Summary: On the drive back to Sunnydale, Willow and Faith put their differences aside and discover confession is good for the soul.

Spoilers: all BTVS from 3 through to 'Dirty Girls' & some of ATS 4.

Rating: PG 13

Disclaimer: Joss owns them, I don't.

Diamond Road

by Mbard

'Walk with me the diamond road

Tell me every story told

Give me something of your soul

That I can hold onto'Diamond Road, Sheryl Crow

It was going to take them hours to get home at this rate. Actually hours was being too optimistic the redhead reflected, make that days to get back home. Her thoughts were verging on the irrational, gazing at the figure outside her windshield lighting yet another cigarette, summoning up her stern annoyed face, just in case the brunette looked her way. She didn't. In fact, now Willow thought about it, there had been a definite lack of eye contact coming from the once rogue, but now reformed slayer since the two women left LA. And that only added to Willow's impatience to be getting home. A few more hours of one-sided conversation and monosyllabic grunts for another cigarette break just might bring out Evil Willow again, the wicca thought, smirking to herself despite the bad taste Evil Willow thoughts left her with. Not that she wanted to become Faith's best friend or anything. She had a strict rule about people who tried to kill her not being extended the hand of friendship. And more often than not, it was a rule she never broke. But faced with the long drive home ahead of her, not knowing exactly what they were going to face when they got there – what with the First being all bad and evil, and Spike pretty much insane now, and Buffy acting all Commander-in-Chief, and things hotting up with the potential Kennedy (who had succeeded in doing what none of the Scoobies had been able to do, make Willow smile again) and to top it all she was bringing the rogue slayer back into town, which Willow couldn't imagine bringing the fun in much when they arrived – just added to the wicca's frustration. A little banter might alleviate some of the wiggins she had started feeling ever since leaving behind the relative safety of LA.

But how to start such a conversation? 'Say Faith, didya kill anyone lately?' Wasn't exactly the way to strike up a light and breezy conversation to pass the time, but Willow wasn't sure asking the slayer what she had been doing lately, i.e. being locked up in prison, was the way to go either.

"I never could talk to you."

"Talk to me about what?" Faith raised an accusatory eyebrow, leaning on the open passenger side window, smirking when the redhead turned a bright shade of pink.

Willow repositioned her frowny face, not liking Faith's smirk. Reminding her too much of the Faith she knew in high school, the one she was trying not to compare to the Faith she'd met a few days ago in LA.

"How long have you been standing there?" The wicca enquired, hoping she'd not spoken any of her other thoughts aloud.

"Long enough to start getting bored. And you didn't answer my question," Faith opened the door and slipped in next to Willow. The fairer woman still felt uncomfortable in the slayer's presence, making Faith feel more her old self again. Whether that was a good or bad thing, she decided not to debate right now.

"Come on Red, what couldn't you ever talk to me about?"

"Anything."

Willow's reply sounded sad. Like perhaps she regretted that she couldn't talk to Faith back in the day, and perhaps she regretted she was finding it so difficult to talk to the woman now. It made the dark haired woman uncomfortable, flipped the tables on her so it was Red who suddenly held the edge. All because she heard a hint of regret in the wicca's voice, which sparked a seed in the slayer's mind that reminded her how it had felt to be around all of the Scoobies back then. How for a time, things were really solid for her in Sunnydale. Things felt like she belonged.

She looked at Red next to her behind the wheel, looking so grown up. Looking very much the smart sexy woman Angel had said she'd turned into, and not the naïve virgin the slayer had taken such pleasure in goading when one of them was in high school, and the other just hanged around it a lot. It gave her another one of those pangs she's been having a lot lately. She didn't want to call it guilt. Didn't want to acknowledge that there was more guilt left in her after she'd turned herself in, reformed and started paying her debt to society. But there was something tugging at her mind, had been ever since her and Red left for Sunnydale, and was only being made worse by the tone of the wicca's voice just then. Something that resembled the guilt she'd been feeling the past few years. Only this time it wasn't exactly guilt over the killing, it was all tied up to how she'd left things with the other slayer.

Fuck, was this going to be a long drive, the slayer thought as Willow put the car in gear again and drove off. Wonder if she'll let me out for another cigarette.

"No more!" Willow turned the dial on the radio to the off position, without using her hands, leaving Faith amused by the outburst as well as the mojo.

"I can't listen to another soft rock anthem. I just can't. Too much guitar. Too much amp. Too much testosterone." She continued.

The slayer smirked. "Hey it's okay Red, chill a little."

She threw the brunette a more sanitised version of her stern stare, not appreciating the patronising tone from the slayer, but realising she may have overreacted a little.

"I seem to recall you being very much into guitars back in the day." Faith couldn't believe her own ears when she spoke. She was trying to have a conversation with Red. Had the world suddenly started spinning the wrong way? "You were pretty heavily into testosterone too."

Faith didn't notice Willow's grip on the steering wheel tighten, the knuckles going white as some unpleasant memories came to the surface.

"Well, things change Faith." There was a hint of venom in the wicca's voice, which she remembered from the days when both her and the slayer loathed to be in each other's presence, vying for Buffy's time. She purposefully softened her voice with the next line.

"I changed."

"Yeah? How's that then?" There was still a slight teasing tone to Faith's voice. "Oh wait, hang on. There was a girl…blonde, pretty." The slayer sounded like the penny had finally dropped. She remembered the last time she was in Sunnydale and had taken a little stroll in the blonde slayer's shoes. There'd been Red and some girl at the Bronze, who kept looking at her funny. Man, what was that girl's name? Faith tried to remember.

"Tara." It was as if the wicca had read her thoughts.

Willow's voice was flat when she whispered the name. Faith knew that behind that name, there was a world of suffering. She knew that because Red had sounded like the way she sounds, when she utters Buffy's name sometimes.

"Her name was Tara. She's dead now."

Willow didn't notice as the car began slowing down, her grip lessening on the wheel.

"Oh." Was Faith's lame response at first. To be followed by "Shit, I'm sorry."

The witch had heard it so many times, it never sounded sincere. But coming from Faith, a girl acquainted intimately with death, Willow felt oddly comforted by the words 'I'm sorry'.

"Yeh so am I."

There was silence between them again. A different kind to the tension filled silence of before, a more intimate kind.

A silence Faith couldn't stand to be in.

"Willow?" It was the first time either woman could remember the slayer using her real name. And it didn't sound as odd as either of them imagined it would. "Willow we've stopped moving."

The redhead glanced at her driving companion, a puzzled expression to her face. Then she swept her eyes over the speedometer, out her windshield and finally to her foot resting by the gas pedal, not on it.

"Yep, that'll happen when you take your foot off the accelerator."

She tried to sound like funny-bouncy Willow, but her smile was taking a while to join the act. Thinking of Tara still did that to her, and part of her hoped it always would.

"Wanna coffee?" Faith asked. She could sure use a cigarette, she guessed the wicca must have addictions of her own she craved.

"Coffee would be good." Willow replied, not quite believing herself as she did it. Coffee with Faith, was the Earth spinning backwards or something?

"Cool. I saw a place back there." Faith pointed behind them, and Willow got the car moving again. Pulling into the car park a few minutes later of a roadside diner that had definitely seen better days.

Taking the time for a much needed stretch of tired muscles as she got out of the car, Willow looked over the dilapidated diner and back to the brunette lighting a cigarette.

"I'm not likely to get a low fat extra foamy mocha in there, am I?" The wicca even pouted a little.

"Red, you'll be lucky if they even have milk. Come on." Faith led the way, glancing back smiling at the reluctant redhead, who had lost some of the darkness that had invaded her eyes, which the slayer was happy to see.

The waitress who, like the establishment she worked in, had seen better days, swung by their table at the back of the diner with a refill of some extremely bitter tasting coffee. Faith eagerly nodded for another cup, anything tasted better than the shit they passed as coffee in prison, and the crap Fred brewed at Angel's. Willow on the other hand, was jonesing more for her frothy milk infused mocha's that had less of a kick to them when you swallowed, and swiftly covered her half-empty cup when the waitress tried to pour.

"I'm good, thanks." Offered the wicca.

The waitress eyed her suspiciously, she assumed all students lived on coffee and nicotine. Maybe she'd pegged these two girls wrong.

"Come on Red, it'll put hairs on yer chest." The brunette smirked at the redhead opposite her, liking it when her eyebrows went frowny. She remembered that from the old Willow, even if everything else about her was unfamiliar.

"No, really, I'm good thanks. And could do without the scary visuals, thanks Faith." The two looked at each other with mock defiance in their eyes before a smirk broke out on Willow's face, followed by a short spurt of laughter from Faith.

The waitress looked down at the two of them, perplexed at the younger generation. Deciding that they were students all right, high on something other than caffeine probably. She strolled over to the counter, telling the short order chef to keep an eye on those two when she couldn't, going about refilling the cups of overweight truckers who appreciated her coffee.

"I think you offended her." Faith looked back from where she'd been following the waitress' movements to the woman in front of her, still smiling but her eyes had lost the brightness of before. The slayer figured that brief teasing interlude was all there was going to be.

Damn it, I'm no good at this, Faith thought to herself.

They'd stumbled and started a dozen conversations since arriving at the diner, none of them the right one. None of them which would lead the wicca to explain the sadness in her eyes, or for the slayer to explain the strange feeling she'd been having ever since Willow showed up in LA.

Faith knew that Willow's girlfriend had died, and Willow knew Faith had stayed locked up because she wanted to pay for her crimes. And that was as far as either women had managed to get before awkward tension reappeared, and their conversations reverted back to the type they had when Willow was still in high school. Non-existent, in other words.

I knew this was a bad idea, the wicca thought to herself, watching the brunette take out like her millionth cigarette of the day, lighting it with a shiny but battle-scarred Zippo.

"You know, you smoke too much." Willow played with the sugar bowl as she spoke, a nervous thing she remembered from her childhood dinner table, with parents that believed in only speaking when spoken to.

"Really?" Faith took a deep drag on her Marlboro, her sarcasm unmistakable.

"And it's really bad for you."

Faith raised her eyebrows at the wicca and blew some smoke purposefully in front of her.

"Yeh well, we all gotta die sometime."

It was a tired old line, the slayer couldn't even believe she'd uttered it, watching the redhead grimace slightly at the death notion. Painful reminder of the deaths she'd been witness to, probably. Faith was going to offer some sort of apology or something, but never got the chance.

"Why do you do that?" Willow's voice was sad again.

"Do what?" And Faith was on the defensive.

"Do that tough-guy act all the time. You're always with the comebacks, and the jokes, and the five-by-fives 'we gotta all die sometime huh huh huh'. Pretending you don't really care about anything."

"Who said I was pretending?" Faith shot back at the redhead, not liking the insightful Willow so much.

"Oh right, Faith. I forgot. You're mean, you're a badass. You don't give a flying fuck about anyone else, that's why you've spent the last 18 months in lock up. Right?"

The wicca didn't know where all that had come from. She sat back a little in the booth chair she was on, not daring to look up at the slayer's eyes, knowing there'd be daggers coming from them. Faith was staring at her all right, but more in surprise than anything else. Red had her pegged pretty well, which irked the slayer somewhat, considering the time they'd spent together in LA plus the drive now was probably the most they'd ever spent in each other's company. Had Faith become so easy to read? She was also surprised that Willow would come out with all that to her face and not flinch once when she said it. Back in the day the timid wicca would jump if Faith even looked at her, but now there was a defiance coming off of the woman, the slayer was intrigued to find out about. The final thing that wigged Faith out a little, was hearing Willow say fuck, a word she never thought she'd hear from such innocent lips.

Clearly not so innocent anymore, thought the slayer.

"Well Jesus Red, don't feel like you gotta hold anything back." Faith stubbed her cigarette out, acting more pissed off than she really felt. "Is there anything else you wanna add as you Psych 101 me?"

Willow looked up, determining whether the slayer was pissed at her, or just pretending to be. She saw in her eyes that she was just pretending to be. Willow also thought she saw a glimmer in the brown orbs, that was asking her to give the slayer a chance to explain things.

"Yes, actually I do." The wicca met the slayer's stare with a determined one of her own.

"If you really are still the bitch I knew in high school, why save Angel? Why come back to Sunnydale with me?" Willow paused, then added to soften the harshness a little. "And if you respond with a smart comeback about topping up your tan, I might have to sew your mouth shut."

The slayer smirked, letting the bitch remark drop at the appearance of spazzy Willow.

"Now who's with the scary visuals?" She reached in to her pocket for her cigarettes, ignoring the look Willow gave her when she brought one up to her lips and lit it.

"Okay Red, here's the deal."

"There's a deal?" Uh-oh, Willow thought.

"Ahuh, there's always a deal to be had Red, and this is going to be ours." Faith paused, more for dramatic effect than for the coffee she took a sip of. "I'll show you mine, if you show me yours."

"Show you my what?" Willow asked, conjuring up all sorts of images she shouldn't be conjuring right now.

"Chill Red, I'm not suggesting nakedness or anything."

Despite herself Willow blushed, the visual place her mind was at not as scary as the other visuals caused by Faith in the past. She looked across to see an amused slayer, raising her dark eyebrows suggestively, smirking that way of hers again that always wrong footed the redhead.

"Unless you want to get naked." Faith added, arching her eyebrows in a suggestive manner, her look on the lascivious side of inappropriate.

"I certainly do not." Willow fidgeted a little in her chair, trying to think of a spell that would make her stop blushing, or stop her imagining her and Faith naked, whichever would work quickest.

"Shucks Red, that hurts."

The wicca gave Faith an exasperated look, and the slayer knew it was time to stop playing so many games.

"Okay okay. Enough with the frowny face already." Faith continued. "All I meant was, you're curious about what changed me and I'm curious to know how you went from being a geeky computer spaz in high school…"

"Hey!" Willow interrupted.

"Let me finish," Faith responded. "Like I was saying, I want to know how you go from high school spaz to wicked witch of the west coast."

Faith stared back at Willow when she was confronted with one of those stern, shocked looks she'd seen on the redhead's face a lot.

"Hey, I heard a rumour at Angel's."

"Oh." Was all Willow could think of to say.

Reading more from the expression in the brown eyes before her than Willow's sudden silence, Faith started to realise she'd hit on something big.

"So, not so much rumour as fact. Gotta say Red, didn't see that coming." Faith took the time to stub her cigarette out, eyeing the redhead carefully, as if she was really seeing her for the first time.

"I'm impressed," she continued.

Willow scowled at her, forcing herself to calm her breathing down a notch. Faith was just being Faith after all.

"So what happened?" Faith settled back in her seat, finishing off the last dregs of cold coffee.

"I killed a guy."

"No way!" Faith sputtered out, the coffee she'd been drinking going down the wrong way.

"Way." Willow replied in a quiet voice.

"And again with not seeing that coming. Whoa Red, you went and grew a pair since I've been away." Faith couldn't help the slight tinge of admiration in her voice, she really hadn't been expecting that from the girl she always thought of as the baby of the group.

After a short silence when both women kept meeting the other's gaze but not able to hold the eye contact, Faith asked the question Willow always dreaded.

"Why'd you do it?"

The slayer was sure Red would come back with a sad tale of it being an accident, or a spell that had backfired, or she mistook a human for a vampire, because hell, that can happen. What Faith wasn't expecting was Willow's voice to hollow out, her eyes to grow distant, darker somehow. And she really wasn't expecting Willow to up the ante on their game of show and tell.

"You wanna know why? Because he deserved it. The snivelling little bastard deserved getting his ass flayed, that's why. It had been like the best day ever, till he came along. We were happy again. We were in love again. She came back to me and everything was how it should be. We spent the night and the next day in bed together, just like in the beginning. Like when it's all new and you don't want it to stop, the feeling and the touching, especially the touching."

Willow let out a shallow breath, a small whimper mixed in with it. Her eyes felt heavy with tears again, like they always do when she remembers that day. But as much as it hurt to remember, it hurt more to try and forget.

"We were so happy, damn it. We'd just gotten dressed, it was late afternoon. And it was sunny, really warm. I remember that, the warmness. Remember being all warm and feeling fuzzy inside because she was back, then it was all dark and cold. As she fell, the world went cold on me. There was a noise, and blood, lots of blood, and she fell and there was nothing I could do. Nothing they'd let me do to bring her back. He came and he took my baby away."

The tears fell fast down Willow's cheeks, she didn't even notice them. Faith watched the wicca in silence, feeling a lump form in her own throat. The pain coming off the woman in front of her was tangible. The slayer was sure she could feel it grab onto some part of her that lay hidden. The part where her compassion and her pity laid dormant inside, because no-one ever tried to bring them out of her, and before now she doubted they even existed.

Faith swallowed hard, trying to dislodge the ball of steel that suddenly wedged itself in her throat. Just as she was trying to force back tears she felt sting her eyes like tiny sharp needles. The waitress was making another swoop with her coffee and the slayer warned her away with a dangerous look in her dark eyes, giving the waitress more reason to mistrust the two young women.

The brunette couldn't quite believe what she was doing when she reached for Willow's hands, clasped tightly together on the tabletop. Prying them apart and covering them with her own larger, callused hands. The gesture felt so strange coming from the slayer but both women recognised the importance of it. The line Faith was trying to cross in order to reach the dark place Willow had gone to in her memory. Reach it and bring her back. She knew a lot about darkness, had been living in its shadow for most of her life. She still couldn't quite believe innocent geeky Red had found her way to the darkness too, but by the way the redhead was crying, Faith didn't doubt that she had. And she suspected that like her, the darkness in Willow was always just below the surface, waiting to come out.

"Willow, it's over now. It's over, okay?" Faith didn't know what else to say. There were a lot of questions she had, ones she was sure she'd never be able to ask, but for now she needed Willow in the here and now with her. Not least because she was starting to lose her slayer edge over the stuff buried within her, and didn't want this to turn into Dawson's hour.

"Willow, come on. It's okay, 'kay?"

Something broke through to the redhead's thoughts. Maybe it was Faith's deep rough voice urging her back, maybe it was the feel of warm hands clasped over her icy cold ones, gently rubbing the knuckles. Maybe it was the fat waitress shouting an order to the chef. Didn't matter how exactly, but Willow started to regain her composure a little.

"Sorry," she mumbled to Faith, extricating herself from the hands holding her own, missing their touch when she did. She reached for a paper napkin from the dispenser to wipe her eyes with.

"You don't have to apologise." Faith also missed the hands before her, but banished the reason why from her mind, and like she always did, lit up a cigarette to deflect the tension.

"Yeh well, I don't usually lose it like that. Not in public anyway. Oh, except maybe for that time Principal Snyder made me take part in the school play. On that occasion there might even have been snot bubbles."

The redhead smiled weakly at the woman opposite her, hoping she could see she was trying her best to get back to normal-happy Willow. Faith only smirked in return, being an old hand at using humour to mask what was really going on inside.

Willow raked her hands through her hair, sighing with the movement, suddenly feeling very tired. She wasn't sure how she got into the state she was in, with Faith of all people the one to offer her comfort, but she was kind of glad she had. It was difficult to grieve back at Command Central, with all the activity going on there lately. Not to mention her growing feelings for Kennedy and the unmistakable feelings coming from the potential in return, making it a little confusing to think about Tara and all that had happened. In her unknowing, sledgehammer way, Faith had allowed Willow to gain some much needed relief from her trapped feelings, and perhaps help her with some closure she'd been desperately missing for so long.

And you've heard the beginning so you might as well hear the rest, thought the redhead, ready at last to complete her story.

"Faith?"

The brunette looked up from the menu she'd not really been reading, to find a set of green eyes on her that were a little brighter than before.

"Yeh?"

"There's more you should know."

"And they always called me the rebellious one."

The dark haired woman smirked as she said it, indicating that she was only playing with the redhead. She was also trying to cover up her absolute shock, surprise and sudden nervousness she felt in her stomach, to be in the presence of someone who had single-handedly almost destroyed the world.

"Yeh, well, you were." Willow responded, able to match Faith with her taunts, relieved there was the capacity for joking.

It hadn't been as difficult to explain as the wicca thought it might. Faith, as it turned out, was a good listener. She didn't interrupt every five seconds to ask a question or make a stupid remark like some of the potentials did back at the house. When Buffy thought it was only right they should all know how dangerous magic can be, how powerful and evil Willow could become if she let it take hold of her again. She'd been annoyed at the blonde slayer for making her take the floor in the first place, was even more annoyed at the interruptions coming from the younger girls, in awe of Willow, but mostly wigged out from imagining a dark haired kick-ass version of the kindly redhead they'd all been looking up to. At least Kennedy hadn't interrupted, or asked awkward questions like how it felt to have that much power. It felt amazing, Willow wanted to say when one of them eventually found the courage to ask her, for that was the truth. She'd discovered most things that are really really bad for you, actually make you feel really really good at first. Extra sugary extra caffeiney mochas are her favourite but always give her huge mind numbing headaches after she drank them. The sticky stuff she likes to lick off the glazed donuts Xander always buys would one day rot her teeth, but that didn't stop her from being the first one to dive into the box. And the magic that courses through her veins every day, that has to be controlled every minute because of where it might lead her to, makes her feel so alive, so powerful and real in the moments she uses it, that nothing else on Earth can even touch it.

She couldn't tell that to the rest of them. They'd definitely start to freak, or freak more would be the accurate term. None of the girls have stopped wigging out since arriving in Sunnydale, and meeting all the Big Bad that had also come to town. So Willow kept that part of her story to herself, not even telling Buffy because she knew her best friend couldn't handle hearing the truth sometimes, and the slayer needed her strong again. Not feeling like she could share it with Kennedy yet, even though the two of them had gotten through a couple of scary magic moments already. She couldn't even admit it to Xander, the boy she'd been telling her secrets to ever since kindergarten when he stole her Malibu Barbie doll, sealing their fates together for eternity.

The one person she could tell the darkest parts of her story to, who she could reveal the darkest parts of herself to, had ironically turned out to be the girl she had hated during high school. The girl she would have found any excuse to not speak with back then. The girl who had turned into the woman before her, too many lines on her young face betraying the hard life she's had to live. The pain hidden deep in brown eyes which reminded Willow of what she sees reflecting back at her, each time she looks in the mirror.

There was silence between them again. Faith couldn't meet Willow's gaze, now that the wicca had finally stopped talking. The dark haired girl had a million thoughts rushing through her head, none of which made sense enough for her to grab on to one, and slow it down. She wanted to know what kind of world allows a nice kid like Red to get so fucked up she tries to destroy it? Was it even a world worth saving? And where were the rest of the Scoobies when this was happening? Faith couldn't believe that they all sat back, and impassively watched their precious Willow go to hell and back. Though they didn't mind kicking back and see that happen to me, the brunette thought, not liking the sudden clarity her racing mind found. Remembering a time when she knew the kind of darkness and power Willow talked about. Knew it, embraced it, and was its bitch for a while. She also remembered how her darkness and power made the others feel around her. How it had turned some of them on, and left others quaking in their flat-footed shoes. She remembered a not so gentle caress in the dead of night. A fleeting brush of soft lips against her own then a more insistent tongue. Leather getting hot, getting moist, a hand reaching inside and just taking what it wanted. Only to be followed with denial when the sun came out, making the streets safer again, and it was time to face up to what they'd done. Time to do the right thing, but Faith hadn't, had she? And where were the Scoobies through all this? Where was B when she needed her? Just like Red must have needed her and the blonde wasn't around. How the hell she could call herself a hero when she'd failed to save her best friend and her one time…

… "Faith, you're crying." Willow's voice was tinged with surprise. Seeing the brunette across from her retreat into herself hadn't fazed the wicca, after all that was typical Faith behaviour from the old days. Seeing the slayer suddenly go teary eyes on her was definitely not typical Faith behaviour, Willow thought.

"What?" Faith barked at her. "No I'm not!" She quickly wiped at her eyes, denying she felt her fingertips wet when she pulled them away.

"Hey, it's okay," Willow thought quickly how to salvage the situation. She could see the slayer was about to bolt, or slam her, one of the two, and neither option was acceptable to the redhead.

Pale hands slid tentatively across the cold metal table top, freeing the packet of Marlboro's the slayer had begun fidgeting with and setting it aside. Taking the now empty hands firmly in her own, Willow ignored when Faith protested 'Hey' a little too loudly not to go unnoticed in the crowded diner, and held on even firmer when the brunette made a feeble attempt to pull physically away from the intuitive wicca.

"I said it was okay. I mean, maybe not what made it happen in the first place is okay, 'cause generally, random displays of emotion coming from a slayer not always of the good. But the fact that it happened in the first place, and there was slight leakage in the eye region, that's okay. Okay?"

Willow sounded like the spaz she knew in high school, Faith thought. Getting used to the soothing presence of the redhead's hands holding her own. Liking the small signs of old Willow because they only served to compliment the new Willow.

"Okay." Faith finally responded, itching to light up a cigarette, but not quite wanting to let Willow's hands go either.

"Have to say Faith," Willow smiled at the woman opposite her. "Didn't see that coming."

The brunette smirked in return. "Neither did I. Guess we're even now."

"And you came to that radical conclusion how?"

"Both of us have been badass chicks in the past," Faith began. "And both of us have gone girly in here and done the crying thing. That makes us even in my book. Oh and Red, if you tell anyone I went misty eyed…"

Willow interrupted her. "I know I know, you'll slayer pound me. Like that scares me anymore."

Faith raised a surprised eyebrow at her and received a non-committal shrug from the redhead.

"And you're wrong, you know?" Willow offered.

"Wrong about what?"

"We're not even yet." Willow paused, her face going serious again. "Because you haven't kept your half of the deal."

Finally Faith removed her hands from Willow's, the redhead frowning a little as she did. A deal is a deal after all, and the slayer was never one to go back on a deal, but damn it if it didn't feel daunting now that she had to fulfil her side of the bargain. She wasn't sure Willow was ready for her confession, but that wasn't it really. Faith realised that she wasn't ready for it herself. She reached for the discarded pack of Marlboro's, rolling one around in her fingers before finally placing it to her lips, taking long deep drags when she lit it up. The ritual was comforting to her, probably annoyed the hell out of Red though. Who was sat eyeing the slayer carefully, watching her play for time taking long inhales, blowing the smoke out in small rings, which did look kind of cool.

"You want me to show you mine, huh Red?" The dark woman couldn't resist one last tease, and the flash of red to the wicca's pale cheeks didn't exactly surprise Faith, nor come as an unwelcome response.

Reigning in thoughts that were definitely way out of place in a dirty greasy diner, plus being way out of line when she considered there was another dark haired 'slayer' waiting for her back home, Willow fixed the brunette opposite her with an honest stare and responded.

"No Faith. What I want you to do is tell me why the change of heart? Why the hero trip back to Sunnydale with me?"

"You complaining I'm here Red?"

"No, of course not. I'm just curious to know what makes a rogue slayer with appalling dress sense like you…"

"Heh!" Faith protested.

"My turn to finish, I think. What makes bad-ass Faith go Clark Kent all of a sudden?"

Willow raised her eyebrows in challenge, daring the slayer with a look to come back with another smart remark.

But Faith was past that now. Something in the wicca's demeanour had scratched the surface of Faith's well protected, well guarded emotions, and tugged at what was inside. Maybe it had happened during the redhead's story, maybe before that when they were driving, when she used Willow's real name for the first time. Whenever it happened didn't really matter now anyway, Faith had let herself open up a little in the wicca's presence, and it was only fair for her to know why.

"Okay Red, you wanna know what changed me?"

The redhead nodded.

"Well like you, it all started with a cute blonde chick…"

"…Buffy Summers – she's something ain't she? Hits you when you first meet her. I mean you know that, right? You know that there's something special about the girl the minute you start up a conversation. And I don't mean the whole chosen one shit, 'cause no one ever pegged me for anything other than a bitch with a mean right hook. I'm talking about that thing B has that no one else comes close to. That thing that floors you the second you realise what it is. When you know your life has changed, and it ain't never gonna change back."

Faith paused, finding it harder than she thought she would. She looked at the redhead opposite her, a vague understanding showing in her eyes. And why shouldn't there be? Hell, B had altered Red's life pretty much irrevocably too. Bet when she met the ex-cheerleading slayer in high school, she didn't expect to try and kill her one day, Faith thought absently. She looked again to Willow, who wasn't offering her anything other than her thoughtful green eyes.

"You're not going to help me out here, are you?" the slayer asked, knowing what the answer would be.

"Uh-uh." Willow replied. "This is the Faith Story Hour, remember. Besides, you're going to be glad you told me once it's over."

Faith wanted to tell her to go fuck herself, because that would mean there is still some remnants of the old Faith hanging around. Red could go shove her little Miss-know-it-all smile, the slayer thought. Only it was more of a compassionate smile than that, had something of the "I know what you're going through" about it. When Faith made to scowl at the wicca, the dark haired girl just couldn't pull it off, and amazingly she could feel those sharp fine needles sting her eyes again.

"I wasn't expecting it." Faith finally continued. "Being chosen, coming to Sunnydale, meeting all you guys. And I really wasn't expecting to meet B. At least not expecting what I'd feel when I met B. I still don't know how it all happened, you know? How it went from the two of us slaying together, to her trying to slay me. Almost succeeding slaying me," Faith absently ran her hand over her stomach, where her tight black vest hid the three-inch scar B had left her with. "I know you all thought I'd gone psycho, hell maybe you all thought I was psycho before the Mayor ever came along, but I swear it didn't start out that way. And I tried to do everything I could to reverse things and be the slayer you all wanted to see. Be like her, but she wouldn't let me. And that only made things more whacked. I knew I should stop. I knew there were huge amounts of pain going around, and I was causing most of them. But I just couldn't stop because she…she…"

It happened slowly. Against the slayer's will tears started falling from her eyes, because her commands of not letting that happen weren't being listened to. She blinked furiously, trying to make them stop. Her heart pounding, as emotions she'd kept bottled up for years started to spring forth, and Faith wasn't sure how to deal with them.

"Just say it, Faith." Willow's soothing voice jerked the brunette back to the here and now.

Willow nodded encouragement to her, almost whispering a second time. "Just say it."

Faith looked Willow in the eyes, finding pity and understanding there. It was what she needed in order to swallow back the painful tears, and finish what she started.

"She wouldn't love me. I wanted her to, and she knew I loved her, but she wouldn't love me."

Faith took a deep breath. Her hands were shaking slightly, and there were a few stray tears running down flushed cheeks. But apart from that, she thought, she felt amazingly okay, when deep down she feared that something terrible would happen to her if she ever confessed her love for Buffy Summers to another living person.

Because something terrible had happened the first time she'd confessed it.

Willow wasn't sure what to say, or even if this was a time where words were needed. The slayer had just put herself totally on the line, and the wicca didn't know what reaction she'd have if she offered some empty sounding words of comfort or tell her that it didn't exactly come as a huge surprise to hear Faith had been jonesing for Buffy back in the day. Lots of things suddenly fell into place, the redhead realised. About the love hate relationship between the two slayers. Faith's crossover to the dark side as Xander always called it. The way Buffy would practically have a coronary, each time the dark slayer's name was mentioned back then. Her cold, ruthless feelings towards Faith at the end, when Angel needed saving. What Willow was wondering now, what she desperately wanted to ask the now calmer slayer before her, was what actually happened between her and Buffy, all those years ago.

Faith read the question in Willow's green orbs, and although she didn't exactly want to carry on down this painful path, that included all kinds of weird shit like tears, and emotions, the slayer knew Willow was right when she said she'd feel better once it was over. And she wanted it over now.

"It happened that same night. That night I killed Finch. I knew I was spiralling down, out of control. Just like when I was a kid back in Boston, finding trouble even when I didn't go looking for it. This time though, there was someone finding trouble with me, and it just made my feelings all the more strong for her. But we both know that B is really a good little girl at heart, and that badass attitude she displayed for a while never suited her, right?" Faith paused, wondering if Red wanted to dispute her observation.

Willow wondered what Faith would make of the new and improved Buffy they brought back from the grave a year ago. The one that had taken command of a bunch of scared, pretty much useless teenagers, and turned them into an army. She decided that Faith could make of her what she wants, once they were in Sunnydale, for now she wanted to hear what Faith made of her back then, so said nothing and let Faith carry on.

"She came over to the motel, afterwards. Freaking out. Just as a slayer should over a human casualty, just like I should have been. But I was in shock, or denial or something, 'cause my brain wasn't listening to her, and my body was having all sorts of weird shit happening to it. Like shaking, and my breath was all short and patchy, and my heart was pounding. All that though could have been down to B being in my room. You remember that feeling don't you? With Tara, I mean…"

Willow could only nod, remembering all too well how it felt to be in the same room as her lost love.

"Well, I didn't know what I was supposed to be feeling at that point. And it seemed the only way to get B calmed down was to do something as equally out there as kill a guy, so I kissed her. And she kissed me back. And I ain't telling you what else we did that night."

Faith started to sound more like her old self, she could finally see the end of the tunnel she'd drove herself into, and like Willow had promised, there was a glimmer of light there.

"What about in the morning?" Willow enquired softly.

"In the morning it wasn't me doing the 'get some, get gone' act. And it really felt like she left me no choice but to go all homicidal on her life, on her friends. She had the power to stop me, you know? And I don't mean with a knife. She could have saved all of us a lot of pain if she'd only…" Faith still choked on the words that sounded alien coming from her mouth.

"Loved you." Willow helped her out.

A sharp pang of pity hit the wicca hard, it was like being punched in the stomach. She thought of all the mess left in Faith's wake, and how it might have been avoided if her best friend could have found the courage to return Faith's feelings. Like she can find the courage to do almost everything else in her life. Even sacrifice herself. She could manage that, but not try and love the beautiful woman sat opposite the redhead now. Willow sighed thinking that sometimes, most of the time, life didn't make any sense at all. Of course she was only hearing one side of the story, so she should really refrain from judging Buffy too harshly. But Willow was feeling more than a little camaraderie with the fallen slayer, had been from the get go in LA now that she thought more seriously about it. What with them having that murder-destroyer-of-worlds thing in common, admittedly Willow's trumped Faith's attempt by far, but still, it made the redhead feel something she hadn't felt for Faith before. She thought it might be empathy for what the slayer has been through. She definitely knew there was an element of pity present, even before hearing Faith's confession just now. She'd even thought she had a little blip on her gaydar, which she'd never really thought worked but the young Kennedy swore by it. Either way, she felt more inclined to go with Faith's side of things, until she heard from Buffy herself, that the dark haired slayer had forced herself upon her and had her wicked way. Much as Faith was a badass back then, the wicca knew that scenario could never have happened, Buffy proved she won't let that happen to her.

"So there you have it, Red." Faith offered. She was leaning back in her booth, slowly lighting another Marlboro, looking tired but relieved. Unmistakeable red rings around her eyes that would be gone soon enough, and no one would ever suspect that Faith, the badass slayer, could have cried.

"There I have what?" Willow asked, not satisfied they'd come full circle.

"My story, my confession. The little piece of me you wanted, so you'd know I'm not the stone cold bitch you always thought I was." The slayer was acting a little testy. Opening up about B and realising in a couple of hours she'd be face to face with her old lover (not that you could really call a one night stand a lover) had put Faith in a bad mood.

"You know that's not the reason why I asked," Willow was ignoring the appearance of the old Faith, which now they'd shared so much together, just didn't ring true to her anymore. "And I don't understand something." Her fair brows arched in a puzzled frown, Faith was sufficiently intrigued to respond.

"What don't you understand Red?" Only slightly sarcastic with her tone, the slayer thought she'd explained things pretty well for her.

"Well I get that it was Buffy that made you go…grrr!" She made a growling noise in the back of her throat and scowled, trying to look menacing. "And I can understand how that could happen, after all she's got this habit of doing that to the people she sleeps…er, has relations with…" The wicca corrected herself, ignoring the harsh stare she was receiving from the slayer. "But I still don't understand what made you change. And I'm sorry to be repeato girl over it, but it's just that there are so many of us seeking redemption now, it's getting to be like a club motto. And everyone's got their reasons, what with Angel's curse, and Spike's jonesing for Bu…buttery popcorn" (that was close, Willow thought) "And then there's Andrew, though I'm not convinced he is really seeking redemption, and is actually hanging around 'cause he has a crush on Xander. Then there's little old me who, guess what? Almost destroying the world leaves you with a lot of making up to do. And then there's you, good slayer gone bad then gone good again."

Willow seemed finished, though you can never tell with the redhead, Faith forgot that Red did babble as well as the blonde slayer. She stubbed her Marlboro out, having smoked it down to the filter as Willow went off on a tangent.

"Who the fuck is Andrew?" Her rough voice asked, hoping that if she gave the wicca enough time, she'd figure the whole thing out for herself.

"Oh he's like this über-geek that killed his best friend and tried to take over the world. But not in that order, now he lives with us and makes pies." Willow frowned, there was probably a better explanation for Andrew, but heck if she could think of it right then.

"Okay," Faith drew the word out, thinking a lot had changed since she left Sunnydale.

"Tell me again why I'm headed back to Insane Central?" She commented, more of a throw away remark than an actual question.

Willow shook her head in response. "No Faith, you tell me."

Isn't this over yet? Faith screamed inside, getting a headache, whether from the bad coffee she'd been drinking for an hour now, or the amount of nicotine she'd inhaled in that same time. She suspected however, that the sudden dull throbbing in her head was from Red's tenacity at not letting a subject drop. Those big green eyes of hers looking all pleading and sympathetic, and goddamnit kind of beautiful, despite the bad lighting and the tell tale signs of lack of sleep around the edges. Faith thought she saw in Willow what Tara had seen, was surprised to find herself seeing that actually. Now definitely was not the time to be getting involved with another powerful chick from Sunnydale.

Okay, well at least get it over with quickly this time, the slayer warned herself. Glancing briefly at the expectant look to Willow's face, rolling her eyes at the expression.

"You know about me and Angel right?"

"What?" Willow replied. The shock in her voice matching the shock on her face, Faith realised her mistake.

"No, not like that. Jeez Red, I know I'm fucked up but I wouldn't do that to B. At least not a second time." She ignored Willow's sceptical eyebrow raising and continued. "I meant it was with Angel's help that I turned myself in. Went straight, if you like that term better. Oh and sidebar – going straight in any sense of the word is wicked difficult to do in prison, but that's a story for another diner." The dark slayer curled her ruby lips into a lascivious smirk with her words, leaving the redhead with little doubt what she meant. "Well Angel did help me out," Faith continued. "But it wasn't because of him why I stayed locked up. Even though deep down soulboy thinks it is. Fuck it though, he had a small hand in it, and I'm not about to shatter his illusions of B and tell him the truth, so he can think what he likes."

Okay where exactly is this telling it quickly? Faith asked herself, getting very tired of the sound of her own voice now.

Here it goes.

"I'm coming back with you, and I'm trying to do that thing Angel's always going on about…" Willow looked puzzled. "You know, atone. Is that the right word?" The wicca nodded, surprised Faith had picked up the term. "Yeh, well I'm atoning for the same goddamn reason I fucked it all up in the first place. For B."

The redhead hadn't been expecting that. Did Faith think she still had a shot with Buffy?

"Don't get me wrong," Faith carried on, putting the wicca on edge as she read her mind. "I don't think B is gonna welcome me back in to her arms, and tell me she made a mistake."

Phew, the redhead thought, ignoring why she cared so much how Buffy would respond to Faith being back.

"But I do want to see her, and tell her that I'm sorry. And explain to her, just in case she's been feeling the tiniest bit of guilt over me going insane slayer, and believe me I actually do hold her responsible for part of that – well alright, for all of it – so just in case the slayer has felt bad about that all these years, I want to tell her that she's also been my reason for staying locked up, and doing good. She's the reason why I didn't kill Angel when I could have, and why I didn't go back to the darkness that's inside me always. Why I'll never go back to that. 'Cause she's Buffy Summers, man. And she changed my life. For the worse at one time, but for the better, when I finally got rid of the huge chips on my shoulder and realised…"

"When you realised what?" There were tears in the green eyes opposite her. Faith sounded so sincere, so passionate when she mentioned Buffy's name.

"I finally realised it's okay to love her and not have her love me back. That's enough for me to feel like I have a place in this crappy world. Enough for me to repent and atone and those other things Angel has patented. I love Buffy Summers, so what? We all love Buffy. That's what's so special about her. That's what gives her the power to change our lives. Only some of us deal better than others. I dealt badly in the beginning. And I want to show her that now…now I can deal better."

Thank fuck for that, Faith thought. It's over. She made to lean back in her booth, not realising that at some point during her little speech just then, she'd lent across the table and taken hold of Willow's hands again.

How the hell did that happen? She thought, noticing for the first time how the wicca had let a few tears brim over from her eyes. Slowly they drew a crystal path down her pale skin. Faith let go of one of Willow's hands, and cupped the cheek where the trail of tears left its wake, wiping another one gently away as it fell from sad green eyes.

"Why are you crying?" Her voice sounded alien to her, she never knew she could be so gentle.

Willow swallowed hard, fighting the urge to cry harder. Faith's hand felt warm against her skin, her touch tender. Something she never thought she'd feel from the slayer.

"It's not fair, any of it."

Faith didn't really know what Willow meant, she didn't think the redhead knew either. It was one of those empty complaints you make every once in awhile. Empty because there was not enough magic in the world that could change that hopeless cry of 'it's not fair'. No, life isn't fair, but it's real and it's here, and it's what you make it. That was Faith's philosophy anyhow.

"So what are you going to do about it?" The brunette gently asked. Both hands were back to holding the redhead's, a callused thumb rubbing over the tops of pallid knuckles, having a very distracting effect on the rubbee.

Willow looked into deep brown eyes as she answered, her heart notched up a gear when she did. Huh, that's strange, she absently thought.

"There isn't anything you can do about it." The answer wasn't the optimistic, hopeful one the Willow of old would have given, but it didn't sound as miserable as the Willow who had earlier spoke of her dead girlfriend with such sadness in her voice.

"Sure there is," Faith responded, edging closer over the table.

"There is?" Willow moved a little nearer to the brunette.

"Yep."

The two women were very close now. Staring intently at the other, letting their eyes drift down to moist lips, back up quickly to the safer arena of eyes. Eyes that flashed something dangerous and exotic in both the dark and the light pair.

"Life is what you make it, Red. The past few years have taught me that. Taught me something else too."

Distracted by the musky scent that was the slayer, Willow replied. "What would that be?"

Faith waited a beat before responding. "Life's about taking risks. Like in a few seconds I'm going to kiss you."

"You are?" Willow didn't pull away at the notion the slayer noted.

"Ahuh. And there's risk involved because I don't know what you will do in return."

Faith leaned closer still.

"I think," Willow started to breathe heavily. "That there is a very high probability I'll kiss you back."

"See I wouldn't know that though, but I'm willing to take the risk of kissing you and seeing what happens, 'cause that's what life is all about. It's taking risks, and being in the here and now. Life is what you make it."

Faith paused, holding herself inches away from the redhead's very enticing, very red lips. Was she really going to do this?

"Faith?" Willow's voice was barely above a whisper. "Kiss me already."

The slayer didn't need telling twice.

Oh my goddess, thought Willow, this is it. This is really it. I'm going to let Faith kiss me. This is so bad. But it feels like it's going to be so good.

The redhead's thoughts stopped mid-flow when she closed her eyes, waiting for the brunette's lips to touch her own. She decided thinking distracted her too much and she didn't want any distractions when Faith finally lent in and kissed….

"Oh no you don't!"

What the fuck was that?

Both women thought, as they were forced apart by the din the fat waitress was making, slamming her coffee pot down on the table, scowling at them both. Her expression was a mixture of disgust and self-righteousness. She knew there was something wrong with those two girls.

"I don't care what you people get up to at home, but we're having none of that here. Get out!"

"What?" Exclaimed the wicca, finding it hard to comprehend such out-right bigotry. "You're kicking us out for drinking coffee?" She decided to be facetious in return for the waitress' attitude. The brunette opposite her smirked, her anger slowly racking up a notch. That fat bitch coming in and ruining stuff between her and Red, just when it was getting personal.

"Don't you be smart with me young lady. I saw what you were doing." The waitress started to flush a bright shade of pink.

"And what was that exactly?" Willow enquired.

"Look, I'm not after trouble here." The waitress' voice dropped to a low threatening tone. The hairs on the back of the slayer's neck pricked up on hearing it. If this bitch didn't want trouble, Faith thought, she was sure going about it the wrong way.

"Why don't you and your little girlfriend take this back to the sewer? Where dykes like you belong."

The waitress straightened up, pleased that she could see a small pang of hurt cross the green eyes of the redhead. Pity she wasn't looking at the darker eyes at the table. Faith didn't take kindly to insults, and no way was she going to let this bitch get away with calling her a dyke. And besides, she'd upset Red, and that really made her pissed.

"Hey, listen you fat bitch." The slayer stood up, Willow followed muttering uh-oh under her breath, and the waitress took an intimidated step backwards.

"What did you call me?"

"You heard, or does your ignorant fat ass have a hearing problem as well as a bad attitude?"

"Er, Faith?" Willow tried to interject, the situation was in danger of spiralling out of that control both she and the slayer had been boasting they could handle now.

"You can't speak to me like that," protested the waitress, flushed and shocked at the menacing tone of the young dark haired woman.

"Gee, I think I can." The slayer balled her right hand up in to a fist, driving it in her left palm as a way to keep her rising anger under check. "Now, you owe my friend here an apology."

"I do not." The fat woman responded, the indecency of the proposal clear in her voice.

"Oh I think you do." Faith stepped up closer to the large woman.

"Faith?" Willow tried again.

"Not now Red." The slayer almost barked back, and then lowered her tone to a menacing whisper, as she looked up at the now very scared, and very still waitress.

"You're gonna learn some respect. Apologise."

"Actually Faith, I think she's learnt enough for one day. See she's sorry." Willow nodded to the still silent, still not moving waitress. "We're leaving now."

"We are?" Faith was more than a little perplexed by all this, watching as the redhead rather hurriedly slammed some change down on the table, gathered up her purse and passed Faith her cigarettes.

"Yes we are." Willow was half way to the door by now.

"But this bitch deserves a lesson." Faith protested, following the wicca reluctantly, casting mean dagger stares back at the woman who still hadn't met her gaze.

"And she's getting one," Willow muttered under her breath, trying to act natural as the pair of them drew curious stares from the other diners.

Willow held the door open for Faith, who passed through it, throwing the redhead a curious expression. Then the redhead whispered something in Latin and the waitress was released from the inertia spell Willow had cast. She watched her look around, wondering where those two little dykes had run off to.

"Hey!" Willow yelled to her from the open doorway, drawing her attention from the back of the diner. "Your coffee tastes like shit!" She wished she could have come up with something not so, well Faith-like, but it served its purpose. The fat waitress was fuming, she started to make her way past the tables to where Willow stood, the wicca was surprised not to see steam coming from the woman's ears.

"Run!" Willow yelled.

She beat Faith to the car, only because it was taking the slayer a few moments to process what Red had done in the diner, and who was chasing after them now. As soon as Faith slammed her door shut, Willow hit the gas pedal, speeding past the diner entrance to see the waitress yelling at them from the doorway. The slayer wound down her window, stuck out her arm and gave the annoying woman the finger.

"Sucker!" She yelled at her, though Faith doubted she'd been heard, as the wicca was spinning them out on to a thankfully empty highway.

When they were driving at a less suspicious speed a few miles down the road, the two women looked at each other, both of them finding it hard to contain the laughter that wanted to break out. It just took a stray smirk from Willow and both of them were laughing so hard tears streaked down their faces, and an ache started in their stomachs. The wicca had to pull over in case she caused an accident, though the road was still deserted.

Eventually the laughter subsided, and they each took in deep breaths to calm themselves. It felt good to find release like that, they both thought. After the events of the evening, what they'd both admitted to each other, laughter seemed the only way to go. The alternatives were just too scary to think about.

"Nice move back there." Faith offered, feeling a little self-conscious in Willow's presence now. After all, they'd almost kissed.

"Thanks." Willow smiled shyly, wondering who was going to bring their almost kissage in to the conversation. "And thanks for getting all defendery back there." She continued, putting the car in gear again and pulling off. "Very much the butch," the redhead nodded to reiterate her words, not really teasing but hoping Faith would pick up on the meaning behind her words. She might have known the slayer wouldn't.

"No problem Red, didn't want her getting the wrong impression, you know?" The slayer responded, making herself a little more comfortable by placing a foot up on the dash in front of her.

"What impression would that be?" A nest of butterflies just woke up in Willow's stomach, fluttering around like crazy.

"Oh, you know. She thought me and you were..like..hooked up or something." Gee, that was articulate Faith, she chastised herself. The pounding of her heart must have distracted her.

"Yeh," the redhead quickly adopted the same incredulous tone as the slayer. "Like that would ever happen." She cringed, not intending to her hurt Faith's feelings, but damnit, she was taking the lead from the brunette girl.

"Right," Faith agreed, a sinking feeling joining the heart pounding. "I mean, no offence or anything Red, but you're not really my type." Fair hair, pale skin, green eyes, no not my type at all, Faith tried to kid herself.

"Offence not taken." The butterflies turned in to stones, now sitting heavily inside the wicca. "I mean dark hair, dark eyes don't really get my juices flowing." Bad analogy Will, she told herself. Thinking of a young woman, smaller than the one next to her, but with equally dark exotic looks, and fuck, who was Willow trying to kid?

"So we're good?" Faith eventually asked after a silence enveloped the car, threatening to swallow it whole if one of them didn't break it.

Willow sighed, knowing there wasn't any other way for this to go. After all, she had Kennedy, whom she did genuinely care for, and Faith had, well she didn't exactly have Buffy. But there were definite issues needing to be faced when the two slayers met again. There really was no other way for this to go.

"Five by five Faith." Willow finally responded, making the brunette smile, her dark eyes growing softer with the gesture. A wave of desire washed over the wicca, then was quickly banished with thoughts of what awaited them in Sunnydale.

There were no words left to say between them, and they settled in to companionable silence, not so tension filled and heavy as before. Faith went to turn the radio on, looked for approval from the redhead first. Willow didn't mind the distraction and nodded her head. The slayer found a different station to the one they'd been listening to before, some cool guitar filtered through the car's speakers, joined by a rough smoky voice.

'Don't miss the diamonds along the way

Every road has led us here today

Life is what happens while you're making plans

All that you need is right here in your hands'

The slayer looked down at her empty hands, one resting on the thigh not propped up against the dash. She wasn't surprised when a pale hand slid across and took it in her own. Entwining their fingers and squeezing gently as the song faded down.

'All that you need is right here in your hands'

Maybe, thought the slayer. Closing her tired eyes, leaning her head back against the window, the comfort of Willow's hand in her own, sending her off to a peaceful sleep.

Just maybe that was true.

The end