"I can't believe we're done."
Buffy looked over at her smiling best friend with a raised eyebrow. "As much as I want to agree with you, aren't we just done with the first year? We have to come back in a couple months."
"Hey, I'm looking on the bright side here," Willow said happily. "Now you can concentrate on slaying and Faith."
She thought about a response to the remark but Buffy couldn't think of one. Instead, she only nodded as they walked out of the building where they'd just taken their last final of the semester.
The last few days had gone by quickly and that was a little stressful for Buffy, mostly because of Faith. Something just wasn't right and she couldn't put her finger on what that was. All that she knew was that her girlfriend seemed to be avoiding her and her excuses for doing so weren't exactly believable.
"Hey, Buffy." Willow raised an eyebrow as Buffy looked to her. "Where did you go?"
"Sorry," Buffy said as she smiled. "Just thinking."
Willow knew it was more than that. Ever since Faith had gotten out of the hospital something had changed and she didn't like how it was affecting her best friend. "About Faith?"
"Something's wrong, Will," Buffy said as she let out a sigh. "It feels like Faith has been avoiding me."
"What do you mean? I thought Faith has been taking care of all the slaying so you could concentrate on your classes."
"She did that throughout the year, too, but it was different then." Buffy let out another sigh and tried to put her fears into words. "We would still be together at the end of the night."
Willow had a feeling she knew what Buffy meant and why she wasn't so happy even though she should be excited they were done with classes for now. She wanted her to say it though, thinking it might help. "Meaning?"
"Faith goes slaying solo for most of the night and when she comes home she just goes to sleep. A couple times she'd even been drinking and I'd never seen that before." Buffy felt herself tearing up as she spoke. "We haven't even had sex since she got out of the hospital. I don't think . . . I don't think she wants me anymore."
They stopped walking as Willow reached out and gave Buffy a hug. She didn't think that she was correct in what she was saying. She had watched the couple's relationship develop since Faith first came to Sunnydale and while Faith hadn't been quite herself since her accident she didn't think it would be possible for her not to want Buffy anymore. She had been the one to pursue the relationship in the first place.
"I don't think that's true, Buffy," she said. "Maybe you just need a night to yourselves. You know, go back to what you used to do."
"You mean like the patrol dates we used to go on?" Buffy asked, smiling a little as she said it.
When they first dated and weren't being exactly honest with everyone about it, they would have what they called patrol dates. They'd bring food, a drink or two and would linger in the cemetery, simply enjoying each other's company after they patrolled the area. At first that had been easier than telling everyone, especially Buffy's mother and Giles, that they were dating. The way Faith acted during them was one of the reasons Buffy had fallen so hard for her.
"Why not? You used to love those."
Buffy smiled. "Yeah, that could work. It's been a few days since I've even patrolled."
Willow smiled back. "See? Problem solved."
Faith hit the punching bag as hard as she could, feeling the release of some pent up energy as she did.
She couldn't remember when she'd started but she knew her hands were starting to hurt. That seemed like a sign to stop but Faith kept going for another few minutes before looking down at her hands, cursing that they hurt to the point that she couldn't keep going.
Working out in the apartment while Buffy was on campus was the only time she'd been able to get rid of her excess energy and really be herself. In the afternoons when she was with Giles, when she was out on patrol and especially during the night at the apartment, she couldn't do that. She was always thinking about what the correct answer was and what she needed to say that would get Buffy thinking she was the same person the spell had created.
It had only taken a couple days to realize the differences between her and the Faith that Buffy was so in love with and she had tried to adjust to them. The problem was a couple of the differences were so unlike her that she knew Buffy noticed. No attempts at trying to act the same would work with them.
Buffy's girlfriend didn't drink or smoke and she worked with Giles during the day. When she went out she normally was with Buffy and Faith got the impression that the pair were pretty much inseparable. In fact, Faith seemed to always put Buffy and the whole gang before herself if the bits and pieces she had discovered were any indication.
All of those things Faith wouldn't normally think of to do.
None of it made any sense to Faith. She didn't know why the Mayor would set up a spell that changed her personality in ways that were hard for her to keep up with. According to the video he created the spell for her and that Buffy was given to her because she wanted her. None of that worked though because the Faith in the spell wasn't like her.
At least, she didn't think so.
All she could see when she thought about the next few days was that everything was going to blow up in her face in a spectacular way. She wondered if the spell would end if she revealed to anyone that she was not the Faith all of them knew, the one Buffy loved. Then again, she had no idea what the spell was or how it worked. There was no way for her to know the affects unless she asked.
That was something she didn't want to do. The only person she knew who would be able to tell her what the spell did, and if it did anything more than was the Mayor had said, was Giles. She didn't think she would be able to tell him what had happened or explain why she'd let it as far as she had without telling anyone else the truth.
What the spell created for her wasn't exactly unlikable. Faith knew if she could simply adjust to the changes no one would ever know. She would have friends and a girlfriend who seemed to love her more than anything. All of them would essentially be her family, something she had secretly wanted since she was little.
Nothing was that simple though and Faith cursed again as she sat down and looked at the floor. She hated herself for not being able to fool everyone that nothing had changed. The fact that she enjoyed going off on her own, drinking, dancing and everything that when along with it, did not mix well with the spell and she knew it. The problem was even after she figured that out the first time she had done it again.
Faith thought she was just too stupid to learn and change. The better option might be to simply leave Sunnydale and find somewhere to stay. There was evil everywhere in the world and Faith had the money to go to those places. They probably had better clubs with better entertainment and booze as well.
There was a knock on the door and Faith sighed before standing and walking to the door. No one ever seemed to visit her during the day, all of them having either classes or jobs to go to. She figured that was why she was always with Giles.
"Hey, Faith," Xander said as she opened the door.
Faith made sure to smile even though she wasn't exactly in the mood for visitors. "Hey, Xander. Why aren't you working?"
"End of a project," he said as he walked in. "I thought I'd stop by and see what one of my favorite slayers was up to. I stopped at Giles' but he said you've been training on your own for the last couple days."
"Yeah," Faith said as she closed the door and followed Xander until they were both sitting. "I thought maybe I'd just train a little here for now. Not a whole lot of traffic last couple nights so there's not much point in training with Giles."
"So what do you do all day?"
Faith shrugged. "Hang out here. Maybe go for a drive. Not much."
Xander didn't say anything for a minute, trying to think of what to say. Buffy had confided in both him and Willow about Faith staying out late with the excuse of a lengthy patrol. His friend had feared something was wrong and now hearing what Faith said he was afraid she was right.
"I bet you'll be happy now that Buffy's done with college for the summer. Big plans for tonight?"
"Gotta patrol," Faith answered, shrugging again. "We never really talked about it."
"Maybe we can all meet up at the Bronze later," Xander offered. "I'm sure the girls will want to celebrate the upcoming time off."
Faith smiled, finally thinking something would go right. She hadn't had a chance to go out with Buffy since she'd woken up and nothing would look more normal to everyone else than seeing the two of them out together.
"Sounds like a plan."
Buffy opened the door to the apartment, feeling hopeful after her talk with Willow. She now felt she simply needed to reconnect with her girlfriend and everything would be fine.
She heard the shower running and when she looked around the apartment she could tell Faith had used the apartment to work out. Her workout gear was scattered on the floor as were her clothes that made a trail that led to the bathroom.
"Faith?" Buffy asked as she open the door the bathroom a few inches. "I'm home."
Faith pushed the shower curtain aside and looked at Buffy, a smile on her face. "Hey, what's going on?"
"Just checking in," she said, smiling back. "We can talk when you're done."
Buffy closed the bathroom door and started picking up the apartment a little. Faith had always been a little bit of a slob but that had changed when Buffy had moved into the apartment. It seemed that was another trait Buffy wasn't expecting to come back with a vengeance.
She sat down on the bed and looked around. Something just didn't feel right but she couldn't quite place it. A part of her thought it was simply that she'd been too busy to spend any real time with Faith since the big fight with the Initiative and then dealing with the aftermath that landed her girlfriend in the hospital. That's the part she chose to believe at the moment.
"Hey," Faith said as she walked out of the bathroom wearing only a towel. "Classes done?"
"Nothing until the fall," Buffy said, smiling as Faith dropped the towel in order to change. "I am free to do whatever I want."
Faith smiled and nodded before turning away and getting on the clothes she wanted to wear for patrolling. It didn't make her uncomfortable that Buffy always looked like she wanted nothing more than to jump her when she was naked, not anymore anyway. Now it turned her on but for some reason she hadn't acted on it yet.
Part of that was that even her body was different in the spell. The scars that she had gotten during her childhood were no longer on her body and she was okay with that. Her tattoo was still on her arm and she was fine with that, too, but what caught her off guard more than anything was that her last memory prior to the spell was Buffy stabbing her.
She didn't have a scar where she should have and it was messing with her head.
Buffy could tell Faith was thinking again and she hoped that didn't change what she wanted to do tonight. "I was thinking we'd do something tonight we haven't done for awhile."
Faith turned to look at her as she pulled on a tight black t-shirt. "What's that?"
"Let's pick up some takeout and bring it on patrol with us," Buffy said. "I bet it'll be a slow night tonight so we can eat and hang out, just the two of us."
From the look on Buffy's face, Faith knew this was something they had done multiple times in the past. She had no memory of it, of course, but her girlfriend looked excited so she figured they had some good times in the past. Since they hadn't been spending much time together lately, Faith knew this would probably help her get back into playing the good girlfriend.
"Sounds like a plan," Faith said, smiling. "Xander stopped by and thought meeting up at the Bronze to celebrate the end of classes would be a good idea but we can blow that off."
Buffy stood up, her smile widening to a grin. "Good plan."
Faith couldn't believe they had done something like this in the past.
She thought about her times patrolling with Buffy prior to the spell and never once had the other slayer been anything but all business. Sometimes Xander and Willow would bring snacks but that was for them. Neither she nor Buffy ever brought food.
This Buffy was all about trying to make their alone time count and that apparently meant having dinner in the cemetery. Faith pretended to know all about it and followed along as they picked up burgers and fries on the way to the first cemetery of the night. She was always up for some food and wanted to know more about what Buffy and the spell version of her had done.
"I can't believe it's been months since we've done something like this," Buffy commented as she ate a fry.
"It's been busy," was all Faith could think of to say.
They sat on top of a gravestone, their bag of food in between them. Buffy looked over at Faith every once and awhile, trying to gage her reaction to everything. Her girlfriend always seemed to be thinking about something and part of her wished she would say something, even if it was something she might not like.
She was getting nervous about how Faith was acting. Not once since she showed up in Sunnydale had Faith ever been distant. She always said exactly what she was thinking. That was probably the only reason they started dating. Faith was the one who stepped up and said they should date.
And then get naked.
Faith noticed Buffy was smiling as she ate and that made her smile. She knew she needed to do better. Buffy was smarter than anyone gave her credit for. She knew she was beginning to think something was wrong.
"You just got all smiley there," Faith said as she looked at her. "What's up?"
"Just thinking about the first time we did this," Buffy said as she continued to smile. "Remember? We almost got caught by Giles then he got jumped by a newbie and we had to ditch the food and help him."
Their eyes met and Faith leaned in, giving Buffy a soft kiss. She suddenly wanted to be closer but the bag was preventing her from doing just that. Light kissing would have to do for a moment and that way she didn't have to lie by saying she remembered when she didn't.
"Mm," Buffy mumbled out as they separated, "this was a good idea."
Faith chuckled quietly. "It was your idea."
Buffy gave her a light kiss. "That's why it was a good one."
They laughed and finished their food in silence. Faith had to admit that she enjoyed being out on a patrol date with Buffy. It made sense that they would have done something like that when they were first dating, especially if they weren't ready to tell people about their relationship.
She wondered how they told everyone about their relationship. It probably was hard for Buffy to admit to her friends and family that she liked her but obviously they hadn't taken it horribly. Everyone seemed to be supportive of what they had and Faith thought that probably had something to do with the spell. She didn't think the Mayor would have set it up so that it had been a struggle for them to be together. It wouldn't have made much sense.
Then again, not much of what happened now made sense to Faith.
After a couple minutes Buffy jumped off the gravestone and turned to her. "What do you say we stake a few vampires and then go back home for a little alone time?"
Faith slid off the stone and grinned. "Let's get this party started."
Buffy took her hand and they started to wander deeper into the cemetery. Both of them could sense that there were vampires nearby and knew they needed to do what they were meant to.
The closer they got to the apartment, the more nervous Faith became.
She couldn't understand why she was but it was happening nonetheless. As soon as Buffy proclaimed she'd had enough of patrolling for the night and suggested they go back to the apartment, Faith could swear she broke out into a cold sweat. It was almost as though she'd never had sex before.
Faith tried her best to appear that she wasn't nervous though. She didn't want it to seem like she didn't want to be there because she was beginning to realize that she did. Even though she thought the Mayor was delusional when he claimed she wanted Buffy, now she thought he might be correct.
She might actually have feelings for Buffy.
Buffy held Faith's hand as they walked and she tried to figure out what was going on in Faith's head. She looked like she almost might be nervous and Buffy wondered why that was. In her mind, there wasn't any reason for nerves. They were only going to their apartment after an uneventful patrol, just like they had plenty of times in the past.
Panic threatened to rise in her as she thought that maybe her fears were right and Faith was drifting away. They had been so close almost from the beginning when Faith showed up in Sunnydale and it was Faith who normally initiated that closeness. She normally was always give her subtle touches and little kisses, acts that Buffy loved.
Since she hit her head there wasn't any of that and Buffy feared there was still something wrong. Her girlfriend was still doing too many things that were not characteristic of her. Most importantly, they didn't talk nearly as much anymore.
She gave her hand a little squeeze. "I love nights like this."
Faith looked at her and smiled as they reached the apartment building. "Definitely a good time."
"And that's just starting."
Faith again tried not to let any nerves show, only smiling and remaining silent until they were inside the apartment. Then she shrugged off her jacket and watched as Buffy did the same, thinking about what her next move should be.
Buffy eyed Faith for a moment before closing the distance between them and kissing her with everything she had. It took a moment but Faith responded, wrapping her arms around the other girl as she deepened the kiss at first opportunity.
As the kissing became more heated, Buffy started to guide them toward the bed. After all the studying, all the nights where all Faith did was walk in and go to sleep, she wanted to get her naked and wanted to do it now. She needed it.
When Faith felt Buffy's legs hit the edge of the bed she broke away and looked into Buffy's eyes. She saw so much love and desire in them and she knew she should be happy about it. It was what she wanted but she wasn't feeling that way. Instead, she was terrified.
"I . . . I can't do this."
Buffy's face fell and her eyes filled with tears almost instantly. "What?"
"I'm sorry, Buffy," Faith said, torn between running out the door or embracing her girlfriend. She didn't want to see her cry. "I just . . . can't."
Faith tried to back away but Buffy held on to her arm, not wanting to let her go without an explanation. The words she'd just said were breaking her heart. "Is it me? Did I do something wrong?"
"No, B," Faith said quickly, still torn between comforting and running. "It's not you at all."
Buffy pulled at Faith, making her sit next to her at the edge of the bed. "What's wrong, baby? Please tell me."
Faith looked away from her, not wanting to look at her and see the hurt she was causing. She wondered if this was what the Mayor wanted and for the first time she hated him for it. This wasn't what she wanted to happen.
"Faith? Please tell me."
"None of this is right," Faith muttered before finally looking at Buffy. "It's not how it should be."
Buffy wiped away a couple tears, not wanting to believe what she was hearing. "That's not true, Faith. This is exactly how it should be. I love you."
Faith fought the urge to say it back. Part of her wanted to simply make everything better and she didn't understand the flood of emotions she had about it. "None of this makes sense."
"Faith, please," Buffy said as she pressed a hand against her cheek. "I don't know what happened to us but we love each other. I would do anything for you."
The words hurt and Faith didn't know why. She felt trapped but she didn't want to leave because she knew that would hurt Buffy more. All the conflicting feelings felt like they were crushing her. "You don't mean that, B."
"I do," Buffy insisted. She didn't know why Faith was saying what she was but she needed to fix it. She felt she needed to show Faith why she was so wrong. "Please, baby. Let me show you why you're wrong."
Not wanting to have Faith try and fight her on it, Buffy quickly leaned in and tenderly kissed Faith. She could feel a couple stray tears hit her cheeks and deep down she knew that her girlfriend wouldn't leave. Faith never left her crying.
When they broke away Faith knew what the right thing to do was. Even though it would hurt, she knew she should leave. This wasn't what Buffy would normally say. It was all the spell's doing but the way the other slayer was looking at her was keeping her right where she was. Against her better judgment, she nodded slowly and let Buffy start to remove their clothes.
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