Season 3- "Homecoming"

An alternate version.

Buffy glanced happily down at her expensive red dress and matching shoes.

Good enough? She asked herself, and then wondered, for whom?

The limousine pulled up, Buffy waved goodbye to her mother, and walked over to the car, opening the door and sliding in. Faith grinned at her, already inside. "Hey B."

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Xander, Cordelia, Willow and Oz entered the dance together, Oz peeling off immediately and heading for the stage where 'Dingo's Ate My Baby' was setting up. Willow watched him go with a smile and turned back to Xander and Cordelia- the Homecoming Queen nominee still complaining about the transport.

"I don't see why the slayers get to ride in a limo whilst I'm stuck in a van." She said, putting an extra ounce of venom in her words as she said 'van'.

"Cordy, don't worry, no-one saw how you arrived, they were all already inside." Xander said placating, and then winced, seeing his mistake.

"No-One saw me arrive?! And why do I even go to these things?!" she screeched.

Xander shook his head helplessly and watched his girlfriend walk away, full of indignant grace, only to dazzle the next person she met with a thousand watt smile.

Giles came to his side in the crowd, dressed in his normal suit.

"We must find Buffy, something terrible has happened!"

The Watcher smiled. "Just kidding. Thought I'd give you a bit of a scare."

"When are they getting here anyway?" Xander asked, choosing to ignore Giles' attempt at humour. Giles shrugged silently. "They're late." Willow commented, eyes on Oz.

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"Nice look B. Very, vixen. Ready to get some, get gone." Faith laughed.

Buffy looked the other girl up and down. Her black dress and beautifully done hair made her look so different. Pretty, but younger. Like a girl dressed in clothes too old for her. Buffy frowned, trying to work it out. She was fairly certain Faith was a year younger than herself, though she seemed in many ways older and harder. Now, smiling, exclaiming over the interior of the limousine, Buffy wondered if she was seeing Faith relaxed, or Faith happy, and if they were indeed one and the same. The other slayer noticed her frown at last and stopped smiling. She's so pretty when she smiles…hey, stop that.

"What's up B?"

"Sorry." Buffy said automatically, "I was just thinking."

"About fang boy or Scott Hope?"

"Neither." Buffy shook her head and smiled. "Nothing important. This is going to be fun, hey?" she changed the subject clumsily.

Faith rolled her eyes and let out a scornful laugh. "Assuming that you become Queen, of course."

Buffy blushed and laughed embarrassedly as Faith continued to tease her. After a few minutes conversation tapered off.

"Shouldn't we be there by now?" Faith asked at last, glancing out the tinted windows. Trees, grass, wooden fence. "This ain't it- unless maybe it's a barn dance not a formal?"

The girls slide out of the car on opposite sides.

Buffy glanced around, and spotted something weird. A TV and VCR perched on top of a rock.

"What's massively wrong with this picture?"

She and Faith approached it carefully, and, obeying the sign, pressed play.

"Hello, ladies. Welcome to SlayerFest '98."

Buffy and Faith stared at the monitor in disbelief.

"What is a SlayerFest, you ask? Well, as in most of life, there's the hunters and the hunted. Can you guess where you two fall? From the beginning of this tape, you have exactly thirty seconds- no, that's seventeen now--to run for your lives."

Faith scowls, lines the monitor up.

"Faith…Buffy…"

she unleashed a roundhouse kick that sent the TV flying backwards, shattering in a million pieces- not quick enough however to drown out its final message.

"Have a nice death."

She flies from a blinding light

And spirals to my heart

I try to find my mind to go

Don't know where to start

Won't ever, can't ever find my sanity

Won't ever...can't ever till I hear her calling for me

She knows that, she knows that

She knows that side of me

I can't help it, can't help it

Willow swayed to the music, a dreamy smile on her face. "Oz wrote that song for me." she admitted to Xander, who stood by, eating a sandwich and watching his girlfriend mingle.

"I think Cordelia is probably up to her 'dating Xander is like doing community service speech."

He said, obviously not listening.

Behind the two of them, Scott Hope danced with a tall girl with brown hair. He caught Willow's eyes for a moment and looked away, embarrassed.

Just a little more, just a little more

Just until I know what I'm feeling

Just a little more, Just a little more

To find my sanity

She knows that side is calling back for me

I've lost my mind / I never believe

She knows that side is calling back for me

I lost my mind 'till she's calling for me

"Faith!" Buffy crashed through trees and bushes.

"Yeah?" by her side, appearing from nowhere, ever annoying, but surprisingly immaculate, Faith.

"What are we going to do?"

Faith stopped dead. "Trap." She announced, and Buffy drew back her foot with lightening speed. The bear trap snapped together with a loud metallic click.

Buffy shook her head. "That woulda hurt. Thanks."

"No worries. So you think this is it? Our new friends' gunna stick us with traps, shoot at us and," she paused, pointed, and laughed, "stick nets up trees?"

The two girls dived to the ground as more gunfire sounded, and as they rose, heading off at a run, Buffy grunted "I think guns are all they need."

The abandoned house they found was boarded up. Faith smashed a window, and the girls crawled in, replacing the glass with an old chair. Buffy looked around. An almost empty room, the corners thick with dust and cobwebs.

She moved to the other side of the room, and glanced in an open doorway. Another room, with nothing in it but an ancient phone, a wardrobe, and a sizeable collection of dust bunnies. Her eyes passed over a phone, and a spatula with incomprehension and she turned back to the other slayer.

Faith was peering intently out of a crack in the walls. "Nothing. No movement." She reported, turning around.

"What?" Buffy asked, as Faith gave her an odd look.

"You've got dust all over your dress." Faith said neutrally.

"Ah!" Buffy swiped frantically at herself. "I spent a years allowance on this dress!" she explained to Faith somewhat incoherently. "Stupid evil Sunnydale."

"This sucks." The brunette said loudly. "I can't believe we ran from those jerks.

"Guns, Faith."

"So? We've got crossbows and stuff, vampires still come for us."

"Well I don't want to fight- I've got a dress on and I'm wearing heels." Buffy pouted.

Faith looked down at herself. "I know what you mean. I'm not exactly fully mobile myself."

So saying, Faith kicked off her shoes and went to the other room. Buffy heard some movement, some grunting, and the creak of a door opening. Faith appeared in the room again.

"Hey look, old timey clothes."

She held a bundle of what looked like rags, and then shook them out.

"I am not wrecking my dress, and I am not dragging those freaks to high school with us so…"

And Faith, without a hint of embarrassment, removed her dress. Buffy turned away quickly, blushing.

"Can I turn around yet?" she asked after a pause.

"I didn't say you had to turn away." Faith teased. Tentatively, Buffy turned, and breathed a sigh of relief to see the other girl mostly clothed.

Sure, the shirt was far too big for the petite girl, the neck hole revealing her black bra straps, and the skirt dropped to the ground- until Faith ripped the bottom foot or so off, revealing a fair bit of thigh, but it wasn't any worse than most of Faith's outfits. Not that I mind the way Faith dresses…

"Feel free to stay inside, play the woman that goes with my outfit. I'll kill 'em."

"Some of them are human," Buffy cautioned.

Faith rolled her eyes. "Thanks for the warning, mum."

"And I'm not staying in here while you fight. Give me a sec."

When Faith showed no signs of turning away, Buffy shyly entered the other room.

Naturally, when Buffy came out, instead of looking interestingly alternative, she looked like a milkmaid in a smock.

Faith snorted with laughter, but refrained from commenting.

The rattling, piercing noise of gunfire rocked the little house, and Buffy and Faith carefully placed their dresses over a chair, Buffy wiping it clean first.

"Now, we have some fun." She announced.

"Now we hunt." Faith agreed.

Slayer senses, slayer reflexes meant the first hunter to be hunted was dispatched in absolute silence. Dressed in dark colours, the man with the rifle was dispatched with ease. Buffy took his rifle and Faith knocked him on the head with one of his own traps.

"You know, if you hadn't knocked him out, we could have asked him how many of them there were."

"Shut up B."

The sound of a demonic roar brought both of them back to full alert, circling, back to back, the girls waited. "I am Kulak, of the Miquot Clan."

The demon burst from the trees in front of Buffy, his scaled, orange skin and spiny head outlining him against the scenery.

"I'm Buffy, nice to meet you." the slayer introduced herself.

Kulak paused, confused. "Aargh!" he yelled.

Faith rolled her eyes.

"I'm Faith; I'll just be killing you now." She said disgustedly, mocking Buffy's bright tone.

Then, before either Buffy or demon had a chance to react, she launched an attack, crushing her feet into the demon. She followed it with a quick blow to his chin, and danced back out of reach. Buffy joined her, and they fought on either side, raining blows on the demon. He hadn't signed up for SlayerFest to be killed, and, ignoring the blows, landed a punch to Buffy's face. She blinked, dazed, and realised she couldn't see him anymore. Behind her, Faith scanned the area.

Buffy stopped, listening for movement. The whisper of a footstep to her left. She turned, lashed out blindly, felt her fist connect with muscled flesh and heard a soft grunt. From the other side, Faith launched a similar attack. Then…

"Buffy duck!" as a shotgun blast smashed the silence, and echoed through the trees; Faith pushed Buffy down to the ground. The demon groaned once and died.

A southern accent said mournfully "dang."

Buffy leapt to her feet, not sparing the demon a second glance and started after the voice. "Stupid vampires."

After a few steps, she noticed she'd lost her shadow, and turned around. The younger girl lay still on the ground. Very still.

"Faith? Faith?"

Buffy thought she might be sick.

Not Faith. No. Like Kendra. No.

Buffy knelt beside the other girl, placed a shaking hand on her shoulder. "Please…" she whispered.

Faith opened her eyes. "What are you doing?"

Buffy jumped. "Oh my god. You're okay? I thought you were…"

"Please. I hit my head making sure you got your slow self out of the way." Faith explained, standing up.

Carefully, she stretched out all her limbs, shook her head rapidly, and looked at Buffy.

"I think that's two down, how many more to go you reckon?"

"Four. But ze odds of ze two off you surviving- vell, ve are the best."

Buffy and Faith glanced around, confused. "Slayer hearing is not really living up to its reputation." Buffy said frustrated. "Where do these guys keep coming from?"

"Speakers." Faith pointed at the little black boxes hanging from the trees in front of them. "This isn't funny!" Buffy cried. "I have a dance to get to!"

"Tell 'em B. they're probably sympathetic to pleas like that." Faith drawled.

The metallic noise they heard next was faint, and yet it sparked concern in both girls. It rattled and lasted for a second or two, but it sent both sprinting away not really knowing why. The explosion that came from behind sped them up. "Grenades, machine guns, bear traps, what happened to good old fashioned stakes and crossbows?" Buffy complained as they ran.

"We're not vampires B." Faith pointed out, stoppling abruptly.

"And neither are they." She whispered, pointing. Back to back, silent, deadly, the two men scanned the trees just as intently as the slayers. A faint noise drifted towards the girls.

"They've got headpieces, someone is giving them instructions." Buffy whispered.

"Maybe it is time we got back to the school." Faith suggested. "G-man can help, 'cause after all, we can't kill these guys."

"But we need them to follow us." Buffy protested.

Faith grinned, "Not a problem. Go!" as Buffy took off in the direction off the abandoned house, Faith let out a loud cry that had both commando types whipping around so fast they nearly shot each other. Faith waved at them, and as the men took aim, took off after Buffy.

They reached the house ahead of their pursuers, and only stopping to grab their stuff, kept going, heading towards Sunnydale High. The two mile run took them only a few minutes, and they skidded down the hallways of the school together.

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Giles wondered if anyone would notice if he slipped away to the library. He stood, glanced around, and was promptly ambushed by another plate of finger sandwiches. Curried egg. A classic.

Engrossed in his sandwich, he never guessed at what he was missing.

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Faith had been convinced at last that fighting two men armed with machine guns and hand grenades was a bad idea and was happy to watch as Buffy arranged it so the men took each other out. She and Buffy then killed the Gorch couple, watching as they dissolved into dust.

"Is this what you always go through to get a night out?" Faith asked ironically.

Buffy rolled her eyes, and then looked down at herself. In the harsh light of day, milkmaid wearing a smock might have been too kind a description for her outfit. She winced, and could only pout helplessly as Faith laughed. "I'm not much better, really." Faith soothed her, still grinning.

"We have a dance to get to!" Buffy exclaimed, rushing to a mirror in Giles' office. She took careful stock of herself, and smiled. Quickly shrugging into her dress, and checking it for damage, Buffy was relieved to see it was fine. She reentered the main room of the library to see Faith, also fully gowned and ready. Buffy swallowed hard. Suddenly, she felt funny. Like a bad case of nerves mixed with an adrenalin rush. The girls appraised one another.

"At least I don't have a date that I've kept waiting." Said Buffy nervously, anything to break the silence.

Faith flinched and turned away. "Yeah, that's good." She said bitterly. "I wish…"

"What?"

"Nothing."

"No, what?"

"It's nothing."

"Seems a bit silly to be shy after we spent the whole evening together fighting for our lives." Buffy said, straining to sound normal.

Fighting to keep you with me. Stay with me. Give me that chance to figure out what it means that when I thought you were dead my heart stopped, tore inside of me like when I stabbed Angel.

"And to preserve dirt free dresses." Faith teased.

"So, spill." Buffy said, refusing to be diverted.

"Well, I did ask you to Homecoming for two reasons."

"Yeah?"

"I've never been to a school thing, and since I'm technically not enrolled, I didn't want to get chucked out." Faith laughed, but it was hollow sounding to Buffy's ears. She looked curiously at the younger girl.

"Never been? Not even back in Boston?"

"B, I dropped out of school in ninth grade, when I was still a nothing. Then I became the slayer and all this school shit just became even less relevant."

Buffy nodded understandingly. "God knows I've felt like that."

"And the other reason?" she asked.

Faith grinned. "I asked you to Homecoming and get a limousine and you can't guess why?"

Buffy, who had been smiling and waiting for another flip answer, laughed. Then she stopped. She looked up from the floor at the other slayer sitting across from her. Faith was still grinning, although a hint of anxiety clouded her brow.

"You mean…?" Buffy trailed off, suddenly unable to say it. Her heart pounded loudly in her ears. Faith stopped smiling. "I mean." She confirmed.

Buffy swallowed hard and blushed. "Wow." She said quietly.

This is too fast. I don't want to find out that what I think is wrong.

Faith raised a frustrated hand to her face and stopped. "Don't want to ruin the fabulous do." She said awkwardly.

"Anyway, we should go. The dance and all." She continued, hands fluttering at her side. Buffy glanced down at them, watched Faith's hands twist and shake and realised with an almost physical jolt that the other girl was nervous, even afraid.

Buffy reached out and took one of her hands. "Wait." She said softly.

So Faith stopped, but now that she had her, Buffy didn't know what to say. Faith disengaged their hands impatiently. "It wasn't a marriage proposal B, this isn't a big deal." She said angrily.

Buffy took her hand again. "Not even if I want it to be?"

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Xander and Cordelia were sipping punch on the sidelines, Willow was watching Oz' band play and Giles hovered near the refreshments.

As the song came to an end, Willow clapped enthusiastically, and Oz came down from the stage, walking over to the witch. A slow song started. Giles retreated further from the floor as Xander, Cordelia, Oz and Willow made for the floor. Xander carefully placed his arms around his girlfriend's neck, and she smiled at him, quickly fixing the collar of his tux.

For a moment, Xander closed his eyes and wondered if he'd ever been this happy before.

Cordelia's voice intruded on the moment.

"Oh my god. Buffy Summers has found a way to be even more unpopular that she was before." Xander opened his eyes.

Buffy, beautiful, sexy, and slightly windswept in her red dress, made her way onto the dance floor. She waved hello to her friends, and to Giles, and as the slow song got a little louder, held out her hand to her date. Her date whose hair was piled up on her head, whose black dress clung in all the right places.

Through wide eyes, Xander and Willow watched over the shoulders of their respective partners, as Buffy and Faith danced together, hands clasped and eyes on each other.

Faith dropped a wink at wide eyed Willow, who blushed and looked away.

"So," Buffy said conversationally, "Lame as you thought it would be?"

"Possibly lamer." Faith replied, and smiled, "But I can fix that."

Thought and action being as one with the girl from Boston, she pulled her partner close, and kissed her enthusiastically.

Monosyllabic Oz coughed loudly, and at Willow's concerned look said, "I think it'd be best if you didn't look."

Willow nodded in agreement, but couldn't help but sneak another peek, just in time to see Buffy pull away, laugh, and kiss her back.