Authors: Tim(meh) and Chris
Summary: Buffy left something behind in Los Angeles when she and Joyce moved to Sunnydale. Now, after defeating the First, she returns for it.
Disclaimers: Lots of vague references to canon events. However, this one is largely an alternative view of things – especially those prior to the S1 pilot episode.
A/N: This was originally done as a role play and written entirely in first person (from both characters' perspectives). Any mistakes in pronouns are entirely mine… The original format of the fic didn't lend itself to a rewrite. Transitions are abrupt and sometimes seem disconnected. Mea cupla. Tim and I hope the story will be enjoyable enough for you to overlook the flaws.
Buffy hesitated, frowning, at the window. Faith was here. In town. The frown turned into a scowl. She was fairly certain she knew why Faith had showed up in Los Angeles and she vowed not to let anything supplant Tory's needs. After seven years, Buffy wasn't willing to expose her to the life she'd left behind. She glanced at the clock and prayed Tory got home before Faith showed up at the door.
Sitting in her car, Faith shared some of Buffy's concerns. She could feel the other Slayer, but… Where the hell was she? It was like Buffy was moving around, avoiding her on purpose. She couldn't get a fix on Buffy's location, and Faith didn't exactly have an address. Damn Willow and her big green eyes. "Go find, Buffy, Faith. Please?" she'd pleaded. Why couldn't Kennedy have made the trip? Faith wasn't part of the group. She never had been. If Buffy even allowed herself to be found, she'd probably be happier trying to kill Faith again rather than let herself be dragged back to Cleveland.
The sound of Tory using her key on the front door reached Buffy as she finished putting fruit slices on a plate. She wiped her hands on a towel and hurried out of the kitchen. "Hi, sweetie. Did you have a good day at school?" Buffy asked, kissing Tory's forehead and pulling her into a hug.
Tory looked up at Buffy with Pike's eyes."Yes, Mom, it was fine," she said giving Buffy a smile. "And I know; homework before cartoons." Linking her fingers with Buffy's, Tory walked back into the kitchen.
Mom. It was a word Buffy never thought she would hear. Watching Tory spread her things out on the kitchen table, she bowed her head. She'd didn't regret her decisions. Either of them. Thank God (or the PtB) that the New Council was in good hands with Faith and Dawn. It had given her a chance to return to LA and reclaim her daughter.
Faith finally got a lock on Buffy. It was about fucking time. Following the pull of the bond through LA traffic hadn't been easy, and she was boiling by the time she wheeled up in front of a very nice house. "Sweet. Wonder if this is B's?" Grimacing, she wryly acknowledged she needed to stop spending so much time alone. Talking to herself was becoming a habit.
Hopping out of the car and stretching, she peered around. Nothing seemed out of place. Faith strolled up to the front door and rang the bell.
Buffy continued to watch Tory doing her homework – and hoped she didn't need any help. School had never been something Buffy did well, and there was no way she'd be able to offer help if it was needed. Her thoughts were interrupted by the doorbell. "I'll get it, sweetie."
Unlocking the deadbolt, she opened the door. "Hello, Faith. Come in." Buffy stepped back and waited.
"Wasn't expecting a welcome, B," Faith told her as she stepped inside. The wasn't what she was expecting, either. Cluttered but clean. And…were those stuffed animals on the couch? "Red and the gang were worried. You dropped off the map without sending a post card."
There was someone else here. Faith could hear utensils and smell food in the kitchen. "Damn. I didn't mean to interrupt anything." Fuck. Buffy had a man here. It figured. "You wanna have breakfast or something in the morning? They've waited this long for news. I don't think Red'll turn me into a frog if I give you one more night."
Buffy offered Faith a smile before grabbing her hand. "You're always welcome here, Faith, and I'm sorry for worrying the guys. But I was needed here. Besides, you had everything under control and Dawn was stoked to become a Watcher." Seeing Faith's confused look, Buffy took her into the kitchen. She'd learned something over the years. Hiding things and keeping secrets never ended well. After a deep breath, Buffy announced, "Faith, this is Tory. My daughter."
The eyes were different, but the little girl was Buffy in a teeny body. Faith bit back her, "What the fuck?" and settled on, "Hey, Little T. I'm Faith." She held out her hand and got a nice handshake back. Looking over her head at Buffy, Faith waited for the explanation. No way. This kid was six, maybe seven. When the hell had Buffy been pregnant? And how come no one knew about the kid?
"Hi, Aunt Faith," Tory said. "You were right, Mom. She is pretty."
Buffy stifled a laugh as she ran her hand over Tory's hair. "Come on, Faith. I'm sure you want some 'splainy.'" Getting a nod, she took Faith's hand again and returned to the living room. Buffy sat Faith on the couch before taking a spot on the coffee table in front of her. "I had Tory when I was fifteen. Her father is Pike – a guy at Hemery. Nobody, not even Dawn, knows about her but you." Buffy started with the basics, willing to let Faith ask specific questions about the rest of the details.
"How does she know about me?" It wasn't the most important question, but… Faith waved a hand at Buffy. "Never mind. Pike? You had a guy before Fang? And how does your own sister not know? Come on, B. No way was the Council out of the loop on this. You mean Giles was OK with you leaving your kid to go kill vamps?"
Buffy laughed at the string of questions. "Tory knows about you because I've been telling her about her family since I got her back." She didn't mention that there was a small portion of her that wanted Faith to be more than simply part of the family. "I was planning on coming to Cleveland after the school year to let Tory finish out the school year here. To get back to the story: Pike was my boyfriend pre-Sunnydale. He – and Tory – happened a long time before Giles. Only Mom and Dad knew about Tory. Dawn doesn't know because I ran away until Tory was born. I left her with Dad's parents and was all set to let her live out her life without me. Now that I'm not the only Slayer, though, I wanted to see her grow up."
Faith held up her hands. "Power down, B. I ain't here to tell you to give her up. How could I? I didn't even know about her until a minute ago. I'm just here cause Red turned on the waterworks and asked me to find you." Faith didn't say anything else. It wasn't her job to fill Buffy in on the big news. "I'm just playing messenger."
About that time, Tory came out of the kitchen. "Aunt Faith, are you hungry? Mom makes really good hamburgers."
Faith shot Buffy a look. "Ah, no thanks, Little T. I'm good." She didn't want Buffy to burn the house down in some lame attempt to make dinner.
Punching Faith on the arm, Buffy said, "I'm actually a pretty good cook now, Faith." Buffy wanted to call Faith something nasty, but Tory kept her from doing it. "Hey, Tor, watch your toons with Faith while I get dinner started, and if she tries to leave, you have my permission to use whatever means necessary to keep her here. Faith, try and tone down the language." She leaned forward to kiss Faith on the lips before smiling at Tory and heading to the kitchen.
"Your mom is crazy, you know?" Faith got a huge grin and a nod from Tory. "You're alright, though. What's your favorite cartoon?" They'd be good as long as it wasn't the Care Bears.
Tory didn't answer right away. She carefully set her glass on a coaster and hopped onto the couch first. "Kim Possible."
Faith dropped onto the floor in front of her. Not knowing if Buffy had told her about the Slaying, she couldn't tell her that Buffy could kick Kim's ass with both arms tied behind her back.
Buffy smiled from the kitchen doorway, watching her girls. Her girls. Well, maybe that would be true once she convinced Faith to date her. For now, she was cooking dinner. Ducking back into the kitchen, Buffy grabbed the twenty pack of burgers and got them started. The macaroni and cheese was next and then the McCain Smiles Tory liked. Before flipping the burgers, she put her favorite spices on them the way her daughter liked them.
"Shego's my fav," Faith told Tory as Shego and Kim fought in a secret underground lab.
The little blonde head shook. "No. Kim's better. She's good."
Well, yeah. Faith rolled her eyes. "But she likes the dweebie Ron guy." The comment got Faith some giggles from her young companion, and she grinned. How could she resist that sound? "What do you think? Kim and Shego? Way better than Kim and Ron." Buffy was going kill her. She was talking dating between two women (even if they were just cartoon characters) with her kid.
Buffy froze when she heard Faith mention the cartoon pairing. Tory knew about her feelings for Faith, and she could only wait to see how her daughter would handle the situation. Forcing herself to move, she put the Smiles in the oven and turned the hamburgers one more time.
"Kinda like you and Mom?" Tory asked.
"Me and your mom what, Little T?" Faith was only half paying attention. The smells from the kitchen had her beast all riled up. Between the growls and the gnawing, she was feeling a bit faint.
A small hand thunked the back of her head.
"Hey, none of that." Faith spun around and mock glared. "You're cruisin', ya' know."
Laughing, Buffy plattered the burgers Faith was out of her league and she had completely missed
what Tory tried to bring to her attention. Pulling out the trays of Smiles and dumping them into a bowl, Buffy stirred the cheese into the macaroni. "Girls, dinner!" Now it was time to see how dinner with Faith and Tory went.
"Food!" Faith bolted up, grabbing Tory and tossing her over her shoulder. Grinning maniacally at the giggles, she ran into the kitchen. "Just put it all in front of me, B. I could eat a horse." She noticed the kid-sized glass and dumped Tory in the correct chair. "Dig in, Little T, or there won't be anything left for you."
"She kind of knows about Slayers, Faith. The first time I ate in front of her I had to explain. She knows about Aunt Willow and magic, too. And she really wants to meet grandpa Giles." Buffy gave Tory her share of the food before making her own plate. "The rest of it is fair game, Faith, but I warn you that Tory gets feisty when it comes to her Smiles." She winked at Faith and dug in, waiting to see how Faith handled her cooking.
Faith didn't even ask what a 'smile' was. Grabbing a burger, she piled lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and onions on it then added ketchup, mustard, and mayo, too. Squishing it all together she took a huge bite – and moaned. The burger – and nine of its closest friends – disappeared in minutes. "God, B, these are good." She finally left the meat for some cheesy goodness.
"And you made fun of my cooking; I accept your apology, cutie." Buffy gave Tory a wink. "So, Faith, you need someplace to stay. I have room in my big bed. I'd offer you Tory's room, but her princess bed probably would be too small." She made a half dozen burgers disappear herself.
"Mom, before I forget, I have a request form for the planetarium," Tory mentioned as Buffy got distracted from the way Faith was staring at her.
"Okay sweetie, I'll take care of it," she mumbled.
First the kiss, now the offer of her bed. What was Buffy up to? Faith considered calling her bluff. She'd wanted to cuddle with Buffy for years. But she wasn't going to let her win. "Nah. You won't have to share, B. I know from Red that you get kinda handsy and all. I'll just sleep on the couch." Tory seemed intent on her food. Sneaking a hand over, Faith stole a fry.
And with Slayer quickness, Tory took her fry back and ate it. "Mom warned you not to take my Smiles."
Buffy chuckled as Tory stuck her tongue out at Faith.
"She won't get her full powers until she is fifteen, Faith. I found out from Lorne that she is a Slayer." Buffy didn't want to make a big deal out of the news. She was still working on keeping her own reactions and feelings at the calm end of the spectrum. "Are you sure about the bed? I'll keep my grabby hands under control."
"I'd sleep with her, Faith. She's liable to come down and sleep on the couch with you," Tory said, giggling as Buffy joined her.
Mumbling about mean and evil baby Slayers and their octopus-like mothers, Faith pretended to pout as she finished up her dinner. Once she'd vacuumed up all the food, Faith leaned back in her chair. "I really don't mind the couch, B, but if you're sure you can share, the bed sounds a lot more comfortable. My self control is real good these days, so you don't have to worry about anything happening." She got up, barely holding in a huge belch. "OK, Little T, you and me got clean up duty." Faith would have to ask Buffy about the Slayer thing. She'd sounded pretty all right with it, and that was a surprise. Faith knew Buffy had never been happy about the Calling.
Buffy sat back and watched while Faith and Tory cleared the table. Tory knew Buffy could hear her talking, so she didn't bother to worry once all the dishes were loaded into the sink. She simply grabbed a wooden step stool and started the water and said, "Mom likes you Faith you, and by that I mean like she loved Dad, Angel, and Riley. But she is nervous that you don't feel the same."
The kid was too cute. She was trying to hook Faith up with her mom. "Look, Little T, you're mom's the best. Me and her…we go way back. Maybe she likes me." Faith really doubted it. "But not like she did Angel. She loved Fang." Man, his undead heart might just start beating at seeing the munchkin.
Faith was as dense as Buffy, Tory realized. "The important word there is loved. Angel knows that Mom doesn't have those feelings for him anymore, and I can see it in your eyes that you like her, too. She talks about you all the time, but I'll leave it alone. You two can talk tomorrow." Tory concentrated on the dishes, just letting that sink in.