I do not own Buffy, Willow, Dawn, Faith, Angel or Comerica Park. But i bet you knew that.


Echoes of Heaven

It has been three years, and there are still nights when she wakes sweating, pitch-black bedrooms too bright to her night vision, thousand-count sheets too coarse for her skin. She has ripped the tags from her pajamas in desperation but nothing helps, and the air is too thin to breathe, and so dry she feels her skin crack beneath the sweat.

Nights like these she looses all the progress she has made with Willow, nights like these she is afraid of Dawn. Nights like these, strangely, she finds her way to Faith.

-)(-

The first time, she knocks on Faith's door. If she'd been sleeping, she makes no sign of it. They stay awake together all night, silent, light off, Faith smoking out the window.

-)(-

The second time, she doesn't knock. After a few hours, Faith starts telling her stories. Cleveland stories, about stabbing demons with icicles. Prison stories, about girls in the joint, strange run-ins with guards. And further back, to the days before Sunnydale, the days of naked nun rescue; soft noise in the dark. By sunrise, she's gotten Buffy to laugh.

-)(-

The fourth time, Faith yanks a deck of cards out of the nightstand, and they play nickel-and-dime poker until breakfast. They keep this up for a long time, because as Faith puts it, the only time in her life Buffy's ever had a poker face is these nights when she really couldn't give a shit.

-)(-

Sometime after the fifth time, Faith stops talking about leaving for Chicago.

-)(-

The eleventh time, Faith has a guest. Buffy opens the door and sees her naked, hips rolling, her back arched smoothly like the blade of a perfect axe, glowing and slick with sweat, head down and too many legs behind her.

She turns to leave, but is stopped by the sounds - a heavy thump, male cursing, the slap of denim against skin. She looks into the room again to see Faith casually pulling on her cargos, the man on the ground four feet from the bed, glaring at them both from beneath the leg of his pants.

They go for a walk that night, but it isn't really to get away from the room; as far as Buffy can remember, Faith has always smelled like sex.

-)(-

The nineteenth time, Faith isn't in her room. Buffy doesn't even try the door, walks right past and rides the elevator down to the hotel gym. Faith is Slayer incarnate on the punching bag; raw, fluid, undisciplined.

Buffy sits on the bleachers and watches, and Faith works out until the six a.m. joggers come.

-)(-

The twenty-third time, they are in St. Petersburg, and by the time the moon sets at four, they have defeated a handful of night owl college kids in a no-holds-barred three-block snowball fight. As they wave goodbye, the young man with the thick British accent on top of his Slavic one hits Buffy with a sucker slushball. Faith collapses in the snow next to her, laughing.

-)(-

The twenty-fourth time, she paces the dirty streets outside Comerica Park, repeating to herself a promise made to Angel long ago.

It is not the first night since Faith left for Bali that she wishes the other slayer were around.

-)(-

Two weeks after the thirtieth time, they rescue a ten-year-old boy whose mother sold him to demons. After they confront the woman, she takes Faith to a club and dances with her until nightfall, when they sneak into a theatre and watch French dubs of King Kong and The Fly.

-)(-

There is no nightmare of heaven on the afternoon when Buffy finds Faith outside Army Surplus and kisses her.

Faith tastes like the world unfolding from a broken past.

-)(-

It has been four years, and there are still nights when she wakes up sweating, pitch-black bedrooms too bright to her night vision, thousand-count sheets too coarse for her skin. On these nights, Faith kisses her temple, and she goes back to sleep.