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Wishing Changes Everything: Revelations

by Declan
Rating: PG-13

+1=2=3+

Revelations (PART 1: Evil Is The Watcher-word)

Buffy sat on a couch in the Bronze, watching the world go by, people dancing, laughing and generally being happy. Normal stuff.

The club was crowded tonight; Dingos were playing and they were proving as popular as ever. Buffy was here with her friends and, having managed to snag a table from the masses, Buffy told them she was getting a drink. But in reality she really wasn’t in the right frame of mind to party and she didn’t want her moping killing the mood. The only thing she was killing tonight was time until her patrol with Giles. And also vampires.

Patrolling with Giles, it didn’t really have the same ring to it as patrolling with Faith. That was something she was missing very much.

‘See Buffy. See Buffy mope. See Buffy act like a crazy person just because she hadn’t seen a certain slayer in almost two weeks.’

11 days to be exact. 11 days that had involved torching sewer monsters, battling vampires, watching her Mom devolve into brat pack mode again and sitting her SAT’s, also again.

And still no sign of Faith.

Buffy had come home early from the Homecoming dance to find a concerned Mom asking about the ‘secret slayer mission’ that Faith was being sent on by Giles and whether Buffy was also going. She then went on to criticize Giles teaching methods and how she just didn’t understand the whole Watcher/Slayer dynamic.

Buffy had tiredly plead ignorance and went upstairs to discover one of Faith’s bags and some of her clothes were missing. Her dress just left discarded on the bed, she’d been and gone. Faith had left to go walkabout, as she’d often done in the past, although before Buffy had never known any particular reason why she’d taken off.

This time she did, one ill-advised kiss and a freak-out later Faith had decided that the mature thing to do was take off and play truant- she was a rebel after all.

Buffy sighed and took a sip of her drink; she knew that her heart wasn’t going to be in tonight’s slaying at all. She didn’t even know what her heart was doing these days; it wasn’t really reliable.

But Buffy knew that somehow this was all Faith’s fault, going and kissing her without even asking, there was an etiquette to these things, involving long looks and first dates and witty...

‘Just substitute patrolling for dating and maybe some misread signals and bam, Faith kissage.’

Buffy looked up, suddenly aware of her Willow and Xander standing there.

“That’s some deep thinking, right there.” Xander said to Willow as he looked down at Buffy.

“Very statue-like,” mused Willow, “Hey, maybe she’s keenly scanning the Bronze, y’know, for vampires.”

“I doubt it, Will. Vamps couldn’t breathe in here it’s so crowded.”

Willow smirked. “They don’t actually breathe.”

Xander waved his hand dismissively. “You know what I mean. Hey, maybe she’s wondering why ‘fat chance’ and ‘slim chance’ mean the same thing.”

Buffy rolled her eyes at them. “Stop it, you guys. I was just...hey, actually why is that?”

Willow sat down across from Buffy and regarded her. “So, what were you doing?”

“I was...getting a drink, like I said, and then I sat down. Then I spaced out. That’s the story so far.” Buffy shrugged her shoulders. “No drama here, really.”

“So, you wanna strut your stuff on the dance floor?” Xander glanced over his shoulder, “Or, well you could at least bob your head to the music, it’s kind of poky over there at the moment.”

“Ooh, we could pretend it’s like a mosh pit,” Willow said brightly, “except I’m not exactly sure what you do in a mosh pit...”

Cordelia made her way through the crowd, frowning in annoyance as she joined them. “Can I just say I liked this place before it got popular.”

Willow looked at her. “You can, you have and I’m sure you will again in the future.”

Xander put his arm around Cordelia. “It’s a burden being a trend-setter, hon.”

“Don’t I know it,” Cordelia looked around at everybody. “What are we doing anyway, is Buffy still moping?”

Buffy protested. “I’m not moping, I’m just...reflective. Reflective Buffy.”

Cordelia wasn’t buying it. “Just because your bestest new slaying pal goes off and decides to get a life of her own, your nose gets all out of joint.”

Willow was a bit more sympathetic. “It's okay, Buffy. I miss her too.”

Buffy put down her drink and sat up. “Guys, for the record, I’m fine. So Faith takes off when she feels like it, sure it’d be nice if I could do anything like that but I can’t. I get to be the responsible chosen one.”

“Yeah, we have responsible chosen one and tough, rebellious chosen one. Now all we need is there to be three other slayers and you can all wear matching outfits, in different colours. And you can all have unique and easily identifiable character traits.” Xander quipped.

Willow frowned at Xander. “How is that helping?”

“Heh, sorry...but we know she’s gonna come back right, I mean we’ve all made her feel sort of welcome.” Xander gave Buffy a searching look, “Why’d she even take off anyway?”

“Maybe Faith killed her boyfriend too.” Everyone looked at Cordelia, “What, it happened once already, right? Could totally happen again.”

Just then Oz came over and took Willow’s hands. “Hey.”

Willow smiled up at him. “You made it through the groupies okay?”

“Well I won’t lie, it was harsh. I might’ve left a couple of layers of skin behind - those girls are hazardous.” He bent nuzzled her hair, “Worth it though.”

Buffy looked at her friends, back and forth between her two groups of friends. Two couples actually, all looking at Buffy and her lonely group of one with pity. And with that Buffy suddenly found her motivation to hit things, Giles was going to be so impressed by the amount of violence she was going to inflict, he might even clean his glasses in some sort of sympathetic gesture towards the vampires who were going to die tonight. She wouldn’t even need...

“Faith.” Willow said in surprise as she spotted the brunette swaggering over to them.

Faith just grunted. “Yeah, what’s up?” She looked at Buffy and gestured over her shoulder, “Time to motivate.”

Buffy tried not to gawp at the sudden appearance of the other slayer. “Huh?”

Faith looked exasperated. “Come on, G’s expectin’ us.”

“Have fun on your travels?” Xander asked.

Willow looked between Buffy and Faith curiously. “Yeah, Faith, where did you get to anyway?”

“Tell ya later,” Faith watched as Buffy hurriedly grabbed her jacket and hat before walking back the way she came.

“See you guys later.” Buffy said as she followed Faith through the crowd. “Faith, wait up!”

Buffy made her way out into the alley in time to see Faith pausing to put on her jacket. A denim one over a white t-shirt, plus tight leather pants, her slaying outfit.

“How did you find me?”

“Went to your place to drop off some stuff and said hi to your Mom, then I rang Giles to tell him I was back. He said you were probably here,” Faith smirked at her, “not exactly a head scratcher, B.”

“Okay, next question, where the hell have you been for the past two weeks?” Buffy gave her her very best scowl, the one she’d been practising with a lot.

“I took off for a while, so what? After all the fighting at Homecoming I needed to get some, y’know. And this guy at the Fish Tank knew about a party in L.A so I went.” Faith shrugged. “Hellmouth isn’t the only place that things needed killing, B. I did my thing, birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim, slayers’ gotta slay. I figure you had things covered here so...L.A had plenty of targets.”

Buffy felt her anger deflate a little. “But, you just took off without saying anything. I was worried.” Faith snorted in disbelief. “I was.”

“Buffy, you took off for three months and didn’t tell anybody where you were goin’; don’t think you should be getting on my case about this.”

Buffy couldn’t believe her. “That was different. The whole thing with Angel...I had to get away.”

“Right, away from your friends, your Mom, your Watcher, everyone who gives a damn about you, fallin’ over each other to help you.” Faith rolled her eyes as she walked a way, “Musta been real rough.”

Buffy ran after her. “You have no idea what you’re talking about. Having to kill someone you love isn’t in the same league as...what happened between us.”

Faith frowned and stopped to look at her. “Huh?”

Buffy folded her arms. “Nice try, Faith. You ran off because we...you kissed me.”

Faith shook her head as she turned away. “Just horny, is all. You were too, but being a tight-ass you got all freaked out ‘cause you were kissing a chick. Bet you’ve spent all this time stewing in your own juices, still can’t admit that slaying makes you...”

Buffy made a face. “It does not! God, would you just stop with the imagery...” Buffy touched Faith’s shoulder so she faced her again. “I’m trying to talk about something that happened, okay? I...handled it badly, and I didn’t want to leave things that way. If you hadn’t run off...”

Faith looked bemused. “Wow, Buffy. I hate to burst your bubble, but kissing you didn’t exactly linger in the memory, ‘kay. Too busy actually having fun to wring my hands over some dumb-fuck thing you blurted out. I came back here to slay, that’s it. So, you wanna keep Giles waiting go ahead. Me, I’m done.”

With that Faith turned and sauntered off towards the cemetery, leaving Buffy more than a little hurt.

That’s not exactly how Buffy imagined their reunion happening, she’d pictured some apologising, a hug maybe, then they’d go and get ice cream.

‘And the sun would always shine, and the birds would sing, and everything would be great forever and ever. Stupid brain.’

She exhaled heavily and tried to calm down. This was just Faith being defensive, lashing out and acting like nothing happened, shutting Buffy down when she tried to talk about it.

Well, if she wanted to play things that way, fine. Buffy could wait; be patient, get her to open up again. Then they could kiss and make-out. Damn it, what was wrong with her? Make-up, just the make-up part.

Hesitantly, she put on her ski-cap and hurried after the other slayer.

*****

“Good evening, Faith, so nice of you to join us.” Giles paused as he saw Buffy lagging behind. “Buffy.”

Giles was dressed appropriately for the surprisingly chilly evening, and had armed himself with a thermos of tea.

“Okay, G. Just point us at the vamps and we’ll get dusting.” Faith seemed as eager as Buffy had been to dish out some violence.

“I thought we’d start over at Restfield, see if we can’t work on your co-ordination.”

Buffy nodded. “Lead the way.” Giles did just that and Buffy walked into step next to the other slayer. “So, apart from oodles of sex, what else did you do in L.A?”

Faith seemed to relax a little at Buffy’s conciliatory tone and smiled a little. “Just killing evil things y’know, some vamps, a Vahrall demon, and a mime over on South Beach- nothin’ special.”

“Sounds fun.” Buffy said, allowing a smile of her own, “Well, you missed the return of Ethan Rayne; guess it sucks to be you.”

Faith looked bummed for a second. “Aw damn, he come back for Halloween?”

“Nope, this time is was cursed candy. All the grown-ups suddenly started acting like teens. Scariest. Thing. Ever.”

Faith smirked at the thought. “All the grown ups, huh? Even...” She gestured at Giles as he walked in front of them.

“No, thank god. I made sure he didn’t get any of it. Back in his youth Giles was kind of...wild. It would’ve been ugly.” Buffy was very thankful she’d managed to stop Giles and her Mom...reuniting, a definite improvement on before.

“Wild, huh?” Buffy saw Faith look Giles over speculatively before grinning. “Yeah, I could see that.”

Buffy’s eyes widened. “You did not just check out Giles.” She hissed.

Faith nodded. “Sure did.”

‘This again.’ Buffy shuddered slightly. “But he’s...old and he’s our Watcher, which adds an extra layer of icky.”

Faith sneered a little at the other girl. “Geez, lighten up, princess. I’ve banged guys older than him ‘fore, plus he’s your Watcher, not mine.” Her voice was uncharacteristically tinged with bitterness.

Buffy didn’t know how to respond to Faith’s sudden change in tone or what she’d just said, a knot formed in her stomach. “I, uh, didn’t know you felt that way...”

Faith just shrugged like it was nothing and fell silent.

“Faith...”

Giles interrupted. “Right, here we are girls; there’s been an unusual amount of vampire activity in this area making it entirely suitable for our purposes.” He turned to regard them both. “Two active slayers will give us a rare opportunity to hone and perfect both your techniques...”

Faith interrupted. “Got one, this sucker’s mine!” Faith ran passed Giles as a vampire appeared around a nearby mausoleum. Buffy spotted another one, growling as he flanked them to the right.

“Watch and learn, Giles.” Buffy quipped as she raced over to the vamp. She saw Faith slam full tilt into hers, knocking him to the ground before grabbing him and throwing him bodily over a nearby stone bench.

Meanwhile Buffy dodged a couple of aggressive punches from her opponent, countering with a low kick to the leg followed by a fiercer roundhouse to the side, keeping the vamp on his toes. The vampire spun and managed to catch her across the face with a lucky punch before moving in close to grab her shoulder. Buffy let him try, before seizing and wrenching his wrist one way and then the other, using the momentum to fling him to the ground.

She snatched a look at Giles to see him sitting and watching; content to pour tea from his flask, a few metres away Faith grabbed her vampire’s leg as he tried to kick her before flipping him over, she sure didn’t lack for strength.

Buffy saw her vampire rise and barrel towards her, she ducked and used his momentum to drive an elbow into his stomach and then another into his face, spinning into a double roundhouse to finish him off, leaving him in a daze.

Relieved, Buffy pulled a stake, pushed her opponent so he was back to back with his fellow vamp. Just like last time, she jammed her stake in as Faith did the same and the two vamps were gone.

Buffy smiled in triumph and raised her hand to high-five Faith “Synchronised slaying.” but the other girl ignored it and turned away.

“You’re gonna leave me hanging?” She protested.

Faith shrugged as she walked over to Giles. “Whatever. So, G how was that?”

“Sloppy.” Another voice spoke from the darkness. ‘Oh, no. Not now. This just redefined sucky timing.’

From behind the bushes stepped Gwendolyn Post. Mrs. Holding a stopwatch as she regarded the two slayers. Giles looked on, slightly baffled.

She looked at Faith and spoke in clipped tones. “You telegraph punches.” Then at Buffy. “Leave blind sides open and, for a school night’s slaying take entirely too much time. Which one of you is Faith?”

Faith just stared at her defiantly. “Depends. Who the hell are you?”

‘Bad news. Really bad news.’

*****

They had all made their way from the cemetery to the school in relative silence, the two Watchers walking ahead of them and Faith staring antagonistically at the back of Mrs. Post. Who in turn had spoken in hushed tones to Giles so that the two girls couldn’t hear what was being said.

That knot that had formed in her stomach since Faith had come back seemed to have doubled in size; the friendship between her and Faith was really shaky at the moment and didn’t need interference by some primping witch. Buffy would have to stop this, just tell Giles to check her credentials or references or whatever and then Faith and her can get to fight over who gets to kick Her Majesty’s ass on the way out of town.

Although for now Buffy just sat in the library watching the evil Mrs. Post sweep about like she owned the place, running an evil, critical eye over Giles prized book collection. Giles was leaning and nervously cleaning his glasses. Faith stood by the table, arms crossed as she glared at the older woman.

“I’m telling you I don’t need a new Watcher! No offence, lady, I just have this problem with authority figures. They end up kinda dead.” That said she then sat down next to Buffy and slouched.

Buffy vaguely wondered why Faith was so anti-Watcher when she’d just told Buffy how much she resented the fact that Buffy had Giles, did she really think he was that cute? The girl made no sense.

Mrs. Post turned to face Faith as she finished poking about. “Duly noted, and fortunately, it’s not up to you.” She then looked at Giles, “Mr. Giles- where do you keep the rest of your books?”

Giles seemed nonplussed as he put on his glasses. “I’m sorry, the rest?”

“Yes, the actual library.” She paused for a moment. “Oh, I see.”

Giles got defensive. “I assure you, Mrs. Post, this is the finest occult reference collection...”

“...this side of the Atlantic.” Mrs Post finished, “I’m sure. Do you have Hume’s Paranormal Encyclopaedia?” She gazed coolly at Giles who just looked down at the desk. Mrs. Post walked back and forth behind the two slayers before she continued dryly. “The Labyrinth Maps of Malta?”

Buffy looked pleadingly at Giles. ‘Slap this bitch down.’

“It’s on order.” He muttered.

Mrs. Post mercilessly continued. “Well, I suppose you have Sir Robert Kane’s Twilight Compendium?”

“Oh, uh, yes.” Giles flailed around looking for it, “Yes, yes I do.” He eagerly showed it to the woman, Buffy had never seen him lose his dignity so fast. This lady was good, scary good.

Mrs. Post smiled condescendingly. “Well of course you do.” She walked stiffly past him. “I have been sent by the council for a very important reason. Faith needs a Watcher. I am to act in that capacity, and report back.”

Faith leaned forward. “Excuse me, Mary Poppins; you don’t seem to be listening...”

Giles interrupted her, trying to regain some authority. “Now, Faith, if the council feels you need closer observation, then we’ll all, of course, cooperate.”

Mrs Post regarded him coolly. “The council wishes a report on the entire situation here, including you.”

“Why, is the council suddenly worried about Giles’ tiny library? We’ve managed fine so far.” Buffy said, trying not to sound too mocking.

Even so, Giles seemed surprised by her outburst. “Buffy...”

But Mrs. Post wasn’t finished. “Yes, I supposed ‘managed’ is an apt description, as would be ‘muddled through somehow’. The council is concerned that operations here seem somewhat haphazard. Sloppy even.” Post regarded Faith, “Faith, sit up and pay attention.”

To Buffy’s surprise Faith did so, looking a little chastised. Giles subtly gestured for Buffy to do the same but she just ignored him.

Post continued. “And we cannot afford to be careless, especially now. A demon named Lagos is coming here, to the Hellmouth.” She gestured at Giles, “Mr. Giles, an illustration of Lagos, if you please.”

“Oh, ah, yes...” Giles hesitantly started to search amongst his books, Buffy almost winced.

Post allowed a small smile. “Perhaps later. Lagos seeks the glove of Myhnegon. No record of this glove’s full power exists. We do know that it is highly dangerous, and cannot fall into the hands of the demon. Lagos must be stopped.”

Giles looked up from his books. “What do you propose?”

Post gave him a withering smile. “Well, if it's not too radical suggestion, I thought we might kill him.” ‘Ouch, another intellectual bitch slap.’ Post continued, “I suggest two slayers for a coordinated hunt. We believe the glove to be buried in a tomb somewhere, so Lagos will be headed for the cemetery.”

“There is more than one in Sunnydale.” Giles commented.

“I see. How many?”

“Twelve,” Buffy piped up. “But Giles makes sure we know them all like the back of our hands. So patrolling them shouldn’t be a problem, right Faith?”

The other slayer just scowled at her and Giles looked a little puzzled.

Mrs Post gave them that infuriating unflappable smile. “Very well, we shall just have to take them one at a time.” She spoke directly to Giles, “Anything in your books that might pinpoint the exact location of the tomb would be useful, but then we cannot ask for miracles.”

By now Giles just looked exasperated.

“We’ll begin tomorrow at sunset,” She nodded her head in the direction of the library doors, “Faith, with me please.”

Buffy watched Faith meekly follow Mrs. Post as she left. And since Faith never went anywhere meekly Buffy decided that Post must be using magic. Or some strange British mind-control device they use for...pacifying the natives or whatever.

Giles took off his glasses, he looked a little dazed. “Well. That was bracing.”

Buffy nodded. “Like a hurricane or a bomb blast is bracing. Can I kill her?”

Giles smiled slightly. “Best not. The council might take a dim view of that.”

“But I bet we’d get points for initiative, right?” Buffy leaned forward, “Seriously, we should get the council on the phone and check her out.”

Giles seemed perplexed by that suggestion. “I don’t see any reason why that’s necessary. After all she came here to warn us. Unless you’re suggesting that this is some kind of unorthodox test.” Giles shook his head. “No Buffy, we mustn’t waste any time with formalities.”

“But maybe she’s lying about something else? Maybe she has an agenda or an interior motive?”

Giles regarded her dryly. “I think you mean ulterior motive.”

Buffy frowned. “Whatever, we just need...”

Giles interrupted her sharply. “Really, that’s enough Buffy. Mrs. Post is here to act as Faith’s Watcher, and has also delivered us a warning we would be foolish not to heed.” He stood up and scratched his forehead, “You should go on home, I clearly have a long night ahead of me.”

Buffy knew that she was being dismissed and she couldn’t push Giles any harder without making him suspicious. She decided to change the subject, “Hey, uh, anything on the whole wish thing, Angel coming back and stuff, it’s been a couple of weeks...”

Giles nodded distractedly. “Yes, quite. Well, let’s see, I’ve, uh, I’ve narrowed down the search quite extensively, ruled out several cursed objects that cast powerful glamours, dream imps or vengeance demons- they don’t work through dreams and their motives are quite different.” He hesitated, “If you can remember anything else that could help...”

“I’ll rack my brain, see if anything pops loose.” Buffy decided this wasn’t the best time to mention her body art, but since her own fumbling research into the subject had led her to a book about remote tribes of pigmies, she probably did need Giles’ help.

She said goodnight and left him to his books.

*****

Faith was sitting on the front step when Buffy got home.

“Your Mom’s gone to bed and I don’t have a key.” She shrugged as she explained.

“Yeah, I’m sorry about that. I forgot how late it was.” Buffy stepped up to the front door and got her keys out. She felt Faith get up and move behind her.

“So, how didja sneak in and out all those times without your Mom knowing ‘bout it.” Faith’s husky voice made Buffy’s stomach flip-flop a little, she’d missed her more than she thought.

“Oh, just snuck out of my bedroom window and across the porch roof. Very ninja.” Buffy make a shushing motion as they entered, “You hungry? We could probably grab something in the kitchen.”

“Sure.” Faith followed Buffy down the dark hallway and into the kitchen, she then slid onto on a stool while Buffy slapped on a light and opened the fridge.

Buffy took out a pot of vanilla yoghurt and a big bowl of leftover carbonara and pushed the latter towards Faith. “Pour in half a cup of water, stir and nuke for two minutes, and voilà, pasta goodness.”

Faith took the bowl with a grin. “You’re a regular iron chef.”

Buffy sat on one of the stools and watched the other slayer move about as she ate her yoghurt. Yum, it did tend to taste nicer after slaying, no denying it.

‘That’s just because of the brush with death thing; last meals on death row probably taste nice too. No way Faith is on the money about the whole slaying sitch.’

The microwave hummed quietly in the dark as the pasta rotated, Faith impatiently tapped the counter with her fingers.

Buffy found herself thinking about all the times she snuck in here alone, past midnight after an evening of slaying. Sitting in the dark as she quickly ate something before bed. It was always so lonely, so quiet. The rest of the world, her Mom, friends, everybody, switched off all their worries and got a few blissful hours of sleep while she sat in the dark, thinking that her life would always be like this. Sitting there alone, doing her slayer duty in secret, Buffy felt left behind as the rest of the world moved on oblivious.

But now, with Faith, it was the two of them, like they were sharing something secret, eating and talking and laughing and it was the world that was missing out, because they weren’t here to see it.

Faith sat across from Buffy and dug into the bowl with a fork, smiling widely like it was some big luxury and not just leftovers. Pursing her lips Faith lightly blew on the steaming pasta before popping some into her mouth and chewing with delight, moaning softly.

Before she could stop herself Buffy blurted, “I missed you.”

Faith stopped chewing and stared at Buffy with an unreadable expression.

Buffy swallowed a little nervously. “About what I said, I...wasn’t worried about you; I know you can take care of yourself. But I missed you, like, all the time you were gone. I guess that’s why I was mad at you. I mean, um, I just wish...actually no, I just wanted us to argue and shout and then be friends again. I didn’t want you to go away, and I’m really sorry about what I said. Every day I felt bad about it. So, um, sorry, again.”

Buffy stopped and stared down at her yoghurt. Great, instead of joking and banter and fun, now Faith was gonna run off again or sneer at Buffy and tell her to grow up, or loosen up, or do something upwards.

Moments ticked by, was the kitchen clock always that loud?

Buffy heard Faith shift a little. “Listen B, I’m gonna finish this upstairs, ‘kay. Maybe I’ll see you in the morning.” She heard the other girl get up and head for the kitchen door.

‘Well, that was pretty humiliating. No wonder I’m so limber, I spend a lot of time sticking my foot in my...’

“I missed you too, B.” Faith had stopped at the doorway and had turned to look at her, “It just...hurt, what’cha said, even if you didn’t mean it.”

Buffy met her eyes. “I didn’t. I promise.”

“Anyways, I didn’t like being gone so long. Kept missing you and your dopey friends...”

Buffy smiled. “They're the dopiest, but they do grow on you.”

Faith blew out a breath and shook her head like she was going crazy. “I’m gonna go, try out my new bed. ‘Night.”

Buffy watched her go, a bubble of happiness forming in her chest. She actually felt better now than at any time since Homecoming night, Faith was back, they were okay. Not great but okay. And tomorrow, Buffy would try a different approach; if Giles wouldn’t help her then she was sure Angel would. After all he fetched the glove last time, and Buffy was pretty sure he even knew how to destroy it. Mrs. Post wasn’t getting her hands on the glove of...the magic mitten any time soon.

*****

Buffy carefully parted the curtains and stepped into the mansion interior, pausing slightly to let her eyes adjust from afternoon sun to the gloom of Angel’s home. A flicker of movement from the fireplace caught her attention as she moved forward.

She stopped as she saw a bare-chested Angel, moving slowly, purposefully and gracefully as he trained. Firelight played across his pale skin, his motions smooth and steady as he slowly came to a stop. He bent his head as if exhausted but then stiffened and looked up at her.

‘Busted.’ “Um, hey,” Buffy said with an awkward wave, “That looked...you’re looking good. I-I mean...”

“I’m getting stronger,” Angel finished, walking over to the sofa and hurriedly putting on a shirt. “It helps...with the pain, lets me focus.” He turned towards her, shirt still open, “How have you been, Buffy?”

‘Mainly...sexually frustrated. But I guess you’d know something about that.’

Buffy shook those thoughts from her head. “Fine, I, um, brought you some liquid lunch.” She shrugged off her backpack and took out a paper bag. “See, Sunnydale has a delivery service for everything...”

She finished lamely as she walked over and offered up the bag.

Angel reached over and took it before sitting down on the couch. “So, how are things... in general? Your boyfriend?”

Buffy frowned. “My boyfriend? Oh, um, that...it’s kind of over, actually. Turns out he wasn’t so solid, he dumped me.”

Angel nodded in sympathy. “I’m sorry.” He said it softly, like he meant it. He put the bag of blood to one side and stared into the flickering light of the fireplace, to Buffy it seemed that he was trying to avoid looking at her.

Buffy looked at him curiously. “Are you? Sorry, I mean?”

He didn’t look at her. “I want you to be happy, that’s all.”

Buffy stopped herself getting drawn in to all this again, so close but yet always separated, no matter what she did.

She sighed as she sat on the sofa next to him, being near him was still a comfort if nothing else. “Well, I am happy, in general. Took my SAT’s last week, think I aced them. They underestimated me and that was their fatal mistake.”

Angel glanced over questioningly. “SAT’s?”

“School exams, see what college I’m going to get into, or if I tumble spiralling down into the fast food job category.”

Angel’s lips curled slightly. “But you did well?”

“Yeah.” Buffy decided to get to the reason she visited, “Listen, I have news of a slay-ey variety and I might need your help, so...”

Angel looked at her steadily. “Anything I can do, I will.”

She met his gaze. ‘Oh, boy...’ “So, the last few weeks there’s been a new Slayer in town. She was called after Kendra...after what happened. She’s American, from Boston.”

Angel nodded softly. “Why did she come here?”

“Well her Watcher died and she heard about me, I guess she got curious. She turned up and became my new patrolling buddy.”

“That’s good.” Angel’s eyes seemed to look right into her, “I worry about you. About not being there to help, I’m glad someone is.”

Buffy found herself smiling happily. “Yeah, Faith has been a big help for a while now. She’s kind of complicated but fun, in an unstable kind of way.”

Angel was watching her closely, his face expressionless. “Faith? That’s her name.”

Buffy smiled. “I know. What is it with Slayers and unique first names? She’s nice though.”

“Does she...Have you told her about me? I understand if you haven’t...”

“I did tell her.” Buffy reassured him, “She doesn’t get it...I’m not sure she gets relationships in general and having one with a vampire...” Buffy shook her head, “And I’m pretty sure she won’t like you. But she’s not going to accidentaly slay you if you pop out for snacks or... you know what I mean, whatever you go into town for.”

“That’s...reassuring.” Angel said straight-faced, “Oh, and doughnuts. Jelly ones. Hell doesn’t have them.”

Buffy laughed a little. “That’s something priests should mention in their sermons more often.” This was nice; she was having a conversation, an actual conversation with Angel. Minimal tension and very few longing glances.

“So, how can I help?”

“Oh, right. We got told by Faith’s new Watcher about a demon coming to town looking for an all-powerful artifact, like something out of D&D. The demon’s called a...Lagos, or his name is Lagos, some confusion there.”

The name caught Angel’s attention, as Buffy knew it would. “Lagos. I remember them from...a long time ago, used to be a lot more of them around in those days. Pretty rare now, they don’t crop up in civilized areas much, too caught up in their own feudal wars.” He looked in concern at Buffy, “If it’s here then that means this artifact must be powerful, Buffy. Be careful.”

“Two slayers, double the fun, remember? Or maybe it’s half the fun...Not that there is much fun to be had by killing a demonathing.” Buffy refocused, “Anyway, he’s looking for the Glove of...I wanna say mini-golf, but that probably isn’t right. Could you ask around? See if you can turn up anything?”

Angel nodded grimly. “As soon as the sun goes down I’ll go, I might have a few ideas where to start.”

They stood up together from the couch, suddenly a lot nearer than they’d been sitting. Buffy felt how close Angel was, how tall and solid and...She looked up at him; he was gazing into her eyes.

Still staring she said. “I really have to go.”

Angel nodded and raised his hand to her face, brushing away a strand of hair. “You’ll be careful?”

Buffy nodded and took a step back. “I’m very cautious nowadays.” She tried to keep her voice firm.

Angel stepped away, picked up the container of blood and moved over to the dying fire. Embers cast shadows on his sombre face. “You should go.”

Buffy turned to go before stopping. “And another thing...Faith’s Watcher, her name’s Gwendolyn Post. I don’t like her and I don’t trust her.” She looked at Angel who gave her his patented penetrating look, “If she comes near you... just don’t turn your back on her, okay.”

Angel gave her a small, sad smile that made Buffy feel like her heart was breaking and melting at the same time. “I’m very cautious nowadays.”

Buffy smiled sadly before leaving.

‘Girl with a purpose, channel all this frustration into killing a big, stupid demon and then burn the glove as Little Miss Stuffy looks on, horrified. Then, maybe I’ll feel better.’

*****

A bored Buffy and Faith walked lazily through cemetery number six, but Maple Wood was as dead as Buffy remembered it; Lagos must be at the next one.

Faith cracked her knuckles. “Man, wish this guy would show himself already. I’m gettin’ kinda antsy, y’know?”

Buffy was staring at her hand thinking about using a different nail varnish; this stuff came off too easily. “Not really, he’ll show eventually. Angel said that these guys aren’t big on subtle, I’ll save my strength ‘til then.”

Faith looked at the other girl speculatively. “So you and Angel just talk shop now, huh? Must be weird, chatting with your ex.”

Buffy nodded absentmindedly. “It’s a little weird, granted. But he does have info, he can help. And I can’t let personal stuff get in the way.”

“Gotta say, I’m a little curious ‘bout him, I mean I haven’t even seen the guy.” Faith smirked, “He lives in that big mansion over on Crawford, right? Maybe I’ll stop by sometime, just to sneak a peek, y’know?”

Buffy didn’t rise to the bait. “Go ahead. I’ve told him about you so I don’t think he’ll mind.” She looked at Faith, “Anyway, how did you treat your exes?”

“Dropped ‘em to the curb and ran, B.” Faith said scornfully. “I tell ya I’ve had a few shockers.” She counted off on her fingers, “Ronnie. Deadbeat. Steve. Klepto. Kenny. Drummer. Eventually I had to face up to my destiny as a loser magnet. Now it’s strictly get some and get gone. You can’t trust guys.”

Buffy smiled at the other girl’s cynicism. “Well, Faith, guys are kind of everywhere. You can’t have dated all of them. And I’ve even read about some nice ones.”

“Yeah, that’s why they call it fiction, Buffy. It ain’t real.”

Buffy persisted. “But still, girl like you has a lot of options.”

Faith stopped and looked at her. “What d’ya mean, ‘a girl like me’.”

Buffy came to a stop and shrugged awkwardly. “I mean, you’re smart, funny, and beautiful. Guys would probably throw themselves to the vampires, hoping you’d rescue them. If they knew vampires existed, of course.”

Faith frowned at that and started walking again, not saying anything for a while. “You really think I’m smart.” She sounded unsure.

Buffy decided not to poke fun. “Yes Faith, I think you’re smart, when you want to be. I think you have lots of good points, some of them not so obvious.”

Faith smiled and wiggled her eyebrows. ”And some pretty obvious ones too.” She pulled back her jacket and gestured to her tight top and pants, the vulnerability having vanished.

Buffy looked her over and shook her head. “You’re impossible.”

Faith laughed a little huskily. “Hey, that’s pretty good. Nobody ever said my tits were impossible before.”

Buffy reddened. “That’s not what I meant.”

Faith grinned at Buffy’s discomfort as they made their way on to Main Street, and nudged her shoulder. “Hey, thanks anyways, just as long as you ain’t bigging me up so we can go on some double date thing. ‘Cause like I said I don’t date anymore.”

Buffy sighed. “Nope, there are plenty of couples around already. All my friends for example, thanks to me they’re problem free.” Buffy decided to change the subject onto something a little less depressing, “So, what did you and Miss Post talk about last night?”

Faith shrugged. “She wanted to know a little about what I did back in Boston, what I’d killed, how much training I had and stuff.” Faith stepped off the sidewalk to swing round a tree. “Plus, y’know, she wanted the skinny on what was going on here. You, your buds and Angel.”

Buffy froze and her eyes widened. “You told her about Angel? What did you say?”

Faith looked a little confused. “Just the basics, y’know, vamp cursed by gypsies, got all guilt ridden. Went bad again and now he’s back ‘cause of somethin’ you did. What’s the prob?”

“So, pretty much everything.” She scowled at Faith, “You shouldn’t have done that, Faith. The stuff with Angel is private; I don’t like strangers knowing about any of it.”

Faith gave Buffy a bemused look. “What’s the big deal; she’s a Watcher, Buffy. They like to know stuff, it gives them their jollies. Anyway, she’s heard of Angel, he’s, like, famous, or somethin’.”

Buffy cursed inwardly, if Post knew Angel was a vampire and tried to take the glove then who knows what could happen, what might change. Okay, she just wouldn’t leave her alone. Kill demon guy, take glove, what could Mrs. Post do? Apart from fill Faith’s head with lies...

“Faith, listen. You shouldn’t trust her, okay? She kinda gives me the wiggins, it’s...hard to explain.”

Faith stood there and crossed her arms, she raised an expectant eyebrow. “Try.”

Buffy tried to find a way to explain that sounded sane and that wasn’t a total lie. She gestured helplessly. “Just instinct, I guess.”

Faith looked suspicious. “Whatever. It’s not like I dig her either, you wanna keep secrets, fine.” The brunette looked around, seemingly annoyed, “Look, we’re oh for six tonight. Let’s blow this off.”

Buffy shook her head. “I don’t think that’s a good idea. Shady Hill’s pretty close. C’mon, you haven’t even hit anything yet...”

Faith sighed heavily. “Fine, one more and then I’m leavin’ your ass and goin’ for some ribs, understand?”

Buffy smiled happily, “You won’t be disappointed.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

*****

Buffy couldn’t tell if Faith’s sulking was for real or if she just didn’t feel like talking anymore. The brunette walked next to her, kicking the occasional pile of leaves and punching her fist into her palm, Faith just grunted at any attempt that Buffy made to start another conversation.

Buffy gave up after a while, deciding to concentrate on looking out for Lagos, pretending that a seven-foot tall demon in medieval garb would sneak up on her in the dark. Shady Hill was pretty opulent as cemeteries went; lots of gabled mausoleums, wrought iron fences and stone statues. Buffy more often that not found herself admiring a creepy piece of gothic architecture rather than talking to the pretty girl next to her.

‘I hate my life.’

Suddenly the sound of stone grating on stone cut through the night and an impossibly large stone lid slammed to the ground in front of the two girls. Faith, startled, looked up ahead to see Lagos a few metres away. His back was to the two of them as he busily ransacked and ripped through a tomb, looking for something.

Buffy touched Faith’s arm and whispered quietly. “See what a little patience gets you? We’ll come at him from two sides, try and keep him off balance...”

“Screw that.” Faith said before rushing forward before Buffy could stop her and leaping up to fly kick the demon in the back.

Lagos grunted and turned in confusion; Faith grabbed his shoulder and laid into him with a heavy backhand- forehand smash, before punching him in the gut and slugging him in the face, finishing off by kicking him in the side, seeming to pour all her frustrations into pounding him.

Lagos didn’t even seem to react to the strikes, simply grabbing Faith by the throat and hurled her back into the wall of a nearby mausoleum. Buffy rushed passed the downed slayer at Lagos, drawing his focus. She kicked low, slamming her heel against his knee and punched him in the jaw, then ducking a clumsy grab.

To her left she saw Faith struggle to her feet, her face contorted in anger. Buffy kicked low again, aiming for Lagos’ groin, but instead caught his leg. His sweeping arm came down and managed to glance against her thigh, the power of it still enough to send her tumbling to the ground.

Still confused Lagos turned his attention to Faith as she rushed him again. Drawing back an arm to haymaker him, she ran straight into a massive fist on an upswing that caught her in the gut. Faith was lifted off her feet and hurled to the ground in pain.

Buffy came up and at Lagos again, going low once more and kicking him in the leg before booting him between the legs. She watched as the demon doubled over, exposing the large axe strapped to his back, with a grin of triumph Buffy quickly reached to grab it.

That proved to be a mistake.

Lagos, still doubled over, turned towards Buffy, moving so the axe managed to elude her grasp. Realising she was too close, Buffy tried to back off but an elbow from the demon crashed against the back of her neck. She dropped to the ground and tried to scramble away but before she could he swung an arm down that slammed against her face. Pain pierced her skull and bursts of light formed behind Buffy’s eyes as she felt him grasp her by her coat and neck, pick her up and hurl her through the air.

Buffy saw flashes of the moon overhead, grass, and the wall of the mausoleum as she hurtled towards it. Buffy threw up her arms to cushion the blow but something smashed into her legs, knocking them skyward. She heard Faith grunt and then she went cart-wheeling to the ground, her head slammed awkwardly into something hard.

Buffy dimly heard Faith call her name in alarm before the world fell away and blackness swept in.

Buffy arose from unconsciousness to sounds of combat, she could hear Faith screaming. “You don’t touch her! You hear me you bastard!” Buffy managed to lift her head up, feeling an incredible weight dragging her down, like her skull was tied to the ground.

She saw Faith and Lagos fighting, the dark-haired slayer punching and dodging the demon, her fists flailing against him. Buffy saw Lagos briefly on the defensive before blocking and grabbing Faith’s arm, hauling her into the air, twirling her around like she weighed nothing before smashing her down into the empty tomb with a bone-jarring crunch. Roaring in frustration the demon then stalked away from the two of them, seeming oblivious to its victory.

Buffy lay there, her arm reached out and touched rough stone; the tomb lid which she’d landed on.

One hand came up to feel her head, touching wetness which she assumed was dew from the grass before pulling her fingers back. Blood. Ow.

Buffy managed to sit up, ignoring the throbbing pain that spread across the side of her head.

‘That...could’ve gone better.’

“Buffy!” The blonde slayer looked towards the tomb as Faith stood up, one hand pressed to her side. “Buffy, shit are you alright?”

Not waiting for an answer she swung her leg over and hopped out of tomb, leaning for a moment against a tombstone before making her way over.

Buffy got onto her hands and knees, making enormous effort to ignore the fun spinning effect that it had, before pushing herself upright.

“Jeez, Buffy, take it easy. You had a bad landing.” Faith put an arm around her and helped her to her feet.

Buffy groaned. “We need to work on our...not getting hit. Plus we need more weapons, more than none at any rate. Like grenades, grenades are under-rated...”

She and Faith made their way a short distance before leaning Buffy against a solid tombstone, Buffy gave it an appreciative pat.

Faith took a step back, a little out of breath. “Just rest a minute, okay?”

“I’m fine...but be honest, is there a huge dent in my head? Is it big? Could I maybe hide it with a comb over or a hair pin?” Buffy gingerly fingered her head, “Or is it so bad I’ll need to wear hats all the time? I have some nice hats.”

Faith looked at her speculatively. “I sure hope you ain’t concussed, babbling away like this.”

“Your bedside...graveside manner is impressively bad, Faith. You’re like the anti-Patch Adams.”

Faith smirked uneasily before turning away and holding her side. “I’m guessin’ you’re fine.”

Buffy gently grabbed the other girl and turned her closer. “Hey, you’re hurt...”

“Just got the wind knocked out, nothin’ broke. No big.” Faith said, squirming a little as Buffy put a hand gently against the other girl’s side.

“What’s wrong?”

Faith grimaced, almost embarrassed. “Nothin’...just a fight like that, uh, gets me goin’, y’know.”

Buffy, realising what the other girl was saying and how close they were quickly dropped her hand away. “Oh! Um, sorry, I didn’t mean to touch...I mean, I’m glad you're okay.”

Faith was staring at Buffy, seemingly trying to gauge her reaction, eyes drifting searchingly over her face, eyes, then lips before her gaze roamed downwards, taking in her red coat that had parted just enough to show off her clingy purple top. Faith’s eyes stayed there for a moment, her expression changing a little, her lips, suddenly dark and inviting to Buffy’s eyes, curled into a smile. Her mouth opened slightly so Buffy could see her tongue press against her top teeth. Faith’s dark eyes lifted to meet Buffy’s, they seemed larger than before and hadn’t seemed as dark or torrid or gorgeous.

Buffy was aware of how close they were to each other, Faith’s taut body inches from her own. That scent from Homecoming drifted into her senses, with it the smell of leather and some vague flowery aroma.

She felt flushed, almost feverish. Her head, still throbbing, seemed to dull as her senses concentrated on the girl in front of her. Faith’s long, dark hair that Buffy had the urge to run her hands through, the slim band of skin visible between Faith’s jeans and top, Faith’s shoulders, bare of any bra strap, which meant only in thin tight top between Buffy’s hands and Faith’s...

“Faith...” Buffy murmured, her hands going to the other girl’s hips, sliding along the pockets before digging into her belt.

“B...” Faith’s voice was part lust part uncertainty as one of her hands cupped Buffy’s chin and tilted her face upwards.

And then they were kissing, Buffy pulled the dark-haired girl closer and met Faith’s eager mouth. This wasn’t Homecoming, a sweet romantic kiss that came from a moment of tenderness. This was frantic, hard, almost bruising. Clashing tongues and roaming hands as they wrapped around each other. Buffy moaned, her body seemed to hum with need, she was already wet with desire and when Faith’s thigh pushed firmly against her centre she gasped loudly in appreciation.

Faith’s hands spread open her coat and cupped Buffy’s breasts with surprising softness, her thumbs tracing a pattern over the material, rasping against the stiff sports bra underneath. Buffy’s hands went to the other girl’s hair and pulled back, her mouth moving forward to suck the silky softness of Faith’s neck. Faith moaned in pleasure, her own hands leaving Buffy’s chest and reaching round to cup her ass.

“Fuck...B.”

“Uh-huh...” Was all Buffy could respond with, she seemed to have lost all reason. All that mattered was touching Faith, letting her know how she’d missed her and wanted her so she wouldn’t dare go away again. Her hands ran down Faith’s body, fingernails scratching over cloth and hands trembling slightly as she put them on Faith’s chest. Buffy cupped a little hesitantly, feeling warm, firm flesh under her palms and finding the sensation incredibly erotic.

Faith murmured appreciation into Buffy’s hair, her mouth lowering to kiss and nibble exposed neck, sucking on her pulse point, teeth scraping sensitive flesh and making Buffy feel light-headed.

Faith grunted as she lifted Buffy up sat her heavily down on the tombstone, leaving her mouth level with the blonde girl’s heaving chest. She nuzzled Buffy, her mouth kissing through the material of her top, teeth occasionally nipping through the material.

Faith’s hands went to Buffy’s hips and drifted under her shirt, nimble fingers glided against hot skin as they travelling slowly upwards.

But Buffy was having trouble; her head hadn’t really stopped hurting, just fading in and out with the pleasure of the moment. She wanted to continue, in this moment the clarity was stark, she wanted this, Faith, now. But not this way, not while she was sore and possibly concussed.

Buffy cupped the sides of Faith’s head and gently pulled her away. “Faith, wait, just stop. I can’t...”

Faith paused and then pulled away suddenly, her face angry. “’Dammit, Buffy!” Without looking at her Faith tore her hands loose from Buffy and turned away.

But by doing that Buffy lost her precarious balance on the tombstone and toppled backwards with a quiet gasp, she grunted as she landed hard on the ground. The jarring impact made waves of pain and dizziness course through her head; she rolled onto her side and huffed out a groan.

“Faith...Ow...you didn’t need to...”

But the graveyard was quiet all of a sudden; Buffy only heard the soft thump of boots running off.

"...go and run off, again.”

Slowly Buffy sat up again, trying to spot which way the other slayer had run off, but she saw nothing.

“Well, so that...happened.”

Revelations (PART 2: The Magic Mitten And Other Important Stuff)

“Angel?” Buffy called out as she reached to fully open the French windows. She hesitated. She really didn’t feel a hundred per cent, but if Angel had managed to get the glove again she needed to know tonight. Buffy would feel a little better about letting Lagos get away if she could give Giles some good news in the morning.

Buffy glanced around; saw Angel in front of the fireplace as he looked up from a book. He saw her and his face turned to concern; dropping the book he hurried over. “Buffy!”

Buffy tried to wave him away. “I’m okay, really, it looks worse than it is...I hope.”

Angel gently took her by the arm, his other hand going to the side of her head. He led her over to the sofa and sat her down softly. “Take it easy. Was it Lagos?”

“Uh-huh, little rusty on the dismount...I don’t understand, I beat him the first time.” Off of Angel’s frown, “I mean, um, I’ve faced one of those guys before...before I came to Sunnydale. Beheaded it and everything. No big, and now I have a big head.”

Angel was peering at her wound. “What happened to Faith?”

“She’s fine, a little beat up though. We, um, decided to split up after.”

“She left you alone like this?” He sounded angry.

“Angel don’t, she didn’t...I’m fine, really. A band-aid with a little cartoon character on it and I’m good.”

“I have some clean towels and fresh water. Give me a second.” Angel stood up and left.

Buffy lowered her head onto her hands. “I wouldn’t say no to an Advil.”

She waited for him to return, her mind still a little foggy, and her body still buzzing from kissing Faith. Also the...everything else that happened with Faith.

‘I find Faith attractive. Me. Attracted to Faith. Faith the slayer who tried to kill me last year. Faith, who doesn’t date at all. Faith who is a girl, with girl-parts, really nice girl-parts... Ugh, this is crazy. A crazy lesbian fantasy dream caused by a blow to the head. Except... Except that it’s real and I don’t have the first clue about how to deal with it, any of it. I just need...’

“Angel...” She murmured as he touched her shoulder, He didn’t answer, just pressed a cold, wet towel against the side of her head. She winced at the sensation but the fog began to clear.

His voice was soft with concern. “There’s not much blood now, just a little swelling. But head wounds can be dangerous...”

“I know.” Buffy opened her eyes to look at him, seeing his love, his warmth. “But I don’t taste anything funny or have any floaty feelings. It’s just sore, getting better now, though.” She allowed a small smile.

They stared at each other for a long time and it was like always, as though the world had gone away; it was just them and the night. A girl and a boy and her head wound. His face, so handsome and sombre, that softened every time he saw her like she was the most important thing in the world, slowly leaned closer to hers.

Buffy realised what exactly was going to happen just moments before it did. The kiss was soft; Angel’s lips were cool, familiar and comforting. Buffy embraced him, automatically putting her arms around him as she rose up and he held her close. The thoughts that had been racing through her head minutes ago dissipated, she felt his strong arms on her waist as the kiss deepened.

This was simple, a simpler time when Buffy knew what she wanted, knew how Angel felt about her and how that had made her feel.

But she knew that was illusion, a child’s view of love, because they couldn’t ever be, not like she wanted. With that realisation her mind seemed to awaken and Buffy pulled back. Angel’s face was a mirror of her own, confused and guilty.

“Buffy...I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have...”

‘First Faith, now Angel. I’ve really gotta control myself.’

Buffy stepped away breathless, she shook her head. “I-I didn’t exactly try and stop you, Angel. But, I...you know we can’t.”

Angel nodded a little shakily.

Buffy took a breath before adding. “And...I have to tell you, there might be someone else...”

“But you said you and Scott...?” His voice was unsure.

“Not Scott, somebody... new. It wasn’t something I was even expecting, not in a million years. But they... they’re special to me.”

Angel looked at her steadily.

Buffy didn’t look at him. Should she really tell him when she wasn’t even sure herself? She knew there were feelings there, denial could only go so far, but still saying it out loud, admitting it to someone made it real. Undeniable.

“It’s Faith.” She said softly, her eyes went to his as part of her inwardly cringing.

Angel blinked, looked nonplussed for a moment. “Faith...the other slayer?”

“Uh-huh.” Buffy squeaked.

“But, she’s... Faith would be a girl.” Buffy heard the undertone of hurt and confusion in Angel’s voice.

Buffy nodded weakly. “Nothing gets past you, huh?”

Angel scratched the back of his head. “Is it...when did this happen?”

“Mostly, this past few weeks but...confirmed about an hour ago.” Buffy shrugged awkwardly, “You and her really have the same idea about TLC.”

“Well, that’s...new, like you said.”

Buffy gaze left him; she didn’t like looking at his pain. “Angel, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. I’m just trying to be honest.” She smiled sadly, “I love you...I think I’ll always love you. But we can’t be together, and Faith makes me feel...” She sighed. “You know, come to think of it you actually have a lot in common. You’re both complicated, um, with mysterious pasts. You’ve built up lots of defences to stop other people getting in. You’ve both gone through stuff- badness, I’m sure of that. And I want to get to know her, to find out what she’s like under all that cynicism and distrust.”

“You’re in love with her.” Angel stated simply.

Buffy shook her head and looked at him. “I don’t know...I really hope not. I just started out wanting to be her friend, share the whole slayer burden thing.”

Angel gave a sad smile in sympathy. “And now what do you want?”

“That’s the important thing.” Buffy blinked, “Actually the important thing is the glove. Did you...?”

Angel nodded and gestured to a nearby table. Buffy recognised the bundle of wrappings as she stepped closer.

Angel moved with her and unveiled it. “The glove of Myhnegon. Found it in the Von Hauptmann crypt.”

“As family heirlooms go it’s fairly freaksome...” She peered closer, remembering how dangerous this thing was.

Angel gently stopped her. “Don’t touch it. Once the glove is put on it can never be removed.”

Buffy nodded. “I remember, and anyway it doesn’t even go with anything I own so....” She looked down and Angel dropped his arm away, “So that’s the glove safe. I’ll tell Giles in the morning, he could use some good news. I better get home, thanks for the wet towel and the...um, just the wet towel.”

Buffy moved away from Angel, casting one last look back at him as she left the mansion and headed home.

*****

“So we are, again. Along with my lunch.” Mr. Platt put down his coffee and frowned at Buffy, although he seemed more exasperated than annoyed.

Buffy gave her best innocent smile as she stood in the middle of his office. “Well, isn’t it, like policy to always be on call for students and their...problems?”

“No, I believe that’s doctors.” Platt said dryly. “Buffy, I’m very happy to see that you’ve been staying out of trouble and that your grades and class attendants are both up, but...”

“But I might be going off the rails. Y’know, going from being a good student and then falling into a bad student, um, gorge. You have, like a duty to help me.” Buffy tried not to look too desperate, “Please?”

The man sighed. “You’ve got five minutes. Convince me.”

“Uh, okay.” Buffy sat quickly and tried to get her thoughts in order, “Well, there are girls and then there are also guys. And some guys like other guys, which is cool, y’know. And also there are girls who might like other girls.”

She paused. Platt merely raised an eyebrow.

“But, usually when you decide which you...not that it’s a choice, I mean not usually...” Buffy scrunched up her face, “I might’ve kissed a girl.”

“Faith.” Platt said flatly, he didn’t seem surprised.

Buffy raised her eyebrows. “Um, yeah. Yes, how did you know?”

“It doesn’t matter Buffy, what exactly has you worried?”

“Well, the whole ‘kissing -a -girl thing’ kinda threw me. How come you’re not thrown? Are you still irked? With me coming in here? At least now you see it’s an emergency.”

Platt leaned forward and steepled his hands. “Buffy the last time you were in here you were talking about Faith, and also the time before that. I could see pretty well even then that you’d developed a bond with this girl, a friendship. Sometimes these things grow in ways we don’t imagine.”

Buffy clasped her hands nervously. “But, what does it mean?”

Platt seemed thoughtful. “Let’s see if I can’t make a few educated guesses before I answer. You and Faith, you have a lot in common; you see the world in the same way. You sometimes both feel like outsiders and nobody gets you, but she understands things about you that nobody else can. She came into your life at a difficult time; maybe helped you see another side to things, a lighter side. How am I doing so far?”

Buffy shifted a little. “Um, pretty good actually. You could go pro...”

Platt sat up straighter and stared at Buffy. “Buffy, having feelings for somebody the same sex as you isn’t as freaky or as weird as you think. And I’m not talking about throwing any labels around or maybe having a crush on a teacher. Liking or loving somebody can be about a lot of things that resist category. It can be about two people connecting on some level.”

“How do I know if what I’m feeling even is even real?”

“Well, I’m pretty certain you’re not the kind of person who comes to a councillor willingly over an innocent kiss, am I right? Your instincts tell you this is something else, something serious. Put it this way, when you think about Faith, what do you feel, honestly? How would you feel if she went away? Or started dating somebody you both knew?” Platt smiled gently, “The murky world of teenage hormones can be difficult, Buffy. Trust your instincts, talk to Faith, open up to her just a little and see how she responds.”

Buffy nodded slowly as she let his advice sink in. He hadn’t seemed surprised by her confession, being a councillor and all. Maybe she’d been giving off more signals than she realised? Maybe she always had?

What about Faith, had she felt like this the first time around, had feelings for her? That might’ve explained the way she went of the rails last year.

‘After all, love makes you do the wacky...’

Buffy smiled at the councillor. “Thanks, Mr. Platt. I think I’ll do that. Um, and again sorry for the crazy-Buffy-stoppage.”

Mr Platt nodded and picked up his coffee as she stood up. “Good luck with the soap opera.”

Buffy left his office and checked her watch; she’d avoided Faith this morning, wanting to get all her feelings straight, or as straight as they can be when they were about another girl.

‘Heh, I made a funny. My head must be feeling better. ’

*****

Her friends were assembled in the library, grouped round the table when Buffy entered, they all looked pretty unhappy. She had a brief flashback to the ‘intervention’ from last year and her stomach swooped nervously. “Hi, guys.”

Giles looked at her, his eyes tired, but he frowned as he noticed her injury. “Buffy, are you alright?”

Buffy approached, gesturing to her head. “It’s a scratch really, next time Faith and I should have weapons. Where is Faith anyway?”

“With Mrs Post, training I believe.” Giles commented, adding dryly, “They’ll both be joining us later...when I have something more concrete to report.”

“Well, how about this for solid, I got the magic mitten. So Miss Post can suck it.” Buffy thought about it, “And also Lagos.”

“Hey, score one for the good guys. More importantly this group of good guys.” Xander said. It was obvious from all the tension that despite working hard they’d all made little progress.

Willow leaned back tiredly. “We cracked the books and got nowhere, we don’t even know what this glove does.”

Cordelia grumbled. “What does that even mean? You can’t crack books, they’re made of paper.”

Oz looked pointedly at the closed books where Cordelia was sitting. “I think it means opening them, so mystery solved.”

Giles walked around the table towards Buffy. “Yes, Cordelia, the marathon session of forty-five minutes you put in really was going above and beyond.” He addressed Buffy, “Are you sure you’re alright?”

Buffy smiled at his concern. “Peachy. Way better than Lagos is gonna be.”

Giles asked more pointedly. “And the glove is where, exactly?”

“Angel has it.” Buffy said softly, “He’s keeping it safe for us at the mansion.”

Giles still tensed at the mention of Angel but he simply nodded. “Good, I might have found a way of destroying this glove but until then it’s imperative that you and Faith locate Lagos. As long as he’s loose...”

Their soft conversation was overridden by Cordelia’s complaining voice. “Why is everyone picking on me all of a sudden?”

“Karmic cycle?” Willow muttered, but loud enough for everyone to hear.

Cordelia huffed and looked pointedly at Xander, whose eyes widened comically. “Uhh...“

Buffy decided to interrupt. “Guys, take a break okay. Will, could we talk?” Buffy gestured to the stacks.

Willow nodded and stood. She seemed worn down and weary from all the research, her shoulders slumped. Buffy followed her up the steps and put an arm on her shoulder. “You look beat; Giles shouldn’t work you guys so hard. You’re getting kinda cranky.”

“Well, Mrs. Post has got him all British and competitive, and also cranky. He’s like super-Watcher man all of a sudden.” Willow looked in sympathy at Buffy’s head, “And you need our help, this demony guy is really dangerous.”

“This, a tombstone did this. If Faith and I had just...” Buffy sighed, “There’s a whole bunch of ‘Faith and I’ stuff.”

Willow leaned against a wall and slid down to hug her knees. “Are you two having slayer-issues? Do you need to vent? ‘Cause, Buffy, I’m not sure I’m in top form right now...”

Buffy shook her head as she knelt down beside Willow, lowering her voice a little. “This isn’t a bitch-fest, don’t worry. But, I kinda need your opinion about stuff, things...”

“Oh, things..? Things I can do, I have great knowledge of things.” She gave Buffy a ‘seriously’ look.

Buffy ran a hand through her hair. “Alright, alright. Give me a break; I’m having an uncomfortable time with things. There’s all this confusion and worry and, okay, excitement, I won’t lie.”

Willow seemed to perk up a lot at the thought of gossip. “What is it? Does it involve Angel? Because Buffy, it's okay if you slipped, maybe got excited. Just don’t be getting him excited, y’know?”

“It isn’t about Angel, at least not directly.” Buffy swallowed. “It happened last night, after Faith and I fought the...anyway things got intense during the fight and then after, we were recovering and then...”

Willow leaned forward curiously. “And then?”

“We kissed.” Buffy rushed to get it out, “And not just friend kissed, it was making-out, second base, trying to deny each other oxygen kissing.”

Willow’s eyebrows shot up, she blinked for a couple of seconds before leaning her head back so it thumped against the wall. “Ow,” She said dully.

Buffy grimaced before reaching out and patted Willow’s knee. “Sorry. Are you okay?”

Willow shook her head and smiled in bemusement at Buffy. “You kissed Faith? Wow, I mean, wow. I- I knew you two were getting along but...Oh; maybe it was because you bumped your head. That can change your personality, but only temporarily. Or maybe you got amnesia and forgot you were a girl and I’m not handling this very well am I?”

“Better than I did.” Buffy sighed, “I kissed her at Homecoming as well, Will.”

“You did, when?” Willow asked and then seemed to think about it. “Was it when you were being hunted? No, because that would be crazy...”

“Here, in the library after everything. I didn’t get to the dance and...I don’t know what happened, we ended up kissing.” Buffy felt like a weight was being lifted, finally telling someone about all the crazy stuff was so liberating.

“That’s why she went away, isn’t it? You two got all smoochy and then something happened?”

“Yeah, my brain freaked when I remember what gender I actually like.” Buffy shook her head at the memory, “I messed up and hurt her and she blew me off for a couple of weeks.”

Willow nodded in sympathy. “Well, to be fair, the whole gender thing is usually important, as things you like about a person go. So, is it a slayer thing, you think? Between the two of you?”

“I really don’t know, and I’m no way I’m gonna ask Giles. Can you seriously imagine that?” Buffy asked, “I’ve tried and all I keep seeing is me holding two Barbies up and making them kissy face in front of him, and then he’s all shaking is head and not understanding.”

Willow giggled. “I think Giles would be a bit more supportive.”

“And what about Faith? Does she even think about me in that way, y’know, with the holding hands and dating and smooching? Or is she ‘get some and get gone?’

Willow regarded the blonde kindly. “Buffy, have you tried asking her, I mean talking to her and being honest and stuff?”

“Well, no...but after the kissing she keeps on running off. It makes it kind of hard to have a discussion when all I’ve got to talk to are dust trails.”

“That’s tricky.” Then Willow grinned excitedly, “Ooh, but tonight, you’ll both be out looking for Lagos, right? You’ll be all stakeout-y. And you know what happens on stakeouts?”

Buffy brightened. “Wait, I know this one. Donuts and thermos’ of coffee?”

“No, you talk about your feelings, bond, and then smoochies.”

“Okay, I think we’ve watched different cop movies. Or maybe you’re thinking of that one with the dog, where he slobbers all over Tom Hanks?”

Willow mock scowled. “You’re being all avoid-y, Buffy. If you like Faith this is the perfect time to tell her, third time’s the charm. No more blowing off. Or slobber.”

“Alright,” Buffy pouted, “I’ll bite the bullet, whatever that means.” She then gave Willow a smirk, “Y’know, I didn’t think you’d be all...well, this supportive. Thanks Will.”

“Please, after spending most of last night staring at creepy demon books I welcome any human interaction.” Willow gave Buffy’s shoulder a pat, “Besides, I’m all about being there for my newly-gay best friend.”

“I’m not...gay!” Buffy hissed, “Not, um, that there’s anything wrong with that. I’m just not, ‘cause last night I kissed Angel. Does a gay girl do that?”

Willow’s eyes widened comically. “You kissed..? After kissing..? Oh, Buffy, that’s...a very complex life you’re leading.”

Buffy was about to defend herself, eloquently explaining to Willow everything that happened last night, when she heard Giles’ voice carry over. “Mrs. Post, how unexpected, and may I add quite well-timed.”

Buffy quickly got to her feet as Mrs. Post said something she couldn’t hear. She and Willow headed round the stacks to the top of the stairs to see Mrs. Post, hair down so she looked less school-ma’am evil and more lightning-throwing evil.

The Watcher stood, looking coldly over Giles and the gang’s researching efforts, to one side stood Faith, her hands in her pockets. The dark-haired girl looked unhappy, Buffy guessed that being around Mrs. Post would have that effect on anyone.

Still Buffy found herself smiling at the sight of the other slayer, Willow was right, time to take the initiative. If Buffy could have anything with Faith, she was going to find out tonight.

Mrs. Post smiled haughtily at Giles. “Well, it is nice to see you have your best...children working on this particular problem.”

“They’ve all worked hard.” Giles smiled patiently, “And call me haphazard but I like to use all resources at my disposal.”

“Quite so, have you yielded any results?”

“Um, possibly.” Giles motioned towards his office before addressing everyone else. “Everybody, I think we’ve done more than enough for today.”

Mrs Post walked over to Giles as Cordelia got up and hurriedly left. Xander rushed to follow, Cordelia giving him a sharp look as she exited the library. Faith, ignoring everyone, went over and slouched in one of the chairs.

Buffy hurried down the steps towards her but was intercepted by Mrs. Post. “Buffy, I just wanted you to know that Faith told me all about last night’s...encounter.”

Buffy wasn’t sure if her mouth dropped open. “Um, she did?”

“She told me that the fight went poorly because of lack of coordination. If she hadn’t been so reckless...”

“Oh, the fight!” Buffy nodded in relief. “Yeah, that was the thing...from last night, of course.”

Mrs Post smiled patiently. “Yes, quite. In future I have instructed Faith to defer to you in those situations. As the voice of experience that seemed the most sensible precaution in avoiding another blunder. I trust you will exercise your authority wisely?”

Buffy nodded. “Oh, sure. Team player, that’s me. I’ll take good care of Faith...with the slaying, just the slaying.”

Mrs Post blinked a couple of times at Buffy’s puzzling behaviour before turning and joining Giles in his office.

Buffy shook her head before crossing over and sitting down opposite Faith, didn’t want to spook her after all. “Hey.”

Faith glanced over and grunted. “Hey.”

Out of the corner of her eye Buffy saw Willow talking to Oz, but also sneaking glances at the two slayers as she did so.

Buffy leaned forward to catch Faith’s eye. “So, what did you do today?”

Faith thought about it. “Just training, y’know. Kicking, punching, stabbing, getting ready to kill some vamps.”

Buffy nodded in understanding. “Or in this case, a demon.”

Faith gave her a penetrating stare and then smiled sweetly. “Nah, actually. I was pretty much thinkin’ about killing vamps.”

Buffy nodded slowly, thinking she was missing something. “You feeling okay?”

That smile again. “Five-by-five. You know me, B. I heal up good.”

“That’s a relief, I...”

Just then Giles and Mrs. Post exited his office. “Mrs. Post and I are looking into the possibility of destroying the glove. We have some research to attend to but in the mean time. Buffy, Faith, you will go over to the crypt in Restfield and keep watch. When Lagos comes to collect it...”

“We kill him.” Faith said simply, examining her fingernails, “I’m down with that.”

Mrs. Post nodded in tacit approval. “Excellent, collect any weapons you require and return here when you’ve dispatched the demon. Mr. Giles and I will travel to the Crawford mansion when we have the particulars of the spell. We will then destroy the glove.”

“Is there any reason for us to stay?” Willow asked, gesturing at herself and Oz.

Giles gave her an encouraging smile. “No, I think you’ve performed above and beyond, Willow. You can go.”

That would leave Giles and Post alone together. Again. “Wait, Will. Didn’t you say that you were onto some big, Lagos breakthrough? Up there?” Buffy gestured back up at the stacks and stared pointedly at the redhead.

Willow looked questioningly at Buffy as she tried to read the other girl’s look. “I did? I...mean I did. That’s...I forgot, I should probably...stay? Stay and look for demon weaknesses. I’m almost onto something.” She gave Oz and apologetic look, but he seemed to guess that something was up and just nodded stoically.

Giles nodded distractedly before turning to Mrs. Post. “Well, we should get started then.”

Faith got up and went to the weapons locker while Buffy quickly made her way over to Willow.

“So, what is going on, exactly?” Willow asked plaintively.

“Just keep a lookout and don’t trust Mrs. Post. Don’t leave Giles alone with her; I think she’s up to something.”

“I’ll stay too, keep you company.” Oz stated. Willow looked relieved.

Just then Faith called over. “Yo, B. You wanna move your scrawny butt and pick somethin’ while the night’s still young?”

Buffy gave Willow and Oz a long-suffering smile before walking over to Faith, who’d armed herself with a hooked club and was busy tucked a couple of stakes into her jacket.

Buffy wandered over, grabbing a sharp-looking axe and a dagger she turned to the other slayer. “See, quick and easy. Let’s go.”

Without saying anything Faith left, with a last look at Willow, Buffy followed.

*****

Buffy and Faith sat outside the tomb on opposite ends of a nearby stone bench; their weapons propped up close by. Night had descended a little while ago but the air was still warm. The night was also quiet; the occasional rustle of night-time creatures, non-supernatural ones that is, was the only activity Buffy had noticed. Buffy was also noticing Faith, who, leaning forward with her elbows on her knees, had spent the last fifteen minutes staring at the ground, rolling a stake between her fingers.

Even in repose Faith was beautiful; Buffy didn’t understand how she hadn’t realised that before. Dark eyes, sexy smile, dimples, pouty lips and wavy dark hair, and those were just the above the neck features. Of course Buffy had noticed those things before, but last night’s events had changed her...perspective, was that the right word? Whatever, it meant that this stake-out was a little bit more interesting, and that was fine with her.

“So, shouldn’t we be hidin’ or somethin’. ‘Case this guy actually shows?” Faith said grouchily. Buffy figured that Faith resented the fact Mrs. Post had put Buffy in charge of her.

“Lagos isn’t exactly subtle. He wants the glove he’ll come head on for it. He already beat us once; I doubt he’ll try anything subtle.”

Faith just grunted in reply.

Buffy moved her legs so she sat aside the bench and looked at Faith more directly. “So, um, last night?”

Faith shrugged. “Yeah, like I told Mrs. Post, I screwed up. Let the guy take us out one at a time.”

“Mrs. Post is too hard on you. We were just unlucky.” Buffy replied before adding coyly, “And that’s not what I meant.” Faith didn’t reply. Probably because she thought Buffy was in denial or repressing. “You know, you never asked about my head. It’s better by the way.”

Still nothing, Faith looked like she was trying to bore holes into the ground with her stare.

“I could’ve done with someone to, um, maybe kiss it better.”

With that Faith looked up sharply at Buffy, the blonde girl smiled shyly.

Faith looked annoyed. “Yeah, well I figured you had that part all covered.”

Buffy felt her smile drop. “Huh?”

Faith got up and walked over to the crypt entrance. “Y’know can we just not do this, okay? I’m sick of your games.”

“Games? Faith the only reason I wanted us to stop was because of my head.” Buffy found herself reddening a bit, “I was...really into it and then you go storming off and left me alone.”

Faith looked around, her face in shadow. “I didn’t.” She said simply.

“What? Yes, you did Faith, I remember and I stopped imagining things that didn’t happen when I was like, eight.”

Faith sighed. “I mean I started too, then I realised you were still hurt, with the head and everything so I headed back.” Faith began pacing a little ways away from Buffy. “But you were headed off somewhere, so I thought I’d just...watch your back, make sure you got home okay.”

‘Oh, no....’

“And I didn’t say anything right away because I thought I was pretty stupid, runnin’ off and then comin’ right back. So I stayed back, and saw where you went.”

Buffy felt a sick feeling develop in her stomach as she realised what Faith was saying. “So, what, you were spying on me?”

“No! I...I just, saw you go to that mansion and lost sight of you so I followed. Heard talkin’ and peeked in.” Faith crossed her arms and looked at Buffy, “Figured you were in safe hands after that.”

Buffy straightened around and looked at Faith. “Listen Faith, what you saw...”

Faith stopped her angrily. “Ain’t none of my business. Things with exes start up again all the time, believe me I know from experience.”

“Angel and I...kissing him was a mistake...”

Faith smirked derisively. “Seems t’me you’re makin’ a lot of mistakes lately, B. Maybe y’should try keeping your mouth shut.”

Buffy felt herself getting angry. “Yeah, so, why do you care all of a sudden?” Buffy stared accusingly. “Didn’t you say it was just us ‘getting worked up’ or ‘horny’ or whatever little rationalization you’re using this week?”

Faith shrugged. “I ain’t ration...whatever, and I don’t care.” She said defensively.

It was Buffy’s turn to snort in disbelief. “Then you won’t care that the only reason I kissed Angel was because I got so worked up rounding the bases with you that I couldn’t think straight.”

Faith stared at Buffy. “Bullshit.”

Buffy stood up and stepped closer to the other girl. “No, it's not. I felt something when I kissed you, and it wasn’t just physical, it was amazing.” Buffy tried to catch Faith’s eyes again. “You know that too.”

Faith turned away. “All I know is it ain’t over between you an’ soul-boy. That’s all I need to know.”

Buffy grabbed Faith by the arm and pulled her around hard. “Dammit, Faith!”

“Don’t touch me!” Faith snarled, pulling her arm loose and raising a fist in warning.

“Buffy!” Willow and Xander burst into the clearing, panting for breath. Willow looked in alarm at the two slayers before Faith quickly dropped her arm.

“We’ve got trouble.” Gasped Willow, “Has Lagos been here?”

“I’m guessing not with the...sparring you two were gonna get into?” Xander remarked.

Buffy ignored him. “No, no sign of Lagos, Will. Why?”

Willow looked worried. “Because the Lagos demon can hone in on a magical signature, something about the species means they have a way of sensing powerful magicks by proximity and can track their...vibration or something. Apparently it’s like an inner-ear thing.”

Buffy nodded as it dawned on her. “That means...”

“He can track it.” Faith finished, “If the dude’s already been here he could be on his way to the mansion right now while we’re here doing jack.”

Buffy shook her head. “That’s not possible, nothing’s changed since...” Except that Lagos had faced two slayers this time. He’d gotten away, sure, but maybe facing the both of them had made him more cautious, or more determined to obtain the glove, and he’d come and done some searching before they got here.

Buffy raced to the entrance of the crypt, opened it and peered in, hoping to see everything undisturbed. Instead she saw stone fragments scattered over the floor and a couple of holes in the wall where Lagos had pulled open the reliquaries. But it was also clear that the crypt hadn’t been completely searched, meaning...

Buffy ducked out of the crypt. “He’s been and gone, but recently I think.”

Buffy turned to Faith, all drama forgotten for the moment, “We need to warn Giles, now.” She glanced at Willow and Xander before grabbing her axe and taking off at a run through the cemetery, Faith hot on her heels.

*****

Buffy had that feeling again, the terrible sinking feeling that things were spinning irrevocably out of control. Like one of those common nightmares of hers where everything went wrong at once and she’d be gripped by the chilling certainty that if things just stopped for a moment, if she could think, then she could see the solution to the problem and fix everything, forever.

Now Faith, Post, Lagos, Angel. All of them whirled in her head as she raced to within sight of the mansion, seeing the front doors still intact and hearing no demonic roars or screams.

Buffy and Faith entered through the front doors almost simultaneously, and were greeted by the same shocking sight. Giles lay on the ground, unmoving, his head in a pool of his own blood. A vicious looking mace and a broken crossbow lay discarded across the floor. Mrs. Post was slumped against one wall, dishevelled and hurt, but obviously alive, her eyes were blearily open. Over her stood Angel, his demonic face showing, a crossbow bolt jutting from his wounded shoulder.

“Angel!” Buffy cried out, she froze, her eyes going back and forth towards Giles’ prone form and Angel.

Faith also froze, but only for an instant. “Mrs. Post?” She then glared at Angel. “I can’t believe how much I’m gonna kill you!”

Buffy caught her arm. “Faith, wait!”

Angel looked momentarily confused, and then agitated. “She attacked Giles, tried to...”

Faith snarled angrily and shoved Buffy hard to one side, surprised the blonde slayer fell to her knees.

“Bullshit!” She rushed at Angel, weapon up and ready and swung at him. Angel backed up and managed to dodge away from her attack, he instinctually lashed out with a foot to kick Faith’s weapon out of her hand.

Faith barely stopped, barrelling into Angel and backhanding him hard across the face, following up with a hard left before reaching out and grabbing the crossbow bolt in his shoulder and yanking. Angel cried out as the bolt tore free from his flesh. Faith grabbed his shoulder, spun and bodily threw him across the room, Angel crashed down face first and dazed near the French doors. Faith made her way over, gripping the crossbow bolt like a stake as she moved closer, eyeing where to jab the stake. But she hesitated, and Buffy managed to move around and get in a defensive stance between her and Angel. “Faith listen, please...”

“He’s turned, Faith.” Mrs Post rasped wearily, “She still loves him, that’s why he attacked us.”

Buffy glared at the downed Watcher. “Shut up! She’s lying, Faith. I would never do that. You know that.”

Faith stared at Buffy, unsure before glancing at her Watcher.

Mrs. Post straightened up, her voice steadying and gaining a measure of its usual assurance. “She’s blinded by love, no matter what the cost. Trust me, Faith.”

‘No, this can’t be happening again!’

Buffy, realised she was still holding her axe, lowered it, she could feel Angel begin to stir behind her. “No, Faith. Stop, think. We can figure this out.”

Faith, looked back and forth between the two of them, the bloody bolt still in her grip, her face twisted in indecision. Mrs. Post stood up fully now, her face triumphant, and Buffy saw Xander and Willow appear as they scrambled over to Giles.

“Great, gang’s all here, how much worse can it get?’

Faith looked up at Buffy, eyes narrowing. “Lying bitch!”

And then everything got worse.

Revelations (PART 3: Post-Slayer Depression)

For one terrible moment Buffy thought that everything would repeat itself exactly as before, that Faith would attack her because Mrs. Post had wormed her way past her defences, again. Because Faith believed that her Watcher would never lie to her, again. And maybe because Faith thought Buffy and Angel had had sex again. Well, that was new.

But then behind them the French windows exploded inwards, a rain of shattered glass burst around them and Lagos appeared, stooping slightly to enter the mansion, his axe held aloft in one massive fist. He roared as his gaze travelled across the two girls and his lumbering came to a stop.

Buffy, her mind whirling, twisted to face him. She took a step back so she was next to Faith and raised her axe cautiously. She glanced at Faith, not knowing which way the other slayer was going to jump, which demon she was going to try and slay.

Angel, on his knees and still injured, snapped a look over his shoulder and rose to get way, but he was hurting and Lagos was swifter, grabbing Angel by the back of the neck and effortlessly tossing him through the air. Angel slammed heavily against the wall next to the fireplace, where he crumpled to the ground.

Anger flared as Buffy stepped forward to attack but Faith grabbed her arm to stop her. “This time we’ve gotta have a plan, B.”

Buffy looked at her with cold determination. “The plan is ‘I kill him and keep his head as a door-stop’, you wanna help?”

“That’s a goal, it ain’t a plan.” She then shoved Buffy hard to one side as Lagos brought his axe down between them, its blade biting into the ground. Faith, weapon-less, dodged to one side and smashed him in his face with her fist before stomping on the back of his knee with all her strength. She then jammed the crossbow bolt into the back of his leg, driving it in as deep as she could, Lagos, roaring in pain, batted her away before stumbling to one side.

Faith rushed over to Buffy and helped her up, her hand snaking around and across the blonde girl’s stomach. Buffy’s eyes widened in surprise but before she could object Faith pulled back holding Buffy’s dagger in her grip.

“Need me a better weapon.” She said with a smirk.

“But, I thought...”

“We take care of Lagos then we deal with that lying bitch, ‘kay?” Faith’s eyes were alive and flashing, but Buffy saw a glimpse hurt there and maybe a silent apology.

Buffy simply nodded and straightened up as Lagos came towards them slowly, almost cautiously, favouring his left leg and hefting his axe back to strike at them.

“I draw him out; you flank him and stab him somewhere low and painful. I’ll finish him off.” Buffy murmured to Faith quietly and she nodded. They broke apart as Lagos lumbered closer, Faith going right and Buffy twirling her axe to get the demon’s attention. “Isn’t it embarrassing when two people bring the same weapon to a fight?”

Lagos just grunted round his tusks and swung his axe like he was hewing logs; Buffy nimbly dodged to one side, her return blow hitting him square in the shoulder and scraping against armour without finding purchase. Lagos didn’t react, simply arcing his blade back and up to try decapitate the blonde slayer. Ducking under the blade Buffy brought her axe clashing down on the haft on his weapon to deflect it away before punching her axe head into his face. Lagos barely staggered, instead trying to cut Buffy off at the legs, but his blow was slow enough for her to jump over and she skipped back from his reach. He came at her like a linebacker, axe raised high over his shoulder, using his size and reach to try and pen her in against the wall.

Buffy searched for a weak spot but saw only solid demonic muscle and chainmail, maybe his neck but she wasn’t the tallest...

Buffy swung the axe low at Lagos’ legs and he swept his leg backwards and leaned forward to avoid it. Buffy changed her momentum mid-swing, which had been feign, and jabbed her axe upwards at his face. But Lagos had seen it coming, and jerked his head back as he brought his own axe around against Buffy, who only just managed to bring her axe back down to block it, the haft of her weapon splintering on impact and she was knocked hard back against the wall.

Buffy barely dodged a second swing that gouged a vicious furrow in the wall above and sent a shower of stone chips spilling over her.

Lagos methodically brought his axe back again before suddenly bellowing out in anger and pain, he dropped his axe as one of his clawed hands went between his legs, and the other reached out as he tried to balance as he staggered to forward. But his left leg wasn’t working and, unable to support his immense weight, it folded under him as he crashed to his knees. Buffy jumped back to avoid the collapse, before seeing her opening and stepping forward, swinging her axe at Lagos’ now exposed neck with all her strength. Just like before the blade cleaved through tendons and muscle without even slowing and his head flew off, bouncing across the floor.

The body slumped over sideways, revealing Faith and her cocky grin. “Nicely diverted, B.”

“Actually that was me fighting for my life, but thanks for the timely-ness.” Buffy looked down at the dead demon, “I don’t really want to know where you stuck that knife, do I?”

Faith was about to reply but was interrupted by Mrs. Post.

“Tar chugam a chumhacht Myhnegon!” She recited as she held her arm, now encased in the glove, above her head. Buffy heard the rumble of thunder as a storm quickly gathered overhead.

‘Oh, not good.’

*****

Buffy saw that beyond Mrs. Post both Willow and Giles had disappeared but Xander was getting up off the floor, rubbing the side of his head.

Faith was staring up at the sky-light as dark clouds gathered. She looked at Buffy hesitantly. “What’s going on?”

“Faith,” Mrs. Post lowered her hand and addressed her slayer, a gleeful smile twisting her features, “A word of advice. You’re an idiot!”

“Yeah, and you’re dead.” Faith growled in reply before started towards the woman but Buffy grabbed her arm.

Mrs. Post raised her arm again. “Tar frim!” She cried and the sky-light shattered, lightning slashed down, drawn into the glove, energy and light dancing around her arm as the air suddenly became thick with the metallic stench of burning ozone. Mrs. Post turned again and raised her arm like a gun, pointing at Faith. “Tar frim!”

Buffy slammed into the other girl and they both went down hard and skidded across the polished marble floor. A bolt of lightning tore through the air above them and blasted a hole in the wall. Buffy landed on top of Faith, their faces inches from each other. Despite everything, Buffy froze for an awkward moment before quickly rolling off the other slayer. Buffy then stuck her head up to see Mrs. Post turn and point her arm again, this time at a still dazed Xander, his face frozen in confusion.

“Tar fr..!” Mrs. Post started to call out but Angel rushed in from the side and punched her in the face, sending her tumbling. “That’s for shooting me! I hate that.”

Mrs. Post rolled and was up in almost an instant, the power of the glove that was running through her was obviously making her more durable, but Angel was already running for cover, Xander close behind him.

Mrs. Post wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, she was still smiling. “There’s nothing you can do to stop me now. I have the glove, and with the glove comes the power!”

“Great. She’s monologing.” Buffy looked over at Faith, “Can you draw her fire?”

Faith nodded. “You bet your ass I can.” She got up and dashed for cover; Mrs. Post spotted her and lashed out. “Tar frim!” The bolt exploded a meter or so from where Faith had been, she leapt over the sofa, rolled and came up on the other side of Mrs. Post in a crouch. The former watcher turned and pointed her raised arm at the dark-haired slayer.

Buffy tore off the splintered handle of her axe, leaving half the haft intact and turning it into a fairly balanced throwing axe. She hefted it and drew her arm back.

“You might wanna work on your aim, like this!” She threw the axe in a spinning arc, the blade rushing through the air to catch Mrs. Post just below the shoulder and slicing clean through. The severed arm dropped to the ground.

Mrs. Post screamed in pain, although it seemed from the sound that it was her soul and not her arm had been severed. Lightning struck down from the heavens again, coiling around her body as she was consumed by flames, her eyes glowed hotly as she burned to ash in an instant. Incinerated, leaving only the metallic ozone smell and a wiff of burnt flesh.

Faith stood up as Angel and Xander came out from behind cover. Buffy even saw Willow emerge from the beyond the front door, looking around wide-eyed. Buffy looked over the mess, dead Lagos plus head, broken glass, smoke and small fires everywhere, Buffy shook her head out of her daze.

To Willow she asked. “Giles, is he…?”

“He's breathing, and groaning, and alive.” Willow stated simply. “What happened?”

“Buffy was right about everything.” Faith replied bitterly, “Mrs. Post was evil.”

Xander looked at Angel. “Y’know I would’ve gotten out of the way in time…so don’t be thinking I owe you of anything.”

Angel shrugged. “I didn’t even know you were there.” He said dryly.

Buffy moved to the front doors. “We need to get Giles to hospital quickly. Angel..?”

“I’m fine, go.”

“Okay, Xander, you come with me. Faith?”

She didn’t answer; she was staring at where Mrs. Post had been. The adrenaline had worn off, the battle won and things were suddenly far less simple.

“Faith?”

“Yeah, B. What?”

“Go home; tell Mom I’m taking Mr. Giles to the hospital and not to freak out if I’m home late.”

Faith nodded dully and headed out the shattered French windows, Buffy wanted to go after her, to say something comforting, but that would have to wait. Giles needed help now.

*****

“Well, my suspicions to her ill-intent were first aroused when she bashed me in the head with a mace.” Giles said dryly as he sipped some tea, “As indicators go, it was rather a strong one.”

He was sitting in the library, having spent the previous night in hospital. Buffy, Willow and Xander were also there. Willow had brought him some doughnuts and Buffy noticed that Giles seemed far perkier and healthier in an environment surrounded by books. Or it could just be the sugar.

“So, she got kicked out? They changed the secret password or hand-shake or whatever?” Buffy asked.

Giles nodded slowly. “She was…expelled for the misuse of dark powers. I could’ve sworn there was a memo.”

Xander chipped in. “Yeah, and your filing system is usually so good, didn’t you win a belt or something for that?”

Giles regarded Buffy with embarrassment. “It appears that I owe you an apology, Buffy. I should’ve listened to you.”

Buffy just smirked. “Well, duh. And let your slightly misshapen head forever be a reminder.”

“How did you know, anyway?” Asked Willow, “I mean, she was so convincingly bitc…I mean, watcher-like, it was a pretty good fake-out.”

“It was because she drank coffee, wasn’t it.” Xander nodded knowingly, “And she didn’t spell color with a ‘u’, dead giveaway.”

Buffy shrugged. “I get invited to a frat party, there’s a giant demon snake there, an old friend from Hemery turns up, he tries to feed me to vampires, Mom’s new boyfriend, evil robot. Excuse me if I’m just a little wary of strangers by now. ‘Trust but verify’ is the Summers family motto. Either that or ‘I’ve got the wiggins’, whichever.” Buffy sat up on the table and looked at her friends, “The most important lesson you should all learn from this is that I am always, always right.”

“Here, here.” Replied Xander with a grin.

Giles mused. “Yes, and as much as I’d like you to stay so I can bask in the glow of your brilliance, don’t you do have classes to attend?”

Xander patted him on the shoulder. “We’re going, anyway we just came by to wish you well, and to add that you’ll be keeping the ‘most likable Watcher we’ve actually met’ award, so kudos.”

Buffy waved the others off. “You guys go; I’ve got some slayer-related stuff to talk through with Giles.”

Willow turned to Xander. “Time to let the jelly doughnuts work their magic.”

Xander raised his eyebrows as he walked with her. “Magic? As in..?”

“Metaphor magic, Xander.” She shook her head, “the only way I could make any pastry more magical is if I made it float. And moving food is not something a man with a head injury needs.”

Xander smiled and nudged her as he pushed open the library doors. “No, but I feel an idea for a new Halloween game coming on. Like bobbing for…”

Buffy smiled fondly as she watched them go. ‘Luckiest slayer ever.’

She turned to Giles. “Hey, look at us, matching head wounds.”

“Yes, all things considered this situation could’ve ended rather more badly than it did.”

Buffy nodded as she thought of Faith, about how things went the first time, how Buffy had never really gotten around to even caring for the other slayer. Would things be different now? Buffy had spent some of the night with Giles in hospital and she’d come home to find Mom a little frantic, for Giles’ sake. But Faith had gone to bed, so Buffy hadn’t gotten to talking to her about anything yet.

More damage control, but at least this time around there had been something to actually damage, something that Buffy could try and repair and rebuild, and that all started here.

“You had something you wished to discuss, Buffy?” Giles enquired softly as she came out of her thoughts.

“Um, yeah. I wanted to say something really, it’s kind of important.” She looked at Giles, “This whole thing with Mrs. Post has put a lot of things in perspective, slayer stuff.” She gestured to where her friends had just left, “I’m…very lucky, not with the whole Chosen one deal, but with my friends… who actually care about me, despite all the danger I put them in.”

Giles shifted to interrupt. “Buffy…”

She held up a hand. “I’m very glad of them, I love them. And I’m very thankful to have you as my Watcher. Actually I don’t think ‘thankful‘ really covers it that well but…I wouldn’t have ever gotten this far without you.”

Giles, smiling in self-conscious pride, was touched.

Buffy stared at him and flatly stated. “And that’s what pisses me off.”

Giles blinked in surprise.

“You are the only Watcher in history to have two slayers, you’ve spent a couple of years helping me be the best…helping me to survive. What about Faith? What does she get? She loses her Watcher in some horrific…I don’t even want to ask she what happened, but it hurt her. And then she comes here and, okay she lies about it, that’s bad. But she ends up just getting passed off like she’s nothing.”

Giles flushed in anger or annoyance, Buffy couldn’t tell. “Buffy…”

“No, y’know what, I’m right on this.” Buffy stood up and walked around anxiously, “You have no idea how hard it is being a slayer, how lonely and confusing it is. You have all this power and…bottom line, a slayer needs her Watcher. Faith needs a Watcher too, now more than ever. She needs to feel that she’s not alone, hell, like she’s actually wanted here. And since the council doesn’t give a crap that means it’s up to you.”

Giles seemed to deflate a little. Sighing, he took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. “I have only just gotten you back, Buffy.”

Buffy paused. “What?”

Giles straightened and looked at her, he looked tired again. “Last summer, I genuinely thought I’d lost you. You ran away from everything, your responsibilities…it felt like I failed you, somehow. I didn’t make you resilient enough to keep being the slayer.”

Buffy softened, and smiled at him sadly. “That was always my fault, I failed me, I took off because I had to…I didn’t know how to deal with everything. It wasn’t the right thing to do, and it was in no way you failing at being a Watcher, Giles.”

Giles shook his head in slight puzzlement. “You do seem different now, so much more grown up.”

“Isn’t there some parable or story about how wise people are just people who learned from all the mistakes they made?”

Giles smiled gently. “So you’re wiser now?”

Buffy shrugged. “All I know is that Faith has the potential to go either way. She has a real chance to become a good slayer, maybe even the second-best in all of Sunnydale.” Buffy looked at Giles solemnly, “She needs guidance, and the best person I can think of to guide her is you.”

“Thank you, Buffy.”

Buffy relaxed a little. “Well, it’s not like there’s a lot of competition. Maybe Oz? He does have the whole Zen thing going for him.” She paused and smiled, “I do mean it though, give Faith some attention, please? Forget about me and make her your slayer, just for a while. She’ll complain and grumble but she’ll thank you in the end, like I’m doing now.”

Giles sighed. “I’ve rather ballsed this up, haven’t I?”

Buffy smirked. “I’m gonna go and find that out, do some damage control. See if she’ll even talk to me. Now rest up, you’ve got some serious Watcher-ing to do when you’re all better.”

“Well, it seems you wear wisdom rather well, Buffy.” Giles remarked.

Buffy walked over. “I’m oh-so very mature. Donut tax!” She sang out as she grabbed a jelly from the box and backed away grinning. “What, I’m not saying I won’t ever need a Watcher again. Bye!”

Giles could only shake his head as he watched her leave.

*****

Buffy took a deep breath; never had her own hallway seemed so intimidating. Mom was out at the gallery but Faith’s boots were by the door which meant she was still here, which was good, and meant Buffy could finally talk to her in private. Which she was just about to. Now.

‘C’mon, I verbally chastised Giles, I can do this. Actually, I can’t believe I chastised Giles, yay me.’

Buffy didn’t bother knocking; she just grabbed the handle, took a deep breath and opened the door, pausing before moving inside. Faith was sat on the bed, in raggedy t-shirt and cut-off jeans, going for the relaxed trailer-trash look. The brunette glanced up from a magazine, her face tense as she watched Buffy enter. Buffy looked Faith over, no ugly facial bruising this time, which was a big plus. But Buffy saw that Faith had packed her backpack, it sat at the end of the bed, ready to go.

“Hey.”

Faith didn’t say anything, just looked glum.

“So, how are you?” Buffy asked, knowing what the other girl was going to say.

Shrug. “Five-by-five.”

“Huh, someday you’ll have to tell me what that means.” Buffy said lightly, “Can I, uh… do you want anything.”

Faith looked at her pointedly. “Lock for my door, maybe?”

Buffy sighed. “Sorry, I just…I wanted to see how you were. Of course, this is your room and if you want me to go I will.”

“Well, now you come to mention it…”

“Just wait, Faith. I wanna talk first.”

Faith rolled her eyes. “Oh, goodie, ‘nother talk.”

Buffy gulped. This wasn’t going well. Perseverance. That was word of the day, or of the now anyway. “Look, Gwendolyn Post, she fooled everyone, she was a lying, evil, scheming person…”

“But you knew already, didn’t you? Somehow she couldn’t fool you, ‘cause you’re always right.” She scowled at Buffy, “You’re so perfect.”

Buffy frowned in puzzlement. “I’m not…I never said I was perfect.” ‘I just said I was better than you…’

Faith shook her head. “I don’t even know what I’m still doin’ here. I shouldn’t…”

Buffy stepped to the foot of the bed. “You’re here because you’re my friend and you’re the slayer.”

Faith smiled bitterly. “Try lookin in the mirror, you’re a slayer. You’ve got plenty of friends…”

“I kissed you.” Buffy interrupted. “Just…don’t act like this, like there’s nothing here. You’re dismissing everything.”

“’Cause it doesn’t matter.” Faith said bitterly. She sat up and glared at Buffy. “See the thing is, Buffy. You’re the one who’s got the Watcher, the friends, the little boy-toy, the Mom who doesn’t drink or slap you around, the nice house and the perfect little fucking life. That’s real. That’s what matters.” She shook her head, “I’m just gonna go.”

Buffy recognized the words and the bitterness, the jealousy, all that raw emotion. But here, in front of her it wasn’t evil Faith with her pleather and boyfriend stealing; this was just all hurt and disappointment that Buffy had ignored because it wasn’t convenient.

“You’re not going anywhere yet.” Buffy stated, “Not until you’ve listened. You want to know how I knew Gwen Post was evil, how about because I’ve been doing this since I was fifteen. Three years, Faith. Three years of trusting my instincts, three years alone. Giles says some slayers don’t even last that long. You’ve been doing this, what, maybe six months? And you know what, I wish I’d been half as good as you at six months.”

Faith stopped halfway off the bed, her bare feet on carpet, staring at Buffy questioningly.

“I mean it, when you fight it's like you channel all that energy and emotion and use it to beat the bad guys. That’s what a slayer needs to win, and you have that instinct, I’m not sure I do. Or I have to work at it at least.

“But we’re going on about how perfect I am, right? So where do I start?” Buffy found her anger building as she continued, “My mom? I had to lie to her about everything that mattered since we got here, all my problems, my life in danger every single night. And when she found out what I was she freaked. Who wouldn’t, right? So I ran off, I couldn’t deal and ran and left my friends to clean up the mess, little Miss Perfect, remember? Falls in love with a vampire, sleeps with him and then watches as he tears up the town, while she stands by and does nothing because she’s still in love with him.”

Faith seemed unsure. “Buffy…”

Buffy shuddered as she calmed a little and wiped at her eyes. “The point I’m making is my life isn’t perfect, Faith. It might seem to be compared to yours, but it’s not. I worked to get the friends I have, and I know how lucky I am to have them. But, y’know what, they’re your friends too now, Willow and Xander and Oz and Cord…uh, and Oz.” Buffy shook her head, “You might think you’re better off alone or that being alone is enough to get by, but it's not. I know from experience that alone is never better.” Buffy moved closer and sat on the bed next to Faith, still looking at her, “And I promise you won’t be, because you’ll always have me.”

Faith looked at her, her eyes wide and Buffy saw that she wanted to believe her, but she closed them and sighed. “So, I’m what now, your charity case?”

Buffy frowned at the other girl. “That’s not fair, Faith. You’re saying that if I don’t care it must be because I’m a spoiled princess with this perfect life, and if I do care it’s because I pity you. It couldn’t possibly be because I like you, and missed you like crazy when you were gone, or that I admire the way you embrace this crazy life we were forced into. Like you…own it, like you were always meant to be what I…struggle with so much.”

Faith looked at her warily. “You don’t know anything about me.”

“I’d like to,” Buffy countered, “I have these feelings, like nothing I’ve…I was confused at first, about you, about everything. But I want to get to know you better.”

Faith snorted weakly. “You wanna date, B? I told you I don’t date.”

“You don’t date losers, I know. Newsflash Faith, I’m not a loser. I’m kind of a catch, at least on my good days.”

“Never seen you on a bad day, B.” Faith said softly, before frowning, “This is crazy, we can’t…this can’t work. No way.”

“Why not? Tell me that.” Buffy asked. She hesitantly put a hand on Faith’s arm; Faith flinched but didn’t pull away.

“You’re with Angel.” She stated sullenly.

“We kissed once, it was a mistake, and we both knew it. It’s not happening again.” Buffy lightly squeezed her arm, “I already told him that I have feelings for you.”

Faith looked at Buffy, her features contorted with warring emotions. Hope and fear in equal measure registered on her face. “You don’t know what you want…I’m not what you want.” Her voice was filled with harsh self-recrimination.

“I know what I feel, and I think I know how you feel. You’re scared to believe that this,” Buffy gestured between the two of them, “Could be real. You’ll take on a demon three times your size without flinching but this, you’re frightened of.”

“Screw you,” Faith said, but there was no power behind her words. The walls she had built up were cracking. There was silence for a few moments; Faith ran a shaky hand through her hair and kept on glancing at Buffy nervously. “I…don’t know how to do this, if I can be what…you want.”

Buffy leaned in and gently kissed Faith on the lips, a soft, tender and comforting kiss. The brunette sighed into Buffy’s mouth and Buffy smiled. She tilted her head back and grinned at Faith. “I’d say that was a pretty good start.”

Buffy’s hand slid down Faith’s arm and clasped her hand, finger intertwined. Buffy looked into Faith’s eyes, hoping the other girl would take a chance, the same chance Buffy herself was taking.

Faith glanced down at their held hands, the anxiety on her face fading slightly. “So, uh, what happens now?”

Buffy’s heart soared at Faith’s implied acceptance. “I don’t know- you’re the first girl I’ve ever dated.” She caught the other girl’s gaze again, “But no pressure, okay. We take things slow and maybe find something we both like doing, and do it together.”

Faith smirked cockily. “I got a couple of ideas…”

“I said take things slow, Faith.” Buffy rolled her eyes, “But we can continue doing some stuff…” With that Buffy pressed forward and her lips met Faith’s again, the brunette girl responded with a bit more heat this time and Buffy pulled away after a minute or so, out of breath.

Faith’s mouth widened into a grin, flashing dimples and all. “Not bad, now you ain’t gonna run off again, right?”

Buffy shook her head slowly. She looked up at Faith through her eyelashes, “I’m not going…”

“Buffy!” Her Mom called as the front door closed, “Honey, what do you and Faith want for dinner?”

Buffy groaned and softly bumped her forehead against Faith’s shoulder, the other slayer chuckled huskily. “Sucky timing strikes again, huh?”

Buffy smiled and quickly leaned forward, kissing Faith briefly on the lips. “To be continued.” She said before rolling off the bed, “Coming Mom!”

She stopped at the doorway to look back and gave Faith a shy smile. Faith, who had in one conversation gone from being a combative slayer to being…, what? Girlfriend?

To Buffy surprise the idea wasn’t a scary one, actually the opposite was true. She was excited more than she ever would’ve thought.

But still lingering problems remained, like should she tell Giles. Not yet, not until things between them were more solid. Tell Mom? No, no, a thousand times no, not until a long time had passed, and then it would be from minimum safe distance. Like a phone call or a letter. Tell Xander? Probably, just to see the look on his face…

...continued in Lover's Walk...

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