The Varos Triad
By Rebelgirl

Part 20

Tara had to control her breathing and the turmoil raging in her head. The tall blonde witch took a few moments to centre herself and focus on the task she needed to perform. Once she was confident that she could carry out what had to be done, Tara concentrated on the portal. Its glowing blue iridescence was broken periodically as more demons passed through the rift, passing elongated shadows throughout the graveyard.

The wiccan raised her hands and directed her thoughts on the incantation she needed to recite in order to collapse the portal. It would not be as simple as the first time she collapsed the gateway. A fireball directed at the portal entrance would not collapse the rift as it was now sustained using a spell of her own making. Tara had to drain the energy from the rift so that it could no longer support itself. The only practical way of doing that was to tap into the energy source and then force it to haemorrhage. Tara decided to use her own body as a conduit for the power drain and direct the energy away.

As she was about to perform the ritual, she recalled the events on the other side of the portal when she healed Faith's injuries before collapsing the rift. Could she do the same with Willow? If she could control the collapse of the rift, she might buy enough time to revive Willow. There was even the possibility that Tara could harness the energy she drained from the rift and focus it on Willow, speeding up the process and greatly improving her chances of survival.

Quickly, the tall witch spun round and threw a spell at the blackened body of her lover; her fingers outspread as she directed the energy. As soon as the incantation was complete, she returned her gaze to the opening. Lifting her hands a second time, she cast the spell and felt a strong surge energy flowing through her as she tapped into the power of the portal.

Almost immediately, the rift darkened in hue and it dimmed slightly. Knowing that the portal was collapsing on itself and that it was now just a matter of time before the rift closed completely, Tara switched her attention back to Willow and she ran to where her lover lay. The ground was still hot, but not unbearably so. Tara tentatively reached out a hand but faltered, not wanting to touch the girl while the healing spell she cast was still working.

Belatedly, she realised that she had to hold Willow in order to transfer the power from the rift into her without detection. If they did not share contact, then the energy she directed would manifest itself in a beam of coloured light that would be obvious to everyone around them. Beads of sweat formed on the blonde woman's forehead as she concentrated the energy she was taking from the rift towards the prone witch and then took one of Willow's blackened hands in hers and held onto it tightly as she began the energy transfer.

Tara looked on in amazement as she began to see the effects of the spell. Willow's skin was no longer black or charred, but instead was red raw and covered by large fluid-filled blisters. Despite the improvement of Willow's skin at least, there was still no chest rise or any other sign of movement.

"Come on," Tara begged, her words whispered out as she urged the spell to work faster. "Come on baby, we haven't got much time." She continued to direct the energy at the red-haired witch with one hand while she used the other to run through her hair nervously as she watched. Impatiently, Tara began to drum her fingers nervously on her leg.

She was aware of someone's presence behind her but made no effort to find out whom it was. She caught sight of a strong arm about to wrap round her shoulders supportively, and knew instinctively that if contact were made, energy would dissipate into the other person. "Don't touch me," she called out quickly and she shrugged away from the outstretched limb.

"Sorry," Xander apologised immediately as he retracted his arm. He began to move further away but Tara stopped him, wanting to draw on his strength even as she shared her own strength with her lover.

"No, please stay. Just don't touch me. I need to concentrate," she explained in a rushed voice, not wanting to let Xander know that she was feeding energy to Willow from the portal.

Xander hesitated for a few seconds before settling down beside the blonde woman. He murmured softly at her, not wanting to distract her but desperate to demonstrate his support.

The blonde witch had no idea what the man said, but his manner was comforting and she drew succour from him as she waited for the healing spell to do its work and at the same time allowed more energy to flow through her and then into Willow.

* * *

Faith, Buffy and the others were too busy fighting for their lives to notice what Tara had done. They had no idea that the rift was closing. Their attention was firmly concentrated on the numbers of demons forcing their way into Sunnydale.

Buffy looked round quickly, re-assessing how many demons they were up against and how her fighting partners were coping. Angel and Faith needed barely a glance. The two of them had identical grim looks etched on their faces as they waded into the melee, trading blows with any demon close enough to attack.

Gunn and Wesley looked decidedly uncomfortable with the number of demons they were facing so Buffy decided to even up the odds and closed the distance between herself and the two men. Even as she fought her way over to them, she noticed Cordelia standing someway back from the main fighting arena, calmly reloading her crossbow and taking pot-shots at whichever demon she got in her sights. The blonde slayer noticed with a wry smile how Cordelia resolutely picked off the demons that were near Faith, ensuring that none of them got remotely close to sneaking up on the rogue slayer to launch a surprise assault. Buffy realised that Faith was also aware of the tactic, for all her energies were concentrated on the demons immediately before her, disposing of each enemy quickly and efficiently before rounding on the next.

As soon as she was in range, Buffy launched an attack at the demons beleaguering Wes and Gunn. They were totally unprepared for a rear assault and it took just moments for the older slayer to even the odds for the two men. However it wasn't long before another group of demons emerged from the rift. Gritting her teeth, Buffy set to work again.

Faith kept a constant check on Cordelia while she was fighting. The renegade slayer was determined that no harm would come to the girl who was defending her back so courageously. The Bostonian ensured that every time she engaged an enemy, she would adjust position so that she drew the demon further away from where Cordelia was positioned. Inevitably, that often meant that she would be blocking a potential shot from Cordelia's crossbow, but Faith much preferred that situation than to have the tall Seer in any more danger than was necessary.

She ducked an attack before leg-sweeping the demon that had tried to take her head off. As she stood upright again the slayer glanced back once again to check on Cordelia before elbowing one demon in the face and simultaneously stabbing a second. She surveyed the attackers wearily, the continued fighting beginning to take its toll on her and realised for the first time that there appeared to be no increase in numbers. Perhaps Tara had finally pulled it together and sorted out the problem with the rift. Unfortunately, the brunette had no time to check her theory as she was set upon by more of the enemy.

Cordelia was mildly surprised to reach down for another bolt and find that she had run out of ammunition. The tall Seer had set up a steady rhythm during the fight, shooting the bolt and reloading in an easy fluid movement, all the time concentrating on the battle in front of her. She knew that it was selfish on her part, but the ex- cheerleader couldn't help but focus on what Faith was doing. Every time she got another opportunity to dispose of any of the demons that Faith was fighting, she made the most of it.

Cordelia wasn't totally oblivious to the fate of the others. Whenever Faith got between her crossbow and a demon, the tall brunette would cast her gaze round and try and help the others. She knew that Faith was deliberately drawing the attackers away from where she stood and was touched that the younger girl would plan her fighting to include Cordelia's protection.

Now, however, she could no longer be of assistance unless she decided to enter into a fistfight with the demons. Much as she would be prepared to do that should Faith become incapacitated and in danger, the Seer knew that at the moment, her actions would only create a further distraction for the other fighters and that her skills would not stand up to the onslaught of the demon hoard.

Cordelia surveyed the scene carefully, scanning the fighting groups whilst at the same time looking for another weapon she could make use of. It was then that she realised that the demon hoard had not increased in size. The tall Seer looked at the rift closely and was certain that it had diminished significantly. This meant that there were less demons coming through.

Noticing another pile of crossbow bolts on the other side of the fighting, Cordelia skirted round the battle in order to retrieve them. She was brought up short when a demon spun round and stepped away from the main battle to stand in front of her, grinning manically.

The ex-cheerleader held up her hand in a futile attempt to stop the demon coming any closer. "Now, just hold on a minute. You don't want to come any closer, I have powerful friends," she warned him, swinging the crossbow in front of her like a club. "They won't like it if you hurt me." Cordelia continued to speak, realising that she was babbling but at a loss as to what else to do.

The demon growled at her before moving forward. "What are you going to do, talk me to death?" he taunted before trying to take a swipe at her.

His attack stopped suddenly, his eyes widening in surprise before his legs buckled and he collapsed to the floor.

"No, she's gonna wait for her girlfriend to save her," Faith commented dryly, smiling widely at Cordelia as she withdrew her knife from the back of the dead demon's body.

The taller girl smiled back in relief. "Thanks," she replied simply before realising what Faith had said. "Girlfriend? Are we okay then?" she asked tentatively.

It was Faith's turn to look hesitant. "If it's okay with you, it's okay with me," she told the other brunette. "C," she started, ready to apologise.

Cordelia stopped her. "Faith, duck!"

Without a second thought, the rogue slayer complied and felt a rush of air as a limb swung over her head, missing her by just a fraction. She grinned evilly at Cordelia as she kicked back before spinning round and dispensing with the demon rapidly. The younger girl turned back quickly. "We'll talk later," she promised before turning back to the fray.

Feeling almost euphoric, Cordelia sprung over to where the crossbow bolts lay and took up a shooting stance once again.

The night grew dark around the fighters as the portal collapsed on itself. The light it radiated from it dimmed rapidly and the cemetery became enshrouded in shadow.

The collapse of the rift caused the remaining demons to panic and at the same time spurred on Buffy and the others. With renewed vigour, they picked off their attackers and it was almost an anti-climax when there was no one left to fight. For long moments, Faith, Buffy and the LA gang stood and stared at each other, all gasping for breath.

As one, they turned to look over to where Tara and Xander knelt beside Willow's body. Seeing no movement, Buffy's heart sank but she ran over to the blonde witch's side, kneeling down next to the woman. She studied the red-haired wiccan's body with wide-eyed amazement.

Willow's skin was blemish-free. There was no sign that the young woman had ever been burnt. She looked peaceful. But her skin held a waxy tone and was unnaturally white, far paler than Willow's normal complexion. Buffy knew that her best friend was dead. She couldn't understand how the witch's condition had changed but she suspected that Tara might well have tried to resurrect her lover using magick. It was clear that Tara had failed however.

The older slayer looked carefully at the taller woman kneeling beside Willow. "I'm so sorry, Tara," she whispered softly.

Tara's face was streaked with tears as the girl cried silently. "I know," she replied, her voice barely audible. "I know." The blonde witch felt an icy cold feeling grow from deep within her chest to envelop her whole body.

Her efforts had come to nothing. Delaying the closure of the portal had only succeeded in giving Faith and the others more demons to fight. Her lover was dead and Tara knew that she had never been powerful enough to bring her back; despite the extra strength the other dimension had given her.

The tall wiccan realised that the icy feeling she was experiencing was guilt and extreme grief that she should be alive when Willow was dead because of the fireball Tara had created. Everything was her fault, everyone had suffered, and there was nothing she could do to change things.

* * *

Faith stood back from the scene, a feeling of pure helplessness sweeping over her. She could see the raw emotion on Tara's features and knew that there was nothing she could do that would take the pain away. Along with that knowledge, the renegade slayer was feeling guilty for being powerless to prevent what had happened. The guilt was amplified by fact that Faith had the chance to make things right with Cordelia and perhaps have an opportunity at real happiness. It just didn't seem fair to the Bostonian that Tara should be robbed of her lover. The blonde witch was a good, kind girl who should never have to go through that sort of pain.

Faith could feel herself sinking into a dark depression. She had no right to feel happy when Tara was so distraught. As she was about to succumb to her emotions, she felt a pair of arms snake loosely round her waist and warm breath on her neck as the person behind her spoke.

"There was nothing you could have done Faith. Willow was dead before you came back through the rift."

"Doesn't stop me feeling guilty Cor," Faith murmured back, leaning back into the taller woman's arms. She closed her eyes and basked in the comfort Cordelia offered her.

"I know Faith. I feel guilty too." She tightened her grip round the younger girl and drew her in closer. "Poor Tara," she empathised.

Faith nodded. "She loved her so much," she mused quietly.

Cordelia hugged the shorter girl. "I missed you so much." The Seer's voice cracked with emotion as she admitted her feelings.

"Cor, I'm sorry. Sorry for not trusting you and walking out on you. For not giving you a chance." Faith sighed and she laid her hands over Cordelia's hands and squeezed them gently. "I have difficulties with trust," she revealed softly. "But I do trust you." She paused for a beat. "I trust you," she repeated, clenching Cordelia's hands more tightly.

Cordelia could feel her spirits soaring despite the sadness that surrounded everyone in the cemetery. Her heartbeat quickened rapidly and she allowed her senses to experience every bit of the shorter woman that she could.

Together, the two women watched as Xander lifted Willow's body up and took her to Giles' car. The older watcher, Anya and Buffy, who was holding onto Tara and supporting her, followed him.

"Tara," Faith called out suddenly, her voice raw with emotion.

The blonde wiccan turned and looked at the young slayer, her eyes red- rimmed from her continued crying.

"I'm." Faith began, but stopped, having absolutely no idea what to say to her friend.

Tara nodded her head. She knew that Faith was there for her if she needed her. The brunette had been her protector all the time they were in the other dimension and she would not forget her courage or loyalty. It also gave her a strange satisfaction to see Faith finally in the arms of someone she cared so deeply for. "I know, Faith," she replied softly, knowing that the brunette would be able to hear her.

She turned away without waiting for a response from the young slayer and got into the back of the car, cradling Willow's head on her lap. They would take the auburn-haired witch to Sunnydale General Hospital and answer the awkward questions as best as they could until Willow's parents arrived. Tara had no idea how to deal with them but it would have to be done. Despite knowing that Buffy, Xander and the others would be there to support her, Tara felt despair and hopelessness wash over her. She just didn't know how she would be able to get over this.

Part 21

Faith, Cordelia and the others got out of Angel's car and trooped into the mansion, a heavy air of despondency over them. Willow's death had affected them all deeply and they were all exhausted after the last few days of heavy fighting.

"I'm going to bed," Cordelia announced to the room in general, rubbing her wound absently as it ached after all her exertions.

Faith looked at her worriedly. "Are you okay?" she asked softly.

The tall Seer nodded but looked steadily at the younger girl, silently wishing for her to follow her up the stairs.

Faith looked round at the others and wondered if she looked as exhausted as they all did. She had a sneaking suspicion that she probably looked worse. Taking her cue from Cordelia, she looked at Angel. "I'm beat, dead boy. I'm gonna hit the sack too."

Angel nodded at her, barely hearing the words as he was caught up in his own grief. Willow had changed since he had seen her last but she had not deserved to die. He settled into a chair and used his usual method of coping. He brooded over what had happened and then over all the others he had known die, some at his own hands. It would be a long night but one thing Angel had plenty of, was time. He wasn't getting any older.

Gunn and Wes snapped out of their own private thoughts and concurred that the best thing to do would be to catch up on lost sleep. Though both doubted that sleep would be easy to come by. They passed the girls on the first floor landing and bid them a good night before ascending to the second floor and finding rooms to use.

Faith stepped past Cordelia in order to go to her own room but was stopped by a gentle hand on her bicep. "Faith, would you." Cordelia hesitated and blushed before forcing herself to continue. "Would you sleep with me? I've just got you back. I want to keep you close," she explained hurriedly as Faith stared at her in surprise.

"Cordy," Faith returned, placing her own hand over the top of the Seer's. "I'm exhausted. I don't think I could do much more than kiss you, and much as I want us to be together I think that we should take a bit of time to maybe plan something first. I'd kinda like it all to be." She stopped as Cordelia placed the forefinger of her free hand over her lips.

"Since when did you babble?" she asked rhetorically. "I didn't mean sleep together, *sleep* together. I just want to hold you and not let go," she told the shorter woman, blushing again as she vocalised her feelings. "I've missed you and so much horrible stuff has happened. I just want to be close to you." She felt Faith's lips pull into a smile and removed her finger, smiling back. "Besides, I never sleep with anyone without at least going out on a date with them," she told her primly.

Faith laughed. "So I've gotta take you out on a date?" she asked. "I'd love to. Maybe when we get back to LA?" she suggested tentatively.

Cordelia nodded approvingly and the slayer let out a breath she didn't realise that she'd been holding. "Now that we've cleared that up, of course I'll share your bed with you," she phrased her words carefully. "Let me just get something to wear." The Bostonian frowned suddenly. "Did you pack me anything to wear in bed?"

Cordelia's smile widened. "It took me some time, but eventually I found some shorts and an old t-shirt. It's probably the closest you'll ever get to nightwear," she replied.

"Probably," admitted Faith. "I just don't like wearing it," she groused. She stepped back from the taller girl. "I won't be long," she promised and then disappeared into her room.

Cordelia hurried into her own room and changed quickly into a pair of rich purple silk pyjamas. She folded her clothes away and then used the bathroom, scrubbing her teeth quickly but thoroughly. As she exited, she saw the brunette slayer pad down the hallway, toothbrush in hand. "Hey," she greeted.

Faith wrapped her arms round the older girl loosely and planted a quick kiss on her lips. "Mmmm, minty toothpaste. Let me clean mine and then I'll be in," she vowed.

The Seer nodded and swallowed, suddenly nervous. "Are you okay about this? I don't want to put any pressure on you."

Faith kissed her again briefly. "Cordelia, I *know* you're hot, but I can control myself." She got the smirk she was looking for and released the taller girl from her grip. Quickly, the brunette stepped into the bathroom and finished getting ready for bed.

Despite Cordelia's open invitation, Faith still found herself knocking on the bedroom door. She grinned as she heard the Seer give permission to enter and she opened the door slowly. When she walked through the door she saw that Cordelia was already in bed, but had sat up to wait for Faith to enter.

For a moment, Faith was unsure as to whether she could keep her promise to the older girl and keep her hands off her. Cordelia looked stunning and alluring and totally sexy as she waited for her to get into bed.

Hesitantly, Faith approached the bed and waited again, not used to sharing a bed with anyone other than for the purposes of getting laid.

Cordelia elegantly flipped the covers back and patted the free space in the bed. "Get your ass in here Faith," she told the younger girl. "Before all the heat escapes."

The rogue slayer ran a hand through her hair and then did as she was told, turning to wrap the tall ex-cheerleader in her arms as Cordy pulled the covers back over them. "You okay?" she whispered softly.

"I am now," Cordelia replied, equally as softly before lowering her lips onto the younger girl's. They kissed gently for a few moments, Faith running her hands up and down the silk-clad back of her lover slowly as Cordelia gently rested her hand on the slayer's shoulder. The kiss deepened though neither of the girls could tell who it was that triggered the change. Cordelia let out a gasp as she moved her hand round to pull Faith in closer and as she did, she rolled on top of her, exploring Faith's mouth deeply and revelling in Faith's attention.

Faith pulled Cordelia onto her body tightly, enjoying the press of her breasts against her own. She parted her legs slightly to accommodate the taller girl and groaned as she felt the Seer's thigh press into the apex of her legs. Wanting to reciprocate the pleasure, she raised her leg slightly and applied pressure to the woman lying on top of her. The rogue slayer's fingers played with the hem of Cordelia's pyjama top and then she moved them underneath the material, feeling the soft, hot skin of her lover's back for the first time and she took her time in exploring the smooth contours.

Faith heard Cordelia moan into her mouth, even as she felt the kiss deepen again. She knew, dimly that if she didn't stop, she would take this exploration far further than she intended or had promised and reluctantly she pulled her lips away from the embrace, her breath ragged as she tried to calm her raging emotions.

For a moment, Cordelia was unfazed and merely turned her attention to Faith's jaw line and earlobe before nuzzling down the girl's neck, licking and gently biting the fevered skin with relish and passion. She sucked at Faith's pulse point more vigorously and it was only when she felt herself being pushed away did she realise that things had changed.

She looked into the impossibly dark eyes of the girl lying under her and frowned in confusion. "Have I done something wrong?" she asked, her voice husky with emotion.

"No, you've done everything right, that's the problem," Faith groaned. She rolled the pair of them over so that they lay side by side. "If we go on like this, I won't be able to stop," she breathed, planting a chaste kiss on the Seer's pouting lips. "And I promised you a date, remember?"

Cordelia nodded and breathed out heavily, trying to push down her burgeoning arousal before returning a soft kiss. "Thank you," she murmured sincerely before burying her head into the shoulder of the younger woman, realising that she could quite happily have let Faith ravish her forever at that moment. By stopping, Faith had proven once again to the tall Seer that she really cared about her and certainly not just about herself. Once more, Cordelia felt privileged that it was she who was the focus of Faith's attention and perhaps even love, though she dared not mention that word in case she scared the younger girl away. All too often, she had heard Faith dismiss love as just another way to hurt someone. The ex-cheerleader knew that she would have to play that hand very carefully indeed before she could reveal her true feelings toward the Bostonian. Even as the thoughts manifested themselves in her mind, Cordelia buried herself further into Faith's embrace. Her heart lurched as she realised that she had fallen for the slayer in a big way and as she calmed her rapidly beating heart, she hoped fervently that one day, the pair of them would be comfortable enough to admit their feelings openly to one another without fear of misunderstanding.

Faith responded to Cordelia's embrace, hugging her tightly for a moment before settling down and watching the taller girl relax in her grip. Cordelia succumbed to sleep more quickly than Faith thought she would and she felt her own eyes grow heavy-lidded as she basked in the warmth the other girl emitted. Faith allowed her eyes to close and drifted off into a dreamless sleep.

* * *

Faith sensed bright sunshine through her closed eyelids as she slowly became aware of her surroundings. She could feel the warmth of the sun on her face and a pair of arms surrounding her. She smiled without opening her eyes. Somehow, during the night she must have turned over and Cordelia had spooned herself behind her. The brunette slayer gloried in the sensation of the taller woman behind her and sighed contentedly as she felt the Seer squeeze her before moving her hands in small circles over her abdomen.

Instantly, her body became aroused and she felt her body push back into the grasp of the taller girl. Her smile widened as she felt Cordelia's feather-light touch wander over her taut stomach and play with the hem of her shirt.

Without warning, Cordelia dipped her fingers underneath the material and stroke gentle patterns on Faith's now heated skin. Faith's breath hitched in her throat but she felt paralysed by Cordelia's ministrations and allowed the ex-cheerleader to continue the mapping of her body. Her breathing suffered again as she felt soft lips brush over the back of her neck and begin to nibble and lick at her skin but once again her body moved of its own will and pressed further into Cordelia's embrace.

Faith could feel her arousal soaking her thighs and she pressed her legs together in frustration as Cordelia continued to run her fingers all over her abdomen, rising to brush just the underside of Faith's breasts before drifting lower again.

Faith moaned at the all too-brief contact and then her brain finally kicked into gear. "Cor, you're gonna have to stop," she murmured, amazed that she was stopping the Seer for a second time.

"Mmmm, don't want to," Cordelia mumbled back, nipping her neck more eagerly.

Faith allowed herself to relish the sensations Cordelia was inflicting all over her body for a few more moments and then dropped her shoulder and spun round in the bed, coming nose-to-nose with the taller girl. "I mean it, Cor," she whispered huskily. "If you carry on, I won't be able to stop myself."

Cordelia stared into Faith's deep brown eyes for a long moment before raising a hand to brush her cheek. "I don't want you to stop," she replied hoarsely.

Faith's eyes widened at Cordelia's words. Still she hesitated. "What about your date?" she asked.

Cordelia smiled widely. "I changed my mind," she told her rakishly before closing the distance between their lips and kissing the younger girl forcefully.

For a moment, Faith hesitated but as Cordelia's words registered, Faith stopped holding back and the two women increased the urgency of their actions, hands and fingers touching and exploring each other as they revelled in their intimacy.

Once again, it was Cordelia who took the dominant position, rolling the two of them over to lie on top of Faith without breaking contact with Faith's lips.

Surprising herself, Faith allowed Cordelia to take the lead, and enjoyed the attention the taller girl lavished upon her. She extended her neck as the Seer began to pay attention to it, turning her head to one side to give the girl greater access and shivered as Cordelia grazed the sensitive part just behind her ear.

Sensing Faith's increased arousal spurred Cordelia on and she lowered her hands to find the hem of Faith's shirt so that she could remove the layer that prevented her from getting to Faith's skin.

The rogue slayer happily assisted by lifting her shoulders up as the item was peeled off her and then she pushed her head back into the pillows as she felt Cordelia's hot mouth begin a blistering assault on the top of her chest, moving slowly lower, even as one hand drifted up to cup a firm breast. Her nipples were already hard but they stiffened again as the tall girl paid particular attention to them, twisting and lightly pinching one with her thumb and forefinger as she nipped and suckled on the other, her ministrations reddening the area.

Faith gasped as bolts of pure pleasure rocketed from her breasts to the sensitive nerve bundle at the apex of her legs and she wondered how long she would be able to hold out before she begged Cordelia to touch her intimately.

Cordelia appeared to sense her need however and the hand that had been content to gently stroke the slayer's side wandered steadily southwards till they met the waistband of Faith's shorts. Without pausing, Cordelia pushed her fingers underneath the clothing and brushed her hand over the damp curls that lay beneath. Gently, she moved her fingers lower and groaned as she felt how aroused Faith was. Slowly, she coated her fingers, allowing them to explore the outer folds carefully as she moved her mouth back up to meet Faith's lips.

As she kissed the brunette, she thrust two fingers inside her, plundering her mouth deeply as she pushed her fingers further inside the warm pulsating flesh. The tall Seer drew a thigh up to add pressure to her hand and then set up a steady rhythm, thrusting deeper and deeper as she continued her assault on the slayer.

Faith was lost in the sensations. She could feel her walls clenching round the slender fingers of the woman lying on top of her and at the same time revelled at the deep kiss Cordelia was subjecting her to. She was on total sensory overload and loving every second of it. She could feel her breath getting more ragged by the second and her body twitched as her hips rose to meet Cordelia's rhythm. She knew she couldn't hold out much longer but didn't care. She had never been lost in the sensation like this before. It was blowing her mind and she just didn't want it to stop. As her body got higher, Faith tore her lips away from the Seer and squeezed her eyes shut, arching into her touch and breathing in short, sharp pants.

Cordelia could feel that Faith was close and gloried in the power she had over the girl. She was totally aroused by the sight of Faith so close to the edge, her hair damp with sweat and rocking to her touch. She had never seen anything so beautiful or felt as connected to another person.

She moved her thumb to apply pressure to Faith's nerve bundle and within a few short strokes, was rewarded with the sight of seeing Faith arch spasmodically as her orgasm washed through her. Even more amazing was hearing her own name wrenched from the renegade slayer's throat as she came, repeated again twice more in a whisper as Faith began to calm down.

"God, you're beautiful," Cordelia whispered as she stroked damp curls away from Faith's forehead.

The Bostonian's eyes fluttered open and she forced herself to focus on her lover. "Cor, that was." she hesitated, totally at a loss for words. "It was amazing, C." She smiled and cupped the Seer's cheek before brushing her thumb over the older girl's lips. "You're amazing," she corrected herself, a shy smile on her face as she looked at Cordelia intimately.

"So are you," Cordelia replied easily before dropping a brief kiss on the other girl's lips.

Faith took the opportunity to deepen the kiss and flipped Cordelia over easily. "You're wearing far too many clothes," she complained good-naturedly before setting to work divesting the Seer of her clothing and, to Cordelia's repeated delight, getting to know her body *thoroughly*.

* * *

Faith grumbled as she felt cool air flow over her body. "What time is it?" she muttered, barely understandable.

"It's gone midday," Cordelia answered as she picked up a towel and wrapped herself up in it. "I'm taking a shower and then I have to go shopping," she explained as the slayer rolled over to watch her lover.

"Shopping? We're going back to LA today. Can't it wait?" Faith realised with horror that her voice had turned into a whine by the end of her question.

The tall Seer closed the distance between her and Faith quickly and planted a chaste kiss on swollen lips. "No, it can't. There's something that I must buy now. But you don't have to come with me. Just stay here and sleep. I won't be long."

"You won't be shopping long?" repeated Faith incredulously. "Can I have that in writing?"

Cordelia laughed. "Don't worry. I made a shopping list that I promise to stick to. No browsing, honest." She turned and opened the bedroom door, glancing over her shoulder as she left the room. "I'll save the browsing for when *we* go shopping in LA." The tall Seer chuckled as she heard Faith groan and flop back onto the bed.

Moments later, the tall ex-cheerleader stood under the shower and ran her hands through her hair to slick it back. She took a few moments to allow the water to soak her thoroughly before she began to wash herself.

She was vaguely aware of a cool rush of air as the bathroom door opened and smiled as she felt a strong pair of arms wrap round her. "You here to do my back?" she asked as she continued to soap her front.

"Hmmm," Faith nuzzled the taller girl's neck. "I'm certainly here to do you. Your back will probably get cleaned as a side-effect," she murmured, running her hands over the lower part of the Seer's abdomen before dipping one hand into the junction of Cordelia's legs, delighting in finding a rich creamy moisture present that had nothing to do with the shower.

It took the two girls a long time to complete their ablutions but eventually they managed to summon enough self-control to get dressed.

"I'm gonna go and visit Tara," Faith told her lover as they descended the stairs of the mansion together.

"Are you sure that's wise? I don't think she's going to be up for much company," Cordelia demurred. She was secretly more concerned over the potential reception Faith would receive from Buffy and the others. The Seer had no such doubts over Tara's reaction but she held no jealousy over the relationship the blonde witch had with Faith. It was good for the renegade slayer to have friends as well as a girlfriend.

"I know, but I have to see her. Just to tell her, well, you know." Faith struggled to express her emotions over what had happened.

Cordelia helped her out by placing a quick peck on the lips. "I know," she replied, rubbing her hands up and down the smaller girl's strong biceps. "I'll see you later," she promised before turning and exiting the mansion.

* * *

The visit to Tara was less painful than Faith thought it would be. Buffy and the others allowed her to enter and gave her space and privacy to speak with the bereaved wiccan. Once again, Faith struggled inarticulately to express her feelings over what had happened but Tara seemed to understand and stopped the slayer mid- flow with a tight hug. The brunette hesitated just a fraction before returning the grip but as she held the taller woman, Faith realised that she had found a true friend in the shy, introverted witch. What made it more important was that, though outwardly the two appeared to have very little in common, they shared a common bond of loss and insecurity. And both of them had trusted each other instinctively, without waiting for proof of worthiness.

Willow's family had already set many arrangements and Faith vowed that she would return with the others to pay her last respects at Willow's funeral. She also extended an open invitation for Tara to visit her in LA, that the older girl accepted gratefully.

By the time Faith returned to the mansion, Gunn and Wesley were already loading the car with their luggage. The brunette jogged up to them quickly. "You all set to go? I haven't even packed yet."

"Don't sweat it," Gunn replied easily. "Cordelia's already got your stuff together. Most of it's already loaded."

"Cordelia's back already?" Faith rocked back on her heels in surprise. "Jeez, she must have stuck to the list," she muttered to herself.

"She's gone upstairs to get changed," Wesley added as he put another bag in the trunk of the car.

Faith squinted up at the darkening sky. "Won't be long before sundown," she commented. "Angel ready for the off?" The rogue slayer had not spoken to the brooding vampire since the fight and she knew that he would have a lot on his mind.

Wesley seemed to read her thoughts. "He'll be alright Faith. Like the rest of us, he just needs a bit of time to get over what happened." He looked at the brunette sharply. "And I need to know what happened to you over in the other dimension." His expression softened as Faith pulled her face into a grimace. "But that can wait till we get back."

The three friends walked into the mansion together and found Angel pacing in the hallway.

"All ready?" he asked quietly.

"Yep. Five more minutes and it will be dark enough for you to go," Gunn told him.

Angel glanced round. "Where's Cordelia?"

"Getting changed apparently. She said she'd be down any minute," Wesley supplied. The young Englishman glanced at his watch. "That was about twenty minutes ago," he added dryly.

"Cordelia, are you ready?" Uncharacteristically, Angel raised his voice and shouted up the stairs.

"Coming," Cordelia yelled back, though there was no indication that the Seer was going to leave her room any time soon. Faith bit back a snigger at her lover's choice of words and kept her eyes cast firmly on the floor so that she wouldn't catch any of the others eyes.

The click of a lock caused the brunette to look up and she gasped in astonishment, feeling her mouth dry suddenly and her pulse accelerate to an alarming rate.

Cordelia Chase carefully stepped down the stairs. She was encased in a skin-tight set of motorbike leathers. The suit matched Faith's own suit but for the fact that, if anything, it was an even tighter fit. In her left hand, she held a black motorcycle helmet. Her feet were shod in a pair of above-the-knee stiletto black boots. She smiled at all her admirers, knowing that she had got the reaction she wanted. "I'll be riding back with Faith. Once she's changed into her leathers, that is," she told them, smiling lasciviously at the younger girl.

"Er.okay then.we'll er.set off in a minute then," Angel stumbled over his words as he tugged his collar. It had suddenly constricted round his throat. Cordelia was just grateful that it was the vampire that had chosen to answer her and not Wesley. If he had started she would still have been standing round waiting for him to finish stammering well into the following week.

"What a fox," Gunn breathed, his eyes widening as he realised that he had vocalised his thoughts.

Faith gently slapped him on the cheek. "Yeah," she breathed. "But she's my fox, okay?" Without waiting for an answer, Faith started up the stairs, shivering as she brushed past her leather-clad lover. "I won't be long," she promised the taller girl.

"I doubt that," Cordelia replied, equally as softly. "Is this stuff easier to get on if you wear clothes underneath?" she asked conspiratorially.

Faith groaned as the meaning of the Seer's words sunk in. "Keep telling me things like that and we'll never leave for LA," she told her.

Cordelia arched her eyebrows coyly. "But imagine how hot I'll be by the time we get home," she suggested, her grin widening as Faith groaned again.

The brunette all but pushed her lover down the remaining few stairs. "Wait by the bike," she instructed, struggling to keep her voice under control. "I'll be right there."


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