Xander leaned against the doorframe with his eyes cast down towards his feet. He could feel his insides wrenching as a jagged, searing pain settled at the base of his throat. He concentrated on keeping himself contained, knowing if he didn't, he would completely lose it right now.
Feeling somewhat settled he glanced up quickly to see if the situation had settled at all. His ears, after years of training when he grew up, had put the scene on mute, much like his television with the click of a button. The two Slayers, well, not the only two anymore, were in the room arguing emotionally about an assignment.
The Hellmouth had been destroyed but the tension between these two would last forever. The genius plan they had devised to aid them in destroying the First had worked brilliantly, but as with many spontaneous, crazy ideas, there was the mess they were now responsible for cleaning up. There were new Slayer's being called all of the time, and with the Council destroyed, there were a whole bunch of young girls being given powers they didn't know how to control along with terrifying nightmares and intense emotions they didn't understand.
Understandably, Buffy had wanted a bit of a break after their battle, but the break she was looking for was still a little ways off. The fight between the two Slayers was about Buffy's latest 'assignment' for Faith. The argument started initially when Buffy decided to tell Faith to do something. Anyone with a brain knew, that was never a smart idea. You ask Faith, you don't tell Faith. Xander, along with a couple other people in the room, knew a fight was about to erupt as soon as Buffy began speaking to Faith in her, 'I'm in charge, do what I say' tone. Faith had never been a fan of that tone coming from anybody.
But the real problem had come with the fact that Buffy had been assigning all of the 'problem' cases to Faith and taken the easy ones for herself. This didn't get by Faith. She had finally questioned Buffy on her 'assignment' choices, and when words started to fly with more than a little emotion thrown into them, Buffy slipped and told Faith she was giving her the problem cases because she was as fucked up as those girls were and would be able to get through to them better. If she had phrased what she said better, or at least checked her tone before she said it, Faith probably would've accepted it. But the bitter, caustic words were more than she could swallow, so the younger – but equally stubborn – Slayer yelled right back, and thus the fight ensued.
Xander hated yelling. He grew up in a house full of it and listening to it literally made him sick. He couldn't deal with it so as a defense mechanism he had developed an internal mute button. As he glanced up at the two Slayers, all he could see was them waving their arms around with vicious expressions. He didn't hear the harsh words being spit back and forth, he just saw their mouths still shaped like they were yelling.
He looked at Buffy and saw the exhaustion in her face and he felt pity for her. He knew she just wanted a break and that she hadn't gotten a single one. It was like she couldn't say two words without getting the backlash from them. He felt sorry for her, but at the same time he understood why people were reacting to her in such a hostile manner. The problem was that she needed to use more effort in approaching everyone, but she didn't have the energy left to do it, so the cycle of anger and frustration just continued. He could tell that she was screaming as loud as she could, and he could also tell that she just wanted to break down crying. She was screaming because she felt like Faith wasn't even hearing her and she hated not being able to get across to her.
Xander also looked over at Faith, who, in a weird way that he wasn't at all comfortable acknowledging, seemed comfortable when she was yelling like this. She was yelling angrily, but below the surface he could tell a part of her enjoyed it. She was venting and saying what she wanted to say, and no one could stop her. It was hard for him to think about Faith on too deep of a level though, because then he just got as frustrated as Buffy looked right now.
Faith knew Buffy was tired, she understood why she was acting the way she was acting, but that didn't mean that she was okay with it. Her theory was that the only way someone had the right to ask someone else to do something for them was if they had a full understanding of everything that person had on their plate. In order for them to impose something on them, they were responsible for knowing absolutely everything that was going on with the other person before they were allowed to add more to it. And in her opinion, Buffy didn't know shit about what was going on in her life, so she had no right to be dumping shit on her, just because she was tired. Fuck her! She was tired too! She was tired and she wasn't dumping her load of work on the other girls because she knew, EVERYBODY was burnt out!
Faith continued to fight with her knowing how it would end. She didn't like the end but it was the way every single one of their fights had ended recently. And then it happened – Buffy finally screamed her last scream before burning tears finally began to fall from her eyes, that she could barely keep open anymore. Faith yelled a final 'fuck you' as she threw her arms up in frustration as she quickly turned away from Buffy and left the room. Xander had to give Faith props on her acting – the first few times he witnessed it he was almost convinced that Faith was angry, but he knew she always walked out of the room because she hated seeing Buffy cry.
Xander allowed his hearing to un-mute as he sent Giles a customary nod. He stood up off of the doorframe and headed out to his car, which was headed directly to his small apartment so he could pack for the road trip he knew he would be taking with Faith early the next morning to complete the assignment.