Disclaimer: I don't own these characters, nor do I make any money from writing about them.
Summary: Sequel to Just Another Moonlit Beach. Faith's thoughts on everything that has led up to her going to Scotland to visit Buffy.
Timeline: Post-chosen. Shortly after issue 12, "Wolves At The Gate." Spoilers through the season 8 comics.
There's something crazy about love that I just don't get. I mean, you feel it, you fight it, you inevitably fuck it up. Or maybe that's just the way it happened to me. Either way, I just can't wrap my head around the whole love thing. It's not something I've ever really sought out, cos honestly?
I don't believe in happy endings.
There, I said it. It's out in the open.
What's the point in throwin yourself into something if it's just gonna shrivel up and go away? And that's only after it chews you up and spits you out.
Someone once said that it's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, but me? I wish it never happened to me. Thing is, I never planned on falling in love. I can remember being eight years old and sitting on my ma's bed as she got ready for a date.
She looked back at me in the mirror when she was putting on her lipstick and said, "You listen to Mommy, Faithy. There's no such thing as love. Believing in it will only get you in trouble, trapped in a box-sized apartment with a kid you can barely afford to feed since her deadbeat father disappeared when he found out you were pregnant. There's only lust. Love doesn't exist; it's all just a trick to hurt you and make you realize how alone you really are. You hear me?"
And yunno what? I was eight years old. To me, Mom was god.
"Yeah, mommy, I'm listening."
"Good girl. Now go and find my special purse, the one with the silver chain."
Fucked up, right? I mean, my ma loved me. I know she did. She was dealt a bad hand in life, but no matter what, she did her best with me. But loving me wasn't the same as falling in love with someone. That kind of love wasn't supposed to exist.
So Ma drank herself to an early grave despite the way I tried to help her out, and I was left with the few lessons that she'd instilled in me.
I pretty much lived my teen years from the time I was called ‘til the time I came to Sunnydale being careless and fancy free. I didn't need love and love didn't need me.
And then I met Buffy Summers.
Can we get a moment of silence here for my heart? Cos from the first moment I saw her, I knew that it wasn't mine anymore.
No, go ahead, bow your heads. I can wait.
Anyhow, there was something about Buffy that made me know I was in trouble. In trouble of falling, at risk of being hurt. Wasn't really scared of the whole ending up with a baby I couldn't feed though, so at least I had that going for me.
But I couldn't stop myself. No matter what I thought or tried to feel, and no matter what stupid things I did to convince myself otherwise, I went and fell right in love with her again and again every time I saw her. And it killed me, because I knew it wasn't a mutual kinda thing. I was much too alive, not to mention much too female for her tastes.
I'm not a smart person, but I'm also not stupid; I knew how she really felt about me. She could barely stand to be around me. Not that I can blame her now looking back at it. I was rude, crude, and totally the opposite of everything she was about.
And it made me crazy. The feelings I was feeling, they weren't supposed to exist. I thought something was wrong with me. I needed to get away from her, needed to stop the feelings, and I figured the only way I could do that was by being as wrong for her as I could possibly manage.
But times change, people change. Prison taught me a lot, and I mean more than just how to make license plates and defend myself with a toothbrush. (Sidenote: brush-side out. They never expect it.) I learned that being alone really isn't what it's cracked up to be.
The prison shrink told me that I had trust issues and that – though it was difficult with her scant resources – she'd venture to guess that I had a really mild case of dissocial personality disorder. That's right folks, she told me I was a mild sociopath.
Crazy thing is, she was pretty spot on about stuff. Irresponsibility, irritability, aggression, violence, lack of compassion, no lasting relationships.
But how could I tell her that half of that shit was life lessons learned from my Ma?
I'm not a sociopath, I'm just fucked up. Aren't we all in some way though?
She'd make me talk a lot about myself which I really wasn't too cool with, but then she did a lot of talking too. Told me that by not letting people in, I was isolating myself from anything good.
And I'll tell ya, after almost three years in the clink, I was ready for something good. I took her advice; I was ready to let people in. To let myself love and be loved back. To work on my feelings; on being a rational human who associates with other rational humans.
Guess I never took B into consideration with that one though, cos she's anything but rational. She wasn't rational when she was pummeling me in three feet of water, telling me she knew I'd switch sides. Wasn't rational when she called me to her dream and got all profound on me. Defo wasn't rational when she kissed me and let me kiss her back. Was bordering on illogical when she woke up and actually called me.
And was completely, over the top irrational when she called me again a week later and told me she wanted to see me.
Now me? I coulda tried out some of my new attempts at being rational. I coulda told her I thought it was too soon. I coulda told her it would end badly like it always did for us. I coulda told her that I had plans.
But instead I went out and bought a ticket on the first flight I could find to Scotland.
Maybe my shrink was right and I needed to let myself love, and be loved. Maybe my Ma was right and there was no such thing. Maybe I'd get hurt again.
The fact remains, though, that Buffy invited me there, and that was obviously some kinda step in the right direction. I'd probably get hurt, but at least I could say I tried.
I had a lot of time to think on the flight over. Two times I nearly ripped off the cabin door and hopped out, but the flight attendant assured me that it was a very, very, very bad idea.
And then she slipped me her phone number.
Now see, the old Faith woulda had her in the bathroom calling out to god after three minutes, but the new Faith? Well, it didn't do anything for her. She was pretty sure there was something out there for her more than the thrill of instant gratification.
Fuck though, I always wanted to join the mile high club. Dammit, why couldn't I have got all reformed after I got off the plane and not before?
B told me that she was gonna have Xander pick me up at the airport, but I told her that I'd rather find my own way. Hey, at least this way I know that the steps I take are my own.
I was a bit more than shocked to walk to baggage claim to find a chubby little orange-haired man holding a sign with my last name on it. I seriously thought about walking by him and pretending not to notice, but then he tapped my shoulder as I passed by.
I eyed his sign and then looked at him confused, hoping I could play it off like I didn't know what he was tapping me for, but then he turned the sign around to show that he had a picture of me taped to the back.
B's a crafty one, I'll give her that much.
"Guess you're my ride then," I told him, and he just smiled at me in return.
"Miss Summers sends her regards and knows that, since you won't accept a ride, she's provided one for you."
He turned around and started walking toward the exit, carrying my small suitcase. I was about to go all possessive, but I swallowed my anger and followed him, toting my big suitcase behind me.
When we got outside, he stopped in front of a silver and black Ducati that nearly made me cream my jeans.
"Sweet!" I nearly yelled, my eyes wide. Maybe I was starting to worry about ending up alone with a baby I couldn't feed now cos seriously, I was gonna adopt that thing. "Umm, don't suppose she thought about my luggage situation."
"I'll be transporting your luggage, and you can follow me to the castle."
The castle? Shit. I almost felt bad about her buying a motorcycle until I heard the word castle. I grinned.
"Follow you? Lucky Charms, you have any idea how fast these things go?" I asked, my fingers stroking along the bike.
"No," he said dryly, clearly hating the new nickname.
"Well I do. You tell me what way to go and I'll meet you there. I'm taking this baby on a joy ride."
And he did, telling me which turns to make and how far I'd have to go. Before I could see that he had my bags safely stowed, I was speeding through the parking lot and on my way.
The thing about Scotland though, is that it rains a lot. And going 100mph with the wind and rain whipping at your body? Kinda feels like getting pelted with a muzzle full of shotgun pellets.
I was lookin a bit worse for wear by the time I got to the castle, but I didn't care. Underneath my wet clothes, beyond the shivers and the chills . . . I felt the tingles. The tingles that let me know that Buffy was there, waiting for me.
I sloshed and squished my way to the main entrance, hoping beyond all hope that the driver would get here with my bags soon. A nice hot shower was calling me, but that could wait until I saw Buffy's smile. The one she gave me in the dream right before she kissed me.
And that brings us to now, me standing out here in the rain, too scared to knock but too anxious to wait out here for the rest of the night. I'm dyin to see how this all turns out.
After about a minute or two, I hear a knock on the big, heavy door.
"Who is it?" I yell, smiling. I know who it is.
"Bananagram!" Buffy yells back, and my heart skips a beat.
She opens the door half way and stands there, her lips curled in a shy smile as she takes in my appearance.
"Guess I didn't fully think through the pros and cons of the motorcycle."
I can't help but laugh at her.
"Bonus points for effort, B. It's the thought that counts."
She looks like she's waiting for something, like I'm supposed to say something, but she's hesitating. No matter how much we claim to have lived and learned, there's still some kind of underlying tension that . . .
"So were you planning on coming in, or should I get an umbrella?" she interrupts my thoughts.
Ah, right. So that's what she was waiting for.
I take a tentative step inside, trying not to drip all over the place, but it's a lost cause. I'm soaked to the bone.
That doesn't stop Buffy from taking my hand though and leading me through the castle and up to the room where I'll be staying. Thankfully, it's only about two doors down from her room.
"Shower's through there," she points to a small room off to the side, "there are clean towels in the cupboard. I'll go down and see if the courier is back with your bags. And just . . . make yourself at home."
Her smile is incandescent as she walks out of the room, only letting go of my hand as she finally has to step away. I watch her leave, waiting until the door is closed to finally shake myself free from the stupor I'm in.
I was wrong. It's not weird or awkward. Maybe . . . it's our time. We've cleared the air, gotten stuff off of our chests, and it's time to have a new go at it.
I've gotta say, I should probably find this Satsu chick and thank her for finally diving and conquering Buffy's gay virginity. It must have been a totally eye-opening experience for B, cos she seems like a totally different person now. She's not trying to hide parts of herself anymore, always trying to be cautious that she didn't let her façade slip.
This Buffy is much more well-adjusted and just . . . easy. Easy to be around, easy to like, easy to love.
There. I said it. Despite all of my psychoses, I know that I'm totally head over heels crazy about this girl, like I never stopped loving her all along.
I hope she's okay with that, or at least able to deal with it. Now that I've said it aloud – again – it's not going away.
I don't want it to.
A chill runs through me and I don't know if it's cos I'm suddenly a bit scared or cos of these wet clothes. I start to strip anyhow and hang my wet clothes over the radiator, then make my way to the shower.
The water is hot and just what I needed to kick the damp from my body. There are all kindsa soaps and gels on the wall, but I open and smell them all, looking for the one that smells like Buffy. Sure enough I find the scent after just a moment or two and I inhale deep, closing my eyes and letting it warm me from the inside.
It's gonna be embarrassing when I leave and they find out that I took it home with me. What can I say; I'm just a sucker hopelessly in love.
The soft towel feels good against my skin as I dry off, the delicate scent of lilacs and sunshine filling the air. I could wrap myself up in this scent forever.
As dry as I'm gonna get in this close of a vicinity to Buffy, I wrap the towel around myself and walk to the door, opening it slowly to see if there's anyone in the room. I don't see my bags, but there's a light pink robe on the bed with a note on top of it.
'Faith, the driver is missing in action with your suitcases, so you'll have to borrow a robe until we can find out what happened. You didn't happen to make fun of him, did you? Of course you did. We'll take you out for some new clothes tomorrow. I'll be back shortly to check on you. –B.'
Great. So calling the guy Lucky Charms pissed him off enough to commit grand theft luggage? I've gotta learn to keep my mouth shut. Dammit.
With no other options besides wet clothes, I put on the pink robe – so not my color – and tie it around my waist. There's a pair of socks on the bed too, and instantly I know who this ensemble belongs to. Only Buffy would have socks with little pink pigs on them to match her pink bath robe.
I chuckle as I put them on, noting exactly how retarded my feet look. No way am I ever gonna live this down if anyone but B sees me in them.
There's no way I'm venturing out into the castle, so I lay back on the bed, my wet hair pooling around my shoulders. The jet lag is catching up with me, but there's no way I wanna fall asleep now. I just got here.
A small knock at the door pulls me from my near slumber.
I look over to see the door open and Buffy walk in with a tray of food.
This girl gets me.
"I know I can't make up for the clothes, but I come bearing food to help ease the pain," she says, smiling.
"You know the way to a girl's heart, B," I answer, and . . . holy shit, am I blushing? Is she blushing?
And we're both blushing. What the hell are we, ten?
She climbs up on the bed and sets the tray down, revealing a whole slew of Chinese food. Sweet and sour chicken, beef with broccoli, general tsao's, beef lo mein, egg rolls, pork fried rice . . . the works.
"The girls made me order extra because they knew you were coming and didn't want to share theirs. They've heard Xander's stories."
"Hey, I only stole your fries cos I knew you were done, yo," I say in my defense, and it makes B laugh.
I look down at the tray and I see two forks. Looking up, I smile at B. The kinda soft smile I know she's not used to seeing on me.
"You gonna eat with me?" I ask her.
"If you don't mind. I haven't been able to eat the last two days. Nerves," she confesses shyly.
It was two days ago that she told me to come here and I told her I was on my way. Guess I wasn't the only nervous one though.
We pick up our forks and dig in. Now see, I have no shame when I eat. I pile it in and enjoy it, hard. Buffy's different. She takes these small bites, savoring every mouthful before swallowing. It's kinda hypnotic and I have to concentrate on not staring at her.
"So, why were you nervous?" I ask, getting right to the point. We've pussyfooted around each other for far too long, and I've come too far to cop out now.
She finishes her bite and swallows, shrugging lightly.
"It's you. It's us. We don't have a great track record. Things seemed different though, when you came to see me in my dream. I felt like maybe it's our time."
"And you're scared that we're gonna screw it up again?" I ask what I think is the obvious.
"God, no," she laughs. "It's you and I, Faith, we're bound to screw up. I'm scared of what it means, of what we finally have to admit. All of our past is based on the fact that we were hiding things from each other."
"And now we have to be open about it all," I finish for her.
"That's the gist of it," she says, nodding.
I reach down on my plate to pick up my last egg roll, but Buffy leans over and stabs it with her fork, bringing it up quickly up to her mouth. She takes a whopping bite of it and tries to keep her mouth closed as she chews and smiles.
Calmly as ever, I reach over and take the fork from her hand, setting it down to her plate. Still leaning over, having closed half of the distance between us, I grin at her and curl my finger at her, beckoning her closer.
She's wary at first, but she eventually leans in. Making it easy for her, I lean in the last little bit and press my lips to hers, feeling them yield immediately to mine. I kiss her soft at first, then a little bit deeper. She does this little whimper in the back of her throat and I have to fight the urge to throw her down on the bed and ravish her. Instead, I pull back slowly and look at her like the cat that got the cream.
Her eyes are still closed as she brings her fingertips up to her lips, touching them gently.
A full minute passes before she says, "You so did that just to get your egg roll back."
I laugh softly, unable to move my gaze from her flushed face.
"Yeah, but the kiss was totally a bonus."
"It was a nice kiss," she muses quietly.
"Great kiss," I say back, looking into her eyes as she finally opens them.
"Ugh!" she exclaims, hitting her open palms lightly on her legs. "Why couldn't it have been like this before? Why did we hurt each other so much?"
I think about it for a minute. I could tell her that we were young and didn't know any better, but I decide to go for the truth.
"Cos you were straight and I was an asshole. We weren't ready to deal."
"I guess," she says, her shoulders slumped. "So much time wasted. Why do you think we're doing this now? What changed?"
Again, she's making me think about it. It's not something that's easy to describe.
"I think that . . . we're finally ready to let it all go. We've seen enough bad things, done enough bad things, to know that it's useless fighting it anymore when we're both obviously feeling something."
She smiles shyly, almost relieved, and asks, "And what are you feeling, Faith?"
And she's really going for it tonight. The gloves are off, the chips are down, and a whole bunch of other analogies that I don't understand.
But I'm not ready to reveal everything tonight. Gotta keep a few cards against my chest, cos I'm tryin to be all mature and responsible and not rush anything. This whole ‘being rational' thing might actually work out for the good.
"Mostly?" I begin. "I'm feelin the jet lag."
She laughs, but she gets it. No more pushing tonight. I'd say we've already made a buttload of progress.
"Of course, I should have realized."
B stands up and starts clearing the tray and drinks from the bed, but I don't think I'm ready for her to leave yet.
Look at me, clingy after an hour.
"Umm, B? Would you be okay with hangin out here for a while? I'll be out once my head hits the pillow, and you can watch TV or something. I just . . . I don't wanna . . ."
"No, it's okay," she says, saving me from having to finish. "I can cop a squat on your couch, watch a movie. It's fine, Faith."
And just like that, it's settled. She moves the tray of food outside the door and comes back in, settling down on the plush gray couch. Remote in hand, she gives me a dazzling smile as I settle into the bed in her fluffy pink robe, then turns her attention to the TV.
Part of me is embarrassed for asking her to stay, but the other part of me is more relived that she agreed to stay without making it all weird.
Somewhere between being embarrassed and relieved and the smell of Buffy's shower gel, I fall into a deep sleep. There's no slayer dreams or shared encounters; just some weird dream of me wearing a monkey suit and a giant talking banana chasing me around.
A few hours musta passed by before I woke up, looking around the dark room illuminated only by the silent TV now. I glance over and see B asleep on the couch, her head hanging off the back and her little legs dangling off the edge.
She looks so uncomfortable, yet she stayed. For me.
As quietly as I can, I step out of the bed and I walk over to the couch, brushing Buffy's hair out of her face. She stirs a little and mumbles in her sleep, "Don't eat me, giant banana."
Okay, remind me to ask her about that tomorrow, cos suddenly I'm worrying that we're gonna get attacked by a fruit army somewhere in the near future.
Making sure my robe is tied tightly, I slip my arms under Buffy's legs and around her back, lifting her up easily.
Torn between taking her back to her room or keeping her here, I finally start walking toward the door. The creak of the old handle stirs her and she lifts her head, looking up at me.
"Am I going somewhere?" she asks sleepily.
"Back to your room, B. It's late. Or at least I think it is."
"No," she says quickly, but lays her head back on my shoulder and closes her eyes like she's too comfortable.
"You wanna stay here with me?" I ask, confused.
I turn back around, but not toward the couch. She's slept there long enough; she can have the bed now.
As I lay her gently down on the soft mattress, she doesn't let her arms down from my neck.
"Just stay here," she mumbles.
And yunno me, not one to look a gift horse in the mouth.
I climb up on the bed and over to the other side of Buffy, keeping a respectable distance between us. Never thought I'd ever share a bed with Buffy Summers, but there's a first time for everything.
Laying here awake, watching her sleep, I remember what my shrink told me. I'm a person who can love and be loved back. I don't know how it works, and I don't know that I generally believe it just yet, but I'll be damned if I'm not willing to try.
I scoot a bit closer to Buffy and take her hand, interlocking our fingers as I pull our hands between us. She curls up on her side, bringing us that much closer. My nose is pressed into her hair and I breathe in deep, letting my eyes slide shut.
"When I wake up this time, will you be here?" she whispers, so quiet I can barely hear her. Guess she's not as asleep as I thought she was.
"I'm not goin anywhere, B," I promise back just as quietly.
She brings her free hand up to my shoulder and curls a strand of my hair around her fingertips. Before I can say anything more, she drifts off to sleep again.
There's something crazy about love that I just don't get. You go back and forth and hurt each other in more ways than you can possibly imagine, but it's still there underneath it all, waiting, promising you that things will be alright. That you deserve a chance at being happy despite all of the bad.
No, I don't believe in happy endings, but I do believe in new beginnings.
I have a feeling that the second time around is gonna be quite a ride.
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