DISCLAIMER: Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel the syndicated series and all other characters who have appeared in both shows are the sole property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy & UPN. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices. All song lyrics are used without permission and for my own amusement. There is no intention to profit from them in this work or to defraud the composers and publishers.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks are due to a little dragon who insisted I post and made it readable.
SPOILERS: Series 3 up to Helpless (are spoilers for BTVS still possible??)
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
A Friend in Need
Faith's head had barely hit the pillow when she heard a soft knock on her door. It had been a tough night on patrol and she'd missed eating again. She had been too tired and sore to do more than kick her boots and jeans off and crawl on top of the bed covers when she'd got back to the dump of a motel she was living in. Even her feet ached after the 10 mile walk home from the remote cemetery that Giles had been getting her to patrol alone for the last few nights.
Her first impulse was to pull the pillow over her head until the caller went away because she could feel who was outside her door, but it was the hesitant voice of her fellow slayer that got her out of bed and back into her pants.
"P, please Faith, let me in? I, I need your help."
When Faith pulled open the door and saw the state Buffy was in she swore softly, then went to her and placed a supporting arm around her as the little blonde limped to a chair and slumped down in it.
Faith's voice was uncharacteristically gentle as she looked at the still bleeding injuries on Buffy's arm and face and the way her fellow slayer appeared hunched around what must have been badly bruised ribs. "Jesus B what happened? Look, sit here a sec and I'll get you cleaned up a bit. You look like hell girlfriend."
Both girls were silent until Faith got her medical kit from the bathroom and filled a basin with warm water mixed with some hydrogen peroxide.
Faith knelt down beside Buffy's chair and dipped a clean cloth in the water, and her concern was reflected in her dark eyes as she apologised in advance "Sorry B but this might sting a bit. Bein' on my own here I've only got a basic kit but I gotta get these clean."
Buffy hissed as the cloth touched her slashed arm but stoically limited her further reactions to the occasional muffled yelp as her dark partner gently cleaned her wounds.
Faith carefully dried off the excess water then looked at her patient, "OK B what happened? Why didn't Giles clean these up for you?" Then Faith saw a tear slowly roll down the older girl's cheek and really started to panic.
She took hold of Buffy's hand and said "Come on B what's wrong? Oh shit Giles or your Mom, oh hell she isn't "
Buffy looked up at that, "No, no, not that. It's just, well, I kinda wouldn't let him. Giles is sorta, kinda to blame for all this," she said sadly.
Then she continued in a curiously flat voice; "Faith, The Council made Giles shoot me up with some drugs that took my Slayer powers; seems they do it to all the Slayers that are about to make eighteen. Then he was s'posed to lock me in a house with a vampire to see if I could kill it, or it...it could kill me."
Faith's face grew thunderous as she started to speak but Buffy interrupted her still in the same flat tones." Wait Faith, I'd better tell you the whole story."
Ten minutes later Faith was still holding Buffy's hand and she still looked and sounded like she wanted to kill someone. "Oh God B, I am so sorry. I gotta say G-man is lucky he did what he did or I'd be kickin' his English ass for him. Those fucked up assholes, doing that and risking you your Mom like that. Actually I think I might still kick Giles' ass. He'd have left you there to die B if it had gone to plan; you know that. You know he only told you cos it all turned to shit. But that Council guy, Quentin, he's history if I ever get my hands on him. I'll squish his head like a grape."
Buffy shook her head tiredly. "No, Giles, he he came to help, God I don't know what he thought he was gonna do, but he feels so bad now Travers fired him for loving me too much Faith." Then she smiled and squeezed the hand holding hers, "any one else from the Council though, they're fair game, agreed?"
Faith grinned back, "agreed girlfriend. They can't do this to my , a Slayer and expect get away with it."
Buffy's face grew serious, "Faith I need a favour. You're the only friend I trust that can do it. I, I want you to come home with me tonight and stay for a while. I can't protect myself right now let alone Mom. I'm scared the Council might change their minds and decide to finish the job or someone else is gonna find out I'm kinda down on the juice of Slayerdom and try to grab a Slayer to put in the trophy cabinet."
Faith looked at her in complete shock. "You'd trust me to do this? Wow B, I mean nobody ever, I mean shit B 'course I'll help but I gotta ask, why me? Why not tall dark and broody or the Scooby buddies? We went kinda cold after that Post bitch came, yanno? I thought, well I know you told me I could trust you, but you, you never told me you trusted me and you never called me your friend. It hurt B."
Buffy looked up and replied softly, "I know and it was my big bad OK? I think, I hope you are my friend Faith, and I do trust you. I'm thinking asking you to look after my Mom proves it don't you? But do you trust me, even a little bit? I'm not playing you here' Ok?"
Faith gave a very rare shy smile, "yeah B I trust you, but I've been looking after myself by myself for a long time, so it's hard OK? But yeah I'll do it, I like your Mom, she's kinda nice."
The Faith's smile faded a little as she continued, "so spill, you still haven't said why you need me and not the others. I mean this isn't some righteous crusade to get poor sad me outta here" and she gestured at the dingy room, "is it?"
Buffy looked Faith full in the face. "The others can't do it Faith and I can't ask Giles, not now maybe, maybe never. Until I'm up to full power again you're the only one I can ask," Buffy held up her hand to stop Faith's interruption, "and I can't ask Angel cos Mom, well she doesn't really like or trust him. She does like and trust you Faith." Then Buffy gave a weak grin. "Getting you outta here is just a bonus, cos like, I've got to look after my rep yanno." She gave a fake simper and a very good impression of Harmony Kendall, "I mean if the other girls saw me visiting this dump, Oh my God, I'd be ruined." Then she laughed "I bet even the fleas have run away."
Then her expression sobered, a lot, "but Faith I have been thinking about how lucky I am, and what a bad friend to you I've been. I we let you come back here alone banged up and bleeding and you have to fix yourself up every night. At least I go home to Mom or Giles, OK so maybe not Giles now, but, well, you leaving here, it's gotta be all of the good."
Faith bridled for a second but then she saw the earnest expression and relaxed, "So, it's not great but it is mine and I can look after myself OK? But I gotta say, I'd be kinda glad to get outta here, I like my independence and all but when the Council'd only spring for this craphole do you want me to come with you now? I haven't got much to pack."
Then another thought hit her, "You're in no shape to walk all the way back to Casa del Buffy. How're we going to get there B?"
Buffy nodded gratefully; "yeah I was kinda hoping now. And I've got the wheels covered; I've got a cab and I've got enough cash to pay for it when we get home. Oh, by the way Faith, take everything. With the Council pulling a stunt like this I'm thinking safety in numbers is a peachy keen plan right now."
Faith looked directly at Buffy's face for a long second and then nodded, "OK, maybe you're right. I hope your couch is soft B, I'm used to living in luxury yanno?"
Buffy gave her first unguarded smile of the evening, "Oh I got that covered too, you're getting the spare room next to mine. We get to share a bathroom so I hope you don't hog the shower in the mornings."
As they walked to the summoned cab, Faith turned to Buffy and asked," So B, if the Council went after you on turning eighteen, when's your birthday?"
Buffy looked quickly at her watch; "it started about an hour ago. Oh God I forgot," she exclaimed, "The guys are coming around for a peanut butter and jelly breakfast." She looked anxiously at the other Slayer, "It's gonna be an early wake up call. Is that OK? I, I want you there too."
Faith looked panicky for a moment then smiled at her, "Yeah it's tough but I'll put up with it. Anyhow, happy birthday B" and to the surprise of both girls she leaned over and softly kissed Buffy on the cheek. Her voice became hesitant, "And B? Thanks, It may be your birthday but I feel like I got the present."
The next morning Faith was awakened by the alarm after what had been the best sleep of her life. The bed had been soft; the sheets clean and best of all the nightmares had been absent for the first time since her Watcher had died. Her mood was further lifted by the attitude of the Scoobies who were surprised but gratifyingly tolerant of her presence when the whole gang came over for the traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
As Willow brought a jug of lemonade over to the group sitting around the kitchen island, she was still incredulous and couldn't stop talking about the night before. "I can't believe Giles was fired. How could Giles get fired?"
Oz on the other hand got straight to the point, cutting his girlfriend off from a subject he could sense was starting to distress the older Slayer. "So, how did you manage to kill Kralik?"
Joyce smiled proudly, "Oh, she was very clever "
Buffy raised her eyebrows at her and Joyce surrendered the floor quickly, "Uh, you go ahead and tell it, dear. You tell it better."
Buffy sighed and opened her mouth to start but was interrupted again.
Willow just could not get past Giles' sacking. "Now, now when you say 'fired', do you mean 'fired'?"
"You're not cruising past that concept any time soon, are you Will?" cracked Xander bit wearily.
Willow blushed but continued "Well, it's just... I mean, he's been fired! He's, he's unemployed! He's... between jobs."
Buffy finally managed to get a word in, her temper not helped by the sight across the kitchen of Faith struggling not to fall laughing off her stool, "Giles isn't going anywhere, Will. He's still librarian, he's just not a Watcher anymore."
Sharp Slayer hearing caught a muttered "evil fuckers" that the dark Slayer tried to disguise as cough. But Faith looked back innocently as Buffy caught her eye.
Willow seemed satisfied by this, almost, "OK, but I'm writing an angry letter."
Buffy continued on pensively, "You know, nothing's really gonna change. The Council will just keep on doing stuff like this, just not to Faith and me" and she smiled at the other Slayer, "since we know it's coming. The important thing is that I kept up my special birthday tradition of gut-wrenching misery and horror."
Oz's reply was typically laconic, "Bright side to everything."
Buffy grabbed a new jar of peanut butter and tried to open it, then sighed "I'll just feel better when I get my strength back."
Xander reached over with an evil grin, "Give you a hand with that, little lady?"
He stood up and held out his hand to take it from her. Buffy handed it to him with a rueful grin of her own, "You're loving this far too much," she complained.
"Admit it." Xander replied smugly, as he struggled with the jar, "some times you just need a big strong man."
His smile faded and his flush deepened as his struggles with the jar for proved fruitless, then he tried to cover his embarrassment with a laughed request, "Uh, Faith, gimme a little Slayer help here?"
Faith's chuckle made the flush worse as did the insulting ease with which she opened the jar, but it was Buffy who blushed when Faith wickedly purred "Buffy doesn't need a man of any type when I'm around, do ya B?" Her bark of laughter broke the sudden increase in temperature on the room, but even though Buffy laughed with the others, her eyes held a question when they met those of her Slaying partner.
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