Autumn Term at the Slayer Academy
An Introduction to Slayer Academy:
Sometimes Faith has nightmares. She never lets me sleep next to her, not even after sex. We've been doing it longer than Angel and I or Spike and I ever did, but it's `way casual B,' according to Faith. It's been years now but apparently this isn't love, isn't a relationship, it's just a fuck and a Slayer connection thing. I once asked; “If it's a Slayer thing Faith, shouldn't we have slept with some of the newer Slayers by now? Quite frankly, I'm surprised that you haven't.” I shouldn't have said that last part but the girl drives me crazy.
What the rest of us didn't realise was that Robin and Giles had been cooking up a plan. And boy was it some plan! There was more insurance money than expected from Sunnydale. I still don't understand that stuff. Robin got a bunch of it from the destroyed school and Dawn and I even got some for the house. But the real cash came from the secret gold of the Watcher's Council. They really were sneaky bastards. But hey, can't complain, after all we're the ones who won out in the end as Giles being the only living and active Watcher inherited everything. Everything meaning the private funds and possessions of each Watcher who died as well as the assets belonging to the Council itself. To be honest I think he was more excited about the rare books he acquired from people's individual collections than the dough. By the time he and Robin had persuaded all of us to meet them in Cleveland they'd already bought this place. It's huge. A massive white building all on one level with all these distinct sections and wings, and grounds that seem to go on for miles. It's pretty spectacular but nothing compared to what goes on here.
The full name of the place is the Sunnydale High Academy for Slayers, Watchers and Supernatural Beings with Souls. Despite my best efforts I seem doomed to spend my life at Sunnydale High. They insisted on the name as a memorial, but who wants to remember high school? Giles and Robin actually make a really good team. Giles is Principal, thank God, I don't think I could have taken another Snyder or Flutie. He designs all mystical aspects of the curriculum. As you can imagine, he's in British bookish tea drinking heaven…you should see the size of this library.
He has this little cottage on the edge of the grounds. I tell him `Giles, this is America you know' but he still insists that it's a cottage, not a bungalow or a house. Robin designs the non-mystical aspects of the curriculum. He's Vice Principal which is actually a demotion for him- not that he minds. I think that as well as helping others fulfil their destinies he actually feels like he's fulfilling his. I told him his mother would be proud. I wonder about that sometimes, Slayers having kids. It's weird having choices; Faith and I are still reeling from the fact that we both lived past twenty five.
We all agreed immediately to the school idea. It made sense once we'd rounded up all the girls to centralize their training. Especially concentrated over another Hellmouth. But I think mostly we all needed a direction. In Sunnydale our task was so clear. Fight the nightly vampires and weekly evil arising from beneath the library, principal's office…whatever. Those first couple of years after Scythe Share were amazing in how free we felt but none of us really knew what to do.
Except for Faith. She felt she still had a moral debt to pay. So she took Vi and Rona with her and came directly to Cleveland, to keep a lid on this Hellmouth. That was good of her, and gave me a break from slaying for a while. Although not before we'd slept together for the first time…finally.
Plus we all missed each other. I hated not seeing Will and Xander for months on end. It just felt wrong somehow. Dawn's not my only family, they all are. We need to be around each other.
So, this is the structure of things around here. Faith and I are what's known as the `First of the New Generation of Slayers' (sounds like some lame sci-fi show). The kids have `secretly' named us the First. You never thought me and Faith would be rebelled against as teachers! What with her never having turned up to school and me destroying mine a bunch of times. But we teach different aspects of Slaying and like to put the girls through their paces. We'd both been Called by the time we were sixteen, and we don't let them forget how easy they have it now. Once they graduate Slayage III they're allowed to go out actually Slaying. Supervised of course, for the first six months. Faith supervises now…I know! Not that she's much more responsible than she ever was but to be honest, nor am I in some ways. I'm still happy for Giles to take care of the practicalities and finances of my life.
Willow runs this incredible Magics program and even arranged for those serious about Wicca-dom to spend a semester with the Coven in England. She also teaches Information Technology. Sometimes I worry that we're breeding generations of mystical hackers, but less so with our new ethics curriculum. Will designed that one too; meticulously. She explores dark energy, the lure of power, giving in to anger and the concept of revenge. Faith teaches a few classes but approaches ethics from a different angle, basically using the class as an excuse to tell all her worst stories. Xander sat in for most of the first semester, still enthralled by her adventures. But I shouldn't rag on Faith's contribution, she's amazing at what she does…in the classroom I mean! God, I'm blushing now. Anyway, she tells it like it is, no tiptoeing around any subject; not vamps, not murder, not prison. Not even jealousy. I think talking to the pupils about it is her way of working things out and making sense of what she's been through. Although she still rarely talks about her life pre-Sunnydale.
For some reason the students mostly go to Faith with their relationship problems. I know! Faith, who's never been in a relationship in her life. You're wondering about her and Robin? Are you kidding? That lasted all of two minutes. Hardly even that. The first night after the battle she and I…she'd say hooked up, I guess. But it was more than that, and she knows it. Even though nothing else happened between us for two years after that, our getting together had been a long time coming. You must've known. That much hatred, resentment and tension between two people? Well Angel and Spike; point proved.
They run the Vampirology curriculum. Yeah, you heard right, Spike insisted on giving it a brainy sounding name. It's a good course though on the history and evolution of vampires and their relationship to Slayers (NO! That's not what I mean. Jeez, you've got me blushing…again.) witches and mystical forces. And Spike teaches poetry now. I have my doubts about the quality of literature being produced in that class. A combination of his style of self-indulgent love poetry and many adolescent girls with crushes (mostly on him)…I'm thinking the results will be painful. At least quality writing is not an essential requirement for Slayerdom. I have concerns about the Wiccas who may need it for spells, I'm sure you agree.
So, Faith and I, me and Faith. Yeah, I know I'm smiling even now thinking about it. Well, for me, I guess I knew as in at long last I understood, during the end battle- we've had many more since then but it was the end of that part of our lives anyway. During that battle I got stabbed. It was painful, thanks for asking. Actually for the first few minutes it was the most excruciating physical pain I've ever felt, worse than getting shot. Sorry. When that happened, I heard Faith shout “B!” and the look on her face, well it said it all. I gave her the Scythe. The look of pride she gave me, that I was finally trusting her, passing something on to her which I couldn't do. It made me realise without knowing it at the time, how much she wanted to be part of things; how good her intentions had originally been. But more than that, it was her expression when I got hurt that told me how scared she was. Faith stopped fighting- like when did she become miss self control girl? - to see if I was ok. She cared. I finally realised. If Faith, who I thought had hated me more than anyone, was that scared and that concerned when I got hurt then there was a lot more good in the world than I had given it credit for. That's what got me back up and fighting. Well, also there was the whole, get out of my face, confrontation with the snarky First Evil.
So, after the whole `Oh my God! Look what we've achieved!' thing, we all checked in to some motel along the California highway. All the non-Slayer types crashed immediately. But the rest of us, well Faith always told everyone what Slaying does to us, right? So, very hungry what with epic battle and all. We piled into this large booth in the diner beside the motel. Faith just ordered one of everything on the menu and said we'd all share. Thank God for Giles' credit card, I felt so bad about that until his mass inheritance. And to be honest he never would have gotten all that back pay from the Council if it wasn't for me, but you already knew that. None of us spoke. Rona being quiet? Kennedy being quiet? We just vacuumed up the food. Yeah, I always get some post-slayage munchies, never like Faith. But I was ravenous that afternoon. We sat there for an hour, solidly shovelling food into our mouths in awed exhausted silence.
With the hunger comes the hornies as you well know. Faith and I discussed afterwards how much fun it had been to watch the jitteriness of the new Slayers after their very first, and mammoth slayage. You should have seen Kennedy on the bus. Willow was all pure glowy white auraed energy and Kennedy was trying to maul her after the fight. They were in slightly different spaces! But Will sure appreciated that side effect of slaying while they were rounding up new Slayers. Sorry! You really don't wanna picture that do you? Eek. Well, you know they broke up, right? Less than a year after we opened the school. Come on, we all knew Kennedy wasn't Willow's true love. Of course we knew! But Ken still works for us. We send her on assignment sometimes; leading a team of older girls, to any problem hot spots outside of Cleveland.
So, after causing a world deficit in curly fries it was finally time for sleep. Dawn was comforting Xander, so I had a room to myself. Which ended up being rather a good thing under the circumstances. That long shower was blissful, it's amazing what clings to you after a battle….yeuch! I don't get how she knew we'd need them but Dawn had packed us all changes of clothes and essentials, I don't remember when she suddenly got responsible and thoughtful. Yeah, you're right, she always had it in her.
Faith came by, but offered to leave when she saw I was ready to sleep. I wanted her to stay for a bit. She'd actually come to check on my injury. You never would've thought that out of everyone it would be Faith who remembered and worried, yeah she was actually worried. After everything, we were finally at the place of being able to support one another. I was actually grateful (which was so weird), that she wanted to discuss the battle and what the hell had happened.
At the time I was both distraught and awed at the way Spike had died. It's weird in retrospect because it wasn't a real loss; like so many of us, he's back from the dead...I guess in his case he's the undead back from the dead. He returned almost immediately, not that he bothered to contact me for about a year, and not that I'm still bitter about that. Right now Spike is like the bane of my existence. But at the time I was both in shock and grieving and Faith was really comforting. We were both wiped and while talking Faith was sprawled across the bed, with me already under the covers. I asked if she just wanted to crash there.
It was so strange, for years all of mine and Faith's encounters had been fraught with tension, jealousy and murderous intent. But after the stress and terror (if I'm honest) of the preceding weeks; we'd actually saved the world. It was over. I don't think any of us expected to be alive by the end of that day, and yet we were. Both of us were the most tired we'd been in our lives; physically, emotionally. Even spiritually- what with the fight against original evil and divulgence of our mystical power into the world. All that combined with the super rush of adrenaline and arousal from the fight was more powerful than our laden history. In that moment we had no defences left.
As Faith was getting into bed I noticed her neck was giving her trouble so I went to sit behind her to rub out the knots. I never would have done that before but this wasn't exactly a regular day. Besides, I was feeling tender towards her after what I'd realised during the fight. It was also easier to try and express some of those things to her without being face to face. I don't remember exactly what I said; just that things felt right between us for the first time since that day she sprung me from chem. class.
As I stopped massaging her neck, I noticed she was blushing. When I asked why, she became more embarrassed. Maybe I wouldn't have said the next thing under any other circumstances but my grief, relief, sense of Slayer connection and a certain throbbing, left me wanting to touch her. God, I'm so embarrassed telling you this, even though I know you get it. It just feels weird to say this stuff out loud. Anyhow, in that moment I craved being close to someone; having tactile physical contact. I needed that person to be Faith. There was always something between us that affected me physically- the Slayer tingles. Don't raise your eyebrows at me like that- it never seemed odd…ok, how much denial was I in? I just liked being near her and yearned for it even when I hated her. And in the motel I knew she was feeling so much of what I was experiencing. This added to the bond I'd sensed between us after I was injured.
You know what? I only just realised something, Faith knew what it felt like to be stabbed. I pierced her with her own knife…and I don't mean the sexy kind of belly piercing. Maybe having mirrored wounds joined us? Or was like some kind of Divine justice or karma? Whatever. These are principles Willow or Giles will try and explain to me again, I don't really get it. Or maybe once that happened she felt like revenge had been enacted and our score was settled. What's that? Yeah ok, maybe when it happened she realised she had never wanted that for me. Good point.
Well the gist of this was, that a certain amount of courage comes from having just saved the world. So, after her blushing and all, I raised an eyebrow at Faith and asked; `post-slayage hornies?'
The look of astonishment on her face was priceless. I'd been trying to contain my own `physical sensations' shall we say, ever since the battle. So we both `fessed up and she asked;
“B, are you sayin' what I think you're sayin'?”
So, I leaned over and kissed her! I know, you never would have predicted it would be me who'd make the first move. I felt weird kissing when Spike had just died- or so we thought. It was creepy, simultaneously feeling so many conflicting emotions. Sort of guilty, turned on and needing comfort in my grief as well as all the stuff with me and Faith. But I needed it so badly. I needed to get lost in pleasurable sensation and suspend the matted web of thoughts in my head. Hey! You're so right, it is like Willow-brain. I can't imagine thinking so much stuff at once all the time.
We were full on making out for a bit. Then Faith gently pushed me so I was lying down again. She leans over and starts to kiss me. But it's not how you'd expect; all aggressive and out of control…that came later- more good memories! Her kisses were gentle, lips so soft. The girl can turn me to mush even now. If I hadn't known better I'd have said she was being affectionate. Not just kissing my lips but my cheeks, eyelids and sides of my neck very lightly, sweetly even. While she was doing this I was tracing her back and arms with only the slightest of touches. It was amazing that something so subtle could make the intensity of everything else seem so misty. There was nothing except her lips and eyelashes. Even though what came next was like Oh my God, for the next two years while we were apart, what I thought about most was that gentleness. I understood then that Faith had had feelings for me all along. She never said so, obviously. But after that night it broke my heart a little as I remembered all the flirting and the looks and the dancing and her hurt and jealousy over Angel. I was so fucking blind (Xander would not appreciate me saying that). How could I not have picked up on something that blatant? You knew, didn't you? Of course you did.
You know how worn out we were after the fighting and the tension of the preceding days? It meant that every touch conveyed currents of sensation through our bodies, every nerve ending heightened. It felt better than I can describe, and to be honest I'm really embarrassed to. Let's just say that for both of us, when release came it was tremendous. After the sweetness it got all passionate again, boy did it get passionate. Remember, we were already on the edge of happy feelings after the mass slayage and Faith is- well, come on you know she's hot! I'd never been with a girl before and Faith hadn't except under the influence of alcohol or the eyes of prison guards. But it felt good. I was nervous and all but it came really naturally. Speaking of coming, the woman is talented. As she reminds me frequently;
“B, I got wicked skills.”
I roll my eyes and tell her not to be so sure of herself, but actually she has. Ok, I know I said I wasn't going to go into it but I hardly talk to anyone about this stuff. No, only rarely to Willow. I wondered during whether maybe I'd also had feelings for her. Everything that happened in that motel felt like the culmination of something.
That was the only time Faith has ever stayed the night. I think she didn't want to do an Angel on me and bail right after the deed. Plus we were so tired and spent I'm not sure she could've made it back to her room just then. We didn't sleep all curled up together.
“I don't do the spoonin' thing B.”
I smiled, said;
Kissed her on the cheek, rolled over and slept. For many many hours. By the next day we all had plans to go our separate ways. Overnight Willow had set up a website for us all to keep in touch, she's thoughtful that way. Before we left, Faith pulled me into the bathroom beside the motel lobby. No! It wasn't anything dirty…not then anyway. She leant down, put her palm against my cheek and kissed me for a long time. Then she looked at me and said;
“Thank you B.”
I'm not sure, but I thought perhaps, just maybe, there was the glistening of tears in her eyes but she was out the door before I could comment.
I called after her, but within the minute I returned to the lobby, she was gone.
Sorry for that little interlude, I was getting nostalgic. So…the teaching.
Xander runs the support and social network for friends and family of supernatural students. It's very informal and I think they spend a lot of time eating cheezies and pretzels. But he's very, well, very Xander and is amazing at putting anxious parents at ease. He and Dawn co-facilitate a group for siblings and friends of mystical beings. He also runs a carpentry elective. Xander is doing remarkably well, he's even stuck it out living with us along the faculty corridor. At first he was loving all the Sapphic activity going on but after a while he kind of realised that it didn't involve him so it got less appealing. He's dated a nice range of supernatural types over the past few years but nothing serious since Anya.
Let me tell you about Anya. And Wes and Cordelia. It's not like Willow brought them back…we know she's not going to do that again in a hurry. But after the Slayer Sharing spell she got a lot more confident in her power itself and its goodness. Thank the Powers, right? Oh yeah Gaia, sorry. She's able to contact Higher Powers on a regular basis and commune with them on a spiritual level. You know this stuff is not my forte so you'll have to ask her more about it later. So all this time she's been working on ways to have the deceased teach at the school. I think she said to “impart their wisdom.” To be honest, I don't remember Cordelia having much wisdom or doing much imparting but Angel gets mad when I mention that. Basically what Will's doing is getting permission. First from their souls- thankfully! Then from the ruling forces, asking them to loan the spirits of our friends to this dimension, a few times a week. You know why she's practiced on all of them don't you? So far they haven't taken corporeal form, but Will's done this spell to animate their souls so they look like their human selves and communicate as they used to. But their physicality is kind of an illusion because you can't touch them, like the First except without the evil. Although saying that, you never can be sure with any of them, they've all done guest spots in Willow's `The Lure of Darkness' lectures.
It's been wild having them back, both personally and from an academic point of view. Can you imagine how happy Giles is? He and Wes actually get along these days and spend hours discussing the rare verb forms of long extinct inter-dimensional languages. Wes is making the most of his visits to our plane of existence by translating some more ancient scrolls, and you know that's not gonna end well. He has to have a student turn the pages or take notes for him. It's our favourite punishment to dish out. Yeah, we get to punish people now, Faith especially, loves that part.
Cordelia, well you won't believe this but she's the guidance counsellor. Seriously. You may not remember, but she has a knack for being blunt and actually that's good for the students, She tells it how she sees it and pulls no punches. Somewhere along the line Cordelia also learnt how to be compassionate…who knew?
I forgot to mention the Watchers' department which is overseen by Giles. Wes, Dawn and Andrew are on the faculty…are you scared yet? Gunn runs the Physical Training and Combat Skills department. His extensive knowledge of Gilbert and Sullivan allows him to occasionally help Lorne with music lessons. Lorne also auditions/interviews all prospective students, it's a tremendous help. We've only had a couple of evil pupils pass him by over the whole six years we've been up and running.
That's the curriculum in a nutshell, you know, if it was a really huge nut. So, where this all started was Faith of course, and her nightmares. I feel sad just saying it. I share a wall with her as I said, and have to listen to her with every casual fuck she brings home. It's not that I'm jealous exactly. I know they mean nothing and are a way for her to feel free and unconstrained and to put distance between us, eventually push me away. I've considered it, stopping whatever it is we do. But as well as the sex being better than I have language for I also feel kind of protective of Faith. I want to be near her even if it's on her ludicrous terms.
Will frequently tells me I could do better. But you see, I don't think there is better. Yes of course I could be with someone who treats me better than Faith, who acknowledges what they feel for me and wants to commit. But as a person Faith's the best there is. You're looking at me like I'm insane now. Sure her actions were kind of evil, but really who of my friends hasn't been evil at some point in time? But I see now that her crudeness and abrasiveness are just defences. She's scared. The person behind all that is the one I see now, and honestly, you couldn't meet someone more amazing.
Angel says sometime soon I'm gonna want to settle down and deep inside I know he's right. But this glimmer of hope is always there. I want it to be Faith. Maybe she'll turn her own life around eventually and be able to offer what I want. That's my dream. I love my life now but being with her, I mean really being with her is what I most desire. Willow says I'm being deluded and people never change, that I'm waiting again for Angel to become human, Spike to attain a soul and now Faith to become sensitive. I remind her of course that Spike did get a soul and she herself is in no position to judge a person's ability to change.
Faith's the only girl I want. I sometimes get involved with guys for a number of months. As you can imagine, Faith gets insanely jealous but won't admit that's what she's feeling. Instead she'll just find some other excuse to be mad at me and withhold sex until the guy's out of the picture. The men never last, they've all been great, had potential. Nothing that compares to the Slayer connection though. At the point when they demand monogamy I know it's something I can't promise. So we break up. I continue to put up with her having very noisy sex in the next room which almost always happens soon after one of her nightmares.
It's kind of freaky because sometimes I wake up before I hear her. I just get this weird tingly sensation (not in a good way) that disturbs my sleep. I get up, and then I wait until I hear her. I prefer those times because I can be there the first time she calls out. When I wake up mid-scream I never know how long she's been dreaming for, how long she's been hurting; alone. She usually leaves her door unlocked, but the couple of times she's bolted it from the inside on a nightmare night I've actually knocked the door down to get to her. You'd understand if you heard her cries. Sometimes she howls `Finch. No!' or `I am a good Slayer' like she's trying to convince someone. And on occasion I've even heard her say `Buffy, Oh God, no! Sorry sorry sorry.' Those times when I go to her she continues talking, I think in her sleep; whimpering `I'm sorry Buffy, I'm so sorry. I love your body I didn't mean to hurt you.' She just keeps apologizing over and over again.
Mostly she quiets down after I go to her. I get into her bed. She still has a single, I guess so she doesn't have to sleep there with anyone. In her bed I hold her tight and stroke her hair. I kiss away the tears which have fallen during sleep. If she can't escape from the dream I wake her, otherwise I just try to calm her. I'm never sure once she's quiet whether she's woken up or not. It's the only time she'll let me be gentle and comforting with her. I know she hurts so much, all the time, not just in sleep but the worse the pain, the more distance she puts between us. When she has bad dreams I try to pour all of my love, (I don't mean in-love, love. I mean like the love I feel for Willow or Xander or a Slayer bond kind of love) and recognition of her goodness into her. They're the only moments I have and I hope they're enough to at least keep her alive and somewhat ok. I get scared for her but I don't wanna talk about that now.
There are other dreams too. These ones are much worse, they're not about the crimes Faith's committed, they're about what's been done to her. She screams `Uncle Eric NO!' or sobs, `Please Mom not the belt again. Please.' in this tiny child voice and sometimes; `Dave, get off me! I said STOP. Get the fuck off me.' This is always followed with a pleading `Please.' When she has those dreams I start to cry, hearing in her voice desperation and fear, something Faith hardly ever shows. Sometimes I am scared to touch her after those dreams. I don't want to scare her or do anything without asking while she's still sleeping. But she always reaches out for me. It's this gesture that makes my heart ache in ways I've never known before. In those moments I can't imagine ever leaving, despite what Willow says.
Faith clings to me and sobs, her whole body trembling and I just hold her with all my Slayer strength and kiss her hair telling her she's safe and that I'm here and it's gonna be ok. Although every so often I wonder if for her it will ever be ok. Sometimes I'll rock her back and forth a little to be comforting. And after a while the shaking stops and slowly Faith starts to move and acknowledge she's awake. And she'll be out of bed already when I ask her if she's ok, and always she says; `You know me B. I'm cool. Five by five.' She won't look at me while she says this. Sometimes she notices my tears and asks what's wrong, seeming concerned for me. I tell her not to think about me just then. She leans over and kisses my cheek saying, `Go back to bed B. It's late.' It never matters how late it is when she gets home from dancing or slaying and wants to fool around, but I touch her hand and say `Are you sure? I could stay.' She'll gesture for me to go and I'll hold onto her hand for just a moment longer than she wants me to.
This happens once every week or two and is often followed by some anonymous fuck she brings home the next night. I know she's trying to push me away because she doesn't feel like she deserves to be cared for or treated kindly. But hearing them fuck still hurts.