Buffy opened the door after the first knock and then just sort of... stared. Guess I wasn't what she was expecting to find on the other side.
"Hi B," I said and then pushed by her into the apartment while she was still staring. Not like I was going to wait for an invite; Slayers tend to be stingy with those when unexpected people show up on their doorsteps. You never know when someone's had a close encounter of the fangy kind. Better safe than lunch after all.
So barging in without B's permission was actually me doing her a favour, letting her know I was still flesh and blood hotness and not one of the newly vamped looking for a high-class meal.
I'm just a thoughtful girl like that sometimes.
Buffy still hadn't said anything so I kept talking as I looked around. "So this is what an Italian villa looks like, huh? Nice. Bet you don't have to share the bathroom with a dozen baby slayers either."
"Faith?" I knew she'd find her voice eventually. "What are you doing here?"
That was the question, wasn't it? I started with the truth but not the whole truth. Even though I can imagine her face if I just blurted it out, this was really something that needed to be eased into. "I'm trying this radical new thing. It's called a vacation. You visit exotic locales, look up old friends..."
"Which would include me." Buffy crossed her arms and stared sceptically at me.
"Well yeah." I gave her my best wounded look. "You saying you don't think we're friends?"
"No," she said grudgingly, "I'm not saying that. We're friends. I guess."
"Try not to bowl me over with your enthusiasm, B. I come all this way to see you, you could at least pretend you're happy to see me."
"It's not that," she said, softening a little, and gave me a look that seemed to be made up of a little guilt and a lotta confusion mixed together. I had got that look from her a lot while we were bussing it cross country after Sunnydale. I took it as a good sign that I was still getting it. "I just... I don't like surprises."
Guess I could understand that; it's not like Buffy's had many good surprises. I was hoping that this would help tip that balance when I sprang the rest of my reason for being here on her. "Fine. Next time I'll call before I enter the country, 'kay?"
"Okay," Buffy replied, seeming to relax and be a bit more welcoming at that.
There was the usual arrival stuff then, Buffy asking where I was staying and then offering me her spare room when I told her I hadn't found a place yet. Then there was the settling in and a quick meal and eventually we ended up sitting together on her couch talking about where everyone we knew was and what they were doing.
"How's Principal Wood- I mean Robin?" Buffy finally got around to asking.
"He's good," I said. "Playing headmaster and watcher to a bunch of new Slayers is right up his alley." It might be because of a whole boatload of mommy-issues, but he was good at it too -- understood Slayers as well as any non-Slayer could.
She nodded and then ventured, "I'm kinda surprised he's not vacationing with you."
I shrugged. "Someone had to stay behind to keep the newbies in line." That wasn't the only reason, but I was still trying to sneak up on that.
"I suppose so." Buffy hesitated then added, "I just thought that you and he were... y'know. Like all coupley and stuff."
"We're just friends," I replied with a smile. Robin and I had tried to be all coupley right after Sunnydale, but it didn't take us long to figure out it wasn't going to work. You won't hear me complaining, as we're much better as friends. Robin was even the one who helped me figure out the thing that sent me flying across the Atlantic to here in the first place.
"Friends who sleep together."
"Sex doesn't always have to mean something." I shrugged again. "Sometimes it's just scratching an itch." Not that I had been scratching for a while; got a whole different kinda itch I was dealing with now.
"But you can't tell me you don't get that," I continued with a friendly leer. "Way I hear it, you've been doing some scratching yourself. So what's this dude the Immortal like?"
"He's... nice," Buffy said thoughtfully with a tiny smile. "He's a lot of fun and keeps things, y'know, not heavy. No angst or drama." She leaned back against the cushions and hitched one shoulder up in a half shrug. "He's also an ex... scratcher."
"Sorry." I thought I managed to sound sympathetic even though this was one less wall I had to jump over.
"S'okay." She gave a little head tilt to the side, still smiling. "Turns out I need a bit of angst and drama. Who knew?"
This was getting better and better. "We're Slayers. We need that larger than life ride."
Buffy grimaced. "S'pose so. Kinda shrinks the dating pool though."
"Maybe you're just not looking in the right pools."
"You know of a Slayer dating service or something?" Buffy joked.
"Or something." I considered how to explain what I meant and decided it was easier and more direct to use actions instead of words. So I leaned over and kissed her.
Buffy squeaked and pulled back, staring at me with wide shocked eyes. "You kissed me!"
"Yeah," I said, keeping it simple and bracing myself until I saw which way Buffy was going to jump on this. I was hoping it would be for me, but I wasn't one to count my Slayers before they're laid.
"But I... you... I..." Buffy stuttered before settling on a plaintive, "Why?"
"Because I wanted to?" I replied but immediately gave a less flip answer, even though that was still nothing but truth. "There's not many people who've been important to me, like really important, the life-changing can't get them out of my head kind of important. Can't get them out of my soul important. That's you. Good, bad, love hate, you're always here." I put my hand over my heart as I spoke.
"I always figured," I continued, "it was because you were the only other Slayer -- that that connected us in this way that no one else could know or understand and that was all it was. But now there's a whole mess of other Slayers and that connection? Not there with them. So I figured it must be something else with you."
"So you've decided you're in love with me?" Buffy was looking at me strangely and from her expression I couldn't decide what it was she was thinking.
"Well lust at least," I joked but then forced myself to get serious. If I wanted this, I knew I'd have to be honest to get it, no matter how naked it made me feel. "Don't know about love, not really. It's not like I've had a lot of experience with it, not from the inside at least. Feels like it could be, I guess."
"That's why you're here. To tell me this."
"Pretty much. It was Robin's idea -- said the only way I'd know for sure is to try it and see."
Buffy didn't say anything to that, just kept looking at me, her eyes seeming to be weighing and judging me.
Then she leaned in and kissed me. It was slow and gentle and not quite chaste. When she pulled back, she licked her lips and said thoughtfully, "That's not bad advice."
"I couldn't find a downside," I replied, beginning to feel a bit giddy as it looked like this gamble was paying off. "Well aside from the part where I was worried you'd freak and we'd end up kicking each other's asses all across Rome. Not really the kind of physical activity I was hoping for."
"We can go patrolling later and kick some vampire ass together," Buffy offered. "Y'know, work up a good head of steam. Or something."
I grinned, remembering some of our talks about Slaying and being horny. "Sounds like a plan." Pressing my luck, I reached out and ran my hand down Buffy's arm, coming to a rest on top of her hand.
Turning her hand over, Buffy squeezed mine. Looking down at them instead of at my face, she offered softly, "I feel that connection too. Not sure if it's what you think it is, but I feel it."
"Glad I'm not alone in this," I said, giving a bit of a relieved laugh.
"No." Buffy looked up at me through her lashes in a way that was giving me all kinds of ideas for things I wanted to try. "I don't think either of us is alone. Not anymore."