Actions

Work Header

City Girls

Work Text:

Faith had been working in the L. A. diner for a few days-- ever since she had woken up with super-strength and hit her mom harder than she’d meant to but not as hard as she’d’ve liked to.

She still couldn’t figure out where the strength came from, but she liked it. It felt like a big old buzz that hadn’t gone away and hadn’t hurt her (yet), even when she had pummeled that weird guy in the alley on her way out of foston, or when a random girl from a Topeka nightclub had misled her into a makeout and then tried to bite her. So all Faith knew was that she was pretty sure it didn’t involve humans. Which was fine by her, but it was still nice to be able to beat up on the ones who hurt her.

And she had gotten all the way to L. A., and she had gotten the diner job, and now she was living her own life without anyone else to get in her way, and overall she was freer and happier than she’d ever been.

So when she saw the blonde girl wrapped in a stained blue coat slink into the diner  and sit at one of Faith’s tables, Faith immediately felt some sort of emotion that she had never felt before. Usually, she didn’t spend much time dissecting her emotions-- they didn’t matter, not when there was other stuff to deal with-- but this time, she took a moment to work it out.

It was pity. For the first time in her life, Faith Lehane felt sorry for somebody.

Putting on her best waitress smile, she walked to the girl’s table. “Hey, I’m Faith, and I’ll be taking care of you tonight. What do you need?”

“Lots of stuff,” the girl mumbled.

“Running from something?” Faith asked.

The girl didn’t answer.

“Well, I can’t give you a home, but I can give you some eggs.”

“Eggs are good.”

“Cool.” Faith pulled the pen from behind her ear and marked the eggs on her order pad. “How do you like them cooked? We can do anything from scrambled to raw, but I don’t recommend the raw.”

The girl actually cracked a smile, and Faith counted that as a victory for her. “As great as raw sounds,” she said, “I’ll go with sunny-side up. Like home.”

“You got a home?” Faith asked. She didn’t mean to sound surprised, but this really didn’t look like the kind of girl with a home with anything as comforting as sunny-side up eggs.

The girl’s face fell. “I did.”

“Sorry.” Faith shrugged. “Wish I could help. I’ll get those eggs, though.”

When the eggs came out of the kitchen, Faith wasted no time in taking them to the table. The blue-jacketed girl was slumped over now, her face propped up on a fist.

“Here’s your food. Hope you feel better.” Faith paused. “Hey, here’s a thought. You looking for a job?”

The girl looked up. “What?”

“You should apply here. Easy application, decent money, hot coworkers.” She winked. “Not a bad place, as places go.”

The girl shrugged. “Might as well.”

Faith grinned. “That’s the spirit. I’ll put in a good word for you if you tell me your name.”

The girl looked up at Faith. “Um, Anne. Your name’s Faith, right? Do you have any?”

“Huh?”

“Any faith.”

“Sure I do. Faith in my ability to get laid, for one.”

Anne looked torn between laughing and blushing and somehow still too sad for both.

Someone called Faith’s name from the kitchen, and she rolled her eyes. “Sorry, A. Duty calls. I’ll be back.”

“‘Cause it’s your job.”

“Wow. You already know me so well.” Faith sauntered away to the kitchen, throwing a single glance back at the sad girl. Anne.

When Faith brought Anne her check, she brought a job application with it. Anne looked at it blankly.

“You got a place to stay?” Faith asked.

Anne blinked. “What?”

“Tonight. Where are you sleeping?”

“I-- I don’t know.”

“Come to my place,” Faith said. “It’s small, but it’s a roof.”

Anne looked up at Faith. “Why are you being nice to me?”

“Come on,” Faith said. “You’re not going to survive two minutes out there if someone doesn’t show you the ropes. Where you from?”

“Sunnydale.”

“Huh. Must be around here, then, ‘cause I’ve never heard of it.” Faith shrugged. “Look, A, you obviously need help, and I’ve got some extra cash this month. You’ll be up on your own two feet in no time.”

“Okay,” Anne said. She pulled a few crumpled dollar bills out of her pocket and put them on the table.

“You pay at the counter,” Faith said. “And then stick around, okay? I get off work in half an hour.”

Anne nodded and stood, and Faith moved on to her next table.

Half an hour later, she clocked out and let her hair down from her management-mandated ponytail. She glanced around the restaurant, but Anne wasn’t there; the minute she stepped outside, she found Anne sitting on the steps, clutching a pointy stick as if it was the only thing between her and death.

“Hey, A,” she said.

Anne jammed the stick into her bag. “Hey.”

“Let’s head out.”

Anne stood and followed Faith through the streets. Faith was lucky enough to have a cheap apartment not too far away, and she led Anne there without a problem.

The apartment was small-- only a bedroom and a bathroom, and the only furniture was a queen-size mattress with Superman bedsheets Faith had found at a thrift store for six bucks and some cardboard boxes that Faith was using for storage.

“Welcome,” she said, a note of irony in her voice. “Home, sweet, home.”

“Is it really?” Anne asked.

“Is anywhere?” Faith fired back. “Really, I’m from Boston, but it’s not like those streets were kind to me. And then I hurt my mom pretty bad a week or so ago, so I had to get out of town. What about you? Why are you here?”

Anne shrugged. “I had a really bad day,” she said, “and it turned into a really bad week.”

“Ran away?” Faith asked.

“Yeah.”

“Hey, join the club.” Faith paused. “Actually, no. This is a pretty good week, by my standards.”

“God. What are your standards like?”

“Well, I have my own place, no one’s drunk and bossing me around, and, hey, I punched my asshole mom.”

“When you put it like that,” Anne said, “it sounds pretty nice.” Faith could almost detect a smile.

“See, A? It ain’t all bad.”

Anne offered to sleep on the floor, but Faith looked her up and down and said, “The bed’s big enough.”

She expected an argument, some straight-girl pushback, but she didn’t get one: Anne just shrugged and said, “Okay,” and practically collapsed onto the mattress. She was asleep in moments.

Faith sat on the floor, looking at the Anne-shaped lump in her bed. What was she thinking, taking in a stray? Faith was barely capable of taking care of herself, much less some coddled valley girl.

And yet, every time Faith looked at Anne, she saw just a little bit of herself, sad and lonely and lost, and Faith had always had a soft spot for the princess in distress.

Too bad she didn’t have any shining armor.

It took her a while to fall asleep that night, unaccustomed to the weight of someone else in her bed.

When her alarm went off for her early morning shift, she was alone in the bed. Raising her head to look around, she saw Anne leaning against the wall, writing.

“Morning,” Faith said.

Anne jumped. “Good morning.”

“Working on your application?”

“Yeah,” Anne said. “Think I can give them my address in Sunnydale?”

Faith sat up and stretched. “Just tell them you live here,” she said. “They’re not so much with the fact-checking.”

“Okay.” Anne scribbled something on her form.

Something registered with Faith. “Your town is called Sunnydale ?” she asked.

Anne looked up. “Yeah. So?”

“So that’s the most cliche California thing I’ve heard. Is everyone there, like, blonde and chipper?”

“No,” Anne said. “Mostly brunette, actually.”

“So you, Anne, are a blonde girl from a town called Sunnydale, living the perfect California life, and now you’re hiding in L. A.?” Faith asked.

“Pretty much.”

“Must have been a hell of a day,” Faith said.

“It was,” Anne said. “My friend died, I was framed for the murder, and then my mom kicked me out because she found out my biggest secret.”

“What, like, you’re gay?”

“No,” Anne said. “I have-- had -- a boyfriend.”

“So, is the bad breakup part of this story?”

“Yeah.”

“But what’s the secret, then?”

“Still secret,” Anne said. “You wouldn’t believe me, anyway.”

“Bet I would,” Faith said, absentmindedly prodding a bruise.

Anne didn’t answer. She was still filling out the application form.

“I’m going to go get some food,” Faith said. “You want anything?”

Anne looked up. “Um, sure.” She put her hand in her pocket and felt around. A moment later, she handed Faith a dollar bill and a few quarters. “Whatever this buys, I guess.”

“Cool.” Faith took the cash. “We can go when I get back, right? Get you a job?”

“Yeah,” Anne said.

“Five by five.” Faith pulled the door open and flew down the stairs, running more because she could than because she was in any particular hurry. It was still relatively dark out-- Faith had an early shift, and she couldn’t sleep most of the time anyway. There was a 24-hour convenience store a block away from her apartment, so that was where she headed. She went, picked up a box of donuts, and walked back.

She was just outside the door to her building when she was attacked.

Someone grabbed her from behind, and, without thinking, she turned, kneed them in the groin, and threw a couple of punches. Damn, she loved this whole being strong thing. She could get anyone.

A moment later, she had the other guy-- or whatever he was-- against the wall, pinning him with one hand and hitting him with the other. He had the same weird forehead thing as the girl in Kansas, so Faith figured he probably would turn to dust if she stabbed him right, but she didn’t have anything to stab him with.

From behind, her, she heard a cry.

“Faith!”

It was Anne. She pushed Faith aside and jammed something-- was that a stick?-- into the guy’s chest. He exploded into dust, and then Anne turned to look at Faith, still breathing hard.

“What was that?” Faith asked.

“Vampire,” Anne said. “They’re all over Sunnydale.”

“Can everyone in Sunnydale do that?” Faith asked, gesturing at the pile of dust.

“No,” Anne answered. “It’s just me.” She looked at Faith. “And you.”

“What?”

“You shouldn’t have been able to pin that guy,” Anne said. “That’s not how strong humans are.”

“So?” Faith asked. “I work out.” Which didn’t explain anything about her last week, but that was fine. Anne didn’t need to know.

“Sure,” Anne said, “but that doesn’t explain why you were able to knock that guy against a wall in three seconds flat.”

“And you have an answer?” Faith asked.

“I think so,” Anne said. “I can’t believe I ran away from home and happened to find the only other.”

“Only other what?”

“Vampire Slayer,” Anne explained.

Faith’s jaw dropped. She stared at Anne, and then she laughed.

“A vampire Slayer? Sounds like something out of a kids’ cartoon.”

“It’s real,” Anne said. “It’s real, and it’s my life, and I guess it’s going to be yours.”

“Who says?” Faith asked.

“Destiny, I think,” Anne answered. “Believe me, I didn’t ask for this.”

“Huh.” Faith shrugged. “Well, the strength is pretty nice.”

“Until you’re getting attacked every other night,” Anne said, “and it turns out your boyfriend is a vampire and then he’s evil and then you have to stab him.”

Faith backed away. “Sounds like you’ve got some stuff to work out.”

“That’s why I’m here, I guess,” Anne said. Her exhaustion was back, but Faith didn’t question it. “We going to the diner?”

“Yeah, yeah.”

On the way to the diner, Anne told Faith that her friend who had died had also been a vampire Slayer.

“You only get a new Slayer when the old one dies,” Anne explained. “So Kendra died, and you got the Slayer powers.”

“How come you’re still alive, then?” Faith asked.

“Death doesn’t stick on me, I guess.” Anne shrugged. “I drowned, got resuscitated, and here I am, and here you are. Both Slayers.”

“Good deal.”

Anne didn’t respond to that.

“So, what was your toughest kill?” Faith asked. “Your boyfriend?”

“Yeah,” Anne answered, her voice soft. “That was bad.”

“Okay, change of subject. How about wildest story?”

Anne thought for a moment. “Well, one time Xander-- that’s my friend, Xander-- he got all entranced by a substitute biology teacher, but it turned out that she was a giant praying mantis who was seducing boys so that she could bite their heads off, basically.”

“What?” Faith looked at Anne, incredulous. “I thought this was a vampire-only gig.”

“Nope,” Anne said. “Demons, witches, weird insect teachers… we get it all. Sunnydale was especially bad. It’s on this weird mystical convergence thing. I don’t have all the details, but my-- I’m always hearing about the forces of darkness and how I must stop them or whatever.”

“Huh.” Faith wanted to ask more about it, but now they were at the diner, and Anne had made kind of a big deal about the whole Slayer thing being a secret. So she stopped talking in favor of putting her hair up in its usual ponytail and leading Anne inside.

Faith lost track of Anne for a moment, but when she turned around again, Anne was holding a uniform and tying her hair into two neat little braids. Faith grinned at her, and Anne managed half a smile back, and Faith turned back to the table she was waiting on with a new cheer in her voice.

Anne came home with Faith again that night, full of promises that she’d find someplace of her own to stay, soon, and she’d pay Faith back as soon as she could. Faith waved everything away, squirming with discomfort at sharing her space so openly.

“In exchange for telling me more about this Slayer thing,” she explained. Anne flinched, but she nodded.

A week passed, and then two, and then a whole month. Anne looked for an apartment of her own, but eventually she just started chipping in on Faith’s rent, and Faith figured that meant they were all five by five. It wasn’t like sharing a bed was the worst thing that had ever happened to her. And Anne needed the help. She clearly hadn’t had to do much for herself before-- she could Slay a vampire, sure, but she was completely lost when it came to things like dealing with money and cleaning a bathroom.

But soon enough, Faith realized she had come to rely on Anne a little bit, and the thought unnerved her completely. She had to get out, or she had to get Anne out, or something, but she couldn’t leave, and she couldn’t make Anne leave, because neither of them had anywhere to go, and Faith was rude to men but not to girls like Anne, and suddenly everything about Faith’s perfect freedom was different and not as nice as it was before, but it was because of good things and not because of bad things but Faith couldn’t deal with good things either and she didn’t know what to do.

So she just became more and more withdrawn until finally she and Anne were walking home late at night and Anne asked, “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Faith said, hugging herself and turning her body away from Anne.

“Are you sure?” Anne asked. “You’ve been kind of quiet lately.”

“I’m fine, A. I just don’t wear stuff on my sleeve, okay?”

“Yeah, okay.”

Anne seemed kind of hurt, and for a moment Faith wanted to turn and apologize.

But she didn’t. She just kept walking, and Anne walked next to her, but it wasn’t the same kind of companionship she usually got from Anne.

Of course, that was when the vampire grabbed her from behind, pinning her arms to her sides, and she struggled against the grip, and then Anne did some sort of ridiculous twirl as she whipped her stake out, and then the pressure on Faith’s arms released all of a sudden as the vampire turned to dust. She turned around to see Anne looking at her with a strange look in her eye-- maybe it was worry? But it could also have been pity-- Faith wasn’t great with the emotions, but she knew what her body felt like, and right now her body felt like little bugs were crawling all over it. Which was probably connected to an emotion, actually, but Faith’s thought processes didn’t really get all that far.

“I could’ve gotten out of that.”

Anne shrugged. “Faster this way.”

“Maybe I’d rather fight my own battles, B.”

“If you want to get yourself killed, fine!” Anne put up her hands. “Don’t blame me when you’re dead.”

“I won’t.” Faith turned and continued walking, deliberately a few paces ahead of Anne. She heard three quick footsteps behind her, and then she felt a hand on her arm. It was Anne, she was pretty sure, but she still grabbed the hand with her other arm and spun around, twisting Anne’s arm a little. It was a move Anne had taught her.

“What is with you?” Anne asked. “I get that you don’t want to talk, but God, Faith, something’s going on, and I really want to help.”

“You can’t,” Faith said. “I’ve got my problems, you’ve got yours, that’s just how it works.”

Anne looked like she was about to reply, but then Faith heard a girl’s voice calling Anne’s name. They both glanced back, and Anne shivered and shook her head, so Faith stayed silent, and they both started walking again. And then the girl called another name, one that Faith didn’t recognize or really even hear properly-- because she thought she heard, “Buffy,” but that was a ridiculous thing to name a child-- and Anne turned around.

“Anne?” Faith asked quietly.

“How do you know my name?” Anne asked the other girl.

The girl started babbling something about Sunnydale and vampires and names, and Faith looked from her to Anne, who looked just as shell-shocked as she had the day she and Faith had met. Faith put a hand on her shoulder, and Anne glanced at Faith, and Faith thought her look softened a little bit, but she couldn’t be sure.

And then a man ran through their group, almost knocking Faith over, and everything got all confusing as Anne asked him what was wrong, Faith started yelling at him for not looking where he was going, and the other girl (Lily. She had mentioned being called Lily) shrank back behind Anne and Faith. And then the man said he was no one and just ran right into the road, and then Anne ran right into the road after him, and Faith ran into the road after Anne, but it was Anne who got hit rather spectacularly by the truck.

The truck stopped, and Faith crouched over Anne. “You okay, A?” she asked.

Anne was sitting up, slowly. “I’m fine,” she said.

The guy who’d been driving the truck was talking about calling an ambulance, but Anne was almost all the way standing now, and she looked fine, all things considered. The weird man who’d started the whole thing was gone, so Faith took it upon herself to argue with the driver.

“She said she’s fine,” she told him. “You’re in the clear.”

Lily had run up to them, and now she was interrogating Anne, too, and it was pretty clear that they just needed to go back to their apartment to make sure Anne actually wasn’t hurt.

Anne was up to standing now, and she and Faith made eye contact for a split second and, by silent agreement, took off running. They ran down a side street for a few blocks before slowing down.

“So, you okay for real, A?” Faith asked.

“Yeah,” Anne said.

“Okay, cool. We can move on to the real questions, like what was that girl calling you?”

“Buffy,” Anne said. “It’s my name. My real name, back in Sunnydale.”

“No way.”

“Pretty much.” Anne kicked at the ground. “I was doing the whole new life thing when I came here. You asked my name, I just said the first thing that came to mind. It’s my middle name.”

“Buffy Anne. Huh.” Faith shrugged. “Sounds all right to me.”

Anne (Buffy?) almost smiled. “Let’s go home,” she said.

“Yeah, okay.”

They walked in silence for another minute or so before Faith said, “So, can I call you B? Rolls off the tongue better than A.”

“Sure,” Anne said. “You might as well just use Buffy, now the cat’s out of the bag.”

Faith grinned. “Sounds like a princess name. You a princess? Princess B?”

“I wish,” Buffy answered. “Wouldn’t that be nice? I could live in a big tower with no vampires, and everyone would have to bring things to me.” She shrugged. “It’s actually a nickname for Elizabeth. I don’t know why my parents didn’t just name me Elizabeth.”

“Yeah, well, I don’t know why I got hair this nice. We’ve all got crosses to bear.”

Buffy laughed.

They were at their building now, and they climbed the stairs in silence. When they got into the room, Faith immediately turned to Buffy. “So, you need any emergency first aid or anything?”

“I’m fine, Faith,” Buffy said. “Between the Slayer resilience, the Slayer strength, and the Slayer healing, I think I’ll survive.”

“We get special healing, too?” Faith grinned. “Wicked.”

“Yep, it’s pretty great. Almost makes up for getting hurt so often.” Buffy stretched. “Ugh. I’m going to be super sore tomorrow, though.”

“You have experience with getting hit by trucks?”

“It’s the approximate size and shape of a big group of vampires,” Buffy said. “And I’ve gotten hit by big groups of vampires lots of times.”

Faith laughed. “Guess so.”

The next day, Lily was back in the diner. Faith saw her talking to Buffy, but she didn’t pay much attention until Buffy mentioned it to Faith as their shift ended-- “I told Lily I’d help her. Her boyfriend’s gone.”

“Sure he didn’t just skip town?” Faith asked.

Buffy sighed. “No. But I promised her.”

“Whatever. You need backup?”

“I doubt it,” Buffy said. “She just needs proof.”

“Cool. I’ll find some dinner or something. Keep it warm for you.”

Buffy smiled an exhausted smile, one that didn’t quite reach her eyes. “Thanks,” she said.

When Buffy came home, Faith had been keeping half a pizza in the oven for an hour. One look at Buffy’s face, though, and she lost all thought of the pizza.

“What happened?”

“I lost Lily,” Buffy said.

“What, she’s dead?”

“No. She just ran away from me. But that’s not the only thing.”

“What else?”

“I found her boyfriend,” Buffy said. “He’s dead. And also, like, really old.”

“You know it was him?” Faith asked. Buffy had told her about enough weird supernatural things for her to believe that someone could age that fast. But still. It wouldn’t be her first conclusion upon finding a dead old person.

“He had the right tattoo,” Buffy explained.

“Weird. So, you need help now?” Faith asked.

“Not really. I’m going to go check out a creepy blood bank.” Buffy shrugged. “Could be good fun. You’re welcome to come with me.”

“It’s not like I had plans,” Faith said. “And anyway, it’s part of the whole Slayer gig, right? It’s pretty much my divine duty to join you.”

“Divine duty is overrated,” Buffy said, and there was that sadness in her eyes again.

They found answers at the blood bank, along with an easily threatened nurse, and wound up at a weird creepy religious homeless shelter. As they tried to convince the guards to let them in, they could hear Lily’s voice asking, “And will I see Rickie after?”

“We suck at undercover,” Buffy remarked, and Faith charged the guards as Buffy pushed the door open and darted through. Faith was tied up with the guards for a few moments longer, and it turned out that those few moments were the ones that counted-- by the time she had left them lying unconscious on the floor and moved on to the next room, Buffy was gone, and there was no sign of Lily, and no sign of anyone else, either. There was a weird pool of water in the middle, and Faith walked up to it and crouched, getting herself as close to it as possible without actually touching it. She didn’t see anything super weird about it, except for the initial confusion at seeing it at all, so she backed away in favor of snooping around the other rooms.

No one was really around, which was suspicious in and of itself. But Faith wasn’t great with “suspicious;” she kind of needed “I’m right here and trying to bite you” if she was going to do any Slaying. She got the idea that this was more Buffy’s wheelhouse, but Buffy wasn’t in any of the rooms, and Faith didn’t know where else to look.

Anyway, Buffy could take care of herself.

Finally, Faith went home, confused and tired and half hoping Buffy would be there, but Buffy wasn’t there, so Faith just curled up alone on her side of the bed. Once upon a time, she would have taken the opportunity to sprawl out across the bed, but now it felt like she was in Buffy’s space, even if Buffy wasn’t there.

The next morning, Buffy still wasn’t back, and Faith had to go into work anyway and tell the manager that Buffy was sick, and all the while she felt kind of sick, too, like she had when her dad left, and she couldn’t figure out why.

That night, Faith went back to the homeless shelter. There was still no one there, which kind of freaked her out, but then she realized that it was probably because of her and Buffy. And Buffy couldn’t have just disappeared.

She walked up to the pool. It looked like a baptism-type thing. Faith had been to church a few times, as a kid-- they had just baptized the babies with a little sprinkle, but it was the same principle. Wash away your sins… it was such a nice idea. Probably brought in lots of poor lonely kids off the streets.

Kids like Faith, before she had come to L. A. and gotten a job and met Buffy.

Shit. She really was worried about Buffy.

She dipped a finger in the pool. The water was warm, much warmer than it should have been. And there was kind of a shock to it, too, as if it had electricity running through it or something. And kind of a tug, too… Faith jerked her finger away just as she felt herself about to be pulled into the water. She stood up and backed away, running her hand through her hair. So that was what had happened to Buffy. Was there something beneath the water, or did it just drown everybody? Could the people down there breathe? Was Buffy still alive?

Just as Faith was having these thoughts, pacing around the room, she heard a sound from the pool. She turned and saw someone scrambling out of the pool.

A weight that she hadn’t realized she had been carrying lifted from her chest as she ran to help the person up. It was a man wearing something not unlike a gray sack, looking exhausted and worn and like he hadn’t had a shower in years.

“There’s more,” he gasped, collapsing on the ground.

Faith nodded and turned back to the pool. She pulled out about eight people until Lily came out and Faith could ask, “Is B all right?”

“She’s fine,” Lily said. “We’re all fine. Buffy’s coming up last.”

“How many more?”

“Just Buffy.”

And then Faith heard a slapping sound as two hands hit the wall of the pool. Immediately, she flung herself down and plunged her own arms into the water, grabbing Buffy under her armpits. She hauled Buffy up. Buffy’s momentum pushed her into Faith, and they rolled a couple of times before Faith realized how close she was to Buffy and pushed Buffy off of her.

“You good, B?” she asked.

Buffy looked exhausted again, but her eyes weren’t nearly as sad as they had been. The sadness was replaced with strength, and suddenly Faith knew what was coming next.

“I’m going back to Sunnydale,” she said.

“Ready to be Buffy again?” Faith asked.

She nodded.

“What happened down there?”

“It’s a long story.”

It was a long story that Buffy told on the way home. “I told Lily I’d help her get back on her feet,” she explained at the end, “and then I’m leaving.”

“Tell her she can have our place,” Faith said.

Buffy looked at her. “What?”

“She needs it more than I do,” Faith said. “I’ll find someplace new.”

“I bet my mom would let you stay with us in Sunnydale,” Buffy said. “After I give her a few weeks to recover from my whole running away thing. We can really play up the thing where you don’t have any parents.”

“Giles?” Faith asked. Buffy had never really talked about her home in Sunnydale before.

“He’s my Watcher.”

“You mean, the old British guys who are supposed to be in charge of us?” Faith asked.

“Yeah, pretty much.”

“Screw that.”

Buffy shrugged. “Giles is all right. Can’t say much for the rest of them.”

Faith took a breath and made her decision in that moment. “Yeah, I’ll come back with you. Kick it in a motel while your mom gets used to you. Don’t wait too long, though. I’m not made of money.”

“Sounds good,” Buffy said.

The next day, Buffy brought Lily back to their apartment and showed her around. It was a good size for one person-- too small for two, really. Faith sat awkwardly on the bed while Lily settled in, but when it looked like Lily had figured everything out (and stolen Buffy’s middle name), Faith made eye contact with Buffy and got up, slinging her one bag over her shoulder.

“We ready, B?”

“I guess so,” Buffy agreed.

“Five by five,” Faith replied.

By evening, she and Buffy were on the bus to Sunnydale.