While In Cleveland
by Hayley

Chapter Nine

This couldn't be any more boring. Giles has been on speakerphone for what seems like forever and I'm at his mercy because everyone else is at work. That's just another thing for him to be irritated about today, too.

"None of you need further employment outside the Council."

He's finally paused so I guess it's my turn to speak. "All our jobs are part time and we can use the extra money. What's the big deal?"

"What if there's an emergency, something that requires immediate attention, and everyone's at their respective jobs? What then?"

"I guess we all die then, Giles," I respond sarcastically. I don't want to hear about this anymore.

"This is not something to joke about, Buffy." I hear him sigh and I wish someone else was here to back me up on this. He might give up if everyone was here to gang up on him. "If money is the issue, we can put more money in the expense accounts."

It's not the sole issue and he knows it but this money he's offering definitely has my attention. "That would help."

I can almost feel his relief that I'm even considering this through the phone. "I can speak with our accountants and see what they can do. They had already bumped up what we were previously putting in to add in what we'd been giving Faith but we can figure out a necessary raise."

More money is always good but my brain is stuck on something else. They were paying Faith before she showed up in Cleveland. "You were paying Faith while she was traveling?"

"Yes. Having a traveling slayer, especially one with the skills Faith possesses, was extremely useful. We've only now convinced Kennedy to take over the role."

"You've known where Faith was this whole time and didn't say anything. I didn't even realize she was slaying until she showed up here."

"I did not realize you wanted to know." Now he seems annoyed I've changed the subject. "I believe this is all we need to discuss today. Please talk to the others about my offer."

"Fine. Bye, Giles." I hang up before he can say anything else and lie back on the couch.

I can't believe Faith didn't anything about keeping in touch with the Council over the last two years. I thought one of her reasons for leaving so abruptly was that she didn't want to be associated with the new Council that was being formed fairly quickly after Sunnydale fell. It just shows there are so many things I don't know about her.

Not even five minutes have passed when the door opens and Faith walks in. She sees me and smiles which I try my best to return but it doesn't work very well.

She frowns slightly. "What's wrong?"

"Just got off the phone with Giles." I pause as she sits next to me. "He wants us to quit our jobs."

"All of us?"

"Yep," I answer, giving a little nod.

"I'm okay with not working but Willow might have an issue."

"Giles said he'll see if he could pay us more to compensate." I pause. "He said he was paying you after you left."

Faith looks at me like she's about to be cornered. She doesn't need that look. I'm not accusing her of anything . . . yet. It all depends on what she says next. "Uh, yeah. He'd get me out of a jam every once and a while. He didn't want me hitch hiking or anything."

"So he's known everywhere you've been?"

"Not everywhere but if I encountered something interesting I'd give him a call, let him know where I was and all that."

I'm hurt by that even though my head's telling me I shouldn't. I wanted to be the one Faith called. I always have, sometimes I just didn't want to admit it to myself. "So you talked to Giles but you didn't mention to anyone else where you were?"

She's trying her best to read me right now. I can tell. "B, even the Giles thing was a fluke. I took his number when I left and didn't use it until a few months later 'cause I couldn't figure out a group of killings. It was a last resort type of thing. We set something up after that but I didn't figure anyone else would care."

"I would've cared."

"How was I supposed to know that?"

I know I should be rational and not jump to conclusions but rational is the last thing I wanna be right now and I don't think I could anyway. "I don't know. Maybe because we were getting closer after the fight. Of course, how would you notice since you left without any explanation?"

This isn't good. Faith doesn't look cornered anymore. She looks angry. "God, you never change sometimes. Was I supposed to clear leaving with you? Make sure it didn't mess with any of your plans?"

"That's not what I mean. I just can't believe you'd keep in touch with Giles and not with me." I sigh but it sounds more like a groan. "What else did you do over the last two years?" That was the wrong question to ask, especially with how I just said it, and I know it as soon as I say it.

"Are you fucking kidding me?" Faith stands up. "What are you trying to pull here, B?"

"What am I trying to pull?" I stand, too. "You're gone for two years, are real cryptic about what you did and then I find out Giles knew the whole time. You have so many secrets, Faith. I can't keep track. How can we be together when I don't know anything about you?"

She opens her mouth to say something then stops and scowls. "Fuck you, Buffy."

I watch her walk up the stairs and hear a door slam shut a moment later. I sigh and sit back down, knowing how awful that went and knowing I could have handled that so much better. I should know by now not to attack Faith on anything. It only backfires.

How the hell am I going to fix this?

"You should talk to her, Buffy."

I look over at Xander as we drive to a supposed demon hideout we've found out about. "Maybe she should say something first."

He shakes his head. "Now's not the time to be that stubborn slayer we all know and love. Both of you are being stupid."

There's some truth to that but I don't want to admit it. I will agree that Faith's being stupid though. She should realize she doesn't need to hide anything from me, that she can tell me anything. And that maybe when she came back she should have mentioned she was a Council employee. I don't know why that bothers me so much but it does. "Is this why you and Willow decided to switch tonight? Is she trying to convince Faith of the same thing?"

"Probably." Xander shakes his head again. "Can't you just get over yourself and tell Faith you love her?"

I raise an eyebrow. I'm not shocked or anything because I've heard him tell Faith that but it'll be interesting to hear what he says to me. "You think I love her?"

"Don't you?"

"Yeah," I admit, letting out a small sigh. "I don't know if that's enough at this point."

"What do you really expect from Faith? I get the feeling she's been burned most of her life." He watches the road for a minute while I maneuver the car through traffic. "You might need to make the first move."

He's probably right but at the moment I don't care. The irrational part of me keeps telling me if she loved me she'd want to share her past with me. She should know by now I wouldn't use anything against her. "I don't think it should be all on me. I've been burned before, too."

Oh, he has to stop shaking his head at me. "I doubt you can compare the two."

I think I need to lock myself in a room and not think for awhile because now I'm jealous of Xander. I can't stand the thought Xander could know more about my girlfriend than me. "What has she told you?"

He laughs at the look I have on my face which doesn't help any, believe me. "She hasn't said anything and I don't think we should discuss Faith, at least not like that. I don't want to get pummeled."

"I wouldn't do that to you, Xander." I drive past the place we believe is the hideout and park around the corner. "I'll just take it out on whatever we find inside."

"That's the spirit. Take everything out on the bad guys."

I laugh for the first time all night and we get out of the car. I think and say this all the time but why can't the hellmouth be in a warmer location? Why couldn't have been in another city further south? I swear I'm gonna lose a finger to frostbite at some point and no amount of hazard pay from the Council would make that worth it.

We open the trunk and grab what weapons we need. There's supposed to be at least a couple demons, I can't remember their names but I wasn't paying attention, who have been terrorizing some locals inside and who knows what else so we take pretty much anything we can conceal.


Xander adjusts the weapons in his jacket and looks at me with a grin. "Let's do it."

I'm happy he's up for slaying because I really wanna kill something.

It's been one week and Faith and I haven't made up. It's been the longest week of my life, too. I'd gotten used to having Faith next to me so I haven't slept much and I haven't been patrolling with her either. That's sucks almost as much as not sleeping with her. I miss our banter.

We've only been talking when Willow and Xander are around. We talk about dinner and patrol details or talking to Giles but we don't say anything directly to each other. I'm afraid I'll start a fight if I do say anything and she hasn't tried.

What makes it worse is Dawn is coming home tomorrow for winter break and there's no room for her. When we were deciding everything at Thanksgiving I just assumed Faith would be staying in my room since she normally did anyway. Now I told Dawn we'd figure out the sleeping arrangements when she gets here. I'm holding out hope Faith and I can patch things up before then.

Faith and I are the only two in the house right now. Xander and Willow are shopping. More importantly, Willow's helping Xander pick out a gift for the girl he's seeing so they could actually be gone all day. They're bound to get into an thousand little fights while trying to buy something which will make everything take that much longer.

At Giles' urging, Faith and I both quit our jobs this week but I told Giles if I get bored I'll get a job again. There's only so much researching I can do during the day before I turn homicidal. Xander doesn't need to worry since he doesn't work much in the winter anyway but Willow only said she'd cut back. I knew she'd stand up to Giles on that issue. She loves her job.

It's noon and I'm starving so I walk downstairs, hoping Faith is down there and in a decent mood. I finally think I have the nerve to talk everything out with her. The problem with that is I can hear Faith talking as I walk down the stairs. Now I feel a little deflated as I have courage at the moment and I don't know how long that'll last but the tone of Faith's voice tells me I shouldn't try anything anyway. She sounds annoyed.

"Look, I did what you wanted, Giles. I quit my job. You can at least do this for me."

Well, at least I know why she's annoyed. A conversation with Giles can do that to anyone.

"I'm serious. It's not working." There's another pause and she groans. "I'm not debating with you 'cause there's nothing to debate. I'm getting a hotel room and you tell Kennedy she can stop traveling at the end of the year."

She's leaving? I sit down on the stairs because I'm afraid I'll fall if I don't. I can't believe she's leaving me. Maybe she doesn't love me after all.

Faith doesn't say anything for awhile then groans again. "Fine."

My eyes are staring at the floor and it takes me a moment to realize I'm crying. I didn't think it would hurt this much if anything happened between Faith and I but I care about her so much. I think it's more than anyone I've ever been with. I love her so much.

"B?" I look up and suddenly Faith's face is full of concern. "What's wrong? Did something happen?"

"You're leaving?" I try so hard to keep my voice from cracking but I only half succeed.

Her eyes go wide. Apparently, that was a secret. "What exactly did you hear?"

"That you're getting a hotel room and you want Kennedy to stop traveling." I pause to wipe my eyes. "Why do you need a hotel room?"

She sighs. "We're running out of rooms, B. Dawn shouldn't have to sleep on the couch or anything because of me. Thought I'd just get a hotel room."

"No one wants you to leave," I say quickly but I know I need to clarify a little. "I don't want you to leave."

"B, this is the first time we've talked since last week." She sits down next to me on the stairs. "It's easier if I get a hotel room. It feels like Xander and Willow have been tiptoeing around us all week and they shouldn't have to."

"Yeah." I have to agree with that. The house hasn't been the greatest place to live in the last week. "You can still stay here. We can talk this out, can't we?"

Faith looks away from me. "You don't trust me."

"I'm trying, Faith, but it's really hard. I've fallen for someone who doesn't trust me enough to tell me everything."

She looks back at me and I can tell she's trying to stay calm. Maybe the fact that I'm crying has worked in my favor even though it's not intentional. "I've been trying, too. It's just not enough for you."

"Maybe it can be," I offer quietly. I don't know if that's a lie or not but I want it to be true. That should count for something.

I feel her arm wrap around me waist, pressing me more to her. Her lips press against my forehead lightly. "I don't know, B."

That's it. Faith can't leave. I refuse to accept that. I move away from her enough to look into her eyes. It could be my imagination but I think she's looking for a reason to stay. I want to be her reason. "Please stay. You can still stay in my room while Dawn's here."

She raises an eyebrow and shows a bit of a smirk. "Really? Weren't we fighting?"

Well, she's still sarcastic even when it seems like she's trying to crush me. "I'm attempting to work on us and you're being sarcastic."

"It's what I do."

My tears are long gone by now which is good. I don't like being vulnerable like that, even if it's with Faith. "So you'll stay for now?"

She nods and I wanna hug her and kiss her and just hold her tight. I'll settle with just a hug though, enjoying having my senses overcome with all things Faith. I've missed being able to hold her.

"This doesn't mean I'm gonna stay for good, B. Nothing's changed."

I do not want to get into this argument after we've kind of gotten a truce going. I'm going to let it go for now. "We'll work it out."

If she's not going to be positive and wants to run from us I'm just going to have to be positive for the both of us. And I have to tell her I love her and fast.

"Buffy, you're an idiot."

My little sister comes home and the first thing she does when we're alone is insult me. "How's that?"

She rolls her eyes at me and while I missed her, I didn't miss that. "Faith pretty much tells you she's going to leave and instead of telling her how you feel you offer her your room?"

It does sound slightly stupid when she says it. I sit down on the bed, Faith's bed, as Dawn semi-unpacks. Faith moved some things aside for her but there's still not enough room for all Dawn's crap.

"That's all I could come up with. I panicked. I don't want her to leave."

Dawn throws a shirt she has in her hands back in her bag and sits down next to me. "How about telling her you love her? She's gonna leave anyway if you don't say anything."

"I'm trying to get the nerve or whatever but there's this stupid little voice in the back of my head that says she'll leave anyway." I sigh. "I think that'll hurt worse."

"I'm going to correct my previous statement 'cause I've seen how Faith's been acting. You're both idiots," she states before looking more serious. "One of you has to step up and do something right for a change."

"I realize that." Does she really think I'm that stupid? "I just don't wanna be the one that does."

She looks at me like I'm hopeless and I have to say I'm kinda am. My little sister starts going through some of her clothes and I start looking around the room. Even though we haven't been speaking Faith's kept the picture of Dawn and I on the nightstand and there's even one of me and her now, too. Little things like that are what make me realize she loves me. That and actually hearing her say it, of course.

There's a knock on the door and a second later it opens and Faith looks in. "Patrol was boring."


She shrugs. "Little incidents here and there. No big. It's late so I'm going to sleep."

I look at the clock and see it's one in the morning. I wonder why Faith bothered with a long patrol if it was boring but maybe she didn't want to come back and deal with the sleeping arrangements. "Okay. I'll be there in a minute."

Faith nods. "Night, kid." The door closes and she's gone before either of us can say anything.

Dawn looks at me with a raised eyebrow. "It's weird to see the new and improved Faith so distant, especially with you."

That hurt but I know she didn't mean it the way I heard it so I just nod. "I have to fix it."

"You better or she's gonna leave and you'll be miserable." She pauses. "So go in there and tell her you love her."

I stand up and stretch a little. I've been sitting with one leg under me and now it's numb. "I'm going in there but no promises." I give my sister a hug. "I'm glad you're home."

"Me, too."

It shouldn't be this nerve racking to go to my own room but my palms are sweating I'm so nervous. At least I've already changed into nice, warm flannel pajamas so I can slip right into bed. When I open the door the light's already off and Faith's under the covers. She's right on the edge of the bed, too, like she wants to stay away from me tonight. I think I'll make that hard for her.

I walk in as quietly as I can but I know she's awake. She doesn't fall asleep that fast and there's something about how she's lying that makes me know she's not sleeping. I can always tell which I think translates to that I either love her or am major stalker.

Maneuvering to the bed in the dark is easy due to the fact I made sure to clean so Faith could bring some things in here. There's absolutely no chance of a stubbed toe or anything that'll make me look like a moron in front of Faith. I still feel like I should impress her in some way. I don't know why.

Once I successfully get into bed, I lie there for a minute, waiting to see if Faith moves or even acknowledges my presence. She doesn't and that's so irritating.


I think I hear a small sigh before she speaks. "Yeah?"

"Are you awake?"

"No, I'm talking in my sleep." I knew I'd get a sarcastic response. "What's going on?"

"Why are you clinging to the edge of the bed?"

There's silence for a minute and I'm wondering if she can even think of an excuse I'll accept. She doesn't say anything at all so I move closer, putting a hand on her shoulder to make her turn, which thankfully she does.

"Just go to sleep, B."

I have no idea how to respond. It's not like I've been in this situation before. I guess I'll have to let my actions speak for me since I'm still too chicken to say exactly what I feel. I wrap an arm around her and hug her to me. I'm instantly engulfed by her: her body, her warmth, her smell. It feels like forever since I did this, not just a week.

"It's been hard to sleep without you next to me," I say quietly.

"For me, too."

That's exactly the answer I wanted. I move us so I'm more on my back and Faith's kind of on top of me. Her muscles start to relax against me so I know she's comfortable.

We lie there for a minute in silence. I concentrate on the feel of her breath softly hitting the exposed skin on my neck. It feels so comforting and the thought that she wants to leave and we'll never feel like this again is too much. I need her to stay and to do that I know I need to make the first step. It looks as though Faith is choosing to run rather than tell me how she feels.

The only way I think I can do that is to try to ask her questions. If she opens up even a little it'll be easier for me to take that step. In the end, I don't want to open myself up to someone completely, tell her I love her, and then get hurt when I find out I don't know anything about her at all. That's my biggest fear right now. "Faith?"

"Hmm?" It sounds like she's starting to fall asleep.

"What do you think you'd be doing if you hadn't been called?"

"Don't know." She pauses. "Probably be dead."

I don't know if she's being pessimistic, in a bad mood or being completely serious. For all I know it could be a combination of all three. "Why would you say that?"

Faith moves away from me and I can see her face now. She looks curious, possibly because I'm interested, and that's good news for me. "I was kind of wild before I was called. Probably would've only gotten worse as I got older."

Huh. "Maybe it was good you were called then."

I hear this throaty laugh and now I'm turned on even though I'm really tired. "Nothing turned out all that different."

"I think so since you're lying here all alive, not to mention all hot and sexy."

She smirks and I'm pretty sure she's forgotten she doesn't want to be relaxed and comfortable right now. "What about you?"

"I have no idea."

"Don't hold out on me." She shakes her head a little but I am totally being serious.

"I'm serious. Before I was called I lived in LA, my parents were together and I was popular. I didn't think about the future because I didn't think I needed to. It was only when I was told I didn't have one that I started thinking about it."

"And we both still slay."

I take a chance and rest my hand on her cheek. "And we're doing it together."

Faith looks away from me. "We don't have to do this now, B."

"We had one fight, Faith. That's it. One fight and you're ready to move on?" I rub my thumb lightly against her cheek. "Do you really not want to stay with me?"

"It's complicated." I'm sure she thinks it is but she's the one making it that way. "Can't we just sleep now? Talk later?"

I don't like it but she makes a good point. We're both tired and it's going to be harder and harder to keep Faith awake while we talk. I'm not a fan of talking to a sleepy Faith. It's too weird to say something and not get a smartass response. It feels wrong.


There's a chill in the air so I could use that as an excuse to snuggle up to Faith but I don't need to. Faith puts an arm around me and pulls me to her which of course I don't stop. It's exactly what I want. I put an arm around her waist, making sure our bodies are pressed together. It would feel so much better if we were naked but this doesn't exactly suck either.

She moves so she's more on her back and I settle in next to her. We let out a breath at the same time and I feel her lips press against my forehead. I only respond by placing a kiss on her shoulder. We've exhausted the use for words tonight. They can't fix us right now.

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