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Surviving Sunnydale Series

10. Reap What You Sow

"There's something I have to tell you." That was a good start. Straight to the point. "You know my complete lack of boyfriend status at the moment? Well..." No, that made it sound like she was just passing time until Mr So-Not-Right came along. Okay, try again. "Me and Faith aren't just room-mates." Too vague. "Faith is my girlfriend." That would just make her mother think they went shopping together. Which, actually, they'd never done because she just knew Faith would insist on dragging her around all the slutty stores, or - mental roll of the eyes - video game stores. Shopping mall hell in other words. So, wipe that. "Faith knows me more intimately than my gynaecologist." God, she wanted to come out to her mother, not make her vomit.

Cordelia sighed and wiped the condensation from the bathroom cabinet mirror. She looked herself square in the eye. "Me and Faith are lovers." Yeah, that was the one. No confusion or room for doubts, and nothing about the murky business of sexuality or the mechanics of it.

There was the sound of splashing water on tiles and another burst of steam as Faith stepped out of the shower, hair slick against her shoulders. "You talking to yourself again, C?" The slayer quirked a grin and padded towards the other girl, leaving a trail of soggy footprints. She slipped her arms around Cordelia's waist and dropped damp kisses on her shoulder.

"I'm practising the big gay bombshell and you're dripping all over me," Cordelia said reproachfully, squirming slightly in the circle of Faith's arms. The slayer just gave a dirty laugh and nuzzled closer, strands of her darker hair mingling with Cordelia's. Soon Faith's lips found Cordelia's own while a playful hand slipped between the folds of the towel she was wearing.

"Faith," Cordelia growled from the back of her throat, turning to face Faith and the other girl's mouth found the pulse point at her neck, sucking gently on still damp skin.

"You know how difficult it was to keep quiet last night?" Faith breathed against Cordelia's skin, making a jolt of warmth pass up her spine. The slayer continued to mouth at flesh, dragging lips slowly over Cordelia's collarbone.

"I know. I haven't had to bite the pillow since... well..." the actress trailed off in embarrassment. Faith paused to look at her, a suggestive smirk hanging on her dark features. "What? So I was a virgin, I wasn't a nun."

Faith laughed softly. "I love you, C." She leaned in and kissed Cordelia delicately, familiar fingers parting the towel and letting it fall to the floor forgotten. One hand slipped around the actress' waist, the other splayed flat on her stomach moving slowly downwards. Again, Faith turned her attention to Cordelia's throat, kissing and licking as her knee nudged Cordelia's thighs apart. A whisper of a finger over labia drew an answering flood of moisture and then Cordelia was being filled. And it was as much the thought that Faith was *inside* her as the act itself that was making her breathless as she ground her hips harder against Faith's questing fingers.

She sank her fingers into Faith's hair, guiding that ever-so-talented mouth to her chest, moaning softly as the slayer took one nipple between her generous lips. Then Cordelia remembered the whole thing about her mother being in the next room and bit her lip to silence herself. And oh god. Faith 's tongue rolling over the sensitive nub in tandem with the thumb that caressed her clitoris, mimicking the movements and Cordelia's hips moving and bucking like she had no control over them.

She could feel her release building, the knot of pressure in the pit of her stomach pushing outwards and she arched, trying to fill herself with the other girl, Faith's fingers pressing deeper and thrusting faster, Faith's thumb trailing over her clit. She pulled Faith's head back up and kissed her to smother the scream as she climaxed. Panting, Cordelia rested her forehead against Faith's, sweat glistening at her hairline.

"You are so good to me," Cordelia whispered after she found her breath and smiled slyly. "Now, let me return the favour."

After what must have been the longest shower in the history of mankind, they finally emerged from the bathroom. Cordelia's mother was sitting in the kitchen with a coffee cup in one hand and a bagel in the other. While Faith sneaked off to the bedroom to get dressed, Cordelia breezed into the kitchen. "Morning. Did you sleep well, Mommy?" she asked in perfunctory greeting.

"Morning dear. Eventually, yes. The mattress was a little lumpy. Nothing a massage from Sven won't fix when I get back to your Aunt Louise's."

Louise was the eldest of the Van den Berg girls, Cordelia's mother Elise being the youngest and the darling of her parents. The family had uprooted from South Carolina and moved to Sunnydale when Daddy was appointed to the board of directors in California. There had always been intense sibling rivalry between the two girls and Louise had been jealous as all hell when Elise had snared the most eligible bachelor in town, Jack Chase, the heir to his father's considerable real estate business. Jack Chase and Elise Van den Berg were married within six months of meeting and their beautiful daughter followed a year later. To all who observed they were supposed to be the ideal family. Some joke, huh?

Cordelia knew Aunt Louise had to get a kick out of the prodigal daughter turning up on her doorstep. Not that Aunt Louise had an idyllic marriage either. All she cared about was the money and ignored the fact that her investment banker husband was screwing his secretary. They were childless and, as a kid, Cordelia remembered watching the way her Aunt had lavished affection on her pampered pooches and drawn dirty looks at Cordelia. Her then ten-year-old self had doubted Aunt Louise had ever had sex.

At least Cordelia's mother and father had loved each other. Once. Before Daddy lost his vitality and before Mommy got jaded by life. Now her mother was living in one of Aunt Louise's spare rooms, where she emptied the liquor cabinet in her room that was replenished every day like charity and was pitied by relatives while she waited for the divorce to come through. A divorce she wouldn't get a penny out of. Just her good name back.

As for Daddy, Cordelia had only heard from him twice since moving to LA. The last time was a strange, stilted phone call from New York where he was visiting old friends from college. He'd asked after her mother, as if some part of him still cared. Then he'd voiced some fatherly concern about casting couches and directors that just didn't seem to ring true. Like he was only going through the motions of being her father. He was a stranger now, a ghosted figure on the perimeter of her life, the way her mother was slowly becoming.

Her mother looked so old, older than her forty-two years. It had to be the alcohol, making her eyes looked almost permanently bloodshot, her skin sallow. As a child she'd always been so proud that her mother was younger and prettier than all the other mothers - tall, vivacious and beautiful. She 'd wanted to grow up to be just like Mommy. Now it was the last thing she wanted.

The older woman gave a nervous smile, aware of her daughter's scrutiny and Cordelia poured herself an orange juice. As she took a long sip, Faith sauntered in and sat beside her at the table. They shared a private look and Cordelia decided that this secrecy thing was actually pretty sexy. Especially when Faith leaned across her to reach for the cereal box, briefly allowing their fingertips to touch under the table.

"So, what do you have planned today?" Cordelia asked her mother too brightly.

Her mother faltered. "Oh, I'm not sure yet honey."

"Good, because I thought we could go for lunch. My treat. There's this gorgeous little restaurant to die for..."

So two hours later Cordelia and her mother were seated opposite each other, shaded from the sun by a parasol. Her mother looked so fragile in sunlight, her eyes hidden by Jackie O-like glasses, her bright lipstick contrasting sharply with pale, aged skin. She watched Mommy picking at the salad she'd ordered and took a breath.

"There's something I have to tell you," Cordelia began abruptly. So much for taking the calm, cool approach to this.

The fork in her mother's hand paused halfway to her mouth. "You haven't seen your father have you?"

Cordelia blinked, shook her head. "No, no. It's not about Daddy. It's something else."

Her mother waited, a small, patient smile on her face.

"It's... God, this is so difficult. Me and Faith, we're more than friends." The smile slipped slowly from her mother's face, replaced by confusion. "I mean, I love her, I'm in love with her."

Her mother's mouth fell open slightly, as if to speak. Cordelia just wished she could see her eyes. "Look, I know this is hard for you to accept but it isn't a phase, and it isn't your fault. I'm not saying that I'm suddenly gay or whatever, just that I'm in love with her."

"Will you stop saying that!" Mommy hissed suddenly but she seemed to regain her composure just as quickly as she'd lost it. She pulled the napkin off her lap and dabbed it to her lips delicately. "I think I need to lie down."

The cab ride back to Cordelia's apartment was made in silence. Her mother just stared out the window, looking paler than ever, her lower lip trembling slightly. Cordelia just felt sick - in a way it was a great relief to have finally said it out loud to someone else, that she loved Faith but, at the same time, Mommy would probably never speak to her again. Well, who ever said this was going to be easy?

As soon as they were inside, Cordelia's mother headed straight for the liquor cabinet. The solitary bottle of scotch was nearly empty. The older woman made a muted, anguished noise. She turned to her daughter suddenly, taking off her sunglasses. "Be a dear and get some more will you, honey?"

"Mommy, do you really think you should..."

Her mother seemed to snap. "Damn it, the one thing I ask you to do, Delia." She was shaking now, brittle and steely all at once and Cordelia hadn't heard her mother use that pet name for years. "I mean, you drop this on me and expect me to... I need a drink."

Cordelia held up her palm calmly. "Alright, I'll go. Five minutes, okay?"

Grabbing her purse, Cordelia left her mother alone knowing this was going to be a long afternoon.

*****

The doorbell rang and Mrs Chase stopped her frantic pacing. Had Cordelia forgotten her key in the fuss? Her own mind was teeming with questions and fears. How could this have happened? Delia was a beautiful girl for God's sake; she could have any man she wanted. Yet Cordelia had chosen this... Faith. Obviously this rough girl, a piece of white trash if ever she saw it, had led her daughter astray. Completely unsuitable for a Van den Berg. How long had this been going on? Cordelia had never mentioned this girl before so it had to be a recent development, a lapse in judgement probably. Or Faith exerted some influence over Cordelia. The whole concept was disgusting and if the family ever found out...

The doorbell rang again and Mrs Chase almost jumped. Hand fluttering over her heart, she approached the door and opened it. "Yes?"

A blonde woman stood in the doorway, smartly dressed, and there was something about the warmth of her smile that put Mrs Chase immediately at ease. "Hello, I'm a friend of Cordelia's."

"Oh, I'm afraid she's popped out to get... groceries," Mrs Chase said and noticed the look of disappointment on the other woman's face. "She shouldn't be long, if you'd like to wait?"

The blonde woman smiled again. "I don't mind at all."

"Where are my manners, won't you come inside dear?"

"Thank you, I'd love to." The blonde said with a tone of amusement as she stepped across the threshold.

Mrs Chase eyed the other woman carefully. She so rarely got to meet any of her daughter's friends and this woman seemed more on Cordelia's level than that Faith girl. "Cordelia didn't mention that anyone would be stopping by."

"Oh, she isn't expecting me. This is a surprise visit," the blonde said with a small, girlish laugh.

Mrs Chase motioned to the couch and settled herself on the cushions. "Do sit down, honey. So, how long have you known Cordelia?"

The blonde woman dutifully took a seat next to Mrs Chase and idly picked at the folds of her skirt. "Not long. You could say Faith is our common ground."

"Oh. The. room-mate," Mrs Chase said with barely-concealed chagrin and rung her hands as she stood abruptly.

"Would you like something to drink while you wait? She really won't be much longer, I'm certain. Do you mind if I...?" Mrs Chase indicated discretely towards the bottle of scotch sitting on top of the liquor cabinet.

The blonde woman shook her head, smiling. "Makes the blood taste sweeter."

Startled by that comment, Mrs Chase looked up. "Pardon?"

"It's good for the heart, in moderation. Whiskey," the blonde replied innocently.

Mrs Chase decided she was hearing things and she shook herself slightly. She laughed gaily. "Well, that's a bonus, dear." She fluttered around nervously after pouring the last drop of whiskey into the tumbler, unable to decide whether to sit or stand. "What is it you do, if you don't mind my asking?"

The blonde smiled, always smiling. It was both disconcerting and charming that smile. "I'm involved in blood donorship."

"Like a doctor?"

"In a way." The blonde looked at Mrs Chase with intense professional interest. "Have you ever given blood, Mrs Chase?"

Mrs Chase shook her head firmly. "Oh no, I can't stand the sight of needles, honey. Just the thought of a pin-prick brings me out in hives." She fidgeted with the tumbler in her hands before taking a long swallow of her familiar amber saviour. "I don't know what's taking her so long. I mean, how long does it take to buy a carton of milk?"

The blonde woman rose slowly from the couch. "As I said, I don't mind waiting." She inclined her head as she gazed at Mrs Chase. "You know, you really should consider donating blood. It doesn't hurt at all and if you look away, you'd never know." Unexpectedly, she reached out. "Give me your hand."

Mrs Chase tittered nervously. "Whatever for, dear?"

"Let me show you how little it hurts. Give me your hand," the blonde woman said in that beguiling girl-woman voice.

Mrs Chase found herself succumbing and offered her hand to the other woman, feeling foolish as she did so. She was struck just how cold the blonde's skin was as she cradled Mrs Chase's hand between her own. Without warning quick fingers pinched the thin layer of skin on the back of her hand, making her squeak in indignation and pain. Yet she found herself laughing at the obvious delight in the blonde woman's eyes.

"See? It's nothing at all. It's over before you know it." The blonde smiled broadly, showing her strange, elongated incisors. "Of course, with the kind of generous donation I'm talking about..."

Mrs Chase watched in mute horror as the blonde woman's face transformed, hideous ridges forming over her forehead, her eyes sickly yellow as they peered out of skeletal sockets. "...you won't get a cookie afterwards."

The older woman could only whimper as the vampire grabbed her roughly, mouth swooping down and locking onto her throat. But before those ghastly fangs could sink into her flesh, Mrs Chase was dimly aware of the sound of the key turning in the lock. In her blind panic she watched the door swing open and saw Cordelia in the doorway. She wanted to scream but not a word left her lips. It was too late, Cordelia dropped the grocery bag, sending tins of tuna and fruit and that damn bottle of scotch spilling everywhere.

Mrs Chase slumped to the floor as the vampire released her, shoving her away. Cordelia launched herself at the creature, her fists beating but not connecting. And the last thing Mrs Chase saw before the world faded to black was that creature overpowering her daughter, breaking that perfect nose with one brutal punch. Didn't that... thing know how much that nose had cost in cosmetic surgery bills?

Continued in 'Reconciliation'