Imperfect Hero

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Willow felt the hand tighten around her throat. She let her eyes wander over to see Buffy fighting off two vampires. She heard a grunt and knew that Xander had gone down. She struggled, trying to free herself. She kicked out, only causing the vampire holding her to laugh.

Suddenly, she was let go. She stumbled backwards, falling on her ass. She landed with an oomph, her eyes wide. She watched, holding her throat, as the vampire began to fight her savior. The vampire moved quickly, getting in a good hit. He wasn't quick enough. Soon, her hero had dusted the vampire.

Buffy quickly took care of her two vampires. Soon, the area was free of demons. Everyone stumbled to the same area, looking at various scrapes or bruises.

"Man, that was a work out" Buffy said, looking at the rip in her new shirt and frowning.

"A work out is done inside, canned music playing from the seventies. That was not a work out. That was a bad thing" Xander said, getting to his feet. He groaned as he held his side. Cordelia went to him, concern on her face.

"Damn, why did they all decide to party at the same time?" Faith asked, running her finger over a cut on her arm. She grimaced at the slight pain.

Willow watched as Angel moved beside Buffy, hesitant to join the crowd. She glanced around, realizing she was still sitting on the ground. The dampness from the grass was slowly soaking her jeans. She gulped, feeling a slight pain still in her throat. She moved to stand, surprised when she saw a hand reach out to help her up. She looked up, her green eyes wide. She took the hand and stood, dusting the grass from her butt.

"Gonna bruise" Faith said, running a finger over Willow's throat. "You're lucky I noticed. You'd have been dead before Buffy had finished with her vamps."

Willow nodded, trying to figure out why Faith had saved her. The slayer hated her. Never missing an opportunity to ridicule her or exclude her. She saw the brunette frown before shrugging. She had been dismissed.

"I got to jet. This thing needs cleaned" Faith said, rolling her eyes as she fingered the cut on her arm. She turned to go back to her motel, knowing that she wasn't really wanted in the little group. A soft voice stopped her in her tracks.

"Thank you" Willow said quietly before moving to catch up to Buffy and the others.

Faith turned, her eyes unreadable. Had she really been thanked? No one ever told her thank you. She couldn't remember Buffy even saying thanks for the help. She let her eyes watch Willow, her mind wondering why those two words made her so happy. Smiling slightly, she took off in the opposite direction.

**********

Faith walked into the motel room, shutting the door half way behind her. Out of instinct, she glanced around the dingy room before completely shutting and locking the door. She had learned long ago not to lock yourself in without knowing the contents of the room. She pulled her tank top over her head, letting it fall to the floor. Clad in only her bra, she went to the bathroom.

Turning the light on, she blinked adjusting to the bright fluorescent that gave the bathroom and even dingier appearance. She looked in the mirror, her dark eyes surveying her face. She had a bruise forming under her left eye. She knew it was from that final vamp, the one that had almost killed Red. She scowled as she opened the medicine cabinet, looking for something to clean her arm. She didn't have anything. Had to have money to buy supplies.

"Fucking great, Faith." she said softly, taking a deep breath. She let her nerves calm before turning on the water. She rinsed the wound, wrapping some toilet paper around it. Her own little bandaging system. Worked all the time.

She kicked her boots off, pushing her jeans down. The room was hot, as usual. The air conditioning didn't work so she usually had to use a small fan she had bought. She turned the fan on and laid on the bed, her dark hair spreading out behind her on the off white pillow. She felt a trickle of sweat between her breasts and cursed softly. She hated this place.

Again, she asked herself why she had stayed in Sunnydale. It was obvoius that she wasn't needed. None of them gave a flying fuck what she did. Buffy was so used to being the only slayer that she hated sharing the spotlight. Conceited bitch. The others were almost as bad. Xander and Cordelia were so wrapped up in each other she wanted to puke. Only Willow was as alone as she was. That was one reason she picked on the girl. There was someone worse off than her. It made her feel good that she wasn't at the bottom by herself as she usually was. She did hate this place though. She had tried to leave several times. Each time she got as far as the city limits and then had turned around and come back. She didn't know if it was fear or if something was keeping her there.

She let her eyes wander around her room. It was a shit hole. But, it was all she could afford. Slaying didn't pay all that much and she knew she couldn't hold down a normal job. Been there, tried that. Missed too much work due to injuries. She'd been fired from half the restaurants in Boston. Thinking of Boston brought a deep scowl to her pretty face. She shook her head slightly, forgetting the town and her past. She had learned a long ago not to dwell in the past. The present was the only thing worth living for. She had no future so there was no need to think that far ahead. She was lucky to be alive as it was.

She felt a twinge in her arm and noticed that toilet paper was red. It was still bleeding. Damn it. What had she been stabbed with? She sat up, the sweat making her legs stick together. She felt a pain in her back and knew that the next day it would be hard to walk. One of the vamps had thrown her into the crypt. She didn't think anything was broken, but if it was, it would heal. It always did.

She moved back to the bathroom, replacing the toilet paper with fresh. She looked at the wound more closely. It was deep but should be fine when it stopped bleeding. Having slayer healing abilities paid off.

She heard her stomach grumble and realized that she hadn't eaten since the day before. She moved to the dresser, looking through her money. She had enough for rent for the next months. Not a lot left over. She could get some bread and peanut butter. The meal of choice lately. She sighed, running a hand through her dark hair. She hated this town. She hated these people. She hated...she heard a knock on her door.

Alert, she moved quietly to the door. She looked out through the peep hole, her mouth dropping open. She jerked the door open, surprise on her face.

"What the hell are you doing here Red?" she asked, an edge to her voice.

Willow glanced at Faith, her eyes doubtful. She knew she shouldn't have come. She saw what Faith was wearing, or wasn't wearing, and turned red. Definitely shouldn't have come.

"I uh thought you might need some medicine." Willow said softly.

Faith frowned, seeing the pharmacy bag in the girl's hands. She glanced down, suddenly remembering that she was wearing only her bra and panties. Damn it. "Come in Red. Let me get something on."

Faith grabbed a t-shirt pulling it over her head. It fell mid thigh. She watched curiously as Willow came into the room. She suddenly sniffed the air, her stomach growling again. "Food!"

Willow nodded, handing over the bag. "I thought you might be hungry. I got you a burger."

"Damn it Red. You're a goddess" Faith said, tearing into the bag. She inhaled the smell of the food, licking her lips in anticipation of something other than peanut butter.

"I just wanted to drop that stuff off. I got some bandages and some peroxicide. I also got some stuff that is suppose to make cuts heal quickly. I know you have the slayer healing abilities and all, but I thought it might help." Willow put the other bag down and turned to leave.

"Where are you going?" Faith asked, chewing a bite of burger.

Willow looked at her surprised, "Home. I don't feel like sitting at the Bronze and watching them all lovey dovey."

Faith laughed, "Annoying isn't it?"

"That's an understatement." Willow said, smiling slightly. They actually had something in common

"Stay." Faith said. "I know it's hot as hell and the tv has a bad picture but it's better than going home alone."

"I'm use to being alone" Willow said. "It is hot in here though."

Faith finished the burger, giving a sigh of satisfaction. "No a/c. Sucks a big one if you ask me."

"My god. This place is terrible." Willow said, looking around. It was a fleabag motel. She couldn't believe Faith had been staying here the last month.

"Isn't it? Oh well, all I can afford." Faith moved back on the bed putting a pillow behind her. "Sit down. I don't bite. Not unless you ask," Faith winked, mischief in her eyes.

Willow rolled her eyes, "Don't have to worry about that. Aren't you going to clean your wound?"

Faith shrugged, "It can wait. You're the first real company I've had here. I have to play hostess."

"Faith, fix the wound. I don't want to feel responsible if you get infected with some terrible virus that slowly kills you. I have enough issues to deal with in my pathetic little life." Willow said, giving no room for arguing.

"Yes master" Faith said, laughing softly. She went into the bathroom and tended to the wound. She glanced at the redhead and saw her looking through a magazine. She knew the girl was only there because she had saved her life that night. She hadn't tried to be friendly any other time. Not that she had given her much opportunity. Frowning, she went back to her bed.

"So, what do we talk about?" Faith asked, settling back down. The new white bandage was wrapped around her arm.

"I don't know. I only intended to drop that stuff off." Willow said, biting her lip.

"What do you and B talk about?" Faith asked, curious.

"I listen to her whine about her mother and Angel and slaying and whatever Giles has done lately. That's about it these days."

"Alrighty then" Faith remarked. "B tends to be a bit self centered I've noticed."

"A bit" Willow said dryly.

Faith laughed. Something else in common it appeared. Maybe she had been hasty to disregard them all. It seemed that she and Willow might be able to be friends. "Want to watch the scrambled movie channel?"

Willow laughed, "Why not? It isn't like I have anything waiting on me at home."

Faith smiled. "Cool. Want something to drink?"

Willow shook her head, "No, I'm fine."

Faith turned the TV on, her eyes watching the girl as she began to watch the program that was playing. Hard to believe she had made a friend finally. Were they friends or was this just repayment? Faith frowned, wishing that she knew the answer. She could use a friend. Pity she could do without. She watched Willow laugh, her green eyes shining. Faith smiled. Friends, she decided.

**********

"No way man. That is so not right." Faith yelled at the tv.

Willow laughed as she reached for another pina coloda lifesaver. "What do you want to bet that she wants to have sex soon? Or maybe a shower..."

Faith looked at Willow, smiling slightly. "I think that's the first time I've ever heard you say the word sex."

Willow moved the candy in her mouth. "Really? Oh...well I guess it doesn't come up very often in our conversations."

"Cool" Faith said, enjoying making the girl blush. She turned back the tv. Groaning, she pointed, "Look! My god. Can't you see that branch? Wake up you silly twit. Damn, there she goes. Tripped again."

"These movies are always the same. But they are funny." Willow said, taking another candy. She glanced at her watch, surprise on her face, "Fuck. It's after four am. I have to get home."

"Man, this is a night for firsts. I've never heard you cuss either, Red. Seems almost like corrupting a virgin or something." Faith laughed at her own joke.

Willow glared at Faith, her face pink. "I am not that bad!"

Faith just snorted as she reached for a life saver. "Uh huh."

"Well, sorry we all can't be free living, loose moraled girls like you." Willow said, defensively.

Faith laughed, "Man. I struck a nerve. So prim and proper it makes my stomach queasy. No wonder they always leave you by yourself. That holier than thou routine is bad enough in B, but you give her a run for her money. At least she can get laid. What? Does the little virgin not like being a stuck up little bitch always in the slayer's shadow? Tired of being the one everyone forgets? The one they use and never thank. The one who goes home every night...alone."

Willow felt tears in her eyes. She knew that the others didnt want her around anymore. That was obvious. She didn't need Faith to point that out and then rub her nose in her loneliness. "I knew this was wrong. I thought we could be friends. I honestly thought we had had fun tonight. Guess I was wrong, as always. I thought you were as alone as I was. Quite a performance you gave. Always acting aren't you, Faith? Do you even know who the real you is anymore? Because, if you find out, I'd like to meet her." Willow got her purse and started to leave.

She was mad. Mad at herself for forgetting, for just a few hours, that Faith thought her the enemy. Mad at Faith for ruining what had been a nice night with two friends watching cheezy scary flicks. Mad that she was lonely now that she was practically begging her enemy to be her friend. Life sucked sometimes.

Faith frowned at Willow's back. Who the hell did she think she was? No one spoke to her like that. She stood, moving quickly, "You aren't going anywhere yet, Red. We aren't done."

"Let me go" Willow said, pulling her arm free from the slayer's grip. "We are done. I don't have to sit here and be ridiculed. I get enough of that at school, thank you very much. Have a nice life. Oh, and thanks for saving me. I almost wish you hadn't."

Faith watched, her mouth closing as Willow walked out, the door slamming behind her. Fuck it all. She had no idea what she'd done. They had actually been getting along. It was the first night since she had called that she had just sat around with a friend. A friend. She sighed as she sat down.

Damn it, she hated this. She wasn't suppose to care. Why the hell did Willow have to come over? Now, she found herself liking the girl. She couldn't like anyone. Fuck, they never liked her. Those that did ended up dead, their blood on her hands, so to speak. She glanced around the room, smiling slightly. It had been a fun night. She hadn't felt a part of something in so long. She didn't want to lose that because of her big mouth. She'd think over what she had said and see why Willow had gotten upset. Then she'd know how to make it up to the girl. She laid down, replaying the conversation. She'd figure it all out soon enough...then she could make it right.

**********

Faith walked into the library, quickly scanning the place. She was relieved to see that Willow appeared to be alone. She moved to the computer desk, intent in her purpose.

Willow tapped away at the computer, completely obsorbed in her work. She didn't hear Faith at all. Suddenly, she shrieked when she felt a hand on her shoulder. Looking up, her fear turned to anger. "What?"

Faith sat on the table beside Willow. "We have to talk."

"I'm busy" Willow said, going back to her work.

"Red, don't make me turn that off. You'd lose all your hard work...."

"You wouldn't!" Willow said, glancing at Faith. Seeing the glint in the slayer's eyes, she sighed, "Yes you would. Fine. What?"

"I'msorry" Faith said mumbling.

"Huh?' Willow looked at her.

"I'm sorry!" Faith said. "I don't apologize often so you'd better listen up."

"I don't care" Willow said turning back to the computer. She saved her work, ignoring the slayer.

Faith stared at Willow in surprise. Slowly, a smile crept on to her face. She nodded in satisfaction. She liked this version of the girl. Reaching over, she hit the power strip causing the computer screen to go black.

"You bitch!" Willow cried out, thankful she had saved her work. "Fine. Apology accepted."

"Nope. You are going to listen to me. I thought about this alot. I was wrong to say what I did. I mean, I don't even know you."

Willow just looked at her, her gaze unwavering.

"But I want to know you...I mean, it was nice...the other night....just chillin'. Damn it, you're going to make me beg aren't you?" Faith said, running a hand through her dark hair.

Willow smiled suddenly, "Nah...I think this is enough. But you're right. You don't me. If you ever say anything that hurtful again, this friendship is over."

Faith looked at her, smiling, "Friendship?"

Willow nodded, "Yeah...I'd say we might be friends...it was rather nice to just sit with someone and have fun."

"Uh...you want to patrol with me tonight? We could grab a burger maybe watch some more scrambled TV...." Faith drifted off, not used to having a friend and thus being unsure what to say.

"Cool. As long as you know that I expect to hold my own during patrol. None of that babysitting stuff like Buffy." Willow said, looking determined.

Faith laughed, "Fine...We'll stick to empty streets....Ow" she said, rubbing her arm where Willow hit her. This friend thing was going to be rather neat, she decided.

**********

"This is a dump" Willow said, frowning at the room.

"Hey Red. Don't knock it. It's my dump" Faith said defensively.

Willow looked at Faith and smiled. It had been a week since the slayer had apologized. They had been together most nights after patrol since then. Just hanging out and watching TV. They knew the pizza delivery guy by name. "It's a dump."

"I know" Faith said, falling back on the bed. "Last night some guy got shot done in 212. I heard the gunshot. Now, I'm the first to admit that I thrive on danger....but I prefer a danger that I can fight."

Willow's eyes widened, "You heard the shot? He died?"

"Yep. The ambulance kept me half the night. Police and all....damn, it wasn't quiet."

"That's it. You're coming home with me." Willow said,standing.

"Huh?" Faith said, sitting up partially. She saw Willow open her closet and exclaimed, "What are you doing?"

Willow looked at her, "Faith. Come on. My parents are gone for three more months. In that time you can save enough to get something better than this place. I have the room and besides, I could use some company."

"I can't mooch off you" Faith said, her face set.

"Faith! You listen to me. I am not going to wait up each night expecting a call from some cop telling me that my best friend was killed by a stray bullet. So, get your slayer ass up and pack. You're coming home."

Faith smiled slightly, "Best friend? What about Buffy?" she stretched the last word out.

"Buffy is always going to be a great friend, but right now, she has a lot of other things going on. You're the one I'm hanging with right now."

"Cool. Since you put it that way, I'd be happy to stay with you Willow. BUT, I'm doing the laundry and cleaning. I'd cook, but I think you want to survive to see your eighteenth birthday. We got a deal?"

"You do laundry?" Willow said, staring pointedly at Faith's dirty jeans.

"Hey. I fell on patrol." Faith said, grinning.

"It's a deal. Now let's get out of here."

The girls both began to pack up Faith's belongings, chatting about the spare bedroom and making plans for the next night.

**********

Faith looked around the room, her mouth opening slightly. "Wow."

Willow looked at her surprised. She looked at the spare room and then back at Faith. "I know it's small, but it is better than that motel."

"Small?" Faith looked at Willow. "You think this is small? This is fan-fucking-tastic. My own closet. I even have a bathroom. Damn. This is so cool."

Willow smiled at the girl's statements. She watched as Faith went into the room further and bounced on the bed. The slayer was acting like a child who had found a new toy. "So, I guess you like it."

Faith laughed, laying back on the bed, "I love it. This bed is so soft...the place smells so nice. Wow...this is the nicest place I've ever lived."

Willow frowned slightly as she went to sit down. She thought over what Faith had said. She realized that she had no idea what Faith's life had been like. All she knew was that she was from Boston and she was a slayer. From what the girl didn't say, Willow assumed her home life was not something she wanted to remember. Poor thing..if this small room was nicer than anywhere she had ever lived, that didn't speak well for her past.

Faith sat up, seeing Willow's distant look. She knew now that meant the redhead was deep in thought. She took a moment to study the girl....her friend. She smiled as she realized that they were friends now. Hell, they were roomies. She owed the girl so much. Willow was the first person in her life who had been nice to her without wanting something in return. She had a brief flash of her life before she was called and grimaced. Shaking her mind free of the memories, she said quietly, "Thanks."

Willow heard Faith speak and came out her daze. "What was that?"

Faith laughed softly, "I said thank you."

"For what?" Willow asked, confused.

"For this" Faith gestured. "For...well, for caring. Not used to that."

Willow smiled, "You'd better get used to it. We're friends. That's what friends do. Besides, I'm only using you to get out of laundry detail." She grinned impishly.

Faith laughed outright, "You might save that until my first load. Everything will probably turn out tighter and shorter."

"Maybe you should stick to dusting" Willow said, smiling.

"Nah..besides, all your stuff is so loose, I could shrink it and it might finally fit right." Faith said, smirking.

"Are you insulting my clothing...again?" Willow asked, her green eyes blazing.

"Fuck yeah."

"Thought so" Willow said, smiling slightly. "Go on. Get settled. I have to check my mail."

Faith watched Willow leave, closing the door behind her. She smiled as she looked at the room. Her room. She laughed again, falling back on her bed. Life was good.

**********

"Hey, Red. Where are we going?" Faith asked, catching up to Willow.

Willow smiled, "You know...you should have enrolled here. You're here more than half the senior class."

"School and I don't get along" Faith said, walking beside her friend. "So, where are we going?"

"Duh...the library." Willow said, stepping around to avoid a passing student.

Faith smiled. She had been living with Willow for two weeks already. It had been great. It was almost like being part of a family. She loved it. She hated to think that one day it was going to have to end. Buffy and the others had no idea about her living arrangements or her friendship with Willow. Neither girl had deliberately kept it a secret, it just hadn't come up. Besides, the others just didn't pay a lot of attention to anything except themselves. They didn't care. Faith was rather relieved in a way that no one knew. It was nice having something away from slaying. "Why?"

Willow sighed, "Because, I don't have anything else to do. Besides, I can get some of Giles books in the database I've created. Why are you here this early?"

Faith shrugged, "I was bored. Jerry was a re-run."

Willow rolled her eyes, "That good old educational television you watch daily is going to rot your brain."

"Yes mother" Faith said, smiling as she moved to let a guy pass. She caught up to Willow in seconds.

"So, you were bored and thought of me?"

"HEY...don't make it sound that way. I thought we might go out tonight. Maybe head to a club and dance...."

"Faith, think about it. The Bronze is the only place in town and you think it's dull."

Faith smiled, "I didn't say it would be a club in Sunnydale."

Willow stopped, looking at the mischievious look in the slayer's eyes. She shook her head, "Nuh uh. No way. I don't like that look. I'm not going to Pierceton or Rockwall."

"Come on...please? I don't want to go alone...something nasty might get me."

Willow laughed, "Yeah right. Faith, you know that clubs aren't my thing. Can't you get Buffy to go?"

Faith frowned, "I want to have fun not listen to her whine constantly about Angel. Come on, Wills. Please? I'll be your best friend...."

"You're already my best friend." Willow pointed out dryly.

"I'll be your better best friend" Faith said without missing a beat. She really wanted to get Willow away from Sunnydale and get her to loosen up. The poor thing was stressed completely. Besides, the others put such a heavy load of research on the redhead she was surprised she hadn't collapsed. "Pweeeeeeze?"

Willow smiled, "Fine. But if I don't like it, we come home."

"YES!" Faith said, grinning triumphantly. "We're going to party...we're going to party." she sang, dancing a bit.

Willow just laughed, "Why do I get a feeling that this is a big mistake?"

**********

"Hey Will. I need your chemistry notes" Buffy called out as she entered the library. She looked at the computer and frowned. It was turned off. She glanced at the table and saw that it was clear of books and papers. Where was Willow?

"Come on Buffy. We have to get going if we want to patrol before the Bronze" Xander said, following her into the library. Cordelia and Angel were behind him.

"Have you seen Willow?" Buffy asked, trying to figure out where her friend was.

"Not since English. Hey, where is she?" Cordelia asked, surprised that the girl wasn't pecking away at the computer. "It's Friday. Not like she has anything else to do."

"Cordy" Buffy said, glaring at the girl. "That isn't helping."

"Well, excuse me for speaking the truth."

"It is strange that she isn't around. Heck, call her house. Maybe she got sick and went home. Guess she won't want to go to the Bronze with us then." Xander said, sitting on the table top.

"FIne, I'll call her. Hope she's ok" Buffy said. She realized that it had been weeks since she had actually had a conversation with the redhead. They had seen each other, just not outside of slaying duties. She dialed the number and listened.

"What the fuck!" She said, hanging up.

"What is it?" Angel asked, curious.

"The machine picked up..." Buffy said, re-dialing.

"Then leave a message" Cordelia said, giving Buffy a look.

"Fuck me. Listen to this" she hit speaker phone.

'Hey you've reached our place. Red isn't here right now. Neither am I. Leave us the 411 and tell us who it's to. We'll call you back if we feel like it. Don't listen to Faith...we'll call back. Bye'

"Faith and Willow?" Xander said, frowning.

"Why is Faith on her answering machine?" Cordelia asked.

"Our place?" Angel said slowly.

Buffy felt as though she had been slapped. "They sound rather friendly for enemies don't they?"

"I'm sure it's nothing" Xander said, seeing the look of disbelief and hurt on Buffy's face.

"Didn't sound like nothing. They sounded very chummy" Cordelia said. "Ouch!" she called out as Xander hit her.

"What-ever. Let's go. Let Willow have her little friend. I don't care." Buffy said, knowing that it would be hard to get over this deception. Willow had better stay away from her until she had time to cool down.

**********

Willow grimaced as the music got louder. They were in Rockwall at some club called Dinomite. It wasn't very impressive. A lot of college guys and a terrible band that played loudly to cover up for their lack of talent. She sipped her soda, her eyes finding Faith.

She had to smile. The girl was definitely in her element. She was currently dancing with three guys, letting them rub her and touch her. Willow rolled her eyes as Faith vamped seductively for them all. She felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end. Someone was watching her. Startled, she glanced around. She didn't see anyone. She must be going crazy, she decided. Maybe it was too much soda.

Faith frowned. Willow was sitting at a table alone, nursing a drink. She hadn't danced one, though she had been asked several times. Faith looked her over and fought a grin. Willow had let her choose her clothes for the evening of fun. Faith had picked out a nice short leather skirt that showed off Willow's long legs. A nice tight shirt emphasized the girl's lovely breasts. A velvet choker completed the outfit. Willow looked hot.

Faith didn't even begin to understand the feelings in her at that moment. She was having fun. That was all that mattered. She wasn't going to dwell on the sparks of lust that went through her as she watched Willow lick the rim of her glass. Nope, not going to do it. She also wasn't going to think about the desire that she felt when the girl had smiled at her compliment earlier in the evening. This was Willow for lord's sake. Her best friend...her only friend. There was no way she could possibly be attracted to the redhead. She was straight. Or she thought she was.

Faith made a decision when the song ended. She moved to Willow's table, taking her hand.

"Dance with me" she said, her voice giving no room for arguing.

"What?" Willow said, looking at the slayer in surprise.

"I'm not leaving until you dance. So, unless you want to be here all night, dance. Now."

Willow reluctantly stood. "I hate dancing."

"Quit the whining Red. I hate being nice to Slutty but I do it for you. So, dance...for me."

Willow knew she was beaten. Faith was telling the truth. Willow knew that if the slayer had a choice she would leave the research to the others. She only helped out because she knew Willow wanted her to. Willow was turned around to face Faith. She was startled to see a gleam in the girl's eyes. No way. She thought she had seen desire in their brown depths. Definitely too much soda, she decided. Faith didn't want her. Willow groaned softly. Why the hell did that make her feel a bit disappointed?

Willow began to dance beside Faith. Several guys moved to join the beautiful girls. Willow's back was to Faith as she moved to the music. She closed her eyes, letting the softer music take over. She knew a guy was in front of her, but she didnt feel embarrassed to be dancing.

Faith faced Willow's back, letting her eyes roam over the girl's cute little ass. She moved closer, letting her hands drift over Willow's arms. She saw Willow turn and glance at her. She smiled, letting her friend know it was just part of the dance. Willow nodded slightly as though she knew what Faith was thinking. Faith almost believed that she did.

Faith felt a guy move in behind her as she danced. She wondered what their interesting group looked like. She ran her hands down Willow's stomach, pulling the redhead into her. She moved her pelvis, letting them move together. She was glad that she had decided to wear leather pants for their outing. They gave her more leway to move.

Too soon, the dance was over. Willow turned and faced her, her face smiling.

"That was fun. I've never danced with two people before." She said, her face slightly flushed from the dance.

Faith smiled, "Told you, stick with me and you'll have fun."

"Golly, what time is it?" Willow asked, feeling tired.

"Pretty late. We still have to get to the bus station before too late. Guess we should leave." Faith said, knowing that she needed to save money to buy a car. She hated public transportation.

"Faith" Willow said, as they collected their coats.

"Yeah Red?"

"Do you feel that?" Willow asked, a frown on her face.

"Feel what?" Faith asked, confused.

"Like someone is watching us. I've felt it all night. It's disturbing."

"I haven't noticed anything...I don't feel any vamps. Come on. Let's get going. I don't want you upset."

The girls left the club, walking down the dark street towards the bus station. Willow looked at Faith. She heard footsteps behind them. She saw Faith's look and knew that she heard them also.

Faith slowed down, knowing that someone was following them. She reacted quickly, pushing the guy against the brick wall. "Who are you and why are you following us?"

The guy gasped for breath. She looked him over. Harmless looking geek. She saw him breathing and knew he wasn't a vampire. She relaxed her grip slightly when she felt Willow's hand on her shoulder. "Who are you?" Willow asked, hating the idea that this guy was human and he was after them.

He stammered his name, "Allan. Allan Finch. We have to talk."

**********

"Do you believe him?" Faith asked, sitting on Willow's bed.

Willow thought about it. She and Faith had met Allan Finch after leaving the club. He had driven them back to Sunnydale, telling them a very interesting story about the mayor. "I think Finch is telling the truth."

Faith groaned, "Why did I have a feeling you'd say that?"

"Because, things have been rather easy lately and you know that doesn't happen often on the Hellmouth?"

"That was a theoretical question, Red. Though, all of those are great answers."

"We are so fucked right now. I want to know why Finch came to us."

Faith shrugged, "I'm the slayer. I guess he thought I could do something. Fuck this. What are we suppose to do?"

"I don't know. Research would be my first guess. I'm a bit worried though."

"About what?" Faith asked, not wanting Willow to be worried about anything.

"Did you see the fear in his eyes? What if Wilkins finds out he told us? He'd come after us without a moment of hesitation."

Faith moved to Willow's side, sitting back against the pillows. She put her arm around her room, letting Willow's red head fall on her shoulder. "I'll protect you, Willow. Hell, I'm the slayer. That's what I do."

Willow smiled slightly at the determined tone in Faith's voice, "Yeah...but who protects you?"

"I don't need protecting" Faith said, grinning cockily at the girl. She felt her smile die at the seriousness in Willow's eyes.

"Faith, you're my best friend. I mean, I get along better with you than I do with Buffy even. I can't lose that so soon after finding it."

Faith had a sudden urge to kiss the girl. Startled, she froze. What the hell was she thinking? This was Willow. Pretty, smart, babbling Willow. Her Willow. "You won't lose me Wills. Takes more than some ascensiony mayor to get rid of me. Trust me on that."

"What should we do?" Willow asked, wanting to believe Faith's words.

"I say we talk to Slutty and the gang tomorrow. Tell them what Finch said. Call in the reinforcements so to speak."

"Yeah...Buffy will help. This is bad news for all of us if it's true."

"Of course she'll help. Fuck, you're her best friend. Besides, why wouldn't she?" Faith asked.

"You're right. She'll help. Hell, she's the slayer too. She will have to believe us. Remember, we promised Allan we wouldn't mention his name."

"Will, this is you we're talking about. Buffy trusts you with her life. Of course she'll believe you. Now, why don't we get some sleep. I'll start looking into this ascension thing in the morning when you go to the school to talk to the others."

"You're making me do it myself?" Willow asked, looking at her.

"They don't like me. They don't trust me. So, yes, I think your case will be better made without my wonderful presence."

"Fine. Make me do it alone." Willow grumbled. She knew Faith was right though. Buffy did seem to dislike the other slayer for some reason.

"Never alone Willow" Faith said softly, giving into the impulse. She leaned over and brushed her lips against Willow's. She stood quickly. "I'm going to get some sleep. See you in the AM."

Willow watched Faith leave, her lips still tingling from the brief kiss. She stood slowly, wondering what had just happened. Had that been a nice friendly peck or something else? Damn, she wish she understood Faith's mind sometimes. Sighing, she undressed. Tomorrow, she'd get the gang involved in this ascension thing.

**********

"That is so stupid" Buffy said, not looking Willow in the face. "You called me here on a Saturday to tell me some bogus lies?"

"What?" Willow said, staring at her friend in surprise.

"I must agree Willow that your theory is rather unlikely. I've heard nothing like it before" Giles said, wondering why the girl had made up such an eleborate story.

Buffy looked up, her eyes cold, "Why don't you tell this little story to your roomie? I know. Because you know she wouldn't believe it."

"Roomie?....You mean Faith?" Willow asked, wondering how Buffy knew about Faith living with her. Buffy was usually so caught up in her own life that she failed to see what was happening around her.

"Yes, Faith. You're good friend, huh? Thought you two hated each other." Cordelia said.

"I never hated Faith. Why?" Willow asked, not sure why there were so upset. She had never lied about her friendship with the slayer. In fact, if any of them ever looked around, she'd think it had been rather obvious.

"Please. No one likes her. She's wild and dangerous. She's going to get herself killed one of these days." Xander pointed out.

"I like her. And she isn't that wild or dangerous once you get to know her. Oh, wait. NONE of you bothered getting to know her."

"Defending her, huh Willow? Doubt she'd do the same. She resents us all. It is so obvious everytime she looks at one of us. She's just using you to hurt me and to get somewhere free to stay."

"Fuck you, Buffy" Willow said calmly.

"What?" Buffy was shocked.

"You don't know what you're talking about so shut up. Faith is my best friend. I love her staying with me. Hell, I'm the one that begged her to move in. The loneliness gets monotonous after awhile. Trust me on that one. And I'm telling the truth."

"Another lie. Just like your little Faith friendship thing. I can see that you have chosen her over me."

"Buffy, it isn't a choice. She and I are friends. I wasn't aware that I could only have you as my friend." Willow said, getting angry at the blonde slayer.

"I'm the only one that is suppose to be a slayer! There is only one. I don't need her coming in and stealing everything and everyone away from me. She can go to hell for all I care." Buffy said.

"You selfish little bitch." Willow said, standing. "Fine. Don't help us. I don't care anymore. If it doesn't directly affect you or vampire boy, I guess it doesn't matter." Willow took a deep breath, "And, fuck you, Buffy. You ask why I chose her over you? Look in the mirror at what you've become. Maybe you'll get a clue. It's been a blast helping out around here and being used. Don't call me again. You made your choice."

Willow left the library, anger and hurt going through her. She had though Buffy or one of the others would try to stop her. None of them had. They had just accepted her leaving. She had lost them. It was up to her and Faith now to fight the mayor. How on Earth could they do it alone?

**********

"Miss Rosenberg?" a voice called from behind her.

She wiped the tears from her eyes and faced Wesley. Surprised, she said, "Yes?"

"Uh, well..I believe you. I don't think that you are the type of young woman to make up such a story. IF you would allow me, I would like to assist you and Faith in researching and fighting the ascension."

Willow smiled, knowing that she would never forget his awkward attempt to help and that she would be forever grateful for the showing of support. "Thank you Wesley. I'm sure we can use it. Why don't you come home with me. We can see if Faith has found anything."

Wesley nodded. He knew that this decision would cut his ties to Mr Giles and the man's slayer. He was confident that he had chosen wisely though. There were details in the girls' story that sound vaguely familiar. If only he could remember where he had heard them.

He trusted his slayer, no matter how wild she seemed. He also trusted the quiet redhead. They needed his help. He was a watcher. That was his job. He followed Willow to his car. Smiling slightly, he followed her directions to her home. He wondered how the three of them could ever fight an ascension. He only hoped it was possible.

**********

Faith paced nervously waiting for Willow to return. It was decided that if the slayer was willing to help, she would be called. She was assuming, since it had been two hours without a call, that Buffy hadn't wanted to help. Damn it, where was Willow?

Faith sat down, her leg bouncing up and down on the floor. She couldn't sit still. She couldn't explain it, but she was worried when Willow was away from her now. After talking to Finch, she had these horrible visions of Willow and a lot of blood and carnage. She'd had a terrible nightmare the previous evening in fact.

In it, she and Willow had been kissing. She smiled slightly as she remember that brief contact. She still didn't know what had gotten into her. She couldn't believe that she had kissed Willow. Anyway, the dream had been so sweet. They had made love in the soft rays of moonlight. Then, she had flashed to seeing Willow screaming...and there was blood everywhere. She had woken up, fear in her throat. In fact, she had gotten up and looked in on the redhead, having to make sure that she was safe. Faith had slept on the floor beside the girl's bed until early dawn. She'd had to make sure her friend was safe.

She heard the door open and stood. "Where have you been?" she demanded, walking into the foyer.

"I was at the library. Buffy decided to be late so I couldn't say anything until she got there. Then, well, it wasn't the most fun I've ever had." Willow said, making a face.

"What did they do?" Faith asked, moving to hug her friend. Willow hugged her back, thankful that she still had at least one friend.

"They made me choose." Willow said, pulling away. She took her coat off and set her bag down.

"Choose?" Faith asked, moving to sit on the back of the couch.

"They found out about you and me being friends" Willow said simply.

Faith suddenly frowned, "Between me and them....those bastards! What about the ascension?"

"They didn't believe me. Thought I was making it all up. Oh, I chose you by the way. Told them that I didn't want to talk to them again." Willow said, smiling slightly.

Faith beamed, "You actually chose me? No one has ever chosen me before..."

"Well, there is a first time for everything."

Faith just caught Willow's eyes, wondering if she was reading more into that innocent statement due to her growing love for the girl. "Yes there is." Faith sighed, "So, it's just us against the mayor?"

"Ahem" the sound of a clearing throat caught their attention. Faith felt her mouth open as she looked at Wesley. "Actually, it is going to be the three of us against the Mayor." He moved into the room and took a seat.

Faith looked back at Willow and smiled slowly. Good old Wesley. He didn't let them down. Not bad for a prissy prick, she decided. "So, where do we start?"

**********

Willow sighed, closing the book. She set it on the ever growing pile, a scowl on her pretty face. Faith watched her closely, trying to see if there was even a hint of knowledge. There wasn't.

"Nothing. Maybe this guy really is a flake" she said, sitting back in the chair.

"Do you believe that?" Faith asked, her expression curious.

"No" Willow remarked, "That's what is making this so bad."

"I must say, there isn't very much information to go on" Wesley said, closing his own book. "I do wish I could look into Mr. Giles books."

"We could break in" Faith offered, smiling at the shocked looks the other two gave her. "Hey. You want the books. They have pushed us completely out of the loop. We need to know what we are facing so we can save their oblivious asses, so why not break in?"

"I hate to say it, but Faith has a point" Willow said, exhanging a mocking shocked look with Wesley. "Did I just say Faith was actually right?"

"Shut up Red" Faith said, throwing her wadded up napkin at the redhead.

"Girls. Now is not the time to have a tiff" Wesley said, almost smiling. The three of them had been almost inseperable since the ostracization from the scooby gang, as Willow called it. Over the last few days, he had seen just how close the two girls were. A part of him could also see the love that was beginning to blossom. Personally, he thought it would be good for both of them. They seemed to compliment each other in a way that few people could ever find.

"Yes Daddy" they said, grinning at the not much older man. After spending time with him, they had found out he wasn't near as stuffy as they had originally thought. Besides, he had stuck by them, thus gaining mucho points in their books.

"So, my slayer, the one chosen to protect the people from evil, believes we should break into the school library to steal books?" he asked slowly, his eyes lit with amusement.

"Damn straight" Faith said, nodding. "Teach them not to share their toys."

"You know of course that they will know it was us?" he pointed out.

Willow smiled slightly, "Let them prove it."

"Oooohh, Red. I am a bad influence." Faith giggled.

"Oh my god. Did you just giggle?" Willow asked, a smile on her face.

"No." Faith defended, "Giggles are things girly girls like Cordelia do. Not womanly women like me."

"Uh huh" Willow snorted. "You're younger than all of us, Faith dear."

"Shut up" Faith answered back, "Age is irrelevant. I've lived far more in my sixteen years than any of you, B included, have lived in seventeen."

"That's true" Willow said, her expression growing serious. Faith refused to talk about her past, always changing the subject. Willow had seen several scars on the girl's back and one on her arm, but she had no idea what had caused them. She hated the idea that Faith had ever been hurt so badly, but she knew that she must have. Even Buffy's hurt had never really been that physical.

"Somber much?" Faith asked, knowing what Willow must be thinking about. She shook her head, "So we get to add breaking and entering and theft to our resumes?"

"Maybe" Wesley answered, still wondering if they could away with it.

"That means yes" Willow whispered loudly over the table, a smile growing back on her face.

"Cool." Faith answered, her mind already planning the crime.

Willow sat back, watching her new friends think of a way into the library. She wondered what her old friends were up to, and decided that she didn't really care. They had called her a liar, not even letting her present her case. Now, there were only three people fighting one of the biggest threats to ever be in Sunnydale. She wondered for the millionth time how they were going to do it alone and if they would survive it all.

**********

"Shhh" Willow hissed at Wesley.

Wesley looked at them apologetically, "Sorry" he whispered.

Faith exchanged a look with Willow and rolled her eyes. Wesley had proven adequately that he was nowhere near sleath guy. "Why don't you stay here?"

Wesley nodded. "Might be a wise idea."

"Thank God" Willow said softly to Faith.

They were attempting to break into the library. So far, they had seen no one. Yet, with their luck. they were being very careful. Faith motioned to Willow and the girls began to move quickly.

"This is rather fun. Almost like mission impossible or something" Willow whispered, smiling.

"Yeah, but no Tom Cruise." Faith pointed out, laughing.

"Shh" Willow said, looking around to make sure no one had heard them. "Besides, Tom Cruise is so overrated. The man is cute but just not that great."

Faith snorted. Only Willow would want to discuss the merits of Tom Cruise when they were breaking into Giles' office.

"Here. Do you have that pick?" Faith asked.

"Yep" Willow handed over the tool.

Faith played with the lock, scowling. "Damn it. Give me the screwdriver."

Willow gave her that tool. Willow watched her friend work, wondering where Faith had learned the art of breaking a lock. Another question that would remain unanswered. She moved to sit, knowing that the gang wouldn't be in. They had Wesley keeping look out anyway.

Willow let her mind think about Faith. She had been close to the girl for months now. At times, they seemed to almost read each others' minds. It was great having someone she was that close to. Lately though, Willow had begun to feel things for the brunette. Things she didn't understand. She felt like she did when she used to hang around Xander. She couldn't believe it, but she thought she might be falling in love with Faith. Somehow, that seemed right.

It didn't scare her. In fact, the only thing that scared her was the knowledge that she might lose the girl. So, she would remain quiet. She would never risk losing Faith as a friend. Not for feelings she didn't even begin to understand herself. Maybe it was because they were all the other had right now. Yeah. That made sense. Willow let her eyes watch Faith. No, she wouldn't feel the squidgy feeling in her tummy if it was just based on gratitude. She was falling in love with the slayer.

"Damn" Faith cursed softly, turning to look at Willow. She saw the far off look in her friend's eyes and studied her a moment. She wondered what Willow was thinking about. Whatever it was had her friend blushing slightly. To be able to read minds. Well, not minds. Just Willow's mind. She shook her thoughts. Now was not the time to think about her ever growing love for her friend. "It's a bust. I can get in, but I'd break the door completely. I don't think we can chance that."

"Fuck" Willow said, groaning. "All this for nothing? Damn it. We need those books. Without them, how are we suppose to defeat the mayor?"

"Lots of luck and some prayers?" Faith said, smiling slightly.

Willow laughed softly, "Lots of luck. Come on. Let's go get Wes. We need to think of a plan B."

"Plan B? Oh goodie. We have to number them now. Why does that not make me feel good?"

"Just hope that we don't get to plan Z anytime soon." Willow said, walking out of the library.

"So, not a Tommy fan, Wills?" Faith asked, following her friend out of the library. Neither girl noticed the figure move from the bookstacks, standing and watching them thoughtfully before moving into the light..

**********

"I can't believe we broke into the school and then didn't even get to steal the books." Willow said, whining slightly.

Faith started to laugh and looked at Wesley, "Damn, I corrupted her. She's griping because she wasn't involved in a theft."

"You must be very proud" Wes said solemnly, his face smiling.

"Damn tootin'" Faith said, laughing.

"Ahem. Could you two please not talk about me right in front of my face?"

"Ok" Faith said, "Turn around."

"Oh, you!" Willow glared before she began to laugh. "Seriously, guys. What are we going to do now?"

"You asking me?" Faith said, shrugging. "I'd vote for kill the mayor."

"Not a wise move" Wesley said, his voice serious. "We have no idea what we would be facing. I can check with the council. See if they know anything."

"No" Willow said, "You don't want the council involved. They'd find out about Buffy and all that mess. Maybe I can find something on the net."

"You've looked" Faith pointed out softly, "Nothing."

The two girls looked at each other for a moment before turning away. "I can try again" Willow said quietly.

"I have some contacts that are not part of the council. They may know something" Wesley said.

"Well," Willow started. The door bell rang before she could finish her statement. Getting up, she frowned slightly, "Who the hell is that?"

Faith stood, moving to Willow's side. She wanted to protect her friend if it came to that. She felt her mouth drop open as Willow opened the door. "What the fuck?"

"Plan B has arrived" Cordelia Chase said smiling brightly, pushing her way into the house and past the two open mouthed girls, carrying a cardboard box filled with books.

"Cordy? What are you doing here?" Willow asked, shutting the door.

Cordelia looked at her and rolled her eyes. "What does it look like? Helping. Duh. And they say you're the smart one?"

"Watch it, prom queen!" Faith said warningly.

Cordelia looked at Faith, her eyes narrowing. She then looked back at Willow, her eyes darting between the girls. She then nodded and smiled. "Oh...I get it. Hey, I'm cool with that. I'm a modern woman. What ever floats your boat."

"What?" Willow asked, moving to sit down. "Cor, you're confusing me."

"Nothing" Cordelia said, smiling slightly. The poor dear didn't even realize she was in love with Faith, did she? Yes, she was definitely needed here. "I brought prezzies!"

"What do you have there, Miss Chase?" Wesley asked, a bit flustered at the girl's close proximity. He was unaccustomed to the rest of the little gang, so he always nervous around them all.

"Books" she said simply, smiling as she sat down.

"Book?" Faith said, picking one up. "The Everyday Man's Guide to Demons.."

"You got Giles' books?" Willow asked, her eyes eager as she looked in the box.

"Yep. That is what you two were after tonight wasn't it?" she asked, frowning slightly.

"You were there?" Faith asked, looking at the brunette with new respect.

"Term paper. Should be working on it now, but thought saving my life was a bit more important than the irony in The Old Man and The Sea." Cordelia said dryly. "Oh, and next time? He keeps the key in a copy of the Key to My Heart, some self help book on the third shelf by the door."

"Fuck. There was a key all along?" Faith said, laughing at their stupidity.

"Why are you helping us?" Willow had to ask.

Cordelia looked surprised at the question, "Well, I don't really know. I mean, things haven't been the same since you left. Buffy even decided that she and Angel wouldn't work so she went after Xander. I feel a bit left out now. Doing this? I helped. Besides, I always believed you. I mean, you aren't going to lie about something like that. So, here I am. We talked about it for awhile now, but I wasn't sure if you'd let me help..not after how I treated you before. I saw the opportunity and took it."

"Buffy and the moron?" Faith said. "Can I be first to say Ewwwwww."

"Poor Angel" Willow said softly. "Oh, and I second that eww."

"Ahem. Excuse me?" Cordelia said, waving her hand.

"OH, Sorry Delia. About losing Xander and all." Willow hastened to add.

Cordelia snorted, "Nice way to sound sincere, Red. It was nothing. He didn't care about me I guess. It's over. So, what are we facing?"

"We?" Faith asked, looking at the girl closely. She saw the determined look in the brown eyes and smiled, "Well, right now we don't really know. But it appears to be death and hell on earth."

"Aww...typical night on the Hellmouth then" Cordelia said, sighing. "I'll call in my reinforcement."

"What?"

"Angel. He told me to tell you he wants to help, if you would let him."

"Angel? Well, well. When did you and Fang get to be so close?' Faith asked, needling the girl.

"Shut up slayer. We're just friends. Hell, who else do we have to talk to? Our respected others left us for each other. Now, can I make the call?" Cordelia asked, blushing slightly. Faith snorted, but didn't press the girl. She, unlike Willow, had a very good idea what the girl meant by her earlier approving statement. She owed Delia for that, even if Willow was unaware.

"Go ahead Cordy. We could use the help. We have to search all these books." Willow said, looking at the table. "And get them back to Giles before Monday morning and he notices that they are gone."

"Saved by a cheerleader and an angel. Who would have thunk it?" Faith whispered to Willow, giving in to tempation and letting her mouth touch the girl's ear softly. The redhead just smiled at her friend, not wanting to think of the feelings that shot through her at the closeness of the slayer.

**********

"We need to talk."

Willow looked up in surprise. She regarded the girl wearily, looking around the courtyard. She finally settled her gaze back to Buffy. "What about?"

Buffy sighed, "Can I sit?"

Willow nodded, not answering. She still felt disappointed that her best friend hadn't even listened to her that day in the library. She had felt betrayed in a way.

"I'm a bitch. A jealous, spiteful, hateful, terrible, not worthy to even be your friend bitch."

"Yes" Willow said, "You are."

Buffy took a deep breath, "I was wrong. About all of it. I was just so mad. You were my best friend Wills. My only real female friend. Then, you started to drift away. I lost you to her....I just didn't know how to react."

"You never lost me...not then. You made me choose, Buffy. Why couldn't I be friends with you both?" Willow had to ask.

"Because, you were mine. I already had to share the slaying with her. Do you have any idea how hard it was to go from being the one and only to be the eldest of two?"

"You called me a liar" Willow said softly, her hurt evident on her face.

"Willow, please. I'm lost without you. I can accept Faith's place in your life, but I want mine back." Buffy said quietly.

Buffy watched her old friend, waiting for an answer. She had spent many hours reflecting on what had happened. She knew it was her fault. Willow had never denied having a friendship with Faith. She'd just never been asked about it before. She knew she had reacted like an idiot. Speaking without thinking. It had taken her newfound feelings for Xander to make her realize what all she had lost that day. She couldn't move forward with so much unresolved in her past.

"You don't trust me" Willow said simply.

"Wills, I love you. You're my best friend. I admit I was a bitch. I apologize for that. Hell, I'll even apologize to Faith if I have to. I need you back...it's lonely without you."

"No promises...." Willow said quietly, knowing she was too easy. She watched Buffy's face as the slayer smiled. She wondered how Faith was going to react. Catching herself, she had to think about her reaction. Since that gentle kiss that night, their relationship had slowly been changing. She could sense it, but she wondered if the brunette could. Now, her first thought in accepting Buffy's apology was of Faith. When had Faith become such an important part in her life? And why did she like it?

"Thank you." Buffy said, feeling more grateful than she had in her short life. "About this mayor guy...."

"Do you believe me now?" Willow asked, her green eyes flashing.

"I'm more in a mood to listen.....I want to help." Buffy said. "So much has changed..."

"You're telling me" Willow said, thinking of the last few nights of research with Faith, Wesley, Cordelia and Angel. She wondered if Buffy was aware of the latter two's involvement with her now.

"Can we help?" Buffy asked, knowing she had probably lost valuable time by being so stubborn in the first place.

"Sure. My house. Tonight. Seven. You can bring Xander" Willow said, standing.

"How did you know...." Buffy trailed off as she watched the redhead move quickly. She saw Willow's face light up and looked to see the cause. She stopped in surprise when she saw Faith smiling at the girl. Willow's face had reminded her of how the redhead had used to look at Xander. A thought struck her. Could Willow be in love with Faith? Shaking her head, she stood and went to find Xander. She felt happier than she had in weeks, glad that she had taken the needed steps to beg for forgiveness. She would have to keep an eye on Willow and Faith that night. She was curious to know what exactly was happening there.

**********

Faith slowed as she neared the school. She saw red hair and smiled. The smile faded as she saw who Willow was talking to. Buffy. What did that bitch want? Hadn't she hurt Willow enough the last few weeks? She watched, her eyes narrowing, as Buffy touched Willow's shoulder. The girl was touching something that didn't belong to her. Faith took a deep breath, fighting the impulse to go over and kick the blonde's ass.

Faith moved closer, wishing she knew what they were talking about. She saw Willow shake her head and look sad. She frowned, wondering if the slayer was apologizing. It looked that way to her. She didn't like Buffy. Never really had. The girl was selfish and self centered. Besides that, she was whiny and ignorant. But, she had put up with her. She was rather fun to tease, rarely able to come back with a good retort. Now, though, Buffy had hurt Willow. Faith couldn't forget that.

She saw Buffy smile suddenly and knew in her heart that Willow had forgiven the slayer. Willow was too soft. She smiled affectionately thinking of her love. She could admit it freely to herself now. She loved Willow. Completely. The girl was her other half...the only person that she cared about....that cared about her. For Willow, she would tolerate Buffy. Only for Willow.

Faith moved closer, walking past the fence. She saw Willow glance her way. The smile on the redhead's face made her forget about the mayor and Buffy and everything bad in her life. She smiled back, wondering if her love for the redhead was as obvious as she sometimes imagined it.

Willow stood and started to walk towards her. She saw Buffy look upset that she had been dismissed so easily. She almost laughed at the bit of outrage on the blonde's face. She held her hand out to Willow, taking the girl's back pack. She hoisted it over her shoulder, her smile growing as Willow said hi in her soft voice. She saw a flash of something in Willow's eyes as she touched the girl's hand, but it was gone before she could decide what it had been.

There were times that she could swear the girl felt the same kind of love. But, Faith knew it was wishful thinking. Willow deserved more than her. So much more. She glanced back and saw Buffy watching them, a curious look on the other slayer's face. Faith narrowed her eyes before turning back to Willow. She listened as Willow told her word for word about the conversation she had just had with Buffy.

**********

Willow looked at the pile of books spread on the table in front of her. It was no use. They still couldn't find anything. She let her gaze wander to Buffy and Xander. Surprisingly, the two had shown up promptly at seven. She could still remember Buffy's surprise at seeing not only Angel but Cordelia also. Things had gone smoothly so far though.

Willow was shocked to see just how deep the connection between Buffy and Xander appeared to be. She was happy that they had found each other. Both of them deserved to be happy. It just amazed her that it had been found with each other. Things in Sunnydale were never quiet, that was for sure.

"Damn, this is worse than looking for a needle in a haystack" Faith said crossly. She hated books. All it seemed she had done for weeks was research. She was getting antsy and needed to fight.

"Why don't you go on a patrol? I'm sure Angel or Buffy would go with you." Willow said, knowing that Faith was getting impatient. She had learned to read the signs.

"Cool" Faith said, smiling at Willow. "You up for it, Fang?"

Angel looked at her in surprise. She had asked him instead of Buffy? Glancing at his ex lover, he saw the slight smirk on her face. Something was going on between the two slayers. He nodded at Faith as he stood. He'd get to the bottom of it. It wouldn't do to face the mayor with distrust between the two girls capable of defeating the man. "Sure, Slayer. Let's go."

Willow watched them leave, "You two be careful!"

"We will, Mom. We will" Faith called out, winking at Willow before she shut the door.

Buffy looked at Xander, a knowing smile on her face. She arched an eyebrow and saw him reluctantly nod. He hadn't believed her when she had told him of her suspicions about the exact nature of Willow and Faith's relationship. Now, seeing them together, he believed it. "So, more books Wills?"

"Hmm?" Willow looked at Buffy, shaking her head slightly. "Yeah. We have tons more."

"I am so not going to ask how you got Giles' private stash" Buffy said dryly.

Cordelia laughed, "Better not to ask, Buffy."

Wesley picked up the phone as it began to ring. "Hello?"

"Uh...yes...is Red there?" a voice spoke hurriedly.

"Just a moment." Wesley handed the phone to Willow. "It's for you."

"For me?" Willow said surprised. Everyone she knew was in her living room or had just left. Well, except for Giles. Maybe it was him. "Hello? This is Willow."

"Red? This is Allen...Finch. We need to meet. I have something for you....The bus depot. Locker 24. The key is in the third stall of the ladies room. It's very important that you get it quickly. I must speak to you or Faith. I'm at the docks, by the Livingstone Warehouse. I'll give you a half an hour. Please hurry! Time is imperative now. He is getting more powerful...Come now." He hung up before she could respond.

Locker 24 of the bus depot. Key in ladies' room. Third stall. Willow wrote out the words on the notepad in front of her. She tore the slip of paper and handed it to Buffy. "I need you to pick something up for me. Get it and come back here. I have to go out."

Buffy looked at the words and then back at Willow. "What's going on?"

"Our source needs to talk to me. I have to go alone....he seems scared. I got to go."

"I'll come with you" Xander said, not liking this very much.

"No...you can't. He is taking a big risk even talking to me or Faith. I can't have anyone else know who he is. Just get whatever is in the locker. I'll be back in an hour at the latest." Willow smiled at their concerned looks. "I'll be fine. I can take care of myself. Besides, he is good at keeping us hidden. See you soon."

Buffy watched her friend leave before turning to Wesley. "Is she right? Should I follow her?"

"She's correct. They've met with the gentleman several times. He has no desire for them to be seen. She'll be fine. Go get whatever is in the locker. She'll probably beat you back."

"Cool" Buffy said, walking out of the house. She heard footsteps behind her.

"I'll drive. Won't take as long" Cordelia said, offering a partial smile.

"Thanks C." Buffy said, smiling. Things were finally falling back into place.

**********

Faith walked into Willow's living room to find Buffy pacing nervously. "Hey, B. What's up?"

Buffy looked up, her eyes worried. "It's Willow."

Faith froze, her expression hardening. "What about Willow?"

"She's not back yet." Cordelia said, her voice soft.

"Back from where?" Angel asked, moving to sit down.

"Your source called. He sent us to pick this book up and he wanted to meet Willow. She said to give her an hour....it's been two." Buffy said, throwing the book on the table.

"Finch called?" Faith said. She knew something was wrong. He wouldn't do anything to Willow, but he might have been followed. "Where did she go?"

Buffy shrugged, "She refused to tell us. She said she trusted him and that she could take care of herself. I wanted to follow her but Wesley told us not to."

"Where is Wesley?" Cordelia asked, finally noticing the missing watcher.

"If that bastard did anything to my Willow" Faith trailed off, fear hitting her. Willow was missing. She sat down, her head in her hands.

"I'm sure she's fine. Maybe your source had a lot to talk about" Xander said softly, hope in his voice.

"Mr Finch is dead" Wesley said, his voice defeated. He stumbled into the room, his eyes finding Faith's. "The mayor has Willow."

"What?" Faith asked, seeing the blood on his face. "What happened?"

Wesley sat down, grimacing. "I followed her. I know you both thought your source was trustworthy, but she told me he sounded scared. I was worried. I saw him leave and followed him for a bit. The mayor had him killed. I saw Willow get into a taxi that the mayor was in. I heard her scream and tried to run after the cab. I uh tripped and fell. That's how I hurt myself."

"Finch is dead and the mayor has Willow? No....What the hell is this book?" Faith asked, looking at it. She opened it to a page that was folded. Reading, she began to smile. "We have him. The bastard is going down."

"What?" Buffy asked, sitting up. "We can get Willow?"

Faith nodded. "It's all here. FInch came through again. The mayor is mine."

"Now, Faith. Come on" Buffy said, her voice showing her disapproval.

Faith shook her head, "No discussion. The bastard touched Willow...made her scream. I'm going to kill him."

Angel watched as the girls stood off and finally realized what was between them. Willow. Buffy had lost her best friend to Faith. He couldn't believe he hadn't noticed the animosity between the slayer's before. He knew that Buffy had been upset that Willow had lied before. He just hadn't understood how deep Faith's feelings for the girl were. He must be blind. He noticed Cordelia smiling slightly and knew that even she was aware of it. He must be very blind.

"Fine. Kill him. But I want to help" Buffy said.

"Whatever. Let's go track his ass down." Faith said, standing. The others followed her out into the street as they headed to City Hall. The mayor was going down and Willow had to be saved.

**********

Willow woke up, her head pounding. She saw the mayor watching her and froze. She would not scream. She would not scream. Instead, she closed her eyes trying to block him from her view.

"Ah, sleeping beauty has risen. How are you, Miss Rosenberg?"

"Thirsty" Willow said, her voice hoarse.

"Of course. James, get Miss Willow some water." Wilkins ordered.

"Where is Allen?" Willow asked, still not sure if the man set her up or if he was on her side.

"Swimming." Wilkins said, smiling. "He's always enjoyed the sport. Of course, this time he sunk pretty fast. Naughty boy should know not to interfere."

"You killed him" Willow said simply, sitting up.

Wilkins smiled, "No. I had him killed. Big difference. So, you're a senior. Looking forward to Graduation?"

"Cut the shit. What do you want?" Willow asked, not letting him scare her.

"I want the book" Wilkins said simply. He heard the door open and smiled. "James is back with your water."

"Try again." Faith said, pushing the body of his assistant to the floor. "James had an accident. You ok Red?"

Willow smiled as Buffy came in behind Faith. "Dandy now that you're here, Faith. Why don't you slay this nasty in time for the late show?"

"Wh.." Wilkins stood, looking around him. "This isn't how it is suppose to happen. Get out of my office. Now. Both of you."

"Sorry babe. You hurt my girl. You gotta die" Faith said, taking the sword from Buffy. She pierced the mayor through the heart as Buffy said the words from the book. The mayor screamed and disappeared into a bright white light.

"Wow" Willow said softly, standing. She frowned as pain shot through her head.

Faith moved to her side, putting her arm around her. "You ok, Red?"

"I told you I'm fine. Just a bit of a headache. Hey Buffy."

"Willow. What is it about you and dangerous situations?" Buffy asked dryly, smiling at her friend.

"I love danger. Danger is my middle name" Willow said snorting.

"Nope. That's Anne" Faith said, helping her walk out of the office.

Buffy walked ahead of them, going out to the others to let them know the mayor was dead and Willow was ok. Willow looked at Faith, a soft smile on her face. "Your girl, huh?"

"Well, I meant..uh..." Faith stuttered. She stopped herself, a smile crossing her full lips, "Yeah. My girl."

"Ah, my hero." Willow said, a smile on her face.

Faith stopped and looked at her. "Always your hero, Willow. I meant what I said....you're mine, if you'd like."

Willow smiled softly, brushing a drop of blood from Faith's forehead. "This is rather new to me. I don't really know what to say except....I'd like."

Faith smiled as she kissed Willow gently. "Come on. Let's go face the others. They were pretty worried about you."

"Really? Well, I knew I was ok."

"Yeah right" Faith said, a smile on her face. Her eyes shown with happiness at the latest turn of events in her relationship with Willow.

"I knew you'd save me." Willow said simply, speaking the truth. The girls kissed again before heading outside to face their friends. Their future was uncertain, but Willow knew that together they could handle it.



THE END