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Surviving Sunnydale Series

7. Play Dead

"Hmm... Darla," Faith said and the name rolled off her tongue. "Yeah... I think I saw a picture of you once in one of Giles' demon encyclopaedias. All big hair and wicked cleavage. Damn, I knew you were familiar somehow."

At this the vampire smirked. No, wipe that. She smouldered - the only person Faith had ever met who could actually carry that off without looking constipated. In her less stuck-up moments, it was a look B shot for and always went wide of the mark. Still, Darla was looking at her and it made her feel like kindling, and with just the slightest friction she was gonna catch fire any second.

"'Course, I skipped past the actual words 'cause I've never dug history. It's all just names and dates and dead kings and queens and shit like that. I figure I spend enough time around dead people as it is."

Darla took a fluid step closer, still with that ravenous look in her eyes, and reached up to caress Faith's cheek. "Are you really as ignorant as you pretend to be?"

Faith just shrugged. "It's bliss, baby," she responded with a grin that was all flash of white teeth and curve of burgundy lips.

"No." Darla shook her head slowly. "Fucking you 'til you can't see is bliss." Pale fingers came to the tie that held her robe shut, nimbly working the loose knot. Seconds later the silk slipped from the vampire's perfectly white shoulders, puddling to the floor, and Faith's appreciative stare followed the material's progress.

Faith quirked an eyebrow. "How do I know you're not gonna try and do the traditional vamp thing?" She tried, in vain, to keep her eyes on Darla's face but she was far too fascinated by the way those pink nipples were pebbling before her eyes.

The vampire smiled faintly. "And how do I know you won't try to stake me?"

"Guess we'll just have to take a risk," Faith murmured, just desperate to reach out. Want, take, have. She'd always lived by that primitive motto and applied it to everything. This was no exception.

"Okay," Darla said, closing the minute distance between them, sighing as their skin brushed, cool against heat. She slipped her arms around the slayer's shoulders, pressing their bodies together more intimately. "I won't if you won't." Leaning in, she kissed her way along Faith's jaw before the brunette turned her head to meet her mouth.

It was strange kissing a vampire. Like kissing someone who'd been eating ice cubes or something. The difference in body temperature gets masked when vamps feed but when they haven't drunk for a while, then you can tell. Their skin is paler, their touch is cold. At the moment... Darla was tepid. Her tongue like cool velvet tangling against Faith's own. And, fuck, just thinking about that tongue being elsewhere was making her sweat.

She actually whimpered when Darla's fingertips drifted across her stomach. Faith just wasn't the whimpering type. Man... she was hyper-aware of the moisture between her thighs and she wanted to hurry this along 'cause she didn't know how much longer she could wait.

The vampire broke off this kiss. "I want to fuck you in every room," she whispered into Faith's ear, sending uncontrollable shivers down her spine and eliciting a deep groan from the back of her throat. "Would you like that?"

Faith's only answer was to shove Darla up against the wall and kiss her long and hard which pretty much made her feelings known on that question.

***

Somehow, sometime, they'd made it into the lounge and rather than take the comfortable option of the cream leather couch, they were lying on the floor. Right next to the couch. Go figure. Faith had lost count of the orgasms and she was dripping with sweat but Darla was still fresh, her mussed hair the only outward indication that they'd already screwed in the bedroom, the bathroom, and the walk-in wardrobe. Vampires had stamina. Now she could understand why Buffy still pined for Angel after they did the wacky 'cause, when you've had a vamp, nothing else can quite compete.

So Darla was straddling her, a look of complete concentration on her face, eyes boring into the slayer's as she rode Faith's fingers. Her hands were braced on either side of Faith's head and she flexed her hips with each thrust. With each buck her small breasts came into delicious contact with the brunette's fuller ones. Soon, Darla's breath was coming in short gasps, even though vamps weren't supposed to breathe. Faith had never figured that one out. Still, now wasn't the time to think about that kind of stuff. Or the carpet burn she was gonna have on her ass by the end of this. Just another souvenir of a one night and half a day stand...

***

The elevator doors parted and the tall woman purposely ignored the overly cheerful 'have a nice day' routinely issued by the bellhop. The staccato click of her high heels echoed down the short corridor and she stopped outside the oak double doors. Straightening her business suit, she wrapped her knuckles on the door and waited. There was no answer, and realising that the occupant was probably asleep, she reached into her purse for the firm’s set of keys. A twist and click later and she was inside but she had reason to pause in the doorway.

Only partially hidden from view by the couch, Darla was quite clearly having sex.

"New playmate?" Lilah asked with a rakish lift of her eyebrow.

Darla just scowled at her and carried on bouncing up and down. Unfazed, Lilah approached the couch wondering what poor waifish stray the vampire had dragged off the streets this time. It wasn't until she was a couple of steps away that she recognised the girl. Well, well, the plan was coming together sooner than she thought. She couldn't wait to tell Lindsey about their protegee's initiative.

Apparently, mid finger fuck, Faith glanced up at Lilah. "You?" Angrily, Faith pushed the vampire off of her. "What the fuck?" Her dark eyes were wild and furious as she leapt to her feet, not even attempting to cover her nudity.

Lilah, well... she couldn't help herself, her eyes wandered. "Darla's a client of mine. You might want to inform your people." By that she meant Angel and his menagerie of employees. She watched with growing amusement as Faith's eyes darted from the lawyer to Darla and back, the sweet confusion on her face. Faith really wasn't the sharpest tool in the box, you only had to dangle an enticing carrot in front of her nose, and she'd bite. Except, judging by the crescent scar on Faith's breast, the slayer wasn't the one that had done the biting.

Humiliated, Faith gathered her clothes and quickly dressed. Meanwhile Darla sat on the couch looking forlorn. "Don't go yet, we were just getting started," the vampire pouted. Lilah just rolled her eyes.

As Faith reached the door, her hand on the knob, something spiteful bubbled up in Lilah. "I suppose you know your father's in town? We're representing him too."

A satisfied smirk stole across Lilah's face as Faith turned slowly. She didn't have long to enjoy the moment though because three paces later and Faith had her pinned against the wall, an elbow pressing down on her esophagus. She wouldn't have dared to breathe, even if she could. She could see in Faith's eyes that the girl was in that cold, calm place beyond rage. "I shoulda fucking known you bastards were behind that. But I'm not gonna let you push my buttons." The slayer pressed down harder, all but choking Lilah. "And tell that fucker to take a flying jump. Far as I'm concerned, I don't have a dad."

Lilah gave a nervous smile as Faith eased the pressure slightly. She edged her gaze towards Darla who was watching this exchange with keen interest but was not lifting a finger to intervene. "I thought Angel was teaching you compassion and forgiveness, like a good little slayer," she said with derision.

Faith stepped back a little but still remained well within the boundaries of the lawyer's personal space. "I got a long way to go and I'm not above taking out a few lawyers along the way. Be seein’ ya."

With a smirk, Faith turned on her heel and bolted. With irritation, Lilah rubbed her neck gingerly as Darla stood. The vampire began pacing restlessly, still without a stitch of clothing on. Forgotten or deliberate, Lilah couldn't tell. Either way, she didn't object and took in the view appreciatively.

"Damn it, I was so near," Darla moaned in a whiney mixture of anger and frustration. She looked sharply at the lawyer who was unabashedly staring.

Lilah smirked. "Well, my schedule is free for the next couple of hours..." She punctuated her suggestion by unbuttoning her suit jacket and laying it on the back of the couch. A slow smile took possession of Darla's features as she stalked towards the lawyer with a languorous sway of her hips. Her lips hovered near Lilah's, not quite touching, and the lawyer parted her mouth in anticipation.

"I want her," Darla said, almost like a hiss. "And you're going to get her for me or the deal's off."

The vampire moved away, padding towards the bedroom. Lilah gazed after her, mouth hanging slightly open. "We have a contract, we own you," Lilah said but Darla ignored her and shut the bedroom door. "Remember that." With a sigh, she reached inside her jacket for her cellular phone.

"Lindsey? We have a problem."

***

As soon as Faith hit the street she knew she'd fucked up royally. Again. If Darla was involved with those skanky lawyers then that meant trouble with a capital T. For Angel, for everyone. Mostly, she was angry that they'd played her at her own game and she hadn't even realised because she'd been so fucking wrecked. Shit. She just knew this was gonna get back to Cordelia. And C wouldn't understand, wouldn't want to understand, that casual screwing had nothing to do with their relationship. The thing was, she'd been faithful up until this point. Extenuating circumstances, she could argue. But C probably wouldn't listen so it was maybe best to say nothing at all. There was, after all, a strange comfort in sitting back and watching the world go to hell. She'd never known any other way.

So, that was the plan. Pretend nothing happened, play it sweet, grovel, and hope for the best.

***

It was dark by the time Faith showed up at Angel’s. She had to wait until she was sure Cordelia and Wesley had left for the day. C, she wanted to avoid for obvious reasons, Wesley ‘cause she knew he’d rat to C if he saw her. Sometimes they were like an old married couple and sometimes she actually got jealous about it. How fucked up was that? And... she was pretty sure that Wes was fluent in fag anyway. Like, had he ever had a girlfriend?

As usual deadboy sensed her before she announced herself, which could be really irritating if you were aiming on stealth. He looked up from his book and he actually registered a facial expression other than pained. He seemed surprised and a little relieved to see her. But something in his face shifted, darkened, as he stared at her.

"Where have you been?" he asked quietly.

"Here and there," she lied. "Ran into an old friend of yours." Nope, really trying not to think about the mind-blowing sex. There had to be etiquette about that kind of stuff. Fucking the sire of your girlfriend’s boss. Bring it on, Jerry Springer.

"Darla," Angel said without inflection.

Faith frowned. "How did you know?"

He put the book down flat on the table and stood slowly, his six foot plus frame making the room seem suddenly small. "I can smell her," was all he said by way of explanation and Faith decided to stick to bullet points because that would avoid awkward questions arising. The dark vampire was remote at the best of times and she could see him withdrawing into himself further.

"She’s in bed with Wolfram and Hart. Just thought you might wanna know." Faith shrugged nervously and stuffed her hands into her jeans.

Angel just nodded and continued to stare at her unnervingly. "What?" she demanded finally, unable to bear the silence.

"Cordelia’s been worried." Something about the way he said ‘worried’ made Faith think that was a huge understatement. "She’s been moping around like Gucci’s gone bankrupt."

Faith cracked a guilty smile at that. "My head’s a mess," she admitted softly.

"I know what it’s like, Faith. I’ve been there," Angel said, the ghosts of his past seemed ever-present. They haunted him every day and night and he suffered in silence because you do what you have to do. "You become so used to the darkness that you can’t believe there’s anything else. But you have to stop running." He took a few steps towards her, his face cast in shadow but his eyes penetrating. "You have the power in you to change."

She was always uncomfortable when Angel dished out his pearls of wisdom. On one hand, she felt like making a joke of it. How often did Angel say more than three words at a time, anyway? On the other, he could pin down exactly what she was thinking or feeling and that scared her. And when she really got into the mechanics of it, why was he even helping her in the first place? She’d tried to kill him a few times. Still, he wouldn’t turn her away.

"Fight the good fight, you mean? I don’t know if I can do that yet."

Angel nodded. "It doesn’t happen overnight. Whatever you decide, there’s always a place for you here."

The slayer gave a genuine smile. "Thanks, I appreciate it."

"Angel?" They heard a voice in the hallway, Cordelia’s.

They exchanged glances. "Angel, I can’t face her yet," Faith pleaded and the vampire nodded towards his closet. No sooner had she closed the door behind her, leaving a tiny crack to peek through, than Cordelia breezed into the room.

"You still haven’t mastered the concept of knocking," Angel said, deadpan.

"What? Oh, sorry," Cordelia said in an unapologetic tone. Shit, C really did look out of it, mismatched clothing, and all. But the strain was especially visible in her eyes. She looked like she hadn’t slept at all in the last forty eight hours. "I guess you haven’t heard from her then." There was a dim hopefulness in her words and it made Faith’s stomach twist.

Angel, carefully, said nothing. With a heavy sigh, Cordelia sank down onto the edge of the mattress. Hesitantly, Angel placed a comforting hand on the actress’s shoulder and glanced towards the closet. Faith didn’t want to put him in this position, after everything he’d done to help her, but she just couldn’t deal with this right now. The guilt was just eating away at her. And seeing C like this, so deflated and unlike herself...

"I’m sure she’ll be in contact soon," Angel said with a slight wince.

Cordelia ignored that. "Y’know, Detective Lockley called me today. She wanted to know why Faith hasn’t seen her parole officer in two weeks. I had to lie, obviously. It’s lucky I’m such a good actress. She also told me that if Faith doesn’t show up by the end of the week she’ll be in violation of the conditions of her parole." Cordelia hung her head. "Angel, she could end up back in prison. God, she’s stubborn enough to do that."

"I wouldn’t worry, Cordelia..."

The actress looked up sharply at her employer, a formidable glint in her eye. "Do you know something? Have you seen her?" From her hiding place, Faith willed him to deny all knowledge.

Angel squirmed with the truth. He sighed. "Yes." Damn, he was begging for some deep pain.

"Oh my God," Cordelia yelled, standing up, "I’ve been going, like, totally crazy and you’ve known the whole time?" She folded her arms in a classic pissed off Queen C pose. "You never could say no to a slayer, could you?"

The vampire just gave her a warning look. "Cordelia. Please."

"What? Please thank you for taking her side? Sorry, but why are you protecting her?"

"Someone has to," Angel replied quietly.

Cordelia gave a thoroughly fake smile. "Oh, it’s ‘help the deranged’ now, is it? Did she tell you she was about to rearrange my face before she ran away? Again."

No, Faith hadn’t and she could see Angel was struggling. "I’m sorry but she came to me for help."

The actress was quiet for a moment. "Yeah, well, so did I. Thanks for your help, Angel."

As quickly as she appeared, Cordelia was gone, leaving Angel staring into space. Sheepishly, Faith emerged from the closet, knocking over an old shoe box full of photographs of Buffy that were curling at the edges. She picked them up, looking at one of Buffy smiling, hair lit like a halo by sunshine. It occurred to her that maybe Buffy Summers was the centre of the universe. Otherwise, none of them would’ve met, wouldn’t be in this mess and they would’ve been all the happier. Because, fuck knows, they were all wicked miserable now. "Thanks, I owe you, big guy."

Angel took the photographs out of her hands and replaced them in the shoe box, closing the closet door securely. "No, you owe Cordelia." That was all he said before he left, with anger in his voice.

Continued in 'Coming Around Again'