It Starts With Faith
Cordelia didn't like fighting.
Luckily for her, she never had to deal with it much.
Well, the physical kind she had to deal with a lot lately because of Faith's job as the Slayer and her watching her girlfriend at work. But the other kind of fighting...
The verbal kind. The bad kind. The kind that hurts the most although people think that it hurts the least.
That kind of fighting Cordelia never really had to deal with. Until now. And she wasn't dealing with it well.
Even though it wasn't her doing the fighting.
It was Faith and Giles and she... well, she was sitting outside of their apartment on the stairs. Because Faith asked her to. Because her girlfriend knew that it would upset her too much to be around when they fought.
Was it even fighting though? No, it was more... oh, she didn't know what it was. It was pain, it was their pain magnified into words, Giles confusion and Faith's feelings of betrayal when it came to not being told about Buffy.
Cordelia hoped that their pain would go away.
And go away soon. But somehow, she doubted that. The situation was too complicated...
Faith was too complicated and so was Giles.
"Why can't they both be airheads?" Cordelia muttered in self derisive and comical tones to herself.
Then again, would the situation be any better if they were, in fact, idiots?
Probably not, but at least the idea made her smile.
And that had to count for something.
"I didn't know until today that she'd been called," Giles murmured, his eyes pleading with Faith to try and understand his situation. "I was going to tell you once you came home from the Bronze and patrol. I swear it."
Eyeing Giles carefully, Faith released an agitated breath of air that blew up the air in her eyes. Running her fingers through her wavy locks she muttered, "Yeah, all right. I believe you, G-man. But why was she called? I thought that I was the only Slayer. Y'know, ever? Or was that just a bunch of lies?"
"You are the Slayer," Giles affirmed. "Of this generation anyway. But Buffy is as well, her being called was all an accident. It's because of your death that she was awakened. The Council realized the potential of having two Slayers and contacted her."
"What are you saying G-man?" asked Faith painfully, barely able to grate out the words. "I croak for awhile and already you got a new applicant? What? The Council not like the warranty on the current Slayer?"
"No," said Giles painfully as he took a step forward. He gently touched her shoulders and said, "Listen to me. You are the chosen one. The Council never wanted anyone else but when you died..."
"They replaced me," Faith said bitterly. Pushing away from him, she said, "It follows the trend of my life."
"Faith!" shouted Giles and on hearing the strength of his voice she turned to face him with a wary expression.
Folding her arms over her chest, Faith asked him in rather sullen tones, "What?"
"It was all automatic," said Giles softly. "It wasn't the decision of the Council at all. When one Slayer dies it triggers the call of another Slayer to replace her."
Mulling over this, Faith finally said, "What's she doing here? I know that the Council brought her here. It's way too big a coincidence for her to just show up."
"They want Buffy to work with us," replied Giles. "It's their opinion that with two Slayers here, the activity at the Hellmouth will lessen by enormous amounts. And I'm inclined to agree with them. Also... it will help you. I don't want you to die again, Faith."
"I'm not gonna die, G-man," said Faith hoarsely. "I just don't want this taken away from me. I couldn't take it."
"Oh, Faith," murmured Giles softly, moving forward to clasp her shoulders. "You are and always will be the Slayer. She can't take anything away from you."
"This job, being needed, having you as a Watcher, and you looking out for me..." Faith said in distant tones as she focused on looking outside of the window. "It makes me feel special, y'know? I can't... I dunno if I can take losing that, G-man. I need it too much. I really do."
"And we need you," Giles said in quiet affirmation. He paused for a moment then gently cupped Faith's chin in his hands so their eyes would meet. "You're very special, Faith, and being the Slayer has nothing to do with that."
"Cordelia... she says that she'd love me even if I wasn't the Slayer," Faith said brokenly, moving her eyes to gaze down at their shoes. "But... I'm not sure that I'd be who I am right now if I wasn't the Slayer. I wouldn't even be the person that she's in love with, if it wasn't for this job."
"You would be," said Giles firmly. "You're a good person, Faith. Everyone who knows you can see that. This changes nothing. It just means we have another member of our team, that's all. Someone to help us fight the evil. You will always be needed and always be loved. Especially by me."
"G-man," whispered Faith in ragged tones.
Catching Faith as she collapsed in his arms, Giles murmured against the top of her head as she rested against his chest, "Please remember that you're more than just the Slayer. You're something far more important than that."
"Oh yeah? What's that?" Faith asked, her voice rough with tears that she couldn't hold back anymore.
"You're Faith Spencer, a good person, and an exceptional individual," murmured Giles.
Pulling back a little, Faith wiped at her eyes with the back of her hand and laughed, "Exceptional, huh? It's been awhile since anyone called me that. First grade, my teacher Miss Hinkle, I think. For getting an A on my test."
"Then Miss Hinkle is clearly a wise woman," Giles replied as he gave Faith a soft and reassuring smile.
"Yeah, well, maybe," Faith said with a grin. She paused to form a serious face then said, "G-man... sorry about... accusing you about keeping this from me. I--"
"It's all right," interrupted Giles calmly. "I understand completely. But... do you agree with what the Council has decided? For Buffy to work with us?"
"Yeah, I do," said Faith as she nodded. "It only makes sense, y'know? And... well, it's gonna make Cordelia ecstatic. She doesn't much like me slaying. Ever since that whole me being dead for awhile thing."
"I tend to agree with Cordelia as well," said Giles. He blinked then murmured, "That sounds so odd to say..."
Chuckling now, Faith said, "Funny, G-man. Speaking of Cordelia, I'm gonna go talk to her now, okay? We leave her out on the stairs too long and the neighbors are bound to talk and they do that too much already."
"They wouldn't do that if you didn't burn things so often," said Giles in slightly scolding tones to Faith as she walked out of the apartment to go get Cordelia.
"I told you that was an accident!" Faith called out. But before she closed the door she added, "Mostly."
"I heard that," Giles said wryly. Shaking his head, he murmured, "That went better than I thought it would."
Then again, it was Faith. And when it came to Faith, things always seemed to work out nicely.
That was a fact that Giles just loved.
And who can blame him?
"You KNEW she was a Slayer?!"
"The club isn't entirely empty, you know," Willow murmured in way of a reply to Xander who instantly wore a guilty expression as he looked around quickly.
Almost two hours had passed since the disastrous revelation that Buffy was the second Slayer. A revelation that caused both Faith and Buffy to leave the premises.
Amy and Xander decided to stick around to tell Willow what happened only to find out that she knew a bit more than they did about this particular subject.
"I knew she was a Slayer, yes," Willow acknowledged. "But only because of my powers as an Oracle. I would have told you but I felt that it would be best if Faith found out first." Pausing to frown, Willow then said, "Giles was supposed to have told her."
"But how can there be two Slayers?" asked Amy with confusion. "I thought that being a Slayer was special. That there can only be one of them or something like that."
"That's true," said Willow with a nod. "But when Faith died for those few moments when fighting with the Master, Buffy was immediately called as the next Slayer." Wearing an almost sheepish expression, she said, "It's a hard thing to explain. Magic works in strange ways."
"Yeah, we're getting that, Will," said Xander. Giving a sigh, he said quietly, "Faith didn't take it too well. I don't think she and Buffy are going to be getting along if her attitude keeps up. Then again," he looked thoughtful. "Buffy was giving us the brrrrr chilly cold shoulder. I wonder why?"
Recalling Buffy's behavior when she, Xander, and Cordelia had gone out into the alley despite Faith's orders, Amy said softly, "She looked so unhappy... like we had tricked her about who we really are. I think that maybe Buffy doesn't feel like Faith does about being a Slayer."
"Exactly," said Willow in agreement. Her green eyes darkened as she said in low and entrancing tones, "All that she's gone through from being a Slayer has made her heart heavy when it comes to performing duty. She can no longer see all of the good that she does as a Slayer. Only the problems that it consistently causes in her personal life. Unlike Faith, being a Slayer has only caused more problems for Buffy."
"Bummer," said Xander. When both girls fixed droll looks on him, he exclaimed, "What?! I said bummer! I'm sympathizing with her aren't I?"
Shaking her head, Amy looked to Willow then said, "Shouldn't someone talk to Buffy about that then? As a Slayer she's important, to all of us and to humanity itself. Right?"
"Right," Willow murmured, her eyes glowing softly as she smiled at Amy. "But convincing Buffy of that will be a task far more difficult than it seems. Do you think that you're up to it, Amy?"
"Definitely," said Amy confidently. "And besides, Buffy's my friend. I don't like the idea of her thinking that we were keeping secrets from her on purpose."
"A smart answer," said Willow with satisfaction. She paused for a moment then added quietly, "No one should be allowed to think that they're all alone. That's a punishment that very few people deserve. And I certainly doubt that Buffy is one of those people."
Studying Willow with careful eyes, Amy and Xander silently wondered to themselves just how alone the redhead felt since she refused to share with her friends the true extent and effect her powers as an Oracle had on her life.
The both of them just hoped that one day soon Willow would be able to share her feelings with them.
Because Willow didn't deserve to be alone either.
"I like your room better than mine."
Looking at Cordelia with certain surprise, Faith paused in unlacing her boots and said, "Why? It's just a library with a bed right in the middle of it. Plus all of my junk which piles up to make what G-man likes to call 'the uncleanable and horrifying mess'."
"Maybe that's why I like it," Cordelia murmured. Adjusting her position on Faith's bed, she leaned into the wall and pulled her legs close to her chest. "I just feel so comfortable here. My house is like a museum compared to this place. I don't feel like I belong there but being here is totally different. I feel like I belong."
"You do belong here," said Faith in soft and tender tones as she kicked her boots into the corner of the room. In a smooth movement, she walked towards Cordelia and sank down onto the bed in front of her, sitting back on her knees as she regarded her girlfriend earnestly. "Remember that you'll always have someplace to go with me. You can come over whenever you want, sweets. No matter what, you're always welcome here."
"Faith," whispered Cordelia quietly. Reaching out she clasped the Slayer's hand and pulled the other girl near until Faith gently collapsed on top of her. Their lips mere inches apart, she said, "I love you."
"I know," Faith replied with a smile.
Chuckling at this, Cordelia moved even closer so they were only a breath apart. "And...?" she prompted in teasing and fond tones.
"And I love you too," finished Faith. She quirked an eyebrow then said playfully, "Satisfied, Miss Interrogator?"
"Far from it," Cordelia said before she moved forward to possess Faith's lips with her own in a searing kiss that left them gasping for breath when it was over.
As Faith moved her kisses lower to spread across the line of Cordelia's jaw, she smiled when she heard the soft moan of pleasure the other girl released. But her smile soon disappeared when moments later, she felt Cordelia move up in her embrace in a silent protest of sorts.
"Sweets?" asked Faith with concern, moving off of her girlfriend as a sinking feeling took hold of her. Had she gone too far? Was Cordelia having second thoughts? "I... I didn't do anything wrong, did I?"
Seeing the look of pain and self disgust cross over Faith's features, Cordelia immediately cupped Faith's face in her hands and said in reassuring tones, "You didn't do anything, I swear it. I just wanted to ask you something."
"Ask me something?" Faith echoed in confusion.
"About Buffy," Cordelia elaborated.
Immediately on hearing the other Slayer's name, Faith got a distant look in her eyes and asked quietly, "Go ahead and ask me then. I'll tell you the truth."
"What's going on with her?" asked Cordelia. She then took Faith's hand in her own and tenderly pulled the other girl towards her so Faith's back was resting against her chest while Cordelia wrapped her arms firmly around her girlfriend's waist. "I know that she's a Slayer... but how could that be possible? I thought that you were the only one."
"Me too," said Faith with a sigh, smiling on feeling the warmth of Cordelia's body surround her own. "But that's not the deal anymore. G-man says that when I died for those few seconds, Buffy was instantly called as the next the Slayer. The fact that I came back to life doesn't change her being called. It's just something that happens automatically and now Buffy's got the same powers as me. She's a Slayer too."
"Is she going to help us?" asked Cordelia, nuzzling Faith's neck and kissing the soft skin there as she asked this.
"I dunno," Faith said thoughtfully. Tilting her head back to rest it on Cordelia's shoulder, she turned her face so their eyes could meet. "She gave off this vibe... like she hated me, hated me something wicked, y'know? I haven't seen eyes like that since..."
Studying Faith's darkened features, Cordelia lightly kissed her cheek and asked, "Since when?"
"Since the last time I saw my Mom," answered Faith gruffly, her eyes closing from the pain of recalling memories of old. "She had that look in her eyes too. A look like I was the reason for all her problems. Like if I would've never been born life would be perfect. When I looked at Buffy in the alley, her eyes said that to me. It was the exact same look that my Mom used to give me."
"They're wrong," Cordelia said in shaky tones that sounded of a silent rage. Holding Faith closer, she dropped her head to rest her chin on Faith's shoulder. "You make the world a better place, Faith, and if you weren't here. I... I don't know what I'd do."
"Hey," said Faith quietly, turning to regard Cordelia with warm and comforting brown eyes. "Don't start thinking crazy again, huh? I'm not going anywhere."
"Promise?" asked Cordelia with a slight smile.
"Promise," Faith assured lovingly. She paused to move out of Cordelia's embrace and climbed softly on top of the other girl as she formed a sensual smile that spoke of definitely wicked intentions. "Now what do you say we go back to doing our previous business?"
"Business?" Cordelia echoed teasingly as she formed a mock thoughtful expression. "What business was that? I don't remember us doing any business."
Chuckling at this, Faith lowered herself onto her girlfriend's body, enjoying the delicious heat between them as she said huskily, "Then let me remind you..."
And all throughout the night, as much as he didn't want to, Giles heard the muffled sounds of their 'business' taking place.
It was just lucky for him that the couple mostly did their business at Cordelia's house.
Buffy was alone.
That seemed to be an active theme in her life lately. Finding herself alone, without anyone to talk to, unable to tell anyone the truth so they might understand.
Her mother... she wanted to know. Buffy realized this and wished more than anything that she could tell her why her behavior had changed in the past few weeks. Why she did what she did. Why she burned down that gym.
Grimacing at the thought of the fire, Buffy muttered, "I really didn't think that it would burn that quickly."
Recalling the event, a small smile spread across her features despite it all. Merrick had laughed so hard when it happened. Saying this was the most obvious way of hiding their actions fighting the supernatural that he'd ever seen.
And he was a few hundred years old.
Merrick. Her Watcher. Her first real friend.
No matter what she said to him he stuck by her side. Even when she thought he was a crazy old man and insulted him constantly. As much as Buffy hated the Watchers Council and all they'd done to her life by introducing the life of a Slayer onto her she couldn't hate Merrick. She just couldn't.
He died to save her.
That was something she could never forget. Would never want to forget. And he helped her so much. Helped her see what was truly important in the world, helped her find her true self that was hidden away under the layers that she'd built up around her, helped her become a better person.
And for what? So she could be a Slayer? A Slayer. Not THE Slayer. She would never be the Slayer. Because that was Faith's role. She was the Slayer while Buffy was merely her replacement. An accident. Someone to do the odd jobs while Faith took a momentary vacation.
She wasn't important at all. She wasn't even needed anymore. She was the extra Slayer. The spare.
It made her rage inside to think about it. All that she'd lost in order to become the spare for Faith. All that she'd destroyed in order to do her job. A job that wasn't even really hers to begin with. A job that would never be hers.
Buffy wanted nothing to do with it anymore. Nothing to do with the slaying. Nothing to do with her duties as the throwaway chosen one. If it was up to her she'd never slay anything again.
But one thing kept her from vowing this. Kept her from refusing her duties and her position altogether.
Merrick and his death.
He died to save her. Because he believed in her. Because she was a Slayer and he was her Watcher. He'd worked so hard to train her, to teach her, to help her grow as a person so she'd be able to do her duty. So she would be a proud example of a Slayer like every single one of his proteges had been.
How many Slayers did he train?
Over three hundred, he'd said.
And out of that three hundred, he called her the best. The one with the most potential. And... and...
He loved her. Enough to die for her.
How could she forget that? How could she turn her back on everything that he'd taught her?
She couldn't. No matter how hard she tried.
And that was why Buffy was alone. Unable to stop doing her duty as a Slayer but all the same unable to make amends with what being one has done to her life.
The only problem was that she hated being alone. She hated it more than anything else in the world and she didn't know how she could stop being alone.
Learning to trust the people that you've told yourself that you hate is a hard thing. Especially for someone who's experienced so much death and destruction.
But if she didn't learn to trust them... if she couldn't find a way to do that she'd be all alone again.
And Buffy wasn't sure if she could take that again.
Not after discovering what it was like to have true friends again. People who accept you. And now... finally, she could have people who understood her as well.
Understood what it was like to be a Slayer.
That's what she was. She and Faith. The both of them Slayers. The chosen ones.
"The chosen two," Buffy chuckled to herself.
It had the funniest ring to it. Like it sounded perfect in its flaws. Perfect in the oddity of it all. There being two them. Like a force of nature.
Just remembering what it was like watching Faith fight and saving her from those vampires sent a shiver of pleasure down her spine. The adrenaline that surged in her veins, the feeling of heady excitement that surrounded her, the absolute thrill of it all.
She finally knew what other people saw when they watched her fight. She finally understood why Pike said what he said during their last bittersweet night together.
"You're like a force of nature, Buffy, and I'm just a normal guy who can't keep up with hurricanes."
That's what they were. Forces of nature. Things born of this world but not. Different from everyone else alive, they were meant to protect all of mankind.
And no one else can understand what that's like. How that feels. What it does to your life. Where it takes your mental state of mind. Why you do what you do.
No one can understand that.
No one but another Slayer.
Maybe... maybe she could work things out with Faith and the others. Because Buffy wanted to have that bond so badly. The bond caused from being understood. The bond of precious friendship that she now lacked.
One Slayer is alone within herself. But two Slayers? There was no reason for that to happen. Because when there's two, one could never truly be alone.
The students of Sunnydale High knew something was wrong. They knew it as soon as they looked at their faces. Because, after all, Faith and her friends happened to be the most looked at people in the school.
And as the most looked at, they got the most attention from their peers. Whether they liked it or not.
So looking at the group, their observers could easily tell they weren't in the best of moods. The current theory running through the school was the new girl, Buffy, had something to do with the situation.
Rumor had it that she and Faith got into a fight over the 'significant stare' Buffy that had given Cordelia at lunch. Because Faith was the possessive sort, you know, and everyone already knew Buffy was just as violent as Faith. That was clear from her gym torching history.
Out of everyone being talked about, the one who noticed it the most was Buffy. Probably because she was the one who disliked it the most.
"Don't they have anything better to do then talk about me?" Buffy muttered to herself as she dug through her already messy locker for her history book.
"Of course not, they have to live vicariously through you and everyone else in our little group because we do have the most interesting lives around here."
Turning around, Buffy couldn't help but smile as she gazed at Amy's friendly features.
"Hey," said Buffy softly. "I wasn't sure if you were even talking to me anymore."
"Why would you think that?" Amy asked, an impish quality in her voice that still held solemnity behind it. "Did you hear that I suddenly turned mute?"
"No," Buffy chuckled. She averted her eyes and turned back to close her locker as she said, "I... just didn't expect Faith to be THAT Faith."
"It was a shock, huh?" asked Amy softly.
"Yeah," said Buffy with a nod, turning back to face Amy. "Shock on the Richter scale big time."
"Buffy," began Amy in slow, almost hesitant tones. "We didn't mean to keep anything from you. None of us even knew that you were a Slayer. Well..." Amy paused to look sheepish and said, "Giles and Willow knew but they didn't tell us until you already gave us the info."
"Willow knew?" Buffy asked, her eyes going wide. "But how could she have known? And who's Giles?"
"He's Faith's watcher," Amy supplied. She looked around the hallway and grimaced on seeing that everyone had their eyes on them. "Speaking of which, he wanted to invite you to our before school meeting. We usually have one every day, before or after school, to talk about all the evil happenings around the Hellmouth."
"Hellmouth?" Buffy echoed with a frown.
Sighing as she formed a self deprecating face, Amy murmured to herself, "I need to learn when to zip the lips." She formed a smile then hooked her arm quickly in Buffy's and said, "All will be explained in the library. So now can we please depart for it? The sooner that I stopped getting stared at, the better."
"Huh?" Buffy adjusted her gaze to take in all of their onlookers then frowned. "Yeah," she said. "Lets go to the library and this meeting of yours. All of us have a lot to talk over."
"That we can definitely agree on," Amy said with a relieved sigh and a smile as she led Buffy away.
And as they walked away, the students watching them couldn't help but wonder one thing.
Was Amy cheating on Xander with Buffy?
"But how could you sense it, Will?"
Studying Faith carefully, Willow formed a slow smile then leaned in and said simply, "Don't know."
"Awww, c'mon!" Faith cried out with certain exasperation. "You have to know!"
"Don't know," Willow repeated, smirking now.
The group in the library had gotten a tad bit bored waiting for Amy to retrieve Buffy so they could talk with the other Slayer about, well, everything and Faith ended up fixating on finding out how exactly Willow could sense that Buffy was a Slayer just on sight alone.
"I know it's gotta do with your Oracle heebie jeebie powers, but c'mon, what's the secret?" persisted Faith as she formed her very best cute face.
Staring at Faith's wide brown eyes that were definitely in puppy dog mode, Willow giggled before she turned to Cordelia and asked, "Does she do this to you?"
"Only when she's verrrrry desperate," Cordelia replied, mimicking Willow's smirk from before. "It's a sad and pathetic sight, isn't it?"
"Very," said Willow with a nod.
"Hey! I'm not pathetic!" Faith turned a scowl on her girlfriend then said, "I'm just pulling out all the stops to find out about Willow's freaky doo powers."
"Freaky doo? What happened to heebie jeebie?" asked Cordelia in teasing tones.
"Both are technical terms for funky ass Oracle powers," said Faith as she sniffed. Turning to Giles who had been warily observing all of this, she said, "Right, G-man?"
"Eh... well... one could say that," Giles said in very, very, very, and I mean very, hesitant tones.
"Some help you are," muttered Faith. Whirling back around to face Willow, the Slayer leaned forward so their eyes would meet and said growled, "Tell me." She then paused and added hopefully, "Pretty please?"
"Don't know," Willow enforced, still smiling.
"Okay, this has gone on far enough," said Xander loudly as he finally butted into the conversation. Walking towards Faith, he clasped her shoulder, met her eyes then said derisively, "Pretty please?" Shaking his head while he covered his eyes with his hand sadly, Xander said, "You wound men all over the world with those words, Faith. It's a sad day indeed when you, the prime example of what all guys should be, say those horrible, horrible, words."
"She's not a guy, Xander," said Cordelia with more than a touch of irritation. "When will you accept that?"
"She's a guy trapped in a Slayer's body," Xander replied as he looked at Cordelia. "When will you accept that? The evidence is clear in her actions."
"Well, this is definitely Jerry Springer."
Everyone turned around to look at Buffy who wore a rather amused smile on her features and next to her stood Amy who just looked, well, confused.
"Buffy," everyone said together.
"That would be me," said Buffy easily, moving forward to stand in front of the library table. "Otherwise known as Slayer number two or the incredible spare Slayer called by the god of stupid accidents."
Frowning at this, Faith rose to her feet to stand across from Buffy. Everyone observed with some degree of tension as the two Slayers sized each other up.
"You're not a spare," Faith said in quiet and firm tones as she steadily met Buffy's gaze. "You're a Slayer. Just like me and we both got important work to do. I'm glad that you're here to help us. We could us it."
Taken off guard by this, Buffy blinked and then turned her attention away from Faith and onto Giles. "A Watcher," she stated.
"Your Watcher for the time being," Giles revealed.
"Happy, happy, joy, joy," Buffy murmured. "I see that the Council wasted no time replacing Merrick."
"He can never be replaced, Buffy," said Giles sadly. "The man was and always will be a legend." Giles paused, seeming to think something over before he said, "Merrick requested to be your Watcher. Something he never did before. Every other Slayer that was trained under him was requested by the Council."
"He wanted to train me?" asked Buffy shakily, disbelief obvious in her voice.
"Merrick saw great potential in you," Giles murmured solemnly. "Potential that was deeply hidden under confusion and regret. You must believe in yourself in order to succeed, Buffy. Always remember that."
Snapping out of her shaken state, Buffy narrowed her eyes and said, "Is that what you taught her?"
"It's what I teach everyone. Even myself," replied Giles calmly, refusing to rise to Buffy's bait.
There was a long moment of silence before Buffy asked wearily, "What do you want from me?"
"We want you to work with us," said Giles in earnest tones. "We want you to join our group, to fight by our side, to become one of us, to have our support. We want you to embrace your destiny as a Slayer."
All was silent once again as Buffy thought over this. Then finally she lifted her head and said, "I am what I am." Turning to look at Faith, she said in hard tones, "And what I am is all her fault. I never wanted any of this and I don't want it now. I'll help but don't expect me to be happy about it. This isn't my idea of fun."
The tension that filled the air as soon as Buffy finished her speech was thick enough to cut with a knife. And most, if not all, of it was coming from Faith.
The dark haired Slayer didn't say a single word. She merely met Buffy's gaze with burning eyes that tore through the soul of the other girl and sent cold chills down her spine.
Then turning on her heel, Faith purposefully walked out of the library, the doors swinging gently shut behind her. Only to be opened seconds later by the fast moving figure of Cordelia chasing after her.
A long moment of silence passed before Xander said softly, "Well, that went extremely horrendous."
"You're gonna get in trouble for this, sweets," Faith said quietly, her eyes focused on looking out of the passenger side window of Cordelia's Range Rover.
"I've been in trouble since the first day I met you. Why get rid of the most reliable thing in my life?" said Cordelia as she kept her gaze focused on the road ahead. She was quiet for a moment then added gently, "And I wanted to be with you and I think that you want me here too."
Forming a slow smile, Faith rested her head against the window and murmured, "You know me pretty well."
"Well, I am your girlfriend and the love of your life, if I don't know you then who does?" asked Cordelia in haughty tones that rang of playful teasing.
"Good point," Faith said with a chuckle. Still focused on looking outside the window and the passing landscape she noted they were heading out of town. "So where are we headed?"
"That," Cordelia said in a long drawl. "Is a secret."
"A secret?" asked Faith curiously, turning away from the window to look at Cordelia. "How come?"
"Because keeping secrets in order to surprise you is the best way to cheer you up," replied Cordelia, forming an impish smile. "At least, that's my theory."
"Oh yeah?" drawled Faith, her voice lowering an octave to form the sensuous tone that Cordelia adored. "I bet that I gotta better idea how to cheer me up."
"Naughty!" Cordelia accused playfully as she gave Faith a light bat on the arm.
Catching Cordelia's hand in hers and entwining their fingers before replacing her girlfriend's hand over the stick shift, Faith said softly, "I love you, sweets."
"I know," replied Cordelia with a smirk.
Instead of responding, Faith merely returned the smile and kept their fingers entwined.
As they drove along to Cordelia's surprise and secret location, Faith felt her spirits rising and all felt right with the world once again.
And it was all because of Cordelia.
The very best girlfriend in all of the world. And anyone who said differently... well, they'd just have to talk to Faith about that. Talk as in fight.
And who would want to do that?
Besides Buffy, that is.
Buffy was alone again. And she knew it was her own fault. But standing there... looking at Faith, all of it came back to her. The ostracism at school, Merrick's death, her parents constant fighting, their divorce, the look of utter disappointment that her Mother kept giving her.
All of it came crashing down around her like a tidal wave and before she knew it, the words were spilling out of her lips and she was ruining yet another thing in her life.
That was all she seemed to be able to do lately.
Ruin things and make things worse. Make people hate her. Push her away and call her names.
Was she just meant to be alone? Was that it?
"You going for the cranky Slayer of the year award? Because if you are, you probably won it hands down."
Looking up at Amy who was standing on the step above the one she was sitting on, Buffy sighed. Turning her head away from the other girl, she said, "I'm sorry."
"I figured that," Amy said, taking a seat next to Buffy at the bottom of the stairs.
Everyone else was in class but she and Buffy had free hour and Snyder still maintained it was her job to look out for her. It was a job that Amy took fairly seriously. Since when you look out for someone it's not just for their physical welfare but their emotional welfare as well.
They sat in silence for a moment before Buffy turned to Amy, and tears showing in her hazel eyes, she asked plaintively, "Why do you want to be my friend? Is it because I'm a Slayer and they asked you to?"
"No, of course not!" exclaimed Amy, a hurt expression slowly forming across her features. "Buffy," she said quietly as she reached out to touch the Slayer's arm. "I like you because you're you... and, well," Amy gave a sheepish smile. "You put up with my stupid jokes."
"They're not stupid," Buffy gave a small smile. "I like them. They cheer me up. They make me think that I'm normal again."
"Normal, what's normal?" Amy scoffed. "Normal is boring. Normal is vanilla ice cream minus the sprinkles and chocolate syrup. Normal is Barry Manilow." Giving Buffy a hard stare, she asked solemnly, "And do you really want to be Barry Manilow?"
Grimacing at this, Buffy laughed and said, "Okay. I think that I get the point, Amy."
"No, I'm serious. Do you want to be Barry Manilow? Do you want to wear tacky outfits and sing Copacabana?" pursued Amy with deadly seriousness.
"No, no, I don't!" Buffy cried out, laughing hard now. When her laughter finally died down, she gazed at Amy out of the corner of her eye and said, "Thanks."
"No problem," Amy replied easily. Studying Buffy closely, she asked quietly, "Why did you do it?"
"What? Act like such a bitch?" asked Buffy wryly. When Amy gave a low nod, Buffy sighed then said, "Being a Slayer has made my life into a living hell, Amy, but at the same time... it made me into a better person and showed me everything that was wrong with my life before. Then I find out that I'm not the Slayer. I'm a Slayer. The job isn't even mine really and everything I've lost, everything that I've gained, has all been by accident." She paused to look Amy in the eyes and said, "That shakes a person up."
"Do you want to be a Slayer?" asked Amy.
Considering this, Buffy murmured, "I don't know. I don't have much choice in it, I suppose. It's something that I was born into. Even if I'm not the original chosen one."
"Faith loves being a Slayer," said Amy softly. "I think it's because her life wasn't so good before she came here. Before Giles found her. Xander says that her Mom wasn't the nicest person... sort of like his parents, I guess, and Faith was always taught that she was, well, worthless. Then along comes Mr. Giles and he tells her that she's anything but. That she's important to him, the Watchers Council, and all of mankind itself. Plus she has this job. This reason to be alive, to be needed, to be loved."
"I... I never thought of it that way," Buffy said in tones that were laced with surprise. "For me, being a Slayer has always caused more problems than solve them. My life wasn't perfect before I was called but it was a hell of a lot calmer."
"But is calmer really best?" asked Amy, her sky blue eyes solemn and full of truth as they locked with the other blonde's. "Ignorance can't be bliss in our case. If you could go back to your old life, the way things used to be, it wouldn't take away your memories or your knowledge of what's out there. That threat to humanity." She paused to reach out and hold Buffy's hand in her own and then said in quiet tones full of resolve, "We need you, Buffy. Not just because you're a Slayer but because you know what's going on. You understand."
"You think that I understand?" Buffy echoed in tear filled tones.
"I know that you do," Amy replied.
Averting her eyes, Buffy gave a choked sob and tilted her head back to look up at the beautiful sky above and murmured, "All right. You have me."
"Really?!" exclaimed Amy.
"Really," Buffy chuckled and gave a nod.
"This is great!" Amy cried out as she jumped to her feet. "Now all we need to do is tell the others and..."
Watching Amy trail off, Buffy frowned and asked, "What is it? Is something the matter?"
"You could say that," said Amy wryly. Turning to face Buffy, she gave a sheepish laugh then said, "I have no idea about how we can patch things up with you and Faith. She's... well... she's... uh..."
"A tough cookie?" Buffy offered.
"The toughest," Amy said in wary tones.
"Don't worry," said Buffy as she rose to her feet and offered her new friend a reassuring smile. "I'm sure that I can work things out with her somehow."
Though she returned Buffy's smile, Amy wasn't as confident as she appeared about the Slayer's statement.
Because this was Faith, after all. And the only person that she really listened to was--
Suddenly Amy's smile grew infinitely wider. Maybe things would work out after all.
"This is a real nice cliff, sweets," Faith commented as she leaned over to look down it. Turning to face the taller girl, she smirked and said, "You sure that you didn't bring me here to push me off of it?"
"Funny," said Cordelia sardonically. Taking a step forward, she wrapped her arms around Faith's waist and leaned down to whisper in her ear, "We're here to look at the view. It's my favorite in the whole town. Probably my favorite in the whole world. I like to come up here to be by myself and to think about things."
"That right?" murmured Faith, leaning back into Cordelia's embrace and sighing quietly. "So what do you usually think about when you're up here?"
"Life, love, my wardrobe," Cordelia chuckled. Kissing the back of Faith's neck, she said, "It's more like what I want you to think about while we're here."
"Yeah? And what's that?" Faith asked.
"Buffy," replied Cordelia.
Shifting in Cordelia's arms so she could look up into hazel eyes, Faith asked, "Why would I wanna think about her, huh?"
"Just think about what being a Slayer has been like for her," said Cordelia in quiet, soothing, tones. "Didn't Giles say that a lot of bad stuff happened because of it? She lost all of her friends at school, her Watcher died, she got a bunch of criminal charges pressed against her, and her parents got divorced. Can you see how that might make her a little against the job?"
"Yeah... I can," said Faith slowly. "But that doesn't mean that she can just treat it so lightly. Or act like it's not something worth doing. Sure a lotta bad stuff can happen from being a Slayer but it's worth it to save the world. Us being Slayers is bigger than me and her, sweets. It's not about us, it's about everyone else. It's about protecting and saving the world."
"Buffy doesn't see it that way," said Cordelia, holding Faith closer to her. "But maybe if you talked to her... explained how you feel about things, she might understand the situation better."
"You think?" asked Faith uncertainly.
"I think," Cordelia nodded, kissing Faith's jaw lightly. "And I know that you can do whatever you put your mind to."
"That right?" Faith drawled, turning around in Cordelia's arms to face the other girl. "And what if I put my mind to making love to you right here and now?"
"I don't think that I'd have a problem with that," replied Cordelia with an easy smile that hid the excitement rising in her system extremely well.
"You don't, huh?" asked Faith as she pulled Cordelia to her and rested their lips inches apart. And before she kissed Cordelia with all of the passion that she felt inside of her, she murmured, "I guess that's good for me."
And as the couple kissed the world seemed to disappear around them, leaving them totally at peace.
Because all it takes to achieve peace is a little understanding. And that was something they both had.
Now if just Buffy and Faith could achieve it.
Then everything would be absolutely perfect.
Or damn close to it.