leonhart_17: ([btvs] willow/faith - orpheus)
[personal profile] leonhart_17
Title: Something to Talk About pt XX
Rating: PG/PG-13
Disclaimer: Not mine, don't sue...
Summary: Faith has to deal with her teenage daughter... dating...



The high school gym was crowded and loud, but Willow was able to spot Xander and Buffy as they entered and she poked Faith, the Slayer whistling sharply to signal her counterpart. The Scoobies joined them in the bleachers, taking the two seats in front of the women.

"Did we miss anything? We'd have been here ten minutes ago, but Xand was driving like an old lady!" Buffy said, elbowing her friend good-naturedly.

"Better than getting the car onto two wheels!" he shot back.

Buffy shrugged defensively. "That was one time! And it was an emergency!"

Willow rolled her eyes at the familiar teasing between her best friends. "They're still just warming up," she answered Buffy's question. Joy got the rebound from a teammate's lay-up and passed it quickly across the key to keep their practice cycling smoothly. The coach's whistle sent them running for the sidelines and the group in the stands was joined by Sam and Mark, Joy's two best friends.

They sat down at the end of each of the two rows, Mark next to Xander and Sam next to Faith. "Hey guys," Sam greeted them, leaning over Mark's shoulder to steal a gummy worm from the bag he'd pulled out of his pocket.

"Got odds on the game?" Faith asked, ignoring the elbow that Willow put in her side.

Sam laughed, rolling her eyes. "We're supposed to win, but there generally aren't odds on high school basketball." She leaned forward, eyes intently watching the team getting ready. "Joy's nervous. I guess she heard there might be scouts coming tonight."

"She said she's nervous?" There was a frown on Faith's face. Her oldest daughter didn't admit to being nervous. Ever.

Sam scoffed audibly, head shaking. "No way." She pointed. "But look at her. She's all stiff."

Willow put another elbow in Faith's side, a smirk on her lips. This was not the first time they'd noticed Sam being hyper-aware of Joy, and Willow was convinced that Samantha had feelings for her best friend, citing her years of experience in the same situation. Buffy tended to concur with her friend's assessment, having helped Willow through the same circumstances in high school, and she shot Faith a look over her shoulder.

The brunette just sighed, narrowing her eyes at Buffy and pointing her firmly back to face forward. "She does seem to be kind of stiff," she admitted, eyes moving between her daughter and her friend. If Sam really did feel something for Joy beyond friendship then she felt kind of bad for the teen. Joy wasn't serious about anyone, but she dated. Or at least she had been dating. Lately there hadn't been anyone knocking on the door, though that was perfectly fine with Faith. None of the idiots, in her parental opinion, who'd shown up on her porch were anywhere near good enough for her girl. Watching that couldn't be easy for Sam if she wanted more from her relationship with Joy.

"She's got this," Xander said as the teams readied themselves for the jump ball. Joy proved her uncle right, getting a hand on the ball and tipping it toward a teammate.

The game went very well for Joy and her team, the girls controlling the ball and keeping their opponents on the defensive throughout the first half. Each team made adjustments during halftime that meant that there were a few goals scored against Joy's team, but the game ended in a victory for Joy and her squad. That didn't mean that the teen wasn't frustrated that they'd gotten scored on. They could all see it as she fell into her seat on the sidelines, chugging down half a bottle of water before she stood up to shake hands with the other team.

She had just finished talking with a middle aged man when her family joined her courtside, a towel around her neck to wipe away sweat. "Hey y'all. Pizza?" Pizza after a game had been a family ritual since she was a kid playing little league. "Just let me get a quick shower," she said when Willow gave her a nod. "It'll just be a few minutes."

"No hurry, sweetheart," Willow said, kissing her cheek without touching her and having to rise onto her toes to reach, their oldest daughter having passed both of her parents in height.

"Good game," added Faith, one hand patting a sweaty shoulder. "Proud of you."

Joy patted her face down, draining her water bottle. "Thanks Ma. Be back in a few." She exchanged fist bumps with Mark and a quick, one-armed hug with Sam, doing her best to keep from sweating on her friend. She let Sam say something into her ear, laughing and shaking her head as she put her at arm's length and backed away. "You're nuts. I'll be right back." She paused a few feet away and turned back around. "How about you all just go get us a table and I'll meet you there?" she suggested. "I'll be ten minutes behind you."

Willow nodded, hooking an arm through Faith's. "Ham and pineapple?"

Joy grinned. "Thank you, Mom. You're the best!"

The others turned to file out of the gym with the rest of the milling audience and Sam and Mark lingering on the court. "We'll catch a ride with Joy," Sam volunteered, waving with a smile.

"I bet you will," Willow whispered, Faith elbowing her for a change and Buffy laughing into a fist.

"Sounds good," Xander said, ignoring the women with a friendly smile. "We'll order your usual." He pushed Buffy toward the doors.

"She's so into Joy-rider," Willow declared as soon as they were outside.

Faith shrugged, hands in her pockets. "They're friends," she countered. "Best friends. You never hung out to wait on B in school?"

"Are you kidding?" Xander scoffed. "That's all we did!"

"See? Thank you, Xand!"

"That's not to say that I didn't also have a giant crush on her," he continued.

Willow laughed. "Or me on him."

Faith and Buffy exchanged looks, both grimacing. "This is getting uncomfortable," the blonde declared, Faith grunting her agreement. "If Sam does like Joy, then it's something they have to figure out. We're on the outside this time."

"You're always on the outside of the girl crush issue," Willow reminded her teasingly, sticking her tongue out at her best friend.

"Unfortunately," Xander muttered, groaning when the comment earned him a sharp shot to the arm. "Kidding!" Buffy's eyes rolled as she slid into the seat of the car, Xander gesturing for her to move over while Faith got behind the wheel.

Their drinks had arrived, as well as a basket of bread knots, by the time the teenagers joined them. Joy was fresh from the shower and all three of them were laughing as they took their seats. Joy was barely in her chair before she leaned forward to grab a breadstick and shoved it whole into her mouth. Willow cleared her throat but didn't say anything, Joy shrugging. "I'm hungry!" she protested from behind one hand. "Sorry," she offered sheepishly.

Their waitress came around with refills and took their order, everyone chatting casually. Faith was talking through a play-by-play with Joy at her daughter's insistence, so it was easy to tell when the teen grew distracted. A glance over her shoulder showed a boy about Joy's age in a letterman's jacket and a mop of dark hair lingering against the far wall. It was obvious that he was looking at Joy. "You know that guy?" Faith questioned, sipping on her drink.

"Yeah. That's Alex. He's my partner in Chem. He has my notes." Joy pushed her chair back from the table. "Just excuse me for a minute."

Faith nodded, eyes tracking them subtly. A frown appeared between her brows as the two stepped outside the restaurant. "Hey." Willow's voice in her ear drew her attention back to the table. "She can take care of herself."

"Just hope she doesn't touch his jacket," Buffy joked, laughing.

"Why would she touch his jacket?" Mark wondered. "She's got her own letter jacket."

Xander sighed, rolling his eyes as Willow and Buffy both laughed. "It's a joke. We met a guy one time who had a magic letterman jacket. Any girls that touched it kind of went nuts for him." He narrowed his gaze between his two best friends. "I don't know why you two are laughing. You both got whammied by it. Buffy, I had to take a rocket launcher away from you." That drew laughs from Sam and Mark and the blonde ducked her head in embarrassment. "And Will, didn't you get interrupted trying to turn him into a chick?"

"Yeah, yeah, okay. How is this dinner conversation?" Willow protested.

"The real question is how have I never heard this story before?" countered Faith. "This sounds like juicy dirt on both of you…"

"And that's exactly why no one's ever told you," Buffy interjected. "We went temporarily nuts and were magically induced to fall in love with a high school boy. We hurt Dawn's feelings, Willow tried to do a spell, and I almost blew up the high school…again. End of story."

Faith was grinning widely and she huffed when Willow elbowed her firmly. "It was a spell," she reminded her wife, shaking her head as Mark and Sam succumbed to laughter.

"What's so funny?" Joy asked as she dropped back into her seat and snagged a piece of pizza.

"Apparently Mom and B had magical wrong feelings for a teenager because of a letter jacket," Faith said, still chuckling.

Joy gave them both a horrified look and glanced around the restaurant. "Ma, how are you okay with this? Is it happening right now? It's not someone I know, is it?" She spun in her seat, looking around as though she could spot the culprit.

"No!" Willow yelped, glaring at Faith. "It was a long time ago! It's not as bad as it sounds. We were only twenty-one at the time." She elbowed her partner again. "And it was only a few months before I started sleeping with you."

Faith didn't flinch, still laughing. "At least I was already a hot chick. Saved you some effort! We just had to get drunk!"

"Come on, Ma," Joy said, rolling her eyes at her parents as Buffy grimaced more out of habit than any real distaste. She'd long since accepted that Faith and Willow had a good thing together, no matter how much she'd distrusted her counterpart Slayer with her best friend in the beginning. Now she just grumbled for show.

"You get your notes back?" Willow asked, Faith's arm curling across the back of her chair.

Joy nodded, chewing on her pizza. "You tutoring him or something?" Faith questioned curiously.

The younger brunette rolled her eyes. "There are other smart jocks in the world besides me," she teased. "He just missed a few days last week because of that flu that was going around so I told him he could borrow my notebook."

"There's nothing else going on?" wondered Buffy, the blonde Slayer ignoring Faith's glare from across the table.

"No!" Joy said with a laugh. "Why?"

"Cause the way he's still looking over here - it seems like maybe there's more going on," Buffy reasoned, clearing her throat when everyone started to turn and look.

Willow managed to sneak a glance over her shoulder. "Huh," she sighed, nodding. "Seems like a thing to me. What happened there?" This boy wasn't one of the ones who'd appeared on their porch.

Joy huffed, shrugging as she reached for another piece of pizza. "He might have asked me out or something once, but he's just my Chem partner."

"So you didn't go out with him? You crushed him?" Xander's voice was lightly teasing and Joy rolled her eyes.

"I don't go out with every single person who asks me," she said defensively. "And not everyone I ask goes out with me."

"Just most of them," Sam teased, grinning when Joy gaped at her. "I'm just saying!"

The two girls shoved back and forth lightly for a few moments. "She can't help it she's hot, Sammy." Mark's comment drew both girls' gazes in his direction and Willow wisely moved her chair away from him.

"Son, you might want to get ready to run," Faith advised, smirking at him. Anyone else said something like that about her daughter right in front of her face and she'd be escorting them outside for a private conversation, but Mark had been Joy's best friend for years - she could decide for herself if she wanted to beat him up.

"It's okay, Ma," Joy denied, smiling with a raised eyebrow. "He knows I'm not just hot."

Mark nodded, smiling crookedly himself. "And I know better than to hit on you too. Especially not in front of your… moms."

Sam bit her lip to hold back a smirk, amused by her friends' antics. "Yeah, you'd better," Joy muttered, kicking him under the table. "How'd we get talking about who I'm dating, anyway? Let's change the subject," she requested, looking around the table at her family. "Hey, so I met the coach from Ohio State. He said he was going to come back and see me play again."

"That's great, sweetie!" Willow said enthusiastically. "I'm so proud of you!"

"Me too," Faith agreed, earnest.

"Well, I haven't decided if I'm going to play my first semester. And also, I'm only a junior, so I don't have to deal with this yet," Joy reminded them all.

Faith gave her a wink, nodding. "You don't have to decide anything yet. Mom's the only one who picked out a major before she even started high school." Willow punched her shoulder but it had no effect on the Slayer.

"I think what your mother is trying to say is play or don't, we're still proud of you," Willow responded.

"And if I didn't want to go to college at all…?" Joy's earnest expression only lasted a few seconds, the teen bursting into laughter as her mother's eyes widened. "Kidding, Mom. I'm going to college. I just haven't figured out what to do about basketball."

"Well, you've got the best grades of our year, so I bet you'll get scholarships even if you don't play," Sam pointed out. "I think you'll play, though."

Joy gave her a grin. "Yeah? You going to help me study?" There was something almost flirtatious in her tone and Willow's eyes widened again, the redhead stepping on Faith's foot under the table.

Sam responded without paying it any notice, her tone matching her friend's. "Of course I am. You don't seriously think you can make it without me, do you?"

"Wouldn't dream of it," Joy answered, smirking. Mark cleared his throat pointedly and the girls both leaned back in their seats, putting space between themselves.

"Do you have an explanation for that?" Willow questioned Faith silently. "Because, just best friends or not, I never was like that with Buffy. Hell, I wasn't like that when I had a crush on Xander!"

Faith sighed, shaking her head in answer. She had no explanation for that. "So… that was weird," Xander announced what they were all thinking, leaning forward with his elbows on the table. "Care to share, ladies?"

"Nope," Joy denied with a firm tone and a shake of her head. "We do not care to share." She exchanged glances with Sam, winking just to tease the others she knew were watching.

"Now that's just mean," Mark commented. "You should just…"

"You should just pass the pepperoni," Sam cut him off. He handed over the pizza with a glare, shaking his head at her. "Thank you," she added cheerfully. Mark just kept up his glare and slouched back into his chair beside Willow.

The Scoobies exchanged looks but none of them spoke. Xander started in on a joke to break the quiet, successful in making them all laugh, though the smile on Faith's face was a bit strained. She was still wearing the expression when they got home. The Slayer didn't even come inside the house, choosing instead to stay in the yard and box her punching bag under the familiar cover of moonlight.

Willow was watching her through the window when Joy got home from dropping off her friends, the teen sidling up beside her mother. "She's mad at me, isn't she?"

"Of course she's not," Willow denied immediately. "She's… Is there something going on with you and Sammy?" Joy didn't agree, but she didn't deny it either.

"Mom, it's… complicated," she finally said on a sigh.

Willow's gaze turned to her daughter. "But you like each other?" She smiled encouragingly. "Not to embarrass you, but we all saw how you two were together at the restaurant."

Joy's eyes rolled. "Yeah, thanks, Mom. Not embarrassing at all."

"It's not the first time we've noticed things like that, sweetheart," Willow told her gently. "You like each other, then. What's so complicated?"

"She's my best friend! It's complicated because if we went there and it went wrong, how could we still be friends?"

Her exasperation was clear in her voice, and Willow curled an arm up to rub her shoulders. "Hey, Joy, I've been around a while, and I've seen how you are with her, how she is with you. She's your best friend. That's not going to change." She laughed quietly. "Some people come into our lives and they're only there for a short time, for just a season, and that's how it's supposed to be. They touch our lives and move on. Other people come to us and they're forever. They're always going to be there. The impact they have on us will never fade away."

"You think Sam's going to be the first one or the second?" Joy wondered, crossing her arms over her chest, her voice gruff the way Faith's was when she was emotional and didn't want to show it. It made something in Willow's chest twist. She loved the similarities between her partner and their daughter.

Willow had to clear her throat before she could speak. "I don't know, baby. Just from what I've seen, I'd say the second, though. Even if it's not romantic, or if you try and it doesn't stay romantic, she's a part of your life. I don't think either one of you are going to walk away from that." She leaned against Joy's side and the teen curled an arm around her mother's shoulders. "You know how often your Aunt Buffy and I have fought. But she's my best friend. She has been since the first day I ever met her and she always will be. No matter what happens, I know she's going to be there."

Joy looked down at her, smile starting to curl the corners of her lips. "You think me and Sam have that?"

"You're the one who can answer that," Willow said, hugging her daughter. "What do you think?"

Joy chewed on her lip, considering. "I like to think so… You and Buffy have been through a lot, Mom."

Willow laughed. "Better us than you and Samantha. Not that you haven't been through things, and that you won't go through worse. Your Ma and I, and Buffy, we'd do anything we have to do to protect you from living a life like ours has been."

"Mom…"

"Sam's good for you and good to you. And no matter how life goes, you need a friend like her."

Sighing heavily, Joy watched Faith dancing in the dark with her punching bag. "So I shouldn't push it?"

"I didn't say that. I'm afraid I can't tell you what to do here, my love." Willow sighed herself. "I wish I could. But I think you'll never know until you talk to Samantha." She stretched up to kiss Joy's cheek. "And talk to your mother, please, or she'll stay out there all night." Willow ducked out of the embrace and smiled, nodding her head toward the door. "Whatever you decide to do about Sam, you know we're proud of you and we love you. Both of you."

Joy nodded, face resolute. "Thanks, Mom. It means - thanks," she repeated gruffly, reminding Willow so much of Faith that it was almost painful.

"You're so like your Mama," she whispered, watching Joy's lip quirk in a smile. "She could never say what she wanted either." The smile slipped and Willow shook her head. "I don't mean that how it sounds, sweetie. Mama's actually gotten a lot better about it. What it means for you is that you - if you want a chance with Sam, don't be too afraid to speak up and tell her."

Joy nodded, scoffing quietly. "I could always get her drunk and see if we end up in bed." Willow shook her head warningly and slugged her daughter. "Kidding!"

"You had better be!" She delivered another swat to the teen's arm. "Go tell your Ma that plan and see what she says."

"It worked for her!" Joy countered with a laugh. "But I'm still not going to try it," she promised, dancing away from another blow. "Mom, thank you. Really."

Willow nodded, smiling. "Of course, sweetheart. I'll be upstairs reading if you need me."

"Yes, ma'am." Taking a deep breath, Joy opened the kitchen door and stepped onto the porch. She knew Faith heard her, the Slayer always aware of her surroundings. The punching ceased, the brunette standing still under the tree and catching her breath. "Can we talk?" Joy didn't raise her voice, knowing there was no need to speak louder.

She sat down on the top step and Faith moved closer, leaning against the railing at the bottom of the three short steps. "What's up?"

"Ma, don't be like that. I know you could hear me and Mom." She leaned forward to plant her elbows on her knees, resting her head on her crossed arms.

"I wouldn't listen to a private conversation between you and your mom," Faith said, shaking her head. "I mean, I have a few guesses what it was about, but I did not listen. And Mom won't tell me if you don't want her to."

"Mama, I came out here to talk to you," Joy reminded her. "I want to tell you. I need your advice."

"I say go for it," Faith declared without a pause. She shrugged when Joy shot a look at her. "What? You know me. That's how I work! Dive right in, do it…"

Joy stared at her for a long moment, a slow smile blossoming on her lips. "Ma, you're crazy." Faith just grinned at her. "You know it's a miracle you got Mom, don't you?"

Faith laughed, arms crossing her chest. "I might be crazy, but I'm not an idiot, Joy-rider! We're all damn lucky to have your mom."

"Do you even want to hear what you just told me to dive right into?" Joy asked, feeling immensely better about her internal struggle after only a few minutes of conversation with Faith. "It could be important."

"Lay it on me," Faith invited. "Whatever it is, you'll do the right thing," she stated confidently.

"It's not as simple as right or wrong, Ma." Joy took a deep breath. "If you had feelings for your best friend, what would you do about it? Would you do anything?"

Faith considered it, trying to give her daughter's question the thought it deserved. "Well, I think I've proved that I would just go for it. But I've never really had a best friend before, you know? Mom's the closest thing to a best friend that I've ever had. Unfortunately for me answering your question, we didn't get really close until after we were sleeping together." She took a breath. "You like Sam?"

Joy met her eyes, nodding. "And I think she likes me too, but I'm afraid that if we do something about it and it doesn't work I'll lose my best friend."

Faith nodded contemplatively, licking her lips. "What did Mom say?"

"She said that some people come into your life for a time and that's okay, but some of them stay forever and that's okay too," Joy said, clearing her throat. "But I don't know what kind of people we are to each other - if we're short term people or forever people."

"That's nothing you have to figure out right now though, Joy," Faith reminded her, moving to sit down on the second step. "You're young, both of you are young." She matched gazes with her daughter. "So, I'm going to stick with my suggestion. I've seen the way she looks at you, Joy-rider. You're not going to lose her."

Joy slid down onto the next step to sit next to Faith, letting the Slayer's arm pull her into her side, the younger brunette resting her head against her mother's shoulder. "You think?"

"Trust me," Faith whispered, dropping a kiss on the top of her head, one hand moving through her hair. "When Mom and I started getting serious, I thought your mom wasn't feeling it. I was nuts about her, we'd been sleeping together for months, but of course I hadn't said anything to her, and I was sure that she couldn't possibly feel like that about me. I didn't want to say anything because I figured she was going to break up with me sooner or later anyway once she got her head screwed back on straight," she shrugged, "I thought telling her how I felt would just make her drop me faster." She leaned against brown curls that were so like her own. "Turned out being beat to hell and finally telling her that I love her was the best thing I could have done."

Joy laughed. "Crazy," she murmured fondly.

"It works for me, though," Faith replied. "I think you'll regret not knowing more than knowing for sure, Joy. You'll never get a chance if you don't go for it."

The teen breathed deeply, comfortable inside the circle of her mother's arm. "You're right. I've got to go for it. I'm going to go for it."

Faith smiled against dark hair. "Good girl. And you know, whatever happens, your mom and I are here."

"I know," Joy whispered. "Thank you, Ma." She cleared her throat. "Are you going to go inside now? Mom's going to be pissed if you don't go to bed."

A hoarse chuckle answered her. "Yes, I'm going to bed. Sorry I kind of… sorry."

"It's okay," promised Joy. "I - we've been dancing around this for a while now and we flirt, but I just - I couldn't just blurt it out there in the restaurant if I hadn't even figured out what the hell…"

"Hey," Faith gently chided. "You know Mom doesn't like you talking like that." She paused. "And we've both been there, Joy. We understand. Whatever you need from us, you got it."

"You both talk like that," Joy countered.

"But you're our daughter. We want you to be better than we are."

Joy swatted her mother's stomach with a snort. They'd had bumpy moments, but she looked up to her parents above anyone else. "Shut up." One hand reached up for the arm Faith had wrapped around her shoulder. "Come on. Let's go inside before Mom calls Aunt B to look for us."

"She totally would," Faith muttered as they stood up. Joy laughed, curling an arm through her mother's as they took the stairs. "Night, Joy-rider."

Willow was sitting up, leaning against the headboard as Faith entered. The witch didn't put down her book, just watched silently as Faith kicked off her shoes and dropped her clothes behind her as she shuffled toward the bed. "Thanks so much for picking up after yourself," Willow murmured sarcastically as Faith flopped on her front beside her. Even as she teased though, her free hand combed through dark curls.

"I'll get it in the morning," Faith mumbled, shifting her head further into the soft contact. Her breathing was steady and deep and Willow was surprised when she spoke again, the redhead sure that she'd fallen asleep. "You had a thing for Xander, right?"

Willow couldn't help laughing, setting her book on the nightstand and slid down onto her side so both hands could get to Faith's hair. "Yes, in the very distant past. You know that though, Faith."

"But it didn't work out?" Faith's head was still buried in her pillow, disheveled hair ensuring that her face was hidden.

"No," Willow said with another laugh. "I'd wanted him to notice me for years…"

"Idiot," murmured Faith supportively, almost melting under Willow's hands playing with her hair.

"Thank you, sweetheart, but you sleeping with him," Faith groaned loudly, urging her to move along, "was what got me angry and jealous enough to see that Oz was right there and he saw me. Xander didn't really see me, even after we wrecked our relationships, but Oz did. I was just too wrapped up in Xander to see that he was there waiting. And Xander never really noticed me until after I was with Oz." She traced an old scar across Faith's scalp with a gentle finger. "How'd it go with Joy?" she asked softly.

Faith lifted her head, her body sliding onto her side so that she was facing Willow. "I told her to go for it. You never know until you try," she reasoned, shrugging. Willow moved her hands so she could continue combing her fingers through her partner's hair. "Is that wrong?"

Smiling, Willow shook her head. "Of course not."

"But when you and Xander - when that fell apart - how did you guys still be friends?" Faith asked, sounding genuinely curious.

"He's my friend," Willow answered simply. "He's hurt me, and I've hurt him, but at the end of the day, there's nothing I wouldn't do for him. We're best friends."

Faith blinked, considering that silently for a minute. "That's not how everybody is with their friends, Will."

Her world-weary, guarded persona, the one that had long since ceased to exist when they were alone together, was clear in her voice and Willow slipped down more in the bed and used the grip she had on Faith's hair to draw her wife's head to her chest. "I know. But that's how we've always been. Xander and Buffy and me." She combed her fingers through Faith's hair gently, the Slayer's arm curling across her waist.

"You think Joy and Sam and Mark have that?" Faith asked, starting to feel drowsy despite herself.

Willow smiled, feeling the brunette relax against her. "I think they might. I hope they do. I want that for Joy." She brushed a kiss to Faith's forehead. "I wish you could have had that. I wish we could have been that for you."

"Will, stop," Faith murmured. "I was the idiot that messed that one up." She lifted her head to give her partner a sleepy smirk. "And who knows? If we'd gotten to be friends back then, maybe you'd have never let me get under your skirt after Xander burned you on the friends with feelings thing."

Willow snorted, eyes rolling. "Well, I guess we'll never know. I'm pretty fond of how it worked out this way. Old you might have just let me walk away after you got under my skirt."

Nodding, Faith laughed. "I was such an idiot back then. This is better," she agreed, tugging Willow closer and molding her body against the length of her partner.

"Old you probably wouldn't admit to liking snuggling so much," Willow couldn't help teasing.

"I admit nothing," Faith grumbled, but didn't release Willow from her arms. "The fan's on and you're warm," she reasoned, making excuses.

Willow merely murmured agreement and smiled. "Because Slayers don't radiate heat like superhuman furnaces?"

She turned onto her other side and Faith took immediate advantage, dragging her back so that they were in their normal sleep position, Faith's chest against Willow's back. "I'm just hot, babe," Faith corrected her drowsily. Willow felt a sigh against the back of her neck. "I hope I didn't screw up - with Joy."

"You didn't," Willow promised reassuringly. "It's going to be up to her what to do. Whatever she decides, we've just got to support her."

Faith hesitated. "Jack's going to be crushed if Joy steals his girl right out from in front of his nose," she mused, grinning.

Willow laughed, leaning back onto Faith and turning her head to catch a kiss. "He's nine. I think he'll get over it."

"I don't know," teased Faith. "Sam's cute."

"Are you sure Jack's going to be the only devastated one?" Willow answered her joke with a scoff. Faith's jaw dropped and she rolled on top of Willow with impressive speed, moving before the witch could do anything. "And she's seen you with no shirt on," the redhead continued, voice lilting teasingly as Faith growled. The sound sent a shiver down her back, as Faith knew it would do. "I'd say you have a better chance than Jack, at least."

"Oh, yeah, you're in my bed and I'm going to be really crushed when Joy asks Sammy out?" Faith questioned sarcastically, her head dropping so that her lips dragged across Willow's collarbones. "Think you could help me through it?" She lifted her eyes to smirk before her lips sucked on a patch of freckled skin.

Willow arched helplessly, knee curling around the Slayer's hip. "There's probably something I can do," she agreed, breathless.

*****

It was another week, a tense, strange, awkward week of the tense, strange, awkward dance that they'd been doing around each other for months, before the tension grew to be too much for either of them to handle. They were best friends, talked every day and about everything, but neither one had addressed the thing between them. Sam still went to all of Joy's games, the pair of them going to Mark's football game together, and both Sam and Mark spent their free time at Joy's house, eating dinner with her family, studying at her kitchen table, and playing in the yard with her younger siblings.

Willow was amused to notice that Faith was the impatient one, the Slayer growing frustrated by the ongoing stalemate after their individual talks with Joy. But she didn't want to put any pressure on Joy to do anything she wasn't ready for, so she kept her mouth shut, much to Willow's delight, the witch taking entirely too much pleasure from watching Faith squirming.

The day something finally snapped seemed like a perfectly normal day. Joy's cell phone rang as she was getting out of her last class, Willow on the other end. "Mom, what's up?" Mark fell into step beside her as they walked toward their lockers.

"Ma had something come up and I've got to get Jack…"

"I can get Hope from school, no problem," Joy said before her mother could ask. She grinned when Mark gestured pleadingly, knowing silently what he wanted. "Hey, can Mark and Sam come over?"

"Of course, sweetie. Anytime. But it's a wolf night, so you know the rules."

Joy rolled her eyes toward her friend as they rounded the corner. "Sure, Mom. We'll be inside by sundown."

"And thank you!" Mark called, leaning over so Willow could hear him through the phone. Joy rolled her eyes again as she hung up the phone and he shrugged. "I'm totally not a suck up," he declared before she could tease him.

"You totally are-" Her counterargument was barely started before she stopped, freezing in the hallway and causing Mark to run into her.

"What-? Oh," he said, putting the pieces together as he spotted Sam and one of his football teammates chatting at their lockers. He, along with Joy's family, was convinced that Joy and Sam had feelings for each other, but neither one of them would admit to it. "About time," Mark commented with a smirk. "Luke's had a thing for Sammy for a while now. Glad he's finally doing something about it."

Joy's glare was sharp and she stepped on his foot before she stomped toward the wall of lockers. The football player disappeared into the crowd as Joy and Mark joined Sam at their lockers. "What'd he want?" Joy questioned, not able to hide her annoyance.

"He missed Chem last week. He borrowed my notes," Sam answered her, confused by her friend's attitude.

Abruptly, Joy brightened. "Oh," she said, noticeably more cheerful.

"Oh my God," Mark groaned, frustrated with them both. "Sammy, you want to hang out at the house? You can ride with me."

"Sure," she agreed easily, shoulders bobbing as she shrugged.

"I'll have to meet you over there," Joy said. "I've got to grab Hope from school. Ma's in a fight somewhere." She mustered a smile in spite of her mental conflict. "You guys go ahead. We'll be ten minutes behind you."

Pulling her mother's Jeep into the loop of her little sister's school, Joy waved to the teacher on duty and she released the little redhead to dash to the car. "Hey, Joy! Where's Mama?" she asked as she climbed into the backseat.

"She's at work," Joy answered, the generic answer they used to refer to Faith's slaying until the two younger Lehane children were old enough to understand the details. Jack knew most of it, but Hope was still in the dark.

"Where's Mark and Sammy?" the little girl continued questioning curiously.

"They're at home," Joy answered, breathing another deep breath of relief. "Hey, Hope, what do you think about Sam?"

"She's nice! And pretty!" Hope declared without a pause. "Is she your girlfriend yet?"

It took Joy a second to realize what she'd said, blinking at her sister in the mirror. "What? Why- where did you hear anything about that?"

"Mama." Joy sighed. "And Mommy. And Aunt Buffy. And Unk. And Mark."

"Great," the teen muttered to herself.

Hope huffed in the backseat. "How come you don't ask her out?"

"You're not old enough to ask me about this," declared Joy. After a pause, "But you think I should ask her out?"

A redhead bobbed, her expression matching Willow's. "Yes! She's fun! And if you don't hurry up, somebody else is going to ask her and then you'll be sad."

Joy shot her a look over her shoulder as she pulled the car onto their street. Mark's pickup was already in the driveway and she pulled up to the curb. Sam and Mark were tossing the football from Mark's truck in the yard with Jack instead of doing their homework.

Hope scampered to join the game as soon as she was out of the car, running to catch a ball that Mark lobbed her way. Sam turned to greet her friend but was blindsided by a kiss. She was only dimly aware of what was going on around them, entirely wrapped up answering the kiss, twisting her fingers through dark waves of hair.

"Finally!" Mark crowed when they separated, both lingering in the other's personal space and breathing hard. "I was about to do that myself just to get Joy to hit me. Things couldn't have gotten much more awkward anyway." He grinned when she sent him a glare. "It would have gotten you moving at least!"

Joy shrugged, blushing. "Lucky for your jaw you didn't try it," she said.

"Wait, what?" Sam questioned, mind still clouded with the sensation of Joy's lips on hers. "You were going to kiss me?"

"Just to get Joy to make a move," Mark said as though that explained his intentions. "I'm not into you like that, Sammy. You're like my sister, both of you. But I was starting to think Joy would never do something unless she got a push!"

Sam frowned, cocking her head at Joy. "So what made you kiss me?" Her tone was curious and she was biting her lip.

Joy took a moment to brace herself. "You can't act like you don't know," she said. "But I'll say it if you want me to." Sam just smirked at her friend, crossing her arms as she waited. "Fine," Joy answered, smirking herself. "I want to take you out." She licked her lips nervously. "On a date. I want you to go on a date with me."

Sam could just blink at her, cheeks flushed. They'd been dancing around the issue of their feelings for each other for months now and to hear it laid out so simply was a bit surprising. Willow chose that moment to step onto the porch, wiping her hands clean of a potion she'd been helping one of her student witches with. "Hey Joy, I didn't know you and your sister were home. I was just coming to see if you three wanted some pizza, but I can order another one if you're really hungry."

"Joy might have a date, actually," Mark said, grinning. "But I'm starving. Jack, you're in for pizza, right?"

"Yeah!" he agreed, slapping the older boy's hand.

Willow's face fell just slightly at the mention of Joy having a date, noticing the tension that lingered in the air. "Oh, well, if you've got a date…"

"I don't know, Mom," Joy interjected. "She hasn't said yes yet." Her eyes were on Sam as she spoke and Willow smiled, getting a nod of confirmation from Mark.

"Technically, you haven't asked me anything yet," Sam reminded her, gently teasing.

"Really?" questioned Joy. "You're going to make me say it again? In front of my mother?"

Sam just nodded, smiling happily. "You're the one who kissed me in your yard and in front of Mark and half of your family."

"Fine," Joy agreed. "Whatever it takes. Sam, would you please go out with me tonight?" Without them even noticing it their hands had slipped together, fingers lacing, and Joy tugged lightly on her hand when Sam hesitated to tease her.

"Yes. Of course. Finally!" she agreed, laughing as Joy narrowed her eyes at her.

Willow cleared her throat from the porch, smiling at the pair. "Looks like I do have a date after all, Mom. So don't worry about the extra pizza."

"Alright," the redhead agreed warmly. "You two have fun." Joy waved as they left, brushing past Faith as she got home. Willow just laughed when Faith gave her a confused look, looking over her shoulder to make sure that the two girls really had been holding hands like she'd thought she'd seen.

"What's up?" Faith asked, surprised when Willow and Mark just laughed. "What did I miss?

*****
Sorry I've been gone for a while - it's been a busy month... But I do have a few more chapters lined up already, so it shouldn't take so much time for the next chapter (and the next one is not so Joy-centric, if that's not something you enjoy...)

[part 21 here]

Date: 2011-10-21 03:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ladycallie.livejournal.com
Great chapter! I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but I'm not usually much for future fics, but this one just captivates me. You have a very authentic Buffy storytelling and the original characters are believable and sweet.

Thanks!

Date: 2011-10-21 12:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leonhart-17.livejournal.com
You know, I'm not normally one for future fics either! I don't think I've ever written one that wasn't more firmly based in canon but I just love them! I'm glad the storytelling flows, though! :)

Thanks so much for sticking with me through this!

Date: 2011-10-24 03:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shebooya.livejournal.com
Yay! Update! i love this family stuff and the dynamics going on, always sure to smile at the end, thanks for the chapter -- i think Sam and Joy have a nice and new relationship dynamic at starting things out compared to the other characters and OMG Hope is too cute. I felt a bit for Faith in this Chapter, I wonder if her past compared to Willow's makes her question her parenting skills? Looking forward to what you've got next :)

Date: 2011-10-24 04:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leonhart-17.livejournal.com
This one took me a little while to finish, sorry! Glad you like all of them! I felt for Faith too while I was writing it... she's complicated and I don't want her being a mom to mean that she doesn't still struggle with stuff. Thanks so much for reading!

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