Buffy flashed her 'deer in the headlights' face as she pondered on whether to stay or go. Her back was to the door, so she wasn't sure if Faith had already seen her.
"How far?" She asked.
"Buffy-." Willow began but was interrupted by her friend.
"I'm not ready. What am I going to say?" The cook spoke more to herself, and then turned back to Willow. Her panic filled eyes darted from the redhead to the kitchen door and without another word, she rushed back behind the door.
"Buffy, how do you think it's gonna look, if you keep avoiding her?" Willow reasoned. She knew that the blonde was still within earshot and probably had her ear glued to the door.
"Please Will, I just... just give me some time, okay?" Buffy whispered back from the other side.
"Hi F-Faith." Tara smiled when the bell jingled and the brunette entered. Anya raised a hand, showing a brief acknowledgment of the new arrival, and went back to her book. The same book she had been pretending to read during Willow and Buffy's discussion.
"What's up, Tara. Hey guys," Faith greeted the others.
"How did you know we'd be here?" Willow asked when Faith took a seat at the barstool in front of the counter.
"I didn't." She shrugged. "I wanted to see what all the buzz was about, so I stopped by."
"Buzz? There's buzz?" Willow lit up, excited that word was spreading about the restaurant.
"Some." Faith chuckled. "Should've known it'd be you two." She mused.
"W-What do you mean?" Tara asked, while gently grasping her partner's hand and smiling when Willow responded.
"Supposedly, this place is all around, girl-lovin' central, at least, so I've heard. Oh, and they say the food's good too," she winked playfully at the couple. The brunette had heard several rumors from the other tenants in her apartment, about the little veggie shop on the corner of Main.
"Oh," Willow blushed as her excitement deflated a little.
"Right, 'cause how many lesbians could there be in Sunnydale?" She shifted nervously. Faith looked thoughtful. Anya snickered.
"I didn't even know you two worked here," Faith admitted, and began picking at the sleeve to her jacket.
"Yep, we all work here... except Anya. Buffy's in the back doi-..." There was a muffled crash in the kitchen.
Willow and Tara cringed. Faith froze. Anya flipped to the next page.
"Really?" The question came out as more of a squeak. Okay, just act natural. Don't freak out, and bolt again. Faith told herself. She cleared her throat, "What's she doing back there?" She tilted to the side as subtle as she could and tried to peek into the small window.
"Oh, you know," Willow motioned with her hands, "cooking... doing inventory," trying to pry the backdoor open or stuff herself in the cabinets, "the usual."
"Maybe you should go see if she needs a hand," Anya smirked, knowingly, "or maybe a couple of fingers. That should do the trick. What do you think Tara?" She asked in mock innocence. The blonde was caught off guard and blushed fiercely while stumbling for a response.
"Um, o-o, uh," she opened and closed her mouth several times as all eyes turned to her, "I'm s-sure she's f-fine." Tara's eyes pleaded for them to accept her answer, and for Anya not to further elaborate what she was hinting at.
The young blonde sighed in relief when Faith chose the moment to stand up and take the focus from her. For the past few days, the brunette's mind had been going over every word she'd say to Buffy when she saw her again. And though she felt the familiar prickles of doubt, Faith knew that if she didn't speak up soon, she would back out all together.
"Well, I've sort of been meaning to tell her something." She fidgeted and shot a quick glance toward Tara, "So I'm just gonna go check it out. Make sure everything's cool." Forcing a positive smile, Faith pushed the door back and disappeared into the kitchen.
"Sure," Anya stressed the word and wiggled her eyebrows at the remaining couple. The grin on her face was actually starting to hurt a bit. "Hehe, I'm absolutely tickled," she laughed, and then noticed both looks of disapproval and annoyance from Tara and Willow. "What? Why are you looking at me like that?"
"That was s-so mean," Tara frowned, referring more to the way Anya had shone the unwanted spotlight on her earlier.
"Why do you always do that?" Willow asked.
"Do what?" Anya tried to look genuinely confused.
"Speak so...blah," the redhead frowned, searching for a better word, "so-."
"Blunt," Tara offered as her eyebrow quirked slightly.
"Yes!" Willow smiled, not sure why her mind hadn't been capable of putting together the five-letter word. "There is a such thing as self-censorship, you know, being tactful."
Anya didn't answer, but merely curled her lip at the thought.
"I don't know why you're upset. All I did was gave them a little push," she rolled her eyes in self-defense, "you just wait, they'll be quoting Sanyo, any day now." She smirked.
"Um, that's Sappho," Tara blushed as she corrected the other woman. Anya gave the blonde her best 'that's what I said' expression and went back to her book. Willow shook her head, then smiled reassuringly toward her girlfriend and tried not to think about what Buffy would do to her as soon as Faith left.
The chef had heard the majority of the conversation outside, and after several unsuccessful attempts to hide herself; she relented and decided to face the music. Without a clue as to what she planned to say, if anything, Buffy plastered a calm smile to her face and waited for the inevitable.
With damp palms, she had begun chopping various items of food, trying to mask her nervousness. Yet it was kind of funny how the blonde kept imagining Anya's face, especially on the cabbage, which she was presently shredding into bits.
"Hey." Buffy's grip briefly slipped when she heard the soft, unmistakable voice. Not sure if she mumbled a response, the cook turned and gave the newcomer a smile.
"So how's it going?" Faith asked, remembering to breathe.
"It's going." Buffy shrugged and finally turned to face the dark haired woman.
"I, uh, just stopped in to see if you needed some help..." Faith shrugged and casually took in the appearance of the kitchen, before focusing back on Buffy, "or anything."
"No, I'm good," Buffy nodded, than Faith nodded. And both girls' heads continued bobbing a little as the silence swept over the room.
"So where've you been, lately?" The cook broke the silence, hoping to sound as non-prying as possible. "I haven't seen you around in awhile." Okay, two days.
"Yeah." A flash of guilt crossed Faith's face, but she quickly hid it. "I've just been getting settled into the new place. And, you know, taking in the sights... seein' if anything's changed."
"Oh... well... the city added new parking meters," Buffy shrugged, speaking as if it was the only significant event to recently happen in Sunnydale. "Uh, oh and Jimmy's closed down a few months ago."
"Really? Damn, I knew something was missing," Faith's eyes grew in surprise.
Jimmy's had been the local, daytime hangout spot for everyone back in high school. The little ice cream parlor gained a lot of recognition; mainly because of the free cones the owner usually gave away.
"Man, I've been craving some strawberry cheesecake ice cream all week," she sighed, disappointedly.
Buffy's eyes visibly glazed over for a second, "That was the best," she spoke distantly, still caught in her dreamy state. Shaking her head, and making a mental note to stop at the store on the way home, the blonde drifted back to reality.
"We've yet to give out free food here, I guess it's because nobody ever comes in asking." As if she suddenly realized that she was the only cook, Buffy frowned, "Should I be offended?"
Faith only smiled, not quite sure if Buffy was serious. But from the other woman's thoughtful frown, she knew that the blonde was actually wondering if she should take offense or not.
The kitchen's atmosphere had lightened up a bit as they reminisced about the "good old days."
They both started at the same time.
"Go ahead," Buffy smiled. Both girls were completely unaware that they'd been thinking the same thing. Now or never.
"Okay," the brunette took a solid breath, stilling her nerves. "Okay... so I'm just going to say this and you can scream or throw tomatoes when I'm finished okay?" Buffy opened her mouth to agree, but Faith went on, "Wait," she held up hand, "just let me say this."
Oh god, she's breaking up with me. Pretty farfetched, seeing how you aren't even dating. The neurotic blonde mentally kicked herself. Okay, so-. The inner conversation continued as Faith spoke.
Countless hours of thinking had boiled down to a few simple words as Faith stared across the room. "I'm in love with you," she rushed the words out as quickly as possible, for fear of swallowing them.
She's- the mental battle came to a halt, "What?" Buffy snapped out of her reverie.
"I love you." She said it, and waited.
Buffy trembled, still trying to grasp the full extent of those three words. "You... me?"
"I know I should've said something earlier, but-." Faith's voice seemed small as it trailed off, and she watched Buffy step forward. Bracing herself for the impact of the blonde's palm, Faith fought the urge to move away.
But the smack never came. Instead, Buffy had moved closer and was now staring, unbelieving, into brown eyes. The proximity proved unbearable for Faith as she battled with yet another urge.
If she's going to hate me, I might as well give her a reason. She thought and stepped within inches of the other girl.
"I shouldn't be doing this." The private thought broke through and Faith was unaware that she had spoken out loud as her mouth boldly drew closer. But the real shock came when the blonde, oh so subtly, licked her dry lips.
"Yes... yes you should," Buffy broke past the final inch. The final barrier. She kissed Faith earnestly, relieved that her lips rubbed against skin rather than air.
Needless to say, Faith was a bit taken back by the gesture, but quickly melted into the soft embrace of the blonde's body.
Willow's breath fogged up the small window in the kitchen door as she grinned at the display. Don't get it wrong. She was hardly much of a voyeur, but the thought of Buffy finally finding someone, made the redhead's heart swell. It nearly exploded when she half-turned and caught Tara's scent before warm arms wrapped around her waist from behind.
"Looks like everything worked out," Tara smiled, speaking without a trace of her stutter.
"Mmhmm," Willow snuggled deeper into the blonde.
"Hey people." The closeness of the greeting, caused the girls to jump in surprise.
"Xander!" Anya yelled, excitedly, her boredom quickly fading. She really needed to find another place to lounge. And if she got her wish, she could get paid at the same time. The wheels in her head began to rotate. She'd definitely have to go back to that thought, but for now, Anya had other things on her mind.
The young woman had been getting a bit envious from watching and hearing about other people's love-lives, and wanted nothing more than to...
"Let's go home and have sex." Thankfully the place was virtually empty, and those who were still around, either didn't hear or didn't care about what was going on around them.
"Well, my day was great, honey. How was yours?" The humor was evident as Xander grinned. He had automatically cringed at his girlfriend's forwardness, but had long ago learned to expect it.
"It isn't fair," Anya huffed, completely veering into another topic. "Those two have been making goo-goo eyes at each other all day," she pointed at Willow and Tara. "And Buffy and Faith are outback getting their jollies off." She ignored the young man's surprise, "And dammit, I want my Xander." The mini tantrum caught the group off-guard. Anya even had the gall to stomp her foot.
The trio stared at the annoyed woman.
"Calm down, Sugar-muffin," Xander put his hands up cautiously, but Anya growled and rolled her eyes at the pet name. "Snuggle-bunny?" He tried again, and knew he failed when Anya's eyes grew wide with horror.
"Bunnies?" Anya looked around, slightly delusional. "Evil bunnies... they chew on everything," she rambled, "Mama bought me some slippers." The group didn't know what to make of Anya's behavior, so they remained silent. "They were so cute... oh... with the tiny, tiny bows and butterflies and-." Her mood shifted, "Then they got to them." She finished fiercely and grew silent before gazing at nothing in particular.
No one said a thing, not even Buffy or Faith who were now peeking from the open door. Xander chuckled nervously, "Okay," he clapped his hands together, "guess it's time for us to go."
Stating the obvious, he ushered his quiet, frustrated girlfriend toward the door. Anya twitched and allowed the young man to guide her. Xander looked back and shrugged apologetically before leaving the two bewildered couples behind.
"Um..." was all Tara could muster at first.
"Okay, what the hell just happened?" Buffy frowned. With her hand carefully placed in Faith's, they joined Willow and Tara near the register.
"Anya's finally lost her cookies," Willow quipped, staring as the car drove off.
"A-As we've just witnessed," Tara still looked a little confused. "H-How? Why?" Everyone shrugged, not sure how to explain the young woman's actions.
"We're actually surprised by this?" Willow snorted. "It was bound to happen, I knew this day would come," there was a hint of glee, "She's wacko, nuts, loony, cracked out, bonkers-..."
"Uh, Will. We get it." Buffy stopped her best friend, knowing that Willow would continue if she didn't.
"Right." The redhead blushed at her behavior and smiled sheepishly.
"Well, one thing's for certain," Faith smirked, thinking of how frustrated Anya had seemed, "that girl obviously doesn't believe in self-gratification." She winked at Buffy.