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ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Meant To Be
One: The New World

By Hellmouthguy




"She better not try to kiss me," Faith said.

She was standing in front of the mirror in the bathroom in her motel room the next day, combing her hair. She knew Buffy would be coming over soon. She didn't have a clock but she knew it was three because Oprah had just started. "A negative self-image can hurt us," Faith could hear Oprah saying in the other room. "According to this new book, our greatest strength and our greatness weakness lies in how we perceive ourselves."

Faith looked in the mirror.

"Bet she's gonna try to kiss me," Faith said. "No way she can resist this package."

Faith puckered her lips, and checked her lipstick.

"Everyone wants to kiss me," Faith said, with a wicked grin.

The doorbell rang. Faith checked herself one last time. She frowned at her outfit; she didn't have any decent clothes. She sighed and walked out of the bathroom. "So the way we perceive ourselves actually dictates how other people see us?" Oprah was saying. "Yes, to a significant degree. And if our self-image isn't fully formed, there is the danger that we may allow others to dictate--" someone answered, as Faith shut the TV off on her way to the door.

When she opened it, Buffy was standing there wearing faded blue cut-off jeans that fit her like a glove and did a nice job of displaying her long legs, a tight yellow tee-shirt without a bra and a pair of yellow flip-flops. She looked like the sun in a clear blue sky. Beautiful, and warm.

"Time for your tour of Sunnydale," Buffy said. "Ready to ride the welcome wagon?"

Faith raised her eyebrow, and gave Buffy a sexy smile. Not too sexy. She didn't want Buffy to kiss her again. But sexy. Buffy looked good in the cut-off jeans. Think about Evan, Faith thought. Hell, Brad Pitt too. Whatever works...

"You the welcome wagon?" Faith said. "Didn't I just take that ride?"

"Um...I want to have my last remark stricken from the record," Buffy said, and giggled, as Faith stepped aside and she walked into the motel room. Buffy immediately headed for the air conditioner, and stood in front of it with her arms stretched out at her sides and basked.

Faith moved to the nightstand. She was wearing tight jeans and a tee-shirt and her Docs; she wished she had some other outfit options but she didn't. Faith had one hell of a fabulous butt though, and she knew it. And she also knew that the jeans she was wearing didn't leave a single millimeter of it to the imagination. She decided to have some fun with Buffy.

She bent all the way over, went into the nightstand's little drawer and took her time finding her keys. She made sure Buffy got a good, long look at her butt. She even wiggled it at her. Just a little.

"You can be my welcome wagon, B," Faith said, looking back at Buffy with another sexy smile. "I liked the ride. I can go again." She noticed Buffy was very consciously not looking at her butt, and was instead staring at the wall.

"You're trying to get me to kiss you again, aren't you?" Buffy said, still basking in front of the air conditioner. "And on the eighth day God invented air conditioning. It's so hot out there today. It's Africa hot."

"You gotta stop projecting all your perverted fantasies onto me," Faith said, and lay down on the bed with her legs spread a little. What the hell am I doing? a part of Faith thought. "If I wanted a kiss you'd know," the other part of her said.

"Yeah?" Buffy said, and sat next to her. "How would I know?"

"I'd kiss you," Faith said, looking Buffy in the eyes, and nearly threw her arms around Buffy and kissed her. Instead she sat up, and got herself under control. She didn't know what she was doing. She didn't want a repeat of the day before...at least, that's what she'd been telling herself...

Buffy looked away from her and blushed a little. Faith took the opportunity to look at Buffy's legs. They were long and smooth and muscular and the color of cream. They were perfect. They were two perfect creamsicles on a hot summer day. Faith wanted to lick them.

"You blushing, girlfriend?" Faith said.

"No," Buffy said, giggling and still looking away from her. Faith decided to relent.

"It's cool, hon,' Faith said, and rubbed Buffy's shoulder and stood up. "You made me blush plenty yesterday. Want like a Sprite or something? Got drinks in the bathroom."

"You have drinks in the bathroom?"

"Got no 'fridge so I'm keeping drinks in ice in the bathroom sink."

"Yeah, I could use a cold drink. It's like ninety-five degrees and super humid today. It feels like I'm walking around in a big gross bowl of soup out there. I'm all hot and sticky."

"You tryin' to turn me on?" Faith said, and walked into the bathroom and took two Sprites out of the pile of ice she kept in the bathroom sink. "Already told you girlfriend, I don't swing that way."

She came back into the room and sat next to Buffy on the bed again. She popped the top off of Buffy's Sprite, and handed it to her.

Buffy was a little sweaty and her scent was stronger than usual. Faith loved that scent; it was like a flower...like a specific flower Faith had smelled before, but she still couldn't remember the name of it...

Faith couldn't resist one last little pinch. She moved her face very close to Buffy's...moved her lips very close to Buffy's. She smiled, her very sexiest smile.

"Unless you ask me real nice, honey," Faith whispered.

Buffy smiled, and shook her head, and came to a decision. "Oh, hey, I almost forgot," she said, and put her Sprite down. "I brought a surprise for you."

"I like surprises," Faith said, and grinned. Faith looked at her. Buffy wasn't carrying anything with her, other than her purse. "Is it in your purse?"

"Close your eyes," Buffy said.

"Uh...okay," Faith said, and closed her eyes, and drank her Sprite.

"So you like surprises, huh?" she heard Buffy saying.

"Love 'em," Faith said. "But usually I'm the one springin' the surprise." She wondered what Buffy could have brought her that would fit in her purse.

"Okay," Faith heard Buffy saying a moment later. "Open your eyes."

Faith opened her eyes.

Buffy was standing naked in front of her.

"Surprise," Buffy said.

Faith was speechless. She blushed.

"You blushing, girlfriend?" Buffy said, smiling her very sexiest smile. She moved close to Faith, and took the Sprite out of her hands, and put it on the nightstand. She touched Faith's hair.

"Buffy...look...we..." Faith started to say. Buffy touched Faith's lips with her finger.

"Sshhh," Buffy said. "Lie down."

"Buffy..." Faith tried to say, again. Buffy stood inches away from Faith now, as Faith sat on the edge of the bed. Buffy's breasts were very close to her. Buffy's nipples were hard. They were long when they were hard; they stood out from her breasts like two pink erasers. Faith could have kissed them from where she was sitting. Faith felt her own nipples getting hard too.

"Faith. Lie down for me, baby," Buffy said, and caressed her cheek.

Slowly, Faith lay back on the bed. Buffy knelt on the bed beside her.

"Just relax," Buffy said.

Buffy laid herself on top of Faith, and looked her in the eyes. She noticed Faith was starting to breathe faster now, and she was fussing with her hair.

"You know I'd never hurt you, right?" Buffy said.

Faith nodded. She was nervous; Buffy could see it, and she could smell it. Buffy took Faith's hand. It was shaking a little.

"Nothing's gonna happen that you don't want," Buffy said, and caressed her cheek again. "Okay?"

Faith nodded again. She relaxed a little. But she was still nervous. She kept fussing with her hair.

Buffy moved her lips very close to Faith's neck, behind her ear. She inhaled Faith's scent.

"I love the way you smell," Buffy said. "Do you...like how I smell?"

"Yeah," Faith said.

Buffy caressed her cheek. Faith still fussed with her hair.

Buffy got up, and knelt on the bed beside her again.

"I like your boots," Buffy said. "Docs?"

"Yeah," Faith said.

"I always wanted to try them," Buffy said. "But I don't know if I could pull off the look as well as you do." She unlaced Faith's boots, and took them off. She took off Faith's socks.

"I bet you got ticklish feet," Buffy said, and smiled. "You do, don't you?"

"No," Faith said, and tried not to smile.

"I think you're lying," Buffy said. "I bet they're totally ticklish."

"You better not tickle 'em," Faith said, smiling now.

"If you're a good girl," Buffy said. "Maybe I won't."

Buffy ran her fingers over the soles of Faith's feet. Faith gasped, and giggled.

"Or maybe I will," Buffy said.

"You better stop," Faith said, and sat up, giggling.

Buffy slowly started lifting Faith's tee-shirt up. When it was halfway up, she stopped, and looked at Faith, and waited.

Faith hesitated...then she raised her arms, and let Buffy lift her tee-shirt up the rest of the way, and pull it off. Buffy unclasped Faith's bra in back.

"It's okay, Faith," Buffy said.

Faith blushed again, and avoided Buffy's eyes, as Buffy took her bra off. Faith's nipples were hard.

Buffy gently raised Faith's chin, and looked at her.

"We'll go slow," Buffy said. "Any time you want to stop, we will."

Faith nodded. Her panties were soaked. She hoped Buffy wouldn't try to take her jeans down. She felt her heart beating. She was taking deep breaths now. She kept trying to calm herself down, but she couldn't.

"I'm gonna help you relax, okay?" Buffy said. She gently laid Faith back down and turned her over onto her side, and curled up behind her. She put her arms around her, and started rubbing her belly.

Faith felt herself relaxing, as Buffy rubbed her belly. She felt her nervousness seeping away.

"That's it, baby," Buffy whispered. "That's it."

Faith realized that Buffy hadn't once touched her breasts, or kissed her.

After a few minutes, Buffy said, "You let me know when you're ready for me to take your jeans off, okay, baby?"

A little thrill went through Faith, when Buffy said that.

"Okay," Faith said.

Faith felt warm, as Buffy rubbed her belly. She felt relaxed now. She wasn't nervous anymore. Her breathing was normal again. She breathed in Buffy's scent.

They didn't talk. Buffy didn't kiss Faith, or touch her anywhere else. She rubbed Faith's belly, and they listened to each other's breathing, and inhaled each other's scents.

"You can take my jeans off if you want," Faith whispered, a little later.

Buffy pulled Faith's jeans down. They were tight and it took her awhile; Faith had to wriggle out of them. Buffy saw that Faith's panties were soaked through. Faith blushed again, and closed her legs. Buffy smiled, and took Faith's hand, and kissed it.

"Do you want me to take your panties off now, or do you want me to wait?" Buffy said.

"You can take them off," Faith said.

Buffy gently took Faith's panties off.

Faith smelled good; even better than usual, because she was wet. It took all of Buffy's self-control not to start licking her pussy. But that wasn't why she was doing this; it wasn't what she was after. She turned Faith over on her side, and curled up behind her again, and went back to rubbing her belly.

"Now," Buffy said. "We need to talk, Faith."

"Uh...okay," Faith said.

Buffy started rubbing her feet against Faith's.

"You were all being flirty with me, and wiggling your butt at me and stuff," Buffy said. "How come, baby?"

"I don't know," Faith said.

"I thought you said yesterday you didn't wanna do that stuff? That you like guys?"

"I do, but...I don't know. I was just...jokin' around with you today, that's all. I'm sorry. I didn't mean nothin' by it."

Buffy knew Faith was lying.

"I'm not angry, Faith," Buffy said. "It's just that when you do that stuff... it makes it awkward for me a little."

"I'm sorry," Faith said.

Buffy kissed Faith's cheek. "You don't have to be sorry, Faith," she said. "I'm not angry. Do you like being with me like this?"

"Yeah," Faith said.

"Yesterday was a strange day."


"You told me yesterday you had a guy in Boston. Is that true, or was it just so I wouldn't try to set you up with Xander?"

"It's true."

"Are you going back to him now that Kakistos is gone?"

"No," Faith said. She knew she could never go back to Evan. Kakistos was gone, but if there was anything she learned from Rebecca's stories of the Slayers who had come before, it was that there was always a new threat right around the corner. Evan would never be safe, if Faith gave in to her desires...if she let herself have him. It would be selfish...it would get him killed. "I think...I'm gonna stay around here, at least for awhile."

"I'm glad," Buffy said. "I like you here with me."

"I like being here with you," Faith said.

"Good," Buffy said. "Looks like we're a matched set."

Faith nodded. Buffy rubbed her belly. Part of Faith wished Buffy would rub her between her legs too. But she knew that would make things confusing again...and she wanted to be loyal to Evan. Or at least try to be...

"I got a guy too," Buffy said. "It's...really complicated though. We sort of broke up, but...we still care about each other. We're sort of...together and not together at the same time. He's the guy I told you about yesterday."

Faith nodded. She was starting to feel sleepy. When Buffy rubbed her belly it made Faith want to cuddle up on Buffy's breasts and go to sleep. But at the same time her pussy was still soaked. She wasn't sure what she wanted, wasn't sure what to do.

"So I bet you're wondering why I did this, huh?" Buffy said. "Why we're lying here naked together."

"The thought sorta crossed my mind, yeah," Faith said.

"With the vibe we had, from the moment I walked in here, I thought it would make things simpler for us if we cut right to the chase," Buffy said. "I just wanted us to be comfortable, and to make it past this whole sex thing, so we could really talk. Plus maybe I wanted to see your perfect little butt."

Faith giggled.

"So we both have guys, but we both like being with each other," Buffy said. "What's it all mean, jelly bean?"

Faith giggled again. "I don't know," she said. "We're weirdos."

Buffy moved herself closer to Faith, so her nose was against the back of Faith's neck, just below her ear, where her scent was strong.

"I think it means we gotta make a choice, Faith," Buffy said.

"Yeah," Faith said.

"The way I see it, we're both straight," Buffy said. "We both have guys, we both like guys. But we like each other too. Maybe it's a Slayer thing, maybe we're bi, I don't know. Of course, I guess you could just be a big huge lesbian..." Buffy said, and started tickling Faith's belly.

Faith laughed and started thrashing around, as Buffy kept tickling her. "Oh, it is so on!" Faith shouted, and she leaped out from under Buffy and jumped to the other side of the bed and started tickling Buffy's feet. Buffy started laughing hysterically and tried to yank her feet away like she had just stepped on hot coals. They got tangled up together like they were playing a game of Twister, laughing and shouting and rolling around and jumping on each other and trying to uncover new secret ticklish places on each other's bodies; their faces were red, and their nipples were hard, and they were wet for each other...

Eventually, Buffy ended up on top. She held Faith's arms down, and lay on top of her, and smiled. They were both out of breath, and sweating a little.

"What am I gonna do with you?" Buffy said, and let Faith's arms go. "You're such a bad girl."

Faith hugged Buffy, and giggled. "I can be good," she said.

"Okay," Buffy said, and smiled.

They just looked at each other, for awhile. Buffy caressed Faith's cheek, and ran her fingers through her hair. She could feel how wet Faith was, between her legs.

Eventually, Buffy rolled off of her, and turned her on her side again. "Good girls get tummy rubs," she said. She cuddled up behind Faith, and put her arms around her, and started rubbing her belly again. Faith nodded, and rubbed her feet against Buffy's.

"So we're back to the question," Buffy said. "How are we gonna be when we're together? Friends? Or the way we were yesterday?"

"I don't know," Faith said.

"Me neither," Buffy said. "But we gotta figure it out. We gotta decide what we want."

Faith nodded.

"You know what it's like?" Buffy said, and turned Faith over on her back, and looked down at her. She moved her hand lower as she rubbed Faith's belly, until her hand reached below Faith's waist, and touched the top of her pubic hair.

Faith opened her legs for her. Buffy smiled, and kissed her cheek.

"It's like what you're feeling right now," Buffy said. "I can tell you're getting all sleepy with me rubbing your tummy. But you're horny too. I know you want me to give you a kiss down there."

Faith nodded.

"So there are two choices," Buffy said. "You can be my sleepy girl and cuddle up with me and we can take a nap. And we can decide that we won't do anything more than that, and yesterday was just...not a one-night stand, because it was better than that, but...just...a strange day. Not a day we regret. Just a strange day. Or...I could kiss it for you. But that means everything gets complicated...and the guys in our lives...is it really fair to them?"

Faith thought about Evan.

And then she rolled over, and curled up with her head against Buffy's breasts.

"Let's just take a nap," Faith said.

"Okay," Buffy said, and put her arms around Faith, and brought her close to her. "So...is this our choice?"

"Yeah. I think so," Faith said. "I like you a lot Buffy, I love being with you but...I wanna be loyal to my guy."

"Yeah. I think...that's the right decision for us," Buffy said. "And hello? Not lesbians."

They laughed. Faith was ninety-nine point nine-nine-nine-nine-nine percent sure Buffy was lying, but she let it pass. "Yeah," she said.

"It's nice and cool in here, with the air conditioning," Buffy said. "Good for naps."

"Yeah, it's the one thing this place got right," Faith said. "I'm sorry, B. I'm sorry I was all...like joking around and being all flirty with you. I'm sorry if that made you...uncomfortable."

"Not uncomfortable," Buffy said, and kissed Faith's forehead. "Just...it complicates things, Faith. It makes things a little harder."

"I guess I was just nervous about seeing you after yesterday, y'know?" Faith said. "And...I guess I was just letting off some steam. I won't tease you like that anymore, I promise."

"It's okay," Buffy said. "I wasn't angry with you. I was just...um...really, really horny. You made me blush, baby. But I'm better now."

Faith giggled. Then she yawned, and cuddled up closer to Buffy. "I love how you smell," she said. "I love being close to you like this, having your scent right next to me. You always smell real pretty."

"So do you, baby," Buffy said. "I think I could stay here like this forever."

"Me too," Faith said, and closed her eyes.

When she opened them again the room was dark. She looked around. Moonlight was shining in through the window. She was cuddled up against Buffy's breasts. Buffy's arms were around her. Buffy was snoring softly.

Faith sat up on the edge of the bed. She looked down at Buffy, in the moonlight, and watched her sleep.

"Jesus Christ, you're beautiful," Faith whispered. Buffy's hair was in her eyes. Faith gently fixed it.

"You're my girl," Faith whispered.

Buffy rolled over in her sleep, and reached out. She ran her hands over the bedsheet, and seemed to frown.

Faith lay back down beside her, and took her in her arms.

"Mmmmm," Buffy purred, and put her arms around Faith.

After a moment, Buffy opened her eyes.

"Hey," Faith said.

"Mmmmm...hi baby," Buffy said, and yawned, and stretched, and looked around the room. She curled up closer to Faith, and smiled. "Got all dark."

"Yeah, we'll have to do the tour another time," Faith said. "But it's not too late though, I can hear cars and stuff outside. Figure we can still patrol."

Buffy shook her head, rolled over, and pulled Faith's arm around her. She held Faith's hand against her breasts. "Sleepy," Buffy said. "Need more cuddles."

"But what about patrolling?" Faith said.

"Cuddles," Buffy said, and rubbed her feet against Faith's.

"You're my lazy girl, huh, honey?" Faith said.

Buffy nodded.

"My lazy girl wants to go back to sleep?" Faith said.

Buffy nodded.

"Okay," Faith said. "Lazy girls get to go back to sleep. I gotta warn you though, sometimes lazy girls get tickled."

Buffy shook her head.

"They do," Faith whispered in her ear, and ran her fingers down Buffy's back, and over her butt. "They get tickled in all sorts of places."

Buffy giggled. "No they don't," she said. "They get goodnight kisses."

"They get goodnight kisses?" Faith said.

Buffy nodded.

"But what about our talk, honey?" Faith said.

"Goodnight kisses," Buffy said.

Faith turned Buffy around, and caressed her cheek. Buffy opened her eyes, and looked up at her.

Faith gently kissed her.

"Goodnight," Faith whispered.

"Goodnight," Buffy whispered.

Buffy turned back over, and pulled Faith's arm around her again, and held Faith's hand against her breasts. Faith curled up behind her.

"You're my girl," Faith said.

Buffy nodded.

They went back to sleep.

They woke up at the exact same time.

They sat up in the bed, instantly awake and completely alert and ready for a fight. The room was still dark. Moonlight was still shining in.

"Vamps," Faith said.

"Yeah," Buffy said. "Close by."

Two lions leaped out of the bed.

"Hot diggity," Faith said. She pulled her stake from the nightstand and twirled it around her fingers.

Buffy was standing very still, and looking toward the window. Faith watched Buffy as she stood there, naked in the moonlight, her legs spread apart, all the weight on the balls of her feet: she had unconsciously adopted a fighting stance. Buffy was reaching out with her senses, and baring her teeth. She was a perfect predator. She was the most beautiful creature Faith had ever seen. She was more beautiful than Evan.

Faith knew she couldn't have her. She couldn't have Evan either. She couldn't have anyone.

"They're coming closer," Buffy said. There was a hint of a snarl in her voice. "Not right toward us, but heading in our general direction."

Faith let her senses reach out. Mostly, Buffy's scent came to her. She tried to filter it out. It was distracting.

"Yeah," Faith said, zeroing in on the vampires' scents. "Smells like a whole bunch of them out there."

"I'm picking up seven of them," Buffy said, and turned on the light, and began scooping up her clothes. "Let's get to it."

"How we playin' this?" Faith said, as she put her panties on and wriggled herself back into her jeans. They were tight and it required some hopping around to get them buttoned, and Faith's breasts flopped up and down as she did it. Buffy watched her with an appreciative little smile as she got dressed.

"Sorry, what were you saying?" Buffy said, as she pulled up her cut-off jeans and slipped into her flip-flops. "Mesmerized by your boobs over here."

"B, not for nothin?" Faith said, as she put her tee-shirt on. She didn't bother with the bra. "Don't talk it unless you're gonna walk it, because you don't even wanna know how much I need you right now."

"Sorry, baby," Buffy said, and smiled, as she wiggled into her tight tee-shirt. "If it makes you feel any better the feeling's mutual, boob girl."

Faith wasn't smiling.

"Makes me feel worse, actually," Faith said, and pulled on her socks and her boots and started quickly lacing them up. "If you didn't want it I'd deal and move on. But if we both want it then why the hell can't we be together?"

"Faith..." Buffy said. She wanted to explain. But she didn't know how. Buffy thought back to the conversation they'd had earlier, about how they shouldn't be together. The reasons had seemed like good ones, then. Now they didn't. Why should she be loyal to Angel when she could never have him?

She remembered the photographs, in the shoebox in her closet.

"Faith, look," Buffy said. "I know we..."

Faith held up her hand. "Forget it, okay?" Faith said, and finished lacing up her boots. "It's complicated and I'm not in the fuckin' mood. I'm in the mood for simple right now. Dustin' vamps is nice and simple."

Faith looked up at Buffy. Buffy's face was red.

"I'm sorry," Faith said. "That didn't come out right, okay? I'm not angry with you, Buffy, I'm just...I'm in a weird mood. I've had...kind of a rough week, y'know? Everything's...everything's changed now. A week ago Becca was alive."

Faith had a tear in her eye. She wiped it away.

"I had Becca, y'know?" Faith said. "She always took care of me. I knew what I was doing, I knew where I stood. Now I don't have anything. I don't even have a frigging picture of Becca. I never took a picture of her. I always thought... we'd have more time."

Buffy sat down next to her, and put her arm around her.

Faith held up her stake. "This is what I have," Faith said. "This is all I have now. Becca's gone and this is what I have now."

"You have me," Buffy said.

"No I don't," Faith said, and got up, and started to walk away. "We made our choice, remember?"

Buffy took her hand, and stopped her.

"You have me," Buffy said.

Faith turned around.

"Prove it," Faith said.

"What...do you mean?" Buffy said.

Faith knelt down in front of her, took off Buffy's flip-flops, unzipped Buffy's cut-off jeans, and began pulling them down.

"Faith..." Buffy whispered.

"Want me to stop?" Faith said.

Buffy didn't say anything. Faith kept pulling the cut-off jeans down.

"The vampires," Buffy said, as Faith slipped the cut-off jeans off her feet.

"Always more vamps," Faith said, and took off Buffy's panties.

Buffy kept her legs closed. Faith looked up at her.

"Yesterday, we didn't even want to admit it happened," Buffy said. "So now it's suddenly all different?"

"We were both freaked out yesterday," Faith said. "So we were both bullshitting ourselves a little. Lying about what we want...maybe even about what we are. I'm tired of bullshitting."

Buffy opened her legs, and touched Faith's hair.

Faith ran her hands up and down Buffy's ankles, and kissed Buffy's knees. She moved herself between Buffy's legs, and looked up at her.

"We...can't," Buffy said. "We can't, Faith. And yeah, I'm not sure why either, okay? But...we were both pretty sure when we made the decision before and I don't wanna just throw that decision away now without thinking about it first, without at least talking about it again."

Faith looked down at the floor, and nodded.

She got up.

Buffy put her clothes back on. She pulled her stake from her purse, and stood up. She noticed Faith wasn't looking at her. She took Faith's hand.

Faith pulled away from her.

"Come on, let's get out there before we lose the scent," Faith said, and walked out the door.

"So how we playin' this?" Faith said. They had the vampires in sight now: six males and a female. The vampires weren't aware of them yet; they were loping down the street ahead of them at a leisurely pace, sniffing the air, and talking quietly. Hunting. But they hadn't caught a scent yet. Buffy and Faith watched them from behind a parked car a few blocks back, careful to keep upwind of them.

"The streets are too wide open around here," Buffy said. "I want to maneuver them somewhere where they can't run from us. I don't want any of them to get away. I want them all."

"Heard that," Faith said. "I need some good kills. How's this. I'll circle around, find an alley or whatever, some closed-in spot, right? You follow them at a distance, keep out of their range. I'll be the bait, let 'em pick up my scent. Once I lure them to the spot you join the party and block their exit. Then we dance."

"Works for me," Buffy said. She put her hand on Faith's shoulder, and ran her fingers through Faith's hair. "I'll head up to the rooftops, follow them from there. At least it's pretty late, there's no one around. Cuts down on the chance some civilians will get in the way."

"What are you doing?" Faith said.

"What?" Buffy said, and took her hand away from Faith's hair. "I'm just... I didn't mean..."

"We're working," Faith said.

"Sorry," Buffy said.

Faith glanced at her. Buffy's face was red. Faith felt like a heel.

Faith shook her head like a mosquito was buzzing around it. She was working. She needed to focus.

"Okay, we ready to do this?" Faith said.

"Yeah," Buffy said, and walked away from her.

Faith knew the vampires were close; she felt them. She was around the block from them now, walking up a parallel street a couple of blocks ahead of their position. She knew the vampires weren't aware of her yet; they weren't headed in her direction.

The night was quiet and the moon was bright enough to see by even without the streetlights. The street was deserted. No cars passed. The night was cool, and there was a soft breeze; enough to carry the vampires' scents to her.

Faith passed a McDonald's advertising ninety-nine cent Egg McMuffins. She passed a little storefront advertising karate classes. The storefront had a mannequin standing in the doorway dressed in one of those white karate uniforms with a black belt. Someone had painted the mannequin's lips red and written "Sucky Sucky" on the mannequin's forehead in red magic marker. She passed a porno shop called Super Sex which was advertising the impending release of "Cockhuggers 12". In one of the second floor windows of the building housing the porno shop there was a hand-painted sign advertising tarot readings in "Madame Talaitha's Mystical Sanctum Sanctorum" upstairs. Faith wondered what the hell a "sanctum sanctorum" was. She passed a boarded-up building with condoms littering the ground around the doorway. A mouse scurried by her; it stopped and looked up at her, sniffed the air, then darted across the street. Faith passed a liquor store. She passed an alley.

She walked into the alley and took a look around. It was a dead end. It was wide enough to give her and Buffy room to maneuver. It would do.

She let her senses reach out. The vampires were still around the block from her, headed up the street. They would reach the next intersection in less than a minute. That's where she'd let them see her.

She couldn't detect Buffy's scent; there wasn't a trace of it anywhere but on her own body. She walked out of the alley and looked up at the rooftops. She had no idea where Buffy was. It was amazing; since she had become the Slayer no one had ever been able to elude her before, not when she was actively looking for them, not when she was really trying.

Faith smiled. The girl was good.

When the vampires reached the intersection Faith was walking along the sidewalk, downwind from them and headed away. The vampires immediately turned the corner and started following her. Faith smiled. She felt like the female cop in one of those bad eighties cop shows. The female cop always had to go undercover so pervos could jump out of the bushes at her while the guys who were the stars of the show got to set up a sting and save her. Faith thought there should be a television show about Slayers. Faith the Vampire Slayer, it could be called. But she knew it would probably be called Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

She wondered what she was doing there. Kakistos was dead. This was Buffy's territory. She couldn't have Buffy. So why was she staying?

She knew it was because she had nowhere else to go. She couldn't go back to Boston...she couldn't go back to Evan.

She remembered Rebecca saying there was another Hellmouth in Cleveland. It wasn't as active as the one in Sunnydale; there weren't any Big Bads popping out of it but there were still plenty of run-of-the-mill vamps. Maybe she could go there.

The vampires were speeding up. They wanted to keep her in sight. Faith turned the corner like she didn't have a care in the world. The moment she turned the corner she detected the vampires' scents coming closer, fast. They didn't want to lose her, didn't want to risk her entering a house.

The hook was baited. As the vampires turned the corner Faith decided it was time to reel them in. She turned around and looked at them and pretended to be surprised. She turned away from them and sped up her walk. She heard the vampires chuckling behind her.

She turned and looked at them again and pretended to be afraid this time. She started running, and the vampires broke into a run after her.

She had timed it perfectly; by the time the vampires were almost on her she reached the alley and ran into it.

The vampires stood at the entrance to the alley, growling. Like wolves. Faith kept up her undercover cop act; it was fun. She felt like Heather Locklear.

She looked around frantically, as if she was looking for a way out and just now realizing the alley was a dead end. She turned and looked at the vampires. She slowly backed away from them, deeper into the alley.

"Please," Faith said, trying not to laugh. "I don't...I don't want any trouble. I got money. You guys want money?"

The vampires moved into the alley, and spread out around her. Faith moved farther back. She wanted to lure them all the way in so Buffy could block their exit. She smelled Buffy now. She let her senses reach out. Buffy was above her, on one of the rooftops nearby. The vampires apparently hadn't picked up Buffy's scent yet; Faith was their shiny new toy. They followed Faith deeper into the alley. The vampires' faces still looked human. They were taking their time. Stretching things out. A scared, helpless girl was fun.

"Please don't hurt me," Faith said, as the vampires moved toward her, and she backed away from them; she nearly did laugh this time. But in the darkness Faith thought it probably looked like she was starting to cry, so she figured it was okay. The vampires were buying it at least; they were pleased as pie. Faith backed all the way up to the far wall, and stopped. "I'll do...I'll do whatever you want," Faith said, happy that she got her voice to hit just the right high note.

"We know you will, baby doll," the female vampire said, and moved close to Faith, and smiled. She was standing only a few feet away from Faith now. "And I like to watch." She was pretty; she had long, blonde hair and a hell of a body and a great smile. She wore a short black leather coat with a red lace corset underneath, tight black leather pants, combat boots and a black choker collar. She wore black lipstick and black nail polish and black eyeliner. Faith was a Southie girl and although Rebecca had considerably expanded her horizons and Faith even knew who Margaret Thatcher was now, she had never developed an appreciation for goths and she thought the girl looked like a reject from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. But the girl was pretty. The red lace corset was ridiculous but it nicely accentuated the girl's boobs and the leather pants hugged the girl's hips just right and Faith nearly gasped at the realization that she was attracted to this girl and that she was therefore beyond a doubt at least bisexual and maybe even a lesbian. She had been clinging to the fragile hope that maybe Buffy was the only girl she was attracted to. But now this girl was revving her engine too.

Fuck, Faith thought.

The girl moved closer to Faith, and touched her hair.

"Tell you what, cherry," the girl said, and looked back at the other vampires, and grinned. The girl had a soft, pretty voice. "You take care of me, and I'll take care of you. I'm Chanterelle. We'll get to know each other a little, okay?"

The other vampires started chuckling. Faith tried to look scared. She tried not to look horny.

Fuck, Faith thought, again.

"I love a show," one of the vampires, a short, wiry bald guy, said.

What the hell, Faith thought, and looked Chanterelle up and down. Might as well enjoy the girl for the few more minutes she's alive. Chanterelle was tall and curvy, with large, nicely shaped breasts and wide hips. She had big, pretty blue eyes and soft, full lips, and her blonde hair was natural.

But there was nothing in her blue eyes; there never was, with vampires. Chanterelle was looking at Faith's neck the way a dog looks at a bone.

Faith saw Buffy standing at the entrance to the alley, in the shadows.

Faith smiled, and breathed in Buffy's scent. The vampire standing in front of her might have looked great but she still smelled like rotten meat. Buffy smelled like flowers.

Faith realized she had missed Buffy's scent; she had only been away from it for ten minutes but she had missed it.

"I got dibs on the chick," Faith said.

Buffy nodded.

"What?" Chanterelle said.

"Wasn't talking to you hon," Faith said, and pulled her stake from her back pocket. "Talkin' to my girlfriend back there. And what the hell kind of name is 'Chanterelle'? You've been readin' Anne Rice, haven't you? Can always tell when a vamp's been readin' Anne Rice."

Chanterelle shrank back from the stake, growling, as all the vampires looked at Buffy.

"Who the fuck are you, girl?" one of the vampires said, eyeing Buffy and growling. He was a lot bigger than the rest of them, and a lot meaner. He was about 6'4", with long, dark hair. His body looked to be all muscle. He had very wide shoulders.

"I got dibs on the big one," Buffy said.

"Okay," Faith said. "But if you get the big one then he counts as two. He's like double as mean as any of the others. I get four and you get three."

"Sounds like a plan," Buffy said, and pulled out her stake, and moved into the alley.

"Are you fuckin' serious?" one of the vampires said. He was a lean, good- looking guy wearing jeans and a flannel shirt and the flashiest pair of cowboy boots Faith had ever seen. They were a reddish-tan color and they looked like snakeskin. They were emblazoned with swoops and whirls of yellow in a fire motif. The things were almost hypnotic.

"Those are some serious damn boots," Faith said. "My Docs are blushing over here."

The cowboy ignored her. "Couple little girls are gonna threaten us," he said, and laughed. "Well yee-haw, darlin'." He had a Southern accent, just to complete the package.

The vampires all laughed.

"What the fuck is this, a social call?" one of the vampires said. He had an olive complexion; Faith thought he looked Hispanic. His long hair was drawn back in a ponytail. "Let's drink these bitches and get it done."

"You hear that, B?" Faith said. "He called us bitches."

"That was rude," Buffy said. "I think I'm gonna have to kill him for saying that."

The vampires all laughed even harder. The big one's face changed to vampire form, and the rest followed suit.

"I gotta get a piece of this bitch," one of the vampires said, and sprang at Buffy, snarling. Faith didn't get a good look at him; she caught a glimpse of a goatee and dark, curly hair before Buffy spun and kicked the vampire out of the air and sent him flying across the alley. He slammed head-first into the wall next to Faith and Faith staked him through the back before he could hit the ground.

The vampires stopped laughing after that.

"Well, fuck me," the cowboy said.

"You're gonna count that one as one of mine, aren't you?" Faith said.

"Yup," Buffy said.

"Shit," Faith said. She smiled at Chanterelle. Chanterelle looked back at her the way the mouse had.

"Who the fuck are you?" the big one said to Buffy.

"I'm the person who's gonna be killing you," Buffy said.

"Guess I better get my licks in this time, huh cherry?" Faith said, and grabbed Chanterelle by her long hair and kneed her in the face as the rest of them came at her and Buffy. Faith noticed that the big one was running at Buffy. Cooperative. The knee to the face knocked Chanterelle for a good loop and she looked shaky as Faith threw her into the cowboy and the little bald guy. As they went down, a vampire with a swastika tattoo on his hand leaped at Faith from her left. Faith dodged him, yanked him out of the air by the elbow and slammed him head-first into the ground. She leaned down and staked him through the back as the cowboy and the bald guy ran at her again. She noticed Chanterelle was up again but she was hanging back. Faith spun and kicked the cowboy in the face and sent him flying as the bald guy leaped at her. He managed to tackle her but Faith flipped him over her head with her legs. So far, not one of the vampires could really fight. Disappointing...

Faith flipped herself back up and caught a glimpse of Buffy. Buffy had apparently dusted the Hispanic-looking one with the ponytail--at least Faith assumed she had because she couldn't see him anymore--and she was squaring off with the big guy now. Faith wished she could watch the show, but she supposed she should pay attention to her three.

"Who the fuck are you girls?" the cowboy shouted, as he circled around her with the bald guy. Chanterelle was still hanging back. Faith assumed her job was to look pretty while the guys in the group did all the heavy lifting. Faith winked at her.

"Slayers," Faith said. "Dude, don't you know anything? You been too busy hangin' around the woods in Tennessee makin' moonshine and fuckin' your cousin to get clued in? You guys are vamps. My girl and me, we're Slayers. We kill you. Comprende?"

"There's only supposed to be one Slayer," Chanterelle said, petulantly, as if it was a violation of the rules that there were two Slayers there; as if the fight should be called off now and she should be allowed to go home.

"Double your pleasure cherry," Faith said. "You shy or somethin'? Why don't you come up here and gimme a kiss."

Buffy was trading punches with the big one; he was strong but slow and he hadn't come close to actually landing a punch on her yet. She had plenty of time to watch Faith. She listened to Faith talking to Chanterelle, and watched how Faith looked at her, and wondered what the hell she was doing.

Faith blew Chanterelle a kiss. Chanterelle snarled back at her. But she was all talk. Faith could tell she was afraid. She smelled it on her. The little bald one tried leaping at her again.

"Thanks dude," Faith said, flipping him over her shoulder and slamming him into a wall. "I owe Buffy one more of you guys." She grabbed him by the waist with one hand and by the collar with the other, picked him up and heaved him across the alley in Buffy's direction. "Heads up, B," she said. The vampire hit the ground a few feet away from Buffy.

Faith noticed Buffy was still going at it with the big one. She ignored the cowboy as he circled around her, and Chanterelle as she pretended to; the girl obviously had no idea what to do next. Faith watched Buffy for a moment to make sure she wasn't in trouble. She saw Buffy was snarling, and smiling. The little bald guy got up and tried to tackle Buffy from behind as the big one wound up and threw the slowest, easiest to dodge roundhouse punch ever. Buffy giggled and ducked and the roundhouse connected with the little bald guy and sent him flying into a wall. He collapsed, unconscious. Faith smiled at the cowboy and Chanterelle.

"Yeah, so I'm havin' a rough night, y'know?" Faith said, and showed them her teeth. "My girlfriend's not puttin' out for me. She's all about the teasin'. She's been a fuckin' cocktease to me all day."

Buffy snapped her head around and stared at Faith. But Faith wasn't looking back at her; Faith was looking at Chanterelle.

The big vampire managed to get a shot in under Buffy's guard while she was distracted; it sent her sprawling. She backflipped herself out of his way as he sprang at her, and staked the bald one while he lay unconscious on the ground. She barely paid attention to the vampires; she didn't take her eyes off Faith.

"What do you think, cherry?" Faith said, snarling at Chanterelle now. "Maybe I should like, wine and dine her first? Take her somewhere nice? Think that might get me some play?" Faith leaped at Chanterelle. Chanterelle tried to dodge her but she was awkward and slow; Faith pounced on her like a cat and pinned her to the ground. Faith sensed the cowboy coming up behind her and she rolled to her side without letting go of Chanterelle and aimed a kick right at his balls. He doubled up in pain and fell to the ground.

Chanterelle took a weak swipe at Faith with her claws. Faith easily blocked it and clubbed Chanterelle in the face with her forearm, cracking her head against the ground. Chanterelle whimpered. Faith put her knee on Chanterelle's left arm and held her right arm in a wrist lock.

"Change to human," Faith snarled. "Look pretty for me, cherry."

Chanterelle hesitated. Faith clubbed her in the face with her forearm again. Chanterelle screamed, and tears filled her eyes.

"Not fuckin' tellin' you again," Faith said.

Chanterelle's face changed to human form.

"That's better, cherry," Faith said, and smiled, and looked her in the eyes. She increased the pressure on Chanterelle's wrist. Chanterelle whimpered again.

"The fuck are you supposed to be?" Faith said, and laughed. "A vampire? You're a fucking joke." Faith leaned in close to her, and caressed her hair. "You do anything besides look pretty?" Faith whispered. Their lips were touching.

Buffy ducked another one of the big vampire's slow punches, got in under his guard, and staked him. She watched Faith.

"You fucking stay down," Faith snarled to Chanterelle, yanking her blonde hair. She saw the cowboy getting up out of the corner of her eye, about to make another run at her. "You fucking stay down or I'll hurt you worse. You get up from this fucking spot and I'll shove my stake all the way up your pretty little ass before I dust you with it. Got it, cherry?"

Chanterelle was shaking. She nodded. Faith stood up. The cowboy was circling her, and snarling.

"Bring it on, Tex," Faith said, and twirled her stake around. "Maybe I can't put the wood to my girlfriend but I sure as hell can put the wood to you."

"Shit girl, you want me to give you a poke before I drink you I'm game," the cowboy said.

"Don't flatter yourself dude," Faith said, and laughed. "Yeah, you're easy on the eyes, and I am diggin' those boots. But you're a vampire. Screwing a vampire would be fucking disgusting. I'd never lower myself like that."

Buffy looked away from Faith; she looked down at the ground.

"Shit, I'm not even gonna screw cherry over there, and she's real easy on the eyes," Faith said. "And I know she wants me at least."

"Guess you're gonna die unfulfilled, girl," the cowboy said, and sprang at her. Faith didn't even bother with an aikido move; she spun out of his way and staked him in mid-air as he passed.

"That was pretty fulfilling, actually," Faith said, to the pile of dust floating to the ground. "And dude? Weak-ass vamp like you so didn't deserve those boots. Those were like Clint Eastwood boots, man."

Faith could smell Chanterelle behind her. Out of the corner of her eye she could see Buffy leaning against the wall, her face red.

"You best not have left that fucking spot, cherry," Faith said, with her back turned to Chanterelle. "When I turn around, if you're not in you're fucking spot I'm gonna get plumb mad-dog mean."

Faith turned around. Chanterelle was lying where Faith had left her. Faith smiled, and showed Chanterelle her teeth.

"That's my girl," Faith said. Faith felt Buffy watching her.

Chanterelle was crying now.

"That's a pretty coat, cherry," Faith said. "I want it. Take it off."

With shaking hands, Chanterelle took her coat off. Faith took it from her.

"What are you doing?" Buffy said.

"Havin' a little fun," Faith said. "Gettin' my kicks where I have to."

"What the hell does that mean?" Buffy said.

They looked at each other.

"Something you want to say to me?" Buffy said. Buffy's face was still red.

"You can...you can fuck me," Chanterelle said.

Buffy and Faith looked at her.

"What?" Faith said.

"You can fuck me," Chanterelle said. She was crying. "Please don't...hurt me. Please don't. I'll do whatever you want. You can both fuck me if you want."

"Jesus Christ," Faith said.

Faith thought of Rebecca, on the floor of the restaurant. A wave of nausea went through her.

"Having fun yet?" Buffy said.

Faith threw Chanterelle's coat back to her.

"Chanterelle," Faith said. "Get up and go."

"What?" Chanterelle said.

"Get the fuck out of here!" Faith shouted.

Chanterelle got up and tried to put her coat on. Her hands were shaking too badly to manage it. So she ran away, carrying it in her hand...

Buffy threw her stake through her back, and Chanterelle turned to dust.

"What the hell did you do that for?" Faith said.

"She was a fucking vampire," Buffy said.

They walked back to the motel, without saying another word.

When they got to the motel room Buffy found her purse and marched right back to the door. Then she turned, and looked back at Faith.

"I don't put out, huh?" Buffy said. "You can't put the wood to me?"

"That was just...I was goofin' around," Faith said.

"Could you have been any more fucking crude and insulting?" Buffy said. "Could you have treated me any more like shit?"

"I didn't...that's not what I meant," Faith said.

"You think I'm stupid?! That I didn't see what you were doing? That I don't know what all that bullshit with that girl was about?!"

"You're the one who thinks I'm stupid, remember?"

"What? What the hell are you talking about? I don't think you're stupid."

"Sure you do. Said so in the cemetery."

"I didn't mean that! You know I didn't mean that! I was just pissed off."

"Seems to me you say a lot of things you don't mean, B. First I'm stupid then I'm not. First we can't kiss but then when you're feelin' a little horny suddenly we can. First you're my girl and then..."

"Want me to be your girl, huh?" Buffy said. "You sure you don't mean your whore? Maybe if you take me out somewhere nice I'll put out for you. Wine and dine me, Faith. Maybe all I need is for you to spend some money on me and I'll put out."

Buffy had tears in her eyes.

"Is that what you think of me?" Buffy said. "I'm some girl who put out?"

"Buffy," Faith said. "That's...that's not what I think."

"How could you humiliate me like that?" Buffy said. "How could you say those things?"

Disgusting, Buffy heard Faith saying.

"Buffy," Faith said, and touched her shoulder, and tried to hug her. "I like you. I didn't...mean all that stuff like..."

Buffy pushed Faith's hands away, and walked out the door.




The next day, Faith sat in her motel room eating potato chips and drinking a Coke and watching a repeat of one of those cop shows where the whole show is about how they collect evidence and find fingerprints and carpet fibers and drops of blood and do ballistics tests on guns. She missed NYPD Blue.

Faith didn't like the cop show but there was nothing else on except soap operas and they were worse. And there was nothing to do besides watch TV.

Has your brain rotted enough yet? she remembered Rebecca saying. She smiled.

"Almost there, Becca," Faith said, to the empty room. "Tryin' for a nice liquid consistency."

At least at night she could go out hunting. But the days were hard, now... the days were hard without Rebecca. The days were hard in the empty room.

Buffy and Willow and Xander got to go to school during the day. Faith remembered how Rebecca wanted her to get her GED, and go to college after that if she wanted to. It was a lifetime ago. It was a week ago.

She had three-hundred and eighty-two dollars left. It was enough to pay for a bus ticket to Cleveland, and maybe a week at a shitty motel out there.

Faith didn't want to go to Cleveland.

A familiar scent came to her. Willow. Faith let her senses reach out.

Willow was alone. Faith hadn't expected Buffy to be with her anyway.

She opened the door just as Willow was about to ring the bell.

"Um...hi," Willow said, and smiled. She was wearing a pink Hello Kitty tee-shirt and jeans and pink sneakers, and Faith thought she looked adorable.

The tee-shirt showed off Willow's breasts nicely; they were bigger than Faith had thought. The jeans were nice and tight. Faith liked how Willow looked in the tee-shirt and the jeans. She liked how she smelled too. Faith wondered if there was a girl in Sunnydale she wasn't attracted to. It was like someone had whacked her with a lesbian stick the moment she got off the bus.

Fuck, Faith thought.

"Hey," Faith said. "What's up? Uh...come in."

She stepped aside, and Willow walked into the room.

"Um...did you smell me coming?" Willow said, and sat on the bed. "You did, didn't you? You totally smelled me."

"Slayer thing," Faith said. "You don't got B.O. or nothin'. So what's goin' on? Uh...you want something to drink? Got Coke and Sprite."

"Sprite's good," Willow said. Faith walked into the bathroom, came back with a Sprite for Willow and another Coke for herself, popped the top off of Willow's Sprite and gave it to her. She sat next to her on the bed.

"You look good," Faith said. "The bruise is almost all gone. So how are you feeling? You doin' okay?"

"Yeah," Willow said, and smiled. "Thanks to you."

"Slayer," Faith said. "Part of the job description."

"Was the hug in the job description too?"

"Sure," Faith said, and smiled. "Right there in the Slayer handbook."

"Is there really a Slayer handbook? Kendra mentioned one but I've never seen it."

"Yeah, Becca said there is. I've never seen it either though. Becca told me she never bothered with it. Called it 'rubbish'."

"So what do I smell like? Like, y'know, how you smelled me coming? Do I smell good?"

"Yeah. I like how you smell."

"Okay but...if I smelled bad you probably wouldn't tell me, would you?"

"Well...probably not. But trust me Will, you smell good. If you didn't I'd be sitting far away. You smell like strawberries to me."

"Strawberries? Really?"

"I like strawberries. You don't like strawberries?"

Willow thought about it. Strawberries were sort of nice. They tasted good, when they were ripe; before they were ripe they tasted really sour. The problem was they were almost never ripe: they were either not quite ripe yet or starting to go bad. Willow was good at math and she knew the ripeness window with strawberries was really only theoretical. It was like imaginary numbers. They spent all week in your refrigerator not being ripe and you just knew they were going to taste sour and lame so you avoided them all week and then just when you were looking forward to having one they had suddenly gotten overripe and they were mushy and there was weird gross icky fuzz growing on some of them. But they made bubble bath that smelled like strawberries. They made really expensive shampoo that smelled like strawberries too. Strawberries smelled good.

"I like strawberries," Willow said, and drank her Sprite. "Um...I'm glad I smell good. I'd be all, y'know, mopey if I smelled bad."

"You smell great, Will," Faith said.

"Good," Willow said. "So how have you and Buffy been?"

"We're okay," Faith said.

Willow nodded. "She told me in school today that you guys didn't have a chance to do the tour of Sunnydale thing, so I want to take you," she said.

"On a tour of Sunnydale?" Faith said.

"Sure. There's this big English test tomorrow that Buffy totally needs to bone up for tonight, or she'd take you. But I'm free. And I thought, y'know, maybe we could hang."

Faith knew Buffy didn't want to see her. Faith knew Willow was only doing this because she felt bad for her.

"Night on the town with Willow, huh?" Faith said.

"Yup," Willow said. "There'll be a little less of an emphasis on shoe shopping on the Willow tour, but you'll see more stuff. Buffy's tour would have really been more of a look around all the shoe stores. Love the girl dearly, but she's got a serious shoe-shopping problem. I think she needs an intervention. So how about it? I got my Mom's car with me, I can show you the whole town. We can hit the mall, I can show you all the cemeteries if you want, and there are some pretty nice restaurants around Sunnydale too. And we might check out a shoe store. But just one. Um, two. No more than two."

Faith didn't have anything else to do.

"Sure," Faith said.

"So how have you and Faith been?" Willow said.

She was sitting in school with Buffy in the little student lounge area by the candy machines during their free period the next day. She was drinking an extra-large super mocha cappuccino with lots of sugar and cocoa sprinkles and Buffy had a latte. Jealous underclassmen frowned at them. They didn't get free periods.

Willow could even leave the school grounds now, any time she wanted to. She drank her extra-large super mocha cappuccino with lots of sugar and cocoa sprinkles, and smiled. She and Buffy had gone to the Starbucks during lunch. Underclassmen couldn't go to the Starbucks. They couldn't go anywhere.

Being a senior was awesome.

Buffy wasn't smiling. She looked down at her history notebook, and read through her notes without actually reading them, and tried to act casual.

"We're okay," Buffy said.

Willow nodded.

"You guys do your tour thing?" Buffy said.

"Yup," Willow said, looking down at her laptop and checking her e-mail. A quarter of it was spam. She'd been keeping track of spam since she'd first encountered it a few years before. It was getting worse. It was becoming a serious pain in the entire world's ass. It made e-mail tedious. Willow thought she should probably do something about spam at some point. Maybe there was a god she could call upon. "We hit the mall, and I showed her the Magic Box, and then we went to a restaurant, that Italian place downtown? 'Grappolo'? Then I took her by all the cemeteries after that. Faith insisted on paying for the restaurant. I kept trying to pay and she kept saying no and I kept explaining to her how she was like my guest and I should pay but she kept saying no and it got like a Monty Python skit after awhile--simply saying 'No it isn't' isn't an argument. Yes it is! No it isn't! Yes it is! No it isn't!--and anyway she ended up buying me dinner."

"You always lose me when you quote Monty Python," Buffy said.

"You need to watch Monty Python," Willow said.

"I'm never gonna watch Monty Python."

"Someday I'm gonna tie you down in the comfy chair and make you watch every episode."

"I'm a Slayer. You can't tie me down."

"I'll have weapons. Amongst my weaponry are such diverse elements as fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope, and a nice red uniform. Plus I'll poke you with soft cushions."

Buffy smiled.

"I knew I'd get a smile out of you eventually," Willow said, and closed her laptop. "Just had to keep pluggin' away. Hey. Do I smell like strawberries?"

"Yeah," Buffy said. "Faith tell you that?"

"Yeah, " Willow said. "When I went over her place yesterday she did that Slayer thing? Y'know, where she like, knew I was at the door before I rang the bell? And I asked her if she smelled me and she said yeah, and when I asked her what I smell like she said strawberries."

"Yup," Buffy said. "You've always been my strawberry girl."

"How come you never told me I smell like strawberries?"
"Never came up I guess. Why? You don't like strawberries?"

"It's just so final. Like this big decision was made about me and I wasn't consulted. Now I'm like, this strawberry person forever. What if I wanna be bananas? Or like, orchids? Or waffles? Now I'm just always strawberries."

"I like strawberries. I gotta admit though, it'd be kinda fun if you smelled like waffles all the time. I'd be like, 'Mmmmm, waffles.' But then I'd always want to eat you. Um...and we will now pretend I never said that."

"Said what?"

"So how's Faith?" Buffy said. "How's she doing?"

"Bad," Willow said.

Buffy snapped her head up.

"What?" Buffy said. "Did something happen to her? Is she okay?"

"How about you tell me?" Willow said.

"I hate when you do this," Buffy said. "You never should've signed up for that psychology elective. There was a perfectly good philosophy course you could've taken instead."

"I'm with Faith, philosophy's a bunch of horse puckey," Willow said. "Life's about living, not wondering how to live. Besides, the psychology class gave me some insights into certain people who shall remain nameless and all their weird martyrdom issues."

"People named Buffy who shall remain nameless?"

"Not tellin'. But they have shoe compulsions too."

"You like Faith a lot, don't you?"

"Sure. She's nice."

"Don't take this the wrong way? But...you and Faith...you seem like two really different people to me. You don't seem like a natural match."

"Maybe I like tough girls. The Slayer's my best friend, after all."

"You think I'm a tough girl? But I like being a girly girl. I mean, yeah, okay, I kill bad guys, but, like, in a totally cute and lovable way."

"Don't worry, you're girly enough. You still get annoyed whenever you break a nail on patrol. And actually, Faith's a lot like you, y'know. And you think you and me are a natural match, right?"

"Of course I do. Duh. You're my best friend."

"Well, there you go. I work with Buffy and I work with Faith. I'm like peanut butter, and you guys are like marshmallow fluff and chocolate syrup."

"Am I fluff or chocolate?" Buffy said.

"I'm leaning toward fluff," Willow said. "More girly. Faith can be the chocolate syrup. She looks like a chocolate girl to me. Or maybe she's jelly. If I'm peanut butter I go good with jelly too. But maybe Xander should be jelly... okay, this is actually getting really complicated now."

"Faith can be chocolate syrup," Buffy said. "I like chocolate syrup."
"Cool," Willow said. "And then you add me in and I'm totally in the middle of an awesome Buffy and Faith sandwich."

Buffy grinned, and raised her eyebrows at her.

"Um...y'know...'cuz I'm peanut butter," Willow said, lamely. "We make... y'know...a fluffernutter sandwich."

"I think it's time for us to back away from the metaphor slowly, and not make any sudden movements," Buffy said.

"Backing away now," Willow said.

"You really think Faith and I are a lot alike?" Buffy said.

"Yeah. She's what you could have been, Buffy. If things didn't turn out so good. She's got problems, she's got a lot of stuff goin' on, you heard what Giles said. But she's still a good person. She still tries. The way you would. And I'm pretty sure she's got that same martyrdom complex as The Buffy Who Shall Remain Nameless too."

"But not the shoe compulsion. No one's as compulsive about shoes as The Buffy Who Shall Remain Nameless."

"Faith's had lousy luck. It's made her like a porcupine, kinda. Prickly, hard to approach. I did like ninety percent of the talking yesterday. But I'm not giving up on her. And you know what I like best about her? She didn't want to be there yesterday, right? I mean, I think she likes me but she doesn't really wanna let me in. She doesn't wanna let anyone in. But I wanted to drag her around town and she went with me. And she tried her best to act interested in stuff I brought up that she completely doesn't care about, and I thought I was doing the tour of Sunnydale for her, but really? She was doing it for me. She acted interested even when I talked about the proper way to grind up mandrake root. She doesn't want me to think she doesn't like me. She worried about my feelings."

"You talk about Monty Python at her? She might draw the line at pretending to be interested in Monty Python."

"I'm gonna kinda ease her into Monty Python. So what's going on with you guys? What happened?"

"She say anything?"

"Nope. But she got all quiet whenever I brought you up. Um...quieter."

"We...had a fight."

"You guys do tend to do that."

Buffy laughed, without humor. She gulped down the rest of her latte. She needed the latte. She'd gotten about two hours of sleep.

"It's funny," Buffy said. "I've hung out with the girl like three times and ended up getting into a fight with her two days out of three. The only time we're not fighting is when we're..." she caught herself. "When we're not hanging out."

Willow wondered how long it would be before Buffy finally told her that she and Faith were having sex.

"So what did you fight about?" Willow said.

"It's...just Slayer stuff, Will," Buffy said.

"She feels really bad about it," Willow said.

"Yeah," Buffy said. "Me too."

Willow put her hand on Buffy's shoulder. "So do something about it," she said. "You're marshmallow fluff, sweetie. Go get with your chocolate syrup."

"I'm just saying, it's an option," Xander said. "If I was the fluff..."

"I'm the marshmallow fluff," Buffy said.

"I told you he'd get obsessive about this," Willow said. "He's gonna be talking about it forever now."

"Better than the Luke not shooting first thing," Buffy said.

"It's Han," Xander said. "Lucas changed it so Han doesn't shoot first. What about if I'm the peanut butter? And Will can be the jelly. That way..."

"Jelly doesn't go with chocolate syrup," Willow said.

"This is really complicated," Xander said.

School was over and they were heading outside. As they walked out the doors into a beautiful, clear, sunny afternoon, navigating their way through a horde of stir-crazy teenagers, Buffy detected Faith's scent. She looked around. At the end of the long, stone path through the lawn, she saw Faith sitting at the top of the stairs, facing away from the school, looking out at the street.

Willow and Xander continued their discussion about peanut butter, marshmallow fluff, chocolate syrup and jelly. Xander was proposing adding a fifth food item but Willow was refusing to even consider it because the whole system was complicated enough already. They walked down the path. Willow and Xander didn't know Faith was at the end of it. Buffy was quiet beside them.

Willow looked at Buffy, and understood.

Willow looked around. She spotted Faith.

"Hey Xander, I um, forgot something in my chem class," Willow said, and stopped, and took his arm. "I gotta go get it. Come back with me?"

"Uh...sure, okay," Xander said. "We'll see you around, Buff."

"Okay," Buffy said. "I'll talk to you guys tomorrow."

Willow squeezed Buffy's shoulder, and smiled.

"Marshmallow fluff goes great with chocolate syrup," she whispered in Buffy's ear, and then walked back to the school with Xander.

"Hey," Faith said, without turning around, as Buffy approached her.

"Hey," Buffy said. Buffy stopped beside her, and looked out at the street. Faith was looking down at the stairs.

"You in the market for an apology?" Faith said. "Got an apology I'm lookin' to unload."

"Maybe," Buffy said. "But it would have to be a really great apology. And I'll want to check the merchandise first before I buy."

Faith nodded, still looking down at the stairs.

"Somewhere we can talk?" Faith said.

"Come on," Buffy said.

Faith got up, and Buffy led her across the lawn. Eventually, they stopped beneath a tall willow tree.

Buffy leaned against the tree with her arms folded across her chest, and waited. Faith hadn't looked at her while she was sitting on the steps and she hadn't looked at her as they walked across the lawn and she still wasn't looking at her now.

Faith was looking at the kids spilling out of the school. They looked like prisoners who had just finished serving their sentences: a little shell-shocked, squinting up at the sun, but happy. Faith knew the kids had no idea how lucky they were. They'd go home to Moms and Dads and brothers and sisters who loved them. Toss the football around, maybe some Playstation before dinner.

How was your day? Wash your hands before dinner. Make sure you get your homework done. We love you.

We want you to get good grades because we want you to be happy. We want you to go to college, to have opportunities we never had. We want you to build a good life for yourself. We love you.

Faith finally looked at Buffy. It was a hot day and Buffy was wearing a halter top that showed a lot of her back and a short skirt with a slit up the side that showed a lot of her leg. She looked beautiful. She always looked beautiful.

"I hurt you," Faith said. "I said some stuff and it hurt you."

"Yeah," Buffy said.

"I'm sorry," Faith said. "I'd never in a million years want to hurt you."

Buffy nodded.

"I've been thinking about the stuff I said, about that whole day," Faith said. "I was wrong. This isn't me putting the blame on you, okay? I was the one who said mean, spiteful hurtful stuff and made you feel like...like I don't respect you. I take the blame for that, I ran my mouth and talked a lot of shit and acted like a dick. But I've been trying to figure out why I did it."

Buffy nodded.

"It was a weird day, y'know?" Faith said, and crouched down under the tree, and looked down at the grass. "You came in and I was...I was nervous. I was nervous because of what happened the day before. Because I thought I didn't want it to happen again. I mean, the day before, when we did it, we were both freaked out afterwards and we were both all like 'It never happened'. And I was right with you on that, I didn't want it to happen again, I was freaked out by it too. I mean, for Christ's sake, I like guys. I have a guy, in Boston. But, by the next day...turns out I did want it to happen again. I missed it, missed being with you, and I wanted it again."

"I did too," Buffy said.

Faith nodded, and looked down at the grass.

"So you walk in and you look real pretty and you smell real nice and everything and I was practically bouncing off the walls in there," Faith said. "I kept telling myself I was sort of like, laying down the law a little? Laying down the law when I was being all flirty with you. Like, 'Yeah, maybe I want you but you can only have me if it's the way I want it.' Or maybe like, 'I can be all flirty and stuff now because I'm so over how we got horizontal that I can totally goof about it, it wasn't a big deal.'"

"Yeah," Buffy said. "A little of both, I think."

"Yeah," Faith said. She stood up, and leaned back against the tree beside Buffy. The school was clearing out now; the big lawn was almost empty. Faith saw Willow and Xander walk out the front doors, down the path toward the stairs. Xander noticed her, and waved. Faith waved back. When Xander started walking toward them Willow grabbed his arm and led him back down the path toward the street. "But underneath all that, what I wasn't clueing myself into was that I really wasn't over it and I wanted it again," Faith said, turning back to Buffy. "And I kinda got a little hyper I guess and I teased you a little...and then..."

"And then I teased you back," Buffy said. "I told myself I was calming you down and just trying to get us both relaxed about the sex stuff so we could talk. And that was part of it but...the other part was I wanted it too. I wanted it, with you. And I don't know why. I'm...not gay. I've never liked girls."

Faith knew Buffy was lying. She wished Buffy wouldn't lie to her. Rebecca was right: lies complicated things, they made things harder. But Faith figured Buffy needed the lie...maybe even needed to believe it herself.

But believing it didn't make it true.

Faith knew Buffy was in love with Willow.

"We made a choice," Faith said. "We both made a choice and you tried to do the smart thing and stick to it but when our noses tuned into those vamps it was like a switch went off in me, y'know? The Slayer was in charge and I was all about the kills...but not just the kills. It was like everything in my life suddenly just got real clear and I knew exactly what I wanted. I wanted to kill those vamps and I wanted you in my bed."

"I didn't totally stick to it," Buffy said. "I liked being in your bed. I liked having your hand on my boobs as we slept. I liked the kiss goodnight. But...we made a choice. I don't like girls, Faith, I'm not...that way. Yeah, okay, I like you but you're like the one exception in the world. And I have a guy, we both have guys, and I don't want to cheat. I don't want to be the kind of person who cheats."

Faith thought about Evan. He seemed very far away, now. And she knew she could never go back to him. So what was the point of being loyal to him?

He was in her heart and he always would be, but he was gone...

"Me neither," Faith said. "But when you said I still have you and I asked you to prove it...I wasn't thinking about my guy, all I was thinking about was you. And when I tried to get something going and you said we shouldn't just go back on what we decided without talking it out first, you were right, you were using your head, but I wouldn't listen. All I heard was you don't want me and I got...I don't know."

"Hurt?" Buffy said.

Faith nodded.

"But I know you didn't mean it that way," Faith said. "You were talkin' sense and I was being dumb and not listening, same as always."

"You're not dumb," Buffy said. "Stop saying that."

Faith shrugged her shoulders.

"So anyway that girl vamp...Chanterelle," Faith said. "I gotta admit, I thought she was real pretty. And before you got to the alley, when I was doing my little girl lost bit, she was all mackin' on me, all in my space battin' her lashes at me like we were gonna get horizontal and put on a show for the guys, and maybe that's what she was planning. I was horny for you and now this chick's all in my face and I was still hurtin' a little from feeling like you rejected me and I just...I just started saying stuff, it just came out. But I didn't mean it Buffy, I'm sorry. I don't...I don't think of you that way. Those words. 'Putting out', and 'cocktease', all those mean words. I don't think those kinds of words about you. You're a smart, classy girl and all you've ever tried to do is be nice to me. I'm sorry."

"C'mere," Buffy said, and took Faith's hand, and drew her close, and hugged her.

They held each other, and leaned against the tree.

"Still some people around," Faith said. "They might see."

"I don't care," Buffy said.

Faith nodded.

"The stuff you said," Buffy said. "You meant it."

"No, B, I swear, I didn't," Faith said, and touched Buffy's cheek, and looked her in the eyes. "I didn't."

"You did," Buffy said. "And I don't blame you. You said it in a mean way because you were pissed off at me but you were telling the truth the way you saw it. I was teasing you. I didn't set out to but that's how it ended up. And I led you on a little, and then I turned you away. That's not how it seemed to me when I was doing it, that's not what I was trying to do, but I can see how that's the way it looked to you and it wasn't right of me to do that to you. And I think it hurt you, more than you let on then, more than you're letting on now. And I'm sorry. That stuff you said to the vampire girl...all that stuff you were acting out with her? I think you felt like I used you a little and then rejected you when I was done with you. I think...you kinda felt like I had all the power back in the motel room and that I was using you just to get my kicks, and you wanted to take some power back and get some kicks for yourself. I think you were pissed at me but you didn't feel like you could say any of that stuff to me, you couldn't tell me how you were really feeling, so you said it to the blonde vampire girl standing in front of you instead. I think she was like, your Buffy substitute."

Faith looked down at the grass.

"I don't know, maybe," Faith said.

"I'm sorry, Faith," Buffy said. "I haven't always been nice to you. I was mean to you and I hurt you when we first met in the cemetery and I hurt you again a couple of days ago and I'm sorry."

"I'm sorry too," Faith said. "Wanna...start over?"

"Third time's the charm, huh?" Buffy said, and smiled.

"Maybe we can start over every day. Like every time we see each other I can be like, hey Buffy, my name's Faith, I'm new in town from Boston..."

"Then I take you shoe shopping and we go kill some vamps afterwards. Sounds like a plan."

Buffy found herself running her fingers through Faith's hair. She stopped herself once she realized what she was doing.

"Sorry," Buffy said, blushing.

"It's okay," Faith said, and took Buffy's hand, and brought it back to her hair. "I like when you do that."

"Okay," Buffy said, and smiled, and caressed Faith's hair.

"Buffy...look," Faith said. "I like you a lot and I like being with you but neither of us wants to cheat on our guys."

Faith knew it was a lie the moment she said it. She knew she was lying to Buffy, and she knew she was lying to herself. But she also knew that Buffy really didn't want to cheat on her guy...whoever he was. And maybe this would make things easier for Buffy. Buffy was gay and refusing to admit it and she was in a relationship with a guy and she was in love with her best friend who was a girl and she was having an affair with yet another girl. So Faith figured Buffy could use all the help she could get.

"But sometimes...sometimes it's hard for me," Faith said. "Especially when I'm all like, in Slayer mode. But even though I want you that way I want you as a friend too. I don't wanna risk losing that."

That part was true.

"I don't either," Buffy said.

"So what do we do?" Faith said. "How do we do this?"

"We...figure it out as we go, I guess," Buffy said. "We try to remember each other's feelings, and not hurt each other."

"I like when you touch my hair," Faith said.

"I can't help it. Whenever I'm with you I just want to kiss you and touch your hair. I think...we're gonna need some rules. Like..."

"We could maybe start by not being like, all naked together all the time. I think I've seen you more naked than I have with clothes on. Not complaining or nothin', but..."

They laughed.

"The scary thing is?" Buffy said. "If you like, add up all the time we've hung out together, like rounded it off to the hour maybe? I'm pretty sure you're right. I think we really have been naked together more than we've had our clothes on. Not that I'm complaining either. I could look at that butt of yours all day."

"Don't be jealous of my perfect butt," Faith said.

"I'm totally jealous," Buffy said. "It's all like, perfectly round and muscular and it sticks out just the right amount. Okay, we definitely need some rules. Rule number one. No nakedness."

"Rule number two, no mad crazy hot sex," Faith said.

They laughed again.

"Okay, if you insist," Buffy said. "Rule number three...no making out?"

They both looked doubtful about rule number three.

"That's a tough one," Faith said. "These rules are getting tough now. I like kissing you. But...kissing can lead to other things."

"Yeah. Kissing can lead to other things," Buffy said.

"Shit," Faith said. "I'm gonna hate rule number three."

"How about we make some rules for stuff we can do?" Buffy said.

"Rule number four, you can touch my hair whenever you want."

"That's my favorite rule so far," Buffy said, as she caressed Faith's hair. "Rule number five, we can hug. We can totally hug whenever we want."

"Yeah," Faith said, and put her arms around Buffy, and held her tight.

They both felt the connection again. They both felt warm.

"My Mom still wants you over for dinner," Buffy said. "You wanna come to my house for dinner tonight?"

"Okay," Faith said. "What's cookin'?"

"She's been threatening to make meat loaf lately," Buffy said. "I talked her out of it a couple times last week but I don't think I can make her put it off forever. Sometimes you just have to grit your teeth and eat the meat loaf."

"I'll eat the meat loaf," Faith said.

"Cool. Then maybe we can patrol after, do some quality violence."

"Okay," Faith said. "I'm sorry, Buffy. I'm sorry I said that stuff."

"It's okay, baby," Buffy said, and kissed Faith's forehead.

Faith looked at her with a little smile, and raised her eyebrow.

"Um...forehead kisses don't count," Buffy said.

They laughed.

"I'm chocolate syrup?" Faith said, as they approached Buffy's house. The street was sunny and lined with big, beautiful trees, mostly palms but with some other types mixed in. Down the block a girl was riding a tricycle. Across the street a man was mowing his lawn. Birds sang in the trees, and the air smelled sweet.

"Yeah," Buffy said, as they came to her house. "And I'm marshmallow fluff and Will's peanut butter. It's a whole thing. Just remember that marshmallow fluff and chocolate syrup go great together."

Buffy's house stood about twenty feet back from the sidewalk, at the end of a concrete path that cut through the big front lawn, flanked by palm trees. It was a two-story house, long and low, painted white with blue trim. Two gables projected out from the low, gray shingled roof, and there was a wide front porch. The roof overhung the porch and it was supported by four white pillars. Buffy and Faith turned into the front lawn and walked down the path. The grass was freshly mowed. There were rose bushes, and a bright flower patch beneath the windows with tulips and daffodils and azaleas and nasturtiums and other flowers Faith didn't recognize. There was a peach tree, in bloom.

"See the window up there?" Buffy said, pointing to a big window on the second floor beneath the gable on the right, as they approached the house. "That's my bedroom." They walked through a gap in a low hedge that ran around the front of the house, and climbed a short flight of steps to the front door.

Faith looked around. The door was flanked by tall picture windows. There was a sprawling umbrella plant in an urn near the door and there were hanging plants all around the front porch, spider plants and pothos and ferns and ivy; they all looked thick and green and healthy. There were three wicker chairs on the porch arranged around a wicker table with a fiberglass top. A Teddy bear sat in one of the chairs. The bear was wearing a white dress shirt with a black tie and blue trousers with a gold stripe down the side, and a blue military jacket with various medals sewn to the chest, shoulder straps bordered in gold with metal stars affixed to them, and sleeves trimmed with gold piping. It wore a blue service cap with an eagle insignia affixed to the crown and a silver leaf motif on the visor.

"That's General Paddington," Buffy said. "He got on my nerves when I was six years old back in L.A. because he was always ordering around all my other stuffed animals at the tea parties, so I started keeping him outside. He guards the house against enemy invaders now."

"He's one bad-ass bear," Faith said. "He's kinda eyeballin' me though. I think he wants me to drop and give him twenty."

"He's suspicious of visitors," Buffy said. "It's the whole guarding against invaders thing. For all he knows you might be like, an enemy agent."

"I'll win him over," Faith said.

Buffy unlocked the door and they walked into a little foyer with a tiffany lamp on an end table and an African mask hanging on the wall above it that looked like a crow's head.

"Whoa," Faith said. "That's a serious...uh...whatever that thing is."

"It's an African mask," Buffy said. "My Mom runs an art gallery, she's way into creepy African masks. It's all fun and games until one of them starts reanimating all the dead bodies in town and suddenly you're fighting fifty zombies in your living room."

"Your Mom had an African mask that brought dead bodies back to life?" Faith said.

"Well, she didn't do it on purpose, but yeah," Buffy said. "Welcome to Sunnydale."

"You had to fight fifty zombies in your living room?" Faith said.

"Worst Christmas ever," Buffy said.

They walked into a hallway, and Faith saw a living room leading off it to the left and a dining room leading off it to the right. Stairs led up to the second floor. And Buffy's bedroom.

"Faith!" Joyce beamed, rushing out at them from the dining room.

"Guess who's coming to dinner?" Buffy said.

"Uh, hi Joyce," Faith said.

"It's about time you got here," Joyce said, and hugged Faith. Faith felt awkward. She returned the hug, and tried to hide it.

"Come in, come in," Joyce said, and beckoned Faith into the living room. "I'm cooking dinner now. And thank you for the advance notice, Buffy," Joyce added, and smiled back at Buffy. "It gave me plenty of time to prepare something really special for Faith's first dinner here."

"She's being sarcastic," Buffy said, and sat on the couch. "Isn't she fun when she's sarcastic?" Faith sat next to her. The couch they were sitting on was a big, comfy chocolate brown monstrosity that you sank into, with burgundy throw pillows. Two dark wood side tables stood on either end of the couch, with a little tiffany lamp on each. The coffee table was made from the same dark wood. There was a gold and black and burgundy oriental rug covering most of the hardwood floor, and the wallpaper was gold with a subtle floral print. Two dark wood chairs with beige cushions and deep red plaid chenille throws draped over them sat around the couch. More African masks adorned the walls, all representing animals: there was a giraffe and a lion and what looked like an elephant, but Faith wasn't sure. There was a big landscape painting hanging over the fireplace; it was an impressionist painting of birds flying over a stormy sea and Faith thought it was probably what the painting in her motel room wanted to be when it grew up.

The living room was cozy and warm and intimate and also pretty fabulous; Joyce had good taste. But it was so cozy that just being there made Faith want to curl up in Buffy's lap and go to sleep. She put the thought out of her mind. If sleeping with her head in Buffy's lap in front of a fireplace wasn't against one of their new rules Faith thought it probably should be.

Faith looked at the fireplace.

"Plus the cool thing about you being here is she won't yell at me in front of you, so I can totally get away with stuff," Buffy said.

"That's an interesting theory," Joyce said, with a big smile. "Do you think it'll hold up under rigorous testing?"

There wasn't a fire going in the fireplace; the weather had been too hot lately. Faith remembered the fireplace in Rebecca's house...how she and Evan had sat in front of it once, on a cold night in early spring, when the fire was going, and Rebecca wasn't home.

"Remember those earrings I borrowed, and how I keep on, um, forgetting to give them back?" Buffy said. "I kind of, um, lost them when I was out patrolling. From now on, I hereby pledge not to wear fabulous jewelry when I'm patrolling. Especially not your jewelry."
Buffy smiled. Joyce smiled too, but she had to put more effort into it.

Faith and Evan hadn't done anything when they sat in front of the fireplace that night; they hadn't even kissed. But she had curled up with her head on his shoulder.

He was gone, and she couldn't ever have him. But sometimes she still felt like she was cheating on him. She felt like she was cheating on him now. She kept going back and forth...

Faith looked at the fireplace. There was nothing there but ashes.

Evan was gone. And she was alone.

She felt Buffy's hands on her shoulders.

"You're my human shield," Buffy said, hiding behind her.

Faith looked away from the fireplace, pushed the memories away...pushed Evan away.

"I'll do my best but I don't know B, your Mom looks pretty tough," Faith said. "If it came down to it I bet she could kick my butt."

"Faith, would you like something to drink?" Joyce said. "There's soda, and orange juice, and apple juice, and fruit punch, and...well actually just assume I have everything and tell me what you'd like to drink. And I'd never kick your butt. That would just be rude. Buffy's butt, on the other hand..."

Buffy's hands were still on Faith's shoulders, and Buffy was still hiding behind her. Faith heard Buffy giggling in her ear.

"Uh, soda's good, like a coke or whatever," Faith said.

"Theory held up," Buffy said, peeking out from behind Faith's hair.

"Faith won't be here forever," Joyce said, and headed for the kitchen.

"So hey, what's for dinner anyway?" Buffy said.

Joyce looked back at Buffy over her shoulder.

"Meat loaf, dear," Joyce said, with a very big smile.

"And the war begins," Buffy said.

"How come you're always badmouthin' your Mom's meat loaf?" Faith said. "It's pretty good. Throw in the corn and mashed potatoes and that was one righteous dinner."

"Wow. First you have a crush on Giles, now you actually like my Mom's meat loaf," Buffy said. "Maybe I should just hang my head in shame and take off, let you be the Slayer here from now on. I could go to college and get my degree and like, live happily ever after as a fabulous socialite. Who's married to a rock star. Or a movie star. I'm not choosy."

"They got fabulous socialite degrees?" Faith said.

They were sitting on Buffy's bed. The bedroom was big and bright with hardwood floors and a king-sized bed covered with fluffy pillows. There was a desk without any homework on it; Buffy seemed to be using it to stack her CD's. There was a respectable stereo system, and a big walk-in closet, and a steamer trunk in the corner. A poster of Gavin Rossdale was taped to the wall above the stereo, but there was a much bigger poster of Lauren Bacall in Dark Passage on the wall across from the bed and an even bigger poster of Ava Gardner hanging next to that. Faith noticed Ava was showing a lot of leg. She knew Gavin was Buffy's beard.

The room was wonderful; Faith wished she could sleep there. There were maybe one or two more stuffed animals than Faith thought were strictly required, but it was still the kind of room she always dreamed of having when she was growing up...the kind of room she had when she was with Rebecca.

But the best thing about it was that it smelled like Buffy; her scent was everywhere in the room, on every surface. It was strongest on the bed.

Faith lay back on the bed, and inhaled Buffy's scent.

"They better have fabulous socialite degrees," Buffy said, and sat next to Faith on the bed, and played with her hair. "Because I have no idea what else to major in when I go to college."

"Nice bed," Faith said.

"Yeah," Buffy said, and smiled. "Looks great right now."

"Is there a rule against me sleeping with my head in your lap?" Faith said. "Did we make a rule against that?"

"Not specifically. I don't think we made any anti-cuddling rules. Sleeping in the same bed is sort of like just hugging while laying down, so I think it's allowed. But we'd have to be careful not to let it turn into naked sleeping. All our sleeping always becomes naked sleeping."

"Actually I think it starts out naked and just kinda stays that way."

"You want me to lie down with you for a little while before we go on patrol?" Buffy said.

"Yeah," Faith said.

"Okay," Buffy said, and lay down next to Faith. "But we have to be real careful not to fall asleep. My Mom sees us asleep in bed together and, um...well, let's just say that would get kind of awkward."

Buffy put her arms around Faith, and Faith curled up against her breasts.

"Your Mom wouldn't be cool with how you're secretly such a big pervo lesbian?" Faith said.

"You wish," Buffy said, and giggled. "No, my Mom's okay. I mean, she freaks about stuff sometimes but once she's calmed down and gets herself out of Ultra-Mom mode and like, takes a breath she's usually pretty reasonable about stuff. Still, me in bed with a girl might test the reasonableness."

"Plus there's that thing with the earrings," Faith said. "Joyce is already at Defcon two now, better not test her."

"Had to tell her sometime," Buffy said. "It was a tactical decision."

"The old human shield trick."

"Yeah, I'm a pro at it. I used to have Willow run interference for me all the time. She's just so pretty and huggable that my Mom can't ever get angry at me when she's around. But then Will got wise and made me promise to stop. And I can't use Xander because he secretly has the hots for my Mom and he always takes her side. He would've been all like, 'Yeah Buffy, how lame is it that you lost your Mom's earrings? I can't believe you lost her earrings.'"

"I'll be your human shield. I'd take a bullet for you."

Buffy nodded, and played with Faith's hair.

"You like this, baby?" Buffy said, and kissed Faith's forehead. "You like lying down with me like this?"

"Yeah," Faith said. "Kinda wish we could go to sleep, but..."

"Me too. But it's early, it's like seven. Once we get outta this bed and get our game faces on we'll feel wide awake again and we'll be totally all about the girl-on-vamp violence. But it'll be cute, sassy violence. And forehead kisses aren't covered by rule three."

They felt the connection. They felt warm.

"I always feel warm when we're together," Faith said.

"Me too," Buffy said.

"Show me that move you did," Buffy said.

It was nearly two in the morning. They were on their third cemetery. They had killed more than twenty vampires.

They had killed, and killed, and killed...

After they had gotten up out of the bed and gotten their game faces on things hadn't quite gone according to plan because then Faith had decided she wanted to explore every possible loophole in rule number three--if forehead kisses were allowed, what about kisses on the cheek? Or the shoulder? Or the neck?--and then they had decided to lie back down on the bed again but just for a little while, and then Faith had asked if massages violated any rules, and Buffy had said not technically but then she had said something about the spirit of the law versus the letter of the law. But by that point Faith had already started massaging Buffy's shoulders so the argument was moot, and then Buffy had rolled over and pulled Faith's arm around her, and Faith had kissed the back of her neck for awhile, and then suddenly it was ten o'clock and they both realized they had fallen asleep.

So they got up and got their game faces on (again) and this time they managed to make it out of the bedroom. Buffy peeked in on her mother--Joyce was in the little sitting room talking long distance to her goofy hick friend Claire from Idaho, and she smiled at Buffy and Faith in that exact way that Buffy knew meant she had no idea that her daughter had been sleeping with a girl and everything was fine, and then she told them not to stay out too late and made Faith promise to come over for dinner again on Friday and shooed them away. Claire was goofy and a hick and she kept talking about the environment all the time and she knitted Buffy a new horrible sweater every Christmas, and Buffy actually had to wear them whenever Claire came to visit so as not to hurt her feelings, but Buffy knew she owed Claire one tonight.

And they were out the door and the night was all around them and their senses reached out and caught all the smells, and they felt their hearts beating, and they bared their teeth. They were Slayers again. They were hunters and the world existed for the sole purpose of providing them with prey: it was simply a fact and it was so obvious that Buffy and Faith couldn't believe they had forgotten it. They sprinted to the nearest cemetery, racing each other and laughing.

They wanted to fuck when they got to the cemetery; they nearly did. It was dicey for the first few minutes. They wanted to fuck and they were Slayers now and they couldn't for the life of them understand why they weren't supposed to fuck. They both knew there was a reason, and it had seemed like a good one at the time...but they just couldn't remember it. They both wished, not for the first time, that they could simply discard every single thing about themselves that wasn't the Slayer. They wandered through that first cemetery for awhile, all their senses reaching out...but reaching out only to each other.

"It's hot," Faith said, and took her shirt and bra off, and flung them away.

Buffy took Faith in her arms and leaned her against a tree, and growled softly, and dragged her teeth across Faith's neck, as Faith purred for her. She breathed in Faith's scent. Buffy knew that scent belonged to her and she knew she would kill anyone else who ever tried to have it. She knew that if the guy Faith had waiting for her back in Boston ever tried to take Faith from her she'd kill him.

Faith knelt down in front of her, and took off Buffy's skirt and pulled down Buffy's panties. Buffy stepped out of them, and took Faith by the hair, and brought her mouth to her pussy...and then they caught the scent of their prey.

Their priorities changed. Killing was even better than fucking.

And then they had killed, and killed, and killed...

"What move?" Faith said. "You mean the aikido thing? The flip?"

"No, the thing you did with that vamp's wrist," Buffy said. "You know, the skinny vamp with all the tattoos? You had him down and you did something with his wrist so he completely couldn't move."

"Yeah, that's aikido too," Faith said. "It's called a wrist lock."

They were calmer, now. They still wanted to fuck but they could control the urge. The killing had pleasured them in a way tongues and fingers never could; touched them in deeper places. The Slayers in them weren't hungry, anymore. The Slayers hadn't relinquished control yet, but they were satisfied. Buffy and Faith were able to remember all the reasons they shouldn't fuck now. They just didn't agree with any of them.

"Show me," Buffy said.

"Okay," Faith said. "Come at me."

"Anything special I should do?" Buffy said.

"Yeah," Faith said. "You should get naked, get down on your knees and lick my pussy until I come. Then you should let me do the same to you."

Buffy smiled.

"Hey, you asked," Faith said, and smiled back.

"I meant, um, should I come at you in a special way," Buffy said.

"The rules are fucking stupid," Faith said.

"Yup," Buffy said. "Stupid, stupid rules. Worst rules ever."

"But we probably won't think they're stupid tomorrow."

"We'll be okay with them tomorrow, baby. Let's just get through tonight."

"Okay," Faith said. "So come at me like you're a vamp. You don't gotta get fancy, just take a run at me. But try to land a good punch on me."

"Punch you? Are you sure? But what if...I mean...I don't want to hit you."

Faith smiled, baring her teeth.

"Trust me, girlfriend," Faith said. "You're not gonna land the punch."

"Oh I'm not, huh?" Buffy said, smiling and baring her teeth right back.

"Nope," Faith said. "Now come for me."

Buffy ran at her. Her instinct was to feint with her right and sneak in under Faith's guard with her left--that's what she would have done if this were real--but she didn't want to risk hitting Faith so she went with the right without feinting. But she didn't telegraph the punch; she didn't want to make it too easy. She decided if she ended up hitting Faith she'd just kiss her until she felt better, and rule number three could fuck off. Buffy hated rule number three.

As Buffy threw the punch Faith suddenly wasn't where she was supposed to be anymore and then somehow Buffy was spinning around and her arm was behind her back. Faith swept her legs out from under her before Buffy could even begin to free herself and Buffy was on the ground on her knees, with her right arm held up in the air behind her back with her wrist bent a weird way. She tried to move her arm. Faith wasn't holding her nearly as tightly as Buffy knew she could. Buffy thought she could probably move her arm if she put all her strength into it.

"What the hell just happened?" Buffy said.

"I'm a total fuckin' bad ass is what happened, girlfriend," Faith said. "You okay? I'm not hurting you or anything, am I?"

"No," Buffy said. "But you should be. You're holding back."

"I don't want to hurt you," Faith said, and let Buffy go, and helped her up. "A real wrist lock hurts."

"I want you to do it for real," Buffy said. "I can't understand it unless it's for real. I can take the pain. I trust you."

"You didn't come at me anywhere near as sneaky as you could've," Faith said. "We're doing this for real, you gotta come at me with a real punch."

"What if you can't dodge it?" Buffy said.

"I can take the pain," Faith said. "Unless I see a real punch you're not gettin' a real wrist lock. I've watched you fight, lover, I know how bad ass you can be when you're trying. I want the whole package."

Buffy hesitated.

"I don't want to hurt you," Buffy said.

"I kinda want you to hurt me," Faith said, and smiled. "It would be interesting. Be like having you in a way I haven't yet. We threw each other around a little that first time gettin' horizontal in the vamp house but you never actually hit me. I kinda want that. I wanna bleed for you. But don't worry, I'm not gonna let you land a punch."

"You're not, huh? It's not up to me at all?"

"Hate to break it to ya B, but I'm better. I've watched you fight. Sure, you're a bad ass, and I'm not saying I'm stronger or faster or nothin'--actually I think you might be faster than me--but I've been trained up by Becca and that means I win."

"You're serious, aren't you?" Buffy said, and smiled.

"Nothing personal, B," Faith said. "This isn't about me, it's about Becca. You don't get how much of a bad ass she was. You think she was like Giles, right? She wasn't. If Becca had trained you up instead of me you'd beat me easy peasy. But I was her girl. So, you and me fight? I win."

"You're gonna have to prove it, baby," Buffy said, still smiling, but growling a little now, and baring her teeth.

"Come for me, lover," Faith snarled. "Gimme a kiss."

Buffy came at her again. Buffy was fast; this time Faith could tell she was serious and she was using all her speed. Buffy feinted with her right and threw a left hook that was too fast to dodge even for Faith. But Faith didn't need to dodge it. Instead she took Buffy's arm in mid-air and redirected it, going with Buffy's motion, and before Buffy knew what was happening she was spun around again and her arm was up behind her back somehow and her legs were swept out from under her and she was back on her knees on the ground, and Faith was crouched behind her holding her arm up in the air. Buffy's wrist hurt this time; in fact her whole arm hurt. She tried to move it and got even more pain for her trouble.

"Don't let go," Buffy said. "Keep the pressure up. Tell me exactly what you're doing and how this works. Nice move by the way."

"Thanks. You're faster than me," Faith said. "I suspected it before but now I know it. I wanted to dodge your punch but I knew I couldn't, you're too fast. So I redirected it. Notice how I didn't yank you around or anything?"

"Yeah. One second I'm aiming a punch and then all of a sudden my arm's not going where I want it to, but it didn't feel like you even really touched it."

"Just nudged it a little. I used your momentum. Once you throw a punch or a kick, once you let it loose, it's loose; the momentum's out there and it's like a runaway train. It's hard for you to redirect it. But an outside force can redirect it no problem. All I gotta do is nudge you a little to knock you off course. It's basic aikido, using your opponent's strength against him. Becca taught me aikido specifically because it's the one martial art that can really work against a Slayer, it's all holds and throws, it's all about defeating someone who's stronger than you by using his strength against him. Even after I became the Slayer Becca still whaled on me every damn day with the aikido when she was training me."

"Rebecca was one tough cookie," Buffy said. "Giles never whales on me. It wouldn't be polite." Faith was behind her, crouched very close to her. Buffy felt Faith's breath, warm on the back of her neck. Faith was holding her down with one hand and Buffy was completely immobilized, and on her knees; she knew this must be what Faith's prey felt like. She was Faith's prey.

With her other hand, Faith ran her fingers through Buffy's hair. Buffy realized Faith could do anything she wanted to do to her with that free hand, and she wouldn't be able to stop her. She felt her pussy getting wet.

Buffy tried to focus. She let her senses reach out. It was late and there were no sounds but the crickets in the cemetery. The cemetery was one of the newer ones and it was always well-tended; it smelled like fresh-cut grass, and all the tombstones were lined up in perfect rows and there was no litter anywhere and no graffiti. It had become a hot, humid night; it was cloudy and the moon was hiding behind the clouds. It was a big, yellow moon, and Buffy knew where it was hiding because that part of the sky was a little brighter. The air felt thick and heavy and full of energy, like it had been holding something in too long and it was about to burst. Buffy could relate. Her pussy was wet and she wanted to be fucked and it was hard to concentrate. Faith was warm behind her; Buffy felt her body heat. They were both sweating now and Faith's sweat made her scent strong. Buffy remembered what Faith's breasts had tasted like the day they had sex, how they were just a little salty; Faith had been sweating then too. Buffy wanted to taste Faith's breasts again now. She felt her blood pumping through her, and she thought about asking Faith to fuck her. She thought Faith would say yes. But she knew they would both agree with the rules again tomorrow...

Faith gently ran her fingers through Buffy's hair, as she held her down; as she kept her down on her knees.

Buffy tried to focus.

"Yup," Faith said. "One tough fifth degree aikido black belt momma. Anyway, the wrist lock's easy, once I get you down with your arm behind your back I twist your wrist into an unnatural position. And I don't gotta get all fancy, I could do a wrist lock just by grabbing your arm real quick. But as a rule you want it up behind your guy's back so he can't try to grab at you with his other arm."

Faith gently let go of Buffy's wrist, and helped her up.

"Thanks," Buffy said, and rubbed her wrist. "That's a hell of a move. Okay if I practice it with you?"

"Sure," Faith said. "I can show you aikido if you want. I can teach you. I mean I'm not a pro or anything, Becca was only teaching me for about ten months, but I can teach you what I know."

"You sure seem like a pro to me," Buffy said. "With all those flips and throws and stuff I saw you do? You were awesome, baby."

"I think the Slayer in me kinda fills in the blanks a little on my fighting, y'know?" Faith said. "Like, I got a certain amount of training and the Slayer takes it from there."

"You'll train me? You'll show me aikido?"

"Sure, honey. I'd love to. You wanna try a wrist lock out on me now?"

"Yeah but, I don't know how to do all that cool stuff where you like spin me around and stuff."

"I'll come at you slow and guide you through it. Ready?"

"Okay," Buffy said, and got into her fighting stance.

"Okay," Faith said. "I'm gonna come at you slow and throw a right straight out from my shoulder. When I do I want you to bat my arm away at the wrist with the back of your left hand, not hard, just knock it off course. That'll throw off my balance and send my momentum going right past you. As I pass, you spin behind me and grab my left arm by the wrist and yank it up behind my head. At the same time sweep my legs out hard and put me down on my knees. Then you twist the wrist the way I did yours. You got all that?"

"Yeah," Buffy said. "Ready when you are."

"Okay, I'm gonna come at you slow but I'm still comin' at you, I'm still throwin' a punch, this is for real. If you don't do the move right I could end up punching you in the face if I can't pull back. So, uh, apologizing in advance."

"Don't worry. Do it."

Faith came at her. She came at half speed and she threw a leisurely punch. Buffy smacked her fist aside, spun around her, grabbed her other arm at the wrist, swept her legs out from under her and threw her down onto her knees, yanking Faith's left arm up behind her head and twisting her wrist.

"Was that good?" Buffy said, and let Faith go, and helped her up.

"Shit, you're fast," Faith said, and grinned. "Yeah, it was perfect, lover. Wish you didn't let me up so quick though. I was gettin' into it."

"Come at me full speed," Buffy said. "Do it for real, throw a real punch."

"If I come at you for real I could end up hitting you," Faith said. "You're good B, you picked that move up quick, but we should go slow for awhile."

"How's this. Tell me in advance what kind of punch you're gonna throw, okay? But that's it. Make it a real punch and come at me as hard as you can."

"You sure about this, girlfriend? If I hit you..."

"Then I'll bleed for you, lover," Buffy said, with a feral smile.

Faith liked that smile.

"Okay," Faith said. "Apologizin' in advance again. Left jab."

"Do it," Buffy said.

Faith ran at her, at full speed. She didn't telegraph the punch; she kept it under wraps until the last second. It didn't make a damn bit of difference though: Buffy was faster than anyone Faith had ever seen and she slipped the punch and knocked Faith off course and a second later Faith felt her legs give and her arm being yanked behind her back and she was on her knees. Buffy crouched over her, twisting her wrist; it hurt. But Faith liked it. She liked Buffy hurting her.

Buffy crouched behind her, inches away.

"How was that, baby?" Buffy whispered, in Faith's ear.

"Perfect, lover," Faith whispered back.

Buffy ran her fingers through Faith's hair.

She noticed Faith was starting to blush.

She kissed her cheek, and let her up.

"Okay...that was uh, real good," Faith said, smiling, and still blushing. "So maybe I can start training you like on a schedule and next time we--"

"One more," Buffy said. "One more, totally for real. Come at me full speed and don't let me know in advance what kind of punch you're gonna throw."

"But...I might hit you," Faith said. "I don't want to hit you."

"Faith, look, if you're gonna train me you're gonna be landing some punches on me eventually, right?" Buffy said. "You can't show me this stuff unless we start sparring for real eventually, so what's the difference if we do it for real now? I'm gonna have to take a hit sometime. Don't worry, I'm a big girl. Now come on, come at me. I'm tired of the training wheels."

Faith hesitated. She looked down at the ground.

"It's just..." Faith said.

"Faith," Buffy said. "I know you don't want to hurt me. It's okay. If you really want to train me we're gonna have to do this, right?"

"Yeah," Faith said.

"And besides, what makes you think I'm gonna let you land the punch?" Buffy said, and smiled.

Faith grinned. "Okay," she said.

"But don't hold back, Faith. You're promising me we're doing it for real now and I expect you to keep your promise. It's gotta be for real. Don't pull your punch, don't telegraph it, don't come at me slow. Be as sneaky as you'd be if I were a vamp. Really try to surprise me. I want to know I took your best shot."

"Okay. Ready?"


Faith had a plan, when she ran at Buffy: she figured Buffy was expecting something fancy so instead she went with a basic right cross. It was a good, sneaky tactic, so Buffy would be happy that Faith was really trying, but at the same time a right cross was a slower punch that took more time to land and could be anticipated. Buffy was blindingly fast and Faith was hoping her speed would be enough to overcome her inexperience and allow her to block the punch. But the plan didn't work: Buffy wasn't expecting the right cross and when she tried to knock it aside she missed and Faith connected with her face. Faith had never really understood her own strength; she had a right cross that Vikings would have sang songs about and it hit Buffy like a wrecking ball, knocking her off her feet and sending her flying through the air. Buffy collided with a tree ten feet away and fell to the ground like a building imploding.

"Buffy!" Faith shouted, and ran to her and fell to her knees beside her. Buffy looked dazed, and her face was bloody.

"Buffy! BUFFY!" Faith screamed, with tears filling her eyes. She propped Buffy up with shaking hands.

"Whoa...kay..." Buffy said, and held her hand to her lip. It was bleeding. "Didn't know they made mack trucks shaped like pretty Boston girls. Um...ow."

She looked up at Faith, grinning...

Faith was crying, and shaking.

"Hey, hey," Buffy said, and hugged her. "Faith, I'm okay."

Faith wrapped her arms tight around her, and cried.

"Sshhh...baby...I'm okay," Buffy whispered in her ear. "It's just a little bloody lip. I'm okay, baby, I'm okay."

Buffy kissed Faith's cheek, and looked her in the eyes. She wiped Faith's tears away.

"I'm okay," Buffy said.

"You're bleeding," Faith whispered.

"It's just a bloody lip, baby," Buffy said. "Okay? Just a bloody lip."

Faith nodded. Buffy held her.

Eventually, Faith calmed down, and Buffy felt her shaking stop. She smiled, and kissed Faith's cheek again.

"You sure your last name's not Tyson?" Buffy said.

Faith managed to giggle, as Buffy wiped the last of her tears away.

"Nah," Faith said. "Mike's a pantywaist. I'd kick Mike's ass."

"I gotta tell you, Faith, outside of Kakistos, that's the hardest punch I've ever taken," Buffy said. "You're strong, baby. I think you're stronger than me."

Blood ran down Buffy's lip.

Faith kissed her.

She tasted Buffy's blood on her lips, and on her tongue. It was warm, and it had a sweet taste, and it was a little bit salty at the same time.

It was a soft kiss, a gentle kiss. Faith's tongue was warm, as it caressed the inside of Buffy's mouth; as Faith explored it, looking for the wound.

Faith licked Buffy's lips where they bled, and kissed them, and caressed the inside of Buffy's mouth with her tongue. Buffy's tongue was bleeding; the punch had made Buffy's teeth cut into it. Faith felt the blood, warm and thick and sweet on her own tongue. Faith licked Buffy's tongue, and went back to kissing her lips, and then back to licking her tongue again; she kissed and licked Buffy until the blood was gone.

"Uh...guess I broke rule number three," Faith said.

"Fuck rule number three," Buffy said, and took Faith in her arms, and laid her down on the ground, and kissed her

The air was heavy now, electric. The wind began to pick up. There was a storm coming, Buffy and Faith both knew it: they could smell it.

Buffy lay on top of Faith, and looked at her. She was beautiful. Her scent was sweet. Buffy felt the Slayer in her, looking down at Faith with her.

Buffy knew Faith belonged to her. She knew she'd kill anyone who tried to take Faith from her.

"I wanna bleed for you, Buffy," Faith whispered. "Make me bleed."

Buffy took Faith by her long, dark hair, and looped it like a rope around her hand, holding it in her fist, holding Faith in place. She looked at her.

"Make me bleed for you," Faith whispered.

Buffy kissed Faith's neck, on the left side...and slowly, gently, bit into it.

She wasn't biting Faith hard enough for her teeth to break the skin, yet. Not hard enough to really hurt her. But hard enough for Faith to feel it...to know what it meant. Faith gasped, and a little whimper escaped from her lips.

Faith wrapped her legs around Buffy, and Buffy began gently thrusting into her.

Buffy started sucking on Faith's neck, kissing it and taking the skin into her mouth and kneading the skin back and forth between her teeth. She meant to mark her. Faith clutched at Buffy, moaning. She lifted Buffy's skirt, and grabbed Buffy's ass and pulled Buffy into her as Buffy thrusted. Buffy could hear herself snarling, as she marked Faith...marked her for the whole world to see.

She wondered if this was how Angelus had felt, when he bit her.

Buffy took her time, leaving her mark. She made sure to give Faith some pain, as she greedily sucked on her flesh, taking it into her mouth and tasting it on her tongue; the mark should hurt, or it wouldn't mean anything. Buffy was a Slayer and she knew the important things in life came with pain. Faith had a long, graceful, muscular neck, and the muscles bunched and corded now as Buffy bit into it. It was salty with Faith's sweat, and sweet with her scent. Buffy could feel the blood pumping through it, in time to Faith's heartbeat. Slowly, Buffy bit down harder, increasing the pressure...

"Yeah...yeah honey..." Faith whispered.

Buffy allowed her bottom front teeth to break Faith's skin. Not too deep, but enough to draw a little blood. Faith whimpered like a prey animal when Buffy did that; it was a beautiful sound that nearly drove Buffy into a frenzy. But Buffy controlled herself, controlled the Slayer, and sucked on the wound only gently, taking Faith's blood into her mouth, and swallowing it. It tasted sugary. Buffy tenderly caressed Faith's hair now as she took her blood; she didn't want Faith to be scared. She wanted her to know it would be okay.

Faith breathed even faster, and clamped her legs tight around Buffy, and started shaking a little. Buffy realized she was bringing Faith to an orgasm.

Buffy started rubbing Faith between the legs over her jeans as she held her down; she wondered if this was breaking one of their rules. She almost smiled.

"Yeah...yeah...oh God honey yeah..." Faith squealed, breathlessly...

Thunder boomed through the sky, and the storm came...

Faith started making little high pitched squeals every time she exhaled now, and Buffy started rubbing Faith's pussy harder; but Faith's jeans were tight, and it was difficult for Buffy to get her hand exactly where she wanted it, so she unzipped them and slipped her hand inside and started rubbing Faith over her panties instead. Faith's panties were soaked through, and Faith purred the moment Buffy's hand touched them, her whole body shuddering. Buffy found Faith's clit and she focused in on it, stroking it over Faith's panties in a slow, gentle rhythm as she sucked on Faith's neck and kneaded her flesh between her teeth, tasting her blood, and marking her. Buffy wanted Faith to come, when she marked her.

Lightning flashed, and the rain fell, drenching them...

A moment later, Buffy felt Faith's legs trembling around her and Faith came with a little stifled scream as thunder cracked the sky in half and a cold wind tore through the cemetery all around them and lightning flashed again and the rain came down in torrents, and Faith held onto Buffy so hard Buffy thought her bones might break. Faith started to cry, like she had the other times Buffy made her come, but her tears mixed with the rain, and washed away. The rain was cold and the wind made it even colder; it awoke every nerve in their bodies, made every part of them feel alive.

As Faith began to calm down, and her breathing started to return to normal, and her trembling grew less, Buffy stopped sucking and biting Faith's neck, and began licking it instead; licking the wound.

Buffy licked Faith's neck, and inhaled her scent. Faith's breathing became steady again, and she stopped shaking. Buffy licked her wound, until the blood was gone. And when the blood was gone, Buffy smiled down at Faith, and touched her hair.

Somehow, Faith managed to blush despite being pelted by freezing rain. Buffy kissed her cheek.

They lay there together, in each other's arms, on the ground in the cemetery, neither of them moving, and looked into each other's eyes. They lay there together, and let the rain soak them through.

The mark on Faith's neck was big and livid and red. Faith touched it, and smiled.

"Bet it's all big and red," Faith said.

Buffy smiled, and nodded. She took Faith's hand, and kissed it.

Faith closed her eyes, and leaned her head against Buffy's shoulder. Buffy held her, and looked down at her.

Faith had Buffy's mark on her now, and Buffy didn't think Faith really had anything else, besides that. She didn't think Faith was ever going to go back to her guy in Boston. Faith didn't have Rebecca anymore, and Buffy was starting to understand how hard it was for Faith, being without her...how it made every single moment hard for her.

Buffy knew she was all Faith had, now.

"You have me," Buffy said.

Faith nodded.

They kissed, in the rain.

Part 15

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