Nightfall
by SwaySlayer
Rating: NC-17

Disclaimer: Buffy, Faith et al belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, etc etc. Joey belongs to me and my fevered imagination. The song is by Shemekiah Copeland. Can't remember the title.
Author's Notes: Set in Season Four somewhere. I don't know! I just write this stuff. It's Buffy and Faith, what more do you need?
Feedback: Don't make me beg, it's just not becoming….

“I can’t do this anymore.”

Buffy pulled away from Riley only to be met with a look of complete puzzlement. She felt her entire body sag as he searched her face for a reason as to why she had broken their embrace.

“Can’t do what?” he said. He leaned back against the headboard of Buffy’s bed, waiting for her to answer. Buffy chose her words carefully. She didn’t want to hurt him. He had been good for her. She had been at a point in her life where solidarity and security had been her main priorities, but that time had passed, and Riley’s consistency of presence had her walking on eggshells. She didn’t want to hurt him, but he had every right to know that her feelings for him had changed.

“I can’t do this anymore. Us. It’s not fair to you. I can’t pretend to feel for you what I know you feel for me. You have been so good to me. Loving, understanding, supportive. I just can’t continue with this charade anymore. We’re not the happy couple everyone perceives us to be.”

Riley exhaled slowly, taking in everything Buffy had said. “Well this is the first I’ve heard of it.” Buffy shook her head. She knew that this was a sign that his defenses were kicking in. She wouldn’t have said anything if she hadn’t suspected that he had picked up on their apparent lack of “coupledom”.

“I know you’ve been thinking about it Riley. I can see it in the way you look to me for confirmation when you touch me. By doing that, you show me that there is no longer an intimacy between us. And it’s ok. Things change. We’ve changed.” At a look from Riley, Buffy relented. “Ok. I’ve changed. But it doesn’t mean that I’ve stopped caring about you. Lately, I’ve been taking care of you, and it’s reached a point where my mothering you has taken all the passion out of our relationship.”

“I never asked you to mother me Buff.”

“It was implied. I just don’t want to have a boyfriend who I see more as a sibling than a lover.”

With that, Riley shifted off the bed, strapped on his combat boots and headed for the door. He stopped before reaching for the handle. Buffy could sense that he had left a lot unsaid, but no matter what he said, her mind was made up. It was over. He turned the handle, opened the door and left. He didn’t even slam the door. This made complete sense when dealing with someone like Riley. Hard on the outside, marshmallow interior. Buffy felt like she had driven over a wounded puppy, and then reversed to make sure she hadn’t missed it. Feelings of guilt were not unexplored territory for the Slayer, but this interaction brought with it another feeling. Relief. She felt as if a burden had been removed from her shoulders. What with living on a Hellmouth and the fate of the world depending on her most of the time, relief was seldom an emotion she experienced. Comforting herself with the thought that Riley would soon find another nursemaid, she left her dormroom to find Willow.

Navigating the hallways, she strolled past the usual collection of night owls. These people were up at 2:00am voluntarily. Buffy had her whole “killing-vampires-to-save-mortals” thing. Not a bad deal when you needed to vent. As for the rest of the time, it was like cleaning out a shower drain. It’s ugly and gross, but someone has to do it. She passed 3B, where Randy The Stoner was lying sprawled across the floor. She bent down and out of habit, checked his neck for the two telltale puncture wounds.

“Buffster. What’s up?” he slurred as he lifted himself up into a sitting position.

“Just checking to see if you still have a pulse.”

“It’s slow, but it’s there…”

Buffy chuckled as she continued down the hall. “It takes all kinds,” she thought. Further on, she saw a light on in one of the rooms. As she approached, she heard the unmistakable sound of fingers flying frantically over a keyboard. She popped her head in the door to find Joey Rigby punishing the computer. Joey was an English major. Genuine, honest, intelligent and a procrastinator of the highest degree. Buffy did not find it surprising in the least that she was up at this hour.

“Let me guess. Victorian poetry?” Joey nearly jumped right out of her well-worn office chair.

“Shit B! You scared the crap out of me! I wish it were poetry. It’s easier to work from other people’s literature. I have unfortunately landed the task of writing a creative essay on the roles women play in modern society.”

Buffy sauntered over to where Joey was ensconced. “So? That should be a breeze. You’re the last of the great feminists, Jo.”

“I know. That’s exactly my problem. I can’t stop writing. I’ve written 102 pages and I don’t think I’m anywhere near reaching a conclusion!”

“Well call me when you’ve reached 200 and I’ll refill your coffee cup.”

“You’re a saint B.”

“I’ve been told so. I’ll catch up with you later Jo. Until then, good luck.”

“You know me B. Always five by five.”

Buffy froze in her tracks. She turned on Joey, and in a voice filled with fear, anxiety and anger, she whispered through gritted teeth:

“What did you say?”

“I said you know me B. I’ll be fine.”

“You said ‘five by five’. Where did you hear that? No one I know says that.”

“It’s just an expression B. Don’t get your panties in a twist over it.”

“Where did you hear it?”

“I don’t know. I probably heard it on campus somewhere. I’m an English major B, I’m always looking to expand my vocab.” Buffy could see that she had freaked out Joey a little. She apologised, saying that she had been up way too long and that her caffeine fix had run out a while ago. With a nodding smile, Joey turned her attention back to the glowing screen and resumed pounding away on the keys. Buffy shook the haze of memories out of her head and walked towards the door, which had undergone numerous paint jobs and was now a bright orange.

“Hey B.”

“Yeah?”

“You might want to cut down on your patrolling for a while.”

“Yeah. It’s taking its toll. I’m so tired most….” Buffy realised her mistake too late, and looked to Joey who hadn’t missed an apostrophe. “I mean, yeah, patrolling the clubs, night life, college, you know how it is. Party all night, work all day, party…when it’s not night and not day, and the…uh…the uh…parties.”

“B. Chill.” Joey barely glanced at Buffy as she said, ”Your secret’s safe with me. I’m sure you don’t hear it often enough, so I’m going to tell you. You do a great job. No one knows just how much, but I’m sure glad you’re the one watching my ass.”

Buffy didn’t know how to react to that. So she didn’t. She said her goodbye to Joey who waved absently from behind the screen and once again entered the hallway. Once she had overcome the distinct freak-out she had just experienced, a smile settled on her face as Joey’s words reverberated in her head. “You do a great job…glad you’re the one watching my ass.” No wonder she was an English major. She always had the perfect words for all occasions. Speaking of words, although sometimes incoherent, she had to find Willow. She quickened her pace and having not located her friend in any of their usual haunts, she decided to take a walk around the campus. Now a walk almost always meant that she would run into some nasty-looking, undead idiot who would inevitably end up with the short end of the stick. Or stake. That is lame on so many levels, but hey, how many Slayer puns can you come up with? Buffy cleared her mind of all thoughts and bad jokes, and focussed on honing her senses. She tested each one by isolating a sound, sight, movement, smell and touch, and concentrating on it until she was absolutely sure that she knew everything about it. Then she knew was ready.

*****

She had been patrolling for over an hour when she heard a faint rustling sound emanating from a group of trees over by the library. Crouching down, she closed her eyes and listened for it again. There it was. Soft, almost inaudible to a normal human, but tangible nonetheless. She listened again to ensure its presence, and this time, she slowly made her way to the area. Cutting a 45 degree angle, she approached the trees from the side, soft-shoeing her advent, trying to catch the vamp completely off-guard. She was tired, and the quicker the kill, the sooner she could get back to her room, bully Willow into giving her a neck rub and collapse into bed. She counted to five in her head and pounced. The vamp never stood a chance. She was a teenager too. When Buffy first began to slay, she would often spend sleepless nights thinking about the vamps she had killed. What their names were, where they were from, who would miss them when they died. It took her a long time to separate the fact that she did not kill people. She killed vampires, and they were already dead. Whoever they used to be was gone the instant they were turned. This all flashed through Buffy’s mind in the three seconds it took to stake the vamp.

Stepping back as the dust settled, Buffy distractedly ran a hand through her wavy tresses. Screw the neck rub. She needed to wash her hair. Slayer or not, clean hair is a must. Admittedly, most girls don’t have to wash vampire dust and demon goo out of their hair, but it must be done. Starting the journey back to the dorm, Buffy envisioned what it would be like if she left Sunnydale. She had done it once before, but that was an act of cowardice, one she was not proud of. Instead, she focussed on the picture of a loft apartment in New York, high above the people pounding on the pavements, a place where she could keep an eye on everyone without being their personal saviour. It was a nice fantasy while it lasted. She climbed the steps to her dorm and made her way to her room. Upon entering, she found Willow fast asleep. Resisting the urge to jump on her head for having such a peaceful expression on her face, Buffy peeled off her clothes and flopped into bed. She felt the muscles in her taut body relax and begin to sink into the softness of her mattress. As her mind began to drift, images of her earlier encounters filtered into her subconscious. Randy’s mess of dreadlocks. Joey tapping away at the keyboard. The teenage vamp’s small hands as they disintegrated. While these images played havoc with her subconscious, a few words kept repeating in the deepest recesses of her mind as she drifted off to an uneasy sleep:

“You know me B. Always five by five.”

Five by five.

Five by five.

Buffy awoke to what sounded like a thousand pneumatic drills ripping up the pavement. In fact, it was the opening chorus of Papa Roach’s “Last Resort” being played at maximum volume from across the hall. Buffy debated whether or not to break the offending device or break the offending owner. She decided against both as that would mean moving, and unnecessary activity was not high on her list of priorities for the day. Rolling over to face Willow, Buffy noted that her hair now resembled that of Medusa – not pretty at all. Willow flashed her a sleepy smile and in that simple gesture, she was reminded of how good a friend Willow actually was. Not all best buds would put up with the array of trauma that Buffy tended to attract. She returned the smile.

“Morning.”

“Hey.”

“I looked for you last night. Where were you?” Buffy rubbed the sleep out of her eyes and performed an amazingly agile stretch for the hour that it was.

“Tara took me to this club on the outskirts of town. Did the whole Wicca thing. Plus the whole beer thing.” Willow brought a hand to her temple, which was now throbbing in sync with the beat of the music. “Don’t suppose you have an ancient Slayer method that cures hangovers?”

“Sure. It’s called Keep Drinking.” Willow shot Buffy a look that would have soured milk. Maybe teasing a tired and hungover Willow was not the best idea. “Sorry Will. Not being supportive. I know. Turn it down!”

Buffy bellowed towards the hall, ignoring the fact that their door was closed. When she got no response, she threw off the covers, flung open the door to their room and stormed in the direction of the music. Willow listened for the follow-up to Buffy’s outburst, but all that she heard was a crunch, succeeded by dead silence. For a moment, she wondered if Buffy had actually killed their fellow student. She was not a morning person by anyone’s standards, and the noise had not helped matters. Buffy marched back into the room, closed the door and dived under her covers again. Listening to her heart beating against her pillow, Buffy thought about the previous night’s happenings. She hadn’t even thought to tell Willow about her and Riley, or more clearly, the end of her and Riley. Well, no time like the present. She pushed her head out so that only her eyes were peering at Willow.

“Riley and I broke up.”

“What? You’re kidding! What happened?”

“Nothing. Nothing happened, and that was the problem. Our relationship was on a train going to Nowheresville fast. He knew Will. I was just the one to stand up and admit it.”

Willow looked pensive for a moment. Buffy could see her brain processing all the information, and she waited patiently for her reply.

“Well, I can’t say I’m sorry Buff. I always thought he was kinda dull. Not up to your usual standards.”

“He was alive and human though, a great improvement on my last great love.”

“True, but Buff, since when have you strived to be normal? Oh, and I mean that like in a not nasty way at all. Riley’s a nice guy, but he’s not the guy for you.”

“I know. I just feel bad because I used him. I used him for security and to feel normal again. Plus I used him for sex. Actually, strike that. That was mutual.” Buffy let out a sigh that conveyed her state of utter exhaustion, yet she dragged herself out of bed and headed for the bathroom, toiletries in hand. She didn’t want to talk about Riley anymore. What was the point? She had made it quite clear that they were finished. Resolved, she opened the door and was just about to step out when Willow called to her. Turning around, Buffy waited for Willow to extend the analysis of the Riley situation.

“Yeah Will?”

“Don’t take this the wrong way Buff…”

Here we go thought Buffy.

“…but you really need to wash your hair. Grunge is dead, so let it lie.”

In response, Buffy threw her moisturiser at Willow.

*****

Having scoffed down a muffin, two Pop-Tarts, a glass of orange juice and a plate of eggs, Buffy knocked on the door to Giles’. Amazing what food and a shower could do. At this point, Buffy was pulling off a relatively good impression of a human being. The door opened and Giles greeted her in his unmistakable clipped English accent. She had yet to share with him the horrible Monty Python impressions her and the Scoobies did behind his back. She would wait for the perfect moment, like Christmas or his birthday… The gang was all there, waiting to be brought up to date on the night’s events. Buffy shared her solitary staking, followed by Giles, who cleaned his glasses and confused them with whatever he said.

“Not much happening on the Hellmouth. Somehow that makes me more nervous than when there’s an impending Armageddon,” said Xander. He was attempting, unsuccessfully, to explain the intricacies of table tennis to Anya. She couldn’t have been less interested if she had tried. And she was trying.

“So it’s like tennis, but smaller. So then where’s the referee?”

Xander gave up. Bidding farewell to the rest, he took Anya by the hand and dragged her towards the door.

“It’s not a referee. It’s an umpire, and there isn’t one.”

“Well that’s stupid. How do you stop the other person from cheating?”

“You can’t.” Anya paused to register this.

“Sounds like my kind of game.”

The others left soon after, leaving Buffy and Willow deep in conversation on Giles’ couch. Their conversation revolved mainly around what Joey had said to Buffy the night before. Buffy was worried that Joey knowing she was the Slayer would place her in danger.

“As long as no one else knows that she knows, she’s safe Buffy.” Willow used her logic as per usual. “The only reason that the Scoobies get targeted is because all the not-so-nice undead people know that we work with you. Don’t worry about it Buff, it’s not worth the aggravation.”

“If you say so.” Buffy paused, trying to remember what else she had wanted to discuss with Willow. There had been so much going on in her head that she was surprised to be making any sense at all. She would pop over to Joey’s later to see how her assignment was going. As she rose to leave, she experienced a slight déjà vu’ from her morning conversation with Joey. She pictured herself wishing Joey good luck, and the response that followed made her pounce on Willow with renewed energy.

“Five by five!” Buffy almost head butted Willow as she whirled around to face her friend. “How many people do you know that use that specific phrase?”

“Um, only one to my knowledge, and if she never tries to kill me again, I’d be really happy about it.”

“Exactly. It’s hers and hers alone, yet Joey used it last night. Where could she have heard it?”

“Well she knows you’re the Slayer. Maybe she overheard Faith use it when she was around.”

“That’s one possibility. Another could be that she knows Faith, or…that Faith and her sentence fragments have come into contact with Joey. Whatever the reason, I’m going to pay Joey a visit.”

“I take it you’re not coming to English.” It was more of a statement than a question.

“Bet your magic ass I’m not,” and with that, she was out the door.

Willow chuckled to herself as she packed in the literature she needed for her class. Today they were looking at Harold Pinter’s “The Birthday Party”. It being an absurd play did not escape Willow’s sense of irony.

*****

Walking the path to her dorm for the umpteenth time that day, Buffy began thinking about her behaviour. It was entirely possible that she was overreacting to Joey’s comment and that her using that particular phrase was purely coincidental. Unfortunately, in her experiences with Faith, nothing was coincidental. More like homicidal. The issue at hand now, was what Buffy was going to do if her suspicions about Joey were correct. Had she been in contact with Faith? If so, did she know who she was? And if she knew who Faith was, why was she in contact with her? These questions darted in and out of Buffy’s thoughts, wreaking havoc with her conceptions about Joey. She liked Joey. She was a friend, and after the previous night’s encounter, a possible ally. Buffy feared the worst – a habit she had picked up since she had been called as the Slayer – yet deep down, she always hoped for the best. It was this antithesis that had begun to eat away at her soul and every day she felt it digging deeper. There seemed to be a sense of loss enveloping her lately, although even if pushed, she would not be able to tell you what it was that she lacked. Looking at her life, she appeared to have everything a girl could wish for: an understanding mother, supportive friends, and up until the night before, a steady boyfriend. But the cracks had begun to show. This scared Buffy. As of late, she had a tendency to handle prospective happiness with cynicism, and this did not please her. The fact that she possessed a darker side had always frightened her, and she would have accepted this, had she not been witness to what this revelation had done to Faith. Faith again. She had heard one little phrase that reminded her of Faith and now she couldn’t get her off her mind. She hoped that Joey would be able to shed some light on the matter and resolve her feelings of uneasiness that had begun to settle on her.

Shaking her head in an attempt to clear the cobwebs, Buffy paused outside Joey’s door, took a deep breath and rapped her knuckles on the orange wood. No response. She knocked again. Same reply. “Joey! It’s Buffy. You in there?” At this, Buffy heard what sounded like a very tired person dragging herself out of bed. The door opened and there stood Joey, hair and clothes in multiple states of disarray. Added to this, the look on her face would have been suffice to make any demon turn on its heels and run.

“B. Tell me someone is dead or let me get back to bed.”

“No such luck. Actually, looking like that, you could pass for a corpse.”

Joey laughed and gestured for Buffy to enter. Inside, Buffy noticed that the computer was still on with Joey’s bunny screensaver bouncing all over the show. Joey didn’t look like the kind of girl to have a bunny screensaver. Then again, Buffy realised, she didn’t know that much about Joey anyway. Joey parked herself in her office chair and Buffy perched herself on the edge of the desk. Joey was about to resume punishing her computer when Buffy stopped her.

“Joey, about this morning…”

“B, it’s cool. I understand.”

“Thanks Jo, but, I actually wanted to talk to you about it again. More specifically, I want to ask you about someone. Someone I know who used that phrase as freely as you type on your computer.”

“Ok. Who’s this person? Old boyfriend?“

“Not quite. I don’t suppose you’ve remembered where you heard the phrase?”

“Nope, sorry B.”

“Well, if you do, come find me. It’s quite important that I know.”

“You got it B.” Buffy hopped off the desk and headed for the door.

“One more thing Jo.” Joey spun around to look at Buffy. “Why do you call me B?”

“Well, it’s short and sweet. Kinda like you kid!”

Buffy laughed and let herself out. She berated herself for blowing this whole situation out of proportion. She had freaked out Joey twice already and she still had no idea where she had heard the “five by five” expression. Buffy decided to buy herself a much-deserved cup of coffee. She forced herself to forget about Joey, Faith and odd expressions, and settled down to thinking about her upcoming Psychology assignment.

Back in her room, Joey finished typing her 200th paragraph and switched off her computer. She plopped onto her bed and reached for the phone. She was about to dial when she realised she didn’t have the number she needed. Replacing the receiver, she rummaged through her bedside drawer until she found the book of matches with a number scribbled on it. She dialed, waited for the receptionist to answer and asked to be connected to room 508. The phone rang once before being answered. Joey didn’t do formalities. All she said was “she knows” before hanging up.

*****

It had been a week since Buffy had spoken to Joey, yet she hadn’t been able to shake the feeling that Joey had not been at all honest with her. Going with her instinct, she cajoled Willow into hacking into the college computers to try and dig up whatever she could on Joey. Willow was not too pleased about using her skills to invade people’s privacy, but all Buffy had to do was mention the “F” word and Willow would have happily hacked into the Pentagon. Buffy went to work on drawing up a rough copy for her Psychology assignment while Willow worked her magic on the computer. About half an hour later, Willow was almost in, having only to type in one more password to gain full access to the student files. She had tried so many combinations that her head felt like a calculator. She looked to Buffy who was practising a few roundhouse kicks and asked for a few suggestions.

“Is it a word or numbers?” Buffy punctuated her sentence with two uppercuts.

“It must be a word. I’ve tried all the possible digit codes.”

“How many letters?” Jab.

“Three. I’ve tried a few popular passwords, but no luck so far.”

“How about sex?” Willow blushed. “Mind. Gutter. You. Try it as a password you red-headed jezebel!”

Willow tapped the keys and heard the “ping’ as it was accepted. She squealed with delight and Buffy celebrated with a firm side-kick. She typed in Rigby, Joey and waited while the computer loaded the information. Her file had all the information they wanted, except there seemed to be nothing out of the ordinary. Joey was an honours student, participated in various activities and had yet to miss a class. It almost seemed too perfect. There was nothing here to connect her to Faith, save for the fact that she was originally from Boston, and that was nothing to write home about. Willow could see the frustration on her friend’s face as she searched the screen for something incriminating, something to back up her gut feeling about Joey. Alas, it was not to be, and Buffy threw herself on her bed with a sigh of exasperation.

“Slayer sad. Slayer not doing proper job.” Willow chuckled as Buffy minimised the English language once again.

“Buffy, I know you might not want to hear this, but I think you’re off base on this one. And the paranoia doesn’t suit you. I mean, it’s good for stuff like, you know, spotting people who aren’t really people, but for people who are people, it’s just kinda freaky. Ok?” Buffy nodded. She decided then and there to forget the whole thing. No more snooping on Joey, no more bullying Willow and most importantly, no more thinking about Faith. That chapter of her life was over, and it was a chapter that she had no desire to repeat.

Unfortunately for Buffy, when slumber beckoned, all the fears and thoughts that she had hidden so well broke the surface, and her dreams were plagued by images of the past. She smelled blood, dust, sweat; all mingled with the unmistakable force of adrenalin, and something else. Something else underneath all the carnage. It was a musky scent, distinctively human yet she could not identify its source. She tossed in bed, taunted by this fragrance that twisted her insides as well as making her feel safe and warm. This dream continued to play in her mind night after night, and Buffy was never able to turn around and look at the person who stood behind her. She told Willow about the dream and her take on it was that Buffy had unresolved issues about slaying creatures who were almost identical to humans. That can mess with a person’s mind. But not Buffy’s. She had dealt with those feelings a long time ago. This was something different, and for once in her life, Buffy was truly afraid. She was afraid of what she did not know, and she was afraid of what she did know, but was too scared to accept.

*****

It seemed as though centuries had passed since her encounters with Joey, yet barely a week had gone by since Buffy had given her the third degree. Still besieged with slaying and her killer Psychology assignment, Buffy had made herself scarce. Weaseling out of inquisitive looks from Willow and Xander, Buffy was to be found in her room during the day and the cemeteries and other suspicious haunts of Sunnydale during the night. She focussed solely on each individual task at hand, never straying from the look of sheer determination on her face. Giles silently observed this change in behaviour, seeing it for what it was: an escape. It was apparent to him that Buffy was hiding from something or someone, and this new focus – however beneficial – was just a way of refusing to deal with it. He tried to approach Buffy on two occasions, and after being frozen out both times, decided to leave Buffy to herself and give her some time. For all the clichés, patience was indeed a virtue, especially when it was a Slayer whose patience you were trying…

Buffy was on her way to the library, Psych books in hand, when she literally ran into Joey. Bending down to pick up her books, Buffy came face-to-face with an obviously embarrassed Joey. Buffy held herself back from confronting Joey – who she knew had lied to her – and waited for the other girl to speak. For once, it appeared that she was at a loss for words. Shifting her books under one arm, Buffy stared passively into Joey’s eyes, which made her highly uncomfortable. After a few seconds of the Slayer’s gaze, Joey dropped her eyes and let her shoulders sag. Relenting, she motioned for Buffy to follow her to a stone bench just outside the library. They seated themselves on the cold surface and waited. Joey spoke first.

“I lied you know. About what you asked me. I, I just didn’t quite know how to answer you, or what to tell you. I panicked. I’m not big on confrontation. In fact I’m wicked bad at it.”

Buffy took all of this in and inhaled and exhaled quietly for a minute. She could have throttled Joey then and there, but that certainly wouldn’t help her case. She had been right. She had gone with her gut, like she always did, and she had been right. Her mind raced, failing to hold on to the millions of questions that were bouncing around in her head, yet only one came out of her mouth:

“Where is she?”

Joey massaged her temples and began: “She’s in Sunnydale. Staying in some fleabag motel on the outskirts of town. No one knew she was here, except me, and now you. She hasn’t done anything wrong Buffy. Just leave her alone. She’s tired of running away from everyone and she just wants to get on with her life, without anyone judging her.” Buffy visibly flinched at that comment. She had never given Faith the benefit of the doubt. Always criticising her and her ways, instead of accepting their differences and trying to learn from her. Thinking back on it now, Buffy could not believe how pretentious and self-righteous she had been around Faith. Taking Psychology at college had been an excellent choice, as Buffy now realised that her criticisms of Faith were only masking the fear and jealousy that she felt. Faith’s independence and freedom of spirit were what Buffy imagined to be “the ideal”, but she was too weak to admit that. She wasn’t now.

“How do you know her Joey? Faith doesn’t make a habit of keeping people close.”

“I knew Faith when we were little kids. Our houses were opposite each other and we used to play Cowboys and Indians together. She was always the cowboy, and I always got my ass kicked.” Buffy let a small smile slip at the thought of little Faith whooping around a makeshift totem pole that poor Joey was tied to. “I hadn’t thought of her in years when she almost ran me over. She stopped to see if I was all right and I recognised her immediately. We got to talking and she asked me if I would fill her in on what had been happening around town. I call her once a week, except last week when I phoned to tell her that you knew she was back. She got really freaked. She didn’t want you to know she was here. It took me an hour to convince her that it was ok that you knew. It is ok, isn’t it?”

Buffy chewed on that tidbit for a while before giving a barely perceptible nod. She needed some time to take in the fact that Faith was back. She had to think about what she was going to say when she saw her again, and this was no longer about hate or revenge or jealousy. This was about admitting their respective faults and getting on with whatever their futures held for them. If it included each other, fine. If not, it was also ok. But Buffy was not going to make this decision on her own, and she certainly wasn’t going to make it now. She left Joey sitting on the bench and went back to her room to prepare her weapons for the evening’s slaying. She studied each stake carefully before selecting the two that looked the most lethal. She sat on her bed, cradling the two sharp pieces of wood, watching the sun go down. As it disappears, thought Buffy, so does all the good in this town. This in mind, she leapt off the bed, threw on her jacket and headed for the cemeteries. Her last thought as she closed the door, was of Faith.

*****

Buffy found herself in the cemetery where she had experienced her first kill. Unsure of what had been bestowed upon her, Buffy had nearly achieved the status of the youngest Slayer to ever be killed. She remembered the two vamps who had jumped her as she walked home, the looks on their faces as they pushed her face into the hard soil, each waiting to have a taste of her fine, sweet blood. She would never forget what those faces looked like as they turned to dust. She had been suffocating in the ground when a force took over her body. It felt like a thousand switches had been thrown and her body surged with an energy that could not and would not be human. She had thrown the vamps off her like they were paper dolls and then proceeded to stake them, marveling at what she was able to do.

Faith had asked her uncountable times if she got off on the kill. If she felt the power she wielded over vamps and demons and reveled in it. Buffy had always said no, but both she and Faith knew she was lying. She had to control herself with every ounce of will power in order to refrain from beating the living daylights out of each and every vamp, just so she could feel the tingles that encompassed her body. These feelings seem to multiply ten-fold when Faith had fought with her. She could feel the same source of energy reverberating off Faith and it increased the difficulty of holding back. She would often watch Faith dusting the vamps, glancing at her peripherally, awed at the fierceness that Faith projected when she killed. While Buffy was the more skillful of the two Slayers, Faith possessed an instinct that served her well. She was able to smell a vamp a mile off, even in a crowded club or a dingy back street bar. She used this gift to its full potential, just like she used her wits and her body. Faith was a survivor of Darwinian proportions. Fit, fast and determined to be the last person left standing if the world ever ended.

Buffy thought about all of this as she strolled through the cemetery, weaving her way through the headstones that marked the former residents of Sunnydale. She stopped and leaned against a large marble headstone, scanning the darkened area, squinting as she looked for signs of nocturnal activity. The inhabitants of Sunnydale, however brave, had come to the conclusion that walking around town after dark was not the most intelligent plan of action. Too many mysterious deaths and disappearances had discouraged them from running around alone during the night. As she turned to continue patrolling, Buffy caught a glimpse of someone watching her from behind a large oak tree. Her hands were itching for a kill, and she decided to wait for the vamp to attack her, needing the injection of adrenalin to give her a fix. She walked away from the tree, pretending to be lost, circling around the same area twice before she sensed some movement behind her. Stake clenched in hand, Buffy swung around, only to be met with the night air. She was positive that the vamp had been right behind her. Scolding herself for being off form, Buffy replaced the stake in the waistband of her jeans and exhaled loudly.

She felt a hand on her shoulder.

Reacting immediately, she lashed out with a right hook, only to have it stopped with a fist equally as strong as hers. Letting out a small cry of surprise, she stepped back and focussed on the person standing in front of her.

“It’s been a while B. See you haven’t lost your touch.” Buffy was speechless. She had no idea what to say to Faith. “I would ask if you’re happy to see me, but that look on your face says it all. You don’t have a clue why I’m here. Right?” Buffy merely shrugged.

“Don’t flatter yourself Faith. I don’t know and I don’t care.”

“Well you obviously care enough to give Joey the third degree. She told me you were acting all psycho on her.” Buffy could have held back from saying what she did next, but her confusion and anger got the best of her.

“Somehow, I think that’s your department Faith.” The blow was visibly painful to Faith, who chose to respond to the dig physically. She let loose a wild punch that Buffy easily ducked.

“Don’t tell me you want me to kick your ass again? Haven’t you had enough?” Buffy peered at Faith with condescending eyes.

“It’s never enough B. I want, I take and I have, and right now, I want to make you scream, take you down and have the satisfaction of seeing you on your knees.”

“Never gonna happen Faith,” said Buffy, already assuming her fighting stance.

“Oh, I think it’s about to Miss Teen Queen.” There was a pause as the Slayers sussed out each other, circling slowly, watching the other with sheer determination. Then, they attacked.

Both Slayers let fly with a flurry of short jabs and hooks, ducking and weaving their way around each other, trying to find enough space to connect a punch. Faith was the first to make contact, catching Buffy with a blur of a left hook directly on her jaw. Buffy backed off, rubbed the sore spot and consequently unleashed herself on Faith. A firm kick caught Faith in the stomach and she had to stop herself from doubling over to avoid the follow up kick that was aimed at her head. She wheezed slightly, having gotten lazy with regards to her training, but there was no way in hell that she was going to let Buffy see her in pain. She took a step back and smiled devilishly at Buffy, running her tongue over her full bottom lip. Buffy watched her, keeping her eyes trained on Faith, hesitating to blink. She could feel her heart pounding in her chest, and once again, she was surrounded by the scent that had been entering her dreams nightly. The environment around them had become almost surreal, and Buffy wondered for a split second if she was in fact, dreaming. When she found herself on her back, her head throbbing violently, she knew she was very much in reality. Faith had surprised her with a swift leg sweep - that had unceremoniously brought her to the ground – and she now stood over Buffy, head cocked to one side, studying the blonde Slayer.

“If you’re going to kill me, do it Faith. I’m through playing your little mind games,” Buffy spat out the words. On hearing this, Faith’s expression shifted to one of – what Buffy could only identify as – confusion. She was still standing over Buffy, but her posture was now relaxed. Just as Buffy was about to clamp Faith’s head with her feet, Faith did something very out of character. She stretched out a callused hand and gestured for Buffy to take it. Hesitant at first, Buffy took Faith’s hand and was helped up off the ground. What followed was an awkward silence where Buffy tried to figure out what the hell was going on. Faith merely stood in front of her, regulating her breathing, her eyes never moving from Buffy’s face. Finally, Buffy could not handle the silence anymore.

“What is going on? It’s bad enough I live in Sunnydale, now I’m having a Twilight Zone episode? What do you want from me Faith? Answer me! I’m not going to attempt to read your mind, so the quicker the better.” Faith looked at the ground, shoved her hands in her pockets and scratched the ground with the toe of her boot. This gesture made Buffy feel like the heel of the century. She saw so much innocence in Faith, so much potential, yet she insisted on treating her like a psychotic killer. Changing her tact, Buffy moved closer to Faith, close enough to feel the final breath of air as Faith breathed out.

“I tell you what. When you want to talk to me about what’s going on inside you, I’ll be available. Just don’t leave it too late.” Faith replied with what sounded like a snort of disbelief. Buffy turned on her heel and began to stride across the cemetery. She was not in the mood to slay anymore, so she took the route back to her dorm room.

On entering, she found Willow and Tara fast asleep on Willow’s bed, surrounded by spell books, candles and an assortment of herbs and potions. She smiled at the two sleeping Wiccans and blew out the single candle that was still burning on the dresser. She went through her bedtime ritual and fell into bed with a feeling of great unease. She had the same dream that night, only this time it was as vivid as it had ever been, and when she awoke, her body was covered in a light sheen of perspiration. Dragging herself out of bed, she grabbed her toiletry bag and headed for the showers. She stood under the hot spray for a good 20 minutes before being screamed at for using all the hot water. She dried herself and dashed across the hall to get dressed. As she opened the door, she noticed a piece of paper that appeared to be caught in the frame. On closer inspection, Buffy realised that her name was scrawled on the top of the page. Written underneath that was an address and a time: 11:00pm. Unfazed, Buffy placed the note on the dresser and went to get dressed. Faith wanted to talk.

*****

Buffy spent the remainder of her day attending her classes, catching up with Willow and in a surprise twist, trying to decide what to wear to her meeting with Faith tonight. She had not told anyone about Faith’s reappearance in Sunnydale, hoping to first resolve all their issues before moving onto the Scoobies and Giles. It was not going to be easy, but Buffy was willing to give Faith one more chance, but once that had been taken, there was not going to be another “get-out-of-jail-free” card. Literally. If Faith used this meeting to mess with Buffy’s head again, she was intent on beating the shit out of her and throwing her into the waiting arms of the police. But first things first; she had to pick an outfit.

The address on the note was a club by the name of Nightfall. It was located on the outskirts of Sunnydale and situated in a renovated basement – an underground club of the highest degree. Buffy had heard of it before but had yet to venture anywhere near it, which is why her ensemble was a huge dilemma. In order for Faith to treat her as an equal during their inevitable discussion, Buffy had to look confident and most importantly, she had to fit in. The last thing she wanted to do was stick out amongst the rabble, clad in her favourite pastel baby tee and cargo pants. While her closet was not exactly enormous, she managed to throw something together. Glancing at herself in the mirror, she performed a slow 360, examining the contours of her clothes as they rested on her body. Satisfied with the result, she changed back into her day clothes and searched her mind for something to do. It was only four in the afternoon, still a good two hours until the sun set and an excruciating seven until her rendezvous at Nightfall. Anything that remotely involved too much activity was vetoed, due to a possible confrontation with Faith, so Buffy simply decided to walk.

She exited her room only to find Randy in his usual position against the door, giggling wildly like a five-year old girl in a candy store. She waved to him as she walked past and continued down the hall. She passed Joey’s door, which was closed, but from inside she heard a keyboard screaming for mercy. She hesitated at the bright orange monstrosity that passed for the door, and then quietly turned the handle. Joey was seated on her chair, and Buffy flinched at the memory of the last time she was here. She had been right to trust her gut about Joey, but the way she almost bit her head off was unacceptable. Added to this, their meeting outside the library had not been an altogether pleasant one. It was time to apologise.

Buffy cleared her throat loudly, causing Joey to jump six feet out of her chair.

“Shit B! Do you make it a habit to scare the living daylights out of me? My heart is beating so fast I think I’m having a heart attack,” Joey said, clutching her chest for maximum effect. Buffy smiled sheepishly.

“Sorry Jo. I’m very used to being stealthy. I didn’t mean to scare you…again.”

Joey caught the double meaning behind Buffy’s words and gave her a warm smile as if to say that all was forgiven. She winked at Buffy and without another word, turned her attention back to her computer. Buffy headed for the door, amazed at the ease with which Joey had forgotten how forceful Buffy had been with her. At the last second, she asked Joey how her paper was coming along, genuinely interested in the thesis that Joey appeared to be writing. Joey smiled again, although this time it was more like a large grin, as she motioned Buffy over to the screen. Buffy focussed on the front page. Now it was her turn to smile as emblazoned in the middle of the screen was the title:

The role of women in our modern society: slaying the demons.

She left Joey’s room and made her way out into the open air, where she walked around campus. This was an event that rarely occurred in the Slayer’s daily activities, tending to be put aside in order to save the world or pass her courses at college. She slowed her pace, observing all the people who strolled past her, studying them with a fresh perspective. It appeared that Buffy had undergone a form of transformation – and not in the bad, evil or mystical sense of the word – one that had freed her mind to appreciate something as simple as a walk. She strolled past a couple sitting under a tree and a thought of Riley flashed past her briefly. She had been meaning to speak to him again. Reflecting on what had happened, she concluded that she had been a little on the nasty side, but she would not let his puppy-dog eyes convince her to get back together with him. She had entered a new phase in her life, and she could feel it in and all around herself, which was why she was determined not to regress. It seemed ironic that she was just beginning to feel this new sense of self in conjunction with Faith’s reappearance in Sunnydale. It was a coincidence that suddenly did not seem so coincidental.

At that this point, Buffy noted, she had walked almost the entire area of the campus, save for a few places that would take her out of bounds. Marveling at the power of a brisk walk, she glanced at the sky, only to see that the sun was lazily drifting below the horizon. Surprised – but pleasantly at that – Buffy picked up the pace and power-walked back to her room. Willow was on her computer, hacking away at something that looked like ancient calculus when Buffy entered, breathing heavily and covered in a healthy glow. Willow spun away from her computer in order to see what nasty demon had attacked Buffy. Instead, she saw that her friend looked as good as she ever had. Confused, Willow smiled when her friend told her that she had been working out, not fighting for her life. What made Willow even happier was that Buffy looked exhilarated, while at the same time, looking content and relaxed.

She commented on this and received a quizzical look from the Slayer, doubled with a slight realisation, although this only registered in Buffy’s mind. She was happy. She did feel exhilarated, and content, and relaxed. And again, it all came back to Faith. Buffy analysed the situation to the best of her ability and her conclusion was that the challenge of having Faith back in town was getting her juices flowing, keeping her on her toes. In her defense, the Hellmouth hadn’t exactly been the most happening joint in the world, and there was nothing more boring to a Slayer than no evil goings-on. She mentally patted herself on the back for being so insightful, and prepared for the evening’s patrol.

In the middle of her preparations, Willow interrupted her and offered to take over the night’s patrol. Buffy refused outright, as she was never keen to shirk her duties by passing them on to her friends, especially to friends who could get hurt easily. “Minus Slayer strength” was not a phrase she was fond of using, but she did in this case. Willow was unaffected, pleading her case with words like “Xander, Anya, Riley, Giles, Tara and big, scary demon killing weapons.” After arguing with the feisty, and obviously determined redhead for 20 minutes, Buffy relented. Willow sat back at her computer with a smug look on her face. She instructed Buffy to either get some sleep or do some work while she was out, and Buffy complied almost immediately by flopping onto her bed. She made a mental note to set her alarm for ten o' clock so she wouldn’t be late for her late night rendezvous with Faith. Willow left about 15 minutes later with Tara in tow, talking about her many near-death experiences with Buffy with such animation, that Buffy couldn’t help but smile.

Turning to her bedside table, Buffy grabbed her two dollar alarm clock and set it for ten, making sure the ring was on high before she replaced it and snuggled into her duvet, and for the first time in days, Buffy’s sleep was uninterrupted.

Buffy awoke to an annoying buzzing in her ear, which she quickly remedied by flailing out with her fist and silencing the offending object. It took her a few seconds to comprehend that she had just smashed her alarm clock into itty-bitty pieces. Silently cursing her Slayer strength – especially when it came to appliances – Buffy threw back the covers and began preparing for her meeting at Nightfall. She ran between her room and the bathroom so many times that she almost wore a hole into the floor. She actually stopped herself at one point and mentally gave herself a firm slap in the face. She was acting like a freshman in junior high who had a date with the star quarterback of the football team. Silly analogy really, but Buffy could not contain her excitement.

Her approach to this evening with Faith was two-fold: either the two of them would battle it out in some dark alley, or they would actually have a conversation. Either way, Buffy was prepared and raring to go. She glanced at her clock, which lay in multiple pieces on the floor, picked up her wristwatch and saw that it was 10:45pm. She had 15 minutes to get to Nightfall. Grabbing a small bag on the way out, she wrote Willow a short note to say that she had gone out to patrol on the far side of Sunnydale and would be back in the late hours of the morning. She left and began her journey to the club, and to Faith…

*****

Buffy told the cab driver to pull over about a block before Nightfall. She paid him and watched as the car’s exhaust made smoke circles in the wake of its exit. Buffy did find it surprising that the weather had changed almost as soon as she set foot out of the door. The warm nights Sunnydale was famous for had been replaced with what could only be described as gloom. Dark clouds hovered in the sky, threatening to shower the inhabitants and making good on that threat approximately every ten minutes. She spotted the red neon sign that flashed the club’s name at two-second intervals and made her way towards it. She kept glancing behind her, expecting to see Faith standing there, weapon in hand and ready to pounce. Instead, she was greeted with the steam rising from the previously hot asphalt that had been released by the rain.

At the door, a burly, bearded man gave Buffy the once-over before nodding her through, which was just as well. With the amount of adrenalin pumping through her system at this point, Buffy would have rearranged his limbs for him. She paid the entrance fee and stepped onto an escalator that took her down into the foyer of the club. She was met with a barrage of strobes, lights and lasers, all flashing onto a dance floor where bodies gyrated in sync with the thunderous beat that Buffy could feel pounding beneath her feet. She weaved her way through the mass and was about halfway when she stopped dead. Her feet froze and any coherent thought that had been present made a quick departure.

Faith was leaning with her back to the bar, nursing a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other. She was clad in her trademark leather pants, which hugged her slim form so tightly that it appeared to have molded to her skin. Her leather jacket, which she had removed due to the intense heat in the club, lay on a stool next to her. Her upper body was encased in a red halter-top that showed off her firm arms as well as giving her decidedly feminine curves. She had cut her hair since the last time Buffy had seen her, opting for a sleek shoulder-length style that attributed a certain grace to her stance. She bopped subconsciously to the music, moving her hips ever so slightly to keep in time with the beat. Buffy was so enchanted watching Faith’s movements that she did not even realise when Faith began walking towards her. Only when Faith was a few feet away, did Buffy snap out of her trance and make eye contact. Faith stood her ground, cigarette dangling from her lips as she took a long drag and blew the stream of smoke up towards the ceiling. She followed that with a long sip of her drink. Buffy could not help but continue to stare at Faith. She seemed so confident and comfortable, while Buffy was having a mini panic attack and having trouble remembering her own name.

“Glad you could make it B,” said Faith, taking a final drag of her cigarette and crushing it out on the floor.

“You might not be saying that later.” Buffy had to scream in order to be heard over the din of the music. Again, Faith looked at Buffy with the same confused expression that she had that night at the cemetery, only this time it was coupled with a definitive look of pain.

“Use your head Twinkie, if I wanted to knock the shit out of you, I wouldn’t have invited you to a club with 100 witnesses. Slaying is for Slayers and vamps, not the general public.”

“Well someone’s whistling a very different tune…” Faith interrupted her by grabbing her arm and pulling her off the dance floor towards a door that led to a chill room.

Usually used for relaxing during sessions of fast-paced dancing, the room was empty, save for a couple of sofas, bean bags and some dingy lighting. Faith threw the door open and consequently threw Buffy into the room. The door shut behind them, effectively shutting out the noise from the main dance floor, and giving Buffy a chance to vehemently protest Faith’s rough treatment of her. She was about to let go one of her famous right hooks, when Faith sat down on the sofa and patted the space beside her. Buffy was having trouble dealing with all the conflicting emotions she was experiencing. From hate to pity, from anger to compassion, the situation was bordering on the ludicrous.

“Sit.”

“Do I look like one of your pets.”

“Sit. Please.” Buffy relented, and took her place next to Faith.

"So what’s up? I get a little cryptic note to meet you, having only found out that you were in town a few days ago, and now you expect me to act like nothing happened? Whatever you’ve been smoking, cut down."

“B, could you just shut up and not ride my ass for two seconds? Christ. I’ll tell you why we’re here if you’ll let me get a word in! That’s one of your problems you know. You never know when to stop talking.” Faith shifted her position so that she was cross-legged and facing Buffy.

“I wasn’t happy.” At this, Buffy opened her mouth to make a glib comment but Faith shot her a look that made her close it very quickly.

“I could never understand why I had this remarkable ability to screw up all the good stuff that happened to me, so I went back home to find it. And I did. I found it. Or I should say, I found her. She was shacked up in some shitty motel with some arbitrary guy. It took me four days to find her, because every desk clerk at every place said she was a guest of theirs. So I find her, and I say to her: “Hey ma, it’s me, it’s Faith. I’m just here to say that you fucked up my life royally, and because you did such a good job, I’m gonna repay the favour.” And I look at her and I see her, I mean, I really see her. And just like that, I don’t hate her anymore. I still think what she did to me was fucked up, but I see that she only did it because she was weak. And I’m not weak. And I’m not gonna end up in some shitbag motel going down on some asshole because I need a fix so bad that I don’t recognise my own daughter…”

Faith trailed off, her smoky voice catching in her throat, causing her to cast her eyes towards the floor. Buffy had never quite learned how to handle Faith – and she supposed that was some of the thrill about Faith – but this situation called for only one reply. Buffy stretched out a hand and laid it tentatively on Faith’s knee. When this action was not met with any argument, Buffy took a chance and wrapped her arms around Faith, pulling her into a comforting embrace. She held her for what seemed like an eternity before Faith returned to defense mode and pulled away. Buffy was hesitant to break the contact, having felt some of the real Faith slipping through the harsh exterior she showed to the world. She left her hand resting gently on Faith’s knee, and when she had finally processed all that Faith had told her, she asked her question:

“What did you do?”

“I left. I looked at her one last time, and I left.”

There was a brief pause before Faith uncrossed her legs and jumped up off the sofa. “Well that’s enough bleeding heart stories for me. Whadda you say B? You up for a repeat dance performance a la the Bronze?” Buffy smiled and Faith motioned her towards the door.

As she opened the door, the intense heat from the club hit Buffy like a well-aimed punch. She could almost taste the frenetic energy pulsing from the dance floor, and she could feel the beat of the music drumming in her stomach. Faith walked behind her, her hand on Buffy’s lower back, guiding her towards a spot in the centre. The two Slayers consequently got caught behind a group of people waiting to get to the bar on the opposite side of the dance floor, and stood, waiting for the mass of people to move. Buffy could feel Faith’s hand on her back and her touch was so soft, yet it felt as if her palm was searing Buffy’s skin. Buffy drew in a quick breath when Faith leant in close to her ear and murmured “Looking good B.”

Buffy turned around and flashed Faith a brilliant smile, while at the same time, blushing inwardly like a guilty child. Only then did she realise that she was dressed almost identical to Faith. She had toughened up her look in order to be more intimidating to Faith, but instead, she came across as imitating her. She wore a pair of tight black pants, a black halter-top that tied at the back and a pair of killer black boots. Her blonde hair was slightly disheveled from the humidity in the club, but other than that, she looked as she always did: perfect. The people in front of them moved towards the bar and Faith nudged Buffy forward. They continued walking until Faith tugged on Buffy’s arm, indicating that she had found them the perfect spot. Buffy turned to face her and waited. It might have been a good idea to dance, but so much had happened since their night at the Bronze, that Buffy was unsure about how to start.

It appeared that Faith had picked up on this, as she sauntered over to Buffy, placed her hands on her shoulders and instructed her to close her eyes and forget about everything around her. Buffy complied, if only to avoid the piercing gaze of Faith’s soft brown eyes, and began swaying to the music. It was easy to slip into the rhythm, and Buffy was soon focussed solely on the movements her body was making. Faith watched her, fascinated by the similarities between Buffy’s dancing and the way she fought vamps. There was a certain grace to her movements, coupled with a deep-seated passion that invaded the space around her. It was not only Faith that noticed this. Soon enough, most of the eyes in the room were focussed on the petite blonde as she ate up the music.

Buffy opened her eyes to find Faith watching her intently. She glanced behind her, out of habit, to check if there was an unfriendly vamp waiting to take her head off, but was met with nothing. Turning her attention back to Faith, Buffy cocked her head to the side and looked at Faith quizzically.

“What?” Buffy placed her hands on her hips.

“Nothing.”

“Well nothing is obviously very interesting.”

“Ha ha.”

“Apparently very funny too.”

“Just shut up and dance B.”

“I will if you will.”

“Do I smell a challenge?”

“Faith, this is dancing, not a wrestling match!”

“Depends on how you look at it,” said Faith with a wide grin.

Buffy let out an exasperated sigh and began moving to the beat. Faith matched her movements and stepped into Buffy’s personal space so that Buffy could almost catch the scent of the red lipstick she wore. Buffy didn’t step back, accepting the challenge and refusing to back down. To reply, she stepped closer to Faith so that their arms were brushing against each other while they moved. Faith responded by circling around Buffy and taking up a position behind her. She moved in sync with the blonde Slayer, who in a daring gesture, lifted her arms behind her and placed them around Faith’s neck. Faith was taken aback - almost losing her rhythm in the process – but she recovered in time to place her hands on Buffy’s hips. By this point, both Slayers were breathing heavily. Firstly, the frenetic pace of their dancing had their skin glowing, and secondly, there was something in the air between them that could only be described as combustible.

Buffy closed her eyes as Faith’s hands traveled down over her hips and thighs, her fingers pressing into the taught muscles of Buffy’s legs. Buffy responded in kind, letting her arms drop and placing her hands on the top part of Faith’s legs. The two Slayers, completely oblivious to the change in music, began to grind their bodies, using their hips and pelvises to great effect. All eyes were now on the two of them, and just when it seemed that Buffy would pull away, Faith spun her around so that they were facing each other. Intense brown eyes met unwavering blue as the music began building to a crescendo. It seemed as if the world around them had come to an abrupt halt, and the only reality that existed for either of them was each other. Faith danced like her entire body was on fire, fast and furious, and Buffy’s movements were parallel. And then it stopped.

The song finished and there was a brief pause as the next number was cued, but it was during this split second that Buffy opened her eyes and looked at Faith. She looked at her as though she had never laid eyes on her before, and what she saw made her hold her breath. Faith had slowed down and was dancing to a rhythm of her own, and Buffy watched her, seeing for the first time who stood in front of her. Here was a girl who had been chosen to have the same destiny as her, yet she was Buffy’s opposite in almost every way. She challenged Buffy, pushed her to her limits, and took her to a level where no one else could touch them. Indeed, there was never a dull moment when Faith was around, but it was more than that. Being around Faith excited Buffy in more ways than one, but tonight, she was willing to admit it. Faith was her soul mate. Half of a whole that, when together, brought about a force that was unbeatable.

So she looked at Faith again, but instead of saying anything, Buffy was dragged off the dance floor. She found herself at the bar and within a few seconds, four drinks were placed in front of her. She was about to refuse it when Faith laid out a few dollars, thanked the bartender, and pushed two drinks towards Buffy. Faith raised her hand as Buffy began to speak.

“I’m not listening until you finish both of these.” Faith motioned to the shooters.

“I was just going to ask if they were doubles,” said Buffy as she picked up and knocked back both shots.

“Well shit B! They did teach you something in college!” Faith let out a hearty chuckle and slapped Buffy on the back. “But here’s how the pro’s do it.”

Faith placed her hands behind her back and used only her mouth to down the shot. She repeated this, tapping the second glass on the counter when she was done. Grinning widely, Faith performed a mock bow. Determined not to be defeated, Buffy ordered another round and attempted to mimic what Faith had done. She motioned for Faith to down hers first before trying her luck hands-free. The first shot went down well, but the second landed up on her chin, as well as her fingers as she tried to catch the wayward glass. Faith laughed as Buffy tried to clean herself up, but stopped as soon as Buffy began licking her fingers in an overtly sexual manner. Faith could only stare open-mouthed as the blonde cleaned each of her fingers.

Buffy giggled at the expression on Faith’s face, and wiped down her hands on her pants. As she gestured to Faith that they head back to the dance floor, Faith caught her chin with her hand, turned her face to the side and licked the side of Buffy’s lip.

“You missed a spot.”

After that, Buffy and Faith headed back towards the dance floor, and remained there for the rest of the night. They gyrated, thrashed, bopped and pulsed when the music called for it, sometimes dancing so fast that the orbit of the earth seemed to lag. It was about 5:00am when Buffy glanced at her watch and save for a few employees, her and Faith were the only ones left. Both of them were exhausted and they stopped in their position in the middle of the dance floor, and caught their breath. By this point, the DJ was long gone and a CD was playing in his place, which was why the music had changed considerably. A slow song began to play and Faith was just about to head to the bar when Buffy stopped her and held out her hand to Faith. Faith was confused at first, thinking that Buffy was gesturing that she wanted something. It took her a few seconds to realise that she didn’t have anything with her and it was during that time that Buffy laid her hand on Faith’s shoulder.

“One last dance?” Buffy brought her hands up and placed them around Faith’s neck.

“Oh come on B. You know this ain’t my style. Plus, people will stare at you.”

“Firstly my fellow Slayer, this is anybody’s style, and secondly, people have been staring at us the whole night. What difference will another song make?”

“You’re shitting me right? Since when does Buffy the beautiful, bountiful chosen one dance with Faith the freaky, fucked up second choice?”

“Since now.”

Buffy pulled herself closer to the taller Slayer and rested her head on Faith’s shoulder. She felt Faith’s hands slip around her waist and she felt as Faith breathed in the scent of her hair. They barely moved to the music, their movements visible only by their feet shifting from side to side. They stayed like this throughout the song, and when it was over, they still remained in each other’s arms. Neither of them pulled away. Instead, Faith hugged Buffy closer to her and Buffy responded by tightening her grip around Faith. A normal human being would have been crushed by either of their grips, but the two Slayers hung on to each other until the lights came up. Faith was the first to pull away. She let go of Buffy and beamed from ear-to-ear, projecting the way Buffy was feeling. She then dashed off the dance floor, picked up her leather jacket from behind the bar and sprinted back.

“You coming?” Faith was already heading towards the door.

“Where to?”

“You’ll see.”

“I’m not a fan of surprises.”

“Trust me. You’ll like this one.” Faith held the door open for Buffy who, as she walked past, took Faith’s chin in her hand and licked Faith’s bottom lip. Stunned, Faith nearly let the door slam as Buffy said, “You missed a spot” and continued past her. Smiling, Faith shook her head and followed Buffy out into the early morning.

The air outside was a welcome relief from the smoky interior of Nighfall, and the girls filled their lungs with rain-scented oxygen. The heat from the previous day had turned the pavements to steam, and it rose up over them, creating a halo effect. Buffy shivered involuntarily, having neglected to bring a jacket with her, and Faith handed Buffy her leather jacket without saying a word. Buffy snuggled into the warmth of the leather, noticing how it was covered in Faith’s unique scent, and inhaled deeply, dizzying herself for a moment. She looked expectantly at Faith, who merely began walking down the street, jumping in puddles and kicking stray pieces of gravel. Anytime Buffy asked where they were going, she was met with silence, so after the third time, she gave up.

They walked a few blocks until they came to a blue door that was situated, literally, in the wall. There was a faded sign on the door that read: The Blue Room, and Faith opened it and walked in. Buffy followed and was met by the closing strains of a jazz/blues song. The room was decorated with a few chairs and tables that were arranged around a small wooden stage, and most of them were occupied. Faith chose a table on the far right of the stage and waved to the singer on stage as she and Buffy sat down. There were no windows in the room, and a creaky ceiling fan circulated the miniscule amount of air that was present. The singer finished her set and was met with a hearty round of applause from the patrons. She bowed slightly and took to the microphone again.

“Thank you, thank you so much ladies and gentlemen. That’s it for me tonight, and usually this would mean it’s time to pack your bags and go back to the real world…” this was met with chuckles all around. “But tonight we have someone very special in the house and it’s not often that we can persuade her to get up here and sing us a little song, but I think that if we ask her really nicely, she’ll grace us with one. What do you say folks?”

There were whoops and whistles from all corners of the room as the singer turned to her left and gestured to the table that the two Slayers occupied. “What do you say Miss Faith? Grace us with a song?”

Buffy nearly fell off her chair, and Faith blushed a deep shade of red as she waived off the continuing cheers. The singer gestured towards Faith with the microphone until someone took her out of her chair and pushed her towards the stage. Shaking her head viciously, Faith took the microphone from the singer, flipped her the bird, and smiled graciously. She cleared her throat loudly into the microphone and made a huge show of “preparing” herself, until a man sitting at the back shouted at her to start.

“Down boy. Are you always in such a hurry to get started?” This received some catcalls from neighboring tables and Faith shushed them with a wave of her hand. Buffy was, once again, dumbfounded by this turn of events and she sat back in her chair as the band began to play a slow blues number. Faith closed her eyes, cradled the microphone in both hands and began to sing. Her voice was perfectly suited to blues, containing a smoky, husky quality that reached down into your chest and simmered there quietly. Buffy could only watch as Faith swayed to the music, captivating all the people in the room with a song that cut so deep with equal amounts of pain, tenderness, lust and compassion.

	One last slow blues/to close the show
	I watched you dance with her/you know it hurt me so
	Why would you bring a new love around/around so soon
	Why would you wanna rub/salt in my wounds

At the end of the first verse, people were already applauding, and this continued all the way to the end of the song. Buffy clapped until her palms felt like they would start to bleed, amazed at what Faith had done up on that stage. Faith declined an encore and took up her place again at the table. Buffy merely shook her head in disbelief.

“Come here often Faith?”

“Bad line B, and yes, they know my face around here.”

“Evidently. I didn’t know you could sing. And I didn’t know you could sing like that.”

“I might have neglected to mention it the last time you were beating me senseless.”

Buffy dropped her eyes to the floor as she said: ”Faith, grant me one request. Can we leave the verbal daggers, just for now? I mean, this has been one of the most amazing, if not the most amazing night of my life, and I don’t want to spoil it by dredging up the past. Can we do that? Can we try?”

“You got it B.”

So they sat, blonde and brunette, facing each other, not saying a word, merely enjoying the silence and each other’s company. They stayed this way until they could see the faint beams of sunlight shining in under the door. They exited the club and found that it was still raining lightly - the “sunlight” having been the flickering streetlight from outside – and they stood side-by-side on the pavement, the soft drops of rain beading on their hair and clothing. Buffy shivered again and Faith began pulling off her jacket, but was stopped.

“I’m not cold Faith. I just don’t want this night to end.”

“I got news for you B, it ended about seven hours ago.”

“You know what I mean.”

“Yeah I do, but there’ll be other nights. Don’t you worry girlfriend, this is not the end.”

“You mean it?”

“Trust me.” Faith looked to Buffy as she said this, and Buffy realised that Faith was asking the most that she had ever asked of her.

“I do Faith. I trust you.”

With that, Faith shoved her hands in her pockets and looked to the floor, hoping to disguise the fact that her eyes were welling up with an eternity of tears. She attempted to cough, but it came out as a sob and that opened the floodgates. For the second time, Buffy took Faith into her arms, and held her while the dark-haired Slayer cried from her very core. Her entire body heaved and Buffy could feel Faith’s pain as it ebbed out of her, echoing into the falling rain. They stood like that until Faith’s body ceased to shake, and Buffy wiped away the tears that streaked Faith’s beautiful face. She murmured softly into Faith’s ear, whispering words of comfort, brushing her hair out of her face and leaving soft kisses on her cheeks and forehead. Faith became very still, and Buffy continued to comfort her with praise and tenderness, noticing that the very air they breathed had suddenly become very thin. Faith felt it too.

Neither of them knew what to do, yet both of them knew what they wanted to do, and for once, Faith made the right decision. She tilted her head down towards the blonde Slayer and laid the softest kiss on her lips, so soft it would have barely registered on anyone else, but Buffy felt it with every inch of her body. Her lips tingled from the sensation of Faith’s lips and mixed with the taste of the rain, it was both the most romantic and exotic kiss she had ever experienced. Although there were billions of thoughts racing through her head, Buffy only latched onto one, and that was to kiss her back. Their eyes still closed, Buffy tentatively sought out Faith’s mouth and reciprocated with the same kiss. Faith inhaled deeply and ran her tongue over Buffy’s lips, eventually parting them and deepening the already electrifying sensations by sliding her tongue in and out of Buffy's mouth.

Buffy let her arms fall to her sides and Faith took her hands, linking them with her own as their tongues continued to caress each other’s lips and mouths. When Faith took Buffy’s bottom lip in her mouth and nipped it with her teeth, Buffy’s knees buckled and the dark-haired Slayer caught her before she hit the ground. Pulling Buffy to her feet, Faith searched the blonde Slayer’s eyes for any signs of hesitation, and on finding none, continued to explore her mouth and lips. Then Buffy pulled away and Faith almost died at the decrease in contact, but Buffy looked at her through glazed eyes and said, “You missed a spot.” With that, Buffy turned her head to the side, revealing what every vampire would literally kill for: access to the Slayer’s neck.

Faith gently kissed her way down Buffy’s mouth and chin, finally settling on the sensitive area around her jugular. She spent time licking and kissing Buffy’s soft skin until the smaller Slayer suddenly exhaled, pulled her up to eye level and dragged her towards the wall. Faith didn’t argue, propelling herself with Buffy until the blonde Slayer’s back slammed into the wall so hard that the bricks cracked. By now, mouths, lips and tongues had begun to merge into a single entity, and both Slayers upped the intensity of their movements. Buffy’s hands gripped Faith’s buttocks, squeezing the flesh beneath the tight leather, while Faith’s hands roamed over Buffy’s breasts, cupping each one as she teased Buffy’s mouth with her tongue. Buffy could feel the blood rushing to her head as Faith trailed her fingers up her thighs, stopping only briefly to caress the growing warmth that was encased by her black pants.

“Faith…,” Buffy’s breathing had become slightly ragged.

“Yeah B.” Faith’s voice was muffled as she buried her face in Buffy’s neck.

“What are we doing?” At this, Faith brought herself up to face Buffy.

“I know what I’m doing. Do you?”

“I think so.” Faith stepped back.

“'Think' is not good enough B. You have to know. If you don’t, then I’m gonna take my shit and get the hell outta here. You know why I’m here, the reason why I can’t just up and leave this shitty town. Even if you don’t feel the same, grant me the courtesy of being honest with me.”

“Ok. I don’t know Faith, and yes I’m being honest with you. I don’t know if I feel the same, but what I do know is that even if I don’t, I can’t go one more millisecond without having you touch me. Is that good enough?”

“That’s good enough for now.” Faith cocked a finger at Buffy. “Come here.”

Buffy stepped forward and waited, looking Faith directly in the eye. Faith took another step closer until her mouth was right next to Buffy’s ear.

“Say it Slayer. Tell me what you want.” Buffy could barely breathe as she whispered: “You.”

With that, Faith wrapped a strong arm around Buffy and pulled her to the street where a shiny motorcycle was parked. Buffy didn’t argue as Faith shorted the ignition and revved the bike until there was smoke streaming from the exhaust. Faith hopped onto the bike and Buffy followed suit, wrapping her arms around Faith’s waist as she gunned the motor and sped off down the street, high-tailing it towards her motel. Buffy rested her head against Faith’s shoulder as they whipped through the streets of Sunnydale, and Faith smiled at the contact. Hastening down a deserted street with Buffy wrapped around her, Faith could honestly say that this was the happiest she had ever been.

*****

The ride to Faith’s motel was almost surreal. If either of the girls had not been solely focussed on feeling each other’s presence, they might have noticed that the scenery raced past them in the shapes and forms of abstract art, but neither girl could have cared about the texture or shape of a tree.

When the air between two people was as electrified as it was between Buffy and Faith, the world could have sunk into oblivion and they would still only have eyes for each other. The roads were wet from the consistent fall of rain and Faith executed a few well-timed wheel spins, causing Buffy to strengthen her grip around Faith’s waist. When Faith stopped at a red light at a deserted intersection, Buffy nuzzled her neck, and Faith was seriously considering leaving the motel and taking Buffy right then and there over the motorbike. Buffy sensed Faith’s impatience and whispered to her to switch off the engine for a while.

Any two girls would have been labeled certifiable if they stopped in the middle of a deserted Sunnydale street just before dawn, but these were not just any two girls. These were the Chosen Two who had finally realised that their lives and destiny’s were forever entwined, and it was fate, or perhaps lady luck, that played a role in taking that sacred bond to the most intimate level.

Faith wasted no time at all, switching the engine off and turning to face Buffy, but she was too slow, as the petite blonde had already climbed off the bike and settled herself between Faith and the handlebars, facing the taller girl with sparkling green eyes. The rain was still steady and tiny droplets covered their faces and clothes. Faith rested her hands on Buffy’s waist and proceeded to lick the droplets off Buffy’s chin, nose and lips, sucking her mouth gently as she drank her in, feeling the tension mounting as her rain-soaked leather pants and jacket took on a sensual nature. Buffy ran her hands through Faith’s hair as she moved her tongue to meet Faith’s, raking her fingers through the long, dark strands, squeezing fistfuls to steady her growing desire for the younger Slayer.

Faith ran a hand over Buffy’s drenched halter-top, pressing the material down in the process and consequently making Buffy’s nipples harden at her touch. Faith brushed the hard buds gently with her fingers and Buffy gasped at such intimate contact, throwing her head back and arching her back. This move gave Faith all the access she needed to explore Buffy’s upper body with her hands and tongue, although she did not remove Buffy’s top. Instead, she bent down and licked and sucked Buffy’s breasts through her top, running her hands all over Buffy’s upper body, feeling the hard muscles rippling in her arms and shoulders as she arched into Faith’s touch. Faith continued her assault on Buffy’s chest and neck until the blonde’s breath was ragged and steaming into the brisk air. When she felt like she would suffocate, Buffy brought herself up quickly to meet Faith’s lips again. She could not get enough of Faith’s soft, full lips and her tongue that tasted like cherry cola and cinnamon.

She kissed Faith aggressively until both their lips felt bruised with desire and their strong hands had begun to roam towards each other’s lower bodies. Faith inhaled violently as Buffy placed her palm over Faith’s crotch and she quickly drew Buffy’s hand away. She wanted to save this for when the two of them were in a place where she could lavish adequate attention on Buffy in her entirety.

“Wait.” Faith took Buffy’s face in her hands and placed gentle kisses on her lips and cheeks.

“I don’t think I can wait any longer Faith. I know you think this might be some stupid spur-of-the-moment thing for me, but so help me, I’ve wanted you from the moment I laid eyes on you.” Buffy began planting small tongue kisses on Faith as she spoke. “I’ve wanted to touch you, and be touched by you, and now that it’s happening, I….I just can’t get enough of you. The way you smell, the way your mouth looks after I’ve kissed you, the way your lips taste. I want to explore every inch of you that way, and no, I can’t wait.” Crushing Buffy’s mouth against hers, Faith took one last taste of Buffy and started the engine again. Buffy merely swiveled around and leant against Faith as they took off down the street.

Every second that passed felt like an hour and no matter how fast Faith drove, the road just seemed to get longer. Buffy rested the back of her head in the crook between Faith’s neck and shoulder, turning her head occasionally to kiss Faith’s chin or neck. The dark-haired slayer could barely concentrate on the road, as she was having trouble comprehending what had begun and what was about to happen. She had fantasized and visualized this moment a thousand times in her head, but the difference was that she could feel the heat of Buffy’s body against hers as they whipped through the streets, and that made all the difference. Faith snapped out of her daze to hear Buffy talking to her softly. She couldn’t quite make out what she was saying due to the hum of the bike, but this was all but forgotten as Faith’s motel came into sight. Faith spun the bike hard, leaving tire tracks and the smell of burnt rubber behind her and came to a screeching halt in front of her motel room.

Faith could barely think straight at this point and she left the bike running as she jumped off the bike and fumbled for her room key. Buffy swung her legs over the bike and sidled up to Faith, whose hands were shaking in her haste to open the door. Buffy slipped her hand up the back of Faith’s top and brought them round to gently cup her breasts. Faith almost keeled over with desire and struggled further to find her key. When Buffy’s small hands began to knead Faith’s full breasts slightly, Faith let herself be touched, sinking into the mix of feelings and sensations that she was experiencing. Faith found it ironic that Buffy could be so focussed and in control when she was slaying - holding back and refusing to enjoy the act - while she had clearly become the aggressor with regard to their foreplay. This side of Buffy was not new to Faith. She had sensed it in the blonde Slayer, and was almost honoured that she had been the one to bring it out. Now Buffy’s hands were roaming freely around Faith’s torso and the younger Slayer was about ready to pop. “Fuck it.” Stepping away from Buffy, Faith turned around, picked her up in the newlywed stance and with a mighty kick, shattered the door to her room into a mixture of stakes and splinters.

“Since when do Slayers need keys.” Buffy giggled at this display of aggression from Faith and tightened her grip around Faith’s neck. Faith responded by lifting the smaller Slayer as close to her as possible and laying light kisses on her soft lips. Buffy let this continue, realising that Faith’s need for comfort and intimacy had overtaken her “get some, get gone” policy, and she was only too happy to be supplying that intimacy. Faith gently released Buffy onto the floor until she was standing upright, gazing at Faith with a severe look of lust in her eyes. Many people had stared at Faith with that same look in their eyes, but never before had it been coupled with compassion. Added to that, Faith had never felt anything for someone who looked at her like that, which is why her heart began to beat faster and a wave of panic washed over her. She wished for a split second that Buffy knew nothing about her, because that meant no expectations, no explanations and no “oh-my-god-what-have-we-done” speeches afterwards.

Buffy noted the change in Faith’s mood and decided that it was definitely time to up the ante. She had heard all about Faith’s many sexual escapades, and she had been ashamed to admit that the stories had turned her on. She now had the opportunity to find out if everything she had heard was true, and she was tired of waiting. She didn’t want Faith to think that she was here to get laid, but she was still mulling over her feelings for the younger Slayer. What they were about to do would either clarify a lot for Buffy, or confuse her even more, and that was a chance she was willing to take. She started by taking Faith’s hand in hers, studying the rings on her fingers, and stroking the calluses from using wooden stakes. She kissed each finger tenderly, giving special focus to Faith’s index finger on which rested a simple silver band.

“Faith. Faith. I don’t even know your last name.”

“Does it matter B?”

“It does when you look at me like that.” Faith’s eyes were now as smoky as her voice.

“What can I say B, I’m a fan of the single monogram. You know, Faith, like Cher or Madonna.” Faith brushed a strand of blonde hair out of Buffy’s eyes.

“That’s great F, but the only thing I’m a fan of right now is that mouth of yours. What do you say we make a no talking rule for the next few hours.”

“Hours? Well shit B, if you can, I can,” and with that Faith pounced. It was a mess of hands, hair and the sound of clothing rubbing against skin as the two Slayers grappled with each other. This time it was Faith who was slammed up against the wall and Buffy pinned the taller Slayer’s arms above her head. Although Faith could easily get out of the position, she had no desire to, focussed only on what was about to happen. Buffy’s eyes were closed as she kissed Faith until it seemed that she would suffocate. Faith eventually pulled out of the smaller Slayer’s grip and opened her mouth to speak, but she was silenced by Buffy’s finger over her lips. Buffy merely shook her head, indicating that there was no talking allowed. Faith nodded, smiled and then said the following:

“This is the last thing I’m going to say, I swear.”

“Ok. Shoot.”

“Right. I would happily fuck your brains out right here against the wall, but I need to deal with you properly. We need a bed.”

“Done.”

Buffy pried herself off Faith and walked over to the bed in the centre of the room. She sat down on the edge and rested on her elbows, her legs falling open slightly. It was all Faith could do to stop herself from drooling as she sauntered over to the bed and stood in between Buffy’s thighs. There was a brief pause as they sized each other up. Faith looked at Buffy expectantly, not wanting to push her into anything she didn’t want to do. Her fears, it seemed, were unfounded as Buffy opened her arms and drew Faith onto the bed. They started off slowly again, watching each other as they kissed and caressed each other’s mouths and lips, stopping only briefly to explore the soft curves of breasts and hips. Faith began to feel constricted by the layers of clothes separating them and straddled Buffy while she removed her own top. Buffy let her eyes wander over Faith’s breasts, drinking in the sight of them before reaching out and stroking them simultaneously. Faith let out a small gasp of pleasure and began to work off Buffy’s top. Buffy shifted so that Faith was able to remove the offending item, leaving both Slayers topless, as well as breathless.

Faith locked eyes with Buffy momentarily before bending down and taking a firm nipple in her mouth. She teased it with her tongue, circling it and gently nipping the edges. Using her one hand for support, Faith undid the buttons on Buffy’s pants, still focussed on pleasuring Buffy’s upper body. Buffy assisted Faith by squirming slightly and wriggling out of her pants. It took more time than usual, due to the clinging nature of the rain-soaked item, but once removed, it was worth all the effort. It appeared that Buffy had adopted a “Faithism” in their time apart, choosing to go sans underwear, and Faith was not complaining. She licked her lips lasciviously and continued to kiss and fondle Buffy’s breasts while placing the palm of her hand over Buffy’s crotch. Buffy began to breathe deeply and she pulled Faith toward her for another spine-tingling kiss.

The Slayers were so close to each other that at one point, they seemed to merge into one being, igniting the air around them and sending them closer to the frenzy they were both anticipating. Buffy all but ripped off Faith’s leather pants, needing to feel the warmth of the other girl as their activity increased.

They tumbled around on the bed for a while, both trying to gain the upper hand, but it was Faith who came out on top. She pinned Buffy’s arms to the bed and licked and kissed her way down Buffy’s body until she landed up at her inner thighs. Here, she slowed the strokes of her tongue, teasing the soft flesh, but not quite touching Buffy where she wanted to be touched. After a few minutes of this excruciating pleasure, Buffy let out a small plea, begging Faith to touch her. Smiling seductively, Faith worked her way up to Buffy again and kissed her deeply, and at the same time, slipped a finger in between Buffy’s soft folds. Tears appeared in Buffy’s eyes and Faith withdrew quickly, thinking she had hurt her. Buffy merely blinked the tears away and guided Faith’s hand back to where it had been, whispering into the dark-haired Slayer’s ear that this was just her way of releasing her emotions. Faith breathed a sigh of relief and continued with her exploration of Buffy’s folds. She stroked softly, wanting to draw this out as long as possible, and even Buffy’s persistent moans did not distract her.

Faith’s mouth had yet to leave Buffy’s and only when Faith slipped a second finger into her, did Buffy pull away for air. Faith began to increase the movement of her hand, occasionally brushing her thumb against Buffy’s inflamed bud, causing the blonde Slayer to bite down on her bottom lip. Faith saw this and covered Buffy’s mouth with her own, pulling away in order to look directly into Buffy’s shining green eyes as she worked her way down Buffy’s body once more. This time, there was no waiting. Faith dipped her tongue between Buffy’s thighs, licking and sucking at a slow pace, while her fingers increased their rhythm. Buffy began to thrust her hips against Faith’s hand and tongue, matching her rhythm to that of Faith’s. Faith could feel the muscles inside Buffy begin to contract and she thrust her fingers and tongue into Buffy with added excitement. Just when it seemed that Faith was going to bring Buffy over the edge, the blonde Slayer sat up and pulled Faith towards her.

Buffy positioned herself so that her legs were over Faith’s; slightly bent and Faith mirrored this position, except that her legs were under Buffy’s. The two Slayers now faced each other, naked and panting for each other. Faith was surprised at the turn in events. Had she done something wrong? She was still anticipating a moment where Buffy jumped up, grabbed her clothes and yelled “Psyche!” before running out the door. Instead, Buffy took Faith’s chin in her hand and almost breathless said “I want us both to and I want to see you.” With that, Buffy mimicked Faith’s earlier actions and slipped a finger between Faith’s thighs. The young Slayer was wet with desire and she reciprocated Buffy’s movement. They both began to work each other up, stroking and thrusting against each other’s fingers, maintaining eye contact and dipping their heads for the occasional kiss. Buffy thought she was going to black out, having begun to see dots of light in front of her, but she held on, not willing to let go without Faith beside her.

For her part, Faith too was trying to hold out as long as possible, determined to make this an experience in endless pleasure, but her body was winning out. She held onto the back of Buffy’s neck as her body quivered and Buffy held on to Faith the same way. As they reached a crescendo, both Slayers threw their heads back and sank into pleasure as the waves of orgasm spread through their bodies. They had shared an unspoken bond before, be it in life or in dreams, but this had solidified the connection between them, thought Faith as she tried to regulate her breathing. Her main concern was that Buffy did not feel at all the same way Faith felt about her. True, the blonde had been up front with Faith about her confusion with regards to her feelings for the raven beauty, but Faith needed to know where she stood with Buffy. They watched each other take in oxygen hungrily, their chests heaving at the same pace as the life-giving substance filled their lungs. Eventually, Buffy fell onto her back, Faith still sitting between her legs, and let out a sigh of contentment.

“Mmmmm…I swear for a minute there I thought I was going to black out,” she lifted her head and looked at Faith with eyes searching for approval. ”Was I, you know, was I ok? Did I do everything right?” Faith chuckled, moved herself from under Buffy’s legs and went to lie beside her.

“No one would have guessed that this was your first time with a woman. You didn’t put a finger wrong B.”

“Such sweet talk.”

“Seriously B, I thought I would never come back down to earth again. You sent me into another dimension every time you touched me. It’s the first time that I’ve fu…slept with somebody that I care about. Love even, so I guess it was kinda my first time too.” Buffy nearly cried at the honesty with which Faith said this and she wrapped her arms around the brunette. They lay there for a few minutes listening to their hearts beating in sync. Faith tilted her head up to Buffy and gave her one last kiss before snuggling into the blonde Slayer and promptly falling fast asleep. You’d think she was a man, mused Buffy, before closing her eyes and doing the exact same thing.

*****

Buffy was hit with a ray of light so bright that she thought she’d died and entered the nether world. In fact, the door that Faith had so expertly shattered had actually served a purpose, but its current state of toothpicks prevented it from doing such. Buffy was directly in the line of fire, while Faith lay sleeping in the crook of Buffy’s arm, oblivious to the harsh rays.

Buffy blinked a few times and rubbed the sleep from her eyes. She estimated the time to be around 2:00pm, judging by the strength and warmth of the sun. For the first time since she opened her eyes, Buffy turned her gaze to the beauty sleeping beside her. The smooth alabaster quality of Faith’s skin, contrasted with her raven-coloured hair created the impression of a porcelain doll. Add to this thick, naturally red lips and the illusion was complete. Buffy studied every inch of her lover’s body and face, pausing to brush a wavy strand out of Faith’s content face, and wondered how it was that the two of them had ended up in each other’s arms. She continued her scrutiny of Faith, marveling at how the sun hit her body in such a way that her skin took on an ethereal quality.

Buffy contemplated how to move without waking Faith, but the younger Slayer was deeply imbedded in Buffy’s arms. Buffy gave up on this idea, and decided that the best option was to go back to sleep. She would catch up the work she had missed at college, musing that the events of the previous night and of that morning, took priority over Psychology 1A.

She lay there, soaking up a healthy dose of sun and slowly began to drift to sleep, conscious of the weight of Faith’s body next to hers. As her mind began to relax, she caught the scent of Faith – musk, sex, shampoo, cigarettes, cinnamon - and it gently invaded the contours of her mind. She began to dream, and it was the same dream she had been having for the past week or so. She could smell blood, dust, sweat, all mingled with the distinctive smell of adrenaline, and there it was again, that scent that made her insides tense, yet making her feel completely safe. She was fighting for her life tonight, and there was someone helping her - of this she was certain – but she was too busy battling vamps to get a good look at her partner. At first, she saw only a flash of black. It could have been a coat, hair or clothing, and Buffy strained her neck trying to catch a glimpse of who was behind her. As she rammed a stake into the last vamp, she felt a hand on her shoulder turning her around. At first, the person in front of her was a blurry black spot, but slowly, her eyes began to focus and she smiled at the person standing in front of her.

The person was indeed a vision in black, from her clothes to her hair, to her smoky eyes, yet her soul, Buffy knew, was made of gold. Faith took Buffy’s small hand in her own, kissed it lightly and said “I love you B. If you’ll have me, I will spend every waking hour of my life protecting you and making sure that you’re happy. You’re my soul mate, my best friend, and my partner and now, you’re my lover. Even if you say no, I’ll be happy because we had this one wicked night together. Here.” Faith removed the silver ring from her index finger and placed it on Buffy’s finger, kissing it lightly. “Don’t say anything. Just know that as long as you have this, you have me.” Faith stepped forward and kissed Buffy softly on the lips. She then turned on her heel, smiled once more at Buffy, and walked off into the distance.

Buffy woke with a soft cry, reaching out to the Faith in her dream who had declared her devotion to Buffy. Her cry had woken the Faith who slept in her arms, and she squinted at Buffy, trying to figure out what was going on.

“You ok B?” Faith sat up and stretched, allowing Buffy to regain some movement in her left arm. Faith smiled sheepishly. “Sorry. I tend to get too comfortable. You shoulda pushed me off.”

“It’s ok. I kinda liked having your dead weight on me for a few hours.”

Faith raised an eyebrow. “Why Miss Summers, if I didn’t know better, I’d say you were ok with this whole thing.”

“What thing?” Faith gestured to their obvious state of nakedness and was met with unflinching green eyes. “I never figured you for a prude F.”

Faith let out a mighty chuckle and jumped off the bed, intending to go to the bathroom, but a strong hand stopped her. Buffy pulled her back onto the bed and sat up to face her. Faith preempted whatever Buffy was about to say: ”You don’t have to say it B. It was a mistake, I’m not that kind of girl, let’s just be friends, I had too much to drink, I’ve heard them all. Just pick one and then you can leave while I’m in the shower.”

“You know, just last night, you were telling me that I don’t know when to stop talking. Well I can say the same for you Faith. So do me a favour, shut up and listen to me for once in your life. I’ve been thinking about what has happened since I found out you were back in Sunnydale, and I’m not just talking about last night and this morning. When you’re around me, I feel alive. You challenge me, you make me question the world or look at it like I’ve never looked at it before, and you do this because it’s a part of who you are. I never knew how to handle you. Hell, I didn’t know whether to kill you or kiss you, and I’ve tried both. Almost every night for the past week, I’ve had this dream. I’m fighting a whole bunch of vamps, and just when I feel like I’m losing, someone arrives to help me, but I haven’t been able to see who it is, until now. When I woke you, I was having that dream, and you were the one who saved me Faith. I guess I always knew it was you, but I was just too scared and stubborn to admit it, but I’m not scared anymore. Last night you told me that I had to be sure, that I had to know, “be honest” is what you said, so I will. I don’t love you Faith. I’m in love with you. I’m in love with everything about you. The way you smell, the way you look at me, the way you laugh. I could not imagine spending another day of my life without you, and it’s a short life at that, so I want to be honest with you and myself. I want you Faith. Not only here and now, but forever.”

Buffy exhaled and waited as Faith looked at her in a way that Buffy did not recognise. She searched Faith’s face for an answer. Was she angry? Was it just another way to get laid? Was she still trying to get even with Buffy? It was none of these. The look in Faith’s eyes was that of pure happiness, and it was an emotion that Faith had almost forgotten about during her years of pain and anguish. But this was real. This was tangible. If she wanted to, she could reach out and touch the girl who had just declared her undying devotion to her. She could barely control her thoughts, wanting to say so much to Buffy but struggling to find the right words.

“Spencer.”

“What?” Buffy was highly confused.

“Spencer. It’s my last name.” Faith smiled at Buffy and drew the blonde Slayer into her arms, a solitary tear creeping down her cheek and resting on Buffy’s shoulder. Buffy felt this and pulled away from Faith in order to kiss her. She knew that Faith was not the best at expressing herself with words, but her eyes and the way she had told Buffy her surname was enough for Buffy to know that Faith trusted and loved her. The two Slayers lay down on the bed, facing each other and traced the features of the other’s face. Faith smiled as she lifted Buffy’s left hand and placed her silver band on it. Buffy merely smiled as Faith told her that Slayer’s only shared prophetic dreams, and that was why this was meant to be. Buffy agreed and continued to study Faith’s features. She was just about to explore Faith’s chest when the phone rang. Faith leant over Buffy in order to answer it and intentionally lost her balance so that her body covered Buffy’s. The blonde squealed with mock pain as Faith picked up the receiver.

“Yeah?”

“Faith. Glad to see you’re in one piece.” Joey’s voice was laden with relief.

“Almost.”

“What do you mean almost?! Are you hurt? Did she hurt you?” Faith laughed and Joey was just about to shit her out when she heard the unmistakable sound of a woman’s laugh in the background. The light went on and Joey smiled.

“So…the two Slayers. Did you tell her.”

“Yup.”

“And what did she say?” Faith paused, taking a long look at Buffy who was lying beneath her and said:

“It’s why she’s still here.”

The End

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