Damned If I Don't, Damned If I Do
Part Three of The Damned Series


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PART EIGHT: 4th July 2004
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Chapter Seven: Nothing Worse Than Losing on a Technicality

Faith's shout seemed to echo across the lake and back to Buffy as she sat there, frozen. A terrible chill rushed across her body and the wetness between her legs was the coldest place of all.

"What?" she whispered, hoping with every particle in her body that she'd heard wrong or this was just some sick joke.

"I'm getting married." Faith whispered back, her voice hoarse. "Soon. I wanted... I needed you to hear it from me, not... it's why I called."

"What..?"

"Buffy, I..."

"...The fuck is wrong with you!" Buffy shot to her feet, not noticing the way the boat rocked and swayed beneath her. "Are you crazy?"

"No, I just... he asked and saying yes felt kinda right."

"You don't get married because it feels kinda right!" Buffy exploded. "You get married because you can't live without someone being by your side for the rest of your life!"

"Well, then that too. Look, I know what I'm doing, okay? I'm not just caught up in the idea of a fairytale wedding, you know that ain't me, girlfriend. This is really what I..."

"Don't call me that."

"What?"

"Anything. Don't call me anything."

"Okay, Bu..., okay."

"Faith, listen to me very carefully," Buffy spoke slowly into the phone. "Troy isn't who you think he is, or more to the point, what you think he is. Now I know this is hard to hear and you probably think I'm lying, but you just have to trust me..."

Faith started laughing harshly. "And there you go asking me to do the impossible, already."

Buffy's eyes closed against the pain of that, but she had to keep going - way too much was at stake now to let her own anguish get in the way.

"Faith, I'm sorry, but Troy is only with you because he wants... he wants our baby, I don't know why, but..."

"Oh would you stop it with the baby crap already!" Faith yelled down the phone. "We Are Not Having A Baby - there is no fucking baby. We couldn't have one even if we wanted to. How come I'm the one who dropped out of high school and yet you're the one who doesn't get simple biology?"

"I know it's not normal," Buffy shouted back. "That's why they call them miracle babies!"

"And there ya go getting me confused with Angel again. He's the one who has the miracle babies, you want one - go fuck with him."

"I don't want one! You think this is my ideal situation either, Faith? It's too late to worry about what we want. We had sex, we didn't use a mystical condom, Eostre spurted my baby into you and now your having my child whether either of us likes it or not."

There was a minute of ragged breathing on the line before Faith asked roughly, "So you don't even want the imaginary kid anyway?"

Buffy, caught off guard, stuttered for a second. "I-I never said that."

"That's exactly what you said."

"Well, like I also said, the choice is out of our hands now and..." Buffy's voice softened as she desperately tried to say the right thing. "And, okay, we're starting a family a little sooner than I imagined - or maybe a lot sooner - but I'm not going to not be there."

"Well lucky for you I ain't pregnant." Faith told her. "Guess that lets you off the hook, right?"

"Bullshit." Buffy snapped. "Why else would you be marrying Troy?"

"Because I love him."

Buffy sat back down hard on one of the boards, not able to say anything.

"Yeah, I know," Faith said softly. "Shocked the hell out of me too. Guess it crept up on me or something."

"You love me." Buffy whispered.

"I do," Faith said matter-of-factly. "But we don't work; not as a couple, never have."

"We've never tried!"

"Yeah, we have, we've been trying for six months."

"What about last month, when we talked, what you said?" Buffy asked softly, hugging her free arm round her. The sun was only a yard above the water now and a stiff lake breeze was blowing over the boat.

"I told you, I don't remember much about it." Faith sounded embarrassed.

"You said you were waiting for me to show you... show you how much I love you."

"And how long were you expecting me to wait?" Faith asked with a tight little chuckle. "I've been waiting five years already and you haven't done it yet. And I apparently said this to you a month ago and the first time I hear about it is when I call you... again?"

Buffy lowered her eyes to her knees. "I didn't know what to do."

"Well zero points for effort."

The anger ripped through Buffy.

"So you're getting married to that obnoxious..." she made a growling sound, "...whatever the hell he is, because I didn't find a way in thirty days to show your selfish, stubborn, stupid ass something you already fucking know anyway."

"No, I'm getting married to him because he's gorgeous and sweet and wild and he gets me, and guess what? He accepts me too, just the way I am. I've never had to prove myself to him and..."

"And he's playing you like a tambourine... easily!" Buffy shot back. "Troy's only all those things because that's what he wants you to think. He's not human, Faith, he's really old and he has these powers that..." Faith started laughing. "I'm serious."

"I know you are." Faith said, confusingly. "I'm living with him, we're getting married in three months - do you really think I don't know who he is? I'm not blind, Buffy, or stupid. Do you think I gave up my secret identity without expecting something in return?" she chuckled. "I knew he was more than he seemed the first night I hooked up with him, probably wouldn't still be with him now if he wasn't... and I think you know a little about that yourself."

Faith had known all along, all the while Buffy had been trying to figure him out, and she was still with him, engaged to him now in fact. Her head was going to explode.

"So you know all about his secret power? The one that makes people like him? The one that's making you think you want to marry him?"

"Oh yeah, that secret power..." Faith agreed sarcastically. "The power of niceness, can't kill superman but it'll charm the little red panties off him. He's got powers, B, a ton of them, but I think someone's been yanking your chain if you think his people-person skills is one of them."

"Faith this is exactly what I mean." Buffy pleaded. "You are blinded by him and you're too blind to see it. Please, just trust me before you do anything even more stupid..."

"Stop." When Buffy tried to keep talking, Faith said it again. "Stop. Stop it! No one's making me doing anything B," Faith said gently. "And I'm sorry this is hurting you, really, but... I made my choice."

"No, no you're not listening..."

"Buffy you're the one not listening!" Gentle gave way to exasperated. "And I didn't call to argue about what I do with my life."

"Faith you can't do this. You can't marry him; if you do it'll be the biggest mistake of your life."

"Says you."

"Yes says me. Me! The person you're supposed to spending the rest of your life with, the person you've been in love with since you were sixteen, the person who would do..."

Faith cut her off: "The person who tells me they're falling in love with me and then starts seeing some random chick the very next day? The person who tells me they love me to my face but then slams me behind my back to their friends? The person who was more interested in getting herself off tonight with some cheap-assed second-hand fantasy than asking me what my important news might be?"

Buffy scrunched her eyes closed, but the tears left cold trails over her cheeks anyway as the sun finally sunk beneath the orange and indigo of the lake.

"Fine, I'm a bitch, I'm sorry I tried to turn you on before I asked about your day... but for God's sake Faith, I love you, I love you so much, and I'm here and I'm saying it and I know you love me too and I know we can make it work if we just try, but we can't if you go and marry someone else."

"It won't ever work." Faith said quietly. "I can't remember the reason why I ever thought it would anymore and you obviously don't have the time or the energy to change that."

"I will." Buffy promised. "I'll make it work. Faith, please don't do this; you mean everything to me."

"What's my last name?"

The sudden question surprised Buffy, curbing her sniffling. "What?"

"My surname? Tell me my last name right now and I'll be back in Ohio by sunrise."

Buffy's eyes opened wide and she smacked her free palm hard into the side of her head. What the hell? Surely she knew this. How could she not know this?

"Um..." she said to buy time.

"Buffy, come on." Faith pleaded softly.

"I..." Oh God, what the hell is wrong with me? "You never told me." She whispered, hating herself.

There was a beat of silence and then: "You never told me either, Summers, but I guess when someone's important to you, you tend to pick up the little things."

"Faith, I am so sorry..."

"Save it sweetheart, I'm sick of hearing it." Faith sounded more resigned than angry or upset. "Look, B, you're my best friend, you're pretty much my only friend and... and I want you at my wedding."

"I don't..." Buffy couldn't seem to stop shaking her head.

"Shush. I want you there, but I understand if you can't be, okay? No pressure. 'Cept I'd really like it if you were. I don't have a mom or any sisters and, well, it's up to you, but... yeah, so just think it over."

Buffy had her mouth full biting one of her kneecaps as hard as she could, so couldn't answer.

"Okay, well... stay safe, babe." Faith waited a long time for the reply that wasn't coming before ending the call.


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