by Adam Windsor
Disclaimers: All characters are (c) Joss Whedon, Fox, Mutant Enemy and probably a whole mess of other people. No infringement of copyright intended.
Jail seemed like a good idea at the time, but it got old pretty damn fast. About the time B was starting her freshman finals I let myself out and headed north. I'd like to claim that I had a good reason to choose Canada over Mexico, but basically I stole the idea from that X-Men movie. Pretty cool flick.
I've been here two months now and Canada turned out to be a pretty good choice. The people speak English (kinda), and they're friendly enough, without stickin' their noses in your business. Plus you can still see Monday Nitro in most places. That Kevin Nash could "Big Sexy" me anytime he wants.
I've been moving around a fair bit. Not really going anywhere in particular, and not in any hurry, but not staying long enough to put down roots, y'know? I blow into a town, make a couple bucks waiting tables or something, then move on.
Vampires? Sure, I still slay. But I'm not exactly Ms Dutiful 'bout it. I see one, I dust him. Once in a while I 'patrol', but only when I'm really missing the rush, or I'm three-quarters drunk. They sure can put it away here, and I've got a real taste for the beer. Back in the States, I stuck to the hard liquor, but Moosehead's cheaper, and it has enough of a kick to give me a buzz. Right now, I'm in a place called Jasper, 'bout two-thirds of the way from Vancouver to Edmonton. It's not a bad spot, and I've been here five days, which is about my limit for any one town. In fact, as I staggered home after a hard night's drinking, I'd pretty much decided to head out the next morning.
But as I rounded the corner into the street where my motel was, I damn near walked into B.
I'm gonna claim it was the booze that did it, but whatever the reason, I just froze when I saw her. Around the time my brain was beginning to realise that wasn't the smartest thing to do, her roundhouse kick damn near took my head off.
For a couple of seconds, all I could see was the northern lights. Then she hit me a second time, and I hit the sidewalk right after.
When I came to , I was lying on my back in a beat-up old van. Shaking my head to clear it, I sat up.
Or tried to. Someone; B was my first guess; had strapped me to the floor. They'd done a good job, too, making sure I couldn't get any leverage with my arms or legs. The smart thing to do would have been to keep quiet and take a look around before letting anyone know I was awake. So naturally I opened my big mouth right away,
"I bet you pull all the chicks in this babe-magnet."
No-one answered, but a few seconds later I heard the pitch of the engine change and the van swung to the right. It sounded like gravel under the wheels, and I figured the van's driver had pulled over onto the side of the road.
Sure enough, the van came to a stop a second later, and then B climbed past the seats and into the back with me. She was bundled up in about six layers of clothes but somehow still looked like a million dollars. Myself, I had on just the one layer and the back of my mind was beginning to advise me that the metal floor I was lying on felt *damn* cold. And this was supposed to be summer.
"You wanna let me up, B?" I was scared out of my wits but damned if I was gonna show it, "My ass is getting numb." She didn't answer, instead checking the metal straps to make sure I wasn't going anywhere. B always was a smart girl.
"Where are we, anyway?" I asked, looking for a response: any response.
"Clearwater." Her reply was more grunted than spoken. I was impressed, despite myself. She'd brought me well over a hundred miles through the mountains.
"You must have really clobbered me." I conceded, in the hope that a little flattery would win some points. Though what I said was true. I had to have been out for four or five hours, at least. That's not easy to do to a slayer.
She shrugged and began to climb back into the front seat, apparently content that I wasn't going anywhere.
"C'mon, B." I wheedled, "At least tell me what this is about. How d'you find me, anyway?"
The van's engine whined and then coughed into life. It was running pretty rough.
"Sounds to me like the timing's off." I told the roof of the van, then laughed at the irony. "Story of our lives, ain't it, B?"
Still no answer, and I was starting to get seriously freaked, now. B's got a temper, but it explodes. This ice queen stuff wasn't her style, even if the weather was right for it.
"B, please. Talk to me?"
My voice cracked as I said it. I could have died from shame. Two minutes with B and I was whining like an eight-year-old. So when she turned off the engine and climbed in the back of the van again, I nearly died from shock. In her place, I'd have just laughed at me.
"What's there to talk about, Faith?" she sounded bitter, "Your stab at reform lasted, what, ten weeks? I don't intend to take the risk that you might decide to settle scores, again. Since it's obvious the cops can't hold you, I guess the Council will have to do. They say they can re-educate you."
I can't talk. Not a word. The only thought in my head is that the me who came out of 're-education' wouldn't be the me who went in. And that sounded worse than dying. A lot worse.
"God, B." I whispered, finding my voice at last, "I'd rather you stake me now. At least it'd be over quickly."
"Not going to happen, Faith." B dug in a duffel that was strapped to the bag of the seats. "*I* don't kill people in cold blood."
Ouch. Guess I deserved that.
"I'm sensing a little negativity, here." I taunted lightly, figuring that she might do in anger what she wouldn't do calm.
B pulled a large pack of Oreo's out of the duffel. They were pretty crushed, but they must have looked pretty good to my stomach, 'cause it growled loud enough for both of us to hear.
"Eat." B instructed, opening the packet of Oreos and holding half of one above my head. With no better alternative, I let her feed me. She was pretty careful about it, keeping her fingers well clear of my teeth. Like I said, she's a smart girl.
Two-thirds of a pack later, I was beginning to feel a little bloated on sugar and cookie 'cream'. Hey, even I have my limits.
"I'm serious, B." I said as she slowly chewed an Oreo of her own, "I'd rather be dead than the Council's robot."
"They won't make you into a robot."
"B, they shot at me with a machine gun. Hell, they shot at *you* with a machine gun. You think they're gonna take any chances at all with me? And once they see how co-operative their new 'improved' Faith is, how long will it be before they start thinking about a new, improved Buffy?"
God help me, that one actually hits home. She stops chewing for several seconds, not looking at me. Hell, not looking at much of anything, far as I can see. I'm not all that surprised. Neither of us has any love for the Council. After all, any organisation too anal for Wesley can't be a good scene.
"Will you try to bite me if I wipe your face?" she asks, suddenly.
I flush, knowing that there are bits of Oreo all over my lips and cheeks. But I also recognise someone changing the subject, and I'm not gonna let her off that easy.
"No. But you might wanna make sure the Council won't either."
She doesn't answer, but cleans my face with one of those lemon-scented hand-wipes you get at KFC. Obviously chasing after me has not exactly involved a health kick on B's part.
If I was B, I probably would've kept nagging about the Council. But I know enough to see when someone's got their walls up, and B definitely did.
But before she climbed back into the front, she laid a couple of blankets over me.
I chose to see that as a good sign.
Summer days in Canada are pretty long. It's still light when B pulled in at the side of the road nearly eight hours later. Eight hours is a hell of a long time when you're strapped to the floor of a crappy old van. I speak from experience.
"Where are we now?" I asked.
"Five miles north of the border." Buffy clambered into the back, "We'll go through first thing tomorrow."
I didn't bother to ask how she was going to smuggle me past the border guards. B would have a plan. She and Red and the rest of them were big on plans. Which was probably why they were in college and I was on my way to being Faith the Shiny Happy Vampire Slayer. Damn, I hate the Council.
"Y'know, B, I am *bustin'* for a leak, here. Not to mention the fact that I think my ass got a divorce from the rest of my body about four hours ago."
"You'll just have to hold it."
"Hold it?" I'm sure my eyes bug out at that point. Then, in a rising voice: "What the hell are you doing?"
B just slid a foam mattress under the blankets next to me, and lay down on it. We aren't quite touching, but I can feel her body warmth.
"This way I'll feel it if you try to break free." She yawns. Driving on windy mountain roads all day must have been pretty tiring, because she looks on the verge of sleep.
I, on the other hand, have never felt more awake. Not to mention freaked.
"C'mon B, you can't be serious. What if you start dreamin' I'm Beefstick in the middle of the night? The last thing I want is to be groped by a horny vampire slayer." My voice hitches at that last point. And why wouldn't it? I'm lying my ass off. Being groped by B is one of the few things I'm sure I really *do* want.
"Riley and I aren't together, anymore." Her voice is so quiet that for a moment I think I've imagined it.
"Huh?" Great response, Faith. Try actual English next time.
"We broke up." She seems pretty calm about it, so I guess this is old news to everybody but me. "It wasn't good, anymore. It felt stale."
"Does Angel know?"
"Yeah." She snuggles closer, and I remind myself that it is just for warmth, "He tried to be sad for my sake, but he wasn't."
Nor me, either. And I wasn't going to pretend otherwise,
"You're better off without a steady guy. Just use 'em and lose 'em."
Her reply is inarticulate, and I know she's almost asleep.
Ten minutes later, her arm lazily rolls across my body, and she nestles her head into my shoulder.
It's agony. And everything I ever wanted.
I don't remember when I fell asleep, but it's late when I wake up. B is in the front seat, and the van is groaning its way though Portland. Seems like I missed the whole of Washington State.
"Do you know if they have Moosehead in England?" I ask inanely, "Or just Budweiser?"
"I don't think they have either." B seems a bit more talkative today, and she's removed most of her layers of clothes. I'm too busy watching the play of muscles in her shoulders to pay much attention to the rest of her reply.
"Huh?" I say, demonstrating that my conversational skills are not much improved from the night before.
"I said they have their own beer."
"Oh." I'd shrug, but the straps she has me in don't offer much movement. "I guess I probably won't get much chance to try them, anyway."
"Probably not." She agrees shortly, apparently reverting to the silent treatment I got the day before.
I sigh and roll my head to one side. B's left the blanket on me, and it feels a bit warm. So I try to snag it with one finger, to pull it down a little.
Something doesn't feel quite right, and I frown, then sit up slowly.
"Uh, B?" I try to rub some feeling back into my arms. They're almost entirely numb from lying in one place for over twenty hours. "What happened to the straps?"
"I undid them." she answers shortly, then glances in the side mirror and changes lanes.
Slowly, making no sudden moves, I clamber into the front passenger seat.
"Want to tell me why?" I ask, peering out of the window at Portland. It feels strange to be back in the States. Not that I'll be here that long, I guess.
"You talk in your sleep."
"Huh?" I'm no usually this slow in a conversation, but B seems to be talking in riddles.
"You. Talk. In Your Sleep."
I nod, slowly. It's old news. I have a lot of bad dreams, and I tend to talk in them. Sometimes I even 'act out', which can be pretty painful for anyone beside me. Another good reason to get some and get gone.
"What about it?" I yawn and rake my hair back with my fingers.
"I never knew you loved me."
I sit, stunned. It feels like my stomach just dropped out the bottom of the van and is lying on the road about a hundred yards behind us.
"I said that?"
"Yes. Do you?"
And that's the million dollar question, isn't it? I know I *want* her. I have ever since the day I first laid eyes on her. But 'love'? The whole idea scares the hell out of me.
"Yeah, I do." The answer pops out of me before I know what it is. For a moment it hangs between us, and I rush to fill in the void, "But it can't work, B. We've got nothing in common. Well, except slaying. Not to mention that we're both girls."
"That bothers you?" she sounds genuinely surprised.
"Of course not. But it'll bother the hell out of most other people."
"When did you start to care what other people think?" she asks lightly, then realises how it could be taken, "that's not a dig."
"I know it isn't, and I don't." I shrug, "But I figured you would."
"Faith," she sounds amused, "I've dated a vampire and a commando from a secret government organisation. My best friend is a witch who used to go out with a werewolf. Xander is seeing a retired vengeance demon. Dating a girl would hardly seem an issue."
"Okay." I concede the point, "But dating me? We're worlds apart, B. You know that. Your friends know it. And we've hurt one another too often."
She pulls the van over to the side of the road, ignoring the horns of irritated motorists around us. Folding her arms on the steering wheel, she gives me *that* look. The one that always pins me to my seat.
"Here's the deal, Faith." Her voice is quite, but resolved, "You can jump out now, and go back to your life, and never hear from me again. I'll tell the Council I couldn't find you. Or you can come back to Sunnydale with me, and we'll see what happens. I'm not saying we'll be lovers. I don't know how I feel about you, yet. But I'm willing to give you a chance."
I'm out the door and running as fast as I can. Away from her. Away from Sunnydale. Away from myself.
Or at least, that's what the rational part of my mind is telling me to do.
Instead, I lean back in the seat and give her the best grin I can muster. It's pretty shaky.
"You know I can't walk away from you." I admit it, finally. It feels almost good to do it. "So I'll come to Sunnydale. But could we please stop at a restroom soon? I *really* need to take that leak."