Strong Enough by Gina

Rating: R

Pairing: Willow/Faith

Copyright 2005

Disclaimer: I own nothing but enjoy trying to play with the characters a bit.

Feedback: yes please

Distribution: just ask

Summary: Is Willow strong enough to help Faith defeat her inner demons and find love? Can they form a bond strong enough to fend off life's daily issues?

A/N this story begins mid season three, set in the slayer verse though will focus more on life than fighting evil.

Chapter One

As the snow fell in Sunnydale, Faith meandered through the streets. She knew she should have taken Buffy up on her invitation to join her and Joyce for Christmas Eve but she couldn't. Faith knew almost from day one that she and Buffy wouldn't click. She did try to form some sort of bond with the blonde but had no luck thus far. The two slayers had nothing in common outside of their slaying gig. Buffy was a bubbly vibrant girl with a loving family and friends. While Faith was a hardened girl with no love, no family and a street savvy attitude to boot.

The fact that it was snowing in Sunnydale finally clicked in the dark slayer's mind as she literally ran into Willow. "Red, whatcha doin' out here?"

Willow had been home alone sulking over Oz when the snow started to fall. She had never seen such a spectacle, as she had not traveled outside Sunnydale. She was excited to be out in it though she was freezing having had nothing proper to dress in for such an occasion. "Nothing," Willow said as she looked anywhere but Faith's dark eyes, which had captivated her since she first saw them. Willow had an animosity towards Faith but knew Faith had a spark that drew most everyone in. Willow decided, soon after meeting Faith, that she would not be sucked in the allure that was Faith. On this night, for whatever the reason, her resolve had caved in. She chalked it up to being lonely on what was to be a festive holiday season.

Willow had been a very depressed girl since Oz called things off with her. Granted the blame for said split lie with her and Xander but Oz was unwilling to work on the relationship at this time. His lack of interest in fixing their relationship made her feel down and sad of late. "Are you cold?" Faith questioned in an uncharacteristically nice tone of voice as she watched Willow shiver.

"Yeah but this is neat," Willow replied as she slipped in the snow but Faith's quick reflexes stopped her fall.

"Yeah it's real neat," Faith smiled at the redhead in amusement of her antics.

"I figured you would be with Buffy for Christmas," Willow said having felt dejected by Buffy ever since Faith came to town. Buffy had paid more attention to the slayer and less to her friends. Willow felt Faith was horning in on a good thing but knew deep down it wasn't Faith's fault and Buffy was merely trying to make the girl feel welcome. Willow knew Buffy had failed miserably at being the welcome lady thus far, as Faith's emotionless features remained plastered on her face most of the time.

"Nah, slaying is about all me and B have in common." Faith said having noticed for sometime that there was a tension between herself and Willow. She thought it might have something to do with Willow's fear that Faith was taking her best friend away. Faith wanted to do what she could to assure Willow that wasn't the case by any means. "It's a complicated thing Red," Faith said as she took off her jacket and offered it to Willow.

Willow knew there was a lot of mystery to the dark slayer from the moment she met her. Faith was not a quiet person to say the least but not big on conversation of importance and didn't bother to tell the gang much about herself. Faith had an almost unreadable look in her eyes. At times, hints of hurt and anguish would appear within the standoffish stare of the slayer. Willow wondered why nobody, including herself, had really tried to get to know Faith. Why had they not tried to see the girl inside the facade of tough attitude and sexuality she exuded so well? "Um, it is really cold out here; would u like to come inside?" Willow pointed in the direction of her house as she spoke.

Faith pondered why Willow was inviting her in her home, the two had never really got along from the get go. "That's okay Red," Faith said with a shrug.

"Oh come on Faith," Willow beamed. "I have hot chocolate and you can smoke." The truth was, Willow didn't want to be alone and had enjoyed the brief conversation she'd just had with Faith. She thought that since they both were alone, it would be the sensible thing for Faith to join her. Possibly too, she could get to know the slayer a little better and maybe make a new friend.

Faith looked at the snow, which was piling up fast. "You got to experience something first," she pointed at Willow with a motion for her to remove the jacket. She then swept the girl up and dumped her in the biggest pile she could find. "Welcome to winter weather Red." Faith said with laughter in her voice.

Willow got to her feet wet and cold but with a smile on her face. "You're not so bad Faith," she said and managed to catch the slayer off guard long enough to trip her in the snow bank.

"Oh this is war Red," Faith said and dashed after Willow who had sprinted off towards her house.

Faith made a few snowballs as she chased Willow. Just as Willow thought she was free and clear of more snow attacks from the slayer, Faith pelted her with the snowballs. "I win!" She said triumphantly being glad her clothes didn't retain too much wetness from her dip in the snow.

-- - - - - -

The sun beamed brightly through Willow's window the next morning to indicate the snow had melted and the weather was back to normal. She stretched lazily and looked around the room. She recalled Faith coming in the house with her, getting warm and having a cup of hot chocolate. They'd watched a little TV and conducted very little conversation. Yet Willow didn't know where she'd gone off to as her bedroom door opened. "Hey Red," Faith smiled at the sleepy redhead. "I thought I'd fix ya breakfast in way of thanks for your hospitality last night."

"I hope you can cook better than Buffy," Willow said as she lazily pulled herself out of bed.

"Yeah I think I just might," Faith said as she checked Willow's small frame out. 'Not to bad for a computer geek.'

The two ate breakfast in mere silence but for a few words on how fast the weather had returned to normal. "I guess I better scoot on outta here," Faith said once the dishes had been finished.

"I don't have anything to do if you want to hang out and watch those old Christmas movies." Willow said in hopes Faith would accept her invitation. She felt rather upbeat since last night and knew if she were alone again, the glumness of her life would take over.

In all honesty, Faith didn't want to be alone either though wasn't about to admit it. She did wonder where Willow's parents were at this time of year and wondered if maybe she wasn't the only one with not such a good home life. "Yeah sure Red, but I need to go back to my room and grab a shower and some clothes." Faith pulled on her jacket as she spoke. "Want to come with?"

"No that's all right," Willow smiled up at the gorgeous brunette having known Faith was trying to assure her she'd be back. "I'll get things cleaned up around here and lay something out for dinner."

"Sounds good Red, cya around noon," Faith said and left the house.

- - - - - - - -

Faith had showered and relaxed a bit before she planned to head back over to Willow's. Faith never thought she would be spending her holidays with Willow but supposed it was better than being alone. She did enjoy her time spent with Willow, which was a bit of a shock to her. It would appear that she should have more in common with Buffy than Willow, but Faith now questioned that theory.

Faith wondered why the snow fell so hard last night as she stepped back out of her dingy room. She was certain it had something to do with slayer stuff and was not at all surprised that Buffy hadn't bothered to contact her to help with whatever the slayer stuff was. Faith was certain that Buffy saw her as nothing more than a back up rather than equal slayer. This bothered Faith at first but she was a pro at pushing bothersome thoughts somewhere in the depths of her mind until it all boiled up together and she exploded.

Faith's main reason for not displaying her feelings on how the gang treated her was the major crush she had on Buffy. She imagined anyone with a good set of eyes would be crushing on Buffy but had come to realize it was fruitless to harbor such feelings for the girl. Buffy was too caught up in Angel to see anyone else in that way, let alone another female.

Faith was used to not getting what she wanted in life which went totally against the persona she showed the world. Want, take, have was the persona she portrayed to everyone but that was the furthest from the truth. Faith wanted family, acceptance and to be loved like everyone else. Those things had always eluded her and she figured they always would. This is why she began the long process of building up her walls and vowed never to let anyone inside them completely.

Though she had a crush on Buffy, there was slight envy there also because Buffy did have it all. She had friends, family, love and a normal life; Faith never had those things before being called to slay. These were all things a slayer wasn't to have but somehow Buffy had them and that angered Faith if she pondered it to much. "That's the breaks slayer," Faith said aloud as she turned the corner in the direction of Willow's house.

"Faith," Buffy called out and the slayer quickly stopped. "I wanted to talk to you for a minute."

Buffy always put what she was doing aside when Faith wanted to hang out, to work out or slay and Faith did the same for Buffy. "What's up?"

"This thing called the first evil did a number on Angel last night and, well we got it all sorted out and everything but I was thinking that," Buffy smiled as she drifted back in thought of Angel again. "Well, he had a really rough time and tonight I'd like to go spend a couple days with him. After mom and I do the Christmas thingie, I will need someone to cover for me. I figured that maybe since you probably didn't have plans it'd be cool."

Faith's first instinct was to accept and do whatever Buffy needed of her. That had become the norm for the two slayers because, in the back of her mind, Faith hoped somehow that would help Buffy see her in a different light and if Buffy saw her differently, the others would too. "No thanks B, I have plans."

"Look Faith, this is really important," Buffy shrugged at her sister slayer. "I know you didn't come to the house last night because of pride but Angel needs me. He went through a rough time Faith and now is not the time for your pride to get in the way."

"B, the world doesn't revolve around you." Faith said a little disgusted at Buffy's line of thinking. "I have a life other than that of being your flunky! My job is not to make way for a vampire to be comforted but to kill them, maybe if you had realized that sooner, you wouldn't be in the mess you are in!" Faith stepped away from Buffy and took in a deep breath trying to calm herself down. "Angel might need you, but Red needs me, apparently I'm being the friend you've neglected to be lately." Having said that, Faith walked off feeling very proud of her actions.

-- - - - - -

It was 1:15 and Faith was late. Willow began to wonder if she was even coming and why she felt so let down. Her and Faith had never been that close but she felt as if she'd been let down by someone very important in her life. She decided to chalk it up to all the let down's in her life of late. "Oh well Rosenberg, another day alone won't kill you." Willow spoke aloud as she heard a knock at the door.

She raced to it certain Faith would be standing there and she was correct in her assumption. "Hey Red," Faith said with a smile upon her face and a certain air about her that Willow hadn't noticed that morning. "B held me up for a few," Faith continued as Willow took her jacket and hung it up on the coat rack.

"That's ok; did you have something to do?" Willow asked but hoped the answer was no.

"She wanted me to cover for her while she made some new memories with fang." Faith said as she sat next to Willow on the sofa. "Seems this thing made Angel crazy last night and B wanted to play girlfriend while I cover for her. She figured I had nothing better to do but I told her otherwise."

Willow didn't understand why something inside her leapt with joy when Faith informed her that she had chose spending time with her over doing something for Buffy. "Well if you need to patrol or something tonight, I could tag along." Willow offered in a small voice.

"If I patrol tonight it will be because that's my job, not because I'm covering for B." Faith stated to clarify the situation.

The words Faith spoke told Willow volumes about the slayer. She understood now that Faith had to be a little bitter at how things had transpired. After all, Faith was the chosen one now yet everyone acted like Buffy was a saint and Faith nothing more then a second-rate slayer. Willow wondered what else in Faith's life made her so defensive and down right cold at times.

-- - - - -

After watching a movie and dinner, the girls headed out on patrol. Faith was reluctant about going but Willow urged her that Buffy would probably do her Angel thing anyhow. Faith figured someone should do the job and decided she may as well in the event that Willow was right.

A vampire with two swords dove out and grabbed hold of Willow. Faith quickly did a backwards flip and landed both boots to his chest as she too hit the ground. She got to her feet just a little faster than the vampire and dusted him after a short round of punches. "You all right Red?" Faith said as she felt the adrenaline pulsating through her veins. 'Damn it, one kill is never enough!'

Willow shook her head and allowed Faith to help her stand. She had been watching the slayer fight with great interest. Willow noticed how different Faith's fighting technique was from that of Buffy, her toned muscles and raw energy. Then she began to freak at the fact that she noticed Faith's small but muscular frame as she fought the monster. "I'm all right," Willow murmured as she leaned against the slayer to regain her balance.

"Faith!" Buffy's voice interrupted the moment that Willow didn't really understand but knew it was a moment.

"Cantcha see we're a little busy here B?" Faith raised her eyebrows at the blonde slayer who returned the look.

"What the hell are you doing? Willow could have been hurt and," Willow felt Faith tense up real fast. Something inside her told her she needed to act quickly, as she moved away from the now angered slayer.

"Buffy stop it! I go on patrol with you all the time, or used to until," Willow dropped her head having realized she was making things worse. "Buffy I," Willow looked back over at Faith who, surprisingly, was smirking.

"Don't give Fang another happy moment B," Faith turned and walked off.

"Will I'm sorry, I freaked." Buffy gestured at the redhead who was contemplating going after Faith.

"It's all right, we need to," Willow looked down for the swords and found they had disappeared. "Well we need to check in with Giles tomorrow," with that, she turned and raced after the dark slayer.

Buffy stood replaying the strange scene in her mind. She knew from the vibe Faith had given off, not enough kill meant she was going to find a one nighter. She also saw how Willow reacted towards the slayer then her mouth opened wide. She felt a pang of something go through her at this realization but was uncertain as to what it was.