Previously on Walk The Line:
The door pushed in and three people entered the room, looking around casually. The two men – one in a suit and the other in a casual tan jacket – and the woman in the navy pant suit approached her desk and looked down at her.
"Miss Lehane, my name is Captain Jim Brass, Las Vegas Homicide, and this is Gil Grissom and Catherine Willows from the Crime Lab. Would you mind answering a few questions for us?"
Faith sank back in her chair and sighed.
No, things were never that easy.
Faith looked up at the investigators, a feeling of dread suddenly consuming her. Maybe Willow's magic had failed. Maybe her record wasn't as invisible as she'd been led to believe and they were coming to haul her back to Stockton.
Great, that was just what she needed. Being led off to a cop car in handcuffs? Not exactly a great way to impress the ladies.
Doing her best to avoid Buffy's nervous gaze, Faith sighed and gave in.
"Sure thing, officers," she answered, trying her best to appear as calm as ever.
"We're investing a double homicide that happened a few weeks back. Have you ever heard of Cinco de Mayo?" Brass asked, intently watching her face.
Faith sighed with relief on the inside. They weren't coming to lock her up. It had nothing to do with her past; it had to do with all of the strangely linked unexplained homicides that they were investigating. They were asking her about the killings in the alley the night Andrew went to pick up their food.
But what the hell did that have to do with her, and how the hell had they tracked her down?
"Yeah, good food. Gotta try their triple-decker taco with a side of hot sauce. It's killer."
"Killer," Catherine repeated as she stared at Faith, her eyes narrowing slightly.
"Wrong choice of word. My bad," Faith said, fidgeting ever-so-slightly. "But yeah, we get food from there now and again. Xander – the guy that let you guys in – he has a thing for spicy Mexican food."
"Your boyfriend?" Grissom asked casually.
"God no!" Faith said, unable to stop the way she sniggered. "He's just my bud. I'm actually . . ."
"With me," Buffy interrupted, her voice shaking almost unnoticeably. Faith quickly turned and looked at Buffy, but Buffy just smiled nervously and continued speaking to the investigators. "She's with me, actually. And we were together that night. I remember because Faith tried to get me to eat her triple-decker taco, but it was way too spicy for me and I ended up chugging like two bottles of Evian."
Faith's eyes were wide with disbelief as Buffy spoke. Buffy was claiming to be her girlfriend? She could ignore the comment about ‘eating her taco', because, well . . . Buffy was claiming to be her girlfriend.
Sure, it was just to get the investigators off of her back, but still . . . Buffy was claiming to be her girlfriend!
"You were together with her that night . . . Miss Summers, is it?" Catherine asked, her eyes still narrowed as she looked at Buffy.
"Yes, all night. I was in for a visit from LA, where I actually live. I remember it specifically."
Buffy was doing her best to cover for Faith. She didn't want the cops prying into her past, or accidentally discovering that she had a completely empty record. Prying would be bad. She had to stop them from digging around, even if it meant telling them a few little white lies.
"Then maybe you can explain why we found both of your footprints at the scene of the crime," Catherine said. "I don't need to run a comparative analysis to see that the Xelement boots your girlfriend is wearing are a size nine and a perfect match, though I'm sure I can get a warrant if I need to. And you? I'd guess that you're around a size 7 ½. Am I right?"
Buffy looked down at her size 7 ½ tan suede boots, then back up to Catherine with an intimidated look upon her face.
"I don't see what that has to do with us . . ."
"A witness saw a Black Ford Escape – the truck that's parked outside your house here, Miss Lehane – erratically speeding away from Cinco de Mayo after hitting another vehicle in the parking lot. A short while later, the same witness saw two young women matching your descriptions return to the scene of the crime," Grissom explained.
Buffy and Faith looked at one another, each waiting for the other to speak up and save the day. Neither of them could explain this away though.
As believable as a smoke-based demonic killer was to Buffy and Faith, people not in the know of the supernatural realm would definitely have a hard time believing that one.
Brass stepped forward, a somewhat condescending smile on his face.
"We'd like to ask the both of you to come down to the station to answer some more questions. I think we have some things we need to further discuss."
The feeling of dread deepened within Faith. Being taken in for questioning was not a good thing. They were going to delve into her record. They were going to find chunks missing. Things were going to get bad.
And Buffy was being dragged into it, not to mention the fact that Andrew, Dawn and Xander would probably be questioned soon as well.
Faith stood up from her chair, ready to leave with the investigators, when she realized that she needed a moment alone with Buffy and the others. It would be near impossible, but all she needed was two minutes.
"I just need two minutes before we leave to sort things out here. Can we meet you at the station?" she asked.
Brass chuckled quietly as he looked at Faith.
"If I got a dollar every time I heard that, I'd be a very rich man, Miss Lehane. We'll have our car escort you and Miss Summers, this way none of our wires get crossed."
Faith nodded. Of course she'd expected that.
"Fair enough. Still need those two minutes though." She turned to Buffy and looked directly in her eyes. "B, can you go upstairs and tell Andrew what's up? I'll talk to Xander and meet you outside in two."
Buffy nodded, understanding that Faith was up to something. She slipped between the unmoving investigators and went upstairs, hoping beyond hope that Faith would somehow let her know what was up.
"Xan? I need ya for a sec," Faith called out and Xander appeared at the door after a moment, looking as concerned as ever. "Excuse us for just a second," she said to the investigators, hoping they would clear out, even if only for thirty seconds. It was all she needed.
"Sure," Grissom said after a moment, watching her face carefully. He left the room first, followed by Brass and lastly by Catherine. As soon as they were gone, Faith sighed loudly.
"Anya!" she called, her voice barely above a whisper. A moment later, Anya was there in a shimmer of white light. Faith looked between her and Xander, her face serious. "Right, so they're takin' me and B in for questioning about those bodies in the alley the night Robin died. They've got our footprints and they think we're involved, ‘specially since they saw my truck driving away all recklessly when Andy sped outta there. Xander, I want you to get in B's car and take Andy and Dawn back to LA. If the investigators question Andy he's gonna fold like a lawnchair. Keep him far away from here until you get my call."
"No problem," Xander said and nodded, his arms crossed over his chest.
"Anya, get upstairs and tell Buffy the plan. Also tell her that we've gotta be on the same page when they question us. Tell her that Andy picked up the food and hit the other car by accident. He got scared and drove away, but we came back to see the damage. That's when we heard a noise and went to check out what was happening in the alley. We looked to see if we could help, then we had Andy call the cops to report it. Got it?"
"Yes," Anya responded nervously.
"Keep close by when we're at the station, An," Faith finished. "Might need you to talk to Buffy for me if they separate us."
Anya nodded and then shimmered out, just as Brass poked his head in the door.
"Everything okay in here?" he asked, being more nosey than concerned.
"Five by five," Faith answered as she grabbed her jacket from the coat rack and walked by him through the door. "Let's get this show on the road."
Brass waited in the front room for Buffy, who appeared down the stairs after a few moments. She smiled at him nervously as she walked by, trying very hard not to meet his gaze for too long. Brass smiled back, trying to read her as she walked quickly by him and out the door.
He turned back and smiled politely at Xander, who just stood silently with his arms crossed over his chest. After a moment, he turned around and walked through the door, leaving Xander standing there alone.
"Take care of my girls," he said under his breath, staring after the now closed door.
The interrogation room was cold and sterile and very much reminded Faith of places she'd seen between confessing in LA and being sentenced to prison. She knew she was being watched from behind the two-way mirror on the wall so she kept as calm and indifferent as possible.
She didn't know which room they'd put Buffy in, but her slayer senses let her know that she was nearby.
After roughly ten minutes of waiting, Catherine entered the room along with Brass and another male investigator. Brass rested back against the wall with his arms crossed over his chest while Catherine and the other investigator sat down at the table, a manila file in Catherine's hands.
"Miss Lehane, this is Nick Stokes. You've already met Catherine," Brass began.
"Stokes?" Faith asked, a grin on her face. When Stokes nodded, Faith laughed. "Right. Well, I'm stoked to meet you."
"Likewise, I'm sure," Stokes responded, unable to hide his own smile. He always did have a soft spot for pretty girls. "Now Miss Lehane, would you care to give us your version of the events of the night in question?"
"Sure," Faith said easily. "My girl B . . . Buffy, right? . . . she was in town for a visit with her kid sister. We were all workin' on my new place, fixin it up and whatnot, and we got hungry. So we ordered some food and Andy, one of my roommates, went to pick it up. It's a new truck though and he wasn't used to drivin it, so he accidentally hit that other car in the lot. Kid panicked, that's the only thing I can tell ya. Took off like a bat outta hell and came and confessed it to me. Me and B checked out my truck, then we went back to see if we could find the other car, exchange insurance with the owner, whatever. That's when we heard something in the alley."
"Two girls, all alone in a dark parking lot. What did you think you could do if you found something bad?" Catherine asked, her face skeptical.
"Not really sure. All I know is, we heard a noise and we went to check it out. Human nature I guess."
"And then what happened?" Stokes asked, cutting Catherine off from asking any more argumentative questions.
"Well, we walked over to the alley, trying to keep pretty quiet. I know the Strip itself is a pretty safe place, but I've heard some pretty scary stories about crime in the other areas of Las Vegas," Buffy explained, telling her version of events to Grissom and another investigator, Sara Sidle.
"What kind of a sound was it?" Grissom asked, watching her intently.
"I guess it was just a kind of . . . shuffling maybe? It sounded like someone was walking around. I can't really be sure."
"And what did you see when you finally approached the alley?"
Buffy took a deep and shaky breath.
"A moving van. Two bodies laying in a pool of blood," she said quietly, her eyes fixed on some random spot in the distance. "Lots and lots of blood."
"Did you see anyone else? Anyone near the bodies or in the alley?" Sidle asked, her pen tapping the table.
"No. No I didn't," Buffy answered. "It was dark, and I couldn't believe what I was seeing."
"Did you call for help?" Grissom asked.
"No, I just ran over and checked to see if the guy closest to me was alive," Faith answered. "I mean . . . he didn't look good, yunno? And there was blood everywhere. I thought maybe I could help . . . do some CPR or something. It was too late for him though, he was already dead."
Her eyes were focused on the table, recalling events as best as she could without incriminating her or Buffy.
"And what about Buffy; what was she doing when you were checking him?" Catherine asked.
Faith shook her head and looked up.
"I dunno. I think she was checkin' on the other guy. I just couldn't take my eyes off the guy in front of me though. His head was like . . . bashed in. It was wicked gross."
Catherine continued to regard Faith with a skeptical look upon her face. There was no way that Faith wasn't involved in some way or form, she thought. Her story was plausible, but she was hiding something. She knew something more but wasn't spilling, and Catherine needed her to if she was going to stop the senseless and violent string of killings.
"And that's when you called the police?" she asked, hoping to trip Faith up in a lie.
"No, we didn't call the police," Buffy answered Grissom's question. At the slight arch of his eyebrow, she continued. "I mean, we were going to, but then Faith's phone rang so that kind of stopped us. It was Andrew, checking in to see if we'd found the driver of the other vehicle. We told him what we stumbled upon and he begged us to get out of there before the killer came back."
"That explains why the 911 call didn't come from her cell phone," Sidle said quietly to Grissom, who nodded in agreement.
Buffy looked back and forth between the two of them when she realized something.
"Are you telling me that you checked her cell phone records before you even brought her in for questioning?" she asked, surprised.
"It's customary for us to run a license plate check when a vehicle leaves the scene of an accident. Our witness caught the plate number on Miss Lehane's truck, and of course we ran it to see who the truck belonged to. That's when things took . . . an interesting turn."
"What do you mean?" Buffy asked nervously.
"Are you aware that your record is completely clear, Miss Lehane?" Catherine asked, a smirk playing across her lips.
"Clear is good, right?" Faith asked casually.
"Yeah, but yours is exceptionally clear. No criminal record, but not much of a personal record either. It starts with a fingerprinting you had done when you were six years old as part of a neighborhood safety program, and then it jumps to a few weeks back when you got a cell phone and purchased your vehicle and registered it. I'd say that's quite a gap in time."
Faith nearly lost her cool façade then. So Willow's mojo had worked a little too well apparently. It was too good to be true, she knew that when Willow and Giles first offered it to her.
And now she was stuck.
"Can't explain that one to ya," Faith said. "Left Boston when I was sixteen and traveled around a lot. Stayed in California for a bit, that's where I met B, and moved here on a whim thinking that it'd be chock full of new opportunities for me. And besides, who doesn't love gambling and legal prostitution?"
The room remained quiet, no one enjoying her attempt at humor.
"I guess we just find it a little bit too much of a coincidence that this girl with no record and a mysterious past pops up in Vegas, stumbles upon a crime scene, and doesn't even stick around long enough to call the cops herself. There are too many loose ends," Stokes said, trying to ease the tension in the room.
"And I get that, I do," Faith said. "But you're barking up the wrong tree, I'm telling ya. Check with the restaurant, we ordered food from there that night and Andy picked it up. He hit the car, sure, but that doesn't make him or us murderers. We were in the wrong place at the wrong time, but I'm happy to help in any way that I can. Seriously, gimme like a magnifying glass and some zip-lock bags and I'll help ya look for clues myself."
Brass chuckled from his spot against the wall. Catherine looked back at him and they shared a few glances with one another before she turned back and faced Faith.
"You came down here voluntarily and that's a plus. We're gonna need to speak with this Andy to get his story too."
"That might be a problem. He went back to L.A. with Buffy's sister. Dawn's not exactly a legal driver yet and she needed to get back home for school or work or somethin'. I'll give ya his number though; I'm sure he won't mind going through a bit of Q & A."
"If your story checks with your girlfriend's and we can corroborate Andy's story with yours, we have no legal reason to keep you here. But I will tell you this much, Miss Lehane," Catherine said and leaned in closer, narrowing her eyes as she looked at Faith, "we match any bloody fingerprints to the ones we have from when you were six, I will bring you back here and lock you up myself. You're not telling us something."
"You've got the whole story," Faith said, not backing down under Catherine's intense glare.
"We'll see about that as soon as the reports come back from forensics. Until then, I'm going to have to ask you not to leave Las Vegas. We'll be keeping an eye on you and Miss Summers in the meanwhile. I'd tread very carefully, Miss Lehane."
Catherine got up from her seat and exited the room with Brass following after her, leaving only Stokes and Faith in the room together.
"I'm beginning to think that she doesn't like me," Faith joked as she slumped back in her chair.
"Who, Catherine? I wouldn't take it personally, she just takes our job very seriously. Just stay in the area, alright? We've got data being processed through the labs as we speak and we'll be in contact when we get some results."
"Right," Faith said. She stood up and cracked her back, then looked down at Stokes. "I can leave now, right?"
Stokes looked out the open door and saw Grissom and Catherine speaking together in hushed tones. When Grissom looked over and gave him a little nod, he looked back to Faith.
"You're free to leave. We'll be in touch."
"Can't wait!" Faith said feigning excitement.
She walked out of the stuffy room and found Buffy waiting for her in the hallway looking as anxious as ever. As casually as possible, she walked over to her and grabbed her hand, then led her down the hall and to the front of the building where a deputy was waiting to take them back home.
The Last re-entered the upstairs bathroom at Faith's with as much ease as when he'd left. When the trail of black smoke was fully in the room he took his human form, stretching with a pleased grin on his face.
"Time to collect, my babies."
He caressed the amulet on his chest and held out his hands waiting for his essences to return to him. After a few moments passed and nothing happened, he frowned and gently caressed the amulet again.
Still, nothing happened. Obviously a bit annoyed and confused, he took his smoke form and crept under the bathroom door, slithering throughout the house and looking for everyone that he infected. They should have been there, consumed with indulgence and brimming with sin for him to steal.
But the house was empty and bags had been packed and taken. They'd somehow found a way to override his magic, and that was just unacceptable.
Stopping once he'd reached the living room, he took his human form again, a look of anger on his face. He took one last look around the downstairs rooms before walking into Faith's office, trying to read the energies in there.
"No, this won't do at all," he seethed.
Buffy entered the house first, followed by Faith who slammed the door shut behind her.
"Shit!" Faith exclaimed, running her hands through her hair.
"Faith, calm down. It's not as bad as it seems."
It was the first chance they'd had to discuss anything. They couldn't openly speak with the deputy driving them home, and despite the fact that they were inside the house now, the deputy's car was still parked just down the street.
"Not as bad as it seems?" Faith repeated excitedly. "B, I dunno how much they told you, but my record is pretty much a blank slate. Put me at the scene of the crime – which they have – and I'm the primary suspect!"
"They wouldn't have let you go if they'd thought you really did it," Buffy said, trying to soothe her.
"Maybe they don't think I did it, but they know I know something. That bitch in the interrogation told me that much. They're gonna dig and dig and I'm gonna end up back behind bars."
"Faith, calm down," Buffy tried again, putting a comforting hand on Faith's forearm. "They have nothing to go on. We're going to wait patiently for them to make calls to Andrew and to get their reports back from forensics, and then we're going to get on with our lives. Besides our footprints they have nothing but speculation, and that isn't enough to send us to jail."
"Says the girl without a criminal past," Faith snapped, then sighed. "Listen, I'm sorry. I don't mean to be a big giant freak right now but I can't help it; I'm freakin. You're probably right . . ."
"I'm what?" Buffy asked, a playful smile on her face.
Faith looked over at her and caught on, unable to stop the chuckle that escaped her.
"I said you're probably right, B. Mark it on your calendar, whatever. It ain't likely to happen again."
"This is true. You know what that means, of course."
"What?" Faith asked, confused.
"It means we have to celebrate. We're alone in the house, we're being investigated in a double homicide, and I still haven't seen all the sights and sounds of Vegas. You're taking me out," Buffy said sternly.
And honestly, it didn't take that much to convince Faith that it was a good idea. If she had to sit around the house and wait for the call, she'd go crazy and end up taking Buffy with her.
"A night out on the town before I get arrested and hauled off to the clink? Yeah, I can handle that, B. Cops have my cell number, they'll call if they need us, I guess."
"Great. I'm gonna go upstairs and get ready, I won't be long at all."
Buffy turned around and began to skip up the steps but slowed down as something dawned on her. She turned around and walked down the steps, looking around the front room.
"Problem?" Faith asked, watching her curiously.
"If Xander forgetting to unpack my bags from the car before they left constitutes a problem, yes."
Faith laughed and headed towards the stairs, beckoning Buffy after her.
"You can borrow whatever you need from my room, B."
Buffy just stayed where she was though, looking a bit hesitant. When Faith noticed she was walking upstairs alone, she turned and faced Buffy an eyebrow raised in question
"Not that I'm not appreciative of the offer and all, but I think that you and I have had enough bedroom fun together."
And it was true, too. But they were back to their normal senses with very clear ideas of what they were and weren't supposed to be doing with one another now.
Bedroom fun? That was a bad idea. Or at least it was easier to think that it was.
With an easy smile on her face, Faith stepped down the last two steps and stood before Buffy.
"I get it, B. It was easy to blame it on the Lust before, but now you're afraid you're gonna have nothing to blame it on. I'm irresistible. Totally get why you're afraid to be near the nice big bed with me."
Giving Buffy a wink, she turned on her heel and went up the stairs. Buffy watched her go, then quickly followed after her, rising to the unsaid challenge.
"You're so wrong. And you're also the cockiest person I've ever met!"
Buffy sat fidgeting in the passenger seat of Faith's truck, adjusting the shirt that kept riding up and showing her navel. Of course she knew that she had the body to pull it off but she didn't quite have the confidence. Rather, she didn't have as much confidence as Faith did.
"Quit fidgeting, B, you look hot in my shirt."
"It's way too small. How do you even fit in this thing?"
"Very carefully," Faith replied, grinning. She kept her eyes on the road in front of her but kept stealing quick glances at Buffy out of the corner of her eye.
As inconspicuously as possible, Buffy lifted the front collar of the shirt and sniffed it, her brow instantly furrowing.
"This smells like you," she said, taking another quick whiff.
"Yeah, think I wore it a couple days ago. Don't worry though, it's basically clean."
"Oh great!" Buffy scoffed. "Not only am I wearing a dirty shirt but you wouldn't let me use your deodorant either."
"Gotta draw the line somewhere, B. I'm a firm believer in keeping your pit sweat to yourself."
"Fine, fine," Buffy said with a grimace. "But you're the one who has to face the consequences if I start to get ripe. In fact," she said and casually lifted her arms up, interlocking her fingers behind her head, "I'm starting to feel a bit moist."
Faith laughed and cracked a window open, letting some fresh air in.
"Maybe you were right about bedroom fun. Can't even let you in my room to get changed without ya gettin' all moist on me." At Buffy's playful glare, Faith changed the subject. "So where are we goin any way? Gotta tell me some general direction to head in."
"I'm open to suggestions, but I heard that there's a shopping center in the Aladdin that's a mile long. In a circle!"
Faith's smile immediately fell.
"B, you don't come to Vegas to shop. They have shopping in LA."
"Would you care to educate me on proper Vegas tourism then?" Buffy asked, mocking Faith. "You tell me where we should be going if you're the expert."
Just then, a small chirping sound filled the inside of the car. Faith turned down the radio and grabbed her cell phone from her pocket, flicking it open with ease. She grinned as she read the message.
"Strip club it is," she said as she closed her phone and tucked it back inside her pocket, not sparing Buffy a glance.
The music in the club was loud but not as loud as the sound of Buffy's own heart beating loudly in her ears. She was never one to label herself as prude, but she still couldn't get over the fact that Faith had brought her to a place like this.
A strip club!
A strip club full of half-naked ladies!
She could've been happy going to see the Australian all-male dance review at New York New York, but a strip club? Oh no. This she was not quite okay with. The only naked female she'd ever seen besides herself was Faith, and she was still dealing with that whole thing as it was.
"I can't believe you brought me here!" she said in a loud whisper, clinging tightly to Faith's elbow. A dancer walked by and winked at Buffy, making her grip onto Faith's arm all the tighter.
"Calm down, B, we're not actually staying. Camryn got some new info, told me to stop by when I could. We'll be outta here in ten minutes tops and then you can make me shop or do whatever touristy thing ya want."
Faith looked from Buffy out into the club, searching for Camryn amongst the crowd. Buffy looked from the crowd to Faith, a look of disbelief on her face.
"Wait, the same Camryn who helped you find Jil'hanesh and who makes with the friendly calls? She works here?"
"Yup, all five feet and seven inches of her. That a problem?"
"No, no," Buffy covered quickly. "Are you two . . .?"
"Nah, it's innocent enough, least on my part. She's hurtin' for some flirtin', but you know me; always on my best behavior."
"Somehow that fails to comfort me," Buffy said under her breath, watching the patrons of the club over her shoulder. Suddenly she realized that they weren't walking any longer and she looked up to find Faith staring down at her.
"Is this what jealous-Buffy looks like? I mean it's cute and all, but totally not needed seein' as that you're only pretending to be my girl and all," Faith said, amused. She wasn't sure why Buffy was acting like Camryn was some type of competition. Yes, Camryn was hot and obviously into Faith, but there wasn't supposed to be a competition. Buffy was a whole bowl full of wholesome straightness, at least until lust took over.
"This is not jealous-Buffy, this is inquisitive-Buffy. There's a subtle yet noticeable difference. I just didn't know that you, umm, hang out in places like this. Not that I'm judging! It's just that, well, after hearing about your past boyfriends, I didn't think that . . . I mean, well . . . maybe it should've been obvious, but . . ."
"B? Take a breath," Faith said, looking back at Buffy. "I've only been here once, and that was with Xander to find Jil-hanesh. Our little escapade into sexual deviance was my first in a long, long time, got it?"
"So you're not . . ?" Buffy began, waiting for Faith to fill in the blank.
Was she seriously inquiring about Faith's sexuality?
Faith, however, wasn't ready to fill in the blanks. Not when she didn't know how to categorize herself in the first place. Luckily for her, that's when she spotted Camryn approaching them with a knowing smile on her face.
"Hey Faith. Long time no see," she began, flirty but trying to respect Faith's boundaries especially given her company.
"Yeah, things have been a bit busy. Got your text and decided to head on over since we were out and about anyhow," Faith said casually, trying hard as she could not to check Camryn out, especially not with Buffy keenly observing their conversation.
"And this is?" Camryn asked, smiling at Buffy.
"Probably really awkward for her," Faith said with a grin. "Cam, this is B, and she's a strip-club virgin. I told her we'd go easy on her being her first time and all."
"So no bringing her up on stage then," Camryn said as she held her hand out to Buffy with a polite smile.
"Not unless you'd like to explain my limp and lifeless body to the club-goers," Buffy said as she politely shook Camryn's hand. "I'm Buffy, and I apologize in advance for any generally wiggyness. I tend to become weird and awkward in situations where clothing is strategically removed for entertainment purposes."
"Duly noted," Camryn said, laughing quietly. "We'll make this as quick and as painless for you as possible. I got an odd call a little while ago. Friend of yours," she said, addressing Faith now.
"Xander?" Faith asked, confused. "I knew he copied your number down when he found it on my desk. Horndog, that guy."
"No, not Xander. Jil-hanesh. He's long gone from here but he saw something and he wanted to give a warning. Said I'd know how to contact you."
"What's up?" Faith asked, her face serious now.
"He saw what happened to you with the cops today before it even happened. They think it's you, but they're about to change their minds."
"I didn't do shit!" Faith defended herself.
"I know, and I believe you. I can feel it. Doesn't matter what I think, though, and doesn't matter what they think either. While you were being questioned, The Last went back to your place. You were all supposed to be infected, that's what Jil said anyhow. Needless to say, The Last wasn't happy to find out that you circumvented him."
‘Circumvented?' Buffy thought. Since when did strippers use words like that? She'd need to start brushing up on her vocabulary if she was going to keep up.
"What happened?" Faith asked, her tone dark and dangerous.
Camryn paused, looking into Faith's eyes for a few moments before continuing.
"He infected some construction workers. Wrath. Cops are at the crime scene now. You were at the questioning and an unmarked car has been following you since. They know you weren't involved."
Faith clenched her jaw tightly, looking from Camryn out to some spot in the club.
"Faith, it wasn't your fault. If you and your friends hadn't been saved, we would have absolutely zero hope of beating this thing. You can't save everyone, but you offer hope. That's the best thing according to Jil," she said softly, trying to bring Faith down from her rage.
"Still feel like a fuckin failure though," Faith said, her voice low.
Buffy unconsciously gripped Faith's bicep a little tighter, giving it a comforting squeeze.
"You're not. Faith, do you remember how I told you that I'm observant? Well, it's true, but there's more. I can read people, sense their feelings. I can sense whether someone is good or bad just by looking at them. I can't explain it, but it's something I've always been able to do. And from the moment that I met you, I knew you were gonna do great things. It's just a feeling; there are no visions to prove it, but I've never been wrong. This battle isn't over."
Faith's cell phone began to ring then, interrupting the awkward and painful moment. Faith looked down at the small phone and then back up at Camryn, a wry smile on her face.
"Tell that to the people that died, Cam. Uh, listen, I'm gonna run outside and take this really quick; kinda loud in here."
Not giving Buffy the chance to follow her, Faith quickly made her way toward the exit, pushing the phone to one ear and covering her other ear with her free hand. Buffy just watched her go, no longer feeling awkward. She mainly just felt bad for Faith.
"So you're her," Camryn said rather than asked, grabbing Buffy's attention.
"I'm who?" Buffy asked, pointing to her chest.
"Hot blonde, suppressed anger. You're the one she thinks hates her," Camryn said, watching Buffy's face.
Buffy's eyebrows furrowed together, a confused look upon her face. Faith had talked to Camryn about her before? And if she did, why had she said such things?
"What? I don't hate her. That's ridiculous, I . . ."
"Hey," Camryn interrupted, holding her hands up in surrender, "didn't say I believe it; it's what she believes. First time I met her she told me that the only hot blonde she was interested in came with a side of suppressed anger and hate directed right at her. I just put the pieces together."
"But that's stupid," Buffy said, crossing her arms over her chest. "Faith and I don't have the best track record but I definitely don't hate her. She's way off."
"I'm not the one that you should be telling that to," Camryn said, smiling gently. "Girl has some serious self-confidence issues despite the bravado. Most of that is coming from the fact that she thinks you hate her, and well . . . she definitely doesn't hate you."
Camryn tried to keep the knowing smile off of her face, but with the way that Buffy was looking at her – like she was completely crazy – it was hard to hide.
"How do you know all of this? And what do you mean?" Buffy asked quickly, still confused and now more than a bit anxious.
"Like I told Faith, my powers of observation are off the chart. And besides, I can just feel it. She's doing everything she can do to be the kind of person that you'll lo……well, not hate," Camryn explained, quickly correcting herself.
"But I already don't hate her," Buffy said quietly. "I mean, it's . . . it's complicated. Faith and I always have complications – it's very complicatey stuff -- but I think we're getting better at . . ."
"Like I said: don't tell me, tell her." Camryn nodded to the right and Buffy looked over, watching as Faith approached them.
Faith walked up, instantly noting the change in Buffy's demeanor. The girl looked worried and sad, and not at all like the embarrassed and frightened mess that she was when Faith left to answer her phone.
"Everything okay here?" At Buffy's nod, Faith continued. "That was Xander. Cops called and talked to Andy, got his version of the story. Xan said he did a real good job and only cried like a baby for like two minutes."
"So he's toughening up then," Buffy said sarcastically.
"Like a sponge," Faith said, watching as Buffy looked down and avoided her gaze. When she looked over at Camryn, the girl offered her a small smile and shook her head ‘no' so that Faith wouldn't get into it there. "Right, so ah, anything else I need to know or do, Cam?"
"Just keep your head low, Faith. The cops are gonna wrap up their investigation soon. All you have to do is wait it out and play the part for the cop that's following you. In the meanwhile, watch your back. The Last is gonna have one hell of a personal vendetta against you."
"Right, so add one more person to the list of people who hate me and wanna kill me. What else is new?"
Buffy looked up as Faith spoke, her own inner turmoil clear on her face. Faith looked at her and narrowed her eyes, trying to read her.
"You ready to go then, B? Think I had a brainfart and promised you we could shop or something."
Buffy gave a small smile in response, nodding her head.
"Yeah, let's go." She turned at looked at Camryn, offering her the same small smile. "Nice meeting you."
"Likewise," Camryn said and then looked over to Faith. "Be careful."
Buffy and Faith began to make their way toward the exit. When a few patrons of the club got in Buffy's way and gave her a few catcalls, she just wrapped her arms tighter around herself and kept her head down, not clinging to Faith the way that she had before.
Faith walked slowly along with her hands buried deep in her pockets, trying to figure out what the hell had happened to make Buffy so uncomfortably quiet. They'd been in the shopping loop at The Aladdin for nearly an hour now. Buffy had barely stepped into two stores, her earlier enthusiasm for shopping seemingly lost.
She didn't know if maybe Camryn had said something to upset Buffy, but she had to find out. Shit, she knew she shouldn't have taken Buffy into the club with her!
"You're unusually quiet," Faith said, trying to sound casual.
Buffy shrugged, looking down at the tiled floor as they walked slowly along.
"Just thinking I guess."
Faith just nodded in response, hoping that Buffy would continue. After several more minutes of continued silence, Faith tried again.
"Don't worry B, Cam said this is all gonna be over soon. All we gotta do is wait it out and then you can get back to your life."
"Mmhmm," Buffy agreed with a small nod. "She seems nice. Camryn, I mean."
Faith shrugged, not giving it too much thought. "Yeah, she's not bad. Can always use more allies."
A few more minutes of silence went by as they walked along, looking into shop windows as they passed. Faith waited for Buffy to do or say something to indicate that she was okay. She didn't of course, so Faith had to try a new tactic. She walked in front of Buffy and spun around so that she was facing her, walking backwards. Buffy looked up, puzzled by Faith's sudden appearance before her.
"Here I let you drag me shoppin' and you're not even enjoying yourself. What, you need me to play tour guide? Do a few tricks? I can juggle, yunno," Faith said, a playful grin on her face.
Buffy smiled, watching as Faith narrowly avoided stumbling over a trash bin.
"I'm enjoying myself. Now walk normally again, you're gonna hurt yourself."
"Impossible. Do ya realize how thick my skull is? I'd probably break the floor."
"…you're probably right," Buffy said with a quiet laugh.
"Probably am. So come on, B, what do I gotta do to get ya back to being your fun self?" Faith was temporarily distracted as she looked over Buffy's shoulder and saw that they were being followed by the cop from earlier. "Coppers at twelve o'clock."
Buffy furrowed her brow.
"My 12 o'clock or your 12 o'clock?"
"What?" Faith asked, confused now. She lifted her arm and pointed, "He's right there, B."
Buffy quickly smacked Faith's arm down, hoping that she hadn't drawn attention to them. Clasping her hand around Faith's, she tugged her over so that they were walking side-by-side again.
"I know Camryn said that they're gonna find out we're innocent but we need to play the part for now. Now, be my doting girlfriend and buy me something," Buffy said, her hand still clasped around Faith's.
Faith slipped her hand from Buffy's and instead laced their fingers together, sighing as she realized that Buffy was right. "Fine, but I hate shopping. If we're pretending that you're my girl, we're gonna do it right."
Buffy smiled despite the way she was feeling; in spite of what Camryn had told her. She should feel weird, walking through a public place holding hands with Faith. She'd held hands with Willow on several occasions, but this felt different, especially with the way they'd been intimate earlier.
"What did you have in mind?"
"Twenty-two people stuffed into a small box is your idea of a date?" Buffy asked, trying her best to keep from touching the other people in the crowded elevator.
"You sure are picky for this being a pretend date," Faith replied. "Least it got us away from the tail for awhile, and besides, you can use a little culture."
Buffy raised an eyebrow and just glared at Faith.
"I hardly call going to the top of a fake Eiffel Tower in the middle of the Vegas strip culture. And what do you mean I can use some culture? I have culture! I have culture coming out of the wazoo! I lived in Italy, remember?"
"For like a month," Faith quipped, ignoring Buffy's playful glare.
She'd brought her to Paris simply because it was next to The Aladdin and because she could get Buffy up and away from the cop that was tailing them for a while. It wasn't her best plan. The top of the small replica tower was packed with tourists trying to snap pictures of the strip all lit up at night. Buffy spent most of her time up there cramped in a small corner between viewing machines, trying to fend off a pushy vendor who was trying to sell her a beret.
They'd spent less time up there than the tickets were worth, but at least they'd had a moment to chill out without worrying who was watching them and what they should be doing as a pretend couple.
As the large metal doors opened, Buffy and Faith practically ran out of the cramped elevator and back down the stairs to the casino floor. Buffy walked over to what was one of the legs of the tower that protruded onto the gaming floor and rested back against it, taking a deep breath.
"No more enclosed spaces," she said evenly.
"You'd be surprised how much waking up in a coffin can alter your view of small spaces."
A few moments of silence passed by as both girls just relaxed. Faith looked over towards one of the restaurants and chuckled quietly.
"Looks like our cop got hungry. He's having a snack at the restaurant. Bet he didn't even see us get off the elevator. We could ditch him if you want . . ."
"That's a bad idea if I've ever heard one," Buffy interrupted. "Just a few more hours ‘til they call him off, I'm sure."
"True. How bout I get us some certified French cuisine? That'll pass some time, and besides, I could eat a fuckin horse right about now." At Buffy's nod, Faith brightened right up. "Wicked. I'll go and get the grub and you meet me at that little table over there," she said, pointing to a small patio area just outside of the restaurant within the casino."
Buffy didn't end up waiting long. After about five minutes Faith showed up with two big cups full of French fries and about a hundred packets of ketchup.
"This is your idea of French food?" Buffy said, laughing as she helped Faith take the two cups from her hands.
"Hey, I can go back and get the rabbit and frog if you want?" Faith pointed over her shoulder with her thumb, indicating the restaurant she'd just come out of.
"Mmm, French fries," Buffy said, quickly changing her tune.
"That's what I thought," Faith grumbled.
They ate in a comfortable silence, Faith dousing her fries with ketchup and Buffy watching with amusement. Contrary to what Faith thought, Buffy did not agree that ketchup made everything taste better. The fries were good on their own, and she didn't dare try to steal one of Faith's ketchup packets. The chaos that would ensue was so not worth it.
When all was said and done they got up from the table and walked aimlessly around the casino, just trying to pass the time.
"So on a scale of one to ten, is this the best fake-date ya ever had or what?" Faith asked, elbowing Buffy playfully.
"Meh," Buffy said with a shrug of her shoulders. "You promised me culture, and honestly? I don't feel very French."
Faith stopped walking and grinned. She was hoping Buffy would say that. She reached into her back pocket, pulling out some type of black fabric. She unrolled it and straightened it out before putting it on Buffy's head and adjusting it properly.
Buffy nearly snorted with laughter when she saw that it was a beret. Faith must've bought it from the vendor at the top of the tower.
"Oh, well this changes everything!" Buffy said, straightening her hair with her fingertips so that it didn't hang in her eyes.
"There," Faith said, making the final adjustment. "Now you're the Frenchiest person here."
"Frenchiest? I think you made that up," Buffy said, feeling very much like a child being fussed over by its mother in public.
"Totally didn't. I'm probably the smartest person you'll ever meet, B. All that time ya wasted hating me when ya coulda been learning from me. It's a good thing you're finally coming around now though," Faith said jokingly.
But something hit Buffy then. That word again: hate. She'd tried to ignore it after Camryn had said something, but there was no more letting it slide. She couldn't just let it be this time.
"Why do you think I hate you?" she suddenly asked, her smile gone.
"What?" Faith asked, her smile slipping as she met Buffy's eyes.
"Camryn said that you think I hate you. I just . . . I guess I want to know why."
She tried to keep looking into Faith's eyes but Faith went back to adjusting Buffy's beret, looking everywhere but at Buffy's imploring eyes.
"Cos something like that just doesn't go away," Faith said with a shrug. "The way I fucked you over . . . I know you hated me; hell, I hated me too. Feelings that strong don't just go away. They simmer."
"There's no simmering," Buffy said, still trying to look into Faith's eyes. "I told you, this is a fresh start, a do-over. But I need to know what it is I'm doing that makes you think I hate you. I mean . . . I have some changing to do too, Faith, and I thought I was doing really well, but . . ."
"Don't drive yourself crazy over it, B; it's nothing you're doing. It's just . . . shit like that can't be under rug swept, yunno?" She finally met Buffy's eyes again, trying her best to hide her own pain. Her fingers lightly pulled at pieces of Buffy's hair, moving them to the sides of her face.
"But maybe a big vacuum came and sucked it all up, took it all away. Voila! No more issues, no more mess."
Faith exhaled softly through her nose as she laughed silently, her warm breath caressing Buffy's face. When had they gotten so close?
"That's why you're the Chosen One, B; you couldn't be a better person if you tried."
"I'm trying very hard, actually," Buffy said quietly, looking down.
Faith, however, moved her fingertips under Buffy's chin and made her look back up so their eyes met again. Several moments of silence passed between them before their lips met softly, neither girl sure who'd moved in and initiated the kiss. They kissed tentatively, lips just barely brushing against each others. Faith's hand moved to Buffy's cheek, tracing it gently with her thumb.
Buffy moaned softly against Faith's lips, floored by the unexpected but appreciated gentle caress.
The kiss, however, was ended shortly at the sound of Faith's cell phone ringing. Faith exhaled through her nose and pulled away, closing her eyes as she lifted the phone to her ear.
"Miss Lehane, this is Detective Jim Brass. We've had some new evidence come in on top of a new case. The gist of it tells us that you and Miss Summers clearly can't be indicted in the events that happened. We won't be bothering you any further."
"Good to know," Faith said, finally opening her eyes to find Buffy staring at her in wonder.
"If you remember anything from the night in question, anything at all . . ."
"Yeah, I've got your number," Faith said, unable to look away from Buffy. "Later, chief."
She clicked her phone shut and shook her head as if to break the spell she was under. Looking down as she tucked the phone back in her pocket, she said,
"Looks like you were right; we're free men or whatever. You can call Xander, tell him he can come back whenever. Bringing Andy is optional, of course."
Buffy finally looked away from Faith's face and down at her silver watch, checking out the time. It was after 10:00pm already; by the time she called Xander and they got back, it would be so late.
Besides, she needed some time to deal with what just happened between her and Faith again.
They'd kissed. There was no outside influence, no lust tugging at them. It was just them and their feelings, and now they'd be left to deal with it yet again.
"It's pretty late. I'll call and tell them to come in the morning. There's no use making them drive here this late. That is, of course, if you don't mind me staying one more night."
"Can stay as long as ya want, B. Ya know that already."
Faith casually looked around the casino, perking up when she saw the cop that was tailing them retreat toward the exit.
"Looks like we can call it quits on the pretend date now," she said, watching him leave.
"Oh. Right," Buffy agreed, following Faith's line of sight.
"Ya mind if we call it a night, B? It's been a long day, we can probably use some rest."
"Yeah, sure," Buffy answered, all too aware of the change in Faith since they'd kissed again.
Faith was avoiding, and even more, she was trying to convince herself that it was just something casual. After all, why would Buffy let her kiss her if it wasn't for the cop following them?
Whatever, Faith thought. She wanted to get home and go to bed so that the next day would come already. Today was just too damned weird and confusing.
They didn't say much on the way back to Faith's place. Faith had turned the music up a little bit too loud for any casual conversation to take place. She was done talking for now; they'd done enough talking already.
Buffy kept stealing inconspicuous gazes at Faith out of the corner of her eye, trying to read her, but it was impossible. Some kind of mask had been slipped on, some kind of wall had gone up; and the worst part was that Buffy didn't want it there. They'd hid behind masks and walls for most of the time that they'd known one another.
Right when they were finally being honest with one another, BAM! Back to square one.
Faith pulled the truck into the parking spot nearest the house and quickly got out, making her way toward the front door. Buffy followed slowly, allowing Faith ample space. The last thing she needed was some kind of knock-down drag-out fight. She just wanted things to be easy.
By the time she walked in the front door, Faith was already walking out of the kitchen with a tall glass of juice in her hand.
"Plenty more where this came from if ya want some," Faith said, nodding towards the kitchen. "Think Andy made it fresh this morning; some kinda strawberry peach banana concoction. I dunno, but whatever the hell it is, it's good."
"Yeah, maybe I'll have some in the morning. Think I'm just gonna . . . head up. Like you said, long day."
Faith took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, nodding her head.
"Yeah, I get that. Well, sleep tight, holler if ya need anything or whatever. Just gonna chill and finish my juice. I'll be up in a bit."
"Faith drinking a glass of juice and going to bed before midnight. Never thought I'd see the day," Buffy said with a smile.
Faith smiled and laughed softly, looking down at the floor before looking up at Buffy kinda shyly.
"Yunno me, B. Don't like to be too predictable."
Buffy just smiled at her, their gazes locking for a few moments too long, before shaking her head slightly and walking toward the stairs.
Faith watched her retreat up the stairs, finally whispering ‘Night B' when she was out of sight. She flopped down on the couch after a moment or two, just taking some time to chill out in the mostly darkened room. The sound of the water running in the bathroom upstairs let her know that Buffy was getting ready for bed, and that was a good thing. She'd wait for a little while and then go up to her own room.
They'd had enough odd encounters already.
After about five minutes passed, Faith heard the sound of soft footsteps on the stairs. She opened her eyes and looked over to find Buffy standing there looking a bit shy.
"Actually, I'm pajama-less. Xander took my bag and I don't have anything to sleep in. Could I borrow a t-shirt or something?"
"Yeah, sure," Faith said.
She stood up and finished off her glass of juice, then quickly put it in the kitchen before coming back to the living room to find Buffy still waiting for her. She gave her a quick smile and then headed upstairs, Buffy in tow the whole time.
Now, she wasn't sure exactly what Buffy was hoping for in a t-shirt. All of hers were short and tight just like the one she'd borrowed earlier and was still wearing. Buffy had seen that firsthand as Faith had rummaged through her dresser and closet earlier that evening.
Still, she rummaged further and deeper in the drawers, hoping to find a stashed concert t-shirt or something that could pass as a night shirt.
"A-ha!" she said as she stood up straight, clutching a Beastie Boys t-shirt in her hands. She spun around to find Buffy surprisingly close to her. Hadn't she been waiting at the door a moment ago? "Found one."
"Thanks," Buffy said quietly, accepting the proffered shirt. She looked down at it, then tossed it over onto the bed and looked back up at Faith. She gazed into her eyes, the small table lamp barely illuminating Faith's face.
Buffy didn't need light though. The dim light of the moon from the window was enough for her to be able to look into Faith's eyes and so much deeper. She tentatively lifted her hand to Faith's face, her fingertips trembling as she traced them gently over her cheek.
Faith's lips parted almost unnoticeably as she stared at Buffy, trying to figure out exactly what she was doing. This wasn't some kind of gesture shared between friends; this was something more. Buffy took that opportunity to brush her thumb over Faith's full bottom lip, noticing the shaky breath that Faith took as she did so.
"B? What . . .?"
"Shh," Buffy replied softly.
Looking into Faith's eyes once again, she leaned up on her tip-toes and softly brushed her lips over Faith's as her hand continued to caress her cheek. She ran her other hand down Faith's right arm, pulling it around her lower back so that Faith was holding her.
Faith sighed shakily, finally giving into the sensations that Buffy was making her feel; had always made her feel.
Outside, The Last watched through the window with an evil grin.
Faith awoke to the feel of fingertips moving gently along her back from between her shoulder blades, down to her butt, and back up. The touch was tentative, like Buffy wasn't trying to wake her but just needed to touch her.
She lifted her head on the pillow and moved it so that she was resting on her other cheek, facing Buffy. Buffy smiled shyly at her, fully clothed now, her eyes going back to watching her fingertips move along Faith's back.
"Kinda tickles," Faith said, her voice low and raspy.
"Sorry," Buffy whispered but made no efforts to stop.
"Mmm," Faith mumbled appreciatively, closing her eyes once again.
They stayed like that for a few minutes, completely silent until Faith spoke again.
"So when are you leaving?" Faith asked, a hint of defeat in her voice.
Buffy smiled sadly but didn't stop her gentle caresses.
"Soon. Xander and Andrew are nearly here."
"Ahh," Faith said. She rolled over onto her back and stretched languidly, hurting in all the right places. "It's been a while and all, but I thought I was the one about gettin' some and gettin' gone."
She looked over at Buffy, smiling so that Buffy knew she wasn't angry.
"I'm not getting gone, not really anyhow. I . . . I have to get back to LA. Dawn is there, and Willow is flying in later today. Giles still needs a hand with research and Dawn and I need to start looking into schools for her . . ."
"Chill, B, I get it. Life is in LA. It's cool," Faith said easily.
"It doesn't mean that I don't . . ."
"Hey, no need to explain," Faith interrupted. She didn't want to hear excuses, especially when she knew that Buffy had a barrel of good ones.
"But I do need to explain," Buffy began as she scooted closer, "because I don't want you to think that I think last night was a mistake or something. It wasn't any weird magic either."
"Yeah?" Faith asked. "What was it then?"
Because honestly, she didn't know.
Buffy laid her hand on Faith's stomach, her fingertips softly caressing her skin as she looked up at Faith's face.
"It was us. I felt you, Faith. For the first time in years, I just felt you; no bullshit, no drama. It was just us."
"Yeah," Faith said, tentatively putting her hand over Buffy's. "But the big bad world awaits and it's time to be heroes again."
"Right," Buffy agreed, nodding somewhat sadly.
"We're cool then, right?" Faith asked, trying to look into Buffy's eyes again.
Buffy looked up, smiling gently as she nodded, "Yeah, we're cool."
Faith wanted to kiss Buffy. She wanted to seal the deal, make it known that they were okay with everything that had happened, but then she heard the sound of keys jangling as Andrew and Xander made their way up the front sidewalk.
"So what now?" Faith asked.
"We research, we give you the info, and you kill the bad guy," Buffy answered easily.
Faith looked down, a look of doubt upon her face.
"I don't know if I can."
Buffy smiled and stood up from the bed, adjusting her clothing as she looked down at Faith.
Faith looked up and found Buffy's smile and assurance unwavering. She smiled finally and Buffy winked at her before walking out of the door, greeting Xander and Andrew in the living room downstairs.
Rolling onto her side and grabbing the pillow Buffy was resting on, Faith pulled it up to her chest and buried her face in it, closing her eyes.
"No weird magic this time around, but I'm definitely under your spell, B."
Back to Episode Selection
Home ||| Buffy Fics ||| Non-Buffy Fics ||| Other Authors ||| Site Updates ||| Update Alerts