The Right Place To Stay
by Whistler's Girl
Rating: R

Disclaimer: I disclaim to own the creations of Joss. Or anything else for that matter.
Spoilers: General Angel.
Author's Notes: This is the sequel to `Love you Enough (To Leave You)' and `Gone But Not Forgotten'.

	"But love is blind, and lovers cannot see
	The pretty follies that themselves commit."

		- The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare

It's been months – yeah, but it feels like it's been years. Funny how when you leave somebody for their own good, you still feel guilty. Dammit, I can't win.

I dreamt of Buffy the other week. This might not seem too much of a deal to you, but when I've gone a good six months without dreaming of her it sure as fuck means something to me. It just means I've opened up old wounds and rubbed salt into them just for good measure.

I dreamt that B was standing on the edge of a cliff in the middle of somewhere hot, bright and I was climbing up with no ropes attached or nothing. She kept calling down to me, encouraging me to get my ass up the massive rock .

Finally I did, and B hauled me up and hugged me so tight my ribs popped. She planted kisses all over my face, her fingers clutching onto the back of my shoulders, shaky breaths entering and exiting her lungs.

And then I pushed her away. I said something to her, but I can't remember what it was, and then held out an arm when she tried to re-approach me, keeping her away. I couldn't feel anything other than the need to keep her away from me. I glanced behind me at the amazing drop and turned, skidding on the sand as I ran off the cliff edge and jumped.

Then, as you do, I woke up – screaming B's name. Fucking clichés like that drive me nuts. I had the erratic breathing, the cold sweat, the trembling…damn near everything was there. So I guess it wasn't a dream, more of a *nightmare*.

I never left Los Angeles. I could never really *leave* B – so I'm living on the other side of the city from her…but she doesn't know that. Plus this city, it's my home. I love everything about it – the stores, the fast food restaurants, the demonic activity.

Angel set me up with this kick ass joint, which is coincidentally just a little way downtown from B's old High School, Hemery. It's a small world after all, huh? No shit. Anyway, this place is the kick. Angel and me, we set it up as a cross-city establishment for Angel Investigations. Ever since Wesley handed the reigns of the business back over to Soul Man, Angel's been pretty adamant about getting me in on a piece of the action even if I'm a little way away.

So now I'm working my way through redemption, just like he is. I don't run the place on my own though, fuck no! I've never been too hip with business studies, so Angel sent Fred down to keep an eagle eye on everything. She's a crazy chick who never fails in making me laugh – she's the only one that can manage it anymore. She was picked up from another worldly dimension a few years back – I'm a little hazy on the details.

We both live underneath the office, separate rooms but share everything else – kitchen, bathroom, living room. If Fred wasn't there to remind me I'm alive, I might as well have just kicked the bucket. I don't know how Angel did it for so long.

Fang Daddy's pretty proud of his little Faith, making grown up decisions and taking care of herself in the big bad city. He knows I'll make the appropriate choices – ones that are right for me. But even Angel realises that maybe leaving B was not only the best thing that could've happened, but also the worst. Cordelia keeps telling me that I should move on and move up, even if I have completely destroyed B's soul. Damn, I know CC is on my side really…that's why she's always honest with me. Always one with the truth is Cordelia, and always one without tact. I respect her for it, though – means that the girl's got a pair.

If I didn't have this business to keep me busy, I think I just might have killed myself with emotional overload by now. Not healthy thinking, I know, but there were times when I didn't think I could make it through the next five minutes without B being there.

I'd been five by five for a while, able to get on with things, concentrate enough on killing a vampire without the tables being turned. But, ever since that dream, after I've done my Slaying for the night, I drive down to the Hotel and leave my car there while I take off in search of Buffy.

The past few nights I've just stood outside our old apartment block and watched her as she's left for patrol, and I wait for her to return. I hide behind this old Oak that is conveniently placed – the Oak I carved our initials in when we first moved into the apartment. Closing my eyes, I can still picture the smile on her face that elicited light in the whole city.

When I see her I can't breathe. Every time I see her she is more beautiful than the last time; the bright LA lighting reflecting off her golden hair, her hazel eyes sparkling, every movement graceful and urgent at the same time; it reminds me how much of a fucking moron I am to have pushed her away like I did – all because I didn't want to hurt her, because I wanted her to lead a good life…a happy life.

I watch her walk into the building and then I look up at the window of *her* apartment and watch until the lights come on and go off again. Even then I don't leave until the earliest hours of the morning, the first signs of dawn.

Last night was different, though. She stopped halfway up the steps to the doors and turned slowly in my direction. Fuck me if she didn't look directly at me. It was as though she sensed my presence or something, and by the way my heart was bouncing around my chest, I'm surprised she didn't hear it. I took off straight up and drove home, vowing to quit with the creepy stalking phase and get on with my life.

But, here I am now, driving into the parking lot of the Hotel, hitting the brakes gently so the gravel doesn't attract the others attention.

Gunn should be around here somewhere – we used to sit out here for hours at a time, talking. He'd tell me some of the fucked up things he'd seen and then I'd tell him some of the fucked up things I'd done. Sometimes Wesley would come down and sit with us, complaining about how much he missed seeing the stars in Britain. He keeps promising to take Gunn and me there one day, and though I'd love to check out Big Ben and run passed Buckingham Palace, my experiences with Brits aren't those with happy smiley memories – mainly because they were Watchers who wanted my ass in some kind of rehabilitation dive.

Walking through the city is not half as scary as it used to be when I first arrived here. I'm at ease when I see the gangs meeting up on the street corners, or when I bump into a homeless guy who's strumming a guitar for chump change.

In this city, I've learned to pay no heed to the signs that surround me, that tell me the name of the town or block I'm on. Those who pass me are merely objects of love and pain in themselves, none of them are significant to me – they mean nothing to me, and I mean nothing to them. Of course I spend a lot of my time helping them confront their fears and face their demons, so to speak. And then I end up kicking the demons ass.

I'm already at the tree and I'm walking passed it. Why aren't my legs stopping? Oh god, no. Fuck no.

It's like I'm being pulled towards the apartment block, and I push through the doors when the porter inside recognises me. He greets me with a smile and touches the tip of his hat, asking me where I've been. I don't answer as my legs carry me towards the elevator. I'm in there and moving up to the fourteenth floor before I realise the door has closed behind me. Man this is really fucked up, why am I doing this to myself? To her? Dammit Faith you moron, stop the fucking elevator!

I step out of the elevator, my heart's pounding away inside my chest. This is a bad idea, why did I decide this? Wait I didn't. I'm just a stupid dumb ex-psychopath with unstable emotion patterns. Dammit. If I hadn't used up all my will power in the last year, I would've turned back and ran half a mile in the opposite direction of here by now. These are the moments in life where one wishes to have a pair of wings to fly the fuck out with.

Everything feels so muffled, so thick, like I'm walking through water. Every movement I make is in slow motion, and as I get closer to B's apartment I can hear her voice inside my head, I can remember things she used to whisper to me when we arrived back here after she finished work, the way she wrapped her arms around my waist from behind, her chin resting on my shoulder, her breath tickling my ear as she tells me what she's going to do to me once we get into the apartment. My head feels so heavy all of a sudden…I feel sick. What the fuck is wrong with me? Is this even happening?

Yeah. It is.

I know this because I'm standing in front of the door, staring at it. I keep forgetting to breathe. My hand is shaking as I raise it, the back of my knuckles inches from the wooden surface.


The door opens suddenly and I stumble backwards as another body collides with mine. Her scent fills my brain and blood cells like fire, burning through me and when her eyes connect with mine, all the pain I've caused her falls back on me and I collapse back against the opposite wall in astonishment.

The hazel eyes staring at me are dead, brimming with tears and full of shadows. Everything I touch just…dies. I knew I should never have come back. Looking at her, everything comes flooding back – it feels like I've just got out of another coma. Remembering everything from the feeling of her stomach beneath my ear when I rested my head there, to the painful blazing arguments we'd have hit me like a ton of bricks and its then I realise I did forget her.

I forgot her.

And the pain in her eyes tells me there has not been a day passed where she hasn't cried since I left, not cheering on my own parade or anything.

I'm feeling all this emotional stuff coarse through me like a bunch of knives when I become conscious to the fact that she is running her hands through my hair, pulling me to her, hushing softly against my ear before trailing a path of searing kisses up my neck and along my jaw.


"Shhhh…" she kisses my forehead, "it doesn't matter."

...continued in If Only You Knew...