Disclaimers: The excepts before chapters 1-3
are from the song Ordinary World, copyrights of Duran Duran, EMI record
company. No infringement is intended.
Special thanks to: MK for doing a little beta reading for me *grin* and for all the useful comments and feedbacks from other readers on the story.
Came in from the rainy Thursday
from the avenue
Thought I heard you talking softly
I turned on the lights, the TV and the radio
Still I can't escape the ghost of you
Switching off her mobile phone, Vicki made herself a dry martini and dropped onto her couch. It had been yet another hectic day at the office and the last thing she needed now was to be reminded of her work. Yet... Her work was the only thing that kept her mind off other things.
Her voice box was blinking, indicating waiting messages.
Five minutes. Just five minutes of peace and I'll get back to reality. She bargained.
She closed her eyes in the gray of her apartment. The place was neat, spacious, clean... what other nice things can you say about a place that looked unlive in? There was only water, a carton of milk and a box of frozen pizza in the refrigerator. The milk was days old but it would not be discarded till the next time the cleaning lady came.
A beeping sound filled up the space in the silent apartment like a drop of colored paint would in a basin of water. Vicki groaned.
My Goddamn beeper. I knew I forgot something.
Her green eyes opened to the room as she leaned over wearily to her shoulder bag and reached in to locate the little mechanical gadget. The number was familiar.
Tanya... her heart wenched. It was her ex-lover. What the hell does she want this time? Vicki wondered although an irrational part of her wished that Tanya would tell her that she had made a mistake leaving her and wanted her to take her back.
Would you? she asked herself.
Would I what?
Take her back! After all she's put you through, would you take her back?
Vicki sighed. Love. She thought that Tanya loved her as well. Maybe for her ex-lover, it was something she said and meant at that moment whereas for her...
"Victoria?" Tanya's voice answered the phone and Vicki's heart raced.
"Yes?" Vicki kept her emotions in check and tried to sound as professional as possible.
"Do you think you could look after Sub this weekend? I'll be going out of town and I can't get anyone to look after him on such short notice."
Vicki rolled her eyes and combed her hand through her short blonde hair. "Yeah, sure." she said, before wondering why she was always so accommodating.
Next thing I know, she'll be asking me to go over and pick Sub up and I'll agree to that as well.
"Great! Just go over anytime and get him. The spare key is where it's used to be. I gotta run, the plane's leaving in a while. Bye!"
Before Vicki could say anything, the line went dead. "Damn!" Vicki swore, hanging up the phone. She was such a sucker! Tanya had called her from the airport, knowing full well that she would agree to pick up after her.
Tanya and she had been seeing each other for more than a year, and lived together for about a year. Their relationship was great in the beginning. Everything was perfect, or so she thought. Gradually, things changed, just like the foliage in the woods as the seasons went by. Everyone else told her that she was doing all the work, giving in too much, always forgiving Tanya for all the crap that she gave her - forgetting their anniversary, never spending time with her, always going out and dumping Vicki alone at home... It was only when Vicki found out that Tanya was cheating on her with a guy when she decided that it was enough. She could only take that much.
It had been half a year since the day she walked out on Tanya, who at that time was not even home. Tanya had called several times, not to patch things up as she hoped, not even to offer an apology. She had said that she hoped they could remain friends but each time Vicki tried to do something 'friendly' with her, like go out for a coffee or something, Tanya would always be busy.
"Stupid, stupid, stupid!" Vicki shouted into the room. It was time to move on, but no matter how much she tried to build a wall against Tanya, it would always crumble at the mere sight of her.
She glanced at her watch.
Ten to nine. Picking up her keys, she exited the apartment and drove over to get Sub-zero, Tanya's pet dog.
"Dammit, move!" Vicki turned the key in the ignition again. Her darn car had refused to budge and she was stuck at the side lane of the highway. She could not believe her luck.
Getting out of the car, the strawberry blonde kicked at her Ford in disgust. "Great. I'm stuck on the highway with no cell phone and no money. What could possibly happen next to make it worse?" Before she could regret the words that left her mouth, the thunder rolled. She peered up at the dark night sky. "Ohhhh no. Please, no."
The pleading fell on deaf ears as the clouds broke and the rain came down in a rush. "Jesus!" Vicki reached for the door to her car and realized her keys were locked in. "This is a conspiracy!" she almost screamed.
Just then, an Explorer pulled up behind her car.
"Hey you need some help?" Vicki turned to see a figure approaching her with an umbrella. As the figure came closer to shelter the already dripping wet blonde with the umbrella, Vicki nodded.
"Actually yes. Um... My car won't move and I'm locked out. I'm penniless and I have no form of communication. So if you're a robber, there's nothing for you here and if you're a serial killer, this is one good candidate for your next kill." she reported wryly, sick of her luck.
The female cocked her head and gave Vicki a bemused smile. "Actually I'm a kidnapper so if you could cooperate and get your ass into my car without any hassle, I'd be very thankful."
Vicki's green eyes rounded and for the first time during the encounter with the stranger, she felt afraid.
"I'm kidding." The woman holding the umbrella grinned when she saw the fear in the blonde's eyes. "You know, joking? Telling an untruth with the intention of getting one to smile?"
Vicki gave her a sheepish smile. The woman was kind enough to stop and offer her assistance and here she was, suspecting that she was a kidnapper. Not to mention that she had started the 'joke' herself.
"This might be your favourite place to get a conversation going, but I'm getting cold. I'll give you a lift alright?" The woman offered and Vicki nodded.
In the Explorer and away from the sound of the rain, the stranger grabbed a box of Kleenex and passed it to Vicki.
"Thanks." Vicki took the box gratefully. "And thanks for stopping. I wouldn't know what to do otherwise." The woman smirked. "By the way, I'm Victoria. You can call me Vicki." She introduced herself.
"I'm Faith. You can call me... Faith." Faith reached out her hand and shook Vicki's extended one. Vicki felt herself relax.
"So where were you off to, Vicki?" Faith asked her companion as she started her car and pulled into the traffic.
For the first time, Vicki could study the nice stranger who pulled over to help her. She had short spiky dark hair and a devilish smile. Nice sense of humour as well. "I was going over to a friend's to pick up her dog." Vicki answered. Faith nodded.
"And where might that be? I wouldn't mind driving you around the town the whole night, but I don't think you'd like that." She added jokingly.
Is she flirting with me? Vicki thought with a start and gave her Tanya's address as Faith maneuvered the Explorer to the destination.
As she reached for the spare key under the potted plant outside Tanya's place, Vicki wondered if she would meet someone half as nice as Faith. On top of sending her to Tanya's place, she had offered to send her home. She did not think it was wise to trust a stranger that much but she could sense that Faith only wanted to help.
The dark-haired woman was definitely very attractive. They did not talk much during the drive there, but she had learnt that Faith was a student at the local university, doing an Archaeology major. She had snuck peeks at the good Samaritan and concluded that she was not purely Caucasian. Probably had Asian blood in her. The mixture of both turned out quite well. Faith was tanned and had hazel brown eyes. She was a few inches taller than Vicki herself, and her body looked rather toned under the thin layer of t-shirt and jeans.
God I can't believe I'm checking her out. Vicki rolled her eyes at herself as she let herself into the house. "Hey Sub." she smiled at the puppy that was jumping at her. "Ooh... I missed you too." She giggled as the black puppy licked her face.
Tanya's cousin had given her the dog a few months before they broke up and Vicki had adored him from the start, just as he adored Vicki.
"Come on, I'm taking you home with me tonight." She broke loose from him and reached for the bag that Tanya left beside the door. It contained a week's worth of dog food, his water dish, leash and a blanket.
A week's worth? Vicki fumed when she realized that Tanya might be gone longer than she said she would be. "To hell with you." She muttered under her breath. Closing the door behind her with the puppy and his bag in her hands, Vicki threw the spare key back into its hiding place and left.
"Thanks a lot for your help, I really appreciate it." Vicki said as the Explorer pulled up outside her apartment.
"No problem." Faith looked over to Vicki. "I had nothing to do anyway. The semester's just ended for the summer." Faith looked out of her window wryly. "Although the weather's really screwed up this year."
"Well, I'll... see you around then." Vicki said, a little awkwardly. How lame! See you around? Come on, you can do better than that.
"Sure." Faith grinned. She looked down at Sub who was half asleep in Vicki's lap.
Ahh... what a nice place to sleep. she thought to herself cheekily. Aw, stop.
"Goodnight." Vicki stepped out of the car and watched as it started to pull away.
"Wait!" She called out before she had time to change her mind. Faith stopped the vehicle and looked out of the window questioningly. "Um, I was wondering if you'd like to go for a drink someday. My treat. For all the help."
Faith nodded. "Sure, um... here." she scribbled something on a piece of paper before handing it to Vicki. "That's my number. Call me when you're free." Vicki nodded with a smile. "Bye then." Faith winked before she drove away into the night.
Vicki stood there, staring at the black vehicle till it blended in with the night, leaving only twin red lights in its wake. Then she turned and climbed the steps up to let herself into the lobby of the apartment, looking for Sam the security guard to let her into her place, all the time wondering if the last hour or so had been a dream.
What is happening to it all
Crazy some say
Where is the life that I recognize
But I won't cry for yesterday
There's an ordinary world
Somehow I will have to find
Faith yawned as she stepped out of the shower. Her house mates were either out or asleep already. Rifling through the mail to see if she had received anything, she noticed her name on the white board next to the phone.
"Faith. Vicki wants you to call her back at 9280-9999."
Scribbled below that was a note from one of her house mates, Rick, on how nice 'her friend' sounded. Faith's brow raised and she smirked at Rick's remark. It had been a week since she had picked that woman up from the road - Geez, can you make it sound any worse? - well, given Vicki a ride back, and since then she had thought about the blonde a couple of times. Nothing fancy, just about what happened and how attractive she found her. It was a passing thing, she knew. Soon, another interesting woman would take her mind off Vicki and the cycle never ends. Rick knew that well enough. He just seemed to have it in his head that his friend needed someone permanent in her life.
Chuckling to herself when she thought about her comical house mate, she picked up the phone and dialed the number on the whiteboard. On the fifth ring, Faith was about to hang up when a voice answered the phone.
"Hi." She said. "This is Faith."
"Good. And you? " A pause. "Um.. 'kay." She glanced at the clock. "I'll see you there in half an hour." Faith hung up the phone and blinked a couple of times. That was fast. She was due to meet the blonde at a bar when she thought she was going to finish her book that evening.
"Oh well, what's Dean Koontz when a good looking woman wants your company?" she muttered under her breath as she went up the stairs to her room to change.
The bar was surprisingly sparse for a Saturday night. Faith looked left and right for Vicki and scowled when she saw her ex-friend, Jamie. They had fallen out a couple of years ago and were not on speaking terms since then. Even though the falling out had ceased to be a bother for Faith, Jamie was not on her list of favourite people.
"Faith." She turned and saw Vicki grinning behind her. "Hi! I just got here. Glad you could make it on such short notice."
Faith swept her eyes down the blonde's body. She was attractive the first time they had met, dressed in her work-clothes. But this time, she looked even better, if that was possible, in a white tank top and slacks. "Hello." she smiled back.
"Um.." Vicki could feel Faith's appreciative gaze upon her and suddenly felt awkward. She wondered if she looked fat. "Let's go get a seat. A couple of my friends would be joining us, if you don't mind?" She asked, suddenly worried that her new friend would feel offended that she had not mentioned about more people joining them. She had told a few of her friends about the incident and they had all wanted to come along and check Faith out - to see if she was indeed a good Samaritan or just a wolf in sheep's clothing.
Faith shrugged. "Of course not. I might be dangerous." she mock glowered at her companion and laughed at the rounded eyed look Vicki gave her, one not so different from the one she got when she had told her she was a kidnapper. Vicki rolled her eyes and laughed along with Faith, sure that her friends would approve of her new friend.
The evening was going rather well, Vicki thought as she observed the way Faith charmed all her friends. Janice, a brunette, was working in the same magazine as she was in. Both she and Vicki had graduated in the same year. She had been working free lance while Janice settled for a journalist position for a magazine. After the break up with Tanya, she stopped free lancing and joined Janice's company. They had diversified and needed more people for their new magazine - Z4. They had been friends for a long time now. Cassandra and Sophie were friends she had met during one of those lesbian dinners that she had joined months ago when her relationship with Tanya detoriated. The friendships that developed since then have become a very important part of her life, especially after the break up. However, she had not gone out with them much the last few months as she sunk into depression. Until this very night. And it was because of Faith.
Not really. She helped me and I'm just repaying her with a drink that I promised her. I'm still 'in depression'. My fridge is still empty and my apartment is still very unlive in. she thought annoyingly to herself. Tanya had called her the evening before to ask for Sub back. She did not even bother to apologize for omitting the fact that she was going to be away for a week rather than just the weekend. Vicki had made her go over to her place and pick the puppy up, turning down a dinner offer from Tanya and had felt so much better about herself after that.
Faith got up from the table and went over to the bar for more drinks. The last person she wanted to meet at the bar was Jamie, but as fate would have it, the small framed redhead was standing there with her 'hounds' as Faith called them.
"Well look who's here." The sarcastic tone of Jamie's voice drifted over and Faith clenched her jaw. "My bestest friend in the whole wide world."
Faith rolled her eyes at that. Jamie's 'hounds' tittered. "Yup, this is Faith Spears, the woman who fucked around with my girl." At that, Faith turned towards the group of five women, her eyes cold.
"Get over it, will you? She came willingly. Figuratively and literally speaking." It took Jamie and her 'hounds' a few seconds before they understood the pun and the red head almost threw a punch Faith's way.
Faith paid for her drinks. "If that was such a sin, why the hell are you still with her now?" she asked coldly, not waiting for an answer. Picking up the beverage, Faith made her way back to the table. Vicki's questioning eyes met hers, and she managed a tight smile and small shrug for her.
"It was nice meeting you, Faith." Janice smiled as Cassandra and Sophie nodded as well.
"The feeling's mutual." Faith replied, returning their hugs.
Vicki said her goodbyes to her friends who came in Janice's car and then walked over to Faith.
"Thanks for the drink." Faith said.
"I had a great time." Vicki smiled.
"Yeah, me too. Your friends are nice." They started walking to their cars.
"I see you got your wheels fixed." Faith observed. "What was wrong with it anyway?"
"Battery died. So, you were saying earlier on that you were going on a dig?"
Faith grinned, scratching her neck. "Yeah." She said with a pleased smile. "Next month I'll be flying to Rome. It's going to be for a month only..." she trailed off, wondering if she was ever going to see Vicki again.
What for? Nothing's gonna happen anyway, you're lousy at this kind of thing. Moreover, you know that she's still getting over someone. Cassandra had mentioned Vicki's ex-lover's name unwittingly and had quickly shut up. The topic changed rapidly but not before Faith saw the pain in Vicki's eyes. Nope, she did not want any extra baggage. She preferred things to be simple.
"Well, why don't you give me a call when you get back and we could catch up or something?" Vicki asked. She really enjoyed Faith's company and would not mind a new friend. Somehow, she felt that there was more to the charming facade that Faith had and she was gamed on finding out more about her. She had caught the exchange between Faith and the redhead back in the bar and had shivered when she saw the cold anger in Faith's eyes during it.
Faith hesitated for a while. "Okay. I will." She smiled. They said their goodbyes and each drove back to their homes with the same things on their minds: Till the next time.
And as I try to make my way
To the ordinary world
I will learn to survive
Vicki peered at the photos hanging on the line in the developing room. The pictures turned out great. She was a professional photographer for a magazine and this time round she had gotten to meet Cindy Crawford. She was not that great looking in real life, Vicki thought, but then again, tastes differ. Vicki knew that once the magazines hit the market, many young men would buy them just so that they could plant kisses on their idol or something.
Tanya had called once after she picked Sub up, and they had chatted for a while, talking about mundane stuff. She had forgiven her ex-lover yet again, for taking her for granted. Deep inside, she had come to terms that they were never going to be together again. The woman that she had known and loved was still the same. It was she that had changed. She had wanted something more that what Tanya could offer her. Something that would last for a lifetime, and it was something Tanya could not give her.
Stretching, Vicki started packing up for the day. She had kick boxing class that day and she dreaded but welcomed it at the same time. Once she dragged herself there, Vicki was sure that she would enjoy the work out.
Lose weight. Tone up. Look good. Kiss my ass, Tanya. She giggled at the last remark. Tanya was the invisible force that motivated her to do things nowadays. Whenever she needed a push, she just had to think Tanya. Not that she still harboured the hope of getting back with her.
Soon she was in her workout clothes and ready to go. Stepping out of the changing room, she attracted a good many stares which she nonchalantly disregarded. She did not think it appealing to be picked up by sweaty, stinky men who thought that their muscles and tight butts were attractive.
Halfway through the class, Vicki glanced at the transparent screen that separated the class from the gym and spied a familiar form. She could not be sure. Blinking a few times and finally swiping at the perspiration that was clouding her vision, Vicki took a closer look and was pleasantly surprised when the figure smiled at her in recognition. It was Faith, Vicki realised.
She came back and she didn't even call me. was the first thing that popped into Vicki's mind. Oh well. Maybe she lost your number already. At least she still remembers you. she consoled her bruised ego.
"Hello stranger." Faith walked over to Vicki after the kick boxing class ended. Vicki smiled.
"Hi! When did you come back?" she did not want to seem bothered by the fact that she did not call.
"Just a few days ago." Faith said ruefully. Vicki could see that the Undergraduate was more tanned than she had remembered. "I called you the other day." Faith admitted.
Vicki's stomach did a double flip at that. "Really? When?" she asked casually.
"Can't really remember? A week ago, I think. I uh, just wanted to say hi. Nothing significant." Faith replied, equally casually. "So, you a regular here?" she asked.
Vicki nodded. "You could say that. I'm a member here, but regular or not really depends." And now that I know I might catch you here, I might just come more regularly.
"My friend dragged me here." Faith confessed. "He wanted me to check out this girl whom he's been eyeing for weeks."
Vicki laughed. "Really? Which one is she?" Faith raised her brow and kept quiet.
Vicki waited for Faith to point out the girl to her when her eyes rounded in disbelief. "Me?" she was incredulous. At Faith's nod, she wanted to double over and start laughing. Instead, she started blushing at the possibility that some guy might be staring at her right then.
"You look really cute when you blush." Faith laughed. "Like a cherry... no, no... more like a thermostat with its mercury rising up. It sorta consumes your entire face and tints your ears a little." Faith observed, rather enjoying Vicki's discomfort.
"Stop that!" Vicki started snickering. "You're making it worse!"
Faith stuck her hands in her pockets and stood there with her head slightly cocked to a side. "Well, you could just imagine his ecstacy when I informed him that you're an acquaintance of mine." She continued. "Therefore, I was coerced, forced and intimidated in every way possible to come over and ask you out for dinner. Or a drink."
Vicki's heart fell. Was that the reason why she even came over? Then she mentally chastised herself. Why should there be any other reason for her to come over? She was not looking for a relationship. After Tanya, she needed some time and space to herself. Being single was good. It gave her time to do things that she liked, and not just things to please another.
"How about it?" Faith asked, studying the blonde's face and trying to figure out what went through her head.
"Sure. I've got nothing planned anyway." Vicki smiled. "But your friend should know this... I'm not interested in men." Faith's brow raised slightly and she chuckled.
"I know. Why do you think I walked over?" Vicki stared disbelievingly at Faith, not knowing what to make of that statement.
Rick glanced at the two women beside him. To say that he was slightly disappointed upon finding out that Vicki was a lesbian was an understatement. He thought that by then he would have had too many lesbian friends to be able to differentiate them from the straight ones.
Oh well. All the good ones are gay. Damn, check out that body. And that smile. He sighed inwardly.
Faith eyed her friend. "Earth to Rick." She called.
"Yes, yes. Can't a guy have some space to think?" He asked, knowing fully well that he had delivered an opening for his friend once the words left his lips.
"Gee." Faith smirked. "Getting in touch with your feminine side, eh?" Rick groaned but chuckled along with Vicki anyway.
"What do you do, Rick?" Vicki asked the lanky fellow. She took a liking to him at once.
"I'm in the last year of Architecture." He said with pride. "I took some time off Uni so I have to do this semester again." Vicki nodded as she did a mental calculation. Rick should be about 25. She wondered how old Faith was.
"What about you?" He asked in return. Their drinks arrived and he reached out eagerly for his iced chocolate.
"Mm... this smoothie is incredible." Vicki closed her eyes to savor the taste of her drink, oblivious to the admiring stares of two people beside her.
"Well," Vicki replied, "I'm a photographer with Z4 - the new magazine. Um... prior to that I was doing free lance. I decided to have a more stable working environment recently so I enlisted with the rest of the adults and opted for a steady income job."
Rick nodded. "Well that leaves you, Faith. We've done our 'Name, occupation' thingie. What about you?"
"Uh..." she looked at Vicki and Rick who were both staring expectantly at her. "I don't have to introduce myself. You both know what I'm doing."
"Fine. Let's do the 'zodiac sign, birthday' thing then." Rick surmised. Faith rolled her eyes.
"Aw, why can't we just talk about other stuff?" she whined. "Right, Vick?" she looked for support in the blonde.
"Actually I do wanna know your sign and birthday." she glanced quickly at Rick. "I mean, both your signs and birthdays." Rick bit back a chuckle. It was pretty evident that the two women were interested in each other.
"I'll start first. I'm a Cancer. July 19th." Vicki stated.
"Well, my sign's Scorpio. Birthday's on November 5th." Rick reported. Faith sighed. She hated these star signs, judging of the characters kind of talk. It was imminent that they would start discussing about how one sign goes with another and how it was a no-no for this to pair with that.
"Pisces. February 21st." She said rather quickly.
Vicki stared at her. "Why, that's... that's today!" She exclaimed.
"And just why were you keeping quiet about it?" Rick demanded. "If we didn't do this introduction thingie, we wouldn't have known! And how old are you now, huh?"
Faith groaned. She knew this was going to happen. She hated her birthday. Bad things always happened to her on her birthday. On her past few birthdays, she had gotten robbed, gotten dumped, and the last one witnessed a big fight between her parents and her.
"Twenty one." She said with a note of resignation in her voice. Vicki's eyes twinkled. She had got the information she wanted.
That's three years younger than me. She realised. Sure doesn't feel like it.
"We have to celebrate. The twenty first birthday is the most special one of all!" Rick said, grinning from ear to ear. "I'll go order a cake." he announced and proceeded to do just that.
"Happy Birthday." Vicki leaned over to hug Faith. She planted a kiss before she pulled away from her, eliciting a slight smirk from the birthday girl.
"Thanks." She murmured sheepishly.
"Do you like Cindy Crawford?" Vicki asked suddenly. Faith looked at her dubiously.
"Huh? No. Why? I mean, I don't dislike her or anything, just don't particularly find her alluring."
"Nothing. I just did a photo shoot of her, so I thought if you liked her I could give you her picture. With an autograph, of course." she added.
Faith chuckled. "What about a picture of you instead?" She asked. "With an autograph, of course." She echoed what the blonde just said.
She is flirting with me. Vicki thought, slightly pleased. "Why would you want something like that?" She asked innocently. It had been too long since someone 'sweet talked' her. Although Faith's fast wit and dry humour could hardly qualify for being that.
"What did you ask me prior to offering me Cindy Crawford's picture?" Faith answered with a question. Vicki rewound their conversation and paused, a smile lighting up her face.
"Oh." She said simply. What I asked was if she liked Cindy Crawford. She said no, so no photograph. But she wants mine. Therefore... she likes me. Not knowing why she was so pleased about it, but feeling pleased anyway, Vicki tried to stop the flush from creeping up her face.
The lights went off suddenly and someone started singing "Happy Birthday". Faith groaned in the semi-darkness and Vicki chuckled, at the same time relieved that the darkness had hid her blush from the birthday girl.
Faith yawned. The continual ringing of the phone had woken her up. She had laid there, in her bed, waiting for it to stop so that she might return to sleep, but when the beep of the machine came on, she heard a familiar voice speaking and she rushed down the stairs to pick up the phone.
"Hello?" she panted slightly, hoping that the other party had not hung up yet.
"H-Hi." The voice sounded surprised, being cut off in the middle of leaving a message. "I thought no one was home." she said.
"I was sleeping." Faith replied.
"Oh. Um... my plane landed last night. I just wondered if you're free to meet up." The female voice on the other end said a little uncertainly.
"How about lunch? That is, if you don't wanna go back to bed."
"Lunch is fine. I'll see you then." Faith smiled into the receiver. They made plans to meet and then Faith hung up the phone. She trotted into the bathroom, her plan to sleep the whole day away thrown aside.
"Catherine." The blonde turned around and smiled, lighting up her light brown eyes.
"Faith!" She laughed, hugging the dark haired woman. "It's been a while." She said, after they pulled apart.
"Yeah." Faith smiled at her step sister. "How are things?" she asked as they walked into the bistro by Oxford Street.
"They're okay. Let's get some food. I'm starving." Catherine commented as they took their seats. "What's good here?" she asked, her eyes scanning the menu.
Faith snickered, knowing her sister's healthy appetite. "For you? Just about anything. You've got legs so hollow you could hold enough food for a third world country!" She exaggerated and was treated to a killer glare from her sister.
"Yeah, yeah, laugh away. You're just jealous that I have the space for all the good food and you don't." Catherine made her choice and stuck her tongue out at her sister. After they placed their orders, Catherine placed a large bag in front of Faith.
"What's this?" Faith asked, peering into the bag.
"A present. Happy belated birthday, sweetie." Faith beamed. She did not expect anyone to remember her birthday, much less her family. But she was wrong to think that Catherine would forget. She was, after all, the closest family she had even though she was from her father's last marriage.
"Thanks." She said, shyly. "Can I open it?" It had been such a long time since anyone gave her a present.
Catherine laughed and nodded. Faith was younger than her by only three years. Her mother had passed away during labour and her father had met Faith's mother a year later. They had always been close, both sharing the same interests.
Faith's eyes shone when she unwrapped her gift. "Nice..." she said, admiring the unfinished toy in her hand. She searched the box to find what she knew was going to be in there. A whole paint set to add the colours to the mythological griffin in her hand.
"I'm glad you like it." Catherine smiled. "So, how did you spend your birthday?" she asked just when the waiter brought their lunch.
"Nothing much... had an impromptu celebration with two friends." Faith smiled at the memory.
"Ah." Catherine smiled knowingly. "Was one of them a special friend?" She had known of her step sister's sexual preference all along. Thus, when Faith's cover was blown a few years ago, she had been the only one who was supportive.
"Why do you ask?" Faith gave her sister a withering look and put the present away. "To answer your question, no, there isn't anyone special in my life right now. How's your wedding preparation coming along?" She changed the subject.
Catherine swallowed the food in her mouth before replying. "Ooh. Good. I really want you to be my bridesmaid, Faith." Her heart fell when she saw Faith's face blacken.
"You know that I would love to be your bridesmaid... but mom and dad would not want to see me there." Suddenly, the bagel that she had been buttering no longer looked appetizing. She placed it back on the plate before her.
"Faith, you have to give them a chance to accept things. Not just run away like you did. You've had your entire adolescence to come to terms with your sexuality whereas for them, the news came suddenly. You can't expect them to accept it straightaway. It didn't help much that you weren't the one who broke the news to them, you know."
Faith sighed and rubbed her temple as she thought about her painful past. One that she never wanted to go through again. "Yeah, I know. But..."
Before Faith could finish her sentence, she felt a presence by their table. "Hey!" She looked up and saw a pair of smiling green eyes.
"Vicki!" she smiled.
"This bumping into each other thing is getting really suspicious." Vicki joked. "Are you sure you haven't been tapping into my phone line?" Faith snickered.
"Um, Vicki, this is Catherine. Catherine, Vicki." She made the introduction. Vicki turned to shake Catherine's hand and they hesitated for a while.
"Victoria MacAllister?" Catherine asked, her eyes rounding in recognition.
"Catherine Spears! Oh my God!" Vicki exclaimed. Catherine stood up and hugged her old classmate. Faith looked around uncomfortably. They were attracting a few looks.
They know each other? Gee. What a small world. Faith mused.
She observed the two blondes as they gushed about how coincidental it was to be meeting in Sydney and how long since they've last seen each other.
"Um, ladies? Shall we move to a larger table?" Faith interrupted the women suddenly.
Vicki and Catherine looked at her in surprise. She rolled her eyes. "Do you want to join us?" Catherine turned to her friend.
Vicki looked hesitant for a second. "I'd love to. Just let me tell my friends that I won't be joining them." She smiled at Faith before walking away.
"Wow. How did you know her?" Catherine asked as Faith and she moved their food to another table. "I haven't seen her for ages!"
"Uh... Fate." Faith said, not wanting to say the whole long story. Her sister looked at her oddly and she shrugged. "What?"
Vicki returned to their table and they all sat down, with Vicki between the two step-sisters. "So! Are you staying in Sydney as well?" Vicki asked.
Catherine shook her head. "No. I'm just here for a visit. Especially to see Faith." Faith sunk lower in her chair as both women turned to look at her. She gave a tiny wave.
Vicki frowned. Are they lovers? she wondered. Then the names clicked. "Oh my! You're that Faith Spears?" she exclaimed. Faith's brow rose.
"What do you mean 'that Faith Spears'?" she asked, bemused.
"Your sister has talked about you." Vicki said, her mind racing, thinking back to what Catherine had told her about her younger sister. Rebellious, quick tempered, fun, gay...
Faith looked at her sister who was eyeing the exchange between her old friend and her sister with a knowing smirk. "Now, big sister, what have you been telling people about me, huh?" Her look held a question which her sister answered with a small shake of head. Faith breathed more easily at that. Her secret was safe.
"That's for me to know and you to find out." Catherine said blithely. Vicki and her had only known each other after Faith had moved to Sydney to study. They had gotten along very well even though they had only known each other for a year. Then Vicki got a job offer in Sydney and they had lost touch after the first few phone calls, each busy with their own lives.
"This is such a small world." Vicki commented. "Who would have thought... So, when are you going back?" the strawberry blonde returned her attention to her friend.
"Sunday. Have to get back to work on Monday." Catherine said. "I'm getting married next month, though. I would love for you to come." she said, warmly.
"I'd love to!" Vicki grinned. "Let me know when and I'll try and take some time off." The topic got off Faith and went on to other things. Faith kept quiet, joining the conversation only when her opinion was asked. She could not help but think about a short period of time in her life where everything she had ever believed about herself was questioned. It was something about her that not many people knew, and she hoped no one else ever found out about it. It was not something that she was proud of.
The scene was achingly familiar. First it was George, now it was Nana. A blurry eyed teen stood before the coffin and cried till no more tears came.
George was her best friend ever since he came to her defense when she was merely six years old. A few older kids were teasing Faith, saying that she was a weirdo just because she was neither Caucasian nor Asian. George was eight then, but he had stood before Faith, daring the other children to try anything. They did, and both George and Faith went home with bleeding noses and bruised eyes and a very strong sense of loyalty for each other.
George was killed when he was only eighteen. He was on his way home from Faith's when a drunk driver knocked him over and fled, leaving him to bleed to death. It was not till a few hours later that someone found him dead. Faith was devastated to say the least. She had never fully dealt with her best friend's death.
Faith hung her head as she stepped forward, her hand reaching out to touch her Nana for the last time. After George's death, she had taken up drinking and smoking, fraternizing with the very people whom George and she despised. No amount of scoldings and beatings would snap her out of it. Her grandmother had tried time and again to talk sense into her, but she had not taken any heed of the old woman's words. She was taken into police custody for her drug problem the day her grandmother had passed away. The shock of it had pulled Faith back from a bleak future, but it was all too late.
"Hey, you okay?" Catherine's concerned voice interrupted Faith's dark musings.
"Huh, oh... yeah. I'm fine." Faith blinked her unshed tears away and forced a tight smile on her face. "Look, I just remembered that I've got some stuff to finish up, so I gotta go." She said. Her glance flickered to Vicki. "You guys should catch up. I... I'll give you a call, Cat." She squeezed her sister's arm and got up hurriedly from the table, her food untouched.
"I'll see you around, Vicki." She said shortly before exiting the bistro.
Vicki looked at her old friend who was staring at the closed door of the bistro with concern. She felt as if she had stuck her foot into something she should not have. "Um..." she started tentatively. Catherine turned back to face her. "Did I say something wrong?" she asked.
Catherine sighed, not knowing what to say. "No." She said finally. "Faith... she has her mood swings."
Vicki nodded. Nowadays, mood swings answer for everything. She thought, wryly. But she let it pass anyhow. "What's that?" she asked, pointing to the package on the empty seat beside the seat Faith occupied earlier on.
Catherine rolled her eyes. "Faith's present. I got it for her birthday. Silly girl forgot to take it."
"Maybe she's still outside. I'll go see if I can catch her." Vicki offered. Catherine nodded and Vicki picked up the bag, jogging out of the bistro.
Maybe Vicki's the answer. Catherine thought, sipping her red wine. If only you can forgive yourself, sis... And spare yourself the pain and guilt of Nana's death. She only hoped that Faith's meeting with Vicki was not just a coincidence but a release.
Vicki jogged down the row of cars lined up outside the bistro, hoping against hope that Faith had not left yet. She did not know why she offered to take the package out. It's probably a very lame excuse to talk to her before God knows when I see her next.
She finally caught sight of a black Explorer at the corner of the street and went towards it. Her head poked into the open passenger seat window. "Hey." She said cheerily before realizing that Faith's head was leaning against the steering wheel, with tears streaming down her face.
Faith looked up in surprise and brushed her tears away, angered and embarrassed that someone had caught her crying.
"I'm sorry." Vicki said, her smile fading away. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah. I'm fine." Faith said shortly, her voice a little husky from crying. She looked away.
Vicki wanted to kick herself for the second time that day. She should not have come running after Faith. "Um, you forgot your package." Faith looked at her in confusion before recognizing the bag in Vicki's hand.
"Oh. Thanks." She said, a little piqued at herself for losing control. Vicki was just trying to be nice, and here she was, behaving like a martyr. "Uh... you wanna get in? It's hard to talk like this." she offered.
Vicki hesitated for a while and opened the vehicle's door.
"Here." she passed the package to Faith. The Undergraduate gave her a grin that made her wonder if she had been imagining her crying previously.
"Thanks. Where's Catherine?" she asked, taking the bag from Vicki.
"She's still inside."
"Look, um... I'd really appreciate it if you didn't tell her what you saw just now." Faith stuttered, uncomfortable with the woman who had just seen her vulnerable side.
Vicki raised her brow. "I didn't see anything." she said. That got an even bigger smile from Faith.
"Cool. Thanks." she said shyly.
"Not a problem. I'd better get back in before she thinks I left with you or something."
Faith nodded. There was something about this photographer that made her want to trust her and bare her soul to her. That scared her. She opened her mouth to ask her if she wanted to meet up again but shut it. It was too dangerous. She watched as Vicki made her way out of the vehicle.
Then, as if on second thoughts, Vicki slid back into the car again and leaned in to Faith. Her green eyes searched Faith's hazel ones, almost as if looking for an answer to a nameless question. Up close, Faith could see the golden specks in Vicki's green orbs and she held her breath unconsciously. To her surprise, Vicki brushed her lips ever so softly against hers and then pulled away abruptly.
"Bye." she said quickly and got out.
Faith stared at the empty space before her and touched her fingers to her lips. It was not as if she had never been kissed before, but the strawberry blonde's kiss felt different.
She shook her head and started the ignition before pulling away from the bistro, her sister, and the woman who crept an inch nearer to her heart.
Vicki kicked off her shoes from the couch, her eyes closed. Her phone rang. Reaching over, she grabbed at her cordless phone and pressed the 'talk' button. "Hello?"
She cringed. "Hello Tanya."
The voice on the other end chuckled. "Hello. How are you?"
Tired and frustrated. What the fuck do you want? she thought.
"Huh? I... uh..." the voice sounded a little uncertain and Vicki realized that she had spoken out loud. She wanted to laugh. "Are you in a bad mood? I'll call you back later then." Tanya said, a little stiffly.
Vicki sighed. "What is it that you want, Tanya?" She had not thought about her ex-lover for quite some time now, and it was a surprise to be reminded of her existence. Funny how people always do certain things to the extreme.
"Just wanted to talk, that's all."
"Fine. So talk." Vicki said, picking up her work bag and rummaging through it. She wondered what Faith was doing then and then quickly brushed that thought away. She must be crazy to think that Faith would be interested in her... and vice versa.
That doesn't explain for the kiss, then. Vicki sighed mentally. Why did I kiss her? she wondered. Faith did not call after that and it made her feel... cheap? It's not as if you slept with her. She rolled her eyes.
"... do you think she likes me?" Tanya whined. Vicki realized that she had missed a whole chunk of the conversation.
"Uh... I'm sure she does. Why don't you call her?" Vicki improvised, the statement hitting her as well. Why don't I?
"But what if she doesn't wanna talk to me or thinks that I'm coming on too strong?"
"That's the chance you have to take." Vicki blinked a few times. "Look, I'd really love to chat but I gotta go. There's a phone call I wanna make. Good luck!" she said cheerily and hung up, ignoring Tanya's confusion.
She stared at the receiver in her hand and took a deep breath. "Okay. It's just a call, right? Nothing much. Hi! Wanna go catch a movie?" she rehearsed.
"No, too lame. Um... "Hi! I'm bored. Wanna go for a drink?" She tried again. "Nope. Too fake. Uhh..." Just then the phone rang in her hands and she jumped.
"Hello?" she said a little harshly into the receiver, thinking that it was Tanya calling her back.
"Uh... Hi. Vicki? This is Faith."
A silly grin formed on the photographer's face. "Hi! What's up?" she asked, grateful that she had waited.
"I'd like to see you. Would you be free to catch a movie with me?" Faith asked.
Vicki's mind shouted 'Yes!'. "Sure. When?" she asked, all the while thinking, She'd like to see me.
"Tomorrow night?" Faith asked. "I could get the tickets after class."
"Tomorrow night sounds great." Vicki replied. Then she remembered that she had to do a photo shoot for a fashion show and her face fell. "I just remembered that I can't. I've got to do a photo shoot tomorrow evening. I don't know what time it will wrap up."
"Oh. That's fine then." Faith said, the slightly disappointed tone not escaping Vicki's ears. "What's it on?" she asked. "That is, if it's not top secret kind of information." she joked.
Vicki grinned into the phone. "Nothing of that sort. It's a fashion show held at the Hilton Hotel." The free pass fell out of her bag and she fingered it idly. "Hey." she said suddenly. "It says here that I can bring someone along. You wanna come?" Vicki held her breath.
"Um... 'kay. What time?"
"Eight. You could come to my place and we'll go in my car. No reason to pay double for parking." Vicki said. "Formal."
"Alright. See you at... seven thirty?" Faith asked.
"That'd be great. I'll see you then. Goodnight." Vicki was all smiles when she hung up the phone. She glanced at her watch and replaced the phone on the stand. Standing up, she went to take a shower before preparing for bed.
"Formal. Damn. Why did I say yes? What the hell am I gonna wear?" Faith grumbled as she rummaged through her cupboard. She pulled at a shirt in disgust and threw the hanger behind her.
"Hey! What are you doing?" Rick asked, peering into his house mate's room. He had heard the string of mutters and things being thrown around.
"Oh. It's you." Faith looked at him and then went back to what she was doing.
"Yes, it's me. So?" he asked, tiptoeing past the clothes strewn across the floor.
"So what?" Faith asked irritably.
"What's this about?" Rick explained patiently, finally reaching the bed. He gather some of the things, made a small space for himself to sit in and stared at the butt that was sticking out of the cupboard.
"Looking for something formal to wear. I'm going for this fashion show at the Hilton tomorrow night and I don't have anything formal to wear." she gritted, holding a blue shirt to her body and looking in the mirror. "Dawdy looking." she said, throwing the shirt aside.
Rick rolled his eyes. "Since when are you into fashion shows?" he asked, catching sight of a photo frame by her bed stand and picked it up. Not waiting for his house mate's answer, he posed another question. "Did anyone tell you that you look really good with long hair?" he asked.
Faith turned around absently. "No. You wanna be the first?" she smiled.
"Hell yeah. You should keep your hair long - not that you don't look nice now. Just different." Rick said, admiring the picture of Faith and a guy laughing at him. She looked much younger there. He looked up and sighed. "Faith, what specifically are you looking for?"
"I dunno. A nice shirt and blazer or something? Gee, all I have here are sweaters, berms and t-shirts."
"I've got some. Come on." Rick said, getting up from the bed.
"Really? Cool." Faith grinned as she followed him from the room. She threw a sad smile in the direction of the photo frame and closed the door behind her.
Vicki stood up and straightened her blue satin dress nervously. She was ready at five past seven and was waiting for Faith to come. Her camera sat snugly in its case on the coffee table in front of her as she paced about her apartment, looking for something to do. Finally she sat back down and turned on the television, barely listening as the newscaster reported the day's happenings.
A soft knock sounded on her apartment door and she jumped up. Glancing at her watch, she saw that it was seven twenty. She opened the door and her smile froze.
Wow. Was the only thing that came to mind. Faith was in a light blue shirt and black blazer and feminine pants. Her hair was gelled up as usual, and she was wearing her sunnies.
"Hi." Faith said. "You look nice."
Vicki smiled shyly. "You wanna come in?" she asked. "I'll just go grab my stuff and we can go."
Faith stepped into the strawberry blonde's apartment and looked around.
"How did you get in?" Vicki asked, walking towards the couch for her jacket. Only residents who had keys could get into the lobby. She was expecting Faith to ring up instead of showing up at her doorstep.
"Someone was coming in and let me in as well." Faith said, fingering the leave of a plant that stood by the blonde's doorway. "Why, did you think I picked the lock of the lobby door?" She smirked.
Vicki rolled her eyes from where she was retrieving her jacket. "Haha. Did anyone ever tell you what a smart mouth you have?" Vicki returned with her jacket and her gear, not expecting any answer from Faith who was treating her to a smug look.
"Shall we?" she asked. Faith nodded as she reached for the door. "I'll give you a tour another time. We don't want to be late."
Faith drank the white wine from the glass she was holding as she watched Vicki working. The blonde was in front of the catwalk, taking multiple snapshots of the models who were twirling around in all their glory. Janice, Vicki's friend was there as well. She looked a little surprised at seeing Faith with her friend but was friendly nevertheless.
The brunette looked up at her friend's date after scribbling something down on her writing pad. "Are you bored?" she asked. Faith shook her head with a smile.
"She really enjoys what she does, doesn't she?" Faith asked, indicating the busy Vicki who, at that moment, turned around and flashed her two friends a smile.
Janice looked at Vicki and smiled. "Yes she does. She has always loved photography, even when we were schooling. For me, I love writing. I never really thought I'd be working for a fashion magazine, though. I had always wanted to be a novelist. But the opportunity was too good to be missed. I'm writing a book on the side as well, with my free time."
Faith looked interested. "Really? What kind of?"
"Oh, a little romance and action. One of those books." she said vaguely. "It's science fiction."
Faith placed the empty glass in her hand back on the table. "Really? Wow. Don't forget to send me an autographed copy in the future."
Janice blushed slightly. "Yeah right. As if I'd ever get published."
Faith's brow rose. "Why not? Have more faith." Her lips curled into a smile. "If you don't have enough, I could spare you some."
"Spare her some what?" Vicki asked, taking a seat beside Faith and across her friend. She had just finished another roll of her film and was ready to call it a day. The show was wrapping up anyway.
"Faith." Janice said. Vicki looked confused. "Never mind. I'll tell you about it later if you still wanna know." The journalist smiled. Vicki continued packing her gear and gave her friend an absent smile.
"Okie. Whew. Remind me again why I'm in this line?" she asked, bringing her unfinished drink to her lips.
Janice rolled her eyes. "You say that every time. You know why. You're in love with your job."
"Oh yeah. That." Vicki said. "So, where are you going after this?" she asked Janice.
"Home, maybe." the brunette answered with a yawn. "I've been up for more than 24 hours."
"Janice, you should take care of yourself." Vicki reprimanded as Faith watched on in amusement. Vicki was like a mother hen. "I know, you're gonna tell me that you were on a roll with your story but that and your work is going to make you sick one day. Contrary to what you think, you're not wonder woman."
Janice sighed. "Yes mommy." She could never out talk her friend. "By the way, look who's talking. After Tanya, who's been working her ass off everyday?" she asked without thinking. Her friend stiffened.
And then relaxed. "Yeah well. She wasn't worth it. I know that now."
Janice smiled. Big change. She thought. Wonder what's the cause? Or rather... who's the cause? Her gaze traveled to meet Faith's.
"What?" Faith asked when both women looked at her simultaneously.
"Nothing." They said in unison and then chuckled.
Uh huh. Faith thought, amused.
"The show wasn't too bad." Faith commented to her companion as they made their way to the blonde's car.
"It was okay. Would you believe me if I told you that I wasn't really paying much attention? I just take my pictures and that's it. By the way, where do you live?"
"That's pretty near me." Vicki commented whilst pulling out of the parking lot. "Stupid parking costs $13 here." she said. "Good thing I can claim it. It's expensive to own a car nowadays."
Faith strapped on the seat belt. "Yeah. Then again, it's better than taking a cab. Especially during peak hours."
Vicki's eyes rounded. "You got that right. My God, the meter jumps faster than my heart beats!" Faith chuckled.
The ride back to Vicki's place was filled with small chats and laughter as the two women got to know each other better.
"You wanna come up for coffee?" Vicki asked, not wanting Faith to depart yet. Faith searched in her pocket for something and her hand came out with a jingle of keys. She looked at something and then nodded. "'Kay. But only for a while."
"What's that you were looking at?" Vicki asked as they walked towards the elevator.
"Huh? Oh. That." Faith took out her keys again and handed it to Vicki. It was a silver 'Hello Kitty' key ring that told the time on one side.
"Cute." she said as she returned it with a smile. "Where did you get it?"
"It was a gift." Faith said shortly. Vicki did not ask further.
"From my grandmother." Faith continued after a while. She did not know why she offered the information freely.
"You must be very close to her." Vicki said softly as the elevator brought them up to her apartment.
"Yeah. I was. She's dead now." Faith hung her head slightly.
"Sorry to hear that. You must miss her a lot." she reached out her hand to squeeze Faith's arm.
"I do." Faith said. "When you saw me crying that day... it was because of her."
Vicki's chest expanded when she realized that Faith was actually opening up to her. The door opened and they stepped out of the elevator. Vicki found herself very much wanting to hug the woman beside her, in an attempt to take a little of her pain away. "How did she...?" her sentence trailed off with her wondering if she was prying too much.
"I don't really wanna talk about that." Faith said. She had said too much. Vicki instantly regretted her question.
"Sorry." she offered.
"It's okay. I... it's just too painful for me. Maybe in the future..." Faith said with a small smile. Vicki brightened at that.
"Anytime. I'll be here to listen if you have to talk." she said. "So. Do you have classes tomorrow?" She changed the subject.
"Um, it's Saturday tomorrow." Faith informed her and Vicki slapped her forehead.
"Oh right. I forgot." she said, sheepishly. "Make yourself at home. I'll go brew some coffee."
"Do you want milk with yours?" she called out from the kitchen.
"No thanks. I'll have it black." Faith replied as she walked over to the photographer's shelf.
The steel mantelpiece held a few photo frames. One was a picture of Vicki and her family, she assumed. She had her mother's green eyes and her father's blonde hair. Beside the younger Vicki stood a sullen looking boy with dark hair and piercing eyes. The next photo showed Vicki with a couple of friends at a party. She counted the candles on the cake. It was Vicki's twentieth birthday. The sullen boy from the first photo was there as well, all grown up. This time, a half smirk grazed his face, making his handsome face look cruel rather than happy. The other frames held pictures of Sub-zero, the dog that Vicki had gone over to fetch the first time they met.
"Coffee's ready." Faith turned and approached her hostess who was balancing a tray with a coffee pot, two mugs, a small pot of what Faith assumed was sugar and two spoons.
"Thanks." Faith said as she sat down beside Vicki. She picked the mug that held a darker shade of the brown liquid and proceeded to add two spoonfuls of sugar before stirring.
"Did you find anything interesting?" Vicki asked her guest.
"Um, yeah. Was looking at the photos. For a photographer, you certainly do not take many pictures yourself."
Vicki smiled. "Well, a photographer takes photos of others right? Haven't found someone good enough to take too many pictures of me." She joked.
Faith chuckled. "I think you look better in person, though. A photograph captures a moment, but it's dead anyway. It can't move or laugh or talk. I'd rather be with a live person anytime." She said, sadly, thinking about the photograph on her bed stand.
"Why thank you." Vicki smiled. "What about you? Do you take many pictures?"
"Me?" Faith considered. "Not really. Haven't had the time. Have never been into taking photographs anyway." Yeah, I was busy getting drunk and beating myself up. After that, I was too busy receiving therapy.
"Maybe one day I could do a portfolio for you." Vicki offered, wondering what Faith was thinking that made her face cloud up.
Faith grinned to Vicki's relief. "We'll see."
Suddenly, Faith's proximity made Vicki feel a little hot. She could pick up her guest's breath - a mixture of coffee and wine that she had taken earlier on, and it made her a little heady. "I promised you a tour earlier on, didn't I?" she asked a little shakily, needing to get away but wanting to go closer like a moth to a flame.
"You sure did. Up for it now?" Faith asked, oblivious to what the blonde was feeling.
"Yup. Come on." Vicki stood up, her hand reaching to pull Faith up. Faith took her hand, to her pleasant surprise, and neither one made a move to tighten the hold nor pull away after Faith stood up.
"That's the kitchen - I don't really cook much, so there isn't a lot of things in the fridge." she confessed. She hoped her palm would not sweat.
"Here's my 'study room' of a sort. It's more like a gallery, really. If you wanna see my work, it's all in there." She pushed open a door and flicked on the light. Individual frames of photographs that hung on the wall was lighted by individual spot lights.
"Wow." Faith said in admiration. "Nice." she let go of Vicki's hand and went to the picture nearest to her.
"This is the only room that I really spent time working on ever since I moved in here. It... takes my mind off things. It isn't completed though." There was a couple of boxes scattering the floor of the room, holding more photos that she had taken.
"This is great!" Faith said, after looking at every picture. "You are so talented, Vick."
Vicki noted the abbreviation of her already abbreviated name and smiled to herself. She had remembered Faith calling her that once before, the day they had met at the gym. "Thanks." she said.
"You're definitely doing my portfolio. Damn, you could make a gorgon look good!" Faith exclaimed.
Vick chuckled before asking, "What's that?"
They talked into the night, fired off by Faith's explanation of what a gorgon was. Faith loved Greek and Roman mythology. Classical Archaeology was focused on the archaeology of Greece and Rome, and so it entwined with their myths as well.
Gorgon were mythological creatures with snakes growing out of their heads. One well known gorgon was Medusa - whose look could turn any man into stone.
By the time they realized it, dawn was breaking.
"I don't believe this." Faith shook her head disbelievingly. "We talked the entire night away!"
Vicki smiled. "Must be the coffee." she said, yawning.
"You're tired. I better go and let you have your beauty sleep." Faith smiled a little, rising to leave.
"Oh no you don't. You haven't slept a wink the whole of last night! I don't want you to get into any accidents. You're sleeping here." she said firmly.
"But... but I don't have anything to change into." Faith protested a little. Do I wanna stay?
"That's okay. I'll get you something to change into. Go take a bath." The photographer instructed.
"But..." Faith's sentence was cut off by an admonishing stare. "'Kay." she quipped, unsure why she was allowing the photographer boss her around. Maybe I do wanna stay.
By the time Vicki came out of the bathroom, Faith was sound asleep on one side of her bed. She had insisted that her guest share her bed instead of sleeping on the couch like what Faith had offered to, and the student was too tired to argue.
How long has it been since someone has shared a bed with you? She asked herself. Shaking her head, she proceeded to towel dry her hair and climbed into bed with the peacefully sleeping Faith.
The dark haired woman was sleeping on her stomach, her face turned towards Vicki's. The older woman studied her friend for a while and thought back to when they first met and the incidents that preceded it. It must be fate. She decided.
Faith looked so innocent when she was sleeping, her face free of all lines. Her still damp hair fell over her forehead like messy thin blades of grass, damp with the morning dew. She was wearing Vicki's large Planet Hollywood t-shirt and a pair of silk boxers that Vicki had dug up from her drawers. Vicki breathed in the fresh scent of lavender that emanated from them both due to the shower gel that they had used earlier and she closed her eyes.
Finally, she leaned down and gave Faith a light kiss on her temple saying, "And to end the tour, this is my bedroom and you're now sleeping on my bed. Sweet dreams." before closing her eyes as well.
Faith lifted the blade to her wrist shakily. Her tears were running freely now. She sobbed loudly and painfully as she stared at the object in her white, tenacious grip.
What was left in life for her? She felt so low that she was better off dead. One by one, her loved ones left her. First George, then Nana... Thereafter, her parents were almost on the brink of disowning her when they found out about her sexuality on top of her drug and drinking problem. The only one who cared for her was Catherine... but she had pissed her off badly anyway with her bad attitude.
"Bad fucking attitude." she muttered, slashing her wrist lightly, drawing a little blood out of the superficial wound. "Stupid. Useless. Murderer..." she continued drawing more blood with each slash. It made her feel better each time the red liquid appeared. She felt as if she was atoning for all that she had done wrong.
Her wrist felt weak but she continued to slash at it anyway. Then the blade was snatched out of her hands as Catherine grabbed the nearest towel frantically.
"Do you know what you're doing?" she screamed at her wayward sister, tying the towel around her wrist. Hugging the sobbing girl, she reached for the phone.
After dialing for the ambulance, Catherine realized that her sister had passed out. "Oh God... Please, Faith, don't go... Don't waste your life like this..."
Faith woke up in shock, her heart knocking like a fist on the door. That was a nightmare she had stopped having a long time ago.
A figure stirred beside her. "Faith?" The voice said blurrily. "Why are you crying?"
She brushed the wetness on her cheeks away. She did not realize that she had cried in reality. "Uh... I'm not. I... I had a bad dream, that's all."
Vicki came closer. "Is everything really okay?" she asked, a little worried. Faith nodded but that did not convince the photographer.
"Come here." she said, pulling her friend to her and giving her the hug that she had wanted to give since last night. Faith returned the hug and Vicki sighed rather contentedly.
They pulled away reluctantly and Faith asked for the time.
"11 a.m." Vicki said. They had been sleeping for about four hours.
"Shit." Faith scrambled off the bed and looked around for her clothes.
"What's wrong?" Vicki asked, sitting up on the bed, confused.
"I have to be someplace. Now." Faith said, slipping into her pants. "Darn. I don't even have my gear with me." she mumbled, cursing at herself for forgetting all about her swimming class.
"What gear?" Vicki asked, a little piqued.
"Sorry." Faith paused for a while. "I have to get to a swimming class... like now. It's on at 11..." her voice trailed off as she stared at the red numbers on the radio clock and sighed. She sunk to the floor with her pants halfway up her legs. "Oh well. Doesn't matter. I'm already late." she smirked.
Vicki felt her irritation evaporate as she made her way to where Faith was sitting, looking adorable in her half dressed state. "You teach swimming lessons?" she inquired.
Only a mumbling sound could be heard. Vicki caught a 'can't' and 'learning' somewhere in the phrase and grinned. "I can't hear you." she smiled.
Faith looked up. "I can't swim." She repeated, a little loudly this time. "I'm going to the center to learn swimming, not to teach."
"I can teach you." Vicki offered.
Faith looked away. "Nah... it's alright." she mumbled again and tried to stand up, forgetting that her pants were halfway up and she toppled with a yelp.
Vicki started giggling after the surprise of Faith's weight dropping on her wore off. Faith groaned and pushed herself up, her face only inches from Vicki's.
"Sorry." she said. "You okay?" Vicki could only nod.
This time, it was Faith who could not help herself. Vicki was in an oversized Mickey Mouse t-shirt and that combined with her ruffled blonde hair made a strangely appealing picture to Faith. She filled in the space between her lips and Vicki's, beginning a soft, tentative kiss.
Seconds later, the lips pulled apart. Faith's eyes asked for the unneeded permission and the lips came together again and again, almost drowning them in the sweetness of the innocent kisses.
Passion gave way and lips opened to receive each other. A shudder ran down Vicki's spine when she discovered the wetness in Faith's mouth. Their breathes became heavy and the photographer's hand reached up to pull Faith's head closer to her. Their kisses became so deep that Vicki was convinced that she could drive her entire being inside Faith's mouth.
Then, without warning, the Undergraduate pulled away. Vicki opened her eyes in confusion as she feared for the worse.
Faith rolled to her side and started laughing.
"What's so funny?" Vicki asked a little stiffly.
Faith realized that the blonde had taken her mirth the wrong way and sobered up immediately. "My arms couldn't hold me up any longer. I was laughing cos' all I could think about when my arms were screaming was that I couldn't get enough of kissing you."
Vicki looked at the dark haired woman for a moment and smiled. She touched her forehead to the other woman's and sighed deeply. "And here am I thinking that I should have more experienced that you in kissing since I'm three years older than you - and therefore have three more years of kissing experience than you do. Technically speaking, that is."
Faith looked amused. "And?"
"You proved me wrong. I guess age doesn't really matter, huh?" The photographer grinned, the side of her eyes crinkling up.
"You're not too bad for an old lady." Faith commented cheerily, earning herself a jab in the side. They chuckled together.
"I like you, Faith." Vicki said after a while. Faith raised a brow at her.
"I think I know as much." The Undergrad smiled.
Vicki did not return the smile. What she was going to say was important, and she was not sure of the reaction Faith was going to give her. "I just walked away from a relationship not too long ago. I think you know that as well."
"I'm not looking for a fling or a one nighter." She took a deep breath. "Neither am I interested in playing games. If you can't commit... tell me now, before it gets any further." She finally looked at Faith who was staring at something interesting behind her and the photographer held her breath.
Faith kept silent for a long while, the wheels in her head turning. She had never been dealt with so honestly before. Most of the time when she dated someone, they would go out and half fun, be satisfied physically and that would be the end of it. Some lasted longer than others, but never one to set the rules so early in the relationship.
She then looked back at the blonde whom she had just shared intimate kisses with and her heart broke a little, knowing that she would not be able to give her what she wanted. Neither did she want to lie to her about it.
"Then this has to stop now." she said lightly. "I can't... give you what you want. I'm not capable of giving that to anyone."
Vicki nodded, her eyes welled up with tears that she brushed aside quickly. "Okay. Now we've got that all cleared up, we'll move on to other things."
Faith gave her a brief smile. "Yeah. I gotta go. Thanks... for letting me spend the night."
Vicki nodded. After Faith exited her apartment, she pressed her back to the main door of her apartment after Faith left, replaying their short-lived kisses in her mind. Without understanding why, she started crying.
Faith cursed herself silently as she made her way to her car. She felt bad for hurting Vicki. She really liked her a lot. But... Everytime I commit to someone, he or she gets taken away from me. I'm sorry, Vick... The problem lies with me.
"This is for the best." she said aloud to herself. She knew that her inability to deal with loss would forever come between her and happiness. It was her retribution for everything that she had done, and she accepted it. If what it took was for her to be alone for the rest of her life in order to make up for the heart break that she caused so many people who loved her, so be it.
Her jaws clenched as she pulled away from Vicki's apartment and out of the photographer's life. She looked into the rearview mirror and saw the gate leading to the car park descend, almost as if it knew that another chapter of Faith's life was closing.
Vicki entered the bar, her eyes searching for her friends who were supposed to be there waiting for her. She spotted them almost at once and she waved back at Janice with a smile. As she made her way across the bar to them, someone came up to her.
"Hi." A flash of red hair and speculating smile appeared before her.
She frowned a little, wondering if she knew the vaguely familiar looking person. "Um, hi. Do I know you?" she asked a little uncertainly.
"Well no, but you are about to." The flirtatious remark made her smile nervously in return. She was not used to being approached in a bar.
"I'm Jamie. I've seen you here before... with Faith." The redhead flashed her another charming smile and her familiar face finally connected with a specific memory. This was the woman whom Faith talked to the last time they were there. She felt something squeeze her heart a little when she was reminded of Faith.
"Oh, hi." She said, not knowing what else to say.
"Hope you don't mind me asking, but are you seeing her?" Jamie asked casually.
Vicki started to shake her head when she remembered the cold look and nasty exchange the dark haired woman had shared with the redhead. "Why?"
"Nothing, I just thought that you should know she isn't a very good person, that's all." Jamie leaned closer to Vicki and the photographer felt a little intimidated at their proximity.
"Oh. Is that all? Well then, I have to go. My friends are waiting for me." She forced a smile on her face and started to pull away.
"Hang on. I hope you're not getting the wrong impression of me. I'd really like to get to know you." The redhead smiled ruefully, almost as if she knew what the blonde was thinking. "Can I buy you a drink?"
Vicki took a breath. "Sure." She answered. Why not?
"Great. And your name is...?" Jamie reached out her hand to shake Vicki's.
"Vicki." The photographer offered her hand in return. "Nice to meet you."
Jamie took the soft hand in hers and chuckled lightly. "The pleasure's all mine. Now, what drink would you like?"
"Bourbon coke, thanks."
Jamie nodded and turned to the bartender.
Janice made her way through the crowd to her friend. "Hey, Vicki. Gonna join us?" She asked, looking at Jamie.
"Um, yeah. In a minute." Vicki said, getting the drink from Jamie. "Thanks." She smiled. "This is Jamie." She introduced, not sure why she was entertaining the redhead but doing it anyway. "And this is Janice." She glanced at her friend.
The duo shook hands. "I'll return her to you, I promise." Jamie turned on her charm on the brunette journalist as well and her statement made Janice a little guilty for interrupting them.
"No worries. I'll see you later then, Vicki." Janice departed to return to her friends.
"So..." Jamie turned back to the blonde who was already sipping at her drink by the bar. "I'm assuming that you're single?"
Vicki almost choked on her drink. The woman was so blatant! Not to mention arrogant. "Why's that?" She asked innocently, not wanting to give an answer.
"Because no one in their right minds would let such a beautiful girl like yourself wander around alone in a bar if you're attached."
Vicki rolled her eyes mentally. It was quite obvious that Jamie was buttering her up. But why? She refused to think that it was because of Faith. She's out of my life now. And why isn't it possible that I can attract someone by my own looks?
Laughter floated past her, distracting her slightly. She turned to see where it was coming from and spotted a sexily dressed blonde draping herself all over another woman. She was about to turn back to her companion who was already talking about something else when the laughing blonde shifted her position slightly to reveal a familiar figure.
Faith? Vicki tightened her hold on her glass. The object of her observation felt eyes on her and her own hazel brown eyes flickered around the Saturday night crowd to land on Vicki's. The connection lasted a second but felt like an eternity. Then the dark haired woman's eyes narrowed when she saw Jamie talking to Vicki before it turned back to the blonde before her again.
Vicki was snapped out of her daze by Jamie who was calling her name.
"Huh?" She turned back to the redhead and smiled sheepishly. "Sorry, I was thinking." Jamie looked a little offended but let it pass.
"I was just asking what you do for a living." Jamie repeated her question. She had seen where the blonde was looking and was elated to find out that it was Faith. She assumed that things were going a little rocky for the couple. Otherwise, she would not have been able to get this far with Vicki. Either that, or they were never together before. But she had seen the looks that Vicki and Faith shared the first time she had seen them together and those told another story all by themselves.
Payback's a bitch. She thought to herself as she continued to charm the woman before her. You play with my girl, and I'll play with yours. Not that it's such a tough job. The redhead eyed Vicki appreciatively as she started talking about her job which she had absolutely no interest in.
Faith fumed inside. She was out looking for some fun to take her mind off Vicki and just when she thought she could forget the photographer and what had transpired between them for just one night, she showed up talking to the bitch, Jamie!
The blonde in her arms leaned over to whisper something in her ear, making her smile deviously. Forget Vicki. Isn't it better this way? She meets someone new and gets on with her life, and you were just offered a night of paradise.
But as much as she would like to enjoy the temporary oblivion, she could not shake off that feeling inside her that told her Jamie was going to hurt Vicki.
It's none of your business, Faith.
Faith wrestled within herself and lost. "Let's get outta here." She said to Jaclyn who was getting a little bored at her unresponsiveness. Reaching up to cup her face, Faith leaned in to kiss her, all the while seeing Vicki's face in her mind. Then she hugged the woman to her and they left.
Vicki could not help the jealousy that hit her, starting from the pit of her stomach to envelope her in its green rage when she saw the couple across the room kissing. She turned back to Jamie and smiled shakily. "I have to get back to my friends. It was nice talking to you." She said hurriedly before hopping off the stool.
"Hey..." Jamie stopped her with a touch to her arm. "Would you like to go out with me some time?" She asked.
Vicki looked at her hesitantly. She did not like the woman that much, but she reckoned it would take her mind off Faith. Since she's already moving on and getting off big time. "Okay." She said, almost regretting her decision the moment it left her lips.
"Great!" Jamie actually looked happy, making Vicki feel a little guilty at what she was doing. "Here, scribble your number down on this coaster and I'll give you a ring." She passed a coaster and a pen to Vicki who wrote down some numbers quickly.
"Excellent." Jamie said as she took the coaster from the blonde. "See you soon."
"Yeah. And thanks for the drink." Vicki walked off in the direction of Janice with the redhead smiling to herself.
* * *
Faith had sent Jaclyn home with the lame excuse of a sudden attack of migraine. The blonde had been disappointed, not to mention a little irked at her sudden change of attitude.
As she drove around aimlessly, Faith ran her fingers through her dark hair and sighed. A familiar looking face stared back at her in the rearview mirror at a red-light. The eyes were the same light brown, the same hair framed her face. But everything else had changed for her. She had felt something that she had not felt for a long time now, and the person who made her feel that was a certain blonde that she had left behind in the bar with a person who had a high potential of hurting her.
Why do I bother? What is it about her?
She had wondered how it would have been like to be with Vicki. Would she be happy? Would Vicki be happy? Would it all turn out right?
She did not know. That was not the point. The point is, I want to know. Faith chewed on a nail nervously.
Cursing at herself, she made an illegal U-turn and drove back to the bar, all the time hoping that she would not be too late.
Vicki was making small talk with her friends when she felt a presence near her. She looked up to see Faith staring at her, her jaws clenched and her posture stiff. The blonde that she had seen her leaving with was not to be found and somehow that made Vicki feel a little pleased.
"Faith!" Janice smiled, standing up. "It's been a while. Come on, take a seat!" She offered the dark haired woman.
Faith did not budge. She looked so uncomfortable that Vicki wanted to laugh. "Um..." She started to open her mouth but closed it again. "No thanks. I just..." She looked at Vicki who merely gazed at her and she felt stupid for coming up to them. "I just came over to say hi. Hi." She shot a last glance at Vicki and decided to retreat. "Bye." She shrugged, turning away.
Janice looked at her friend oddly after the peculiar speech Faith made. Vicki met her concerned look and shrugged as well.
Faith stopped, groaning inwardly. Come on! Tell her!
She took a deep breath and turned around, her confidence boosted a little when she saw that Vicki was still looking at her. Caught off-guard, Faith could see the emotions running across the blonde's face before everything was kept in check again. "I'm sorry for what I said that day. I was scared." She said loudly to everyone but only looking at Vicki.
"If... if you would still give me a chance, I would like to take up on your offer." The words rushed out hurriedly. She clenched her fists nervously, waiting for any form of reply from the blonde, hoping that she was not too late.
Vicki, on the other hand, was not expecting that at all. A myriad of thoughts raced through her head, sending her heart pounding rapidly. She realized that everyone in her group was looking expectantly at her as well and it was making her very embarrassed.
At that moment, a redhead appeared on Vicki's side. "Evening ladies." She smiled to everyone. "Would you like to dance with me?" She offered a hand to the photographer who was at a loss. She figured that it was a good excuse to get away from the group and most importantly Faith, so she nodded and put her hand in Jamie's.
"Excuse me." She said tightly to everyone. Jamie looked smugly at the despondent looking Faith as she led her prize away from her nemesis.
"What's going on?" Janice asked the still standing Faith. Faith only shook her head mutely and turned to go.
"Oh no you don't." Janice stood up and stopped the woman from leaving. "You sit. And tell me what the hell is going on?"
Faith slumped into the space that Cassandra and a guy made for her and sighed, rubbing her neck awkwardly. "I... She..." She stopped, looking around, meeting several intent stares. "I don't think I should say this now. No offense."
The group shrugged. "No problem. It's between the two of you anyway." Cassandra patted her hand.
The rest of the group continued with their discussions and left Faith and Janice alone.
"So?" Janice asked again, demanding an explanation from Faith.
"It's stupid. She said she wanted a committed relationship, and I basically ran faster than the Road Runner." She looked in the direction of the dance floor and her shoulders slumped.
"And now you realize that you do want to be with her?" Janice asked to confirm her suspicions. She had known that something was up by the way Vicki had behaved the past few weeks. She seemed a little lost, and not as bubbly as she normally would be. The last time she had seen her behave this way was when Tanya left her. Faith nodded.
"After the way you ran away and disappeared for the past few weeks, you see her in a club flirting with another woman and miraculously decide that you want to be with her?" Janice asked incredulously. "Not to mention that you expect her to agree to take off with you the moment you come to!"
Faith hung her head so low that she almost touched her lap with her chin. "I know. It's bad timing, but... it's not really like that at all."
"Oh yeah? I think you're just doing this because you wanted her to continue liking you and you feel threatened that someone else might take your place! That's really selfish, Faith." Janice huffed. She wanted the woman she was reprimanding to see how it appeared to Vicki and understand that this was not the way to do things.
"Maybe." Faith sighed. "The thing is... I've been trying to get her out of my mind after that day. It's stupid, I mean, I've only known her for such a short period of time, seen her a couple of times... But I think I really do like her. And it scares me because it's so different from the past people I've been with.
When I saw her flirting with Jamie, I admit that I felt jealous. And threatened. It's weird because it's been eons since the last time I felt that monster rearing its head. And it hit me that I really don't wanna lose her. Be it to someone else or not." Faith looked up finally at the pair of eyes that was studying her. "It's not the excitement of a chase, if that's what you're thinking. Jamie just speeded up the process a little. You know, gave me a little incentive."
Janice could see that she was telling the truth. "Well then, show her. Show her how much you want to be with her. Make her believe you. Words are just words, Faith. And as much as I'm on my friend's side, I have to tell you that she does like you."
A tentative lopsided grin appeared on the Undergrad's face. "You think?"
Janice nodded. "But give her more time and that's it for you. Then, even if you can run as fast as the Road Runner, you won't be able to get her back."
"The Coyote." Janice looked confused at Faith's statement. Faith chuckled. "I'd be the Coyote who will never get the Road Runner, no matter how hard I try or how fast I run."
Janice rolled her eyes. "Whatever. I never follow all those kiddy cartoons."
Faith's brow rose. "Oh yeah." She slapped her forehead, almost as if she remembered something important.
"What?" Janice asked, a little anxiously.
Faith peered at the brunette. "I forgot that you're too old for that. Sorry, ma'am." She smirked, making Janice smack her playfully on her arm.
"Brat." She scolded good naturedly.
Faith sobered up and brushed her fingers through her hair. "Well," she breathed, "It's time for me to cut someone's dance."
Vicki's heart was not in what she was doing. She wondered if Faith had left after her abrupt departure with the redhead to the dance floor and she was starting to regret her move. The music was changing to a slow tempo and Jamie edged in closer.
She was about to shake her head when Faith appeared. She held her breath unconsciously, wondering what the handsome woman was going to do next. She had expected her to run away after baring her heart and getting no response, but the night's events were turning out rather out of her expectations.
"Can I cut in?" Faith asked, looking at her. Jamie scowled.
"If it's up to me, no." the redhead said. This challenge was getting intriguing. She peered at Vicki.
Finally, Vicki shrugged. "Sure." Faith broke into a smile and Jamie's scowl deepened. But the redhead stepped back anyway.
Faith took her place and reached out tentatively to hold Vicki. She was sweating in her leather jacket and pants but hoped that her palms were dry. Vicki, on the other hand, was looking as cool as a cucumber in her white shirt and faded blue jeans.
Ignoring the redhead who was staring daggers her way, Faith held the blonde in her arms at a respectable distance from her. Vicki remained silent in the slightly tensed embrace.
"Why did you do that?" She asked finally, breaking the silence. The crackling energy that ran around them was intense.
"Do what?" Faith asked. What do you want me to say? What do you want me to explain? Tell me. I'll try.
"Run away the first time I asked you... what I asked you." Vicki said distractedly, taking in the scent of the leather on her dancing companion.
"I was scared. Scared of what you wanted from me and scared that I couldn't give you what you wanted." Faith admitted. She knew that now was not the time to give smart witty answers and stopped herself from saying that she felt intimidated by small blondes in Mickey Mouse sweatshirts.
"Then why did you come over and said what you said just now?" Vicki prodded.
"Because I realized the reason for me being afraid." Faith said sincerely.
"Being afraid means you're unwilling or reluctant to do something for fear of the consequences." Faith joked. Vicki rolled her eyes and chuckled, causing the tension between them to lessen a little.
"You know that's not what I meant." She mock glared at her dancing companion.
Faith grinned. "Sorry. Couldn't help that. It was just getting too intense." She took a deep breath. "The reason is that I've never been with someone I cared for. And in order for that to be a reason, I'd have to care for you. It's new to me." she said sincerely.
"What about now?" Vicki asked. "Aren't you scared anymore?"
In the course of their conversation, they had gotten a little closer. Faith's arms were locked in the low of Vicki's back and Vicki had her arms around the dark haired woman's neck.
"I am." Faith breathed noting the slightly disappointed droop of Vicki's head. "But I'm willing to overcome it. I know whatever I say is not going to change anything, so I'm going to try and show you that you can trust that I'm telling you the truth."
Vicki's head snapped up again at that. She lost herself in those hazel browns as she whispered, "How?"
Faith stopped dancing for a while and reached into the pocket on the inside of her jacket. She unclasped the silver 'Hello Kitty' key ring from the rest of her keys and started winding it back to the date and time of the day she told Vicki that she could not give her what she wanted.
Then, in the middle of the dance floor, she pulled one of Vicki's hands free from behind her neck and pressed the key ring into her palm.
"Do you know what this is?" She asked. Her voice sounded a little funny to herself, almost like she had taken nitrogen or something.
Vicki looked at the ornament in her hand and smiled. She could not help the emotions that were welling up within her as she answered, "Your key ring."
Faith gazed at the woman in her arms and gave her a slightly lopsided grin. "Nah. It's a time machine."
At Vicki's dubious look, Faith's grin widened and then her face sobered into a serious expression. "When I told you... what I told you that day, in your room, it was a turning point in our relationship. That was the moment that I had control, and I chose to run. Now, it's another one of those moments. You can choose to reject me, and tell me that it's too late. Or, you could take the chance. With me. Either way, the choice lies in your hand."
After a long moment of silence, Vicki hugged the relieved Undergrad as they picked up where they left off - dancing and otherwise. She did not know what to say to the speech that Faith had just made and reckoned that the next best thing to do was to take action. Moreover, she did not want Faith to see the tears in her eyes, and hugging her would eliminate that possibility.
Faith breathed in the fresh scent of lavender as she buried her face in the crook of the photographer's neck. "Does this mean yes?" She asked, teasingly.
"Yes to what?" A muffled voice asked her.
"You know the question." Faith murmured.
"You know the answer." Vicki tightened her hold as Faith chuckled.