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Crisis of Faith

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The sun wakes Faith up, warm rays striped across her closed eyelids. It’s kinda her own fault for leaving Dawn’s blinds open, but she still curses under her breath anyway, rolling out of bed and moving to shut them. Unfortunately, she’s up now, her brain shaking itself from the cobwebs of sleep and already refusing to lay back down. She’s awake, much as she really doesn’t want to be, so she decides to go downstairs and start breakfast. 

As she moves through the hallway, she senses Buffy and Dawn in Buffy’s room, and she can see the shattered bathroom doorknob laying on the carpet. She kicks it out of the way with one sock-clad foot, figuring that’s a problem she’ll deal with later. Well, actually, since Buffy was the one to break it, she really should be the one to fix it. Her mind starts to wander, to remind her of her unexpected shower companion last night, but Faith pushes the memories from her mind before she doesn’t something stupid like get distracted and fall down the stairs. She does notice that there’s no sensation from Willow’s room, no prickles on the back of her neck that tell her a witch is near. It’s empty, the absence feeling strange. Kind of like when you lose a tooth, and nothing quite feels right around it. Not that Faith has lost a tooth in a while, but she figures it feels about the same. 

The kitchen is bathed in the same glow as Dawn’s room was, but Faith doesn’t bother to close the blinds this time. It helps to be able to see while she’s cooking. 

Faith pours herself a glass of juice and climbs onto the kitchen island. Her feet bump against the cabinet as she thinks, turning over Buffy’s words from last night in her mind. What on earth could the other Slayer possibly have meant? Of course she’s real. She’s a person, a Slayer, and a badass. There’s gotta be something she’s missing here. 

“How many times do I have to tell you to get off the counter?” Buffy’s voice behind her is just loud enough to startle Faith from her thoughts, but not quite enough to make her jump. Still facing away from the door, she grins. 

“A few,” she sips her juice again. “But one more can’t hurt.” 

“Get off the counter,” Buffy says predictably, though her tone doesn't hold any venom. She rounds the kitchen to brush past Faith’s knee, nudging it with a pointed glance. Faith’s too busy reveling in the touch to argue, and she slides off the counter without protest. 

“Hey, B,” Faith starts, not really sure where the sentence is going to end up. Buffy’s head is in the fridge, probably searching for the juice carton that Faith’s just emptied, and she makes a noncommittal hum in response. 

“What makes you think you’re a zombie?” 

There’s really no dancing around the point, none of their trademark Faith-and-Buffy avoidance going on. It’s straight up, and Faith can tell she’s surprised the other Slayer by the way that Buffy straightens her spine immediately. 

“It’s nothing,” she shrugs, and Faith watches the muscles of her shoulders ripple from where they’re peeking out of her pyjama top. 

“Liar,” Faith leans against the kitchen island. “Something’s got you major wigged. What’s the deal?”

Buffy turns to look at her, eyes wide and scared. Faith is shocked enough by the expression that she drops the subject and waits in a stunned kind of silence. The blonde opens her mouth, like she’s about to say something, but she’s cut off by Dawn’s voice and the sound of a kitchen chair scraping against the linoleum. 

“What’s up?” 

Buffy doesn’t exactly look like she’s in any kind of mental state to answer, so Faith speaks instead. 

“Not a lot, Pipsqueak,” she turns to look at the younger brunette. “Whaddya want for breakfast?”

“Pancakes?” Dawn’s expression is so hopeful, so much like her sister, that Faith just can’t say no. Plus, when she looks over at Buffy, the blonde’s expression looks almost like gratefulness, and Faith can live with that. 

 

Dawn’s eaten three bunny pancakes and is in the middle of her fourth when there’s a noise from the back deck. It’s loud enough to make both her and Buffy snap to attention, Faith wielding the spatula like a weapon as she tries to figure out who it could be. A half-second before the back door opens, she registers it as Willow and Amy, and she watches Buffy’s tense shoulders fall as the other Slayer comes to the same realisation. 

“Willow!” Dawn exclaims as the redhead enters. She’s giggly, like she’s drunk, but there’s a weird kind of feeling rolling off the two of them. It’s like there’s magic seeping from their very pores, and it makes Faith immediately uncomfortable. Willow was supposed to be getting better, not staying out all night doing magic shit with her ex-rat friend. If she was a dog, there’d definitely be hackles prickling on the back of her neck. As it is, she can feel a low growl building behind her ribs. 

“How was your night?” Dawn continues, and Faith wishes she had just a sliver of the teen’s innocence. 

“You should have seen Willow,” Amy starts, and Faith feels the growling sensation intensify. She hasn’t trusted this woman from the second she stopped being a rat, and now doesn’t feel any different. “She was on fire. Well, not literally, but there was so much cool stuff. She was putting these boys in cages and making them dance, and then there was this band. Oh, and she put everyone in the Bronze in these really cool costumes and-”

Faith tunes out the rest of her rant, choosing instead to focus on Willow’s face. The redhead at least has the decency to look sheepish, hair falling across her cheek as she ducks her head from Faith’s view. 

“Dawn,” Faith says, her word cutting through Amy’s rambling like butter. The other brunette turns to look at her. “It’s time for school.” 

Normally the argument to get Dawn to go to school is long and drawn out, but there must be something in Faith’s tone today that leaves no room for discussion. Instead, the teen gets up, abandoning a half-eaten bunny pancake, and dashes upstairs. 

“Get some rest, Red,” Faith switches off the stove, putting her spatula to one side. She’ll deal with the dishes later. Then she turns around and meets Amy’s eyes. Jerking her chin in the direction of the kitchen door, she heads out of the room and expects the witch will follow. 

The small room off the kitchen is kind of empty, but it’s the perfect size for Faith to whirl on her heel and stare Amy down. The other woman looks shocked, but then tilts up her chin defiantly. 

“You need to stay away from Willow,” Faith starts. It feels like she’s crossing some kind of line, but she can’t bring herself to care. This is Willow they’re talking about. The girl that Faith has tried to keep from going off the deep end, the one that Amy’s practically leading into the abyss by the hand. She puts on her deepest, scariest voice, honed from practice in prison. If you sound scary enough, no one will mess with you. Amy looks like she’s going to argue, but Faith keeps talking. “No. You need to leave. Leave this house right now.” Amy’s brow furrows, her mouth opening again, but Faith holds up a hand this time. She’s not having someone jeapordise Willow’s life like this. That darkness is just waiting to swallow her whole, and Faith’s not about to let some ex-rat straight up feed her to it. 

“If you don’t get your skinny ass out of this house in the next five minutes, you’ll be back in that rat cage,” she threatens, thankful that Buffy and Dawn aren’t here to hear her. She’s not proud of resorting to threats of violence, but it feels like it has to be done to protect Red. “I might not know magic, but I’m pretty sure I can make you fit.”

Amy swallows audibly, eyes drifting to where Faith’s fists are balled at her sides. The brunette knows that her muscles are tense, biceps straining from the effort of not punching the rogue witch in the face, and she probably looks downright terrifying right now. It works, though, because Amy scampers off without another word and she hears the front door slam a moment later. Faith lets out a breath the way Angel taught her, releasing the tension from the muscles, and goes back to the kitchen to clean up. Buffy’s still sitting at the counter, Dawn’s leftover bunny pancake suspiciously missing. 

“You could have just asked her to leave,” Buffy says from her stool while Faith clears the dishes. 

She shrugs. “What’s done is done.”

There’s a moment of silence, the only sound being the running tap as she fills the sink. Then, so quietly Faith thinks she could miss it, there’s a very soft voice from behind her. 

“Thank you for looking out for Willow.”

When she turns around to respond, Buffy’s already gone. 

 

As Faith climbs the stairs, she can hear Dawn fussing around in her room as she gets ready for school. Buffy’s bedroom door is shut, and Faith really doesn’t want to open that particular can of worms, so she walks past it and straight to Willow’s room. The door is closed so she knocks, and there’s a faint noise of acknowledgement so she pushes it open. 

“How ya doing?” she props one shoulder against the doorframe and looks down at the witch sprawled across the bed. The curtains are still open, but so are her eyes, so Willow's obviously not sleeping. “Seems like your little playdate with the rat kinda used up all your energy.”

Willow looks up, an apology in her eyes. 

“She’s gone, Red. And if she knows what’s good for her, she’ll stay gone.”

“Why?” Willow asks, her voice cracking slightly. Even her eyes are closing as she talks, the words making their way over to Faith like they’re moving through honey. “We had fun. It was safe.”

“It wasn’t safe,” Faith walks forward a few steps to stand over Willow’s bed. The redhead looks up at her. “You gotta stop this whole magic deal. At least for a while.” 

“I can control it-”

“I thought so too,” Faith cuts her off. “I thought I could control myself. And guess how well that worked out for me?” A vivid memory, her knife against Willow’s neck a lifetime ago. Her hands shake, just once, and Willow’s eyes slide closed. She’s quiet for so long that Faith thinks she’s fallen asleep, so she turns to leave. 

“I’m scared,” the words are jagged, like they don’t belong. Like they’re a truth that doesn’t quite fit. 

“I know,” she replies, then continues out the door. 

 

Leaving Willow to sleep it off, they meet the rest of the gang at the Magic Box for yet another research party. Faith is beginning to wonder why she ever felt jealous of not being invited. If this is how often and how much they researched, she would much rather watch shitty daytime soaps in the motel alone than join in the Scooby fun. She tosses a quick greeting to Anya and Xander where they’re perched at the round table before moving into the back room. It’s the same as always, an empty space where Faith feels like she can let her frustrations loose. She runs through a warmup far quicker than Giles would normally let her - but he’s not here, so it doesn’t matter - and punches the bag for a while. Then she moves onto throwing some knives, and eventually some balance on the pommel horse. She has no idea how much time has passed, but her brain is full of nothing except her next move. It’s only when she’s lying on the mats, panting and spent, that her thoughts start to filter back in. The worries about Buffy, the concern over Willow. Anger towards Amy. She lets them wash over her, spreading her arms wide and staring at the ceiling. When did her life get this damn complicated? She doesn’t know if it’s supposed to be a good thing or not that there are so many moving parts to her life now, so many people she has to interact with and so many things to be concerned about. 

Before she can really register what she’s doing, she’s standing up and fetching the phone that’s mounted on the wall. Dialling Angel’s number from memory, she waits impatiently as the line rings. Where should she even start with this? She decides that it’s probably for the best if she leaves out the stuff about kissing Buffy and fucking her in a cemetery. That’s not really something he needs to hear, and she’s not entirely certain that she wants to share it. 

“Faith,” Angel greets, once she introduces herself. “How’s Sunnydale treating you?” 

“I’m five by five,” she answers automatically. “But hey, you’re good at digging addict out of holes, yeah?” There's probably a better way to start this conversation, but to hell with it. 

Angel’s pause is long. “I would say yes, I think so. Why? Is everything okay?” 

“It’s Red,” Faith answers. She tells him about Willow’s increasing magic use, and Tara leaving. She even tells Angel about when she’d caught Willow in the middle of a spell. Like always, he listens patiently while she relays her story in half-finished sentences and a lot of uncertainty. 

“That does sound like a problem, Faith.”

“That’s what I thought,” she agrees. “Cause like, I know she can handle herself and shit, but she’s heading towards some pretty dark stuff.”

“What would you like me to do?”

Faith shrugs, then remembers the vampire can’t see her. “Uh, I dunno. Call her? Work your funky voodoo magic like you did with me.”

His chuckle is deep and amused. “There was no voodoo, Faith. You did that work on your own.” 

Part of her wants to preen under his praise, but she tamps it down. 

“Yeah, well,” a pause. “Anyway. Just give her a call?” 

“I can do that,” his tone is so familiar, so sure. It makes her feel far more confident that she’s made the right decision. 

They say their goodbyes and hang up, with Faith promising to check in more often. She’s not sure how much of that last part is a lie, but there’s enough spinning around in her head that she can just let it go. Then she lies back down on the mats and closes her eyes. 

 

The rest of the day passes slowly. They find nothing on the ice demon, and there’s no news reports about anyone else turned into a human popsicle. With so little to go on, Anya just closes the shop and they all head home. Faith walks a few steps away from Buffy, putting some distance between them, and tries not to speak. It’s hard when all she wants to do is talk about what happened, why Buffy’s feeling this way. It also doesn’t help when the other Slayer turns to look at her, moonlight gleaming off her soft curls and a spark in her eye. All it does is make Faith want to kiss her, so she shoves her hands deeper into her pockets and tries not to think about the blonde. 

They pass Willow and Dawn on their way out of the house, and almost immediately the teen is ranting to her sister about how excited she is and giving a detailed description of the movie they’re going to see. Faith takes the opportunity to grab Willow gently by the elbow and lead her a few steps away. 

“You okay?” 

Willow’s expression is unreadable in the dull porch light. 

“I’m okay,” she flashes a grin, partly false but mostly real. Faith thinks she’s getting better at reading the witch. “Angel called this afternoon. Said he just wanted to chat, completely out of the blue, no ulterior motive whatsoever.”

The sparkle in the redhead’s eyes makes it clear that she doesn’t believe the excuse in the slightest, but if she’s not going to mention it then Faith isn’t either. 

“How nice of him,” she muses. “Must be a pretty good guy just to check up on you like that.” 

“He just wanted to see how I was going with my magic,” Willow almost rolls her eyes, and Faith watches her stop partway through. “I told him it’s hard.”

Faith gives a noncommittal hum. 

“I also told him I’d call him tomorrow as well,” she looks brighter at this, a little proud of herself, and Faith nudges her arm goodnaturedly. 

“Wicked.”

“Weirdly enough,” Willow’s expression relaxes a fraction, “Amy hasn’t been back either.” Faith tries to stop the pride shining on her face as the witch continues. “You wouldn’t have any idea why, would you?”

“Not a clue,” Faith says, then gestures that Willow should go meet up with Dawn, who is bouncing on her toes impatiently at the edge of the own. “Have a good night, yeah?” 

“Yeah,” Willow says, starting to walk away. Then, after just a moment, she looks back. “Thank you.” 

She’s gone before Faith can answer, and when the brunette turns to go into the house, Buffy’s already walking through the front door. 

 

Faith’s halfway through making dinner when her Slayer sense prickles the back of her neck. She can tell Buffy’s sensed it too, but it only takes a second before she can place the feeling. It’s Amy. 

The witch in question slowly opens the back door, and Faith meets her eyes. Clearly she wasn’t expecting anyone, as her eyes go almost comically wide when she catches the brunette’s gaze. 

“Fuck,” Faith swears under her breath, abandoning the half-cooked pasta to beeline out toward the back deck. Amy’s halfway across the porch by the time Faith gets outside, but she’s not fast enough. Faith grabs her by the bicep, spinning her around so they’re standing face to face in the crisp night air. Amy’s pupils are blown wide, almost taking up her entire eye, and Faith has to double take. Fuck, this looks bad. Whatever the hell Amy’s gotten wrapped up in, she better keep it far away from their house, and ever further away from Willow. 

“What are you doing?” Faith says, fingers tightening on Amy’s arm when she doesn’t answer. “I told you to not come back. You really wanna try and fit in that rat cage?” 

Amy flinches, words spilling from her lips. 

“There’s this guy, he’s really good, like really good, and I tried to take Willow. But she won’t come, said she’s trying to go good now, and I think y'know that’s probably because of you. Which is fine, it’s okay if she wants to go straight, a little boring but it’s okay. And she won’t need her things any more, since she’s trying to be so good. So I thought I’d take them off her hands.” 

Her babbling is as irritating as it is nonsensical, but Faith doesn’t care. All she knows is that this girl needs to leave. Like, now. 

“Find your own shit,” Faith all but tosses Amy down the back stairs. It’s not hard enough for her to fall, but it does make her stumble. The sight makes Faith feel powerful, but she quickly pushes the sensation away. This isn’t about her, and there’s no use getting all dark and murdery again when she’s trying so hard to keep Willow from going off the deep end. Amy scurries off into the night - is scurries an insensitive way to talk about an ex-rat? - and Faith turns to go back inside. 

 

They eat dinner in silence, and Faith’s a little surprised when Buffy comes to stand by her side at the sink afterwards. Dish towel in hand, she’s clearly ready to help, and Faith’s not going to question it. It makes her feel a little more normal, a little less like the woman she loves is slowly going crazy. 

“Hey,” she tries again, turning to face the blonde. The dishes are done now, but her hands are still damp from the sink water. 

“We should split up tonight,” Buffy cuts her off, and Faith’s so taken aback that she agrees without thinking. 

“I’ll take Restfield,” she adds on quickly. If they’re gonna split up, then she’s going to need someone to talk to about the hell of a day she’s had, and the shit going down with Buffy, so a visit to Spike is definitely on the cards. The blonde Slayer looks relieved, and Faith isn’t sure whether it’s because she’s agreed or because she offered to patrol Spike’s cemetery. Whatever it is, Faith doesn’t have much of a chance to ponder it before Buffy’s slipping off her stool, dropping her dishes in the sink and darting upstairs with the excuse of needing to get changed. 

Faith looks down at her black jeans and equally black tank top. 

Yeah, she can fight in this. 

 

The patrol is routine enough to let her mind wander. She dusts vamps mostly from muscle memory alone, her brain only half-aware of what’s happening. A couple of vampires nearly get in a lucky punch, and more than once she finds herself barely turning out of the way as a fist whizzes past her face. God, she’s definitely not paying attention tonight. There’s too much to worry about, and her head is full of thoughts of B. She’s still a person, still human even though it’s kind of covered up by years of trauma and coming back from the dead and the whole ‘deceased mother and now practically raising her little sister’ deal. Faith’s whole thing had been to try and help Buffy reconnect with herself, trying to help her be a human again. But if Buffy’s right, and she’s not human, what does that make her? Last night had felt different from when they’d kissed and when they’d had sex the first time. It wasn’t just about feeling any more, it was about affirmation that Buffy was here, was real, and was capable of being a human being. That went far beyond what Faith had signed up for, but she wasn’t planning on going anywhere. It was just a huge change. 

Deciding that musing over this herself isn’t going to do her any good, so she decides to go and pay Spike a visit. It was the reason she’d taken this side of town, after all, because she didn’t particularly want to go home and she wanted to see her friend. It’s strange to think of Spike as that, but he’s kind of the best she’d got right now. The only other one who would come close is Tara, who she hasn’t really connected with since the witch left. She makes a new mental list of things to do tomorrow, and puts ‘call Tara’ at the top. Sure, she’s been trying to look after Willow lately, but the brunette is probably struggling just as much. 

Restfield is quiet, only two newly risen vamps to dust on her way to Spike’s. The heavy crypt door swings open with a loud creak, and Faith pushes her way inside. There’s no light, only filtered moonbeams coming through the small windows. She supposes it makes sense that, in the home of a vampire, there’s not exactly a whole lot of opportunity for natural light. Thankfully, part of the Slayer package is enhanced senses, so she doesn’t find it too difficult to navigate. Spike is laying on one of the concrete slabs, a slash of pale skin in the darkness. Though she doesn’t think vampires can sleep, the bottle of alcohol (Scotch? Whiskey? She’s not sure) clutched in his fingers explains why he is oblivious to her entrance. 

Faith picks her way over to the vampire, snatching the alcohol from his fingers. He lets out a snore, but doesn’t otherwise stir, so she figures it’s safe to drink without him yelling at her that she owes him even more alcohol. Not that she’s paid him back for the last bottle, and she probably never will. 

The alcohol (vodka, she realises) burns her throat pleasantly, and she climbs onto the other concrete coffin, bored. Going home would probably mean facing Buffy, and she’s not sure if the blonde is ready for that yet. Or even if she is herself. So instead, she takes another painful swallow of vodka and glances over at the unconscious vamp beside her. 

He’s attractive, she’s gotta give him that. The confidence he possesses is definitely not unfounded, with the chiseled line of his jaw and the lean but very clearly defined muscles of his arms and chest.  It makes for a good observation that he’s apparently shirtless, skin even paler in the filtered moonlight. Faith lets her eyes roam further south, at the sheet draped over his lower half. She can’t tell if he’s wearing pants or not, but it doesn’t stop her from looking. Especially when he’s probably just as fine below the belt. 

Spike comes to with a start while she’s in the middle of her musings, and he sits bolt upright with a gasp. 

“You okay, Fang Boy?” Faith takes another swig of vodka as Spike looks around, clearly concerned about losing his alcohol. 

When Spike turns to look at her, his eyes are glowing yellow. It’s the first time Faith’s seen them that colour without the accompanying bumpy forehead, and it’s a little weird. 

“You’re drinking my alcohol again,” Spike says, irises fading back to blue. He reaches out a hand expectantly. 

“Hang on,” Faith allows herself one last gulp, fire chasing down her throat, before stretching out the bottle. She doesn’t move to place it in Spike’s hand, instead letting it hover in the space between them. 

“You want it? Come get it.”

Spike makes a move to get off the concrete slab, but stops partway through the shuffle when the sheet tugs at his waist. Looking down, Faith watches as he apparently realises for the first time that he’s not wearing any clothes. 

“Oi!” Spike shuffles backwards, away from the vodka, and collects the sheet around himself. Not that it makes much of a difference, but if that’s what he wants to do then Faith’s not gonna stop him. It does keep the vodka with her, and she’s not complaining. “You can’t just come in here while a fella’s naked and steal his vodka.”

“To be fair,” Faith chuckles, pulling her hand back and sitting the bottle beside her, “I didn’t know you were naked when I came in here.” Not that she really cared, either. 

Bunching up the sheet, Spike manages to keep himself decent while reaching over to grab the bottle. 

“Intruding bitch,” she hears him mumble before raising it to his lips. 

“Yeah, well, I’m here now,” she shrugs, warm alcohol starting to spread through her blood. “I wanted to talk to you about B.”

Spike swallows, unflinching, and levels her with a glare. She knows that one, the one that’s trying to work out her intentions. Refusing to back down, she lets herself be examined, even sitting back on her hands as his eyes scan her in the semi-dark. Apparently satisfied, Spike moves to the edge of the coffin, within passing distance, and offers her the bottle. 

“What about the Slayer?”

“Something’s up,” Faith takes the alcohol, staring at it for a moment. She thinks of Buffy in the shower, begging her to say that she’s real. Of Buffy this morning, and the wide-eyed terror when Faith had wanted to talk about it. “She’s not alright in the head.”

“Well duh,” Spike snatches the vodka for another sip. “She’s shagging you.”

Faith wishes she had something to throw at him, but settles for kicking him in the shin. 

“Shut up, Peroxide,” she takes the vodka, gulps it. “It’s like the Heaven thing again, but weird. She thinks she’s a zombie. Do you think Red’s magic might have fucked with her brain?”

He purses his lips, thinking. “Not her brain, no. Her body, maybe.”

Faith thinks that he’s about to make another comment about her little unconventional relationship with the blonde, but he keeps talking. 

“My chip doesn’t work on her.”

Spike is fucking lucky that Faith wasn’t taking a sip at that moment, or else he’d be covered in spray. As it is, Faith chokes on nothing and blinks at him a couple of times. 

“Come off it,” she shakes her head, the memory of Spike howling in pain coming to her mind. 

Spike just shrugs, which makes Faith start to think that it was all an act. But why? 

“So it didn’t go off when you hit her?”

“Not even a tickle.”

She considers the vodka again, setting it to one side. 

“Why?”

“Hell if I know,” Spike looks around, searching for an answer. “Reckon she came back wrong. Somethin’ in her just isn’t human. Isn’t real.”

Buffy’s words from last night echo in her mind, the soft whine bouncing off tiled walls. Tell me I’m real. Things start to make a little more sense, slowly, her brain slogging through the vodka to try and fit all the pieces together. 

“You saw her last night?”

Strong brows furrow, regarding her with renewed suspicion. 

“Why?”

Faith lifts one shoulder and drops it. “She said something just like that last night.”

“Yeah, I saw the Slayer,” Spike mimics her gesture. “Thought she’d hit me round a bit for no good reason, the crazy woman. So I hit her back.”

Faith doesn’t mention that Buffy probably had her reasons for hitting Spike, or that she wouldn’t usually beat up a vampire who couldn’t fight back. She bites her tongue against the protests, and instead just shakes her head. 

“Must’ve got her riled up real good,” Spike says, and Faith doesn’t doubt that. He probably told her right to her face that she wasn’t real, which explains why she was so wigged out about it when she got home. “She ever get so angry she just kiss you?”

A weird sensation crawls up Faith’s spine. It’s not like her and Buffy were exclusive or anything, so she’s pretty sure the feeling isn’t jealousy, but she can’t quite place it. Maybe if it were someone else, instead of Spike. Maybe if it were a random person Buffy was just making out with in the Bronze in an attempt to feel something. But this is different. It’s Spike, the one person in the world who loves Buffy ass much as she does. The only other person she can bond with over pouring their hearts out to the blonde in big dramatic musical numbers. The only person who’s also had their heart then stomped on by said blonde. Her and Spike are pretty alike, she thinks, and she doesn’t entirely hate the fact that Buffy kissed him. The realisation should feel weird, but it doesn’t.

“Maybe she just kissed you to shut you up,” she fires back. 

“Bullshit.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, she was just sick of your pompous British ass,” there’s no real heat to her tone, and Spike knows it. She can tell by the way he gives her a sly grin, eyes flashing darkly. 

“Pretty sure she likes my ass more than yours, Boston.”

“I’m sorry, who actually got to fuck her last night and who barely went to first base?”

“You little shit,” Spike snatches the vodka from beside her, flipping her the bird as he does so. “Just give it time.”

Spike takes a huge swig of vodka, offering it back to Faith when he’s done. She copies him, the alcohol warming her bones. Maybe it’s the vodka, maybe it’s the revelation of Buffy kissing Spike, but she feels the need to keep talking. 

“Don’t know how much longer I’ve got with that, honestly.” Time isn’t exactly something she has faith that Buffy will give her. Maybe a fuck here and there, but Faith’s not entirely certain the other Slayer will ever want anything more. Some small part of her dares to hope, but she keeps it pretty damn locked up. 

“B‘s never gonna see me like a person, yknow?”

It’s the most vulnerable Faith’s ever been with Spike, and the most vulnerable she’s been with anyone since coming back to Sunnydale, if she’s not counting the song and dance she did against her will. 

“Right,” Spike says with a hum. “You’re not alone there.”

“She’s always just gonna think I’m the shithead that ruined her life,” Faith sighs, resting back on her hands. B’s probably always going to focus on the bad parts of Faith’s past. Granted, there are a few pretty awful things there, but Faith’s really trying to move past that. She knows that Spike understands, given the amount of times that Buffy’s dismissed him too. 

“Stupid git’s never going to see past the fact I don’t have a soul. Captain Forehead had a soul and he still left her, don’t know what fucking difference it makes,” Spike looks flatly at her. “Apparently if I had one she’d have no problem boning me. Pity that.”

“I’ve got a soul and she’s not interested in more than a lay, my guy.” 

“Still a better deal than spending every night with a bottle.” A long silence stretches between them, making Faith feel much further away from the vampire than just a few feet. “Least I got to kiss her, though.” 

Faith tilts her head to one side as she regards the man in front of her. She tries to think about what would make Buffy kiss Spike, aside from the obvious. Buffy’s small frame would fit easily against Spike’s more muscled one, her tanned skin in stark contrast to his. Faith thinks of Buffy’s lips on Spike’s with the same intensity she’d pressed against Faith, and a warm heat coils sharply in her gut. It surprises her enough to derail her train of thought, and she’s staring blankly into space for a few seconds before Spike calls her name. 

“You okay there, Killer?” The nickname from anyone else - especially one of the Scoobies - would make her bristle. But Spike’s killed far more people than her, so it doesn’t feel like a thinly veiled attack. 

“Yeah,” she shrugs off the lingering heat at the bottom of her spine, blaming it on the fact that she hasn’t gotten laid in way too long and there’s a very attractive and naked body only a few feet away. She just needs to go home and deal with herself, that’s all. “Should probably be heading back though.” Sliding off the concrete, she dusts her hands on her thighs. “Thanks for the vodka.” 

“You still owe me,” Spike replies, and is that innuendo in his tone? Faith can’t see his eyes properly in the dark, so she can’t make out what he’s trying to say. Saving her brain the confusing amount of options, she just rolls one shoulder and chuckles as she turns to leave. 

“You’ll get it someday.” 

 

The house is quiet. Willow and Dawn are clearly still out at their movie or whatnot, and Buffy’s not home from her patrol. It’s not often that she gets the house to herself these days with the sheer amount of people coming and going, but it’s happened a fair bit lately. She’s not sure what to make of that. 

Faith digs through the fridge until she finds the plate of brownies she made for Buffy yesterday. Her body thrums, reminding her that she didn’t really get a chance for a fight tonight, or at least she wasn’t present for it. She feels wired, unfinished. It would be all too easy to just go to the Bronze and dance it out, finding some easy lay and going back to their place for an hour or two to work off steam. It would be easy, but she doesn’t want it. Not even a little. She doesn’t really want anyone except Buffy. 

As though she’s been summoned, the blonde walks through the door a few moments later. 

“Hey,” she greets, pushing the plate of brownies across the counter towards Buffy. When the other Slayer only hums a hello, Faith keeps talking. 

“Spend the night with a certain bleach blonde vamp again?”

Buffy’s eyes go almost comically wide, and Faith chuckles at her expression. She’d only meant to tease, and it’s amusing that Buffy’s taking it so seriously. 

“I-“ she starts, stuttering over the word a couple of times. 

“Relax, B,” Faith tells the other Slayer, watching the blonde’s shoulders visibly sag. “If that’s what you need to get your rocks off, you don’t gotta feel guilty.” In fact, Faith’s all for Buffy doing things that make her feel more alive. With the way Willow’s going, and Giles leaving, and the witches breaking up, the blonde could probably do with a bit of a mental break. It’s not like her and B are exclusive or anything, they’re not in a relationship. They’re just… Well, Faith doesn’t really have a word for what they are except maybe friends with benefits, but that would hinge on the idea that they’re friends to begin with. So if Buffy wants to go back or even fuck someone else, Faith’s got no claim over that. The thought of Buffy kissing or being touched by some random person twists Faith’s insides like a knife to the gut, and she forces herself to breathe out. This isn’t about her, this is about Buffy. And if Buffy wants to go kiss a random in the Bronze, she’s allowed. If Buffy wants to go kiss Spike, she’s allowed. In fact, that’s probably more preferable. Faith wouldn’t mind that, actually. 

“It’s just that, well-“ Buffy starts, but Faith holds up a hand. She rolls her shoulders to release some of the tension gathering there, and she watches as the other Slayer’s eyes follow the action. 

“It’s five by five,” she tells Buffy. “Just cause I sang a solo about you doesn’t mean ya owe me anything.” It’s the first time she’s really brought up her feelings, drawn her emotions back into the spotlight after trying so hard to shove them down. Buffy has to know how much this all means for Faith, she’d have to be an idiot not to. But Faith isn’t about to tell her straight up that it means more. She’s not going to put even more pressure on the blonde, and she’s certainly not going to risk this little arrangement they have. 

Buffy’s quietly contemplative for a long moment, and Faith speaks just to fill the silence. 

“You do what you want, yeah?” 

Buffy’s eyes skip over the kitchen, skating up Faith’s bare arms before landing on her face. Faith doesn’t miss the flick of Buffy’s gaze to her lips before she speaks. 

“Want, take, have, right?” Faith hears the echo of her own words, a million years ago. It had been her motto back then, the only way she could make it through the day. If she slowed down, if she thought too hard, then she just might end up going insane. So the easiest way to deal was to pretend that everything was okay, and that she was just barreling through life without a second thought. She fucked basically anyone that moved, drank herself stupid almost every night, and did whatever she wanted. Now, though, it’s different. Everything is so different for her now, standing in front of the woman she loves. But Buffy’s eyes are wide, scared, and Faith can’t bring herself to say no. She doesn’t want to lie, but she can’t tell Buffy how much all of this means to her. She just can't.

“Yeah, B,” the lie burns her throat, sharp and acidic. “Just like that.” 

Buffy leaves the kitchen without another word, and leaves Faith alone with her brownies. 

 

Want, take, have? It’s more like want, fuck, pine these days.