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Title: The Skin You're In
Author: EntreNous (entrenous88)
Fandom: Buffyverse
Pairing: Buffy & Faith
Rating: PG
Summary: When Buffy sees Faith.
Disclaimer: All Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters herein are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and affiliated production companies. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warnings: highlight to read **mild references to violence**
Word Count: 520
Author's Notes: For lokifan, who asked for "Buffy/Faith, simple." Gah, this is more gen than I wanted (why do my recent prompt-fills keep going all gen-ish on me? the next one is going to be filthy-shippy, I hope). But then even Buffy & Faith always has the flavor of Buffy/Faith to me, so I hope this suits.

The Skin You're In

When Buffy saw Faith, she heard the crack of bones, the lurch of that one last breath. She saw the point and the corpse, felt the plunge and the dust, smelled the stale scent of death.

"You okay?" Faith asked, nodding at the petite Slayer training on the mat across the floor, her green eyes flickering over to the two of them, anxious to know what Buffy and Faith thought of her moves.

Buffy took a moment to watch the small fighter using a series of punches that looked way too familiar. Her red hair, pulled overly-tight in a ponytail, bobbed in the sunlight streaming through the windows as she tried an offensive combination.

"Higher on the roundhouse kick," Buffy called out across the gym. "Me?" She turned to Faith, taking a slow deep breath to relax her stance. "Fine. I'm great! Right as ravioli." She bounced on the balls of her feet before she wrinkled her nose. "That's a thing, right?"

"Hell if I know." Faith examined her bruised knuckles. "She's pretty good, huh? Didn't expect her to knock me into the wall, before; that punch I threw landed right on the concrete." She looked up, dark eyes dancing as she thrust her fist a breath away from Buffy's lips. "Kiss 'em better?"

"Shut up." A shake of her head and a small smile, and Faith's fingers uncurled, withdrew.

Faith grinned before she shook out her hand and shifted to her other foot. Her voice held a thread of nervousness when she spoke next. "So I was thinking, if we wanted to split up the patrols again, you could choose which group you wanted to take on this time. I got to choose last month, right?"

Buffy bit the inside of her cheek, because Faith was swagger and red-lipped laughter, a snap of dark hair against a black night sky, not an anxious supplicant for Buffy's approval (supplicant: petitioner, requester. Another SAT word edging into her thoughts; she'd been helping Dawn study).

"You choose again." Buffy shrugged, eyes trained on the girl across the room. "I'm good with whatever." She looked up to see the uncertainty flicker over Faith's face. Two years after Sunnydale, and that layer of anxiety clouding Faith like nearly-visible static still wouldn't go away. It was like Willow in withdrawal, cheerful insistence on everything's great, everything's fine, when underneath there was shaky sadness to scrape away if you wanted to get to the simple part, the sharp, darkly shimmering core.

Buffy made herself give an encouraging nod, same as she did to the girls she trained. Like this. Like me. Stupid, when what she knew bone-deep of Faith wasn't, for all they shared, anything like Buffy.

Faith's nod back was relieved, like she'd been spared another day from the end she'd expected.

When Buffy saw Faith, she saw grey stone, damp grass, moon and starlight playing over that vicious, triumphant smile.

"Okay. Yeah. That's cool," Faith offered. The shift to her other foot was nearly imperceptible.

"Great," Buffy said brightly. She turned toward the girl on the mat, toward the streaming sunlight, and walked away.

*~* the end *~*


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 8th, 2013 02:58 pm (UTC)
I loved this. I loved Buffy's insight and that awful feeling that comes when you have the insight and empathy to understand someone else's motivation but also the knowledge that verbalizing the insight would only make the situaton worse.</p>

(Random: Your disclaimer is still HP and I was initially confused by the lack of crossover, haha!)

Jan. 8th, 2013 03:08 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I love Buffy and Faith's complicated relationship.

And hahahaha, oh my GOD, thank you for pointing that out to me! *facepalms* (pee ess, icon intentional)
Jan. 8th, 2013 05:38 pm (UTC)
Oh wow. Damn that's beautiful and ouchy. Much like Buffy and Faith themselves. Man I miss this universe. And this ship.
Jan. 8th, 2013 07:58 pm (UTC)
Beautiful and ouchy -- that's absolutely lovely to hear. :D Thank you so much! <333
Jan. 8th, 2013 09:38 pm (UTC)
This was wonderful; you capture them so well.
Thank you so much!
Jan. 9th, 2013 01:10 am (UTC)
Thank you for your lovely feedback!
Jan. 9th, 2013 02:47 am (UTC)
This is fantastic. Oh Faith, you hurt my heart, girl. I love Buffy's recognition of what's going on with Faith but that she still doesn't know quite what to do, and the really vivid, perfect images of Faith-as-Buffy-sees-her, and yeah, the way it's nearly-gen except there's this ~vibe between them, always. :D

Jan. 9th, 2013 02:11 pm (UTC)
Oh, yay, I'm so happy you liked how the dynamic between them played out here. Thank you so much!
Jan. 10th, 2013 05:03 am (UTC)
I really like the history here, the layers of memory that color the now. Awesome!

Also, we missed our deadline. Any chance you'll be around Saturday? Do you ever read Avengers fic? /non-sequitur
Jan. 10th, 2013 02:46 pm (UTC)
Thank you, lovely! <3

And I KNOW, gnahhh! We should definitely remedy that. 2013 shall be the year of aimeelicious and entrenous88 being totally in touch!

This Saturday will very likely work! What time(s) are best for you (I think I need your phone #; not sure if you have mine, so maybe email me some possibilities for time along with that info?).

Avengers, nope, not as yet. I wouldn't rule it out, however, given how I'm currently throwing myself into fandoms I never thought I'd so much as dip a toe into.
Jan. 10th, 2013 12:09 pm (UTC)
Loved this. A great ficlet for them. :) (Here via lokifan.)
Jan. 10th, 2013 02:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm really glad this felt appropriate for the pairing to you. :D
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )


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