Rating: R (for language)
Disclaimer: All of the materials borrowed from Buffy the Vampire Slayer belong to Joss Whedon and to the entities and companies associated with their creation. I have borrowed them for creative and entertainment purposes only. No compensation has been or ever shall be received for the writing below. No copyright infringement is intended.
My Website: http://www.dragonwriter17.net/
Feedback: Yes, but only if it’s of the non-flamey variety: DragonWriter17@aol.com
Distribution: The Watchers Forum, The Mystic Muse, and my personal site (If you are interested in posting my story on your site, please contact me first for permission.)
Spoilers: BtVS Season 3’s “Faith, Hope, and Trick” (and beyond)
Author’s Notes: (1) See the first three chapters for detailed notes on the origin of this story. (2) This part picks up just moments after Part 04 left off. It continues in original territory except for a snippet of dialogue borrowed from “What’s My Line, Part I.” (3) Thanks to Lilly for the beta read and edit!
Number of Chapters: Current Plan = 18 chapters
Chapter Summary: Buffy begins to be affected by the “backlash clause” of the slayer power, which was triggered by her killing of Pete. At the same time, Buffy and Faith’s attraction gets stronger.
At the school library, Faith and Giles and the others sat brooding for a moment, trying to get their heads around the situation that faced them. Finally, Faith broke the silence.
“I’m going back to check on Buffy,” she announced.
“We should go too,” Xander said. “Buffy needs us.”
“Right,” Willow agreed. “She needs her best friends.” She turned to Faith. “No offense.”
Though the comment truly stung, Faith shrugged it off. “None taken,” she said.
“Xander, Willow, I think you should stay here,” Giles said, stopping the duo as they prepared to leave.
“What?” Xander protested.
“Why not?” Willow demanded.
“You don’t want to rush over there en masse and set off Buffy’s suspicions,” Giles explained. “She’ll wonder why you’re hovering over her so.”
“Because we care,” Willow countered. “There doesn’t have to be impending doom in order for us to show we care.”
“True,” Oz said, “but you skipping school...definitely a diversion from the Great Order of Things.”
“You can go over there right after school, both of you,” Giles promised. “In the meantime, Faith can keep an eye on Buffy.”
After frowning unhappily for several long seconds, Xander and Willow finally nodded their reluctant agreement. At that, Faith rushed from the library.
When Faith got back to the Summers home, she let herself in using the spare set of keys she had borrowed. She found Buffy up and seemingly watching TV in the living room. In actuality, Buffy wasn’t paying any attention to it at all. When she saw Faith come in, she quickly wiped the tears from her face and pretended that she hadn’t just been crying—which did not go unnoticed by Faith.
“Why aren’t you in bed?” Faith asked.
“I tried to go to sleep,” Buffy said, “but I just couldn’t. Kept thinking about what happened.” Her face creased in pain for a moment, but she forced herself to move past it. She looked up at Faith. “What did you find out?”
“Everything’s cool,” Faith said, joining Buffy on the couch. “Giles fixed it so that the cops think that Pete and Debbie killed each other. There won’t be any additional investigation.”
Buffy didn’t seem relieved by that. “Good. I guess...” She took a deep breath. “I guess it’s okay that Debbie gets the blame for something I did...I mean, she’s not around to defend herself, so—”
“It’s not like that,” Faith said, cutting her off. “There’s no ‘blame’ here. What you did was in self-defense, totally justified. You get that, right?”
Buffy gave a small ‘maybe’ shrug in response.
Faith went on, “Problem is, we can’t trust Sunnydale’s finest to get that right. We can’t afford to have the Slayer locked up or bogged down in the so-called justice system. Okay?”
“Okay,” Buffy said, although her tone indicated she was less than convinced.
“Giles wants you to take some time off, though,” Faith said, “let me handle patrol for a while.”
Buffy nodded gratefully at that suggestion, having no objections to that plan. “Sounds good. Don’t think I’m up for patrol, anyway.”
“Oh, one more thing,” Faith said “Willow and Xander will be by this afternoon. They’re worried about you. Or about me watching over you. I think they think I’ve got you tied down to the bed or something.”
Buffy’s eyes went wide as her thoughts clearly went a different direction than Faith’s had. Faith noticed Buffy’s reaction.
“Not like that, ya perv,” Faith chided, nudging Buffy playfully.
Buffy blushed a bright red and gave an embarrassed laugh.
Faith went on to explain. “Like nursing home abuse or something. I guess ‘caregiver’ isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when they think of me. Or…to my mind, actually.”
Buffy smiled reassuringly at Faith. “Well, I know better. You’ve been very good with the giving of care. And I do appreciate it…very much.”
Buffy reached out and clasped Faith’s arm, causing the slayer to become a little embarrassed herself. “Well, don’t get used to it,” she warned. “I got a rep to maintain, you know.”
Buffy put on an expression of mock seriousness. “Keep Faith’s bad-ass reputation intact. Check.”
Faith grinned then glanced about the room. “So...what do you want to do now?”
“TV’s a wasteland,” Buffy said with a shrug.
“You got a deck o’ cards?” Faith asked.
“Sure...in the drawer there,” she answered, pointing at the table.
“You know how to play Gin?” Faith asked, retrieving the deck.
“Yeah. It’s been a while, though.”
“We could go a penny a point,” Faith suggested. “Just to make it interesting,” she added, raising her eyebrow at Buffy.
Buffy smirked and said, “You’re on.”
Meanwhile, back at the high school, Willow and Xander sat pouting in the back of their science class. Neither seemed to be concentrating on the teacher’s lecture.
“I can’t believe Giles wouldn’t let us go check on Buffy!” Xander whispered angrily to Willow.
“I know,” Willow complained. “Buffy’s teetering at the edge of a possible Abyss of Despair, and he sends Faith to watch her!” Willow gave a disgusted huff. “I mean, Faith’s got about as much sensitivity as Cordy at the homeless shelter last Christmas.”
“Exactly!” Xander agreed instantly. Then he corrected himself. “Wait.”
Willow lifted an eyebrow and gave Xander a think-about-it look.
“Right. Good point,” he had to admit.
Later that day, Faith and Buffy had abandoned the cards and were now sitting on the couch right next to each other with a photo album spread across both their laps. Several other photo albums, as well as empty soda cans and food wrappers, were resting on the table next to the playing cards.
“Ugh! Don’t look at that one!” Buffy said as soon as Faith turned the page of the album. She even covered up the picture with her hand.
“Lemme see,” Faith said.
“No, it’s stupid,” Buffy said, refusing to move her hand.
“Move your hand.”
Faith grabbed Buffy’s hand, and the two slayers engaged in a mini-battle over photo album dominance. Despite Buffy’s squealing denials, Faith won out and was able to see the forbidden picture.
It was of a five-year-old Buffy, standing on a chair pulled up to the kitchen counter. The flour-covered little girl was supposedly “helping” her mother bake a cake, but she seemed to be making more of a mess than anything else. Young Buffy was turned toward the camera and smiling widely...all without her two front teeth.
As Faith examined the picture and began to snicker, Buffy groaned in embarrassment and hid her face behind Faith’s shoulder.
“God, I hate that picture,” Buffy whined.
“What? It’s cute,” Faith said. “In a dentally-challenged sort of way.”
Buffy pulled away from Faith’s shoulder and gave it a smack with her fist. “It’s not fair,” she said. “I don’t have any embarrassing pictures of you to make fun of.”
“Be grateful,” Faith said. When Buffy looked at her curiously, she added, “Trust me...I wasn’t always as stunningly hot as I am today.”
“And apparently not as humble either,” Buffy teased.
They shared a laugh, and then Faith’s attention was drawn to a large photo showing a ten-year-old Buffy gracefully ice skating.
“Hey, you look like you really know what you’re doing there,” Faith commented.
“Yeah,” Buffy said, “I was pretty good.” Then she gave a small groan. “Thank God it’s not one of my ‘Dorothy-do’ pictures.”
“My Dorothy Hamill phase,” Buffy said ruefully. “My room in L.A. was pretty much a shrine. Dorothy dolls, Dorothy posters, I even got the Dorothy haircut.”
“Yep. Thereby securing a place for myself in the geek hall of fame.”
“I used to go skating all the time,” Buffy said. “And then I moved to Sunnydale. Haven’t had a lot of time for non-demon-y hobbies since then. Last time I went was...” She trailed off, her expression darkening. “...with Angel.” She sighed and said, “It wasn’t long before he...”
“...turned evil on you?” Faith finished.
“Yeah,” Buffy said sadly. After a long pause, she looked at Faith and asked, “Have you ever...lost someone? Someone you cared about?”
“My mom,” Faith replied with a shrug. “No, wait...you said someone I cared about.”
Buffy frowned sympathetically, but Faith gave her a don’t-bother glance.
“My mother was a drunk, a bitchy drunk,” Faith explained. “I’m better off without her.”
“What about your watcher?” Buffy pressed but in a gentle voice.
There was a flash of pain in Faith’s eyes, but she quickly covered it up. “I...I didn’t really know her that long.”
“You saw her killed,” Buffy said. “How did you get that...image out of your head?” Her brow furrowed as she remembered Pete’s bloody death.
“I didn’t,” Faith answered, thinking of Kakistos’ violent murder of her watcher. “I don’t think I ever will.”
After a long moment of silence, Faith drew their attention back to the photo album.
Several photo albums later, Buffy and Faith were still at it. While Faith was pouring over the photos, Buffy was leaning comfortably against Faith’s shoulder. When Faith came across a picture of interest, she pointed to it.
“Hey, what about this one?” she asked. When she didn’t get an answer, she looked over and found Buffy sound asleep on her shoulder. She sighed and said with a roll of her eyes, “Great. I guess she’ll drool on this shirt too.”
Faith closed the photo album and set it aside. Then as gently as she could, she eased Buffy from her shoulder and into her lap. When Buffy stirred momentarily, Faith pulled her hands away and waited, not wanting to do anything that might wake her up. But Buffy merely snuggled more closely against Faith’s thigh and quieted once again.
After several long seconds, Faith slowly let out the breath she had been holding. She looked down at Buffy with a deeply concerned expression. She rested her hands on her lap, without touching Buffy, then sighed and looked around the room with a what-do-I-do-now expression. It wasn’t long, however, before she brought her eyes back to Buffy.
Almost involuntarily, Faith’s hands found their way to Buffy’s hair. She tentatively touched the ends that lay on Buffy’s shoulder. Soon she was tenderly stroking Buffy’s hair, smiling at her with a warm softness in her own eyes.
When Buffy gave a murmur of contentment from her sleep, Faith stopped and yanked back her hand. Pure panic flashed in her eyes, and she looked like she wanted to escape. She grabbed a pillow and began to slide herself out from under Buffy’s head, slipping the pillow into the place vacated by her legs. The move worked. As Faith managed to extricate herself, Buffy remained asleep and snuggled into the pillow.
Once free, Faith exhaled in relief. She pulled the blanket off the back of the couch and laid it over Buffy. Then she knelt beside the couch and pushed a strand of Buffy’s hair out of her face, letting her fingertips gently touch her cheek. She did it only for a second, though, before frowning and pulling away. Then she got to her feet and headed for the bathroom.
When Faith went in, she shut the door quietly and then turned on the faucet. She kept her gaze on the sink and the running water.
What is the matter with you?! she mentally chided herself. You can’t just— She’s—
Faith gave a frustrated growl, splashed her face with cold water, and turned off the faucet. After drying off with the towel, she put her hands on the counter and leaned against it, still keeping her eyes on the sink.
Back in the living room, Buffy frowned and shook her head in her sleep as if she were having a bad dream.
“No...” she whimpered as her dream took her somewhere she didn’t want to go.
In her mind, she was at the cemetery, standing at Pete’s grave. It was night, and she was alone, and she was crying. She stood there without speaking for the longest time, simply unable to form the words.
Finally, she pulled herself together and whispered, “I’m so sorry...” Then she hung her head and turned to go.
Before she could take one step, she ran into someone. When she looked up and saw who it was, she gasped and stumbled back.
A blood-covered Pete glared maliciously at her.
Back in the bathroom, Faith was still leaning against the counter. Finally, she let out a deep, sad sigh.
“She’s not like you,” she said out loud.
Then she lifted her eyes to her reflection and added, “...and you’re not like her.”
Faith straightened up and sighed again.
So just stop this...this...whatever it is you’re doing, she thought to herself. Just stop it now before—
A scream from Buffy cut off Faith’s mental debate, and Faith dashed from the bathroom.
When Faith came running into the living room, she found Buffy frantically trying to untangle herself from the blanket covering her. Faith rushed over.
“Buffy, it’s okay,” she called out while trying to capture Buffy’s flailing arms. When she was finally successful, she held the blonde firmly in her grip and attempted to make eye contact. “It’s just a dream,” she told her. “Just a dream.”
Buffy eventually stopped fighting and met Faith’s gaze. Then she burst out crying and just let herself fall slowly forward against Faith’s shoulder.
After the briefest of hesitations, Faith ignored the warning her brain was screaming at her and wrapped her arms around the sobbing slayer, pulling her close.
Back at the high school, Giles sat in his office with a pile of books. He had several of them open and stacked on top of one another. He had been taking notes on a legal pad about each slayer in Council history that had killed a human.
There has to be something here, Giles thought. Some small clue, some vestige of hope.
He reviewed the list several times, flipping the pages with increasing frustration. He finally snatched his glasses off and rubbed the bridge of his nose.
After a moment, he put his glasses back on and opened his desk drawer. He pulled out an address book and turned to the T section. He ran his finger over the name “Travers, Quentin” for several seconds. Then he closed the book and put it back inside his desk drawer.
Back at the Summers home, Buffy had long since stopped crying. Now she simply luxuriated in the sense of warmth and safety she felt in Faith’s arms. She let out a breath that was a near-sigh.
Faith gently separated them and gave Buffy a concerned look. “Are you okay now?” she asked.
Buffy met Faith’s eyes. “I’m always okay when I’m with you,” she whispered.
Buffy dropped her gaze to Faith’s cheek, reached out, and cupped it gently. Buffy brought her eyes back to Faith’s.
Don’t, Faith’s internal voice told her. Don’t let her do this. Stop her now. But Faith didn’t stop her.
Buffy leaned closer, letting her hand move down to Faith’s neck. Then ever-so-slowly, Buffy planted a soft kiss on Faith’s lips. When Buffy pulled back, she found Faith breathing hard, trembling, but staring intently.
Faith’s heart was about to beat out of her chest. Her gaze darted from Buffy’s eyes to her mouth and back again a hundred times, a mixture of conflicting emotions flashing across her face.
A worried expression came over Buffy. “Faith? Are you—?”
Buffy’s question was cut off when Faith reached up with both hands and pulled Buffy’s face to hers, kissing her hungrily. Buffy eagerly returned the embrace, wrapping her arms around Faith. They kissed and kissed again, their hands roaming as the heat rose between them.
Suddenly and unexpectedly, Faith grabbed Buffy’s arms and pushed her roughly away, holding her at an arm’s length with a bruising grip. As the two slayers panted breathlessly, they locked eyes. Buffy’s expression was startled and confused. Faith’s was shocked and anguished.
Before Buffy could say anything, Faith released the blonde’s arms, jumped up from the couch, and began backing away.
Now truly worried, Buffy called out, “Faith? Faith...what’s wrong?”
Faith just continued backing away, nearly tripping on the table.
Buffy’s worry became total fear. “Faith, please...talk to me,” she said. “Oh God...I shouldn’t have...I’m sorry...I thought that...”
“I-I-I’ve gotta go,” was all Faith could say as she turned toward the door.
Buffy jumped to her feet, “No! Faith, please!” Tears began streaming down Buffy’s cheeks. “Don’t go!” she cried. Then she reached out in a pleading gesture. “Please don’t leave me!” she wailed.
Faith shut Buffy’s pleas out of her mind, snatched open the front door, and dashed out, not even bothering to close the door.
Buffy sank back onto the couch, sobbing uncontrollably.
Faith ran as fast as she could, cursing herself the entire way, running until her breath finally gave out. When she stopped, she found herself in one of the cemeteries. She plopped onto a stone bench.
What did you do?! she accused herself. You shouldn’t have let her— And you sure shouldn’t have—
“Oh God...this is so fucked up...” she said out loud, dropping her head into her hands.
Just minutes after Faith left, Xander and Willow arrived at Buffy’s house. They found the front door wide open and Buffy crying on the couch.
“Buffy!” Willow and Xander both exclaimed before rushing to the slayer and sitting beside her.
“What happened? What’s wrong?” Willow asked, touching Buffy’s shoulder.
“Faith...l-l-left,” Buffy barely got out between sobs before falling into Willow’s arms.
“It’s okay,” Willow said, holding Buffy tightly. “We’re here now.”
As Buffy cried, Xander put a comforting hand on her back. “I knew we shouldn’t have trusted Faith with Buffy!” Xander whispered to Willow urgently.
“How could she do that?” Willow said. “Just leave Buffy when she was so upset?”
“I don’t know, but she’s not getting another chance—not if I have anything to say about it,” Xander promised.