One Day I'll Find You
by Dylan
Rating: NC-17

Disclaimer: These characters do not belong to me, unfortunately. They are the property of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy and whoever the hell else owns them. I make no profit from this.
Timeline: Beginning of season 5.
A/N: This may have been done by others, but now it's my turn. Tru doesn't see or hear dead people, nor work in a morgue.

+1=2=3+

CHAPTER ONE

The sound of feet scurrying towards her caught Buffy's attention as she strolled around the dusty warehouse soon to be full of art.

"Miss Summers, could you please tell your sister that the painting she's poking at is a very expensive piece of art? She doesn't seem to hear me when I ask her not to do it, and your mother is busy on the phone," a small man in a bright yellow shirt asked as he gripped tightly to his clipboard.

Buffy sighed and nodded, turning her attention to Dawn who was smirking as she leaned next to the wall by the painting in question. She made her way over to her and grabbed her by the arm, paying no attention to Dawn's little squeal.

"Dawn, if I have to kick your butt in public it's gonna look really stupid," Buffy said. "Do you want to look really stupid?"

Dawn shook her head and pulled her arm free from Buffy's grip.

"I'm bored," Dawn whined. "Isn't mom done yet?"

"No, she's not, so grow up," Buffy replied. "I'm sick of babysitting you."

They'd all taken the trip to Los Angeles as a family in order to show support for Joyce. She'd been given a prestigious art exhibition to set up, and needed to be there for at least a week. Buffy was due to catch the bus back after only a night there, but Joyce and Dawn were going to stay on in the hotel until the exhibition was over. That was the plan anyway. Buffy was happy to come along overnight, but she wanted to get back to Sunnydale as fast as possible.

Buffy wasn't much of a fan of LA, especially these days. Her last visit hadn't been a pleasant one as she'd fought with the man she once believed she'd love forever, and witnessed the dark shell that had once been her fellow slayer Faith. The memories were harsh, and ones she tried not to think about too often. It was too hard believing Angel could denounce her so easily, and far too painful remembering the hollow look in Faith's eyes and the way she had told Faith that she never wanted to hear her apology.

That had been wrong; Buffy knew it. She felt it. Buffy realised now that she should have listened, even if she could never forgive Faith or understand her reasons. It was too late now. Faith was in jail, her charges not as harsh as they probably should have been due to lack of evidence, but she was looking at over a year in custody. Buffy wouldn't visit. She had no plans to visit the past. That part of her life was over and Faith was gone from it.

She wanted to get home, back to the relative safety of her friends and her boyfriend Riley. It was bad enough she had to share a hotel room with Dawn that night; she didn't particularly want to spend all day with her too. But she was stuck babysitting as her mom took phone calls and delegated, and did what she had to do. It was the least she could do for her mom considering how busy she'd been lately at work. Buffy at least had the prospect of some time alone, without babysitting duties, when she got back. There was quality time to be had with Riley. In fact, if there wasn't any quality time Buffy suspected the relationship wouldn't last the week.

Riley had expressed concern that they were drifting apart. It's something Buffy could see herself, but hadn't felt completely compelled to fix. Maybe it was just time for them to part. She didn't know. There were reasons she liked him and wanted to stay with him, but there were also reasons to allow the drift to happen.

Buffy felt like her life was taking a new turn. She couldn't pinpoint why, but things felt different. She was doing well at college, finally finding her groove there. Her friends were all growing into interesting people and she wanted to be part of that. Buffy didn't want to be defined by being a slayer, even if she did feel more attached to that part of herself than ever before.

It felt like something had to change, or give, or break. Buffy just wasn't sure what it was.

"Buffy, would you mind going out to pick up some lunch for us? I just haven't got time," Joyce called from the far end of the room.

Buffy nodded, then narrowed her eyes at Dawn when it looked like she was about to join her.

"I'll go alone, thanks," Buffy pointed out. "I'm sure mom could use your help. . .yunno, moving stuff around."

"Do I look like a person that moves things?" Dawn griped, her arms being flung in the air as Buffy turned and left. "That's so not fair. . .you're the one with freaky biceps, not me."

Buffy heard the little stomp as she left the building and smiled up into the bright blue sky. She had money in her pocket to get lunch, and the day was warm and clear. If only she could feel better about being in the city she vowed never to come back to. It was only one day though, and she had no plans to bump into Angel or any of his followers. She had briefly considered dropping in on Cordelia just to say hi, but the moment had passed. Too much water. Too much bridge. Some things were best left laying where they'd landed for a while. For a long while.

Buffy took a positive breath and looked both ways up and down the street, hoping to spy someplace nearby that she could get lunch. It was a fairly busy area. There were shops and coffee bars and people going about their business. The new gallery Joyce was currently in charge of was practically right in the middle of it all, leaving Buffy with no option but to pick left or right and hope for the best. She turned left, about to wander that way, but then stopped abruptly and changed direction. She'd learned to always follow her instincts, and they were definitely telling her right was the best way to go. The fact she could smell food that way was also a factor.

Before long Buffy found herself outside a delicatessen with a range of lunch type foods. It smelled pretty good, so she decided to go in and take a look at what was on offer.

It didn't take her long to place an order comprising of everything she liked, and pretty much everything that Dawn hated. As her order was going to take a little while to process she decided to take advantage of the time alone by taking a seat at one of the tables outside, a cool glass of coke in hand.

Buffy had never been much of a people watcher. She'd always felt too rushed; too caught up in her own little world to wonder about anybody else's. Trying it out for size, she relaxed into a brightly colored chair under the shade of an umbrella that stuck high out of the middle of the table, and sipped at her coke while trying not to judge people for wearing the wrong shoes, or for having silly hair or weird looking children.

As she was finally unwinding, a mouth full of deliciously cold coke, she spotted a waitress leaving the deli to clear tables not too far from her. Sputtering and coughing - trying to swallow her coke and not spit it out for the amusement of the few other customers - Buffy swiped at her eyes. She couldn't quite believe what she was seeing.

The waitress was Faith.

Her hair was slightly lighter and bouncier, and she looked like she weighed a little more, but the face, the walk, her dimples as she smiled; it had to be her. But it couldn't be, she was in jail. She was a psycho and not waiting tables at a quaint little deli just where Buffy happened to be picking up lunch. Surely.

Buffy studied her, every movement as she wiped at the tables and smiled cheerily at the customers. She watched the long brown hair be pulled up over a small ear as she bent to pick up something from the floor; her body moving in such a familiar way. Buffy could feel her insides twisting in knots and she wanted to throw herself across the tables and grab Faith and shake her; ask her what she thought she was doing. She wanted to get up and walk away, pretend that she'd never even seen her. She wanted to do a hundred different things, but she couldn't seem to move.

She was stuck to her chair - just looking - her hand gripping the chilled glass in front of her almost hard enough to smash it into pieces; no more than a few feet between her and Faith.

Holding her breath, feeling stupid for not knowing how she should be reacting, Buffy tried to catch Faith's eye, hoping to leave the reacting to her. When Faith eventually looked her way, her dark eyes meeting Buffy's briefly, Buffy saw no sign of recognition. There was nothing in Faith's eyes that said she knew Buffy. All she did was smile slightly, then make her way back into the deli. If it was Faith, then something strange was going on.

Buffy looked around, wondering if she could follow her and not be noticed. She knew Faith would probably run, and that would cause a scene. There was also the possibility she was going crazy and hadn't seen Faith at all, and that kept Buffy firmly seated in the plastic chair. She needed confirmation that she was still in charge of all her faculties.

Digging into her pocket, Buffy pulled out her cell phone. She flipped it open and hit speed dial, direct to Willow's dorm she shared with Tara. As soon as Willow said hello, Buffy thought twice about telling her who she'd just seen. Buffy didn't want to worry Willow in any way, but she was her only hope right now to find out what was going on.

"Hey, Will," Buffy said, as cheerily as she could. "You still know computers don't you?"

Willow chuckled and answered, "Yep, I'm pretty sure I still know what a computer is. Unless they changed them, or made them transparent to girls who like other girls."

"Funny," Buffy said sarcastically. "I meant. . .do you still know all that hacking stuff, and could you possibly, maybe find something out for me?"

Buffy crossed her fingers and kept her gaze fixed on the entrance to the deli.

"I could possibly, maybe yes," Willow replied, shuffling around on the other end of the line. "Let me just blow the cobwebs off my laptop while you tell me what's going on."

"Nothing," Buffy said sharply. "Nothing's going on, I just. . .there's just. . ."

"Ok, now I'm worried. You don't normally talk like that unless. . .well, it's something worrying," Willow pointed out. "Should I be calling Giles? I could get Riley. . .should I get Riley?"

"No, and definitely no," Buffy responded, shaking her head even though Willow couldn't see. "I just need you to tell me where Faith is. I mean. . .tell me she's in jail, all safely locked up and tied down. No, not tied down. . .don't tell me that, just let me know where she is."

Buffy tried to calm her breathing down, unsure why she was spazzing out. Maybe it was the fact Faith hadn't even flickered when she'd caught her eye. It was as if Faith didn't know who she was, or that maybe Buffy just wasn't memorable enough, or it could be magic. Magic always had a hand in it somewhere. Well, maybe not always, but in Buffy's life it often lingered around, making things happen that just shouldn't.

"So, you want me to hack into the prison records and find out where she is? We already know where she is, Buffy," Willow noted, little tapping noises emanating from her laptop.

"I know we know," Buffy assured, feeling kind of uncomfortable talking so freely about Faith and where she was. "Just let me know again. Tell me exactly where she is right now."

Willow went silent for a few moments, her fingers still tapping as she ummed and ahhed.

"You want to know where she is right this minute? I guess she could be having lunch, or maybe she's on one of those walk-around-the-yard things, or she could be in the shower. . .dropping the soap," Willow said with a chuckle, sounding far too relaxed considering it was Faith they were talking about.

"Ok, I so didn't need the image of Faith in the shower dropping the soap," Buffy groaned, trying to shake the image from her mind, finding it more difficult than perhaps she should. "I just need to know she's still there."

"Well, it was pretty tight security – which I guess makes sense `cause it's a prison – but I got in to the files," Willow told Buffy. "She's definitely still in there, safely locked behind bars and bullet proof glass."

Buffy breathed a sigh of relief, but then instantly felt uneasy again as she spotted flowing brown hair through the window of the deli as 'Faith' breezed by inside. If Faith was in prison, then how the hell was she also there. . .waiting tables in downtown LA?

"Do we know for sure?" Buffy asked, hoping she didn't sound as nuts as she was beginning to feel. Hallucinations never seemed much like fun; there was too much potential for big hairy spiders to appear.

"Yep," Willow replied, "she had a meeting with the governor just yesterday. The report's right here. . .and it says she's being the model prisoner. In a good way, not in a bad head-of-a-gang kinda way."

"Faith being good?" Buffy quipped. "Are you sure you're telling me the truth?"

"Of course I am, why wouldn't I be?" Willow asked.

"No reason, I think I'm just going insane." Buffy gulped down the last of her coke, the shock of cold giving her a pain in her temple, causing her to rub at it as she attempted to figure out what was going on.

"Are you ok?"

"Huh?" Buffy asked, realizing right away it wasn't Willow who had asked her.

It was Faith. . .or at least the very Faith-like waitress.

"I've got some Advil if you need," she said, her voice almost as husky as Faith's. Almost as chilling.

"I'll call you back, Will," Buffy said down the line, flipping the cell phone closed as she turned her attention to the waitress. "I'm fine. . .but thanks," she told her curtly, looking into her dark eyes.

The waitress placed Buffy's lunch order down on the table and looked at her with a slightly puzzled expression. Buffy looked just as puzzled back. She couldn't believe it wasn't Faith. She had the same expression, the same eyes, the same nose, lips. . .it was like looking at Faith from a whole new angle, however. It was unnerving to say the least, on many levels. Levels Buffy didn't even know existed.

"I'm sorry," Buffy said quickly when it looked like the waitress was about to move away. "I didn't mean to be rude, I just. . .I'm feeling a little weird."

"I know the feeling," the waitress answered, smiling and showing off her dimples.

Buffy's heart thudded loudly in her ears, the sound of blood making her dizzy. The fact she was looking at a girl who was the exact copy of one that had hurt her, burned her, tempted her and stomped on her, causing her to feel like she was swaying on unsteady ground. Her mind raced through all the possibilities, ranging from Faith somehow managing to escape from jail and get a job over the course of just a day, to it being some kind of clone, to the possibility she was actually conversing with a demon wearing a Faith disguise. There were no demon-tingles, however.

"I haven't seen you here before," the waitress commented, taking a seat opposite Buffy. "New or just passing through?"

Buffy blinked, trying to compose herself. She couldn't take her eyes off the girl, studying her, remembering moments she'd shared with Faith. Bad and good. It hadn't always been bad. . .they'd almost been friends at one point. They could have been good friends in fact, but life was never that simple for a slayer.

"No. . .yes," Buffy replied, shaking her head and chuckling to herself as the waitress raised an eyebrow. "I'm just here for the day, I live in Sunnydale. I'm Buffy," she told her, gauging her reaction. Hoping for some sign; some clue as to who or what the girl was.

"I'm Tru," the waitress said, smiling, offering her hand for Buffy to shake. "Tru Davies, a lifelong resident of LA."

Buffy took her hand and shook softly, a faint shudder running through her at the contact. It was just too surreal. She was so much like Faith, but apparently she wasn't.

"I might need my hand back," Tru said with a giggle. "I wouldn't be much of a waitress without it."

Buffy shook herself out of her self induced daze and slowly let go of Tru's hand, their fingers sliding from each other hesitantly.

"I'm sorry," Buffy said, feeling suitably embarrassed. "Honestly, I'm not normally this weird."

She smiled at Tru, furrowing her brow as she realised it was one of her cute flirty smiles. She made a vow to try not to smile again.

"If it's any consolation, it's kinda cute," Tru told her, her dark eyes sparkling in the sun as she openly admired Buffy.

It made Buffy blush a little, her cheeks feeling flushed but her brain feeling utterly confused. Faith had always confused her too, but Faith always seemed to go out of her way to do it, to catch Buffy out or get the upper hand with her overt sexuality or brazen charm. Tru didn't seem like she was trying to fluster Buffy for the hell of it, however. Buffy didn't know how she could tell, and she wasn't sure exactly why she wasn't feeling more uneasy or even angry.

Looking away, trying to avoid the eyes that reminded her so much of Faith, Buffy realised she should be getting back to the gallery with lunch. She didn't feel like rushing away, and she still needed to know for sure who Tru was. The similarity was too close, too exact for Tru to just be a lookalike or a fluke. If she'd been a little more attitude-y and slightly less girly there would be practically no telling her apart from Faith, and that was most definitely a reason to worry.

"Is there any chance I could get a coke to go?" Buffy asked, gazing down at her empty glass.

"Sure," Tru replied, sounding a little perplexed.

It wasn't as if Buffy hadn't noticed the fact Tru seemed to be flirting with her, she just wasn't ready to acknowledge it, despite her own flirty little smile that kept creeping out. Buffy felt weird. The situation was weird. . .and she was lost in the middle of it.

"Thanks," she called after Tru as she disappeared to get her drink.

She flipped open her cell phone again and called Willow. It rang only once before Willow was asking what was happening. She'd probably been sat by the phone, waiting for Buffy to call for backup, or weapons. It wasn't like they'd talked much about Faith in the past without the mention of pointy weapons.

"Will, calm down, everything's ok. . .or at least I hope it is," Buffy said. "I need you to check something out for me, though."

"Ok," Willow replied. "The dust is well and truly off my hacking fingers so fire away."

"Find out who Tru Davies is, and do it quick," she told Willow, glancing over to the shop entrance to make sure Tru wasn't on her way back.

"You're in luck, I'm a whiz at finding info on people," Willow assured. "And I have to say, it's nice to be asked to find info on a normal person for once instead of this demon or that demon, or whatever bad guy we're. . ."

"Will, I really do need you to do this quick," Buffy said firmly. "Just give me the basics for now, like. . .are they real, and do I need to wear protective clothing in case they break out of the fake skin and bouncy hair."

"Right, quick. I can do quick," Willow mumbled, once again tapping away at her keyboard. "I found a Tru Davies in LA, is that who you're looking for?"

"Yeah, I think, what's it say?" Buffy asked.

"Well, she's real, so no protective clothing necessary," Willow pointed out. "She has a driver's licence, went to college, is registered as an actress, 19 years old, and was. . ." she struck the keys quickly as she searched "born in Boston."

"Born in Boston?" Buffy said, furrowing her brow. "She said she'd lived here in LA all her life."

"Wait. . .there's more here. It's really well hidden and I'll have to dig deeper, but it looks like she was adopted. She was taken to LA as a baby I think," Willow explained.

Buffy tried to fit the pieces together in her head, but it was all still a blurry mess. At least she knew – or was fairly certain now – that Tru wasn't Faith in disguise, or a demon, or some kind of magical clone. Willow was an expert at finding information on the internet, and she knew a scam or false info if she came across it. Tru had to be a real person in her own right. All they had to find out now was why she was Faith's identical. . .

"One coke to go," Tru said as she placed the large coke in front of Buffy.

Her smile had faded somewhat compared to the one she'd given Buffy before she'd been so rude. Buffy couldn't blame her; there they were kind of flirting. . .then Buffy'd asked for a coke. Not the best way to impress. Not that she wanted to impress another girl. Especially one that looked like Faith.

"Thank you," Buffy said, letting her eyes fall into Tru's once again as she snapped her cell phone shut on Willow. She'd have to apologise profusely later. "Umm. . .I'm probably gonna sound even weirder than you already think I am, but hell, I'm here for just one night and not really looking forward to spending it with my spawn-of-evil little sister, so wondered if you maybe wanna – if you're not busy – show me around a little later?" Buffy said in a rush, trying to come up with some way not to lose track of Tru before they found out her possible connection to Faith.

The excuse was flimsy at best, but she really did feel the need to find out more about Tru. It wasn't everyday you bumped into an arch enemy's double.

"You're asking me to ask you out?" Tru said with a chuckle. "Never been asked on a date quite like that before." She smiled broadly, flashing her teeth as Buffy fumbled with her big bag of lunch.

Buffy hadn't quite meant it as a date. She wasn't into girls, and most definitely wasn't into dating a Faith lookalike, even if she was very pretty and had great teeth. Not that teeth were important, but it's all Buffy could seem to focus on as she gazed up at Tru. For reasons she couldn't come up with yet, Buffy didn't want to just walk away from Tru without talking to her some more. She waited for Tru to ask her out, her best flirty expression set in place.

"Ok, you've got yourself a date," Tru told her. "I'm rehearsing right after work but can pick you up around 9 if that's ok?"

"Sounds perfect," Buffy responded more confidently than she felt, as she stood to leave. "I'll give you my number and the hotel I'm staying at."

Tru handed Buffy her pad and pencil, grinning as she wrote the info down. It was almost an exact copy of Faith's grin, but not quite. It was less animalistic and more playful. Buffy saw the subtle difference and wasn't sure which she preferred. Of course, she had to remind herself that she in no way, ever, at any time liked Faith's grin to begin with, and that she in no way thought Tru's was cute. If she didn't remind herself, she'd be in danger of losing her mind completely.

"See you at 9," Tru said as she waved Buffy goodbye.

It took Buffy a few backwards steps to turn around and walk away as she was too busy just staring at Tru. Really, the similarities were incredible. . .but the subtle differences made all the difference. It wasn't Faith. Buffy could see that now. Tru was less hard around the edges; she was just as hot, but softer. Like Faith but in soft focus.

She shook her head and forced herself to walk back to the gallery without looking behind her. Buffy felt on edge, unhinged slightly. She jumped when her cell phone chirped in her pocket.

"Hey, Will," she answered. "Sorry about hanging up. . .lunch was ready, kinda."

"Nope, I don't believe you. I wanna hear it all, Missy. Tell me what's happening or I'll be forced to curse you, all magically an' stuff," Willow told her, clearly wearing her resolve face. "I found something out about that Tru person, and you're seriously not going to believe me, so what's going on? How did you meet her?"

Buffy slowed her walk so she didn't reach the gallery too soon, eager to find out what Willow was talking about and to halt the barrage of questions.

"I bumped into her while I was getting lunch," Buffy explained. "It was weird, and just got weirder. . .but before I tell you more, what is it you found out?"

She stopped outside the gallery and waited for Willow to either put her mind at ease or make it more of a minefield of confusion. She already knew Tru wasn't Faith, and that Faith was safely tucked away in prison. Tru wasn't a demon either, as there were no slayer-tingles, and demons rarely had the contacts to be able to forge an entire history for themselves. Hopefully Willow had the answers.

Willow seemed to hush her voice as she spoke, as if the information she was about to give was top secret. . .or maybe it just wigged her out. "Well, I dunno if you noticed or not – `cause I haven't seen a picture of her and don't know what she looks like – but Tru is Faith's. . ."

"Twin sister?" Buffy finished for her, suddenly realising the obvious possibility.

"Yep," Willow confirmed. "As in, separated at birth, sent across the country and never heard from again twin sister. And as far as I can tell, Faith has no idea she exists."

Buffy nodded to herself and looked back down the street towards the delicatessen. She couldn't see Tru but she kept staring anyway, the little voice in her head telling her things couldn't be that simple. There had to be more to it. Maybe Faith was in contact with Tru and had sent her to. . .take her on a date. Yeah, it definitely sounded strange.

"How sure are you?" Buffy asked.

"Pretty much completely," Willow answered. "I had to do some serious interloping to find this stuff out. I can tell you all of Tru's grades from kindergarten to college, and lemme tell ya, she's smart. I know what her parents do. I know what her shoe size is, and I even know when she had her last doctor's appointment and what for. I'm the da Vinci of hacking."

"You paint pictures on your laptop?"

"No, I'm a genius, silly," Willow corrected. "Anyway, I'm as sure as I can be that Tru is Faith's twin."

Buffy could practically hear the decisive nod on the other end of the phone.

"And I thought twins were meant to share the attributes between them," Buffy mumbled.

"Huh?"

"I thought one sister was meant to get the charm and the other the looks," she explained. "Faith and Tru are pretty much identical. Identical twins, not just twins."

"Oh," Willow responded. "Wait. . .you're saying you think Tru is charming and attractive?" She paused for a second, but continued before Buffy could cover herself or prevent the approaching comment. "So you must have thought Faith was charming and attractive. Buffy, I don't think even my brain can handle that much psychoanalysing."

"Yeah, tell me about it," Buffy agreed, feeling her own head beginning to throb. "That's not even the half of it; I'm going on a date with Tru tonight."

The response was complete silence filled with the occasional sharp intake of breath.

"Jesus, Buffy. . .we're starving to death, did you fall down a pothole and get lost?" Dawn yelled as she pushed open the door Buffy was standing beside.

She grabbed the bag of food from her hands and gave Buffy an accusing look before striding off in a huff.

"I'd better go, Will," Buffy said, hoping Willow hadn't passed out with shock. "I promise I'll call you later. I'm not even sure I'll go on the 'date' now I know who she is, but I'll let you know what happens."

Buffy flipped the phone shut and followed Dawn. She knew she'd go with Tru; she was too intrigued not to.

Intrigued didn't quite cover it, but Buffy wasn't ready to look much deeper. Faith was a whole collection of unanswerable questions in her mind and always had been. The more she'd thought about her feelings towards her, the more she'd ran screaming from her own head. It was crazy to even contemplate seeing Tru again, but Buffy couldn't resist. Maybe it was some kind of masochistic tendency filtering to the surface, making Buffy want to face her demons. Making her want to face what Faith had always instilled in her.

She couldn't hide any longer. Whatever the reason was for wanting to see Tru again, Buffy couldn't really deny it; she was drawn to her, just like she had been to Faith.

CHAPTER TWO

Buffy ran her fingers through her long blonde hair, making sure every strand was where she wanted it to be. She'd showered and spent almost twenty minutes trying to make a nice outfit out of what she'd taken to LA. Her options were few, but she knew she always looked good in jeans and halter-top. All that was left to do was ignore Dawn as she pestered her about where she was going and who with, and wait until the right moment to go downstairs to the lobby without looking too eager.

It wasn't really a date after all. It was more like investigating. Buffy had to know more about Tru and her connection to Faith. She had to be sure that Faith wasn't manipulating Tru somehow, or sending her to wreak havoc on her life the way Faith had done herself.

"Buffy, I need the bathroom, will you get out of there already?" Dawn yelled through the door.

"I'm not done, go use mom's next door," Buffy responded, wishing she knew all the magic stuff Willow did so she could make Dawn disappear.

She'd told her mom and sister that she was meeting with Cordelia. Joyce didn't question her, but Dawn was full of pestering and whining about wanting to go. Buffy was grateful to be getting away from her for a few hours, even if she was a little sceptical about her own reasons.

But it wasn't a date. Most definitely not. Buffy didn't date girls.

When she heard Dawn slam the door to their room as she made her way next door, Buffy left the bathroom to check herself in the full length mirror. Smoothing her hands over her backside and making an approving noise, she kept repeating to herself that she was only going with Tru to get information. The beeping of her cell phone halted the mantra.

"Hey, Will," Buffy said as she answered. "Sorry about earlier, didn't mean to cut you off so quick."

"Never mind that," Willow said excitedly. "I want to know how you went from meeting Faith's sister in some freaky fluke kinda thing, to going out on a date with her. That's pretty quick work."

"It's not a date exactly," Buffy assured, checking the light application of makeup she'd spent way too much time on. "It's just. . .being inquisitive. I'm an inquisitive kinda gal and I need my fix for the week."

"So read the Enquirer, Buffy," Willow said with a nervous chuckle. "It would be less stress on your friends, meaning me. . .the one who's stressing."

Buffy picked her purse up from her bed and checked her watch. It was 9 o'clock already and time to make her way downstairs.

"There's no need to stress," Buffy said. "This is just part of the slaying job. I have to make sure she's not all evil and planning to get revenge for Faith or something."

"Revenge by dating? Seriously, Buffy. . .you need to get out more," Willow told her, sounding more highly strung by the second. "Faith knows nothing about Tru. I checked and checked, and did some more checking, and they don't know each other. So basically, you're going out on a date with a girl who's probably gonna expect you to like her like that, and probably hopes to get in some smoochies before the night's through. And yunno, it's Faith's sister, so who knows what she's expecting. I don't think you're prepared for that."

Willow's voice trailed off as Buffy made her way towards the elevator. She stood in front of the shiny reflective doors, her image warped like a comical mirror, the reality of what she was just about to do hitting her head on. She was going out with Tru to sate her curiosity, and possibly because she was a little nuts, but for Tru it was a date. She'd expect date-like happenings. She'd expect Buffy to expect her to. . .Buffy held her breath as the elevator doors whooshed open and invited her in. Now was not a good time to freak out, but freaking out was definitely on the agenda.

"Oh God," Buffy said into her cell phone. "I'm going on a date with a girl."

"That's what I just said," Willow stated. "And as much as I like the girly-loving myself, it's a little weird knowing you're going on a date with not only a girl, but a very Faith-like girl."

"But it's not Faith, and like you said. . .she knows nothing about her, right?" Buffy muttered as she stepped slowly into the elevator, smiling softly at the old couple already on their way down to the lobby.

"Nothing at all," Willow reassured. "Which means you've got the whole evening with her to talk about anything but Faith, and to find a way to avoid wandering hands and possible smoochies."

"Oh crap, I didn't plan on being a lesbian tonight. I don't even know if I'm dressed right. What if I'm really bad at it and she guesses, and then goes all 'Faith' on me and starts making me all uncomfortable with innuendoes I don't get `cause I don't have the gayness?" Buffy said in a small panicked voice.

A soft cough beside her reminded her she wasn't alone and Buffy blushed suitably as she smiled apologetically. The old couple shuffled a little further away, and pretended not to notice.

"I'm sure you'll be ok, Buffy," Willow told her, obviously trying to halt the panic. "Just be yourself and. . .no wait, don't be yourself `cause then she'll get all attached and wanna see you again and that's probably not of the good, unless you're planning on changing teams and having some kinda creepy pseudo-relationship with Faith by being with Tru."

"Huh?" Buffy responded as the doors opened to allow more passengers on as they made their way down to ground level. "Sumo-relationship? I didn't think I'd put on that much weight. I mean, I know I've kinda been comfort eating lately but. . ."

"Pseudo, not sumo," Willow corrected. "Being with Tru would almost be like being with Faith, but not. Not that it's wrong if you like girls, but it's just a little sudden, and I didn't even know you liked Faith like that."

Buffy used her free hand to rub at her brow as she tried to process the conversation. The old couple were glancing at her and muttering under their breaths, and the man now in front of her was taking up far too much space as he did his best to attempt the pretending-not-to-listen pose.

"I don't like Faith. I don't like girls," Buffy whispered into the phone, her voice a little higher than usual. "I'm just. . .this is just. . ."

"Weirder than a whole crate of weird things at Wacky's wonderful house of weirdness?" Willow interjected.

"Ok, so it's new and I don't exactly know what I'm doing right now," Buffy confessed, "but I couldn't just walk away. I don't know why, but I couldn't. Maybe it is about Faith. Maybe I need to go on one of those retreats Giles is always blabbing on about. Whatever it is. . .I'm sure I'll get over it by the end of the night so I can come home and put Faith behind me once and for all."

As Buffy said the final words the doors slid open and revealed the slight bustle of the lobby. The low light of the reception area and lounge created a pleasant mood, hushed tones of gentle music filtering through speakers littered around the walls in amongst the dιcor. Buffy quickly scanned the area ahead as she stepped out onto the dark red carpet. She watched as Tru moved towards her from behind a portly man in an ill-fitting suit. Her hair was flowing richly over her shoulders, every step causing the slight curls to bounce, her eyes resting gently on Buffy as telling dimples sneaked across her cheeks.

Buffy felt her stomach tighten into a knot. "God she's beautiful," Buffy murmured to herself.

"What?" Willow asked.

"Huh? Oh nothing, just. . .thinking out loud I guess, anyway I have to go so I'll talk to you tomorrow," Buffy told Willow, hastily ending the call before she could be questioned.

Tru strolled to a halt in front of Buffy, an amused look on her face as she greeted her with a husky hello.

"You're on that a lot," Tru pointed out with a chuckle, gesturing to the phone Buffy was busy tucking into her purse. "Over-eager girlfriend or boyfriend?" she asked.

"No," Buffy replied, almost too quickly, "just a friend."

"Good, `cause I don't wanna be stepping on any toes." Tru brushed her hand through her hair as they began walking towards the exit.

"Nope, no toes. Well obviously I have toes, but there's no boyfriend. . .or girlfriend," she added quietly, feeling her cheeks flush slightly at even the possibility.

She also felt a little ashamed at just remembering she hadn't spoken to Riley since the day before. Buffy couldn't think of Riley right then. Not when she had 'work' to do. Plus, she knew he was going to be upset and she didn't want to linger on the reason she wasn't particularly bothered.

"So, I thought we could grab something to eat if you haven't already," Tru suggested as Buffy tried to avoid glancing in her direction for too long, worried she would bump into something and make a fool of herself.

"I didn't have dinner just in case," Buffy confessed, "so that's cool."

Her eyes wandered to Tru's denim encased backside as a large family pulling luggage behind them forced Buffy to drop back. She couldn't help but look and she didn't know why. It had been the same with Faith; something about her that made Buffy feel off center, a compulsion that could possibly be construed as being 'kind of gay'. She knew she wasn't gay, though. The idea alone was silly. Her thoughts and fantasies had only ever been filled with men. . .and only sometimes Faith. Buffy refused to accept the possibility she was attracted to either girl, even though she had to admit the odd stray thought.

"You like Italian?" Tru asked as she stepped aside for Buffy to enter the small space in the revolving door.

"They're the ones that do pizza, right?" Buffy asked, brushing up against Tru as they shuffled forwards inside the confines of the slow moving door.

Tru chuckled and nodded, and Buffy didn't instantly feel like leaping away from her or the point of contact between them.

"I know this great little place close to here that's run by a family friend. It's not fancy but the food is great," Tru enthused, gesturing in almost the same passionate way Faith did as they stepped out onto the sidewalk.

"Sounds good," Buffy responded, finding herself smiling openly at Tru as she relaxed.

It may not have been a date, but that didn't mean she had to be grumpy or defensive. Buffy couldn't help but instantly feel at ease with the other girl. It surprised her considering her past with Tru's identical twin. She'd been ready to feel at least some animosity or niggling itchiness, but she didn't feel either. And unlike with Faith, Buffy didn't feel quite so threatened by Tru. Not in a fighting sense – Buffy had never felt less than able to take on Faith when it came to fighting – but in another way. A way she had kept hidden inside.

Buffy tried not to think too much about it as they walked towards their destination. Tru asked Buffy what she did in Sunnydale, genuinely seeming interested in her college courses and life in general. The sensation of being made to feel interesting for something other than her slaying temporarily made Buffy forget to enquire about Tru, and her plan to expose her possible collaboration with Faith. She was soaking up the attention as Tru listened to her, gentle eyes leaving Buffy feeling ever more drawn towards her.

They entered the small restaurant and were ushered to a table near the window. Buffy tried to ask herself what she was really doing there; it was one thing trying to convince Willow there was only one reason, but quite another trying to convince herself of the same. The pieces of the puzzle seemed to fit only one way, but she was forcing them apart and jamming them together in ways that left her irritated and confused. It was like revisiting the past, when Faith had swept into her life and reeled out the charm and the dimpled smile that always had Buffy looking away for fear of being caught gazing.

The waiter interrupted Buffy's inner ramblings, asking them what they wanted from the menu he'd handed them.

"What would the beautiful companion of our beloved Tru wish to try tonight?" he asked, his haughty moustache jiggling on his lip.

Buffy beamed under the compliment as Tru smiled on in apparent agreement with his statement.

"Pizza would be good," Buffy responded, trying to figure out what all the Italian sounding dishes were as she glanced over the menu.

"They do great pizza," Tru assured, ordering one she told Buffy she'd love.

She also ordered wine, and though Buffy wasn't a big drinker she didn't object. Something to calm her nerves would probably help, then she could get on with the job at hand of exposing Tru. . .though not in a naked way, obviously.

Trying not to think about any kind of nakedness, Buffy looked around the restaurant. It wasn't very busy, but the place looked suitably Italian and atmospheric. Small candles lit every table, the light flickering off the paintings on the walls. Rhythmic music mingled with the clattering cutlery and hushed conversations. It was kind of a romantic setting, and not one she could ever see Faith taking her to. Not that she'd want Faith taking her anywhere, but the striking difference between the two girls was hard to ignore. Tru was the same age as Faith yet she seemed more mature, more stable.

"So," Buffy began, trying to get back on track, "you said you were rehearsing earlier; is it for a film?"

"No, a play. . .haven't quite broken into the whole film thing yet," Tru answered. "Gotta get my feet wet first before I dive into movies; the auditions can be hell."

"You must be pretty good though, if you're in a play," Buffy remarked, wondering if maybe Tru was only acting 'nice' in order to snare her in some way, though in what way exactly Buffy wasn't sure yet.

"It's only my second lead role, but it's showing at a pretty big theatre so I guess I must be doing something right," Tru said almost shyly, her big brown eyes sparkling at Buffy in the candlelight.

They talked some more about the play and Tru's role, her enthusiasm for acting captivating Buffy. The pizzas came and went, and the second bottle of wine soon began to be emptied. Buffy had asked all the questions she could without coming off as some kind of stalker, and so far nothing really indicated that Tru was in any way out to 'get her' for Faith. It seemed clear Tru didn't know of Faith at all, given the fact she hadn't mentioned her when Buffy had asked about her family. Still, she had to be wary; it was in her nature to be wary, and Faith had never so easily backed down or accepted her fate without a fight.

"If you wanna go somewhere more lively there's a club not far from here that has bands and stuff," Tru said, finishing off the remains of the wine.

Buffy smiled over her glass, swimming in the slight buzz from the alcohol and atmosphere. She couldn't help but feel like she was enjoying herself. Sure, she felt edgy when she dwelled on the reasons for being there, but she felt comfortable in Tru's company. The two opposites made uneasy partners so Buffy decided to shut her brain up for once so she could just enjoy being out somewhere new, away from everyday worries.

Tru was nice, she was sweet, she made Buffy giggle in a way she hadn't done since. . .well, since before all the bad stuff with Faith. Maybe it was the wine, but Buffy felt like letting go. She nodded eagerly and agreed they should move on to somewhere a little more upbeat. Thoughts about whether or not it was a date she was on flew out of her head at the prospect of getting to have some fun, without worrying about her friends or her boyfriend for once.

They paid the bill after Buffy insisted they split the cost, and then made their way out into the warm night. Buffy could feel the cosy hum of alcohol seeping into her bloodstream, its slow pull wrapping around her. The slight breeze prickled at Buffy's skin as she walked close to Tru, her arm occasionally brushing against the other girl in a way that didn't feel as strange as it probably should. It was no longer an investigation, but beyond that Buffy didn't dare to look. If she looked she was afraid she might leap anyway.

That's how it had been with Faith: being aware that following her was the wrong choice, but doing it anyway because she couldn't help herself. Buffy had been lucky enough to pull herself out of Faith's snare when it all got too much, but if the fateful night that had changed their path hadn't happened, Buffy wasn't sure where she'd be. Maybe she would have come to terms with the way Faith made her feel, or maybe they'd just been destined to turn against each other. She didn't know. She wasn't as sure about anything from her past right now.

As they approached the bustle of the club doors Buffy couldn't help but notice that most of the line was composed of girls. She looked towards Tru and received one of her achingly warm smiles, her dimples defining her face, full lips telling Buffy not to worry, and that they'll get in without having to wait.

Tru obviously saw Buffy's slight panic as an indication that she wasn't happy about the prospect of waiting in line. That wasn't what was worrying her, however.

"I know the bouncer, she's kinda sweet on me so we'll get right in," Tru explained, sharing a trait with Faith at being able to charm her way into anything.

Buffy nodded and moved closer to Tru as they neared the queue. They got in without too much fuss, the bouncer spotting Tru right away and waving them inside. They were greeted by warm hellos from girls that were obviously known to Tru. Buffy guessed it must have been her local hangout spot. Kind of like the Bronze was for the Scoobs but far more. . .rainbow orientated. She felt compelled to stay as close to Tru as she could as they rounded a dark corridor into the heart of the club.

The music vibrated through Buffy as people brushed past them to filter onto the dance floor. There was a small stage in front of it occupied by a band thudding away on their guitars. The music was loud but melodic, and much more upbeat than what Buffy was used to at the Bronze. Though the room was small it held a few tables and stools closer to the bar; they mostly looked taken but Tru began to lead them that way.

Without thinking, Buffy reached out and slipped her arm through Tru's as they stepped this way and that through the groups of chatting and dancing girls. Buffy wasn't sure why she felt the need to suddenly cling to her, but it could have been the fact she felt somewhat out of her depth in such a place. It wasn't everyday she got taken to a lesbian bar after all. Tru didn't object, in fact she moved her hand down and took Buffy's within it, holding her lightly as she cleared a path towards an empty table near the back.

Still gripping onto Tru as they shuffled around the table to the stools, Buffy took the opportunity to just look at her. She was wearing blue jeans that fit her backside perfectly, and a cute white blouse that showed just enough cleavage to look sexy, but not as much as a certain other brunette would flaunt. Tru was pretty stunning, yet in a different way to Faith. And as she realised that, Buffy also realised she had indeed thought of Faith as stunning. The thoughts had been there, the stirring feeling within her that told her she liked her. . .and not in a simple way that meant she didn't have to hide the truth from herself.

It seemed obvious now. The reason it hurt so much. The reason Faith's betrayal had cut so deep.

Buffy let go of Tru's hand as they sat themselves down to claim their seats. She felt a bit shaky, like the floor had been whipped from under her feet and left her spinning on the spot. All the time she'd taken to stop herself from facing the truth, melting away to nothing under Tru's touch. As she looked out towards the dance floor, seeing girls with their arms around each other, kissing, having fun, being with the people they wanted to be with, it dawned on her that she'd missed that opportunity. It surprised her to admit that she'd wanted that opportunity. Buffy had never allowed herself to let the knowledge slip into the mainstream of her brain, but now there was no stopping it.

"What do you want to drink?" Tru asked, leaning in close to Buffy's ear so she could hear her.

A shudder ran through Buffy as Tru's dark brown hair tickled over her bare shoulder. She tried to ignore how it made her feel, how Tru being so close she could smell her skin made her feel. It was pointless now. The cat was out of the bag. The idea was out there and Buffy couldn't shove it back into place.

"Anything," Buffy answered, finding a sudden squeak to her voice.

Tru raised her eyebrows, so like Faith, so complicatedly confusing for Buffy. She felt like she should get up and go, run from what Faith had stirred in her and what Tru was stirring again. There was a warmth about Tru that stopped her running, however. Whereas Faith had made her feel too scared to face what she felt, Tru was inspiring her to face it head on. There would be no running, not this time. She'd come far enough to just about accept there had been more to her feelings for Faith than mere friendship before it had all turned sour, so she couldn't back down now. Buffy didn't want to think of herself as a coward.

"Anything not too strong," Buffy elaborated, moving just a little closer so she didn't have to yell.

She could feel the warmth of Tru's skin against hers and it far from made her feel scared. She was unsure, nervous about what it meant, but not scared. Maybe two years, or even one year beforehand, the fear would have been there, but she'd been through enough, seen enough, lived and died enough to know that fear got you nowhere. It certainly didn't get you happiness. She couldn't stop herself from looking at Tru with new eyes. Eyes that saw her beauty and saw her appeal, saw that she was the reason she was feeling flushed and excited.

"Cocktails are always a good choice. I'll bring you back a surprise," Tru said as she dismounted from her stool and gave Buffy a wink.

Buffy watched her leave, not taking her eyes from her for a second. She definitely liked Tru for who she was, but she couldn't silence the small voice inside her that was telling her how much she wished it was Faith; that it was Faith being so sweet, gentle, and easy to be around. It wasn't though, and Faith had torn through any hope they could one day get over the past.

She glanced back to the dance floor, watching the throng jump and sway to the music. The band were lifting the atmosphere as their performance grew ever louder. It looked like fun out there and she wondered if Tru would be interested in dancing once they'd finished their drinks. Dancing with Faith had always been fun. They'd been close then, letting the music take them. Letting themselves be swept up in each other. The sensation never lasted long, and when the music died Buffy would retreat from the obvious signs being given to her.

"Hi," a voice filtered through the thumping music. "Yunno, you're pretty damn hot and I noticed you sat here by yourself, you wanna dance? Maybe get a drink?"

Buffy turned towards the girl speaking to her. She was a pretty girl with short dark hair; her blue eyes looking hopeful as she smiled toothily at Buffy. At first she didn't know how to react. It wasn't as if she had much experience with girls coming onto her, except for Faith's flirting, and now Tru's.

"Don't think a girl like you should be sat alone," the girl continued, leaning towards Buffy, offering to be her saviour from loneliness.

Buffy felt far from alone, however. In fact she almost felt like she was out with both Tru and Faith, which was creepy and something she didn't want to dwell on.

"I'm not alone," Buffy assured, glancing back towards Tru who was busy paying for their drinks. "I'm with my girlfriend."

Turning back, Buffy fought the flush to her cheeks that threatened to expose her little lie. She wasn't embarrassed about the lie; it was just a funny feeling calling Tru her girlfriend.

"I'm sure she's sweet, but I could show you a good time," the girl continued, persisting in her advances. "My name's Alice."

She thrust her hand out towards Buffy so she could shake it. Buffy was beginning to feel a little irritated now and just wanted her to leave so she could continue coming to terms with what was going through her head concerning both Tru and Faith.

"And my girlfriend's name is Tru," Buffy said with a fixed smile, shaking the offered hand firmly as she made it clear she was taken.

Alice nodded in defeat and turned to leave, looking a little more deflated than when she'd arrived. Buffy soon lost sight of her in the crowd and sighed with relief. Almost instantly she felt Tru slide up beside her, nudging her with her shoulder as she placed the drinks down on the table.

"Hey, girlfriend," Tru said with a smirk.

Buffy knew right away she'd been heard during the quiet break between songs.

"I'm sorry," Buffy said coyly, "she was hitting on me and. . .well, I'm here with you so I didn't wanna. . ."

"It's cool, I woulda done the same," Tru told her with another soft nudge. "It's kinda flattering actually."

Buffy turned more towards Tru on her stool, taking the drink before her in her hand and playing with the small umbrella sticking proudly out of the garish red of the liquid within. She took a sip not knowing what the drink was, but not particularly caring; all that mattered was that she'd caused Tru to move closer to her and smile her striking smile. As much as it made Buffy's stomach do little nervous flips, it was also flipping for whole other reasons she was only just getting to grips with.

"Well, it's kinda flattering being here with you. . .on a date," Buffy told her, leaning to speak in her ear now the music had started bursting through the speakers once again.

She lingered close to Tru a little longer than necessary, just feeling her heat, catching the hint of her scent. She didn't smell like Faith, but she still smelled good. Buffy almost felt like some kind of pervert for wanting to stay as close as she could, but then she realised that's what it was normally like when you liked somebody; when you're attracted to them.

Buffy had to take a steadying breath to stop herself from panicking about being attracted to another girl. When it had happened with Faith she'd firmly planted herself in the land of denial and ignored it, but it wasn't much fun there and she was tired of pretending she hadn't felt that way; the way she now also felt for Tru. Yep, it was clear to her. . .she was a raging homo when it came to this particular model of sexy brunette. The weakness ran deep, her mind trying to catch up with her body. Fortunately Tru didn't seem to feel the need to pull away too soon either, as she practically brushed her lips over Buffy's ear, her husky voice breaking through the noise around them.

"You like your drink? It's a strawberry Daiquiri," Tru pointed out. "You look like a strawberry kinda girl."

Buffy felt a delicate whisper of Tru's lips against her ear and closed her eyes, doing her best to keep in control of her faculties. It was a little hard when Tru was stripping away her inhibitions and her resolve.

"How do I look like a strawberry kind of girl?" Buffy asked, intrigued as she sipped more of the fruity drink.

"'Cause you're all kindsa sweet and. . ." Tru grinned a little slyly but looked somewhat shy as she glanced away from Buffy's gaze. "I'd better not finish that sentence; I don't wanna freak you out or make a huge fool of myself if you're not interested."

Tru took a long drink of her cocktail, eventually looking back in to Buffy's eyes. The thing was, Buffy was interested. More than she should have been considering it was Faith's identical twin she was interested in. It was silly to lie, however. Silly and also repetitive. Buffy had done enough avoiding in the past, and she'd been feeling the need to break out of old habits, stretch herself from the limits she'd imposed, grab onto life and live it rather than just exist.

Buffy accepted the enticing buzz of alcohol running through her veins, her mind letting go of some of her fears.

"I am interested," Buffy said quietly, feeling butterflies tumbling in her stomach, hoping Tru could hear her over the music so she didn't have to repeat herself. "Tell me what you were going to say."

Tru licked her full lips and placed her drink down on the table. She moved her face closer to Buffy's, her mouth close to her cheek as she spoke so only Buffy could hear.

"You look sweet and good enough to eat," she said slowly and huskily, sending a jolt of excitement through Buffy. "And when I bite into a strawberry I like the juice to spill over my bottom lip and down my chin."

Tru's hot breath blowing over Buffy, the soft scent of her, the closeness. . .it almost had Buffy turning to kiss her. But she didn't, and she shocked herself a little with how powerful her reaction was. It didn't sober her, but it was clear that she wasn't ready for that. Tru's words had definitely piqued her curiosity and charged her body up in a way nobody had done since being close to Faith, but this was still uncharted territory. Buffy was still all kinds of unsteady and unsure.

She leaned back away from Tru, making sure not to make it seem like she was at all disturbed by the thought of being intimate with her. Keeping her eyes locked on Tru's, feeling herself practically drowning in their dark brown depths and warmth, Buffy smiled enticingly as she placed her straw between her lips and sucked up the rest of her drink. She was hot and needed to cool down.

Tru obviously didn't take the lack of kissing or comment as a rebuff; her cute grin letting Buffy know she wasn't about to get mad if she wasn't ready to jump her right then and there. Buffy wasn't sure how she could tell Tru would be the kind of girl to give her time to ease into what she wanted; she just sensed it. It made her feel comfortable yet almost giddy at the prospect of slowly wading into the sea of sensation awaiting her. The thought train carrying images of new intimacy and sensual touches rumbled through Buffy's mind, and it wasn't unpleasant. It was far from unpleasant.

As they both finished off their drinks they shared little smiles and glances that said more than either of them probably realised. Buffy felt excitement snaking its way around her; the idea of stepping into the unknown, taking the risk she hadn't dared to before, causing her to release herself into the sensation.

When Tru emptied her glass she stepped down from her stool and stood in front of Buffy, offering her hand as she asked if she wanted to dance. Buffy nodded enthusiastically and took Tru's hand. She followed her out onto the dance floor, enjoying the soft, warm hand in hers. She felt a little nervous, but the energy of those around them and the cocktail she'd just finished off helped to persuade her body to step into the music.

They danced for the rest of the night, only stopping to quench their thirsts or visit the bathroom. Buffy couldn't recall when she'd had so much fun without worrying what other people thought, or how she was going to be able to slay the bad guys on slightly unsteady legs. With Tru twirling her and spinning her, making her feel high on life, Buffy couldn't think about consequences or worry about what it all meant. She was enjoying being with Tru. She liked feeling the occasional brush of her body against her, the light grip of her hand when she spun her, the whispering tickle of her hair when she'd lean in to speak in her ear. Buffy didn't want the night to end.

It wasn't like being with Faith, and certainly nothing like dancing with her. With Faith it had always been charged with an underlying tension that made each touch and look mean more than Buffy was prepared to understand. It was prickly and charged, full of something unresolved and a little scary. Buffy didn't feel that with Tru; it was different and welcoming instead of feeling dangerous and consuming.

When it got late enough for Buffy to start thinking about heading back to the hotel, she felt sad that she'd be leaving in the morning. She also felt worried that maybe Tru didn't feel the same, but that was just an irrational and unfounded idea; Tru seemed far from eager to leave Buffy's side.

They eventually strolled into the hotel lobby, their clothes a little sticky from the heat of the club, their giggles not quite befitting the austere atmosphere.

"Thanks for walking me home, well. . .not home, but here," Buffy said with a little hiccup.

"No problem, Buffy. Couldn't have you losing your way," Tru responded as they entered the elevator, "I planned on seeing you again but not on the back of a milk carton."

Buffy chuckled at the thought but then realised it probably wasn't a chuckling matter. She was glad Tru had taken the time to walk her to the hotel, but now she was worried about Tru getting home herself.

"Oh God, I don't want that either. . .seeing you on a milk carton I mean," Buffy pointed out. "Of course I want to see you again, but not with breakfast. Unless yunno, it was because you were with me after we. . .yunno. . .not that we're going to but. . ."

Buffy tripped over her words, unable to fully deal with the thought of taking the dating thing with Tru a few steps further. It wasn't that it turned her off. . .it was quite the opposite, and that wasn't so easy to keep calm about.

Tru stopped Buffy's ramble by placing her hand on her shoulder. "I get what you mean," she said, trying to hold in a giggle but failing. "And I'd definitely like to. . .though obviously not here, with your sister in the same room."

Buffy's eyes went wide at the horrific thought and Tru just kept on laughing. Her giggles were infectious and they both stumbled out of the elevator, clinging to each as they tried to calm themselves.

As they made their way towards Buffy's room she felt like slowing down. She didn't want it to be over already. The night had been too much fun. She felt relaxed and at ease, the tension she'd been feeling lately lifting from her shoulders in Tru's company.

"I've had a really nice night," Buffy said as she stopped near her door and turned towards Tru.

"Me too," Tru replied. "And I really would like to see you again, if you'd want to."

Buffy watched as Tru glanced down at her feet, the shy act so different from how she'd imagine Faith being in the same situation. Her face, her body, the way she held Buffy's gaze with her eyes. . .it was all the same, but there were big differences in the way she was with Buffy.

"I want to," Buffy confirmed, not thinking about the implications or the possible complications. "Lemme get your number," she added, taking out her cell phone from her purse.

Tru gave Buffy her number and Buffy promised to call. She knew she would. She knew she wouldn't be able to stop herself, no matter how much she tried to talk herself out of it once she was sober and back at home. Back at home where her boyfriend was, and her friends that would think she was crazy. None of that mattered when she looked back up into deep dark eyes that were practically stripping her naked. She guessed it was the part of the night that they either kissed, or said goodbye awkwardly.

"Be careful on the way home," Buffy said softly, the buzz from the alcohol retreating to leave her feeling exposed.

"I will. I only live two blocks down so I'll be ok," Tru assured.

She glanced towards the shiny elevator doors, then back to Buffy. It seemed like she wanted to end the night in the traditional way, but something was stopping her. Buffy supposed it was probably because she hadn't made a move forwards, to show it was ok. There was too much distance between them. Buffy didn't want the night to end awkwardly so she stepped closer, her mind flashed a big red warning sign but she ignored it and leaned forwards to kiss Tru on the cheek.

Buffy felt Tru smile and her lips lingered on her soft skin over an adorable dimple. She didn't move away when a hand slid up her arm to her shoulder, and Tru turned her head so their lips were almost touching.

There was a pounding in Buffy's ear, her heart racing ahead of her as she allowed Tru to lean in and kiss her softly. Buffy didn't resist, closing her eyes as she let herself sink in to the sensation of the sensual caress. Her hands moved instinctively to Tru's hips, her mouth moving slowly against the kiss that was quickly heating her up. Tru nudged her lips open with her kisses and Buffy complied, tasting more, feeling more. A quiet moan broke the silence as she felt Tru's tongue flick over her own. She hadn't meant to moan. She hadn't even meant to go as far as actually embarking on the whole smooching thing.

It wasn't as if she could stop now, however. She was enjoying it too much. Her mind wandered to thoughts of Faith, to thoughts of Faith's lips and tongue as Tru kissed her deeper. Another soft moan, but this time from Tru, as Buffy pressed up against her, the heat between them growing. Buffy took Tru's tongue into her mouth, slowly sliding over it with her own as she gave in to what she so obviously wanted.

The booze and the dancing, the fun and the laughter, motivated Buffy to want more, her body beginning to prickle and burn. She wanted her hands to explore and her skin to feel. She had a vision of pushing Tru up against the wall behind her, kissing her soft and deep, hard and long until she was moaning her name. Until she was gasping and clinging to Buffy with need. But when the vision shifted and replaced Tru with Faith, Buffy leaned back.

Trying to catch her breath she looked up at Tru, noticing that she seemed as flushed as Buffy felt. They didn't speak; obvious lust tainting the atmosphere and stripping away the confidence to communicate beyond looks and touches. Her hands were still on Tru's hips as Tru licked her lips and stole Buffy's fears with her eyes. Without waiting for any warning signs this time, Buffy threw prudence out of the window and closed the distance once again, kissing Tru fully; their mouths open and hungry, stifled sighs breaking into the quiet of the corridor. Buffy became lost in the grip of quickening hearts and embracing arms, fighting not to think about Faith as she tasted the swell of Tru's lips and enjoyed the dance of their tongues together.

Buffy didn't think she'd ever lost herself to a kiss in quite the same way before. It was like she couldn't get enough. There was so much to feel, so much to like. They nipped and sucked, and pushed close, squeezing out the air between them. Tru's hands swept over Buffy's back and she sighed into her mouth, the wonder of having Tru's breasts pressing into her own making her dizzy with new sensations. She was getting incredibly turned on; unable to find sense in the haze of desire causing her to want to devour Tru.

As it became clear they should either part or find somewhere more private to be, Buffy pulled her lips from Tru's, kissing over her dimple, resting against her as they stole breaths from the heated air.

"Wow," Buffy said, trying to compose herself as she rubbed their noses together, just basking in being so close.

"I'm gonna have to agree," Tru said with a little chuckle before placing another quick kiss on Buffy's lips.

Buffy wanted to untangle herself from Tru but she didn't seem to be able to move. She was soft and inviting, her scent filing Buffy's nostrils and making her dizzy. It was new and exciting, and most definitely something she could get used to. It was too soon to jump into something intimate, however. For one thing it wasn't as if Buffy was single, and for another it wasn't as if Buffy had any clue what she would do. The idea of being somewhere alone with Tru for more kissing and whatever followed undeniably had Buffy's stomach quivering in anticipation, but it wouldn't be now.

"I don't wanna seem like a tease," Buffy said slowly, forcing herself not to brush her lips over Tru's once again, "but I should go in. I'm sorry."

Tru nudged at Buffy's nose with her own - her lips so close and so tempting - as she nodded and released her hold. Almost instantly Buffy felt colder, the heat between them dissipating as they reluctantly parted.

"No need to be sorry, Buffy. I wouldn't expect you to leap into bed with me," Tru responded, smiling gently. "We only just met."

"I know, and I'm really not usually so ready for the smooching and the almost groping, but I guess it kinda feels like I've known you longer," Buffy confessed, unable to wipe Faith from her mind. "But I really should go in because you just standing there is making me want to. . ."

Buffy looked Tru up and down, thinking of all the possibilities despite her complete lack of experience.

"Ok, you looking at me like that isn't helping me leave," Tru laughed.

"I'm sorry," Buffy said coyly, looking up through her eyelashes as Tru swept a calming hand through her dark hair. "I guess I drank a little too much, and maybe got hit on the head, but mostly I think it's `cause you're gorgeous and hot and making me think about joining the gay parade."

"You're crazy," Tru said, laughing openly, her smile lighting up the dim corridor, "but you're also adorable and I'm so gonna have to insist we go out again soon."

Buffy couldn't help but reply to Tru's smile with one of her own, as she nodded and agreed. "I think that's a definite yes to the seeing each other again."

They went quiet again as Buffy picked up her dropped purse and fished out the card to her room. She gave Tru one last look over before turning to open her door.

"Night then," Buffy said quietly now the door was open. "I'll call you," she added, glancing back before entering the dark of the room.

Tru smiled and waved goodnight and turned towards the elevator. Buffy couldn't help but watch as she walked away, taking time to note the soft swagger that reminded her of Faith. It wasn't Faith she was looking forward to seeing again, however. It was Tru. No matter the similarities, it was Tru who'd made her night feel like a fresh start; like a new chapter that would lead to something she'd never quite had before.

Closing the door and leaning against it, Buffy bit her lower lip and grinned to herself. She felt alive, despite how complicated her life had now just become.

CHAPTER THREE

Quietly making her way into the bathroom, Buffy tried her best not to wake Dawn. The last thing she needed was her sister asking questions. She didn't plan on telling her anything about her night or who she'd been with; there would be much freaking out if she did. Buffy realised she should be doing quite a bit of freaking out herself, but deep down she knew it wasn't so surreal. Still, it did warrant a little time to stare at herself in the mirror and wonder how she'd leapt headlong into Tru's arms so easily.

"I kissed a girl," she said quietly to herself as she stared at her reflection in the bathroom mirror. "I kissed Tru. I kissed Tru and thought of Faith."

Despite not needing to run around wigging about her new experience, the fact she'd let Faith filter into her mind - and learned some truths about her past feelings for her - did make her need to sit down.

She slumped onto the side of the bath, her thoughts drifting from Tru to Faith and back again. It wasn't as if she'd enjoyed the night because of anything to do with Faith; that was all Tru. There was room to believe she'd so readily kissed her because of the other slayer, however. Her walls suddenly dropping for Faith, for how she'd always affected her, and allowing Tru to step inside in her place. Why now? Buffy wasn't certain. She'd felt like her life was on the road to nowhere; stuck in the same place with the same responsibilities, the same relationship that just didn't feel right. A change is what she'd wanted. . .and suddenly finding herself accepting what she'd felt for Faith, and embarking on something – though she wasn't sure what yet – with Tru was definitely a change.

Buffy washed up for the night, periodically touching her lips and smiling before tumbling into bed. Tomorrow was going to be a long day, not only because she'd be travelling home, but also because she had a lot of thinking to do. The last thing she wanted to do was lie to Riley. She had to do something about her failing relationship with him, hopefully without hurting him.

When Buffy woke the next morning with Dawn singing and dancing around the room in her pyjamas - hairbrush firmly in hand – she winced and put a hand to her brow. Slayer healing didn't help hangovers and Buffy had the makings of one lingering around her head. She needed painkillers, stat.

"Dawn, can you please shut up?" Buffy whined as her sister did her best impression of Madonna in bright pink pyjamas.

"Nope, it's not my fault you're a big baby," Dawn squeaked as she bounced up onto her own bed and started jumping. "Shouldn't have drank. Mom'll be pissed."

Buffy threw her covers back and attempted to untangle her feet. She glared at Dawn but it wasn't working; Dawn carried on bouncing and singing.

"So," Dawn began, thudding down onto her backside on the edge of her bed, opposite Buffy, "are you gay now?"

Buffy blinked and stared at her sister, her mouth opening but no words coming out. She had no clue why Dawn suddenly felt the need to ask her if she was gay.

Dawn shuffled until she was comfily sat in her interrogation position on the mess of sheets on her bed. "'Cause I saw you kissing that girl through the peephole thing in the door."

"What?" Buffy managed to yell. "You were spying on me?"

"Well duh, but I couldn't really see much, the peep thing made everything kinda swirly. I could see it wasn't Cordy, though. Looked kinda like Faith, but that would be weird `cause you hate her," Dawn explained, her big eyes studying Buffy and making her feel like crawling out of her own skin.

There should have been words to make Dawn feel bad, or to chastise her for spying. There should even have been words to discount any such assumption on Dawn's part. . .but there were none. Buffy shook her head and rested it in her hands as she took a deep breath and tried to think. She hadn't planned on talking to anybody about it quite so soon, much less her little sister. She had to at least try to explain, even if she didn't quite understand it all herself yet.

"Dawn, you shouldn't have spied," Buffy said in a quiet voice, feeling like she wanted to be swallowed whole by the bed. "And I'm not gay. It was just. . ."

"You sucking face with some girl," Dawn finished for her. "Right, I can see how that wouldn't make you gay."

"Ugh!" Buffy huffed, standing from the bed and snatching her robe from the chair nearby. "I'm not, she's just really nice, and I was a little drunk, and it just felt right, and I couldn't stop once we started because she was a really good kisser, and I don't even know why I'm telling you this." Buffy waved her hands around; making sure Dawn knew she was upset.

"Chill out, Buffy," Dawn told her sarcastically. "It's not a big deal. I mean, Willow's gay too and it's not like any of us treat her different or anything. You don't need to get your giant panties all twisted about it," she chuckled.

Buffy scrunched up her brow and tried to concentrate. "I don't have giant panties," she muttered as she grabbed her hairbrush from Dawn's bed and ran it through her hair.

Dawn shifted position, laying on her belly and looking up at Buffy as she sat at the stool by the dresser.

"Do you think you got infected with gay or something? First Willow, then you. . .if Xander's next it might be a demon that's doing it," Dawn chattered, twirling a finger in her ponytail.

"I did not get infected with gay," Buffy assured, sighing. "Nobody did. Willow's gay because she. . .just is, and Xander's about as straight as they come, and I'm. . ." She sighed again, at a loss for what to say or think.

She'd kissed Tru and liked it. She'd wanted more, thought about more. It hadn't been the first time either; hidden in her deep dark hole of denial was a past littered with thoughts about the fairer sex. She'd brushed them aside, called them something else, refused to acknowledge them. Faith had caused most, as soon as she'd spotted her on the dance floor of the Bronze. It had been hard to ignore then, tough to put down to anything but attraction. But Buffy had been able to sweep it under the proverbial carpet, turning it into mock disdain before crumbling just a little. . .until things had taken a big turn for the gruesome. After that, whatever latent feelings she'd had were pushed aside completely.

Tru had brought it all flooding back. Buffy couldn't doubt that, nor ignore it.

"I'm really confused right now." Buffy finished her sentence quietly, putting the brush down on the dresser.

"Who is she?" Dawn asked after a few seconds of silence.

"Her name's Tru," Buffy replied, smiling just a little as she said it.

"Was it the swirly peephole or did she really look freakily like Faith?" Dawn continued.

Buffy thought about lying; it wasn't as if she told Dawn everything, especially not lately. She knew her sister was about the least judgmental person she knew, however. Despite Dawn's faults, and their love/hate relationship, Buffy felt like she could talk to her. . .just a little at least. Just to help her sort it out in her own mind.

"Yeah, very like Faith," Buffy confessed, taking a breath full of woe. "They're pretty much identical. Twins in fact."

"Wow," Dawn said, her mouth dropping open as Buffy watched her reaction. "I didn't know she even had a sister."

"Neither did I. Chance meeting and oops I fell on her lips," Buffy said, rubbing at her brow and the headache that had taken firm hold.

Dawn moved up to sit on the end of the bed, her ponytail half falling out from where she'd been playing with it.

"I always knew you had a thing for Faith, but getting with her twin is kinda. . .strange," Dawn told her, obviously attempting not to provoke Buffy too much.

"It's not like I planned it. We went out so I could find out more about her, and then I was having fun, and she was so sweet, I couldn't help but. . .wait, you always knew I had a thing for Faith? How could you know that? I wasn't even sure I knew that," Buffy said in exasperation.

Dawn tried to hide her chuckle but it didn't work. She rolled her eyes at Buffy before telling her "It was pretty obvious, though I guess I am kind of observant. All the teachers say so," she beamed.

"Ok, so what exactly did you 'observe'?" Buffy asked, trying to think of times she might have given herself away in the past.

"Little things, like how you'd smile at her, or how you'd try not to go staring at her too long. When you did stare at her too long though, it seemed like you wanted to know what the inside of her pants looked like," Dawn explained simply.

"I so did not," Buffy protested, shaking her head.

She had to admit to herself that she'd wondered about the inside of Faith's pants a fair few times, quite inappropriately. It wasn't her fault if Faith had worn extra tight leather and had a sexy backside, though. She couldn't be held accountable for thinking lewd thoughts, especially as she'd tried her best to ignore them.

"I saw it, Buffy, and I'm pretty sure she did too," Dawn told her. "And she definitely did the same to you, like all the time."

Buffy sat and thought about Faith for a second; trying to remember the times they'd been together and shared furtive glances and unnecessary touches. She could see now that it was pretty obvious, but at the time fear - and Angel – had kept her from understanding it and indulging in it. She had never been certain Faith liked her, but looking back. . .she couldn't deny the fact there were signs; big flashing signs that said Faith wanted her, and that Buffy's ignorance had helped mess up anything they ever could have had, friendship included.

"You really think she liked me like that?" Buffy asked, knowing the answer now already.

"Without a doubt, Buffy. She would talk about you when you weren't around, and I know I was young but I could tell she was totally hot for you," Dawn answered.

Dawn had spent a fair bit of time with Faith before all the bad stuff had happened. She'd liked Faith, had seen her as a rebellious role model with her bad attitude and her cool clothes. It wasn't something Buffy had encouraged at the time. Faith was a loose cannon, and her sister's safety was never far from her mind. So she'd eventually made sure Faith didn't get to see much of Dawn; telling her she was busy with schoolwork or friends, when all Faith wanted to do was say hi. It hadn't been a nice thing to do, and it was one of many things Buffy now regretted.

Buffy picked at a thread on her robe, her brows knitted, head thumping and mind spinning in circles. Everything was moving so fast it seemed. She didn't know if she was ready to keep up.

"So you're at least a little bit gay then huh?" Dawn said, more a statement than a question.

The slayer shrugged, she didn't have the answer. All she knew was that she'd had thoughts about Faith, and now about Tru. If it made her gay she didn't know, maybe bi, or just looking for somebody that fit her side of the puzzle piece. Nobody had done that so far. There had been a time she thought Angel was her other half, but it was more of a need to cling to something she thought was solid. It was never going to work; he didn't fit her complicated puzzle shape. She didn't know if anybody ever would.

"You can't tell mom about this, Dawn," Buffy said firmly. "Let me figure it out before anybody finds out in fact."

"I won't tell anybody," Dawn assured, pushing herself up off the bed. "You might be hell to have as a sister, but I wouldn't tell people stuff like that. Anyways, I think it's kinda cool you're a lesbo, but I wish it was Faith you could be with and not Tru. . .yunno, if she wasn't all psycho and in jail `n stuff."

Dawn left Buffy sitting alone as she disappeared into the bathroom. Sometimes her sister saw things so simply. Buffy didn't have that luxury; she wasn't comfortable with the whole label thing, and she couldn't figure out if it was Tru she liked or still just Faith. Whatever the case, she wasn't into her boyfriend anymore, that was clear.

Head pounding even more than before Buffy set about getting ready to leave, feeling like a changed person. Maybe not changed exactly, but certainly altered.

Arriving home, feeling somewhat relieved to be in a place she felt safer, Buffy flopped down onto her bed in her dorm and covered her eyes with her arm, trying to stop herself from thinking. The journey had felt longer than ever, the feeling of leaving behind the two girls occupying her thoughts making her itchy and uncomfortable. She'd felt the sudden urge to call Tru before leaving, then scrapped that idea in favour of seeing Faith. . .just to see her. Just to look. She hadn't done that either, which she was glad about. That would only have made things worse. She wasn't ready for big revelations and Faith would have wondered what the hell she was doing there.

Closing her eyes and feeling the snug comfort of her bed, Buffy thought about taking a nap, hoping to recharge herself after yesterday's rollercoaster of discovery. As she felt the fingers of sleep wrap around her however, a soft knock at the door roused her and forced her to open her eyes again. Shuffling off the bed, Buffy got to her feet and smoothed her clothes out so she could answer the door without looking too dishevelled. Pulling it open she winced internally and wondered why she hadn't just ignored it.

"Hey, Buffy," Riley said, looking a little lost.

"Hi," she answered, not opening the door further to let him in.

"Didn't hear from you yesterday, everything ok?" he asked, trying to look past her into the room.

"Everything's fine, I was just busy. . .helping mom and stuff," she lied. "I'm kinda tired though so. . ."

"Oh," he mumbled, scratching at the back of his neck. "Maybe we can get together later?"

"I dunno, I have an assignment to finish, and there's the slaying," she explained, hoping he'd get the hint.

"Right," he said, shuffling his feet. "You sure everything's ok?"

He was obviously wondering why Buffy was being so cold, but she couldn't find it in herself to act any different. She wasn't ready to call it off right away - she still had to figure some things out - but she certainly didn't want to have to spend time with him, trying not to let him touch her and act like they were ok.

"It's fine, I just need. . .a little space," she said, cringing at the line.

He looked suitably shocked and somewhat upset.

"I thought we were doing ok now," Riley responded.

Buffy didn't know what to say. She wasn't going to lie, but now wasn't the time to make rash decisions. She did still like him. . .it just wasn't how it had been.

"Can we talk about this tomorrow?" she asked. "I just need today alone."

"Yeah, I just thought we could spend some time together and reconnect," he explained.

She knew all too well what reconnecting meant, and she didn't want to go there. Not now. Her mind was on other things, other people. The last thing she wanted to do was have sex with her boyfriend, and that pretty much told her all she needed to know about where they were headed.

"Not tonight, Riley," she told him. "I've got things to do. I'll call you tomorrow."

Buffy didn't wait for him to protest or try to talk her round, before smiling and closing the door as he backed away. She didn't feel good about blowing him off, but it was better than the alternative. Leaning her head against the door as she felt the pangs of guilt wash through her, she promised herself to let him down gently when she saw him next. It was the only way. She couldn't pretend.

Buffy also realised she needed to talk to somebody - other than her sister - about what she was feeling. Keeping it inside until it ate her away was not a healthy option. Without giving it a second thought she pushed herself away from the door and went to pick up the phone, calling Willow and asking her to meet her alone later. Buffy needed to work up to telling her about Tru and what had happened, and hopefully a little slaying action would help to relax her enough to talk without getting stressed.

She spent the rest of the day working through half finished assignments, finding it difficult to concentrate while thinking about Tru. Of course, thoughts about Tru soon drifted to thoughts about Faith, and from there on it was impossible to even look at her blank page without her mind wandering. It's not like she was having 'dirty' thoughts about them, mostly. She just couldn't stop comparing. There was no getting away from the fact that though she liked Tru because of her personality, she also liked her because she looked like Faith. It was like the perfect mix; Faith's good looks, and Tru's sweet nature. The mix was almost too good, as if somebody had seen her inner most desires and made them real.

It was no use agonising over it. She had to accept that she was hot for both girls in different ways. It was hard to accept it let alone even say it to herself, but there was no point in lying; Tru had made her smile, made her feel special, and turned her on, and Faith. . .well, she'd always turned her on, but it had been easier to ignore it, easier to imagine it hadn't happened. There had been sweaty training sessions that had tested her limits of self-deceit, close encounters while slaying that had pushed her into heated dreams about Faith at night. . .but Buffy had managed to keep it to a minimum. She was nothing if not focused.

When the time rolled around for her to meet Willow to go on patrol she almost felt like calling in sick. Having to explain herself wasn't a fun idea, but she knew Willow would want to know what had happened, and she couldn't avoid the fact that talking to Willow was probably about the best thing she could do. Willow had recently discovered her inner-gay, falling for a girl without even realising she had those kind of inclinations beforehand. It certainly couldn't hurt to get her best friend's advice.

After pocketing her essential slaying weapons Buffy made her way to knock on Willow's door, waving to Tara before they left, thankful Willow didn't ask questions right away. She waited until they were safely in the first graveyard before the conversation went from light to confessional.

"You gonna tell me what happened, or do I have to force it out of you?" Willow enquired as they walked slowly along the main cemetery path.

"No forcing necessary," Buffy assured, "though a stiff drink might help."

She grinned at Willow as she received a concerned look.

"You can talk to me about anything yunno," Willow told her, her sweet smile breaking down Buffy's defensiveness. "I'm all ears. Non-judgmental and best friend type ears."

"I know, Will," Buffy responded. "It's just not easy. I mean, I know I wanted change. I don't even know why I wanted change. . .maybe it's because I'm bored with normal. The change is kinda drastic, though."

"Normal?" Willow asked, just as a vampire chose that moment to crawl out from under a fresh pile of earth.

Buffy instantly made her way towards it, pulling her stake from her jacket pocket and giving it a twirl.

"How can you call your life normal?" Buffy's best friend continued, staying back. "I mean, you kill monsters and things. You dated a vampire. You died and spawned your evil nemesis Faith. . .in a way."

"She's not evil," Buffy called to Willow as she ducked the newly emerged vampire's fist.

"No?" Willow responded. "Are we no longer meant to not like her?" she asked, sounding puzzled.

"Really? I have no clue," Buffy said, rolling to the side as her feisty foe gave her a run for her money. "Stay still," she told it.

A flurry of fists were exchanged, with neither Buffy or the vampire seemingly getting the upper hand. Angst and slaying never seemed to be a good combination; Buffy's concentration always bore the brunt.

"Ok, I think I missed something, or you need to start at the beginning," Willow told her.

"The whole non-date date I had with Tru kinda turned into more of a date than I'd planned," Buffy confessed, punching the vampire hard in the face. "Ow!" she yelped, shaking her hand. "Did you come from the same factory as Adam?"

"Huh?" he grunted, cocking his head like a trained dog.

"Never mind," Buffy said, shaking her head and jumping forwards, finding herself on the end of a quick foot headed for her stomach.

"That looked painful," Willow commented, clearly wincing from behind a large headstone.

"You're going down," the vampire gloated as Buffy got back to her feet and dusted herself off.

Buffy swept her leg out, causing the big guy to tumble over. "So unoriginal, yet not too far from what I've been thinking lately."

She didn't give him time to ask what she meant, thrusting her stake down into his chest. He turned to dust with a surprised look on his face.

"He was getting annoying."

"I could see that," Willow pointed out with a nod.

Once Buffy had wiped her hands on her jeans and slid her stake back into place they continued to walk and talk.

"So it turned into an actual date then? I knew it," Willow said, her smile all goofy.

Buffy smiled too – unable to help herself - and nodded. "She was really nice, and it was fun just being around her. The kissing was nice too. And now Dawn thinks I'm gay, and I don't know what I am. I do know that I'd like to see Tru again," she admitted.

"Really? So she converted you in one night? Wow, she must be something."

Tru definitely was something, but Buffy had to concede that one night did not a gay girl make.

"Well, she's pretty wow, but I can't put it all down to her," Buffy confessed. "There were times before that kinda make me think I've had it inside, just waiting to be pushed out of me."

"That doesn't sound too good. In fact it kinda sounds like an Alien movie. Like your inner gay is gonna burst through your chest and run around squealing on the floor," Willow said, her eyebrows raising into her hairline. "And living in this place, I'm not too sure if that could actually happen."

Buffy snickered and scuffed her boots on the floor as they walked along the dark path. "I'm pretty sure nothing is actually going to burst out of me. I mean, it didn't with you, unless you kept it quiet."

"Nope, there was no bursting other than out of the closet when we were all fighting," Willow assured. "So, explain; what times are we talking about here that make you think it's always been there?"

Buffy took a deep breath and hoped her friend would understand. She barely understood herself so she was taking a risk with her honesty. Plus, Willow wasn't exactly a fan of Faith.

"I guess it started with Faith," Buffy told her.

"Faith that we're not calling evil anymore?" Willow asked.

"That's the one, haunter of my dreams and nightmares."

Buffy stepped from the rocky path onto the soft grass of the cemetery, leading them to an old broken tomb she sometimes liked to sit on if it was a nice night. It was sheltered under a large tree that had grown slightly crooked, its limbs drooping with age. She hopped up onto the stone slab and Willow followed suit.

"I guess being with Tru made me realise what I'd felt for Faith," Buffy told her.

"The overwhelming need to kick her in the head?" Willow asked, unable to hide her little smirk.

"Well, I did feel that towards the end with Faith, and sometimes in the middle. . .and actually at the start too, but there was more to it," Buffy responded. "I think I noticed right away that she was cute, and hot, and that it gave me strange little tingles."

"Tingles are nearly always a sign."

Buffy nodded and continued. "But I ignored it. . .as much as possible, which was quite a lot. I got the art of ignorance pretty much perfected. And after everything that happened I guess I just pushed it out of my head."

"But Tru showed up and kapow. . .you have tingles again?" Willow asked, sitting crossed legged next to Buffy and giving her all her attention.

"Yep," Buffy confirmed. "Lotsa tingles and a whole load of memories to deal with about how much I'd really actually liked Faith."

"That's gotta be pretty confusing."

"Totally. And every time I think about Tru I think about Faith too, and that's not great. Faith's in jail; anything we ever could have had is long gone. We'll never be fixable," Buffy said quietly, wondering if that's what she truly wanted.

She'd tried not to think about Faith since the last moment she'd seen her at the police station, but she was always lingering somewhere in her mind. Faith had arrived in her dreams a few times in the past, being somewhat provocative, teasing, touching Buffy or being partially naked – though she'd only just accepted the reason why – but since that day in LA Buffy's dreams of Faith never had quite the element of fun in them that she'd enjoyed. She felt like they were truly broken.

Willow rested her hand on Buffy's shoulder and gave it a gentle squeeze.

"I can't say I'm not a little surprised, Buffy," Willow confessed. "I mean, all I really remember is the bad stuff. I know you had some fun times with Faith before that, though. And I know she really liked you. I guess I just didn't think you'd ever be flying a rainbow flag."

"Me either," Buffy said with a soft laugh. "But then, I could say the same for you. One day I know you as straight-Willow, and the next you're all about the girl on girl."

"It's all about the girl. For me it's Tara, and for you it's Faith. . .and Tru," Willow said.

"And maybe once Cordelia, but that's because she'd walk around all naked in the shower after gym," Buffy said with a giggle.

"Did you used to check out Cordy in the shower?" Willow asked, her mouth dropping open as Buffy nodded. "Buffy Summers, you're a giant perv."

They both started laughing, the tension of the last few days dropping from Buffy momentarily. Her cover was blown, for herself as much as anybody else; she wasn't just the straight girl they'd all believed her to be. It felt scary, but Buffy couldn't hide any longer. She couldn't live her life worrying and denying; there wasn't time for that.

"So what are you going to do?" Willow asked as they jumped down from the tomb to continue patrolling.

"I really don't know," Buffy said with a sigh. "I can't stay with Riley, I know that for sure. It's just not going to work. And I can't even begin to think about getting in touch with Faith; too much happened. We lost any chance we had. Which leaves Tru. . .and she's so easy to be with."

"Sounds kinda like you do know what you want to do then," Willow pointed out.

"I guess," Buffy shrugged. "I'd definitely like to see Tru again."

It seemed simple when she said it all out loud, but inside she was still a mess. It was a big leap to make. Being with Tru would change more than just who she kissed or who she slept with, it would make people label her and discriminate against her. It was a pretty scary thought.

They finished the rest of the patrol mostly talking about college work, with Buffy just occasionally feeling the need to gush about Tru and how gorgeous she was. It made Willow chuckle and call Buffy smitten already. Buffy didn't know if she was smitten, it could have been residual feelings for Faith being transferred onto Tru, or it could just have been because she really did like the girl and the way she'd been with her.

Kicking her shoes off and relaxing as soon as she entered her dorm, Buffy promised herself to at least try to separate Tru from Faith. They weren't the same person after all, despite their looks. She had to keep that firmly in mind.

As she turned back her covers and started undressing for bed, she stopped and looked towards her cupboard at the far end of the small room. Slowly, Buffy headed that way, discarding her top and her pants as she went. She pulled open the door and shoved aside her clothes on the rail, looking deep into the darkness within. A shoebox lay hidden under some dirty laundry and Buffy bent down to fish it out. Throwing a slightly stinky sock back to the floor from its lid, she took the box over to her bed and sat down. Her fingers prised open the top and slipped within as she searched for what she'd almost thrown away on numerous occasions.

She had never followed through and banished it to the trash bin, however. There it lay, buried under a stack of old photographs and letters. . .her one picture of Faith.

It was from prom night, the one Buffy had mostly missed. Faith was in a small black dress, looking stunning though still dangerous and sexy. She was stood next to Xander, as he'd wanted the picture so he could ogle Faith in private. Buffy had never given him the copy, keeping it stashed away, out of sight out of mind. She looked at it now and shook her head, her fingertip softly brushing over the image of the other slayer. It hurt somewhere deep inside to know they'd become so broken, so lost. Buffy couldn't doubt now that she'd had a huge crush on Faith. . .but it went deeper. It made her heart ache, and that was almost as terrifying as ever imagining seeing Faith again.

There was no turning back.

Buffy put the shoebox on the floor beside her bed, and placed the photograph of Faith in her bedside cabinet drawer. Closer, but not close enough.

...to be continued...

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