Currently untitled

Chapter 1

Author notes: This takes place post Revelations (as in immediately post) third season. Sort of a non-magical, more sober version of Want beer.

Faith found herself staring at the door to her motel room, as if expecting it to re-open at any moment, even though it had been nearly ten minutes since Buffy had turned and exited through its paint-chipped entryway. She was still holding her magazine in her hands, though she had not glanced down at it for some time now, and had never been looking at it seriously in the first place. That had been a way to make it seem like what she had to say, that what had happened between them, didn't matter…

And it didn't, Faith told herself fiercely, her lips pressing together into a thin line unconsciously. It didn't matter… it was her fault anyway, for thinking that things could possibly be different. She knew better than to even hope that, let alone wish that it were true… so why the hell had she?

You don't need anyone, Faith told herself, and when this wasn't enough to unloosen the knot tightening in her heart, to relax the tension of her tautly pulled muscles, she told herself again, deliberately making herself slump against the rickety bed's wooden backboard. You don't need anyone…you've got you, that's all you've ever had, and it's all you'll ever need. That's what you told B, and it's true. You know that… you've always known that.

You can't trust anyone… that's where you fucked up here, thinking maybe it could be different this time, that maybe you could. You know better… it's your own damn fault for trying to think it didn't have to be like that. You know it does. And it's not like it fuckin' matters…it's not a big deal. You get along fine by yourself… better than fine. You don't need anything else…you don't.

Faith sighed slowly, more deeply than she had intended to, her troubled thoughts and emotions leaking out audibly into that exhalation. Angry at herself, she clinched her jaw, and her grip on her magazine tightened until the tips of her fingers turned white. She crossed her nearly bare legs, clad in her cut-off, homemade shorts, then uncrossed them, finding herself suddenly unable to sit still. She was beginning to feel more and more on edge, as if something were creeping through her veins in a slow, maddeningly itching way that made her want to run… or maybe just scream. Her eyes stung suddenly, and Faith sucked in another sharp breath, grinding her teeth together. This was NOT a big deal, it was NOT a big fucking deal…so why the hell was she acting like it was?

She needed to get herself together… no, she needed to get OUT of here. If not out of town, then at least out of the room… she needed to get some kind of release, a distraction. Something to make her shake off all this shit she never should have been feeling in the first place.

Faith stood up abruptly, tossing her magazine to the floor. Going to her dresser and pulling the battered drawer open so hard that it came out on the floor with a crash, she pulled out a slightly rumpled, skin-tight black tank top and the pair of leather pants her klepto ex-boyfriend had stolen for her. Stripping with jerky impatience out of her current shirt and shorts, and yanking them on, she applied darker eyeliner, mascara, and lipstick as quickly as was possible without smearing it all over. That finished, she barely spared time to glance at herself in the mirror before pulling on her knee-high boots and striding rapidly toward the door… a door that she still owed the manager huge sums of money for, thanks to Kakistos and his costly replacement he'd made necessary. Hell if she knew why, it was just as flimsy and shitty as the old one…

Opening the door, she let it slam behind her, knowing and not caring that if she did it too hard it would probably fall off its hinges, cheap as it was. As she began to stride down the sidewalk, she didn't care that it was the middle of the day, that she had no money, and at fifteen, was both too young to legally drink and also did not even have a driver's license, faked or not. None of that mattered…Faith knew she would have no problem getting drinks bought for her, and she had not problem using the tactics it would take to get that accomplished. All she could think of as she strode towards the Bronze was how badly she wanted this, even needed this…

She could almost taste the alcohol already, feel it course through her veins, lending her warmth and temporary happiness, a rush of energy and adrenaline that she craved. She could already hear the music, feel the beat pounding against her as she moved not with it, but against it in fierce opposition. She could feel the bodies pressed up against her ass, erections through tight jeans, hands moving over her hips and breasts, and she needed this, needed some kind of release… she needed that kind of release.

Faith slunk her way through the entrance, sidling up to the side of the first man she saw standing alone and sliding her arm around his waist. Looking up at him and speaking to him coyly, she ignored his sloppy grin, ignored the clinching of her heart. This was what she wanted, she told herself, this was what she needed. This was ALL she needed…

888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888

Buffy had not been able to feel even the slightest bit at ease since she'd left Faith's motel room. Okay, scratch that, since Gwendolyn Post had been turned into bacon by the Mygheon glove's power, and Faith had realized the depth of her betrayal of her. Buffy had seen the shock in Faith's eyes, the deep hurt and sense of anger and pain when the woman spoke to her. It had been obvious to her that Faith cared about her, had trusted her, and that she had been deeply wounded by her use of her… and by what she had seen as Buffy's betrayal.

When it was all over, and the sickening smell of the woman's burnt flesh hung in the air, Buffy had turned toward Faith…but the younger Slayer would not even meet her eyes. Without saying a word, she had turned and strode off at a rapid pace. And Buffy had no stopped her…she had not even tried to, as badly as she felt. There had been other things to take care of, things that Buffy had quickly told herself were more important… but also, she had to admit that she simply had not known what to do or say, or even how to attempt to try… and she didn't want to try.

And so after everyone had re-grouped, all except for Faith, that is, and talked together about what to do now that they all knew Angel was back, Buffy had found herself still thinking about Faith, still remembering the look in her eyes when Gwendolyn Post had called her an idiot, laughing in her face… she remembered the extreme tension of her posture as she left them, the expression on her face so deliberately blank that it told volumes about her emotions. Unable to get her image out of her mind, Buffy had finally gathered the nerve to go to her, to apologize, try to start things over…

And it had flopped majorly. Looking at her, at the awful jaded blankness of her eyes, the way she held herself so defensively, even as she tried to display toughness and indifference, had made Buffy lose track of everything she meant to say, able to concentrate only on how guilty and uncomfortable she felt then. Oh, she had apologized, or tried to… but somehow her words had come out sounding insincere and awkward even to her own ears.

And Faith, of course, had simply shrugged them off. Buffy had known looking at her that she didn't believe her, let alone accept what she was saying. But still, it had hurt Buffy to see the younger Slayer looking at her stonily, as she told her coldly that she didn't need her… that she was the only person on her own side.

Buffy knew that Faith believed what she was saying, that, as cold as she sounded, she wasn't trying to hurt her by her rejection so much as protect herself from being hurt. But still…hearing her tone, seeing the flat, hooded gaze of her dark eyes, Buffy had felt her pride squash down in her chest, and she had left soon after, giving up nearly as soon as she had started. She had felt Faith's eyes on her back as she turned toward the door, and she could sense strongly the other girl's emotions, even without her saying a word, and in spite of her efforts to conceal them. Anger, frustration, sadness, loneliness, fear…and a desire that outweighed it all, a wish for Buffy to turn back, to try harder. Buffy had felt this, knew this…

And yet she did nothing. She continued to walk out the door, leaving Faith to sit alone in her shabby motel room, even as her guilty wistful thinking knotted itself tightly in her stomach…

Ever since she had tried to forget her, tried to distract herself from thoughts of Faith…even thoughts of Angel and the others' anger and frustration with her was preferable. But it hadn't worked… nearly two hours had gone by now and she still could not stop picturing her rigid features as she sat on her bed, hearing the hardness to her tone as she told Buffy that she was the only person she would ever need. She couldn't stop herself from replaying in her mind what had been said, over and over, wondering what she could have done differently, what she should have said instead… and surely she could have done something differently. Surely she could have made this better, somehow…

Buffy had found herself sinking into a moodiness and anxiety that she didn't understand, but knew could be traced almost entirely back to Faith and what had gone on between them. Trying to deny this to herself only made it seem even more prevalent in her mind. Eventually she had found herself heading out to walk alone, presumably to slay…but the truth was that she wasn't exactly looking too hard for demons and vampires. She was basically trying through her constant movement to bleed off some of her thoughts and worrying, to clear her head…

And why was her head so crowded anyway? Yeah, the day had been upsetting… yes, the scene with Faith, not to mention physically fighting her for the first- and hopefully the last- time had been frustrating, and she was worried about her… but why was it all that Buffy could think about? Of course she cared about Faith, she didn't want to ruin the friendship they'd been building, or hurt her…but still…why was she so upset over this, to the point where she could think of nothing else?

And yet even as she asked herself this, Buffy realized that she wasn't actually wanting to answer this… for some inexplicable reason, she didn't want to know…

And for yet another inexplicable reason that she didn't question too closely, she found herself, quite without planning to, standing before the Bronze, then walking inside. She couldn't quite make sense of this either… she had originally wanted to be alone, and yet she was going to the Bronze, with all its people and music and noise and movement? But regardless she found herself stepping inside, as if drawn there…

Almost immediately she realized why she had come, whether subconsciously, because of who she figured might be there, or else maybe as an unrealized side effect of their Slayer bond… whatever the case, she was here now, and so, as probably everyone in the entire place was aware of by now, was Faith.

It would have been quite clear to Buffy that Faith had been drinking even without the beer bottle currently clutched in her hand. She was dancing, as Buffy would have expected, occasionally lifting the bottle to her mouth to take a long swallow before going right back to her intense gyrating with the three or four guys surrounding her, all of them rather close in their dancing, and apparently not too shy with their hands.

As Buffy stood back toward the doorway, watching Faith with a strange, equal parts sad and frustrated feeling pressing itself in her chest, she found her eyes zeroing in on exactly where the guys were putting their hands on Faith, and where she was with them…which was pretty much everywhere. Her dancing was loose, wild, and though she was laughing and grinding herself against them, letting them touch her and rub against her, Buffy had the impression watching her that she was suddenly going to fly apart, scattering into little pieces… and in Sunnydale, this thought could literally be a legitimate concern.

Though Faith was laughing, returning their touch and then some, seeming to be having the time of her life…seeming not at all bothered about the day's earlier happenings, or thinking about anything at all but the present…Buffy's insides cramped with worry even more than frustration with her. Surely this wasn't a healthy way of dealing… surely Faith wasn't as okay with all this as she was quite literally trying to make out…

Buffy stood there for a good ten or fifteen minutes, letting her thoughts run rapidly through her mind. She couldn't even consider leaving, nor could she look away from Faith…nor could she bring herself to approach her. She just stood there and watched as Faith's movements grew ever looser, almost sloppy, as she began to stumble on her feet, until it seemed that only the guy's groping, sweaty hands seemed to be keeping her upright. Buffy watched her have two more beers and knew she should say something…but she just stood there, feeling utterly helpless…and jealous. It made no sense, but she felt jealous…envious….

Of what? Of who? Why? Not Faith, surely…I know you're not jealous of Faith when's she's out there getting trashed like that, practically whoring herself out to those guys…

But you're not jealous of the guys either… are you? Why would you be jealous of THEM?

You're not jealous…you're, you're irritated. Yes, that's it, you're irritated… because, because Faith is doing this, she's being stupid like this…

Doesn't she realize I'm here? Doesn't she sense me through the Slayer bond thingy? Is she just ignoring me? Then again, maybe she doesn't sense me or see me… as much alcohol is in her now, she's probably seeing double of everything, and all blurry too.

When Buffy glanced back at Faith again, she realized with a little jolting that the brunette was no longer dancing… in fact, she wasn't moving much at all. Her eyes were only half open, her head hanging loosely so that her hair hung partly in her face, and her limbs suddenly looked heavy, clumsy. She looked awful, and paler, Buffy realized with some alarm that surprised her in its intensity. Like she was about to puke, or pass out…

It took her another second to realize that Faith was moving again, but not of her own decision and execution. Two of the three guys had taken hold of her and were dragging her outside, opening the side door that led to the alley, with the other two following close behind. Faith was not fighting them or protesting, by any means, but neither did she look as if this was an idea of her own initiation… in fact, in the state of mind she currently seemed to be in, Buffy doubted she could in fact initiate anything like what they seemed to have in mind. Which was what, exactly?

Buffy's eyes narrowed, her senses sharpening as she watched Faith and her companions closely, how they were half dragging, half pushing her towards the exit. She didn't like this… for some reason, watching it made her upset, almost angry…it was entirely irrational, she told herself hurriedly, Faith was a Slayer, she could take care of herself…

But then again, maybe not. She certainly had been drinking more than she should, enough, probably, to impair her defenses and reflexes- and her thinking. She barely even been able to keep her eyes open, to walk…and these guys, they didn't give off the vampires vibe, but they COULD be…or they could be wanting to harm her in other ways. Maybe they were monsters or demons of some kind, wanting to take out a Slayer while she was weakened…or even just regular guys, wanting to hurt her or take her. There's no shortage of those in the world either.

With that thought Buffy lurched forward hurriedly, her heart suddenly beating faster. Trying to push aside the vivid images suddenly bombarding her mind, visuals of just what they might want from Faith, what they might try to do to her, she pushed past people, tables, and chairs, just trying to reach them, to stop them if and when needed, before it was too late.

To be continued