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Clubbing In Rome

Buffy nods towards the pack of cigarettes in Faith's hand -- full tar Marlboros. "So now you're Miss Forty-A-Day?"

"Passes the time," Faith says through a plume of smoke and glances sidelong at Buffy. "Anyway, I never saw you complaining when Billy Idol lit up."

Buffy tries to hide her wince and both turn their eyes turn towards the main club, watching the predominantly female crowd filling up the floor and grinding their hips to funky house and nu-disco. Like Buffy even has a passing acquaintance with those terms, but that's what it said on the flyer. All she knows is that the heavy bass is vibrating through her feet up to her ears and there's a wall of heat and sweat that's making it difficult to breath -- Faith's chain-smoking notwithstanding.

Everyone in this club seems so painfully cool that Buffy feels freakishly frumpy in her ensemble. Faith, on the other hand, looks as she always does: the sexy one ensconced in leather and smoke. That distinction still bugs Buffy more than she cares to admit.

"It was an observation not a judgement," she says, barely audible above the music.

"Then I guess it's something non-violent to do with my hands," Faith replies with just a hint of challenge that Buffy doesn't rise to.

There had always been a low, gravely quality to Faith's voice and, truth be told, Buffy had always found it appealing. Now more pronounced it was one of the first things Buffy had noticed on Faith's return along with the loss of the baby fat. Buffy finds herself fascinated with the sleeker, subdued version of the girl she knew.

Still, there's a familiarity between them. History -- good and bad. Something to hold on to when they're strangers in a strange place. Buffy isn't really sure why they came here, except that she'd always wanted to go to Rome and never got the opportunity, what with Apocalypses and other inconveniences.

They were supposed to be letting their hair down, taking a well earned vacation from slaying -- Faith's suggestion -- but Buffy can't relax. Being with Faith puts her on edge. Watching Faith surveying the club, looking for a likely one night stand, makes her uncomfortable. Because this is a lesbian club, and Faith bringing her specifically here, is something entirely strange and perplexing. Mostly, she hasn't yet worked out whether this is some kind of test or provocation.

She's still wrestling with why she should give a damn when Faith stands and beckons, with a toss of her head, towards the dance floor. "Coming?" Faith mouths, dark eyes glistening, one hand reaching out and, when the strobe lighting kicks in, with each shutter of light Faith is further away from her.

"Uh, no, really not my thing," Buffy replies, folding her arms. There are girls making out on the floor and she really doesn't want Faith to get the wrong idea. Because then Faith might actually get the right idea and that would lead to a whole world of badness and vaguely lesbian hijinx. Like back in high school, when she was all for Faith initiating her into a night-time world of slaying and suggestive dancing.

Faith just shrugs, as if she doesn't care, and it seems too practiced, too blasé. She watches as Faith casually struts through the throngs of girls, deliberately brushing skin, because she wants them to turn and look her. Several do just that, smiling in the way that people who recognise like-minded people do. People like Faith, into no-strings sex and want, take, have.

Buffy tried to be like that and all it did was leave her jaded and empty. In a way, she's waiting for Faith to make that same realisation and then -- what? She isn't sure.

That realisation isn't coming anytime soon, so it seems.

On the floor, Faith's sidled up to this girl, some piece of Eurotrash with fake boobs who reminds Buffy vaguely of Harmony Kendall (but, thank God, isn't). Pretty soon the girl's got her arms around Faith's shoulders and is practically dry-humping Faith's thigh in full view of the entire club. Then this other girl comes up behind them, sandwiching Faith between herself and the first girl. Buffy watches them running their hands over Faith, complete strangers touching her without inhibition and she feels suddenly cold, as if cool fingers are trailing over her own skin. She shivers as they kiss Faith's neck and jaw, obscuring her view of Faith's face, as they move together to the low down and dirty bassline.

She's seen girls kissing and dancing together before - Willow and Tara and then Willow and Kennedy - but not like this. There's no love here, just looks and lust and anonymous sex.

Clearly, Faith's getting into it and Buffy can't help but feel a little turned on herself, and vaguely affronted -- after all, they'd come here together, if not together. She decides that she needs some air so she grabs her jacket and makes it halfway to the exit when she feels a hand on her arm.

"Hey, B. Leaving so soon?"

Buffy turns to see Faith with her arm draped around the Eurotrash girl's shoulders. The second girl is nowhere to be seen.

"This is, uh, Gigi. Gigi, Buffy."

The girl smiles smugly with plump collagen injected lips and Buffy catches Faith leering at the girl's chest. This only pricks Buffy's annoyance.

"Seems you're well acquainted enough for both of us, Faith."

With that, Buffy walks out the club.

It's five or ten minutes before Faith comes outside, looking extremely dishevelled. Angrily, Buffy pulls her jacket tighter around herself to ward off the cool night breeze.

"What was that all about back there?" Faith's looking confused and annoyed and all Buffy wants to do is fall into a warm bed and pull the sheets over her head. She doesn't want to get into messy explanations -- not here, not now.

"I - I have a headache, okay? I just want to go home."

"Okay," Faith says slowly, clearly scoping her out, "well, I might stay and --"

Buffy doesn't allow her the opportunity to continue. "Whatever," she mutters and walks around Faith.

"What's eating at you?" Faith shouts, walking after her. "Why are you freaking out?"

"I'm not freaking out, I just --"

"You're freaking out because I'm having a good time and you're not. What is it B? Scared it's gonna turn you queer by proxy?"

Buffy stops still and laughs, a mirthless bark of laughter. "You have no idea how wrong you are."

"Why? Because you're best friend is a lesbian?" Faith asks in a mocking tone. "Let me tell you, Willow is lesbo-lite. If you met a real dyke you'd be squirming."

"Well, maybe you could introduce me to your prison girlfriend Bertha when she gets parole," Buffy says, unable to resist a pot-shot and is met with silence. She folds her arms. "ChiChi or whatever her name is must be waiting."

Faith shrugs. "Yeah, well, she's not really my type."

"She seemed your type when you were all over her on the dance floor."

"Language barrier, y'know," Faith responds sarcastically. Her eyes narrow as she stares at Buffy. "If it wasn't such a sick idea, I'd say you were wicked jealous."

At that, Buffy opens and closes her mouth. She looks away quickly under Faith's accusatory gaze. "Sure, Faith. Because I'm really envious of your white trash sexcapades. I mean, just when I thought it wasn't possible for you to lower your standards."

There's a wry smile on Faith's lips. "Just as self fucking righteous as ever. You know, I really thought things would be different between us but you're just as uptight as you always were. Even after boning Spike."

"Fuck you."

Faith smiles triumphantly and Buffy has a flashback to four years ago. It was that same expression Faith had worn when they broke into that store, helping themselves to merchandise, when they'd escaped police custody and all that mattered was the thrill of being an accomplice.

"Now we're getting somewhere, B."

She remembers wiping out an entire nest of vampires in one afternoon and dancing that night in celebration, the brush of Faith's hand on her hip as they moved together, and the uncomprehending look on Angel's face when he saw them. He knew something, maybe, that Buffy didn't at the time -- what the looks and smiles and the betrayals added up to. Not something she could put a name to, even now, but it's still there.

Buffy felt it rear up when Faith walked in with Willow all those months ago, and, now that they're alone, it permeates everything. At this moment, she feels it so hard that it's making her shake.

"Look, I'm tired so…" Buffy says finally. She continues walking, trying to put some distance between them but Faith follows.

They reach their hotel quickly. Once inside, they arrive outside Faith's room first. Almost in a daze Buffy watches Faith unlock the door. Faith catches her eye. "You wanna come in?" Faith's always been keen to portray herself as cocksure and arrogant but there's a hesitancy that Buffy recognises -- she saw flickers of it every time they locked horns in the past.

It's no big deal, Buffy tells herself. Just a simple invitation for company. Besides, she doesn't want to wake Dawn by creeping into their room at this time of night. Right now she'd rather be with Faith than away from her, so she nods. She follows Faith in to the dark room, nerves tingling. Faith flicks the lights and shuts the door behind them before kicking off her boots and flopping on to the double bed. Gingerly, Buffy sits on the edge of the bed, wary of being too close to the other girl. Self-denial, thy name is Buffy.

"I'll be honest here, B. I'm not really sure what's going on with us," Faith says slowly, not looking at Buffy but at the wall. "The signals I'm getting are totally messed up."

Buffy closes her eyes and thinks that she can't have this conversation right now, after all this time, after all that's happened. But, really, what better time? There are no disasters to avert, no demons to contend with besides their respective private ones. Just two girls in a hotel room with a whole lot of unspoken things between them.

"I know," Buffy agrees quietly. "I need you to know that I don't hate you or blame you."

"But?" Faith prompts evenly.

"But I don't entirely trust you." Buffy looks over at the other girl, an unreadable expression on Faith's face. "I want to though."

"It's cool. I understand. It takes time," Faith says with a dismissive wave of her hand, grabbing the remote. "Mind if I watch some TV?"

Buffy reaches over, taking the remote from Faith and putting it aside. "I'm not finished. Look, maybe this is too much, too late but I - I'd like to try this."

Faith shrugs. "Friends. I got no issue with that."

"No," Buffy takes a breath, "I guess I thought you felt - well, we went to a gay club so I just assumed -"

"Back it up there, B." Faith stands and begins to pace the carpet. She stops and stares at Buffy. "You mean you wanna - what? - date me?"

It sounds especially ridiculous coming from Faith's lips and Buffy can barely conceal her cringing. "When you put it like that. Maybe I should go." She rises from the bed and walks the short distance to the door but Faith steps in front of her, blocking the way.

"I'm not real good at making a go of things, or sticking around in relationships," Faith says, looking decidedly uncomfortable, one hand jammed into her pocket. "You know me."

"Get some, get gone," Buffy echoes ruefully. "I hear you."

Faith shakes her head, dark eyes serious. "But, honestly, all I'm thinking right now is that I want to kiss you. After that, who knows?"

A slow smile spreads across Buffy's face. "I'm amenable to that," she says as she moves closer until she can feel Faith's body heat mere inches from her. There's a little awkward positioning as they try to work out the logistics of this but, when their mouths do finally meet, it feels… surprisingly not scary. Not to mention good and, as Faith's tongue teases Buffy's top lip, kinda sexy. Slow, short kisses meld into longer ones and soon Buffy feels her toes curling inside her shoes. When Faith's hands move up her sides, skimming Buffy's breasts, she steps back, reluctantly ending the kisses.

If Faith is angered or frustrated, she doesn't show it. This new almost Zen aspect of Faith, Buffy finds a little disconcerting. "I should really check on…" she trails off then looks the dark haired girl in the eye. "This can wait, can't it? I mean, we've got so much time to work out where this is taking us. I don't want to rush into anything."

Faith nods and moves away to sit on the bed. "G'night, Buffy."

Letting out a breath she wasn't aware she'd been holding, Buffy smiled. "Goodnight."

The End