Two days later
For the first time Faith thought the drive was lonely.
The Explorer's back was full of all the things she picked up in Boston and the rest of the weapons and clothes. She had the radio turned off and wasn't in the mood to listen to any of the CDs that were within her reach. The silence was almost too much for her but she knew it was needed. She needed to think.
Faith had been driving for two hours and she still didn't know what she was doing. Buffy had been transported back to Cleveland the day before on some junior slayer emergency and both of them were disappointed. It was for different reasons though. Buffy seemed to want to have the conversation of if Faith would be joining her in Cleveland while the other slayer simply wanted more time with Buffy.
Once Buffy left there wasn't much point in staying in Boston so Faith left the city. She had done all she needed to do there, confronted the demons she needed to confront. It felt as though a weight had been lifted off she shoulders as she left Boston in her rearview mirror. There was no doubt in her mind that she would never need to go back to the city again. There was nothing for her there.
Now Faith needed to know what was next. Dealing with Boston gave her a new outlook on her life. Sure, it wasn't as though she needed to face her demons in order to do some good with her life, she was already doing that, but it felt like there were more opportunities for her. She could go anywhere.
She could go to Cleveland.
The thought didn't scare her as much as it used to. When she was released from prison she didn't want to be anywhere near Buffy or any of her friends. She thought she would have to continually prove herself there, more so than if she went anywhere else. It wasn't something she had wanted to deal with on a daily basis.
If she had done what Angel wanted and had joined him in LA, it would have been similar but with a little added pressure. The rest of his team would have likely constantly questioned her motives and she would also have Angel guiding her on her redemption. That sounded okay at first thought but then when she thought further she realized it would have been a daily occurrence. She didn't want to be constantly questioned about how she was feeling.
In the end, she wanted to do everything on her own terms. It felt better when she was successful that way.
Of course, she had used some help. She had talked to Buffy and both she and Giles had helped to start out but then they did something she hadn't expected. They left her to do what she needed on her own terms. They hadn't told her where to travel or what she needed to do.
Faith had been thankful for that and she thought that was part of the reason she was able to talk to Buffy as freely as she had. There wasn't any pressure when she talked to Buffy as she traveled. It never felt like she had to call in to report and sometimes they didn't even talk about slaying. Instead, they would talk about her drive or what Buffy was dealing with at the school with some of the petty teenage fighting that when on there.
She knew that was probably why they had gotten close. There wasn't any pressure for them to become friends so when it happened it just seemed natural. Soon Faith missed Buffy if they didn't talked and when they did she always had a smile on her face. Since she traveled alone talking with Buffy was her only connection to another person.
When Buffy first kissed her it was a shock but as she thought about it now, it shouldn't have been. They had been tip-toeing around a growing attraction that if Faith was honest with herself started when they first hugged in Houston. It had taken Faith off guard at the time but now she saw it as when she saw Buffy in a different light.
The thought of all the times they've kissed and all the times they've held each other brought a smile to Faith's face. It took some time but she had allowed herself to trust Buffy and let her guard down around her. For the first time, she felt she could speak freely and that the other slayer wouldn't judge her for whatever she thought.
Then, of course, there was the sex. Faith had never been with anyone like Buffy but then again, she had never had had sex where there were feelings involved before. The way Buffy touched her made her feel things she'd never felt before and she wasn't scared of it. She thought that was because she trusted Buffy so much.
She trusted her with her heart.
Even after their first time together and Faith's first stay in Cleveland, Faith was amazed Buffy let her go. She had been so sure that after Christmas they would have gotten into a fight about her staying but she had let her go. She had accepted that Faith needed to continue what she was doing and that it was important to her.
That was something that made Faith love her. Buffy gave her the space she needed to continue to discover who she was now that she was out of prison and had her life ahead of her. She let her discover what she wanted to do on her own and after they had gotten together simply played the role of supportive girlfriend. It had been just what Faith needed.
Now as she drove Faith thought about all the times Buffy had let her make the decision on what to do next, where to go next, without trying to pressure to go one way versus another. Faith knew exactly what Buffy wanted, most of the time it was obvious, but she accepted what Faith felt she needed to do without fighting her on it. Every time she did Faith fell a little harder.
Faith smiled at what Buffy had said to her before she had to go back to Cleveland. She had told her that every day she loved her more and that would never change. Seeing how Faith had grown up and hearing some of the stories Faith had only made her appreciate her more. Then they had hugged and kissed before she had to go back. For the first time Faith had to tell herself not to cry when she saw Buffy disappear.
The fact that she wanted to see Buffy everyday now was a problem for Faith. Did she really need to travel anymore? Would she be okay working with the junior slayers? Sure, she would get to go sleep with her girlfriend every night and wake up to her every morning but would have feeling be enough for her to stay in one place? She still didn't know if she wanted to have to deal with junior slayers who were bound to gossip about her history.
She continued to drive down the highway in silence, lost in her thoughts.
It was an over nine hour drive but when Faith got out of the Explorer she knew it would be worth it. She had only stopped for gas and the occasional bathroom break but other than that she had simply drove. She even stuck to the highways that would allow her a faster speed than trying a shortcut and risk getting lost or delayed.
It was already dark when she pulled up the driveway and stopped off to the side of the giant house. It was her normal parking spot when she was there so it was second nature to leave the vehicle. She didn't bother to take anything out either except for one bag. There wasn't any need for more than that.
Faith pulled the small duffle bag over her shoulder and she walked toward the house with a smile on her face. She knew no one was expecting her but she thought that was part of the reason why she chose to come here. Buffy wasn't expecting it and they hadn't talked all day.
She knocked on the front door and it opened after only a couple seconds, Xander on the other side. "Faith! Were we expecting you?"
"No, you weren't," Faith said easily as she walked in. "I thought I would surprise Buffy. Is she out patrolling?"
Xander nodded. "It was the reason she had to come back. There's kind of a flu outbreak among the slayers and most of the older ones are sick."
Faith nodded. "Do you need any help? I can drive out to wherever they are."
"Not needed," Xander responded with a shake of his head. "It probably won't be a long one tonight. The last couple weeks have been quiet. Buffy was a little annoyed we brought her back at all. I guess she was having some fun."
Faith laughed at the smirk on Xander's face. "Yeah, there were some fun times." She paused and looked toward the stairs. "I guess I'll just go upstairs and wait for her. It was a long drive."
Xander smiled. "If she doesn't notice your car I'll let her be surprised."
Not wanting to say anything else, Faith only nodded and walked up the stairs. She looked around the quiet halls, only hearing voices every once and a while. It was likely that most of the girls who didn't patrol were in their rooms or in the common rooms that Faith normally avoided when she visited. Because of that she didn't encounter anyone on her way to Buffy's room.
She took a small detour on her way to Buffy's room, stopping at her own. It was right next to Buffy's but it really had never been lived in. With the exception of the first time she stayed in Cleveland Faith had always stayed in Buffy's room. Her girlfriend had even cleared out part of the dresser and closet in her room so Faith would have space for her clothes when she was there.
Faith wondered if she could even call it her room now. The last time Faith was there and they were saying good night to everyone Buffy had said "our" room. Faith hadn't even blinked at the description either. She'd only smiled.
Shaking her head at the memory, she walked away from the room and entered Buffy's. She dropped her bag on the chair by the door and moved to lie down on the bed. Even though she was still in her clothes the fatigue of driving all day hit her quickly and soon she fell asleep.
The first thing she realized was that she was being kissed.
Faith opened her eyes as Buffy moved away and smiled sleepily. "B?"
Buffy sat down on the bed and reached out to brush a few stray hairs out of Faith's face. "I feel like someone granted the biggest wish for me right now."
"Last night I was lying here by myself and I kept wishing that for you to just appear next to me."
Faith smiled at as she sat up slightly. "You know it's never safe for people like us to make wishes. You never know who could be listening."
Buffy chuckled quietly. "If it meant I got to put my arms around you as I slept I wouldn't have cared about any consequences."
"Then maybe you should do that."
They smiled at each other before both of them got off the bed and slowly removed their clothes. Faith kept her eyes on Buffy the entire time, looking over every inch of skin as it was revealed to her. There were a couple bruises that were probably from the night's patrol, one on her right side and another on her shoulder.
"How bad were you hurt?" Faith asked quietly.
Buffy didn't say anything right away, just took Faith's hand and moved to lie on the bed. Once they did, Faith wrapped the covers around them as Buffy wrapped her arms around her. "Nothing bad, just a couple bruises that will be gone in the morning."
Faith nodded and neither of them said anything for a few minutes. She closed her eyes and thought about her current position and how her life had completely changed since she was released from prison. For the first time in her life she had people who genuinely cared about her and she cared about them.
"Faith?" Buffy whispered out as she buried her face in the crook of Faith's neck.
"Are you . . . are you here for good?"
Faith smiled, finally realizing what the answer was and being completely content with it. "Yeah, B. I am."
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