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Chapter Twelve: Life
The sleeping pill was already kicking in by the time Buffy stumbled into her room. It was with a deep sense of anxiety that she got herself settled between the pale green sheets. Her skin still felt raw to the touch, like she'd been scalded or flash-fried, and her insides throbbed dully, aching. She'd managed to push the discomfort to the back of her mind by will alone up to this point.
Buffy fought off the creeping lethargy as she waited for Faith to return from downstairs. It hadn't taken any persuasion to get Joyce to agree to let them sleep in the same room. Buffy was almost convinced her mother would have agreed to anything as long as it got Faith to stay. Faith was the one who had reservations, and though mortified, Buffy was thankful Joyce had intervened.
“Actually, Faith, it may be for the best. If she were to relapse...”
“Pretty sure G would've said if that could happen, but whatever. I'll stay.”
“Hey,” Faith's voice broke in.
“Mmm-hmm,” Buffy murmurred.
On her side, Buffy watched Faith through slitted eyes. Faith lingered in the doorway, fidgeting. She still wore Buffy's Sunnydale High gym shirt, but she now wore the matching, yellow cotton shorts with the school logo on the right thigh. Buffy plucked at the sheet covering her, smiling faintly.
“Mom gone to bed yet?”
“Yeah,” Faith gestured over her shoulder, “She wasn't downstairs when I checked the locks.”
“You...checked the locks?” Buffy quirked an eyebrow.
Faith shrugged, “Habit.”
“Right,” Buffy said slowly, “A good one as far as habits go, I guess.”
Faith's eyes darted away for a moment, then she smiled wryly and entered the room. She closed the door gently, pausing to brush her hand over the crack in the painted surface. Making a face, she locked the bedroom door, and then finally went to the bed. She hesitated again, fingering the sheet.
“So, I'm sorry about the door, for what it's worth,” She offered cautiously.
“It's okay,” Buffy grinned, “For what it's worth, I'm sorry about your back.”
Faith snorted softly, “As you should be. You need to clip those talons of yours, B.”
“I meant the bruising,” Buffy corrected her drowsily, “But that too.”
Faith pulled the sheet back and threw herself onto the bed face first. She froze, sneezing softly, then turned her head and glanced sideways at Buffy. Her eyebrows were furrowed so deeply it made Buffy giggle. Buffy burrowed further under the sheets until only her head was visible.
“Don't say it.” Buffy warned.
“B, your room smells like someone had sex in a Walmart cleanin' aisle.”
“I told you not to say it,” She paused, “Besides, you would know this, how?”
Faith eyed her in amusement, “You're seriously goin' to ask me that?”
Buffy made a face, “Yeah, never mind.”
“Ugh,” Faith groaned, “I stole one of your sleepers, B. Probably goin' to pass out soon.”
“I'm pretty sure I'm not even really awake anymore.”
Faith grabbed the sheet and they play fought over it for a minute before Buffy let go, allowing Faith to draw the sheet back as if to check. Buffy sneered at her. They dissolved into laughter. The exhaustion cut in, causing them to trail off into a warm, contented state of sleepy grins and closed eyes.
Still chuckling, Faith rolled over and curled herself around Buffy. She pressed her face between Buffy's shoulder blades and exhaled slowly, causing Buffy to shiver. Buffy's eyes snapped open again and she peered at the headboard in the darkness, puzzled. She lay completely still for the longest, even after she felt the tension drain out of Faith, until she couldn't stay awake any longer.
Morning broke, and she woke to find that they'd shifted a little in their sleep. Faith's warm weight holding her down on the mattress was a tangible reminder that yesterday really happened. Buffy kept her eyes closed, taking stock of the situation. She still didn't feel right in her skin, and the bite mark still ached faintly, but most of the bruises were gone, and her head didn't hurt so much.
Faith stirred, stretching, and Buffy's breath caught in her throat. Faith's arms slid underneath her upper body, hooking underneath Buffy's shoulders, drawing their bodies impossibly closer. Faith's breasts dug into Buffy's shoulder blades and Buffy was intensely aware of the leg that slipped between her thighs. A familiar pulse settled in her belly, and Buffy bit her lip in disbelief.
“Faith?” Buffy said hoarsely.
“Mmm,” Faith pressed a kiss to Buffy's neck, “Mornin', B.”
The whiskey on the rocks tone washed over Buffy's senses like a waterfall and the throbbing spread lower. Gentle kisses trailed up her neck, across her jaw, the corner of her mouth, and she was trapped between panic and arousal. Faith's lips captured hers and Buffy cried out softly into her mouth. Faith broke off, and Buffy opened her eyes to find concerned brown eyes watching her.
“Hey,” Faith brushed the hair off her cheek, “Too much?”
“I'm sorry, Faith,” Buffy breathed, “I can't...not right now.”
Faith rolled off of her onto the other side of the bed and Buffy stared at her, helpless. Her lips were tingling from the contact and she ached to take control of Faith's mouth again. At the same time, the thought terrified her. Grabbing Faith's hand, Buffy pressed a kiss to her knuckles.
“I'm sorry,” She repeated plaintively.
“It's alright,” Faith smiled faintly, “You have school in like, thirty minutes, anyway.”
“Ugh,” Buffy groaned.
She rolled over and looked at the clock. It was 7:30, and just then, the alarm blared awake. Buffy reached over and turned it off. Sitting up reluctantly, she glanced back down at Faith.
“Are you coming by the school today?”
“Probably,” Faith shrugged, “Need to see if G has anything helpful on those guys.”
“Right,” Buffy's eyebrows furrowed.
She was disappointed. She'd had no reason to expect anything different from Faith, but oddly enough, she realized that she had. The bed dipped and a hand settled on the inside of her thigh, grabbing her attention. Buffy felt a little jolt and met eyes that danced with amusement.
“Besides, I have to be there in case you relapse ,” Faith grinned wickedly, “Can't have the Slayer mentally scarrin' Red and Xander or benchin' the football and basketball teams.”
“Oh, God,” Buffy whimpered, closing her eyes, “Don't even joke.”
“Mmm, breakfast smells good, Mrs. S.”
“Thank you, Faith,” Joyce glanced over her shoulder, “Would you mind setting the breakfast bar for us? I know Buffy usually helps you, but mornings are a little pressed for time around here.”
“Nah,” Faith shrugged, “It's fine.”
Faith entered the kitchen with an ease born of familiarity. She never had breakfast there, but she'd been eating dinner with them at least twice a week for a couple of months now. It showed as she maneuvered around Joyce to retrieve plates from the cabinet on the other side of the sink. When she needed to get the glasses, Joyce moved aside to let her at the cabinet by the stove. Faith finished setting out the utensils, then she went to peer over Joyce's shoulder at breakfast.
“Blueberry pancakes?” She asked, intrigued.
“Normally we stick to the quicker stuff, but I thought you could both use something more substantial this morning,” Joyce offered Faith one from the stack in the plate on the counter, smiling indulgently, “There's plenty, plus there's a couple of things in the microwave.”
“Thanks, Mrs. S.,” Faith grinned around a mouthful, “These are great.”
“You're welcome, Faith. Could you set the food and the juice out? I'm almost done here.”
Buffy paused in the entryway, fascinated by the scene before her. Her mom was standing at the stove, cooking blueberry pancakes and...Buffy sniffed delicately, bacon and hashbrowns. Faith, well, she was moving around their kitchen like she belonged there. Buffy decided not to look too closely at that, because the Slayer was quite clear about how much she wanted Faith there.
“Morning, Mom,” Buffy offered as she slid onto a stool at the bar, “What's the occasion?”
“Feedin' the beasts,” Faith threw a piece of food at her, “What's with the shirt?”
Buffy caught the projectile, narrowing her eyes at Faith as she bit into the short strip of bacon. Abruptly, she glanced down at the shirt, wondering what was wrong with it. It was an off-white sleeveless Cashmere mock turtleneck, and she thought it displayed her toned arms and upper body nicely. She'd picked it because it covered the bandage on her neck. It would get unbearably hot as soon as she went outside, but she wasn't interested in giving the rumor mill more fuel.
“I think it looks nice,” Joyce interjected as she joined them, switching the last batch of pancakes from the pan to the plate and setting the pan aside on a pot rag, “Don't you, Faith?”
Buffy flushed as Faith gave her a slow once over. An easy, sultry smile spread across Faith's lips and Buffy wished they were at the table where she could kick Faith. Failing that, she wished a hole would open up and swallow her. She paused, desperately hoping the Hellmouth ignored her.
“Well, yeah, obvs,” Faith drawled, amused, “But if you're hopin' to keep everyone's attention off of you, you've already failed. That sweater in West Coast weather? Screams cover up, B.”
“Well, if anyone asks, I'll just tell them I was bitten by a rabid female dog,” Buffy smiled sweetly.
“Ouch, B,” Faith laughed softly, “Did you just call me a bitch?”
“If the shirt fits,” Buffy eyed Faith, “Or doesn't, in this case.”
Faith was wearing one of Buffy's white tank tops now, and it was just shy of obscene. If she hadn't taken Buffy's suggestion of a bra, there wouldn't have been anything shy about it. Joyce cleared her throat and Buffy closed her eyes, dropping her head forward as she groaned. This was going to be the death of her...and she was still waiting for her mother to go off on her about the damages.
“I'm aware that you're teens,” Joyce said carefully, “I'm sure this incident is complicating things, and I won't jump your case for your language, but I do expect you to behave yourselves now.”
“Of course,” Buffy agreed, strangled.
“Sure thing, Mrs. S.,” Faith chimed in.
“Good,” Joyce smiled and raised an eyebrow as she added, “Then I won't need the water hose.”
Buffy looked Joyce, alarmed. The eyebrow went higher, and she realized her mother was deadly serious. Faith burst into laughter and Buffy just closed her eyes again, resigned. This was her life.
To Be Continued in Chapter Thirteen
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