Prepare for Your Seduction

Disclaimer: I do not own these characters. That would be Joss Whedon/Doug Petrie and Joyce Carol Oates, in the case of Legs.

Author notes: Companion piece to Watch My Back. Takes place February 14, 1997, while Faith is still on the streets with Legs and fourteen years old.

February 14, 1997

"You know what day it is, right, babe?" Legs Sadovsky said casually, glancing down at the younger, smaller girl linking her arm through hers as they walked down the sidewalk of the downtown of the outskirts of Boston.

Faith Lehane rolled her eyes, arching an eyebrow as she smirked over at the other girl, not pausing in her steady stride. There was a rhythm to their walking, a pattern that kept them smoothly in sync with each other that she enjoyed, but pretended not to notice.

"Like I could miss it. There's only enough cupids, hearts, and puppies in every store window to make me reach for a barf bag," she said, and making a noise of confirmation, nudged the older girl with her elbow, gesturing toward the drugstore that they were coming abreast to. "See- "Valentine's Day special, cards, gifts, flowers, and candy, 10% off." Yeah right, more like, "we marked it up 50% so we could mark it down 10% and screw over all the lovesick rich women and all the desperate dudes that know they've gotta make up for all the screwing around on their wives they've done all year."

"Probably I'm the one they were all screwing," Legs laughed, playfully bumping Faith's hip with hers, and Faith laughed too, bumping her back.

"Probably. Or me. I give you some serious competition," she smirked, tossing her hair back from her shoulders to little avail as the February breeze promptly blew it back over the front of her shoulders. Legs's short hair, in contrast, barely ruffled with the wind's presence.

"Yeah, but I've been longer in the game…face it, Faith, you're practically an amateur," she needled, her eyes glinting with mischief, and Faith shoved her harder, eyes narrowing, even as she tried not to smile.

"Amateur, huh? Any time you need some credentials, just ask, bring it fuckin' on!"

"Literally?" Legs snickered, and when Faith grinned, she added lightly, wiggling her eyebrows, "Seducing the minor…hm…I like me some kinks."

As casual as her words were, for a moment Faith's heartbeat sped up.

"Have to consider it."

Faith looked away deliberately in a manner just as casual as Legs's tone, but she did so to hide the sudden shyness of her smile, the hope that had risen in her chest and might show itself too plainly in her face. She kept stride with Legs, shivering in face of the windy February chill, and pressed closer to Legs, arm in arm, shoulder to shoulder, as they walked, heading towards their usual supermarket scout-out for their evening meal.

It was bitterly cold in the days, and even more so now, as the sun began to set. Both girls were shivering their muscles tightly drawn, walking entwined for extra warmth just as much as affection. Their thin pants and jackets were not adequate for the weather, and their exposed faces were chilled, their cheeks, noses, and ears pink. If they had to sleep outside tonight, they would have to find somewhere out of the wind and snuggle close to maintain warmth. Not that Faith minded. And at least it wasn't snowing, yet, anyway.

Faith could see the Food Lion sign ahead and quickened her pace, pulling Legs with her, her stomach growling. Looking over at her, Legs cocked an eyebrow, but adjusted her steps to keep up.

"So, Faith, I take it you're not much for the romance then," she remarked, raising her voice slightly over the sudden rush of wind whistling past, and Faith burrowed closer to her side, lowering her face as her hair whipped in a tangle around her head.

"Of course not," she replied, loosening her grip on Legs's arm a little as the wind died down. "It's all bullshit. Why should I?"

"Sooo cynical for one sooo young," Legs drawled, squeezing Faith's arm, and Faith shook her head, waving her off.

"I'm 14, not stupid…seems pretty damn clear to me if you have eyes to see with. It's not cynical, it's just how it is."

She looked over at Legs with her own eyebrows raised, giving her a quick grin. "What, you trying to say YOU'RE a romantic, Legs? You?"

"What I'm trying to say," Legs started as they approached the entrance to the supermarket, pausing at the automatic doors, "is that you, my dear, are about to get swept off your feet."

She slipped her arm out from Faith's as they stepped inside, shivering violently in reaction to the warmth that the building provided. Slipping her arm around Faith's shoulders and pulling her close again, Legs whispered into her ear, her breath tickling just enough so that Faith wanted to squirm with both pleasure and discomfort.

"Prepare for your seduction."

Faith barely had time to let the words sink in, let alone form a response or analyze just what exactly Legs meant and how serious she might be, before Legs steered her over to the checkout line, walking past it with one finger lightly dragging along it, like a bored, restless child, even as her eyes remained focused straight ahead. Faith was not at all surprised when two-aisle wanderings later, Legs slipped a Reese's packet and two chocolate bars inside Faith's jacket pocket.

"Candy for milady," Legs stage whispered, and took Faith's hand with a glint in her eye and an amused smile curving her lips. "And now…"

She pulled her over to where the flowers and floral arrangements were prominently displayed, taking her time as she smelled several bouquets before, seemingly disinterested, she took Faith's hand again, leading her several aisles over. As they came to the aisle of greeting cards, Legs flipped up a perfectly formed rose bud, minus the stem, from her left hand, slipping this too into Faith's pocket.

"Flower, milady. And now…"

She selected what seemed to Faith to be the first and also most garish she saw, handing it to her with a flourish. It was pink, decorated with hearts, roses, and cupid overkill, and said in flowery script; Faith's lips twitched as she repressed the snort of disbelieving laughter that threatened to emerge.

"It says "To my darling wife," " she pointed out, tapping the fancy letters for emphasis.

Legs shrugged, wrapping a casual arm around the shorter girl's waist and resting her chin on Faith's shoulder briefly as she looked down at the card with her. Faith felt a quick rush of warmth at Legs's proximity and remained still, neither returning the partial embrace nor pulling away.

"Well, same sentiment, babe. Better than husband anyway, right? Come on…my darling wife," Legs smirked, pulling away from Faith and spanking her backside quickly and teasingly before taking her hand and starting to pull her forward again, now towards the store's exit. "Time for the romance to really kick it into gear. You got your flower, your candy, your card, so now it's time for the moonlit stroll. Gonna make a believer out of you yet."

Her fingers gripping Legs's, following just a step behind, Faith scoffed outwardly…but inside she was uncertain, confused as to what was happening, what exactly Legs was doing…was she just being Legs, just having fun with her? Was she just proving a point, not meaning anything by this "romantic expedition" that most would call anything but?

Or did she mean it? Was this Legs's way of actually being romantic…was she trying to tell Faith something, trying to gauge her reaction so she would know herself what to do?

Don't think about it, Faith told herself sternly, unconsciously speeding her steps and tightening her grip on Legs's hand. Just go with her. Whatever it is, it is…why make yourself crazy asking what if? Just have fun.

And she was having fun. She always had fun with Legs, whatever was going on…but this, this was different, somehow. As they walked down the sidewalk, hand in hand, once more moving shoulder to shoulder to ward off cold, Faith could feel her heart again speeding in its beats. She was enjoying this. At 14 years, Faith had had more sexual experience than most girls her age could even dream of…and yet in spite of it all, or maybe because of it, she would never have believed she could enjoy simply walking hand in hand, face upturned to the sky, with no mention whatsoever of sex.

If this was romance…maybe there was something to it after all.

Legs had changed in demeanor once she left the Food Lion. Where she had once been jokey and playful, smirking and wry, she had now fallen quiet and serious in a way that almost unsettled Faith, enough that she glanced over at her several times to try to feel her out. They walked in almost total silence, Legs's hand gently holding Faith's, once in a while caressing her thumb over the back of Faith's hand in a way that made her skin tingle. Her face was upturned toward the sky, a soft smile on her lips…and she seemed so serene and calm that Faith looked up with her, wondering what she was missing up there.

When Faith started to speak Legs shushed her, squeezing her hand and not removing her eyes from the starry skies. They continued to walk, and gradually Faith felt her muscles relax, a slow calm coming over herself as well. She barely felt the cold anymore as it came to her mind that this moment in time was beautiful.

Almost ten minutes passed before Legs pulled Faith to a stop under a streetlamp, turning to face her and taking up her other hand as well. Her face seemed paler than usual under the fluorescent light, still serious in a way that Faith wasn't accustomed to.

"So ends the romantic expedition…and now that you've had a lovely time…here comes the grand finale," Legs said softly, and Faith's pulse quickened further, her senses kicking into overdrive.

She knew the implication of what Legs was saying…she could read the look in her eyes, the tilt of her head, the softening of her features as she leaned close. She knew that Legs was about to kiss her.

Faith held her breath, her lips parting slightly, allowing freer access as she held Legs's gaze. Her heart was thudding so hard she was sure Legs must hear it…and Legs was still holding her hands…still looking into her eyes…and she was smiling, just a little, leaning in…

Closer, Legs was leaning slowly closer, holding her eyes, still smiling that little smile, her eyes glinting, and Faith waited, almost closing her eyes in anticipation.

And then…Legs kissed her. A long, loud, deliberate kiss, with firm pressure…

On her cheek. Legs had kissed her on the cheek.

"Love ya, Faith, happy Valentine's Day," she said in her normal tone, none too serious tone, throwing an arm around her shoulders as she started to walk again. "So did I convert you into being one of the masses of hopeless romantics?"

Faith's mind spun, struggling to process what had just happened, to accept it…her heart sank slowly and sickeningly, her mouth went dry, and she fought to keep her face as casual as Legs's as she replied.

"Gonna have to try harder than that to throw ME off my game, girlfriend."

"I'll take that as a challenge," Legs laughed as she walked, arm still draped over Faith's shoulders, and as Faith followed her lead, she hoped that Legs wouldn't.

She didn't know if she could take another experiment.