RATING: PG

SPOILERS: This Year's Girl

DISCLAIMER: They're Joss' not mine (but at least I let 'em open up ). All dialogue in this piece is straight from the episode. The interpretation, however, is mine... all mine.

NOTE: Throw it in there with the "It's a Slayer Thing" series. I just had to deal with this episode. =)

"Gonna Get Burned"

-

"Well, I'm not you."

Buffy stopped in her tracks. It was Faith. Standing right in front of her. Faith. That hair. Those eyes. Those lips. A thousand caresses, glances, kisses...

Faith looked Buffy over. "Check you out, B. Big girl on campus thing's really working for you." She loved this girl. She hated this girl. She hated loving this girl.

Buffy wasn't sure where to start. Maybe it was the fact that she hadn't seen her in eight months, but Faith looked GOOD. "I've been looking for you." Buffy cursed internally for not finding something better to say. Still, it was better than nothing.

"I've been standing still for eight months, B." Faith threw it back in her face. "How hard'd you look?" Eight months. She never came by once.

Buffy took a breath. If there was one thing Faith could do, it was make her try harder. "Are you all right?" Faith was right, though.

Faith shrugged. "Five by five."

Buffy almost visibly shivered at the familiar words. She'd heard them a thousand times in her dreams, the past several months, but this was the first live performance in a long time.

Faith began to pace. "That's the thing about a coma. You wake up all rested and rejuvenated." She stopped and looked directly at Buffy. "And ready for payback." She stepped closer. Payback for every lonely moment she spent in that place.

Buffy didn't budge. This was Faith's way of communicating. The hyped-up banter was textbook foreplay. "So much for pleasantries, huh?" If Faith didn't wanna play nice, Buffy would play her way.

Willow anxiously watched on the sidelines. She was never sure what to make of Faith. Before, she had never understood quite what Buffy saw in Faith, but now, she was beginning to understand. Before, she hadn't had the distinct pleasure of falling for a girl. Now she knew that once you fall, you can fall hard.

"What'd you think I'd wake up and we'd go for tea?" Faith taunted Buffy with sarcasm. "You tried to gut me, blondie."

"You would have done the same to me if you'd had the chance," Buffy snapped back. She would have. Buffy knew it. Because it was the only way.

"Let's have a good go at it." Passion burned in Faith's eyes. The kind that blazed there after a good slay, when she was looking for another challenge. She gave Buffy another once over. "See who lands on top."

Buffy tried to keep control of her voice. She had to be cool, calm, collected. "It doesn't have to be like this, you know."

"Actually, I think it has to be exactly like this." She looked around the campus.

"Faith, these are innocent people."

"No such animal." Nobody was innocent. They'd all screwed her over at some point, somehow. And if they hadn't, they would.

Buffy crossed her arms. So it was gonna be like this. Like every time before. After things had gone crazy. "I guess it was too much to hope that you used your downtime to reflect and grow."

"Could say the same about you. I mean you're still the same ol' 'Better Than Thou Buffy'."

Willow slipped off her backpack. She had to stop Faith from hurting Buffy. Everything about them together was just too destructive. She had to intervene.

"I mean, I knew it somehow." Faith had to keep Buffy on her toes. So far, it was working. "I kept having this dream. I'm not sure what it means, but in the dream, this self righteous blonde chick stabs me. And you know why?"

Buffy raised her eyebrows. "You had it coming."

Willow edged closer.

Faith continued on. "That's one interpretation. But in my dream she does it for a guy." There. Throw Angel in the mix. That'll be fun. Make her squirm a little. "Try it, Red, and you lose an arm."

Buffy nodded. Willow backed down.

"I wake up to find out that this blonde chick isn't even dating the guy she was so nuts about before. I mean, she's moved on to the first college beefstick she meets. And not only has she forgotten about the love of her life," Faith oozed sarcasm, hoping to get something, anything out of Buffy, "she's forgotten all about the chick she nearly killed for him."

Buffy didn't bat an eye. Inside, she was screaming. _I know, Faith. I had to. I couldn't hold on. It was already over. Angel was nothing. Riley is nothing. But I HAD to move on. It hurt too much._

"So, that was my dream." Faith paused. "That and some stuff about cigars and a tunnel."

Buffy rolled her eyes.

"So, tell me, college girl, what does it mean?"

"To me? Mostly, that you still mouth off about things you don't understand." Sirens began to wail in the near distance. "Uh oh. I guess somebody knows you're here."

Too much. Faith threw a punch at Buffy. They exchanged a few combinations. God, it felt good. Eight months without release.

Willow hit Faith with her backpack, giving Buffy a brief edge. She threw Faith aside.

Faith scrambled to her feet. "You took my life, B. Payback's a bitch."

"Look who's talking," piped Willow.

"See you around." Faith tore off through the police officers, tossing them aside.

Buffy took off after her, but Faith was over the wall and out of sight before Buffy could catch up.