Chapter Six

Buffy awoke to the feel of soft caresses on her stomach. She smiled and stretched her back before opening her eyes, basking in the way her body was humming as the warm sun shone through the window.

“Hey,” she said with a smile, looking down at Faith who had her head rested on Buffy’s upper stomach as she rubbed her fingertips over her soft skin.

“Hey back,” Faith answered quietly, looking into Buffy’s eyes and smiling as she continued to caress her stomach.

“Whatcha doing?” Buffy whispered, feeling completely . . . content. Carefree. Free.

“Watchin’ you sleep.” Faith answered with a little smile, showing no signs of embarrassment at her display of girly-ness.

“Why, am I drooling?” Buffy asked, running the back of her hand across her mouth to wipe away any offending liquid.

Faith chuckled and shook her head slightly. “Nah, you’re drool-free, B.”

Buffy laughed quietly, resting back down comfortably as her hand moved of its own accord to play with Faith’s now unruly hair.

“Then why are you with the whole ‘watching of the Buffy show’? Was I snoring, or talking in my sleep, or was my stomach making some kinda weird noises? I am slightly hung over, you know. I can’t be held responsible for . . .”

“Shhhhh.” Faith interrupted Buffy, closing her eyes now as she continued to rest her head on Buffy’s stomach. “I’m basking, B. Gimme a few minutes, kay?”

Buffy chuckled to herself, not exactly sure what was going on with Faith, but deciding to grant her the few minutes that she asked for anyhow. It was the least that she could do for her fellow slayer.

After several minutes of comfortable silence passed, Buffy finally had to find out what was going on.

“Is it time for explaining yet?” She whispered.

Faith smiled and looked up, then shimmied up so that she was laying alongside Buffy’s body, her hand still able to caress Buffy’s stomach.

“I dunno,” Faith began, looking shy suddenly. “I guess this is just kinda new for me. Yunno, waking up with someone the morning after. Not wondering who the hell they are or why they’re there. Being able to do the whole ‘laying together’ thing. It’s just . . . I’m basking.”

Buffy laughed, but she stopped when she realized that Faith wasn’t laughing with her.

“What . . . really? You’ve never woken up with someone before and done . . . the morning snuggles? Or the post-lovin’ chat, even?”

“Nope.” Faith shrugged. “Never really had the chance before. Didn’t know most of the people. I mean . . . I don’t usually make it a habit to have sex with my friends, B.” Faith said with a chuckle.

Buffy grinned.

“You’re forgetting Xander, you hussy.” She elbowed Faith gently so the girl knew that she was just playing around.

Faith gave Buffy a small, almost wry smile.

“I said I don’t have sex with my friends, B. I never mentioned yours.” Faith explained and then winked to lighten the mood a bit.

Buffy tilted her head to the side.

“Xander was your friend, Faith. We all were.” There was no malice in her voice. She simply wanted to know what Faith meant; where she was coming from.

“Nah,” Faith began, “we were acquainted, but we weren’t friends. Not really, anyways. Besides . . . friends don’t do to friends what I did to you guys. I wasn’t right then, yunno? I was just . . . a different person. A bit screwy, a bit wild. And, I mean . . . I’m still screwy and I’m still wild.” She laughed, then shrugged. “But I’m trying to be a better person now. I wanna be friends with you guys.”

Buffy smiled and turned on her side a bit more so that she could be face-to-face with Faith.

“Well, you are our friend, Faith. You came back when you didn’t need to; you made things better . . . all when you didn’t have to. You lent us your strength, and I think that was one of the reasons why we won. Why we’re all here today. And partially why we’re both naked now.” She chuckled.

Faith laughed as well.

“Yeah, how ‘bout that.” She looked into Buffy’s sparkling eyes and smiled. “Thanks for . . . everything. For giving me another chance.”

Buffy smiled at her, letting her hand creep over Faith’s side so that she could pull her a tiny bit closer.

“And I especially thank you for this morning,” Faith added. “That was wicked. I feel a hundred times better.”

Buffy laughed again. “Yeah, me too. Thanks.”

Both girls were laughing now, even more so after they gave each other a high-five to signal their victory from the morning.

They settled down again, just enjoying the comfortable silence. They were pressed stomach-to-stomach now, Buffy with her eyes closed as she just relaxed, and Faith trying to be as discreet as possible about watching her.

She’d never seen Buffy so peaceful. So at rest. And for reasons she couldn’t comprehend yet, she couldn’t take her eyes off of the other girl.

When Buffy opened her eyes and started to stretch again, rolling onto her back so that she could do so more easily, Faith was pulled from her reverie and back to the day that was ahead of them.

“So . . . what’s the plan for today then, B?”

She hoped that Buffy would say that she wanted to go out again tonight, because she definitely wanted to spend more time with her. It was nice to finally have a friend in Buffy, and she wanted to keep having fun with the girl. Plus, if they went out, it was pretty much a 100% chance of getting some again. If they lucked out and found someone in the club to sex up, fine. Even if they didn’t, they had their arrangement now. Friends with benefits. In the event that no one else was around, they could count on each other to satisfy their hornies.

Buffy finished her stretching and moved to sit on the edge of the bed, grabbing a tee-shirt from the floor and putting it on carelessly.

“Well, Wills said something about a meeting. We need to figure out what we want, where we’re going, what we’re doing. I think that she mentioned food too, so I’m guessing dinner time, which . . .” she looked over at the alarm clock, “. . . is in about two hours.”

“Okay, so . . . we figure out the what, the where, the when, and then . . .?” She looked expectantly at Buffy.

Buffy grinned and looked back at Faith over her shoulder.

“And then we dance our asses off wherever they’ll let us stay the latest.”

Faith smirked and raised her eyebrow.

“You mean you’re planning on closing some place out with me again tonight? I dunno, B. Seems like you’re already banking on dancing it up and then bringing me back here and having your wicked way with me.”

Buffy laughed and turned to face Faith more fully.

“And you have a problem with that?”

Faith shook her head.

“Nah B, just making sure we’re on the same page.” She winked. “So . . . you gonna hit the shower now?”

Buffy stood up and stretched, her tee-shirt riding up to reveal the bottom of her perky little ass.

“No, I’ll probably shower before we go later. Willow doesn’t mind if I stink. I kind of just feel like staying in the room and oooompfh . . .”

Before she could realize what was going on, Buffy felt herself being tugged backwards and Faith crawling up over her so they were face to face, stomach to stomach.

“So we have some free time for . . .” Faith began, wiggling her eyebrows as she cocked her head to the side.

Buffy giggled before running her fingers through the sides of Faith’s hair, smiling before she pulled her down for yet another kiss.

There were no words that needed to be said.

Buffy and Faith walked into the conference suite of the hotel with about two minutes to spare before the meeting. Seeing as that the hotel had a conference suite area on every floor, the manager had no problem reserving the room on their floor solely for the Scoobies to use, especially since they had the entire floor rented out.

Not all of the girls were there; the younger ones were off being ‘babysat’ by Angel and his gang, Angel taking on a somewhat fatherly role in protecting the young girls.

The faces in the room were all familiar . . . Giles up front, Willow and Kennedy sat alongside him, Andrew and Dawn fiddling around with diagrams on a chalkboard, the older Slayers loitering around the snack table, and good ol’ Xander sat reading a comic book on a two-seater sofa.

Seeing as that was the only sitting space available near Giles and the gang, Buffy and Faith made their way over.

Faith grinned and plopped down next to Xander, startling him from behind his comic book.

“Hey!” He exclaimed as Faith stole the Superman comic from his hands. “I was reading that. Gotta keep the one eye entertained or it’ll pop out and run away,” he joked.

“I won’t let it, Xan.” Buffy commented with a smile just before plopping down onto his lap. It was a move quite unlike Buffy, and it took Xander by surprise as he lurched forward with a loud grunt.

“Ughh. Have a seat why don’t ya, Buff.”

Buffy laughed. “Don’t mind if I do. So Xander,” she began, “did you enjoy yourself the other night?” Buffy asked, bringing up the night when they took Xander to the gay club with them.

Xander scoffed.

“You mean when you took me to the very large gay bar with the very large gay men and tried to turn me into a very large homosexual? Yeah, I had a blast, Buffy. Thanks for taking me.” He answered sarcastically, then moved his hands to Buffy’s hips and lifted her over to Faith’s lap. “The two of you can stick together until you’ve won me back with your most sincere apologies and promise of gifts and love.”

With that said, he snatched his comic book back from Faith and shifted on the couch so that his back was turned towards the two slayers.

Buffy laughed, knowing fully well that Xander was not actually mad, but more that his pride was hurt. Faith chuckled along with Buffy, glancing down at the paper cut on her thumb where Xander had yanked the comic book from.

“I guess I deserved that.” Faith responded, shaking her sore thumb a little.

Buffy noted the gesture and took Faith’s hand in hers, inspecting the small paper cut before giving it a small kiss.

“There. All better, ya big baby. Buffy kisses heal the soul.”

“Or remove them.” Xander added under his breath.

Buffy tried to act shocked but ended up joining Faith and Xander in laughing.

Willow watched the three of them from her perch across the way, taking special interest in the way Buffy handled Faith’s paper cut. She and Buffy had been friends for seven years. Seven years of late night research and book reports. Not once through her hundreds of paper cuts did Buffy ever give Willow ‘healing kisses’.

No, she had saved the healing kisses for Angel, and for Riley. For the men that she had been involved with. Loved, at least at the time.

Willow made a mental note to keep an eye on Buffy and Faith, not because she didn’t trust them, but because she didn’t want to see either of them hurt. They had hurt each other in so many ways in the past and made it through just fine, but the hurt they could experience from being . . . too close . . . was something Willow wasn’t sure they could handle. Especially now.

Her thoughts were interrupted as Giles cleared his throat from the front of the room, trying to get everyone’s attention. Once the junior slayers sat down and settled, Giles began.

“Yes, I’d like to thank you all for coming here tonight. I understand that the new sense of freedom is overwhelming, so I commend you all for sticking to your responsibilities. Shall we begin?”

Giles received a few nods from around the room, so he decided to get started.

“Good then. It has been brought to my attention that, as lovely as this place may be, and as plentiful as the clean towels are, we cannot stay here forever. Some of the girls have families that want them back, some have no families whatsoever. Some of us are committed to the fight, and some are ready to . . . live. Or retire. I suppose it would be wise to discuss what we’d like for ourselves, and for one another.”

The room was mostly quiet, everyone waiting for someone else to start speaking.

When it was obvious that no one wanted to go first, Giles spoke again.

“Perhaps it would be more conducive if I offer some choices, and you may add ideas of your own, of course. As for myself, I’d like to return to England. The Hellmouth is closed so there is no reason for me to remain in the immediate area, but the fact remains that there are other Hellmouth’s, and there is always some archaic evil lurking around and waiting to destroy the world.”

“Well that’s a bright and shiny outlook. Did someone eat a rainbow for breakfast?” Faith asked under her breath, earning several laughs from around the room.

Giles smiled. “Thank you, Faith. However, I’m afraid that’s the truth. And as much as I’d like to say that I’d enjoy a nice quiet life in a flat in London with a cuppa every night, I’m afraid that I’d be . . . completely and utterly bored.”

A few giggles arose from around the room, and Giles continued.

“Thus, I’ve decided that I’m going to do what is familiar; what I believe I’m meant to do. The Watcher’s Council needs to be rebuilt. I’ve been in contact with other Watchers who remain after the recent events, and they are in agreement with me. Once we’re settled in our decisions, I’ll be heading back to England to rebuild the Watchers Council.”

“And the girls? All of the new slayers?” Buffy asked from her place on Faith’s lap, back in business mode.

“That’s gonna be their decision, Buff.” Willow answered as she stood up from her seat. “Giles and I have talked to a handful of the girls. Some just want to go home. For those girls, Angel has agreed to give us funds to send them back. But there are quite a few girls who want to help. They have this power in them now and they hear the call of the slayer, like one of those dog whistles. Once Giles gets the Council running, we’ll be able to assign the girls Watchers and send them where they’re needed.”

Buffy nodded. “They’ll need training.”

“Definitely,” Willow agreed. “Preferably by someone experienced. Someone who can help them. Someone who has been in their shoes. I think that . . .” Willow hedged, clearly meaning that it should be Buffy who trained the girls.

But Buffy knew she couldn’t. She interrupted Willow.

“Wills, I agree. It would be great to have someone experienced. Someone like . . . me, for example. But I think it’s time I start thinking for someone beside myself at this point. Like . . . Dawn. We were forced to stay in Sunnydale because it was my job. But that job is over, and now it’s time for Dawn to shine.”

“I like the way you’re thinking, Buffy.” Dawn added with a huge smile.

“So,” Buffy continued, “I can’t answer yet as to what we’re gonna do, but I promise that as soon as Dawn and I sit and have a sisterly chat, you all will be the first to know what our plan is.”

Buffy waited for backlash; to be told that her duties didn’t die in Sunnydale. However, all she received was warm smiles from all of her friends. They understood. They knew where she was coming from, and stood behind her.

All it served to do was to make her smile even more so.

The meeting went on for about an hour, everyone discussing their plans. Andrew would return to England with Giles and study to be a Watcher. After a bit of traveling, Willow and Kennedy offered to move to the other Hellmouth Giles had mentioned in Cleveland and keep things under wraps there. Giles had mentioned that maybe some of the new Slayers could find a home there as well, and Willow almost beamed at the thought of being a teacher and mentor to them.

Xander, too, decided that he wanted to see the world a bit, but that he knew he would always return to what was familiar to him: the oogy and the weird. He promised to be of use to the new Watcher Council once he had some time to himself.

Faith, for the most part, had been mostly quiet during the meeting. She wasn’t sure where she was going to go. She briefly pondered staying in LA to help Angel, but she knew that she had some of her personal demons to face first. When asked where she was going to go, she simply smiled softly and said, ‘home’.

When the meeting wrapped up, the gang agreed to meet back in one week to finalize their plans. In the meanwhile, Angel would work on returning girls to their families and on training the others who wanted to learn.

This meant, pretty much, that Buffy had a week to decide what was best for her and Dawn, and that she still was able to take a breather while others worked on getting things done. She thought that she should feel bad about it, but she really didn’t. She needed this time to just rest and think, and to enjoy life as it was: with her friends, and her family, and all of those she held close before they had to go their separate ways.

When Buffy and Faith had returned to their room, they didn’t speak of the meeting. Faith had never been a very responsible person, so she didn’t feel much like dealing quite yet with something as significant as plotting out her future. A couple of months prior, she didn’t have to worry about any of that. Her future consisted of jail, more jail, and possibly a period of probation when she was too old to walk without a cane. Prior to jail, she had pretty much planned on dying young. The whole slayer gig put a damper on her future, so she didn’t plan one.

Sure, in one week, she’d finalize her plans to go back to Boston and try to make amends with her past. But for now, she wanted to live. Live hard and play hard. And she was pretty sure that Buffy was feeling exactly the same way.

They took turns in the shower, filling the silence with small banter, and then with even more laughs and jokes as they put their future on hold and fell back into fun mode. They had a week to live it up, and they were going to go all out.

By the time 10:00 rolled around, Buffy and Faith were hailing down a taxi in front of the hotel, setting off for another night of fun. They were both familiar with the bar they had spent the last couple of nights at and decided to head back that way. However, when they passed by the girl bar that had been previously closed, they found that it was open and pumping loudly, so they decided to make it their home for the night.

Faith sauntered right up to the place, handing the bouncer money for the cover for both her and Buffy. Buffy was less sure than Faith was, realizing that she was actually going into a lesbian bar now.

Faith smiled when she turned back to see Buffy walking up with trepidation in her eyes, her feet barely moving. She grabbed Buffy’s hand and began to pull her gently along.

“Don’t worry, B, you just stick with me. We’ll have some drinks, we’ll get our dance on, and if any scary bulldykes ask you to dance, we’ll just say you’re with me.”

Buffy looked from the packed club over to Faith, who gave her a smile and a wink. Buffy felt a small wave of relief wash over her, and she decided right then and there to go in and just . . . have fun, as she had been doing the last couple of nights.

She trusted that Faith would be there for her in any case.

All eyes turned to Buffy and Faith as the duo walked into the club, Buffy clinging tightly to Faith’s arm, Faith managing to smirk as cockily as she could. She knew she had the hottest girl in the place on her arm, and she couldn’t help but strut proudly. Even if the small gesture of Buffy clinging to her arm marked her as unavailable, she didn’t care.

Cos she had Buffy on her arm.

They made their way over to the bar, Faith ordering a round of drinks for them. “See? It’s not so scary, B. Just a bunch of nice ladies, all picturing you naked and straddling them.” Faith teased.

“Gee, thanks, Fai. I feel much better now.” Buffy said with a smile as she shook her head, taking her drink from the bartender and sipping it down slowly. “It’s really packed in here. Anyone catch your eye yet?” She asked as she looked around the large room.

Faith smiled as she looked down at Buffy.

“Just one.” She said quietly, so quiet that Buffy was just about able to hear it over the music.

Buffy turned and smiled at Faith, stepping closer so that they were pressed together a bit more intimately.

“You’re quite smooth, yunno that?” Buffy asked, breathing in Faith’s intoxicating scent.

Faith grinned. “Yeah, and freshly shaven too.”

Buffy raised her eyebrows and took another step forward, closing any visible space left between them.

“Guess I might be able to find that out later for myself, huh?”

“If you play your cards right, hell yeah.” Faith answered, her grin getting wider by the moment.

Buffy smirked and let her lips brush softly over Faith’s, a quick and soft kiss.

“Dance with me?” She asked.

Faith simply smiled and put her hands on Buffy’s hips, turning the girl around and wrapping her arms around her stomach as they made their way towards the dance floor.

There was definitely something going on between them. They both felt it at that point. Just a week before, they were battling for their lives and still sharing uncertainties about one another. Then Faith was there for her, comforting her, and just being everything that Buffy needed. The bonds of friendship grew, but something else came along with those bonds. It was more than friendship, and more than something between slayers, but neither girl could place a finger on it.

Sure, the crazy thoughts of something friendlier than friendship had crossed their minds, but they immediately dismissed the thoughts. They were only friends, and new friends at that. This was too much, too soon, and they just wanted to enjoy one another’s time without having to complicate things by talking about their feelings and trying to make heads or tails from them.

Still, it didn’t change the fact that the feelings existing, and that both girls were struggling to keep them under wraps.

The hours went by and the girls danced one song after the next, stopping only for drinks and to catch their breath. When a slow song finally came on after about an hour or two, Buffy threw her arms around Faith’s neck and rested her head on her shoulder, basking in the sweet harmony that their bodies seemed to be sharing with one another.

The slow song ended and the next one quickly picked up the beat, but Buffy and Faith remained in their peaceful dance, clinging to one another and to all of the feelings that were coursing between them.

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