Body Shots
by Minim Calibre

Maybe it all happened because of the beating my noggin took when she walked in the door. Not that she hit me on the head or anything like that, in spite of the amount of head-hitting that goes on in this place. I just hit it on the counter when I heard her footsteps in the lobby. I should explain that I was under the counter at the time, which makes sense if you think about it. I mean, glowing white aura or no, Cordelia's filing system never did improve, and I figured maybe she'd stashed some relevant pieces of paper there along with the emergency nail files and a couple pieces of gum.

I was prodding the edge of something (it turned out to be a receipt for a pair of shoes--charged to the business account) with one of those nail files when I heard the aforementioned footsteps. They were too light to be Charles, and besides, he always announces he's back. I thought maybe it was Cordy, and I didn't really want her to catch me under her desk sneaking through her hidden stuff so I beat a hasty retreat. I kind of misjudged the clearance between the bottom of the desk and the top of my head.

When they talk about seeing stars, it's a bit of an understatement. Everything went a little supernova before it faded to a couple of big hurkin' Pylean suns.

It wasn't Cordelia standing in the lobby. It wasn't anyone I could remember seeing, and I'm pretty good with faces, and besides, there's no way anyone could see her and not have her burned into his or her retinas. She was standing there in a tight tank top and a baggy pair of pants, holding a big old duffel bag and looking around like she'd just gotten back from some hell dimension and couldn't quite believe she'd escaped it. Which is a pretty common look around here, now that I think about it.

"Angel Investigations! We help the helpless, how can I help you?" I chirped. After all, she wasn't anyone I knew, and she was in our lobby. Therefore, it made sense that she was a client.

"Where's Angel?" Her voice was deep, kind of gruff, and not really what a person would call patient, and from the sounds of things, I was wrong about the whole client assumption.

"He's, well, he's... " she cocked an eyebrow and I gave up on obfuscation. "Well, it's kinda funny you should ask. We're not sure."

"What, he went out for milk and didn't come back?"

"Something like that, yeah."

"Shit. Should have known something was up when he missed his semi-annual visit to the big house. Where's Wes?" She was starting to look a little panicky.

"We don't really say that name around here anymore. He's what you might call persona non grata."

"Well, at least that's one awkward social encounter I'll be avoiding. Cordelia?"

"Oh, she's been AWOL for as long as Angel. They pretty much vanished at the same time."

She dropped her bag and stared at me for a minute before responding. "Let me get this straight: Angel's missing, Wesley's fucked up again--big shock there--and Cordelia's gone, too? Who's running the shop?"

"That'd be me. Well, me and Charles. And sometimes Connor, but he's run off somewhere again."

"So who the hell are you?" She seemed more tired than hostile.

"Oh! Sorry, I must have been kind of distracted. I'm Fred. Can I help you?"

"I'm Faith. I was kind of hoping Angel would have a job for me. He's not here, but sounds like you're short staffed at the moment. How 'bout it?"

"Well, we don't really have any clients, but hey, this place being all empty and echo-y is kind of crazy-making, and seeing as it's been three weeks with no word from Angel or Cordelia, we could probably use a little help. What is it exactly that you do?"

"I'm a Slayer. I also know my way around the laundry room and make a killer license plate, but I just don't see those last two as career paths."

I must have looked a bit clueless, because she filled me in pretty quickly. "I'm fresh out of jail. Turns out there were some technicalities that weren't handled quite right. Like my whole confession. Some bleeding heart with an axe to grind took on the system, so here I am."

She smiled a little. I think I was expecting something mean and feral, what with that whole prison thing, something like a stray dog grinning a warning. What I got was kind of rusty, but sweet.

"We have a bunch of rooms, although some of them are still a little damaged from the earthquake. You can take your pick."

The rusty smile turned into a big old grin. "Got any with a bathtub?"

I showed her up to a suite with a huge tub. "Gimme a sec, I'll get you some soap and towels."

There was still some Mister Bubble with Connor's baby things, so I put it on top of the stack of towels next to the bars of Ivory. "Here you go," I told her as I handed off the bundle. "I'll be down in the lobby if you need anything."

After a couple of hours, I started to get a little worried. I mean, call me paranoid and all, but with everybody and his uncle disappearing around here, it never hurts to check and make sure a body is where you put him or her last. I've suggested to Charles that we might want to look into microchips with some sort of GPS--it'd be easy enough to put together--but he's not too keen on the idea. Says it's a little too "X-Files" for him.

I guess I'd forgotten just how good a bath feels when you haven't had one in a few years. I knocked on the door, waited a sec, then just walked in when I didn't hear anything from the room.

"Faith? Are you okay in there?" I called out.

The sound of water splashing reassured me, but not as much as the sound of her voice. "Yeah, five-by-five. Hey--while you're here, could you bring me a towel? I left them on the bed."

She was sprawled in the tub, one leg up against the tile surround, and covered in bubbles. Even her hair, which was piled up all wet and dark and bubbly and kind of Bride of Frankenstein-y. I couldn't look away; my first sexual dream may have been about the Mouse King, but the second was all about Elsa Lancaster.

"Here's your towel... sorry to bug ya." I held it out and she stood up, not bothering to rinse the bubbles. It was kind of like the Botticelli Birth of Venus, only dark and without the shell or the wind or the roses. And with me and a towel instead of the nymph with the cloak.

I had a feeling that I wasn't going to be dreaming about the Mouse King or Elsa next time I had a chance to get some shut-eye.

"So, you hungry?" I asked. When in doubt, food's good, and Charles wasn't due back for another few hours. Besides which, prison food's the butt of enough jokes that I figured there had to be a grain of truth to them.

"I'm starved." She finished toweling off and pulled on her clothes. "What have you got?"

"Well, nothing here really, but there's a great taco stand just down the street, that is, if you like tacos, and who doesn't like tacos? I mean, I guess some people probably don't like tacos, but--"

"Tacos are cool. Got anything to drink with 'em?"

In hindsight, which, as everyone knows, is always 20/20, I probably should have said "no" or "just water" or "I could pick up some root beer while I get the food", but like I said, I'd hit my head pretty hard when she walked in, so I thought tequila'd be a good idea. And anyone can tell you that tequila's pretty much never a good idea, especially if you're having the kind of thoughts you really should scrub right out of your brain before you're tempted to act on them in spite of having a sweet, wonderful, loving boyfriend who happens to be gone for the night, but I made the suggestion before watching her eat.

Again in hindsight, maybe I should have suggested some innocuous food, like burgers or cous-cous. Or at least eaten somewhere with a table instead of sitting on top of the bed.

"You were right," she said from around a mouthful of taco. "These are damn good." The tip of her tongue darted out to catch some sauce before it could escape, and I took another hasty shot of Cuervo as she polished off the last bites. "Gotta admit, though, they're kinda messy."

I handed her a napkin from the stack and refilled both our shotglasses. "Pass the lime?"

She wiped her mouth and grabbed a couple of citrus wedges from the plate I'd set out, handing me one and spearing one so it was kind of upside down on the top of her glass. "Wanna see a neat trick? You've seen that Molly Ringwald movie with the lipstick?"

I nodded, because who hasn't seen _The Breakfast Club_? She grinned at me, put the shot glass in her cleavage (lime side out), sorta scooted her shoulders together, dipped her head, and did the shot hands-free. When she raised her head, she was still grinning, but her teeth had been replaced by the bright green of the lime rind.

"What about the salt?" I asked.

Okay, probably a dumb question. She spit out the rind and--quicker than my booze-befuddled brain could react--licked me. Charles, I reminded myself, I should be thinking about Charles. Who wasn't there, and who hadn't just decided that my clavicle was an acceptable substitute for a tongueful of NaCl. I don't exactly have the filled-out up-front to duplicate her trick, so I kind of improvised by shooting, skipping the lime, and going right for the lick.

She tasted like the Mister Bubble, which sounds like it should have been gross, but instead made me think back to my second year of college when I got really, really baked and somehow ended up playing naked hairdresser with Caroline Pierce, only we couldn't find any hairgel, so we used shampoo instead, which lead to showering. Ever since then, soap's tasted a lot like sex.

"My mouth's saltier." She pulled me up before I could answer.

It was. It was also soft, hot, and sorta spicy from the dinner and the drinking, and the edges of her lips burned a little from the combination of tequila and the lime juice. I hadn't kissed a girl since grad school. Turns out that, like taking a bath, it feels even better when it's been a while.

"Wow." Faith sounded a little dazed. "That's some mouth you've got on you."

"Thanks. Likewise." I made a nervous giggle, which I hate, but it's one of those nervous reactions you can't seem to help, and if ever there was a situation that was nervous-making, this was it.

Well, nervous-making for me. I'm not sure Faith knows what nervous is. Or subtle, either, but it's not like I was complaining when she pulled off my shirt.

"Not much meat on you, is there?"

"Sorry. Puberty kinda didn't do as much for me as it did for the rest of you all."

"I like it. Trust me, after getting stuck in a place where the best lookers were Big Bertha and Bigger Bertha, it's nice. Besides--" she licked me again, this time from the top of my pants all the way up to my ear "--I know I could take you."

It was getting hard to talk while her lips and hands were doing things that made my brain short out, but I think I might have pointed out the double meaning in what she'd just said. It came out of my mouth as "okay", which explains how my pants and undies ended up on the floor.

"You've got the littlest stomach," she said. "I like the way it dips in." Faith grabbed the bottle from the nightstand and poured some on my belly button. "Functional, too," she observed before dropping her head and using me as a shot glass.

At which point I had the last of my not-so-brilliant ideas for the night. Sweat's salty, bodies are salty, and the pH of some portions of the female anatomy tends towards the acidic, which gives you the lime. It's all just simple chemistry. Or maybe simple chemical, like ethanol. Which isn't all that simple, really, but does a good job of brain functionality impairment, almost as good as Faith, and that might just barely explain why I decided to push her head just a little further down...

Her enthusiastic taking up of the idea explains why that was the last of them. The traces of Cuervo stung, but not in a bad kind of way, more in a push-her-head-closer-and-scream kind of way that wound up turning into an open feedback loop where the harder she licked and sucked, the louder I yelled, and the louder I got, the harder she licked. I was reminded of systems theory and tightly coupled systems being more prone to wind up, get all unstable, and explode, which is pretty much what I did, knocking the bottle off the bed in the process.

Thank goodness for carpeting.

Faith slid out from between my thighs and let me catch my breath while she took off her clothes. As good as she looked with the bubbles, she looked even better without them, and that's not the ethanol and agave talking. I was still kind of fuzzy and light-headed, so I stroked her slowly and gently, until her breasts tasted more salty than soapy, and her pussy was wetter than a floodplain after a thunderstorm. We wound up in a tangled mess of hands and tongues and loud, sloppy noises--feedback loop again, which is bad because we're both pretty loud--finally passing out for good sometime in the middle of the night.

I woke up with my head located somewhere south of her knee and her breath tickling my toes. It was still dark, which meant I wasn't totally screwed, even if I was thoroughly fucked. I prodded her with my foot until she woke up.


"What?" She blinked at me and yawned, obviously none to happy about being awake.

"I'm gonna go to my room before Charles gets back. Maybe we should keep this to ourselves for now?"

She shrugged and burrowed into her pillow. "Sure thing. But next time?"

"Yeah?" I didn't bother trying to tell either of us there wouldn't be one.

"Drinks are on me."


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