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Story Notes:
“I said that I was fine.”

“Yeah, and you’re lying.”

“I am not,” Willow denied as she glared at the brunette slayer.

“Red, when you lie your eyes tend to look to the left and your cute little lips purse just so,” Faith imitated the pucker before saying, “so I know you’re not fine. You tell Buffy and the others whatever you think they want to hear just so they leave you alone, but you can’t lie to me. I’ve been there, done that, didn’t even get the fucking T-shirt!”

“There were T-shirts?” Willow arched a brow, sighing finally when she saw the stubborn look in Faith’s brown eyes.

“Heard there were,” Faith shrugged, “Guess mine would say something like, ‘Murderer and Sidekick to Evil Persnickety Demon’. Wonder if it comes in red. I’ve got a fondness for red.”

Willow failed to notice the way Faith’s eyes moved over her face as she finished her comment, instead focusing on, “Persnickety? Where the Hell did you get that word from?”

“What can I say? I’m full of surprises,” Faith smiled flirtatiously, winking at the beautiful redhead that had intrigued her since their first meeting several years before. At that time, Willow had been dating Dog-boy and was so out of her league that Faith had just ignored her attraction to the shy genius because she’d known it was a waste of time to want something you couldn’t have. Course, she had never really gotten over that infatuation with the redhead, and now, now she had her second chance. Willow needed her, and she wasn’t planning on going anywhere.

“Well, I guess my shirt would say ‘Evil Murdering Witch Who Almost Ended the World‘,” Willow grimaced, realizing that this was actually the first time she had really talked about what had happened the previous May. When she’d returned from England, Buffy and the others had walked around her like there was broken glass, rarely even mentioning Tara for fear that she’d what? Have a relapse? She loved her friends and knew she was lucky that they hadn’t turned their backs on her, but she had been back for six months and they’d never bothered to sit down and actually talk to her about everything that had happened.

There were brief references to those events and she could see their trepidation whenever she had to use magic, but they seemed to think it was better for her to just pretend it hadn’t ever happened and that everything was okay. She had been trying to atone for her actions, knowing that actions spoke louder than words and that a million I’m Sorry’s wouldn’t do anything at all. With the First and all the potentials and everything going on, she’d been so busy trying to redeem herself in her friends’ eyes that she’d never spoken about it, told them what she had felt, knowing that they could never understand what it had been like, what it felt like now to know she was a murderer, to know she was capable of killing someone, of threatening people she cared about, of nearly ending the world. The redhead looked at the brunette slayer opposite her, realizing that she finally had someone who would understand, that had done horrible things and was working towards her own absolution. In Faith, she had a kindred spirit.

“Damn. Guess your shirt beats my shirt,” Faith smiled, “of course, I could also have them add in some fine print ‘Tortured her Watcher and Nearly Killed the Only Friends She’s Ever Had and Enjoyed the Rush of Power and Thrill of the Kill Even Though She Knew It Was Wrong’. Wonder if they’d give me a discount for having so many words.”

“Faith, why are you doing this?” Willow asked suddenly, needing to know. Green eyes met brown as she waited for a reply, surprised to see what appeared to be a blush crossing Faith’s cheeks. The brash and cocky slayer known for her motto of ‘want, take, have’ was blushing? Willow had to admit she was very curious about what had caused that!

“I’ve been watching you, Red. I see it in your eyes. You put on the smile and say everything is okay but it’s not. You feel guilty. I mean, damn, you tortured a guy and tried to kill your friends and then you tried to end the entire world. That’s not something you just get over unless you talk about it,” Faith sighed, running her hand through her long brown hair, “It’s tough, this redemption thing. I’ve been doing it for years and I still feel so fucking lost sometimes. I just, well, I thought you might need to talk, that it might make things better. Maybe the smile could actually reach your eyes again.”

“None of them really understand,” Willow said softly, “they love me and haven’t given up on me, but they can’t deal with it. They know what I did. Buffy and Xander watched me! I nearly killed Dawn, hurt Giles…and they still forgive me. They don’t seem to get that I can’t forgive myself! I have nightmares all the time, the things I did, the things I wanted to do. It’s going to haunt me for my entire life. It takes so much restraint to keep control of my powers, to not them consume me, but I’m doing it. I’m being strong and I’m getting better. It’s just, God, it’s so hard sometimes and lonely and I wonder if I even deserve redemption for what I did.”

“Willow, you made some mistakes. True, they were pretty fucking major mistakes, but you’re out there right now risking your life to save people that will never know they’re alive because of you,“ Faith leaned forward, taking Willow’s hands, her eyes looking into Willow’s as she said, “When it comes down to it, we all fall down. Even saints."

“I was never a saint,” Willow smiled slightly, her eyes gleaming with tears from having the chance to let her emotions out, of talking to someone who did understand.

“Yeah, you were…still are,” Faith grinned, “can’t be a true saint until you’ve suffered and made mistakes and learned from the bad choices you made. You’re so wonderful yet you don’t realize it. Buffy and Xander, they see it, they know how special you are, how lucky they are to have you in their lives. God, Willow, you’re…everything.”

“Wow,” Willow whispered softly, the conversation taking a turn that she hadn’t expected. She looked down at their clasped hands, realizing that it felt nice, holding Faith’s hand. The slayer had changed during her time in jail, the two of them actually talking quite a bit since Willow had picked her up in LA a few weeks ago. And, okay, so she’d always thought Faith was gorgeous. Who wouldn’t? She had a fantastic figure and a beautiful face and really nice lips and nice breasts, Willow’s eyes widening as she realized she was paying too much attention to Faith’s breasts and lips. Her most attractive feature was her eyes, like dark chocolate, expressive and penetrating, observant. Faith was cocky and arrogant and not afraid to go after she wanted but, underneath that bravado and image, she was also scared and uncertain and just wanted to be loved.

“I’m not here just to get you into bed,” Faith explained, not wanting Willow to think that way, “I mean, sure I’d love to fuck you, but I want more than that. I know it’s not a good time for you, but I wanted you to know, damn, I don’t know. I wanted you to know that you’re not alone, that I’m here if you need to talk or anything, that I don’t plan on going anywhere.”

Willow admitted, “Faith, I’m surprised. I never had any idea you, well, that you thought of me like that. I thought you hated me, honestly. You were always so rude and ignored me.”

“Yeah, well, I sort of suck at that romantic nonsense,” Faith knew her face must be the color of Willow’s hair by now.

“I don’t know about that. I think you’re doing a pretty good job,” Willow told her, her finger moving over Faith’s as she caught the slayer’s eyes, “You’re right. Now isn’t really a good time, with the First and all the Potentials and everything. But, when it’s all over, I think I’d like to give us a chance.”

“Us?” Faith slowly smiled, having extra incentive now to defeat the First and avert this particular apocalypse.

“Yes, us,” Willow nodded, asking, “Will you be my salvation, Faith?”

“If you’ll be mine,” Faith said softly, leaning forward and brushing a gentle kiss against Willow’s lips. She caught Willow’s eyes and grinned, “I think the T-shirt is matching and simply says ‘Even Bad Girls Need Love Too’.”

Willow laughed, the smile reaching her eyes as she said, “Yeah, I think you‘re right.”