The congregated members of the Watcher’s Council nodded solemnly.
One of them spoke "It’s the only way to keep her from hurting anyone else."
"Are we sure this is what we want to do? It’s quite a severe action to take," another voiced.
"It’s better than killing her. This way, she may have a chance."
She sat up in her bed, jolted out of a sound sleep by the sound of someone pounding on her door. She hurried to the door, peeking through the peephole to find two unfamiliar men in three-piece suits. She opened the door.
"Anya?" one of the men asked.
"We’d like you to do something for us…"
Faith turned off the TV. "Tae Bo, yeah whatever," she muttered to herself. She walked over and flopped down on the bed.
Suddenly the bed was cold, hard concrete. People and vampires were running in all directions. Hopping to her feet, she spotted Xander and Buffy across the warehouse, then watched as Buffy turned him to dust.
"What the fu—" turning to look around, she saw Oz and Willow, then watched as Oz threw Willow on a protruding plank of broken wood. Willow turned to dust. She looked back at Buffy, who was now in the hands of a bald, ugly vampire.
He had to be the Master. But hadn’t Buffy killed him once already? She watched as he twisted her neck. Buffy fell to the floor. Faith felt her blood boil. She charged through the sea of living and undead, straight for the Master. She knocked him to the ground. Several vamps pounced on Faith, but she fought them off easily, the sick feeling in her stomach making her invincible. Oz and Larry jumped in, staking a vamp here and there. Faith furiously threw a barrage of punches and kicks, cornering the Master against a large piece of machinery. She kicked a large shard of broken wood up into her hands, not taking her eyes off the Master. She staked him. He partially turned to dust, but his skeleton remained. As soon as the other vamps saw that Faith had dusted the Master, they ran for their lives. Faith absently wiped at the tears in her eyes as she knelt by Buffy’s body.
She held the lifeless slayer in her arms. "I’m sorry. Oh god, Buffy…" she sobbed, shamelessly. She damned herself for letting greed, power, pride, whatever, get between them. Buffy was dead. Faith didn’t understand how or why, but she knew it was her fault.
Anya cursed. "Damn you!"
The man apologized, "I-I’m sorry, my hand slipped. I only spilled a little."
Anya shook her head, silently noting the stupidity of some people. "It shouldn’t effect much of anything, lucky for you."
Faith gasped, pulling the blonde slayer tighter to her. "Buffy!"
Buffy opened her eyes and twisted out of the embrace, jumping into a fighting stance. "What the hell is going on?"
"Buffy? It’s me… Faith. You were… you were dead… and now…" Faith blinked though confused tears.
Oz approached the two slayers, "We need to get out of here." He nodded to Faith, "I don’t know who you are, but I know you’re one of us. Come on."
Giles opened the door, allowing the Whitehats to gain entry into his house. He looked disturbed.
"What’s wrong?" Larry asked, concerned.
Giles took off his glasses, rubbing his forehead. "We’re still here."
"Yeah, alive and well, I kinda like that," Oz replied.
Buffy crossed her arms. "I thought you said this world would change… or be gone… or whatever."
"That’s just the thing… I destroyed the necklace. Anyanka disappeared. But we’re still here." He finally noticed Faith, "Who’s this?"
"Faith. I’m a slayer."
Giles put his glasses back on. "That’s not possible. There’s only one…"
Faith thought a moment. "I think I know what’s going on. Or at least what happened."
Faith filled them in on the story of Anya and her necklace, part of which they already knew. She explained Anya’s attempt to retrieve the necklace and the experience of Naughty Willow.
Giles mulled over the information. "So, you’re saying that you’re from this other reality? That still doesn’t explain why this reality didn’t cease to exist when I destroyed the necklace."
"My guess? Someone on the other side found a way around it. They don’t seem to like me much over there."
"So they sent you here, so we could deal with you?" Buffy rolled her eyes. "Joy."
"Hey, she took out the Master. She can’t be all bad," defended Larry.
"You killed the Master?" Giles looked relieved.
"Yeah, right after he killed me, apparently." Buffy played with her crossbow.
Giles furrowed his eyebrows. "He killed you? Then how-" He looked at Faith.
"Hey, I have no idea what happened. But it happened in the other world, too. Buffy died, then she undied. That’s part of how I came around."
"You were the next slayer to be called?"
"No, some chick with a bad accent. Her name was Kendra, I think. Anyway, she got wasted sometime last year. Then I was called."
Giles stroked his chin. "Two slayers. Very interesting."
"I hate to break up this information party," Oz interrupted, "but we’ve got to decide what we’re doing next. Faith killed the Master, but that doesn’t mean much."
"Good point. Things should slow down for a while, but I don’t know for how long," Giles pondered, "I think we’re safe for the night, though."
"Great. Free time. I’m gonna go to Disneyland." Buffy headed for the door.
"Wait, B," Faith stopped her.
"Yes, F?" Buffy replied, impatient.
"Uh, don’t you think we should stick around and see what needs to be done?"
"We? You can do whatever the hell you want. I’m going." She turned to Giles, "I’ll check back in a few days. Just in case anyone decided to stick it’s teeth anywhere it’s not supposed to."
Giles nodded. "Very well, then. Everyone go home, it’s nearly dawn, anyway."
Oz and Larry agreed and followed Buffy out the door.
Faith hesitated. "Giles?"
"I’m sorry I screwed up."
"Faith, it’s not your fault you’re here. At least you killed the Master. Maybe things will get better from this point," assured Giles.
"I meant- never mind. Yeah, maybe things will get better." Faith turned toward the door.
"You have a place to stay?"
"I’ll be all right." She slipped out the door.
Buffy shuffled down the sidewalk. She had died. But she was alive. It was kinda weird.
She stopped, listening to the sound of footsteps behind her. "Whoever you are, I’m not in the mood." She turned, expecting a vamp, but finding a slayer.
"I just wanted to talk."
"About?" Buffy resumed walking.
Faith caught up to her. "About us. I mean, um, us slaying. We make a good team."
"Maybe in your world. Here, I work alone."
"But I—forget it. You’re right." Faith stopped walking.
Buffy kept up her pace for a few more strides, then stopped. "All right, look, and I’m only saying this because you took out that Master vamp and you seem to be a pretty kick ass slayer from another world, but if you need a place to crash, just for now, you can come with me."
"Yeah. But make up your mind before I change mine."
Faith didn’t need to think twice. "Okay, I’ll take it."
Buffy began walking, again. "It’s this way."
They rounded the corner to the motel Faith had called home for the last few months.
"You’re staying here?"
"Yeah. What, not classy enough for you?"
"Nah, it’s fine."
Buffy walked straight to room number 3. She slid the key in the lock. She attempted to turn the knob. It was stuck.
Faith reached over and gave it a complex combination of yanks and jiggles. It turned.
Faith stepped back. "It, uh, sticks sometimes."
Buffy glanced at Faith, in disbelief. Then she entered the room, followed by Faith, who shut the door. The room was the same as it had been in her world, minus all her stuff.
Buffy tossed her a blanket and a pillow. "Floor’s all yours."
The floor. Faith sighed, inwardly. She hadn’t ever slept on the floor in the same room as Buffy, except for that one time that Buffy got mad at her for telling Xander about one of their post-slayage moments. And that only lasted forty-five minutes. "Thanks."
Buffy disappeared into the bathroom. Faith took off her jacket and boots. She found a clean spot of the floor and set up camp. Covering herself with the blanket, she lie there, thinking about her world. The world she had fucked up. The world where she’d had everything she needed and went looking for more. The world where she had Buffy... and then let her down.
Faith awoke out of a surprisingly deep sleep. Though the curtains were drawn, the room was full of light. It had to be midday. Faith checked her watch. It was 1230. She sat up. Buffy wasn’t in bed. The room was silent. Faith got up and headed into the bathroom. There was a note on the mirror.
Faith– I’ll be back later. –Buffy
At least she’d left a note. In the back of her mind, Faith noted the dismal fact that, in this world, the "I" in her name wasn’t dotted with a little heart.
Not sure how this Buffy would take to her using the shower, she settled on washing up at the sink. She folded the blanket and placed it, along with the pillow, neatly in the corner. Absently, she turned on the TV.
"Figures. Everything’s different here, but this TV still sucks," she muttered to herself.
She had no idea when Buffy would be back, but she didn’t want to stay penned up in the motel room. It was lonely and all too familiar. She decided to leave a note and just hope that when she came back Buffy would be there and decide to let her in.
Giles sat in the library office, flipping through one of many dusty, musty books.
A voice came from the doorway. "There’s the Giles I know and love. Well, know, anyway."
Startled, Giles looked up, "Oh, Faith. Come in. I trust you found a place to stay, last night?’
"Yeah, Buffy let me stay at my- her place."
He turned back to his book. "Glad to hear it."
Faith stood there, watching him read the book as if he’d never seen anything like it before. "Whatchya readin’?"
"Um," he flipped the book shut and glanced at the binding, "Watcher’s Diaries of Slayer Encounters."
"You like that one."
"I do?" He opened it again. "Hmmm… well, it is quite a read."
"Am I interrupting some special otherworldly slayer and undercover watcher party?" Buffy inquired from the doorway.
Giles glanced at her. "Oh, Buffy. Please, come in."
Buffy sauntered into the office and leaned against the filing cabinet. She ogled the stack of books on the desk. "Real bookworm, huh? I guess you’d have to be, in a place like this."
"I was trying to find more information about the Master." Giles leaned back in his chair. "I really have no idea how his death will affect the remaining vampires."
Buffy began drawing designs in the dust on top of the filing cabinet.
"Well, the story goes that after Buffy killed him, things were quiet for the whole summer afterward." Faith thought a moment. "And then there’s those times where we all start doing things and it seems like we’ve done them before. Anyway, the vamps died down. Then they tried to resurrect the Master."
"How do you resurrect a vamp? Generally, you stake, they die and poof, nothin’," Buffy asked, not even looking up from her dusty art endeavor.
"I recall reading something…" Giles pulled another book out of the stack and opened it. "Yes, here. A ritual involving his bones."
Faith nodded. "That’s right! When I staked him last night, he didn’t entirely, you know…"
"Poof?" Buffy suggested.
"Well, then we must retrieve the bones and bury them, taking every precaution." Giles rose from his chair.
He exited the office. Faith began to follow him.
"Faith, hold on." Buffy motioned for her to wait.
Faith turned. "Yeah?"
Buffy brushed the dust off her hands. "You said they _tried_ to resurrect the Master in your world."
Faith leaned against the door frame. "Yeah. They never made it because you threw down some serious shit."
"I did?" Buffy seemed surprised.
"B, your name stakes fear into the hearts of many where I’m from."
"Yeah, well," Buffy moved toward the door, "that’s there."
The watcher and the slayers piled into Giles’ bucket of bolts.
"Wait, wait, don’t tell me," Buffy began, "In your world, Geeves here drives a Beemer."
"Nope," replied Faith from the backseat, "he drives this… thing."
Buffy shrugged. "I guess no world can be perfect."
"It’s a perfectly fine automobile," Giles defended. The car backfired.
They pulled up in front of the abandoned warehouse. From the outside you couldn’t tell that world’s had collided inside the night before.
"All right, we’re to get the remains and leave before sundown, just as a precaution. That gives us about an hour." Giles grabbed a large burlap bag.
The trio exited the car and headed for the building. Faith noticed that Buffy walked differently in this world. The walk, the talk, the look… so different from the Buffy she knew, yet somehow, so much the same. She was more than just Buffy. She was Tomb Raider Buffy. Faith giggled at the thought, despite herself.
Buffy gave her a sideways glance. "Something funny?"
"Um, no Tomb Ra—er, Buffy. Just thinking about something."
Buffy rolled her eyes and kicked open the door to the warehouse. They moved with the efficiency and speed of federal agents.
"I killed him over there," Faith pointed to the other side of the warehouse.
Buffy pointed to a spot on the ground. "He killed me right here. Just so you know, Geev— Giles."
Giles nodded, taking mental note.
They approached the skeleton. Giles looked at the bag, then back at the skeleton. It was gonna be a tight fit. Faith scratched her eyebrow. "Maybe if we fold it."
Buffy gave the bony framework a solid sidekick. It broke into several pieces.
The blonde flipped her braid behind her. "Always compact your trash."
The sun was hitting the horizon as Giles pulled into the school parking lot. He pulled the bag of bones out of the car and lugged it into the high school.
"So, what now?" Buffy asked, as they walked through the hallway.
The entered the library.
"I’ll keep these here tonight," Giles dropped the bag in the library cage. "And tomorrow I’ll have Oz and Larry give me a hand in burying them."
"So, we’re done here?" the shorter slayer asked.
"Yes, Giles nodded. "Thank you for your help."
Buffy turned to Faith, "I’m gonna grab grub. You can come if you want."
"Uh, yeah, sure." Faith followed Buffy out the double doors.
They silently strolled through the locker lined hallway. Faith stopped in front of a locker. After a few steps, Buffy turned to see what was keeping Faith.
Faith had a sad smile on her face. "This one was yours." She nodded down the hall, "Will’s was that way. And Xander’s was down there somewhere."
"Will and Xander?" Buffy had no idea what Faith was talking about. "Boyfriends or something?"
"No. Willow was a girl and Xander was never a boyfriend. Just friends. Good ones." Then she muttered, "Better than I was."
"Did you, like, screw me or something?"
The question caught Faith off guard. "I’m sorry?"
"You keep talking like you fucked things up over on your side of the universe. I just wondered if you screwed me over."
"Oh. Um… I messed up back there. Some bad stuff went down and I made the wrong choice."
Buffy nodded, slowly, as if she understood. Then she began to move down the hallway. Faith slowly shuffled behind her, hands in her pockets, trying to get a grip on this reality, because right now, it was the only one she had.
The Sunnydale Pizza Kitchen was fairly empty. A few people occupied a table on one side of the restaurant. Faith and Buffy sat in the corner booth.
Buffy tapped her foot, impatiently, waiting for their pizza. "And so, they said there was something going on in Sunnydale, so I hopped on the next Greyhound and found myself in the pit of Hell."
"Mouth," Faith corrected.
"Of Hell. Sunnydale’s the Hellmouth."
"Well, whatever. It’s Hell. So, why’d you stick around Sunnyhell? I mean, you slay, you play, you go away. Isn’t that the game?"
Faith had a few dozen stories on hand, from slaying naked to reptile wrestling, but only one seemed relevant. "I stayed because of you."
"Me?" Buffy scoffed. "Why me?"
Faith studied Buffy. She was particularly drawn to the scar over Buffy’s lip. Buffy could feel Faith’s eyes.
She absently touched the scar. "Bad experience with an angry demon."
Suddenly, Faith lifted her leg onto the table, rolling up the bottom of her right pant leg, revealing a scar on her calf.
The two most likely would have begun removing articles of clothing to compare battle scars, but the pizza arrived. The slayers dove into the food, like starving animals.
"You know," Buffy said, between bites, "I’ve never had anyone to ask this before, because no one else really knows, because, well, there’s only supposed to be one slayer… but have you ever noticed that slaying always just makes you hungry a-"
"And horny?" Faith finished.
Buffy’s right eye twitched. "Exactly."
They continued eating.
"I figure you screwed my royally in the other world. I mean, you just sound guilty about it all. But here’s the deal… since you totally avenged my death, and your being here somehow has to do with the fact that I'm still kickin', you must be all right."
Faith set her pizza down. "I set you up, let you down and maybe even tried to kill you. All for no reason. You were nothing but good to me."
Buffy cocked her head, contemplating what Faith had just said "Yeah, but there’s a reason why you didn’t take me out, fully."
"How do you know?"
"Slayer’s instinct I guess. Look, Faith, I don’t trust people. They’ll screw with you and leave you for vampire feed. But for some reason, I feel like you’re different."
Faith stared at the table, knowing that if she looked up, tears would find a way to fall. "You shouldn’t trust me." She pulled some money out of her pocket and tossed it on the table as she rose from her seat and slipped out the door.
As soon as she hit the sidewalk, she was sobbing uncontrollably. She rounded the corner, leaned against the alley wall and cried. For every second she had wronged Buffy, there were twice as many tears. She felt a hand on her shoulder.
"Hey," Buffy handed her a napkin, "I thought you could use this."
Faith sniffed, accepting the napkin. "I’m sorry."
"Look, whatever happened back there, it’s done. It doesn’t matter here."
Faith blew her nose. "But it’s just th-"
"It’s just nothing. Things are different here, Faith. Whatever happened there, DIDN’T happen here."
Faith took a deep breath. There were some things that she wished weren’t different. "You’re right. And I’m sorry for making you watch me freak out."
Buffy smiled, slightly. "It’s okay. Sometimes freaking out is for the good, you know?"
Faith nodded. Buffy eye’s lingered on Faith’s for a short moment. And for that moment, Faith caught a glimmer of something familiar, that she hadn’t seen since all the trouble with Buffy began. They both looked away.
Buffy motioned toward the pizza place. "Come on, pizza’s getting cold."
Faith gave a half smile and walked back into the restaurant with the other slayer.
The blonde and the brunette exited the Sunnydale WalMart. Lucky for Faith there was a red tag sale on tank tops and Looney Tunes underwear. They rounded the corner of Main Street to find two vamps heading toward them.
Buffy rolled her eyes. "Just what I SO do not need tonight."
She lunged at one of the vamps. He dodged her, but she quickly swung back around and caught him off-balance with sweep to the back of his legs. The other vamp charged Faith. She ducked out of the way at the last second, sending him rolling across the sidewalk. She kicked him. Buffy knocked the other vampire over. She pulled a stake out of her jacket and staked him. She tossed the stake to Faith. As she went to catch it, the vamp on the ground grabbed her leg, tripping her. Faith stumbled into the street. As she hit the ground, she chucked the stake and the vamp as he jumped to his feet. Catching him in the chest, he exploded into a pile of dust.
Buffy rushed to Faith, helping her up. "You okay?"
"Yeah, I’m fi- FUCK!"
"You’re fuck? That’s new."
"My ankle," Faith cringed, trying to put weight on her right ankle,"-is fucked. Fucking fuck."
Buffy positioned herself at Faith’s side, letting Faith lean on her. "This game is called, ‘How many times can Faith use the work fuck in sixty seconds?’"
"Very fucking funny."
Faith hobbled into the hotel room, Buffy at her side. Buffy shut the door. Faith headed toward her corner on the floor.
Buffy crossed her arms. "Where are you going?"
"Um, my bed?"
"Uh uh. Injured slayer gets the bed. It’s written somewhere, I’m positive. I’ll take the floor. You need to prop that bad boy."
Buffy disappeared in to the bathroom.
Faith was in too much pain to argue. She sat down on the bed. Buffy reappeared and tossed Faith a bottle of Advil.
She grabbed the ice bucket. "Stay." She vanished out the door. Faith took of her jacket at tossed it at "her" corner. She opened the WalMart bag, glad to have clean underwear. Especially ones with Marvin the Martian on them. She pulled her pants off, as carefully as possible and changed what clothes she could. The pants were too hard to get back on, so she just covered her lower half with the sheet. But then she had to prop up her ankle, so she was only half under the sheet. She leaned back against the pillows. They smelled like Buffy. Even in this world, the low rent motel only had maid service once a week. She opened the bottle of Advil and swallowed two of the painkillers.
Buffy came back into the room, full ice bucket in hand. She grabbed a towel from the bathroom and wrapped the ice in it. Faith winced as Buffy put the ice pack on her ankle.
"Now that I have you half naked and injured in my bed, I’m going to watch TV." Buffy flipped on the TV set and sat on the bed next to Faith.
"This was all part of your plan, wasn’t it?" Faith teased.
"Yes. I seduce attractive slayers by injuring them and making them stay in skanky hotel rooms with me."
They laughed, then watched the TV in silence.
Buffy broke the silent state. "Faith? Can I ask you something?"
"Were you and me… nevermind, it’s stupid."
"Were you and me what?"
"Nothing. Forget it."
They both pretended to focus their attention of the television. Finally, Buffy got up and turned off the television and the light.
"You can sleep here, I don’t mind."
"All right. If you’re sure."
Buffy climbed back onto the bed and slipped under the covers.
"We were… good together."
"Yeah, you said that. You kicked vampire ass."
"No, I mean… we were more than that."
Buffy turned toward Faith. "Like how?"
Faith sat up, but didn’t respond. After a minute, Buffy realized she was crying.
Finally, Faith spoke again. "I was so in love with you. And I don’t know why I did what I did. I had everything. I had you." She broke back down into tears.
"Shhh… it’s okay." Buffy sat up and wrapped her arms around Faith, hugging her. Buffy’s touch was painful, yet comforting. "Come on, get some sleep, for now."
Faith lay back down on the pillows. Buffy sat over her for a moment, studying the dark form of Faith’s body on the bed. Buffy absently wiped at the tear that ran down her own cheek. All she wanted to do was tell Faith. But she couldn’t. Not yet.
Faith woke up to Buffy wrapping her ankle in an ACE bandage. She glanced at the red glowing digits on the motel clock radio. It was 3:27.
"We should have done this earlier. I hope it’ll be okay."
Faith sat up. "I thought you said you didn’t have one?"
"I, uh, ran and got one." She fastened the ACE bandage with the metal hooks.
"At three in the morning?"
"I couldn’t sleep, anyway. I figured I’d do something productive."
Faith smiled to herself. It was just like Buffy to do things like this, apparently even in this world. Buffy wandered over to the dresser and picked up her brush. She sat on the edge of the bed, pulling her hair out of its long braid. Faith drifted back to sleep. Buffy finished brushing her hair and pulled it back into a loose ponytail. She looked over at Faith, who was sleeping, peacefully. Buffy lay next to Faith, propping herself up on her elbow and watching the brunette as she slept. She lightly ran her hand along Faith’s arm. The other slayer stirred in her sleep, clasping Buffy’s hand with her own. Buffy’s first reaction was to pull away, but instead, she left her hand in Faith’s and went to sleep.
Faith let the water wash over her. Buffy had practically forced her to take a shower. She rinsed the shampoo out of her hair, grabbing at the wall to maintain her balance, since her ankle was still killing her. Buffy knocked on the door, then entered the steamy bathroom, just as Faith shut off the water.
"Here’s the towels. Sorry, I should have thought of them before." She set them on the edge sink.
Buffy slipped back out of the bathroom. The door never did shut all the way, but she closed it as much as she could. She stood over by the mirror, and began putting on her eyeliner. The mirror was positioned directly across from the crack in the bathroom door, giving Buffy a glimpse of Faith’s naked body. After several seconds, Buffy realized what she was doing and turned away. A few minutes later, Faith hobbled out of the bathroom looking clean and feeling refreshed. She sat on the bed and looked at her ankle. It was swollen. Buffy cringed at the sight of it and grabbed the ACE bandage.
"Doctor Buffy says no outside fun for you today." Buffy began to tightly wrap Faith’s ankle.
"Nope. I called Giles. He said things should be fairly calm for now and he and the Whitehats will kill anything that needs killing."
"So, what, am I supposed to sit here trapped in this room by myself all day?" Although, that really would be no different than life when she had first come to Sunnydale.
"I’ll be here. But I have to run out and get food. If you want to eat, that is."
"Hmmm, well, I guess I can stand the isolation for short periods of time," Faith teased.
"Okay, then. I’ll be back in a few." Buffy grabbed her jacket.
Faith watched her head for the door, then spoke. "Why are you being so nice to me?"
Buffy was silent, thinking it over. "It’s just a slayer thing, I guess."
The doughnut box was nearly empty and the small bottles of SunnyD had only traces of the citrus punch left inside.
"Do you have any," Buffy studied the lone card in her hand, "threes?"
Faith gave her a smug look. "Go. Fish."
Buffy drew a card. "HA!" She slapped a pair of threes down on the bed. "I. Win."
"Doesn’t the person who has the most pairs win?"
"I don’t know. I don’t remember."
"Me either. Let’s play something else."
Faith smiled. "Now you’re talkin’."
"What are we betting with?" Buffy looked around the room. "We could use the- no we ate all those. We could use the- hmmm… we ate all those, too."
"What about strip poker?"
"We could-" There was a knock at the door. "Pizza’s here."
Faith sighed. Oh well, strip poker was sure to come up again.
"Okay, now she joined her when she saved her from these warlords that were taking over her village," Faith explained, pointing to the TV.
"But then Xena didn’t want her to come with her, right?" Buffy inquired.
"I cannot believe I’ve never really watched this before. It’s great. All the violence and leather."
Faith chuckled. "That’s what you always say."
Suddenly, the power went out.
"Dammit!" Buffy grumbled.
"Well, since it’s dark, I’ve got just the thing."
Buffy made her way to the dresser and dug around in the top drawer until she found what she was looking for. She pulled it out of the drawer, running her hand along the long, smooth, cylindrical shape. She set it on the dresser and lit it. Since it was in front of the mirror, the large candle lit up the room fairly well.
Buffy sat back down on the bed. "Well, now we can kind of see everything that we can’t do."
"Normally, I’d say we could train or something, but, well, that’s out."
"We could pretend we’re in junior high and either thumb wrestle or play truth or dare."
Faith snickered. "Why not both? Whoever loses the round has to do a truth or dare."
"Okay. And do you realize how incredibly desperate we are?"
Faith shrugged and held out her hand. Buffy locked her hand with Faith and they engaged in full-fledged slayer thumb war.
Eventually, Buffy won the round. "Truth? Or Dare?"
"Since my dare capabilities are limited, I’ll go with truth. For now."
"Was I prettier in your world?"
"Was I prettier? I mean, I know I must have been different. Not so used up." Buffy’s hand automatically went to the scar on her lip.
"Hey," Faith said softly, "You’re not used up. Far from it."
"But I’m not as pretty as she was, right. I mean, the Buffy that had you." Buffy fiddled with the pocket of her cargo pants. "Why else would you want her, but not me?"
Faith peered at Buffy in the candlelight. "Is that what this is about?"
"Nevermind. Forget it. Come on, round two."
Faith grabbed Buffy’s hand and easily won the second round. "Is that what this is about?"
"I could’ve picked dare, you know. But, yes." Buffy took Faith on in another round. She won. "How come you never made a move on me?"
"Because I’d just totally fucked up things with you before and I wasn’t about to do it again."
Buffy won again. "So how-"
Faith interrupted. "Wait, I pick dare."
"Okay. I dare you to tell me how come you-"
"You can’t dare someone to tell you something. That’s the same as truth."
"Says Mr. Truth or Dare, that’s who."
Buffy pouted. "Fine. I dare you to kiss me."
Faith raised her eyebrows. She leaned over and carefully kissed Buffy on the cheek.
Buffy smirked. "Nice save."
Faith won this time. "Truth. Or. Dare."
Buffy seriously thought it over, knowing that either one could get her in trouble. "Truth."
"Why are you so concerned about it?"
Buffy’s face fell. "Why aren’t you concerned about it?"
"I asked first."
"I asked second."
"Come on, B, rules are rules."
Buffy sighed. "Ever since you showed up here, there’s been something about you. The way you’re always talking about ‘Buffy this’ and ‘Buffy that’, like she was the greatest thing ever."
Faith thought about the things she had said to Buffy at Angel’s, how she couldn’t stand the way everyone talked about how great Buffy was. And here she was, doing the very thing she claimed she hated. "You are the greatest thing ever. Especially now. This world needs you they same way mine did… does."
"Yeah, but I’ll never be that Buffy."
"No one’s asking you to be that Buffy. And maybe this Buffy is better than that Buffy when it comes to this world." Faith put her hand on Buffy’s arm. "There’s a reason why you didn’t stay dead, B. Maybe it was an accident, maybe it was fate, I don’t know. But what really matters is that you’re here to do the damage." She gave Buffy a half smile. "And the reason I never made a move on you was because I didn’t know if you’d be up for it."
Buffy looked up with a small smile. She grabbed Faith’s hand that was resting on her arm, starting another round of the thumb war. But rather than playing the game, Faith just pulled Buffy closer to her, her eyes studying the scar Buffy thought detracted from her appearance. Buffy closed the space between them, bringing her lips to the other girl’s, kissing her hesitantly. Faith returned the kiss with no apologies, reassuring the blonde that it was okay.
They pulled apart.
The moment was interrupted by the sound of a laugh track. The lights came back on. The slayers laughed quietly.
Buffy explored Faith’s brown eyes. "She was lucky. To have you."
Faith shook her head. "I was the lucky one. Still am. And I swear to you, right now, that I’ll never do anything like I did. I’m taking this as a chance to try again. Things will be better this time."
Buffy leaned back toward the other slayer. "Well, I‘ve got faith in you, Faith," she whispered.
The phone rang. Buffy picked it up. "Hello? Oh. Ah. I see. Right. Okay. Bye."
"What was that?"
"Giles says he’s sorry about the power outage. Oz got carried away digging the hole and hit something vital. But they fixed it."
"I noticed." Faith shifted her position on the bed. Her ankle felt better.
Maybe it was her quick healing slayer status. Maybe it was the fact that she had Buffy again. Either way, things were looking up.