Faith, seventeen years old and a stranger in an alien town, did not expect to fall in love. But then, Faith didn't expect much of anything or anyone anymore. She had long since stopped opening herself up to the pain and inevitable fall that comes with trusting someone. She didn't allow herself to hope, to expect. With no expectations, she firmly believed, there is no disappointment.
She did not consider herself a loner, or a coward, or wild, or easy, or any of the other superficial conclusions people came to when they laid eyes, or any other part of their anatomy on her. These conclusions were thrown aside as easily as the people they came from, and Faith simply shrugged and walked away. She had lived too long in the shadow of the opinions of others, their words tearing into her flesh and running through her veins. No more. Faith had learned not to care. She had learned to forget her past, and with it, learned not to dream of her future. There was only now.
So it was with the vaguest sense of self and a whole lot of surface that she walked into the Bronze that night. While it was true that she had been looking for someone, the person she found seemed to come out of nowhere. From the first moment she had laid eyes on her, a struggle had begun in the depths of Faith's soul. Conscious or not, she fought against the feelings that welled up inside her, straining at her heart and body and growing steadily with every move that the blonde made.
She stayed on the edge of her life, peeking in when she thought no one was watching and teasing her heart with the possibility of setting it free. But eventually, through no fault or wish of her own, she was made to face her fear.
As these things often do, it sneaked up on her and tapped at her heart, a little thought that had decided to go all out and try one last time for recognition. A little feeling that had been growing through her very soul, escaping where it had stayed rooted between her legs and found relief, but no satisfaction for as long as it had existed.
Eventually, it happened when she least expected it, when her mind was on trivial matters like the speed of the wind or the texture of her lipstick. It happened when she sat on a small wooden chair and gazed out the window. It happened when she should have been listening to the blonde but was only hearing the soft murmur of her voice. It happened when she felt a hand on her shoulder and felt it burn into her skin.
It happened when Buffy asked her how she looked, and the words "Like love" had fallen unbidden from her lips.
The silence that followed her voice was filled with doubt. Faith's eyes, wide and disbelieving had focused on the carpet as she realized exactly what she meant. As she recalled the incident years later, she often wondered how different her life would have been had she not found the strength to raise her eyes back to the gaze of the blonde slayer. As she remembers, she closes her eyes and sighs softly.
There was a question in Buffy's eyes that afternoon, a question that had been forming inside her with every second she had watched the denial of emotion or the hiding of fear inside the girl she held her hand out to now. As Faith's hands lay limply at her sides, Buffy reached out and laid her palm under the younger girl's with a surprising delicacy for one so strong. She held it there, skin against skin as her soul looked deep into the one opposite her, now so obviously filled with the fear Faith had forgotten she could feel.
There were no words, there was no need. Her breath threatening to stop completely, Faith broke the gaze between them and biting her lip in concentration, turned to their hands, lying flat against each other between their bodies like a pact. She stole one more glance at the blonde's patient face as she nodded, and entwined her fingers with Buffy's.
It was with a surge of joy that Faith felt the strength of Buffy's grip, equal to her own and filled with the promise of forever. As a smile grew like one on both their faces, Faith leaned towards her and captured Buffy's lips with her own.
As she remembers the events of her life, there is one moment that Faith thinks of most fondly. It is not the times that she saved the world, or the time she killed her first vampire, or the time she escaped her home. The moment she loves most is the one she whispers every night to the girl who lies in her arms.
Faith's favorite moment is simply of the afternoon when she looked into a pair of sparkling green eyes, and remembered how to love.
And Buffy of course, invariably replies,