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As Lovers Go
By Carla Mayumi


It's chilly tonight. Makes me wonder why I haven't gone 'home' to that fucking motel room, but then it's the same diff, freezing my ass here, or there. So I'm here. Standing outside her window, both waiting for her to notice me here and hoping she doesn't. I'm so fucked up.

Been trying to overcome the antisocial in me, doing my best to drag myself out of my room and go to every Scooby meeting, every patrol. Be there, be reliable even. But damn if it's easy. I feel like my mind is screaming, yelling at me for going against everything I've learned for the past years of my life. Do I sound old when I talk like that? I feel old. I've turned into what I feared and loneliness is the price for that. I mean, there's that old cliché that everyone's lonely, but usually the people using that line are surrounded by other people, and that makes it easy for them to say that. Now, me? I'm lonely alright. Except for when I'm screwing someone's brains out, I can hear a fucking cockroach scurrying away. There's just silence, and air, and me. Maybe it's why I'm fucked up. I've gone mad.

So you can imagine what it was like to see B in all her freshness and thousand-watt smiles, all about the friends and the kick-ass mom. It was like a sun shining right into my night, blinding me. I hate and love her for that. Don't get me wrong, I feel the urge to seduce her and use her and discard her, and then watch her hurting for me...like I've done to everyone else. It's so much easier and unlike other people might think it does bring a whole lot of satisfaction. But then there's this alien pain I get whenever I picture myself doing the same shit to her, driving her away. I want her in. I want her to stay. Did I mention I'm fucked up? Well I wasn't lying. It's a constant effort to not seduce, not use, not discard and not watch her suffering for me. If she actually paid any attention to me she'd see right away that I'm not being myself.

"Faith?" I hear her voice in hushed tones as if she's afraid someone will hear her talking to a stalker.

I do the only think I can. I grin. "Hey, girlfriend. What ya doin' up so late?" Damn, I'm shameless.

"No, I think the question is, what are you doing here?" she furrows her brow, looking puzzled and maybe freaked out.

"Was in the 'hood, 's all," I shrug, in my best laid back impression. "Decided might as well check on my sister slayer."

She raises her eyebrows, looking unimpressed. "It's two in the morning."

"Yet here we are, talkin'," I reply, and my ever present grin turns into a smile. Does she even see the difference?

"Yeah, well, not anymore, I need to go to bed." That's Buffy for you, cork firmly in her bottle and not going anywhere.

"Sweet dreams." Did I just sound soft? I must have, cos she gives me a weird look before turning out the lights and closing the window. I shove my hands deep in the pockets of my leather jacket and shoot her window one last long look before heading back to my place.

She said, 'I've gotta be honest

You're wasting your time if you're fishing 'round here'

She's so annoying. Ok, so I might come out as a stalker but truth is I really care for her! I mean... Ah, fuck, I guess I do care about all. I even go out of my way to please her, as in being nice to the Scoobies, not sleeping around with strangers, not showing up with a hangover, I mean, I'm not even drinking that much. I'm doing my best to fucking fit in. Would it hurt her to at least acknowledge it? Guess it's settled that I'm gonna spend this night dwelling in the 'hate' side of my love/hate thing for her. I don't know how to let her know I care... don't even know why I'm still trying.

And I said, 'You must be mistaken

'Cause I'm not fooling, this feeling is real'

Needless to say I didn't get any sleep. Spent the night rolling around in my bed, thinking of how to show her I really, really, really like her. Maybe I should tell her? It's highly improbable she'd find a way to ignore that, I mean...she can pretend she doesn't understand the anvils I dropped as signs, but if I say it to her face? But then if I had grown a fucking spine to do that, I would've already.

The morning came. I knew B and her friends would most likely be talking about the huge dinner party I'm sure they're having tonight. It's Christmas Eve and all that. I'm not much for holidays myself. Never had anyone to spend them with, and in the past, when I did, I wasn't all that grateful for it either. So I usually down a couple of bottles of JD so I am too wasted to care either way. In fact, the first Christmas I can remember being conscious in since I'm on my own was the one I spend in B's house a couple of years ago. Her mom made her invite me, which made no difference since she ended up spending it with her martyr of a boyfriend. Well, ex-boyfriend now.

Someone's knocking on my door. Damn, I think it's her. Who else could it be anyway? It's not like I have friends. I force myself to move from the bed and open the door a crack. It's her, alright. It amazes me how it doesn't matter how many times you meet her along the day, she always looks and smells like she's just stepped out of the shower.

"Hey," she chirps. Did I miss something? Wasn't she all freaked out yesterday about me staring at her window and all? I wonder if she forgot all about it over night. And she calls me Miss Attention Span.

"Hey, B," I reply, opening the door all the way and gesturing for her to walk in. I'm pretty crude about stuff I say, spewing crass stuff to anyone who'd make an audience...but really I'm a private person, and prefer talking in my room than giving my pervy neighbors the opportunity to ogle, especially if it's Buffy.

"You look tired," she remarks lightly, standing since the only place to sit would be my bed.

"Didn't get any sleep," I shrug it off, sitting down unceremoniously. It's my bed after all. "So..." Well, I don't want to ask her what she's doing here because it might give her the impression I don't want her here, and obviously I do.

"Right," she smiles and finally decides it's ok to sit down. "Well, the gang and I were planning this Christmas Dinner tonight, and we're wondering if you'd come."

"Do I have to bring anything?" Other than endless amounts of mistletoe so I'll kiss you every chance I get?

"No, mom and Giles are taking care of everything," she says, and I must have lost myself in my little mistletoe filled visuals and stared at her with a different look, because she shifts uncomfortably and finally stands back up. "Be there at seven tonight." And she gives me this hasty wave, leaving so fast it's like she was never here to begin with.

She said... She said, 'You gotta be crazy

What do you take me for, some kind of easy mark?'

I put on some nice clothes and got out hoping against hope I'd find something to give her. Well, her and Mrs. S. Mrs. S for being the one person in this fucking hellhole that actually treats me like I matter, and B just for meaning the world to me. It's not like I have a chance on the matter of really, really, really liking her.

I hate shopping, but I will not give up until I find something nice. I've been working in some odd jobs here and there, in real late hours so no one will ever suspect. Made some sweet deal of money too. Hell, I don't even know why I bother. For one, I don't owe anyone fucking satisfactions, and I don't think working is something to be embarrassed about. Unless you live in a shitty motel room wondering if the Salvation Army will stop at your door, that is. Nope, don't want anyone's pity.

I wonder if a ring would freak her out. Wait...fuck, it freaks me out. Um...necklace maybe? Earrings? A crossbow? Dammit, think! I stroll into the jewelry store and manage to ignore the strange looks the customers and salesclerks throw my way. Like I don't feel out of place already in this fancy shop.

"Um...is there something I can do for you, Miss?" an old man approaches me, and I'm thinking this must be the manager, about to ask me to leave.

"I'm looking for something very delicate and special." I'm playing nice, and although I feel so smart for acting this way he seems to find sincerity in it somewhere, giving me a warm smile. "For a friend."

"And what exactly do you have in mind?" he asks in a much nicer tone than before.

Lost in my honesty spree, I frown. "I was hoping you'd suggest. It's for someone really important, but I've never done this before and I have no idea what to give her." Holy shit, why am I not shutting up?

He looks at me for a moment, and I wonder if he thinks I'm gonna turn into mush. Can't say I blame him if he does. But apparently I hit the right button and he's all helpful, showing me all sorts of pieces and explaining to me the meaning of the precious stones adorning the jewelry.

Then I see a pendant that is just perfect. It's white gold, and looks exactly like something I once drew to her in the school window. It's so delicate, and adorned with really small diamonds in one of the sides of the heart, making it seem as if light is hitting it from aside. It's perfect.

I think the old dude realizes I'm not settling for anything else, and puts the other pendants away. "You'll need an equally beautiful chain for that," he smiles, and in his hands lies a fine whispered chain that swirls every now and then.

"How much for them?" I ask, not taking my eyes away from the set. I'm gonna shock the hell out of B with this.

You've got wits, you've got looks

You've got passion, but I swear that you've got me all wrong

There was fortunately some money left to buy Mrs. S and the others their gifts. I didn't know what to give Mrs. S, so I opted for a book. Since I didn't seem to find 'How To Raise A Happy Slayer', I picked a poem book. Hope she's into poetry. Just for the hell of it, bought Giles and Willow books as well and a shirt for Xander. To Tara I picked Wicca stuff from a Magic Shop, and to Anya, I put some money in a cool envelope. I'd probably just spend all of it in shitty stuff anyway. B'd probably like that I'm being nice to her friends.

All wrong...

All wrong...

But you got me...

Headed back to mine, took a long bath and chose something lighter to wear. Make-up was also light. I stared at myself in the mirror for the longest time I can remember, making sure I was ok for the family environment that was the Summers home. I glanced at the wrapped gifts resting on my bed. Should I write something? Nah, that'd be lame. I have standards, even if B seems to have messed up most of them. I'm pretty sure everyone's gonna be shocked to be getting presents from me, no need to give them heart-attacks as well.

I'll be true, I'll be useful...

I'll be cavalier... I'll be yours, my dear

I glance at my watch. A quarter to six. My hands are fucking sweaty. I think my head's gonna explode if I stay in this room for another whole minute. What the fuck, maybe Mrs. S can use some help. I put the presents in a bag, except for B's. The old man gave me a real nice box to put the necklace in, and I kept it safely in my pocket. I wasn't about to embarrass myself in front of everyone by giving B something like this. Even in my lack of finesse I know this is expensive enough to make people uncomfortable about the meaning behind it. I hope she likes it. I hate feeling hopeful. I'm usually left very disappointed later. But this is Christmas, and I guess the whole loving atmosphere or whatever is rubbing off on me. So I make my way to B's, hoping against hope that I wasn't making a mistake.

And I'll belong to you...

If you'll just let me through

I knock twice and sigh, drying my sweaty palms on my pants for the thousandth time since I left mine. I look at my watch again. Six. One hour earlier. That's not much...is it? Fuck, maybe I should go sit somewhere. It's just my luck that as soon as I turn my back the door opens.

"Faith, you're early." That's B for you, always on the ball.

"Um, am I?" Ok, so feigning surprise is definitely not my area of expertise.

She grins. Fuck, I'm fidgeting! "Why don't you get in?" she finally says.

"You sure? Cos I really dig standing on people's porches." I do my best to suppress my nervousness and tease her.

She looks at the bag in my hand and seems surprised. Told you they'd be shocked. I hand it to her, explaining which one's for whom. She gives me a somewhat hurt look, and I take a couple of moments to realize it's probably because her present wasn't there. I wonder if I should just get it over it.

This is easy as lovers go

So don't complicate it by hesitating

"I...um...I do have something for you," I say. Hey, look! I'm wearing boots, and they're really nice too.

"You do?" she asks excitedly, her frown turning into a dazzling smile.

I flimsily nodded. I was stunned, so sue me.

"Where is it? What is it?" she asks with a grin, patting my pockets, where my hands were firmly hidden.

And this is wonderful as loving goes

This is tailor-made, what's the sense in waiting?

Oh well. Better that no one's around to see her throw a fit now. I quietly pull the fancy box out of my pocket and shove it towards her. I can't face her, even though when she realizes it was probably something valuable she stares at me. When she finally deals with the fact that I'm so not going to face her at any given moment, she opens it slowly as if afraid to find out what's inside. She exhales and her eyes widen along with the lid of the box in her beautiful hands. I brace myself for whatever is coming. Please tell me I'm not blushing. That's just too lame.

"Faith...why?" she whispers, touching the chain with her fingertips as if not believing her own eyes.

And I said, 'I've gotta be honest

I've been waiting for you all my life'

"You...you don't like it?" I ask, a little thrown off by her question.

"I...it's perfect," she sighs, looking up from it to meet my eyes. "I'm just wondering why...I mean..."

I shrug and look away. "Just wanted to give you something nice," I force myself to reply. I can't really think of anything else to say. I wanted to tell her I really, really, really like her, but that's so ridiculous I feel like laughing. "For being my friend." Did I add that? I think I added that. Sad. Damn. Is she even my friend?

She gives me a smile she's never given me before. It's...warm, I think. What do I know? She pulls me into a hug and I'm afraid I'm melting as I wrap my arms around her, relieved, happy, touched, all things sappy. "This is beautiful. I love it. Thank you." She pulls back after some time and her smile grows wider. "Help me put this on, come on."

For so long I thought I was asylum bound

But just seeing you makes me think twice

She holds her silky hair up and I fasten the chain around her slender neck. She beams at me and before I know what the hell I'm doing, my hand is resting on her reddish cheek. Her sparkling green eyes seem to see right into my soul and her smooth hands hold mine over her cheek. Then Mrs. S comes from the kitchen. ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH!

"Hi, Faith, I'm so happy you made it!" she smiles, apparently not noticing how close her daughter and I just were to kissing and how we nearly snapped our necks jumping apart from each other. Either that or God bless denial.

"Oh, hey, Mrs. S," I let out an excessively sweet smile, and I hear B chuckling into her hand. "Thanks for the invitation."

"Please, it's always a pleasure having you around," she says, and although it seems like those being polite shit, it sounds really genuine coming from her. I know she means it by the way she looks at me. "Oh, Buffy, that's beautiful," she breathed, walking closer to B and gently picking the pendant with her fingertips to examine it closely.

"Faith's just given it to me." And she beams at me again, causing me to smile. I really, really, really like this chick.

Before Mrs. S can say anything or ask why I've given her daughter something like that, the door opens and the Scoobies storm in chatting and laughing. First Xander and Anya, since the others would probably knock and wait for an invitation instead of just walking in like that, then Tara and Red, then a long-suffering looking Giles.

They placed their presents under the tree after everyone had been greeted and we moved to the dining room. I have to admit, other than the awesome food, it felt nice being here, amongst them. We took forever to eat and talk, then we helped Mrs. S clean up. At midnight, we opened the presents. Then a couple of hours later, after lots of laughter and all everyone started leaving. Mrs. S hugged me and said she was going to bed.

I turned to B and let out a sheepish smile. "Well...this was real nice," I say, walking backwards to the door with a bag of presents the Scoobies had gotten me. "See ya around." Damn, I could kick my ass for saying the dumbest things.

She arched an eyebrow and gave me a lopsided smile, her hands keeping the door closed behind me. "Are you leaving before I give you your Christmas gift?" she asked.

I widened my eyes as she moved impossibly closer to me. My back was pressed hard against the door. "You...you got me a present?" I asked, flustered.

"Mm-hmm," she smiled serenely.

I know where this is going, but now I'm scared. Fuck me, I'm scared.

And being with you here makes me sane

I fear I'll go crazy if you leave my side

"Stay?" she whispers, and when her lips brush against mine, I just know I can do this, because I'll do anything for this. For her. I drop my bag of gifts to the floor and wrap my arms around her, accepting her present with everything I am.

You've got wits... You've got looks...

You've got passion... But are you brave enough to leave with me tonight?

She smiles and heaves a small, contented sigh. Next thing I know I'm in her arms and she's carrying me upstairs, closing the door with her foot and laying me gently on her soft bed. I feel my heart everywhere in my body as she crawls over me with the sweetest smile on her face. She leans in to kiss me. Gathering every scrape of self-control, I stop her. I want her to know just how much I really, really, really like her.

"B, I really, really..." I start saying, and she listens attentively. "Fuck that. Buffy, I love you." Wow. I did actually say that, didn't I? And must have been the right thing too, because the look she's giving me takes my breath away.

"You have changed so much in the past months," she smiles, her hands caressing my face and hair. She did realize it. She knew it all along. I just know I'm gonna cry if she doesn't do something soon. "...I love you too, Faith. Merry Christmas."

And with that, she leaned in again. This time I didn't stop her.



You've got me...

The End

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