I made her cry.
Dear God, I'd never intended that. I only wanted the charade to be convincing, wanted Faith to believe she'd taken me in. It never occurred to me that Buffy would be just as swayed, that she'd believe I could believe her of such a thing. The look on her face-devastation, fear-as she tried to convince me of her innocence....
Nothing compared to the look when I told her I knew the truth.
I suppose I assumed that once Buffy realized my charade, she'd bounce back to her normal bright self. I'd forgotten all she's been through in recent weeks. I assumed she'd trust me. I'd forgotten I no longer deserved that trust.
But when I scolded her and told her she should have come to me straight off, she said she wanted to, and I believed her. Whatever else, Buffy is a good girl, one who has a clear grasp of right and wrong. One who especially knows where her own behaviour falls on that scale and tries, whenever possible, to do what's right.
And through it all, it wasn't herself she was concerned about, it was Faith-what Faith must be going through, how she must feel. Her empathy was admirable, even if, and I'd never tell Buffy this, even if it might be too late for Faith. Buffy believes in redemption. After all, she'd forgiven me.
By the end of our conversation, she appeared a little calmer. There was still that small tremor in her voice, and she wiped the tears from her eyes. She looked so shaken I wanted to take her in my arms and hold her to my heart, soothe the pain away and keep her safe. But it was not the time and, to be honest, our has never been that sort of relationship. In spite of my love for her and her...perhaps it is love she feels for me, perhaps it's something simpler, but I like to believe she considers me someone she can rely upon.... In spite of that, there are boundaries between us, limits breached only rarely, and then under exceptional circumstances.
And that's for the best, really. Bloody Wesley Wyndham-Pryce thinks he's got me figured out, my relationship with Buffy. It's more complex than he could possibly imagine, and I'm not about to correct him. He can think what he likes. But I know myself, and how I feel about her. My natural inclination is to coddle her, try and keep her safe.
But that's not what the slayer is for. She's here to keep the world safe, not the other way around. And I'm here to help her do just that, in any way I can, Council or no Council. So I hold myself at a distance, and she accepts that, just as she accepts me.
Right now she must try and keep the world safe from one of her own, from a lost and confused young lady who, if left unchecked, has the potential for serious mayhem.
But Buffy believes in Faith, believes in the inherent goodness in the other girl, goodness I'm not convinced hasn't been eradicated by too many years of abuse and neglect. I know Faith's history, and it's not a pretty story. I've purposely kept it from Buffy, not wanting to sway her opinion of Faith. Of course, knowing Buffy, it might also make her more convinced that not only was Faith worth saving, but that she could, in fact, be saved.
Buffy trusts. She trusts in Faith, and Dear God, she trusts in me to do the right thing for all involved. Despite everything which has happened between us, She still trusts in me.
So we made tentative plans, steps to be taken, ways to try and reach Faith. And as our conversation came to an end, I laid a hand on her shoulder, and she looked up at me gratefully, blinking away the last of her tears. I smiled in a way I hoped was reassuring, pleased by her shaky smile in return.
And I vowed to do everything in my power to help Faith.
Because Buffy trusts that I will.