Disclaimer: They all belong to Joss…

Summary: Faith helps Buffy shop for her big night on the town.

Spoilers: None. Set in my own special post-Chosen fantasy land

A/N: Submitted for the 3rd International Day of Femslash

"Come on already, B. We've been here all fuc…" Faith coughed (convincingly, she hoped) and cut off her comment. After all, Buffy's glare just might set her hair on fire. Or all of her on fire. Buffy had been spending a lot of time with Willow lately. Maybe magic rubbed off.

Faith devoutly hoped hate didn't rub off, too.

Seconds passed without the glare lessening. Faith smiled. Then she casually leaned back in her chair and picked up a magazine. See? She tried to say silently. I'm good with sitting here for a few more hours until the store closes while you try on everything for a fourth time.

"Put the magazine down, Faith," Buffy ordered. Holding out two blouses (the same two she'd tried on when they first hit the store, Faith was sure), she said, "I want your opinion. Which of these do you like best? I… I can't decide."

That was patently obvious. Showing off her brain power, though, Faith didn't say it. Out loud. "B," she started. The air between them heated, the glare probably not far off. "The one on the left."

"Really?" Buffy turned the blouse so she could look at it more closely. "It felt kind of tight. You know, in the front?"

Yes, Faith did know. It was the sole reason that blouse was better than the other, which was the same color and nearly the same style blouse Buffy clutched in her other hand. "Nah." Faith added a smile, carefully sans dimple, to make her words more believable. "It fit just right. This is for some big date you got. You don't wanna look like we're back in SunnyD and you're barely legal, B."

Buffy was wavering. Faith could tell from the wrinkled nose and the bitten lip. "Well…" One last juggle of the blouses, as if Buffy were weighing them. "OK. I'll take it."

Exploding from the chair, Faith barely refrained from a victory dance. "Wicked. How about some Chinese on the way home? I'm starved." Her rapid escape from the store halted abruptly. Buffy wasn't following. No. Oh no.

Walking to yet another rack of clothing, Buffy pulled out two skirts. "If we have time later. What do you think of these?" she asked, brandishing the new apparel.

Voice rough with defeat, Faith muttered, "Why don't you go try 'em on? I'll just sit here in case you need a second opinion."

Stomach growling, Faith wove through traffic toward the Academy. "You sure you're gonna be on time?" She glanced at the clock on the dash. It was late. Later than she'd dreamed possible for a simple shopping trip. "What time's the hottie picking you up?"

"Hottie?" Buffy parroted. "How do you know what my date looks like?"

Please. Faith mentally rolled her eyes at Buffy and refused to get caught up in that particular line of conversation. "We're at least a half hour out, B. Traffic's a bitch this time of day, even in Cleveland. I got my cell if you need to make a call. I bet The Date will wait."

"Oh, we didn't set up a time." Buffy appeared completely relaxed in the passenger seat. "Whenever I'm ready will do."

Faith's eyes rolled for real. Only Buffy could say that and mean it. Her new boy toy must be completely whipped already. "Good thing." She refocused her attention on the road as brake lights popped up in front of them.

Talking stopped as the traffic got worse. Faith tapped her fingers on the wheel, shifted in her seat, and devoted far too much energy to thinking. Thinking was bad. That's why she avoided it. Unfortunately, inching along Superior with Buffy riding shotgun left her with few options. Who was Buffy seeing? She hadn't been out of the Academy, except for patrol and those stupid field trips Willow arranged, in months.

One of the Watchers? Some of them weren't bad to look at, and a few had even figured out that tweed wasn't required. That had to be it. With Giles changing the Council and Buffy playing Lead Slayer… Any of the new breed would be dancing to Buffy's tune. Waiting a few hours for a date? They'd wait forever, if she asked.

Of course, a tiny little voice whispered, so would Faith.

Faith stepped on that thought – and the brake – so fast her seat belt tightened. "Sorry," she muttered, face burning. She sensed Buffy staring at her and refused to look in her direction as she carefully placed her foot back on the gas pedal. "Foot slipped." More like her brain slipped. Thinking about Buffy as anything other than a friend was in the past. The far distant past.

Sunnydale past.

Or last month, when Buffy had kissed Faith's cheek and joked they should give in and admit their feelings since all the Juniors thought they were a couple anyway. But that had been a brief lapse. Like this one. It would pass, and Faith could go back to being friends. She could, she mentally vowed. She had to.

Clock watching and driving was hard. It kept Faith completely occupied for the rest of the drive. Head pounding from the intense concentration, she pulled into her assigned parking space and turned off the ignition. "Home sweet home." For once, she actually meant the words. The Academy was so much better than being trapped in the car with Buffy and her own rampaging thoughts and emotions.

She hopped out of the car and waited impatiently for Buffy to grab her bags from the trunk. "Everything OK, Faith? You seem…" Eyes widening, Buffy stared at Faith. "Did you have a date tonight?"

"No," Faith said, the reply short and impatient-sounding. Grimacing, she waved a hand in apology. She had to get a grip. Now. "I'm fine, B. Hungry, though, and you know how big a bitch I am when I ain't had food in a couple hours." She forced a grin. "Let's get you inside and dressed, and I'll raid the kitchen."

Buffy smiled. "Food is of the good. I don't want you to pass out or attack one of the kids. They already freak when you so much as frown." She shifted her shopping bags to one hand, closed the trunk, and walked toward the entrance to the Academy. "I wish they wanted my approval so badly. No one listens to anything I say."

"B, they fucking hang on every word," Faith patiently pointed out as they walked inside. "You just ain't as scary. It's all that smiling you do. Cut that out and you'll be right there at the top of their nightmare list like me. You got one hell of a Slayer Stare." It still stopped Faith in her tracks when Buffy turned it her way.

It wasn't a stare, though, that halted their progress through the cavernous Great Room. It was Willow and Kennedy, perchedon a pair of chairs – and obviously waiting for Faith and Buffy. "Hey!" Willow chirped, waving one hand. "I…I uh…"

Explosion was imminent if the color of Willow's face was any indication.

"You what, Will?" Buffy asked. Her voice was strained. So strained that Faith glanced at her and then at Willow. "Did you need something?"

Eyes darting to Buffy, Willow nodded rapidly. What was that all about? Faith might have asked if Willow hadn't resumed babbling. "Need. Yep. I need something. Or someone. Faith. I need Faith."

"You what?" Kennedy echoed Buffy's previous question, scowling ferociously at Faith.

"I need Faith. For a field trip. I want to take the Junior Slayers out tonight." Willow ground to a verbal halt. She sucked in an audible breath, no one saying a word. "I wanted you to go with us, Faith," she said more slowly and clearly. "They respect you."

Fear was more like it. "Sure." It was better than sitting in her apartment, mooning over Buffy. Faith was realistic enough to know that she hadn't climbed back on the "Buffy Is My Friend" wagon yet. She needed a distraction. "Where're we headed?"

"Why…why don't Kenn and I walk you to your room? I'll tell you more about it on the way?" Willow hopped out of her chair and nearly dragged Kennedy along, too. "Buffy needs to get ready for her date. We don't want to make her any later."

Until that very moment, Faith wouldn't have believed anything could keep Willow from helping Buffy dress for a date. Shrugging at Buffy in confusion, she simply said, "Lead the way, Red. I'm right behind ya'."

"I thought the girls needed a night out." Willow must have had to do some fast talking with Giles or Kennedy before. She sounded as if she'd had a lot of practice with the explanation. "There's a place right on the Lake, Pier W…"

"You want to take a bunch of baby Slayers to one of the most expensive restaurants in the city?" Kennedy beat Faith by a heartbeat with her question. "You're out of your mind, Willow!"

A domestic battle was on the horizon. Faith saw Willow's face drop into Resolve Face and hurried to keep things friendly. "You sure there ain't someplace else you wanna go for dinner? What about the Oriental Palace? The kids love Chinese and it's not far from the Lake."

"No," Willow snapped. "Pier W." She held up a hand to stave off Kennedy's next question. "Look, Faith, we always take the new Slayers to buffets or fast food places. They need to know those aren't the only places to eat. Now go change into good clothes and meet us out front in an hour." Her tone left no room for argument.

"Whatever." Already regretting her agreement to proctor the outing, Faith dug her keys from her pocket and unlocked her apartment door. "See ya' in a bit, Red."

A long, hot shower helped put Faith in a better frame of mind. Willow hadn't been wrong about the dining experiences for the new kids. Hell, Faith rarely went anywhere better than McDonald's when she ate out. Pier W wouldn't hurt.

Staring into her closet, Faith cursed. Too bad she hadn't known about field trip this morning. She could have had Buffy help her find some decent clothes. Leather and jeans were out. And that meant most of Faith's closet was out. Faith pushed through the hangers, searching. There had to be something… In the very back, still covered in a plastic bag, Faith found the answer.

Buffy had given her the pantsuit last year. Just in case, she'd said.

Faith ripped the plastic off and pulled on the pants and matching jacket. What about a blouse, though? Buffy hadn't bought one, and there was nothing in the closet that would work. Buttoning up the jacket still left a lot of cleavage. Faith hesitated. It was the best she had, and a glance in the mirror convinced her she didn't look bad.

It would have to do. Faith dug out the box of shoes Buffy had included with the gift. She was going to be late if she didn't hurry. So she did – hurry. Stepping into the dress shoes, Faith stuffed some money and her driver's license into her pockets and then sprinted for the door. Two flights of stairs were nothing for a Slayer. She skidded to a halt at the Academy's main entrance.

One breath. Two. Faith got her breathing under control and sauntered outside.

A limousine idled at the curb, a chauffeur hovering near the rear passenger-side door. It was the only car in sight. Where were the rest of the kids? Less sure now, Faith sidled closer.

"Good evening, Ms. Lehane." The driver wasn't surprised by her appearance. He merely tipped his hat and opened the door.

Not wanting to seem overwhelmed by the situation, Faith didn't argue. She climbed into the car and sat down. Alone. Either Willow had accidentally turned all of the Juniors into tiny, invisible people, or this wasn't a field trip.

The door closed firmly behind her, though. Faith had two choices. Sit here and wait for…whatever. Or climb out the other side and run for her life.

Running in her new shoes wouldn't be easy...so Faith settled into the leather seat and waited. And waited. She didn't have a watch, and the glass partition was up. She couldn't see the clock in the front of the limo. Minutes (or hours) ticked by, Faith wasn't sure.

Then the door swung open again.

"Wow!" The word was out before Faith's brain engaged. If it had been, she might have said something else. Or not.

Buffy did look all kinds of "wow" as she sat down next to Faith. "Thanks," she said and Faith caught the blush tinting her cheeks. "You look good, too." Hands twisting in her lap, Buffy's eyes darted everywhere. "Um…"

"Somethin' you wanna to tell me?" Faith asked as the car began to move. Although, now that Buffy was here, Faith was pretty sure she didn't need an answer to her question. A stiff drink for her nerves sounded about right. Valium to slow her hammering heart. Giving in to instinct, she inched across the back seat until her thigh brushed Buffy's.

"Yeah," Buffy mumbled. Her hands were in fists, her eyes now focused on her slowly whitening knuckles.

Faith reached for those hands. Her fingers caressed Buffy's lightly. "B?" She needed to hear the words. Needed to know this wasn't a fantasy. "Buffy?"

Buffy's head rose until her eyes hesitantly met Faith's. "There is no field trip."

No. Faith had figured that part out already. "And?" She felt her smile blossom into a blinding grin.

"And I didn't have a date lined up." Buffy responded with a shaky smile. "I was… Um. I was hoping you didn't have one, either."

"Oh, B." Faith was Faith, after all. She couldn't resist teasing a little. "I do…got plans." When Buffy's expression went from tentatively happy to depressed in less than a heartbeat, though, she hurried on. "There's this girl I been eyein' for years. Never thought I'd have a chance, you know? But…"

A tiny hand wiggled from Faith's grasp and then smacked into Faith's arm. "Bitch." Buffy's glare didn't even rate a one on the Slayer Scale.

"Yeah," Faith agreed. She didn't say anything else. She was still waiting for confirmation. And with each passing minute, she grew tenser. This had to be real.

"Faith." As if finally sensing Faith's fear, Buffy leaned in and kissed Faith. Softly. Delicately. And then pulled back. "Will you please go out with me tonight?" It wasn't enough. "To a real restaurant, without a single Scooby or Junior Slayer?" She kissed Faith again. More deeply, tongue sneaking past Faith's lips. "On a date?"

A verbal response was almost more than Faith could handle. "Yes," she choked out. She didn't care that the tremble in her voice was noticeable or that a tear slipped from her eye and splashed on their joined hands. "Yes."