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Souled

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Souled

 

1.

 

 

“Ms. Summers.” The young boy knocked on the door, peering around it, waiting for my reply.

I finished up what I was working on, looked to the boy, smiling. “Hi Billy, come on in.” I motioned for him to enter.

“I’ve got your mail.” He said, smiling, presenting it as if it were on a silver platter.

I reached over, taking the mail. “Thanks, anything else?” I asked, looking up at him.

He shook his head no, smiling, just standing there staring at me. I waited for a few minutes, wondering if he was going to take his leave. Another minute passed. I put my pen down on my desk and looked at him, clearing my throat, waiting for him to get the drift and get out.

“Oh…. Yeah. Sorry.” He said, apologetically, backing out into the hallway, pulling the door closed behind him.

I finally laughed, smiling. “Boys will be boys, I guess.” I breathed out jokingly as I thumbed through the mail.

“Oh no.” I said as I saw another letter from The Chosen Corp. Basically The Chosen Corp. was a slayer network. Every slayer was listed, names, addresses, contacts, one big information network that used to be extremely informative, that was, until a certain pair of slayers took over. They meant to change the world, one slayer at a time.

I laughed as I remembered the first time I’d gotten taken in by one of their harebrained schemes. I mean it was just too good to be true and therein lies what should have been my first clue.

Anyway, they wrote me, wanting to interview the original slayer, supposedly about the closing of the hell mouth, the possible resurrection of the first, at least that’s what I thought. I get there, give one hell of an interview and the newsletter comes out, the headline reading, ‘The Original’, followed by a picture of me and underneath my photo the caption read, ‘Vampire Slayer or Layer?’

I was livid, mortified. I mean, Thank God, only the slayer line gets the newsletters, otherwise, I’d have to move to Antarctica or somewhere. For months after that I was paranoid. If I heard someone laughing, I just knew that they had read the article and were laughing at me and if they whispered around me, well I could just imagine what they were saying, could even hear them in my head. “If they’re dead, she’ll do them.”

It was around then that Faith made her re-emergence back into my life but only for a brief moment. I was on my first date in months, well truth be told, it was my first date since we’d closed the hell mouth. I’ll admit, I was….. needy. Okay, I was hor…… you know…. So much, bad even… that I chose to do something that I wouldn’t normally do.

I decided to get a little freaky in the backseat of a car with my date, granted, I was a little old for these kinds of things but nevertheless, there I was, my skirt up around my hips, my date’s head poised between my legs, fixing to fix what had been ailing me and someone knocked loudly on the window.

I jumped up of course, pushing my skirt down, trying to get the guy out from between my legs.

The knocking continued, only now it’d moved around to my side of the car. After a few minutes of tapping my fingers against my legs, I blew out an embarrassed breath and rolled the window down. I have to tell you, what I saw stunned me, shocked the living hell out of me.

She smiled, leaning over the window. “Hey ya B. Long time no see.” She peered around the inside of the car, checked me out, checked out my date then she smiled. “What you doing?” She asked, giving me a nod.

I stumbled over my words. “Uhm…. Just talking, sitting around … talking.” I nodded up at her for emphasis.

She smiled, asking, “in that position? Damn, guess we should’ve talked more often, might’ve saved us a whole load of shit.” She nodded, pretending to contemplate her words.

I figured I would play off the situation. “Well, actually, my ear was kind of hurting and uhm……….”

“Jay.” The guy filled in the blank.

“Yeah, Jay.” I breathed out shakily, continuing, “well, he was just checking it out for me.”

She leaned further in the window. “Really?” She asked, smirking. “That’s funny… cause I’m what, twenty six years old now and I’ve yet to find a doctor that could look up my ass and tell me what’s wrong with my ear.” She nodded. “Maybe you could get me a referral or something.” She smiled the biggest smile ever, her dimples springing to life.

My face burned. I’m pretty sure my blood pressure shot up to a dangerous level. I sucked in my pride, asking, “why are you here, Faith?” I looked up into her reflective eyes.

She smiled and pulled out the newsletter.

“Oh no.” I sighed, leaning back into the seat, waiting for the earth to swallow me up.

She finally laughed a little bit. “Well, see, my friends don’t think that I really know ….The layer of all things dead.” She stopped and flashed a smile my way, continuing, “so, I was hoping to maybe get an autograph, a picture or two, prove my point.”

I looked up at her in shock. “You want an autograph?” She nodded, confirming a yes.

I laughed icily. “Fuck off Faith.” I said, my voice full of sarcasm.

She pulled her hand up toward her chest, feigning shock and dismay. She mouthed the words, ‘me? Really, me. You want me to fuck off?’, then she started screaming. I swear that bitch brought the whole town over to stare at me.

“OH MY GOD! LOOK! IT’S HER! It’s really her. It’s… It’s the layer! I can’t believe it… I’m your biggest fan. I love your work!” She pointed so everyone would know exactly who she was so excited about. Bitch.

“Go. Go now. Hurry!” I seethed at my date, forcing him into the front seat, making him start the car and take me away from the madness.

I glanced out the rear windshield, watching as she continued to carry on her charade. “I’m gonna kill her.” I mumbled to myself.

 

My laughing finally broke me out of my trip down memory lane. I found myself staring down at the letter. “What the hell.” I mouthed to myself and tore into the envelope.

 

 

*********************************************************** 

Are you lonely? Do you wonder why all of your relationships end in sorrow? Do people fall short of what you expect, what you need, what you want, what you deserve?

If your answer is yes, then we can and will enlighten you.

It’s simple.

Before there was ever ‘one’ slayer in all the world, there were many. Men, magicians took that away, took away our future… but now, now we have taken it back and it’s time to fix, mend, what was once separated.

And what was separated?

Why you. You were separated……. From your other half, from your happiness, from your partner.

For each slayer there is another half and they’re out there, feeling the same way, lost, needing you to finally complete them and make them happy.

And that’s what we are offering to you. A chance to meet your other half, the light to your dark or vice versa.

We are holding ‘the reunion’ at the Paradise Towers, Suite C, on July 16th.

We hope to see you there. Contact the hotline for further information.

 

***********************************************************************

 

 

I laughed and threw the letter off to the side, finishing up my work. I was leaving early tonight, meeting Willow for an early dinner.

I was finally done, closing up shop so to speak. I grabbed up my coat, fixing to turn out the lights. I stopped, glancing to the letter. I sighed, disgusted with myself, walked back over to the desk, snatched up the offending letter and left to make my way to the restaurant.

I figured that I could talk to Wills about it, let her shoot the idea full of holes then I could feel all vindicated and not curious at all. I gave off a bright smile when I saw her already sitting at a table. I practically ran over, giving her a hug.

“What’s going on?” She asked immediately.

I gasped out in disbelief, asking, “what are you, psychic?”

She laughed. “No, you’re just an open book.” She nodded.

I laughed along with her as we settled in, ordering, just relaxing, gossiping about Dawn, Kennedy, Giles and Xander.

Willow saw the letter and reached for it. “Ken got one of those.” She said lowly, lost in thought.

Her sudden sullenness wasn’t lost on me. I looked at her, taking in her facial features. “You okay?” I asked.

She nodded, handing the letter back.

“What do you think about it?” I asked.

She sighed. “I think there might be something to it.” She breathed out.

“What?” I asked, adding, “you’ve got to be kidding me. Why?” I questioned, my voice becoming worried.

She shrugged, pausing momentarily. “It’s just, I watched Kennedy’s face as she read the letter. She tried to play it off but I saw a flash of recognition or something, something that made her believe…..”

“And?” I prompted, trying to get her to open up further.

She blew out a breath, slumping just a bit. “And…. I questioned her and she admitted that sometimes she does feel what they described, that sometimes she felt as if there were someone that she needed to find.”

I reached over and touched her hand. “What are you going to do?” I asked.

 

She half smiled at me. “Leave it up to her.” She answered, adding, “and what about you? What will you do?”

I laughed, smiling big. “Well, I’m not exactly gay you know. I mean come on, can you even name one time when anyone ever questioned my sexuality?” I chuckled some more, looking to Wills, who just sat there quiet, eyes focused toward her plate.

My smiled faded. “Will?” I asked, waiting for a response.

She finally looked up at me, nodding her head yes.

“No.” I stated. “No.” I said again, shaking my head to push my point through. “I was joking, really. No. You’re kidding me, right?” I asked, my voice becoming more and more frustrated. I stared at her.

She nodded her head back and forth in answer to my last question, finally saying, “once, yeah, we kind of thought that you might be….”

I cut her off. “No way, when?” I asked, laughing, disbelievingly.

She shifted, becoming uncomfortable, shrugging, she answered, “well, back in high school. There was someone that you seemed drawn to.” She lowered her eyes, refusing to look at me.

“When?” I questioned, anger seeping through my demeanor.

She seemed to press herself deeper into her chair. “Uhm….. well, junior, senior year, give or take a few months.” She flinched.

I laughed. “You?” I questioned. “You’re like my sister or something, which is just kind of ewwww.”

Her eyes shot up toward mine. “Not me you nut. Jeeze.”

I scrunched up my forehead, thinking, “well let me see. You, Tara, Cordelia,…. Anya? Have you bumped your head?” I asked, completely dumbfounded.

She smiled, finally laughing. “There was another.” She offered.

I raised my hands up, questioning, “who?”

Willow put on a serious face and raised her eyebrows, staring at me. “Please, don’t insult me. You know and now you’re playing games.” She kept up her stare.

I relented. “Don’t, don’t even say her. You are way off track with that one.” I spat the words out, not liking the way they left a bitter taste in my mouth.

She kept quiet, staring, smiling at me.

“Will, come on, she hated me, tried to make my life a living hell, she did make my life a living hell.” I looked at her hard, trying to convey my thoughts.

She shrugged it off. “Maybe.” She said, adding, “but, if she did have those kinds of feelings toward you, it would explain a lot about what went wrong. I mean, a woman spurned and all.” She leaned in closer. “I mean, here you two are, getting all touchy feely, spending evenings together, skipping school and then … .Wham…. out of nowhere, Angel comes back and you drop her like a hot rock.” She nodded. “It makes sense.”

I know I’m catching flies and all but I just can’t close my mouth, finally I shake off my stupor, trying to find reason. “Well, if she had those types of feelings then she wouldn’t have sided against me.”

“You think?” She replied, leaning in again. “Kennedy asked her once, why she did what she did.”

“And… what did she say.” I questioned.

Willow leaned back against her chair, getting comfortable. “Well, Ken said four words. Hurt, shelter, food, survival. She really won’t betray Faith’s trust, cause that’s a big thing to her but I know that they’re close and that they keep in touch… and Ken made a comment a few weeks ago when I asked about Faith. I asked had she finally settled down and gave love a shot. Ken said, she gave love a chance once and it came down to hurt, shelter, food and survival.”

I shook my head back and forth, not getting it, so Willow continued, “well it was a hint. She told me without telling me, it basically all comes back to you.”

I sat there, silent, dumbfounded, just staring at my friend, who finally chose that moment to ask a question. “So… Buffy, did you?”

I shook off my confusion. “Did I what?” I asked.

She shook her head, smirking at me. “Did you like Faith like that?”

I looked at her hard, “She was my enemy.” I said, lowly.

“She was just a kid. A lovesick, jealous kid.” Willow replied.

I was quickly becoming agitated. “I don’t want to talk about Faith anymore.” I said. “It’s not about her, it’s about me and I know that I’m gonna meet someone, have kids and that I’m gonna be fulfilled in everyway I’ve ever dreamed of.”

She just looked at me, so I continued. “I keep having these recurring dreams. I can’t see it all clearly but I know that I’m loved and that I’m happy, that I have a family.” I smiled. “It’s amazing. I get these little snippets of things, sights, smells, feelings and when put together… well, I just feel like that’s where I’m heading, that’s my prize and I’m not gonna settle for anything less than that.”

Willow just nodded and smiled at me. “So are you going?” She motioned to the letter, adding, “me and Kennedy are gonna check it out, would be nice if you came along just in case……just in case Ken decides to go another way.” Her voice belied her cheerful disposition. “I could really use a friend, just in case.” She trailed off.

I nodded, touching her hand. “Why not, we might just have fun.” I smiled.

She smiled back laughing, “are you kidding, I know we’ll have fun. You’re a celebrity. Slayers from all over will be there just to get a glance at, ‘the layer.’” She laughed harder.

“Hey! That’s not funny.” I stated. “Well, okay, maybe it is just a little.”

Willow squeezed my hand. “Faith will be there, she’s already talked to Ken.”

I hardened my eyes. “Good, cause I owe her an ass whooping from way back.” I said, remembering the last time that I saw Faith.

“Buffy.” Willow interjected. “Be nice, just in case.”

I squinted my eyes at her, nodding, oh yeah, bet on it.

I smiled.

 

2.

 

Days had passed, drawing the reunion closer. It seems that the closer it got, the more scared I became. Okay, truth be told, I was worried, worried that these girls were onto something. I mean, when had I ever been happy with anyone, fully happy. Vampires as lovers, well that’s a dead end, literally. Regular people, well they usually bolted, died or made you have to hide who and what you were and that’s no way to live.

So apart from not being gay, what did I have to lose? Besides, Willow might need me. Okay, who am I kidding? Faith will be there and as much as she pushes my buttons, I’d still like to know if she’s all right, see how she turned out, if she’d made anything out of herself. I couldn’t get any information out of Kennedy and Wills was closed lipped about repeating anything that Ken told her about Faith.

“Bitch.” I muttered, shaking my head, thinking about Kennedy and her vague answers concerning Faith and now, to top it all off, she may decide that she wants to be with a slayer and just up and leave my best friend. I just know I’m gonna end up kicking her ass.

The more I thought about it, the madder I got, so mad that I snapped my pen clean in two. I threw the pen toward the corner.

See I haven’t even seen Faith yet and her and Ken’s childish crap is already pissing me off. Okay, Faith is what’s pissing me off. See what I mean? And Willow has the nerve to question me over what I feel, I mean felt. It’s pretty damned clear. Anger. “Ahhhh.” I growled out in frustration.

I snatched up the phone, calling Wills.

“Hello.” Will answered.

“Book me a place with you and Ken.” I stated into the phone.

“Okay.” She said, her voice confused. “Uhm.. Buffy, why are you so angry?” She questioned.

“I’m not angry!” I yelled into the receiver.

Wills started laughing into the phone. “Be here early, we’re leaving at two p.m.” She hung up the phone.

“I can’t believe I’m gonna do this.” I muttered to myself.

That was it, all my concentration was gone, thrown completely out the window. I finally relented, gave up pretending to work, got up and went home, thinking that I could pack a light bag and get a good night’s sleep.

Yeah right. Sleep came easy. What a crock of shit. I watched that damned clock all night.

I called into work and finally fell asleep about eight a.m. I guess a few hours were better than none at all. The clock went off at noon. I got up, showered and left for Wills with butterflies dancing in my stomach. Okay, another truth, I’m nauseous. Scared of seeing Faith, scared of not seeing her.

I fell asleep in the car, those extra couple of hours really worked wonders. I felt better, less sick. I mean really, what the hell did I have to be nervous about. Wills was the one that should be nervous. She had something to lose, I didn’t.

It wasn’t long before we were pulling into the parking garage and making our way to the check in counter. Honestly, I couldn’t wait to sit back, get some dinner, see what kind of scam this really was and find out how much money they wanted me to shell out.

Time finally rolled around. “You ready?” Will asked.

I shrugged. “You?” I questioned, moving next to her, giving Kennedy the evil eye. I guess Ken was feeling a little guilty; she was actually keeping her mouth shut.

We were quiet on the way to suite c, didn’t even talk when we went inside and received our reserved table. I sat across from a few people, discreetly eyeing them.

“Buff.” Willow got my attention. “We’re gonna go and dance.” She waited for me to nod, which I did. I also watched them leave me alone with these… slayers? I turned back to the people at the table.

I gave a curt nod. “Hi.” I offered. “I’m Buffy.”

They nodded back, each giving their names in return. They smiled. I smiled and then they settled back into their previous conversation, the one before I interrupted them.

“Anyway, it wasn’t some miracle love at first sight thing, honestly, we didn’t ever really know what it was. It was just this intense feeling, like I would know when she was around. I could feel her vibes hitting me and I couldn’t do that with any other slayer. I mean, I could sense that they were more than human, you know but with her, I actually felt her, knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was her I was feeling. We absolutely drove each other nuts. It was kiss or kill for a while, literally, we about killed each other. We just made each other so furious. Time passed and we realized that our differences and problems were the result of us fighting the intensity of the pull, so we gave in, gave it a shot and I have to say, that I’ve never felt more complete or fulfilled in my life.”

“What about you Buffy? Have you had anything like that happen?” The lady, Julie, I think her name was, asked.

I shifted uncomfortably, shaking my head no, asking, “so… how did you two know?”

They smiled. “Well, to be honest, I had to finally just sit down and question myself. Questions like, why was she the only one who could get me so riled up? Why was everything so intense around her? There seemed to be some kind of internal hum going on between us, a tingle or something. When all was said and done, it came down to a kiss. I can’t describe it but when you have that ‘hum’ streaming through your body, an overwhelming intensity and you add something as electric as a kiss, well, lets just say that I’d never in my life experienced anything like it.” She smiled at me.

I took in a deep breath before asking, “so you were both gay, before?”

They laughed, “hell no. I was completely into men and the thought of women didn’t really appeal to me but like I said I had to question my whole life and when you get down to the core, the center of it all. It really didn’t matter that she was a woman, what mattered was that she was what I had been needing all along, besides that’s just a label and loving a woman or a man for that matter doesn’t really change who you are. It only affects you if you’re a weak person.”

I nodded, taking it all in. I looked across the dance floor to Willow and Kennedy before bringing my attention back to my table mates. That’s when I felt it, that rush of adrenaline, that surge of power.

I didn’t want to look but I had to. It won’t be… it won’t be…. It is. I looked right into the eyes of Faith, who was standing all the way across the room, looking back at me. She smiled and started toward me.

I tensed up, looking down at the table, not really wanting to acknowledge her.

She came up behind me. “B… Buffy.” She said, drawing my attention by touching my shoulder. She smiled briefly before speaking, “hey, listen, you wanna…”

I cut her off abruptly. “No… Never.” I spat out quickly, the tone of my voice stopping her instantly.

I saw her face contort, a crease formed along her forehead, her eyes showed confusion and understanding. She nodded okay, turned away from me, sighing heavily as she shook her head.

I watched her back as she retreated from me, embarrassment settled over me as I tried to avoid the stares of the women seated around me.

“Sorry.” I said as I got up from the table, making my exit from them.

“Buffy.”

I turned around, relieved to find Willow there. “You okay?” She asked. “ I saw what happened with Faith.”

“Yeah.” I answered. “I was an ass. I need to apologize. Did you see where she went?” I asked.

Willow pointed across the dance floor.

I sighed. “Time to kiss a little ass.” I muttered and made my way over to Faith.

“Hey.” I said softly, getting her attention. “I’m sorry. You didn’t deserve the way I treated you.”

“Thanks.” She replied in a low voice, not saying anything else and turning away from me.

I stood there for several seconds staring at her, taking her in. After realizing that she wasn’t going to talk to me I stepped closer, trying to make things better. “So…..what have you been up to?” I asked, smiling, gesturing for us to sit down at a nearby table.

I sat down and waited for her to join me, looking up at her expectantly, smiling big when she finally gave in and joined me. I looked at her, waiting for her to answer.

She adjusted herself, getting comfortable, finally speaking, “I’m still slaying, kind of a public servant.” She stopped, seemed to be contemplating saying something else then changed her mind. “You?” She asked.

That’s it? That’s all? I half smiled in disbelief at her. I shook off those feelings of frustration, trying to be nice. “Well, I kept with the counseling. I enjoyed it, I just branched off into an occupational setting instead of an educational one.” I smiled at her.

She looked at me smiling, “sounds like you did good for yourself.” She stated.

I nodded, agreeing, “I’m not rich but I’m content. What was it again that your doing?” I asked, trying again to get some information out of her.

She squirmed, looking around for somewhere to go. I reached over and touched her hand and she bolted right out of her chair.

“Faith.” I said, trying to get her to sit back down. “Please.” I whispered, pleading at her with my eyes.

She nodded and sat back down, so I continued, “Are you okay? You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to. I was just curious is all.” I smiled, trying to put her at ease.

“Sorry.” She breathed out, adding, “It wasn’t the questions.” She looked away before continuing, “I’m employed by the town where I live. I enjoy it, it allows me to keep up my slaying duties and keeps me in a small house, pays the bills.” She shrugged.

I smiled. “You hungry?”

“Yeah.” She replied.

I got up, motioning for her to follow me. “Come on, let’s get something to eat.” I reached over and grabbed her hand, pulling her behind me.

We pretty much ate in silence. I saw her keep glancing over toward Willow and Kennedy. Realization hit home. “You and Ken aren’t…… are you?” I asked, dreading the answer.

“What?” Her eyes instantly met mine. “No! I’m just worried about them, that’s all.” She had a look of abject horror smeared across her face.

I slumped as I let out the breath I’d been holding in. “Good.” I sighed. I waited a few minutes before asking, “so, do you believe it?” I motioned across the room.

She nodded, “yeah, always have.” She lowered her eyes.

I just stared at her, not really knowing what to say but needing to know. “Do you think that we’re….” I laughed at my lack of vocabulary. “Help me out here. I don’t know a word for it.”

“Crazy?” She supplied.

I laughed, “no.” I said, motioning with my hands for her to continue.

She got quiet all of a sudden, her face going from a look of nonchalance to one of seriousness. She looked directly in my eyes, whispering, “yeah I do.”

My laughing faded away as her words echoed in my head. “Since when?” I asked quietly, already knowing the answer.

She blew out a nervous breath. “Since the beginning.” She admitted.

I took in her words for what they were, truth. “Well, it helps to explain why a lot of things happened the way they did, doesn’t excuse them but it helps to see how things fell so far so fast.” I nodded, still letting her words replay in my mind.

She blew out a frustrated breath. “Damn B, I was a scared kid. I didn’t have anyone or anything in my life to even remotely base my feelings on. I was unwanted, unneeded and I lashed out the first time I felt dumped.”

I looked at her hard. “I didn’t dump you. You dumped me, left for the first sugar daddy you could find, fucked me and everyone else in the process.” Anger flowed through my words.

She stood up, glaring at me. “Yeah, imagine that, me choosing a roof over my head, clothes on my back and food in my stomach. It might’ve been nothing but pretend, some kind of sick twisted dream but it was a hell of a lot better than the reality I had of sitting alone, being unwelcome, freezing during the winter, burning up during the summer and being hungry all the time!” She spat her words out, disgust lacing each and every one, adding, “not once did he ever lay one hand on me,” then she turned and walked away from me.

“Fuck!” I stated, getting up to go after her.

“Faith wait!” I called out.

She continued, only speeding up slightly, moving into a group of people. I started to run, not willing to let things end this way.

I caught up with her in the foyer. I grabbed her arm, stopping her.

She spun around, tense, her body poised for a fight. I stared into her eyes, grabbed the waistline of her jeans and pulled her against me.

“Kiss or kill.” I whispered, before I closed the distance between us, softly grazing my lips over and against hers.

She finally melted into the kiss, relaxed her body against mine and trailed her tongue lightly over my bottom lip before pulling back to look at me.

She started to say something, “Buffy… I….”

I cut her off. “Don’t.” I said lowly, my head still spinning from the kiss. “I don’t think I can do this.” I whispered. “It’s all so much.” I looked up into her eyes. “That was… too much, just too much.”

“Buffy.” Willow called out to me, breaking me out of my internal conflict. I turned, looking, trying to see if everything was okay. She smiled at me, mouthing that her and Kennedy were going up to the room.

I nodded and turned back to Faith, only to find her gone.

My mind wondered over my last spoken words to her and I slightly cringed.

I set out to find her once again and this time, she wouldn’t be walking away.

 

3.

 

I walked all over the hotel, inside, outside, the bar, downstairs, upstairs, even searched through the gardens and still no sign of Faith. She makes me so mad. Okay, okay, I make myself mad. It’s not like I can pin this on her, this baby was all mine and now that I think about it, I see a lot of things that were all mine, things I’d blamed solely on her, made her the scapegoat for and why? That’s easy, why…. Because it was easier than admitting what I felt deep inside. I was a coward, scared of what she brought out of me, scared of what she made me feel, scared of how much she could get to me, scared of how everyone would have looked at me.

“I’m such an idiot.” I mumbled to myself before deciding to retire to my room.

I walked past the registration desk, giving the asshole behind the counter the evil eye. He could have ended my search but no….. he wouldn’t give out any information on the guests, like a room number is something that’s top secret.

I basically burst in through my room door and threw myself on the sofa. Next thing I knew, Willow was placing a stiff drink in my hand.

“Here, looks like you could use it.” She sighed, shaking her head.

“Yeah.” I breathed out heavily, adding, “I’m an idiot, you know?” I looked up at her, trying to read her expression. She just sat there, listening, letting me get it all out. “I kissed her.” I stated, nodding for emphasis.

Willows’ brows arched and she had this smile come over her face. She sat up, paying closer attention. “And…” She prompted.

“And…” I took a swig of my drink, relaxing into the burn, before continuing, “and it was.. hot, moist, tender, ticklish almost, made my head swim, swirl or something. I felt like I was spiraling downwards, falling. I don’t know. It was….” I paused, trying to think of a word to describe it.

“Orgasmic?” Willow filled in the blank, shocking me with her bluntness.

Her word caught me off guard, causing me to laugh. “Uh, no but if she kisses down there, anything like she kisses up here,” I raised my hand pointing to my lips, adding, “I’m sure it would be.”

“Slut.” Willow stated, smiling, teasing me. “And..” She prompted again.

I breathed out heavily. “And, I messed it all up again. I said too much, let my words cut right through her and she disappeared.” I shrugged my shoulders, pushing myself further back into the cushions of the sofa. “I’ve been searching for her ever since.”

“Oh.” Willow said, lowering her eyes.

I caught the look that flashed across her face. I sat up looking at her. “You know something?” I stated more than asked.

She shrugged her head. “Well, she called Ken and they went somewhere to talk.”

“So, she’s coming back?” I asked, starting to smile.

“I guess.” Willow answered.

I leaned back against the cushions, realizing that I wouldn’t be getting anymore information. I relaxed a bit, giving Wills a good once over, trying to see if things were all right with her. “So, uh …how did it go with you and Ken tonight?” I asked.

Will smiled. “Well truthfully, she didn’t feel anything toward anyone, except me and she told me that her curiosity was quelled and she was ready to go.”

I nodded, reading between the lines, “so the girl was a dog, huh?”

She breathed in, nodding, mischief dancing in her eyes. “Mutt, actually.”

The door opened, ending our girl talk. I looked into Kens face then around her, hoping that Faith was with her.

“She’s not with me if that’s who you’re looking for.” Ken’s eyes flared angrily at me. “She went back home. Is that what you were trying to accomplish. Are you happy now. In the span of thirty minutes, you’ve managed to make her feel like nothing and run her off.” She turned from me, heading toward their bedroom, stopping abruptly, turning to face me again. “I don’t know who I’m more mad at. You, for always doing her like this or her, for always letting you.” With those as her last words, she slammed the door shut, leaving me and Will surrounded in a quiet awkwardness.

“I guess that means she won’t be telling me her address and number.” I stated, still feeling a tad contrite.

I looked over to Willow, who just kind of blew out a breath and turned her head so I couldn’t see her expression.

I tried for weeks to get Kennedy to tell me how to contact Faith but the little bitch wouldn’t even give me an inch. When that failed, I tried Angel and even that turned out to be a dead end. I even tried getting her address from The Chosen Corp. and that only led me to a post office box off in the middle of nowhere. The sad thing about it is that I actually sat outside for two whole days watching that little post office, hoping that Faith would show up. I should have known that she wouldn’t lead anyone to her front door, survival instincts, she had them.

I finally gave in and settled back into my life. I became a workaholic, going in early, staying late, working ahead of schedules and deadlines, well, at least until I burnt myself out.

I tried dating and it went pretty good, well, it went good up until it came time for the infamous good night kiss. Every kiss that came after the one I shared with Faith, well, lets just say that they were severely lacking, cold, they didn’t have that warmth that I’d felt with her, plus, I was having those dreams again, the ones of me with someone, happy, complete, fulfilled and a mother no less. Those were hard things to ignore, especially when I knew deep down that I wasn’t satisfied with whoever I was with. The dreams just cemented those feelings, isolated them, letting me know that I wasn’t where I was meant to be, yet.

The cycle continued over and over until one day I got a call from Angel. He was in deep shit and in need of a little slayer help and you know me, I dropped everything and ran to fight by his side.

We threw everything we had into kicking the shit out of the new demon threat and we still got our clocks cleaned but I did manage to take out the smaller demon. I literally chopped it to bits before the shit hit the fan. Turns out the smaller demon was the bigger ones kid and all I really did was piss him off beyond human comprehension. He literally took away my war hammer and beat the living crap out of me.

Angel and his crew managed to get me out of the way before he delivered the fatal blow but truthfully, the damage had already been done. I was down and out, injured and this time even slayer healing wasn’t a quick cure.

I stayed hidden for a good two weeks, trying to heal but it was going to take a lot longer than I had imagined.

I was a target. A bounty had been put on me and here I was, broken, not even able to protect myself. I was a liability, a huge one.

Willow came to my rescue. She cloaked herself and Ken and they snuck me out under the cover of night, drove me off to God knows where, taking me to a safe house as they called it, somewhere where no one would find me and somewhere where I’d be protected.

With Willows help, I’d managed to take family leave from work, so I’d have a job when I returned. Dawn and Giles were safe in England, so I didn’t have to worry about them. Wills and Ken had taken up residence in a suburb, under alias’, so they’d be safe. That just left me and I was conveniently being put out to pasture.

“We’re here.” Wills voice broke me out of my half sleep state. I sat up to read the approaching sign. ‘Welcome to Dawnville’, it said and I swear the next sign was a no vampire sign. I shook my head, trying to clear it up a little more.

I’d lost my sense of direction as we made another turn. Kennedy seemed to be giving the directions, with Will obeying each and every one. We finally turned onto a drive, well more like a path that led up to a small house.

As the car approached the house, motion lamps or something came to life, bathing us in the brightest light I’d ever seen, well bright like the sun. “Oh.” I muttered as I realized what the light was, ultra violet rays, good idea, should’ve been using those for what, the last ten years or so.

As soon as Wills and Ken stepped out of the car, they were soaked in water. Sprinklers everywhere appeared and started sprouting water forth.

They got back in the car, looking like drowned rats. “Holy water.” Ken mouthed. “She’s smarter than she used to be.” She said, looking to Will.

Willow laughed. “You think?” She stated, amused. She honked the horn twice and the sprinklers stopped, the lights changed from burning to a normal hue.

The next thing I know, the front doors were opened and they were getting out. A familiar voice washed over me as I struggled to see against the glare of the remaining light.

“Faith?” I stated, more in shock than anything else.

She flashed me a smile before getting down to business. “Well, come on, let’s get you settled in.”

It was awkward having to let someone help me walk into Faith’s house, embarrassing even but she didn’t act like it phased her in the least.

We all sat in the living room, going over recent events, with Faith getting the rundown over what happened to me. She took it all in stride, asking the usual questions, like, “What kind of demon? Is the A team on its trail?” As they talked over defense tactics, I took the time to look around the house. It was homey, not large, not small, just right and as I peered around the room something in the corner hiding caught my attention.

“Psst.” I whispered, getting their attention, pointing in the direction of whatever was hiding in the shadows.

Ken abruptly stood, pulling out a knife.

“Whoa.” Faith said quickly. “Holster that.” She said blatantly, without even glancing toward Ken.

She smiled, relaxing her tone, “come on out.”

A few seconds later a little boy stepped out of the shadows. She gave him a stern look before drawing the boy close and giving him a hug. “Jake, this is Willow, Ken and that’s Buffy.” She pointed at each one of us as she spoke our names. “Guys, this is Jake. Jake lives with me as well as an older woman, who watches him for me while I’m at work.” As if on cue the woman in question entered the room looking for the little boy.

Faith gave introductions again, along with a, ‘she’s staying here’ speech and went about the task of setting everyone up for the night.

She helped me to my new room, which happened to be her room, followed by Willow and proceeded to show me where everything was. She’d cleared out half of her closet and a chest of drawers for me, even had the bathroom set up for someone in my condition.

In the corner was a cane, a walker and a wheelchair. “I’m not crippled.” I spat out.

She shrugged. “Didn’t think you were but you’re not well either and it’ll take some time for you to heal. They’re mine from when I was hurt.” She was trying to appease me, adding, “there’s no pressure for you to use anything, no labels either. If you need them, they’re there.” Her voice was non challenging so I decided to just keep my mouth shut. I did however glare at the offending items again.

She laughed. “Okay, I’ll get rid of them.” She walked over and snatched up the chair and walker and took them from the room.

After a bit she came back, knocking lightly. “I’ve got to go to work. If you need me, you can reach me on this.” She held out a radio for Willow to take. “I stay on channel one. If you need anything here, just ask Elaine and she’ll get it for you or tell you where it is. Don’t worry about Jake, she’ll look out for him.”

She walked over to the closet and pulled out a uniform top, donned it and started strapping on some weaponry. I watched in awe as she strapped on a sword, a gun and put some stakes in her back pocket. The last thing she snapped on was some kind of utility belt filled with all kinds of things, wicked looking things.

“I’ll be making random passes by the house throughout the night, so if you see any lights or hear someone it’ll most likely be me, so look before you shoot or anything.” She smiled as she continued buttoning up her shirt, continuing, “the fridge is stocked and there’s some chicken salad sandwiches already made up. Remote for the TV and stuff is in the nightstand. Towels and things are already laid out for you.” She nodded at me. “Well, that’s about it.”

Kennedy walked in, eyeing Faith over. “Look at you, all grown up and legal.”

Faith laughed along with Kennedy before asking, “you want to patrol with me?”

“Hell yeah.” Ken shot back, adding, “let me get my shit and we’ll head out.”

They walked out, leaving Willow and me alone with our mouths hung open.

Willow looked at me dumbfounded, pointing after them. “Her badge said sheriff, didn’t it?” I nodded staring to the place where Wills was pointing.

 

I awoke the next morning to the sounds of water running and the wondrous stare of a kid. “Morning Jake.” I rasped out.

“Do you like kids?” He asked, looking at me expectantly.

I eyed him warily. “I do when they don’t ask me a lot of questions, why?” I yawned out.

He looked kind of sad, stating, “The last guy didn’t like me and said that I had to go.” He seemed to think about it then smiled, continuing, “but Faith said that I was staying and
that he could go.” He leaned over, whispering, looking at the bathroom door, adding, “and she threw him out on his lily white ass.” He snickered just a bit.

“You shouldn’t talk like that.” I whispered.

“Oh.” He said looking contrite, adding, “that’s what Kenny told that Red girl.”

I nodded, amused.

Faith stepped out of the bathroom at that moment, her hair still wet from the shower. “Good morning B.” She said, smiling.

I eyed her over, grunting, “mmmph.” I mumbled.

She chuckled lightly, whispering, “come on Jake, let Buffy sleep.” They left the room quietly, pulling the door closed behind them.

I’m not sure how long I slept but when I woke up the house was quiet. I wouldn’t have minded staying in bed but my bladder was screaming at me.

When all was said and done, I hobbled into the living area and fell back into a chair, immediately propping my leg up for support.

Faith was sleeping on the sofa, sprawled all over it, her hair wild and untamed. I had to smile in spite of myself. It was good to see her again, maybe this time around I wouldn’t mess things up so bad.

I had to admit that she’d surprised me. I mean she had a house, a job, a kid, even a parental figure. She’d done good and I was proud of her.

The front door creaked open and in walked Willow and Ken. “Shhhh.” I whispered, pointing toward Faith.

The pulled me up and led me into the kitchen. Willow pulled a plate out of the oven and put it in the microwave, warming it up. “We’ve got to head back.” She said as she put the now hot plate before me. “You’ll be okay. Faith will watch out for you while you’re recovering.”

I nodded and looked at the plate, sighing as I took a big bite, chewing, contemplating. I finally spoke up. “I don’t want to put them in danger.” I said lowly. “She’s got a family now and I don’t want to ruin it.”

“Then don’t.” Ken mouthed off from the doorway.

“You make it sound so easy.” I replied.

She laughed. “It is easy. Faith’s got this whole town locked up tight. We didn’t even see one demon or vamp out last night. She’s really planned ahead here, so there’s no reason for you to be uptight.”

I looked up at her. “I wasn’t referring to that.”

“Yeah I know.” Ken stated, stepping closer. “I didn’t really want to threaten you but what the hell. Don’t mess with her head and don’t you dare hurt her just because you don’t know what you want.” Ken glared at me, her voice full of intent.

I looked at her hard. “You’re a good one to talk, as if you didn’t hurt Willow when you wanted to find your other half… and I can’t help but wonder, if she hadn’t of been such a pig, would you really be here now?” Anger fuelled my words, making them burn more than I’d intended.

Ken stepped even closer to me. “Don’t try and make this about me, this isn’t about two people here, it’s an entire family. If you hurt one, you’ll hurt them all.”

Willow got in between us, trying to keep the argument from escalating. “Faith is a big girl.” She looked to Ken and then back to me. “We’ve got to go Buffy.” Willow said as she leaned over and gave me a hug.” We’ll see you soon. Be safe.”

I nodded.

Willow pulled Kennedy toward the door. Kennedy stopped abruptly, looking at me. “Don’t start nothing you don’t intend to finish.”

Willow pulled her again, whispering, “come on, let them deal with it.” She waved at me and gave Ken a shove toward the door. “Take care.” She whispered as she left the house.

I swear Kennedy really pisses me off at times. Who does she think she is telling me not to start something I can’t finish.

Have I ever done something so callous? Oh. I thought about it and sighed.

Well, yeah, okay, maybe I have but surely I wouldn’t do something like that now, right? Right.

Yeah….. right.

 

4.

 

After Willow and Kennedy left, things pretty much reverted into a scheduled system, not that I’m complaining, its just that Faith was always so sporadic, spur of the moment and now….. settled? It kind of throws you for a loop, that’s all.

Days consisted of her coming in from work, showering, getting Jake up and to school, oh and lets not forget breakfast. Breakfast was her specialty and she did it up chef style. I was basically served breakfast in bed every morning and when Faith left to take Jake to school, I’d get a shower or bath. Faith would come back and I’d get one hell of a massage, to help my muscles get ready for a workout and then she’d make me run through a list of physical therapy exercises that I had, followed up by another massage to relax the constricting muscles. Who am I kidding, it felt wonderful.

She moved a weight bench in the bedroom along with light weights and had me doing a light workout for my upper body. I still couldn’t handle any lower body workouts, my leg, well my leg and the nerves that ran through it weren’t ready for that. So I worked what I could and left the rest for a later time.

After the workout, Faith would crash, bed, couch, floor, chair, it didn’t matter. If she sat down and got still she was asleep.

This went on for weeks and what happened today, well today she brought in a recumbent bike. She means well, really but she’s worried about my leg, although she doesn’t say anything. I can just tell.

“You’re trying to get me up and out, right?” I questioned her, teasingly.

She laughed. “Nah, just trying to put some shape on those skinny ass legs of yours.”

“Hey!” I mouthed off. “Those are my skinny ass legs you’re talking about.”

She laughed then got kind of quiet all of a sudden, sitting on the edge of the bed.

“You okay?” I asked, noticing the dark circles under her eyes.

She breathed out slowly, almost a sigh of relief. “Yeah, I’m just tired lately, not really feeling all that well.”

I sat down and scooted closer to her. “Guess it’s your turn to get some TLC, huh?” I asked smiling.

Her gaze locked with mine and we sat there quietly, focused on one another until she finally answered. “Sounds nice.”

I nodded agreeing with her as I leaned closer, looking slowly to her lips then back to her eyes.

She leaned a little bit closer, hesitant almost, slowly licking her lips, wetting them.

I sighed and closed the distance, touching my lips tentatively to hers, delivering soft, warm kisses, over and over before pressing my body against hers, begging for her to return the embrace.

She encircled me, pulling me closer, sighing against my lips, taking those soft kisses that I was offering and making them harder, deeper, getting as close to me as she could.

She relaxed into me, penetrating me with her tongue, easing it inside my mouth, withdrawing it slowly over and over, making me hold in a gasp with each entry and taking my breath with each retreat.

Her hand eased from around my back to my side, over my hip and down to knead my ass before trailing it back up toward my chest. Slowly she palmed the swell of my breast, gently kneading it as she moved her lips down my neck, sucking gently, thoroughly, marking me before she leaned against me, breathing and whimpering against my ear.

Her hot breath and gentle sighs seemed to echo throughout my head, causing chill bumps to form along my skin. My breaths came quicker and with each intake of air, a small sigh exited, pushing us further into a haze.

She trailed her mouth from my ear back to my lips, giving wet, unrelenting kisses. Her thumb grazed over my nipple, stopped and added pressure, the feeling causing me to bite down on her lower lip, sucking it into my mouth.

I pulled back slightly, my eyes closed, relishing the feeling of her hands on me. I let her bottom lip slip from mine. I slowly opened my eyes, only to find her staring back at me.

Our eyes locked again and we sat there motionless, still, each frozen, staring into each other’s eyes, our breaths starting to flow together, in unison.

I stood up, turning to face her, my fear etched clearly upon my face, looking deeply into those dark pools that she calls eyes. I watched my reflection as I slowly pulled my top over my head and off, watched her take in every inch of skin for her viewing pleasure, watched her hold her breath in anticipation as I unclasped my bra and removed it.

Her lip quivered slightly as I leaned over and took her hands in mine, slowly bringing each one up to my lips to place a light kiss on them, then placed them on the waistband of my pants.

She hesitantly lowered herself into a kneeling position in front of me, her eyes boring deep into mine, asking for assurance, that this was what I wanted.

I ran my hand through her hair, drawing her closer to my body, letting her know that I had no doubts.

Her fingers lightly traced patterns over my stomach before clasping around the fabric and easing it downwards. Her hands teased their way back up my legs as she leaned against me, placing light kisses over my thighs.

I felt her fingers lightly touch my mound, followed by a kiss over the fabric of my panties. I reached down, pushing at my last obstacle of clothing, trying to free myself from its restrictions.

Her fingers wrapped around the lace, pulled and drug the article slowly from my body.

Instantly her mouth was on me, delving at my center, lapping, tasting. She slid her tongue through my folds, her hands pulling me tight against her face.

Her breathing sounded around the room, followed by loud moans and sighs. I’m not sure what was getting to me more, her hot mouth on me or the sounds that she was making as she tasted me.

I lost my balance, falling, dizzy from the affect that she was having on me. She caught me, lifted me and laid me across the bed.

She stepped back away from the bed and started to undress herself, keeping her eyes focused on mine. Time seemed to slow as she pulled off each layer of clothing, slowly revealing her body to me.

She walked to the foot of the bed, eyeing my exposed body hungrily, her breathing becoming erratic.

She climbed up on the bed and gently spread my legs open, making room for her body.

I watched as she crawled up the bed toward me, her hands and lips leaving a trail of fire along my legs, moving upward, teasing and tasting every inch.

She settled back down between my legs, kissing and feeling along my outer folds. She parted me with her tongue, slowly licking along the side of my swollen nub, over and over, setting up a joyous rhythm. The more she lost herself in the motion, the louder she moaned, her voice raspy with long built up need.

I arched into her, pushing against her mouth, encouraging her to continue.

She met each thrust of my hips, pushing her tongue against me, harder, faster. Her hand slid up from my thigh and lightly brushed over my opening, her fingers pushing around in the wetness, preparing me.

She pushed two fingers inside of me, immediately curling them and pushed them fluidly in and out, matching the rhythm we’d set.

I cried out, pushing against her harder as she continued her assault on me, her mouth taking in every part of me it could, creating a sensuous suction that was driving me insane.

Over and over she pushed, rocking against me, harder, faster, deeper; her lips making a smacking sound as they touched against me, pushing through my wetness.

I grabbed her head, whimpering out, crashing myself against her, pushing, climbing higher and higher.

My body reached its peak, adrenaline rushed through the surface only to burst out through my pores. I started convulsing, my walls clamping around her fingers, pulsating, causing me to cry out.

She continued lapping against me, rocking her fingers inside of me, drawing out every ounce of energy that I had, racking my body and mind with multiple surges of electricity, causing me to literally scream out her name. My voice was hoarse from begging her to stop one minute then begging her not to stop the next.

When my body finally collapsed she stopped, stilled against me, laying her head against my lower stomach and rested. I could feel her smiling against my skin, felt her slowly starting to disengage her fingers from inside of me.

I lay underneath her, my eyes closed, breathing heavily, my hands still tangled in her hair.

I listened to her breathing, felt her breaths tickle over my stomach as she lightly traced patterns along my thigh with her fingertips.

I untangled my hands from her hair and caressed her head, moving the unruly locks from in front of her face, tucking them behind her ear.

“Come here.” I whispered.

Slowly she eased her way up my body, trailing wet kisses along my stomach, teasing her lips up toward my breasts. She slowly licked underneath one, rimming the sensitive flesh before grazing her lips and face over the fullness, only stopping to pull a hardened nipple into her mouth, gently sucking one while kneading the other in the palm of her hand.

She kissed her way over to the other and ravished it before slowly making her way to my mouth. Pulling back, she gazed into my eyes, bringing her fingers up to lightly trace over my lips.

As she lowered her lips to mine, she positioned herself flush against my skin, her center directly above mine.

Slowly she moved against me, melding us together. I opened my legs further, allowing more contact between us.

She gently rocked her body against me, our slick centers touching together caused a warm friction that started to flow throughout my body.

She sighed and placed her forehead next to mine, her glazed eyes reaching out to me, focused and lost at the same time.

With each rotation of her hips she sighed against my lips, her breaths starting to come in gasps.

I watched as her face etched in concentration, her eyes fighting to stay locked with mine but slowly losing the battle to ecstasy.

I arched into her, putting more pressure where she needed it.

She gasped, bit her lip slightly and lowered her lips to mine, her body starting to thrust against me.

I met each thrust and trailed my hands down to her ass, cupping it, pulling her harder against me.

The sounds of our centers pressing together and pulling apart echoed through the room.

She whimpered against my lips, her thrusts becoming faster, more sporadic.

“Come on baby.” I spurred her on, watching as her heavy lidded eyes finally fluttered closed.

She moved her lips to my ear and bit my lobe, sighing, her moans echoed throughout my body, causing chill bumps to form.

The closer she got, the louder she moaned, her sounds came in short gasps, growing more and more shallow.

Her breath caught and her body fell against me. I pulled her tighter to me, thrusting my body into hers.

“Don’t stop.” I begged.

She whimpered against my ear and met my thrusts, crying out with each press of our bodies together.

I squeezed her ass, gripping her harder, helping to keep up her momentum.

I felt a warmth envelope me, felt the fire start to uncoil, seeping out around me, felt the pressure building up inside of me.

I met each of her sighs with a moan, pulling her toward me, rocking our bodies harder.

Her moans became short gasps as she pushed against me, her breaths sounding on each outtake.

Her breath caught again and she shuddered above me, her body falling against mine.

I kept pulling her into me, thrusting my hips upwards, feeling her pulsate against my swollen nub.

“Please baby.” I pleaded.

She moved, crashing her hips against mine, sending tendrils of electricity coursing through my body.

Her hair was drenched with sweat, a light sheen of moisture covered her face and neck.

I started to pant.

She thrust herself forward, gasping as her wet center collided with mine, mingled then pulled apart.

Harder and faster she pushed, causing my breaths to burst forth in short sighs.

I started breathing fast, gasping for air, the pressure building up and finally bursting over.

I cried out as my body shuddered underneath her, my nails digging into her skin.

She continued thrusting, gasping out, her breaths raining down on me.

She thrust a final time, letting out a low feral moan and collapsed against me, her body draped over mine.

She stilled, breathing shallow and light.

I smiled, laughing slightly, still stunned at the intensity of her climax, all of them. I lightly trailed my fingertips over her sweat soaked skin.

“You okay?” I breathed out.

She laid quietly over me, unmoving, her breaths still slight. I continued to trace patterns over her back, watching her. After a minute or two I got worried. “Faith?” I questioned, leaning up to look at her.

She sighed.

I smiled, looking at her. She was completely spent, exhausted and that left me with a good feeling.

I gently rolled us over, placing her on the bottom and me on top, disentangling us from each other. I watched as she settled back against the pillows, her eyes fluttering closed, her breathing becoming deep and labored. Smiling, I leaned in and gave her a soft kiss and lightly trailed my fingers over her, tickling her skin, mapping out each and every inch of her body.

Her nipples automatically hardened underneath my ministrations, causing me to hunger for a taste. Gently, I lowered myself over her, sucking the tip into my mouth, rolling my tongue around it as I kneaded the other softly. I moved to the other, slowly placing my mouth over it, glancing up at her face, watching her facial reactions to my touch.

Smiling, I let my hand travel lower, reaching the junction of her legs. I pulled my mouth from her breast, my lips making a wet smacking noise. I scooted down further on the bed, lightly opening her folds, feeling her. I watched her face constrict as I slowly pushed a finger inside of her. I groaned out loud as her walls surrounded my finger, pulling me in deeper. Slowly I eased it out, biting my lip at my next urge.

I couldn’t resist. Slowly I lowered my head to her center and placed a light kiss. I looked up at her face and lowered my mouth to her again. I parted her gently, stopping momentarily as I gazed at the pink flesh before me. I ran my tongue inside of her folds, swirling my tongue over and around her nerve endings.

She shifted, grunted and stirred. I smiled against her mound and placed a soft wet kiss against it.

Slowly I crawled back up her body and laid in the bend of her arm. I watched her sleep for an hour or so before I finally closed my eyes, nestled against her.

 

5.

 

I woke up sometime in the afternoon, still nestled against Faith. She shifted, squeezed me against her, snuggling her face in my hair, “love you.” She whispered.

I froze, stiffened against her. I didn’t know what to say, I mean, yeah, I felt something for her but love? I don’t think so.

She let me off the hook as she untangled our arms and legs, moving to get dressed. I watched her, quietly taking in her words.

“It’s okay. I didn’t expect anything in return.” She never looked at me; she just kept her back to me, pulling on her clothes. “It was nice….. more than I ever imagined, a lot more than I deserved.” She talked low, her voice calculated. “I’m going to pick up Jake.” She said, walking toward the door.

“Faith.” I called out, stopping her retreat. “It was nice and it did mean….. something.” I felt my face contort, as my mind quickly hunted for a word to describe what I meant.

I saw her look at me and I started to speak again but her eyes had already taken on that old familiar dullness.

I sighed and moved toward her. I tried to reach out to her, make her understand. “I just can’t promise anything right now but we’ll talk more in depth later okay?’ I asked, hoping that I didn’t completely alienate her.

She nodded and left.

I felt like a complete ass and no doubt about it, when Kennedy hears about this, she’s really gonna kick my ass and what’s worse, I think I’m gonna let her.

I started getting dressed, waiting for them to return.

They finally made it back. Jake was kind of indifferent, not a clue as to what had transpired between me and his…. Mom, chosen or otherwise but Elaine, oh she was actually happy until she looked at Faith’s face, then she gave me the evil eye and I’m not sure but I think she flashed a finger or two my way.

Faith announced that we were going downtown, told me to get ready and left briefly. She returned and helped me get into her truck.

Suddenly, I eyed the wheelchair in the bed of the truck. I quickly became upset. “I’m not riding in that thing.” I said, louder than intended.

She turned on me, anger flaring in her eyes. “Well do you think I’m gonna carry your ass all over Dawnville?” She asked, her tone sarcastic, biting.

The more I looked at that damned chair, the madder I got. “I’m not crippled.” I spat out between clenched teeth.

Faith just snapped. Her face turned blood red and heat radiated off of her. She walked over and slammed the door in my face, stomped to the bed of the truck, snatched the wheelchair out of the back and flung it off into the bushes.

I heard Jake snicker from the backseat.

“Shhh.” I whispered, nodding my head no, meaning for him to stop and be quiet. I faced front, not really wanting to see why she was making so much noise or why the truck was being jarred.

She finally got in the truck and off we went toward town, all of us quiet, refusing to look at each other or talk.

Leave it to Jake to make the tension reach a new level. “Have you got chicken pops?” He asked, looking at both of us, pointing at our necks.

I kind of shrunk down in the seat as she ignored his question.

She stopped at the edge of town, parked and got out, leaving me sitting there in the truck, wondering if she was leaving me behind. The truck shifted several times and then my door was opened.

She smiled, giving me an eat shit look.

I eyed her over carefully, finally letting my eyes fall behind her. “No.” I spat out.

She nodded her head, yes.

“No.” I said again.

“Yep.” She replied, reached in and plucked me out of the truck.

I started squirming, yelling, “there ain’t no way in hell I’m riding in that!”

She sighed heavily and dropped my ass in it anyway and before I could get up she took off with me in tow and Jake running along beside us.

“Faith.” I spat out, growing more and more upset at the way she was ignoring me.

“Faith!” I yelled, cutting through her stubbornness. She stopped abruptly, turning on me.

She leaned in toward me, trying to shield what she was gonna say from Jake. “Shut up!” She said lowly, her teeth clenched tightly together. “One more bitchy word out of you and I’ll roll your ass down a fucking hill.” Her eyes widened, daring me to protest.

I looked deeper into her eyes, kind of afraid to take her up on that challenge, all I could manage was, “and you would too, wouldn’t you?”

She just stared at me, her brow arched, waiting.

I swallowed my pride. “Sorry.” I breathed out, adding, “it’s just embarrassing. I mean, what adult gets wheeled around town in a big red wagon?” I looked up at her, her face softened, a hint of a smile starting to show.

She started pulling me again, stating, “it’s not a wagon, it’s a radio flyer.”

“Can I ride too?” Jake called out.

Well, okay, truth be told, after a little bit of riding, it’s not so bad, I mean, it’s kind of fun and not one person is paying any attention to us at all. I guess they’re used to Faith being…. Quirky.

She met and greeted everyone she saw, went into each and every shop. I could tell that something had started bothering her, hell; I could even sense that something was up.

She stopped at a little ice cream shop, walked to the window and ordered three chocolate dipped cones. I noticed her looking around while she was waiting, searching for what was wrong. She’s slick, I’ll give her that. She bent over pretending to tie her shoes and slipped a couple of stakes into her waistband, hidden just underneath her shirt.

She sauntered back over to us, giving us our cones. She brushed her body against mine, quickly laying one of the stakes in my lap, whispering, “Jake, stay with Buffy and stay out of the shade.”

I watched his eyes get big as he sat back down at the end of the wagon, scooting up close to me.

She walked us further into town, slowing as the tingles became stronger.

She moved me and Jake over to some benches, helped me out of the wagon and fumbled through her backpack, handing Jake a water gun. She pulled out a cross and gave it to me. “Stay put.” She whispered and knelt down in front of Jake. “No matter what you see or hear, stay put, understand?” She waited for him to nod and gave him a kiss on the forehead. She looked in my eyes and walked away from us.

I really didn’t like being a bystander, watching her knowingly walk into something was more than I could take. I was doing a lot better and it’s not like I couldn’t walk now. I could walk fine, just not for long periods of time.

I felt Jake’s small hand touch mine. He looked as if he were watching a western on TV, all wide eyed, licking on his ice cream cone.

My heart started thumping hard in my chest as I watched her skirt around the edge of the stores, hunting.

She stopped abruptly, turning toward a closed store front, causing me to take in a breath and hold it.

I saw her walk to the edge of the sidewalk, staying in the sunlight, not moving under the awning into the covered area. She started talking to a boy. I strained, focusing, tuning into her to hear her words. I could just barely make out what she was saying, so I focused harder, listening.

“Mikey, come here. Where’s your brother, huh? Where’s Ben?” She leaned closer, motioning for him to come to her. He hesitantly moved toward her. She continued talking to him. “Where’s your mom at?” He turned looking at the darkened store. “Mikey!” She got his attention. “I want you to walk to me now. Don’t stop. Don’t turn around. Come on Mike.” She held out her hand to him as he moved closer to her.

I saw the glint of yellow eyes from the doorway, heard the piercing scream as another boy, about the age of Jake, ran out of the store and barreled toward Faith and the kid.

She leaned over, grabbed Mikey’s shirt and snatched him toward her fast, hard, pulling him out into the light.

The other boy, crazed by his hunger, lunged at them, his hands brushing against them as his body disintegrated in the shining sun.

Faith ran the boy over to me and ran back to the store, entering.

It felt like hours before I knew anything and then sounds erupted from within the store, shouts and crashes seemed to echo and fill in the void.

The window caved and Faith rolled out onto the sidewalk holding onto a woman, wrestling her to the ground, pushing her arm out of the shade and into the sun.

“Who did this?” She screamed. “Who?” She pushed more of the vampire’s skin into the light, causing it to smoke and burn.

It screamed.

I covered Mikey’s face, shielding him from the view. I had the distinct impression that he was watching his mother, well what was left of her.

As Faith continued to fight and punish the vampire, another stepped out through the broken window, slowly moving up behind her.

I stood up, wanting to run to her and caught myself before I left the kids alone.

I didn’t know what to do, finally I screamed, “behind you!”

She turned, quickly grabbing hold of the approaching vampire as he fell on top of her and rolled herself out into the sun, pulling them with her, their bodies turning to dust under and around her.

She hoisted herself off the ground quickly and ran over to us, grabbed her backpack and ran back into the store.

A few minutes later, a flash appeared from within, sending white light bursting through the windows and door.

A crowd gathered around, watching as she emerged from inside. She looked at all of them. “If you were a part of this, you’d better leave, cause I will find out and when I do, God help the fool who brought this vampire in.”

She walked into the nearby stores, hunting, watching people, letting her slayer senses lead her.

A store or so later another flash burst forth, followed by her shoving someone out into the street, the person rolling carelessly across the asphalt.

The man stood up. “You can’t do this.” He yelled.

She stalked over to him, cocked her fist and knocked him back about ten feet. “I just did.” She spat out. She moved closer. “ A kid is dead, another orphaned and you house and hide one of them in your home?” Closer she moved. “This is my town and you’ll get the hell out or I’ll let Cletus over there eat your sorry ass.”

“You wouldn’t.” He screamed at her.

She shrugged indifferently. “That’s what you get when you elect a murderer as sheriff.” She turned to a couple of deputies that had just arrived. “Dump him.” She ordered.

They moved in and took the guy away, with him screaming at the top of his lungs.

She gave a few more orders and made her way back to me and the boys.

She sighed and looked at Mikey. She knelt down before him, “Hey Mikey, you okay?” She wiped at his tears, pulling him to her, hugging him. “You wanna come and stay with me?” She asked as she rubbed his back. He melted against her, nodding. “Okay then, let’s go home.” She whispered.

I didn’t argue this time, I merely sat back in the wagon and made room for Jake, who snuggled up against me.

She turned and started walking us back toward the truck, still clutching onto the boy.

I watched her in awe and amazement, seeing her as if for the first time… and she was wonderful, well, minus the feeding the guy to the monster thing. That didn’t fly too well with me but for right now, I wasn’t looking to be on the menu so I kept my mouth shut.

She kept the boys close to her the entire evening, giving them touches, caresses and small kisses. She read them a story and tucked them safely into bed, finally stopping to rest herself.

I walked over to her, sitting on the arm of the couch. “You okay?” I asked.

She nodded, finally speaking. “I’ve got to make sure that that was the only vamp.” She whispered.

I nodded, sitting there quietly. I really just couldn’t stand it anymore. “Listen, did you really let that guy…. “

She laughed, cutting off my question. “No, not really but it worked to push my point across. We just raided his stuff and dumped him about three counties over.”

She started to move. “Where are you going?” I asked.

“To patrol.” She replied.

I moved closer to her, caressing her face. “Do that tomorrow, tonight, get some rest, the others are patrolling tonight.”

She nodded and laid out across the sofa, pulling an afghan over her.

I deflated just a bit as I watched her settle in to get some sleep.

I wanted her to lie next to me but I didn’t want to lead her on or anything. As much as I wanted to be close to her, I knew deep down that I had somewhere else to be and I’ll admit that it hurt, wanting someone but knowing that it could never lead anywhere.

I turned and went to the bedroom, silently closing the door behind me, lying across the bed, completely surrounded by thoughts of Faith.

 

6.

 

Sometime early in the morning I woke up, hearing something outside. I made my way to the window to peer out. It was Faith, heading out to patrol. She was taking this new threat personally and that’s not a good thing.

The schedule she’d put herself on was manic at the least and it was wearing her out, fast.

Basically, she’d patrol after the kids went to bed, come in and shower, get the kids up and take them to school, come back and run me through my p.t. then she’d sweep the town, bring the kids home and if she was lucky, she’d sleep a good two hours before the whole cycle started again.

Three weeks in and she was haggard, with dark circles under her eyes. It was around this time that her luck ran out.

While out on patrol she ran into a few demons. She got them but not before one of them got in a lucky swipe. It seems it had tendrils or something, with barbs protruding out of each one. She was cut up pretty badly. That was when I stepped up and took over some of the household duties.

She ran a fever for three days before it broke and then it was if she was back to normal, little did we know that that was only the beginning.

That’s when it started. The sickness. One minute she was just as vibrant and the next, she was ashen, deathly white.

For weeks, well three or four, I think she was constantly sick. She played it off, kept up appearances for the kids and kept right on patrolling, even kept up her sweeps through the town. I tried not to say anything, especially since she didn’t seem to want anyone to notice but I could tell and I was worried.

She’d stopped eating all together, in fact the very smell of food itself seemed to bring on the sickness. She was just listless and drained.

As for me, well I’d finally gotten my legs back under me so to speak, was up and ready to try a few things and I’d decided that if I couldn’t get her to stop patrolling that I was going with her. I guess that old adage of if you can’t beat them join them is true, especially when that someone is as stubborn as Faith. She welcomed me on patrol, okay, that’s a lie, she really didn’t want me to come along, I could tell, but nevertheless I went.

She’d been sensing some kind of activity near a small packing plant, so that’s where we headed. I followed close behind her, noting that she was paler than any dead guy I’d ever seen. She also seemed weakened more so than usual but I sure as hell wasn’t going to bring that to her attention.

Confession time, I could’ve went back home two weeks ago. Wills called and told me that Angel and his crew had successfully taken out that demon and his few hired guns, so the threat to me was gone but I just couldn’t leave yet, not with Faith being sick and all. I at least owed it to her to look after her and the little guys while she was incapacitated.

Anyway, we made it to the plant, which really was nothing more than a pavilion of some kind with some crates strewn around the place.

I looked around, feeling that old familiar tingle. I pointed beyond the plant and moved through the thick brush with Faith following behind me.

“Just ahead.” I whispered, looking back at her. She was drenched in sweat. “You okay?” I asked.

She just stared at me, quiet.

“Shit.” I muttered, making my way over to her. “Let’s get out of here.” I whispered, putting my arm around her, leading her out of the thicket.

I could feel something moving in closer to us. I watched for any signs of where they were.

Suddenly, Faith grabbed her stomach and doubled over, whimpering.

“Faith, we have to get out of here. We’re not alone.” I whispered, pleading with her to suck in the pain and get out of here, well at least help me get her out of here.

She nodded, pain etched clearly over her features and started moving again.

The brush moved all around us, twigs snapped as the hunters stepped forward to look at their prey.

“What are you?” Faith managed to ask, adding, “besides ugly.”

I cut my eyes at her, thinking that this really isn’t the time for witty repartee.

The biggest one and I’m guessing the leader stepped forward, snarling. “Don’t make me mad little girl, you wouldn’t like me mad, I do get ugly.” He morphed his face to prove his point.

Even sick, Faith’s got a smart ass mouth, wish I could put my fist in it.

She eyed the vamp, stood up straight, refusing to back down, what is it with her and pride anyway. She looked him in the eye, taunting, “well you must be PISSED then,” she stressed the pissed part, adding, “cause you’re sure enough ugly.”

He hoisted her off the ground, growling low, pulling her toward him.

I froze, trying to think of what to do. I couldn’t attack him, I might hit Faith so I settled for the next best thing. I lunged at the smaller ones, taking their numbers down quickly.

“Faith!” I yelled, trying to snap her out of her daze.

All of a sudden she burst forth, well all of her insides burst forth. Oh man, she spew, blew chunks all over the big human Hoover.

He dropped her, wiping at his face and clothes.

I stopped fighting just to watch, my face scrunched up at the grossness of it all.

She was on a roll, well again, her stomach was. It made easy pickens of the demons. I was able to walk right up and take out a couple more without any resistance at all. They were so busy trying to make sure they weren’t gonna get puked on that they didn’t even see me coming.

While they regrouped, I ran over and grabbed up Faith. “Come on spewing beauty.” I said as I wrapped my arm around her torso and lifted her.

I pretty much drug her out of the woods, all the way back to the pitiful plant. I sat her on a crate and watched for any signs that we’d been followed.

After I felt pretty confident that we were alone, I turned to Faith. “What’s wrong with you?” I asked.

She just kind of looked up at me weakly, mumbling, “sorry.”

“I’m calling Willow, she’ll know what to do. You got sick after that demon scratched you, it’s got to be magical.” I walked closer to her. “Lets go home and get you bathed and into bed.”

She stood briefly and dropped like a rock, falling face first into the dirt.

I ran over and checked her, relieved that her vitals were there. I hoisted her up into a fireman’s carry and took her home.

I was in such a hurry to get us back that I forgot to turn off the alarm. As soon as we stepped on the lawn we were blinded by the lights, a few more feet in and we were soaked.

I heard the front door open and the cocking of a shotgun. “Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot! It’s us!” I yelled.

Elaine turned the lights and water off just as I reached the porch. I pushed through the doorway and carried Faith in the bedroom, placing her on the bed.

I started pulling off her wet and soiled clothing. I felt Elaine behind me, watching. “Run her a hot shower.” I said, adding, “She needs a doctor.”

I heard Elaine from the bathroom. “Honey, can’t no doctor help her, she doesn’t need anything but time.”

I glanced toward the bathroom, shaking off those words. I looked back to Faith and started patting her face, gently bringing her to. “Come on Faith. Let’s get you clean and into some pajamas.”

After getting her clean and dry and tucked into bed, I jumped in a hot bath myself, trying to figure out what I was gonna do. I quickly pushed all thoughts out of my head, not wanting to think about it.

I climbed in the bed next to Faith. She turned and snuggled up next to me. “Cold.” She whispered, as she pressed herself closer to me, entangling herself around me. I hugged her close and closed my eyes, letting sleep take me over.

She slept right through Willow and Ken’s visit. Ken just stared at me as if she were trying to read my mind and Wills just made a face, telling me that Faith was going to be okay, that the sickness just had to run its course. I heard them arguing that night about Faith but I didn’t push them for any information about it. Willow finally gave me some ground tea or something, said it would help to settle Faith’s stomach and they left.

For the next two weeks she slept and I mean round the clock. I got up, fixed breakfast, got the kids to school, did my workout alone, picked the kids up, did homework or whatever, made dinner and let me just say that you don’t know stubborn until you try to get two little guys to eat their vegetables, anyway, back to my rant. I gave baths and done the general tucking in duties of reading stories and giving kisses and hugs.

I tried and tried to get Faith to eat. She’d manage some saltines, maybe some sprite. She’d soak in a hot tub, steal another pair of my flannel pj’s and climb back into bed.

Then this morning, I’m washing up the breakfast dishes and she comes up behind me, snaking her arms around me, giving me a nice leisurely hug as she kissed the back of my neck.

It was nice and truthfully, it felt wonderful. I pushed back into her embrace. She pretty much took that as an invitation to tighten her grip around me and trailed her lips around to my neck.

“Morning.” She whispered against my ear.

I smiled, shifting my head to allow her better access, saying, “looks like you’re finally hungry.”

“Starved.” She growled out, her lips still grazing over my skin.

I turned around in her embrace, getting a good look at her. “You look better.” I stated.

“I feel better.” She said before leaning in and placing a slow gentle kiss against my lips.

I smiled up at her as she pulled back. “Want some breakfast?” I asked.

“Oh yeah.” She said as she sat at the table, looking up at me expectantly.

I just stared at her and she flashed me a brilliant smile.

I laughed. “Okay. I’ll cook.”

I fixed her a huge breakfast of pancakes, bacon and eggs and she devoured it, as a matter of fact, for the next two weeks she pretty much demolished everything in the house.

During that time she had also became very attentive, amorous, very loving and I can’t say that I didn’t like it because I did, it’s just that my time had finally ran out. I had to leave in two days. My family leave had run out and I had to go back, otherwise, I’d lose my job.

She looked like she was in shock when I told her. The little guys didn’t take it well either. I felt like a traitor and they both treated me like one. Faith talked with them but she didn’t really know how to make things better.

The day that Willow and Kennedy showed up was awful. I think we were all on the verge of tears. I’d talked to Faith privately. I was at a loss for words and what I did manage to say was utter crap, stuff like, “we’ll keep in touch,” or “I’ll call you.”

She looked at me, placed her hand over mine and in the softest voice said, “I don’t want you to go. I know you’re chasing a dream, that you feel you have to follow it but it’s just a dream Buffy and we’re real, we’re here and we want you. The boys love you and so do I.”

I nodded. “I know. I know how you and the guys feel and it’s not that, its not you, it’s me, I’m not sure of how I feel or what I want and I don’t feel like I’m chasing a dream, I feel like I’m chasing my future.”

I looked up at her only to find her relenting, giving in, up, one or the other, both most likely.

We walked outside and watched the boys play for a bit, until it was finally time to go.

Kennedy and Faith walked over from where they’d been talking and catching up, hugging each other goodbye.

I looked at Faith, Jake and Mikey and slowly walked over to them.

I placed my arms around Faith, hugging her. “I’m gonna miss you.” I said, snatching the cookie she had out of her hand, popping it in my mouth, continuing, “quit eating so much, you’re getting fat.”

She laughed. “More to love, more to love.”

I smiled at her, saying, “That’s a fact.”

I moved to the two boys and kneeled. “I’m gonna miss you guys. You take care of your mom, okay?” I asked, giving them a big hug.

They started pleading with me, tears streaming down their faces. “Please don’t go Buffy. We love you. You said you loved us. Please.”

Tears formed in my eyes. “I have to go home.” I said, trying to make them understand.

“Guys.” Faith said, walking over and standing behind them, touching them.

She nodded at me, motioning for me to go.

I got in the car, afraid to look back. “Go Ken.” I said lowly, tears starting to fall.

Willow turned around to face me, reaching out to touch me. “Buffy, you don’t have to leave.”

Ken looked at me through the rear view mirror. “Go.” I said, my voice shaky.

She shook her head slightly and slowly started the car, heading down the drive. I heard Mikey calling out to me. “Buffy….. Buffy!”

I turned to see him running after the car with Faith following behind him.

He fell in the dirt crying. I watched as she scooped him up and started carrying him back to the house.

I watched as she went up the steps, put her arm around Jake and took her boys inside.

The last thing I saw was the door close.

 

7.

 

The ride home was pure torture. I wasn’t really able to talk to anyone and they didn’t know what to say….. so they just didn’t say anything at all, they just kept eyeing me from time to time, then they’d look at each other. It wasn’t too hard to tell what they were thinking and it finally got the better of me.

“What?” I shouted. “You got something you want to say to me? Just say it!” I challenged them but looked pointedly at Ken, wanting to pick a fight.

Ken looked at me through the rear view mirror. “Say it!” I spat out.

Ken stated flatly. “You’re an idiot.” She went right back to concentrating on the road.

Well, what could I say to that? Nothing. I settled back against the seat, closed my eyes and tried to relax the rest of the ride home.

It wasn’t long before someone broke me out of my resting state. “Buffy.” Willow said, trying to get my attention.

“Buffy.” She tried again.

I opened my eyes, looking at her, questioning.

“We’re here.” She said.

“Oh.” I replied, lowly.

I sat there quietly for a few minutes before I finally got out of the car. I made my way to my apartment with Wills following close behind me. I opened the door and turned on the light, staring at the big empty room, the one that went with my big empty life.

I sighed heavily, threw my bag in the corner and myself in a chair.

“You want a drink?” Willow asked.

I nodded, signifying no.

She sat there with me, not really saying or doing anything, just offering her presence as comfort.

I eyed the phone repeatedly, wanting to call but not really knowing if I should or not. In the end, want, desire and need won out. I picked up the phone and called.

“Hello.” She answered.

“Hey.” I said lowly, a smile starting to spread across my face. “I just wanted to let you know that I got home safe and all.”

“Yeah, I know. Ken called.” She replied.

Silence.

“So how are the boys?” I asked, trying to smile again.

I heard her almost laugh but not in a good way. “They’re the same as you left them.” She stated.

“Oh… I’m sorry….. I didn’t mean to hurt them.” I offered.

I heard her sigh into the phone. “You hurt all of us but it’s okay B. You had to go back to your life. I get that and in time they will too.” I heard the boys yelling in the background. She continued, “I have to go okay, I appreciate you calling and I’m glad that you made it back all right……. Goodnight.” She whispered the last word and severed the connection.

I looked up at Willow and half smiled, settling back for a long night.

I’d forgotten what it felt like to have to get up early. The alarm clock literally scared the shit out of me. I’d also pretty much forgotten where I was. I guess you could say I had a slight case of vertigo or deja-vu or something because I’d actually sat up in bed and prepared myself to get my morning hugs from the boys, only to realize that I was all alone.

And work, well work wasn’t all that it used to be. The first day was just awful, well, actually the next couple of weeks were awful. I was so backed up that I ended up working twelve hours a day. I’d get home about seven in the evening, bathe, eat and of course I’d call Faith.

Eight o’clock, every night on the dot, without fail, I called. I remember the night that my insides were ripped out of my body.

I was ranting on about work and she interrupted me, saying, “Listen, Buffy…. I appreciate you calling and all but every time you do it just gets the boys started again. It’s hard dealing with them crying every night and to be honest, I just don’t think I can take it anymore.” She paused momentarily, took a breath and continued, “I’m not saying don’t call, I’m just saying that they need time, we all need time to get over you.”

I was stunned into silence; all I could do was make an apology and get off the phone. This was the first night that I lost it.

I ran straight over to Wills apartment, slobbering, crawling, basically looking for comfort and she gave it. She held me and rocked me for what felt like hours while I cried my eyes out.

I think that even Ken felt sorry for me because she didn’t say any thing; she just left Willow alone to deal with me.

For the next four weeks I lived with them, pretty much went with them everywhere they went. I knew I’d finally crossed the line the night that I jumped in their bed and piled in between them to watch a movie.

I know it’s pathetic and I’m lucky that I didn’t get my ass kicked right then and there. If you really think on it, it was kind of humorous. I mean if you could’ve seen Ken’s face, well you would’ve laughed. Let’s just say that I did get put out of their bed and I also got the speech about having my own place and being a big girl, big enough to deal with the decisions that I’d made.

I broke down again, crying. It was just like another rejection. I remember blabbing, well crying to them that in the four weeks that I’d been staying with them that I had called Faith at least twice a week and I could never manage to talk to her. She was either busy, sleeping, out on patrol or out with the boys. I even called the sheriff’s office and got the run around from them too and it had been six weeks since I’d last seen them.

The next morning Willow took me home. She basically pushed me into a chair, sat in front of me and stared me down. “You need to get a grip.” She stated. “Decide what you want. If you want Faith and her family then fight for them.” She pulled in a breath, adding, “If you don’t really want them, not fully, not like they need, then you need to let them go.”

I sat up, not really knowing what to say but saying the first thing that came to mind. “How am I supposed to leave my job and home? It’s not like I can just uproot myself and leave and find something else that easily.” I stated.

“Then stay.” She replied, adding, “if you’re happy here and this is where you want to be. Stay. It’s as simple as that.” She looked at me hard.

I looked at her. “Do you think they’d take me back?” I asked.

She sighed, leaning closer to me. “Listen Buffy, you really need to talk with Faith. She’s got a lot going on right now and honestly, you might not want to go back.” She patted my leg.

“Why? What’s going on?” I asked, sitting upright, my attention focused on her words.

Wills just looked at me saying, “you really need to talk to Faith. It’s her place to tell you her personal business, not mine.” She sighed and offered a heartfelt apology.

Well that did it, not only was I worried but now I was also mad and scared. I mean has Faith already moved on? Is she sick again? What? I guess it really didn’t matter, well it did matter but the point was and still is, that I was miserable here and I wanted to go back.

The last thing Willow said to me before she left was, “think on it, long and hard.”

The next three weeks drug by. I half worked, half worried and repeatedly tried to call Faith. I did get lucky one morning and managed to get Mikey on the phone, unfortunately, Elaine got to him before I could get any useful information. After hearing Mikey’s voice I finally made some decisions about my life, finally realized what my dream had been all about. Now all I had to do was crawl back and beg.

That night I called Willow and dropped by. We sat and ordered in Chinese, talking casually, eating more than any girl should.

“Where’s Ken at?” I asked.

She ignored me.

“Wills?” I asked, getting her attention. “Where’s Ken?”

She blew out a breath, looked at her plate and muttered, “Dawnville.”

“What?” I asked, choking on my noodles, sitting up straight. “When did she go and why?” I questioned.

She just sat there quiet, pushing her food around with her fork. “Oh come off it Wills, Spill.” I prompted. “Quit debating over telling me and just tell me.”

She sighed. “She’s patrolling for Faith.” She nodded and stuffed another shrimp in her mouth.

“Is Faith hurt? Is she sick again?” I asked.

Silence.

That did it. I stood up and grabbed Willow by the arm, pushing her toward her bedroom. “You’d best get a clean change of panties or something cause we’re going now.” I advised.

I pretty much drug Willow to my car and threw her in. I saw her peer around the inside of the vehicle, her eyes widening. I smiled. “Yeah. I’m moving, been packed since noon. I’m going home…. If they’ll still have me.” My eyes filled with tears slightly but I sucked them back in and started off for Dawnville.

She pointed to the small attachable Uhaul hooked to the rear. “You’ve heard the joke about the lesbians and the Uhaul’s, right?”

I smiled, cutting my eyes at her. “Uh huh.” We laughed.

The laugh we shared broke the tension, relaxed us, well relaxed me just a little, cause I was still tense, worried that I was trying to go back just a little too late.

We made it there in record time, only to find the house empty. I stood outside, soaking wet and working on my tan, yelling, hoping that someone was inside and that they’d let me in.

Willow finally put me back in the car and pulled us out of the range of the motion lights.

“Buffy, look, I wasn’t gonna tell you but since you decided to come back on your own….” She trailed off.

“What?” I asked, motioning for her to get on with it.

She grabbed my arm, looking hard into my eyes. “Promise me. Promise me you won’t be mad at me.” She stated, waiting for me to agree, which of course I did, just so she’d continue, “They’re probably at the hospital, trying to keep Faith from going into labor.” She cringed, waiting for it to sink in.

I just stared at her and it hit me hard, all of it, everything, the whole shebang, the sickness, the exhaustion, the weight gain. “Why didn’t you tell me earlier?” I shook my head, trying to clear it, adding, “why didn’t she say anything?” I asked.

She shrugged. “I’m sorry. It just wasn’t my place to tell you her business and she probably didn’t say anything because she didn’t want you to feel obligated, at least that’s my guess. It’s not too late if you want to go back.” She offered me a way out.

“What?” I looked up at her. “Are you kidding? Have you bumped your head? Go.” I started motioning for her to move the car, like now.

Twenty minutes later I was running through the hospital, searching for anyone that I knew. I finally gave up and ran up to the nurse’s station. “LeHane… the sheriff, where’s she at?” I asked, out of breath. The nurse pointed down a hallway and before I could hear what she had to say I was running again.

I turned the corner and saw Kennedy in the hallway. I ran right up to her. “Where’s…

She cut me off. “Buffy, go home. She doesn’t need to be upset.” Everyone that was there pretty much walked up behind Ken and agreed with her.

I tried to walk past them but they stood in my way.

“Please. I need to see her. I promise I won’t upset her.” I was starting to get upset. I moved forward again.

Ken pushed me back. “No.” She stated lowly. “Go home Buffy. She doesn’t need this right now.”

I pushed her back. “I need to know what’s going on. I need to talk with her.”

Ken stepped up into my personal space, her words low and sharp. “You know?” She stated more than asked. I nodded, yes. She continued. “She’s having problems. Seems that someone stuck a knife in her gut a long time ago and the scar tissue isn’t holding, it’s inflamed and tearing and she’s going into labor early.” She put her hands on my shoulders, trying to reason with me, trying to push her point across. “I know it’s bad to find out this way, she had her reasons but regardless, the point right now is that she can’t handle anything else. Okay?”

Her words hit me straight in the gut. “Is she gonna be okay?” I whispered.

Ken shrugged, not knowing.

“What about the baby?” I asked, slowly bringing my eyes up to hers.

Ken shrugged again, not knowing.

I lost it. I started crying in front of everyone. All the weeks of pent up emotions and frustrations burst forth. “Please…. Please… let me see her. I messed up. I know I messed up. I never should’ve left. I know that I walked away but now I’m back and I’m not going away this time. I’m staying and if you just let me in to see her I promise that I’ll never leave again. I won’t make her upset. I swear. I love her and I wanna be with her. I miss them. Please.. just let me tell her.. please.”

“Buffy.”

“Buffy.” Willow got my attention. “Come on. This isn’t helping anyone.” She stated, pulling me away and back down the hallway.

We sat down in the waiting area.

I couldn’t stand the silence anymore. I finally looked up at Willow, my eyes red and swollen. “What am I supposed to do?” I asked softly.

She sighed, moving to sit next to me. “Wait. That’s all any of us can do.”

We sat for hours waiting with no news. I decided to swallow my pride and went to stand outside of Faith’s room with the others.

I slowly walked up to Kennedy. “Any news?” I asked.

She just nodded no.

I started back to the waiting area but turned, asking. “Do you think that you could tell her that I’m here,” my voice hopeful.

Ken just looked at me and sighed. “She knows you’re here. She felt you the moment you arrived.”

“Oh.” I said, kind of stunned, realizing, “she doesn’t want to see me, does she?” I asked.

Ken just shrugged, not saying anything.

I silently made my way back to the waiting area and sat down. I closed my eyes, thinking, hoping and waiting for a miracle.

“Buffy.”

I slowly opened my eyes to the familiar voices and blinked a few times trying to focus. I smiled as Jake and Mike came into view.

“Hi.” I said.

They wrapped their arms around my neck; squeezing and I returned their hug ten fold.

I started crying, “I miss you guys. I miss your mom. I wanna come home. Can I come home?”

They took my hands and started pulling me down the hallway, all the way to Faith’s door.

I stood frozen before the door, scared to go in, scared not too. I took in a deep breath and walked in hesitantly, terrified, afraid that she was gonna send me away and this time for good.

“Hey B.” She said.

“Hey.” I smiled at her, moving closer.

She relaxed back into the pillow, sighing, “I guess I neglected to mention that I was pregnant, huh?” She stated more than asked, adding, “sorry about that.”

I shook my head yes, moving closer, whispering, “yeah.” I smiled.

She looked up at me. “Do you still want to come home?” She asked.

I nodded, smiling through my tears. “The Uhaul’s in the parking lot.” I said, pointing toward the window, adding, “If you’ll still have me”.

She laughed, “a Uhaul?” She smiled, adding, “I wanted you all along but you have a lot of ass to kiss, you know that right?”

I nodded, agreeing and walked the rest of the way to the bed, caressed her forehead, leaned over and gently kissed her on the cheek. I placed my hand over her stomach lightly, feeling the baby inside. “You’re both gonna be okay.” I whispered.

“We are now.” She whispered, closing her eyes to rest.

Four hours later, Faith was in recovery. The doctors went ahead and took the baby by C-section. She had a few complications, well both of them had complications but with love and a little help from our family witch, they’d both be ready to go home in no time and they were. Well, honestly, it wasn’t that easy. Faith had to stay in the hospital another week before she was released and the baby had to stay a few weeks longer. Her lungs weren’t quite developed yet and a few times throughout her stay it was touch and go. It was during this time that Faith and I ironed out our differences, forgave each other and moved on, banded together and became a couple. It wasn’t smooth sailing though, our biggest argument was over the baby’s father and what place he’d play in her life. That fear really turned out to be unfounded because he didn’t want to be around. I was extremely relieved. I didn’t want to share them, not even a little bit. I remembered back to a time that Jake had told me that he didn’t like or want kids, not even his own apparently.

The baby finally pulled through and was able to breathe on her own. It was a huge relief to us all. We’d been practically living at the hospital. The doctors said it was a miraculous recovery and I tell you, if they’d of known what kind of forces we had helping that baby girl, well, lets just say, for this alone I’d pretty much owe Wills for the rest of my life.

Faith gave the baby my name, not my last name but my first and middle, she actually had me about to cry before she let me off the hook. I can still hear her teasing me, “Well yeah, I’m gonna name her Elizabeth but only so I’ll have a wider choice of nicknames, like, Itsy, Bitsy, Muffy, Buffy, Tuffy, stuff like that.” She laughed for days after that but I still remember the first day that she got to hold her. I remember how she introduced her to me. She looked down at the baby and looked up to me, asking, “Buffy, would you like to hold Beth?”

All I can remember is smiling like an idiot as I held her in my arms. I was pretty much the luckiest woman in the world; at least I thought I was and you couldn’t tell me any different.

The day I took them home was amazing. Our entire family showed up, extended family that is. To say that I was beaming would have been an understatement. I practically sat on top of anyone that held Beth and pretty much acted like a guard dog when it came to Faith but that’s understandable, especially with me being so close to losing them both.

We settled into a routine, just as all families do, growing closer and together, living, loving and laughing.

Three more months brought the holidays in and again the family gathered at our home. I remember this one incident; it’s actually kind of funny. I’d gotten in the habit of playing with Beth when I came in from patrolling. You see, she just loved to eat and every time I turned around she was at the breast and this particular night, I wasn’t paying attention so I ran in as usual, somehow missed all the family sitting around and began my nightly ritual of hugging the boys, giving Faith a kiss and smooching on the baby.

I’d lean down over her, tickling her face with my hair while she was eating and then I’d turn on my special voice, the one just for her. “You better save some for me. You better not eat it all. You better. I’ll get you.” I’ll tell you, she’d just smile and laugh at me, it thrilled me to no end.

Anyway, this night, I’m doing…that and Giles cleared his throat, that’s when I realized what I’d said and how it must have sounded. My face turned a few shades of red and I caught myself pointing at Faith’s breast, trying to make it better, “Oh, I don’t … do that.” I shook my head and saw Faith give me one of her looks with her brow arched, the one that only served to fluster me more and caused me to stammer, “well I do, do that.” That’s when I decided to lower my finger and quit pointing at ‘the breasts’. I shook my head no, “but I don’t … you know…. Drink.” I scrunched up my face, trying to suck my head inside my neck.

Everyone burst out laughing at me. It’ll be years before I ever live that down, well it actually took a few months.

That time passed by quickly, even with all the teasing and now everyone’s finally completely healthy. Faith’s back up and strong, slaying even. Beth is doing great. You’d never even know that she had been born premature. The guys are great and guess what, they now call me mom too.

I think I cried the day that they presented me with a card that they’d made. It said something about being blessed, cause not only did they have one mother but they had two, and that their mom’s could kick any guys ass. I was so touched that I let the ass thing slide.

This pretty much brings us to today. Here we all are, doing our regular stroll through town. Jake and Mike are piled in the wagon and I’m pulling them along behind me. Faith’s pushing Beth in the stroller. I’m standing to the side of Faith with my thumb hooked through her belt loop and every now and then I’ll lean my head on her shoulder as we walk toward the park.

As usual, I step away from them as they head over to the benches and sit down.

I walk up to the window at the ice cream shop, hold up four fingers and nod when they ask if I want the cones dipped in chocolate.

While I’m waiting, I watch them interact with each other and you know…. I think that although I’ve been alive all these years that I really didn’t actually start to live until they came along.

Now that I think about it and think back, no one ever really affected me like Faith did, still does, good or bad, kiss or kill.

We moved beyond the bad and the kill parts and are now living in the good. It might not be heaven but it feels pretty damned close.

Once a long time ago someone told me that I was their soul mate but now that I’m older and wiser, I know better. How could I be something like that to someone when I’d already been souled to Faith? We were destined to be together by slayer lineage and you just can’t mess with something that strong.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is this. You can spend your whole life being who and what others want you to be or you can accept yourself and be who and what you are.

It took me a long time to figure that out and now that I have, I’ve never been happier. I mean here I am, living the dream. It just doesn’t get any better.

Just look at us. You knew it long before we did.