There was a part of Faith that wished the car would have needed a more extensive repair. It wasn't that she wanted to stay at the bed and breakfast where the owner asked way too many personal questions. After the first night all she wished for was that a hotel would suddenly appear so they could stay somewhere else.
She simply wanted to delay the inevitable.
The drive to Boston was almost torturous for Faith. Even though Buffy was there and tried her best to distract her it only partially worked. She could only do so much while they drove but Faith appreciated the effort. It made her fall even harder for the other woman.
"You should let me drive the rest of the way."
Faith looked at her with a raised eyebrow before shaking her head. "I don't think so, B."
Buffy smiled as she reached out and placed a hand on Faith's thigh. "I'm not as bad a driver as everyone says and then you could relax while I get us there." She paused for a moment before continuing. "I know where to go. Will gave me directions to the hotel."
"I heard," Faith responded as she kept her eyes on the road. "I can get us there without directions and we're only about a half hour away. It's not a big deal."
"If you say so."
They were silent for a few minutes and Faith could tell she needed to make a better effort with Buffy. The only problem was she was so nervous about returning to her hometown that she couldn't control her emotions the way she wanted to. She didn't want to take that out on her girlfriend though. It wasn't fair to her.
"What are you sorry for?"
"I don't mean . . ." Faith couldn't think of how to finish the thought. When she looked over at Buffy she was she was waiting patiently for her to finish what she was trying to say. "I wish I could show you around without looking over my shoulder or worrying about returning to the person I don't want to be anymore."
Buffy sighed and Faith kept her eyes on the road, not wanting to see whatever look was on her face. "I wish you wouldn't think so low of yourself, Faith. Do you really think you're not strong enough to face whatever or whoever hurt you when you've already overcome so much?"
Faith knew she was right but she didn't want to admit it. It was hard to get over being neglected by both parents, one especially so, and then being put in some risky situations she probably shouldn't have had to deal with at such a young age. As much as she loved that Buffy was trying to help she didn't experience anything like that.
"Surviving isn't the same as overcoming."
"Yeah, it's makes you tougher."
As much as she wanted to argue the point with her, Faith decided against it and concentrated on driving instead. The last thing she wanted was to have any sort of tension between her and Buffy, especially when she needed the support Buffy was willing to give her.
Soon Faith began to recognize places along the road and she knew she was close. Even though she grew up in the poorer areas of Boston once she had become a slayer her watcher had taken her to many places outside of Boston as well the wealthier areas. Seeing a couple of buildings even gave her a chill, knowing that the person who she was with at the time was dead.
The hotel Willow had selected for them to stay at was better than any of the places they had stayed at yet and Faith wondered if it was Buffy who suggested the place or if it was Willow's doing. She knew that Buffy had been choosing to talk to her when she was out of earshot and that was probably because they were talking about Faith's apprehension. If she didn't trust Buffy she could swear they were conspiring in order to get Faith back to Cleveland.
"Nice place," Faith commented as she pulled the Explorer up to the entrance.
"I thought we could use a nice change of pace and Willow agreed," Buffy said as she smiled at Faith. "Wait to you see everything."
Faith had to admit it was a nice room and the word room didn't do it justice. The word suite might not even do it justice.
When Faith walked in behind Buffy with her bags she was reminded of the hotel she first met Buffy at in Houston. There was a front room with a couch, coffee table and TV which led to the bedroom where there was another TV along with a king size bed and a hot tub. She walked past all that and looked into the bathroom, smirking as she saw a separate shower and bathtub.
So many places for her and Buffy to have a whole lot of fun.
She felt arms wrap around her waist and she smiled. "This place is pretty wicked, B. If I didn't know any better I'd say you have an ulterior motive with getting this place."
"Mmm," Buffy mumbled as she placed a light kiss on Faith's shoulder, "that is a possibility."
Faith turned in her arms and they shared a light kiss. It was still a strange sensation for Faith, feeling safe in someone's arms but she loved that she felt that way with Buffy. It felt good to be able to trust someone after all the years of having to keep her guard up.
"It's only early afternoon. Want to fool around a little before we do anything else?" Faith wiggled her eyebrows suggestively.
Buffy laughed as she moved away from Faith. "As tempting as that sounds, maybe you can show me around a little. You know, see a little of the sights."
Faith tensed even though she tried not to. "What do you mean by that?"
"Faith," Buffy started and it looked as though she was trying not to sigh, "avoiding things isn't going to help anything. I want to see everything, the touristy places and all of yours."
Buffy nodded. "If you want us to work then I want to know all about you. Good times and bad, okay? Nothing is going to scare me away."
Buffy's look was so sure but Faith couldn't help but feel like that could change. Her mind kept going back to Sunnydale when all Buffy seemed to do was judge her and because of that Faith kept her guard up. She knew that if they would have been open with each other in the beginning, if she had been able to open up about what brought her to Sunnydale and Buffy was willing to listen, there was a chance it could have been different. They could have been different.
"I hope that's true."
"It is," Buffy assured. "Let's go."
Faith thought that they would go to the tourist areas first but after Buffy told her it was better to rip the band aid then do little by little every day she decided against it.
They parked the Explorer a few blocks away from their destination and started walking, Faith taking the lead. Not much had changed since she'd last been in the area and she realized that it was mostly because it had only been a few years since she'd been there last. It felt like a lifetime, however, and Faith was having a little trouble dealing with it.
"So why did we park so far away?"
Faith turned her head to look at Buffy as they walked. She had wondered if her girlfriend would ask that question. "I didn't live in the greatest of neighborhoods, B. We didn't have any money and moved around a lot. The only thing all the places had in common was that they were all in areas kind of like this."
From the look on Buffy's face Faith knew that she noticed that the more they walked the worse the conditions were in the area. The houses and buildings became more rundown and in desperate need of repair and the people looking at them as they walked had a natural look of distrust in her eyes. She tried to see if she recognized anyone but so far everyone was unfamiliar.
"When did you live here, Faith?"
She thought about it for a minute as they continued to walk. "I think we first moved here when I was five or six. I know I had started school by then."
"I bet you were a cute little kid."
Faith raised her eyebrow at Buffy. "You think I was a cute little kid?" She thought about it for a minute. "I guess I'm not sure. I don't think there are any pictures."
Buffy looked at her curiously. "Nothing?"
"I didn't have a mother who liked to make happy memories of her daughter," Faith answered. "I didn't have your mom, B. I had a woman who didn't want a kid. She didn't care if I took a bath or went to school with lunch money or had clean clothes. She didn't care if I was with her or not."
Buffy didn't respond to what she said and Faith was grateful for the silence. She didn't want to hear her girlfriend argue that maybe her mother didn't know how to raise a child and maybe she would have eventually changed. There had been others, her prison shrink in particular, that had offered that explanation and she didn't believe it for a second. In her opinion, there were just some people who shouldn't be parents and her mother was one of them.
She stopped at the end of a block and looked across the street to a small apartment building. It looked like it was several years past the point of needing repair, even more than when she had lived there many years ago.
Buffy looked where Faith was looking and tilted her head slightly. "You lived in that building?"
Faith nodded. "For just under two years. I was pretty young but I don't think my mom paid rent for the last six months we were here. Landlord was kind of a sleaze and sometimes I don't want to think about how we got to stay as long as we did but soon ma had our stuff in trash bags and we were on to our next shithole apartment."
They stared at the building for a few seconds before Buffy took Faith's hand and they crossed the street stopping when they stood next to the building. Faith placed her hand against the brick wall, thinking about the times when she spent the night in the hallway outside the front door because her mom either forgot about her or she was "entertaining". Or if she was high and didn't want her daughter around.
"What are you remembering?"
Faith looked at her, furrowing her brow. "Just when my ma used to leave me out in the hall for the night 'cause she didn't want me around."
Buffy put her head on Faith's shoulder. "Your mom didn't deserve you, Faith."
Hearing the voice made Faith immediately tense and she turned to see an older man walking toward them. He'd aged terribly since Faith had seen him last and clothes were dirty and in need of a good washing. The other thing she noticed was that he was leering at both her and Buffy which made her want to crawl out of her skin.
"What do you want?" Buffy asked after Faith didn't respond to him.
His eyes moved over Buffy quickly before turning his attention to Faith. "You are Faith Lehane, right?"
Faith nodded slowly. "Yeah."
The man's grin when she confirmed it was as creepy as it was when she last saw it. "It was just yesterday I was thinking about your whore of a mother. Have you come back to take over where she left off? You look like you'd be better than she ever was."
Buffy's hand gripped Faith's arm, almost as if she knew that Faith needed her strength. "Who the hell is this, Faith?" she asked quietly.
"That's the landlord, B," Faith muttered quietly so only Buffy could hear. "Guess he just confirmed how we were able to stay in the apartment for as long as we did."
"Look, we're just looking around," Buffy said as calmly as she probably could. Faith knew she could sense how uncomfortable she was.
"Thinking about all those good times," he said and laughed as he placed a hand near his crotch. He moved closer so he was only a foot away from them. "I don't know where you're working Faithy but looking at you and your hopefully bendy friend here I'd pay double than what I paid your ma to get you in a more . . . appropriate position."
Faith felt a rage rise in her that she never felt before, not even when she was slaying a whole group of vampires. She moved to hit him, to hurt him physically in the same way he was trying to hurt her emotionally, but Buffy beat her to it. In an instant she kneed him in the crotch then punched him in the face hard enough that he cried out loudly as he fell.
Buffy leaned down and pulled his head up off the ground by his hair, ignoring the whimper that escaped his lips. "Listen very carefully," she said quietly into his ear. "I don't know what happened when Faith was a kid but if you ever talk like that again you will hurt much worse than you do right now. Do you understand?"
He nodded hesitantly. "Yeah."
She dropped his head and walked back to where Faith stood. "Okay?"
Faith nodded as she continued to look at someone who had been part of her childhood. What Buffy had done showed her that the disgusting man on the ground was definitely not a threat to her. Even though there were plenty of others that had threatened or hurt her in some way it was as though a small weight had been lifted off her shoulders.
They started to walk away when they heard the man mutter "bitch" as he started to get up. Faith shook her head and went back to him, kicking him in the stomach. "Don't ever call my girlfriend a bitch."
She didn't even wait for a response as Buffy put an arm around her waist and led her away from the building.
The rest of the day wasn't as eventful and Faith was grateful for that.
They walked through other areas of the city and Faith pointed out different things, like where she hung out once she got a little older and needed to be out of the apartment for awhile. She also showed her girlfriend where she went to elementary school, pointing out different sights as they walked through the area.
What she was a little shocked about, even though she knew she shouldn't be, was how nothing much had changed with each place she showed Buffy. There were a couple neighborhoods that looked as though they were trying to make the area a nicer, safer place but they were few and far between. For the most part, everything was simply poor and rundown.
Buffy was quieter than normal as Faith showed her everything, asking a question here and there but otherwise staying silent. Faith wondered why that was but she didn't say anything. If anything, it was probably due to the encounter they had with the landlord.
Faith had never seen the look in Buffy's eyes before as when she quickly struck the man. Actually, that wasn't completely true: she had seen the look when they were patrolling. She had simply never seen Buffy look at a human the way she had. That could have been a reason for her being quiet the rest of the day but Faith didn't know how to ask.
It was early evening when they returned to the hotel and all Faith wanted to do was relax. She sat down on the bed and watched as Buffy took the room service menu and looked it over.
"Should we just order in tonight?" she asked, not looking at Faith.
She watched Buffy carefully and noticed that she was looking everywhere but at her. That didn't make her feel any better about the day and Faith had thought that the whole point of showing Buffy where she grew up and describing what happened was so she could move past everything. Her girlfriend reacting the way she did was certainly not helpful.
"B, what's wrong?"
Faith didn't believe that for a second and she stood up, taking a couple steps toward her. "I don't believe that."
Buffy looked from the menu to her and Faith could see there were tears threatening to fall. "There were a lot of people like that landlord in your life, wasn't there?"
"Yeah, B," Faith admitted quietly. "Like I said before, I didn't have a good childhood. Up until I got called it really sucked."
Nothing was said for a minute then Buffy closed the distance between them and wrapped her arms tightly around Faith. All Faith could respond with was to mirror the action, placing her hands on her back. She felt as though she needed to comfort Buffy as her girlfriend was finally facing the realization that they grew up under very different circumstances.
"When he said that I felt a rage I've never felt before," Buffy said quietly as she rested her head on Faith's shoulder. "I have never wanted to hurt a human the way I wanted to hurt him. I wanted to kill him."
"I did, too," Faith said. "You kinda beat me to it."
Buffy placed a soft kiss on her neck before moving away just enough to look at her. She pressed a hand against her cheek before lightly kissing her. "I know you want to be strong and face everything on your own but the urge to protect you was so great today."
"How so?" Faith asked, more curious than anything else at why Buffy suddenly got the urge she was describing.
"We were walking through all these areas and every time you pointed out a place you lived or where you hung out or went to school I could see it. I imagined a smaller, younger version of you having to grow up with all of these horrible people. I just . . . I wanted to protect the younger version."
Faith smiled. Even though part of her wanted to confront everything on her own, to be the person that was strong enough to stand up to all her own demons, she liked that Buffy was there. She liked that Buffy cared enough to see all of the places Faith grew up. No one had ever cared that much to take an interest before.
She moved so they sat down on the edge of the bed. "I'd be lying if I said the younger version of me didn't need protecting. I was tough but only because I had to be."
"I don't like it."
"It happened, B," Faith said. "If it makes you feel any better though, I really like that you want to protect me." She placed a soft kiss on the side of her head as she pulled Buffy close to her. "It's kind of hot."
Buffy laughed. "I'm happy you think so."
"So . . ." Faith started out, wanting to change the subject, "what's for dinner?"
Once they ate, Faith decided they needed to put the room to good use and they fired up the hot tub. She watched as Buffy slowed removed her clothes and step in, causing her to do the same.
Faith didn't know if she should keep her distance or not. The day had been exhausting for both of them and when they sat down to eat they didn't sit next to each other. They ate in a comfortable silence though, not awkward or anything. She just didn't know what Buffy wanted after the day they had.
Buffy seemed to make the decision for both of them and as soon as Faith sat down she pulled her close. They were naked, of course, and Faith closed her eyes at the feel of Buffy's skin pressed against her own. She knew she would never tire of the feeling of Buffy against her and wondered if she would be able to get a little action in the hot tub.
She kissed the side of Buffy's neck as Buffy pulled her as close as possible and smiled. "I love you, Buffy."
"And I love you."
"You know, I wish I had someone like you when I was growing up," Faith commented as she felt Buffy move her hand over her thigh. "Maybe I wouldn't have had such a chip on my shoulder."
Buffy shook her head. "I don't know. Everything would've been different then and we probably wouldn't have found each other like this. Maybe all the bad needed to happen even though I wish it didn't. Maybe if you didn't have that chip on your shoulder we would have never gotten together."
"Maybe we would have gotten together earlier." Faith smiled. "You mean you would have gone for me if I didn't have a chip on my shoulder."
"Who knows?" Buffy said quietly. "I would like to think that things could've been different. But then again, I really like the person you've become over the last couple years. It's like I see the real Faith now, flaws and all."
"And you like the flaws?"
Buffy nodded. "I love everything about you, Faith. Seeing the places you've shown me today didn't change any of that."
They sat in silence for a few minutes, enjoying the fact they were resting against each other. Faith thought about what she had shown Buffy today and she realized that she didn't feel the shame she thought she would. She didn't know if that was because Buffy had been with her or if she simply realized that her past didn't have a hold on her anymore but she didn't feel the emotion drain she thought she would.
Maybe she really had grown.
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