I slam my motel door shut, and instantly head for the fridge. I need a drink. A big one that’ll burn on the way down and maybe, hopefully make me forget what just happened. I mean shit. . .Buffy has a kid? And to Robin? That’s just too much info for me to take in. I wanna know why and how, but I also don’t wanna know. I wanna bury my head in the sand, maybe go back home and pretend like I didn’t see it with my own two eyes and hear it with my own two ears.
A part of me guessed that she’d probably found a new guy, settled down even, but most of me just wouldn’t think it. I couldn’t think it. If I kept pretending that one day. . .one fucking day we could have something, then I knew I could get by. Stupid of me. Really stupid.
It’s not like I had my own life on hold. I hook up when I feel like it, but I’ve also never settled. Never stuck with one person too long when I knew all I wanted was her. The girl that keeps popping up in my dreams. Not just any dreams, fucking slayer-dreams we both have a hand in. Makes me wonder why she showed up so often in them now. Was she just fucking with me?
The dreams are never quite how I want ‘em to be, there’s no getting hot an’ naked together, but they’re nice. Just us two, out having a picnic, or maybe just walking along a beach. Me and her just being together. We don’t speak. We don’t do much at all, but they gave me hope. Now I’m wondering what the fuck it was all about. Almost three years of sharing at least one dream a month. It’d kinda kept me going.
I slump down onto the bed, drink in hand, the brown liquid looking like some kinda relief at least. I throw my head back and swallow. I can’t let this get to me. I can’t let it drag me down; I just need to take a night to deal with it. I know why Ken didn’t tell me and I can’t blame her for it. She was looking out for me, didn’t want me to lose sight of who I am and what I’m doing in the world. My life shouldn’t revolve around Buffy and I guess she was trying to ensure it didn’t. Hell, it didn’t revolve around Buffy while I was in London. I was doing my own thing. Making my own mark. I just gotta remember that and not how much all at once Buffy can make me feel.
She always got to me. Always.
Kicking my boots off I lay back on the bed and flick the TV on by the remote. It’s a pretty nice room. Much nicer than the flea-pit motel back in SunnyD that’s for sure. Maybe I came up in the world and didn’t know it. At least that’s something; I’m not stuck back there, wondering who the fuck I am and what the hell I’m doing. I do have a place in the world and it’s a pretty fucking good place. Yeah, I feel empty inside and can’t ever seem to fill that up, but I can live with that. I have been living with that.
I run a hand through my hair and think about getting another drink. That’d be the easy option; drinking myself stupid so I don’t have to deal. That’d be what I used to do. What I’ve done too often. Not this time. . .I’m stronger than that now. Still doesn’t make me want just one more, though. I pick the little bottles up that I threw beside me and climb off the bed, shoving them back in the fridge. Not this time.
Taking my cell phone from my jacket pocket and putting it on the bedside cabinet I notice Ken’s left me at least three text messages. I should read them. At least give her the chance to apologise. But not tonight. I’m tired. Fucking dog tired, whatever that means. Guess the flight caught up with me already, not to mention the shock. I ignore the flashing mail icon on the screen and take my pants off. Things always feel better without pants on. My tight boi shorts almost pass as normal shorts and I guess sleeping in my now completely creased top won’t matter. . .it’s already shot to shit.
Gotta try not to think everything’s shot to shit, though. I can’t keep expecting what ain’t gonna happen. Tomorrow I’ll give Ken a call and we’ll be cool, ‘cause that’s what we are, no matter what. And I’ll see B and her kid, and Robin. . .and it’ll be fine. I can cope. I don’t have to let my life slide into the crapper again for her. I don’t need to do that. Sure, it’s not making me dance for joy, and I know the big empty inside me is always gonna be that way now, but that’s life. That’s life when you love somebody you can never have.
It’s not exactly late enough to sleep, but I figure if I lay and watch TV for a while I’ll drop off pretty quick and get to a new day feeling more positive. I throw the covers back on the bed and make sure there’s no gross stuff inside before flinging them back into place and going to get washed up. Pulling my toothbrush and stuff outta my bag, I keep telling myself I’ll be ok. Chanting the words in my head to set myself straight.
Just as I’m about to make my way into the bathroom I hear a knock on the door. I’m pretty sure I paid with the right card so hopefully it’s not an unfriendly visit from the manager. I throw my toothbrush onto the bed and go to answer the door. Standing a little behind it, wary but not feeling any tingles of the demon variety, I pull it open just enough to see through the gap. What I see leaves me kinda stunned. Then I’m left kinda pushed outta the way as a crazy little three year old comes crashing through the door, yelling my name over and over.
Lucy jumps right onto the bed, bouncing up and down like a maniac. I raise an eyebrow and turn back to the now open door. I can’t find the words to greet her. I think my brain fell outta my ass or something.
“Hey,” she says, a little smile filtering through to me.
I look her over, like it’s instinct or something, and damn does she look good. She’s fucking stunning. More so than I even remember. Long blonde hair all cute and sexy at the same time, her eyes hitting every part of me like nobody else ever could. It takes me two seconds to figure out I’m still head over heals for her, less than that to know for sure I want her just as bad.
“Hey, B,” I finally say, quietly, forcing my voice not to tell her too much about what I’m feeling.
Instantly the brat starts yelling “B, B, B,” over and over with every bounce. I chuckle and shake my head. She’s got a real handful there, that’s for sure.
“Sorry,” Buffy tells me. “Willow always gives her way too much sugar.”
Remembering my manners I motion for her to come in. “Yeah, I get like that too after too much candy,” I say with a wink.
She laughs a little and shakes her head. I’ve fucking missed that little chuckle and the way she looks at me like I’m crazy. Makes me wanna scoop her up into my arms and hold the fuck outta her. Then maybe fuck her senseless. . .but I can’t think that way. Especially not now.
I glance down at her hand to see if she’s wearing a ring, but I don’t see one. Still, could be that she just doesn’t wear it in case it gets lost while she’s slaying.
“Kennedy told me where you were staying,” Buffy says, looking around the room then letting her eyes linger on me. “Sorry, were you just going to bed?”
I shake my head no but tell her, “Yeah.” Her eyes sliding all over my body like that isn’t the best way to make me be comprehensible. She seems to realise how she’s looking at me and quickly turns away.
See, things like that confuse the fuck outta me. Always has. She gives me these little clues, these signs. I see the want in her eyes, fuck it. . .I see the love, but then it gets cut off, like she won’t allow herself to think it. Like she can’t bring herself to believe in it. It’s always screwed with me and it makes me push, which just makes her back off even more. I always felt like I was chasing her. Chasing the little things she’d do or say to make me feel like there’s more we could be. I never caught her, though. Couldn’t hope to after all I did to her.
“You look. . .good,” she says softly, turning back to me again.
I want to tell her she looks amazing, but I don’t wanna come off as creepy. If I knew she was single I’d try flirting with her a little, test the water, but as far as I know she’s not.
Having closed the door, guessing she wants to stay a little while with the fact she’s now sitting down on the edge of the bed, I shift my bag off the chair and take a seat. It feels kind of awkward, sitting across from Buffy, noticing how she’s trying not to catch my eye too much or look my way for too long. . .as all the while her demon spawn ruffles up my bed covers and starts rummaging through the bedside cabinets.
“Nobody told me you were coming,” she says, meeting my eyes for just a second before looking away to the TV.
I try to hold the hurt back at being left in the dark, but it comes out just a little. “Nobody told me you had a kid and were playing happy families with Wood,” I say, wishing it hadn’t sounded so harsh.
She furrows her brow and starts playing with a thread hanging from the comforter.
“Yeah, Ken just told me you didn’t know,” she says. “I didn’t know you didn’t know.” I try to decipher what she meant and she continues. “I thought she woulda told you, but I guess. . .she didn’t huh.”
I shrug and shake my head. “I had no clue, but I get why she didn’t say anything,” I say.
“She wouldn’t tell me why she didn’t say anything,” Buffy lets me know, probably wondering about it in that pretty little head of hers. “But I guess it doesn’t matter. I mean, you know now.”
“Yeah,” I say, a little break in my voice giving me away.
Fuck, it hurts to know she’s got the perfect life and I’m not in it. Not part of it. Not causing it. Crazy of me to think it could ever be that way, but a girl’s gotta have hope. That’s all I really had with her and I guess that’s gone for good now.
“You didn’t get in touch,” Buffy says, her eyes meeting mine again.
“Neither did you,” I respond.
I can see this going on a while, the back and forth but not getting anywhere. It’s how we are. Going round in circles until we’re too dizzy and sick to stand the sight of each other any more.
She nods and I rub my fingers over the back of my neck. Lucy spots my toothbrush on the bed and hurls herself at it, grabbing it and making it fly round herself like an aeroplane. Shoulda packed a spare I guess.
“Luce, put that down, it’s not yours,” B tells her, but she pays no attention. “Get your butt over here and gimmie that,” she says firmer.
The kid sticks out her tongue and then plops my toothbrush right in her mouth. “Mine now,” she says around it.
I can’t help but laugh as Buffy sighs and rubs at her forehead.
“You sure she’s yours an’ Robin’s?” I ask, still chuckling. “I’m thinking there has to be some kinda demon DNA kicking around in there too.”
Buffy smiles and looks my way again. “No demon. She’s just like I was as a kid. . .a total nightmare,” Buffy explains. “It’s not as easy being a single parent as I thought either. I mean, Robin helps out a lot. He takes her every other weekend, and sometimes during the week if I’m going crazy. . .but it’s still a lot to handle with the slaying and the fact she’s a complete terror.”
I sit and blink. What did she just say?
“Single parent?” I say slowly. “But I thought. . .”
She looks at me puzzled, then realises I didn’t know that either.
“I guess you didn’t get that memo either,” she says, sounding kind of exasperated. “I’m not with Robin. Never really was with Robin to be honest,” she tells me, but stops as Lucy jumps beside her, yanking on her arm.
“Are you talking about daddy?” the kid asks. “I wanna see daddy.”
“You’re seeing him tomorrow, now let mommy and Faith talk, ok, baby?” Buffy asks softly. She picks the kid up and puts her on the floor, looking from the TV to me. “How about you watch TV,” she says to Lucy, standing and motioning for me to get out of my seat.
I get to my feet and sidestep outta the way as she does her mom thing, setting the kid up on the chair and pushing it round to face the TV. It’s kinda weird seeing Buffy like that. I mean to me she’ll always be the girl I fell in love with years ago, but she’s changed. She’s grown up and responsible for this little person. It’s kind of a mind fuck, but hey. . .we all change, and at least she’s single.
“There isn’t any porn on this is there, Faith?” Buffy asks me, about to hand the remote to Lucy.
“Not that I know, B, didn’t go looking,” I reply, for once not trying to find the innuendo I could use on her.
She hands it to the kid and leaves her to flick around the channels as she chews on my toothbrush. Pointing towards the top of the bed, Buffy herds me that way and I get the hint. I sit by the pillows facing her as she plops down and sits in front of me.
“Do you want me to tell you what happened?” Buffy asks, finally not trying to keep from looking in my eyes too long.
Do I want her to tell me? I dunno if I do. She doesn’t owe me explanations, and I can’t ask her to give up her secrets to me. It’s kinda surprising that she’s offering to tell me anything at all. We didn’t part as best friends and we haven’t spoken for over three years, so she has no obligation to tell me shit. I shrug, but nod just a little anyway.
She takes a deep breath, looking out of the window for a second before looking at me completely openly.
“I guess - given our history - I don’t really need to tell you everything, or anything. . .but that doesn’t feel right,” she tells me. “Despite the fact we haven’t spoken and were never exactly close, I want you to know.”
I nod again, more firmly. Letting her know I get it. Of course I get it. We share something we’ve never told each other about. It’s not all in my head like I used to think it was; it’s here, it’s there in her eyes.
“When you left. . .” she pauses and I know now how much it musta hurt her for me to go before we gave each other more of a chance, “I kinda went off the rails a little, or that’s what Will calls it. It was more a case of just letting go for once. Being less than expected of me. I didn’t go as far as I did during the whole ‘Spike nightmare’, but it was close. I was doing what I wanted without thinking about anybody else.”
“I know all about that one, B,” I say softly, knowing I’ve done that my whole life.
“We stayed on in LA for a while, and Robin was around a lot,” she continues. “He’s basically a good man, and. . .when I was finding the fun I kinda swept him up in that with me. We were together only a few times, but I guess we weren’t as careful as we should have been. Nine months later and bingo. . .I get Lucy.”
She smiles despite the fact the poor kid obviously wasn’t planned, but I furrow my brow, trying not to think of her and Wood together. It’s hard, though. She’s all I want, all I think about like that. . .kinda makes me wanna find him and hurt him.
“Didn’t think you two were that close,” I say. “Last I knew you didn’t much like him after he tried to off Spike then helped to get you kicked from top slayer spot before the fight.”
“Yeah, it kinda threw me too, but. . .he was just there,” Buffy says quietly, her fingers pulling at the end of her sleeve. “If I’m being honest - and I want to be with you this time - there’s more to it.”
She stops and turns to see what junior’s up to. The remote is hanging limply in her hand, toothbrush now on the floor where it dropped from her mouth, and she’s fast asleep. I guess she’s kinda cute when she’s all quiet and unconscious. Buffy turns back to me, apprehension making her look just a little scared.
“You understand the dreams we share, right? I mean, you get what they mean,” she says, her eyes searching mine.
I stop and think about it for a second. I’m pretty sure I know what they mean. It’s our way of being together without all the baggage. Like I said, they’re not all intimate and sexy, but they’re pretty fucking obvious even though nothing happens in ‘em.
“I think so,” I respond, being cautious, not wanting to push it.
“Then hopefully this won’t totally freak you out. It is kinda freaky and I was definitely freaked with it myself but. . .” she takes a breath. “When you left, Robin was kinda pining over you, and. . .I guess I wanted to share in that with somebody. I’d never really admitted to myself how much I like you and I wasn’t about to go telling anybody,” she says, her voice starting to shake just a little out of nervousness.
“You can tell me, B,” I reassure, trying not to let the grin slip out having heard her say she likes me.
“I wanted to feel closer to you, and you were with him before you went. . .and yeah, I know, it’s freaky,” she chuckles, not hiding her nerves now. “I could talk to him about you, and. . .” she checks to make sure the kid’s still asleep before continuing, “when we had sex it wasn’t him I was thinking of, it was you.”
I feel my heart kinda skip over a few beats, and try to process what she just said. I coulda sworn she just admitted she wants me. Like, really wants me.
“I’m a giant freak,” Buffy says, hiding her face behind her hand.
I make her move her hand back down and tell her, “No you’re not.” I pause for a second, just looking at her before letting it all totally sink in. This is pretty surreal, and hell. . .I guess it is kinda freaky. “Seriously though, B, if you’d wanted my goodies you coulda come right to the source. The guy’s got skills, but they’re nothing compared to mine,” I say with a grin I can’t hold back any longer.
She chuckles and swats at my arm playfully.
“I wasn’t ready for that. Besides, you left before I could finally deal with it,” she points out.
I’d left as soon as Giles asked me ‘cause I thought it was for the best. I had no illusions that Buffy was suddenly gonna give me the come on and we’d get down an’ dirty. Hell, if she had I don’t know if I was ready for any kinda relationship back then. It probably woulda turned to shit before the sheets were cold.
“Had a lotta bad memories to get away from,” I tell her.
“I know, Faith,” Buffy says, placing her hand on my arm.
It’s just a small touch, doesn’t even mean anything really. . .but it’s fucking everything right now. We’re not fighting, we’re understanding each other. She’s not hitting me, she’s just touching me.
“Anyway, that’s the Robin and Buffy story,” Buffy says with a shrug. “And it’s about time I got Lucy home to bed.”
“Right,” I respond, still trying to process everything. Trying to figure out where I stand now. Where we stand.
She moves her hand from my arm and smiles at me when I look up into her eyes.
“I hope we can be ok,” she says, almost too quiet to hear.
“Course we can, B. . .if that’s what you want,” I tell her.
I want more than ok. I want it all, but I’m not gonna make her run scared from me. I need to work out what it all means in my own brain before I start asking her where we’re headed, if anywhere. For all I know right now she’s not into me like that anymore. . .though I’m almost certain that ain’t so. She can’t hide what I see in those green eyes. And the dreams tell me everything she doesn’t. We’ll be ok. More than ok.
“It is what I want,” she reassures me, standing and stretching her legs out before turning to the kid. “But things are kinda complicated right now so. . .I don’t know where we go from here, if you want it to go anywhere.”
She sounds so small, fragile and unsure. I can’t ask her to make me promises or tell me what she wants. All I can do is let her know I’m here when she wants it. That’s not me being whipped or wrapped round her finger or any other shit, it’s me not being able to do anything but love her. I’ll wait forever ‘cause it’s all I can do. I don’t have a choice. She’s the only thing that can fill the space inside me.
Despite the fact this is the first time we’ve spoken since I left, it feels like we’re kinda on the same page. Like we can progress instead of slide back.
“We’ll work it out, B,” I say. “Pretty sure you know how I feel, we’re not kids now. . .and it ain’t changing any time soon.”
She looks up at me through her eyelashes, her sweet smile melting all my cold parts as she tells me, “Thanks for letting me know that.”
We move to the front door and Buffy asks me to pick the kid up so she can go open her car. I look at her like she’s crazy at first, but I know she won’t take no for an answer. I stare down at the kid as she sleeps, some of Buffy’s features clearly visible in amongst Robin’s. Kinda wish I’d been around when she was born, even though babies are all pretty much the same wrinkly poop-machines. I just love Buffy, and I guess that means her sprogs get some of that too. . .by default or something. I would never tell anyone, but it probably means I’m gonna get a huge soft spot for the terror.
I slip my feet back into my boots and lean down to pick Lucy up awkwardly, not knowing how the hell to do it right. I mean, I don’t wanna go throwing her around like a sack of potatoes. Hearing Buffy chuckling at me from the door ain’t helping either.
“Hey, it’s not like I do this a lot, or at all,” I grumble, carrying the kid outside as I follow Buffy to her car.
She opens the back door and points to the seat she wants me to drop the kid in. I lean in and put her down. She hardly even moves, just kinda whimpers at me as I fix the seatbelt round her. Before I pull away I stop for a second, moving a stray curl from her eyes. Yeah, I’m pretty sure there’s no demon in her, just a lot of Buffy.
“Thanks,” Buffy tells me, opening her own door but stopping before getting in.
I stand upright and shut the back door, moving just a little closer to Buffy. Just gazing at her and wondering how she manages to look more beautiful every time I see her. I smile, the cute dimpled one that makes a little twinkle appear in her eyes. It never fails.
“Guess we’ll see each other tomorrow or something,” she says, looking deep into me, so many things being said without saying them. “I’m glad you came.”
She looks like she’s about to get into the car, but she stops and steps close to me. Before I can tell what she’s doing her hand is on my cheek, holding me soft and sure, her lips suddenly over mine giving me the most tender kiss I’ve ever felt. My eyes slam shut, my whole body burning up as she presses her lips to me then slowly pulls away.
It only lasted a second, and I didn’t get chance to pull my brain outta the clouds to kiss her back, but fuck. . .that was the best damn kiss of my life. I’ve waited years for that. For her to give it to me. There’s been times I coulda jumped on her and taken it, but I only ever wanted her to want to give it to me.
She smiles shyly and I’m pretty sure I must look totally spazzed out ‘cause she just gets in her car and drives away. I watch her go, snow starting to fall around me, landing on my shoulders and obscuring my view of her taillights as she leaves. I look up when I can no longer see them, the air filled with white, the sky looking like somebody threw a big blanket over it. As I smile, the flakes land on my lips, cooling me where she’d just set me on fire.
I didn’t think it was possible, but I swear I just fell even more in love with her. Despite the fact it threw me for a loop at most points, today was a pretty fucking good day.
Chuckling to myself I look down and realise I’m stood around in panties and boots, probably looking kinda weird and dazed. I feel weird and dazed. More than that. . .I feel like I got my hope back.