The Inexpensive Counteroffensive
A/N: Disclaimer, crossover, spoilers, etc. are all given in chapter 1.Knock-knock-knock
. “Penny!” Knock-knock-knock
. “Penny!” Knock-knock-knock
Penny was still struggling to get ready, because she’d had a lot of trouble sleeping after last night’s visit from Harmony Kendall. And then when she did fall asleep, she had nightmares about being attacked by vampires. So she was running late and she was really tired, even after a brisk shower and two cups of coffee.
She walked over to the door to see who it was, because it didn’t sound like Buffy, but maybe it was Maria. It was definitely a girl, and way not Harmony.
She opened the door and froze.
It was Faith. And she looked pissed.
On the other hand, Faith looked like she’d spent the night at Xander’s place, because she had that ‘extremely well boinked’ look. And she was still wearing a nice black minidress that showed off a ton of cleavage. And some killer black heels.
But other than the whole ‘did it with Xander all night long and still wearing last night’s dress’ look, Faith looked mad enough to rip Polgara demons apart with her bare hands.
Penny had heard stories, but she had never imagined that Furiously Angry Faith was pretty much The Incredible Hulk. Without changing size or turning green. And why did she have to make comic book references when she was about to be torn limb from limb? She was hanging out with Leonard too much.
Faith pushed the door the rest of the way open and stomped on in, and stomping in a pair of high heels like those was tricky. She slammed the door shut and said, “You are dead meat.”
Penny lied, “I got delayed. Harmony Kendall showed up with a note for Buffy. You know Harmony?”
“Bimbo vamp? Got just enough sense not to try working on her tan anymore? Voted ‘most embarrassing vampire’ five years running by Vamps Weekly?”
Penny wondered, “There’s a weekly magazine for vampires?” Faith just glared at her. “Oh. Right. Sarcasm. I’ve been spending too much time near Sheldon. It’s contagious.”
Faith stepped right into Penny’s personal space. “I don’t like people fuckin’ with my personal life. It’s called ‘personal’ for a reason! And now everything’s totally screwed, and it’s all your fault, dammit! How’m I gonna explain this ta Little D? Fuck, how am I gonna explain this ta Red and not get my skin ripped off? How am I supposed ta explain this ta Xander?
Penny took a careful step backward. “Maybe you don’t have to explain it to anyone. I… sort of checked with some people yesterday to make sure you going out with Xander wouldn’t be a problem.”
“I thought you said you got hung up with Harmony!”
Penny took another careful step backward. “Okay, that was later. Like nine thirty. So maybe I planned the whole dinner thing to give you and Xander another chance. Because he still really likes you, and he’s lonely, and he deserves someone special.”
“I ain’t no one special,” Faith grumbled. “The only ways I’m special are like ‘special ed’. They’re all ways no one wants you ta be special.”
Penny said, “I talked to Dawn. She thought you’d be really good for Xander now that he’s lost Anya and everything. And Willow emailed me and said she thought you were a much better person than you were back then and maybe Xander was mature enough now to appreciate the good things about you, instead of just staring at… umm… The Wonder Twins.”
Penny still couldn’t believe Willow really said that in an email, even if she was gay. And besides, Penny had a pair that was just as good as Faith’s! Maybe better! And she could definitely come up with a better name than ‘the Wonder Twins’.
Faith blinked in surprise. “Red really called ‘em ‘The Wonder Twins’? I am so givin’ K some shit over that.”
Penny knew ‘K’ had to be Kennedy, but she didn’t think that giving Kennedy grief over Willow would be a good idea, even if you were a Slayer.
Faith pointed at Penny with one finger and poked her in the chest. It was like getting rammed with the end of a steel pipe. Penny hastily backed up some more. Faith fumed, “X is such a lightweight. Y’know, he doesn’t drink. Well, hardly ever, except on special occasions, ‘cause his dad was almost as crappy a parent as my mom. Not that he ever says so. And the food was fuckin’ awesome
. Best Italian I ever had, and there’s plenty of great Italian in Boston. And every course had a wine with it. Some a’ that shit probably cost a mint. I hope you know a stiff like Lorraine ain’t gonna pay for that outta Council accounts.”
Penny gulped and admitted, “I asked Buffy to sign off on it.”
Faith looked like she might just tear Penny in half on the spot. “B knows too? P, you are so
Penny said, “Buffy told me one night, okay maybe we both had too much tequila that night, that sometimes Xander talks about all the things he screwed up when they still lived in Sunnydale, and Xander still thinks he should have been able to help you, and if he hadn’t been a complete dork he would have realized you were living in a shithole and the Scoobies needed to help you a long time before the thing with the deputy mayor.”
Faith looked like she wanted to kick something over. Like a building. “X? He’s kiddin’ himself. There’s a reason the demons call him the Slayers’ White Knight. What could a still-underage teenager with no money and no job have done for me? Not like his folks woulda let me stay in their house, and Red was pissed at me for busting up her only real girl friendship, and Buffy had way too many headaches already. What did I do when I saw Red was gettin’ all upset about me pushin’ her outta Buffy’s BFF spot? I rubbed it in, just ta be an even bigger bitch. God, I screwed up so much.”
Penny said, “You were a teenager. Screwing up is what teenagers do best. It isn’t like every one of them didn’t screw up too. Tons of times.”
Faith glared at her. “Did I say I wanted a shrink? No!”
Penny said, “I wasn’t playing shrink. I was just playing… matchmaker, okay?”
Faith fumed, “Yeah, I know that. But I still hadda get a drunk Xander over to his hotel room after the last course. That dessert wine was fuckin’ awesome, but X shouldn’t a’ split that little bottle with me. He was so fuckin’ drunk it wasn’t funny. Okay, it was funny. X is a really cute drunk. His old man’s a mean drunk, but X is a riot.”
Her face fell. “Well, he was a riot right up until I was gettin’ him outta his suit and tryin’ ta get him ta drink a couple glasses a’ water so he wouldn’t be totally hung over in the morning. And he had ta go tell me how much he missed me, and Cordy, and Anya, and how he ruined every relationship he tried ta make work, and I was the only one left he could even apologize to and tell her how much he loved her.” Faith suddenly looked like she might cry. “Why did he have ta say something like that?”
Penny knew she was taking her life in her hands, but she still said, “I guess you accepted his apology.”
Faith glared at her. It was one hell of a glare, too. Faith growled, “I still ain’t sure I’m gonna accept that apology. But I kissed him. And he kissed me back. And he was really drunk, but he still called me ‘Faith’ instead a’ Anya. Or Cordy. Or Willow. And maybe I still like him. And for a drunk guy, he’s got stamina like a porn star. He’s got way better in the sack since I popped that cherry for him. I guess Cordy and Anya were pretty demanding, or somethin’.”
Penny asked, “So, why’s that a bad thing? You two like each other. You’re a really cute couple.”
Faith threw her an angry glare that could have peeled the paint off the walls. Okay, she wasn’t going to call Faith ‘cute’ anymore.
Penny tried again, “You’re a good person, working hard to do good things. You deserve a chance with someone like Xander.”
Faith glared, “You don’t know jack shit about me! The stuff I’ve done… You can’t make up for shit like that. I don’t deserve someone good like X. Hell, Anya sure didn’t. And Queen C sure didn’t back when she was datin’ him. What C deserved back then was a great big kick right in the c-”
Penny interrupted, “Cordelia’s gone. Anya’s gone. What’s so wrong with making him happy with you being there for him?”
Faith picked up Penny’s coffee cup. “You don’t understand. I don’t deserve something good like that in my life.” The coffee cup shattered in her hand like Faith had run over it with a tank. “Are ya happy now? I don’t deserve it! And what’s X gonna think when he wakes up?”
Penny tried, “Maybe that you care about him too? Maybe that you’d like to try again and see if you could work something out? Look, I understand the whole ‘afraid to get more serious’ thing, because that’s totally me when it comes to Leonard. I’ve screwed up so many times in my life. I don’t want to screw things up for him too. But you know what the difference is between you and me?”
“You’re not a psycho killer who oughta be rotting away in a supermax prison?”
Penny insisted, “You’re not either. If you were really psycho, the things you did wouldn’t eat at you the way they do, and you wouldn’t try so hard to punish yourself for doing them. As for the other part, just ask Xander if he’d kill to protect you, or any other Slayer.”
Faith shrugged, “Hell, he’d kill to protect Kennedy, and she’s about his least fave Slayer out there. He’s that kind of guy. He put his ass on the line to save Red when things went south, and you got no idea how scary Red can be when she’s gone all Dark Side a’ the Force. He’s still got the scars on his chest from that. All us girls got superpowers, but he’s the fuckin’ hero. He’s done some a’ the dumbest shit in history to save B, and Red, and me, and K, and plenty of other Slayers.”
Penny softly said, “Sounds to me like he deserves the woman he really wants, even if she doesn’t think she deserves him. And the difference between me and you? Not just the superpowers, but you have the courage to use ‘em. I couldn’t do what you do.”
Faith frowned, “You’re dead wrong on that, P. If you got the powers, you’d be out there too. It’s an urge. You don’t get to say ‘oh no I’m too scared’ because you got this drivin’ urge
ta get out there and track ‘em down and beat the holy fuck outta ‘em and then stake ‘em or chop ‘em up. It’s a part of the First Slayer. It’s a part a’ all us Slayers. We’re wild animals who got a handful of demon shoved down our throats so we’re stronger and faster and more fuckin’ dangerous. Doesn’t matter how fancy-pants candy-assed you started out, when you get that Slayer power, you’re a monster. Jus’ that some a’ us are more of a monster than others.”
She finally realized she was holding the shards of Penny’s coffee cup, and she dusted off her hand. “K may be a rich bitch, and a snob, and self-centered, but she deserves Red because when it came down to it, she was ready to do what it took ta save the world. She was ready ta die for it. She was ready ta kill her lover if that was what it took. Me? Not so noble.”
Penny sat down next to Faith and said, “What you’re doing is
noble. It’s tougher than what other Slayers are doing, because you don’t believe you deserve ‘easy’. But you’re making up for what you did. You’re putting your life on the line. You’re risking yourself to protect others. Faith, you are
a hero. Sheldon and Amy were talking about this, and I had to ask them to dumb it down for me, but it’s a lot harder to be the one who screwed up and has to come back from that, than being the perfect one who didn’t make the slip and gets to coast downhill from there. You’ve seen ‘Avatar: the Last Airbender’?”
Faith nodded. “The baby Slays can’t get enough of the violent ‘toons.”
Penny said, “In the end, who’s more courageous? Aang or Zuko? Who’s more of a heroic figure? Aang gets the girl, and he gets the attention, and he gets the big dramatic scenes, but who has it harder? Zuko. Zuko has to come back from the dark side. He has to choose to be good, and he has to make hard decisions, and he has to make the tough calls. All Aang has to do is figure out how to win without killing the bad human.”
Faith stared at her hands for long seconds before she finally said, “Ya know what, P? That’s a damn good analogy. And that’s why you totally suck.”
Faith stood up, put her hands on Penny’s shoulders, and lifted her to her feet like Penny was weightless. She glared into Penny’s face. “Strip. Bare-assed. Now.”
Penny gulped, “Umm, Faith, I don’t swing that way.”
Faith leered at her, and then said, “That ain’t what’s gonna happen, P. No, you’re about ta learn that payback’s a bitch. Now shut up and get those clothes off. You got thirty seconds, and then I’m rippin’ everything else off. One… Two…”
Penny managed to get her new shoes and her nice blouse and skirt off in time, but that was it. Faith hooked the sides of Penny’s bra with two index fingers, and ripped it apart like it was made of toilet paper. Faith grabbed Penny’s panties and gave her a wicked wedgie while she tore the panties to shreds. Then she marched a bare naked Penny back into the bedroom.
While Penny stood there, hunched over, with an arm across her breasts and a hand over her crotch, Faith growled, “Okay, matchmaker. Make with the matches. Show me the nastiest, sluttiest dress you got, and the sexiest heels you got to go with. Or we’re movin’ to spankies. And I don’t think you want to find out what it feels like ta get a spanking from a pissed-off Slayer.”
Penny whimpered a little, but she showed Faith the sexpot dresses she had, on the left side of the closet. Most of them were sexy enough for Hollywood starlets to wear to Hollywood parties.
And that was how she ended up wearing the shortest dress in her closet, and no bra, and not even a thong, and the matching five-inch heels. And riding to work on the back of Faith’s Harley, which was one of the most terrifying experiences of her life. She spent the whole ride trying not to scream or pee herself, and desperately hanging onto Faith’s waist with both arms. But that meant she couldn’t keep the back of her dress from flying up constantly, so she ended up showing off her butt to what felt like a quarter of Pasadena.
She ran in past the Slayer on receptionist duty, who gave her a big smirk, and she ran down the hall past Lorraine – oh God, why did Lorraine have to be standing out in the hall now – to her little office. Okay, she definitely wasn’t going to piss Faith off anymore. At least she had a t-shirt and a pair of exercise shorts rolled up in her desk drawer in case of a big spill, so she wasn’t going to be stuck looking like this all day.
She just hoped Xander wasn’t mad at her too, because he’d probably do something even worse, like make all her furniture in her apartment fall apart.
Or he’d ask Willow to do something. Penny gulped.