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Chapter Eleven: Stay
Buffy was, perhaps, enjoying this a little more than she should. She had school in four hours and she was exhausted, but Faith was seated at her dining table, squirming. As Buffy had so recently figured out, she took great joy in making Faith squirm. It was something to be enjoyed daily.
She was beginning to believe her sense of decency was still buried somewhere...probably inside Faith. She hadn't done anything blatant and her mother probably wasn't even aware of it, but to her it felt like every other word out of her own mouth was laden with innuendo. This would be why she'd been quiet since she and Faith had finished setting the table, as was their routine.
Buffy blinked suddenly at the realization that she had a routine with Faith outside of Slaying. It was true. Every time Joyce guilted Buffy into asking Faith over for dinner, or Buffy asked Faith over to distract her mother from something, this was how it went. Buffy and Faith were banned from the kitchen except to retrieve dishes, because Buffy couldn't cook and Faith was a guest. Instead, Faith and Buffy set the table, brought out the food, and after, if Faith didn't flake, they did the dishes.
“Actually, that ain't a bad idea,” Faith was saying.
Buffy jerked, startled, “Come again?”
Pausing with the fork halfway to her mouth, Faith glanced over at Buffy. Their eyes locked and Buffy felt that look all the way to her core. In that moment, they weren't in the dining room, but Buffy's bedroom, Faith straddling her lap. Feeling Faith's skin flush against hers, feeling Faith's arousal slipping and sliding against her lower belly, Buffy had to force her eyes to stay open.
“I was just suggesting to Faith that someone really needed to find that other demon, the one that got away from her, before he can hurt anyone else,” Joyce's voice turned concerned, “Buffy, are you certain you're alright? You've been pretty quiet since Mr. Giles headed back home.”
Smiling sickly, Buffy shrugged, “It's nothing a little sleep won't fix.”
Actually, sleep was going to make it worse. Buffy's subconscious was a very, very bad place to be when she was trying to cope with something. This thing with the Incubus would only add fuel to the fire, now that she had something real to add to the images her mind would conjur. Buffy was struck with the sudden, overwhelming desire to work herself into an exhausted, dreamless state.
“Oh, Buffy,” Joyce bemoaned, dismayed, “I didn't even think--I suppose it was a little inconvenient of me to force a late dinner on you--both of you, wasn't it?”
“It's fine,” Buffy flicked a glance to her left, “Right, Faith?”
“Yeah, of course,” Faith shrugged, “We needed food, too.”
“See?” Buffy pointed her fork at Faith, then across the table at Joyce, “No harm done.”
“Well, then,” Joyce accepted that gracefully, “What do you think of my idea?”
“Mmm,” Buffy bobbed her head a little, “Versus leaving him to run the streets at will, I choose death by arrow, ‘cause I'm sure as fu-- fudge , not getting close to one of them ever again.”
“That's good to hear,” Joyce breathed a sigh of relief, “I don't want you near another one either, but I thought for sure, with Mr. Giles mentioning that they were pacifists--”
“Yeah,” Buffy interrupted, grimacing as she took a drink of water, “Usually, that would be a no-go, but there was nothing passive about what I could've done. I won't run the risk of him... assaulting someone who doesn't have something a little extra to keep them in line when the cravings hit.”
Joyce blanched and Buffy couldn't meet her gaze. She set her cup aside and retrieved her fork, poking at the remainder of the cheesy broccoli and penne pasta Joyce had fixed up. Now that she'd actually given voice to it, Buffy felt the shame washing over her, making her feel ill. She'd come so, so close, to maybe doing something she never could have made right...she'd wanted to. The only thing that had kept her from doing so had been the Slayer, and her sudden fixation on Faith.
The anger was a welcome reprieve, and she shoved back from the table, “I--I'm sorry, I can't--”
“Buffy, where are you going?” Joyce called after her.
She heard Faith's chair clatter against the floor and then a hand grabbed her shoulder, just under the archway that lead into the living room. Buffy's heart stuttered as she abruptly pulled up short, and then her lips pulled back in a sneer as she glanced over her shoulder at Faith's hand. Buffy's gaze drifted up to meet Faith's and she saw the wounds as Faith's eyes reflected the direct hit. She was struck by the guilt, but it was so the wrong time for Faith to test her control like this.
Faith reared back, bringing her hands up, “Right back at the beginnin', huh?”
Forcing herself to take a steadying breath, Buffy gritted her teeth, “ No , but I can't do this... thing between us right now, Faith. I can't ! He's still out there, and I can't let him do this to--”
“The only thing keepin' you on your feet right now is the Slayer, B,” Faith interrupted, “Look at you, from the way your hands are shakin' to the way your eyes can't stay focused for a second. The only thing you can't do right now is hit the broadside of a barn with a fuckin' rocket launcher.”
Buffy buried her face in her trembling hands. Her eyes stung with tears and she jerked away from Faith, running her hands over her head as she stared up at the ceiling. She was wrestling with the intensity of her anger and the Slayer's response to the thought of the demon still running around. She wanted to hunt, she wanted to maim, she wanted to destroy--she still wanted to kiss Faith.
She rounded on Faith, grabbing fistfuls of her shirt. Faith caught her wrists in a vice-grip and they froze, locked in a stand-off. Buffy was painfully aware of Joyce, standing off to the side, watching in terrified silence. Buffy shook her head roughly, blinking away the tears that clouded her vision.
“Do you even get it yet, Faith?” Buffy's voice was a guttural sound, and she could see it crawling over Faith's skin, raising bumps all down her arms, “If you'd stayed in that bathroom a moment longer, I wouldn't have waited for your submission . I would have raped you. And if hadn't been you, if it had been Xander, or Will, even Giles , or--or anyone else, I would've killed them.”
“You think I didn't know that as soon as you looked at me in there, B?” Faith asked softly, “I've lived with abusers who had that look in their eyes every time they saw me.”
“Then why? ”
Buffy knew Faith was well aware of who was driving her body yesterday. Faith had deliberately antagonized her until the Slayer broke, and she'd known exactly how to do it. The Slayer had even recognized what Faith was doing, she just hadn't cared. Buffy knew Faith was attracted to her, it was mutual from the start, a fact which The Slayer had enjoyed taunting Faith with. What Buffy didn't understand was why Faith had submitted, when she knew The Slayer always drove Faith. If the tables had been reversed, as they had once with Xander, Buffy would've fought, hard . Too, Buffy couldn't understand how Faith was suddenly so in control, when Buffy felt so out of it.
“The Slayer takes what she wants, B,” Faith shrugged casually, “That's me, not you, ‘til yesterday. I gave in when you lost control ‘cause someone had to, and I didn't want it to be anyone else.”
That , Buffy did understand. During the course of the conversation, Buffy's fists had relaxed against Faith's upper chest, and she now watched her hands smooth the wrinkles from her shirt. The shaking was even more evident now. Blinking slowly, Buffy dragged her eyes up.
“I feel like I slipped my skin, exposing every nerve, Faith,” She breathed.
“I know,” Faith's eyes were warm.
“How am I supposed to sleep like this?” Buffy's expression was deeply pained as she tried to explain, “I can't--he's out there doing who knows what to who knows who. I can't--”
“B,” Faith interrupted as she rubbed Buffy's arms briskly, “Just go upstairs, throw back one of those magic sleepin' pills G gave us, and knock yourself out, alright?”
“They do work like magic, don't they?” Buffy smiled halfheartedly.
“Go to sleep, B,” Faith kissed her forehead, causing her eyes to flutter shut, “I'll help Mrs. S. clean up, and see if she wouldn't mind givin' me a ride back since G flaked out on dinner.”
Something occurred to Buffy and she winced apologetically, “Faith? I'm pretty sure she has no intentions of ever letting you go back to the Downtowner, just so you know.”
Startled, Faith glanced over at Joyce, “Is that so?”
Joyce smiled bravely, “Well, I--I must admit the idea has crossed my mind. Those rooms really aren't suitable housing for anyone in this town, let alone a young woman on her own.”
“Thanks for the concern, Mrs. S., but I can handle myself,” Faith drawled.
“I'm aware,” Joyce said dryly, “But I'd feel so much better if you'd think about staying here.”
“You guys don't even have the space. Pretty sure B ain't up to sharin', even if you'd let her.”
“We have a guest bedroom down the hall from the bathroom,” Joyce countered smoothly.
Inwardly, Faith smiled at the irony. She'd been so close to just walking out on these people, and they chose now to start changing things up? She was too damned tired to deal with any of this. The body heat coming off of Buffy shifted closer and Faith glanced back at the woman leaning into her.
“Stay, please?” Those hazel eyes were begging, “You guys can argue this out tomorrow. I'm so afraid of going to sleep right now, Faith. I'd feel better if you stayed over.”
She should say no. She should ignore both sets of hazel eyes that were staring at her expectantly and just walk home. She still fully expected that this whole thing was going to wind up cutting so deep it would never heal. She should, but Faith generally wasn't very good at doing what she should do, which was why she kept getting hurt by people. She should ...but she needed Buffy.
Shaking her head in disbelief, Faith ran a hand through her hair, “Where am I sleepin'?”
“I, um--I made up my bed and cleaned up my room while you were in the shower,” Buffy offered weakly, suddenly unable to meet Faith's gaze, “O--or not. The bed in the guest room is comfy.”
To Be Continued in Chapter Twelve
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