It was a beautiful spring day in Sunnydale, the kind of day that made a person glad they averted apocalypses for a living. The sight of a damage-free, peaceful campus almost made up for the recent news that she was going to have to retake Psych 101 next fall. Professor Walsh’s Parthian shot, Willow had called it. After all, if someone kills your soulless, fully-grown demon child, the least you can do is posthumously fail them.
Unfortunately, there was no way around it. She couldn’t imagine the dean would believe the truth, and even her mom seemed just a little bit suspicious. God, there was a conversation she never wanted to have again.
To be honest though, Buffy couldn’t bring herself to care all that much. The world had been saved. Adam wasn’t rampaging through Southern California turning people into monsters. Plus, all of her friends were still very much alive and actually speaking to her again.
So, that was nice.
Oh, and after being ‘together’ for several months, she and Faith were officially a thing now. Like an honest-to-god thing, with the telling of everyone including her mom and Giles. That kind of thing.
And still her friends hadn’t shunned her. Not even Willow.
So, the Scoobies were back together, fall semester was months away, and she had a girlfriend who was amazingly beautiful and confident, a bit crass and easy to anger, but also surprisingly sweet and thoughtful when she thought no one was looking.
Yeah, life was good.
And, she mused, blushing at the vivid memories of the previous night, the sex was better than good. Almost suspiciously so, in fact. Like sometimes she wondered if the demon aspect that went into making a slayer was in Faith’s case some kind of sex demon.
It was a good theory, she thought.
Regardless, the reality of having to retake Psych could hit her later, preferably way later, like, the very end of summer later.
Until then, she deserved a few months to bask in her not-death.
And Faith would definitely help her with that.
As she continued across the field, Buffy considered inviting Willow and Tara to join her for lunch, or maybe she could try to rouse Faith from her slumber. Actually, on second thought, scratch that. She didn’t want to take the risk of getting punched. After so many nights together, it was quickly becoming apparent that Faith needed approximately fourteen hours of sleep per night… or day… or whatever.
So naturally, the absolute last thing she expected to see that morning was Faith stomping through the grass in her direction, dressed in her usual slaying outfit of a white tank-top and tight leather pants, complete with what she called "shit-kicker" boots. It was the Faith Lehane equivalent of a full suit of armor, and certainly a very imposing sight when coupled with the determination in her stride, the fierce look in her eyes... and, bizarrely, the baseball bat grasped in her right hand.
Unconsciously, Buffy tilted her head. It was way too early for vamps or demons - she checked her watch - it was also way too early for Faith for that matter. 11:45 in the A.M. Seeing her actually out and about when the sun was so high in the sky was bordering on the surreal.
Buffy stood there, expecting, well, something... but Faith kept her head down and passed right by without a word, or indeed, any indication that she had even noticed her.
Stopping and looking over her shoulder, Faith's eyes lit up in recognition. She waved a hand, the one not holding the baseball bat. "Sup, B," she said with a grin, but then kept right on walking.
"Uh..." Ok, that never happened; not since they started dating, hell, not even before they started dating. Besides, Buffy was looking good today - damn good, if she did say so herself - definitely deserving of more than a 'Sup, B'.
Dashing up to her, Buffy struggled to keep in step with Faith as the woman marched across the campus green. "Faith? Where are you going?"
Her eyes remained fixed on some unseen target. "Baseball."
Buffy frowned. For one thing, the field was in the complete opposite direction, and for another, she had never seen Faith play any sort of sport in her life, unless their nightly vampire slaying competition counted. "Baseball?"
"Yeah,” she grumbled, not looking as though she were paying her any attention. “Figured I'd join the Red Sox. Probably the only way they'll ever win another World Series."
Ok, now it was clear that Buffy was officially being fucked with. "Faith..."
The woman slowed to a more normal pace, and finally bestowed Buffy the favor of a glance in her direction. "Look, B. I'm just gonna make a little social call. Won't take long."
"A social call," Buffy repeated.
"With a baseball bat."
That got her to stop. For a moment, her eyes darted nervously back and forth, like she was seriously considering making a break for it, but then Faith simply sighed, ran a hand through her hair and finally gave Buffy her full attention. "It's a favor, for a friend."
"Right,” Buffy drawled, narrowing her eyes. “A favor involving a baseball bat."
"Is this an R-rated favor?"
Faith laughed. "I'm kinky, but not that kinky, B,” she said with a waggle of her eyebrows.
Buffy made a face. No matter what, Faith would always be superior at one thing: the act of turning absolutely anything Buffy said into something sexual. It was a gift. And however people might’ve combined sex and baseball bats, she really, really didn’t want to know the specifics. "I meant R, as in extreme violence."
"Stuff might get broken,” Faith replied, running a hand along the smooth wooden surface. "But see, virtually spotless. Hardly been used. PG-13, tops."
Buffy crossed her arms. It took a moment, but eventually Faith's expression fell with the realization that she had given too much away. "You've done this before," Buffy said flatly. It was not a question.
"Well, uh... yeah. Couple-a times."
"Great," Buffy announced to the empty field surrounding them. "My girlfriend is going around beating people with baseball bats."
Faith loved it when she used the “g” word, especially in a public setting where anyone could be listening, but her eyes were pinned to the ground. She looked utterly guilty as charged.
"It's good money though," she mumbled, grimacing at the hole she was digging herself.
"Good money?!" Buffy screeched.
Eyes widening comically, Faith quickly went into damage control mode, holding out her hands like she had been cornered by a raging bear. Any calming sensation this might have produced was ruined by the fact that she was still holding that damn bat in her hands. “I mean the job, not the beating people up thing.”
Buffy was fuming. Maybe everyone had come to terms with Faith's return to the side of good, but something like this was bound to reopen some seriously old wounds, and not just in a figurative sense. "Exactly what kind of job is this anyway?"
"It's sort of a self-employment deal," Faith answered, scratching the back of her head. "People got problems, and they pay me to solve them."
That sounded remarkably… ambitious, to be honest, not that she would ever let Faith know that. The woman's ego was enormous enough already. "Well, whatever it is, it sounds extremely sketchy."
Faith shook her head. “It's not! It’s just, yunno, a service I’m providing. No one else can help these people. So, I’m filling a hole,” she smiled at her own innuendo. “Anyway, I’m sorry, B, but I promised I’d have this done by twelve. I really need to get going…”
Shaking her head as Faith made to walk away, Buffy quickly grabbed her by the upper arm and reeled her back in.
"B? Wha -" Anything else she might’ve said was silenced by Buffy’s lips.
When all else failed, there was one sure-fire way to focus Faith’s attention and keep her out of trouble, or at least out of the kind of trouble that usually ended in a trip to the police station.
When their lips broke apart, Faith tensed as Buffy continued slowly across her cheek, kissing as she went, and reveling in the increasingly heavy breaths the woman was taking. Whatever Faith was planning must’ve been really important to her. She was never this passive. Buffy kept their bodies pressed together, lest Faith try to squirm away, and whispering between nibbles to her neck, "I want you to be good, Faith."
"Fuck," the woman rasped, quickly unravelling as her free hand bunched up Buffy's shirt. "I'll be good for ya, B. I'll be so fucking good."
She smiled into Faith's burning skin, feeling the tension as the slayer struggled to control herself. The fact that she could take this beautiful woman - always so confident in her sexuality - and reduce her to incoherence with a few well-placed touches. Well, it lit a fire in her, one that never seemed to go out. It made her feel strong, and beautiful, and loved. "Not like that, I mean outside of bed."
Faith moaned, her pulse racing, as Buffy sniffed at her recently washed hair. She always smelled so damn good. "Anywhere you want, B. You can drag me around campus on a leash, or walk over top of me in high-heels. Fuck, I'll wait under your desk and go down on you during class if you want."
'Ok, wow.' None of these ideas were compatible with the whole keep-out-of-trouble philosophy she was going for these days. Though, yeah, the mental images they conjured were very much appreciated.
Except for the high-heels thing. That sounded painful.
"No, Faith,” Buffy breathed into her ear, tugging lightly at the woman’s hair with just a hint of steel in her voice. “I don't want getting into any more trouble."
Now there was definitely whimpering, and the sound of wood splintering. She would need to be careful. When Faith got worked up like this, it didn’t take much to push her over the edge. She was actually rather self-conscious about it. "I don't understand what you want, B."
Buffy's tone remained sweet, but authoritative. "I want you to not hit anyone with that bat."
Another slight tug and Faith's breath hitched. "Faith. Remember what the officer said… and the school counselor, and Giles, and-"
"Yeah, yeah," she whined. "I get it. I’ve got anger issues." Granted, much of Buffy’s concern was for her girlfriend’s well-being, but it was also hard to sit down at the dinner table with her mom only to have her ask, ‘So, what’s Faith been up to lately?’ and having to answer, ‘Uh, well, she kinda went to jail for beating up a bunch of guys with a baseball bat.’
It made for some seriously awkward dinner conversation.
But really, this was for Faith’s own good.
She finally pulled back, leaving Faith breathless and Buffy quite pleased with herself.
"Wasn't gonna hit nobody," she pouted, letting the bat fall to the grass. Faith grumbled when she noticed the little cracks in the handle that hadn’t been there before. “Shit.”
Buffy chuckled. "Ok, so you run a service..."
Faith kept her eyes on the ground. "Yeah. I help out people who've got relationship problems. College girls, mostly."
"With a bat."
"Yeah, well, the bat's mostly for show," Faith said with a tiny smile, her skin still flushed. Strands of hair covered her eyes. It made Buffy want to run her hands through it again.
"It’s for bringing in the clients. Lets them know I’m prepared to get shit done. Plus, it, yunno, scares people."
Faith hardly needed a blunt instrument for that, but Buffy wasn't about to argue the point. "Uh huh. And what kind of relationship problems are you supposed to be solving?"
"The usual shit, mostly. Boyfriends sleeping around with other girls."
"In that case I think it would be better if your client just dumped the guy."
"Agreed, but there's always more to it than that. Some of these guys just go from girl to girl, freshmen ones mostly, no better than predators. Others spread rumors, talking shit and ruining reputations. It's a joke to them." Faith's expression grew hard. "They act like you're their best friend, but they only care about what they can stick their dick in."
"I see..." Judging by her expression, chances were pretty high that Faith was speaking from experience.
"But the worst ones are the guys that just can’t take a hint, the future stalkers and abusers of America." There was that anger again. She definitely did not need the bat. "These girls aren’t like us, B. They can’t punch a guy and make the problem go away."
Buffy swallowed and nodded. She remembered how helpless she'd felt when her powers had been taken from her last year. She'd run in to help Cordelia who was being harassed by one of those guys Faith was talking about, only to be knocked down like she was a doll.
Faith continued, “And I offer special rates for people dealing with homophobic classmates, or yunno, other fucked up shit.”
“Very noble.” And to be honest, it actually kind of was.
"Yep!” Faith said, pleased with herself, any anger gone as quickly as it appeared. “So, the client gives me the deets, and I just pay these people a visit and encourage them to stop whatever it is they’re doing."
"By putting the fear of god into them?"
She shrugged. "Well, the fear of Faith. But yeah, same diff."
Buffy shook her head and laughed.
"I also offer counseling for a discounted rate," Faith added, grinning.
"Sure. Some people just need someone to talk to."
Buffy was having a hard time picturing that, but then, Faith had to do something to pass the time in between slaying, sleeping, and the, uh, various other activities they got into together. She must’ve gotten up a lot earlier than Buffy realized. "And these would be the same girls who were willing to hire a woman with a baseball bat to terrify their exes?"
Another shrug. "The world's a strange place."
True enough, she thought. Until Faith rolled into town, Buffy would’ve considered herself the straightest girl in the universe. A year later and she was publicly making out with the kind of woman who terrifies people with a baseball bat for a little extra spending cash.
“Besides," Faith added, "believe it or not, not every problem can be solved with violence.”
They smiled knowingly at each other. Their entire relationship was a testament to that fact.
Any remaining outrage had long since left her. “How did you come up with this idea anyway?”
“Uh, well, nah…” Faith looked away. “You’re gonna laugh at me.”
Buffy slipped a hand under Faith's shirt, pulling lightly at the bra strap - black of course - and smiled up at her. “Come on…”
“Fuck. You don’t fight fair, B.”
“No, I don’t.”
There wasn't much fight involved considering the way Faith was leaning into Buffy’s touch. “Fine. I was listening to the radio and this song came on…”
“Uh huh.” Another sniff confirmed that yes, Faith still smelled good.
“And, well, you know that old rock song, ‘Dirty Deeds’?”
She blinked. “Vaguely.”
“Well, you’re always telling me to look for a job that matches my skillset.”
“Right,” she drawled as she pulled back a little.
“And unfortunately, you won’t let me have sex for money.”
Buffy rolled her eyes.
“And demons don’t carry cash, so this slayer gig pays exactly dick per hour.”
She nodded. That much was true.
“But I’m good at threatening people. So…”
Buffy shook her head and laughed. “So, you’re taking occupational advice from AC/DC?”
“No. Well, I mean, kinda?”
She had to smile at Faith's embarrassment. “And am I to take it that these dirty deeds of yours are ‘done dirt cheap?’”
“Yeah, but well, it depends on how loaded the client is, to be honest. Gotta make rent. Besides, Xander said it’s gonna cost five-hundred dollars just to fix the bathroom wall you broke.”
“Well, your back broke.” She smiled nervously at Buffy’s glare. “…after I threw you into it."
This was exactly why Faith hadn’t taken up her mom’s offer to move into Buffy’s old room. The two of them simply could not be trusted to not break something. That and the close proximity of her mother would've caused its own set of problems. "You couldn't find a less intense song to make a career out of?"
Faith shrugged. "I tried looking through your cd collection, but Britney and Christina just weren't giving me anything to work with."
Buffy shoved her.
"S'ides,” Faith said, laughing. “You've always got the shower radio on that classic rock station anyways, so really, this is your own fault."
Buffy huffed. The classics always reminded her of her home life, back before the slaying, back before her dad left them. He used to listen to that music all the time. It was a tiny thread connecting her to normalcy, back when she didn't know about vampires, and demons, and looming apocalypses. Back when her dad was her hero, not just some horny old man who runs off to Spain with his secretary and can’t be bothered to send so much as a card on his daughter’s birthday.
They weren't exactly happier times, but they were simpler.
She let out a deep, steadying breath. Thankfully, whenever she was drinking too deeply from the well of self-pity, all she needed to do was see Faith's smile - see the affection in those soulful eyes - and, yeah, normal was definitely overrated.
“I think this is an example of what those old religious guys on TV would call ‘the corrupting influence of rock n’ roll.’”
Faith scoffed. “Fuck those guys, B. They’re the ones who really need the baseball bat treatment.” She paused, flashing an evil grin. “Not that I would ever do such a thing.”
Buffy smiled back. “Of course not.”
Internally, Buffy knew she was losing. Whenever Faith smiled at her it was like there was a little devil sitting on her shoulder saying, 'C'mon, give in. Do whatever she wants, it'll be fun.' That little devil had gotten her into so much trouble her senior year. “So, tell me the truth, do you really use that thing?”
“Haven’t had to yet," Faith said, picking the bat off the ground and admiring it like a blacksmith would admire a sword. "At least not on anyone’s face or anything. Sometimes I break things, but that's just an attention getter.”
Well, that was a relief. Kinda. "So, who's your current client?"
"Sorry, B. Client-badass woman with a bat confidentiality," Faith replied. At Buffy’s confused look she added, “It’s like doctor-patient confidentiality, but sexier.”
She had to shut her eyes to keep from laughing at that one. Finally, Buffy put up her hands, "Ok, ok. Can you at least tell me what the guy did?"
"Typical frat-boy shit," Faith sneered. "Invited a freshman transfer student to a party, told this girl everything she wanted to hear. Played the sensitive angle. Sleeps with her a few times. Never calls her back. Tells his friends what an easy lay she was."
Buffy nodded. She remembered attending a frat party once, ages ago during her junior year in high school. At the time, she hadn’t even considered why a group of college guys wanted her there. It certainly wasn’t for her conversational skills. Then there was the little matter that they turned out to be a cult of demon worshippers. In retrospect, the idea of college boys trolling Sunnydale High looking for girls was actually really, really gross. "Well, he certainly does sound like an asshole."
Faith nodded. “Like I said, B. I’m doin’ good work here. Couldn’t give a shit if dudes wanna sleep around or whatever, but they shouldn’t fucking lie about it.”
"All right," she relented, taking Faith's free hand in hers. "I want to see how this works."
Faith grinned, rocking on the balls of her feet and suddenly flush with excitement. "You're gonna help?"
"No, I just want to make sure this bat is really being used only for demonstrative purposes."
The grin faded away. "Oh, sure. While I do my thing, you can just stand in the corner looking tough, filing your nails or something, that'll help."
And suddenly Buffy was the muscle in an old black and white crime movie, standing in the corner as her partner worked the subject over, cracking her knuckles and waiting for the guy to say the wrong thing. She couldn’t really picture herself in the role. Faith on the other hand…
“What’s going on in there, Twinkie?” Faith was asking, tapping Buffy’s forehead.
She batted the finger away. “Just imagining you in a pinstripe suit, with a machinegun, like the kind mobsters used to carry around in cello cases.” It was definitely a nice visual.
Faith smiled. It was a smile that promised an interesting evening. “I’ll see what I can scrounge up.”
Buffy hummed appreciatively. “Forget the gun though.”
“Don’t need it,” Faith said with a tiny shrug, flexing a bicep and earning another appreciative smile from Buffy. But then Buffy was looking at the bat, then back to Faith, and the woman sighed, “Can I at least keep it, for like slaying and stuff?”
Buffy acquiesced. She had trusted Faith with far more deadly things in the past few months.
Faith hummed, something inscrutable passing her face. “You know, if you’re gonna make this a regular thing, maybe we should get you a costume too. A leather vest? Handcuffs? A whip, maybe?"
Buffy was just going to go ahead and pretend like she didn’t know what Faith was talking about. Instead, she pulled her along, despite having no idea where they were supposed to be going. Towards the dorms, it appeared. "Who is this guy we're paying a visit to anyway?"
"Oh, uh..." Faith let go of her hand and fished out a slip of paper from her back pocket. "Some fraternity douche,” she mumbled as she unfolded it. “Kresge Hall, third floor." When Buffy saw what was written there, she paled. "Name's Parker Abrams."
A deep chill suffused her entire body, which was just as quickly replaced by an all-consuming rage. "Give me that bat."