Saying that she didn't know what to do first in no way began to describe how giddy Faith was. All at once there were places to go and a chance to see what used to be 'out of the question.'
Over cheap donuts and weak tea they made circles on maps and planned. While it hadn't been brought up, the first stops on their 'around the world' trek weren't large cities. Out and about was all well and good, but easing into a whole new world seemed best.
Legolas let her ramble on without interruption, plainly aware that she needed to verbalize how much she wanted to go far and wide.
Under the lights of Sherri's, the best of late dining, the Elf seemed shimmery and at ease. A good, balanced upbringing did that for a guy. 'Make a good impression on knights and gum-chewing wait staff, anytime, anywhere.' Him being out of his depth was clearly a rare event.
The issue of how they were going to fund their trip hadn't been addressed and Faith was unsure how Elves looked on ' inventive fund-raising'. What sort of jobs did Elves do when they were on the move and doing good? It didn't pay well to be heroic. At least not unless one was in the movie business. But Faith wasn't sure how best to go about bringing up tricky issues like 'who pays and how'.
After circling the subject for a ridiculous amount of time, she was saved from mucking up the waters by Legolas himself. Money stood the test of time and humans liked their wealth, so anyone who'd dealt with them had to have learned.
Legolas let her set the pace of their journey without being told he knew that she had few chances recently to make her own choices and also had certain destinations in mind.
He asked few questions, but watched her, and she suspected, got more from what she did than from her words.
Where she wanted to see everything, Legolas exuded an unhurried appreciation for each destination. Somehow his calm didn't grate and she was able to slow down ever so slightly.
She chose Hawaii first because it was like a postcard. And she only ever got to buy the postcards, going to those kind of places was like stepping into the glossy life of someone else.
The sun was warm enough that her oldest aches began to unwind and she thought seriously about establishing a base of operations on the beach.
She knew that B would think she was being irresponsibly, running all over the world with a 'pretty face' when there was the task of turning a horde of girls into a competent fighting force. There were a lot of things that the blonde wouldn't like about the situation, but lying on a towel on the beach, she didn't care as much as she used to.
As she got used to waking up with the sun in her eyes, Faith found she didn't mind it so much. In the past, she had looked forward to dark as though the sun kept her prisoner. Years of living at night, hunting what lived in the dark had made her pale as any vamp. To see her skin warm like honey in the sun was yet another sign of change.
She was still built to hunt those creatures that rose after nightfall, but she began to enjoy the small pleasures of lying in the sun and letting it warm her to sleepy contentment.
She took advantage of the free time and continued to try and figure Legolas out.
Even relaxation was something to do in new and different ways.
He didn't laze so much as he sprawled, or arranged himself in ways that seemed to involve liquid instead of bones and a lot of self-confidence. Then, despite the softness that such posture implied, he carried more weapons than she'd seen outside a museum, or Giles' weapons cage.
Getting him to reveal how many he was carrying was their version of 'show me yours.' Better though, there were Elven variations on a lot of interesting toys that she wanted for herself. Of course she was sure that most boutiques for 'Pointy Eared and Unbelievably Pretty' had been closed awhile ago, so bugging Legolas until he gave her a few toys of her own was the way to go. She was almost positive that he would see to it that she had more than a few new ways to set off a metal detector.
After several days of heat and sand Faith persuaded Legolas to put aside his shoes. He went along with her, and even went so far as to strip down to pants and a vest.
She wouldn't have called it 'casual', but at least she got to see some skin. It helped her to feel as though she wasn't in some Victorian romance.
Being in the company of someone she wasn't pressing into walls or beds was another unfamiliar experience that she was unsure about. It definitely took some getting used to.
Legolas didn't exactly push her away, but his respectful 'hand on her elbow' manners had her thinking that he fell back on the most comfortable way of dealing with someone more or less unknown.
It was tricky finding the balance between 'in your face' availability and 'useless damsel' innocence.
Whatever else Elves did, and she was increasingly convinced they were nauseatingly talented- hair styling alone- they were excellent warriors. Why there weren't more tales of them traveling around and doing good was a question she did decide was worth asking.
"My kind went over the water," Legolas said, examining the edge of a knife as she sat, chin resting on her knees, beside him.
"Why didn't you go with them?"
His answer wasn't aloud, but came in the form of a small twitch of his lips and she followed his eyes down to the gleaming blade.
Yeah, that was what she knew and enjoyed the most. Built for it they were, both of them.
The only creatures inhabiting the islands were old, things that had seen westerners come and bring new ways of war. At night Faith could sense the eyes of beings that had time to outwait the age of man's marriage to machines.
Legolas was watchful but didn't loose an arrow toward whatever watched them. If their presence was nothing to him then she could let them be.
When Faith asked how he knew they were safe, Legolas cast his eyes to the trees. 'You're kidding' seemed rude but her expression said it well enough.
Legolas smiled. "This place has not yet forgotten the world that was." Faith knew it wasn't just the land that had a long memory.
The longer she was in Legolas' company, the more comfortable unreality became. Walking in step with him, there was no way that she would choose to be anything other than a 'little bit strange.'
Not every minute was perfect, and she struck out when he pushed just a little further than she thought should be allowed. Yet there was no question about separating, he could wait for a bad mood to pass, attitude had nothing on acceptance.
While relating some especially interesting incident with a couple demons, a tourist, and a cul-de-sac , she noticed that he listened with an expression she was beginning to recognize as 'for Faith.' The realization almost made her forget what she was saying but he waited while she picked up her thoughts and carried on.
Staying in one place would be hiding, even if she'd claimed a spot of sand for herself.
But she didn't have to leave anywhere forever and the idea that moving forward wasn't a padlock on returning hadn't yet sunk in fully.
She spent the last couple days pushing sand into piles and smoothing it back down. When she made the same shape and brushed it away from every direction, then it was time to leave.
Legolas talked about the forest the way Faith imagined someone else might a palace. There hadn't ever been a place like that for her.
She'd left a drunk and indifferent parent in what couldn't even be called that side of town, none of which meant much to her. Nothing that she didn't want to get away from. Running from wasn't new, but toward and with support still seemed 'just out of the package' fresh.
They found forests thick enough that electricity and 'modern convenience' seemed an affront to the height of of greenery.
Legolas ducked his head as they left marked trails and when he looked up Faith saw peace.
He listened to voices that she couldn't hear and answered the breeze as though it said his name.
Faith used to associate anyone who claimed they were 'listening to the trees' with hallucinogens and beaded shirts.
That anybody could be so attuned to nature without having inhaled something 'peace loving' wasn't in keeping with 'earth conscious' icons.
Though he swore he'd never been near this place its history was like his own.
She eyed him when a particular piece of information about settlers, loggers, and local legends ran over what she would call 'more than enough', and got a knowing smile with a conclusion.
He acted as though the woods was some exclusive establishment and that they were privileged to have been allowed access. Like a gentleman, he took her hand in a courtly gesture that she accepted, and kissed her wrist, light as fog before leading her down a path that he alone could see.
Worth the effort of a seduction. The idea made her tremble in a way she didn't like at all. His unwavering tenderness kept knocking the wind out of her, and being out of control in the bedroom was as unfamiliar as romance.
He must have gotten the feeling that she was about to freak out somehow because he let go and gave her room to get control again.
It occurred to her that he might be trying to get her accustomed to his way of doing things. 'Just a kiss at a time.' Kind of sweet, on top of everything else.
Back at the car she watched what little traffic passed on a highway in the middle of nowhere long after midnight. Her position on the hood was almost prim until she came back to herself and one leg slid down the windshield, and she knew the line of fitted leather did away with all thoughts of the good and sweet variety.
From somewhere in a pack that seemed to have more dimensional pockets than a bad science fiction film Legolas had pulled a pair of gauntlets for her. Somehow classic and effective, they were black enough to have a green tint, and laced easily up along the inner wrist. He watched as she stretched experimentally and got a smile and as thanks.
While she wouldn't admit it, a little bit of romance wasn't a bad thing. Finding a 'charming prince' had never been a priority, she was just relieved to discover one who wasn't about to get huffy because she had different views on what to do in a 'better world.' Better still, he had the same sort of zest for life that could only lead to tight spots. Which, she had learned, suited him fine, since he had no problem getting out of a fix. As natural and as much of a contradiction as a storm, whether to give life or destroy was all a matter of what circumstances called for.
Faith understood that. Since most noble intentions left sensible action behind, a ruthless streak wasn't a bad thing. In her experience, a hero did a better job when some of the shine had worn off.
The world had the 'excess heroes shakes' and the two of them were aware enough to know that balance was more than necessary than the amusement of 'bonus points for upsetting the system.' There were things on the edges of the world that could flourish best in times when gathering and educating were the priorities.
It wasn't that bad, to stand on the outside and know things. Out where there was more space than people, Faith could feel how much had to be done. With a glance at the Elf settled next to her, she put the car in 'drive' and got back on the road.
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Fandom: Buffy, Lord of the Rings
Author: Scy [email]
Details: Standalone | PG-13 | het | 11k | 04/07/04
Notes: Sequel to 'Swimming Horses.' The title comes from Siouxsie and the Banshees again. *Such* good mood music. Thanks to Momokaachan, Ladycat777, and Mala for their patience and prodding. Spoilers: Through S7 and S4.
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