After the Explorer was all packed, Faith and Buffy ate breakfast at the same place Faith had eaten at the day before. No one visited their table this time around though Faith did notice someone watching their table as they ate. She didn't bring it up to Buffy, however, mostly because she was leaving the city once they were finished.
Whoever talked to her the day before wouldn't have the chance to try and talk her into anything.
They made small talk while they ate, not risking to talk about any serious topics, and once they were finished they found the correct interstate and started driving. Faith made sure everything was okay with the car first though. It hadn't broken down once yet and she wanted to make sure the first time wouldn't be when Buffy was her passenger.
She didn't know why but she thought having the Explorer break down with Buffy there would be embarrassing.
The first twenty minutes on the road neither of them said anything. Faith concentrated on driving while Buffy looked out the window. It wasn't that Faith didn't know what to say to the other slayer but she had never been in a car with her all day. She wondered if they would have enough things to talk about and if they didn't, if the silence would be uncomfortable. According to the map, there wasn't much along the highway so they wouldn't have that distraction.
"So is this weird for you?"
Faith turned her head away from the road and looked at Buffy with a raised eyebrow. "What do you mean?"
"Normally you're alone in the car," she said, smiling. "Do you talk to yourself or do you drive in silence? Maybe you sing!"
"Very funny," Faith responded as Buffy laughed quietly. "I bought some CDs so I listen to those or the radio sometimes. Silence is good sometimes though. I've always had a lot to think about."
"Like the past?"
Faith nodded slowly. "I always think about what I could've done differently. In Sunnydale, in Boston, pretty much everywhere I've been. There's always some sort of fuckup I can think about."
"I wouldn't exactly word it that way," Buffy said quietly. "Some of what happened was your reactions to things others did. And I don't know about anything in Boston." There was a long pause but Buffy spoke up before Faith could say anything. "Maybe you could tell me."
The request seemed to hang in the air for a couple minutes before Faith could decide on a good response. "Uh . . . I don't know about that."
Buffy shifted in her seat and Faith partially hoped she would let the topic go. Only partially though. She was surprised that there was a part that wanted Buffy to push the issue. Maybe if she did she would stop holding back, something that was more exhausting than she had ever let on.
"Okay," Buffy said after a couple minutes, "how about telling me why you don't want to work with Angel?"
"It's creepy, B."
"He runs the law firm that hired me to kill him," Faith said simply. "That was part of the reason I didn't want them to get my sentence reduced or the conviction thrown out. The fact that it was a Wolfram and Hart lawyer, even though it was Gunn, made it feel wrong. It felt like if I participated I would be making a deal with the devil."
"Oh." Buffy looked out the window again for a minute before speaking. "I was a little uncomfortable with it, too, but then I saw that they were willing to help you and I guessed I overlooked it. I thought maybe Angel would get through to you about wanting to stay in prison."
"I didn't want to, B. I had to."
Faith could tell Buffy wanted to argue the point with her but she said nothing in response. She thought that was probably because the other slayer was trying to move past the disagreement. She knew she was trying.
When Buffy didn't say anything after a couple minutes, Faith decided she needed to keep the conversation going. The silence was getting slightly awkward and they hadn't even been on the road an hour. "I mean, what does a slayer do at a law firm?"
Buffy grinned. "What, you didn't want to be a lawyer?"
Faith laughed. "I don't think I'd like that too much. It seems really boring and I'd never have time to slay anything. Kinda defeats the purpose of being a slayer, right?"
"Oh, definitely." She took a drink from a bottle of water. "I think if you would have chosen to stay in LA I would have tried to get you to go to Cleveland instead."
"You mean more than having Andrew meet me at the prison gates?"
"I would've gone myself," Buffy said as she looked at her. "I know Andrew wouldn't be able to convince you to leave LA if that's what you chose but maybe I could make a better case. Then again, that wasn't an issue."
There was another silence but this one felt better than the last. When Faith took a quick glance at Buffy she could see the other woman had a smile on her face. A couple minutes after that Faith felt a hand on hers as she rested it on her thigh. She looked at Buffy as she felt it but the other slayer only smiled in response.
The fact that Buffy was trying to have contact with her even as she drove was still surprising to Faith. She couldn't deny the fact that she liked that Buffy cared about her but she never expected her to have anything more than friendly feelings.
One thing Faith knew she needed to think about was how she felt about the other slayer. When she had driven away from Cleveland some months ago she thought she would be on her own for some time and she was okay with that. She had gotten used to being with nothing but her thoughts while she was in prison and knew she had a lot to think about.
After two years of examining her own thoughts Faith had realized that she could spend a lifetime doing it and not be completely free of all the guilt she had. All the good deeds she planned to do wouldn't stop it either but she could live with herself if she traveled alone and did them. She had found it was easier than having to explain herself to whoever she was with why she got lost in thought or why she needed to keep moving.
It was easier to save someone and move on.
Buffy squeezed her hand lightly. "Do you know when I started having feelings for you?"
She laughed quietly. "When we were in Sunnydale, or when we were standing at the edge of the crater anyway, I saw you and there was something there that wasn't before. Then you said you thought you had to go back to prison and finish your sentence I was . . . disappointed."
"If I remember right, both you and Willow said it was foolish."
"I still think that, too, but that's not the point. Angel got your sentence reduced to two years and I thought I could wait 'cause in two years we could start over, maybe be friends."
"Just friends, huh?" Faith said, a little smirk appearing on her face.
"Yes, just friends." Buffy narrowed her eyes slightly. "Then Angel called and said there was a prison riot and I got worried. I wanted to visit but I wanted to respect your wishes so I visited covertly." She paused and when Faith glanced at her she could see she was looking away from her. "I saw you there and I felt something, more relief than I thought I would when I saw that you were okay."
"So why didn't you put your foot down when I said I wouldn't stay in Cleveland?"
"I'm pretty sure that wouldn't have ended well if I did and when I talked it over with Will we knew that staying had to be your choice. It wouldn't work any other way."
Faith nodded, knowing she was right. If she would have stayed in Cleveland because she thought she didn't have a choice, she wouldn't have done much good. Sure, she would probably have taken an order or two but eventually she would have left. If she left that way, she knew she would have cut all ties to the rest of them.
"Then we started talking and the feelings got stronger. That's why I kissed you."
It felt like Buffy had stopped talking so Faith could respond but she couldn't think of anything to say. While Buffy seemed to know what her feelings meant she didn't. Other than the fact she felt happy when she'd been kissed she hadn't had the chance to really examine what she felt and that was the process she had now. Normally she had time to think it through.
Not this time though.
"You know this is the part where you say something."
"This is kinda new to me, B. I'm not sure what to say."
Buffy furrowed her brow slightly. "Say what you think. It's not like either of us can go anywhere at the moment."
"I like the kissing." Faith laughed as Buffy took her hand away to slap at her shoulder lightly. "I do! I like talking to you every day. Sleeping next to you all night was a new experience . . . but I liked that, too."
"I liked it, too," Buffy said sweetly and she gave Faith's hand a little squeeze. She took a breath. "You know, the next time we stop we need to get more snacks. I'm getting a little hungry."
Faith laughed and shook her head as she continued to drive. She could tell already that day wasn't going to end badly.
"Oh, damn it!"
Faith kicked the nearest vampire and tried to regain her footing but it was a struggle. It always was when it was four against one.
It had been almost five weeks since Buffy had spent a day with her, getting transported back to Cleveland once they arrived in Salt Lake City. They continued to talk on a daily basis, sometimes more than once depending on their schedules.
After Buffy left, Faith had more time to think about her feelings for her. Once she got over the shock she still had that the other slayer had feelings for her, she had to admit to herself that she also had feelings for Buffy. The realization took a little time to really sink in but once it did all Faith could feel about it was happy. It felt good to have someone in her life, even if that person was on the other end of a phone call.
She'd been in three different cities since Buffy left. Faith had stayed in Salt Lake City for another nine days before moving to Denver and then finally to Springfield, Missouri. She had a feeling that something was very wrong the first night in the city and it had turned out her feeling was right.
Two vampires had fled New Orleans when the slayer there had gotten too close to their hideout and ended up in Springfield. They turned a few people and set up a new lair, stealing and selling drugs to make their money. It looked like a good thing to the city since, as Faith read when she looked into the city's problems, crime went down as the vamps took out all their competition but then it went back up. Only this time, the vampires were responsible.
Faith had been there two and a half weeks but even though she been in some sort of fight every night, none of them had been this hard. Then again, she hadn't gotten jumped until tonight. The the vamps in charge finally must have figured out just who was going after their workers.
"You've messed with the wrong vampire, slayer," one of them said as his fist connected with Faith's jaw.
"I don't think so," Faith grunted out as she tasted blood in her mouth. She saw an opening then and managed to stake one of the vamps.
Even though she was confident that she would eventually win the fight, Faith knew she was hurt as worse as she had been since being out on her own. She was sure she had a broken rib or two and she'd taken a couple hard hits to her right cheek so there was a strong possibility that part of her face would swell for a day or so. Then, of course, was the fact she'd taken a fall while diving out of the way from one of the vamps and twisted her ankle.
All that had to be ignored at the moment though. First, she had to stake the remaining three vamps and get back to the motel.
She staked one more a few minutes later but not without taking a couple more hits, one to her already broken ribs. The other two were a little easier than the others and Faith managed to stake them not too long after. The damage seemed to already be done though.
Faith padded herself down as she started the walk back to the car when she realized something was missing. She turned and walked back toward the scene of her fight, limping partially, looking at the ground as she did. There was one thing she couldn't afford to lose and it wasn't in her pocket any longer.
Then she saw it. Her cell phone was on the ground and in three pieces.
"Shit," she muttered as she picked up the pieces and examined them.
For a second she thought maybe she put it back together but the screen was cracked and parts of the plastic was broken clean off. She swore again and shoved the pieces in her pocket as she started the walk back to the car. From the pain she was feeling she knew she needed to try to treat her injuries as quickly as possible.
Even though the bed in the room wasn't the greatest, it was the best thing in Faith's mind at the moment.
By the time she had made it to her motel room, Faith's ankle was starting to swell and her whole left side felt like it was on fire. All she managed to do once she was inside and the door was locked, was to strip off her clothes and shower. After treating her wounds it was all she could do to put on shorts and a tank top before collapsing on the bed.
She slept for a couple hours and when she woke she thought about how she was going to contact Buffy or anyone in Cleveland. With her cell phone broken she had lost the one way she had of contacting anyone. She had never written down any of the numbers because they were programmed into her phone.
Faith wasn't sure what to do. She wasn't good with technology and didn't know what would happen when Buffy called Faith's number, something she would surely do during the day. If she didn't get an answer she might panic and Faith didn't want that. Sure, she was injured but she would be fine in a couple days.
There wasn't a way to tell Buffy that though. She knew she should have written down at least one of the numbers and kept it safe in case of an incident like the one she had the previous night. It would make sense to do something like that.
The problem was Faith never thought she would need to rely on the phone she was given in any way. When it was given to her in Cleveland she thought she would only use it for emergencies, like if she the car broke down or if she needed some extra hands. Even then she didn't think she would call anyone in Cleveland. She didn't even expect to call Buffy any more than maybe once or twice a month.
That wasn't the case now. She was more connected to the group in Cleveland, though most of that was through Buffy. It was to the point that she would be missed if she didn't call and Faith didn't want Buffy to worry. The way they talked now was more like how two people in a relationship would talk than friends. There were little jokes and more than once there was an admission about what they wanted to do if they were in the same place and alone together.
Faith looked at the broken phone as the pieces lay on the desk by the door and swore under her breath again. She didn't know how she would talk to Buffy now.
Faith slept off and on for a whole day and into the next as well. She only had a small amount of pain meds with her and they hadn't been working so all she was doing was attempting to sleep it off. The only activity she did was watching TV when she was awake, which wasn't much. It seemed her body needed the rest.
It was almost five in the morning when Faith realized she wasn't alone in her motel room. She tensed immediately and tried to move but the arms around her held her securely in place. She also noticed that the arms were purposely trying to avoid her injuries.
"Faith, it's me," Buffy whispered in her ear. "Just relax."
Faith tried to turn to look at her. "B? What are you doing here?"
"Taking care of you apparently." Buffy moved so Faith could see her. It looked like she had been crying not that long ago and it made Faith want to reassure her she was okay. "You need to take better care of your phone."
She tried to move but what she did caused her side to ache and she grimaced. Buffy saw the look and moved away so Faith could get situated without pain. Even though it was dark in the Faith knew something was different and then she noticed it: the other slayer had wrapped her ankle while she slept.
"I was worried you were hurt so I brought a fully stocked first aid kit just in case," Buffy said quietly. "I wanted to do something to treat your side but you would've woken up then and it looked like you needed the rest."
"Yeah, I guess I did," Faith said as she looked at Buffy. She looked concerned and she didn't like it. "I'm fine, B. Just common slayer injuries."
"Not all at once," Buffy said. "I called yesterday and you didn't answer. First it just didn't pick up and then it said the phone wasn't in service. I knew that was wrong 'cause the bill is definitely paid and then you didn't call so I started to get worried."
"B, I'm fine."
"I didn't know that and looking at you, you're not okay, Faith." She pulled up her shirt, showing her the bruised skin in the dim light of the room. "That is not normal. Why didn't you call?"
"I don't know your number, B. You set everything up on the phone so that you're just one press of a button away. I didn't think to write anything down and I don't know how to get a new phone."
Buffy looked down for a minute and Faith could tell the wheels were turning. She smiled as she looked over her ankle and was impressed that Buffy had been able to do it without waking her. Then again, her injuries were making her want to sleep all the time and even though they were healing, she knew Buffy was right in saying they weren't normal slaying injuries. She knew she'd taken a beating.
"Once you're able to walk on your ankle, we're going to get you a new phone." Buffy furrowed her brow as she looked over Faith's side again. "Don't know what we can do about that. Ribs are broken, aren't they?"
"One or two," Faith answered. "Didn't really do anything for them because once I cleaned up all I wanted to do was get comfortable and sleep."
They only looked at each other for a minute before they mutually closed the distance between them and kissed lightly. Faith had to stop herself from smiling during the kiss since she realized she'd been wanting to kiss Buffy since she realized she was there.
When they broke away, Buffy helped Faith get better situated on the bed before getting up and turning on a lamp, shining more light on the injuries. "Faith, your face . . . I didn't realize you had a black eye, too. What the hell happened?"
Faith put her head back on a pillow and closed her eyes. "Got some vamps that are selling drugs and doing your normal evil things. I've been staking their workers so they sent four of their best after me. Staked 'em all but not before they got some shots in."
Buffy grabbed a couple pills from the first aid kit she brought with her and gave them to Faith along with a bottle of water. "Here, take these. They're slayer strength, much better than what you have here. They'll help you sleep and heal faster."
The last thing she wanted was to take any pills but Buffy seemed very insistent so she took them, drinking the entire bottle of water with them. Now that she was awake she also realized that she was a little hungry. All she had eaten since she was injured was the snacks that she kept in the room.
"There any food in there, B?"
She laughed and handed her a couple granola bars. "Eat these for now and after the pills wear off we can order a pizza or two."
"Sounds like a plan," Faith said as she ate and tried to settle back on the bed so she would be able to sleep. She smiled as Buffy helped her, making it so Faith was resting against her.
They rested on the bed in silence for a couple minutes. Faith closed her eyes and felt her body begin to relax, the pills already starting to work. She knew she needed to talk to Buffy about what was going on in the city since she wasn't about to leave without staking the vamps responsible for her getting jumped but she knew she needed to heal.
"You know Christmas is coming in a couple weeks . . ." she trailed off and Faith thought that might be the end of it but then she continued. "After you're done here, Cleveland isn't that far away and I'd love for you to visit."
Faith raised an eyebrow at the offer but didn't say anything right away. Since she talked to Buffy everyday she knew about the big gathering they had for Thanksgiving and knew it would probably be the same for Christmas and New Year's right after. She wasn't sure if she wanted all that.
"Before you say anything, you don't have to buy the gang presents or anything. All you have to do is show up and hang out with us." Buffy tightened her hold on her slightly. "I don't want you to think you have to or anything."
"So you throw a big party and all that?"
Buffy nodded. "But I just want you there."
"I don't know, Buffy," Faith said quietly as she closed her eyes. "I won't know half the people there and I bet I have a reputation. I noticed some looks when I was there before." Faith almost swore under her breath since she hadn't wanted to say the last part out loud. She blamed the pills for making her relaxed.
"It won't be like that." Buffy pressed her lips against the top of Faith's head. "Everyone knows you're off saving people on your own."
Faith wasn't so sure about that but could feel that Buffy wanted to think that was the case. She knew it would be nice to be surrounded by nice things and in a room that was considered her own for a few days. It was the unknown that she was slightly afraid of.
"Just say you'll think about it."
"Yeah, sure," was all Faith managed to get out before she fell asleep.
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