Suggested music: Shy by Ani Difranco
What's the difference between love and lust?
I've tried to figure that out for a long time. I mean, I've wanted a lot of people, not gonna lie about that. But it was different with Buffy. Yeah, I wanted her. A lot. So much that it fucked me up in the head.
Not saying I wasn't a bit fucked up before then, but that's beside the point.
I'd only ever wanted people in a sexual kinda way. Never had a 'relationship' and never wanted one. Saw what it did to my parents and figured I could live without being in one.
But then Buffy fucking Summers came into my life and went and fucked all that right up. I wanted her, and I don't mean only in the sex kinda way. I mean in the love kinda way. I wanted to love her, to be loved by her. A fuckin relationship, the whole deal. Knew it wouldn't happen though, so I did everything I possibly could to push her away.
Having her as a friend wasn't enough for me back then. It was all or nothing.
I chose nothing.
Thing about prison though? You get lots of time to think abut things. How you got there, how you coulda done things differently. Ultimately, all that thinking is for shit cos you're there anyway, but it does make you realize things.
Me? I realized that yeah, I was in love with Buffy back in Sunnydale. Am I still? I dunno; does shit like that ever go away? But what I've come to realize is that unlike years ago, I'm content with having her as only a friend now.
Better to have friends than be alone.
Took me a long time to be able to admit that – that I don't wanna be alone – but the time it took me was well spent. I'm in a better place now. A more peaceful place.
A drunker place.
I'm not a drunk, so quit thinking that shit.
I'm in the middle of some club in LA, sat on a big ol' couch with Buffy, Xander, and Kennedy and Willow while Dawnie and a bunch of the other girls are out on the dance floor getting their groove on.
Yeah, Scoobies decided to have one last night out together as a group before we all leave LA in the morning. Sure, friends usually stick together, but they all decided that they needed some time to enjoy their newfound leases on life.
As for me, I'm defo gonna enjoy my new lease on life. Giles has the hookup, man, I'm telling ya. Think he made about ten, maybe eleven calls and my record was buried deeper than Jimmy Hoffa's body. Red helped, making sure to zap any lingering records that were in the government computer system, and poof . . . Faith is a free girl.
I promised Giles that I'd help him out with the whole slayer gig, so he's more than happy about his decision to help me out. Guess he figured what better way to whip the troublesome new slayers into shape than with the original troublesome slayer there to play poster child.
So, B and Dawnie are taking off to Italy in the morning, and the rest of the Scoobies are taking little detours on their way to their new lives. Tonight is their last hurrah, and what better way to celebrate than by getting tanked and dancing to some crazy loud music?
We've been here for a few hours, having way too many drinks and reliving tales of the good ol' days back in Sunnydale. Buffy's been really cool with me, sharing tales with everyone about our joint slaying adventures and totally omitting the parts where I went a little evil.
Yunno what? Totally can't complain. It's nice to be remembered for good stuff and not for the million times I fucked up.
The night's winding down now and Xander left with a bunch of the younger girls and Dawn, making sure they all got back to the hotel safely. Red and B have been going back and forth with memories for the last twenty minutes now, and I'll tell ya . . . there's absolutely no fuckin way to interrupt two drunk chicks that are talking a mile a minute. Ken checked into la-la land about five minutes ago. Girl's a lightweight. Seven drinks and she's asleep on the gigantic couch with an ever attractive dab of drool in the corner of her mouth.
I've been lost in my own thoughts for a while now too, but I'm pulled out of them and back to the now when I feel a slight tugging on the bottom of my shirt.
"I'm gonna get another beer. You want?" Buffy asks as she stands and indicates the bar.
"Sounds good," I answer with a smile.
She bounces off toward the bar and I turn back just in time to see Kennedy fall off the couch as Willow leans forward reaching for her drink.
"Oh, baby!" Willow says as she leans down and helps a disoriented Kennedy up from the floor. "I'm sorry, I didn't realize you were sleeping."
"I think I broke my head," Kennedy says, rubbing the goose egg that's forming on the side of her forehead.
"Poor baby, we need to get you home and get you fixed up."
Willow stands up and ducks her head under Kennedy's arm, helping her to her feet.
"Sexual healing?" Kennedy asks and laughs at her own joke. It's okay, I chuckled too.
"Oh, I'm thinking something more along the lines of two aspirin and a spell that will keep you from puking in the nice hotel bed," Willow replies, then looks over to me. "Tell Buffy we'll see her in the morning before she goes?"
"Sure thing," I answer with a nod.
"Thanks. And Faith?"
"It's been nice. I may actually miss you," she says with a grin.
"Likewise, Glinda. Keep Ken in check, yeah? And I'll see ya around."
"I look forward to it," she says with a genuine smile, then turns and helps Kennedy stumble toward the exit.
A few minutes pass before Buffy comes bouncing back to the couch, swaying to the music while trying not to spill our drinks. She stops when she reaches the area we've been sitting at and looks around, confused.
"Either I'm really drunk and I can't see my friends, or they've gone invisible." She gets really serious for a second and looks at me. "Oh god, are they invisible?"
I can't help but laugh.
"You're safe, blondie, no one's invisible, at least not so you'd notice."
That seems to appease her, cos she starts up her dance-walk again and plops down next to me on the couch, nearly spilling our drinks all over us.
"Careful, Grace," I tease her, taking my bottle of beer from her hand.
"It's Buffy, not Grace," she corrects me with a grin. "No confusing me with your alternate-lifestyle conquests."
Shit. I knew I never shoulda told her that I dig chicks too. Every chance she gets, she likes to tease me about it and make 'alternate-lifestyle' jokes. Man, I bet it'd shut her up if I told her that whenever I was with a chick, I was busy pretending it was her.
Then again, I'm pretty sure that friends don't say shit like that to friends, so I decide to let it go for now.
"Now don't be jealous, B. Just cos you never got a turn on Faith's wild ride doesn't mean you have to be bitter. Besides . . . I'm all about the good deeds these days. I'm more than happy to teach you the mechanics of Bisexuality 101."
Ha. Pretty sure friends don't tease each other quite like that either, but . . . what the hell. We're leaving in the morning. No reason to be shy, right?
"You, my pervy little friend, wish," she says, all close against my side.
Pretty sure she should stop the drinking though, because she's getting pretty friendly here with the closeness and the touching.
Not complaining, but . . . it's not easy for me to fight back the temptation when I've got a nice buzz going and I'm feeling all relaxed and mellow like I am right now.
I don't know if it's the drink or the atmosphere or the fact that we're all outta here tomorrow, but I can't help responding honestly to what she just said.
B looks over at me, her eyebrows knitted together a bit as she smiles, confused.
Time to go for broke. Hopefully she's drunk enough to forget it in the morning.
"Always have, B. Was totally head-over-heals crazy bout ya back in the day. Wouldn't have liked anything more than to have shown ya the ropes."
"What?" she asks again, smiling all big now. "You were not."
"Yeah way. I mean, yeah, I hated ya and stuff. But that's cos I was so in love with you and you were all straight and bein all lovey with Angel and shit. Made me fuckin crazy."
She looks at me for a second, studying my face, probably trying to see if I'm lying or just teasing her.
"Why didn't you say anything?" she asks, sitting sideways next to me now, totally facing me.
"See above answer, re: you being all straight and in love with Angel."
"Angel and I were doomed from the start and you knew that."
"Yup. Point is you didn't though. What was I gonna do? Be all like, 'Wassup B? You and deadboy are totally fucked. Wanna come over and learn how to ride pussy?' Don't think that woulda worked."
I stop and reach forward to grab a napkin from the table, then hand it to Buffy so she can clean the drink she just spit all over herself. She accepts it and dabs at her shirt and the couch, looking all embarrassed.
"Nice going, Grace," I tease her again, using another napkin to wipe some beer from her chin.
She looks up into my eyes and my hand freezes on her face.
"You should've said something," she says. "Maybe not, yunno, exactly like you just said. But you should've said something else. I might've listened."
"Yeah, maybe," I say, my eyes still locked on hers. I take a deep breath and look back to the table in front of us, tossing the now damp napkin on it. "Doesn't really matter now though. Past's the past and all that."
"Yeah," she says almost sadly, resting back on the couch.
"And hey, the future's the future, too. Tomorrow we all get on some planes and take off in different directions to start these great new lives, right? I mean, we all may never see each other again. Crazy, right?"
Her voice is a lot quieter now, and she's off in some far distant place in her mind. We sit in silence for a while, nursing our last drinks, before I finally suggest that maybe we should get back and get some rest for the big day tomorrow.
The cab ride back is also quiet for the most part, with just some empty chatter about check out times and flight numbers. It's not awkward. It just is what it is, yunno?
When we get into the elevator and head up to our rooms, I'm more than a bit shocked to feel Buffy's hand slip into mine. I look down at our hands, then up at Buffy. She's smiling all soft, and I see it there . . . forgiveness. Complete and total forgiveness, a clean slate.
The moment is interrupted by the ding of the elevator and the doors sliding open.
"This is my floor," I say, giving her hand a little squeeze.
Buffy hesitantly lets go of my hand. Weird, but I won't think about it now. I go to say my goodbye to her, to tell her that no matter where she goes or what she does she'll be fine because she's Buffy, but I'm temporarily silenced when I feel her embrace me in a warm hug.
"Be good," she says, her head resting on my shoulder and her warm breath caressing over my ear.
"Me? Always, B."
She pulls back just a bit and looks up into my eyes, then leans forward and places the softest, most chaste kiss right on the corner of my mouth. My eyes slam shut and I inhale deeply, trying to fight the urge to respond in the way I want to: pushing her up against the elevator wall and taking her the way I've always wanted her.
After a second I feel her pull back and I open my eyes again, looking down at her.
It takes me a second but I finally remember that I have feet – and legs – so I offer her a little smile and use them, walking my ass right out of that elevator and toward my room. Just as I slide my key into the door, I hear the elevator ding again. I look over wistfully, hoping to see Buffy running toward me with her arms out, but it's just a bellboy.
"Ma'am," he says and nods as he passes.
I nod back and unlock the door, stepping inside the darkened room. A quick flick of the light switch fixes that right up, and I can see a folder placed on the bed. Giles musta stopped by. I sit on the edge of the bed and open up the folder, smiling all big when I find a passport and a plane ticket inside.
Faith Lehane, free and living easy.
Looks like I'm headed to Barbados to pick up a new slayer, Liana. Leave it to Giles to send me to Barbados and expect me to leave on the same day. Ain't no way. I'll change the ticket tomorrow afternoon, make it so I can stay for a few days to get some sun and fun.
I'll need a bathing suit. Fuck, I bet they have nude beaches there. Maybe I can save the fifty bucks . . .
A knock at the door pulls me from my thoughts. Probably Giles coming to check that I got the folder. Folder in hand, I make my way to the door, ready to give him hell for being a scrooge with the free time.
Needless to say, I'm a bit more than surprised to see Buffy standing there, hands on either side of the door frame, looking all kindsa charged up.
"Uh, hey. You need an escort to your room, B?" I ask, forgetting that she'd had a lot to drink.
"I'm not drunk," she says quickly. "My last three drinks had no alcohol in them. I . . ." she stops and looks down, fighting with herself.
"What?" I ask, taking a step closer.
She looks up, determination in her eyes.
"Let's not ask what next, or how or why. I . . . I'm leaving in the morning."
She's looking at me, waiting for me to respond in some way, but I'm at a bit of a loss. Is she . . .?
She takes a step closer and I feel her hand on my bicep, holding it gently.
Shit, I think she is.
When I grin at her, she smiles back shyly. Well I'll be damned. I step back from the door, giving her plenty of room to walk in.
"Then let's not be shy," I tell her, looking her up and down as she walks in and past me.
Time for a little Bisexuality 101.
I turn to close the door and Buffy's all over me before I can even fully turn around. Her hands are in my hair and she's holding me to her, kissing me with all she's got. I match her every nibble and every kiss, all while trying my best to undo the buttons on her shirt.
Now, I've never had problems in the bedroom, right? But there are like eleventy-seven buttons on this tiny damn shirt and I can't get a fucking one of them undone. I'm about to complain when I feel her hands leave my hair and grab onto the shirt, ripping it off of herself.
"Clothes are bad," she says breathlessly as she bring her lips back to mine, kissing me again while trying to get my shirt off.
No way in hell I'm letting her rip this shirt cos I just got it like three days ago, so I help her out and lift it off, tossing it down to the side.
She pulls back and looks down, checking out the goods. Bras are for suckers.
"You've always had the best body," she says as she slowly runs her hands over my stomach and up my sides, pulling me right up against her.
"Don't talk til you've seen the ass," I tell her as I keep trying to undress her.
"Oh, I've seen the ass," she says as she takes hold of my butt with both hands, giving it a nice grope. "Ever wonder why I'd get all pissy if you lagged behind me while patrolling, but I never cared when you walked ahead?"
I grin all big as I think back and remember just that.
"You weren't the only one studying bisexuality back then," she finishes with a grin as I finally get both of our pants unbuttoned and down.
I try to walk us over to the bed, but my feet get tangled in my pants that are pooled around my ankles and we stumble and flop onto the bed in a heap. We laugh for a moment or so before I suddenly realize this isn't starting out so smoothly.
"For the record, that little stumbling incident doesn't make me any less smooth or fly," I tell her. "Everyone stumbles before they get into their groove."
"Sure thing, Grace," she teases, and I grin down at her.
"No getting me confused with the girls from your expeditions into alternative lifestyles," I say, mimicking her earlier words.
Buffy slides her fingers back into my hair and stares into my eyes, letting her legs fall apart just a bit so that I can slide down between them. She bites on her bottom lip and I moan softly as our centers press together.
"Never been about Grace; it's always been about Faith," she says quietly before pulling me down to her lips, kissing me all soft and deep.
I was wrong earlier. She wasn't offering me forgiveness with a look. She's offering me forgiveness with a gesture, and I happily accept.
Hours pass and we finally fall asleep. I'm not sure what time it is when I first crack my eye open to see sunlight, and I don't have a chance to look over at the alarm clock before I hear the door open.
I turn my head just in time to see the housekeeper walking in with her large key ring, expecting to find an empty room.
"Hey. Morning,"I say, my voice thick and scratchy.
She jumps up and clutches her hand over her heart, the keys jangling in her chubby hand.
"Dios mio!" she exclaims, then quickly closes her eyes and tries to make a quick exit. "Lo siento, Missus."
The door closes and I roll over, tasting the pillow with my grin. I take a few minutes to stretch out, noticing the completely empty bed.
It's okay, I wasn't expecting her to be there. She had a plane to catch, after all.
After a few minutes I sit up in the bed, pulling the sheets up over my chest. They're all twisted and still damp with sweat and god knows what else. I can't help the big ol' smile that comes up on my face when I remember last night. The first time, and the second time, and the seventh and eighth time . . . damn.
I flop back down onto the mattress and close my eyes, pretending for a minute that Buffy's still here and that I can feel the mattress sink under her weight as she comes back from the bathroom. It's stupid, sure, but hey . . . I'm basking.
When I open my eyes, I notice something sitting on the bedside table. It's the folder Giles left, but there's some writing on it. I lean over and grab it, pulling it onto the bed so I can read it.
'Giles is thinking of adding a Slayer training facility in Rome. You should ask him about it'.
Maybe I'll forget about changing the Barbados trip and get right on Giles about that facility.
My stomach growls. I'm suddenly craving Italian.
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