PART FIVE: 17th March 2004
Chapter Two: Tender Loving Crap
"Sir, Faith is hurt!"
Buffy heard one of the little Slayers call out, signaling that the Watcher was back in the training room. She looked up sharply from her position beside Faith to suss out which girl had ratted her out. That girl was getting extra laps in the morning!
"What on earth?!" Giles' footsteps came nearer. "I can't leave you lot alone for a second, and you two are supposed to be the adults!" He scolded.
"She's fine," Buffy assured him.
"Yeah, no thanks to you," Faith griped, holding an ice pack to her face and pinching the bridge of her nose to discourage further bleeding. The front of her sports bra was already covered in the red stuff.
"You provoked me!" Guilty as charged, Buffy may have been, but she wasn't taking a telling off from Giles when it was both their faults, really.
Faith gingerly let go of her nose and felt around her cheek a little. "I thought you didn't care what I said."
"I don't," Buffy answered quickly.
"Then why go kung-fu on my face?"
Faith gave her a look. "You slipped because I provoked you?"
"And you were provoked by what I said about the stai..."
Buffy glared at Faith, who let the sentence peter out with a smirk.
Why couldn't she just drop it? Of course she knew that Buffy was having difficulty dealing - why else would things be so awkward between them again? But having Faith point it out to her over and over again wasn't helping anything, and now she was doing it in front of other people too.
"Faith, are you quite sure you're okay? Maybe we should take a trip to casualty just to be certain."
"S'cool G, I'm fine. B just got a lucky kick in, that's all. A couple of Advil will sort me out."
"Okay, well maybe you should go through to the house. Buffy, would you assist her please, and try not to make matters worse on the way. I'll finish up out here with the girls."
Buffy rolled her eyes; how could she make matters worse? Drive a car over the other Slayer; drop a piano on her head?
"Come on." She helped Faith to her feet.
"I can manage on my own thanks." Faith pulled away and Buffy let her, she didn't want to get blood on her clothes if she could help it.
Faith swayed dramatically and Buffy only just caught her before she keeled over sideways.
"I said I can manage." Faith shook her head slightly, trying to clear it.
"Yeah well, we're destined to never be straight with each other so I'm not gonna start believing you now." Buffy kept her arm around her and walked them steadily out of the training barn.
"Wouldn't be near as much fun if we were straight with each other." Faith slurred.
They reached the house and Buffy pushed open the back door and helped Faith inside to a chair.
"You sound a little out of it Faith. Sit up straight, I don't want you going all unconscious on me." Buffy raised her palm ready to tap her lightly on the cheek if she didn't do as she was told.
Before Buffy's hand could come any where near her, Faith caught Buffy's wrist. "Touch my face and I will rip off your arms and shove them up your ass!"
Buffy chuckled and went to get the painkillers.
"My mouth's swelling; it'll go down in a minute and I'll sound normal again."
"I really am sorry. I just..." Buffy brought the Advil and a glass of water to the table.
"Forgot you didn't care?"
Buffy didn't rise to the jibe; she wasn't gonna go over it again. Look what happened when they did! "Can we just drop it, please?"
Faith shrugged as she swallowed the pills with a mouthful of water. "So, are you coming tonight?"
"You still want me to?" Buffy really thought Faith would have been more pissed off at her than she was, or maybe she was secretly planning her revenge and that was why she still wanted Buffy at Matrix that night.
Well, her plan would be foiled.
"Sorry but no. I'm seeing Toni." Buffy felt herself go a little pink and she smiled shyly.
"So bring her with you, s'no big."
Buffy couldn't tell if Faith was bothered by the idea or not. "Thanks, but we've already made other plans."
"So change 'em, they can't be . . . oh wait..." Faith paused and gave her a good long look, her dimples slowly showing as her smile grew. "This would be your third date, wouldn't it? You got third date stuff to do!" She wiggled her eyebrows before frowning in pain.
Buffy ran a hand through her hair and looked away. "I've got no idea what you're talking about Faith; we're just going out for a meal, nothing special."
She got up from her chair and went to the fridge. She could do casual; she had to do casual because she certainly couldn't look Faith in the eye right now. Grabbing a can of soda, she remained looking in the fridge to avoid continuing the conversation.
Faith, as it turned out, didn't mind talking to her butt. Or maybe she was concussed and didn't even realise. Buffy grimaced; that wasn't a comforting thought.
"You know exactly what I'm talking about. So come on, give me the details: Where are you gonna do it?"
Buffy closed the fridge door. "We're not going to be doing anything and I don't want to talk about it."
Faith grinned. "You mean you don't want to talk to me about it?"
Yep, that about summed it up.
"Can you make it upstairs? We should get you a clean shirt."
Faith was able to walk up the stairs without Buffy's aid, but she still hovered just behind to make sure she didn't topple back down them. Buffy followed her into her bedroom and watched as Faith immediately sank down on to her bed, wincing ever so slightly as her head came to rest on the pillow.
"Don't go to sleep, okay?" Buffy looked through Faith's wardrobe and mentally picked out all the clothes she was going to borrow when Faith wasn't looking before choosing a loose tank top and taking it to the bed.
"You didn't kick me that hard, Buff."
"Yeah I did. Come on, sit up . . . that blood's still tacky, you'll get it all over the bed."
Faith rolled her eyes but sat up anyway. She reached for the top Buffy was holding, but before Buffy could hand it over she said "Ow!" and pulled her arm back in, rubbing the shoulder with her other hand.
"Does it hurt?" Buffy asked automatically.
"Yeah B, can't imagine why though, seeing as my face took most of the fall."
Buffy put the tank top on the bed next to Faith. "Get changed and I'll go grab a wash cloth for your face."
Once outside the bedroom door, Buffy stopped to take a deep breath. This was the most one on one time she'd spent with Faith over the past month and it was starting to get to her. She couldn't just leave Faith to sort herself out though, what if she drifted off to sleep and didn't wake up for six months? Giles would almost certainly consider that as making matters worse!
Rushing to get a cloth from the bathroom and run it under warm water, she carried it back to Faith's bedroom.
Faith was still sat on her bed in her blood covered sports bra. She was gently working her jaw in small circles.
"You're not changed." Buffy stated the obvious.
Faith chuckled. "Tried, but I needed both hands."
"What's wrong with your hands?" Buffy was getting dubious now. Faith hadn't landed on her hands; if she had there wouldn't be the blood.
"Hands are fine; it's what they're attached to that's the problem." Faith rubbed one of her shoulders again to emphasise.
"Did it pop out?" Faith had always had one weak shoulder. It was something that had happened before she got called, but she'd never told Buffy exactly what happened.
Faith shook her head. "Nah, just sore. It'll be okay in a minute. You don't have to wait around." She smirked. "I'm sure you'd rather be off painting your toenails or something."
Buffy mock scowled at her. She thought she was so funny.
"The third date rule is just a myth Faith, get over it."
"Well if that means you're staying, you can help me out of this top. It's starting to go crusty." Faith wrinkled her nose at it.
Help her... That was... 'Do not think appealing, do not think appealing.' Faith was watching her with a tiny smile, probably thinking she knew exactly what was going through Buffy's mind.
Adopting an expression of extreme boredom, Buffy moved closer to the brunette. "Okay, can you lift your arms?"
Faith looked surprised-bordering-on-uncomfortable for a second, but she covered it well with a leer and slowly raised her arms, wincing a little as they got higher.
Buffy stood there looking at her. Her problem was that Faith wasn't so much wearing a top as she was a tight-fitting Adidas sports bra, and Buffy didn't know if there was another bra underneath. But she knew if it was her then there wouldn't be another one underneath.
She'd been psyching herself up for several seconds when Faith whined: "This kinda hurts ya know."
"Sorry." Not giving herself any longer to think, she leaned over and hooked her fingertips under the elastic hem and pulled it upwards. It came free of her ample breasts and slid further up before it got stuck. Buffy tugged it a little harder to get it free.
"Ow! Fuck a duck..! Buffy! Open yours eyes, damn it!"
Buffy did so in alarm, realizing that the bra had gotten caught around Faith's chin and must have pushing painfully on the dark bruises covering the side of her face.
"Oh God, I'm sorry." She quickly and carefully pulled the bra over her head and up Faith's quivering arms before dropping it beside the bed. "Sorry, sorry, sorry." She chanted.
"You're a liability today, you know that?" Faith batted her soothing hands away. "The sooner you release some of that UST the better, as far as I'm concerned."
"What does that mean?" Buffy looked at her confused. "Ukrainian Standard Time?" Faith was so weird sometimes.
Faith laughed. "You know, unresolved sexual ten..."
Buffy started coughing, her eyes darting everywhere but at the Faith's chest. "I don't think that's a..."
"Jeez B, I didn't mean right now. Get away from my tits before you drool on 'em."
"What? I'm not drooling!" Buffy's eyes had settled on a fixed point above Faith's head, lest she go insane, but she switched to glaring daggers at her now.
Faith was grinning, loving her loss of composure.
"I really don't think I've hurt you enough today, F."
Faith laughed. "S'okay Buffy, there's still plenty of the day left." Delicately she picked up the tank top beside her and eased it over her arms and head. The Advil must have started working.
"Yeah well, if we've quite finished here, and believe me we have, I'll be going off to do something that's...not here." Buffy walked away.
She had to go do something that got the image of Faith's up-close breasts out of her head before her date that night, or else she was never going to find out the truth behind the myth.
As she walked down the stairs she heard Faith call after her: "Don't forget to shave your legs!" Before busting up laughing.
Buffy went red as she all but ran down the rest of the stairs.
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