The girls had been waiting for nearly an hour while Giles was in talking with the Police Chief when Buffy got a call from Andrew.
Kennedy and Willow listened as she talked to him for a few minutes before hanging up, smiling. "Andrew has her on camera on the other side of town at the time of the murder."
"How?" Willow asked. "They have her on camera too, Buff." She didn't want her friend to get her hopes up too much.
"Will, we have the most sophisticated technology out there right now and you know it. Andrew spent a fortune on that stuff. He says he has her on one of the slayer cams on the other side of town. Who would you rather believe, the cops or Andrew?"
Giles emerged before Willow could answer and Buffy made a beeline for him to fill him in on the news Andrew had just given her.
"Buffy, I've seen their evidence. The footage is grainy at best, but it does appear to be Faith on the tape killing that man. I don't know what to tell you, I'm sorry," he told her gently, hating that he had to give her such bad news.
"Giles, I don't understand how it's possible that they have her on camera killing this guy and we have her on camera in the cemetery across town at the exact same time. Someone has to be wrong," Buffy told him with a deep frown.
Giles shook his head and removed his glasses, cleaning them quickly. "There must be some sort of explanation for what we're both seeing."
"We're all thinking the same thing, I don't understand why nobody's saying it," Kennedy told them firmly. Once everyone's eyes were trained on her she continued. "What if the First is back?"
"No," Buffy told her a little too forcefully. The First coming back was her worst nightmare, she refused to believe it.
"It can't be the First anyways," Willow told her gently. When Kennedy's betrayed eyes landed on her she held her hands up. "Faith never died."
Kennedy opened her mouth to retort, but her expression softened when she realized that the First not being back was really good news. Then she frowned again when she realized they still had no idea what was going on. "Well, it has to be something."
Giles sighed. "Willow, Kennedy, why don't you both go back to the Council and get everyone started on some research into what might be dong this. Buffy call Andrew and have him bring us his footage and anything else he might have to help prove Faith's innocence."
All the girls nodded and when the other two left Buffy looked up to Giles. "Can I see her?"
He placed a hand on her shoulder. "I'll see what I can do. You call Andrew and tell him to hurry up."
She smiled warmly and hugged him. She didn't know what she would do without him. Buffy moved to a more private corner of the station to make her call and when she returned to Giles he pointed at an officer standing nearby.
"You have five minutes," Giles told her softly.
She gave him a grateful smile and nodded. "Andrew said he'd be here in fifteen."
Buffy was led back through the station and into a small interrogation room where she saw Faith sitting at a table in the middle of the room. Faith stood up and moved towards Buffy quickly, Buffy pulling her into a warm comforting hug as soon as she was close enough.
"Faith, don't say a word about anything." She felt the younger girl stiffen. "They can see us and they can hear us, so just don't say a word." Faith instantly relaxed in her arms. She pulled back and they both took a seat at the table. "Andrew has you on a slayer cam on the other side of town that night right before midnight. Faith, we know you didn't do it. There's no way you could be on our camera and their camera across town."
Faith suddenly let out a breath and held her hands up to her face. Buffy watched as Faith began to sob under her hands. She moved closer and knelt in front of the other girl. "Faith, sweetie, what's wrong?"
Faith let her hands fall and she looked around, reminding Buffy that they were being watched. "I just want to go home."
Buffy knew, she knew by the look in her eyes, she knew by the tone of her voice, that there was much more to Faith's tears than wanting to go home, but she didn't say a word. She squeezed Faith's hand and turned when the officer opened the door. She gave Faith a reassuring smile and a quick kiss. "You'll be able to go soon. I promise."
Faith smiled at her, but nearly growled when she noticed the way the officer was looking at them both. She wanted to jump up and strangle him and her face must have deceived her because the officer looked spooked when he glanced at her.
Faith suddenly thought of something and leaned forward. "B, I saved a woman that night. She got attacked by a vamp getting into her car. Find her and I've got a solid alibi."
Buffy nodded excitedly and smiled. "Okay, I need details and we'll track her down."
Faith smiled gratefully and leaned forward as well to give as much detail as she could in the few short minutes they had together.
Faith stepped out of the building and rubbed her wrists. She hated handcuffs. She squinted in the bright morning sun and smiled as Buffy wrapped an arm around her waist and led her to the car.
"Your karma certainly seems to be coming back around for all the lives you've saved," Giles told her with a smile.
"Seriously," Kennedy agreed. "Not only do you save someone at the exact moment someone else is impersonating you murdering someone on the other side of town who can be your alibi, but you save the deputy mayor." She paused to be sure she got that one right. "That's one you don't hear every day."
"This one was a little on the strange side," Faith agreed with a wink to Buffy.
The blonde slayer smiled. "Good things happen to good people and you deserved this. You're a good person."
You'll watch everything around you burn. Faith swallowed the sudden anxiety that surfaced in her belly with the thought of those words and who they'd come from. She forced a smile and got into the back of the Council Van and remained quiet for the ride home.
She didn't realize the breath she'd been holding until she stepped through the doors of the common room and she let out a deep sigh. Everyone else filed in and went about normal day to day stuff and Faith just watched them with a mix of worry and more anxiety.
"I'm gonna grab a shower," she told the blonde slayer quietly.
Buffy nodded and watched her go silently. She turned slightly and noticed Kennedy watching her carefully from across the room. She gave the younger girl a smile, knowing she was concerned about Faith and she followed Faith into her bedroom.
She watched as Faith shed her jacket and her shirt and jeans. Faith moved into the bathroom and turned the shower on. Buffy waited until she had undressed fully and stepped into the shower before she shed her own clothes and joined the brunette in the shower.
"Didn't think I asked for company," Faith muttered quietly.
"I don't care," Buffy told her gently as she reached for the shampoo and began lathering the other girl's hair.
Faith allowed Buffy to wash her hair as she scrubbed the jail essence off of her skin. She hated how well she knew it. Her body was turned away from the other girl and she jumped slightly when she felt lips press into her bare shoulder. Buffy's hands suddenly snaked around her waist and the blonde girl pulled her impossibly close.
"Faith, I love you," Buffy whispered into her ear.
That was all it took for Faith to break down. Her tears started to fall and she turned in the blonde's arms and when Buffy pulled her close, she began to sob. Her entire body shook in Buffy's arms as she sobbed with fear and regret and hate and love. There were so many conflicting emotions running through her that she didn't know what or how to feel.
Buffy held the other girl close to her and stroked her hair and her back and did whatever she could to soothe Faith. When her sobs tapered off slightly, Faith pulled back and looked Buffy in the eye. "I'm sorry."
Buffy smiled and shook her head. "It's okay, babe." She reached around the brunette and turned the shower off and grabbed a towel and wrapped Faith in it. She grabbed another for herself and headed for her room to get dressed.
Minutes later she was back in Faith's room sitting on the windowsill as the brunette smoked a cigarette. Buffy just sat and waited for Faith to explain what had gone on.
The slayers were silent for a long stretch of minutes, but Buffy knew Faith would only talk when she was ready.
"I saw my mom in the cemetery Friday night," Faith finally mumbled. She looked up and met Buffy's eyes evenly. "I lied to you."
Buffy didn't care in that moment that Faith had lied, she just wanted to know why. She reached out to grasp the other girl's hand gently, silently urging her to continue.
Faith swallowed hard. "B, my mom is dead."
Buffy's eyes got wide. "What?"
"Yeah," Faith agreed. "That must be what my face looked like when I saw her." She shook her head. "So I tried to hit her, thinking our buddy the First is back, but she grabs my arm just as quick and I know mom was never that quick. Something weird is goin' on."
"What aren't you telling me?" Buffy asked.
Faith looked up and met her eyes. "She told me that if you and I stay together, I'm going to watch everything around me burn."
Buffy blinked several times and leaned back to process what she'd heard. "So you're going to listen to your dead mother that isn't dead but really is?"
Faith shook her head. "It shook me up, but I know it's someone just tryin' to mess with us."
Buffy smiled a little and leaned forward to capture Faith's lips in a gentle kiss. "Faith, I have a theory."
"Oh yeah?" Faith asked quietly, hope shimmering in her eyes.
Buffy nodded. "I think that the Powers need us to be together. I think it's our destiny. We're fated to be together like we are right now. After the fight with the First we were on shaky ground, but it was new, fresh ground and we were able to build off that. The Powers, I think, sent Cordelia back to help us along and get together for real. Now I think that the bad guys have figured out she's here to get us together and they're sending in forces of their own to try to break us up."
"That's a hell of a theory, B," Faith told her once she'd thought about what Buffy told her.
"Makes sense though, right?" Buffy asked.
"It does," Faith agreed.
Buffy leaned forward and cupped Faith's face in both her hands tenderly. "Faith, sweetie, forget every word that woman said. She wasn't your mother. She was someone just trying to get to you. To us. Please don't let her. We've worked so hard to get to this point."
Faith nodded and gave the other girl a smile. "I won't let anyone or anything come between us, B. I promise. I want forever with you."
Buffy grinned and leaned in for a tender kiss. "That's exactly what I needed to hear. And the feeling is entirely mutual."
Faith caught Buffy's eyes and it was in that moment that she realized her relationship with the other slayer was completely different than any relationship they'd had prior. Buffy trusted her and Buffy respected her and wanted her around. Buffy loved her and enjoyed her company and as simple as it sounded, Buffy wanted to be there for her. Her heart suddenly swelled in her chest and her eyes swam with tears.
"I love you so much, B," she told the blonde.
Buffy smiled tenderly and kissed her again. "I love you too, Faith."
Faith stood up slowly and grasped the blonde's hand and pulled her up from her seat. Faith reached down and pulled her own wifebeater up over her head and reached out and pulled Buffy's tank over her head. Buffy got the message and the two of them began undressing each other as they found the other's lips. Hands were suddenly everywhere in a rush of tender touches. Lips explored exposed skin slowly and carefully. The two tumbled into bed where they wrapped around each other and when their eyes locked, they both knew that night was about to change and solidify their relationship forever and they both knew they'd never be the same again.
The next morning Faith was sitting on the edge of the roof smoking a cigarette and enjoying her freedom. She heard the door creak open behind her and she turned enough to see Cordelia headed her way.
"What's up, C?" she asked once the other girl was close enough.
Cordelia leaned down and hugged the slayer from behind. "Are you okay?"
Faith turned herself around once the other girl released her and pulled her friend into a proper hug. "Yeah."
Cordelia looked her up and down and then met her eyes. "Are you sure?"
Faith nodded and sat back down. "I'm fine. Swear."
Cordelia smiled. "Good. I wanted to check on you last night but you and Buffy disappeared pretty quick."
"I had to shower," Faith explained. "I hate jail smell."
"Jail smell?" a voice teased from behind Cordelia. Kenned stepped into view from the doorway and smiled at the older slayer. "Jails have smells?"
"Trust me, it's better that you don't know," Faith told her.
Kennedy smiled and pulled Faith into a hug. "Glad you're okay. And free."
"You and me both, Kid," Faith told her.
"You are, right?" Kennedy asked. "Okay?"
"I'll be fine," Faith replied as her two friends took a seat on the swing. She met Cordelia's eyes. "So B told me we're fated. Destined."
"You are," Cordelia replied simply.
"You must be feeling pretty successful," Faith noted with a grin.
Cordelia nodded and smiled. "Today certainly feels different."
"For me too," Faith told her.
Kennedy and Cordelia exchanged a glance and both turned back to Faith. "Oh really?" Kennedy asked.
Faith shrugged. "I will say that today I feel like nothing can ever come between me and B."
"Wow," Cordelia mumbled. "Go me."
"And me," Kennedy added with a smile.
"Yay team 'you two'," Faith told them both flatly. "Glad it had nothing to do with me and B."
Cordelia rolled her eyes. "You were kind of a part of it."
"Puppets on a string?" Faith asked with a smile.
Cordelia shook her head. "Nah."
"Good to know, C," Faith told her.
Cordelia winked at her and gave her a genuine smile, grasping her hand lightly. "You're gonna be just fine, Faith."
The slayer smiled and nodded her head. "Thanks, C."
The three sat on the roof for a while longer and Faith reveled in the fact that she had an amazing girlfriend, and incredible friends. She finally felt like she had a family of her own.
A.N. More to come soon…please review and thanks for reading!