full 3/4 1/2   skin light dark       
Out of the Shadows by Aurora
Chapter Thirteen-If You Don't Know, I'm Not Going to Tell You
<<     >>
A/N:This next chap is unbetaed. I finished up my chap and am still waiting to hear back from my beta (the wonderful Darkezza) but I don't know when I'll have the time to post it after today. So here it is, unrefined for now.

Chapter Thirteen: If You Don’t Know, I’m Not Going to Tell You

“Someone want to tell me what this convicted felon is doing in my house?” Buffy demanded to know, her voice wavering with stifled fury, glaring venomously at the brunette who stood awkwardly before her.

After a few moments of silence, Giles cleared his throat. “Willow brought Faith back with her from L.A.”

Buffy turned her head to stare disbelievingly at the redheaded witch, wondering what the hell her best friend must’ve been thinking to bring Faith to Sunnydale.

“Willow. Giles,” Buffy said as calmly as she could, “Upstairs. Now.”

Not waiting for a response, Buffy let go of Spike’s hand and stormed up the stairs. She was immediately followed by an anxious Wicca and a contemplative Watcher.

The vampire retreated back into the dark corner of the hall, quietly leaning up against the staircase, watching those left behind, namely Andrew, Xander and the newly arrived slayer. He wasn’t feeling very social at the moment, having had his fill of fun for the night. The whole cathartic experience of having that hallucinogenic stone shoved up into his brain had exhausted him. He’d been really looking forward to going to bed, to falling asleep with Buffy in his arms. Too bad nothing ever went as planned.

“So Faith,” Xander uneasily approached the wayward slayer, careful not to get too close. “How was the big house?” he asked, feeling as though someone should break the uncomfortable silence.

Faith shrugged nonchalantly. “Crowded,” she briefly replied.

Andrew drew closer to her, his camcorder already in hand. “I was wondering if I could possibly get an interview,” he excitedly requested. “What do you think about, ‘Faith: The Slayer Who Lost Her Way’?” Andrew asked, holding his hand up in the air, waving it from side to side to exaggerate the title.

Faith stared at him incredulously. “Is this kid for real?”

“Now Andrew,” Xander said, laughing nervously as he pulled the geek away from the irritated slayer. “Why don’t we give Faith some space, huh?”

“Oh. Okay,” Andrew conceded. “You’re probably really tired from your trip anyway,” he added, having convinced himself that her sour disposition was most likely due to fugitive-on-the-run grumpiness and not his movie making enthusiasm.

“Here’s an idea, Andrew,” Xander chimed in a little too eagerly. “Why don’t you find a place for Faith to bunk for the night?”

“I bet Anya wouldn’t mind sharing Dawn’s room with Faith,” the boy casually suggested. “If anyone could handle an ex-con, it’s a woman who spent the past millennia with vengeance as her M.O.”

Xander blanched at the idea. The last thing he wanted was for his ex-fiancé to share a room with the once homicidal slayer who he had taken his virginity. He’d either find one of them a mangled corpse in the morning or even worse, they’d bond over their one commonality. Him.

“I don’t think that’ll work. That room’s already pretty full,” he lamely rejected the suggestion.

“I dunno, I bet if we tie her up, we could find some space for her in my closet,” an unexpected voice sounded from up the stairs.

All heads shot up, their surprised gazes falling upon Dawn as she made her way down the stairs. She had been awake this whole time, having decided to stay up until she heard the customary sounds of Buffy and Spike packing it in for the night. She hadn’t been able to get to sleep until she knew they were both okay. That and Anya’s foghorn of a snore could rival that of any hibernating bear.

Dawn, however, had never heard the reassuring banter that usually accompanied the couple’s trek to bed. Instead she had picked up on someone storming past her room. When she had opened her bedroom door a smidgen of the way to peek out into the hallway, she’d spotted Giles and Willow stepping into Buffy’s room just as the door was slowly closing behind them. With Spike no where in sight, Dawn immediately knew something was up.

Naturally she went to investigate what all the commotion was about. Staring intently at the brunette slayer at the bottom of the stairs, Dawn had her answer. Faith was back.

“Check it out. Brat’s all woman-sized now,” the Slayer teasingly commented.

Dawn crossed her arms over her pink pajama clad chest. “Shouldn’t you be rotting away in some jail cell?” she maliciously inquired.

“And she’s grown to be so much like her big sis,” Faith sardonically observed.

“Huh,” Dawn scoffed. “Does that mean you’re gonna try to kill me too?” she asked, glaring menacingly at the slayer.

Faith flinched slightly at the teen’s scathing remark. “Guess I deserve that.”

“No, you deserve worse,” Dawn bit back before turning her attention to an awkwardly mute Xander. “Does she have to stay here?” she asked, purposefully talking about Faith as though she weren’t in the room.

Xander released a worn out sigh. “Yeah, she does.”

“Fine,” Dawn responded sharply. “But it’ll be a cold day in hell before she sleeps in my room.” And with that, the Slayer’s little sister proceeded to stomp back up the stairs.

On her way up, Dawn spotted Spike hiding in the shadows. She gave him an inquisitive quirk of the brow, which he responded with a wink and a smirk. Despite the high tensions that she’d left in her wake, Dawn traveled up the stairs with big smile on her face.

Xander scratched his head. “Uhhh…why don’t you take the couch,” he offered, pointing to the sofa that had been Andrew’s spot for the past few nights.

“Hey!” the ex-Trio member protested. “Where am I supposed to sleep?”

Xander shrugged. “There’s an empty cot in the basement,” he retorted.

Andrew huffed and gave his most petulant pout. “Why can’t the wanted fugitive get the cot?”

“Because as much as Faith would probably love to spend another night surrounded by cement walls, I think the polite thing to do would be to offer her the couch,” Xander explained matter-of-factly.

“This is exactly what happened to Sam when Frodo fell for Gollum’s whole redemption act. And do you know what happened? Middle Earth was almost lost!” Andrew heatedly argued.

Xander tilted his head back to look exasperatedly up at the ceiling. “Do you even think before you open your mouth?”

“I’ll just take the basement, alright?” Faith interrupted, tired of all the trouble her sudden arrival was causing.

“Great,” Andrew said cheerfully. “But we’re still on for that exclusive interview, right?” he asked the Slayer anxiously as he started to head off in the direction of the living room.

Faith rolled her eyes. “Sure thing, Barbara Walters.”

Andrew paused for a few moments at the supposed insult, giving Faith a pondering purse of the lips. “I’d like to think my style’s a little more cinematic, a little more documentary and not so journalistic, but still totally aggressive. I’d say it’s kinda like Ron Howard meets Michael Moore but with Peter Jackson’s attention to detail.”

The Slayer stared at the nerd, unsure how to respond to his name dropping babble. “Uh huh.”

“I got fight sequences that are so Ang Lee and I’m not afraid to get down to the nitty gritty. Just ask Xander. I interviewed him and Anya a year after he left her at the altar,” he bragged. “Angst you could cut with a knife. You should watch it some time.”

Faith, somewhat taken aback by the news, glanced over at Xander, whose expression was a cross between that of fatigue and looking as though he was ready to beat Andrew from an inch of his life. She thought it best to drop the subject entirely. “Look, I’m real beat. How’s about we hold off on the movie screening until after the apocalypse.”

Andrew nodded sympathetically. “I understand. There’s little time to spare in the fight against Evil. Well goodnight,” he waved, heading off to get to sleep.

Xander rubbed the back of his neck. “Thanks for not encouraging him,” he said gratefully.

Faith continued to play it nonchalant. “No biggie. He was kinda gettin’ on my nerves too.”

Xander smiled at the comment. “You better get used to it. He’s like this twenty-four seven,” he informed her.

“I can handle the Spielberg wannabe,” she good-naturedly replied.

“Wait a week. You’ll be itching to smother him in his sleep like the rest of us,” he said, grinning as he grabbed his coat, pulling his car keys from his pocket.

“You heading out?” she asked suspiciously.

“I’m going home to my much neglected apartment, which is currently one hundred percent teenage girl free,” he answered, clearly eager to get home and enjoy the peace and solitude.

“Free of any women for that matter,” Spike muttered under his breath.

Faith snorted as Xander chose to ignore the vampire’s affront to his virility. “If you need anything, just ask the Bleached Wonder over here,” he told the Slayer as he headed out the door. “Goodnight.”

Faith sighed as she waved goodbye. She might have just finished sharing a cordial moment with Xander but it was evident that he was dying to get as far from her as possible. By the reactions of those she had encountered since she had stepped into the Summers’s home, it was clear that time had not healed all wounds.

She was beginning to wonder if it would’ve been better if she’d simply stayed in L.A. Angel, when he had his soul, wasn’t one to judge her. Wes, who had turned into a major hottie in the time she’d been incarcerated, seemed to have forgiven her for torturing him a few years back. Working with Angel’s gang hadn’t been too bad either. They’d all been willing to bring her into the fold. Sure Angel’s brat kid had been a pain in the ass at first, but at least they hadn’t made her feel like a complete pariah. At least they’d given her a chance.

“Whelp’s sure eager at gettin’ as far away from you as possible, luv,” Spike noted, his words reflecting her earlier thoughts.

Faith could only shrug. “I guess it’s just weird for him, being around me. Probably reminds him of the night I made him a man,” she cheekily stated.

Her casually naughty attitude was just a smokescreen though. She didn’t want anyone, let alone William the Bloody, to know how she truly felt. Although the taking of Xander’s virginity might’ve been a factor in his discomfort, Faith knew that when she was around he couldn’t help but remember all the horrible things she’d done to him and his friends. He could probably still feel her hands around his neck, how they could strangle every last breath from his body. The guy had plenty of reason to be edgy around her.

Spike quirked his brow upon hearing this latest tidbit concerning the whelp’s past. “Huh,” he uttered, not sounding too surprised or really impressed. “Guess it makes it official. The Glorified Brick Layer’s got a death wish when it comes to the courtin’ the opposite sex,” he commented, shaking his head slightly as he turned on his heel. “C’mon,” he said, gesturing to the kitchen with a flick of his head.

Faith followed quietly, still feeling kinda shaky about the vamp ahead of her. The last she remembered Spike had gotten himself implanted with a behavioral modification chip, making him pretty much harmless. She also distinctively remembered that he didn’t much like Buffy. Obviously things had changed since Faith had left Sunnydale.

Spike was pulling for the good guys now and it didn’t take a genius to spot how comfy he was at Buffy’s side. The hand holding had been a dead give away. Also she could’ve sworn she’d seen fresh bite marks on Buffy’s neck. But that was impossible. As far as she knew Miss Tightly Wound would never throw down like that. Faith’s eyes had to have been playing tricks on her. Hell, she was still reeling from the fact that Buffy would even involve herself with a soulless vampire. Things had changed indeed.

Spike made a beeline for the fridge, pulling out two bottles of beer before taking a quick inventory of how many he had left. Satisfied that the girls were wise enough not to filch any of his beer, he handed one to Faith.

“Thanks,” she said with a hint of confusion.

If Spike was Buffy’s man, he had to know there was no love lost between the two slayers and he probably knew the reasons why. So if he knew what she’d done to his girl, why was he being all decent?

Spike continued to maneuver around the kitchen, grabbing his duster from off the kitchen counter. Moving to the back door, he asked, “Care for a smoke?”

“God yes,” Faith ardently admitted, trailing behind the vampire as he stepped onto the back porch.

Pulling out his pack of smokes from his pocket, he tossed it to Faith.

She eagerly pulled out a cigarette and placed it between her lips. Before she could even ask for a light Spike flicked open his once lost silver lighter.

He’d found it a few days back in Buffy’s room when he’d been searching her closet for weapons, in a box filled some of his old things and a few pictures he never knew she’d taken of him. Stumbling upon that collection of Spike paraphernalia provided him with a bit more insight into how Buffy felt for him. She wanted to remember him, to have proof that he was hers. It was just further evidence that Buffy did love him, even if she still couldn’t say it.

Faith leaned in, allowing the tip of the cigarette to enter the flame, pulling back when it started to glow orange. Sucking in and exhaling a deep breath of smoke, she sighed as the nicotine did its job in calming her nerves. “Thanks. I really needed that,” she said, handing back his pack of cigarettes.

Spike shrugged as he lit up a smoke of his own. “No problem,” he replied, twisting off the cap of his beer as he took a seat on the porch steps.

Faith mimicked his actions, opening her beer as she sat down next to the vampire. Taking a gulp, she sighed again. “You know a couple of months back I would’ve done anything for a few minutes alone with a good beer and a pack of smokes.”

“Better savor the moment then, Slayer. Far few instances in these parts to get a lil’ down time,” Spike genially replied, taking a swig of beer.

Faith blew out a stream of grey smoke as she stared at the vampire skeptically. “Okay, what gives?”

“Not sure I follow,” he responded, genuinely uncertain about what she was trying to call him on.

“C’mon. You’re totally going out of your way to be Mr. Hospitality when you should be giving me the brush off like everybody else,” she clarified accusingly. “So again I ask, what gives?”

Spike was ready to deny that he was doing her any favors but stopped himself short when it suddenly made sense to him as to why the bird would be so suspicious. He wasn’t being a prick about the fact that there was bad blood between her and his girl, and he wasn’t giving her the cold shoulder like the rest of the Scoobies. Spike was just hoping it would’ve all come off as indifference but apparently treating this girl like a human being was considered some great act of generosity.

So why was he extending the not so blatant olive branch to Faith? He wanted to say that he hadn’t the foggiest clue but he knew that would’ve been a bald faced lie. Spike was giving Faith the benefit of the doubt because no one had given it to him, because he saw much of himself in the Slayer. She was a woman who had committed a few unsavory crimes in her lifetime, who had turned to the dark side because she had felt abandoned by the world. And now that she has seen the error of her ways and has started on the road to redemption, those whose forgiveness she so desperately needs have already branded her as untrustworthy and, worse yet, as undeserving. It was as though history were repeating itself, though this time around Faith was playing the part of Spike.

The vampire shrugged. “Just know what it’s like to be the black sheep ‘round here.”

Faith smiled. “Thing is, you gotta still be part of the group to be considered the black sheep. Right now, I’d say I’m slowly working my way up from social outcast,” she joked, taking a sip of her beer. “But thanks, though, for cuttin’ me some slack,” she added seriously.

Spike took a draw from the cigarette pinched between his fingers. “It’s not like we ever met. I’ve got no real beef with you,” he reasoned.

“That’s not true,” Faith quickly disagreed.

Spike gave her a perplexed frown. “What’s not?”

“We have met,” she enlightened him.

Spike shook his head in dismissal. “I’m not too old that I would’ve forgotten crossin’ paths with you, Slayer.”

“I wasn’t myself at the time,” she said cautiously. “I was kind of sporting a different body.”

Spike continued to stare at Faith as though she were cursing in Fyarl. “The body swap. With Buffy,” he uttered suddenly as it finally dawned on him.

“So she did fill you in on that whole deal,” Faith said, not really surprised.

“She told me it went down. Failed to mention who was driving her skin around,” he replied, still a bit unnerved by the revelation.

“I may have said a few things…” she started hesitantly.

“Like you could ride me at a gallop 'til my knees buckle, squeeze me 'til I pop like warm champagne,” he cut in, repeating the words she had once spoken to him. “That's not the kind of thing a man forgets.”

“Guess not seeing as how you’re now doing the steady thing with Blondie,” Faith commented casually as she took a gulp of her beer.

“You think you had anything to do with that?”

“Nah. I’m not that full of myself,” she replied, chuckling. “But I bet I planted the seed of possibility, huh?”

Spike didn’t respond. Smug slayer was right. After that confrontation at the Bronze the vampire had started to see Buffy in a new light. It wasn’t that he’d fallen in love with her. No, that wouldn’t happen for at least another year. It had nothing to do with love and everything to do with lust. Their magically inspired engagement had initiated it but that night at the Bronze had cemented his curiosity. The flames of desire had been kindled, and though he would’ve never admitted it, Spike could no longer look at Buffy without imagining the things she had presumably described doing to him. It had all been downhill from there.

“Gotta say I’m kinda surprised B would get with a vamp lacking in the soul department,” Faith casually commented.

“Who’s to say I don’t,” Spike replied demurely. “Have a soul, that is.”

Faith could only gape at the vampire sitting next to her. “You have a soul?” she asked, absolutely astonished.


Faith continued to gawk. “So you’re like Angel?”

Spike scoffed. “I’m nothing like Angel. For one thing, I wasn’t cursed with a soul. I won mine back,” he stated, stifling the growl that instinctively rumbled in his throat whenever he was compared to his Grand Sire. “Plus Angel’s as dull as a lamp and we have very different coloring,” he fervently added.

Faith’s brown eyes widened at the news. “Whoa,” she uttered before smirking. “Kinda touchy aren’t we?”

“You tellin’ me you enjoy it whenever you get compared to Buffy?” he asked indignantly.

The Slayer frowned at the question. “That’s different.”

Spike snorted. “It’s the same soddin’ thing,” he countered. “Don’t feel so great havin’ to play second fiddle to the person everyone else places on a bleedin’ pedestal.”

Faith seemed unconvinced by Spike’s last remark. “So you don’t treat Buffy like she’s God’s gift to humanity?”

“At first I might’ve made her out to be this unattainable example of perfection,” he admitted. “Then I got real friendly with her darker side. I can say from experience that Buffy is anything but perfect. And I love her despite and because of her flaws. It’s not about pedestals anymore. She survived me and I her and because of that we’re closer than we’ve ever been. There were some major road bumps but I wouldn’t change what we went through.

“Everyone around here experienced a few reality checks of their own where Buffy is concerned. But old habits die hard and they forget that she’s just a woman with a cross to bear. And that’s the difference between them and me. I’ll never make Buffy out to be something she isn’t because I’ve been to a place with her that no one has and that no one probably ever will.”

Faith gave Spike a mildly impressed look as she took a swig of her beer. “Guess you guys really are serious, huh?”

Spike couldn’t help but smile. “Like a heart attack.”


Buffy paced her room, clearly aggravated by Faith’s unexpected appearance. She ignored Willow and Giles’s pleas for her to sit with them on her bed so that they could discuss the issue at hand. Buffy was too livid to sit.

She wasn’t going to deny that having Faith on their side wouldn’t put them at a greater advantage against the First. It was just that… well for one thing, it was Faith for crying out loud!

It was the same Faith who had killed remorselessly, who had betrayed them all by allying herself with the Mayor; the same slut who had tried to seduce Angel, and when that had failed had tried to poison him to get back at her; the same psycho bitch who had stolen her body and who tricked Riley into having sex. And it was still the same Faith who had forced Buffy to first become acquainted with her own darker side in order to kill the other slayer in an attempt to save the vampire she loved.

It was a darkness she never knew she possessed; never knew she could tap into. It was only last year that she had come to know how deep that darkness ran within her but she would’ve never discovered its existence if it hadn’t been for Faith. And for that Buffy could never forgive the woman presently standing downstairs in her front hall. No matter what Willow claimed, Buffy couldn’t believe that Faith had completely reformed.

Despite her mistrust and hatred of Faith, what was really getting on Buffy’s nerves was that she had been totally blindsided by the other slayer’s arrival. The fact that she had had no idea Faith was out of jail, let alone on her way to Sunnydale, made Buffy feel as though she was losing control.

It seemed as though the past few months had just been problem after problem. First it had been the unwilling possession of her body by that other worldly demon mist and the prophecy that had accompanied it, then it had been the second go at her relationship with Spike, and after that it had been Spike’s de-triggering and Wood’s unexpected freak-out. As trying and as stressful all those trials and tribulations had been, Buffy, for the most part, had felt like she still had a grip on things. Faith’s arrival, however, had completely thrown her for a loop and now everything just felt chaotic, as though it was all slipping out of her hands.

She wasn’t going to acknowledge the insecurities that instinctively reemerged with Faith’s reappearance. Buffy wasn’t about to admit that deep down she feared she would be supplanted by Faith, that the Potentials would suddenly shift loyalties and follow the slayer with a dark past. She didn’t want to own up to the dread she felt over Faith’s past fixations with her previous boyfriends neither. When the other slayer had first shown up in Sunnydale only a couple of months after Kendra’s death, there had been a period of time during that first week that Buffy had felt, to be completely honest, a little inadequate when compared to the buxom brunette. Those feelings had quickly vanished once Faith had gone off the deep end and went all sociopathic murderer on them. But no matter how short lived, they had still manifested in Buffy. And though unwilling on her part, those unwanted feelings had returned.

She hated that she still felt like Faith was not only intruding on her solo gig as ‘Slayer’ but how she always seemed to make Buffy look like she was some kind of stick in the mud. Just because she took her job seriously and had a stronger sense of right and wrong didn’t mean Buffy was some prudish, goody two shoes. Yet she knew that like her friends four years before, the Potentials would be easily impressed and eager to befriend the hipper and morally ambiguous Slayer.

She also couldn’t shake her automatic suspicion of Faith in regards to her meddling in her love life. Call it possessiveness or jealousy or just simply pathetic, Buffy didn’t care. And could anyone blame her? Faith had messed with two of her prior relationships and if she wasn’t careful she might throw a monkey wrench into a third. It was another reason why Buffy couldn’t sit. She knew she needed to talk to Giles and Willow but she hated that she had to leave Spike down there with the boyfriend stealing skank. At times images would pop into her head of what Faith was capable of doing to woo away Spike from her, but she pushed them away because if she didn’t, Faith would’ve been a corpse three seconds after she’d walked through the front door.

It wasn’t that she didn’t trust Spike, she just simply wouldn’t trust Faith. Not where her boyfriend was concerned. Thoughts of the possibility of the two of them alone together made her ancy and eager to get back downstairs, but then she would remind herself that Xander and Andrew were down there and that as long as Faith hadn’t scared them away, she wouldn’t make her move on Spike until they were gone. Buffy she just hoped that she got back down there before the opportunity for Faith came a knocking.

“Buffy, I know you weren’t gonna be jumping for joy over this, and I really hate having to say it, but we need Faith,” Willow remarked defensively, her green eyes following her best friend as she paced the room.

“If you mean we need her to be a giant pain in my ass, then sure, add Faith to the team roster,” Buffy sarcastically snapped.

“Buffy I do believe you’re being quite unfair to Willow. She did what she thought was best for all of us. Especially you,” Giles mildly reprimanded.

The Slayer sighed in defeat and glanced over at the redhead sitting on the bed, who at the moment looked as though Buffy had just finished kicking her puppy. “I know. I’m sorry, Will,” she apologized. “I know you meant well but having Faith here right now is just too much for me to deal with. She couldn’t have shown up at a worse time.”

Giles removed his glasses and proceeded to polish them. “I gather you’re referring to…uhh… those,” he said pointing to the fresh bite marks on Buffy’s neck. The one’s Spike had involuntarily given her hours before.

Unconsciously her hand flew up to cover the wounds, but she immediately lowered it as she nodded. “Spike’s trigger has been deactivated,” she bluntly stated. “He was hallucinating and accidentally bit me, but the First isn’t pulling his strings anymore.”

Willow smiled as Giles released a sigh of relief. Though as quickly as the grin had appeared on the witch’s face, it disappeared into a perplexed grimace. “Buffy isn’t that a good thing? I mean, if the problem with Spike is resolved, I don’t see how Faith’s an extra burden.”

“You’re right. The problem with Spike is dealt with but I got a new problem. He’s about yay high,” she said raising her hand to a few feet above her head, “and he’s my boss.”

Giles groaned slightly. “Andrew had caught Robin on tape sprinting out of the basement like a madman but I could only speculate as to what had happened,” he explained. “Please don’t tell me he actually ventured downstairs in an attempt to settle his own score.”

“Okay I won’t tell you,” Buffy replied, somewhat exasperated herself. “But I can tell you that I’m not going into work tomorrow.”

“So Wood’s a bad guy now?” Willow asked, confused.

Buffy shook her head. “It wasn’t against us, just Spike. And I could totally go vindictive bitchy girlfriend on him but it doesn’t matter. He made a mistake and we can’t get distracted from what matters.”

“And right now, what matters Buffy?” Willow asked thoughtfully.

“The mission,” she responded firmly. “That’s why I need this resolved with Wood so we can get back on track,” she determinably stated. “And it’s why Faith being here isn’t such a good thing. We get distracted and the First keeps on getting stronger.”

“So what do you want to do Buffy?” Giles asked calmly, waiting for his Slayer’s response.

Buffy sighed again. “Well she’s already here so there’s no sending her back now. As long as we can get her into the routine as fast as possible, we can get back on schedule.”

Giles nodded in agreement. “Let’s pray that Angel was right in breaking Faith out of jail.”

“Uhh…well, actually, it wasn’t Angel who got her out. It was Wesley,” Willow informed the Watcher and Slayer.

Buffy was somewhat stunned. “Wesley? As in stuffy, everything by the book, super Watcher dork Wesley?”

Willow nodded. “The same one. But he’s not so big on the stuffiness anymore. He’s actually kinda a hunky now,” she said, finishing off with a giggle.

“A hunk? Really?” Buffy asked a little intrigued.

Giles cleared his throat uncomfortably. “As much as I would love to hear of the intrinsic details regarding Wesley’s metamorphosis, isn’t it about time we head back downstairs?”

Buffy nodded. “Let’s get this over with,” she agreed as they filed out of the room. Buffy paused for a second as something in her head just didn’t seem to add up. “What I don’t get is why would Wesley break Faith out? Did it have anything to do with what Angel needed your help with?”

The redhead tensed as she heard her best friend’s question, turning around to apprehensively face Buffy. “Okay, I’ll tell you if you don’t freak out.”

The Slayer seemed even more unsettled. “What happened, Will?”

Willow’s shoulders slumped. What she was about to say was not going to go over well with Buffy. “Faith being busted out of prison did have to do with why I was in L.A.,” she started cautiously. “Angel lost his soul.”

“What?” Buffy automatically asked, not sure if she’d heard right.

“Angelus has returned?” Giles asked, concern evident in his furrowed brow.

Willow vigorously shook her head. “No. I mean he did but we got Angel’s soul back.”

“How did he lose it? Did he…did he sleep with…” Buffy couldn’t finish the question. If Willow said that he’d lost it after sleeping with Faith, she wasn’t sure she could face the other slayer without stabbing her in the gut again. It wasn’t that still bore a torch for the vampire. Angel would always have a place in her heart but the love she once felt for him was gone. She knew that her and Spike were beginning something much more real and much more profound than the puppy love she had had with Angel. It was just that the thought of her ex-boyfriend with the dark slayer simply opened up old wounds and reinforced the insecurities she had about having Faith in her home. Especially anywhere near Spike.

“There was this ubber baddie they were having problems dealing with and they thought that Angelus would know something to help them against this demon,” she started to explain slowly. “So they got some maji guy to remove Angel’s soul.”

“Why would Angelus remember something Angel couldn’t?” Giles inquired, obviously baffled at the fact that Wesley would even consider bringing Angelus back into the world as an option at defeating another enemy.

Willow shrugged. “I think they were getting desperate.”

“I’ll say,” the Watcher responded, trying to suppress the anger he felt over Wesley’s foolishness.

The witch sighed and turned to Buffy. “The plan backfired and not only did Angelus escape but someone stole this mystical jar thing that was holding his soul. Long story short, Faith was there to get him back and my job was to free the soul from its magic container and get it back in Angel. After going through this whole existential mind walk thing with Faith, we got Angel back to his good old self.”

“Mind walk? Like what you and I did when Glory got Dawn?” Buffy wondered.

“I guess,” Willow replied, uncertain of the details regarding what had transpired between Faith and Angel in the past few days.

Buffy nodded at the apologetic tone in Willow’s voice. “Let’s go,” she said, motioning with her head, leading the group to the main hallway where they had left the prodigal slayer.

Buffy became concerned when Xander, Spike and Faith were no where in sight. Spotting Andrew sleeping on the living room couch, she rushed into the dark room, stepping over a few unconscious forms to reach the dormant dork. Shaking him, she tried to wake him. “Andrew, where’s Faith?”

“Mmmmmm…you’ll never get me to join the Dark Side, Vader,” he muttered in his sleep.

“Andrew goddamnit wake up,” Buffy hissed as she shook him harder, venting a bit of frustration on the unsuspecting geek.

“Huh? Wha? Buffy?” he asked rubbing his eyes.

“Where is everyone?” she asked irately.

“Xander went home and I think I heard Faith and Spike go into the kitchen,” he replied, not wishing to give her anymore reason to be any angrier than she already was.

Not saying anything, she left a shaken Andrew to get back to sleep as she walked past Willow and Giles on her way to the kitchen. Marching into the room, again her boyfriend and the home wrecking ho bag were no where to be found. Buffy was about to head into the basement thinking that Spike might have turned in for the night when she heard two familiar voices coming from the back porch. It was them and they sounded a little too friendly.

Buffy’s stomach sank at the thought that it could’ve happened so quickly. That Faith could have sunk her claws in so quickly that in the half an hour Spike was already blinded to her scheme. He was already falling for her innocence act, how she made every guy feel like a white knight for bringing her back onto the path of redemption. It had worked on Angel and now Spike was about to fall for it too.

Buffy wasn’t sure if she wanted to scream at the top of her lungs or just go to bed and cry. It was too much. Even if she was being irrational, and what was happening on the other side of the backdoor was completely innocent, and Spike was simply being uncharacteristically nice to strangers, Buffy couldn’t still help but get upset. Spike needed to be weary of Faith. She needed Spike to be weary of Faith. If he let his guard down, the other slayer would find a way to ruin what the relationship they had been building toward. Even if Faith didn’t want Spike, she’d still do it because the vampire made Buffy happy. It would be the perfect revenge. And it would be revenge because no one can just brush off years of hatred.

Willow and Giles watched as Buffy flew past them after not so gracefully interrogating Andrew.

“Guess this would be a bad time to tell her about the girl in the hospital, huh?” Willow anxiously whispered to the Watcher.

“The doctors said the girl would be unconscious until morning did they not?” he inquired, his eyes never leaving Buffy’s stomping form.

“Yeah,” the witch replied.

“Then let’s leave those matters for a later time. I think Buffy has already dealt with enough for today. It won’t hurt anyone if we leave it until tomorrow,” Giles reasoned, really not wanting to be the one to inform his slayer that there was another player in the game and they were siding with the First.

Willow and Giles had decided to remain in the hallway. If Buffy’s suddenly angry countenance told them anything, it was that things were about to implode within the Summer’s home. The two thought it best to stay out of the line of fire.

Buffy swung the door open to find the two of them sharing a laugh as they drank and smoked. She couldn’t help but notice how comfortable Faith looked sitting next to Spike. Buffy wanted to kill her.

“Well, it's nice to see you two getting along so well,” she said, drawing their attention in her direction.

Picking up on the hint of hostility in Buffy’s voice, Faith stood up and gave the other slayer a hesitant smile. “Yeah. Uh, you just know all the cool vampires, B.”

Buffy chose not to respond to the comment because Faith would’ve been without a head after she’d bitten it off. “Did someone find you a place to sleep tonight?” she curtly asked instead.

Faith only nodded.

“Good.” She turned and marched back into the house without so much a word to Spike.

The brunette turned to the confused vampire. “I think she’s mad at you,” she remarked with a sympathetic tone.

“Picked up on that too, did you?” he replied, sighing wearisomely. Just the perfect way to end an imperfect day.

“You better chase after her before you end up in the dog house,” Faith suggested.

“You okay for the night?” he asked more out of courtesy than true concern.

“I’ll figure it out,” she reassured. “Go on before you get into even more trouble.”

Spike nodded as he dashed into the house, passing by Giles and Willow without the slightest pause, and flying up the stairs to Buffy’s room. The door was closed.

Knocking lightly, Spike called to her. “Buffy, open the door, luv,” he said softly, his tone that of an annoyed plea.

A few seconds passed by before the door opened. He stepped to enter the room but was instead pelted with a pillow and blanket. Grabbing hold of the objects, he stared at his girl in surprise. “Buffy what the hell is going on?”

The Slayer stood in her doorway, dressed in her nightgown, arms crossed over her chest. “I’m too mad at you right now to sleep in the same room as you, let alone the same bed,” she stated in a grave and infuriated tone.

Spike dropped the blanket and pillow to the floor. “’S this about my killin’ time with the slayer bint while you all decided to leave me out of your lil’ powwow?” he asked, feeling himself getting angry. Buffy couldn’t seriously be upset with him just from talking to Faith, could she?

“I wasn’t leaving you out of anything, okay? Faith showing up caught me off guard and I just needed time to calm down,” she replied defensively.

“Obviously we can see that didn’t work. I’ve never seen you so irrational,” he argued.

“If you can’t figure out why I would have a problem with you buddying up to Faith, then we’ve got bigger problems than my being irrational,” Buffy responded in a harsh whisper.

“Are you jealous?” Spike automatically asked, but wished he hadn’t.

“And that’s tells me all I need to know,” Buffy rasped, fighting back the tears. “Goodnight Spike,” she said as she swiftly closed the door.

The vampire stood there dumbfounded. What the hell had just happened? How had he gone from having experienced a very personal ordeal with Buffy and feeling their relationship was stronger because of it to having to sleep in the upstairs hallway outside her door? Was it a crime to be nice to the chit? He knew about the beef Buffy had with Faith and it was understandable that she would feel some resentment toward the girl. After all Faith had tried to kill most of her friends, her mom and even the Poofter before he left Sunnydale. She’d also stolen Buffy’s body and tried to take over her life.

That thought brought him back to Faith’s confession of how it had been her hitting on him at the Bronze a few years back, and not Buffy. In all likelihood that was probably the most innocent thing the Slayer had done while in possession of Buffy’s body. Were there other things Faith had done that his slayer had decided not to inform him about? It might explain why she was being so unreasonable.

Throwing off his duster, he laid down on the floor, resting his head on the pillow as he pulled the blanket over his body. It didn’t smell like Buffy. It was a little musty actually, as though it had spent most of its time in the back of her closet, devoid of any traces of her scent. He had become so accustomed to being bathed in her aroma, to listening to the steady drum of her heartbeat, to being surrounded by her warmth as he slept. Spike sighed dejectedly. It was going to be a rough night.

<<     >>