Faith the Genius
“I am a gigantic idiot.”
Willow sat on Faith’s floor, knees pulled up to her chest, head in hands. She was taking this really hard. Buffy had listened to her self-deprecation ever since Heaton had drawn the day’s proceedings to a close. Lucy Porter practically had an orgasm because of the not-success of the portal opening.
“Will, that’s not true. You’re actually quite short,” Xander knelt down and patted her shoulder. Off her scowl he added. “And slender.”
Buffy closed the door to Faith’s apartment. She shed her jacket and pulled her hair free from the clip it had been bound in all day.
Xander looked at Buffy for some kind of help in consoling the witch but Buffy just shrugged, not entirely sure what she could say to make the redhead feel better.
The man scratched his chin absently. “I mean, it’s not like Buffy’s whole defence rested on you opening that portal.”
Willow gave him a very pointed look and Buffy rolled her eyes. Xander always knew the exact thing not to say. Not that she was much better, of course. She wasn’t sure how she felt about the way the trial would go from here. Despite Xander’s little comment, her defence most definitely had rested on that portal being opened. Norman had tried to assure her that they still had plenty of things on her side but Buffy knew he was worried. Extremely worried. Personally, she was kind of taking it in her stride.
She’d like to be able to say it wasn’t like her to be so detached from something so important; but it was. She’d been this way for a while now.
“I’m sorry, Buffy.” Willow sounded pretty distraught. “I don’t understand what went wrong.”
The Slayer crossed the room to her friend. “Its okay, Will. We’ll be okay.”
But then it wasn’t really about them. It was about her. It was her life, her freedom on the line. Buffy managed a slight smile that she hoped was reassuring before she turned back to the ‘kitchen’ of Faith’s apartment. She was suddenly starving.
“It was probably just performance anxiety. Everyone gets it. Not…not that I’d know,” Xander slipped an arm around Willow’s shoulder.
Willow shook her head. “No. No way. I’ve done bigger spells. Under more pressure.”
With the sparse ingredients in the vampire’s apartment Buffy just about managed to scrape together enough to make a sandwich and set about that task as her old friends mulled over what had happened. Buffy found herself wondering why Spike wasn’t here, trying to tell her it’d be okay. Then she remembered he had a daughter and a whole other life and she should stop being so goddamn self-centred. Still, he had fled the courtroom pretty fast and with barely a goodbye.
Buffy frowned as she picked up her wholesome yet non-fattening sandwich. It wasn’t like Spike to at least tell her not to worry. Shrugging, she bit into the sandwich. He’d been acting strangely all day, anyway. Maybe it was his time of the month.
“Things not go well, I take it?” Faith muttered coming up to the side of her, yanking a cupboard open.
Buffy hadn’t even realised the vampire was at home. From the way her hair was tied up in a messy ponytail – a rare sight – and the loose cord pants she wore, Buffy guessed she had been sleeping in the corner on her mattress. Buffy really needed to retest her spidey-sense.
She swallowed the food. “Portal didn’t open.”
“Bummer,” Faith slammed the door shut, bag of blood substitute in hand. “Wasn’t that like the one thing you had?” her voice was casual, disinterested.
Buffy nodded. “Pretty much.”
“Sucks,” she replied in the same tone, barely awake.
The Slayer nodded again and watched in disgusted fascination as the vampire bit into the bag and gulped down the room-temperature synthetic blood. She didn’t even vamp out, just used her normal blunt teeth. Buffy found that odd but was too busy watching to comment. Faith glanced her way and saw she was being studied.
“What? You thirsty? Plenty to share,” she arched an eyebrow.
Buffy pretended to consider this. “Nah, I’m good. So nice of you to offer, though.”
“I’m all about the niceties,” Faith turned her back and finished the blood. She tossed the bag out of the window. Buffy was torn between being appalled and amused. The vampire spun around, wiping the remainder of the liquid from her lips.
“Are Pinky and the Brain goin’ to be here all day? A girl needs to change.”
Xander looked up at that. “Don’t let us stop you.”
“Dude, I told you. You got to see all this one time. Never again. I’m sorry, I know it’s hard,” Faith looked at Buffy and murmured. “Probably literally.”
Xander heard. “Hey! I’m a married man.”
“Someone better tell your wife she married a pervert,” Faith smiled wickedly.
Xander stood and pulled Willow up by her arm. He tried for indignant. “Fine. We’ll be going then. Buffy, it’ll be fine. We’ll come up with something.”
Faith folded her arms. “Yeah, with Xander on the case how could you lose?”
“Shut up, Faith.” Xander huffed and the two of them made a slow exit. Buffy glanced at Faith. The vampire looked back at her. Buffy was pretty sure she had ushered her friends out because she knew Buffy didn’t know what to say to them. That could be called considerate and Faith had never been that.
“What?” Faith shrugged offhandedly and walked away, pulling her tank-top over her head and tossing it away. It landed on the windowsill forlornly.
Buffy said nothing, instead she decided to be a good girl and finish her sandwich. She walked over to the window and looked out, just to keep herself occupied. Faith left the apartment – sans top – to use the shared bathroom.
Buffy thought about tomorrow. Heaton had said it would be the day for character witnesses. That meant Willow, Xander and Spike would have to try and convince him that she was a good person. With the way she had been treating them lately she didn’t know if it was going to work out well or not. Presumably Lucy would be able to call people to speak out against her as well. Buffy was so looking forward to tomorrow.
“Thinking ’bout making a break for it?” Faith asked and this time she did make Buffy jump.
The Slayer turned around to face her.
“’Cos if you do, as your guardian, I’d have to jump you,” she explained.
Buffy arched an eyebrow. “I wouldn’t give you the excuse.”
Faith laughed a little and crossed the room to a heap of clothes on the floor. She had a threadbare towel tied tightly across her collarbone, her long dark hair clinging together in wet clumps.
She turned back with clothes in her hands. “So what went wrong with the spell? Willow choke?”
“Don’t know. Just didn’t work.”
“All foreplay, no climax.” Faith wrinkled up her nose. “Hate it when that happens.”
Buffy rolled her eyes and turned back to the window as Faith got dressed.
“You know,” Faith was saying. “Way I heard it…that spell to open the portal? First time you did it, didn’t you need puppets or something? Maybe that’s the missing ingredient. Kermit and Fonzy.”
Buffy rolled her eyes then straightened up and spun around. Faith was pulling her shirt over her head but the Slayer barely noticed. “Faith! When did you become a genius?”
“Don’t know.” She snorted, smoothing the shirt down.
“The reason the spell didn’t work? Willow didn’t use the Shadowmen’s tools. She just went straight for a generic portal opening spell. But this isn’t a generic portal. It’s steeped in Slayer lore, in something much deeper than classic magick,” Buffy’s eyes lit up and she gestured at Faith. “D’you see?”
“Uh, no.” Faith slid a belt through the loops on her jeans and buckled it.
The Slayer frowned. “We proably need that Slayer’s kit. Damn it!”
“Well, it must have been buried when Sunnydale got caved in.”
Faith tilted her head, brow creased. “Wait. Do you mean that big-assed bag that Robin had?”
Buffy nodded then stopped. “You knew Robin?”
“I came to Sunnydale a little after you’d gone on your long vacation. Met him, had him, you know how it goes.”
“No, I really don’t.”
“Point is; he carried that thing with him everywhere. Belonged to his mom. He had this whole thing about his mom.” Faith pulled a face. “I’m bettin’ he’s still got it. Probably stashed it away somewhere safe.”
Buffy’s face lit up. “Faith, I could kiss you!”
The other Slayer didn’t look entirely adverse to that idea.
“But I won’t,” she added.
+ + +
“It’s definitely worth a try,” Spike nodded, even though Buffy couldn’t see him down the phone.
Oh, he had video calling but she hadn’t mastered the art of it yet and any attempts to do so usually resulted in him talking to a fuzzy image of her cleavage. He didn’t really mind this but she seemed to.
So, it was old-fashioned phone talking for now.
“You know where he is?” She asked.
Spike sat outside on his patio steps, toes pushed into the cool grass of his back yard. “No. Could find out, though.”
“You’ve got contacts?” Buffy said, voice mildly excited. “You’re like James Bond. The suit. The contacts. The…suit.”
Spike laughed. “No. I’ve got a copy of the phonebook and some time on my hands. How many Robin Woods can there be? Not too many mums that cruel.”
There was a shuffling sound. “Right. Well, I could do the phonebook thing too…Maybe with you. I mean, I could come over.”
Spike closed his eyes and rubbed at the deep creases in his forehead. “It’s probably better if you get a good nights sleep. Leave this to me. It’s about time I did something useful.”
“Oh, okay,” she paused. “But you are useful. Just to let you know. You have many uses.”
“Good to know.”
“I didn’t mean that in a ‘I’d like to use you’ way!” Buffy replied a little too quickly. “Oh, god. I shouldn’t be allowed to speak.”
Spike laughed deeply this time.
“I’m sorry,” she added, sounding sincere and also extremely embarrassed.
He looked out into the starry night. “You’ve got no reason to be. Get some sleep. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
There was a long pause and neither of them hung up.
“Buffy, you should hang up now.”
“Right,” still she paused. “’Night, Spike.”
The line disconnected, beeping in his ear. He sighed and put the phone down. He buried his toes deeper in the grass. Rubbed his hands along the wooden steps.
“Why don’t you just tell her?” Mya asked from the doorway.
Spike didn’t look back at her, kept his eyes fixed on the darkness before him. How could his daughter, his teenage daughter, be wiser than him when it came to love? She seemed to know better than Spike did what he felt for Buffy. It disconcerted him, to have someone so easily read into what he was feeling. No one had been able to ascertain his feelings. No-one. Not since he’d closed the open and honest part of himself off.
“It’s not that easy,” was all he said.
And that was that.
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