Chapter Three

Cordelia and Faith had gone their own ways after the boutique, Cordelia leaving Faith with just a wink and a smirk after ringing out her purchases. Faith had wanted to talk about what Cordelia meant about consolation prizes and Buffy but there were two problems. The first was that Faith didn't want to look needy and the second was that Cordelia did her best to put some physical distance between them at the first opportunity she could do so.

Now that it was two days after their changing-room liaison, Faith figured that enough time had passed to bring it up again. That was why she found herself waiting in the high school library for Cordelia to show up for what felt like half the day already.

She was bored out of her mind and it must have been plainly obvious.

"Perhaps you'd like to help me with some menial tasks to occupy your time," Giles offered.

"Why, so I can be bored working rather than bored sitting? I'll pass," Faith replied.

Giles lips curved up in a small smile as he carried a large pile of books precariously from the front desk to a small metal cart.

"I've already apologized that I can't let you train now. There are too many students coming and going throughout the school day. Surely they'd find it odd to see a sweaty young woman trying to pummel me about."

Faith shrugged. "Think about it, G. Stuffy librarian found getting sweaty with a hot piece of ass. Could be just what your rep needs."

"Yes, I suppose it could be . . . if my goal was to lose my job and be reported to the authorities."

"Hey, I'm eighteen," Faith added helpfully. "Ain't illegal if it's consensual." She grinned as she watched Giles splutter and nearly drop the pile of books he was carrying. Not that she'd consent, but damn was it fun watching him squirm.

"Perhaps it's best if we stop speaking," he said awkwardly.

"Now there's a menial task I can do," Faith replied, still grinning.

She turned her attention back to the magazine she'd been browsing through and looked up again only when she heard the double doors swing open a few minutes later and the sound of high-heels clicking on the tiled floor. A smile crept up on her face when she saw that it was Cordelia, but the girl barely paid her any notice besides a brief nod.

"Giles? Where do you keep your books on the French Revolution? Mr. Kemp says I can't get out of writing my report just because I have an aversion to musty old books, which is totally unfair. If I don't look out for my lung health, who will?" Cordelia asked.

Giles raised his eyebrows but kept back whatever comment was on the tip of his tongue and instead replied, "In the history section, Cordelia. Check the rear stacks, center aisle. Actually," he looked down at the books he was currently loading onto the metal cart, "these books need to be returned. I can show you on the way if you'd like . . ."

And suddenly Faith saw her opening. She jumped up and grabbed the rest of the books from his arms and threw them awkwardly on the already full cart.

"I got this. Pretty sure you've got some important library stuff to do anyhow, right G?"

"Yes, and helping students find books is considered 'important library stuff,' Faith," Giles replied easily.

"I mean other important library stuff," she ground out, then widened her eyes a bit and nodded her head almost imperceptibly toward his office.

Suddenly Giles realized himself and took a step back, smiling. "Of course. Thank you for your assistance, Faith. You're an immeasurable asset to the Sunnydale High School Library, as well as the world."

Faith narrowed her eyes at him and would have thrown one of the books from the cart at his quickly retreating form if it wouldn't have completely blown her cover. When she collected herself and turned to face Cordelia, she saw that Cordelia was looking at her skeptically with her arms crossed over her chest.

"You're going to help me?"

"That's the plan," Faith replied. She spun the cart around and started off toward the rear stacks. A few seconds later, she heard Cordelia sigh and then the sound of high-heeled shoes clacking along behind her.

"Since when are you one of Giles' flunkies?"

"Probably since I found out that hot chicks come here for books about the French Revolution," Faith replied with a smirk. She looked over her shoulder to find Cordelia trying hard not to smile but failing.

"You can cut the Prince Charming act," Cordelia said, trying to compose herself.

"Who says it's an act? Faith asked.

"Oh please," Cordelia replied easily. "The only reason you're playing helper monkey right now is because you think one of two things: that we're going to play a game of naughty librarian or that you can try to find out why I won't have sex with you again."

"Since we're on that subject," Faith began casually, then suddenly stopped and turned to face Cordelia again. "Why won't you have sex with me again?"

Cordelia rolled her eyes and brushed past Faith down the long aisle of books.

"I already told you."

"Yeah, but I don't get it."

Faith quickly gripped the cart and began to chase after Cordelia. She had to pull back hard to stop it from crashing into the girl when Cordelia stopped abruptly and began scanning the shelves.

"Well then it's good for me that I like you for more than your brain power," she said dismissively.

"See, that's another thing I don't get," Faith said. "We're both hot, we basically like each other . . ."

"Basically being the key word there," Cordelia interrupted.

". . . we know how good it could be. But then you come up with some bullshit excuse about Buffy and squash what could be a kickass situation."

"Who says it's bullshit?" Cordelia asked, her eyebrows raised.

"I says," Faith replied. "B's hot and all and, yeah, I'd do her six ways from Sunday if she was down. But you're forgettin' the fact that she ain't interested so I ain't wasting my time."

"And therein lies the crux of your stupidity," Cordelia replied. When she noticed that Faith was slowly getting closer to her, she took a step back . . . and found that she was pressed against the wooden bookshelf with nowhere to go. "You may have good vision but you have zero perception. Your precious little Buffy is more interested than you think."

Faith's only reply was a scoff. She continued getting closer; less than a foot separated them now.

"Let's recap," Cordelia continued. "Who spends most of her waking hours outside of school with you? Buffy. Who got jealous when she saw you talking to the boy she was supposed to like? Buffy. Who accepted your invite to homecoming? Buffy. Who sat in the middle of the woods with me on homecoming night, more preoccupied by the fact that she thought you'd be upset thinking she ditched you rather than the fact that we were being hunted like animals?"

"Lemme take a guess: Buffy?" Faith asked sarcastically.

"Got it in one, hotshot," Cordelia replied. "She's making it as obvious as she can in her little Buffy way. She doesn't take what she wants, Faith. She tries to subtly arrange things so they'll fall into place the way she wants them."

"And you're trying to say that I'm what she wants?" Faith asked skeptically. At Cordelia's nod, she scoffed. "Yeah right. I think you're the one with the perception problems, Queen C. B don't want me, and I've moved on from the pining over her thing."

"Oh you have?" Cordelia asked, her voice suddenly husky.

"Fuck yeah, I have," Faith said just as huskily, stepping forward the last few inches and putting her hands on the bookshelf at either side of Cordelia's shoulders. "So why don't we just cut to the chase and take what we both want?"

They stared into one another's eyes, not moving even when the sound of the double doors up front disturbed the silence, followed by a single set of footsteps.

"Giles?" a voice called out and Faith froze. Her eyes widened and a knowing smile spread on Cordelia's face.

It was Buffy.

"That right there?" Cordelia pointed to the look on Faith's face. "That's why. I'm not the kind of girl that settles for second best or for being second best. But lucky for you, you're right about one thing: I do like you, Faith. And that's why I'm going to help you land the girl."

"You're what?" Faith asked, confused.

Still smiling, Cordelia grabbed the front of Faith's shirt and yanked her forward. She kissed her quick and hard, then used her thumb to wipe her Berry Passion lip gloss from Faith's lips.

"Back here, Buffy!" Cordelia called out.

Faith went from looking confused, to pissed off, to terrified in the brief span of just a few seconds. She didn't have long to get her act together though because Buffy's approaching footsteps signaled her impending arrival. Quickly plastering on a smile that looked much more nervous than it was supposed to, Faith spun around and put a couple feet of distance between her and Cordelia just as Buffy appeared at the end of the stacks.

The skeptical look on Buffy's face remained when she saw the two girls in the narrow aisle together.

"A-ha," she said evenly. "I was starting to think Giles' voice sounded oddly feminine. Now I see why. Which one of you is Giles now?"

Completely ignoring her, Cordelia stepped forward and plastered on her own fake smile. "Faith and I were just having a conversation and your name kept popping up like a gnat."

"Oh?" Buffy asked and turned her attention to Faith, ignoring Cordelia's jibe.

Faith blinked a few times and looked to Cordelia for help. She had no idea what Cordelia was planning so she had no idea how to play this. She made a mental note to kick her around for a little while later on; she hated looking like some kind of moron like this!

"We were talking about how she sabotaged our homecoming dance . . ."

"Hey!" Faith finally piped up, glaring at Cordelia.

". . . unknowingly and with her best intentions, but still," Cordelia continued, giving Faith a quick look to keep her mouth shut. "She made it up to me by being my mule on a shopping trip, but she said that she still hasn't made it up to you yet."

"Oh," Buffy said, looking less skeptical but a bit more confused. She looked over at Faith and offered a shaky smile. "You don't have to make anything up to me. It wasn't like you planned on us being hunted."

"Exactly!" Faith pointed out, looking over at Cordelia who rolled her eyes in response.

"And I get what you were trying to do," Buffy continued, still looking at Faith. "For what it's worth, I appreciate it. There aren't many people that care enough to try to make their friends get along like that."

"Uh, thanks," Faith said awkwardly. She stole a glance over at Cordelia who was trying to discreetly give her a sign to continue by nodding her head at Buffy. Clearing her suddenly dry throat, she continued, "But like Cordy said, I kinda wanna make it up to ya anyway. Least I can do."

"You really don't have to . . ." Buffy began but Faith cut her off, feeling more confident now.

"I know, but I want to," Faith replied. She smiled that smile that she knew made everyone weak and took a few steps towards Buffy. "You name it, we'll do it. Anything you want."

Buffy watched Faith, carefully gauging her seriousness. After a moment, she bit her lower lip as she thought it over, sure now that Faith wasn't messing with her.

"Umm, I'm not really sure. Do you want to . . . talk it over tonight?"

"Tonight?" Faith asked. Was it a date already? That was too fucking easy!

"Yeah, on patrol," Buffy replied.

Ah, right. Not that easy then.

"Sounds like a plan. Meet you at the usual place, usual time?" Buffy asked.

Faith nodded but quickly changed her mind. "Wait, no. I'll meet you at your house. We can start with a sweep at Restfield and figure out the rest from there. That alright?"

Buffy smiled and nodded. "Yeah, that works. And now if you don't mind, I need the more masculine Giles to help me dig up a book for my English lit class. See you later?"

"Count on it," Faith replied easily.

Buffy gave her one last smile and waved quickly at Cordelia before disappearing toward Giles' office. Only when she was out of sight and hearing range did Cordelia start up a slow clap and walk up behind Faith who was staring off where Buffy had disappeared to.

"There you go, stud. Hard part's over. Slaying isn't exactly what I'd call a stellar first date but it sets up the ground work for further possibly stellar dates."

"C, I'm gonna let you in on something here. This is Sunnydale: there ain't exactly a lotta places I could take her that are exactly 'stellar' or whatever. What the fuck am I supposed to do if she asks me what I wanna do?" Faith replied morosely. "I can't exactly tell her that what I really wanna do is her."

"You're right, that would be a bad way to start. She's not exactly a first-date sex kind of girl, or at least she's never come across that way," Cordelia agreed with a nod. "But Buffy's used to this town, Faith. She's also not expecting French cuisine and ballroom dancing."

"Thank fuck for that," Faith said with a grimace.

Shaking her head in amusement, Cordelia continued. "Remember, you asked her what she wanted to do. You don't need to plan anything; just have something to offer as a backup in case she does the girly thing and flutters her eyelashes and asks you to pick."

"So like . . . pizza and The Bronze?"

Cordelia thought it over for a few minutes and shrugged. "I'm sure Buffy will find it charming."

"And you?" Faith smiled a little, anticipating the answer.

"French cuisine and ballroom dancing," Cordelia replied with a playful smirk.

"I've never fucked someone so high maintenance," Faith said playfully.

"And I've never let someone fuck me who didn't even put in the effort to take me out for a meal first," Cordelia replied, trying to look like she was annoyed by it. Still, she couldn't keep the small smile from her lips.

She'd never really enjoyed French cuisine anyhow.

"Well," Faith began slowly and faced Cordelia, a predatory look on her face, "This deal with B ain't exactly set in stone yet. I know for a fact that the cafeteria is serving lunch now. How 'bout I treat you to some meatloaf surprise and then we find us a nice empty classroom."

Cordelia couldn't help the laugh that escaped her. She put her hand over her mouth remembering that they were in the library but the huge smile was there to stay.

"I don't think I've ever gotten a proposition with the words 'meatloaf surprise' in it before."

"Stick with me, babe. I'll rock your world," Faith said playfully and winked.

"Not with a proposition like that, you won't," Cordelia laughed.

They made their way to the front of the library and out the double doors, bickering and laughing the whole way to the cafeteria. There'd be no meatloaf surprise or naughty classroom shenanigans, but Cordelia seemed determined to stick by Faith's side and make sure she didn't screw up this thing with Buffy.

Faith wasn't sure why Cordelia was helping her out but she did know that she'd never had a friend before who would do something like that for her, especially after what had happened between them while shopping. Somehow Cordelia was able to keep their sexual relationship apart from their friendship which set her apart from almost every other girl Faith had ever met.

That alone made her like Cordelia more, even if Cordelia seemed determined not to let a repeat of their sexual adventure occur. As far as Faith was concerned, that was fine. If the result of their one-time liaison was a possible shot at something with Buffy, well, Faith was just going to have to think up some amazing way in which to repay her friend that didn't involve meatloaf surprise.

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