Glamourous Rags

Woo!Hoo! And Then Uh!Uh!

'No, C,' Faith said, looking at me with weary sultry eyes. 'Not there.'

'What gave you the idea that there would work? ' she said. ' I thought you knew your way around bodies. You seem to be able to find other places quickly enough.'

'Just tell me where,' I said, anxious to please my lover. 'I need to get this right.'

'At least an inch lower. And an inch over to the left. And it would be a lot more comfortable if you go from the wrist and only use the elbow to follow through. We really don't want you straining any muscles.'

'Ahh, yes,' she sighed. 'That's better. That's more like it. Now again.'

She really knew how to show a girl a good time. In a Slayery sort of way.

' You have to be able to do it fast, at a moving target,' she went on. 'Don't think; just breathe and do it.'

I was breathing too hard to think of a snappy comeback, just hoping she wouldn't ever finish a sentence with 'grasshopper', because that would have been just too humiliatingly corny.

'After all, they're not going to stand still and wait for you to stake them.' She added.

So I did it again and again as she swung the dummy back and forth across the alley where she had set it up. You could tell it was supposed to be a vamp because she'd painted a smiley face on it, with fangs.

When I think about Faith, the word that comes to mind isn't beautiful. Or terrifying.

It's cute. Heartstopping, heartbreaking cute.

I staked the vampdummy time and again until my muscles were sore and I was pouring sweat from as many places as the dummy was oozing kapok. I was tired beyond tired and happy almost beyond happy because I knew that soon we would be in bed and someone would be licking that sweat off me a drop of salty goodness at a time.

Also, dating a Slayer, too humiliating to be baggage, to be running screaming turning ankle girl. Just about good enough when you're the girlfriend of the comedy sidekick, but even that got old. That night running through the woods with Buffy, I'd felt so useless, and I don't even like her. The only thing that made it not such a bad memory was dissing that redneck vamp till he bled from the eyes - but not every demon is so much of a wuss that sarcasm is going to be your friend.

It was weird how we had started getting into a routine, which felt strange. Faith had never struck me as keeping-to-routine girl, and -well- routine was something housekeepers and maids did for me. And I had started to learn, even BF, because of all the things I had to fit into each wonderful day of my wonderful life of poverty.

People shouted at me when I was late; I couldn't get over that. I never shout at people who are tardy with me; I just raise an eyebrow or say something moderately hurtful, but I never shout. So it was really unfair that people shouted at me. I mean, isn't karma supposed to work on fixed prices or something?

And she was so good at things I needed to know - so much better than me at folding clothes and making beds - she really had a thing about hospital corners - and so strict about making me do those things her way. Which was kind of fair, because we had discovered that it was a lot of fun if I was strict about doing other things my way - and those never became a routine.

It was just - we were always in a hurry. I had to be in school or at the dress shop or at the diner. She had to be training and patrolling. We both had to put in appearances at the Bronze, and sometimes my mother was sober enough that I had to be at the apartment to make her black coffee or mix her another Martini. And somehow we'd find time to be together in her motel room and make love, but even then it was so much of the time smooch and run.

It wasn't even as if we could turn up at the Bronze together, or even hang out there, much. I wasn't ashamed of her, because god! anyone who had been out with Devon, let alone Xander, knows no shame, right. And I had so little reputation to lose at this point that being known to have suddenly become some enormous dyke would probably have improved my social standing.

After all, I had all those cool new skills. Not easy to get my hand inside leather trousers that tight without breaking a nail on the waistband. Girls rule! - guys just never manage that one, even without the nails.

But I was not even a bit going to let Xander off the hook. If he knew, well, first of all, it would just be part of his shabby little sexual fantasies forever; I know that boy, and there is something deeply sleazy going on inside that head far too often for anyone to let him think of warm cute girl bodies twining round each other. So sleazy! And then he would decide that he had done me this enormous favour by letting me catch him with witchy-poo and dump him, because it let me discover my true self, or something like that. So Seventies! So boooring!

Same applies to witchy-poo, only more so, because anyone with that mad hippy mother is going to have sucked up psychobabble with bad dress sense and a taste for granola. If there is one thing I hated the idea of more than Willow sucking Xander's face, it would be her being all sensitive and reaffirming round me. And probably offering me her old dungarees.

I wouldn't have minded Buffy knowing, much, except tell her anything and you've told those two, unless it's something about her and Angel, in which case it's suddenly off-limits and she gets that cold killer eye thing she does and her blondiness goes all steely and Germanic on you. Like we don't have the right to know when he's going to get happy and psychotic on us again.

And Faith didn't want her to know, because telling Buffy something Slayerish means telling Mr. Tweedy. Now, you'd think that after coping with Buffy mamboing with a vampire, they'd be OK about Faith and me; after all, pulse, reflection, no sudden aversion to religious jewellery? But she thought that they might be sensitive about us.

'They're wicked old-fashioned, C,' she said. 'You met Kendra, right? From what everyone tells me, she was what they want Slayers to be like - all good girl, yes Mr. Watcher, lower your eyes if you see a boy. '

I'd never seen her shudder.

'They think B is a wild child, for chrissake,' she went on, 'and I'm sure they'd just love to bust my ass off to Limeyland to cut out the badness. Gwen Post was a big bad bitch, OK, who lied to me and tricked me, and I'm sort of glad B. killed her dead, though I did think she was hot, till I met you. But they didn't much like my first Watcher either - strong women not big in Watcherland I'm thinking. Which is weird given what Slayers are, but go figure. And my guess is that they wouldn't be big on us - B. gets slack cut, coz she's the real Slayer. Me, I'm the spare.'

And it was kind of hot, being in the same room and not speaking, just catching each other's smile across a dance floor, or trailing a hand across each other's back as if we weren't even noticing the other was there. After all, I'd sort of done all this before with Xander, only I knew how to be way more subtle than that now. Faith, now that girl was a quick study, or maybe she'd done it before as well. There were questions I just did not want to be asking her right now.

It's also weird how when you are in a new space, you start noticing stuff, and you think 'God, was I that shallow and blind?'. I mean, was there always that much action going on in the Bronze's powder room? Or did Faith and I just cast some sort of spell by meeting in there to make out some more?

I mean, there we are, necking frantically in one cubicle, hands all over each other and only just stopping short of tearing clothes off, and we can hear the smoochy noises from the next one, and after a bit we stop, and open the door, and so do they. And we peek out, and so do they.

Aura? and Nancy? Too strange and disturbing to think how long that had been going on in the washrooms of Sunnydale High. So much more the odd couple than us, we liked to think when we talked about it afterwards.

Of course we were living dangerously - that was part of the fun, part of the hot. Sooner or later people were going to know, and then we would live with the consequences. But secrets were just another thing to share when we had so little, either of us. One day, I was going to have to talk to Aura, though; I mean, I thought I knew everything that went on in the sheep's heads, and then I find that one of my formerly supposedly loyal suspects has been keeping things from me.

One night there were a bunch of sailors eating in the diner and slamming bottles of vodka on the table and tipping everyone in small value notes from all over the world - people say it's the thought that counts, but when you're waiting tables, it really is the money. So Bill the cook was going to keep the place open as long as they wanted him to, because they wee at least paying their bills in real dollars.

It was one of those nights that starts with me doing up all the buttons on my waitress outfit, and pulling the skirt down as far as it goes, and sooner or later ends with me treading hard on some guy's instep when he pushes the idea of good service, with a smile, further than I like.

Faith turned up to find me when I didn't show on the corner where we were meeting and sashayed in the joint all leather and lips and eyes. Which at least took all those hungry eyes on me, only slightly to spoil the effect when she walked up and planted a big wet kiss on my mouth, grabbed a plate of Bill's runny scrambled eggs off my serving tray and smashed it into the face of a sailor who had come up behind her and tried to stick his hand down the back of her pants. Without, I need not say, any success.

Which, of course, all his friends found so amusing they squirmed in their seats as if they were about to fall over and roll on the floor clutching their sides, or break into one of those dances where they squat on the ground and kick a lot. So very culturally diverse of them, I thought.

Faith, of course, joined in with them, slapping the guy she'd smeared with someone else's egg on the back and pointing at herself and at me and making quite unequivocal sign language remarks, and being slapped on the back by the sailors. I'd never quite seen Faith work a room full of guys before like this, and it was like seeing all that cute turned in another direction.

Which was, as it happened, a passing disturbing thought because suddenly a long thin tentacle darted in through the door Faith had left open and some more smashed their way in through the diner's front window, and coiled their way round the necks of the sailors and other diners that were nearest and pulled them schlloooop! out into the street. Yucky sucking and chewing sounds followed.

When more tentacles came in, sailors started producing knives from every pocket and hacking away like industrious little sushi chefs; I dashed into the kitchen and got Bill's big cleaver; Faith needed more than a stake for this one.

'Go on, sweet thing, ' I said pecking her on the cheek. ' Make calamari for me.'

She dashed towards the door hacking tentacles freehand as she went.

I realised she'd probably flunked biology and shouted after her ' Eyes are good and squishy; beak's dangerous; and eeuw ! watch for nasty speary thing they use for sex.'

I picked up one of the other cleavers and joined in the slicing and dicing - it kept me occupied but I did still feel a bit on the outside of it all. Faith was bouncing up and down outside the picture window doing serious damage and splattering everything in sight with demon goo. Then it tried to stab her with its speary thing and she snapped it off and plunged it into one of those huge starey eyes and straightaway it did one of those demon squishy things and all of the bits we'd chopped off wriggled off in all directions melting into water as they went.

Which rather disappointed Bill the Cook, because he'd been gathering them up, having heard my remark about calimari. Dead demon probably not a good idea for a special.

Faith strutted back into the diner waving clasped hands above her head like she was some sports star and did a lap of honour, turning down drinks at every table; no-one ever appreciated what a clean-living girl she is.

And finally she got to me, looked up at me and said, ' Hey, C; no down in the dumps, right? You have to leave some of the slaying for me, and you did fine being watcher-girl. Bet Giles wouldn't have remembered the speary thing.'

It was so sweet of her to think of my feelings that I grabbed her where we stood and kissed her all over again. It really didn't matter that the sailors were enjoying it so much.

Then a voice I knew cut in from a table where he had been sitting with his face obscured with one of the sailor's berets and the shoulders of two sailors he had been snuggling up against.

'I knew it,' Larry said. 'Gaydar never lies.'

'Knew what?' Faith said, with that dangerous note creeping into her voice. 'And who are you?'

'Faith, Larry. Larry, Faith,' I said, social graces taking over. 'Slayer of vampires and assorted demons, Captain of Sunnydale High Football team. Knew what, Larry?'

'That you and Xander was some kind of huge front, ' he said. 'Well, I've known about him ever since he came out to me in the shower room that time, so I always wondered about you - always surrounded by little femmes like Harmony, always overcompensating. Classic beard thing.'

'So Xander's gay?', Faith said with dark merriment in her eyes. 'You never told me that, C.'

'Xander! Came out! In the shower room!', I spluttered. 'When was this? I mean, I know he was upset that I dumped him, but...'

'Last year, ' Larry said. ' He was so sweet. I don't think I could have come out without his talking to me.'

His sailors pulled at his elbows, and he gave each of them a big kiss.

'I mean,' he went on. 'You have only to look at the way he acts around good-looking guys. He's always so nervous - I think that's cute.'

Memories of Xander going on about how evil Angel was flashed before my eyes, of Xander bonding with Oz, of Xander being insulting to Giles ...This was all too confusing and eeeuw!

'I think,' I said,' that there has been some vast misunderstanding along the line, somewhere.'

'Yes,' Larry said, ' but I'd have always said that if there was any doubt, it would have been about you, Cordy. Cute honey, by the way. I always knew that you could do better for yourself if you tried. Harmony's so trashy.'

And then he went back to concentrating on his sailors.

'Gee, thanks,' Faith said. 'So, C, the ex was cheating on you all the time.'

The idea seemed to excite her; she was so much the bad girl.

'Xander's not gay,' I said, wishing I was as certain as I sounded, and wondering why I would care.

'And what's all this about you and Harmony?', she went on.

'Oh, as if,' I said. 'Blond piece of treachery with mythical boyfriends.'

'So I was your first?' she said. 'Really?'

'Why would I start anywhere but with the best?' I answered, and was rewarded with a tongue down my throat, hands in surprising places and another cheer from the sailor-boys.

By the time we'd got rid of all the sailors, especially Larry's who kept on trying to get Bill to come back to the ship and make it a foursome - luckily, I don't think he understood, it was too late to do anything but go back to Faith's room and sleep like dead things, like deader than dead things.

Next night, Faith was back really late, and in a foul mood.

'They really ought to do something about that fag ex-boyfriend of yours,' she said. 'He tries so wicked hard to be real manly, but all he ever does it get in the way of the slay. '

'I used to be like that,' I said.

'So you tell me,' Faith said.' But you're not a passenger now. I don't like Red, or Red doesn't like me - bad chemistry there. But respect where it's due - she did a handy fog spell last night. All Xander managed was get his fool head punched.'

'What was it last night, anyway?'

'Some big blue demon bulldaggers. Giles said they were an apocalypse cult. I did one with a sword they had that was this long. Jeez, that was cool!'

She stretched her arms out boastfully and then we pounced on each other. She needed that post- Slay release and I just wanted to get laid, wanted to nuzzle down between her breasts and make bouncy music between her thighs.. I couldn't get over how wonderful it was having sex with her almost every night, there in that small room with its rickety double-bed and clanky shower.

I was still so happy next morning that I might almost have forgotten to be mad at Xander, except I saw him prancing around with a football, trying to get the attention of some jocks and fumbling helplessly. He fell over himself and managed to bounce the ball all over someone - and of course it turned out to be psycho Jack, the worst element in the school, and I found myself wondering just how much of an accident it had been. He came back over looking guilty-happy like a puppy bitch that had been bounced at by the big dogs.

Maybe Larry knew more about him than I did, I thought, and he really does get in my sweetie's way. So I was rude to him, for several minutes. With his best interests at heart of course. Well, kind of. And there was no part of it that wasn't fun.

Next day, Faith caught me on the way out of school.

'Need to talk,' she said, looking hard bitch and little girl at the same time.

We got in my car and drove to one of those convenient dark alleys Sunnydale's industrial district specialised in.

'World might end tonight,' she said. 'Just wanted to say I love you and kiss you one last time. Gonna be busy later, slayage and all.'

And then she burst into tears, which was not something I'd ever expected her to do.

Trouble with the Hellmouth is the end of the world comes by quite often; Faith hadn't been here for the last three, so I could understand her taking it a bit more seriously than I did. Still, best not pass up on a chance to make out, just in case.'

So I rang the dress shop,and called in sick, and we went round to the apartment - Mother was off somewhere which suited me just fine, not having to bond with her or explain Faith.

Faith was at her most tender that afternoon. She wanted things slow and romantic, not our usual crazed weasel frenzy, and that suited me too; it was nice to know that sentimental was in our vocabulary too, because I had started to think rough and slutty was the only way I could go with her.

Mostly, we kissed each other and held hands a lot, and held each other and cried. I'd got caught up in her panic - she was so out of character she obviously really did think it was the end. And I got out of her that Giles was quite panicky too, and that really did worry me. A lot.

After a bit, she had to go off and be Slayery, so I kissed her one last time and told her to come back safe for me. And she wiped her eyes, and redid her eyes, and painted her lips, and pulled on her leather trousers, and suddenly she was Faith again, and not the worried child I had found myself with for the last two hours.

I wasn't going to skip the diner as well - I might as well keep myself occupied and I wandered uptown to hang, in case I saw anyone I might want to say a non-scary goodbye too. And of course I saw Xander, with this ridiculous Chevy he'd turned up in that morning, buying doughnuts as if this was an ordinary crisis.

So I mocked him again; the end of the world did not mean I was going to forgive him. Besides, they'd obviously not told him how serious things were, and if I'd been nice, it would have scared him. Even Xander is bright enough to work that one out. As it was, he had some floozy all over him and the car; well, I thought, if he wants to end his life in a state of terminal confusion...

Nothing happened; the world didn't end; I worked at the diner then went home.. When there is nothing more you can do, you just do what you have got to do. And I worried a lot, but I got some sleep.

Next day at school, I could see Giles and Willow and Buffy sitting with Oz. Giles was pretty banged up, but at least we were all still here. I really hated that I couldn't just walk over and ask whether Faith was OK, and when I saw Xander walk away from them with some kind of idiot smirk, I decided it was time for his daily dose of sneer.

But it was all water off his back - he smirked some more, and kept on walking.

I stood there, wondering what had got into the boy.

I had two free periods at the start of the afternoon and so I drove over to the motel, knocked on the door and let myself into the room with the spare key Faith had given me. Normally I respected her privacy, but wanting to know whether she was alive or dead went way beyond privacy, I decided.

She wasn't there; surely someone would have said something if she'd been hurt. But how would they know I'd even care? Trouble with being Queen Cordy, nastiest girl in Sunnydale High, is no-one expects you to have normal consideration for someone you're supposed only to know slightly.

So I sat on her bed and held her damp bathtowels like a comfort blanket, revelling in her sweet smell and sure that she must be all right. And then I realised what was bothering me about the room; the sheets were all rumpled and there was a smell in the room I knew almost as well as Faith's.

Xander's cheap bulk-purchase deodorant.

No wonder he looked at me so smugly.

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