Oz's head snaps up as Spike and Buffy walk into Giles Apartment. He cocks his head and then stands up to close the curtains and blinds, Buffy helps. Willow looks at her boyfriend and best friend, confused. "He's a vampire." is all Oz says in explanation, a matter of fact as if stating Spike was blonde. The teens all turn to the kitchen when there is sudden clanging coming from it. Xander bursts from the kitchen, barbeque fork in hand, holding it in front of him as a weapon.
With raised eyebrows, Buffy crosses the room in three strides and grabs the barbeque fork from Xander. "A, I told Giles to invite Spike in, which means don't attack him. And B, this is metal, what were you going to do with it? Piss him off by stabbing him?" Incredulity dripping from Buffy's voice. She turns to Spike, "Would you put this back in the kitchen?" he nods and takes the proffered barbeque fork from her. "Everyone else, sit down; I am only going to say this once." She waits as Oz, Willow, and Xander sit on the couch, the latter perched on the edge as if preparing to flee. Giles makes his way to the comfy chair. When they turn to her, she starts talking again. "Yes, Spike is a vampire. No, he does not have a soul, and no, that doesn't matter. Last night Giles gave me those potions to hear someone's thoughts temporarily, Spike and I drank them. He isn't going to hurt any of us. He's bagging it from the hospital." She pauses to look at everyone's faces. Oz looks calm like he figured as much by him being here. Willow looks concerned, but not scared. Xander looks like he swallowed a lemon. Giles looks confused like he can't place something, then she remembers, "Oh, Giles, you've probably read about him. He used to go by William the Bloody, he killed two Slayers and was a part of Angel and Drusilla's group when he was turned." Giles starts, after blinking a few times he removes his glasses and begins to clean them.
Xander's mouth opens and closes a few times. Like he's about to say something but can't decide what. Oz surprises everyone when he speaks, "Ok. If you trust him, so do I." When everyone turns to him, shocked and confused he continues, "He might be a vampire, but I'm a werewolf. So, if Buffy trusts him, that's good enough for me. I mean you guys have to lock me up 3 days of the month, so it's not like I can judge." Buffy beams at him, grateful that he's on her side. And as Willow sees her best friend light up and feels the calmness from her boyfriend she lets go of her doubts.
Willow stands up and hugs her friend. "It's good enough for me too." During the hug, she lowers her voice so only Buffy can hear her, "I'm going to listen to what you said yesterday. Your love life is your choice. I haven't seen you smile like that since Angel left." When Willow goes to sit back down Buffy is confused, she doesn't know how her friend can see there's a romantic piece to this already. However, as the words sink in, she smiles at her friend, grateful that she's sticking to what they talked about during the spell. Xander takes a breath as he's about to speak, Willow kicks him in the shin.
As Spike walks back into the room, having heard a lull in the conversations Xander starts again. "Ow! I was going to say that while I don't like this, I'm going to work on accepting it. That last night I came to realize my issues with vampires come from having to stake Jesse. That seeing how some of them can control it, staking him feels like a betrayal. And that I wished I could've staked Darla myself." Willow looks guilty for having assumed he was going to be a jerk and kicking him. She reaches out and squeezes his hand, she smiles when he squeezes back and releases her hand to turn towards Buffy. "So yeah, I can't promise I'm going to be perfect about him being here, but I'll try. I just hope that's enough for now." Buffy smiles at her friend, remembering having to stake Ford two years ago and then remembering Xander having to stake his friend within a few days of finding out about vampires. She understands where his feelings are coming from and hopes he can start to heal now.
When Spike heard Xander mention Darla he nearly flinched. "Darla always was a right bitch. Can't say M' sorry to hear she's dust. Am sorry you had to stake your mate. Staking someone you know is never easy." His eyes go distant, remembering his mother. Buffy places a hand on his bicep, concerned. He blinks and covers her hand with his own, enjoying her warmth. He smiles at her reassuring her he's fine. She smiles back and lets their fingers intertwine as they drop to their sides. Giles and Xander's gazes follow their hands-their connected hands.
Giles has been quiet this whole time. Absorbing all of this information. "While I can't say I'm thrilled you're starting up with another vampire, I see I have no place to object. You are the slayer and an adult; I need to treat you as such. I have come to understand that I have many years of watcher teachings to unlearn. Per-perhaps Spike might be able to help with a new understanding of vampires?" He looks at the vampire in question. At first, Spike is startled by the request, but he looks down at Buffy, seeing a hopeful face, remembering how last night Buffy had mentioned this watcher was like a father to her. He nods his head at the question, signaling his agreement. Giles continues, "Very well then, I must say one thing though, if you hurt her, you will wish for the mercy of being dust." Spike can feel a chill going through his spine and Giles' stare. Can see how much he means it.
Spike can feel the demon shaking at the idea of hurting Buffy. At the thought of scratching that light and power it feels so connected to. He looks Buffy's surrogate father in the eye for this next statement, showing in one look how much he means what he's about to say. "If I hurt her, I'll hand you the stake myself." He can feel a tug on his arm and looks down at Buffy. She looks thoroughly displeased at the idea of him going anywhere. He brushes a lock of hair behind her ear and presses a kiss to her temple, reassuring her he's not going anywhere. He knows that the biggest sin in a relationship with her is abandonment, and he also knows he will never do so willingly. Buffy and Spike feel like they have known each other forever, it's cheesy and cliche, but the spell last night allowed for hours of total honesty, any question asked had an honest answer, whether they liked it or not.
Buffy takes a deep breath. She and Spike had talked about this for a while last night, and he helped her come up with a solution to a big problem she'd been ignoring. "There is something else we need to talk about guys." Buffy can feel the tears pricking at the back of her eyes. She has the group's undivided attention. They can all see the next part of this conversation was going to be hard and serious. "We need to wake Faith up." Willow and Xander's faces go slack, Oz's eyebrows shoot up and Giles begins to rub a hand over his forehead. "Look, guys, I know that none of us are big Faith fans, but we need to help her. She had no one, and I'm pretty sure she was beating herself up about that man's death more than anyone, but she didn't want anyone to know that. She was alone her whole life until coming here, and I stabbed her in the gut." she broke off with a sob. Spike pulled her to him, letting her cry against him for a moment. When she got control of her herself Spike kissed the top of her head and turned her around in his arms. Her back leaning against his chest, his arms covering hers where they rested across her waist. She surveys her friends, seeing the guilt and concern warring on their faces. She continues before someone else can start. "I know she did bad things to all of us, and I know she can be dangerous, but so can any of us. We all forgave Xander after the love spell that made everyone crazy two years ago. Giles is still a part of the group even after Egyhon showed up and I almost ended up with a tattoo. And no one blames Oz for trying to kill us three nights a month. I have made plenty of mistakes that have led to people getting hurt, or worse." she strains to get that last sentence out, thinking of the people who died because she couldn't stake Angelus sooner, or how she just left for months, leaving her friends to handle the Hellmouth alone.
Everyone looks down, knowing the truth in her statement. Giles doesn't want to, but he asks the question anyway, "What would you suggest we do if she doesn't want to cooperate? If she insists on trying to harm you or us?" Buffy's face falls for a moment, Spike seeing that shoots a death glare at Giles. Spike rests his chin on Buffy's shoulder, she leans her head against his.
"I really don't think Faith will fight us if we treat her like one of us. All she really wanted was to be a part of this group." Buffy's voice is sad, resigned. She perks up a little with her next remark. "But I suppose if we can't get her on our side, we could always feed her to the Slayer of Slayers." Everyone looks at her in alarm, Xander and Giles' faces turning 3 shades of red. "Guys, I'm joking. We'll have to cross that bridge if we get to it, which we won't" she finishes her statement firmly. Leaving no room for questions. Giles and Willow start looking through some remedy books that might help her wake up.
The group has been looking over books for a couple of hours, planning to wake Faith up tomorrow. Buffy had finally agreed to go home, shower, change, and check on her mom. It took some arguing from Spike and Willow saying he would behave and that she would make sure Xander, and Giles behaved too. Buffy finally comes back to the apartment, her hair still wet and her eyes red. Spike could tell she'd been trying, but he could also see she was happy, so she must've had a good conversation when she checked on her mom. He appreciates the tight crop top and black skinny jeans she was wearing. She walks over to the table smiling at the group, feeling a peace settle over at fixing so many of the burdens that have been sitting on her shoulders. A shiver ran down Buffy's spine as Spike's cool fingers landed on her exposed midriff. Spike's fingers burn at her heat.
There is a sudden, insistent, knock at the door. Everyone glances around, unsure as to who that could be. Giles walks over to the door, glances back to make sure Spike is out of range, then opens the door. A tall young man with floppy blonde hair stands there, fidgeting. "Hi, is Buffy Summers here by any chance? And may I come in?" he glances around as if checking for a tail. Giles turns towards Buffy who shrugs, signaling she doesn't know who the man is either. Giles steps aside, giving the visitor room to pass, without verbal invitation, though the sun is out, one can never be too sure. "Thanks." The man intones as he walks inside.
Buffy steps forward, wary of the stranger who knows her. "Who are you, what do you want, and how do you know me?" She levels a stare only slayers and some mothers could manage. Everyone watches him, his Adam’s apple bobbing with his nervous gulp.
He straightens out, "I am Riley Finn. I was, or technically am, a soldier in the initiative. I was hoping as the slayer you would help me shut it down. After that beating, you gave to my squad last night we had to admit that the slayer was real. Some of us also saw the experiments happening are actually torture. They may be subterrestrial, but they're still sentient. Others have become more volatile, prone to violence and killing the hostiles. I asked around about a strong but small blonde girl and your name came up a few times." Oz subtly shifts backward, not liking what this guy is saying. Xander and Willow look on appalled, standing in front of Oz as if they could shield him. Giles is cleaning his glasses. Buffy, well, Buffy is getting held back by a Spike who is barely restraining his own temper at the realization that Buffy had saved him from not death, but torture, and worse.
After a minute Buffy calms down enough that Spike lets her go but keeps a hand at the small of her back. The contact easing his ire. When Buffy speaks, her voice a wash of restrained violence, "You mean to tell me that last night you planned on kidnapping Spike and doing experiments on him? Experiments you've been doing to other living and unliving beings?!" Riley nods hesitantly, suddenly wondering whether coming unarmed as a sign of goodwill was really the smartest choice. Buffy takes a few deep breaths and starts again. "You are going to sit down and tell us everything. You're going to give us entrances, passcodes, how many people we should expect, and what kind of weapons we're up against." Giles has already moved to grab paper and pen to begin taking notes. Buffy can see Willow grabbing her laptop to take notes as well as look things up as the information is relayed. She smiles and laughs a little as she sees Xander return from the kitchen with the barbeque fork from earlier and hand it to Oz. With a small nod, Oz takes the offered "weapon", amusement barely contained.
When everyone is prepared Riley gives all of the information he has. Willow and Buffy learn that Professor Walsh, who would be their psychology teacher in a few days, is the head scientist at The Initiative, and Riley will be her TA. The Initiative is a government program that catches and experiments on demons, they make weapons, and want to make more. The soldiers are being drugged without their knowledge, or were, until yesterday. And lastly, Riley admits that Walsh is working on a secret project that the majority of the soldiers don't know exists. Riley knows it exists but doesn't know what it is.
Spike has been quiet since Riley showed up be he knew it had to be said. "I don't think we can wait to wake this Faith bird up. We have to know if she can help us with this and getting her up to speed is gonna take some time." Buffy nods her head in agreement, having been thinking the same thing herself. Willow looks a little scared, but she grabs a couple of charm bags with herbs in them.
As she hands them to Buffy, she explains how to use them, "You'll need to put the petals around her head in an arc. A-and you pour the other one over her stomach. After that, it should be a matter of minutes before she wakes up. The herbs should have a calming effect, so she should be somewhat relaxed. Be careful Buffy." She holds her friend's hands, emphasizing the last sentence. It had been decided Spike and Buffy should go alone, they could both handle themselves if Faith flipped out. The sun has gotten low enough that Spike can get to where Faith is being kept.
Buffy and Spike walked at a quick pace on their way to Faith. Spike carries the charm bags in his duster, Buffy has a small backpack with some clothes for Faith. Buffy smiles mischievously as she slows her pace a little, letting Spike gradually become to be a few feet in front of her without his notice. When she sees she has enough space she takes a step and jumps, wrapping herself around him. Spike stumbles but doesn't fall. He looks over his shoulder and his nose bumps Buffy's. He laughs with her. She fixes her legs around his hips and lets her arms fall over his shoulders, her palms resting on his chest. He settles his hands under her legs, adding extra support. He just chuckles at the fact that he's giving the slayer a piggyback ride. She kisses him on the jaw and lets her chin rest on his shoulder, mimicking his actions at the apartment earlier.
When Spike and Buffy are outside of Faith's room, he lets her down. He turns his back to the door and puts his hands on her shoulders. "Are you ready for this?" Buffy closes her eyes and takes a deep breath, then nods her head. They head into the room, and Buffy fights tears at seeing Faith in that hospital bed. Spike hands Buffy the bags so she can arrange them as Willow instructed. After Buffy finishes placing the herbs and petals she leans in and places a light kiss on Faith's forehead. Buffy fidgets as they wait for her to wake up.
Faith begins to move; she inhales deeply and her eyes open. She blinks a few times, eyes unadjusted to light after months of nothing. She sits up and looks around, her eyes landing on Buffy and Spike. Before Faith can say anything, Buffy takes a step forward. "I brought you some clothes." When Buffy holds the bag out Faith looks at her warily but takes it anyway. Buffy gives a faint smile and continues, "After what happened, you went into a coma. It's been 3 months. And before you say anything, you need to know how sorry I am for what I did, and that I forgive you. I know that probably makes no sense, but I have been doing a lot of thinking for the past couple of days and I can see why you did what you did. You're my sister slayer, and I hope we can be friends again, I want to be friends again." Buffy had watery eyes, but she didn't care.
For a moment Buffy's worried that Faith isn't going to react the way she hopes. But then something she hasn't considered happens; Faith breaks down. "I'm so sorry B. You tried so hard to be my friend and I screwed you over. I just kept dreaming and seeing all of it, how wrong I was. How much you wanted to be there for me, but I pushed you away." Buffy hurried over to Faith and sat on the bed beside her. Faith curled into Buffy, letting herself be held by the one person in the world who cared enough to fight for her. Buffy looks at Spike over Faith's head, her eyes conveying the same shock and concern his hold, the same realization. During the truth spell, Faith had been stuck in her mind, forced to see all of her buried truth in technicolor.
When Faith calms down, she wipes her eyes and starts grabbing clothes out of the bag. Buffy glanced at Spike again, he nodded and stepped outside, allowing for some privacy. Buffy helped Faith up, her muscles weak from inactivity. She got her dressed and then they headed into the hallway. "Tame another vamp, B?" Faith drawled as she looked Spike over from head to toe. Spike through his half-smoked cigarette on the floor and crushed it under his boot. He pursed his lips, blowing out smoke. "Damn, you sure know how to pick 'em. Blondie here might even be hotter than the last one." she let out a low appreciative whistle.
Buffy laughed at the remark. "I guess I did, didn't I? Faith, this is Spike. Spike, this is Faith." Buffy gives Spike a quick kiss, humming at the taste of the smoke on his lips. She doesn't know why she likes it on him when she usually despises the smell and taste, but she wasn't about to protest.
Spike glowered at the two girls. "Who you calling tame?" both of the girls look at him for a moment before bursting into laughter. "Ok, ok. Let's just head back to the watcher's place and get this show on the road." Faith's face falls at that. she looks scared, ready to bolt. Buffy reaches over and grabs her hand, gives it a squeeze, along with a reassuring smile.
With a nod Faith allows Buffy and Spike walk her Giles' apartment. When the three of them walk inside everyone stops. It's a moment before there is any movement. Finally, Willow turns and walks into the kitchen and comes back with a plate. "I m-made you a sandwich. I thought you'd probably be pretty hungry after the, ya know, coma. It has turkey, lettuce, tomato, bacon, and mayo on it. Do you like mayo? It would be too dry without it, but I don't know if you actually like mayo or not. " She takes a breath and turns her head to Oz, "You're supposed to stop me when I do that." He smiles and shakes his head.
Faith takes the plate from Willow and smiles hesitantly. "The mayo is great. Thanks for the sandwich." She moves towards the table to sit down. Everyone else in the room slowly moves to sit around the table, Buffy and willow sitting on either side of Faith. The group catches Faith up on the past few months and the issue of The Initiative. She raises her eyebrows, "Woke me up in time for the action, nice gift, B." Buffy gives her a small guilty smile, though they had explained they were planning to wake her up before hearing about The Initiative, they are still happy to have her help for this.
The group plans until dark. Riley going to The Initiative, not wanting to raise suspicion by a prolonged absence. Willow, Xander, go with Oz and his van, getting a ride home. Spike heads towards the hospital to nick some blood bags. Then to the motel, he's staying at, needing to change, sleep, and feed. Buffy and Faith walk over to Buffy's house.
When they go inside, Joyce comes into the living room. Buffy had called earlier and asked if Faith could stay, so her mother is prepared. Joyce gives Faith a warm smile and a hug. After a moment of hesitation, Faith hugs Joyce back, happy to feel safe for the first time in a while. Even though she's been in a coma for months, Faith is ready for some sleep. Joyce takes her upstairs into the guestroom where she will stay for the foreseeable future. Buffy heads upstairs and grabs some extra PJs and gives them to her sister slayer. After a quick hug, the two go into their rooms, exhausted and ready for sleep.
She changes into her own pair and crawls into her bed. She can't help but feel Spike's absence as she's trying to fall asleep. Tapping on her window a few minutes later informs her that he felt it too. She smiles as she opens her window. "Spike, please come in." She says formally, with a horrendous attempt at a British accent. Spike shakes his head at her as he takes off his boots and duster.
He makes a shooing motion with his hands. "To bed with you, I'll be there in a sec." He smirks as he removes his t-shirt slowly, letting her appreciate his show of abs and muscle. He walks over to the bed in three quick strides and slides in beside her. She lets out a breath as her head rests on his chest, finally relaxing. Spike allows his arms to come up around her, holding her to him. He leans down and whispered in her hair, "Goodnight, Buffy." he drops a kiss on her hair as she murmurs her reply, already half asleep. He joins her not a minute later.