Way I see it, if this is all some big joke on me and I get sent back in the hole, it's not like I haven't sung that song before. Survived two years, I can survive more. It's what I do -- I get thrown shit and I deal. 'Course, now I'm working on the more sane ways of dealing but it's the same fucking routine. Reacting's what I do best. Sure I hunt, but for the most part? I just roll with the punches. A vampire attacks and I react by staking it. A scooby throws some harsh words my way and I react by throwing a few of my own barbs their way. Maybe a punch or two if my brain's not functioning on its witty comeback channel. I get busted out of the pokey and I react by rollin' with it and just hoping against it all that this is gonna work out better than the rest of my life has up until this point.
So far, so good.
Me and C are just strollin' now, bags in hand and walking out the automatic doors like we own the place. Well, I'm walking like I own the place, Cor's kind of dragging ass at this point. Girlfriend keeps rubbing at her temples and acting like she's got a hangover from Hell. I almost joke that she needs a pair of shades to block out the brighter than bright fluorescent lights in this place, but I figure she's doing a good thing for me so I oughta be on my best behavior for now.
"So what now?" I ask like an impatient kid to their Ma while we look for her car in the nightmare that is a mall parking lot. I don't get how people find their way around these things. If you ask me, it's like one big fucking maze and every end's a dead one.
"Well... I wanted to go grocery shopping but..." C trails off, a troubled look on her face as she glances back at the mall. "I don't think that would be the best idea when we've got a demon on our tails."
Okay, that got my attention.
"Demon?" I perk up, changing from impatient to anxious in an instant. What can I say? I dig a good slay. I'm already cracking my knuckles at just the thought of a good one-two punch. "I knew something was up with you in the mall, you were totally trippin' out over something major. What gives?"
She's about to open her mouth when something comes barreling out from behind one of the parked cars. The sun's still peeking over the horizon, so I know from the get-go that we got a demon and not some dude with that little skin condition on our hands. This is gonna be good... first fight after a long lock up and you can bet your ass I'm pumped up and ready to throw some serious static.
"Hey buddy, looking for me?" I quip as it looks around confused that I'm not exactly shaking in Cor's borrowed sneaks. "Or are you just looking for some new threads to cover up the scales so you can look good for your girl?"
Hey, you never know, demons fuck too. Why else would he be hanging outside a mall? Looks like this one's not big on the banter because as soon as I start egging him on, he goes into snarl mode and lunges at me. I just roll my eyes and duck his sloppy punch, my right leg shooting out to swipe his feet from under him. Demon goes down and I'm on him, giving him zip time to recover. I'm speedy like that.
"So you're not a big talker, I get it," I say and I'm punching him now. Right. In. The. Mouth.
He seems to not be down with it 'cause next thing I know he flips me so I'm on my back instead. Bastard. C's gonna kill him for messing up the nice outfit she let me borrow. That little manicure stunt she pulled on me is gonna be a bust too. He growls and his drool drips down onto my face... fuckin' nasty if you ask me so I spit up into his face. You get what you give, you know? I'm slobbered by more demon spit and then he goes for the choke hold. That's old school so I grab his wrist instead and bend it backwards. It cracks and he howls. He shoots up into the air only to get smashed in the face by C while I use my sleeve to wipe off the drool.
"Way to go, C!" I exclaim and I'm wearing my shocked face at how easily she just nailed him like that. When did she start fighting the good fight with actual fists? Here I thought she was just Angel's bitchy secretary that occasionally saw the future and gave the guy the heads up. Demon's now nursing a what would be black eye if his skin wasn't already wicked dark and a broken wrist. Five minutes into the fight and it's slayer and the seer: 2, demon zilch.
The former cheerleader just grins at me and blows on her fingers as if they're steamin' hot. "And to think I didn't even break a nail."
Just for the Hell of it, I check out my own nails. I'm obviously not gonna flip over a little breakage, but surprisingly I'm still good for gold. Damn, I was really hoping for an excuse to peel this pink shit off, too. My only prize now is that hot shower waiting for me at the homestead. That drool is rank and I can't wait to slay this fucker and give my face a decent scrub down. I turn my body in a half circle this time, right leg shooting out again to crack into the side of his skull. He goes staggering back into a car. Of course the fucking car alarm starts to go off and C's face turns pasty white at the thought of us gettin' busted for damaging some rich bastard's Mercedes Benz. It's just a little dent on the side, no big. Wonder if insurance covers demon attacks? I grab the offender in question and head butt him, been a while since I've done that I wanna make sure I still got a hard head.
I do. No pain on this front but demon dude's reeling again. He crashes into another car, this one an old junker with chipped paint and a busted bumper, and collapses on the hood. He's lacking fun and with the alarm still blaring, I know that playtime's over. I march on over and easily snap this fool's neck. Even a bare-handed slayer is more than a match for this sorry excuse for a demon. Hell, C could've probably bagged herself a kill if she had a weapon with her. Not sure she'd be so eager to kill with her bare hands, but I'm gettin' some wicked nice visuals of her with a broadsword.
Cor's right there behind me once the demon's down and I spin around to face her. I'm breathing hard and still in fight mode. Since we better motor or own up to car damages, the fight's quickly turning into flee. I'm ready to bust a cap out of this joint. "Let's move!"
"Wait!" she says, her eyes fixed on demon boy. She reaches down and yanks something off his neck. Funny, I didn't notice a pendant before. "This could be important."
I just shrug and give her free hand a good yank in the opposite direction. "Great, you get a new accessory out of the deal, now can we get out of here before we get arrested for vandal? I could take down the pigs, no problem, but it's not really part of the good girl gig to take down a bunch of guys just trying to do their jobs."
"Faith with a conscience," she muses. "Now that's even scarier than that demon."
Laugh it up, princess. Faith with a conscience is just trying to save her own ass. Chalk it up to a good deed if that's your thing, but me? I'm just trying to make a quick getaway where it counts. This is a time it counts. My palms are getting sweaty and I'm starting to wonder if that drool didn't have some kind of juice in it to get me wiggy. I suddenly feel this chill in my lungs. Could be fear though... I really don't want to deal with cops. Been so long since I've been afraid that I forgot the feeling.
I roll my eyes and tug her away with me. She ain't complaining so I quicken my pace to a run and we're hightailing it to our car that we somehow manage to find. I swear the girl's got some kinda sixth sense for it. I ran right past it and she had to shout for me to stop and hitch it back a few paces. Anyway, to make a long story short, we got out of there with no problem. Once we're out on the freeway, I take better stock of the weird feelings I still got jumpin' around inside me. Man, it's like I got Mexican jumping beans embedded under my skin or something. My hands and throat got it the worst, but the whole of me just feels... off.
Thing is, I got these tingling sensations when that bitch painted me up all pretty too. I was just too busy being horrified at the pink polish to make a big out of the wicked weird sensations I was getting. Fuck, I really need to start trusting my instincts better. I just figured it was the weird crap they kept putting on my hands that was doing it. Now I'm not so sure.
"Hey C," I speak up, not liking how shaky my voice sounds.
She looks up, eyes laced with something bordering along concerned. I can see her mentally checking me out for bumps and bruises I might've gotten from our little tumble. "What is it, Faith?"
I swallow hard. Admitting weakness has never been a strong point of mine. I usually try to wing it and cover the best I can. Something about this whole sitch just tells me that if I want this thing to work out between the two of us, then I gotta be dollar honest and leave my baggage at the door, 'cause this chick ain't dealing with my subtle pleas for a little helping hand when I need it. I gotta be straight up with her or I might as well just march right back to my cell. Keeping things locked inside is what got me into trouble in the first place. If I go back on old habits, then I'm just a lost cause that Angel wasted his time fighting for.
"I don't feel so hot," I admit after a long break of silence between us. "I think our demon friend's bite isn't in his punches, it's in something else."
She purses her lips, hands gripping the wheel hard as she cops a glance in my direction. I've got my forehead resting against the windshield and my eyes half shut. My chest feels tight and I still got tingling fingers. Figures I catch some kind of demon flu my first day back on the job. First I take a bullet, now this. Slaying's always been a dangerous job, but I don't usually get so banged up when I'm out on the prowl. I just want to curl up in bed and have C put her maternal instincts to good use on me. You know, rub my back, tell me a story and fuck! This juice is really something else, huh?
But more than that, I think I could let her in. I know it sounds whack, but she's been nothing but good to me while I've been - for the most part - a brat about the whole thing. I bitched about my living arrangements, made a big fuss about her live in Casper wanting an "I'm sorry", locked her out when I got a little emotional, dissed on her coffee making skills, and then threw a fit when she put a little pink polish on my fingernails.
I don't deserve a girl like this... but I think I kind of want her.
"You don't look so hot either," she replies to my confession, I thought maybe she was gonna go on her usual rant about my look being so 1998, but the statement is simple, caring, and full of a thousand promises of how nice life would be with her. "We're almost there. I'll call Angel and Wes; they'll be so excited to research this pendant. We'll figure out what this demon's issue is."
"That chick in the store, the one who did my nails? She had the same kind of vibes that other demon had. I think she's got something to do with this."
Maybe I wasn't so wrong about that demon tryin' to get to his honey. I mean, if a demon can get a job at a prison, why can't one get a job at some cheap mall store? Doesn't make a load of sense for demons to be productive members of the work force when they can easily kill their way up to management positions, but hey, whatever works. I'm not one to judge on your lifestyle choice, I'm just wondering if this wasn't some big set up. According to the princess, I got something big and bad out for my blood.
"I felt something too," Cor says with an exaggerated sigh attached to the tail end of her sentence. "Now when you say you don't feel so hot, do you mean in the I might die in this car way or in the I might puke all over your recently cleaned seats way?"
"Either way, it's an inconvenience to you, right?" I mumble out bitterly. "I mean, you're either trying to pull a stiff out the car door, or you end up with my lunch in your lap. Maybe you should just dump me out on the side of the road; it'll be easier for you. No mess to clean up afterwards."
"I didn't mean it like that."
She tries to reach out and touch me, but I jerk away. I suddenly don't feel so friendly anymore. "Eyes on the road, C. Don't kill us both on the account of me."
Her hand goes back on the wheel and her eyes tell me she's sorry she made it sound like I was just a problem for her. I know it, yet it still smarts something fierce that the cleanliness of her car seats was a bigger deal than whether or not I was about to bite it.
"For the record, it's just the barf all over your seat sick." I figure I can at least put her fears to rest. "It's easing up some now. Must be a passing thing. No big."
"Good," she whispers under her breath, sounding wicked relieved. I don't get why she cares but I'm not hating it either. "I was worried." When I snort, she quickly goes for the guilt trip. "No really, I was. Despite what you might think, I don't actually want to see you dead."
"Why? Because you would lose face if you took the endangered slayer in your care and screwed up? Or is it because Angel'd be really pissed that you put a cap on his little project?"
I'm being a bitch, I know this. I just want to get the truth out of her. I want to hear her say that she gives a damn about me. I might have some fucked up ways of getting there, but hey, this *is* me we're talking about here. I rarely do things the normal way... or the right way. Even visits to the shrink twice a week couldn't change that habit of mine.
"Ugh! You are so infuriating sometimes! Does the fact that I'm trying to help you mean anything to you? I didn't ask for this but I'm doing this and I almost started to like it for a little while there, but then I say one wrong thing and suddenly you go into poor me mode and jump at the opportunity to make me seem like some uncaring bitch! Newsflash Faith! That's so not me anymore. Some of us have changed for the better."
"I know," I smirk. "I just wanted to hear it straight from your mouth." I get serious now; I wasn't bullshitting when I said I didn't want bad blood between us. "It does mean something to me... it means a lot that you'd go out of your way to help a sister out. I'm just not used to this kind of treatment, you know? Last person that treated me like a person and not just the expendable slayer ended up a giant snake. I'm still getting used to the whole thing where a person could be genuine with me without asking me to kill a bunch of people in return. This ain't easy for me either, C."
She looks at me like she doesn't know if she wants to smack me or kiss me. Okay, maybe not kiss... but you know, a girl can dream. Point is, she's half relieved, half pissed and not sure how to react to my little declaration of honesty, minus the bite I usually spoon out to harden up a kind word.
"Whatever," she shakes her head. We're at her place now and she puts her energy into parking.
I don't mind the quiet. It's been a full speed ride since my prison bust and I've barely had time to breathe and just take it all in. My head's still reeling, but I don't get the same kinda time I had in prison to sort things out when they got complicated. I got stuck in a slow as molasses pace and now it's like I've been given a pair of roller skates and told I gotta keep up with the cars on the race tracks because I'm a slayer, I got those cool super powers, and I should be able to shop and slay demons and make nice with old
We get out of the car; I make it out alright despite feeling like the kid with asthma that lived two floors down. I can tough it out, no problem. I don't make a fuss at C about it so she doesn't do a double take and try to make me lean on her or nothing. She knows I wouldn't take the offer anyway. She heads straight to the phone and I head straight to the bathroom. I got a feeling that if I just wipe this junk off, I'll be five by five.
We meet back in her living room with me squeaky clean and feeling worlds better. Didn't get that shower in, but a washcloth and a change of clothes worked wonders. Demon effects are something of the past and I'm feeling good again. Like I said, passing thing. Gets you real good for a while but doesn't have enough hold to keep you in bed overnight. I plop down on the floor, indian style and flash C a cheeky grin.
"So what's the plan for tonight? Big time research party I can fake sick to get out of?"
I might be feeling good now, but I could easily get lightheaded if it means I can skip out on getting heavy books thrown at me. There's reason slayers have watchers -- they do the homework and we do the dirty work.
"Angel's still brooding over..." she trails off. Angel's still smarting from the burn of losing his girl. Somebody should tell him to get the fuck over it already. Cryin' about it isn't gonna make C go back to him quicker. He's got too many issues for a mortal girl to deal with. Boy's got good looks and all, but he lacks much personality beyond brooding and can't get it on to boot, so where's the fun in a relationship with him? "He's going to pick up the pendant and bring it back to the Hyperion for Wesley to look at."
The plot thickens. Wes ain't down with hanging with his former torturess. Not that I blame him, I'm none too keen on partying with a guy who chained me up and tried to feed me to power hungry Watchers. We got a bad history that's gonna take a while to get over. At least with C there's minimal damage. We were never really best buds... but we didn't have that arch nemesis thing going on either. If anything, I did the least amount of shit to her.
"I actually have something to give you," she says out of the blue. There's a box on the table... wrapped simply but with care. She pats the place on the couch next to her and like the ever faithful puppy, I jump up and plop down. I can't resist a present. She could have dynamite in there for all I know and I'd still be more than eager to rip that baby open. She hands it to me and I just stare at it for a moment. "I guess you could say it's a peace offering. So go on, open it."
I get the paper off the thing and find a wooden box underneath, smooth and light brown, I wanna say oak but I'm not a tree expert, so I'll move on. I pop the top and gasp when I find out what's inside. A dagger. The May Queen got me, former psychotic rogue slayer, a fucking dagger that looks like it cost a pretty penny. I can't even touch it at first, I'm shell-shocked. Two reasons why. First of all, Cordelia Chase? Not really the giving type. I mean, girl had the cash in high school but did you see her pitching in for my rent or donating to charity? Hell no! I'd be surprised if anybody got anything from her. I kinda get the idea that she was more on the receiving line of things.
Other thing that gets me is, I don't get presents. Only time I got anything is when I was a hired assassin. That job treated me good. Did B ever give me squat? Fuck no! I got her a gift, it was crappy, but it's the thought that counts, right? What do you expect a poor runaway kid from Boston to have anyway? Not much. That cost me my meal for the day just so I wouldn't look lame coming over to her place empty handed. Bitch didn't even appreciate it. I never got to hash that sitch out with my shrink, so I still got a lot of pent up frustration on the whole Buffy issue.
"This is... whoa," I manage to choke out. "Wow, C... this is... you didn't have to do this you know."
I've gone stupid. The beauty of this dagger has rendered me incapable of forming complete thoughts. Translation? This is a thing of beauty but damn, where'd you get the cash for this and better yet, why?! She laughs a little at me actually being speechless for once. I know, the big talker reduced to incoherent fragmental rambling. Better take a picture 'cause this moment ain't gonna last long. Best to catch it while you can.
"So you like it?" she asks as if I can actually tell her just how much I do.
I look up, my eyes meeting her. She's got this hopeful look on her face that makes me want to grab her face and kiss her all over because she's actually stupid enough to think I don't have a serious hard on for anything pointy and metal. It's fucking beautiful, though. I can appreciate nice work when I see it. Aside from being sharp, it's got a historical look to it. This blade's old and it's powerful. I can feel it humming off the metal and seeping through my fingertips. I've finally managed to touch it, just a light caress across the blade and down to the hilt.
"This is a wicked blade, C," I say softly, still boring my gaze into hers. I don't know what's a prettier sight right now, her smile or the way that blade looks under the light of the moon. I feel high as fucking kite right now. "Why did you -"
"Shhh," she whispers to me, finger raising to touch her lips. "It was nothing. Just a little something I picked up for you. I knew you'd need it for slaying."
I shake my head back and forth in denial. "No, you're wrong. It's something... it's a big something, Cor. God, I don't even know how to begin to say thank you."
There it is, that smile again, along with a chuckle that rumbles through her chest loud enough that I can almost feel the vibrations in me. "You can thank me by not stabbing me with it."
I burst out laughing at that, all the tension from before slipping out. I'm relaxed and happy, for the first time in a... I was gonna say long time, but I don't think I've ever been truly happy or relaxed. Maybe it's the demon juice, but I start feeling lightheaded again. I reach out and touch her face, finding it the only thing I care to see at this moment. I shouldn't be doing this, it's such a me thing to do. Get a happy, kiss the girl. Fuck her if she's willing. Leave her in the morning. Want, take, have. It's the Faith way. I don't want to hurt her. I know I will, though. I always do.
I can feel her breath on my face now, soft puffs perfumed by something intoxicating that I can't pinpoint but like immediately. It all starts to go in slow motion, me brushing away a lock of hair, her smiling. She's shy and uncertain and it makes me feel like a fucking god. The better part of me is telling me to stop now, stop while you still have one friend in this entire world and I shouldn't fuck it up with sex, but the moment has me and I can't back out. We're inching closer together, I can smell her lip gloss. There's a hint of cherry there and my lips part open as I close the distance. My eyelids flutter shut and I'm about to make contact when I hear a loud thud.
"What the fuck!" I jump up from the couch, dagger in my right hand and ready to slay whatever dared to disturb me when I was making my move. Man, don't these demons know to attack after the sex?
Cor looks from me to the door and back to me and then the door and covers her mouth. Soul Boy himself stands in the doorway, the book he was holding on the ground by his feet. "Oh god, Angel!"
It'd be funny if I wasn't horrified myself. Her reaction was just like one of those Saturday morning cartoons. I lower my dagger; I can't slay Soul Boy. He's like my sponsor dude in murder rehab. I turn away and let out a string of "fuck"s. This wasn't supposed to happen. I get it together enough to face the guy and I blurt out the obvious, "Fuck Angel, can't you knock?"
He stares at his shoes. Heh. I would too if I were him. "I'm sorry... I... I was invited. I never used to have to knock."
Nice defense. I know this is gonna get ugly any second now. Cordy and Angel are gonna pull a Buffy and Angel the sequel on me and I'm gonna play my usual part as the whore that comes between them. Not to mention I don't know if that almost kiss was mutual or not. I think I'll just play it safe in another room.