Author's Notes: Slight AU for season 8. Buffy and Faith had a one night thing post-Chosen. Most things are the same. Some, very obvious, things are different.
Chapter 1: Sometime Around Midnight
The night is slowly growing older and you still find yourself sitting on the soft brown leather of the couch tucked away into the quiet, if quiet is even a justifiably used work, corner of the bar. You sigh to yourself as you watch the multitude of bodies skittering and writhing about on the dance floor. You don't even really want to be here, but when Kennedy called you up all excited about how she was rounding up your brand new crew of protégés for a night out at a very well worn bar in Manchester you couldn't say no. It's your duty to be here now and as the music pulses around you and the smell of distant cigarette smoke and sweat fills your nostrils you both thank and curse your newly found redemption. A brand new life. A brand new shot. You've finally hit the big time after starting up your new gig with Giles. And so now you're sitting alone in the darkness all dressed up in big sister's clothes and the only thing you want to do is hideaway.
You smirk a little to yourself as you watch Kennedy and Willow make their way over to you. You're still not sure what to do with the witch, but she'd told you on more than one occasion that if you've gotten enough of an okay from Buffy to head up a team then she doesn't have any plans on turning you into anything resembling an invertebrate any time soon, and really, that's more than you think you deserve after you didn't do what everyone thought you did. Kennedy flops down beside you and pulls Willow down onto her lap and suddenly you find yourself engaged in a conversation that you don't think you want to, or should, be a part of. Kennedy's got some big plans, big britches to go along with them, and you cast a wry glance in Willow's direction when you can sense her nerves at what her girlfriend thinks could be a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon. There was a time when you'd be asking why put off to Sunday what you can do today. But time and scar tissue has taught you caution and you can tell from the look in Willow's eye that she's thankful you have the final say in this outfit. And you're damned to think that that doesn't feel like the weirdest thing.
You drift away from the conversation as some of the newbies walk over and join Kennedy on telling stories about harrowing escapes and thrilling victories. You share one more smile with Willow, the kind that says you've both been there more than enough times to win this story contest, before you tune out the unending chatter completely. Glancing at your watch you wonder how much longer you'll possibly be stuck in this place. Almost midnight. Got a few hours to go yet so you stand up and make your way over to the bar, knowing that the best way to make time fly is to lose track of it.
You reach the bar just in time for Xander to buy you a drink. You want to say no, but you know he's handing you an olive branch. So you say thank you and clink your glass to his before he walks away to the other side of the crowded room. This isn't any kind of place that you really want to be and as you hop up on a barstool you down your drink in one go and let the lights shining on you from the stage warm your heart as best they can, knowing more than well enough that the lights have nothing to do with the sudden warmth you feel and you send out a silent thank you to Xander for his excellent taste in Rye.
You settle in at the bar, another drink already waiting at the ready in your hand. You can see Willow trying to drag Kennedy away from her slayer gab fest as the lights in the bar are turned down and the band starts playing a song you've heard about a million times over. And suddenly you realize you've been here before. Not in this city or this bar. But in this moment. And so you close your eyes and let it wash over you. You know what's coming. The entire night's been building up to this. The press of the bodies in the stifling room. The vibration of the music in your bones. The way you can suddenly feel her presence prickling up the hairs on the back of your neck. Suddenly all that exists for you is the piano notes of everyone's favourite song and the small smile she's got on her face as Xander tells a joke.
You look at her and you know she can feel you staring, but it doesn't matter. She's entrusted you with her slayer club but this is the first time you've seen her in two years. And damn if she doesn't look good in white. You don't get long to ogle before your favourite student, a true southie like you, sidles up beside you and starts talking red sox. You don't get many opportunities to talk about the things that feel like home, so you welcome the distraction and cast her briefly from your mind. It's always only briefly. She's never gone for very long. And in fact it isn't very long before you can feel her eyes on you. And suddenly it doesn't matter how close your beloved sox came to winning it all this year all you can hear is her laughing. And your eyes keep flickering over to see her smile and you can't help but think about how just two years ago that smile was reserved only for you. You quell the aching in your heart and divert your full attention to the young southie, silently begging her to finish her story about her trip to Fenway soon. You know that she'll be making her way over any minute and you'd rather be alone when that happens. You never did perform well in crowds. Luckily you've recently acquired a guardian angel and Kennedy makes her way over to steal the kid away. As she leaves she catches your eye and, winking, she nods her head towards the other side of the room.
Your palms start to sweat a little bit more than the heat in the room would normally make them and you suddenly can't stop your stomach from turning or the room from spinning, and this time your certain that it's not being caused by your drink. You can't breathe and suddenly anywhere else is everywhere you'd want to be except now her hand is resting on your knee and she's standing right in front of you and you know this is exactly where you want to be. You really want to blame the alcohol because it shouldn't be so hard to say you're doing fine, but when she asked you you completely forgot that English words had any real meaning at all. But after channelling Giles' lessons in etiquette you're able to gulp out the answer and you can see her lip curl into a smile. She knows what being this close to her is doing to you. And she loves it. All you can see is her. You're lost in the smell of her perfume, her shampoo the smell of everything that is just her. And suddenly you're back to two years ago lying on a hotel bed the day after the world didn't end. You remember limbs crossed with limbs. Skin slick with sweat. You're barely aware of the fact that she's tracing small circles on your knee and she's asking how things are going in London in a voice that's veiled thinly with alcohol. All you can see is your bodies fitting perfectly together and how imperfect it felt when she was gone the next morning. Your last one night stand and the only one you just can't shake.
You've really lost yourself now. You bring your drink to your lips and when you slowly lower it you can see her tongue slowly trace the contour of her lips, and you know she's wondering how it would taste to kiss you now. And you know you'd let her even though all you can think about right now is how in every fight and in that one moment of ecstasy no one's body has ever worked as well with yours as hers. And all you want to do is pull her closer to you and whisper in her ear all the things you could do to her. But the fiery circles have burnt out on your knee and she's starting to back away. There's a light dancing in her eyes and this time you have no doubt it's a result of the alcohol. But you know you don't really care about that. You've always been a masochist and you try to tell yourself that a drunken mistake with her would be better than never having her lie in your arms the way she did all that time ago again. And you know you've never been a very good liar.
You don't know how much time has passed since she walked away from you but you can feel the night winding down. And it's just like you to be so stricken by her that you've just sat motionless at the bar like a goof for the past hour or so. Your goofdome is confirmed when Kennedy comes up to you and waves her hand in your face asking if Willow needs to check for permanent brain damage. There's a retort working its way to the tip of your tongue but before you can expel it your eyes suddenly lock with hers. You flicker your gaze back and forth between her eyes and her hand and it takes you a couple of seconds to realize that the latter is entwined with another. Your heart starts beating double time and your stomach clenches painfully when you realize you've never seen this other girl before and now you know for certain that her earlier words to you were solely the result of the alcohol. You clench your fist as she ushers herself and her arm candy outside of the bar and you're vaguely aware of Kennedy's hand finding its way to your forearm, wordlessly asking you what's wrong. You know you look intense and probably a little bit scary right now, but all you're concerned with right now is your blood threatening to boil over in your veins and how you just need to escape the heat of the bar.
It takes a couple of minutes but Kennedy and Willow have finally gotten you to stop pacing around on the sidewalk outside of your hotel and into your room. You didn't want to go inside just yet, but Manchester is a busy city and people check in an out of hotels at all hours of the night and the concierge was getting nervous that you might start scaring away arriving guests. So you acquiesced to their request to go inside but not before you make them tell you where she's staying. You didn't really need to ask to know that she would be staying in the same hotel. She only sleeps in the best beds, as you can now so clearly remember, and this is the best game in town. You can feel her anyways. You could feel her the moment your taxi pulled up to the door. And you've been able to smell her the entire time the witch and the kid slayer walked you to your room. They weren't scared you would detour to her room. They know that will come later. But you've walked Kennedy to her room too many times after shotguns with the girls for her to not return the favour now.
You're sitting on your bed and Willow's pouring you a glass of water in the bathroom as Kennedy watches the streetlights down below. You feel like you're being babysat. But they know how you feel right now. Everyone but her has known for a long time what this means to you and as much as you hate being coddled you're thankful for them anyways and you're actually a little bit sad to see them go as they wave at you from the hall. You close the door and sulk your way back to your bed. Sinking into it you pretend to smell the smells, hear the moans and taste the taste of her skin that you've memorized. You don't know how long you lie there but eventually your neck starts to hurt and you realize that any plans you had of sneaking out to her door are shot when you remember the girl attached to her side as she bolted from the bar tonight. There's only one option left for you tonight and your pillow looks almost as warm and inviting as her lips. Almost but not even close.
You stand up awkwardly and feel the blood rush from your head. The room is spinning again and you're skin starts tingling but you can't blame it on the alcohol because your skin only reacts like this around her. You walk to the door and you force yourself to breathe. You can feel her standing on the other side and you place your finger tips against the dark wood. Sparks fly up your arm and you move to press completely against the door, trying to feel her anywhere you can and everywhere she won't let you. This is a slow sick torture and you can feel her body humming in time with yours but you won't reach for the handle. You can't reach for the handle. And your hand is pressed against the door and you're poised to turn the brass handle and you know that her body is a mirror of yours. Perfectly in synch. And it's only a matter of time and you just want to break down the barrier. You just need to see her. You need to see her to know that it really happened. You need to see her so you know that night three years ago really happened. You just need to see her and you know that it's going to kill you. You're just not sure if it will lead to heaven or hell.
And as you decide to damn all the consequences you turn the handle and before you can form your next thought she's in your arms and you've got her pressed up against the door and all you're really aware of right now is the feel of her lips on yours, her tongue battling with yours. When your brain inevitably kicks in again you're stuck with a random thought and you can' help but wonder if you actually opened the door and let her walk through or if her sheer force of will just made the door temporarily disappear, a thought that you know, given the supernatural quality of the world, is not too easily dismissed. But you don't have time to think about it any longer because her fingers are dancing along the back of your neck and up and down your sides and you think your knees are going to give out. You're drowning in her smell, her taste. You're drowning in her completely. And as she breaks away from your lips long enough to catch her breath you make sure to look into her eyes. Your hands make their way to the drawstring on her sleepwear. You don't know if these were put on with another pair of eyes watching her, but when your fingers make contact with the skin on her waist and her breath hitches and her eyes glaze over a little you suddenly don't care.
You hear her whisper that she needs you and you don't care about that other girl at all anymore because she's lacing her fingers with yours and biting down softly on the skin of your neck. Yeah, you're in love with her. Anyone who's been paying attention knows that. You'd be willing to bet money that she knows it. And as you lead her over to your bed, discarding clothing with every step, you hope to god she knows it in the morning. And all through the night you do your best to show her.