The Sunnydale High Library, 5:48 pm. A schoolday...
"Faith, you're still cocking your leg too early. I can see it - "
<Kick-punch. Block, block.>
" - coming. Try leading with your left. Keep the knee bent. Disguise it."
<Kick-punch-spin-kick. Block, block, BAP!>
"That what you meant, B?"
Buffy took a step back, one hand touching her impacted cheek. She eeked out a tiny smile. "Mmm. Maybe I shouldn't be pointing out all my weaknesses."
"Hey, your idea, babe." Faith crossed her arms over her chest, lifted her leg and rotated her ankle delicately. "Besides, I thought you were picking on my weaknesses. Prepping me to fight shorties, ya know?"
"Shorties?" Buffy was clearly not amused by the implication. "I am not that short. And you're hardly WNBA material, Gargantua."
Faith smiled with a touch of wicked pleasure. "Sensitive much?"
The elder Slayer lifted a pale brow. "I haven't found that my stature impedes me from kicking whatever ass needs to be kicked. Including yours."
The brunette rolled her shoulders, assumed a flat-footed stance, and puffed herself up to her full height. "Ooh. A nerve has officially been touched."
"Size doesn't matter here, Faith. I could be Gary Coleman and I'd still have your number. Come to think of it, he probably does have your number."
"Ssssst. Low blow, Summers." Faith cocked her head and returned fire. "But then, a guy has to be a moldering cadaver to get your digits, right?"
"I've got a digit for you, sweetie," Buffy taunted, flipping the bird.
"Clever. Too bad they don't have a 'sophisticated banter' section on the SAT. You could have broken a scoring record with that witty riposte."
"I'm playing down to your level - just like when we fight."
"Big talk, shrimp. Care to back up that boast with a little action?"
"You wanna amp this up, fine by me," Buffy nearly growled. She flexed her sore jaw and wanted to avenge the sting. Properly. "Sparring rules?"
"Ditch 'em. Ruprecht isn't shadowing us today," Faith noted, scanning the Giles-free zone with gleeful anticipation. The stodgy librarian could be such a killjoy when their training sessions got a bit too heated for his tastes.
"His name is Rupert, and he won't be back in time."
"In time for what?"
Buffy positioned herself, knees bent, elbows tucked at her sides, hands raised. "To stop me from playing professor. I believe I have a lesson to deliver. It's called 'How To Spot An Experienced Slayer.' Fun and educational."
"I always hated school."
Without bothering to change her relaxed posture, Faith dropped to the floor and executed a leg sweep. The sudden move caught Buffy by surprise and felled her fast, but she recovered quickly and rolled to the side just as a fist dropped onto the spot where her head would have been. Faith's knuckles pounded the floor and she grunted as pain blazed up her forearm.
Buffy swung one leg around her opponent's back and slammed the larger girl's body to the floor. Despite the pain of the dual impacts, Faith managed to tangle her lengthy legs around Buffy's knee. She crossed her ankles and jerked hard, tugging Buffy off-balance and bringing her down on her backside.
Both slayers righted themselves and bounded back to their feet, juices flowing free, angry as hell and ready to go again.
"How's that hand?" Buffy queried, her eyes alight with malicious fun.
"Better than your face would've been," Faith hissed, bobbing her head as she circled the petite blond.
"Woulda, coulda, shoulda."
"Watch it, B. I'm just getting revved up."
"Lay it on me, Butch. Round two?"
The two rushed into range, throwing and blocking flurries of punches that defied normal human standards of speed. Faith snuck in a veiled right cross and tried to follow with the same spinning kick that landed earlier. This time, Buffy was ready. She locked Faith's ankle between her elbow and hip and pulled her standing leg out from under her. Faith went down hard on her back, losing her breath as she collided with the polished hardwood floor.
Buffy dropped the captive ankle and stepped clear, trying not to look overly smug. "Take short breaths at first. You'll recover faster that way."
Faith glowered at her, but took her advice. She tipped back on her shoulders and kicked up to a battle-ready stance. "Thought I had you that time."
"What can I say?" Buffy shrugged. "My short-term memory is primo good."
Tucking a few fallen strands of long, dark hair behind her ears, Faith gave a grudging nod of comprehension. "Round three?"
Faith immediately executed three fast kicks that climbed from knee-level to shoulder height, losing the bookends to blocks but landing the second with a solid thud against Buffy's stomach. She barely gave herself time to regain her balance before she dropped under the blond's left hook and deftly chopped at the magic drop-zone behind her knee. Buffy fell into a semi-crouch and twisted her free leg around Faith's neck, jerking her sideways and down.
The slayers found themselves in a rather odd position. Buffy's calf lay under her opponent's head, one slim thigh tucked just beneath her chin as she half-kneeled on the floor and half-sat on the larger girl's chest. On her back yet again, Faith growled out a yelp of frustration as Buffy grinned down at her. Applying a little salt to Faith's wounded pride, Buffy lightly torqued the hold by grasping her ankle and pulling the leg-vice tighter.
"I'm sorry," Buffy blinked innocently. "Did you say something?"
"Say 'Uncle.' No, that's too easy. Say 'Buffy rules, Faith drools.'"
Faith rolled her eyes, due less to the pressure on her throat than the ridiculous request. "Eat me, rug-munchkin."
Taken aback by the untoward suggestion, Buffy loosened her hold a tad. "You kiss your mother with that mouth?"
"I'd rather kiss your mother," Faith retorted, her dirty joke further shocking Buffy into a lax grip.
The decreased pinch on her neck gave Faith a tiny window of opportunity which she darted through like a wasp. One hand jumped up and grabbed Buffy's hair, pulling her backward just as the other snaked between her legs and pushed up hard on her groin. Buffy toppled backwards with a strangled cry somewhere between a yelp and a curse, her leg still awkwardly strapped over the other girl's shoulder.
Faith reared up over her with a nakedly evil leer, dark hair curtaining her flushed face. She made no effort to loosen her fingers from the tangle of white-blond hair, or to remove her pressing palm from the noticeably warm region just south of her fellow Slayer's pelvic bone.
"Draw?" Faith growled, making the single word sound incredibly provocative.
Buffy lay under her, perfectly still and silent. Her blood was already running hot from combat and grew hotter with the unexpected surge that came from such a firm, confident touch.
"Uhh... yeah," Buffy whispered, confused by her body's almost independent response to Faith's closeness, her scent, the heat of her body.
Neither of the girls made a move to free themselves. The intimate contact held them both suspended in limbo, paralyzed by the realization of unnamed possibility. Chests heaving, pushing soft against soft, faces inches apart, sharing breath... something had to give. Soon.
Buffy knew she should say something. Words popped into her mind, words like 'no' and 'stop' and 'wrong,' but none made it past her lips in time.
Faith swooped down like a bird of prey and kissed her. Hard. With an open mouth and a darting, sweeping tongue that slipped between her lips and smelted her sterling verbal skills with a blast of furnace-hot desire. Her eyes went wide, then fluttered shut. 'Wrong' and 'no' and 'stop' fell away like rapidly molted skin. She was being kissed for the sake of kissing, touched for the sake of touching, by someone who quite obviously knew how. It felt very, very good.
For a tropical instant, Buffy's mind was a blissful blank. There was no guilt attached to this pleasure, no danger of imminent, soul-stealing evil hovering over these kisses like a dampening pall. All she could feel was her blood singing through her veins, caroling through the streets of her living body, speeding recklessly toward the cul-de-sac between her legs where that palm still pressed, now grinding in small, deliriously beautiful circles against the seam of her jeans.
Almost of their own accord, her arms drifted up and around Faith's back, pulling her down, closer, tighter, until she could feel the girl's heart beating wildly against her own chest. Alive. She returned the kiss with all the trapped, maddening want held captive within her, feeling for once that the world wouldn't end if she let her urges out to play.
Things might have continued just that way - a symphony of wordlessly ingratiating touches and wet, warm kisses - for an infinite span of time. But they didn't. Faith cruelly stole her tongue from Buffy's custody, licked her swollen, abandoned mouth in a slow, cat-like gesture, and pulled away.
Buffy looked up and found a dark gaze fixed on her, a reticent fear swimming in Faith's eyes. "Uh... hmmm," was all she could manage to say.
"Sorry," Faith whispered, disentangling herself from Buffy's supine form, retreating physically and emotionally. "That was way out of line."
"Wha-we-when... what?" Buffy shook her head, trying to get a handle on her bucking confusion. "What's... what?"
Faith waved a dismissive hand as she stood, her legs barely able to hold her up. "My fault. I'll save you the trouble of throwing me out."
She took a few steps toward the double doors of the library, then a hand fell on her shoulder, a gentle restraint which she shrugged off.
Buffy stepped in front of her, cutting off her retreat. "Faith, just... give me a second to shake off my Nell-like fit of glossolalia."
Faith tried twice to edge around her, finding herself blocked each time. She sighed and shut her eyes. "Hey, I said I was sorry."
"I don't want an apology," Buffy stated solidly. "I want to understand."
"I told you how I get after a fight."
"Hungry and horny, I remember. You were pretty clear on that point."
"Well? Where's the mystery, Columbo?" Faith spat, still greedily eyeing the door marked 'Exit.'
"So, what? Now you're off to get a pizza?"
"No, now I'm off to get laid, take a shower, and then get a pizza."
Buffy squinted and turned her head as if the logic were too painfully shallow to confront directly. "Let me unscramble this one - thirty seconds ago, you were ready to Anne Heche me on the floor of a public school library, and now you're off looking for nookie with the proper stranger?"
"How 'bout you just tell me what you want to hear so I can motor," Faith demanded, staring past the distractingly beautiful young woman. She wanted escape and oblivion, a chance to forget her grievous misstep.
After a moment of concentrated distilling, Buffy got to the point. "It - and by 'it' I mean fighting - affects me, too. I understand about getting revved up and needing release, but... it's complicated for me."
"That whole 'cursed dead boyfriend' thing," Faith clarified.
Buffy noticed that Faith finally looked at her, finally met her eyes. She still looked scared, like she wanted to bolt, but she stood patiently, waiting for the summation.
"Angel is the only person I've ever been with, and there are so many strings attached to loving him. I tend to keep a tight rein my libido lest I get trampled again, followed shortly thereafter by the end of the world. And I don't mean in a figurative, Skeeter Davis, heartbroken way."
"Country song, end of the world. Bad, obscure reference. Sorry."
"B, you're talking in donuts."
Round and round, nothing in the middle. Only there was something at the center of Buffy's chatter. "I hadn't allowed for the possibility of... well, something like what just happened between us. Nearly happened. Not until it actually - almost - happened."
She took a cautious step toward the dark beauty, careful not to startle her into combat or flight. "You may not have noticed, but I didn't exactly scream in horror and run when you kissed me."
Faith froze. Her jaw flexed. Eyelids blinked dreamily. "I noticed."
"So, at last we get to my point - and I do have one. Since I obviously found myself willing, and since you were equally obviously willing... God, too many adverbs... why did you stop?"
The words, the question, were so unexpected, so blatantly accepting and encouraging, that Faith found herself with an answer deficit. Her heart jumped around behind her ribs like that 'Lord of the Dance' dude after ten double espressos. Lying was simply not an option; it required too much presence of mind.
"You said it yourself. You've only been with the one guy, that one time."
Buffy held up a hand, tried not to sound too defensive. "Hold up. Just because something's not in my realm of admittedly limited carnal experiences doesn't mean I'd spazz out or be utterly inept."
"Whoa." Faith frowned through a double-take. "I didn't mean it like that."
"You didn't mean to imply that I'm not worldly enough to make it worth the effort? Not good enough?"
"Gahd, no," Faith murmured, eyes focused on her boots. "If anything, you're too good."
"Too good for what?"
The softly spoken words hit Buffy like a fist to the gut, driving the wind right out of her. She actually meant something to Faith. It made sense. In a sudden flash of realization, the demi-rejection made sense. Though Faith could trump her in sheer number of encounters, Buffy had the edge in this category as well. More experienced as a slayer, more experienced in love, as one honest love affair infinitely outnumbers none at all.
"You've never been with anyone you actually cared about, have you?" Buffy asked gently, trying to wield her newfound power responsibly.
Faith blew out a long breath and shook her head. "That's sort of the point. Burn off the energy, walk away smiling. Anything more is too much trouble."
"And you do care about me. Like, we're friends, I mean."
"Yeah. Yeah, like that," Faith agreed, shakily downplaying her feelings. "Good. That's a good thing, making friends, having friends. Wait, I don't mean, like making friends. Or having friends, like in the sweaty, naked, Larry Flynt's hot tub party way," Buffy rambled, blushing bright red as she realized she was doing so. "I'm gonna make shush now."
"Hey, I get your drift. I make friends real easy. I just suck at keeping them," Faith revealed sadly. "You're actually a real, live good person. Plus, you're the only one who knows what it's like to be what we are. I don't want to screw that up, B... Buffy."
"Hey, you said my name!" Buffy exclaimed. "My whole, entirely silly moniker. Well, if you've stopped reducing me to a singular consonant, you must really like me."
"I guess I do," she said, shrugging off a flick of embarrassment. "For me, it's like I don't want anything too... "
Buffy sensed her groping for an appropriate descriptive. "String-laden?"
"Yeah. Good word," Faith nodded. "I'm not ready to play that kind of scene with anybody, least of all somebody I'd like to keep. As a friend."
"Of course. I understand. Me, too," Buffy seconded. "One life-shattering affair before the teens are over can be bad, but any more that that is just asking for an adulthood of therapy bills."
Faith scratched absently at her nose, fighting a grin. "T-R-O-U-B-L-E."
"You and me," Buffy intoned, trying to envision the ensuing complications that might arise if they followed through, if their coupling extended beyond one adrenalized encounter. "I see where that could mean trouble."
Dark eyes glanced up, hiding beneath hooding brows. "Might be worth it."
A hopeful smile lit Buffy's face. She edged closer to Faith, into her personal space. "If we could keep it under control, minimize the potential for collateral damage... "
Faith looked at her directly, smirking. "Ruprecht would freak."
"As would everyone else," Buffy muttered, thinking mostly of Angel and the pain it might cause him, knowing that she had turned to someone else for what he could no longer give her. "Think we can serve in silence?"
One hand reached out and touched Faith's elbow, then dragged down slowly to wind their fingers together. Faith pulled her in and wrapped her arm around Buffy's waist. She leaned in and whispered, lips brushing against her ear.
"Don't ask, don't tell."
Under a flag of truce, with a tenuous understanding that silence was golden, the Slayers looked each other head-on and felt their blood rise again. In an instant, the banked fire sprung to life and roared behind their eyes, demanding to be quenched.
Buffy rose up on her toes and initiated a second kiss, drawing Faith down to meet her. Mouths opened and tongues entwined, thick and hot, sweet with promise. Hands roamed free as wild horses, across backs and bottoms and thighs, stoking the flames higher, higher, reaching the point of combustion.
Something exploded. Literally.
A ground-shaking BOOM! rocked the very floor beneath their feet, yet it barely registered with either of them. Faith's hand had found its way under Buffy's sweatshirt and bra, fingers grasping and stroking her small, firm breasts in syncopated rhythm with their jousting tongues, and neither Slayer was aware that *they* had not actually caused the earth to move.
Buffy dug her fingers into Faith's buttocks, pulling her in tight, grinding against her hipbone in tawdry, gorgeous suggestion. Faith growled from deep inside her own need and slipped her other hand down the back of Buffy's pants, touching bare skin and sliding fingers down the cleft of her ass.
Someone screamed. A woman, panicked and loud.
Since their mouths were otherwise occupied, they both realized simultaneously that the screamer was someone entirely other, someone in that outside world that went on spinning even as they sought a respite from the eternal spin-cycle that was life as a Slayer in Sunnydale.
Buffy broke away first, breathing heavily, more weak-kneed than she had been since birth. She cleared her thickened throat and tried to rapidly adjust her disheveled clothing. Walking would just have to wait a few seconds.
"Hellmouth, USA," Faith grumbled. "Never boring, but the timing sucks ass."
A sharp smack sounded as Buffy hit herself in the forehead, as if some horrible realization had struck her consciousness.
"Hey, you okay to do the whole 'battling evil' thing?" Faith asked, somewhat concerned by the blond's worried expression.
"I'm getting closer to fine every second, but it just occurred to me," she announced, voice brimming with dread, "if this is some big, honking evil thing that requires lots of physical exertion... "
"Yeah?" Faith prodded.
Buffy arched an eyebrow and smirked naughtily. "We might just wind up killing each other tonight."
Faith laughed loud and hard at the prospect, briefly envisioning Rupert Giles's crimson grief at finding both his Slayers, dead and naked and rigorously smiling, in room 3 of the Sunnydale Motor Hovel.
"Don't sweat it, Buff. Everybody's gotta go sometime."
Buffy snickered and shook her head. "That fatalistic attitude of yours is such a turn-on."
"Save it for the monsters, girlfriend," Faith suggested, holding open the library door for her partner in crime. "Let's hit it."