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


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PART NINE: 5th July to 23rd September 2004
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Chapter Ten: Rubbing Salt In My Wounds

As the force of the slam rocked Buffy back on her bare heels, she let out an exaggerated breath. Trust Faith to go the dramatic route. She couldn't simply say: 'Hi, how's it goin'?'

There hadn't been any anger or hate in her shocked expression though, but there may have been a little delight, just around her eyes, the way they'd lit up.

Which probably explained why Faith was now hiding behind the door like Buffy was the bogey man. Heaven forbid she have a happy reaction to seeing her supposed best friend. Oh no, that would be the ultimate sign of weakness.

"Okay, then, I'll just..." She called out, looking around at the small, featureless lobby-like area. "Stand here, I guess."

All she had to do was wait Faith out. Sooner or later either curiosity or the need for dominance would bring her back out for a showdown. Maybe the final showdown.

Great, now she was being dramatic!

She smiled at the uncomfortable guard; might as well be friendly seeing as they were going to be spending the foreseeable future in each other's company.

He didn't smile back, "She does not seem happy to see you. Perhaps you go now."

Worried the guard was about to escort her back to the elevator at gun point, she hurried to convince him this was normal.

"No, no, this is... she's... she just had to...uh, slam the door in my face. It's a custom we have, well, me and Faith anyway. It's a very important part of the... the greeting process. This is the bit where I do the Stand of the Repentant Moron, or possibly the Sit of the Repentant Moron if it gets much later, while she does the Stomp of Justified Anger and the customary Yelling of the Aggrieved on the other side of the door."

"How long it usually last?" The guard inquired, bemused but not dubious.

"Could be hours," Buffy admitted. "The important thing is that I stay until it's done or else it's bad, very bad..., uh, luck in my country. I'll be honest, sometimes it's days before the Door of Forgiveness is opened, or even..." The door swung open again and Buffy turned excitedly to it. "Ooh, minutes! Faith, just give me a..."

"No! I'm not giving you anything. So would you quit your bullshit and get the fuck outta here?" Okay, now Faith looked angry. She'd obviously taken the time behind the door to put her game-face on.

The guard's eyebrows pinged upwards at her tone. "Is this the 'Yelling of the Aggrieved'? Or should I call his Lordship?"

"No, this is it, it's okay," Buffy said quickly, not wanting Troy gloating over her anytime soon.

Just as quickly, she stuck her foot in the way to stop Faith from slamming the door shut again and then howled as the edge of the solid wood smacked with pissed off Slayer force into her bare foot, catching her ankle for good measure along the way.

"All part of it," she promised the wide-eyed guard as she sank to the floor, teeth gritted and tears of pain in her eyes. "This is the... is the... Broken Ankle of... of... 'Fuck, Faith, That Hurt!'"

"You're trying to tell me you broke your fuckin' ankle now?" Faith still had the door open, but only because Buffy was crumpled on the threshold.

"No!"

"Good, hobble on your way then." She made a shooing gesture with her hands.

"You fucking broke it!"

Faith's face went from overcast to thundery and suddenly she was shutting the door regardless of Buffy sitting in the way. Her butt polished the marble floor as she was pushed along.

"Ow, ow, Faith, stop, it really hurts, ow..." Cradling her ankle between her hands, she felt the skin scrape from her shoulder as she used it to push back against the door.

"Did I ask you to do a stupid thing like put your foot in the way when I'm slamming a door? Did I ask you to turn up on my doorstep in the middle of the night?"

"No, but I did anyway." Buffy pouted, trying to breathe through the pain, she felt like she was going to pass out. "Doesn't that count for something?"

"Count for what? Why are...?" Leaning over Buffy, Faith lashed out a hand and cuffed the guard on the side of the head. "I catch you looking at her underwear again...!"

Buffy twisted her head around in time to see the guard snap to attention, his sheepish eyes now fixed on the elevator doors. Obviously Faith had some authority over Troy's staff, or maybe everyone in Italy knew she was a Slayer.

"For Christ's sake, B, what the hell are you coming here dressed like that for?" Her eyes traveled quickly over Buffy's outfit and she shook her head slowly, looking upset.

"I was being a beautiful, dangerous woman." Buffy grunted, more focused on the pain in her foot than her answer.

Faith arched an eyebrow. "Is that what this is about? Because I'm pretty sure we've been over this. I told you straight, I made my choice. So if you think coming here all sluttied up is gonna change anything..."

"I don't."

"...then you're mis... What?"

"I don't think that," Buffy looked up through her tears of pain; she was starting to think Faith's tantrum had shattered every bone below her shin. "And I didn't dress like this in the hopes that you'd be unable to resist, I swear."

"But I can see your panties," Faith pointed out, her eyes dropping down Buffy's body again as if to prove it.

"Actually, you can see Dawn's panties, but that's a long story." Buffy tried to pull the dress down modestly, but that didn't work so well so she started the agonizing process of getting back on her own two feet.

"I know you've made your decision, and even though I think you're crazy to choose him over me, well, it's your matrimonial bed, baby, and you're the one who's going to have to lie in it until the day you die. How many hundreds of years do his type of demon live for anyway?"

Buffy attempted a grin to go with her glib words, but the pain was getting immense and she could barely stop herself from outright bawling at both that and the subject matter she was making light of.

"Now why don't I believe you?" Faith asked and then answered her own question as if she'd just had a brainwave. "I know, it's because you've used this same reverse psychology crap on me before."

"This isn't reverse psychology! The recipient has to have a least one intelligent brain cell in her head for something subtle like reverse psychology to work!" Buffy yelled.

Unable to do anything but sit on the floor, clutching her ankle, while Faith looked down on her with that faint know-it-all sneer was starting to make her mad... madder.

"Well, then, I don't get it, B," Her honest confusion, which made it clear she had no idea just how strongly Buffy felt for her, came out almost pitifully. "Why else would you come all the way here to see me?"

Buffy had to swallow a lump from her throat. "I came because I needed to tell you, in person, that we're still friends, okay? Just because I didn't get my own way doesn't mean I hate you now or anything. I still lo..." her voice broke slightly as she saw Faith's eyes widen and then narrow. "...love you. You're my friend, you're one of the gang and... and there may be hundreds of girls out there now with Slayer power, but we're still the chosen two."

Stupid tears were streaming down her face by the end of her heartfelt speech, but her voice was holding its own in the not-quivering department. Faith was staring at her, not seeming particularly moved by her words or tears.

"Well I appreciate you flying five thousand miles to share, but we can be all that and still be on different continents."

"Yeah, but if I'd called you, you'd have said it was just more words, which it would have been. It had to be action so that you'd know it was real. So this is me being actiony, and what's the one action that screams best friend like no other?"

Faith shrugged, seeming willing to hear her out.

'Last chance. Last chance to hobble out of here without digging a big, nasty hole for myself to live in for the next couple of months. Run, I mean, limp while I can!'

Ignoring the sensible part of her brain, Buffy ploughed ahead. "Well, friends, especially of the best variety and when they're girls, tend to help with... with..."

She couldn't do it, she just wasn't that self-sacrificing. All the gallant intentions in the world couldn't make this sit comfortably within her. Even thinking the W word made her feel like throwing up on Faith's feet.

It was just too hard, and so was standing up. She made it half way, before sinking back down to the floor to stare miserably at her bright purple foot. That couldn't be normal.

Faith squatted down in front of her, tilting her head to catch Buffy's eye. "With?"

Buffy shook her head, using an arm to wipe away the steadily falling tears.

"Come on, don't stop your big gesture there," Faith pushed. "Why are you here, B?"

"I wanted to be the... the friend you want me to be and I hoped that if I was, we could at least still be something to each other." If Faith couldn't see she was being genuine, then there really was nothing to do but go find an ice bucket for her foot. "I guess that's just another thing I got wrong. I'm sorry I disturbed you. I'll go and... and leave."

Painfully turning herself onto her hands and knees, she started a slow crawl to the elevator.

"Send me an invite if you still want me here for the, you know," she sniveled. "I'll come. Or I could just send a gift if you prefer. Do you and Troy need a toaster oven? What am I saying? He probably already owns all the toaster ovens in the world."

Reaching the elevator doors, Buffy looked up. Wow, that button was really high up. She stretched an arm above her head. Really high up.

"Uh. Could you...?"

As she started to ask for help, familiar hands slid under her arms, lifting her easily to her feet. Instinctively, she brought her smashed foot up into the air, allowing access for an arm to slip under her thigh and lift her completely. The next thing she knew, she was being carried awkwardly into the apartment.

Faith kicked the door shut with her heel before carrying Buffy further into a spacious living room. She hadn't spoken and was very deliberately avoiding eye-contact.

Buffy stayed silent too, letting Faith carry her where she wanted without comment. If that turned out to be the nearest open window, well, at least she would have four stories to figure out the best way not to land on her bad ankle.

Faith's expression was tight all over - her mouth was a pressed line, her eyes were angry slits, her nose... wasn't really giving away too much either. The happy, carefree Faith she had watched dancing at the club was totally gone; Buffy couldn't even recognize her as the same girl. As she registered this, the tears, mostly silent wet trails down her cheeks until now, started coming harder.

As soon as she was set down on a leather couch, Buffy slumped back into it with a distressed whimper.

Faith dropped to her knees by Buffy's feet and carefully picked up the damaged one by her shin to take a look. From ankle to toe it was a livid plum color and already twice the size it usually was. The way it was throbbing, it would probably get to four times the size before the healing kicked in. Feet definitely weren't supposed to look like that.

"I don't even know why I'm crying," Buffy lied, covering her face with her hands.

It wasn't that she hoped to stem her tears, because they were leaping from her eyes and running down her cheeks like they were in a race to her chin, but she didn't want Faith seeing how blotchy said tears were probably making her look.

"Well, this is shot completely to fuck, so there's one good reason right there," Faith murmured as she gently lowered the foot back to the floor.

"A few broken bones don't exactly warrant me flooding your apartment. God, you must think I'm such a girl." Buffy choked up a chuckle.

"S'why I like you, remember?"

Buffy peeked between her fingers to see Faith giving her a tense smile. However, before Buffy could come up with a good response, Faith had gently squeezed her good knee and was up, walking away.

Faith walked to a desk and picked up the receiver of an old-fashioned black phone. The number she dialed was short and she spoke almost immediately. Buffy couldn't hear what she was saying over the music playing on a stereo in the corner.

The phone call was over quickly and Faith walked out of the room into another without saying a word. Hopefully she was going for ice, and some morphine would look good right about now too.

Elevating her ankle was a priority, but the expensive glass coffee table in front of the couch looked far too fragile to risk putting her gigantic foot on. She scrubbed her hands across her face, wiping away the wetness on her cheeks, and then through her hair, pushing the sweat-damp strands back.

Taking a few deep breaths, hoping to convince the crying to stay gone, she tried to listen for sounds of Faith in the other room, but the music and the pounding of her own heart was all Buffy could hear. Closing her eyes while she waited, she tried to mentally push her slayer healing towards her ankle.

"Doc'll be here in five." Faith's gruff voice startled Buffy a few minutes later. "Just try not to let your foot explode before then. The leather might clean easy, but blood is a bitch to get out of this white carpet."

"Thanks for the words of comfort."

"Dunno if I want to be comforting you yet. Still not getting why you're here in fact. You being vague and then blubbing didn't exactly tell a story I can trust." Faith sat on the couch opposite Buffy's. Her robe was gone, replaced with little grey shorts and a red tank top, and she was holding a bottle of Jack Daniels and a low ball glass. "But that foot looks wicked nasty and kicking your ass back to Cleveland before it's checked out just seems too cruel, ya know?"

Buffy ignored most of what Faith had just said - she was right about one thing, shouting the odds could wait until after her foot had stopped trying to kill her with its brain - and indicated the bottle as Faith poured herself a generous measure. "Aren't you gonna offer me one?"

"Nope," Faith gave her an evil grin. "Don't want no one-footed chick coming on to me later because she took 'numbing the pain' too far."

"Okay." Buffy sighed, looking up at the pretty ceiling. "So you're gonna make this awkward?"

"What did you expect?"

"This," Buffy admitted. "But with less of the broken ankle part."

Silence followed, apart from the music. Faith was studying her intently and Buffy kept offering quick glances back, not sure what the scrutiny was all about. Was she checking for weapons hidden beneath this dress? There was barely space for a roll of quarters between the silky material and her skin. Was it possible Faith could see up the dress from this angle?

Buffy smirked evilly herself as she realized it was completely possible and turned her head innocently away to stare through an open door. She'd have shifted her legs further apart to be mean if the thought of moving so much as a muscle didn't make her want to scream.

She could see Troy and Faith's bed, the sheets were rumpled, and her smirk turned to a sneer as her brain unwittingly recalled the sex tape she and Xander had accidentally viewed at the warehouse. The bed in that looked very much like the bed through there, even the sheets were the same silky black.

Faith followed her gaze, realized Buffy's less than nice expression was focused on her bed, and gave a sarcastic snort. Folding her arms, she had a self-satisfied smirk on her lips as she tilted her head back slightly, rolling her eyes and shaking her head.

Before Buffy could respond there was a sharp rat-a-tat at the door and Faith went to open it.

Buffy couldn't see who it was, and over the music she couldn't hear more than muttering between Faith and the door knocker. The door closed again and Faith walked back into sight with a middle-aged Greek man.

"B, this is Asklepios; he's gonna fix your foot up so you can get outta here."

Buffy checked him out, interested in what kind of doctor made house calls with ten minutes notice after midnight. He was tall, oh, and he had a beard; and that was about all he had going for him in the distinctive looks category.

"Hi, thanks for coming," she said politely. "It's probably not as bad as it looks."

It looked bad.

Nodding anyway, he put his brown satchel down by the couch and got to his knees before her. It was the same position Faith had been in earlier and Buffy felt self-conscious now in a way she hadn't with Faith's proximity. As she tried to discreetly pull her dress down and keep her thighs pressed together, she noticed Faith smirking over his shoulder, totally aware of what she was thinking.

"Does this hurt?" His voice was soft, his touch not so much.

"Yessss!" Her ass rose from the couch an inch as she tensed all over.

"And this?" He squeezed further down her foot.

"Shiii...!" Buffy grit her teeth.

"And just here?" Now he took hold of her whole foot down by the toes and wiggled it.

"Holy freeeeakin' medical oaths, Batman!" Fresh sweat broke out on Buffy's face as she panted through the renewed burst of extreme pain, her fingers clawed at the leather cushions on either side of her. "Did you tell him to do that?"

Faith laughed, shaking her head.

Standing up, Asklepios informed Faith, "It is broken."

"No kidding, Doc. You got a quick fix in that bag of yours? I don't really want her laid up on my couch for the next few days."

"There is always hospital."

"Nah, she can't stand `em." Faith patted him on the back. "Just do what you can."

He picked up his bag, "May I use your kitchen to prepare?"

"Knock yourself out, you know where it is."

"Prepare?" Buffy asked in a whisper once the doctor was gone from the room. "Prepare what?"

Faith shrugged. "I don't know. He makes his own ointments and shit. Don't worry though, B, the guy's kickass. Got myself run through the middle with a bayonet last month, punctured all my girlie tubes an' shit inside. Shoulda bled out in an hour, but Troy calls this guy in and, viola, I'm back on the streets the next day!"

"It's voila!"

Faith grinned. "I know. Just trying to get your mind off the pain."

"Oh." Buffy shifted her position; her whole leg was killing her now. "Didn't take. I'm glad you're okay though. I've heard bayonet stabbings are one of the nastier breeds of stab."

"Had worse." Faith picked her glass off of the coffee table and swallowed some of the whiskey down. "An' this one didn't even scar."

Buffy looked away, aware of what Faith was referring to.

Faith made a little 'huff' sound and left the room as Doctor Asklepios swept gracefully back in. He didn't bustle like good doctors did; or stride like busy doctors did. He seemed to move along on castors across the marble. Buffy found herself checking his feet as they came into sight to make sure they were firmly on the ground.

They weren't.

Okay then.

The doctor was holding a bunch of stuff on a white plastic tray; Buffy's eyes zeroed in on the scalpel. Faith was nowhere to be seen; and she wasn't exactly in a position to be escaping should this situation turn menacing.

"Just so you know, I'm a Slayer too." It was supposed to be a warning not to try any funny stuff, but it came out sounding boastful.

"Pish, I'm a demi-god. Demi-god trumps Slayer. Especially now there are thousands of you."

"Demon-god?"

"Demi-god." Asklepios pushed the coffee table out of the way so he could kneel comfortably at her feet and set his tray of equipment beside him. He had a newspaper tucked under his arm and he spread it out on the floor in front of him.

"No offense, but you look a little old to be a god." Buffy winced as he lifted her ankle.

"Demi-god; and we can look any age we choose. I find my patients feel more comfortable with the mid-forties. Any younger and they call me Doogie - I do not even know who this Doogie is, but I am told it is offensive. Any older and they worry my eyesight may fail and miss an important tumor, that my hearing will falter and I may not hear that someone's heart has stopped, that my hand may tremble when I lance a boil and cut..."

"I get it!" Another look at the shiny scalpel caused a small gulp. "I don't have any boils."

"Good, I hate boils." Swiftly picking up the scalpel he made a sharp incision down her foot.

"What the hell!" Buffy tried to pull her foot away, but he held firm and sliced her again. "Mother of..." She clenched her eyes tightly shut and was ready to kick him away with her good foot.

"B, no!" Faith had come rushing back in at her first shout and jumped over the back of the couch just in time to catch her thigh before Buffy could launch the maniac doctor across the luxuriant apartment. "Here, hold this."

She was holding up her free hand. Buffy grabbed it just as a third smaller slit was made in the back of her ankle. She saw the other slayer wince a little as she squeezed hard, but the satisfaction she felt was cold compared to the heat of her agony.

"What's he..." Buffy looked down and saw a lot of blood, thick clotted blood, welling out of the cuts on her foot. "...Doing?"

Several dark spots had already splattered down onto the paper. She hated the sight of her own blood, because if she could see it, it was on the wrong side of her veins.

"Saving your foot." Asklepios explained.

"Really? 'Cause it feels more like you're trying to cut it off!"

"I have to relieve the pressure building up in your muscles. You will notice the pain has lessened greatly once the sting of the scalpel diminishes."

"Just take slow, even breaths; like this." Faith demonstrated how to breathe. Buffy gave her an incredulous look. "Well, I don't know, do I? I'm just tryin' to help."

"I'm getting my foot hacked, not having a baby. How's breathing gonna help?"

"Helps better than not breathing."

Asklepios was massaging her foot now, and being none to gentle about it.

Buffy was doing her best not to scream; she was already coming across like a major wuss. "Can I bite on your hand?"

"Yeah, if you don't mind a punch in the face. Bite your own hand."

"That'll just cause me more pain." Buffy grunted.

"Where as you wanted to share it around, right?"

"Payback's a bitch."

"Ya got that right." Faith grinned. "Hey, you got any kind of pain relief in that bag of yours?"

"In good time." Asklepios replied.

"How much blood am I losing?"

Faith had a look down at her foot, and the paper beneath, but her expression gave nothing away.

"Just the right amount, I guess."

One of Faith's hands was still holding the underside of Buffy's good leg, just above her knee. She felt a slight, reassuring squeeze there.

"Just focus on me." Faith made strong eye contact. "It'll be over in a minute... probably."

Buffy felt the back of her leg being stroked and really hoped it was Faith doing it and not the demon doctor demi-god. But no, because she could still feel him trying to get every last drop of life out of her foot.

"I think I'm gonna pass out."

"So pass out. I ain't gonna make fun of ya... well, not right now anyway."

Buffy didn't pass out, nor did she hurl. Both outstanding achievements in her book.

Looking into Faith's eyes, holding her hand as tight as slayerly possible and breathing in time with the smooth stroke of a warm palm up and down the back of her thigh, she concentrated fully on her and it helped Buffy push the pain away some.

Faith gave her foot a quick glance. "He's applying some smelly pink stuff now. You'd love the color."

Buffy wasn't loving the burning sensation though or the gritty texture as he rubbed it into the wide gashes on her foot. She did her best not to squirm, but it wasn't easy, not even with Faith's oddly comforting presence.

"You... you got stabbed in the belly last month?" she asked to take her mind from the torture.

"Yeah. Askle fixed me up good though, got everything back in perfect working order. Least far as I know."

"Far as you know? You didn't get it checked out by professionals?" Buffy grimaced as the physician tugged on her bruised big toe. "Sorry. I meant human professionals, like to get a scan or something, just to make sure?"

That there wasn't a skewered baby in there that the suspicious doctor had missed. Buffy wrinkled her nose at the thought, it wasn't a nice one. Although, if her devil son, the scourge of the universe, was in there, maybe this was one of those blessings in disguise her mom always used to talk about.

No, it still wasn't a nice thought. It was her kid after all, horns and all.

"Troy said I should. He was worried about internal bleeding or some shit." Faith gave an embarrassed shrug. "But I'm fine, what's the point in bothering now."

"Troy's right." Buffy blinked a couple of times. "Wow, never thought I'd say that ever. But he is all the same. You should go, for peace of mind. Just to make sure everything's connected where it should be."

"Yeah, maybe."

"You never know, you might want kids one day," Buffy added, cutting her eyes away from Faith.

The stroking stopped. Buffy cut her eyes back again to see Faith's narrowed at her.

"I said, 'one day'." Buffy smirked, just a little.

It was still way too early in their painfully touching, or should that be touchingly painful reunion to get into what their cwazy wabbit's real Easter gift had been.

"I'm thinking that smirk means you're feeling better?"

"Uh, no..." Buffy started sarcastically, but then. "... actually, kinda."

Her foot burned like she'd dipped it in boiling oil and it still ached good and hard, but it sure as hell wasn't the same kind of agonizing pain she'd been in as little as five minutes ago.

"What did you do?" Buffy sat forward to see Asklepios still massaging the gritty pink stuff into her foot and ankle. "Hey, it is a pretty color and, oh wow, yeah, not exactly freshly scented, and... you could have warned me I could see right inside my foot! No one should have to look right inside their own foot."

Feeling sick all over again, she slumped back into the couch cushions. "Thanks though."

"Don't mention it," Faith said.

"I was thanking Asklaypeesauce, not you." Buffy was up to prodding her in the shoulder. "You're the one who slammed my foot in the door in the first place."

Faith pinched the back of her thigh and pulled her hand away so she could stand up.

"Yeah, well, talking of things that just make a crap matter worse, don't think you're off the hook for showing up here all outta the blue with no warning, just cause you nearly died from an exploding foot."

"Out of the blue means with no warning," Buffy said, grinning slightly.

"Whatever."

"You are welcome," Asklepios finally said when he could get a word in. "Now I will dress your wounds and strap your ankle and in six weeks you will be as good as new."

"Slayer here."

"Ah, yes, I forgot. In that case." He looked back down at her foot while he made an assessment. "Five days perhaps, for the skin to fully grow back, but you will be able to walk with aid by tomorrow afternoon, I expect. If you rest it well now. That means no walking tonight."

"I have to stay here tonight?"

"Her foots gonna look all gross like that for five days?"

Buffy turned her head to Faith's disgust. "Is that all you can think about?" And then she thought about it. "Actually, she has a point. There's such a thing as modesty, you know. I don't want my foot ligaments on show for anyone who cares to look."

Asklepios gave an unhelpful shrug as he looked through his satchel for bandages. He reminded Buffy of Giles. If Giles was Greek, and bearded. Finding what he was looking for, he carefully dressed the three large cuts on her foot and ankle with antiseptic pads.

Now that the pain had calmed enough to let her think normally again, the discomfort at his nearness to her short dress came back. She tugged the hem down with as much luck as she'd had all the previous times. Her other hand she lay flat on the diamond of bare skin showing halfway up the clingy bodice.

Why had she let Andrew talk her into wearing this? It was great for getting into exclusive clubs without paying, but it seemed to have done her no favors since leaving the club behind.

"Here." Faith picked a soft blue blanket up from the floor and dropped it on her lap. "Was bringing this in when ya started acting like a pussy."

"Hey, even Lions act like pussies when they get their paw slammed in a door." Buffy arranged the blanket so that it covered down to her knees.

"Lions are pussies, idiot."

"Bet you wouldn't look one in the eye and say that."

"Well, aside from the fact that if I came face to face with a lion I'd be running not talking, yeah, I would. Not like it's gonna understand me."

"Good point... Lehane." Buffy held her breath after dropping the deal-breaking surname.

Faith didn't say anything at first, but she reacted all the same. Buffy watched as she tried to decide whether to smile or frown - it was an all out battle on her face for as long as it took Asklepios to tightly bandage her foot and ankle.

Faith spoke eventually. "You know, that offer... the offer, it was..." she looked down at where Asklepios was fixing the end of the bandage with tape, obviously trying to choose her words carefully in front of him. "It was a one time only deal."

"I know." Buffy shrugged like it wasn't important. "That's not why I found it out."

"Then why did you?"

"Seemed like the sort of thing I should know about someone I care about." Buffy risked a tiny grin. "And I figured better late than never."

Faith nodded, not giving much away. "So what do you think?"

"I, uh, think it's a nice name. I like it, it suits you."

"I was talking to Askle."

"Oh." Buffy ducked her head, embarrassed.

Faith took no notice as she waited for the doctor to gather his things and then walked him to the door.

"So she really can't walk tonight?"

"It would be advisable if she didn't move at all tonight. Many bones are broken, the foot itself was crushed. As you know, I normally ask no questions, but I find myself very curious. What happened? Did a Vampire drive a truck over her foot?"

"No, she just stuck it where it wasn't welcome."

"I see. The dressing will need changing once a day until the foot is healed to avoid infection and keep the bandage on until she has full movement back in her ankle at least."

"Will do." Faith nodded. "And thanks for coming so quick."

"If there are any complications, call me; otherwise I will next see you at your nuptials." He smiled benevolently.

"Word's getting around, huh?" Faith gave him a strained smile.

"Troy is telling the family before it goes public. I imagine you have already told yours. They must be very excited for you, yes?"

"Uh..."

Buffy watched Faith hesitate over her answer; it was painful. The woman probably didn't even think she had a family to be excited for her right now. She'd cut everyone off when she'd cut her off, and as far as Buffy knew she didn't have any other family she was actually in contact with.

"Of course we are," Buffy found herself saying cheerfully. "Not every day one of us gets married. In fact not any day seeing as the last wedding in the family turned out to be a non-wedding. But we're all very excited about this one. L'il Faith all growed up and walking down the aisle with Prince Charming..."

'Watch it,' she warned herself. 'Sarcasm wasn't the goal here.'

"Kidding," she saved. "Seriously though, we're just happy she's happy."

Buffy made sure she was looking Faith in the eye as she said that, really wanting Faith to believe her, even if she barely believed herself. Faith looked back, kept eye contact, but there was a peculiar expression on her face.

She looked angry; angry enough for fists to fly and tears to fall. Faith looked... destructive.


Chapter Eleven

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Part Nine Quick-Jump:

Chapter One || Chapter Two || Chapter Three || Chapter Four || Chapter Five || Chapter Six || Chapter Seven Chapter Eight || Chapter Nine || Chapter Ten || Chapter Eleven || Chapter Twelve || Chapter Thirteen || Chapter Fourteen || Chapter Fifteen || Chapter Sixteen || Chapter Seventeen || Chapter Eighteen || Chapter Nineteen || Chapter Twenty || Chapter Twenty One || Chapter Twenty Two || Chapter Twenty Three || Chapter Twenty Four || Chapter Twenty Five || Chapter Twenty Six || Chapter Twenty Seven || Chapter Twenty Eight || Chapter Twenty Nine || Chapter Thirty || Chapter Thirty One


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