My back aches from sitting on the floor. The shelf behind me that’s been threatening to split me at the diaphragm hasn’t been much help either. I want to go home, but I can’t. I’m the only one besides Giles who’s working, not just pretending to work. Again, as usual, we’re stuck. We can’t do anything without first understanding what we’re doing.
The words on the mottled parchment blur. My head swims. Smudgy black dots and squiggles cloud senselessly. ‘U’ becomes ‘double-u.’ I see one, two, three, more…waves on an ocean as illustrated by me when I was three.
I’m exhausted. Either that or Xander was right and bibliophilia really is a disease, not just a fun obsession.
Happy tittering draws my attention from the heavy, musty tome in my lap. It’s Buffy. She’s still doing a lousy job of pretending. The pile of books in front of her hasn’t changed since the last time I looked. I glance at my watch trying to recall when last I checked on the slayers, primary and adjunct.
I have no idea. I’ve been ignoring their bubbly chatter for going on what seems like forever. Giles only possesses so much potential glower power. He went to his office. I don’t have an office. That’s why I’m over here and not there in a comfy chair. They were making me crazy.
They are making me crazy. So crazy that learning anything new about the Sisterhood of Jhe has been impossible. All we know is that they want to open the Hellmouth—which is generally a bad idea—but that’s just a ‘where.’ Knowing ‘when’ and maybe ‘how’ might be useful.
I glance at the ones responsible for pooping the research party, catch a glimpse of something, blink, double-take, stare. Under the table, partially obscured by chair legs, I saw something that now that I’ve seen it, I think I only thought I saw it. It doesn’t make sense. Buffy wouldn’t rub her foot—her sandaled, mostly-naked foot—against Faith’s completely naked leg.
Not that Faith’s naked. Faith’s legs are naked. Faith’s wearing shorts, which is plenty of nakedness where she’s concerned. She’s hopelessly pretty. Like so pretty that someone like me has no hope of being noticed when she’s around. She doesn’t have to be naked. Just her cleavage is enough to distract most people.
Faith gives Buffy a post foot-action glance that suggests she wants to ravish her. I wish that was new. Actually, I wish that wasn’t. Faith has given the very same salacious look to almost everyone who’s anyone to me. Flirting and Faith go together like death and taxes, or school and cheerleaders, or many other things that complement without being complimentary.
My stare becomes a glare, transmuting to a glower worthy of Giles. I glower for a long time without as much as a glance from the sisters slayer or another glimpse of footsie action. For my part, it’s an Olympic act of sulkery. Their part is much less impressive and giddy.
I give up.
I gave in.
The more I thought about it, the more certain I became that I saw what I saw. They were playing footsie. Or more accurately Buffy was playing footsie with Faith. The very thought curdles my cream. There’s only one reason people play footsie. It’s not a game friends play, unless they want to go through endless drama and humiliation.
‘Nag’ turns to ‘pang’ and back again. I rest my head on my arm, uncomfortable as ever. The ground is cold and crouching hurts.
That doesn’t matter. I need to know for sure what’s up with Buffy so I can work out what this all means. If it means what I think it means, then the rest should be self-evident. If Buffy was playing footsie with Faith, that means that she likes girls, or at least one girl, which suggests that she can like other girls, which means that those few times—the times when we’ve been together and feeling really, really together—I might not have been the only one who was wondering about kissing and…
That’s hopelessly optimistic and just as convoluted, but that doesn’t change the fact that I need to know. That’s why I’m in a graveyard after dark, like an idiot, pretending to be part of a bush. I need to know so badly that I’m cold, wet and unhappy and I’m still here.
I’m doing a pretty good job of pretending. I know. I tested. I watched the mating dance of the bubble-breasted New England slayer from a dark corner of the Bronze. That’s what convinced me that I wasn’t imagining things. No one goes to that much trouble to flaunt themselves without wanting something. I might’ve changed my mind if she hadn’t spent most of the night jiggling her abundant flauntables at Buffy. There were boys of course, but the flirting and the flaunting always came back to Buffy.
Now Faith’s just sitting there with my friend, each of them on matching tombstones. As they talk, the fishwife flips her hair, laughs her insufferable devil-may-care laugh, smiles her insidious smile, bats her thick lashes…
She hasn’t given up flirting. It isn’t just a hobby for this hussy, it’s practically a vocation.
Worst of all, there’s return flirting. Buffy’s not as blatant, but—
Is this a date?
Movement draws my eye.
Dates with vampires. That’s nothing new for Buffy. With Faith around, it goes a little differently. There’s much flipping, rolling, falling, punching, kicking and poofing, the whole kit-n-kaboodle. Ash fills the air. It’s very exciting to watch, so exciting that I don’t have much time to thank my lucky stars that the vampires didn’t notice me. Not that I’m very noticeable with my new goody. No one noticed me at the Bronze. In fact, I was so totally unmemorable that I couldn’t even order a drink. The counter girl kept forgetting me.
Being invisible, or the closest thing to it, didn’t feel all that new. I’m kind of used to being ignored. I clutch the pouch of leafy goodness that hangs around my neck. This just makes that more likely. It emphasizes my own natural blahness.
Sometime during my reverie, Faith went from fighting vampires to fighting Buffy. All of the vampires are gone now. More flipping, rolling, kicking and punching occur. Watching these two is exhausting. They make slaying vamps look like artistic gymnastics. Fighting each other is just—
Buffy shouts, “What’s wrong with you?” A reasonable question to be sure.
Faith snaps in answer, “Oh, c’mon, B. Don’t you ever let loose?”
This is the first thing I’ve heard them say all night. I need to really work on my snooping skills. I get high marks for sneakiness, but everything I gain there is pretty much lost when it comes to actual snooping.
Faith shouts something else. I miss it. I do get that it wasn’t a popular remark. That much is obvious because Buffy hits her. More tumbling and clobbering ensues.
I wonder what the heck Faith meant. To my mind Buffy’s been ‘letting loose’ all evening. Yes, she’s more reserved. That’s because she’s not a hussy, you great big hussy!
They tussle some more. All I see are feet. The top feet become Faith’s feet for a moment and it happens again. This time I know I’m not imagining things, until it’s over and I think I read too much into it. There’s nothing substantive about a tilt of the head, but I swear it looked like she was kissing Buffy.
I expect more shouting. None comes. They’re leaving and I’m—
I hate Faith.