Written: February 14, 2009

Rating: PG

Pairing: Buffy/Faith, slight Buffy/Other

Timeline: Roughly three years Post-Chosen.

Summary: It's going to take more than a glass of vodka and some blues music to pull Buffy out of the funk she's in.

Disclaimer: I don't own the characters or make any profit from writing about them, nor do I own the song used within the story.

Suggested music: Gravity by John Mayer

Buffy sat alone at a table in the dimly lit bar, slowly sipping her drink. The place was nearly empty now, though she never would have noticed with the way she'd been staring blankly at the melting ice in her glass for the last thirty minutes.

Slow, bluesy music filtered out from the sound system, giving the bar a very somber mood.

It was perfect, at least for Buffy. She felt somber and alone and there was no better place for her to feel that than right where she sat.

She'd spent the better part of the day in a downtown court building, finalizing her divorce from Kyle. Luckily, he never put up much of a fight when she'd finally asked for a divorce so the process went by fairly easily and without too many delays.

Buffy couldn't lie; Kyle had been a wonderful husband. Perfect even. Hopelessly devoted, endlessly loving and patient. More giving than any man she'd ever met. Maybe, she thought, that's why she'd married him in the first place. She'd figured that if she could love anyone, he was it. How could she not love him?

Their first few months were those of a perfect fairytale happy marriage. They held hands, laughed, and just enjoyed one another's company. Still, Buffy felt like she was holding her breath the entire time, waiting for the bottom to fall out. For something to happen that would end it all; that would shatter her whole new life that she was trying so hard to enjoy.

But it wasn't some external force that crashed down and ended those happy months. It was something deep inside of Buffy that she knew she'd been fighting for longer than she'd ever realized.

The life she was living wasn't the one that she wanted. Buffy loved Kyle, there was no doubt about it; but she wasn't in love with him. She could try to pretend all that she wanted, but there was something deep inside that would never let her give herself fully to him; something that kept her from accepting the illusion of happiness that she'd established for herself.

She wasn't happy.

Part of her wondered if she ever could be.

But that wasn't the point. The point was that she'd let their marriage drag on for nearly two years and it wasn't fair.

It wasn't fair to Kyle, who took to sleeping on the couch because his own wife recoiled when he would try to comfort her or get too close. Kyle, who brought fresh flowers to their - no, Buffy's - bedroom every afternoon for three months when Buffy couldn't force herself to get up out of bed. Kyle, who flew Willow in from South America when Buffy cried for four days straight and couldn't find the words or strength to tell him what was wrong. Kyle, who offered to change whatever it was about himself that would make Buffy love him again; that would bring back her beautiful smile.

Kyle, who'd held her hand that morning in court and kissed her temple sadly when they'd finally finished once and for all and whispered into her ear, "I hope you find what makes you smile again, Buffy, because you deserve all the happiness in the world that I couldn't give you."

Buffy absently wiped a stray tear from her eye as she remembered it all. She took the cool glass in her shaky hand and brought it up to her lips, taking another small sip of the clear liquid. Her cell phone was ringing yet again but she decided to ignore it the way she'd ignored it the previous thirty-one times it rang in the last three hours.

Willow was a great friend but she just didn't seem to understand that there was only one person Buffy wanted to be around right now. It was that very person whom Buffy had run from back in LA after they'd closed the Hellmouth and the very same person who she'd run from earlier that day when she'd felt her presence near the courthouse.

As hard as it was for anyone to believe, it always came down to Faith. Buffy and Faith had been drawn to one another like bees to honey from the beginning. Buffy had fought it though, not wanting to befriend the girl who had stormed into her life like a twister. Everyone loved Faith in the beginning and that drove Buffy crazy.

After they'd made their peace in Sunnydale and ended up in LA after its implosion, they'd quickly become close friends. They got apartments in the same neighborhood and were both working to help Giles build a new and better Watcher's Council. Everything was going great in their lives.

For the first time in as long as she could remember, Buffy was truly happy. So happy, in fact, that she lost her inhibitions one evening and ended up kissing Faith while they were dancing together at some popular night club. She'd never felt anything like that kiss before, nor like the way she felt when Faith gently wrapped her arms around her and held her close. So wrapped up in the moment, she was, that she forgot where they were for a moment and didn't think twice about it until she opened her eyes to find Dawn and the Scoobies staring at them wide-eyed and open-mouthed.

And of course, in typical Buffy fashion, she overreacted and overcompensated. She excused herself from Faith's embrace and went to the restroom to gather her senses, then accepted an offer to dance from the first guy that asked when she returned to the club floor.

His name was Kyle, and she knew instantly that he was the perfect distraction.

Their romance was quick and powerful and Buffy really threw herself into the relationship and making it work. She'd convinced herself it was what she wanted, despite the little niggling reminder in her mind about how right kissing Faith had felt; how much being in her arms had felt like home.

Faith did her best to wear a happy face and play the supportive friend, she really did. But after years of secretly crushing on Buffy and finally having her for one perfect moment, it was all too much. She stuck around for as long as she could but finally accepted a reassignment by Giles on the day that she got the invite to Buffy's wedding.

That was the last time Buffy had heard from her, but definitely not the last time she'd thought about her. When she finally realized that her marriage was a sham, she stayed in bed for three months, crying every day for knowing how much she had hurt Faith; how much she had screwed up both of their own lives with her own fear.

The truth of the matter was that Buffy and Faith had some kind of gravity between them that kept pulling them together and Buffy had always done her damnedest to push her away. She'd screwed up both of their lives, and now Kyle was suffering as a result as well.

A small chirping noise from Buffy's purse pulled her from her thoughts. She swiped the back of her left hand over her cheeks and wiped away her tears, then sniffled deeply before pulling the phone from her purse and hitting the green button, finally ready to deal with Willow.

"Hey Wills," she answered, trying her best to sound like she hadn't been crying.

"Buffy? I've been trying to reach you for hours. Are you okay?"

Buffy sniffled again, shrugging to herself.

"I just need time."

"I know you do, sweetie. I talked to Kyle and he's doing surprisingly well. He's just worried about you. He wants you to be happy, Buffy. We all do."

"I know you do, Wills, that's why you're my best friend."

There was an awkward silence for a moment or two before Willow began to speak again.

"Buffy . . . we support you in whoever you choose to be with, you know that, right? Because, well . . . after seeing it a couple years back with my own eyes, I've always sorta thought that you and Fai. . ."

"Willow," Buffy interrupted, clenching her eyes shut, "I appreciate your support, I really do. I just . . . I ruined Kyle's life today, Wills. I led him into believing that we could be happy when deep down inside I knew that we couldn't. I'm a rotten person, and I don't ever plan to inflict myself on anyone ever again."

"Well that sucks for me," came a voice from behind Buffy.

She quickly looked back to find Faith standing there in all of her usual glory, tight black pants and a dark denim jacket over a form-fitting white tank top. Her hair was just as long as before but darker now and her voice still made Buffy's stomach feel like it was filled with butterflies.

"Wills . . ." Buffy began, her tear-filled eyes not leaving Faith's, "I have to go."

"I take it Faith is there by now then. Guess my locator spell worked pretty well. Just . . . talk to her, Buffy. Don't push away what you're feeling."

"I'll call you later," Buffy said quickly and finally clicked her phone shut. She couldn't believe that Faith was standing there after all this time. Part of her had always believed that Faith would hate her after the way she had reacted to their kiss.

"Sorry to drop in unannounced," Faith said, looking from Buffy around the small bar, taking the whole atmosphere in. "Doesn't seem like your usual haunt, B. There's a pretty distinctive lack of strobe lights and Kylie Minogue."

"I'm grieving," Buffy said, still staring up at Faith.

"You shouldn't be grieving," Faith said as she pulled back one of the chairs at the table and sat down. She grabbed the glass of clear liquid from in front of Buffy and sniffed it before downing it in one go. "You can feel sad, but ya can't let it overwhelm ya. Kyle's a great guy and he's gonna get over it. He loves ya, B. No way did he want you to be unhappy forever."

"Maybe I could've settled. He deserves a happy ending. He's been so great." She stopped speaking suddenly, biting her bottom lip as another swell of emotion passed through her.

"You deserve a happy ending too, B. If that wasn't gonna be with Kyle, you were good to let him go. You gave him a new beginning. Lotsa people never get a chance at that."

Buffy thought it over for a few minutes as she stole the glass tumbler back from Faith's hands, running her fingertip along the rim and listening to the whistling sound it made.

"Lots of people don't deserve that chance," she said quietly, her self-loathing apparent in her voice.

"If there was ever anyone that did, it's you, B," Faith said, trying to make Buffy look at her. "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end. Cycle of life, man. We hurt, we heal . . . we move on."

Buffy finally looked into Faith's eyes again, her heart beating hard in her chest as she did so.

"Are you here to be my personal cheerleader?" Buffy asked, laughing quietly at herself. A tear escaped her eyes.

Faith watched her for a moment and then stood up, stepping over to her and holding out her hand.

"No . . . I'm here to help you move on."

Buffy looked to Faith's proffered hand, then up to her deep drown eyes with a worried look upon her face.

"It's so soon. What if I'm not ready?" she whispered, her voice cracking as yet another tear rolled down her cheeks.

Faith smiled, the kind of soft smile that Buffy had always loved. It reminded her of being young and carefree.

"Won't know unless ya try."

Holding Faith's gaze, Buffy took her hand and let herself be pulled up and towards the dance floor. A new song began playing then, Gravity by John Mayer, and Buffy's legs nearly went out from under her when she suddenly felt Faith's body flush against hers. She never thought she'd feel that feeling again, reserved to only ever having lukewarm feelings rather than the fire Faith sent scorching through her with such a simple gesture.

She relaxed in Faith's arms and rested her head on her shoulder, breathing in deeply. Her tears continued to fall slowly, soaking into the material of Faith's white tank top. Buffy felt high as she closed her eyes, completely wrapped up in Faith's warmth and her spicy scent. She felt relaxed and overwhelmed all at the same time, but then again she always had when she was around Faith.

They swayed slowly to the music, barely moving at all. There was no one else out on the small dance floor and not a single person in the place was paying them any attention, though they wouldn't have noticed even if someone had been. All they could concentrate on was the feel of finally being in the other's arms.

"Did you ever feel something between us?" Faith finally asked, her voice low. "And I don't mean the slayer bond thing, and definitely not the sexual tension thing. Something deeper than that. Like this tugging . . . some kind of gravity that's always trying to pull us together?"

Buffy didn't speak but Faith could tell what her answer was by the way she clung to her just a bit tighter then.

"Yeah, me too," Faith said, letting the silence settle over them once again.

It was Buffy this time, though, who broke the silence.

"I've always been a coward," she began, her voice barely a whisper. "People say, 'That Buffy Summers, she's so strong, the strongest girl I know.' But it's all a lie. I'm such a coward. So weak. When we moved to LA, you were right there by my side, all but coming out and saying that you wanted me, and . . . god, I wanted you so bad. Did you know how much I wanted to be with you?"

She lifted her head from Faith's shoulder and looked up into her eyes, her vision clouded by her tears. Faith just shrugged a little, trying to be nonchalant.

"You'd act one way one minute, then completely different the next. I was never sure if I was coming or going. Figured I'd let you make the first move cos I didn't wanna spook ya and scare ya away."

"It didn't matter what you said or did; I was scared anyway. Scared of what I was feeling and of what it meant, scared of losing the friendship we'd built. God, I'm such an idiot. You offered me exactly what I wanted, and . . . I turned away. Found the first guy that had a heartbeat and wasn't a loser and married him before I could change my mind. I think I thought that I could trick myself into believing that, if I set up the perfect lie for myself, maybe even I would believe it."

"Nothing good ever comes from lying, B. People get hurt. "

"I know that. I knew that then, even. And you know, I could care less about my pain. But . . . Kyle. God, how could I do that to him? He's such a good man . . . he doesn't deserve what I put him through."

Buffy tried to look away but Faith stopped her with a gentle hand on her face, making sure to hold her eye contact.

"He loves you, B. He understands that it wasn't meant to be, so he's gonna move on and have another chance at the whole happily ever after deal."

"There's no such thing," Buffy said with a shake of her head, a wry smile creeping up on her face before being lost to the despair she was feeling.

"Hey, I thought I was the pessimistic one." Faith tried to lighten the mood but Buffy wasn't even hearing her attempt at humor.

"It's true though; humans are fundamentally incapable of being truly happy. We sabotage ourselves again and again and kill any real chance at happiness that comes along."

"That's not true."

"It is."

"It's not, Buffy," Faith said, shaking her head firmly. "You're sad now and being all emo and crap, but you know what could make you happy. Once you get out of this funk, maybe you'll re-prioritize; realize what it is that you really want and go for it."

"But I've known what I've wanted this whole time and I never did anything about it."

"Like you said, you were scared. Maybe now you'll be ready to face it."

Buffy took in a shaky breath as she stared into Faith's dark brown eyes, nearly losing herself for a second.

"I am facing it, Faith. I'm facing you. And I'm scared and nervous I don't know what I'm supposed to do. I never thought you'd ever want anything to do with me again after what happened between us but here you are, all wisdom and maturity completely beautiful like I can't even remember and I'm terrified."

Another tear slipped from her eye and Faith brought her hand up to her face, slowly wiping it away with her thumb. Buffy closed her eyes and leaned into the soft touch, her breath quaking as Faith opened her hand and cupped the side of her face.

"You don't need to be afraid of me, B."

"Maybe you should be afraid of me," Buffy said quietly, her green eyes shining brightly as she looked up into Faith's.

"You're like two feet tall, B. I think I could take ya if I needed to." She grinned when she saw a small smile appear on Buffy's face. "There's my smile," she said, tightening her arms around Buffy as the girl rested her head back on her shoulder.

They continued to sway to the music, not even realizing that the song had changed again. Buffy's tears slowed down and eventually stopped as the minutes passed by, each one granting her a bit of happiness that she was sure she'd never see again.

"So what do we do now?" she finally asked, her head still resting on Faith's shoulder.

She knew that it wasn't as simple as hopping into Faith's car and riding away into the sunset. Relationships didn't just happen; they took work and time and more than just a slow dance or two with the girl she'd been dreaming about for years now.

"Now? You get your life on track, B. Gotta find a new place that isn't filled with bad memories. Giles already said he has no problem with ya taking some time to get your head on straight. Take advantage of it, yunno? Maybe take a vacation."

"But what about you?" Buffy asked, daring to lift her head up and look into Faith's eyes.

Faith smiled softly, letting her thumbs slip just under the back of Buffy's thin shirt to feel her warm skin.

"I wait. And when you're ready, well . . . we'll go from there."

"But how is that fair?" Buffy asked, her brow furrowed. "Asking you to wait while I sort through my drama? Why would you do that?"

And it was simple really. Faith shrugged her shoulders just a little and tilted her head to the side, looking deeply into Buffy's eyes.

"Cos I want that shot at a happy ending too. Doesn't always come on a silver platter, B. Sometimes ya gotta wait for it."

Buffy smiled then, a true Buffy smile, and rested her head back down on Faith's shoulder. She had reasons to be sad and reasons to be scared, but Faith had given her more reasons to be hopeful than she'd ever imagined.

Several songs passed by before either of them spoke again, both of them content in their comfortable silence.

"Red sent Kennedy out with me to take your car home. Guess she figured ya wouldn't be in any condition to drive. But whenever you're ready, I can take ya home, B. Just say the word."

"No," she heard Buffy mumble against her shoulder, instantly confusing her.

"Ya gonna take a cab, blondie?" she asked with a chuckle.

"I mean, no; I don't want to go home. It's just . . . I can't go back there. Not tonight. I'll go tomorrow and start packing up some of my stuff, but I can't be there alone tonight. Is there . . . would there be any way I could stay with you tonight?"

There were probably lots of reasons why it wasn't a good idea; Buffy was emotional and vulnerable and probably not in the right state of mind, but there was no way that Faith was going to let her down now.

"Sure thing. It'll be a regular sleepover. I'll do your make up and you can braid my hair. Good times for all." She smiled when she felt Buffy laugh against her. "It's not a problem, Buffy. I'll even go with ya and help ya pack if ya need me to."

Buffy breathed in deeply, basking for the last few moments she could before Faith made her leave the bar.

"I feel like I just woke up from some kind of a bad dream but I'm too afraid to open my eyes because none of this will be real."

Faith didn't know what she could say that would convince Buffy that the bad was over and that good times lay just before her for her to reach out and take. Instead, she did the only thing she could think of. She leaned down just a little and pressed her lips to the top of Buffy's head, a silent promise that things would be okay because at least now they had each other.

They finished their last dance wrapped up in one another's arms, content with the fact that even though it wasn't quite their time yet, they had a bright future to look forward to . . . together.

The End.

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