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Chapter Ten: Awkward
The doorknob was a goner. Buffy had barely even touched it and it came off, both crushed parts hitting the floor and wobbling off in different directions. Buffy pursed her lips, running her hand through hair still damp from her shower. She idly wondered how traumatized her mother was from this incident, and if it was enough to make Joyce ignore all the damage Buffy had caused.
Exhibit one: the doorknob. Exhibit two: the crack running up her bedroom door. Exhibit three: the weird stains on her carpet. Exhibit four: the very ruined, very expensive sheet set. Exhibit five: the chunks of wood Buffy had broken off from the countertop, which happened after everything was over with. Exhibit six: the water bill they were going to get at the beginning of next month.
Yeah, no, Buffy cringed. I'm so... fucking grounded.
Buffy was seated on the couch, her head bowed in thought. Her hair was pulled back in a tight ponytail, exposing the fresh bandage on her neck. She was wearing a pair of loosely fitting yellow basketball shorts and a baggy blue jersey, and Faith was pretty sure neither were actually hers. She held a half empty bottle of water in her hand, her fingers drumming against the plastic restlessly.
“Hey,” Faith cleared her throat, “Find Mrs. S. yet?”
“Uh-huh,” Buffy's eyes trailed up to meet hers, “She was with Giles. They're on their way.”
“Right,” Faith nodded, “Think I can catch a ride home? The thought of walkin'--”
“Of course,” Buffy interrupted, “I'm sure Giles won't mind.”
She fell silent, but Faith didn't miss the tremor that shook her as she took a long drink of water. She knew it wasn't the Incubus bite causing the reaction. The eyes that flickered away from her were clear again, the pupils pinpricks in those brilliant hazel irises. Faith bit down on her tongue to keep from asking Buffy if she was okay again, and she was startled when Buffy spoke up.
“So, I can't apologize for this--I mean, I've been so horrible--and then yesterday you were so--”
“ Don't, ” Faith warned.
Buffy's mouth snapped shut and Faith breathed a silent sigh of relief. She didn't need Buffy treating her like a hooker by telling her how great she was. And if Buffy actually did apologize, Faith was pretty sure she'd lose it. Things didn't have to be as... awkward as Buffy was making it.
It grated against Faith's senses. Her body was sore, she was exhausted, starving, and the tension coiling under her skin was pushing all the wrong buttons. The intense desire to grab Buffy, shove her down on the couch, and kiss her until she was singing a different tune hit Faith like a freight train. She clamped her muscles down hard, preventing herself from making it a reality.
Buffy was wrestling with herself. For twenty hours, her libido had been in the driver's seat. She was terrified that she would lose control again. Faith wore a pair of Buffy's jeans, and one of her maroon Sunnydale gym shirts, and even after their showers, they both still smelled like sex. Buffy was pretty sure the only thing keeping her from snapping was the Slayer's sleepy contentment.
Her senses still hadn't returned to normal and that worried Buffy. Eyesight and smell could tell her a lot about people, and Buffy really didn't want to know most of those things. Buffy spent a good deal of time and energy filtering out those things in her day-to-day life. At this rate when she went back to school later today, she'd probably turn back into a raging nymphomaniac by lunchtime.
An overactive drive, Giles had said? Well, duh . If she wasn't fighting, her body had to channel the Slayer's energy in other ways, and Buffy had a very healthy drive even before she was Called. She had learned how to cope with that a long time ago...she just had the decency not to talk about it.
Buffy might prefer to pretend she didn't feel it whenever Faith brought up the hungry and horny, but she felt it. Buffy drained the rest of her water. Yeah, she definitely felt it.
Just...not to the degree that it was all she could feel. That was what made her shake with anxiety, even now. She was used to the dark, primal need that made her body ache in all the right places and made her think about doing... indecent things to everyone. She just didn't give into it.
Now, Buffy had some very vivid memories of doing a good many of those things, and she didn't know what to do with them. It wasn't like sexuality, which Buffy was very good at burying hers in her closet where it was dark. Yesterday, Buffy had buried herself three fingers deep in Faith, and laid herself to rest. Buffy somehow didn't think CPR could resurrect her this time around.
Buffy's eyes burned with shame, but she somehow managed to shove it down. It had nothing to do with Faith's gender, because Buffy had always known she was flexible, even if no one else did. It was the memory of the things she'd wanted to do...it was the things she had done to Faith. It was the bruising knowledge that the Incubus hadn't made her do anything she hadn't thought about.
Things were going...Buffy took a deep breath and acknowledged, to get even more awkward. Xander and Willow were probably wondering where she was yesterday. Her mother and Giles were coming up the walkway now. And Angel...well now, that was something a good deal worse than awkward, and Buffy was very carefully not thinking about him while Faith was in her home.
The front door opened and Joyce called out tentatively, “Buffy...Faith?”
Buffy waved lamely, “Right here.”
Neither Joyce or Giles could look either of them in the eyes, and every time Joyce looked at Faith, she turned a very unhealthy shade of red. Faith was carefully keeping her distance from Buffy for Joyce's sake, which was easy because Faith wasn't sitting down before she had to. It would have been laughable if Faith wasn't so damned exhausted. She felt like she could sleep for a week.
Giles was inspecting the wound, and Buffy kept flinching almost imperceptibly every time he got too close to making contact. Faith remembered how Buffy had responded to her mouth, and her touch, every time she paid attention to the bite and she grinned faintly. Buffy happened to look up at the same time, catching her expression, and for a second, it was just them again. Then Buffy shuddered, forcing herself to take a deep breath as she pulled away from watcher curiosity.
“So, satisfied?” Buffy asked briskly. “No infection, no Incubus cooties. Just Buffy here, right?”
“I suppose,” Giles agreed reluctantly, “Though I am a little concerned about the bruising. In the cases I went over with Joyce at the library yesterday, there was no mention of such extensive discoloration.”
“ Oh...my...God, ” Buffy shot Faith a dark look as she flushed, “You have a mouth like a hoover.”
Joyce made a small noise of discomfort and Buffy looked up at the ceiling. Faith scratched at an eyebrow, feeling the smirk pulling at the split in her lip. She made an impulsive decision. Maybe she should stick around for a while longer, to see what she could manage to shake out of Buffy.
“I've been told that, yeah,” Faith drawled.
“ Faith-- ” Buffy started.
“ Ahem ,” Giles interrupted Buffy's heated response, flustered, “I believe the two of you were quite... thorough , Buffy. The mark is healing, and you've regained your faculties.”
Buffy rolled her eyes, “I wouldn't bet on that.”
Giles gave her a concerned look, “Is everything alright?”
“Oh, yeah. Everything's just peachykeen,” Buffy said with a fake smile.
“So, no reason I can't go pass out somewhere, then?” Faith cut in.
“N--no, of course not,” Giles stammered, abashed, “Are you alright, Faith? I didn't even think--I mean to say, you've expended a great deal of--of energy, and you certainly need your rest.”
Faith huffed a laugh, “Oh, yeah. Just peachykeen , G. It ain't nothin' a bag of burgers and fries, and a huge chocolate milkshake from the DMP, and a week's coma wouldn't fix.”
“May I offer you a ride?” Giles asked gently, “I'll pick up the tab for your meal, if that's alright.”
Faith was a little surprised by the offer. She considered it for a moment, knowing she didn't have any cash on her. Her wallet hadn't really been her biggest concern when she'd left the motel with Joyce the previous morning. Uncomfortable, she clasped her upper arm, about to accept.
“You can't be serious,” Joyce cut in, “Faith, your body needs more than that.”
“Nah, Mrs. S.,” Faith shrugged casually, “I'm all set. B ransacked your fridge yesterday and fed me all kinds of healthy goodies. I don't really need much more than that.”
Buffy's eyes were wide as she watched the battle of wills between Faith and Joyce. Joyce didn't tend to get involved with Buffy's friends on a personal level. She liked Xander and Willow, and she'd been fond of a few of Buffy's friends in LA, but she never took this kind of interest in them. This was almost mother henning, on a level even Buffy herself rarely ever had to suffer from.
She didn't know which was more unsettling; the fact that it wasn't bothering her to see her mother reaching out to Faith, or the fact that she agreed with her mother. Since Faith had arrived, Buffy had been irrationally jealous of her friends' and her mother's interactions with Faith. She knew it was because she'd never shared well with others, which was why this surprised her. Apparently, the lingering, disturbing urge to take care of Faith herself was negating only child syndrome.
“--doesn't she, Buffy?”
“Huh?” Buffy blinked, confused.
“She deserves a hearty, homecooked meal, doesn't she?” Finally meeting Buffy's gaze, Joyce gave Buffy a look that demanded agreement, “She did a lot for you, coming here like she did.”
“Oh, believe me,” Buffy grimaced, pinching the bridge of her nose, “I'm deeply, annoyingly aware of just what Faith has done for me. In fact, I'm certain I won't be forgetting it anytime soon.”
Even Buffy's powers of repression weren't strong enough to tackle this one. Also, seeing the amusement dancing in Faith's eyes, she knew Faith wasn't about to let her try. Making a decision, Buffy squared her shoulders, raising her chin. This thing with Faith had happened, and she couldn't just stuff Faith in the closet with the rest of her skeletons...because she'd just raise Hell in there.
“Actually, mom,” The beginnings of a devious smile spread across Buffy's lips as she met Faith's gaze challengingly, “That sounds like it's just what Faith needs. She did give her all to save me.”
If Faith was Hellbent on making things more awkward for Buffy...she could stick around for the aftermath. Buffy realized her logic was crazy woman logic, but she felt validated by the doe-eyed look Faith was sporting. The thought of the hurt that could come from needing someone--especially Faith, still terrified her...but Buffy was woman enough to admit to herself that it was a little late for that. She was very much unsettled by how she needed Faith, but that was a work in progress.
“Then that's settled,” Joyce announced, “There's no reason why you can't stay for a late meal.”
A subvocal growl tickled Buffy's eardrums, then Faith finally capitulated, “Sure thing, Mrs. S.”
“Good,” Joyce nodded and added briskly, “Now, I know Buffy treated her injuries, but have you let her tend to yours? Her coach at Hemery required them to take First Aid courses every summer during camp...although I'm still not entirely sure just how Kimberly managed to pass any of them.”
To Be Continued in Chapter Eleven
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