It Starts With Faith
Buffy was having a bad night.
It seemed to be a trend in her life lately. Bad nights followed by bad fights over stupid vamp rights.
Damn, that rhymed. The thought was enough to make her smile as she sent several of the vamps flying as she shoved them off of her back where they hung, trying to overpower her. Buffy then glanced back at Willow who was, miraculously, still safe and sound despite all of the chaos that was going on.
"Go get Faith!" shouted Buffy to Willow who snapped out of the daze she was in upon hearing this.
"But--" Willow began.
"Do it!" Buffy enforced strongly. Delivering a strong punch to one of the vampire's jaws, she whirled around to grab Willow's shoulders in her hand. "Please do it," she said quietly, almost in a plea. "I don't want you to get hurt. I'll be fine, I just need Faith for some extra Slayer backup. That's all."
Studying Buffy closely, Willow finally gave an accepting nod then said, "All right."
Both Buffy and Trick watched as Willow ran back into the Bronze and as soon as she was gone, Trick gave a laugh and said, "Aren't we the little manipulator, hm?"
"She didn't need to see this," replied Buffy, her eyes narrowing. "Because I don't think that a normal staking is good enough for you two. I'm just going to have to get creative."
"Lucky us," Trick smirked. Moving forward, he removed a small square cloth, one that looked like one of those crazy nicotine patches always advertised on TV.
"You trying to quit smoking?" Buffy taunted.
"Something like that," said Trick with a smile. Tilting his head to one side, he said to no one in particular, "Get her."
Blinking in confusion on seeing Trick talk to thin air, Buffy wasn't at all prepared for the feeling of several dozen hands grabbing at her arms and legs. Struggling against them was almost futile as the more she did so, the more hands were added into the pile. And just as one hand covered her mouth, Buffy looked up to see Trick smiling down at her holding the square patch in his hand.
"Goodbye, Slayer," Trick murmured as he leant down, ripped open her shirt, and promptly smacked the patch close to her heart. "And try to rest in peace."
For several moments, Buffy struggled against the hands holding her, then finally her body went limp against them, and she fell back onto the cold concrete of the alley.
"Is she dead?" asked Iris in entirely hopeful tones, leaning down to inspect the blonde Slayer.
"No, probably not," replied Trick easily. "Which is exactly why we're going to take her with us."
"I don't think so, twinkie."
Lifting his gaze, Trick stared at the new arrivals and couldn't help but smile in satisfaction. "Faith, the first Slayer," he said with certain pleasure. "So nice to meet you."
"Polite bloodsucker, aintcha?" asked Faith, her eyes darting to Buffy and filling with concern. She turned back to Trick and glared at him hard as she said, "You're not taking Buff anywhere. Slayers only go where they wanna go and I'm doubting she wants to go with you."
"We'll see," Trick murmured. Looking briefly back at his comrades, he said lightly, "Get her too."
With that, the vampires all rushed at Faith who looked at them with widened eyes before forming a very evil smile and reaching into her favorite borrowed blue jacket to pull out a small mechanical bow.
"Nighty, night, suckers," Faith drawled with a smirk as she shot off a barrage of arrows from the bow that she'd recently designed with Giles. Having an automatic reload trigger, it was her favorite toy on patrol yet. When all the dust settled, Faith turned to Trick and said, "Your turn."
Eyeing the bow carefully, Trick said, "No thanks." He then looked at Iris and the blonde vampire gave a low nod before reaching into her jacket. As she did this, Trick looked to Faith and said, "We'll meet again, Slayer."
Before Faith could reply, Iris slammed a small round object onto the ground and the air was filled with a noxious gas that left everyone coughing and feeling more than a bit dizzy as they breathed it in.
As soon as the gas cleared, Willow cried out Buffy's name then went rushing towards the blonde Slayer who was still collapsed on the ground of the alley.
Quickly at her side was Faith, who gently pulled Buffy up and into her arms. Wearing a face of concern, she said huskily, "Hey, Buff, time to wake up from your nap."
When Buffy made no response, Faith's expression grew dark as she reached to touch Buffy's pulse. Finding it strong and steady, she released a deep sigh of relief. Then her eyes fixated on the patch resting on Buffy's chest.
Pulling it off, Faith inspected it carefully, only to pull back as she breathed in the fumes it produced. "Shit," she muttered. "What the hell did they put in this?"
"They drugged her," Willow said sorrowful and guilt ridden tones. "They knew that they couldn't beat a Slayer so they must have drugged her so they could get to me easier. I never should've left her alone..."
"Then they would've gotten you too, Will," said Cordelia gently, reaching out to clasp her shoulder.
"Amy girl," said Faith suddenly, looking up at the blonde witch who was hovering along with Xander. "Can you do some of your witchy magic to help us out here?"
"I don't know... maybe..." Amy said nervously, turning to meet Xander's eyes who smiled at her softly.
"Go on," Xander said in encouraging tones, giving her a light touch on the back. "You can do it."
Returning Xander's smile, Amy hesitantly went forward and knelt in front of Buffy, resting her hands over the blonde's face as she began to chant in soft and low tones to herself in a language that everyone except for Xander recognized to be Latin.
Seconds after Amy finished her chant, Buffy wearily opened her hazel eyes and rasped, "Boo."
"To who?" Faith responded quietly, smiling at Buffy as she gently held her hand. "You scared us, Buff."
"Sorry," said Buffy weakly, offering an equally weak smile, the dizziness still effecting her and the draw of sleep strong in her system now. "I think I'm starting to go back to sleep... okay?"
The dark haired Slayer immediately looked to Amy who said, "She should be fine but I wasn't able to remove all of the effects of the drugs from her system."
"So sleep is okay?" pursued Faith.
"Yeah, sleep is okay," said Amy with a smile.
"Good," Buffy said, heaving a sigh. "Because I'm already starting to fall back..."
The rest of Buffy's sentence was soft snores.
Cordelia wasn't sure who was more stubborn. Willow or Faith, and which one would win their battle.
The battle over Buffy and where she'd stay.
At first, they all considered taking her back to her house. Then they realized they had no idea where Buffy's house even was. Or how they would begin to explain to her mother just why the blonde was passed out and her shirt was so badly ripped.
Amy and Xander both quietly mentioned with sad eyes their houses were no place for Buffy to be. With Amy still trying to work things out with her Dad whom she had just moved back in with and Xander... not having the best relationship with his own less than understanding family.
Cordelia's house was empty with the exception of Monet since Maria went home for the evening and as usual her parents were out of town busy with their own affairs.
Personally, Cordelia thought her house or Faith's were the most logical as they would both have to do the least amount of explaining about Buffy's condition. This wasn't something that Willow agreed with, however, and she had Faith had been arguing back and forth for about five minutes over where Buffy was going to stay for the night.
Luckily for them, Cordelia wasn't in an impatient mood as she sat at the head of the Range Rover, waiting for one of them to win the debate before she started the vehicle to drive them to the decided location.
"You gotta show going on, Will," reminded Faith. "And besides, what about your Mom? Are you gonna just sneak Buff into your house and hope she doesn't notice?"
"The show can wait," Willow replied stubbornly. "And my Mom's probably asleep by now."
"Aw, c'mon, Will," said Faith with a sigh. She eyed Willow with sharp brown eyes and said, "Y'know that it makes no sense to argue about this."
Faltering now, Willow whispered, "I know."
"Then why?" Faith asked quietly.
"She... she's like this because of me," murmured Willow, her eyes filling with tears. Lifting her head, she revealed a pleading expression. "Is it so wrong for me to want to take care of her because of that? This is my fault, Faith."
"Will," said Faith in hushed tones, her eyes going wide as she looked at her friend. "I didn't know..."
"I figured," Willow said with a strained laugh.
"Hey," Faith said softly, reaching out to pull Willow into a gentle hold. "She's all yours. Take good care of her, huh? And make sure to hide her from your Mom."
Faith and Willow instantly directed their eyes to Buffy who was lying in the back seat of the Range Rover, now pushing herself up slightly. "Wooh," said Buffy as she touched her forehead. "Major head buzz here."
"You should lie down," Willow said, appearing immediately at Buffy's side. "You'll get sick..."
"Yeah, I'm starting to feel barfy," Buffy said, doing as Willow said and falling back to lie down again.
"We're going to take you home," began Willow.
"Home?" Buffy looked alarmed. "My Mom--"
"I know, we were," Willow interrupted. "But we thought that might not be such a good idea. So instead--"
"I'm going home with Faith?" murmured Buffy sleepily, her hazel eyes closing. "Good," she sighed. "Not like we'd have to explain anything to Giles."
"But..." Willow said, sounding crushed as she looked at the sleeping Buffy. Staring at the blonde Slayer for a moment, she formed a soft smile then gently moved some strands of hair from out of her eyes. "We'll do what you want then," she said quietly. Turning to look at Faith, Willow gave a wan smile then said, "Take care of her. It looks like I have a show I need to get back to."
"Will, I--" Faith started to say.
"It's okay," said Willow, giving a reassuring smile. "I just want whatever is best for Buffy. If she wants to go home with you, that's fine. Just... take care of her for me."
"I will, I promise," said Faith earnestly.
"Good," Willow gave a small smile as she scooted out of the Range Rover. "I'll see you guys later then."
Watching as Willow walked back towards the Bronze, Faith turned to Amy and Xander who looked at her with knowing expressions on their faces.
"No worries," said Xander, offering a goofy smile. "We'll cheer up the Willster no problem. It'll be our fun fun mission for the night. Right, snookie bear?"
"You betcha, cutesy woogums," said Amy with a nod and an equally goofy smile on her features.
"Thanks, you two," said Faith as she smiled widely. "You're the best at cheering folks up, y'know that?"
"We know," Amy and Xander chimed together.
Chuckling as she shut the back door to the Range Rover, Faith gave the couple a quick wave before she got into the passenger seat to sit next to an unusually subdued Cordelia.
"Sweets?" asked Faith, peering thoughtfully at her girlfriend who was never this quiet. "What's up?"
"You shouldn't have done that," Cordelia murmured after a long moment of absolute silence.
"Done what?" Faith asked in confusion.
Turning to regard Faith for an even longer moment, Cordelia finally narrowed her hazel eyes and gave Faith a quick pinch on her thigh which caused the dark haired Slayer to yelp with pain and indignation.
"Hey!" Faith exclaimed. "What was that for?"
"Willow likes her you doof," said Cordelia, now facing forward as she started up the Range Rover.
"What? No way! Will doesn't like Buff..." said Faith, considering her girlfriend's words. Eyeing Cordelia closely, she said, "You really think that she likes her?"
"Hello?" Cordelia drawled with a smirk. "It's so obvious that she likes her. Didn't you see the moony eyes? And they weren't just 'oh Buffy got hurt for me' moony eyes. No siree bob, they were 'oh Buffy got hurt for me and this makes me like her even more now' moony eyes."
"You think?" murmured Faith, looking pensive.
"Please, I know," scoffed Cordelia. "I ought to when I'm always looking at you the exact same way."
"Good point," said Faith with a chuckle. She frowned and said, "If I'd known that Will was crushing on Buff I never would've argued with her. I mean, I was just trying to make it so Buff would feel more comfortable..."
"I know," Cordelia said in gentle and understanding tones, reaching out to rub Faith's thigh where she had pinched it. "It's just... you can be so dense that it's a cute sort of disease. You know that, right?"
"Yeah, I know," Faith scowled. "And it sucks."
"Yes, my dear," said Cordelia humorously. "Many things in this world suck and suck greatly. But somehow, we must trudge our way through the suckiness and go on."
Eyeing Cordelia with lidded brown eyes, Faith said sardonically, "You're just lovin' teasing me, huh?"
"It's my second favorite pastime," Cordelia admitted.
"Oh yeah?" Faith drawled sensuously. "And what, pray tell, is your first, Miss Chase?"
Forming a mischievous look on her fine features, Cordelia looked at Faith then purred, "I think you know."
As a shiver of pleasure ran down her spine, Faith was suddenly cursing her own ignorance when it came to Willow's newfound crush on Buffy. Because if she'd just noticed it then right now she'd be heading home alone with Cordelia.
Heading for home and an empty bed. A very comfortable and big empty bed. One that had already been used many times for some very pleasurable experiences.
Yes, being dense definitely sucked.
And it sucked greatly.
Buffy woke up to the sounds of quiet talking, muffled laughter, and then finally quiet moans of pleasure.
The last sound made her rather irritable.
With bleary eyes, she inspected her surroundings. It looked like she was in a library except for the fact that there happened to be a bed in the middle of the room. A bed that she was very nicely propped up on.
Was she in Faith's room?
Looking around more curiously now, Buffy noted the pile of clothes in one corner of the room along several pairs of boots. Buffy wondered briefly just why a person would even need that many Doc Martins. But what really caught her attention was the framed photograph that sat on the small desk across from the bed.
Scooting forward, Buffy climbed across the bed and reached for the photograph to look at it closer. Faith and Cordelia in dresses, looking quite lovely and quite in the middle of something interesting, when someone had snapped the photo which Faith apparently took note of, her eyes glaring slightly at the photographer as she kissed Cordelia. In the background were students that Buffy recognized from school staring at the couple.
"They went to prom," said Buffy softly.
She heard soft footsteps headed her way and scrambling forward, Buffy hastily replaced the photo from where she had gotten it and laid back on the bed.
Opening the door to her room, Faith smiled as she looked at Buffy. "Finally awake, huh?" she asked.
"How'd you guess? My open eyes?" Buffy smiled.
"Nah, I'm psychic," said Faith, returning the smile.
"A Dionne Warwick Slayer, huh?" asked Buffy teasingly, scooting back to lean against the wall. "Nifty."
"At times," Faith murmured. Turning around, she picked up the cordless phone resting on her desk. "Make up a good fib to the parental unit, will ya?"
"Sure, no prob," Buffy said quickly, taking the phone from Faith and frowning as she thought about just what she should say to her mother. Hazel eyes peered up at Faith rather pathetically before she said, "Any ideas?"
"You're worse than me, Buff," said Faith with a chuckle, moving to sit down next to the other Slayer on the bed. She considered it for a second then said, "It's usually best to stick as close to the truth as possible. Less chance of them noticing that you're lying your ass off that way."
"Oh yeah? And how do you know that?" Buffy asked, a playful smile spreading across her features. "You a master liar as well as a master Slayer now, Faith?"
"I've got many skills," Faith drawled.
"Obviously," said Buffy as she laughed. "Well," she began thoughtfully. "How about we say that I got sickly from the food I ate at the Bronze and you took me to your place because you didn't know my address and I'm totally zonked out so can I please stay here for the night?"
"Nice story, Buff," complimented Faith. "Only I'm the one who'd have to tell it."
"Not necessarily. Why not let your designated parental unit handle the duty?" Buffy pointed out slyly.
Forming a wide and definitely evil grin, Faith took the cordless phone back from Buffy and walking out of her room, she called out loudly, "G-man! You gotta another Watcher duty to fulfill for us! Get out here!"
As Faith wandered off in search of Giles, all while grumbling about how could he disappear in such a small apartment, Buffy couldn't help but smile because somehow all of it seemed like home to her it was so comfortable.
But why she felt this way, she just didn't know.
Amy and Xander weren't having much luck cheering Willow up. The Bronze had been closed for about a half an hour now and the redhead still had an expression of sadness on her pretty features.
It was enough to make the couple cry. Or at least feel like crying since neither one of them were really very comfortable with the whole releasing their emotions experience.
So when one of Willow's band members came walking over to their booth, they were definitely glad to see him. Eyeing him carefully, the couple tried to recall just which one he was. He was taller than Xander, with a muscular frame that somehow inspired hugginess. Well, at least to Amy as she looked at him. The guy just seemed like a big huggy bear with his shaggy dyed blonde hair falling into his chocolate brown eyes that were solemn.
"Hey, you guys," he murmured, stopping in his walk in front of the table and giving them a small smile.
"Vince," murmured Willow, returning the smile as she met his eyes. "You finish loading up the bus?"
"Yeah, I'm a muscle man," Vince said, chuckling. He considered Willow carefully before he asked, "Do you want a ride home, Red? I've got more than enough room since Charlie's getting a ride with Derrick tonight."
Turning to look at her friends, Willow asked, "Will you guys be okay? Do you have a ride?"
"I've got my Mom's car," replied Amy, happy to see Willow begin to brighten. "Just one of the perks of having a deceased evil mother. You get her automobile."
"Automoooobile," Xander mimicked. When they all looked at him with blank expressions, he said in rather horrified tones, "Don't tell me you haven't seen Sixteen Candles! Everyone must know of Long Duck Dong!"
"A Molly Ringwald addict, cool," Vince laughed, his eyes crinkling up around the edges. "That takes guts to admit in our super cool high school world."
"Hey, Molly defines coolness I'll have you know," said Xander as he got out of the booth and gave Amy his hand as he pulled her towards him. "Except whenever she has on a pink outfit. She's almost evil in those instances."
"Pink is definitely evil," agreed Vince with a nod. "That's why Pretty in Pink is her most disturbing movie despite the added bonus of Ducky scenes."
"Ah, yes, Ducky a man after my own heart," said Xander wisely. "He was my mentor in many ways."
"Either him or Judd Nelson in the Breakfast Club," Vince said solemnly. "They're Molly's movie soulmates."
"Yes, yes, can't forget Judd," Xander murmured.
Turning to Willow with a lost look in her eyes, Amy asked, "Do you know what they're talking about?"
"The eighties?" offered Willow sheepishly.
"Oh, you mean ancient times," Amy said, smirking.
"Ancient times?!" cried out Xander in offense. "I might have to smote you for saying that, woman!"
"Yeah, yeah," Amy dismissed, laughing as she took Xander by the hand to drag him out of the club. "We'll see you tomorrow at school, Will. Later!"
"Not if I don't smote her first, I say!" Xander cried out before the door to the Bronze shut behind them.
Laughing wryly, Vince looked to Willow and said, "You sure got some interesting friends, Red."
"Yeah," said Willow with a smile. "I like them."
Vince quietly offered his hand to Willow who accepted it as he gently pulled her to her feet. They stood silent for a moment, looking into each others eyes before he asked quietly, "What happened with your friend?"
"She had to leave," Willow murmured, getting a distant look in her eyes. "She got... hurt because of me."
"Is she okay?" asked Vince, looking concerned as he opened up the back door to the Bronze where his ride was waiting for them.
Staring at the vehicle in front of them, Willow couldn't help but laugh as she did every time she saw it. Vince watched this with a wry smile and said, "Are you ever going to stop making fun of my baby, Red?"
"Oh, c'mon, Vince," said Willow, still laughing as she looked at it. "It's a school bus! How can I not laugh?"
"She's my baby," Vince said, sounding ridiculous as he spoke in long drawn out baby talk while rubbing the top of the bus' hood. "Aren't you my baby, Susie?"
"Susie the bus," Willow laughed again.
Although she had heard the story several times from her band mates, Willow still found it incredible that Vince had actually purchased one of the small buses meant for after school activities, at an auction a year ago. He'd spent almost all of his spare time working on it until it was able to pass state inspection and now the bus was something of awe to those who saw it. Covered with murals by any artist with the time and the paint, a decked out stereo system inside, plush seats complete with comfy seat belts, enough room for twenty passengers, and a way too advanced security system to scare off any robbers, Susie was seen as a piece of art in many peoples eyes.
And that definitely included her owner who looked almost wounded every time Willow laughed at his baby.
"All right, enough hurting Susie's feelings," said Vince while he fished his keys out of his pocket and turned off the alarm system so he could open up the door.
"She hates me, doesn't she?" Willow teased.
"No, she doesn't hate you. She's just hurt by your lack of understanding about her incredible beauty," Vince replied, taking his seat at the front of the bus as Willow sat behind him, peering over his shoulder.
"I'm sorry, Susie," said Willow, laughing again.
"She accepts your apology," said Vince earnestly as he started up the ignition and put the bus in gear. They were silent for awhile before he said, "You never told me about your friend. Was that on purpose or you just forgot?"
"A little of both, I think," Willow murmured, sinking back into the comfortable plush seat of the bus. "I don't really know what to tell you, Vince."
"Tell me what's got you so unhappy," Vince answered honestly. "Tell me what you want to. Nothing more, nothing less, it might make you feel better, Red."
Looking up into the rearview mirror and finding solace in the kindness in Vince's chocolate brown eyes, Willow gave a soft sigh then began to tell her story.
And as soon as she did, she felt better already.
It's funny how things work out sometimes.
"You failed me?"
Iris watched with some surprise as Trick did something she'd never seen him do before. He actually winced and looked a bit guilty at Kakistos' words.
"The Slayers are resourceful," said Trick stiffly. "We underestimated them when working together. We had the blonde, Buffy, captured when Faith appeared--"
"Faith," growled Kakistos. "The first Slayer."
"Yes," Trick nodded. "The local demons say she died while fighting the Master. She somehow came back to life but a second Slayer was called from her death."
"I see," Kakistos murmured. "What of Nerine?"
"She's well guarded," replied Trick. "They know of your past with her and are taking precautions."
His eyes narrowing sharply, Kakistos leaned further back and into the shadows while he said, "Their precautions will do them no good. I want Nerine and I will do anything to have her at my side once again."
"Do you have a plan?" asked Trick.
"Yes, and it's a fairly simple one," said Kakistos with a smile. "We torture the Slayers, we torture her friends, and we torture her family until Nerine comes to us." He then chuckled lightly. "Human emotions are such a delightfully enjoyable thing to exploit."
Returning Kakistos' smile, Trick couldn't help but find himself feeling the same way.
"See? Look at that, he's not so wily!" Buffy exclaimed hurriedly as she waved her hands around. "If he was really wily he wouldn't have gotten squashed!"
"Squashings prove nothing," replied Faith as she rolled her eyes. "He's obviously wily. Look at that huge contraption that he built. Could a nonwily person build something like that? I think not."
"Person?" asked Buffy with a smirk.
"Okay fine, a nonwily coyote," Faith corrected.
"Much better," Buffy said in satisfied tones.
Observing as the two Slayers went back to the great and wide scoping Looney Tunes debate, Giles just heaved a sigh to himself and wondered yet again why it was that the Slayer had to be a teenaged girl.
"We'll have to leave for school soon," Giles reminded, poking his head into the living room. "You might want to change your clothes, Buffy. Perhaps Faith can loan you something of hers."
On hearing this, the Slayers immediately burst into loud laughter as Giles stared at them with blank confusion.
"Wooh, good one, G-man," said Faith, wiping at the tears that had appeared from laughing so hard.
"Yeah," Buffy agreed, still laughing. "Me... in one of Faith's outfits. That's a really good joke, Giles."
Scowling slightly, Giles muttered something under his breath before he disappeared back into the kitchen. As they watched this, the two Slayers shrugged then returned to watching and debating over the brilliance that was Looney Tunes cartoons.
It was a debate that continued even after Cordelia picked them both up to drive them to school.
And just like Giles, the tall brunette soon found herself annoyed with the conversation and the way that the Slayers seemed to devolve into kids when around each other.
But sadly, there wasn't anything they could do about it other than observe and complain inwardly. For to attempt to complain outwardly was just met with looks of utter adorable confusion from the two girls who had no idea of just how they acted while sharing the same space.
Whether this was a good or bad thing no one really knows. They just knew that it wasn't something very likely to change anytime in the near future.
Which was an issue all unto itself.
Willow wasn't sure which was funnier. Faith and Buffy debating over what Marvin the Martian really looked like underneath his obviously fiendish blank face disguise or the look of despair on Cordelia's features.
She decided that it had to be Cordelia.
"Discussing the almighty cartoons again, are we?" Willow asked, recalling the conversation that Xander had told her about. The one where Buffy and Cordelia almost got physical over who was the superior dresser, Jem or She-ra. An argument that Willow felt was severely limited since the best cartoon dresser had to be, without question, Daphne from Scooby Doo. "I'm glad to see that our group is sticking to reliable topics."
"Save me and shut them up," Cordelia mock moaned as she grabbed onto Willow's arm. "They've been like this for almost fifteen minutes now."
"Poor baby," said Willow, laughing now.
Just then, the first bell went off and Faith looked to Cordelia and said, "We better go to Latin class, sweets."
"Thank god," Cordelia said with a sigh, taking Faith's hand in her own and dragging the dark Slayer off before she could say goodbye to their friends.
"They're a really top and bottom couple," Buffy noted, watching as they disappeared.
"Uhmm... bad mental picture," said Willow slowly.
"Sorry," said Buffy with a laugh.
They were silent for a moment before Willow looked at Buffy rather shyly and said, "Buffy... about last night... I just wanted to say thank you. For saving me." She paused then added sheepishly, "Again."
"Hey," Buffy murmured, moving forward to touch the top of Willow's hand lightly. "You don't have to thank me. It's my job and... well, I wanted to do it. You're my friend, Will, and friends help each other out. No questions asked and no thanks having to be given the next day. Okay?"
"Okay," Willow whispered, giving a nod.
Buffy smiled and looking at Willow, something caught her eye. Leaning forward, she gently straightened the yellow button that she'd given the redhead and said, "I guess my gift wasn't so bad compared to the others then?"
"It was the best gift of all," said Willow quietly, her green eyes shining brightly as she said this.
"Good," said Buffy. Her eyes scanned Willow's features and noted the almost downtrodden expression that the other girl wore. "Hey," she said quietly. "What's the matter? You know that you can tell me."
"It... it's just that this is all my fault," Willow said, her features distant. "Because of me, you and Faith are in even more danger than before. Kakistos... he's after me, because of who I once was... because of who I am now. I'm putting both of you in danger. It's... it's not fair."
Reaching out, Buffy clasped Willow's hands in her own. She gently rubbed the soft skin with the tops of her callused thumbs then said, "Life isn't fair, Will, but it's still life and we have to move on. You're not Nerine anymore. And as for Kakistos, who cares what he wants?" Buffy formed a silly grin then tipped her head down to look into Willow's green eyes. "It's not like we're going to give some ancient vamp what he wants, is it?"
"You're right," said Willow slowly, smiling now. "I guess I should stop worrying so much about things."
"That's my girl," Buffy beamed. She paused to look threatening then said, "Good thing you said that because if you were going to keep on moping I'd have to go and get my super duper prozac army and send them after you."
"Oh no!" Willow said in mock terror. "Not the prozac army! Everyone depressed fears their awesome might!"
"As they should," said Buffy solemnly with a nod.
The two girls were quiet for a moment before they broke out into laughter. And somehow, as they laughed, it just seemed natural to move into a hug.
Breathing in a intoxicating scent of wild flowers, as if she was in the middle of a beautiful field, Willow felt herself bury her face further into Buffy's neck without even knowing just why she was doing so. Buffy in the meantime was focused on the lingering hint of incense that clung to the redhead's clothing. Almost like it was a part of her very essence.
"Thank you," Willow whispered into Buffy's ear. "I know that you don't want me to, but thank you. For being here. For listening to me. I... really appreciate it, Buffy."
"I wanted to," Buffy replied quietly, her mind unable to focus on her words or Willow's, her senses lost totally in the feeling of holding Willow in her arms. It was such a very comforting feeling. Like coming home. "And I want you to know you can tell me anything. I mean it. I'll always try to be here for you."
Pulling away, Willow inspected Buffy's earnest features and said with raspy emotion, "Thank yo--"
"No," Buffy murmured, placing her index finger tenderly over Willow's full lips. "Stop doing that. Friends don't thank friends for doing what's right." Her expression softened as she added, "For doing what they want to do."
Fighting back the urge to kiss Buffy's finger as it slowly pulled away from her lips, Willow swallowed the lump in her throat and gave a shaky nod of her head.
Buffy studied Willow for a moment longer, seeming to consider something, before she closed her eyes and snapped out of whatever daze she put herself in. Then rising to her feet, she smiled and said, "As much as I don't want to admit it, what I ought to be doing is going to study hall. Don't you have music class, Will?"
Blinking at Buffy's comment, Willow's green eyes went wide and she gasped then said, "You're right!"
Chuckling at Willow's reaction, Buffy offered her hand to the other girl who shyly accepted it. The Slayer then pulled her quickly to her feet and said, "Better get going then. Don't want to get a tardy, do we?"
"No," said Willow quietly, meeting Buffy's eyes and losing herself in their hazel depths. "We don't."
With that, the two girls headed off on their separate ways as they went to class. But somehow, even though they were apart a connection still remained.
It was a connection that neither of them completely understood but could slowly feel forming between them.
They just had to find out what the connection meant for them and to them. Which would be an easy enough thing for both of them to do.
Or would it?