House of Luv
Prison changed me. Seriously, it did. I used to stay up all night and sleep all day but now, I get up extra early just to have that one little bit of peace and quiet. Well maybe it was prison and age, but whatever, so I'm not exactly a night owl anymore, don't get me wrong, I still slay and I'm still dang good at it, I just don't stay up all night anymore. That's right folks, Me, Faith Lehane, leather wearing, crude gal extraordinaire has went and grown up.
Why you ask? Well you prolly didn't ask, but I'm gonna tell you anyway. I had the hell to. Are you kidding me. All these new SIT's, (slayers in training) got dropped into my lap. We have like halfway houses all over the world and now I'm like some friggin house mother and I'm too young to be a house mother. It's not all bad, there are some good people that are here helping me. Kennedy, Red's ex, you remember her right. There's also Ronnie, she's the spitting image of Veronica Mars, sassy, blonde, petite and whew, kinda my type there but I'm sure you've heard the saying, don't shit where you eat. Been there, done that, didn't turn out all that well. Moving on, there's Lana and she's this Cuban cutie, complete with espaniol and all and no I don't habla but I sure as hell would try. And lastly rounding out the house ma's, is Traci or as I like to call her T-bug. She's a hoot and a half, she's all Tomboyx undies, knee high compression socks and platform sandals, always saying namaste, and I don't even know what that means but put her in a battle and even the vamps and demons stop to appreciate her body, her underwear and especially those high socks and heels. “Hieeeee!” She'll yell, and the enemy will be so caught up in what the hell's happening, they don't even register they've already been killed.
So me and the older girls rule the house and the 'sits,' all 6 of them, ranging in age from 2 to 10 rule us. Holy freakin hell. It's funny or sad, cause it's true.
Me, Faith Lehane, up to my elbows in diapers, shit, puke and boogers and I still can't catch a break. This is hell and I am in it. Why? Buffy freaking Summers thinks it'll be good for my team so we're being punished. I'll tell you why in a bit, right now her right hand of the law is inspecting us. That's right Red has entered the building and we're already screwed because her and Ken are on the outs.
So Red flew in and she's been staying with us, watching us. I mainly take care of Cote 4, and Cassie 2. Of course that leaves 4 more kids. Ken has Ashley 3, and her 10 year old sister Amanda. Ronnie gets the other 2, Jana who's 7 and Kelly who's 8. Lana picks up any slack we have, so she bounces between all of us. We don't give any kids to T, could you imagine what would happen to me and Ken if the uptight brigade busted in and saw the kids running through the weeds outside in their undies, yelling, “Hieeeee, muthas, or Namaste bitch?” So T's in charge of security of the grounds and house.
I guess I should say that we have the orphans, and we are too far gone to back out now. I've had my kids for over 6 months and I think I'd prolly fight the mighty B herself if she tried to take them from me. Now I'm not saying I know what it takes to be mother material, but with the way I was raised, lets just say that I know what not to do. And for the record one of those things is Ronnie but dayum, do I wanna.
I've been celibate too long, way too long, like route 66 long, like if I actually tried to remember what a climax felt like my head would prolly blow off my neck. Plus the house is way too full, with Kennedy, Ronnie, Lana and T and way too many kids, so many you can't even hide from them and get any kind of peace, which brings me back to me being up way too early, I'm up just for a cup of coffee and a bit of quiet, before the day starts.
And again, Red's watching me, cause she makes a point of getting up early to grill me and watch, always with the watching.
“Good Morning, Faith.” Willow smiles at me, beaming. I look up from my coffee and paper and scowl, cause that bitch is glowing. My mouth just kinda hangs open a bit. That bitch Ken has done went and got laid.
“Looks like a good morn for some of us.” I deadpan. She just smiles at me all dreamy.
I go back to reading my paper and Red blows me off of the stool. “You didn't get woke up last night when Buffy arrived, did you?”
So, I spit a bit of coffee. “What? Seriously? What the hell for?”
Will rolls her eyes at me. “Oh come on Faith, don't get all defensive. Ken told me that you haven't been out in ages, no fun, no dating, no relief or release in months.” She sips her coffee and sits across the counter from me, eyeing me up and down, before unleashing the big guns. “So how have you been relieving yourself of the pressure?”
I blow out a puff of air and decide to just bite the bullet. “I've been handling things myself.” Adding, “not to mention I have 2 kids to take care of, they take up most of my time.”
She nods. “Well you know what they say about handling it yourself...” She waits til I look up at her before continuing. “You do that too much and you'll go blind.”
I pull the newspaper back up in front of my face, to of course hide the blush. “Well, you don't need to worry then, I'll just do it til I need glasses.”
I pull the paper down and we smile at each other, her enjoying my full on blush. We just stare at each other, sizing the other up.
In walks B and if you have to ask if things get better, well surely they don't, depending on how you view things. I watch her make a beeline to the coffee, pour a cup and sit down with me and Red. She pulls the paper out of my hand, and OH MY GOD, she pulls out a pair of spectacles and puts them on. I look at Red, Red looks at me and both of us turn beet red before we bust out laughing.
Of course Buffy gets a complex and what little bit of fun I did manage to find gets lost in the now growing list of things that I need to do so that our household doesn't get gigged and have more punishment put on us.
Can the day get any better? I sure as hell hope so.
The judgment of silence falls upon the room, crickets are too scared to squeak their legs together and I'm about to bolt myself.
Thank God T decided to grace us with her presence. Of course she's in her tomboy's, the brightest pair of compression socks she could find and what's up with those platform shoes. She kind of stalls as she clears the doorway, sucks it up and walks on in. “Hieeee!” She sing songs as she starts making some tea. She turns around and looks at me, her face scrunching up, mouthing, “What the...” Her words trail off as I give her a sly shrug before she turns back to her tea. I can feel T thinking all the way across the room, she turns, smiles at me, tea in hand. “Byeeee!” She darts out the door but not before catching the daggers I'm throwing at her with my eyes. I can hear her outside saying, “Namaste bitches.” Figures, can't fault her though.
“So Faith... “ Buffy starts.
Lana enters the kitchen interrupting B, grabs a juice and hollers for the older kids. She's on school detail today. She looks at Red and B and spits out a bit of juice. “What the hell did we do this time?” She looks over at me and I just stare blankly back at her. She gets a look of disgust on her face and turns to leave. “I'll be in the car waiting on the kids.”
What can I say? I don't even bother looking at Red and B. I just stare off in the corner. It's a nice corner, seriously, I should probably clean the baseboard or something.
“Fai!” Ronnie yells from upstairs. “Yeah?” I yell back. “Kennedy wants to know if you can take her baby duty today?”
“What?” I scoff. “Has she bumped her friggin head?” I move to the doorway and look up the stairs. “That'll give me 3 kids, ages 2, 3 and 4. That's a nightmare waiting to happen.”
Ronnie runs downstairs with the 3 older kids, skidding through the entryway. “Oh crap!” She states flippantly, stopping as she views our guests. She turns around and gives me a look, drops her purse and bends over to pick up its contents.
Of course I tilt my head, enjoying the view. I can see Ronnie smile, knowing exactly what I'm doing. I can also feel B watching me but I can't seem to stop staring. Ronnie straightens up, walks over and whispers in my ear. “Prolly won't be coming back til late tonight.” She pulls back, bites her lip, looks at me apologetically, to which I can only nod my head, cause I get it, really I do but oh is there gonna be paybacks. I watch as she ushers the kids out, gives me a last grimace and shuts the door.
I look at the clock. I've got a few minutes left of peace. I reheat my coffee and sit back on the bar stool. My phone beeps signaling that I've got a text. Of course I do. It's Ronnie. 'Make it up to you later, promise.'
Hope so, I think to myself. So much for shitting where you eat.
“Faith!” Kennedy yells from upstairs. “Faith?” I feel her in the doorway. I don't flinch or turn, just sit still and try to finish my coffee.
“Don't make me have all 3 kids by myself Ken.” I sigh. “It's hard to keep up with them, they all go a different direction at the same time.” I sit patiently, waiting.
She starts whining. “Faith please. I just want to hang out with Willow for a bit.”
I kind of bounce my head side to side, arguing with myself, pros, cons, that sort of thing. “Okay, you get them up and get them ready so I can at least have another cup of coffee before all hell breaks loose.”
“Deal.” I can hear the smile coming through loud and clear. I can also hear my 2 year old waking up, her high pitched squeals bouncing off the walls.
Of course I get another cup of coffee, wondering just how long I've got before B and Red get around to the reason they've showed up.
“So... “ Buffy starts. I sigh loudly and grab a croissant. I look at her, waiting.
“You've been here a little over 6 months now and I know I put you here to, maybe kinda get back at you for your fight with Satsu and I think I'm ready to hear your side.”
My mouth just kinda hangs open, mid chew. “Seriously?” I laugh and sit back on the bar stool. “I tried to tell you what happened months ago, but you weren't having it, any of it.”
I drop my croissant, take in another big gulp of coffee, really kind of disgusted with everything and honestly, I just want to put the whole crappy incident behind me. “You know me. Had me pegged from the start. I was my usual asshole self. Just didn't like the way she looked that day. Next thing I know, I was swinging my helmet at her head. Just kinda unfortunate that her teeth got knocked out a little bit.” I got up off my stool, putting my mug in the dishwasher and throwing my breakfast in the trash. “Hell she's your girl, figured you'd at least give me a thank you for services rendered.”
“A thank you?” She rolls her eyes. “You knocked her front teeth out. Why would I give you a thank you?”
I start towards the door, heading upstairs and away from this bs. “Well I hear you get better suction without them..... So..... you're welcome.” I take the stairs two at a time and hide in the privacy of my room.
In the kitchen Red and B, just stare at each other, Red with a smirk on her face, Buffy with a blush on, rolling her eyes as she hears Ken laughing through the baby monitor. “That was funny as hell.” Ken's voice filters through the speaker, before she laughs some more.
Willow, nods her head in agreement, adding. “See, she'd rather take the heat for something she didn't do than have you know that your girl was bad mouthing you.”
Buffy looks up at Willow. “She's not my girl and...Well, she did knock her teeth out.” Willow nods her head, asking, “So, is it true?”
“Is what true?” B asks.
“Do you get better suction?” Will smiles.
“I wouldn't know.” B says flatly, arching a brow. She shakes her head, trying to clear the visuals. “It was over before it began.” She sighs. “Right now, I hope I never find out. Ever. ”
“Never say never.” Willow breathes out. They laugh.
Buffy suddenly sighs, and turns serious. “You think I've got a shot here?” She looks at Willow expectantly, waiting.
Will sighs, pausing to think. “Honestly, I think if anyone's gonna give you a run for your money it'll be that little blonde.” She pauses again, thinking. “She's looking at her the way she used to look at you. I think the stuff that Satsu said might have really touched a nerve. Plus it's been a while, you might've waited too long.”
Buffy nods her head in acknowledgment.
I've hid out in my bedroom for a little bit. Might as well get the day started. I head into the nursery. “You bout got them ready Ken?” I asked as I walked into the nursery. She nods at me smiling. “So...” I start. “You and Red back together?”
She smiles at me. “You and Ron?”
“What?” I ask my voice full of disbelief. I'm one big smile, full on dimples, probably full on blush. “She's certainly hot, I'll give her that.” I look at the floor, my face on fire. “I could definitely see myself with her.”
“Oh My God!!” Kennedy states, a big smile plastered on her face. “You're talking long term here, aren't you?”
I smile at her. “Well to be honest... the longer I stay here, the more I want to stay, you know?” I watch as she nods at me, smiling back. So I bring out the big guns. “So, are you the reason for the inspection?”
She sighs. “Yeah, sorry. I didn't mean to, it just kind of happened. It was post coital. I was happy and not thinking, hell there wasn't any blood left in my brain to think with.”
I nodded, understanding. “That's how they get you.”
She laughs. “Tell me about it.”
My voice takes on a more somber note. “So what did you blab?”
She sighs, grimacing. “You're not gonna like it.” I gesture to keep going, keeping my mouth shut. “Well, I told what actually happened during the fight.” She paused. “About how we were just sitting there and Satsu searched you out, came at you. Trying to goad you by giving a blow by blow of.... you know... how Buffy went down, with detailed graphics, and then tried to push you more by saying that B told her how she'd never, ever dumpster dive with you.” She looked up at me.
“That all?” I prompted.
She nodded no, continuing, “I might've told how you pegged Satsu, saying that if she came at you, that something must've happened to really piss her off, and you asked her what happened... Did Buffy call out your name or something... and the look on Sats face said that that was pretty much it and then she grabbed her sword and was pulling it out when you clocked her with the helmet.”
I laughed. I couldn't help it. “It wasn't like I had a choice Ken. I wasn't packing.” I sighed. “Wasn't expecting or looking for a fight. Certainly wasn't expecting her buds to try to help her take me out.”
I paused and looked to Ken. “Appreciate you guys jumping in to back me up.”
I took the smallest kid from Ken, hoisted her onto my hip. “Help me get them downstairs for breakfast and go hang out with your girl.”
Breakfast with babies is a feat unlike anything else, seriously. Cereal in the hair, on the floor, up the nose, stuffed in diapers, between toes. Milk goes in one end and comes out the other, if you're lucky, sometimes it comes out the nose. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, not really, I'm just whining. I know they're little and can't help it and even with the hassles that go along with babies and keeping house, one little hug, one little hand on your cheek or little lips that kiss yours, well it makes it all worth it.
And baby laughs. Don't get me started, if ever I'm having a bad day, well a baby laugh can turn any frown of mine upside down.
I feel like I'm in another world. Here I am, three kids, alone in my house with Buffy watching and scrutinizing everything I do. I haven't smoked in a long time but right now, right here, I need a pack and a half. First thing I put the locks on all the doors, the kind up high so little hands can't get to them, don't want one of them to bust out while I've got my hands or elbows into something gross or whatnot.
I get them fed, cleaned, the place cleaned up after them and finally settle into the living room to play with them. I'm already tired. I focus on them and try to ignore her, even though I can feel her eyes boring into my head. It's all I can do not to turn around and scream at her. A few more minutes of this and I've had it.
“What?” I ask, looking at her, my eyes hard and probably black.
She shakes her head as if coming out of a trance. “Oh, sorry... I guess I was just daydreaming.”
I shake my head. “Whatever.” I mouth and move the coffee table out of the way. I grab up a kid and start doing airplane rides, letting them take turns at me like I'm some kind of ride at the fair. It doesn't take too long before she joins in, lifting, spinning and chasing. I really don't understand it. I mean, how can they still be raring to go and I'm wiped out and needing a nap?
It's not long before the music comes on and we're all doing the 'hokey pokey' and believe you me, this is not a side that I wanted to be seen, especially not by her, ever.
“Thanks.” She mumbles, catching my attention. I stop playing abruptly and look at her.
“What for?” I ask confused, still managing to swing a couple of kids at one time.
“For trying to defend my honor.” She says, lowly.
“Oh.” I return, continuing to play with the girls.
“I didn't go down on her.” She stated quickly.
“What?” I gasp out, almost choking on my own spit. I look at her incredulously, not believing my eyes, ears or head. “How?” My voice trailed off.
“Baby monitor.” She pointed towards the kitchen.
My face must've been showing the horror I now clearly felt. I shook my head, trying to get the images out. Then I laughed. I couldn't help it, and I couldn't stop. Finally, I managed. “Well, maybe that's why she was so pissed off?”
I looked at her and her face made me stop making jokes. “Sorry. It was funny but uncalled for.” I eyed her over carefully. “Why not? I mean what stopped ya?”
She sighed loudly. “I just didn't want to. I didn't want her that way, well not enough for me to want to do... that.” She blushed, causing me to smile.
I nodded and put my attention back onto the kids. “So you and Ronnie?” She asked. I ignored the question and just continued tickling the girls.
Morning brought with it a brand new set of problems. We'd been reassigned. All of us. We all sat around the kitchen island and stared at each other. “It's my fault. I was happy so they're shaking us all up.” I looked at Ronnie, who was staring back at me. “I'm not going.” I stated. “I'm staying right here and raising Cote and Cassie.”
I looked at each of them waiting. Ken sighed. “I'm going with Will but we're taking Ash and Manda with us.” I nodded.
T leaned in and breathed out heavily. “I'm heading back to the battlefield. It's where I belong.”
I looked at Lana. “I'm keeping J and K. I'm not going back into battle. I'm going to the school to train as a watcher.”
We all looked to Ronnie, who sighed and looked at the floor before looking at me. “Can we talk about it privately?” I nodded and we went upstairs to my room and closed the door. I was worried cause Jana and Kelly were Ronnie's charges.
“They've been up there a long time.” Buffy stated.
Willow looked up the stairs. “They've probably got a lot to talk about.” She offered.
“It's not the talking that I'm worried about.” Buffy muttered. “So you and Ken are back together and you guys are gonna raise kids? Together?” She added at the last second.
Willow nodded. “I didn't honestly think she'd give me a shot after what I did but she did, so I'm gonna take it and hold on for all I'm worth.”
Kennedy walked into the living room with Ash and Manda. “We're all packed.” She stated, sitting on the sofa where Willow was playing with the youngest two children. “They not done yet?” Kennedy asked, looking upstairs.
“Don't say it like that.” Buffy spat. “We don't know what they're doing.”
“Speak of the devils.” Willow whispered, motioning to the two coming down the stairs. Ronnie with a bag over her shoulder and Faith following closely behind.
“It's awfully quiet in here.” I stated, looking around. “The others already gone?”
Kennedy stood up. “Yeah, they left an hour or so ago. You two were kinda up there for a long time.”
I nodded my head but didn't admit to or acknowledge anything else. “Thanks for watching the girls for me.” Ronnie went over and hugged the kids and then hugged Ken before stopping in front of me. We looked at each other. “Wish you'd stay.” I whispered. “I know you can't but doesn't stop me from wanting it.”
A few tears slid down her face and mirrored mine. “I'm gonna regret you.” She whispered.
We leaned in and slowly kissed. We sighed against each other, the sorrow and loss permeating the room and people around us. We slowly pulled apart and a sob escaped her lips as she turned and ran from us.
I felt Kens arms wrap around me and the sobs I was trying to hold in burst forth like a dam. I sobbed and melted against her. I felt Red and B as they gathered the children up and left the room.
I'm not sure how we ended up sitting on the floor but I was emotionally wrecked: Exhausted and nauseous. I pulled in a few deep steadying breaths and pushed myself up off the floor. “You gonna be okay?” Ken asked.
“Yeah, I will be. It's just I'm losing my whole family here.” I answered, “We've been together for a long time.” Ken nodded agreeing.
I blew out a breath and sucked up my emotions. “Well, let's get you guys sent off.” I gave her a hug.
“I love you too.” Ken mouthed. “You keep in touch with us.”
“I will.” I said, as I walked her into the kitchen.
My girls ran at my legs and I gave them hugs. “Red take care of my girl here and extra special care of the A team.” I ran my hand thru Ash and Manda's hair, giving each of them a peck on the head. I gave a nod to Red. “Willow, take care of yourself as well, yeah?” She nodded, smiling. “B see ya round.” I grabbed Cote and Cassie's hands and started towards the back door. “Lock up will ya Ken, don't wanna get them all crying if we don't have to.” Ken nodded and I walked outside to the backyard with the girls.
Sometime in the middle of the night, crying woke me up. I got up groggily and made my way to the nursery. I looked at the two sleeping girls. “What the....” I could still hear a baby crying. I stumbled down the stairs and into the kitchen. I stopped dead in my tracks.
“What are you doing here?” I asked, staring in disbelief at B as she tried to quiet the squalling infant.
She looked up at me. “Me?” She asked, confusion playing over her face. “I didn't go anywhere.” She tried bouncing the baby, it screamed louder. She tried offering it a bottle but it wasn't having any of that. “I can't get it to stop.” She stated, fear lacing her words.
“Gimme.” I held my arms out for the child. I turned the child over, my hand supporting her head as I sat down and laid her over my leg, rubbing her back. She quietened. “She was just freaking cause you were freaking.” I looked over at Buff who was still looking kind of shell shocked. “Don't worry. She's okay.”
“So what are you doing here again?” I asked, looking at her.
She looked from the baby to me. “Oh... I said I wasn't going anywhere... you just assumed.”
“Oh.” I muttered, not saying anything further.
“I'm staying.” She added.
I looked at her abruptly. “Here?” I think I just blew a gasket or something. I looked at her again. “Here? With me and my kids?” I stalled again. “In my house?”
“It's the council's house Faith. And there was new vacancies.... so yeah, here, with you and your kids, in what's now our house.” She crinkled up her forehead. “And what I'm guessing to be another baby. Hey, does this mean this one's mine cause....I'm pretty sure you're supposed to know something or other before you try to keep one alive or something.”
I laughed. “They're pretty easy. Just feed em, clean em, love em. That's pretty much it... oh yeah, never take your eyes off of them or else you get what you get and it's usually something pretty dang gross.”
She scrunched up her face as she looked at the baby. “It's kinda cute but incredibly scary.”
I nodded, agreeing. “Yep, welcome to motherhood.”
The infant puked up some white milk and B started gagging. “Oh my God... can we please trade.. I'll take the biggest one and you take this one.” She gagged until she spit up in the trash can.
“Oh sure.” I smiled. “You can watch Cote, who's 4.” If she thinks she's gonna have it easy she has another thing coming. Cote can't wipe her ass for shit and she loves picking and eating boogers. I smiled big. “Cassie is 2 and who and how old is this one?” I motion to the newest bundle.
“Giles said her name is Ann-Marie. She's a few weeks old. He's supposed to be sending over the paperwork sometime today. Her status is the same as the others.”
I nodded. “You really think you're ready for this?”
She shrugged. “The only thing I can tell you without a doubt is that I'll have no regrets because I definitely won't be leaving, ever.”
“What?” I asked, half looking at her, half checking out lil bit. “Why would you put in to stay here? I mean this was a punishment for us.” I looked at her.
“You.. okay.” She hesitated, her voice getting softer. “You.” She whispered.
That kind of knocked the wind from my sails. I was confused to hell and back. “Me? What?” I looked at her. “Why me?”
She held her breath, gearing up for something. My body tensed cause this was never of the good. I concentrated on the baby, trying to hear something other than my heart beating inside my brain.
“I'd go down on you.” She whispered quickly.
“What?” I turned fully looking at her. She smiled and cooed at the baby. I burst out laughing. “Seriously?” I couldn't believe it. “That's why you're here?”
“Well I wasn't expecting Ronnie.” She muttered. “She kind of threw me off my game.” She admitted.
I sighed. “Ronnie and I had only just started thinking about it. Those tears....” I hesitated, trying to find the right words. “Those were tears of what could've been.” I sighed. “Just wasn't our time and I felt the loss of that, not only her but of the whole family unit that all of us had built.”
“I didn't know that you were going to be hurt by the reassignment.... I just wanted to set things right.” She sighed and looked up at me. “I was wrong for pulling your team from the roster.”
I didn't say anything, just patted the baby's butt.
She interrupted the silence. “Andrew calls us Fuffy.” She laughed. “He's got everybody calling us that.”
“Fuffy?” I looked at her. “What's that supposed to be?”
She smiled. “It's Faith and Buffy combined. Fuffy.”
I laughed, my dimples springing forth. “Excellent.” She laughed with me.
“So what do you think?” She reached over and touched my arm.
I breathed out heavily. “I don't know.” Her face fell. I shrugged. “I mean, how long before 'Big Trouble in Little China' shows up to kill me again?”
It was her turn to sigh. “Honestly, I don't think she'll ever want to hear your name again.”
“Shut up!” I laughed. “That really happened? I wondered, cause she got really pissed when I said it.” I laughed again.
“So what do you say?” She reached out to me again. “Want to play house?”
“In time, maybe.” I stated, smiling at her. She beamed back at me, her eyes sparkling with mischief.
The phone rung, interrupting our talk. B reached over and grabbed the phone. “Fuffy's House of Luv.” She drawled into the phone.
“Giles... uh... no... nothing illicit...Yeah I went down yesterday... Noooooo... not down like that I mean downtown and picked up the little parcel you sent me. Well no, not really a house of luv, just a... okay, it's a house of luv. No... nobody went down.... well... I might.” She hung up the phone and turned facing me.
I sat stock still, watching her face and chest change colors. Finally, I couldn't resit. “Fuffy's House of Luv?”
“In time.” She smiled. “At least that's what I'm hoping for.”
I breathed in and blew it out slowly, still smiling. “Is it down.... town?” I asked.
“It is... it's definitely down...town.... and I'll definitely be going... a lot!”