It Starts With Faith
"Weren't we just here yesterday?"
Everyone turned to look at Xander who wore a morose look on his face as he studied the not so hallowed halls of Sunnydale High School. Their group was hanging out in the quad, still having a few minutes before they had to head off to their dreaded first period classes.
"What're you talking about, X?" Faith said, a smirk spreading across her sharp features. She was sitting on the ground, leaning against the concrete bench that Cordelia was sitting on, enjoying the feel of her girlfriend's hands playing with the hairs at the nape of her neck. "We've been back at school for nearly a week now. Don't tell me that you've developed a case of severe amnesia. Not after--"
"Oh, please let me say it," interrupted Cordelia playfully while she traced a gentle path up Faith's neck and caused the Slayer to shiver with pleasure. "Pleaasssse?"
"Go ahead, sweets. It's all yours."
Smiling widely, Cordelia mock coughed then turned to Xander and said, "Not after you nearly got your sorry butt suspended for that whole fireworks fiasco. And not to mention your poor completely blame free girlfriend, Amy's, not so sorry butt suspended as well."
"Completely blame free?" Xander said huffily. "I take offense. I take serious offense. Who do you think was my inspiration for said fiasco involving fireworks? She is my shining muse in the great arena of mischief making."
"What does Snyder have you two doing this week anyway?" asked Willow curiously, pushing back some strands of red hair from her eyes. Her hair had been recently cut even shorter, barely reaching the nape of her neck, being styled in a spiky manner that made her look quite sexy. It was a fact that was noticed by most of the population of their school. "Last week it was cafeteria duty, right?"
"Ugh, yes," Xander said with a shudder. "And what a nightmare that was. I'll never look at food the same again." He shuddered again as his eyes glazed over. After a moment, he snapped out of this dazed state of mind and said, "I dunno what I'm doing. I have to report to Snyder before my free hour. That's what he has Amy doing now since she has first period study hall."
"He'll probably want to separate you," said Faith wisely as she caught Cordelia's hand in her own and then entwined their fingers. "I think catching you guys making out in the cafeteria when you were supposed to be trying to scrub the disgusting leftovers off of the dishes was a tip to him that your punishment wasn't so very punishing."
Scowling at this, Xander muttered, "I know. He's just jealous of our neverending love, I bet you that's it."
"Neverending love?" repeated Cordelia in droll tones as she smirked. "Is that like the Neverending Story?"
"That thing has credits you know," Willow remarked. "I mean, how can a movie be neverending if it has credits? Credits are the big signal that it's the end of the movie so if you see credits, it's the end, right? And the Neverending Story had credits so it clearly ends. Plus you know there was a Neverending Story II and III. How can it have a part two or a part three if part one never ended? To have sequels something has to end! So it did end. The series was all a big lie, tricking little kids and..."
Willow trailed off as she noticed the stares that all of her friends were giving her. Very strange stares. Stranger than usual. She wondered if maybe she should stop bringing up topics that she would talk about with her band. They had a tendency to scare everyone else that she told them too.
"So, yeah, Xander loves Amy," finished Willow sheepishly. "And unlike the movie, it will never end."
The group was still trying to process Willow's sudden lesson and theories about the Neverending Story when the first period warning bell rang, signaling that it was time for all of them to head off to class.
"Off to drudgery we go," said Xander with a sigh. Turning to Willow, who was adjusting the long black skirt she wore, he continued, "C'mon Willster, we've been summoned to the hell that is known as Physics."
"But I like Physics," Willow was heard to comment before she disappeared with Xander into the hallways, still unaware of the admiring gazes that she was attracting.
Watching them for a moment, Faith chuckled then looked up at Cordelia who was smiling softly at her. "Hey, sweets," she murmured fondly. "Mind giving me a hand?"
"Of course not," replied Cordelia as she rose to her feet and offered her hand to the Slayer. "Although," with a strong pull, she helped Faith to her feet while smiling slyly. "I can think of other things that I'd rather give you."
"Now this sounds familiar," Faith said in husky tones. Forming a facetious face of concentration she tilted her head to one side and said, "Lemme guess what it is..." Smiling widely now, Faith took a step closer and placed her hands lightly on Cordelia's waist to pull her closer. "I know," she murmured, her lips hovering under her girlfriend's. "You'd rather give me a kiss."
"You win a prize," Cordelia said sensuously before leaning down to meet Faith's lips with her own.
When they pulled apart a few seconds later, Faith formed another smile and firmly entwined her fingers with Cordelia's so they were holding hands again. "Lucky me," drawled Faith with a high level of satisfaction.
"Very lucky," purred Cordelia, swinging Faith's hand in her own as they headed off to their Latin class.
The first week of their Junior year had begun and life was perfect as far as they were concerned.
But there was just one problem. One that they weren't really thinking of right now but was always there.
And the problem was that they lived in Sunnydale.
And nothing stays perfect in Sunnydale.
At least, not for very long.
Amy looked at the dorky name tag she wore on her shirt and stifled a groan. "I can't believe he made me a tour guide," she muttered. "I'm having flashbacks from working at Disney. Someone please hurt me severely."
Although she was less than ecstatic about her latest punishment for the now infamous fireworks disaster that she helped cause with Xander, Amy decided not to take it out on the new student she was going to show around.
It wasn't their fault, after all. And besides, when it came to living in Sunnydale and with the Hellmouth, she figured that having a person to guide you through all the weirdness was a good thing.
So opening the door to the office where the new student was supposed to be, Amy smiled and locked eyes with the only girl sitting in there and said, "Elizabeth Anne Summers?"
"Buffy," the slender blonde girl corrected as she rose to her feet. "I like to be called Buffy."
"Okay, Buffy it is," Amy replied with an easy smile. "I'm Amy Madison, your official tour guide for the lack of wonder that is Sunnydale High. Try to contain your boredom for my sake."
Chuckling at this, Buffy gave Amy a wide and genuine smile that Amy found infectious. "I'll do my best," Buffy said as they walked out of the office. As soon as they did, she turned to Amy and asked, "Is it just me or is the Principal kind of... well... just wanting to be scary big time?"
"Oh, he wants to be scary all right," said Amy, who snickered a bit. "Snyder likes to think of himself like he's a great mythical beast or something." Amy tilted her head to one side and regarded Buffy curiously. "Why? Did he read you the riot act? Wow," she whistled and gave the other girl an admiring glance. "Only here one day and giving the Snyde man hives already? That's got to be record time."
"I didn't do anything," Buffy averted her eyes and seemed to withdraw into herself. "It's more my past..."
Studying Buffy for a moment, Amy softened her voice and said easily, "Well, whatever it is, it's no big deal here, I'm telling you. We're used to deviancy and criminal acts. In fact, my closest friends are well known for it."
"Oh yeah?" Buffy asked, her smile returning on seeing Amy's kindness and obvious attempt to make her feel at ease with her and the environment.
"Yup," said Amy with a nod. "In fact," she moved closer to Buffy and whispered conspiratorially. "That's the reason that I'm showing you around today. Criminal acts. At least criminal acts in the mind of Principal Snyder, that is."
"What did you do?" asked Buffy curiously.
"Lets just say it involved fireworks, mustard, and cars belonging to people we don't like," said Amy in grave tones. She paused in front of an empty glass case to cough before she said, "This is our empty trophy case. Can you tell that our athletics program stinks big time?"
"What about that case?" asked Buffy, pointing to the one that was filled to the rim with trophies.
"That one?" Amy asked, her voice growing distant and sad. "Those are our cheerleading awards. While our sports teams suck the cheerleaders who are supposed to encourage them to win don't. Ironic isn't it?"
Smiling at this, Buffy shook her head and followed after Amy who was wandering down the hall again.
And as she did so, Buffy couldn't help but feel a little bit better about coming to Sunnydale.
Because so far, the people were nice.
Well, the people other than Principal Snyder.
But that was almost to be expected.
Things had been going entirely too well.
That's why when Giles answered the phone and found that it was one of his fellow Council members that was calling him he knew something had to be wrong.
Because in his experience, good things and good times never tend to last too long before the bad takes over.
And so far, his experience had always proved right. Just like it did in this particular instance.
Resting his elbows on his desk, Giles wound his fingers into his hair and pondered how exactly he would tell Faith what he had just been told. He suspected that it had happened, perhaps even knew to a degree that it did, but hadn't been sure until right now. Until he'd been told.
But now he knew it was true. There was indeed a second Slayer. A second chosen one. Another fighter who had been called during Faith's momentary death into the harsh realm of battling against the minions of evil.
And she was in Sunnydale.
And they wanted him to watch over her. To train her, to inform her of her new duties, to take her under his wing just as he had done for Faith.
Faith... he couldn't help but sigh as he pictured her reaction. She wouldn't take this well. He knew what all of it meant to her. The Slaying. Being the chosen one. It gave her a purpose in her life, to her mind. Somehow, she felt that it justified her existence and everything bad that had happened to her in the past. That it was all washed away by the simple fact that she was the Slayer and she was of importance to this world because of her duties.
It wasn't a duty that he suspected she would want to share with another. No matter how logical it would be.
Frankly, part of Giles was glad there was a second Slayer. This meant extra protection for Faith and lessened the chance of her, he felt his heart seize in his chest as he thought of it, dying again. All in all, it made sense and that was why the Council had put the plan into action.
There was just one problem. Well, more than one if you counted Faith's reaction which would most likely be a negative one to start off with.
And the main problem was the second Slayer herself. According to the Council she wasn't as eager or just downright forthcoming in her duties as Faith. In fact, it sounded like she was the exact opposite of Faith. She didn't like being a Slayer and found it to be a burden on herself. She wanted nothing to do with her job as one of the chosen or with the Watchers Council itself.
In other words, she was going to a problem case for Giles. Far worse than Faith had been at the start. The more that he heard about the second Slayer, the more that he appreciated Faith and her willingness to cooperate.
There was just one thing that truly puzzled Giles.
What sort of name was Buffy Summers anyway?
"You want me to WHAT?"
Wearing a smug smile on his features, Principal Snyder shoved the plunger into Xander's hands then said, "You heard me, Mr. Harris. Happy toilet cleaning."
Blinking in dismay as he stared at the plunger, Xander snapped out of his stupor enough to shout at the disappearing Snyder's back, "I'm sure this isn't legal!"
"Then please, feel free to call the police," Snyder called back, continuing in his walk down the hall.
"Jerk," Xander muttered, staring at Snyder's back for another moment before picking up the bucket that sat at his feet and walking into the boys restroom.
One thing and one thing only saved Xander from being totally miserable about his latest punishment. And it was the fact that Principal Snyder had told him to clean ALL of the bathrooms in the school.
Which meant the girls restrooms as well.
To say that Xander took pleasure in the strangest of things would be well founded indeed.
"This is way too easy, y'know," Faith commented with a smirk as she walked into her third hour class.
"What's way too easy?" asked Willow, turning to her friend with a curious look. Other than advanced English this was the only class the two shared together.
"This class," supplied Faith. Taking a seat next to Willow in the back row, she unzipped her backpack and pulled out the textbook and her notebook. "There's nada they can teach me about the human anatomy in here that I probably don't already know on my own from having fun."
Chuckling at this, Willow said, "Good point."
While she laughed, Willow diverted her eyes and noticed that when she shifted her attention away from her friend half the people in the class appeared to quickly turn back around in their seats. Puzzling over this, Willow said, "Is it just me or is everyone acting weird lately?"
"That's a sorta broad question," Faith murmured humorously as she opened her pack of jolly ranchers and popped a cherry one into her mouth. "Whatcha mean?"
"Well, it's just that people keep acting weird around me," Willow said slowly, fixing worried green eyes on Faith. "Do you... do you suppose they somehow know about my powers? That they can sense I've changed and now they're afraid of me? Is that it?"
Fighting the smirk spreading against her features and not doing a very good job at it, Faith shook her head and laughing softly, she said, "This is why I love you, Will."
"What?" Willow blinked in dismay.
"You're so damn cute," Faith said, still chuckling to herself. "Will," she said lowly as she moved in closer so their faces were inches apart. "The reason that everyone seems to be acting weird around is because they're finally noticing just how great you are. After years of ignorance all of these doofuses have realized that you're one of the coolest people here and they want you."
"What?!" Willow squeaked loudly.
"No whats," Faith cupped Willow's chin her hand. "Look at them, Will. Really look at them." As she said this, Faith directed Willow's gaze subtly towards their classmates. "If you really look there's no way you can miss what's in their eyes." Faith's voice lowered as she said, "They want you. All of them."
Doing as Faith commanded, Willow moved her gaze around the room and locked eyes with several of her observers and saw the desire reflected in their eyes along with a strange sort of longing that she recognized herself once having whenever she looked in the mirror while she thought of Xander back when she had a crush on him.
Faith was right. They did want her. They... liked her. They thought she was beautiful... desirable...
But why now?
Was it only because of what she'd become? Her powers reawakened as the Oracle? Or was it because of what she'd allowed them to see? Her true self when she was up onstage playing with her band at the Bronze?
Willow was still pondering all of this when she noticed a familiar figure entering the room with another that she didn't recognize at all.
"Who's that?" asked Willow quietly.
"Hmm?" Faith directed her gaze towards the front of the class where Amy and another girl were. Amy was now walking their way but the other blonde was talking to their teacher in the front of the room. "I dunno," she said in thoughtful tones. "Must be a new student."
"Hey guys," Amy greeted them with a smile.
"Amy girl," said Faith, moving her eyes from the new student to their friend. "Who's the chick?"
"Her name is Buffy, not chick," replied Amy playfully. "Don't you know the rules of political correctness, Faith?"
"Awww, screw that," said Faith while she chuckled. She stared at her friend for a long moment, blinked then said, "Her name is what?"
"Buffy," said Amy, somehow maintaining a straight face as she repeated the other girl's name. "And please, no jokes. I'm sure she'll get them from other people so I'd rather her not get them from my friends. She's nice."
"Okay, okay," Faith quickly waved her hands in a hapless movement and formed a charming smile. "I'll be good."
"How do you know her?"
Faith and Amy turned to look at Willow, surprised at her sudden question. The redhead had her gaze fixed on the front of the room and on Buffy, a curious look in her eyes.
"Snyder had me give her a tour around school during my free hour," Amy replied. "Since we both have study hall first period and she's a new student here."
"Oh, I see," Willow murmured, studying Buffy closely as the blonde girl headed towards them.
Before they could say anything more, Buffy walked towards them and gave them all a hesitant smile as she took a seat next to Amy.
"Buffy, these are my friends Faith and Willow," said Amy, making a broad gesture towards the two girls.
"Hey," said Faith, giving Buffy a small salute and a jaunty smile. "It's nice to meet you."
"Hi," said Willow, sounding a bit subdued as she continued to study Buffy with a close gaze.
"Nice to meet you too," Buffy replied, her smile definitely relaxing a tad. She ducked her head and lowered her voice as she looked to Amy. "I was afraid she was going to make me do the whole 'hi I'm Buffy Summers, a new student, please stare at me and mock me quietly while the teacher makes me tell you every little lame thing about myself' speech."
Snickering at this, Amy said, "That would suck. Lucky for you, Ms. Johnston is pretty mellow."
"Yeah," Faith snorted. "When she's not stalking me."
"Stop being so bitter, you know that you love the attention Ms. Athletics Superstar," Amy teased.
"But I have no hoop dreams," countered Faith with a smirk. Turning towards Buffy who looked confused, she explained, "Ms. Johnston coaches girls basketball and she's on this recruiting kick with me. Wants me on the team and isn't really getting the fact that I don't wanna join up."
"Why not?" asked Buffy. "Don't like sports?"
"Nah," said Faith easily. "They're okay but I just don't have the time. I have other responsibilities, y'know?"
"Yeah," Buffy replied quietly. "I do."
"Did you play sports at your old school, Buffy?" asked Amy, wanting to know some more about her new friend.
"No," Buffy blushed slightly. "I was a cheerleader." She sighed then said quietly, "But that was awhile ago..."
"Cheerleader, huh?" Faith pondered. "My girl's a cheerleader. If you wanna join the squad, she could give you the hook up about the whole scene. I'll ask her if you're interested. I don't go for that stuff myself but she digs it because she loves dancing so much. So," Faith drawled, meeting Buffy's eyes. "Want me to ask for you?"
"Yeah," said Buffy, feeling definite wonderment that no matter what she said to these new girls they took it and her in complete stride. Accepting her for who she was, no questions asked. "I'd like that a lot."
"Cool," said Faith with a smile.
"Uhm... you guys," Willow cut in hushed tones. "Class is starting and we're getting glares from our usually mellow teacher already. I think quiet time is needed."
On hearing Willow's words, all three girls focused on Ms. Johnston who did indeed look irritated with them.
Oh well, they'd just have to talk more at lunch.
Icky, icky, ew, ew, gross, gross.
This was pretty much Xander's thought pattern right now. That and occasional 'gack' added in.
"This is soooo not fair," muttered Xander as he pushed up the way too big rubber gloves he'd been given. "Snyder is going to hear some serious complaining in the form of a letter that would be from my folks except for the fake signature Faith's going to give it at the end. Oh yeah," Xander chuckled. "My parents are heartily involved in my welfare all right and they won't stand for this."
Xander was still in the midst of his complaining slash plotting when suddenly he felt something grab onto his arm and give it a hard jerk.
It wasn't the fact that something had grabbed his arm that shocked Xander.
It was more the fact of exactly where his arm was when it had been grabbed.
And his arm was currently inside a toilet.
Releasing a scream of pure terror, Xander sprang away from the toilet, clutching the arm that had been grabbed, as he stared ahead with wide eyes.
He stared ahead at a slimy, green, weird, and definitely disgusting looking creature crawling out of the toilet as it made sickening burbling noises.
Xander's thoughts were fairly concise.
Icky, icky, ew, ew, gross, gross, run, run!
Following the final line of thought, Xander dashed out of the bathroom, utterly scared out of his wits and not wanting to ever relieve himself at school again.
After all, a guy had to be safe about his family jewels and a creature in the toilet... well, that wasn't safe.
For him or any other guy.
Knowing this, despite his terror, Xander realized that it had to be destroyed. Whatever the hell it was.
But first, he had to find Faith.
Because he sure as heck wasn't destroying it.
That much was for certain.
Faith had seen a lot of strange things in her life and since moving to Sunnydale and becoming the Slayer she'd seen even more.
Yes, it was safe to say that Faith was used to seeing strange things. It was just a part of her daily life.
So when something took her by surprise, it was noteworthy indeed. And something did take her surprise as she walked out of her human anatomy class.
And that something was Xander, scrambling down the hallway at top speeds looking like, well, like a janitor.
"Hey, X," greeted Faith as he stumbled to a stop in front her, gasping for breath. "Your gloves don't fit."
"I know," Xander gasped with slight irritation. Lifting his gaze, her clasped Faith's arms and said, "Faith! You've got to come with me to the restrooms! They have icky, ew, gross demons in them! It's definitely time for you do to the slice and dice thing, Slayer style!"
"Icky, ew, gross demons?" Faith echoed dubiously.
"Yeah!" Xander nodded emphatically.
Studying her friend for a minute, Faith heaved a deep sigh and shrugged her shoulders then said, "Sure. I'm game. Lead the way, my good man."
"All right," cried Xander triumphantly before he went dashing down the hallway. "Toilet demons beware! Your doom is arriving with burning justice in her heart!"
"Toilet demons beware?" Faith echoed again. Shaking her head, she chuckled and said, "Right..."
Walking down the hall after Xander, it took Faith a few moments to truly process what he said to her.
He said toilet demons, right?
So... he wanted her to fight... toilet demons.
Twitching at the thought, Faith sincerely hoped that whatever Xander had run into, he'd exaggerated a great deal when it came to its origins.
Because she most definitely did not feel like doing battle with any icky, ew, gross toilet demons today.
Then again, when did she ever feel like doing that?
"We need to talk, Giles."
Looking at his unexpected lunch time guest, Giles blinked then removed his glasses to wipe them off. When he put them back on, he studied Willow closely before he walked towards her and asked, "About what exactly?"
"Buffy," was Willow's only reply.
"How...?" Giles began in surprise.
"She's here," Willow supplied, walking around Giles and staring at a huge stack of library books before she turned to face him. "I met her earlier today." She paused for a moment then added, "So did Faith."
Heaving a sigh, Giles rubbed his forehead and murmured, "This isn't going at all how I planned."
"Don't worry," said Willow almost casually. "Faith has no idea who she is."
"You mean you didn't tell her?" asked Giles.
"I didn't think it was my place," Willow replied calmly. "Besides, I got the feeling that Buffy doesn't quite share her viewpoints about being a Slayer."
"Yes, the Council mentioned that she's rather reluctant about them," Giles said quietly. Meeting solemn green eyes he said earnestly, "I only just found out today about Buffy's existence. I suspected that perhaps she might exist but it seemed like such a remote chance that I never put any thought into it until the Council notified me that she was coming to live in Sunnydale."
"You're her new Watcher then?" Willow asked.
"For the time being," said Giles as he heaved another sigh. "I don't know how I'm going to tell Faith. I'm afraid that she won't take the news very well."
Dipping her head, Willow lifted her eyes after a moment and locked them with Giles in a magnetic gaze as she said in soft and powerful tones, "Tell her the truth. It's what Faith needs the most from you other than love."
"Yes," Giles agreed with a low nod of his head. He was silent for a moment then asked hesitantly, "How... did you know that Buffy was the second Slayer to be called?"
Giving a quiet and derisive chuckle as she turned on her heel, Willow walked out of the library and said, "I sensed it inside of her as soon as we met."
The library was silent as Giles was left alone to ponder Willow's words before he said dryly, "Of course you would. You are a reincarnated Oracle, after all.
"Lucky me," Giles murmured as he walked back into his office. "Faith has such interesting friends." ---
The bathroom was empty and Faith saw no sign whatsoever of these so called 'toilet demons' that Xander had spoken of earlier. With a sigh, Faith regarded her companion dryly then said, "I hope you didn't just drag me into the guys restroom just to say that I was in here."
"Hey!" Xander cried, sounding quite offended at her statement. "Would I do something like that?" When Faith kept her eyes steadily fixed with his, Xander mumbled sheepishly, "Okay, so maybe I would do something like that. But I didn't this time. There really were toilet demons in here! First there was one of them and then before I ran away--"
"You ran away?" Faith interrupted with a smirk.
"Yeah, well, I was in fear of my life," said Xander in rather huffy tones. "Anyway, before I ran away, in a very manly fashion I might add, I noticed tons more of them coming out of the other toilets. My theory is they must be amassing numbers!" Leaning in close, he whispered lowly, "They're building an army, Faith."
"Righhhht," said Faith slowly. "Tell me another one."
"I'm telling you the truth!" Xander erupted. "And if you don't believe me then I'll just have to destroy them myself!"
Giving her friend a careful stare, Faith released a deep sigh then shrugged her shoulders before strolling forward and inspecting all of the various stalls in the boys restroom. And as she suspected, each of them were mysteriously toilet demon free. When she was finished with her task, she turned to face Xander then said, "I think my work, or attempt at work, here is done. Later, X."
With that, Faith walked out of the restroom to leave Xander alone with his toilet demons or lack thereof.
"Man," Xander grumbled. "I can't believe she thought I was lying. Would I really lie about something like this? I don't have nearly enough imagination to make this up. There really were toilet demons in here and they were icky, ew, and gross and..."
Xander trailed off as the objects of his icky, ew, and gross descriptions slowly climbed up out of the toilets and gazed at him with beady red eyes that glowed with some very scary intentions.
His reaction was immediate and quite familiar to him.
He ran quickly.
He ran quickly and screaming.
And he ran as far away from the boys restroom as his legs could take him. And since Faith wasn't going to help him, he ran towards the one thing that he knew would help him no matter what.
Because, after all, fireworks don't have much choice in the manner of which they're being used, do they now?
No, they really don't at all.
And for that, Xander was infinitely grateful.
Buffy got the feeling that she was being stared at.
It wasn't a feeling that she particularly liked but was getting used to because of all her troubles back at her old school.
Perhaps that was what was causing the stares. They heard stories of all the trouble she'd gotten into there and now everyone thought she was this big fire causing freak who was going to burn them all into ashes the first chance that she got.
Why else would they be staring at her? I mean, yeah, her outfit was good and she looked nice as always but that wasn't a reason to stare. Unless they found her lunch very interesting.
And somehow Buffy doubted the students of Sunnydale High really found tuna fish sandwiches a mindblowing concept.
Luckily or unluckily for Buffy, depending on how you saw things, Amy noticed her new friend's discomfort and the realized possible reasons behind it.
"It's not you," Amy murmured.
"What?" asked Buffy in puzzled tones as she turned to face the other blonde girl.
"It's not you," repeated Amy with a smile. An almost wary one, Buffy noted observantly. "It's... me. And my friends, I guess. We have sort of a reputation... one that probably might keep you from wanting to hang out with us too much."
"What sort of reputation? For being very nice to new students who have awful rumors surrounding them?" Buffy asked in sardonic tones as she smiled at Amy.
"No," said Amy, chuckling a bit while she shook her head. She blinked then gazed at Buffy carefully before she said, "You've heard them talking about you then? I hoped that you wouldn't..."
"Yeah, I heard," Buffy sighed. "I was sort of expecting it, you know? It's impossible to escape your past and what you've done. I learned that awhile ago."
"Oh," Amy murmured softly, studying Buffy with gentle blue eyes. She paused for a moment then said, "It doesn't matter to me, Buffy. I think you're a nice person and... well, if you did burn down your school gym then I'm sure you had a good reason for doing it." Amy paused then added wryly, "And anyway, I really hate gym class. So it doesn't matter to me."
Laughing quietly now, Buffy's eyes twinkled, and looking at Amy with slight wonderment she said, "I've never met anyone like you before. Doesn't anything shock you or put you off?"
"Put me off?" Amy echoed with a frown. She formed a serious face then murmured, "Well... I hate asparagus. Does that count?"
"No, I don't think so," Buffy said as she laughed some more. When she stopped, she met Amy's eyes then said, "Your turn. You wanted to tell me something? It sounded kind of serious."
"Not serious, just..." Amy trailed off then sighed. "Some people at are school are okay with it, some don't like it, and some are just annoying jerks. I don't know how you'll react. I've been told it's supposedly trendy now but I still--"
"Amy," interrupted Buffy with a smile. "Just tell me."
"Okay," Amy heaved another sigh. "You remember my friend Faith? You met her in human anatomy?"
"Yeah... what about her?" asked Buffy curiously.
"Well, do you remember her saying 'my girl'?" Amy pursued as she studied Buffy's face carefully for any reaction.
"Yeah..." Buffy said very slowly. "What about it?"
"Her girl was meant as in her girlfriend," supplied Amy. "Cordelia, the one on the cheerleading squad. The two of them are going out and... well, I wanted to tell you before you met her. Just in case you might be, I don't know, weirded out by it."
There was a long pause of silence before Buffy said rather blankly, "That's it?"
"What?" Amy asked in surprise.
"I mean, is that it?" asked Buffy, who was smiling now. "I was sure it was going to be something awful. Like you guys were all in some sort of secret evil cult I had to join in order to hang out with you. But you're just telling me that Faith is gay and has a nice girlfriend who might help me become a cheerleader again?"
"Uhm, well, yeah, I guess that's one way to see things," said Amy sheepishly.
"Man," said Buffy with a sigh as she looked infinitely relaxed. "Compared to some of the strange stuff I've been dealing with lately having lesbians for friends is a huge relief."
"Well, they're not exactly lesbians," Amy corrected. She paused to consider this then said, "I think. It's not like we sit around and discuss their sexuality when we hang out. They're just... well, they're just Faith and Cordelia. Our friends, you know?"
"Yeah," said Buffy softly with a smile. "I know. Or," she said this ironically. "I hope to know, at least."
"No worries," Amy smiled. "You're definitely going to know. Faith already likes you and I'm sure that Cordelia will like having someone on the cheerleading squad not freaked by her relationship with Faith."
"They didn't take it well, huh?" asked Buffy.
"Nope," said Amy, shaking her head. "It's been about half a year now and things are still pretty strained. In fact," she murmured thoughtfully. "I'm surprised you took it so well. Maybe I've gotten way pessimistic but I really sort of expected you to freak too. I mean, at least a little bit."
"Normally I would," Buffy said wryly. "But lately I've just been dealing with freaky things one after another. Stuff that puts this to shame and... well, two people being in love with each other is just normal after that. Even if the two people just happen to be the same sex, y'know?"
Pondering this, Amy said humorously, "Not really. I don't deal in the actively strange too much. My role is to observe it all quietly from the sidelines." She studied Buffy for a moment then asked, "What do you mean when you say you've been dealing with freaky things a lot?"
"That's... a long story," said Buffy evasively as she avoided meeting Amy's gaze while she said this.
"Okay..." said Amy slowly. She continued to look at Buffy carefully before she said airily, "Whatever. It's not like I care much anyway." When Buffy smiled, after Amy gave her a teasing poke in the side, she said, "But I am glad you're cool with it. It makes things a whole lot easier. I have no worries about anything now."
"Worries about what?"
Both blondes shifted their gazes on hearing a new voice in their conversation and Buffy met the hazel eyes of a girl who reminded her vaguely of her old friends but with kindness instead of mocking floating inside of her beautiful gaze.
"Cordelia," said Amy easily. "This is Buffy." Turning to face Buffy who was still gazing at Cordelia as if she was an intricate puzzle, she said, "Buffy, this is my friend Cordelia. Stop staring at her and say hello."
"I wasn't staring!" Buffy protested as she turned red. Looking up at Cordelia who wore an entirely amused smirk on her features, she said, "Hi. It's nice to meet you. And I really wasn't staring at you. She made all that up."
"I believe you," said Cordelia dryly while she took a seat across from Amy at their usual table in the quad. As usual, it was a lovely day outside, and they settled at their regular picnic table under a large oak tree. Opening her lunch, Cordelia said, "You're a new student here, right?"
"If I was any newer I'd be shiny," replied Buffy.
"Nice," Cordelia chuckled. Placing a large package of twinkies down on the table, she asked, "You're from the Hollywood area, right? That's what the rumor mill report says anyway. That and you like to burn things."
"Cordelia!" cried Amy, sounding vaguely horrified.
"Oh, hush, Amy," said Cordelia carelessly as she gave a little wave of her hand. Moving to look into Buffy's eyes, she then said, "Come on, you can tell me the truth. It really didn't have anything to do with Satan worship and a rabid attempt to make your bra size increase, did it?"
"Cordelia!" repeated Amy, now sounding definitely horrified at what the tall brunette was saying.
"Amy, don't make me hush you again," Cordelia continued as she kept staring down Buffy. Leaning closer to the other girl, she lowered her voice and said, "If you don't want to tell the outcry girl over here I'll understand but I'm totally cool with this kind of thing. My girlfriend is a former petty criminal and she seems to have a fixation with fire too."
"No, she doesn't!" Amy interrupted.
Quirking an eyebrow, Cordelia looked at Amy then said, "Do you remember the time that she showed all of us her collection of lighters? Half of which are stolen Zippos? And the small fire that could've been a big fire that took place afterwards? The one that torched Giles autographed poster of Saturday Night Fever?"
"Oh yeah..." said Amy dimly as she blinked. "I nearly forgot about that."
"How could you?" asked Cordelia dryly. "The fire department showed up at our doorstep with axes." Now looking satisfied with her explanation, she turned back to Buffy and said, "So you and fire. What's the deal?"
"We're friends, but the gym thing was just an accident. And I don't collect lighters," Buffy responded easily, unable to help but smile at Cordelia's attitude which she found humorous and likable in its absolute honesty.
"Good deal," said Cordelia with a nod. "I don't need a tinier blonde version of Faith on my hands."
"Tiny? Who's tiny?"
Right after she said this, Faith kissed Cordelia's cheek before sitting down next to her girlfriend. "I'm not tiny, I wish you'd stop telling people that," she groused in good natured tones. Before she could say anything more her eyes fixated on the Twinkies on the table and grabbing them, she exclaimed, "Twinkies! All right!"
"One... two... three... she's done," Cordelia said while she smirked at Faith who finished eating the Twinkies then scowled at the tall brunette. "What?" asked Cordelia innocently. "Is it so wrong to time your scarfing habits?"
"I don't scarf, I consume damn quickly," retorted Faith, who nonetheless smiled while she said this.
"Same thing," said Cordelia glibly as she took Faith's hand in her own and entwined their fingers. Turning back to Buffy, she asked, "You don't consume damn quickly do you? The rumor mill hasn't reported anything about that."
"No, I don't," Buffy said with a chuckle. "But thanks for asking me. I appreciate the curiosity."
"No problem," Cordelia replied, deciding to herself that she rather liked this new girl who was able to deal with her sense of humor, something that most people completely misunderstood, in perfect stride. She felt a light kiss on her hand and turned to face Faith. "Yes?"
"Buff here wants to be a cheerleader," informed Faith. "Howzabout you give her the inside scoop, huh?"
"A cheerleader? Really?" Cordelia's eyes immediately lit up. "I heard that you used to be one at your old school. Before the whole torch the gym incident."
"That I was," said Buffy with a chuckle. "What's your program like here? Mostly dance routines or--"
The rest of Buffy's statement was cut off by the sound of continuous and horrified screaming.
Everyone in their group immediately turned around to lock eyes with the figure of Xander running at a manic pace down the hall as he continued to scream loudly.
Scream loudly about toilet demons.
And then there was what he was carrying. His arms were full of various forms of fireworks. And not the wussy kind of fireworks. The kind that blow off peoples limbs.
Somehow, they didn't want to know exactly what he was planning to do with them in his current mindset.
And so, a long pause of silence filled the air as everyone contemplated what they had just seen.
But finally, someone did speak. And that someone was Buffy as she looked to Amy and asked, "Who was that?"
"My boyfriend, Xander," was Amy's wary reply.
"Oh," Buffy replied. She paused for a moment then offered lamely, "He seems nice...?"
"He seems nuts you mean," Cordelia corrected.
This time, no one really had the heart to disagree with Cordelia's sardonic yet very accurate assessment.
"I still can't believe you didn't get suspended."
"Yeah? Well, I can't believe that none of you believe my story about the toilet demons!" Xander replied in huffy tones as he folded his arms across his chest. "The proof is clearly there in my actions. If they didn't exist then would I have done what I did back there, huh?"
They were currently inside of the Bronze, waiting for Willow to begin playing and for Buffy to arrive. But as they waited they ended up, quite naturally, falling onto the topic of Xander's little adventure with fireworks at school that afternoon. And the interesting colors that it had made Principal Snyder's face turn upon seeing the results.
Frankly, they were all surprised that Xander was alive, much less got away with not getting suspended.
"I dunno, X," said Faith with a smirk. "Blowing up all the toilets in the school seems like a very you thing to do."
"I'm insulted," sniffed Xander.
"I wouldn't be," Cordelia drawled humorously. "I think it shows you have actual intelligence. Lord knows I didn't think you knew enough about explosives to pull this kind of stunt off. And pull it off fairly well at that."
"It was for the greater good," Xander insisted. "When it comes to the welfare of my fellow students my intelligence knows no bounds." When he was met with skeptical looks from Faith and Cordelia, he turned to Amy and said rather pleadingly, "You believe me, don't you? There really were toilet demons! They attacked me!"
Studying Xander for a long moment and losing herself partially in the depths of his brown eyes, Amy let loose a soft sigh then said, "Of course I don't."
"Amy!" wailed Xander in disheartened tones.
"I'm sorry!" Amy exclaimed as she shook her head. "But it's just too weird, even for me, to believe."
While Xander wallowed in misery, Faith formed a thoughtful expression then said, "Y'know, if those things were climbing outta the toilets then they had to be coming from someplace else. Probably the sewers."
"See?! They're amassing numbers! The toilets are their portals into our world! We must destroy them at the source if we are ever to be truly safe!" Xander ranted.
"Xander," said Amy with a sigh. She moved to clasp his arm. "Okay... I believe you. There's no way they couldn't exist with you acting this nutty about it. But I'm not going anywhere near any sewers, got that?"
"Oh, Amy!" exclaimed Xander as he swept her up in a tight hug. "This is why I love you! Absolute trust in me despite all of the crazy things that I say!"
"Yeah, that's me, trusting in craziness girl," Amy said in muffled tones against his chest.
Chuckling at this, Faith looked towards the stage where Willow was readying to begin her first song. The crowd in front of the stage was pretty large. In fact, lately it seemed to get larger each time she had a gig. That was just one of the things Faith felt that Willow was oblivious to. The fact that she was getting quite a fan following. It wasn't that hard to notice, really, but she suspected that the redhead didn't have any idea because... well, the only people she hung out were her band and them.
"Have your guesses laid out?"
"Hmm?" Faith turned to face Cordelia. "What do you mean, sweets?"
"Your guesses for the name of Willow's band," Cordelia supplied with a smile as she ran her fingers up and down Faith's arm. "She's announcing the name tonight, remember?"
"Oh, that," said Faith with a smile. "I honestly have no clue, sweets. But I'm sure that it'll kick ass with Will and the gang picking it out. They've got good taste."
"Not as good as me," Cordelia murmured before giving Faith a light kiss on the lips.
Chuckling at this, Faith directed her eyes towards the stage where Willow was approaching the microphone.
"Hey everybody," Willow's voice echoed throughout the Bronze and several people cheered on hearing it. Smiling softly, Willow continued, "We're Prophecy Girl and this is our Twilight Confession."
As the chords of the song rang out through the Bronze, everyone seemed to freeze and fix their eyes on the stage and on Willow, who stood still, cupping the microphone in her hands as her voice swept over them sweetly, causing a magical effect.
It wasn't until the song was finished with did anyone move and when it was finished, the audience roared with applause that seemed to shake the club.
"Prophecy Girl," murmured Faith, a glint showing in her dark brown eyes as she smirked. "Funny, Will."
"I think it's cute," Cordelia commented, resting her chin on Faith's shoulder. She then paused for a moment to look around the club then said, "Where's Buffy? Shouldn't she be here by now?"
"You're right," said Amy, concern showing in her blue eyes. "She said that she'd be here before ten so she could catch the beginning of Willow's first set."
"Maybe she got lost?" Xander suggested.
"In Sunnydale? I don't think so," said Cordelia. "This town is minuscule compared to where she used to live. I don't see how she could possibly get lost." The tall brunette's face suddenly paled. "Unless she--"
"Got attacked by vamps," Faith interrupted, gently pulling away from her girlfriend as she said this. "Stay here you guys. I'm gonna go look for her, okay?"
"But--" Cordelia protested, moving forward.
"Stay here," Faith enforced as she tenderly placed a finger against Cordelia's lips. "Do it for me? Please?"
Looking into Faith's dark brown eyes and losing herself to the depth of emotion she found there, Cordelia sighed then said reluctantly, "All right. I'll stay here."
"Thanks, sweets," said Faith before she leaned forward to kiss Cordelia passionately. Pulling away from the other girl, she caressed her cheek and said, "I love you."
"I love you too," echoed Cordelia softly, her eyes warm while she watched Faith dash out of the club. When she turned and locked eyes with Amy and Xander, who wore their most goofy expressions on their faces, she gave a low, threatening, growl and demanded, "What?!"
"You're just soooo cute," Amy and Xander cried, looking horrifically cute themselves as they said this.
"Whatever," Cordelia said carelessly, smiling nonetheless at the other couple's humorous outburst.
Buffy was having a bad night.
It seemed to go with the string of bad luck she was having in her life lately. Part of her had even expected it.
Of course, the small town she'd moved into would have vampires. That just made so much sense. Vampires just love small towns with their fresh air and low traffic.
"This sucks," Buffy complained, whirling around to punch yet another vampire in the face.
She was mere feet away from the Bronze and couldn't get near it. For some unknown reason, the vamps were swarming all over the entrance to the place and decided to attack what looked to be an innocent girl.
Too bad for them Buffy was anything but innocent.
"You guys just have no idea when to leave me alone, do you?" growled Buffy as she slammed one of the vamps into the wall of a nearby building. "I move here to get away from you and you're here too. You'd think that you guys would develop anti-Slayer-dar or something."
"S-S-Slayer?" the vampire repeated shakily. "But you're not the Sl--"
The vampire's statement was cut off by Buffy plunging a stake into his undead heart. Watching him turn into dust, she murmured, "I'm not the what?"
"You're not the Slayer, blondie," another vampire replied. Buffy turned around to face him and as he spoke she saw a dozen more vampires appear. "Because we know the Slayer and you're not her. Though you are a pretty tough cookie." The lead vampire gave a nasty smile then said, "But don't worry, we'll kill you even if you're not her. We're not too picky about our victims."
"I'm not a Slayer?" repeated Buffy incredulously. A dark look appeared in her gaze and she moved forward in a lightning quick movement, grabbing the lead vampire by his collar as she hissed, "You better believe me when I say that I'm a Slayer and there's no way in hell you can kill me."
"Right," the vampire chuckled. "I'm so sure."
"Want a demonstration?" Buffy asked quietly. Before the vampire could reply, she tossed him into the crowd of vampires and set to work on beating up every single one of them. Soon there were vampires being tossed into the air and heavy clouds of dust filling the air. When she finished, six remained including the leader, and a harsh smile spreading across her features, Buffy said, "Still don't think that I'm who I say I am, buddy?"
"Y-You... who are you?" the vampire stammered.
"I told you, I'm--"
"The Slayer's here, bloodsuckers, and it's time for you to turn into dustbuster material."
Buffy and the vampires whirled around and out of the shadows, an intimidating yet somehow sensuous figure moved forward to greet them with a smile on her lips.
"Faith," whispered Buffy in shock, her eyes growing wide with realization. "You're her...? That Faith?"
"The Slayer," the lead vampire said with loathing.
"Bingo and bingo again," Faith replied with a smirk before running forward to engage the shocked vampires in a fight.
Buffy watched in a daze as the dark haired girl dealt with them with certain efficiency and ease. She was just like the stories Merrick had told her. Beautiful in the danger that she exuded, almost like a drug. Buffy could feel the excitement surging in her system as she watched her fight. Yes, she was dangerous. So very dangerous. Because she was Faith. Because she was the Slayer.
And Buffy was just her copycat.
Someone accidentally called from Faith's momentary death. She knew the story all too well. After all, she'd ask Merrick to tell it to her enough times.
So this was the invincible Faith, the one true Slayer, the person who had ruined her life with her death.
Death, it wasn't even that. It was a fake death just like Buffy was a fake Slayer. One not really needed, one only called into duty when the true Slayer couldn't act.
And now here she was. In the same place as the true Slayer. The same place as Faith.
To say that Buffy was in shock would be something of an understatement. She was more in a state of utter confusion and crisis and the only one thing could knock her out of it. And that one thing was a person in danger.
So when Faith found herself suddenly attacked from behind, falling to the ground as three vamps gathered around her as she rubbed the back of her head warily, the second Slayer moved into action with incredible speed.
Before Faith could grasp her bearings, Buffy was there, throwing back the vampires and staking every last one of them with a strength that Faith had never seen.
Never seen except in herself, that is.
Which could only mean one thing.
Rising slowly to her feet, Faith took in Buffy's calm and decisive manner, along with the stake that she held in her hands as if it was an old friend and said, "You're..."
"A Slayer," finished Buffy firmly.
Faith's only response was overwhelming silence. To be continued... !