While In Cleveland
by Hayley

Chapter Ten

So last night I slept so well, better than any night in over a week. I know Faith felt the same even if she was already awake and gone by the time I woke up. The feelings I could sense coming from her last night couldn't be faked. She's not good at faking her feelings anyway.

Being in Faith's arms feels so good and I want to keep talking to her, letting her know the last thing she should do is leave. The problem with that right now is the last hour she's been in the basement training so I haven't been able to do or say anything. I tried training with her for awhile but I kept getting distracted so now I'm in the kitchen getting a couple bottles of water and getting ridiculed by my little sister and my friends.

"Buffy did you actually train at all down there?"

I look at my sister then at Willow and Xander as they sit at the kitchen table. "A little. I just wanted to take a break and get some water. And get some for Faith."

"How sweet of you," Will comments with a smirk on her face while the other two laugh.

I roll my eyes at all of them because they think they're so damn funny. Here I'm trying to find a way to convince Faith that the best thing for her is to stay and all I'm getting is everyone making fun of me. They are so not helping and I need help or some confidence anyway.

"If you're not going to help me, all of you need to shut up," I respond and walk by them to the basement door. When I open it I can already hear the sound of Faith going to town on the punching bag. I bet she's all hot and sweaty right now. I'll never be able to concentrate on training.

Sure enough, Faith's kicking the crap out of our punching bag and not paying attention to anything else. All she's got on is a sports bra and insanely short shorts and she's wearing ear buds so she can't hear anything either. Hell, I can hear her music by the time I reach the bottom of the stairs so I'm surprised she's not deaf at this point.

The basement has a nice setup for us. We have some weights, a punching bag and an open area to do weapons training. Xander made some targets, too, and he uses them just as much as Faith and I do. It's not a huge space or anything since we use the basement for storage and laundry as well but it's enough to get a good workout. That's all we need.

I hop up and sit on a work bench, setting the bottles down next to me. I don't think she even realizes I'm watching her because she's really in the zone. Faith's not only working on her hand to hand combat but also her kicks. I'm surprised the bag's still hanging: she's not holding back much.

It takes a couple minutes but she finally looks my way and stops what she's doing. I smile at her and she returns it, taking out her ear buds.

"How long have you been down here?"

"Couple minutes." I shrug, trying to make sure my eyes don't wander. She looks so damn hot when she trains. "Thought you might be thirsty."

"Thanks." She takes the bottle I offer her and drinks. "Were you planning on getting a workout in or were you planning on checking me out instead?"

I think she's onto me. "The second option is a lot easier."

She laughs and pulls me off the work bench. "Maybe you should be training, B. Don't want you to lose your edge out there or something. I bet I could take you right now."

That was a setup if I ever heard one. "I think I'm okay with you taking me."

Faith grins this adorable dimpled grin and if I didn't know any better I'd say she's trying hard not to blush. "You've turned into such a flirt."

"It's your influence." I lean in so I can kiss her but she backs away. "What's wrong?"

"Maybe we should spar or something."

You know, the last place I ever want to have a possibly life-changing relationship talk is in the basement next to a punching bag but this seems like an emergency. We have to have this talk now because she keeps trying her hardest to keep her distance so she can leave.

"Remember when we started dating?"

She raises an eyebrow. "What about it?"

"I was real nervous about everything and kept pulling away and you asked if I even liked you at all?"


"Do you even like me at all?"

Faith is trying so hard not to show much emotion but I just made her mouth drop. "How can you even ask me that?"

"You don't want to be here, Faith. You wanna leave."

"I never said I wanted to leave and that's not the reason I'm leaving."

Even though anything I say is going to irritate Faith and I really don't want to do that, this needs to happen. "Then why?"

She looks almost trapped and all I want to do is hold her but she needs to answer my question. "This isn't going anywhere, B. That's why I need to leave."

"What do you mean this isn't going anywhere?" I pause before deciding to just go for it. "That is a stupid reason, Faith. Just admit you've scared."

"Why would I be scared?" she asks and I can tell she's trying to keep her voice calm. She looks like she wants to run, too, but I'll tackle her before she would ever make it to the stairs.

I guess I set myself up to be up front with her and I better or this will not end well. "I'm scared, Faith." I let out a breath. "I'm scared to death of what's happening here."

"Maybe I should leave then."

Damn it, she didn't take that the right way. "That's not what I mean." I take her hand. "I don't have a good track record with relationships. I fall for someone and then I find out I really didn't know them at all. I've had enough of vampire secrets or secret government organizations or anything else. It hurts too much to know the person you care about keeps secrets from you. It's like I don't mean enough to you for you to open up to me."

Faith tries to pull her hand away. "Are you trying to break up with me?"

"No." I'm not saying this right at all. "I'm saying I'm being hurt again because I love you and you're leaving."

I don't think the words register with her right away, I know I can't believe I said them, because for a few seconds she looks angry and then she looks confused and shocked. Very shocked. "You love me?"

I can't help but feel very terrified right now. Even though it's only been a few seconds, the fact that Faith hasn't said that she loves me is making me nervous. It's also making me want to cry. "Maybe."

Faith puts her hand on my chin, making sure I'm looking into her eyes and unable to look away. I really want to though. Her eyes are so huge and intense. It's like she's trying to see into my soul, maybe trying to see if I'm lying. She has to be able to see I'm telling the truth but I'm done guessing what's going through Faith's head. As far as I'm concerned, she should have been able to tell how much I love her already.

She doesn't say anything for what feels like forever and I wonder if she's trying to convince herself it's not true. Xander did make the comment that he thought Faith hadn't had the best luck in relationships or whatever and there has to be a reason she's always been "get some, get gone". Maybe she thinks I'm going to hurt her.

This silence is too much for me but just as I start to say something Faith leans in and softly kisses me. It's chaste but it's so tender it's practically swoon worthy. I think it's the best kiss I've ever received.

We part after a few seconds and Faith rests her forehead against mine. "I love you, too, Buffy."

That is the best sentence ever, hands down. I put my arms around her and smile. "That would be why I don't want you to leave."

"I don't want to leave." Why do I feel there's a "but" coming? "But I didn't want to stay just for all the screwing."

Okay, I can't panic just because she hasn't immediately said she's staying. "So are you staying?"

"Do you trust me?"

I know what the right answer is but it's not my answer. I really hope that's not a problem. "I want to. I want you to trust me enough to tell me anything."

"I'm trying."

Neither of us say anything for a few seconds but we don't move from our embrace. I keep my arms around her waist and our foreheads are still touching. I don't know what to say right now. It's like we're at a crossroads and I'm all sorts of nervous. Even though I've told Faith how I feel she could still leave. I feel it.

"Is me trying enough for you?" Faith asks quietly.

Why do all these questions have to be hard? I don't know how to answer that. I don't want to say no because Faith will leave and that'll be it for us. I can't handle that. But what if I say yes and can't handle her simply trying?

"Buffy?" She takes a step back and out of my arms.

I look into her eyes and she looks concerned, maybe a little nervous. It's not my intention to draw this out but my mind is racing. "I think so."

She raises an eyebrow. "You think?"

"Yeah." I sigh. "Can we both try 'cause we love each other and then you can stay?"

Faith gives me a blank stare for a few seconds, the longest few seconds of my life, before letting a small smile show. "Getting a little nervous, aren't you?"

I cannot believe her and I swat her arm as she moves away to avoid my hand. "You bitch. Are you trying to give me a heart attack?"

She laughs and her arms are around me again. "Sorry, couldn't resist." She kisses my nose lightly and I can't help but smile. "I want to stay, B."

I have never had such a strong urge to jump up and down and giggle hysterically. It takes every ounce of self control I have not to do just that and I simply hug her instead. Her arms tighten around me and she rests her head on my shoulder.

There's another minute of silence as we do nothing but hold each other. Every action of Faith's right now is so caring and I'm no longer shocked by that. Sure, a few years ago, even a few months ago, I wouldn't have thought I'd ever feel so safe and loved in Faith's arms but not now. Now that's all I feel.

We can't simply stand here though, especially not Faith since she's been training. She always gets so worked up and today is no exception. Soon I can feel her place light kisses on my shoulder and her hands begin to move slowly over my back and it's about this time I realize we're not wearing all that much. I'm only in a tight tank top and shorts and Faith's wearing her sports bra and shorts. Hell, she's not even wearing shoes because she thinks it's more hardcore to kick the bag barefoot. I'm too afraid of breaking my foot, slayer strength or not.

She starts to kiss up my neck and I'm doing nothing to stop her. We haven't done anything of an intimate nature in what feels like forever and I've missed pretty much everything she does to me. It's too bad we're in the basement right now.

"I've missed you, B."

I'm about to respond but her mouth's on mine before I can. This kiss isn't so much tender as it is passionate and I'm loving every second of it. Our arms are wrapped around each other so tight it's almost suffocating and our tongues begin to battle. Soon I'm pressed against the work bench and I really wish we could move this someplace else.

Faith must have the same idea as we break away and try to catch our breath. "We should have a bed down here or something. At least a couch."

"Not enough room."

We look at each other and laugh before kissing again. We have a lot of kissing to make up for, not to mention sex. I want to feel her body against mine and taste her skin. Now I'm really getting turned on.

The basement door opens and whoever does it is trying to be quiet, I can tell, but that's wasted on two slayers. We separate but from the look on Faith's face I can tell she wants to continue this later and I know I'm giving her the same look.

Faith turns away from me and toward the stairs but she keeps her arm wrapped around my waist. "Someone has shitty timing."

And that someone would be my little sister, who's creeping down the stairs like she's afraid of what she's going to see. I'm not sure if that's good or bad. "What's going on down here?"

"Nothing now," Faith mutters quietly.

Dawn looks at us for a few seconds and she has to know what's going on because I'm grinning like there's no tomorrow. Sure enough, I can almost see a light bulb go off. "So you finally stopped being stupid?"

I raise an eyebrow and try not to giggle. Faith's trying to tickle me. "Who are you talking to?"

She shrugs. "Does it matter? The important thing is you're back together." She stops. "What did I interrupt?"

"Do you really wanna know, kid?"

Dawn looks about as disgusted as I've ever seen her. "Ew."

I watch as she races up the stairs before looking to Faith. "Should we be insulted?"

She shrugs and pulls me to her again, resting her forehead against mine. "I don't care. Does it really matter?"

I shake my head and lean in to kiss her. Her lips are so damn soft and I want to keep kissing her but I can't stop grinning. Faith's staying and she loves me. This is the best feeling ever and I feel like I could do anything. Faith's happy, too, and how do I know that? She just started to pull on my shorts.

"I want you so bad," she mumbles against my lips.

I want her, too, but not down here. I want to go upstairs where we can lock the door to my room and really get into it. Don't get me wrong, in the heat of the moment I'll have sex with Faith pretty much anywhere but not when we have the option to go upstairs. I know it's going to be my back pressed against the work bench if we end up screwing down here. I'd much rather be on a bed or at least in our room: much more enjoyable, not to mention comfortable.

I pull away from Faith and she groans. "What, babe? What's wrong?"

She's totally starting to pout and I can't help but kiss her lightly. "Let's go upstairs."

"We'll never make it that far, B. We're going to get stopped."

It takes all my strength not to laugh at the face she's making since she's trying so hard to look convincing. If I had been training as hard as her, I would probably be convinced. "Dawn's already told Xander and Willow by now. We can just breeze by them."

Faith still doesn't look very happy but I bet it's due to the fact we still have clothes on. Her attention span isn't the greatest, not when she's thinking about something else or well, sex. "Fine."

"You are such a baby," I say and kiss her before she can protest. "I love you."

She grins, showing off her dimples, and I don't think I've ever seen her like this before. She looks so happy. "I've loved you since the first moment I saw you."

And now I'm speechless. There was always a part of me that could have sworn Faith thought I was attractive but I had no idea she loved me this whole time. There was even a stretch of time I thought she hated me and simply wanted me dead.

What sucks is that I can't say the same but I guess I'll have to make up for that. "Come on, baby."

Her grin is still there as we walk up the stairs. I think I know of one or two things to make it stay right where it is.

I wake up feeling all warm and snuggly, just like I've been for the past few days. Well, more than a few days really. It's been like this since I finally told Faith I love her. Every morning since I've woken up under a pile of blankets with Faith's arms wrapped around me.

The gang gave us a hard time for the first couple days but I think now they're only happy that Faith is staying. Willow knew how much I would have fallen apart if Faith left and I'm sure Xander did, too. Now they only tease us every once and awhile and Dawn just tells us to get a room whenever she sees us touching. It's like everything is back to normal.

Giles was okay with Faith staying but he wasn't exactly thrilled when she told him she wanted to leave so that made sense. I don't think Kennedy was as happy to keep traveling but as long as it's not Faith doing the traveling I don't care and I don't care if that makes me a bad person either. I never liked Kennedy that much anyway.

Everything else has been smooth sailing. Faith and I have been pretty much just hanging out together: slaying, training, even a little researching. She's finally starting to open up about growing up in Boston, how she was called, even why she was "get some, get gone" for so long. I know she's leaving out parts here and there but I also know she'll say more eventually so I'm okay with that right now.

The only semi-awkward moment we've had since Faith decided to stay is when we told Giles we were together. It probably wouldn't have been so bad if Faith hadn't blurted out that we were screwing in the middle of one of our slayer calls. I swear I could hear him cleaning his glasses though the phone.

I turn slowly in her arms so I can see if she's awake. A couple times I've caught her watching me sleep which normally I would find creepy but since it's Faith I think it's kind of sweet. It's comforting to wake up with Faith already awake and holding me, her hands slowly moving over my stomach. It's the best way to wake up.

This morning she's not awake first though so I snuggle against her, putting my head against her chest. I can hear her breathing in and out slowly and her breath is hitting the top of my head. Everything about what I'm doing right now is so relaxing especially since we're naked and her body is pressing against mine. It's making me all kinds of hot even though I'm still tired.

I'm so tempted to wake her up right now but I'll let her sleep a little while longer. We were shopping most of the day yesterday then had a very active patrol and topped off the evening making incredible love until we couldn't anymore. That's how I like to end every night though. It's a nightly reminder of how much I love Faith and how much she loves me.

I try to be very sneaky and put my arm around her waist which I actually do without waking her. She must be tired since normally she would've woken up in response to that simple action. I think all the shopping yesterday with me and Dawn was too much.

It's Christmas Eve today and we have a lot planned so yesterday was spent running from store to store buying those last couple presents and making sure we have enough food. We're not having a holiday blowout or anything because that never ends well and besides, Willow's Jewish. Will's made a couple friends at work and Xander has a girlfriend now so they're coming over for dinner. It's brought out the inner hostess in me and if it wasn't for Faith I'd be running around like a madwoman.

I want everything to be perfect. This is the first full-on Christmas I've spent with Faith. There was the time in high school where Faith came over on Christmas Eve but that doesn't count because I ruined it. She was finally going to open up to me, I know it, but I was too preoccupied with Angel's crisis and I stupidly focused solely on him. We bonded when I got back but not like we should've. I want the next couple days to make up for that.

Faith will love the presents I got her or at least a couple of them anyway. I got her a new leather jacket because the one she has now has seen one too many battles. It's the best one the store had, too, so I hope she likes it. I also got her a TV for our room so she'll stop complaining we don't have our own space to just relax. I know that was code for "I don't want to share the TV with Xander". They've fought over what to watch enough for me to realize that.

The other present is the one I'm nervous about. Dawn and I were out last week and I saw something I knew I needed to buy for Faith. It's a ring and I'm terrified she's not going to like it. It's not like an engagement ring or wedding ring or anything. It's just a simple silver band I want her to wear. I want her to look at it and know how much I love her. I want her to be mine.

I wonder what she got me. She's been very secretive about it and she's made me promise not to snoop around for presents. I love presents and surprises but it's been torture not trying to find out what she got me. The only reason I'm not is because Faith made me promise and I plan on keeping that one.

She shifts next to me, tightening her hold on me in the process. It's amazing but she seems to always have her arms around me now. When we're in bed, sitting on the couch, even during the downtime of patrol we're always touching. I asked her about it and Faith told me that she's making sure I don't take back anything I've said. Like I ever would. I love her and nothing's going to change that.

I want her so much right now. She's so close to waking up, I know it. When she starts moving around more, trying to get more comfortable, I know it's only a matter of minutes. I think I'll speed up the process.

Whispering in her ear is one thing but I like to kiss her awake. Nothing dirty or anything, just light kisses on her skin. I start by kissing her collarbone because that's closest to me and go from there. I only reach her neck when I feel her waking up.

"Mmm." Faith's hands move over my back as she moves to rest on hers. "Good morning."

I move up her body so I can see her face and she lets out a quiet moan as my body slides against hers. "Good morning, baby."

We kiss lightly and one of her hands moves into my hair. "That is a great way to wake up."

"I like it." I kiss her a couple more times before I rest against her again.

"Should I say Merry Christmas Eve or some shit like that?" I laugh as she kisses the top of my head. "You gotta know I suck at the whole holiday thing, right?"

"You're doing okay." I nuzzle her neck playfully, breathing her in. "I can't wait to see what you got me."

Faith tickles me, making me laugh, and shifts me so she can look into my eyes. "You are such a little kid sometimes."

Her eyes tell me that she is just as much of a little kid at times as I am. "So are you." I kiss her chin as I run a finger over one of her cute as hell dimples. "I just like presents."

She raises an eyebrow. "Maybe we should give each other a present now."

I'm confused now and I don't know if I should be. "Are you thinking like a sex present or a real present?"

"One, a sex present would be a real present and two, yes. I do mean an actual present that does not include sex . . . though thank you sex would be a bonus."

Damn, she's so sexy at the moment but I like the present now thing. It'll be easier to give her the ring without an audience. My nerves will be bad enough with just her here. I kiss her quickly and get out of bed as she groans.

"B, come on. I'm gonna get cold without you in here."

"I'm getting one of your presents."

"I think being able to see you walk around the room naked can be a present in and of itself."

I reach in and grab the little box from my jacket pocket and turn to see Faith relaxing on the bed. The blankets are around her waist so her breasts are on full display and her hands are behind her head. Her grin is as wide as I've ever seen, too, which makes me wonder what she thinks she's getting.

I sit back down on the bed, keeping the box behind my back, and she sits up, too. "I kind of wanted to give this to you when we were alone anyway."

"Really? Is it dirty?"

Oh, she wishes. "No, Faith," I respond and kiss her as she starts to pout. She makes it more intense, sliding her tongue into my accepting mouth. I hope I get more of this once she sees what her present is because I'm really nervous now. "Mmm, baby, it's something else."

"Okay." She grins. "What'd you get me?"

I don't say anything at first, putting the box between us, and watch her eyes go wide. It's a priceless expression but I think I see a hint of panic so I know I better say something. I open the box, taking out the ring, and there more than just a hint of panic now but there's something else, too. It's a look I don't think I've seen before.

"It's not what you think so don't panic, okay?"

Faith's not taking her eyes off the ring. "What should I think?"

I put my hand on her chin and make her look at me. "I'm not saying we should get married or anything. I'm all about taking what we have slow. I don't want to screw up."

Faith smiles at that. "You won't."

"So I just wanted to get you something that would be a constant reminder that I love you."

I take hold of the ring, trying hard not to shake I'm so nervous, and Faith lets me put it on her finger. It looks amazing there and I'm glad I got the size right. The moment would be a hell of a lot less romantic if it just fell off her or didn't even go on. I might be forced to think of it as a sign if it didn't fit.

"What'd you think?"

Oh, my God. Is she crying? "I love it, B."

That's the best answer I could have hoped for and I lean in to kiss her gently. It's soft and romantic and I can feel how much she loves me as she puts an arm around me. The urge to push her back down on the bed and show her just how much I love her is so great but she slowly pulls away.

She takes it off and looks at it closely. "When did you get it?"

"Last week when I was out with Dawn." I move so I'm more sitting next to her. "I had it inscribed."

"Of course you did." She looks at it more closely. "'I love you. B'," she reads, kissing my cheek. "I love you, too."

I smile. "So . . . what did you get me?"

Faith laughs and puts her ring on. "I was waiting for you to get all greedy about the present thing." She digs through a drawer on the nightstand and pulls out a similar little box. "I saw this a couple days ago and Dawn convinced me to buy it. I guess she knew something I didn't."

Wow, my sister has been scheming because she's arranged for us to buy each other matching rings. I'm all giddy and smiley as Faith takes out the ring and puts it on my finger. It's a perfect fit as well and I'm going to have to give Dawn a huge hug today for meddling. Everything is so perfect.

I take off the ring to examine it and see it's inscribed as well. "'Always. Love, F.'" I put the ring back on and put my head on her shoulder. "I love you."

"I love you, too, Buffy."

We lie back down and Faith pulls the covers over us again. Our positions have been reversed slightly this time because she's resting against me now and it's fantastic. Our hands move along each other's bodies as my beautiful girlfriend kisses my shoulder.

It's such a relief she loves the ring and what makes it even better is that she gave me one, too. We seem to be on the same page now and for the first time in my life I feel one hundred percent sure I'm doing the right things with my life. There's no doubt about my relationship with Faith anymore. I always want to be with her. I'll always want her to be mine.

Faith feels the same, too. We love each other and that doesn't feel as weird as it probably would have a few years ago. It feels amazing and as we lie in each other's arms, enjoying the feel of it, everything feels right. Finally.

The End

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