"I don't know what to do anymore."
"What do you mean, Buffy?"
Buffy looked at her best friend as they sat on her couch and wasn't quite sure how to answer. She had asked Willow to come over so they could have some quality best friend time together but she also wanted to talk about Faith. There wasn't a good way to bring her up however, so she was left with trying to find a way to talk about her feelings for Faith without making it obvious.
"I can't even patrol, Will. I can't concentrate long enough to stay alert."
Willow got a confused look on her face, not knowing what Buffy was getting at. "Still not following, Buffy."
"Every time I want to think of something, all I do is think of Faith. Memories still flood my brain at all times, Will. I can control them a little better now but they're still there."
"They haven't dimmed at all?"
Buffy thought about that for a moment. They had lessened slightly but only to the point that she didn't have a pounding headache every second of the day. "A little but they still distract me. Concentration is definitely an issue."
Willow looked down, wondering if she should continue the topic of conversation. She didn't want to upset Buffy but she was curious at what her best friend currently thought of Faith. "Have you talked to Faith at all?"
She only looked at Willow for a second before slowly nodding her head. "Yeah."
"I don't know," Buffy answered quietly. "I didn't plan on going to the apartment but then I was there and Faith was there and we . . . talked, I guess."
Willow raised an eyebrow about how Buffy answered her question but didn't say anything right away. The way her best friend said that she talked with Faith made her think that there was more to the encounter than just polite conversation.
"What did you talk about?"
Buffy let out a slow breath. "About how much I was hurting. About the fact she didn't say anything right away hurt because during that time she was pulling away and I thought I was the problem." She let out a quiet, sarcastic laugh. "She said she loved me, Will, and she said it the same way as the Faith in the spell would have."
Neither of them said anything for a minute and Willow took that time to digest what Buffy had said. She hadn't taken much time to really think about what had happened during the spell unless than to research how the Mayor had pulled it off. It was such a powerful spell, one she couldn't even imagine casting on her own. The whole thing put her in full research mode.
One thing she was doing was trying to find a way to get rid of the memories from the spell. She was worried they would do long term damage to Buffy and she couldn't let that happen. Willow needed her best friend to be okay and back to her normal self.
"How could she know that?" Willow finally asked. "She doesn't have any of the memories."
"I don't know," Buffy said as her eyes began to tear up, "but I think she really meant it."
"What did you say?"
"I told her I loved her, too," Buffy said quietly.
Buffy looked her and thought for a moment. "My brain keeps telling me I do. It keeps showing me all things that made me love her. All the things in the spell, all the romantic things she did, even some of what happened when we were in high school. You know, before all the bad stuff happened."
"Buffy, did you have feelings for Faith when she first came to Sunnydale?" Willow wasn't sure what to make of what Buffy just said. "Do you think all of what you're feeling isn't just from the spell?"
"I don't know anymore," she said as she looked away.
"Hey, that's okay," Willow said quietly as she placed a hand on Buffy's shoulder. "I've been trying to find out more about this spell. Maybe if I can research it then maybe I can figure out a way for the fake memories to disappear."
For some reason Buffy wasn't sure she wanted Willow to research it. It wasn't that she wanted to continue with having her real memories battle the fake ones but having her best friend messing with her brain made her a little uncomfortable. She was still growing in her magic abilities but Buffy didn't think she had the power to fix this problem.
"You don't have to do that, Will," Buffy said as she tried to give her a genuine smile. "I think I can manage without any more magic."
Willow frowned but decided not to press the issue. "If you think so."
"Then I'll go by whatever you want. I just don't want to see you hurting."
Buffy continued to smile and knew what she needed to say so she could get Willow to let it go even if that meant lying a little. "Don't worry, Willow. I'll be okay."
Buffy knocked on the front door and waited patiently. She thought about simply walking in without knocking and if she had seen and talked to Giles after the spell was broken she probably would have. If she did it now though it would only be awkward. Standing at the front door waiting for it to open was also awkward.
After a few seconds it did and Giles showed a look of surprise to see Buffy at his front door but he changed it quickly. "Buffy, I, uh, wasn't expecting to see you."
"Is that because I haven't been talking to you?"
Giles opened his mouth to say something but then realized he couldn't think of anything to say. Instead, he only stepped aside and let her in. He closed the door behind her and noticed that Buffy was only looking around nervously. "Please, sit."
Buffy sat on the couch and smiled nervously. She realized she had no idea what to say to her watcher and that rarely happened. She knew she shouldn't have let her silence on the spell get this far but he had to have known that she was going through more issues than everyone else. That had to be why he had left her alone.
"So how have you been?" Giles asked as he sat in a chair.
"The headaches are a little better," Buffy said as she looked at him. "I can at least walk around now and somewhat function."
"That's good. What about the memories?"
Buffy looked down. "Still here," she said quietly, pointing to her head.
Giles nodded. "If I think about them, I can remember everything but it takes a little effort. I assume with you it's not the same."
"No effort needed," Buffy responded, looking at him again. "It's all front and center, especially everything that involved Faith."
Giles didn't know what to say so instead he stood and walked into the kitchen to get Buffy a cup of tea. Even though he hadn't seen her in the days after the spell, he could tell she was recovering from what two sets of memories could do to a person's mind. It made him a little proud that his slayer was the first he'd heard of to overcome something like the effects of the spell.
"Would you like to talk about it?" he asked as he walked back and handed her a cup then sat back down.
"No offense, Giles, but it would be a little awkward to discuss what's going on in my mind when it involves Faith."
For a moment he didn't know what Buffy was talking about but once he did he cleared his throat and looked away. Every once and awhile he forgot about the fact that in the spell the Mayor set up revolved around the fact that Buffy and Faith were very much in love and living together. Those memories were most likely pleasant but Giles could see how that might be distressing to Buffy.
"So the memories of the happiness you once had keep coming back to remind you it's gone?" he asked, though it was said more as a statement than a question.
Buffy slowly nodded. "It hurts that I can feel how happy I was and that I'm not now. I know that it wasn't real but my brain is not cooperating."
"Have you tried anything to help it?" Giles asked. "I've been researching but so far I haven't read of anything that will help. In fact, Buffy, you are beating the odds. In everything I've read people who were targets of this particular spell don't make it as long as you have."
"What do you mean 'don't make it'?"
"They, uh, kill themselves." Giles didn't like the look of distress that now appeared on Buffy's face. "None of them were slayers, Buffy. You are stronger than a normal human and I have a feeling you will make it out of this."
"But what about the memories?" Buffy sipped her tea before setting it on the coffee table gently. "Willow was saying something about finding a spell that could get rid of them."
Giles shook his head quickly. "I don't feel that is the right direction. It's one thing to create a spell for simple tasks but using magic to affect one's brain is dangerous. There are too many things that can go wrong. I'll have to talk to Willow about this."
"I had thought she would have talked to you about it."
"She did not." Giles didn't like that Willow was doing that kind of research on her own. He didn't feel she was experienced enough to be able to control a spell that had that amount of strength.
Buffy nodded. "Do you think I'll ever be able to concentrate enough to patrol again?"
"I believe you will," Giles said with a fatherly smile on his face. "I know that you might not want to but patrolling with Faith will probably help. If something goes wrong she will be able to protect you more than anyone else can."
"I don't know if that is a good idea."
He smiled. "Just think about it. I know you probably don't want to believe it but Faith would do anything to protect you. She . . ." he stopped short of saying anything else, not wanting to reveal anything Faith had told him.
"I know, Giles," Buffy said quickly, not wanting him to say it. "I'm not ready."
Giles smiled, knowing not to push any further. He was simply happy that she had chosen to finally visit him. "Okay. Now, let's discuss what we should work on so you're better prepared for patrol."
Faith wanted to see Buffy again.
She had actually never wanted anything more than that or at least, nothing she could remember. The concern she had for the other slayer was growing and she wanted to see her again in order to see how she was doing. Faith felt the urge to protect her even though Buffy couldn't stand to be around her.
Patrol had been dead the night before so she decided to take the night off and stay at the apartment. She had ordered a pizza and chose soda over the normal alcohol she seemed to be drinking on a daily basis. She really was trying to do what Giles was telling her and stay on the straight and narrow. A lecture on how she was the only slayer patrolling at the moment sobered her up more than she thought it would.
Faith was even starting to get used to being alone in the apartment. Since there wasn't anything in the place to remind of Buffy being her girlfriend and she didn't have any of the fake memories, it was easier for her to forget. Alcohol was usually a big help in that but over the last couple days she had found her relief in junk food and video games.
There was one thing she had done during the day was to replace one major item that was gone because of the spell. Since she still had all the money from the spell, Faith decided to go a car dealership and look for a new vehicle. She thought about getting something similar to what she had during the spell but thought better of it. There were too many conflicting memories with getting a Mustang.
After a day of looking and convincing a couple of salesmen that she did in fact have enough money to buy a new car, she decided on a black Corvette. Faith wanted a flashy sports car, something that she would never hope to have when she was growing up in Boston, but didn't want to have anything that reminded her of a time when Buffy loved her unconditionally.
The car was now parked outside her apartment building and Faith fully intended on taking it for a joyride the next day. She desperately needed to get out of Sunnydale, even if it was only for a few hours.
Even though part of her still wanted to leave and never come back, she knew she never would. There was too much going on in Sunnydale and Faith always had the urge to slay something. She may need a night away from vamps every once and awhile but she knew there wasn't many places where she would be guaranteed the type of activity Sunnydale gave her.
She leaned back on the couch and let out a slow breath. Even though she was used to being on her own she had to admit that it was nice to be included, be one of the gang, like she was during the spell. It was hard to go back to being alone.
A knock on the door shook her of her deep thinking and she stood. Faith could only think that it was Giles coming to check up on her. Because car shopping at has taken most of the afternoon she hadn't had a chance to check in with the watcher and she knew that meant he might be worried about what she was up to.
"Hey, what's," Faith started but stopped short when she saw Buffy on the other side. "B?"
Buffy stood on the other side, nervous about the fact she was standing there. She had told her mother she was going out but didn't say where. The fact that she ended up at Faith's didn't surprise her though. The other slayer had been on her mind.
"Expecting someone?" she asked nervously.
Faith shook her head. "Uh, no. Well, I kinda figured Giles might show since I skipped out on him today." She noticed Buffy was shifting from one foot to the other and quickly stepped aside. "Come in."
She stepped inside and looked around. Buffy noticed the pizza on the couch and looked back at Faith as she closed the door. "I didn't mean to interrupt."
"You didn't." Faith looked her over and noticed she was different than the last time she had shown up. For starters, she didn't look as angry or as hurt as the last time. She only looked tired. "You didn't drop off your key when you were here last so I know you have it. You could have used it. I don't mind."
"Didn't feel right."
Faith nodded and looked around nervously. She didn't know why Buffy had shown up, especially after what she had said the last time. "Uh, do you want some pizza? It just came a few minutes ago."
Buffy wasn't sure what to do with the offer. Part of her still wanted to blame Faith for everything that happened. That part wanted so badly to hate her but the rest of her knew that was a very irrational feeling. She only wanted to hate Faith because she was there and the Mayor wasn't.
She took a few seconds to think about what it would be like to simply sit down and get to know Faith without any of the obstacles they currently had in front of them. Buffy thought about what the other slayer would say about how she grew up and her real feelings on being a slayer. She had a feeling that she had more to say than the regular line she gave.
After a minute, Faith didn't know if Buffy was ever going to give her an answer. "B? You hungry?"
"Uh . . ."
"You don't have to," Faith quickly said, thinking she was going to be given the brush off, "but I'm starving so if you don't mind I'm going to."
Buffy watched as Faith moved to sit on the couch and grab a slice from the box. She finally told herself there wouldn't be any harm in eating with her, especially since she knew she had to get over the fact that Faith wasn't responsible for the spell. "I guess I can stay."
Faith smiled, not being able to downplay that she was thrilled Buffy decided to stay as much as she wanted to. She wanted so badly to get to know Buffy and talk to her without the anger or the crying. "Cool. Let me grab you something to drink."
She got off the couch quickly and practically ran to the fridge, looking in and finding a bottle of water. Faith knew from living with Buffy for those few days that she preferred water to anything else and she didn't even give her the options that were available. Of course, outside of a couple of cans of soda the only contents of her fridge was a six pack of beer and from what she got from the spell, Buffy didn't care much for drinking.
Then again, there was a lot in the spell that was fake.
"Here," Faith said as she sat back down on the couch, letting Buffy take the bottle before sitting on the other side. She felt it was safe to keep her distance.
"Thanks," Buffy said quietly. She picked up a slice and took a bite carefully, almost as though she didn't know what was in it. Her mind flashed to a memory of a dinner with Faith, of looking at her like she was the only person in the world.
"Hey, where do you go when you do that?"
Buffy looked at Faith and tried to smile. "It's nothing."
"Yeah, it probably isn't nothing," Faith said. "You can talk to me about it . . . if you want."
Faith nodded and knew she had to accept that answer. She couldn't force Buffy to share what was wrong but part of her wanted to be the one she confided in. It would be just so easy for her move toward her and hold her until she told her what was wrong. Even though she didn't want to admit it, Faith missed holding Buffy.
They ate in silence for a few minutes and Buffy was surprised that it wasn't completely uncomfortable. Sure, the apartment had memories that would flash every once and awhile but she was surprised that it wasn't painful or all that intrusive. It wasn't like it was before and she secretly wondered if being with Faith had something to do with it.
"So," Buffy finally said as she put down her half-eaten slice, "I noticed there's a new car in the spot you normally parked the Mustang."
Faith smiled. "That's the reason I skipped out on Giles today. Since I was without a car and I still have the money I thought why not go out and get a replacement."
"It's not the same car," Buffy pointed out quietly.
"I couldn't get the same car, B," Faith said just as quietly. "I just couldn't do that. I don't want anything that would be like the spell."
Faith looked down. There was so much she wanted to say in response to Buffy's question but she didn't want her to leave and answering the question with complete honesty might cause that to happen. Having Buffy in the apartment made the place instantly less lonely and Faith wanted that feeling to last as long as possible.
She decided for a half truth instead. "I didn't want anyone to have a reminder."
Buffy knew exactly what she meant without needing her to continue. Even though she knew Faith was hurting since she had spoken to her once since the spell was broken, she didn't think the other slayer would deliberately try to avoid causing her any more pain. The move surprised her but deep down she knew it shouldn't. Faith had done nothing to hurt her. If anything, over the last few days she was trying her best to make everything better.
"Do you like it?"
Faith shrugged. "Yeah, it's okay. I plan on taking it for a good test drive tomorrow." She thought for a few seconds before she realized she wanted more time with Buffy, any amount of it. "You could go with me."
A memory flashed through Buffy's head. She was in Faith's car and they were headed to the beach for an afternoon alone together. Once they got there they had lunch before stripping down to their bikinis and having some fun in the water. They made out in the sand and took a nap in each other's arms. It was a perfect day.
And it's wasn't real.
She didn't even realize she was crying until her vision became blurry. Buffy was vaguely aware that Faith got up from the other side of the couch and before she knew what was happening, Faith's arms were around her, holding her close.
"I'm so sorry," Faith whispered into her ear as she held her close. "I don't want you to hurt."
Buffy moved away enough to look into Faith's eyes. "I want to be happy again."
Faith removed her arms from around her and stood. She didn't know how to help but there was something that she wanted to try. Reaching out, she took Buffy's hand and pulled her up so she was standing as well. When Buffy looked at her with a confused expression, Faith placed a hand lightly against her cheek, amazed that Buffy allowed her to do so.
"Please stay here tonight," Faith pleaded quietly, realizing she wanted the happiness Buffy grieved for.
Not waiting for an answer, Faith kept hold of her hand and led her to the bed. She was surprised there wasn't any resistance but she thought maybe Buffy simply didn't have any fight left in her. When she looked at her she thought she looked a little defeated.
Neither of them said anything else as they moved to lie down together. Buffy was surprised how comforting it was to be in Faith's arms again and she couldn't help but snuggle against her as all the pain she felt began to fade away. The last thought she had before falling asleep was that maybe Faith wasn't the enemy she wanted her to be.
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