Story 12: On the bus again

Dusk was falling rapidly; outside the crowded bus, the road stretched ahead in mostly isolated land. The interior of the vehicle was bathed in a weary quiet, even considering the number of its passengers- the near silence of the physically and emotionally drained. Many had drifted off into an uneasy sleep; the other sat speaking only occasionally, and then in soft whispers. It was as if to talk in normal tones would be to somehow violate and diminish the significance of the earlier events of the day…

Buffy sat in the back of the bus, her eyes heavily lidded, her head tilted back slightly against the seat as she leaned her shoulder into the window beside her. As tired as she was, she knew that sleeping was not an option for her. No way could she sleep today- not with all the thoughts currently running full-speed through her exhausted mind. She could only sit, and wearily let them run their course.

For the young woman seated beside her, however, that did not seem to be a problem. Faith's eyes were closed, her head lolling over at an odd angle on her neck, one that would probably give her a lot of stiffness and soreness later. Her face was not exactly relaxed, but her eyes were not moving beneath her lids. At least as of yet she was not having dreams, or nightmares.

Buffy watched her with complexity in her expression, seeing Faith's chest rise and fall slightly, hearing her slow, even breathing, and she did not know or understand her own thoughts. She had an urge to reach for Faith's head, to gently move it to a more comfortable position, but she restrained herself. She didn't know how she'd react if Faith woke up- or indeed, how Faith would react.

It wasn't that it would be so horrible, for Faith to catch her doing some little act of nicety like that towards her now. They were past that part of their lives now, past the resentment and begrudging, the anger and hatred and jealousy. For the first time since they had met five years ago, Buffy felt that she and her sister slayer were approaching a tentative understanding of each other… even a slowly developing trust. And considering their past, this was saying a lot.

But still, they were still just in the beginning stages of this, the first awkward phases, and Buffy didn't want to do anything to jinx it, to cause more awkwardness than was already there. So she stayed quiet, unmoving, as she watched Faith sleep beside her.

Faith had come up to Buffy about forty-five minutes into the drive, once Robin was stable. She had looked at her with a hesitant, almost vulnerable hope as she asked Buffy if she could sit with her… and looking at her, Buffy had been unable to say no.

They had talked with some awkwardness at first, more small talk and slightly forced bantering than anything else… and then gradually their words had died out, and they had drifted into a pensive silence together. Their lack of words was not uncomfortable, for neither felt as if they should be speaking; there was nothing they needed to say at that time, no need for words. Their silence did not alienate or isolated them from each other; rather, it seemed to bind them together in some inexplicable way, to increase their understanding of the other woman's feelings, even without her explaining them. Somehow, their sitting together in silence was working to begin the slow repairing, reconstructing of their bond in a way that words never would.

A few hours had passed since Faith came to sit by her; Faith, as had most of the others, had dozed off about 25 minutes ago. Regardless, Buffy somehow did not feel that she was alone; even just the physical presence of Faith near her made some tiny part of her feel just a little bit more comforted than she would have otherwise.

A few more minutes passed, and the bus drove over a speed bump, jarring its passengers slightly. Faith's sleeping form knocked gently against Buffy's side and stayed there; Faith did not stir as her body slumped against Buffy's, her dark head falling over heavily onto Buffy's shoulder.

Buffy looked down at her, startled, a slight alarm rising in her chest. This was much closer to Faith than she'd originally planned… closer to her than she'd been in years. Definitely this was crossing over into awkward territory. Definitely now was the time to wake Faith up, make her move away a little. They could trade places, Faith could lean against the window if she was so tired. At the very least Buffy could move Faith's head back into an upright position for her.

But as she glanced down at the younger slayer- the other half of the original Chosen Two- Buffy felt her instinct to move her fade, then disappear completely. Faith looked so tired, so comfortable... and maybe this was the next step, if she wanted to make things right. Maybe…

She sat there for several more moments, feeling the heaviness of Faith's head on her shoulder, the tickle of her hair on her skin, brushing her face, the warmth of Faith's skin against hers. She sat there, and slowly her muscles loosened, relaxed… and as she watched Faith's steady breathing, she began to match her own with it.

She could do this… they could do this. They could start over, become what they should have been in the first place. Nothing would stand in their way this time- if they didn't let it.

Slowly, cautiously Buffy leaned her head against Faith's, relaxing her body against the other slayer's… and breathing in near synchrony with her, she closed her eyes.

The end… or is it?

Author notes: I am pretty much done with this series for now… if any of you have any suggestions for further Buffy/Faith/Fuffy short stories, I'm all ears.