The Dreams of Ice Angels
by Snoe
Rating: R

Disclaimer: I don't own anything. And I probably never will.
Author's Notes: Remember me promising to write a happy story? This is it! Or as far as I can get to making it sorta happy.
Dedication: To Live, cause she said I broke her heart with my last story so I made this ending happy...and to Sam for begging me for a happy story (see what begging can do??) :)
Feedback: Oh yeah…please feed me!

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PART 1

The girl jumped onto the bed and came to rest next to the blonde who threw her an incredulous look. Faith grinned and leaned over, kissing the blonde girl swiftly before rolling over onto her back. She let out a happy sigh and brought her hands behind her head, staring at the ceiling.

"It's freezing outside you guys," she smiled, no one missing the obvious excitement in her voice.

"And that's a good thing?" Buffy asked, looking at her best friend across the room and rolling her eyes. Ever since they'd gotten here to Vermont for their trip a day ago Faith had spent most of her time outside, freezing her ass off. The other Scoobies had immediately retreated to their joint room and wrapped themselves in all the blankets they could find and refused to set foot outside.

"Ah, come on you guys…there's snow everywhere, the weather is nice…we should hit the slopes," Faith said, sitting up and looking at her girlfriend pleadingly. If anyone were to give in it'd be Buffy, but the blonde was shaking her head with that look of hers that said 'no way'.

"Faith, it's like negative twenty degrees out there…and unlike you we aren't used to the cold. Not to mention that none of us are too great on skies or snowboards. Can't you wait until tomorrow?" the blonde tried to reason with Faith, sitting up as well and glancing to her friends for some help.

"Uh yeah…," Xander fell in, trying to help Buffy, "it's gonna get dark soon. We should start falling and rolling down hills on a brand new day."

Buffy could only smile softly at the boy's comment and look over to Willow, who wore the same expression. The brunette girl sighed and stood up slowly, shrugging at them and then walked over to the closet, where she'd thrown her suitcase earlier.

"Fine…you California-people sit in here and be bored. I'm gonna go try out my snowboard."

Digging through some clothes, the brunette emerged dressed in baby-blue snow pants and a matching ski-jacket, receiving only open-mouthed stares from her friends.

"Oh my god, Faith. Are you alright? There are pastels on your body! You'll burn!" Xander screeched and caused a round of laughter in the room, all except for Faith who only rolled her eyes at him.

"You're only jealous that you didn't win the contest, X-man," Faith retorted and walked over back to her and Buffy's bed, searching for her sunglasses.

Xander thought of a comment to throw back at her, but she was kinda right. Not that he was complaining; Faith had participated in some stupid contest probably three months ago and none of them would've ever believed her to win. But just two weeks ago came the notice that she'd won a seven day trip for six to a ski-resort in Vermont, along with a complete set of snowboarding equipment (including the outfit, which, according to Faith, didn't come in any other colors). After talking to Giles for a long time they'd finally decided to take the trip, after all, they deserved it for all the world saving they'd been doing.

"Faith, please be careful honey…and be back at seven, we're going to dinner," Buffy looked at the brunette, making sure Faith was actually hearing her and then smiled at the girl.

Faith leaned down, pressing a gentle kiss onto the blonde's lips and then stood up with a smile, "No prob, B. I'll be back before you know it. Try not to have too much fun!"

After the brunette left, the rest of the Scoobies were at a loss of what to do. Finally Xander mentioned having seen a hot-tub earlier, and although the four girls knew why he was suggesting, they still figured it was a good idea. After agreeing that they'd tie Xander to a lounge chair outside the tub, they changed into their swim suits and left.

*****

Faith stood at the top of the hill, looking around to find which slope was nicer. There were few people out, the wind chill had driven down the temperature and most of the resort guests were sitting in their spacious rooms around the fireplace or lounging in the hot-tub. The brunette looked to her side and saw an empty slope, the sign 'Expert' next to it and she grinned. Sure, she'd only been snowboarding for an hour, but she used to go all the time when she was living in Boston. She wasn't someone to back down from a challenge, not to mention that she hated having to steer around crying, little kids in pink ski outfits racing down the hill without knowing how to stop. The expert slope was empty, it didn't look like anyone had been on it all day and Faith put the sunglasses over her eyes with a smile. Seconds later she was snowboarding into the first part of the expert slope.

*****

Relaxing, the girl closed her eyes and leaned her head back. This was definitely paradise. Well, it would be if Faith was with her, but this had to do for now. Buffy stretched her fingers, amazed at the way they tingled in the hot water and yawned. It was strange how five minutes in a hot-tub could suck the energy from your body like that. She'd closed her eyes, not only to relax but also because she knew Anya would pounce on Xander the first chance she got…the ex-demon had heard that it was like a rule for every couple to make out in a hot-tub at least once. Buffy could only suppress a groan at that and hope Faith would come back from snowboarding early and let her have her own chance to follow the rule.

*****

She stood, looking across the treetops with a smile on her face. The snow was glittering on the treetops, the sun warm and bright. Faith wasn't even half-way through the slope, but she was nearing exhaustion now and figured she'd just go back to the room after this round. She was hoping that maybe Buffy would be up for some hot-tub fun; Faith had no doubt they could scare away all those little kids and teenagers that usually hung around those things like flies around lights.

Wiping a bare hand across her forehead, Faith realized she was already sweating from the snowboarding and the warm sun burning down on her. She unzipped her jacket, letting the air sweep through the sweatshirt she was wearing underneath and sighed. Glancing at the watch on her wrist, Faith was surprised to find that it was already past 6 PM and if she wanted to make it to dinner she'd have to hurry up.

She leaned forward and the snowboard immediately moved into action, shooting down the snow-covered hill.

*****

They'd gotten back from the hot-tub about ten minutes ago and she was still drying off her hair when Willow came running into the room, shouting something. Buffy stepped out of the bathroom and looked at her best friend with a concerned expression, as did Tara who'd gotten off the bed to walk over to the door.

"What is it Will?" Buffy asked, dumping the towel on a heap next to the bathroom door and ran a hand through her hair.

"They just closed the slopes…there's like a major snow storm moving in," the redhead exclaimed, looking at Buffy as if the blonde should start getting worried as well.

"Well, Faith said she'd be back by 7…it's already 6:30 so I'm sure she'll be okay. It usually takes a while for those storms to actually manifest themselves," Buffy shrugged, walking over to the nightstand next to her and Faith's bed. She picked up the silver necklace Faith had given her for their one year anniversary and fastened it around her neck.

As she turned back around Willow had already calmed down and was discussing which shirt to wear with her girlfriend. Buffy smiled and walked over to the windows of their room that overlooked the slopes. She stared out into the snow covered landscape and wished Faith would hurry up and come back to her.

*****

It was getting colder again, it had started snowing and Faith was wishing she'd actually remembered to take a hat. There was snow in her hair, melting on her and she felt a little colder than earlier. But it was getting late and she didn't want to miss dinner, she just wanted to be back with her girlfriend. The sky was darkening and she wasn't sure whether it was a storm or just simply getting dark; no matter what, though, she wasn't all that sure about where she was going anymore.

Faith steered her board to the left, thinking she saw the trees that had lined the slope to her right and moved to take off her sunglasses; the sun had pretty much vanished and they were just hindering her in seeing. As she removed the glasses she suddenly hit a bump in the slope and her board turned itself, shooting straight for the grayness in front of her. Faith pushed against the board, willing it to move back to the right to avoid impact with the trees, but even she didn't have enough power to do that. A line of trees appeared in front of her face suddenly and she tried to fall over to stop hitting them, but a branch caught her jacket as she slithered past. Faith was jerked back, the impact causing her to practically be shrugged out of her jacket and she fell over onto her back, the board never stopping as it raced down the hill past the trees dangerously.

She tried to grab onto something, but it was impossible as she was lying on her back, willing the board to stop. Straightening out her legs, Faith hoped to slow down by creating enough friction, but the board seemed to have none of it. She was almost turned sideways when the board slammed full-force into one of the trees, cracking the board and Faith felt hot, burning pain shoot up her right leg, right before she was spun around and slid down the hill until her body collided less harshly with a couple of trees that split the slope in two.

Lying in dead silence the brunette groaned, lifting her head to try and see if maybe she could slide down the rest of the slope to the resort, but there was nothing in her field of view but a furry of snowflakes. She sat up slowly, reaching for her leg and winced as she moved. It was definitely broken and Faith almost laughed at her bad luck. The girl tentatively leaned over and loosened the straps on her feet, then pushed the cracked snowboard aside. Figuring it was better for her to sit up, considering she'd lost her jacket and her sweatshirt was already wet from being dragged around on the snow, Faith leaned against one of the trees behind her, trying not to move her leg at all.

Wrapping her arms around herself, Faith hoped someone, anyone would find her before she froze into a living ice cube.

PART 2

"Buffy, come on…we're gonna be late," Willow urged, grabbing her friend's arm and the blonde looked at the witch with a concerned expression.

"But…Faith's not back…what if something happened?" she asked softly, wanting to be reassured that everything was alright, but she didn't want to lie to herself.

"She was probably having so much fun she decided to go again. You know Faith, she tends to forget times…we'll leave a note and let her know we're going downstairs to the restaurant. She can join us when she gets back," the redhead reasoned and sighed in relief as Buffy finally nodded.

The four Scoobies watched as Buffy scribbled a quick note and laid it onto the bed, then followed them out the door.

*****

"Cold, cold…fucking cold," Faith mumbled under her breath and stuffed her hands into the pockets of her sweatshirt. She'd already drawn the hood over her head, hoping for some protection, but the whole sweatshirt was basically soaked. A cold wind was blowing across the slope and she'd started shivering not too long after she'd crashed against the tree. Not to mention that her leg was throbbing like a bitch.

She closed her eyes and tried not to fall asleep. She was so tired; Faith had already been exhausted before crashing, but now she was ready to fall into bed and snuggle up next to her girlfriend. Her eyes snapped open as she thought about Buffy. Glancing at her watch the brunette realized she was already half an hour late to dinner, she hoped Buffy wouldn't be mad at her. Buffy would worry, the blonde always worried, Faith reasoned and hoped that her girlfriend would be worried enough to have someone come find her.

*****

As soon as they opened the door, darkness surrounded them. She switched on the light and the breath caught in her throat as she saw the room was empty. Now they couldn't deny something was wrong and Buffy frantically ran over to her bed, seeing her note untouched on the bed. She turned around, looking at the face of her best friend and then at the clock. It was 8:30, the sun was almost completely gone and Faith was still not here.

"Willow," Buffy breathed, looking into the eyes of her best friend, hoping they'd feel the same way now, "something happened. Something happened to Faith."

The redhead gave her a pained look and then nodded slowly. She watched as the blonde sat down on the edge of the bed, resting her head in her hands and Willow walked over, wrapping an arm around Buffy's shoulders, "Come on Buffy, we'll go notify Mountain Rescue. They'll find her…She'll be okay Buffy."

Throwing a quick glance to her friends and girlfriend, the witch stood up, leading her best friend towards the door. Buffy took a deep breath, knowing that she couldn't just break down now, she had to find Faith. Upon having Xander, Anya and Tara promise them to notify them if there was any news from Faith, the two girls left to notify the Rescue team.

*****

She'd barely managed to imbed the snowboard in the ground in front of her to ward of some of the biting wind that was coming her way. Faith was lying on the frozen snow, scooting as close to the board as possible without moving her leg and tried to take a deep breath. She could've sworn she was able to move just an hour ago; her legs felt like concrete and not even being a slayer gave her the strength to lift them. She just wanted Buffy, wanted to be safe in those arms.

Her last thought was of the blonde before she closed her eyes and drifted into unconsciousness.

*****

"Buffy, no you can't!" Willow was nearing hysterics, trying anything and everything to keep her friend from doing something stupid.

The blonde was picking up the skies from the ground, zipping up her thick jacket and pulled a hat over her head. She looked at Willow and shook her head. They'd just come from talking to Mountain Rescue and the blonde hadn't been very happy, to say the least. The guy had informed them that since there was such a bad storm, he didn't want to risk sending in the chopper. And although most Mountain Rescue volunteers had agreed to search the mountain on skies and snowmobiles, it was very risky and could take a while.

So Buffy had figured it was her duty to go out and find Faith herself. She'd explained to Willow that she'd be sure to take a cellphone, so she could notify the rescuers in case she found Faith. But the Wicca didn't like the idea one bit and she tried to stop her friend again. But it really was no use…Buffy was set on going. And Willow could only watch as her friend walked towards the ski-lift that hadn't been turned off due to the fear of it freezing and hoped she wouldn't lose two of her good friends.

*****

The wind was cold as it blew snowflakes into her face, making her squint. Buffy turned slowly, wishing she could just miraculously find the slope Faith had gone down. It was completely empty up on the peak now, the slopes had been closed and all the resort guests had horded back into the large hotel. The falling snow had covered pretty much all tracks of people skiing or snowboarding and Buffy feared she wasn't going to find her girlfriend.

She suppressed to urge to just break down and cry at the thought of losing Faith and glanced at the big map of to the side. It showed the mountain and labeled sections and parts of the slopes. The blonde took a closer look, having a hard time reading in the twilight and then stopped as she saw something. As she turned her head she saw the sign positioned in front of the slope and Buffy wondered if she was right in her assumption. She knew that Faith would never pass up a challenge, and an expert slope was definitely a challenge.

For just a second she considered going back to the Rescue-station and notifying the rescuers of her thought, but it vanished just as soon as it had appeared. She couldn't leave her girlfriend's life in someone else's hands. Buffy slowly skied over to the slope, praying that her lack of skills wasn't going to get her injured or something and pushed off the ledge.

*****

Buffy stopped as the slope ebbed off a little, leaving her standing next to what looked like a small forest to her. She'd been skiing down the hill for a good forty minutes now; she had tried to go as slow as possible, mainly to avoid injury but also to not miss Faith if she were hurt somewhere. But the search seemed futile, maybe her hunch about the expert slope had been completely wrong. She just hoped someone else would find her girlfriend before it was too late.

Pushing off again, she skied along the row of trees, hoping to avoid collision and if she hadn't been so close to the tree she never would've seen the baby-blue ski-jacket hanging off a heavy branch. The breath caught in Buffy's throat as she slowed down, pulling the jacket off the tree and stared at it. Faith wasn't here, not anywhere the blonde could see her anyway and it worried her deeply. She was slowly sliding down the hill, clutching the jacket tightly in her gloved hand and hoping to be able to find her girlfriend.

Suddenly the slope split in two, rows of trees growing in the middle of the once larger hill and Buffy idly wondered which side to take. First she'd had to choose a slope and now a direction, her chance of making an error was getting larger by the second. Buffy decided on left and steered her skies to the left, but when she saw the bright yellow design to her right, the same one she knew was on Faith's snowboard she stopped so fast she thought she was going to fall and roll down the rest of the hill.

Buffy took off her skies, making her way up the small, elevated part between the two split slopes and stopped. She never thought her heart would be able to leap and drop at the same time, but that was exactly what it did when her eyes fell upon the listless body of her girlfriend. She dropped to her knees, hands fluttering across the brunette's body and Buffy squeezed her eyes shut tightly. Faith's pulse was weak, but at least she was still breathing. The sweatshirt clung to her body like a wet rag and the blonde remembered the ski-jacket she'd found, wrapping it around the cold body gently.

As she knelt next to the unconscious form of her girlfriend, Buffy prayed again, praying that Faith would survive this and they could finally have some peace. She pulled the cell-phone from her pocket and dialed the number for the Mountain Rescue lodge the rescue guy had given her earlier.

*****

"And you just let her go like that?!" His voice was accusing, making it all seem like her fault that Buffy had gone up the hill.

"Gee Xander, let me think…little, itty bitty me against big bad slayer. Of course I let her go!" Willow yelled back and threw her hands up in despair. As soon as she'd gotten back to the room Xander had made it his duty to tell her that it was her fault Buffy was lost in that damn storm as well. She just couldn't believe him, it wasn't like she'd told Buffy to go up there. He knew as well as the rest of them that when it came to Faith the blonde was stubborn and set in stone once she made up her mind.

"I'm just worried is all," he mumbled and sunk to his and Anya's bed with a sour expression.

"Yeah well, let's try and be positive. Mountain Rescue is out there looking for Faith, as well as Buffy and we all know that those two have a knack for just finding each other. They'll be alright…they'll be perfectly fine," the redhead reasoned, knowing she was saying this as much for the calming of the others as for herself. But it was true, where Faith was, there was Buffy and if anyone could survive this then it was them.

*****

"Shit…shit…goddamn cellphones, they never work when you need them, only charge you exorbitant fees and…argh!!" The cellphone hit a nearby tree with the speed of a flying bullet and shattered. Realizing that this probably hadn't been her smartest move, Buffy sat in the snow and looked at the still brunette in front of her. How was she gonna get them out of here now? The snowboard was cracked as far as she could tell and she wasn't a good enough skier to maneuver her way down the slope with Faith in her arms. Not to mention that her girlfriend was still unconscious.

"Faith…come on baby wake up…," she breathed into the girl's ear, brushing the snowflakes off pale skin. Looking down at the brunette's cold body, the blonde thought back to Health class in High School. One day the teacher had taught them about hypothermia and frost bite, explaining how to prevent and help, and back then Buffy couldn't have cared less. After all, who needed to be concerned about hypothermia in Sunnydale? But now she couldn't have been gladder for the information that had stuck in her brain for some odd reason.

"B…Buffy?" came the soft voice from before her and immediately the blonde was leaning over the younger girl's face, smiling softly.

"Hey babe," she whispered, her gloved hands resting on Faith's cheeks.

"I…'m s…so…co…cold," the brunette managed to squeeze out, her body shivering and Buffy contemplated what to do. Staying here really wasn't an option.

"How about we get out of here then? I figured we could try and just walk down the rest of the slope."

Faith shook her head slowly, trying to control the shivers going through her body and pointed at her leg, "Broken."

Grimacing, the blonde sighed and tried to think of anything back from that class. She leaned over, reaching for her girlfriend's arms and put them through the sleeves of the jacket, zipping it up. Then she moved over, sliding her body on top of Faith's to cover as much as possible. Buffy removed her gloves, slipping them over the brunette's freezing cold hands and then slid her warm hands under Faith's shirt, resting them on the girl's stomach.

"B…I d…don't think this is the…r…right place f…for this," Faith grinned and the blonde couldn't help but chuckle at the comment. No matter how serious the predicament, Faith managed to make sexual jokes.

"I'm just trying to keep you warm, I never heard you complain before about being in this position," she breathed, watching as her warm breath condensed and leaned closer to her girlfriend's face.

"N…not com…p…plaining…B," the brunette retorted and closed her eyes, letting out a deep breath.

"Hey Faith…don't close your eyes, come on…stay with me," the blonde said calmly, but internally she was panicking. Faith was so cold, so freezing cold.

"But I'm t…tired B."

The brunette was looking at her through droopy eyelids and Buffy felt herself almost sweating in fear as she realized Faith's speech was slightly slurred. She rubbed her hands along the girl's torso and closed her own eyes for just a split-second. Buffy would've done anything to keep Faith from falling asleep, even if it meant running around in the nude through the snow.

"No closing your eyes, you hear me? The others are all waiting for us back at the hotel," the older girl tried, hoping she was getting through that thick skull somewhere.

"So? I'm tired. I d…don't care," Faith responded, her eyelids sliding shut slowly.

"Faith!"

The tone in Buffy's voice would've probably made any vamp stake himself in fear, but as long as it kept Faith from falling asleep Buffy didn't care about being harsh. The brunette's eyes snapped open and she stared at her girlfriend. Giving a grim stare at first, the blonde's eyes immediately softened upon seeing the unshed tears in Faith's eyes.

"God baby, I'm sorry…but I just can't let you go to sleep. Mountain Rescue is already out there looking for us, they'll find us," Buffy spoke softly, then leaned down to press a gently kiss onto her girlfriend's lips to take away the doubt in the girl's eyes.

"Buffy…I…I don't th…think I can…s…stay awake," Faith shivered, trying hard to fight the fatigue that was threatening to consume her body.

"So, I'll tell you stories…and then you can tell me some until we're rescued alright?" Buffy's voice was almost too chipper, almost revealing to Faith how scared the blonde really was. Almost letting her know that Buffy was afraid her girlfriend wasn't going to survive this. But before Faith even had a chance to question or protest, Buffy had already started.

PART 3

Willow walked back into the room and shook her head sadly. There still wasn't any news on Buffy and Faith; she'd just talked to the head guy at Mountain Rescue and he let her know that a search team was already out there. But the slopes were big, there were lots of them and it was getting dark, not to mention the snowstorm that was still raging on outside. The hopes of finding Faith were slim and if Buffy was with the brunette, then the chances of finding both of them before daybreak were very slim.

She sat on her bed, resting her head in her hands and wished for some epiphany, anything to help out her friends. Behind her Tara was rubbing her back, easing some of that tension away but Willow wouldn't let it all fade. She looked at her girlfriend's face and had an idea.

"What is it babe?" Tara asked softly, recognizing the look in her girlfriend's face. It meant Willow was up to something.

"Can't we do a locater spell? Find out where they are and let Mountain Rescue know?"

The other Scoobies seemed even more excited at that idea and looked at her expectantly. Tara thought for a few seconds; they'd have to get ingredients and either try and remember or find a spell, it could take some time but probably less than the rescue guys would need to search the whole hill. She slowly nodded and watched with a smile as everyone jumped into action.

*****

"…so Dawn was maybe around 5 or 6 when we took our last skiing vacation. It was her first time in snow and all, so my parents decided to have her take skiing-lessons. Well, on her second day she was going down the slope and didn't know how to stop or turn and ran into the only tree within a mile! She pulled some muscles in her leg and had to wear a cast for weeks. We never went on another skiing vacation…until now that is," Buffy smiled, reminiscing about her childhood and looked down at her girlfriend. At least Faith was still awake, the girl had actually seemed interested in hearing about Buffy's childhood, had listened intently and even grinned at the mentioning of Dawn's unlucky accident.

Maybe it was a good idea to share her childhood experiences with Faith, not only did it seem to keep her awake but Buffy thought that it was something you told people you truly loved. A great relationship allowed you to share things with people you never told anyone else. She tried to think back, some of the funnier stories came to mind and the blonde decided to stick with those for now.

"In 4th grade I went to camp with a bunch of friends and we were all sharing a room. Well, one of the girls had a boyfriend and she wanted to look good for some get-together that night, but she had weird bangs so we told her to cut them off. She did and it looked horrible, it was like peach fuzz sticking out from her forehead and we told everyone on the whole floor and they were practically running our door in to see her. Her boyfriend said he didn't care, but she wore a hat the rest of the night."

"Damn B…remind me never t…to let you near my h…hair," Faith breathed, smiling as best as she could with her facial muscles feeling as if they were completely frozen.

"Ah, come on…you can't tell me you've never done some weird slumber party thing that you'd later regret?" Buffy smiled back, shifting her weight slightly on the cold body underneath of her.

The brunette shook her head and for a second a sad look flashed across her face, "Nah…I never…really had any f…friends…y'know. I…was ju…just the freak."

Buffy stopped moving and looked at the girl in front of her. There was a lot she didn't know about her girlfriend, things she could only guess but not be totally sure about. Things she hoped Faith would be able to tell her eventually. She looked away, eyes grazing the snow that was everywhere around them, furies of it that didn't allow sight past a few feet. She was starting to get slightly cold, the snowboard wasn't the best protection against wind after all.

"B?"

She turned her head back to the brunette, willing herself to smile but she just couldn't do it, "Yeah?"

"I'm sorry…I…didn't mean to f…freak you out or nothing," Faith replied, biting her lip as if she'd done something wrong, waiting for the inevitable blow from Buffy. It shocked the blonde somewhat, though she'd seen it happen a couple times before.

"You didn't freak me out babe, I want you to know that you can tell me anything if you want. I'm here to listen, alright? Anything you wanna get off your chest, I'll be here for you, no matter what it is," Buffy spoke softly, finally smiling and a sigh of relief fluttered across the brunette's lips.

"Okay…any…more stories?"

Buffy thought for a while, she couldn't remember much happy stuff really. Sure, there'd been copious of such occasions but the sad stuff always seemed to be stuck in her memory. Maybe being a Slayer had brought that out in her, though Buffy wasn't sure whether she remembered happy stuff before being called.

"On my 11th birthday my parents were taking my best friend and I, along with Dawn, to a theme park. We'd been driving for a while, when suddenly the traffic was stopped and we look out the window and there'd been an accident. The cars were smoking and there was stuff all over the road; no one had even called 911 yet, it had just happened. There were people, from the crash, walking around with gashes in their head, blood was everywhere and one guy had an open break in his arm. My parents left the car to go help, while I sat there and watched. I just remember thinking that it could be us out there, if we'd left 5 minutes earlier…that no one was helping those injured people, everyone was just watching. It made me sick to my stomach and the rest of the day the image of the crash and injured people was burnt into my mind. I think that was the day I realized the world wasn't perfect, kinda like losing my innocence…" Buffy trailed off, watching the emotions flash across her girlfriend's face. Deciding to stop telling herself to let Faith tell her stuff on her own, the blonde leaned a little closer and locked her eyes with deep brown ones.

"Have you ever had a realization like that? Like a day you lost your childhood innocence?" The question seemed alright in her head, but as soon as it left her mouth the blonde regretted it. As much as she knew about Faith, she did know the girl's childhood had probably been far from perfect. She didn't want to push her girlfriend, but she was sort of sick of waiting around.

"I don't think I had a childhood innocence," came the whispered reply, so soft Buffy would've never heard it if she hadn't been a slayer.

"Why's that?" she asked, knowing she was walking on shaky ground here. It was worth a try.

"I knew…the world was bad when my s…sister got sick. Every…one else kept saying she…she'd be better…but I knew…I knew otherwise," Faith replied softly, averting her eyes as her voice threatened to break. The blonde had never seen her girlfriend this vulnerable, this open to sharing and as much as it broke her heart to see Faith hurting, she didn't want to just give up.

"You…you had a sister?" she asked quietly, wondering why she had never known about that before. Sure, there were a lot of things Faith never told anyone, but Buffy couldn't remember actually ever asking the brunette whether she had siblings.

"Yeah," the younger girl nodded and looked at Buffy's neck, anywhere but her eyes, "her name was Hope…she…was like ten years older th…than me. I was two when she…got sick. She had leukemia…I wanted t…to help her but…my bone marrow didn't match…they couldn't find a donor. She…died when she was 14…"

Buffy took a deep breath, trying to come up with anything to say that didn't sound totally rehearsed and stupid. Why was it so hard to say something to make her girlfriend feel better?

"Faith…I'm…" she started, not knowing exactly what she was going to say or whether saying she was sorry really was such a good idea. But before she could finish her sentence, Faith was already interrupting her.

"Don't…Buffy…I never felt sorry for her…I knew she was better off. I just…always wished I could've died w…with her."

"What, why?" the blonde asked, feeling a shudder run through her at the thought of not having Faith. Of not being around her girlfriend anymore. Of never having met the brunette, because she had died a long time ago.

"My mom…she got de…depressed and started drinking…my dad…he rarely ever came home until late…so mom had to…let her anger out on me. She'd hit me with anything she could find…blamed me that Hope died, 'cause I...I couldn't help her," Faith mumbled, her voice quiet but Buffy could hear the tears and pain easily. She lowered her head to be able to look into the brunette's eyes and tried to convey everything she was feeling through the look.

"God, Faith…I'm so sorry that happened to you," the blonde whispered, bringing her hands up to cup her girlfriend's face. Faith was holding in the tears, trying to take deep, calming breaths to stop from breaking down and crying.

"Don't be…that's not the worst and…I'm five by five," the younger girl responded, her voice just as cold and emotionless as her body.

"Faith…" Buffy growled, wishing the girl wasn't so stubborn, "stop being so courageous. There's nothing wrong with crying; no matter what you tell me I'll be here for you to hold you and whisper sweet things into your ear…I won't think any less of you if you cry, it's not a sign of weakness. Can't you understand that? Do you trust me?"

The brunette nodded, wiping a gloved hand across her eyes that were being covered slowly by snowflakes. The snow still hadn't stopped falling, covering them in a white layer that at least slightly protected against the biting wind. Buffy took Faith's hands in hers, wanting the girl to look at her.

"Then just let go…let me in Faith…I would never hurt you, I just want to be here for you. I love you."

Brown eyes met hazel ones and for a few seconds there was a completeness between them Buffy had always longed for. She was swimming, drowning in Faith's eyes, the pain, sadness and dreams. Then tears spilled out of the brown orbs, bringing her back to reality and Buffy smiled softly, before gently wiping the tears away.

"No one…ever loved me…I think. They only said…they did…to get me in bed. And my mom…she hated me…then when my dad…he started hitting me, too…he didn't love me. Everyone always…says they love me and then…th…they hurt me and leave," Faith whispered, the tears still running down her cheeks and she looked up at Buffy expectantly.

"Well, I love you and I don't plan on leaving you. I can't promise not to hurt you, no one can do that, but I will always do my best to make you happy. I want you to be happy with me, Faith," the blonde responded, pressing her lips against her girlfriend's gently before leaning back again.

"I love you," the brunette breathed, then a soft smile appeared on her face as well.

*****

The smoke curled in the air, twisting and turning before ascending to the ceiling of the room. Xander stood on one of the beds, waving a magazine up and down to keep the smoke from reaching the smoke-detector imbedded in the ceiling. He was still somewhat upset that they had declared him 'smoke-watcher', but if he thought about it, it sort of made sense. After all, Willow and Tara were the witches and even Anya had her own share of spell-experience; so he stood on the bed with a grumpy expression and continued to wave the magazine.

The witches had gotten back about twenty minutes ago from their run to gather ingredients, not to mention a spell. Everything had been set up and ready to go within minutes and the three girls were currently deep in a trance. Smoke from the various candles surrounding them was floating in the air, as well as the fragrance of something that made Xander want to gag. He realized it was cinnamon, well a cinnamon scented candles and shook his head at the smell. Willow had mentioned that they had needed red candles and for some reason no store they had visited seemed to sell red candles, so they had had to settle for red cinnamon-scented tea lights from the Christmas department.

Watching them closely, never forgetting to wave the magazine, Xander hoped they'd be able to locate Faith and Buffy. He had no doubt that the blonde had been able to find Faith, those two were never much apart, but something must've happened to keep them from coming back. And he was worried as much for Buffy as he was for Faith, though Willow had tried to reassure him that Buffy was dressed more than well enough for the cold weather, it was just a matter of whether Faith was alright.

Lost so deeply in his thoughts he almost didn't notice as Willow's eyes snapped open and a slow smile spread across her lips. One by one the candles extinguished and the redhead stood up, followed by Tara and his girlfriend. He jumped off the bed, smoke completely forgotten and looked into the girls' eyes questioningly.

"Well?" he asked, hoping, praying for some good news.

"We think we found at least their general location. The spell can only pinpoint people to within a ten foot radius, but it'll be good enough for Mountain Rescue to find them."

And if time hadn't been so scarce, Xander would've hugged the redhead until he was old and gray; so instead he settled for a smile and followed the girls out of the room.

PART 4

"Do you think…they'll find us?" Faith asked, her voice straining and the blonde looked at her with a concerned expression.

Buffy had been doing her best to keep her girlfriend awake, telling the most embarrassing stories of her life, rubbing her warmer hands across the brunette's cold body, but she knew that there wasn't much time left. Faith was getting even colder, the blonde hadn't even wanted to look at the girl's leg, knowing she couldn't do anything about it. The brunette's speech was getting more slurred by the second, her eyelids droopy and Buffy had realized just a minute ago that Faith was unable to move. If help didn't come soon she'd have her girlfriend dying in her arms…something Buffy had always thought too cliché to ever happen to her.

"I hope so…it's not very comfy out here," she replied, hoping that her lighter answer would keep the brunette's mind off the situation.

"You can…always move…you know?" Faith retorted, not even bothering to shift, 'cause she knew she couldn't do it. Either her body was frozen solid or she was dying…either way it wasn't the greatest feeling.

"Nah…I'd choose you over the ground any day, babe," Buffy smiled and moved her hands down the younger girl's torso, still amazed and shocked that a human body could get so cold.

"Gee, thanks…," came the soft reply, but Buffy could tell it was sarcasm and she smiled, before resting her head on the brunette's shoulder. Her forehead was resting against the younger girl's cheek and the touch sent cold shivers down her spine. Faith was way too cold, colder than any other person she'd ever known…and that included vampires.

"B?"

"Yeah?" the blonde asked gently, lifting her head back up to look into her girlfriend's eyes.

"Thanks…for being here for me…I mean. For…for caring 'bout me…a…and listening and…stuff," Faith looked at her, her eyes completely open to the blonde and Buffy could only be awed by the sensation.

"Any time…I always want to listen to you, Faith," she breathed out, letting herself open up completely as well. They both stared at each other, letting their love run through each other like a strong current. It was beyond anything each of them had ever felt before.

"You know," Faith started, "if we…get down this hill…alive…I promise, I will never…keep anything from you…ever again. I want to…be with you com…pletely."

The statement almost brought tears to the blonde's eyes, but she held them back long enough to lean forward and plant a kiss on Faith's forehead, before replying, "I'd like that…very much. I want to be totally honest with you as well…give myself to you completely."

She was just about to lean down and kiss her girlfriend for real, when they heard the sounds of snowmobiles in the distance.

*****

Willow was pacing, as much as she knew the others hated it. Her three friends were patiently sitting in ugly wooden chairs with bright red upholstery, looking at her as if that would make her stop. They were currently in the Mountain Rescue Headquarters, having notified the guy in the office about the location of the two slayers. It had been harder than expected to explain how they knew where the girls were, without actually telling the guy how.

She stopped and looked out the window into the darkness that still allowed her to see the snowy slopes. Her friends were out there somewhere, lost and maybe even hurt, so it was ridiculous of the other three to not expect her to pace. The rescue guy had, after giving them a skeptical look and Anya bluntly telling him that it wasn't like they had anywhere else to look really, informed the search team of the supposed location of the missing girls. Now they were just waiting for a confirmation, hopefully a positive one. Suddenly the radio crackled and Willow jumped.

"Base this is Team 2, come in."

The rescue guy picked up the radio and responded, giving a grim look to Willow to let her know that it might not be good news.

"Uh…we're close to the location you gave us. Over."

"Do you see anything? Anyone? The girl had a…uh bright yellow snowboard, maybe that'll help. Over," the guy spoke into the radio and rolled his chair over to a large map of the area. He'd marked the location Willow had given him with a little flag and was now looking at it.

"We're at the end of Slope 3, where it's split in two, but I don't…whoa wait…I think they found something. Oh my god, they're here…we've found them…they're…they're alive!"

Willow's eyes widened and she grinned, turning around towards her friends and was greeted with a hug by three of her friends. Buffy and Faith would be okay, everything would be okay…she didn't think she'd ever felt this relieved in her whole life.

"Thanks guys…County General will be expecting you. Over and out," the office rescue guy spoke into the radio one last time before putting it back down. He looked over at them and shook his head with a smile; he'd worked in this job for many years but such luck as those two girls had had tonight he had never before seen. It was almost like a miracle.

*****

Buffy squinted her eyes as the bright flashlight shone into her eyes, blinding her temporarily but she didn't care at all. Voices were coming closer and two guys in orange outfits came into her viewpoint shortly thereafter, kneeling down next to her. They were going to be okay, there were people here to save them and she couldn't help but smile at that.

"Are you Buffy?" the guy next to her asked and she nodded, looking at him expectantly. She could see a group of three or four more rescuers dressed in orange coming towards them from behind the guy and she felt relief wash through her.

"Are you hurt?" he asked, looking at her intently and she shook her head, pulling herself up off the brunette's body. Her body was stiff, she was cold and tired, but it didn't matter as long as Faith would be okay. She looked down at her girlfriend's body and saw that the girl's eyes were closed, making her panic internally.

"You gotta help her…she's cold…I think she has hypothermia a…and her leg's broken," Buffy mumbled, trying to keep the tremors from her body as she watched the two guys next to her examine her girlfriend quickly. Suddenly someone wrapped a rescue blanket around her shoulders, the crunching of the blanket making her head pound and a blonde woman in the same orange jacket as the guys leaned down. She handed the two guys another blanket and they carefully wrapped Faith in it, before one of them brought over a stretcher they strapped her to.

"Come on, we're bringing you to County General Hospital," the blonde woman spoke softly, grasping Buffy's arm and leading her over to a snowmobile. The slayer could only watch as the rescuers wrapped her girlfriend in more blankets and securing the stretcher into what looked like the bottom half of a kayak, before they sped off into the dark. Buffy held the weird blanket tightly around her and grasped onto the woman in front of her as the snowmobile was set into motion.

She'd spent probably hours trying to keep Faith awake, trying to stay as cheerful as possible in the situation; but now, not even knowing if her efforts had made a difference and whether her girlfriend was still alive, Buffy couldn't help but let the tears escape. Even during their vacation bad stuff happened to them, it just wasn't fair. The blonde couldn't remember Faith and her ever having some time without troubles; there was either an impending apocalypse, finals or just plain bad luck like during this ski trip. But despite the bad stuff that had happened, Buffy couldn't say that this tragic accident had changed her life, her relationship with Faith dramatically. That last barrier between them had finally been broken, the aura of trust been completely established. It was one thing for Faith to know Buffy trusted her and she could trust her, but another to actually feel it and know it with her heart.

But Faith had to survive for this to count, to become something. Buffy hoped desperately that the younger slayer would make it and they'd be able to talk, without barriers and without the impending death of either one of them. She just wanted her girlfriend…totally and completely.

*****

There were people everywhere, running around busily or standing in the way like stupid idiots. She pushed past them, not caring about being a little rough and made her way to the nurse's station. A plumb woman in pastel yellow scrubs looked up at her with tired eyes and the girl took a deep breath to be able to speak.

"Summers, I'm looking for Summers," she exhaled finally, feeling her friends come up behind her. As soon as the car had stopped in the hospital parking lot, the redhead had shot out of it and into the building.

The nurse typed something into the computer on her cluttered desk and looked back up at the girl, her voice monotone and bored as she spoke, "Elizabeth or Faith?"

Willow hesitated for a second, looking at the nurse slightly confused before remembering that when Faith had moved in with Buffy the blonde had suggested Faith take her last name, since they were family now. She thought for another second and then shrugged, "Uh…both, I guess."

The woman sighed as if she was annoyed with the Wicca, then typed some more and pointed towards a hallway that was even busier with people, if that was humanly possible, "Elizabeth Summers was checked out and released, but Faith Summers is still in the ER. If you go down that hallway you'll reach the family waiting area for the Trauma rooms."

Thanking the nurse quickly, Willow took off, walking fast paced down the hallway. She was dodging doctors and patients left and right, even hearing Anya's complaint from a few feet behind her about how she was going too fast, but Willow couldn't have cared less. She wanted to make sure her friends were alright. Rounding the corner she was greeted with a much emptier hallway and, to her right, a room with an abundance of chairs. The room had a glass wall to look out into the hallway and it enabled the redhead to see the blonde girl sitting off to the side by herself.

Buffy was sitting on a plushy chair next to one of the walls painted with cheerful colors, wrapped in a thick blanket, her head lowered to the ground. There were only a few other people in the waiting room, thank God the family with the small, screeching child had left, and she was now alone. Willow slowly walked into the room and over to her friend, feeling sadness creep up into her body at the sight of tears on the blonde's face. She sat down in the chair next to the girl, wrapping an arm around her shoulders and Buffy looked up at her.

"Buffy, are you alright?" she asked softly, noting that the rest of their friends had just entered the waiting room and were sitting down in chairs next to them as well.

"Yeah…the doctor said my body temperature was just a little low, so he made me drink this nasty ass soup and he said I just needed some rest…get warm and all…I'm fine," the blonde responded, wiping a hand across her eyes and tightening the grip on the blanket.

"I know you're physically fine Buffy…what I mean is…oh never mind. How is Faith?" Willow knew that her friend wasn't the type to just blurt out she was feeling crappy, but a direct question about Faith usually gave her that answer as well.

"I don't know…she's been in there ever since we got here. She was so cold, Will…not even the vampires I've staked were that cold. I can't lose her…I just can't…" Buffy's voice broke at the end of the sentence and the redhead pulled her into an embrace. She knew exactly how the blonde felt, after all if something like this had happened to Tara it would be the exact same thing.

Suddenly the door to the waiting room opened again and a tall man in a white coat stepped inside, walking towards them. Buffy stood up slowly, reminding Willow of a bad movie where the heroine is just about to find out her lover died and immediately forced that thought from her head. Faith was alright, she had to be. The doctor stopped in front of them, a weary expression on his face and he looked at Buffy who was waiting expectantly for him to speak.

"Is…is she alright?"

The doctor took a deep breath and ran a hand through his thin hair before starting to speak, "She had severe hypothermia. Her body temperature was way below what we consider normal and CPR had to be applied twice when she stopped breathing. We uh…stabilized her, the body temperature is almost back to normal and should continue to rise within the next few hours or so as long as she is kept in a warm environment. She should try and avoid ingesting caffeine or alcohol for the next few hours, it'll thin the blood and drop the body temperature. I suggest both of you stay inside and get some rest."

A soft smile spread across Buffy's face and she dropped the blanket onto the chair, "So she's alright? We can go home?"

The man smiled back slightly, it seemed as if it were a very uncommon facial expression for him and nodded, "Yes, she will be fine. You probably saved her life by protecting her body with yours and making sure she stayed awake. If you want I will take you to see her now."

Buffy nodded and turned to look at her friends, who stood up as well to follow her. She couldn't have been more relieved, Faith was alright, and they could finally stop worrying for a while and just be themselves. She walked a few steps behind the doctor down the hallway, sunken in her thoughts and she could only groan as Xander interjected.

"Whoa, wait…when he said you protected her body with yours…did he mean you were on top of her? 'Cause you know…I wouldn't have to worry about getting hypothermia ever…just the thought of that makes me hot."

"Xander! Even Spike could get YOU hot," Buffy growled and gave him the look she had reserved specially for occasions in which the boy decided to make a sexual comment about her and Faith together. And she'd gotten to use that expression quite a lot.

He went to throw a comeback at her, something that would actually make sense and defend his damaged pride. But Buffy had already vanished behind the doors of a hospital room, leaving him standing outside with two snickering witches and one glaring ex-demon.

*****

"Hey baby," she spoke softly, leaning close to the brunette's face and smiled as two brown eyes stared back at her. A smile spread across Faith's lips as well and she reached out her hand, grasping Buffy's tightly in hers.

"Hey…I thought you'd never come and bail me out of here."

Buffy chuckled softly, it was no secret that Faith hated hospitals with a passion and tended to very convincingly talk her way out of them. Doctors usually rather released her than have to deal with her complaining any longer.

"Well, the doctor said I could take you home with me. As long as I made sure you'd get some rest…can you do that for me?" the blonde mumbled in low tones, looking down at her girlfriend. She couldn't remember feeling this happy, this happy just to have someone else's eyes lock with hers, this happy just to hold someone's hand. But Faith had changed everything, turned her life upside down and made her fall completely in love with her.

"Rest? You mean…lie still and do nothing?" The distasteful look on the younger girl's face made Buffy chuckle and she squeezed Faith's hand, leaning closer to her girlfriend's face.

"Rest, as in snuggling with me all night," she smiled and watched the girl's expression change from distasteful to almost horrified.

"I told you I don't sn…" Faith started but was cut off by her girlfriend who was rolling her eyes in mock.

"I know, big bad Faith doesn't snuggle," Buffy smiled and quickly kissed Faith on the lips before standing up, "Come on, let's get out of here."

*****

The door clicked shut softly and the blonde girl relaxed into the pillows with a groan. It'd taken their friends almost an hour to finally leave the hotel room and she was more than glad for the privacy; she knew Faith was. Once they'd gotten back from the hospital Buffy practically had had to tie down her girlfriend to the bed to stop her from getting up. The others, realizing that the two slayers really needed some alone time that wasn't overshadowed by someone being on the brink of death, had quickly decided to spend their evening away from the hotel room. And upon Anya's mentioning that she wanted to have an orgasm in the hot-tub, the two witches had declared they'd go out to dinner, as far away from the hot-tub as possible.

Buffy turned onto her side, looking at the peaceful face of her girlfriend and smiled. Either Faith had fallen asleep or had just closed her eyes, but either way Buffy thought it was the most beautiful sight she'd ever seen. The light in the room had been dimmed and it was just enough to draw shadows on the brunette's skin, making Buffy want to touch her girlfriend to make sure she was real.

"I know you're watching me," Faith exclaimed suddenly, her eyes opening slowly and a grin spread across her face as she saw her girlfriend.

The blonde reached out her hand, brushing strands of hair out of Faith's eyes and smiled as well, "Guilty as charged. But I couldn't help myself, you're just so cute when you're asleep."

Faith grumbled and gave an incredulous look to her girlfriend, "I'm not cute. And I wasn't asleep."

Buffy chuckled and shook her head, opening her arms for the younger girl to move into them, "C'me here."

With an exaggerated sigh the brunette scooted her body over to her girlfriend, moving into the blonde's arms and resting her head on Buffy's shoulder. Her right arm wrapped around the older girl's waist as Buffy's arms held tightly onto Faith. They lay in silence for a few seconds, each listening to the other's heartbeat.

"I love you," Buffy finally whispered, breaking the silence and she felt Faith stir slightly to be able to look into her eyes. She was met with brown eyes that showed nothing but love in return and that held no barriers. The thought almost made her want to cry.

"And I love you just as much. A…and I want you to know that I meant…what I said about not keeping any secrets from you. I want to be completely honest with you," Faith replied, her voice quiet as she felt the insecurities enter her mind, but Buffy only held her tighter, smiling at her and the brunette knew that just that smile was worth everything.

She leaned up slightly, meeting Buffy's lips in a gentle kiss that soon turned into something a lot more heated and the blonde softly lifted her girlfriend away from her, "Ah Faith…whatever happened to getting rest?"

The brunette looked at her, pouting and Buffy couldn't help but laugh at the expression. She sat up and wrapped her arms around the younger girl from behind, resting her chin on Faith's shoulder as the girl took a defeated breath.

"What else are we gonna do?" Faith complained, craning her neck to look into hazel eyes.

"I thought you said you wanted to snuggle," the blonde smiled, pulling them both down onto the bed again into the same position they'd had before.

"Buffy!" the younger girl whined about the choice of words, but nevertheless let her body melt into her girlfriend's, resting her head back onto Buffy's shoulder.

And for the rest of the night, content in each other's presence, the slayers snuggled; although Faith would continue to claim that she'd never do such a thing.

The End

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