Author: Regala Electra
Rating: R Overall
Pairings: Faith/Wood, Faith/Buffy, Faith/Wes, Faith/Others
Spoilers: Set after the BtVS & AtS Series Finales
Series Summary: Faith’s seen The Muppet Movie. She likes to think of herself as a master of moving right along.
Part Three Summary: It’s a race and the finish line is to her bed and Faith’s never felt that sweet victory.
Author’s Notes: Series of short ficlets featuring Faith's life post-Chosen. Er, I also am using these fics to set up a context for Faith in the Other Myths That Aren’t True Faith/Dean Crossover Series of Sexy Doom. You do not need to read that series to understand these ficlets, they are mostly BtVS/AtS oriented. Titles to each section are song lyrics, all credited.
This part is Faith/Buffy. Feedback loved.
emptiness hanging from the shadows
(Mary; Kristin Hoffmann)
It’s a marathon, only they’re not running. For the moment. But that’s how it’s always been and Faith has run on fumes far too many times than is probably healthy (but hell, she’s still alive, so she figures it’s not that bad).
Three days in Rome and best thing Faith’s seen was Buffy knocking a demon into a fountain. She’d leaped in after it and Faith was taking care of her own baddie, but she’d seen glimpses and it was a damn fine thing to see that Buffy’s not rusty, not one bit. The fight ended in the good way – they’d won – and Faith and Buffy had strolled around, satisfied at a job well done. —This is how you see the cities, Buffy had explained as they rounded a corner, stumbling into a cluster of tourists with cameras around their necks and everything.
Buffy had laughed then and it’s such a rare sound, like seeing a fucking unicorn or some shit and Faith had laughed too. She suggested that they get something to drink and Buffy had said she had some wine at home, patting Faith’s shoulder as if to say, we’re okay now.
Only they’re not. Not really. It’s just another stretch, another winding curve and they make it back to Buffy’s apartment much faster than they should have, what with all those regular people watching. Faith wants to say, Are we racing? but she knows that answer already.
They’re nearing the half-mark of the marathon. Back in B's place, they're tossing down wine like it’s water and hell, water and wine, they’re the same thing. Only one of 'em will get you drunker and stupider a whole lot quicker. Though Faith’s alcohol of choice (a good shot of whiskey) packs a bigger punch, a good bottle of wine isn’t nothing to sniff at.
Buffy’s become a damn connoisseur since moving to Rome.
They are drunk and because they are drunk and high on adrenaline, they are reminiscing about the few good times they shared. Soon, they talk about Angel, which has been on the official "we will not speak of this" list since word got back to them about Angel's last stand in Los Angeles.
That’s a nice way of putting it. Faith’s pretty sure Buffy’s the damn war widow, she got the first notice and all the grief to herself. After doing the math (and shit, Faith hates math), she found out a hell of lot later than nearly everyone else who knew Angel. And Wes. And Gunn. That Fred girl had apparently died before, some sort of demon had taken her body. And there’s also—a flicker of a shadow hits her, like going blind for half a second. She blinks it away and stops mid-sentence in her ramble about Angel.
Faith tips the bottle and some of it sloshes into her glass, though not by much. She drinks straight from the bottle after watching the red spread against the white tablecloth. Who the fuck uses a white tablecloth, B? she asks, downing the bottle and leaving barely enough for one good glass.
Buffy always holds her wine glass close to her, keeping it even, the liquid at perfect freakin’ equilibrium, though her eyes are glassy and big. That's B’s only tell when it comes to drinking, she's got amazing tolerance, something she must've been working on over the past few years. If she wore pearls, she'd be clutching them right now. —Don't worry, I have connections, she says with a crooked smile. —If you ruin this one, I'll just get another.
Just like vampires with souls, Faith says, because she's drunk enough that she might not mean it, even though she does. She waits for Buffy's reaction, it is slow and elegant; she’s gotten herself some fucking culture since Rome's become her home.
Setting down her wine glass, she gently daubs at the stain with a blood-red napkin. It just makes the wine blot and there are tired lines on Buffy's forehead, wrinkles of emotions that she is unwilling to display. Then, cool as anything. —Perhaps-
Que sera, sera, Faith cuts in. Whatever B. She taps her index finger over the four bottles they've already emptied and says something else, something that is horrible and the truth.
The slap is expected as is the kiss. Salt and alcohol and Faith drowns in it. Later, Buffy will rewrite it, as she does with her entire goddamn life, inventing a story that is easy, so easy to breathe in. Faith sucks down Buffy's reckless abandon like cigarette smoke. Instead of stinging her lungs, it burns through all of her body, a disruptive energy harshing on the pleasant buzz of the wine.
They never get far, B's always pulling back and away, she's always gotta appear to be the stronger one.
But Faith's the one that keeps on coming back, because they still haven't finished mourning all those lost. There's too many things unspoken and she figures eventually one of 'em will crack and say some terrible words.
“I don't love him anymore. I can't grieve for him anymore. I can forget them and let old ghosts die. I'm at peace now.”
Too bad Faith ain't gonna be the one that'll break. She tucks the memories down deep inside and keeps on running towards the fire because some battles ain't never gonna end.
It’s easy to sink deep into the ground when it’s as soft as this. Easier still when it’s wet and slick and smudged lipstick and soft skin. When it tastes like desire and want and old loves and lost friends.
It’s a race and the finish line is to her bed and Faith’s never felt that sweet victory. It will be hollow and sour, that morning after, if she’s even graced that, but it’ll be all right. She keeps on going because that’s all she knows. Buffy’s familiar and her body’s familiar in ways it shouldn’t be. Bodyswapping informed her, years ago, of the ways to do this right. Faith’s not a perfectionist.
She fights and fucks the same way, only difference is a measure of the strength and determination. You have to want, but not enough to break you.
Buffy’s anger is sharp and she tries to use her kisses as retorts, but Faith wants them, wants them all. She wants it to hurt badly.
They’re both leaning towards each other over the little table and Buffy’s got her fingers all wrapped in Faith’s hair. Pulling too hard. That’s just fine.
Maybe Faith’s the one who creeps over the table — ruining her jeans in the process — or maybe it’s Buffy. The table topples over either way and the empty bottles shatter. It's a beautiful noise.
Someone has to clean that up, Faith comments as she hikes up Buffy’s shirt, managing to get it up and over with little argument. She moves to kiss that golden stomach, but pauses. There’s a wine stain of a bruise stretching across Buffy's ribcage. It’s nasty, almost like what internal bleeding looks like. All purpled and splotchy. She presses fingertips against it like a question and Buffy doesn’t flinch, her eyes still wide and now she’s panting just a bit, her skin flushed. Faith presses deeper, not surprised to feel solid bones under the thin skin.
Most people think that B’s all fragile, a little thing who could be knocked over with a stiff breeze. It’s gotten even more apparent as the years passed and Buffy’s not softened at all, only looking harder, with shadows cutting her cheekbones.
It’s a good disguise. Faith can’t help but admire B’s commitment to maintaining the illusion.
That demon kicked you a lot harder, huh? she says, a whisper kiss above Buffy’s bellybutton.
A hitch of breath and then, —Fuck you, Faith.
What parts of you did you give to them? Faith asks, not because she is jealous, but because this isn’t just all about Bufy. This is about Angel, Angel who fell and didn’t fucking ask for her help, because he’s a stupid bastard. And Spike, there’s Spike there too, the curious spark of interest and playful seduction, when she rolled around in B’s body and thought she’d been so goddamn clever, playing at a life she never got to have.
Buffy bucks and Faith gets knocked flat on her ass, Buffy’s hands are fierce, tearing at Faith’s shirt, yanking at her belt, pulling down her jeans. The rest of it is familiar in other contexts, Faith’s fucked enough people and there’s only so much variation, but there’s more here. There are shadows who watch them with dead eyes.
Buffy’s inexperienced with this and nervous as all hell. Before she can jump away, skittering like a baby colt just realizing it can run so fast, Faith wraps arms around her, kissing away the hesitation.
It won’t go far, a shiver of naked flesh against each other. It’s that good lasting moment of the first time it’s felt: skin on skin. Bodies sing and scream and say so much. Buffy’s body has been taught to suffer silences.
Faith's body can’t quite seem to shut up and it’s a balancing act, like a wine glass held in steady hands.
What were they like?, she asks because curiosity’s a killer and she always falls for the twisted ones.
Buffy pushes the heel of her hand into Faith’s stomach, the very same spot she once plunged the knife. It still screams like the first time it sunk deep into her gut.
—Like that. There’s no more talking.
It’s gotten to full on nudity, which is a great place to be, but Faith’s gotten a bit wiser with the years (even when she’s stupid and she’s wicked drunk, which she sorta is). A person, the type who thinks Buffy’s fragile and happy and just another smiling sunny person, might not have figured the exact moment where it changed.
Faith’s no expert. She doesn’t make herself out to be one. There are no claims she has, no ways of making this real. It’s always been an illusion. And when the shadows creep over Buffy, that’s when it ends.
It seems like every time it gets closer and closer. Faith’s mouth presses against Buffy’s thigh, her fingers stroking just over that initial wetness.
You’re not sober enough to start making the excuses, Faith chuckles. Still, she stretches and rolls away and starts grabbing at her discarded clothing.
—This isn’t a game, Faith, Buffy intones carefully. It’s the slow patience of someone still drunk. But it has the edge to it — of someone who knows exactly what they’re doing.
It’s a race, Faith answers. Whoever stops mourning them first, wins.
It’s minutes later, or maybe it’s not. Faith isn’t keeping score. Not on that count at least. Her hand over the doorknob, Faith doesn’t turn around. All she says is, You win. Take the fucking prize.