Buffy drew her curtains, blocking out the dark night and the smell of rain in the air. She wrapped her arms around herself, feeling a chill that hadn’t been there earlier.
She hoped she wasn’t getting sick. Buffy wanted to have some time to just relax and take it easy after recent events. She didn’t want to spend her time in bed, eating yucky soup her mom forced upon her.
Sunnydale may have just avoided being taken over by a crazed sewn together demon, but there were still vampires to kill, and the odd random apocalypse to be ready for. Sniffles with her slaying wasn’t something she enjoyed.
Hearing her mother making her way up the stairs, Buffy smiled. She had missed being at home, despite the fun and independence living at the dorm had given her. It was just nice to be somewhere she felt safe. Even though she had no silly ideas of ever being completely safe anywhere, home always had that affect on her, and she had been away too long it felt.
Buffy was also glad to be close to her mother again. After the ordeal with Faith, and the latest turmoil in Sunnydale, she felt like she needed to be there. After all, she could still visit Riley whenever she wanted, and have her fun.
Sighing as she undressed for bed, slowly slipping out of her clothes and laying them neatly on a chair, Buffy tried not to let her mind stray. She didn’t want to think too much about anything right now. And she especially didn’t want to think about Riley. Or more to the point. . .Faith and Riley.
She’d done her best to get over it. To get over her. But it wasn’t easy. Faith had a way of lingering. Her actions had a way of lingering.
Buffy was still mad, and hurt, and upset about the whole thing, and she couldn’t deal with it in any positive way, so she tried her best to bury it.
If she didn’t imagine Riley with Faith. . .then she could convince herself that it didn’t happen. At least that was the hope. It wasn’t very effective at times she was alone, but it was better than the alternative. The alternative just brought about too much emotion, and she’d eventually arrive right back to angry again. She didn’t want to spend her life being angry.
“Buffy, I’ve locked up for the night and I’m going to bed,” Joyce called as she passed Buffy’s door.
“Ok, mom, goodnight,” Buffy shouted, picking up her favourite soft toy and clutching it to her chest.
Sometimes she wished she was just a little girl again.
“Just you and me, Mr Gordo,” she said to the old fading pig, looking down at it and wondering where one of his eyes had disappeared to. “We’ll have to get that fixed,” she told it, and then kissed it on its worn nose.
Placing the pig on one side of the bed, she shuffled in, a little moan of pleasure escaping her lips as soft cotton brushed against her skin. Pulling the blankets and comforter up around herself, shutting out the night’s cool edge, Buffy closed her eyes and hoped for pleasant dreams.
She was tired of nightmares. Tired of confusing slayer dreams. Tired of being responsible.
As her body slowly crept its way over the precipice of sleep, Buffy felt a warmth spread through her. Like she had just lowered herself into a warm bath full of bubbles. Bubbles that caressed her body like soft yet tenacious fingers.
She knew the feeling. It was one that usually preceded a slayer dream, with Faith as the guest star.
Buffy never knew quite how to take them. She never knew if Faith was aware of the dreams. If they were sharing the same one, or if maybe she was just creating it in her own head. For comfort. For closure. She didn’t know exactly what for, but always woke a little more confused about the entire situation.
She refused to tell anybody about them now. She wasn’t keen on having her inner thoughts laid open for Giles, or whoever, to poke over with a pointy stick of dissection. There were just some things you kept to yourself, and things like repeatedly dreaming of stabbing somebody, was probably one of those things.
It wasn’t like she wanted to stab Faith every time she was in her dream, but that’s the way it always went. Buffy was always holding the knife, and it always ended up in Faith.
She didn’t consider it a nightmare, however. That particular tag was reserved for the dreams in which her friends and family were slaughtered by hordes of demons and vampires. Or the nights she dreamt she was normal. Those were the worst, and Buffy would wake clawing at her sheets, wanting to be freed from the feeling of being weak and restrained by being ordinary.
The night brought no such nightmares. Only more questions to be answered as she dreamt about Faith. As she slid the cold hard steel into the other slayer’s stomach. No remorse on her own face as Faith’s eyes tore into her soul, searching for her own answers, their depths haunting her with sorrow. With fear. With disbelief.
As darkness quietly gave way to the morning sun, Buffy stirred, her acute hearing picking up every sigh and shift of the house as the day spread its fingers out to touch the cold shadows.
She’d had only one dream that night. A Faith dream that left her uneasy as usual.
Buffy was certain it was too early to be waking though. Her alarm hadn’t screamed in her ear. The sun hadn’t climbed high enough to break through her curtains and warm her bed.
She hadn’t even snuggled into Mr Gordo yet.
Stretching her legs out under the soft blankets, Buffy rubbed her eyes, trying to come to terms with waking so early for seemingly no reason at all. She wasn’t normally an early riser, and certainly wasn’t a crack of dawn riser.
As she was about to bury her head back under the covers and go in search of more sleep, Buffy heard a whisper.
It took her breath away. It made a pounding drum out of her heart.
It was Faith.
She was sure it was Faith, whispering her name. A soft and husky “Buffy”, just twice, and just audible under the quiet murmur of morning.
Buffy held her breath. Her gaze darting around in the gloom of her surroundings. She almost felt like diving under the blanket and staying as still as possible in hope that. . .whatever it was would go away.
It was almost like the whispering of a ghost, and Buffy’s hair was suitably standing on end.
Seeing nothing and hearing nothing further, the slayer pushed her covers back and slowly crept over to the window. Flattening her back to the wall beside it, avoiding any possible attack, she peeked out into the garden and to the street beyond.
There was nobody there. No Faith. No ghost floating around. Nothing but a few birds stretching their wings and getting ready for their wormy goodness.
Buffy hastily pulled the curtain back to its place keeping out the encroaching day. Then she walked as stealthily as she could towards her bedroom door, not satisfied that Faith wasn’t somehow there, ready to achieve her revenge.
She searched the house. She shook her head. She scorned herself for being scared, if only for a second. If only for the time it took her to reduce the rapid beating of her heart.
There was no way Faith was there. She was locked up. Out of her life. . .for good.
Buffy paused in her journey back to bed, her heart doing that rapid and clumsy beating that she wasn’t used to. It felt like a vice was squeezing it. Forcing it to panic in the confines of her chest.
She didn’t understand it. Could she really be scared?
She wouldn’t allow herself to believe that, so pushing her chin out and holding her back straight, Buffy climbed the stairs back to bed. No haunting whisper was going to disrupt her lazy day any longer.
After falling back to sleep and having far less confusing dreams for a few more hours, Buffy woke late in the morning to the sound of her mother yelling up the stairs.
“Buffy. . .Riley’s here.”
Buffy yawned and tumbled out of bed, leaving Mr Gordo tangled in the disarray of blankets she’d left behind. “Coming,” she yelled back, stifling another yawn.
She discovered Riley in the hallway, looking hopeful.
“Hey,” Buffy said as she smiled, letting him lean down to kiss her.
He pulled away after a second and handed her a small white flower. “I saw this and thought of you.”
Buffy took the rather sorry looking flower and tried to think of a suitable response to such a sweet gesture. “Thanks, I like it when people compare me to limp things they’ve pulled out of the ground.” She winced as he tried to cover up his hurt look. She couldn’t help it. She just wasn’t great at the romance stuff he liked so much. “It’s. . .nice, Riley. Really.”
He still looked a little wounded despite her attempts to fix it. It was probably going to take a little more than just a sweet smile in his direction though.
Hearing her mom bustling about in the basement, she tugged on Riley’s hand, winking at him and leading him to her bedroom.
He was unsure at first, but a quick shake of her backside made up his mind. He could never resist her cute little ass. She probably didn’t know it, but he was pretty much wrapped around her finger.
It broke him somewhat to be weaker than her, or any woman. Women weren’t meant to be stronger or tougher than men. It didn’t sit easy with him when she took on the role of leader either, and expected him to follow. But he loved her, and in a lot of ways he needed her.
Buffy pulled him into her room and shut the door. Riley’s eyes widened as she stripped off the large tee shirt she had presumably been wearing to bed. He looked towards the door, then back to Buffy, not quite believing she would do what he thought she was suggesting.
“Come on, big boy,” Buffy said coyly, stepping backwards towards her bed.
The light made Buffy’s skin shimmer as it drifted in between the small gap of her curtains. She always looked too fragile to touch. Too delicate to hold. And though he knew she was neither of those two things, he couldn’t help but treat her that way. And he couldn’t help but think it was a bad idea for Buffy to be pulling off her panties as she seductively laid back on her bed.
“Buffy, I don’t think. . .”
“You think too much, Riley,” she interrupted. Her eyes full of mischief.
He wasn’t about to cave in to her demands this time, however.
“I can’t make love to you here, Buffy. Not while your mom is just downstairs,” he pointed out.
Buffy rolled her eyes, wondering if she should mention that she didn’t want him to ‘make love’ to her. Wondering why exactly it was she was so hung up on him.
“Ok, fine. If you don’t want any of this,” she said as she trailed her fingers over the inside of her thigh, allowing her legs to fall open in a final attempt to entice her boyfriend, “then I guess you should go. I have a busy day of lazing around to get on with.”
Riley stood with his mouth hanging open, not quite able to work out what was going on with his girlfriend. She was the kind of girl who slept with a stuffed pig, not the kind of girl who would lay sprawled out on a bed like a hooker.
He was shocked. Stuck somewhere between being appalled and turned on.
“Buffy, I. . .” he stumbled over his words as Buffy pulled her tee shirt back on and went about opening her curtains and straightening her bed. “I wanted to ask if you’d spend the day with me. I. . .”
Buffy didn’t allow him to finish. If he wasn’t prepared to give her what she wanted, then she wasn’t prepared to change her plans for him. “You know that I’d love to, Riley, but I promised my mom I would spend the day here with her.”
She didn’t listen to his pleas, or promises to give her a nice day with a picnic and more flowers. She wanted some time to herself. She wanted to stretch out and feel free. She wanted her mind to be released from its constant turmoil.
Buffy didn’t like that her mind was so mixed up right now, and she couldn’t really attribute it to one thing in-particular. There may have been a few things giving her reason to feel unsettled, but she couldn’t distinguish them from the blur in her head.
After pushing Riley out of the door and grabbing something completely unsuitable for breakfast, Buffy made her way to the shower. Allowing the hot water to prickle her skin, she revelled in the delicious sensation it created. Watching as the rivulets of water charted her body.
After thoroughly washing her hair, she soaped up, slipping her hands over her arms, her legs, and her taut stomach. Just before she was about to move onto gliding her hands over her chest, she felt a sharp pain to the right of her belly button.
It caused her to drop the soap and crumple to the shower floor, the water cascading over her as she winced and whimpered.
Buffy clutched at her stomach, trying to ease the searing pain, but only managing to make it worse. She pulled her hand away, certain there would be blood dripping from her palm, but not having a clue why.
Her hand was clean. There was no blood, and thankfully. . .the unbearable pain slowly began to ease.
Trying to stand without crying out, Buffy fought to catch her breath. The pain had winded her as much as baffled her.
As she stood stooped under the water, beginning to feel normal again, she looked at her stomach. There was nothing there but soap and a red mark where she had dug her fingers in, in her attempt to crush the stifling ache. She frowned, not knowing what the hell could have caused such a random thing to happen.
She didn’t get cramps when it was her time of the month. She had never had a stomach ache that brought her to her knees. She couldn’t think of any reason at all for it to have happened.
Rinsing the soap from her body, her hands shaking a little, the slayer flat out refused to allow her mind to linger on the incident. She also refused to let it wander to thoughts of Faith and how she had stabbed her in the same spot.
If she didn’t think about it, it never happened.
It made complete sense to her and had worked for her so far.
She did ponder about maybe telling Giles, but Giles didn’t seem to want to help her out so much these days. Willow was busy with college, and with Tara. Xander would probably use it as an excuse to get her to take her shirt off for him. And Riley. . .there was something about him lately that just didn’t seem right.
Or maybe it was her. Maybe she wasn’t right. Whatever it was, Buffy wasn’t keen on sharing this with him.
Somewhere in the back of her mind she had a sneaking suspicion that the sudden pain was linked to the whisper she had heard earlier. But it couldn’t possibly be anything more than her own psyche messing with her.
Maybe she had been too hasty in her unwillingness to hear Faith out. To accept her apology and the fact that she wanted to make things right.
Chuckling to herself and shaking her head, Buffy dismissed that idea. The Powers That Be were crazy, but she was fairly sure they weren’t complete Sadists. There had to be another solution. Another reason.
She didn’t want nor need Faith messing up her life again.