Written: April 27, 2014
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters, nor do I make any money from writing about them.
Summary: There's always been something magnetic about them, whether repeling or attracting. Faith isn't exactly Mrs. Science but she knows something other than polarity is the cause. Season 7 AU.
Faith still remembers the first time she hitchhiked. She was twelve years old and wanted to go to the Big E state fair in West Springfield. It was a yearly tradition, and just because her mom had been missing in action for two days (no surprise there) didn't mean that Faith had any intention of cancelling her plans. Instead, she stole a fifty dollar bill from her mom's hidden stash in the kitchen cupboard and thumbed a ride with her neighbors Amy Flynn and Kelly Brennan. Luckily the trucker who picked them up wasn't a sleaze and he dropped them off within a half mile of the front gate without copping so much as a single feel.
There'd been so much to see and do, and before long that fifty bucks was down to five, blown mostly at the Midway on rides and games. Soon Faith had found herself wandering around the vendors and wasting time, bitter that she hadn't brought any more money with her. As it was, she knew she was going to catch hell for taking the fifty she had.
As she passed down the center aisle of a large craft tent, a table with shiny silver jewelry caught her eye. She walked over and picked up a bangle-type bracelet that had what looked like silver ball-bearings placed throughout it. She pulled the latch open and it immediately clasped back together.
"It's magnetic," the old man behind the stand explained. "Sports injuries, arthritis; magnet therapy can help to manage pain and aid in the healing process."
"Wicked," Faith said, seemingly mesmerized. "How much?"
Faith looked behind him and noticed a small stash of white cardboard jewelry boxes.
"Throw in a gift box and it's a deal."
"Sold!" the old man replied cheerily.
He turned to grab one of the boxes and Faith took off down the crowded aisle with the bracelet clutched tightly in her candy apple-sticky hand, knocking into everyone who got in her way. Her friends were impressed with her shoplifting skills and they took turns wearing it on the way back home that night. Faith was proud of her find and was eager to show it to her mom and tell her how it worked.
But the bracelet didn't help worth a damn when Faith's mom broke her arm for taking that fifty dollar bill. After wearing it for a month when the cast finally came off and still suffering from soreness and aching, she took the bracelet off and tossed it into the trash, right where it belonged.
Ever since that time, Faith has been of the opinion that there isn't an easy remedy for pain. You feel it, you learn to live with it, and you take advantage of any way to dull it when you can.
Being a slayer has given her more injuries than she can count, and she's not even adding in the ones that are mental and emotional. Slayer healing is great and all, but she can't help but feel that, if she's supposed to be some kind of baddy-slaying superhero, the super-healing should be turned up even a few more notches. She spent eight months in a coma recovering from her big battle with Buffy; what the hell was her slayer-healing doing for her during that time? It sure was taking its sweet ass time.
After she's done getting rid of Angelus and bringing Angel back in Los Angeles, she finds herself in Angel's study while waiting for Willow to drive her back to Sunnydale to deal with the next Big Bad. He's got shelves full of books, and while reading isn't really her thing, her attention is drawn to a set of three old leather-bound and worn books on the topmost shelf. She's drawn to them like a magnet, running her fingertips over the brittle leather spines as she reads the fading gold-embossed engravings. Selecting one at random, she removes it from its spot and sets it down on Angel's desk.
The pages are old and fragile but she can't help but turn them one at a time, skimming over the hand-written text.
It's not some random old book; it's a journal.
A watcher's journal.
Angel has some serious contraband! She wonders if the Council knows about it.
It's written by a watcher named Douglas Kind who was in charge of two slayers in the late 1800's. But they weren't two slayers successively; they were two slayers simultaneously.
Ginny and Evie Dunston from the good ol' USA. They were identical in every way, and when the spark that made a girl a slayer was created at conception, it passed on to both of them.
Douglas wrote about the girls in detail, from their identical abilities and strengths to their synchronicity in battle. That bit makes Faith smile just a little; there had been a time when she felt like that with Buffy. Synchronized slaying, Buffy had called it.
She wonders exactly when they started falling out of step.
The journal is interesting in every way, but what fascinates Faith most is the section on the girls' healing abilities. When separated, they still experienced advanced healing. However, when together, those abilities were even stronger and more accelerated. Evie had experienced a fractured ankle after a jump from a second story balcony. Ginny had spent the evening with her, laying her hands on the injury while Evie cried with pain.
By the morning, the injury had been mostly healed. Evie could walk - albeit with a limp, and within three days she was back to full slaying duties.
Faith sits back at that point and closes the book. It's a lot to take in, not because these innate abilities in her are stronger than she'd ever thought, but because she realizes that she needlessly wasted away in a coma for eight months of her life. That's eight months that she's never getting back, when just the simplest of touches could have had her out of there in days.
And it's all her fault for pushing Buffy away in the first place. For making her an enemy when all she'd ever wanted was to be her friend.
Standing, she leaves the book open on the desk and heads out to join the others, not wanting to dwell on the past for a moment longer. She still has bruises from her fight against the Beast and Angelus, but she bites back the pain and buries it deep because she's pretty sure Buffy's not gonna offer to cuddle them away when she gets to Sunnydale.
When they arrive, she finds that Sunnydale is just as fucked up as ever. There's a crazy-ass preacher turning girls into walking contusions, his eyeless minions who are eerily always on target with their knives, some kind of whacked-out prehistoric vamps that could give a T-Rex a run for its money, and last but not least, The First. She's not exactly sure what it's capable of yet but she's heard things and it doesn't look good for anyone.
Buffy isn't exactly jumping with joy at Faith's return, but desperate as they are, she welcomes her help. Faith notices that it looks like Buffy's seen better days as well. She's thinner than usual and has dark circles under her eyes. There are bumps and bruises in various stages of healing on the exposed parts of her skin and Faith wants to just reach out and touch them, make them disappear.
She wants to make all of Buffy's pains disappear, because she knows a lot of them still have to do with their past and her being there now is just making them ache again.
But she can't do anything about it, because this is real life, and in real life she and Buffy aren't the touchy feely type - at least not with each other, and that's a damn shame. Faith can just imagine the harm they could repair together, and it makes those mental and emotional injuries start to ache again.
So she does what she can to ease the pain; she grabs the young slayers-in-training and heads out to the Bronze for music, dancing, and her favorite anesthetic - alcohol. It's the best way she knows to numb the pain, and the young girls are more than happy to join her for a little bit of down time. They deserve it after all they've been through.
Unfortunately for all, the fun doesn't last long. The cops show up with guns and a chip on their shoulders, and they haul Faith out of the club and into the alley. She's expecting to get arrested and has no intention of going along quietly, but she quickly finds out that the cops don't plan to arrest her. It looks like the active hellmouth is affecting them too and they're more beast than man. They take turns beating her from every which direction, and while she holds her own as best as she can, there's no way to hold off an attack from four men with weapons indefinitely.
She's down on the ground and getting kicked when the young slayers bust out of the club to help her, and while she's grateful for the assistance, it only proves to come back and bite her in the ass when Buffy shows up to see the end of the spectacle. The girls are sent home but Buffy sticks around to give a stern talking to Faith.
Faith is battered, she's beaten, and she's tired to shit of Buffy always treating her like the bad guy. She's here to help, and while - yeah, in retrospect - taking the girls out to a club might not have been her brightest idea yet, at least she hadn't led them into a death trap the night before like Buffy had.
The conversation ends like so many of theirs have in the past - with a punch to the face, and Faith is left alone on the cold hard ground with possible brain damage while Buffy stomps away in anger.
Her back throbs. Her limbs ache. Every breath makes her ribs scream out in pain, and she's pretty sure her jaw is damn well dislocated. She sits there for a few minutes in silence, holding her cheek in her hand and hoping like hell the unconscious cops don't wake up ready for round two because she's pretty sure she won't make it through another bout.
It's about a two-mile walk back to Buffy's and she's not sure it's entirely smart to go back there, but she doesn't have anyplace else to go. So she limps along slowly, every step sending twinges of pain throughout her body. She's still dizzy from Buffy's hit and probably concussed; she's amazed she doesn't pass out in someone's driveway.
It takes three times as long as it should, but she finally makes it back safe and sound though a bit worse for wear. There's a meeting going on in the living room when she gets there but she ignores the wary glances she gets and staggers up the stairs, doing the best she can not to stumble. She doesn't have much cred left at this point and she needs to keep what little she has if she wants to make it out of this with even a single person left on her side.
By the time she reaches the second floor, she hears hushed voices from downstairs. Xander and Giles offer to take the young slayers back to their places for the night. Everyone needs a break, they say. Buffy needs to rest.
Yeah, because Buffy's sore fist is surely a bigger concern than Faith's sore everything.
Faith walks into the bathroom and shuts the door behind her. She manages to kick off her jeans and socks, but her shirt and underwear never quite make it to the floor. There's no way she can lift her arms over her head and no way she can bend low enough to peel her panties off her bruised legs.
She catches a glimpse of herself in the mirror and pauses for a moment, unable to look away. She looks like something out of a nightmare. Bruises and bumps mar her skin. There's dried blood on her lower lip from where it split when Buffy punched her. Her slayer healing is already working - at least she can breathe now without wanting to punch herself in the face - but it's slow, so slow, and she knows it's going to be days before she's back up to snuff.
And with the big bad getting closer and closer to them, she doesn't know if she has that kind of time.
The water is hot when she steps into the shower, which is apparently a rarity in a house with so many people under its roof. It soaks through her shirt and clings heavily to her skin, making her wince with pain.
Just downstairs is a room full of girls who could be helping her right now. She's pretty sure they can, anyway. They're not full slayers yet but they still have that spark in them. A single touch, a bit of closeness could help to ease her pain; could help to fade her bruises and mend her cuts. But they'll all be too afraid of Buffy's wrath to get too close to Faith now, especially after what happened at the club. And Buffy, well . . . Buffy is . . .
Faith closes her eyes and focuses her senses, feeling the dull tingle that alerts her to Buffy's proximity sharpen.
. . . and Buffy is standing outside the bathroom door?
A moment later Faith hears the latch release and the door opens slowly, creaking as it pushes inward. She hears soft steps padding into the room before the latch catches and the door closes behind Buffy. Faith holds her breath, ready to be scolded or kicked out or whatever the hell comes next. She's too tired to argue, to sore to fight, and too weary to continue the vicious cycle they seem perpetually stuck in.
Wesley once told Faith she was like a rabid dog and needed to be put down. She wonders if Buffy is finally here to get the job done. Faith can tell that the house is empty now with the exception of the two of them. It's the perfect opportunity for Buffy to rid herself of Faith once and for all.
Buffy's silhouette approaches the opaque shower curtain and Faith just waits silently. She braces herself, waiting to feel the knife plunge into her gut once again. Buffy's words catch her completely off guard.
"I'm sorry I did that to you."
An apology. Buffy Summers has just apologized to her. Once she'd tried to apologize to Buffy and Buffy had told her she'd beat her to death if she did. If this isn't some weird hellmouthy twist of events, she doesn't know what is.
It takes her a moment to find her voice, and when she does, it's raspier than usual.
"Yeah. M'sorry you did, too. I should probably apologize for forcin' ya to do it."
"You didn't force my hand, Faith. I did it on my own. And I was wrong. Were you a butthead for taking a bunch of underage girls out to a club? Absolutely. But then you gave me some home truths and I didn't want to hear them."
"Guess we've never liked hearing the truth from each other, huh."
Silence stretches between them, the falling water the only sound in the entire house. Faith's not sure if she should say something, but Buffy's the one who came into the bathroom after her so she leaves the ball in Buffy's court.
"How badly are you hurt?" Buffy finally asks, her voice quiet as though she's afraid to hear the answer.
Faith thinks about lying. Five by five is her standard response, but honestly, she's about two by one right now. She takes a deep breath - her ribs still aching enough to make her grimace - and sighs.
"Maybe a couple broken ribs. Bruises'll take a couple days. Ain't anything worse than we've done to each other over the years. It'll all fade away eventually, right?"
"Yeah. Yeah, you're probably right," Buffy replies.
"Right. So . . ."
"So, I'll just, uh, leave you to it then. House is empty. Some silence and space to recoup, at least until tomorrow."
"Sounds like heaven," Faith replies. It really does. She went from a jail full of crazy women to a house full of crazy women. Some quiet time sounds more soothing than she thought possible.
" I . . . I can leave too, if you want . . ."
"No!" Faith says a bit too eagerly. "I mean, uh, no. Just stay, B. It's your house."
"Okay," Buffy says after a moment. "Good. Because I probably would have slept on the porch."
Faith chuckles lightly but her smile fades as she sees Buffy's silhouette start to retreat from behind the shower curtain. She feels momentarily panicked. They've never spoken like this; openly, and with concern, and without fighting. It's making her long for something more, something she can't explain, and the very feeling threatens to choke her.
"I'll just be downstairs then," Buffy says and Faith can hear her hand on the doorknob.
It takes everything she has not to leap out of the shower, but she can't stop the words from escaping her mouth.
"No, wait!" she says. "Wait . . ." she pushes her sodden hair back from her forehead and blinks the warm water from her eyes. "Just . . . can you stay, B? Will you stay here?"
Buffy is silent and Faith feels like a total creep. One heart-to-heart does not an entire bad history erase, but Faith can't bear the thought of being alone right now when Buffy is right there.
The complete and total lack of reply has Faith thinking Buffy's already left or hopped out the window or something, and she can't take the waiting any longer. She grasps the shower curtain in one hand and pulls it back just enough to look out into the bathroom. Buffy's standing beside the door looking indecisive, but when she sees the state Faith is in, her eyes widen in shock.
"Oh god, Faith . . ." she murmurs.
And without another word, Buffy walks to the shower and steps in, forcing Faith to take a step back under the warm water. She's still fully clothed and the water begins to soak into her clothing but Buffy doesn't seem to notice. Her fingertips travel over Faith's skin, grazing gently over every bump and bruise.
It hurts but Faith is too shocked to say anything. She watches as Buffy's gaze pores over every one of her injuries. Eventually her eyes slip closed and she relishes in the feel of each touch and caress, all of her scars and wounds exposed to Buffy's gentle ministrations.
Something in Faith's body surges; a power she's never felt before. It's like everything she is gets magnified by ten and when she opens her eyes, she finds Buffy staring up into them.
"Did you feel that too?" Buffy whispers.
Her fingertips have stopped moving against Faith's skin. They stare at one another and Faith finally nods, her mouth suddenly dry. The pain in her ribs drastically decreases and, taking a big fucking chance, she slides her fingers under the hem of Buffy's top and begins to lift. The material is sodden and heavy and difficult to peel off, but Buffy raises her arms above her head to help out. Her gaze finds Faith's again and she holds it as she slowly starts to remove her own bra and pants.
Faith watches, her heart fluttering in her chest. She doesn't know what they're doing. She doesn't know what Buffy is thinking. All she knows is that every tiny scrap of pain she feels is slowly fading until all that's left is the feel of Buffy.
Buffy runs the backs of her fingers over Faith's abdomen, her fingernails tickling her skin. Faith's lips curve up in the tiniest of smiles - she's always been ticklish - and Buffy smiles in kind. Buffy looks momentarily nervous, but then confidence resurfaces and her hands grip the bottom of Faith's tank top, slowly sliding it upward.
Having felt like she's on the top of the world for the last few minutes, Faith forgets for a second that her ribs are still pretty severely injured. She gasps as she tries to lift her arms up and Buffy stops, giving her a moment before gently easing the shirt off completely.
Buffy's gaze roams over Faith's bruised body, every dip and every curve. So many of her bruises match the fading ones on Buffy's torso and, for a moment, it's like they're Ginny and Evie. They're alike in so many ways, right down to the twin puncture marks on the sides of their necks. Buffy's gaze is drawn to Faith's and her fingertips trail up and over her chest and neck until they gently brush over the still fresh wounds.
Faith's fingertips trace a similar pattern up Buffy's naked torso and she cups her neck, her thumb tracing on the scars left there from Angel so many years ago. She looks up to find Buffy looking into her eyes, and without hesitating, she eases Buffy forward until their lips meet.
Their kiss is gentle, Buffy careful of Faith's split lip, but Faith can barely contain herself. Her instincts are screaming harder, faster, hurry before she changes her mind, but Buffy slows her down, keeping the kiss soft and slow. Their tongues touch and Faith melts, feeling something inside of her break - or maybe snapping back into place.
She's not sure, and she doesn't really care. Buffy Summers is kissing her, kissing her well and proper, and despite her injuries her body has never felt stronger or more alive.
Every caress is a bruise being healed, every kiss a scar erased. They're deleting four years of pain and Faith realizes the salty water running over their lips is their combined tears and not from the shower.
Her mind wanders back to that time she was twelve and stole the healing bracelet. She'd thought the whole thing was a total sham, and maybe she was right. But there's something magnetic about what's happening between her and Buffy right now. They're drawn to one another, grasping, pulling, and it's making all the difference.
Them being together like this? It's healing every wrong they've ever done to one another, and it's the most beautiful thing she's ever felt.
Faith is not one to be dominated but she lets Buffy lead them, too afraid to break the spell they're under. Her back meets the cold tile wall and she gasps gently into Buffy's mouth. Buffy pulls back just enough to look up into Faith's eyes, a question on her face. Faith knows what the answer is.
"Don't stop, B," she begs. "Please."
She grabs Buffy's hand and directs it down her stomach, guiding it into her panties. Buffy cups her gently and Faith places her free hand behind Buffy's neck, urging her forward until they're kissing again.
Any uncertainty Buffy feels fades away and Faith sighs into her mouth as her fingers slip over her, seeking out her clit. She presses against it and Faith groans, feeling another surge of power in her body. Faith doesn't know if it's a slayer thing or a Buffy and Faith thing or some kind of weird wonky voodoo thing, but whatever it is, it's amazing.
Buffy's fingers slip lower and Faith wants to complain, but then two digits deftly enter her and that complaint dies on her lips. Those long, dexterous fingers slide in and out of her while Buffy's palm presses against her clit, and Faith's mind goes fuzzy. She can barely remember her own name, but she can certainly remember Buffy's and she tilts her head back against the wall, chanting it like a prayer.
Their slick bodies are pressed together everywhere, Faith's thigh wrapped up over Buffy's hip, and Faith feels herself starting to lose control. Buffy kisses up over her jaw to the corner of her mouth and Faith feels her whisper against her lips, "Just let go, Faith."
And Faith does. She lets go of every bad memory, of every wound, of every fight. Her orgasm washes over her and she's reborn, no longer the girl who hurt everyone but the girl who came back to help.
Buffy holds her until her body is done shaking and they stay under the spray of the water until it starts to go cold. Faith presses a kiss to Buffy's knuckles that only ten minutes before had been bruised, now soft and unmarred. Buffy looks over Faith's body in wonder, the bruises now mostly faded.
"How are you feeling?" Buffy asks quietly, her fingers tracing over Faith's collarbones and down her arms.
"Better," Faith answers plainly. "You?"
"Like new," Buffy answers with a smile.
She kisses Faith's now fully-healed bottom lip and steps out of the shower. Faith follows closely behind, taking caution as she dries off with a fluffy beige towel. Her ribs are still a bit sore (maybe it takes two orgasms to fix breaks?) and her right shoulder's kinda tight, but she can't believe just how awesome slayer healing can be.
She'll need to call Angel and tell him to make some additions to that book. As thorough as Douglas Kind had been, Faith is pretty sure that Ginny and Evie never tried slayer healing like she and Buffy just had. Notes need to be made. There could be experiments.
And hell, she'll volunteer herself as guinea pig if it means she gets to try that with Buffy again!
Replaying the previous fifteen minutes over and over in her mind, Faith smirks to herself as she finishes drying off. She looks up to see Buffy wrapped in a similar towel, using another to dry her hair. Buffy's skin is once again perfect and unmarred and positively glowing, and Faith is so distracted by it that she trips over her discarded jeans and bangs her knee into the vanity.
She rubs it gingerly, meeting Buffy's gaze in the mirror.
"You did that on purpose, didn't you," Buffy says rather than asks, wearing a smirk of her own.
"Probably seem a hell of a lot cooler if I say yeah, right?"
"You can keep your street cred. I won't tell a soul."
"Not a soul to tell, remember? Empty house."
"Ah, right," Buffy says playfully. "And now that you're feeling better, I'm sure you'll want to take full advantage, won't you."
Faith laughs and takes a step closer, her fingertips slipping under the top of Buffy's towel and teasing the skin there.
"Well, I should return the favor," she says. "But if it makes you feel better, I can toss you around for a bit first so we can try out that super-healing thing together again. Plus, I think it counts as research. I'll let you explain to Giles how it works."
"We could do that, sure," Buffy says, her voice suddenly husky. She looks up at Faith through her eyelashes, her lips curling into a smile, and says, "but you'll have to catch me first, and with that gimpy knee, Faith, that might be a little bit difficult for you."
And just like that, Buffy yanks off Faith's towel and slips out of the bathroom, leaving her standing there naked and laughing. Another surge of power courses through Faith as she limps off after Buffy, her slayer power growing by the minute.
She feels strong. She feels whole. She feels unstoppable.
And she knows they're going to win.
The First is as good as dead . . . well, at least after they're done fixing Faith's bruised knee.
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