Next Summer
by Hayley

Chapter Three

Today's the big day and I'm both happy and nervous.

My alarm goes off and I realize I'm waking up in my bed for the last time since I'll soon be sleeping in Faith's. All of my furniture is staying in my room for now. Faith has enough for us to start with so there's no reason for me to take anything and I know my mom wants my bed here in case we spend the night when we visit.

I look around the room as I get up and I feel the same as the day I moved into the dorms. It's a big change and this time it's permanent. I don't plan on moving back here any time soon and if I'm being honest, I don't see how I'm ever not living with Faith from now on.

I mean, I love her. What can go wrong?

When I get out of bed I have to be careful of the boxes that are all over the floor, most of them full. I didn't procrastinate like I did with the dorms and made sure everything is packed and ready to go. Most of the moving will be done at Faith's since she's got the furniture so there won't be any time for me to do any last minute packing. We're basically tossing my boxes in the truck and going to Faith's to start with the heavier stuff.

My mom saw the apartment a few days ago and thankfully, she approved of it. She said we were lucky to find what we did. The apartment has two spacious bedrooms, decent sized living room, kind of small kitchen and an amazingly large bathroom. She started talking about what we could do with the space and joked that it was okay that the kitchen was small because neither of us would know what to do in one.

"Buffy, are you up?"

"Yeah," I yell out as I walk out of my room and to the bathroom. Today is not a day where I want to stay in bed and be lazy all day.

The shower is a quick one and soon I'm getting dressed in jeans and an old t-shirt, one of Faith's I think. It's not exactly flattering but I'll be damned if I get any of my clothes ripped because of the move. Now that I'm moving out I might need to think about the amount of clothes I buy.

It's not like we have unlimited closet space in the new apartment.

As I'm putting my hair up I hear the front door open and close and it would be just like Faith to be early. She loves to tease me that I've never ready on time.

I run down the stairs and into the kitchen where my mom is making blueberry muffins and Faith is trying not to burn herself as she tries to eat one right out of the oven. I can hear swear under her breath as she burns her tongue.

It's kind of cute.

"Good morning."

Faith grins before walking over and giving me a sweet kiss on the cheek. "Morning, babe. Ready to go?"

"Everything's all packed," I say as I smile at her. "Just have to get the boxes out to the truck."

"Not until you've had breakfast," my mom says and I realize that not only has she made muffins but she's also made pancakes, eggs and bacon. "You'll need it if you're moving boxes and furniture all day."

"I think you've outdone yourself, Mrs. S.," Faith says as she sits down at the kitchen table with her muffin. "Everyone's meeting at my apartment in about an hour and a half."

"Then we should start eating and start moving boxes."

Even Anya decided to show up to help Faith and I move in together. I feel like I should be honored. She's not exactly big on manual labor when she's not getting something in return. Then again, Xander might have bribed her and I don't want to know with what.

Faith and I ate breakfast with my mom and then she helped us get all of the boxes from my room into the truck. We put some of the more fragile items in my mom's car since there are some things I didn't want getting broken in the back of an old truck the bar uses. Faith may be a decent driver but that doesn't mean I trust things won't get knocked around.

After that we drove to Faith's apartment where everyone met us. It was a little impressive to see everything packed in boxes and all the furniture ready to be moved. I helped some but Faith did most of the work, something she must have done while I was doing some last minute bonding with my mom. Part of the reason is that she's excited about moving but she also only has the truck for the day so I'm sure that fact helped in her quick packing.

"Come on, Xander," Faith grunts out as they move the mattress. "Lift up."

"Hey, not all of us are blessed with crazy, slayer strength," he says but still manages to do what Faith says. "You have no idea how happy I am you don't have a whole lot of heavy furniture."

"Quit bitching."

I laugh as I take a box of Faith's video games and DVDs out to the truck. Willow's outside putting a box onto the truck and my mom's trying to arrange them correctly. Giles passes me on the way and he mutters something not even my slayer hearing can pick up.

"What was that about?" I ask Willow once I get to the truck.

"Giles and your mom were arguing about the best way to stack the boxes," Willow says as she laughs. "I didn't even realize there was a right way."

"There is if you don't want anything to get broken," my mom says as she takes my box from me. "Trust me, honey, when we moved to Sunnydale we had nothing broken from the back of the truck. I don't think Mr. Giles can say the same."

She says it so matter-of-factly that I know it would be useless to argue with her. When we moved to Sunnydale I was so annoyed that we were even moving that I didn't pack much more than my things. In fact, that whole time was a bit of a blur. All I was thinking was that I didn't want to move here.

To think that I chose to stay after high school. I guess I have Faith to thank for that.

"Hey, let's keep moving," Faith says as she and Xander reach the truck with the mattress. "We've gotta get all this stuff to the new apartment so I can get the truck back."

"We'll be fine, Faith," I say as I help with the mattress, taking over for Xander. "It won't take us long to unload everything."

Faith looks at me skeptically. "If you say so."

As soon as the mattress is safely in the truck Faith is already walking back to the apartment to get something else. I watch her go before looking at Willow and shrugging as we walk toward the apartment as well.

"What's with Faith?"

"I think she's a little anxious," I say. "She's never really lived with anyone before. This is all new to her."

"What about her parents?"

I shake my head lightly. "Long story."

Willow nods, taking the hint that I can't get into that now, and we continue to take boxes out to the truck.

"I guess you were right."

I turn my head to Faith as I look around our apartment, which looks very chaotic at the moment. "I'm usually right so you're gonna have to narrow it down."

She laughs as we both sit on the couch, which is not where I want it to be. Because Faith was so rushed at getting everything out of the truck so she could take it back to Gary, we basically just shoved everything inside and called the hard part finished. Everyone left while Faith was returning the truck so now it's just her and me.

"Very funny," Faith says. "You were right when you said that it wouldn't take long to unload everything. Of course, it's not like anything was put where we wanted it."

"I think they got the rooms right, at least."

We laugh and she leans in to give me a light kiss. "I think we should really be thankful for the tools everyone got us as a housewarming gift. Xander didn't put the bed together before he left."

Neither of us says anything for a minute and I look around the apartment. It's not exactly full of stuff because it's double the size of Faith's old place but I already have plans on how to fill it. It's exciting to have all this space to decorate.

"You know, this is probably the nicest place I've ever lived."

I turn my head to look at her but she's not looking at me but looking around the bare walls of the apartment instead. "Are you telling me you're gonna like this place better than your old apartment?"

She looks at me and smiles. "Yeah, I think I will."

There's more to this so I have to ask. "How is it better than the others?"

Faith turns more toward me. "I never had anything new, you know? When I was little nothing nice and new. Everything was second hand and dirty and I had to accept early that I wouldn't have anything nice. My ma never cared enough to think about things like that."


"You don't know what it's like, Buffy," Faith says. "Your mom has always cared. She's a real mom, you know? I don't think mine ever really wanted kids. Or maybe she just didn't want me."

She looks away and I put my hand on her shoulder before moving closer to her. "You know what I think?"

"What's that?" she asks quietly.

"Your mom didn't deserve you," I say, putting my arm around her. "That's why you're here right now. And you have a family here."

Faith nods. "I guess."

"No guessing necessary." I put my head on her shoulder. She's been thinking about things like this more lately and I'm not sure why. Maybe it's that she's letting herself be closer to more people than just me. "Was it just me or did my mom hug you and say that you should call her if you need anything? She only gave me a quick hug and then she was out the door."

"I don't think it was quite like that." Faith's not looking at me but I can tell she's smiling. "Mrs. S has been pretty cool about everything."

"And she wouldn't be if she didn't like you," I say. "If I didn't know any better, I'd think she likes you better. She thinks of you as a daughter."

Faith finally looks at me and I'm happy there's a smile on her face again. "Sorry if I get this way once and awhile. Just everything changes and I start thinking about the past. Most of my past isn't exactly full of fond memories."

"I know. That just means we have to make good memories."

"We definitely know how to do that."

I laugh and stand, pulling her to her feet. "Come on, we need to put the bed together at the very least. I'm not sleeping on the floor or couch tonight."

"Then I guess we better start unpacking," Faith says. "We should get as much done as we can before we have to patrol."

"What? No night off?" I ask teasingly.

Faith wiggles her eyebrows suggestively. "Well, think of it this way: we get the bed together then maybe eat a little food. After that we get all worked up during patrol and come back here to really celebrate our first night together."

"I like the sound of that."

"I still think we need a car."

That's a response I hear a lot so I only smile right away. We're walking to the first cemetery of the night and even though it's a shorter walk than it was from her old apartment, at least a couple blocks anyway, Faith still thinks driving would be better.

It probably would but the Council hasn't exactly gotten us a car so I'm okay with walking but Faith thinks otherwise. There's a good chance she's already started looking for one, too. She hinted a couple months ago that the Council had paid her a little extra when she traveled.

"I'm okay with walking," I respond. "It's not like it's raining or freezing out or anything."

Faith only nods and we continue walking. Sometimes I would give anything to know what goes on in her head when she goes quiet. I wonder if she's thinking about patrolling or maybe about something in her past. Hell, for all I know she's thinking about the places she was over the last year but deep down I hope she's thinking about how we'll celebrate once we're done.

We make it to the first cemetery and already see a fresh grave. Faith walks up to it and hops up on a gravestone, sitting while she waits for the vampire to rise. I jump up and sit next to her, putting my head on her shoulder.

It's times like the one we're experiencing at the moment that make me love having Faith in my life. She's the only one who knows what it's like having to wait for a new vamp to rise or that it can get incredibly boring walking through four cemeteries and only slaying one vamp. Faith's the only one who can relate to what I feel when I've lost one during a fight or when I've had a huge night.

"What should we do with the extra bedroom?"

"I don't know," Faith says. "I figured you'd want it for when you need to get away from everything and study. We probably will need it for weapons and all that."

"Yeah," I agree. "It's big enough for us to maybe do a little training in it, too. I know you always wanted a punching bag."

I know Faith's grinning right now. The one thing she didn't like about her old apartment was that it was too small for her to do any training. We only tried to spar a couple times but after we broke some furniture we stopped. "Yeah, that would be pretty cool."

There's some noise not too far away and Faith and I share a look before she gives me a quick kiss and jumps off the stone in order to get it out. I smile as she walks away before going back to looking at the grave, relieved when the ground finally starts to move. It's a little boring waiting for new vamps to rise and not much of an adrenaline rush. I'm usually just happy it's over so I can find a better fight.

There was a time I didn't think that way about slaying but that's changed now that I'm with Faith night after night. I can admit that one of the best things out there is the rush that comes from staking a vamp after a satisfying fight.

That and spending the rest of the night with my amazingly hot girlfriend, of course.

For a couple minutes all that happens is that the dirt on the grave moves around and it feels like whoever's underneath is having a hard time figuring out what to do. By now Faith would probably help with the process but it feels like this might be a slow night so I have to get my entertainment where I can.

I hear Faith shouting something in the distance but I know by her tone that she's not in trouble. When I turn back to the ground I see there a hand sticking out of the ground and that's quickly followed by the other. It shouldn't be too much longer and it isn't since then the newbie's head pops out of the ground and he pulls himself up.

Once he's on his feet he looks around and I hop off the gravestone, waiting for him to notice me. It's takes longer than I think it should because he's looking at everyone but me. As soon as he does though, he growls.

"Really? All I get is a growl?"

"I'm hungry," he says and it seems there's no confusion in that he's no longer human. It's a little curious but there's no time to think about that now. "I don't normally talk to my food."

I roll my eyes because he thinks he's being so original and I've heard that line dozens and dozens of times. Vamps always try to get off those one liners to make them seem so clever but it never works. It's not like I'll be so impressed with their wit that I'll simply run away.

He attacks first, swinging wildly but I quickly block his fist then punch him in the face. He staggers back but shakes it off and comes at me again. We go back and forth for a couple minutes and I'm getting a little frustrated that this vamp isn't going down like he should. It makes me wonder if he actually knew how to fight prior to getting turned.

There's no time to think about anything like that though and I concentrate on the fight until I manage to stake him a couple minutes later. As soon as he's dust I turn around and look for Faith but I don't see her anywhere.


I don't hear anything for a few seconds and I get worried she's come across something she couldn't handle but then I see her walk around a crypt and the worry goes away. I walk toward her to meet her halfway and she's smiling as I do.

"Staked a couple trying to get a little alone time," she says. "They put up a little fight once I interrupted their moment but I caught 'em off guard."

We kiss once we reach each other but it doesn't last long. Even though we've made out a few times while patrolling I don't want to get into anything when we still have a few cemeteries to go. I want to save whatever energy we work up to be spent breaking in our new apartment.

"Newbie dusted?"

I nod. "Little harder than I expected but nothing I can't handle."

Faith smiles at the comment and takes my hand. "Let's keep moving then. Lots of ground to cover before we get home and start the real fun."

"I'm afraid you won't have time tonight."

We look at each other and I let out a sigh because I know that voice. It belongs to someone who I'm not a big fan of: Faith's traveling watcher, Guy.

Both of us turn to see the watcher standing a few feet from us, wearing a hat and trench coat. It feels like he's trying to be mysterious or something. From what Faith told me Guy is very intense and serious about his watcher duties.

"Hey, Guy," Faith says and I can tell by her tone she's not exactly happy to see him. "What are you doing in Sunnydale? Little far from England, aren't you?"

"There's an issue," he says cryptically. "We should meet at Mr. Giles' residence and go over what I've found."

Faith sighs. "Can't it wait until morning? The world ain't ending tonight and B and I have some celebrating to do. We moved into a new place together today in case you were wondering what I've been up to."

"That will need to wait." He turns towards the cemetery's exit. "We need to discuss a situation now."

We watch him begin to walk away for a moment before I look toward Faith. "Do we really need to follow him?"

"Yeah, I think so," Faith says and her look tells me she'd rather blow him off. "Maybe it'll be quick and we'll be able to get back home faster than if we were patrolling."

We start to follow and I really hope she's right.

Giles doesn't exactly look happy that we're at his apartment and I think the woman who just left really didn't like the timing of our arrival. I never thought about my watcher dating much but now that it's in my head I don't think the image will ever go away. We pretty much just stopped Giles from getting lucky.

"Mr. Giles, there's been a problem that I feel needs to be addressed."

"And this is something that couldn't wait until morning?" Giles asks. "I don't much care for your father calling me without thinking of the time change and I don't appreciate you showing up without contacting me first, Mr. Travers."

Faith and I look at each other as we sit on the couch and she smiles. One of the things she told me about her trip with Guy was that she thought he was trying too hard to please his father, Quentin Travers. Neither of us like his father and since he was responsible for taking Faith away from me, I don't like Guy much either.

"What's so important that you had to interrupt patrol?" I ask.

He looks at me for a second before concentrating on Giles. "As you know there's more than one hellmouth. Sunnydale's has simply been the most active in the last few years."

"How come we've never been told about another hellmouth?" Faith asks and I have the same question. "Aren't B and I supposed to know about stuff like that?"

Guy ignores us, not even acting like he can hear Faith's questions. "There have been some troubling reports in Cleveland."

That seems to get Giles' interest, at least to the point that he isn't scowling at Guy. "What kind of reports?"

"Strange sightings," he answers. "There are reports from hospitals that state an increase in the amount of neck wounds seen in the emergency room. Multiple reports per night and then there is the increase in disappearances."

"How did you find this out?"

"I was looking into what happens in other locations when the activity in Sunnydale is down. I think vampires, demons and other unsavory beings simply go to another location with a hellmouth or other mystical energy. I feel that is happening in Cleveland proves it."

"So when we defeated the Initiative, making the vamp and demon population drop, all of them just went somewhere with a hellmouth?" I ask.

Finally, he looks toward us. "They need to go somewhere. Another hellmouth is a logical choice."

Giles looks thoughtful for a minute, probably because he's figuring out whether or not to agree with Guy. "What does this have to do with Buffy and Faith?"

"Since activity is consistently down during the summer in Sunnydale, I suggest taking both Faith and Buffy to Cleveland in order to get the vampire population under control."

Faith and I look at each other again and I can already see she's not happy about it. Going to Cleveland does not exactly sound appealing. "No way. We just got moved. B and I just want time to chill."

"Faith, that is not the life of a slayer," Guy says quickly. "It is both of your responsibility to go where you are needed."

I look toward the watcher I actually like. "Giles?"

"He's right, Buffy," he says as he finally sits down.

All four of us look at each other but Faith and I are far from happy. It looks like we're going to Cleveland.

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