Disclaimer: The characters of BtVS are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy,
Sandollar Productions, Kuzui Enterprises, 20th Century Fox Television and the UPN Television
Network. This is fan fiction, and is only for fun.
Date: 080402 - 080702
Spoilers: Mid Season Six and beyond: then I jumped ship.
Note #1: Willow didn’t go all Witchy, Tara didn’t leave (and no ISSUES with Warren concerning Tara either) Xander did not ditch Anya at the alter; he talked to her a few days before like a good boy and they postponed the wedding. So Anya – not a demon. Giles did not run off to England, he stayed. Buffy and Spike did – ew. But Buffy is trying to kick that habit. Faith was in jail, and now she isn’t.
Note #2: italics are for thoughts and / or dreams.
Dedications: BD, m, & M.
Mesmerism ~dead can dance Brave your heart Renounce your fears Locked away inside All these years Remain in light Renounce your fears For you have been Mesmerized Break this spell of silence
mes·mer·ism n. 1. A strong or spellbinding appeal; fascination.
“I can’t go.” Buffy’s muffled voice said from beneath her white down comforter, which was at the moment pulled over her head.
“Um, okay, but why?” Willow asked as she sat on the side of the Slayer’s bed. The brass frame creaked slightly when she sat.
“I’m sick?” Buffy offered. But she sounded less than sure.
“I am sick.”
“Buff, I really hate to be the one to point this out to you, but heh, you’re the Slayer remember, Slayer healing, therefore you don’t get sick.” Willow said, pulling down the blanket, to see the mangled blonde hair on top of the Slayer’s head, and her wide hazel eyes blinking at Willow in the sun filled room.
“Damn, really?” She grinned lightly. “Can I say then that I just don’t wanna?”
“Why not? This is a big day.”
“Oh, a huge day, a day that I have been terrified of for years. Can we just, you know, pretend like it isn’t here?” Buffy pulled at the blanket, trying desperately to hide again.
“There is nothing to be afraid of you know Buffy.”
“Nothing!” She scoffed, even more muffled.
“Do you have Mr. Gordo in there.”
“Maybe I do.”
“Buffy Anne Summers, you are twenty-one years old, why would this scare you?”
“Did you get hit with a stupid stick Wills?” Buffy asked, sitting up and throwing her blankets away. “I mean is this really even you? Are you an alien instead of my Willow?”
“No Buffy, it’s me.” Willow picked up the electric alarm clock from the bedside table. “Look at the time.” She held it out to the Slayer. It was showing them both that it was nearly ten in the morning. On this morning, which meant that she needed to be ready in an hour, which would take a miracle, this was after all Buffy Summers.
“I can’t! You should so be against this, you know, not in here giving me a hard time!”
“Buffy what in the world are you still doing in bed?” Tara asked as she leaned on the doorframe, crossing her arms. “I thought we talked about this last night.” She said softly to the Slayer.
“And what did we decide?”
“That today would be a good, thing, that I was glad this was happening. Well you know what, Tara? I lied!” Buffy fell back on the bed.
“Come on Willow.” Tara sighed, and Buffy felt the bed rise as her best friend stood up. “If she wants to stay in bed that’s fine. We know where to send her up.”
“Good idea, we can let her get Buffy out of bed.” Willow agreed, and Buffy peeked out from behind the blanket.
“You aren’t serious are you?” She squeaked.
“Of course. If you want to stay here, well then we will just let her come up and find out why you refused to be ready to see her.” Tara offered with a shrug of her shoulders.
“I am getting no sympathy from you two am I?” Buffy pouted.
“I think that is a strong no from the Wicca camp.” Willow grinned.
“She is really coming?” Buffy asked as she slipped out of the bed.
“Buffy she is really coming.” Willow offered.
“Here.” She pulled on her robe over her sushi pajamas.
“In an hour.” Tara added.
“Oh God!” Buffy rushed from the room, and the girls felt the house shift as the bathroom door slammed.
“You think she’s nervous about seeing Faith?” Tara asked with a grin.
“Hmm. Not sure.” Willow smiled back and the two went back down stairs to the others.
The water pounded down on her head as she stood there, frozen, with a soapy puff in one hand, her other on her stomach. She wasn’t sure she could do this. Sure they had all talked about it for months, once they knew for sure it was going to happen, they talked about all the reasons she shouldn’t come back to Sunnydale, and then all the reasons she should. Though through all of those talks with her friends, Buffy never confessed to being scared out of her mind when it came to Faith.
It wasn’t fear of pay back, it wasn’t fear of revenge. It was fear of loosing herself. Whenever she looked into those deep brown eyes she felt her resolve, her rules and her structure crumble away. Faith reduced her to a primal beast. Granted not with the grunting, or the defecating – ew – in the streets. More like she just forgot the Buffy Summers everyone expected, the pastel wearing, sweet-talking blonde girl. She became darker, she became harder, she became the Slayer. And Buffy Summers liked it.
A whole lot of tears that no one saw, a whole lot of screams no one heard. And that was the way it was going to stay too. No one needed to know that I fell, and fell hard into that pit, that land of self-pity and self-hate, and darkness. It was my memory to carry, and there was no way I was ever going to let them see any of it. So put on the cocky grin, add the strut to my hips, and I was the old Faith. The one without a care in the world. The one they remembered and hated.
I could do this. I mean, she wanted this right? She asked for it. In the letters, reading between the words, the black ink on the paper I had seen it happening, I had seen her resolve slipping, and I could see that she did want to try this again. And hey, if she was willing, then so was I. Who was I to kid myself, thinking I needed no one. It was all a bunch of bullshit anyway. I had always needed somebody, somebody who got me, who would understand a silent pause, who would get the lost look in my eyes. B was the one person on this whole planet who would get me. I know that now, and I wasn’t going to run from it. ‘Cause she knew it now too. She had accepted, that for some reason there were two of us, two Slayers, and no one but a Slayer would ever totally get another Slayer.
We had been writing for months now, each letter getting a little more personal, a little deeper. Sure they started out normal, typical. With the “how are yous” and the “sorry I tried to kill everyone you loved”. But then they changed. I knew it, and she knew it. That was why she asked me to come. When I got out, when I was free of that place with the bars and the hunters, she wanted me to come. To try again, to start again. To be friends.
So I was here. And I was strong. I was Faith. And I would give them all what they came to expect. The attitude, the leather, the mouth, and the anger. Even if I didn’t feel like her anymore.
She could hear them all, down the stairs. It was a wonder that they all seemed to forget that with everything else she classified as “Slayerish” they seemed to forget the hearing that went along with that. Maybe they chose to forget, maybe it was one of the many things they forgot when thinking about her as just Buffy. It was certainly what they were thinking and talking about now, the woman, the girl, Buffy. Not the Slayer.
She crossed her arms looking into her closet, trying to decide what to wear, trying to block out the sounds of them from below, and block out the sounds inside of her head.
“This is the right thing to do? Right?” Willow asked Giles as he stood under the arch separating the foyer from the living room. He calmly tapped the ear of his glasses on his bottom teeth, giving her a slight grin.
“If this wasn’t what she wanted, I doubt any of us could have forced her to do this Willow.” He said gently.
“I know, but, and don’t get me wrong here, I was all for the letter writing and the forgiveness and the moving past it all, I was there for that speech, heck,” she looked at Tara and winked, “I even helped write that speech.”
“So what’s the problem then, Wills?” Xander asked from the corner of the couch.
He seemed at ease, which surprised Tara as she sat on the white wooden chair beside the writing desk, out of the way, unassuming, but in a position that gave her a view of everyone in the room. She liked this place, this seat. And not just literally, but in the dynamic of the group. She was thankful that everyone had listened to her, though in the beginning, months ago, when Angel had written to her, to ask her to help with getting the Scooby group to reaccept Faith into their ranks, she had not believed that it could be done. Not even with her gentle hints and coaxing, and even some smoochie blackmailing of Willow. It had seemed like a lost cause. That was until she convinced Buffy to write Faith. That was all she wanted the blonde Slayer to do. To write Faith, to open up a channel of dialogue. It had worked, and Tara had sat back and watched it unfold before her, watched the relationship grow between the Slayers, and then she began working on the others. She had thought that Xander would have been the hardest to convince, with their past, indiscretion. But in fact it had turned out to be Giles. There was something about Faith having tortured Wesley that bothered him greatly. It had taken Buffy retelling the story of the torture that Giles had suffered at the hands of Angelus for Tara to understand the Watcher’s concern, and then she worked on him. Slowly, a little bit more each day, until even now he was excited. She could see it written in his eyes. He was looking forward to Faith’s return.
God, look at them. They all are happy.
“Problem?” Willow laughed. “No problem at all. I mean we all talked about this, Faith is good, and she will be good for Buffy. Not like- well she will be good for her. Another Slayer is always a good thing.” Willow was pacing now, ringing her hands nervously. “Tara, are you sure it was okay not to make Dawnie come home?”
“Willow, Dawn is having fun, being a kid. Sure she will be upset that she missed the homecoming, but really. She is sixteen, and I think her priorities are in a different place right now.” Tara said calmly, loving the strength in her voice, the comfort she felt talking with these people. Her family. With their acceptance, and the magic of Willow’s love she had over come so many of her childhood stumbling blocks, the things that blocked her, kept her hidden behind a wash of blonde hair and downcast eyes. She had broken free of that, pulled free was more the case, and all because of love. The one emotion they told her growing up she would never know, that would always elude her. Oh, how very wrong they had been. She had love here, with these people by the bushels.
Running the wooden handled brush through her hair, staring into the mirror she felt it bubbling up inside of her. The anticipation, the fear. Faith was coming here. She was going to see her again.
This was it. It was real. Buffy wasn’t laying on her bed, clutching the phone to her chest after spending the allotted twenty minutes on the phone with Faith once a week, imagining what she would say, what she would do. There was no need to imagine. In a few moments she would be looking at her, seeing her, hearing her in person. Buffy continued to brush her hair, wondering what, in reality would happen. She had a hundred different scenarios down, thought out. From the one where the two of them just stared at each other; to the one where Buffy pulls Faith into her arms and just holds her, holds her tighter than she ever thought she could hold another person. Because Faith could take it, could take the strength in her arms, could take the silence in such an act, a simple act of feeling another’s heart beating in time against your own.
But then what? If she held her? Then what?
I looked one last time in the rearview mirror. Makeup looked fine; dark, heavy. It felt uncomfortable, and strange. Like a war paint I really didn’t need anymore, but how would they know that? Sure I talked to all of them at one time or another recently. B and I thought it would be best to get all of the apologies out of the way, so that when the time came, rather when today came, that it would just be this, be a fresh start. So they all knew I was sorry, and there was no need to go down that road. But I didn’t think they were ready to meet the new me. Hell I wasn’t even sure B was ready to meet the new me. She had caught a few glimpses of her, in the letters, in the phone calls, when I slipped, when I forgot who they expected me to be.
Was it such a terrible thing that I had changed, that I had learned that it was better in the light, that I wanted to turn my back on the darkness? That the spell of my childhood had been slowly cracking, and that it held less and less power over me, that I wasn’t afraid anymore of who I could be, of who I had become?
Sure there was a lot of shit that I had done wrong, and I was pretty certain I would do a little more wrong before my time was up. Was I doing this wrong? By playing their game, whether they realized it or not? They had placed me in this box, and I just didn’t fit anymore.
God why can’t I just be me?
Why couldn’t I go in there and show them who I was, who I had become. Why was I so afraid of showing them the new me?
Buffy heard the car come to a stop in front of her house, and slowly she set the brush down. This was it. She was here. Faith was out side of her house. Buffy noticed her hands trembling as she slipped the rings on her fingers, especially the one that she slipped over her thumb. It was the one thing that Faith had sent her. It had been sent especially for Buffy’s last birthday.
She had remembered the ring well. Faith had always worn it. Sitting in the library, back before, when they were all a team, Faith would sit at the long table, pretending to read with the others, and absently she would twirl it around and around on her thumb. Which was what Buffy found herself doing now, twirling the cold silver, and feeling it warm against her skin.
This was it. It was really going to happen, Faith was going to walk in that door, and everything would change. She could feel it already. The beating of her heart was getting a little faster; her breath was a little more ragged. Buffy felt all of her reacting, feeling. What would happen if she just let go? If she let go of the reigns, and just let herself go, let her heart go.
The door of the car closed outside, and Buffy strained her senses and really listened.
Foot steps. Strong. Sure. Coming. Closer.
There was the door. It was getting closer.
I could do this, be the self-assured girl they knew. No problem. I could so do this. No big fucking deal right? This was what I did. Walked up there without a care in the world. This was just another day in Sunnydale for them. They weren’t freaking out about seeing me again, not like I was freaking out about seeing her.
They weren’t worried that when the door opened and they saw me they would just stare, or that they would fall to their knees crying and begging for something, anything more than just friendship. Anything more than just a half assed smile and a welcome back cake. No, they weren’t thinking about that, so why in the hell was I?
Get it together.
This was just me coming back here to do my duty, to be a Slayer. It had nothing to do with the way B signed her letters. It had nothing to do with those five letters spelled out before her name at the end of the piece of paper. Had not a fucking thing to do with those five letters that I was terrified to write back. Not a damn thing.
Be strong. This is just another day.
Buffy came down the stairs, slowly, never taking her eyes off of the front door. Tara was amazed at the look of complete concentration that masked Buffy’s face. It was as if her world was on the other side of that door, and there was no way that she was going to miss it. Not one second of it. That was a little shocking to Tara. She and Buffy had talked about what might happen if this day ever came, and never did Buffy even hint that it was all that important. Not as important as her focus on the door clearly made it out to be now.
Faith was just a few feet away. She could feel it in her bones, that Slayer connection. Something she hadn’t felt in years. Buffy had never gone to the prison, Faith had begged her not to come, that she didn’t want to be seen there, locked away like an animal in a cage. Faith wanted to be remembered as she lived, free, wild.
Now she was. Free. And she was just a few feet and a few inches of oak away from her.
She watched as Buffy’s feet came to rest on the foyer floor, looking over her, from the low heeled boots on her feet, to the long black leather skirt, and soft cream of her blouse. Her hair shimmered, like it had just received a thousand strokes with the brush. Tara had to admit that Buffy was a beautiful woman, granted that was never any question, but this, she was sure that none of them had expected her to just shine standing there.
“Wow, Buffy. You look amazing.” Xander said as he stood, running his hands over his slightly wrinkled khaki pants.
But Buffy didn’t even look at him. She reached forward and took the door handle in her hand. Just as the knock began to register in Tara’s ears, Buffy was slowly opening the door.
The early morning sun filled the entry, lighting all of Buffy. She stood there, enveloped in the light, looking every bit the avenging angel. Strong, majestic, beautiful. She was actually shimmering standing there, and Tara could not stop the soft gasp that came from her lips.
She had cut her hair.
Of all the things that I was thinking, and that was the one that stood out for me. That Buffy Summers had cut her hair. Maybe it was the light, the way she just seemed to glow standing there. She looked good.
Okay she looked better than good, better than I remembered, better than I had imagined. When I would sit in my cell, hearing the clanking of the keys on the hips of the guards as they walked, rereading the letters she had sent to me, I would close my eyes, picturing her. Remembering her. I knew now that I did not have a photographic memory. I had forgotten the hints of light red in her hair; I had forgotten that her right eyebrow was just a fraction higher than the left. I had forgotten that she liked to tuck her hair behind the right ear. Look. She just did it. Tucking it, putting it where she wanted it.
Her bottom lip moved, just a fraction, just a tiny bit out and down. Not making her lips form the complete B pout, but moving, like it was thinking about it. Like it knew that I missed seeing it as much as I missed standing in the cemetery at night. I missed all of this, and I was glad now that she had never come to see me, that she had never sent any photographs. So I could see this, see it right now, real, breathing in front of me and feel it all over again. Feel what standing near her always caused.
Buffy felt eyes on her from all sides. She felt the gang’s eyes moving over her as they slowly began to step closer. She felt Faith’s doe eyes moving over her face, like she was studying her features, memorizing all the Buffy that was shown to the world. But Faith seemed to be looking deeper than the outside, like she was searching for something.
She could feel the heat from the sun that was rising higher behind Faith, almost see the waves of heat coming off of her leather clad shoulders. The heat waves matched those in Faith’s hair. It was a little unruly, like it had been air-dried, and then the ends twirled with nervous fingers over and over again. Buffy could imagine her doing that, driving the blue sedan parked on the street behind her with one hand on the wheel, the other in her hair, fingers working without her knowledge.
Maybe Faith was as nervous as Buffy, maybe just maybe she was scared too, that she felt something had changed between the two of them. Buffy really hoped that it wasn’t all in her head, wasn’t all her imagination. She wanted so desperately to believe in something again.
The others were only a few feet away, and she held up her hand to them, but refused to look away. She was too transfixed but the look she saw in Faith’s eyes. Masked beneath the gray and the black liner, behind the thickened lashes. Faith kept her mask of indifference in place, but her eyes couldn’t or wouldn’t, they were speaking to Buffy, pleading with Buffy.
Then Faith moved her eyes away, quickly jerked them from Buffy’s, looking down at the porch boards, at her feet, and her strong shoulders sagged just a fraction, just a little. But Buffy saw them, and in them she saw defeat.
It was merely a span of seconds, but it slowed, it seemed so much longer as the two Slayers gazed at each other. Tara could see if from where she stood, behind the others who were moving closer. She could see it all from here. Faith lost to the world, Buffy the same.
Could they not see it themselves? The way their bodies were ever so slightly leaning towards one another? How their eyes seemed to follow the path the others took?
Tara wished for a thousand spells, running through them in her mind, which one would work? Which one would fit? Which one would stop reality long enough to give those two women the time they needed, the quiet and peace.
This was the worst-case scenario. I had wanted anything but the staring, anything but the silence. Anything but fucking this! But I couldn’t speak. It felt like my tongue weighed a thousand pounds, and was stapled to the roof of my mouth. It didn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t work. So the new Faith was shy was she? This was just great. They all must think that I was a fool, that I was crazy, because I wasn’t with the flippant remarks, that I wasn’t with the jokes and the ughs.
God, I could see them, over her shoulder. She stopped them though, which was a blessing. But they were still standing there, still looking, still waiting to see what I would do. Forget about all the talks; forget about all the changing I had done. They were still expecting the worst, expecting her, the killer, the liar, the thief, the whore, the loser.
Buffy watched as the darkness rolled through the deep eyes, clouding the light that had been there. Her red lips twitched, fighting for either a smirk or a frown, but neither winning. A faint crease in her forehead and Buffy had enough. She looked over her shoulder at the others, at her family, and gave them all the look. The look that they all knew. It was the look of the Slayer, the look of an order not a request.
And then Buffy Summers stepped through the doorframe, pulling the door closed behind her.
She closed the door. Willow turned to Tara, her eyes confused and expectant. They all seemed to turn to her then, and she held up in hands, a sly grin on her face.
“Neither of them are going anywhere. They just need a few minutes.” Tara said, her voice even and calm.
“That was a little intense, wasn’t it?” Xander said as he turned around and stepped back into the living room.
I heard the door close and figured that was it. She had closed the door, she thought like the rest of them did. And what did I expect really? This was me, and that was her. Light, dark. All the hopes I had, all the silly little imaginings that I played out over and over again were just lies that I had told myself, lies that I used to wrap around me to chase away the pain, chase away the past and the fear. None of them were ever going to happen. Nothing was going to happen. Why had I even bothered to come here? More lies, told to myself, to get me off of the cot I slept on, to keep my feet moving over the pained gray cement floor of the prison. Everything I had held on to were lies, and the worst kind. Lies told to myself.
I heard the hitch of the sob in my throat before I felt it, before I could stop it.
A hand on my chin, lifting my face. I was looking into her hazel eyes, taking in the lines of blue, of green, the gold. Had they always been there? I couldn’t remember. I couldn’t remember anything suddenly, other than the sinking feeling in my guts. I had never seen her this close, never looked so deeply into her eyes.
“Faith?” She said softly, looking into those shocked eyes. Both of them seemed taken aback, that the silence that lay between them was pulled away, by one name, one word, one fact.
Buffy felt her lips curving slowly into a smile, as those eyes blinked once, and looked back at her. She stepped even closer, and put her arms around Faith, doing what she had wanted to do since the door opened, what she had wanted to do for months. She tightened her arms around the woman in front of her, hearing the creak of the leather, smelling it, the rich fragrance it offered, mixed with the smell of light soap and flesh. Faith’s flesh.
Buffy felt arms come up around her back, and tighten as well. They both strengthened the embrace, as Buffy nuzzled her face into Faith’s neck, and the brunette breathed in Buffy’s hair.
This is what she wanted, what she had always wanted. A pair of arms where she felt protected and safe at the same time. Strong and dangerous, but gentle. This is what she was afraid of, as she felt her heart skip, to match the beat of the one hidden behind the layers of a cotton top, skin, muscle, bone, and blood. That her body was in sync with another’s, completely, and there seemed to be nothing that she could do to stop it.
I knew she would feel good, but not this good. Not soft and hard at the same time. Not fragile and powerful all at once. Maybe we were both opposites, walking inside of these bodies that belied the truth of what they were. Maybe we both had in us the dark and the light. Maybe, just maybe we fit together, all parts locking, affixing, like they were meant to.
I pressed my face into her hair, breathing in so deeply that the strands ticked at my nostrils, moved against my cheeks. But I didn’t care. I could smell through the soap, and the shampoo, and the other stuff she had piled on. I could smell down to her flesh, I could smell her. Buffy.
It made me tighten my arms around her, knowing that she could take it. She could take anything I gave her and give it right back. That was something I had never known in anyone else. And that scared me to death. That it always came back to B. Everything in my life came back to her. There was no way I could ever stay away. I was pretty sure that even in death I would make my way back to her, back to these arms. There was no way I could stop this. I couldn’t and I didn’t want to.
In these arms, I felt like I could be me, that I could give up everything that I was afraid of, and that she would still hold me just as tightly, that she would understand.
“B.” I sighed, and I felt her shudder slightly. Then it dawned on me. Like a bolt of lightening running through my entire body. Holding her in my arms changed from something safe, and something pure and calming, to something exciting, to something enticing, to something I felt up and down my body, curling in the pit of my stomach.
I felt her hands flat on the small of my back, pressing me closer to her, pressing my breasts closer to hers, I felt the leather of my thighs against the leather of hers, and wanted desperately to move them, to feel the muscles I knew were there, under that thick black skin.
I ran my hand up her back, my palm feeling the clasp of the bra as it went passed. Her hair slipped through my fingers as I cupped the back of her neck, letting my fingers splay, cupping the back of her head. I released a shuddering sigh.
Buffy could feel the heat as it grew, suddenly scorching her skin. She could feel it under her hands, coming off of Faith in waves. She had expected it, she had dreamt about it, but never had she thought, not for one second that she would feel it so strongly, that hearing that sigh coming from those full lips would make her entire body quiver, would make her feel the same so strongly it was like someone literally flipped a switch on inside of her.
Buffy forced even more contact with their lower bodies as she leaned her chest back, moved her head away from Faith’s neck, to look into burning eyes. She watching in awe, sure that she was imagining things, as the black of the pupils constricted and released in time with Buffy’s breathing.
Slowly, she wet her lips while moving forward, closer to the ever-elusive kiss she had wanted, had needed for so long.
“Am I late? Did I miss?” Anya said rushing up the front walk, her eyes on the pink bakers box, thinking about how poorly taped it was, and all it would take was one tilt of her wrist and the cake would fall to the ground, ruining it. And she was trying so very hard to make this a happy day, to show her support of Xander and the others, even though she really had no interest in seeing the other Slayer. She was a pothole on the road Xander took to her, nothing more, and she was not expecting all that much. But the cake, the cake was important. She had it specially made, with the icing in the shape of a heart with a stake through it. The cake was key. She refused to look up, to see who she was addressing, only knew that there was somebody standing on the porch, and they damn well better help her get through the front door.
Her greeting not returned, she looked up to see Buffy, in the arms of the dark haired woman. They were both staring at her in a way that made know exactly what it felt like to be hunted by them. She wanted to drop the box and run as far away as possible, feeling those looks. The glare from the brunette was the strongest, was tickling at the part of Anya that remembered being a demon, remember that her kind was murdered by the Slayers of old.
Faith froze, then tensed, and then Buffy felt her as she jumped away. Buffy could feel the force of the move in her arms, as they strung and groaned with the power. She could not believe the luck, or lack of it, that had brought Anya up her walk at that moment. At that moment when she was just a breath away from feeling them, from tasting those lips.
She looked at Faith, who was now leaning against the baluster, her arms slowly crossing over her chest, her eyes empty vacant. Faith was gone, replaced by the Slayer.
This was all wrong. This was not supposed to happen this way. She had dreamt it. Buffy knew, that she would lean in and kiss those lips, and that the world would right itself again, that everything would be right, would be as it should. That she would be happy, she would be whole. That she would.
She knew she had interrupted something pretty important, and was about to comment, but thought better of it, seeing the change coming over the dark one. Yes, better to keep her mouth shut, all comments locked away. She would ask them of Xander later, when it was safe.
“I brought the cake?” Anya offered holding it up as she waited at the bottom of the white washed steps. She would not move until one of them gave her the okay. She was blunt, she was crass, but one thing Anya had never been was stupid.
“Thank you, Anya.” Buffy said evenly, calmly. “The others are inside.” She made the motion, and with a smile, Anya walked up the steps. She looked over at Faith, noticing, perhaps for the first time, how striking she looked. A slight twinge of jealousy played in her heart. Xander had kissed those lips, he had looked into those eyes as he was inside of her.
But, then again.
He was with her. Anya felt a smile tug at her lips. Xander Harris had been with her, a gorgeous Slayer, and instead had found love with her, with Anya. She felt her ego inflate a thousand fold, and her smile grew into a toothy grin.
“Nice to see you Faith.” She said, before she could stop her self, and received a grunt for a response. Shrugging she opened the door and stepped inside.
The living room was tense, like they had all been transported to the hospital and were pacing, waiting for the worst possible news. There was more tension than when Buffy’s mother, Joyce, had been in the hospital. Which Anya found strange.
“It is okay. I am here. And I brought the cake.” She held out the box proudly.
On so many levels this was not good.
Tara watched through the open door, as Buffy approached Faith, who was standing closed off. Tara winced as Faith moved away from Buffy’s hand, a hand that was only moving to touch her arm in comfort, in a sign of something. This was not good at all.
She turned her eyes to the ex-demon as Anya set the cake down on the coffee table, and slapped Xander’s hand as he moved in to open the lid.
“Not for you.” Anya chastised.
Goddess, what had she done?
Tara felt Willow curling against her, the arms she knew that she could pick out in a line up, in the dark, snaked around her waist. The head leaned against her chest, as they both looked out the front door.
“What do you think they are talking about?” Willow asked her.
“I don’t know.” Tara replied honestly, seeing Faith frown at something, and then shrug. Buffy turned and walked back into the house, her eyes strained. Tara noticed how she sucked in a deep breath through her parted lips, and then entered the living room. She had steeled her resolve, that was clear.
Faith followed inside, closing the door behind her gently. Tara had expected a flippant slam of the door, not a care, but Faith surprised her by using two hands to guide the door into the jam, locking it slowly as well. Then the dark Slayer took wide, sure steps into the living room, and with a cocky grin asked.
There was oppressiveness to the silence that greeted her after she spoke. Pushing on all of them, taking the light, the joy from the room. It was as if no one was sure what to say, how to even say it. After all this was the killer Slayer, this was the one they feared, had nightmares of for years. She was what Buffy would have become, could have become if any one little thing had turned out differently. Perhaps if Buffy had been born to another family, been raised in another town. If Buffy had her heart broken, her soul shattered, trust betrayed, then she would have become this; a warrior who championed her own cause.
There was a part of Rupert Giles that understood Faith only too well. In the past he had been blind, purposefully, because it suited him. It had suited all of them to look away, to not see the pain in those eyes, to not see the hunger in her face. He was busy worrying about the sanity of his own charge, his own Slayer to concern himself with the one who reminded him so very much of the young Ripper who he had fought to escape. The look in her eyes, when faced with authority, when confronted with structure, was a look that had once, years before greeted him in the mirror. To admit to that, to admit to understanding her then would have meant that he had to admit to being something less than the role model he had been breed to become. If that were the case his entire life would be called into question, the choices he had made, the life he had lived. And Giles had done enough of that, enough thinking about what could have been over those few months before Faith’s arrival. He had vowed to stop, to not look back. At the time he was no longer capable of it. Not of going back. Not going back past the minute before, because he would then only remember the pain, the loss of seeing Jenny lying there prone. Of thinking on the hundreds of ways his life could have been different. But that was not his focus, his focus was Buffy, and ensuring her sanity after sending Angelus to Hell, ensuring that the world would remain safe and functioning, in the care of the Slayer.
He faulted himself as much as he faulted Wesley for what had become of Faith, of the road that she had crossed and then taken as far as it would go. She had danced in the shadows, turned her back on all that he had been raised to hold in the highest of esteem. She had spit on her destiny, and all for what? Because she felt hurt? She felt owed? For on some level she was angry that she had not been blessed with the same quality of life Buffy had been. That was a weak argument, and one he would rather not entertain. Better that she made the wrong choices; she embraced the darkness that was courting her, that over the histories had courted all those who had a righteous destiny. The sirens song, the allure of what was on the other side had reached her young ears and she had not the strength to ignore it.
But when it became clear, to her that the song was false, that the promises of love and happiness were empty, only then did it become clear to her what she had lost, what she had done. And she had opted for the coward’s release from the guilt. He knew all about her suicide attempts, her attacks on the others in Los Angeles in hopes of forcing someone’s hand into doing what she was incapable of. She was lucky. Surely though if he tried to explain it to her, Faith would vehemently disagree, but he believed that she was. She had tempted Angel, but he had known exactly what she was doing, the game she was playing, and refused.
She shifted on her boots. He could hear the creak of the leather she was encased in. The way she fidgeted in the silence, it seemed to him as though she was uncomfortable in the clothes she had chosen to wear. That was a laugh, he thought to himself before stopping. Stopping all of his thoughts to really look at her.
Eyes a little wide, trying to move around the room slowly, seeing everyone, and seeing everything. Her breathing slightly increased. She was nervous standing in front of this group? This little band of misfits, and she, the nightmare of them all was nervous?
Faith. His fantasy, and his nightmare. Covered from head to toe in shimmering leather, with each slight movement of her feet on the floor her thighs moved. It reminded him sharply of a panther, one he had seen at the Sunnydale Zoo with Willow when they were kids. He had been fascinated then, watching the cat stalking back and forth behind the bars of the cage, just as he had always been when it came to Faith. The power that was there, beneath the feminine exterior, awed him.
It had been the same with Buffy, when he had first learned that she was the Slayer. Just thinking that the small blonde could toss him across a room had fueled his fantasies dangerously for months. Building into an obsession, a pure and all consuming need to prove himself to her, to confirm to himself that he was a man, that he was worthy. Into all of their lives Faith walked. This larger than life character, this woman who just oozed sensuality and power all tangled into one. She was all that Buffy wasn’t and all that she shouldn’t be. Where one was tender, and shy, and innocent, the other was brazen, forward and experienced. Faith was a dose of truth for them all. She held up the mirror to what they were afraid to admit to themselves. She had always known Xander wanted Buffy, wanted to control Buffy. And it wasn’t a possession in the normal sense of the word. No this need he felt was one of the basest drives he had ever felt in his young life. It wasn’t Buffy the girl he wanted, it was Buffy the Slayer. It was the irrational need he felt to have that much power and strength and mythical goodness pinned beneath him, in his complete control. It was all he could think about for months, until Faith came. Until Faith saw. Because she knew. She told him as much. Made it clear as day for Xander Harris that he had the lust, and that it would only hurt him and Buffy in the end.
Faith had given something to him that night in that filthy motel room. As she lay underneath him, as he roughly held her hands down at her sides as he filled her, she had given up the Slayer to him, letting him fulfill the need to control it. She did it for him, and he was pretty sure that she had done it for Buffy too.
Ever since that night, he had looked at Buffy and seen Buffy the girl first, the Slayer second. He had never once gone back to feeling that need. As Faith had crassly joked as she choked him, that itch had been scratched and there was no need for him to go back.
He felt Anya lean closer into him on the soft couch and he looked from her, with her soft blue eyes, and tumultuous past, and then to Faith.
The curves were still there, all the right bumps in the right places. Her lips were still held in a slight sneer. But her eyes; see there was something different there. Something not so much as missing but just different. Sort of like the different sound in her voice when they talked on the phone, when late one night she wanted to talk about that night, the night where Angel had to save him from her locked fingers around his throat with a baseball bat. She had tried to explain to him, tell him in soft tones, that she had meant to choke him, and for that she was not sorry, because it was something that she had no control over, the impulse to stop him, to make him see that he would never, ever again dominate her or anyone else like he had days before. For that reason, Faith had told him, she was not sorry. For letting it get that far? That she was sorry for. But was that Faith, the calm voice over the phone the same one that was standing here, in this room, with all of these eyes locked on her?
She was waiting for something. Was she waiting for someone to respond? Someone to pull her into a friendly embrace and welcome her back? If she was she was going to be waiting for a while. Sure Willow knew it was terrible of her to leave Faith standing there. Especially after all of the growth that they had all done over the past few months. The letters that had been written, even the visits to the prison with Tara. Even though there had been changes, even though she had forgiven Faith, on some level, she still had the memories. She knew what it felt like to have a knife pressed to her throat, she knew what it felt like to be mistreated at the hands of someone that was built, trained and destined to be her savoir. The betrayal Willow felt at the hands of Faith was much like that of Angel. When he changed to Angelus, when he stalked her, when he knocked her unconscious, and left her in a wheel chair for months, she learned that the good guys don’t stay good. And the fairy tales were not true; good did not always triumph over evil. And not everything could be forgiven. She had not yet completely forgiven Angel, and that had been years ago.
Was Willow ready to be left alone in a room with Faith? No. Was Willow completely comfortable with the thought of Buffy being alone with Faith? No. Not even knowing that Buffy was the stronger of the two, the calmer of the two. Faith had something else; she had always had that something else, that thing that made her different from Buffy. She had fire.
Willow leaned deeper into the embrace of Tara as she thought about that. About the fire. It had still been there when they visited her in prison, seeing her dressed in the orange jumpsuit, even without the makeup, without the leather there was still a danger burning in those brown eyes, still that aura around her that let the lesser mortals know that she was stronger, that she was a hunter. But where was it now? Her standing there, shifting on her feet, her right thumb twitching just slightly every few seconds. There was something, but not the fire.
She was nervous, and she was waiting, patiently for someone to speak, someone to say something.
Ah, it was different now. No bars, no bulletproof glass. All of the speculations, and the good intentions seemed to mean nothing with her standing feet away from all of them, and Willow, for the first time really wondered if this was a good idea. Sure there seemed to be something different about Faith, but was that difference enough?
It was too much. Too fucking much. The seconds were ticking by, and they were still just staring. Yeah, I pretty much knew this was a bad idea, from the very second that she suggested it. The moment I read the offer in that letter, I remembered clear as I am standing here in a pair of two hundred dollar leather pants, I remembered that when I read that in her letter I had laughed. Tilted my head back and laughed. She expected them to accept me, to allow me to waltz back into their lives.
‘Oh, Faith, it will be fine. They will understand. They know you have changed.’
This was fucking bullshit and I wasn’t about to stand around here for a second longer. This was worse than what happened on the porch, this was worse than nearly feeling her lips, nearly kissing her. The one thing I had NEVER allowed my self to wonder about what it would feel like, what her mouth would taste like, because I knew, I fucking knew that it would never, ever happen. When they dealt out the cards, there was no way I had been given a happiness one.
I should just turn the fuck around, walk out of this house and never look back. Never.
“I did.” Tara replied softly, and squeezed Willow just a little bit tighter.
She had felt the discomfort consume her lover when Faith spoke, and as they all stood in silence; she watched the others in the room, those who had actual experience with Faith, the old Faith. It was like being pulled into a deep pit of anger and distrust. Gone from the room were the warmth and the hope. All the things that were there, that they had been laughing and smiling before she had arrived. Tara knew it was hard for all of them, to look her in the face and then reflect on what had past. How could one get over the humiliation of a first experience? Or being terrified at knifepoint? Or even having your trust betrayed and the entire town nearly eviscerated? No. None of these things were easy to over come, and Tara never for one moment expected them to be. But this group, their family, had to try. That much was clear.
As the silence had gone on, Buffy, off to the side was getting more and more upset, twisting and twisting the ring on her thumb with such power, that a thin line of blood was snaking down her palm, her wrist. Tara wasn’t sure if any one else saw it or not. But that did not matter, she needed to stop this.
“Ah, but you don’t even know me, Blondie.” Faith smirked, and cocked her hip slightly.
“I know you better than you think.” Tara winked at her, and Faith looked contemplative, for a moment.
“Yes, well, welcome home, Faith.” Mr. Giles said and took a step forward, extending his hand, as if to shake. Faith looked down at his hand, her brow furrowing.
“Um.” She faulted.
“Oh, bloody hell.” He sighed and pulled the young Slayer into his arms, tightly. Tara giggled at the sound of the air being forced from Faith’s lungs as the Englishman squeezed her tight. She looked over her shoulder at Buffy, as the blonde Slayer sighed with a smile.
I wondered what she was thinking. Sitting there, clutching her hands in her lap. I know she wasn’t watching the weirdness that had surrounded me over the last few hours. Her eyes were facing me, but distant. She wasn’t here, wasn’t with the bizarre love fest that was happening. So where was she?
So close. That was all she could think of. That it had been so close.
Maybe that was what life with Faith was like, a series of almosts. Buffy had almost killed a man, she had almost killed Faith, she had almost been killed by a giant snake, she had almost been shot to death by the Watcher’s Council, she had almost kissed her on the porch, she had almost lost her to the silence in this room.
It had strangled her, the silence coming off of all of them. These people, the ones that had convinced HER to give Faith another chance. It was if they knew, they had known all along what Buffy was afraid to admit to herself, that Faith meant something to her, meant more to her than any of the others. That there was something between the two of them that could never be denied never be stopped. It was this force that had been pulling them closer and closer since the night they met. Sure back then the pull had been so strong that the two of them had crashed head long into each other with such a violent force that one of them had ended up in a coma for eight months. But it was still there, inside of her, after all of these years, growing stronger, pulling them together. All Buffy had to do was acknowledge the fear she felt, understand it, see what it was and where it came from.
And had she done that? Maybe, okay, not really.
Tara probably had known all along. She was looking at Buffy now, with that soft barely there smile that she got. Tara had been able to see what Buffy and Faith clearly could not. That the two of them were destined, that this was something that was written before they were born. Was it mixed in with the calling, was it because they were both Slayers and that was the only reason that now, as Faith was talking to Anya about the job she worked in prison, something about laundry and getting paid fifty cents a day, that Buffy was transfixed by those lips. The bottom one, with its perfect line, that cleft that was begging to be traced by Buffy’s tongue. The upper lip that thinned as it pulled over her stark white teeth as she smiled at something Anya said. Buffy decided, if it was only because of the Slayer connection, if that was the only reason she was uncontrollably pulled towards Faith, then so be it. The reason really didn’t matter, not any more, not when she could feel it happening. Not when Faith laughed, not when Buffy knew beyond any doubt that she loved her.
How she got here and why did not matter.
The laugh died on my lips, as quickly as I had let it come. B was looking at me. Seeing me. Her eyes cleared, and a soft smile crept over her lips. I was standing and walking across the room before I could even feel my feet on the ground.
So what that they were all staring, wondering what in the hell had just happened. Like I cared, because I didn’t. When Buffy Summers gives you that smile there is nothing in the world you can do to stop your body from moving towards it. Being near it.
I kneeled in front of her and set my hands on either side of her legs on the soft brown couch. Slowly I looked up, meeting her gaze. This was the closest we had been all day. It was like we were keeping our distance for a reason. I wasn’t too sure about hers, but mine? Mine was all about being afraid. Afraid to admit what had almost happened out on the porch, afraid to admit how good she felt in my arms. Afraid to admit that maybe, just maybe she wanted me.
See even though I knew this wouldn’t work, even though I knew it would hurt and it would rip me to shreds, I had to try, I had to know what it felt like to be loved by her. I had to.
“What’s up B?” I asked softly.
“Nothing, F.” She said back, and moved her right leg just a little wider, so my arm was touching the smooth leather of her skirt. Did she do that on purpose?
“This was fun and all,” I whispered so only she could hear.
“But we should, um, maybe go?” She finished.
“I am thinking yes.” I slowly stood up.
“Where to then?” She asked, taking the hand I unconsciously offered her, and came to her feet beside me.
“Patrol?” I grinned widely.
“Definitely patrol.” She nodded.
It was the same Sunnydale, with the same cemeteries, and the same newbie vamps running around in game face still dressed in their funeral clothes. Nothing new to report there. Nothing new anywhere, except what was laying between us. See, if this had been the same old same old, then B and I would be bantering, back and forth. Our own twisted game of tennis, but instead of the ball we used innuendo and sarcasm. Instead it was silence.
“Well, my my my.” Spike said as he rounded the corner of the crypt, having sensed Buffy, and something else that was new to him. He had been hoping to see her. He was always hoping to see her. Why else would he, a vampire that couldn’t bite, be lurking around the cemeteries of Sunnydale night after night. He knew what she had said, he understood it completely, but that did not mean that he had given up the hope of changing her mind. There was always that possibility. “Look what we have here, the Slayer, and a friend.” He sniffed the air. “A strong friend. A friend who knows how to dress, and look good doing it.” He smirked. “So tell me friend, you a witchy too?”
“Um, no, Billy, I ain’t a witch.” The brunette smirked right back. Oh she was a saucy one, this little miss.
“No? I smell something, and it isn’t all leather and oil about you.”
“Spike, not tonight, okay? Just run along.” Buffy said, crossing her arms.
“Oh, I see. You can just waltz in here and tell me what to do and where to go.” He scoffed, but knew she was right. He should just go. She had said it was over. It wasn’t her fault that he couldn’t get her out of his head. "Listen, Slayer, just because you’ve seen the inside of my crypt does not mean –"
“Huh?” The brunette mumbled.
“Spike.” Buffy growled.
“You see, luscious.” Oh, he liked calling her that, her shoulders rolled when he said it, like she was putting it on for size. “The Slayer and I have been, what should I say, Buffy? Horizontal?”
Buffy punched him across the jaw, but not too hard. He brought his head back around to glare at her, as he ran his tongue over his split bottom lip. That Buffy, always was a hitter.
“Oh.” The brunette said. “Guess you two have some business, then.”
“Damn right!” Spike grinned bouncing on his toes.
“Damn wrong! No way in fucking hell never ever again!” Buffy snapped, and touched the brunette’s arm. “Faith, wait. What Spike and I had, that is SO over.”
“Wait a tick. Faith?” Spike laughed, leaning his head back. “You’re the other Slayer?”
“Now would be a good time for you to shut up.” Faith hissed at him.
“Oh, but this will be rich. What are you doing here anyway, pet? Buffy told it like you were locked far far away and weren’t never coming home.” Spike wondered why Buffy was essentially ignoring him again. Only one punch? Buffy turned and looked up at him, and the scorn and hurt in her eyes was enough to knock the man inside of him down. He had clearly made a very large mistake. Something else was happening here. And it was far more important than him.
“Yep. Guess that’s me.” Faith shrugged. “You know, Psycho Slayer who kills pretty much anything in her way. Oh, and would you look at that, you seem to be in my fucking way.” Faith said all of this calmly.
Which made it ten times worse.
Spike stepped back, raising up his arms.
“No need, love, no need, see I am just going.”
“You better, Spike. You know I told you it was over.” Buffy added.
“But you didn’t really mean it.” Spike replied thrusting his hips. He knew he shouldn’t but DAMN he could not help himself.
He watched Faith turn and walk away, or stomp away was more accurate.
“What is her problem?” he asked, stepping beside Buffy. “I thought she was all with the vulgar and the joking.”
“She used to be, Spike. But you and me? So not of the funny, and certainly not tonight.” Buffy said sadly.
“She knows then, does she?” he asked, his voice soft, back to the intimate soothing way he addressed her when they were alone.
“That you love her?”
“Oh that. I think that is a big no. Especially after what you just pulled.” She slumped her shoulders.
"I am sorry Buffy, I thought, well I mean-" He floundered. When she broke it off with him she had told him, clearly that she could never love him, because she was destined for someone else. And he had just met that someone else.
“Forget it, Spike.” She waved it off, and began walking after her fellow Slayer.
He watched her go, and with a heavier heart than he started with, turned off to the opposite direction.
I walked back to the car. That was it. I couldn’t do this, I wouldn’t. This was all bullshit. There was no way I belonged here. So what, we got all honest in a few letters, so we told each other some secrets over the phone late at night. Big fucking deal. She was a stick chaser, and undead stick chaser at that, there was no two ways about it. B was into the dead ones in a big way, and I just needed to face up to that.
What about the porch?
So fucking what? So we almost kissed. I mean come on. Maybe she was confused. Put Angel, Spike and Me in a line up and what do you have? Three killers who were sexy as hell and liked leather.
Stop lying to yourself.
Yes, yes you are. You aren’t like that anymore.
Okay so maybe I’m not. Maybe I hate that fucking bitch Faith with every part of me, maybe I want to do something, anything that will keep her buried in the pits of Hell, right along with all the memories and pain that my lovely fucking mother gave me. I wanted her to stay the fuck down there, stay the fuck away from me.
She will, if you stop using her as a crutch.
Okay, you know what? Who let you talk?
Faith punched the side of the rental car as she came to a halt. She had been muttering to her self since storming out of the cemetery. Buffy was sure that Spike had meant no harm, he was trying, really he was to make it up to her. And she knew in his own way he loved her, and he knew, as much as he would hate to admit it, that Spike understood that Buffy would never love him like that. How could she?
He was everything she fought against, night after night – and not just the vampire side. It was all of him. And that was not what she needed in her life. She needed someone to fight beside her, to understand her. She knew exactly who she needed, and sighed and Faith slammed herself back against the side of the car.
“You know what? I can’t do this. I can’t,” Faith exclaimed, tossing her hands in the air.
“What do you mean? Do what?” Buffy asked as she came closer to the car and Faith leaning on it.
“This. This pretending, acting like nothing happened. So much has happened, so much has changed, and I can’t go back to this. I can’t be this person.”
“Then don’t be. Just be you,” Buffy said quietly, thankfully.
“Me? You don’t want ME! You want her. You want the strong one, the foulmouthed one, the one who would fuck you in a heart beat and leave you when you were asleep. That’s who you want, who you expect. But me? No B, you couldn't want me.”
“How do you know? You think so little of me? You think I wouldn’t want to know you? Well you are wrong. I do. I know you’ve changed. I’ve seen it. What, you think you could hide it from me? I could see between the lines Faith, I could hear what you were trying to say, but were only too afraid to. I know you are different, and that’s who I want, I want the Faith I met over the last few months. She is the one I need.” Buffy cupped her cheek, running her thumb over the corner of her mouth, smearing the red slightly, felt it shifting under her skin. “Please Faith.” Buffy whispered, her lips a breath away. Faith closed the distance, her hands coming to rest on Buffy’s hips. Soft. Those lips were so soft, and so tender. Buffy had expected something rough, something impassioned. But this was a thousand times better, just the soft press of her lips, the gentle nipping of Faith’s lips on her bottom one. It was Buffy who shivered now, who pressed their bodies together tighter, who moved her hand up into Faith’s hair, to force their mouths together, as Buffy licked at her bottom lip, asking.
She first felt the fingers on her hips gripping tighter, before the mouth against her own opened, and Faith’s tongue glided out to caress Buffy’s. The kiss was still slow, but was building, rising in urgency. And she couldn’t stop her self from plunging her tongue in hungrily, from exploring Faith’s spiced mouth. Running her tongue over the points of her teeth, feeling the arc of her cleft palate.
Faith moved her arms up Buffy’s back, to clutch her shoulders, and slowly pulled Buffy away. The blonde Slayer’s eyes were still closed and she snapped them open to see what had changed, where those kisses had gone. Absently as she looked into the deep chocolate pools in front of her, she ran her tongue over her bottom lip, tasting the lipstick, the saliva from both of them.
“B?” Faith asked softly, but Buffy didn’t understand the question. She leaned back, to see the other girl’s face completely. “Would you hate me if I told you that I loved you? That I told you I needed you? That I told you that I don’t think I can live another second of this life without you?”
Buffy felt her face soften, her eyes round at the conviction and strength, mingled with the fear in Faith’s voice. “No, I wouldn’t hate you, Faith. I couldn’t. Would you hate me if I said those things?”
Faith shook her head.
“I love you too Faith.” She said and set her lips on Faith’s cheek. “I love the you that is in here.” She pressed her finger to Faith’s heart. “Will you let me meet her?”
“Yeah.” Faith smiled. “She is kinda excited to meet you too.”
Faith leaned forward and kissed Buffy this time.
Kissing Buffy Summers.
It was nothing like I imagined.
It was better.
It was wet.
It was hot.
It was sexy as hell.
It was right.
It was a forever.
I could see it behind my closed eyes as I pulled her too me again, as I deepened the kiss and felt my entire soul just aching to be with her. And be with her forever.
That was kissing Buffy Summers.