Chapter Two


 

The Home of Xander Harris
Saturday, September 18, 1999 8:00 A.M.

"Could you put on some clothes, Faith?" Xander says from the living room couch. With remote in hand he turns on his brand new thirty inch TV. Faith had moved in yesterday evening and went straight to bed. This is their morning together.

Xander's Slayer housemate steps right in front of the TV. She stands with her hands on her hips. She is wearing a pair of black menís boxer shorts and a white sleeveless tanktop with the words 'BABY' on the front. "There is nothing here you haven't already seen." She snaps back, reminding him of their one -moment- together.

"Just because you took my innocence doesn't mean you can walk around my house naked," he says. Boy, those Slayer healing powers must really be kicking in. She looks fantastic

"Oh come on. Just how many woman have ever walked around your house naked?" Faith teases.

"That number is not for you to make fun of." he says with a smile. Faith grins back. "So, what are you going to do today."

Taking a seat next to him, and propping her feet on the coffee table she contemplates what will she do. "Well, there's this job fair downtown, wanna come with."

"Absolutely, I need a steady paycheck in the worst way. If I don't find work soon, me and you will be hunting mice in the basement for food."

"I only hunt demons and vampires. The mice are all yours."

"Lets see, you don't cook, you don't clean, you don't do laundry. What will you contribute ton the house." asks in his usual sarcastic way.

Faith moves her hand to Xanderís thigh and gives it a squeeze. "We'll think of something."

Xander gives her a very serious look before responding. "You are very beautiful, Faith."

"Well duh," she offers in a sultry tone.

"And you're sexy."

The hand moves up and down Xanderís thigh again.

"But you are more than that." Her hand stops it's motion as Faith stares at him with a questioning look on her face. "My whole life it sees as though my parents went out of their way to make me feel worthless. High school had a hand in that, too. Anyway, when I was a kid, I used humor to mask my loneliness and pain. I still do. Why do you use violence and your sexuality to mask yours?"

In her entire life, Faith has never been asked that question. "When did you become a psychologist?" she says quickly, rising to her feet and crossing the room. Xander follows her.

"I'm just trying to let you see a different side of yourself. You can do a lot more than kill demons and look good." Xander is not known for his maturity, but at this moment he tries for her sake. "Faith, me and you are really fucked up. We have so much emotional baggage Godzilla couldn't drag it all. But now I've got this house. It ain't much, but it's mine. This is your home now too. Maybe we can start the healing process."

"Is this where I give you a hug?"

"You're not wearing a bra, Faith. No hugs until you put on mammary support."

"Who are you and what did you do with Xander?" Faith laughs running her fingers through her hair before taking a seat at the kitchen table

"I'm the new and improved Xander. I come equipped with built in maturity and responsibility features. With every purchase you get the Xander playhouse, complete with the scantly clad Faith doll with the removable clothing, " he jokes while going to the refrigerator. He removes a carton of milk and gabs two glasses.

Faith finds herself feeling at peace for the first time in a long time. She can tell Xander might just be the one person who understands her. He is as crazy as I am, just in a different way.

"Now, lets see if your Slayer abilities can help you pass the Twinkie test?"

"Is that some new trial used by the Watchers council?"

Opening a box of Twinkies from the cabinet above the sink, he take a seat right next to the brunette beauty.

"No, this is an official Scooby Gang test." He pours her a glass of milk, then one for himself. He now hands her four Twinkies. "Now, young Skywalker, you will learn the ways of the Force. Dip the Twinkie into the milk, soak it, then pull it from the glass and swallow it.

"Piece of cake, X-Man." Never one to back down from a challenge, she unrolls the snack cake and dips it into her glass. Five seconds later she tries to remove it, but it pulls apart and sinks to the bottom of her glass. "Xander, what the hell is this supposed to prove?"

"Try again, young padawan. Let the Force flow through you," Xander says. His butchering of old Star Wars lines continue. "But beware of the Dark Side."

You need a girlfriend so bad. she muses to herself. Taking another Twinkie, she dips again. This time pulling it quicker out of the glass delivers the desired result. Faith brings the milk-drenched snack to her mouth and swallows it. A moan of pleasure escapes her lips as she eats the soggy sponge cake. One solitary drop of milk hits her chin and slides down her neck and in-between her breast's. She watches Xanderís eye's as they follow the slow decent of the milk trickle into her cleavage. "Do you to clean this up for me, Xander?"

Yes God, yes "Ah, no. The paper towels are over there," he announces, slightly breathless.

ring,ring,ring.

Thankful for the distraction from bra-less Faith, Xander makes his way back into the living room and grabs the cordless phone. Recognizing the number from his caller I.D. "Xanderís House of meat. You kill it, we grill it. Can I take your order?" The voice on the other end laughs.

"Well, well, Xander. You appear to be in a good mood. Whatís the occasion?" Buffy says cheerfully.

"Just hearing from you, oh Slayer of my life," Xander teases. "How went the demon killing last night?" Xander usually goes on patrol with her , but last night he wanted to get Faith settled in.

"I killed five vamps, but one ran and I twisted my ankle chasing it. Willow used an entrapment spell on the last one. I limped toward it, and he got the stake. No biggie," she replied.

"Oh, poor baby. Want your Xander shaped friend to come over there and kiss it all better?"

Buffy tries to imagine Xander down on his knee's kissing her feet and ankle. Don't go there she tells herself. "No, it's all right. Slayer healing did its job. I feel as good as new." Buffy pauses for a moment. "I missed you last night." she says in a low tone.

Once again, Xander reminds himself, she just needs a friend. College is a big deal for her, and the Slaying never stops. She needs your support......she's not looking for anything else. "I missed you, too. But hey, I'll be cemetery hoppin with you tonight."

Laying on her bed in the dorm room she shares with Willow, Buffy answers, "All right. Maybe afterward we can hit the Bronze. I'm in the mood."

Don't even torture yourself man. Let that one go. "You up for giving a demonstration of the B/X Express?"

A slight blush finds its way across her face. "I'll bring the thong."

"And I'll bring the wood." If only she would let me love her, he muses wistfully.

"So, I'll see you at 6:00. We'll meet at Giles house and go from there."

"Sounds like a plan, Buff."

"Oh, I forgot to ask about Faith. How's she doing? First night and all."

"Well I'm alive, so that should tell you something. I think she's doing OK. It's going to take some time. But I believe she can do it."

"With your help I know she can." She's lucky to have a friend like you Xander. Lord knows I am.

"Enough about Faith. Are you sure I don't need to remind you to wear the thong tonight?" he laughs into the phone.

"Maybe you should come over here to remind me." Buffy is not above some harmless flirting. I'm single, so what. It's not like me and Xander are gonna hook up.

"Buffy, don't tease me like that. If I come over to your place and saw you in a thong... Letís just say our friendship will go right out the window. You are hot enough without the thong. With thong..." He can't even finish the thought.

A woman loves to feel sexy, and Buffy has felt anything but that for a long time. Until now. Compliments, even of the Xander variety, can go along way to repairing a girls self image. Buffy's has suffered a lot since Angel's departure. "I'll see you later, Xander. Love ya, bye," she says quickly before hanging up.

That was purely platonic. Nothing more. Remember that. Platonic, Xander says to himself.

Faith has been silently eavesdropping on the whole conversation. She wonders if Xander and Buffy's relationship has changed since she went into hr coma. I'll have to ask B laterÖ Not that I'm interested or anything.

******

The Townhouse of Rupert Giles
Saturday, September 18, 1999 5:00 P.M.

"Here's what we have, Buffy. The vampires you killed last night were from a nest we believe is on the Eastside of town. Specifically, the old Sunnydale Horizon Theater that is due to be torn down in three weeks. That is where we will focus all of our efforts tonight," Giles explains while pulling a piece of lint off of his tweed sweater.

Willow walks over to the chair Buffy is sitting in and show her todayís newspaper. "There have seven people reported missing. The paper says that most of the disappearances have taken place in that area," Willow says.

"Major vampage on the Eastside, got it, " Buffy says matter-of-factly.

"Please take this seriously, Buffy. A small lapse in your concentration last night resulted in you ankle sprain. A Slayer must take every situation with care. No matter how successful you have been in the past," Giles comments from behind a stack of large books. "And I saw that," he says without looking at Buffy, knowing she was silently mocking the speech he has given her a thousand times.

"You saw nothing," Buffy jokes. She catches a small grin from her Watcher as he made his way up stairs. "So Willow, you up for the Bronze tonight?"

Buffy's redheaded witch best friend smiles her usual cheery 'the worlds OK ' look at her. "You bet. Tonight is Oz's bands last performance before they go on a two week mini tour," she says proudly. "My baby's going on the road."

"Wow, thatís great. Oz must be ecstatic."

"The whole band is. I have already packed his shackles and swallowable tranquilizers just in case of a full moon. S.W.O.P."

"What the hell is S.W.O.P.?"

"Oh come on, Buff. You know S.W.O.P. The Standard Werewolf Operating Procedure. If your boyfriend a werewolf, you have got to know your S.W.O.P." Both girls crack up with laughter and giggles after that.

"Wills , you seem very well versed in S.W.O.P."

Suddenly, Buffy looks away . Willow catches her faraway glance and instantly knows what, or more importantly who has caused this mood change.

"Ya know, Buffy, you could always go to LA and see him." Don't even try to play dumb about who I'm talking about.

"I know. But he's trying to start a new life. He left me. I didn't want him to go but he did. That was four whole months ago." Buffy stands to her feet and walks to the window, looking out at nothing in particular.

Willow moves behind her, placing a hand on her shoulder. "Buff, you know I'm your bestest girlfriend in the whole world, right?"

"Of course."

"Let Angel go. Like he has let you go."

One single tears falls from the Slayers eye's as Willow lays her head on Buffy's shoulder.

"I'm trying, Willow, believe me I am. But it's so hard sometimes."

"You deserve to be happy Slayer friend of mine. You deserve to be someoneís number 1."

"I know. But it's good to here it."

"Wanna go get drunk Buffy. It seems to help a lot of sad people." Willow said in her perky voice.

"The worlds not ready yet to see you drunk Wills. But thanks for the offer." hugging her best friend she says. "I think I'm ready to let go."

Willow knows how hard this is on Buffy. When she had to let Xander go, it was the hardest thing she ever did. Especially when she realized he really was in love with her and not the novelty of forbidden romances. I needed to find new love, and I did with Oz. It was unexpected, but welcome. Buffy needs to do the same. "Hey, Buffy. Have you noticed that James Bond looking guy in our psychology class? I think his name is Smiley or something."

"Riley..." she says while scrunching up her face in horror. "Riley Finn... Hell no! He's got as much personality as a chalkboard. I wouldn't date him for Angelís soul."

"If you can joke about Angel, I know youíre on the mend," Willow jokes with a smile. "Letís go in and raid Giles's ice cream stash. Nothing beats heartbreak like ice cream."

With a nod, both girls are on their way.

@~~`~~~

25 Minutes Later

As Xander approaches Giles front door, he notices that Faith is no longer at his side. Turning around he watches her as she leans on the stair railings. He knows what this is about. "You tried to kill all of us, Faith. It's going to take some time. Let today be your first step."

"Are you sure I tried to kill each and every one of you? There has got to be someone I didn't attempt to murder."

"Sorry to say, but you tried to kill all of us. In fact, you did it a few times." Xander watches Faith as she lowers her head in regret. He advances on her and takes her in his arms. "It's going to be all right. This will be your first night back on the job ,and you'll do fine. The urge to kill is still in you." He smiles down at her. "Just keep it aimed at demons, and everything will be OK."

She looks up at him. The one guy no one really respects. He risk's his life every night, with no powers, no magic, no destiny, or duty. Just his need to help his friends. Xander has such a good heart. I hope some of his qualities rub off on me Faith mutters to herself while resting her head on his shoulder for a brief moment.

Neither of them catch Buffy as she looks out of the window.

@~~`~~~

As Faith takes her seat in the living room, Giles goes over the eveningís events. "Everyone knows what to expect. Buffy and Faith will lead the attack. Willow will cast an entrapment spell so none of the vampires can escape. Xander and I will aim the crossbows at the door, taking out anyone who tries to make a run for it. Then as Buffy put it, when this is over you can all 'go get your shine on'." His British accent tingles over the American teenage slang.

"Well said, Watcher, friend of mine," Buffy complimented. She checks her duffel, making sure she has everything. Ten wooden stakes, a Snicker, holy water, knife, lipstick, flashlight, Midol. "Well, I'm all set guys."

Faith clears her throat to get everyone's attention. "Once again, I just want to thank all of you for giving me a second chance. This means everything to me." None of the people in this room have ever seen Faith unsure of herself, until now.

"Hey, it's almost the new millennium. Letís start new memories. and let bygones be bygones. Do you smell what the witch is cooking?" Willow, of all people, said.

"Willow, do you watch pro-wrestling?" Xander beamed back while tossing his bag over his shoulder.

"Pro-wrestling... Me? Xander, you know me better than that," she says with a curious grin as they all head out of the door.

@~~`~~~

The home of Rupert Giles
Tuesday September 18,1999 8:50

The Scooby gang returned from another battle with he undead. Having the additional firepower of another Slayer made this hunt particularly stress free.

Faith seemed back in rare form, staking vampires left and right, watching Buffy's back. Willow's spell kept all of their enemies trapped in the house.

The Slayers did the rest.

"Faith, I must say you performed very well tonight. We still need to get your reflexes back to normal, but that will come back to you in good time," Giles commented. He was pleased that Faithís first combat duty since coming out of her coma was a fairly simple. Giles knows there will be tough trials ahead. "As for the rest of you, I couldn't ask for a more consistent effort. You've earned some fun tonight." I've got to get them out of here. I'm supposed to be on stage in twenty minutes.

"As fun as it always is killing dead people for the second, and hopefully final time, I say we all go home, take a shower, and.." Buffy didn't finish before...

"Together." Xander commented.

"It ain't that kind of party," Buffy said with a smirk.

"Don't worry, Xander, if we're running low on hot water at the houseÖ well, we'll figure something out," Faith croons with her usual post Slayage velvety voice.

Buffy watches Xander and Faith out of the corner of her eye. They seem to have developed an easy repoir. Thatís good... Thatís very good... She needs a FRIEND.

It's only when Xander pushes a errant strand of Faiths hair off of her face that she feels something... different inside of her.

She's not sure what.

It's confusing.

"So Xander, I guess we'll meet you guys at the Bronze in about an hour?" Buffy says, giving him a wider than usual smile. They are left alone in the living room. Willow is showing Faith where everything is in Gilesí home.

Scooting a little closer to her on the sofa. "I don't know, Buff," he says while rubbing his chin. "Maybe I should go home with you, help you get changed."

"Or maybe I should go home with you," Buffy says in a seductive tone.

"Ms. Summers, are you flirting with me?"

"Mr. Harris, you have been flirting with me for years," she replies, gazing into his brown eye's.

"You've never flirted back."

"Things change."

I guess they do. Xander thinks to himself. "Buffy, you know I have been in love with you since the first time I saw you," he says out loud for the first time without shame or fear of rejection.

"You haven't exactly been hiding your feelings."

"Well, I moved on, you do know that."

Buffy is quiet for a few seconds. Of course she knew he couldn't just pine for her forever. "I do now."

"You don't understand, I still love you, but I can't wait for you forever."

"I'd like to spend more time with you. Not in a purely platonic way."

He has waited years to hear this. He thought he never would. "I'd like that to."

"Well, I'm going home. I'll see you tonight." She leans over and gives him a soft kiss, almost a whisper.

It was enough to make his whole body shiver.

It was also enough to make Faith, who had just made her way down the steps, stop dead in her tracks.