Feeling It
by Buffonia

Joyce doesn't drink much. Well, not very often. But now she really wants a glass in her hands, filled to the brim in the hardest liquor. Because her head hurts and she's pretty sure she's going to die. If not from the pain then from vomiting everything but her spleen. And it's getting harder to put on her strongest mom face for the girls.

And she feels real bad that she's more concerned about the thrumming in her temples. During the night, when she's staring at the ceiling, she tries to worry about how her babies are dealing with her sickness. But that goddamned pain. It won't go. Sometimes she imagines going through the rest of her life with her head pounding and banging. Silly really. How long can one live with the constant sensation of knives jiggling through their skull? Can a person really get used to that?

Thank god for the pills. One every four hours. In theory. Joyce is no pillpopping junkie, but if they understood this pain then they would understand why it has to be two every four hours or one every two hours. A glass of water (that she wishes were scotch) and a good half hour later and...

She's not sleepy really. And still keenly aware of the pressure in her brain. But it doesn't bother her as much. It almost fascinates her. The bumpbumpbump in her head. Is it the blood that hurts her? Trying to push through? Is it getting stuck or slowed? Is there a clog? This makes her picture her head like a big sink with a wad of hair stuck down the pipe. Instinctively, she takes another sip of water, hoping to flush out the...bumpbumpbump.

No luck. What's time really? This time it's a little harder to open the small bottle...damn childproof lid...there...one little capsule...two...sip...down...tickticktick...

The room is softer. The bed is softer. All of her has gone soft. Running her fingers over her face and down her neck, she giggles. Because her body doesn't want to cry. And giggling feels so much smoother. Little bubbling bursts of laughter. Better than hammering sobs that swirl up the thudding.

Shhhhh...don't wake up the kids...Buffy...is she even home? She won't be able to take off like that in the middle of the night if she has to take care of Dawn...When hospital visits...

If and when. When and if. If only something or someone would come crashing down from the sky to take her away now. No more waiting for too bright morning sun and fear of falling asleep. Because what if she lays down for a nap and never wakes up? What then?

Even the carpet is softer as she gets out of bed and pads to the bathroom. Sinking steps all the way to the vanity mirror. God. She looks sick. A sick, old woman. At least she did her part to better the universe. One daughter to save the world, another to destroy it. Does that cancel out?

Nose to nose with her reflection, Joyce only recognizes her eyes. The dark circles and pasty skin surrounding them are unfamiliar. How did she get so old, so fast...Will this be the face that gets buried...Will it be thinner...paler...

Maybe she should leave a note that dark lipstick would look better then. Faith said that once. Poor girl. Poor, beautiful girl. Her mother...Buffy said once...died...Mothers don't come back. Not like daughters do.

"That's the dig, Joyce." Faith's image is faint and faraway in the mirror. "Your girl's gotta grow a pair like you."

"Buffy's strong enough," says Joyce, firmly. And when she turns to argue, she doesn't expect the brunette to really be there. But she is...sort of...still faint and faraway. More like an echo of a girl. "She saves the world."

"Who doesn't these days?" Faith shrugs. "But it's not like supergirl is the one you should be worrying about."

"You mean Dawn..."

"I really don't."

Joyce is moving from the bathroom and back into the room because she doesn't want imaginary conversations to wake anyone else up. It takes a little leaning on walls to make it to the place where she sees Faith standing.

"I can see where Buffy gets her sympathy complex though," Faith continues, smirking the way that Joyce always remembers when she thinks of the girl. "Y'know, Joyce, I never woulda killed you."

Faith isn't apologizing or explaining. She's just talking. Joyce searches her for a moment. One tired gaze unto another.

Joyce swallows. "What if I asked you to. Would you then?"

"You wouldn't ask."

"I'm asking now."

"Ain't gonna happen."

Falling back, the carpet seems to slip beneath her feet. Slow motion like, Faith reaches out, and Joyce isn't falling anymore. They're sitting on the bed, looking at each other. Everything goes quick suddenly. Harlot lips on hers, kissing her. Joyce thinks she must taste like medicine and warm water. But if she does, Faith doesn't seem to mind.

She reclines on the bed, under Faith's command, and closes her eyes. Even though part of Joyce knows that the hands she feels moving down her are her own, because she's the only one in the room, the parts being touched seem to rejoice in the dream that it's Faith.

"How does this feel, Joyce?" Faith murmurs into Joyce's breasts.

"Absolutely psychotic," she replies. Giggling again.

There's a bump bump bump, but now it's not that volatile space between her ears creating it. Bumpbumpbump. The headboard claps dully against the wall. Joyce groans as neglected flesh of a neglected woman is suddenly brought to life. A fever rushes through, followed by a chill. And if this is part of the sickness then she is done complaining.

The viciousness of Faith's tongue as it tickles its way over feminine skin makes Joyce moan again. Faith brings her mouth up to Joyce's dry lips. Coating them in saliva and wetting them as needed with a pushing kiss. Strong fingers find their way beneath Joyce's nightgown and she bucks up. Hard hands move rhythmically; over, down, in, over, down, in.

When Faith pulls up to look down, Joyce cries out.

"Don't wake up the munchkins." Faith silences her with a shallow, nipping kiss followed by several small kisses past her jaw. Wet and hot and alive. She puts a finger to the woman's lips, Joyce kisses it and takes it in her mouth. Sucking on it as Faith sucks on her neck.

For a moment, out of the corner of her eye, the tip of Faith's head seems a hard, platinum blonde and the kiss on her neck becomes more aggressive. But when Faith looks up again, it's just Faith. Less demon, all girl. There's almost the beat of a song in her pumping, two sliding fingers and a flickering thumb.

"Poor, beautiful woman," Faith says, whispering downward.

Joyce closes her eyes. But she can still see that smirking face watching her. "Will I die?" she asks between pants and gasps.

"Do you really wanna die, Joycey?" Faith is leering down at her seductively.

"If it feels like this then...oh...oh God...YES!" The orgasm envelopes her and shakes her fragile body. Joyce lets the tears roll down her cheeks like old music. So used to crying now.

Leaning down, Faith drags the tip of her tongue up the salty trail on Joyce's face before placing a gentle kiss on the closed eyelid. A quick roll to the side and Faith is reclining on the mattress beside her. Just watching as Joyce recovers. Their eyes meet.

"How much time do you think I have?"

Faith looks away, to the window. "Hell if I know."

"There's so much I have to do," Joyce says quietly. Still looking at Faith but talking to herself. "There are lists a-and bills and...oh...I have to teach Buffy how to do the laundry. She-she never quite grasped--"

"Don't." It's an order, a sad, small demand on Faith's part. The girl rolls her eyes in exasperation.

"There's just so much to do," Joyce repeats helplessly, voice breaking. She looks down at her lap, at the wrinkled hem of her nightgown. She smoothes it idly as she continues, "I can't leave them. They're only little girls."

"Not really," Faith says. "'Sides, I thought you were all gung ho about the Big Exit."

"Only when it hurts." She looks up for a moment, as if for mercy. But then she chuckles slightly to herself. "Except it hurts all the time, so I don't know what I want."

When Faith takes hold of her hand, it startles Joyce. The slow intimacy of it. Sliding of fingers on fingers, and the interlocking clasp when the palms meet. Because Faith is usually so quick and impulsive, it feels good that she's taking the time here. Joyce notices the exhaustion on her face and smiles sadly.

"You look like you could use the rest, honey."

"Don't worry about me, I've got nothin' but time."

It's getting more difficult for Joyce to keep her eyes open. She's warm all over, from her mouth to her neck to her thighs. There's a little buzzing in her ear and she thinks that maybe if she sleeps, it will all be gone in the morning.

"Do me a favor?" Joyce hears Faith whisper through the confines of drifting asleep.

"Mm?" It's all that Joyce can muster the strength to reply.

"If you do go up and meet the Big Guy or whatever..." Faith pauses. "Mind putting in a good word for me?"

Joyce smiles as she falls further through the darkness behind her eyes. Past the flickering images of partial dreams. Buffy's fifth birthday party. Dawn's ballet recital. The cold, grey courtroom during the divorce. Hank kissing her at their wedding. Senior prom. Rupert Giles and police cars. The sad, dark slayer with a knife in her hands. "Of course."

Turning over in the empty bed, in that moment before sleep, and just for a moment, Joyce can't feel anything but satisfaction.


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