And Then There Was Us
by Alexandra J. Campbell aka FuffyChick45
Rating: NC-17

Disclaimer: Joss is god. All the following characters belong to him mutant Enemy.. exc. exc. exc.
Author's Notes: Haven't written in awhile...hope you enjoy. It's set Post Chosen...starts right where the ep left off...Oh and.. of importance: THOUGHTS ARE IN---> (.......)
Extras: My girl Sarah made the WPs to go with the five chaps I'll see those as soon as I get to posting the rest....


TEASER--Moooving Ever Onword

"Yeah, you're not the one and only Chosen anymore," (Never fucking was in the first place) She thought bitterly "Just gotta live like a person," (Can she?) "How does that feel" (You tell me.) She stood behind Buffy as if she was the only one who was, painfully unaware how ill-at-ease the last couple days of 'togetherness' had made her, just waiting for the rest of them to drop off like flies out of site so she finally had the guts to speak.

"Spose we should patch you up yeah?" She touched the other girls shoulder lightly to rouse her from the reverie that threatened to make them both lifeless. Buffy's skin jumped. There was an odd comfort in the touch, but annoyance all the same, as the older of the two wondered why she offered to begin with.

"Of all people," she jabbed playfully without turning around, "I thought you might wanna find the knife and finish it off."

"Bygones are bygones B." The brunette quarked, wearing a wry smile in response.

They remained still looking off into the horizon above the gapping ravene that was now Sunnydale, but continued to revel in the banter that became ominious between the two of them like today was any other they'd ever experienced. No time. No distance. No problems. Finding the humour in the post-apocolyptic confusion.

"Guess we gotta find new jobs." Buffy said dryly, making movement back to the bus.

"I heard fast-foods the way to go" Faith countered filing in herself, unable to swallow the smirk hearing her counterpart mutter 'shut up' under her breath. (Her hat had a cow.) One last glance to the hellmouth was thrown before boarding...(but I wonder what the hell she had.)

And so it begins...

CHAPTER 1 - All Aboard

Author's Notes: Check out the WP my girl made to go along with the chap.

Seeing as how all the seats were taken they sat side by side, silently, in the back. Buffy's eyes closed drifting off immediately to the sounds of Will chastizing Ken for public displays of affection regardless of whether or not the other girls were fast asleep within seconds. Faith, begrudged and longing for the window seat, plopped down beside Buffy waiting for motion sickness to creep in as Giles re-started the bus toward L.A.

Watching Buffy's breathing like a hawk, the wound so reminiscent of her own, the rogue shivered. The gash leaks ever so often making a crimson trail down the blonde's jeans. Exhausted from the fight, but unable to sleep, Faith's eyes finally glazed over, allowing themselves the luxury to do so, unknown to the fact Dawn had made her way back to check up on her sister.

"Faith.. are you ok?" She asked in loo of the pained expression on the other Slayer's face, keeping vigil.

Cool and composed she flinched, shaking off the worry, "Five by five D....tired is all."

If Dawn knew any better she'd notice that the girl alongside her sister wasn't ok, that she'd been psychologically scarred, emotionally beaten not by the battle, but by a single moment within it... Part of her still back there...


"Hold the line."

There's shock. Abbreviated silence. They stare at each other. Faith nods and grabs the scythe whipping around with a speed and force she's always possessed, but never unleashed completely, only toward her fellow fallen Slayer, staking every adversary with a skilled fury and possessed grace. A controled anger seeped through every pore. Rage she's always felt boiled beneath the surface at the unprecidence of her comrad in arms falling before her.


After everything that's happened between the two of them Buffy, through one act, had symbolically passed on her trust. As the scythe shimmered, the light bounced off red steel, and blood of the same color flowed from the blond's stomach, flashbacks of their past battles between each other and enemies alike, shot through Faith's being along with the energy that only the two shared.

Sitting there now the scene was set on replay in the rogue's head as she dimmly hears the faint sounds of Dawn's voice reminding her that "everything will be ok" and more importantly, that her sister would be, before meakly returning to her seat in the front. Selfish or no, that's all that seemed to matter to Faith as her eyelids caved to the wake of exhaustion, easing their way into slumber by the beat of the bus ride.

By the time the bus halted day turned into night, a ring of red- orange barely rimmed the bottom of the horizon line. The squeak of the seat awoke Faith melded solid to the shoulder of whom, for some reason or the other, she'd always consider her superior.

"I was wondering when..."

Faith's eyes opened completely realizing her position. She jolted with a start. Buffy frowned slightly, but a soft smile adorned her face as she finished...

"You'd wake up."

"Oh... B....hey."

"Hiiiii" Buffy couldn't help looking even more amused by how dishoveled and alarmed her once predessesor looked, but oddly hurt all the same by the reaction.

"I didn't mean to.."

"Drool all over my shoulder." The elder of the two shrugged indifferently.

There was a fast, faint flicker of danger in her eyes disguising the awkwardness, a voice rising slightly in turn.

"I do *not* drool."

At this point Buffy didn't know whether to laugh or blow her off completely, but finding the brunette's defensive pout almost comical she just continued to verbally prod.

"No, you just get a bad case of bed-head."

Faith's brow crinkled, her cheeks went semi-flush, and she melted a bit in a pool of embarassment finally realizing what the other was doing, she broke into a wry subtle smile.

"Long Day, still got some fight in me I guess."

"Yyyyeah.. I noticed." The blond responded softly making her way off the bus into the a dead parking lot of a cheap, run-down, yet affordable motel adding flatly.

"Didn't have to get so twitchy, if you failed to notice I used your shoulder too."

The Future is now...

CHAPTER 2: Star Wars and Carpet Gone Wrong


Giles checked the clock. By the time the entire group filed in it was 8 pm.They were only half way to L.A. and he decided it was best to give the group a well-earned rest from the days earlier events. Behind the counter the weary clerk took note of the number of individuals, counting, confused by the make-up by the misfit band, cuts and bruises painting their skin, all 20 of them, scoobies included. He knew all too well there was only ten room and that they'd occupy the entire hotel, it was unsurprisingly vacant due to quality, but he refrained from asking explanations, after-all it was all about money.

"Ah yes we.." Before Giles even finished the guy behind the desk dropped all of his keys down in front of him with a belittling smirk. Each of the potentials grabbing one greedily, asking questions later, while the smart ones were already paired off. Faith grabbed the last key and threw it in her pocket just getting back from the restrooms. Her gaze wandered the room when Giles spotted her.

"Faith, a word?" Giles voice was grave, questioning.

"Sure Giles, what's up and where's..."

"Robin." Faith's eyes fell. Her voice wavered. Clearing her throat and chuckling nervously, she assumed the worse.

"How'd ya guess."

"Faith he.... not long before we arrived he requested, adamitly rather, for us to drop him off at a passing hospital."

Her eyes went hard.

"Yeah?" Her arms crossed curtly in front of her as if she was protecting herself from the rest.

" .. and to give you this." Giles held out an envelope with 'Faith' enscribed in neat, black cursive.

Giles had grown sympathetic to Faith in the past week. The leadership, the battle, her sincerity about change, part of him knowing what it had been like to have been 'dark' at somepoint or another. His eyes went apologetic. Knowing there was nothing he could say or do he simply nodded in condolence and started walking away...

"Hey G?"


"Thanks." He nodded once more, offered her a small smile, and went to go straighten out the rooms.

Buffy approached Faith wondering what their interaction had been about, but knowing on account of the crestfallen look in her counterpart's eyes.

"You ok?"

"Yyyeah. I just... you knew?"

"Yeah" Buffy spoke softly.

"You didn't..." Faith started and tampered off rolling her eyes at herself. (What could she have done. What would she want to.)

"He left before I woke up too... not like I could have stopped him...with the exception of poking at the hole in his chest." It earned Buffy a smile.

"Yyyeah. Anyways. I'm cool. You know me, five by five..."

"Said the brave little toaster."

Faith shook her head. "You kidding, it's nothing.. nothing like." She sighed. Buffy understood.

"He died for us."

"Least you didn't" Faith lost her breath for a moment with just the thought of it, suddenly being attracted to the ground of the god- awful mexican motif or mistakenly bad 70's acid trip that was the orange-ish brown blossoming flowers on the carpet, but Buffy quipped trying to lighten the mood, subconciously ignoring the concern in the other girl's gaze.

Buffy fawned confusion. "What, what if I *wanted* my consecutive death pin?" They both smirked til Faith rolled her eyes a bit defeated, but for all the right reasons, ignoring the buzz of the bad lighting of the not-so-aptly, or oddly apt La Siesta Motel.

"Spose we should go help tweed-man with the little chicks."

"They're not just little chicks, they're little chicks with super- powers."

"Yyyeah. Too be honest, I thought we were the only hot ones myself." Remembering what she said the days before the battle, bantering as they walked back to the cluster.


"Alright each potential needs to grab a partner." Giles yelled above the din, already had given his key to Dawn who'd gone to bed early.

"Got mine." Kennedy piped up in a flirtatious voice rapping and arm around Willow smuggly.

"Yeah yeah Ken.. we know.. carpet-munching and all" Faith added. Giles glasses fogged up instantly at her indiscretion. Xander's eyes bugged out of his head. Willow simply glared.

"Um. Tact?" Buffy arched an eyebrow. (She's changed, but not much...maybe just enough.) There was comfort in that.

"Left it behind bars B." She grinned despite herself, showing a glimpse of the old her.

"Already done." Rona confirmed. A welcome distraction. Giles was slightly amazed by it, how cohesive they all were, but he didn't know if it was the bond of the battle or something else entirely.

"Got mine." Andrew chirped. Xander rolled his eyes, reflexes threatening to swat him in the back of the head with the hand that wasn't injured. His free eye now twitching involuntarily.

"Yes. They'll probably be continuing that *deep* discussion on Star- Wars." She winked Faith's way.

"Kennedy!" Will chastized shoving her toward their room.

"Guess that leaves..." Buffy finally put it together. Faith flashed the key indifferently.

"B and Me."

...sleeping time, and showers, should never be mixed with bare asses.

CHAPTER 3: Dirty Laundry and Lay-ins


"That's great. Glad to see all of you have your rooms sussed out, but if you don't mind me asking, how you plan on *paying* for it?" Asked the clerk throwing a suspecious bushy-brow from behind the counter, all the while boring a hole into Faith's body.

Ew. He has quite the Balthazar sized waist-line. Buffy thought, not being able to help, but notice the path his eyes took.

"I know exactly how to pay for it..." Faith strutted up to the counter in only the way she could, meeting the pian's oogling eyes, now turning anxious. He ran a hand through his greasy hair expectantly.

"That's great, but I don't think..." Buffy was interrupted. Faith unzipped her back pocket, reached in with a smirk, and threw down a wade of cold-hard cash onto the scratched-to-hell desk.

"There's a thousand there easy, maybe two, but you can count it if you'd like." She batted her eyeslashes in a malicious fashion, gritted her teeth, and rung the service bell with a 'ting' for effect in victory. That oughta shut your god-damned mouth.

There was a slew of 'what's' and 'hows' coming from the rest of the group like they just saw god. After a moment of being completely dumb-founded Buffy stuttered for an explanation. Faith couldn't help, but relish it just a bit, maybe a lil too much. She jabbed playfully.

"You're thinking what...soul-boy came to just see you? B, who do you think told him you were at the cemetery in the first place. He dropped by and hooked us up, he's loaded....Plenty more where that came from."

The blond's arms folded in the typical wanna-beat-some-ass stance, strangely reminiscent of when Faith got back to town. Jaw dead-pan. Xander noticed it and took a page out of Willow's book nudging Andrew back to their room as well. Each potential looked from one to another and took it as a cue to follow. Giles looked between the two and whiped down his glasses nervously. Will they ever learn. He sighed and left himself.

Fuck. Why is it always after something comes out of my god-damned mouth. Faith noticed Buffy's suddel yet deprived look, having more grip on the soft hurt and emotions than she had on her own. Her smile faded slow in hopes that Buffy wouldn't notice, so they wouldn't have to exchange the mental 'I told you so', that they always seemed to, walking back to the room in silence. Buffy didn't stick around long enough for the apologetic look and Faith didn't know if it was because she was oblivious or just didn't want to see it, she instead walked a step ahead, arms still crossed over her chest.

Faith took out the key with a tired look in her eyes. Somber, finally noticing the number of the room. Three. Figures. Just like her old room back in Sunny D, in a run-down motel that might as well have been the same; same scenary in a different place. And I thought it changed, but it has... It was mere coincidence and she just rolled with the punch instead of acknowledge that small shot of pain that shot through, pushing open the door gently as if she was holding back. Holding it back from hitting the wall, holding back from hitting it herself because every ounce of reminder, but she couldn't help, but laugh at the site when it all came into view.

First scene out the corridor was a beer-can pyramid in front of a mirror, that was on top of the platform holding a decent sized, but dusty television. The carpet had the same meager stylings of the one in the reception room, a room lined with the same hideous faded red petals. There was a microwave in the first left hand corner, settled on top of a mini fridge, directly across from the bathroom in the right one, behind the door, that both had missed completely because of the light bouncing off the tin cans. And in the middle of the room back on the left side, in front of the window, beside a nightstand and alarm clock, facing the television...a single bed; a dishoveled, turned-out, unorganized and unlawful, as Faith could ever be, single bed.

"No way I'm staying in this room."

"Heyyy.. beggers can't be choosers B." She shrugged with a smug smile stifling the composure not to run in....and simply went over and placed herself on it like it was the most natural thing in the world, knowing she probably would have rushed if she had the energy. She grabbed the remote in one hand and tossed her arms behind her head, starting to flick through compulsively.

"Ew. What are you doing? You don't know where those sheets have been..."

"And frankly I don't care. I'm exhausted."

"Do you have any idea how unsanitary that is?"

"Alright. Lemme re-emphasize. I. Don't. Care." There was a dirty chuckle at the end of it.

She really doesn't. Not like she ever has.

"God that's disgusting...I'm going back down to the lobby to see if we can get another room."

"Shoot yourself."

"Maybe one with two beds" Buffy smirked defiantly with a nod.

"Ok then. You do that." Faith couldn't help, but smirk back at her now. It was her turn to laugh at the audible huff that she heard all the way from her position in the room to the doorway, but as usual, when the blond was out of sight, the victory became a defeat and she sighed herself following her. First turning off the t.v., throwing the remote to the side watching it bounce off the bed and land with a 'thud' on the floor, cringing as it did so, then standing in the doorway looking down the hall and hearing the echo of Ken and Will going at it a couple doors down, finally following completely.

"Helllooo.. ." Buffy talked to the empty room. The main lights shut-down, but the buzzing not subsided, drawn to the tiny light at the service counter, making her own lil 'ting' hitting the bell.

"Nobody's there B."

Nobody's right.

"Well haven't we become Ms. Observant?" Buffy was on the edge of spatting.

"Just saying." Faith replied in a neutral drawl leaning up against the counter now herself, daring enough to continue, "So why don't we just..."

Buffy sighed. She was was just being ornary, stubborn, probably too much for her own good. Her weight shifted to the other side and as it did so she winced at the throb just above her gut, and just below her ribs. Her wound was all dried up. Her shirt stuck to it, no doubt with the dirt and grime from the battle.

"Yeah. I guess I could do with a shower" Buffy said flatly and turned back around as if nothing happened leaving Faith spun, even mildly confused.

Instead of going immediately back to the room Faith walked through surveying the scene. All ten rooms were alligned side by side by side. The other wall holding doors to the pool lounge, laundrette, the maid's closet, and the ice machine, but she was headed straight for the vending area at the end of the hall for those tiny packets of aspirin and to pick up a few bottles of cherry coke with the jingle of change in her pocket making the only sound, the witch's and potential's heavy sex romp having thankfully subsided. A green exit sign blurred her vision. What a night.

By the time she got back to the room she heard the soft spray of the shower, swearing she could feel the steam from the otherside. I could use a shower too, but I doubt they'll be any hot water left. Not that it matters. Staying productive she threw one last admiring glance to the beer cans and plopped them into the garbage bag she swiped from the linen area. Taking out the sheets from the same place, she removed the filthy blankets, tossed them aside, making up the bed neatly. Least I learned something in prison.

Her eyes fell to the bed. With the bed completely made up she lifted it easily and placed it on the floor, moving the bed frame all the way up against the window. There was another set of bedding she brought for the following days, but now she changed her mind. I can't do it. She made up the rock hard frame without a second thought, grabbed one of the pillows, and curled up in fetal postion facing away from the room towards the window. It's not Mrs. S's bed..not Buffy's..not whoever's, but it'll do.

Buffy looked in the mirror. So tired. So warn. God my age is really starting to show. But it wasn't her age, she was only 22. It was her restlessness, misdirection. She once had a purpose and after the peak of that purpose it disappeared all over again. Initial shock of the battle aside what Faith had said was starting to seep in. You just have to live like a person. She thought she always had. It was never a matter of normality and under the circumstances she's been the typical girl. Typical. Is anything ever? Then the question proposed slid does that feel? She responded, unsurprisingly, the exact same way.. you tell me.

Then the big picture shrank back down all over again and was converted back to more shallow, pressing matters. One bed. It brung whole new meaning to sleeping with the enemy, but Faith wasn't that anymore. They weren't friends, but they weren't enemies, and in essence it felt familiar. Comforting. There wasn't any doubt in her mind that Faith wouldn't slit her throat as she was sleeping, only an odd aprehension she couldn't seem to place in it. What's the big deal, it's only temporary.

With only a towel around her tiny frame she opened the door to find Faith asleep, the bed taken apart, and the room in seemingly better condition.

"Faith" she whispered.

The groggy slayer only responded by turning towards Buffy in her sleep. Long brown tusseled hair masking a light frown and the shadows covering her defined cheekbones. Buffy couldn't help, but notice the tremble in the other girl's lips, the cut along the intricate red lining, the gash and swell hidden beneath her hairline to match. She caught herself smiling at the site wearily at the younger girl still doused in dust, in the battle, and in the memories of it. She tapped her on the shoulder and tried again.


"Whaaaa" the brunette murmured.

"Faith. Go and take a shower."

"Who are you my mother." Her eyes finally opened with a playfulness.

"Nooo. You're just not sleeping in the same bed if.."

"Who said I was anyhow?" She distracted herself by stuffing the pillow underneath her and attempting to close her eyes again.

"Alright. Whatever. But you're still taking a shower....I'm not rooming with someone who stinks."

Faith groaned and complied. No argument there.

Faith stood in the mirror shedding her clothing, surveying the damage. Toned and sleek her eyes followed the curve of her sides down to her scar. She ran her finger across it and thought of Buffy's. Still need to patch that up. There was instant relief when she stepped beneath the falling water, not just the temperature...Huh. Saved me some after all....but to feel cleansed the first time in days. The scent of cheap shampoo ran and bubbled down her hair, across her face, eyes closed tight to the sting...leaving a trail down the opposite side dropping past her shoulders, along her spine, a groan omitted as she turned the dial up a notch to feel it scolding her. Should have been a cold one ...

Ten minutes she reamerged. Unruly hair falling about her shoulders, droplets making a beeline to her clevage. Buffy turned toward her slightly taken aback when her voice roused her from what she was doing..

"What are you..." Faith just stood there. Everything was rearranged back to the position she moved it away from, the matress settled onto the bed.

"What does it look like."

"B you don't have to...I've had worse."

"We're sharing. Get over it. Don't act like you're two."

"Aren't we demanding."

"Could say that." She smiled a lil bit. Faith returned it.

"Kay' B, but I gotta warn ya... I ain't sleeping in my clothes. They're going in the wash."

"But... you" Buffy frowned in thought.

"What's the matter Ms. Hygeine?" Faith mocked her from earlier with a lil glint in your eye.

"Nothing. No big. That's actually a good idea, besides.. it's just for tonight and in the morning.."

"Exactly. But in the meantime, you'll be happy to know, I do need them on because we ain't going to bed yet.."

"You're not watching t.v. all night."

"No. I'm not. I'm getting dressed. Going on the bus. And getting one of the first aid kits so I can patch your ass up.."

"Faith you don't have to..."

"Your fault. Ain't mine.. if you wouldn't have woke me up I would have been just fine, but you're not.. you're wincing every two seconds."

Buffy couldn't deny it. She's been soldiering through all day, limping along, but no one seemed to notice. Why would she. Without waiting for an answer Faith went back into the bathroom, got dressed, tossed Buffy an aspirin pack and left hastily before they started to argue.

"Be right back" she mummbled.

Upon her return Buffy attempted to argue all over again, but Faith interjected.

"You're getting patched. Get over it. Don't act like you're two." Mocking her even more. Score one for the less stubborn bitch. I think we're just about even. Buffy bite her lip and sighed begrudgingly lifting her shirt up and over her head before Faith even asked, putting her hair up in a single black pony-tail holder, the sole posession she had left besides the scythe Faith had brought in and laid up against the fridge.

Faith's breath caught. Her eyes diverting themselves from the rest of her, as much as possible as Buffy looked away awkwardly one direction to the other, occasionally past her, to the clock on the bedside as they sat besides each other on the bed. 10pm. And I thought yesterday was the longest day....ever. She started staring so hard at the red numbers it seemed she was in even more pain. A mind all their own Faith's hands couldn't help, but dot the places above the slash along her ribcage with antiseptic as well, just below the trimming of the other girl's white bra. The cotton getting thinner and thinner the wetter it got between her fingertips til she put it aside and let her thumb run along it. Buffy hissed softly.

"That a bit better?" There was a concern in her voice that hadn't ever been there. She remembered her own wound wanting to forget completely who had made it, but the scar was still there. Still visible and it always would be. Least I got it from the front...not the back...though it felt like it.

"Yyyeah. I's deep."

"I noticed." I know.

There was suddenly quiet. Silent understanding. And in the truth of the moment, they'd actually met each others eyes for longer than the typical ten seconds,looking at upon the other with gratitude. Remorse. Neither said sorry, but neither had to. Faith's tank was torn. Frayed. Buffy's eyes lingered down, at some point or the other, and saw the exact same scar she'd have when all was said and done. Faith dropped her gaze herself and took the tape between her teeth, ripping two pieces off to make an X over the white patch she placed on Buffy's skin.

"Alright...I...lay on your stomach..I gotta get the other side" she said weakly.

"Oh... ok." Numb, Buffy did as she was asked. Faith hovered over, having walked to the otherside of the bed and crawled up to lay on one arm, dressing the wound with the other. The stream of Faith's finger causing Buffy to involuntarily shiver now as it traces the splice of skin. Buffy's eyes closed. Her whole body tensed and released underneath the touch, every touch, til the brunette repeated the actions of dressing the front and slid the shirt back down over her gently.

"Done." Her voice was soft. Distant, but a mutual rush kicked in not long after. Buffy got off the bed and Faith quickly got back in, stripping, grabbing the clothes in one hand and rapping herself back up in the towel in the other. Grabbing the other pile of clothes left on the floor as Buffy had done the same.

"Got the key?" Buffy smirked from underneath the duvet.

"Course. I'm not a complete moron." Faith smirked back...breaking the room gone mute as she shut the door.

By the time that Faith returned, Buffy was asleep, next to the nightstand, but not facing it, and hogging the covers. Worse for wear. Faith walked around to the window snuck into the bed allowing the towel to fall by the wayside. She stole my side. I can't even see the clock. She was doing everything in her power to face away, to sleep the same direction, but her body wouldn't let itself. She was restless. Sleeping on her back was also impossible, and the problem with facing Buffy was her counterparts breath blowing in her face at regular intervals. God this blows. Faith, however, knew the real reasons she couldn't get to sleep all too well.

Moonlight streamed through the window and fell past her onto the other girl's face, hair still pulled back in a tight bun. Quit looking at her. You wouldn't have a shot in hell. The blankets weren't even that thick and she was sweating, she shoved the covers aside some and pulled the sheet against her tight, jaw clenching, rapped back up in fetal position and now forcing herself to face the window. After countless hours of looking up at the tiny green dot of the firealarm...on and off....Faith eventually fell fast-asleep.

Then next morning there was a knock at the door. Foreign talking from behind it...the asian maid barged in uninvited mummbling something to herself as she exited back out hastily. Buffy was only half awake with the sheet draped around her, woken up by the knock. Peeking out the tiny hole she heard the muttering and wondered what all the fuss was about, until, that is, she turned back towards the bed. Faith, now on her stomach, was sprawled out, the covers only occupying half of her body leaving lil to the imagination to her upper thigh and ass. Buffy swallowed the lump in her throat and ignored how her body went hot. Won't happen.

..Waiting, longing, ever world changing...

CHAPTER 4: Recovery Time


Buffy was stuck there, catching a glimpse at the other girls's physique as if it was the most natural thing in the world, trying to tell herself it was like a train-wreck in the way she couldn't avoid staring, that is until she heard the muffled voice from beneath the sheets..trying to keep the one around her own body steady.

"Wha the.." The brunette had rolled over now. Tangled and disorderly the covers she thrown away the night before rolled with her, stuck snug by the heat of her body to the same position clinging to only half of her luxurious frame, exposing her supple left breast. Her dark red nipple instantly errect from the exposure to the air. Her site just coming into focus. She lifted her fingers to her lashes and started removing the sleep from her eyes, peeking at Buffy the spaces between them.

"The maid. She thought we were out and wanted to clean the room." Buffy's eyes finally met hers, a sharp intake of breath by the fact she was finally distracted by something besides Faith's body. Her voice.

Faith sat up completely now pulling the covers to her body as if she didn't notice Buffy noticing. Can't blame her for having eyes, but did she like it?

Shaking her head Buffy grabbed the clean, yet torn, clothes beside the bed and went to the bathroom to get changed.

Faith grabbed her own clothes and did the same the minute Buffy was outta sight. Throwing her shirt on up and over her head in one fluid motion and sliding her jeans on, the buckle making noise as she did so. I think she liked it. Faith couldn't help, but smirk at the thought.

That alone makes me want a cigarette. Throwing on her jacket, the only thing that wasn't washed, she dug in her pocket for them and walked past the bathroom, light breaking through cracks in the hinges catching her eyes. Lil peek won't hurt. She was stealthy, sliding one into her mouth as if the taste before it was lit could be the thing to satisfy. It's a lot like that. All the while letting her tongue stroke around the paper on its own accord, sucking down the site. Buffy stood in front of the mirror, as far as Faith knew, completely oblivious to her hungry praying eyes. Not like I haven't seen it before. She started to remember the things she did in her body, did to herself. Did to her. It was all the same afterall.

Would it be so different... doing it to hers. The thought was too much, but so was Buffy's bra craddling her breasts instead of her hands. Her pants sliding up her frame instead of Faith's legs. Buffy's hands gliding through her own hair and throwing a bun in it the way Faith wanted to drop it down her shoulders. Faith sighed with a rasp walking out into the hallway.

She walked around to the back of the motel considering her desire to start to want to chain smoke, prolonging it, til she remembered the letter in the other coat pocket. Robin. Taking one last drag and then crushing it beneath her heel she leaned up against the brick and read.

Dear Faith,

It's the night before the big battle, but I thought that I'd take sometime to 'put the pal in principal' and write you this so it doesn't get awkward later. This was that surprise I was refering to. You may not know it, but despite everything you've done you're a great girl. You're something I or any man in the right mind would crave for, but I'm not sticking around to be second best anymore than I feel Spike should.

Remember when we met? When I said you worried about her... I meant you were really....worried. The truth is Faith, whether you want to acknowledge it or not, she is the first, last, and only thing you ever seem to think about, but what you may not know while doing everything in your power to push her away with all the bad that you did, is that it's mutual. When she talked about you she was bitter. Bitter in the way she was Riley. Bitter in the way she was Angel, but even more so because she trusted you the most. With all this said...I hope you find your way Faith and I hope she finds hers.

Highest Regards,

Robin Wood

P.S. I'm still prettier than you.

Faith couldn't help, but grin and shake her head at the post script. That over-educated son-of-a-bitch. She reached for another ciggerette and lit it up, wry smile now plastering her face, her eyes squinting at the sunlight, a frown beneath it all. Not in confusion maybe so much as relief. So someone finally noticed.

Buffy walked the halls with an aprehensive smile, watching the potentials running a muck while eating. Her shoulders sagged, but rapped around her body forcfully shielding it from some un-known offender from the outside, running up and down her arms as if her hands in all their aimlessness peeled back layers against her will. She scratched the surface of her memory and kept digging at the itch.

'They're good girls, just green is all.'

There was bits and pieces of laughter in the air, shock fallen to realization. Vindications of remorse to those of victory and accomplishment. For a slayer near death experience creates a buzz with-standing past the logic of mortality, but she's died, repeatedly, and it was faint now, although precious, running through her veins.

'Tell me you don't get off on this'....

It wove webs in her head. I wish I still did...yet... wish I didn't. There was this motor in her mind that constantly had to re-grip the reality that she was the walking talking oxy-moron, the saintly hypocrite. It took time after time for her to recall the two times that the force, that sweet force of death, was felt the most. Without the most dire of circumstances, without some regret of Me and my puns.

'I maybe dead, but I'm still pretty.'

Would it be a lapse of reason to assume that in the wake of it she hadn't just felt Kendra being called, but the potential right after.

'I hate it when they drown me..'

But did she really? Her body's longed for that same rebirth. Another make-shift Baptism. Where those tidal-waves of torment were washed away and she was cleansed of at least half the burden.

'B gotta go.'

And she followed. And now as it crumbled around her.

'Buffy come on.'

...could she again? There it was, as ominous as ever, the reminder of their connection. How it would take a syncronized slash in her stomach to dismiss the hate of the one she put in her counterpart...she in fact, loved. How it took Faith's inflicted near death years ago to trigger Buffy rotting away lil by lil, year by year. The ascending of the rest of the potentials, although freeing on the outside, trapped her within, consuming every ounce of her sanity. Now there was no running from it, now there was no escape. What was the point in sensing all when she was only aware of one.

"Buffy?" The red-head looked upon her friend worriedly.

"Will... hey.." Buffy shook her head, ridding herself of the thousand yard stare.

"Rough night?" Willow flashed a sympathetic smile.

More like rough morning.

"Still a lil sleepy I guess." She smiled wryly and continued, "You...Ken?"

"Hmmm. Battle beaten, but nothing my slayer can't handle." Willow grinned saucily, blushing at the innuendo. Buffy caught it.

"Good to see the slayer strengths advantage for someone." Shit.

The witch looked confused trying to read the implication. There was something new about her friend she couldn't put her finger on, but despite the postion she caught her in, Buffy's aura beamed brighter. She couldn't help, but to stare. She was fresh. She was new, but her best friend was oblivious as to why. Contrary to the past few years the visual atmosphere surrounding her body was always tainted, dark. Her own personal light shown through it, yes, but now the edges of the orb lining her frame were translucent in color. The last time she saw it was...Early Senior year. And then it occured to her looking back, despite her selfishness and inability to believe it from the past, she remembered when it dimmed... when Faith went evil.

"Well. I'm just gonna..." Willow passed her with an impish smile and made her way to her and Kennedy's room.

"Yeah. I'll see you for a scooby meeting in a few" ...She knows.

Willow throws her one last look. I do.


Faith was still outside, the chain smoking process now under-way with a vengeance. One or two puffs and it was onto the next like they were nothing. The time was more composed of watching each one burn down to her fingers and letting ashes drop to the pavement in the same casually dispensable way everybody in their mother fell out of her bed. Out of her mind. Out of her life. That is until I met her. After three years in prison thinking about this it still wore on her mind, but it was fate. Destiny. It was all the words she swore she never heard of or wanted to hear of again after meeting her, but the fact remained, solid and hammer-hitting as ever. I love her.

Maybe she loved her too much. When she hated her...what she does to me...what I revert was easy to play 'what if' about her arrival in Sunnydale, but she'd stopped playing after that night on the roof in L.A. All she wanted was forgiveness, whether or not she'd admitted it or deserved it, she would have done anything for it. All lock-down did was confirm what she thought beforehand, but was far too angry to say, far too empty to feel...I wouldn't be me without Sunny D, and I wouldn't be whole... without her. To think she used to be so rough around the edges. Not much pride here, but I still ain't her bitch. She smirked at that. Yeah. I get the better of her. So much so she was frothing at my hot ass....She sighed frustrated. But again, who the hell hasn't?

She shook her head and dismissed any inner-hope Buffy was thinking about her, but kept thinking about Buffy. One way or the other she was always thinking about Buffy, for better, or for worse. Faith beat herself into submission for it, convinced Buffy would do it for her...only literally. There was only one thing in this world she couldn't turn away from. Couldn't cut guilt over, hurting her, but it was more than just that. I couldn't admit it. It seemed she took a drag for every regret she had along the way, one of them a bit longer than the others.

When those words slipped out of her mouth...


....That expectant turn played on rewind in her mind in all its technicolor glory. The black dress covered by the white pull-over, that clashed horribly with the pink bruise Faith placed on her face the day before, representing perfectly the layers to her being. Darkness inside or no, she wore it as loose as the cream coat surrounding her shoulders. With grace. With dignity. With more confidence than I ever had though she thought different... She's beautiful.

Faith swallowed the lump in her throat....hard. Breathing deep through the smoke in her lungs trying to smother her...One of if not the most definitive moments in their entire relationship minus that slash in her stomach...she felt the words twist there...



The instant the door had shut that day she felt her. She felt Buffy. She felt her waiting to be chased. She felt her disappointment. She felt her concern, but Faith remained still. Scared and seeping into the sheets.

It's not nothing anymore.

The heat is ON.... the heat is ON ON....

CHAPTER 5: Two Walls Thin, Two Hands Short


I should have died. It repeated in his head. I don't deserve to be here. Andrew was in the pool-hall discussing the finer points of the comic Elektra with Xander, trying to go without mentioning the appearance of Dare-Devil, frivilous thoughts interrupting his apathy. If he would have got his other eye poked out...Then he remembered that the man before him had lost so much more than that. There wasn't an explanation on how he felt, he couldn't explain it to himself let alone to somebody else, but he would have done anything at that moment for Anya to be here, just to see Xander smile the way he used to, no matter what his own fate was. A hard break from the pool table echoed through the room. He muffled, jerks, out of the corner of his mouth as if Rona and Vi were really disturbing him that much, regardless of whether or not they could kick his ass. They didn't seem to hear it, far too rapped up in their own games and discussion to bother....

Ever so often Xander would throw a glance to the other pool-side to Dawn, a group of potentials gathered round her listening to past slays, their feet dipped in the water, passing around a pizza box and finishing lunch, still coming up hungry. And fate said she wasn't one of them. He sucked in a breath of chlorine, shotty lighting bounced off the water and into his eye. Fate. The one word that made him think about Anya, then about Spike, for Buffy's sake. He'd become just as occustumed to his presence as he'd ever been to Angel's, if anything, more accustomed. Then again when I saved Sunnydale, I guess it was obvious anyone could. It was symbolic of the humanity that existed inside each and everyone of them. But I guess that comes with being round Buff.

"So...about Buffy, do you think she knows?" ...Vi corked an eyebrow Rona's way, at the pool-table, the closest thing to the door. She rolled her eyes and ignored Xander and Andrew still in the couch in the corner re-gushing about the original Godzilla, slowly, but surely turning into a conversation of the other works of Matthew Brodrick. Rona did the same when the new Slayer hearing picked up, "Ferris was my favorite movie." Sad thing was she didn't know which one of them said it. The geek-speak started to blend.

"Do they ever shut up," she shook her head at them and thought about the question at hand while concentrating on lining up her shot, "Don't know...she's pretty thick at times." Rona clinked the the cue-ball to the 8, hard. It cracked sharp causing Vi to step back from the table, falling into the corner pocket with a soft click.

"Seriously. Even after that night."

Buffy walked down the halls headed to the outside to let Faith know about the meeting, passing the lounge as she went. Her ears perked hearing Rona speak.

"I know. Faith was pissing herself without her."

Without who?

Then came the when. The where. The how. The blond's curiosity went up-hill from there. She hide in the doorway, looming far too much for her own good.

"As gutsy as Faith is you'd think Buffy would have known back then." Vi countered.

"Not the brightest crayon in the box. No doubt." Rona finished. They tossed the pool sticks down and went to join the others round the water at the other end of the room.

Buffy frowned and walked to the exit.


The scoobs were congregated in Willow and Kennedy's room.

"I don't think I quite understand." Giles tried not to.

"Short and sweet, Angel's working with the black-hats." Kennedy re-worded like she had a bad taste in her mouth.

"No baby," she gave her a disapproving look and continued, "Fred said that..." The rest of it fell on Kennedy's deaf ears. Fred said. Willow had called Wolfram and Hart this afternoon after Faith gave her the number just to let them know they were all ok, to wire some more cash, but all the young potential could do was become un-nerved by the L.A. brain's name. She spoke up.

"Yeah. They're in the belly of the beast, what's the difference?" It was a flippant remark saved by Dawny and Xander's entry into the room.

"What did I miss?" Kennedy broke into a smile at the younger Summers' arrival. Nothing wrong with some eyecandy to distract me.

"Nothing. Actually. We're just waiting for Buffy to retrieve Faith." Aloof, Giles cleaned his glasses separating himself from the tension, happy it diminished when they'd walked in. Meanwhile Kennedy's stomach did an extra flip at the mention of the Rogue's name. Must be a Slayer thing.

"Cool, the potentials are keeping themselves busy with Cherad's."

"Or at least Andrew's trying to get them to." Dawn added with a playful smile.

The door suddenly opened again to reveal Buffy and Faith volleying dialogue over the new 'toy'...

"You're really power trippin' over that, aren't you?"

"Wha, I still get the buzz" Buffy grinnned almost uncharacteristically until, that is, she saw the somber looks of everyone else in the room staring at them.

"Woah. We interrupt a funeral?" Faith asked.

"No. We just....have concerns. About Angel." Giles said pointedly, looking from her to Buffy and back again semi-disapprovingly for their delayed arrival.

"Such as?" Buffy corked an eyebrow and Faith frowned knowing immediately what would happen if Buffy knew the full extent of Angel's opperations. She'll hate me for not telling her. And then Faith thought about the irony of it. Funny that, Buffy used to hate me for telling her too much.

Her heart was racing, banging at her chest, double-time. She was losing air by the second. If she could have just found one lousy moment last night to tell her. Tell her everything. But that was the problem, how? Far be it for Buffy to believe 'the love of her life' is working inside the belly of beast trying to fight the evil from the inside in a place that's as notorious as The First for cranking it out. To Buffy it would be just another ploy to drive a wedge between her and Angel. For her to mistrust him. For Faith to get his heads-up for having the ability to be from the grey-space Buffy doesn't want to admit existed, but so much has changed. She's changed. I have.

Willow looked if she was going to say something, but far too busy holding a mental dagger to Ken to not spew it out the way she did everything else, with total nonchalance for the delegacy at hand. All eyes seemed to be directed at Faith. She looked around the room trying to avoid them like the boil of the sun not a billion lightyears away, but inches, and aimed straight at the crease in her forehead. Mouth gone dry for all the wrong reasons, she swallowed, licked her lips, and finally met Buffy's eyes stepping up to the plate. God...

"B. There's something going down with Angel. I didn't wanna tell you. I don't know...maybe I was protecting you..." She bite her lip and tried to figure out how to word this.

"PROTECTING me?!" Buffy fumed.

"Yyyeah. Angel's working on the inside of WolfRam and Hart. Trying to fix things from the inside out."

"When have you *ever* protected me. You selfish," Buffy stopped and smothered a growl, her lip trembling. She composed herself long enough to realize that everybody's gaze lay on her now and continued. "Everybody out. I need to talk to Faith for a minute." Her eyes followed them as they exited, as if they haven't already made a bee-line for the door. It was hard for Willow to put a read on anything flowing from her body, but pure and utter rage. Wave after wave of distain, discontent, and unbriddle anger.

Faith looked at her. Gaze unwavering. All too familiar, just another replay of last-time, but it doesn't gotta be. There was silence.


"Shut up. I don't wanna hear it. I don't want to hear any of it."

Something finally snapped inside of Faith. Something that's been working its way under her skin slow, but sure for years in regards to Buffy in more recently before she even set back foot in Sunnydale. What Wes said to her hunting down Angelus. What Angelus had said to her about death. She shuddered with the truth of it. All of the old was still inside and bubbled to the surface with every word Buffy punctuated her way.

'Just tell me how to make it better.'

She devised there was no other way to do so. Standing her ground she threw daggers back, only on her level if she was gonna let herself be. No more nutered puppydog pout. No more redemption-whipped silence. If there was only one thing Buffy understood it was someone who fought back, who would keep fighting back.

"Well tough shit because SOMEONE has to fucking tell you!"

"And you're the person for the job? Hmm. Let's back-track shall we. You've murdered a man. Fucked just about all my friends, cept' Willow, which hey wouldn't be surprised at this point and took everything from me, that about sum it up. TELL me Faith. Tell me."

Faith laughed manically. Buffy was inches from her face spewing the past as if it happened just yesterday to make herself feel better about how many times she, herself, has screwed up since.

"Get over it Princess. I DID my time. You're still just strung up you're supposed to be six-feet under and your un-dead boy-toy beat you to the ..."

There was a harsh-loud slap of skin on skin. The air itself swung back with the power behind the blow. Faith's face whipped down, facing away from Buffy and staring at the ground regaining eye focus. Vision caught in a cluster of the auburn floor. Her pupils dilated. Her fists clenched until they were white lil balls, the snug of her bones compact and held within skin, crawling and buzzing with the adrenaline rush.

"Just like old times huh..."

Faith's voice was low, dangerous, but still with a tinge of vulnerability, a soft plea before a primal scream, and as Buffy stomped passed her Faith grabbed her wrist, digging her nail into the the vein to feel the blood pump beneath the fingertips. The voice added insistantly...

"Except this time," her right hand reaches up and slams the door with enough force to crack the frame holding it, eyes boring into Buffy from the side. With lightening speed she grabs Buffy's side and tosses her back into the room. Her own hand finally breaking air right back, connecting to Buffy's jaw-line... "I'm hitting back."

Faith's body defends the door then barrels into a flurry of punches and kicks, each one being met by Buffy's forearms in a stiff blocking stance, before she can even think to take the offensive. Muscles go sore from the throb, limp with the backlash of being beaten, but there is no pain. Not here. Not now.

It started off just like any other fight between them. It could have been when Angel came back from hell, it could have been Buffy trying to kill her for trying to kill him, it could have been in the middle of UC Sunnydale campus, a crowd of innocent people, no such animal at Buffy's house, or in the church during the days they switched bodies, after Faith awoke from her eight month coma, but the deeper Faith fell into the rhythm the less familiar it all felt, until she pin-pointed Buffy's initial reluctance to hit her back again. It was that one time at the docks. The day after she killed Finch. The night that started it all. She grinned predatorily with the realization.

Cornering Buffy into the opposite wall Faith's digits wrapped around her jugular. Buffy's jaw screwed-shut, holding back whatever words threatened to fall from behind her lips, glaring at Faith. Faith answered the challenge with a verbal assault, looking her up and down lavishly.

"I see you're still my girl though."

Faith said it with possession, with authority, with a conviction she's been denied and has been denying herself since the moment she met her only broken by that day, suddenly re-released, but Buffy didn't waver. Buffy didn't pale like she had that night four years prior. She instead lunged at her, her foot sweeping her onto the ground.

Buffy hovered over her frame enraged, breath ragged, balled fists decking Faith in the face repeatedly, but her body falling flush against hers all the same. It was you. It was YOU. The ex-rogue's body bucked beneath her's trying to break free. Disoriented she barely heard the words over the race of her heart-beat..

"And you're still a loser."

Faith's eyes widened. Her body rolled her over on auto-pilot into a quick straddle. Her hands pinning hers into the carpet as if it was astroturf, begging for her to bleed just a bit, squeezing her body between her thighs.

"But I'm still yours."

Faith closed the distance driving their lips together, rolling Buffy's hands between her own and the carpet, giving her rug-burns that would last for weeks, slayer healing be damned, but not last half as long as the kissed seemed to. Faith groaned involuntarily at the first taste of Buffy's mouth and only wanted more when the blond bite her lip and threw her off.

"Get out of the way you egotistical bitch." Buffy's face was beat red, flush from the fight or otherwise.

"Like hell I am," Faith locked the door behind her and continued. "You're not running from this."

"Watch me."

Buffy lunged at her stomach once more and threw an uppercut leaving Faith off balance. Faith dragged her down by the shirt as she fell. The tare from the big battle before finally shredding in half, the pieces falling flimsily to the floor. Faith broke her fall. Buffy's breasts were jammed into her counterparts from the top, feeling her through the thin white lace and the fabric of Faith's shirt. The brunette's fingers spliced into Buffy's spine, holding her there. The harsh affection was only rivaled by the years of building it. Buffy shivered as Faith's right hand slithered up passed the long strands of hair she untangled from their prison, throwing the black scrunchy away, and digging into her scalp, pulling her down into another heated kiss. Her tongue pried Buffy's lips stifling the moan of her other hand sliding off the shoulder strap of her bra in slow, smooth contrast to their tongues fighting for the upperhand, pinning each other to the gumline.

The Chosen one's hands squeezed at the mounds of skin beneath Faith's shirt, a moan omitted by the onslaught until she ripped the barrier away completely and cupped them. Cramming their entirity within the force of her hand until Faith was whimpering and perking up into her palms, straining beneath the thread to be released. When they finally pulled away for air Faith sucked Buffy's lower lip to retaliate then threw her off abruptly. Her head spun, but not a seconds passed before Buffy's body was pushed into the matress, Faith atop it. Without a moment to lose dismissing both their bras, digging her knee into Buffy's crotch and kissing down her body. Her lips surrounded her nipple, first finding suction then tugging with her teeth both in viciousness and worship.

Buffy clutching into Faith's back turned to clawing. Her head tipped back absorbing Faith's minestrations, the saliva swelling her up. Faith was breathing hotly against her skin, making it rise beneath her mouth. It was just a touch, be it a very intimate touch, but her senses were about to explode. She was seething. She was slick. As a slayer her patience would have grown thin and she would have taken what she wanted by now....Want. Take. Have....but her toes were curling at the equality. She'd never felt this before. Never felt anyone that could make her shudder with just the length of their body pressed against her. Never felt the thrill of losing. Of the free-fall. Of slipping into the sheets before having even good reason to.

Faith kissed back up her body and melded their mouths back together roughly. Grinding her breasts against Buffy's chest, fleshing kissing flesh as her hands smoothed out her sides, sinking in to her ribs. Her mouth potraying how much she'd love to eat her alive and store the rest of Buffy inside like she already felt she was, while her hands, although felt, kept steady, a slow sensuality to all their trespasses. Tongue off-tempo to her fingers finally filing downward and resting at her waist. The kiss kept on, their mouths unsevered by the urgency of the moment. Buffy felt it inside. Buffy felt Faith's fear as much as her own, she always has, and gave her shoulders a squeeze as a sign to continue. The words 'don't stop' or even 'stop' both being lodged too far down her throat to care by the gentle scrape of Faith's kiss.

The path of Faith's hands from her waist to the front seemed like an eternity. The gentle zip of the fly being run down was far too familiar, but not. Buffy was awash in the tangle of their tongues and was unsure whose breath rushed out when Faith's finger slid past her panties and in between her lips. Moisture coated the digit as she stroked her in small circles seemingly in perfect time to Buffy's hands as they sped across her skin, rubbing the dark slayer's back. Residual kissing kept on, staining and restraining the taste of ones mouth with the other, Buffy's inflamed clit falling prey to Faith's finger pinning it down.

It was at this point Faith reluctantly broke away and looked down with lust-lidded eyes, Buffy below teetering on the touch. Her eyes closed, beads of sweat trickling down her brow. Faith just stared at her afraid to ask herself if Buffy even noticed the separation or if she wanted to get off too much to even care, but the truth was Buffy was so lost in it she just assumed she was still there, until she heard her voice whispering in her ear softly...

"Is it still me in your mind."

Buffy's eyes fluttered open to meet her's at that. Hissing still at the contact, it far harsh to her brain to process anything, but managing a response by the sincerity in Faith's gaze. Buffy wanted to seem lost, wanted to seem scared, wanted to crawl back inside herself like she's always done, but all she could do is postpone telling the truth. It wasn't Buffy the slayer who answered, it was Buffy the woman. All pout, all princess, primped out with innocent intentions and whacked out promises of the 'proper' fairytale gone wrong. It was just above a whisper...just between a moan..

"What do you want from me?"

Faith took a deep breath and swallowed down those 3 words she's never said to anyone, except for just a random fuck. Her finger twirled, caught-up in her skin as a second joined its side, slowly slipping downword and inside her. The one sank in, solid and snug being pulled deeper and deeper by the truth and a thrust or two...

"Whatever you wanna give."

She mummbles it against her mouth kissing her gently and swallowing down the moan coming from Buffy as the second finger joined its place inside and curved up to her G spot.

'It feels like.. like it's mine....I guess that means it's yours.'

Temptation brings out truth, anger makes it, that lil more clear...

CHAPTER 6: To Tempt in Contempt


"Giles, shouldn't we?" Xander spoke up, then drifted.

The self-proclaimed 'Devil's Advocate' far to aware of what occured the last-time both Faith and Buffy had gone missing for any great length of time. They were all back in his room now discussing the possibilities that Angel and evil were bedfellows yet again, but the Chosen Two were on his mind....

Dawn was anxious. Ever so often she got up and walked out of the room and lingered in the doorway as if she'd even attempt to treck the rest of the distance down the hallway, knowing, almost by instinct, it was better not to.

There was strain between Kennedy and Willow. Within a matter of an hour the entire vibe shifted from that of love and support, to sarcasm and jealousy. Willow sensed it in the air. There was a counter-balance to it all somewhere close, somewhere nearby. It was so close it could be tasted, but so far it couldn't be touched, like it was beyond the realm of even her comprehension.


Back in the pool-lounge Vi and Rona were on about their tenth game of pool, sheepishly looking at each other out from under the pool q every now and again, re-energized with their share of the pizza. Andrew, having gave up on forcing the girls play Cherad's, and losing his pool-side playmate, had taken off his shoes himself and allowed them to hang off the side into the water, sipping from a straw on the tiny box of milk he aquired from a vending machine, chatting to the girls like second nature.

"You really think she doesn't know?" Vi smirked.

The conversation went full-circle, within the course of their marathon, having already talked about everything and nothing, once, twice, or even three times over. Rona's concentration was broke with the mention of it, the stick slightly digging into the table and scraping the green felt from the wood, because she was wondering the same herself, only from Vi.

"Naw. I doubt it. I bet she's oblivious." There was a smile small even when she accidently nudged her opponents solid into the corner pocket.

"Scratch." Vi gave her a a triumphant look as she grabbed the white ball and placed it into the 'kitchen.'

"Wasn't really paying attention I guess."

Rona looked over at the others, seemingly preoccupied with enough gossip to be going down in a all-gay beauty parlor. She rolled her eyes and continued.

"You wanna go back to the room and watch some t.v. or something? Andrew's getting on my last good nerve."

"Yyeah.. you sure they won't.."

She tossed a glance over, her ears perked up to him explaining Warren, Jonathon, the dubious achievements of the evil trio, and how he's a modern day Goku, and smiled wryly.

"Nevermind. I'm in."


"Giles.. there was something else..." Willow looked at him worriedly, having held back the worse news yet.

"Of course." He said dryly. His British ways not befallen by the situation, nodding for her to continue.

"Wolfram and Hart receieved a phone-call from someone claiming to be Rupert Giles."

"What?" His brows furrowed, "That's ridiculas there's no one that could possibly,...." His gaze went cold. "Ethan."

"You think?" Willow was right there with him. The ex-Watcher's face went grim.

"No. I know."

"Maybe we should get back hold of what's left of the ex-initiative and..."

He interrupted her shrewdly. Ripper was busting out at the seams.

"Sure. Because leaving him in the hands of those incompetent twits..." His hand reached for his glasses and pulled them off.

He shook his head at himself frustrated that she couldn't understand. He knew of Amy, but there was no comparison. The months that Willow was there with him in England she touched on the girl's influence though Giles, repeatedly, had tried to make her aware of how dangerous Ethan, his own shadow-self, once was. In the thralls of the demons they once worshipped together, how their power was absolute. Unlocked. Un-controled. He's not some rank, arrogant, amateur.

"They did however trace the call.."

"To where?"

"Only 20 minutes South of here."

"Wonderful" he snarled.

Willow instantly regretting telling him about his once friend's whereabouts. Giles grabbed his coat and started packing up a bag of supplies.

"This is what he wants...," Willow started.

The ex-watcher didn't look up from what he was doing, possessed and unaware of the red-head's logical attempts to stop him from pursuit. She pressed on trying to stand her ground to his steel silence.

"What if this was his plan, what if ..."

"Then he's getting what he wanted..." Ripper was back in the saddle now, looking at a blade, eyeing it dangerously, checking how sharp it was at eye-level and running his thumb down it casually.


"Willow. I'm gonna tell you this once....sod off." He threw the bag over his shoulder and left the room without another word, another glance.

Mid-day streamed in, long past lunch, but they couldn't see the clock. Clothes were strewn across the room. The window hiding the inhabitants behind it. A heavy breath, a deep sigh, penetration and release. Muscles lost in a clutch and letting go before the owner of them dropped completely. The blond was no longer on her back, but atop the brunnette, thrusting against the pressure of the other girl's digits, a knot in her stomach, a pulse pumping everywhere through-out her body. Pieces of hands still stroking the inside of her while the other hand clasped her hip like leather piercing lace. She was riding now, anything just to believe she hadn't lost control, though her mouth was still embedded in hers, along with her hands in her skin.

Faith's hand slide to Buffy's ass pulling her closer and driving her onto her fingertips, with more patience, but less restraint, lifting her up after every drop, a deep rhythm now adopted. Her body rising with the inner fall, quaking beneath her touch. The scent of sex was everywhere, but hot on her mouth it tasted like so much more now, liquid heat in the way her tounge traced hers, but now all she wanted was to taste her the way she did the air after every breath they had to take once they pulled away.

She kept steady grip and rolled her over as gently as possible, not losing track of her mouth or the smell that lingered as she lavished her, her eyes dropping once or twice when she pulled away and resting back on hers, her focus, although blurry, the clearest thing she'd ever seen. Her forehead leaning against the blonde's. Their eyes locked as she broke her. Buffy clamped down, baring hard, busting open, body heaving, and melding into the sheets shortly after, almost paralyzed, at the least in shock.

But temptation turned tender. Faith dropped kisses downward again as if she was the most precious of porcalin, prone to break against her mouth. Buffy stared at the ceiling. Sated, but starved, awake, but asleep. This can't be real. It was all she could do to tell herself she hadn't been dead the last 4 years or even...every moment before this.

That's the last thing she could comprehend completely before Faith's mouth swerved across her clit, digging and devulging the nectar hiding behind the hood. Got my cake. I'll be damned if I don't eat it too. Her nose nudged in as she lapped gently at Buffy's inner walls. All her senses springing into over-drive, starting at the tip of her tongue.... God she tastes...

Jesus she feels... Buffy's leg clasped Faith's head in place tighter, her fingers sinking into her scalp...

SO good.

Faith's tongue continued to tickle the nerves Buffy didn't know existed, each pore seeping with sweat and trickling down velvet incased skin as she did so. The elder of the Chosen Twos teeth were teetering from the chill that fell across her body, unsure if it was from the impending orgasm or the lack of body heat being supplied by Faith's frame, being far too busy below washing Buffy in wave after wave of pleasure, her mouth molding itself to the muscle so revrently.

Jaw slag, trapped in a silent scream she arrived again. Breathless and dry deep down her throat all the moisture in Buffy's body having rushed down to her core, beneath Faith's mouth. She swallowed hard and laid against her thigh, attempting, to no avail, to breathe, to catch air she'd long since choked on right along with her counter-part.

Faith sat up suddenly and draped herself around her, meeting her mouth in the most chaste of kisses, then pried open her lips. She sucked on Buffy's tongue, then twisted it around, staining it with the taste of where she's been. Buffy, once coming down slowly, eyes shot open at this. I can't do this. Her whole body sprang up, bolting out of Faith's arms. Lidded, tear-tainted, eyes struggled to stay open blurred by what lay beneath. The brunette watched her. Not confused, so much as hurt. Her voice finally shattered the silence of the room, husky and low, but buried beneath the lack of hope she'd stay...

"Guess I thought..."

"You thought what? That I needed this. That you could help me.. that..."

"It was long over-due?" Faith sighed and rolled her eyes. Leaning her weight against the door frame casually, slicking her hair back with the other hand, now smirking despite herself and slanting her head to catch, what anyone would assume, the final glimpse of Buffy Summers' ass she'd ever see.

Faith dressed herself, pulling her shirt over her tusseled hair and making the buckle jingle, watching Buffy ever so often. Trying not to catch her eyes, making sure she didn't see how wounded she was and making sure she didn't catch the same look off of Buffy, having no more restraint than she did 10 minutes ago between her thighs or twenty minutes before that when she was...making love to her. Fuck. She shook her head.

"B don't..."

"Go.... where do I got to go?" She was shrugging now. The rush to leave frozen inside. She offered a sad, smile. She couldn't be angry, all of that was burned out of her system by the fever of Faith's skin atop her own, she was depleted.

Faith sighed and followed her out the door, grabbing her by the hand and nudging her against the wall for a kiss. Buffy latched onto her lips momentarily and took it in. The blonde's tears rubbed against Faith's long lashes, they pulled away and caught each others eyes, when Giles rounded the corner...

"Everything ...alright." He paused. Looking between the two of them and their dishoveled state, cleared his throat... "I'm making a run for some supplies. I'll be back as soon as possible. I trust everythings under control?"

Buffy fawned stability.

"Course." Nodding her head in, and throwing that billion buck smile in the way that said, 'I'm in control'. Of everything. All the time. Except for her.

Faith gave them both a weak smile and agreeance. She never could hide her emotions all that well. Her face said it all, but he was oblivious.

"Sure thing G, we got this."

"Good." He nodded hesitantly and walked off, unaware of when he'd be back, unaware of the apprehension to let him leave, and further more not caring.

Buffy watched him til he was out of sight. She looked away from her, looked away from everything. Her eyes caught the exit sign. Yeah. Like it's a real way out. She turned back and her eyes went slit, her hands doing the only thing they thought they could do to her up until today, slapping her across the face.

Faith leaned against the frame again, watching Buffy march off like she was on a mission. Her hands crossed over her chest, one of them lifting to rub her jaw, a bit of a grin even spreading across her face as she did so, feeling the material of the black scrunchy she stole run over the whelt. Repeating earlier sentiments, softly, albeit, to herself, in half amusement, half ache.

"It's the favorite of my current bruises."

CHAPTER 7: Reprise


Walking around aimlessly, Buffy kicks stones softly, absently, watching them skid across the cement, passing the parking lot of the La Siesta once more. It's been nearly a day and the shock and ceremony of the battle comes rushing back in the silence. She could have just as easily have fooled herself into thinking it's been about a week, but she doesn't adjust like her young apprentices, feeling the flow of the power course through her veins compensating for the loss of.... everything.

But it's more quiet contemplation, her upper lip remaining in tact, not a tremble to anything....anyone. Not anymore. It's almost an over-baring stature, solid and absorbing of each event and snap-shot leading her up to this very point. She frowns gently shuffling back to the end...the start..back to where she still stood at the mouth of hell, before her feet once again kissed daylight, to where she stood with Spike.


"I love you."

"No You don't, but thanks for saying it."


She wonders how he knew, when it was the only thing he ever wanted to hear. Why would he say that? And suddenly the shaken steps to those stairs, the climb to the top was paved with light, the brightest path she'd known, as predestined as the day she met with Merrick, but she didn't know why.


"I don't know what I would have done had you gone up those stairs."


Yet, enivitabley, she did. It was her only way out, the only way to keep living. The pads of her hands once burned, but released themselves from that heat, now containing the cold in memorium of that man. He wasn't a man...he was so much more.

She smiles fondly. I knew he could change. I had faith in him...

Her expression immediately fades, lips part to breathe, brows furrow, a flash of guilt glides over her features as she rounds the corner to enter the building. Picking up her pace she makes her way to Willow's room, treading lightly passed hers as to not rouse the others.

The scene of the 'crime' ceases to be. Not a strip of her torn shirt remains on the floor, though her hands instantly cross her chest to cover herself. The air wafts through giving her goosebumps as she grips her jacket tighter to the sad excuse of clothing underneath.

And the bed is made, tucked tight to tarnish the 'has beens', but the smell, everything was sated, but the smell. A scent so faint and whisp of a whiff to anyone else bombards her slayer senses and stirs her up inside like nothing else ever has, reeking of rememberance, regret.... Remorse. She tracks it and it all ends at the edge of a pool.

Faith's swimming laps alone, not a potential to be seen. She must have kicked them out...not surprised. In nothing more than panties and a bra she's circling, submersing, while Buffy stares hungerly, protesting against every bone in her body. She's watching, but lil does she know she's being watched. Rona and Vi are equally entranced at the doorway as the ex-con, feeling the blonde above, wades to the opposite end of the pool where her clothes are to lift herself up and out, muscles rippling as she does so, clorine covered skin making a beeline to Buffy's vision beneath the faint flourescent glow.

Before Faith knows it Buffy's, but a foot away and the only way she can tell besides the buzz is the soft sounds of breath that is until the hesitance hitches...

"Just so you know Faith, this, us...will never..."

Buffy's interrupted abruptly by the gentle slide of the fabric down Faith's legs, her voice finally cutting in...

"B," the rogue starts, "there is no us."

There's dead silence and the gentle ringing of water. She says it with not a hint of dejection, meets the blonde's eyes casually for a moment while starting to walk away from her, while repeating the process with her black lacey B cup.


"Where's Giles?" Dawn asks, Willow avoids her gaze.

"Yeah--if he doesn't get back in time he'll miss the pay-per-view...we ordered lesbonic librarians." Xander tries to capture the red-head's attention lamely and to no avail. His once boyish charm subsiding to the wake of reality, the disadvantage of his eye-patch and extra pounds.

"Wha... he, he'll be back in a few hours, just went to go get some supplies." She smiles sheepishly like she's not un-nerved, lies laying just beneath, til Kennedy wraps her arms around her.

"Everything alright?" Her body burrows into the Wiccan's back from behind.

It is now.

"Yeah. Let's grab the girls and Andrew and then...on with the film fest." A reassuring smile puts any and all doubts to rest yet Dawn casts a weary eye, slipping out as the rest of the ex-potentials, having first been kicked out of the lounge, then practically pulled from their own rooms, all slip into Xander's room.

Buffy and Faith have been gone for hours.

She was sick of waiting, sick of doing what they expected her to do. Her eyes cast a sidelong glance to Willow's room where she, at first, assumed her sister still was, passing it by and surveying the silence, making her way to Buffy and Faith's. Still quiet, she could be taking a nap, the argument must have taken a lot out of her. There was a small, yet, sympathetic smirk on both their behalfs. They really don't remember... how much I remember.

A hand falls into her hair and extracts a small pin. Can't say Faith didn't teach me anything useful at one point or the other. Dipping it into the lock she gives it a jiggle or two, the metal clinks ever so softly against her ears until the door gently prys open. Alright, that was a lil too easy. First her eyes scan the room, surveying the emptiness of the bed. Shit. Then get dimly distracted by the minature fridge....OooOooo maybe they have tab.... Her mind stops mid-thought and traces the small continuous circular slash made on the exterior of the otherwise smooth surface. There's only one thing that could make that mark.


"Ethan?" He hears the echo through-out the dark, abandoned ware-house, a soft chuckle in response.

"Same ol cat and mouse, ay Ripper?"

With the clap of his hands the room brightens, an upwords of 20 men in white, grey, and black cloaks circling him, bowing in respect of Raine's presence.

"You couldn't take me yourself then?" Giles motions flippantly to the lackies, as if they were dawning hard-core battle-garb, but Ethan can't help, but look upon his once friend with an unthreatened fondness, smiling at the rag-ed ex-watcher.

"There, there old mate, give the stick up your arse a rest, you always were a bit abrupt."

At that Giles reaches for his chest and throws him up against the wall, a metal poll in one hand, ready to prod his mouth, and his shirt scrunched up in the other, clenching at the man's chest about to sink his nails into the skin through the threads.

"You deluded ass," Giles begins to growl out, "Give me one good reason why I shouldn't kill you..." He drifts off giving an elbow to an unknown attacker behind him and finishes, turning back to Ethan, whose telling the rest of his henchmen to stand down, for his safety, "or I'll be turning the stick up yours." He's grinning now manically at the thought, stained with psychosis of his ex-alter-ego.

"Rupert..." A smooth silky voice strode across his spine. Giles goes pale hearing it, as white as the ghost he knows he heard.



Buffy's stuck to the same spot she's been in for the past minutes. I refuse to follow her. Eyes drifting from the pool table, to the water, and back again. Faith racking the balls with the plastic trangle and skimming over her cue, blue chalk embedding itself in her fingertips before she breaks. The blonde couldn't stand it any longer.

"What are you doing?" Buffy asks, a patient edge to her voice, her counter-part abask in, what seems, complete ignorance to her.

"What does it look like I'm doing?" The shots snaps the ball, whipping it to the direction of the chosen one's hands fluttering about the table girlishly in spite of themselves.

Buffy jumps back causing the brunette to smirk ever so slightly in victory, but her focus remains strictly to the table. Faith looks up after a shot or two and grins ironically, shrugging. She tosses the stick to the blonde in essence of non-chalance, and grabs the one at the side of the wall.

"Well if you wanted to play, just had to say."

Well if you don't want to play.

At first Buffy looked at her almost indignantly. She...wants to play pool... at a time like this? Her face crinkled in confusion. Time like what.

"Stripes or solids?"


"Play or call."



With all her initial reservations Buffy bore into the table, sighing in half defeat, half resiliance, as if there was a challenge in the brunette's eyes to have a casual conversation. She rolled her eyes and slid the stick between her fingers leaning down to practice her aim, Faith now on the other side squinting in concentration.

Buffy started the search for her shot.

Looking down she spots the 3 ball not far from the corner pocket, but she's still positioned at a near impossible angle. Now having paced around the table several times she finally decides, much to Faith's great impatience.

"3 ball, corner pocket."


The brunette rolls her eyes and grins softly, Buffy feels it not far from behind her.

"What?" She drawls in response to it.

"Nothing, it's're never gonna make it blondie, 11 is right at the entrance and the slightest...."

As if on cue, there was a shot, a tentative thud turning into a soft roll knocking the 11 lighty against the 3 and into the pocket. Buffy turns around looks over her shoulder in celebratory smug fashion...

"Spike taught me."

It's at that very moment that Dawn comes rushing into the room, winded and out of breath, passed the ex-potentials who are still hidden tight against the door frame as if they were years younger and watching pay-per-view porn against their mother's permission.

"Oh god...D....what's wrong?"

Buffy herself turned to her sister now, almost guiltily, for having been so distracted by the expression of Faith's face.

"Dawnie......Dawn." She went to her and put a comforting hand on her shoulders, shaking her slightly, the younger Summers' was in shock trying to spit out the words, dismay written all over her face.

"I...I went to your room, to check on you, and... the's gone." be continued...