I cannot believe her. She hasn't changed one friggin' bit, and she's already had another run-in with the cops. It's like we never left that night we got arrested four friggin' years ago. Buffy fumed as she stomped her way back to the house. She'd called Willow and told her the whole group was going to have an emergency meeting. She'd come to a decision: now was the time to act. She didn't care if they agreed or not.
Buffy knew she had jumped to conclusions about Faith and Easton, but she could not deny the strong surge of jealousy and rage that flowed through her when she saw the two in a semi-embrace. Maybe she was just being friendly. Why do I even care? Another voice in Buffy's mind spoke up You like her, duh. Oh, right, feelings. Ugh, again with the why can't things be easy?
Buffy rushed through the front door of her house and up to her bedroom to calm down before Faith made it back. Little did Buffy know, Faith was back, but keeping her distance. She sat on the front porch, sulking effectively.
As the numerous potentials, demon fighters, Scoobies, and guestages made their way to the living room, Easton slipped out the front door bumping into a gigantically tall black man on his way. He noticed Faith sitting on the low wall looking miserable; a fresh bruise blooming on her cheek.
"Want one?" Easton offered Faith his pack of cigarettes after he took one out for himself. Nodding silently, Faith slipped one for the pack and held it to her mouth for Easton to light. Both with fresh cigarettes in hand, Easton exhaled slowly taking the seat across from Faith on the wall.
"Rough time with the cops, eh?" Easton stated, making light conversation.
"Oh yeah. Great times." Faith said sarcastically. Easton grimaced.
"I'm guessing that goose egg near your eye isn't from the pigs."
Faith ashed her cigarette. "Nope, just from someone who thinks she's a cop."
Easton nodded knowingly. "Huh, Buffy. She always like this? I mean, I just met her, but she seems, uh..." he paused searching for the right word. "Ardent."
Faith laughed, "You mean that in a 'she's really passionate about what she believes' way or a 'she's over zealous and needs to calm down' way?"
"Both." Easton grinned a little and took another puff of his cigarette. "You know," he exhaled, "you strike me as a person who would've lied about knowing what I meant just then." He paused to put out his cigarette. "To a certain group of people who name themselves after a seventies cartoon, perhaps."
Faith couldn't help but smile when she caught eyes with Easton. "Is that so?" Easton nodded, returning the smile. "You read me pretty well then, I guess."
"It's kinda what I did before I came here. I worked as a peer counselor at the shelter I used to live in." He shook his head. "It seems like there's a lot between you and Buffy." He nodded his head toward the house.
"Yeah. A lot." Faith put out her cigarette too. "I tried to kill her." She paused to think about this before she continued. Easton was easy to talk to for some reason. "Well, not really kill her so much as destroy her life, I guess you could say, but I didn't."
"I take it you don't want to do harm like that anymore?"
"Nope," Faith said nonchalantly. She took a deep breath and spoke more seriously. "I'm not that person anymore. I fell into darkness for a while, was a badass vampire slayer and got caught up in. Spiraled. Shit wasn't pretty."
"I know what you mean by not being the same person you were in high school." Easton's eyes twinkled at his joke. "But in all seriousness, you should be proud that you're here. You're here doing something good. Not a lot of people can say that." Easton decided to take a chance on a hunch he had. "It's obvious you care about her." There was no need to specify which 'her' he meant. "She'll come around when she eases up on some of her ardent-ness."
Faith smiled again. "It'll be a long time coming...but thanks." The two remained silent for a moment. "You've been through some darkness yourself." Faith questioned, but mostly stated. After a somewhat surprised look from Easton, she added, "I read people, too."
Easton nodded, biting his lip. "That obvious?" He sighed. "Yeah, rough stuff." Easton pulled up his t-shirt, exposing his soft abs and chest with long scars running on either side, below his nipples. He pointed to a tattoo of what looked like sheet music running down the left side of his ribcage,starting from just below his armpit to his scar line. "This is for every year I'm clean. Each of the staffs are for each year; from a different song line that really helped me." He pointed at each musical staff noting the song title. "This is from the first year. It was awful. It's the notes from 'If I Ever Leave This World Alive' by Flogging Molly." He pulled his shirt back down.
Faith was touched that the potential had shared so much with her. "I see two lines, so two years clean?" Easton nodded. "Wow. What were you doing, if you don't mind me asking?"
"I don't mind, but thanks for checking," he said with another smile. "Crystal. Kennedy knows a little bit about that stuff, but not really." The two looked solemnly at the ground. "Well," Easton got to his feet. "I think we might wanna head back in. It was great talking with you, again, Faith." With a grin Easton headed back inside leaving Faith to follow.
Buffy finally descended the stairs when Xander made his way back into the house from the hospital. Faith and Easton had already taken their seats waiting for the meeting to start. Easton tried to catch Faith's eye, but ever since the blond came in sight, Faith had her eyes fixed on the floor in front of her, her jawing clenching and unclenching nervously.
"The cellar, Caleb's place, something's there." Buffy announced to the group. She had their rapt attention. "We're going back in."
"You've gotta be shitting me," Anya mumbled to herself.
Ignoring Anya's comment, Buffy continued, "We've spent all this time worrying about the seal and the Hellmouth. Why isn't Caleb guarding them? Why doesn't he have someone there protecting it? Why is he camped out at the vineyard?" She searched the room, waiting for someone to respond. She knew they wouldn't.
"The bad guys always go where the power is. So if the seal was so important to Caleb and the First, they would be there right now. They're protecting the vineyard or something at the vineyard. I say it's their power, and I say it's time we go in and take it away from them."
Buffy let this sit with the group until she heard the raspy voice of the other slayer behind her. It was the first time Faith had looked at Buffy the entire time she'd been in her presence. She looked perturbed.
"Or...how 'bout we don't."
Buffy spun around to glare at Faith
"It's a neat theory, B. Maybe it turns out okay, but maybe it doesn't."
Buffy could not believe what was happening. Faith was challenging her authority right after their altercation at The Bronze. And Giles was siding with her? And...everyone else? This was becoming too much for her. One minute Faith is making moon eyes at me and the next she's turning against me? Same old fucking Faith. I cannot believe the others are siding with her.
Faith looked like she might throw up and knock out five people at the same time. Buffy's voice got louder as she fought with Giles about Spike. Easton, noting Faith's affect and Buffy's temper rising, jumped in.
"Buffy, you're being reckless. I know I don't know you, but it's evident." He tried to show concern on his face, but the other potentials jumped in, taking his words as opportunity to attack the Chosen One. Even Willow stood up to say her piece out of worry for her friend.
The energy in the room rose rapidly; everyone in the room shifting nervously and uncomfortably. Some were angry wishing to fight with Buffy, others just wanted to dip out unnoticed.
"You really do think you're better than we are."
Buffy mind immediately flashed back to when Faith had just killed the Deputy Mayor, back in the last moments Buffy considered Faith a friend.
"You're not seeing the big picture, B. Something made us different. We're warriors. We're built to kill." Faith was trying to get through to Buffy that things are different for the Chosen Ones. Buffy looks petrified, the fear welling in her eyes.
"To kill demons! But it does not mean that we get to pass judgement on people like we're better than everybody else!" Buffy felt like she was about to cry.
"We are better!" Faith yelled back, exasperated. "That's right. Better."
Buffy crashed back to the present. "So that doesn't make you better than us. it makes you luckier than us." Anya concluded.
"I'm still in charge here!" Buffy yelled, feeling like the walls were moving in on her.
"And why is that exactly?" Rona, another potential, asked from her seat on the couch.
"I'm the slayer," Buffy supplied in a childlike voice.
"Isn't Faith a slayer too?"
Buffy laughed audibly at this. She turned to Faith, "Oh, you are just loving this aren't you?"
Faith stood and squared her shoulders, preparing for a fight. "You have no idea what I'm feeling."
"You just come in here and take what you want. You did it before, did you guys know that?" she asked as she turned back to the group. "She used to kill people for fun! You guys like that in a leader?"
Easton's hands were incredibly clammy. I can't believe Buffy is spiraling like this. She needs help. I doubt she's the type of person to open up, though. She doesn't even realize that she has one person who could completely sympathize with her. She just treats her like shit. Like right now for example.
Sensing the groups' decision to name Faith the new Slayer in Charge, Buffy tried desperately to change their minds. "I can't stay here and watch her run you into some disaster."
At this, Dawn spoke for the first time. "Then you can't stay here."
With a last fleeting glance around the room, purposefully avoiding Faith's guilt-ridden gaze, Buffy stormed out of the house, grabbing her coat on the way. Faith looked up from the interesting spot on the floor and caught eyes with Easton. Go his eyes said. Faith rushed out the door behind Buffy.
Tears flowed freely down Buffy's cheeks when Faith came out behind her. She knew it was Faith without even looking at her. She could feel the guilt, sadness, and care radiating from Faith through their connection. "Don't...be afraid to lead them."
Faith reached out to touch Buffy's shoulder. The Californian pulled away like she had been burned. The surge of emotions concentrated into Faith's grasp was too much for Buffy. "Whether you wanted it or not, their lives are yours. Please." Buffy sighed deeply. "Don't follow me."
Leaving Faith behind to shed her own tears, Buffy ran from the house, her home in Sunnydale for seven years, at a sprint.