A week later Buffy had convinced Faith that the two of them needed to go out patrolling alone. She argued that maybe the potentials needed a break, they didn’t have superpowers, they needed to be trained for the battle ahead but that didn’t mean they needed to patrol every night. You didn’t have to convince Faith twice. She needed a break from the newbies every now and again.
They had only been out for a couple of hours and already passed through most of the cemeteries and it had been even more quiet than usual. They hadn’t come across a single vampire or demon all night. These no action nights were really starting to get to Faith. After being penned up for so long, it was hard not being able to stretch her abilities now that she could. “Think we should pack it in, B. It’s dead out here tonight.” The pun wasn’t lost on either of them.
Luck was not on her side tonight, Buffy decided when she looked at her watch and noticed they needed to stay out for at least a little bit longer. “Let’s go back and do another sweep of Restfield. Just to be on the safe side.”
“Alright, you’re the boss,” Faith agreed, following behind Buffy. Didn’t seem like they were going to find anything tonight, but the brunette was always up for a bit of action. If they didn’t kill anything tonight, she was going to have a date with the punching bag when they got home. Poor thing had already taken too many beatings from her.
Pushing that thought aside, Faith began to think about how weird Buffy seemed to be acting tonight. She was fidgety and kept checking the time, she observed, watching the blonde unconsciously. Maybe Buffy was still worried about what they talked about the week before. Faith had thought she did a good job of reassuring her, but maybe she hadn’t.
She meant every word she had told the older Slayer. There may have been a time when she wanted to hurt the other girl, but those days were long past. Just knowing how much Buffy did love her daughter was enough to set all that aside. So she meant it when she said she couldn’t take Nevaeh away from Buffy. She couldn’t do that to Nevaeh either, Buffy was her mother and she accepted that.
She’d toyed with the idea of turning herself back in when this was all over anyway. She just didn’t know if she had it in her to be separated from her daughter a second time. She never knew she could love somebody so much. Love just seemed like something she wasn’t capable of doing. Her daughter had changed all that and proven her wrong, and she could no longer imagine being away from her again.
So if she didn’t go back to prison, she had a lot of decisions to make. One thing seemed certain though. Because of their daughter, her and Buffy were pretty much stuck together for the indefinite future. Well, at least until Nevaeh went off to college. Maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing.
When another walk through Restfield turned up nothing, Buffy just had to admit defeat. “Guess we should head back. Don’t look like we’re going to find anything tonight.” She just hoped they’d been out long enough.
The walk back to the house was as uneventful as the rest of the evening had been. Faith headed straight for the front door as soon as they reached the house. It wasn’t until she was climbing the steps that she realized Buffy was still back by the driveway. “You comin’, B?”
“Yeah, I’m right behind you. I was just enjoying this peaceful night.” Lame, Buffy thought to herself. “You go ahead, don’t let me slow you down.”
“Alright,” Faith shrugged before turning and heading into the house.
Inside it seemed awfully quiet. Looking into the dining and living rooms, she realized they were both empty. That was unusual considering how many people currently occupied this house. “Wonder where everyone is,” she muttered to herself, thinking maybe Andrew was doing another one of his classes in the basement. Walking past the stairs she headed for the kitchen so she could check the basement.
“SURPRISE,” a chorus of voices screamed out as soon as she stepped through the doorway. Everyone was smashed like sardines between the island and the kitchen counters waiting for her. Everyone except Buffy who had just stepped in through the back door at the same time Faith had entered the room.
And of course Nevaeh was standing on the island, in a blue dress and a tiara on her head, looking every bit like the princess she was. “Mama, party,” the little girl squealed excitedly.
“We thought we’d have a double party, for you and Nevaeh,” Buffy explained, walking over to straighten Vaeh’s dress where it had bunched up in the back.
It took Faith a full minute to process what was going on. They were throwing her a birthday party. She hadn’t even remembered that today was her birthday. In the back of her mind, she had remembered Nevaeh’s was coming up and had already gotten her daughter a small gift that was wrapped and hiding upstairs.
“Wow. I don’t…,” Faith paused, unsure of what to say. They had done all this for her, and in the midst of an apocalypse. “Thanks,” was all she could get out.
“Cwown, Mama.” Nevaeh ordered, pointing at the matching tiara that was on the counter in front of her.
Faith gave them all an, “are you serious look?”
“You have to wear it. Nevaeh picked it out just for you so you could be twins,” Buffy said quietly from where she now stood beside Faith. The blonde picked up the tiara and placed it on the brunette’s head. She played with it for a minute, trying to get it on just right. Pulling her hands away slowly, the two stared at each other, unspoken words passing between them.
“Mama pitty,” Nevaeh complemented, unaware of what was going on between her mothers.
Faith snapped her head over to look at her daughter. Leaning over the counter, she placed a kiss on the tot’s cheek. “Thank you, princess. You are too.”
“Hey, I thought you called me princess?” Buffy huffed teasingly.
Faith picked Nevaeh up and held her to her side. “Not anymore, there’s a new princess in town. Guess that would make you the…” Buffy gave her a stern face, telling her with looks she better be nice. “…the Queen,” Faith finished.
“The Queen. Guess I can live with that,” Buffy responded as if it was such a terrible thing. “Now that the surprise is over with, maybe we ought to move everyone into the living room where it’s more comfortable,” Buffy suggested, but didn’t let anyone respond as she lead the way. From behind the sofa, she grabbed all the presents that were hidden there and placed them on the coffee table in two piles.
“Um hold on a sec,” Faith quickly said as she headed for the stairs. She took them two at a time and headed for their bedroom, looking through the closet, finding the present she had stashed there. Smiling she ran back down the stairs, adding the present to one of the piles.
As soon as Nevaeh and Faith were seated in the guest of honor seats, a round of “happy birthday was sung as two cakes were rolled out, complete with lighted candles. Vaeh and Faith worked together to blow them all out. Buffy stood a distance away, snapping pictures at the cuteness that was mother and daughter. She couldn’t seem to get over how much alike they were. A smile filled her whole face as she thought about how amazing they both were.
She just thought of Faith as amazing? Well she couldn’t deny that was true. She couldn’t even remember the scared little girl Faith had once been, the one with the tough exterior. All she saw now was the Faith trying to do what’s right, and loving her daughter with her whole heart. Nevaeh was special for so very many reasons. She saved Faith just by existing.
Buffy knew then, that the choice she had made a week ago was the right one. Faith deserved what was coming to her.
After everyone finished their cake and ice cream, they started handing Nevaeh her presents one by one. The little girl tore through them, now old enough to realize the treasure underneath the paper. She got more toys and clothes than a toddler should be allowed to have.
They saved Faith’s present for last. Nevaeh tore off the paper, only to give her Mama a confused look at the plain white box underneath. This wasn’t a toy, or pretty clothes. Her Mama lifted the lid off the box to reveal a small silver necklace with a small heart-shaped medallion. On the front it said, “Nevaeh,” and on the back she had engraved it to say, “Love, Mama.”
“I know you’re too little to appreciate this,” Faith started to explain, as she took the necklace out of the box and started putting it on the little girl. “But I wanted you to have something, so that no matter what happens to me, you’ll have me close to your heart, and always know how much I love you.” Faith held back the tears she wanted to let loose, knowing she was already exposing far too much of herself to this group.
After the clasp was closed around Nevaeh’s neck she reached under her own shirt to pull out the necklace she had kept hidden there every since she purchased the set weeks ago. “See Mama has one too.”
“We pitty,” Nevaeh stated.
Faith smiled, kissing Nevaeh softly on the forehead. “Yes we are baby.”
She knew her daughter was spoiled rotten by just about everyone in this room, but when they started to hand her, her presents, she was absolutely floored. She expected a lot of things for Nevaeh, who didn’t love shopping for kids. She wasn’t expecting all as much for herself. Each of the original scoobies had given her something, usually a weapon, or some article of clothing she was sure to wear.
Giles and Willow had a little surprise on their hands though, not just for Faith but for Buffy too. When the Watcher’s Council had been blown up and most of its members dead, the two had started doing some digging to see who was left, and what else they might have left behind. They had found a few other Watchers and a few more Potentials, who were now making their way here.
That however was not the present. They had discovered records and journals from present back through several generations. The interesting thing about the record it seemed though, was that it showed that each of the Slayers before Buffy had, had a type of allowance to pay some of their expenses. When Buffy had been called, they had looked at her home life and decided she wasn’t in need of such a thing and didn’t offer it to her. Then when Faith was called, they had decided she made good on her own, and once again didn’t offer it to her.
After that they had done a little bit more of an intense search and managed to find two small bank accounts, each opened around the time the Chosen Two had been called. With a little work, Willow had been able to gain access. What was in them wasn’t much, but it was enough to help get them by for a little while.
“The money rightfully belongs to you guys. There isn’t much in either of them, but it’ll help you get by for awhile, especially with all these extra mouths you’ve acquired,” Willow told them each when they looked as if they wanted to refuse anything from the Council. “I’m still digging around, but I’m sure with time, I will find similar, as well as larger accounts in the Council’s possession.”
“Thanks, guys,” Faith said gratefully, looking at the information packet Giles handed her. They were right, what was in there probably didn’t even make a dent in the Council’s fund, but it was still more money than Faith had ever had. Now she could help take care of her daughter more fully.
When the conversation of banks and money ended, Buffy reached for the present still on the coffee table, handing it to Faith. “This one is from Nevaeh and me.”
Faith carefully peeled back the paper to see a framed photograph inside. It was of Faith and Nevaeh at the playgroup. Faith was at the bottom of the slide with her arms out waiting to catch Nevaeh, who sat at the top with a huge smile on her face. Under the photo was a text that simply said, “Mommy and Daughter.”
“You guys just want to see me cry today don’t you?” Faith asked jokingly.
“You’re the one that got all teary-eyed when you gave Nevaeh her gift. Nobody did that but you.” Buffy fired back, placing a hand softly on Faith’s leg to let her know she was just teasing as well.
“Touché.” Faith went back to studying the photo. She didn’t even know Buffy had taken this picture. She knew the blonde pretty much took her camera anywhere she went with Nevaeh. If watching her do it wasn’t enough, the boxes and computer files full of pictures of the kids sure were. There was no doubt in Faith’s mind that Buffy was trying to capture every moment she could of Nevaeh’s life on film.
What would it have been like to have a mother like that, she wondered.
“It’s not over yet. You still might cry,” Buffy warned, but there was a smile in her eyes. “I have one more present for you.”
“Awe, B, you don’t have to get me anything.” They had already given her far too much. She didn’t feel worth all the attention she had received today.
“Ok I didn’t,” Buffy answered honestly.
Faith looked at her confused, and moved closer to Buffy as if the simple action would clear up the questions in her mind. “You didn’t?”
“Nope, I didn’t,” the blonde confirmed. “What I have for you can’t be bought, or sold, or held in your hand.”
Faith’s brain began to work overtime just trying to figure out what Buffy was talking about. “I give up, what is it?”
“My what?” Faith asked, unsure of just what she was hearing.
“You’re free, Faith. I had Willow do some hacking, and I believe a bit of magic. You’re record is now clean. You’re not a fugitive anymore.”
That was too much for Faith to process. Standing up, she walked out, trying to clear her mind of all its thoughts. Finding herself in the backyard, she slumped down to the top step and took a deep breath. She was free, she didn’t have to make the choice to go back to prison or not. It was decided for her.
It was more than fifteen minutes later before she heard the back door open and small feet behind her. She knew who it was just by the tingles that went down her spine. “I’m sorry if I upset you,” Buffy apologized. “I probably should have asked you first. But when you said what you did about you not being about to even fight for Nevaeh because you were a fugitive. Well I just couldn’t get that out of my mind. I’ve seen the way you’ve changed, and you don’t belong in there anymore. You can do more good out here.”
“It’s ok, really. It just shocked me is all. It’s one thing to be out here because I’m helping you fight the good fight and all that. It’s a different matter to really be free.” Then in a surprising move by Faith, she turned and gave the blonde Slayer a hug. “Thank you, Buffy, I really mean it.” And they both knew she did, for the simple reason she used Buffy’s full name.
Each day they grew closer together, and neither girl was sure where it was headed, but they were enjoying the ride.