Spoilers: Through "Chosen"
Personal Website: http://www.betweenthestars.no-hero.org
The Chosen Two
Ask me to define my BtVS OTP, and intense is the first word that comes to mind. This is not a pairing for people who want to read about domestic bliss or soul mates. It's not, for the most part, a pairing that lends itself to sweetness. Buffy and Faith have a history together that's tumultuous and filled with enough angst, betrayal, violence, and missed opportunities to put a daytime soap opera to shame, but it's so much more than that.
When the characters first meet in season three of BtVS, Buffy has lost some of her innocence. Between Angel losing his soul, her having to send him to Hell, running away from home, and returning to find that she can't just slide into her old life, Buffy has dimmed a bit. She's a bit harder and more weary for completely understandable reasons.
She is one girl, one *high school* girl, and it's her job to save to the world. From season one, there's an understanding that Buffy will never live to see old age, probably won't have the opportunity to raise a family, and the duty that she didn't ask for demands that she give up a lot of the things that would allow her to enjoy her short life. The others have a choice. Even Giles is able to able to walk away. He can leave and have a different life, but she doesn't have that option. And in season three, she knows it.
Then Faith comes to town.
Faith is a slayer. Faith has fun; and while Buffy views slaying as a duty, Faith embraces it. Faith gives Buffy something that the others can't; she gives Buffy understanding. Buffy isn't a normal girl with impressive strength. She *enjoys* the act of slaying, and that's not something that she can share with the others. It's not something they would understand, and even if they did, it's not something she's comfortable with. The pull between embracing who she is as a slayer and trying to distance herself from that part of her personality will continue until s7, but for a short period of time in s3, Faith helped her integrate that into herself.
Also, with Faith around Buffy's not alone anymore. She's not the one girl in all the world, and while that's initially a hard thing for Buffy to deal with, as season three continues she begins to appreciate it. Faith's strong and doesn't need Buffy to protect her, doesn't *want* Buffy protecting her, and that's freeing. Not only is this a part of their dynamic on season three, but it continues in season seven. Faith never asks Buffy to be her leader. She wants to be Buffy's equal, and the talk the two share during "End of Days" really gets to the heart of their connection:
FAITH: OK. The point. Me, by myself all the time. I'm looking at you, everything you have, and, I don't know, jealous. Then there I am. Everybody's looking to me, trusting me to lead them, and I've never felt so alone in my entire life.
BUFFY: Yeah. (swallows, looks down)
FAITH: And that's you every day, isn't it?
BUFFY: I love my friends. I'm very grateful for them. But that's the price. Being a slayer.
BUFFY: Also, you went evil and were killing people.
FAITH: Good point. Also a factor. (nods)
BUFFY: But you're right. I mean, I... I guess everyone's alone. But being a slayer? There's a burden we can't share.
FAITH: And no one else can feel it. (beat) Thank God we're hot chicks with superpowers.
BUFFY: Takes the edge off.
Not only does Faith understand, but she's the one that brings humor out of Buffy. In s3 when Buffy is confused by her relationship with Angel, it's Faith that brings her out of her shell. It's Faith that Buffy opens up to and has fun with. Their past is confusing, and they do hurt one another, but there's a connection there. Despite their differences, they have this bond that not even the s7 called slayers can understand. The new slayers will never know what it was life before there was an army. They will never understand a life where they have no other options, and they don't have a group of people who share the same experiences.
What separates Buffy and Faith from the others draws them together.
Relationship wise, Buffy has had three that were important - Spike, Riley, and Angel. All of them knew she was the Slayer and helped her. Ultimately, Buffy's not like other girls, and the person she ends up with has to be able to accept that part of her. Faith is as strong if not stronger than all three of them, and she's not a vampire, which has been a problem in Buffy's previous relationships.
The others have all left Buffy. Angel left because he was a afraid of a repeat of s2 and because it was too painful to stay with Buffy. Riley left because he didn't believe Buffy loved him. Spike died and chose not to go back to her because he didn't believe she really loved him. Faith is willing to stick by her even when Buffy gives her no reason to stay.
There are, however, some serious issues between the two that can't be pushed aside or ignored if you want to give an accurate portrayal of the B/F relationship. This is also known as 'that sounds good too bad about the whole Faith's a murderer and betrays Buffy thing'.
Faith's Betrayal of the Scoobies in s3 and the Body Switch in s4
This can't be overlooked and it shouldn't be downplayed. Whether you think Faith went to Mayor Wilkins in an attempt to gather information and was turned to his side or she went to him with the intention of betraying Buffy and the rest of the Scoobies, it's a huge turning point in the B/F relationship.
The key to this is the fact that entire time Faith's been in Sunnydale, she's been on the fringes of Scooby gang. She's borrowing Buffy's watcher, friends, family, and hangouts, but she doesn't have any of her own. Faith has a second hand life, and Mayor Wilkins offers her something more. The Mayor doesn't want Buffy. The Mayor tells Faith that even if Buffy wanted to be on his side, he'd still choose Faith. Faith doesn't have friends outside of Buffy's circle. Faith doesn't have a Watcher that she feels as though she can trust. Faith doesn't have family. She isn't first with anyone until Mayor Wilkins.
The only thing Faith can't have is Buffy. And Faith, who has shown no interest in having any relationship that lasted longer than one night, decides that she wants Angel. Angel who is the closest she can get to Buffy. This is echoed in s4 during "Who Are You?" when Faith chooses to sleep with Riley who is Buffy's boyfriend at the time.
"Who Are You?" is also the episode that makes the dynamic of s3 more concrete. Faith doesn't just want Buffy, she wants to *be* Buffy.
Before you all go running to hills and fall in love with Buffy/Olaf because it has less issues than Buffy/Faith, it's important to point out what "Graduation Day" and s7 of BtVS did for Buffy/Faith.
Despite the fact Mayor Wilkins was the only figure Faith had ever known, she does give Buffy the knowledge she needs to figure out how to kill to Mayor, and Buffy forgives her.
In s7 of BtVS, the greeting between Buffy and Faith is anything but friendly, and once again Faith is put in a position to take Buffy's life from her. She 'becomes' Buffy by having the others ask her to lead them in her place. Yet, she doesn't ask for it, and after Buffy's asked to leave, it's Faith that follows her out. Faith is no longer looking to be Buffy and later relinquishes control of the group back to Buffy without a fight.
In "Empty Places" Buffy punches Faith after an argument about the potentials, and still Faith doesn't hit her, doesn't even make a move towards her and later during a conversation with Robin, he says he thinks Faith didn't retaliate because she's worried about Buffy. And by the time "Chosen" begins, it seems as though Buffy and Faith have let the past go - forgiven if not forgotten.
Ultimately, I find them an addictive pairing to write. I've written one solo B/F and one co-written WIP that's 14,000+ words, and I'm still fascinated by their dynamic. There's no way for me to show you in an essay the passion between the characters on the screen. They radiate this amazing love/hate, push/pull that's addictive. Their relationship is never simple. It's never boring. It's as difficult and messy as the world they live in, and they just fit together. They connect.
So, you're looking for good B/F?
Here are some fics to get you started:
Coastal, Ice, and People, Places & Things by minim_calibre
Resolution by monanotlisa
Sealed With A Kiss by mpoetess
And I can't leave you without the pretty vids:
Volcano Girls by dualbunny.
Ghost by mpoetess (also Giles/Ethan).