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Of things that are not...

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Summary: Christmas in Sunnydale, Season Four. Buffy, despite having a loving mother and close friends, is feeling the effects of the holiday blues. And then... Faith shows up? But, but... isn't she supposed to be in a coma during Xmas of S4?

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
BtVS/AtS Non-Crossover > General(Past Donor)DreamSmithFR131024,2886246,83622 Dec 0725 Dec 07Yes

Everthing is fluffy and good and nice; really.

Disclaimer: Buffy belongs to Faith, Faith belongs to Buffy. I belong to a pair of fairly adorable housecats.




They were walking through Sunnydale, a wary distance between them. Buffy knew that Faith was dangerous, and she wasn't about to let the other girl get in a surprise attack.

"I'm not going to hurt you, you know."

Faith gave her a faint smile.

"I mean, if I wanted you dead, I could have just stood and watched, back there in the graveyard."'

Buffy frowned.

"Sure. And maybe you saw that I was going to beat your vampire friends, so you jumped in to 'help' me, and get me to trust you." She was still keeping a close eye on the younger Slayer. "I didn't actually see you dust that last one, either. Did you send him off to report to your new boss?"

Faith sighed.

"Buffy.... I don't know what I'm supposed to say to you. Yeah, I was a bad guy. I hurt people, I killed people." She held the other girl with her gaze, and Buffy saw an unexpected depth of pain in those dark eyes. "But you guys won. You beat me, put me in a coma, stopped the master plan." She swallowed, and went on in a whisper. "You killed... him." Shaking her head, she cleared her throat loudly. "Isn't that enough for you?" She started to reach out with one hand, but Buffy drew back. Lowering it, Faith looked away.

Buffy was trembling on the edge of an adrenaline overload. There had been months during which her every waking moment was filled with the need to find Faith, to stop her. She had been afraid that the other girl would hurt her mother, or Giles, or her friends. When it was finally over, it had been an incredible relief.

Now she was back, and those old reflexes were back too, as strong as ever.

Every combat instinct she had was screaming at her to strike now, while her enemy was distracted. Faith was completely open, she wasn't on guard against attack at all. If Buffy struck now, the younger girl would never be able to stop it in time.

Faith had to know that, but she was doing it anyway. Leaving herself vulnerable on purpose. Buffy couldn't figure out why. Whatever the rogue Slayer was up to, she had learned to be sneaky. They were approaching Giles's place now, maybe he would be able to figure it out.

~~Shift~~

Buffy jumped away from Faith, staring at the other girl, then frantically scanning the darkened street around them for any movement. Faith had paused to look at her, a puzzled expression on her face.

"What's wrong?"

The blonde Slayer was shaking with reaction, rubbing her hands up and down her arms to try and ease the chill that had wracked her, just moments before.

"You didn't feel that?"

The other girl was watching her carefully, sparing their surroundings only a cursory glance.

"No. Nothing." She looked like she wanted to step closer, but she didn't. Just as well, Buffy was as nervous as a frightened cat.

Something had happened, again, some kind of ripple... thing. Only she couldn't see anything, or anybody, that was doing it. Besides which, it didn't seem to have done anything, either. Except give her a panic attack. Breathing deeply, she shook her head.

"Never mind. C'mon, I want Giles to see you."

Faith nodded, turning to walk ahead of her up the sidewalk to the ex-Watcher's building.

"Okay, but you should know." She gave Buffy a look over her shoulder. "He's already seen me."

"What?"

Buffy was too stunned to come up with a wittier response. Faith climbed the steps, her voice coming back to the older girl clearly.

"Yeah. He was there, at the hospital, when I first woke up. He's been helping me with getting back into shape, too."

They had reached his door, but Buffy made no move to knock.

"Giles... has been helping you?"

Faith nodded.

"Uh huh. He's really not too lame, either. For a normal guy."

This was too much. Buffy knocked. Hard.

The door opened, and Giles was there.

"Buffy." He took in the two of them standing there. "And Faith. Well, I see you've met up again at last." He gestured them inside, and Buffy was distracted enough that she went first, giving the other girl a shot at her back, if she cared to take it. Apparently she didn't. Buffy made it most of the way across the living room before stopping to whirl and face him.

"Okay, what is going on?" She jabbed a finger towards the other Slayer, her hand trembling with her effort to restrain herself. "You've known that she was awake, you've been helping her train?" She shook her head in helpless disbelief. "I can't believe this. I can't believe you've been hiding this from me." She stared at him, unable to hide her hurt. "You promised me that there would never be another lie between us, that I would never have any reason to doubt you, ever again. Now you do this to me?" She stared at the dark-haired girl, feeling the familiar, jealous hostility rearing up inside. Faith was back, all right. Back to old tricks, stealing away the bare handful of people that Buffy could love, and that loved her. Buffy stared at the two of them, the Slayer and the former Watcher, and the fire of her anger turned sullen and bitter.

Faith was standing next to Giles, and they exchanged a look before turning their heads to face her. He gestured the younger girl into a chair and then leaned against the stair railing.

"Buffy, you know I would never do anything to hurt you. I value your trust, our friendship, too highly to ever risk them again. I never lied to you, about her status. You've not mentioned her to me in months." He had the grace to at least look uncomfortable. "I simply... delayed informing you of her improvement."

"Oh, that's cute!" Buffy glared at him, all but snarling the words. "What if she'd gone after Willow, or Xander? What if she'd just killed you and skipped town? I wouldn't have had a clue about what was going on unless she signed her name in your spleen!"

He gave her a disapproving look.

"Buffy, that's enough." He glanced over at where the girl in question was sitting quietly, listening to them talk about her.

"Obviously Faith has recovered. I think it's time you two returned to working together as a team."

Buffy stared at him in disbelief.

"Hello? Having fun on the crazy world, there? It's Faith! You know, the psycho killer?"

Sitting in her chair, the other girl looked at the floor, her long, straight hair spilling forward to hide her face. She didn't say anything. Giles glanced at her, and then turned a disapproving look on Buffy.

"You might try just a bit more tact, you know."

She couldn't believe he was siding against her. She still couldn't believe he had hidden this from her.

"Tact?! Are you going to use tact against her when she drops the 'oh, I'm all good and sweet now' routine and starts again with the body count? Or is it going to be just me going after her again?"

He was apparently at a loss for words, but Faith looked up.

"No."

Buffy looked at her, and the other girl didn't look away.

"No, you won't have to come after me, Buffy. I'm not going to be fighting you.." Her voice was low, but it carried a weight of conviction that the older Slayer had never heard before. "I won't fight you, ever again."

Buffy blinked. Well, that sounded sincere all right, but Faith had lied before. She must have been practicing. Giles found his voice.

"I've spoken with her, at great length. More than that, I've watched her." He looked down at the girl sitting next to where he stood, and his eyes were pitying. "I believe she truly has changed."

Buffy was shaking her head before he even finished.

"No, no, no Giles! Not good enough."

Silence filled the room for a long moment, and then something spoke.

What would be enough, Buffy?

She felt herself grow pale. That voice hadn't been heard by her ears.

"What?" She whispered.

What would you have her do, to prove herself? I'm not sure there is anything she could do, that would make you believe. So what now?

It was a woman's voice, so soft that even though it was whispering straight into her mind she had to concentrate to make it out. Faith was looking up, now, and Giles had the strangest look on his face. She looked around, slowly.

"Okay, now you guys did hear that, right?"

Faith nodded, and Giles gave a smile.

"Oh, yes. I heard her. I'm afraid that's another secret I've been keeping." The look he gave her was not very apologetic. "This is a... personal matter, but I have no objection to your knowing, especially as she's decided to speak to you."

Buffy had been trying to recall where she had heard that particular voice before, and now she felt her eyes widen.

"Giles, I know who that is...."

He nodded.

"It's Jenny."

Faith was looking around curiously.

"A ghost? Cool." She seemed disappointed, somehow. "Can we see her?"

He nodded, moving to the far wall.

"Under certain conditions, yes. Here, let me just--"

He flipped off the light-switch, and the room was suddenly dark. Or nearly so, anyway. Diffuse pools of moonlight dappled the floor, the windows admitting the pale rays. After a few moments, there came a brightening, and Buffy found herself staring. Silvery light was swirling in the center of the room, gathering itself into a slender human shape. Pale, pale skin, a clinging dress of hazy light that glittered softly in the darkness. Her dark hair framed a face that was ethereal in it's beauty. There was a subtle strength in that face, and more sadness than anyone should know.

It was Jenny Calendar.

Hello Buffy.

She was stunned for a moment, then she took a wary step back, a mocking smile playing on her lips.

"Oh, look. The big, bad, First Evil is back to play."

The spectral form of the dead woman stared at her with dark, sad eyes, saying nothing, but Giles shook his head firmly.

"No, Buffy. I remembered your description of how the entity appeared to both you and Angel as Jenny, so I've investigated this quite carefully. This is, without doubt, Jenny Calendar."

He sounded absolutely certain, and she knew he had ample reason to be suspicious of such visions. The idea that this really was the spirit of the dead teacher was, in it's own way, more disturbing than if it had been just a terrifying demonic specter. She and Jenny had not parted on the friendliest of terms.

"Giles, how could this happen?"

It was the ghost that answered.

I've been close to Rupert since the.... Since that night.

Buffy closed her eyes. It had been her fault that Angel had still been alive, in his evil incarnation. Her fault that he had found Jenny alone, and killed her.

Just... recently, he found a way to let me manifest. I'm very glad that I can, now. It's lonely where I've been.

Buffy opened her eyes, fumbling for the words she wanted to say, the apology she owed the woman.... But Jenny wasn't looking at her. She was looking at Faith. The dark-haired Slayer was still sitting in her chair, but her eyes were on the ghost. Slowly she stood, and just as slowly she moved to stand before the softly glowing form. Giles came and put his hand on Buffy's shoulder, leaning down to whisper in her ear.

"She can only communicate, or form a body in the presence of moonlight, and the phase of the moon affects the strength of both. During the full moon, her body is for all intents and purposes, fully, ah... corporal." She glanced up at him, her suspicions confirmed when she saw that he was blushing. Despite the strangeness of the situation, she found herself smiling.

"I'm happy you got her back, Giles. I'm happy for you both."

He nodded, his eyes locked on the ghostly form of his lover.

"Thank you, Buffy."

Faith was standing face to face with the woman who had died long before she herself had arrived in Sunnydale. Buffy watched, curious. There almost seemed to be some kind of private communication between the two of them. They stared into each other's eyes for a long minute before Faith's lips moved silently, shaping a few words that Buffy could not hear. Then the younger girl raised a hand to gently brush the ghost's hair, before turning and walking across the room. Jenny turned to face Buffy.

I know you have reason to distrust her. She knows this too, and she's not expecting you to forgive her in a minute, or a day. Those pale lips quirked slightly. I've told her that you don't forgive easily, when you've been hurt, or lied to. Buffy felt herself flush, but didn't look away. All I can say to you is please, give her a chance. I think you'll find that she's changed.

With a last smile, this one for Giles alone, she faded from view. He stood for a moment before moving to turn the lights back on.

Buffy and Faith looked at each other from across the room. Neither spoke. Giles looked from one to the other, then cleared his throat.

"Tea, anyone?"

* * * * *
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