Title: That There Is Not Me
Author: Beer Good
Fandom: Buffy, s7, circa "Touched"
Word Count: ~1200
Author's Note: Written for femslash_minis and aaronlisa's prompt "Faith/Willow, Redemption equals sex" with the contents: Set in Sunnydale, leather, and ice cream.
Summary: Two reforming murderers go shopping for supplies to selflessly save the world. Keeping the masquerade up works fine until Willow stumbles across an outfit from her past.
I thought I was someone else
- Lou Reed
That There Is Not Me
There's something about an abandoned shopping mall. Memories everywhere. Mochas that will never more be drunk, shirts that will never more be worn, benches that will never more be sat on, emergency exits where nobody will ever again blow up eldritch things with bazookas.
Willow was pretty sure Faith would make fun of her for paying, the mall had pretty much been looted already. But a supply run is a supply run and paying is what good people do. That much she was still sure of. So she scraped together the cash she had and put it down on the drug store counter before gathering up the bandages and painkillers she'd been able to find. She saved one aspirin for herself; Faith had chain-smoked in tense silence the entire drive here, relaxing from being a rolemodel for a few hours. Going shopping with Faith, there was something she hadn't expected a week ago. But Giles had insisted on not sending out anyone without superpowers, even in broad daylight, so it was just the two of them alone in the mall. Hopefully, since the only superpowers she felt confident about using these days was screaming and running away.
She walked past empty shops; toys, Starbucks, men's clothes, better men's clothes, Starbucks (how long ago was it they only had one? Should they have investigated possible demonic origins there?), and...
...Oh. She stopped dead in front of one of the display windows.
Willow had spent most of her life in Sunnydale so she didn't have a lot to compare with, but she was pretty sure most smaller cities didn't have a 24-hour leathergoods store. Certainly not this cheap, at least - economies of scale, according to Anya; in a town full of vampires and general badassness, there seemed to be a lot of demand for leather pants. After that thing with Oz she hadn't ever shopped here again and it had become one of those shops you walk past without thinking. And not noticing what's in the shop window.
She wondered how long this particular outfit had been sitting somewhere in the back before it got rotated to the front again; maybe it was an apocalypse sale or something. Obviously, in this timeline, she'd never bought it (and somehow she doubted that there'd been a cash transaction in the other one, and felt a bit extra bad about that.) Which was all good. She was good. Supposedly. Hadn't felt any temptation to dress in black and spill the blood of the innocents for weeks now.
So no big. Just wait here for Faith to get back from her round - she was probably off somewhere enjoying not having to be responsible, probably looting something... except nothing too bad because Faith was good now. Have to keep that in mind. People can change. Yeppers.
Willow looked at her watch, then looked back at the outfit in the shop window. And really, the thought that kept popping up in her head wasn't temptation so much as just plain curiosity.
I wonder if it still fits.
Which is why when Faith got to the store, pushing two shopping carts full of tools for making weapons, clothes, food, tampons, and topped with three large coolers from Ben & Jerry's (who'd been kind enough to leave the generator for the freezer running when they skipped town), she looked through the shop window and saw Willow standing in front of a full-length mirror, dressed in a tight leather catsuit with red frills around her cleavage. She watched in silence from outside as Willow stood there looking at her mirror image, hand on her hip, cocky smile slowly stalking her lips, looking... well, not much like the proper holier-than-Buffy girl who knew exactly what was right and wrong, especially how she was one of them and Faith the other. She wasn't sure exactly what was going on with her lately, probably one of those things nobody trusted her enough to let her in on. Probably for good reason.
So not that the view sucked, but they had places to be. After a minute or two, Faith put on her usual dare-me-to-drive face and went inside. "Careful, Red. You're gonna melt the ice cream. Is that what you're wearing for the big battle? Cause, damn. But if not, we better get back."
Of course, this is where Willow - the real Willow, the one not dressed head-to-toe in tight black leather - would have been uncomfortable and mortally embarrassed, blushed and babbled, and there'd be a thick glass wall between them again. She certainly wouldn't pout and answer "Aww, that's no fun."
"I didn't know we were supposed to be having fun."
"'Course you weren't. Because you want to be good. And good means being boring." Willow swaggered (since when did Willow swagger?) over towards her, snuck an arm around her waist and purred into her neck. "Come on, admit it. You've kept yourself locked up for three years. Don't you want to be at least a little bit bad?"
As badness went, Faith guessed being a couple of minutes late wasn't the worst. And it had been a long incarceration. "Just didn't expect this from you, is all. You're serious?"
"Well, yeah." Willow's mask slipped briefly. "Besides, this thing is really tight and one way or another, it's probably gonna take Slayer strength to get it off."
"That was... nice," Willow said afterwards as they lay naked on the floor eating melting Rocky Road with their fingers. It had been; not great, not like with... But nice. Kinda efficient.
"Yeah." Faith was quiet for a while. "Not that it's any of my business or anything, just... I thought you and little Miss Trust Fund were doing the wriggly?"
Willow looked awkward. "I... I like Kennedy. Really. But we're not, we haven't... I-I mean it's not that I don't..." She stuffed a fingertipful of ice cream in her mouth to buy a few seconds of thinking. "I haven't done this in a long time, and I wasn't sure I could, y'know?"
Faith raised an eyebrow. "For what it's worth, I vote you can. Twice."
Willow smiled weakly. "It's just... Kennedy talks big, but she has no idea what I am. What I can do. I thought maybe you - "
"You needed a test pilot, see if you could handle the G force. I get it." Faith ignored all the questions and scooped up some more ice cream with studied indifference. "I'm not complaining; world's gonna end, might as well get it while you can. Better me than someone you might hurt."
"Exactly! Impending death situation, that's..." Willow quickly dialed down the enthusiasm, then reached out and tenderly stroked Faith's hair. "...probably unfair to someone. I'm just saying, maybe this makes me an awful person, but... you're the one person I figured I could trust here, 'kay?"
At which point Faith choked on her ice cream and Willow had to stop talking and thump her on the back a couple of times. It's what good people do.
Eventually, they got back in character; somber earth tones for Willow, hard-working denim for Faith. And the Sunnydale mall bid its last customers farewell.