DISCLAIMER: Not mine, never were, not ever going to be.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
By The Last Good Name Left
In a library, fall
Willow closed her chemistry book and slipped her homework into it's correctly colored folder. She resisted the urge to pull it out and check for mistakes one last time; the first four times she hadn't found any. The book and the folder went into the backpack, in order of her classes the following day: after English but before calculus. She stared balefully at her history homework, mostly finished but not quite done, and decided to take a few minutes off. It wasn't due until the following week; she could afford a little bit of time to relax and not think about early 20th-century European politics. She frowned; it wasn't fair that they had to do American History in 11th grade, because Angel would have come in handy this year, but he wasn't around any more. She really should have taken the opportunity to quiz him when she had the chance. Books just didn't give the right level of detail as first-person accounts. Of course, she could never discuss this with Buffy, both because of the killing her boyfriend thing, but also because Buffy just didn't care about history. Willow sighed and zipped her backpack.
Besides, Giles was counting on her to help fill Ms. Calendar's shoes in the fight against evil. So it was off to the computer and onto the research databases. She felt remarkably accomplished whenever she hacked another one: the previous day, she had finally gained access to the Australian National Libraries' convict databases, which Giles thought might be useful in tracking vampires living overseas. Willow thought that it was a long shot, because wasn't it very sunny in Australia? On the other hand, California was sunny, too. But Giles had asked nicely, and Willow wanted to find out if she could, so she had tried, and she had succeeded. Today's project was even more interesting: hacking the California Penal System.
She had only just opened the necessary apps when she heard someone push open the Library doors. Giles was in a meeting, and everyone else had class, so the only person it could be was....
Willow winced, and squeezed her eyes shut. "Don't" she began. "Nevermind." She wasn't going to react. She was going to concentrate on her work, and Faith would just have to leave. She wasn't going to give Faith the satisfaction of making Willow jump, again.
Faith didn't seem to notice that Willow was ignoring her. She pulled out a chair, dragging it across the floor loudly. Willow pursed her lips to stop from telling Faith to be quiet. It might be the Hellmouth, but it was still a Library.
Faith squirmed a bit on her chair, making even more noise, and Willow was so distracted she had to keep deleting and retyping. She scowled at the screen and wished she could turn around and tell Faith to sit still.
"What little project are you working on today?" asked Faith in that casual, uncaring voice that made all the boys including Giles! sit up and listen. She didn't care, Willow always wanted to shout, but of course she never did. Faith was a Slayer, so she was special. Willow was just good at doing her homework.
"Something entirely too advanced for you to understand," said Willow tightly to the screen. She nodded a little, pleased that her voice hadn't wavered. Of course, she couldn't turn around and say that to Faith's face, but at least she said it.
"Insecure much?" Faith drawled. She got up, and the chair clattered under her. "That's okay, I'll go bug Giles."
"He's not here," Willow said without thinking. Then she mentally shook her head. Now Faith was going to want to stay, and Willow had work to do; why was Faith at school, anyway? It was the middle of the day, when normal people were at work and students were at school. Faith didn't fit either of those two categories.
"Oh," said Faith. Willow could see her in the reflection on the screen; Faith was cracking her knuckles and it made Willow's shoulders tense.
"Go away," Willow said suddenly. "This is a school, you know, for students?"
Faith stared at the back of Willow's head. Even if she could see it and she was still watching Faith in the screen's reflection, although Faith didn't know that she would have felt it; Faith's stare was hot, and Willow clenched her jaw so she wouldn't shiver.
"And I'm not" Faith began.
"No," Willow interrupted. "You're not."
The doors crashed as Faith left, and Willow jumped. She waited until they had stopped swinging before she let herself smile. It took a long time; Faith had shoved them so hard one had cracked.
Near a dorm room, winter
Faith smiled goodbye to the cute jock who had escorted her from downtown to campus, and waved a little. She wasn't sure where Buffy's dorm was, but the jock had implied it was in this direction; Faith wondered how many boys Buffy had going: this was not the one she had seen the night before at Giles' place. Of course, this guy had shied away when Faith had leaned in to give him a goodbye kiss, so maybe Buffy was being boring as usual.
Faith glanced around, considering and disregarding the two buildings that looked like classrooms too many students flowing in and out to be dorms, at this time of day and the Library. Buffy was not known for her study skills. So that left the gym, and whatever buildings she could just see behind the gym.
She rolled her hips, luxuriating in feeling clean, even if the body was completely different than she was used to, and started toward the far buildings.
She had made it about 50 feet, and exchanged flirtatious glances with four guys and two chicks, when she saw something that made her come to a sudden halt.
Willow was crossing the lawn, a huge backpack on her shoulders and a very attractive short haircut. Faith smiled: Willow's high school look was a little frumpy, but this new Willow was almost hot. She crossed the lawn, intending to intersect with Willow; Faith was almost on top of her by the time Willow noticed Faith approaching.
"Hey R Willow," Faith said, grinning. "How's things?"
"Buffy!" Willow said, and her face lit up. Faith blinked in surprise: Buffy was playing both sides? Or was Willow just crushing on her best friend? Willow continued, oblivious.
"Have you found her yet? Because I have an idea about how to put her in a magical coma until we can figure out what to do with her...." Willow paused in her deluge long enough to open her backpack and pull out three books, two of which she handed to Faith.
Faith took them automatically and stared at the covers: one was in Latin, and the other wasn't even in any human language she recognized. She was aware that Willow was standing extremely close and continuing to talk, but Faith couldn't focus on the words.
"So? Have you found the lying, cheating, skanky bitch yet?" Willow asked brightly, reaching up to brush Buffy's hair back from Faith's cheek.
Faith shoved the books at Willow. "I should go do that. Find that skanky 'ho, right?"
"Yeah," said Willow, grinning. "And then beat her up."
Faith nodded, once. "And then I get to come home and fuck your brains out, right?"
Willow's face immediately paled and her lips trembled. Faith smirked, satisfied.
On the road, spring
Willow was determined not to say anything on the drive back; she had gone to LA for Buffy's sake, and was not pleased that Wesley had done something so stupid either of the really stupid things he had done. On the other hand, maybe she could make Faith tell Buffy what was going on, and then Buffy would kill the messenger, and not the messenger's driver.
For a while, it seemed like Faith agreed with Willow's no talking resolution. As they passed the halfway mark, though, Faith opened her mouth. Her voice sounded rough, like she wasn't used to talking, and Willow almost missed the actual words.
"I never said thank you."
Faith cleared her throat and fiddled with a crushed pack of cigarettes rather than answer immediately. Willow was about to open her mouth to tell Faith she absolutely could not smoke in the car when Faith spoke.
"For the letter about B," she said, then amended, "about Buffy."
Willow frowned. She had forgotten that Faith called people by those stupid nicknames. This was a bad idea; she should just drop Faith off by the side of the road. Besides, Faith wasn't making any sense. "What letter?"
Faith squirmed in her seat, then stretched in a way that was probably supposed to be seductive but just looked uncomfortable. "Tara sent a letter, about Buffy. She didn't?" Faith half asked.
Willow frowned, not knowing what it was that Tara didn't do. "No, she didn't tell me." Willow gripped the steering wheel so tightly her knuckles turned white, trying not to see Tara's body with the hole in it, or Tara's surprised face. "She sent you a letter," she said harshly. It wasn't a question.
"Yeah," Faith said, so quiet Willow almost didn't hear her.
They were silent for a long time after that. Willow passed time by counting the expansions joints in the road as the wheels passed over them; it made no sense to have expansion joints in this part of California, but it was probably some sort of political kickback. When that didn't distract her enough, she starting thinking about prime numbers.
"I knew," Faith said, "but it was nice to have someone write, tell me what really happened."
Willow almost turned to stare at Faith, and only just in time remembered that she was supposed to be watching the road. "You knew?"
"I we're connected. It's" Faith stopped, her face tight.
"A Slayer thing," Willow snapped.
"Well, yeah, but it's magical," Faith said. Willow thought she almost sounded appeasing, but that didn't make any sense. "You know about that kind of stuff."
Willow tensed, but it wasn't an attack; it was a concession. "I I'm not much with the magic anymore," she said instead.
"You just" Faith started, then twisted in the seat and faced Willow, her face intent. "That was major power, back there. Even I know that."
Willow glanced over, just once, but it was enough. Faith's stare was just as powerful as it had been, just as penetrating; just as hot.
"It wasn't" Willow said.
"Yeah, Willow," interrupted Faith. "It was."
"Last year..." Willow couldn't finish the sentence. Silence filled the car again; but this time, Willow didn't think they were thinking about the same thing.
"I heard," said Faith finally.
"Who?" Willow tried to ask, but the words didn't actually come out. Faith understood anyway.
"Wesley said," she said. "You didn't know he knew?"
Willow shook her head. Faith waited while Willow thought about that: Wesley knew, and still called her to help Angel. Well, he called after he had fucked things up, but Wesley was Wesley: he wasn't known for his planning skills.
"I guess it must have been pretty obvious," Willow said eventually.
"That much power?" Faith snorted. "I sure noticed."
This time Willow forgot about the road and stared at Faith. "You did?"
"Yeah," Faith said, and then gestured at the road. Willow jerked her head back.
"And if I ever get any smart ideas around you?" Faith asked. "Remind me."
Willow smiled. "I can kick your ass now."
"Yeah, you can," Faith said with a smile in her voice. "Good thing we're on the same side."
"This time," said Willow.
At a bar, summer
Faith was slumped over in a ludicrously trendy bar in Baltimore, nursing several lingering aches and a JD and coke, when something prickled her awareness. She was not in the mood to deal with the supernatural; she just wanted to get drunk and find someone to fuck and maybe sleep for 24 hours. She had turned completely around before realizing that the person setting off her senses was standing right next to her.
Willow turned and cocked her head at Faith. "Faith."
Faith leaned back, studying Willow. She looked good: new haircut, tight jeans, nice sweater. Of course, Willow was just as off-limits as Buffy, but that didn't mean Faith couldn't find another redhead to satisfy her ache.
"I heard about you and the br Kennedy," Faith said. "Sorry."
"Were you going to call her a brat?" Willow asked, stifling a snort. "Because that's about right."
Faith nodded briefly, then asked, as comfortingly as she could manage while still ogling Willow's ass, "Bad break-up?"
Willow shrugged. "Better than the previous one."
Faith nodded for a moment before realizing which breakup Willow was talking about. She frowned and studied Willow's face. Willow was busy watching the baby dykes jostling at the far end of the bar, so Faith took her time in examining her. Willow didn't look unhappy, and she didn't look evil, but you could never tell. The Boss had never actually looked evil, except when he was offering people cookies.
"Let me buy you a drink," Faith said.
"It was six months ago, Faith," Willow said, amused. "I'm pretty much over it."
Faith arched an eyebrow, and Willow shrugged. Faith was a little disappointed that Willow hadn't blushed yet, but she still had time before Willow freaked out and left. She spread her legs and arched her back, presenting her admittedly very nice rack for Willow's approval.
"Sex on the Beach?" Faith drawled, pitching her voice low.
It didn't work. Willow merely glanced at Faith's chest and smiled. "Screaming Orgasm, please."
Faith quirked her lips, letting Willow know that she had briefly bested Faith, and this time Willow blushed. Faith suppressed her grin; the best part about the Sunnydale people was that they were so easy.
"One Screaming Orgasm coming right up," Faith said, her eyes focused firmly on Willow's breasts.
Willow chuckled and turned away, but not before straightening her posture the merest bit. Faith grinned at Willow's obvious move.
Faith flagged the attention of the bartender, who looked relieved to have gotten away from the baby dykes, and ordered their drinks. They watched the bartender build their drinks in silence: a Screaming Orgasm for Willow, another of the same for Faith.
"You know, Faith," Willow mused.
Faith turned her attention back to Willow, and tried the eyebrow trick again.
Willow ignored her again. "Rumor has it you know how to make a pretty mean screaming orgasm yourself."
Faith blinked in surprise, and then gave a slow smile. "Are you flirting with me, Willow?"
"No," said Willow shortly.
Faith kept her face absolutely still, refusing to give Willow the pleasure of knowing that her barb had hurt. How fucking long was she going to have to pay for a bunch of stupid kid mistakes, she fumed. She opened her mouth to say something cutting something about how Willow hadn't changed since high school but Willow spoke again.
"I'm propositioning you."
Faith paused, chagrined. The look on Willow's face indicated that she hadn't missed Faith's little crisis, and Faith rolled her eyes. Willow's happy grin shone in the dark bar, her lips curling up and dimples creasing her checks.
It was the sexiest thing Faith had ever seen.
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