Back to the Beginning: Addiction
by Amanda
Rating: NC-17

Disclaimer #1: No copyright infringement intended to Joss W, ME, FOX, WB, UPN, etc. No malice intended, please don’t sue.
Date: 071902- 072302
Spoilers: All of Season Six.
Note #1: This is the 8th in a series, read the others first.
Note #2: The title is from the skinny puppy song, Addiction. Song below. You can see where this is going, if you look close. *hint* No copyright infringement intended, all in fun; as fun as industrial music can be, I guess.
Note #3: If it is written in italics it is the character’s thoughts. (Or dreams)
Dedication #1: To the three M s.
Dedication #2: Everyone who has been kind enough to take the time to read the first seven AND write me a little note. WOW, my dragon ego is being nicely stroked, keep it up.
Feedback: I am not ashamed, I need it.

	Addiction ~skinny puppy

	Desperate deranged
	Talking in my sleep again
	Eyes twitch 
	retain a sentimental something
	Looked lorne and we burned 
	and burned I was a cinder body soul in my 
	dreams 
	Breakdown amidst the mixtures
	Avoid addictive plea 
	responding disillusion encrusted
	Cruelty describe why 
	nails enclose me eating so evenly
	There exists a lot of reasons
	To support fatality
	Abstinence 
	possessed
	Hardly what you think it is
	Hearts beat 
	positive
	Provided there's progress
	Ignorance
	Does insist
	Of the right coffin
	Took some food offered me can't see 
	myself drank the wine wished the feverish burst of terror 
	Breakdown amidst the mixtures
	Avoid addictive plea
	Insist that nothing happened
	Chilled bloodless fatigue
	Recharge with bitterness
	Fanatics beckoning 
	mistook a look impassioned
	Absorbed with clarity 
	consciousness
	Drifts away
	Discarded memory
	Packaged shelf life
	Bad display 
	Breakdown amidst the mixtures
	Avoid addictive plea
	Excessive necromancers 
	comfort is treachery
	So pound the nails in tight
	Eyes 
	screaming out of sight
	Against a grain like curtain 
	Unbearably alive

*****

Aluminum cups against steel. The repetitive sound, hammering harder than a heartbeat, picking up in tempo, growing in volume. Blocking out the sounds of screams. Flesh, palms open, slapping against cement, moans begging for silence, but there will be none. Not tonight.

They are hungry, she can feel their hunger, smell it on the air, and they are taking another one tonight and there is nothing that she can do to stop it. Her calling, pulses through her as her hands cup her head, destiny and duty pulsing with the beating of metal, the flesh becoming bruised. All in time with each other and she can’t stop it. What good is it for her to be here, trapped, helpless again, her ears, so much stronger, hearing it all, the tear of fabric, the ripping of skin, blood splattering on unforgiving floors.

She can’t stop it, she can’t silence it. Only gets louder, stronger. The smell of blood, human blood, in her nose, filling her. Looking at her hands she sees them, covered in it, dripping black, thick, moving mocking, it is alive, and is twitching with the last beat of the dead heart.

His eyes accusing her, mouth in a silent scream as he looks inside of her. The smell of death, covering her, she can’t escape she cannot save them, cannot save herself.

A scream, guttural, agonizing ripped from my throat, and I sat up in my new bed, the sheets twisted around my legs, sticking to the sweat that covered my body, and there was nothing I could do but sob, twitch, feeling the nightmare still inside of me.

B’s hands were on my back in an instant, her voice cooing softly to me. Bringing me back to her, at least trying. My head moved around, looking. I was not in the prison cell, I was not in the alley, and I was not in the Professor’s house. I was in my apartment, in my bed, the early morning sky a deep and turbulent blue, B was next to me, her lips on my shoulder as she waited for me to calm down.

“Sorry,” I choke out, and she rubbed her hand in circles over my back.

“Another nightmare, baby?” B whispered, her lips not leaving my skin. I nodded for her, wondering why she had never questioned me about having them. We had been sleeping together every night for the past month, since our first night together. We decided then, that we had to be near each other. Neither one of us could imagine not being with the other. What we both seemed to be feeling was completely encompassing, it consumed me, the need to be near her, to smell her, hear her. Tasting her kisses, her soul, I could never go back, to a time without it ever!

*****

Across the early morning stillness came a scream, and she felt her lips pull back from her teeth as she half snarled, half grinned. That sound would follow her, keeping her heart that much warmer, until the day she could hear and see that scream coming from the Dark Slayer’s cracked and bleeding lips.

“Lovely, isn’t it?” Veronica asked Jane, as she enveloped her in her arms. They were standing across the street from the wonderfully restored Victorian that Faith called home. Veronica had promised Jane a surprise, and so they had been standing in silence beside this maple tree, waiting for it.

“Was that it?” Jane asked, nuzzling closer to her lover. They were both still warm from the feast they had enjoyed down at the docks. Immigrant sailors fresh from far flung ports of call. When living Jane had enjoyed the sailors’ exuberance in bed, and the unique smells still clinging to their skin and hair. But now, the demon in her appreciated the spice to the blood, the richness of having something different.

“That was it.” Veronica kissed her cheek and then stepped away, but still their arms touched, even if through the leather coats they both wore. “There is something in there, my pet. Something I need to taste.” She sighed wistfully, turning to look over her shoulder at Jane. If she still had breath it would have caught in her throat. This demon, this vampire, this woman, was so beautiful. And her strength. She laughed inside, at her own ignorance, thinking Buffy Summers was so great. This woman would and could beat her hands down.

“She screams often then?” Jane asked, slipping a finger into her mouth, wetting it, and then tracing her lips, tasting the pain that was carried down to them on the winds.

“Nightly. Exquisite isn’t it?” Veronica asked, lightly, holding her hand up over the front gate. Jane knew what she felt, the air having mass, keeping them at bay. A massive protection spell was over the entire house.

“Yummy.” Jane replied. Everything was fucking perfect. Before long, Faith would be kneeling before her, and she would have a private performance of that scream.

*****

At first it was weird for me. Trying to fall asleep next to somebody else, and not just anybody mind you, but Buffy. That was a tough enough task. But the worst was when I would wake from a nightmare and find her there, curled beside me. It would take a few moments for me to realize who it was and what was happening. It was usually worse when I slept over at her place. In that bed with the painted brass bars at the head that she loved to hold onto when we made love. Because I remembered that room, remember the fantasies I used to have of her and me in that room, and when I would wake up confused, I would think that the past month was all a dream. It had to be, it had been too perfect.

“What was it? Do you want to talk about it?” She asked, her hand making its way along the length of my back to my neck, soothing me. She called that my alligator belly. Which I hated at the time, but well, it sort of grew on me. She claimed that when she rubbed the back of my neck I calmed, like rubbing an alligator’s belly. And it worked. It always did. Just like her patented pout. She knew me nearly completely. But there were still things that she did not know, things that I was terrified that she would know. The dreams were one of them.

B’s hand gripped a little tighter, and I knew that she felt me tense when she asked. How could I not? I loved her more than I thought it was even capable for me to, but how could I tell her these things?

“I, I” God! Now I was stuttering, great! Just fucking great.

The bed shifted, and I felt her moving, to straddle my legs as she sat facing me. Through the lightening sky I could see her face, calmly open. Her fingertips moved over my tear stained cheeks. It was as if she was devouring my features with her touch. I melted a little bit more when she did that.

“Faith, you don’t have to tell me what the dreams are about. You don’t have to tell me anything you don’t want to.” She kissed my lips softly, tenderly. She smiled, that B smile that tells you that she is there for you. I love that smile. It’s one of my favorites. And it, like that damn pout will make me do anything for her.

“Prison. The dream was about prison. I never told you before, and I kinda don’t want to now. I mean this is not the kind of story that has a happy ending.” I sighed, and she took my hand, squeezing it lightly.

“Yes it does.” She kissed my cheek. “You are here with me.”

“Oh,” she was fucking smooth, I would give her that. And not just her skin, all of her, smooth as silk, and so smart too. “I guess you are right about that.”

“Sorry, go on.” She set her hands in her lap, eyes wide in the dark, I could see them though; open, her whole body was open accepting, of anything I had to say. But would she still believe that when I was done? When I made her remember?

“Well, you know how it is when you don’t slay?” I offered up, not sure where to start any of this, not wanting to. But I owed her the truth, all of it.

“Right, when I was in LA that summer,” B added agreeing softly, clearly wanting me to go on.

“The nagging, the gut wrenching nausea, when you know you are supposed to be doing something, supposed to be fighting evil and all that. But see I was in jail; I volunteered to get locked away, to do what I needed to repent, to pay for what I did. I know that I have not done enough, not to make up for the lives I took, the pain I cause, especially to you.”

“Faith.” She moved to say more, but I set my finger on her lips, silencing her. She kissed it softly, the tip of her tongue just snaking out to taste. I felt the surge of desire coursing through my body, and wanted nothing more to take her in my arms and love her, be close to her. But, B needed to hear this, and by some miracle I had found some strength, and I would be damned it I stopped now.

“No just let me okay?” She nodded. “Well. You’ve felt it. You know what it is like. So I was in prison, and couldn’t slay. It was worse than that though, because there was evil in that prison B. Evil and I couldn’t do a thing to stop it.”

“Like a demon?”

“Worse. Human evil. The evil that a human being is capable of is worse than any vamp, or demon. I know, B, cause I did that evil. When I took the Professor's life I was basking in that evil, letting it run through my body, letting out all of the pain, all of the torment that had been put on me.” I stopped abruptly.

“What do you mean?”

NO NO NO Not today, you will not tell her this today!

“Another day, B.” I smiled sadly at her, begging her to let me take this one step at a time. She had to know that talking was not my thing, that I couldn’t do this all at once. I was not a fucking care bear, and this was not sharing circle with fucking drums and cookies and cocoa after.

“What you need to know is about prison. See the evil that was happening there,” I continued, “they wanted to do it to me. The rapes, the attacks.” I watched a shiver run over her body. "It was my second day in with the general population when they came for me, Buffy.

“It went down in the lunchroom. A whole fucking mob of them. Smelled the fresh meat I guess. They jumped me and I snapped. I went Slayer on them. Not holding back, not pulling my punches. I almost killed one of them, she’s paralyzed now, for the rest of her life in a bed, full of tubes, because of me. The others got off lucky, stuck in the infirmary for a while. But it shattered me. More than torturing Wesley, or attacking Angel. Why? Because these were humans and I wasn’t holding back. I let that part of me out, the part that wanted to destroy every thing.

“I couldn’t look at myself after that. I knew I had to stop, I had to change. I had to do something. Because it was hard to stop the want, the need to destroy them all. Doing what I had to I knew I would be defenseless. But I was so broken, so gone beyond reason that I knew I couldn’t fight back. If I did it would start again, the craving for violence, the only way I knew how to express my emotions. If I started the blood wouldn’t stop.” I looked at my hands, out of habit from the dream.

“What did you do?”

“I learned to hide. I was a fucking coward. I learned to listen, to smell. I could smell the emotions of the place, and knew when I needed to hide, But the worst was at night, when I could hear and smell what was happening around me, in those other cells, that they were doing to each other, and the Slayer in me was screaming to get out, the blood lust was howling right along side it. The Slayer wanted to stop them, keep all of the weak ones safe. The lust, oh, she was worse. She wanted them dead. I am a murderer Buffy. I don’t know how you can stand to look at me, how you could even possibly love me.”

“How could I not?” She sighed sadly, looking down at her hands.

Was that it? She just had to love me? Murdering psycho bitch? I bet was it because I could make her eyes roll back in her head more times a night than she could count, that was why she loved me anyway?

Shut it Faith!

What the hell was I thinking? Why was I suddenly so angry? Was it because she just didn’t get it, that she didn’t understand what it was like, and never would. To wake up from one of these fucking nightmares, so tired of having to relive my past mistakes, seeing the blood on my hands or the emptiness in my own eyes on certain days when I just couldn’t forget? She would never know how hard I was trying to keep the violence tied up inside, not letting it out, never know that I prayed each day at the end of my shift, kneeling before the alter at St. Michael’s praying to that damn saint, that damn mythical angel, just because he slew the dragon, maybe, just maybe he could help me kill off mine. Because I was tired of the dreams, tired of the memories. They clouded everything, and she would never get it! Shit, she could be all empathetic Buffy, even that freaky as hell hearing everyone’s thoughts Buffy, and she still would never get it. She had never been where I had, never tasted the blood on her lips, after it landed there in an arc of splatter. She just wouldn’t know. Pure and angelic B, she would always be. And why in the hell did she love me? Why the hell did I love her? Why was any of this happening?

Whoa, what the fuck?

She was crying. What?

“B?” I whispered. The rage quieted a little hearing her whimper, seeing her naked shoulders twitch when I spoke. She didn’t deserve this from me, even if she hadn’t heard it. I forget that we are bonded now, in some weird emotional way, and that she sometimes feels me. Shit, she is crying harder. I reach out my hand, taking her tiny birdlike arm in its grip. Still amazed that she looked so fragile, and could snap my neck before I took another breath.

“Do you love me?” She whispered, head coming up, and her eyes. There was pain and sorrow, but something else. Something that I had seen before, in L.A. When she threatened me. But seeing that isn’t what made me open my mouth and say,

“I love you Buffy.” No, I said that because it was true, and had been true since the moment I laid eyes on her, years ago.

“That’s your answer Faith.” She shrugged, and I was lost. Completely fucking lost. I could feel my forehead furrow, and she caught it, and with a sad smile, her voice light, belying the pain in her words. “I’m a murderer too, Faith, and you still love me.”

“You never killed anyone B.” I scoffed.

“You weren’t here. You were in jail then.” She was serious. There was no way she could be serious.

*****

It was an ungodly hour for her to be awake, but she looked at her watch again and smiled. Willow as acclimating herself for the time change she was about to undergo. It may be three in the morning here in Sunnydale, but in London it was already eleven. She wanted to be ready, for when she arrived. Willow did not want anything setting her back from this trip, from gaining all that she could.

Then why am I looking at the phone?

He hadn’t called that was why. She had waited to tell all of them, waited until last night as they were all sitting around the large table in the library of Holburn’s home.

The Slayer’s had gotten back, looking sullen at the lack of activity in the cemeteries, but Willow had reminded them all that summer was usually quiet, it was the time the Slayers got to have a break, and that the two of them, so painfully, and obviously in love, should be enjoying themselves. After saying that was when she announced to the group that she was leaving, going to London, to work with the Watcher’s Council. Her announcement was received with blank stares. Xander’s had been the blankest of them all. He just gawked at her. He didn’t ask why, he didn’t ask what she was going to do. He stared.

It had been Dawn who asked the questions, but no matter how excited she was, seeing the look on his face, her oldest and dearest friend, sucked the excitement out of her sails. Listlessly she told them of programs she was planning on writing for the Watcher’s computers, of plans she had to help them understand the dynamic of the Scooby Team and its value in a Slayer’s life. Also of Faith’s idea to track items and discussions via the Internet to stay on top of any threatening Armageddon’s or other such catastrophes. But none of it rolled off her tongue as sweetly as she wanted it to. All because of him.

So she was sitting beside the phone, waiting, but knowing he wouldn’t call. Not at this hour. No one would.

Willow stood and walked over to the bed, looking down at it, made nicely, the picture beside it in the pewter frame. Her Tara. She would be excited for Willow. She would want to talk and mull over all of her plans, her thoughts.

I miss you.

It was times like these, when the melancholy seized her that Willow wished for someone to talk to, some one who would understand. She knew Faith would be willing to talk, well she would have before she and Buffy had finally gotten through to each other. Had finally allowed themselves to love one another. Now Faith’s world was Buffy.

And Willow had no one.

*****

Faith didn’t believe Buffy, that much was clear from the bewildered look in her eyes. This was something that the blonde would have preferred no one knowing. It was bad enough that Giles knew, that he understood exactly what had happened then. Sure the others thought about it once, but passed it off as something that needed to be done. Seeing the look in her eyes, Buffy knew that Faith deserved to know, had to know, so that the younger girl would be able to understand that they were more alike than she had ever guessed.

“I did.” She sighed.

“Who?” Faith whispered back, still disbelieving.

“They were human, Faith. The Knights of the Byzantium. They were flesh and blood and they were fighting me for one reason and one reason alone. Their sworn duty was to keep the Key from Glory, to stop her from opening the portals.

“The Slayer in me agreed with them, knowing that they were right. How much simpler would it have been if I had just slipped into the room, and held the pillow over Dawn’s face. There would have been nothing she could have done to stop me. That was all it would have taken, me killing her. God! I thought about it so many times.

“I could have saved so many lives. Tara would never have had her mind sucked, Willow would never have needed to go to the black magic in the first place. It was my entire fault, because I was selfish. I wanted Dawn. Sure she is annoying and grating, and her, but she was mine! She was made from me. Not from anyone else, just from me. There was no way I was going to give that up! She was mine.” A light smile came over Faith’s lips and she nodded, gently, and Buffy knew then that Faith completely understood her love for Dawn. That calmed her, but she still had to go on. “So when they came, with their swords and their horses, and their outdated clothes, I justified what I did, chanting mentally to myself through the days and the nights, that I was doing it to protect Dawn, that I was going to saving the world on my terms.

“I killed so many of them, Faith. How many did you kill? Really? We both know that Allan was an accident. I was there, I saw it all. So how many? One. God, Faith, I killed more than that. You have no idea how many more.”

"But-"

“No. No buts, no excuses. I knew exactly what I was doing, slamming the ax into a human spine, taking a sword and slicing it across a throat, watching the blood bubble out with the last gasp of air. Snapping necks like it was as easy as popping gum. I did it because I could. I was the fucking Slayer! I was addicted to the power of it. The rush; having the power in these hands, to kill or not. There was no one who could stop me.

“And no one did Faith.

“So you ask me how I can love you, for being a murderer, for feeling the rage, letting out the lust, hungry for the kill. I have to ask you, how can you love me?”

*****

She had been pacing, arms moving around her, in a typical B rant, but the words coming out of her mouth stung me, cut me to the core. I had no idea. This threw all of my conceptions of her out the window. She was knocked from the pedestal in my mind, right down to the floor with me. She was fallible, she was real.

I reached out my arm, and pulled her onto my lap, wrapping both of my arms around her, holding her close to me. Her naked skin was flush, as I was sure mine was. This was some heavy shit we were both feeling, both talking about.

“B, I had no idea.”

“Only Giles really knows. I had to tell someone, and you were gone, and stuff. There was no way I would talk to anyone else about it. But I had to let it out.”

“I know.” I said kissing her shoulder. “You did for Dawn. I understand that. I would have done the same thing, standing right beside you B. I know that you know that too.”

“God, can you ever forgive me?”

“Forgive? What is there to forgive?”

“I judged you. After that night with Allan, I judged you. I never thought it could happen, a mistake like that. I really think that was what shattered us, broke us apart. And it was my fault. I was so fucked up, I never stopped to consider what was happening to you, what you were feeling.”

“We were kids, B, I didn’t expect anything from you.” I lied.

“You should have.” She leaned her head back, pressing her face to my neck. “You should have expected me to be there for you, when you needed me the most. I could have stopped you from going to the Mayor.”

“B, nothing could have stopped that, and certainly not you, not then.” Ain’t that the truth? I kissed her forehead softly, not wanting to bring this up, really not wanting to say,

“Angel.” Okay, she said it for me then.

“Right.” I sighed, holding her tighter, feeling her squirm slightly, the backs of her thighs on mine.

“That is a whole other topic for me to apologize for.”

“B, we went over this already though. Neither one of us were ready then.”

“But we are now.”

“Yeah, we are.”

“Can you still love me?” She asked, childlike fear in her voice. Buffy Summers was expecting me to reject her? No fucking way. I loved her even more, in a crazy way. She was like me, she wasn’t perfect. She understood. Really, who else could relate to the rage, the fire?

“How can I not?” I echoed her earlier sentiment. The palm of my right hand making a circle on her bare stomach. “I love you, B, for all that you are, the good the not so good.”

“I, I” She stumbled, but I could feel her stomach lurch. I knew what was happening; I could feel it to, the tightening of her muscles, our heartbeats getting stronger. I knew. “I need to feel you Faith. I need to know.” She whispered, and I moved my hands up from her stomach, to cup her warm breasts, bringing my lips to her shoulder, kissing her with a wide, open mouth. She needed to feel my love, needed to know that I was real. Yeah, I knew what she needed, ‘cause I needed it too. The closeness, the confirmations that we did still love each other, no matter what.

I moved my right hand down her side, playing her with light touches, like she was an antique piano or something. My mouth on her shoulder moved to the back of her neck. Nuzzling my face in close I breathed in deeply, smelling her scent, the warmth of it, the fragility of this position, the trust it showed. The animal in all humans still innately knew that this was about trust, letting someone else this close to the utterly defenseless part of your body. I tasted the trust coming off of her in waves. The scent of her here made me swoon, closing my eyes with a light growl.

I moved my fingers, combing them through the short, trimmed hairs covering her center, as I opened my mouth against her neck. I moved my fingers against her outer lips, as I pressed my teeth against the tender flesh of her neck. B’s body jerked, her legs opened wider. I nipped again, growling in the back of my throat, in a way that scared even me. Because we all know, humans didn’t just growl. But she and I did. I could hear hers, a low rumbling in her chest, feeling the vibrations through my arm that held her tightly to me. My fingers separated her lips, and one slipped between the folds, becoming slick with her arousal.

“Faith.” She moaned, arching back into me.

I sucked against her neck, hoping that she would be marked in the morning, and all through the day. I wanted her to take this mark with her, to be able to run her fingers over it, when she was away from me and remember that I had been here, that I had her like this, completely and safely.

Her hips bucked, making her tight ass press all the more firmly against my center. I flicked her clit with my thumb, moving my left hand up her chest to cup her breast. Pinching the tight nipple, I plunged inside of her tight sex, filling her with two fingers. She bucked again, and this time I was ready, and made sure that when her ass pushed back she felt how wet she was making me. The moan that erupted from her lips let me know that I made my point very clear to her.

“Always.” I whispered into her ear, increasing the thrusts of my hand, moving my fingers inside of her, reaching for the spot where I was exactly needed. I pulled her ear lobe into my mouth, sucking hard, tasting the metallic ting of the earring she wore. I pulled slightly on it, and felt her insides clench again. I was being rough, but my body was reading hers, knew before my mind did what she wanted. I moved my lips over her slick shoulders, lapping my tongue over her back. I could taste the sex in the air, the chemicals in her sweat, as she was getting closer. I twisted my wrist, entering her from a slightly different angle, which she clearly liked from the sharp intake of her breath, and the panting that followed.

“So close.” She hissed, and I bit down on her shoulder again, loving how the muscle twitched, trying to get away. I pressed against her clit with my thumb, and she was really bucking now, feeling my fingers through her whole body. I knew, because that was what it felt like for me, that I was touching her everywhere. My free palm was dancing back and forth between her breasts, making sure each one was aching with the same tempo as the muscles around my fingers. I could feel the tightness, feel it building up inside of her. She was right on the edge, teetering. My thumb roughly flicked her swollen nub again, and her entire body twitched, trying to fold over on itself as she came. But my arm across her chest, kept her up right, kept her pressed against me. I stilled my thrusts, slowly removed my hand, but placed my teeth to her neck one more time. Biting. She twitched again.

I crossed my arms over her chest, holding her tightly, feeling her lungs pulling for air, feeling the sweat on her skin, knowing that it was starting to chill in the night air that was coming in from all of the open windows.

It was always intense when we made love here, in this room. I think it was because we knew that just down stairs were Kiddo and HS, maybe sometimes the others. It made us concentrate on being quiet, and instead of our voices screaming out, it was our bodies doing all of the talking. I was learning every twitch, every sigh, everything about her body. And she was learning mine. Though tonight it seemed even more intense than before. This was about trust now, knowing some of the darkness we each had in us, and always would, and still finding the trust, exploring the love we felt by being together.

She shifted and I dropped my arms, allowing her to stand. She turned to face me and then pushed against my shoulders. See, B, she knew my body too, and knew that I was sitting in a pool of want. She also knew that I was aching to fall on my knees and taste her, to feel her climaxing above me, and drinking it all in. I lived for that, for worshipping her. And I could tell from the push that knocked me to the bed, from the way she climbed up my body, that B was reading all of the goddamn signs I was giving her.

“Faith,” she whispered, before leaning over me and capturing my lips in hers. The kiss was intense, one of those jaw breaking kisses. If we ever kissed anyone else like that, their bones would snap. With us though, it was just about the hunger. Her tongue thrust inside running over mine, and I couldn’t stop my hands from cupping her dangling breasts, and circling the nipples with my thumbs. She leaned her back up, trying to get her breasts from me, but I just let my hands follow. “What do you want, Faith?” She asked, kissing along my cheek, my jaw. I howled inside. Could she even begin to realize how much her words affected me at a time like this? Too much, my mind was flipping through a thousand different things, too many, I could only sigh. Which sparked the gleam in her eye. The gleam that rarely came out, but when it did, fuck! B slinked her body over mine, not stopping until she sat down lightly, right on the top of my chest. I groaned at the sight of her completely open, dripping in front of me. “You want this?” She asked, running two fingers through her folds, one on either side of her engorged lips.

OH YES OH YES OH YES

“Hmm? Do you Faith? Or should I just let you watch?” She dipped one finger inside of that perfect opening, pressing deep.

OH FUCKING YES OH FUCK!

She had rendered me completely senseless. The smile on her lips was my reward. She was getting off on this as much as I was. Thank God! That meant we would be doing it again!

She moved forward, using those beautiful thighs to support most of her weight. The moment her center was above my lips, I leaned forward and flicked her clit with my tongue. A deep groan came from both of us.

*****

Jane giggled, feeling Veronica’s hands moving up her back, under her jacket. Cold hands on cold skin.

“How much longer will they be at it?” Veronica mused.

“They are Slayers. Buffy could go for hours. Once she had me coming so many times I actually passed out, and when I woke back up, she was still fucking me.” Jane grinned at the memory, but stopped when she felt Veronica’s fingers holding her left breast tightly.

“Better than me?”

“Not even close to you, Sire.” Jane lied.

*****

There was no one in the world that could make me feel like B, and I was completely gone. I loved teasing her, licking her to the edge and backing off, then starting all over again. When I had felt her getting close, dripping all over my face, she had surprised me, by turning around and burying her face between my legs. Maybe it was all the talking she did, but this woman had the strongest tongue I had ever known, and she knew exactly how to use it, how to press and twirl and -

OH SHIT!

I moaned into her as I came in a shuddering quiver. God she was fucking amazing! She was close again, I could feel it, and then she moved away.

What the fuck?

She leaned down to kiss my lips softly, but I didn’t want soft. I licked at her lips, tasting myself on them, thrusting my tongue inside of her mouth, I was on fire, and it was almost like I was the one on the edge, unfulfilled, when it was the other way around. But I always felt that with her, feeling when she came, that was magic to me.

She kissed me back, matching my tongue stroke for stroke. I moved my hands down her body, and rubbed the flat of my palm against her. I could feel how swollen she was even with my calloused hand. She must be holding out, waiting for something.

“What ever you want,” I began moving my lips to her ear, and then flicked my tongue around the shell. “Anything, tell me what you need and I will give it to you B.” I licked it again.

“I don’t want you to submit to me. I don’t want to dominate you Faith.” She moved so that we were locking gazes, hers fierce. “I want you to surrender, to us. To this, what we have.” She kept going, her tones making me shiver, and then she slipped her fingers inside of me.

“Oh, God!” I groaned, and reached down the length of her body to mimic her. But this time she was more ready, so I moved three fingers inside of her.

“Ahh.” She bit her lip to quiet her scream. That looked too good to pass up, so I leaned up and bit it with her. My thigh was pressed behind my hand and I used it to get deeper with my thrusts that were slow and strong, building her up again, but this time she couldn’t stop her self. I wouldn’t let her. She set her forehead on mine, and I felt her strong fingers reaching for my g-spot, and when she found it I churned my hips against her, tightening all the muscles of my body from the waist down. “Let it all go and just be with me in the moment. Two souls. Be with me Faith.” She was panting, and so was I. God, I was going to come and I wasn’t sure I could keep quiet. “Just let go.”

And I did. My body stilled, but for the hand pumping into her, and she felt it. She felt me let go, she felt me dropping all of my walls, and everything I hid behind. I completely gave myself over to her, which was something I had never done before. In that moment I felt it all go, and I gave her everything, not to possess, I just let it be open, my heart, my soul. I gave her all of my trust. I did just what she said, I let go.

And the second I let go, B started coming, and I followed, it was so strong, so shattering, that I found myself bawling, looking up into her hazel eyes.

*****

She was watching her moving about the kitchen in a flurry. How was this possible? Buffy knew it was possible, she had been eating the food Faith cooked for her every day for a month now, and was feeling content and loved for it. But it was just so far from the mental picture she had always carried with her of the brunette. That this woman, with all of her strength, her raw sexuality could stand there in leather pants and a looked-painted-on-it-was-so-deliciously-tight tank top, tapping her steel toed boot, as she gently smeared cream cheese on a piece of ciabatta bread. It was just odd.

“So today is the day, huh?” Faith asked, setting the bread, with strawberry jam on the side, in front of Buffy. She was salivating just thinking about eating it.

“Yeah.” Buffy said, wistfully, the realization hitting her. Faith, ever attentive, squatted beside her chair, and set her hands on Buffy’s knees, moving them in circles.

“She’ll come back.” Faith offered. “And she will be safe.”

“I know, I am being all irrational jumping to the worst possible conclusions Buffy, but this is my Willow. Why can’t she stay here?” She frowned.

“Because,” Faith smiled, “She needs some time to be away. Seeing us, and all.”

“I know. I feel terrible about that, but we tried keeping away from each other.” And they had, they made considerable efforts in the first few days, when around Willow to keep a fair distance, as not to make the Wicca feel bad, or think about Tara.

“But she still knew, B.” Faith got up and walked over to the coffee pot, pouring a half mug, and then going to the refrigerator, and filling the other half with cold milk. Again Buffy grinned. Two seconds later, Dawn bounded down the rear stairs; her hand outstretched, and took the mug from Faith.

God I love this woman.

“It is too early to be awake.” Dawn moaned, sitting heavily in her chair.

“Just wait Kiddo. Only one more day and you are back in school.”

“GAWD! Why did you have to say that out loud, Faith? I was doing just fine until you did.” Dawn whined.

“Yeah, F!” Buffy joined in, feeling a sudden case of the first day jitters affecting her as well. Tomorrow would be a big day, and she was nervous. Sure she had been going to the school every day this week, getting her – So odd sounding – office ready, learning the new layout of the library, but knowing that tomorrow the place would be filled with teenagers; it really did strike a cord of fear in the Slayer’s heart.

“Sorry, sorry!” Faith held up her hands and took a step away from the girls. “Who knew you two would be all sensitive. It’s just fucking school.”

“FAITH!” They yelled in unison, chastising her for cursing.

“What?!” She hollered back, grinning mischievously, and Buffy knew she was getting ready to launch into an overtly graphic, curse filled diatribe, just to prove a point.

“I beg you not to do what you are about to do.” Holburn said as he walked into the kitchen from the front rooms, straightening his tie as he walked.

“Ah, come on!” Faith moaned, handing him a cup of tea. “Where’s the fun in that?”

“We are all quite aware of your extensive knowledge in the guttural side of the English language, and do not need a demonstration.” He grinned then took a sip of tea. “Thank you for this, by the way.” She shrugged him off. “Besides, Faith, we discussed this.”

“I’m just playin’. Man!” She huffed and went to wipe her hands off on the tea towel on the counter.

Buffy looked about the table. Her family. All that were missing was Willow and Anya and Xander. The latter two of the group had been surprisingly distant lately, not even coming by daily. This was nice, she thought. She could really get used to this. Buffy had even begun finding herself missing the energy of this house, when she, Faith, and Dawn stayed over at the Summers home. There was something else here, something that wasn’t there. She liked that they all sat around this table, not using the small kitchenette up in Faith’s apartment.

She even liked being around Holburn, who was more of a brother to all of them than the Father figure Giles had always been. And he was helping Faith. Once a week the two of them would disappear into the study for a few hours to talk. Afterwards, Faith would be quiet, sullen, but in an introspective way that moved Buffy beyond words. She munched on her toast, thinking about how lucky she was. She was still disheartened that Willow was leaving, and no one knew for how long. They had been separated from each other before, but this time it felt different to Buffy, like she was pushing the red head away.

“Hey.” Faith whispered in her ear, pulling her away from her introspection.

“Hi.” Buffy smiled up at her, and was given the wide full toothy grin she loved.

“I have to go.” She said, and Holburn and Dawn just vanished. She threw her arms around Faith’s neck and held her close.

“I’ll miss you.” Buffy whispered into her neck, before kissing her softly.

“Ditto.” Faith replied. “But I will see you later, for when we all do the teary goodbye thing, for Red.” She slipped her arms away, and took a step back, winking at Buffy as she did so.

“Okay, but, you have a good day, and be safe.” Buffy declared.

“Um, Buffy, how can she get hurt in a kitchen?” Dawn giggled.

“Careful there Kiddo, you are talking to the girl who managed to blow up the microwave and the toaster oven on the same day.” Faith chuckled, touching the bottom of Buffy’s chin, before she turned away. “See you this afternoon for training, HS.”

“Right, of course!” He called after her, raising his tea as she slipped out the back door.

Buffy released a sigh. Yes. This was the life she always wanted.

*****

It was a rather hot day today, and Holburn was again chastising himself for wearing a tie. He moved to loosen it with one hand while keeping the other on the steering wheel of the car as he drove through the streets of Sunnydale, heading for the shopping center, with Dawn beside him.

“Dawn? Could you be a dear and switch on the air?” He asked, glancing at her out of the corner of his eye.

“No problem.” She leaned forward and switched it on, then settled back into the seat, raising her injured leg onto the dashboard. Vibrantly red nail polish caught his eye, and Holburn trailed his gaze from the toes peeking out from under the blue cast, over the thick encasement, to the naked thigh that seemed to go on forever. It suddenly increased in heat in the car, and he moved his arm out, to turn the air-conditioner on high. “Wow, the heat really does get to you doesn’t it?” Dawn asked.

She is sixteen, she is sixteen.

“Quite.” He nodded, thankful that he was pulling the car onto the shopping center’s property.

His thoughts as of late had been disturbing him. He was not sure if it was due to her regularity at the house, or the fact that she seemed to take more after Faith than Buffy, enjoying walking around in the shortest of shorts, the tightest of baby doll tees. But when he realized a few days ago that his own glances where less than fatherly, he had tried to avoid looking at her, period. He knew it was terribly inappropriate, and his intelligent mind clearly understood and accepted this. Rather it was the other side, the twenty-eight year old male side that could not help but notice the young Miss Summers. And he was sure she was well aware of his glances. This was more or less confirmed as she ran her hand down the length of her leg and he nearly choked.

“Can you help me get inside?” She asked coquettishly.

“Troubles today?” he asked.

“It aches.” She frowned, and he immediately switched from drooling man to caring friend.

“Do you have your medication?” He asked, shutting off the car.

“Yeah, but I hate taking it, makes me sort of, out there, you know?” She replied opening her door, missing his nod of agreement.

*****

“Is that him?” Annie asked, running her hand through her short-cropped hair. Dawn looked over her co-workers shoulder, to see Holburn sitting on the bench in front of the store. He was looking at his hands, as if they were the most fascinating things in the world. And maybe they were. She wasn’t sure when it started happening, when he went from boring old Watcher to the hunky man sitting out there. With his blue eyes that seemed to really look at her, to the way his curly hair was getting longer as the summer progressed, even to his warm laughter. Yeah, he was fucking hot – as Faith would say.

“That’s him.” Dawn said looking back at her co-worker, and probably closest friend now. Everyone else Dawn used to hang with was away for the summer, to lakeside cabins, or trips to Europe. But not her, not poor Dawn Summers. She had to stay in Sunnyhell and get a job. And though she hated it in the beginning, she loved it now, the freedom it afforded her. And she had met cool people like Annie, who just seemed to get her quirkiness.

“He is cute.” Annie mused, and then moved back to continue folding concert tee shirts for the front display.

“Smart too.” Dawn followed up dreamily, and Annie looked at her, raising an eyebrow, be blue eyes looked over Dawn’s face.

“Smart too?” She chuckled. “I know, why don’t you go and talk to him?”

“Ack! What?” Dawn sputtered out, looking pale suddenly.

“You like him, he must like you, so go talk to him.”

“Um, no! Hello, he is like family or something. Isn’t that kind of gross?” Dawn asked, adding more Mardi Gras beads to the hook in front of her, detangling some as she took them from the shipping box.

“But he isn’t family. He is a man, and you are a woman. You have parts that go together. So, little bird, the question is, will you do something about getting the parts, together.” Annie winked and then walked back, deeper into the store.

Dawn thought about what she had said. They fit? They did seem to get along, and he always was listening to her, really listening. He knew all about her being the Key, but still treated her like he treated everyone else. And she believed that Annie knew what she was talking about, because she was older, and had experience with this kind of stuff. Plus she just seemed really cool.

Dawn knew Buffy would be of no help. She would probably flip out. Not to mention her track record was abysmal. From Vampires, to wanna be Solider-Slayers, the best relationship Buffy had ever had was Faith, and well, what Faith and her sister had was completely different she figured than what she might like with Holburn. She wanted to bypass all of the bad stuff, like attempted murder and stabbing.

But could it work, she wondered? Sure there was an age difference, but Angel had been two hundred years older than Buffy. God, Buffy and Faith would flip out!

Should she just try? Maybe go and talk to him? Maybe he was feeling the same confusing things she was? Why couldn’t things like this be as simple as they were in the movies?

Why was he sitting there?

*****

Why am I sitting here?

He asked himself. He knew why, he wanted to think, before heading back to the house and meeting with Faith for training. He wanted to ensure that he had a clear mind, because Faith could smell confusion and indecision like a Camel could smell water. And this was definitely something he did not want the Dark Slayer inquiring on. He knew she was dangerously protective of Dawn, having explained it to him once in a session they had. That Faith knew the memories where false, but that still, she had always felt this need to protect Dawn, much like Buffy. In confidence she also added, much to Holburn’s shock, that Faith viewed Dawn not as Buffy’s sister, but as her child, and therefore her mothering instincts seemed to roar when anything threatened the young Miss Summers’ safety.

In fact he had seen this side of Faith, while interacting with Dawn, and it amazed him. That some one with her past could so clearly love the young girl, and want to protect her was admirable. He had read cases where it had swung the other way, instead of the strength and devotion, there was found apathy.

No, Holburn was certain that Faith would butcher him alive if he dare lay a hand on Dawn in any other capacity than kinship. Shuttering lightly in the air-conditioned hall, he knew with out a doubt that when he said butcher, he meant butcher.

Glancing up, to look through the glass and see the gaudy display, the frightening examples of teenage angst and rebellion that fueled this place of employment for Dawn, he searched for her. To visually solidify his commitment. But she was gone. Standing he told himself, that she was a child, that this was harmless flirtation, and that he would move all thoughts of her that were of an intimate or romantic nature out of his mind. Friendship. That was all he would allow.

*****

The bell sounded over the door at the Magic Box and she looked up from the latest shipping manifests.

Not him.

It was just another rag tag customer. She had been busy with the end of summer kids, coming in to get the oddest things to upset their parents prior to starting the school year. Honestly, she had to admit to herself that ever since the shop had been fixed up after Willow’s last rampage, that business had been booming.

Anya partially wondered if that had something to do with the fact that the Slayer and her followers were no longer hanging out here all day, sitting at the table. Well, they actually couldn’t sit at the table. It too had been destroyed and perhaps that was for the best. She certainly did not need a daily reminder of what had taken place on that table. Not now. Not that she was feeling love again for Xander.

So where was he? He knew that she wanted him to come early, to spend time with her, and move a case of rare white muskbat guano that had come in the day before. She knew they discussed this, that very morning over his large breakfast and her small piece of toast. He was supposed to come three hours before Willow was due to leave.

She knew Xander was upset about her leaving, he had essentially stopped talking to Willow, and even to the Slayers since the announcement, and Anya could not figure out why. This was a good thing in her mind. Someone from the inside of the group getting into the bowels of the Council, seeing what those sneaky bastards were up to. She never did trust them, especially not after the scandal of 1644. She smiled fondly at the memory, but snapped out of it. She was mad, darn it.

Where was Xander?

*****

She sat down on the couch, holding the photograph in her hands. Her suitcases were staked by the door. She wasn’t taking many, two for clothes, and one was empty for when she came back, with gifts and mementos. This was really it. Willow was going to England. She was going to get on a plane and fly twelve hours, halfway across the world. And for what? For knowledge? For a job?

“Well, Tara, this is it.” She ran her thumb over the picture’s smiling face. “We always talked about going.” She lifted her head, looking around the apartment, at the white sheets that were covering the furniture, the floors. “And I guess we are.”

*****

There was a quiet to the air. It was heavy, hot, and seemed to muffle the sound of the cars on the street, the fall of his shoes as he walked. The afternoon was unbearable, and for the second time in as many minutes he ran his forearm over his brow.

What am I doing?

Xander slipped through the leaning door of the decrepit building, internally questioning himself, but seeming unable to stop himself from doing it.

*****

The air conditioner clicked on loudly enough to nearly mask the sound of her office door being opened, then closed. Buffy began turning around when hands grabbed her shoulders, spinning her, and lips were on hers forcefully. She was surprised, but not in a bad way. Faith’s hands were in her hair, pulling their mouths tightly together, as the younger Slayer just devoured her. It was as though Faith were starving, and Buffy’s mouth was an eight-course meal.

“Wow,” Buffy said, as they broke apart for breath, her hands going to her lips, touching them, feeling the tingle on them. That was one hell of a kiss. “Um tough slaying?” She asked Faith, who stood breathing a little heavy in front of her.

“No slaying.” Faith said moving to kiss her again, this time strong pecks, just presses of her lips along Buffy’s jaw.

“Harsh work out?” She managed to get out, wondering what had come over her lover. Faith was passionate, yes, but this? This was as needy as they both had been the night in the cemetery.

“No work out.” Faith whispered, conquering Buffy’s earlobe.

“Not complaining here, but what?” She breathed out, having to cup her arm around Faith’s back to remain standing.

“Just you, just you.” Faith cooed, and Buffy melted in her arms.

“Oh.” Buffy turned her face and began nipping at Faith’s neck, “You smell like garlic.”

“Spaghetti day.” She offered and she kissed her way around Buffy’s face. Faith licked and sucked the back of Buffy’s neck “You taste like glue.”

“Binding day.” Buffy sighed.

“I want you Buffy.” She growled out, and all Buffy could do was moan in reply.

Faith pushed a stack of books from the desk, where they had been staked in order for her to deal with them. They fell with a thud to the floor.

“I needed to put those away.” Buffy said, without conviction, how could she really care about the books, when Faith’s mouth was on her, when her hands were mapping out her body.

“I’ll help later, they were in the way.” She gripped Buffy’s waist, lifting her to the edge of the hard wood desk, and Buffy spread her legs to accommodate Faith who slipped between them. Buffy pulled Faith into another kiss, feeling the brunette’s hands slowly moving up her legs, under the long skirt. Strong fingers grasped flesh as they moved up Buffy’s thighs. Smiling into the kiss she waited for Faith’s fingers to reach her center. Buffy felt Faith’s knees buckle as her fingers glided against Buffy’s sex, sans panties.

“Oh, God, B.” Faith groaned, and Buffy knew that Faith liked her surprise. As she pushed up the long caramel skirt, Faith dropped completely to her knees. Her mouth was kissing the cap of Buffy’s knee, before moving up her thigh, biting and sucking. “I always wanted you in the library.”

*****

This was weird and fucking awkward. All of them standing around, not talking, and just looking at everything else but each other. What did these people need to get their shit together? I mean I came back and I stayed to help them all, and what did they do? They went and got all weird on me again! How the hell was I supposed to fix this? I am sorry, but Christ, the name on the business card is Faith, Vampire Slayer, not Faith, Dr. Phil Wanna Be.

I sipped the cup of coffee in my hand, standing back from them, watching. B was leaning against one of the pillars, still all dressed up for work, her hair up in a messy bun, in that hot white blouse, that long, so so long caramel colored skirt, with her knee high leather boots just peaking out. My stomach constricted, and before I could stop myself I counted out the seconds it would take for me to drag her to the bathroom across the airport concourse.

Down Faith.

It was tough. Like this afternoon, I had just been thinking about her, on my way to training when it washed over me, the need to be with her, to touch her. God, I was fucking addicted to her. She was my everything. And she was looking like someone killed her dog, and I mean, ran it over with a big fucking Mac truck. This was messing with her, Red leaving.

But if she was sad, then what the hell was with Xander? He was standing there, beside Anya’s chair as the little blonde demon was prattling on about having to close the shop early, and that she would be missing out on the last minute rushes, or some other bullshit. He was tuning her out, just like I was. He was instead looked at Red, hands shoved in his pockets. And the look on his face wasn’t sadness. Hell, I wasn’t sure what it was.

And what was the deal with Kiddo and HS? He had his nose stuffed in the newspaper, all folded, you know, like they do in the moves, but he hadn’t turned the page in about twenty minutes. He kept looked at everybody, but especially over at Kiddo, who in her own right was smacking on gum, and flipping through one of those teen dream magazines, like she was at home or something.

The Wicca herself was looking dejected and despondent.

Hmm. Like the big words today I see. Ah Shut it!

Sitting in the hard plastic chair, hands in her lap, her eyes a little sad as she watched the other passengers who were milling around. There was a family a little ways over, and Red seemed to like watching them the most.

Ah, fuck it, this was bullshit.

I strutted over, and sat down next to Red, slinging my arm over her shoulder, pulling her close to me.

“What the fuck is your problem, Red?” I snarled. B tensed, I could feel it without looking directly at her.

“I’ll miss you too, Faith.” Red grinned and did the damnest thing. She leaned fully into me, setting her cheek on my chest.

“Oh, okay.” I sputtered, all my cocky bravado out the window.

“You’ll take care of all of them for me?” She asked, not moving.

“You know I will.” I grinned, kind of liking the feel of her wrapped up on me. She moved her arms around my body, pulling me tighter. This hugging thing, it wasn’t that bad.

“She loves you, never forget that. Never take it for granted.” She was whispering now, but Slayer hearing. I got the message. I also got the other message, that she still felt bad over Tara. Not that I blamed her. If anything ever happened to Buffy I didn’t know what I would do.

“I won’t let her forget, Wills.” Buffy said, squatting in front of us, setting her hands on Willow’s knees.

"You guys do realize if we get any closer, HS will faint, fucking again, and Xander will have to get a magazine to hide his-"

“Faith!” B snapped at me, but there was love in the snap, so I just grinned.

“I’m going to miss you, Wills. We all are. But I know that you need to do this, right now. Just don’t forget that this is your home, okay? Don’t forget that we love you.” Buffy was near tears, and I was proud of her for it holding together for this long.

“I know Buffy.”

“NOW BOARDING FLIGHT V154, LEAVING SUNNYDALE FOR LONDON, HEATHROW, AT GATE M7.” The toneless voice announced over the PA.

“Guess that’s me.” Willow said, letting me go and sitting up.

In a move that surprised I think everybody, especially me, I took her chin in my hand, “You give them hell for us, you hear me Willow?” Then I leaned forward and brushed my lips against her cheek. I had no clue where the impulse came from, but it did, and then it was over, and B was staring at me, then at Willow, who’s hand went to her cheek. I shrugged it off, standing up.

“Whatever that was, and whoever possessed my girlfriend,” Buffy winked at me, “I agree, on all counts.” She pulled Red into a Slayer hug, and I chuckled as Red’s eyes bugged out a little. Then B released her. “And don’t get any ideas, those lips are reserved for me, property of Buffy Summers.” She grinned, and I puffed up just a little more.

Red turned and was nearly knocked over by Dawn who hugged her in the Dawn way, all arms and legs everywhere. When that girl was going to remember she was sixteen not ten, I would never know. But it was cute, her exuberance. She was mumbling something to Red, and I just shut off the super hearing, some things I just didn’t need to hear.

B took my arm in her hands and we moved back a little to watch.

“She’s going to be okay right?” She asked me.

“You kidding? This is Red. She is going to be great. From what HS told me, they are thrilled she is coming, and she is going to love London, and all the libraries.” I told her smiling, loving the feel of her as she leaned against my side.

“You’re right. You are always right.” She looked up at me. “How did you get to be always right? Me, older, wiser,”

“Sexier?” I offered wiggling my eyebrows at her.

“I don’t know about that,” she smiled that secret smile, the one just for me.

“I’ll show you later.” I winked.

She nodded and we turned to watch as Xander hugged Red tightly, burying his face in her hair. He looked like he was actually feeling something now. He kissed her forehead and then handed her a small box. Poor guy, he just seemed off lately. Maybe I needed to spend some quality time, bonding or some other random shit. Could it be that he just was feeling left out? I knew how much that sucked.

Anya hugged her like it was going out of style, and then even HS pulled her into a light hug. I could measure the distance with a ruler. The guy was loosening up some, but damn he had a ways to go.

All of us some how came together in a huddle and watched as Willow picked up her carry on, slinging it over her shoulder.

“I guess I’m off.” She shrugged, and then smiled, her crooked Willow smile. “Be good, and keep the Hellmouth, well, you know, still here, for when I come home.” She looked over her shoulder to the gate, and then back to us. “This is me going now, before I loose my resolve. And no crying.” She looked pointedly at B who tightened up a little more, swallowing the tears that I knew would come later tonight. She turned around and walked away, her head held high. That was Red, strong. I hoped that when she came back she would be strong on the inside too.

*****

She was preening in front of the large mirror in the living room. She just couldn’t help it, and she knew that he was watching her. She ran her hands up her sides again, behind her neck and flipped her hair away from her neck, all the while watching him in the mirror as he stood in the entryway, transfixed.

Annie must be right, if he was watching her that intently, then he must be interested, right? Dawn was really beginning to believe it to be true. She was glad that Buffy and Faith had left together earlier, so that Buffy could get to school, and so Dawn could hold fast to her “no way in hell was she going to be seen with her sister who is the librarian rule.”

It was also good because that meant Holburn would be driving her to school, and she would have him all to herself. She turned to get a side view in the mirror, thrusting out her chest, and checking herself out, the way she had seen Faith do it a couple of times. She wished she had a body like Faith’s, even though the Slayer kept telling her that her body was more than perfect for who she was, that it fit her.

Well, I guess I will see about that.

She walked over to Holburn who was waiting patiently.

“Already, then are we?” he asked in that lyrical accent that made her skin just want to sing along.

“Almost.” She said, slipping her bag over her shoulder and stepping directly into his personal space. “HS?”

“Erm, yes?” He asked.

“When are you going to kiss me?” She asked using the words that Annie told her would do the trick.

“I dare say what?” He took a bumbling step back running his right hand through his hair.

“If you faint again I promise to wake you with mouth to mouth this time.” She was trying to lower her voice, make it gravelly, but to her it just sounded like she had a cold or something.

“Dawn!” He shrieked.

This was not going well. Time for Annie’s big guns.

Dawn stepped closer to him, and Holburn was essentially trapped against the wall, she snaked her arms around his neck and leaning up pressed her lips against his.

*****

Bubblegum and strawberries.

Slayers with knives.

Holburn pushed Dawn away, gently but strong enough to make it very clear to her that this was not going to be happening, that he valued his life. She looked up at him, with her wide blue eyes, slowly filling with tears. It crushed his heart to see her in this obvious pain. He wanted to tell her that he wanted to kiss her back, but that it was wrong, that there was no way that this could happen. It was simply unacceptable for him to become involved in a relationship with one not only so young, but also the sister of a Slayer. They were to be as a family, but certainly not paring off.

Bubblegum.

"Dawn, please. Let me explain this to you. I am very flattered. -" He moved to touch her arm, but she spun away from him and her agonized howl cut off his words. She ran through the front door that shook the windows with the strength of closing slam. “Oh, dear.” He ran his hand through his hair, nervously.

*****

“Are you ready, baby girl?” Veronica asked, running her fingers through Jane’s long dark hair.

“Very.” She sighed up at her, getting lost in her eyes, that twinkled with a little bit of mischief, and darkness, and Jane loved that.

“Good. Tonight is when we start.” Veronica kissed her nose gently.

“Sire?”

“Hmm.”

“Why are you doing this, for me?” Jane asked, looking through the darkness of the bedroom, deep in the basement of this place.

“For you?”

“Really?” Jane did not believe her.

“Yes, and well, maybe a little bit for me too.” Veronica grinned, before leaning in, to bite Jane’s neck, marking her, just because she could.

*****

The sun was high, and it was getting down right hot, even at the middle of the day. But to Buffy there could be molten lava on the street and she would walk through it to get to where she was going. She kicked off her shoes, picking them up and continuing bare foot, across the soft warm grass of Weaverly Park, her destination in sight.

“Hey, how was the morning half of your first day?” Faith asked, looking up as Buffy approached the checkered blanket that was laid out on the ground. Faith was sitting in the sun, squinting up, with two brown sack lunch bags beside her, and a metal thermos of something.

“Better now that you are here.” Buffy sat down, already weary from the school day. Who knew kids were so loud and obnoxious? Oh, right, she did. But why couldn’t she just slay them all?

“Charmer.” Faith grinned.

“Feed me, please!” Buffy pleaded, leaning to kiss Faith, but the brunette, moved away. “What?”

“Kids, B.” Faith nodded towards the playground.

“So?” Buffy sat back. This was a new and odd turn of events.

“Just, kids should get to be kids sometimes you know, without the baggage of wondering what something is.” Faith summed up, but Buffy looked at her in confusion. “Those kids, they see us, and they ask their Dad there,” she pointed. He looked like a normal Dad. “What if he is all homophobic or something, telling the kids it's wrong, from this early age they grow up thinking it's wrong. That will just confuse them.” She shrugged. “Don’t be mad, I’d love to kiss you right now.”

“I’m not mad, maybe a little disappointed, but never mad.”

“Good.”

“So what did St. Michael’s make too much of today?” She asked tearing into the bag.

“Nothing fancy, B. Just PB and J.”

“Good enough for me.” Buffy smiled, and then took a bite.

“Milk in the thermos, just in case. It’s hotter en hell out here today.”

“Thank you by the way for getting us some shade.”

“Any thing for you B, you know that.”

*****

She was laboring with her bags, moving towards the row of phone booths after she got out of customs at Heathrow. She swiped her credit card, and dialed the number that she had been dialing once a day for seven years. The machine picked up, and she sighed, before speaking.

“I got here okay, little tired, little frazzled, but okay I guess. Feeling woozy, but the steward said that was probably adjusting the new climate or something. Damn, it is the middle of the day isn’t it? Well have fun at school, everyone, well but Faith. So Hi Faith. Yeah, I am a little off. I will call later. I love you guys.”

*****

Shit.

My entire body cringed inward when I saw that. Son of bitch, what made him think that he could do something like that! He only swung once, only connected his palm against the little boy’s bottom, but it was enough. For that instant I saw it, heard it. Spinning right into my memories.

“Faith?”

I could hear B, but not see her. No, all I saw was his shadow filling the doorway, the slow motion dance of the belt being jerked from the loops on his black, dusty chino pants.

I shook my head, opening my eyes and looked into her wide green ones. She was so patient with me, so understanding. She knew there was something back there, she knew it was dark and ugly and that it followed me around, but she never pressured me.

“B, I think it's time I told you something.”

*****

“I, erm, I never told anyone that before.” Faith finished, moving herself on the swing, pushing with the toes of her boots, which she was finding fascinating.

“Faith, I am so sorry, baby.” They had walked around the park, while Faith talked, telling her about her childhood. That Faith’s her real father had died mysteriously when she was only three years old. The Slayer had glossed over some of it, but Buffy got the hint that he might have been murdered, and that Faith had witnessed the act. What seemed to be the worse came later, with her Mother’s drinking, and then her remarriage when Faith was ten. She had spoken emotionlessly, like reading stereo instructions, telling Buffy how her stepfather had raped her, and how her Mother was physically abusive as well. The map of scars on Faith’s body had become visibly clear to Buffy as she spoke, and all she wanted to do was hold Faith in her arms, and love all the pain and darkness away.

“No, it’s cool. I mean it’s okay,” She looked up at Buffy, fear in her eyes. “It’s not a big deal right?”

“It’s a big deal, Faith. But it doesn’t change how I feel about you. Nothing ever could.” Buffy said with a sad smile. She wasn’t sure what more she could do, so she just took Faith’s hand and squeezed it. “I love you Faith.”

“Love you too, B.” Faith grinned, her goofy smile. “I better go get the Kiddo, and you had better go get those overdue books checked in. Slaying for you later too.” Faith winked.

“Can I come by tonight?” Buffy asked as Faith stood, brushing her hands off on her black jeans. She looked up at Buffy and cocked an eyebrow.

“I hope so. In case you didn’t notice, B, I’m fucking in love with you. You know the kind where I get a little nuts if I don’t see you all the time?” Her voice was sarcastic, but the words were ringing true for Buffy and she was thrilled.

“Same for me,” they were alone over here, near the swings, so Buffy kissed her chastely on the lips. “See you.”

“Count on it.” Faith grinned and waving over her shoulder walked out of the park.

*****

“How could you do that to me!” Dawn shrieked, the moment she found Annie in the back room of the store. She had rushed over after class, her first day a blur of humiliation after what she had done in the hall with Holburn. She had spent the entire day going over it all in her mind, and she was sure that it was all Annie’s fault.

“Do what?” Annie scoffed, looking at Dawn like she was a crazy person.

“You know exactly what! You told me to go for it, you told me what to do.”

“So? You were the idiot who did it.” She turned to Dawn, grinning, “You stupid girl, who would want you any way?”

Dawn pulled back and slapped her squarely across the face. But Annie barely moved.

“You might have to hit harder, Dawnie.” Annie slid into game face.

“You’re a vampire?”

“You stupid fuck! Took you long enough to figure it out. I mean, what a fucking loser you are. They told me your sister was the Slayer. God, she told me you would be easy, but this?” She threw her hands in the air.

“Who?” Dawn asked, backing up against the wall.

“Like I am going to tell you, you twat. All you need to know is that they are coming for the Slayers, and they will pay. You all will.” Annie said.

“So, you aren’t going to bite me?” Dawn whimpered now, all of her humiliation gone, there was nothing but fear, because she had no idea how she was going to get out of here.

“Never said that.” Annie lunged forward, for Dawn’s neck, while her hand silenced the scream from her lips. Dawn felt the stabbing pain, reaching down like spikes through her body. Then she was falling, and looking up saw Annie wiping her mouth with the back of her hand. “You even taste like shit! Who is ever going to want you?”

*****

I was pissed. I paced in front of her. My jaw started to ache from the amount of clenching that I was doing. Not only did that bitch play Kiddo, and the things she said to her, pretty much knocking her into the fucking ground, but that dirty fucking cunt had the mother fucking nerve to touch her, to stick her fucking rotten teeth into that skin, in to our Dawn’s skin. She took her blood and some of her innocence and I was fucking livid!

She was sobbing now, terrified of just about everything, and probably even me as I was a ball of rage right now. I dropped to my knees in front of her, pulling her tightly into my arms. She started shaking even harder.

Oh, that bitch was so much dust.

“It’s okay, baby, it’s okay.” I rocked her a little, holding her in this musty storage room, in the back of the store.

“Where’s Buffy?” She asked into my shoulder.

“She wanted to start patrol early. Don’t worry, HS is coming to take you home and stay there with you.”

“Not a good idea.” She mumbled under her breath, but I heard it. I frowned, knowing Kiddo had a major league crush on the guy. Guess I would have to make sure to set him straight on that point.

“Don’t worry, Kiddo. This bitch, you ain’t ever gonna see her again.”

*****

“Well, my my my. If it isn’t the fastest fist in the west.” A voice rang out and Buffy turned on her heel, seeing Jane standing at the end of the alley. It was shocking to see her. Buffy hadn’t seen her all summer, not since that night behind the bar.

“Jane.” She breathed, and it was nearly a sigh of relief, that the young woman was not –

Vampire.

“Seems you went and changed on me.” Buffy said, angry at herself, angry at the world. Jane never deserved this. And now, now she would be forced to do something about it. Vampire, Slayer, Dead Vampire. That was how it worked. But God, it had been so long for her, so long since she had been forced to stake someone she knew before they were turned.

“I needed a fresh start.” Jane shrugged, walking closer. "You know, got dumped, felt used-"

“You were a whore.” Buffy mumbled, but smiling knowing Jane would hear her.

“I sure was, and Honey you have got one hell of a tab to settle.” Jane lunged forward, but Buffy blocked her. They began trading hard blows. Which surprised Buffy, she never knew the girl could fight. Jane gave her a solid move, a roundhouse, but Buffy just dodged, and then countered with a right hook, connecting solidly with her jaw. Jane stumbled back. “I just wasn’t good enough for you, is that it?” Jane asked, sweeping her legs away. Buffy was down, but flipped up to her feet, swinging.

“You can’t even begin to get close to what she is.”

Jane sent a kick to her head, but Buffy countered with a fist to the stomach. Jane went to elbow her, but Buffy caught the arm, and flipped her over. She landed on her back with a groan, and Buffy straddled her. Buffy hadn’t even started to sweat. It was going to be painfully easy. Jane bucked her hips.

“You want one last go, for old times sake, Slayer?”

“Never. I told you that before.”

“Well, I also recall how many times you came looking for it.” Buffy cringed. She needed to do this, and do it now.

“Good night, Jane.”

She lifted the stake over her head and brought it down.

*****

I turned around the corner, feeling B, probably just a few blocks over. Which was good, because aside from me feeling extremely pissed off at this Annie bitch, I was feeling that ache in my heart from not seeing B every minute.

It was scary, but in a good way, this need to be with her this feeling of complete love I felt for her. I grinned, anticipating the feel of her in my arms.

*****

“Oh, God!, I am sorry. I- I” Buffy mumbled on her knees, running her fingers through the dust. Even her slightest touch disintegrated it completely. It had just overwhelmed her, the look in Jane’s eyes as the stake hit her heart. Knowing that in an instant her life, or un-life was over. And it was by Buffy’s hand. She had done so much damage to that girl, and it was probably her fault that Jane had gotten turned. If only she had protected her, if only she had gotten her the help she needed to get off of the streets.

Buffy was a murderer, again.

“She was evil. You needed to get it done.”

"What? Who-" Buffy turned, her eyes wide.

“It is done.”

“I should have been able to handle it, not falling apart like this.” Buffy sobbed.

“Look at you, you can’t handle anything right now.” Arms went around her, lifting her to her feet, and she set her head against their shoulder. “I am here now.”

*****

My boots froze to the ground, my hands that were swinging stilled. My face was pointed down the alley. I was seeing.

My eyes were screaming, pounding and echoing inside of my mind. This wasn’t real, none of it was. I couldn’t be seeing this. This was not happening, this could not be happening. I couldn’t be alive and seeing this…

...continued in Back...

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