Faith grinned and shook her head as she pocketed a room key, and left Giles and Willow to sort out rooms for the Junior Slayers. The clerk had handed out two keys per room, so Faith figured she would be joined some of the freshly called Slayers later. Might as well enjoy a few minutes alone while she still could.
As fond as she was of the girls, she had been completely surrounded by them from the minute she had stepped foot into Buffy's place. Which made being there for the first time in years both harder and easier. Harder because it was all kind of overwhelming, and easier because there was always something going on to keep at least some of her thoughts about the past at bay.
At the moment the girls were being especially spastic, though she couldn't really blame 'em for it. Their day had consisted of a mad fight (their first) with some of the worst vampires known to Slayer, crashing out on a bus, dropping some of the girls and Robin off at a hospital, and then looking for a place nearby to rest. Now, getting to stretch their legs, really feel the changes that had been made to them, well, they were bouncing off the walls more than they had the entire time that Faith had known them. She figured that she could afford to bang out for a few after everything that had happened before going back to pretending to be a grownup with any idea what she was actually doing. They would need that.
Faith turned a corner, and walked down a carpeted hallway that smelled like stale coffee leading to the elevators. She was amused to see that Buffy of all people had had the idea to skip out too, and was just entering the elevator. Great minds think alike. She could see Buffy turn around and catch sight of her, pause, and then casually reach for the 'door close' button. Faith didn't know whether she found this more funny or offensive. They were now taking shutting each other out to a whole new and very literal level.
Admittedly she wasn't too sure about sharing a small space with Buffy either, and almost considered just letting Buffy do what she wanted. But then that contrary part of her that didn't really just want to give in and do what Buffy wanted all of the time, plus the realization that if she did that would mean waiting forever for the next one occurred. Her impulsive tendencies mixed with annoyance at the way that Buffy was treating her kicked in, and she sped up without really thinking about it. She managed to slide in just as the doors with a metallic click.
Buffy cleared her throat, and crossed her arms with narrowed eyes.
"Faith." Buffy nodded to her with slightly pursed lips.
Something about Buffy's tone, that superior, holier than thou tone, plus that whole elevator hijacking attempt, grated on her. She figured that if there was ever a time where revenge was not only understandable, but really the only course of action, it would be now.
She nodded back to Buffy coolly, turned to face the panel of buttons that corresponded with each floor, and ran both hands up and down the panel multiple times, ensuring that every button glowed. She was feeling pretty pleased with herself, and reached up with both hands to clasp them behind her head, and smirked. Buffy was gaping at her with eyes wide, and her lips slightly parted. Faith grinned broader.
"Why would you do that?" Buffy asked after blinking a few times and shaking her head, sounding stunned. Really, she would probably react a lot more quickly and easily if this was something more familiar like a demon attacking, or someone getting hexed. It was Faith pressing buttons that was apparently too much for her. Faith shrugged.
"That's not an answer. Even you wouldn't do something this screwed up without a good reason, F. Well, one that made sense to you anyway." Buffy said with a dangerous edge to her voice.
"Felt like it." Faith answered easily, moving her hands from her head to the metal railing behind her.
"You...Why? I just don't." Buffy exhaled suddenly, and ran a hand through her hair.
Faith cocked her head to the side, and waited patiently for Buffy to continue her train of thought. Buffy pulled herself together quickly, and tilted her head back with her eyes closed as though asking for divine intervention.
"You realize that now we have to stop at every single floor, right? Emphasis being on 'we,' meaning not just me but also you, Smartguy."
Faith faltered a bit at that. Alright, she was big enough to admit to herself, and only herself, that maybe she hadn't entirely thought this through. Faith crossed her arms over her chest defensively, and for once in her life, said nothing.
"What? No sarcastic yet totally serious justifications?" Buffy asked, looking pleased that she was winning their standoff so far, even though she was still stuck in an elevator with her former enemy.
Faith shrugged, and rubbed her shoe along the carpet, making little zigzagged patterns in it.
"You ever hear that saying, 'don't cut off your nose to spite your face?' Well I never really got that whole 'don't' part of it. "
Buffy just looked confused, and mumbled the words under her breath, absentmindedly studying her nose in metal wall.
"Basically, what I'm saying is, you started it, and I'm self-destructive." Faith explained, managing to sound sullen, accusing, and embarrassed all at once.
"Me? What did I do?" Buffy asked, her voice pulling off an A plus impersonation of her special self-righteous tone, but blew it with her nervous expression, and inability to look Faith in the eye. Faith raised an eyebrow.
"Fine. I know. But your reaction wasn't any better."
Buffy nodded, accepting Faith's answer without responding. The only sounds in the small space were the low hum of the elevator, and some cheerful song from the eighties drifting quietly from the speakers. Faith couldn't stop fidgeting, shaking her legs, toying with her belt, and finally, glancing around. She caught Buffy staring at her, not looking too impressed, and even a little entertained. Neither of them made any attempt to look away. For some reason Buffy's lips were starting to twitch upwards, not quite a smile, but almost. And here she had thought that Buffy was all mad at her.
Faith couldn't help smiling back at her, and realized that without noticing it she had finally stopped her twitching. Buffy raised an eyebrow and opened her mouth before immediately closing it as the elevator lurched slightly, stopped, and the doors slid open to the second floor. And Buffy was back to looking annoyed. Well, the kinship was fun while it lasted.
"You know, you could probably get to your floor faster if you just took the stairs or waited for the next elevator." Buffy said with feigned disinterest and innocence.
Faith rolled her shoulder, and tilted her head back.
"So could you." Faith pointed out helpfully.
"It's gonna be a second before we get where we're going."
"Only five floors B, I'm sure I can wait."
"Oh yeah, I totally forgot that it was your incredible patience that got us here."
"S'alright, we all make mistakes sometimes, don't beat yourself up over it."
Buffy muttered under her breath something about it not being herself that was in any danger.
The doors slid closed, and the elevator started back up on it's way. Buffy didn't say anything, but her stare was accusing enough for Faith to get the gist of what she was thinking. Normally Faith could handle silences fine, better than fine, but there was always something about Buffy's silences that she couldn't stand.
"You got kabobbed, right? Sure you don't wanna hit the hospital?"
"You're so articulate Faith. And I'm fine, it's already healing up. It was just a flesh wound."
Faith chuckled, as she remembered the horror she felt when she watched that blade go right through Buffy, when she saw her go down. It was easily one of the scariest moments of her life, and here Buffy was waving it off like it was nothing. What a champ.
"You've been doing this way too long."
"Not by choice."
Buffy was looking at her dead-on, and Faith could imagine what she was thinking. That it was Faith's fault that she didn't get a chance at a normal life. That if Faith had been strong enough to bear the burden of being a Slayer, The Slayer, Buffy would have been able to leave Sunnydale years ago, to start a new life. A good life. Faith flinched, she didn't know what to say, nothing seemed strong enough to make up for it. Buffy had served her time and then some. A lot of some. While Faith was just loafing around prison, and finding her 'inner peace.' Faith clenched her jaw, she had thought that she had gotten used enough to this whole incredible amount of guilt thing over the years, but apparently she could still surprise herself. Hanging with Buffy always was a laugh and a half.
"Well, now you have that choice. You've made that choice possible. Any ideas about what you're gonna do with that new-found freedom?"
"I hear Rome's nice."
Buffy rolled her eyes and smiled.
"What about you? Any plans?" Buffy inquired, studying her easily.
"Nope. Well, sort of. Nothing specific, just a general help people thing. You've been on the whole Slaying job for years. Me, I've got about a couple of months under my belt, of being something close to the regular Slayer ideal. So responsibility, plus that whole redemption thing that I've gotta take care of for, say, the rest of my life, kind of means I'm gonna be on the clock from here on out, I guess."
Buffy looked conflicted for a moment before turning determined, and speaking.
"You don't sound like you want to do it."
Faith hesitated before responding, wanting to get her meaning clear.
"No, I do. It's just not going to be easy. But I do want to make an effort to make things, well if not right, better. I want to be a different person than I was before. I just have no clue on how to go about that."
Buffy's gaze softened.
"If it means anything, I think you're off to a pretty good start."
The words came out slowly, reluctantly, but were genuine.
"That means more than I think you could ever really know, B."
The elevator stopped again, and Faith and Buffy exchanged a look.
"What floor are you even on?" Buffy asked after a moment of waiting for the doors to close, most likely only talking to fill the silence.
"Huh? Oh, I dunno. Lemme check."
Faith dug around in her jeans pocket for the room key.
"You were seriously going to what, just stay in here to annoy me, and hope that we were on the same floor? Or were you going to stay in here to annoy me even if it meant that you missed your floor, and then go back down?" Buffy questioned incredulously.
"The second one." Faith answered distractedly, as she checked her key over.
"I kinda want to hit you again."
"Go for it girlfriend. Hey, what room do you have?" Faith flippantly replied, before her attention shifted.
Buffy sighed dramatically.
"Room 102, fourth floor."
"What? We already went over this, I'm not leaving, I was here first."
"No, I mean, that's so weird, that's what my key says too."
"Oh. That actually makes sense, we were the first two to grab the keys, they were probably right by each other."
Buffy said, nodding awkwardly, then turned around and rested her forehead against the wall with a groan.
While Buffy was doing that, Faith was getting an idea. Buffy's head snapped up suddenly as though she could sense what Faith was thinking.
"Don't do it."
Faith did it.
She turned and sprinted out of the elevator, and up a stairwell at the end of the hall in seconds. Buffy was right behind her. They jostled each other going through the doorway, and stayed neck and neck while going up the slightly wider stairs. They tumbled out of the stairwell once they reached the fourth floor, and skidded to a stop outside their door, grabbing onto the handle at the same time.
Buffy was grinning and panting as she looked over her shoulder at Faith, brushing their noses together slightly as she did so.
"I'm pretty sure that I won." She said smugly.
"Whatever, it was a tie and you know it." Faith grunted, and bit her lip to keep from smiling. It was a doomed endeavor.
"Yeah, maybe in your dreams."
"Oh, B. How'd ya know that I saw you every night?"
"Just a hunch." Buffy said casually, going along with the banter.
Faith narrowed her eyes sarcastically, reached into Buffy's pocket, and pulled out her key. Buffy rolled her eyes.
"Was that really necessary?"
"Hey, who knows when an opportunity like this will come up again?"
Buffy smirked, and moved slightly out of the way for Faith to unlock the door.
"So, if you want to find a new roomie, B, you should probably know that I'm not leaving. You'll have to move out. I'm keeping the house, the children, and the dog. I'll make a box of your stuff that you can take with you. Along with the remnants of my shattered heart."
"I think we'll be just fine for now, Faith." Buffy said as she pushed the door open, and pulled Faith in.