Faith read the big green sign silently. 75 miles. Maybe an hour freeway exit to freeway exit. Maybe less if Willow kept up the speed. She glanced sideways surreptitiously but Willow didn't seem to notice. All her attention seemed to be centered on the cars surrounding them. That and muttering something half under her breath. Just low enough to escape Faith's hearing but loud enough to be annoying.
"You're singing a different song than the radio," Faith said, snapping off the radio as a new song started. "You know, playing Here Comes the Sun was cute the first time but you'd think they'd be over it already."
Willow just nodded, lips still moving silently.
"You doing a spell?"
Willow grimaced and shook her head. "No, practicing."
"Well, I don't think the usual good news/bad news is going to cut it here."
"Meaning," Faith said, "there is no good news to counter the bad news that is Faith?"
Willow shrugged. "How about good news I have another Slayer. Bad news is its Faith?"
"How about bad new is you brought Faith. Good news is you didn't bring Angelus?"
"Or, bad news there's a new psycho killer in Sunnydale. Good news is that it's our psycho killer."
Faith hesitated uneasily. "About that psycho killer thing."
"Sorry. I shouldn't have said that."
"No, it's not that. I'm not like that now. I've changed."
"Oh. Good. No, bad. Maybe we should keep that between ourselves for now. Buffy is very gung-ho, no holds barred, using the telephone as a lethal weapon by ripping the wire from the wall to use as a garrote to the point where we're all on first name basis with the telephone repair guy, take it to the dark, gritty edge these days."
Faith laughed. "Like Wesley? We're all supposed to be dark and scruffy and angsty?"
"Oh, don't use Wesley as an example. He and I got into an I'm bad/I'm badder pissing contest. Just because he kept some woman locked in a closet over the summer he thinks he's walking the evil edge."
"Woman. In a closet. Wesley?"
"And I don't think it was for recreational purposes, if you know what I mean."
"Wesley Tightass Hyphen Watcher?" Faith said. "Actually, I find it much easier to believe after watching him search for Angelus. He's more ruthless. Less innocent."
"Things happen. People change. And you never know what someone is capable of."
"You talking from experience there, Red?"
Willow spared her a quick glance before accelerating to pass a transport. "You're not the only one that changed."
"Beyond your batting for the other team?"
"Oh, yeah. The gay thing."
"Don't get me wrong. I've nothing against gays. I have gay friends. Well, not friends. But people I knew in prison. And real ones, not just those looking to get a little and settling for a chick when there was no guy and oh shit."
Willow was grinning. "You managed to get a whole Doc Marten in your mouth?"
"Pretty much. You told Fred you were seeing someone. That blonde from the Bronze?"
The amusement on Willow's face evaporated. "No. Not Tara."
"Ooh, sounds like a bad break up story."
"Some guy came gunning for Buffy and Tara was killed. Just gone."
Faith paused, taking in both the white knuckles on the steering wheel and the sudden acceleration. "They get the guy?"
"No," Willow said, voice low and cold. "I did."
"Oh. Guess we know who won the 'I bad' pissing contest."
The mood broke, grip lessened and the tension dropped with the speedometer. "It was about a year ago," Willow said.
"10 months. 25 days. If I were counting."
"You did that before. Able to tell me how many minutes. When you came to tell me about Buffy. Oh, fuck, did I thank you for that?"
Willow shrugged. "No. But it was a shock. And no biggie. I was in the LA area telling Cordy and Angel. And you deserved to know in case the Council decided to activate a new Slayer by, umm, dealing with you."
"And I sat it out. You lost Joyce and Buffy and your girlfriend. I would have lost it, all that happening to me. Wait, I did."
"Yeah, so did I. But I'm getting on with life now. And I didn't lie. I am seeing someone."
"Anyone I know?"
"Her name's Kennedy. She's a Potential."
"Potential what? Roll in the sack?"
"Not that that's any of your business in any way but that's not what I meant. She's a Potential Slayer."
"Oh, you mean you're dating my replacement?"
"I never actually thought of it like that."
"Well, if you can't have me," Faith drawled, trailing off with a wink and a leer. Which didn't, to her amazement, cause Willow to squirm or blush. "I suspect I'll see her when we get there?"
"Yeah, she'll be the one grafted to my right shoulder. When she's not getting in Buffy's face."
"A feisty one. Way to go, Red. There many of these wannabe Slayers around?"
"Sixteen in the house last time I counted. And most of them don't actually want to be one. Buffy's pretty much pep talked them in to realizing what a limited time offer it is. No offense."
"Oh, no. None taken. Sixteen? Anything else I should know?"
"Probably lots. It's been three years. Not counting those little visits."
"Bad news, Faith is back," she said, tone mocking. "Good news, she's not after your body."
Willow grinned. "Don't get me wrong. I've nothing against gays. I have gay... "
"Oh shut up."
"We there yet?"
Willow looked up at the overhead sign.
SUNNYDALE 25 MILES
"We'll be home soon."