Title: The Queen's Battle
Author: Sapphire Smoke
Beta: supershineygirl on LJ
Fandom: Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Rating: M
Pairing(s): Buffy/Faith, Buffy/Satsu
Timeline: Season 8 - though in my world the whole Gigi thing never happened and the whole world isn't going to shit with Twilight. Because I say so. lol
Summary: Slayer dreams don't always mean an apocalypse is looming, but they're still confusing as hell.
A/N: I don't know why I'm doing another mutichapter story. I think I might be insane.

The Excuses We Make

"What are we doing?"

The quiet question seemed to echo through the darkness of the room, hanging in mid air over their heads like it has after every single time this has happened in the past month. Buffy always had to ask it outloud; always had to voice it, like each time she does she expects a different, grander answer to something so simple yet so complicated.

Satsu doesn't answer her; she's decided to stop trying to find answers for her, knowing that Buffy isn't looking for any answer that she could give her. She knows she needs to find it for herself. But Buffy still waits, the question lingering overhead, for some grand insight she expects the younger Slayer to give her. But nothing comes besides a soft kiss to her neck, something that's meant to be comforting, but it makes Buffy close her eyes and try to remember that what she's doing constitutes 'wrong' in every single meaning of the word.

This thing with Satsu is like déjà vu for her; Spike happening all over again only this time there's a lot less violence involved. But strip it down to the core and you can still stamp 'user and abuser' on her forehead. Sometimes she thinks she should; at least just to give people fair warning, though then she realizes another human being would probably never want to get close to her again, and the fact that that stops her, makes her want to tattoo 'selfish' on her left butt cheek; though that being on her left butt cheek may make that warning come just a little too late.

Well, the placement of the tattoo can be up for debate.

Satsu looks down at Buffy, her features outlined by the soft light of the moon spilling through the window. She looks distressed, again, just like after every single time they've had sex and all she wants to do is reach out and fix it. Buffy won't ever let her come that close though. They can fall into bed with each other time after time and for being so close to the alpha Slayer she knows she's still so distant. She may even be more distant from her now then she ever was before. Buffy used to talk to her but now she barely speaks more than a couple words to her and most of them are barked out orders. They slay, they have sex.

How meaningless it is breaks Satsu's heart and yet she can't stop herself from wanting to be wrapped up in Buffy's embrace, even for a moment. To know that just for a second Buffy is all hers.

"Do you want to talk about it?" Satsu asks quietly, even though she knows she'll be shot down. She doesn't know why she bothers; Einstein once said the definition of insanity is to perform the same task over and over and expect different results; which could also, arguably, be the definition of stupid too.

But then again, they also say love is stupid. And blind. And… complicated. Yes, love was definitely complicated, especially for someone who's apparently insane and stupid.

Buffy looks up at her lover and forces herself to give her a small smile. She reaches her hand out and tucks a stray strand of dark hair behind her ear before pressing her palm to her cheek. "I'm okay," she tells her, even though they both know she's not. Satsu accepts her answer though and that might be why it's so easy for Buffy to keep doing this.

Satsu doesn't force her to come up with answers or reasons. She doesn't send her weird mixed signals and then demand unmixed ones from Buffy herself (unlike some people she knows). Buffy knows exactly what Satsu wants from her and yet the younger slayer is still patient enough to let Buffy figure out what it is that she wants even though she's been all over the map lately.

I think I like you. We can't be together. Yes, let's have lots of rampant lesbian sex, please. Oh no, wait, that was a mistake. But, hey, let's do it again. Wait no, this is bad because I'm not gay and you could die. But hey, everyone has a bi-curious moment or twelve, right? Good. Bad. Yay, orgasms. Guilt. Good. Bad. Etc, etc and so on and so forth.

Buffy's giving herself a headache. She has no idea how Satsu can stand it.

It's not even the girl thing that wigs her anymore; though that was a large contributing factor during her first private little mental breakdown she had in the shower last month. Buffy's still not ready to jump on the gay train and wave a rainbow flag around by any means, but she's accepted that there's a part of her that actually enjoys the touch of another woman. Though whether that means she enjoys women as a whole gender or just Satsu, she has yet to figure out.

It was all too easy to give in. Satsu is beautiful, confident… sweet. Buffy remembers how it started that first night. Wound up from the slay and emotions running high. She barely stood a chance against her lesbian powers (because seriously, she's got to have some sort of powers cause… wow) and it seemed like such a simple answer to a more complicated problem.

"This is a bad idea," Buffy told the younger slayer breathlessly, who's eyes were black from desire. Buffy could feel it coursing through her as well and she just said that to have it out there; have it known. They weren't even doing anything yet, but god did she want to.

"Probably," Satsu responded honestly, but her breathing is hitched and they were drawing closer.

Neither of them really knew how they ended up in that position, so intimately together against a wall. Buffy vaguely remembered tripping over the rug in the hallway as she tried to make a frantic dash to her room so she could relieve some tension, and she vaguely remembered Satsu catching her before she fell and steadying her against said wall. But that was ages ago, wasn't it? Buffy felt like she'd been staring at the younger girl forever, her heart pounding in her throat and every inch of her threatening to explode.

Buffy wanted to kiss her so badly and the revelation kind of startled her because the only person she's ever had that thought about was… well, that didn't end well. Buffy's pretty sure because of that she shouldn't be wanting to kiss other girls. Any girls. Girls in general. Then again, she never had the best track record with men either and oh god she could now feel Satsu's breath against her lips.

She was not this damp a second ago. Has she become gay? Can you become gay?

And Satsu's in love with her! That's not the best way to start out a relationship; with one person being in love and the other… what was she doing? About to experiment? Cause right now? God, yes, did she want to experiment. There was lots of experimenting to be had if it all felt like this and they hadn't even got to the good part yet.

The anticipation was killing her.

"I'm just going to end up hurting you," Buffy told her softly, trying to talk some sense into her. Maybe even into herself. By this point though she was mainly just talking to talk because she was pretty sure her mind was somewhere in the realm of 'Bed, now.'

"I trust you," Satsu breathed over her lips, making Buffy melt into one big pile of Slayer goo. She closed her eyes and took a breath, trying to think, but the only thing that seemed to be thinking for her was her very wet—

"You shouldn't," Buffy whispered. "It's going to get you killed." Everyone who loves her always dies.

Satsu smirked, thinking that she was being a bit overdramatic. She leaned and pressed her lips to Buffy's ear, "I trust you with my life, Buffy." And she did, she always would. But that wasn't what this was about. "I'm not expecting anything," she told her.

"You're in love with me," Buffy protests, but her resolve was fading quickly. She felt her hands sneak around Satsu's body of their own accord, pulling the younger girl closer to her. Satsu smiled, Buffy could feel it against her cheek.

"Yes, I am. And if you want… I'll spend all night showing you how much."

That pretty much sealed the deal for Buffy, that one sentence being so sweet, so sensual, and so sexy the way it was breathed into her ear that it made Buffy feel like she was on fire and all she wanted was to be consumed by Satsu. And she was, completely and utterly.

It was so perfect and any sane person would jump at the chance of being with a girl like Satsu. Buffy wants to feel things for her, she does. Satsu is so close to perfect and yet Buffy can't find it in herself to feel more than just… friendship. Well, friendship with some sexy feelings. But it's like something's missing and both of them know it. Just neither of them has said anything about it. Satsu is happy with what she's getting and Buffy's just… needing to feel something human.

So no, what's wigging her isn't the girl thing; it's that deep down she knows she's just using her and that in the end she's going to end up crushing the girl's heart into a million tiny pieces… and yet she can't make herself stop. She's been lonely; she wants to feel connected again to someone in any way that she can. It's not the connection (that's a whole other screwed up mess she doesn't want to get into) but it's still something at least.

And that, right there, in big bold and shiny letters spells out the word "selfish."

Buffy sighs and sits up, clutching the sheets to her body. Satsu moves back a little, knowing this part all too well: the part when Buffy runs. "You don't have to go," she tells her, though once again knowing it's useless.

"I know. It's just… training tomorrow. Faith's coming back with more girls and if the last batch was anything like this next one I'm going to have to check myself into a mental institution sooner than I planned," Buffy tells her, feeling awfully old and tired all of a sudden.

"You often think about checking yourself in to a mental institution?" Satsu asks her, a little amused.

Buffy smirks a little. "More than you know."

Satsu watches the blonde gather her clothes and the silence seems to stretch on forever. It's always like this. Satsu isn't naïve about what's going on and about what this is. She knows she's going to get her heart broken in the end; that Buffy's going to come to her senses and stop this at some point. Buffy pretty much told her that from the beginning. Better to have loved and lost though, right? That way of thinking might make her a little naive though; she's never loved and lost… she's never experienced the pain. Yet here she is, willingly opening herself up to it. Maybe she should be the one checking herself into a mental institution.

She still holds onto the hope though. It's small, but it's there. She has to hold onto it because it's the only thing that keeps her sane and patient.

Once she's fully clothed, Buffy turns and leans down over the bed to cup the back of Satsu's neck as she gives her a long, deep kiss. "I want you there with me… when Faith comes back." She doesn't take her hand off of the younger Slayer's neck; maybe like she's afraid Satsu will run when faced with something Buffy absolutely needs her to do. But if, well, anything Satsu has done since she's been here has been any indication, Buffy knows she won't run. But she still has to make sure.

"You do?" Satsu asks, surprised. Whenever Faith comes back every few months with new girls, the meeting that they have is always reserved for the original "Scoobies," which she was not.

"Yeah. Faith being here is about as pleasant for me as getting a root canal and I think I need you to be my moral-support girl so I don't throw her out a window again. Xander told me that if I do I'm going to have to be the one that fixes it this time and I'm awful when it comes to being a handy… woman. Destroying I can do. Fixing? Not so much."

Last time Faith was here Buffy and her got into a huge fight which ended with Faith flying out a window (it was a first story window, but still) right before Buffy broke the dining room table by landing on it when Faith kicked her in the face. Leah swears up and down it was about Faith using up all the hot water but Satsu's pretty sure that can't be it seeing as that's a ridiculous reason to get into a fist fight over.

"Why did you?" Satsu asks cautiously. "Throw her out a window, I mean." She might as well try to find out.

Buffy sighs dramatically and sits down next to Satsu on the bed, staring at the far wall. She knows it's going to come out sounding completely insane, but maybe she does owe some kind of explanation if she expects Satsu to be there for her. "She's just… she disregards everyone else around her! She never once stops to think about anyone else but herself and her needs and when someone, I don't know, rational tries to come and explain to her the rules in a castle she's a guest in, she's all 'Don't get your panties in a knot, B.' I mean, she completely dismisses everything I say to her all the time! It wasn't even about the hot water, not really. I mean it was also about the last of the Cinnamon Toast Crunch which, hi, so had my name on the box. I mean who ignores names on boxes?!"

Satsu blinks. "You threw her out a window because she used up the hot water and ate your cereal?"

Buffy pauses, knowing exactly how that sounds. "Faith and I are… complicated," she tells her, like that should explain everything. "Besides, she started yelling at me first." Yeah, Childish 101? She passed that course with flying colors. Buffy sighs, running her hand through her hair. Faith just works at her last nerve. She always has. There doesn't have to be a reason why they fight; they just always do. They could try to kill each other over who's supposed to breathe first and it'd be just another day at the office.

Yeah, Satsu has her work cut out for her.

Buffy was worried. Things were always tense and edgy when Faith was around, and she knew things were going to be even weirder than usual this time. That last slayer dream…

"So you want me to try and keep you and Faith from killing each other?"

"I want you to do your thing, that thing that you do; the… calming thing. You're good at that," Buffy tells her. She shifts her hand on the bed a little before having it come up to rest on Satsu's knee. Satsu puts her hand over hers and holds it.

"I can try, Buffy." It's all she can promise. She's not exactly sure how she does the 'calming thing' though, seeing as mostly all they do together is have sex.

Buffy smiles at her a little, though it's etched in sadness still. "Thank you. I know it's a lot to ask but I… I guess maybe I need someone there who can talk some sense into me; someone who didn't experience the whole Buffy and Faith drama-fest first hand. Neutral eye… or something. They say that's important, whoever 'they' is. Are. You know."

"I get it."

Buffy licks her dry lips a little out of nervousness. She takes a breath before she untangles her hand from Satsu's and stands. She starts towards the door but stops suddenly, and Satsu can feel herself holding her breath. Buffy never stops. The older woman doesn't turn to look at her, but says quietly. "I do appreciate you, Satsu. I know I'm… confused right now, but I want you to know that I appreciate you."

Satsu doesn't say anything to that, though mostly because she doesn't know how to respond. Buffy walks out the door then, leaving the younger girl to herself. Satsu tries to not let it happen, but that little glimmer of hope inside her is fighting to get a little bit bigger just by that once revelation.

* * *

"What's she like?" Krista, one of the young slayers asks Faith as they see the castle in the distance. Her voice is wispy, like a song, reminds Faith of that blonde chick in Harry Potter. Yeah, the one that's a little nuts.

"Who, B?" Krista nods and Faith shrugs. "Blonde." She really doesn't wanna get into describing Buffy, mainly cause the first things that come to mind tend to be 'annoying', 'sexy,' and 'selfish', in no particular order.

"Great, so we got Malibu Barbie as our leader? Yeah, I can see how this is so much fucking better," Jenna scoffs, folding her arms into herself. She was still the most bitter out of all of them, only coming with Faith cause it was either that or death, basically. She might be a little bratty shit, but she doesn't wanna die.

"She's an extraordinary leader, Krista. One that I'm sure you'll learn many things from," Giles tells her.

Faith points to Giles and says dismissively. "Yeah, and that."

Faith's real good at what she does; helping girls that have gone rogue to find redemption. She wouldn't trade it for the world. Thing is, she can talk 'No Bullshit' sense into any single one of them but what she can't do is be all 'Ra Ra Buffy!' She's always real good with them up until this point, but more than one of them has caught onto the fact that Faith plus Buffy equals disaster. She's been trying to keep that suppressed, cause most of these girls respect her for trying to help when no one else would. Faith also knows that some of them figure if she doesn't like Buffy than maybe they shouldn't either, and that's not what she's trying to do. She needs them to want to stay here. This is where they're gonna get saved; not with her.

"You don't like the bitch," Jenna observes flatly, noticing her reaction to any and all things Buffy. Fuck. Well, as far as hiding her emotions went, that just blew up in her face. Again.

But she doesn't lie. "Nah, I don't." No, 'like' has never been the word to describe her feelings for Buffy Summers. It's way more complicated than that. "But ya know what? I respect her. So should all of you." Faith respects her as a leader, anyway. She could never do the shit Buffy does. Hell, last time she tried she got the troops blown up.

"How long are you going to stay?" Krista asks airily as she smiles and slides her fingers slowly down the glass of the car window. The kid's grown attached, but sometimes that happens.

"Just a week. Lettin' ya settle in before me and G take off again."

The third girl with them, Mariah, just throws her the finger with a glare out of nowhere. Faith isn't her favorite person in the world, that's for sure. Not that she can blame her.

The van pulls up to the castle doors and Faith grabs the door handle, jumping out of the vehicle before it even stops. She fucking hates car rides; she feels like she's suffocating. This is why she usually jumps on the back of her Harley to get around. Least you can breathe when you're riding it. But a Harley can't take four passengers and a driver so… hence van.

It smelt like cabbage.

Meet and Greet at the door wasn't the fun-filled fest of the year, but at least Buffy wasn't there which made Faith relax a little. It meant she had some time to do that yoga meditation crap Giles keeps making her do to control her anger. She's not the time bomb she was but she still has her issues, and Buffy? She was at the top of her list of issues. She knows she probably has about an hour before the meeting where they discuss the new recruits and so she slips away from the festivities as quickly as possible, letting Giles get the girls settled in while she heads toward the creek.

The creek has always been her little spot when she comes here. It's far enough away from the castle to give her space but close enough to get back if something goes down. But it's peaceful, a little step away from reality when things go shitty when she's here which, let's face it, is ninety percent of the time. She lies on the grass and watches the clouds or she just sits by the water and skims rocks along the surface, listening to nature. It's one of those things she never thought she'd be into but after the rampant migraine that is her life back in good ol' Scotland, she found that it's nice to just have a second to breathe and actually appreciate life.

The creek isn't deserted today though, which Faith finds when she sees a girl sitting in a tree overlooking the water. She turns, hearing Faith approaching her and a smile breaks out on her face as she hops down from the tree. "Faith!"

Angela, another girl who got attached, she was an orphan; no one to love and care for her her whole life. No one to tell her what was wrong and what was right. Faith was the first and it's kinda stuck in Angela's mind that Faith's almost like her savior or something. Faith doesn't feel like much of a savior though. She knows she helps, but she's not… well, she's no Buffy. She's not the Golden Girl.

Faith gives her a small smile and flops down on the grass, digging her cigarette pack out of her jacket pocket. "In the flesh," she tells her. "How's Scotland treatin' ya?"

Angela shrugs, wrapping her hand around the trunk of the tree and swinging around before she starts walking towards Faith. "It rains a lot." She sits next to her and Faith chuckles a little.

"Yeah. Ain't nothin' like Cali." It's where Angela was from originally.

"Yup." Angela sighs, watching Faith light up her cigarette. "Buffy's kind of a bitch too." That makes Faith smirk before she exhales a long stream of white smoke from her painted lips. Another one of the girls who has called her on that. Sometimes she thinks they say these things to get on her good side, but she doesn't want people hating Buffy for her.

"Yeah well, she's always gonna be that," Faith says. "But she's teachin' ya how to kick ass I take it, cause ya don't seem too broken up about bein' here."

"I like it here," Angela states, then shrugs. "She's just… she's really hard on all of us. She plays favorites too, which is completely unfair. I just kind of wish you were the one to teach us."

"Nah, I ain't good at all that. That's B's deal."

There's silence between the two girls for a little while before Angela seems to understand that she needs some space. "I'm going to go inside. You'll be helping Buffy train us later though, right? At least while you're here… like last time?"

"Last time didn't go so well." That was an understatement. "S'B's call. We'll see."

Angela picks herself off the ground and dusts her jeans off. "Well I hope you do. It was fun to watch you and Buffy spar." She gives her a little smile before she turns and walks away, leaving Faith alone.

Spar. Right.

What started out as sparring pretty much snowballed into a full on brawl after Faith commented on being able to smell how turned on Buffy was and that she thought it was time she got a little action. She knows the way it came out probably wasn't the best, but she seriously was just trying to help. Buffy's wound way too tight and she really needs to de-stress, especially since she's the head of the whole operation here. She wasn't offerin' or nothing, though Buffy apparently took it that way once she got wicked pissed and started mouthing off about how she'd be afraid she'd catch something since Faith 'sleeps with everything with a face'. Yeah, what commenced wasn't exactly sparring anymore.

Fuck she hates coming back here.

But she sucks it up and deals because that's who she is now. She ain't gonna run away just because Buffy screws with her head constantly. They fight, yeah. All the time. But sometimes there are also moments of normalcy between them. Smiling, laughing; like how it used to be. Well, for that brief time anyway. The moments never last long, but they're still there. It might be those moments that make it worth it for Faith.

She doesn't like Buffy, but she respects her.

She hates being here, but she wants Buffy to welcome her anyway. Ha, like that'll happen.

The First told her that she always wanted Buffy to love her. That she needed it. Faith thought it was a crock of shit when she heard it at first, though maybe only to try to dull the feeling of being stabbed in the heart by those words, but she's realized that maybe it's true. All she fucking wants is for Buffy to see her for who she is, to accept her for who she is. To stop painting her as the villain and just get, for one god damn second, that pretty much everything Faith ever did was for her or about her.

Faith loves Buffy; as screwed up as that is.

She was the sister Faith never had; that's what Faith figures it has to be, anyway. Though then again, after the last Slayer dream they had that might be a gross visual. But she shared something with Faith that no one else did. They were so alike yet Buffy looked down on her because of their differences. She was young, she didn't get it. It pissed Faith off and made her lash out. She came to Sunnydale cause finally, finally there was someone in the world like her; that would get it. Well, that and a huge old as fuck vampire was chasin' her ass.

But still. Buffy didn't get it.

Hell, Buffy still doesn't get it. Buffy's been the center of her fuckin' world since day one and she still can't see it. She's tried to let go and tried to move on but it hurts when she's away from her and it hurts even more when she's near her. Faith figures she just can't win, so why bother playing the game? She's still gonna end up torn to shreds by the end of it any way you slice it.

Faith swears and drops the cigarette as it burns her fingers. Fuck, she just let the whole thing burn out on her. That's what she gets for trying to be all contemplative about life and love, huh? She takes a breath, realizing her thoughts aren't going to leave her alone long enough to even attempt to clear them, so she's not even gonna bother. She stands up, figuring she might as well just get unpacked before the meeting.

Man. She is not looking forward to the meeting. They never go well.