Warnings: mention of f/f relationship *gasp*
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Characters: Willow, Faith
Prompt: Willow, hesitant over her new involvement with Kennedy, gets encouragement from an unexpected source. (no Kennedy bashing)
Spoilers: Buffy season 7
Timeline: Set after "Empty Places". Kind of set in the middle of "Touched", but also AU for that episode.
Summary: Willow is not all that comfortable with her new relationship. Faith is not all that comfortable with her new position. But Faith has something to offer Willow.
Word Count: ~1,500
Author's Notes: Thanks for the beta to triciabryne1978 and loupnoir! And thanks for the prompt, rhi_silverflame, it was fun to write. Title from "Fidelity" by Regina Spektor.
The house was never quiet these days. Even at night, there was always someone walking around, maybe going to the bathroom or fetching something from the fridge for a nighttime snack. And even if the halls were empty and no one was moving around, there were sounds, the sounds of people moving in their sleep or whispering to each other or softly snoring.
Willow found it hard to think, these days. She had shared a room with people before, first with Buffy, then with Tara, and it had been an adjustment from how it was back home. But sharing a room with one person who you were fully comfortable with and sharing a house with people you barely knew was something very different. But she needed to think, to actually be alone with her own thoughts, order them and come to a conclusion. And so Willow found herself sitting in a corner of the Summer’s garden that night.
There was a lot to think about. The war they were fighting against the First. Caleb. The two dead Potentials, and Xander’s injury. Faith’s appearance. Buffy’s departure. Willow had stood up against her best friend. And maybe Spike was right. Maybe they really had been foolish to let her go - or to throw her out. Willow wasn't quite sure what had really happened
But what her mind kept wandering back to every time she had a spare minute was Kennedy and Willow didn't like that. She needed to sort her feelings, so that she could focus on other things again. Kennedy was... different. She wasn't used to someone this direct and yet she liked her all the more for it. Maybe she needed that push, that someone who told her what to do when she was confused. She liked that. But was that enough?
"This seat taken?”
Willow flinched in surprise. She had been so lost in thought that she hadn’t noticed Faith approaching her.
Faith gave a short chuckle. “Kinda dangerous right now, sitting around at night, not paying attention to dark things approaching you.”
“I suppose so.” Willow tried not to sound too unfriendly, but still make it clear that she did not want company right now. That, however, either was not noticed by Faith or – what Willow found more likely – the other women just didn’t care. Faith sat down next to her.
“It’s a night for thinking, isn’t it?” Faith said, leaning her head back to look at the stars.
Willow nodded, although Faith wasn’t looking at her. “A lot happened today.”
“A bit too much.”
"You really didn't want this, did you?"
"You may not have noticed, but I am not good with people. And most people won't consider me particularly trustworthy. Can't blame them, really." Faith shrugged.
Willow definitely was one of those people. However, this night she felt something other than disappointment or indifference towards Faith. She had seen Faith's face when people started to talk about making her their leader, and she believed that Faith had not wanted to take Buffy's place as a leader to all the Potentials. And when Faith had entered the living room again after Buffy had left - Willow had seen something in Faith's eyes. She didn't quite know what to call it, but the word 'sorrow' came to her mind. Maybe Faith truly did regret what she had done in the past.
"Kennedy seems cool," Faith suddenly said and cut Willow's thoughts short.
"Yes, she’s wonderful," Willow said.
"That didn't sound too enthusiastic."
Annoyance crept into Willow's voice. "Actually, it's none of your business."
Faith raised her hands defensively. "Whoa, slow down. I was just making some conversation here. Didn't know it was a sore spot."
Willow turned to look at Faith. She had never considered Faith as someone you could actually talk to about meaningful things - Faith had always been the 'fun' one, the one who went to the Bronze with Buffy and partied, the one who beat the bad guys and got the guys, the good and the bad ones. And now Buffy was gone, Xander had his own problems, Giles was certainly not the right person to talk to this about... somehow, Willow felt the overwhelming need for someone to just listen to her.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to snap at you." Willow sighed. "I actually came out here to think about Kennedy; it's a bit of a sore spot right now, I suppose."
"You guys having a fight?"
"No, not really. I am... I suppose it's just all going a bit too fast right now."
Faith nodded. "Yeah, from what I've seen she does seem a lot more outspoken than you are. No offense to you."
Willow had to grin a bit. "None taken."
"So you're having doubts that this is a good thing?"
"No. Yes. I don't know." Willow looked upwards at the stars again.
"What are you afraid of?"
"I'm not afraid."
"I think you are. If it's going too fast, you just need to tell her. But I think that you are actually afraid of something."
Willow was silent. She didn’t want to talk anymore; she didn’t want to think about it anymore. Coming out here had been a mistake, just like talking to Faith. What could Faith possible know about having a relationship, about anything.... But something in her agreed with what Faith had said and so she hesitated and did not just get up and leave.
Maybe Faith was right, maybe she was scared.
“It’s just that they… they keep leaving me.” And there it was, Willow realized, the reason she had been too afraid to voice, but that it all came down to. They kept leaving her. “Oz left. And Tara….” She trailed off, still not able to say it. To say it was to make it even more real than it already was. So painfully real.
After a moment's silence, Faith spoke again. Her voice was soft in a way Willow had not yet heard from Faith. There was genuine concern there. “Do you think it’s your fault? Tara, I mean?”
Willow was taken aback by the question, but not because this was something she had never thought about. She had spent so many hours thinking about it. “Maybe,” she answered.
Faith gave a short laugh. “Nice try, Willow. I'm a lot of things, but stupid doesn't quite fit. You have yourself convinced that it was your fault.”
“Why do you say such things?” Willow didn’t look at Faith. It upset her a bit that someone who didn't really know her would be so quick to come to these conclusions, true as they might be. And they were true, after all. She had not been able to shake the feeling of guilt since the day Tara had died. Or rather, since before that, since she had started manipulating the one person she had truly and deeply loved in the world.
“I know someone who blames herself when I see her. Been there, done that and everything.”
"So I do blame myself. And why shouldn’t I? I was there when she was killed. I couldn’t save her. I brought her into that situation, if it hadn’t been for me, she never would have been in any danger. She could have had a long life…”
"We all die. I mean, sure, we'd all prefer to live until we’re ninety and die of old age, but sometimes it just doesn't happen, you know? I don't think Tara was unaware that being close to Buffy could make her a target."
"It's not Tara's fault." Willow knew instantly that she was twisting Faith's words and felt sorry for it. She knew she was misdirecting her anger and loss.
"Wasn't trying to say that. But it's not yours either. You didn't shoot her, did you?"
Willow shook her head. "No. But it's not that simple. What if I go crazy again? If it's just too much?"
"You don’t wanna go all ‘destroy the world again’, do you? That’s good, I mean, I don’t like the world that much, but it would be a shame to have it just go away. So thumbs up to you. But you know yourself better now, don't you? You know your limits. I've done some really stupid things in my life and I’ve learned one thing: It's better to lose something than to be too afraid to ever have it."
Willow was quiet for a while.
"I'd better get inside again. There's no telling what those kids will get up to when no one's watching them," Faith said after a minute and got up to leave.
Tears welled up in Willow’s eyes. But she managed to compose herself long enough to stop Faith before the other woman was out of earshot.
"Yeah?" Faith turned around and looked at Willow. Willow hoped Faith couldn’t see her cry.
Faith smiled. "Five by five, Wil," she just said and walked away.
Willow walked back inside shortly afterwards. Most of the girls were already fast asleep, including Kennedy. Willow silently slipped into bed next to her and stroked Kennedy’s hair lightly so she wouldn’t wake the other woman. She’d wake Kennedy later – the night was still young after all.
It's better to lose something than to be too afraid to ever have it.