Dare You to Move
by daneorange
Rating: R

Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its characters belong to Joss Whedon, and are definitely not mine, nor do I claim any right to them. No copyright infringement intended.
Author's Notes: Thanks to Switchfoot for the title. Oh well, a game of strip poker? Totally harmless on the surface. Another one of those F/B fics that I wrote to amuse myself from all that stress and sucky university stuff. The usual – AU, angst, etc. Slowly, Faith is becoming one of the more interesting characters to write about as a first-person character… ::wink:: Still the same formats apply -- *thoughts*, ::lyrics::, flashbacks in bold, if any.

I am waiting for you, Buffy Summers. I am waiting for your decision. I am waiting for your next move.

I’ve laid down my cards.

‘That’s it?’ you speak so suddenly, breaking into my deep concentration. ‘A full house on a Queen?’

I hold onto my poker face as stiffly as possible. This is how things have been anyway between the two of us – just a matter of keeping a straight face, just a matter of concealing the things underneath emotionless features, icy cold stares.

‘What do you have anyway?’ I ask.

‘Oh, four Jacks and a nine…’ you casually reply, eyes not shifting from your hand.

‘Fucking shit,’ I just mumble. ‘Liar.’

Your eyes dart back up to meet mine. That stare. Like rage.

“This is not going to work this way,” you said.

I felt my jaw drop a little. Buffy Summers was giving up?

“Come on, just one more try, I promise I’m…” I tried compromising. It was so not me to try to strike common ground with anybody… but this was you. It was worth anything. Everything.

You sighed. Total resignation, it sounded so much like it. I hated it whenever you did that. Give up… “But we’ve tried hard enough, long enough, and it just…” Your eyes drift from the floor, and catch mine just in time. A little teary, a little scared, a little angry…

But I never knew for sure. You never really got around to telling me everything, you know…

“Tell me. For once, please just talk, dammit…” I just found myself demanding.

“Faith,” you just said instead. “It won’t work. We have to end this.”

‘You’re stripping the minute I lower this hand,’ your voice shakes me back into the game.

‘Yeah right,' I dismiss coldly. ‘Out with it, bitch.’

And you even sigh as you lay your cards, one by one before me, right on the table. A Jack. Then another…

‘Do you even want me to continue?’ you check, lifting your eyes from the table top to meet mine. ‘You can just say please, we can have another round. Just like that.’

And I try not to flinch this time. *Just like that,* I repeated to myself in my head. And you tempt me with your promises once more. I’m not falling for one of those again, Buffy. ‘Just get on with it. Quick,’ I snap.

You shrug. ‘That’s what you want. Don’t tell me I didn’t give you a choice…’ and you lay down another Jack, your movement excruciatingly slow.

A choice. You always tell me, you’ve always given me choices. Damn those choices that I did not want to make. You always made me choose, Buffy. Always. Just when I didn’t want to.

“What are you saying?” I asked, blinking back potential tears. No, not the pleasure of letting you see me cry.

“It’s over, Faith,” you said again.

“No, it’s not.”

“I’ve made my decision. I’m leaving first thing in the morning.”

And my jaw dropped a little lower. “But we’re still in a relationship… you don’t make decisions like that on your own…”

You looked up again from the floor, and into my eyes. “Dammit, Faith, can’t we make this a little easier?”

Normally, I would’ve socked anybody who dared ask me to make anything ‘a little easier’. But it was you, and you… you turned my world around. You changed everything.

And you’re asking me if I could make *this* a little easier?

“Can’t we just make it work? One last time…” I pleaded.

And you shook your head. “You know very well why we can’t,” you just said, quietly. It was my turn to drop my gaze to the floor.

“Faith,” you called again. “We need space. It’s either me or you who leaves this place…”

“Why the fuck are you doing this…” I growled, finally letting a little rage manifest itself. I’d been trying so goddamn hard to control my anger, I hope you know, I’d been trying my very goddamned best…

“It’s your choice, Faith. Who’s it gonna be?”

‘Damn it, B, can’t this happen a little faster now?’ I grumble. If it is about the heat in the room, or the whole fucking situation, or the memory, I couldn’t actually sift through it, you know.

And you lay down a ten. My eyes grow wide at the move, shifting madly at the table top and your hand.

I actually had a chance to win?

A smirk spread across my face. ‘If that card in your hand is not a Jack…’ I begin.

‘You win,’ you continue, flatly. ‘But I still have it, and you’re still holding your breath.’

I feel myself exhale slowly – slower than usual, as if trying to hide that activity. I hate it now, how it’s been so long since you left me, but you can still read me like that. Like a book. Like a book you know so well.

‘That’s not a Jack,’ I say, boldly now. ‘It’s all a bluff.’

You look over your card, eyes all steely and icy again. I feel as if it’s cutting through me, but I can’t make you see that. So I stare back even harder.

And I am actually left in wonder, B. In wonder, in fear, in anticipation. Is that card you’re actually holding really a Jack? Or is it all a lie, just like everything else?

“Liar,” the word coursed through me quite painfully. I stayed straight-faced. And as if you wanted me to cry, you said it again, louder, more forcefully. “Liar.”

“No,” I just said. “You’re the one who’s lying to yourself.”

“I’m not like you, Faith,” you spit. “Never going to be like you.”

I laughed, bitterness all over it. “Ah, but we are alike, you and I…” I paused. You said nothing. “In fact, we are too alike…”

I barely had the chance to wince when I felt your hand strike me, across my cheek, fast and hard. “We’re different. We’re worlds apart,” you insisted.

“Don’t make this too hard on yourself,” I just caught myself saying. “You just can’t get over the fact that you’re…”

A backhand interrupted me this time around. “You don’t know me. Don’t pretend like you know me so well to say something like that.”

I laughed again, softer this time, but still as bitter. Or if I could get any more bitter than I already was, maybe something close to that. “But I do know you, Buffy Summers. I do know you…” And I was quick enough to catch your hand, holding you firmly by your wrist now. “And I do know it scares you, because you feel it inside you…”

“What the fuck are you talking about?” you asked, still struggling to free your hand. My grip on it tightened, as I brought it right over your chest. Over to where your heart is.

“This,” I stressed, pinning your own hand harder down against your own chest. “You’re scared of this.”

Your gaze dropped over your hand, pressed against yourself. And just when I thought you finally got the whole idea, your eyes came up to meet mine. Still full of rage, of anger. “I’m not scared of anything,” you hissed instead.

I would’ve considered going softer on you, you know. But you were too goddamned stubborn, you needed your eyes to be opened the hard way.

“You can’t see, B. You can’t. Because you’re too goddamned proud.”

You lifted your other hand, and attempted to strike it against me as the last word came out of my lips. I caught you in time once again, and soon enough, I had my grip fast on both your arms.

“Let me go,” you said, sternly.

“No, I won’t.”

“It’s you who can’t see, Faith,” you practically screamed at me. “You can’t see I don’t *want* this…”

“What the fuck are you scared of, B?!” I lashed out. I knew it was coming. I was trying my goddamned hardest to keep it inside… “This!? Are you scared of this?!” And this time, I put both your hands over my chest. Over where I hope my heart still is. “I’m not Angel! I’m not him, I won’t HURT you…”

Suddenly, I felt your struggle against me mellow down.

*God, B, I’m sorry…* I find myself thinking at the memory. Who would’ve thought then, that when I promised you I would never hurt you, I just made the first promise I never knew how to keep…

‘But it’s not a bluff,’ you just say, lowering the card down on the table top.

Jack of Hearts.

‘Fucking shit,’ I cursed, slapping the table top down hard, almost threatening to collapse it.

‘Come on, just the first round, Faith,’ you say again, coolly. ‘You’ve got more on you, what the fuck are you scared of this time?’

I completely unzip my leather jacket and shrug it off me, tossing it to the ground beside us. ‘Bitch, I’ll get you next,’ I scowled, slipping a cigarette from my pack and lighting it.. ‘Undressing you would be easy.’

‘Hah,’ and you bring to the table two cans of beer, opening both and handing one over to me. ‘You can try.’

...continued in Hands to Heaven...