A/N: This is the sequel to "Protect Me From What I Want. The title is from a Spice Girls song, 2 Become 1.
The night before had been hectic to say the very least. It had been a quarter past one when they finally got in from their evening in 'Matrix'. Faith and Kennedy had gotten falling down drunk. Willow and Giles had been rowing all night about who wrote the best thesis on something-or-other to the point where Buffy had a headache, and Xander had been moping about, like he pretty much did all the time now, and Dawn hadn't even bothered to grace them with her presence.
Buffy shook her head as she stood at the sink and rinsed off some potatoes. Maybe sending Dawn to the private school hadn't been the greatest idea. There was no doubt she was smart enough for it, but private school was just creepy. Buffy couldn't help feeling that the school had changed her somehow. All she wanted to do these days was hang with her new friends, who mostly spoke about things she didn't understand.
"S'not like I can just take her out of school because I feel left out of her conversations though," she grumbled to the potatoes she was peeling. "Ooh maybe if I can convince Bradley, or Charles, or Gwendolyn to take up smoking, and then she'll see what a bad influence they are." She smirked to herself. "Gwendolyn, what kind of name is that?" She asked a spud.
"I used to have a cat called Gwendolyn."
Buffy jumped at the unexpected voice, the knife slipped and sliced into her finger and the potato dropped into the sink of water, splashing the front of her blouse. With a muttered expletive she held her bleeding finger under the cold water faucet.
"I thought you were out already," she said.
Faith came in and flipped on the kettle. "Nope. Going in a minute though, just wanted some wake-up juice first." She sat down at the table. "It wasn't really my cat, I dunno who she belonged to, but she used to come up and see me when I was out playing. I used to call her Gwennie. It loved me for some reason."
Buffy was trying to mop up her sodden blouse with some kitchen towel but it didn't work, it just left little soggy tissue pellets all up the front. "Did you used to feed it? 'cause that makes them come back."
"Feed it, fuck no! What with?" Faith laughed at the ludicrous suggestion and stirred three heaped spoonfuls of sugar into her coffee. "Where is everyone?"
Buffy inspected her finger, it was fine now. "Dawn's out with . . . one of them, last minute Christmas shopping. Xander the same, but not with them. Giles has gone into work and Willow and Kennedy have gone ice-skating."
"Yeah, they have an open air rink at Stanley, apparently. Not sure if Kennedy will do much skating though, she looked pretty uncoordinated this morning. She'll probably spend most of it on her butt."
"How come you didn't go?" Faith asked curiously. "I thought ice-skating was your thing?"
Buffy was about to ask how Faith knew that, it wasn't like they ever talked about their ten year old passions. She remembered before she embarrassed herself asking. It had been one of the questions Faith had asked her, that night, before everything got out of hand. She colored up and was glad she was still facing the sink.
"It seemed like a couple thing. I didn't want to get in the way," she said instead.
"Oh." Faith fidgeted with her mug for a beat. "Well maybe after the big day we can all go together."
Buffy smiled at her reflection in the window pane. "Yeah, that would be nice." She turned to face Faith. "So when are you getting the tree?"
Faith was a little flushed, probably the alcohol from last night still swimming through her veins, Buffy decided. Faith opened her mouth to speak, but hesitated before licking her lips and smiling a little bashfully. "Uh B, isn't it a little cold for wet t-shirt competitions?"
Buffy looked at her. Not comprehending at all until Faith pointed vaguely and the blonde looked down at herself. Her blouse was white except where the water had splashed her. There it was see-thru. Her nipples poked out pinkly in the cool kitchen. With an expression of mild horror, she crossed her arms over her chest.
"Oh that's mature Faith," she spat before leaving the room. Faith's laughter followed her up the stairs.
After putting on a bra and a dry t-shirt Buffy went back to the kitchen to finish dinner. Faith was still sitting at the table but now she was pulling on her thick snow boots.
"You're still here," Buffy moaned.
"Just leaving." Faith started to wriggle into a big, fluffy puffer jacket but one arm got stuck, leaving her struggling half in, half out the massive coat.
Buffy watched her. "If the demons could see the mighty Slayer now." She giggled.
"A little help?"
"Nah, this ways more fun."
Faith finally got her hand out of the other sleeve and used it to give her the finger. "Why don't you come with me?"
"I've got to make dinner." Buffy turned back to the half peeled potatoes.
"Skip it. Let them fend for themselves. You're already cooking tomorrow. Come on! With the two of us we can find a tree quicker and then we can decorate it quicker. I can't believe we've left it this late already."
"We've been busy." Buffy felt torn. She did want to go and find a tree and if they'd have all been going, but . . .
Things were always weird when she was with Faith. She didn't know if it was her or Faith that made them weird but they were and it was just easier to not put herself in the situation than to deal with the why. "You go." She smiled encouragingly. "I'll help you decorate it when you get back."
Faith shook her head. "No way, Blondie. You don't help me cut the fucker down and drag its pine-needle-y ass back here, then you don't get to help decorate it." She grabbed her keys and headed out the door.
"Faith!" Buffy whined after her. She looked from the drowning spuds to her coat and back again. Muttering: "Things I do for tradition." She grabbed her coat and ran after the brunette.
Faith was just climbing into their jeep when Buffy jumped into the passenger seat.
"I knew that would get you. You're such a girl." Faith laughed and started the engine.
"Yeah, that's why you like me." It was out of her mouth before her brain had a chance to check the sentence for serious error.
Faith looked over at her bemused as she pulled out of the yard in a flurry of snow. Buffy sank low in her seat and turned the music up loud.
They'd been trudging around for an hour.
"Faith, why can't we just go to a tree lot and get one?" Buffy asked, annoyed.
"'Cause it wouldn't be the same. I've never done this before and I want to do it right." Faith carried on trudging, her axe over one shoulder, and the coil of rope over another, determined to find the perfect Christmas tree.
"I've never walked around and around a demon-infested pine forest on Christmas Eve either. I don't think it's something a lot of people do," she tried to reason.
"But I saw the perfect tree the other night on patrol, just the right size and all, y'know, green or whatever."
"So where is it?"
"I don't know; they all look the same now."
"So just pick one already!" Buffy shouted.
Faith wandered over to one side to inspect a tree. "Shut up Buffy, jeez, you tryin' to cause an avalanche?"
"Yes. Hopefully it will bury you and then I can go home." Buffy didn't bother going to join her by the tree. One started looking pretty much like another after the first ten minutes.
"Keep your panties on B, assuming you remembered any. Maybe it's your age that makes you forget underwear in the mornings. Any time you want me to start putting post-it's on your forehead just let me know . . ."
Buffy picked up a gloveful of snow and with a dogged expression melded it into a ball.
". . . Or maybe I could just start checking for you, y'know, wouldn't want you to be embarrassed if you got into an accident. The saying is clean undies, not no undi-ow! What the fuck was that?"
Buffy had to bend double and clutch her knees to cure the ache from laughing so hard. Faith had automatically fallen into a crouch, stake appearing in her hand faster than the eye could appreciate and was wildly scoping out the area for further attacks. Until she saw Buffy laughing, her gloves covered in powdery snow.
Buffy hadn't fully recovered when the white projectile hit her in the face. "Ow, no fair, I wasn't ready." She pouted, wiping her watering eyes.
"And I was." Faith was already scooping up more snow.
"I hit you on the back of the head, like that's going to do you any damage." Buffy scrabbled for more snow too.
"Thanks a lot." Faith started showering the blonde with white bombs that exploded in a spray of white flakes as they hit her.
Buffy gasped and had to dive for cover behind an holly bush before launching her own missiles in the brunette's direction.
After fifteen minutes of throwing, mostly missing and laughing Buffy held her hands above the bush so Faith could see them making a time-out sign. The snowballs stopped coming and the blonde risked poking her head above the shiny, prickly leaves. "Truce!" she yelled over to where Faith was crouched behind a tree stump. "Otherwise we're never going to find a tree."
Faith stood up grinning. "Okay, truce."
"No, I wanna play some more." The voice came out of nowhere and was big and booming and sounding awfully close.
Both Slayers looked around for the source. Suddenly, from where a second ago there had been only trees, snow and sky, there now was an animal. It looked like a polar bear but with hands and feet instead of paws and its face was more human shaped than bear shaped. Both its big hands held snowballs double the size of soccer balls.
"What the fuck are you?" Faith asked eloquently.
"We're Snowmen, uh, I mean, people. We're Snowpeople," It told them with its big voice.
"People, but there's only one of you," Buffy pointed out. She just had time to register all the other Polar bear-people fading into view, when the giant snowball sailed towards her and she had to drop down behind the holly again.
She heard Faith shout: "Now we're gonna kick your abominable asses all the way back to the North Pole!" and with a roll of her eyes she jumped into the fight.
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