by M Phoenix
In some ways it’s just like old times, her at boarding school, playing hooky up on the roof. Only now she’s twenty-one not twelve; and she’s hiding from a heaving sea of pimply teenage Slayers, and her life, not Ms Tiggle’s attempts to teach her the fine art of domestic science. This version is a lot less fun. She knows there is something fundamentally wrong with this picture. Brooding is just one of those things -- like moonwalking or eating five raw jalapeños for a bet -- that Kennedy should never, ever do. Not that she’s ever done either of those things she reminds herself, clinging to the last vestiges of her self respect. She should take action instead of wasting hours honing her impression of a statue. Gargoyle, her brain supplies helpfully, before she can tell it to shut the hell up. But Kennedy has never been in love before. Never in a position to have her heart wrenched out, torn up and stomped on by a woman wearing frickin’ pixie boots no less. It’s beyond humiliating. So she decides to blame Willow for this, all of it. That dead rat she nearly trod in on the way upstairs. The purgatorial weather. The constant hollow pain in her chest. But mainly Cleveland, yes, she blames Will for Cleveland.
She looks up when she feels a shadow fall over her, wonders why she didn’t hear footsteps.
“Craving some alone time?” Faith asks, jumping onto the ledge beside Kennedy and taking a few bouncing steps along it.
“I was,” Kennedy mutters; directing her best glower at Faith’s back. Looks like she came straight from the training room, she’s wearing sweats under her old leather jacket. “How the hell did you creep up on me like that? I mean, stalk much.”
She suspects Faith’s been watching her extra closely since the unfortunate crossbow incident, her first and only night back on patrol here. She’s not about to mention it though.
Faith swings round, grins and gestures to her bare feet, wiggles her toes for emphasis. “I’m practising my super secret ninja skills. Course, now you know, I’ll have to kill you…”
Kennedy snorts and looks away.
“…which I’m thinking might improve your day one hundred percent. I know you’re still all broody ‘cause Red drop-kicked your ass out of Rio.”
“Hey, I was the one that left her.”
“Okay, you’re the dumper not the dumpee. My bad. Wanna talk about it?”
Kennedy glances up. The perspective is weird, but that could be concern on Faith’s face. In lots of small ways Faith’s been good to Kennedy since her return to the Academy. Grudgingly, she has to admit that Faith, Faith! has become a fine and dedicated teacher. One who can command respect -- or at least pant-wetting terror -- from the most strung-out and cynical teen. More important though, one who she knows the kids will go to when the shit hits the ever spinning fan. Perhaps she does want to get things off her chest, make that fan all clean and shiny again, except they were never exactly bosom buddies so --“No.”
“Thank Christ,” Faith sighs. “This shrink they got me seeing keeps telling me all this crap about -- reach out, connect with your fellow humans, make with the big group hugs. Well screw that, right?”
“Right,” Kennedy says bitterly, remembering how cold Will’s voice got the night she told her they had ‘irreconcilable differences.’ The memory is vivid, sucking Kennedy down like emotional quicksand. That round of ‘who’s the bad girlfriend,’ started with an animated and sweaty argument about the merits and demerits of tantric sex. Hours passed. Tensions escalated. Pillows were fluffed and thrown down in a meaningful way. And by the time morning came chirruping through the blinds, they were glaring at each other across a no mans’ land of neatly folded bed linen, and irreconcilable differences. Will looked sad but superior underneath her glare; sorry for Kennedy wallowing in her unenlightened state. Like she so badly wanted to help her change. Be a better her. That was too much. Kennedy finally regained some Latin passion, informed Will she hoped that she and her glowy-white-Higher-Self would be very happy alone together, (only with a lot more swearing and illustrative hand gestures) and stormed out.
Faith seems to have been waiting, immobile, for Kennedy to emerge from her reverie. She stares at her, hard, as if confirming she’s back; then nods once. “Know what -- screw all of it.”
Before Kennedy realises what is happening, Faith sways slightly and steps into thin air. Kennedy makes a frantic, instinctive grab for her and misses. At the same moment she is aware that Faith has leaned backwards from the almost certain plummet and bone crushing stop; and has somehow landed her ass safe on the narrow ledge.
“Fuck!” Kennedy shouts, heart pounding as she stares the six stories down; still half expecting to see a mangled body on the asphalt. Shocked at how upset she is considering Faith would probably have just sauntered off whistling, with a few bruises. “What the fuck?”
Faith throws her head back and laughs free and easy. “You should see your face, Junior -- it’s priceless.”
“That is so, not funny! You-you stupid bitch.” Kennedy glares, clenches her fists and fights the urge to pummel her rage into the older Slayer.
“Angry sure as hell beats brooding though don’t it?” Faith remarks. “Damn. What a rush.”
“If this is your twisted attempt to help, please don’t, you just scared the shit out of me.”
“Yeah, whatever, but you gotta admit it’s the most alive you’ve felt in a while.” Faith’s grin is barely the right side of sane at the best of times, this not being one of them, but Kennedy can’t help noticing the tingle she feels when it’s directed full at her.
“Not if you give me a coronary first.”
They fall silent. Kennedy fishes a packet of cigarettes and a Zippo out of her coat pocket, offers the open pack to Faith, only to be met with a determined shake of the head. “I’m trying to quit. Part of getting clean; setting a good example. It’s wicked hard though.”
Kennedy raises her eyebrows sceptically.
“Hey, people change.” The way Faith licks her lips when she takes another furtive glance at the smokes is hotter than it has any right to be. That hasn’t changed.
“Really?” Gusts of wind keep blowing the lighter flame out, Kennedy hasn’t quite gotten the knack yet, but the cigarette catches on the third attempt. She inhales deeply, savouring, holds the smoke in her lungs and makes a little pleasure noise before exhaling in a luxurious plume. She smiles sweetly at Faith and coughs.
“Yeah,” Faith says, narrowing her eyes, “but you’re still a brat.”
“You’re still a fucking psycho,” Kennedy retorts.
“Stuck up, over privileged, arrogant little bitch.” Faith’s clearly starting to enjoy this game, and Kennedy is starting to buzz like a kid poised at the top of a roller-coaster. Now she gets why Buffy spent so much time after the Sunnydale exodus Faith-baiting.
“Poor white trash. Slut…I heard that’s why Buffy ditched you.” Oh hell, that was an insult too far. Buffy. Buffy. The one name there is a clear, unspoken rule you should not say in Faith’s presence. She didn’t mean…Kennedy tries to pull the words back but they’re already out. Good move, Kennedy thinks; royally piss off the recovering psycho, get in touch with that latent death wish and buy it dinner.
For long moments Faith is completely still except for a muscle ticking in her jaw. Then she murmurs, almost to herself, “I should whoop you for that.”
“Why don’t you?”
She shrugs as if she’s trying to shed some kind of weight from her shoulders. “Like I said; people change.”
Maybe it’s odd that neither of them leave. The sun moves in a slow arc across the sky. Classroom bells ring faintly and young Slayers surge out of the front entrance; milling and chattering. And Kennedy watches, flicking ash down towards them, swirling like grey snow. She really should quit smoking too, but she only just started, and she doesn’t like to give up on anything before she’s really proficient at it.
Faith is lying back along the ledge like it’s a king size bed; arms folded behind her head, feet crossed at the ankle. She’s been gazing up at the grey-blue sky for a long time. “I like it here,” she says quietly. “Away. In between. Makes all the crazy shit clearer sometimes.” There is an awkward pause before she speaks again. When she does there’s none of the usual bravado or defensiveness in her voice. “It’s true what you heard, I was screwing around, but that’s not…that’s not why. Lit match and kerosene shouldn’t be in the same place together is all I’m saying. Only, she used some legal phrase -- irreconcilable differences. Shit. Me and B are better off this way, y’know?”
“Yeah, I know.” She would like to say something more, something to make the hurt less raw for both of them; but she’s out of her depth and quite possibly swimming with sharks. “I’m sorry.”
“Likewise. But hey, no drama.” Faith glances at Kennedy and gives her a wry smile. Presto, the walls are back up. “I figure I know what the problem is; neither of us should date chicks who spend so much goddamn time thinking.”
“Thinking bad. Check.”
“Know what else is bad? Frozen toes.”
Now there’s something Kennedy can fix. It may not be the wisest thing she’s ever done, but she reaches out the hand she’s been keeping warm in her pocket and brushes the underside of Faith’s foot with her fingertips. The muscles twitch, toes curling, and Faith gives a short laugh. Ticklish; there’s an interesting vulnerability. Probably not a good idea to exploit it in the present situation though. Instead Kennedy increases the pressure, massaging heat back into the skin. She gets a firm hold and works the flat of her thumb up the instep in small circles. Then the rough skin of the heel, up to the arch and toes where it’s softer; back down again, the familiar rhythm semi-hypnotic. She’s surprised by how much she’s enjoying this touching of someone not Willow; how she doesn’t want it to stop. Faith sighs and stretches, uncrossing her ankles. “Fuck that feels good. If you like…could feel even better,” she adds, keeping her tone careful, lazy.
Yeah, Kennedy is the Foot Rub Goddess; Faith is worshipping prostrate at her shrine and hey, rewind, was that a come on?
“Whatever happened to setting a good example?” Kennedy asks; all provocative innocence.
“I’m off duty,” Faith drawls flexing her toes.
Definitely a come on.
“Mmm, lucky me.”
What the hell. Right now Kennedy likes the sound of that offer, and she’s more than happy to play along. She traces the fine bone of Faith’s ankle, then getting bolder, slides her hand under the cuff of the grey cotton sweat pants. Faith closes her eyes and breathes in slow and deep; apparently pleased. Taking her time, Kennedy strokes her way up the hard smooth shin; round Faith’s calf muscles, concentrating all her skill on melting the tension out of them. Making this woman sigh like a lost dream and maybe forget bossy blonde Slayers for a while. Her movements are restricted by the fabric, forcing her arm almost flat against Faith’s leg. She wishes she’d taken off her coat, but there’s no way she’s gonna stop and risk breaking the spell that’s falling over both of them. She wants to forget too. When she dips her fingers into the soft, inviting curve behind Faith’s knee, she is rewarded with a low moan that’s enough all on its own to get her wet. It’s a moan that leads to visions of writhing nakedness, candle light, possibly oil of some kind, and Kennedy perched on top of Faith while she -- Oh God. Kennedy realises she’s painfully horny; the whole nun gig doesn’t suit her one bit. She’s about to suggest they go someplace less precipitous, when the world suddenly upends in a blurred flurry of limbs and she’s dragged forwards and down on to Faith’s chest. Now she has only the other woman’s body to give her balance. Arms wrapped around her; legs she’s assuming gripping the ledge; and she’s getting serious vertigo. Her stomach is hovering around her ankles; heart doing a frantic Macarena; and her left foot flailing in empty space. For a second she’s scared; but finds instant comfort in the thought that at least she does get to be on top. She gasps; blinks and tries to focus on Faith’s face.
“You want?” Faith rasps.
God yes, she wants.
Something old and clouded flickers in Faith’s eyes, and this smile doesn’t seem to be meant for Kennedy. “Then take.”
This is where Kennedy, who is one hot mama, dredges up some sexy, dirty little thing to purr in Faith’s ear; make her quiver; show her who’s in charge. “Someone’ll see,” she whimpers. Okay, that wasn’t it.
“Trust me,” Faith tells her, “they never look up.”
So Kennedy kisses her; this dark, strange, possibly still dangerous Slayer. She isn’t gentle now and neither is Faith. Her mouth tastes of liquorish, bittersweet. Kennedy presses harder, their lips crushing together. She sucks on Faith’s tongue, licks, hears Faith actually growl when she feels the metal stud. Score. That’s gonna be fun when they reach a less hazardous venue. Then it’s Kennedy’s turn to make animal noises as Faith thrusts a hand between them to cup her, rough and urgent through her jeans, and she nearly looses her balance again. She breaks the kiss first, needing oxygen. “Not exactly safe sex,” she says shakily.
Faith chuckles; she is trembling with the effort of holding them in position. “Fuck, Junior, we spend our whole lives on the edge of something. Just remember not to fall off.”
Good point; this woman would make a great inspirational speaker. Kennedy nuzzles Faith’s neck, grinds against her hand, lets out a whimper of need and pleasure as she finds the right angle and speeds up. Faith shifts under her, presses up harder. Oh God, yes, there, right there. Adrenaline and endorphins are throwing a wild party in Kennedy’s body, her panties are soaked and threatening to give her a wedgie, and she doesn’t give a shit any longer if they do plunge off the building. Bouts of metaphorical levitation with Will were never quite like this. But through the lust haze she notices something under her left hip has started buzzing. She’d love to ignore it but two years of Slayerhood have taught her not to ignore the randomly weird. “Ugn…Faith…your pants appear to be vibrating.”
“Huh? Wha-- yeah, it’s just my cell, it doesn’t…”
The buzzing stops then instantly starts again. Some inconsiderate person is determined to get Faith’s attention.
“It’s kinda distracting,” Kennedy says, pulling back, “Are you gonna answer it?”
“Oh shit. Okay.” Faith gropes for her phone and thumbs it on. “Yo. Robin? Man, your timing sucks, tell me this can wait.” Her forehead scrunches. “Oh, uh-huh, uh-huh, where? Sonofabitch…yeah, I’m on it. I’ll be there in five. Bye.” She sighs and extricates her other hand from between Kennedy’s thighs. Lies there looking pissed off but businesslike. She’s still panting slightly, the movement sending tiny shocks through Kennedy’s body. “I have to go.”
So that’s it, Slayers interrupted, and Kennedy isn’t sure if there’s gonna be a rematch, or if Faith will simply move on to the next easy lay. “Oh. Is this a super secret ninja mission?” she asks; unable to keep the disappointment, frustration, anger out of her voice. Why couldn’t she have just ignored the fricking phone?
“Nah. The usual, big scary monsters. Loss of limbs, or death a serious possibility. I have to go gather the troops.” Faith sits up carefully untangling her legs from Kennedy’s, swings off the ledge and begins making for the fire door. Kennedy has never felt so forgettable. She can almost see Will silently mouthing, ‘What did you expect?’ But it turns out there’s still a surprise gift left in the party cracker. Faith stops at the top of the stairs, poised like she’s waiting for something, then calls over her shoulder, “Could be fun. Wanna come with; watch my back?” The invitation she’s offering seems casual, but it’s there. It’s there. In a moment Faith will have gone, dashing headlong into whatever comes, and Kennedy will have missed her chance.
“Sure, why not.” She runs both hands through her hair, straightens her coat; shines a genuine smile at Faith. “You’ve broken my brood now; I probably couldn’t get back into it without hours of strenuous moping.”
As they jog down the second flight of stairs, not quite in step, boots and bare feet drumming, Faith says, “I was thinking if we don’t die we could grab some food after.” She waggles her eyebrows suggestively. “We could order in.”
“I’d like that,” Kennedy tells her, feeling a precious glimmer of happiness for the first time in weeks. Cleveland’s not that pretty but the view tonight promises to be just fine.