No Time To Choose
Prequel to the House of the Setting Sun Series


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PART ONE
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Chapter Two: Hungry or...Horny?

Faith let herself in the front door. Glancing into the living room she saw the potentials and Dawn crowded around the blaring television loudly discussing the fight outside the Bronze. She carried on past to the basement door, hoping for a quiet smoke before she had to face any of the others.

She stopped in front of the hall mirror for a second checking the damage. Buffy's punch had left a red smudge on her cheekbone. She touched it gingerly, nothing that wouldn't have faded by the morning. She chuckled without mirth. That bitch sure had one hell of a punch though.

After watching the lithe blonde woman walk away from her in the alley, Faith had decided against heading straight back to Slayer central. Instead she had wandered off in the opposite direction. She wanted to give B time to cool down and she figured it wouldn't hurt to do a little regular patrolling. With the Big Bad looming over them the usual nightly dust busting had gotten a little lax. Plus Faith really wanted the opportunity to pummel something hard. Unfortunately the cemeteries and parks she strolled through were all disturbingly quiet, not a good sign, she felt; what were they up to? Walking home the long way gave her lots of time to kick herself.

She just never thought things through. Like taking the girls out dancing. It had been a spur of the moment decision to try and lighten their load. B had over reacted like usual, no one had got hurt, but those cops had meant business and it could easily have taken a darker turn.

And as for what she'd said to Buffy after. She was the first one to stand up and call the blonde Slayer out when she deserved it but talk about kicking the girl when she was down. They were all still recovering from the fiasco at the vineyard but Xander was in the hospital and B had to deal with it being her decision that put him there, not to mention the two little potentials who were beyond the help of any doctor. If Faith knew the other Slayer at all then these things must be tormenting her conscience wicked bad. So instead of lending a supportive shoulder and trying to ease her burden a little she flung bitchy little accusations at her. Real nice. She deserved the punch she'd gotten for her finger pointing. She chuckled again; she didn't think she'd reveal that revelation to B just yet though. Maybe she'd get an apology. Hah.

She opened the basement door but paused on the threshold when she heard grunting. What's going on here then, she thought smiling wickedly. She stepped forward so she could see what was happening below.

Looking over the banisters she was disappointed for a moment when all she saw was Buffy belting the hell out the punch bag. Should've known B wouldn't come up with a more...er...unconventional method of letting off steam, she thought, but as she stood there watching, her breath quickened and she leaned against the railing in front of her to get a better view as the agile Slayer seemed to dance around the dusty floor.

Watching someone else move with the same strength and grace she knew she possessed got her a little hot under the collar. It wasn't something she often got to experience. She'd felt the same when they'd clashed in the past and she was aware of a fleeting moment of regret that now that they were fighting on the same side, that chemistry was lost. She mentally shook the unlooked for feeling away and, putting it down to her whole Hungry and Horny theory, decided the kitchen would be a safer place to be right now.

She was just about to let herself back out of the dimly lit basement when there was a loud knock at the front door, startling her. Buffy hearing it too looked up quickly and was surprised to see Faith hovering at the top of the stairs.

"What do you want?" She asked as she whirled to a halt. "And why did you knock?"

Faith turned to stare back over the banisters. "I didn't knock."

The disembodied voice of Dawn came from the far side of the closed door. "It's not them, it's just the pizzas."

"See," Faith continued to stall at the top of the stairs. Not sure whether to just leave Buffy to it or to try in some way to make amends for earlier.

"Ok," Buffy was still looking up at her with that piercing stare. Hazel flecks in shining green eyes catching the gleam of the burning yellow filaments in the bare bulb.

Whoa, thought Faith; Buffy the vampire steps up. The image was clear in her head. Buffy with her eyes a yellow glow. She couldn't stop a tingle of excitement rush up her spine. Hang on, what was she thinking? Vamp-loving was Buffy's thing, not hers, and it's a damn electric light anyway. She moved down a step; the angle of the light changed and Buffy's stormy eyes were back.

"So what do you want? I'm training," Buffy said.

"Uh I was coming down for a smoke, I didn't realize anyone was in here."

Buffy shrugged and dropped to the mat to begin some push-ups.

Faith didn't feel nervous, she didn't do nervous but she didn't feel particularly inclined to stay down here with B now.

"Well if you're gonna smoke, smoke, don't just stand there watching me for Gods sake," Buffy grunted through clenched teeth, still managing to keep count.

"I uh, I guess I must've left my cigarettes somewhere," Faith lied, "I'd better go get some more." She paused for a second longer and then reached for the door handle. Definitely getting hungry, she told herself, best go grab some of that pizza. She took another look down below; or maybe a whole pizza.

Buffy reached one hundred and rolled over to do the same number of sit-ups. "There's a pack of Spike's on the cot if you don't mind each lungful choking you to death." She smiled grimly. "Hey, have the whole pack."

Seizing the invitation, Faith laughed and ran lightly down the stairs. "Thanks B, I owe you one." She shook a cigarette loose from the packet and used her own lighter to spark it up. "So about earlier . . ."

"97, 98, 99, 100." Buffy went from laying on her back to standing up right with a little flip and walked over to the weapons rack against the wall.

"I didn't mean . . . well what I . . ." Jeez this apologizing stuff was hard, Faith thought, especially when Buffy was swinging that great big sword around.

"Faith, save your oxygen for smoking. I'm sick of talking, I just want to sweat." Buffy pointedly turned her back on the dark Slayer and concentrated on the comfortingly heavy weapon in her hand.


Chapter Three

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