Title: Let that Lonesome Whistle

Author: Harper

Email: Xfjnky2@yahoo.com

Faith had remained quiet for the rest of the day, her body tense and her eyes wary. A dark cloud of malice and depression seemed to settle over her shoulders, the two a volatile mix, and Cordelia was afraid that she'd finally pushed the other girl too far. She'd tried a few times to draw Faith into conversation, but stony silence met each attempt, and after a few tries simply gave up the endeavor as useless.

They'd been laying in their respective bunks for an hour now, the dark interior of the cell forcing them into intense awareness of the sound of each other's bodies moving on the sheets, a symphony of uneven breaths and restless grunts. Cordelia was fairly certain that Faith was still awake. She knew that she couldn't sleep, her mind's eye constantly returning to the sight of the other girl sans her protective shield, shoulders seemingly suddenly frail as they hunched over her body.

"I really am sorry," she finally murmured, unable to bear the oppressive silence any longer.

"No reason to be sorry," came the bitter reply, and she was shocked that Faith had even replied. "Its not like it wasn't all true. She called me a mistake, and I guess I was. Anyway, it seems like they're the only things I make. Every life I ever touch goes to hell, all of it pretty much because of me. I thought that it'd get better when I found out I was the Slayer. At least something about me would be special and maybe I could make somebody proud. And if I made them proud, then they'd have to love me, right? Except I fucked that up too, jealous because some skinny little blonde had a mother who loved her, had friends that cared enough to actually risk their lives for her, had a Watcher that would do anything for her. And what did I have? Nothing. Nothing about me to love though, so I don't really blame them."

Sliding off the top bunk smoothly, coming to rest on her knees besides Faith's mattress, Cordelia struggled to see the sharp planes of the other girl's face. Her eyes had slowly become accustomed to the dark, but still she could only make out the vague outline of features, just enough to realize that Faith had turned away from her. Reaching out to pull her face around, Cordelia was shocked to feel her fingers come back wet, the hot scald of Faith's tears burning her fingertips.

"Don't cry," she whispered helplessly, crawling onto the tiny mattress, easily tugging Faith into her arms.

"Going all maternal on me now, C?" the slayer joked weakly, letting Cordelia pull her atop her longer body, her face nestled in the curve of a smooth shoulder.

"If you tell anyone about this, I'll rat your stupid little poems out," the other girl replied, but the heat that had infused her voice earlier was gone.

"Always playing nasty little tricks on me," Faith replied, nuzzling her nose along the strong column of Cordelia's neck. She preferred this slightly playful banter, preferred anything to the emotional scene she'd been stuck in before. Self-pity wasn't something that Faith liked to indulge in, and it was the rare moment that caught her off-guard. Of course, Cordelia seemed to be a master of catching her in exactly that position.

"There's absolutely nothing nasty about me," the ex-prom queen said huffily, but Faith didn't really hear the words. She did feel the soft exhalation of breath move through her hair, felt the slight tightening of the arms around her that accompanied the proclamation, and couldn't help turning her head a little more, letting her lips trace down that smooth skin. It had been a long, long time since she'd had any real, meaningful contact with another human being. There were always willing women here, but she refused to use them, refused to let herself be used. This soft contact, the first in what seemed like forever, was like a balm on her broken soul.

"Faith?" Cordelia whispered brokenly, the feel of those impossibly soft lips against her neck stealing her breath.

"I'm sorry," the slayer muttered, pulling back slightly, realizing what she'd done. Making a move to roll off of her perch, she was surprised when the arms around her prevented the movement, holding her close instead.

"What are you doing, C?" she asked hesitantly, feeling long-fingered hands begin to stroke slowly up her back.

"I don't really know," was the reply, and truthfully, Cordelia meant it. She didn't know what she was doing, didn't know why it suddenly felt so right to have Faith's weight pressing down on her body, to have Faith's silky skin trailing underneath her fingertips. All she knew was that it did feel right, and that she wanted more. Faith pulled upward slightly, eyes luminous dark pools in the night as they looked directly into their hazel counterparts.

"If you don't want me to touch you back, you're going to have to stop touching me," she husked, resisting the urge to flutter her eyes shut as warm fingers stole under the thin nightshirt she wore, branding her flesh.

"Maybe I do want you to touch me back," Cordelia replied, suddenly emboldened. It seemed so surreal here, in this place, that she was able to imagine that the outside world didn't exist, that her actions wouldn't have consequences. As it was, she wanted nothing more than to feel, to lose herself in the flesh of another, to pretend that she didn't exist beyond the confines of skin and sweat and the sticky-sweet smell of sex.

"I'm going to kiss you," Faith whispered, her head dropping down slowly until her lips were almost touching Cordelia's. She stopped there, and the lanky brunette realized that this was the other girl's way of giving her another out. Disregarding it, she brought her head up, her lips unerringly finding their target.

For a moment she simply luxuriated in the silky glide of skin on skin. But then a soft tongue flicked out, drawing along a moist bottom lip, and Faith was lost. There was no turning back now, the desires long banked in her body now stoked into a roaring flame, and it would be easier at that moment to sprout wings and fly than it would be for her to stop.

With a moan she deepened the kiss, drawing Cordelia's velvety tongue into her mouth, sucking on it gently. She loved that, had missed the taste and feel of another person against her lips, and suddenly there was so much that she wanted to do that it became almost overwhelming. Breaking away from that tempting mouth, she kissed her way down a long neck, her teeth alternately nipping and her lips sucking bits of flesh that caught her fancy. Before long she had managed to slide her hands up under the skimpy nightshirt separating her from her soon to be lover's flesh, letting the trace of her fingers smooth over ribs before coming to rest on full, warm breasts. She'd forgotten how a woman could feel baby powder smooth, how the crinkles of skin around taut nipples could tease her palm, but it all came back to her in a rush at the touch.

For a moment she was content to do no more than feel, her fingers tightening rhythmically on their prize, her lips blindly searching for Cordelia's mouth once again. The time the kiss was a little rougher, a little more feral as C grew more aggressive. There were strong fingers on the back of Faith's head holding her in place as she pressed into the lean body beneath her, her hands flexing against tender flesh, and she barely resisted the urge to growl at the delicious confinement.

Letting her short nails trail down lightly until she could feel a firm nipple resting between each thumb and forefinger, she squeezed gently, inordinately pleased when the motion drew a groan from Cordelia's lips, an arch from her back. Suddenly she wanted to see the other girl, wanted to bare curves and valleys of flesh to eyes that hadn't seen the flush of passion rise through another's skin in so long that she wasn't sure that she remembered what it looked like. Long arms raised to help her accommodate her goal and the wisp of fabric disappeared, leaving Faith free to indulge her senses.

She'd seen Cordelia nude before. In this environment, that was something that was practically impossible to escape. While her eye had objectively noted the tight stomach, the high firm breasts, the delicate pattern of her collarbone beneath silky soft skin, now the other girl became something different. Now the rapid rise and fall of her breasts, the flutter of skin over her pulse point, the emerging sheen of sweat were all manifestations of Faith's passion, of her very existence. It was her lips closing over the hard peak of a nipple, her tongue rasping across the tender flesh. The moans flowing past the taller brunette's lips were sounds that she had caused, and in that moment in time, she was finally doing everything right.

The taste of the other girl's skin was a mixture of the expensive shower gel she insisted on using, a trace of detergent from her bedclothes, and the barely salty tang that was naturally her. And perhaps Faith was overindulging, her lips and mouth paying tribute to the sensitive flesh until Cordelia's arousal became almost unbearable, but she'd denied herself for far too long to rush things now.

A gasp, a muttered please, strong fingers on her shoulders and Faith became aware of the frenzied squirm of the body beneath hers, of the pressure of long thighs wrapped around her own, of the essence of heat seeping through two layers of cloth to warm her belly. She made short work of Cordelia's sleep shorts, kicking them to the side before tracing her fingers down the smooth concave of a tight belly, letting them feel the tease of curly soft hairs. Propping herself up on one arm, letting the strong limb carry her weight, Faith drew forward, letting her mouth hover above the one below, hot breath searing past her lips in pants before dipping down for a gentle kiss. Cordelia was so caught up in the languid move that the first glide of fingers through her wetness was unexpected and she gasped loudly, almost as much from surprise as from arousal.

Breaking off the kiss, Faith pulled back slightly, her obsidian eyes reflecting what little light there was in the cell as she searched Cordelia's face worriedly.

"Are you alright?" she whispered, her voice tender, the words ghosting past the other girl's lips in a hot rush of air, dark eyes looking into her own as if trying to divine all of her secrets.

With a nod, Cordelia assured her partner that she was fine, thinking for a moment that if it had been anyone other than Faith expressing the gentle concern that she had heard in the barely audible question, she might just have fallen a little bit in love at that.

Relieved, Faith let her forehead drop down to rest on Cordelia's, her eyes closing and her face contorting in pleasure as she let her fingers be swallowed by moist warmth. With a whimper, she pressed deeper, entering the other girl, feeling slick walls close around her digits like a velvet vise. Beginning a slow rhythm, her thumb inching up to tease the sensitive bundle of nerves at the apex of her partner's thighs, Faith absorbed Cordelia's shudders of pleasure, answering them with ones of her own.

"So good," she whispered, suddenly desperate for the comforting reassurance of Cordelia's lips on hers. Blindly finding them in the dark, she opened her mouth, letting her tongue thrust into the other girl in rhythm with her fingers. Cordelia responded by wrapping long arms around her, sneaking her hands under the shirt Faith still wore and pulling her closer until the other girl was almost on top of her once again. As her climax neared, she unconsciously dug short nails into that soft flesh, and as she peaked, she left vivid red marks across its expanse, a tribute of her pleasure.

Faith collapsed against the other girl, her body delighting in the shivers that continued to wrack through Cordelia's body. Her head fell to the crook of a shoulder, and she nuzzled into the warm, slightly damp flesh, finding a safe haven there.

"You're still wearing your clothes," Cordelia drawled lazily long moments later, the distraction of her nails raking absent patterns up and down the slayer's arm having nearly lulled her into blissful unawareness.

"They didn't seem important at the time," was the muttered reply, the words rumbling against hyperaware skin.

"Perhaps so, but they're in my way now," the seer said with a smile, one hand dipping down to sneak beneath the waistband of loose pants, teasing the flesh it found there. With a sigh, Faith pulled away from her perch, dark eyes finding hazel once more, this time unreadable.

"Cor, you don't have to feel like you have to touch me," she whispered. "This, touching you, is enough for me."

The hand that had been drawing lazy circles on the small of Faith's back moved suddenly, sliding around to cup her swollen wetness. "It doesn't feel like its enough," she murmured, excited by the way the slayer's hips had instinctively pushed against her palm, by the tease of moisture against her fingertips.

"God," Faith hissed, though exactly what she hoped to accomplish by invoking the Almighty wasn't completely clear. Drawing herself up on her forearms, raising her body up until the cloth of her shirt barely teased the still sensitive tips of Cordelia's breasts, she couldn't stop herself from pressing against the fingers moving lightly over her highly aroused flesh.

The sight above her was intriguing. Faith's eyes were closed tightly, her bottom lip drawn between her teeth as the skin over her cheeks stretched in the pantomime of a grimace. Dark hair fell around her shoulders like a curtain, and brows lowered in a study of concentration as the dark slayer gave herself over to the touch. The feel of those hips rocking against her fingers was intoxicating, and as Cordelia watched Faith's nostrils widen and contract furiously in an almost futile attempt to draw more oxygen into her lungs, she realized that she never really had paid attention to just how beautiful the girl was before that moment. The hint of dimples creasing her cheeks in parallel, the eyes that couldn't be described as anything less than soulful, the exotic winging of thin brows, the lush fullness of dark pink lips, the cut of sharp cheekbones… all of it came together to form a natural, effortless beauty.

She felt the tiny quivers indicating orgasm, heard the gasp cut short and felt the tightening of strong muscles against her own before Faith collapsed once more, and this time it was the aftershocks of her passion that traced through them both. For a long time they laid there in silence, their breath finally evening out, the light coating of sweat slowly drying.

"I don't want to talk about this," Cordelia said finally, her voice decisive, drawing Faith once again from the brink of sleep.

"Huh?" the other girl replied, not at her communicative best.

"I don't want to sit around and overanalyze this and try to explain it away. I want it to just be," the seer elaborated, trying to explain.

"Okay," Faith drawled in a sleep soft voice. "It'll just be. Tomorrow morning it'll just be. Will it just be tomorrow night as well?"

"That's the beauty of just being," was the reply, long fingers coming up to sift through soft chestnut locks. "There's no need for planning, no need for explanations. All you've got to do is just accept it and let it happen."


Despite her pledge to not analyze, Cordelia was doing just that. She couldn't help it though. Every time she glanced over, her eyes coming to rest on the top of Faith's dark head, she wasn't able to not think about the night before.

If she'd really stopped to give much thought to it, she wouldn't have expected Faith to be so gentle, so almost vulnerable in her passion. She'd heard the slayer's 'want, take, have' philosophy, and as far as she could tell, it wasn't conducive to near hesitant touches and whispered words of concern. That bothered her. If it had been nothing more than a quick coupling, a release of sexual tension through the only means convenient, then she would have been fine. But, it hadn't been that at all. Instead it had been tender and achingly beautiful, and when Faith had fallen asleep, arms wrapped tightly around her waist, Cordelia hadn't been able to find the strength to untangle herself from the embrace and slip back into the comfort of her own bed. That meant that this morning she had awakened to the heat of another body pressed tightly against her own, to the lazy flutter of long lashes over seductively dark, half-opened eyes, and the faint curl of a smile teasing the corners of kiss swollen lips.

Faith had murmured a quiet good morning, her body arching in a feline curve as she stretched before rolling out of bed, her bare feet padding softly against the hard concrete floor as she walked over to the sink, cupping her hands under cold running water so that she could take a drink. Cordelia had been left lying there, feeling almost unbearably vulnerable in her nakedness, the scent of the other girl seemingly burned into her skin. A soft thump against her chest revealed that Faith had recovered her pajamas, and she slipped into them hastily, wanting to restore a sense of equality between them.

True to her wishes, Faith hadn't said a word about the happenings of the night before, remaining as resolutely quiet as ever. For once, Cordelia found herself wishing that the other girl would talk, that she would open her mouth and that patented sarcasm would return, because as soon as it did, she'd know that she was dealing with the same old Faith she had always known and not some new, unquantifiable entity. But no, there she was, calmly leafing through some book or the other as if she didn't have a care in the world. After watching her lazily flip through page after page, Cordelia decided that she was fairly certain that she just might be completely furious.

Deciding that any argument would have more of an impact at close range, the seer pulled herself up out of the chair she had been occupying, stalking across the room until she was standing across the small table that served as a counter. Leaning down on her arms, she waited for Faith to look up and see what she wanted, and when the other girl didn't, she felt her anger grow.

"Why didn't you just fuck me?" she finally hissed. Faith's dark head jerked upward in surprise, her eyes coming to focus warily on the apparently irate ex-cheerleader standing across from her.

"I was under the impression that I had," she replied slowly, tilting her head to the side as she examined her counterpart closely, trying to ascertain what exactly had prompted this sudden attack.

"No," Cordelia enunciated, "you didn't. Fucking is hard and fast, you cum and that's it. Fucking is not you touching me like you're afraid I might break and most certainly not you asking me if I'm alright."

"I see," Faith drawled, feeling slightly more in control of this conversation. Of course, that still left her approximately 90% confused about it, but at least she was slowly feeling a little more certain. "So you're angry at me because I didn't treat you like shit?"

"Yes," Cordelia said happily, slapping her hand down hard on the table to punctuate her point. "That's it exactly."

"And you want me to treat you like that?" Faith asked slowly, eyebrows scrunched in confusion.

"Well… no, but I don't want you to be nice to me either," the other girl replied, now somewhat deflated.

"Why the hell not?" the slayer almost shouted, her eyes narrowing in annoyance. If anything, this emphasized the usefulness of her 'get some, get gone' philosophy. If you rolled out of the door just as soon as you rolled out of the bed, you could completely avoid dealing with the more off-kilter aspects of your partner's personality. Like the unreasonable anger she was getting right now. You'd think that, if anything, the other girl would be mad because they'd slept together at all, but that didn't appear to be bothering her. The fact that Faith had been a solicitous partner was apparently far more upsetting.

"Because if you're nice to me, I might involuntarily start liking you, and neither one of us wants that to happen," Cordelia retorted, her back straightening as she stood, doing her level best to glare down haughtily at Faith.

"Oh well, of course," Faith snarled sarcastically, "now it all makes perfect sense. Why spend the next year actually getting along when we could be hating each other's guts and fucking each other's brains out? I mean, honestly, what good is the ability to have a civil conversation when you risk losing all of that? And God forbid that the first time I touch someone in four years, I want to enjoy it, or that I actually maybe consider your feelings and try not to hurt you. What was I thinking, not behaving like the psychotic murdering bitch that I so obviously am, messing with your perfect little scheme of how the world should be. Of course, its so clear to me now. I should have just used you to get off and then kicked you out of bed, because that's who I am and I'm not allowed to change that, am I? Of course not, because any time I try, you and everybody else is standing right there to remind me that its impossible."

"Four years?" Cordelia repeated, slightly shocked. "The whole time you've been here, you've not had sex even once?"

"Fucking-A… out of everything I say, is that the only thing you heard?" the slayer growled, wishing desperately that there was something, anything, in the near vicinity that she could stake.

"Well, it is pretty shocking," the seer insisted, wide-eyed.

"That's it. You are going to sit over here," Faith said, leaping over the counter and grabbing Cordelia's shoulders to march her over to the most distant point in the small library. "You're not going to say another word, not one, or maybe I will fuck you, right there on that table so that anyone who comes in or anyone who passes by can see. And this is what I'm gonna do. I'm going to go back over there and sit down and calmly read my book. I don't want to see you or hear you or even have to think about you for the rest of the day. Do you understand that?"

"Jesus. Temper much?" the seer retorted, and Faith felt her body primed to jump, to do something, anything, to make the girl realize that she was serious.

"Faith, visitor." The words cut through the room, breaking into the haze of tension. With a scowl, the slayer backed away from Cordelia slowly, her muscles jumping against the self-restraint she was using to keep herself from pouncing on the girl anyway, despite the presence of the guard at the doorway. With a growl of frustration, she finally turned, glaring back once more as she followed the guard out of the doorway.

Moments later, she found herself in the visitation room, looking across the broad wooden table at the ever-quiet Angel, still seething.

"To what do I owe the honor, deadboy?" she asked, unable to keep the rancor from her voice.

"Uh, just came to check up on you," he said hesitantly, picking up on the obvious tension in her body. "And, uh, see how things were going with Cordy and all that."

"With Cordy? See how things are going with Cordy? She's a fucking nutcase, that's how things are going," Faith exploded, unable to keep up the semblance of calm anymore. "Either you get her out of here or you get me out of here, because I swear to God, one day, I'm just not going to be able to take it anymore. And when that day comes…" She trailed off, unable to think of a threat vile enough to appease her at the moment.

"Wow. So she's managed to do all of that," he said, gesturing vaguely at her aggressive posture, "in only three weeks, huh."

"I was happy before she came here. I was in prison, but I was happy. Maybe that's it… my life can never be peaceful. I finally manage to find some calm, and the powers that be see fit to send her in here to wreck everything that took years to build in less than a fucking month. She's my penance. I always thought that I'd find it after I got out of here, but apparently that wasn't good enough. It had to come to me. And a hell of one it is, too." Finally she was beginning to breathe normally again, some of the tension draining from her shoulders.

"You don't think she'd come and talk to me, do you?" he asked, almost meekly. "Maybe I can get her to back off a little."

"Hell no, deadboy. You're number one on her list of people to hate at the moment," Faith said with a laugh. "Definitely a persona non grata in Cordelia-land, my friend, and I wouldn't be looking for that station to change anywhere in the near future. She's mightily pissed off at you. And come to think of it, maybe I should be too. After all, if you hadn't screwed up and let her get arrested, then she wouldn't be here, now would she? Wreaking havoc on my once normal life."

"I'm sure that once she adjusts, things will get better," Angel offered hopefully, not sure that he quite believed it, but trying to reassure Faith nonetheless.

"I just don't understand her, not at all." For a moment, the slayer was tempted to tell him about the night before, about the rather absurd argument that she had just been pulled from, but she held back. Some things just weren't meant for common consumption, and Faith had a feeling that there were some secrets that the vamp just didn't need to know.

"She's not that bad, not once you get to know her," Angel replied, squirming uncomfortably in his seat. While he agreed with Faith that much of Cordelia was likely to remain a puzzle unable to be solved by normal human mental processes, he still felt a sense of loyalty to the seer that prompted his defense of her, half-hearted though it was.

"You spend every moment, waking and non-waking, with her and then we'll talk about this some more." The words were delivered coldly, the look in Faith's dark eyes conveying very clearly just how stupid she found him in that particular instance. Like hell, not so bad. The girl was psychotic, and this came from somebody who understood in intimate terms just exactly what that word meant.

"So, uh, aside from Cordelia, how are things?" he asked finally, hoping to bring a little bit of levity into the conversation.

"There is no aside from Cordelia. My life is now saturated with Cordelia. She's the sixty-foot monster who ate my life," Faith muttered, her head dropping down to rest on the hard wooden tabletop, arms splayed out in front of her.

"Actually, she'd probably be pretty flattered to hear that," the vampire mused, a small grin creasing his face. "Tell her that I'm coming to see her next week. Is there anything you want me to bring you when I come?"

"Earplugs," she replied, her voice muffled by the table.

Angel just laughed.


"What, I get no visit from His Royal Highness?" They were the first words Faith heard as she reluctantly made her way back into the library. Cordelia was occupying her usual spot, long legs stretched out in front of her, feet propped on the table in a careless pose.

"He's coming to see you next week. Just testing the waters this week, wondering if you'd even talk to him," was the curt reply. Faith found herself looking around, searching for another spot to occupy, but unhappy with any of the ones she came across. Finally unable to take it anymore, she growled, "You're in my seat."

"My seat now," was the distracted reply.

Putting a hand to her forehead, thumb and forefinger pinching the bridge of her nose as if to ward off a headache, Faith stood, looking in disbelief as the other girl continued to sit, calmly inspecting her nails as if she didn't have a care in the world. It was becoming of sublime importance that she come up with a plan. Right now C thought that she was holding all the cards. She'd managed to upset the balance of power and was building on that. How to upset back?

Suddenly Faith grew still, her mind racing. Her previous shows of anger and aggression hadn't been as successful as she'd like because they'd all been spur of the moment, fits of rage type displays. She'd also backed away from each and every single one, not doing any damage. Well, except for the sore neck she'd left Cordelia with yesterday afternoon. Not even that really made an impact, though, because it was wiped away by the events of last night. The other girl simply wasn't fully appreciating the havoc she could wreak. You'd think that memories wouldn't be so short, that conspiring to end the world, that leaving C with a nasty shiner, that torturing almost to death her former Watcher all would be events that melted together in the ex-prom queen's psyche to form a great big mental billboard reading "Caution. Danger Ahead." Instead, she was apparently disregarded as non-threatening. Or, at the very least, as not enough for Cordelia Chase to have to worry about.

Faith realized that she was still standing, her gaze still focused lazily on Cordelia. She also realized that the plan had apparently already started without her, because she could almost feel the nervousness rolling off the other girl in waves, though she tried hard to look cool and nonchalant. It must be disturbing, though, to be stared at so thoroughly for what, a half an hour? Is that how long she'd been standing there, contemplating the other girl's lack of good sense?

"Time to close up." For once, the harsh words didn't break through the layer of tension between them, and Faith turned slowly, her eyes catching on those of the bored looking guard lounging in the doorway. It had been a relatively uneventful afternoon patron-wise, and so there wasn't really anything more for them to do than flip off the lights and wait for the guard to lock the door.

She managed to make it through the rest of the evening without talking. Not as if that was actually a first for her. Cordelia could babble on for hours without any input whatsoever, and sometimes she thought the other girl pretended to talk to her just so she could hear her own voice. It was easy enough to tune her out, which Faith did. Tonight, however, unlike all the nights that had proceeded this one, she didn't break eye contact. Usually she'd refrain from looking at C, figuring that to do so would be to give the other girl the impression that she gave a damn about what Hollywood hunk was rumored to be dating which starlet. This time, she locked eyes with the other girl and refused to look away, even when Cordelia faltered, when her head dropped and her eyes focused on the contents of her tray.

After dinner, she joined Cordelia as she headed for the shower. Faith was usually a morning shower kind of girl, so C was alarmed when the other girl fell into step beside her, small packet of bath supplies clutched in her hand. Even though she'd had three weeks to accustom herself to the strangeness of showering when other people were around, the seer still wasn't quite comfortable with it, preferring to pretend that she was alone, that she wasn't surrounded by ribald jokes and bare skin and the splash of water on other people's bodies.

She couldn't do that tonight, because Faith was there, standing right beside her, lazy half-lidded eyes watching her intently. Fighting the urge to scream, Cordelia hurried through her routine. The slayer finished long before she did, choosing to lean up against the wall, a slight smirk teasing the edges of her mouth as her eyes traced over C's body with a mixture of lust and possession.

Faith, for her part, was thoroughly enjoying this section of the plan. Cordelia had a great body, all lean, long limbs, tanned skin, with a hint of sinewy muscle. Her breasts fit her body well, just on the verge of being overpowering on her slim frame but not quite going over that edge. They were real, of that Faith was sure. Actually, she vaguely remembered C telling her that they were during one of her long rants bemoaning the dearth of quality acting roles available. She'd muttered something about her boobs, apparently thanking her lucky stars that her natural ones were as good as they were, because Angel sure didn't pay her enough money to get them fixed. Faith had rolled her eyes at the comment before, but had to secretly agree with the wannabe actress now. Her natural endowments were quite sufficient indeed. Especially when offset against her flat, taut belly.

"Enjoy the show?" Faith was slightly startled by the words. She'd been so caught up in her appraisal of Cordelia's attributes, that she'd completely missed the look of growing irritation spreading across the other girl's face. In response, she let a lazy grin spread across her own face as she let her eyes once more trace over the expanse of bare flesh in front of her, from head to toe and back again. The look of outrage on the C's face would have been reward enough, but when coupled with her near frantic attempts to keep her eyes from traveling the same path over Faith's body, it was all the Slayer could do to keep from laughing.

Spreading her arms out to her sides, Faith invited C to look at her, goading her into it with her eyes. She knew she looked good in almost any circumstances, her compact build managing to be lithe instead of stocky, graceful limbs hiding the power that resided in them in gently sloping, smooth muscles. She knew that with her long dark hair slicked back off her face and the water droplets that were still beading on her flesh, her more exotic features would be emphasized, a long buried hint of Gypsy blood resurfacing in the slash of her brows, the angular sharpness of her cheekbones. Her attributes were nothing to sneer at either, and when she saw hazel eyes hesitate, fixing on the upturned curve of her breast for a lingering minute, Faith felt her smile widen.

Deciding that show time was over, she turned on her heel, padding off abruptly, leaving a rather shocked and confused Cordelia standing in her wake. Having never had the full force of the other girl's sensuality directed toward her during the light of day, she found that it left her slightly off-balance and highly aroused, two things that made her more than uncomfortable. The only way to make it through the rest of the year with Faith was to keep the upper hand, and for some reason, it felt like a battle she was suddenly losing.

By the time she made it back to the cell, Faith was already there, lounging lazily in the bottom bunk, seemingly napping. Hoisting herself up on the top bunk, Cordelia tried to trace the events of the day to find out exactly where she had gone wrong. Images of Faith, her skin glistening through a light coating of water kept popping up, however, distracting her from the task, and long after the lights had gone out and the doors had clanged shut, she was still trying to puzzle it all apart, trying to understand the low hum of arousal currently coursing through her veins.

She wasn't even sure why she'd slept with Faith in the first place. It wasn't the first time that she'd done something that felt good simply for the hell of it, but after those little indiscretions she'd been able to get up and walk away afterward. That was what had appealed to her about them, actually. Her life was complicated, to say the least. A vampire for a boss, mind-numbing, drool-inducing visions that hit without warning, a ghost for a roommate. All of these things had to be explained away in relationships. Luckily, or unluckily as the case may be, she hadn't had a relationship yet that had lasted long enough to make their explanation necessary, and ensuring that the "relationship" didn't last past twenty-four hours was a great way of maintaining that.

So did that explain it? Had she merely been horny, taking the first, and only, option available to her to remedy that? No, that wasn't entirely it. Had she been sharing a cell with pretty much any other inmate she'd met, she wouldn't have even considered doing with them what she'd done with Faith. So she found the Slayer attractive. That didn't mean anything, really. A lot of people had thought that Ted Bundy was attractive, but that didn't mean that he made suitable bed-partner material. Maybe it was all because of the moment. She'd felt sorry for what she'd said, and then there was Faith crying because of it, and she'd only meant to comfort her but she'd felt so good, her body pressing down into Cordelia's, soft in all the right places, and she just had stopped thinking altogether.

A soft rustle broke into her train of thought, and suddenly Cordelia wasn't laying in her bed anymore. She was on the ground, stumbling forward until she collided lightly with bars, her hands grabbing them tightly as she tried to regain her balance. And then Faith was there, behind her, and her sleepshorts had disappeared and those hands were tracing up her belly to her breasts, fingers teasing her nipples into hardness and clamping down hard, sending a jolt of arousal searing down to settle between her legs. She could feel the warm wetness of a mouth against the back of her neck, hard suction and the scrape of teeth teasing the skin there into awareness.

"Is this what you wanted, Princess?" a low voice from behind her growled, and one of those hands was tracing down her belly, past silky curls to bury strong fingers in her wetness, and she couldn't answer, couldn't do more than whimper and clutch her hands even more tightly around the bars.

"Have you been thinking of me? It sure does feel like you have," the voice growled again, fingers moving in hard circles around her clit, and Cordelia wondered how it was possible to be this aroused, this quickly.

Then those fingers were gone, and she almost cried until she felt them again, felt soft, silky hair against her abdomen, and realized that Faith was kneeling between her legs, back against the bars. But then those fingers that had been stroking her were burying themselves inside her, and the hot flat of a tongue was pressing against her and she could feel her head jerk back, hear what had to be a raw cry ripped from her throat echo down the hall, and her body was exploding.

Her knees gave out, but thankfully Faith was there to catch her, lowering her to the floor. Rough hands pulled her thighs up, draping them over strong shoulders, and suddenly she was nearly suspended in mid-air, only her back and upper shoulders resting on the hard, cold concrete. Faith's head was between her legs again, that luscious mouth feeding on her once more, and she beat at the floor with her hands, sure that it was too much, the pleasure so intense that it was pain.

She was begging, pleading, though for Faith to stop or for release, she wasn't sure. Her head thrashed wildly on the cold stone, her hips bucked and jerked almost without control against the relentless mouth and tongue teasing her until she felt her body tense once more, her back arching until she was afraid it might break, and she screamed Faith's name as her climax hit her, fingers digging helplessly into the concrete floor, looking for purchase and finding none.

She was gasping for breath, trying to recover, her legs having dropped down from their perch on Faith's shoulders to sprawl out lewdly around the other girl's kneeling body. Forcing her eyes open, she caught sight of the dark slayer, her hand idly wiping away the traces of Cordelia's passion from her lips, heavy eyes focused on her, a single tear tracing a silver path down her cheek.

"That what you wanted, Princess?" she asked hoarsely, her voice raw with emotion.

Cordelia struggled to sit, her body almost boneless, heart slowly starting to calm. Reaching out gently, she laid a hand on Faith's cheek, startled when the other girl flinched, jerking her head away.

"That is what you wanted, isn't it? Wanted to use my body to get off, let me be just some faceless fuck. Hope you enjoyed the performance, cause there sure as hell ain't gonna be no encore." Her voice was cold, hard, belying the swirl of emotions chasing through her dark eyes, and Cordelia felt her stomach clench.

"Faith, I…" she started, but then trailed off, not sure what to say. It had never occurred to her that she could hurt Faith. Annoy her, irritate her, infuriate her maybe, but not hurt her. But she had, and suddenly, she desperately needed to do something to fix it.

Faith was silent, watching Cordelia's mouth open and close soundlessly, her eyes conveying her helplessness and confusion. The plan, she now realized, had been a bad plan. All that time spent trying to get away from this, from letting people use her just as much as she used them, and all it took was one infuriating brunette to strip away everything that she had gained. She felt angry, and dirty, and above it all was a tide of self-loathing threatening to drown her. For a moment, Faith was afraid that she was going to be sick, that the acid rumbling through her stomach would force her to embarrass herself even further in front of the girl watching her intently.

She wanted to get away, to run, but there was nowhere to go. The cold steel bars mocked her, teased her wordlessly with their very permanence, and suddenly everything about them seemed to represent her life. Everything she ever was or had been was locked in this cell, the smell of sex coating the air with her, existing unsatisfied and unhappy, deep in its midst. An object, a means to an end. That was all she was, just a toy to be used for the enjoyment of others. It didn't take much for her to outlive her usefulness, to be carelessly tossed aside. All her life, that's the way it had been, and she wanted to laugh at herself for being so foolish, for thinking that she could change that, for being under the mistaken impression that maybe this time things were different.

"I can't explain things to you that I don't understand myself," Cordelia said hesitantly, her soft voice breaking into the deepening silence. She'd watched Faith's face, been amazed by the look of revulsion that she'd seen in the other girl's eyes. It wasn't until she noticed that the look wasn't directed at her, that the eyes were staring off blindly, the hatred directed inward, that she'd understood the perfect stillness that had overtaken the Slayer's body.

"Get up." The hoarse words were her only reply, the raw tone making her cringe.

"No, Faith, I want you to… Look, I don't know what exactly this is," she tried again, her hand gesturing between their bodies, "but it's definitely something. Maybe I'm tired of being alone and maybe you're… you're… I don't know what you are. All I do know is that I was wrong to say what I did before. I was frightened and I didn't know how to explain things away and I lashed out at you. You didn't seem bothered at all, and I wanted you to feel like I did, and you didn't deserve that."

"It doesn't matter." Cold eyes looked at her appraisingly, bitter words breaking into her explanation.

"It does matter. Look, I don't want whatever this is to stop because of me," Cordelia replied, shocking herself with the words. She didn't want this to be over? That would certainly be far easier that entering into whatever it was she was starting.

Faith snorted. "Never knew you were so hard up for sex, C."

"That's not what I mean, and you know it," the seer snapped back, unable to stop herself.

"I see. And just exactly what do you mean? What do you want? A relationship? You wanna be my girlfriend? Is that what you want? You wanna hold hands with me and spend arts and crafts time making little gifts for one another? Or do you just want me to be here to fuck whenever you feel like it? Your own convenient little whore," the Slayer taunted. She was angry, angry at herself and, by extension, furious at Cordelia. "Pretty big drop for you, isn't it Queen C? You used to rule the world, and now you've had to resort to fucking trash like me. Not that you seem to mind crawling around in my gutter."

"The only person who hates you in here is you, Faith," Cordelia hissed in return. "I'm going to be waiting for you over there in your bed, for reasons that currently escape me, and when you once again rejoin civilized society, feel free to come and join me."

For a long moment, Faith stayed where she was, unwilling to accept the comfort clearly being offered, until she forgot why she didn't want it in the first place. When she finally slid under the covers once again, long arms reached out to wrap around her, and she snuggled down into the comforting warmth, an odd sense of security enveloping her as she drifted peacefully off to sleep.


She hadn't had the nightmares in so long that she had thought that they were gone. Clearly they weren't though, and even though some part of her subconscious mind told her that this was just a dream, she couldn't help but feel the fear course through her, just as it had before.

The room was small, with the inescapable dinginess that came with time and mistreatment. She'd always kept it as clean as she possibly could, all of her meager belongings stowed in their proper places, the thin comforter pulled up on the bed every morning. There were never any clothes littering the floor, never any spare scraps of paper that needed to be picked up or schoolbooks thrown in a careless pile. If she didn't have anything else, she could at least have her pride.

She'd known when she gotten in from school that afternoon that tonight would be a bad night. Her mother was already drunk, some stranger lounging on their couch as if he owned it, and she'd tried to move about quietly, not wanting to draw attention as she moved to her room, closing the door and hopefully barring the rest of the world from entering. When her stomach began to rumble, to protest the fact that she hadn't had anything to eat since the meager lunch at school, she'd ignored it, knowing that it was better to go hungry than to go out there.

There had been a fight, with yelling and the sound of shattering glass, and when she heard the door slam behind whoever it was that had been sitting on their couch when she got home, she knew it didn't bode well for her. Pulling herself into a tiny ball in the far corner of her bed, wishing desperately that she could simply become a shadow and vanish into the darkness, she'd listened intently for the sound of footsteps, each minute dragging slowly by until finally the slow scrape stopped at her door, the rattle of a knob letting her know that they weren't going to continue on tonight.

Feeble light from the hallway lit her mother from behind, making her look as if she stood twenty feet tall. The thick leather belt was in her hand, and Faith could feel the scar on her back twitching, reminding her of what happened last time. Dark hair stuck out in spikes, eyes rimmed with smeared mascara looked out at her with an almost unholy glow, and she could see the fine tremors that ran through that almost painfully thin body, signaling withdrawal.

When she finally caught sight of her small form, she rushed forward, swinging the thick strip of leather wildly, uncaring. She railed at her, her screeching voice telling her just how worthless she was as the blows continued to rain down, thin arms trying to shield a small, dark head. Somehow, Faith knew she was stronger than this, that she didn't have to take this, and as she felt the belt slice into her repeatedly, she grew angry. There were hands on her, trying to hold her down, and she wasn't going to take it, wasn't going to submit. Lashing out blindly, she smiled in satisfaction at the solid feel of flesh on flesh, hoping that it would give her enough time to escape.

Cordelia had been jerked into consciousness by the barely restrained twitches, by the helpless whimpers and soft, pleading cries. For a moment, she looked around blindly, not sure where she was or what was going on, until the warm body thrashing beside her pulled her back to the present.

It was Faith, her body shivering uncontrollably, hands raised in a defensive posture as she begged and pleaded with her nocturnal visitor in a small, weak voice. Hoping to draw her from her nightmare, Cordelia leaned over, placing strong hands on the Slayer's shoulders and shaking her, only to be rewarded by a blow to the jaw that left her momentarily dazed. Grimacing, tasting blood on her tongue, she leaned over again, placing her mouth next to the curve of an ear.

"Faith!" she yelled, barely moving back in time as the Slayer, now instantly awake, snapped her head around.

"Huh?" she grunted inelegantly, eyes narrowing to focus on Cordelia's concerned visage.

"You were having a nightmare," the other girl said matter-of-factly. "A pretty bad one, if I had to venture a guess."

And then Faith remembered, could smell the old apartment in her nostrils, could feel the cold bite of leather against her skin. She stiffened, pulling away from Cordelia's hold as she rolled up, sitting on the edge of the bunk. Her feet slapped down on cold concrete as her chest heaved, drawing in huge shudders of breath, and her head dropped down to rest in her hands.

"Sorry I woke you up," she muttered, ashamed that the other girl had seen her that way.

"Wanna talk about it?" Cordelia asked, trying not to choke at the bitter tang of copper on her tongue. She could feel the slight split in the soft flesh inside her mouth, the flap of skin that had broken over the edge of her teeth when Faith lashed out in her sleep.

"I'd rather not," was the droll reply, and Cordelia sighed.

"Then let me up," she said, pushing past Faith's reclining form. Moving quietly across the cell, she turned on the tap, cupping her hands under the water before bringing them to her mouth. Swishing around the faintly metallic water for a few moments, she spit it back out, running her tongue along the insides of her teeth. She repeated the process a few more times until finally she couldn't taste the blood any more.

"What are you doing?" Faith was watching her warily, dark eyes suspicious.

"Just a bad taste in my mouth," Cordelia replied, her voice airy. For some reason, she didn't want the other girl to learn about the blow, knowing that Faith would blame herself for the lack of control. She'd forget about the demons that she'd been battling in her dreams and know only that she'd hurt someone once again.

"Uh-huh," the slayer drawled, disbelieving.

"You know," Cordelia began, hoping to change the subject, "I never did get to return the favor last night."

"I thought that we'd established that I hadn't done you any favors," Faith shot back, vaguely aware that Cordelia was trying to be evasive.

"Be that as it may, I still didn't get to touch you." She was beside Faith now, her hands tugging at the hem of the thin shirt the Slayer was wearing, and Faith decided to let her be elusive. A healing touch would be good right now, and early morning had stolen away her resolve to keep her barriers firmly in place. Besides, those soft hands had managed to divest her of her clothing before she even realized it, and when she looked up, she saw that C was bare as well.

Pushing back gently against strong shoulders, Cordelia guided Faith down to the bed, her body stretching out over hers. For a moment, she was content to feel the slide of flesh on flesh as she held herself slightly above the other girl, her body rocking back and forth. But then it became too much, and her lips descended to touch sleep-warm flesh, ignoring the twinge in her jaw as she licked and sucked a path down Faith's neck.

Nipples pebbled under her tongue as fingers wrapped in her hair, holding her close. She could feel the wet smear of Faith's arousal against her belly, lean calves wrapping their way around her upper thighs, heels pressing firmly against her buttocks. It was a wonderful feeling, and she spent long minutes at her perch, mouth alternating between the two ample peaks, until she heard Faith's breath start to speed up, felt the fingers in her hair become rougher, more careless. Pulling her body upward, she slid a hand down, her fingers moving easily into place, three straining past a tight ring of muscle, her thumb resting easily on a hard bundle of nerves. Moving so that her thigh was braced against the back of her hand, she began to thrust slowly with her body, letting her weight and momentum do all the work.

The position placed her slightly to the left of Faith, and she was able to watch, through half-lidded eyes the results of her efforts. The graceful arch of a long neck, the impatient thrash of a dark head, and the tightly closed eyes combined with a string of soft, senseless words and encouragements until finally she saw the dark Slayer freeze, her body still in that one perfect moment before she fell back heavily against the thin pillow, tremors still shooting down her body.

"Cor," Faith finally said, her voice soft.

"Yeah?" the other girl asked, rolling up on her side, looking down at the peaceful face beneath her.

"You aren't gonna go all psychotic on me again today, are you? Because I'm feeling pretty damn good at the moment, and I was just wondering if you were once again going to manage to find some way to fuck that up for me."

"Huh, well… can't make any promises." She wasn't going to lie. Psychotic episodes often surprised her as much as they did the person to whom they were directed.


It seemed like only moments after their eyes had closed for the second time that night that morning arrived. Neither girl was too incredibly sharp in the early morning, both usually just stumbling out of bed, through a quick brushing of the teeth, and down the hall to breakfast without barely cracking open an eye. This morning proved no different. In fact, both were probably a little worse than usual, eyes focused blearily on the trays in front of them until a little food perked them up.

Faith was the first to pull herself from the stupor, emitting a jaw cracking yawn as she stretched, feeling her shoulders pop refreshingly. Taking a moment to scrub the sleep from her eyes, she finally looked over to gauge Cordelia's level of awareness. What she saw when she did so gave her pause.

"Did I do this?" she asked, gentle fingers reaching out to trace over the livid purple bruise covering the other girl's cheek. Cordelia flinched away from the touch, the place a little more sore now than it had been right after it had happened. Dismayed, she caught the look of sadness that spread across her companion's face at the move.

"It was an accident," she said in her best soothing tone, noting that Faith had let her hand drop lifelessly to the table. "You were having a bad dream, and I shouldn't have grabbed your shoulders like I did…"

"Don't make excuses for me," Faith ground out, both of her hands coming to rest on the table, fingers curled into loose, useless fists.

"I'm not making excuses," Cordelia replied, this time her voice a little sharper. "I'm telling you what happened. You were having some kind of nightmare, and instead of just yelling in your ear or poking you in the side, I leaned over you and grabbed your shoulders and shook. You probably thought that I was whatever you were dreaming about. Jesus Faith, you were asleep. Its not like you meant to do it."

"Were you planning on telling me about it?" the Slayer asked, arching a brow. Cordelia's behavior made more sense now. Rinsing her mouth out, evading Faith's questions, making love to her… making love to her. "Or were you just going to screw me until I forgot."

"Could you two keep it down over there," a new voice broke in, and distracted from their argument, both girls looked up. "I mean, all night we hear it. 'Faith, that's it, oh God Faith… harder Faith, harder, please Faith, harder, oh yes, oh yes, oh yes… FAITH!' Can't we at least have breakfast in peace?"

A few snickers erupted around the room at the amazingly good rendition of Cordelia's cries of passion, and Faith watched the other girl flush hot red in embarrassment.

"And about time you showed her who was boss, Faith," another voice called out, spurred on by attention of her peers. "I always did think that one was a little uppity."

"Uppity? Uppity!" Cordelia screeched, embarrassment quickly morphing into fury as she jumped up from the table, spoon clutched fiercely in hand as she surveyed the faces around them, trying to discern just who exactly had been foolish enough to say that about her. "Who said that?"

"Cordelia," Faith said calmly, watching the lanky brunette wave her spoon threateningly at a likely group of suspects. While she had no doubt that she could protect them both if the need arose, there was no need to fight a room full of potentially violent convicts if it wasn't completely necessary.

"What?" she snapped, not sparing Faith a look as she continued to glare at the now smirking inmates.

"Cordelia, honey," Faith tried again, hoping that maybe endearments would calm down the obviously irate girl.

"Don't you honey me," the seer said fiercely, dropping her spoon to the table in disgust. "I'm leaving."

With a sigh, Faith scooped up both of their trays, ignoring the amused chuckles floating through the room, and went off after the indignant figure of her new lover. Outrage was sketched clearly in the stiff set of Cordelia's shoulders as she followed her down the hallway, and Faith soon realized that it was going to take valuable time to calm her down after this so that they could return to their original, and much more important in Faith's estimation, argument.

Thankful that the other girl chose to stalk off to the library for sanctuary, preventing her from having to scour the prison for her and incur the wrath of the guards, Faith steeled herself for the apparently requisite daily confrontation.

"Cordelia," she said calmly, catching sight of her quarry leaning stiffly against the small table that Faith usually claimed as her own, back taut with tension.

"Don't talk to me," was the hissed reply, and Faith rolled her eyes. Clearly it was going to be up to her to set things straight so that they could return to more important issues.

"Don't tell me that you're actually letting what they said get to you." She tried to inject a fair amount of incredulity into her voice, hoping at the very least to goad the other girl into a response.

"Faith," Cordelia said finally, her voice an agonized whisper, "they could hear us."

Okay, she wasn't exactly following. "Who could hear what?"

"They," Cordelia said, gesturing expansively all around her, "could hear us," she finished, pointing between the two of them, "when we… you know."

"Oh," Faith nearly snorted, completely unsuccessful in keeping the amusement from her voice. "Actually they could hear you, not me. Besides, is that all that's bothering you? Hello, far more important issues to deal with here, namely the rather impressive bruise you're sporting this morning, courtesy of me."

"That," the other girl spat, waving carelessly, "is nothing compared to this. Did you know that they could hear us?"

"Well yeah, Cordy. Sound can travel through bars, you know. They don't quite have the insulating quality of a few feet of concrete," Faith drawled, shaking her head in amazement.

"First of all, don't call me Cordy. Reminds me of that kid with Down's Syndrome on that stupid TV show. Secondly, why didn't you tell me?" Cordelia's voice was getting progressively higher as she continued to speak, and Faith was fairly certain that soon she'd hit a register that only dogs could hear.

"What kid with DS?" For some reason, it seemed important to go ahead and clarify that now.

"You know… Corky. He was in that show with Rob Lowe's younger brother, who had AIDS and everybody was scared of him," Cordelia replied, irritated that her rant had been interrupted to provide unnecessary background details.

"Everybody was scared of some poor retarded kid with AIDS?" Faith was highly confused now. Who the hell put that kind of thing on TV?

"Rob Lowe's brother had AIDS, not Corky. And don't call him retarded. It's not nice," she replied haughtily.

"Well excuse me for not being politically fucking correct in the middle of what has to be one of the stupidest arguments that I have ever engaged in. Do you mind if we return to the main topic now?" Faith was almost shouting herself at this point, and took a moment to back down and take a calming breath.

"The fact that you knew that other people could hear us and didn't tell me does not qualify as stupid," the seer countered, her rage back at full throttle now that it had been redirected to the main point of her aggravation.

"Jesus, C. Did you think that the bars magically prevented all sound from escaping?" Faith asked sarcastically.

"I… I… And why did she just make fun of me. You were making the same noises later on. Oh Cordelia… please… please, oh please fuck me… yes, like that… God yes…" the tall brunette taunted, irritated beyond measure when the only reaction her little diatribe provoked was a seductive little smile.

"Yeah, but I was quiet when I did it. No need to put on a show for the whole cell block, unlike some other overly-dramatic Sunnydale natives that I could mention," Faith teased because, well, it was just so damn fun.

"I am not overly dramatic," the accused screamed, pounding a fist on the table in anger.

"Then I suppose I'm just that much better at making girls scream than you, then," was the lazy reply.

"Oh, I see," Cordelia replied quickly, a hint of tears in her voice.

"Ah fuck," Faith muttered, realizing quickly that the situation had just spiraled from bad to worse. She now had to move quickly from confrontation stage to comforting stage, and it was one that she never really had been good at. "That's not what I meant C, and you know it. Come on baby, you're wonderful, really you are. You know just how to touch me, just how to drive me crazy."

"Really?" Cordelia whispered, looking up with teary hazel eyes.

"Really, I promise," Faith assured her, eyes serious.

"So you're not gonna be mad at yourself for that little accident that you were upset about earlier, are you? Because I don't think that I could handle going through that discussion right now, okay," the other girl said, her voice wheedling.

"No way. No way that you're getting out of this that easily," Faith protested, trailing off as sad hazel eyes caught her own.

"Please," Cordelia prompted, pouting a little for extra measure.

"Well, fuck," Faith muttered, rolling her eyes and letting loose a long sigh. "Fine then. We won't talk about it."

"And you won't get all dark and broody, right."

"Yeah, whatever. No dark and broody," Faith conceded, breaking out in a full-fledged pout of her own that put Cordelia's fake one to shame.

"Wonderful," the other girl replied with a bright smile, chuckling inwardly at Faith's adorable expression. "While we're getting dark and broody problems out of the way, there's something that I wanted to ask you."

Faith cut her eyes suspiciously at an expectant Cordelia, mentally debating whether or not a fragile continued peace was worth sharing and caring time. "You can ask, but I can't guarantee that I'll answer."

"Fair enough. That scar, the one that runs from your shoulder, across your back and ends right under your ribs on the other side," and suddenly Cordelia was tracing the thin line through her shirt, the questioning finger burning against her skin, "doesn't have anything to do with your nightmare, does it?"

Faith grew painfully silent, trying to forget the gentle touch, trying to block out the almost concerned sound of Cordelia's voice, but she found that she couldn't. Voice hard, bitter, she turned to the other girl, her features dark. "I thought Angel and Wesley told you all about my sordid little tale," she taunted, imagining their fragile peace shattering in front of her eyes, but unable to keep herself from lashing out. "Shouldn't you already know the answer to that one? Or is there some specific reason why you might want me to spell it out."

"I'm beginning to think that they didn't know everything." Faith was shocked at the lack of rancor in the reply. Just a calm statement of the facts, and that exploring finger still tracing across her flesh, and it felt like her skin was tightening, cutting off the flow of her breath. She didn't want to talk about this, talk about her weakness and her shame, and she sure as hell wasn't going to bare her soul to Cordelia, who had proven herself less than trustworthy when it came to the careful handling of Faith's admittedly often fragile psyche.

"Whatever." Shrugging away from the light touch, Faith moved quickly around the table, reclaiming her usual seat with a loud thump. Studiously ignoring Cordelia's expectant gaze, she reached for the book that she had started earlier that week, flipping determinedly through the pages until she could focus her unseeing gaze on the blurry words, pretending that she actually cared what they said.

Section 3 Harper Buffy Main Index