If you could be anyone, who would you be, Buffy drunkenly asks her. Eyes wide, framed by big, thick, black lashes. Faith can see mascara rubbed underneath her eyes, on her top eyelid.
It’s never occurred to Faith to be anyone other than herself.
In her younger years she dreamed of different versions of herself: of girls who didn’t end up in the cold, fists bloodied and bruised by boys who couldn’t quit their mouths. Of girls who had a picture-perfect family, holiday cards sent out yesterday, doing that thing all the TV families do. Girls who had a support system, friends who’d back them up when things got tough and would always have her back.
But by the time she reached the sweet old age of fourteen, she had long since given up on dreams. Dreams are just that - dreams.
Buffy shifts on the bed, yawning. Her arms go up over her head, her back arching upwards and her legs bending at the knee, toes curling into Faith’s sheets. “I used to think I was going to be a professional ice-skater. Did you know that? I used to love skating. Gliding across the ice, the dresses, I was a mess at ballet - tripping up all over myself, but ice-skating?” Buffy flashes her a lazy smile, one of confidence and pride, of contentment. “I was good at that.”
Faith hadn’t known that Buffy used to ice-skate. She tries to imagine it now. Her B gliding across the ice, hands held up above herself. It’s an image that comes to her naturally - her B, dressed in those frilly little outfits, a wide, dazzling smile on her face as she bowed for the judges. Faith knows fuck-all about ice-skating but she knows Buffy would ace it.
“I did ballet.” Faith says lazily, dropping an arm around Buffy’s shoulders. B nuzzles herself closer to Faith, dropping her head into the crook of her neck and shoulder and pressing a wet kiss on her collarbone.
“I can’t see that.” Buffy mumbles, smirking against Faith’s skin.
“Really,” Faith says, lips curling happily. Buffy Summers was pressed against her - how could she be anything but happy? “I did. I was good, too. Bet you never thought Faith likes-to-beat-the-shit-out-of-people Lehane ever did something girly, huh?” Faith laughs, recalling younger days of when her hair was tied with ribbons and doing plies. Faith had sourly pouted as she went into first, into second, into third before going back to first.
Buffy laughs, “Hmm. I can see it. Did you wear a little tutu?” Buffy asks, very seriously shooting up to look Faith in the eye. Faith shrugs her shoulders, eyeing the gleam in her friend’s eye.
“I don’t know,” Faith says lazily, her voice husky. “You want me to?” She asks suggestively, running her fingers over Buffy’s arm, raising goosebumps there.
Buffy rolls her eyes, flopping back down onto Faith. “I take it back. I can’t see you doing ballet.”
“Too bad.” Faith replies.
It’s silent from there on out. Faith doesn’t make a sound as Buffy crawls on top of her, straddling her and pushing her back into the bed. It was always like that - Buffy on top, Buffy in control. One time, when she’d had too much to drink, she’d told Faith why, whispering it into the crook of her neck, one arm wrapped around her back.
It’s because you took so much from me, Faith. I can’t trust you. I can’t trust anyone.
Faith is never able to forget her mistakes - killing, school-yard fights, getting her watcher killed, torturing Wes, nearly strangling Xander to death, having sex with Riley when he thought she was B, but her crimes against Buffy have always haunted her the most. In the dead of the night, when her self-loathing comes back full force, she thinks about all the times Buffy’s eyes have had that look in them, that sad look of despair, like she’s unable to believe Faith could be capable of something until they turned into just cold, hard eyes, just expecting Faith to fuck up, waiting for it to happen.
Buffy kisses her, hard. Like Faith is the oxygen Buffy has been starving herself from, her nails digging into her skin so hard Faith thinks she might bleed - it’s not like it hasn’t happened before, panting at midnight, pressed up on a gravestone, Buffy holding her so tight. Her stake pressed up against her side, B’s nails pulling at her skin; ripping her outsides apart to mirror her insides.
Sometimes Faith wonders what sex would be like with Buffy if the blonde loved her. If Faith was something other than a mean to an ends for her. But she’s selfish, if she’s getting some, getting some from Buffy, from her B, no less, then she’ll take what she can get.
Faith doesn’t see Buffy for months at a time. Too busy off chasing slayers, young girls burdened with a destiny neither of them ever wanted. Faith asked her once why she bothered finding them. Buffy hadn’t been drunk then, that was her first mistake.
“Why, Faith? How about because these girls are all alone in the world with super-strength and--,” Buffy had scrunched her eyes closed, fists uncurling from her sides - breathing in and out, like she was the one with anger problems. Who pummeled innocents into the gravel. Like she was the murderer. “I gave them that. I gave them this - “ Buffy waves her hand in the air, between the two of them, back and forth, like there’s an invisible line that connects them. “What if they don’t use it for good, huh? If they end up hurting someone.” It was unspoken but what Buffy meant to say was this: what if they end up like you.
Buffy doesn’t hide her hatred sometimes. Fucking her so hard she cries. “I hate you, Faith.” It should hurt. Faith has been in love with the girl since she first arrived in Sunny-D. Before that, maybe, when her watcher told her stories of this strong little girl who’d survived, awe in her voice.
“You don’t, B.” Sometimes Faith will say back, nails digging into Buffy’s hipbone. “Otherwise you wouldn’t be here.” It’s unspoken, too, but there it is: you’d be with Spike or Angel, maybe both.
Maybe that’s why Faith puts up with it. Why she takes what little she can get. Because Buffy is with her and not the two rotting corpses of eternally young handsome men. Logically, it’s because Angel she can’t get physical with and Spike is off gallivanting in Europe with Drusilla in this moment of time. Faith is just a bad habit Buffy can’t quit.
“I hate you.” But not really. Not enough to stop.
If life-threatening situations, End of the World’s ever stopped - Faith thinks she might have a heart attack.
“Grab the axe!” Buffy calls over her shoulder. Faith stares at the curve of her ass in the tight jeans she’s wearing instead.
“Faith!” Buffy’s voice bellows. Faith grins cheekily, grabbing the axe and swinging it around easily in her arms. There’s a demon surging forward towards Buffy and seventeen year old Faith’s instincts kick in to try and protect Buffy - protecting her was all she wanted to do then, that and hurt her.
Buffy has the demon down on the ground before Faith can reach her.
It’s this that feels normal between the two of them - killing. Faith’s just glad her hands haven’t been dirty with human blood for a long time (eight hundred and forty-seven days, and counting).
One of the new slayers are on the other end of the field, staking vampires left, right and centre. Buffy looks behind her, smirking at Faith. It’s almost like old times. What old times? Faith asks herself. Because she sure as hell fucked it up too soon.
“Think this’ll ever get old?” Buffy asks, laughing. It’s bitter. It’s not the laugh she used last night, curled up by her side and talking about how she wants to decorate her first house. It’s the laugh of a woman in her twenties with a dead end life because she’s too busy saving the world. Too busy saving everyone else that she leaves no time to take care of herself.
Faith worries about Buffy - that one morning she’s going to wake up and walk off. One day she’s going to decide that she’s saved the world enough times to hang up her golden cape for good, and that when she does, she hangs her life up with it.
“Yeah.” Faith replies, slicing a green leaf looking monster in half. “‘Bout half a century ago.” Faith jokes. Buffy’s lips twitch upwards as she stakes a vamp.
“Shut up.” New Slayer, Amber, Faith thinks as she watches the newbie tackle a demon over half her size, calls out to them. “We’ve got work to do!”
Faith shakes her head. Buffy shrugs her shoulders.
“We make a good team, B!” Faith calls towards the end, as Buffy rolls off her back and tackles two Barayahin demons to the ground. Buffy laughs, this time it doesn’t sound as bitter. It sounds almost care-free, or as care-free as Buffy can get these days.
“Yeah, we do.”
Her hands are dirty. Buffy’s are clean. It could be a metaphor for their relationship if they weren’t just doing the dishes. Their dog nips at Faith’s ankles. It feels domestic and homey and she feels like she might run. Or Buffy might run.
Just roommates. Buffy had told her. Faith hadn’t tried to push her luck.
“Angel called me.” Buffy says softly, drying a plate before putting it in the cupboard. Faith smirks.
“Need a hand in saving the world?” Faith will never not be up for a good kill. It’s a craving she still has. An addiction she hasn’t quit.
“Just wanted to let me know Spike’s back.” Buffy whispers. It feels stuffy in the room all of a sudden.
“Yeah?” Faith asks, trying not to sound too interested. Buffy isn’t her girlfriend and Spike and Angel aren’t threats. But she feels like this is the moment she loses Buffy for good.
“He and Angel have been fucking for a good month apparently.” Buffy informs her quietly. Faith is silent for a second before she bursts out laughing, nearly falling over from it. When Buffy turns to look at her, she’s wearing a grin on her face. Her eyes light and warm and her smile genuine. It strikes Faith as odd that she can count on both hands the number of times she’s seen Buffy happy like that since Sunnydale fell into itself. Maybe even since she first betrayed her.
“Both wanted me to know. Make sure I wasn’t mad or anything.” Buffy scrunches up her nose, drying a cup. “Like I was waiting for them or something.” The disgust in her voice when she says waiting makes Faith smile softly.
“Nah, did you tell ‘em you’ve got me?” Faith bumps her hip against Buffy’s. And Buffy grins, laughing, winding her fingers in Faith’s hair and pressing a kiss against her lips. It’s the first time she’s done that. Their hook-ups are either drunk or dirty, hateful or revengeful, heated and heavy. They’ve never been sweet.
“Willow’s thinking of proposing.” Buffy says quietly, after she’s pulled back from Faith and silence has settled.
“To Minnie?” Faith asks, surprised. Buffy nods.
“Yeah. Says it’s love or something.” Buffy grins.
“Can it be love with a name like Minnie?” Faith retorts. Doesn’t say it can be if it can be love with a girl named Buffy.
Buffy rolls her eyes. “I think it’s nice. Them. Getting married. Marriage.” Her words are rambled and if she didn’t know any better Faith might even assume she was hinting at something.
“Maybe they’ll name their kid Mickey.” Faith says, burying her thoughts down deep.
“With a dog named Goofy.”
“He’s a duck, sweetie.”
(And Faith doesn’t notice how easily sweetie slips past her lips at all).
Faith has always been a big-talker. Fuck, B, it was sick. Shame you missed out. But in reality Faith would have come home covered in gunk, stepped under the shower in the dirty motel room that’s water temperature changes every few seconds and cried. Cried for the things that could have been, the few things she’s lost and the things she’ll never have.
Faith was sixteen when she called, rocked up in Sunnydale a few months later with a mission to find somewhere to belong. It didn’t go as planned. Before long Faith had been seventeen, making a grimy motel room and falling in love with a quick-witted blonde with a tongue that wouldn’t quit. Even then, she was used for Buffy’s release, a mean to an ends. Difference was, Faith wasn’t all completely clued up on it then.
“Do you think - “ Buffy starts, wringing her hands back and forth. Faith steels herself for what’s coming. “Forget it.” Buffy says a few seconds after, smiling up once at Faith before disappearing it another room.
In the end girls like Buffy like partners who aren’t one hundred percent morally sound; she likes it dirty, and a little messy, and definitely taboo.
It’s just that Faith never saw that part of her. She saw everything she wanted Buffy to have - girls who are golden and good and sweet, heroic hero’s that sweep in to save the day. Faith isn’t that. She’s hard talking, fast taking and while she likes doing good, likes being the hero, likes helping, being brave and all that jazz. At heart she knows how to torture a guy for information and misses the scent of blood. You don’t become a killer and suddenly quit it for good. It’s a long process. Girls like Buffy shouldn’t have to deal with that - Buffy shouldn’t have to deal with it. The baggage that is Faith Lehane.
Somewhere in-between hating each other, becoming reluctant allies on Buffy’s part, saving the world together (again and again and again; it’s a running joke, a drinking game. Wednesday night, wanna save the world, grab a beer later?), they’ve found a balance that isn’t desperation or taking what they can get.
“Faith.” Buffy calls out as she steps into the living room. Mentally Faith is packing her bags and deciding who’ll get to keep the dog. Faith wants her but she’d let Buffy have her in a heartbeat, no questions asked.
“B - if you need me to go. I will.” Faith isn’t sixteen, isn’t seventeen - not a hard talking, fast talking, wild girl. Not anymore. Faith’s a mature adult who’s taken responsibility for her crimes with a weak spot for a girl who’s never wanted her, not really.
“What?” Buffy scrunches her face up, like Faith going is a ridiculous idea. Faith feels like a stranger in her own house. “No, Faith!” Buffy’s face lights up as all the puzzle pieces click into place. “No. I was going to talk about that,” Buffy takes a deep breathe, inhaling in and out. “Us. Talk about us.”
Us - the way she says it makes Faith think they have a future. More than just getting down and dirty after a night of slaying. It’s enough to make Faith stay and hear the girl out.