agreed, not being able to stop the smirk forming on her face. "But here I am anyway."
Xander looked at Faith with as much anger he could muster as he concentrated to not show fear before turning to Buffy. "What are you doing here, Buff? You should have beat her senseless by now and she'd already be gone."
Faith took a step toward him, causing him and the others to take a step back. "She would never do that." She paused. "I'd probably beat her anyway. B doesn't look in that great of shape."
"Don't flatter yourself, Faith," Buffy said, concentrating on Faith and not on the rest of them.
"Buffy," Willow said urgently, grabbing one of her shoulders. "What are you doing? Why are you with her? What's wrong with you?"
Buffy looked at her in shock, not expecting her to say exactly what they all had been thinking since they brought her back. "That is the question, isn't it?"
"There's nothing wrong with you, B," Faith put in quickly, taking a step toward her. She didn't want her to ever think that.
"This doesn't concern you," Willow said, looking at Faith with an intense anger.
"You're wrong anyway, Faith," Anya said, causing everyone to turn to her. "Buffy quite obviously came back wrong. She's gone all the time, hanging out with you, ignoring her friends, two of whom are getting married shortly and she has done nothing in the way of helping."
"Who the hell are you?" Faith asked, disbelief showing on her face. She looked at Xander. "This is who you end up with? Never would have guessed."
"Xander, don't let her talk about me like that!" Anya exclaimed, smacking him on the arm.
Xander looked at the growing anger showing on Faith's face and mumbled quickly, "Now's not the time, An."
"I've been there," Buffy said weakly, attempting to protest the earlier statement. She had no idea what else to say but she knew she should be saying something.
"No," Willow said accusingly. "You haven't been around. You're always trying to get away from the house." She scoffed. "I guess we know where you've been now."
"If I remember correctly, Will, there were a few people telling me I had to get a job," Buffy stated heatedly. "I think I may actually have to leave the house in order to go to it."
"That doesn't explain everything and you know it," Willow said, crossing her arms.
"Why have you been hanging around w-with Faith and not the rest of us?" Tara asked, sounding like she was trying to be the voice of reason. "You've been distant."
"It's been hard being back," Buffy tried to explain. "I can't adjust."
"Is what Dawn said true?" Xander asked hesitantly. He took a step toward Buffy as Faith did the same. She could see this conversation going from bad to worse and felt the need to be there for Buffy. Someone needed to be on her side.
Buffy just looked down by way of an answer and all four of them took a step back, the realization hitting them in the face. They all knew the truth now. Only Faith stayed close to her, wondering if she would need to defend and protect her and knowing she would without a second thought.
"But we thought . . ." Willow said in shock, unable to complete her thought. The reality of the situation caught up with her. Tara put a hand on her shoulder but she didn't seem to notice.
"Look," Faith said sharply to get everyone's attention, "why exactly are you guys here? 'Cause if you're gonna attack B, you might as well go before I hurt you."
"Faith," Buffy said quietly, lightly shaking her head. "Don't."
"Buffy, we didn't know," Tara put in. The rest of them didn't say anything, just looked at the floor.
"I know," Buffy responded. "I'd be lying if I said going from, well, heaven, to this wasn't hard. It's still really hard. But . . . Faith's been helping me."
Willow just gave the Chosen Two a blank stare. Without another word, she walked out of the apartment. Tara looked from Willow to Buffy and back again before giving her an apologetic look and walking out after her.
"We can help you, Buff," Xander said. "You don't need the psycho slayer for that. You don't need her for anything unless you want something killed."
Faith started to say something but a look from Buffy stopped her. Instead, she just scowled at him and knew from the look on his face it was more than enough.
"You were too close to everything, Xand," Buffy said, looking sideways as Faith moved a little closer to her. "All of you brought me back. I didn't want to burden you with all the pain I felt. I wanted to handle it alone but I couldn't. It was just too much. When Faith came back, she was just there. That helped."
"You don't have to hold back with us, Buffy," Xander said, sighing. "You didn't have to go to her."
Before Buffy could respond to what he said, Xander gently took Anya's arm and started to walk toward the door.
"Oh, we're going now," Anya stated, looking back at the pair. "It was nice meeting you, Faith. You are not as psychotic as everyone says."
Faith watched the two leave and then walked over to close the door. Turning around, she tried to give Buffy a small smile. "She's a trip. Where'd Xander find her?"
"Ex-demon," Buffy mumbled, sitting on the couch.
"Figures," Faith said and walked quickly over to the couch, sitting next to her. "You okay?"
Buffy shook her head and turned to hug Faith tightly. Faith wrapped her arms around her back, feeling tears start to hit her shoulder.
"It'll be okay, B," she said quietly, hoping she was right.
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)