Starry Night

Author notes: Takes place post Chosen, assuming that Buffy/Faith are together and they live with the others in a big Angel-type place.

Faith was on the roof, as Buffy could have predicted. Pretty much, if she knew Faith was home and couldn't find her anywhere else, Buffy knew to look for her up there. Something about roofs were an attraction to her- their height and towering nature, the vast amount of open space around them, the way you could look out for miles about the city. Buffy had heard her say once that she liked being so close to the sky, that it was the closest to a physical heaven she would ever get.

Buffy suspected that there was another reason that Faith was drawn to rooftops, if only subconsciously… a reason that both knew, but would never again speak of aloud.

Sure enough, as soon as she stepped out onto the roof's flat surface, Buffy saw her, staring out into the night sky. But what did surprise her was that Faith was aiding her gazing with Andrew's brand-new telescope.

The telescope that he had special ordered from some scientific catalogue and spent over 300 on… the telescope he had driven them all crazy waiting for and counting down the days until it was delivered. The telescope he had named Astra Stargazer and refused in, panicked at the very thought, to let anyone else use, thought it would be out of politeness rather than true interest. The telescope that Faith had smirked and teased over and threatened to "accidentally" knock off the roof until Andrew was compelled not to leave its side unguarded for almost three days.

That very same telescope… here Faith was, using it in all seriousness, not only seeming to know how to, but also seeming genuinely interested.

Buffy barely suppressed an incredulous laugh in time; she didn't want to alert Faith to her presence just yet. Usually the other Slayer could sense Buffy near her, even if she didn't move or make a sound, through the intense connection of their Slayer bond. But at the moment Faith seemed concentrated on what she was doing, very intent; Buffy knew that when Faith was focused on something, she could get very single-minded about it, blocking out everything else. If Faith didn't notice her yet… well Buffy would make her notice her on her own terms.

Slipping upon her almost on tiptoe, using all the smooth stealth her Slayer status could afford her, Buffy snuck up on Faith, coming up just behind her. Wrapping her arms around her waist suddenly and tightly, she growled into her ear, "Trying to keep your secret dorkiness secret, baby?"

Faith gasped, eyes widening in startled shock, and she jerkily tried to turn in Buffy's arms, almost flinging down the telescope by accident. Buffy gasped too at that, her arms tightening around Faith instinctively, and it was only through very fast reflexes on both their parts that neither Faith nor the telescope were flung down onto the rooftop – or over the ledge.

"SHIT, B!" Faith sputtered after a few seconds, starting to calm down, though her muscles were still tense, and Buffy could feel how fast her heart was beating. "You scared the SHIT outta me!"

"Well, me too!" Buffy shot back. "You almost broke Andrew's telescope! That could've been the start of the next apocalypse!"

"Well whose fault would that have been?" Faith rejoined. "And ANDREW startin' an apocalypse? You gotta be kiddin' me- the kid can't even take a hit, let alone start an apocalypse."

"Well he survived one, didn't' he?" Buffy pointed out. "And I wasn't talking about Andrew. I was talking about one of the rest of us, after being driven insane by his tears and moaning."

Faith laughed at that, and Buffy could feel her muscles relax in her arms, even as she leaned into her a little. Giving her a squeeze before letting her go, taking a step away from her slightly, Buffy asked, "So really, what were you doing, Faith? The way you've been ripping into Andrew, I didn't think you were interested in his telescope."

Faith gave a quick, slightly embarrassed little shrug, smiling a little and briefly looking away.

"Yeah, well, like you said, keepin' secret dorky sides secret and all. Not all of can admit to things like Dorothy Hamill obsessions and still keep up our badass reps," Faith said slyly, giving Buffy a smirk with that comment. Buffy glowered, and for a moment Faith smiled before going on, elaborating a little.

"Yeah… and I always just liked the stars as a kid and all. I never used a telescope, but we had microscopes in middle school, and it's not all that different. I liked lookin' at fingernails and blood and all under it… I used to want to do the same with a star. And, you know," she shrugged, almost too carefully casually, Buffy thought, "now I can… even if Andy-boy didn't exactly give me his written permission."

She looked through it again, then motioned for Buffy to come look too. A few quiet, peaceful moments passed between them as they just enjoyed the cool night air, the brightness of the stars above, and the company of each other.

After a few minutes, Faith glanced over at Buffy, the same careful-casual look on her face, in her tone as she asked her, "Did you ever try countin' all the stars, B?"

Buffy chuckled. "Yeah, but I wasn't what you'd call dedicated. I usually didn't get past 25 or so before I'd get confused, bored, or fall asleep."

Faith chuckled too, but a little smile played at the corner of her lips, almost sadly. "I got up to 9,245 once, before I realized I had probably recounted the same ones 200 times."

Buffy stared at her, her mouth dropping open slightly. Her girlfriend, after all these years, could still floor her with these rarely-offered nuggets of information about herself and her past.

"Jesus, Faith… speaking of dedicated…" she said with some awe. "Why were you counting for so long? How old were you?"

Then, suspiciously, "That wasn't TONIGHT, was it? You haven't been missing THAT long!"

Faith smirked again, shaking her head. "No, B, damn, I'm not THAT freakin' dorky anymore. Give me a break, I was thirteen. It was late, I was outside, I was tryin' not to sleep… and I didn't want to go home," she added more quietly, her words a little more serious towards the end.

Sensing her change in mood, and knowing that a painful past memory must be attached to it, Buffy didn't say anything. She just touched Faith's face, then ran a hand tenderly over her hair. Faith didn't say anything either, just briefly closed her eyes in response to Buffy's touch, and then inched a bit closer to her so that their shoulders were touching.

For a few more minutes they stood together quietly, looking out into the stars once more. They were not uncomfortable, exactly, nor sad- just preoccupied with their own train of thought.

Finally Faith spoke again, her voice startling Buffy slightly. "They're not still there, you know."

Buffy glanced at her, frowning a little. "What?"

"The stars," Faith clarified, gesturing out toward them vaguely. "I remember learnin' that as a kid, that most of the stars are already dead. It's just that we're still seein' 'em somehow anyway."

"Huh," Buffy commented wryly, "kinda like me."

She slipped her arms around Faith's waist again, and Faith, chuckling a little, leaned back against her easily, putting her head against Buffy's when Buffy rested her chin on her shoulder.

"Yeah, kinda," she replied.

A few more minutes passed between them where Buffy just held Faith, her arms over Faith's around her waist, thumbs gently stroking the backs of her hands. She could hear Faith's breathing, slow and steady, and knew how relaxed she was, growing, content. It made Buffy want to hug her all the harder, but she settled for kissing Faith's shoulder, still holding her with as much gentle affection as she would a child rather than a sister slayer.

"I used to wish on them," Buffy said finally, softly, resting her chin on Faith's shoulder once more. "Stars. It was silly stuff mostly. Ponies, dollhouses, boyfriends… but sometimes it was serious, sometimes it meant something to me. Like… when my parents got divorced… I remember wishing they'd get back together on one. That was the last time I did, I think. But you know… even though it never came true… I always half believed it would. And somehow, that would make me feel better, even if I never did get what I was wishing for…"

Buffy let her voice trail off. She had hardly realized at first that she was talking, as soft and almost dreamy as her voice sounded. She knew what she was saying sounded silly, unbelievably naïve… especially to a girl like Faith. She didn't expect her to answer her- or if she did, it would be a smartass comment, she thought.

But she didn't… instead, Faith's next words managed to again surprise her.

"I used to, too, B…" Faith said slowly after a long pause. "Only it never made me feel any better."

Buffy lifted her chin off of Faith's shoulder, frowning slightly as she tried to turn her face where she could look into Faith's eyes without altering her hold of her. It was not an easy move to do.


Faith smiled without humor, shrugging again.

"Like I said… secret dork sides, gotta keep 'em secret. Only it seems like you ain't gonna let me, huh, B?"

Her words were light, but also a warning. She was trying to tell Buffy that she was through talking about her past… that this was no longer something she was willing or comfortable with discussing. She was trying to get her to go quiet or change the subject, without outright asking her to.

Buffy respected that, and she gave Faith a little squeeze to show that she understood, turning her head to kiss her neck softly but briefly. Faith made a little noise in her throat in response to that, squirming in an uncomfortable but pleased way as she ground herself back harder against her.

Buffy really did intend to be quiet… but somehow the question still managed to burst out of her without her permission.

"Faith… do you ever still? Wish on stars, I mean?"

Faith looked, from what Buffy could see of her profile, to be startled by the question… but then she smiled slowly, with a soft sweetness that was rare, and never failed to melt Buffy's heart.

"Nah," she said quietly, moving her head too to look into Buffy's eyes. "I don't need to, B… not anymore."

Looking back at her, seeing the affection Faith had for her, the love/lust tangled in her gaze, Buffy knew exactly what she meant. And as she let Faith turn in her arms, let her kiss her softly, even as her hand crept up under her shirt, it registered dimly in her mind that the stars suddenly seemed to be glowing all the brighter.