by Hayley

Chapter Twelve

"You okay?"

"Please stop asking me that," Buffy said, trying not to sound frustrated with the constant question. She knew Faith was only checking on her, like anyone else would. "My head isn't exactly pain-free but I'm fine. I just staked a vamp, didn't I?"

Faith had to admit Buffy seemed to have zero problems with the last vampire they came across in the cemetery. She was sure that had been the first time since the spell she'd staked anything. It was amazing to watch her do it again.

"Okay, I'll back off for now."

Buffy looked at her and smiled. "It's okay. I get it."

"There are several people who would kill me if anything happened to you tonight, you know?" Faith said as they continued to walk toward the exit. "I'm not sure about the others but I bet your mom will massacre me."

"She can be scary," Buffy said, laughing.

They walked the rest of the way in silence but it was one of the more comfortable ones they had experienced. Faith tried to stay close while still giving Buffy some space, something that wasn't exactly easy. Giles thought that her being close would help with Buffy's headaches and overall pain so she wanted to remain close. The problem was there was still something awkward about their relationship because of the spell. That meant she didn't want to get too close.

"So . . . what do you really think about what Giles said?"

Faith turned to look at Buffy as they started walking to the next cemetery. She thought maybe it was a mistake not to take her car. It would have cut down on the amount of small talk they had to make between cemeteries.

"There's this memory I have," Buffy started, wanting to say something, anything to Faith. She wanted to be able to talk to her about the spell. "I know it's fake 'cause I've been getting good at telling what's real and what's fake. But since I know the Mayor put all this together I was wondering if some of the spell was accurate."

"What do you mean?"

Buffy smiled. "We were dating, Faith. You told me things about yourself. I was just wondering if any of it was true. Did the Mayor know about any of your past prior to Sunnydale?"

Faith was suddenly nervous. She hadn't told the Mayor much of anything about her life prior to being in Sunnydale. There was just an odd story here and there so she wasn't sure if anything from the spell would have been accurate. Then again, the Mayor had ways for finding out every detail of someone's life without asking any questions.

"He didn't really ask me anything but I wouldn't be surprised if he knew every detail of my life. He had ways, you know?"

Buffy nodded. "So when we first started dating and we were in the 'getting to know you' phase I asked you about Boston."

Faith tried not to freeze up but couldn't completely stop herself. "What did you ask about?"

"I asked about your parents. You said you didn't know your dad and your mom . . ."

"It was probably true," Faith said quickly, not really sure she wanted Buffy to continue.

Looking over at Faith, Buffy could tell she was a little uncomfortable with the question. That wasn't what she wanted but since she was living with fake memories, she was curious if any of the information in them was real. She didn't know enough about Faith to know what detail was fake and which was real but she had a ton of Faith-knowledge she wanted to verify.

"So you were raised in a traveling circus?"

Faith stopped completely and looked at her with a shocked expression. "What?"

"Just kidding," Buffy said quickly as she smiled at Faith's expression. She hoped that her comment would lighten the mood a little. "You shouldn't be ashamed of how you grew up, Faith."

"Yeah," Faith mumbled as she shrugged and looked away from Buffy. She wasn't sure exactly what Buffy's fake memories had told her about her childhood but from the look she was getting, she could tell it was probably more truth than fake.

She took a chance and reached out to take Faith's hand in her own. It wasn't something she thought she would ever do after the spell and everything that happened between them but something about Faith's demeanor made her want some sort of contact. There was a little resistance on Faith's part as she froze once their hands touched but soon she relaxed.

Faith really didn't have any idea what was going on. Buffy had taken hold of her hand and she didn't know if it was pity or something else entirely. She looked over at her and was about to say something when someone else beat her to it.

"Well, isn't this sweet?"

The pair turned to see a trio of male vampires walking toward them. Faith had lost track of where they were and noticed that they were at the entrance of the next cemetery they were supposed to be patrolling. She looked back and Buffy and they let go of each other's hand.

All of the vamps shared a look when one of them stepped forward. "We had heard the slayers were close and all but this is just too sweet. Too bad your night won't be ending as romantically as this little display."

Buffy raised an eyebrow. "Are you serious?"

All of them looked at each other before another one spoke up. "If you mean serious about having a slayer for dinner then yes, we are."

Faith shook her head and looked at Buffy. "That line was just sad."

"I know, right? I thought vamps had a little more style when they tried to approach before we staked them."

"Enough of this."

The trio ran at them but it was easy to see that they were all talk. Faith had one staked within a minute without any trouble at all and was quickly onto the second. She looked over at Buffy and noticed she was having a little more trouble with her vampire. It wasn't enough for her to want to help but it was more than she thought she should be.

The distraction of looking at Buffy caused the vamp to land a punch, connecting with her nose. It wasn't with enough force to break it but it was enough for her to taste blood. Faith swore and shook it off as she kicked the vamp away from her, resisting the opportunity to look at Buffy again to check on her fight.

Buffy heard Faith swear but didn't look her way as she fought. It felt good to get another fight in for the night, to feel the rush that came with slaying, but she also felt a little rusty. The vamp got in a couple hits that he shouldn't have and that frustrated her. She wanted to prove to herself and everyone else that she was okay to patrol again. The fight was proving to her that she definitely needed to get back to training.

It took another minute but she managed to get the upper hand and stake the vamp, stepping out of the way as the dust fell to the ground. Buffy smiled as she watched it, feeling as accomplished as she had in a long time. It was better than the tiny fight she was in earlier because it proved more difficult and she prevailed. The pain in her head wasn't even bothering her as much. She heard a slow clap and saw Faith grinning off to the side, a bloody cloth in her hand.

"Good one."

"Good? It was sloppy," Buffy said. "I should've had him easily."

Faith continued to grin, expecting that response. "But you didn't panic and I didn't need to help you. How's the head?"

"Fine. Were you hurt?" Buffy asked, nodding toward the cloth in Faith's hand.

"Bloody nose, no big."

Buffy nodded. "Should we move on then?"

Faith waved her hand dramatically and they started walking again. As they walked, she wondered how long she could make the night with Buffy last.

Faith opened the door to her apartment and nervously let Buffy inside. It was something she had hoped for at the end of the night but didn't think Buffy would be the one to suggest it. She had thought she would only want her to maybe stop only to get the car so she could drive her home.

They had gone through four cemeteries, each slaying a handful of vamps with little difficulty, and had enjoyed the night for the most part. Faith had about what happened while she had been in a coma and Buffy had told her a couple stories that were simple and even a little funny. Being a slayer often meant getting into some unique situations that both of them could relate to and laugh about.

Buffy was surprised how comfortable she was while patrolling with Faith. She had thought she would need to keep her guard up around the other slayer since their history wasn't exactly good but that wasn't the case. The Faith she had patrolled with was thoughtful, funny and a little overprotective. It had actually been fun and it was far from what she had expected at the start of the night. It was why she hadn't wanted the night to end yet.

"You hungry?" Faith asked as she looked up. "We can order a pizza or something."

"You don't have anything here?" Buffy asked as she sat down on the couch, trying to get the memories of the apartment to calm down. She almost wanted to ask Faith to sit down next to her in hope it was have the calming affect it had in the other night.

"Just leftover takeout." Faith turned to her and smiled before looking into the fridge again. "I don't really know how to cook. Didn't really come up when I was younger . . . but then again, you probably already knew that."

Buffy smiled. "I can tell you what I know if you want."

Faith grabbed a couple sodas from the fridge and sat down next to Buffy, handing one to the other woman. The thought that Buffy knew intimate details of her life without her actually sharing them with her made her nervous. It was another thing she hated the Mayor for.

"I don't know. How bad is it?"

Buffy took a sip of her soda. "You always considered yourself to be on your own even when you were with your mom or that short time you were in foster care. You told me until your watcher you never had anyone to rely on and even then you didn't trust her for a long time."

All of that was true and Faith nodded. "Yeah, it took me a long time to not think of her as an enemy. I never had a good track record with adults."

Neither of them said anything for a minute before Buffy spoke up again. "When you started talking about your past in the reality of the spell the only thing I said was that your mom didn't deserve you, Faith. You deserved to have a parent that protected you from bad things, not led you to them."

Faith wasn't sure how much Buffy in saying what she did and how much she knew so she wasn't sure if she should have her explain further. Did she know about her mom's boyfriend or all the times she made the wrong decision that had negative and sometimes disastrous consequences? The way she was looking at her right now made her think the answer was yes.

"Yeah," she mumbled out.

Buffy looked at the expression on Faith's face and decided she needed to lighten the mood as she looked at a picture of Fenway on the wall near the entrance of the apartment. "I see that picture reappeared when the spell was broken."

Looking to the picture Buffy was referring to, Faith smiled. She had picked it up when the Mayor had first given her the apartment, before the fight that left her in a coma. It had disappeared during the spell and she hadn't thought about it at all until it reappeared once the spell was broken. She was glad to have it back but wondered why it was absent during the spell.

"You didn't like it?"

"It wasn't that I didn't like it," Buffy explained. "It was just that we were trying to combine our stuff and this apartment isn't exactly huge. I wanted to hang a couple things and that picture was the one to go. Why would you want to look at a stadium anyway?"

"It's Fenway, B," Faith said as though that was all the explanation she needed. "I mean, Fenway. Who wouldn't want that hanging on the wall?"

"The answer to that question is me," Buffy said with a small smile on her face. "I didn't want to have to look at it every time I walked in."

They looked at each other and laughed quietly for a few seconds before silence came over them once again. Faith wasn't sure what to say next. She was kind of amazed that Buffy was able to share memories of the spell without the Faith was all too familiar with appearing on her face. Even though Buffy had said she believed Faith had nothing to do with the spell it still hurt her. The happiest of memories probably caused at least a little pain.

"You're the strongest person I know," Faith mumbled quietly.

Buffy wasn't sure if she meant to hear what Faith said but a small smile appeared on her face because of it. She'd been thinking a lot about the spell and now knowing details she knew about Faith were actually real she wondered what else could be real.

Were their feelings real or was it part of the fabrication? Were Faith's feelings real?

She moved closer to Faith without fully realizing it. "I keep thinking about everything that happened."

Faith immediately got a concerned look on her face. "Are you feeling okay? Maybe I should take you home."

"No, that's not what I meant," Buffy said quickly. "I'm not sure what's real about it and what's not. The information in it was real. What you shared with me was real. It makes me think about what else could be real."

"Like what?"

"Your feelings for me," Buffy said quietly, "and maybe even my feelings for you."

Faith only looked at her for a moment. She wasn't quite sure what to make of what Buffy said. Ever since she had woken up from her coma she had tried to get over the confusion around her. There wasn't much time to examine her feelings until the night they slept together. That night she quickly discovered that all the feelings Buffy though she had for her were real.

She was head over heels for Buffy.

"Oh." Faith turned toward Buffy to see her looking at her curiously. "So you want to know if the feelings the spell version of me had are the same as what I have." She paused as Buffy nodded slowly. "Yeah, Buffy. Yes, I do."

There was another pause between them and Faith wasn't sure she could take the tension. She wanted to put her arms around Buffy and admit that the whole reason she broke the spell was it didn't feel right. She wanted Buffy for real and by her own choice. She didn't want a spell intervening.

Buffy couldn't take the look on Faith's face any longer so she leaned in and softly pressed her lips against Faith's. She felt Faith freeze but she didn't pull away. Something about the way the other slayer looked at her told her that she would welcome any kiss Buffy gave her. All she had to do was take the first step because she wasn't sure Faith ever would.

It took a few seconds to process but once she did Faith slowly responded to the kiss Buffy was giving her. It was so soft and gentle that Faith couldn't help but respond in a similar way. They slowly inched closer together as they continued to kiss carefully. Both of them were too afraid to scare the other one off and end whatever was happening.

When they did break away from each other, Faith reached up and pressed a hand gently against Buffy's cheek. "Will you stay with me again? Call your mom and let her know that you're okay and you'll be here for the night?"

Buffy smiled. "Faith . . ."

"No pressure," Faith said quickly. ""It's just . . . I slept so well last night and I think it was because you were in my arms."

The look Faith had in her eyes made Buffy know she was telling the truth and there was also a look of desperation that she wasn't expecting. She knew that Faith was lonely, it was something she realized she had ignored the first time around, but she didn't know that she would want her to stay as badly as her expression said she did.

She decided to use it to her advantage. "I will if you tell me something."

Faith lifted an eyebrow, not quite knowing what to expect. "What?"

"Tell me how you really felt when you woke up."

Faith stood up and walked toward the phone, picking it up and handing it to Buffy. "Call your mom and I'll tell you."

Buffy looked at her for a second before she took the phone and called home, leaving a message that she would be spending the night at Faith's. She was a little surprised that her mother hadn't been awake since she had been nervous about her patrolling but then she figured maybe she trusted Faith to keep her safe.

When she hung up she noticed Faith was nowhere to be seen but not for long as she appeared again with a change of clothes. "This will be more comfortable than sleeping in our clothes again."

Buffy nodded and took the shorts and t-shirt offered her. They changed separately and the entire time all Faith could think about was what she was going to say to Buffy. She wanted to be honest but she also didn't want to scare her off. Some of her thoughts at the beginning weren't exactly the greatest in terms of what she thought of everyone.

When Faith was all changed, teeth brushed and ready for whatever was to come, she exited to the bathroom to find Buffy sitting on the edge of the bed. She gave her a small smile which was returned but the way the other slayer was looking at her made her nervous. It was much too expectant.

"So . . ." Buffy started as Faith sat next to her, "what did you think?"

"I kept having this nightmare," Faith said slowly, looking away from Buffy. "That day it was different. Normally if I saw you in my head you would never recognize I was there. I could only watch whatever you were doing, if you were slaying or whatever. You never saw me."

"And that day?"

"You had just slayed a vamp and then you were looking right at me and you had the knife in your hand. You walked toward me and pretty soon I knew it wasn't to talk so I ran and you ran after me. Of course, you caught me in the end and then I left the knife go in, right in the same spot." Faith put her hand on her scar. "Then I woke up."

Buffy looked down at Faith's hand. "In all my memories from the spell you don't have the scar. I guess that reappeared, too."

Faith nodded and didn't say anything for a second, trying to get her thoughts together. "When I woke up I didn't know where I was right away but then all I wanted to do was to get out as fast as possible. I didn't know if someone would be looking for me or whatever. My only thought was to find clothes and leave fast."

"What did you think when you saw me?"

"I froze," Faith said quietly. "I thought maybe you were there to finish the job. I really didn't expect you to hug me."

"That would have been a really weird way to attack."

Faith chuckled quietly. "I was still worried you would."

Neither of them said anything for a minute, both lost in their own thoughts. Buffy was trying to get the courage to ask if Faith ever intended to hurt her during the spell and Faith was trying to figure out how to accurately describe what she was feeling. She didn't want to scare Buffy off, something she was sure she had the ability to do.

"I never wanted to hurt you," Faith said quietly, as if she if knew exactly what Buffy was going to ask. "I didn't know how to break the spell so I thought if I could be the Faith you wanted that everything would be fine."

Buffy felt tears in her eyes. "I think I know that."

Their eyes met then and they leaned in, meeting each other halfway as they kissed lightly. They broke apart after only a few seconds and Faith brought her hand up to Buffy's face, gently wiping her tears away. She rested her forehead against Buffy's and let out a slow breath. There were so many emotions running through her and it left her exhausted.

She stood, pulling Buffy up with her. She silently walked them to the bed and got Buffy to lie down before doing the same and pulling the covers over them. Faith pulled the other woman close to her in an almost protective embrace.

"I will never hurt you," Faith whispered as she placed a kiss on her head. "Never again."

Buffy didn't say anything in response, just put her arms around Faith as she snuggled against her. She felt her head clear and soon she fell asleep.

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