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 where Part 09 left off. It continues in mostly original territory. (3) For Faith’s backhistory for this series, I am using the novel Go Ask Malice: A Slayer’s Diary by Robert Joseph Levy (excellent book, by the way). I may not use all of its plot details or use them exactly as they appear in that novel, but I am assuming that Faith’s past in “Twice Chosen” is very similar to Faith’s past in Go Ask Malice. (4) Thanks, as always, to Lilly for the beta read and edit! Lilly won Best Beta in Round 11 of the SunnyD Awards for her work on this story. Congratulations, Lilly!
Number of Chapters: Current Plan = 18 chapters
As Buffy and Faith attempt to forge ahead in their relationship, they meet
resistance from Joyce and Willow.
After parting ways with her furious mother, Buffy rushed to school. She hurried down the hallway toward the library. When she pushed open the double doors, she found Willow at one of the tables, dutifully studying before class.
“Oh, Willow, thank god you’re here,” Buffy said as she joined Willow at the table, dropping her bag on its wooden surface.
Willow looked up and saw a very upset Buffy in front of her. “What is it?” she asked worriedly. “What’s wrong?”
“Something happened,” Buffy replied. “With me and Faith.”
“I knew this was gonna happen! I knew we couldn’t trust her!” Willow exclaimed angrily. “What did she do?!” she demanded, leaning aggressively forward on the table.
Despite her distress, Buffy’s lips curled into an amused grin. “Hold on there, Will. Don’t get out your shovel yet.”
Willow sat back in her chair and crossed her arms. “No thank you,” she said resolutely. “I think I better hang onto it.” She quickly uncrossed her arms and leaned forward again, though this time with curiosity and concern. “Seriously, what happened?”
Buffy rested her arms on the table. “Well, after Faith walked me home, I went inside and talked to my mom. I told her that I was okay and that the curse seemed to be broken and that Faith had been an important part of that.”
Willow lifted a skeptical brow at that.
“Yeah, she took it about as well as you did,” Buffy said, giving Willow a look. Then she went on. “I didn’t tell her about me and Faith yet. Figured I’d give her a couple of days before I dropped that bomb on her.”
Willow nodded her head in approval.
“Anyway, after the talk, she went to bed, I took a shower and went back to my room. When I got inside, Faith was at the window. I let her inside, and...well...she spent the night with me.”
Surprised, Willow lowered her tone. “You snuck her into your room, and she stayed the whole night?”
Buffy gave a small nod and then shrugged. “Neither one of us had really wanted to say goodnight earlier, and we had a lot to talk about.” After a brief pause, she continued. “So anyway, we got dressed for bed and turned in. We talked for a while, and then we went to sleep.”
Willow pinned Buffy with a glare of doubt.
“Yes, we really did go to sleep,” she told Willow firmly. “But this morning when we woke up, we were kinda fooling around, and things got...” Buffy blushed deeply. “...hot.”
Willow swallowed noticeably. “H-H-How hot are we talking here?”
Buffy ducked her head for a moment and said, “Ummm....so hot that we were mostly clothes-less?”
Willow’s eyes got really wide.
Then they heard a loud thud coming from the stacks above them. They turned in that direction.
“Giles?!” Willow called out in alarm.
A sheepish voice drifted from the stacks. “Sorry. Dropped a book. A very large book. Sorry to have startled you.”
A look of outrage came over Buffy’s face. “Were you eavesdropping?!”
Giles came to the railing above the girls. “Certainly not!”
Willow and Buffy gave him a look of disbelief.
“Not intentionally anyway,” he corrected.
Willow and Buffy glared at him.
“It’s not my fault that voices carry in here,” he justified.
Willow and Buffy rolled their eyes and turned back to each other. Giles slipped back into the stacks. Willow and Buffy leaned closer and spoke in a slightly lower tone.
“So what happened? Did things get weird or something?” Willow asked. Anger flashed in the witch’s eyes, and she leaned forward again. “Did she hurt you? Did she try to make you do something you didn’t want to do?”
Appalled, Buffy said, “No! It was nothing like that.” Then she smiled, a glow spreading over her face. “It was wonderful, actually.” Her smile became a naughty grin as she added, “And good.”
“So what went wrong?” Willow suddenly reached across the table and grabbed Buffy’s hand. “She didn’t go evil, did she?”
“No!” Buffy instantly denied. Then her tone became chiding. “Willow!”
Willow gave an embarrassed chuckle. “Sorry, ha...it’s just...ha...um...” She cleared her throat and said, “You were saying?”
Buffy took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Mom found us.”
Willow gasped, lifting her hand to cover her mouth.
“She came in my room, and she saw us,” Buffy said ruefully. “In the flesh. Yep, doin’ the flesh thing.”
“Dear Lord!” came Giles’s distressed voice from the stacks.
It was quickly followed by a small crash that sounded like an avalanche of books. Buffy looked up at the railing.
“Not to worry...I’m all right,” they heard the watcher say.
Buffy sighed and ignored Giles. Willow stayed focused on Buffy.
“What happened? What did she do?”
“What do you think she did?” Buffy replied. “She completely freaked. I mean, she just got an eyeful of me and Faith rounding second base in the middle of my bedroom floor. She—”
“Oh. My. God.”
Willow paid no mind to the interruption; she merely stared off with a puzzled expression on her face. Buffy, however, let her shoulders slump and then turned toward the shocked voice. She found Cordelia and Xander standing a few feet away. Cordelia tilted her head in Buffy’s direction.
“Did I just hear that correctly?” Cordelia asked pointedly, her eyes shining.
“I sure hope so,” Xander added, grinning unrepentantly.
Buffy dropped her head into her hands.
Willow seemed to be still picturing the bedroom scene. “You were on the floor?” she asked, confused. “Why were you on the floor?”
“Who was on the floor?” Oz asked as he joined the group at the table.
“Buffy and Faith,” Cordelia immediately answered, savoring the juicy gossip. “They were totally indulging in some shared slayer lust when her mother came in and found them.”
Oz thought about that a second, his expression never changing. “Oh. Okay.”
Buffy groaned loudly and dropped her head to the table. Somebody shoot me, she thought to herself.
Cordelia turned to Buffy. “Are you two a couple?” She didn’t wait for an answer; instead, she turned to the others. “When did this happen? Why am I just now hearing about it?”
“Sorry,” Xander said. “I haven’t had time to tell you.”
“You knew about this?” she accused.
“Well, it only just happened yesterday,” he explained.
“Yesterday?” Cordelia turned back to Buffy. “Boy, you two sure are workin’ fast, aren’t you?”
“Too fast,” Willow added emphatically.
Buffy suddenly straightened up and smacked her palms on the table. “Okay, that’s enough.” She got to her feet. “I’m leaving now. You’ll be able to hash out my utter humiliation much better if I’m not here.”
Buffy grabbed her book bag and angrily walked off.
Willow stood up, concerned about her friend. “Buffy? We didn’t mean to—”
Buffy didn’t even look back. She just waved her hand in a save-it gesture and kept walking.
Just then, Faith came into the library. When she saw how upset Buffy was, she reached out and stopped her. “What’s wrong?”
“You mean other than what happened with my mother this morning?!” Buffy shot back. “Ask them!” She pointed back at the Scoobies and then stomped out, leaving a confused Faith behind.
Faith hesitated, not sure whether to follow Buffy or not. As Giles made his way down from the stacks, Faith finally walked over to the Scoobies, who were sporting a mixture of expressions.
Giles seemed nervous. Willow looked guilty. Cordelia was in defensive denial. Oz was...well...Oz. Xander looked afraid.
“What the hell is going on?!” Faith demanded as she scanned the group.
Angry slayer, angry slayer! Must flee! Xander thought to himself. “Nothing!” he blurted when Faith’s glare landed on him. His eyes darted around the room. “We were just...” He grabbed Cordelia’s arm. “Leaving!”
“No, we weren’t,” Cordelia said. “I want to hear what— Oooohhh!”
Cordelia couldn’t finish her statement because Xander dragged her away.
Oz looked at Willow, and Willow gave him a nod. At that, Oz left the library. Willow then turned to Faith. “Buffy was talking about what happened this morning.”
“She told all of you?” Faith demanded.
Giles awkwardly dropped his gaze to the floor. “No, not exactly. She, um...”
“She told me,” Willow said, shooting a glare at the librarian. “Giles eavesdropped.”
“I did not eavesdrop,” Giles said in useless denial. “I-I-I merely overheard. By accident.”
Willow shook her head and went on. “The rest just blundered in on the whole thing.”
“Oh,” Faith said. After a brief pause, she asked, “So...Buffy...she’s upset?”
“Well, yeah! Do you blame her?” Willow shot back, taking a step in Faith’s direction. “For God’s sake, Faith, what were you thinking?!”
Faith flinched under the sudden attack.
“Did you want her to get in trouble? Is that it?” Willow accused. “Or are you so gung-ho on earning another conquest that you don’t even care what happens to Buffy?”
Faith’s eyes blazed as she turned to confront Willow. “Another conquest? Is that what you think I’m doing with Buffy?”
Willow didn’t back down. She crossed her arms tightly. “You tell me.”
Faith didn’t answer right away. She just fumed for a moment. “I don’t have to tell you anything!” she finally spat back. “What happens with me and Buffy is between me and Buffy. Got it?”
“Fine!” Willow said before stomping off in a huff.
A few steps later, she realized she had left all of her books on the table. Refusing to be embarrassed about the mistake, she walked purposefully back to the table, slammed her open book shut, and scooped her things into her book bag. Once she had swung her pack onto her shoulder, she looked right at Faith.
“Fine!” she repeated and then stormed out of the room.
Once Willow had left, Giles and Faith were alone. Neither spoke for a long time. They just stood in awkward silence, lost in their own thoughts. Eventually, Giles turned his gaze to Faith. She glanced his way briefly then sighed and ran her hand through her hair.
“Looks like I messed things up again,” she said wearily.
Giles looked on sympathetically and simply waited for her to go on.
“I think I left the door unlocked,” she explained in a quiet voice.
“The bedroom door, you mean?” he asked.
“Yeah,” Faith answered sadly. “When I got up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.” She shook her head disgustedly. “If I hadn’t done that, then Buffy’s mom wouldn’t have been able to come inside and catch us.”
“It was a simple accident, Faith,” Giles told her. “Nothing more.”
Faith wouldn’t meet his eyes.
Giles tried again. “What happened between you and Buffy was something you both wanted, was it not?”
Faith looked up and nodded.
“Then you mustn’t shoulder the whole burden yourself. Any blame to be assigned isn’t yours alone. It’s Buffy’s as well.”
Faith gave a rueful shrug. “Tell that to Buffy’s mother.”
Giles frowned a bit. “She, um, she didn’t take it well, I presume?”
Faith scoffed loudly. “That’s an understatement. She kicked me out of the house.” She guiltily dropped her gaze. “Accused me of running out on Buffy then trying to seduce her.” Faith raised her head and gave Giles a pleading look. “I swear that’s not what I’m trying to do.”
“I believe you, Faith,” Giles said sincerely.
“I mean, the last thing I wanna do is hurt Buffy,” Faith said. “But maybe being with her is hurting her more than not being with her.” Faith looked away sadly. “Maybe she’d be better off without me.”
Giles reached out and touched Faith’s arm. “It’s a bit early to make judgments like that, don’t you think?”
Faith let herself feel his touch and concern for only a few seconds before she pulled out of his grasp and stepped away. “I mean, who am I kidding, Giles? I’m not relationship material. I’ve been fucked over so many times that I’m totally screwed up myself.” She began pointing dramatically. “Willow knows it. Buffy’s mom knows it. Hell, you probably know it too, you’re just bein’ all nice about it.”
Giles smiled at her gently. “I assure you, I know nothing of the kind.”
Faith refused to accept that. “What’s the matter?” she challenged. “Didn’t the Council give you a nice fat file with my name on it? Full of all kinds of juicy tidbits like ‘lifetime of physical and emotional abuse’ and ‘prone to violent outbursts’ and my personal favorite ‘no chance of becoming a fully functional individual’?”
“Faith, I know your life’s been difficult, but—” Giles began.
Faith scoffed softly. “Yeah. Right. ‘Difficult’.” Her pained expression quickly turned to one of anger and disgust with herself. “I mean, I don’t know why I even care. She’s not my mother.” She crossed her arms tightly. “I don’t owe her anything.”
Giles sighed then softly said, “You care about what Joyce thinks because you care about Buffy.”
The phone at the check-out desk began to ring, and Giles started moving in that direction. Faith followed along with him as they continued their conversation.
“Just remember that Mrs. Summers in shock right now,” Giles told her. “Once she comes out of it, I’m sure she’ll be much calmer and more understanding. You’ll see.”
When Giles got to the desk, he picked up the phone and answered it. “Library. This is Mr. Giles.”
“Rupert,” came Joyce’s angry tone through the receiver.
Flustered surprise came over Giles’s face. “Oh, Joyce, um, Mrs. Summers, I—”
“Do you know what I found Buffy doing this morning?!!!” Joyce’s voice was so loud that Giles had to pull the phone away from his ear.
Faith’s expression fell. “I’m outta here,” she said before trudging away.
While helplessly watching Faith leave, Giles tried to form words to reply to Joyce’s question but couldn’t.
Joyce didn’t wait for an answer anyway. “I need to see you immediately! I’m coming over there right now.”
“Oh, um...why don’t we meet at the coffee shop on the corner?” Giles managed to interject. “Neutral ground, as it were?”
“Fine,” Joyce replied, clearly not happy. “I’ll be there in ten minutes.” Slam!
Giles grimaced at the sound. Then he sighed and put the receiver down.
Giles was already at the coffee shop when Joyce arrived. She was frowning as she walked over. Giles smiled at her, trying to smooth things over, but it didn’t work. She just scowled back.
“Ah, Joyce...please sit down,” he said. “It’s, um, it’s good to see you.”
“Good?” she said sharply as she sat down. “There’s nothing ‘good’ about any of this. I assume you know what happened.”
Giles cleared his throat. “Well, um, yes. Buffy came in this morning and spoke with Willow about it, and I-I-I happened to overhear. She seemed quite upset about it.”
“She’s upset?!!” Joyce replied, incensed. “I just walked in on my seventeen-year-old daughter, half naked, in her room, making out with...with...Faith!”
A few nearby customers gave the two strange looks. Giles flashed them an embarrassed smile and then turned back to Joyce. When he opened his mouth to speak, Joyce interrupted.
“It was bad enough when I learned about her having sex with Angel, but this...”
Giles tried once again to interject but failed. Joyce was on a roll.
“I just don’t get this...she’s into girls now? I mean, where did this come from? She’s been boy crazy since puberty for goodness’ sake! Is she gay now?” Joyce leaned angrily across the table. “What has Faith done to my daughter?!!” she demanded.
As the other customers again looked at them strangely, Giles tried to calm Joyce down. He made a placating gesture and spoke slowly and gently. “I know you’re upset, and you have every reason to be, but there are some things I need to tell you.”
Although she was still far from calm, Joyce gave Giles a small nod, indicating that she was willing to listen.
“First of all,” Giles told her, “you need to know that what is happening between Buffy and Faith is very real and it’s entirely mutual. Faith is not in any way attempting to seduce your daughter. Her feelings are completely sincere, as are Buffy’s feelings for her.”
Joyce kept a stoic demeanor. “Go on.”
“Secondly, you need to know that their relationship, as young and fragile as it might be, was critical in Buffy’s breaking free of the backlash curse.”
Joyce softened a bit at that. “Buffy said that Faith reached her when no one else could.” She looked to Giles for confirmation.
“It’s true,” he said. “Buffy was extremely distraught right before the curse was broken. It was Faith who brought her back from the edge.” He cleared his throat. “Metaphorically speaking, of course.”
Joyce thought deeply about this, clearly not wanting to accept it. She finally sighed and slumped back in her chair. “I just don’t understand how Buffy can be involved in this kind of relationship. I mean, my daughter, a lesbian?”
“Well, i-i-it’s my opinion, actually, that Buffy may be bisexual, not lesbian,” Giles explained. “In fact, Council records indicate that many slayers in the past have had partners from both sexes at one time or another. It’s possible that bisexuality is more prevalent among slayers than the general female population. Or that the slayer power somehow brings forth the bisexuality inherent in the most people.”
Joyce gave Giles a clear frown. “Was that supposed to make me feel better?”
“Uhhh, well, I, umm...I hoped it might.”
“My little girl is sexually active, and she’s not even out of high school yet,” Joyce said. “I don’t know how to feel good about that.”
Giles reached out and put his hand over Joyce’s. “She’s growing up,” he said softly, but in a tone designed to remind Joyce of the stated fact’s inevitability. He gave her an encouraging smile. “But just remember this: No matter how grown up Buffy becomes, she will always need her mother. And right now, she needs her mother very much.”
Joyce’s eyes filled with tears as she considered his words.
After refusing to speak to her friends all morning, Buffy sat at a lunch table alone, staring at her tray and picking at her food. When she heard a shuffling of feet in front of her, she looked up and saw Willow and Xander standing there. Willow gave her a sheepish smile and shrug. Xander waved a small white flag made from a napkin and a straw.
“Truce?” Willow offered.
“Maybe,” Buffy replied evenly.
Encouraged that the slayer had at least spoken to them, Willow and Xander eased into the empty chairs at Buffy’s table.
“Look, Buffy, we’re really sorry about this morning,” Willow said.
“Yeah,” Xander added. “You were trying to tell us something really important, and we—”
“Us? We?” Buffy asked pointedly, making Xander backtrack.
“Uhhh...I mean...you were trying to tell Willow something...something I had no business hearing, and which I have now completely erased from my memory!”
He flashed Buffy a smile, but she just scoffed and rolled her eyes. Erased from his memory...yeah right, Buffy thought to herself. More like permanently etched into his brain.
“I-I-I should’ve done something,” Willow said. “Stopped everybody before it got too...” She struggled to think of an appropriate word. Failing, she simply said, “I’m sorry.”
“It’s not your fault, Will,” Buffy said. “I should’ve known better than to discuss my private humiliations in gossip central.”
“You know what we need,” Xander interjected, a teasing expression on his face. He made them wait and then said, “A cone of silence.” He ignored the twin eyebrow lifts and went on. “That way, any time two of us need to have a private conversation, we’ll just activate the cone of silence.”
“Yeah ’cause that worked so well for Maxwell Smart,” Willow commented.
Buffy’s mind instantly imagined herself and Willow in the library inside a transparent plastic device, yelling ineffectually at each other.
“My mom caught me half-naked with Faith!” Buffy screamed.
“What?!” Willow screamed back.
At a tapping, Willow turned to look outside the device where Xander yelled, “She said that her mom caught her half-naked with Faith!”
Willow mouthed “Oh” and turned back to supposedly-secure conversation.
Buffy shook her head and laughed, unable to prevent herself from chuckling at the scene transpiring in her head.
Xander and Willow laughed with her, grateful that they seemed to be getting past the kink in their friendship.
Buffy’s light mood quickly vanished, though, and she dropped her gaze to the table, frowning in worry.
Willow reached out and touched her friend’s arm. “It went bad this morning, didn’t it?” she asked softly.
Buffy just nodded her head in reply. “Mom was...furious,” she said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen her so mad.”
“She’s just in shock, Buf,” Xander said. “She’ll calm down. You’ll see.”
“I don’t think so,” Buffy said ruefully. “She went off on Faith pretty bad.”
Good! Willow thought to herself. She deserves it! As Buffy prepared to go on, Willow took a deep breath and pushed her angry thoughts aside and tried to think of a more diplomatic way of expressing herself.
“She kicked Faith out of the house,” Buffy said, “ordered me off to school, and said we’d talk when she got home from work.”
“Your mom’s just worried about you,” Willow suggested. “She doesn’t want to see you hurt. And Faith’s already hurt you once. She just doesn’t trust Faith.” Willow glanced away while continuing. “She sees her as the potentially heart-breaking sl...” At a glare from Buffy, she corrected herself. “...uh...slayer that she i...may be.”
Willow managed to look a little repentant under Buffy’s stare, but then the witch’s eyes grew serious.
“I’m worried too,” she told her best friend. “After all you’ve been through...losing Angel, getting hit with that curse...if she hurts you, I’m just scared that—”
“That’s not going to happen,” Buffy said, cutting her off. She looked Willow in the eyes and did the same for Xander. “I believe that,” she said resolutely, her gaze coming back to the redhead.
After a long, wordless stare, Xander finally broke the silence. “Well, I’m glad we got that settled, eh?” Willow and Buffy didn’t reply, so he went on. “Now...let’s talk about more interesting topics, like what we are going to do to make up for our little bout of insensitivity this morning.” He gestured at himself and Willow.
“Right,” Willow said, brightening somewhat. Buffy looked at her friends curiously.
“We’re gonna give you and Faith the rest of the week off on patrolling,” Xander said proudly.
“Yeah, all of us,” Willow added. “Even Giles.”
An amused grin spread over Buffy’s face. “You’re kidding.”
Xander put on an offended expression. “Hey, we handled patrol just fine while you were gone. Didn’t we, Will?”
“You bet your sweet bippy, we did!”
Buffy tried not to laugh too hard. “Okay then, apology accepted. I will leave patrol in your capable hands.” She reached out and shook Willow’s hand to seal the deal. When she took Xander’s, she could stop herself from adding, “Nighthawk.”
“And don’t you forget it,” he told her, shaking her hand firmly.
At that, the three friends fell easily back into their usual comfortable banter, putting their heavy thoughts aside, at least for a time.
When classes were over that afternoon, Buffy and Willow were walking out of school together. Buffy moved at a pace only slightly faster than a snail’s, and she kept her eyes trained on the ground. She sighed heavily about every five feet.
Willow decided to broach the subject. “So...almost time for the big talk, huh?”
“Uhhnn,” Buffy whined as she stopped in place. “Don’t remind me.”
“I-I-I’m sure it’ll go fine,” Willow stated, trying to be positive.
Buffy rolled her eyes and looked over at her friend. “As fine as my ‘coming out as a slayer’ went over with Mom?”
“That was different,” Willow insisted. “Everything was kinda crazy then, and it all got thrown in her lap at once in some big shocking surprise, a-a-and I’m not helping, am I?” The witch frowned.
“It’s okay,” Buffy replied. “I appreciate the effort.”
The two friends smiled at each other. Suddenly, Willow’s expression hardened when she saw Faith approaching. Buffy noticed and turned around.
“I’ll see you later, okay?” Willow told Buffy, causing the blonde to turn back to her. “Call me tonight and tell me how things went.”
Without waiting for Faith to arrive, Willow turned and left. Buffy seemed torn about what to do, turning toward Faith and then back to Willow again. But Buffy didn’t call out to the witch.
Buffy turned toward the greeting and found a somber Faith standing in front of her. “Hey,” Buffy answered.
Faith nodded her head in Willow’s direction. “I probably should have worn a jacket. Gettin’ cold around here.”
Buffy gave an explanatory shrug. “She’s still a little mad about this morning, that’s all. Speaking of which...I’m really sorry I bailed on you at the library. Me makin’ with the angry stomp-off, it didn’t have anything to do with you. I just had to get out of there.”
Faith didn’t seem worried about that. “Yeah, Giles filled me in after you and everybody else left.” She paused before adding, “Then your mom called.”
A mortified expression came over Buffy’s face. “My mom called Giles?”
Faith winced and nodded. “She was kinda yellin’.”
Buffy’s whole body slumped in defeat as the dread of what awaited her just took over. Faith instantly pulled her girlfriend into a warm hug. Buffy exhaled deeply and just let herself sink into the embrace, not realizing how much she needed it until she was in it.
After a long moment, she whispered, “I wish you could come with me.”
Faith chuckled. “Don’t think that’s such a good idea right now.”
They pulled out of the hug and stepped apart.
“Can I call you? You know, after?” Buffy said, twisting her shirt tail nervously. “I, um, I have a feeling I’m going to need to talk.”
Faith gave her a smile of affirmation. “I’ll be at my place.”
“I also have a feeling that I’m going to be grounded for the rest of my senior year, so you may get to be the Slayer of the Year after all.”
Faith waved that notion away. “Ah, it won’t come to that. Slayer stuff trumps everything, even moms.”
Buffy let out a scoffing snort. “Oh I’m sure that little motto’s gonna go over great with my mom. She’ll probably cross-stitch it on a doily and keep it right by her bed. NOT!”
Faith saw a shadow pass over Buffy. She could see that the blonde looked quite frightened and very close to crying.
“What if...” Buffy began in a strained voice. “What if she tells me I can’t see you anymore? I don’t think I could—”
Faith covered Buffy’s mouth with her hand to stop her impending emotional rant. Then she put her arms around Buffy once again and locked eyes with her, smiling as she did so.
“Not gonna happen,” Faith told her. “I mean, she can’t stop us. We can see each other as much as we want outside of her house. ‘Sides, in a couple of months both of us will be eighteen anyway, right?”
“See? Nothing to worry about.”
At that, Faith linked her arm with Buffy’s and began leading her down the sidewalk.
A short time later, Buffy trudged home to wait for her mother. When she found her mother’s SUV already in the driveway, she groaned unhappily.
Resigned to her fate, Buffy went inside.
When Buffy shut the front door and stepped into the living room, she found her mother on the couch waiting for her.
“You’re home early,” Buffy noted.
“Yes, I wanted to be here when you got home from school,” Joyce replied tersely.
Buffy entwined her fingers in an anxious gesture and said, “Time for the talk, huh?”
When Joyce nodded, Buffy slinked over to the other end of the couch and sat down. She cast only occasional glances at her mother, spending most of her time staring at her hands or the floor. It seemed like an eternity before Joyce finally began to speak.
“I want to say first of all that I don’t like the idea that you are being sexually active at seventeen. I know that probably makes me sound like some kind of old-fashioned prude, but there it is.” Joyce straightened her back and pulled her shoulders back as if to emphasize her statement. “I think you’re too young.”
Buffy remained silent, not wanting to interrupt her mother’s speech. She glanced at her briefly then contritely looked away.
Joyce went on. “But I also realize that short of a slayer-proof jail cell, there’s very little I can do to stop you. I had hoped that your unfortunate affair with Angel would have taught you not to jump into things so quickly, but I can see that hope was wasted.”
Buffy hung her head even lower and didn’t reply. A long time passed before Joyce went on. When she did, her voice was a bit softer.
“I talked to Mr. Giles this morning. He, um, he said that your feelings for Faith and Faith’s feelings for you were very real and that those feelings were what helped pull you out of that backlash curse.”
Buffy looked up in grateful surprise. “He said that?”
Joyce nodded then asked, “Is that true?”
“Yes,” Buffy answered, tears forming in her eyes. “I don’t know how or why, but it’s true.”
It was Joyce’s turn to remain silent. She just looked at her daughter expectantly, waiting for her to go on.
“I-I-I know it seems weird that I’ve got feelings for another girl, but...” Buffy just shrugged, not knowing what else to say.
“And she feels the same way about you?” Joyce forced herself to ask.
Buffy looked her mother in the eyes and said with confidence, “Yes.”
Joyce became quiet as if she were thinking very hard about something—and not necessarily liking what she was thinking about.
“I know you’re worried that Faith might hurt me—that she’s going to leave me or use me or run away,” Buffy told her mother. “But that’s not going to happen. You haven’t gotten to see the Faith that I see when we’re alone.”
Joyce scoffed loudly. “Oh, I think I got a pretty good glimpse of that Faith this morning!”
Buffy turned red and dropped her head for a moment. “Not like that,” she said, finally looking back up. “I mean her sensitive side. After the Pete thing, she took really good care of me. She did. She held me while I cried, she talked to me, she listened to me, she—”
“—ran away when you needed her,” Joyce interjected.
Buffy sighed heavily then pressed on. “She ran away because we kissed,” Buffy explained. “As in, for the first time.”
A look of realization came over Joyce’s face. “Oh.”
“And for the record, I kissed her first,” Buffy pointed out. “Still, Faith thought that she’d screwed up by letting us get involved when I was such a basket case, and basically, she just panicked and ran.”
Joyce didn’t seem impressed with Faith’s reaction. She shot a skeptical look in Buffy’s direction.
“I know, I know,” Buffy admitted. “Not the smartest of choices. And I didn’t take it well either. That curse had me so messed up that I just fell apart.”
Buffy frowned for a moment, remembering. When she looked up, her expression was brighter. She began to speak strongly and passionately. Her mother watched and listened intently.
“But...she came back to me,” Buffy said. “She reached out to me, with her whole heart, and I felt it, and that’s when it stopped.”
Joyce was confused. “When what stopped?”
“The curse. It ended right then and there. Because of Faith.”
Her mother just stared, stuck somewhere between doubt and belief. Buffy’s eyes began to fill with tears, and she went on in a very choked voice.
“When all I could think about was...” Buffy paused as if struggling to get out the next words. “...killing myself,” she said finally, “just ending all the pain...she was there.” A sob slipped out, and the tears started rolling down her face.
Joyce’s eyes widened in alarm at what her daughter was confessing, but she was still frozen in her place on the couch.
Buffy met her mother’s gaze. “She made me want to live again, Mom. She made me want to live...”
Joyce shook herself out of the shock she was in and rushed to the opposite end of the couch. “Oh Buffy...” she exclaimed as she pulled her daughter into a tight hug.
Buffy wrapped her arms around her mother and let the crying come. Her mother did the same, and for a long series of moments, that was all they did. Eventually, they pulled apart, though.
Buffy gave a rueful chuckle and wiped at her eyes. “God...I sound like some sappy romance novel, don’t I?”
“Yeah, you do,” Joyce said. “But I’m a sucker for sappy romance. You know that.”
They shared a laugh, but once again, they went silent. After calming her breathing a bit, Buffy spoke up.
“I was going to tell you,” she said. “About me and Faith, I mean. I just didn’t want to dump everything on you all at once. The curse alone was enough.”
Joyce nodded at that.
“I guess I didn’t count on gettin’ caught.” Buffy tried another chuckle but quickly sobered when her mother didn’t reciprocate. “I’m sorry you had to find out that way,” she said sincerely.
“Thank you,” Joyce said.
“When I invited her in last night, we didn’t know we were gonna end up all...well, you know...you saw.” She made a quick head duck then went on. “We just wanted to be together. And this morning, we, um, we got a little carried away, that’s all. And totally forgot to check the door first. Next time we’ll be sure to lock the door,” Buffy assured her mother.
Joyce gave her an I-don’t-think-so glare.
Buffy instantly backtracked, correcting herself. “O-O-Or we could just not have a next time. Any time soon. Here in your house.”
“Good answer.” Joyce sighed and looked at her daughter. “Buffy, I can’t say that I’m happy about this relationship. I see too many potential problems to give it my blessing.”
Buffy’s expression became very sad. She looked down at her hands, dreading the words to come.
“But I know that it would be fruitless to ask you not to see her.”
Buffy looked back up in shock.
“So...we’ve got to find a way to deal with this,” Joyce said seriously.
Buffy’s heart started beating fast. “Okay,” she said, trying not to sound too excited.
“First, I want to see Faith, talk to her myself,” Joyce said. “Do you think she would come over for dinner tonight?”
“Um, yeah,” Buffy replied, nearly bouncing on the couch. “I mean, I think so. I can call her.”
Joyce nodded but remained stern. “Second, I’ll have to set some ground rules. I want the two of you to slow things down. That means no fooling around. No locked bedroom doors, no sleepovers, and absolutely no spending the night at Faith’s.”
Buffy started to object but immediately backed down when her mother glared at her. “Okay,” she agreed, albeit somewhat reluctantly.
Joyce gave her daughter a small smile. “You’re young, Buffy. You don’t have to rush things. Get to know each other first.”
Buffy nodded in dutiful acquiescence.
Meanwhile, Faith paced nervously in her motel room. She cracked the knuckles in one fist, then did the same for the other. She glanced at the phone for the thousandth time. When it didn’t ring, she sighed and resumed pacing. The second she looked away, the phone rang. She whipped back around and ran over to snatch up the receiver.
“Hello?” she answered, a bit of trepidation in her voice.
“Do you want the good news or the bad news first?” Buffy said without so much as a greeting.
“Gimme the bad news first.”
“Sorry, gotta give you the good news first,” Buffy said teasingly.
“Why did you even ask me?” Faith groused, though not angrily.
“Just messin’ with ya,” Buffy said, laughing.
Faith visibly relaxed at the positive tone in Buffy’s voice. She plopped on the bed and leaned back into her pillows.
“The good news is Mom’s not ballistic anymore,” Buffy went on. “And the even better news is that you and I can still see each other! Isn’t that great?” At this last, Buffy practically squealed with glee.
Faith couldn’t help but laugh at Buffy’s reaction, and her face lit up in a truly happy smile. “Cool,” she said. “What’s the bad news, though?” she made herself ask.
“The bad news is she wants you to come to dinner tonight so that she can talk to you.”
Faith paused then answered with an unenthusiastic “Oh.”
Buffy sounded undaunted. “Looks like you get to have a ‘Mom Talk’ of your very own!” she said before succumbing to giggles.
Faith snorted. “Swell. A heart-to-heart with Mrs. Cleaver. Just what I need.”
Stifling her giggling, Buffy said, “So, can you come?”
“Yeah, sure,” Faith replied. “Long as I’m done in time for patrol.”
“Faith!” Buffy chided. “You’re still hurt. Giles told you to stay off patrol for a few days.”
“No, he didn’t,” Faith corrected. “He said ‘another day or so’, meaning approximately one day, which would be last night.”
“Noooo,” Buffy countered. “He said ‘another day or so at least’, meaning last night and, at the very least, one more night, which would be tonight.” When Faith started to object, Buffy cut her off. “Which is why....he and Willow and Xander are handling patrol tonight...and for the rest of the week. So no patrolling for you, missy!”
Faith groaned loudly and reluctantly said, “Fine.” After a playful huff of a sigh, she asked, “What time tonight?”
“Okay, I’ll be there. With bells on,” Faith added. “Whatever the hell that means.”
“Thank you,” Buffy said with all seriousness.
“No prob. See you tonight.” When Faith hung up, she let out a long deep breath and draped her arm over her face. “Oh boy.”