Faith couldn't remember the last time she slept so well. Her sleep hadn't been plagued by nightmares like it often was and she felt a very comforting feeling all night. It wasn't something she was used to but she knew that was a good thing.
There had been so many nights over the last few days, and really since the spell was broken, that the only way she was able to sleep was if she was too exhausted to think or if she was drunk. The guilt she had and the thoughts that Buffy's pain was her fault haunted her to the point that that was the only way she was able to sleep at all. It had changed over the last couple nights but the relaxed feeling she had as she woke up she hadn't had before.
She slowly opened her eyes and noticed that it wasn't quite light yet so it was much earlier than she was used to waking up. That could be due to the fact she hadn't patrolled the night before but she wasn't sure. Faith thought it could also be the fact that she wasn't alone.
Buffy was still asleep and Faith smiled at the fact that she looked so peaceful. It was the exact opposite of how she looked when she showed up at the apartment the night before. There wasn't any pain present and as Faith looked at her she hoped that meant she was having a good sleep as well.
Faith closed her eyes and thought about what it would be like to wake up like she was every day. She felt so safe and happy, something that was foreign to her. During the spell she hadn't felt that way when she woke up to Buffy but that was because she had no idea what to expect. Everything was so unknown that she had kept her guard up the entire time. She had felt she had to because she had no idea what was going on.
That wasn't the case now. The only unknown was how Buffy would react when she woke up. That was something Faith knew she should prepare for but she was fairly confident she wouldn't be faced with a bad reaction when the other slayer woke up. She wasn't making Buffy do anything she didn't want to do and she hadn't made her stay.
Since it was early and she didn't want to move, Faith thought about what it would be like to wake up to Buffy every morning. She wondered if that would be something Buffy would think about as well or if when she thought about it the only reason she did was because of the fake memories. She hoped that maybe there was a chance they could have mornings like this that had nothing to do with her memories.
Faith shifted slightly but it was enough to make Buffy mumble out and snuggle further into her body. She stilled her movements and waited to see if Buffy would wake up but she didn't say anything else so Faith thought she was safe. She wanted her to continue to rest. It was easy to see she needed it.
It was a few more minutes before Buffy shifted again, this time beginning to wake up. She didn't want to open her eyes because she was so relaxed and she didn't want the feeling to end. Feeling comforted and pain-free wasn't a normal occurrence lately and she wanted to take the time to savor it. Once she opened her eyes she was afraid that it would go away.
For the first night since the spell she slept soundly and without pain. Buffy knew that had something to do with Faith but she didn't want to think about that right now. That meant she would have to think about the spell and all the fake, happy memories she still had roaming around her brain. She didn't want to deal with that, not when she'd just slept better than she had in a very long time.
Buffy moved slightly again and this time she felt Faith secure her hold on her so she knew the other girl was awake as well, or at least was partially. She had to admit she liked the fact that Faith had held her the entire night. It was something that finally felt real to her.
Both of them stayed silent for awhile, neither wanting to move or acknowledge that they were awake. Even with having slept Buffy still felt exhausted. She knew one night wouldn't be enough to come back from several nights that were filled with either sleeplessness or weird and often painful dreams. Though she had to admit if she had a couple more nights where she slept well she probably could start patrolling again.
After a few more minutes, Faith couldn't take the silence any longer. "B? You awake?"
Buffy shifted so she could look at Faith's face. She wasn't sure what to expect but she didn't expect the curiosity and concern on her face. "Yeah."
Faith loosened her grip on Buffy just in case she wanted to make a quick exit. There didn't seem to be any immediate doubt on Buffy's face but she knew that could change. "Did you sleep okay?"
"Yeah," Buffy said again and took a few seconds think of what else to say. "The headaches didn't bother me."
They looked at each other again and Faith didn't know what to say. She wanted to tell her that she wanted Buffy to stay with her longer and that she wanted to help any way she could. There was so much she could say but the moment she opened her mouth to finally vocalize it, there was a knock on her door.
"Shit," Faith muttered and let go of Buffy so she could get out of bed. A part of her knew the moment between them was bound to be ruined. She opened the door to the apartment, wanting to tell off whoever was on the other side but instead kept her mouth shut as Buffy's mother stood on the other side.
"Faith," she said cautiously as she looked at her nervously, "Buffy didn't come home last night."
Faith instantly felt regret that she hadn't thought to call her and let her know that Buffy was with her. She wondered if she had even slept during the night. "I'm sorry, Mrs. S, I . . ."
"Oh my God, did something happen?" Joyce asked quickly. When Buffy hadn't come home she didn't have any idea where she could go and thought better of calling Giles or any of her friends. For some reason the first place she thought to go was Faith's apartment.
"No, nothing . . ." Faith started but was quickly interrupted by Buffy.
"Buffy!" Joyce quickly walked into the apartment as Faith stepped aside and hugged her daughter as she walked to meet her. "I was so worried when you didn't come home. I thought you went patrolling and that . . ."
"I didn't go patrolling," Buffy said before her mom could continue. She knew she should have thought to call her mother and let her know where she was but she hadn't expected to stay at Faith's. She hadn't expected to go to the apartment at all. "How did you know where to go?"
Joyce smiled sadly. "I remember where Faith lived from the spell. It's fuzzy but I can still remember it." She paused. "Were you here all night?"
Buffy looked at Faith for a second before she looked back at her mother. "Yeah, I fell asleep here."
None of them said anything for a moment and Faith wished Buffy's mother hadn't shown up when she did. She wanted to talk to Buffy more about what was going on with her in relation to the spell. If she could help in any way she wanted to do just that but she didn't want to get into anything with Joyce Summers there.
"I guess you should probably go," Faith said, not being able to hide the regret in her voice. "I probably need to explain to Giles why I skipped out yesterday."
Buffy smiled and she hoped Faith could see that it was a genuine one. Even with everything that had happened between them, she appreciated that Faith wanted to help. "Yeah, we should get home."
She started to walk out, thinking her mother would follow but she didn't. "You go ahead, Buffy. I'll meet you at the car in a minute."
Both Faith and Buffy raised their eyebrows at the comment but neither of them said anything. Buffy only turned and left the apartment and Faith waited for whatever Joyce was going to say. She couldn't read the expression on her face so she didn't know if it would be good or bad.
"I know the spell that's causing Buffy so much pain wasn't your fault," Joyce said calmly as she looked at Faith.
Faith didn't quite know how to respond to the comment but as soon as she found her voice she said the only thing she could think of. "I didn't know how to say anything."
Joyce nodded. "I know, Faith, and I think I know how you feel about my daughter. I know you want to help her."
"I know this is where you probably think I'm going to tell you that you need to give her space or maybe leave town," Joyce said and continued before Faith could respond, "but that's not what I'm going to do. I know that won't help Buffy."
Faith nodded. "What do you think will help her?"
"I don't know but I do know one thing." Joyce paused and smiled. "When Buffy needed someone last night she came here and this morning she looks more rested than she has since the spell was broken."
"I didn't really do anything," Faith said quietly.
"I think you did," she responded. "Just be there for her, Faith. I think she needs you in order to get past the pain."
She didn't say anything else, only smiled and walked out the door. Faith closed it behind her and pressed her back against the door. She wasn't exactly sure what just happened but part of her wondered if that was Buffy's mother letting her know it was okay to help her daughter, whatever that way was.
Faith sighed and walked back to the bed, knowing she needed to talk to Giles. For some reason she had made Buffy feel better last night and maybe he could help her understand why.
Buffy didn't know what was going on in her brain but the pain was lessening even more. It was now a dull throb that was constant but it was something she could tolerate.
She didn't tell her mother what she had talked about with Faith and for reasons she probably wouldn't understand, she didn't ask her. Instead, she only asked her what she wanted for breakfast and commented that she looked better than she had the day before.
What Buffy wanted to know was what she talked to Faith about after she had left the apartment. She tried to judge her expression when she met her at the car but her mother hadn't let on to what happened. Buffy knew she was protective and didn't like what had happened to her with the spell but she also knew that she didn't blame Faith for most of it.
Part of her wanted to go back to the apartment simply to ask Faith what was said.
That wasn't going to happen though as once she had breakfast her mother left for the gallery and she decided that she should talk to Giles about the spell a little more. He had told her she was past the tougher parts of the spell which gave her some hope that she would be able to get past all the nasty side effects she had endured. Now she wanted to know how to get back to her old self again.
Buffy knocked again once she reached his place, still not feeling comfortable enough to simply walk in. He opened the door after only a few seconds and looked a little shocked that she was on the other side.
"Buffy, I didn't expect to see you," he said, a smile on his face. "Come in."
"You didn't?" Buffy asked as she walked in and moved to sit on the couch. "I thought when we talked you wanted me to start training again."
"Honestly, I didn't think you'd want to start right away."
Buffy took a breath and waited for Giles to sit down before saying anything else. "Something happened and I'm hoping you can explain it."
"Something to do with the spell?"
"I'm not sure," Buffy said. "It has to do with Faith."
Giles looked at her curiously. "What do you mean?"
"I was with Faith last night." Buffy stopped when she heard how that sounded. "I mean, I went to Faith's apartment last night."
"And what happened?" Giles asked. He had a feeling that contact between the two of them might help with the pain Buffy felt but it was only a theory and he hadn't wanted to vocalize it. "Did you speak with her about the spell?"
"Not really," Buffy said, looking toward the floor. "We just talked about a few things, nothing really, but then some memories flashed through my mind and it hurt. Then Faith hugged me . . ."
"Hey, Giles, sorry about bailing yesterday," Faith said as she opened the front door and walked in without knocking. She stopped when she saw that Buffy was there and it looked as though she had interrupted something. "I can come back."
"No, Faith," Giles said as he stood, "wait. I think this conversation should involve you as well."
Buffy raised an eyebrow at the comment and looked at Faith quickly, noticing her confusion at what Giles said, before looking back at the watcher. "Why should it involve Faith?"
"I believe I will know more in a minute." Giles sat again and gestured for Faith to do the same. "Please, Buffy, continue."
Faith was suddenly uncomfortable. She had wanted to see Buffy again and wanted to talk to her about the fact she had stayed the night with her but she didn't want to do it with Giles in the room. That would increase the uncomfortable factor by at least ten. She sat down next to Buffy and stayed silent, not knowing what she walked in on.
"Faith, we were discussing how Buffy felt last night," Giles explained.
Buffy looked at Faith and noticed how nervous she was just to be sitting next to her. She looked back at Giles and continued. "When Faith hugged me some of the pain started to go away."
Faith raised an eyebrow and couldn't stop her response. "How is that possible? I didn't do anything."
Giles furrowed his brow. He didn't know how to research what Buffy had just described even with his theory. "That is interesting."
"Interesting how, Giles?" Buffy asked. "Interesting as in something that would be easy to find and have a simple explanation?"
"Sadly, no," Giles said. "I'm not sure how to go about finding an answer."
"What about everything you found about the effects of the spell once it's reversed?" Faith asked. "Couldn't there be something you missed?"
"It's not that simple." Giles sighed and rubbed the side of his face absently. "The people who were documented in suffering the effects of the spell being broken didn't have anything like this happen to them. I haven't read where they were reminded of the fake memories in a similar way that you are, Buffy."
"So the fact that I'm still near her is helping?" Faith asked, not quite getting what was going on. None of what either Buffy or Giles was saying made any sense to her.
"Maybe," he answered as he tried to think about how Faith's physical presence would help Buffy. "Then again, it could be a fluke. Buffy, how are you feeling now that Faith is sitting next to you? Any change from when you were here alone?"
Buffy thought about it for a moment but she didn't think that she felt any different. The memories still flashed every once and awhile and there was a dull ache in her head. She wasn't completely sure but she didn't think there was any change since Faith had arrived.
"I don't think so, Giles, but I wasn't really paying attention."
He nodded. "I think you should spend some time with Faith to see if it helps. Do you think you're well enough to try to patrol?"
Buffy nodded. "I think so."
"Maybe that's not such a good idea," Faith said. "What if something happens and I can't protect her? What if the headaches are too much and she can't fight?"
"I'll be fine," Buffy said as she furrowed her brow. Part of her secretly liked that Faith was being protective but mostly it was annoying. She wanted to get back into slaying if only so she could feel normal again. "I want to feel like myself again."
Faith looked at her for a moment and knew there was no way she could convince her to stay home, especially when she knew Giles would back her up. "Okay, we'll go together tonight."
"I don't think this is a good idea."
Buffy looked at Willow for a moment before she turned her attention back to her weapons chest. "I admit it's not ideal but there really isn't a better option."
"Well, there's always an option to stay away from Faith."
Buffy sighed and sat down on her bed next to her best friend. "That's not an option, Will. Faith needs to stay in Sunnydale and she needs to go with me tonight in case I can't concentrate the way I should. She'll protect me."
Willow shook her head, not wanting to agree with the statement. "She didn't protect you before."
"I think we all need to get past the spell," Buffy said quietly even as a memory flashed through her mind. "I don't know how it happened, Will, but being around Faith helped."
"Maybe that was part of the plan," Willow offered. As much as she saw Buffy wanted to believe in the good in Faith, part of her just couldn't do the same. "Maybe that's something she wanted from the start."
"I don't think so." Buffy absently twirled a stake in her hand as she thought about it. She couldn't describe it but the look on Faith's face made her positive that she had nothing to do with the spell or anything else. "You have to trust me on this. She's not the issue."
Willow nodded slowly. "Okay."
Buffy heard a knock on the door and heard some mumbled talking as her mother opened the door. She smiled before standing up and walking out of her room and down the stairs, feeling Willow follow close behind. Faith was standing in the entryway talking to her mother and smiled as she saw her.
It almost felt like they were the only two in the room for a moment but then Faith broke eye contact and instead looked at Willow for a moment before keeping her eyes toward the ground. Buffy looked back but didn't see the look that had obviously been given.
"Honey, I hope you're careful tonight," Joyce said quickly, noticing the tension in the room and wanting to ease it. "Are you sure this is a good idea?"
"I'll make sure she stays safe," Faith said, keeping her eyes on Joyce. "If it gets too tricky, we'll be done."
Buffy didn't like that she said that but didn't respond to the comment. Instead, she only hugged her mother and promised she'd be safe before ushering Faith out the door. She knew if they stayed there would only be more awkward conversation and she feared either Willow or Faith would say something stupid toward each other and her patrol plans would be ruined. The only thing she wanted for the night was to finally slay. It would make her feel like she was back to normal.
They walked in silence for a few minutes before Faith broke it. "Are you sure you're okay to do this? Maybe you should train with Giles for a few days before getting back out there."
"I'll be fine."
"Are you sure?"
Buffy stopped and touched Faith's arm, causing her to stop as well. "Faith, you have to stop doing that."
Faith raised an eyebrow and instantly became nervous. She wasn't quite sure what she meant by the comment. "What?"
"I want to start patrolling again," she said calmly. "I get that you're concerned but I trust that you'll be there if I get in trouble."
"Yeah," Faith said agreed and couldn't stop the smile from appearing on her face. The fact that Buffy said she trusted her meant the world to her at the moment. "I just want you to be sure. Your mom will probably hold me responsible if anything happens."
They started walking again and were silent for another couple minutes until Buffy realized something. "Where's your car?"
"I thought I'd walk and it's not like I'm going to drive it to the cemetery. I don't wanna get vamp dust or demon blood all over it." Faith laughed and paused as Buffy did, too. "How's your head?"
"Dull ache with the occasional sharp pain," Buffy answered. "It's nothing compared to when it started."
Faith nodded and thought about asking another question before closing her mouth and continuing to walk. She knew this wasn't the time to ask more questions about the spell or what she was still feeling from it. Her job tonight was to patrol with her fellow slayer and make sure both of them came out of it without injury.
She looked over at her and smiled a genuine smile as they reached the entrance of the first cemetery of the night. "You ready for this?"
Buffy smiled back. "Absolutely."
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