Chapter Five

Buffy crept back into her apartment as quietly as possible, not wanting to deal with a million questions from Dawn. Not only had she told her sister that she would finish making dinner once she grabbed her jacket from the back porch, but she also promised that she'd only be a minute.

That had been over four hours ago.

As often as weird things happened in their lives, she was pretty sure that Dawn wouldn't buy a story about a leprechaun or unicorn luring her away from the porch and into a magical place in the woods. After all, Buffy had used that excuse years earlier when she had just been called as a slayer and Dawn didn't believe her then, either.

She walked softly on the old wooden floorboards and peeked into the kitchen, noticing that the dishes were done and put away already. A note hung from the refrigerator, and as Buffy neared it, she saw only two words written in Dawn's handwriting on the tiny scrap of paper: You suck!

Buffy chuckled and shook her head lightly as she took the paper down and crumpled it up, throwing it easily into the garbage bin. With a sigh, she took once last glance around the dimly lit kitchen and turned off the small light for the night.

There was really no sense in going to sleep; Buffy knew that she'd be up over-thinking things and replaying events in her head for most of the night. Still, she climbed the stairs and headed to the quiet refuge of her bedroom, ready to lock herself away from the world at least until the morning.

She took a few minutes to wash up for bed before changing into a loose-fitting tee and a pair of shorts. For a few minutes she briefly entertained the notion of completing her nightly ritual of ab-crunches and stretches, but in the end, sheer mental and physical exhaustion won out and she collapsed onto her large cushy bed face down. She remained there for several minutes, completely sprawled out and basking in the way the soft blankets felt against her warm skin.

Without even knowing that she had been slowly drifting off into a light sleep, Buffy was startled awake by the buzzing of her cell phone resting on her nightstand. She pushed her mussed hair out of her face and picked up the small black phone, gazing at the caller ID screen.

Faith. 555-5309

She moved to put the phone back on her nightstand without answering it, but realized that even a simple action like that could turn their situation from weird to incredibly awkward and bad.

Taking a deep breath, she hit the ‘send' button and lifted the phone up to her ear.

"Hey," she said softly, her tiredness obvious in her voice.

"Hey," Faith answered back from the other end of the line. "Sorry to bother ya. Was just kinda thinkin that if I didn't apologize, things might get weird. And I mean, I'm sure it's a bit weird already, but I dunno . . ."

"No, it's okay," Buffy interrupted, gently clearing her throat. "It's not weird. It's just . . . weird," she explained, confused by her own explanation more than Faith probably was.

"Yeah, I know what ya mean," Faith said quietly. "But . . . so, yeah. I'm sorry I dragged you along with me, B. Not sure what good it did for us to see all that."

"Oh," Buffy said, her eyebrows furrowed.

"Oh?" Faith asked, copying Buffy.

"Uh, yeah. I thought you were apologizing for the . . . the after. The after of the portal hopping."

"The after?" Faith asked, but finally realized what Buffy meant. "Ohh, right. The kiss. Nah, I'm not sorry about that, B."

"Oh," Buffy said again, her brows still knitted together. She wasn't exactly sure how to take what Faith had said.

"I mean, I'm sorry if you didn't enjoy it or if my breath was kickin or whatever, but . . . no, I'm not really sorry for doing it. I've felt lotsa wrong things in my life, and that wasn't one of ‘em. Guess I'm kinda wiggin a bit here cos it felt pretty damn right, in fact, and I was kinda wonderin how it felt for you."

"Oh," Buffy repeated herself yet again as she rolled onto her back and took a deep breath.

"You stuck on ‘skip', B, or do ya got any other kinda response lost in there somewhere?" Faith asked lightheartedly.

"I'm just . . . my mind is all boggled right now, Faith," Buffy explained, cupping one of her hands over her forehead. "I really don't know how I feel. Everything just seems really sudden, yet not. Does that . . . am I making any sense right now?"

"Yeah," Faith answered after a brief silence. "I'm all ears if ya wanna try to make some sense of it all."

"I don't think I can right now," Buffy said with a weak smile as she let her hand rub over her face. "I need some serious time for thinkage, and possibly best-friendage."

"Oh," Faith said, her voice a bit higher than usual. "Yeah, that's cool. Do what ya gotta do. But, whenever you're ready to talk or whatever, well . . . you know where I live," she said with a small chuckle.

Buffy smiled.

"Thanks. And we will. Talk, I mean. We'll talk."

A few minutes of silence passed, neither girl saying anything, before Faith finally spoke up again.

"Okay. Well . . . night then."

"Night, Faith," Buffy said softly before clicking the small phone closed and placing it back on her nightstand.

She sat in silence for a few minutes, staring up at nothing in particular. After a brief debate with herself, she reached over and grabbed her phone again, dialing a familiar number. Four rings later, a sleepy Willow answered.


"Hey Willow, it's me. And before you ask, everything's okay and the world is still safe. I was just wondering if you could maybe meet me for lunch tomorrow . . . have some high-quality Buffy and Willow time?"

A brief silence ensued before Willow answered.

"You're wigging out about the Buffy and Faith smoochage in the other dimension, aren't you?"

"You've got it in one, Wills," Buffy said with a smile. "So . . . the café on Walden Park at 11:30 sound okay?"

"Sure thing, Buff," Willow said sleepily. "Night."


Buffy put the phone back on the nightstand and turned off the lamp before crawling under the blankets. She laid back and pulled them up over her head, safe from the world in her own little cocoon of blankets, but not safe from her wandering thoughts.

Somehow, Buffy had managed to sleep past her normal waking time at the crack of dawn and managed a nice lie-in. It felt good to sleep after laying awake with her thoughts for most of the night, but she nearly kicked herself when she woke up and saw her alarm clock reading 11:00am, mocking her in her lateness.

She didn't have time to shower and get to the café on time to meet Willow, so she instead opted to brush her hair and toss it in a big ponytail before getting dressed. She tried to be as quiet as possible while getting ready as she didn't want to let on to Dawn that she was awake; there was no way she had time to answer a whole slew of questions about where she was and what had happened.

Buffy opened her bedroom door quietly and peeked into the hallway, making sure it was free of annoying teenage sisters. Seeing that the coast was clear, she hurried out of her room and down the stairs to come face-to-face with a grinning Faith sat at her kitchen table.

"Oh, hey," she said hurriedly as she hopped around trying to get her sneakers on. "Was I supposed to . . .?"

"No, no," Faith said quickly as she sipped her coffee. "Was hanging out with Dawnie – who says you suck, by the way – and when she left to meet her friends at the mall she said that I could hang if I wanted."

"And here you are," Buffy said with a crooked smile as she fumbled around looking for her keys.

"And here I am," Faith answered. "Guess I was hoping to see you, maybe have that talk . . ."

"Oh," Buffy said, finally slowing down enough to look at Faith for a moment. "I kinda have plans with Willow, and I was just leaving to meet her for lunch. Well, soon as I find my keys, anyway." She opened up the breadbox as she finished, hoping to find her keys sparkling at her from within it, but groaned when she found it completely empty.

When she managed to glance back at Faith, she saw her keys dangling from the brunette's hand.

"You mean these keys?" Faith asked with a grin.

Buffy tilted her head to the side and raised an eyebrow.

"Are you holding my keys hostage for any reason in particular?"

"Nope," Faith said easily. "You left them hanging outta your front door last night, I saw them when I went for my morning jog. I may've saved you from getting burgled, B. I'm thinkin you owe me, big time."

Buffy crossed her arms across her chest, almost forgetting that things were supposed to be awkward. There wasn't supposed to be easy banter and fun until she got her head straight.

"How big are we talking about here?" she asked, fighting back her grin.

"Big big. I'm thinking that it's something I'm gonna have to discuss and negotiate with you. Might have to do it over dinner."

Buffy's eyes widened as she realized what was going on.

"Dinner? As in . . . a date?" she asked, eyes still wide.

"Sure," Faith said with a shrug, still grinning a little. "What harm could it do, B?"

"Harm? Not much. Except for making my head even more boggley. I . . ." she looked down at her watch and realized that she had about ten minutes to get to the café, which was about twenty minutes away, ". . . am so late. Listen . . . Will and I are gonna do some talking, and then maybe you and I can do some talking, okay?"

She took a tentative step forward and held out her hand for her keys, and Faith laid them gently in her hand, their fingers touching ever-so-subtly.

"So you're shootin me down?" Faith asked with a grin, trying to hide her disappointment.

"At least for now," Buffy said with a small smile, but her face turned more serious after a moment. "I'm sorry."

"Nah, it's cool," Faith began, shaking her head. "I get it. Sorry I'm kinda pushin and stuff, I just wanna make sure you don't go runnin in the opposite direction of me or anything."

"I'm not going anywhere," Buffy said softly, smiling again. "Except for lunch with Willow, for which I'm gonna be so late. Typical Buffy fashion."

With that, she tuned and walked toward the door, giving Faith a small wave before making her way out of the house and to her car.

Oh yeah. She had lots of things to talk about with Willow.

Buffy practically ran up to the café having parked nearly three blocks away, sure that Willow had already gotten fed up and abandoned their lunch plans. She was shocked to see Willow casually walking up to the building at the same time, arriving nearly half an hour late as well.

"Hey!" Buffy said, getting Willow's attention as they approached the entrance at the same time from opposite directions.

"Hey yourself," Willow said, startled as Buffy came barreling toward her and screeched to a halt a few paces away.

"You're late," Buffy said as she checked her watch for the hundredth time in the last five minutes.

"I'm right on time," Willow said with a knowing grin. "Buffy-time is always shifted by about half an hour. If you tell me 11:30, I show up at about five minutes before Noon. This way it looks like I was waiting for you the whole time, so you get the guilties and buy me dessert."

"Not anymore now that I know that," Buffy said with a mock glare. She and Willow shared a laugh and Buffy hooked her arm through Willow's, leading them into the café.

They took their time enjoying their lunch, chit-chatting about nothing in particular. Only after their plates were cleared away and their coffee and desserts were brought to them did Willow finally bring up the reason for their impromptu lunch date.

"So, are we gonna get to the good stuff, or do we keep skating around the subject until your legs get tired?" Willow asked before blowing into her large ceramic coffee mug and taking a cautious sip.

"I'm not sure I'll ever be ready," Buffy said with a nervous chuckle. "I don't really even know where to begin."

"Well," Willow began, "Why don't you start with the unedited story of what happened in the other dimension?"

"Which dimension?" Buffy asked guiltily.

"What do you mean? The dimension we sent you to, of course. Unless . . ." Willow paused as she thought to herself for a moment, ". . . we left the orb in your pocket. Did you use the orb in your pocket?"

"Well, not me, per se. More of an us. A ‘Faith and I' us."

"But I thought that she was going for her Budweiser group therapy and that you were going to relax and wind down?" Willow asked, confused.

Buffy took a sip of her coffee and set the mug back down gingerly as she began her explanation.

"Well, that was the plan. Except we kind of did our nighttime ritual. I heard her out on the back porch and I went to join her. We had a beer, she told me that maybe we were supposed to be together in other dimensions too, she blamed herself for her past, I kissed her, and then I went inside."

Willow blinked a few times when she realized what Buffy had just admitted.

"You – you kissed Faith? On the lips?"

"On the lips," Buffy said with a nod, trying hard to read her best friend's reaction. "Lips of Buffy on lips of Faith."



A few moments of silence passed by before Willow asked,


Buffy couldn't help but chuckle a little.

"I . . . I really don't know, Will. Faith and I, we've gotten so close since we moved here. I know most of you probably think it's kind of trippy given our past together, but once we got past it all, we just kind of . . . clicked. And it's great, cos we get along, and when everyone else is busy, the two of us can just hang out with Dawnie and it's comfortable, for lack of a better word."

"So, you kissed her because . . . it's comfortable?" Willow asked, not sure of Buffy's line of thought.

"Not exactly," Buffy said, shaking her head. "She really carries a lot of guilt about the past, understandably of course, and when she thought that it really was her fault that we're not together in this dimension if we're really supposed to be, I couldn't let her feel that guilt. She looked so sad, Wills. I just wanted to comfort her, and I went to give her a kiss on the head. But she looked up at me, and I looked into her eyes and I didn't even know that we'd kissed until I pulled back and closed my eyes."

"How did that feel for you?" Willow asked.

"I know I should say ‘weird' or ‘different', but it wasn't. It felt . . . I don't know; I guess it felt scarily normal." Buffy played nervously with her napkin, waiting for some type of response from her friend. Willow just smiled softly at her and urged her to continue, so she did. "Anyhow, I went inside, but I realized I'd left my jacket outside. When I went back out to get it, both the jacket and Faith were gone. I heard Faith from inside her house, so I walked in and found her trying to open a portal."

"She was trying to open a portal alone? Why? I don't get it." Willow asked, her brow furrowed in confusion.

"Yeah," Buffy replied evenly. "She said that she couldn't not know; that if we were together in other dimensions but she screwed it up in this one, she needed to know."

"Ohhhhh," Willow said. "I understand the need to know. I've often thought about what would happen if I hitched a ride on a portal or two; if I'd find myself with Kennedy, or Tara, or with anyone else for that fact."

Buffy nodded in understanding.

"I understood why she wanted to go, and I guess that's why I told her I'd go with her: I needed to know too. It's one thing if we had never seen it, but we had front row seats to the Buffy and Faith Grope Fest. If we're together in one dimension, it kinda makes you think about all the others. So, we went for it. Three dimensions, two positives on the Buffy/Faith front, one no-show, one dinosaur, and more monkeys than you could fit in a barrel," Buffy explained, then rested back in her chair awaiting Willow's reaction.

"Monkeys and dinosaurs?" Willow asked. At Buffy's nod, she said, "Oh my."

" ‘Oh my' is right," Buffy said with a loud sigh. "I never saw us in the second dimension, but I heard us. There was . . . moaning involved."

"Moaning? Oh, moaning," Willow said as a brief blush crept over her cheeks. "I guess we can conclude that the other Buffy and Faith's are certainly feisty."

"I thought the same thing at first. Maybe it was just a sex thing. I mean, it's understandable, I guess," Buffy explained. "There's no doubt that Faith is pretty. . ."

"Hot," Willow finished Buffy's thought.

"Right," Buffy admitted shyly, also blushing a bit. "I thought that if we hung around a bit, we'd see Faith do her ‘get some get gone' thing. But we stayed around after the feistiness and flirting in the third dimension, and . . . well . . . there was more to it."

"How so?" Willow asked gently, trying not to disturb Buffy's recollection of events.

Buffy smiled almost sadly as she answered,

"They were in love, Wills. So in love. They were just laying there on the couch together, holding each other. It's like they couldn't get close enough to one another."

"Aww," Willow cooed with a goofy smile.

"Yeah," Buffy said, looking down at her now lukewarm mug of coffee. "We both agreed then that it was enough. Too much. Whatever. So we came back home then, but not until after a visit with the other you -- who is also beaucoup with the witchy mojo, by the way. We couldn't exactly figure out how to come back to our own dimension, so we gave the other you a hypothetical situation."

"Ooh, I love hypotheticals," Willow said, still smiling.

"You told us that we needed to repeat our last intimate gesture, which was the kiss we shared. So, we went back to where we landed and . . . well, here we are," Buffy chuckled nervously.

"So there was more smoochage?"

"There was," Buffy said with a soft smile, remembering the soft feel of Faith's lips against her own. "But it didn't stop. We got back and we just kept kissing, and there were wows, but my head caught up with my body and I left."

"Just like that?" Willow asked, somewhat surprised.

"Yep, just like that. Faith told me I didn't have to go, but . . . more kissing would have led to ‘things' that I'm not sure I'm ready to deal with yet."

A few moments of silenced passed between them as the waiter came and left their bill, hoping to clear them out so that he could get new customers. When he finally walked away, Willow was the first to speak again.

"Yet. There's a yet. Do you think you want there to be dealing, and more ‘things' with Faith?"

Buffy sighed and put her head into her hands.

"I don't know, Wills. My mind is going a mile a minute. Faith and I are friends, you know? Great friends. We've never had that before, her and I. I know that I care about her. I know that seeing us together in the other dimensions didn't feel weird, and surprisingly, I didn't really feel wiggy when I saw it with my own eyes."

"So, could it be the B.G.S. then?" Willow asked.

"The Bee-Gees?" Buffy asked, confused.

"No, the B.G.S.," Willow chuckled. "Big Gay Stigma. You know; Big gay stigma, itty bitty Buffy. It can be overwhelming, I know from experience."

"No, that's not it at all. Hello, gay best friend, gay uncle. I practically march in the gay pride parade."

"I don't understand what the problem is then to be honest, Buff. If it's not weird and it feels almost natural to you, maybe you should talk to Faith about it." Willow said with a shrug.

"I know," Buffy said, running her hand through her ponytail. "She actually asked me out. I basically told her not right now."

Willow smiled knowingly.

"What are you waiting for then? It can't hurt to try."

"I also know that," Buffy said with a smile. "But the whole girl thing is completely new for me. I feel like I need to practice, or at least try it out before I decide to go on a date with Faith. I'm already comfortable with her, you know? So I might be so comfortable that I don't realize that I don't want to be with her in that way. Or I might be so comfortable that things go too good and I end up naked and tied to a bedpost while Faith posts pictures of my naughty bits on the internet."

"Oh Buffy," Willow laughed. "I don't think Faith knows how to use a computer. Besides, I doubt she'd leave you tied up for that long."

"That's comforting," Buffy said, trying to hide her smile.

They laughed together for a moment or two when Willow spoke again.

"So, what then . . . you want to go on a practice date? A practice date to see if you're into the ladies?"

"Maybe," Buffy said as she thought it over. "I HAVE had bad luck with the men-folk in my life." She paused for a moment, then continued. "Hey, you're gay, Willow," she said matter-of-factly.

"Yes, yes I am," Willow said with an eyebrow raised. "I'm also with Kennedy in this dimension."

Buffy laughed, "I know that, silly. What I mean is . . . you're gay, you have to know gay people. Any chance you can give me the big gay hook-up?"

"The big gay hook-up? I don't know, Buffy, that's a tough one. Okay, how about this: that girl behind the counter has been eying you up like a piece of chocolate cake since you walked in here, she's definitely pinging my gaydar. And hey, if it goes badly, we'll just never come back to this café again. Problem solved."

Buffy raised an eyebrow at Willow before turning around to see what Willow was talking about. Sure enough, the girl at the counter smiled at Buffy and offered her a small wave. Buffy smiled awkwardly in return and waved back before turning to Willow again.

"She's blonde," Buffy said, disappointed.

"If you're looking for a brunette, I know one that's probably available," Willow replied with a shrug.

"Who?" Buffy asked.

"Goes by the name of Faith. Is probably raiding your cupboards for snacks as we speak." Willow said, then held up her hands in surrender as Buffy offered her a slightly menacing glare. "Okay, okay, I give. No slaying of the best friend, please. The counter girl it is then. What's our next step?"

"I have a feeling this might not be my brightest and best of plans, but, Will . . ." Buffy took a deep breath and steeled herself, "would you talk to her for me? Make sure she's not evil or crazy?"

"Of course," Willow said with a goofy smile. She grabbed her nearly empty coffee mug and stood up, taking a quick walk to the counter to get a refill.

Buffy tried her best not to turn around and watch the interaction. Instead, she wanted to crawl under the table and hide. This was not how she had envisioned her dating/love life to go post-Sunnydale. She had expected dates. With men. Not sexual and emotional confusion over Faith as she got hooked up with the counter girl!

She was saved from her thoughts when Willow came back to the table and sat down bouncily.

"Her name is Maya. She's normal, and she was definitely making with the flirty gestures for you. She said she's free tonight and could pick you up at 6:00 if you'd like to go out with her. What do you think, Buffy?" Willow asked excitedly. "I think . . ." Buffy began and turned to look at Maya, giving the girl a quick wave and nervous smile before turning back to Willow, ". . . you need to take me shopping for an outfit for my date tonight."

Willow smiled, then looked over Buffy's shoulder and gave Maya a nod.

"I feel like my little girl is all grown up," Willow joked as she stood up and pulled Buffy up by her arm, ready to prepare her for her big date.

It was nearly 5:00pm by the time Buffy got home from her afternoon with Willow. She was in desperate need of a shower, and she needed to be fresh and ready for when Maya stopped by to pick her up.

She could explain things to Dawn tomorrow. For now, she would just say that she was going out with a new friend. Heck, dating girls could be easy if Buffy could pass them off as new friends.

Buffy's plan of evasion, however, hit a slight hitch when she walked into her living room with her shopping bags in hand to find Faith and Dawn feverishly playing a video game together.

"What's up, B?"

"Hey Buffy. Just in time. I'm about to show Faith how it's done the right way. Have a seat and prepared to be wowed by my gaming prowess," Dawn bragged.

"Yeah right, kid. Just wait til it's my turn, I'm gonna show ya who's on top," Faith replied as she tried to steal the controller out of Dawn's hand.

"Glad to see the two of you are having fun," Buffy said nervously. "I'd love to witness the smackdown, but . . . uhh, I have to hop in the shower."

"No probs, we're just getting started," Faith said as she gave up trying to steal the controller from Dawn and looked over to Buffy, giving her a once over. "Defo gonna say yes to the shower, but then get dressed and come hang with us. We've got a frozen pizza in the oven and the night's young. Besides, it's Kennedy's night for patrol."

Buffy tried to think of ways in which responding ‘no thanks, I have plans' could possibly end the conversation, but she knew it wouldn't. There would be questions, there would be answers, and there would possibly be laughing and taunting.

"Actually, I have plans," Buffy said, earning an immediate look from both Faith and Dawn. She put one hand on her hip and scoffed. "I do have a life outside of the two of you, you know."

"Uh huh," Dawn and Faith said at the same time, turning their attention back to the game.

"What?" Buffy asked with a confused look on her face.

"Defensiveness. That means there's a date," Dawn said casually.

"How could you possibly know that? I think the two of you are scheming against me," Buffy said. "Well, I'm not falling for it. I'll check on your pizza, and then I'm getting ready for my total lack of date."

At that, she turned around and walked into the kitchen, grabbing an oven mitt from the magnetic hanger on the refrigerator. Faith entered the room not more than thirty seconds later, placing her empty Pepsi can in the sink before opening the refrigerator to get another.

"So . . ." Faith began as she closed the fridge and hopped up on the counter, taking a seat and making herself comfortable, "a date, huh?"

"No," Buffy answered, trying to avoid Faith's gaze. "It's just . . . an experiment of sorts."

"Experiment? Like chemistry?" Faith asked before taking a sip of her Pepsi.

"I guess you could call it chemistry," Buffy said, unable to hide the small smile that appeared on her face at her own subtle joke. "I can assure you, it's like no date I've ever been on before."

Buffy turned to face Faith then and instantly saw a glimmer of hurt behind Faith's normally unflinchingly cool façade. She didn't want to hurt the girl, and for some reason, she felt like she couldn't keep anything from her either.

"Lunch was eventful," Buffy continued. "Willow and I did some talking, about things, and people…"

"About me?" Faith interrupted, a small grin on her face.

"You may have had a cameo in the conversation," Buffy said with a smile. "Well . . . you know how the Buffy thought-train works; it's not exactly on an even track. One minute Willow was asking me about my feelings for you, and then next thing you know she's hooking me up on a date with the counter girl."

Faith immediately raised her eyebrows, not quite believing what she'd just heard.

"You're going on a date with a girl?"

"Yep, and she'll be here in," Buffy looked down at her watch, "just about an hour. I really need to do a thorough de-stinking and get prettified."

Faith hopped down from the counter and stood in front of Buffy, stopping her from leaving the room. She clearly looked a bit frustrated.

"I don't get it, B," she said, placing her can on the small table. "I get that the girl thing is new for you, really, I do. But yunno what? It's new for me too. After what we saw in the other dimensions, I didn't even think twice about askin you out, cos I said . . . fuck it, if it's not meant to happen, we'll know it. And shit . . . yeah, it's scary and stuff. I ain't about to go out with another chick though just so I can see if going out with you feels right."

"Well, I'm sorry," Buffy said defensively. "Pardon me for wanting to maybe do a little bit of research on the subject. It's new for me, and yes, it is scary too. What if we don't click, Faith? Do I have to lose you as a friend then because of the things we've seen in the other dimensions?"

"There's your problem right there," Faith said, relaxing a bit. "You're thinkin too much. Stop using your head, go with what your gut's telling ya. What's it telling ya, B?"

"It's telling me that that pizza smells really good," Buffy answered quickly, earning a laugh from Faith. "And maybe . . . maybe it's telling me that I'm being scared and trying to play it safe."

Faith smiled softly at Buffy's confession, happy that the girl was finally being honest with her feelings and not trying to overanalyze. She decided to put all her eggs in one basket and go for it again.

"So go out with me, B. It's a date, not a marriage proposal. I've never done the date thing so I might screw it all up, but I'll try to get it right. And hey . . . we're already friends here, yunno? If it's not meant to be, we'll deal."

"Yeah?" Buffy asked, biting on her lower lip nervously.

"Of course," Faith answered, smiling one of her most confident smiles. "So . . . what do ya say?" She reached out and tentatively took one of Buffy's hands in hers, trying to be as charming as possible. It wasn't difficult.

"I think," Buffy began and paused for a moment before finishing, "you've got less than an hour to coach Dawn with an excuse to give Maya when she shows up at the door and we're not here."

Buffy grinned and gave Faith's hand a little squeeze before slipping around the girl and making her way out of the kitchen and up the stairs to the bathroom.

Faith couldn't help but grin all happy in response. She was going out on a date with Buffy.

A date. With Buffy. The two of them on a date. Together.

It was all a bit surreal.

Turning on her heel, Faith walked back towards the living room.

"So?" Dawn asked, pausing the game to look up at a still-smiling Faith.

"You get to break the news to the first-date reject. I'm goin home to get ready. Gots me a hot date."

Dawn merely shook her head and rolled her eyes before turning her attention back to the TV. A moment later, she heard the front door close and she heard Buffy humming happily from upstairs in the shower.

"Faith Lehane. Making straight girls question their sexuality since 1998," Dawn grumbled under her breath.

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