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gay now?

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"So. San Fran. You gay now, too?"

"It's too soon to tell, really. I mean, no," he added hastily, having taken in her standard leather pants and black sports bra. "Not gay." He gave her a wary look before stepping back to open the door wider and she shouldered past him to stare around his house like she was looking for something she could pawn for a bus ticket.

Xander leaned out over the threshold and scanned for tall, freakishly good-looking school authorities, but the only bald man he saw was in his eighties and using a walker.

"Is Principal Wood with you? Robin, I mean. I thought you two were... together."

"We broke up," she said dismissively. "He booked us on this cruise and then he was all, 'You never think about my needs', and 'a relationship is more than sex'. So we stopped having any." She shrugged. "I got stir crazy and jumped ship at the next port. So, I needed a place to crash, and Giles said he lived here."

"Well, he lives in San Francisco. But not in this house."

She nodded absently, lifting her chin to inspect the cathedral ceilings.

"By the way, sweet digs. You rob a bank or something?"

Xander colored briefly and took a deep breath.

"Something like that."

"Hey," Faith seemed to have noticed that she'd hit a nerve. "Even if you did, it's cool. Buffy'll never hear it from me." She completed her turn around his living room and asked, "Where is Buffy, anyway?" Xander could tell that she really wanted to know.

Xander hedged.

"What did Giles say?"

"He wouldn't tell me. But he gave me this address. So I thought maybe--"

"She's not here. I think Willow probably knows, but she's not saying."

"What about her little sis?"

"Dawn's at school."

Faith frowned. "She's in college already?"

Xander blinked at her.

"She's sixteen. She's in high school. If you wanna wait around she should be home around four. There's some student government thing--"

"She lives here?"

"Well, yeah. I thought you knew."

"I didn't know nothin' but the address." Faith smiled a little. "You know, it's weird. Even though I know I didn't really know Dawn when I was in town, I still remember that night I got her all gothed up and Buffy freaked out on us?"

Xander had a picture in his mind of Dawn in dark lipstick with a black rinse in her hair and heavily lined eyes. She'd been way too young to look that-- bad thoughts, bad thoughts. Xander cleared his throat.

"Occult Comics. I'm part owner. Me and Giles."

"You still fightin' the good fight? Cleanin' up the baddies?"

"Oh, we keep our hand in. We keep track of the dark-arts supplies, keep tabs on the local warlocks, that sort of thing. And we have a back room for RPGs and... yeah, it's pretty much the pinnacle of geekdom."

"What's an RPG?"

"Role playing games." Andrew dropped his keys on an end table and closed the front door behind him. "Hey, Faith." He continued like it hadn't been six months since he'd seen her last. Xander wondered what she made of Andrew's pink hair and pierced ears. "On Sunday nights? We have White Wolf. I got this really cool cape in this thrift shop? You could borrow it--"

"He lives here?" Faith looked incredulous.

"Yep. He runs the counter at the shop for me, too."

Andrew nodded eagerly and left the room to rummage in the fridge.

"You sure you're not gay?"

Xander held his hands up.

"Not gay. Brimming with heterosexual pride, here."

"But you're livin' with little rainbow rings there, and if he's not gay, I'm not a slayer."

"This may come as a surprise to you, but it's entirely possible to live with someone and not sleep with them."

Faith didn't look like she believed that for a second.