DISCLAIMER: I do not own Buffy: the Vampire Slayer, or any of its characters or storylines. It belongs to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy Productions, 20th Century Fox Television and/or related companies. I won't make any money with this story and no copyright infringement is intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story takes place about a year after season seven of "BtVS". The Scoobies have moved their new headquarter to Cleveland. It doesn't really bother with the comic books and their storyline. This story is a prequel to my other Buffy stories "Born to Run" and "Run for Love". This story does imply love between women and not just of the platonic kind.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To gxtw[at]gmx.de
Running into Each Other
The first time it was by accident.
Willow had been looking for a quiet spot to meditate and found a little clearing in the north end of the park. On this side, so many trees were growing, it almost seemed like she was in a forest. Whereas in reality, she was less than two hundred yards from the mansion on one side and less than fifty yards from the busy streets of one of Cleveland's suburbs on the other. Yet the clearing seemed deserted, just what she needed in moments like these. It was one of the days, where the darkness inside of her threatened to break free. The meditation techniques she had learned from the coven would help her, but they worked better when she was alone. It was easier to concentrate, less noise and less guilt. The guilt she always felt when she looked at her friends, the people who loved her and whom she had almost killed. Willow had been meditating for about ten minutes, when a voice broke her from her trance.
"Oh, sorry, didn't know there would be somebody. It was always empty before."
She looked up to see Faith in her running gear. It seemed she had almost stumbled over the witch. A sheen of sweat showed that she must have been exercising for quite a while already.
"Oh, you have been here before?"
"Yeah, I'm doing my rounds every day and usually stop here for some stretching. Nice pick up line, by the way, you're coming on to me?"
The redhead blushed.
"Oh, no, I'm just, you know, meditating, uhm, away from the others, other people you see."
"Ah, okay, then I will leave you to it."
Faith turned to leave, but Willow stopped her.
"Didn't you want to do your stretching?"
"That's okay; I can do them somewhere else."
"Oh, no, this was your spot first. You stay and I will go."
"So have you already finished meditating?"
"No, but I can find another place."
"I didn't want to drive you away. Today, you were here first."
"Well, neither do I want to drive you away. The clearing is big enough for two. Why don't you do your stretching, while I go back to meditating?"
Faith looked uncertain.
"But didn't you want to be away from people?"
"Don't worry, it's okay. You will not disturb me, I promise."
"Okay, if you are sure."
The slayer took a step aside and started her routine, while Willow got back into position. Moments later, she was back in trance mode. When she finished half an hour later, Faith had long since left. And to her slight surprise, Willow realized that what she had said was true. Having the dark slayer nearby had not disturbed her at all. But then, she considered, she did not feel guilty towards Faith, since she had not been one of Willow's victims. That had to be the difference. The redhead picked up her stuff and returned to the mansion.
The second time, she knew of the possibility. But she had decided that she would not mind.
The following day, Willow went again to the little clearing. Yesterday, meditating in this quiet place had really helped to calm her. Even having Faith so close by had not bothered her. After their little chat the slayer had been very quiet, keeping the peace of the place. So Willow decided that she would go there again. She only hoped that Faith would be okay with it as well, since she probably had chosen the hidden clearing for similar reasons. Since the fight with the First, the dark slayer had become a part of the team, but still was a bit of an outsider. Willow knew that Faith and Buffy were often training together and were slowly becoming friends again. She also knew that Faith sometimes played computer games with Xander and Andrew, but otherwise kept to herself. Yet she was always there, when there was work to do or a demon to slay. Willow had been meditating for a few minutes, when she heard the slayer.
"Oh, hi, so you are back."
The redhead opened her eyes.
"Hi. Yes, I hope you won't mind."
"Nah, it's five by five."
"Ok, cool." Willow smiled awkwardly. "So, why are you running here and not on our nice new training ground?"
The dark slayer looked hesitant for a moment, before she answered.
"I'm not just running for the exercise. It also helps to keep me balanced. I always had a certain violent streak, but it got worse after I killed Finch. I got some therapy, while I was in prison. It helped me to understand it and to develop my running routine. It kind of keeps me grounded, but it works better, if there are not so many people around me."
"I think, I understand. It's similar for me, when I feel the black magic inside. I prefer meditation over running, but I think it's for a similar purpose. The darkness will always be a part of me, I can't change that, but I have to make sure, that it will never again control me."
Faith nodded slowly.
"Yeah, that's it. I guess, you must have experienced it, to fully understand it, but you have, haven't you? I heard you went pretty dark there."
"Ending the world dark. If not for Xander, I would have destroyed the world."
"Well, I only tried to help somebody else destroying the world. I guess you were always more ambitious than me."
The slayer smirked and Willow had to laugh.
"Maybe. So was that an offer to help me next time?"
Now Faith had to laugh as well.
"Better not, Buffy would kick my ass."
"Don't worry. I kicked her ass as Dark Willow. Against the both of us she would have no chance."
Faith laughed even harder.
"Wow girl, you are definitely no longer the shy girl from High School. One of these days you have to tell me more about that fight, so that I can tease Buffy with it."
"Okay." Willow smiled a moment longer, but then looked more somber. "But Faith, the same is true for you. You have changed as well. And I like the new Faith I get to know now."
Faith looked at her in surprise.
"Uhm, thanks. To be honest, I like her better as well."
After a moment of silence she went on.
"But I should start my stretching now; otherwise the body will cool off too much."
Willow agreed and they both started their routines. When the redhead opened her eyes after her meditation, Faith had been gone.
It became a daily routine.
They would meet in the clearing, exchange a few words and then the slayer would finish her stretching, while Willow meditated. When the witch ended her trance, Faith was always gone. Only today it was different. When Willow came out of her trance, she felt eyes on her. She turned and saw Faith look at her. There was something odd about her, so she addressed her.
"Hey, everything okay?"
"Oh, yeah, sure. Just a bit thirsty. Would you mind, if I get a sip from your water?"
"Of course not, here."
Willow handed her the bottle. The slayer took a sip and gave it back. A droplet of water had dropped down and ran into her cleavage. The witch caught herself, following the droplet with her eyes. To distract herself, she spoke up.
"So, is it working out with the running? Does it help to calm you down?"
"Yeah, mostly. What about your meditations? Do those help?"
"Yes, they usually do."
"And if not, you could always try running." Faith said with a smirk.
"I'm not so much with the running, but I will keep it in mind."
"You do that. And thanks for the water."
"You are welcome."
Faith smiled and got up.
"Well, it's time to finish my round. See ya."
Willow stayed for a moment longer. She was confused. She had known Faith for years. She was slowly becoming friends with her. But suddenly, when she looked at her, it had hit her how beautiful the dark slayer was. Well, she rationalized, she is. Everybody would agree on that. Before, I was just too busy thinking of her as 'Faith the woman who held a knife to my throat'. And of course in the beginning she was a girl, when I was not thinking about girls in that way. So finally we are becoming friends, and I am getting over my old grudge, so now I can realize it, that she is attractive. It does not mean anything.
But subconsciously, her magical senses followed the dark slayer all the way to the mansion. And the next day, when they met again, Faith found a bottle of water on 'her' side of the clearing.
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