When Faith came out of the living room, her face was set in an expression not anyone could read. What one would think was barely a smile, someone else would think was barely a frown. When she opened her mouth to speak, Xander already knew what she was going to ask. How? He himself really wasn't sure.
"I really don't want to ask this, but..." Her voice trailed off, and she thought for a second. Like she was trying to figure out what exactly she wanted to say next. "I was.. wond... I was..." She knew she probably looked like a retard, and she cursed herself for even thinking about it, but she had no where to go, and no where to stay. Especially with the cops out to get her. And even after all she'd did to him and his friends, he was helping her. He trusted her to go into his own home; he trusted her in his living room without going in with her.
"You can stay."
When relief claimed her expression and he noted that she quickly masked it, a smile crept over his lips. Maybe the next few days would be a little more interesting than he thought. But a million things that could go wrong flashed through his head, but he brushed them off. He would think about them later. Right now, he needed to help Faith.
And help Faith, he would. Or try to.
"You'll have to stay in the basement, before the parental units start asking you for rent. I've got a couch you can sleep on... but that's really the best I can give you."
"I've had worse." She looked at him for a moment, going through the million ways she could thank him, and not being able to go with any. So, she decided to do it the... hard way. "Um, thanks. For everything."
She looked at him for just a little longer. No, it wasn't 'nothing'. It was everything. The most anyone's bothered ever doing for her... and this was a guy she tried to strangle the life out of, no less. She had many more thank yous to give, but right now, she needed somewhere to think. Especially about the video she had just watched and what she was going to do.
"Where's the basement?" She asked, and he pointed down the hall in answer.
"Be careful, the steps are a little non-secure."
She gave him a nod as her departure and went in that direction, taking the tape and its package with her.
He was right about one thing: the steps were definitely not the most secure. But she was sure they wouldn't fall, so she went down them one at a time, light as a feather. Her eyes took in the sight of the basement and it wasn't all that bad. Yeah, crappy, depressing, sure. But she'd been stuck in a hospital room that looked ten times worse than this. She could more than deal.
Sitting down on the couch that was now going to be where she slept until she figured out what to do, Faith finally had the chance to think about all that happened that day. She could finally take in and grasp everything. The mayor, his death, highschool exploding, getting stabbed and put in a coma... and most of all, this video the mayor sent for her.
She opened up the package, trying to scrub away the sadness and guilt that flooded her mind, and pulled out the gizmo that came with the video. The one in the box, the one that would allow her to "go out with a bang".
She fiddled with it for a little bit, being careful not to break it. Examing its parts. It was interesting, no doubt. A funny shape and an almost scary look to it.
She could bet that what it did, was even scarier.
The morning after, Xander approached Faith where she sat on his couch. Knowing that the brown-headed girl stayed awake that night, he decided to do the same. It's not that he didn't trust her enough to stay there while he was asleep, he just didn't trust her enough to think that she wouldn't skip out in the middle of the night.
The coma girl was pondering the realism of the 'Survivor' re-runs, arms wrapped around her very thin stomach, trying to ignore the hunger pains that raped her insides. They always seemed much stronger in slayers from what she knew. Hunger pains were never this bad for her when she was a child. She would've asked Xander for something to eat but she just couldn't ask him for anymore help. She went without food for a lot longer than this as a kid, not that she didn't get fed in the hospital, just liquid through tubes couldn't last her body system very long.
"Say, you're not growing a demon in that tummy of yours, are ya?" Like he couldn't hear *that*. He knew from experience what hunger pains sounded like on a slayer, like thunder or... an earthquake. Or maybe a mix between the two. After being around Buffy for so long, he was accustomed to the sound - at least when he went on patrol with her. After a good staking or two, his best friend was the picture they put up in the dictionary next to the definition of 'hog'.
"I'm just hungry. Uh..." Faith trailed off, releasing a sigh. She regretted what she was going to ask next. "There was some money in the clothes I took yesterday. You don't mind if I go out, get something, do you?"
The guy that took her in - if you really wanted to put it that way - appeared to actually think about that. He didn't think he was holding her hostage, did he? Like a prisoner? Bullsh-
"The cops are definitely looking for you by now, Faith. There's plenty of food upstairs, and you're staying here, so you're more than free to help yourself."
"At least let me pay your parents."
"They're not the ones that bought the food." She frowned at Xander's reply. Yeah, buying food for the people that were supposed to be buying food for *you* was really a drag. "And like I said, you're staying here. Save the money for an emergency."
She opened her mouth to protest, but quickly shut it at the caring look he gave her. Caring. Yeah, right. She brushed off the thought of it. He probably thought he was doing a good thing; keeping people safe by keeping her here.
"Yeah - Whatever." Grabbing the remote that lay next to her, she switched the television off and stood up, making her way up the stairs of the basement that resembled her hospital room and into the kitchen.
"Gee, Xander, that went well." He whispered to himself in a mock-tone of voice, watching Faith depart from his oh-so-wonderful living conditions. He wanted her to think she was welcome here, no, more than welcome. He wanted her to trust him - he trusted her. But unlike most bonds he'd made in the past, the one with Faith would take time to build, and it would be fragile. He didn't want to screw up like he had before.
And this meant many changes in himself, too. Maybe it would work out for the both of them, help the both of them.
Who was he fooling? He lived in his parent's basement, unemployed, while his friends were away at college, for englishmen's sake. He would never be able to take care of Faith the way she needed to be taken care of, the way she *deserved* to be taken care of.
He couldn't even take care of himself.
"You're that new female friend of Xander's, aren't ya?"
Fantastic, she thought, as her eyes took in the sight of Xander's *clearly* drunken father. He was standing near the fridge, near her *food*, with a bottle of liquor in one hand and a bottle of beer in the other. What did he do, mix 'em together? She'd seen her mom do that before, before she took all of the pills...
She quickly tossed the memory aside, seeing as how Xander's dad was staring at her, with a very nauseating grin. One she'd been the victim of plenty of times before.
"You can say that." Thinking this situation could be best handled with light conversation, she asked "And you're his lousy father, huh?" She bit her tongue after the words escaped her mouth. Thinking the guy was going to get angry she prepared herself for an attack, but he only stared, before bursting into a chuckle. Leaving the girl confused.
"As he is my lousy son." The man replied, giving Faith the knowing feeling that Xander's dad and herself weren't going to get along too well. "You're a quick one." The dad of the year added, turning his back to the gyspy-haired slayer as he pulled open the door to the fridge. He reached down for something and came back up with another bottle of booze.
"The question is, just *how* qui-" The man shut up at the promised death behind the female's eyes. A mixture of amusement and slight fear crept over his spine. She was just a little gal, not much, but she still held the most frightening gaze he had ever seen in his life. Well... one of the most frightening gazes.
"Gonna move out of my way?" Faith asked, her voice rising a few octaves. When the man began to say something, she reminded herself that he was letting her stay here. Masking her anger, she lowered her voice. "Sorry. I'm starving. You know how a lady can get when she's hungry. Mind if I fix me a sandwich or something?"
"Help yourself." The drunkard replied, sending a sleazy smile her way as he moved out of the way, or rather, *stumbled* out of the way.
"Thanks." At least I remembered my manners, she thought to herself, trying not to think about what would happen when she was a kid and didn't mind herself.
"And who the hell is she?" Before she could even reach the fridge, Faith spun around to look at the person who was the cause of such a shrill voice. Could she not eat without having to be yelled at? She watched the red-headed woman storm past her, actually *pushing* her out of the way.
Twice as fantastic! This was Xander's mom.
Jessica Harris, the mother who was never meant to be, approached her sorry excuse for a husband. Not even caring if he hit her or smacked her around. It never amounted to the pain she felt when she would walk in on her husband with another woman. Even if she had so many times before. It just would never stop.
"I'm gone for a few hours and you've already got-"
"Mom!" Faith let out a sigh of relief as Xander ran into the room. He must've heard the yelling. "That's Faith. You know, the one I told you was staying here for a couple of weeks."
Everyone turned to look toward her, the mom with a look of distaste, the dad with his sleazy grin, and Xander - who was the only one who looked apologetic.
"I'm just trying to get food!"
Meanwhile, at Giles' place, worry was written on everyone's faces. Just receiving a call from the hospital, Buffy learned about Faith's escape and announced it to everyone there. Mixed emotions were how the blonde would define herself right about now. She wasn't sure what to think. Firstly, Faith? Big evil girl. But if Buffy wanted to think outside the council-defined box, Faith? Just a girl. A girl she stabbed and put into a coma. So she was responsible. She was The Slayer, after all. She needed to protect people, and if Faith was back to her old ways, well - there was a lot of protecting of the innocents to come.
"Okay, so - we find her, talk to her. We don't know where she is or how she's feeling. So we'll need weapons. Just incase. We need to make sure everyone's safe, first. *Then* we find her. We'll need to try to get in touch with Xander, warn him before he gets back. Giles, I want you to stay here for the night. Call people you know, ask if they've seen her. Willow - you and Oz, I want you guys looking for her. But stick to daytime. Less likely chance of her showing up, but I want to keep you guys safe. Faith's dangerous, especially if we don't know what kind of mental state she's in."
The red-headed wicca raised a small hand. She never liked Faith much, what with all of the stuff she did to Buffy and herself, so she didn't find this search-for-faith, no pun intended, to be that fun of an idea.
"Willow?" Buffy asked. She liked her plan just fine, but she knew how Willow felt about Faith. It was only the friend in her to listen.
"And if we don't find her? Wh-what if she attacks us? We can't just sit around all, 'Look at us, hiding inside, all afraid, free for attack-"
"We *find* her." The slayer's voice was stern. She was serious about this. It was a fragile thing. If Faith was evil, then she had to deal with a slayer that had a hell of a grudge against her. If she wasn't, anything they did could drive her over the edge again.
"...Okay." Willow replied, a frown appearing on her face as she surrendered. "But if she picks us off one by one, don't say I didn't tell you so. 'Cause, I told you so."
"Someone call Xander's parents. Ask him if they know where he is." Buffy ordered, looking straight at Giles as she said this, in which he nodded his agreement.