Faith got off her motorcycle as soon as it was stopped, pulling the keys out of the ignition and dropping them into the pocket of her jacket. She took a moment to double check the address, make sure she was in the right place. She’d have figured B and Company wouldn’t have set up shop for the ‘New Slayers Council’ or whatever in a warehouse… but this was the place.
The flight from Sunnydale had ended in L.A., where Angel and his buddies were getting ready to move over to Evil Incorporated – a fact that had seen B and her ex have a knock-down, drag-out argument that had been kind of fun to watch. Still, he’d let them hang in the Hyperion Hotel for a few days, and Faith was happy he’d used Wolfram and Hart’s resources to get her pardoned. Running from the law for the rest of her life hadn’t sounded like a lot of fun.
But when Buffy, Willow and Xander, and all the rest of the new baby slayers had moved onto Cleveland, Faith had rejected the idea. She’d tried sharing a Hellmouth with Buffy before.
It hadn’t taken.
And even more…
It hurt to be around B. Faith was always measuring herself against the other Slayer… and even more…
I couldn’t stay around her, knowing she’ll never love me back. Even assuming B was into chicks – which Faith still couldn’t figure out one way or the other – Faith knew that the blonde would never love her. Not with all the history and bad blood between them. All the issues and crap. And of course, how could someone like Buffy ever love someone as damaged and with as many issues and as much baggage as Faith had anyway?
And so she’d gone on a road trip, slaying her way across from L.A. to Boston, and then down to the Florida, and finally, all the way up to Cleveland. She’d never stayed in one city or town more than a few weeks, slaying demons and dusting vampires until she’d put the fear of Faith into any survivors that had evaded her (not that she made it easy for them to do that.)
Faith wasn’t sure why she was here, why she was back. She just…
She just needed to see Buffy. She’d exchanged Emails with her and the others, with Giles (and even with Angel and Wes, until they’d up and declared war on the Senior Partners and vanished/died.), kept up on what was happening with the New Council . She’d developed an odd, sort of long-distance friendship with Willow, even. Xander shared funny stories from the training of the baby slayers, and Faith had shared the same from her road trip. Giles had been pretty free with the advice, trying to make up for dropping the ball with her all those years ago, she figured. (Not that she held much against him on that front)
But with Buffy… all their emails had been business. Faith had no illusions about how things stood between her and Buffy. They were sister slayers, yeah, and Buffy didn’t try to bark orders at her… and Faith didn’t try to buck Buffy’s leadership. But beyond that…
Nothing. They weren’t friends. They weren’t even friendly.
Faith needed to see her. Needed to see the woman she still couldn’t get over. Had never been able to get over.
Faith had thought, once, that her thing for Buffy was just attraction and lust, maybe mixed up with envy. But she’d long since realized that while it may have been that at the very start, it was much more now.
Faith loved Buffy. And it hurt. It hurt so much knowing it wouldn’t happen.
But still… Faith needed to drop by. See her. Talk to her. Just be around her, if even for a little bit. She could move on in a few days. Maybe head down to Mexico. G-man said that the vamps there were in pretty tight with the drug cartels, so maybe she could kill two birds with one stake or something.
Her hands in her coat pockets, Faith walked up to the door, knocking. After a few moments, the door opened.
Buffy was on the other side.
“Faith.” Buffy said, her voice soft. “I – I didn’t know you were coming by.” Faith imagined what Buffy was holding back, thinking but not saying: Why the hell are you here?
“I didn’t – I didn’t really plan on it. Just sorta… decided to drop by. That cool with you, B?” Faith kept her tone blunt, direct. She had to create as much emotional distance from Buffy as she could.
“You’re a Slayer, Faith. You’re always welcome.” Buffy stepped aside and Faith took the silent invitation, stepping over the threshold. Buffy stared for a moment, at the point where she’d just been, then she shook her head, blinking. “I… uhm…” Buffy cleared her throat. “Sorry, just… a little distracted.” She closed the door behind Faith. “The bedrooms are over there,” She pointed off to the right. The inside of the Warehouse had been completely refurbished. In here, looked like she was in any old house. “The doors that don’t have any names on them - you can take any of those rooms while you’re here.”
“B, I don’t need the Grand Tour or anything like that. I’m pretty sure I can figure out where everything is, if I look around.” Faith pointed out. “Where is everybody?” She’d have figured this place would be crawling with other slayers.
“Most of the other Slayers are at school, or college. Out just, out and around the city, doing whatever. There’s a team in Michigan tracking some demon cult, and Xander, Willow and a few others are off preventing another apocalypse in Cincinatti. Right now it’s just me and Andrew in the building. I think he’s busy baking.”
“So you still got him working the kitchens?” Faith chuckled. “Well, I guess if it ain’t broke…” The little nerd had been annoying at the best fo times, but he could cook damn well, and after years of prison food, that had been a nice bonus.
Faith took a breath, starting off towards the bedrooms, when she paused as a thought occured and turned back to Buffy, was standing there, watching her. “Hey… long shot… but have you heard from Angel? I know the word is he got out of L.A. alive - undead - but I haven’t heard from him… figured he might have dropped you a line?”
Buffy bit her lip, looking down at the ground. “Yeah. He was in Cleveland a few weeks after everything went down in L.A. Dropped down behind me in an alley one night and chewed me out for thinking he’d gone evil, working for the lawyers. Said that the deaths of some of his people was because I didn’t back him up when he reached out, asked for help. And… well, I guess he was right.”
He asked for your help and you didn’t give it to him? She’d always figured Angel had just been too proud and shit to ask his ex for help. “Angel’s the one who made the boneheaded choice to do what he did,” Faith found herself saying, even as she felt a slight surge of anger at Buffy’s belief that Angel had gone evil, that Buffy hadn’t helped him out. Sure, she hadn’t known Gunn or Fred all that well, but she’d liked them, and Wes… well, that weird friendship they’d forged out of hunting Angelus had stayed strong by phone call and email. She remembered egging him on time after time to go after Fred. And he was dead.
Guess it makes sense. Faith knew she’d have never believed it - Angel going evil -, but B had a totally different experience with the guy. And… Faith couldn’t say that it was Buffy’s fault Angel did what he did. Maybe she could have helped out in L.A., maybe not, but if knowing Buffy, she’d probably beat herself up over it plenty after that fight with Angel.
“That last e-mail Wes sent me, the day before the big fight? Read like a fuckin’ suicide note.” She hadn’t read the email itself until news of the ‘riots’ in Los Angeles had been all over the news, of course. “Angel was probably in the same place.” Shaking her head, she shrugged.
The unclaimed bedrooms were all pretty much the same. Bed, dresser, bookshelf, closet, chair. Nothing fancy. Unpacking her stuff was quick, and Faith was sitting on the bed, reading a dog-eared, well-read paperback of The Two Towers, when she heard a knock on the door.
“Faith?” Buffy’s voice came through. “Can I come in?”
“Uh - yea.” Faith’s surprise and curiosity took over her sense. The door opened and Buffy walked in. Like every time she walked into a room, Faith’s eyes were drawn to her.
“I…I wanted to talk to you.” Buffy said softly, sitting down in the chair. “Actually… well, I wanted to… I’ve been wanting to talk to you for a while, but… it just never seemed like the kind of thing to talk about over an e-mail. But now… I mean, since you’re here.” Buffy took a breath, squaring her shoulders as if working herself up to something.
“I wanted to apologize… I was… kind of an ass, in L.A., after we got out of Sunnydale. I… I didn’t make it clear that you were welcome to come with us. To Cleveland.”
Faith shrugged, “I knew. I just… look, B, we tried sharing a Hellmouth, and look how that turned out.”
“I don’t think the sharing the Hellmouth part was the problem, Faith.” Buffy pointed out, her voice quiet. “I mean… totally different situation then versus… well, now.”
“You inviting me to stick around?” Faith closed the book and sat up, not sure she could believe what Buffy seemed to be saying.
“Something like that, yeah.” Buffy said, looking up at her, licking her lips a moment. “You remember how… after Scott Hope broke up with me, you asked me to Homecoming?” Faith did, intimately. She’d immediately walked it back… tried to make it sound completely straight when Buffy didn’t seem receptive…
Of course, like the idiot she was, Faith had played that conversation over in her head more than once, she she still wasn’t sure she’d read Buffy right. Especially given all the other mixed signals she’d gotten off Buffy over the years.
Why’s she bringing it up now? There was no reason Faith could figure.
No reason that was possible, anyway.
“I feel like an idiot, not realizing it then, you know?” Buffy went on. “Looking back on it, before… before Finch, before you started working for the Mayor… well, you were flirting with me like… all the time, weren’t you?” Buffy chuckled, smiling ruefully. “Not that you really stopped after - after…” Buffy trailed off.
“You can say it, B. After I went evil.” Faith said, still not believing what she was hearing. She swallowed, her brain rejecting the very idea of where this seemed to be going.
But her brain and her heart didn’t seem to be listening to each other right now.
Faith’s chest felt tight, her mouth dry. No. There’s no way - this…
“The thing is, Faith. There’s always been… something. Between the two of us. I used to think it was just… our shared Slayerness. The two girls in all the world. Chosen ones. And yeah,” Buffy smiled, and Faith felt fucking butteflies in her stomach at the sight. “That’s part of it. But… that wasn’t all of it. And… god, it took seeing you again, in the last days of Sunnydale… and missing you for a year and a half for me to really get it. Plus… you know, I had to realize I actually… liked girls.” Buffy got up off the chair and walked towards her.
Faith couldn’t believe. But she sat there, frozen, unable to say anything.
Because… believe it or not… it was happening.
“The thing is, Faith,” Buffy went on. “I… I like you. I think about you and I… I want things. I… I know we have a… a complicated history.” Buffy scoffed. “And there’s my understatement-of-the-year award winning phrase.” She took a breath, taking another step closer to Faith. “I was thinking… maybe you and I… we could maybe - we could maybe go get some dinner tonight? Just the two of us?”
It had been a long time since Faith had had exactly what she wanted most in the world right in front of her. The last time had been, what Christmas, when she was six years old?
Part of Faith couldn’t believe it. Buffy could never want her. Never have any feelings for her.
But… here she was, saying she did. Asking her out. Acknowledging their history and not letting it stop her.
Buffy’s question hung out there, in the space between them for a long minute, as Faith ran it through her head over and over again, imagining a thousand different ways this could go so bad, if it wasn’t already.
It was Buffy.
“I…” The other slayer started to take a step back. “I shouldn’t have assumed… I mean… it’s been years-” Faith stood up, shaking her head.
“It’s been years, yeah, B, but I haven’t stopped crushing on you. Not even a little bit.” Her own lips felt dry all of a sudden, and Faith licked them quickly, her heart pounding in her chest, her entire vision Buffy.
“Yea… dinner… dinner sounds good.” Faith said, her voice suddenly a little hoarse. “But there’s one thing I gotta do first.” Before she could stop herself, before she could chicken out, Faith put her hands on Buffy’s waist and pulled the other slayer against her, pressing her own lips against hers. She held herself back as tried to keep it light, but that only lasted for a few seconds…
Because then an eager Buffy returned the kiss with full force, and Faith felt what she could only describe as…