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In Faith’s line of work, seeing people that were technically supposed to be dead up and walking around was a pretty common occurrence, all things said and done. Hell, she lived with one – even if Angel was out of town right now, he was still her housemate and paid half the rent and all that fun stuff. He’d offered to cover it all, but Faith had been having none of that shit.

Still, when they were up and walking around dead like that, holy water usually burned them. All it hadn’t done that to this blonde chick she’d only ever met the once, but seen in pictures on Red’s wall plenty of times.

It hadn’t burned Tara Maclay. Or passed through her. So not a vampire, not a ghost.

“I…” Faith started slowly, staring at other girl, some part of her, despite the situation, totally able to see what Willow had seen in her first girlfriend. Totally.

And it wasn’t just looks (though they were pretty damn good)… there was this… thing around her, about her…

Well, fuckin’ glow was the only way to describe it. It came off her, illuminating her with some sort of like… fuck it. I don’t read enough poetry to know how to describe it.

“Aren’t you supposed to be dead?” She asked slowly, not wanting to offend the chick or… bring back bad memories of the whole dying thing.

“I was,” Tara said slowly, hesitantly, working her mouth with care, like she’s not used to using it. “The Powers That Be… they had a change of management and decided to send me back. Something about… over-used tropes and shock value. I didn’t really follow everything,” She looked down at her hands, which were clasped together in front of her. “I was just… in heaven. And now I’m here. I just… appeared in the park over there,” she pointed. “I think… about an hour ago? They didn’t give me a watch when they sent me down.” She looked around and took a breath.

“I’m still getting used to… having a body again,” She admitted.

The Powers That Be can have a change in management? How does that even work?Faith tucked the vial of holy water back into her jacket pocket, then realized that Tara was probably fucking cold, just wearing that dress.  Especially if she hadn’t had a body in a while. You probably didn’t get cold in heaven.

“Here,” Faith took off her jacket and handed it to her, “It’s fucking 38 degrees out right now. Would suck to catch a cold right after coming back from the dead,” Faith caught herself staring at Tara as the newly resurrected witch put her jacket on with a murmured ‘thanks’. For some reason, Faith really liked seeing the other woman in her leather jacket. Really liked it.

Jesus Christ Faith! She just came back from the dead. Plus, she’s Red’s girl. Get a hold of yourself.

As that thought occurred to her, she realized she’d have to tell Willow – and B, and Xander, and the Squirt… everyone. Even Spike, given that he was back from the dead and playing house with B over in London. But… Anya was around when she was. They probably knew each other.  Did she know Anya was dead?

“Do you… have anywhere to stay?” She asked, “There’s a guest room at my place, and Angel’s out of town, so you won’t even have to worry about my roomie.”

Tara blinked, looking at her with surprise, “You’re… you’re living with Angel?”

“Idiot needs someone to keep an eye on him,” Faith said affectionately. She offered Tara her hand, “Come on. It’s only a couple blocks from here. I’ve got leftover pizza and some soda… haven’t gone grocery shopping in a while…” She added weakly. “You haven’t eaten anything in a long time, I figure.” Then she looked down. “Sorry.”

“Since dinner the night before I died,” Tara nodded. “I… you don’t need to walk on eggshells around me. I know you’ve probably heard a bit about what it was like for Buffy, after we… after we all brought her back, ripped her out of heaven.” Faith could hear the note of regret buried in her soft voice. “I wasn’t ripped out. They did ask me if I was okay with being alive again, and… being sent is not the same thing, I guess…” as if to bring Tara back to what Faith had just said, her stomach rumbled a little. Tara rested one hand on it, flushing a little and biting her lip in a way that looked unbelievably hot and cute at the same time.

Down girl!

“What kind of Pizza? And… do you have any tea?”

“Three cheese, and yeah; Angel’s got like fifty different kinds,” Faith answered, “He may be Irish, but he’s as prissy as some Brit about his tea, let me tell you.”

“Alright,” Tara nodded, and then hesitantly took Faith’s offered hand. The dark haired slayer ignored the electric feeling that ran up her arm at the contact.

 A couple pieces of reheated pizza and a mug of tea later, and Faith and Tara were sitting on the couch in the living room.

“You’re free to stay here as long as you want,” Faith said. “I mean, once Willow and B and –“

“Don’t tell them,” Tara interrupted her words almost a demand, then she bit her lip again and started over. “I… I watched them, from heaven. I saw everything. I know what… what me dying did to all of them. How hard it was for them to move on. But they have,” She looked down at her lap. “Especially Willow.”

Fuck. Faith hadn’t even thought about that. Willow and Kennedy may not have worked out after the fall of Sunnydale, but Willow had, in the years since, met another girl. Faith had only met her a couple of times, but she liked her well enough. And Willow was obviously happy and in love. There was even a betting pool Dawn had started on when they’d get engaged. The smart money, according to the Squirt, was on just a few more months. Faith had disagreed and put it at six months.

Something  of her thoughts must have shown on her face, because Tara’s eyes widened a little and she shook her head.

“No. It’s not that. Not exactly. I… I actually like Alice. She’s good for her. For Willow. And before I came back, I wouldn’t have even thought twice about it, about being okay with her moving on, her falling in love again. I may be back… But she’s happy… and even if Willow were single… it’s been years. I’ve been dead. She mourned me and… there’s no way we could have just picked up where we left off.”

Tara took another deep breath. “I do need to… want to see them again. I just… need some time. To get used to… being alive again. But I have messages for everyone else too. From Joyce, for Buffy and Dawn. From Jenny, for Giles. From Anya, for Xander. From Cordelia for Xander too…” she smiled a little, “though that one’s just a slap to the face. She said he’d get it once I said it was from her.” She frowned, “Not that I really want to slap him, but I…”

Faith thought back to that night Xander had gotten drunk after he’d heard Cordy had died, just months after Anya’s death. She’d been the only person around right then that had known Cordelia at all, and he’d spent the night talking about her.Yeah, he’ll probably get what it means.

“It’s for a good cause. He’ll thank you for it, I think,” Faith replied. “I won’t tell them you’re back. That’s your call.”

 “I… I could have handled that better,” Tara said softly, dropping onto the couch next to Faith, the signs of recent tears marring her otherwise perfect face.

In the months since Tara’s return from the dead, Faith had come to realize two things: one very quickly, and the other one only recently: 1 – Tara was fucking beautiful, in mind, soul and body, as cheesy as that sounded, and 2 – I’m fucking in love with her.

Originally, Tara had been only going to stay in the house Faith shared with Angel for a while. But a while had turned into weeks and now months, and no one, not even Angel, had said anything. Fang had probably picked up on Faith’s feelings for the blonde witch before she had herself.

Tara hadn’t meant to stay either… but after B, and Willow and Xander and everyone else had come, when Tara had, a week after her return, decided she was ready to face them all… well

It had gone amazingly. They were all beyond happy to see her back, see her alive. But that hadn’t changed the slight awkwardness. Tara was the same age as she was when she’d died. Everyone else was years older, changed. And… yeah, Willow was with someone else. Faith hadn’t listened in on Tara’s conversation with Red, but both of them had come out of it with tears, and she’d been there to comfort Tara afterwards.

And so Tara had stayed. And Faith… had never seen any reason to object.

“What did Red want?” Faith had burned to know what Willow had been calling about, but Tara had taken the call in another room, and Faith had long made it her policy to let Tara have her privacy. The witch shared almost everything with her eventually anyway.

“She…  she and Alice are getting engaged,” Tara said softly. “She wanted to know… if I would want an invitation or not. She… she said she’d understand if I didn’t want to come, but she said I should hear it from her, about the engagement.”

Well, damn. Faith had lost that betting pool. Why the fuck am I thinking about that now?

“You should hear about it from her, she was right about that. Are you going to go?” Faith had, in the last week and a half since she’d realized she was in love with Tara, to make some kind of move. Asking her out… just fucking telling her. But she’d hesitated, fucking wussed out every time because she’d been sure – was sure – that Tara wasn’t really over Willow just yet.

She wasn’t sure she wanted to hear the answer, whatever it was. But… this wasn’t about her and her feelings. It was about Tara. She could be here for her. Would be here for her, to talk or just… be there.

“I… don’t know,” Tara admitted. She reached up one hand and wiped at her eyes a moment, sniffling a little. “I – I’m happy for her. I am. Really. And… we’ve been trying to settle into just… just friends, but…” Tara bit her lip and looked at her hands, which were resting in her lap. “It’s not that simple. I knew this would happen sooner or later… and…” She looked at Faith. “I’m not as in love with Willow as I used to be. I mean… I still love her. Part of me always will. But… I’ve had time to come to terms with everything…and-“ Tara cut herself off and then her voice grew much more firm. “Screw it.” Before Faith could ask her what that meant, the blonde witch had reached across the distance between them and put her arms around Faith’s neck, tangling in her dark hair and pulling her head towards hers as she moved her entire body closer.

The scent of Tara’s body wash and shampoo was overpowering as she felt Tara’s lips gently press against hers. Instinctively, Faith’s own arms snaked around Tara’s waist, pulling the witch against her, deepening the kiss without even thinking. The world seemed to melt away into juts the two of them, but all sensation beyond Tara’s hands on her and her lips on Tara’s was all gone for her. It was just this, this kiss

So much better than anything she’d ever imagined. The kiss kept going, Tara giving as good as she got in the forcefulness category as they both deepened the kiss, their bodies pressing completely against each other.

As her lungs started to burn with a need for air, she finally felt Tara pull away, and Faith realized that somewhere in it all, she’d pulled Tara onto her lap. Tara only pulled away barely a few inches.

“I’ve been wanting to do that for weeks now,” she admitted softly after inhaling deeply, her voice a hushed murmur. Then, “I… this probably wasn’t the best time to… I mean… you probably just think I’m doing this because Willow is…”

“Are you?” Faith asked softly. She didn’t believe Tara would be like that. That didn’t fit the girl she’d come to know, the girl she’d fallen in love with. Tara’s words were still processing through her brain.

“No. Goddess no. I’d never do that. I… the truth is, Faith, I think I’ve fallen in love with you.”

Before Faith could stop herself, she’d closed the distance between their lips, kissing Tara again.