The Right Move

Summary: Faith comes back to Sunnydale by request. Bumping into Buffy the first night she's there proves surprising.
Timeline: Season 5
Rating: NC17
Pairing: F/B
Disclaimer: These characters do not belong to me, unfortunately. They are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy and whoever else owns them. I make no profit from this.

There was a tension to the air that Faith couldn’t place. Almost as if somebody was running their fingers down her back, she could feel the night stalking her, creeping up on her, demanding she stay alert. Not that Faith wasn’t normally alert, but being here, being in this place of pain, she was hyper aware and twisting her head at every noise in every shadow.

Sunnydale had called her back and she was already cursing herself for having answered that call. It had been a while, a long while in jail until Angel had sent some fancy lawyers in expensive suits to make her sentence disappear. She wasn’t sure how it had happened, but she wasn’t about to rock the boat. She’d walked out of there with her head held high and a determination to never, ever let the darkness creep over her so fully again.

Faith was done playing patsy. She was done doing the dirty deeds of demons and people she wouldn’t even waste her time spitting on now. That part of her life was over. It was time to start anew, though the irony of starting anew back in Sunnydale wasn’t lost on her. How new could she get with constant reminders all around her?

When she’d received the letter from Giles, Angel had advised her to do what it asked of her. To not think of herself, and do what was right. Easy for him to say, she thought. But he had a point. There was a lot to make right, and the only place to start was where she’d lost her way.

She just hoped she was strong enough to do it. Strong enough to let the hellmouth simmer around her and not feel influenced by its strange pull. Angel had faith in her, and she had a whole belly full of hope mixed in with the regret and remorse. After taking a trip to Boston to visit her grandmother, she’d made the final journey, arriving by bus and heading straight for the motel she so knew and hated. Yeah, irony played its hand, but Faith was determined to play her cards better this time.

Her first stop, after the motel, had been her old apartment. The one the mayor had bartered for her loyalty with, amongst other things. It was late already and the night began to seep into the Californian skyline, pushing away the oranges and pinks that spread out on the horizon as the sun slowly set. She knew the place was still empty. It was in her name, fully paid for. Fully paid for with the blood of those she’d willingly slain, all in the name of jealousy. All in the name of shame and need.

There was no fear as she walked into the apartment, but she knew she couldn’t stay there. Not yet at least. The place was dusty, but otherwise ok. The window had been fixed and her possessions were boxed safely away in corners. The mayor must have arranged that. She shuddered at the thought.

Her memory spooked her. It had all felt so normal back then; working for a man who wanted to rule the world. Who wanted to have his fill of it. She’d just wanted to survive, and he’d given her that promise. Silly to think of it now; hollow promises she never really, truly believed. She’d wanted to believe – desperately so – but she wasn’t as dumb as they all thought she was. She was much smarter than she’d ever admit.

Sure, smart but stupid too, Faith thought to herself. Stupid for letting it get so far out of hand. One day she’d understand why she’d followed that path. One day it wouldn’t all just be a guessing game with her own mind, her own emotions. It would take time, Angel had told her. It would take time, and effort, and love. Faith shook her head at that. Nobody really loved her. Her parents? They’d left when she was very young. Left her with her grandmother. Her grandmother who had tried to love her but ended up despairing at her ways, battling with her, trying to control her.

She was dead now and Faith regretted those battles, even though she’d felt justified to fight at the time. She’d said her apologies before leaving once again for Sunnydale, standing over her grandmother’s grave with soft spoken words.

So much regret for one so young. It weighed heavy on her, but her resolution to be better, act better, fight better, burned brighter than all of that guilt and regret. She could fix things, or at least try. She could try until her skin was raw and her muscles ached, and her blood and bones gave back what she had taken.

Leaving the apartment behind for now, Faith knew her next destination was a tough one. She wasn’t certain why she’d been asked to come back, but whatever it was it must have been big. For Giles to have to call on her as the active slayer . . . well, she wasn’t about to underestimate the desperation he must have been feeling. Unsure whether Buffy would even want her there, she made the walk a slow one, taking a route through a cemetery as the stars popped out, one by one across the evening sky.

She doubted there would be anybody around at this time of day; no visitors, and no vampires yet. It wasn’t quite dark enough for vampires. She might get lucky and stumble upon a demon or two, readying themselves for a night of . . . whatever it was that demons did, but she was prepared. She had her stake inside her jacket and her knife tucked in her boot. Always with a knife, even in prison.

Her slayer strength was still there, despite the time sat mostly idle in prison. Angel had tested her before she’d left for Boston a week or two ago. He’d helped her regain her focus and timing. She’d always be in debt to him, but she knew he’d never expect anything other than her honesty, and her willingness to change. He’d put a lot of trust in her, and she didn’t ever want to prove him wrong for doing so.

Almost like a father she had never had, or a brother that wanted to protect his sister, Angel had vowed that he’d always be there for her. That he’d fight until the last ounce of his blood ran free if it meant she could come out from underneath the shadows of her past. She believed that he’d do that. She believed in his belief in her, and that’s what had helped her come to Sunnydale without so much as asking why.

Scuffing her heavy boots on the gravel path that ran the length of the cemetery, Faith tried to pick up the pace. She was nervous, and rightly so. She had no idea what kind of a welcome she’d receive from Giles, from the gang, from Buffy especially. Having decided to visit Giles around dinner time, she hoped that he’d be alone. If he could ease her back into this, into Sunnydale and her role there, then it would be an easier transition. Of course, things had a habit of deviating from the plan in Sunnydale, and tonight was no different.

Up ahead, Faith heard the sound of feet drumming against the path; somebody running and running fast. She felt the distinctive hint of demon vibes dancing up her spine, and her fingertips began to tingle. Stepping from the path, she pulled her stake from the inside of her jacket and crouched behind a thick tree. Waiting for whatever passed, hoping it didn’t feel her presence, she kept her senses honed and held her body steady, ready to fight.

To her surprise - though she wasn’t certain why she’d be so surprised at a slayer being in a cemetery at night - Buffy hurtled up the path, a stake in her hand as she whipped her head side to side, probably looking for refuge, or a point of advantage. She didn’t appear scared, but for a slayer to run . . . there must have been something large on her tail. Faith wasn’t sure if she should wait around to find out, or rush out and let Buffy know she wasn’t alone and didn’t have to run.

She had to decide quickly. If she left it any longer then Buffy would be out of sight, and whatever was following her would be upon Faith.

“Buffy,” she called, though she realised right away that her voice had let her down and she hadn’t shouted loud enough.

Trying again, she cleared her throat and stepped from behind the tree as Buffy dashed past.


With a wild look in her eyes, Buffy twisted her head to see who had called her, but slowed only a little. They caught each other’s gaze, and Buffy slowed a little more, almost running backwards as she worked through whatever was going on in her head at the sight of Faith.

“Faith?” she asked, finally slowing and catching her breath.

“Yeah,” Faith confirmed, holding her hands up in a feeble display to show she was unarmed – she was still holding her stake. “Need a hand?”

Faith licked her lips nervously, her heart pounding in her chest; rapid like gunfire. What Buffy was thinking, she couldn’t even begin to guess. They hadn’t spoken for a long time. The odd dream they’d shared didn’t really count.

Blinking, Buffy peered down the path where she’d run from, her chest rising and falling quickly.

“We need to run,” she stated, looking once again at Faith. “Now!”

Furrowing her brow, Faith wondered what had gotten Buffy so spooked, but she knew Buffy well enough to realise she wouldn’t run from just anything. In the past, Faith would have scoffed and told Buffy they could take whatever it was on. They could take on the world. But Faith had learned, and she’d grown up. No longer the petulant, overeager girl she’d been, she knew now when to pick her battles.

Putting away her stake, she set off after Buffy as Buffy turned and picked up the pace again, striding down the path to the exit. They ran together, not speaking as only the sound of their footfalls bounced off the gravestones and crypts. Faith didn’t know where they were going, and she still didn’t know what they were running from, but Buffy could take her anywhere and she’d follow.

It was strange to think that – even after all they’d been through – she trusted Buffy when it came to this. To the slaying. To surviving.

“That way,” Buffy called out, pointing not to the exit of the cemetery, but to a clearing in the tree line beyond the graves.

They jumped over stone and bush and began running on what seemed like a dirt path, though it appeared seldom used.

“Where are you staying?” Buffy asked, as their pace slowed a little to accommodate for the tighter space and the odd obstacle in the form of branches and piles of leaves.

“The motel,” Faith answered without question.

It seemed as if Buffy was less than surprised she was there. Maybe Giles had warned her that he’d requested her to come back to Sunnydale.

“That’s close, we’ll head that way unless . . .” Buffy said, but she didn’t continue and Faith had no idea what she’d wanted to say.

“Unless we get caught?” Faith guessed. “Unless they head us off and we run right into . . . whatever the hell we’re running from?”

“Unless you don’t want to help me out,” Buffy responded.

Faith glanced towards Buffy, seeing a blush sneaking its way across her face. She was embarrassed to ask for help. Even more so because it was Faith she was asking. Faith also suspected that Buffy wasn’t exactly hopeful of her help. Asking for it anyway must have been pretty hard.

“If that’s where you wanna go, we’ll go,” Faith stated, grasping Buffy’s arm lightly and taking them from the dirt track and into the trees.

She knew the fence must be close by; they could scale it and make it to the street. The motel was only two blocks away, and they’d be more out in the open and less likely to be pummelled to death or eaten in plain view – at least in theory.

“Jump over,” Faith instructed when – as she’d imagined they would – they reached the edge of the cemetery.

Buffy climbed first, hauling herself over the chain fence and dropping to the other side, waiting for Faith to do the same.

“Come on, hurry,” Buffy instructed, watching as Faith pushed herself over the top and dropped to the floor. Buffy’s arms reached out to catch Faith – probably out of instinct – and they stopped for a moment as Faith steadied herself with Buffy’s hands on her waist.

Their gazes snagged and Faith thought she saw more of Buffy through her eyes at that moment than she’d ever seen before. Maybe it was the fear, or something deeper making Buffy’s eyes so transparent right then, but whatever it was, Buffy seemed to realise that Faith had seen something, and she let go and looked away so quickly it was as if she’d been burned.

They set off running again, being mindful not to look like complete lunatics as they crossed the street and headed towards the motel. The streets weren’t exactly busy, but anybody peering out of their windows would probably get suspicious and call the cops. The people of Sunnydale – quite understandably – were a rather jittery bunch.

“What are we running from anyway?” Faith asked, still wondering about what she’d seen in Buffy’s eyes, but deciding to distract herself from it.

“A god,” Buffy replied, as if it was quite normal.

“From God?” Faith questioned, not fully understanding. “Have you and religion had some kinda falling out?”

Buffy gave her a scathing glance and shook her head. They were almost at the motel.

“No, not the God,” Buffy responded. “From a god.”

“I musta missed that memo.”

“You got the letter didn’t you?” Buffy asked, obviously aware of Giles’ correspondence to Faith, which explained why she wasn’t freaking out.

They slowed right down and strode up the steps leading to the landing that ran the length of the motel. Faith rustled in her pocket for the keys and after a quick look behind them, she pushed the key into the lock and swung the door to her room open.

“Sure, the one from Giles?”

Buffy followed Faith into the room, loitering by the door as Faith closed it and went to the window to look through the blinds. She didn’t see anybody hot on their heels, but that didn’t mean they hadn’t been followed. They could be out there somewhere now, waiting.

When she glanced away from the window to look back at Buffy she once again saw a faint blush at her cheeks.

“What is it?” Faith asked, beginning to feel like she was missing some vital piece of information.

In the letter, Giles had asked Faith to come back to ensure that the hellmouth remained closed; something about advanced demon activity and a prophecy. Nothing about a god, and nothing about Buffy knowing she would be coming.

“Giles didn’t send it,” Buffy told her, stepping away from the door and standing awkwardly by the old TV set in the corner.

“Say again?” Faith pressed.

Buffy wouldn’t look her in the eye and Faith was beginning to feel like she’d been played. If it had been a ploy to get her there so Buffy could read her the riot act again, Faith was going to have strong words with Angel for convincing her that coming was the right thing to do.

“He didn’t send it,” Buffy said again. “But I thought you’d pay more attention to him, and actually, yunno . . . read it.”

Faith scratched at her eyebrow, standing across the room from Buffy as the air thickened and her defences began to prickle back to life.

“If he didn’t send it then . . .”

“I did,” Buffy confessed.

Again there was a blush, and Buffy was definitely feeling awkward. Her fingers picked at her clothing and she did her best not to look at Faith, staring at the carpet as Faith stepped a little closer.

“I wasn’t trying to mislead you,” Buffy assured quickly as Faith’s shoulders tensed and the room grew darker with her mood. “Actually, I was, but not to be a bitch.”

Faith scoffed and shook her head; Buffy had been that many times with her in the past and she doubted the sincerity of her words.

“So, you need help,” Faith stated, trying her best not to judge or fall into old habits. “And you didn’t think I’d come if it was you asking.”

“Pretty much,” Buffy admitted almost sheepishly. “I didn’t think you’d even read a letter coming from me. That’s why I made sure to put Giles’ name on the back as well, in case you wouldn’t open it not knowing where it was from. Really, I can explain everything.”

There were a hundred questions rifling through Faith’s brain, but she ignored them. The fact remained that Buffy needed her help. She needed another slayer. Whatever the reason, and however she’d gotten Faith there, it didn’t matter. Not really. The same rules applied now as they had done when Faith had thought the letter had come from Giles. It wasn’t about Buffy, it was about stepping up to the plate. It was about taking a swing for the team. Even if Buffy’s methods had been surreptitious, Faith knew she had to do what she’d come to Sunnydale to do.

“Forget about it,” Faith said, waving a dismissive hand. “I’m here now; so tell me what’s going on.” She could curse about it later, alone.

Buffy took a big breath, practically a sigh, and sat down on the end of the bed. From her position behind Buffy by the window, Faith had the opportunity to look more closely at her. Buffy seemed tired; her body slumping instead of sitting straight. Her shoulders drooped and her hair had lost some of its shine. Obviously there was something bothering her, and for some reason, Faith was almost certain it wasn’t just about a new big bad or a prophecy. There was something worrying Buffy. Something dimming her flame, her belief in herself.

“So much has happened,” Buffy began, so quiet Faith had to step closer to make sure she didn’t miss anything. “It’s been tough recently. Everything feels like it’s falling apart.”

To say it was a little strange that Buffy was telling her this, so intimately, would have been an understatement. They hadn’t even said hello properly yet, or sized each other up, or tried to hurt each other with words, then fists. Faith would have expected Buffy to ask for an apology at least, or some indication that she wasn’t actually there to cause more harm than good.

“You’re probably wondering why I’m not hitting you in the face,” Buffy said, as if she were reading Faith’s mind. “We don’t have time for that, and besides . . . Angel kept me up to date on you and how things were going. He trusts you, and I . . . I guess I’m ready to try that again too.”

“Again?” Faith couldn’t help but ask, ignoring the fact that Buffy had been keeping tabs on her for now – at least it explained how Buffy had known when she’d left jail and where she was. “You’ve never trusted me, B.”

Buffy turned to face Faith, her mouth open as if she were about to refute the claim, but something passed through her eyes. Something similar to what Faith had seen a little earlier. She’d almost call it defeat, but it was more than that.

“I tried, Faith,” Buffy told her. “You didn’t make it easy.”

Faith nodded slowly; she could have come out with a ton of reasons why she hadn’t made it easy, and why Buffy had made it obvious she hadn’t wanted to trust her, but opening that old can of worms was . . . destructive to say the least. It was time their wounds were left to heal.

“Whatever, it’s in the past,” Faith dismissed. “Unless you wanna hash it out. I gotta say though, I’m not a fan of that idea.”

“Me either,” Buffy agreed. “We both did things the wrong way, and I . . . I don’t want to go back over it all. I don’t have the energy.”

They both fell silent for a few moments then, briefly making eye contact, only to look away, as if scared of what they’d see.

“You got a big bad that’s tearin’ up town?” Faith asked finally, breaking the uncomfortable silence and getting right to the point.

“Yeah, and this one’s a real gem,” Buffy said sarcastically. “She’s a hell god, and she’s strong. We need a plan, and . . . well, you.”

“She must be all kindsa freaky strong if ya had to call me in,” Faith said with a soft chuckle.

Buffy just nodded, her eyes looking sad as she ran a hand through her long blonde hair.

“Nothing we’ve done has touched her so far, and I’m worried,” she said. “Maybe there’s something I’m missing or . . . maybe I’m off my game.”

With a frown, Faith moved around to the foot of the bed, sitting down beside Buffy, though not too close. Right then she felt like she was the strong one, the one that wouldn't break at any given moment; Buffy seemed like she was holding herself together with bits of fraying string and glue that was losing its stick. She wasn’t the Buffy that Faith had come to be afraid of. She wasn’t the same at all. She was small, almost looking frail as worry lines marred her pretty face.

“What else is going on?” Faith asked, just knowing this new foe wasn’t the real reason Buffy appeared so fragile.

Taking Faith a bit by surprise, Buffy took a shuddering breath and tears began to fall from her eyes.

“Sorry,” Buffy said quickly, wiping at her eyes and giving Faith an apologetic shrug. “I didn’t mean to . . .”

Another shudder, and the tears continued. Faith was taken aback, unsure what to do or say. She’d never witnessed Buffy being so openly emotional in this way.

“It’s ok,” Faith told her, finding her own voice cracking as she tried to sound sympathetic without incurring Buffy’s wrath by making the mistake of saying the wrong thing.

“No, it’s not ok,” Buffy said with a shake of her head, looking angry at herself for allowing Faith to see this. “I didn’t ask you to come back so I could cry, I just . . . everybody’s been so nice and supportive, and they’ve told me I don’t need to stay so strong, but I have to, Faith. I have to. I can’t let them know how scared I am. How lost.”

“Your friends and family you mean? And Giles?” Faith asked, watching as Buffy fought in vain to hold back the tears.

She was confused, part of her feeling happy that Buffy finally knew what it felt like to flounder, but most of her feeling like she wanted to help. Like she wanted to be there for Buffy. Be the strong one she could lean on, and rely on. Though Faith had always hated to admit it, she had wanted Buffy’s approval and trust right from the start. She’d always wanted to have a place by her side; not behind her, way back past her friends, past her boyfriend, past everything that Buffy could throw in the way. A place at her side so she could give Buffy the support she wanted to.

“Yeah,” Buffy said with a nod. “Everybody who relies on me. Everybody - and I can’t talk to any of them.”

The sombre tone to Buffy’s voice worried Faith. What exactly had her in this state?

“Buffy,” Faith began, taking a chance and resting a hand on Buffy’s shoulder, “why can’t you talk to them? And about what?”

“My mom’s sick,” Buffy said, her voice breaking as more tears dripped down her cheeks. “I think she’s dying, and I . . . I can’t do anything about it. And with Glory on the scene, I have to deal with that when I want to be at home, helping, just being there with my mom before she’s gone. Before it’s too late.”

The tears were really flowing now, sobs making Buffy’s shoulders shake. It made a lump form in Faith’s throat. She could practically feel Buffy’s anguish.

“Oh god, I’m so sorry,” Buffy lamented, once again swiping at her face to rid it of tears. It wasn’t working. “This is stupid.”

“It’s not stupid,” Faith said quietly.

As she watched Buffy, her hand still resting on her quivering shoulder as she sat beside her, she suddenly realised just why Buffy had allowed herself to fall apart in front of her, even though they weren’t exactly friends. They were slayers, they were bonded in a way that only they could understand, that they could share, and that both of them had hated at one time or another. Not only that, but as Buffy had said, she couldn’t let those around her - those that had always relied on her strength - see her so vulnerable, especially right now when they had the threat of a god hanging over them. They needed to feed off her strength, but Faith had her own brand of it, and Buffy had probably known she’d need it for more than just the big bad. Maybe somewhere inside, Buffy had known that Faith’s presence would allow her to let go, if just a little.

They’d been through so much. So much of it hurt and hate, and anger and regret. But it hadn’t all been bad; they’d connected once. They’d fought together, laughed together, shared secrets and grown closer than probably either of them had been entirely comfortable with at the time. There had always been something between them that neither of them had spoken about, and neither of them had acted on. Something that made this moment less surreal than it should have been.

Moving her hand so it was gently rubbing Buffy’s back, Faith scooted a little closer, ignoring the heat from Buffy’s body and what it always did to her, and concentrating instead on trying – for once – to do things right this time.

“I don’t know what it’s like to have a mom,” Faith said, her voice low and tender as Buffy gently sobbed. “Can’t say I know much about family at all really, but . . . I know how much yours means to you, and I know how great your mom is.”

“She really is,” Buffy said, a sad smile momentarily gracing her lips as she looked over at Faith.

“I really hope she gets better, B,” Faith continued. “I don’t want you to be hurt like that.”

Though Faith had just been trying to be helpful, she found the words coming from her heart, and it made her ache inside to realise she truly meant it. Even after all the crap she’d done to Buffy, she didn’t want Buffy to feel that kind of loss. Maybe it had taken a few years of growing up to understand it, but Faith loved Buffy. She always had and she knew . . . she always would. Hitting out at her had been one way to avoid thinking about it and feeling it, but she was through with that. She just wanted to help.

A tear escaped Faith’s grasp and rolled down her cheek; a few home truths and Buffy’s sorrow, opening Faith up inside and letting her give in to something she could no longer fight or deny.

“I hope so too,” Buffy said with a nod, her sobs abating just a bit. “I don’t know what I’d do without her.”

“You’ll always feel her love, Buffy,” Faith told her, the hand on Buffy’s back stilling, just touching.

Buffy took a shaky breath and tried to calm herself, a hand rooting around in her coat pocket.

“I don’t have any tissues,” Buffy said with a sniffle.

“Oh, right,” Faith mumbled, feeling silly for not offering one sooner. “There’s some in the bathroom.”

She got up from the bed and made her way to the bathroom, taking a quick peek back at Buffy before ducking inside and grabbing the tissue box. Noticing her own reflection in the mirror, Faith wiped at her face and stared into brown eyes, willing herself to keep in control and not do anything stupid. This was a pivotal moment for them, and if she blew it she’d lose Buffy forever; if not in the physical sense – as they’d probably still fight this Glory chick together – then definitely in the emotional sense.

“Here ya go,” Faith said, putting the box beside Buffy on the bed.

It was dark in the room so she flicked on a lamp by the TV. She chose to remain standing, removing her jacket and throwing it onto a chair, and then tucking her hands in to the back pockets of her jeans, unsure what to say now.

“This is kind of embarrassing,” Buffy practically whispered. “You must think I’ve lost the plot.”

“Nah, I just think life’s been screwy with you and . . . well, I guess even the great Buffy Anne Summers can get a little down about shit.”

“I’m not great,” Buffy said despondently. “You of all people should know that.”

“B, you did what you had to,” Faith reminded, wanting to avoid the subject of their past if possible. Being reminded that Buffy had stabbed her in the gut wasn’t much fun. “You’re not perfect, but you did your best.”

Buffy gazed up at Faith, her eyes looking more green than Faith had remembered. The sorrow was evident, and Faith knew right then and there that she really had changed; in the past, Faith would have loved this because she would have been able to mock Buffy about it. Feel superior for once. She’d have made a joke or gotten frustrated, but she didn’t feel that way now. She just felt sad, and she felt an urge to do something to comfort Buffy. Of course, she doubted Buffy would exactly be receptive to comfort from her, though she hadn’t pushed Faith away yet. It was difficult to tell just what Buffy’s state of mind about them was.

“You’ve changed,” Buffy said suddenly, rubbing at her nose with a tissue. “You seem . . . different.”

“Older,” Faith pointed out. “Less stupid.”


Faith chuckled and shrugged her shoulders. “Dunno if I’d go that far, B,” she said. “But I’ve learned a lot.”

“So you’ll help with Glory?” Buffy pressed, an obvious tension in her shoulders at having to ask.

“Do you think I can?” Faith asked, wondering how some extra muscle was going to take down a god. Even though she didn’t know anything about Glory other than what little Buffy had told her, she guessed it would take more than just slayer strength to beat her.

“I hope so,” Buffy replied, her body slumping down again as she gazed at her hands in her lap. “Like I said, I’m off my game and I . . .”

A sob made Buffy laugh at her own inability to keep control and Faith scratched at the top of her head, so out of her depth with this emotion stuff she didn’t know if she was coming or going.

“I’m here, B,” Faith said, stepping towards Buffy. “I’ll do whatever I can.”

“Thank you,” Buffy said, the tears streaming again and the hurt rolling off her in waves. It took Faith’s breath away; as if somebody was standing on her chest.

“Hey,” Faith said softly, close enough to touch Buffy now as she watched her try to stave off more tears than Faith could handle. “Whatever we have to do, we’ll do it. I’ll be around so you can spend time with your mom. I’ll even try to get friendly with the scoobs again, as long as they don’t wanna string me up the first time they see me. Everything’ll be ok.”

Buffy’s eyes drove into Faith’s, so much within them it took all of Faith’s strength not to tell Buffy how much she loved her, and how she was going to protect her this time. This time.

“I really hope so,” Buffy said wearily. “And I’m glad you came.”

Her voice was so quiet and so soft, and Faith suddenly found herself on her knees in front of Buffy, one hand resting on the top of the bed next to her, the other desperately wanting to reach out and take hold of one of Buffy’s hands.

Gazing up at Buffy’s face, the soft glow of the lamplight making her eyes look heavier and her frown that much deeper, Faith forgot herself for a moment and reached up, pushing a strand of blonde hair away from Buffy’s brow. She paused, her fingers just enjoying the softness of Buffy’s hair for a moment before she pulled away. There was nothing to say and Buffy didn’t flinch or move back. She held Faith’s gaze and allowed her to see right into her soul.

“I hate that it went so wrong, yunno,” Buffy said after a few seconds, a quiver to her voice.

“I know,” Faith responded. And she did. She knew.

“You were . . . everything I never dared to be.”

“I know,” Faith whispered, her heart pounding and her lungs burning as Buffy lifted a hand, slowly, touching her fingertips to Faith’s cheek.

“Did you know that . . .” Buffy swallowed hard, her chin trembling as she seemed to fight for the words. “Did you know that I was falling for you?”

As if somebody had just pulled the plug on Faith’s heart, it stopped beating for a second, only starting again as she took a shaky breath. She hadn’t known that. She might have wished for it, dreamed of it. But she hadn’t known.

“I didn’t . . . I . . .” Faith had no idea how to respond. Where had this Buffy come from? Why hadn’t she been there from the start?

Moving her fingers into Faith’s hair at her temple - making Faith almost melt from the touch - Buffy’s eyes remained locked on Faith’s, as if searching; finding things behind the barriers, the old defences, that Faith had always wanted to hide.

“It doesn’t matter now I guess,” Buffy said, running her fingers through thick, dark hair. “But if we’re going to start again . . . I just thought you should know.”

“Thank you,” Faith mumbled, feeling kind of shell shocked. “For being honest.”

Her mind was reeling, flailing, thinking back to when they’d been ok with one another. It hadn’t lasted long, but that time had obviously left a big impression on both of them.

“If we’re being honest,” Faith began, trying not to get distracted as Buffy’s fingers softly scratched over her temple and scalp,” I kinda . . . yunno, felt the same way.”

She hoped to god she wasn’t blushing. Faith wasn’t a blusher, but this was an extenuating circumstance.

“I wasn’t sure,” Buffy confessed, a slight smile drifting over her lips. “We were both young I guess.”

If Buffy was attempting to put it down to nothing but youthful, misplaced affection, she was fooling herself, Faith thought. There had been more to it than that.

“But I knew what I felt,” Faith challenged. She moved a hand to rest on Buffy’s thigh, hoping she could see the truth in her eyes and never again see the pain there that she’d caused.

Buffy paused for a moment, dropping her hand to Faith’s shoulder. She licked her lips and Faith’s stomach twisted and tightened. Heat trickled through her like a long drink of rum.

“When Angel came back I kinda used him to hide behind I think,” Buffy acknowledged. “Everything just went crazy after that.”

“Including me,” Faith said, a small grin lightening the mood a little.

They fell silent for a bit, wrapped in their own thoughts, though still connected by the hands making contact in a way they’d never done before; Buffy’s close to Faith’s neck at her shoulder, and Faith’s on Buffy’s thigh. It felt good, but somewhat wrong. Buffy was upset, that was clear, and Faith would never take advantage. Maybe she would have a long time ago, but that wasn’t who she was now.

“I shouldn’t be saying all this,” Buffy whispered, her thumb moving over Faith’s neck, making Faith’s fingers grip a little tighter to Buffy’s thigh. “I’m in a really weird place right now and you probably think I’m crazy.”

“Believe me, B,” Faith began, “I know crazy and you’re not it.”

They both smiled and the air felt less thick with unresolved tension, but it was fleeting as Buffy’s gaze flicked down to Faith’s lips, lingering there as if she were gauging how they’d feel, how they’d taste.

“You’re not thinking of kissing me are you?” Faith asked, leaning back on her haunches, taking her almost out of reach of Buffy.

It’s not that she didn’t want that kiss – the one she’d wanted since first meeting Buffy – she just didn’t think now would be a good idea. Hell, maybe it would never be a good idea.

Buffy appeared to be thinking about her answer. She licked her lips, slowly, and opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out.

“We both know it’s probably a really bad idea, B,” Faith offered, watching the rapid rise and fall of Buffy’s chest, and the way Buffy’s eyes grew darker with desire. Her own lungs were fighting for air too, and she wondered how Buffy could possibly have gone from upset to aroused so abruptly.

“I’ve been lonely,” Buffy said, again looking at Faith’s lips. “Since Riley left, and since I heard that you’d been released . . . I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you. I sent that letter hoping you’d come, not just because of Glory, but because I wanted to know you again. I swore to myself that if I got a second chance, I’d want to know you the right way this time.”

“The right way?” Faith asked, her heart thudding so loudly in her chest she was certain Buffy would hear it. “You mean . . .”

“Crazy or not, I guess I want . . . this,” Buffy said, sliding from the bed into Faith’s lap on the floor, her hands moving behind her neck as their lips slowly met.

Closing her eyes so they didn’t burst right out of her head, Faith wrapped her arms around Buffy and held her gently, allowing Buffy to feel the softness of her lips. She held back, letting Buffy lead this. Who knew when Buffy would come to her senses and realise she was making a huge mistake? Faith wanted to protect herself from any and all possible fallout, though the sensation of having Buffy kiss her, after all these years, was intensely incredible.

After a few seconds of Buffy kissing over Faith’s lips, their bodies not quite touching as Buffy sat in Faith’s lap; Buffy pulled away just enough to speak.

“Faith,” she said with a shuddering breath, “kiss me back.”

She spoke against Faith’s lips, making them tingle even more than they already were. Gripping Buffy tighter with her hands, Faith tried to find her reserves of strength in order to resist this, to resist Buffy, but she couldn’t. This was everything she’d wanted from her, and more. So much more.

Faith had dreamed of this moment, but it had never felt this good. Buffy’s lips were gentle and sure, and her scent was sweet, with a hint of arousal to it that made Faith’s head spin. How much more surreal could this get? Had Buffy really just told her she’d been falling in love with Faith the first time they’d taken this ride together?

There was so much stuff swirling inside Faith’s head, she felt dizzy and disorientated. But most of all, she felt wanted, and needed, and her heart was full of hope. It was probably foolish hope, but there was no denying that if this was a mistake, it would be the most amazing mistake she’d ever make.

“Faith,” Buffy whispered across her lips again, causing a deep moan to rumble up from Faith’s throat.

She was getting wet and this either had to stop, or continue in a way she wasn’t certain Buffy really wanted.

“Are you sure?” Faith asked. “Once I kiss you back, B, everything’ll change.”

“For the better,” Buffy assured.

Her hands were in Faith’s hair and if she leaned any more forward she’d tumble them both over onto the floor, and Faith wasn’t keen on lying down on a motel floor. God knows what kind of stuff was on the carpet.

Believing that Buffy knew what was best, and hoping it was true more than she cared to admit, Faith pressed her lips to Buffy’s and kissed her, tentatively at first. She felt Buffy’s sigh across her mouth and kissed a little more fully, taking hold of Buffy’s lower lip and softly sucking before flicking her tongue over it. Buffy moaned and it sounded like a mix of relief as much as pleasure; Faith ignored all the warning signs flashing neon-red in her head.

Using her strength, she stood up, taking Buffy with her and placing her back onto the bed. Instinctively maybe, Buffy laid back, their mouths still locked together. Faith kissed her with more purpose as Buffy encouraged her, pulling Faith onto her so she pressed down into Buffy from above. They were both already breathing hard and as Faith felt Buffy’s mouth open, she swept her tongue inside, causing them both to groan louder than was probably respectable.

The wet slide of their tongues together - flicking, licking, discovering each other - forced all decorum out of the window. They’d hungered for this too long it seemed, and that hunger was quickly taking hold. The floodgates were open.

“I want to feel you,” Buffy whispered seductively as Faith slipped a thigh between Buffy’s legs. “I want to know what it’s like.”

Desire spun its web around Faith and she soon realised that any hope of holding back would soon be gone. She’d give Buffy one more chance to back out.

“What it’s like?” Faith asked, wondering if she’d discover a hidden reason behind Buffy’s sudden impulsiveness; like maybe she wasn’t really into this, and was just hoping to lose herself for a little while. Not that Faith minded really if Buffy wanted to lose herself in her, but Faith hoped it was for more than just that.

“To let go, and have what I want,” Buffy replied, holding Faith’s face in her hands and looking into her eyes. “And I’ve always wanted you.”

There was a whole big place inside Faith’s head telling her that this was too good to be true, but she refused to acknowledge it any longer. It felt wonderful to hear Buffy tell her that she wanted her. It touched places inside Faith she’d thought to be long dead. She couldn’t deny Buffy; especially not when Buffy’s hands were sliding down her back, fingers taking the bottom of her tee shirt and pulling upwards.

Buffy really meant for this to happen, Faith concluded. Want, take, have, apparently.

“Wait,” Faith muttered as Buffy managed to get her tee shirt ruffled up to just under her bra. “You’ve still got your coat on.”

“That’ll be why I’m so warm right now huh,” Buffy chuckled, shaking her head at herself. “Well, that and . . .”

“That and wanting me to screw you?”

“So eloquent, as always,” Buffy joked, pushing Faith off her a little so she could wriggle out of her coat.

She didn’t stop there, pushing off her boots and socks and setting to work on unbuttoning her shirt.

“Slow down, Speedy,” Faith mocked, brushing Buffy’s hands away from the buttons, then shoving her own boots off and placing her concealed knife on the bedside table before moving to lie beside Buffy on the bed, facing her as Buffy lay on her back.

Buffy suddenly looked a little nervous as Faith slid her leg over her and tripped her fingers across the buttons Buffy had so desperately wanted to pop open. Gazing at one another, uncertain arousal giving way to the magnitude of what was about to happen, Faith took a button between her fingers and tugged.

Pop, pop, pop; each button that opened revealed more of Buffy to Faith and she felt herself throbbing with need. Pushing the shirt open, her hand slid across Buffy’s stomach, small muscles tightening as she touched them. Buffy’s skin was soft and warm, and she had the cutest little belly button. A soft gasp came from Buffy as Faith’s fingers dusted over the material of her bra, across a stiff nipple that pushed against the cotton in a way that Faith couldn’t ignore.

Moving herself over Buffy, Faith took Buffy’s lips with her own, kissing her passionately, but keeping it slow and sensual. This was Buffy and she wanted to take her time. This was Buffy and Faith wasn’t certain if she could actually do this.

As Buffy moaned and tried to press herself up against Faith – who was keeping just an inch away from actually resting on Buffy – Faith smiled against her mouth and slid her leg between Buffy’s thighs, giving her only the smallest bit of contact. Buffy was getting frustrated but Faith kept kissing, swirling their tongues together and allowing the curl of desire to build inside them until it was all they could feel.

“Mmm, Faith,” Buffy groaned when Faith ran a hand up Buffy’s side inside her opened shirt.

Her lips worked over Buffy’s jaw and down to her neck, sucking and licking and enjoying the way Buffy’s body reacted to every touch of her mouth and fingers. Buffy’s nails scratched at Faith’s lower back under her tee shirt as she kissed a trail to the small, black bra covering Buffy’s breasts. With a moan of her own, Faith sucked on a taut nipple through the material, feeling it stiffen even further. She exerted just a little more pressure with her thigh between Buffy’s legs and Buffy arched against her with a gasp.

“Oh god, you’re going to kill me,” Buffy sighed. “Touch me, Faith. Make me come.”

Her voice was so thick with desire it almost made Faith come herself, but she did her best to ignore her own pulsing need so she could concentrate on Buffy.

There was no doubt that Buffy was turned on, so Faith continued despite the niggling fears she had about what the hell would happen afterwards. Without moving her mouth too far from Buffy’s breasts, she managed to manoeuvre Buffy out of her shirt, pushing it to the side and then flicking open the clasp of her bra. With hands that were shaking ever so slightly, Faith removed that too, leaving Buffy naked from the waist up.

After placing soft, wet kisses over her breasts, Faith flicked her tongue over one of Buffy’s nipples and smirked as Buffy pushed up forcefully onto her thigh. They were both breathing hard and heating up the air around them, and when Faith’s mouth closed around Buffy’s puckered flesh and sucked they both moaned deeply.

“Oh, fuck,” Buffy hissed, her hips moving in a rhythm Faith knew all too well.

She pressed against Buffy, giving her something to rub on as she sucked at her nipples, moving from one to the other until Buffy was trembling beneath her. Hands roaming over Buffy’s skin and relishing every new discovery, she could feel Buffy’s heat through the material of both their pants and her heart sang in her chest. Whatever this was, it was everything Faith needed.

Allowing Buffy to let herself go, Faith rocked into her, the strong thigh between Buffy’s legs bumping into Buffy in just the right way.

“Faith, I’m gonna . . . I’m gonna come.”

When Faith scraped her teeth over a tight, pink nipple, Buffy ground hard against her, grabbing Faith’s hips so she could hold her in place. She came with a gasp of surprise, her body pressing up against Faith’s as she climaxed with a jolt.

“Jesus,” Buffy exclaimed, her flushed skin now a mix of salty and sweet against Faith’s tongue.

“That was fucking hot, B,” she mumbled against Buffy’s chest, feeling the fast breaths coming from Buffy as they blew over her, feeling the rapid pounding of Buffy’s heartbeat both where she rested her cheek, and where her thigh pressed up against Buffy’s centre.

“That was a little embarrassing,” Buffy said breathlessly, the embarrassment evident in her voice.

Faith lifted her head and looked up at Buffy, falling into eyes that were full of wonder and warmth, and all the things Faith had always wanted to see in them.

“No, it was hot,” Faith reassured, grinning against Buffy’s lips as she kissed her languidly.

“But you didn’t even touch me,” Buffy groaned, her breath tickling Faith’s lips. “I’ve never done that before; I promise I’m not normally that quick and . . .”

“Buffy, it’s ok,” Faith told her, pulling back to look at her. “It got me so fucking wet.”

She wasn’t lying, her panties were incredibly damp, and if they didn’t get naked soon they’d start to chafe.

“Really?” Buffy asked shyly, her fingers brushing against Faith’s sides under her top. “You’re . . . wet for me?”

“Soaked,” Faith replied, giving Buffy one of her million dollar smiles. “Wanna feel?”

A wiggle of her eyebrows made Buffy giggle, and Faith said goodbye to any hope of keeping her heart out of this. She’d fall for Buffy again; fall further in love with her than she already was. This was such a mistake, but Faith couldn’t bring herself to care. Hadn’t Buffy said that she’d once been falling for her too? Surely that had to count for something now.

“I do want to feel,” Buffy said, pulling on Faith’s tee shirt and encouraging Faith to help her tug it off.

It hit the floor and her bra followed close behind. Without much further ado, Buffy pulled Faith down to her, kissing her hungrily and pushing up into Faith where their breasts pressed together. They fed off each other’s need, lips sucking and tongues probing and plunging as their nipples grew harder against each other.

Faith almost gasped all too girly as Buffy suddenly flipped her over and straddled her.

“No more slow, and no more pants,” she said with a sexy growl as her fingers dipped between them and yanked at the buttons on Faith’s jeans. “I need to touch you.”

She leaned forward and captured Faith’s lips, using one hand to flick open Faith’s jeans as she used the other to rest upon. Faith helped as best she could, pushing at the denim, lifting her butt, shaking her legs free; all the while being kissed to oblivion by the girl she’d happily give her life for. If this blew up in her face, so be it, she was here for Buffy and this was obviously what Buffy needed.

Once Faith had lost both her pants and panties she quickly worked on getting Buffy out of hers, trying to pull down her zip as Buffy kissed her throat and shoulders, trailing lower with every caress. Taking the zipper out of reach.

“Wait, B,” Faith instructed; her voice husky and sexy even to her own ears. “Pants, remember?”

“Oh, sorry,” Buffy responded, looking a little self-conscious.

“It’s ok,” Faith soothed, bringing her back up to her lips as she tugged down Buffy’s zip, loving the way Buffy moaned into her mouth when her fingers brushed over Buffy’s panties.

She pushed the intrusive articles of clothing off, letting Buffy take a moment to gaze down longingly at her as she did the same kind of gazing at Buffy. Naked Buffy. Naked Buffy, straddling her.

“Wow,” Faith muttered, licking her lips.

“Yeah,” Buffy agreed.

She settled her weight on Faith, knees either side of her hips. Faith couldn’t stop looking at her; taking in the soft swell of breasts that were bigger than they looked in the confines of a bra. The delicate flare of hips, flat plane of Buffy’s stomach. The trim, moist place between Buffy’s thighs.

“You’re beautiful,” Buffy said unexpectedly, her gaze roaming over Faith.

Before Faith could repay the compliment, Buffy leaned forward, bringing their bodies together in a slow, sensual kiss. Hands moving over sensitised skin, they both began to press into each other. Faith’s body was burning, her pussy throbbing to come for Buffy, but she didn’t want to rush her or control this too much. Buffy had to be the sure one here. She’s the one who’d brought Faith back to Sunnydale, and had brought them to this point.

“Buffy, you feel so good,” Faith mumbled into Buffy’s hair as Buffy placed kisses across her collarbones.

As if hearing the need in Faith’s voice, Buffy pressed her pussy into Faith’s, causing them both to shudder.

“Oh yeah,” Buffy sighed, “that does feel good. So good.”

Faith could feel how wet Buffy was against her and though she wanted to flip her over and dive right in, she held back. The way Buffy was now rubbing against her was driving her crazy, however. She had to have more.

Once again as if reading her mind, Buffy did just that. Her lips moved down, covering Faith’s breasts in delicate kisses before she grew bold and kissed more openly, over Faith’s hard nipples. Taking one in her mouth and sucking, Buffy felt the other one up with her hand, taking Faith higher with every passing second. Faith desperately needed to come. She’d never felt so ready her whole life.

Sliding her hand down between them, Faith decided that not only did she need to come herself, but she also needed Buffy to come again. She desperately wanted to feel how wet she was. Feel Buffy in the most intimate way she could. She wanted to be inside her, filling her and fucking her until Buffy was panting her name. Oh yeah, she was ready.

“Lift up a little,” Faith asked, breathing heavily as Buffy continued to tease her nipples with her mouth. She was pretty damn talented.

Buffy must have realised what Faith wanted from her and she lifted herself up off Faith just enough for Faith to move her hand between her legs. As Faith’s fingertips eased inside slick folds, Buffy moaned deeply. Arousal spilled over Faith’s fingers, hot and slippery and so damn sexy Faith felt her clit twitch and stiffen in response.

“Your pussy’s so wet, B,” Faith groaned, lust making her mind fray at the edges and her insides tighten as she slicked her fingers with Buffy’s juices.

“Well you did already make me come,” Buffy reminded, smiling against Faith’s breast.

“Can I do it again?” Faith asked, also smiling as she whispered her fingers over Buffy’s clearly swollen clit.

“If you keep doing that . . . oh yeah,” she answered, her breath shaky and her hips moving with Faith’s touch.

Faith swirled over Buffy, loving the strong scent of arousal and the way Buffy began to breathe; as if she couldn’t quite catch her breath. She felt amazing; soft as silk and wetter with every sweep. Buffy’s clit was hard now, demanding her touch. She flicked rapidly over it and Buffy gasped. Her mouth latched on to Faith’s neck, sucking lightly, kissing hungrily, distracting Faith from the hand that was suddenly between her own legs.

“Oh, fuck,” Faith panted when fingers spread her pussy for their touch.

Buffy coated her fingers in Faith’s need and moved them up and down so lightly it almost made Faith’s head explode. It momentarily threw Faith off her stride and her fingers stilled on Buffy, though Buffy didn’t complain.

“I always wanted to touch you this way,” Buffy whispered against Faith’s throat, close to her ear. “I used to lie awake at night imagining what it would feel like. What we’d do.”

Quite surprised at the confession, Faith used her free hand to caress Buffy’s cheek, lifting her face so she could look in her eyes.

“Really?” she asked.

“Really,” Buffy replied, moving her mouth to Faith’s and kissing her.

Faith could say no more as Buffy’s fingers pressed against her clit, sliding over and around it as Faith did the same back to Buffy. They were both moving against each other and panting in no time, letting the pleasure and need take over as they carried each other towards climax. Hot and desperate, and closer than they’d ever been, in every way. With the advantage of being above, Buffy was the first of them to venture further, giving Faith’s clit a quick circle before dipping her fingers lower and hovering over her slick entrance.

“Can I?” Buffy asked, the sound of lust making her voice deeper, almost husky.

Spreading her legs slightly, which in turn caused Buffy to spread her own legs to accommodate as she straddled her, Faith hummed her consent against Buffy’s lips.

Her stomach flipped over several times as Buffy slid a finger inside her. She pushed up with her hips, taking Buffy deeper and moaning only slightly louder than Buffy did herself at the contact. She couldn’t believe Buffy was inside her, but she was. Sliding in and out with deliciously perfect strokes, Buffy was definitely inside her, both physically and metaphorically.

“Oh yeah, that’s it,” Faith gasped as Buffy pushed harder into her. “Fuck me, Buffy.”

Buffy did just that, pushing another finger into Faith’s slick channel, though she stalled slightly and shuddered when Faith’s fingers entered her unannounced. She hadn’t been able to resist, finding Buffy both wet and warm, and incredibly ready for her.

“Yes!” Was Buffy’s only verbal response as she took Faith’s fingers inside her and began to ride them, slowly at first, opening herself wide so Faith could fuck her deeply.

Rocking into each other, mouths kissing clumsily and fingers buried in places they’d always wanted each other, both slayers began to pant. Their pace soon quickened and thrusts soon became harder and more eager as they pushed each other to the point of no return.

“Harder,” Buffy gasped, her body moving in time with Faith’s thrusts. “Your fingers feel so good inside me. I’m so close.”

Faith was on the verge herself, only just holding back as she waited for Buffy to go with her. Touching Buffy’s face and then sliding her hand behind her neck to hold her gently, she encouraged Buffy to rest her forehead against her own. She could feel every breath, hear the sound of their pussies - sodden and striving for satisfaction as they fucked each other - and sense the excitement coursing through them both.

They were hot and sticky with sweat and arousal; naked flesh touching everywhere. Faith felt as if her heart would explode. This was . . . this was more than she’d ever imagined.

“Come for me, B,” she encouraged, her chest tight, her muscles even tighter.

She swirled her fingers inside Buffy as she entered her over and over, pressing against the place within that she knew would give Buffy maximum pleasure. Buffy moaned wantonly as she began to release.

“Come with me, Faith,” she instructed, pressing her palm into Faith’s clit and kissing her hard before they both let go.

“Fuck!” Faith cried, her pussy clamping down hard on Buffy’s fingers as they filled her, her body shuddering in a way she didn’t think she’d ever done before. “Oh, fuck, Buffy!”

Buffy’s sounds filled the room as much as Faith’s expletives, her hot come trickling out over Faith’s fingers as she held them deep inside her tight hole and bucked against them, coming hard.

“Oh, god, Faith,” Buffy whimpered, trembling and clinging to Faith with such force as she finally flopped completely on to her that Faith wasn’t sure if she’d hurt her.

When she felt the wet drip of tears splash on her cheeks, she was sure she’d done something wrong.

“B,” she said quietly, still feeling the aftershocks vibrating around Buffy’s fingers, which were still inside her. “Buffy, are you ok?”

Reluctantly, Faith slid her fingers from Buffy, though she would have quite happily kept them in there all night, enjoying the strong pulse there, fucking Buffy until she passed out. Wiping her fingers quickly on the sheet, she curled her arms around Buffy and pulled her closer – getting closer still when Buffy also moved her hand from between them and clung to her.

“I’m ok,” Buffy replied, though her tears clearly continued to fall.

Brushing them away gently, Faith kissed Buffy’s face, stopping at her lips and feeling a little less worried when Buffy kissed her back. They stayed that way for a while, holding one another, letting their bodies cool a bit, letting their heartbeats find each other to set a rhythm they both shared, and kissing soft and slow.

When Buffy’s tears abated, she looked into Faith’s eyes, touching a dark, expressive eyebrow delicately with her fingertips.

“You’re perfect,” she whispered. “This was perfect.”

In that moment, Faith believed her, feeling the words as much as hearing them as Buffy regarded her with something akin to love Faith supposed – she wasn’t terribly used to love, but that’s what it was she felt, and what she was sure she saw in Buffy’s eyes.

“Perfect,” she whispered again, lips moving over Faith’s face as if she were making a promise with each kiss.

Deciding that it was probably better if she didn’t speak, or question what was really going on, Faith just smiled and manoeuvred them until they were both under the blanket, hoping Buffy would stay a while despite knowing she’d probably want to get back home for her mom. She wasn’t disappointed, and Buffy settled back into her arms gratefully, holding on to Faith and snuggling as close as she could.

“Thank you, Faith,” she said, still catching her breath and giving Faith a squeeze.

“No need,” Faith responded, her mind warning her about the pain she could face once Buffy came to her senses or realised just what she’d done, but her heart soaring, daring to love. “Will you stay a while?”

The request was out of character and Faith felt awkward asking. She’d never wanted to lay naked, snuggled together with anybody, unless they were still fucking.

Buffy didn’t answer right away, but when she did she sounded sure.

“I want to,” she said, stroking her hand up Faith’s side as she nestled her head on her chest. “I can’t stay all night, though.”

Faith had expected that, but it was ok; at least Buffy wasn’t bolting for the door right away. She would have loved to spend what time they had left having more sex, exploring Buffy and making her come again and again, but Buffy seemed perfectly content to just snuggle, and Faith was happy enough to oblige.

Their breathing slowed to a gentle pace, skin cooling though still warm where they lay pressed together. Faith could smell the sex in the air and it didn’t make her feel bad about herself, less of herself, as it usually did. It had been different with Buffy. It hadn’t just been a fuck with a stranger; there had been meaning to it, a reason for it other than the obvious. It felt good, laying there with their scent in the air, with Buffy’s wet centre warm against her thigh, Buffy’s hand touching her gently. It felt right.

She really hoped Buffy felt the same.

“Are you going to regret this tomorrow?” Faith asked, just as Buffy was on the verge of falling asleep.

“Are you?” Buffy countered, her voice gentle, not demanding.

“No,” Faith answered truthfully.

“I won’t regret it either, Faith,” Buffy replied. “I know it’s a big thing to ask – considering our past – but I want you to trust me. I wanted this, and I’ll want it more than once, if that’s something you’ll want too.”

She sounded a little worried about Faith’s answer, and if it had been a year ago Faith might have given a completely different one, but she knew what she had to say. She realised what it was Buffy was asking, and she knew they could only heal their wounds with honesty.

“I do,” Faith answered, sure yet still a bit wary.

“Good,” Buffy said, and Faith could feel her smile against her breast as Buffy gave her a squeeze. “Then we’ll work it out. We’ll work it out this time.”

It was all they could really hope for, Faith guessed. This was new territory for them, but not so strange really. Something about different sides to the coin came to Faith’s mind, and she finally knew what it meant.

Faith just lay there for a while, listening to Buffy’s soft breaths as she slept, and thinking about what had happened. Thinking about where life would lead her now, with Buffy by her side. She was more than ready to discover what came with this second chance.

Despite her mind working overtime she soon fell asleep with Buffy, more content than she could ever remember being before in her life. Happy with Buffy in her arms. Truly happy.

A few hours of sleep later dawn eased its way between the blinds at the window and Buffy began to shuffle around, waking Faith from her peaceful sleep.

“Faith?” Buffy said, lifting her head from Faith’s chest.

Faith grumbled a little, needing more sleep, more time with naked Buffy.

“Faith, I have to go.”

“I know,” Faith responded sleepily.

She didn’t quite manage to mask the disappointment in her voice.

After a short pause Faith opened her eyes, seeing that Buffy was biting on her lower lip, deep in thought. Furrowing her brow and trying not to imagine that Buffy was figuring out a way to go back on everything she’d said, Faith dropped her arms from around Buffy, giving her space to move. Buffy sat up, gazing down at Faith.

“Come with me,” Buffy finally said, looking deep into Faith’s eyes.

It was impossible to hide the unexpectedness of the request, and Faith knew she must have appeared somewhat shocked.

“Come home with me,” Buffy pressed. “I don’t want to let go of you yet.”

She sounded almost desperate and Faith wished it was that simple, but she knew they couldn’t just land on Joyce’s doorstep – suddenly a couple. If that’s what they were, or would be.

“I’d love to, B,” Faith told her, “but it wouldn’t be fair on your fam.” Buffy tried to interrupt, but Faith continued. “I don’t wanna give them more reason to hate me or want me gone again.”

“They don’t hate you,” Buffy said tenderly, touching her fingers to Faith’s cheek. “I guess you’re right, though. My mom probably wouldn’t understand, at first. But I’m certain she’d get used to the idea of us being together eventually. At least you’re not a vampire.”

They both chuckled, but Faith felt a pang of jealousy; she probably always would, even though she loved Angel for all he’d done for her.

“So we’re . . . together now? Just like that?” Faith asked a little sceptically as she watched Buffy move from the bed and retrieve her clothes, fighting the urge just to yank her back down on top of her. “You sure you don’t wanna think about it some more?”

Hell, Faith had a feeling she should think about it plenty herself before plunging into something so opposite to what they’d always been. But it had felt so good to let all those barriers down. To just open up and be honest, unguarded. To trust.

“I’ve been thinking about it since the last time I saw you, Faith,” Buffy confessed. “That night, after seeing you at Angel’s, when you handed yourself in to the cops . . . I wanted to go back, tell you I was sorry for being such a bitch, and take you home with me. I knew that night. I knew that I wanted more from you, and I knew it’s why everything had hurt so much. It was like a light bulb going off in my head.”

“I’m sorry,” Faith said, touching Buffy’s shoulder as Buffy sat on the edge of the bed and pulled on her clothes. “For everything I did.”

It felt pointless saying it – it’d never be enough – but she had to. She’d always have to.

“Shh,” Buffy soothed, turning to look at Faith, her hand on Faith’s thigh, “I know, and it’s all in the past. And to answer your question properly . . . no, I don’t need to think about it. I want to be with you, Faith. I know we have stuff to talk about - I’m not totally naïve - but this feels right doesn’t it? It feels good. Really good.”

With a smile, Faith nodded and leaned forward and kissed Buffy, not lingering too long as she’d never let Buffy go home if they went down that route again.

“You should get home,” she said sullenly when she pulled away.

With a nod, Buffy rose from the bed and slipped her boots on. She called a cab from the phone on the nightstand and pulled on her coat. Wearing nothing but a smile, Faith stood, facing Buffy and feeling all the jigsaw pieces slotting together as Buffy regarded her with not only desire in her eyes, but something so much deeper. They kissed, and Buffy’s hands began to wander, but a horn outside broke them apart. The cab had arrived far too quickly as far as Faith was concerned.

“We’ll talk later?” Buffy asked, her hand resting lightly against Faith’s cheek.

“That and other things,” Faith replied with a grin.

Buffy grinned right back, looking better and more positive than she had done when they’d first entered the motel that night. Buffy still had a whole load of crap to contend with, but Faith was happy to try to share the load. Though she’d come there for what she thought was another reason – to do with her calling, and putting right some of the wrongs - she knew it had mostly been about Buffy from the moment she’d bought the ticket back to Sunnydale.

As Buffy turned and walked to the door, Faith following a little behind so she wouldn’t flash her goodies to the neighbourhood when Buffy opened it, Buffy took a big, satisfied breath.

“I’m so glad I sent that letter,” she said. She stopped, her hand reaching for the handle as she looked at Faith. “You’re not mad at me for pretending it was from Giles are you?”

“Nah,” Faith answered honestly. “I’m here for you, Buffy. Here for you.”

With a big smile, Buffy quickly lunged at Faith and kissed her hard, fully, with a promise of so much more to come. As she stepped back at another toot of the cab horn, Buffy gave Faith’s hand a squeeze, her body a good, long, lingering look, and then turned to leave.

Faith watched her go from the window, seeing the smile on Buffy’s lips but also still seeing the sadness in her eyes. Faith wanted to lift the weight from her shoulders, and vowed to try her best to do that. It was going to be a tough time ahead, but Faith would be there for her.

They’d be there for each other this time, no matter what. Ready to forgive, to trust. To love while everything else crumbled.

Ready to fight the good fight, side by side. As it should be.

“I love you, Buffy,” Faith said, a whisper in the dark as she watched the cab disappear down the street.

She smiled when she noticed Buffy looking back, just before the cab turned a corner.

Everything would be ok. At least for a little while.

The End



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