Written: August 25, 2011

Rating: R, slight NC-17

Pairing: Buffy/Faith

Spoilers/Timeline: None; Post-Chosen AU

Disclaimer: I do not own these characters, nor do I make any profit from writing about them.

Summary: Five times Faith didn't listen to her heart (and one time she did).

Note: Each section starts with lyrics but the songs really have nothing to do with each individual part. They're as follows:
i. Trouble by 311, ii. Acid Tongue by Jenny Lewis, iii. Nowhere Warm by Kate Havnevik, iv. Parachute by Cheryl Cole, v. Liar by Dragonette, and the second part i. Trouble by 311.

i. the sweetest repose comes in the strangest of places

Faith used her palms to lift up the heavy hood of the old yellow bus, and then used one hand to waft the smoke from her face that was pouring out from the motor in big gray plumes. When the smoke proved unrelenting, she lifted the collar of her shirt up over her nose and mouth so she had access to both of her hands again. She banged around a bit but nothing happened, not that she'd really expected it to. She just didn't want Buffy to think they were completely helpless.

"It's fried," she muttered before letting the hood slam down with a thud and jumping down from the bumper. "Piece of shit bus."

"Hey, it got us from Sunnydale to Las Cruces in one piece. I think we should give the bus some slack," Buffy offered, pulling her shirt down form her nose now that the flow of smoke was somewhat subdued.

Faith followed suit, the fresh air tasting sweeter than ever.

"Cali to New Mexico ain't exactly a robust journey, B. The fact that it took us over two days to get here when it shoulda taken half a day just backs up the fact that the bus is a P.O.S."

"Regardless," Buffy began, "we made it to Kennedy's family ranch safe and sound and there's more than enough room for all of us until we figure out our next move."

"Three girls to a room ain't exactly ideal."

Faith pulled her cell phone from her pocket and held it open, looking down at the screen in dismay. She swiped her thumb over it to clear away the dust but even that didn't magically give her a signal.

Stupid desert. She'd take the city - with its strong cell phone reception and plentiful bars and clubs - any day.

"Well it sure beats spending another night on the bus," Buffy replied.

"You're probably right, but unless you can whip a phone signal outta your ass, it looks like we're gonna be spending another night on this glorious American-made vehicle."

She tossed the phone over to Buffy who caught it easily and walked around with the phone held up in the air trying to find a signal. Faith sat back against the bumper and watched with amusement, wondering if Buffy actually thought standing a few paces to the right or left and holding the phone up would make a signal appear.

After a few minutes Buffy closed the phone and tossed it back to Faith who slid it in the pocket of her jeans.

"At least we were able to take a shower and get a fresh change of clothes when we arrived," Buffy said as she climbed back onto the bus. "We probably won't even have to wait the entire night. Xander will come looking for us once he realizes that the groceries haven't shown up yet."

Faith followed her up the steps and pulled the door lever, making sure it was securely shut and locked. She followed Buffy to the middle of the bus and sat in the seat opposite her, but not before grabbing a bag of cookies from one of the grocery bags in the row before them.

"Screw Xander," Faith said playfully as she tore open the bag. "He don't have slayer constitution, B. There are about thirty slayers at the ranch still feeling the double-H's two days later and they ain't got food. They'll be out hunting coyotes for a snack before midnight."

"That's probably true," Buffy said thoughtfully. A small grin crept up on her lips as she added, "For what it's worth, I'm definitely craving a non-fat yogurt or two."

Memories of the first night she'd met Buffy filled her senses and Faith burst out into laughter. It was interesting to see how much they'd changed over the years yet some things remained exactly the same.

"Settle for some cookies?" she asked, and when Buffy nodded Faith stood up and crossed the aisle to join Buffy in her narrow seat.

She held out the bag and Buffy reached in, keeping her eyes on Faith as she fumbled around for a cookie. After a moment Buffy pulled out a large, flat chocolate-chip cookie and bit into it, crunching as modestly as she could.

It should have been odd, the two of them sharing a seat - and a snack - in the otherwise empty bus. It wasn't though. Faith held Buffy's gaze and chewed slowly on her own cookie, then stopped moving altogether after she'd swallowed her bite. Buffy was looking at her with something in her eyes that made Faith's heart and breathing quicken.

Buffy finished chewing as well and, with a little grin on her lips, looked down at the cookie in her hand and then back up to Faith. She unceremoniously tossed the cookie into the seat behind them and scooted closer to Faith so that their thighs were touching. In a move that both shocked and pleased Faith, Buffy quickly lifted her knee up and swung it around so that she was straddling Faith's lap. Faith's hands instinctively found Buffy's hips and settled there, waiting for Buffy's next move.

"Actually, no. I don't want to settle for cookies. We saved the world, we've driven for two days, and . . . you're right about slayer constitution, Faith. Slayers only need two things, and right now . . . I think we can help each other out with one of them."

Buffy's hands slid down her sides and settled atop Faith's hands on her hips. Slowly, she began to rock forward, causing just the slightest of friction. It was enough to make Faith's lips part and suck in a quick breath.

"Are you fucking with me right now?" Faith asked, her voice sounding raspy and thick. "Cos you should never tease a sex-starved slayer. Bad things could happen. Bad, bad things."

Buffy shrugged. "I could be fucking with you if you want me to," she said playfully, her hips still rocking. Faith's fingertips flexed against the soft material of Buffy's cotton pants. "Your call, Faith. We maybe have a few hours before they come out looking for us. We can sit here eating the groceries, or we can . . ."

Buffy trailed off and ground her hips down a little bit harder, her own mouth dropping open in quiet pleasure now.

Faith didn't know if it was a good idea, in fact, she knew it was probably of the bad. But with Buffy moving against her like that and with Buffy's scent surrounding her like a blanket, she couldn't fight it.

Buffy had always been on her bucket list.

Grinning, Faith slipped her hands up Buffy's sides and then down her back, dipping them under the material of her pants to cup her ass cheeks and pull her roughly forward.

"Is that a cell phone in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?" Buffy asked breathlessly, causing Faith's grin to widen.

"I'm fucking happy to see you," Faith whispered into the space between them before Buffy leaned in and closed the distance, bringing their lips together in a bruising and long overdue kiss.

It could have been awkward in the small space but clothing was shed piece by piece until they were skin on skin, sharing kisses and breaths like they depended on one another for them. Faith felt like she was dreaming; like she'd died in the battle and had been sent to heaven, where St. Peter was waiting at the pearly white gates between Buffy's satin thighs.

Or something like that, anyway.

Buffy was her heaven, and now that she'd had a taste she knew that she'd never want to leave.

But two hours later when headlights stopped beside them on the dusty highway and the voices of their friends filled the night, Faith knew that she was being evicted from heaven and shot back down to Earth.

She landed with a thud on the cold bus floor as she scrambled to put on her pants, all while Buffy watched her and laughed while slowly pulling on her own clothes. Buffy opened her mouth to speak but Faith cut her off, not wanting to hear the inevitable rejection. Her heart had already taken enough rejection from Buffy and she didn't think it could take any more, even though she was sure it was trying to tell her something different this time around.

"Finish getting dressed, B, and open a couple windows. I'll try to keep them outside."

Faith grabbed a couple bags of groceries and headed to the front of the bus where Kennedy and Vi were waiting at the locked door.

"Hey Faith?" Buffy called after her and Faith turned around, hesitant to meet her gaze. She did though and seemed to get lost in those beautiful green eyes. Her heart fluttered in her chest but she ignored it.

"Thanks for the . . . cookies."

Buffy's smile was warm, and Faith returned it with a quick grin of her own and a wink before opening the door and hopping off the bus, eager to see if she could help Xander out with the motor.

She'd never look at a cookie the same way ever again.

ii. to be lonely is a habit like smoking or taking drugs, and I've quit them both but man, was it rough

It was two weeks later and over fifteen girls were being taken to Cleveland by Robin Wood to start up a new unit there. It was only a tentative plan for now, but Giles had insisted on getting at least a handful of slayers there in case the Hellmouth decided to act up. Giles was working tirelessly to organize them into groups where they'd be needed, but it took time and effort which was why they were still in Las Cruces, living it up at Kennedy's ranch. No one was there besides a couple of caretakers so they weren't a burden, at least.

What the departure of the girls and Robin meant for everyone who remained at the ranch was more food to go around, more hot water, less cabin fever, and unshared bedrooms for almost all who remained. Faith decided to stay where she was in a room with Rona and Jaycee; after a couple of years in prison, she was used to sharing her space with others. It was like second nature to her.

She and Buffy hadn't had much of a chance to talk about their night on the bus together when they'd returned to the ranch. It took almost two days for everyone to settle in, develop a routine, and go shopping so that they didn't have to re-wear their clothes day after day. They were so busy that it hadn't seemed weird that she and Buffy hadn't seen much of one another. It was almost always on Faith's mind though.

Really, how could she focus on anything else?

She'd had sex with Buffy. Multiple times, in multiple positions. On a bus. In the middle of the desert. And Buffy had initiated it!

Faith still wondered if she'd received a head injury in the battle that made her imagine things - glorious things - but two days after they were settled in and she found herself pressed against a wall in a guest bedroom with Buffy's hand down her pants, she figured out pretty quickly that it was real.

"I don't know about you," Buffy had said, grunting softly as Faith had flipped their positions and pressed Buffy against the wall, "but actual cookies just don't seem to be cutting it these days."

Faith laughed against her lips and they made what seemed like a silent agreement then and there: sex, no strings attached, no drama. They both wanted it, needed it, and apparently they were happy to help one another out. Really, it was the perfect plan.

And now that there were half the amount of people at the ranch, it would be a whole heck of a lot easier.

Faith looked both ways before leaving her room and stepping out into the hall, making sure the coast was clear. Buffy had been giving her 'the look' at the dinner table earlier in the day; you know, the look that said 'rip off my panties and do things to me that would make any other person blush.'

Faith was more than happy to comply. In fact, she'd been looking forward to it every single minute since dinner.

She tip-toed down the silent hall and stopped just outside Buffy's bedroom door, then tapped lightly at it with her fingertips. A few moments later the door opened and Faith stepped in casually, checking to be sure it was empty of any annoying roommates before starting to strip off her clothing.

"Did Rona and Jaycee ask where you were going?" Buffy asked conversationally as she removed her own clothes.

"Nope," Faith replied as she reached behind her back and unclasped her bra, letting it fall to the floor.

"Good. I talked Willow and Kennedy into keeping Dawn occupied. They're having a sleepover and watching scary movies. We should be interruption-free." Buffy slid her thumbs under the sides of her panties and shimmied them down, then kicked them off to the side.

Faith was already naked by then so she let her eyes wander over Buffy, taking in every inch of her. Grinning, she closed the distance between them and laid Buffy down on the mattress, hovering above her as Buffy's hands pushed into her unruly hair.

"Good. Gonna need at least three, four hours of your undivided attention."

"Oh yeah?" Buffy asked, smiling. "And why's that? Do you really think I'd - ohh."

Buffy's eyes closed and her head tilted back as Faith's fingers brushed over her, making her skin cover in goosebumps. Faith smiled proudly. One touch. One touch to get Buffy's attention.

Damn she was good.

Buffy was soft and warm against her fingers and getting wetter by the second. Faith still couldn't believe that she was there, in Buffy's room, in Buffy's bed, doing things to her she'd only ever (secretly) dreamed about. She felt like she might wake up from a dream at any moment so she leaned down and pressed her lips to Buffy's, trying to take what she could before it was too late.

And Buffy was more than happy to give. Though Faith was her first female lover, she was a quick and eager learner, and Faith enjoyed absolutely every minute of their 'lessons'.

Over four hours later, she still hadn't woken up from whatever awesome dream she convinced herself she was having. In fact, it felt like she was finally ready to actually fall asleep, her muscles tired and body aching in all of the right places. Buffy was breathing hard beside her, still trying to come down from their last round. Faith couldn't help but smile; she felt completely content. Her body was humming. So was Buffy's; she could feel it through their bond.

"God, I can't feel my toes," Buffy said mindlessly and Faith looked over, smiling.

"That means ya been fucked right."

"Oh yeah," Buffy said, smiling. She closed her eyes and hummed happily. Suddenly her eyes shot open and she looked over at Faith with her brown creased. "How are your toes?"

Faith laughed and tried to wiggle them unsuccessfully.

"I don't even know what toes are right now," she replied easily. She raised her arms over her head and stretched her body, her joints popping and cracking loudly.

"Oh, that's attractive."

"You know it," Faith replied, smiling lazily. "Don't act like you don't like it."

"You sound like a bowl of Rice Krispies."


"Yes you are."

They both laughed and then fell into a comfortable silence, taking a few minutes to recuperate and come down. When Faith opened her eyes, she looked over to see Buffy with her eyes closed, looking completely sated and happy. There was a soft smile on her pink lips and Faith's heart once again clenched in her chest. She wanted to lean down and kiss those lips; to take Buffy in her arms and take her once again.

But it was late - or maybe it was early now, she really didn't know - and staying the night wasn't a part of their arrangement. She actually didn't even know what the arrangement of their arrangement was, but however it worked, she didn't want to screw it up by sticking around longer than expected.

Taking one last glance over at Buffy and committing the vision to memory, Faith sat up and began looking for her clothes. She couldn't tell if Buffy was watching her but that was mostly because she was trying so hard to focus on the task at hand and not on her feelings or on those being projected from Buffy.

When she was finally dressed, she turned around to find Buffy watching her with a small smirk.

"So, thanks," Faith said easily though it felt anything but easy to her. She wondered if Buffy could tell.

"You, too. I'm gonna sleep great tonight."

Buffy's gaze lingered on her, which made it even more difficult for Faith to move. She felt like she was walking through treacle as she headed toward the door and could only move easily against once the door was closed and she was standing out in the hallway.

She bypassed her room completely and headed down to the bathroom, deciding on a quick shower. She liked smelling like Buffy, which was disturbing enough, but she didn't want to deal with the barrage of questions she'd have to face if she walked into her room smelling like that and had to face the slayer-enhanced senses of Rona and Jaycee.

The loofah was scratchy against her skin but no matter how hard she scrubbed, she couldn't wash Buffy from her. It was though she'd seeped into Faith's pores and was now under her skin.

Under her skin. Yep, that was a good way of describing it.

Turning the hot water tap off and letting the water run cold, Faith stood under the spray and shivered, happy to feel something besides the pleasant hum in her body for just a few minutes. Nothing that good lasted forever, and she needed to remind herself of that.

iii. i go nowhere high, go nowhere warm, until you're by my side

After much deliberating by Giles with whatever remnants of the Council that remained, it was mutually decided that they would move their main operation to Scotland. There was a castle there that had belonged to the Council for centuries and had room to house an ample amount of slayers and operatives. Across the world plans were being made for small cells of slayers to operate, but it would all be run from Scotland.

Giles was headed there, as was Willow, which meant that it was exactly where Buffy had wanted to go. Once she'd publicly made up her mind, everyone else followed suit, including Faith. Giles had suggested she go to Cleveland to take over for Robin but Faith had immediately shot down that offer.

She'd served her time on a Hellmouth and it hadn't turned out well. She was ready to try something different now.

And she wouldn't admit this to anyone else, but she wanted to stay with the group. They were quickly becoming friends, and she and Buffy, well . . . she didn't know what was going on there, but whatever it was, it was good and she wasn't quite ready to say goodbye to that yet. Not until Buffy put a stop to it.

Traveling alone was difficult enough but traveling with a group of fifteen-plus people was even more difficult. Willow had offered to try to use magic to teleport them to Scotland but Giles wouldn't allow it; not until they had gotten to the castle and had it inspected for safety first. He didn't want them to magically appear and have the walls come collapsing down on them.

Still, putting a bunch of slayers on a plane didn't seem like much better of an idea, especially since so many of them were still young and fresh and, well, spazzy. Willow, Buffy, Xander, Giles, and Faith had all taken charge of a small group of girls, making sure that they were organized, packed, and ready to travel with their appropriate tickets and documents.

They were seated on the plane in small clusters, unable to get so many seats available in a single section. Buffy and Faith's groups were at the rear of the plane and Dawn and Andrew had seats back there as well, though they were still a bit spread out. Buffy sat next to Dawn and Faith next to Andrew, which was probably the unluckiest seat on the entire plane. She briefly wondered if the captain would let her sit out on the wing but she realized that not even her slayer strength would keep her out there for eight-plus hours.

Grumbling, she took her seat next to Andrew and put on her MP3 player, turning it up as loud as it could to drown out his voice. He was worried about engine malfunctions and terrorists and alien entities that might perch on the wing, and she was worried that she might push him out the emergency door and end up taking the whole plane down in the process.

She closed her eyes and tried to relax but it was difficult. An hour into the flight a stewardess came around with drinks and snacks, which brightened Faith's day enough to smile. That smile faded, however, when Andrew started choking on a peanut from his complimentary snack and started flailing around in his seat. He knocked Faith's tray table with his knee which sent her half-full Coke into her lap. She quickly stood up so that the liquid wouldn't seep into her clothing but it was too late; dark brown stains ran down her shirt and through her pants, soaking down to her skin.

"Oh, fucking hell," she grumbled as she patted at her clothes, trying to flick off any excess drops of soda.

Andrew flailed, still choking, and she reached out and thumped his back with slayer strength, making him spit the rogue peanut out with a loud gasp. The peanut flew three rows up and pinged Buffy in the back of the head, making her look back at the commotion. By now everyone was staring at her and Faith had to fight the urge to pick Andrew up by his ears and spin him around by his head.

"Sweet, sweet oxygen," Andrew gasped, momentarily removing the attention from Faith and back to himself.

He moved to hug her but her hand shot out, catching him over his face and keeping him at arms length.

"Don't even think about it, junior. Now have a seat and chew your damn peanuts like a big boy or else I'm gonna start feeding you through an IV."

She pushed him off and he landed back in his seat with a thud. Before he could say anything else, she walked to the rear of the plane and let herself in the only vacant bathroom available. It was cramped and it smelled of sanitizer and air freshener, but she closed the door behind herself anyhow and grabbed a wad of paper towels from the dispenser, hoping beyond hope that she could salvage her outfit.

Not more than thirty seconds later, there was a soft knock on the door.

"Ocupado," Faith mumbled. When the knock came again, she yelled a little louder. "It's taken!"

"Housekeeping!" came a voice from the other side of the door.

Buffy's voice.

Smiling, Faith opened the door and was surprised when Buffy pushed her way into the tiny space, closing the door behind her after taking a quick peek out to make sure she hadn't been seen. They were pressed right together, Faith's hips pressed back against the tiny steel sink.

"Kinda risky, don't ya think?" Faith asked.

"Nah," Buffy replied easily, checking out the small space. "Andrew choked on another peanut. Everyone's focused on him again."

"Jeez, guy has the worst gag reflex ever. He's probably the worst gay in history."

"Speaking of gay," Buffy began with a grin, then looked down at the space between them, "drop your pants. We don't have long."

Faith laughed and tried to do just that but it was impossible in the small space.

"Yunno what? I'm all about joining the mile high club but I think that if I try to take them down, they ain't coming back up again."

Buffy mock sighed and pretended to be incredibly put out when she reached between them and popped the button on Faith's jeans, then slid the zip down.

"Fine. Keep them on. I can work around them."

Suddenly Faith felt a hand slide down the front of her pants and she did her best to do the same to Buffy before she got too far gone to be able to carry out simple tasks. They fought for dominance, giggling between kisses as they bumped against the walls and door. They were lucky that they didn't spill out the door with their hands in each other's pants; there wasn't quite a way that they could explain that one away to the flight crew and passengers.

Buffy came with a shudder just moments after Faith, mumbling her cries of pleasure into Faith's shoulder. They stayed like that for a few moments, trying to catch their breath when the ridiculousness of the situation dawned upon.

"Dude, we just fucked in an airplane bathroom," Faith chuckled.

"I know," Buffy replied, laughing quietly. "We're moving up in the world though. First a bus, now an airplane."

"Up next? Rocket to the moon."

Buffy smiled and leaned up, planting a quick kiss on Faith's lips. "You buy the tickets, I'll buy the astronaut ice cream." She pulled her hand from Faith's pants and quickly buttoned her own pants up. She checked in the mirror to make sure that she was basically put together before looking back up at Faith. "I'll go first. Give it two minutes before you follow."

She gave Faith one last kiss before exiting the bathroom, closing the door quickly behind her. Faith stood there for a moment before laughing. Shaking her head, she washed her hands off in the sink and looked down at her stained and now partially-dried shirt and pants. Yep, they were a lost cause. She quickly dried her hands off and then left the bathroom, heading back to her seat.

If anyone had heard anything, no one let on that they did. People were busy watching the in-flight movie or reading their books or newspapers, none the wiser that someone had just had sex in the bathroom just a few yards away from them.

Smiling to herself, Faith walked down the narrow aisle and stopped when she got to her seat, standing there completely surprised to see Buffy sitting where Andrew had been just ten minutes ago. Buffy looked up at her and rolled her eyes.

"He doesn't want to sit by you anymore. He's afraid what you'll do if he chokes again, which, let's face it, there's a good probability it will happen again. They gave him another bag of peanuts."

Faith looked over to the row Buffy had been sitting in and spotted Andrew sitting next to Dawn, trying to rest his head on her shoulder as she leaned to the other side to get away from him. She looked back to Buffy and suddenly felt nervous. They'd never actually spent time together after the fact. It wasn't that she didn't want to; it was just that she didn't know what to do or say or how to act.

But with the way Buffy was looking at her and smiling encouragingly, all of Faith's fears melted away and she slipped back down into her seat. If Buffy could act normally, so could she.

"Screw it; let Dawnie deal with him," Faith said easily. She nodded to the small television monitors in the back of the seats in front of them and then looked over to Buffy. "You ever see this movie?"

"Nope. I mean, I've wanted to but I've never had the chance. Busy saving the world and all."

"Yeah, I can get how that might interfere," Faith replied, chuckling. "Looks like ya missed the first ten minutes though."

Buffy grinned a mischievous grin that had Faith's heart fluttering in her chest.

"Yeah, but it was totally worth it."

Buffy winked and then turned her attention to the monitor, starting up a conversation about Johnny Depp's eyes and how they're the perfect color. Faith sat back and listened, laughing occasionally and trying to focus on the film and Buffy and not at all on the way her heart was beating almost twice as fast as it usually did.

iv. won't tell anybody how you turn my world around, won't tell anyone how your voice is my favorite sound

Okay, Faith had to give props where they were due. For every one thing she didn't like about Scotland, there were three things that she absolutely loved. Though she'd grumbled about moving there, Giles had told her she would find things she loved in time.

He'd been absolutely right.

The weather wasn't great, but when good weather came in? Everything was beautiful. Beaches, cliffs, meadows, castles; Scotland had so much hidden beauty all around. All she had to do was go out and find it. She'd been exploring for almost two months now and still hadn't seen it all.

Getting organized once they'd arrived had been a task and a half but luckily for Faith, Giles and the Scoobies bore the brunt of the administrative work. Faith made a few trips to and from the airport to pick up slayers when they arrived and was in charge of setting up training schedules based on their primary assessment, but beside that her days were pretty easy. They were still developing a curriculum and a working schedule in the castle, but until things were set in stone she was taking full advantage of any free time she got.

Almost every day after she was done with her daily tasks, she'd put on her MP3 player and head out for a walk or a jog to see what other cool places she could discover. There was a beach not too far away that was one of her favorite spots but she was pretty sure that it was also one of Andrew's favorite spots, which was why she began avoiding it like the plague.

Seeing that boy in a neon yellow Speedo was at the top of her list of things she wished she could un-see.

Still, she found other cool places in her travels and promised herself that she wouldn't share them with anyone. After all, she shared her living space with over sixty other people on a daily basis. Keeping one or two places private hardly seemed selfish.

Two days of rain gave way to a beautiful, sunny and pleasantly warm Saturday afternoon and Faith was taking full advantage. She'd escaped from the madness of the castle before anyone could rope her into extra tasks or chores or taking them along with her and made her way along a path just east of the abandoned stables. It was one of the few directions she hadn't traveled yet and she was anxious to see where it led.

She knew that listening to her music was maybe a bit redundant when she was supposed to be relaxing and exploring and being one with nature or whatever, but she didn't really care. Nine Inch Nails was way better than some noisy birds any day.

As she traveled along the path, she took in the sights with a peaceful smile on her face. Winding her way between two craggy slopes, she came out on the other side of them to find herself in a meadow covered with thousands upon thousands of pink, purple, orange and yellow flowers. Butterflies fluttered through the air and for several long minutes, Faith couldn't move and could barely even breathe. She felt like she'd left reality behind and stepped into some kind of fairytale.

That is, until she was pegged on the side of her head with a grape.

Frowning, she turned her head and expected to see a rogue squirrel or even a chipmunk with a chip on its shoulder, but instead she saw a grinning Buffy. Smiling, Faith tugged her earbuds out of her ears and wound the cord around her MP3 player before tucking it away in her pocket.

"What's up, stalker?" she asked.

Buffy indicated the blanket she was sitting atop and the half-eaten snacks she'd been munching on. Yep, she'd definitely been there longer.

"I believe I'm the stalkee here," Buffy replied. "Had I known you were following me I would have brought more food. As it stands, I have no intention of sharing."


Faith didn't wait to be asked; she knew she didn't need an invite. She sat down on the blanket next to Buffy and grabbed a grape, popping it into her mouth with a grin. Buffy gave her a mock glare but was unable to hold it for long.

"Fine, fine. Crash my picnic. Steal my food. Take advantage of my kindness."

"You were the one throwing grapes around all willy-nilly, yo. I think you can spare a few."

A comfortable silence settled around them as they shared the rest of Buffy's grapes, strawberries, watermelon, and orange slices. The only sound was that of the birds and insects that populated the field and surrounding hills. It was completely pleasant and for a few minutes, Faith forgot that she and Buffy had any kind of arrangement. Right then and there, it was just the two of them enjoying one another's company.

Warmed by the midday sun, Faith pulled off her hooded sweatshirt and balled it up before placing it down on the blanket behind her. The white tank top she wore underneath it was ribbed and form-fitting and Faith caught Buffy trying not to make it look like she was checking her out. Even though she was full of lewd comments, Faith didn't say anything. She merely lay back with the sweatshirt under her head and got comfortable.

It wasn't long before Buffy laid back too, lying next to Faith but not touching her.

"You sure you don't mind me hanging out?" Faith asked after a few minutes.

Buffy shook her head, her hands shielding her eyes from the sun as she gazed up at the clouds. "Not at all. I've always told you I wouldn't mind if you hung around more often, Faith. You know that."

Buffy's voice was soft and quiet and not accusatory at all, but Faith kind of thought that there was something more to her words. Instead of trying to figure out what was really going on though, she merely grunted quietly in acknowledgement. It made Buffy chuckle and Faith looked over to see Buffy looking at her, smiling.

"A grunt? Really?" Buffy asked, laughing quietly.

Faith shrugged a little, unsure of how to respond. She knew she was into Buffy; she wouldn't be having sex with her if she wasn't. But whatever their arrangement was, it had nothing to do with anything besides sex, and frankly, Faith didn't want to screw up a good thing.

Deciding to change the subject, she propped herself up on one elbow and looked down at Buffy, grinning lasciviously.

"You think anyone can see us out here?"

Buffy held her gaze for a few moments before exhaling quietly in what Faith could only describe as disappointment. It didn't take long for a smile to reappear though, be it genuine or not, and Buffy seemingly decided to play along.

"I think we would hear someone coming before they saw us, if that's what you mean," Buffy replied. When Faith scooted a bit closer and wiggled her eyebrows suggestively, Buffy put a hand out to stop her slow descent. "I'm not having sex with you in the middle of a field, Faith."

Faith pouted - yes, actually pouted - but before she could lay back down, the hand that had stopped her gripped onto her tank top and stopped her going anywhere. She furrowed her brow and looked down at Buffy who was smiling innocently.

"That doesn't mean you have to go away though," Buffy continued. "Do you think you can keep it PG-13?"

Faith made a dramatic show of pondering it, screwing up her face in concentration while tapping her finger on Buffy's side, making her squirm a little.

"It'd be a challenge," Faith said, trying to sound unsure.

"And you don't think you could handle it?" Buffy taunted.

That was all it took to make Faith close the distance, covering Buffy's lips with hers. Buffy sighed softly into the kiss, and then giggled when Faith pinched her side.

"That's for egging me on," Faith mumbled between kisses.

Buffy didn't reply with words. Instead she slipped both of her hands over Faith's sides and around her back, keeping her held right where she was.

Kissing Buffy was like being able to breathe again after holding your breath for a long time. That was the only way Faith could describe it. Like she'd been holding her breath all along and now that she had Buffy in her arms, she could finally breathe again.

That thought was scarier than Faith could even begin to comprehend. Nothing good could come from it. One day Buffy was going to stop whatever was going on between them and then Faith would be left - metaphorically speaking, at least - without air.

When Buffy hummed happily against her lips, Faith's heart began to beat hard in her chest, doing the little fluttery thing that made her skin prickle and her breath catch in her throat. She wanted to pull away but she couldn't, not until she heard the sound of voices in the distance, however.

Quickly sitting up, Faith grabbed her sweatshirt and pulled it on. The voices were getting louder and she was able to make them out; Xander, Dawn, Willow and Kennedy. She looked down to Buffy who was lying with her eyes closed, smiling from ear to ear.

"Might wanna get up, B. Your friends are coming."

"I know," Buffy said, then opened her eyes and looked up at Faith. "They're joining me for a picnic."

"Coulda warned me before I tried to work my hand up your shirt," Faith laughed, flustered.

"But that wouldn't have been nearly as fun." Buffy sat up and fixed herself up as best as she could. "Join us? Andrew made sandwiches for us and Willow made salad."

"Cos you know how much I love salad," Faith replied sarcastically as she stood up.

"Kennedy is bringing beer," Buffy tried, the way her smile faded just barely noticeable except to Faith's keen eye. When it looked like Faith was actually considering it, Buffy continued. "I'd really like it if you joined us, Faith."

Faith held her gaze for what felt like forever, but then the gang was there and every instinct in her body was telling Faith to run; to get the hell out of there before anyone realized what had been happening just minutes before. Before whatever she and Buffy had got ruined.

"Faith!" Xander called out happily. "Didn't think you'd be here. Hey, the more the merrier. You planning on joining us for snacking and meadow-frolicking aplenty?"

Faith blinked and looked away from Buffy, turning around to offer the approaching group a friendly smile.

"Nah, buddy, I was just passing through. Have a sandwich for me, yeah?"

She gave his stomach a hearty pat as she walked past, not turning around to see their reaction. She couldn't look back; she didn't think she could take the look on Buffy's face if she did.

Picking up her pace, Faith grabbed the MP3 player from her pocket and put it on, turning the volume to max to drown out her thoughts.

v. you could feel it too, don't hide, you liar

It was hard for Faith to remember that what they were having was just sex, especially when Buffy was beneath her, breathing hard and gazing up into her eyes, begging her to move just a little bit harder, a little bit faster. All Faith could feel was Buffy against her, breathe in the smell of her skin, relish in the taste of her kisses, and get lost in those green eyes that were begging with her - pleading with her - for something more.

For something Faith wasn't sure she knew how to give.

Their encounters were becoming more and more frequent. At first it was just a couple of times a week. Then they moved to Scotland and it was four or five times a week. And now that they'd been in Scotland for over three months, it had turned into an every night kind of thing. Faith was used to seeking Buffy out, but somewhere along the way that began to change. They'd been spending a fair amount of time in Faith's bedroom instead as of late, which was fine except for the fact that it was hard for Faith to get gone when they were in her own room.

It was silly to try to change the rules now; everything was going so well. If Buffy tried to add talking after sex and spooning, then it wasn't just sex anymore. It would be something more, and Faith was sure they weren't cut out for that. They'd started their arrangement with a silent agreement, and if they changed things now it wouldn't be long before it fizzled out and ended.

Faith didn't think she'd be able to cope if that happened.

So she did what she could to keep it casual.

The sex was great, phenomenal actually, but as soon as it was over, Faith only lingered for a few minutes before finding something 'important' that always led her away. Buffy had never seemed to mind at first; in fact, Buffy had done the exact same things on multiple occasions.

But things were changing, Faith could tell that much, and she was terrified of losing it all.

She also understood that it wasn't all on Buffy; Faith accepted that she was partially to blame as well. Yeah, she could admit that she wanted more. She wanted to be able to hold and touch and kiss Buffy whenever she wanted. She hated waiting until everyone was asleep or until she and Buffy were alone. It physically killed her that she had to restrain herself. Restraint had never been one of her strong points (unless you added an 's' to the end of the word and brought out the handcuffs and blindfolds, but that was a different story altogether).

So instead of giving in to what she wanted, instead of falling so deeply into green eyes staring up at her begging for something Faith knew she couldn't give, Faith ignored it. She ignored the way her heart beat like crazy in her chest whenever Buffy looked at or touched or kissed her, and ignored all of her own wants, and instead did what she knew worked.

What had been working between them for months.

She leaned down and kissed Buffy hard on the mouth, shivering involuntarily when Buffy scraped her nails down her back. She closed her eyes and got lost in the sensation of Buffy in her arms, against her skin, and burned every sensation into her memory so that it would hold her over until their next time together.

"Oh, Faith," Buffy moaned when Faith began to kiss and suck along her neck.

Buffy's fingers were grasping at Faith's back and by the way she was panting, Faith knew that she was close to coming. She could read Buffy's body like a book now; knew exactly where to touch and when and how hard, and relished in the fact that she was the only person who could do that.

Even though it was just sex, Buffy was still hers.

Feeling suddenly possessive even though she had no right to, Faith used her teeth to bluntly bite into Buffy's neck, just over the spot where she'd already been marked once before. That was all that Buffy needed. Her body tensed and she gasped quietly as she came, trying her best not to wake up the whole castle. Faith's own orgasm quickly approached and she thrust her pussy harder against Buffy's, burying her face in her neck and breathing in her scent.

Her skin prickled from head to toe as Buffy's hands caressed up and then down her back. It was when those hands grasped onto Faith's ass and pulled her roughly against her that Faith finally lost it, coming hard with a series of quiet grunts. She'd never been a girly squealer; that was more Buffy's department, but never when they were in the castle. There were way too many people around with slayer hearing and not enough soundproofing in the walls.

Faith's body suddenly felt like it was full of lead and she momentarily forgot herself, collapsing down onto Buffy's sticky and damp body. Suddenly realizing herself and that she was probably squashing Buffy, she pulled her head back and looked down to make sure that she was okay. That was when Buffy's hands slid into her hair and pulled her down into what was a long, languorous, and undeniably sexy kiss.

It felt like heaven; like being let in from the cold after a long winter. Faith's heart fluttered in her chest and she couldn't help the little moan that escaped her throat. While Buffy was encouraged by the small noise, Faith felt the opposite. She quickly broke the kiss and rolled over onto her back, staring up at the ceiling. She was breathing hard and fast and she did her best to bring it back to normal.

Slowing her heart down, however, was a completely different story.

"That was amazing," Buffy breathed.

"Always is," Faith breathed, still trying to catch her breath. "It's what happens when ya mix two hot chicks with superpowers."

Buffy's only reply was a quiet 'mmm' sound, followed by her arm draping over Faith's midsection. Faith froze; the situation was getting damn close to cuddling. Deciding to stop things before they got awkward, she tried to sit up so that she could get dressed but found that she was held there by Buffy's strong arm.

She glanced over to see that Buffy was looking up at her, her eyes perfectly clear.

"Listen," Buffy began, "I know that this is where you usually disappear but just give me a few minutes to bask. We're in your room and I can't feel my legs yet so I'm kind of stuck here anyway."

Faith sat unmoving for a moment, wary of the situation, but eventually nodded and lay back down against the mattress. As relaxed as she tried to be, her body was rigid and she couldn't do anything but stare up at the ceiling as Buffy got all cozy nestled against her side. Faith's arm betrayed her and wrapped around Buffy, leading Faith to silently scold herself as she lay there.

It was awkward and uncomfortable, at least on Faith's part, and she wondered just why the hell Buffy seemed so relaxed. This was going far beyond the realm of fuck buddies. This was going to fuck everything up.

Not more than three minutes could have passed before Faith had finally had enough. With Buffy all relaxed, it was easy for Faith to slip out from under her grasp and stand up. She kept her back to the bed as she searched around for her discarded clothing. She didn't want to look back and see Buffy's disappointment, and she also didn't want to look back for fear that her body would betray her and run back into Buffy's arms.

"When are you going to realize what this is?" Buffy asked quietly.

Faith heard her shift around on the bed and when she glanced over, trying to act nonchalant, she noticed that Buffy was laying on her side with the sheet pulled up to her chest, head propped up on her hand as she silently appraised her. It unnerved Faith; she didn't like when people tried to figure her out. She had walls to block that kind of shit, so she put one up and tried to keep a casual air about her.

"This? This is some wicked hot sex, princess. Trust me; I'm kinda an expert."

"Oh, I'm not doubting that," Buffy said with a satisfied smile. She practically purred as she continued. "The fact that I still can't feel my legs and that I feel like I'm basking on a cloud made of equal parts cotton candy and fluffy white kittens only backs that up. What I mean is . . . we're not kidding anyone here anymore, Faith. We both know that this is more than . . ."

"Stop," Faith interrupted, shaking her head. She stopped what she was doing and turned to face Buffy, silently pleading with her. "Stop overanalyzing it, B. We have some crazy hot sex, ain't denying it. It's been fuckin' awesome. But that's exactly what it is: awesome fucking. Let's not ruin it with all this shit."

"I think you're wrong," Buffy replied quietly, shaking her head. "I think that's how it started out, but it's different now. It's . . ."

"It's sex," Faith reiterated. She'd already pulled on a pair of panties and her tank top, so she grabbed the few items of clothing from the floor that were Buffy's and walked them over to the bed, holding them out to her. "And to think for even a second that it's something more is crazy. "I mean, have you even . . ."

Suddenly Faith was yanked forward by her wrists and her lips collided with Buffy's. Buffy kissed her with everything she had, instantly taking Faith's breath away. She lost herself in the kiss and tried to ignore the way her heart began to flutter in her chest once again. Seriously, she had to have some kind of medical condition.

But Buffy always seemed to have that effect on her lately, no matter how much Faith tried to pretend that she didn't.

When Buffy pulled away, Faith's eyes were still closed and her entire body was humming. She tried to say something, tried to move, but she couldn't.

"If this is 'just sex'" Buffy began quietly, her breath warm on Faith's face, "then why does your heart do that every time we kiss or touch or even just talk?"

And that was all it took for Faith to crash back to reality.

She opened her eyes, only to narrow them at Buffy as she took that in. Buffy could hear her heart. No matter what Faith told her, Buffy knew the truth. Still, she couldn't let her think that she was right.

"Cos you're a rockin' good kisser?" Faith offered weakly, then stood up and tried to harden herself. "And stop listenin' to my heart. Slayer or not, that's fucking creepy."

Chagrinned, Buffy chuckled bitterly and stood up on the other side of the bed, shaking her head. She made quick work of putting on her rumpled clothing and stormed over to the door, but she stopped before she opened it and looked back at Faith.

"You know what? That's fine, Faith. I'll stop listening to your heart. Maybe then you'll start."

As she opened the door and moved to leave, Faith couldn't help her own bitter chuckle.

"Knew this'd fuckin' ruin it," she murmured under her breath.

"Yeah," Buffy said sadly, not looking back at Faith this time. Her voice was quiet and sad and it nearly broke Faith's heart. "Congratulations, Faith. Guess you were right all along."

And with that Buffy closed the door and left. Faith stood watching it for a few moments before sitting back on the bed and looking down at her lap, shaking her head sadly. Her heart began to ache and she balled up her fist, thumping her chest hard to make the dull ache stop.

She really didn't know what had betrayed her worse: her heart or her head.

i. i got a mind full of weapons in the battle of me versus myself, and everything that i kept in, i'm finding the courage to tell

"I think there's something wrong with me."

Kennedy looked over to Faith who had just spoken out of nowhere and raised an eyebrow at her. They had been sitting back against a pile of mats in the training room and watching the slayers spar, both girls silent up until that point. Faith's hand was pressed against her chest and she seemed to be wincing in discomfort.

"Really? Just one something? Because I'm pretty sure there's a list of things I can come up with that are . . ."

"Strike one, junior," Faith warned, giving Kennedy a sidelong glance.

It was enough to make Kennedy change her tune.

"Okay, fine. I'll bite. What do you think is wrong?" she asked.

Faith shrugged and looked back out into the training room, "I dunno. Something with my heart."

Kennedy furrowed her brow and followed Faith's gaze. That was when she saw Buffy across the gym helping out another slayer. The slayer's body language was obvious; she was flirting with Buffy, and surprisingly enough, Buffy was responding.

Grinning, Kennedy looked back to Faith, studying her face. Faith's eyes were narrowed and her jaw was clenched as she watched Buffy and the slayer. She was angry.

"There's nothing wrong with your heart," Kennedy said evenly.

"What, you a doctor now?"

"Yeah, I am. I'm a love doctor," Kennedy said and Faith's gaze flew over to her. "And that feeling in your heart? That's called jealousy. You're jealous that Buffy's flirting with Satsu."

Faith scoffed. "Why the fuck would I care who B flirts with? Ain't my business, and it definitely ain't got anything to do with my heart. Besides, I think it's a murmur."

She tried to act unaffected but it was apparent that it was all just an act. Her hand found its way to her chest again and she pushed her fingertips hard against her heart, trying to stop the dull ache.

"A murmur? Are you retarded?" Kennedy asked in both amusement and disbelief.

"Strike two, kid. You don't wanna get to three strikes," Faith warned.

"Why, because then I'll be out?" Kennedy taunted. "You're ridiculous, Faith. And before you give me my third strike, hear me out."

"Oh, this is gonna be fun," Faith replied sarcastically. She moved to stand up from the mats but Kennedy pulled her back down, her slayer strength surprisingly matching Faith's.

"Don't be an ass," Kennedy said. "Listen, no matter how blind you think we are - we're not. Everyone knows about you and Buffy."

Despite the surprise that Faith felt, she kept a neutral exterior.

"Yeah? And what is it that 'everyone' thinks they know?"

"That you guys have been fucking like rabbits since the day we got to New Mexico."

Kennedy's blunt answer left Faith reeling. She rubbed her suddenly sweaty palms on her pants.

"Yeah, so what? What does that have to do with anything?"

Kennedy full out laughed at that. "What does that have to do with anything?" she repeated Faith's words incredulously. "And here you think that we're all blind when you're the only one who can't see."

"Can't see what?" Faith asked loudly, her anger and frustration getting the best of her after a month of getting the cold shoulder from Buffy. "What I see is Buffy over there moving on. What I see is you being a pain in the ass like always. What I see is me having to deal with shit like this when all I ever fucking wanted was for everything to be nice and easy and not change. But no, she had to talk about it, and BAM! Everything fucking changed. Sex is easy. Everything else sucks."

"Okay, first? That is not Buffy moving on, that's Buffy trying to make you jealous. Clearly it was a decent plan. Second, if there's a pain in your ass, it's your own head. I'm just trying to help you dig it out of there so you can see a new and less shitty perspective. And third, talking about whatever yours and Buffy's issues are didn't fuck things up; what fucked things up is that you guys are clearly in love with each other but you're too afraid to admit it and try it on for size."

"I'm not afraid of shit," Faith murmured. Despite Kennedy's rant and Faith's desire to feel outraged; she wasn't.

"The hell you aren't," Kennedy laughed.

"I'm not," Faith reiterated quietly and took a deep breath. "I've always felt the same way about B. She's always been untouchable. But then I had her, and it was good, for real."

"I don't see what the problem is," Kennedy asked, confused.

"I don't know," Faith replied. She shook her head, furrowing her brow. "I dunno. It's just not simple. Shit like this is hard and I ain't ever dealt with it before. We have this whole fucking history of bad blood and . . ."

"Wait, stop. You're making this a shit ton more difficult than it needs to be. Stop listening to your head; it's only going to confuse you. Buffy's already listening to her heart; she knows what she wants but you pushed her away." She pointed down to Faith's chest. "It's time for you to start listening to yours."

"And how the fuck am I supposed to do that?" Faith asked, annoyed.

What the hell did that even mean? Was she supposed to learn Morse code or go out and buy a stethoscope or something? There was a hospital supply store in town but Giles would freak if she blew their budget on heart-listening medical shit.

Kennedy stood up, her back to the gym as she faced Faith.

"You have to drown out everything else and just listen, and feel. When you have your answer, you just have to hope that it isn't too late."

She glanced over her shoulder over at Buffy who was trying hard not to pay attention to them. Satsu was still flirting, and Buffy was still letting her.

Faith followed her gaze over to Buffy, and when she managed to look away, she noticed that Kennedy was gone. Sighing, Faith took one last look over at Buffy just as Buffy looked over at her. Their eyes met across the distance and Faith shot her a quick, nervous smile. Her heart fluttered in her chest and then began its dull ache once again when Buffy looked away without returning the smile.

Sighing, Faith stood up from the mats and winced, pressing her fingertips hard against her chest as she slowly walked out of the gym.


It was a day later and though Faith had been trying, she was still having a hard time listening to her heart. There were too many people around, too much noise, and Buffy had once again brushed her off when Faith tried to start up a casual conversation over lunch.

Frustrated, Faith went up to her room and put on her workout clothing and running shoes. She needed to get out of there and find some peace. She made her way out of the castle and to the trail behind the abandoned stables, keeping a steady pace as she jogged along the path. There were several areas where it forked and bent and she took a different route than she had the last time, taking in the sights and the sounds. She'd left her MP3 player back in her room because she had some listening to do, and she didn't really think Nine Inch Nails and Rob Zombie had much to do with that.

She jogged around for what felt like hours, the cool air licking at her sweaty skin. There were birds and insects singing away and the sound of the ocean when she neared the beach, but her heart was still clamming up on her. Was she supposed to start the conversation? Was there proper heart-talk etiquette?

Just when she was about to give up and start heading toward home, she found herself in an all too familiar meadow. There were purple, pink, orange and yellow flowers everywhere and when Faith looked across the way, she could see the exact spot where she'd stumbled upon Buffy and her picnic just a couple of months back. She remembered that day as clear as anything and when she thought about how nice it had felt to just lay with Buffy and kiss her, her heart started fluttering in her chest.

She slowed her jog down to a walk and tried to catch her breath, stopping when she reached the middle of the field. Pacing around for a few moments with her hands on her hips, she made sure that there was no one else around before flopping back in the tall grass. It was almost up to her knees so when she laid back, the grass swallowed her up, obscuring her view of anything but the sky and the mountains in the distance.

"Alright, heart," she began. "Talk to me. I'm all ears."

She closed her eyes and listened, expecting there to be an actual conversation. There was supposed to be spectacular revelations and heartfelt happiness, but there was nothing. There was only the little twinge in her chest every time she thought of Buffy; of every touch, caress, kiss they shared.

Faith brought her hand up to her chest so she could press against it but stopped suddenly when she realized that maybe that was her heart talking to her. She'd been expecting words but . . . yeah, that was ridiculous. Maybe it had been 'talking' to her all along, telling her exactly what she didn't know she needed to hear.

Well, she was finally listening.

Though she still wasn't exactly sure what to do next or now to do it, at least she knew what she wanted now. She wanted Buffy. There could be sex, but there could be more. Lots more.

She'd even learn to like the cuddling thing if she had to, so long as no one knew about it.

Smiling for what felt like the first time in a month, she stretched her arms out above her head and looked up at the sky, not bothering to try to make the heart-flutters go away this time. Nope, now she was basking in them.

Well, she was until something hit her leg and came crashing down atop her, anyhow.

Something heavy landed on her chest and knocked the wind out of her, still she struggled to lift whatever it was off of her so that she could recover and kick its ass. No one was more surprised than Faith when she lifted the object up to find that it was Buffy, decked out in running gear with an MP3 player strapped to her upper arm. Her earbuds had fallen out and now she looked down at Faith, completely perplexed.

"B!" Faith gasped, trying to catch her breath.

Buffy quickly disentangled herself from Faith and stood up. She brushed pieces of grass and dried flower petals from her clothes while she waited for Faith to recuperate. Faith struggled to sit up and when she could finally breathe somewhat normally, she noticed that Buffy was trying to look anywhere but right at her.

"Jesus," Faith panted, holding her ribs with one arm. "What are ya doin' out here?"

"Going for my daily jog?" Buffy said, pointing out the obvious. "I wasn't aware that you'd be doing the backstroke in the middle of a field. I couldn't see you until I was right on top of you. Literally."

"Yeah, sorry. Came out to clear my mind. Do some thinking. Some listening too."

It bothered Faith that Buffy wouldn't meet her gaze, but she'd been dealing with that for over a month now. Just having Buffy standing there and talking to her was a welcomed change from the awkward silence they'd endured since their last night together.

"Guess we've changed places then," Buffy said with a wry grin on her face. "Now you're coming out here to clear your mind and I'm coming out here so I can ignore mine for a while."

Faith reached over and tugged on the earbuds hanging from the MP3 player around Buffy's arm. It made her smile; Buffy had always questioned Faith how she could go out into the beautiful countryside and listen to 'that crap' that she usually played.

"Takin' a page outta my book, huh," Faith said rather than asked.

Buffy yanked the cord away and took a step back, finally meeting Faith's gaze, her eyes sad.

"Yeah. I guess I am. On that note, I'll be running off now."

Buffy turned to leave but before she could run off, Faith grabbed her wrist and held her in place. Buffy didn't shake her arm away and instead stood completely still, her back to Faith as Faith stood up beside her.

"Listen," Faith began quietly, her thumb caressing the top of Buffy's hand absentmindedly. "I owe you an apology. Things started changing and I flaked."

"You did more than flake, Faith. You flat out rejected me."

"No I didn't," Faith denied immediately. "I still wanted you, B. I still want you. But I didn't know I wanted more, too. Fuck, that ain't even the truth. I did know I wanted more; I just didn't think it could happen. I'm not used to gettin' what I want, yunno? And I had you, at least half way, and I didn't want anything to come along and fuck that up."

Buffy looked back at her then, her eyes wet with unshed tears.

"And what makes you so sure of how you feel and what you want now? It's been a month and . . . and I don't know. Maybe it's too late."

And while Faith knew that what Buffy was saying spelled disaster for their future, she'd learned to listen a little bit better recently. She smiled and pulled Buffy closer so that they were facing one another, just a few inches apart.

"Cos you told me to listen to my heart Buffy, and I did. And it beats like a motherfucker when you're around because it knows how much I want you."

"You should have known that a month ago."

"Yeah, but I wasn't ready to listen."

"And now that you have you think everything's just gonna be hunky-dory?"

"Yeah," Faith answered smiling. "Cos no matter how bad I upset you and hurt you? Your heart can't lie, just like mine couldn't. I can hear it right now and it's freaking out, just like mine is."

Buffy was silent for a moment but then she pulled her hand away, looking up at Faith defiantly.

"Stop listening to my heart, F. That's creepy," she said, repeating Faith's words from a month before.

Instead of pushing Faith away, it only made Faith smile as she took a step forward and wrapped her arms around Buffy's waist.

"Then consider me a big ol' creeper, B."

Faith could tell that Buffy wanted to smile but she was being stubborn and kept that defiant little scowl on her face. It was going to take more than words to convince Buffy, it seemed.

Bowing her head down, Faith rested her forehead against Buffy's and closed her eyes, taking in a deep breath.

"I'm sorry," she murmured. "Please don't punish us because I'm an idiot."

Buffy remained rigid in her arms and for a moment, Faith was almost sure that Buffy was right and that maybe it was too late. When almost a minute passed, Faith sighed quietly and began to step back. That was when Buffy finally reached out and wrapped her arms around Faith, keeping her right where she was.

"If you ever push me away like that again, I'll kick your ass so hard you'll land in America," Buffy said, her voice muffled against Faith's shoulder.

Faith smiled and wrapped her arms tighter around Buffy's back. She pressed her nose into the top of Buffy's hair and breathed in deeply.

"Deal. I'll make sure I always have my passport in my pocket in case I screw up."

"Ass," Buffy grumbled as she pinched Faith's side, making her squirm. "How about you just don't screw up?"

"No promises." Faith squirmed more as Buffy pinched her side a little bit harder. "Ow! Fine, I'll try! Now stop manhandling me. I may or may not have a life threatening heart murmur. Are you sure you want to physically abuse a heart patient?"

"Surer and surer every minute."

"Bully!" Faith replied, laughing.

They settled down on the soft grass, letting it envelop them in its depth. Faith lay on her back with Buffy resting alongside her, an arm draped casually over Faith's midsection. It felt like heaven. The birds sang around them and the insects chirped, and suddenly a smile crept up on Faith's lips.

"You think anyone can see us out here, B?"

Buffy scoffed. "I'm not having sex with you in the middle of a field, Faith."

"Well what if we keep it PG-13?"

Buffy seemed to ponder that for a moment and then grinned, propping herself up on an elbow so she could look down at Faith.

"I guess that if we're properly together now, I can let you get away with a soft R."

"For real?" Faith asked smiling. "Shit, had I known that I get more for being tied to ya, I woulda done that shit back in Las Cruces!"

Buffy glared at her but Faith knew that she wasn't mad; all she had to do was listen to Buffy's heart to know that they'd be okay.

But man oh man, Giles was gonna be really pissed when he got that bill for a case of stethoscopes.

The End.

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