Chapter Twenty-Two

Buffy made her way into the cabin, leaving the door open just an inch or two for Faith. She couldn't keep the smile off of her face as she grabbed a small log from the iron grate and tossed it into the fire, sending a shower of embers flying around the stone fireplace. The heat felt wonderful on her cool skin and she stayed there for a few moments, basking with her arms stretched out before her so her hands could warm up as well.

She wasn't exactly sure what was going on between them but she wanted this; god she wanted it. Now that it was out there in the open, there was no taking it back and she didn't want to.

Deciding that she didn't exactly want to be standing around in just her panties and bra when Faith walked in she did have some standards, after all she grabbed the maroon and black checkered fleece blanket from the back of the couch and wrapped it around herself, then turned to wait for Faith.

The smile on her face was there to stay but it did eventually start to fall when two minutes passed by and Faith still hadn't followed her in. Maybe she'd gotten caught up trying to dry off out on the porch or something, but that was silly. Why wouldn't she have just come into the nice warm cabin where it would be easier to dry off?

And then they could just get wet all over again.

Buffy cringed, unable to believe that she'd just thought that. God, she'd been around Faith for ten days and she was already turning into a raging homo. She'd have to go to the library when they got back to Sunnydale to see if that was some kind of world record.

She continued to wait but eventually worry began to set in. What if Faith had injured herself, or even worse, if there had been a bear! Grabbing a flashlight from the fireplace mantle, she made her way to the door and peeked out. Not seeing or hearing anything in the moonlight, she ventured out onto the porch and shone the flashlight out into the darkness. There was no sign of Faith or bears or even of zombie chipmunks.

"Faith?" she called out.

When no reply came, she stepped off of the porch and began to walk down the gentle slope, looking about in every direction for any signs of movement. Her worry grew even more intense when she saw only one set of footprints her own leading up the trail toward the house.

Clasping the blanket around her a little bit tighter, she began to jog up the trail, eyes focused in the darkness. "Faith?" she called out again. She was fairly sure she could see something up in the distance but the flashlight was weak and the beam didn't reach that far. Her breath caught in her throat when she realized that the something was Faith and that she was laying face down on one of the rocks and the end of the trail.

"Faith!"

She ran the rest of the way and immediately dropped to her knees at Faith's side, checking her over before rolling her onto her back. She didn't appear to have any injuries besides a few scrapes on her knees but when Buffy saw her face eyes open and lifeless and lips blue she knew that something terrible had to have happened. She immediately grabbed her wrist so that she could feel for a pulse, and that was when she realized that the bracelet that had been there for more than seven days was now gone.

Unsure of what to do, she took off her own bracelet and tied it on Faith's wrist and then gave her a good shake. "Faith." She patted her cheek a few times but there was no response. "Come on, Faith!"

There was still no response whatsoever; whatever magic had found her had hit her fast and hard. Faith was supposed to have been right behind her! How had they managed to get more than one hundred yards apart from each other in that short of a time? The only answer was that Faith must have stopped to look for her bracelet.

Knowing that no slap no matter how hard was going to work, Buffy had to try something else. She laid Faith flat on the ground and tilted her chin up, then began CPR. Faith's lips were cold against her own but Buffy tried not to notice it; tried not to remember how soft and warm they'd been just ten minutes before. She concentrated on remembering the lessons she'd taken all those years ago at the Red Cross course, alternating between blowing into Faith's mouth and steady chest compressions.

Seconds ticked by and Faith continued to lay there unresponsive, her body jerking slightly every time Buffy pushed on her chest.

"Come on, Faith. Take a breath, dammit," Buffy swore, her eyes filing with tears.

A spark of hope ignited inside of her when she gazed at Faith's face and saw that she didn't look as pale as she had when Buffy'd found her, but the girl still wasn't breathing on her own and the spark of hope disappeared quickly. She leaned down and pinched Faith's nose shut, blowing another breath into her mouth. This time she felt something though; a slight twitch of Faith's lips.

Buffy immediately sat back, her hand cupping Faith's cheek as she stared at her. Faith suddenly took a deep breath on her own, her eyelashes fluttering as she tried to find a steady breathing rhythm.

"Oh god, Faith!" Buffy cried, finally letting her emotions get the best of her. She pulled Faith up into her arms and held her tightly, the coldness of Faith's skin a shock to her own now warmed and sweaty skin.

Faith slowly came to life beneath her, arms wrapped around Buffy's back and breath blowing softly over her shoulder.

". . . the fuck . . ." Faith muttered, her voice raspy.

"What happened?" Buffy asked, tears running over her cheeks and down Faith's back.

"The bracelet," Faith began, drawing in deep breaths, obviously having difficulties speaking right away. "Came off. Couldn't find it. Tried to call ya back . . ."

"Oh god, I'm so sorry," Buffy apologized, holding Faith even tighter. "I didn't know . . . we were too far apart. I didn't know, Faith."

"Not your fault," Faith said.

She tried to sit up and Buffy moved with her, easing her grip just a bit so that she could see Faith's face. Their gaze met for only a second before they sought out each other's lips, kissing each other fast and soft, breathing against each other's mouth.

"I felt the magic," Faith murmured against her lips and Buffy pulled back. "Hit me in waves, got really intense. Was like there was a hand squeezing my heart . . . I couldn't breathe."

She began to shiver and Buffy immediately stood up, pulling Faith up and against her. Faith appeared to be physically okay and didn't really need much help standing but Buffy kept an arm wrapped around her anyhow, afraid to let go now. She reached down and grabbed the fallen blanket with her free hand and wrapped it around them, keeping Faith close. They slowly made the walk back to the cabin and then inside where Faith plopped down on the couch and Buffy immediately sat at her side, making sure that Faith was fully surrounded by the warm blanket.

"Are you okay?" Buffy asked, worrying her bottom lip. She'd managed to stop crying but her eyes were still red and tears were threatening to spill over again at any moment.

Faith seemed to think it over, stretching out her arm and testing her strength by clenching and unclenching her first. She narrowed her eyes a bit and then shrugged, pulling her arm back inside the blanket.

"I'm fine," she said, her brow furrowing as she spoke. "I feel completely fine. Why am I fine?"

"I don't know," Buffy said, shaking her head slightly. "Maybe I got close enough to you in time that the cloaking spell was able to work again. I put my bracelet on you . . ."

Faith immediately stuck her other hand out of the blanket and her eyes widened when she realized that Buffy was telling the truth. She began to pull at the tie but Buffy stopped her, hand clenching tightly around the bracelet to keep it in place.

"B, no," Faith began but Buffy cut her off.

"It's not me they want," Buffy said, shaking her head again. "Besides, if they can't find me they'll still think I'm in Florida with my Dad. We can find the other bracelet in daylight tomorrow. I'll be fine until then."

"I can't let anything happen to you," Faith said.

"God, do you have any idea how ridiculous that sounds coming from you right now?" Buffy asked, chuckling a little as she swiped away a few tears that had managed to escape. "Faith, you were dead. You had no pulse, you weren't breathing. Here I am, supposed to be protecting you, and I let that happen."

She shook her head sadly, another tear rolling down over her cheek.

"You didn't do anything wrong," Faith replied, reaching her hand out of the blanket to take Buffy's. She didn't just try to hold her hand though; she tugged her over so that Buffy was straddling her lap. She wrapped the blanket around the both of them and smiled up at Buffy. "In fact, you saved me. Again. Look at me, all damsel in distress. You're gonna start gettin' a hero complex soon."

"Unlikely," Buffy replied shyly. Her breath caught in her throat when she felt Faith's quickly warming hands slide from her outer thighs up over her hips, holding her there in place. In fact, Faith pulled her even closer.

"You gonna let me make it up to you?" Faith asked, looking from Buffy's eyes down to her lips and back up again.

"It can't be about that," Buffy whispered, feeling her resolve slipping inch by inch as Faith's thumbs caressed up and down her sides

"Then it won't be about that," Faith whispered as the distance between their lips became less and less. "It'll be about me wantin' you, and you wantin' me."

Buffy gasped a little as those thumbs hooked under her panties and rested there, waiting for Buffy to make a move. To give them the go ahead.

"But you nearly just . . ." she began but Faith cut her off.

"I'm fine."

"We should call Giles," Buffy whispered, her lips actually close enough now that they brushed over Faith's as she spoke. "He needs to know what happened."

"I ain't climbin' a mountain in the dark," Faith replied. She kissed Buffy, sucking gently on her bottom lip. "Only thing I wanna climb is you."

Buffy grinned a little bit against her lips and actively began to kiss Faith back, her hands wrapping over Faith's shoulders as Faith's hands caressed and rubbed her hips in small circles. She tried her best to stay still but between the kissing and the touching, her hips began to involuntarily rock forward, seeking out the friction that she knew Faith could give.

"Promise me we'll call first thing in the morning," Buffy murmured.

Faith nodded rather than replying with words. That was good enough for Buffy.

"I want you," Faith whispered against her lips.

"Want you too," Buffy replied. Deciding to take some initiative, she reached behind her back and unclasped her bra, letting it slide down her arms before tossing it out over the top of the blanket. The cool air hit her skin and she shivered, making Faith instantly take notice.

"You're shivering."

"I'm cold."

Faith grinned. "I'll warm you right up."

Buffy held on tight as Faith scooted to the end of the couch and maneuvered with one hand to take the blanket off from around them so she could let it billow down to the ground in front of the fireplace. Once the blanket was settled, Faith slid down to her knees with Buffy still straddling her and gently laid Buffy down on her back, coming to rest down atop her. The heat from the fire warmed them as they began to kiss again, hands wandering and pulling at clothes that had no business being in the way.

Despite the warmth from the fire and how good Faith was making her feel, Buffy still found herself trembling slightly. Faith must have noticed it too because she pulled back from the kiss and looked down at Buffy, her eyes sparking in the orange firelight.

"You're shaking. You still cold? I can get another blanket . . ."

"I'm fine," Buffy interrupted. "Just . . . a little nervous."

Faith smiled then, one of the sexiest little smiles Buffy had ever seen. "Ain't gotta be nervous, B. Just relax. I'll steer you around the curves."

Buffy took a quick breath and stopped Faith who'd begun to descend down her body. "I thought you said you haven't before? With a girl."

Again Faith grinned. "I haven't. Ain't like I haven't thought about it a whole lot though. And hey, thank god for you that I watch a lot of porn, huh."

Buffy couldn't help but laugh at that. She slid her hands behind Faith's neck and pulled her down, kissing her nice and deep. Faith moaned into her mouth when Buffy's hands slid around the front of her shoulders and began a downward descent, but Buffy panicked when she felt the softness of Faith's breasts and quickly pulled her hands away. Faith pulled back and looked down at her, breathing hard.

"You can touch me," she breathed, pleading with her eyes for Buffy to do just that.

"I know," Buffy replied with a slight nod. "And I want to."

"Don't be afraid." Faith leaned in and kissed her, sucking on her tongue before pulling back again and taking one of Buffy's hands in hers. "I'm gonna like anything that you do."

She guided Buffy's hand between them until it was gently cupping one of her breasts. As unsure as Buffy felt about what she was doing and what came next, she was fairly certain she was on the right track when she gently flexed her fingertips and Faith groaned softly.

"Just like that," Faith breathed.

"But I wanna . . ." Buffy began, biting on her lower lip when Faith looked down at her with eyes so dark with desire that she lost herself in her gaze.

"What?" Faith asked.

Smiling a little bit more confidently now, Buffy slid her hand even lower, stopping when her fingertips reached the trimmed hair at the apex of Faith's thighs. Faith's breath caught in her throat and her hips jerked forward, then she grinned.

"Go for it, girlfriend. You won't hear me complaining."

"I better not. I'll be permanently scarred if my first lesbian experience is marred with complaints."

"B?"

"Uh-huh?" Suddenly Buffy quietly gasped and bit down on her bottom lip as Faith's fingers found their way between her legs as well.

"You talk too much."

And then those fingers struck up a rhythm and Buffy couldn't find any more words, at least not any that would make any sense in conversation. Besides, Faith was kissing her once again so those words probably would have been all mumbled and incoherent anyhow.

For some awkward reason, her mind drifted back to her first and only time with Angel. It felt so long ago and like she'd been a different person then. There was tenderness and it hadn't been completely unenjoyable, but . . . it wasn't like this. While there had been some awkwardness then, there was none now. This seemed perfectly natural, their bodies moving in perfect synchronicity with one another as if they knew exactly what each other needed and when.

Maybe it was a slayer thing; there was no doubt they shared some kind of connection as slayers. But for some reason, Buffy doubted that this was due to any slayerness. It was more about Faith; more about them.

Buffy groaned softly as she felt a familiar tightening start to coil deep inside of her. She'd never been one to find release quickly or easily, but Faith seemed to be having no difficulties at all in bringing that out in her.

"Faith," she breathed when Faith began to kiss over her jaw and neck, nipping and sucking as she went. Her free arm curled around Faith's back, her nails scraping gently against her skin.

"Oh yeah, like that B."

They were both breathing heavy now, Faith's hips meeting Buffy's hand thrust for thrust. She began moving more quickly, trying to find her own release.

"Gonna come," the brunette breathed and Buffy felt her own body react.

"I'm coming," she said, her voice hitching as her own orgasm hit, Faith's fingers moving over her quick and hard like she knew Buffy needed it that way just then.

They gasped and clung to one another until Faith collapsed atop Buffy, their skin sweaty and hot. Buffy wrapped her arms around Faith and rubbed her hands up and down her back, feeling the rise and fall of her lungs every time she breathed. She was afraid that it was all going to end; that Faith would pull her famous get-some-get-gone and leave her laying there on the cabin floor while she went and took a shower.

That never happened though. Instead they laid there for several minutes in silence, both girls slowly coming back down from their high. Faith finally moved off to Buffy's side but kept one of her legs between Buffy's and one arm draped over her breasts.

"Never really been around long enough to know what happens next," Faith admitted, licking her lips as she looked down at Buffy, her head propped up on her hand.

"Well," Buffy began nervously, trying to find a casual smile. "I'm not exactly an expert but often times there's snuggling." When Faith's face scrunched up in distaste, Buffy hurriedly continued. "Ice cream. Ritual eating of ice cream in bed is always a good thing."

"We don't have any ice cream," Faith pointed out.

"That's true," Buffy nodded. "I guess that leaves just one thing."

"Please don't say snuggling."

Grinning, Buffy rolled Faith onto her back and climbed onto her, her hair falling like a curtain around them. "Round two."

And then Faith grinned too and leaned up to capture Buffy's lips in another kiss.


After a walk to the lake the next morning to find the lost bracelet, they'd made their way up to the single spot of reception on the mountain to make the call to Giles to let him know about what had happened to Faith. The sex part would kindly be left out though.

Buffy stumbled as she reached the rocky plateau that they'd become accustomed to visiting. Faith caught her before she could hurt herself and she blushed when she stood up straight and heard Faith laughing at her.

"Be quiet," Buffy said as she walked past her and pulled the cell phone from her pocket, opening it up to check the signal. Faith walked up to her from behind and wrapped her arms around her, her hands immediately covering her breasts. Buffy grabbed them and moved them down to her stomach. "Nice try but I'm not going to let you publicly molest me just because we had sex one time."

"Nine times," Faith whispered into her ear and Buffy could practically hear her grin. "And there ain't anyone around for miles to see us."

"Regardless," Buffy said, pushing Faith's wandering hands down once again, "I have a call to make. Can you please contain yourself for five minutes?"

"Five minutes? I can do five minutes."

Faith stepped away and Buffy took a deep breath. She needed to focus. Dialing Giles' number, she brought the phone to hear ear and listened to the line ring over and over again until she received a message that the user was not available. Frowning, she dialed again only to receive the same response.

"He's not answering," she said, her brow furrowed.

Faith shrugged, "He's probably out buying tea or something. Call your Ma and check in at least."

Nodding, Buffy dialed her mother's number and waited while the line rang. After a few moments, Joyce answered sounding anxious.

"Mom?"

"Buffy! Is everything all right, honey? Is Faith all right?"

"Yeah, yes. We're fine."

"No, something had to have happened. What's going on there, Buffy?"

"Well, we're okay now, but you're right, something did happen. Faith and I got too far from each other last night and her bracelet came off . . . it sounds horrible, and it was, but you can take pride in knowing that those Red Cross courses you signed me up for came in handy."

"Oh, honey," Joyce said, sounding more relieved now, "I'm so happy she's okay. You're taking care of her?"

Buffy glanced over to Faith and met her gaze, unable to keep the corner of her lips from curling up in a tiny smile. "Yeah, I am, Mom." Suddenly she realized something. "Wait, how did you know something happened?"

Joyce chuckled with exasperation. "You're not the only one who's having an interesting time, honey. This morning some men from the council showed up at our door . . ."

"What?" Buffy practically shouted.

"They showed up here just an hour ago. And boy oh boy, did they have some interesting things to tell me. Buffy, I don't know exactly how to tell you this, but they seem to think that Dawn is now the slayer."

Frowning, Buffy asked, "Who's Dawn?"



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