No, I didn’t actually think that they would go away just because I closed the door. I mean, sure . . . I was hoping it would work. But B’s friends are, unfortunately for me, a bit smarter than hamsters. When they hit a wall in the maze, they just keep banging their big thick-skulled heads against it ‘til they poke a hole through it.
Not literally, of course. That would just be weird. But you get what I mean.
I just barely sit my ass back down before the buzzing starts again.
“Geez, Slayer. Get off your ass and open the door. Are you seriously this deficient?” Cordy yells from the bathroom, the shower water now turned off.
“Faith, we know you’re in there.”
Well, duh. I hear Anya trying to be quiet and discrete. It doesn’t work for her.
“Slide some money under the door, Xander. Tell her there will be even more for her if she opens the door.”
Cha-ching. Maybe I should hold out for a bit longer.
Then again . . . between the voices, the banging, and the buzzing, I finally start to cave. I swear to god, these people will make me go schizo yet. I groan loudly enough for them all to hear before hopping off the couch and stomping my way to the door. And just to prove how annoyed I am . . . I kick one of Cordy’s sneakers across the room, not even flinching as it crashes into the front door with a loud thud. As hoped for, it made everyone quiet down. They’re probably afraid I’m about to freak out on them.
And this, my friends, is a perfect example of how to throw a temper-tantrum.
Putting on a big, overly sweet smile, I open the door and hold it open for Xander and Anya to walk in. They eye me suspiciously before passing by, glancing at me over their shoulders.
“Welcome to La Casa Cordelia. Please take off your shoes and keep your hands to your sides at all times.” I say in a big dramatic voice, kinda like I head that one tour-guide chick do at the Grand Canyon once.
It’s kinda funny as I watch Anya slide off her shoes with a smile on her face, looking all around the place with interest, like it’s a fucking museum. I chuckle to myself and plop back down on the couch, anxiously flipping through the channels.
After a few moments of some pretty awkward silence, Xander finally sits down on the chair opposite me and leans forward with his elbows on his knees, looking right at me. I try not to let his gaze bother me, cos I know I’m likely to break under pressure. This will be easier if I just start things off.
“So . . . what’s up, Xan? Taking a long weekend to see the sights in big LA?” I ask as if I really had no clue why he was there.
“Yeah, I was just about to ask you the same thing, Faith. You know, it’s not exactly travel season yet. Besides . . . LA? I always pictured you going somewhere more . . . exotic.” He’s still staring at me. There’s no doubt he knows about everything that happened between me and B at this point. He’s got on that ‘concerned friend’ face.
“This is just a pit-stop for me, Xan-man. Thought I’d visit a friend while I was passing through. But I’ll be heading out soon. Don’t wanna cramp anyone’s style here.”
It’s true. As cool as Cordy is, I’d never put her off by crashing with her like this for too long. Another day or so and I’m gonna head out and go to . . . well, I haven’t quite got the ‘where’ figured out yet.
Before Xander can respond, I hear a little offended scoff that can only becoming from the Queen herself.
“Two days? That’s not even near enough time for me to give you all of the Cordelia therapy that you need.”
I give her a little smile before I say quietly, “I don’t need therapy, C. Not the kind you’re willing to give.” I waggle my eyebrows at her a little for good measure. That’s just about when I feel my head being smacked from behind.
“You’re not supposed to be having any kind of therapy or sexual healing, unless it’s the kind that comes from your girlfriend. Buffy. Remember her? About 5’3, pouty, likes to kill stuff..” She puts emphasis on the word ‘girlfriend’ and gives Cordy an evil glare. Cordy just glares at her back.
And Xander, well . . . he just looks nervous and uncomfortable. Not only did he used to date Cordy, not only is he dating Anya now, but he also had a roll in the sack with me. Every single one of the three people in his life that ever saw his unit, all here in one room. I probably would have paid more attention to him and the little nervous gestures he was making if I hadn’t been distracted by the evil glares being passed between Cordy and Anya. I stand up, putting myself between them. Just to be safe.
Besides . . . having a little sandwich action between the two of them could be just the distraction that I’m looking for. A smirk creeps up on my face at the though, but I fight it back as I give Anya a serious look.
“Buffy’s not my girlfriend, An.” And now everyone is looking at me.
“But . . . I saw you with the touchy and the feely in the kitchen. And there were the moon eyes, and . . . and . . . the sex smell! You both smelled like sex. Sex with each other.” She says with a little pout, then nods as if she’s made a valid point.
“Yeah, the sex.” Xander agrees, nodding his head and standing up. “That was going on for awhile. There has to be some kind of girlfriend-liness that’s associated with that.”
I look at him, furrowing my eyebrows. I’m kinda confused here.
“Wait . . . are you tryin’ to tell me that you knew all along?” I ask.
He gives me a guilty little nod before taking a deep breath.
“We all kinda knew, Faith. Even Willow and Giles. It’s not easy to hide that kinda thing. Despite what you may believe, we’re smarter than your average hamster.”
My eyes fall to the floor as I run over what he just said over and over. I’m feeling like the biggest asshole right now. I mean . . . I know that B and me weren’t exactly discreet all of the time. There was more than one occasion where we had to tear away from each other as someone walked into the room during one of our make-out sessions. But you know what’s bothering me the most? If they knew, and they’re such good friends with B, why didn’t they say anything about it? They coulda saved so much time and heartache. They had to see that it was hard for me and B to pretend that there was nothin’ going on.
I shake my head a bit, raising my eyes back up at Xander who is now standing next to Anya with his arm around her back. They’re both staring at me, trying to read my facial expressions.
“Why didn’t you say anything then?” I ask quietly. I need to know. Is it me? Was it because they didn’t want me with her?
Xander shrugs, looking to Anya for help.
“It wasn’t our news to tell. The Buffster was going through a lot of changes in her life . . . she still is. She needs to come to terms with it on her own, and then tell everyone when she’s comfortable with it herself. It’s a big step, Faith, admitting that she’s in a hot and steamy lesbian relationship with another slayer, and on top of that, that she’s head-over-heels crazy in love. You can’t force something like that out of a person.”
I sigh dramatically, rubbing my eyes with my fingertips.
“Fuck, Xan . . . that was the problem though. She was too afraid to tell anyone. Ashamed even. If she had known that you guys knew and supported her . . . shit, things coulda ended a lot different then they way they are now.”
I walk back over to the couch and plop down in the middle, just disgusted with the whole situation. To think that this whole thing coulda been avoided . . . just makes me feel sick.
“Things don’t have to end this way.” He says, sitting down to my one side.
“Yes they do.” I respond. “She’s better off without me; she can have her perfect little life with the meathead she’s ‘dating’. Besides . . . she’d never able to admit that she loves me in front of her friends. Her precious reputation would be tainted.”
That came out a bit more sarcastic and bitter than I had intended. Oops.
He shakes his head. “You obviously don’t know her as well as you think you do.” I look up into his eyes and he continues.
“I get this call in the middle of the night from Willow, telling me that I needed to come to her and Buffy’s room. I’m thinking . . . ‘hey, party at the dorm’. I grab the appropriate offering of chips and pretzels from my cupboard, pick up Anya, and head off for what I’m thinking is gonna be a fun time filled with ha-ha’s and hearty chuckles. We get there and I find Willow holding the Buffster as she lay crying on her bed. Right away, I think the worst . . . she’s hurt, or her Mom is hurt, or . . . just bad stuff. I run over, ready to lay my pathetic little life down on the line just to defend her existence. She’s so choked up with sobs that all she can say is your name.”
I keep my eyes trained on the floor as he talks, trying to avoid moving at all. See, I knew that picking up and leaving like that would hurt B, but the up-side to that was that I didn’t have to deal with the aftereffects. I know that seems harsh. It is. But had I just have broken it off with her and hung around in SunnyD, I woulda been back at her side in the matter of hours. Leaving was my only option.
Xander keeps telling me his little story, and I can feel his gaze burning into me. Man, this kid can be serious when he wants to be.
“When I heard her say your name . . . I can’t even explain, Faith. I thought the bad of all bads had happened. I didn’t know what to do. I knew something like that would kill Buffy, even if she wanted to play all Denial-Girl about the two of you. Before I had the chance to really freak out, Will cut in and told me that you had left. Just . . . up and out the door with your bags tossed over your shoulder. That’s the point when Buffy was able to stop crying long enough to look up at me with her big green eyes and say the words you doubt she’d ever be able to say.”
He stands up and starts pacing the room.
Does this mean what I think it means?
“What are you saying, Xan?” I ask, keeping my head tilted down but looking up at him with my eyes. I can feel the tears burning in my throat.
“Have you not been listening to any of this conversation?” Anya asks, turning to face me on the couch. “She told him that she loves you. She said it in front of all of us. I’m not into vengeance anymore Faith, but . . . your wish was granted. Buffy told her friends that she loves you, and then she cried her eyes out all night long.”
I’m still having a hard time believing that she actually told her friends about it. It seems so . . . surreal. Fuck, they know I’m with Buffy, and they’re not trying to stab me or anything right now. But that brings me to another point. What exactly are they doing here?
“So, what’s up? You here to drag me back, kicking and screaming?” I ask, lifting my head up and trying to stare Xander down. I can be scary when I need to.
“Actually, yeah,” Xander replies with a crooked smile. Then he gets a serious look on his face. “Buffy told me she loves you. Then she asked me to help her; to get you back. And that’s what I’m here to do. I know I don’t look like much to you, Faith, but I’ll do anything for my friends. Even if that involves getting squished by an angry Slayer in combat boots.”
Awkward silence fills the room.
Fuck, I don’t know about all this. How can I justify going back? Xander can pull and drag me all he wants, but I’ll pull his lip over his head and make him swallow. If I go back, it’s not cos of him. I think over it for a few moments. As much as I love B, I can’t see me going back just because she’s upset.
I can’t do it.
I lower my eyes and shake my head, yet again trying to act as unaffected as possible. My voice comes out as a quiet mumble.
“What’s done is done. It’s too far gone, Xan. I’ll always have Buffy’s back, but . . . I can’t go back for any other reason right now. I can’t justify that in my own mind.”
He steps forward and stands right in front of me by the couch, his arms hanging at his sides. His eyes plea with mine as he stoops down and rests his hand on mine.
“Then justify it in your heart.”
I hold his gaze for a minute before looking away, moving my hand from under his, crossing my arms across my chest. That’s my final answer.
And he knows. He can tell that I’m not gonna budge.
“Fine,” he states, defeated. “Come on, Anya. Let’s go.”
Anya stands up and grabs his hand, letting him lead her away towards the door. Just before he’s about to lead her out, her cell phone rings. She hands it to him to answer, telling him it’s Willow’s phone as she puts on her shoes that she so kindly took off earlier.
“Hey Wills . . . yeah, it’s a no-go . . . I tried . . . yeah, I know. We’ll be hopping back on the freeway in about 10 minutes, so we’ll be back in a few . . . wait, what?? What do you mean? . . . How did he . . . is she . . . are you taking her to the hospital? . . . okay, stay where you are, we’ll be back as soon as humanly possible.” And he hangs up.
He turns to face the door to walk out and comes face to face with me.
I’m not an idiot. I know who he was talking about. Something happened to B.
“What happened?” My voice is low and . . . I’ll be damned if it didn’t just tremble a bit when I said that.
“It’s not your concern, Faith. We’ll send you a letter or something.”
Yunno . . . he picks the wrong times to get smart with me.v “Xander!” Cordelia scolds.
“What?” He responds, annoyed.
“Hey.” Anya pipes up as she takes a step towards Cordy. “Xander is MY boyfriend. Only I can say his name like that. I’ll ask you nicely to refrain from using such tones, and then I’ll have to star pulling hair.”
Cordy chuckles and steps forward. “Do your worst. It’s been awhile since I’ve gotten to kick some ass.”
A small smile cracks up on Xander’s lips before he steps between them, puffing his chest up all manly.
“Ladies, ladies. You can both yell at me.”
I’d like to tell you I got to see a girly-fight and know how it all ended, but I don’t. While they were all wrapped up in the moment, I grabbed Xander’s keys from the table and made my way down to his car.
Not my concern? Yeah fucking right. Buffy’s hurt, and . . . I can’t help but feel guilty. This is my fault. And I have to make it better.
I’m on a guilt-trip to Sunnyhell.
I dunno how long it took me to get to SunnyD, but it definitely didn’t take as long as it did on that damn bus. It’s weird to think that less than 24-hours ago, I was on a bus running away from there, and now I’m running back like a scared little girl.
I’m pretty much panicking at this point. I don’t know what happened, but I know it’s bad. I can feel it. I wasn’t about to wait around and ask Xander during that little show of hormones a while back. Besides, I couldn’t take his shit at that moment. Something is wrong with B, and I have to help. Or fix it. Or do something. I can’t just sit and let her . . . fuck, I don’t even wanna think about it.
I drive through Sunnydale, scoping the usual place for the remaining Scoobs. The dorm, B’s house, Xander’s house, Giles’ apartment . . . hell, I even checked out the Bronze. No sign of anyone. Frustrated, I drive back to my old apartment and decide to start calling around.
As I approach the building, I feel a slow tingle running through me. It’s the Slayer bond. B’s in my apartment. I pull the car over as quick as I can, leaving it running as I leap out and leave the door open.
The front door flies off of its hinges as I push it open and bound up the stairs three at a time. I was nervous before, but now the anxiety of not knowing what I’m walking into here is killing me.
When I get up to my floor, I’m surprised to find Willow there, waiting for me.
“Hey.” She says, looking like she’s trying to quiet and calm me down.
“Hey.” I respond back, stopping right in front of her while I try to even out my breathing. I look into her eyes and then glance over her shoulder before looking back at her. I feel like I can’t bring myself to say the words and ask what happened. “So, you knew I was coming?”
She nods, her face serious.
“Xander called and told me about the slight case of grand-theft auto. You’re lucky you didn’t get pulled over, Faith. You could’ve got into lotsa trouble. You don’t even have a license.”
“Yeah, yeah.” I say, motioning my hands for her to speed it along. She can save the lectures for later. I never really listen to them anyways.
“We decided to leave the dorm and go back to Buffy’s house. She just wanted to be somewhere quiet. It was the middle of the day, so we really weren’t really on full alert. That, and, she had been so upset that I don’t think she was really in full Slayer-mode. We just get about half-way across the quad by the bike path and we come face-to face with Spike.”
“Spike?” That name is familiar. “William the Bloody?”
She nods her head.
She nods again.
“In broad daylight?”
She nods and starts to fiddle nervously with her hands.
“He found a gem that basically makes him impervious when he wears it. We thought it was just a myth, so we never even knew it was a threat to us. Heck, we didn’t even know he was back in town from the last time he ran scared. Anyhow, that’s how he was able to be out in daylight. He caught us off-guard . . . Buffy tried to fight, but . . . he had the upper-hand.”
I nod my head, hoping that she’ll let up for a minute. I need to breathe this all in. My eyebrows are furrowed so tight that I’m sure they’re gonna stay like that permanently. She continues softly, laying her hand on my forearm to comfort me.
“I think she’s got some broken ribs . . . he kicked her pretty hard. Her lip is busted open, but it stopped bleeding. She’s got bruises all over, but I think they’re already starting to heal a bit. And, don’t freak out . . . he . . . he bit her.” My eyes go all big as my breath catches in my throat.
“He didn’t turn her, and he didn’t get near to draining her, but . . . she’s weak. And she’s still crying. She’s really upset, Faith.”
I want to scream. I want to cry. I want to punch the wall. I want to tear down the walls of this apartment building and howl in fury. I’m itching because I’m so conflicted here . . . I don’t know what to do.
Maybe Red can sense my internal conflict, cos she’s touching my arm again and trying to get me to look up at her.
Cautiously, I raise my anger-filled eyes back up to hers and wait for whatever she’s about to throw my way. This is partly my fault. Fuck, it’s all my fault. If I hadn’t left, none of this shit woulda happened. I’m guilt-ridden.
“Fix it.” Red whispers, nodding her head very slightly in the direction of the door.
I can’t respond. I just nod my head and walk slowly toward the door to my apartment. I will the tears to stay back, but my throat is burning from them now. I can taste them. It’s taking all my power to keep from crying out in anger, frustration, and hurt.
Tentatively, I walk into the apartment and look around. There’s a dim light coming from my bedroom. Our bedroom. The room I shared with B. I take slow and quiet steps, so scared to come face to face with her in the state she’s in. If I suffer from one thing, it’s pride. I never let the people I care about get hurt. B coulda died cos of my negligence and stupidity. Not only is my pride hurt . . . but so is my heart.
Gently, I push the bedroom door open just a bit more so I can walk through. My heart jumps up into my throat as I see B laying there, all bandaged and bruised and bloodied. My jaw clenches and I take a deep breath through my nose . . . I’m swallowing back so many raw feelings right now.
She must’ve heard my breathing cos her eyes suddenly open and move to mine. Her bottom lip trembles and her eyes well up with fresh tears.
I close the distance between us and sit on the edge of the bed next to her, giving her a small smile as I bring the bottom of my shirt up to her face to wipe away her tears.
“Hey.” I whisper, trying to sound as calm as possible.
“Hey.” She answers back with a low rasp. It only takes a minute for her to start crying more forcefully. “I’m so sorry,” she whimpers as she leans her bruised face into my hand, closing her eyes and letting the tears roll down the sides of her face and into her hair.
“Shhhh,” I whisper, moving my other hand so that I’m holding her face gently, rubbing my thumbs over her cheeks to brush away her tears. “You have nothing to be sorry for. I’m sorry . . . for leaving like that. I never shoulda . . . shit, I’m just sorry, Buffy.”
She opens her eyes and nods her head a little, moving her head to the side to kiss the palm of my right hand.
Just when I think that my anger has melted away . . . that I just want to sit here and comfort her and make her better . . . I see the bandage on her neck pull back as a trickle of blood escapes down her neck and onto the pillow.
I grab the damp cloth from the bedside table and wipe it away, clenching my jaw to hold back my seething anger. No one does this to someone I love and gets away with it. Fuck it . . . I’ve been so stupid. B is my girl. No one is ever gonna touch her again.
Slowly, I lean down and brush my lips against her forehead before standing up from the bed.
“Wait . . . why . . . please don’t leave me.” She pleads, holding onto my hand as I try to move away.
No, I’m not leaving you, B. Never again. I kneel down next to the bed, keeping my one hand in hers as my other comes to brush the hair away from her face.
“I’m not leaving you, baby. I’ll be back, I promise. I . . . I have to make things right. This never shoulda happened, B. I’ve gotta set things right before I can make things better . . . before we can make ‘us’ better.”
She nods her head, understanding fully what I have to do. As much as she may not like it, she knows there’s no way she can stop me from what I have to do.
“Faith, please . . . be careful . . . he’s almost unbeatable, and he’s so strong . . . please be careful, I . . . I can’t lose you again. I love you.” She manages out between tears.
I give her a little nod and lean down to give her a soft kiss on her bruised lips. I pull back and keep eye contact with her for just a moment before standing up and kissing the top of her hand, finally pulling away from her as I walk towards the door.
Thank god I left most of my weapons behind. I reach into my weapons cabinet in the living room and pull out a stake, a hunting knife, and a small hand-axe. I tuck them into my leather jacket before making my way into the hallway, passing Red along the way.
“Faith? What’s going on?”
I keep my eyes pointed forward, determination washing over me.
“Time to set things right,” I mumble as I start to bound down the stairs, twirling my stake in my hand.
Nothing’s gonna stop me now.
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