Getting Your Life Back

Disclaimer: Joss is God. I own nothing.

Summary: Post S7. Buffy comes back to the States, having spent three years in Italy. What will she find, when she tries to catch up with her friends' lives?

Rating: M, just to be safe (language, implied violence, sexual situations)

A/N: This is a Fuffy story. Don't like, don't read.

Feedback: Always welcome!

PROLOGUE

The rain was pouring down heavily, banging of her car's front window. The blonde girl, looking pretty tired and cold, tightened her rollneck jumper around herself while shooting a disapproving look on the driver, a male with an eyepatch.

"New Hampshire? Why, oh why did it have to be New Hampshire?"

"Guess none of us wanted to go back to sunny California. Plus, Emma lived here for like ages."

"Oh, right. I've forgotten about you girlfriend."

"Am I sensing sarcasm here?"

Buffy smiled at Xander, who concentrated hard on driving and watching her with his only eye at the same time. It felt good to see him again, after having spent last three years in Italy, looking after Dawn, making out with a new partner, and getting her life back -- which didn't go as well as she had planned, actually. Well, enough of that, she told herself, smiling lightly: she was back, having placed Dawn safely in London with Giles, ready for doing some catching up with her friends' lives.

Which seemed to have changed a lot while she was away.

"This Emma of yours," she brought back their previous topic, "how did you guys meet? I mean, it's quite unusual to meet someone like her… even after…"

"I dropped into her on my first night in Boston," he replied flatly. "We talked, she told me she'd been a vengeance demon, I told myself no way I'm doing THAT again, took her phone number anyway, called the next day, moved into her place down here after four months. Satisfied?"

"Almost."

"What'd you mean by 'almost'? I'm opening my heart before you!"

"I still fail to understand how come Willow is staying with you two. As far as I know, vengeance demons can become obsessively jealous when it comes to their boyfriends."

Xander grinned, more to himself than to the blonde beside him, and swiftly turned right, already savioring the effect his next sentence would have upon her.

"Well, I figured she wouldn't oppose to my idea of bring her down to us, since she was the one who invited her and Faith in."

"Faith?! Am I audily impaired or something? Please tell me I am…"

"I can't. That would be lying."

"Faith lives with you? Or, as a matter of fact, with us? How come?"

Hearing the nerve rising in his friend's voice, Xander decided to take his time with explaining this particularly delicate topic. He pulled off the road, stopping at a shabby diner, and motioned Buffy to get off the car. They ran towards the diner, shook the rain off their hair and clothes, and finally, as the waitress brought the menus, Xander started to talk.

"Faith used to stick around with Willow and Kennedy when they came back and settled down in Boston. She knew the place, so she helped them a lot with stuff like finding an apartment, getting around without being beaten up by some gangs, that kind of stuff. And then, when Kennedy decided she wanted a family, she helped Willow with finding the right donor to become a father for her child."

Buffy almost suffocated with her coffee.

"She did what?!"

Xander watched her, not a muscle on his face moving.

"Willow got herself pregnant, and for a while life was pretty cool. Faith stuck around, I met Emma, Kennedy got herself a job as a martial arts coach. Then one day, when Willow was five months along, taking it all pretty bad and getting sick all the time, Kennedy met that girl, a Canadian learning kung-fu, and fell for her. They left to Vancouver, without a word of explanation for Willow."

Buffy slammed the table with a fist. "I'm going to kill the bitch if I ever see her again."

"Won't oppose to that, if you let me help you. Anyway, i was already living with Emma by that time, so Faith offered to stay around, watch over Willow for some time. She didn't move in or nothing, she'd simply come and do some groceries, bring a thing or two from the pharmacy, clean up a bit--"

"Clean up? Are we still talking about the same person?"

"You really have been away, Buff. Faith has changed, for better. I'm guessing taking care of Willow was one of the main issues there, and then those other things that happened--"

Buffy felt something extremely painful in her friend's voice, and blinked at him, feeling more and more nervous as Xander spoke in a shaky voice, so unlike him.

"Faith had a thing with someone, pretty scary guy, and decided to leave him, which he didn't like. He found her, even though she did her best to disappear, and beat her up one night, when she was on her way to get some medicines for Willow." A pause. Xander averts his gaze. "She was pregnant with him, eight weeks along. She lost her baby."

Buffy was speechless. For a moment she considered the possibility of Xander lying to her -- but no, he looked far too serious for that kind of thing. She tried to imagine Faith having a baby… and the baby being taken away fro her, even before she could actually see it.

"How did she take it?"

"She spent a good deal of time in a hospital, and you know how she loves that kind of places. Then Emma suggested inviting her and Willow to stay with us until things get quieter, so they moved over to our place. Willow was terribly devastated by all that; Faith was the person closest to her after Kennedy left, and now she hardly spoke a word. She'd go to the beach and stay there for hours, doing nothing, not even smoking, just looking at the sea. It really helped her when Willow had her baby; it's a girl, beautiful like her mother. Faith takes more care of Christine than any of us. Willow works with software stuff right now, she's busy all day long, and I think that somewhere deep inside she wishes for Chris to be Faith's, not hers, especially now that the reason for which she decided to have a baby in the first place is long gone to Canada…"

"I think I know what you mean." She closed her eyes for a moment, and opened them with a far more determined look on her face. "Right, I'm slowly catching up. Willow has a daughter, but spends more time with her computer than with her child. Kennedy's gone for good. You are dating a demon, who's nice enough to have your best friend, and your, er, former crush, live with you. And Faith… this gonna take some time to fit in, you know."

"I do. Know. And I understand it must seem to you like a freak show or something, but Buffy, don't judge us until you see what we have. It really seems like… Like we started to build a home. And I want you to be a part of it."

She didn't say anything for the next minute, reviewing all the information he gave her, doing her best not to start laughing like a crazy person. It all seemed so weird, so different from what she remembered -- and yet, she could understand the reasons that brought this group of people together, kept them together, bound them into a family of a kind.

She sighed, and stretched her arms before getting up from her chair.

"Well then, Xander," she said, smiling at her friend, uncertain, but determined to give it a shot. "Do you think you could squeeze me in for a couple of nights?"

He beamed at her, pulling her into a well-known bearhug. "Make it a fortnight, Buff. Welcome home."

TBC…