Rating: NC -17
Summary: all we do is circle it. Set post-Not Fade Away. Written for violetsmiles.
Oral's Notes: No email address available for Idyll. Please leave a story review at author's site.
Faith hates everything about Rome, from the goddamn Vespas that veer up onto the sidewalk to the haughty bitches who can mange cobblestone streets in four-inch fucking heels. And don't get her started on the guys, who are way too squishy and soft for her tastes.
What she hates most of all about Rome, though, is that she doesn't leave.
Buffy says: We can't keep doing this.
But she's licking Faith's clit, wide-tongued and forceful laps, and at that moment Faith wants to do nothing else but this.
Later, Faith's watching dishwasher safe silicon slide in an out of Buffy, watching Buffy writhe and push herself down, bring it in deeper. And it's...beautiful. Buffy moaning; Buffy wanting; Buffy needing.
And Faith says: I need to leave.
Buffy's mouth falls open and her lips move soundlessly.
Andrew tells Faith that Spike and Angel are in town looking for Buffy and her new boyfriend. All Faith can think is that she's not as far gone as the vamps are because she doesn't care that Buffy's doing this guy who puts stars in her eyes. That doesn't matter because it's separate, and she and Buffy still do their thing three nights a week.
But then the vamps leave and Faith can only think, who's laughing now?
It doesn't start after a patrol, which is when Faith always thought--in the back of her head--it would. No, it starts in the middle of a slowdown, when the nasties run off to lick their wounds after having two dozen Slayers use Rome as a training ground.
Faith and Buffy are in the study of the Watcher house, twitchy and restless because it's been "go go go" since Sunnydale and they're not quite sure how to "sit sit sit" anymore, if they ever knew how to begin with.
Faith clears her throat: Wanna spar? Work off the restlessness?
Buffy tilts her head, replies: No.
Then she steps forward and kisses Faith, soft and squishy, just like Faith hates, but with this steel underneath that Faith needs.
Faith used to be in love with Buffy; desperately in love with everything about her and around her. Nowadays, it's this ache deep inside her that's quiet and certain. What they do in Faith's room isn't about that love, even though she sometimes thinks that Buffy is trying to make something up to her, or trying to give her a little bit of something that Buffy thinks is needed.
That place inside of Faith doesn't get touched by the sucking or the fucking. What they do is about locking out the world and going back to the time when the planet wasn't full of Slayers who they have to look after, guide, protect and teach. At least, that's what Faith thinks, because that's what she gets out of it. A little escape from this Brave New Slayer World they had a part in creating and are now responsible for.
And if maybe that quietly certain place inside of her glows a little when they're done and she's alone again, well, she's just going to ignore it. Because it's stupid for getting its hopes up like that.
Buffy asks Faith: Do you ever feel...obsolete?
And Faith looks at her incredulously, says: Fuck no. Us? We've got experience these girls don't, B. They need that, people who know what it's like to be a Slayer .
Buffy frowns, says to Faith: Having someone who knew what being a Slayer was like didn't help you.
Faith says: There wasn't anything that was going to help me.
Faith finds that she can't say anything more about it. She can't find the words she needs to say that she was just broken, and she had to be broken entirely before she could piece herself back together; there was nothing Buffy could have done. Hell, Faith doesn't even try to find the words because she's not much on words at all. They're soft and squishy, too.
Faith shrugs, continues with: You know Giles is sending me borderline girls, right? Ones he thinks might do shit I did. And, you know, some of these girls? There isn't going to be anything that'll help them, but we've gotta try, just like you did with me.
And Buffy kind of smiles, says in that don't-argue-with-me tone of hers: You're doing a good job with them, Faith.
Andrew keeps bugging Faith about her return ticket. He's had to change it four times already, and it's a misuse of funds to keep paying for changes, and could she please just leave in ten days as scheduled, please?
It's Giles who calls Andrew off, and Faith isn't sure what to make of that. But then Giles sits her down. "I know you and Buffy are trying to find your peace with each other and that it's a tentative and slow-moving process. I just want you to know that you can take all the time you need."
Faith blinks at him. "What makes you think all that, Giles?"
"The two of you have been staying behind when the other girls go out," he says, like it's the most obvious thing in the world. "You've been sparring with each other rather often, as well, and the two of you seem to pair up for dish duty more often than not."
The funny thing isn't that he's not right about all of that stuff, but that he's so wrong about the motivation behind it all. Socializing with the new Slayers off-duty feels too much like babysitting rather than having fun, so they don't. And they've been sparring because they don't have to hold anything back or teach anyone anything when it's each other they're fighting. Faith's not really sure why she washes dishes and Buffy dries them three nights a week, but it's not out of a hankering to be friends with each other, that's for sure.
Giles would probably stare at Faith stupidly if she told him that she and Buffy rarely, if ever, actually speak more than a couple of sentences to each other each day.
"Right. Well, thanks," Faith says and stands up. "Glad I won't be harassed by your secretary anymore."
"Administrative assistant!" Andrew calls through the closed door, and Giles goes red in the face and stomps over there. Faith makes her escape after Giles starts yelling, but before Andrew starts crying, and considers it a good day in Giles' version of Romper Room.
Will you ever be able to forgive me? Faith asks Buffy on one of those nights.
In the near darkness of Buffy's room, Buffy looks at Faith and Faith hurries to make herself clear: It's just a question.
Buffy stares up at the ceiling, the fingers of one hand drawing patterns on the skin of her stomach. She says to Faith: I don't think so, and I hate that because it's unfair to you.
Faith shakes her head immediately, says: No, it's cool. No worries.
Dawn catches Faith coming out of Buffy's bedroom and the two of them come to a grinding halt and just gape at each other.
"What were you doing in there?" Dawn asks in shock.
"What are you wearing?" Faith asks in kind, staring at Dawn's bustier and fishnet stockings. Then she catches sight of the boots Dawn's holding instead of wearing. "And weren't you supposed to be home three hours ago?"
"What were you doing in there?" Dawn repeats, her eyes wide as she looks at Faith's messy hair. "...oh. Ew! Ew! Ew!"
"Shut up," Faith hisses. She takes Dawn's elbow and steers the youngest Summers down the hall. "Both of us'll be in trouble if anyone hears you."
"But--the Immortal guy-type semi-person? Is he gone? When did he go?" Dawn grumbles. "Why didn't anyone tell me?"
"No, he's still around. It's complicated, okay?" The light catches on glitter on Dawn's cheeks, and Faith frowns. "Where the hell were you until this hour? Dressed like that? You were supposed to be at some crumbled ruins with Maria."
Dawn fidgets. "Um. It's complicated."
They stare at each other for a long moment, then simultaneously say, "Goodnight!" and head for their own rooms.
It seems as though Buffy's been trying to get Faith off for two hours, but it's actually only been a few minutes. But it's obvious Faith's totally not into it.
What's wrong? Buffy wants to know.
Faith shrugs, says: Nothing. Sorry. Lemme do you.
Buffy pulls away and shakes her head. Tells Faith: You're somewhere else. Where?
New York, Faith answers before thinking. When she realizes what she just said, she adds: The Slayers are probably getting up to all sorts of shit that I'll have to dig them out of.
You should go home to your girls, Buffy says quietly.
Faith thinks about the difference between what she said and what Buffy said--the Slayers versus your girls--and she realizes both are technically true, but Buffy's statement is really true. The Slayers are her girls, and she hates the thought that they're staying out until all hours of the night, in fishnet stockings and bustiers, with glitter all over their faces. At least when she's not on hand for them to call if they get in over their heads.
Dawn needs you around more, Faith tells Buffy.
Buffy says: I know. You should go home, Faith. It's time.
Faith nods and says, very slowly, very cautiously: I thought we were supposed to, like, come to terms with stuff. Or talk.
I thought we did, Buffy tells Faith. The first part, at least. We haven't been too good with the second part for a while, now.
Faith smiles faintly, says dryly: Probably because I ignored all your talking efforts when I went evil and started murdering people.
Exactly because of that, Buffy agrees quickly, her voice bright and chipper. But, still. We dealt with stuff.
Faith wonders what, exactly they dealt with, where she was when they did so, and whether Buffy took notes. Because that's something Faith would be interested in reading over.
The Slayers insist on throwing Faith a goodbye party. Faith thinks they just want an excuse to party, especially when she comes downstairs and realizes she only knows a quarter of the people present.
The Immortal is at Buffy's side, and Faith goes over to say hello because the truth is that Faith and The Immortal get along pretty damn well. He gives her a hug, says he'll miss her, and is smart enough to make the hug really short and the words really fake. But he winks at her before he takes Buffy's hand and brings it to his lips for a kiss, and Faith sees his nostrils flare.
Huh. The fucker's known all along. She flips him off and goes over to where Andrew's sitting with his dates for the evening. Little eavesdropping girly-man's got game here in Italy, which is so disturbing that Faith suddenly can't wait to get out of the country, off the continent, back to where things make sense.
"Excited to be going home?" he asks.
"Yeah, actually. Don't know how well Vi's been keeping the girls in line."
"Not all that well," Giles says as he comes up to them. "She's been calling everyday for two weeks and begging me to force you back."
"Yeah, thanks for passing that on," Faith snaps. "Would've been nice to know after call number one."
Giles arches a brow and takes a sip of his drink. "Yes, well, I thought it was a good learning experience for everyone involved. I'm sure your charges will appreciate you more, especially Vi, and you'll understand better what they need from you."
"One last lesson to grow on? You know what you can do with that, right?"
"Oh, yes, I have a rather good idea."
Faith slugs him on the shoulder and the contents of his glass slosh over the rim. "Good."
Buffy takes Faith to the airport. The day just happens to coincide with one of their usual nights, and Faith thinks there's something like closure to this chapter of their story because of it.
They walk to customs and stand in line in an awkwardness that's not awkward any longer. When Faith's three people back from the front of the line, Buffy turns to her and says: Well, have a good trip. Call Giles when you land. He said Vi is supposed to meet you, but she sounded pretty harassed when he talked to her yesterday.
Faith sighs and says: Still can't believe he was keeping shit from me. That's just wrong, yo. But, yeah, I'll call Giles.
Some time passes and Faith's two people from the front now. Buffy says: Call me, too. Okay?
Okay, Faith says, frowning hard. Kinda surprised that you're asking, but, yeah. I can do that.
I'll call, too, Buffy tells Faith while staring at the head of the person in front of her. We'll call each other. What--do you think that would be okay?
Faith tells Buffy: I think it would be--new.
Buffy's brow wrinkles and she asks: A good new or a bad new?
Faith considers the question long enough that there's only one person on line in front of her. She finally takes a deep breath and answers: In a good way.
Then she's the next person in line, and Buffy nods and says: I think so, too.
In New York, Faith finds that chaos has erupted while she was gone, and when she calls Giles she has some choice words for him. When she mentions him transferring funds to cover the bail she had to post an hour after she landed, he goes very quiet and then admits that he possibly should have mentioned Vi's calls to Faith earlier in Faith's visit.
Faith is as gracious as she can be about accepting the apology, which isn't saying all that much. But, still, she tries and she figures Giles notices because he doesn't seem pissed at her when they hang up. And Faith isn't sure what her girls have learned from all of this, only what she herself has learned. Which is that she can't be self-indulgent anymore because her girls come first. She grumbles about that to Buffy on the phone six hours after she arrives back in New York, and Buffy tells her that she gets it, and Faith should call if it ever gets to be too much, because she's not alone.
The next time Faith sees Buffy, it's in Los Angeles. The call came in twelve hours ago, and both of them dropped what they were doing and caught the first available flight. Faith landed first, and she waited three hours for Buffy's plane to come in.
They follow the directions Giles gave Buffy and wind up in an alley that's all scorched and blown up. Faith's skin itches and her stomach turns, and she wonders which bit of ash floating in the air might belong to Angel.
They're both tense and frozen as they stand there, and Faith wonders if either of them know why they came at all. Not when there isn't a body. Or, bodies, in Buffy's case, since she also gave a damn about Spike.
Buffy says: I guess it's fitting that it happened in an alley.
Huh? Faith mutters.
Buffy explains: That's where he was turned. In an alley.
Faith nods slowly, says: Me too.
And that probably doesn't make any sense, but Buffy doesn't question it.
I could kill Giles, Faith says finally.
Buffy takes a breath, tells Faith: He made a judgment call. And his judgment when it comes to Angel and Spike? Not so good. I can't be mad at him for that because it doesn't change anything. We accept the flaws in the people we love.
Faith snorts and then says: Would've been nice to have some warning that this was coming. The only person in my life who ever gave a damn about me went to ashes and dust, and I get a phone call at five in the morning from Andrew about it. It's not right.
It didn't go all that well when Giles told me, Buffy admits. I think that's why he had Andrew call you. And, he wasn't, you know.
Faith rubs a hand across her face and shivers. Says: Yeah, I probably wouldn't have been very pleasant to Giles right about then. And who wasn't what?
Buffy whispers: ...Angel.
Her voice cracks in the middle, but she clears her throat and goes on: He wasn't the only one who gives a damn, Faith.
It's too late, and there's been too much to cope with, for Faith to try to write off Buffy's comment as a reference to Faith's Slayers, or to know what it really means.
So she asks Buffy: Who else gives a damn, then?
Buffy looks at her and smiles, a small but real smile that should be overshadowed by the grief in her eyes, but isn't.
Come on, Buffy says. I think we got what we came for.