The driving was still not getting to her and Faith appreciated that.
She liked that she was still able to get into the Explorer and drive without feeling the dread of being in the driver's seat all day. There wasn't any longing to simply stay in one place and she never felt regret at leaving one place in favor for another. The attachment to familiar surroundings hadn't appeared at any of the places yet and that was okay with Faith.
After a few more weeks of traveling around Georgia and even northern Florida for a couple days she started the drive north. She figured that the temperature had to be a little warmer by now and she wanted a little change in scenery. As much she at times liked the area, most of the time she had the feeling she was simply killing time.
That wasn't the feeling she wanted when she was slaying so by April she knew it was time to move on. She debated where to go for awhile, knowing that she was close to the ocean again and the thought of relaxing on the beach all day was tempting. She knew she could even drive further south and slay with Kate for awhile.
The young slayer didn't annoy her as much as most of them did and she knew that was because Kate reminded her of herself. It seemed she left a similar impression on the other slayer, too. When Kate left the morning after the fight they exchanged numbers and she offered her a place to stay if she ever decided to check out Miami.
In the end though she decided that maybe it was time to make a little stop in Cleveland. She hadn't been there since Buffy's birthday and she didn't think she could even call that time a visit. All they did was have a lot of sex and then she had to leave. As great as that was, it wasn't a visit.
Faith also noticed one thing when she was packing up her things in the motel in Augusta: she was accumulating clothes, weapons and supplies. She always purchased new clothes if there was a weather change she wasn't prepared for and though she ruined her share of shirts, jeans and boots, she ended up with a diverse and increasingly larger wardrobe.
It seemed it was time to take advantage of the fact that she had her own room in Cleveland. She didn't think anyone would object to her actually making use of it, even if it was for storage more than anything else. It would probably even give Buffy hope that she would visit more often.
The pair hadn't seen each other since Buffy's birthday and Faith knew her girlfriend was getting frustrated with that fact. Whenever they talked Faith always had her hands full with one situation or another and Buffy had the hellmouth to deal with along with training new slayers. There didn't seem to be any time for one of them to transport to the other for a day or more.
Faith would be lying to herself if she said she didn't miss Buffy. She loved talking to her on the phone and enjoyed the fact that she could make her laugh even after a crappy day. There just wasn't a substitute for actually seeing her though and she had thought she would have seen her at least once since then.
She pulled into a familiar spot on the grounds of the school and pulled out her normal bag along with another. Once she left she knew she would only bring one with her. She had enough emotional baggage that she didn't need to lug around any additional actual bags.
It only took one knock for the open to open and Faith saw Xander's shocked face on the other side. "Faith!"
"Hey," Faith said, a smile on her face. "Thought I'd stop by."
He stepped aside so she could walk in and shut the door behind her. "Does Buffy know? She never mentioned it."
Faith shook her head. She had decided not to tell Buffy she was thinking about going to Cleveland in case she decided at the last minute not to. She didn't want to disappoint her. "Wasn't sure I was going to stop here."
"Let me help with your bags." Xander groaned as he took one from her. "If I remember right you had less stuff last time."
"Yeah, I think I'll leave some things here this time," Faith said as they started to walk up the stairs. "It's getting kind of packed in the truck."
Xander let a small smile show. "I bet Buffy will like that."
Faith didn't respond to the comment and they walked the rest of the way in silence. She didn't know how to tell him that she didn't want Buffy to read into it. She didn't want her to expect her to be around more and then be disappointed if that didn't happen.
They dropped the bags off in her room and then Xander gave her directions to the room where Buffy was teaching a training class. Faith had been around the huge facility some when she was there over Christmas but they were on a break so no classes were being taught. That meant she hadn't ventured much into the training and class rooms.
She could hear Buffy giving instructions as she neared the door and Faith was suddenly nervous. She knew her girlfriend would definitely be okay with her being in Cleveland but she wondered if she would be annoyed that she hadn't told her she was coming. Even though they talked almost daily, she wasn't sure what to expect from Buffy. Everything was still too new.
The door to the room was open and Buffy's back was to her as Faith looked inside and then leaned against the doorframe. She was too occupied with showing the ten girls in the room the best way to sweep someone's legs out from under them. It gave Faith the opportunity to watch her work.
Even though she was stern with the girls and Faith could definitely see why her nickname among the younger slayers was The General, she could tell Buffy was an excellent teacher. It was easy to see she cared about each and every one of the teenagers in the room.
After a few minutes a couple of the girls started to look past Buffy and toward Faith. Faith only crossed her arms and stared them down as a response, causing them to pay attention to what was going on in class again. She wondered if that had anything to do with her old reputation or if they were only making sure they didn't get in trouble with Buffy.
"Okay, pair up and practice," Buffy said but kept her back toward the door.
"Ms. Summers?" one of the girls asked before she started to spar with her partner.
She only pointed toward the door and when Buffy finally turned to see Faith standing there her mouth dropped open. Faith grinned and wiggled her eyebrows a little as Buffy walked up to her and threw her arms around her.
"You're not a very real hallucination, right?"
Faith laughed quietly. "No, B. I'm here."
Buffy loosened her hold enough to give her a soft kiss before hugging her again. "You didn't tell me you were coming."
"I wasn't sure I would and then I wanted it to be a surprise."
"Definitely a surprise," Buffy said. "Definitely a good one." She turned back to the girls, all of whom had stopped practicing to stare at the couple. "Keep working. I'll be right outside."
She took Faith's hand and led her outside the room, the teenagers doing what they were told and starting to work on the move they were shown. As soon as they were out of sight, Buffy put her arms around her again and kissed her again. There was more passion in it this time and Faith easily wrapped her arms around her in response.
Once they separated, Faith rested her forehead against Buffy's and smiled. "That's a great way to say hello."
Buffy lightly hit Faith on the arm, moving out of her embrace. "You should have told me you were coming."
"Hey, don't be mad," Faith said. "I know you wanted me to visit."
"Of course, I do," Buffy said and moved into Faith's arms again. "I always want you here."
Faith closed her eyes and just held her girlfriend for a minute. "How are things here? Still an increase in vamps?"
Buffy had been telling her when they talked that there had been an increase in vamps and they'd heard rumors that there were plans to attack the school and headquarters. Faith had asked a couple weeks ago if she was needed there but Buffy had said it wouldn't be that big of an issue. That had been the last time they talked about it and when she had talked to Xander later to get any additional details he had backed up the story.
"We're taking care of it," Buffy said as she stepped away again. "The vamps aren't as organized as they think they are."
"I guess it's good most vamps are stupid."
"Yeah." Buffy reached out and caressed Faith's cheek. "I wanna spend the rest of the day with you but I promised a couple girls I would help them with some training and then I have patrol tonight."
"I can patrol with you," Faith offered.
"No, you don't have to," Buffy said as she turned away and looked into the room to make sure the girls were doing what they were told. "You've been driving all day, haven't you?"
"Since early this morning."
"Then relax tonight," Buffy offered. "Hang out with Xander and Willow, maybe get some sleep, and when I get back from patrolling we'll get reacquainted."
Faith grinned. "I can't wait."
Waking up with clothes on and not being alone in bed was strange for Faith, especially when the person next to her was Buffy.
The rest of the day Faith didn't see much of her girlfriend. She had taught until dinner and after that she got ready for patrol and left with three other girls. They were only able to talk for a few minutes alone and then Buffy was gone.
Faith did as Buffy suggested and hung out with Xander and Willow for a while. They caught her up on all the activity in that happened while she was gone. It was from them that she knew one of the reasons Buffy hadn't visited her was that she had been injured the first time the vamps tried to attack the complex and didn't want Faith to know. She was also told that there was still some concern that there still might be an attack but Willow assured her the magic protecting the grounds was strong.
After talking and playing some video games with Xander and some of the girls Faith decided to go up to her room and relax on her own. The day of driving combined with all the new information she learned had made her a little exhausted.
Once she got up to where the rooms were she had a decision to make and she wasn't sure what to do. It was obvious that Buffy wanted to be with her once she got back from patrol but she didn't know if that meant she should wait up for her in her room. Buffy hadn't been very specific as far as sleeping arrangements and in the end Faith decided to play it safe and stay in her own room.
She watched TV for a couple hours but could feel herself getting more and more tired by the minute so she changed into a tank top and shorts before shutting off the light and going to sleep. Faith knew Buffy would probably be disappointed but she figured they could talk in the morning and plan the day out. It seemed it was important for both of them to spend some time together now that they had the opportunity to do so.
What surprised Faith was that she was woken up a couple hours later by the sound of someone opening and closing the door to her room. She was about to get out of bed to see who dared to try and sneak up on her while she was sleeping but then Buffy crawled into her bed and made sure Faith had her arms wrapped around her before falling asleep.
All Faith could do was smile at the action before falling back asleep. It was strange to sleep in the same bed with Buffy with clothes on since every night they were together since that first time before Christmas they had ended the night by having amazing sex. Still, the fact that Buffy was in her arms felt incredible.
Now she was awake again and realized she couldn't move from her current position even if she wanted to. She was spooning Buffy but her girlfriend had a grip on the arm that was draped over her stomach and there was no way she was getting out of it.
Faith kissed her shoulder lightly and then moved up and kissed her neck a couple times, hoping to wake her up enough that she could move her arm. She had no problem with their current position but she would at least like to have the option of moving.
"Stop trying to get me to wake up," Buffy mumbled as she kept hold of her arm. "I know it's not time to wake up. I set your alarm."
"I didn't even realize I had an alarm," Faith whispered into Buffy's ear.
Buffy turned in her arms. "I guess you never needed one when you were here before."
Faith leaned in and gave her a light kiss. She wasn't sure how she got to be so comfortable with Buffy, especially given she wasn't used to the hand-holding, cuddling parts of their relationship, but she had to admit to herself she liked it. Even without the nakedness and the sex, she liked it.
"I wasn't sure if you would want me to wait up for you in your room," Faith said quietly as she looked at Buffy. "Not real sure what the protocol is."
"Well," Buffy started as she put an arm around Faith, moving her even closer, "I got back from a long patrol to find my bed empty and I wasn't about to spend the night alone when my girlfriend is actually in town. Even if you were already asleep I wanted to be next to you."
"Yeah, guess the drive gets to me when I don't have the adrenaline of the slay to keep me going," Faith explained. "Definitely knew when you joined me though."
They simply looked into each other's eyes for a minute and Faith could see how happy Buffy was that she was there. She could only smile when she saw it but she knew that would make it harder when she left. As much as she liked that she had someone in her life that cared about her and was there for her whenever she needed her, Faith knew that would only complicate things when she knew she couldn't stay permanently.
The drive to keep moving was still there.
Buffy brought a hand up to Faith's cheek and caressed it as she continued to look at her. "I love you, Faith."
Faith could only look at her for a few seconds, not knowing what to say next. "I . . ."
It seemed Buffy was expecting her reaction because she kissed her softly to stop her from saying anything, maybe thinking Faith would say something she would regret later. "Faith, I didn't say that to get a reaction out of you or to make you think you need to say it back or even to get you to stay. I know that you will eventually leave to go to whatever city you think you need to go to and while I want you here, I'm not going to guilt you into wanting that, too. When you stay, I want it to be because you want to. I just wanted you to know what I've been feeling for awhile now." She paused. "I love you."
There was a silence between them while Faith could only look into Buffy's eyes. She knew it wasn't a line. She knew Buffy loved her just like she knew deep down she loved her, too. It was only that it made what they had more complicated than it was but Faith thought maybe complicated was okay at the moment.
Nothing had ever been easy for them and it got them to where they were now.
"I love you, too, Buffy," Faith said quietly as she continued to look into her eyes.
They kissed softly after that, Faith putting her arm around Buffy so they could remain as close as possible. She didn't think hearing those words from anyone would make her as happy as she was at the moment but then she never thought she would ever hear those words from someone who meant it. She knew Buffy did.
When they broke apart Faith realized there were tears in Buffy's eyes and she used her thumb to gently wipe them away before giving her another light kiss. Then she moved so she was more on her back and Buffy was resting against her.
"So what now?"
Buffy gently caressed Faith's stomach, sneaking her hand underneath her shirt. "What do you mean?"
"New territory for me, B."
Buffy looked up at her and smiled, looking at the clock for a moment before her eyes moved back to Faith. "Well, that alarm is going to go off in 18 minutes so there's not much time to do anything too fun." She kissed Faith's collarbone. "But I have an idea."
Faith smiled. "What's that?"
"I'm gonna teach my classes," Buffy started. "You can relax or maybe you can help, whatever you want. Then we're not going on patrol."
"And what will we do?" Faith asked, moving her hands over Buffy slowly.
"We're going on an actual date," she answered then chuckled at the noticeably disappointed look on Faith's face. "Hey, this was going to happen eventually. We're gonna go to a nice restaurant like normal couples then we can come back here and do something we haven't done yet."
"The way I see it is this: we've had sex," Buffy said, a smile on her face while Faith thought of their first night together. "And we've fucked." Faith's own smile grew at the comment, thinking of the time she had Buffy against the bathroom door. "But we've never made love yet."
She looked at Faith as she said it as though she wanted to gage her reaction. Faith really didn't know what to think of what she said other than that she was right. She never had made love before and the idea of it made her nervous. Even though she'd seen Buffy naked, touched and kissed her everywhere, she had a feeling when it came to something like what Buffy was proposing she would disappoint in some way.
"I bet you've probably never done that before," Buffy continued as she looked into Faith's eyes, "and you have no idea what it means to me that the first time you experience it you'll be with me."
Faith wasn't sure what to say but there was something about the way Buffy was looking at her that told it didn't matter what she said. It made her feel safe, that even with all the new feelings that were being said and expressed everything would be okay.
"You're right, B. I've never . . ."
Buffy leaned in and kissed her again. "Doesn't matter. We're going to have a lot of fun tonight."
Faith could only smile and nod at that.
Helping Buffy with her classes wasn't so bad, even if it was a little boring. Faith did a lot of watching and helped when Buffy needed her to do something but by the afternoon Buffy was doing other school and Council activities so she was left to entertain herself for awhile.
She ended up doing something she never seemed to have time to do anymore: read. The hobby she picked up in prison had been pushed aside in favor of patrolling and then sleeping off said patrol. Faith read when she could but it wasn't much so as soon as she got bored with what Buffy was doing she ventured up to her room with a book that had nothing to do with anything supernatural.
Faith lived with enough of the supernatural and had no desire to read about it when she didn't have to.
Once Buffy was done for the day she told Faith to get dressed in something that she wouldn't normally patrol in and when Faith argued that she never bought anything she wouldn't patrol in, she was told to look in her closet. Sure enough, there were clothes in there that Buffy must have purchased when she had originally thought Faith would stay with them after prison.
After a little internal debate, Faith settled on black pants and a dark purple top that went well with the leather jacket Buffy had gotten her for Christmas. She took a little extra time on her hair and makeup, too, wanting to look good since Buffy had hyped up the evening. There was still a part of her that thought she would disappoint her girlfriend in some way since it felt like she was out of her element.
Buffy looked amazing for their date. She wore a black dress that seemed to hover between conservative and slutty. It was short but not too much and had just the right amount of cleavage showing. Faith wanted to skip the whole restaurant idea and go straight to the end but Buffy only took her hand and led her out of the building.
The restaurant was nice enough even if Faith felt a little uncomfortable there. Buffy had the hostess seat them in a quiet corner and then left them alone.
"This is nice, right?"
Faith looked around. "Yeah."
Buffy smiled as she sipped on her glass of water. "You're really cute when you're nervous."
"Cute?" Faith raised an eyebrow. "I don't think anyone's called me cute before."
"You are," Buffy said. "I think any time you're in Cleveland or if I'm visiting you we should go out. It shouldn't all be about patrolling and all our . . . other activity."
"But the other activity is pretty fun," Faith responded as she wiggled her eyebrows playfully. "You're gonna have to help me out here, B. I don't date."
Buffy laughed. "Okay. This is the part where you tell me about yourself."
"Not much to tell, B." Faith shrugged. "Did some time and now I'm traveling fighting the good fight."
"That's not what I mean and you know it."
Faith did but something about telling Buffy about her past made her uncomfortable. Maybe it was the setting but she didn't want to get into her less than stellar childhood with her over dinner. Talking about her worthless mother and how she did things she wasn't proud of would certainly make her lose her appetite.
Buffy seemed to notice her apprehension and reached across the table, taking Faith's hand in her own. "Nothing deep or anything, baby. None of that right now."
The comment made Faith smile. It seemed her girlfriend already knew exactly what she was thinking and knew what to say.
Making love was incredible.
Faith held on to Buffy as they came down from intense orgasms, not wanting to lose contact with her skin. Their bodies were covered in a thin layer of sweat, the result of the extreme amount of activity they'd just participated in. She could feel all of Buffy as she slid against her skin and she knew if she wasn't as tired as she was she would be getting worked up again.
They only lay there for a few minutes before Buffy kissed her shoulder and rolled them so she was on her back and Faith was resting against her. Faith rested her head on her chest and closed her eyes, focusing on her girlfriend's breathing. She let out a contented sigh and lightly kissed her skin as she felt Buffy's hands move over her back.
The night had been more than Faith could have imagined. When they were done at the restaurant they drove back to the headquarters and ventured into Buffy's room. Once they got inside they started slow, Buffy setting the pace.
Over the next few hours they practically worshiped each other's bodies, kissing and touching everywhere. Faith had never experienced anything like it and had never let someone have the control Buffy had over her the entire time, not even during any of the other times they had sex. Everything led up to the most powerful orgasm Faith ever had.
The best part was that Buffy kept whispering to her while they made love, telling her how beautiful she was and that she loved her. No one had done that before and Faith could only respond that she loved her, too.
If there was any doubt in her mind it was gone now. She really did love her.
"That was intense," Buffy said as she ran a hand through Faith's hair.
"Yeah," was all Faith said as she kept her eyes closed.
"Hey," Buffy said as she tried to pull Faith up so she was level with her, "look at me." Faith did and saw Buffy's smile. "I love you."
Faith moved up and gave Buffy a soft kiss. "I love you, too." She let out another sigh. "You were right. I've never done that before."
Buffy kissed her back. "I want to do that as much as possible and everything else. You deserve to have someone love you, you know that, right?"
That wasn't a comment Faith was expecting and she shifted her position to look at Buffy better. "Yeah, I do now. I guess that wasn't always the case."
"Can you talk to me about it?"
Faith thought about for a few moments, knowing it was okay to open up to Buffy now. She trusted her. "My ma didn't really care, you know? She used and had a disgusting dealer boyfriend and wanted nothing to do with her own kid. I got sent to foster care and then was on my own for awhile. No one ever wanted me or gave a shit. For a long time I felt like a burden."
Buffy ran her hand up her body until she rested it on her cheek. "You're not a burden."
"My first watcher didn't act like I was but then she died and I felt like a failure. I failed to save her."
"And then you showed up in Sunnydale and everything else happened," Buffy said with a hint of sadness in her voice. "I like to think we're both older and wiser now. Hotter, too."
Faith laughed, liking that Buffy to put a smile on her face even when she was thinking about something as depressing as her childhood. "Deep down, I know I need to go back there. I need to deal with . . . everything."
"Just working your way up to it, huh?"
Faith nodded and leaned in, kissing Buffy in an attempt to show her just how much she appreciated that she made talking about her past easier than she thought possible. Buffy kissed her back, her hands continuing to move over her body. It was starting to get Faith worked up again so she broke away.
"Maybe you could go with me for awhile."
Buffy smiled. "It's a possibility but first I think I need to take full advantage of you being here."
They kissed again and Faith moved so she was more on top on Buffy, definitely liking what her girlfriend was thinking.
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