What Wishes Can't Mend
by Snoe
Rating: R

Disclaimers: I don't own anyone from the show.
Author's Notes: This is an idea that kinda came to me in a dream, let me know what you think. Oh and...no demons/vampires/slayer deal for this story either. There'll be some other 'adjustments' I'll have to make once the story progresses, just too many minute details messing up the plot of my story.
Dedication: To Liv, 'cause I promised her I'd dedicate something to her and spell her name right and she did actually inspire me…good job.
Feedback: Please let me know if you like it.

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PART 1

New England Colony
1692 AD

The woman slammed the door shut, scorn burning in her eyes and she turned to look at her husband. He shrugged softly, letting her know that he could do nothing either and sat on his chair at the table. The ears of corn bounced onto the table as she dropped them, scoffing once again and shook her head. The situation was near escalating, if something didn't happen soon there might be a real catastrophe ahead. Sure, nowadays almost everyone seemed to have quarrels with neighbors, but this family feud was getting out of hand. Just minutes ago she'd caught those damned little brats trying to steal corn again.

"William," she sighed, looking at her husband, "can't you go talk to them?"

He turned his head, eyeing her as if she'd been befallen with insanity. There was no need to remind her of the last time he had gone over to the Wilkes's residence and demanded they act more civilized towards their only neighbors. The visit had ended in a fistfight between her husband and Mr. Wilkes, as well as their two eldest sons. The land they both shared was far out from the colony, enough for both of them, but both families were eager to possess the other's land as well. There had been bad blood between them for some ages now, both their families had settled on this spot of land about two generations ago and ever since then they were enemies.

Mary Stuart shook her head once again and called her children for supper, just as a knock sounded on the door. Surprised at the interruption since visitors barely made it out this far, she walked over to open the door. But to her dismay she found a very angry-looking Elizabeth Wilkes out on her porch, four children in various sizes mingling around her.

"You! You tramp! Don't you dare touch my children again!" the woman hissed angrily and Mary tried not to shrink back. She was not about to let herself be intimidated by some low-life housewife who couldn't keep her kids in check. Sure, she'd slapped the little boy who had been trying to steal her corn, but it was all in the interest of her own family.

William stood and walked over to the seething women, trying to diffuse the situation peacefully. But this had been going on for too long, eventually the situation just might explode. As he approached the door he tried to think of a way to get the Wilkes woman to settle down, but then he saw her large bulk of a husband and he sighed. John Wilkes was a hotheaded fellow, not one to settle arguments peacefully.

"John," he nodded towards the man, who sought entry into his home. His own three children had entered the kitchen now and he could even feel the malice radiate between his and the Wilkes children.

Pushing his way into the house, John Wilkes pushed the other man and glared at him, "We have tolerated you people for too long now. My great-grandfather thought it was better to share the land than to fight over it, but I don't exactly agree with it. I want you and your wolf-pack off my land right now!"

William stood upright and faced the man, his jaw squarely set, "I don't think so, John. If anything, this is our land. My great-grandfather settled here first, before yours even heard of the place. So I think if anyone has to leave, it's you and your brats."

This earned him a right hook to the jaw, almost knocked him straight to the floor. But he kept his stance, leering at the other man and countering with a punch of his own. Just as the two men were about to beat each other to death, and there was no doubt that would've been the only acceptable outcome, a shudder ran through the house and everyone stopped.

A knock sounded on the still open door and they all stared at a well-dressed man, who looked to be in his early thirties entering the house. The two fighting men were just about to jump on him, but the stranger held up a hand and shook his head. He was wearing a business suit, his hair slicked back and even his shoes looked more expensive than the entire land they were standing on. Everyone watched him enter the house, walk into the middle of the feud and brush some imaginary dirt off his jacket.

"Who are you?" William was the first to find his voice and hoped to intimidate the stranger with an evil look.

"I am the one that can settle your dispute for good," the stranger replied, his voice soft and charming as he looked at each of them in turn.

"What the hell are you talking about?" John spat and stepped up to the stranger dangerously.

"You want land. I can provide you all the land you want and you won't ever have to fight over it again," the stranger spoke, ignoring John completely and instead walking up to one of the younger children.

"How the hell would you do that? And what's in it for you?" John asked again, wanting to elicit some type of response from the weird man that wasn't so passive.

"It doesn't matter how I would do that. And all I want is a pact, signed by both your families," the stranger smiled and rubbed a hand gently across a young boy's head.

"A pact? What kind of pact?" Mary looked at the stranger quizzically, she was definitely for ending this feud right now. And the prospect of new land sounded great.

Turning around, the young man smiled again, an eerie smile that sent shivers down everyone's spine, "It's nothing that would concern you now. A pact that will not go into effect until the year 1999, when it has been passed down each of your maternal bloodlines."

The four adults got closer together, looking at each other in slight confusion. If what the stranger was saying was right, then they could have all the land they wanted, stop this ridiculous feud and not even have to pay for it. The year 1999, no one could even think that far ahead, who knew what were to happen by then. The offer was too good to be true.

"Who are you?" Elizabeth decided to try again; the stranger wasn't only creepy to her.

"Just call me a friend of the family."

And no one bothered to ask any further questions, eager to sign this pact the stranger was talking about.

*****

Sunnydale, Ca
January 1999 AD

Joyce Summers stood over her dining room table, looking down at the worn paper before her. No matter how long she stared at the parchment, it didn't vanish or change one bit. She couldn't believe this was happening, to her, to her child…it just didn't seem fair. Throwing a concerned glance at the clock she sighed and picked up the paper. Buffy would be home soon from her date with Riley and Joyce would have to be the one to break the bad news to her daughter.

As if on cue the door opened, a smiling blonde stepping inside the house. Buffy took off her jacket and shoes, then looked at her mom. The older woman had a worried expression on her face and Buffy walked up to her, wondering what was wrong.

"Mom, are you okay? What's wrong?"

Joyce glanced at her daughter, sighed again and rested a hand on her daughter's shoulder, "Buffy, there's something I need to tell you."

"What is it mom?" the girl asked worriedly, following her mom into the living room.

"You might wanna sit down for this, honey," Joyce responded and took a seat herself, the parchment clutched tightly in her hand. She looked down at it and closed her eyes; this was going to be harder than she anticipated.

"Are you gonna tell me what's going on? And what's that paper in your hand?"

Looking up at her oldest daughter, Joyce heaved another sigh and lifted the paper up to rest in her lap. She studied it for a few seconds, before deciding she had to tell Buffy now.

"In the year 1692 two families were in the middle of a feud, when a stranger entered their house and told them he'd solve all their problems. All they had to do was sign a pact," Joyce started, but was soon interrupted by the girl.

"So, why's that matter?" Buffy shrugged.

"Just let me finish, alright?" Joyce pleaded and continued as her daughter nodded, "This pact was not to go into effect until the year 1999, after it had been passed down from every mother to her oldest daughter for generations. Once the years turned and it became 1999 the last daughter of each bloodline was to retrieve the parchment passed down, that the pact had been signed on. Once she had gotten the parchment she was to stand before her oldest child and read the conditions and terms of the pact. Once the child is informed of this, the pact will be put into effect."

"Mom…what're you trying to say?" Buffy asked, although her voice indicated she had a feeling what this was about.

"Buffy, I'm the last daughter of the bloodline. My mom passed this story and the parchment on to me just a few years before she died. It is my duty to follow the instructions of the pact, and since you're my oldest child I am to read the conditions of the pact to you."

The woman picked up the parchment, scanning the tiny words for probably the hundredth time. She didn't want Buffy to have enough time to question what was going on, so she started reading the words she had come to despise ever since finding out about the pact.

"By reading these words to the oldest child of the bloodline's last daughter, the pact will automatically be put into effect. The primary conditions of this pact hold that the two oldest children, of each bloodline respectively, shall be married to the other upon the execution of this pact. I, as a creator of this pact, will see that this primary condition is met to my expectations and give further terms that need to be fulfilled to be in compliance with this pact. The two bloodlines shall be contacted upon execution of the pact and all necessary arrangements be made to meet the terms stated above. Failure to do so will not be tolerated. This all is to happen when the years turn and it becomes 1999, there will be no exemptions to any conditions for any reason.
Signed by the Wilkes Family and the Stuart Family."

At this point Joyce looked up, meeting Buffy's eyes for the first time in a couple of minutes and swallowed hard. The confusion was written clearly across her daughter's face and the blonde's mouth was currently hanging wide open. Buffy shook her head and blinked, then stared intently at her mom, before speaking.

"What's that all mean, mom?" Her voice was a lot smaller than just a few minutes ago and Joyce wanted nothing more than to make it all go away right now.

"Well…the pact requires you to marry the oldest child of the other bloodline's last daughter. Supposedly, by having read this to you everything will go into effect and the creator of this pact will notify us of what's going on," Joyce sighed and looked away; she couldn't bear to watch the hurt and anger flash across her daughter's eyes.

"Mom, this is total bullshit. A pact with the devil or some other evil spawn? There's no way in hell I'm gonna marry some guy I've never even as much as glanced at! No one can force me to do that!" Buffy's voice rose steadily, she was definitely getting pissed. Pissed at her ancestors for even signing such a stupid pact, pissed at her mom for actually following the instructions and pissed at herself for not actually thinking this was completely impossible.

"Buffy, please…calm down. Don't you think I've thought this through? The story has been passed down from generation to generation, I doubt it would've lasted this long if there wasn't some merit to it. Not to mention that the creator, the devil as you call him, anticipated the two oldest children to rebel against this and made sure it was known that he was not going to tolerate such behavior. Buffy, think about this…if this really is nothing then we don't have to worry, nothing will result from this. But if this pact is factual and to be executed, I think it'd do us better to follow the rules for now. And who knows, maybe this boy will be a gentleman and very nice," Joyce tried to persuade her daughter as much as herself.

The two sat, looking at each other intently for a few seconds before Buffy finally gave in. She nodded softly, rubbing a hand across her forehead. Her mom was right, it was probably safer to just play along for now and see what was going to happen. Most likely this was just bogus and they could pretend this pact never even existed. The doorbell rang and both women looked at each other confused, they weren't expecting anyone. Joyce stood up to open the door, followed closely by Buffy who stood behind her. The older woman opened the door and both women stared at the stranger in front of them in confusion.

He was wearing a dark blue t-shirt, baggy shorts that reached over his knees, black Vans and a red baseball hat turned backwards. Although he didn't look much older than his mid-twenties, it was hard to really pinpoint his actual age. Both women looked at him strangely, before Joyce finally found her voice to speak.

"Who are you?"

He smiled an eerie smile and answered in a soft voice, "Let's just say I'm a friend of the family."

PART 2

Boston, MA
January 1999

Faith sat on her bed with a frown on her face, the strap of her backpack clutched tightly in her hand. She was shaking and she hated that, hated feeling so powerless. And she was pissed, maybe way beyond that. Her mom had just told her about some stupid ass pact that she had to fulfill and as soon as the last word was out of the woman's mouth, some weird guy had knocked on their door. It wasn't enough that her mom actually thought Faith had to go marry some guy she'd never met, but this stranger thought so as well.

She stood up slowly and turned a full 360 degrees to make sure she really didn't forget anything. Not that she had much of anything to forget. Pretty much all her earthly possessions had fit into her backpack. And it wasn't that she minded much getting out of this hellhole, she just hated being told what to do. The strange guy actually had had the nerve to grin at her and inform her that their plane to California was leaving in two hours and she was supposed to pack. Of course Faith had rebelled and told him where he could stick his plane tickets.

Absentmindedly she rubbed the spot on her arm that was slowly turning into a dark bruise. Scoffing, the girl shook her head and pulled a sweatshirt over her head. People didn't like to see bruises all over your body; they just assumed things right away. And she hated her dad for doing that to her, for making people give her weird looks. As soon as she'd cursed at the stranger, her dad had grabbed her, shaken her and slapped her in the face until she agreed to go pack. Faith picked up her sunglasses from her nightstand and put them on, then walked out the door.

"California, here I fucking come," she mumbled under her breath.

*****

Sunnydale, CA

"I just can't believe this!" the blonde girl huffed and crossed her arms as she sat down on the sofa.

Some freaky guy and stupid ancestors had managed to turn her whole life upside down in a matter of two hours. As soon as her mom had finished reading that damned pact to her, the apparent creator of the pact had strode into their home with a smirk on his face and told them he was so excited for it to finally be put into effect. And after making himself at home in their living room and their kitchen he'd blithely announced that the other oldest child was being informed of the pact as he was speaking and at least Buffy would have the advantage of having the wedding performed on home ground, since she was the first to find out.

"Yeah, it seems very…unbelievable. Uh…are you sure this is real and all?"

Buffy turned to look at her friend and sighed, then nodded. The stranger had made it very clear that he had the power to force her to follow the guidelines of his stupid pact. At least her two best friends had immediately come over after she called them and were currently trying to make her feel a little bit better about what was going on. She glanced at the clock on the wall and sighed again; the strange guy had left shortly after annoying the hell out of her, saying he had to go inform the other oldest child and he'd be back in a few hours with the other family.

"So how does this work anyway, Buff?" Xander asked, watching the emotions play easily across his friend's face. He didn't want to admit it, but he was slightly jealous of whatever guy was to marry Buffy. Sure, he'd pretty much gotten over his crush on her, but he still didn't want to see her married to some beefstick.

"I have no idea. That devil guy said he'd be back with the family of the other oldest child in a few hours and then…joy…we'll have to get married. Maybe this is a nightmare…maybe I'll wake up and laugh about it," Buffy responded, her mood souring with every minute she was stuck here, waiting.

"Maybe he'll be a really cute guy Buffy," Willow interjected, trying to make the situation seem less horrible.

"Yeah and maybe he'll be a 300 lbs, fifty year old bald guy," Xander grinned, but cowered back upon receiving two death stares from his friends.

"Actually…Xander has a point…did it say anywhere how old this guy was going to be?" the redhead asked, watching as Buffy's brows furrowed and finally a look of shock and disgust flashed across her face.

"No…you mean this guy could be any age?? I could end up getting married to an 80-year-old!"

"Well, at least he'd die a lot sooner and you'd be free again, right?" the dark-haired boy shrugged, this time ignoring the looks he was thrown and getting up to open the door.

As soon as he opened the door Dawn came running in, throwing her backpack in a corner along with her jacket and ran into the living room to find her sister. Xander watched in slight confusion, then turned to look at Mrs. Summers who came walking the front steps, shaking her head. Buffy had told them that her mom was going to inform Dawn of what was going on when she picked her up from school, and apparently Dawn was just as curious as he had been upon arriving at the Summers' house.

"Is he cute?" Dawn asked, jumping onto the sofa next to her sister who looked even more miserable than before.

"Why does everyone ask if he's cute?? I don't even know him!" Buffy groaned and threw her head back in despair.

"Are you gonna have kids with him? Do I get to be an aunt?" the youngest girl continued and narrowly evaded the punch to her arm coming from the blonde.

"Dawn, how about you leave your sister alone. Buffy stop moping around, that man will be back soon and he asked you to be ready. You've got less than an hour," Joyce interrupted her daughters and looked at them sternly. Sure, she herself was afraid for her daughter and concerned about this guy she was to marry, but she knew she had to keep herself together.

"This is gonna be one fine day," Buffy mumbled, before ascending the stairs to get changed.

*****

Sunnydale Airport

The air was hot and humid as it enveloped her and she felt like she was going to suffocate. Immediately stripping off the warm sweatshirt she'd worn when leaving Boston, Faith shouldered her backpack and followed her parents to the rental car that was supposed to be waiting for them. That strange guy had been there to make sure she got on the plane, grinning like the cat that ate the canary the whole way. And she wanted nothing more than five minutes alone with him to introduce the guy to her fist.

"Faith! Hurry up already!" her dad yelled and she grumbled, walking a little bit faster.

Unlike her, both her mom and dad seemed to be thrilled at the idea of having her marry this person they didn't even know. It didn't come as a big surprise to her though, after all both her parents had told her on numerous occasions that they'd be more than happy to get rid off her. This was working out just perfectly for them. And all Faith could do was hope that the guy she was going to have to marry was nothing like her dad, that once in her life she'd be lucky enough to meet a nice person.

*****

Summers' residence

Buffy had started pacing about twenty minutes ago. She was going over every little possibility in her mind of how to get out of this situation. There was no way she was going to marry this guy, whoever he was. Turning around once again she smiled weakly at her best friend, who'd been watching her worriedly. Before she had a chance to say anything to the redhead there was a knock on the door and the blonde went to open it.

"Buffy! Nice to see you again."

The blonde groaned, rolled her eyes and looked at the stranger on her doorstep. So much for wishing he'd been in a plane crash or something of the sort. Her senses were screaming at her to just shut the door in his face and pretend this all had never happened, but the sensible voice that sometimes made itself known told her otherwise. Not to mention that her mother would be more than pissed for them not upholding the honor of their family. Like Buffy really cared.

"What'd happen if I didn't let you in?" she asked, cocking her head to watch for any shock on his face, but that never came. Instead he smiled.

"Don't be silly," he answered and walked across the threshold as Buffy finally opened the door wide enough for him to enter. She looked at him and turned her head to see her mother and sister walking into the living room as well. The stranger was currently kissing her mother's hand and then did the same to Dawn; apparently he thought he was a real gentleman.

"Uh, these are my friends Willow and Xander…and my sister, Dawn. This is…uh," she started, pointing out her friends on the sofa and stopped as she realized the guy had never even told her his name.

"You can call me Mef," he smiled and kissed Willow's hand as well. Buffy rolled her eyes and moved to close the door, when Mef stopped her.

He'd changed outfits, was now wearing an expensive looking pair of dark slacks and a white oxford shirt that hung unbuttoned, along with an untied tie and a white t-shirt underneath. Buffy shook her head, for some reason the guy actually had style, and she watched him as he walked past her.

"I've got a surprise for you Buffy. The other family's just arrived, you'll get to meet your soon-to-be," he smirked and vanished out the doorway, missing the exasperated expression on the blonde's face.

She walked back into the living room, not wanting to face this guy all by herself and stood next to her mom and sister. Mef walked back inside, pulling a dark-haired girl with him into the living room and a woman and man about her mom's age followed them. The stranger was chuckling and yanked the girl forward to stand next to him, then looked at each of them in turn.

Buffy studied the three unfamiliar people that had entered her house and swallowed. She could only hope that the guy she was supposed to marry was still outside in the car. Her eyes fell upon the girl and she frowned slightly. If her husband-to-be was as trashy as the girl she could just kill herself right then and there. The girl was wearing a black spaghetti strap top and black leather pants that looked tight enough to cut off circulation, along with a pair of expensive sunglasses that had to be stolen. She was apparently looking around as well and Buffy followed her gaze to Xander.

"I ain't marrying him! You can't make me…I don't give a shit what you'll do to me!" the girl said and stared at Mef who only chuckled. He let go off her arm and walked further into the room, standing in between the two families with a huge grin.

"Don't worry Faith, hun…you won't be marrying him," he spoke and turned to look at Buffy, who by now was probably more confused than she ever had been in her existence. Where was the guy she was supposed to marry and why was this trailer-trash asking not to marry Xander?

"Listen…Mef," Buffy started, shaking her head, "can you just show me the guy I'm supposed to marry and we'll get this over with?"

"What? Oh…you guys thought…heh…well," Mef spoke, pretending to be confused or thoughtful or both, but Buffy was getting sick of him fast. She was getting angry in fact and if her mother hadn't put a hand on her shoulder she might've just gone after the guy.

Mef, maybe realizing her agonizing state or just becoming bored with himself, held up both his hands and grinned again, "Buffy, Faith…meet…each other. Try to be nice, you're gonna be together for a looong time."

"What?" Buffy gasped, hoping she was just confused and this wasn't true. She was just being crazy and Mef had never said that.

"Yeah, it seems that uh…there's been a slight misunderstanding. I never said you were gonna marry a guy…gee, you people are always so quick to make assumptions," Mef smirked and shook his head in mock.

"There is no way in hell I am marrying HER!" Buffy yelled, throwing an evil stare at Mef, who was still grinning like a fool. Marrying someone she'd never met was bad enough, but marrying some trashy girl was unacceptable.

"You don't have a choice, honey. Like I said, either of you refuse to marry the other and I will wipe out both your bloodlines."

Buffy turned, staring at her mother who only shook her head as well. There was no way she could marry a girl, this girl of all people. Turning back around she stared at Faith, who in turn sneered at her. Groaning, the blonde grabbed Mef's arm and yanked him over, throwing her best puppy-dog look at him.

"You can't make me marry her…she's a bitch!" she mumbled, tightening her grip on his arm.

"Hey, speak for yourself, Blondie!" the brunette yelled and got just a little bit closer, causing Buffy to want to explode. The blonde stormed over to her and was just about to show the girl the bad side of her, when Mef pushed himself in between them.

"Girls, girls…be civil. Wedding's in an hour, go get ready," the guy spoke calmingly and turned to walk away. And when he started singing 'Chapel of Love' Buffy wanted nothing more than to scream and wake up.

PART 3

"Mom, I can't marry a girl!" Buffy whined, rubbing a hand across her forehead and looked to her mother. They'd gone into the kitchen, pretending to only get drinks for everyone, but Buffy had other things in mind. Her day had just gotten even worse, if that was even possible.

"Buffy, I can understand you're shocked…but how is this girl different from any guy you would've been supposed to marry?" Joyce tried to reason, not wanting her daughter to be miserable on account of some family mistake. But she had no doubts that Mef was serious about his threats; she liked very much to live and this pact wasn't bad enough to lose their lives over.

"For one…I'm not gay! I don't like girls that way….and two, I've got a boyfriend. What am I supposed to tell Riley?" the blonde sighed, stacking up soda cans in her hands.

"I suppose you should tell him the truth, he's a nice boy and deserves to know why you can't be with him," her mother said, taking a few of the cans and walking towards the door.

"Whoa, mom wait…what do you mean I can't be with him anymore?"

Joyce turned around reluctantly and eyed her daughter, "Uh I was just assuming. Mef mentioned certain guidelines he'd present to you after the wedding and he mentioned something along those lines. I'm sorry honey."

Buffy closed her eyes and took a deep breath, then followed her mother out the door, "This is so fucking unbelievable."

*****

The silence that had settled on the room was more than uncomfortable. Buffy, Willow, Xander and Dawn were sitting on one side of the room, with Mrs. Summers in between them and the other three people who were occupying the smaller sofa. The only one that didn't seem to be bothered was Faith, who was leafing through books and magazines on the coffee table, picking up little artifacts that looked like they'd break upon touch.

Buffy cringed as the girl set down one of the artifacts and sneered at her, "Do you mind keeping your hands off my stuff?"

"Whatever," the brunette replied and leaned back into the cushions, crossing her arms.

Another ten-second silence fell over the room until Joyce tried to find a way to get conversation going. She looked around the room to find anything and looked at the brunette girl who was still wearing those sunglasses.

"Faith, do you want to take off your sunglasses?" she asked, by now just desperate to break the silence.

"Nope," came the short reply and Joyce sighed. This girl was definitely different.

"Maybe she's just blind, mom," Buffy said bitingly and glanced at the dark-haired girl, causing Joyce to sigh. If those two were to be married all hell was going to break lose.

"I'm not blind, I can see your ugly face just fine," Faith snapped back and Joyce feared her daughter jumping at the other girl for a catfight. But before Buffy had a chance to reply, Faith's dad who had introduced himself as Mr. Spencer interjected. He grabbed his daughter's arm, yanking her closer to him and glared at her before yelling.

"Faith, apologize right now! And take off those damn sunglasses, don't be rude."

The girl scoffed and pulled away from him, taking off the sunglasses and then looked at Buffy, "Sorry." Faith crossed her arms and stared straight ahead, not meeting anyone's eyes.

Buffy narrowed her eyes, watching the girl stare off into nothingness. A dark bruise covered half of Faith's right eye and the blonde had to keep herself from scoffing out loud. She'd probably gotten that black eye in a catfight with some other bitch just like her. Her life had just crashed to the ground and smashed into a thousand pieces; she had to marry this girl and she had no choice about it. It reminded her of hearing about those arranged marriages in other countries and she groaned. She looked at Xander and sighed at her friend, who hadn't stopped staring at Faith since she'd walked in. Apparently he didn't care one bit that the girl had insulted him, all he cared about was that she was hot.

"Well at least all the guys will be jealous," Buffy mumbled to herself and let herself sink deeper into the seat, groaning again. Her mother had meanwhile struck up conversation with Faith's parents, a conversation she couldn't have cared less about. She continued to watch the brunette girl, trying to get used to the idea that soon she'd actually be married to her, when suddenly Mef popped out of the ground, literally.

Pretty much everyone except for Faith jumped as the guy came up from the ground, some curls of smoke lingering about him and he looked at everyone, then smiled. His shirt had been buttoned, the tie was tied and he was wearing a black jacket as well. He brushed off some dust off of it and stepped closer to everyone, then raised his hands into the air, "Let the games begin!"

*****

Faith shifted her weight onto her right foot and yawned. After all she had been the one to travel hours to get to this stupid town and then, of all things, marry this stupid girl. She couldn't believe that at all, she had definitely expected a guy. Not that she minded girls, either one was absolutely fine with her. And the blonde was kinda cute, not the type she'd usually go for, but still cute. If she just didn't have such an attitude.

They both stood, side by side, watching as Mef straightened out his suit again and smiled at them. Their families were standing somewhere behind them, not that she cared too much about her parents. But she didn't want to get married, she knew that much. She couldn't be in a relationship for more than a week, how was she supposed to spend the rest of her life with someone she couldn't stand?

Mef was fiddling with some papers and eventually looked up at her parents, waiving them over, "Jeff, Amy, you will have to sign this in order for Faith to be able to get married." Faith barely glanced at them, only wondering when the devil had gotten to a first name basis with her parents.

"Won't I have to sign something as well?" Mrs. Summers asked timidly and Faith glanced at Mef who only smiled. The brunette came to the conclusion that he didn't possess any other facial expression.

"Ah, no Joyce…Buffy's old enough to consent herself. This is just a parental consent form that has to be signed for anyone under 18 to marry," he replied, never once looking up as he pointed out to her parents where to sign. Faith grumbled, they hadn't even hesitated to write her off.

"You're not 18?!" the blonde exclaimed and Faith turned to look at Buffy's face, then grinned. Well, at least she got to aggravate the blonde.

"Nope, I'm 16. Got a problem with that…honey?" the brunette asked sweetly and suppressed a chuckle as the blonde only groaned.

*****

She was close to running away, it seemed like every minute she was receiving another shocking blow. Faith was 16, she was like a little kid. Buffy would be married to a goddamn High Schooler, and although the blonde realized that should probably be the least of her problems she couldn't help but care. She sighed and threw a glance at the clock on the wall. It'd been almost ten hours since she'd found out about the stupid pact and she wished nothing more than to go back in time and prevent this from ever happening.

Mef had ordered them to stand here, they were just waiting for his preacher or something to perform the stupid ceremony. Willow and Xander had somehow been declared witnesses and Buffy was more than glad that at least her two friends were here. It made her feel less alone. She glanced at the brunette girl next to her and noticed for the first time how tired Faith looked. And if the girl hadn't acted like such a bitch to her earlier, she might've actually felt some sympathy. But Buffy also knew that she'd pretty much started off in bitch-mode and if they had to be together they might as well be civil. Taking a deep breath, she stood a little closer to the other girl and nudged her gently.

"Hey," she whispered as brown eyes met hers and Buffy even managed a small smile, "I just wanted to say I'm sorry for acting like a bitch. I've just been very stressed over this all day, it was nothing against you."

Faith raised an eyebrow at that and the blonde sighed, "Alright, well I'm just not into girls. Are you?"

"I like boys," Faith responded, knowing Buffy's question was only meant to bring a point across and not to really be answered, but she did like aggravating the girl, "and girls."

This time it was Buffy's eyebrow that went up and she smiled weakly, not knowing what to say. Sure, Faith looked like one of 'those' people, but it kind of creeped her out. Although her best friend was in a relationship with a girl, Buffy still felt a little different about being married to someone who might like her THAT way.

"Oh and by the way," Faith interrupted her thoughts and grinned at her, "I don't really think you're ugly. You're actually pretty cute."

Buffy stared at her, then turned her head away and took a deep breath. She heard Faith chuckle and shook her head, apparently the girl had a knack for aggravating her. Just as she was looking for an appropriate response, another cloud of smoke appeared in the room and a guy shot up out of the floor in front of them. This time even Faith jumped slightly and they all stared at the guy who was wearing a long robe. Buffy eyed him suspiciously, she wasn't stupid, she had a good clue who this was. Mef clapped his hands excitedly and walked up to the preacher, while looking at the two girls.

"Let's get started…girls," Mef nodded and stood next to the preacher who motioned for them to clasp hands. He wrapped a band around their hands and was just about to start, when Buffy interrupted him.

"Isn't it illegal for girls to get married?" she tried as a last way out and sighed in defeat as Mef shook his head.

"Nope, perfectly legal. Now, stop trying to waste time."

Buffy took another deep breath and kept quiet, knowing that if she didn't she might say something she'd regret. But she knew she wasn't the only one that was nervous, she could feel the other girl's hand shaking ever so slightly as it grasped hers tightly. The blonde stared ahead, looking at the preacher who was getting ready to start.

"Dearly beloved, We are gathered here today to celebrate one of life's greatest moments, to give recognition to the worth and beauty of love, and to add our best wishes to the words which shall unite Buffy Anne Summers and Faith Spencer in marriage. Should there be anyone who has cause why this couple should not be united in marriage, they must speak now or forever hold their peace," the preacher spoke in a monotone voice and Buffy wanted to leave or fall asleep. She would've spoken up, but she wasn't sure if you were allowed to 'show just cause' yourself and since no one else cared to speak up she kept quiet.

"Buffy and Faith, life is given to each of us as individuals, and yet we must learn to live together. Love is given to us by our family or by our friends. We learn to love by being loved. Learning to love and living together is one of the greatest challenges of life - and is the shared goal of a married life."

The blonde heard the other girl scoff and looked at Faith who was shaking her head. The preacher was taking something from Mef and then pulled the band away from their hands as he placed a ring in Buffy's hand. She stared at the golden band that was engraved with intriguing designs and then frowned. She just wasn't ready to get married at all, marriage was for old people or people who were madly in love.

"Buffy, do you take Faith to be your Wife? Do you promise to love, honor, cherish and protect her, forsaking all others and holding only unto her, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer?" the preacher asked, looking at her and the blonde hesitated. She could always say no, she'd only kill two bloodlines, but at least she wouldn't have to marry. A little voice inside her head was telling her to say 'no', simple as that.

"Buffy…," Mef's voice interrupted her and she glanced at him with a miserable look on her face. She turned to look at her mom who gave her a pleading look that said to just do this and they'd get through it somehow. She sighed and looked back to the preacher.

"I do," she mumbled, a sinking feeling settling in her stomach.

"Then repeat after me…With this ring, I thee wed," the preacher responded, indicating for Buffy to put the ring on the other girl's finger.

She eyed it for a second, then took Faith's hand and slipped the ring onto her finger, who looked at Buffy and smiled weakly, "What, no diamonds? I'm appalled."

The blonde smirked slightly, then took a deep breath and repeated the words the preacher had just said, "With this ring, I thee wed."

The preacher repeated the vows for Faith, who agreed a lot quicker than Buffy had and finally gave her the ring, which she slipped onto Buffy's hand. The brunette looked at her, repeated the statement with a sigh and they both faced the preacher, hoping that this would at least be over soon.

"Buffy and Faith, in so much as the two of you have agreed to live together in Matrimony, have promised your love for each other by these vows, the giving of these rings and the joining of your hands, I now declare you to be wife and wife. Congratulations, you may now kiss the bride."

They both stared at each other, not sure what to do and then looked at the preacher who just shrugged. Mef walked up to them, the smile on his face had faded a little and he gave each of them a nod to go ahead, "You heard him…kiss the bride. And none of that 'peck on the cheek' crap. Come on, now."

Buffy swallowed and then glared at him; now she was definitely convinced he'd wanted his own private TV-show with a same-sex couple to drool over. She scoffed and leaned up, pressing her lips to the brunette's quickly and pulled away to look at Mef. At least it was over. She could finally go to bed, sleep and pretend this had never happened. The blonde turned to walk away, but was stopped by Mef's voice, that indicated he was back into a full smirk.

"Not so fast, cutie…you forgot something."

"What?" she asked, tired of this whole situation and especially of the creepy guy named Mef.

"Your wife," he grinned, pushing Faith towards her slightly.

"What?" she asked again, feeling way too tired to be bothered with his little games.

"Oh, that's right. You didn't get to hear my guidelines yet. Well, let's sit down and discuss…I've sure got some surprises for you, girls!"

PART 4

He was staring intently at the brunette girl and heaved a sigh. She was definitely a hottie, maybe a little young and all, but drool-worthy nonetheless. Xander looked at Buffy, who seemed to either be on the brink of insanity or about to fall asleep. He was still a little shocked at the whole revelation of that weird pact ever since Buffy called him earlier. Especially because he didn't know what this meant for his friend, what were to happen to her now that she was actually married. He just couldn't get over that fact; two beautiful girls, married and him in the middle. Xander smirked and tried not to drool thinking about the possibilities.

The weird guy Mef had made them all sit down back in the living room to listen to some stupid guidelines. It was very apparent that Buffy had no intentions of listening and Faith was as good as asleep anyway. Maybe that was the way Mef had planned, they'd get shocked twice, once now and then again in the morning when they'd wake up to find out again. Xander watched in mild interest as Mef pulled out a scroll of parchment, unrolled it and threw a look at the two girls who were sitting on the sofa next to each other. Everyone else had situated themselves somewhere around them, but Mef's intense gaze had kept them from sitting on either side of the two.

"The following will be the rules instigated by me, and therefore breaking them will result in severe penalties. There are no exceptions or excuses in any cases and any offense will be under my discretion…"

*****

Buffy rolled her eyes and crossed her arms, knowing it was no use to try and stop Mef from talking. He'd find a way to make her listen either way and she figured it was probably better to get it over with. She was dead tired and she had class tomorrow, there was no way she was going to be able to listen to her teacher talk about the traditions of countries she'd never even heard about if she didn't get some sleep. Mef was looking at his scroll of parchment after having read that cute little introductory paragraph and she wished he'd just hurry up. For some reason the guy enjoyed wasting time like no one else.

"Rule number 1: You are, under no circumstance to engage in sexual activities with anyone other than your wife," Mef finally read and the blonde stared at him open-mouthed. If the whole marriage thing hadn't been pushing the point, this was definitely starting to be too much. She looked over at Faith who was even more upset than Buffy and seemed ready to interject, when a glare from her dad silenced her completely.

"Rule number 2: It is strictly forbidden to have any life-partners outside your marriage, this includes boyfriends, girlfriends or 'friends with benefits'."

Buffy opened her mouth, she was getting pissed now. What was she supposed to tell Riley? She couldn't just tell him that she'd gotten married to some girl and was dumping him for her. But instead of giving her a chance to say something, Mef held up his hand to silence her and continued.

"Rule number 3: Under no circumstances can the content of the pact and these guidelines be revealed to anyone that is not currently present in this room. If you have boyfriends, girlfriends, friends or family that need to be notified of the situation you will tell them nothing except that you are married, any story you wish to make up is fine by me," Mef read and looked up, making sure they were still listening. This whole pact was working out way better than he'd ever suspected.

"Rule number 4: If you both choose to consume the relationship, that is engage in sexual activity, the possibility presents itself to me to impregnate one of you. The child will be a biological offspring of the both of you, I merely have the discretion to choose when and whom," Mef smiled, knowing that especially this rule would be far from their liking. True, at the moment neither of them was thinking much about having sex with the other, but he could only hope.

Buffy shook her head and wondered how the hell he came up with this crap. She wasn't old enough to get married, let alone have a child with someone that acted like one herself. Not that she was ever going to have sex with Faith anyway, so that rule wasn't exactly a problem. She sighed and hoped there weren't too many other messed up rules.

"Rule number 5: To be in compliance with the pact you both have to sleep in the same bed every night, unless special circumstances arise in which case you both will have to sleep under the same roof. In case of certain activities that require one of you to sleep at a place away from the other, you will notify me and I will decide whether an exception can be made."

Mef tried not to smirk too broad, it'd just piss them of more. But he'd been waiting to notify them of this rule ever since he'd written them and by the looks on their faces he could tell it was worth it. Buffy looked about ready to protest once again and Faith had gotten up and was close enough to his face for him to feel her breath on his skin.

"You gotta be fucking kidding me! I don't do sleepovers, buddy. And if you've forgotten, we live a couple thousand miles apart, kinda hard to get in the same bed, don’t'cha think?" Faith hissed and he just chuckled, knowing it'd piss her off even more.

Buffy watched the other girl get up in his face, wishing she could do the same herself, but she feared the outcome. Mef probably wasn't going to hurt her or anything, but she had a feeling there was a rule or two left that would give Faith her answers. And Buffy really wasn't ready to hear those, nevertheless though she stood up as well and took Faith's arm to pull her back. She knew what was coming and she could just get it over with, somehow hopefully. So she pulled the brunette girl back down onto the sofa, giving her a look that told her to just shut up and turned her attention back to Mef.

"Aww look Faith, you're already whipped," he quipped and chuckled as Buffy had to hold the other girl from jumping up and going after Mef. Shaking his head he looked back down at the parchment and moved on to the next rule.

"Rule number 6: To enable Rule number 5, you both will move into a house I will provide on neutral grounds. Both your families will be moved into the same town and if you wish anyone else to come along that was present here today I will arrange for them to move as well. The town has been picked out by me and you are not allowed to move into another town, house or state. You will work at the jobs I provide you with and go to the schools I tell you to."

"School? I'm not going to school!" Faith protested, rather weakly though and Buffy rolled her eyes. She was married to a 16-year-old High School dropout who had a knack for everything trashy. Holding up his hand to stop anyone from interjecting again, Mef moved on to the last point on his parchment.

"And lastly, Rule number 7: You cannot kill, maim or injure your wife in any form, nor can you get a divorce. This is more a safety clause than anything else," Mef finished, rolling up the parchment and threw it to Buffy, who caught it and stared at him, "that's yours, don't lose it. Well girls, it's been nice but I got some other business to tend to. I will be back in a few hours with the information about where you're going to live. Try to get some sleep and…don't forget to follow the rules."

He grinned, stuffed his hands in his pockets and vanished on the same spot the preacher had stood on earlier. Buffy let out a huge sigh and rolled her eyes, she was still too fed up to really understand what was going on. Standing up slowly, she stretched, then looked over to her two friends who looked just as tired as herself. The blonde walked over to her mom, who immediately gave her a hug that surprised Buffy, but she remembered what she'd meant to ask.

"Uh, mom…what's gonna happen now?" the blonde asked, feeling at a complete loss to the situation and looked at the people in their living room.

Joyce rubbed a hand across her forehead and followed Buffy's gaze with a sigh, "Well, I say we all should get some sleep and see what's going on tomorrow. You are all welcome to stay here, of course. Willow, Xander I don't want you guys going home at this time of night; and Faith, uh…I guess you will have to stay if those rules are to be met. Mr. And Mrs. Spencer, you too are welcome to stay, I have a guestroom that I could get ready…"

"That won't be necessary, thank you. We were provided with a motel room locally and I think it'll be a better idea if we head there, come back here early morning," Jeff Spencer said and stood up, followed by his wife and eventually Faith, who looked at them wide-eyed.

"You guys can't leave me here!" she shouted, walking after them as her parents headed for the door.

"Faith, don't be ridiculous. You're old enough to be by yourself, not to mention that we're not your legal guardians anymore, you've got someone else now," her mom spoke as if she were talking to a little child and followed her husband to the opened door.

"Uh, just a quick question," Buffy interjected, stepping up next to Faith, "that guardian wouldn't be me, right?"

"Of course it is," Amy responded, shaking her head.

"Don't I need to sign something to consent to that?!" The blonde wasn't even sure she still cared, after all everything else had already gone wrong, why not have this happen, too?

"Uh, Buff…you did sign," Xander interrupted and Buffy narrowed her eyes in confusion.

"I did?"

"Yeah, the marriage contract. When they told you to 'sign here'," the boy explained, making little quotation marks in the air and shrugged as his friend only groaned. Buffy couldn't believe that she'd actually thought there were going to be no more surprises. But now she had to actually be responsible for someone else, she had to be grown-up. And that thought scared the hell out of her; enough to make her not even notice Faith's parents leaving and everyone else retreating towards the stairs. When she finally snapped out of it, her mom and sister had already left for bed and Willow and Xander were waiting for her to say something.

"Sorry guys…uh, I think we definitely should go to bed. Will, Xander you guys know where the guest room is, you can use that. Faith, you come with me," Buffy finally spoke and her two friends nodded, eager to get to bed, but the disappointed look on Xander's face didn't evade her.

"What is it Xander?"

"Nothing…I was just hoping I'd get to sleep in your room," he tried to suppress a grin as they all walked up the stairs, knowing his two friends would probably roll their eyes at him anyway.

"Why?"

"Why do you think? Two hot chicks, together in bed…can't miss that!"

And as he had predicted correctly, both Buffy and Willow rolled their eyes at him, right before the redhead pulled him into the guest bedroom. The blonde stopped in front of her bedroom door and turned to look at the younger girl, who was still standing at the top of the stairs, looking like a lost puppy. Sighing inwardly, Buffy realized this wasn't going to be easy at all and she walked over to Faith, taking her arm and pulling the girl with her gently into her room.

"I'm gonna go change, if you need some clothes to sleep in there's some in the bottom drawer. Feel free to take whatever side of the bed you want, I think it'll be big enough for both of us," Buffy said softly as she shut the door and watched as the brunette nodded. Taking her pj's, the blonde headed for the bathroom to get changed. When she walked back into her room she found Faith looking at some of the pictures on Buffy's dresser. The brunette had changed into short shorts and a tank top so tight it made Buffy feel like she herself couldn't breathe. Realizing the older girl had entered the room, Faith turned around quickly, throwing a weak smile at her and shrugging.

"I didn't wanna just get into your bed. I don't usually sleep in other people's beds, I feel weird," the girl admitted and watched as the blonde walked over to her bed, sitting down on it.

"You don't sleep over at a friend's house, or in the same bed with your boyfriend, well or girlfriend?" Buffy asked, feeling slightly confused at the girl's confession.

"I don't really have friends you'd want to get that cozy with and…I don't do relationships. Too much hassle," Faith shrugged and Buffy sighed, knowing this whole thing was going to be extremely hard. She motioned for the brunette to get in bed and slid over to the other side.

As Faith slowly climbed in bed next to her the blonde pulled up the covers and whispered 'goodnight', before she closed her eyes. She'd had a feeling that falling asleep would be hard, but this was worse than she'd expected. It was different sleeping in a bed with Riley, she knew him, but she didn't even know Faith. She could feel the other girl's warm skin pressed softly against hers where their arms and legs were touching and Buffy sighed. Well, she could at least try to sleep and hope tomorrow would be only half as bad.

PART 5

She woke up to darkness and cold air touching almost every part of her body. Groaning, Buffy reached for the blankets in the darkness to pull them back up, but as she finally found them something kept her from actually pulling on them. Remembering that she wasn't alone in her bed, the blonde sighed and turned onto her side to look at the other girl who was probably hogging the blankets. Her eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness and Buffy saw the younger girl had slid down the length of the bed, her head about level with Buffy's abdomen and she was half-lying on the covers. Sighing, the blonde sat up, not sure whether she should wake the other girl but figuring that her health was more important than Faith's sleep could ever be.

She reached over and touched the other girl's arm gently, not wanting to be completely rude. But as soon as her hand came into contact with Faith, the younger girl shrunk back, wincing at the touch and Buffy pulled back. She wasn't exactly sure what to do, she wanted her blankets back but she didn't really want to freak out the other girl. Sighing again Buffy decided that she'd really rather have her blankets and put her hand on Faith's shoulder, shaking her gently.

"Faith, hey…wake up," she mumbled softly, hoping to get the other girl to wake up. But the reaction she got was definitely more than unexpected and Buffy watched in slight horror as the younger girl writhed under her hand as if to get away and started whimpering.

"Please don't…don't hurt me…I won't do it again, I promise," the brunette whimpered and Buffy pulled her hand away quickly. She didn't want to cause anyone nightmares, although she had a feeling it didn't matter that she'd tried to wake the girl. Buffy just wanted to shake off the thought that something seemed wrong, that maybe Faith wasn't just having a bad dream. But she was way too tired to actually care beyond a certain point, so the blonde leaned closer to the girl's face and called out her name a little louder this time.

"Faith! Wake up!"

Brown eyes stared into hers immediately, the remnants of deep sleep and something resembling fear still evident in them. Faith stared at Buffy in confusion, until the blonde pointed at the younger girl's location in the bed and raised her eyebrows as an indication. Rubbing a hand across her forehead, the brunette sat up slowly and let Buffy lift the covers over her body again, then moved up in the bed, lying back down next to the blonde.

"Did I wake you?" she asked quietly, staring up at the ceiling as Buffy grunted happily about getting some warmth back into her body.

"Well, not really…the cold woke me. Why you ask?" the blonde responded, snuggling deeper into her blankets. She figured that this way she might be able to get something out of the other girl.

"Just…wondering. I get nightmares sometimes."

"So you had a nightmare? What about?" Buffy inquired, thinking that maybe she should stop. She was walking on thin ice, she didn't know much of anything about the girl and here she was asking questions that might be very personal.

"Nothing," came the soft reply and the blonde figured she'd better give up. But some little voice inside of her wouldn't let it go.

"You seemed pretty damn scared of nothing then," the older girl said softly and regretted it as soon as she heard the sharp intake of breath next to her.

"It's none of your business," Faith spoke between clenched teeth and turned her back to the blonde, ending the conversation.

Buffy sighed, feeling only slightly bad for asking. After all, she'd have to sleep in the same bed with this girl for the rest of her life, not that she wanted to think about that. It couldn't hurt to know what was causing Faith's nightmares and maybe do something about them. After all Buffy didn't want to lose sleep over the other girl's problems. Closing her eyes again the blonde fell asleep quickly afterwards, void of any dreams.

*****

Buffy turned around with a groan and went to slap her alarm clock, until she realized that she hadn't been woken up by her alarm. Blinking her eyes open carefully, she groaned again as bright rays of sunlight infiltrated her vision and she sat up. Facing her nightstand she tried to see what time it was, but her clock only showed four happily blinking zeroes. Buffy let a slight whine escape her lips and brought a hand to her forehead, realizing that the power had once again reset her clock and by now it was probably well into the day. Trying to climb over the brunette's sleeping body, the older girl almost managed to crash onto the floor.

"This day is starting out great!" she groaned and grabbed some clothes to get changed.

As she finally made her way down the stairs and into the kitchen, Buffy couldn't have congratulated herself any more for making the understatement of the year. Sitting on a barstool in the middle of HER kitchen, holding a cup of coffee while reading the Sunnydale News was Mef. He looked up at her as she walked in and smiled his trademark smile.

"Hey Darling, sleep well?" he asked in a voice that was way too chipper for her liking and the blonde mumbled something incomprehensible, before pouring herself a cup of the coffee sitting readily brewed on the counter.

"What're you doing here?" she asked grumpily, clutching the cup tightly in her hands as she stared at him in sheer disbelief.

"Is that the way to talk to your friends, Buffy?" Mef smiled sweetly and turned to face her, putting the folded newspaper down on the counter in front of them.

"No, of course not. But that's why I can talk to you that way," the blonde responded in a very blithe tone of voice and gave him a look that might've convinced anyone else that she really believed what she was saying. Mef, however, chuckled and set down his cup as well, then pulled out a thick envelope from the pocket of his light-blue, silk shirt. Pushing aside the newspaper he rested the envelope in front of him and looked up at her, the smile gone from his face.

"As soon as you get your wife and both your families we can discuss what I'm doing here."

Buffy stared at him from over the edge of her cup and pouted. Usually waking up late and missing classes meant a full day of laziness, but Mef just had to remind her that her life wasn't all peaches anymore. No, she had a goddamn wife, of all things. Grumbling, the blonde set down her cup, threw a look at Mef and walked around the counter to go find her mom. And as she was leaving she could see the smile spreading across the guy's face slowly, like the sunrise, and it was just as annoying.

*****

"So, what's in the envelope?" Xander asked eagerly, knowing that it was his duty to ask the questions no one else was blunt enough to take on.

"That, my friend, you will find out in a few minutes," Mef responded and smiled at the boy, then glanced around the room at the people that had once again assembled despite their clear discomfort. Faith's parents had arrived not shortly after he'd sent Buffy to find the others and Joyce Summers had returned with Dawn (who'd been happy to announce that she was 'legally' skipping school) from the grocery store only a few minutes after that. Now they were just waiting for Buffy to return with Faith, who didn't seem to be a morning person, or afternoon person as it was the case.

Finally the two girls trudged down the stairs, Buffy with a little more bounce in her step but also with the more aggravated expression on her face. The brunette was still half asleep, not even having bothered changing from the outfit she'd slept in, which of course led Xander to experience a near heart attack. He felt his mouth open against his will, yet no sound escaped and he hoped he wasn't going to openly drool in front of a room of people. As the blonde and brunette sat down on the sofa next to him, the light swat on the arm he received from Buffy made him snap out of his trance.

"Xander, stop staring at my wife," Buffy spoke, hoping that everyone else would realize it was a joke meant to tease Xander and not to show any protective tendencies she might feel towards the other girl. But there was no response from anyone, except Mef, who cleared his throat and sat in the chair across from them, holding the thick envelope in his hands. After looking at them intently for a few seconds, he finally started.

"Well, as I promised last night, we have to discuss what's going to happen, now that you two sweethearts are married and all," he smiled at each of them in turn and Buffy couldn't help but roll her eyes. "This envelope contains about everything you will need." He threw the envelope to Buffy, who caught it easily and looked at Mef suspiciously before opening it.

First she pulled out a bunch of plane tickets, one for each of them and as she looked closer she realized they were one-way tickets to Palm Beach, FL. The next documents were, as far as she could tell, housing deeds and the lease to some apartment, then a credit card with her name on it and info on some bank account that seemed to be in her name as well. Buffy narrowed her eyes and looked up at Mef, who, of course, was grinning like a fool.

"There is no way I am moving to Florida, you hear me? I'm sick of your games, I really am! As if it wasn't enough that we had to get married and listen to some dumb rules, but now you make us and our whole families move across country? I don't think so! I'm not doing anything you say, in fact, why don't Faith and I go get a divorce?" Buffy was getting angrier with every word she said and she'd gotten up, getting close enough to Mef to try and intimidate him. Meanwhile someone had taken the documents from her and they were being passed around as everyone, except for Faith who was pretty much asleep, looked at them to understand what the hell the blonde was ranting about.

"This is why not," Mef responded, any smile wiped off his face and before Buffy even had a chance to register what was happening, Dawn was lifted into the air by his hand on her throat. He held her there as if she weighed no more than the newspaper from earlier and the blonde could see the terrified look her sister was throwing at her.

"Don't think I won't kill her. I know what you're thinking, that no matter if I'm quick and strong I don't have the will to kill her. Well, guess what little girl, I don't care what happens to your sister here, your family. But I'm sure you do, and that's why you're gonna be a good little girl and sit down and you will do what I say," Mef spoke quietly, yet his voice was stern and for the first time since meeting him Buffy felt something like fear enter the back of her mind.

She stepped back and dropped into the sofa next to an alert Faith, the whole incident having woken even her up. Mef glanced at Buffy before slowly lowering Dawn to the ground and the girl clung to her mother crying, gasping for air. Now Buffy had no more doubt that he was the devil and she sighed in defeat. She didn't want anyone harmed, not physically anyway. But there had to be a way out of this stupid marriage thing and she was so going to find it.

"So," Mef smiled, wiping his hands on his shirt and this time his grin did nothing but send shivers down her spine, "where were we?"

"Florida," Buffy mumbled sourly, "we're moving to Florida."

"That you are darlings. Tomorrow in fact. And as you can see, everything is ready for you to move in. The plane leaves at 10 am tomorrow morning, I'm sure you'll all be ready."

"10?! You mean I have to get up early?" Faith exclaimed and Buffy almost winced at the sound of her voice, having completely forgotten the brunette was even alive.

"Yes my dear, but it'll get you ready for school," Mef responded with a smile and Faith groaned, crossing her arms over her chest. Then he turned to Xander and Willow, still smiling and Buffy wanted nothing more than to wipe that damn grin off his face.

"And you two…there's a plane ticket for each of you, as well as a nice place to stay. I'm sure Buffy would like you to accompany her, but you are not obligated."

Willow frowned slightly and shrugged, turning to look at Buffy then back at Mef, "What about my girlfriend? Can Tara come?"

Mef raised an eyebrow, staring at the redhead intently for a few seconds and then smiled, nodding eagerly as he put a hand on the witch's shoulder, "Sure she can, I will get everything ready then?" Since no one objected, except for Buffy of course, Mef waved his hand and vanished in a cloud of smoke, leaving everyone once again feeling awkward.

And Buffy wondered if they'd declare her insane were she to start tapping her heels together.

PART 6

The wind was picking up quickly, whipping strands of hair around her face and the girl shifted her weight onto her other foot. Throwing a quick glance at the clock on the building next to her, she sighed and tapped her foot lightly. He'd promised her he'd be here and now it was almost 9 with no sign of him. Buffy brushed the hair away from her face and turned to look in the other direction, having no idea where Riley would be coming from. Then she felt a soft hand on her shoulder and she turned, facing her boyfriend with a weak smile.

"Riley, I'm glad you could make it," she spoke softly, hoping to figure out how to tell him that she was leaving.

"Sorry I'm late. Buffy…why did you ask me to come here? Why the airport of all places?" he asked, glancing around them at the travelers carrying way too many pieces of luggage.

"Riley…there's something I have to tell you," she mumbled, looking away. She knew she was about to hurt him and she didn't want that.

"What is it?" Riley and his puppy-dog look and sugary voice were trying to convince her to spill the secret, break part of the pact. So Buffy swallowed and looked at him, knowing she couldn't risk the lives of her family members.

"Something's come up. I…I'm moving to Florida."

"What? Why? What's come up, Buffy? Is your mom alright? Dawn?"

The blonde girl sighed, he just had to go all nice-guy on her. What was she gonna tell him now? She couldn't just tell him the truth, could she? Well, at least as much of the truth as she was allowed to tell.

"No…they're fine. It's…Riley," she sighed again, rubbing a hand across her forehead, "I…I'm married. And no, it's not what it sounds like…the marriage is…our families arranged it…like…like a money kinda thing."

"You're married? To some guy you don't even know?" Riley's voice was a little louder and a little harsher and Buffy winced. She wasn't sure whether this meant that she'd broken the pact, but she really hoped not.

"Of course I know the person I'm married to….and…this is just temporary. Like I said…a…a money thing," Buffy ran a hand through her hair and tried to calm down. Could she say anything more stupid than that?

"So…you're rich now?" the boy asked, obviously confused and the blonde tried hard not to roll her eyes.

"Ah no…listen Riley, I gotta go. I promise I'll call you soon, alright?" she supplied, smiling softly at him and leaned up to press a quick kiss onto his lips.

She turned around and started walking in the direction of the terminal with a sinking feeling in her stomach, not daring to look back even once. She knew Riley would still be standing there, looking like a lost puppy.. Sure, she wasn't even sure if she loved the guy, but he'd at least had potential. Much unlike the girl she was MARRIED to, for god's sake. Groaning, she entered the airport hoping the others hadn't boarded without her or else she might have to stay. And then she realized that maybe that wouldn't be such a bad idea, right before she bumped into someone else.

Looking up Buffy sighed as she realized that out of all people at the airport she'd managed to walk into Faith, who was currently actually smiling at her. Looking to the girl's right, the blonde saw Xander, grinning like a fool and Buffy hoped desperately that the two hadn't been getting it on in some bathroom.

"Candy! Want some?" Xander breathed excitedly, as if he'd been running for too long or just been extremely shocked. Buffy lowered her gaze down to both their outstretched hands that were offering her all kinds of chocolate bars and gummy worms anyone could ever want. Raising an eyebrow she looked back up at them and chuckled incredulously.

"Don't worry," Faith shrugged as she saw the look Buffy was giving them, "Mef paid. I swear, that guy must be loaded."

Buffy sighed and shook her head, following the two towards the chairs they had been waiting at for their plane to board. She figured that her day couldn't really get any worse, knowing full well that by thinking that she had probably just made this the hell of all days. Letting herself fall into one of the chairs next to Dawn, who seemed just as excited about the candy as Xander and Faith, Buffy closed her eyes and waited for the plane to board.

*****

Mef was tapping his foot impatiently and frowned as he took another drag of his cigarette. Looking down at the little stick in his hand he shook his head and then shrugged. It seemed to be wasting time anyway. He glanced at his watch, knowing that he couldn't exactly plan to the second where airplanes were concerned, but he just couldn't help getting angry at the fact that they weren't here yet. His own little puppets in his own little world.

He grinned at the thought and brought the cigarette back up to his lips, deep in thought. Some of his buddies, if he could call them such, had a hard time understanding the purpose of the pact and it made Mef wonder once again why he was the only guy around with a brain. He hadn't made those dumb farmers sign a stupid pact just to help them out, of course he had anticipated a situation better than any soap opera playing itself out right in front of his eyes. Although he only had limited ability to look into the future, he had known that by the year 1999 arranged marriages were, at least in the Western world, pretty much extinct and frowned upon. But the added bonus of having both of the last children be girls, well he couldn't have planned it better. And he had to admit that, albeit him hoping this would be the outcome, he had been surprised to find out his wishes had been granted. Not to mention that both girls were definitely good looking.

Glancing out the glass windows he sighed and then looked back at his watch. They were definitely late. Not that it was their fault, but he loved to aggravate the two girls. And they fell for it so easily. Which meant he was going to have a fun time ordering them around in the future, making them do stuff they didn't want to do, giving them new rules they absolutely hated. Mef wasn't as evil as some people might've said he was, he was just extremely bored. People nowadays were all corrupt, and with this new corruptness the standards for getting into heaven had been lowered tremendously. Although that didn't mean that there weren't enough lost souls in his care, he was just extremely sick of their whining and begging. Mef wanted real life for once, for it to unfold before his eyes and change with the flick of his finger. And he had done a pretty damn well job so far, now he just had to see how far he could take it.

Seeing the plane had finally landed he stood up and walked to the Arrivals section, the cigarette still clinging limply to his lips. He'd promised them this morning that he'd be waiting here, not that they would've kept him to this promise, and show them to their respective living quarters. Mef had been able to tell that Buffy, who was definitely the most suspicious, was fearing the worst, for all of them. She probably thought they were going to live in a trailer with no running water or electricity. And that was the part where she didn't really know him at all, not that she knew him in any other aspects. Mef liked to live luxuriously, and although he didn't wish to make their lives that easy, he'd been sure to seek out an appropriate town and house for the two girls, as well as their families and friends. He knew they wouldn't be disappointed. The house was far more than Faith had probably ever dreamed of and it was just as good as the one Buffy had been living in.

Mef smiled as he saw the blonde girl come towards him, her face a mask of aggravation and fatigue. He had been sure to buy both Xander and Faith enough candy before their departure to give every single passenger in the plane a sugar rush, and from the look on Buffy's face they had eaten all that candy, too. She stopped right in front of him, looked at him sternly for a few seconds and then narrowed her eyes.

"Since when do you smoke?"

He was taken slightly aback by the question, not only because he wouldn't have expected that to be the first thing out of her mouth, but also because he had completely forgotten about the cancer-stick in his mouth. Shrugging, he took the cigarette and flicked it into a nearby trashcan, then smiled at her.

"I don't. It seemed like a good idea at the time."

Buffy rolled her eyes and turned around as both her mom and Dawn came walking up behind them, followed closely by Xander, Tara, Willow and Faith. She smiled weakly at her friends and threw a look at the brunette, who'd managed to make her plane trip even more miserable by falling asleep on her half-way through. The girl smiled apologetically and the blonde turned back around to Mef.

"So, where are we gonna be living?"

"I'm glad you asked, my dear. The town's called Jupiter, I'll be taking you there now," Mef responded with a smile and put a hand on the girl's shoulder.

"Cool! I'll be able to say I'm from Jupiter then?" Xander exclaimed and received seven incredulous stares.

Mef shrugged his head and pointed towards a large cab. He watched as they all loaded their luggage into the car and he followed them into the cab. This was gonna be so much fun, he thought.

*****

She was almost deeply sunken in her thoughts. Except that she really didn't want to be thinking. She was tired, near a bad mood and starving, since her getting up so damn early had made her fall asleep on the plane and Buffy hadn't bothered to wake her up when they were serving fake food. Faith knew she didn't hate the girl, in fact the blonde was kind of growing on her. Although she'd only known her for about two days, the girl was nice enough most of the time, which was more than she could say about most other people she knew. Including her parents.

And speaking of them, her parents had conveniently convinced Mef to let them get their own cab and go to their house without everyone else. Not that she really wanted them around, but at least she knew them. Sort of anyway. Now she was the odd girl out, everyone else was in this tight-knit group of friendship or a family member of someone in this tight-knit group. Either way, Faith knew she was ignored and that usually would've been alright with her, however, for some unexplainable reason, she didn't want that anymore. She knew that Buffy would find out about her past eventually, especially when sharing a bed and the thought didn't scare her as much as it should've.

Faith wanted a normal life, or as normal as it could get, and as much as she did complain about the pact, maybe it was her ticket out of hell.

*****

Buffy looked to her side and stole a quick glance at the brunette girl. Faith looked genuinely unhappy and for some odd reason Buffy actually felt a pang of guilt about that. They were married after all, maybe she should try not to ignore her. But the blonde shook her head, figuring if Faith wanted to be included she'd do something about it. Although she had a feeling that reason she was ignoring Faith was because she didn't know how to handle the girl. It wasn't as much the bad girl attitude and overtly sexual looks, as it was the cries and pleas that escaped the girl at night against her will, the way she shied away from comforting human touch. Buffy wasn't a complete moron, at least she liked to think so, and she had taken a Psyche class before. The way Faith disliked her parents, the nightmares, the fear of physical contact, the bruise the girl was still sporting under those sunglasses all added up to something Buffy wasn't sure she wanted to get into. It wasn't her right. But it wasn't right if someone was hurting the girl and Buffy had never been one to walk away from someone who needed help. Faith was no different.

Before she got a chance to say something to the girl, the car stopped and Buffy leaned past Faith to look out the window. What she saw actually made her speechless.

"Home, sweet home my darlings," Mef drawled and opened the door for them.

PART 7

To say that it wasn't what she had expected at all, would have been making a major understatement. As Buffy climbed out of the cab, one of her hands lightly resting on Faith's shoulder, as if she expected the house to jump over and attack them, she was completely stunned. In front of them stood a small family home, with a porch and white picket-fence, New-England style, with a brand-new car in the driveway. It looked new and expensive, which was more than the exact opposite of what she had been fearing Mef would make them live in. She stepped up to the pathway, then turned back to look at the guy questioningly.

"Are you kidding me? Is this another one of your cruel jokes?"

Mef chuckled shortly and then spread his arms, "Nope, this is it. Number 169."

Buffy stepped forward towards the house and stared at it in disbelief. It wasn't that this was the nicest house she'd ever seen, but the fact that it was actually hers and she'd be living in it, even if she had to share it with Faith, was amazing. Although she wasn't quite sure whether Mef wasn't planning something, there had to be something he was doing to make this nice house seem like hell to them.

"Alright, what's the catch?" she asked sternly, facing him with crossed arms.

"No catch, well not on the house anyway. It's paid for, furnished, neighbors are nice supposedly. All you need is a job to pay for expenses of course, but you will find all documentation inside, along with information about the job I got you and on Faith's school," Mef smiled, then handed both of them their bags and gave Buffy a set of keys as if she'd just won the lottery.

"Well come on Buff, let's go check out your pad!" Xander grinned and was just about to follow his friend, when Mef stopped him.

"Ah, not so fast my friend. I still have to show all of you where you're going to live, here in this neighborhood of course. But I'd appreciate it if there was no contact between everyone until tomorrow, just to make sure everyone has a chance to get settled, alright?"

Xander shrugged, looked at the blonde and heaved a sigh. She smiled at him, telling him it was okay and to go check out his own place, before he went back into the cab. Mef grinned at the two girls and followed Xander, leaving Buffy and Faith standing in the middle of the pathway completely by themselves.

"Well, let's go check this out," Buffy sighed, leading the way to their new home.

*****

"What the hell is that?" came the voice from behind him and he almost winced. Almost. Turning his head barely he threw a glance at the much shorter man that had walked up next to him and then looked back to the screen in front of him.

"It looks like a TV," the man continued and took another step forward, about to touch the screen, when Mef's hand pulled him back harshly.

"That, my dear idiot, is what I like to call Buffy-and-Faith-vision," Mef spoke, trailing off into his trademark grin.

"Huh?"

Mef ran a hand through his dark hair and rolled his eyes. Why was he doomed to work with morons? Turning around completely he walked over to the comfortable-looking sofa standing a few feet from the screen and sat down with a sigh.

"It's like a soap opera, made especially for me. With this 'TV' I can track every movement Buffy and Faith make, inside or outside their home. It even allows me to switch between them or view both of them at once!" He chuckled, still amazed that he had managed to come up with such a fabulous plan.

"Do they know about that?" the other guy asked and walked up next to Mef once again.

"Duh! Of course not, what do you think I'm stupid? If they knew they would act and I don't like actors. They're all so…fake," Mef responded, then narrowed his eyes as if in deep thought. After a few seconds he looked up at the man smiling and patted the empty space next to him. "Come Orcim, how about we watch the first episode? It's just starting."

Orcim sat, reluctantly at first, but then relaxed into the soft cushions. He watched the dark-haired man pick up the remote and push a few buttons, then winced as the picture on the Wide-Screen TV came to life and an exasperated voice rang through the empty room. Turning his head, he stole a glance at Mef who was grinning broadly, and Orcim decided to maybe pay attention to the 'soap opera'.

On the screen they saw the blonde-haired girl, basically flying down a flight of stairs towards the living room of the home, where the brunette was watching cartoons. The blonde seemed angry and Orcim couldn't help but find this whole thing damn fascinating. Mef had been right, but he still had some questions on his mind.

"Uh, Mef?"

"Yes, Orcim?" Mef spoke between gritted teeth. His girls were just about to have their first fight, he really didn't want to miss it.

"Well, you said, if they broke one of those rules you'd punish them. But how would you know if they broke one? You can't really sit here and watch them 24 hours a day."

Mef heaved a sighed and turned to face the man for a few seconds, then returned his gaze to the TV, "This isn't just a normal TV, it records all their actions and analyzes them. If they break a rule it'll notify me, or if it THINKS they broke one, I'll know. And now, shut up…I wanna watch this."

Orcim leaned back into the cushions, knowing now was not the time to bother the other man, and watched the show.

*****

She was angry, maybe even furious. Not just at the fact that Faith didn't listen to anything AT ALL, but also that she now felt like her mother. She didn't want to be a nit-picky old woman who complained to her children that they never appreciate her and never clean their rooms. With a heavy sigh she reached the bottom of the stairs and stood there for a few seconds, looking at the brunette incredulously. Faith was sprawled on the large sofa, watching cartoons on the big TV and didn't even seem to be bothered by the fact that Buffy was angry.

"Faith!" she snapped and this finally got the other girl's attention. The younger girl turned her head, throwing the blonde a confused look.

"What?"

"I thought I told you to unpack your stuff. You just threw it into a corner and left it there!" Buffy came to a stop in front of the other girl, her hands on her hips and she hadn't looked so angry Faith would've laughed. So instead she settled on narrowing her eyes and shrugging.

"So? It's not like I don't have time to do it later. And I don't even have that many clothes. If I started in an hour I'd still be done before you."

Buffy growled, surprising even herself at how angry she'd managed to get at such an unimportant thing, but she pointed at the stairwell nevertheless, "Go now! I doubt you'd want to be grounded before school even started."

"You can't ground me, you're not my mom," Faith spat back, getting angry herself and she stood up, using her slight height advantage to try and intimidate the other girl.

"I don't see your mom here, Faith! I can't imagine why she'd want to dump you in someone else's care in the first place!" Buffy yelled back and as soon as the words slipped out of her mouth she realized that maybe that hadn't been the smartest thing to say. She watched as a quick flash of hurt raced across the younger girl's face, which was quickly replaced by a mask of indifference, before she walked away towards the staircase.

"Faith…," the blonde tried quietly, but Faith ignored her and ran up the stairs, slamming the bedroom door shut behind her.

Buffy followed quickly, trying to open the door, but she found it locked and sighed in despair. Knocking softly she hoped to get at least an answer, but no such luck. "Faith, come on….I didn't mean it like that."

"Yeah?" came the agitated reply, "then what else did you mean to say by telling me that my mom thinks I'm a piece of shit, huh?"

"I was angry, alright? I never meant to say that, I'm sorry. Faith…come on…let me in," Buffy pleaded and sighed as she got no reply. "You gotta let me in sometime…we have to sleep in the same bed, you know that."

A muffled reply was heard after a few minutes and the lock snapped open, allowing Buffy to finally step inside her bedroom. The bed was, thank god, King size and even had a canopy, with two bedside tables on each side of it. The rest of the room contained a large shelf that held only a few of Buffy's books and a cupboard-type thing that held a TV. Buffy was however immensely grateful for the huge walk-in closet that would definitely be able to hold all her clothes. Snapping out of her thoughts she noted that Faith's backpack had vanished from the corner where the girl had thrown it originally. Heaving a guilty sigh, Buffy turned her head to look at the brunette, who was sitting on the right side of the bed, already wearing her sleeping attire, her arms crossed.

"I'm taking this side," she stated simply and Buffy sighed again, shrugging.

She walked into the closet to find her pajamas and shook her head in despair. They'd been living together for less than 12 hours and they were already barely on speaking terms. She just hoped that she could get the other girl to warm up to her eventually.

*****

Buffy stared ahead, gripping the wheel tightly in her hand. The silence was damn near killing her, she just hated it, no matter who it was from. And Faith hadn't said as much as two words to her since they woke up this morning, not that she could REALLY blame her. But Buffy just couldn't stand it any longer, they were living together for god's sake.

"Faith…" she started, trying to find words to say what was on her mind, but the other girl stopped her before she even got a chance.

"Don't." Faith glanced at her only briefly and then turned her head to look out the car window at the passing houses.

The blonde sighed heavily and was glad when she finally saw the sign indicating that they'd reached the High School. She parked the car in one of the spots and turned to look at the brunette, who was clutching her backpack so tightly Buffy thought they were going to melt together into one being. Faith was scared, she could tell easily, and she felt guilty. She'd wanted the girl to know that she could at least trust her, that Buffy would help her if she needed it, and instead she'd gone and done the exact thing Faith had probably expected of her.

"I'm supposed to go talk to the principal as well. We can walk there together," Buffy suggested and climbed out of the car. She watched as Faith walked around the car, her backpack slung onto one shoulder and gave Buffy a look.

"Are you sure you even want to be seen with me?" the girl asked, raising an eyebrow and Buffy had to take a deep breath to not lash out at the obvious facetiousness of the brunette.

"I don't go here," she answered simply and started walking towards the school building.

"Just your luck," Faith mumbled and followed the blonde to the principal's office.

*****

She sat in the chair feeling as nervous as she could remember ever being. Her and principals just didn't get along, for some odd reason they always thought she was a troublemaker. Especially that little weasel Snyder, he'd just tried so hard to get her into trouble. Lucky for her this visit wasn't actually about her, she wasn't the one having to go to this school. Buffy watched intently as the principal sat down in his chair across the desk from her and folded his hands neatly on the table before looking at her.

"Mrs. Summers," he began and Buffy cringed. She just couldn't get used to being called by what should've been her mom's name. But she reprimanded herself to pay attention to what the principal had to say, she didn't really want to be here and maybe she'd get out quicker if she listened.

"I understand that you and uh…Faith expect your uh…union to be recognized and accepted but…how do I say this…this school frowns upon its students being married, especially underage ones. We advise against it, it's basically school policy and we generally don't approve of marriages. Not to mention that this is a special case, same-sex marriages, are in fact, not particularly accepted."

"What are you trying to tell me?" Buffy asked, narrowing her eyes. She knew what he was getting at and she couldn't believe it. It was probably a good thing she wasn't actually in love with Faith, because then she would've gotten pissed beyond belief that he'd undermine her love.

"Well…uh…unless you want Faith to switch schools, maybe a nice private school in the area…we'd greatly appreciate if your marriage was not revealed to anyone else in this school. I know you are her legal guardian and I respect that, but in cases were you have to assume that role I think it'd be better for everyone if you acted as Faith's sister, something of that sort. I hope we understand each other with this," he continued and Buffy could feel her blood practically boiling. He was telling her to lie, to pretend she wasn't married to another woman. And years ago she would've gladly played along, but now…her best friend was in a loving relationship with another girl, she herself was married to a girl whom she didn't want to deny. So she did the only thing she could think of. She stood up and got angry.

"Whoa, wait a second there, Mister. What gives you the right to tell me that my marriage doesn't count? That the love between two women doesn't equate to the love of a woman and a man? How would you even know? Unless you're in love with a man, I don't think you have any right to tell me what my marriage accounts for. I didn't get married to have people like you tell me I need to hide it, that it isn't right. And if you ever suggest such a thing again, if you just as much as think about telling either me or my wife that we have to hide and pretend we're not married or else we won't be accepted…well, I'm sure the lawyers would line up around the block to represent me when I slap a major discrimination suit on your ass! I hope you have a nice day," Buffy spat out the last part and grabbed her purse, walking straight out the door and not looking back. She couldn't believe what she'd just done. Yelling at a principal…but it had felt greatly exhilarating. She was finally in a position where the principal was more afraid of her than she of him. But it wasn't like the bastard hadn't deserved that.

Taking a deep breath to calm herself down, Buffy started the car and shook her head. She'd definitely have to tell Xander about this, he'd love the story more than her. But first she had to go to her job, something she was dreading more than anything. Mef had gotten her a job with an environmental planning agency and Buffy could've sworn that the little bastard somehow had gotten his hands on those damn test scores back for that stupid Career Day thing. She was at least grateful that he hadn't signed her up to be a cop, Buffy didn't think she could stand eating donuts all day. Driving towards her new job she hoped that her day would get better, that her life would end up being at least tolerable.

PART 8

Buffy smiled fakely and pushed a strand of perfectly blonde hair behind her ear. The silence was more than uncomfortable and she couldn't think of anything to break it. Leave it to her mom to make horrible conversation during a time like this, Buffy knew her mom wouldn't pass up the opportunity to torture everyone seated at the table with questions they rather not answer. And she wasn't disappointed.

"So, Faith," Joyce started, figuring it'd be a better idea to ask questions about the person she knew the least about, "how's school?"

The brunette looked up, raised an eyebrow and shrugged, "It sucks."

Joyce sighed and smiled forcedly, then turned to her oldest daughter, "Buffy, how's your job going?"

The blonde considered giving an answer similar to Faith's, but she didn't want to give her mom a heart attack by leaving the dinner in silence, "Well, it could be worse I guess. You know…environmental planning sounds like such a sophisticated thing and then it's really just a whole bunch of immigrants mowing lawns!"

Faith snorted at the comment, remembering when she had come home after Buffy's first day of work and the blonde had been really shocked at the fact that environmental planning wasn't what she had expected it to be. She looked up at the blonde and smirked, receiving a pout from the older girl. Apparently Buffy remembered as well and that meant she probably hadn't forgotten Faith making fun of her because of her naivety. They'd managed to get along over the past few days, no more outbreaks and harsh words, which was definitely a good thing. Faith felt comfortable around another person for probably the first time in her life and she was glad it was Buffy; the blonde seemed to be one of the nicest people she'd ever met and Faith couldn't help but almost feel thankful for that damn pact.

The silence was broken by Dawn dropping her chopstick on the floor and as everyone turned to look at her she smiled nervously and bent down to retrieve it. Buffy shook her head at her sister's clumsiness and surveyed the table with a frown. Her mom had invited Faith and her over to dinner, so of course Buffy had accepted since she wasn't exactly a natural in the kitchen and her mom's dinners were usually wonderful. But when they had gotten here, Buffy had realized that her mom had unpacked less of her stuff than she herself had. Boxes were still stacked in the living room, the walls mostly bare and the kitchen cabinets empty. Joyce had greeted them with a smile and set the table with paper plates, announcing that the food would be here in just a few minutes. Buffy almost groaned at the memory, she had wanted real food, not Chinese take-out, but as she watched Faith she figured that coming over for dinner might not have been such a bad idea after all. The brunette was eating whatever Joyce put on her plate and that wasn't exactly a small amount.

But she still couldn't figure out why her mom had invited them if she hadn't even unpacked the plates yet. Usually Joyce hated to entertain guests when her house wasn't impeccable, it made Buffy wonder.

"Uh mom…Can I talk to you in the kitchen for a sec?" she asked, looking at her mom expectantly who nodded and followed Buffy.

"What is it Buffy? Is something wrong?" the older woman questioned her daughter, a worried tone in her voice.

"No, everything's fine. I'm just surprised that you invited us over when you haven't even unpacked. What's up mom?"

"What, I can't invite my daughter over for dinner?"

"Mom, come on. I've known you for a while," Buffy smiled at her mom, who sighed and looked at her.

"Well fine…I just wanted to see how everything was going. Find out a little bit more about my…daughter-in-law. How are you guys getting along?" Joyce asked, once again a hint of worry in her voice and Buffy shrugged, leaning back on the barstool.

"To tell you the truth, I don't know much about her either. She's a good kid, dark secrets though, that I'm sure of. I just hope I can get her to open up; I kinda want to actually get to know her. But we're getting along fine," the blonde responded and narrowed her eyes as she watched Faith getting friendly with her food, stealing some chicken off Buffy's plate while Dawn wasn't looking.

"I'm glad everything's alright, Buffy," Joyce smiled at her and walked back into the dining room, followed closely by Buffy.

The blonde sat at the table and looked down at her plate, smirking at the lack of chicken and looked up at the brunette, "How's my chicken, Faith?"

Faith looked up and gave her a confused look, then broke out into a full grin, stabbing a chicken-laden chopstick into the air, "Five by five, girlfriend."

*****

The images on the screen flickered across the girl's face quickly and she chuckled with a shake of her head. At first she'd been skeptical of this movie, but upon Faith's plea she had rented it after all and now it was turning out to be funnier than she'd first expected. Sure, it was still some stupid, brain-numbing teen-flick, but Buffy couldn't exactly complain; she was enjoying herself nonetheless. The blonde stood up slowly, her eyes watching the younger girl sitting on the floor and she nudged the brunette with her foot until their eyes met.

"You want a drink?"

Faith looked at her, then grinned mischieviously, "Sure….something hard. On the rocks. Please?"

Buffy scoffed and shook her head, "Funny Faith. How 'bout I get you some little kiddie juice, huh?"

She received a swat to her leg, before walking into the kitchen to get herself another drink. Buffy was glad they were getting along, at least it wouldn't be totally uncomfortable in the house. And even sleeping in the same bed didn't bother her as much, especially since the bed in their house was way larger than her old one. Taking a sip from her glass, she stifled a yawn and walked back into the living room to watch the rest of the movie.

*****

They watched through the living room window intently, set on finding out something that would satisfy their minds. But to their dismay everything was quiet in and around the house across from the one they were currently occupying. The woman turned around with half a frown on her face and clasped her hands together tightly.

"What are we going to do?" she asked, her voice clipped and agitated. She hated not knowing what was going on.

"Well…I'm not so sure. Looking at the contract on the house didn't give us much info. I still think there must be a mistake. We're going to have to resort to plan B," the other woman answered, looking at her three friends and they all nodded.

The four of them moved back over to the table, staring at a bunch of copied papers. It was the housing contract for the house across from them, the name Buffy Summers written neatly on the line for the owner of the house, next to it the name of her supposed spouse, Faith Summers. The women shook their heads, not quite sure whether someone had made a mistake there or not. Not to mention that they were more than curious by now about their new neighbors. It had been almost two weeks, longer than they usually waited to resort to Plan B, but it had taken a while to get that contract.

"Alright, Mary and Kelly, you two go over there. I've got the cookies in the kitchen. Find out whatever you can, look around!"

The two said women grumbled, but quickly made their way to the door with the cookies, walking across the street to house # 169, while their friends watched eagerly at the window.

*****

Buffy was almost skeptical as she heard the doorbell ring, wasn't quite sure whether she had heard right. But as she opened the door her suspicions were confirmed there actually were people on her doorstep. She smiled brightly, knowing that this had to be the neighborhood troop, she was thankfully familiar with their methods. Her mom used to have a habit of going over to new neighbor's houses with friends to scout out who they were and what they were like. Buffy doubted these women were any different.

"Hi!" she announced a little too excitedly and the two women smiled back, smiles they had probably practiced a thousand times before.

"Hello…I'm Mary and this is Kelly. We just came over to welcome you to the neighborhood," the blonde woman said and held out a plate with cookies to Buffy.

"How nice of you! I'm Buffy, why don't you come in? Can I offer you something?" Buffy thought her face was going to rip apart from how wide her smile was and she hoped her nervousness didn't show through. These types of women gave bonus points for being invited in.

"No, thanks. We can't stay long anyway," they both smiled and stepped into the house, looking around immediately for anything that might provide great gossip. And of course, they had to see what kind of woman this blonde girl was anyway.

"So, what does your husband do? Must be a busy man, we haven't seen him around."

Buffy's smile faltered for only a second, as she tried to think of something to say that wouldn't give away the truth. She wasn't going to lie, she'd feel bad about that, but she didn't exactly have to spill the truth.

"Ah…school. You know, getting a good, proper education," the blonde explained nervously, but the women seemed to buy it.

"Good for him. It's a shame that so many young people choose to get jobs instead of going to college. Do you go to school as well?" Kelly inquired, walking through the living room to look around. Sure, this house looked like the one she lived in, same model and all, but there had to be something incriminating lying around.

"Uh no…I work, as a secretary…sort of. But I plan on going back to college…after I earn some money, you know how it is," Buffy smiled uncomfortably, noting that it was already shortly after three and Faith would be there soon. If she could just get rid off these women before then, then everything would be alright.

"How interesting. So when do we get to meet your hubby?" the other one questioned and stepped into the kitchen, amazed at how clean it was, very much unlike what she had expected. She turned with a smile towards the blonde girl, who now stood in front of the kitchen bar with a very nervous smile on her face.

"I'm not quite sure. I'm still not too familiar with the class schedule, but I'm sure it'll be soon?"

Mary was about to say something else Buffy was sure would've caused her only more discomfort, when the front door burst open and the blonde could hear Faith enter, throwing her backpack into a corner of the living room, "Hey honey, I'm home!"

She wasn't even sure if her facial expression could still be considered a smile, Buffy felt like frowning for all intents and purposes. The two women looked skeptical at her, as if they were expecting her to share some deep, dark secret and then looked at Faith who entered the kitchen almost ceremoniously. The brunette saw the two women standing in the kitchen, their clothes and the way they stood as if they were better than everyone else and had to suppress a groan. The way Buffy was wound up, Faith could tell this was probably the 'Neighborhood Watch' coming to 'welcome' them and she shook her head. She grinned at them and nodded a greeting, then walked past the blonde girl towards the fridge. As she passed Buffy she slapped the other girl's ass, in plain view of the two women and opened the refrigerator.

"What's for lunch, baby?"

Faith almost swore that she heard Buffy make a funny noise resembling a dying animal and the two posh women looked at each other before smiling fakely again.

"Well, it was nice meeting you, Buffy. We will see you around," one of them said quickly and they both left quicker than Faith could've hoped for. As the door shut behind them, the blonde collapsed onto one of the barstools, throwing a disparaging glance at the younger girl, who only grinned.

*****

The car door slammed shut and the blonde stepped onto the sidewalk rolling her eyes at the sight that greeted her. She walked up to the steps in front of the school and looked down at the form before her. Faith was stretched across the stairs, her head resting on her backpack in the shade from one of the trees and she was either asleep or very close to it. Glancing at her watch, Buffy realized that she was kind of late and almost everyone had left the school grounds already, except for a few girls sitting at the top of the stairs, watching her intently. Throwing them a look, the blonde leaned down and nudged the younger girl in the side gently.

"Faith…come on, you can take a nap at home," she mumbled at the girl, poking her in the arm, but the brunette only grumbled and tried to turn around. Buffy sighed and pulled the backpack out from under the girl's head, cringing as Faith's head hit the concrete stairs and she opened her eyes with a menacing look.

"Hey! Couldn't you have been a little bit gentler? Ow!" the brunette groaned and sat up, rubbing a hand over the back of her head.

"I tried. I'm sorry, though. But if you're not too gravely injured, I was planning on taking you out to dinner," Buffy smiled apologetically and offered her hand to the other girl, who took it and stood up with a reluctant expression on her face.

"Where to?" Faith asked as she picked up her backpack and turned to face the blonde. From the corner of her eyes she could see a couple of girls pointing at them and suppressed a groan, taking the blonde's hand to lead her towards the car.

"Well, I was thinking…the California Pizza Kitchen?"

"Really? I always wanted to go there!"

Buffy smiled and got in the car, acting mildly surprised that she had picked the right place, but she had known after all. Faith had told her and probably just forgotten, but Buffy was glad she could make the other girl happy with something as simple as taking her to dinner. Grinning at some joke the brunette was relating, the blonde left the school to head towards the restaurant.

*****

"Oh look it's Faith, the teenage house-wife."

She closed her eyes tightly and took a deep breath, knowing it'd be better to ignore anything those bitches could have to say. Grabbing her English book from her locker she stuffed it into her backpack and slammed the locker shut. But as she turned around she was faced with the same three girls that had been watching her and Buffy yesterday, standing too close for her to just walk away.

"Hey Faithie," the blonde girl smiled and quickly looked at her two friends for approval. Faith clenched her teeth and closed her backpack, gripping the straps tightly in her hand. The blonde girl in front of her was apparently waiting for a comeback, or something similar stupid, while the redheaded girl to her right was moving from foot to foot as if she couldn't stand still. She was grinning like the cat that ate the canary and Faith wanted nothing more than wipe that grin from her face.

"Sarah," the brunette simply stated, looking at the blonde questioningly.

"We saw you and your WIFE yesterday. She looked like a great, big airhead, didn't know you liked those types. Maybe it just makes you feel better since you're the stupid kind, huh?"

"Yeah! Like everyone else at this fucking institution!" the redheaded bitch added and Faith rolled her eyes, feeling the anger rise and she tried to push it down.

"Whatever," she squeezed out and tried to push past them, but a hand on her arm stopped her and Faith turned again to face Sarah.

"Come on…I bet you agree with me. She seemed like a real bitch. She probably orders you around, huh? Like a dog!" Sarah laughed in unison with her annoying friends and Faith yanked her arm away harshly.

"Shut up!" she hissed, feeling like a total idiot for not coming up with anything better.

"Why?! Is she gonna whip you when you get home? I bet you like being her bitch, too!" The three of them laughed again, but this time it was abruptly cut short by a squeal of pain resulting from Faith's fist connecting harshly with the blonde girl's jaw. The girl fell against the lockers, staring at the brunette in shock before she started crying. Faith stared back at her, mouth slightly open in shock at first, then her lips curled into a smile. She had just enough time to raise her arms before the third girl's open hand came sailing at her. Faith was knocked off her feet and onto her back by the redhead who'd jumped at her and had to gasp for air right as a fist hit her squarely in the eye. Before she had a chance to yank out the hair of the girl on top of her they were being pulled apart by two teachers.

"You're going to see the principal, young ladies!" one of them announced in a deep voice and Faith scoffed, yanking up her backpack to let herself be pulled to the principal's office. She just hoped he wouldn't be completely pissed, if he ended up calling Buffy…Faith was afraid of what the blonde would think and say.

*****

Buffy couldn't believe it. She'd gotten a call from the principal to pick up Faith because the girl had managed to get herself suspended. Her boss hadn't exactly been ecstatic to let her leave in the middle of the day, although she had promised she'd return as soon as possible. Opening the door to the Administration Office, Buffy walked inside towards the secretary's desk and told her what she was here for. The woman smiled briskly and pointed towards the office of the principal, where Buffy headed at once. She knew that slimy man was going to probably give her a speech as principals liked to do, but she was in a hurry. As she stepped inside, she saw the principal sitting behind his desk as if he were superior to every other being on the earth and Faith sitting in one of the uncomfortable chairs across from him, her head lowered.

"Mrs. Summers! Hi," he announced, standing up to shake her hand and then turned towards the brunette girl, who meanwhile had looked up. Buffy slightly cringed at the purple bruise forming around the girl's eye, but told herself to pay attention to this man she couldn't stand.

"I'm so sorry to have bothered you, however I have no choice but to send Faith home. She got involved in a fight with some other girls and she should be glad I've decided to be so lenient as to only suspend her for two weeks. I hope that will teach her a lesson and we won't have to repeat this."

Buffy rolled her eyes, nodding at him. Yeah, she agreed to some part, she was pretty damn pissed herself, but that still didn't mean she liked him. Running a hand through her hair the blonde took a deep breath and realized why she was so angry. The fact that Faith had already gotten in trouble before they'd even been there for a month and the realization that she was feeling like her mother must've years ago. She felt responsible for the girl and therefore felt like she'd done something wrong.

"Yeah, I understand…of course. I'll take her home. Thank you," she smiled as warmly at the man as she could muster and threw a look at the brunette that told her to get her ass up and follow her. And Faith did without saying a word, neither of them speaking during the car ride back to the house.

*****

"What the hell were you thinking? Do you just wanna mess up both our lives before we've lived here long enough to have any?" Buffy yelled as soon as the door shut behind them and let her purse and keys drop onto the table loudly.

She watched as Faith stood in between the living room and dining room, looking like a lost little puppy, "I dunno. I was angry. I'm sorry."

"Sorry? You're sorry? Oh that's great…that'll make everything alright! Being angry is no goddamn excuse, Faith!" the blonde continued, walking closer to the other girl, who avoided meeting eyes.

"They were treating me like I was shit. I just lost my temper," the younger girl offered, brushing some stray hair behind her ear, still not looking at the blonde's face.

"Well, apparently they had some reason to treat you that way. God, if I lost my temper every time someone pissed me off I would've beaten you senseless by now!"

Faith looked up at her, eyes widening before she closed them tightly and then opened them, smiling bitterly, "You know what...I think maybe they were right. You are a bitch. Next time someone insults you I'm gonna join in before trying to defend you. And here I thought you were different." The girl scoffed, shaking her head and crossed her arms as she walked past Buffy, the tears spilling from her eyes just as she made her way upstairs. Locking herself in the room they sort of used as an office, she sat in the office chair and closed her eyes as more tears came spilling out.

Meanwhile Buffy stood speechless, not having moved in the few seconds since Faith walked out and wondered how she managed to fuck up every time.

PART 9

She sighed as she ascended the stairs slowly, hoping there was a way she could show the other girl how sorry she was. No matter the reason Faith had gotten into the fight, Buffy knew she had been harsh anyway. But considering the girl had been defending her, although probably the wrong way, Buffy felt horrible. She'd been trying without success to earn back the girl's trust over the past few days, to convince Faith that she wasn't really a bitch.

Opening the bedroom door the blonde stepped inside and watched the brunette for a few seconds. Faith was lying on the bed, watching some boring ass sitcom, her eyes half-closed and Buffy smiled at the sight. She knocked on the door and the younger girl sat up quickly, looking at her as if she were expecting the worse.

"Hey," Buffy mumbled, walking over to the bed to sit down on the side of it. When Faith didn't respond, she decided to continue, "I got you something. I figured maybe you'd wanna see?"

Faith narrowed her eyes and turned onto her stomach, her legs resting against the headboard lazily, "You can't buy my love."

"I'm not trying to buy your love."

"My trust. Whatever," Faith responded, her eyes glued to the TV as if this were her favorite show.

"I'm not trying to buy anything. It just seemed like you were getting bored here, all day by yourself, so I went to some store and told some guy who worked there that I wanted to buy something for my wife that'd take her mind off of being mopey and bored," Buffy explained, leaning back on her hands as she watched the brunette.

Faith turned her head towards her slightly, "You didn't say that."

The blonde smiled, raising an eyebrow, "Oh? You should've seen how fast he moved when I explained to him that my cute wife was a couple years younger than me so I had no clue what she would like."

"So what'd he say?" the brunette asked, damning herself for being too curious, knowing that Buffy had probably won her over.

"Well…he said videogames. So I trusted him on that," Buffy shrugged, suppressing the smile that wanted to spread across her face at the younger girl's expression.

"You bought videogames? You do know that you need something to play them with?" Faith pointed out and couldn't help but smile at the way the blonde pretended to be completely confused.

"Yeah, I realized that, too. But the guy was nice enough to provide me with everything I'd need to make my wife happy, he said."

"Yeah, right," Faith snorted, sitting up however and facing the blonde eagerly. "Soooo?"

"Well, come on," Buffy smiled, getting up off the bed and offering her hand to the other girl, who eventually took it and followed her downstairs. Faith bounded over to the living room, where Buffy had left all the boxes she'd come home with and the brunette was immediately unwrapping everything.

"You like? They only had it in black, but it's your favorite color anyway, right," the blonde asked, pointing at the PlayStation 2 game console sitting on the carpet surrounded by boxes, Styrofoam and plastic wrapping.

"It's awesome. Thanks," Faith smiled and gave the blonde a hug that surprised them both, then looked at the older girl suspiciously.

"No buying my trust, right?"

"Nope," Buffy grinned and shook her head, "just your love."

Faith scoffed, grinned and turned back to the boxes to hook up the console.

*****

The room was filled with the noise of guns going of, people dying and some eerie kind of music that made mostly everyone uncomfortable. So the blonde walked over to the living room, searching through the sofa cushions for a remote and turned the volume down to a minimum.

"Hey!" came the immediate reply from the floor and Buffy looked down at the brunette girl and guy sitting in front of the TV, game controllers clutched tightly in sweaty hands.

"What? You're not deaf, Faith!" the blonde responded and shook her head at the grumbled reply, then walked back into the dining room to help her mother clear the table. This dinner at her mother's house had been by far a better experience. Not only had her mom actually cooked and used real plates, but she'd also invited Willow, Xander and Tara to come over as well. Buffy had missed them. Sure they all even lived in the same community, but with work and making sure Faith didn't get herself into any trouble, she had barely had time to spend with them.

"You girls go sit down, Dawn can help me with the dishes," Joyce nodded at them and Buffy shrugged, throwing a triumphant look at a complaining Dawn, and followed Willow and Tara into the living room. They sat on the sofa, watching in slight distaste as Faith and Xander continued blowing each other up on the screen.

"Hey Red, Blondie…come on you guys gotta play, too!" Faith smiled and turned around at them, holding out two controllers to them that they took reluctantly.

"I don't know…I'm no good at this. How 'bout you Buffy?" Willow asked, holding her controller out to the blonde, who only grinned and shook her head, "Nu huh, no way. She always kicks my ass at this game."

"Blondie is on my team!" Faith announced and received confused stares all around before she shrugged, "It's always the quiet ones who kick ass at these games."

Tara blushed slightly, yet took the controller and sat on the floor next to Faith. Seeing her girlfriend join in, Willow heaved a sigh and sat next to Xander, hoping she wasn't going to make a complete fool of herself by playing. Within seconds the brunette had started another game and was chasing Willow's frightened character through some tunnels, causing the redhead to squeal every time a bullet almost hit her. As Faith was about to lose her in the labyrinth of tunnels, another figure stood in front of Willow's and shot her in the head, causing her to die. Faith turned her head towards her teammate with a smirk, while the redhead stared in shock first at the screen, then her girlfriend.

"Go Blondie!" Faith laughed and high-fived Tara.

"Tara!" Willow said exasperatedly, she couldn't believe that the blonde would kill her.

"Sorry honey…but it's just a game?" Tara responded, smiling, turning her attention back to the game.

Buffy watched with a grin on her face as Faith and Tara practically slaughtered Xander and Willow's characters, wondering how the brunette had known that Tara would be good at this game. The squeals of her best friend and triumphant laughs of her wife almost made her want to join in. Almost.

*****

"Hello?" the girl answered her cell phone, checking her watch to see how late she was for her next meeting.

"B?" came the voice through the other end and Buffy narrowed her eyes, checking her watch again. It was almost three, Faith should've been on a bus home from school. Why would she call?

"Faith…is something wrong?"

"Nope. I just wanted to ask you something?" Faith said and Buffy could've sworn she heard someone giggle in the background.

"Go ahead. What is it?" The blonde was slightly worried, she had no idea why the brunette would call her.

"Uh…is it okay if I go with Will and Tara to dinner? They came to school to pick me up," the younger girl answered and the blonde shook her head with a smile. She couldn't believe she'd actually gotten kind of worried.

"Yeah, of course. I'll just get something for me on my way home from work. When're you gonna be home?" Buffy asked, surprising herself by actually asking a question like that. But then again, she was responsible for the younger girl and couldn't just let her wander around town until early morning, especially since it was a school night.

"I don't know. I'll see ya later, B!"

"Faith! You better be home by seven or I'm gonna come find you!" Buffy warned and heard a sigh from the other end, indicating that at least Faith had heard her.

"Alright…Later," the girl responded and seconds later there was nothing, so the blonde put her cell phone away and shook her head again. Ever since that dinner at her mom's over a week ago, Willow and Tara had made it a point to come over a lot and visit them, play videogames with Faith and sometimes they even went out. She was glad that her friends were getting along with the younger girl, it'd definitely make things easier. Sighing, Buffy parked her car and headed to the meeting with her client.

*****

The living room was dark when she entered; a few candles were burning on the coffee table to illuminate the immediate area. She walked over to the sofa and sat down next to the other girl, who looked up as she felt movement next to her. The blonde girl smiled and leaned over slightly to see what the other girl was reading, looking up with a raised eyebrow.

"Poetry, huh? Never woulda guessed," she said softly and watched as Faith shrugged, closing the book to look at her.

"What's up, B?"

"Well, I've got a slight problem. My boss told me today that he wants me to go meet with an important client next week. But I'd be gone for two days or something, it's a business trip, I guess," the blonde explained, watching for a reaction from the younger girl.

"So where's the problem?" Faith asked, brushing some hair out of her face.

"I can't leave you here by yourself."

"Are you serious? I'm old enough to stay by myself. Shouldn't you rather be worrying about what Mef has to say about this?"

"Faith, don't fight me on this. I don't want you staying alone in case something happens, okay? And I already talked to Mef…that guy is like a fly on the wall, you call he appears. Creepy. I was thinking maybe you could stay with your parents?" Buffy asked quietly, cringing as the book in Faith's hands hit the floor with a thud and looked at the girl worriedly.

"No," the brunette squeezed out between clenched teeth and looked away.

"Why not? What's wrong, Faith?"

"Nothing, I just…I don't wanna go there…he'll just do it again," Faith trailed off, then turned to look at the blonde pleadingly, "Please Buffy…can't I stay somewhere else? Like Will and Tara's?"

Buffy sighed, she knew that asking any questions right now wouldn't get her anywhere, and the fear in the brunette's voice had convinced her right away. She'd had her suspicions about Faith's dad from the beginning and the fact that the brunette hadn't seen them once since they'd gotten here had only added to those suspicions. Nodding slowly she watched as relief washed over the younger girl's face, "Alright, but you better go call them and ask. Now."

Faith smiled at her and walked off to find the phone. The blonde picked up the book from the floor and leafed through it, smiling at the fact that the other girl was actually reading something other than comic books. After a couple of minutes Faith came walking back into the living room, wearing a grin that told the blonde everything she needed to know.

"They said they can't wait and I better bring my PlayStation!" the girl announced and dropped into the cushions next to the blonde, still grinning. And Buffy was glad that now she could at least leave town without having to worry about the brunette being okay.

*****

"Buffy!"

She was greeted with a taller body almost jumping on her and laughed as the girl hugged her tightly. She'd only been gone for three days, Faith was exaggerating and they both knew that. But it was cute nonetheless.

"Yep, that'd be me," she smiled at the girl, who only stuck out her tongue and bounced on her toes a couple of times.

"What'd you bring me?"

Buffy raised an eyebrow and looked up as Willow and Tara walked over as well from the living room, smiling as well. The blonde set down her bag and threw her jacket onto the coat rack, before shrugging.

"Why would I bring you something?"

"'Cause! Remember you're trying to buy my love?" Faith explained and looked at her expectantly which only caused the blonde to laugh harder.

"Alright, well I guess then I better give you something," Buffy pretended to think and then opened her bag, pulling out a small box to hand it to the other girl. Faith grinned and bounded away into the living room, while Buffy shook her head and hugged her two friends.

"Hey guys…how was she?"

"Like a 24-hour sugar rush! That girl's got energy," Willow shook her head and grinned at her best friend, as they all walked into the living room to sit down.

"Buff?" Faith asked as the others sat down next to her, holding up a dome-type of thing, "you got me a snowglobe?"

"Well…" the blonde started, but was interrupted by the other girl.

"The snow's brown."

"Actually…that's sand. It's a Florida souvenir thingie…see, it says 'Pensacola Beach, FL'," Buffy pointed out and smiled at the expression on the brunette's face.

"Oh. Cool. I always wanted a sand-globe!" Faith grinned at her and the blonde rolled her eyes, swatting her arm lightly.

*****

He scoffed and rolled his eyes, then set down the glass he'd been holding in his hand. This was getting way too boring, all the happiness and problem-less living of his two girls made him slightly agitated. Seeing them fight and cry and yell usually made him feel better after a day of dealing with complete morons. But now…they were so…cutesy almost. Mef scoffed and hoped he wouldn't choke just from the thought of it.

Standing up he threw another glance at the TV and then looked at the man still sitting on the sofa, with a confused expression on his face, "What's going on?"

"I'm bored," Mef answered and sighed, rubbing a tired hand across his forehead. There had to be something he could do to cause some sort of conflict, pain or fear.

"What're you gonna do?" Lacis asked and leaned his head back to watch his master take care of another problem.

Turning around, the dark-haired man licked his lips in anticipation and picked up his glass again to take another sip before he'd create some trouble. "Just wait," Mef grinned as he disappeared into a cloud of smoke and Lacis saw him appear in the girls' living room. Smiling to himself he realized that now things would get a lot more interesting.

*****

Buffy was sitting on the sofa with a glass of water in her hand, watching Faith battling evil demons on the TV screen, when Mef suddenly appeared out of nowhere next to her, causing her to spill the water all over herself. She groaned, threw him a glance and set the glass down on the table, before standing up. Faith turned her head slightly, rolling her eyes as she saw Mef sitting there with a grin on his face and turned back to her game.

"Why don't you wear a bell or something? Now I gotta change and everything!" Buffy groaned and headed up the stairs, hoping Faith would play her game and not get into it with Mef.

But the dark-haired man was already watching the brunette, still grinning, and after a few seconds of silence he knew what he had to do, "Hey Faith…Faaaaith…"

She scoffed as he called her, refusing to turn around considering she was on the last level before she could save again and didn't want to lose three hours of playing just because of him, "What?"

"Why don't you go get me a drink?" his soft voice floated towards her and she rolled her eyes again.

"Why don't you go get it yourself?"

"That's not very nice of you. You're a horrible hostess," he reprimanded her and she could just imagine him shaking his finger at her as well.

"Fuck off," she replied, barely avoiding a shot from some evil drone.

"Faith…if you loved me, you'd get me that drink. Don't you love me, Faithie?" he grinned, subconsciously aware of Buffy who was already walking back down the stairs, but it didn't matter now anyway.

The controller dropped out of the brunette's hands, clattering to the floor and the character on screen died with a quiet moan on his lips, nothing of which was registering with Faith. Her hands started shaking and Mef had to suppress the laugh that just wanted to bubble out of his mouth. Buffy, who had seen the little scene, was next to the girl within an instant, not even paying attention to him. She rested a hand on the stoic girl's shoulder, but Faith jerked away violently.

"Faith, what's wrong?" Buffy asked quietly and as she got no reply, turned to ask Mef what the hell he did, but he was already gone. Scoffing, she turned her head back towards Faith, who'd meanwhile stood up.

"Nothing," the girl managed to say calmly, but Buffy could hear her voice crack anyway.

"Faith, it's not nothing! I want to know what's wrong. Please tell me?" the blonde pleaded, hoping that she could somehow get through.

"I just wanna be alone, okay?" Faith said quietly and pulled her arm away from Buffy's hand gently, walking up the stairs.

*****

She was woken in the middle of the night by cries and slowly opened her eyes to darkness. Groaning as she was elbowed in the side, the girl sat up, but decided not to turn on the light. Instead she reached over and shook the other girl's shoulder gently, aware of the whimpers her action caused and she sighed. Buffy rubbed the sleep from her eyes and leaned over the brunette, grasping both the girl's wrist to keep herself from being hit and called her name. Faith's eyes snapped open and Buffy could see the pure terror in them, right before the brunette pushed her away with enough force to send her crashing off the bed.

Realizing what she had done, Faith sat up, falling out of the bed as her legs got tangled up in the sheets and moved towards the corner of the room, her eyes never leaving the blonde. Buffy stared at the girl for a few seconds, then jumped up and slowly walked over to her. She reached out for the brunette, who only shrunk away from her, but Buffy stepped even closer.

"Faith…it's okay…it's just me," she said quietly, slowly resting both her hands on the sides of Faith's arms.

"Buffy," the brunette whispered, her voice faltering and Buffy could tell she was trying to hold in the tears. So she pulled the girl closer, wrapping her arms around the slim body and held her as the brunette started sobbing. And she didn't let go, not even when they went back to bed and fell asleep.

PART 10

She unlocked the door and stepped inside the dimly lit house. Closing the door behind her, Buffy walked past the dining room table, dropping her purse and keys on it and continued on to the kitchen. She walked into the kitchen that was more a connection between the living room and dining room and stopped in front of the counter with a smile.

"Hey," she spoke softly, somehow not wanting to disturb the silence that lay like a comfortable blanket on the house. As the other girl looked up from her homework on the counter Buffy's smile widened a little and she chuckled, "I told you, you should wear your glasses more often. You look cute."

Faith gave her an incredulous look, yet made no attempt to take off her glasses, "I thought you didn't go for girls."

Buffy smiled again and walked over to the fridge, "I don't. Which makes the compliment even better, don't you think?"

Shrugging, the brunette swiveled around on the barstool to face Buffy and crossed her arms. She watched as the older girl fished something out of the fridge and then turned around to face her once again.

"So where've you been, B?"

"B? What, are you too lazy to say my whole name now?" Buffy asked, scrunching up her face in disgust.

"Nah, just figuring you'd appreciate hearing your name a couple a times less each day. I mean, do you really like…'Buffy'?" Faith argued, leaning her elbows onto the counter as the blonde walked around it.

"Yes, I like my name, thank you very much…Faith Jenavi Summers," the blonde responded with a smile and grinned as the other girl's eyes widened respectably.

"Who told you my middle name?!" the younger girl managed to squeeze out, her voice considerably higher than just minutes before.

Buffy laughed and leaned closer to her with a smile, "It's on our marriage certificate…honey."

Faith groaned and crossed her arms once again, ignoring the blonde's grin that was still plastered on her face, "Are you ever gonna answer my question? Where were you?"

"I, my dear, was out picking up movies that we could watch."

"Oh! Did you get 'Hannibal'? I really wanna see 'Hannibal'," Faith exclaimed, and the blonde couldn't help but shake her head at how excited the other girl could get at something so simple as a movie.

"Why don't you go look? They're on the table," she smiled and got herself a glass, filled it and walked over into the living room. Buffy could only laugh in response to hearing the other girl yell out in excitement at finding the movie and she settled into the sofa cushions, waiting for Faith to bring the movie. Within seconds the younger girl was kneeling in front of the TV, popping the tape into the VCR and Faith sat down next to Buffy, barely able to mask her excitement. The blonde could only chuckle.

"I figured we could just make those frozen pizzas that are somewhere in the freezer. I don't feel like cooking and knowing you, pizza will be just fine," Buffy suggested and the brunette shrugged, her eyes glued to the TV screen.

"Sure thing, B."

Buffy shook her head, getting up to make the food and walked into the kitchen. She was just about to actually find those darn pizzas when the doorbell rang. Calling to Faith that she'd get the door, not that the brunette had actually heard her, Buffy walked over to the door, wondering who'd come by at this time. It was way past 8, none of her friends would come by this late unless they had plans. She pulled open the door and was completely frozen when she saw who was standing on her doorstep.

"Hey, Buffy."

"Ah…Riley."

*****

It's not like she'd forgotten about him or anything. Well, actually that was exactly it. At the beginning she'd tried not to think about him, figuring it'd hurt too much to think of how she couldn't be with him. But then, with her new life and job and everything, she'd kind of forgotten that he was still in Sunnydale, waiting for her of course. And Buffy couldn't help but feel immensely guilty. After all, this was Riley, he wouldn't cheat on her even if his life depended on it, and they had not actually broken up, as far as she could remember.

And as she looked at him now, standing in her dining room, looking kind of pathetic, she knew she still felt something for him. But she also knew that she could not act on that, that cheating wasn't an option, according to Mef anyway. Riley, though, didn't know that and he deserved an answer. He deserved to be broken up with, as horrible as that sounded. And Buffy had missed him, she had to admit that. Riley was a nice boy, normal, handsome, everything she'd want in a guy.

"Buffy, how are you?" he asked softly, his hand touching her elbow and Buffy wasn't sure what exactly he hoped to get out of this.

"I…I'm fine. Riley, what are you doing here?" she asked, trying to pull away from his touch without him noticing. She just hoped Faith wouldn't hear or see him here, Buffy wasn't sure she wanted Riley to know she was married to a girl. He was pretty conservative and vanilla, after all.

"I came to see you, Buffy. You just left, said you were married. You owe me at least an explanation. I still love you, Buffy, I want to know who took you away from me. Why?"

Running a hand through her hair, the blonde sighed. What was she supposed to do? Part of her just wanted to go with him, run away and never look back. But the other part, the one that controlled her actions, couldn't just leave her responsibilities behind. Not for a man who she wasn't even sure she still loved.

"Riley, it's not that easy. Yes, I'm married and…there's no way around that at the moment. But…I know I owe you an apology and an explanation. Riley, I still have feelings for you, but…," she trailed off, not sure how to explain her situation.

"But what, Buffy? Shouldn't that be all that matters?" he asked, his voice still soft and it slightly irritated her.

"Riley, I…," she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Why did this have to happen now? She'd been happy, her life had been going just fine. Her and Faith had managed to get along, in fact, she could even say they'd gotten close and her job wasn't as bad as she'd first feared. She had great friends and visited her mom at least three times a week, nothing had been wrong in her life. Up until now.

"I'm sorry, Buffy. I shouldn't put this on you. But can't I at least talk to you? Just for a while? We can go back to my hotel room, if your…husband is here, or something."

She looked up at him and nodded after a few seconds. Maybe talking was the best idea; she could try and explain the situation as well as possible. As long as nothing would happen, but she knew it wasn't going to. Riley wouldn't pressure her into it and she herself wasn't going to break the rules. She wasn't going to endanger her family.

"Yeah, I think…that might be a good idea. Let me get my keys, alright?" she mumbled and smiled quickly at him, a smile he returned brightly and Buffy turned. Just as she was about to walk towards the table in the room, she heard someone else enter the room and she turned back around.

"Buffy?"

The blonde cursed inwardly and looked at the brunette girl, who stood almost forlornly in between the dining room and the kitchen.

"Faith?" she responded, hoping her voice wouldn't give up on her now. She was nervous, actually nervous.

"What's going on?"

Buffy grabbed her keys from the table and took a few steps toward Riley, who stood near the door. "Umm…Riley…he came by and…we're gonna go out…have a drink, talk, catch up, you know? I'll probably be back late, don't stay up alright?"

"What…what about the movie?" the younger girl asked and Buffy hated how her voice sounded so damn small.

"You can watch it, I didn't really wanna see it that bad anyway. The pizza's in the freezer if you get hungry," the blonde responded, offered a weak smile and walked towards the door and Riley. She took his hand and pulled him out the door quickly, not wanting to look back.

*****

The darkness fell around her as if it'd known exactly how she felt. Faith scoffed and walked back into the living room, staring at the TV for a few seconds before turning off the movie. Yeah, she had wanted to watch it, but what was the point in doing it all by herself? She'd wanted to spend time with Buffy, not feel like a loser sitting here all by herself. Just when she'd thought that the blonde might actually care about her, that maybe, just maybe, there was a chance Buffy could ever return her feelings, fucking Captain Cardboard came along and took all her chances away.

Faith dropped heavily into the cushions and rested her head on her hands. She'd been living with Buffy for two months and it would've been a lie to say that those hadn't been the best two months of her life. Not only because there was always food on the table or she wasn't being beaten up, but mainly because Buffy treated her like a human being. And therefore Faith just hadn't been able to keep herself from crushing on the older girl. Faith wasn't a relationship-type girl, but she had a feeling that with Buffy everything would be different. They'd already been married for two months, which was longer than any of Faith's relationships had ever lasted.

And now everything they'd built over the past months was destroyed in one single night by that goddamn guy with the girly name. Buffy had told her a lot about herself, including her relationship with Riley, and Faith was now more jealous than she'd ever been. The first person she'd ever thought to actually be able to have a lasting relationship with, and some beefstick came and took her away. How fair was that? They were probably getting all cozy in his hotel room and then have a night of make-up sex.

Faith grimaced at the thought, the way it send waves of jealousy and nausea cursing through her body and stood up. If Buffy could go out and break the rules, so could she. Maybe going out and getting piss-poor drunk would help. And she was sure she could pick up some studly guy, then use him and discard him. No matter that she knew how stupid that behavior was, Faith needed to hide behind her walls, but unfortunately Buffy had taken some of those down. No better way to rebuild them than to fall back into her old behavior.

Getting up, she looked for her keys and pocketed them as she finally found them. Taking off her glasses, she grimaced and ran a hand through her hair, before walking towards the door. What Buffy could do she could do any day. Faith left the house, determined to find a bar with stupid guys that'd get her drunk and give her a night she could easily forget.

PART 11

Dedication: To Liv. One last time.

She stepped inside the house with a sigh of relief and almost wished he wouldn't follow her in. It was 6 am and Buffy was past being exhausted, all she needed was some sleep. Thank god it was Saturday, or else she'd definitely have to miss work. But it had been a good idea to talk to Riley, even if they stayed up all night doing exactly that. And to her surprise, Buffy had not even once found herself wishing she could do more with him, not once wanting to as much as kiss him or have him hold her in his arms. She wasn't sure whether that was a good sign or a bad. But either way, she was too tired to care right now.

"Thanks for bringing me back, Riley…" she mumbled, trying to think of a way to kick him out nicely, when she noticed Faith's stuff was missing. At least her keys and shoes, but that was enough to alert the blonde. Faith never got up before 12 on a Saturday, it was like an unwritten rule. Apparently Riley noticed her look and walked up next to her.

"What's wrong, Buffy?"

She snapped out of her daze and looked up at him, smiling worriedly, "Can ya hold on a sec?" Not waiting for his answer, she headed up the staircase and into the bedroom. The bed was empty, she could tell no one had slept in it, just for the fact that it was still neatly made and Faith didn't believe in making the bed. Running down the stairs she stopped in the living room to find the phone and headed back towards Riley.

"Faith is gone," she stated quickly, now more than glad for having explained to him that she was actually married to Faith and not some guy. Of course she hadn't told him the whole truth, Mef had specifically indicated that the nature of the pact could not be revealed. And she'd never forget the look of disbelief on Riley's face when she'd explained to him that she was married to a girl, the way his lips kind of twitched and he avoided her eyes for a whole minute. And then she had to go over the fact that she didn't actually love Faith, but that they were merely friends now and the marriage wasn't exactly what Riley would understand concerning the subject. Of course that had upset him, since he didn't think Buffy should have to be subjected to unconventional stuff like that and a marriage without love. It had almost made her laugh.

"Where do you think she could be?" he asked, snapping her out of her thoughts and Buffy was for once glad he loved her enough to care, even if he'd said that he wished Faith wasn't around.

"I don't know. I'm gonna try my mom's and Willow's, she's been hanging out with Will and Tara a lot recently."

He nodded and walked over to the door to close it, then watched her intently as she finished her phone calls. Buffy ran a hand through her hair as she hung up the phone for the third time and looked at him in despair, "She's not at my mom's, Will hasn't seen her and I even called Xander, who only complained that it's 6 am and he doesn't even know where his head is, let alone Faith. Riley…where could she be?"

"Buffy, she's not a little kid, I'm sure she's fine. Maybe she just went out for a run or something," he suggested and rested his hands on her shoulders.

The blonde sighed and shook her head, "No…Faith doesn't get up before 12, there's no way. Riley, I think I should go out and look for her."

"Couldn't she just be at her parents'?" he tried again, hoping to talk some sense into the girl in front of him.

But Buffy shook her head vigorously, "No…there's no way she'd go there. She told me how much she hates her parents and how…her dad…he hits her…she wouldn't go there."

"Buffy…" he started, but the pleading look she threw at him made him stop and he nodded, "Alright, but I'm driving."

She followed him quickly out the door, locking it behind her and hoped that she'd be able to find Faith. The blonde wasn't even quite sure why she was so worried, but she figured it was better to be safe than sorry. Getting into the car she silently urged Riley to not waste time by being such a goody-goody and get out there to find the younger girl.

*****

A cold wind caressed her skin and she cursed the weather for about the one hundred and thirtieth time within the last twelve hours. Pulling her knees up to her chest, the girl wrapped her arms around them and rested her head on her knees. It was way past 10 am and she wondered where the hell Buffy was. Probably still with Captain Cardboard, not even wasting a thought about where she was. Faith scoffed and tightened the hold around her legs.

She turned her head and looked at the front door of the house, then sighed. Where the hell was Buffy? Just as she was about to scoff again, she heard a car pull up the driveway and turned her head. Buffy jumped out the passenger side of the car and jogged up the driveway towards her, the expression on her face unreadable to Faith.

"Faith!" the blonde yelled, Captain Cardboard slowly getting out of his car and standing there like a lost puppy and Buffy kneeled on the steps in front of her.

"Faith, where've you been? We looked everywhere for you," Buffy exclaimed, slightly out of breath and the brunette narrowed her eyes as she looked at her.

"Out."

Buffy groaned and shook her head, grabbing onto the other girl's arm tightly, "Why the hell would you leave and not tell me? I was worried! Not to mention that you're not supposed to stay out all night like that!"

"You weren't there for me to tell you! And how come you can stay away all night with beefstick and I'm not allowed?" Faith snapped back and turned her head away from the blonde. She hadn't really wanted to go with that guy, but at the time all she'd had in mind was Buffy and vanilla-boy getting it on. Now she did regret it, especially cause if Mef found out there'd be hell to pay, literally probably.

"Faith, why are you acting like this? And why are you sitting out here?"

"I lost my keys," the brunette mumbled and pulled her legs closer to her. If she hadn't lost those damn keys she would've gotten home way before now.

"Well, come on, let's go inside," Buffy sighed, getting up and helping the other girl up, she noticed for the first time the bruises on the brunette's arm and right side of her face. The blonde stopped her before she could reach the door and looked into the younger girl's eyes, "Faith, what happened?"

"Nothing," the brunette squeezed out between clenched teeth and took the keys the blonde was holding in her hand, unlocking the door. Buffy was about to pull her back, when she remembered Riley and she turned to face him, offering a weak smile. She walked over to him and took a deep breath, "Thanks Riley, for helping. I promise I'll call you, okay?"

And once again, before he had a chance to say something, she leaned up, kissed him quickly on the cheek and walked away. Riley was starting to belief that he was doomed to have this happen to him.

*****

"So, what're you gonna do with her?" Lacis asked excitedly and Mef could only sigh.

It wasn't as if in some way he didn't enjoyed the fact that Faith had broken a rule, it meant he could come up with some form of punishment, but he wasn't sure what to do. She'd broken the cardinal rule, she'd slept with someone other than Buffy and Mef wasn't too sure on what should happen next. Sure, he'd said that he'd wipe out their bloodlines, but he wasn't stupid. He liked this game, if he used the highest punishment it was all over, not to mention that he knew she had been drunk and upset.

"Soooo?" Orcim interrupted his thoughts and the dark-haired man growled, before standing up.

"Would you just leave me alone?"

"But I wanna know what'll happen to her?"

Mef frowned and then looked at the two men for a few seconds, then suddenly smiled brightly. Sighing in relief he turned his head towards the TV-screen where Buffy was leading the brunette towards the living room for what would probably turn out to be a talk about what'd happened. Considering he already knew, Mef wasn't too interested in watching and he walked around the sofa towards the door.

"You'll find out soon," he answered with a smile and walked out the room. He had some things to do, go ask someone for a favor and then watch in amusement as the two girls would have to deal with the consequences of Faith's little stunt later.

*****

"Are you gonna tell me what happened?" Buffy asked quietly, watching the other girl who sat on the sofa next to her.

"Nothing happened," Faith responded and the blonde had to suppress the sigh that wanted to escape.

"You went out last night and didn't come back until now, not to mention you've got bruises all over you. I want to know what happened."

"I told you I went out," the brunette mumbled, her arms crossed and just by her posture Buffy could tell way more went on than that.

"You went to a bar?" Buffy asked, not once taking her eyes of the other girl. She wondered when in the past two months she'd started caring this much, when she had taken responsibility and made sure the other girl was okay.

"No."

The older girl scoffed and shook her head, "Faith, I can smell the smoke and booze on your clothes. Don't lie to me."

"Fine, I went to a bar. That's no crime."

"Actually, it is for you. But anyway…what'd you do? Get drunk?" Buffy continued, knowing that Faith would eventually tell her everything. It was weird how the brunette had actually opened up to her, told her things Buffy was sure no one else had ever gotten to hear. She figured the younger girl had desperately needed someone she could trust enough to tell things to and considering they lived together Buffy was the obvious choice.

"I had a few drinks, sure. But it's not my fault those guys were so eager to buy me drinks," Faith defended herself and the blonde grimaced. She'd heard about Faith's life before the whole marriage thing, the one-night stands, drinking binges and bar fights. She just hoped there'd been some grain of intelligence left in the other girl last night to not do something completely stupid.

"Faith, tell me…did you go home with any of them? And don't lie to me."

The brunette looked the other way, avoiding Buffy's eyes and the blonde sighed. So much for hoping. "Did you break a rule, Faith?"

Silence hung between them for a few seconds, before the younger girl turned, her face showing that she did feel miserable about this, "I didn't mean to, Buffy. But I was so pissed about…you and…beefstick. I didn't mean to."

"What about me and Riley made you go out and break the number one rule of the pact??" Buffy's voice was getting louder and she reprimanded herself to stay calm, it didn't pay to yell at Faith 'cause the girl would either walk away or just get really, extremely pissed.

"You dumped me for him," Faith offered, cursing herself for making it sound exactly the way she hadn't intended for it to sound.

"Faith, I owed him an explanation, so we went and talked. I didn't do anything with him, except for have a really long conversation."

"I'm sorry…I didn't…Mef is gonna kill me…us…Buffy," Faith trailed off, begging the blonde with her eyes to tell her that everything was going to be okay.

"Well, maybe he doesn't even know. I'm sure everything will be okay, don't worry for now, alright?" Buffy smiled, wishing she could believe what she'd just said, but she was relieved when Faith seemed to at least fall for it. "Are you gonna tell me about the bruises?"

Faith shrugged, taking a deep breath. It wasn't like Buffy didn't already know about her dad, many sleepless nights had been spent talking about him and Faith knew that out of all people on this earth she could at least trust the blonde, "My dad…I had to go home 'cause…I lost my keys and it was getting really cold, this morning at like 3. Figures that it'd get cold in Florida the moment I'm out late."

Buffy sighed and rubbed a hand across her forehead. She'd intended to make sure that Faith would never have to go back home unless there was no chance her dad was going to hurt her. "I'm sorry, Faith. Why didn't you just go to my mom's? Or even Willow's, they would've let you stay?"

"I couldn't remember where your mom lived and…I didn't wanna wake Will and Tara up," Faith sighed and Buffy decided to drop it. It was probably a better idea to just forget about everything, until maybe Mef made some sort of idiotic request because Faith had broken a rule. The blonde yawned and looked at the younger girl, noticing how tired Faith looked as well.

"Well, what do you say we go to bed and later we can finally watch 'Hannibal'? I promise I won't leave, either," Buffy smiled and felt relief wash through her as Faith smiled back at her, taking her hand to follow her up the stairs. And as they both fell asleep all thoughts about Mef and punishment were completely forgotten.

...to be continued...

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