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Story Notes:
Disclaimer: None of the characters are mine.
Author’s Note: Written for pene for femslash08, and late because I am an idiot who forgot she no longer lives in the eastern time zone.
I. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Faith/Dawn, Faith/Buffy (unrequited)

Dawn tried so hard to be as good as a Slayer.

She would never be as strong they were, so she made sure she stayed smarter. She researched in a dozen languages, and she memorized demons by the score. She named them on command, a power of its own but not nearly enough; she wrote lists of weaknesses and tastes and potential hideouts, gave them all they needed to know to win.

When she found those papers crumpled up and tossed away for stakes and axes and real, true power, she smoothed them flat, returned them to her files, and went on with her studies.

“You ever gonna take a break, kid?”

“I’m not a kid.” A chunk of hair fell into her face; Dawn tucked it behind her ear, but it slipped forward again, and she huffed, the air stirring it.

“Okay then. You ever gonna take a break, girl?” Faith hopped up on the table and sat cross-logged in the center of it. The tip of her boot barely touched the edge of Dawn’s book, but she snatched it away and glared up at her.

“I’m a woman,” Dawn said and slammed the book shut. “And I’ll take a break when I’m done.”

“That’s not really a break, is it?” Faith kicked her boot up on her thigh and picked at the edge of the sole. It was worn. Dawn hated it. She could just go buy new boots, why wait until they fell apart? “If you wait until you’re done, that’s the end of your work.”

“There isn’t an end.” She rolled her eyes. “I’ll take a break when I’m done with this book. Why are you here anyway? Shouldn’t you be out with the Slayers?”

“I have ice cream.”

Even Slayers could be tempted, Dawn thought, and smiled, just a little. It wouldn’t do to make Faith think she liked her or anything. But ice cream, ice cream she loved.

~*~

Dawn didn’t notice when Faith started swinging by regularly. Sometimes she had ice cream. Sometimes she had beer. Dawn preferred the former, but she tried each drink, and let Faith know how much she hated it. Eventually she brought hard cider instead.

She never said very much, she just stretched out on the table or the couch or the ground and finished her treat and listened. She could listen better than anyone else. Willow was almost as good, but she was always trying so hard to understand, and be helpful, and fix things, when all Dawn wanted was someone to hear what she was saying.

And god, she couldn’t talk to Buffy. She was her sister and way too busy.

Faith got it. Her eyes would droop half closed and her whole body would relax but Dawn knew she was always ready to fight and heard every single word. At first, she just talked about whatever she was researching, the demon of the week or advanced mathematics or the music of the stars.

Then it kept happening and she found herself saying all sorts of things, silly things and big things and finally secrets not meant to be spoken.

Faith took them all in stride, she sat and she listened and she kept coming back.

~*~

God, she was so sick of Buffy’s shit. Just because she was Slayer number one and had all these women looking up to her and wanting to be like her – none of it meant she had to be such a bitch.

“I don’t know what’s worse,” Faith said, and sat down next to her. The night was dark, the sky cloudy, and everyone was either inside where it was safe or out patrolling. Dawn pressed a finger to her mouth and gnawed on her knuckle. She had chewed it bloody already, and it really hurt, but she didn’t stop.

Faith didn’t say anything else, and finally Dawn canted her head toward her. “What’s worse?” she asked, and her voice was hoarse. Her anger settled in her throat, clawed until it ached, all the things she didn’t say, all the mean thoughts she swallowed.

“When Buffy lashes out,” Faith pressed her shoulder against Dawn’s, “or when she acts like you don’t exist.”

Dawn scraped her knuckle back and forth against her teeth. It really, really sucked, being Buffy’s little sister. She thought it probably also really, really sucked to be Slayer number two.

She scooted a little closer and wiggled around until she could put her head on Faith’s shoulder. Her body was warm, and they sat there a long time, until the clouds burst and the rain fell and still Faith stayed right beside her.

~*~

Dawn was tired of waiting.

She was tired of waiting for Buffy to recognize what an asset she was to organization, and that she was an adult capable of making her own decisions. She was tired of waiting to feel real inside her own skin, when she wasn’t real, not her flesh and not her bones.

She wasn’t going to wait for Faith to make the first move any more.

“D. Shouldn’t you be in the library?” Faith squinted in the sunlight and moved out of the way so Dawn could go inside. It was late morning, but that was pretty early for the Slayers who patrolled full time. “Everything ok?”

She was wearing gray gym shorts and a faded t-shirt. Her hair was a mess, tangled and frizzy. Her feet were bare, and her toes curled against the tile. She still looked tough, competent, strong – she was Faith, after all.

She looked absolutely beautiful.

Dawn nodded. She had a speech prepared. She had written three drafts and practiced it in front of the mirror. In the second it took to shut the door, she forgot every single word. Faith watched her, quiet and steady.

That was how she liked Faith best. Dawn leaned forward and kissed her. That was quiet and steady too, the way their lips pressed together, the way Faith put her hands on Dawn’s hips and then slid one of them to the small of her back, pulling their bodies closer together. She slipped it under Dawn’s shirt, and her fingers were rough and warm.

Faith let her lead, let her deepen the kiss and guide them to the couch and tumble them down, their legs entwined, their kiss all lips and teeth and tongues.

Later, Faith had her favorite ice cream in the freezer, just waiting for her. They curled together on the couch, and Dawn thought of all the things she could say, all the words which fluttered to her lips.

Her mouth was warm from the kisses, and Faith listened still.

II. Blue Crush, Eden/Lena, Eden/Anne Marie (unrequited)

“Hey, girl, how’s life?”

“Oh, Eden, it’s amazing. Australia is just unbelievable.” The phone crackled a little, but even the static couldn’t mask the happiness bubbling up in Anne Marie’s voice. “It’s gorgeous here, and the waves – oh, I wish you could surf them. They’re perfect.”

So are you.

Eden bit her tongue, but Anne Marie was too happy to notice. She babbled on for awhile, talking about the other women on the circuit, and the serious training she was getting, and how well Eden’s boards were holding up for her.

They’re both on islands touched by the Pacific, but Anne Marie felt about a million miles away.

She asked to talk to Penny, who was at home, and Lena, who wasn’t. After they said goodbye, Eden lingered with her hand on the phone. She had work to do in her shop, and probably Penny would need help with her homework, and Lena would be starving when she got home from work.

Still, Anne Marie was on the other end of the call, and for a few minutes the memory of her lingered. It was a shadow of her presence, but it was all Eden had. It would never be enough.

~*~

Lena brought food home, their favorite plate lunches from the best little local restaurant. Between their jobs and Anne Marie’s endorsements, they paid all the bills and managed tiny splurges for food now and then.

She came to get Eden from her shop, but instead of coaxing her inside, she sat down and watched. Eden pretty much had the shaping thing down, she found the curves that got it right in the water, and Anne Marie talked her up so much she sold a few.

It would be a dream come true if the cost wasn’t losing Anne Marie.

~*~

After dinner, Penny flopped on her bed to do her homework. It would have been better for her to do it at a table, but Eden chose her battles. It wasn’t important, not like keeping her in school and making sure she didn’t get pregnant and reminding her how much Anne Marie loved her.

That wasn’t something Eden could say out loud, Anne Marie loves you, and not just because Penny would roll her eyes and act all teenager about it. Deep down, she loved her sister too, and missed her.

They all did.

Eden took her beer outside. It was a clear night, and the stars were bright. When Anne Marie was in California, it was better, because then they were under the same sky even if they weren’t together. If Eden looked up, there was a chance, however small, that somewhere Anne Marie was doing the same thing.

She looked at a strange sky now, different stars and constellations, so very far away.

Lena sat down after awhile, and rested her chin on her guitar. She watched Eden over the top of it, big eyes and perfect eyebrows and that little knowing grin. The waves were steady in the background, the heart beat of their world.

Eden knew how the night would go. She would finish her beer and have another. Lena would play for awhile, play for her, songs they both loved and music she wrote. She walked around humming, and picked them out at night. Sometimes they went wrong, but often she got it right. Then Eden would take her to bed.

It was so close to love, the thing between them. Eden pressed her bottle in the sand and twisted it. Sometimes it was easier, just the three of them, trying not to fuck up with Penny and screwing at night.

Lena started in on a song, something slow which wove itself between the waves, and Eden closed her eyes. If she shut them tight enough, she could pretend the stars were gone, and all her thoughts of Anne Marie would go with them.

III. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants/She's the Man, Bridget/Viola, Bridget/Carmen (unrequited)

At college, Viola no longer pretended to be a boy, but she still played at being straight. It would be easy to blame her acting skills – she tried so hard to be a boy she twisted something in her mind and couldn’t shut it off.

It was a lie, and one thing she hated – right up there with boys who thought girls couldn’t play soccer – was lying to herself.

She liked boys. Boys were fun, and pretty easy to understand once you’d been one for awhile. They smelled good when they showered, and she loved the feel of their bodies against hers, thighs thick with muscle and big hands which slid across her back.

Girls were good too. The first time she kissed one, it was rough, teeth clashing together and dry lips and their noses got in the way. They tried again, and she got better, teeth against lips and fingers in her hair. Girls felt great, soft breasts and hard nipples and the little gaspy sounds, those were A-plus.

Bridget was a force of nature. She joined the team when Viola was a sophomore, and she knew exactly what she wanted, on the field and off. She took her position and took the lead and set about winning over the team and wooing Viola at the same time.

Not that Viola noticed at first. She saw a good soccer player with gorgeous hair and a really pretty smile. Probably she was straight. Most of the girls were. Viola didn’t mind. It would be weird to date a teammate.

Weird, yes. Also wonderful.

Bridget brought over movies and complained about her tiny dorm room and threw popcorn at Viola and started wrestling matches. It was all so very breath taking and overwhelming, like a hurricane of hot.

When Bridget kissed her the first time, Viola expected her to be more dominant. She started it, scooting along the couch until she could put her arm across her shoulder and nuzzle her neck and slide one hand along her stomach.

The kiss, though, was soft and hesitant and so unlike the Bridget she knew.

Later, in bed, she was more herself, nudging her knee in between Viola’s legs, and nibbling at her nipples and sliding two fingers up inside just right. She came really pretty, lots of noise and thrashing and grabbing Viola’s hair.

~*~

They spent most of their time at Viola’s place. Bridget’s dorm room was too small, but whenever she stopped by, Bridget seemed on edge, and downright uncomfortable when she took the time to look at all the pictures she had on display.

Mostly they were of the same people, three girls and Bridget. They smiled a lot. Sometimes they looked sad, or angry, or absolutely silly. When she asked, Bridget told her stories, the way they grew up together, the way their mothers had been friends but then were not, the way Tibby acted like she hated the world and Lena was so beautiful and trying hard to be brave.

She spoke little of Carmen.

There was a card taped to the wall over her desk. It was held shut with another little piece of tape, but the front was easy to read, black text on white. “To those we love best we say the least.”

Viola understand high school love and broken hearts.

IV. Stick It, Haley/Mina

It was simple, falling in love with Mina. Way easier than sticking her tricks. Easier even than falling, and that took less than a thought. She floored everything, ate mat hard, picked on the people she liked, and loved so much.

It was even simple telling her.

“Hey Mina, pick up the phone.” They were alone in the locker room. They usually were. At first, they tried to time it that way, when all they did was kiss and sometimes hold hands when no one was around.

It was a small place, and people figured it out pretty fast. They giggled, and teased, and gave them time alone in the locker room, in their bedrooms, and usually left them in peace when they all crashed out on the couch to watch television.

Haley did not mean to fall in love. She was going to college, and she was going to Worlds, and there was still a chance she would go to the Olympics one day. If she wanted that. She wasn’t sure yet, but Burt said she had time to decide.

What she did want, sure as anything, was Mina Hoyt.

“Yes, Haley?” Mina made a phone out of her hand and held it up to the side of her face so her thumb was at her ear and her pinkie at her mouth. She put her teeth on it for a second, and her tongue, and then gave a wicked grin.

Such a treat, Mina’s feisty side. When she wasn’t playing sidekick to Joanne, she was really quite sweet and fun. Even Joanne was likeable now. Sometimes. She was still bossy and a know it all and her vocabulary needed serious work – but at least she didn’t have a stick up her butt.

“I love you.”

Mina looked shocked, and dropped the fake phone to her side. She was wearing a t-shirt, underwear, and flip flops, and her hair was still wet from her shower. Then she broke into a bright, beautiful smile.

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.” That was it, one of the things she liked best: the way Mina made her want to smile back. “Come here.”

She liked kissing Mina. Kissing her knowing she loved her – that was something else entirely. It was landing a triple, or sticking her vault, or that moment, just when the music ended during floor, when the audience’s energy was up and she knew she’d hit everything hard and managed to stick it all.

“You really love me?”

“I do.”

Mina’s whole face scrunched up when she smiled big. “You too. I love you too.”

Kissing her after that was better than sticking all the tricks in the world.

End


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