Friends With Benefits
The moon shone dimly in the hazy L.A. sky as a bus full of old and new friends alike pulled up to the Holiday Inn Hotel Deluxe.
“Angel said this is the place.” Willow said quietly to Giles as she closed her flip-top cellphone, careful not to disturb the slumbering group before her. “He’s got about a dozen rooms set aside for us, all we have to do is check in.”
Giles pulled the bus to a slow stop on the street in front of the hotel. He stood and faced the people behind him, clearing his throat a few times as to gently wake them from their states of slumber, shock, or awe over the days’ events.
After a few moments of stretching and aiding those who weren’t able to move well on their own, the large group began to slowly file off of the bus.
Sheer exhaustion kept them from celebrating their earlier victory in Sunnydale. There were far fewer of them than there had been earlier that day; earlier that summer. ‘There are always casualties in war’ Buffy had said, and the statement rang true into the still of the post-battle night.
Several had perished during the battle. Anya. Spike. Numerous of the inexperienced potentials. No, not potentials. Slayers. They had been Slayers, at least at the very end.
Another group had been dropped off at a L.A hospital to receive proper treatment.
One of the more emotional moments had been when the body of Robin Wood was carried away from the bus on a hospital stretcher as the rest of the group watched on in silence. There was nothing they could do for him on the journey. He lay there, blood seeping from his fresh bandages as he slowly lost his own battle.
Faith had stood emotionless and watched with a fixed gaze as the hospital staff took her one-time lover away. It numbed her even further to know that such a genuinely big fighter on the side of good had been taken. Only when she felt the comforting hand of Willow on her back was she finally able to tear her eyes away with a flinch, crossing her arms over her chest and walking back onto the bus in silence.
The drive to the hotel had been completely silent, save for the soft conversation that Willow had with Angel on her cellphone.
Most of the newly-risen Slayers stood quietly in the lobby of the hotel, stretching their achy muscles as they waited for their room assignments. Luckily, there were only about 25 people remaining now. For the first in a long time, many would have the luxury of sleeping in their own beds that night . . . a big step up from the hastily laid sleeping bags at the Summers’ house.
Willow had decided to stay with Kennedy, and Dawn just about clutched to Xander when she saw him crying at the back of the bus over Anya’s death. Truth be told, no one really wanted to be alone that night. As the father-figure, Giles agreed to stay with Andrew, the boy visibly shaken from his own personal survival in the battle that he was willing to sacrifice himself for.
When Giles had announced that Faith would be rooming with Rona, the brunette finally spoke up.
“Nope. I’m with B.” She stated firm, yet softly at the same time.
No one questioned how or why . . . Giles simply nodded and made a notation on his not pad.
Faith glanced over to Buffy, checking to see if there was any form of protest being displayed. However, there was just no energy for protest. The blonde still had tear stains on her face, unable to deal with the emotions of the day and the implications of what they had done. She was no longer the ‘one girl in all the world’: she was one of many.
It was the life she had always wanted.
Though no one could really have told the difference, her tears were mostly from happiness, not sorrow.
She gave Faith a small smile before dropping her vision back down to her battle-stained clothing.
Faith, for her part, was almost excited to share the room with Buffy. Since she had returned to Sunnydale, the only time they had gotten to spend alone was when they had been tracking a Bringer through Sunnydale. The air between them had been somewhat tense, but she felt it all melt away when Buffy had thrown her the Scythe as they fought side-by-side in the Hellmouth.
It was as if in that single gesture, they had wiped clear the tainted slate of their past. Buffy had handed over her power of her own free will . . . and Faith felt forever thankful to the girl for giving that to her.
It pretty much removed her belief that Buffy would never forgive her, even in death.
Still, she had other reasons for wanting to stay with the blonde. Even though she was uneducated, Faith was far from stupid. She saw how close Buffy had become with Spike over the course of the few weeks that she was there. Saw how much Buffy had relied upon him to get through the battle; through life. Saw how emotionally dependent she was on him those last two nights.
And the real kicker was when she had watched the interaction between the slayer and vampire from the entrance at the Hellmouth. Watched as Buffy had told Spike, finally, that she had loved him . . . and how he had basically thrown in back in her face.
Faith swore that, had he not perished in the collapse, she would’ve found him and staked his ass for being so ignorant.
Truthfully . . . she couldn’t really tell if Buffy had loved the vamp. It was apparent that she had cared. That much was perfectly clear. But, the confession as the walls crumbled around them . . . well, she couldn’t tell what to make of it.
Still, if there was one thing that Faith was sure of, it was that Buffy was going to be overwhelmed right now. With the sadness of losing her home. With the losses they had suffered. With the joy of the victory. With the happy prospect of a non-Slayer-y future. With the fact that her love, even if not real, had been thrown back in her face.
She knew that Buffy was going to crumble; let her tremendous strength give for a bit, just a night; that the girl would allow herself to breakdown at the overwhelming emotion of it all. She knew that, even if only for a short time, Buffy was going to be weak.
And something about that got to her.
To watch someone who had always been the very definition of ‘strong’ become suddenly weak . . . it boggled her mind. She didn’t like the thought of it.
So, for this one night, at least this one night, Faith would be her strength. She would stay with her, watch over her, reassure her if she needed it, hold her if she needed it.
Someone needed to be the strong one, the one in control, the one with the weight of the world on her shoulders. And for the first time in her life . . . Faith thought that she could finally be that person.
For this one night, Faith would be everything that the blonde had always been for her.
As the hotel staff began to pass out the room keys, Faith eagerly stepped to the front of the line and browsed through the key cards, quickly snatching the one marked 410. She hesitated only for a second before turning and walking towards Buffy, standing before the blonde for a moment to get her attention.
She held up the card and wiggled it a bit so that Buffy could see it clearly, leaning in just a bit to whisper.
“The last time I was in L.A., I found out that all of the deluxe suites in this place are the ‘10’ rooms . . . 210, 310, 410 . . . looks like we’ve got ourselves a little bit of fine living to be had, B.” She said with a smirk, sliding the key card into her pocket and looping her arm through Buffy’s, leading her towards the elevator.
Buffy put on a warm smile as she looked over at Faith, wondering why the girl was being so suddenly friendly to her. They had never had a spectacular relationship before, but Buffy was open to the possibility of a new friendship with the girl. After all . . . she had more than proved herself over the last few weeks. Perhaps even redeemed herself.
Before she could ask why the sudden case of ‘nice’, Faith jumped in.
“No questions. It’s just cos I wanna, alright?” The brunette said in an almost embarrassed tone, knowing exactly what Buffy was going to ask her. She let her eyes glance over to the blonde just once as she tried to focus on the elevator door closing in front of them.
Buffy’s smile widened just for a moment before she poked Faith in the side with her elbow, their arms still looped around one another’s.
“Niiiiiiiiiice.” Faith purred as they walked into the suite, looking around excitedly before kicking off her boots and jumping around on the king-sized bed.
“Oh, gross, Faith. Your feet have been sweating inside those clodhoppers of yours all day long, and now you’re jumping on my nice clean bed with them. Eww.” Buffy said jokingly.
She crossed her arms over her chest, raising her eyebrows and trying to look menacing, but wasn’t able to get the little smirk off of her face.
Seeing Faith jumping around and carefree . . . it just made her smile. She couldn’t explain it.
The brunette did a couple more overly enthusiastic jumps before plopping down on her butt and laying back, folding her arms behind her head.
“Nuh-uh. This isn’t YOUR bed, B. It’s OUR bed. As in you and me, fightin’ over the blankets and me rubbing my stanky feet all around.” Faith said, waggling her eyebrows.
Buffy dropped her arms to her sides, her eyebrows raising even higher.
“You’re kidding me, right?” She asked as she started walking throughout the suite, looking for another bed but finding none. “I actually have to share my bed with you?” Her voiced raised an octave or two as the reality set in.
“OUR bed, B. If you have a problem with it, I can always have them bring up one of those old, foldable cots for you.” Seeing the displeased look on Buffy’s face, she continued. “Geez, B, relax. Don’t worry, I’m not gonna dry-hump you or nothin. Don’t get me wrong; you’re wicked cute and everything. But you look like you just got outta some kinda apocalyptic battle.”
It was impossible for Buffy to keep up the unhappy face she was wearing when Faith was doing the smirk/raised-eyebrow combo.
“Hey, I look good considering what I’ve been through today, let alone these past few weeks. And I’m having a hard time believing that there’ll be no dry-humping. We’re post-slay. I KNOW you’re feeling ‘it’.” Buffy stated, putting emphasis on the word ‘it’.
Faith sat up a bit and rested herself on her elbows, one eyebrow raised.
“’It’?” She asked, smirking yet again.
“Yes. ‘It’. You know what I’m talking about, Faith.” Buffy said, crossing her arms across her chest again.
“You’re feeling it too, aren’t ya? The hungry and horny. Tell me you’re NOT feeling it, B.”
Buffy fidgeted in her standing position, trying to come across as indifferent. Knowing that Faith wouldn’t let the subject move on until she finally fessed up, she finally relented after years of denial.
“Fine.” She sighed. “I feel it. Now, let’s move on. Do you wanna go to bed now or stay up for a while?” She asked, trying to change the subject.
Faith laughed and pointed at Buffy, quickly jumping up on her feet on the bed again.
“Oh, I KNEW it!! I’m not a freak, B! You’ve always felt it too!” She said excitedly. She stopped jumping around for a minute, interesting thoughts obviously crossing her mind. Finally, she spoke again. “Man, can you imagine what all those newbie Slayers are going through right now? They’re probably scarfing down hotel food and figuring how to get a bit of alone time, if ya know what I mean. And apparently, you do.”
Buffy thought about it for a second, ready to act mildly annoyed at being called out, but instead coming to a realization.
“Yeah, you’re probably right.” She said, smiling. “Speaking of hotel food . . . I think it’s time to make a call to room service. What do you say?”
Faith put on a big smile, hopping down from the bed and wandering over to the desk. She picked up a menu and tossed it over to Buffy, heading off in the other direction. “Order two of everything that isn’t seafood.” She called out over her shoulder.
Buffy just barely caught the menu as it flew towards her, momentarily caught off guard.
“Hey! Where are you going?” She asked, watching Faith walk into the bathroom and close the door behind her.
“You take care of the hungries, and I’m gonna take care of my hornies about 4 or 5 times in the shower!” She called out, her smirk almost audibly apparent.
Buffy scoffed as she shook her head a bit and opened up the menu, her hand reaching for the tableside telephone.
“Just leave some hot water for me.” She mumbled under her breath.
“I heard that!” Faith yelled out from the bathroom.
Buffy just shook her head and smiled, pondering just exactly how she was going to make it through the night with the feisty brunette in bed with her.
“That was some high-quality burping, B.” Faith laughed as she finished off her bottle of Dr. Pepper.
“I couldn’t help it, it slipped!” Buffy whined as she sat back on the floor and rubbed her full stomach, empty plates and bowls littered around them.
Both girls sat there quiet for a few minutes, lost in their thoughts and their overwhelming ‘full’ feeling from all of the food that they consumed.
Buffy had managed to slip in a quick, warm, and much less satisfying shower than she had hoped for. The food had helped take the edge off, but she was still feeling a little wound up.
As they lay there in silence, lost in their thoughts, images from the past few weeks began to flood Buffy’s mind. Memories of Sunnydale. Of friends lost. Of places she would never be able to visit again.
And just like that, her smile faded and a general somber mood filled the room as a result.
Faith had casually glanced over and noticed the change in the other girl. Had seen her smile fade and watched the unshed tears pool in her eyes, only to be blinked back.
“Hey, no sad stuff.” The brunette stated, sitting up from her prone position. “This is the party room. No moping, okay? We can rent porn and take some booze outta the mini-bar and just fun it up.” She stated, trying to get Buffy to smile more than anything.
Buffy put on a tiny smile, trying to hide her feelings.
“If it’s all the same to you, I’m just gonna go to bed. Think I can use some rest.” She said quietly, standing up quickly and moving over to the bed.
Without another sound, she laid down on the far side of the bed, her back turned towards Faith and towards the window. After a moment, she finally uttered a few words, her back still towards the brunette.
“That you for being nice, Faith. I really do appreciate it. I’m just tired is all.” She said weakly.
The corners of Faith’s mouth cracked up into the teeniest of smiled before she furrowed her eyebrows in concern.
“No problem, B.” She said just as quietly, deciding that she should probably rest too.
Without another word, she walked over to her side of the bed, turning off the table-lamp and slipping beneath the soft sheets. She wasn’t normally an ‘edge of the bed’ sleeper, but she didn’t wanna crowd Buffy by sleeping in the middle like normal. She stayed motionless on her side of the bed, curled up slightly on her side and facing the blonde.
Only after several minutes of silence did she finally feel the bed shake lightly from the silent sobs of the other girl. Had she not been a Slayer, she may not have felt the subtle movement, but at that moment, every shake felt like an earthquake to her.
This was the moment. This was Buffy breaking down. This was her moment of vulnerability.
And, as Faith had promised herself, she was going to be the strong one.
Without hesitating a moment longer, she scooted across the bed and pressed her body next to Buffy’s, placing a hand on the other girls arm.
Buffy lifted her head for just a moment, turning it to the side just enough to meet Faith’s concerned gaze.
“No questions, okay? Just let me do this.” Faith said quietly, her head nodding as if to emphasize her words.
The blonde nodded her head in understanding before resting it back on the pillow, letting her sobs take over her once again. She was feeling too much. Happiness. Anger. Hurt. Pain. Elation. She couldn’t handle the onslaught of emotion that had hit her at once.
Faith let Buffy cry against her, eventually wrapping an arm protectively around the girl and holding her tight.
This was all new for her. She didn’t know how to do the comfort thing.
She shut off her brain and let instinct work for a while. Ignored the niggling feeling that she was getting in her groin as her hornies came back. Tried to ignore the soft feel of Buffy’s skin on her. Tried to push the need to feel, to touch, to taste. Tried to ignore the warmth that was spreading throughout her body at the feel of another person pressed so intimately against her.
This was not about her, for a change. This was about Buffy. About being there for her for the first time since she had met the girl.
Still, she couldn’t help but feel the sexual pulse pumping through her body, calling out for her to give in, to satisfy the urge.
She wondered just how long she’d be able to stay wrapped up against another body without losing control to the call of the horny . . .
. . . but then she felt the steady rise and fall of the breathing of the girl in her arms. And she realized that maybe this once, she would win out over her impulses. Strong? Sure, she could do strong. She could behave.
At least for now.
But it was only a matter of time, she figured, until she needed to act upon her urges. If she wasn’t able to get them out elsewhere . . . surely they’d be taken out upon the closest person to her.
She decided that the next night would be about satisfying the urges and the desires; that she’d run out to a local bar and find some random guy or girl to take advantage of.
But for now, she’d just concentrate on being strong. On being good. On her breathing.
And not at all on the fact that her lips were resting upon the warm shoulders of the girl in front of her.