DISCLAIMER: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all the slayerettes belong to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy.
CHALLENGE: Written for the Dead of Winter ficathon.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

The Things She's Used to... And Not
By TheAgonyOfBlank


Faith is used to many things. She's used to getting beat up by people, and she's used to getting beat up by demons and vamps as well. She's used to beating them up back – she's actually quite good at that; her first Watcher said so herself. She's used to being betrayed and left, and she's used to solving that problem by not making friends. She's also, however, used to waking up in strange places, and getting up at odd hours of the morning. And she's definitely used to leaving without a sound.

What she's not used to is remembering every single detail of the night before, or most of it anyway; it'd been an... interesting night. That's what makes this – whatever this is – different. It's what almost makes it special, but Faith doesn't like calling anything special. Except for herself, because she is. She's a special girl, given powers to rid the world of demons and vampires and yadda-yadda-yadda – she usually tunes out after that, as everything sounds the same after a while, and she was never very good at paying attention to things like that anyway.



That's what she's good at.

She's well on her way to being good at the "Think" part that she was missing in that equation, though, even though sometimes she's scared to think and everyone thought she couldn't do it. She thinks that maybe she was able to do it because of the people who didn't believe in her; she wanted to prove them wrong. Give them something to talk about for a little while, because she's good at what she does and can be good at more. This is what she believes.

She lies on the bed for a long while, just thinking, and it's a soft snore that breaks her train of thought. She turns over, blinks as she comes face-to-face with a sleeping blonde. She bites her lip, thinks some more, and surprisingly a name forms in her head. Kate Lockley. She knows she's met her before, and she's been thinking all night, that's why her name comes to her easily. She doesn't waste any time in putting her shoes on, though she's considerate enough to do so quietly. Without a backwards glance she heads for the door, but just as her hand rests on the silver knob, a sleepy voice stops her in her tracks.

"Where are you going?"

Kate knows that she's making a mistake when she enters the bar. It's been a long time since she's been in one, and even longer since she's had a drop of alcohol. She convinces herself that it's just one night – just this one night, and then she'd be done with bars. She won't go to another one after this, and she won't become an alcoholic. It's a secret, but it's her fear. She doesn't have a drinking problem, not yet and she hopes not ever, but she constantly flashes back to the night Angel had to save her from herself. But still, getting drunk seems like a reasonable idea. And it's just what she needs right now.

She sits and orders – well, she tells the bartender she'll have anything and everything. He looks at her dubiously, but goes ahead with the order anyway; maybe he's chosen to give her the house special or something. She doesn't know, and she doesn't care. When he puts it in front of her she downs it quickly and asks for another one – another one of anything, and he gives her a beer, and then another, and then another, and then she loses count. She stares at the refilled glass for a moment, far from drunk though she wants to be, though she's kind of tipsy, and is about to chug the whole thing down when a voice stops her.

"I wouldn't do that if I were you, Blondie."

She thinks it might be her better mind talking to her, except she's never called herself 'Blondie.' She turns, slowly enough to make anyone think she actually is drunk, though she's sure she's not, and focuses on the face in front of her. The other woman has dark hair and dark red lips – too dark, too red for Kate. Kate considers her statement for a minute, and chugs the beer down anyway.

The woman next to her shrugs, "Your loss."

Kate frowns, doesn't say anything. She's distracted by the redness of this other woman's lips, and well – she's just wondering about the colour, because she thinks she doesn't like it very much, and why does this woman look so familiar? She's worked as a cop, she's seen many faces. So many that they all blend together and don't stick out, but somehow this one does. She can't really think, because her thoughts are fuzzy, but she believes she doesn't know this woman well. She just knows her. There's a difference.

Kate asks for another beer, but this woman cuts her off.

"You're drunk."

Kate doesn't like the woman's tone, slurs, "I'm mmno… not drr- druuuuuunk." Drags the last word out, her head resting on the counter.

She doesn't remember this woman helping her out of the bar, and she doesn't remember giving the cab driver directions to her place. She certainly doesn't remember the woman putting her to bed first, then lying down on top of the sheets, next to her.

Faith remembers, though.

Faith thinks Kate's a bit fucked up in the head. She knows Kate has problems, she does from last night's drinking episode, but really, if she were Kate, she would be asking who she was and what she was doing in her room – not where she was going. But she realizes that maybe Kate's just like her. Maybe Kate sleeps around so much that when she wakes up in the mornings, she just assumes that she's slept with whoever's lying next to her.

Somehow this makes Faith sad for Kate.

"Just gonna go grab a bite," Faith finally answers.

Kate seems to think. A beat. Then, sleepily, "Okay."

Faith lets out a breath she doesn't realize she's been holding. She finds she's disappointed that Kate isn't trying to stop her, though she doesn't know why the ex-cop would in the first place. And although she thinks it's kinda sad that Kate doesn't remember anything that happened – or that didn't happen, as things were – she knows that right now Kate is sober enough to have seen through her.

But it doesn't stop her from leaving anyway.

Six months later they meet again.

Kate isn't drunk this time, though Faith isn't sure at first.

They bumped into each other at a show – Faith got tickets through a demon friend of hers who liked plays and thought it would be therapeutic or something like that if Faith went to see one, and because she's never been to one before, she goes. Kate goes because it's something for her to do, something that keeps her away from drinking. That one time six months ago was bad enough, and she doesn't need that again.

There's an awkward silence when they first meet, because Kate's not sure what to say to Faith, and Faith is not sure if Kate knows that nothing happened. But they definitely recognize each other, and they're seated next to each other, so there's no running away. They could've both ignored each other, and that would've been five-by-five with Faith.

But Kate has to speak first.

"What happened?"

Faith stares, then gets it. "Nothing. Nothing happened."

Kate doesn't look like she believes her.

But before Faith can even begin to formulate a defense, Kate is pressing her lips onto Faith's, and this is what makes Faith wonder if Kate is drunk. But Kate tastes like mint and Coca Cola, and Faith can't find any trace of alcohol in the kiss, and she guesses that Kate's maybe just really into her.

When Kate pulls back, Faith thinks she looks different.

Not the cheesy kind of different, but just… different.

"Okay," Kate says.

And Faith realizes what has changed: Kate believes her.

Six weeks pass.

Faith rolls off the bed softly. Is sliding into her jeans and throwing on her sweatshirt as discreetly as she can. She doesn't go for blondes. Not usually. Yet here she is, glancing over at the blonde sleeping in the bed.

She turns to the door, pauses on the knob when a voice is thrown her way.

"Where are you going?"

She doesn't hesitate. "Gonna go grab a bite." Or something.

And without another word from either of them, she leaves.

This is why she sometimes hates thinking; because when she thinks, she scares herself. And what scares her most this time is that she thinks she will come back.

And she is definitely, definitely not used to that.

The End

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