‘Walk with me the diamond road
Tell me every story told
Give me something of your soul
That I can hold onto’ Diamond Road, Sheryl Crow
It was going to take them hours to get home at this rate. Actually hours was being too optimistic the redhead reflected, make that days to get back home. Her thoughts were verging on the irrational, gazing at the figure outside her windshield lighting yet another cigarette, summoning up her stern annoyed face, just in case the brunette looked her way. She didn’t. In fact, now Willow thought about it, there had been a definite lack of eye contact coming from the once rogue, but now reformed slayer since the two women left LA. And that only added to Willow’s impatience to be getting home. A few more hours of one-sided conversation and monosyllabic grunts for another cigarette break just might bring out Evil Willow again, the wicca thought, smirking to herself despite the bad taste Evil Willow thoughts left her with. Not that she wanted to become Faith’s best friend or anything. She had a strict rule about people who tried to kill her not being extended the hand of friendship. And more often than not, it was a rule she never broke. But faced with the long drive home ahead of her, not knowing exactly what they were going to face when they got there – what with the First being all bad and evil, and Spike pretty much insane now, and Buffy acting all Commander-in-Chief, and things hotting up with the potential Kennedy (who had succeeded in doing what none of the Scoobies had been able to do, make Willow smile again) and to top it all she was bringing the rogue slayer back into town, which Willow couldn’t imagine bringing the fun in much when they arrived – just added to the wicca’s frustration. A little banter might alleviate some of the wiggins she had started feeling ever since leaving behind the relative safety of LA.
But how to start such a conversation? ‘Say Faith, didya kill anyone lately?’ Wasn’t exactly the way to strike up a light and breezy conversation to pass the time, but Willow wasn’t sure asking the slayer what she had been doing lately, i.e. being locked up in prison, was the way to go either.
“I never could talk to you.”
“Talk to me about what?” Faith raised an accusatory eyebrow, leaning on the open passenger side window, smirking when the redhead turned a bright shade of pink.
Willow repositioned her frowny face, not liking Faith’s smirk. Reminding her too much of the Faith she knew in high school, the one she was trying not to compare to the Faith she’d met a few days ago in LA.
“How long have you been standing there?” The wicca enquired, hoping she’d not spoken any of her other thoughts aloud.
“Long enough to start getting bored. And you didn’t answer my question,” Faith opened the door and slipped in next to Willow. The fairer woman still felt uncomfortable in the slayer’s presence, making Faith feel more her old self again. Whether that was a good or bad thing, she decided not to debate right now.
“Come on Red, what couldn’t you ever talk to me about?”
Willow’s reply sounded sad. Like perhaps she regretted that she couldn’t talk to Faith back in the day, and perhaps she regretted she was finding it so difficult to talk to the woman now. It made the dark haired woman uncomfortable, flipped the tables on her so it was Red who suddenly held the edge. All because she heard a hint of regret in the Wicca’s voice, which sparked a seed in the slayer’s mind that reminded her how it had felt to be around all of the Scoobies back then. How for a time, things were really solid for her in Sunnydale. Things felt like she belonged.
She looked at Red next to her behind the wheel, looking so grown up. Looking very much the smart sexy woman Angel had said she’d turned into, and not the naïve virgin the slayer had taken such pleasure in goading when one of them was in high school, and the other just hung around it a lot. It gave her another one of those pangs she’s been having a lot lately. She didn’t want to call it guilt. Didn’t want to acknowledge that there was more guilt left in her after she’d turned herself in, reformed and started paying her debt to society. But there was something tugging at her mind, had been ever since she and Red had left for Sunnydale, and was only being made worse by the tone of the Wicca’s voice just then. Something that resembled the guilt she’d been feeling the past few years. Only this time it wasn’t exactly guilt over the killing, it was all tied up to how she’d left things with the other slayer.
Fuck, was this going to be a long drive, Faith thought as Willow put the car in gear again and drove off. Wonder if she’ll let me out for another cigarette.
“No more!” Willow turned the dial on the radio to the off position, without using her hands, leaving Faith amused by the outburst as well as the mojo.
“I can’t listen to another soft rock anthem. I just can’t. Too much guitar. Too much amp. Too much testosterone.” She continued.
The slayer smirked. “Hey it’s okay Red, chill a little.”
She threw the brunette a more sanitised version of her stern stare, not appreciating the patronising tone from the slayer, but realising she may have overreacted a little.
“I seem to recall you being very much into guitars back in the day.” Faith couldn’t believe her own ears when she spoke. She was trying to have a conversation with Red. Had the world suddenly started spinning the wrong way? “You were pretty heavily into testosterone too.”
Faith didn’t notice Willow’s grip on the steering wheel tighten, the knuckles going white as some unpleasant memories came to the surface.
“Well, things change Faith.” There was a hint of venom in the wicca’s voice, which Willow remembered from the days when both she and the slayer loathed to be in each other’s presence, vying for Buffy’s time. She purposefully softened her voice with the next line.
“Yeah? How’s that then?” There was still a slight teasing tone to Faith’s voice. “Oh wait, hang on. There was a girl…blonde, pretty.” The slayer sounded like the penny had finally dropped. She remembered the last time she was in Sunnydale and had taken a little stroll in the blonde slayer’s shoes. There’d been Red and some girl at the Bronze, who kept looking at her funny. Man, what was that girl’s name? Faith tried to remember.
“Tara.” It was as if the wicca had read her thoughts.
Willow’s voice was flat when she whispered the name. Faith knew that behind that name, there was a world of suffering. She knew that because Red had sounded like the way she sounds when she utters Buffy’s name sometimes.
“Her name was Tara. She died.”
Willow didn’t notice as the car began slowing down, her grip lessening on the wheel.
“Oh.” Was Faith’s lame response at first. To be followed hastily by “shit, I’m sorry.”
The witch had heard it so many times, it never sounded sincere. But coming from Faith, a girl acquainted intimately with death, Willow felt oddly comforted for once by the words ‘I’m sorry’.
“Yeh so am I.”
There was silence between them again. A different kind to the tension filled silence of before, a more intimate kind.
A silence Faith couldn’t stand to be in.
“Willow?” It was the first time either woman could remember the slayer using her real name. And it didn’t sound as odd as either of them imagined it would. “Willow we’ve stopped moving.”
The redhead glanced at her driving companion, a puzzled expression to her face. Then she swept her eyes over the speedometer, out her windshield and finally to her foot resting by the gas pedal, not on it.
“Yep, that’ll happen when you take your foot off the accelerator.”
She tried to sound like funny-bouncy Willow, but her smile was taking a while to join the act. Thinking of Tara still did that to her, and part of her knew it always would.
“Wanna coffee?” Faith asked. She could sure use a cigarette, she guessed the Wicca must have addictions of her own she craved.
“Coffee would be good.” Willow replied, not quite believing herself as she did it. Coffee with Faith, was the Earth spinning backwards or something?
“Cool. I saw a place back there.” Faith pointed behind them, and Willow got the car moving again. Pulling into the car park a few minutes later of a roadside diner that had definitely seen better days.
Taking the time for a much needed stretch of tired muscles as she got out of the car, Willow looked over the dilapidated diner and back to the brunette lighting a cigarette.
"I'm not likely to get a low fat extra foamy mocha in there, am I?" The Wicca even pouted a little.
"Red I doubt they can even spell mocha let alone make one. Come on." Faith led the way, glancing back smiling at the reluctant redhead, who had lost some of the darkness that had invaded her eyes the slayer was happy to note.
Willow rolled her eyes at herself when she realised she was willingly following behind the dark haired woman, giving far more credence than she knew she should to the notion she'd slipped into an alternate universe again. One where Faith and herself did things like go for coffee together.
Not for the first time in her life Willow had the thought that she had no idea what was going to happen next and as she passed through the glass door Faith was gallantly holding open for her, that sexy eyebrow smirk she wished didn't look so good on the dark woman in full force, Willow realised that for once she didn't totally mind the unknown.