Title: Purple Rain (The Story Formerly Known As "That Night")
Summary: Set in BtVS Season 3. Can changing one pivotal event be the beginning of something entirely unexpected? Or will things still turn out the same?
Pairing: A slayer and a Witch (OR - two people much more similar than expected)
Rating: PG-13 to R
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters in this story, nor do I own any rights to the television show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer". They were created by Joss Whedon and belong to him, Mutant Enemy, Sandollar Television, Kuzui Enterprises, 20th Century Fox Television and the WB Network. Parts of the story line and dialogue taken from the episode "Earshot". No copyright infringement intended!
Dedication: To the Buffyverse-characters and the people behind them (actors and writers)
Author's notes: I'm so terribly sorry for not updating in such a long time. But here we are again. "It's alive!" ;) I hope the next update will be quicker... Anyway, a merry Christmas, guys! Thank you so much for your awesome reviews. And also thanks to everyone favoriting this story! :)
CHAPTER FIFTY-SIX - WE OKAY NOW...?
For several moments, silence hang in the small library office. It was a comfortable silence, however, which had been preceded by a hesitant, yet open talk about the recent developments.
Giles had begun, knowing that Willow wanted to know how he knew about her relationship to the dark slayer and also aware of the fact that it would be easier for his protegee, if he initiated the conversation.
Cautiously, and not without some stuttering, he had started to convey his support for Willow's new love, but had also explained about his initial shock about seeing the two girls together.
'Seeing together' could be taken quite literally in Giles' case, as Willow learned, when the librarian finally confided in her, how exactly he had come to know about the redhead being involved with the slayer - a couple of weeks back, when he had searched his library stacks for the redhead and had at last found her... in the brunette slayer's gentle embrace and with this one's lips nibbling on her neck.
He hadn't portraying any of those details, however, and had settled for some brief outlining of the scene so that Willow got an idea, which exact event he was referring to. Neither had he mentioned an incident preceding this event in the stacks - a time when he had overheard the couple's conversation about possible make-out-spots.
Giles had felt that hearing his 'censored' version would be probably upsetting enough for the redhead as it was, and he had wanted to keep their conversation as light as possible under the given circumstances.
From what he could tell, Willow had seemed grateful for that, yet the girl had needed a few moments of silence to digest the information she had just gotten – and he had granted it to her gladly.
To his surprise, it had then been Willow who had intrusted in him on her own free will how she and Faith had gotten together about a month ago, of course editing out all the all too intimate details – after all she didn't want to scare him away now that their conversation about this seemed to be going so smoothly.
Still she hadn't failed to talk about the big drama that had followed their first night together. About Faith leaving her to wake up alone in the girl's lonely little motel room. About Faith trying to avoid her the following days and about her getting more desperate about this with every 'accidental' and, on Faith's part, unwanted meeting - a desperation, which, thinking back to it, Giles clearly had noticed, but had decided against speaking about to Willow - until she had been finally able to confront and talk to her... an undertaking, which itself could hardly be described as successful. What with Faith trying her best to crush Willow completely, to make her leave and never spare a single look at her again.
But the redhead had seen through this ploy, had felt that Faith's mouth and Faith's heart were speaking two entirely different volumes. And so she had left, but not without hoping that things would work out eventually. Which they had... certainly also thanks to a Willowy-Vamp-Doppelgänger confusion...
Until this day Willow didn't know the brunette's reason for suddenly breaking up with her and she didn't want to think about it any more - that half-week of their relationship still too upsetting for her. Giles, however, had gotten all ears, when Willow had mentioned Faith's strange behavior after their night spent together. He knew that the younger slayer could be pretty impulsive; however, he also knew that she deeply cared for the redhead – he had observed her behavior towards the other girl and had no reason to doubt her intentions and her love for the redhead. And he was sure that it had been like that from their first night on.
Thus he had wondered if there had been more to this discrepancy in their relationship history. Maybe if things had cooled down somewhat, he would ask Faith about it. To make sure there weren't any other reasons than just plain... well, unpredictability...?
After talking about this low-point in their relationship, Willow's mood had become noticeably lighter. Her nervousness about having The Talk with her father figure almost being gone completely by now even made it possible for her to speak to him about some little aspects of their relationship – as for example how it felt living with Faith or how Faith had given her one of the most thoughtful gifts she's ever gotten.
Uh... no, not Gilbert, the frog. She had by now made her peace with him, but there was still one thing she liked more.
Over the course of the conversation, Giles had noticed Willow's hand moving over the amulet that she wore on a necklace every day now, had noticed her thumb caressing it gently, and hadn't been surprised when she finally talked about this little item and officially told him that Faith had gotten it for her and that it was meant to keep her safe. Of course, Giles had known this already, had overheard Willow talking to Buffy about it.
He decided against mentioning that he had given Faith the money for the gifts, feeling that there was no need to do that. But it pleased him to see that Willow held the little token of affection – which conveniently was also a well-thought-of token of protection – so dearly.
Finally he was the one that broke the content silence that had settled in between them in the last few seconds, seeing as how obviously in love the two teenagers were once again feeling the need to show his encouragement. "As I said, Willow," he resumed gently, you have my support in this situation. I know things may not always be easy, and Buffy and Xander might need some time to fully comprehend your relationship, but I promise you, things are going to be fine," he gave her an soft smile, which she, after a brief moment of hesitation – undoubtedly thinking about her friends –, returned. "You love her clearly, and from what I have seen, she certainly feels this love equally as much. Together you will get through any rough times that might come. And I said this to Faith before... if you need anything, an advice or maybe financial help, I'm here for you".
Willow was grateful for his words and gladly accepted his offer with a nod of her head, tears of relief threatening to spill making it temporarily hard for her to also express her gratitude verbally.
Playing Giles' words over in her head, she noticed something. He had told Faith this before. Before... he knew about them or after? Not that it was that important, though part of her was certainly curious. But somehow it only now made her fully realize for how long the watcher had known about their relationship already. "But... But why didn't you say anything sooner?" she asked, mildly serious.
Giles almost raised his eyebrows at her question; after all, they should have been the ones telling, but he just replied, "I think my reasons weren't much different from yours." He adjusted his glasses, before he continued his explanation, "I was afraid. I didn't want to scare you".
That Willow could understand. There had been only one person, who had asked them if they were involved. Ironically it was Giles' female counterpart – the woman, who in some way played the role of a surrogate mother in Faith and her life. Joyce. She certainly had needed time as well to observe the situation first, hadn't jumped in right away and asked them. Afraid of hurting them with any all too probing behavior. Maybe Giles would have just needed a little more time; though she agreed with his little raised-eyebrow-look, which she knew how to read.
But now all that didn't matter anymore. They were out and Giles and Joyce supported them. And Willow trusted her 'parents' enough to accept their words of encouragement and the assurance that their friends would eventually be okay with their relationship as well.
She remembered how Joyce' confrontation and their eventual confession had resulted in a group hug with Faith also involved. Faith, it seemed, still wasn't here... which somewhat concerned Willow – part of her wondered what would happen, if Faith ran into Xander or Cordelia or even worse mind-reading Buffy without knowing that they, well, knew by now. Still the redhead felt the need to give the librarian a hug.
But just when she was about to near him, Percy came stumbling in, confusion and worry written on his face. The confusion, clearly caused by Faith making him go in here to get Giles, doubled quickly when his eyes fell on Willow. He wondered what the redhead was doing in the librarian's office... which wasn't usually a place to find students in. If he didn't know any better, he'd say Willow and Faith and the others had some other connection than just the plain student-librarian one. Which would explain why Faith had made him go and look for Giles.
Giles' confusion equaled his. He had hardly seen the young man in the library, certainly not in his office. Maybe he and Willow had a tutoring session scheduled that would explain his presence. But a quick glance in the redhead's direction told him that she was equally surprised to see him here.
"Hey, uh, hi," he started, recovering somewhat, "Faith, uh, made me come get you," he said in Giles' direction, though his eyes for a second flitted over to Willow again, who upon hearing her girlfriend's name immediately perked up. "I think there's something wrong with Buffy. I went to the cafeteria to get some lunch and noticed this big tumult there. And then I saw Buffy lying on the ground."
"Good Lord," Giles exclaimed and immediately made a move to get up. His recent discoveries gave him good reason to be all the more worried about any changes in the blonde slayer. A possible collapse could mean that the voices in her head had already started to become stronger.
Willow followed suit, suddenly very concerned for her best friend, "What happened?" And also wondering how Faith was involved in this, since Percy had mentioned her. Her worry about unsuspecting Faith running into Buffy … mind-reading Buffy... returned immediately; it seemed most likely now. But she knew that she should save her fear for later – right now the priority was making sure that Buffy was okay.
"I don't really know," the young man confessed. "Maybe she collapsed or something. But Faith was there, and she carried her out into the yard," he pointed into the direction the slayer had taken. "I offered to take Buffy for her, but she didn't let me," he shrugged mildly with a small grin, trying to lighten the mood, though the strength of the brunette still surprised him.
"Well, thank you, uh, Percy," the librarian nodded, already moving out of the office, his priority clearly checking on Buffy.
"Don't you wanna call an ambulance or something?" Percy asked a probably not too unusual question. For other people... normal people... that might be one plausible reaction to seeing someone collapse for no visible reason.
"Uh...not just yet," Willow jumped in, now moving towards the exit as well, motioning for Percy to come with. "We want to check on her first. Maybe she'll feel better in a few minutes." At least I hope so...
Faith's hopes equaled her girlfriend's. After she had laid the blonde on the ground, she had pulled off her jacket and put it under this one's head to make her more comfortable. On normal days, the blonde would most likely kick her ass to Timbuktu, if she woke up, found herself lying on mother earth's mucky surface and learned that Faith had put her there.
But today wasn't a normal day; today she'd... hopefully... wake up, give her a weird look, a look caused by recent revelations and then explain what had just happened to her in the cafeteria.
Yeah... that's probably how it would go down in a short while. Still Faith was considerate enough to try and not mess up Buffy's hair. Maybe part of her was hoping that the blonde's gratefulness for that would temporarily take her mind off her and Willow; but a bigger part had actually done it to busy herself.
She knew that she didn't have to wait long for Giles to appear – and that made her nervous. Trying to make Buffy more comfy was at least a small way to relax. And maybe to not think for a few second.
That really only worked for a short moment, however, her thoughts quickly going back to her conversation with Buffy... and all the things she had thought about in the blonde's pretense... Willow-things she had thought about.
She wasn't embarrassed about it, though her thoughts … in all detail... must have given Buffy the shock... well, one of the shocks of her life. Right now she just felt a strange mixture of relief and worry. They had wanted to tell the others about their relationship, but hadn't found the right moment for it. The way it had happened now was unfortunate, but they couldn't change it now. They could only make the best of it and hope that the probable awkwardness would leave them and their friends in a few days... weeks... months...?
With that thought about awkwardness on her mind, she tensed slightly when she saw Giles emerging from the school building, approaching them. She tried to put on a neutral face, still unsure if the recent developments – the ones not concerning Buffy - had already come to his knowledge.
All intentions of appearing neutral, however, were forgotten when... Baby?... Willow appeared behind him moments later.
Willow was here. She hadn't magically popped up next to her, as she had wished a few minutes before, but she was here now.
It took Willow only one look at Faith's features to know that Buffy had definitely told her about her knowledge. Tension and relief were written over the brunette's face.
With Percy in tow they finally reached the crouching Faith and the still unconscious Buffy. And when Giles cowered down and sent a too warm smile and a "May I?" Faith's way to indicate that he needed some space to check on Buffy, Faith knew all she needed to know. She quickly glanced up to Willow, who was still standing about five feet from them, to get a final confirmation for her assumption. This one nodded and even showed a hint of a smile.
The smile relieved Faith, but surprised her at the same time. She had expected to see more... despair... on her girl's face - as horrible as that would have been for her to see. Her mind worked on overload, processing what this current emotion could mean. Thinking back, Buffy had been fairly shaken by hearing about her and Will. She had figured that the rest of the gang and their older librarian-slash-watcher-friends would feel the same – always assuming they were aware of their relationship. But maybe she had misjudged Giles. That or there was another story there that she wasn't aware of... The fact that Willow and Giles and apparently been at the same location – the library – when Percy had found them could mean that they had just been talking. Which in case of a successful talk could explain the smiles. So... they seemed to be a good sign either way.
Checking on Buffy, Giles also noticed good signs. "Breathing and pulse are normal," he announced, giving them all some more reason to relax. Routinely he checked if there was any visible trauma to the head that could have also caused this collapse – even though from his recent studies he knew the more likely reason for it. He didn't find any such injuries, and since the incident had happened only about five minutes ago, he was positive that there had never been any. Slayer healing was quick, but it wouldn't have kicked in by now.
Unfortunately slayer healing was not able to fight the poison, the demon aspect coursing through Buffy's body. And until they hopefully found an antidote, they had to observe and most importantly discuss any changes in the slayer's condition that would give them a clue.
Percy standing right here within earshot made that discussing part a little hard. Only how to make him understand that without actually spilling anything? Taking off his glasses and pinching the bridge of his nose, Giles tried to think up a way to make the young man leave.
Somehow Willow seemed to be able to read Giles' thoughts... uh...or something like that... In any way she felt what the watcher was planning. "Uh... Percy? Um...," she stammered, but apparently had trouble finding a plausible excuse as well. "Can you... uh..." She looked down at the three people lying and crouching before them, trying to get an idea.
Faith had heard the stammering and now caught her look. She too knew that in order to talk about what had happened they needed to get rid of the unsuspecting man. "Yeah...," she took over, "...can you maybe...," equally as helpless, until it finally hit her, oh! "...look for Xander and tell him we're out here?"
That this was maybe a not so good idea she only noticed when she saw Willow's alarmed look. Right... stupid... At least that reaction answered one more of the many questions swirling around in her head. So Xander knew as well. And probably wasn't as cool about it as Giles seemed to be. Thus is was no surprise that Willow didn't seem happy about her suggestion.
Her eyes sent Willow an apologetic look as she contemplated stopping Percy, but he was already on his way back inside, calling a "Sure" over his shoulder, this time not questioning her order. Having all of Buffy's friends out there by her side seemed more logical for him than asking the school librarian for help. Plus, he still believed Faith to be Xander's girlfriend, so the whole thing made even more sense.
"Uh, thank you," Giles called out to Percy, temporarily taken aback by Faith's words as well, well aware that neither girl had seen the remaining part of the Scoobie Gang since the revelation. But he recovered quickly, concentrating on the matter at, or in his hands. "So, uh, Faith, how did this happen?"
Faith, still upset about her faux-pas, showed some relief when Willow too finally knelt down and gave her an 'it's-okay'-look, which Giles noticed as well. "I... I don't know. We were in the cafeteria, and she had just told me that she could read thoughts and that...she knew," she stopped, looking at Giles and Willow, who just nodded for her to continue. "We were walking over to a table, and she suddenly dropped the tray she had our food on. And then it got weird. Maybe she heard someone thinking something bad or... I don't know. She started looking at people all panicked and then she looked at me... I think she wanted to tell me something. But then she grabbed her head in pain and blacked out."
"Hm," Giles murmured, chewing his glasses. What Faith had described fitted his idea of how things could have played out. The little detail about Buffy apparently freaking over something she had heard, troubled him, however. "And you didn't see or hear anything else that might have caused her...uh, panic?"
"No, I didn't," Faith negated, shaking her head. Though she had to admit that she hadn't paid that much attention to their surroundings. Her eyes had been mostly on Buffy, her thoughts mostly on Will.
"Do you think she's gonna be okay?" this one finally asked the watcher.
"I believe so," Giles replied getting up. "I have some smelling salts in my office, which should help in getting her to wake up. Maybe then she can tell us what has upset her," he added and headed for the library, leaving the two lovers alone - well, barring the unconscious Buffy, of course – for the first time since their outing.
I know something that upset her... Faith pondered, her thoughts coming back to the fact that she and Willow had been kinda outed today. "You okay, honey?" she asked Willow softly, only now being able to take a closer look at her girlfriend and still noticing very faint tear stains on her cheeks. It almost tore her apart.
"I will be," Willow replied. We will be, she thought and gave her girlfriend a reassuring, if not all too big smile. It was a certainty she felt right now, thanks to Giles. She knew that as soon as the others arrived and Buffy woke up, some of it would be taken from her again, but she hoped that she and Faith could get through together.
Willow's reaction relieved Faith to some extent. She hated seeing Willow in pain and hoped the redhead proved right. Even more she hated herself today for not having been with her. "How did it happen?" she now put out the question that had been preying on her mind.
The redhead took a deep breath, rather not wanting to think about this very moment, but knowing that Faith deserved to know. "It happened in the library about maybe an hour ago. Buffy had called a meeting... to tell us about her new ability". The redhead signed, "We were all there. Giles, Wesley, Oz, Cordy, Xander..." She thought about the man who had started off this avalanche of revelations, still trying not to blame him. It wasn't his fault that she and Faith had waited too long, had made it harder to confess their love to their friends with every passing day. "I think I'm not the only one who was afraid of that power. Xander, he..." She moved an agitated hand through her hair, unsure how much Buffy had told her and fearing to shock Faith with what she would say next. She had made her peace with the knowledge about Faith and Xander's one-night-stand. But she knew that the brunette might not be too keen on the others learning about this as well.
Faith misread Willow's concern for her, thinking Will was upset about something her best friend had said. She didn't know how close she was to the truth... only problem being that she viewed it from a different angle. But she wanted to help her in any way she could. And if necessary she'd deal with Xander later...
For now she contented herself with putting a supportive hand on her girlfriend's thigh, encouraging her to go on. Willow smiled at this gesture and gently covered the hand with hers, Faith's smile making her believe that maybe the slayer wouldn't take her next words so hard. "Xander... I don't know... I guess he panicked. H-He must have thought something about you and him... you know...," she 'explained' with an anxious look.
Faith gulped heavily, fearing that the 'you know' could only refer to her and Xander having had sex. In any normal situation she would smirk at her girlfriend's lasting inability to verbalize the 'act of intercourse' and would even tease her a little, but right now she didn't feel like it. So, that meant Buffy was aware of that little intermezzo as well... and now probably thought she was a sex monster devouring her friends.
Speaking of Buffy... "And Buffy just blurted out what she had heard him think. S-She asked 'You had sex with Faith?'" Willow went on and Faith couldn't suppress a wry 'There it is'-thought when the redhead actually used the three-letter-word, but rather concentrated on Willow's explanations again, "And then I panicked... I hadn't realized that Buffy was talking to him, because I was trying so hard not to think anything about us...," she let out an incredulous laugh – now that they were out, all this effort of keeping their secret a secret seemed ridiculous, "... and so my mind had wondered how she could know, since I hadn't even thought about us. And Buffy again blurted 'You had sex with Faith?' but so much shriller and louder this time. A-And Xander and Cordelia yelled 'What?' at me like that was the most shocking thing they've ever heard, whereas with you and Xander they had hardly even reacted," Willow noticed her voice beginning to crack and knew that she that she had to fight hard, if she wanted to keep any tears away. She gripped the hand on her thigh tighter, hoping it would help her. Because tears were the last thing she needed right now – especially since Xander and God-knows-who would be here soon. "Anyway... that's how," she concluded, hoping now had all the information she needed to imagine the whole event.
Faith had. 'That's how'... she repeated silently, playing the not-so-funny babble over and over in her head and wanting nothing more than to turn back time, so that she could get up earlier today and keep Willow from having to face this terrible moment alone. But she didn't have that ability, so all she could do was being here for Willow now. "I'm so sorry, Willow," she confessed softly, looking at the pained face of her girlfriend, seeing the shimmer of tears that her redhead was trying to hold back. "I wish I had been here."
At that, Willow smiled a little again, "You are now," caressing Faith's hand with hers and finally coaxing this one into turning her palm up and fully clasping her own hand, strengthening the physical link between them.
"Yeah...," Faith nodded in relief. A relief that also arose from the fact that Will let her touch happen. When she had put her hand on Willow's thigh a minute ago, part of her had been afraid that the redhead might shy away from her touches, too troubled by having to go through the moment of their outing alone. It wouldn't have been a surprise. Even more she was pleased by the redhead even encouraging their touch.
Willow had been equally as afraid, for a while unsure if things between her and Faith would change now that their friends knew about them. But the larger part of doubted they would; they had faced too much together as a couple by now to just let a momentary confusion of their friends scare them apart.
And she was positive that their friends would recover eventually. Maybe not today or tomorrow or next week, but eventually they'd deal. Maybe Buffy would come around first, her guilt about blatting out Willow and Faith's... apparently very scandalous secret... propelling her into making her peace with this situation more quickly. She thought back to the blonde's reaction. "Buffy was sorry, I know," she confided in Faith, "I could see it in her eyes the moment the words were out. She hadn't meant to say it out loud".
"Yeah, I guess," Faith replied, certainly able to understand the gang's reaction to some extent. She imagined what she would have done, if someone close to her suddenly engaged in an unexpected relationship – same-sex or not.
In the first moment of learning about it, she would probably be too shocked as well to keep quiet. She looked down at the blonde and suddenly wondered, if the girl could hear them and their thoughts in her unconscious state. If so, maybe it would make accepting their relationship easier for the blonde, since she would know that what she and Willow had went way beyond sex and lust and hormones.
Another person who knew all this already was Giles, and Willow was still grateful for how calmly he had reacted to her relationship with a girl. Not every parental figure would react like him and, well, Joyce had done it. Certainly not her own... but that was a thought she didn't want to pursue right now. "Did you know that Giles knew about us already?" she asked Faith, partly to take her mind off her own parents.
Removing her eyes from Buffy again, the brunette's face showed some surprise, "What? How?" before a thought popped into her head, Joyce... "She... Did Joyce talk to him about it?"
"Oh! No, no, no, no," Willow was quick to negate Faith's assumption. "No... he, um... he...," she hesitated a little, "he saw us a couple of weeks ago... in the stacks," she explained, blushing faintly. In retrospect, there was an embarrassing element to Giles telling her about all this.
"'Saw' us, like, how...?" Faith gladly abandoned the absurd thought about Joyce having spilled their secret, only to panic over the things Giles might possibly have 'seen' them do. Will's slightly blushing face hadn't escaped her notice, of course – and it made her wonder, if G-Man had caught them doing something indecent. Her only, uh, 'time' alone with Will in the dark, secluded aisles of Giles' inner sanctum that she could think of had been pretty tame. Some mild cuddling and canoodling, in result of which Willow had been almost late for class. It had been the day she had asked for some money to buy Will a present and... oh!
Suddenly it all made sense. She had noticed that peculiar expression on the watcher's face when he had handed her the money shortly after the little intermezzo in the stacks, but hadn't thought about it any more. But now... "I could have known," she informed Willow with a small smile.
"You know which day?" the redhead asked, encouraged the her girlfriend's smile and also curious about what Faith's sentence should mean.
"Yeah," Faith confirmed. "I'd spent most of the week in the library with him that time... and there were signs. Not just the awkward stammering and stuff. Sometimes there were just looks. Just like the ones Joyce gave us after she found out." Almost too warm and gentle to handle, but still strangely relaxing.
"I know," Willow replied, remembering some of her own meetings with Giles after that day. For example the 'word' he wanted to have with her... which had ended up being a talk about the disks Finch had given them. But she had felt that there was something else on his mind as well.
"And he's okay with it?" the brunette asked now. There had been a smile on both Giles and Willow's faces, so she figured they had talked things out. Still she wanted to hear the affirmation from her girlfriend.
"I think so," the redhead smiled again. "he said he had needed some time, but now he's all supportive. And he also said that the others will be..."
Here!... Faith's thought drowned out Willow, as she saw Xander and Cordelia appearing at the wing door and Xander moving to push it open. On reflex, she disentangled her hand from Willow's...
…Immediately making the redhead panic in her turn. "W-What?" she turned her head to see what Faith had been seeing. Their friends. Their knowing friends. When she faced Faith again, her face was visibly saddened. Not because their 'alone'-time was over or because she would be confronted with unforeseeable reactions soon, but because Faith had broken their physical contact. What did this mean? Was she... Did she not want want to be seen by their friends like that? Holding hands with her girlfriend? "Why did you...?" Willow slowly closed her hand and let it sink to the ground; hovering over her thigh all by itself, it certainly would have looked stupid – and lonely.
Faith had regretted her move immediately. It had been sheer panic that hadn't granted her mind the opportunity to think and leave that stupid hand where it belonged. In Willow's. To hell with what the others would think. "I'm sorry...," she whispered softly, making a half-hearted move to take Willow's hand back, but seeing her shy away confused. So much for being there for her, stupid...
to be continued... really! ;)