She woke up the next day in exactly the same position; she was curled around the damned pillow breathing in the scent of him. This couldn't go on, she was used to flying solo and nothing in this town so far had changed her mind on that. She'd have to confront him and prove to herself that it was nothing - just a one-night stand. A delicious shiver worked it's way down her spine at the thought of seeing him again so soon and she had to give herself a rough mental shake to get herself focused enough to get out of bed.
As she stood, the aches and pains that had niggled at her last night flared into sheer agony. Time to hit the shower then. Luckily there was more hot water today, and as the needles of water stung against strained muscles the tension began to drain out of her. She found her mind wandering again. She remembered the touch of his skin on hers, the sound of him whispering her name, the need in his eyes… She moved her hands slowly over her wet body, imagining they were his hands, her breath catching in her throat as she realised what she was doing. Never before had she fantasised about men she'd slept with, there was definitely something different about this one. A soft smile played across her features as she acknowledged that, and she let herself get lost in the moment. All too soon the water was running cold again, but at least this time she was a lot happier about it.
She had headed on over to the school to try to catch him on his own. Loitering around the front gate, she'd ignored the catcalls and appreciative stares she was getting from some of the kids. Her jeans had been too damp to wear so she'd had no choice but to put on the leather. Kinda made her stand out a little at the front of the high school, but since when did she give a damn about standing out? She watched as all the sheep piled into the school, wondering what it was that compelled them to stay there when they didn't have to. She'd gotten out of the education system as quickly as she could, well it had been more of a mutual agreement between her and the principal of her old school - he hadn't wanted her there and she didn't want to be there so it worked out well for everyone. Maybe it was because she knew that as a Slayer she didn't have a whole lot of future, but she'd always had a policy of living in the now and damn the consequences. There was no sign of Xander though; she found herself getting frustrated and a little antsy wondering where he was. He usually went to school although she knew he didn't always make it into the actual classrooms.
She was about to give up and leave when she spotted Giles, B, Willow and Oz sitting looking all sorry for themselves. Not wanting a confrontation with them, she made sure they couldn't see her. They were looking decidedly worse for wear, various bandages and splints seemed to have made an appearance since the night before, reminding her again of just how intense the fight had been. They seemed to be having yet another damned Scooby meeting out in the lawn of the school grounds. Yet another one to which she hadn't been invited.
It had really begun to grate on her that she was overlooked so much. Giles was supposed to be her Watcher after all and he always forgot about her. To start with, she'd been fine about that, but now she was getting angrier as the days went by. Obviously B was going to be his favourite, she'd been around for longer and he'd gotten himself fired for her, but Faith couldn't see why it was that he ignored her, Faith. She knew the Council had funds set aside for training and supporting Slayers, why couldn't he access that and pay for a better place for her to stay? Hell if it came to it, B had a spare room didn't she? She figured the thought hadn't even crossed his mind, he'd never come to see her at the motel and she wasn't even sure if he knew where she was staying. Part of her thought that maybe she should ask him about it, but she was too stubborn and independent for that.
Realising that they would all be unlikely to notice her she turned to leave. Just then she heard someone say, "Guys." It was him, but there was a new tone in his voice, a kind of confidence that hadn't been there before. She turned back to see him, he was dressed a little more maturely than normal - gone were the garish shirts and in their place was a simple navy v-neck sweater teamed with blue jeans. It wasn't a complete change, however, a hint of bright orange peeked out from the neckline of the sweater. He was standing next to the table where the walking wounded had parked themselves. To Faith's disgust B didn't even have the decency to look at him, probably didn't even notice him to be honest - maybe he had more in common with Faith than either of them realised. The redhead wallflower said something to him and he answered with a slight smile.
Faith didn't catch what was being said, she was too caught up in the look on his face. Gone were the nervous ticks and grins that he'd always had, he seemed to be exuding an inner calmness that had her taken completely aback. Of course none of the others noticed it, and he walked away from the table on his own. He was actually headed in her direction and her heart skipped a beat. She didn't think he'd seen her yet and she felt suddenly self-conscious in the slutty clothes she was wearing. She ran a shaking hand through her hair, trying to come up with something interesting to say when the cheerleader intercepted him. Faith's heart sank like a stone. She knew he still adored her despite everything and if anyone could break apart this newfound confidence then it would be her. Some bitchy comment came from the brunette and Faith found herself willing him to ignore it, hoping that he'd see the bitch for what she really was - a pathetic girl who tried to make herself feel better by making everyone else feel worse.
Faith felt like cheering when Xander just smiled that knowing little half smile, almost shook his head at Cordelia and walked away from her. The bimbo was left staring after him open-mouthed. This definitely was a new - and from the looks of it - much improved Xander.
Again she felt self-conscious about her appearance, the leather pants may be practical in a wipe-clean kinda way but they definitely lent her a slutty air which she wasn't sure was the best way to approach him right now. Marvelling at the thought that it mattered how she looked for him, she decided not to confront him. Instead she'd head back to the motel and have another try at cleaning up those jeans. She concealed herself behind a tree and watched as he strolled past her hiding place. He didn't glance in her direction at all and a rush of disappointment flooded through her, she desperately wanted him to notice her, to want her to be there waiting for him. She realised that this was bordering on obsession now, but she didn't care.
Feeling almost dejected, she walked away from the school and towards the bad part of town where the rattrap was located. She took her time, thinking about things, trying to sort out the muddle of thoughts and impulses going through her head. Everything she was feeling right now was so new to her, she actually cared what a guy thought about her for crying out loud! She wanted him to see her in a way that others didn't. Wanted him to care. Wandering past the mall, she paused. So she didn't have money for new clothes, when had that stopped her before? She glanced down at what she was wearing, not too many places to hide pilfered goods in this get up, but she had the speed and strength to get out of most situations.
She headed into the artificial sunlight and spotted a clothes store with racks of sales goods lined up in front of the door - perfect! She hung about around the fountains for a bit, watching for a pattern in the security patrols, but there were only a couple of middle-aged men who looked as bored as most of the shoppers did. Grabbing a discarded carrier bag from a nearby bin, she strolled over to the storefront. The store assistants were gossiping at the till half way up the shop, not really paying attention to her. She casually rifled through the racks until she found jeans her size. They weren't exactly what she'd have chosen to buy, but with the five-fingered discount you couldn't always be too choosy. Careful not to draw attention to herself, she checked for tags and then slipped them into the carrier bag. Grabbing a shirt at random - it was bright orange and reminded her of the shirt Xander had been wearing under his sweater - she walked into the store and headed for the changing rooms. The mistake a lot of lifters made was that as soon as they had the goods they left the store at break-neck speed. No one ever thought to second-guess someone who was trying on clothes - more fool them. After a couple of minutes in the change room, she put the shirt back on its hanger and left. Handing it to the assistant, she put on a bright smile and said, "I guess it really wasn't my colour after all." The assistant didn't even bother to try a fake smile; she just nodded and put the shirt on a nearby rail. Faith walked out of the store with her new 'purchase' safe and unnoticed in her hand. Sometimes it was just too easy.