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Wishing Changes Everything: Lover's Walk

by Declan
Rating: PG-13

Lover’s Walk (First Date Jitters)

Willow stared wide-eyed at the piece of paper. “Fourteen Eighty? Buffy you kicked ass!” Everyone else standing nearby in the quad looked a little shocked at Willow’s outburst. Buffy just smiled proudly.

Willow looked sheepish. “Okay, so academic achievement gets me a little excited.”

Xander was clearly impressed. “Buffy that’s amazing.”

“It does seem as if I knew what the questions were gonna be ahead of time...but that’s crazy.” Buffy tried not to look to smug.

Cordelia reached out and took Buffy’s results. “Let me see that.” She stared at it, frowning in academic jealousy.

Oz regarded Buffy thoughtfully. “Scores like that, you can apply pretty much anywhere you want.”

Willow looked pleased. “This could, like, change your whole future.”

Buffy nodded, she was thrilled about doing even better than before, way thrilled in fact. Ever since Faith had turned bad the last time she’d never really given much thought to the future. Now all those opportunities were opening up to her again, it was making her head spin.

“Someone’s having deep thoughts. Isn’t this a time to kick back and celebrate?” Xander asked.

“I don’t know, my future...I didn’t really think about it before, y’know? Ever since last year’s career fair I’ve just put it all out of my mind, mainly ‘cause of all the assassination attempts...”

Cordelia beamed in delight. “Well I think it’s great. Now you can leave and never come back.” She paused at their looks, “Well, I mean that in a positive way! Get out of Sunnydale, that’s a good thing. I mean what kind of moron would ever want to come back here?”

Willow squeezed Buffy’s arm. “Well, if it’s too much to take in now, you could take some time and think it over during our ‘doing something’."

“Yeah, the something that has yet to be determined. But it’ll be something date-like.” Xander said brightly, “Hey, if you and Faith could make-out, I-I mean make it, that’d be great.”

Cordelia glared at Xander, who just shrugged apologetically. Willow smiled and shook her head at Buffy.

Buffy, pretending to ignore Xander’s comment, frowned. “I don’t know, first dates are supposed to be more, um, intimate, right? Getting to know someone a little better? That’d probably easier with less someoneelse’s around.”

“Like less someoneelse staring.” Added Cordelia pointedly, Xander tried to look innocent and failed.

Willow took a different view. “Well, on the other hand it could be a good ‘easing in date’, y’know? No awkward silences or, um tensions. It’s just a triple-date with zero pressure.”

Xander chimed in. “Yeah, think of it as a ‘celebrate going to college’ thing, that’s what I’m doing.”

“And which colleges will accept you, exactly?” Snarked Cordelia.

“Hey I could go to college if I wanted. Colleges still need janitors, right?”

“I think in college they call them custodians.” Oz remarked.

Cordelia scoffed. “Right, that’s so much better.”

Xander leaned close to Cordelia. “I thought all girls love a man in uniform.”

She put her hand up. “Excuse me? Overalls are not uniform; they’re things you wear so you don’t get yucky stuff on anything else, including girlfriends.”

“Hey, in that case I could be a handy man instead.” Xander mused then raised an eyebrow to Cordelia, “Would you have any use for a handy man, Miss?”

Cordelia’s frostiness seemed to warm slightly as she smiled. “Well, now that you mention it, there might be something wrong with my car...”

Xander looked eager and held out his arm. “Lead the way.”

They left as Willow handed Buffy’s results back to her. “I guess it’s up to us to decide the dating activity then. Any thoughts?”

“Maybe a movie, that’s pretty safe, right?” Buffy sighed, “That’s even if Faith can get free, Giles is working her pretty hard at the moment, which is... good, y’know. It’s what she needs.”

Although Buffy was beginning to think it had turned into a subtle form of revenge on Giles part, since apart from a few snatched conversations in the mornings, supervised trainings after school and the long goodnight kisses they got to share; Buffy and Faith had barely spent any time together. But Giles couldn’t know about their new status, so it was probably all in Buffy’s head. Not that it made it any easier.

Buffy sighed. “Anyway, it’s not like I have any great ideas in the whole ‘first date’ department. I usually just show up with clothes on, which is something I rarely get wrong.”

Willow nodded in sympathy. “I guess these are uncharted territories for you as far as dating goes, but the main thing you have to remember about Faith is that... she’s coming this way.”

Buffy followed Willow's gaze to see Faith striding across the quad towards them, in the process getting quite a few appreciative looks from male students. Wearing tight jeans, bright red t-shirt and a denim jacket, she was definitely distracting.

She smiled easily as she approached, giving Buffy the once over as she did so. “Hey, B.”

Buffy smiled widely. “Hey.”

Willow, shaking her head at Faith’s obliviousness to everyone else, piped up. “Hey, Faith. We were all just admiring Buffy’s big brain.”

After a moment Faith blinked. “Her big what?”

“Um, what she means is, um, we all got our test scores today. I did good.” Buffy said shyly.

“Not so much with the verbal today, though.” Teased Willow.

Buffy narrowed her eyes. “Willow, didn’t you have that thing, the thing that was now. And not here.”

Willow gave a little wave before going to join Oz.

Buffy regarded the other slayer. “So, um, Giles is still keeping you busy, going all mentor on you?”

“Yeah, he’s a real Mr. Miyagi all of a sudden.” Faith rolled her eyes good-naturedly, “It’s wicked dull but I guess he’s keepin’ an eye on me post...Post, y’know. ’S cool.”

Buffy nodded. “It’s just the gang are thinking of some kind of celebration, maybe tomorrow or the day after. If you could get Giles to give you a break, you could join us...me. I’d like that.”

Faith’s smile widened, she bit her bottom lip and stepped closer, Buffy looked down and pushed some hair behind her ear self-consciously, aware they were very public and now getting kind of couple-y. “What kind of celebrating?” Faith’s voice was low and husky; in Buffy’s mind she made the word ‘celebrating’ sound dirty.

Buffy shrugged. “Open to debate, probably something public we could do as couples, like...mini-golf.”

Faith seemed to think it over. “But that probably won’t take all night, right? We could slip away after, catch up a little...”

Buffy looked up at her through her eyelashes. “That sounds nice; we have a lot of, um, catching up to do.”

“Oh, hours.” Faith smirked; she took one of Buffy’s hands and leaned in close.

Buffy glanced around uncomfortably before clearing her throat nervously. “Don’t you have Giles-ey things to do?”

Faith also glanced around, noticed the few curious looks they were getting, before letting go of Buffy’s hand and gently punching her on the arm. “Right, can’t keep G waitin’, makes him grouchy as hell and since I gotta ask him a favour... so,” she walked past Buffy murmuring, “See ya tonight.”

Buffy watched her go with butterflies in her stomach, maybe the easing in first date was a good idea, otherwise she got the impression that Faith would just jump her as soon as they were alone, and Buffy wasn’t entirely sure she would stop her if that happened.

*****

The next day Willow was grinning at her as they sat at lunch together. “You’ve got it bad.”

Buffy was stabbed her jello absentmindedly, she frowned at her friend. “Huh? What’s bad? I’ve got something?”

“Yep, the hots for a certain bad girl.” Willow said as she drank her soda, “It’s so adorable.”

Buffy shifted a little in embarrassment. “It sure doesn’t feel adorable; don’t adorable puppy feelings usually have a ‘U’ rating? This feels more...PG-13 at least, and one time it got all up in ‘R’ territory.”

Willow gulped her drink and looked surprised. “That’s...kind of a quick escalation, isn’t it?”

“You’re telling me.” Buffy paused to push her plate away, she was in talk mode, “But maybe it’s just because we haven’t spent any quality time together this week, y’know? All that absence makes the heart go...somewhere? I mean, the last significant contact I had with Faith, I was blocking her patented ‘Axe kick of agonising pain’, which, by the way, she telegraphs way too easily, so I call it the ‘axe kick of the entirely lame’. She totally hates that.”

“Okay, firstly, l I think it’s scary she names her ‘slayer moves’ and “It’s ‘makes the heart grow fonder’, silly.” Willow looked at her seriously for a moment, “Buffy...don’t take this the wrong way, but...”

Buffy looked worried. “What wrong way, what’s up?”

“Do you think this might be a slayer thing...or maybe a magic thing?” Willow held up her hand, “I’m not saying it's not, y’know, real. But it seems pretty intense, pretty fast, maybe there’s a supernatural angle.”

The thought had crossed Buffy’s mind once or twice since the two slayers had gotten physical in the cemetery, like maybe it was a slayer thing. But this, all of this, felt real, not forced, to Buffy. The warm, good feeling she got when she thought about Faith and the somewhat more intense feelings she had gotten when Faith looked at her before going to bed last night. Knowing she was across the hall, probably thinking about Buffy herself, had led to some intense dreams.

Buffy shook her head. “No, Will, I just think...I’m just excited, like I was when I was with Angel. It’s different, but similar. Boy, you’d think with S.A.T scores so high I’d be a bit more articulate.” She smiled at her friend, “Maybe there is a slayer part to this but that’s not all of it, or even most of it. It just is.”

Willow nodded in understanding before saying. “Oh, and Oz suggested bowling, for our date, what do you think? Is it casual enough to calm your hormones?”

“Bowling? Y’know, I’ve never actually bowled before. That could be fun, except...wh-what if I’m really bad? I can’t be a massive dork in front of Faith, not on our first..."

“Breath, Buffy. This is why, as a group, there’s no pressure. We hang out, rent some shoes, and get some food and then...” Willow paused and held up a clenched fist, “I will crush Cordelia beneath my heel, at least here’s hoping.”

*****

Buffy sat with Giles in the library, as he eyed the paper with her test scores. “Buffy. This is remarkable.”

“It’s a good thing I’m not offended by all the surprise faces that everyone keeps showing me.” Buffy remarked, “I’m entirely brainy...mostly.”

“Yes...quite.” Giles paused, a little tongue-tied, “I-It’s just with all, um, the other duties, being a slayer...”

Buffy smirked as she surveyed his camping gear. “I’m teasing. And impressed, but you know that the Lost World is fiction, right? You can’t just walk there with all this stuff.”

Giles was nonplussed for a moment. “What? Oh, my gear? No, no. These are basic necessities.”

Buffy was doubtful. “Yeah, if your a survivalist. I know they don’t have that many actual wild things in England, but you shouldn’t over-compensate, America really isn’t that dangerous. A few big cats, that’s it.”

“Yes, very droll.” Giles handed her back her test scores, “Here, I suspect your mother will want to put this on the refrigerator.”

Buffy popped the paper in her handbag. “Yeah, she saw these scores, she squealed out like she was possessed.”

Giles looked at her dubiously. “I’ve been on the Hellmouth too long. That was you using a simile, correct?"

“Yes. She was happy. Like me at in a shoe store happy.” Buffy continued, “She started going on about college, maybe going somewhere a little less Hellmouth-y.”

Giles frowned as he walked over to the book cage. “Buffy...”

Buffy looked at him carefully. “I said I’d talk it over with you first, mull over the possibilities.”

“She may be right.” Giles said softly.

“How do you figure? I mean, I’m the slayer.”

“These scores are an opportunity, Buffy. You could go on to get a first rate education.” He regarded her kindly, “I’m not going to ask you to ignore your calling, but you do need to look to your future. And with Faith here, it may be that you could move on, at least for a time.”

Buffy thought that the news would make her happier. “So, what does that mean for Faith? Does she just get stuck here?” She wondered.

“As you pointed out not too long ago, Buffy, both you and Faith have an equal stake here. Perhaps it’s time that Faith takes on some more responsibilities.”

Just then Faith swaggered in, face lighting up when she saw Buffy. “Hey there, B. You seen Giles around?” She walked over to the table, her eyes running admiringly over Buffy. “He said he wanted to see me, but if he ain’t here...”

Buffy's eyes widened and Giles coughed slightly as he emerged from the book cage. “Ah, Faith, you‘re here.”

Without missing a beat Faith turned to him. “So if B’s here I’m guessin’ it’s for a little one-on-one training.” She turned and looked at the table piled with equipment and bags, picking up a compass she squinted at it, “’less you’re havin’ some lame-ass yard sale? What’s all this crap?”

“My equipment.” Giles replied pointedly as he snatched the compass away, “I’m going out of town for a few days. There’s a clearing in Breaker’s woods, the site of some fascinating Druidic rituals. Well, it’s a retreat of sorts.”

“Cool, I here those hippie-type chicks put out more anyways.”

“And I’ve already warned him about cougars...” Buffy put in with a smile.

“Yes, one does live in hope.” Giles replied sarcastically, “Nonetheless, while I’m away I want you both to keep up with your training, no shirking of responsibilities.” He looked more at Buffy when he said that, which was unfair, she was totally the good one.

Buffy did her best wounded innocence face. “We’ll be good, really. Better than good, diligent, that’s the word. Right?”

Faith smirked. “You bet.”

*****

Buffy and Faith were half-heartedly patrolling on the way from school to Buffy’s house. Faith walked backward to talk to Buffy, as was her want, and made a face at her. “Bowling?”

Buffy nodded. “What’s wrong with bowling? It’s fun. Well, I’m guessing it's fun.”

“Well, it’s just... it’s not that sexy, B.”

“Well, have you got any better ideas?”

“I dunno, play some pool maybe, or go watch a movie.” She grinned widely, “Popcorn and makin’ out in the back row sounds about right...”

Buffy looked dubious. “Maybe we could work up to that. And besides, this is something everyone already agreed about.”

“Yeah, also the ‘everyone else’ being there...it’s kind of a drag.”

Buffy frowned at the other girl. “I thought you were okay with it.”

“Well, with Giles goin away an’ all...now we can do anything we want. We don’t have to pretend it’s a celebration thing.”

“Who’s pretending, all of us haven’t hung out in forever. It’ll be fun, I promise.”

“I dunno, being around you and not being able t’touch you...that’s gonna be hard.”

Buffy blushed at the heat of Faith’s gaze. “Okay, down girl. It’s not like it’s a picnic for me either. Ooh, picnic, that’s an idea."

Faith wrinkled her nose but didn’t say anything.

“...For another time.” Buffy rolled her eyes in exasperation, “Please, would you stop being such a baby about this.”

“I’m not.” Faith grumbled.

“You stick your bottom lip out any more I’m gonna trip over it. Here, lemme get that.” Buffy stopped and cupped Faith’s face. She tilted it up and pressed her lips against the other girl’s soft mouth. When Buffy felt the firm push of Faith’s tongue, she pulled away, laying another soft kiss on Faith’s pouty lower lip. “Better?”

“Li’l bit.” Faith breathed out like she trying to calm down, “Y’know, I told you this wasn’t gonna be easy for me, B. I’m new to the whole taking it slow shit.”

“Is that an apology?” Buffy asked softly.

“No, it’s a whasit? A disclaimer, buyer beware and read the label. All that crap.”

Buffy pretended confusion as she looked over the other girl. “Hmn, I don’t see any label.”

“Well, yer just gonna hafter wait to see it, I’m all for taking it slow these days.”

*****

“Carnegie Mellon has a wonderful design curriculum. And Brown University’s History programme is...you like history, right?”

“Mom, do we have to do this now? And is there some reason you want me on the other side of the country?”

Her Mom gave an apologetic smile. “Sorry, it’s just...I’m excited for you to have the life that you want. You should be at a good-old fashioned college, with keg-parties and boys. Not here with Hellmouth’s and vampires.”

“You’ve gotta be the first Mom ever to actively encourage drinking and partying. What next, sign me up for ‘Girls Gone Wild’?”

“Buffy...”

“I know, Mom, I get that you want me to get out and have a normal life, but I do have to think of other things, responsibilities...”

Her Mom nodded understandingly. “Yes, of course, but I spoke with Mr. Giles, and he said that Faith...” Joyce paused to lower her voice, “That Faith could take over for you, at least for a little while. She loves the slaying, she can stay here and battle...evil things. It’s perfect. I mean honestly, is there anything keeping you here?”

Just then Faith walked in, paused a second, before speaking up. “Hey, Mrs. S, you need me to set the table or anything?”

“Oh, thank you, Faith. That’s very thoughtful. I hope you girls are in the mood for casserole.”

“Uh, sure. You know me, easy to please.” Faith smiled quickly before walking back into the living room.

“I promise I’ll think about it mom, just not right now.” With that Buffy reached into the cupboard and grabbed some plates before heading after Faith. She found her placing cutlery around the table.

“Uh, Faith...”

“D’ya eat casserole with a spoon?” She asked.

“Um...what?”

“Casserole, its got gravy and stuff in it, so you’d want a spoon, right? No knives though, maybe a fork?” Faith was staring thoughtfully at the silverware.

“Faith, about what my Mom was saying...”

Faith glanced up and smirked. “Yeah, college, huh? Hope they have vamps wherever you end up, otherwise it's gonna be wicked boring.”

Buffy nodded awkwardly. “Well, it’s not like anything’s decided yet, there are still a lot of options.”

“Sure, whatever. Want my advice? Not Boston, ‘cause I can’t say I miss it much. I remember my Watcher said there’s maybe a Hellmouth in one of those middle states. Iowa or Ohio or somewhere.” Faith looked down at the table again, “But I’m guessin’ you’ll want to leave all that stuff behind, right?” She said softly.

Buffy felt a lump in her throat. “Faith...”

Faith nodded to herself. “Y’know what? I’m gonna go with forks, just looks better like that.”

*****

Buffy sighed as she listened at her door. Dinner had been weird; Buffy had never seen Faith be so quiet. She’d been polite when asked something, but other than that she hadn’t spoken at all, probably because Buffy’s Mom had been listing colleges like she’d just memorized their stats.

Buffy, like an idiot, just sat there nodding and listening, not really knowing how to shut her Mom up.

‘Well, maybe I could’ve tried “Hey Mom, you know how the normal college experience involves sexual experimentation, well, surprise, I started a little early!”’

Right. And that would’ve meant the meal ending with Buffy doing the Heimlich manoeuvre as her Mom choked on casserole pork, and then possibly Faith getting kicked out.

The truth was Buffy didn’t know what she wanted. The options were there, all over again, rolling over in her mind, the possibility of a fresh start somewhere else. Faith could act as the slayer in charge, and Buffy could try the whole ‘normal life’ thing. New place, new friends and no Angel, it sounded scary, but also exciting. This should be what she wanted more than anything, it just meant leaving Sunnydale and abandoning Faith, at least that’s what it felt like.

Buffy, hearing quiet footsteps, opened the door and casually went out into the corridor, then acted all nonchalant when she ran into Faith. “Oh, hey. Are you done in the bathroom?”

Faith, clad in the ragged white t-shirt and boxers she usually wore to bed, shrugged and mumbled. “Sure.”

An awkward beat. “So, about tomorrow...”

“You wanna call it quits.” Faith stated like it wasn’t even a question.

“What? No!” Buffy hissed, before taking Faith's arm and tugging her into her room, “I’m looking forward to it. Like, really. The whole getting to, um, spend time with you thing, I want to...” Buffy trailed off vaguely; did she really have to decide things right now? Couldn’t she just wait and see if the whole Faith and her thing would actually work out or if it was just hormones or chemistry or even magic? Why was she suddenly second-guessing the way she felt?

“Oh...” Faith scratched her arm absent-mindedly, “Okay, I guess if ya still wanna...”

Buffy, setting aside of her confusion for another time, looked at Faith. “I do. I just... I was thinking we could meet up at school, do a bit of training, y’know. Then change and head out for the bowling. I’ll tell Oz he can pick us up in his van.” She reached out and her fingers brushed Faith’s own. She smiled a little and caught the other girl’s eyes.

Faith’s lips curved into a small smile. “Sure, I’ll be there.”

*****

Buffy stepped gingerly round the stain on the marble floor. “Still got some cleaning up to do I see?”

Angel chucked another log into the fireplace and stood up, wiping his hands. “What can I say; domestic chores aren’t my strong suit.” He turned to her and shrugged slightly, “Besides, it turns out Lagos is one of the point one percent stains that most products can’t get out.”

Buffy took off her rucksack and set it down. “Yeah, sorry about that. On the bright side, the place smells nicer. Very...alpine fresh.”

Angel nodded and then saw the brochures in her hands. “What are those?”

“My future, according to Mom.” Buffy sat and fanned them out on the table, “Colleges, lots of them, kind of an intense proposition.”

“Where you want to go?”

Buffy laughed lightly. “I have no clue. Mom’s just so pumped, but I think it’s a reaction to the whole slayer thing.”

Angel nodded. “She wants you to get out.”

“As fast as I can. Somewhere I can be normal, this is my big chance...”

Angel sat down near her. “You don’t sound too happy about it.”

“Well, she has a point, but I’m not so sure. There are reasons to stay too.”

He looked at her searchingly. “Such as?”

Buffy shrugged uncomfortably, not looking at him. “Nothing you want to hear...”

“Buffy, if we can’t be together, then we can at least try and be friends. Can’t we?”

‘That’s the question...’ “Sure, I guess.”

Angel regarded her for a long moment before changing the subject. “You look nice.” He said softly.

Buffy looked down at her herself. “What, this old thing? I’m gonna practice with Faith later.”

Angel’s brow creased. “How are you both doing, after everything?”

Buffy smiled uncomfortably. “Angel, do you really want to know about our problems?”

He just looked at her steadily.

Buffy sighed. “Okay, well, she’s a big part of my conflictiness. Why I’m not sure about going or staying. She’s realising that I might leave when we’re just starting to...” Buffy stopped hesitantly.

“It must be difficult for you both. I know...if I was her, I wouldn’t want to stand in your way.”

Buffy sighed and stood up; talking about this with Angel wasn’t going to help. “I should probably get going. I just stopped by to see how you were, not...I’m just going to the normal thing and take out my frustrations...on Faith, which sounds counter-productive I know, but...” She stopped as she realised Angel was hesitantly trying to say something.

His expression faltered a little. “I’d like to meet her, Faith. Properly. In a situation where she’s not trying to kill me.”

“You want to meet her?” Buffy felt her stomach knot at the thought. In her mind the whole Angel/Faith relationship was something to be covered up and never even partially repeated. Them meeting and talking seemed like it would be...bad. Seriously bad, “I...I don’t know. I’d probably have to tie her up, um, so she wouldn’t attack...that being the reason for that.” She looked at him a little worriedly, “Angel. I really can’t see it going well. Why would you even want to?”

Angel smiled slightly at her uneasiness. “I’m curious about her; she must be pretty special if you think so much of her.”

“Because I ‘like‘ like her even though she’s a girl,” Buffy wondered, “Well, look at it this way, maybe it’s you; like you’ve spoiled me for all other guys.”

Angel looked at her stoically.

“Good spoiled, not bad spoiled. Like a princess, not, um, like fruit.” Buffy clarified, “It’s a compliment.”

“Thanks. I think.”

“I’ll talk to her, Angel. I mean, she is kind of curious about you so maybe...just don’t expect too much.”

“My expectations are usually very low.” He remarked dryly, “It comes with the whole gypsy curse.”

Buffy smiled a little sadly. “Well, I’ll see you.”

Angel watched as she left.

*****

Buffy always liked the school like this, after the janitors had cleaned up and gone home leaving nothing but clean, open spaces in which to fight in. Clearly she was damaged.

Buffy laid the two pair of fighting clubs on the table, deciding that Faith needed to practice a little more with two weapon fighting. Whenever they tried to do it with Giles around he got all distracted and complained that it looked too much like something called Morris dancing, whatever that was.

Buffy rolled her neck and stretched, content to do warm-ups until Faith arrived. Start with some gymnastics and then some cardio, damn Giles for hiding all her music. Buffy breathed out slowly before springing forward into a hand-stand that turned into a double-flip, then a cart-wheel, winding up with a couple of high kicks to finish off any imaginary vampires. Very tall vampires.

“Nice goin’ grasshopper, now shake yer pompoms!” Faith sniggered.

“Gah!” Buffy yelled as struggled to remain balanced, “Will you not do that, I could’ve... easily floored you.”

“Wouldn’t complain.” Faith said as she walked over dressed in workout clothes. Cut-off jean shorts and a Motor City t-shirt that left a band of skin showing above her waist, Buffy tried not to stare.

Buffy turned and walked back towards the table. “So, I reckon we’ve got an hour or so to train before we go and join the others for bowling fun. I figure we could do something light, like with these...” She turned around to find Faith standing very close to her, arms crossed, giving her a decidedly dangerous smirk.

Buffy’s smile faltered a little. “You still want to bowl, don’t you?”

“Yep, I even rented Kingpin this afternoon while your Mom was out. Y’know, for the research. Plus Vanessa Angel.” Faith reached forward and grabbed the two clubs Buffy was holding, “Y’know, I always dreamed of you handing me somethin’ long and cylindrical and then sayin’ ‘use it on me’, B.” She said smiling indecently.

Buffy reddened. “Um, I’m not really sure how to respond to that.” She turned around to grab the other pair of weapons, “Instead, I think I’ll just attack you...” There was a clatter as Faith tossed the clubs onto the table either side of Buffy and her hands were suddenly on the blonde girl’s hips.

“Attack me, huh? That could have potential.” Faith’s voice was a low sexy burr, close to Buffy’s ear. Buffy felt the other girl press against her back, her hands sliding down to squeeze Buffy’s butt through her training pants. “Damn, with an ass like this I shoulda known you were a cheerleader.”

“Uh, Faith, w-we’re, um, we really should training. We told Giles...” Buffy didn’t know how she got so flustered so fast.

“We are trainin’, B. We’re gonna be covering dexterity,” Faith’s hands slid up and round to Buffy’s taut belly, “reflex response,” she slid her hands to cup Buffy’s breasts, causing the blonde girl’s breath to hitch, “And breathing exercises.” Faith kissed the side of Buffy’s neck, her lips lazily following the line of Buffy’s neck, up to her ear and then leaning forward to kiss her cheek. Buffy turned her head and Faith smiled as she pressed her mouth against Buffy’s.

And somehow Buffy, who had genuinely wanted to train and be the good slayer, found herself leaning back against Faith, her head turned to meet the other girl’s kisses. Faith’s assured hands cupped and squeezed Buffy’s breasts, making the other girl squirm and make little breathy moans into Faith’s mouth. Buffy’s breath grew ragged as she pulled away slightly, all the sensations proving a little overwhelming. Her body seemed all of a sudden to thrum with desire, nerves taut and sensitive with need, and Faith seemed to know where to touch or kiss.

Faith’s hips ground insistently against Buffy’s backside, her hands moving from her chest, fingers gliding down her body to the top of her pants, fingertips secreting themselves under the elastic as Faith searched for access. Buffy put her own hands downwards, over Faith’s and pulled them up slightly, hoping the other girl would take the hint.

Instead Faith suddenly moved her hands to Buffy’s waist and spun her so they were facing, her eyes sliding over Buffy’s form, drinking in her form.

“Fuck, you look hot.” Faith growled, as she moved her head to Buffy’s neck, hot breath tickling before her moist mouth sucked against Buffy’s skin.

“Everyone’s...a fan.” Buffy groaned weakly, tilting her head back to allow Faith more contact, the brunette kissed down her neck to the slopes of her breasts, lips brushing against tender flesh.

Buffy gasped louder as Faith’s thigh bumped between their bodies, firm muscle shifting solidly to find her moistening centre. Faith’s hands went to Buffy’s hips and drew her closer even as she pushed the both of them back against the table. Buffy found herself perched on the edge of the table, Faith’s breath mixing with hers as she sought out Buffy’s lips again. Faith’s hips tilted and her thigh pressed more insistently, rhythmically rocking against Buffy’s crotch. Buffy’s body shuddered as she moaned into Faith’s mouth, every jolt seemed nerve-shredding. She could feel pressure mounting, her body buzzing, she’d never felt this overwhelmed, wet and turned on before.

‘What am I doing?’

Buffy moved her head back from Faith and swallowed hard. “Faith...stop, we shouldn’t...I’m, uh, getting...”

“Huh?” Faith’s eyes were unfocused with lust, she smiled lazily. “That’s kinda the idea, B...”

Buffy put her hands on Faith and pushed her away. “Please, just stop a minute. We shouldn’t..."

“What’s up?” Faith pulled back, her voice was a mixture of concern, desire and uncertainty.

Buffy huffed a weak laugh. “We’re going on a date tonight and I’m here pretty much ready to...have a happy right here.”

Faith tilted her head and smirked. “So?”

Buffy smacked her arm lightly. “So, we’re supposed to be going slow. I thought you were okay with that?”

Faith’s smirk faded to a frown. “But that was before the college stuff, right? I mean you’ll be leaving town eventually, so what’s the point in waiting?”

“I don’t know what I’m doing in the future, okay? That’s the point.”

Faith stepped back. “Yeah, sure. Look I get it; I’m not stupid, okay? You’ve been real friendly and nice since I got here hoping that you can go off to college; make sure you’ve got the town covered. It’s cool, but don’t be holdin’ out and pretending this is some big romance.”

Buffy just stared at her. “Is that what you think? That I’ve been playing you?”

Faith shrugged, her mouth a tight line. “Way of the world. I’m used to it by now, everyone wants somethin’.

“How could you think..?” Buffy shook her head, “I’m not like that, okay? I meant everything I said to you, about us.”

Faith looked doubtful. “’Til you go to college, anyway. Listen, B, it’s cool, you don’t hav’ta get all uptight about it.” Her smirk returned, “Y’know I’m not gonna go evil if we screw around, right?”

Buffy flinched at Faith’s words even if they had been lightly said. She just stared coldly at Faith. “Real nice, Faith.”

Faith already looked like she regretted saying that last part. She looked uncertain. “Aw, damn. Buffy, I’m sorry okay... I told you I wasn’t good at this stuff.”

“Well, you weren’t lying.” Buffy grumbled and pushed off the table, moving passed Faith to grab her backpack, although the thought of a bowling date didn’t really appeal to her anymore. Maybe she could accidentally drop a bowling ball on Faith’s foot. Or head.

“Buffy, just stop. C’mon, please.” It was so weird to Buffy’s ears to hear Faith’s voice pleading this way that she stopped and turned, still glaring. “Okay, good, you’ve done that...So, I’m sorry about the Angel stuff, alright? Way outta line, I know. You just...you made me mad, messin’ with me like this. All these...I don’t know what’s goin’ on with you, in your head and it’s screwing stuff up.”

Buffy sighed, her eyes softened slightly and then the library doors burst open and Cordelia and Xander quickly entered, looking worried. “Buffy, you’re still here. We’ve got a big problem.”

Buffy frowned. “Guys, what’s wrong?”

“Willow and Oz are missing.”

‘Oh god... Spike.’

“Oh god, Sp...sure they’re in trouble? I mean are you sure?” Buffy said flustered.

“Well, Oz’s van’s missing. He was supposed to pick us up. Plus one of the school labs is a real mess.” Xander, his soft eyes were hardened with worry; “I think there was a fight.”

“And it’s not even a wolf-moon-thing, y’know.” Cordelia said anxiously.

Buffy quickly followed the two of them to the chem lab with Faith in tow. Just like before there was a mess, spell components were all over the place.

‘What was Willow doing?’ “Guys, look around, see if you can see anything?”

Faith’s gaze travelled over the mess. “Maybe it was a spell, like they got turned invisible or somethin’”

“Then we’d still be able to hear them,” Buffy said vaguely. How could she have been so stupid as to forget about Spike? She’d been so wrapped up in her thing with Faith, she’d put her friends lives in danger. Well, actually Spike had and this time he was definitely getting staked.

“Spike.” Buffy said firmly, “The only vampire I know who leaves that stink behind.”

Xander lifted his head up. “I don’t smell anything, just...evil church.”

“Spike? That’s bad. He’s...bad.” Cordelia worried, “But why would he take them? Wouldn’t he just kill them or something?

“Hey!” Xander snapped, “Willow’s fine, she’s just fine, okay.”

Cordelia nodded. “Maybe wants one of them for something. Like, maybe he wants Oz because... he’s in a band?”

“Or maybe he’s putting together the Universal Monsters collection and needs a werewolf.” Xander replied sarcastically.

“Y’think?” Cordelia frowned.

Buffy shook her head. “More likely he wants Willow, for some witchy stuff, maybe a spell.” She turned to the two of them, he wanted them safe not crawling around some factory, “Listen, go and find Giles, he’s up in Breaker’s woods, there’s a retreat near a clearing.”

Xander thought about it. “I don’t think I know it.”

Buffy turned to Cordelia. “Find it on a map. It’s a forty-five minute drive so get moving.”

“I can’t just leave!” Xander snapped in frustration.

Buffy grabbed his arm and looked Xander in the face. “Xander, this is me. Trust me; I know what I’m doing. I will find Willow and Oz and make sure they're safe, and Spike will not last the night.”

Xander’s mouth set into a grim line, but he nodded and turned and left with Cordelia.

“Where do we start lookin’?” Faith asked, “The creep could be anywhere.”

“First off I want to check in on Mom, make sure she’s alright.” Off of Faith’s puzzled look, “Last year I sort of...invited Spike into my house. I was trying to save the world, okay? He, um, sort of helped.”

“Looks like it didn’t take, huh?”

Buffy nodded in agreement. “C’mon.”

*****

Buffy quietly opened the front door and heard Spike's voice mocking. “You’re a very bad man!”

Angel, his voice angry and frantic, “Joyce, you can’t trust him. Invite me in!”

Buffy glanced at Faith and raised a finger to her lips before swiftly and silently moving towards the back of the house as Spike continued to taunt. He really liked the sound of his own voice.

“...Yeah? You and what army?”

Buffy grabbed Spike’s shoulder and slammed him back on the counter. “That would be me.”

She pinned Spike down and without looking said. “Angel, why don’t you come on in.”

Angel, glowering dangerously, entered the kitchen.

“Oh, no.” Her Mom backed away, horrified. Buffy’s really should’ve gotten around to telling her about Angel’s return... ”Faith, stop him.”

“It's okay, Mrs. S, Angel pulls for the good guys now.”

“He does?”

Buffy glared down at the blonde vampire. “You shouldn’t have come back, Spike. Especially not to my house.”

Spike looked defiant and coldly stated. “I do what I please.”

Buffy’s Mom was looking at them all in uncertainty. “Okay, I’m confused again.”

Spike made a grab for Buffy’s neck but Angel seized his arm and slammed it down hard on the counter.

“What have you done with Willow and Oz?” Buffy asked coldly, although she was pretty certain of the answer.

If Spike was surprised by her knowledge he didn’t show it. “That’s right, I took the little witch. She’s gonna do a little spell for me.”

Buffy’s Mom was disbelieving. “Willow’s a witch?”

Buffy picked up a wooden spoon. “I don’t think so? ‘Cause I’m guessing there at the factory, right Spike?”

To her surprise Spike just raised an eyebrow. “Do me now and you’ll never find her, her dog-boy neither.

Buffy heard her Mom ask. “Willow has a dog as well?”

Faith chuckled. “Nah, that’s Oz, he’s a werewolf.”

“Faith!”

“It’s not my fault you don’t tell her stuff, maybe if you did she wouldn’t be makin’ hot chocolate for evil dead here.”

Buffy lessened her grip and backed up, suddenly unsure. Spike just smiled smugly.

Then Angel grabbed him and pulled him up close, snarling. “Where are they?”

Spike wrestled out of his grip, his mouth twisting in contempt. “Doesn’t work like that, peaches, and when did you become all soul-having again, I thought you outgrew that.”

Buffy scowled at the vampire. “So we’re just supposed to trust you?”

Spike leaned back on the counter, relaxed. “Worked for you once, didn’t it? She does my spell, I‘ll let ‘em both go. You can tag along if you like, bring your poof an‘all. But get in my way, bad things happen and you end up killing your little pals.”

Evidently satisfied, Spike glanced curiously over at Faith, who just glared flatly back at him. “Got yerself a new playmate there, slayer?”

Buffy flushed a little at that. “What’s that...supposed to mean?” Luckily Spike didn’t notice.

Faith walked up to Spike and Buffy was struck by how oddly similarly they held themselves, the same confident swagger in their body language. Faith cracked her knuckles. “William the Bloody, right? Yeah, I heard all about you, how B couldn’t get enough of kickin’ your sorry ass all over this burg, till you did the smart thing and ran off.” She leaned forward and sniffed, “Whatcha been doin’, cowering in a whiskey barrel for the past few months?”

Spike sneered at Faith as he told Buffy. “Bint’s got a mouth on ‘er, whoever she is.”

Faith just smiled. “Name’s Faith, the vampire slayer.”

Spike complained angrily. “Oh, bloody hell! Another one? This whole bleedin’ town’s always crawling with slayers. Like lice, you are.”

Faith leaned closer. “Stupid talk, Willie, seein’ as everyone in this kitchen wants you dead.”

Buffy’s Mom spoke up. “Well, actually I really don’t understand any of this.”

Spike allowed his anger to fade.” Bluster all you like, but I’ve got, well the technical term is leverage, so I think I’m safe.” He sighed contentedly, “Right, I’m off. Come if yer comin’.”

With that Spike left, Buffy stood there in frustration, she really didn’t want to have to play this little part again. She just hoped Willow and Oz were safe wherever they were. But at least with Faith along things would be a little easier, she glanced between Angel and Faith who had both watched and quietly seethed as Spike had swaggered out.

Easier but probably more awkward.

*****

The four of them walked out of the alley onto Main Street, judging by body language both Faith and Angel wanted nothing more than to severely pummel Spike until he stopped talking, which he was doing at the moment.

“...I just need a few supplies, and then I’ll take you to...” He stopped and suddenly staggered to the side.

Faith smiled in glee. “Well, look who’s sobering up.”

Buffy glanced disparagingly. “Looks like he’s havin’ a little ‘morning after the night before’ moment.”

Faith snorted and glanced at the sky. “Yeah, morning without the sun, pity.” Buffy saw that that comment got a side-long look from Angel. She guessed he didn’t want his first meeting with Faith to go down like this, then again neither did Buffy.

Spike clutched his head. “Oh, leave off. It’s horrible. I wish I was dead.”

“Hey, with three of us, we could actually form a line.” Faith pulled out a stake and stepped closer.

“Oi! Back off!” Spike went into a combat stance.

Angel stepped into her path before Buffy could. “Faith, don’t, we still need him.”

Faith gave Angel an antagonistic look before Buffy pulled on her arm. “Angel’s right, as long as he’s got the hostages...”

“Right, right. Got it, just not used to being close to a vamp I couldn’t stake before.” Another look passed between Angel and Faith, but Faith just shrugged and stayed close to Buffy.

Spike watched all this with interest, a small smile playing over his face.

Buffy glared at him. “You wanna get moving, we don’t have all night, emphasis on you.”

“Right you are then.” He turned and wandered along before stopping again, his features twisting into melancholy. He ran his hand up a street light, “Oh, God...”

Angel was exasperated. “What now?”

“I remember...I found it for her right here, on a leash. The sweetest, most delicate little thing...Puppies were Dru’s favourite...”

“I think I’m gonna heave.” Grumbled Faith impatiently, stubbing her toe against the curb.

Buffy tried to move things along. “Spike, no more reminiscing about your ‘good ol’ days’.”

Spike snorted. “We had plenty of good ol’ days. Decades of ‘em, you couldn’t imagine...I’m getting her back.”

Buffy, in an oddly intimate exchange, shared a look of quiet exasperation with both Faith and Angel, before Spike strode up the sidewalk towards the closed off Magic Box.

Police tape crossed the front of the store as Buffy walked in and tore it aside. Signs of another death, maybe somebody she could’ve saved this time round, if she’d tried. Stupid.

“William’s bloody handy work...”

Spike shrugged. “Yeah, well...customers always right and all that.”

He handed her a list, Buffy looked and recognised Willow’s writing, “Essence of violet, Angel?”

“Right.” Angel walked to one of the back shelves and scanned it.

“Cloves, Faith?”

“You got it.” Eyeing Spike she went round the counter to start looked.

“Runic tablets. Spike can get the rat’s eyes.”

Spike sighed to himself. “I used to bring her rats... with the morning paper...

Buffy rolled her eyes but decided to keep quiet this time, her eyes searched for tablets. Maybe they could actually get this done without...

Faith couldn’t resist. “Geez, we get it already, love’s bitch...She’s really got you whipped, huh?”

Spike sniffed and turned to her. “Yeah? You’d know I suppose.”

Faith shook her head, still looking at jars. “Guess again, Willie.”

“I’m not guessing, you’ve been making moon eyes at the slayer for the better part of an hour. And I thought I was pathetic...”

“Screw you!” Faith suddenly hopped over the counter, pulling her stake and lunging at Spike. Buffy managed to get in her way and grab her arm.

“Faith, don’t.” She looked into the other girl’s eyes and spoke softly, “Don’t listen to him, okay?” She pushed Faith’s arm down gently and smiled reassuringly at her.

Spike’s face went from puzzled to incredulous. “You have got to be sodding kidding me, I come back to this town and Angel’s...he’s turned you into a girl-loving carpet-muncher!” Spike chortled in delight, “That’s bloody priceless! So what, you keep the big poofter around for the odd weekend, is that it.”

Buffy turned and glared at him. “You’re twisted, Spike. You don’t actually have any clue what love is.”

“Oh, I’m twisted? You’re the one who’s got these two trailing around making googly eyes at you.”

Buffy had had enough of this. “That’s not...Angel and I, we’re just friends. We’ve talked it through and agreed.”

Spike, sneering at them, wasn’t convinced. “Oh, you’ve agreed, have you? Well, that’s just fine ‘cause you’ve talked it through.” He continued, his voice cracking with emotion, “Love isn’t like that, it’s not tidy or neat or reasonable, it doesn’t obey rules. It’s in your guts, you can’t get rid of it, you make yourself crazy; tear your bleedin’ heart out trying to fight it. But you, you think you can just decide.” He shook his head, “Even I’m not that bloody stupid.”

He turned away from all three of them and grabbed a jar off the shelves. “Gotcha. Eye of rat.”

Buffy glanced at both Faith and Angel; neither would look her directly in the eye. Angel’s jaw was clenching so hard she could see a twitching neck muscle. Faith’s eye had suddenly got that hard and cynical look to them.

‘I really hate it when Spike mouths off, usually because he has a point...’

*****

After they finished in the shop they walked quickly away from the store, trying to distance themselves from the sullen air that had coalesced around them. Buffy distracted herself by concentrated on her surroundings, on the lookout for large groups of hostile vampires she pulled away from the others.

“What’s your hurry, luv?” Spike said, needling her.

“My hurry is the very intense desire to see you gone from my life, again.”

“Afraid of a few home truths are we?”

“You leave her alone.” Faith growled.

“You like ‘em all protective don’t you, slayer. Yank their leash and they come running...”

Spike didn’t finish before Angel grabbed his shoulder and slammed a fist into his face, knocking him to the ground.

Spike flipped to his feet to face the other vampire, and smiled. “Yeah, ‘course you’re just friends...”

“Spike. This a bad time?” A vampire appeared behind him, grinning. And suddenly Buffy saw others closing in, about a dozen surrounding them.

“Lenny.” Spike said jovially, his face smirking, “How’re you been.”

The other vampire showed a fang-filled grin. “Better since you left. You should’ve stayed gone.”

Spike looked him up and down. “Is that right?”

Angel and Faith were looking around at the assembled group; Buffy could swear Faith looked happy about it.

Buffy sighed. “Do we really have to do this; he was just about to leave.”

Spike sneered at Lenny. “This pissant used to work for me!”

Faith dropped her bag and pulled a stake. “I’m kinda in the mood to hurt somethin’”

Lenny waved his arm at them. “You three can walk away.”

Spike glanced at Buffy. “I die, your chums die.”

“Looks like we’re staying.” Buffy grumbled.

“Not for long.” Lenny grinned, and then attacked.

Buffy was faster, kicking him in the chest and punching her way free of the group, trying to get some space in which to fight. She looked to see three vampires backing Spike up towards a parked car, a couple driving Angel down an alley and another three trying to pile on Faith.

Buffy was a blur of frenetic motion, spinning kick after kick at any vampire coming near, concentrating on knocking them to the ground and moving clear. One snarling vamp grabbed her shoulder and hauled her up, throwing her clear over a wall onto the patio outside the Espresso Pump, two of his growling buddies leaping the chain to cut her off.

Buffy flipped to her feet and kicked out, sending one flying back against the wall then ducking the punch of another before leg sweeping him. She grabbed a propped up broom, snapped it and drove the jagged end into the chest of one vamp before leaping over the wall to help Faith.

She saw the dark slayer duck low and punch one vampire in the gut so hard that his legs flew out from under him, he fell and slammed hard into the road. Faith spun and delivered her spinning axe-kick to another vamp running at her, leaving him floored and dazed.

Yet another seized her from behind and pulled her back, a third laying a couple of heavy punches to her ribs before he was kicked away. Faith slammed her head back, before grabbing the vampires arm, twisting it, and throwing him over her shoulder. She staked him when he hit the ground.

Buffy kicked out at a vampire to Faith’s side and staked him as he sprawled against the wall. Buffy watched as Angel struggle with his three vamps, knocking them all off there feet as he desperately tried to keep them at bay.

“Faith, help Angel.” She gasped as she caught two vampires with the same roundhouse.

Faith grunted and ran towards the other fight, announcing her presence by driving the face of a surprised vampire into the side of a building, before throwing another against a parked car. She chucked a stake to Angel. “Try using that, ‘might help.”

Spike was now on top of the parked car, as before, as was content to take vamps one at a time, stopping briefly to stake one with a fence post it had unwisely wielded at him.

Buffy noted that Faith being here was making a real difference, four vamps staked and another one unconscious, the vampire were getting more cautious in their attacks. Lenny, the leader, charged Spike and they both went flying off the top of the car and through the front of the Magic Box.

Buffy turned as she shoulder threw a bruised and bloody vampire to the ground to see Angel and Faith simultaneously punch the same vampire as he charged at them. He landed heavily and Faith made an ‘after you’ gesture before Angel punched the stake downwards. Another dusted.

One downed vamp slammed a barrel against Faith’s back, knocking her down, before lashing out at Angel, driving the weakened vampire back. Buffy ran to his aid, smacking the broken handle across the vamps face, before twirling it and jamming it point end into his back.

And just like that they were running, scattering to the alleys as they realised just who they were facing. Two pissed off slayers, a cursed vampire and...

“Now that was fun!” Spike roared as he kicked himself free of the shop window. He regarded the others, “Oh, don’t tell me that wasn’t fun. God! It’s been so long since I had a proper spot of violence...” He shook his head, “Really puts things in perspective.”

Buffy helped Faith up from the ground; she looked wearily at Spike, still winded from the fight. “Perspective, as in..?”

“Dru wants the old me, the one that doesn’t do team ups. “He waved his hand dismissively at Buffy, “If I want her to love me again, I’ve just gotta be the man I was...Instead of all this weeping and crawling. I’ve just gotta find her, wherever she is, tie her up and torture her, ‘til she likes me again.” Spike puffed up his chest, “Right, I’m off.”

“Spike! My friends, where are they?”

“Oh, right, almost forgot. They're at the factory.” Off her disbelieving look, “One hell of a poker face, slayer, especially when I’m hammered.”

“I...violently dislike you!” Buffy said through gritted teeth.

“Oh, there fine. No harm done, not compared to what you’re doin’ here.” Spike paused, “Y’know... loves a funny thing.” He mused, before walking away, damage done.

Buffy looked questioningly at Angel and Faith. “Are you two...?”

“I’m fine.”

“Five by Five.”

‘Yeah, damage done.’

*****

Buffy visited Angel the day after, she felt like she had to clear the air between them. And now, standing in the mansion looking at him, that air was thick with tension.

He stood there, his shoulders tense. “Your friends, Willow...they’re fine?”

“Oz has a headache, he’s quieter than usual, but other than that they’re both fine.” In fact Willow had been awkward and guilt ridden around Buffy, confessing to her that Spike must’ve gotten the love spell idea from Willow after she visited the Magic Box.

“I was just gonna do a kinda love spell detection spell on you, just to check...that’s why I needed your hair comb, um, which I stole, by the way. Sorry.”

Buffy was so relieved that Willow was safe she didn’t really care, her thoughts about everything Faith related had been so mixed up lately that the only way she could figure them out was to talk with Faith. But first...

Buffy sighed. “All things considered it could’ve been a lot worse...”

“I’m leaving.” Angel said. His voice was rough.

“...What?”

Angel looked at her, his eyes full of sorrow. “What Spike said, he was right. I...I can’t be around you, I’ve tried and it just confuses things, for the both of us...”

“But, Angel...” Buffy paused; this was always going to happen. Angel could never be in her life, not like she wanted. She was just being selfish. “When will you go...and where?”

“I don’t know. Soon, probably. It’ll be easier, I’m sorry, Buffy.”

“You don’t ever have to be sorry, what we had...I’ll miss you, but if it’s too difficult... I love you, Angel.”

Angel looked at her, like he looked at her on graduation night, in the swirling smoke and sirens, like he was saying goodbye all over again.

“Buffy, I...”

Buffy stepped forward. “Before you leave, come and tell me and then you can say what you want to say, okay?”

Angel nodded and turned away. “When I know more, I’ll tell you.”

Buffy felt all that sorrow and aching regret like it was yesterday, she wanted it gone but at the same time, she didn’t want to lose any memories of him, of Angel- her first...everything that mattered.

But Angel was the past, now Buffy had to decide her future.

*****

Buffy found Faith in the back yard, sitting on the porch and drinking a soda, her eyes fixed on the fading light of dusk.

Buffy smiled. “Hey.”

Faith tried a smile, but it faltered a little, she looked down at the ground. “Hey.”

Buffy sighed. “I’m sorry.”

Faith shrugged; looking so much like a lonely little kid it made Buffy’s heart ache. Buffy never knew she could feel so strongly for two such different people.

Buffy sat down next to Faith, but didn’t look at her. “I haven’t been straight with you about stuff, I’ve been too mixed up...but that’s really just me not being able to make choices. Indecisive Buffy.”

Faith didn’t say anything; she just looked like she was bracing herself for whatever Buffy had to say.

Buffy pulled the pamphlet out of her pocket. “I’m going to college next year, the very exotic and expensive UC Sunnydale. Five miles away.” She pushed the pamphlet so Faith could see it.

Faith’s brow furrowed and looked at Buffy. “B, y’don’t hav’ta do this for me...”

Buffy put her hand on Faith’s arm. “I don’t have to do anything, that’s why it’s a choice. I told you I’d always be here and I meant it. No arm-twisting or guilt or anything.”

“What about your Mom?”

“Mom wants me happy, and normal-ish, not thousands of miles away, we talked yesterday. She’s happy that I’m taking charge of my future, that’s it.”

Faith looked down at where Buffy was touching her. “But, I still don’t get it.”

“Simple. I don’t want to go away. My Mom’s here, my home and my friends.” Buffy tilted her head to look at Faith, “My girlfriend...”

“Angel...” Faith murmured.

Buffy shook her head. “Despite the name, he’s not a girl...and he’s leaving, some time soon. And, y’know what, that’s actually for the best. I hope he’s lucky enough to find someone else, like I did.”

Faith seemed to fight to keep from smiling; her eyes looked a little teary. “Don’t be goin’ all sappy...”

“Too late.” Buffy leaned forward and kissed Faith gently on the lips, before remembering where she was and pulling away slightly. “Sorry, I just don’t know where Mom is.”

Faith nodded and blinked rapidly before saying. “So, Giles has given me a day or so to chill, on account of me kickin ass last night. He’s very grateful.”

“Aren’t we all.” Buffy replied dryly, “So, I was thinking, tomorrow night, we should go see a movie together.”

“Seriously?” Faith said brightly.

“I, of course, will get to pick the actual film.” Buffy said airily.

Faith sighed. “Knew there was a catch, stuck watching some chick-flick.”

“It may or may not be a romantic comedy with Hugh Grant in it, you don’t know.” Buffy said before leaning over, “But I wouldn’t worry, ‘cause you’re buying the popcorn...and picking where we sit.”

Faith grinned widely, her eyes sparkling. “Meaning..?”

Buffy bit her bottom lip. “Well, all Hugh Grant movies are the same nowadays...”

...continued in Amends...

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