Title: 67 Characters In Search Of A Memory
Author: Beer Good
Rating: PG13 except for the swearing
Characters/Pairing: Buffy/Faith...ish. Depends on who you ask.
Warnings: Teenage drunkenness, awkward confessions
Word count: ~1800
67 Characters In Search Of A Memory
Now, let's be clear: Dawn Summers loves her sister very much. Even without all the world-saving, life-sacrificing and general monsters-keeping-away-of, she would still be... y'know, Dawn's big sister. But really, there's a time and a place.
Dawn had tried to hint, point out in passing, and finally outright tell Buffy that there were three, count'em, THREE Slayers in her graduating class. Upshot of which: any hellhounds, giant snakes, suicidal ghosts or basement zombies who tried to interrupt this prom would have bitten off more brains than they can chew. They really didn't need any extra protecting.
"It's just not right," Dawn moaned as they all got into the limo. "This is my prom. I'm supposed to dance, and drink spiked punch, and make out on the dancefloor, and possibly puke in the bathroom."
"Um..." Mia raised her hand.
"Yes, it is your sacred Slayer duty to hold back your Watcher's hair if she barfs. Point is, how the flipping heck am I supposed to do any of that with my sister chaperoning?"
Caridad laughed. "You realise that you kinda blew the teenage rebellion part of it with 'flipping heck', right?"
"I mean," Dawn continued, "She's been wigging out for weeks about this, to the point where the question isn't IF the prom will get attacked by monsters but just which ones. I get that her big high school moments never turned out all that normal, I just don't get why she thinks mine are gonna be just as... um... Oooh!" She got out her cell phone and started pressing buttons. "There," she smiled triumphantly as she snapped her phone shut again. "That should do it."
"What did you do?"
"Just gave her a blast from the past. So, who's packing?" Dawn held out her hand, and Caridad reluctantly passed over the flask of tequila she'd hidden away.
* * *
In her carefully picked lookout corner of the amateurishly decorated high school gym, Buffy flipped her phone open and looked at the text message. So, that's how it is, huh? She knew it.
* * *
In the bar just around the corner from the provisional Slayer HQ, Faith flipped her phone open and looked at the text message. So, that's how it is, huh? Well... fuck that.
* * *
The meeting place was all the way across town, but somehow, despite a desperate race against time, Buffy made it there without any serious damage to her car. She pulled up in front of the little fleabag motel by the side of the road, got out and looked around. It had to be the motel, that's what they'd used for a base last time. Please don't let me be too late to stop it.
Faith stepped out of the shadows, looking ready for a fight.
"Faith. Good, you're here. Let's get this done quickly; you check the rooms, and I'll talk to the manager. Good thing it's dark, it's probably best if they don't see us together. Wouldn't want to let anyone know that we're onto - "
At which point Faith simply slugged her. Not hard - certainly not by their standards - but it caught Buffy completely by surprise, and the next thing she knew she was sitting in the parking lot, dirty water soaking its merry way into her Proper Chaperone dress.
"Faith... what the HELL?"
"I don't believe you, B," Faith spat. "The fucking nerve."
OK, this really wasn't what Buffy needed right now. She got to her feet quickly.
Faith backed off. "What, you're gonna hit me now?"
"Um... You hit me, remember? It was five seconds ago. Even your attention span isn't that short."
"Please. I get one free punch for this cunning stunt of yours." Faith looked utterly miserable, for some reason.
Buffy had had quite enough. "What, do you think I caused this? I'm here for the same reason you are, and in case you didn't know, it's kind of urgent."
"You're a piece of work. You really think all it takes is one little text message and - "
"OK, there's obviously some misunderstanding here. You got a message from Dawn, right?"
"Like you don't know. Hold on." Faith got out her phone and read aloud. "'URGENT Homecoming SF plan back on agn. Meet B rt now motel exit 27.' Your sister spells like shit."
"Right. Which is the same - "
"I mean, having your sister pop the question for ya? What is this, junior high? And then you tell me to my face you don't want to be seen with me, but you still want to..." Faith threw up her hands in exasperation.
Buffy took a deep breath. "Faith... I'm talking about Slayerfest '98. As in, the thing that happened at Homecoming, where a group of hired killers were sent out to hunt and kill every Slayer they could find. Which, by the way, I had to handle myself since you were partying it up at the Bronze. Some of them got away, and according to Dawn's sources they're apparently after us agn... again, and we need to stop them before they turn Dawn's prom into a freaking bloodbath, and as usual that seems to fall on me and me alone. So please, tell me, what in God's name are you talking about?"
Faith took a step closer and opened her mouth to keep yelling, and then her brain reprocessed what Buffy had just said and sent down a big flashing ABORT ABORT ABORT message. Her face took on the sort of look you get when you realise you've just put your foot in it, and even though you're not entirely sure what "it" is, you know it's not something you want to be drag all over the carpet but you should probably have thought of that 30 seconds ago. "...Our date," she finally mumbled, looking down.
"Our... Our date?!?"
Faith took a deep breath and jumped in with both feet. "Yeah. You didn't have a date for Homecoming, so I asked you, remember? I even offered..."
"That was a date?"
"... to pick up some guys for us in case you wanted to keep up appearances, but you didn't want that, so I thought we might do more than just kill vamps together..."
"A date date?" Buffy was still in processing mode.
"... so I got dressed up, went along with your buddies' plan to have you and Cor share a limo, waited for you, ruined Scott Hope's date... and then when you turned up you stayed for about ten seconds and didn't even look at me before taking off again. Figured you chickened out."
"And that's the first thing that pops into your head when you hear the words 'Homecoming SF plans'? SF as in Slayerf..." Faith just shrugged, so Buffy continued. "OK, first of all, I didn't 'chicken out'. I'd spent hours fighting for my life, and I really needed a bath and some clean clothes."
Faith dragged a hand through her hair and continued her staring contest with the ground. "It worked for ya," she mumbled. "Dirty, sweaty, ripped dress..."
"STOP!" Buffy flailed briefly before calming down. "OK, this is weird. Sorry. But I really didn't mean... For starters, I'm not, I mean, best friend gay for years and there's nothing wrong with that but - "
"We're the Chosen Two, B. 'Least I thought so back then, with all the funky dreams and late night slaying and stuff. I don't think Willow's books have a word for that." Faith got out an empty Lucky Strike package and fiddled with it; there was a pile of stomped-out cigarette butts at her feet. "Look, point is, I'm over it. I did a lot of stupid shit when I was 16, and having a crush on you wasn't nearly the worst. I was just... it took a lot of work to come to terms with it, all of what I did, and then when I got this text message I figured you hadn't gotten any since Sunnydale - "
" - and you were surrounded by hormonal teenagers and figured I'd be an easy... hell, I dunno. I just never thought I'd get a booty call from you. I freaked." Faith put the cigarette package back in her pocket and raised her chin. "And I guess I owe you a free punch."
It was Buffy's turn to cross her arms and fidget. "You were evil," she finally mumbled.
"And that's a turn-off for you since when? And besides, that was later."
"I know. But I had... I mean, there was... Even if I'd..." Buffy sighed and changed subjects. "We should probably talk about this. But maybe after we stop Slayerfest '05?"
Faith shoved her hands in her pockets. "Sure we will. So what do we know?"
"Just what Dawn texted us. I guess one of her sources must have tipped her off, I know how much she's been looking forward to tonight and she wouldn't send us all the way across town if it wasn't..." Buffy paused as a lightbulb flashed over her head (technically, on the sign above the motel, but close enough for symbolism) and put her hand over her eyes. "...Oh. I'm an idiot."
* * *
The doors flew open and Buffy walked in with purpose. "OK, where's Dawn?" The gym was full of partying teenagers but conspicuously lacking in demons, vampires (Texan or otherwise), terrorists or anything more threatening than a few football players. That wasn't the only thing missing, though. "Um... OK, seriously, where's Dawn?" Buffy started to weave her way through the crowd, getting increasingly worried. Finally she caught sight of Caridad. "Where's Dawn?"
Caridad grinned as she removed a bloody hanky from her nose. "She's throwing up in the bathroom. Too much tequila. Don't worry, Mia's looking out for her."
"Oh." Buffy gave the three jocks crowding Caridad a suspicious look. "What's going on here?"
"Dude, you wouldn't believe it!" one of the jocks gushed. "We were hanging out in the alley and these messed-up guys tried to bite us, but then Carrie here showed up and beat the crap out of them. It was awesome. Hey, can I get you another icepack? A drink? Cake?" Caridad, obviously not complaining about the attention, shooed Buffy away.
"So, everything under control?" Faith was hanging back at the DJ booth.
"A little too much," Buffy grumbled. "Ever get the feeling we're getting old?"
Faith shrugged. They stood listening to the music for a while. At least the DJ was pretty good.
Buffy finally asked, "You really ruined Scott Hope's date?"
"Unless his girlfriend was a lot skankier than she looked."
"You know, Scott's..."
"Never mind." They both frowned and grew quiet as the next song started with a familiar-sounding 90s technobeat. As the riff kicked in and they both recognized it (She burns friends like a piece of wood) Buffy and Faith turned to each other and simultaneously asked
"Did you have him play this? ...No!"
"Did you have him play this? ...No!"
"Huh." Buffy looked out at the dancefloor and nodded slowly to herself while thinking about how selective memories were funny things. "You know, that thing I owed you?"
Faith rolled her eyes. "What, you wanna punch me in front of everyone?"
"I was thinking more along the lines of a homecoming dance."
And Faith cocked her head, shot Buffy a long look and finally nodded. "What the hell. Let's show the kids how it's done."