Taking

Author notes: Post Chosen. I do not own these characters.

Faith had always been able to take the violence, the anger cast upon her, by anyone, even Buffy… maybe especially Buffy. She could take it when Buffy looked at her with her eyes narrowed and flashing with fury, her lips thinned in disapproval. It was nothing she wasn't used to, nothing she hadn't experienced, or even deliberately provoked, numerous times in her life for as far back as she could remember. In a way Faith even enjoyed it, thrived off it, seeing it as a challenge, a compliment of sorts, an affirmation of the image she tried so hard to maintain.

It was the same with any confrontation, whether physical or verbal, or merely in an exchanging of unspoken sentiment. Faith actually looked forward to fighting Buffy, to the adrenaline surge that rushed through her, exhilarating, strengthening, from the moment of their first blows. She could handle the other girls' cold remarks, her stony, resentful looks, the way she openly proclaimed her mistrust and dislike. Any rage, any hatred she threw her way, Faith could take it in stride, expecting and accepting it, and she did very little to try to change or analyze it… and in this way it could not hurt her, could not get under her skin.

It was when she showed no anger towards her, when the icy rage and solid disapproval subsided, that Faith faltered, no longer sure of where she stood, how to respond. She didn't know what to do how it was that she should feel, when the hatred in Buffy's eyes flickered, replaced with a softer uncertainty that neither woman felt at ease with. She didn't know how to handle when Buffy touched her in any way that didn't bloody, break, or bruise her, in any way that conveyed gentleness and barely acknowledge desire rather than punishment and pain. She didn't know what to think when Buffy let her fingertips brush her arm, or tucked a strand of hair quickly behind her ear, first looking all about herself to make sure that no other was close by, watching…

Even now, Faith could not process, could not wrap her mind around the way Buffy had looked at her the night before with such softness, such need… the way she had reached for her, touched her, taking from her and her body in a way Faith had once been convinced would and could never happen. Faith could not think of the supple softness of Buffy's mouth, the firmness of her lips on hers, the sweetness of her taste, could not let herself remember. She couldn't ponder the feeling of holding Buffy, the tickling of her hair brushing her chest and shoulders, the way she had sighed so deeply, as though feeling pleasure from head to toe…as Faith had been. No, she couldn't think of that, of any of that, couldn't remember. She couldn't take remembering.

But most of all, Faith couldn't' stand to remember the look in Buffy's eyes when she awakened this morning as the previous night's activities arose to her consciousness. She couldn't stand to think of the way Buffy had scrambled out of bed without a word, her back rigid, shoulders tensed as she fled, leaving only unspoken regrets and horrors in her wake. And now, surrounded by all the others only a few hours later, Faith couldn't stand to see the way Buffy's eyes skipped past her, total indifference in her expression… the way that without a single world or touch, the other woman could make her come closer than any other to bursting into uncontrollable sobs.

(My prompt was: One character reduces another to uncontrollable sobbing without touching them or speaking to them. I skewed it a little)