image of woman sitting in armchair writing

Burning The Bridges series

3. The Flaw In The Plan

Faith sat on the edge of the mattress, tugging her tight leather pants up her thighs and over her hips. Goddamn, there was a downside to these pants. Yeah, they looked wicked sexy but it was one helluva battle to get them on. Still, no pain, no gain, right? She felt warm fingertips on her back, tracing the progress of her spine. She glanced over her shoulder at the other occupant of the bed, a slim blonde woman naked save for a pearl necklace. Faith smirked. For all her anger of last night, Joyce couldn’t keep her hands off her.

"I gotta shoot," Faith said as she pulled a black sleeveless T-shirt over her head and reached for her boots.

The older woman’s fingers left her skin and Faith found that she missed the touch as soon as it was gone. Not that she ever would’ve said that out loud. "Are you meeting someone?" By that someone, they both knew what Joyce meant. There was an edge of accusation in the words and Faith resented it. So she and Joyce were screwing. Big fucking deal. This always happened – why is it when you screw someone, they automatically think they own you? That’s all it was, mindless, no strings, want, take, have, fucking until something better comes along.

See, Faith had a plan here. She was going to win Buffy Summers. She was going to make Buffy want her, beg for her and then, when she did, that would be Faith’s victory. But the best part was, she was going to shoot B down when that happened. Because last year Buffy had flirted and made eyes and said stuff, all of which had led Faith to believe that the blonde felt the same way she did. Just when Faith was falling for her, Buffy had screwed her over and abandoned her. In the end, Buffy chose that freak Angel over her. Well, guess what? Paybacks are a bitch and that bitch was after revenge of the sweetest kind.

At least, that had been the original plan. The one she’d fantasised about on the bus back to Sunnydale. All she’d been interested in was maximum emotional carnage. But, seeing B and how quick she was to forgive… it was infectious. Buffy was so trusting, which made the plan seem so very easy and part of Faith was tempted just to follow it through it anyway. Just to see the sparks fly. The other part wanted to win Buffy for real, away from that fuck-wit Riley guy. It wasn’t much of a challenge but she was competitive by nature so she wasn’t going to stand down from this.

The dark-haired girl stood. "Not that it’s any of your goddamn business but, yeah, I’m meeting B."

She saw the chill creep over Joyce’s face at the mere mention of her daughter. Faith wondered how someone like PTA supermom Joyce could cope with this deal, screwing her daughter’s former, no, still, enemy. Not that Faith really gave a flying fuck. "If you hurt her, I swear to God I’ll kill you myself," the older woman said with quiet force.

Faith grabbed her jacket, slung it over her shoulder, and raised a sarcastic eyebrow. "Is that before or after I go down on you?"

Joyce’s lips twitched, her expression mostly unreadable now. "You know she’s in love with that boy, don’t you? What’s his name…Riley?" she said lightly, almost as a taunt.

Faith stared at Joyce for a moment, wanting to claw those words out of the air between them. Fuck you. She opened her mouth to say it. Instead, without a word, she barged out the door.

****

The two slayers were strolling through the campus grounds, basking in the sunshine that streamed through the canopy of the tall trees. They kept to the outskirts, avoiding the busy parts on campus, just in case anyone recognised Faith. Buffy especially didn’t want to run into Willow because she wasn’t quite ready to do that whole explaining-why-her-once-sworn-enemy-was-hanging-out-with-her thing yet. Of course, Willow, Giles, and the rest of the gang would have to be told that Faith was back and she hoped to tell them sooner rather than later. She remembered how much grief they’d given her last year about not informing them that Angel was back. For now, she wanted to keep Faith a secret, because once everyone knew, that’s when things would be beyond her control.

They’d been walking for a while in silence and Faith noted that Buffy was stealing surreptitious glances at her. "Find something interesting, B?" she asked finally.

Busted, Buffy blushed, which made Faith want to just grab her and kiss her long and hard. Easy, tiger. Plenty of time for that later.

"It’s just hard to believe that you’re here and not…" Buffy faltered.

"Psycho?" Faith finished for her and gave her most dazzling smile.

"Not my choice of word, but, yeah," the blonde admitted. "I keep needing to pinch myself."

Faith grinned. "I can do that for ya."

Buffy just gave her a look, her lips slightly pursed. Shit, for a moment there she looked just like Joyce. The blonde reached into her shoulder bag, rummaged for a moment, and produced sandwiches wrapped in cellophane. "I got this for you, from the canteen. It’s not exactly full of nutritional goodness but it fills a gap."

Heh, you said it girlfriend. Faith took the proffered sandwiches. "Thanks, I’m wicked hungry." She inspected the contents of one sandwich. "Cool, BLT, my favourite. Hey, let’s sit on the grass."

"We’re supposed to keep off the grass," the blonde replied.

Faith just gave her an incredulous look. God, B still needed to find the fun a whole lot. "I guess it couldn’t do any harm," Buffy said, her expression a little pained. She glanced around them, making sure there was no one around to witness their heinous crime. Faith just strutted onto the grass, threw herself down, and began tearing into the sandwiches. The blonde sat down gingerly down beside her, ever vigilant for the college grounds staff.

Once Faith had finished her lunch, she screwed up the cellophane and threw it away, which nearly gave B a coronary. "I need to catch some rays, top up the tan," Faith said as she rolled onto her back, squinting up at the sky. "Eight months in ICU is seriously crappy for the complexion."

"Mm," Buffy agreed, only half-listening. She was worried about Faith. They hadn’t really talked yet about any of the stuff that had happened before the coma. She wondered if it could all really be resolved. She just had to believe that it could. One thing was for sure; they couldn’t go back to the way they were before Faith turned to the Mayor’s side. It just wasn’t enough.

Faith looked at the other girl lost in her thoughts. She studied Buffy’s profile, long bleach blonde hair lit by the sun. Fuck. She was beautiful, drop-dead fucking beautiful. Even with that odd little snub nose of hers. Faith wanted to touch her, just to reach out and make this feeling real. "Hey, B."

Buffy’s green eyes turned to her and they blew Faith away. Shit, get a grip. I don’t need this, she kept telling herself, dammit, I don’t need it. "Let’s say we find us some action tonight?"

She could see the indecision play across Buffy’s face. "I don’t know…."

"Just the two us, the Scoobies can stay in their kennel." Buffy favoured her with a disapproving glare. Fuck, like mother like daughter… "Joke, B. Chill."

"I have classes all day tomorrow."

Faith shrugged. "It’s cool. I don’t mind going out by myself." A lascivious grin slid across her full lips. "Find myself a coupla studs…" She watched the blonde’s face carefully.

Buffy looked like someone had stuck a stake in her. Was that a flicker of jealousy? "That’s not a good idea, Faith. I mean, the cops…"

"I can handle ‘em." The Sunnydale cops were the fucking runts of the litter.

"That’s what I’m worried about," Buffy replied with a rueful smile. She sighed in defeat. "Okay, I’ll come with you. Just to keep you out of trouble."

"Ata girl," Faith reached across and nudged the blonde’s shoulder playfully. "But we need to get you out of those pastels and into something sexier." Buffy looked at her skeptically and Faith laughed. God, she loved it when a plan came together.

****

That night they decided to avoid the Bronze, not wanting to run into the Scoobies who occasionally still hung out there. So, at Faith’s suggestion, they went to a club called the Viper, despite Buffy’s vocal reservations. As they waited in the queue, the blonde noted the clientele were a little rougher than what she was used to and she felt suddenly out of place in her strappy little violet dress. She’d managed to resist Faith’s attempts to lure her into leather and now she was wishing that she’d just surrendered. She clutched her little shiny handbag defensively as the bouncer, a seven foot gorilla of a man with multiple piercings on his face, gave her the once over. Just then, Faith slung her arm proprietarily around the blonde’s shoulder, glaring at the bouncer and he merely grunted, a nod of his head indicating that they could get in. She wasn’t sure she wanted to know what that was all about.

"Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea," Buffy shouted over the pounding music, glancing around the dingy club and its freaky-looking denizens.

"Relax, B," the dark-haired girl shouted back, obviously in her element here. "Let’s get some drinks." Faith grabbed her by the hand and led the way through the heaving crowd towards the bar. She ordered a couple of shooters of tequilla. She poured a little salt on the back of her hand, licked it off and knocked it back before quickly biting down on a slice of lemon. Buffy watched her and reluctantly did the same. She nearly gagged. Yeuch. The other girl watched her in barely concealed amusement.

Faith winked. "Next time we’ll do body slammers."

"What?" Buffy asked, perplexed but the other girl just grinned knowingly.

"C’mon, let’s dance," Faith said as the next song began, a techno remix of Iggy Pop’s ‘Lust For Life.’ The patrons of the club flocked to the already jumping dancefloor.

Here comes Johnny Yen again
With the liquor and drugs
And a flash machine

"Faith, I…" the blonde began but Faith just seized her hand again and dragged her towards the dancefloor, cutting through the sweaty mass of tattooed bodies to a small space in the centre.

He’s gonna do another striptease
Hey man, where’d you get that lotion

The other girl let go of Buffy’s hand and began to move her hips in time to the fast heavy beats, her hands coming up to run fingers through long, wavy dark hair. At first Buffy shuffled from foot to foot but soon she found her rhythm, matching her moves with Faith’s. The dark-haired girl was a very good dancer, totally assured in that as she was in everything else. Buffy couldn’t take her eyes off her. Their gazes caught and Faith smiled broadly and moved in closer so that they were now dancing together, with each other rather than in front of each other.

I’ve been hurting since I bought the gimmick
About something called love
Yeah, something called love
Well, that’s just like hypnotising chickens

The dancefloor surged and they found themselves pressed closer together, their hips brushing and bumping. Buffy vividly remembered the last time they’d gone dancing together, the night Faith had accidentally killed the deputy mayor. They’d been the chief attraction at the Bronze that night, the boys circling them like vultures as they’d danced with each other. She’d noticed them, but only dimly, because Faith had had her full attention. Like she did now.

I’m just a modern guy
Of course I’ve had it in the ear before
’Cause I’ve lust for life
Lust for life
Lust for life

She remembered how closely they’d danced, with such abandon, flaunting everything they had, putting on a show. It was exciting and dangerous and they were two Slayers together, the Chosen Two and they had something that no one could touch. Not the high school boys with their sweaty palms and lustful stares. God, she’d wanted Faith to touch her that night. If Angel hadn’t turned up she didn’t know what might’ve happened…

I’m worth a million in prizes
Yeah, I’m through sleeping on the sidewalk
No more beating my brains
No more beating my brains

The blonde closed her eyes, feeling the music pulsing through her and then Faith’s hands on her hips. Hot breath on her cheek. This was what she wanted, what she’d wanted that night at the Bronze, what she’d always wanted. The other girl’s lips pressed against her own, Faith’s tongue grazing her lips. She was hit by the realisation like a kick to her stomach and all of sudden she was having great difficulty drawing breath. Her eyes snapped open and she pulled abruptly away. Faith stared at her in confusion, eyes questioning. "B?" The blonde watched Faith’s lips form the word but she didn’t hear it.

She shook her head. "I – I can’t do this." With one last look at the other girl, Buffy fled from the crowded dancefloor.

***

What the fuck? This wasn’t part of the plan. This wasn’t supposed to happen. "Damnit," she cursed and started after Buffy, barging through the crowd, trying to keep the petite blonde in her sights.

"B, wait!" Faith caught up with Buffy outside, rapidly walking away from the club. She grabbed Buffy by the elbow, spinning her round to face her, immediately aware of soft skin slightly dewy with perspiration. "C’mon, don’t play coy, it doesn’t suit you."

"What?" Buffy stared at her in disbelief, throwing off the other girl’s light grip on her arm.

They stared at each other, neither willing to back down. Faith took a step closer, invading the blonde’s personal space. She noticed green eyes dilate instantly. "You know what I mean," Faith smiled and leaned in close only to be pushed away by the blonde.

"Faith, no!" Buffy’s hand came to massage her temple. "God, I have a boyfriend, that I happen to love. I mean, which part of that don’t you understand?"

The dark-haired girl shook her head. "Then what was that all about back there?" Fuck, the way Buffy had looked at her, the signals couldn’t have been any stronger. The want had been written all over her face. And when she’d kissed the her, Buffy had responded. Obviously denial ran in the family.

"I was…it – I have a boyfriend," Buffy struggled to articulate. Her thoughts were spinning out of control. There’d always been an element of… flirtation in her friendship with Faith but it was a game really. It was never something she’d given much thought to. Not really. It was harmless. Mostly. But on the dancefloor, dancing so close to Faith, watching her move, so easy to lose her inhibitions just for a moment… They’d been so entirely focused on each other, that the rest of the people just seemed to fade away. She was like that a lot around Faith and it was equal parts disconcerting and compelling. But it kept coming back to Riley and her confusion over these new, well, not entirely new feelings for Faith.

"So you keep telling me," the other girl replied flatly. "And I’m telling you, he ain’t all that. I should know."

The blonde shot a dangerous glare at Faith. She was painfully aware of the fact that Faith had… slept with Riley while in possession of her body. It wasn’t something that was easy to forget, she was reminded of it every time she looked at him. Which was why she’d been avoiding him lately. "Is this why you came back?" Buffy demanded, "to play some sick little mind game? To take advantage? Were you planning on seducing me?"

Faith was silent for the longest time and just stared at the blonde, her expression unreadable. "I’m sorry," she said finally and stared down at the ground. "I guess I misread the vibes." They both knew she hadn’t. So the blonde had seen through her, just like Joyce said she would. But the problem was, it wasn’t a game anymore. There was a flaw in her killer plan, she hadn’t figured into the equation that her feelings for Buffy might become more important than the need for payback. She loved Buffy, for real, and the hate… well, the hate just didn’t seem to matter anymore. She wanted to let go, of all of it. The only thing was, she wasn’t sure she could because sometimes the only way out is to go so far in.

Buffy felt her anger deflate almost immediately. But she wanted to hold onto it, keep it just that little bit longer because then she wouldn’t have to think about the other, cloudy feelings that were making her uneasy. She knew how to deal with anger, not this uncertainty. "Yeah, well, I’m not gonna be another one of your conquests."

She expected some smart-ass response but the other girl remained quiet. Faith lifted her dark eyes to bore into Buffy’s green ones. "Then don’t tease me, B, ‘cuz I can’t take this crap anymore." With that the dark-haired girl turned and walked away. Buffy briefly considered going after her, partly because she was worried about Faith and what she might do in this mood but also because she wanted an explanation of what exactly Faith meant by that parting shot. Instead, she began the lonely walk back to campus, wondering where the hell she stood with the other girl.

Continued in Bittersweet Me