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ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Meant To Be
One: The New World

By Hellmouthguy




Faith crouched on the roof of the old warehouse in her socks, so she could be as quiet as possible. She held a katana in her hand.

Trick sat in front of a computer set up on an old wooden roll top desk on the floor of the warehouse. Faith watched him through a dirty little skylight.

Trick was going to die for what he did to Rebecca. Faith was going to see to that.

She needed it. Watching him through the skylight, she felt like she needed to kill him more than she had ever needed anything in her life. Her hand moved to the stake in her back pocket. She imagined how it would feel, penetrating his chest, slicing through the meat, until it reached the heart, and popped it like a balloon. She could jump down through the skylight right now and do it...

A Slayer always thinks tactically.

No. She'd play this smart. The way Rebecca would have wanted her to.

The wind shifted, and Buffy's scent came to her.

Faith smiled. She hadn't heard Buffy's approach. If the wind hadn't shifted she wouldn't have known Buffy was there at all. The girl was good.

"Hey," Buffy said quietly, and crouched down barefoot beside Faith, carrying the other katana. "I checked all around, Special K's not in there. What's Tricky doing?"

"Still gettin' his geek on," Faith whispered back. They both knew vampires had very sensitive hearing. "What about exits?"

"Back door. Fire escape around the side along the second floor."

"Okay, if it's just Trick I don't think we need to get too fancy. How about you go around back, I walk in the front. He runs, no way he gets by both of us."

"He's probably carrying a gun, you know."

"Figure he is."

The two most dangerous predators on Earth looked down at Trick through the dirty skylight, baring their teeth. Savoring a fresh kill.

They were Slayers, now. Slayers, and nothing else.

Their humanity was far away, now. There was no room for it: they were traveling light. They only took what they needed on the hunt. They were strong and fast and hard and lethal and they reveled in their power. They knew their prey wouldn't escape them. But they hoped it would at least try.

They were aware of their humanity, peripherally. They knew it was still there somewhere. But it seemed unimportant; a complicated, monotonous, hopelessly mundane thing next to the lush, vivid world that was opened up to them now. It wouldn't have mattered to either of them at that moment if they lost their humanity forever. It was a burden, and it was so much better to travel light...

Buffy loved Faith's scent. She loved being close to it. Faith's scent made Buffy feel like she'd found something...something that belonged to her, that she had somehow lost for a time without even knowing it.

There was a connection, a physical connection, when they were together: it had been there in the cemetery and the motel room and Buffy felt it again now, like a warmth that suffused her whole body.

Buffy's heart beat faster as she looked down at her prey. Energy exploded through her in anticipation of the hunt. She felt like running a marathon. She felt like dancing. She needed a good, long fucking. She thought about Angel, then stopped herself. He was too complicated, too tangled up in her humanity; he was part of the boring, colorless world she had set aside. Buffy much preferred the vivid world she found herself in now: the world of the hunt.

She thought about Faith in her nightgown. She thought about peaches.

Faith liked Buffy. She liked the way she smelled and she liked her voice and she liked the warm feeling that she got when they were together, like being in bed under the blankets on a winter morning. She liked that Buffy was crouched very close to her now, their bodies almost touching. She couldn't believe she had disliked Buffy before; all those feelings of anger and resentment and wounded pride seemed a million miles away, seemed like someone else's life. Those feelings were buried deep down now, along with all the other trivial, unimportant details of her human life. They were Slayers. Not one single other thing mattered.

Faith looked at Buffy's legs. She liked Buffy in that skirt. She liked her without her boots on.

Then Faith looked down at Trick, and felt her heart in her chest. Energy pulsed through her; she nearly trembled with it. She wanted to leap, and scream, and roar like a lion. She gripped her sword so hard she thought she might break it.

Buffy and Faith looked at each other, inches away, and inhaled each other's scent, and felt the connection: the connection that no one else in the world could ever share.

Buffy wondered what it would be like to have sex with Faith.

Faith nearly threw Buffy down and kissed her.

They both let the moment pass. They were afraid of it, a little. Each was afraid that she alone felt it, and the other didn't.

And they were working now. There was no time for it.

"Ready?" Buffy whispered.

"One thing before we get started," Faith whispered back. "Get your licks in, smack Trick around all you want, smack K around when we catch up with him too. I know Trick shot you and K beat you up some and you owe them for that. But I owe them more, so the kills are mine. For what they did to Becca, the kills belong to me."

"I get to hurt Trick, before you dust him. And I want a piece of Kakistos. You can have him, but I still need a piece. He hurt Willow and he needs to find out why that's bad."


"Remember, don't you go hogging all the fun. I'll get cranky."

"I'll take good care of you, B. Don't you worry about that."

"Gonna hold you to that," Buffy whispered, and showed Faith her backside, and stalked away as silently as a cat.

"Hey Trick," Faith said, stalking out of the darkness behind him in her socks, a sword in each hand. "How's tricks?"

Trick was fast. He jumped out of his chair, spun around and pulled a gun from inside his coat without missing a beat.

Faith was faster. She threw her rapier straight through Trick's hand before he could even take aim. He screamed and dropped the gun, and before he could pick it up again, Buffy was suddenly standing behind him. She snatched the gun from the floor and pointed it at his chest. He froze.

"Hey, Tricky, miss me? Oh, that's right," Buffy said, and pointed to her shoulder. "You didn't."

Faith moved up beside Buffy. "Dyin' ain't much of a livin', boy," she said to Trick, and smiled.

"What's that from?" Buffy said.

"Eastwood western," Faith said. "Clint said it to this bounty hunter guy who was after him just before he shot his bounty huntin' ass."

"How did I know you'd like Clint Eastwood?"

"'Cuz I'm a total fuckin' bad ass, girlfriend. And so are you," Faith said.

"Got that right, baby," Buffy said, and shot Trick six times, emptying the gun. The gun was a .44 magnum and each shot sent Trick flying backwards. He finally collapsed like a marionette with its strings cut, coughing up blood.

"Hey, this thing's kinda neat," Buffy said, twirling the gun around and practicing quick draws. "Am I a bad person for liking this? Do I have to vote Republican now?"

"Nah," Faith said. "Figure it just makes you like, an American."

"I think I'm a bad Californian though."

"Yeah, probably, but they'd love your pretty ass in Texas. Know what? Dirty Buffy. I'm callin' you Dirty Buffy from now on."

"Wanna see me being dirty, huh?" Buffy said.

"C'mon, don't make me blush now, honey," Faith said, and threw Buffy her sexiest smile.

Faith wondered if she and Buffy meant what they were saying. How far were they going to take this? Faith felt out of control, like she was saying things without thinking...like she was drunk. She knew it was Buffy's scent that was doing this to her. Being so close to it, Faith needed all of her self-control not to take Buffy in her arms and kiss her.

Jesus Christ, Faith thought. Am I the one who likes girls? What the fuck?

"Hey Trick, you feelin' lucky, punk?" Faith said, staring down at Trick and showing him her teeth.

"I don't think Tricky's feeling lucky," Buffy said. "I think he's all sad now. I think he's pouting."

"He sure doesn't look too good. But you know what the problem here is? We haven't beat on him at all. The gun was cool but..."

"Right there with you, girlfriend," Buffy said, and walked toward Trick. But Trick suddenly sprang to his feet, his face changing to vampire form, and roared at them.

"Boy's feelin' his oats," Faith said.

"C'mon Tricky," Buffy said, and tossed the gun away, and spread her hands, and smiled. "Let's see those oats."

Trick leaped at Buffy, growling like a dog. He still had Faith's rapier sticking through his hand. But the leap was slow and awkward and Buffy easily avoided it; she stepped out of the way and Faith batted Trick out of the air with her katana, carving a good chunk out of him. He fell to the floor, screaming.

"Shit," Faith said. "Don't even tell me he can't fight."

"Maybe he really is a computer nerd," Buffy said. "And I did kinda just shoot him six times." Buffy moved to Trick's desk, one of the few furnishings in the huge, mostly empty room. The small desk lamp was the only source of light; the windows on the upper floor of the warehouse were too covered with grime to let much sun in. She looked at his computer screen. He had an AOL account. She smiled.

"Or maybe it was five," Buffy said. "To tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I've kinda lost track myself." Faith giggled.

"Thought you weren't into Clint?" Faith said, and stepped on Trick's hand and pulled her rapier out of it. Trick screamed. Faith looked down at him and kicked him in the face. "Shut the fuck up, asshole, we're talkin' here," Faith said.

"Xander likes him. He keeps on renting Eastwood movies," Buffy said.

"Beats Star Trek," Faith said. "Hope for that boy yet."

Trick tried to stand. He had a nasty diagonal slash running from his chest down to his waist, marring a very expensive suit.

"Shit," Faith said again. "He's got nothin' left. Now I'm all frustrated." She kicked him in the face again and he went sailing toward Buffy. Buffy plucked him out of the air and threw him to the floor before he could crash into the computer; she had a feeling the computer would be useful.

"Why don't you beat on him for awhile, honey," Faith said.

"Hmm. I think Tricky needs some dental work," Buffy said. She picked Trick up, dragged him over to a nearby metal support beam, and smashed his face into it. He bounced off it with a clang that echoed through the warehouse and sounded just like one of those old cartoons where an anvil lands on someone's head. Buffy and Faith both giggled.

"Ow," Faith said. "Lose any teeth?"

Buffy let Trick go and he hit the floor like a wet sack. She looked around, and noticed a bloody tooth nearby. Trick looked delirious.

"Hey Tricky, Tooth Fairy owes you a quarter," Buffy said, picking up the tooth and throwing it back in his face. She walked back to his desk and looked at his computer again. "Let's see if we can get it up to seven-fifty. Or you can always talk to us about your old pal, Special K."

"You're not gonna beat on him some more first?" Faith said, and strolled over to Buffy. Buffy was leaning back against the desk, and her skirt had hiked up. Faith looked at her legs, and made no effort to hide the fact that she was looking. "You goin' soft on me, girlfriend?" Fuck it, Faith thought. If I like girls then I'm gonna like girls. Starting with this one.

"Nah, I just thought I'd let the big bad vamp make a speech," Buffy said, and sat in Trick's chair and put her feet up on the desk. Her skirt hiked up even more as she did it. She was showing Faith her legs. She couldn't believe she was doing that, but she was. She noticed Faith didn't seem to mind. "All these extra special super-bad vamps just love making with the speeches first. It always just fills me with dread."

"Hey Trick, you wanna make a speech?" Faith said, grabbing him by the neck, standing him up, and moving her ear close to his mouth. "What's that? Can't hear you." Trick was nearly unconscious.

"Try banging him into the pole again," Buffy said.

"Think that'll work?"

"It'll be fun to watch."

Faith shrugged her shoulders and smashed Trick's face into the support beam again. His nose broke, and blood spurted out of it. She giggled at that, and so did Buffy. It was funny. It was like a day at the circus. She dropped him to the floor. He lay perfectly still, face-down. "Christ, he's out cold already," she said. "Say what you want about K, at least he can throw down. I'm all frustrated now."

"Computer nerds have their uses," Buffy said. She brought up the computer's e-mail program. "Any more teeth?"

"Tooth Fairy needs to pony up seventy-five cents now," Faith said, turning Trick over and looking at his mouth.

"Well, we're getting there," Buffy said, leaning back in the chair and waving her sword around aimlessly. "Faith, take a message."

"Yes, ma'am," Faith said, with a big grin. "You want I should bring you your coffee first? Or like, uh, quarterly reports or something?"

"I got something you can do for me," Buffy said, stretching her legs out some more. "But first the message."

Buffy blushed a little; she couldn't believe she had just said that. It was the strangest feeling...she felt drunk. It was Faith, she knew. Her scent...hunting together like this, being so close...it was intoxicating. She was losing herself...

"Yes, ma'am," Faith said, looking at Buffy's legs again.

"Message reads," Buffy began, smiling down at Trick. "There are two kinds of vamps. You got your regular loser vamps, and then there are the vamps who think they're all that. Now you haven't been a Slayer too long yet, Faith, but you'll find that vamps who think they're all that, like Special K and our man Tricky, are really a dime a dozen, especially on a Hellmouth. And the big thing they do is, they make speeches. They go on and on about their big plans, and..." She looked over at Trick again. He still wasn't moving. "Is he still asleep? Secretary Faith, wake him up. Time for a vamp to hear my big speech."

"Yes, ma'am," Faith said, and grabbed Trick and stood him up again. He was unconscious.

"Hey!" Faith screamed in Trick's face, and slapped him. "Wake up!"

Buffy giggled. Faith started giggling too.

Trick opened his eyes, sluggishly.

"He's done," Faith said. "He's not even trying to fight anymore. Shaft my ass. More like Urkel. Hey Trick, Boss B's making a speech. You better listen up or I'll get grumpy."

"Thank you, secretary Faith," Buffy said. "So, yeah, the vamps who think they're all that really like talking about their big plans. Like, for instance, our man Tricky here of the snazzy suits and the fabulous shoes, who cornered Will and me in the cemetery with a bunch of vamps and started talking about how he's all cool and East Coast and how my skirt was a bold fashion choice and blah blah blah whatever. Oh, and the speech-making vamps are further subdivided into two groups, the quippy speechmakers and the self-important speechmakers."

"K's definitely self-important," Faith said.

"And Trick's quippy," Buffy said. "They make a good team. So Trick was all, 'Hey, you're obviously Buffy Summers and look how cool I am that I know who you are and check out my cool suit and blah blah blabbity-blah'. And the funny thing is? All these big bad super-vamps I've run into over the years, who make all these speeches and think they know Slayers? Who think they know me?"

She got up, pulled Trick away from Faith and stabbed him through the heart with her sword. He gasped, and made a squealing sound. "You don't fucking know me," Buffy snarled, in Trick's face. "If you did you'd all run home to your fucking mommies."
She wrenched the sword out of his heart, and he gurgled and spit up blood, and fell to his knees at her feet. Buffy looked down at him.

"You look good there," she said.

Faith's eyes were on Buffy; she watched Buffy from her head down to her toes as Trick knelt bleeding at Buffy's feet. Buffy felt it; she felt Faith's eyes caressing every inch of her. She liked the feeling.

Buffy picked Trick up by the throat, wiped her sword on his suit, and looked him in the eyes. Trick was dead weight in her hands.

"Got any more badinage for me, Tricky?" Buffy said. "I'm waiting."

"What's badinage?" Faith said.

"Banter," Buffy said. "Trick's smart. He's way into big words. I bet he even knows what 'intractable' means."

"You sure he's smart?" Faith said. "Pissing me and you off doesn't seem too smart to me."

Buffy lifted Trick up by the neck and looked him in the eyes again. "You vamps think you're scary?" she said. "You think you're the monsters? That's only because you haven't seen the monster I've got in me. THREATEN MY FRIENDS?! THREATEN MY FAMILY?!"

With a roar, she smashed him across the face with a backhand that sent him flying across the room and crashing into a wall thirty feet away.

Faith looked at Trick, lying motionless on the floor, then back at Buffy. She had allowed herself to think Buffy was soft, in the cemetery. Faith would never make that mistake again.

Buffy sat back down, and looked at the computer.

"Kill him," she said, as if she was telling Faith to get her a cup of coffee.

"He needs to tell us about K first," Faith said.

"He won't talk because he knows we're gonna kill him anyway," Buffy said. "He's a creampuff but he's not dumb, and we don't have all day to waste beating on him while he stalls and hopes Special K shows up to bail his undead ass out. Besides, I got it covered." She pointed at the computer screen. AOL's e-mail program was open. "Faith, welcome to the information superhighway, also known as 'What A Bunch of Nerds Think About Star Trek, Plus Porn'."

Faith looked at the computer screen over Buffy's shoulder while keeping one eye on Trick. Trick still wasn't moving. There was an open e-mail message on the screen from 'Kakistos12@aol.com', and a reply being composed to the same address. Faith liked the way Buffy's hair smelled.

"Kakistos12@aol.com?" Faith said.

"Sad when old guys try to get all cool and with it, huh?" Buffy said, and picked up one of the phones that sat beside the computer. "You take out the trash while I get Will working on backtracking this."

"Lightning bolts, locator spells, now computers too? Girl's a triple threat."

"Yeah, before the magic took off she was computer hacker girl. She broke into France's Defense Department by mistake and went all Matthew Broderick on their asses one night when Xander got her drunk on Cosmopolitans. The French computers got all, 'Would-you-like-to-play-a-game?' and there was almost a nuclear war between France and China. Will denies it, but Xander swears it really happened. Anyway she's always been my secret weapon. Faith...thanks. For what you did for Will. If those vamps had...if you hadn't been there...if I ever lost Will I don't know what I'd do. I owe you, Faith. More than I can ever pay back."

"Hey, no problem," Faith said, and smiled.

Faith stood over Trick, looking down at him. He lay on the floor, his body riddled with gunshot wounds, his face covered with blood, his torso sliced open, his hand clutched to his chest.

"Guess we won't be doing lunch," Faith said.

Trick didn't move.

"Gonna take B and me awhile to track Kakistos down," Faith said. "And we don't like to be kept waiting. Nope, we surely do not. We get bored, y'know? And then, well...we get impatient. And then we have to find a way to occupy ourselves. And someone to occupy ourselves with."

She kicked him in the ribs, and felt some of them break. Trick slammed into the wall, and groaned.

"Which makes you our fuckin' piñata," she said. "So you gonna get up or what? Gonna at least take a shot? Look at me."

He didn't look at her. He looked down at the floor, and bled.

"I SAID LOOK AT ME!" Faith screamed, and picked him up and smashed him back into the wall. "YOU'RE GONNA FUCKING LOOK AT ME!"

He looked at her. He saw Faith drop her sword to the floor.

"Tell you what," Faith said. "Free shot. I'll give you a free shot."

She let him go, and he slumped back to the floor.

"Well?" she said. "Take a shot."

He didn't move.

"Take a fuckin' shot!" she said. "Grow a dick and take a fuckin' shot!"

Trick shook his head, and looked down at the floor. Waiting for death.

"Christ," Faith said, disgusted. "Even K's got more balls than you, and I cut his off." She picked Trick up again and slammed him back against the wall. He whimpered. She pulled her stake out of her back pocket, and showed it to him.

"Said I'd stick you like a fucking pig someday, Trick," Faith said. "I always keep a promise."

She pointed the stake at his heart.

"Got anything to say?" she said. "You were a talkative motherfucker in Boston. Famous last words? Fashion advice? Maybe some badinage? Anything?"

"Fuck...you," Trick grunted, and closed his eyes, and groaned.

Faith smiled. "Yeah," she said. "That's better."

She spit in his face.

"Becca says fuck you too," Faith snarled, and staked him.

"You okay?" Buffy said, when Faith eventually came back.

"No," Faith said. "Got a line on K?"

Buffy put her hand on Faith's shoulder, and touched her hair. "Will came through," she said, pointing to the computer screen. "She backtracked his e-mail and found the computer he's sending from."
"Good," Faith said. "So we can go there and kick the shit out of him. Where's he at?"

"Across town, about twenty minutes from here. But I think there might be a better way to do this. Trick and K have been e-mailing each other..."

"Shoot K an e-mail. Pretend we're Trick, tell him to meet us. Set a trap."

"Great minds think alike. I say we bring him here, tell him Trick captured us. Wherever K is now it's his turf and he'll have the advantage there. But if we bring him here we can wire this place to explode right on top of him."

"I like it, but don't say Trick's got both of us, Trick's too much of a pansy to take us both down. Too much of a pansy to take even one of us, but there's no way K believes Trick nabbed us both without any vamp goons backing him up. Say Trick's got me. I'm the one K really wants anyway, he'll come out for me. Say I came here alone looking for Trick and he shot me."

"Makes sense, it's how it could've gone down anyway if you came here alone and he managed to get a shot off. I found something else on his computer too. He's got some program open I didn't recognize. Willow walked me through it. We were right. Trick was tapping our phones. Giles, my Mom."

"So K knows we got Giles and your Mom stashed."

"Yeah, but he doesn't know where. Turns out Will and I did take out all the hired help last night, Trick's got no men right now. He had no one watching the houses, so when I called Giles and told him to get the hell out of there Trick wasn't able to get there and follow the cab."

"You know that for sure? And what about Will and Xander? Trick have a line on them?"

"I've been reading his e-mails. Trick e-mailed K saying he was looking into recruiting more vamps. And they're worried about Willow, they're a lot more worried about her than they are about us, but they don't know who she is. Xander's not on their radar."

"Good. And I'd worry too if a witch torched all my guys with one shot."

"Lucky for us they don't know she can't just do it whenever she wants. And it turns out K's still hurt. Problem is he might be so hurt that we can't convince him to leave his place. What if he wants Trick to take you out to him?"

"Tell him I can't be moved, that I was shot bad and if they move me I could die. K wants to kill me himself. I don't care how hurt he is, a guy doesn't forget it when you cut his dick and balls off. He'll come out here, no way he leaves me to Trick."

"Okay," Buffy said. "Let's wire this place up and figure out just how we're gonna go at this guy. We should wire the front and back doors, we don't know which entrance he'll use, but that still gives us plenty of bang for our buck. Xander walked me through the remote detonators last year, they're easy. Set the dynamite, press the button, boom. Once we're wired I'll send the e-mail. Then..."

"Yeah," Faith said.

Then it would be over, one way or the other.

Faith wondered what she would do after that.

They lay together, side by side on the roof, watching.

An SUV with blacked-out windows turned the corner a few blocks away.

"Show time," Faith said.

They crawled on their bellies toward the other side of the roof, keeping low. Faith had the flamethrower on her back, and her katana in her hand. Buffy had her katana in one hand and four detonators in the other.

They reached the other side of the roof and were about to climb down the fire escape, when Buffy grabbed Faith's shoulder.

"Look," Buffy whispered.

Faith looked back, and saw the SUV parked near the front entrance. Its door was open, and she could see Kakistos inside...along with five other vampires. They all wore heavy hoods and cloaks.

"Son of a bitch," Faith muttered. "Where the hell does he get these guys?"

"It's only five," Buffy whispered.

"Still might slow us down some, and we need to be able to concentrate on K. Okay, here's what we'll do. You hit the detonators on schedule. I hop down there and torch the goons with the flamethrower while K's down. Then we both run at K like we planned."

"Got it," Buffy whispered, and looked at her sword. She smiled.

"Where is she, Trick?" Kakistos growled, as he opened the front door of the warehouse and limped inside, and two bundles of dynamite exploded a foot away from him. The explosion collapsed the doorframe and part of the roof, sending it all down on top of him and instantly incinerating one of the vampires who had been about to walk in behind him.

"Right here," Faith said, and strolled right up to the other four vampires from behind and sprayed them with the flame thrower. They burst into flames and ran around screaming for about two seconds, before exploding into dust.

Kakistos shrugged off the rubble and tried to stand. His face was covered with blood and his hood and cloak were gone, leaving him exposed to the sun. His skin, still partially burned from Willow's lightning strike, began to smoke. With a grunt of pain he leaped further into the warehouse to escape the sun, and fell to the floor. As he forced himself to stand again, Buffy ran at him with her katana and sliced his left arm off. He screamed, and tried an awkward punch with his right, but Buffy dodged and spun around behind him as gracefully as a ballerina and sliced his right arm off like it was the easiest thing in the world. Blood spurted from the stumps of his arms, and he fell to the floor again in shock.

"Hello, loser," Buffy said. "I'm Buffy."

He looked up, and saw her smiling down at him.

"You hurt my friends," Buffy said. "Mistake."

The blood continued to flow out from the stumps of his arms, collecting in a pool on the floor. Kakistos became very pale, and he began to shiver.

"And now Faith would like a word," Buffy said.

Kakistos managed to get himself up to his knees, before Faith kicked him in the face and knocked him back down again.

Faith stood above him, her sword ready. Buffy stepped back.

Kakistos struggled back up to his knees again, but he couldn't stand. He had lost too much blood. Faith watched him, silently.

They looked at each other. Kakistos was shivering badly now, and he was nearly unconscious. But Faith could still see the hatred in his eyes. And he smiled...a small smile.

Faith had rehearsed this moment in her mind a hundred times. She always knew just the right thing to say, when she rehearsed it. Just the right last words to send him off to hell with.

She looked down at him now, and couldn't think of anything to say.

No clever insults came to her mind. No taunts. No jokes. No catchphrases.

There was nothing to say. There didn't seem to be any point, now.

Faith started to cry.

There was nothing to say.


"For Becca," Faith said.

And she sliced his head off, and a depraved, malignant thing collapsed into dust...and a reign of brutality and terror that had lasted more than eight-hundred years finally came to an end.

Faith knelt down, in the pile of dust that had been Kakistos...the creature who had defiled and killed the person she loved most in the world.

"He's gone, Becca," she whispered, crying. "He's gone. He's gone."

Buffy knelt down beside her, and hugged her, as the rising sun finally found them.




They were all finally dead. Everyone who had anything to do with what happened to Rebecca was dead.

Faith didn't feel anything.

She didn't feel relieved or happy or even satisfied. She didn't feel anything at all...except the cold thing in her stomach that had been there since she saw Rebecca dying on the floor of the restaurant. The cold thing that she knew now would always be with her, as long as she lived.

They were back in the car now, driving to the motel. It wasn't even noon.

"Are you okay?" Buffy said.

"No," Faith said. "I don't think so."

Buffy touched her shoulder. "It takes time, Faith, when you lose someone," she said. "Give yourself time."

"You lost someone close to you?"

"My Dad."

"How'd it happen?"

Buffy leaned out the window, watching the streets pass by. They were downtown. The Exhibition Center was just a few blocks away. Her father used to take her to the Ice Capades there, when she was a little girl. "He didn't die," she said. "He left. One day he just stopped coming around. It was a little after I became the Slayer. My Mom always says they were having problems and it had nothing to do with me, but...I know it's my fault. I know he left because of me. He just...stopped loving me, I guess."

"Jesus," Faith said. "I'm sorry, B. That's rough."

"Yeah," Buffy said. She remembered the hospital where her parents had her committed for two weeks. Blue cinderblock walls, and rooms with metal doors, and shoes without laces. And apple juice with every meal. She hadn't been able to drink apple juice since.

"Men fucking suck sometimes," Faith said.

"Yeah," Buffy said.

"The fight with Kakistos was too quick, y'know?" Faith said. "I guess...I didn't expect it to be that quick."

"Be thankful for quick," Buffy said, and turned back to her, and pushed the memory of the hospital away. "Kakistos was tough. No way we could have lasted long against him in a straight-up fight."

"Might have been fun to try though."

"So he left you unsatisfied? Wham, bam, thank you ma'am? Aw, poor baby. At least you got the kills. I got bupkiss. Sure, I got some last night, but after everything we've been through today and then not getting any kills, I'm still all..."



"Girlfriend, I know just what you need."

"Oh you do, huh?" Buffy said, and crossed her legs. Faith looked at them again. They were good legs, but Buffy's knee-high boots covered up a lot of them. Faith wished Buffy had left the boots off.

Faith didn't know where they were going. She didn't know where they would end up. But they were driving fast and the wind was in her hair, and she couldn't wait to get there. Whatever was at the end of this road, she'd deal with it. If she really did like girls, Faith figured there was only one way to find out.

She felt something...a little thrill of fear.

And then she knew that this must be what the roller coaster feels like. She knew it must feel exactly like this.

Faith looked at Buffy again, and wondered what it would feel like to kiss her.

"Let's find us some vamps, honey," Faith said. "And then we'll get you taken care of."

Xander didn't feel much like swimming.

And he'd bought a bathing suit and everything.

He was kicking back on a lounge chair by the Olympic size swimming pool in Cordy's seemingly endless, perfectly landscaped giant golf course of a backyard, drinking lemonade and watching Willow as she dived off the diving board in her cute completely unrevealing one-piece bathing suit with the little polka dots. Giles and Joyce were in the pool, and Joyce kept shouting words of encouragement to Willow; Joyce had apparently been on the swim team in college, and she still had the figure for it. But noticing Joyce's body in that bathing suit made Xander feel a little guilty, so he tried not to. He tried not to notice Giles constantly and obviously flirting with Joyce either, because Giles was old and British and for God's sake he was Giles, and it was just gross.

Giles kept splashing Joyce, and laughing. Xander recalled he used to try that technique on girls too, when he was ten. He hadn't had much luck with it. It was working gangbusters for Giles though.

Willow was laughing too, as Joyce divided her time between losing her splash-fight with Giles, and shouting out helpful hints to her about proper form on the diving board. Willow hadn't actually, technically managed a competent dive yet; more like a series of near-bellyflops. The girl just wasn't aerodynamic. She'd always been a little bit clumsy. Even back when they were kids...

At first, when she had changed into her bathing suit, Xander had been disappointed that it wasn't a bikini. He thought Willow was pretty but she just never seemed to have any interest in showing herself off. A bikini on her would have made his day.

Then he saw her smiling, as she dived into the pool, and he didn't care about bikinis anymore. The smile made his day just fine.

Whatever happened in the alley, she seemed to have shrugged it off.

But something happened...

Xander watched her smile.

"Mr. Harris? Will there be anything else?" the maid said, suddenly standing above him. Conchita was always appearing out of nowhere. She was like a short, fat, Spanish ninja. She was always just suddenly there. She'd mentioned that Cordy had told her to make sure her guests were well taken care of and wanted for nothing. Just before Cordy went out shopping. It was Cordy's best approximation of politeness. Based on what Cordy imagined politeness must probably be; Xander knew it was a foreign concept to Cordy and she was still wrestling with it.

"Nah, I'm good, Conchita, thanks," Xander said. "Got my lemonade, got my goofy polka-dot diving board girl."

"Miss Rosenberg, she is not a good diver," Conchita said, shaking her head at Willow. Then she looked down at Xander, and smiled. "But very nice girl. And good in other ways, eh?" she said, and winked at him. "Muy bonita."

Visions of bad women in prison movies went through Xander's head. Usually he liked movies about women in prison. But this one had Conchita in it. She was in a cell with Willow and Xander knew which one of them was going to end up doing the other's laundry. He very forcefully and with prejudice dismissed the vision from his head and made sure the vision knew that it was never allowed to come back, ever.

"Uh...yeah. She's the cutest thing ever," Xander said.

"You should ask her out," Conchita said, and walked back to the house. "Listen to Conchita, she knows."

Cordy had taken off as soon as she possibly could after they arrived and it was a good deal all around: they didn't have to deal with Cordy, and Cordy got to go out and buy shiny things and not try to make polite conversation, something Xander knew from painful experience that Cordy was spectacularly bad at. Still, she did have a way of cutting through the bullshit. The line between blunt and rude is a fuzzy one and Cordy crossed it with regularity and abandon, but she would've found out what happened in the alley. She would've found out by saying, "So what happened in the alley?" Xander knew that's exactly what Cordy would have said.

"Xander!" Willow shouted, laughing, apparently, at something British that Giles had said. Giles was laughing too, not realizing that he was more being laughed at than with; but the fact that he often couldn't tell the difference was one of his more endearing qualities. Joyce was shaking her head at Giles, in that exact way that Buffy always shook her head at Giles.

"Come into the pool!" Willow shouted. Then she did her scowly face, which was, by Xander's estimate, the cutest thing in the entire history of the world. "Don't make me come over there, young man," she said.

"I'm high and dry, Will," Xander said, and waved her off.

Willow jumped out of the pool and walked over to him. She had nice legs. Xander always knew she had nice legs. But for some reason he was more aware of it today...more aware of everything about her today. He held up a towel for her and Willow took it, and dried off her hair, and sat on the lounge chair beside him.

"You're not swimming. You're all mopey," she said.

"Mopey people don't swim," Xander said.

She looked at him, with those big green eyes. She smiled.

"I'm all like, doing these cool dives for you in my cute little bathing suit and you're over here not even giving me any eye candy," Willow said. "Not fair."

"Your cute non-little, actually very big, bathing suit," Xander said. "And you saw the package when I joined the swim team that time."

"People turning into lizards sorta ruined the mood. So why, y'know, with the mopey? And, hey! You better not be calling me fat."

"You're not fat. I just meant you should've worn a bikini, that's all."

"Yeah?" she said, and smiled.

"Yeah," he said, and leaned over, and kissed her.

Xander thought it was a hell of a kiss. In fact, Xander thought it was the best kiss ever. He wondered why he had never kissed Willow before.

The kiss made Xander feel like he'd found something...something that belonged to him, that he had somehow lost for a time without even knowing it.

Conchita, she knows, Xander thought.

"Um..." Willow said, eventually, and blushed. It had been a long kiss, too.

"Let's have a talk," Xander said.

"Here," Buffy said.

Faith pulled over and parked. It was still a pain in the ass parking when the steering wheel was on the wrong side of the car, but she was starting to get used to it. She didn't hit anything this time.

They were on a dead end dirt road, at the top of a hill. A few run-down houses dotted the road, low ranch style houses like a lot of the places Faith had seen in Sunnydale, and there were a lot of trees. The other side of the hill meandered through scrub brush and wildflowers down to a little stagnant pond. There were squirrels, and the old-fashioned kind of mailboxes that stood out by the road, and the lawns in front of the houses were all overgrown with weeds.

"There are vamps here?" Faith said, as they got out of the car. The sun was bright, and there were birds singing. "Doesn't look too vampy to me."

"That's how they stayed under my radar," Buffy said. "My bartender tipped me that the place at the top of the hill up there is some kind of vamp drug den, I've been meaning to check it out. The way it works is, people come in, pay some cash, the vamps give them stuff to shoot up with, then the vamps take some of their blood once the stuff's in their system. Everybody gets high, the vamps get a free blood supply, and the civilians get their kicks being drained by vamps without being killed or turned."

"Shit, and people get off on that?" Faith said.

Buffy thought back to her fight with Angelus. He had her pinned, and he bit into her neck and began draining her. She remembered how it felt, with him on top of her, taking her...the quick, sharp pain as his fangs penetrated her...the feeling of her blood, steadily coursing out of her body, entering his, and strengthening him...the warm, enervating, numb feeling that spread through her body, and made her want to sleep. He held her down as he drained her, but his grip softened, as she slowly stopped struggling. His rough touch became a caress.

She orgasmed, and whispered, "Angel".

And he stopped...

And Buffy stuck a sword through his heart, and sent him to hell.

"Yeah...I guess so," Buffy said. "Some weird people out there, I guess."

They walked to the top of the hill. The little house there had seen better days: the shingles were falling off and the paint had faded to a streaked, dull gray. There was an old orange Chevy Vega in the front yard, up on cinderblocks. The entrance to the house was a screen door at the top of three cracked wooden steps. The dirty old doormat said, "Bless This House".

"How many we looking at?" Faith said.

"There are supposed to be three vamps who run it, then you have the occasional visiting vamps, plus whatever civilians happen to be around donating blood," Buffy said. "But this time of day, who knows what we'll find in there."

"Whatever vamps are in there, you need 'em all?"

"If you're a good little secretary maybe I'll throw you one."

"Hey, I take great dictation, Boss," Faith said. "But if you want 'em all for yourself that's cool. I like to watch too."

"Then I'll give you a little show," Buffy said.

They walked up the stairs, and stood in front of the door.

"Your show, girlfriend," Faith said. "How you wanna play this?"

"Loud," Buffy said, and kicked the door in.

"That's my girl," Faith said.

"This is a bedroom?" Xander said, when he and Willow walked into Cordy's room. "They could park cars in here."

"You know Cordy," Willow said. "She's just...so you kissed me. I mean, hello? You kissed me."

"I'm sorry," Xander said.

"Oh...that's...don't worry, no big..." Willow said, and sat down on Cordy's bed, and fidgeted with her hair, twisting it into little loops. "No! I mean...big! Really big! Worry! I want you to be all worried! So you kissed me and you're sorry? And that's supposed to make it...what? Okay? So like, you kissed me and that's...I mean...you kissed me! And now you're sorry? What does that mean? That you didn't like kissing me? That kissing me is bad? That I'm all, the girl you can't kiss? Hey, can't, y'know, ever kiss Willow, because that would just be..."

"Okay, a couple things," Xander said, and sat next to her. "First, all that stuff you just said? Made no sense whatsoever. Second, I'm not sorry I kissed you. I'm sorry if you didn't want me to kiss you. But I liked kissing you and--"

Willow leaned over, and kissed him.

"We both talk too much, don't we?" Xander said.

"Kinda, yeah," Willow said. "And then like, the more either of us talks? The less sense we make. Buffy thinks there's a math formula for it. So now what? What are we...what are we doing?"

"Not talking enough,' Xander said, and stood up, and looked at her. He noticed every single thing about her. As if he was seeing her for the first time.

She looked up at him, still twisting her hair into little loops, her legs crossed modestly. She had big, beautiful green eyes. Her eyebrows were raised in that nervous, expectant way she had. Her skin was very pale, and she had freckles on her nose. Her fingers were long and delicate; her feet were small. She had red nail polish on her fingernails and her toenails. Her nipples showed a little against the bathing suit. Her red hair, still wet, fell straight down over her shoulders. She'd been letting it grow lately. She had goosebumps.

She was the most beautiful girl Xander had ever seen. He didn't understand how he had never noticed that before.

"So what happened in the alley?" Xander said.

The house was dark and hot and stuffy and it smelled like blood. Buffy and Faith were able to detect a medicinal smell as well, presumably the drugs the vampires used. The ceilings were low, cheap vinyl drop ceilings in panels, and the whole house seemed cramped. The floor of the long hallway they found themselves in was covered with a red shag rug, and the long wall was done up in fake wood paneling.

The place smelled like vampires too. But the smell was everywhere, and difficult to pinpoint, even for Buffy and Faith.

"Whole place smells like vamps," Faith said.

"We'll go room to room," Buffy said.

And they did, starting with the first room they came across, a living room that looked like it had fallen into a time warp in 1976. There were no vampires in the room, but it was still frightening: there was a black beanbag chair and a white leather couch, and the wallpaper was big, garish white flowers and vines on a black background. The rug was deep red shag, there was a painting of a little girl with gigantic, exaggerated eyes on the wall that was even worse than the painting in Faith's motel, and an honest-to-God lava lamp stood in the corner. The coffee table was rectangular white translucent plastic. An ashtray shaped like the Rolling Stones' "tongue" logo stood on top of it, filled to the brim with cigarette butts. The room's token gesture to modernity was a television set on a cheap stand with a Sega Genesis videogame system hooked up to it.

"What the hell is this?" Faith said. "The Partridge Family live here?"

"Either them or the Bradys during Mike's perm phase," Buffy said.

"Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!" Faith said.

There was a small extra bedroom off the living room behind a bead curtain; when they checked it out they found bunk beds, drug paraphernalia, an ironing board and someone's videogame collection, but still no vampires. They walked back down the long hallway and found another bedroom leading off of it. A pretty vampire who looked like she belonged back in the living room with the lava lamp was brushing her long, blonde hair in front of the mirror. She cast no reflection, but she was high enough that little details like that weren't a problem for her right now. She was barefoot on the omnipresent red shag rug, wearing faded bellbottom jeans and an Abba tee-shirt. Every inch of her seemed covered with jewelry; each of her fingers had a big, gaudy ring on it, she had at least three bracelets on each wrist, her neck practically bent under the weight of her beads, and gold hoop earrings dangled from her ears.

There was a big poster of a unicorn taped to one wall, and a massive sound system with four-foot high speakers took up the other wall, with a stack of old records sitting in a haphazard pile beside it. A badly painted yellow bureau and a bed covered with fluffy pillows were the only other furniture in the room.

"What was up with the seventies?" Faith said.

"Giles thinks it was a magic spell," Buffy said. "Apparently cast by someone with terrible fashion sense."

"Good an explanation as any, I guess," Faith said.

The vampire was humming to herself, and swaying, with her eyes half shut. She didn't seem to realize they were there.

"Whatever she's smoking, I want some," Faith said.

Buffy walked up to the vampire and tapped her on the shoulder. The vampire turned and squinted at her.

"Hi, I'm gonna just stake you now," Buffy said, and staked her.

They walked out of the room, back up the long hallway. The kitchen ahead of them was empty. To their right, they heard a toilet flushing and a young girl walked out of the bathroom. She gasped and jumped when she saw Faith and Buffy, but she wasn't a vampire.

"Jesus, you guys scared me," she said, and laughed nervously, her blue eyes unfocused, the pupils very small. She was a skinny little thing wearing a top that was unbuttoned too far and a skirt that was too short, and too much makeup. She teetered atop her high heels. She looked like she was about thirteen. She was pale, and her neck was bandaged. "You here to score?"

"Nope. We're here to kill a lot of folks," Faith said.

"So leave," Buffy said. "Now."

"Uh, okay," the girl said, and turned right around and wobbled back down the hall and out the door.

The only other room was a bedroom to their left, and when they opened the door they found two vampires, a man and a woman, practically comatose on the floor beside a big bed covered with leopard-print sheets. The man had dreadlocks and wore sandals. The woman was fat, with frizzy, permed hair, huge sunglasses, and a dolphin tattoo on her ankle. The rug was green shag this time. There was a blacklight poster of the Silver Surfer on the wall, and an overturned bowl of pretzels on the floor. The medicinal smell was strong here.

"I don't frigging believe this," Buffy said.

"Not gettin' you off, huh?" Faith said.

"Hippie girl and these two idiots?" Buffy said. Even if I woke them up they couldn't put up a fight, they're wasted." She shook her head in disgust and staked them both.

"Yeah," Faith said. "Sucks when they can't put up a fight first."

They looked around for a cellar, but there wasn't one. They had checked every room. They walked back down the hallway.

"Sorry, B," Faith said. She could see the tension in Buffy, the tightness in her shoulders, the pent-up energy in her stride. That energy needed a release and it hadn't gotten one. "Those were some pretty weak-ass vamps."

"Yeah," Buffy said, stalking down the hall. "Only one of them was even fucking awake."

The swear sounded awkward and ugly, coming from Buffy then. It didn't sound like her.

"Hey," Faith said, as they passed the bedroom with the unicorn poster.

Buffy stopped, and looked at her.

The problem, Faith realized, was that she had no idea what came after "Hey". She stood there, looking back at Buffy. Her skin felt too tight. She wanted to climb out of it.

Faith felt stuck, suspended. She didn't know what to do. She was at the top of the roller coaster, in that one moment when the car teeters on the brink, just before it falls...

Faith's scent came to Buffy, much stronger than the smell of vampires or drugs or blood that permeated the house. It was strong, but sweet...like peaches. Buffy's whole body felt hot. Her legs felt weak. She touched the wall with her hand, steadying herself. She knew she was on the edge of a cliff...

With a snarl, Buffy slammed Faith against the wall and kissed her...and let herself fall.

Willow looked down at the floor. "I, um, already told you," she said. "Three vampires chased me into the alley, and then Faith showed up."

"Says the girl who's the worst liar in the world," Xander said. There was something wrong in her voice again.

Willow kept looking down at the floor. Her hands were in her lap, and she was bent forward, like she was trying to curl herself into a ball.

"You told Buffy," Xander said. "Why can't you tell me?"

Willow shook her head.

"Did they...do something to you?" Xander said. He was scared now. He'd been thinking all day about what could have happened to Willow in the alley...

But he hadn't allowed himself to think about what could have happened to Willow in the alley.

"Willow...I'm your best friend," he said. "Talk to me."

"They..." Willow whispered. Then she stopped, and shook her head.

"I don't...I need...I need to know," Xander said.

"They tried...to do stuff to me," Willow said, still not looking at him. "But Faith got there before they could. They tried to..."

She looked up at Xander, and saw a tear rolling down his cheek.

"They...tried to rape me, Xander," Willow said. She took his hand. "But they didn't. Faith stopped them before they could. Faith stopped them. They hit me but they weren't able to...they didn't have a chance to do anything else."

He sat down next to her, in a daze.

"Now you know," Willow said. "Are you happy now?"

"Am I happy?" he said. "Am I happy?"

"I didn't...mean it like that."

He got up, and paced around the room.

"Am I happy," he said.

"Xander, I didn't mean it like that," Willow said. "Look, can we just drop this? You wanted to know and now you know. The vampires are dead. I don't wanna think about this anymore, okay? I'm...I'm over it."



"Bullshit! You just...you just wanna freeze me out on this. You told Buffy, had a real heart to heart with her. But your friend since frigging kindergarten? No, you kept me out. If I hadn't brought it up you never would have told me."

"What are you...? Why are you being like this? Why can't you just--"

"How could you not tell me?! After everything we've meant to each other, all our lives! And you keep this from me? What the fuck were you thinking?! What were you thinking, Willow?!" he screamed, crying now.

"No!" Willow shouted, and leaped off the bed. "Don't you act like you're...like I have some...obligation to tell you this! You're not...yeah, sure, you're my oldest friend! But you're not my boyfriend, okay? It's not like you have some right to know this! I told Buffy because she's a girl and she's my friend and she would understand! You're a guy! So yeah, okay, what was I thinking? I was thinking maybe this isn't about you! It's about me! And maybe it's...maybe it's none of your business!"

Willow was crying now too.

"I want it to be my business," Xander said, and touched her hair.

"Oh, sure! Right!" Willow shouted, and slapped his hand away. "Now you act like...you act like you're all, all my boyfriend! Good old Willow, she'll always be there when your first choice rejects you! Maybe I should almost get gang-raped every day! Then you'd actually notice me!"

"That's...how could you even...? That's not how it is," Xander said.

"Who's bullshitting now?" Willow said. "You're not my boyfriend. You don't get to have all of me. There are parts you don't get to have."

"I...but...maybe...I want to be, Willow."

"No!" Willow screamed. "You don't want to be! This is just, because some vampires almost raped me and now you're all, I don't know what you are! But this, this isn't the way it's supposed to be! If you wanted me you would've wanted me before. I would've been your first choice, instead, of, y'know, the girl you invite to the dance when everyone else said no! You NEVER wanted to be with me, all you've ever done is TEASE ME!"

He looked her in the eyes. He had spent his whole life looking into those green eyes; he knew them better than anyone...

He had spent his whole life looking at this girl. But now, he finally understood...that he had never really seen her.

"You're right," Xander said. He walked away from her, and looked out the window. Giles and Joyce were kissing in the pool. Xander made a mental note to be dumbstruck about that later.

Right now, he had to try to salvage his life. Because if he lost Willow...

He saw his life, looming in front of him, like a long, lonely road in the dark. He couldn't walk that road alone. There was one person he needed with him. Without her...there just wasn't any reason to bother. Without her his whole life would be walking in the dark.

"Okay, so we both know I can be pretty dumb," Xander said. "Math, science...Willow. Three subjects I'm always lagging behind in. I need remedial Willow classes."

He turned to her. She was still crying. He wanted to hold her. If he couldn't, he thought he'd die. He saw all the years of his life stretching out ahead of him...long, cold years in the dark.

"Yeah. I take you for granted," Xander said. "Because I'm dumb. You've always been important to me, you've always been my best friend, and it...blinded me a little, I guess. And yeah, I wish so much that it hadn't taken me this long, that I had seen this years ago but...today, every time I look at you...it's like I'm realizing over and over again how beautiful you are. And it's not because of what happened in the alley. It was before I even knew about the alley...it was last night, when you and Buffy came to my house at four in the morning, when you knocked on my window in the dark, and the moon was behind you, and you were smiling. It was then. It was right then. It was then that...suddenly...I realized you're the most beautiful girl in the world and how much...how much I love you. So yeah, I'm dumb. Sometimes, the really special stuff...you don't notice it at first. At least, not when you're a dumb guy like me."

"I'm...beautiful?" Willow said.

"Yeah," Xander said. "You are."

"You...love me?" Willow said.

"Yeah," Xander said. "I do."

It wasn't a romantic kiss. It wasn't tender. It was hungry. Buffy's lips tore into Faith's, her tongue jammed into Faith's mouth, her hands wrenched Faith's hair, pulling her closer.

It caught Faith off guard. She froze. But then Buffy's tongue felt so soft, and Buffy's scent was all around her...

And Faith let herself fall, and let Buffy take her.

They kissed for a few minutes, the kisses eventually becoming softer, more gentle. Buffy wasn't yanking Faith's hair anymore, she was tenderly stroking it. Her tongue wasn't stabbing into Faith's mouth, but licking it, exploring it. They opened their eyes, and finally looked at each other.

Buffy slowly moved her hand to Faith's breasts, and caressed them, her hand shaking a little. She could feel Faith's heart beating like a triphammer.

Faith's fingers touched Buffy's thigh. Buffy moved closer to her. She rested her head on Faith's shoulder, and kissed her neck.

Faith's fingers moved up under Buffy's skirt, and brushed against her panties. Buffy's body was very warm there, and wet. Buffy gasped, when Faith touched her there, her lips against Faith's ear.

Faith put her arms around her, brought her closer, and kissed her again.

"What are we doing?" Buffy whispered, between kisses.

"I don't know," Faith whispered back. "I got absolutely no damn idea."

They were both sweating, and breathing like they had just run a marathon.

"Do you...want to stop?" Buffy said.

"Do you?" Faith said.

Buffy stood there, looking down at the floor, with Faith's arms around her. But she didn't move away.

Buffy was afraid. Faith could smell it on her.

Faith was afraid, too. But she didn't mind feeling afraid...it was better than feeling cold.

Buffy looked up at her.

Faith knew what the look meant. It was a line in the sand.

The look in Buffy's eyes said, cross it.

Faith threw Buffy into the bedroom. Buffy fell to the floor, and Faith leaped on top of her, and kissed her again.

Faith held Buffy down. Buffy wrapped her legs around her, and Faith rammed her body into Buffy's like she was fucking her. She wrenched Buffy's boots off. Buffy yanked at Faith's tee-shirt, ripped it off of her, tore off Faith's bra, and slid her head down until she could put her mouth on Faith's breasts. She sucked hungrily at them, while Faith held her there, her hand pulling at Buffy's hair. Faith's breasts tasted salty from her sweat; Buffy liked the taste.

After a few minutes Buffy flung Faith off of her, jumped up, and threw Faith across the room. Faith crashed into the wall, cracking it, and fell to the floor. Buffy threw herself on top of her, ripping her own sweater to pieces and flinging it away. She fumbled at her bra but her hands were shaking, and she couldn't work the snaps. "Get that fucking thing off!" Faith growled in her ear, and she tore Buffy's bra in two and flung it away.

Buffy slammed Faith's arms down to the floor and pinned her there. Faith didn't resist. She moaned as she kissed and sucked on Buffy's breasts, loving Buffy's taste, loving Buffy's scent, loving the strength in Buffy's arms as she held her down.

After awhile Faith moved her head down Buffy's stomach, kissing her way toward her waist. Buffy still held her to the floor, but allowed her to move. When she couldn't move her head down any further, Faith looked up at her. Faith was covered with Buffy's scent now, but she wanted more. She wanted to taste where it was strongest.

Buffy released Faith's hands. But Faith remained in her submissive pose, her legs spread, her pelvis arched. She tried the zipper on Buffy's skirt but Buffy would have to get up off of her in order to get it off, and Faith didn't want that. So she ripped the skirt off of her. She brought Buffy closer, until Buffy was kneeling above her lips, wearing only her panties. Faith thought she looked scared again.

Faith gently caressed Buffy, in the place where her scent was strongest. Buffy gasped, and trembled.

Faith slipped a finger under Buffy's panties. With a sudden look of panic in her eyes, Buffy grabbed Faith's hands, stopping her.

Faith looked up at her, and waited.

Buffy let Faith's hands go, and stood up. She hesitated...and then she took off her panties.

Faith took Buffy's hand, and brought her back down to her. She caressed Buffy again, as Buffy knelt naked above her. Buffy was wet now where Faith caressed her, and she moaned; it was the prettiest thing Faith had ever heard.

"I wanna kiss it, honey," Faith whispered. "Let me kiss it for you."

Buffy hesitated again. Faith waited.

They looked at each other.

"Please?" Faith said.

And Buffy moved herself to Faith's lips, and let Faith kiss her there.

"Are you ready?" Xander said. He and Willow were naked together, on Cordy's bed.

Willow nodded. "And I can see you sure are," she said, and smiled.

"You're really good at getting a guy ready," he said, and moved on top of her, and kissed her.

She adjusted herself underneath him, and put her hands on his shoulders. She felt him against her. She felt herself parting for him. "You were a little too ready at first," she said. "I hope it's all out of your system."

"Believe me, you got it all out of my system. Every last drop."

Willow giggled. Then she looked at the bedsheets. "Hey, do you think Cordy will notice...I mean...um, there are stains."

"I'm thinking the bedsheets are a lost cause, Will," Xander said. "We'll blame leprechauns. Leprechauns did it. Those wily leprechauns..."

"Yup. Leprechauns," Willow said. "You're pretty good at getting a girl ready too."

"Well, you were either getting ready or you were having an epileptic fit."

Willow giggled again. "Trust me, it wasn't an epileptic fit," she said.

"My tongue's tired," Xander said. "I need stronger tongue muscles."

"Don't worry, sweetie, I'm gonna put that tongue of yours on a regular exercise regimen," Willow said.

They laughed.

"Why do I have the feeling you're gonna be the one wearing the pants in this relationship?" Xander said.

"Maybe sometimes I'll wear sexy lingerie if you've been good and you keep up with your exercise regimen," Willow said. "Maybe a bikini too."

"I've...uh...never actually done this before," Xander said, and stroked her hair. Willow moved her hips beneath him, and drew him slowly inside her.

"Me neither," Willow said, and moaned, as she adjusted to him. He was halfway in now. It hurt a little. But she liked how it hurt.

"You've got the easy job," Xander said. "Wow. This sure is...you know, they showed us that movie in health class? But...the reality is just...a lot more..."

"We talk too much," Willow murmured, and kissed him, and wrapped her legs around him.

After Buffy came, she fell down on top of Faith, and they lay on the floor, catching their breath. They could feel their hearts beating against each other, beating together. Faith felt like she was swimming in a river of Buffy's scent.

When her breathing was back under control, Faith flipped herself over and threw Buffy down beneath her. Buffy didn't resist her.

Buffy grabbed Faith around the waist, and moved her forward until Faith was kneeling on top of her. Faith allowed it, but when Buffy tried to pull her jeans down, Faith moved herself back. She shook her head, and slapped Buffy's hands away. Then she moved herself forward again, until she was kneeling directly above Buffy's lips. When Buffy tried to pull down Faith's jeans again, Faith moved herself back again, and smiled.

"Bitch," Buffy said.

They both started giggling.

"I want a promotion first," Faith said.

"Executive secretary," Buffy said.

Faith nodded, and gently kissed her.

Faith noticed Buffy's shoulder wound for the first time. The bandage had torn off, and there was an ugly scab where the bullet had gone through. Faith kissed it.

"It's my turn to take dictation now," Buffy said.

"Get that little ass on that fucking bed," Faith growled.

Faith helped Buffy up, gave her ass a little pat, and threw her onto the bed. She jumped on her and they rolled around, jamming their tongues in each other's mouths again, feeling the energy coursing through them again. They pulled each other's hair, and licked and caressed and clawed at each other, and fought like cats: first one would conquer the other, forcing her down, making her surrender, then the other would gain the upper hand. They fought and kissed their way across the bed, reveling in each other's strength, luxuriating in each other's scent.

Buffy tore at Faith's jeans, trying to get them down, but they were too tight. "Fucking jeans!" Buffy screamed, and finally grabbed them by the waistband and ripped them in two and flung them away. She pushed Faith down into the bed, and tore Faith's boots and socks off, and ripped her panties down.

They were both naked now, and Faith wrapped her legs around Buffy and they started grinding their bodies together, fucking each other, faster and faster, sweat dripping off them, their hearts pounding, the air dragging in and out of their lungs, barely able to keep up with them.

After a few minutes, Faith threw Buffy off. She pinned Buffy down on the bed, and moved herself above Buffy's lips.

Faith looked down at her, and raised her eyebrow.

"All you got?" Faith said.

Slowly, Buffy raised her arms from the bed and tried to sit up, pitting her strength against Faith's.

Their arms shaking with the strain, they kissed, as Faith tried to force her down, and Buffy struggled to sit up...and then Buffy stopped struggling, and let Faith throw her back down to the bed again.

They each took a moment to catch their breath. They looked each other in the eyes.

"Lie down for me, baby," Buffy whispered. "No more playing now."

Faith hesitated...

Then she let Buffy up, and slowly lay back on the bed.

Buffy moved down to Faith's pussy, but Faith kept her legs closed tight. She moved her arms around in front of herself, like she was trying to hide. She kept fussing with her hair. Buffy smiled, and took Faith's hand, and kissed it. Faith relaxed a little, and allowed Buffy to gently open her legs. Faith was wet.

Buffy gave her a gentle kiss there...

When she looked up, she saw Faith crying.

"Hey," Buffy said, and moved back up beside Faith, and hugged her. "Hey, hey...it's okay, Faith. It's okay. It's okay."

She pulled Faith toward her, and Faith rested her head on Buffy's breasts. Buffy gently ran her fingers up and down Faith's stomach.

"What's wrong?" Buffy said.

"It's...just..." Faith said, sniffling. She looked up at Buffy, and smiled as she cried. "I'm just...I'm just being stupid," Faith said.

"You're not stupid," Buffy said. "Just tell me what's wrong. If it's...if you don't want to do this, if it's too much, we don't have to..."

Faith shook her head. "I want to, B," she said. "I want to with you. But it's just...no one ever really...I've never been...touched there."

"Do you want me to stop? Do you want me...not to touch you?" Buffy said.

"Don't stop," Faith said. "I like...I like your hand there."

"Like this?" Buffy said, and started rubbing Faith's belly. "Do you like when I do this?"

Faith nodded.

"Faith, are you saying...I'm your first?" Buffy said. "That's okay, you know. There's nothing wrong with that."

Faith shook her head.

"There's been guys, y'know?" Faith said. "But they...none of them ever..."

"But they...didn't touch you?" Buffy said. "I don't understand. Why wouldn't they want to...?"

"They just...did their business and got off," Faith said, and turned her back to her. Faith's voice was harsh, when she said that; it was like a gun going off in the room.

Faith felt Buffy looking at her.

"I wasn't a hooker, if that's what you're thinking," Faith said, and sat up, and wiped her tears away. "Maybe I might as well have been though."

"Hey," Buffy said, and gently brought her back down toward her. "I wasn't thinking that. I wasn't."

Faith was still turned away from her. Buffy gently turned her around.

"Faith, look at me," Buffy said.

Faith looked at her. There were tears running down Faith's cheeks again.

"I would never think that," Buffy said. "Never."

Faith nodded, and Buffy kissed her tears...kissed each one as it came.

"What are you doing?" Faith said, giggling.

"I'm gonna kiss you until you can't cry anymore," Buffy said. "I got more kisses than you got tears."

"It tickles," Faith said.

"I fight tears with tickles, and tickles always win," Buffy said, and smiled, and kept kissing her tears. Faith giggled again, and nodded, and stopped crying.

"Put your hand back there?" Faith said, turning over on her side. She took Buffy's hand and put it back on her stomach. Buffy started rubbing her belly again, and kissing her neck. Faith's scent was strong at the back of her neck, below her ears. Buffy kissed her there.

"How's this, baby?" Buffy whispered. "Is this good?"

Faith nodded.

Buffy kissed Faith's neck, and rubbed her belly. They were both quiet.

"I can't come," Faith said, after a few minutes. "I never could. I can't."

"What?" Buffy said. "What do you mean you can't?"

"Guys...I never came when we did it. Never came even if I tried to get myself off either. I'm...what do they call it? I'm frigid."

"No, you're not," Buffy said.

"I am, B."

Buffy turned her around, and hugged her, and kissed her.

"Look," Buffy said. "I'm not saying I'm like, Doctor Ruth, okay? I mean, I've only had sex like, once before. And, really didn't ever think I'd be hopping in bed with a girl, but...anyway...frigid is a word guys came up with to make themselves feel better. There's no such thing."

"What was it like?" Faith said.

"What, you mean the one time?"


"He was...I loved him, and he loved me. And it was great. It was the best day of my life. The day after that...well, that wasn't so great. But that's a whole other story. The thing is, it was great because we were together, Faith. Because we were thinking about each other...sharing it with each other."

Buffy kissed her again, and caressed her cheek.

"Faith," Buffy said. "The guys you were with didn't deserve you. They were there to take something from you and what they did to you wasn't right. But the way sex is meant to be? It's meant to be about giving. Let me give this to you. Let me make you feel the way you made me feel."

"What if I...can't come?" Faith said.

"Well, like I said, not the expert here? But I think it's about trust. I think you just need to be relaxed, and to be able to trust the person you're with, that they're not out to use you, or hurt you. That way you can concentrate on just feeling good. Do you...do you trust me? Do you trust that I don't want to use you, or take anything from you? That I'm not doing this to hurt you?"

Faith nodded. Buffy moved her fingers down Faith's stomach, just below her waist, and stopped there.

"Are you sure?" Buffy said. "We don't have to, if you're not sure."

"I want to, with you," Faith said.

Buffy kissed her.

"I'm gonna make you come now, okay, baby?" Buffy said.

Faith nodded.

Buffy kissed Faith's neck, and her breasts...

She kissed her way down Faith's stomach, feeling Faith's abdominal muscles moving beneath her lips, contracting wherever she touched them...

She kissed Faith's belly button; it was a tiny little outie. Faith giggled like a little girl. She was ticklish there.

Buffy smiled, and gently spread Faith's legs, and moved down between them.

They looked at each other.

Faith was still afraid. Buffy could smell it on her.

She took Faith's hand.

And Faith purred like a kitten, as Buffy covered her most intimate place with kisses...

Cordelia snuck upstairs, piled down with shopping bags, hoping to avoid Buffy's nerd brigade. She'd hoped they'd all be gone by now but no such luck; she'd heard splashing out back by the pool when she parked her car, and unless Conchita had been at the wine coolers again and had decided it was time for the semi-annual rite of inflicting the sight of herself in a bikini on Cordy's innocent retinas, that meant they were still here. If she could just make it to her room without any of them seeing her she could lock herself in and try on all her new outfits and hopefully they'd all go away eventually. With some luck all of them were out by the pool and they wouldn't even notice she'd gotten back.

Cordy had known the day would be a disaster from the get-go; she'd decided the moment after she'd agreed to this that the only way she'd get through it was by sticking to a regimen of vigorous shopping and having Conchita run interference. She had thought Willow and Xander would be the problem, but it hadn't turned out that way. The problem was Buffy's mother. Willow and Xander had basically avoided Cordy and Cordy liked that fine. Giles had said a few British things she hadn't understood and then had gone away. But Joyce kept on talking to her, kept on trying to be nice to her and asking her about school and her friends. Apparently she had been popular back in the Stone Age and she thought they could both bond over it. She had a tediously earnest perkiness that made Cordy realize that Buffy's uncanny ability to annoy her must have a genetic component. Joyce kept hinting around that maybe Buffy belonged with the cool crowd. And maybe she did, Cordy knew, but Buffy had chosen to burn that bridge. And even if Cordy decided to extend the invitation again out of the kindness of her heart, Joyce actually seemed to think Willow belonged with the cool crowd too. It was bewildering.

She opened the door to her room, saw Willow and Xander having sex on her bed, and closed the door to her room.

"Great! And now I'm scarred for life," Cordy said.

When Faith came, a shudder went through her, and she cried.

"It's okay, baby," Buffy said, and moved up beside her again, and hugged her, and wiped her tears away. "It's okay. It's okay."

Faith kissed Buffy, and smiled, and rested her head on her breasts.

"Guess I'm not frigid," Faith said.

"Told you," Buffy said. "You just needed some hot Buffy lovin'."

"Yeah," Faith said, and giggled.

"How did it feel?" Buffy said, running her fingers through Faith's hair.

"Friggin' awesome," Faith said, and giggled again.


Faith snuggled up closer to Buffy, and Buffy put her arms around her, and kissed her. Faith kissed Buffy's breasts. She took one of Buffy's nipples in her mouth, and started sucking on it.

"Mmmm. That feels good, baby," Buffy said.

Faith closed her eyes, and sucked on Buffy's nipple, as Buffy ran her fingers through her hair...

When Faith opened her eyes again, she realized she had fallen asleep. She looked up. Buffy was smiling down at her.

"Hey," Buffy said.

"Hey. Did I, uh, fall asleep?" Faith said.

"You took a little nap. It's okay."

"Sorry. I guess I just got kinda comfortable. Your boobs are real nice to lie on. Like pillows."

"I didn't mind," Buffy said. "I like having you like this. Besides, it was only maybe half an hour. I can be Buffy the pillow if you want."

Faith rested her head on Buffy's breasts again. She liked being there.

"You tired, baby? You wanna go back to sleep for awhile?" Buffy said.

Faith shook her head, and started kissing Buffy's breasts again, and moved her fingers down between Buffy's legs. She caressed Buffy's clit, and slowly worked a finger inside her. Buffy was tight, but she was so wet that Faith was able to enter her with ease. Buffy moaned, as Faith gently fucked her.

"Baby..." Buffy whispered.

Faith moved on top of her, and kissed her, and pushed a second finger inside her. Buffy was breathing heavily now, her breasts heaving, as Faith caressed her tiny button of a clit, and slowly fucked her with her fingers. Faith watched the muscles in Buffy's powerful thighs and calves flexing as Buffy thrashed around on the bed, scratching her toenails up and down the bedsheet like a cat on a scratching post, tearing the bedsheet to ribbons.

Buffy dug her fingernails into Faith's shoulder, drawing blood; Faith liked it. She knew the pain for what it was: just another part of the song Buffy had been playing, using Faith's body as her instrument. The pain knifed through Faith, sweet and sharp and shrill, the perfect high note you had to hit just right, or the song wouldn't be complete...and then it faded away.

But it awakened the lion in Faith before it was gone: Faith had loved being Buffy's kitten before but now she was a lion again, and she smiled down at Buffy, showing her teeth. She gently grazed them along Buffy's neck, and inhaled Buffy's scent. She wished she could bite her. She wanted to mark her territory.

She noticed two tiny wounds on the left side of Buffy's neck, the old scabs faded to white now. Faith knew what they were. A low growl escaped her lips: someone had been there first, dared to claim what Faith had already decided belonged to her.

Buffy was bucking and moaning and thrashing around beneath her, nearly throwing Faith off as Faith brought her closer to her orgasm. But Faith controlled her, forced her back down, rode her like a wild horse she meant to tame. Buffy wrapped her arms and legs around Faith and held on tight to her, trembling, her fingernails digging into Faith's back, her feet rubbing up and down Faith's strong, muscular legs.

Buffy felt Faith's fingers caressing the old wounds--the bite marks left by Angelus--on her neck. She opened her eyes, and saw Faith staring down at her.

"You're mine," Faith said.

Buffy nodded.

"Fuckin' say it," Faith snarled, and inserted a third finger into Buffy's pussy. But she was gentle, when she did it; moving it into her slowly, careful not to hurt her. She kept up her slow rhythm, caressing Buffy's clit with her thumb and moving her fingers back and forth inside her.

"Yours...baby...I'm yours," Buffy whispered breathlessly, and kissed her.

Faith licked the wounds on Buffy's neck, as Buffy bucked and moaned and trembled beneath her. It took all Faith's strength to hold her down.

"Here comes my girl," Faith whispered in Buffy's ear, as she gently fucked her...

And Buffy screamed and came like a rocket blasting off and bucked like a bronco and kicked out with her legs, nearly sending Faith flying off of her. But Faith managed to hold on, and she held Buffy down and kissed her, as Buffy's whole body convulsed, her orgasm ripping through her like an earthquake; Faith held her there, and tamed her, and kissed her...as Buffy trembled, and shuddered, and, eventually, lay still beneath her.

They kissed...

Then Buffy kicked Faith off of her. Faith flew across the room and slammed into a wall, knocking a hole in it, and fell to the floor.

Buffy sat up on all fours like a cat, and looked at her.

"And you're mine," Buffy growled.

And she showed Faith her teeth and sprang at her, covering the whole room in one bound. They rolled around on the floor, kissing and clawing at each other again, slamming each other into walls; one wall collapsed and actually fell on them. They jumped out from underneath it and Faith hurled Buffy across the room into the wall over the bed. Buffy slammed into it, cracking it, and landed back on the bed. Faith leaped onto the bed, but Buffy grabbed her arms in mid-air and flipped her over, and held her down. She jammed her face into Faith's pussy and tore into it like it was her last meal.

"Wait...B...wait," Faith said, eventually. "Turn around."

Buffy could barely catch her breath. Faith's scent was driving her into a frenzy; every part of her felt like it was tingling. She felt her energy spiking, felt it shooting through her. It was an effort to talk. Buffy felt like she had to dredge something up in order to do it; like she had to retrieve some nearly forgotten part of herself first.

"What...?" Buffy said, looking up from between Faith's legs like a greedy lion looking up from a fresh kill.

"Turn around. I wanna see that pretty little ass," Faith said.

Buffy grudgingly turned around. "What are we doing?" she said. "Why do you want me to--"

Faith grabbed Buffy's ass, and brought her down to her lips.

"There's my girl," Faith said, and started kissing Buffy's pussy.

"Oh..." Buffy said, and moaned. "Oh."

"You on vacation?" Faith said.

They both giggled, as Buffy put her head down between Faith's legs, and started licking her there again...

And then they stopped giggling.

"Holy galloping fuck," Faith said, much later, when the Slayers in them, finally sated, had returned to their lairs in their subconscious minds, and they both felt like themselves again. "What the hell did we do?"

"We broke the bed," Buffy said.

Faith looked down. The bed was tilting at an angle; one of its runners had collapsed. She looked around the room. Their clothes were torn to shreds on the floor. The wall by the bedroom door had collapsed, the wall to her left was cracked, and there was a hole in the wall behind them; she could see that the sun had gone down. There were stars in the sky now.

"I think we broke the whole room," Faith said. "How'd that wall over there fall down?"

"Remember, when we were rolling around on the floor?" Buffy said. "We kinda crashed into it. Plus either you threw me into it or I threw you into it at least once...there was a lot of throwing. Just a lot of general slamming into walls."

"Oh yeah," Faith said. "I thought I felt something fall on me. Wasn't really paying attention."

"And I think I kicked through the wall behind us when I was on top of you and we were adding up to our favorite number," Buffy said, looking at the back yard through the hole in the wall behind them. A labrador retriever stood in the yard, watching her curiously.

They were naked, lying together in each other's arms. Their breasts were touching. They could feel each other's breath on their skin...they could feel each other's hearts beating.

But it was different now...uncomfortable. Their scents were still there, they still smelled sweet, but they didn't have the intoxicating effect they'd had before. They sat up, on opposite sides of the bed.

"Holy galloping fuck," Faith said, again, because it seemed the most appropriate thing to say.

"That's one way of putting it," Buffy said.

"So now what?" Faith said. She had just had sex with a girl. And she liked it...but she didn't know what it meant. Was she a lesbian now? Could you be a lesbian and still like guys?

Everything was different now. Rebecca was gone, and she couldn't see Evan again. And Buffy...

Faith had no idea what to do about Buffy.

"We both...said some stuff," Buffy said. She thought about Angel. She had no idea what she would do now. But she could never really have him...she could never really have him, and sometimes she needed someone...she wondered if this is the way it would be for the rest of her life, if this was the kind of person she would have to be, if she stayed with Angel, and tried to make it work with him. She would try to be loyal to him, but they would never be able to make love...and sometimes, she would need someone...

Buffy didn't want to be that kind of person. She didn't want that life.

"We were...we were both in a real weird place," Buffy said. "We were..."

"Slayers," Faith said. "I don't know how it was with you, but...it felt like, yeah, okay, maybe I was in the car? But the Slayer in me was driving."

"Yeah," Buffy said. "Like how it gets when I'm out patrolling sometimes. Just...totally focused in on it...like there's nothing else in the world. We were...just focused in on each other."

Faith nodded. She had forgotten Evan. She hadn't thought about him for even a second when she was with Buffy...she had promised herself she'd be true to him and it had taken her less than a week to betray him.

"Faith," Buffy said. "This was...I don't regret it, okay? It was really sweet, and...I liked being with you and I don't regret any of it. But..."

The Slayer did it, Faith decided. It wasn't her. It was the Slayer in her who betrayed Evan. From now on, she'd just have to control the Slayer...never let this happen again.

"B...listen," Faith said, cutting her off. "I'm sorry, but...look, I'm not gay, okay? I don't swing that way."

"Wait, you don't swing that way?" Buffy said. "Hello? I don't swing that way! You think I swing that way? I'm not gay! I'm totally not gay!"

Faith nearly started laughing. The girl said it like she actually believed it.

Faith wondered if Buffy really did believe it. She knew Buffy hadn't lied about the guy...whoever he was...she had sex with that time. But it was obvious she liked girls...then again, maybe Buffy was thinking the same thing about her.

Faith raised her eyebrow. But she didn't laugh. It would have been rude.

"I'm not!" Buffy said.

"Could've fooled me," Faith said, with a grin.

"Who threw who on the floor and jumped on top of who?" Buffy said. "Uh, whom?"

"Hey, you threw me on the bed!" Faith said. "And into a wall."

"You started it!" Buffy said, standing up and pointing at Faith. "You started this whole thing!"

"I started it?" Faith said, and stood up. "How the hell do you figure that?"

The labrador retriever was still looking at them. It was wagging its tail.

"Pervo dog," Buffy said, covering her breasts. "You said 'Hey'."

"I said 'Hey'? You threw me against a wall and jammed your frigging tongue in my mouth!"

"You threw me on the floor and jumped on me!"

Faith shook her head, and looked down at the floor. "Splendid," she said. "Just frigging splendid."

"And you kept doing that secretary thing," Buffy said. "And I'm demoting you, by the way."

"Look, how's this?" Faith said. "Neither of us is gay, okay? We just got..."

"Carried away," Buffy said.

"That's one way of putting it. I'm naked with some girl I've known for like twenty hours in a vamp drug house in the middle of California. Splendid."

"Stop saying 'holy galloping fuck' and 'splendid'."

"Holy galloping fuck," Faith said defiantly, glaring at Buffy with her arms folded across her chest. "Splendid, splendid, splendid."

"Why are you so annoying?" Buffy said. "I've known you for twenty hours and you've spent nineteen of them finding new ways to annoy me."

"So are we gonna have to drive home naked or what?" Faith said, surveying what was left of her clothes. Other than her socks and her boots, they were ripped to shreds. "Not that the freaks out here would mind. People probably drive around naked all the time out here. Probably drive out naked to peace rallies and Grateful Dead concerts."

"Oh, please," Buffy said. "Like Boston's so cool. What do you guys have? Seafood and Cheers and like, Kennedys."

"Better than smog and freaks and a Hellmouth."

"So what are we gonna do about clothes?"

"I got an idea," Faith said, looking toward the closet. "And I can guarantee we're not gonna like it."

"Splendid," Faith said to annoy Buffy, as they looked at themselves in the mirror. Faith was wearing a tie-dyed tee-shirt and bell bottom jeans with little pink flowers stitched on the front pockets and a peace sign patch on the ass. Buffy was wearing a red paisley blouse and a brown and gold peasant skirt with a pattern of red and orange rainbows around the hem.

"Well, it's better than going home naked, I guess," Buffy said.

"You sure about that?" Faith said.

"So, Faith...look, about today..." Buffy said.

They looked at each other.

"It never happened," they both said, at the same time.

They giggled.

"Come on, you hippie," Buffy said. "Let's get outta here before some vamps show up and laugh at us."

"Groovy," Faith said.

As they walked into the hallway, Faith put her hand on Buffy's shoulder.

"Hey," Faith said.

"Faith, please tell me you're not trying to get me to kiss you again?" Buffy said. "Because I'm planning on repressing this memory and looking at pictures of Brad Pitt for a week."

"Buffy...thanks," Faith said. "For what you did for Becca. It...really means a lot to me, y'know? It means a lot."

"Hey, no problem," Buffy said, and smiled.

Part 13

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