These Secrets Kept

by Vixen Raign

Copyright © 2006

Rating: R
Disclaimer: Joss, UPN, WB, FX, and FOX own Buffy: the Vampire Slayer and Angel: the Series along with Mutant Enemy and a few other people I'm sure to forget. All I own is my freaky turn of mind.
Distribution: The Mystic Muse
Want, Ask, Have. Just tell me where and get the name right.
Feedback: Yes, I live for it!
Spoilers: All
Author's Note: Okay, I know this is kinda twisted, and that it's totally off the handle, but I can explain: THIS WAS ORIGINALLY A DREAM. I thought it up the night before I had to take my Biology final, and there had been no Buffy to watch on TV. I think this is how my brain reacts to BtVS withdrawal.
Pairing: Buffy/Faith

Summary: How Buffy and Faith really feel about each other.

Chapter 1
These Secrets Kept

Wood watched as Faith trotted happily down the steps of The Hyperion. Although Angel Investigations now owned Wolfram and Heart, the aged vampire still liked to work out of the old building. Faith had liked it too. She didn't like the almost hospital-like lighting of the new downtown complex, it reminded her of times she'd rather forget. While said girl grabbed her bag and looked through it for a second, the former principal walked over to his girl-friend and hugged her from behind.

"Hey, Woody?" she asked quickly, "Have you seen my sun-glasses? I don't want to leave without them…" he kissed her cheek lightly, and shook his head.

"Don't worry, you'll find them. I saw you with 'em on when you brought the coffee in this morning…maybe you left them in Angel's office?" Faith nodded and walked towards the familiar windowed door. At a distance, Wood fallowed, keeping an eye on the brunette. She'd been acting odd all week. The only thing on her mind was the trip to Ohio, and seeing The Academy's progress. Faith found the aforementioned eyewear on Angel's desk, and smiled at her now long-time friend.

"So, Dead-boy!" Faith said, sitting on the hard mahogany surface of his workspace. "You gonna wish me luck on my little trip or what?" she smiled, and the brooding man actually smiled back, laughter just noticeable beneath it.

"I would, but I bet you don't need it." Faith smiled, and nodded slightly.

"But still…" she said, looking at him, "Wouldn't hurt to have it on my side." Faith but her sun-glasses on, which was sort of pointless this late on a November after noon. The sun was setting and the sky was quickly growing darker by the minute. Faith suddenly seemed to remember something. "Oh! Angel, did you rent that car I asked for?" Now the Vampire really did laugh.

"Faith , I'm not sure I like the idea of you driving a 2003 Thunderbird…I've been 'privileged' enough to see you drive, and that much horsepower under your control would be dangerous to society." Faith gave him a mock glare, and flipped him off.

"Fine, no thunderbird…but then what did you get me?" she asked shortly.

"Now, it's nothing special, but I think it's nice. Very safe, and very stylish, and it CAN go fast, should you choose to…" Angel said the last part KNOWING that Faith would be ripping the guts out of this thing once she hit the right stretch of road. "Also, convertible, just like you asked." Faith give him an approving nod and held her hand out for the keys. With a great sigh of artificial suffering, Angel got up and took a set of keys out of his pocket, and placed them in Faith 's hands.

"Angel…" Faith said slowly, inspecting the keys, "These go to the Belvedere…where are my keys?" Angel just smiled, and Faith 's eyes became wide in astonishment. "You're letting me take the Angel-Mobile!" Faith yelled, a mix of shock and overwhelming surprise. Angel nodded and was instantly pulled into a bone crushing hug.

"Ugh," the Vampire groaned, "Just bring it home in the kind of pieces that can be put back together." He squeezed out around Faith 's arms. She nodded excitedly, and grabbed her bag. Running past an unnoticed Wood, she snatched her larger over-night bag and quickly headed for the door.

"Hey Faith !" Wood called to her from Cordelia's former reception area, "…Good-luck." He smiled at her, and she gave him a nod, face falling slightly before turning into a fake grin.

"Who needs luck? I got talent!" she joked as she jogged out of the hotel. Wood stood at the door and watched her happily pack up the Belvedere. He tossed the object in his hand slightly. Throwing it into the air, he would catch it blindly as he watched his girl-friend happily get in her car and head down the road just barely over the speed-limit. Silently fallowing her, Wood caught his own keys for the last time, and got into his 2000 Jetta.

Discreetly, Wood fallowed Faith through town, and to the highway. It was there that he realized they were heading in the wrong direction. Ohio was North-East from LA by a long way…so why were they both headed South? After a while, and some serous thoughts later, Wood fallowed the brunette off the high-way and down a series of twisting, almost country-like roads. Passing a sign, Wood read the conservative scripts that read: "The Gaslight Edition".

As Wood slowly fallowed his girlfriend through the swirling roads of this Suburbia-Hell, he realized something: Faith knew this place. She made turns with confidence and ease, not slowing to read road signs or with the aid of any landmarks. The streets were empty now, save the odd middle- aged mad jogging with his dog. After turning one last corner, Wood saw that Faith had pulled into a driveway of what seemed like any other house on the block. Wood silently pulled into the drive way of a few houses down that seemed empty.

He slouched low in his seat, curiosity overpowering his sense of reason. What was Faith doing here? Where was here? And, most importantly, who lived in this house. The principal watched as Faith slowly made her way up the walk and towards the small stairs. She fixed her hair slightly, and raised her hand to knock. She pulled it back for a second, and looked vaguely in Wood's direction. Raising her hand again, she readied to knock. But before she could, the door flew open. Leaning his head out the door slightly, Wood could just hear what was being said.

"Hey." Faith said, quiet and breathless. There was no reply, and at first Wood wondered if this was someone Faith knew. Just as suddenly as the door flew open, a small figure stepped out onto the front porch. It was Blonde, stern, and smiling slightly.

"Hey." Came the cool reply. Buffy smiled a little wider and looked down at her feet. Just then there was a squeak of joy and a few clomping steps. The next thing Wood knew there was another tall brunette latched onto his girl-friend.

"Whoa, easy Dawny!" Faith scolded slightly, "We got all week to hang out, don't want to waste some of it by suffocating me, now do ya?" Faith joked. Dawn laughed and pulled back.

"Dawn," Buffy said, a mix of shortness and concern, "Are you all packed?" Dawn nodded, and turned to her sister.

"Yup, everything except my toiletries." Buffy looked towards the front- door, and then at her wrist.

"Alright, well go get your stuff, we don't want to throw Faith off her time- schedule." Dawn nodded and quickly headed up stairs. Faith looked down at her boots and them back at the blonde.

"Thanks for doing this Faith ," Buffy said slowly, a slight hint of caring in her voice, "Dawn really isn't adjusting to life on the normal side of hell greatly, and she seems to fit in at The Academy better than at the stupid charter school she got excepted to." Faith shrugged, and smiled slightly.

"She'll get used to it. Besides, if all else fails, she'll make a great watcher some day." Buffy snorted slightly, and nodded. "How have you been?" Faith asked slowly, trying to break the silence of the porch.

"Good, very good actually." She replied honestly, "Being a Cop isn't as bad as I thought it'd be. Well, security guard anyway." She shook her head slightly and quieted. "How's Wood?"

"Same old, same old." She replied dryly. Wood felt a tinge of hurt at this comment; he had thought they were doing well together. "But I guess that's the problem…he just doesn't surprise me anymore." Now Wood really was hurt. What was wrong with knowing everything about a person? He had half a mind to get out of the car just to show her he still had a trick or two up his sleeves.

"Well, that's the problem with dating, you have to get to know the guy…you know, like knowing more then his name?" Buffy's little barb didn't through Faith off at all, in fact it made her smile slightly.

"Yeah, well, dating I can handle," Faith said as she dug her boot-tip into the deck, "Boring boyfriend is another story." The blonde nodded, and smiled, leaning against the door-frame.

"I know what you mean. Half the time I couldn't listen to what Riley was saying…" Buffy trailed off and looked more directly at Faith. "What exactly is he doing wrong?" she asked, sounding concerned.

"I don't think it's Him, B." She said, pushing hands into her pockets. "Some people can put you to sleep just by telling you their name, and others, well…" Faith trailed off, an almost dreamy sound to her voice, "Some people you can know your whole life, and they will never cease to amaze you." Wood watched as Buffy Blushed, and put a hand to her cheek.

"Faith , please…" Buffy trailed off, then suddenly stopped as Dawn came out the door.

"Okay, I'm ready!" she declared, showing her bags to the two other girls.

"Great." Faith said quickly, "Why don't you pack it in and get situated?" Faith offered, and Dawn was off. Seconds later the two girls heard her squealing about how lucky Faith was about being loaned the Belvedere.

Both Slayers laughed and looked to each other, watching as Dawn put her headphones on and packed her stuff into the car. Buffy waved Faith into the house, and Wood quickly tried to fallow. The house was build fairly similar to the old Summers Home. Fallowing the path around the back Wood looked in through the rear-window over the sink. Even the kitchen was in the same place. Listening through the cracked open window, he witnessed the two Slayers enter the room in mid conversation.

"I know how much you and Dawn can consume on long car rides, so I went out to the store to get you guys drinks for the trip." Buffy turned and opened the fridge, which was actually closer to the back door that expected. She shifted around in it for a few minutes, not noticing Faith slowly approaching her from behind. Wood noticed how the brunette's eye traveled over the older girls' body and wondered if Faith had seen her limping.

"I ended up going to one of those Bulk places," Buffy continued, "you know, like Costco? Anyways, they had a giant create of Root-Beer and Orange Soda so I thought 'Hey!' – " Buffy turned around, and came not only face-to- face, but nose-to-nose with the brunette slayer. Buffy cleared her throat, and tried to continue, playing their closeness off as nothing. "Uh, 'Hey! Why not buy it and send it with Faith on their road-trip?' So I got it and "

"What's the matter B?" Faith asked suddenly, "We got to be SO close over the Summer at the school, and now…" Faith trailed off, her voice thick with disappointment, "Now you don't call unless it was Dawny's idea. We hung out all day, every day…we had a lot of fun together and now we barely talk. What happened?" she asked quietly, "What did I do wrong." Buffy shook her head, and looked away, her voice almost silent.

"You didn't do anything, Faith." She said, trying to turn back around, but Faith wouldn't let her. Faith firmly took her shoulders and pressed her against the Ice-Box.

"Then why? Why? What happened B, what went wrong?"

"Nothing went wrong, Faith , we're just not like that any more." Buffy still wouldn't look at Faith , and it was starting to make the brunette mad.

"We're not like that anymore, or YOUR not like that anymore?" She said with an edge. Buffy sighed, and closed her eyes. All the while Wood was not only lost but also quite confused. True, Faith had told him that the two original Slayers had grown close at The Academy, but when he had visited late in the summer they didn't seem any closer than Buffy and Andrew.

"Faith , please, let me go?" Buffy asked quietly. Faith kept holding her, though it seemed almost hard. "Faith , please?" she asked, slightly louder.

"You know I can't do that B." Faith said firmly but quietly, "I can't let you go, and you know that. It's not that easy…" 'How hard could it be?', Wood wondered, 'you just relax your fingers and let her push off the fridge'.

"Faith plea – " Buffy started, but never finished. As soon as she opened her eyes, she saw that Faith had tears rolling down her cheeks. Her face turning from restlessness to comforting Buffy looked on as her friend let the water droplets run down her face.

"B, I know I can fix this, please?" Buffy didn't seem to hear, she was too transfixed by the crying girl before her. "Why can't we go back to the way we were?" Faith pleaded almost silently, "We were happy…the both of us." Buffy slowly seemed to shake herself out of her reverie.

"I know Faith , but that wasn't fair. There were other people involved as well." Faith looked away, and tried not to think about the fact that the blonde must have been right. "What about me? You may want what we had, but I don't Faith. Now please, trust me when I say this…" Buffy put her hand on either side of Faith 's face, wiping the tears with her thumbs.

"It's not you, okay? It's not your fault, it's mine. I just can't deal with it right now. I have to settle into this new life, and the try and salvage what I can from the last couple. But that doesn't mean I don't…feel it, Faith. I do, okay? It's in here," she said, taking a hand away to put it on her chest, "I know that's not what you want to hear but…Ugh!" Buffy moaned, and stomped her foot slightly.

"Faith , please…I know it's not what you want to hear but – " Faith placed her hand over the one on Buffy's chest, and quickly caught the blonde's eyes.

"You feel it?" Faith asked her slowly, "You still feel it…in here?" she asked slowly. Buffy nodded, and closed her eyes. "All I want to do is make you Happy, Buffy." At the use of her full name, the older Slayer opened her eyes. Slowly and carefully, Faith brushed hair away from Buffy's face.

"Faith , Please…you have to go." Faith shook her head, and quick as a flash smashed her body up against Buffy's sandwiching her against the fridge. Faith had claimed the blonde's mouth in a fierce yet yielding kiss. It oozed passion, and longing, and desire. And, it was not their first…this much Wood knew. His fists clenched as he watched as the two women kissed almost mercilessly, both whimpering and caressing the other's face. Faith 's hands found Buffy's hips and lifted her up, bracing her against the Ice-box and freeing her to wrap her legs around his supposed girl-friend. But just as Faith 's hand was about to find the edge of Buffy's top, the blond pulled away.

"No, Faith , please…Stop!" she panted quickly. She jumped down, and held her self up with the edge of the counter. "Fai…" she said slowly, using the nick-name Wood had never head before, "We've talked about this…we can't!" Faith looked ready to fight her on this, but Buffy raised her hand. "I mean it Faith ! I told you, I won't take part in this." she took a deep calming breath, and continued. "Wood is my friend, and I told you I won't do this to him. He's good guy, and you're luck y to have him…" Wood was shocked by what the blonde had just said, he never thought that Buffy had really cared for him that much besides when she'd worked for him.

"And yes, I know, you offered to leave him and be with me but…He likes you! He's good for you! You need to learn how to function in normal society and he's perfect for that. Plus, he a decent guy that wants to be with you!" Faith looked away, but tried to speak again.


"No, Faith , let me finish. I'll admit it, there are Me factors too. I'm living the suburban life now, and people here are a little…closed minded. I want to fit in. They think it's odd enough that I'm a single college drop-out taking care of my sister and has a job as the local Rent-A- Cop. And YES, I know that their opinions shouldn't matter," she said, halting all Faith 's refutes that were sure to come, "But I want to at least get settled, and not have to worry about getting kicked out of the book-club, should I ever choose to join."

"B, please…" Faith stammered, "I can't handle this without you! You're all I think about, all that I want, or have EVER wanted!" Faith said, advancing on her counter-part. "Please, B…I can't do this without you?" Now Buffy was wiping tears off her own face, and reaching back into the fridge.

"You'd better go, Dawn will be waiting." Faith looked like she had something very important to say but couldn't get the words to come out. "Tell Dawn that she's to fax her assignment to the house daily and that Willow will be checking up with her and myself regularly." Buffy handed the box of sodas to Faith , and reached into the front of her shirt (blushing slightly). She pulled for a small wad of bills, mostly made of ones. She tossed it on top of the sodas, and instantly Faith 's face changed.

"Uh, B, I don't – "

"Consider it Gas-Money." Buffy said quickly, a slight smile on her lips. "That old car doesn't have the best Gas-mileage and you two have quite a drive ahead of you…also, she loves to stop and shop at gas-station places and drive-throughs. Most of it will be spent on her stomach." Faith nodded, and Buffy looked down at her shoes. "Her spending money's in her account, I just up-dated it and that is to last her through to the end of the month…Remind her of that." Buffy said looking up. The two looked at each other, longing and loneliness etched in both their eyes, but neither moved.

"Come with us?" Faith asked her quietly, almost pleading. Buffy shook her head, and looked back down at the floor.

"No. No, I can't. I have to work, and I have to start to get ready for the policemen's exam in a few weeks. Maybe next time?" Faith readjusted the box, and pushed past Buffy.

"You always say that…then when there's a next time you just say it again." Buffy put a hand on Faith shoulder, and the brunette turned to look almost spitefully at her. But no words came. Buffy just stood there, smiling slightly at the brunette, and thinking. Faith 's scowl slowly left her until she too was smiling lightly. Buffy leaned forward and planted a chaste kiss on Faith 's lips before pulling back. Faith tried to catch her lips again, but Buffy wouldn't allow it.

"You'd better go, Dawn's been honking." Faith licked her lips and nodded. As the brunette walked out the door, Wood made his way back towards his car, being as quiet as possible. He watched as Faith loaded the drinks into the back seat. Dawn yammered on about some song on the radio, and Buffy sat on the standard-issue swing-bench on their porch. Every chance she got, Faith would look back at the blonde, who never let her eyes leave Faith.

Wood just sat back and watched as an incredible myriad of emotions play through him. Anger, jealousy, remorse, and even ultimately Understanding. Wood had always known that Faith had the ability to love, which was more then Xander believed, but he never thought it would be Buffy that she'd fall for. And, from the looks of it, she had fallen a long time ago…

Pulling out of the driveway, Faith waved, and Dawn called her good-byes to her sister. As the two girls in the classic car made their way down the street, Wood watched as Buffy sat almost motionless except for the slight nodding of the swing. She was staring down at her hands, unblinkingly, thinking about whatever it is that Buffy thinks bout after being involved in adultery…and that's when Wood saw it. A tear ran down her cheek, and snuffles could be heard from the Summers' porch.

Far from demons, and even further from any known Hellmouth, Buffy still wasn't happy. In fact, she was downright miserable. And all in the name of love.

Chapter 2
Secondary Revelations

As Faith packed the Sodas into the back of the Angel-Mobile, she looked back at Buffy. The blonde was sitting on that damned swing, just watching them. Faith shook her head and got in the car. As she turned the engine on she reached out the window.

"Bye Buffy!" Dawn called loudly. Faith wondered if the neighbors would mind all the late-night yelling, then realized she didn't give a shit. Waving to the blonde, she pulled out of the drive-way, and down the street. She kept watching the older girl in her rear-view mirror. She stayed sitting there until they had turned out of sight. Wondering what she was gonna do now, Faith made her way back to the highway.

"So, what route are we taking this time," Dawn asked her excitedly, "Because the last one you tried took us an extra day to get there." Faith laughed lightly, and handed her a road-map of the United States.

"Well, we know it'll go much faster now that you have your license, but I also planned it out this time." Dawn laughed and nodded. Leaning over lightly while trying to keep her eyes on the road, Faith pointed out the path she'd found. "We're gonna head towards Nevada, but just so we can cross the Hoover Damn, and from there we're going into Arizona. I figured we could pass Grand-Canyon Park and see the sights. Then, from there, we're gonna hit The Four Corners, and then through Colorado. From there we're gonna gun all the way through Nebraska and into Missouri – "

"But wouldn't it be easier to go through Iowa?" Dawn interrupted. Faith's jaw clenched involuntarily, and she swallowed hard.

"Nah, never liked that state. Besides, we'll have seen enough Corn in Nebraska."

"But that's where Riley's from! We could pass by his house or go see his home town?" Dawn sounded excited about it, but Faith rather gnaw her own foot off than go and see that Teutonic dolt.

"Nah, we'll have wasted too much time already with the Hoover Damn and the Grand Canyon. But after Missouri we're just gonna zip through Illinois and Indiana, and then we're in Ohio. From there we just have to get to Cleveland." Faith put her hand back on the wheel and focused on the road completely again.

Dawn opened her back-pack and took out her CD-case. As she was flitting through it, a strange beeping rang through the car.

"Is that 'Sweet Home Alabama'?" Faith asked slowly, hoping she was wrong. Dawn blushed and pulled her cell-phone out of its pocket.

"What? I love that movie?" Dawn defended herself.

"Whatever…" Faith said as she heard the smaller girl click the Talk button.

"Hello?" Dawn asked. The volume was turned up so high Faith could hear every word of what was said (partly due to Slayer Hearing).

Hey Dawny, It's Buffy, the blonde sounded serious. Faith huffed and laughed slightly. Snatching the phone away quickly Faith put it to her own ear.

"You could at least let me get her to Mexico before you called!" Faith said jokingly into the phone. She heard Buffy give a slight chuckle but then silence it.

That's not why I called, she sounded serious again, I want you to look behind you and see if a small black Volkswagen is fallowing you. Faith looked in her mirrors and saw nothing.

"Nah, B, there's nothing there." She said, not slightly worried herself. "Why do you ask?"

Our neighbors of a few houses down, they said that just after you pulled up a small black Jetta or possibly a Passat parked in their drive way. she sounded worried. That wasn't all, they said that a person got out and tried to get in the back door. She said that it tried to get in after you and I went inside. Faith was now rechecking the road behind her.

"No, B, it's all clear. Are you sure that the visitor wasn't for you?" she asked, the thought not brining her any comfort.

No, they said that the car pulled out after you guys left. Faith heard her take a huge sigh, and she must have sat down because she heard a chair creek. God, I was so worried…Faith could just see her; sitting curled up on the couch, head in her hands, portable phone at her ear. It made Faith smile.

"You were worried about me?" she asked slowly, just a hint of flirting in her voice. Then, seeing the look on Dawn's face, quickly cleared her throat and added, "'Cause I'm not incompetent." She heard Buffy laugh, and knew the blonde could tell exactly what happened.

I know Fai, you have many talents, and one of them is taking very good care of yourself. Faith blushed. That was not only flirting, it was also a compliment.

"Thanks B…is that the only reason you called?" asked slowly, keeping her eyes on the road, but her mind on the blonde (nothing new about that).

Well, yeah, that and tell Dawn that I'll be working from ten to six tomorrow and that I would like her to call me before I go to work…Buffy said quickly, slightly off hand, and make sure you two keep track of the time change this time! She warned. Faith laughed and assured her she would.

"No worries B, she'll call." They were both quiet for a second, just thinking, then Buffy slowly broke it.

So, I, uh…I guess I'll see ya then…she sounded like she didn't want to hang up, and the brunette felt the same way. Tell Dawn that I miss her already…then even quieter, almost silently she added,…and you. That made Faith smiled, and she glanced at Dawn before turning her attention back to the phone.

"Alright B, I'll remember that." She sighed lightly and said her goodbyes; "You just take care of yourself while your Sis isn't there to look out for you, okay?"

Alright, I will. Bye Faith.

"Later B." with that she hung up the phone, and handed it back to Dawn. She placed it back in her bag as she went back to picking a CD.

"What'd she say?" she asked Faith, almost bored.

"She was worried we had been fallowed. Your neighbors said that there was someone that seemed to be after us, or at least interested in us." Dawn nodded, not too shocked, and went back to her CDs.

"Oh!" she added suddenly, picking her head up, "Did she say anything about my Extra Credit work?" Faith shook her head, and Dawn waved it off. "Oh well, I'll just ask her about it when she makes me call tomorrow."

"Yeah, she told me to tell you that she's working from Ten to Six. And you have to call her before that." Faith added, swerving across three lanes to get the right Exit. Dawn grabbed the car door, and put out a bracing hand to the dash-board.

"I will…" she said, voice slightly shaky. "Did she say anything about weather or not she was going to take the night-shift next week?"

"Nah, she didn't mention anything about it, why do you ask?" Faith asked. She head Dawn giggle, and was forced to look at her for a second. "Why? What's so funny?"

"Danny, that's what." She said, opening one of the sodas she had retrieved from the back.

"Who's Danny?" Faith asked quickly, not liking the sound of it.

"Her Partner," Dawn started, but never got to finish.

"Partner!" Faith asked quickly, swerving excessively as she tried to change lanes. The younger girl grabbed the seat lightly, and looked at Faith suspiciously.

"Yeah, her partner. You know, like, the other officer she works with?" Faith still wasn't out of the woods yet, who was this person, and why did it make the night shift 'funny'?

"Yeah, so…what about Danny?" she asked, trying to play it off as nothing.

"He's been asking her to take the same night shift as him for weeks, but she still keeps saying 'No'." Dawn laughed and drank some of her soda. Then, as though realizing she looked back at Faith. "She never told you about him?" she asked.

"Nah, I guess it slipped her mind." Faith chewed her thumb-nail slightly, and kept her eyes on the road. She was relieved that 'Danny' was Buffy's partner that way, but being a man she worked with wasn't that much better. She does prefer men, Faith thought, and she has fallen in love with Humans before…

"He's so in love with her!" Dawn laughed. At that Faith almost slammed on the breaks, but tried to recover by honking loudly and yelling out the window. "Whoa, Faith, take it easy!" Dawn laughed.

"Sorry, I'm just not used to driving this car…don't want Angel to kill me if I crash it, ya know?" Dawn nodded and Rolled down her window, letting the cool air fill the car. It helped calm the Slayer down slightly before asking her next question. "So, what do you mean 'he's so in love with her'? Are they dating?" she asked as though it was nothing. Dawn actually snorted.

"He wishes!" she laughed, "He's REALLY into her, but I don't think she likes him that way. They're really close, though. He's just about the closest thing she has to a Xander, so he's always over watching movies and hanging out. He's pretty cool." Faith nodded and kept her eyes on the road, it helped to keep her calm.

"So, like…What's her excuse? Why doesn't she go out with him? Is he Fat?" she asked with a slight smirk.

"Are you nuts! He's SO cute! He looks like he fell out of an Abercrombie and Fitch poster…" She went back to flitting through her CDs and missed Faith's slightly hurt look.

"But that still doesn't answer my question; Why won't she go out with him? Has he not asked her?"

"No, he has, LOADS of times," she replied, almost bored sounding, "I think he knows she's just going to keep turning him down, so he keeps asking so she'll say yes to shut him up…"

"Is it working?" she asked.

"Not to my knowledge. It seems like an inside joke to them now. She knows exactly what he's trying to do, and he knows that she knows…does that make sense?" Dawn asked, looking up again.

"But she's got to have a reason," Faith said slowly, "I mean, no guy will just take no for an answer! What's her excuse, what does she tell him?" Faith pretended to not be interested by looking for the cruse control.

"A real one, I hope!" she said huffily, "She said that she'd had way too many in-office relationships, and that most of them have ruined her work- habits, ruined her friendships, or even ruined her life." Dawn sighed, and laughed slightly, "When he asked for an example she couldn't think of one that would make sense to him. Then I reminded her of the thing with Robin Wood, and she told that to him." Faith noticed Dawn looking at her through the corner of her eye.

"What?" she asked, making it obvious that she knew she was being stared at.

"It's just…isn't it weird that you're dating the same person that Buffy was? I mean, doesn't that get between you some times?" Faith laughed and grabbed the steering wheel with both hands as she plowed through a section of open High-way.

"Kid, you have NO IDEA…"

Phone Booth Blues

Dawn looked down at the Gas-gage, and then at the nearest road sign. Just a little further, she told her self. She reached a gentle hand forward and shook the older brunette in the seat next to her. Faith woke slightly groggy, asking where Buffy was.

"She's probably at home, waiting for me to call." Dawn laughed. Faith looked at her confused before realizing where she was. Sitting up a little straighter she stuck her head out the window slightly. The early morning air woke her right up, and brought the color back to her cheeks.

"Where abouts are we?" she asked as she stretched her sore mussels.

"Not far from the Grand-Canyon. But we need to stop soon, almost out of gas." Dawn explained, tiered herself. She laughed slightly at the sound of Faith's stomach growling. "Don't worry, the nearest place is a truck stop. They have Premium Gas, and a Diner. We're gonna switch back after that, right?" Faith nodded as Dawn turned into the exit, flashing her turn lights and everything.

"New drivers…" she muttered to herself, thinking Dawn wouldn't hear. The younger girl knew it was a joke, and she didn't care either way.

"Still way better than you…" she shot back, also in a stage whisper. Faith laughed as they pulled into their parking spot. The bright lights of the neon sign glowed slightly in the early morning sun.

"Hey Kid, why don't I get us a table and you fill the tank?" Dawn nodded and watched as the older woman walked into the Diner. Both girls held in a laugh as they simultaneously watched faith turn the truckers' heads. After setting the nozzle into the car and clicking it down, she watched the meter run the price.

"Thank GOD for gas cards!" Dawn said, leaning against the side of the Belvedere. A few minutes later she met Faith in the booth she'd obtained towards the back of the homey-greasy-spoon they had stopped into. Faith pointed over her shoulder as she sipped her coffee.

"Don't forget to call B, she'll be pissed if we forget." Dawn fallowed the line of her finger and realized why she chose a booth in the back, it was right next to the phones. "Tell me what you want then get dialing." Faith said, nose buried in the menu. Dawn picked it up and brushed over it for a second of two.

"Just get me a Waffle and some Orange Juice." She stepped into the booth and closed the door. Dawn used to love Phone Booths, though now she was slightly more weary about them ever since Buffy took her to see that movie with Katie Holmes in it. Picking up the receiver she dialed a familiar number. As it rang she watched Faith silently order on the other side of the glass panels.

Hello? came Buffy's tired voice through the receiver.

"Hey Buffy, you asked me to call?" dawn said reading some of the funny names and jokes written on the booth's walls.

yeah, I wanted to hear who things were going. she said, obviously more awake now, How's you're driving? Are you okay with Faith sleeping while it's your turn? Do you want me to talk to her? she asked quickly, the question coming at Dawn in a rush.

"No, it's okay Buffy, I'm fine." She sighed, and then yawned. She heard Buffy laugh and couldn't but smile at the sound of it. It was still rare to hear that sound.

I take it that it was your turn before you called? she guess.

"Correct. We just stopped to get some food and some Gas…" Dawn said distractedly, "Hey, wanna hear a joke about a Turtle and a Lizard?" she asked, having just read it etched in the glass.

No thanks, I think I've heard it. she replied, voice slightly muffled. She must be dressing, Dawn thought.

"Did it involve a tennis-racquet?" dawn asked her slowly.

…No, and now that you mention it, I don't want you reading it either!

"Too late. Anyways! Are you getting ready for work?"

Yeah, almost ready too. Where are you guys exactly, I don't recognize the Zip-Code?

"Well, we're in Arizona, just a few miles away from the Grand-Canyon. We saw the Hoover-Damn!" dawn said excitedly, "AT NIGHT!" Buffy chuckled slightly, and could be heard shifting the phone.

That's great! Mom took me to see it a year before you were born…don't really remember it though. she sighed, and the coffee maker could be heard beeping in the back-ground

"Maybe you should come next time, you know, as a celebration if you pass the Policemen's Exam!" Now dawn really was excited, she knew that her sister had a lot of fun at The Academy. She knew Buffy didn't have that much fun living as alone and secluded as they did out in Pasadena.

Maybe, but I dunno if it would be wise to take time off just after getting accepted…It was an excuse not to get her hopes up, and Dawn knew it. Buffy always had troublemaking plans for a future that exceeded a week. Things had ALWAYS been hectic in Buffy's life with her parents fighting, or with Slaying, and she'd only been slightly normal for about Six-Months now, she was still adjusting to normalcy. Just then there was a knocking on the booth. Faith was standing out side, and their food had arrived.

"Hey, food's here." She said simply. She ushered Dawn out of the booth, and stepped inside herself, closing it behind her. "Hey, B?" she asked slowly. There was a familiar laugh and a slight sigh

Can't you EVER let me talk to Dawn without grabbing the phone away? she said affectionately. Faith laughed slightly herself and watched as Dawn started eating.

"What can I say, I'm missing you terribly…" she said is sarcastically, but it was more true then not.

Are you being a Sass-Mouth Ms. Faith? she asked sounding slightly like Willow. Faith replied that maybe she was, and Buffy gave a shocked gasp, And here I thought it wasn't just me…At that Faith actually pulled the phone away from her ear to look at it.

"B, is that really you?" she joked.

I'd have thought that you of ALL PEOPLE would be able to tell who this is. She laughed, just then the door-bell rang, and Buffy really did gasp. Shoot, Faith? That's my ride, I have to get going…?

"Alight, you be careful, okay?" she asked, knowing it sounded dumb, but was compelled to ask anyways.

I will Faith. Give Dawny a hug for me? Faith smirked slightly, and whispered darkly into the phone

"Only if you give one to Danny from me?" at that there was a slight paused, and then the phone clicked. Faith was glad she got Buffy back for not telling her, but at the same time, she was already missing the sound of Buffy's voice. Also, after that, it was sure to be a while before they spoke again. Hanging up the phone, Faith went back to her food.

"What did she say?" Dawn asked through a mouthful of food.

"Nothing too important, just that she had to get going and that I have to give you a hug or some shit…" she played it off as nothing and began digging into her food. She didn't want to say it, but she wished she hadn't said that to Buffy…they talk so little as it was. I hope she doesn't take it too hard, Faith thought.

Chapter 3
Throwing Caution Downwind

Six months. It's It'd been about six months since I last saw her, and if you asked I could probably give it to you down to the seconds. I miss her, no denying that. I'm sure you can see it on my face, and even Dawn noticed it. Faith didn't even bother to come in when she dropped her off last time. Just dumped the poor girl on the porch with her bags, and the only excuse she had was that she didn't want to wake me! I'm still a Slayer, and it is still my instinct to be awake at 9:30! Ugh, she makes me so mad…

But that's not the point. It's been half a year, and I've probably said less then 25 words to her in that time. When she would call and talk to Dawn, she never asks asked her to hand the phone over to me anymore, and I hate it. I miss her so much I bleed. It's unnatural to be away from her this long.

When she was in the hospital sitting wrong word in a coma for eight months there were lonely nights I would go and sit by her bed. I spent many a lonely night, during those eight months she was in a coma; sitting next to her bed, holding her hand, kissing her head, and crying. 'I had done that', I would think, 'I had done that to my Faith'. I always thought she'd felt it when I was there, I could always feel her in my blood on those nights…but the Body-Switching incident laid testament that I was the only one who experienced that.

There were several times when she was locked away that I had gone to see her. No, not in a CV-kinda-way, but using what Giles taught me. He'd explained to me how Slayer dreams work. When it was dark, and I was cold, and the whole thing with Adam or Riley or Spike was getting me down, all I had to do was sleep. I'd stay awake for as long as I could and then meditate. I'd find my Slayer-Core, and I was there. We would be there, together, in our dreams.

She would be angry some times, and she would try and hurt me, and I'd be thankful that delete "that" they were just dreams…but then there were times when she would break-down and cry, falling in my arms, and I'd want her there with me. She'd apologize, and I'd hold her, and I'd feel so ashamed. I made her do this, I'd made her the killer she saw herself as. I was her murderer. But we worked through all that, and now we're closer then we've ever been…or at least we were. I wish I could go back to that, I miss her so much, and I know I treated her like crap. After all the shit I put her through I'd be shocked if she even felt anything for me at all.

Suddenly I hear a knock at the door and I'm out of my seat faster than if someone had lit a fire under me. I don't even notice I've just spilled the remains of my popcorn all over the floor. Glancing at my watch I see that it's 8pm, and I realize I got the time wrong. My heart freezes as I realize who exactly is standing on my porch. I run to the door, and stand before

it for a second. I thought I had more time, I thought I had til midnight again…but I was wrong. Looking down at my clothes I suddenly feel self-conscience in my plain jeans and zip-up-hoody. But as I see her figure move through the frosted panes of glass in our front door, I realize what I wear doesn't matter; she's all that matters.

I pull the door open, and instantly I feel better. All the loneliness is gone, and I feel like I've been pulled out of frozen water and can breath again. She looks up, and smiles slightly, but then wipes it away even faster. Always putting on a mask, Faith, never showing your true face…but I've seen it, and I'll never forget how beautiful it is. I smile at her, and the struggle for her to keep a stern face is noticeable.

"Hey." I say quietly, she nods slightly, and runs a hand through her hair.

"Hey." comes her short reply. I wave her in, and she slowly passes over the threshold. She shoves her hands into her pockets, and I know its to keep herself from fidgeting. I know because she told me, all those months ago.

"It's good to see you, Faith." she smiles a little at that, and I know she wants to go back to being friends, talking like we used to, and in all honesty I can't remember what caused this rift between us.

"So, you must be Faith?" And suddenly it comes back to me. I Completely forgot Danny was here! Shit, I must have scared the dust out of him when I ran off like that. He's always looking out for me, and I hate it. It's like Riley all over again, but at least Riley knew that I could take care of myself. I watch as Faith looks him up and down, a confused look on her face, and then turns to me. Danny hold out his hand, and smiles. "I'm Danny, Lizzy's Partner." Faith's eye grow massive and I have the sudden urge to throttle Dan until his eye spring from their sockets…But I can't while his hand's attached to Faith.

"Lizzy?" Faith asks incredulously. I look down at my feet, and then look back at Faith.

"Yeah, Lizzy…it's a nick-name for Elizabeth, you know…Like 'Buffy'?" Did Faith really think that my mom would be cruel enough to give me the name 'Buffy' in a legal sense? No, just something that started in Play-Group and kinda stuck. she looks like she's holding in a laugh, and Dan looks confused.

"What, do most people just call you Liz?" Faith just nods, an evil grin on her face. and I'm sure I'm bright red. No one ever calls me Liz, or Lizzy, or Elizabeth…but when I moved and wanted a change, I figured I'd start with my name. I didn't want to be Buffy: the Vampire Slayer anymore, I just wanted to be Elizabeth: Average Working Girl. But Xander was right; you can't bury the past, it'll come right back up to get you. "So, you're the Best-Friend I've heard

so much about?" Danny says jovially, "Were you the one Liz went to visit down in LA a few weeks ago?" Shit. At that I know Faith's going to break something, and all I can do is hope it's not my oblivious partner. She looks at me accusingly, and I clear my throat.

"Uh, No, Dan. I went down there to see my Dad. He lives there too." I say slowly, and Faith looks uneasy. It was true too. I needed some help sending Dawn to Rourke (that school isn't cheap) so we worked out a sort of Gilmore- Girls deal. I have to spend one week-end with him every-other month when he's in town. Luckily he went back to Spain and after that he's spending 4 months in Venice to work out some deals with Old Money families in Italy.

"But didn't you say you were planning on dropping in on that friend of yours?" he asks slowly, "I thought you said you were going to see her…what was her name…Willow, right?"

"No, Willow lives in Ohio, Faith lives in LA." I say quietly, "I had planned to stop in and say hello, but…things came up. I had to come back early." and I can tell by the look on Faith's face she already knows what REALLY happened. I chickened out. I tucked my tail between my legs and ran out of there as soon as I had approached the door and heard Faith talking to Gunn behind it. Dan just nods, and then looks at his watch, and puts his hand on my shoulder.

"Shoot, I didn't realize how late it was! I have to take the car to be serviced okay? Pick you up at 9:00?" he asks quickly, starting to head out the door. I nod, and he speeds off. As the door closes behind him, Faith and I are left alone in the entry hall, and no distractions. The movie we had been watching could be heard playing quietly in the background, and the grandfather-clock next to the door ticks slowly, but that's all. The thought of whether or not Danny knew what he'd just stepped in on unbidden wanders into my head. Faith looks down, and taps the toe of her boot into the carpet.

"So that was Danny?" she asks quietly. I nod, and look down at my own feet, my cross-trainers looking so shabby all of a sudden.

"Yeah, that's him." I glance back into the living room and then down at my clothes and laugh nervously. "Sorry about the mess, I thought you were coming at 12:00 again."

"But you were planning on leaving with Danny at 9:00?" she asks coldly. I have to the urge to point out she didn't even bother to look in on me the last time she stopped stopped by; but I'm too tired, way too tired of everything. Of being lonely, of being sad, of her and I not talking, and I suddenly get the urge to just fall into her arms crying, the way she would with me in her dreams…But I don't. I can't, not here, not when we have 6 months of silence between us. So I nod, and I shift my weight from toe to heel, and stay quiet. she clears her throat and looks towards the living room.

"So where was he taking you? Dancing, dinner, what?" she's trying to sound casual, but I know it's hurting her to even think it. I know, because it was for me. why do you think I had to stay away, Faith? why did you think I hated it so much?

"No, we're registered to do the night shift tonight…we have to be there at 9:30 to start our shift at 10. He just has to get the car checked out before we're cleared for tonight." she nods awkwardly again, and looks at me suddenly.

"Oh, uh, by the way," she sounds kind quiet, "Good job passing the Policemen's Exam…Dawn told me. she was, uh, very proud of you." that's her way of saying she was too, and it makes me smile.

"Yeah, it wasn't too bad, being a former Slayer and all, but the written wasn't a snap I'll tell you that much." She nods and I can't help but ask the question that always comes to mind whenever I see her. "How's Wood?" her face hardens, but then cracks into a smile. she laughs and then looks at me, as though it's a joke I don't get.

"He's just started at this new school down in LA; public again and he's loving it there. He wants to be there for a few years, so he can get a good rep as a delete a principal at a school that didn't get wiped off the face of the earth the only year we was working there. Then he wants to get transferred to the high-school he used to go to."

I just smile, and she does too, though hers is wider, and it makes me nervous. It's one of those Cat-That-Ate-The-Canary Smiles, and i just want to wonder when the feathers will start showing between her teeth.

"So, um, how are you two…you know, as a c-couple?" I choked on the whole sentence but that last word killed me. she shrugs and I'm expecting something along the lines of last time.

"We broke up," if I had water in my mouth it would have been sprayed all over the floor, When the hell did this happen! "When I got back to LA he and I were fine…you know, for all of two days. then, out of the blue he said he wanted to break up. when I asked him why, all he said was that he knew I didn't love him, but I did love some one else…he also mentioned the fact that he had called Willow, and she'd told him that Dawn had been there…he knew I came to see you. He said he knew about us, and he wasn't upset." she sighed and looked right at me, but her stare wasn't accusing, just sad.

"He said he knew it was you. he said he knew because I wouldn't have kept it from him if there wasn't something to hide…" she sighed, and closed her eyes slowly. When she opened them again they were turned away. "…That's why you didn't tell me about Danny, isn't it?"

"Why didn't you tell me about Wood?" I ask, glossing right over the last question. "Why didn't you tell me, Faith? what did you gain by keeping this from me, FOR 6 MONTHS!" now I'm angry, and I don't care. "why, in all that time, did you not tell me! Why didn't you just pick up the phone and tell me something – ANYTHING! why did you keep me in the dark for so LONG! Why Faith?…why didn't you call me?" I want to cry. My eyes are on the verge of burning, and I can feel the tears beneath the surface, but I don't care. I will not cry. Not until I get my answers.

"Why didn't you tell me about Danny!" she demands back, yelling right at me, "Why didn't you tell me about your little cop-lover-boy, huh! Why, for so long, while we were talking, did you not tell me about him! Huh! WHY NOT!"

I calm, and slowly approach her. She takes a step back, her anger making her defensive so I stop, and I smile slightly at her, and approach again. This time, she doesn't move away.

"Faith, I'm sorry. I was worried that if I told you, you'd get angry. I know how jealous you get, and I know how protective you are of me, and I didn't want that." I'm inches away now, and I place a hand on either side of her face. There's a fading light in her eyes, and I know it's a glimpse of her once proud spirit. The defeated fire that once played her passion seems weak and weary…a feeling I know all too well. And once again she looks sad and lost.

"All I wanted was to live my life out here, and I thought that if I told you there was some guy pursuing me that I hung out with all the time, and that I had a lot in common with…you'd be up here, keeping an eye on us, watching us, and…" I sigh and I try to remember how to get my lips and tongue to make sounds that will later become words. I feel like everything I'm saying is coming out wrong, and I don't want that. I want her to understand. I want her to

know. I close my eyes and sigh, wanting things to be perfect, the way they were.

"Faith, you know what happens when we're together, every time, and I thought I was doing what was right, for you, for WOOD, but…if you had just told me…you would have been welcome to meet him, 'cause then you'd see that I didn't want him like that, Faith…I don't like him, he's just a friend, and I'm sorry I started this but…I thought I was acting in your's and Wood's best interests. I'm sorry. I just wanted you to be happy on your own." and with that I feel a tear escape my eye, and I can't help sniffling a little.

For half a year I've thought about her, and missed her, and prayed for her happiness, only to find out I've cause her nothing but pain. she wraps me up in a hug, and I hold her so tight even a Slayer might feel a little winded. she's running her hands down my back, and another tear falls. Only she could ever do this to me, make me feel like I'm helpless and small, and that she'll keep me safe no matter what. That's the only reason I feel like I can cry with her, for her, or in her arms. No one else, not ever again. She's my Faith, and I've missed her so much.

"Faith I'm SO sorry…" is all I can squeeze out before I need to get some air after our bone crushing hug. she shakes her head, and wipes my tears away. Always taking care of me, Faith. God, why did you leave me for so long? "I promise, I won't keep things from you ever again. I'll tell you next time I promise I will!" I sound pleading, and she shakes her head and shushes me. Pulling me close again, she kisses my temple, and she just holds me; the way I wanted her to.

"It's okay, B, It's alright. You don't have to tell me everything. You have a life here, and I have to respect that…" she sounds defeated, and it makes me hold her even tighter, "I know you said that I couldn't come running to you after Wood, and I thought…well…from the way Dawnie laid it out I thought you and he were, you know…I didn't want to come up here and force you to arrest me for assault…" a single quiet chuckle left Faith's throat, and she whispers to me, "Though the idea of you and handcuffs is kinda kinky…"

I gasp, and try to pull away, thinking how Faith can turn anything into a joke, but she doesn't let me. Fast as lightning, she holds me to her, wrapping her arms around my middle, and I see she has a playful smile on her face.

She looks at my lips, and licks hers, and I instantly feel it. Every time she touches me, or looks at me that way, I fall to pieces and melt into her hands. Her Passion and it is strictly hers stirs inside me, and I have never felt so helpless to my needs. She pulls me to her quickly, and for that split second all I can think is; 'about damn time!' It's been far too long, and as wrong as it is, it feels far more right.

Her lips claim mine in a way that is distinctly Faith and I. She's gentle with me, she always is, no matter how she jokes, and I don't care. But at the same time, she has a constant fevered passion that seems to bring out a carnal side to her. She says that I'm the only one that makes her feel that way, the only one that can truly satisfy her, and she whispers that in my ear as she nibbles my neck; holding me like the helpless slave that I am.

"Faith, God, I've missed you…" is all I can get out as she gently sucks on the flesh of my ear, making me purr as only a Slayer can. She lifts me against her, pressing me into the hall closet door. She slowly devours my collar bone, right were Angel's bite is. She's always paid close attention too it. She knows he was my first, and as such has a part of me she can never touch, but she likes to make everything on my body hers. Therefore this is her favorite place to leave her marks; and always as a small heart-shaped Hickey.

But as I bask in the feel of her lips and tongue on my skin, I suddenly look at the clock and realize it's 8:45. Danny will be back in a matter of minutes, and Dawn is still sleeping upstairs…this can't go on forever. It has to stop, I need to get out of this loop, and I need to do it now before it's too late.

"Faith, Stop." I say firmly, no trace of passion left in my voice. It seems to shock Faith as all I was doing for the past many minutes was moaning and mewling at her soft touches all over my

body. She pulls back, and I step down. As she looks at me, almost scared. I take a few deep breaths willing my blood to go to my legs so I can stand on my own.

"I can't do this anymore, Faith. It needs to stop. I need to get out." and with that, it's happened. I've made up my mind, and I'm doing it. It won't be easy, it never is, but it's harder not too. Staying like this will only kill me slowly. "Every time!" I growl, not at her, but she backs away regardless. I storm up the stairs, and I hear her climb the first few as I go into my room. "Every time, every-single-time!" I yell as I come back down. There's a bag in my right hand as I ascend to the main floor again, and she looks confused.

"Every time, Faith. Every time you come by I pack a bag, and every time I tell myself 'this is it, Buffy, this is the time you're going to make it out of here…' but it never happens. I'm tired Faith, and I want out. I was born a Slayer, and I've died as one twice. I don't know life as anything else, and more than that…I'm so lonely, and I'm the only one to blame. This all started so I wouldn't feel so alone, so isolated, so by myself, and it's come back to bite me in the ass. I want out Faith. Please…" I say desperately, the tears back again, "Take me with you?" She smiles and tosses my bag aside, grabbing me in a giant sweeping hug. As she pulls me to her, she seems to whoop for joy, and I feel her tears on my neck, and I know I've done the right thing.

Not just for me, but for her; for us.

The door to Dawn's room opens, and we hear her step out. she walks slowly down the stairs wiping her eyes free of sleep, and looks at us like we're crazy. But we don't care, we're just too happy; and she just shakes her head, and goes back to her room to get her stuff. Faith takes my bag under one arm, and holds out the other to lead me to the car. I tuck myself under it, and she kisses my head softly. As I pack my stuff into the front seat of the Belvedere, she smiles, and pulls me in for a deep passionate kiss. Her lips feel like wet silk against mine, and I know it's because she's crying again. I kiss her even more deeply, letting my tongue play across her lips. But before her need grows too much, I pull gently away. Laying my forehead against hers, I whisper breathlessly.

"No more running Faith, I'm done." I say, sounding exhausted, and she nods. "I'm with you, to Cleveland, to LA, or even back here, I don't care. I'm just so tired of being alone. I'll go where you go Faith;" and I kiss her quickly. "I'm no longer afraid of staying with you…" She quickly pulls me to her in a fast kiss, and she opens the door for Dawn. She's just descended the stairs, and we watch as she jogs towards the car and tosses her stuff in the trunk. She turns a scrutinizing eye towards me.

"You're coming?" she asks like she's half shocked, half excited. I nod, and her face falls, "Does this mean that I have to sit in the back with the Sodas?" I nod, and she huffs as she tosses her case back there.

"But look at the up-side," I say quickly, "This way you both don't have to drive for as long. Dawn gives a long whistle of relief, and Faith and I laugh at the same time. I have a suddenly optimistic outlook on life, and I like it! I slide in, and close the door. I don't think I've ever been his excited about a three day drive before…or any drive, ever, come to think of it. Just as Faith starts the engine, Danny knocks on my door. turning to face him, I see he looks shocked. I just smile and wave.

"Liz, what are you doing?" he asks, almost worried. he's never seen me this free-spirited before, I'm always the calm, cool, collected one, and I think this is scaring him. The thought makes me laugh, and I just smile.

"Dan, I'm sorry I have to go. I'm needed in Ohio." Looking back towards Faith and Dawn I feel more confident than ever when I see their smiles. "It's a family thing." With that Faith revs the engine, and starts to pull out. "Tell Captain Frank that I'm taking a personal leave and will be back as soon as the situation allows." I call as we begin to speed down the street. Just as he starts to fade away, I call a quick thank-you and Faith chuckles.

As we race down the street and towards the highway I roll down my window. As the cool air hits me I can't help but smile and sigh. Glancing at the brunette next to me makes me feel so happy and so free I can't even express it in words. Just seeing the wide smile on that beautiful face makes me wish I had done this ages ago. It makes me wish I had never left in the first place, but then again, if you never know what it's like to drown, you'll never learn how well you can swim.

Epilogue 2
Leaving the Deep-End

As the window rolls down, and I see her take that first deep breath, I wonder; is this what happiness feels like? I thought I had felt it before, and I thought I would feel it again, but this just blows it all away. Nothing has even felt this freeing and peaceful in my life. The way she smiles, the way her hair flies behind her, the sheer warmth of spirit that emanates from this woman beside me is awing. I've admired her grace, she power, her skill, but not this. Never this. Though only because I have never seen her this way before. Free.

She turns to look at me, and her grin is almost laughing. Glancing at the road, she takes in the lights of the highway and the speed of the cars. We're wayover the speed limit, but even as a cop she doesn't care. She lets her head rest on the back of the seat, and I chuckle. Only she is small enough to do that. Even little Fred has to crouch to sit like that. She's looking at me, smiling now, and her eyes sparkle with some formless question.

"What's so funny?" I shake my head, and look back at the road.

"I've missed you." I say, and for possibly the first time, it's not a struggle to get it out. Before, when I would say it, it was something I felt ashamed of, and my pride was once all I had. It's not to be taken lightly. But now, after what she did…it's the easiest thing in the world. She nods her little blonde head, and closes her eyes.

"Not half as much as I missed you." She said quietly. My eyes widen slightly, and I glance into the back seat. That was a bold move for B. Then I see that Dawn's got her MusicMuffs on, and I understand. I run a hand over her hair, and she sighs, leaning into the touch. I can't help my lips widening their grin as I feel this. It's been so long since she just let her self feel, and more than that, feel happy…that's all I ever wanted for her.

We ride a long for a bit in silence, as it's nice. The breeze from the window mixed with the purring of the Angel-Mobile is lulling B to sleep. She's never looked so cute in her whole life I don't think. She's got a tired smile on her face, and small tendrils of gold are swaying behind her where they've escaped her hair-tie. I put an arm out the window, and wave my changing lanes to the guy next to me. He slows, and I move, and I wave again as a thank you. B's breathing is getting slow now, and I can tell that she's almost asleep. I better ask before she drifts off…

"Hey B?" I ask quickly, trying my best to sound off-hand. Her head rolls on the seat to face me, and her eyes open. I clear my throat, and try and think of how best to say this. She lifts here head, and I cringe internally. She knows this is not a light ended question.

"Faith?" Oh. Right. Have to keep talking. Have to ask the question. I glance at her again, and then try to switch lanes to excuse my not looking at her.

"Uh, did you, um…" I say, as I try to work the sounds out of my tight throat. "Did you mean, you know, what you said back there?" she looks confused, and that worries me.

"Which thing?" she asks slowly. As she says this I can't help but think; Does it matter! Was any of it real? Was any of it fake? Why does she have to know which one I was talking about? As I'm having this internal panic, she's placed a hand on my surprisingly tense shoulder, and I see her forehead is creased in worry.

"Fai, are you alright?" She asks in that caring way that makes my feel bad for having her worry, yet I feel bad already or else she wouldn't have asked. I take a deep breath and tell all my thoughts to stop chasing each other around until I get an answer to my question. I turn to look at her fully, which is dangerous on a Southern Californian High-Way, and hold her eyes.

"Did you mean it?" I ask. And she nods. She nods quickly, and reassuringly, but I need to know, for sure, if what she said was true. "Did you mean what you said, B? About us, about you and me?" she's glancing at the highway, and I know it's because she's scared. But what is she scared of? Lying to me, or that we might crash.

"Yes, Faith, I meant it. Now PLEASE, get your eyes back on the road." But I don't. I keep looking at her, but she's still looking at the road.

"Tell me B! Tell me you meant it." She's looking panicked, and I can hear the honking from the other cars.

"Faith, please, think of Dawn!" she yells and she cringes, watching a car swerves to avoid us. Think of Dawn? THINK OF DAWN! She's worried about her sister while I'm trying to figure out what I've gotten myself into? She takes a deep breath, and puts her hand over the one I had on the wheel.

"Faith, please," she says calmly, opening her eyes to look at me, "I meant it, all of it. Now, please, drive with your safety in mind?" she sounds worried, and I finally look out the windshield. I pull the wheel sharply, and narrowly avoid hitting the pillar-divider we were slowly veering towards. I take in a shuddering breath, and glance back at B, who's got a small smile on her face.

"What?" I ask quickly. She just chuckles for a second, then glances at me.

"I wasn't all that worried." She says, almost casual. My eye-brow raises slightly, and she notices it. "I've drowned, fallen through a mystic portal, been shot, and run-through. Non of that stopped me. Besides," she glances at me, and I realize her hand is still in mine, "You may drive like a crazy woman, but you're not one anymore." We both laugh at that, and I can't help but give her soft little fingers a squeeze. Only B would fall for a Crazy woman.

"Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, mock the psychotically challenged." She smiles, and runs her thumb over the back of my hand. Now that things have calmed down a bit, I think I had better explain my question a bit more.

"So, B…Did you mean it? What you said, about us?" she smiles and nods. "All of it?" I had to ask. She laughs and nods again.

"Yes, Fai. All of it." She kisses my hand, and then takes a deep breath as she lays her head back down. Oh, no little lady, I'm not finished yet!

"What I meant was, you know, the part about us. And…being together. Like, you know, together." She opens her eyes, and looks at me. She's confused; her eyebrows are doing that cute scrunchie thing that makes me want to kiss her forehead. I clear my throat, and concentrate on tailgating the guy in front of me.

"For example, in Cleveland…are we gonna share a room?" she blushes, and I'm worried again. She sits up straight, and tries to sweep some of the tendrils out of her eyes.

"Uh, I don't know…I haven't really thought about it yet." I nod, and ask my next question.

"I was just asking, 'cause you said something…back at the house. You said that, uh, that we…could umm." I don't think I've ever asked a question this loaded before. I honestly don't think I have. My hands are shaking on the steering wheel, and I know she can feel it in the one she's holding. I take a deep breath, and force the words out of my mouth as fast as I can.

"I just wanted to know so I could tell Angel." I say quickly. It came out kind of hard, but that was just because it had to be forceful. For me, not for her. I feel her hand quickly leave mine and I look at her. She has a 'Lost in the head-lights' look to her, mixture of shock and fear. "What?"

"Angel knows?" she asks quickly, voice slightly high. Excuse my channelling of Cordy here but; Duh.

"Yeah, B, or course he knows. He was the only one I told. He wasn't stupid, Buff. He knows I wouldn't have left The Academy if I didn't have a good reason. Also, I asked for the job down there the day you flew out of Cleveland…he knew already." She looks like a blonde tomato. I didn't know someone with such fair skin could get so red. Maybe it's a Slayer thing…

"Did he, um…take it well?" she asks delicately. I just nod, and she's taking a few breaths. Suddenly, she gasps, and looks at me. "OH MY GOD!" she yells slightly, "He's known for that long! Why didn't you tell me!" she puts her head in her hand, and grumbles into her hand. "He came to see me about 4 months ago to give me an Evil-Update…He KNEW!" she yells the last part really loud, and dawn looks up for a second, then returns to her book.

"Well, Yeah B. Besides, he'd kind of figure it out if I moved in with you?" I say, and again with the shocked-deer-lights-look.

"Move in?" she asks slowly, face slightly slack. "Wha – when – what?" she asks quickly. I look from her to the road, and back again.

"Moving in together. Remember, we were just talking about it…were you not paying attention?" I ask slowly.

"What? When? Maybe – What!" I have never seen he looks so confused, and I'm starting to think this girl has ADD. We were just talking about this.

"Living together. We were just talking about it, B. Remember, 'cause I wanted to tell Angel. I have to give him my two-weeks-notice is I'm going down to Pasadena with you , or if you'd want to move back up to Cleveland." She's got the confused look for another second, then it seems to hit her.

"OH!" she says quickly, "Oh I thought you meant, you know 'together' together. Not like, living – in the same – with the – WHAT!" she asks quickly, shock marring her face again. ADD, I swear, she doesn't even pay attention to what She's saying! I sigh and laugh a little.

"B, please. With you and me, that's bound to happen anyways. You said so yourself! 'Every time!', remember? I was talking about living conditions. What do you say? Where do you want to go, B?" I'm dead serious, I'll go where she goes, but right now she looks lost. She blushes, and looks out the window for a few minutes before looking back at me

"Living together?" she asks slowly. I nod. I'm in this, all the way. No jokes, no half-ass-job kind of deal. Not this time, and not ever with B. she looks blown away, and I'm confused.

"Faith…" she says slowly, "I've never lived with anyone before…" I wave it off, 'cause that doesn't matter. That was then, this is her and me. COMPLETELY different! "Faith, I don't know, isn't this kind of…I don't know…SOON?" she asks, worriedly. I shake my head and laugh.

"B, it's me. We've known each-other for, what, almost 5 years now? I'm ready. Besides…" I lean in and whisper in her ear, "It'd be nice not having to drive the 45 minutes to sleep next to you every night…" she blushes, and averts here eyes. Always the shy one. I just chuckle, and turn back to the road. "On come on, you know it'd be happening anyway!" She blushes and covers her face, but nods just the same.

We've just turned down an off-ramp, and entered a new stretch of highway. Being the fast driver that I am, I want the left-lane…with a bonus. Slamming the gas and whipping a hard left has B sliding in next to me in no time. There's a squeal from both the Summers girls, and I just laugh. Gotta love those old-school bench seats! Thank-you Angel.

We drive along for a bit, silence covering our thoughts, and I can't help but think that this is far better than anything I had hoped for. B by my side, heading back to the place were we first fell in love (sorta), and nothing ahead of us but a long stretch on highway. There's a 'click-click- click' from the back seat, and a glance in the rear-mirror shows that it's Dawn tapping her head-phones. After shaking her CD player for a minute, she huffs slightly as she takes the head-gear off.

"My batteries are dead!" she complains as she starts to lay down. "Next time we stop I'll have to get more…" Buffy nods absently, and I just smile. "Turn on the radio?" she asks through a yawn. B reaches for the knob, and a now familiar guitar fallowed by a voice drifts through the car.

"Here I am take me

It's easier to give in

Some people mistake me

They only hear what they want to hear

If you're losing sleep

Forgive me

I just can't keep pretending"

"I'm packing my bags 'cause I don't wanna be

The only one who's drowning in their misery

And I'll take that chance 'cause I just wanna breathe

And I won't look back and wonder how it's supposed to be

How it's supposed to be"

B takes my hand and kisses it, placing them both neatly in her lap. Sighing, she lays her head on my shoulder, and lets the cool air from the high-way fill her lungs. Our lives are anything but perfect, but that's how they feel right now. Infoulable.

"There's a prism by the window

It lets the light leak in

I wish you would let me

You feel the water but do you swim?

and it's only me empty-handed

with a childish grin and a camera"

"I'm packing my bags 'cause I don't wanna be

The only one who's drowning in their misery

And I'll take that chance 'cause I just wanna breathe

And I won't look back and wonder how it's supposed to be

How it's supposed to be"

"la da da da" we both sing a long to that little part, and then laugh at how bad at singing we both are. But I have to wonder if she's really trying, because Willow said she was pretty good when she was Spelled into singing a few years ago. I wish I had seen that, but more than that, I wish I had been there.

"I'm packing my bags 'cause I don't wanna be

The only one who's drowning in their misery

And I'll take that chance 'cause I just wanna breathe

And I won't look back and wonder how it's supposed to be

How it's supposed to be"

" 'Cause I'm packing my bags

And I won't be back…"

B glances into the back seat for a second as the song ends, and sees that Dawn has already fallen asleep. As the next song starts, she smiles, and nuzzles into my neck slightly. She was always affectionate with people, and I've missed it. Last year she and I were called The Gruesome Twosome by the Scoobies. I want that again. I missed what we had that summer. It was both the best and most painful one of my life; and one I'll never forget. As B starts drifting off herself I can't help but remember how this trouble all started…

The End

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