by Bobbi Manuel
Author's Note: For ABC's Birthday
It was a beautiful spring morning. Fresh air, sunshine, and nobody hounding me. It was definitely worth the effort to get up early just to have forty-five minutes to myself, although sometimes I couldn't even get that as one or more of the other Slayers wanted to tag along and maybe talk over some fighting technique or hear my past tales of glory. Yeah, Glory.
You see I'm her Buffy, the Legendary Vampire Slayer, and can I have your autograph and every bit of knowledge in your brain?
I thought it would eventually die down, but over the years it never has. We always seem to find new girls, and by the time they've moved into Slayer Central, they've heard and studied all about me. Every fight, every battle, every near death and actual death recorded in complete and meticulous detail by one Rupert Giles, Watcher extraordinaire.
"Giles, could you stop with the: 'This is Your Life, Buffy Summers'?"
"Actually, no. I am still your Watcher, and it is still my job to keep an accurate "
"But they think I'm some kind of superhero!"
There was a commotion off to the side as Faith snatched Xander's bag of chips away from him.
"Because that's what you are, Buffster. Give them back, Faith!"
"No, I'm just a girl who won the supernatural lottery and "
Xander was trying to reach the chips, but Faith had turned her back on him. He glanced over at me:
"Repeated world saveage, coming back from the dead a bunch of times, fighting vampires on a nightly basis "
Faith wasn't hard to understand despite all of the chips crammed into her mouth:
"Screwing'em blind Here, Cyclops."
"It all adds up to legendary superhero status, Buffy. You should have your own comic book series, and not a crappy one either Gee, thanks for leaving some crumbs, Faith."
"Okay, sure, maybe, but if Giles would just stop with "
Faith stood and brushed off the front of her shirt:
"Too late in the game, Princess. All that cool shit means groupies for life."
Of course she was right it was too late and there was no way out. But did that mean I had to be hounded day and night, that my suite always had to be Grand Central Station:
"Buffy, can I ask you about when you jumped into the Portal?"
"Buffy, just how scary were The Gentlemen?"
"Buffy, what were Spike and Angel really like?"
"Buffy, I have some free time tomorrow at 5:00 a.m. and I was wondering if. Buffy? Where are you going? Hey, wait up, Buffy!"
As the years went by, it seemed there was nowhere I could go to kick off my shoes and just be me. We were all one big happy family, and although there were a million positives to that, the negative was pushing me right to the edge and I couldn't go much further. Literally, sort of.
For better or worse, I was the woman in charge and it wasn't the kind of job where the boss could be thirty minutes away in an elegant, yet tasteful downtown apartment with a doorman named: "Enrique" who helped her carry her packages to the elevator. Instead I had to be right in the thick of it in case something happened, and the one guarantee we all had was that sooner than later, something would definitely happen. That was just the way it went when you were responsible for protecting the world from every evil Tom, Dick, and Henry Harry. The names don't matter, trust me. Somebody's always trying to do something bad.
I knew in one way I was being sort of ridiculous. After all, I'd lived in Rome with Dawn for about a year, almost completely out of the game and with so much freedom it was crazy, and yet I spent just about the entire time wanting to be where I am now. Because right here in the middle of it all, surrounded by the people I love and doing the job that's mine to do, that's what I was made for. I'm The Slayer and nothing feels better than fighting the good fight, standing up to evil and refusing to back down. I like training other girls to do the same thing, helping them harness their powers and teaching them how to stay safe while they feel the thrill that comes from being out there in the night.
It's just Do I always have to be doing it? Can't I just have a little space sometimes? A part of every day that's just mine?
It turns out that: yes I can, and I discovered that on my morning jog. It was my usual route, but something was different, maybe a tree had fallen down. Whatever it was, it let me catch a glimpse and I went over to investigate. I knew the second I saw it: this was the answer to my problem. It was a little on the rundown side, okay, maybe the side was really a lot run down, but with some TLC and a lot of hard work, this place could become my home. I was so excited I ran the mile back to Giles' office in about three minutes. I was out of breath, but I was prepared to beg if I needed to. I should have known better.
"It's a splendid idea, Buffy, and the least we can do after all your years of exemplary service. The Council's coffers have more than enough to assist you with any renovations, and I'm sure Xander will give us a very reasonable estimate. When do you wish to get started?"
Before you could say: "Buffy has left the building", the project had begun. Giles assumed we had plenty of cheap labor ready at our disposal; nothing like a hundred Slayers to do the grunt work, but I put a stop to that before it got going.
"Giles, that defeats the whole purpose. I don't want them there."
"Buffy, it's not as if they won't know where you live. What difference could it possibly make if "
But I knew it would make every difference.
"I don't want them getting comfortable, that's the problem here. If they help me, they'll be inside and outside the house. I'll be feeding them, talking to them, getting them drinks, and before you know it, it's: 'Hey everybody, come on down to Buffy's Potential Clubhouse of Fun!' Please Giles, just us and maybe some discreet outside help if we need it."
I don't think he quite got it, but he does love me and wants to make me happy whenever he can.
"Very well, just make sure either Xander or yourself run any unexpected expenditures by me first."
"I will. Thank you, Giles!"
I hugged him and just like always he was awkward and uncomfortable, but he hugged back and I felt him kiss the top of my head.
The whole project took longer than I thought it would because I'd hugely underestimated how long it would actually take to do things, especially with our various jobs interfering. People kept popping in and out, but we all kept at it with whoever was available because there was no other way to do it. We couldn't have a bunch of strangers hanging around unsupervised. It'd be like leading them right to The Batcave and hoping they didn't peek inside.
So sometimes we'd lose members of our workforce for awhile: Willow and Kennedy because they had to go track down some artifacts in Portugal, then it'd be Faith happily heading off to kill things in Albania:
"Good luck with Dumpy Manor, B."
or Dawnie insisting on being a good student and actually writing her term papers on time and studying for her Finals. Xander's turn to disappear would come around when one of his crews hit some giant, big deal snag, and then it was me who got tied up with making sure the Hellmouth didn't blow sky high, and on and on and on. It was a Do-It-Ourselfer project, so we had to be flexible and we were.
The hardest work was clearing an acre around the house because the trees, bushes, and weeds were straight from Jurassic Park, all complete with raptors and T-Rexes T-Rexi Let's just say they were big, terrifying, meat eating dinosaurs. Xander claimed they were just the standard Cleveland woodsy bugs and animals, but please. I think I know the difference between a cricket and a raptor. Anyway, it took the three of us seven days to get the job done except there were four of us because Faith decided to join in for no real reason. Not that I wasn't happy to have her, it's just, well Let's just say she wasn't in the running for the "Miss Congeniality" award.
Xander, Satsu, and I were the crew on the call list, along with a bulldozer and a chainsaw. I'd sort of hesitated over including Satsu in any of the repairs, but she had a way of just turning up all cheerful and ready to work, and I finally gave up and included her in the rotation. The more the merrier, and although Satsu wasn't exactly a Scooby Gang member, she wasn't one of the star struck girls who were driving me crazy either. Plus she was strong and a hard worker, she dressed stylishly, she smelled nice, and we had a little something sort of sparking up between us.
She'd been flirting with me since her return from Japan three months ago and I don't know, I was kind of liking it and maybe flirting back. Now while I'm nowhere near officially gay, I've known for years that I'm not entirely straight either. I learned that way back in Sunnydale when Faith first showed up, and I'm pretty sure if Angel hadn't returned and Faith hadn't gone totally bonkers and evil, well, I most likely would have beaten Willow to the Gay Pride parade. Instead nothing really happened, a bunch of water went over and under the bridge, our moment passed, and now we're settled into a friendship that's solid, despite all of the weird mixed signals that never seem to go away.
But back to Satsu She was here, she was interested and she was cute. Yes, she's kind of a player, Faith says she's "smarmy", which I get why she says that, but she's not. Not really. At least not completely. She's just a little too smooth maybe, and a little shifty or shady like players usually are, and I wouldn't trust her with my heart as far as Andrew could throw it, but in this case, all of that stuff worked just right for me.
I wasn't looking for true love or even a long term relationship. I was much more interested in having some quiet time by myself not like that, and I didn't feel the need for a serious somebody in my life. I didn't feel like making the effort of getting to know them, then falling head over heels and working on our problems together, blah, blah, blah until we broke up in a blaze of tears and hurt feelings. I wanted to skip all of that this time around.
I've never had casual sex before, I've never hooked up with somebody just because, but lately I've been thinking that maybe that's the answer for me. No strings attached sounds kind of exciting and when you add in I'd be doing it with a woman for the first time, well it doesn't get any newer or more exciting than that. All I know about lesbians is that they love U-Hauls, and according to Willow, the sex is phenomenal. I'm thinking that Satsu is going to be more than happy to teach me whatever I don't know, and that sounds okay to me.
I've seen the looks she gives me when she thinks I'm not looking. I've noticed the constant touching, smiling, and laughing at my every joke, and I've seen the way she practically drools whenever I'm wearing shorts or a sports bra. Now yes, normally I wouldn't even consider someone who had any smarminess at all on display, Parker filled that quota for a lifetime, but I find her sexy enough and it's been a pretty long dry spell for me. And I know she'll go for the: "We're Just Two Adults Out For a Good Time" speech. It's basically what she does anyway, and if we both go into it with the understanding that neither of us expects anything else from the other, no one will get hurt. They call that a win/win all the way.
I felt like I was being very grown up, downright sophisticated in fact, but I wanted to run it by Will in case I was just being stupid. She wasn't available and since I wanted to set the wheels in motion the very next day, I went to my next best girlfriend for advice.
We were all alone and finishing up something called: "dry walling", and one of us was so bored we decided to just plow ahead.
"Xander, what do you think about me experimenting?"
"Not much, Buff. You need to do it just like I showed "
"No, not this, with my love life."
"Oh. Experimenting how?"
We'd both stopped working and I turned to him.
"Well, I was thinking of maybe gaying it up a little. Do you think I should try it?"
His grin was huge as he hugged me.
"It's about time!"
Now Xander's always supportive, but it seemed a little strange that he was so enthusiastic without even getting any of the details. I carried on anyway.
"I'm thinking it wouldn't be a serious thing, but I'm not sure if I can actually do that."
"Buffy, she's already pretty serious about you, you know?"
That sort of made me hesitate. She was?
"I don't think so, She's not exactly a one woman woman, and I'm pretty sure just casual and fun will be fine with her."
He turned back to the wall and started working again:
"You can give it the old Slayer try, but her 'playing the field' days are totally a thing of the past. The way I see it she's only got eyes for you."
"Maybe since she's been back, but I'm sure there's a string of broken hearts trailing behind her in Japan."
He jerked and missed the hole:
"You're talking about Satsu?"
"Yes, who'd you think I was talking about?"
" Satsu, of course."
I stopped in mid dry wall lifting.
"Why are you being so weird?"
He laughed and gave me a little hug:
"Despite being your second best girl friend, I'm still a man. You know how the lesbian stuff gets me all flustered."
"Yeah, but "
"I think whatever you decide to do, I've got your back."
He was such a good friend and just saying stuff out loud helped me make up my mind.
"Okay, thanks. I think I'll talk to her tomorrow and see how it goes."
He mumbled something I didn't quite hear:
"Oh, it's gonna go all right. All over the place."
So there we all were on Yard Clearing Day. Satsu was nothing but cute and quirky and happy, and then Faith showed up and the mood went downhill so fast, it was like we were skiing on Mount Everest. The tension arrived with Faith and it escalated with her, and she didn't say anything except to swear almost constantly as she worked like a madwoman. She did twice as much as the rest of us and she did it violently.
Xander drove the bulldozer and Faith handled the chainsaw in a way that made that freaky Leatherface guy seem normal. She threw tree trunk pieces into the back of the haul away truck so hard, it sounded like it was groaning for mercy, and she swung her axe at every piece of wood like she was aiming for Kakistos' head. She dug up tree roots like she was digging someone's grave, probably Satsu's if the looks she was giving her were any indication.
Satsu wasn't exactly talking much either and she kept glaring back. Xander looked completely terrified, like it was his responsibility to keep an eye on Faith. His gaze kept bouncing from her to Satsu, from Faith to me, back to Faith, then it was on to Satsu, then here came my turn, and it's so fun, let's do it all again for hours.
I had no idea what was happening. I mean, I knew they weren't actually friends, but I'd never seen them so openly hostile towards each other. I'd heard about a week after Satsu got back from Japan they'd gotten into it physically and had to be separated, but I had no clue they were this mad at each other. I tried hard for about an hour to joke and tease them out of it, but it didn't have any effect on either of them, and I got tired of listening to Xander's nearly hysterical laughter at everything I said.
By the time Andrew showed up with our lunch delivery, I thought I had it all figured out. Faith had flown home last night on the redeye from Seattle, and the suddenness of it was completely unexpected. At least on my end it was. I'd just spoken with her two days before and she'd reported that it was going to take at least four or five more days to wipe out the vampires who'd been causing so much trouble.
Apparently things had wrapped up much faster than she'd anticipated, but why she hadn't notified anyone of that and why she was out here clearing land instead of catching up on her sleep, well, that was a total mystery. So when everyone else headed inside to wash up and eat at my brand new dining room table, I pulled her aside and gave her my best smile:
"Faith, I know you must have a wicked case of jetlag "
Not even the hint of a dimple when using the word "wicked" was always a surefire winner with her. I carried on, getting more confused by the second.
" and you've got to be exhausted. I really appreciate you showing up and doing so much work, but maybe you should "
"I'm not going anyplace, Buffy. I'm gonna be here day in and day out 'til we get this cleared up. End of."
Then she stomped inside and I followed behind her. My best guess was that she thought she hadn't helped out enough, but that wasn't her fault and I certainly didn't blame her. She'd been out of town a lot lately, and I knew she would have helped me if she could have. Evidently Faith had her own thoughts on the subject, and I knew it was best for everyone if I just let it go, but it certainly made for some miserable days of vegetation clearing. It also meant there was no way I could talk to Satsu about broadening my horizons.
The good news is that with Faith's special brand of help, we got done a lot faster than we should have and by the time summer came around, I got to move in. I was so excited, I could barely contain myself. I had all new appliances, a new roof, new hardwood floors, new furniture, and a beautiful new yard. Willow had demon-proofed all five acres of my property: the acre we'd cleared as well as the four acres of woods behind the house. I was already daydreaming of taking daily walks there in the fall, the trees turning all red, orange, and yellow, the leaves floating all around me, and the dog I was thinking of getting chasing squirrels and barking at me to hurry up. In the winter we'd sit all cozy in front of the roaring fireplace, toasty warm with nothing else to do.
Yep, my little bungalow was already an oasis, and I felt a huge weight lifting off of me as soon as I got settled in. Here I could stand at the kitchen window with my morning cup of tea and watch the birds frolicking in the birdbath before I got dressed and walked the quiet and scenic mile to my job. In the evening I could curl up on the sofa in my pajamas with a glass of wine and a big bowl of popcorn and just watch TV, confident that I wasn't going to be disturbed unless it was a real emergency. I could hardly believe it: it was an actual real life dead ahead, and it was starting now.
I hugged everyone and thanked them for all of their help. They'd really gone above and beyond, and I promised to throw them a housewarming party as soon as we could all make it. We hung out for awhile, had dinner, and then everyone finally took off. Xander reminded me he still had to paint the outside of the house before everything was totally done.
"But it's all primed and ready, so I should be finished up by the day after tomorrow."
I hugged him again, all happy and excited:
"It's sure been a long haul, but they can't stop us now!"
Yep, I totally jinxed myself right there, even though I so know better and have learned my lesson the hard way more than once. My only excuse is that I was just so excited, I lost my mind. Thankfully I didn't quite realize what I'd done, so I had a great first night alone in my less icy Fortress of Solitude. I unpacked and enjoyed the quiet while I walked around admiring all of the work my friends had done in order to make me happy. I was totally in love with all of them Kennedy included and I couldn't wait to throw a big party to show them my appreciation.
I woke up with a smile on my face and just like I'd imagined, I watched the birds frolic while I drank my tea. I got ready and then I walked to work with a real spring in my step, so happy I was cruising past giddy to giddy squared. The phone call I received twenty minutes later put a slight damper on things:
"Buffy, it's me. I'm sorry, but painting will have to wait. There's some kind of virus going around, so we're barely making skeleton crews here. It'll probably be a couple of weeks at least before I can finish up the house."
I told him not to worry about it and I meant it. He'd worked his butt off for me while still running his own business, and getting wound up about not getting my house painted for a few more weeks seemed incredibly selfish. I felt bad that I couldn't help him since Orientation was starting up, but I asked him if maybe some Slayer volunteers would do the trick. He laughed and reminded me that Slayers don't exactly fit in on a construction site. Fine, but that wasn't all my fault.
So they say patience is a virtue and I lasted four days before I broke. It was just that everything else was so perfect, yet every time I left and came back, my beautiful white house with the dark green shutters looked like a dirty, dingy little shack. A dirty, dingy little haunted shack. With mice. Little dirty, dingy mice ghosts living in my dirty, dingy little shack of a dirty, dingy little house. It was driving me crazy.
My first thought was that I would finish it up by myself, but even if I'd had the time, which I didn't, that idea was just plain crazy. I'd never painted a house before in my life, and trying it alone was just asking for trouble. Normally I could have just gotten the gang together and it would have been all kinds of fun, but for the foreseeable future "the gang" was just Faith and Satsu, and they were nowhere near fun. Even if I graded them on a curve.
Everyone else was off on assignment, dealing with flu epidemics, or living it up on a glorious, two week Florida vacation with their college friends. Here at Hogwarts it was Orientation Week, and that meant I was busy personally meeting with parents, reassuring them that turning their daughters over to us to fight monsters and risk their lives night after night was a truly great idea.
I think by the time they got here, it was actually more important for them to just meet me, to get to know the woman behind the title. They needed to see firsthand what kind of person I really was, and although that's pretty tough to do in a half hour meeting, most times they seemed satisfied with what they saw. I tried to make it clear that safety was our number one priority, that we had a great system in place, but if it ever came down to it, I wouldn't hesitate to give my own life to protect each and every one of their girls. Of course I still didn't want them at my house, but I kept that information discreetly to myself.
So the bottom line was: I needed someone else to get the job done, and of my two available choices, I could have easily asked Faith to do the painting. We had the kind of relationship where no favor was too big or too small, and while there was no guarantee the other person would actually do what we were asking, there was every chance that they would. It was all good; I would have been well within my legal rights, but I couldn't ask her because she was almost as busy as I was with her baby. Or "Weapons Class", as the rest of us called it.
She had designed the course, she taught the course, and she owned the course, so "hands right the fuck off", as she so delicately put it. Nothing was more important to her, and although classes didn't officially start until after Orientation was over, Faith always got a jump on it with her very best students. What that meant was that Faith was absolutely out of the house painting game for at least the next couple of weeks, so I was going to have to look elsewhere.
Technically there was only one place left to look: Satsu. Even though I didn't really know her well enough to ask for such a huge favor, I knew her father was a handyman. He had to have painted some houses in his time and the odds were good that Satsu had helped him somewhere along the line. She more than likely knew how to do the job and I more than likely knew how to sweeten the deal.
Two birds could be killed here at once, and the more I thought about it, the better it was. I could not only get my house finished, I could maneuver things around to getting a little alone time with Satsu. It probably wasn't going to result in anything too major at first, but I could offer her dinner, we could talk, and then maybe make out a little to see if we were compatible. It wasn't just "better", the situation was perfect, all of my ducks lining up in a row. Wow, who knew birds were so important when it came to getting what you wanted?
I approached her the very next day. She was sitting all by herself in the lunchroom, flipping through some fashion magazine while she ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Silently thanking the universe for being so good to me, I got my feminine wiles all wiled up and glided smoothly over to my prey. My glide sort of lurched and staggered when I cleared the doorway and saw that Faith was sitting on the other side of the room, her back to the wall and facing Satsu. Her boots were on the chair next to her, her arms were folded across her chest, and she was sound asleep. Relief flooded through me that she was out of it, not that I could blame her.
She'd been out on an all night patrol with Willow and Vi, and she couldn't have had more than an hour of sleep before her day began. Tomorrow was the first day of Weapons Class and it was no easy task to get everything ready in time. Faith wasn't usually that big on organization, but she didn't fool around about this. The girl loved her weapons, and she'd be ready with everything laid out and running like clockwork. She was an amazingly good teacher, the kids loved to take all of her classes, but it was considered a real feather in their cap to get invited into Advanced Weapons Birds again, that's so weird.
Satsu hadn't noticed me yet, so I turned my "Buffiness" up to ten and went into action.
"Hey, want some company?"
She paused in mid-bite and looked up with a big smile on her face:
"I always want your company. Have a seat."
She gave me a look that could be called sexy if you didn't ask any questions or "Grab the puke bucket, B" if you did. She pulled out the seat next to her and I sat down, all happy to be there. We chatted about a lot of things that all added up to nothing, but the smiles, touches and complete attention from her never even slightly eased off.
I had a momentary twinge, wondering whether I was doing the right thing. I was her superior after all, and that made it seem like it could be way too easy to get everything all tangled up. Suddenly, before I knew it, I could be sexually harassing her somehow or using my position of authority to make her do slave labor and maybe slave sex. Just the thought made me feel a little queasy. I mean, I didn't really know what I was doing and it would be so easy to screw
Her hand was on mine, just resting lightly except for her thumb which was rubbing back and forth like a gentle breeze. She was just this side of irritating, right on the edge of making me yell out:
"Will you stop touching me all the time?!"
But I knew she was just trying to settle me down, which while that wasn't quite the effect she was having, I did have to appreciate the effort. I took a deep breath and proceeded ahead to my main topics house painting and casual lesbian sex flings.
"Satsu, this is a really busy time."
"Well, for you and the other staff, but us subs can just sit back and watch."
I nodded like she'd said something deep, even though I already knew that and it was why I was here and ready to rope her in. I noticed that she'd managed to get her hand on my forearm and oh boy, she certainly was moving ahead, which I should have liked.
"Buffy, your skin is always so soft What kind of moisturizer do you use?"
Before I could answer that not exactly subtle question, there was a snort from Faith. When I glanced over, I saw that her head had flopped all the way back and I could see right down her throat. Now that was attractive, and the most ridiculous thing about it was that it was. She still looked nothing but hot, and I wondered how that was even possible. It made me want to take a survey and see if other people would agree with me or if I was just imagining the whole thing. I was positive I wasn't, but without at least a few other opinions to
What? Oh Satsu, right. Stay on target here, Buffy.
"Um, I use lots of stuff."
Satsu laughed like I was playing with her and had said something flirty. We both knew she didn't care what kind of lotion I used, so I should have been making with the sexy banter. Instead I was making with the distracted stupidity, but somehow I was getting away with it.
"Well, it's working for you. I'd say you're an incredibly beautiful woman, if I noticed that kind of thing."
Her fingers were still sliding smoothly along my arm, and while I wasn't really feeling any good, down low tickles, my arm was heating up rather pleasantly.
"And I'd say your fingers are remarkably callus free because I am noticing."
She smiled big at me and her hand didn't stop stroking for a few more seconds.
"Um, Satsu? I have a proposition for you".
"The answer is yes. To anything at anytime."
I smiled gratefully; she was making this pretty easy for me. The weird thing though, was that I didn't feel easy. I felt tense and was thinking I should probably just stop, but once I make up my mind about something, I'm usually pretty stubborn. If demons couldn't stop me, a case of nerves definitely wasn't going to either.
"I was wondering if you knew how to paint a house?"
"Yep, sometimes my dad paints houses and I worked with him for a few summers."
"Ahh so you're a Summers worker from way back. Perfect."
Her laugh was loud enough to disturb Drooly Table Sleeper Girl, and Faith's feet hit the floor as she yawned. Still amazingly gorgeous, her hair slightly messed up, her eyes a little sleepy, and the way she stretched her arms over her head made her look like
"Oops, sorry. I zoned out again."
"That's okay. So I take it you want me to paint your house?"
I turned on the charm because there were still two birds at stake here.
"I'd be willing to reward you with a home cooked meal."
She sat back in her chair and pretended to think it over.
"Hmmm A home cooked meal just for two?"
"Yep, straight from 'Luigi's' take-out to my still brand new dining room table."
She smiled and it was plenty cute, but it also made it plenty clear that while I was busy getting my birds stoned, she was eating my canary. Uh I'm just going to let that one go.
"I'm in Buffy."
And why did it sound like she thought that was a foregone conclusion? I could swear she never paused after the "in", but even if she didn't, why should it bother me? I was angling everything that way in the first place, probably in the second one too, so I should be dancing and singing that we were in synch and wanting the same thing. Instead I was getting almost offended and it made no sense except I get it. I obviously wasn't used to the meaningless sex thing yet and I was having a knee jerk reaction to being treated like a piece of meat. Mystery solved and I perked right up:
"Great! Xander has everything primed and ready to go. He figured maybe two more days to get it done."
"Sounds simple enough. The house is small, but there are a lot of interesting nooks and crannies I'll want to take my time in. Don't worry, Buffy, I'll handle everything."
Yes, I got her meaning loud and clear, so much so that my knee came about an inch from jerking right through the table. She was looking at me like I was an all you can eat buffet and I tried to return the sexy times, but I think I probably ended up looking like I had cramps. I decided I'd do better with a hug, and while there was definitely some heat, there were still no "down lows" or even any really good "unghs". I was positive they'd come once we did things.
"I really appreciate this, Satsu."
"I'm counting on that."
She pushed a piece of my hair behind my ear, her eyes on mine:
"I'll get started tomorrow morning about ten. Let's make dinner for the day after."
"It's a date!"
She smiled all sexy and knowing again and then she left. I sat at the table extremely proud of myself, that I'd actually done what I'd set out to do. House painting was going to happen, then an intimate dinner for two that would probably lead to some heavy duty making out, and then after getting the ground rules absolutely clear, well, we'd be off and running to a whole new place. I was excited about all of it, and never let it be said that I'm not a problem solver or a fantastic multi-tasker. I'm obviously an adventurer too. Yep, I am the woman, in all kinds of ways.
I glanced over to see that Faith had finally woken up all the way. She must not have had a very good nap because her jaw was clenched tight and she looked pretty grumpy. I guess that's what you get when you try to sleep sitting up in the lunchroom. I was just glad I didn't need her for anything today and that she wasn't meeting any of the parents either. The look on her face would scare off just about anyone, but not me, and not when I was in such a great mood. I decided to spread the cheer as I headed out the door:
" 'Weapons Out the Ass Day' tomorrow, F!"
I was up bright and early the next day, everything planned out perfectly, so I added excellent time manager to my long list of skills. I had a cup of tea, took a shower, and then got ready for work. I chose to go with my favorite pair of tan slacks and my brand new, dark emerald blouse that really brought out the green in my eyes. Darker colors always make me look more responsible somehow, and I definitely needed that for the cranky parents I had to meet today. Giles had spoken with them yesterday, and afterwards he had a whiskey. A double.
I headed off to the grocery store to pick up some stuff I needed in general, as well as some particulars I wanted on hand for my big date tomorrow night. I knew I didn't have any spare time for shopping, so I got up early and made some, and when I pulled into a parking spot they were just unlocking the doors. I zipped right through the nearly deserted store and in just a few minutes, I had the bags loaded into the cargo area of my Jeep and was back on the road, right on schedule.
My first meeting wasn't until 10:15 and as I turned down the long, unpaved lane that served as my driveway, I knew I had enough time to put the groceries away and have a blueberry muffin with another cup of tea before I drove in to work. No walking today, I was all about projecting a cool, calm professionalism with not a hair out of place. I looked around at the field I was driving through and there were all of these new purple flowers blooming. Willow had explained that pretty much everything out there was a weed of some kind, but I didn't care what they were. They were pretty.
My house came into view in the distance, and I smiled to see that Satsu was already hard at work. It was a few minutes before ten, but she already had all of the painting stuff spread out around her and was up on the ladder. From here she was pretty much a speck of motion, but as I slowly drove closer, I could make out that she was wearing a faded orange tee shirt with the sleeves cut off and a pair of white shorts that clung nicely to her butt and showed off her tan legs. Her arm muscles were flexing as she used the roller to reach the hard to reach places and Hello! The "good down low tickle" had finally made an appearance, and with her hair pulled back in a ponytail Ponytail? How could Satsu have her short hair back in a ponytail?
I floored the car and through the jostling that bounced my head off the ceiling twice, I saw that it was in fact Faith on the ladder. I also saw that not all of the painting equipment was equipment, and I was out of the car almost before I put it in park. I ran to Satsu's motionless body, sliding the last few inches on my knees.
There was no response and I looked at Faith who was calmly painting away.
"Faith, what's going on here?"
"Hiya, B. Just getting the place painted. Weather's supposed to hold, so I figured "
"Why is Satsu on the ground?"
Faith glanced over casually before turning back to the house:
"Where she fell after I knocked her out."
I couldn't comprehend what I was seeing or hearing.
"After you What When Why "
"I'll play along Who, how."
She pointed off to the side:
"Wanna hand me that can? Think I can pour the rest into the tray now."
I walked over to the ladder, getting angrier by the second. I tilted my head up to look at her:
"I'm not doing anything and neither are you until you tell what happened to Satsu."
Faith rolled her eyes:
"Fine. Told her I was doing the painting, she argued, and I told her to get lost. She kept jawing, took a swing, and I clocked her one. Bucket please."
Somehow my confusion wasn't clearing because Faith was making the kind of sense that didn't. Meanwhile she sighed loudly, then jumped down and grabbed the paint herself.
"Not asking you to help, B, but then don't stand there acting like you're gonna."
She grabbed the handle and the can swung back and forth as she returned to her spot near the top rung. She lifted the lid and frowned:
"Can ya toss up the stirrer?"
"Right there, the stake with the white all over it. Toss it up."
I did, my hand coming away a little sticky and white since the paint wasn't totally dry.
"Why are you here?"
She didn't even bother to look at me.
"B, already went over this. I'm painting your place."
"But today's the first day of Weapons Class."
Yeah? Yeah? What in the world was going on?
"Then how can you be here?"
"Told Nance to take it. You've been thinking of giving her more responsibility, thought we'd try her out."
"With your class? With yourWeapons Class?!"
She threw a rag down to me so I could wipe my hand clean, then turned back to the paint can.
"B, settle down. It's way too hot to get so worked up."
I heard a soft moan and finally remembered there was someone lying unconscious on the ground.
"What about Satsu?"
"What about her?"
I tried to respond calmly, but my voice came out all squeaky like it sometimes does before I lose my temper:
"How long has she been unconscious?"
Faith shrugged as she mixed the paint, then began pouring it carefully into the tray:
"Not sure, but not long enough to worry. I didn't even hit her that hard, she's just got a glass jaw."
I crouched down and tried to wake her up, but nothing.
"Give me your water bottle."
"Give it to me, Faith!"
She took a sip before she put the cap back on and tossed it down to me. I splashed some on Satsu's face and patted her gently until her eyes started fluttering open. When she finally focused, she grimaced:
"Just stay still for a minute."
Faith's voice drifted down as she resumed her painting:
"Yeah, it's Buffy. You're a real rocket scientist."
Satsu's eyes narrowed as she spit out:
"Nice, Satsu. You'd be dynamite at calling roll."
I looked at Faith and raised my hand in a gesture that hopefully said: 'Shut up before I kill you'.
"Satsu, can you sit up?"
"I think so "
She tried, but couldn't quite manage. I shifted around to help her, lifting her into a half sitting position.
"Wouldn't let her lean on ya, B."
But lean Satsu did, her head resting against the front of my shirt. She was so weak and puny it was almost a turn off. I mean, it was only one punch. It wasn't like Faith had beaten her to a pulp.
She nodded and I brought the water bottle up, trying not to judge:
"Drink some of this, it'll help."
She took slow, tiny sips and I saw Faith rolling her eyes again as she watched.
"Fuck, I dragged her ass into the shade, even propped her head on some tarps. Not like you found her wanderin' the Sahara."
Satsu sat up straighter, although she was still nestled into my breasts.
"When I get up "
"You're goin' right back down, you come anyplace near me."
I still didn't get what was happening. Why was Faith painting? Why wasn't she doing what she loved most in the world teaching her Weapons Class?
There was no time to figure things out. I only had a few minutes until my first meeting and I needed to get Satsu onto her feet and moving. We'd have to sort all of this out later because the knees of my slacks had grass stains on them and I was going to have to change. Terrific, but at least my shirt
I jerked back in horror when I saw that my brand new blouse had white paint smeared all over it. Unfortunately my sudden disappearance cost Satsu her support and she fell backwards with a loud grunt, the water bottle emptying its contents all over her. Faith was busy moving the ladder over in front of an unpainted area and she barely glanced at Satsu.
"Taking yourself down? Guess you're smarter than you look."
Satsu sat up so easily it took me by surprise, and as she turned her head towards Faith, I saw where the paint had come from.
Satsu looked at me:
"Um You have There's a lot of "
"Back of your head makes you look like a skunk, Fashion Plate."
Satsu instantly swiped her hair with her hand and she was furious when she felt that it was wet and all matted down. The sudden quiet was ended by a stream of what seemed to be Japanese curse words as she leapt to her feet, yelling her head off. I just managed to grab her around the waist before she reached the ladder, but Faith never even looked our way. She just stood there painting with long even strokes like nothing out of the ordinary was happening while I hung on for dear life.
"Satsu, calm down."
"Calm down? Calm down? I just spent a million dollars to have my hair..."
Then she was off again, and even though I couldn't understand a word she said, I knew they were some of the filthiest I'd ever heard. She went on forever before she returned to English:
"There is no way that much paint came just from the tarp!"
Faith turned to her, her most smart ass smirk on her face:
"Yeah, well, wasn't sure the roller was on right, so I gave it a coupla practice swipes. Mighta used your head."
Satsu lunged forward again and I had to use both arms to hold her. Even though I could control her body, her mouth was running under her own command:
"Get down here, you fucking bitch! I'm going to kick your "
I pulled her back a safe distance, then put a friendly arm around her shoulders.
"Come on Satsu, come on. You can shower inside and I'll..."
"Just use the hose by the garage to blast her, B."
Satsu pulled loose, but I was standing between her and Faith and she didn't bother trying to get past me.
"Thank you, Buffy, but no. I don't want to be anywhere near her. I'll just head back home."
"Okay, well, at least let me drive you "
Satsu was already on her way and she waved me off:
"I'd rather walk and burn off some energy."
And then she was gone, stomping angrily across the yard as she yelled out to Faith:
"I don't know what your problem is or what you're on, but "
"It's called a ladder, stupid."
Satsu paused and I got ready to run, but she counted to probably eight, controlled herself and kept walking towards Slayer Headquarters with white paint rolling slowly down her neck. I thought of getting into it with Faith, but what exactly would be the point of that? I knew she wouldn't tell me anything and besides, it really had nothing to do with me. They just didn't like each other and after what had just happened, it was crystal clear they were never going to.
I felt bad for Satsu, I'd have to talk to her later, but I was pretty sure she wasn't entirely blameless. Faith said she'd swung first and she never lies about stuff like that. I still didn't understand what Faith was doing here painting, but I didn't have the time to figure it out. My whole outfit was ruined, I had to change, and my groceries were still sitting in the Jeep. I now had maybe five minutes and there was no way
"B, you go change. I can haul the food in and put it away."
"You sure you'll be okay?"
"Five by five."
I headed for the house, Faith's happy whistling following close behind.
Is it possible for the top of someone's head to blow off? I had a feeling I was going to find out in just a few minutes, and it was kind of unfortunate that the head at risk was mine. Although it would at least put me out of my misery.
"I don't have a clue what's wrong with it. If I knew that, I wouldn't have taken it to you and asked you to figure it out!"
Giles looked up, then back at the book in front of him as soon as our eyes met. I knew there was no way he could possibly concentrate on anything except me screaming into his desk phone, but I also knew he was going to pretend just as long as he had to. He wrote down something like it was an important note, but I knew it was probably a lot closer to something from "The Shining":
All screaming Slayer and no work makes Giles a dull boy.
"Next Wednesday? Are you insane?"
Willow peeked over her computer screen, then quickly ducked down out of sight while Xander kept rapid fire flipping through the pages of his book. He was supposed to be researching, but he claimed that the book was all about: "Cooking With Newts" and he didn't exactly seem to be Mr. Paying Attention Guy.
"No, you look, I need my car sometime before the 21st century, so could you "
Faith was sitting with Willow and Xander, her boots on the table right next to the closed book in front of her. She wasn't even pretending to read, instead she was tossing her knife in the air and letting it rotate one more time with each throw, catching it before it could end up somewhere uncomfortable. It was a dangerous game she loved to play no matter how many times Giles yelled at her about it, and so far today, he'd only cleared his throat at her twice. She probably had another couple of minutes left before he...Oh great, now this idiot was a history buff He wishes.
"Yes, okay, so it's already the 21st century, but I don't think that's the important point here. My car's already been there for a century, it's still not running, and you're too busy being a total creep instead of a mechanic, which actually explains a lot, now that I think about it."
Faith saw it coming, and her boots were hitting the floor before he could even get his glasses all the way off. She'd timed it perfectly and was on her way out the door without giving him a chance to say a word.
"Later, guys, G-Man."
She flicked the tip of my nose as she went by and mouthed:
"No, you need to understand. I don't care what you usually do, we give you guys a lot of business and I want No, do not put me on hold again!"
The sounds of Cher asking me if I believed in love were tinny and loud in my ear, and where was Cathy when I needed someone to whale on?
"Hey, Will, what's Kennedy up to?"
Three hours later I found myself sitting in the conference room that overlooked the parking lot and the two lane road that led to and away from Slayer Central. Willow and I were supposed to be coordinating something or combining it or looking for patterns or something important that had to do with actual Slayer stuff, but I was still so mad, I probably had smoke shooting out of my ears. There was no way I could concentrate or let Willow either, and she wasn't even trying to.
She knew me way too well for that, so despite the fact that the promise of colorful graphs and charts and real thinking were literally on the table waiting for her, she was one hundred percent in "Best Friend" mode. She had her "Sympathetic Face" working as she nodded at all the right times, then her "Angry Face" would appear whenever she made a mean comment about the car place. She totally had my back and I loved her for it.
"I don't know what's worse, Will the way most car places treat women or the way they act like you're bothering them if you want your car fixed."
"Yeah, it's kind of a toss-up."
"They so patronizing and such liars 'We're closing early today, ma'am, for the Labor Day Weekend, but I'll have the manager call you first thing on Monday.' I hate them!"
I had to move, so I stood up and walked over to look out the giant picture window at everyone else's working car. So much for doing anything that involved the Jeep over the weekend.
"I wish Rick had never sold out to these idiots. If I take it somewhere else, I'll have to have it towed and then wait all over again for it to get fixed. And it's not like anyone else is going to be any better. Most of them are outright crooks."
Willow got up and stood next to me, her arm around my shoulders:
"Hey, you know what we should do? We should have a girls' night out! Just you, me, and Xander. That'd be fun, come on, Buff."
"Can I drive?"
She was nodding and smiling:
"Yep, and no teasing either."
"Wow, I can't pass that up. Okay, a night out sounds fun and What's that noi "
And then my car blew by, heading in the direction of my house with Faith, her hair flying all around her, pounding on the steering wheel to music that was blasting louder than I'd known my stereo system could even go. We both just stood there not saying a word for almost a minute as the noise faded and calm returned to the road.
"Did you just see Faith go speeding by in my Jeep?"
"Good, because I thought maybe I was hallucinating."
"Nope, she was there."
"Okay then. So I guess we'd better get to it."
"Yep, this data isn't going to collate itself."
By the time I got home, Faith was nowhere in sight, but she had left a helpful note on the driver's seat:
Fixed the prob, no big. Had to hotwire it to get it home, so you'll wanna grab the key back from those fuckheads. You're good to go.
She fixed the car? No big? Then she hotwired it?
I looked under the dash where I've seen people hotwiring stuff on TV, but everything looked normal. A difference I did notice was that the Jeep was a lot cleaner inside and out, so that meant Faith must have had it detailed The empty cans of Diet Coke and the crumpled up receipts I'd tossed on the floor were gone, there was no dirt on the floor mats, and all of the fake leather and plastic was gleaming like new. Even my windows were crystal clear.
I didn't see her again until the next day at lunchtime. I found her in her office pigging out on the biggest roast beef sandwich I'd ever seen since the last one she'd eaten.
"There you are. I wanted to thank you for fixing my car."
Her mouth was full, so she just nodded as I sat down in the chair next to her desk.
"I guess you got it cleaned too?"
She swallowed, then smiled:
"Yeah, place was right across the street and I had some time to kill. Figured after the big runaround, you deserved something nice. 'Sides, Jeep's a classic, gotta keep it lookin' sharp."
"I know it's silly, but having one reminds me of my mom, you know?"
She shook her head:
"Nothing silly about it at all, and comes in handy when ya wanna haul somethin'. I like it."
"Well, that makes two of us. The kids all says it looks like a "Mom" car."
She laughed at that:
"Just established that's exactly what it is. Fuck'em, B. Anybody who met your mom knows that's nothing but a compliment. Want a bite?"
Sometimes I forget just how sweet Faith can be. It's a side of herself she doesn't show enough, although over the years I've been lucky to see it more than most. She was patiently holding her sandwich out to me and I leaned forward and took a bite. It was delicious, really delicious, and when my eyes met hers, I saw she was looking at me almost like she was in a daze. She snapped back with this funny little laugh, then reached out, her thumb wiping some mayo from the corner of my mouth.
"Geez, Blondie, ya born in a barn?"
I wanted to stick my tongue out at her, but with my mouth full I couldn't even come close. She licked her thumb clean, and I could have watched that all day, but there was no time. She tore the sandwich in half:
"Gotta motor, B. See ya later."
She handed me my share and then she was out the door.
"Faith, you forgot your "
She was already gone, so I sat there and ate my sandwich and drank the root beer she'd left behind. The sunlight was shining so pretty through the tree right outside the window, I think it's called "dappled" when it's that way. I never did find out what was wrong with my car, but it didn't really matter. Faith had taken care of it and the mayonnaise at the corner of my mouth. That was good enough for me.
The days rolled on and I loved my new house. The newbies never showed up unannounced, I had everything fixed up just like I liked it, and having some space to breathe made me a lot happier than I'd been in forever. Autumn had come on pretty fast, there was a real coolness in the air that hadn't been there before, and the days were getting shorter which for a Slayer meant the patrols were getting longer. It also meant that we were inching closer to winter and the ten million snowstorms that came with it, but so what? I've learned to love the change of seasons and even though the cold weather and I will never be the best of friends, we get along a lot better than we used to
I wasn't exactly sad to see the summer go, at least not for the most part. The Satsu thing had been resolved and she was now living in Brazil, and while I was glad to hear that she was happy, I didn't miss her at all. It turns out that the house painting disaster put a stake in our relationship before it even got going, and there was no way to pull it out. She certainly tried, I'll give her that, and she picked up pretty quickly right from where we'd left off. The problem was she was still in "Flirtyville", which was only one stop over from "Sexy Town", but I was now living in reality and I was totally turned off by her.
It was a combination of things: How she somehow looked like a little kid playing dress-up when she stood toe to toe with Faith, how she couldn't even take one punch without losing it, and while I'm just fine with milking it a little bit, when you end up ruining my brand new shirt, you're kind of going overboard. Plus, no matter what the ads say, there is no detergent in the world that can remove grass stains when they're ground in like that.
I tried to give her another chance, but she had lost all appeal for me. Now whenever I looked at her, she never looked hot or sexy. Instead she most closely resembled a mewly and weak kitten, very attractive if you were just rescued from the pound, much less so when I'm thinking of having sex with you. I knew I wasn't being totally fair, but the player part of her was just so on display now and it was nothing but icky. She tried to ramp up the seductive moves, but it was hard for me to even politely pay attention to her, let alone feel something sexual. She kept trying, even going so far as to parade her other women in front of me, but I couldn't have cared less who she slept with. I just thought she was acting like a baby, and a really stupid baby at that, especially when you considered that nothing had really happened between us.
"First time for her, B."
"You're the one that got away. You dumped her 'fore she got any, 'sides she's always the one to end it. That shit'll burn you up if you let it."
I was pretty sure I hadn't actually hurt Satsu, so that explanation made a lot of sense to me and no, I didn't ask Faith how she knew any of that with such certainty. So even though it was a no go for us, I tried to make it clear I still respected Satsu as a Slayer and that we could still be friends, just not with benefits. But no, it turns out we couldn't be because Satsu has an ego the size of of something really big, and she couldn't accept that we were never hooking up. Not for a fling, not for casual sex, and not for teaching me the ways of the gays. She was worse than anyone I've ever been involved with and when she finally requested a change of scenery, I told Giles to let her go wherever she wanted to. Hopefully far, far away from Cleveland.
I felt like I'd dodged a real train wreck and I had totally learned my lesson. I am simply not cut out for and never will be cut out for casual sex. It was a huge mistake, so I promised myself "never again", and then I put it behind me and moved on Just as soon as Willow got done yelling at me about it:
"I cannot believe you, Buffy! How could you even think of doing something like that without talking to me first?"
"I told you the last time we had that big talk that I was feeling bored and a little lonely."
I swear her eyes went black for a second.
"Yoo hoo, is anyone home in there? Any and all life altering steps have to be run by best friends first, especially all lesbian ones. Friends and steps."
"But Will, we've talked a lot about me being maybe gay or bi or whatever, so I thought "
"No, generalities, yes. Specifics, no, okay?"
"Okay, but I thought "
She shook her head at me and sort of lost her temper:
"You've just proven that your thinking is crazy! Satsu is the last woman you should ever sleep with except for me because gross. Not that you're gross, because you're so far from anything gross. I mean, I still remember it was 'Wow!' when I first saw you, and that's never changed but we're like sisters and that's beyond gross with the touching, and there's Kennedy and no sex with her either. You, Buffy, not me. Just talk to me first, okay?"
Then she gave me a big hug, said there were no hard feelings, and that was finally the end of the Satsu saga. But I'm still not exactly sure who's supposed to sleep with Kennedy.
I decided to put sex and relationships, gay and straight, on the back burner and I focused on my house. I bought some great furniture for the front porch and it quickly became one of my favorite spots to relax. Xander put in some ceiling fans, and they did a good job of keeping it cool enough so that I could sit out there whenever I wanted to. They also kept the bugs away in the evenings, which made it: "Utterly delightful!", according to Giles, and I had to agree.
I planted a bunch of plants and flowers, I even mowed the grass a couple of times, but then Xander started doing it for me once a week. I guess he must have heard me complaining that I found it boring, even if it was a necessary chore. I didn't have a riding mower, so I used the kind you walk behind. It seemed to take forever and I hated it, but I wasn't expecting him to do it for me. I was just venting.
He's sweet like that though, so when I finally managed to bump into him, I gave him a great big hug which he returned at full "Xander" force. He is hands down the best hugger ever made.
"Hi. I wanted to thank you. It's really sweet."
"You know you're always welcome."
I smiled and as I started to walk away, he asked me an important question:
"So what did I do?"
"Among many, many things, the yard mowing every week. I would have thanked you sooner, but since you weren't here "
It was hard to know how to classify it. Was it a "Blonde" moment or a "Buffy" one? How could I choose? I went for the special combo, the "Twofer Pack" because it was just that stupid.
It was also really obvious who my mower was the second I took a second to think about it. Giles was out of the running before it even started because he'd be lying there dead in his tweed. Andrew would have mown off his own feet. Will was a total "no way" unless she "Sabrina-ed" it and she doesn't use magic like that anymore. Kennedy would have cut a giant "F.U." in the middle of the yard. Rona, Vi, and Cho-Ahn would only do it if I asked them to, and none of the younger girls would even think about coming here, let alone breaking into the garage and mowing the grass without getting permission first. In triplicate. I was also pretty positive that Satsu wasn't commuting once a week to help me out, so that left only one person.
I found her in one of the training rooms working the big bag. I just leaned in the doorway for a couple of minutes and watched her. She had on a pair of light gray sweats and a sleeveless navy blue tee shirt that was cut off at her midriff. Sweat ran along her arms and some more trickled down her stomach where it was stopped at her waistband. Her muscles were on display and her hair, despite being pulled back into a high ponytail, still had a few strands stuck to her neck. I so wished I had time to do it with her sparring, but I had a class to teach in five minutes.
"Faith, do you have a second?"
She hit the bag one last time, then came over to me with a smile on her face.
"What's up, B?"
"Are you touching me?"
What did I just say?
"I mean, my yard."
"Yeah, if you call 'mowing' touching."
She started unwrapping her hands and I reached out to take over.
"If ya don't stay on top of it, it grows too high."
I nodded, one hand free as I switched to her other one. She had such pretty hands. They were strong, but they could be gentle too, and I needed to pay attention to what she was saying.
"On top is good. I like it."
She laughed and took the used tape from my hands:
"Me too. Guess it'd be a real battle then."
Her eyes looked strange. They were the same perfect clear brown, but there was something in them I didn't usually see. Maybe it was just because I was so close to her, but it looked like she was waiting no, like she was anticipating something great.
"Why would we battle?"
Right after I said that, I got it, but she'd already moved on:
I blushed, thinking she was keeping score with me.
"The tape in the basket. Settle down, Twinkie. So yeah, I've been mowing your yard."
"Thank you, I appreciate it, but why are you "
She walked over to the fridge and pulled out a bottled water. She held it up and shook it at me, waiting for an answer.
"No, but is there any "
The can of Diet Coke was sailing my way before I finished asking.
"Look B, you got the new place and I'm happy for you. It's pretty sweet, but there's a lot to do, so I figured I'd help out a little. 'Sides, I like yard work. Gives me time to think, plus I can work up a real sweat. I just pop over sometimes at lunch, no big."
She drained her water, tossed the bottle into the recycled bin, and headed past me for the door.
"I'd better shake it. Gotta shower and see G-Man about something."
Her hand squeezed mine as she went by:
I just stood there, my hand and everything else tingling. My thoughts consisted of two things at that point: "Ungh" and what had just happened? I felt pretty unsettled, but I was also smiling as I walked to class. It had kind of been the Summer of Confusion, but for the most part it was nothing but great, and I was hoping that the fall would be just as spectacular.
It certainly got off to a perfect start: beautiful leaves, really pretty sweaters I no longer had to keep in storage, the delicious combination of hot cider and plain cake doughnuts, watching "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" with Willow and Xander, pulling out my favorite colored blanket to cover up with while I sat on the front porch swing, arranging pumpkins on the steps and by the door, snuggling up in bed with no place to go and the wind outside being all windy and blustery, and Faith dropping by more and more often until she was a downright regular.
There's not much you can do when somebody makes you go all tingly except to try and see more of them. I wasn't sure what it all meant or how and why it was happening now, but it's not like I've ever minded Faith's company. She doesn't usually make herself available, she's kind of a loner really, but not now and not with me. Part of that could be because she's always at my house now raking leaves, drinking a beer while she sits on my front porch steps, eating dinner with me, maybe even watching a movie before heading back home. I suppose visiting and training the dogs had a lot to do with it too.
That's right, I've got a dog. Plural. Two mixed breeds.
"They're mixed up breeds, B. They call'em 'mutts'."
Mutts who are so cute I can barely stand it. I'd been talking about getting a dog for months, but I kept talking myself out of it by listing everything that could go wrong.
"Sure, Buff I guess a tree could fall on the house and crush your dog."
"Yeah, Will, and don't forget the potential for an alien abduction."
I gave him my best "Buffy" look, but he seemed completely unintimidated.
"Fine, mock all you like, but I don't have even the first clue how to train a dog. He'd probably just tear everything up, then run away because he hates me anyway."
"I believe the question in that scenario is: Would he leave a 'Dear Fido' letter and sign it with a paw print?"
Now he got a full on "Slayer" glare and that seemed to work a little bit better. Willow was shaking her head at him and trying not to laugh:
"You're saying it backwards. Buffy would be the one to leave the 'Dear Fido' letter, he'd leave her a 'Dear Buffy' one."
"You guys? When I said: 'Mock all you like', you do realize that was sarcasm, right?"
"Sorry, but Xander's got a point. I mean, don't you just have to take a leap of faith here?"
I knew I was looking at them like they were crazy:
"I killed my goldfish when I was seven and I've never been able to keep a plant going for over a month. I don't think I can leap that far."
Willow patted my hand:
"I think when you're under ten years old, your goldfish has a life expectancy of five minutes. As for the plants, you just forgot they were there. I think a dog would make sure you noticed him."
"I don't know, I'm just not sure."
Xander knew what that meant and he looked crushed:
"But Buff, a little doggie would be so fun to have around, and his Uncle Xander would bring him the very best in chew toys."
Willow looked like she was going to cry:
"Yeah, and what about all of those long walks in the woods, playing fetch, and getting snuggles any time you need one?"
"I know, but I don't think now is the right time. Maybe next year."
Nobody said it, but I'm sure it was obvious that we were all going to spend a lifetime waiting for a year that would never come. It was pretty depressing, so that was why when I was raking leaves in my front yard one morning and yes, a heavily treed yard is very scenic, but every one of those leaves has to come down and does forever and ever I did an actual double take at what I saw.
Faith was strolling down the lane with two puppies on leashes and when the dogs eventually spotted me, they got so excited they started pulling crazy hard, actually choking themselves. Faith tried to control them, but she finally gave up and headed towards me at a fast paced jog. When they were just a few feet away, I went down on my knees and Faith let go of the leashes.
They were all over me and I couldn't pet them fast enough. Pretty soon, I couldn't hold my position either, and they knocked me flat on my back and attacked. I couldn't stop laughing, they couldn't stop licking, and it was nothing but fun. Finally they calmed down, but I stay sprawled out on the ground trying to catch my breath as one or the other would come in for the occasional swipe. For the most part they seemed happy to sit on my chest and fight for balance, and my arms came up to hold them in place. We got everyone situated, but then Faith decided to sit down and the whole thing started up again only on her. When the dust settled, one dog was with her and the other was back on me.
"Faith, what is this?"
She looked a little nervous, but she got right to it:
"Okay, just hear me out, okay?"
I nodded and she kept going.
"I know you wanted a dog pretty bad, and I heard you saying how you were worried you couldn't handle it and that he'd get lonely."
"I still feel like that."
My puppy wagged his tail at hearing my voice, his whole body squirming with the movement.
"So I was at the pound the other day and I spotted these two."
I looked at her and I had to laugh.
"You just happened to be at the pound? Were you just passing by or did you get lost or "
She actually blushed a little.
"Anyways, I started thinking and if you don't wanna, I can find somebody else to take'em, so no pressure at all. For real."
I sat up, bringing my dog with me. I sat him down on the ground and he instantly started sniffing all over the place. His partner began wriggling until Faith sat him down too, and then just like that, they were under the small pile of leaves I'd raked together with just their tails in sight.
"They're adorable, of course I want them, but aside from the loneliness part of it which you've totally eliminated, I still don't know how to handle them. I mean, they have to be trained and they have to "
"Had all their shots and I've started training them already."
"Where? How long have you had them?"
She clapped her hands and both puppies ran to her, falling over each other on the way and making the journey take twice as long.
"In my room for a coupla weeks. I wanted to make sure they weren't stupid or mean or something."
I couldn't help but laugh.
"Faith, they don't have a mean bone in their bodies. In fact, I'm not sure they even have any bones at all with the way they're falling all over the place."
"Yeah, they're real clowns. Look, I've been working with them a little. I got this book on training and it's not even that hard, 'specially if the dog's smart. Just takes some time every day to teach the basics, and they wanna learn, B."
I sat there looking at her sitting on the ground with her jean jacket unsnapped, two puppies jumping around her as they tried to catch the falling leaves. A leaf stuck in her hair and the slightly larger dog leapt, taking it and a couple of strands along with it. He ran off at top speed, his buddy right behind him growling and barking. She looked hopeful, but unsure, like a little kid asking if she could have a dog, and I was sure she was going to tell me I could keep her allowance forever and I would never, ever have to buy her another birthday present as long as she lived.
"They already know not to go in the house, although they still have an accident sometimes, and they both come when you call and Don knows how to stay."
"You've already named them?"
"Yeah, but just 'cause the book said you gotta to train'em. You can change them if you wanna, it should only take a week or two before they get used to the switch, maybe less if you come up with names that sound like the old ones."
Don and his mystery companion were back, leafless and fascinated with my left shoe.
"So the scruffy black and brown one is 'Don' and the other one is?"
She looked nervous again:
"I tried to give them normal names, but everything sounded so wimpy, so I ended up with 'Don' and 'Corleone' 'Corley' for short."
Both dogs ran to her when they heard their names, and I felt like the sun was shining just a little bit brighter and the wind was blowing just a little bit warmer. It was without a doubt the cutest thing I'd ever heard. My two dogs were the head of the Mafia.
"I love those names, Faith."
"You do? Was pretty sure you were gonna hate'em."
I scooped up the closest dog, his light brown fur all soft and the big fluffy white patch on his chest accessorizing perfectly with the white circle around his left eye. I held him up and when I smiled, he licked my cheek sixty thousand times before I could turn him around to face her.
"Well, just look at him. Is this not obviously a 'Corleone'? They're perfectly named and they're adorable."
Her smile was enormous and way past adorable.
"That's great, B. So you wanna keep them?"
"Of course I do! You'll help me, right?"
"Yeah, absolutely! We'll have'em trained in no time, and they'll keep each other company when you're not home. I got all their stuff back at my place, didn't wanna bring it here like I was pushing them on ya."
We both got to our feet.
"Thank you, Faith. I really wanted a dog, but I was just scared to do it on my own. Having us both look after them is the perfect solution."
The dogs went crazy when we hugged, I'm surprised they didn't throw confetti on us.
"Want something to eat? I could make us pancakes and bacon."
"Sounds good, I'm starving, B. Come on ya little moochers. Wait'll ya see your new digs."
So just like that I had my dog and he came as a pair. Faith was right, training them wasn't hard at all. We worked with them every day and before we knew it, they had all of the basic commands down and even some more complicated ones like: "Bang!".
Faith, of course, had taught them that one, and it was so cute and so funny. They'd be playing in the yard, we'd be watching them from the porch, and then Faith would yell out: "Bang!" and both dogs would instantly drop dead on the ground. It only made it funnier that even though they were both perfectly still, their tails were wagging at a hundred miles an hour. Then she'd whistle and they'd race over to us, hugs and kisses all around before they headed back out to get into whatever trouble they could find.
They already knew not to leave the yard and that the woods were off limits unless we were with them. They minded very well, and aside from the occasional incident like when Corley chewed up a pair of my shoes or Don started hiding Faith's leather jacket, then pulling it out to sleep with after she'd gone back to her place, they were no trouble at all. They fit right in like they'd always been there and I couldn't imagine how I'd ever lived without them. Willow, Xander, and Dawn all fell in love at first sight, and they spoiled them rotten. All in all it was a dog's life and it looked like a pretty great one.
As for what was happening with Faith, I didn't really know, not exactly. We were friends, but there was something else there now. I mean, I was always happy to see Willow, but my whole body didn't come alive and I didn't check out my hair before I went outside to greet her. I didn't get giddy whenever I heard Xander's motorcycle roaring up the driveway not that he has one, but still I know I wouldn't.
We had always patrolled together a lot, but now whenever we went out, there wasn't even a question we were going together. We always came back to my house afterwards to unwind and she started sleeping over sometimes, preferring the couch to the spare bedroom, and I never got tired of seeing her and Don and Corley all squeezed in on the sofa.
I will always remember how she looked when I gave her a key. It was like I'd just told her she'd won the lottery.
"Well, how many more times can you pick the lock before we have to buy a new one?"
"Man, this is Thank you, Buffy."
She hugged me and I had no idea why I got all teared up. The dogs again with the confetti throwing and when we let go of each other, she bent down to show them:
"Check it out, fellas. Got my own key!"
There was no downside at all to giving Faith full access. She was definitely not a key abuser and she always knocked and waited for me to let her in when she knew I was home. She was very respectful and considerate; really Faith was just about perfect when it came to everything. That's what made her mistake so noticeable, that and the fact that she saw me completely naked.
I'd been sparring with a few of the girls and when the session was finished, I went to my office to grab some clean clothes and take a quick shower. I had nothing, not one piece of clothing in my little closet. I wasn't going to be all stinky and sweaty for the rest of the day, even though my only plan was to finish up the paperwork I'd been avoiding all week. I stopped by Giles' office to tell him I was heading home for about an hour and he told me he'd hold down the fort. I decided I might as well make it a full workout and I jogged home at a fast pace.
The dogs greeted me like they hadn't seen me in years instead of the ninety minutes it had actually been. Since I was already in need of a major clean-up, I went outside to play with them for awhile, and when we all got tired of that, we went inside and got a drink. They thought we should start playing "Ball" in the house, so I threw it a few times, then headed into my room to take a shower. The hot water felt like heaven and I spent a longer than usual time, just letting the heat take away any aches and pains. Maria had scored a direct hit on my shoulder when she'd tried to sneak up behind me, but I'd made her pay with an elbow to the ribs that she'd definitely be feeling for the rest of the day.
I finally got out, even though the hot water was still bringing the heavenly heat. Xander had insisted on installing an extra large water heater, and it had already come in handy more times than I could count. I dried off, then wrapped the towel around my head, feeling loose, unsore, and ready for the rest of my day. I was a little hungry and I knew exactly what I wanted. I opened the bathroom door and strolled out, my mouth already watering as I thought of the pumpkin shaped cookies Willow had baked.
They were just sugar cookies, but she used orange sugar and the pumpkins had different faces and they were seriously addictive. Faith loved them even more than I did, and I actually had to hide some so that I could be sure to get a few before she devoured them all. Clearly the kitchen towel drawer wasn't that good of a hiding place, because my cookies were now on a plate alongside a giant glass of milk sitting on the bar in front of Faith who was sitting on the barstool staring at naked standing me.
It was silent for a long time, even the dogs didn't make a sound, and Faith's eyes were all over me. Mine were all over her too, which made no sense since she'd taken the more conventional route and decided to keep her clothes on. She just kept staring, but then her eyes finally met mine and she snapped back to politeness and looked away.
"Sorry, B. I thought you were at work. Just came by to check on the guys."
I took the towel off my head and wrapped it around my body, trying to act like everything was normal.
"It's okay, my bad. Are those Willow's cookies?"
She hadn't looked at me and instead was handing me a paper towel.
I was so confused until I saw there were two cookies inside. It made me laugh because I thought she was giving me a paper towel to cover up with.
"So I guess my secret hiding place isn't so secret anymore."
"Never was, just let ya think so."
We couldn't seem to say anything else and it was a really awkward silence. My appetite for food was gone, and I stepped closer to set the cookies down on the bar which brought me right next to her. I was nervous, it wasn't all that long ago I'd ruled out casual sex as an option for me, but I wanted her right there and then, to hell with the consequences.
I knew she didn't do relationships, she was the original: "Get Some, Get Gone" girl, but I still wanted her. It was scary because we had such a wonderful friendship that had only gotten better over the years, and I didn't want to risk losing her for any reason. But God, she was just so beautiful, so alive, so there in ways I didn't even understand, and it was like a lifetime of mixed signals had turned out to be the most important relationship of my life.
But it takes two to tango and I was just getting ready to step back and run to my bedroom. We could just pretend this moment had never happened and put it behind us.
"Your eyes are the most incredible things I've ever seen. Far away they're wicked pretty, but up close, Buffy, they're fucking amazing."
Her hand caressed my cheek, her fingers brushing against the corner of my mouth, and that was that. My hand went around to the back of her head and I pulled her forward until our lips met. Soft and firm, she kissed me back without any hesitation, and I suddenly remembered what real sexual attraction was all about. If I'd had the spare time, I could have counted all of my cells because I swear I could feel each and every one of them singing and dancing. Confetti throwing, optional.
I'm not sure whose tongue went first, but when they got going, so did I. I stepped closer, my body fitting between her legs, her hair wound all around my hands. She tasted like cookies and Faith, and I definitely wanted to get Willow's recipe. My towel wasn't on right, it was crooked and exposed at least half of me, and Faith groaned when I brushed up against her shirtfront. She deepened the kiss and I wondered how I could get closer to her. Maybe if I somehow let myself melt, which should have been possible since my body temperature was off the charts hot.
She was being more practical about things and her hand slid up the back of my head, her fingers magically gliding through the wet tangles like they weren't even there. Something about the feeling of her against my scalp made me shiver and moan, which in turn made her increase her grip on me. She lifted me and my legs wrapped around her as my towel dropped to the floor.
We never stopped kissing and she made it into my bedroom without looking or falling over one of the dogs. I felt her leg kick out behind her as my door slammed shut, and then we were down on my bed. I was glad I'd left in too much of hurry to make it because the feeling of the smooth sheets on my back was adding to my pleasure. She began kissing my neck, her mouth sliding down until she couldn't go any lower.
I knew what she wanted, but I still wouldn't relax my legs. I liked the feeling of her right there, and I smiled at her:
"I'm not done kissing you yet."
She instantly returned her lips to mine, and after a couple of minutes I let her go on her way. She went so slowly down my body, taking her sweet time to reach our preferred destination, and the timeline of events gets kind of shaky here for me because I was too busy having the sexual experience of my life to focus on the specifics. What I do know for sure without any doubt is that Faith is definitely the woman I should be having sex with.
It was wonderful and I was so busy being ravaged and ravaging right back, I couldn't really tell if I was coming or going. Well, I knew I was coming, but That expression apparently only works for doing things other than sex.
I always thought I'd be really nervous the first time I had sex with a woman, but it wasn't like that at all. I was with Faith, and I'm so comfortable with her when we're not having sex, this didn't seem to make any difference to me. Maybe I did something stupid or looked funny or some other embarrassing thing happened, but I never noticed. She made me feel so good, and I didn't have time to think about anything else.
Besides, I've always been a quick learner and I like sex and usually go at it with a lot of gusto. In my experience, enthusiasm pretty much compensates for a lack of skills in other areas, and it's not like I've never done it before with anyone. Although it did take me forever to get her clothes off, but that was because she was too interested in doing stuff to me and kept putting me off.
"Faith, you still have your boots on."
"Pretend they're high heels."
"Okay, yes, your shirt's off, but your pants "
"Yours are off though, let's focus on that."
I finally had to put my foot down to get anywhere.
"Take off your pants now or I'm going to rip them off."
"Yeah, in just a sec 'cause "
The tearing noise made it clear my waiting period was over.
"B, I loved these pants!"
But the smile on her face told me she loved me getting all bossy and aggressive more, and her boots hit the floor in seconds. Also, she was right it was a battle, and I fought for and won my turn. And I made good use of my time.
"Bear with me, I don't exactly know what to do."
"Whatever you wanna, B. I'll like it all."
So I did and she did, and we did it for hours. When it was over, she managed to pull my blanket up over us. I was still holding her, my head on her chest and my leg across hers. I didn't know how long it was going to last before she left, but I wanted to get every minute I could out of her. My hand stroked along her skin, every once in awhile getting caught on her breast, and then of course I'd have to make sure it understood just how fond of it I'd become.
"So B, it was okay for you?"
"The sex. I mean, with it being your first time and all."
I laughed, then lifted my head to kiss her mouth. As I slid back into my snuggling position, I kissed her breast for good measure.
"'Okay' is not what it was, nowhere near. It was so fantastically amazing that on the new scale I still have to invent, it was off the scale and can't be measured. It was the absolute best ever and if I would have had any idea it was going to be like that, I would have done it years ago."
I could feel her big exhale of relief.
"Good, I didn't want you being disappointed. Tough sometimes when you build something up in your head, then the real deal never stands a chance."
I snuggled in closer, rubbing my hair against her as I sort of slinked all over her.
"Well, this time the fantasy never had a chance. The real deal was way better."
She hugged me and kissed the top of my head.
"That's great, B, and you were fucking incredible. Can hardly believe you've never done a girl before."
"Nope, you're my first."
"Lucky me, 'cause that was Let ya know if I ever come up with the right word for it."
I lifted up slightly to look over at the clock on my nightstand.
"Okay, I guess Giles has figured out I'm not coming back to work today. What about you?"
"I'm off all day, that's why I was here. Was gonna take the dogs on a big walk, but first I wanted to finish off the cookies."
She kissed my head again, then eased me off to the side. What was she Why was she getting up? Okay, she's just going to the bathroom. That's allowed and means she's totally still here.
"B, you mind if I shower?"
Mind? No, I didn't, especially since I was getting up to join her.
"No, feel free."
I heard the water start up, but I waited until I heard the shower door open and close before I followed her in.
She had shampoo all foamed up on her head and the look of surprise on her face made me laugh. It was like I was the last person she expected to see.
"Just me, F."
I kissed her, my hands caressing her head as I did and then I let them glide along her neck and shoulders to her breasts. When I got there, I shoved her back against the tile. I loved how she closed her eyes and moaned, and I knew right then what I wanted my new ringtone to be. I took my time and made sure her breasts were so squeaky clean, you could eat off of them. When I was positive I'd done my job, I slid my hands back up to her head, lifting her hair and slipping my fingers underneath to massage her scalp. Her legs buckled, so I leaned in closer to help hold her body up with mine.
"Mmm I love washing hair."
I leaned in, my mouth at her ear:
"It's just so relaxing, don't you think?"
She tried to answer, but when she felt one of my hands sudsing up her other hair, well, talking was not something she could handle at the moment. I didn't mind, I had plenty to say and plenty to do.
"You just relax, F. I'll handle this."
And I did, although I suppose it would be more accurate to say I pretty much "manhandled" her with a woman's touch. She came three times, and no, it just doesn't get any better for a lesbian newcomer. Pun unintentionally intended. She eventually returned the favor once we got out of the shower, because I owned that shower and didn't feel like giving up control while we were in there.
The more I did, the more I wanted to do, and the Alpha Slayer part of me just took over and wasn't interested in sharing or playing fair. She didn't seem to mind at all, but once we cleared the bathroom door, she repaid my attentions with her own special enthusiasm, and I have to say I had no idea that a could be used to She really knows how to use a lot of different things around the house.
We ended up back in bed and stayed there for what I hoped would be all day and night, but I knew that wasn't going to happen. I tried not to react when we finally got to the sophisticated and grown up part of the encounter.
"So, guess I oughta motor. Hope I got some extra pants here."
"You do, they're in the dryer."
"Cool. Remind me to follow orders better next time. Can't have you tearing the shit outta everything I own."
Next time? So even though she was leaving, a "next time" was on her agenda, and I couldn't help but smile at that huge piece of information. She used the bathroom again, then walked over to the door. When she turned back to look at me I wanted her all over again, and anybody would if they saw someone looking at them like that. Then she smiled at me, her regular one.
"Can't believe they didn't knock down the door on us. Ready?"
I made sure the blankets were covering me and then I nodded. She opened the door and they came barging in, leaping onto the bed while I tried to evade them.
"Hi, guys. Okay, calm down. Yes, I love you too."
Faith was already at the back door and when she whistled, they ran to her at full indoor speed.
"Little mobsters been good while we were busy? Huh? You been good?"
I heard her laugh at their whines and growls that obviously explained to her just how good they'd been, then came the sound of her getting them a couple of doggie treats. It never took them long to devour anything, and in just a few seconds she was opening the backdoor to let them out.
"Stay in the yard."
When she came back into the bedroom, her jeans were already on, although she hadn't buttoned them all the way up. She slipped into her long sleeved Celtics tee shirt, tucked it in, and then finished the job. She was all safe and secure, and she must have felt me staring at her because she started smiling before she even looked over at me.
"Got plans, B, or just gonna hang in bed the rest of the day?"
"I'm not sure. So far things haven't gone exactly like I planned."
She grabbed her boots and sat down in the chair next to the bed to yank them on.
"Yeah, big surprise for me too."
She stood up, ready to go and looking just like she always did.
"Okay, well uh See ya later then."
"Are you coming for dinner?"
She finally looked rattled, and why that made me so happy, I didn't know. Maybe because I felt like my whole life had changed, but at the same time I knew it hadn't and it wasn't going to. The least she could do was look a little different, if only for a few seconds. Casual sex sucks so much on so many different levels, why in the world would anyone want it that way?
"Yeah, if ya want me to. Thought maybe you got your fill already."
That made us both smile and when she walked over to shake my hand, we went crazy laughing and the tension between us disappeared.
"So I'll see ya the usual time. I'll bring the food."
I was so relieved that our friendship was okay.
"I'll see you in a few hours then."
Then she left. She called the dogs, let them back inside, and I heard her bike start up. I don't know what she was doing, but she just kept idling for so long I got up to check. The dogs didn't know what was going on either, their heads were cocked in confusion that Faith was still there, but out of reach. They followed me when I went into laundry room so I could peek out the window at her.
She was just sitting there staring off into space and I still didn't understand. She brushed off her cheek, did this big sigh, then finally took off. I lost sight of her pretty quickly, but the sound of her bike lasted longer and I listened until I couldn't hear it anymore. I grabbed a clean towel from the basket on top of the dryer and wrapped it around myself as I sat down on the floor. Don and Corley sat with me, one on each side, and I wondered if I looked as sad as they did.
Okay, sure, I'd gone into this with my eyes wide open, and all things, in fact any things considered, I'd much rather be having a casual relationship with Faith than anyone else. I'd known before I kissed her that casual flings were all she ever did, so I couldn't complain about it now. I didn't even realize I was crying until the dogs got upset.
I wasn't exactly sobbing, but there was a pretty steady stream rolling down my cheeks. It was a ridiculous reaction, especially for such a sophisticated woman, but if nothing else had been made clear to me, it was the fact that I was not that kind of woman and I didn't want to be. All I wanted was to be me, and me was crying because I was as far from casual as a person could get. I was in love.
The next several days were totally normal days. I went to work, came home, shared tension filled dinners with Faith, went on tension filled patrols with Faith, and watched tension filled television with Faith, all while trying my best not to have sex with her. Not even with my eyes. The "normal, tension filled, not having sex of any kind with Faith" days turned into two weeks, and then it was the Thanksgiving Break.
Most of the girls and staff went home, but some people had nowhere to go, and so we always celebrated the holidays right here at Slayer Headquarters. It was fun and festive and afterwards, Faith and I came home. I'd made my usuals earlier in the day: dressing, chocolate pie, and this fruit salad that Xander in particular loved. I'd left the kitchen in a big mess and Faith had offered to help me cleanup.
She let the dogs out and I bent over to put the leftovers away in the refrigerator. When I straightened up and closed the door, she was right behind me.
"You smell so good."
"I smell like turkey and sweet potatoes."
Her lips were on my neck and I must have had a million goose bumps bumping and goosing up all over me. Her voice was so husky, it was nothing but sex. Her arms were wrapped around me and she was so close, I was sure I couldn't slip a piece of paper between us.
"Maybe, but you also smell like 'Buffy". Thinkin' that's what's got me revved."
She roughly untucked my shirt and slid her hand up under it until she was holding my breast. I loved the feel of her squeezing me and the little growl of irritation she made because I was wearing a bra.
"What about it, B? Wanna?"
I turned around and my kiss answered her. She took me right there on the floor, hard and fast, and as corny as it sounds, I was definitely giving thanks. I'd been so wound up for so many days, I pretty much exploded in about five seconds, then I did it again. Her laugh, all low and intimate made me smile:
"So, holidays get ya hot. Can't wait for Arbor Day now."
How it could be comfortable lying on a cold kitchen floor, I didn't know. We still had our clothes on, they were just unbuttoned and unzipped in strategic places, her weight was fully on top of me, her breath was blowing on my neck, and I could have happily stayed right where I was for a year.
I noticed I needed to clean off the refrigerator grill and I could hear the dogs running up on the porch. There was no snow, but it was chilly out, and they probably wanted to come inside. Of course the leftovers we'd brought home with us might have factored in too.
Faith must have thought the same thing because she kissed me on the neck, then started to move.
"Better let'em in."
She got up and held out a hand to help me up. When I was on my feet, she yanked me close and kissed me again. Right as our lips met, Don howled like he was being murdered and we both laughed, ending the kiss.
"Oh my God, he's such a drama queen."
"Pipe down, I'm comin'!"
She opened the door and they barreled in, running straight for their bowls. When they discovered them empty, they looked at the bar where some food should be, then at us like they couldn't believe what wasn't happening. They both sat down, staring at the refrigerator, then back at us like we'd betrayed them.
"Okay, new Olympic event: Synchronized Guilt Mooching."
"I've got an idea, F."
I leaned in to kiss her and she kissed back perfectly.
"Why don't we get washed up, then you can start a fire and I'll make us all some leftovers."
"Am starving and they're gonna kill us in a minute if we don't fork over the chow."
"You guys want some turkey?"
I swear it sounded exactly like Don said: "Duh", but Faith said it was just a muffled yawn.
We ate dinner and watched the evening game. Faith had taught me the basics over the last few months, so while I couldn't be called a football expert by any means, at least I knew enough to know what was going on and what the teams were trying to do. To my surprise, I actually liked watching, and the fact that she loved it so much only made it more fun for me.
I was sitting stretched out on the floor, leaning back against the sofa with Corley resting his head on my thigh as he slept. Faith was sprawled on the couch, the top button of her jeans undone and Don sleeping on her feet. She played with my hair as we watched the game, but by halftime she was out cold. I wasn't surprised. She'd eaten more turkey than I thought it was possible for a human being to eat, and whatever's supposed to be in it that makes you sleepy had knocked her right out. I studied her and she looked so pretty in the glow of the firelight and the flickering of the TV screen. She's definitely the most beautiful woman I've ever seen, everything about her is just right, absolute perfection.
I sat there looking at her wondering how long I'd been in love with her. It seemed like forever, I couldn't really pinpoint it, but I knew for sure that I was. She makes my heart speed up, she makes it stop. Just the sound of her voice makes me happy, the way she treats the dogs, the way she laughs, the way she's such a smart ass. The other day she was deliberately aggravating Giles and her eyes were so sparkly and happy, they made me want to jump her right there.
"Don't mind us, Giles. I just have to have casual sex with Faith right now; it doesn't mean anything."
The fire was burning down low and the game was a blow out, so I let the dogs out and put the dishes in the dishwasher. I got a blanket from my bedroom and carefully covered her up, then kissed her on the forehead as softly as I could. I didn't want to wake her because I wanted her to stay the night, even if it wasn't in my bed all snuggled up with me.
I debated whether I should turn off the TV, and then I decided to risk it. She thankfully never moved a muscle, not even when I let the dogs back in and they immediately got up on the couch with her. I saw there was a tiny sliver of space I could have probably squeezed into, but I thought it would be best to sleep in my own room.
I got ready for bed and when I came out of the bathroom, I saw Corley waiting.
"What? Did you feel sorry for me or did you just draw the short straw?"
His tail thumped against the mattress and I got under the covers with a sigh and turned out the light.
"At least she's here, right, boy?"
His tail thumped again and I patted his head.
When I woke up the next morning, both dogs were with me and Faith was gone. There was a note:
Sorry I zonked out. Breakfast in the oven. Gotta make your own toast.
Another week went by and I was miserable. No one would know that though because I was putting on an award winning performance, day in and day out. Everything was just fine, nothing to see here. I still had dinner with Faith, we still patrolled and watched TV together, we even had amazing sex again that was all intense, but oh so casual. Will and I went clothes shopping, Dawnie and I went to the movies, and Xander just came over one night and hung around with me and Faith. So yep, it was all nothing but normal Until I had lunch with Willow and Xander.
We were in the mostly deserted lunchroom, finishing up our meal and just shooting the breeze. Serving time was now over and the kitchen was shut down until dinner, but the vending machines were still open and people were zipping in and out to grab a quick snack. The three of us were sitting across the room, well out of the way of the heavy traffic areas, and both of my tablemates kept giving me the look.
It was the one that had been given back and forth over the years in every possible combination between us, and I knew I was only putting off the inevitable. Still, I wasn't a quitter, so although the look had been coming my way for at least the last twenty minutes, I'd been successfully deflecting all of their attempts for at least the last twenty-one. The problem with that strategy is it only works when the people you use it on aren't your best friends who know you inside and out.
And yes, they were right. I was a little bit cranky, which explains why I kept wanting to break Xander's arm just because he kept taking my fries. That made absolutely no sense he's been stealing my food since I met him. It was a known thing, and if I ever really wanted fries for myself, I knew to always order some extra. But today he was on my nerves and it was just stupid of me. I kept smiling though, I should have been an actress.
Willow finally got fed up with us pretending:
"So, Buff "
"Why the big grumpies at almost Christmas time?"
Xander took a couple more fries and I just slid the plate over to him. I wasn't eating them anyway, so I figured he might as well keep his arm out of reach, just to be safe.
"No reason. I guess I'm just worried about my trip."
Willow wasn't buying it at all.
"Oh come on, it's just for two days and you're going with Vi, which makes it practically a vacation. And you haven't even mentioned putting up Christmas decorations."
Xander polished off the fries and flexed his arm muscle:
"I'm ready and willing, Buffster! Besides being a big strong man, I've got the electrical skills that will have your house on fire in no time! In a safe way. Fire bad, Christmas lights pretty."
I nodded and smiled, it wasn't like my love of Christmas decorations wasn't well known. Everyone knew I'd had big decorating plans from the time I moved in, but I just didn't feel all cheerful and festive like I should. Instead of confessing the truth, I went for the Oscar:
"And I can't wait! We'll plan it all out when I get back, it'll be so much fun!"
That's what it's like with Willow. How did she know to use that exact word exactly then?
"Now see, that's what makes you the smart one, Will. I would have gone with 'Grinch', but that's not quite right, is it? Technically she's not poo-pooing Christmas, she's just being a grouch in general and trying to hide it from us."
"Xander, I'm not "
"No, he's right, Buffy. You can tell us now or you can tell us in a minute, but "
"There's nothing to tell. I'm just in a bit of a funk and "
Xander started rolling up his sleeves, his expression sad.
"It's a shame you've forced us to get rough. Zap her one, Will!"
I rolled my eyes and Willow put her hand on mine:
"I'm not going to zap her because I know Buffy knows she's hurting our feelings by taking this approach. Just tell us, Buff, then I won't have to whip up some tears."
I gave up:
"I slept with Faith."
Xander reacted exactly the same way he had when I told him I was considering sleeping with Satsu, and I finally got it.
"You thought I meant Faith back then?"
He leaned over and hugged me, and he smelled like catsup.
"Of course I did. Who else would you sleep with?"
"Well, Satsu was in the running and as I recall, you were backing me up."
He shook his head:
"No, Satsu was never in the running, she was all wrong for you. And I was definitely backing you up, just not the way you thought I was."
"What's that supposed to "
Willow hugged all of the air out of me, and I was nothing but relieved and surprised that she wasn't mad at me. Again I hadn't consulted her and I'd been warned about this sort of behavior the last time. But instead of being furious with me and turning me into a rat, she was all smiles:
"Look at you all gayed up! Welcome to the club! Where's the details, not that kind, but at least some of those and Okay, what's going on because you do not look like someone who's gay at all."
"That's because I'm not happy. I'm about as far from happy as a girl can get."
Xander blew right past my confession:
"I can't believe Faith hasn't said a word to me today. You'd think after making wild monkey love all night "
"It didn't happen last night. The first time was a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving."
Oh boy, here was the anger.
"What? Buffy, how could you not tell us? Or at least me, the lesbian friend, remember?"
"That was like twenty-two forty-one Wait, seven times It was a lot of days ago, Buffy!"
I know! Stop yelling at me!"
We were quiet, each lost in our own thoughts for a few seconds, and it's really mind blowing that's all the time it takes to majorly screw up. I was just innocently sitting there, and despite the fact that I know without a doubt "self-jinxing" is a very real thing whether spoken out loud or just thought of to yourself, what did I choose to think at that very moment?
"This couldn't possibly get any worse."
Almost before I could get the whole thought formed, everything got a million times worse. Just like that.
"How's it hangin', guys? Whoa, I interrupt some big powwow?"
Willow looked up at her with her: "We've Been Talking About You" face, which was turning redder than her hair with every word she spoke:
"Of course not! No pows or wows of any kind going on here. Right, Xander?"
"Nope, no keeping of any big, giant secrets from our best friend, both of you, who tells you everything all the time. No, nothing like that, Faith if that's your real name."
Oh yeah, this was just great. I saw right away that she knew they knew, and just great. Faith sat down next to Xander, at least she was smiling.
"So B told you we did it? Okay, guess I can send out the flyers now."
She punched Xander lightly on the shoulder.
"Stop with the butt hurt, Cyclops. Woulda told ya, but wasn't sure if B wanted me to. We're keepin' it casual, but doesn't means she wants her business all over the place, yeah?"
Willow looked at me totally confused, and while Xander was saying something about, yes, it wasn't right to kiss and tell, she mouthed to me:
No, no talking now, certainly not with Faith there all jaunty and gay. No sneaking off and talking now either, because her carefree "casual" assessment of us made me want to cry and kill her at the same time.
"Look, I have to go. You guys feel free to talk about me while I'm gone. Faith, you've got the dogs, right?"
She was obviously surprised by my quick departure, but she answered me normally:
"Yeah, just figured I'd stay there, if that's okay with you."
"Sure, I'll put clean sheets on and you can use my bed."
Willow started to get to her feet:
"Buffy, we need to "
I was fast, Slayer fast, and already heading for the door:
"We will, Will, as soon as I get back. See you guys later!"
Then I was gone. I went straight home, rapid fire packed, kissed the dogs goodbye, then talked Vi into leaving early. We hit the road and just chatted about nothing for the first few hours, then got our plan figured out and ready to put into action. We decided on the whole: "Good Slayer, Bad Slayer" routine and my bad mood really helped out.
Right from the second we got out of the car I was a huge bitch, and I had the Indianapolis Slayers running around and freaking out trying to please me. Vi was nothing but nice and understanding, and she acted as a buffer between them and the mean Head Buffer. She made a few suggestions here and there, and we had them back on track and understanding that the protocols were in place to keep them safe, not to make their lives more difficult. I also helped them understand that they were going to follow the rules or I'd be back alone.
We laughed almost the whole ride home, pleased that everything had gone so well.
"I can sympathize with them, Buffy, I still remember how intimidated I was. You can be really scary when you want to be."
"You mean back in Sunnydale?"
"No, I'm talking about last week when we ran out of Diet Coke."
She's just so easy and fun, and she didn't push me about anything. I found myself in a lot cheerier mood when I dropped her off at Slayer Central. We promised to get together after the New Year, come Hellmouth or high water. It's not always easy to catch her because she's our third best Slayer and she loves to travel. You put those two things together and that means Vi is almost always someplace that's else, saving the world one country at a time.
We hugged goodbye and I drove off, excited to get home and see the dogs. I knew Faith wouldn't be there because she was on Newbie patrol tonight with Rona. Since the holiday break was fast approaching, we wanted to make sure this last group got in some actual field experience before they went home and forgot everything we'd taught them. Classes and simulations are great, but nothing provided a better education than actually being out in the night and slaying for real.
The air was crystal clear and sharp, and I could smell the snow coming on. The forecast was for a light dusting over the next couple of days, then a real snowstorm bringing four or five inches by Friday or Saturday. I didn't really care, I was off right through the weekend, and when I did have to go back to work, Giles had provided me with a snowmobile to use instead of my Jeep. I was hoping Faith would spend the weekend with me, I wouldn't mind at all if we got snowed in and had to
I saw the glow as I turned down the lane, and it wasn't long before I had to stop the car. It was so beautiful, so amazingly wonderful, so thoughtful, and so unbelievably perfect. I got out with the engine running and just stood there trying to take it in. I wasn't dreaming, it was right there, all exactly like I'd imagined it could be. Unlike the mystery of the yard mowing, I knew right away who had done this and it felt like my heart was going to burst.
In the front yard running along the driveway, there are these five huge evergreens all in a row. One warm summer night, Faith and I were having a beer on the porch and I told her what those trees made me think of.
"I was seven years old and we had these little trees in our front yard. Mom loved Christmas and we decorated each tree a different color. They were green, white, red, gold, and blue, and I've never seen anything that pretty. It made her so happy, and I can still see her face when it got dark out and the lights came on."
"Well, ya got the trees right there, B."
I laughed because the trees were so big:
"Yeah, I don't think those are doable."
"Just need one of those ladder deals. Could rent it or see if Xander's got one."
"I think I'll just stick to my all-time favorite decoration."
"Yeah, what's that?"
I handed her my half full bottle.
"I always loved when we had Santa and his reindeer on the roof. I could get Xander to do that, I think, and I could wrap lights around the railing here."
"Yeah, that'd be real nice, B."
She tipped her head back, polished off my beer, and then stood up, handing me the empties.
"Oughta take off. Got an early sparring session tomorrow with Kimberly."
"Yeah, you know. The know-it-all that's gonna get herself killed ten seconds into her first fight."
I pictured black hair in an annoyingly long braid that flung all around like a handle for any vamp to grab onto.
"Hoping since she won't listen, I can beat some sense into her."
"Good luck with that."
"Gonna need it. See ya tomorrow, Princess."
That was it, the one time I'd mentioned what was right in front of me. The trees were glorious and decorated from top to bottom. I don't know how long I stood there, but when I finally got back in the car I drove slowly, barely able to look away. As I got closer to the house, I saw that Santa and his reindeer were on the roof and the entire front porch railing had the most perfectly arranged old fashioned lights on them. I drove into the garage and went inside to get the dogs. They were crazy happy to see me and then we all went out the front door.
I sat down in a chair and just looked again. It was without a doubt the sweetest thing anyone had ever done for me, and how could I be expected to keep anything casual anymore? This wasn't casual, this was whatever the opposite of casual was. She'd actually been listening when I rambled on months ago and she'd understood and cared enough to remember. She just kept doing these loving things, and I couldn't do it anymore.
There wasn't a woman on this planet who got treated like Faith treated me, and something had to change. Maybe I could do it in stages. We'd done casual, so I'd move us to moderately interested, then extremely interested, then right to: "I Want You Permanently Attached To Me So You Can Never Ever Get Away". I'd go slowly and we'd get to that last stage by tomorrow.
The dogs had done their business and they came over and sat down next to me, looking at their first Christmas lights.
"See what Faith did for us?"
They stood up and looked around for her, then settled back down and stared at me staring in wonder at some lit up trees. I couldn't help it and I said it right out loud, more than a little teary-eyed, but with a huge smile on my face:
"Mom, isn't it beautiful? Merry Christmas from Faith."
I sat there until I got too cold, then headed inside with the dogs close behind me. Her note was on the bar:
Santa stopped by and said to tell you 'Tis the season, Joyce Summers style. Hope the pretty makes it okay your electric thing's spinning faster than a roulette wheel. Whole deal's on a timer, so no worries.
Yes, things were definitely going to change, they already had. I was in love and so was she. I just had to tell her and I was going to.
I was up way too bright and early the next morning, and nothing but excited. Okay, maybe I was a little nervous too, but in one way that didn't even matter. I knew I was in love and I knew she loved me, so there was absolutely no problem there. Except that she might not want to be in love or she might be scared to be in love or she might freak out on me or something. She might think she likes this stupid casual approach that's only for immature slimy egomaniacs who live in Brazil or she might think she hates me and Okay, I'm breathing again. I need to stay focused on the real stuff here.
I am head over heels in love with Faith, and I know that she loves me too. I know she might have special needs, maybe it would be better if I called them "requirements", and that's okay. We can take things as slowly as she needs to, and we can make adjustments and build up our tolerance for being in love, and hopefully we can do all of that in a very timely fashion. The main thing is that I just want my feelings for her out in the open, and I'm prepared for the very real possibility that she might freak out and deny the whole thing. She might even laugh at me or get on her motorcycle and try to zoom off to places and people unknown which will be hard for her to do with me being dragged behind her as I try to Boy, this breathing thing is a lot trickier than it used to be.
Anyway, regardless of anything else, I want her to know how I feel, the rest is all negotiable. If she goes backwards but I don't think she will. I mean she's changed a lot over the years and she's so perfect now. She's still Faith, but she's mature, although not like in a matronly way, more like in an incredibly sexy way. She's just so yummy, and despite the fact that I keep hyperventilating and talking like a teenage girl, she's so grown up now and I've grown up right with her. I feel like this is it, everything we've ever done, everyone we've ever been, it's all brought us right here. Somehow against all the odds, Faith and I have finally unmixed the signals and it feels so right, I think I'm going to explode from happiness and I want her to explode too.
I walked to her room feeling kind of bad that I was going to wake her up so early when she'd been out so late, but I just couldn't wait any more. My perfect plan would go this way: I'd knock, she'd answer all grumpy and look like she just got out of bed. I'd tell her I love her and can't live without her, she'd wake all the way up, tell me she feels the same, and we'd have wild, passionate sex before falling asleep in each other's arms. Perfect.
The first part of that went perfectly, the part where I knocked on her door. At first I thought she was just in a deep sleep, but then I picked her lock, she's not the only one with skills, and I found out that she wasn't home. I carefully put the broken off doorknob on the table right next to the door and went to find Giles.
He was at his desk looking like he'd already been at it for hours.
"Buffy, what brings you here? I thought you were off until Monday."
"I am. I'm looking for Faith."
"I was just about to have another cup of tea. Would you like one?"
"That'd be good, I haven't had any breakfast yet."
He started doing his tea making thing, but he glanced up at me.
"Quite the surprise she had for you, yes?"
"It was so beautiful, Giles. I can't believe she did that."
"She went at it shortly after you left. Xander did the wiring and brought the mechanical ladder, and Faith took care of the actual decorating on her own."
"Did you see it?"
He handed me my cup and smiled:
"I did and it was magnificent. I knew you'd be overjoyed."
"I was and that's why I'm here before people voluntarily get up. Do you know where she is?"
He brought out the cookies I like and handed me the bag.
"Yes, I do. Patrol went very well last night, except they ran into a Renzay demon."
I sat up straight so fast, I almost spilled my tea.
"Did anyone get hurt? Where did it come from?"
"It emerged from Piedmont Woods to attack, but failed to notice that Faith had been stalking it and was directly behind it. One axe blow later and its heads were severed. Earlier she'd spotted the beginnings of a mating shrine, so she destroyed it, and then tracked the demon until she had a chance to kill it. She and Rona brought the girls home, checked with some of our local contacts, and received information that someone in Texas has been trying to breed them. Willow transported both Rona and Faith a few hours before sunrise and they've been radio silent, although they're expected to call in just over an hour's time."
I leaned back, but I was a little angry.
"How come no one called me to fight the big, scary demons?"
"Faith said to tell you, and I quote: 'Stand down, hotshot. We got this.'"
"Still, Giles, Renzays are "
"Merely eggs in Texas. Faith and Rona can easily get the job done."
Satisfied that Faith probably wasn't going to get killed today, we chatted about things like her broken doorknob.
"My, one wonders how that might have occurred."
"Does one? Well, let's just say I pick locks in a less than stealthy manner."
"It's really quite simple, I could teach you if you'd like."
I shook my head in horror:
"No thanks. I think your criminal talents should remain yours alone, Ripper."
He smiled at the name:
"Yes, I was quite the delinquent in my youth. I dare say you'd not recognize me."
"Not unless you started cleaning your glasses or clucking angrily."
We had another cup of tea and I sort of hinted around about my feelings for Faith.
"Yes, I've been delighted to notice things advancing in that direction over the last few months. You two would make a lovely couple, you're perfectly matched. Faith is quite something, and I've grown extremely fond of her over the years."
"But you still love me the most, right?"
He made the face he always makes when he thinks I'm being ridiculous:
"Buffy, there is no one who could ever supplant you in my heart."
I drank the last sip of my tea and took a handful of cookies as I stood up:
"That means 'yes', right?"
He chuckled his "Giles" chuckle at me, and I still loved to hear that sound. It was one of my all-time favorites.
"Yes, that means 'yes'. I'll tell Faith you stopped by to break into her suite."
I was trying to figure out how to stuff cookies into my pockets, but I managed to tear my attention away from that important job to give him a message for Faith:
"Make sure she knows she has to come for dinner no matter how tired she is."
"I shall. Buffy, please just take the bag, I've another."
I put everything back in and couldn't stop smiling:
"Thanks, Giles! We'll have them for dessert."
The day went by so slowly, I had to check the clock at least fifty million times and it always seemed to say 1:00 p.m. I called Giles and he told me everything was fine.
"The problem's been resolved and they've managed to shut down any attempts for the foreseeable future. They've booked a hotel room and are going to sleep for a few hours before teleporting again. I gave Faith your message and she said she'd be there."
So it was good news, but I had to keep waiting. I did some cleaning, played with the dogs, even read some weird paper Willow wrote on something about something to do with Slayers in some environment or something like that. It was scary how smart she was.
The afternoon finally started ending and I got a fire going to ward off the chill that always happens when the sun sets behind the woods. I made goulash for supper because it's one of Faith's favorite meals, and even though I'm not the best cook ever, what I make, I make very well.
The goulash came out perfect. I had a sample bite just to be sure, then put it back in the oven on the "keep warm" setting. I looked out the window to see that the light snow was finally here, and then I sat down at the bar and began flipping through Faith's "Sports Illustrated". It couldn't have been five minutes before the dogs were suddenly up and running for the laundry room.
Just moments later I could hear it too: the faint roar of her motorcycle off in the distance. I called for the dogs because I didn't want to wait for her to pull into the garage. I was going out the front door to meet her as she drove down the lane, and the dogs seemed to like that idea as much as I did. I grabbed my jacket off the coat peg by the door and slipped it on as I ran across the yard.
She was going to be in sight in just a few seconds, and I had given up all pretense at being calm, cool, and casual. I couldn't wait to see her and then there she was. She wasn't wearing her helmet, not for the short trip here, and her hair was flying out behind her, the flakes landing, but blowing off before they could get a firm grip.
She saw us and waved, and the dogs began barking and running in crazy circles around me. I knew exactly how they felt and I would have joined them, except then there would have been nothing left to circle. I realized I should have turned on the lights for her arrival because the timer hadn't clicked on yet, but then it didn't matter. She was here, and it was too late to do anything but drink her in.
The dogs got her first, jumping on her before she'd even turned off the engine.
"Hey, ya little demons. Been taking care of B? Huh? You guys been on guard duty?"
She reached into her jacket pocket and tossed them each a treat. They both made great catches and got busy as she got off the bike.
"Hey, B. Dig the welcome wagon. You guys out here foolin' arou "
And then I got her. My lips were on hers, my hands were in her hair, and my body was pressed against her as tightly as I could get it. She kissed back, one hand behind my head, the other pushing me into her even tighter. When we stopped it was because she eased away.
"Guess that means you liked the trees and the house."
"Yes, that's partly what it means."
She grinned at me, kissed the tip of my nose, and acted like we were done.
"C'mon, I'll ride ya into the garage. Dynamic Duo can follow along. Got anything to eat or ya want me to make us breakfast?"
She tried to turn towards her bike, but I wouldn't let her.
"B, gotta loosen up if ya wanna "
"Faith, we need to talk."
"Sure, okay, but let's get in outta the snow. Man, know what woulda hit the spot? That goulash thing you "
"I love you."
"Me too, think it's my fave What?"
I couldn't believe after spending all day figuring out how I was going to gradually and carefully reveal my feelings to her, I'd just blurted it out like that. Okay, it was fine with me that how I felt about her was no longer a secret. And right at this moment, she wasn't going to be able to run. I'd just chase her and I've always been the faster runner. She was going to have to stay and we were going to figure out how to deal with things. Together.
I realized that she needed me to confirm what she'd just heard. My pleasure.
"I said 'I love you'."
"So much I can't keep it in anymore. I'm not casual, Faith, you know that. I'm so far from sophisticated and casual, it's not even funny. I'm just average, basic, and I feel things. I feel things with all my heart and what I feel the most is love for you. I love everything about you, even the stuff that annoys me. You're all I want in my bed, in my house, in my life. I want you to spend the night every night. I want all your stuff where I am. I want your clothes here, I want your comic books spread out all over the floor. I want to have sex with you all the time, I want to watch football with you, I want to comfort you, hold you, make you feel safe. I want to listen to your heartbeat and I want to tell you how beautiful you are all day and all night. I don't want to be a fling, I want us to be in love."
She just stood there as the snow started falling harder all around us. Don and Corleone were leaping in the air like nuts, trying to catch the flakes as they floated down to them, and I wanted her to say something, anything except "No" or "Goodbye" or "Are you crazy?"
Faith did so much better than that, she just said one simple letter:
And she said it with such reverence, like she was talking about something holy, something beautiful, something she loved.
"You could never be somebody's fling. You're the one who stops the flings, the one who makes somebody wanna be better just for her. You're the love of somebody's life, Buffy."
She just stood right there, her eyes meeting mine, a soft smile on her face and her heart on her sleeve. And then she kissed me like I've never been kissed before. I saw fireworks, I saw stars, I saw colored lights. Yep, the timer chose the most romantic moment ever to turn on the trees. We stood there in the glow and oh my this was going to be something.
"Whose life, Faith?"
"Mine, B. Always mine."
She kissed me again, soft and slow, like we had all the time in the world, and she put an arm around my waist as we turned to face the trees.
"So, guess I tipped my hand with the decorations, yeah?"
"No, you just made me see what's been here for a long, long time."
"Think your Mom likes'em?"
"I know she does."
The smile on her face was everything I needed. Home sweet home.