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Chapter Three: Grill
The door rattled in the frame under the constant assault from a heavy hand. Faith leaned up on her elbow, peering through the darkness at her alarm clock in confusion. It was after three AM, and most vampires and demons had already crawled back in their holes. The slimeball manager of the Downtowner wouldn't dare be out this late, and plus, he was definitely male .
“Fuck off,” She snarled.
“Faith, please, it's Joyce Summers,” She sounded frantic, “Open up, please.”
Faith sat up further, her eyes wide, “Mrs. S.?”
She rolled out of bed and stumbled to the door. Jerking the door open as far as the chain would allow, she peered out. Joyce Summers stood there, dressed in a bathrobe. Faith read the relief in her expression, and she shut the door to unbolt the locks and the chain to open up for her.
“The f--,” Faith cringed, stopping herself, “What are you doin' here?”
“Oh, thank God, Faith,” Joyce breathed.
“Yeah, yeah. Thank Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, and all the Saints and Angels preserve us,” Faith grumbled like a true Irish Catholic, “Now get in here before you get put on tonight's menu.”
She turned her back on Joyce and stalked over to the bed to get dressed. She could almost feel the embarrassment pouring off of Joyce as she closed the motel room door. Faith scooped her jeans up off the floor and hopped on one leg for a moment, then switched to the other leg as she pulled them up. Grabbing a shirt off of the corner of the dresser, she jerked it on over her head.
“I--I apologize for bothering you, Faith, but i--it couldn't be helped.”
“I'm sure, Mrs. S., because why else would anyone come to my home away from Hell?” Faith shrugged as she faced her, pulling up the zipper of her jeans, “What's up?”
Faith was dismayed when Joyce burst into tears. She hated crying. It was the reason she never took any women into her bed. They were too clingy, and they got emotional about everything.
“Hey, come on now,” Faith hesitantly reached out to the distraught woman, grabbing her shoulders to guide her to sit down on the foot of her bed, “What's this all about?”
“Oh, Faith,” Joyce sobbed, “It's horrible.”
Faith cringed when Joyce flung herself against her, hugging her with a surprising strength as her tears soaked into Faith's shirt. Her hands hovered over Joyce's back uncertainly as she grimaced in discomfort. A thought slowly occurred to Faith's sleepy mind and she pulled Joyce closer, the Slayer coming awake in agitation. There was only one reason Joyce Summers would be there.
“ Fuck ,” Faith muttered, “I told her she needed to get that fuckin' bite checked out.”
“Wh--what?” Joyce stammered.
Joyce pulled away and Faith rocked back on her heels. Joyce was suddenly more alert, and Faith almost squirmed under that regard. She began to stand as Joyce wiped away her tears, and then she froze. Leaning forward, Faith tenderly probed the bruised cut above Joyce's left eyebrow.
“What happened, Mrs. S?”
“Oh,” Joyce lifted a hand to her brow, “I--I forgot.”
“It's mostly just bruised,” Faith reassured her, “But I need you to tell me what happened.”
Faith was all business. Something had happened, and she needed to know. If something had happened to...Faith pushed that thought down. She clamped down on her instincts, hard.
“I don't know,” Joyce said helplessly, “I heard the bathroom door slam, and I went to check it out. I was afraid something had happened to Buffy. When I got there, the light was off, so I started to open the door, and Buffy slammed it shut. It--I hit my head against the door because I wasn't expecting her to do that, Faith. Why did she? What's wrong with my daughter?”
Faith ran a hand through her sleep-tousled hair, “I don't know, Mrs. S. She got bit on patrol last night. They weren't vampires, but they looked human, except for those freaky ass eyes.”
“She was bitten?” Joyce's expression darkened, “Why didn't you tell anyone?”
“Hey, I freakin' told her she should go let Giles get a look at it,” Faith held up her hands defensively, “I don't know if you noticed, Mrs. S., but B doesn't exactly listen to me.”
Faith pressed her lips together tightly to keep from saying anything else. She wasn't going to take the blame for whatever bug was up Buffy's ass, but she liked Joyce most of the time. Buffy's mom might've only cared about Faith because she was a Slayer, but at least she showed some interest. Faith knew Joyce was the only reason Buffy kept asking her to dinner, and she was also pretty sure Joyce was slipping cash into her jacket pocket every time she went over to their house. That, or Faith had a fairy godmother flying around, slipping her a fifty every Friday night.
Fuck , Faith cursed internally.
Sometimes she wondered why she even stuck around. The Greek freak was dust now, so she had no real reason to stay in Sunnydale. It wasn't like Buffy's groupies would even notice she was gone, at least not until Buffy started whining about being the Chosen One again. Faith had even thought about it, just hopping the next bus out, but she just couldn't go through with it.
It had nothing to do with being a Slayer. Faith was terrified of being alone. She hated that part of herself, because it always got her hurt in the end. Sometimes she resented Buffy because she kept complaining about being alone, when she didn't even know the meaning. Sometimes Faith looked at Buffy and she ached, and it made Faith so unbelievably angry at herself. Buffy was probably the last person she needed, but she was also the only person Faith actually wanted.
“ Fuck ,” Faith repeated aloud.
Ignoring Joyce's startled look, Faith returned her attention to the issue at hand. She grabbed for her black boots and sat down in the floor. Pulling her socks out of the boots, she pulled them on, then shoved her feet into the boots. She glanced up at Joyce as she tightened her laces.
“Have you called Giles yet?”
“Y--yes,” Joyce exhaled shakily, “Buffy asked me to, so I did, but she won't even come out of the bathroom or let us in. Neither of us can get her to say much of anything, and she sounds so...so angry , and crazed . She keeps calling me mom every time she speaks to me, and calling Mr. Giles Watcher Mine , and she says it as if she's trying to remind herself who we are. We just barely managed to get it out of her that she patrolled with you last night, so I came out to get you, and Mr. Giles stayed there with her in case there was any change in her condition.”
Deeply unsettled, Faith swallowed tightly, “Alright, just let me clean up in the bathroom real quick, Mrs. S. I'll go talk to Giles and see if we can't get B sorted out and back to normal.”
“What's wrong with her, Faith?” Joyce repeated tearfully.
“I don't know,” Faith shrugged helplessly.
“Faith, thank God Joyce found you,” Giles breathed.
He was waiting at the bottom of the stairs. Obviously, things hadn't gotten worse, but they weren't any better. He looked exhausted, and it was a little weird to see him in jeans and a denim button up instead of a tweed suit. Faith nodded at him absently, glancing up the stairs.
“She still up there?”
“Yes, has Joyce told you--”
“Yeah,” Faith interrupted, “B flipped her shit.”
“I--I suppose you could put it that way, yes,” Giles made a face, “I was hoping you could shed some light on the situation for us, Faith. You were on patrol with Buffy last night, correct?”
“Is Buffy okay, Mr. Giles?” Joyce cut in, distressed, “Should she be left alone?”
“I believe she has fallen asleep,” Giles hastened to reassure her, “She stopped responding to my questions and I still could not get in, but the noises of distress eased off. I thought we should retreat to the living room to keep from disturbing her any more than we have to.”
“Right,” Joyce agreed, hesitant.
Faith was here in her house. Buffy could feel her as she woke, like a phantom brushing up against her senses, and it brought a sultry half-smile to Buffy's lips. The wound in her shoulder pulsated hotly and Buffy clutched at it, gasping as the fire and ice in her veins flared awake again. Buffy panicked, the arousal twisting her insides until the agony threatened to make her scream.
Buffy scrambled across the tiled floor on her hands and knees. Desperately, she turned the shower on, full blast, and tumbled into the bathtub. She cringed under the sudden deluge of freezing cold water, her lips pulling back in a silent snarl. It did nothing to dampen her arousal, and Buffy felt her control dwindling, slowly giving free reign to something darker...to the Slayer.
“Yeah, not so much,” Faith was saying in response to Giles, “I ran into her at Lakeshore Cemetery, y'know, the one across from the lake? Sometime ‘round eleven, I think.”
“Yes, yes,” Giles nodded, “That's your usual route, isn't it?”
“Yeah,” Faith shifted, her gaze flicking to the stairs briefly as she heard water rushing through the pipes to the bathroom, “B doesn't go to that end of town all that often, so I don't know why she was there, but I found her, and she was gettin' her ass handed to her. One guy was holdin' her from behind, and the other one was leanin' in towards her. I figured they were vamps, but I didn't realize he was bitin' her ‘til he pulled away after I shoved my stake through his heart.”
“Oh--oh dear,” Giles paled, “She was bitten?”
“Yeah,” Faith gestured at Joyce, who sat in the recliner adjacent to the couch, “Like I told Mrs. S., I told B she probably should let you get a look at it ‘cause we didn't know anything about those guys, or what their bite might do to her, but she really wasn't interested.”
“They weren't vampires? You are certain?” Giles demanded, his eyes intent as he leaned in towards Faith, “How much do you recall about them, Faith? Anything, even something that seemed insignificant, could assist us in finding a solution to whatever is ailing Buffy.”
“I know vamps, G,” Faith shrugged casually, “These two weren't. They looked like a couple of hot pieces of humanity, except their eyes were silver, or maybe blue, and their skin was almost see-through. I think they must have been pretty strong, too, ‘cause I know B was goin' at ‘em full Slayer, but neither of them even cared. They didn't notice me ‘til I pulled the smaller guy off of her, and he ran off after I killed the big guy. They didn't put up a fight.”
Giles gazed at her calculatingly, and Faith hated it. She felt like he was weighing her words for the truth. She shifted again on the couch and leaned back, meeting his gaze squarely. She had nothing to hide here, and she remembered abruptly how sick she was of everyone and their superior attitudes.
“The bite was pretty fuckin' nasty,” Faith ignored Joyce's dismayed expression and continued with her graphic description, “There was blood all over, and he must've slobbered all over her, ‘cause I could still see his spit, even with all the blood. I told B she needed to let you get a look at it, but after she looked at me like I was lower than the fuckheads that attacked her, I just said fuck it.”
That brought Giles up short. He obviously wasn't sure how to respond to Faith's thoughts on Buffy's treatment of her. Faith didn't care. His golden girl could fuck off and so could he. Faith studiously ignored the inner voice that reminded her of where she was, and why she was there.
“I--I see, Faith,” Giles stammered, forging ahead, “Did you happen to notice their teeth, whether they were serrated, or pointed, or if they were blunted?”
“Yeah, you see ,” Faith sneered and answered acidly, “I didn't pry his mouth open to get a look at his grill, but the damage looked more like a human bite than a vampire's or a demon's.”
“What were they?” Joyce spoke up, lost, “What did they do to Buffy?”
“I--I'm not certain,” Giles looked deeply frustrated, “I wish I could get a look at the bite, that would go a long way to assist me in figuring out what I need to look for in the books.”
“Not happenin', G,” Faith laughed humorlessly, “If B locked herself in, it's for a reason.”
“Would she let you in, Faith?” Joyce asked suddenly.
To Be Continued in Chapter Four
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