Chapter Four

Faith closed her eyes again, trying so hard to fight everything that Buffy was making her feel. She didn't want to be around the girl, didn't want to fall for her harder than she already had, but everything in her body was telling her to touch, to taste, to claim her in every way that Buffy would let her.

Unable to fight it any longer, she finally gave in to Buffy's insistent hands and let herself be pulled forward into her embrace. Their lips crashed together before their bodies were even in full contact, kissing hard and fast like there wasn't enough time in the world. Like they weren't trapped together for the next day.

Like things would come crashing down before they had the chance to get anywhere.

Wasting no time, Faith began to tug and pull at Buffy's shirt, needing to feel her skin. Needing to feel the connection that they'd always denied. Buffy happily obliged, helping to unbutton her blouse as Faith kept trying to push it off. Moments later she was bare from the waist up with the exception of only her bra. Faith stepped back for just a moment, hastily pulling her own shirt up and over her head before carelessly discarding it to the side.

Their eyes met then, dark with lust and still wet with tears. Both girls remained still, waiting for a sign; for one of them to be brave enough to make the final step toward the other. After what felt like an eternity, Buffy finally closed the distance between them, her steps slow, tentative. She didn't want to spook Faith, especially not now. She needed this.

They both needed this.

Gingerly placing her hands on Faith's hips, Buffy stood before her, staring into her dark brown eyes. She gave her one last opportunity to back down before she leaned up, nudging her nose gently against Faith's. Feeling a rush of warm breath wash over her face, she finally did what they'd both been waiting for: she brushed her lips softly over Faith's, sighing into the kiss when she felt her respond.

Echo breezed through the room after Giles, stopping only when he indicated a place to set Travers down. She set him on the leather sofa and made sure he was secure before standing up, putting her hands on her hips and cracking her back in a very Faith-like manner. When she turned around to face the others, she found all eyes focused inquisitively on her.

"Way you're all staring, I think it's safe for me to assume that you all know something weird is going on here."

"I'd say that's a safe assumption," Willow said with a nod, studying Echo's face. It was unreal how much she was like Faith! The only thing missing was the accent and the attitude.

"Great, then start working on your theories or whatever cos he's gonna wake up in about twenty minutes and I seriously doubt he's gonna let me hit him again just so you can finish up your little pow-wow here."

Correction: The only thing missing was the accent.

"I don't even know where to begin," Giles said, sitting down on his chair while he stared at Echo in wonderment. "This is all news to me; I've only just found out from Willow here," he indicated Willow with a nod of his head.

Willow's eyes widened when Echo and Sierra looked at her expectantly.

"Me? I barely know anything either!" she said defensively, looking back and forth from the two women to Giles. "Buffy thought she saw Faith in New York City. A bit of old-fashioned hacking and general snoopery later, we found out about AFH - the place that Echo and . . . umm, Satsu?"

"Sierra," the Asian girl corrected.

"Right, Sierra. Anyhow, that's where we found Echo and Sierra, or really just Echo. Sierra is a bit of a, umm, surprise. Not a bad surprise, of course!" she corrected quickly at the look that Sierra gave her. "AFH doesn't formally exist on paper. They're a private company with trusts connected to several large science and medical firms, also private and unlisted."

"If AFH doesn't exist on paper, how did you find all of that out?" Echo asked, her arms crossed over her chest.

"Through a few handy snooping spells. I'm a witch," Willow explained.

"You're a witch, I'm a clone; all we're missing is the Tin Man and Dorothy, right?" Echo said, her patience wearing thin.

"You're a clone? How can you be sure of that?" Giles asked, standing up to get a closer look at Echo.

Echo merely shrugged before saying, "That's what the ugly guy on the couch and Dr. DeWitt were talking about."

"And who is Dr. DeWitt?" Giles asked her.

"She's the one who made us," Echo explained, her voice sounding pained. "We don't know anything about ourselves. I don't know who I am, where I come from. I don't remember what I had for dinner yesterday or who I went to the prom with. I shouldn't even know that anything is wrong with me; I shouldn't be questioning any of this. The only thing I know for sure is that when Sierra is around, we can feel each other."

"Have you spoken to anyone about this?"

Echo paused before answering,

"I don't know for sure. I guess it's a possibility, but if Dr. DeWitt knew, I'm sure we wouldn't be standing here right now. I don't know what they see in my head when they do what they do to me. All I know is that I feel something inside of me, and yesterday and today I felt it stronger than I ever have. I don't know who she was or why it happened, but I felt her, and I remember it. I can't remember what I wore or what I did, but I remember her. I see her every time I close my eyes."

"Blonde hair, green eyes?" Willow asked and exhaled excitedly when Echo nodded. "That's Buffy. She's a slayer; the slayer, actually. The slayer line in all of the new slayers is from Buffy and Faith. I used their essence and that of the Scythe to call the new slayers."

Echo frowned and looked at the others in the room.

"Any of you care to translate that into English for me?"

"I'm afraid it won't make much sense to you even if we did," Giles said, his eyes focused on some far off place in the room. "Getting into slayer history and lore with you won't help; the only thing that matters is that you were cloned from Faith - our friend and one of the slayers that Willow spoke of - and that the essence of the slayer was replicated in the cloning process. For all intents and purposes, you are a slayer, just as she is."

"That the reason why they're always talking about how strong Sierra and I are compared to the others?"

"There are others?" Giles asked worriedly.

"Yeah, but Sierra and I don't feel them. If you think we're cloned from slayers, none of the other actives are. We'd feel them if that was the case."

"Well that's a relief," Giles said after exhaling a long breath. "I don't know what purpose Travers had in cloning Faith and Satsu, but I'm sure that it wasn't with the best of intentions. A man like him shouldn't have access to that much power."

"Speaking of Travers," Willow interrupted, "I thought that he went kablooey when Caleb and the First destroyed Council Headquarters?"

"He did," Echo chimed in. "We heard his conversation with Dr. DeWitt earlier. His deal with her was pretty simple: he gave her slayer DNA in exchange for storage in their cryobanks and for some cash. He said they did a full memory and personality read on him. Guess that when he died, they made a fresh new copy of him."

Giles and Willow looked at one another, both of them wary.

"That sounds like something out of one of Andrew's television shows," Willow said.

"I wasn't even aware that technology like that existed," Giles said, still unable to believe this was all happening.

"That's because, technically, it doesn't," came a low voice from the sofa. Everyone turned to see Travers sitting forward, gingerly rubbing the spot where Echo had hit him. He held his hands up in surrender when Echo started towards him and she paused, giving him a moment to explain. "The United States - for all its technological advances, is sorely conservative when it comes to the issue of cloning. I assume this is why Adelle DeWitt resigned from her position at one of the leading scientific research institutes in the western hemisphere and all but disappeared into anonymity. She'd stumbled upon something and knew that under law, she couldn't study it any further."

"And how did you discover her facility?" Giles asked, his voice terse and wary. If he'd learned one thing over his years with the Council, it was that he didn't like Quentin Travers and didn't think he could be trusted. The feeling still remained.

"Council connections," Travers said vaguely. "The science branch received word of Dr. DeWitt and her research shortly before she left the research institute. It was simply a matter of finding her once she left, and what better place to hide than in one of the biggest cities in the world?"

"I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that the Council was delving into such shady activities," Giles said, a look of distaste upon his face. "After all, you were the one in charge."

Travers chuckled to himself, amused by Giles' words.

"Oh Rupert, you've always been worth a laugh or two," he said, then became more serious. "When I sought out Adelle DeWitt, it was on my own behalf, not that of the Council. I'm not ignorant, Rupert. I know what people think about me and I've received my fair share of threats. I knew that I wasn't going to die of old age, happily retired in a villa in Tuscany. My deal with her was an insurance policy."

"We all have to die at some point, Quentin."

"Well I wasn't ready. I did my time with the Council; I wanted the promise of another start if anything happened to me during my time with them."

"You knew what the risks were, being involved with such an organization. No one forced you to serve, and certainly no one forced you into a leadership position," Giles said angrily.

"Be as angry as you like, Rupert. None of this changes what happened or the fact that I sit here before you now."

Willow stepped in then, not wanting the argument to escalate any further.

"Be that as it may, it doesn't explain why Echo and Sierra are standing here with us now," she said quietly.

Travers took a deep breath and exhaled, smiling gently when he looked upon the figures of Echo and Sierra.

"No, I suppose it doesn't. As much as I sought out DeWitt on my own behalf, I had to tempt her to agree to my plan. A woman like her isn't interested in money; she's interested in power. I only had one thing to offer her, and that was the DNA of a slayer."

"You daft fool!" Giles yelled and stood up, slamming his hands down on his desk. "Didn't you take a single moment to imagine what it would be like if the secret of the slayer got out? If someone harnessed that power for evil? Generations of good wasted for nothing!"

"You think I actually believed that the essence of the slayer would be passed on? That's not how it works, Rupert, and you know that as damn well as I do! The power is passed on to a potential slayer, not some random cellular form. If I'd believed that the essence of the slayer could be replicated into another being, I never would have even approached Adelle DeWitt. I figured that they would be stuck with an impish Faith Lehane that they could deal with in their own way."

"And you had no moral quandary with that?" Giles asked, approaching slowly.

"Absolutely none!" Travers yelled. "She was a bad apple, Rupert, and she was paying for it, laying in a coma in some random hospital. If stealing a bit of her blood makes me as bad as her, I'll be damned just as she is."

He didn't see the fist fly out; hitting him square in the jaw and sending him back down on the couch in a daze.

"For the record, Faith Lehane has been completely rehabilitated of her own free will. She's saved lives and will continue to do so. As for you, well . . . you're still an utterly useless wanker."

Willow's mouth, which had been opened in shock, was now curling up into the silliest of grins. She quickly covered her mouth with her hand, hoping no one had seen. This was time for business, not for laughing at Giles' unexpected but appropriate name-calling.

Giles turned back and looked back at the others, an apologetic look upon his face.

"I apologize for that," he said, the smallest of grins on his face.

"No need," Willow said, biting back her own smile still. "Maybe now would be a good time to ask him about Satsu. I mean, Sierra."

Travers shook his head to regain his wits, ignoring the swimminess in his head.

"I've said this before and I'll say it again to you now: Satsu Miura was never meant to be cloned. When the Council learned of the possible capabilities of Dr. DeWitt's initiative, we began to collect samples from potential slayers that we came across. They didn't know we'd collected any samples, nor did anyone else who didn't need to know. We had them stored at our facility, but as you said, Rupert, we didn't want them stolen for nefarious purposes."

"You mean more nefarious than your own?" Giles asked bitterly.

"Yes," Travers answered plainly, glaring at Giles. "When I realized the danger in keeping said samples at Council Headquarters, I needed to find a safe haven for them. Adelle promised me complete security and confidentiality, not even questioning what the samples were."

"So she just helped herself to Satsu's DNA?" Willow asked, her brow furrowed. At Travers' nod, she continued. "Who else's DNA did you have?"

Travers shrugged nonchalantly, "Girls who had been treated at key medical locations. Rona St. George, Amanda Pierce, Kennedy Quinlan, and a handful of other potentials across the globe."

Willow's face had turned red when he mentioned Kennedy's name. Not only did it mean that her girlfriend might have a clone somewhere out there, but it also made her think about the possibility of a Kennedy-Willow-Kennedy sandwich. She was just glad that her blush was covered up by her anger.

"You can be as angry with me as you'd like, but that doesn't change the situation," Travers continued, watching Willow now. "The potentials were never meant to be cloned. In fact, once I was successfully recreated and released, my deposit in the cryobank was given back to me as well. I took the DNA samples from the potentials and I destroyed them. AFH was no longer a threat at that point."

"At that point?" Willow asked, confused.

"Yes, at that point. I don't know what's happened to the slayer line in my absence, but Satsu Miura must have been called. Sierra is just as strong and lethal as Echo, just a bit more untamed, untrained. And having witnessed that power, DeWitt is hungry for more. She's threatened to have my second lease on life annulled unless I can provide more DNA for her, including that of Buffy Summers."

Giles laughed then, a good and hearty laugh.

"Buffy was my charge for seven years and in that time I learned that she is quite possibly, without doubt, the most stubborn person I know. Do you honestly think she'll just hand over her DNA without a fight, especially knowing now what we do about the cloning process? The only way you'll get her DNA is over her dead body."

A very solemn look came over Travers' face then. He waited for Giles to stop laughing before saying,

"And Adelle will stop at nothing less than killing her to get it."

Giles' jaw clenched as he realized the sudden reality of the situation.

"Why are you here?" he asked through clenched teeth.

"Because I know what she's capable of, of what she wants to do, and I can't be a part of that. Rupert . . . we have to stop her, before it gets even more out of hand." His tone was honest as he pleaded with Giles' more compassionate side.

Giles, however, was still wary.

"How did you even find us here?"

"Council property. There's only so much left standing. I simply chose the place I thought you might be. I got lucky."

"And them?" Giles asked, indicating Echo and Sierra.

"My protection. I told DeWitt I would need personal security to ensure no old enemies could exact justice on me. She believes that they're here to back me up. Of course, I never expected the course of events that happened." He rubbed his sore shoulder, eying Echo warily.

"Sorry gramps, figured ya for a bad guy. Guess I wasn't too far off though, right?" When Travers didn't answer, Echo continued, looking at Giles. "Listen, we're gonna be expected back. We don't get there soon, they're gonna call us in and we won't be able to resist. You need to do what they did."

"And what's that?" Giles asked, intrigued.

"You need to send in two of your best."

Giles sighed, resting back in the big leather chair again. "That might be a problem. My two best are in a mystical dimension for approximately the next twenty-two hours, and I think I'd be safe to assume that it's not all, as one might say, hugs and puppies between them. Besides, I hardly think that sending Buffy is a good idea, especially knowing how much Adelle wants her."

"Well we don't have twenty-two hours so you better think quick," Echo said matter-of-factly.

Several moments of silence passed before Willow perked up with an 'a-ha!'

"I think I have an idea," she said with a coy smile.

Faith lay completely naked next to Buffy, watching as the girl dozed quietly. What they'd done together . . . she'd never experienced anything like it before. To be perfectly honest, she didn't think she was the kind of girl that stuff like that happened to. But when Buffy came along and offered her everything she always wanted but never thought she'd get on a silver platter, well . . . her newly found resolve didn't last too long.

Buffy wasn't sleeping so much as resting with her eyes closed, a content smile on her lips despite the small bit of space Faith had put between them. It wasn't that she didn't want to do the post-sex cuddle; in fact, she was kind of still waiting for it. In fact, she was waiting for several cuddles to go with the several orgasms they'd had together. But Faith had started to look a little bit spooked after all was said and done so she'd allowed her some space, making sure to flaunt her nakedness so that she wouldn't stray too far away.

Of course, it worked like a charm.

Faith was lying on her side less then a foot away from her letting her eyes roam up and down her perfect naked form. She was propped up on her elbow, her head resting on her hand. Every now and then the faintest of smiles would twitch at the corner of her lips when she thought that Buffy wasn't looking, obviously not too unhappy with the way things had played out.

And it had played out in all kinds of new and sexy ways. The urgency with which they first began kissing carried through to their first encounter, both girls making it hard and fast as though they were afraid they'd be interrupted at any moment. Lips and teeth and tongues crashed together as fingernails scratched just hard enough down smooth skin. It wasn't about love or patience, but rather a greedy reward for the patience of waiting more than four years for the moment to finally arrive.

It ended with as much intensity as it had begun but quickly began to fade as Faith's brow had furrowed in realization of what they'd just done. She moved to get up from the bed but was stopped by a gentle tugging on her arm coaxing her back with promises of more things and feelings to explore.

Their second encounter was much less urgent and more about exploring, getting to know the dips and curves of one another's bodies and just what made one another shutter and sigh in pleasure. Buffy started things that time but Faith had slowly took the reins, feeling more confident as Buffy let her do so.

The third time was about laughter, both girls dissolving into fits of giggles when their bodies made weird noises together or when Buffy accidentally elbowed Faith in the kneecap. They'd laughed until they found themselves a tangle of limbs, wanting, writhing, yearning for more.

And that's when Buffy started losing track of what happened next, sure only of the fact that there had been more sex and that Faith had quickly given her a new definition of the word sexy.

She'd also given her a new definition or the word bendy. She didn't know how the girl had twisted around like that the one time but she knew it was something she'd have to learn, stat!

Unconsciously, Buffy let out a long 'mmmm' sound, stretching her weary muscles.

"That a good mmmm?" Faith asked, the ghost of a smile playing at the corners of her lips again.

"And how," Buffy said, a huge grin on her face. She finally opened her eyes, looking over at the brunette. "I feel good."

"Good to hear."

Buffy waited for a few minutes before asking, "How about you?"

"Five by five," Faith replied vaguely.

Five by five? That was all she could come up with? Really? She couldn't even have stepped it up a notch and said six by six or eleventy-seven by eleventy-seven?

"Really? Five by five?" Buffy asked, trying to read Faith's face.

Faith just grinned a little and nodded. "That about sums it up."

"Hmm." Buffy rolled fully onto her back, slipping under the dark blue sheets that they'd pushed to the side. She pulled them up to her chest, leaving only her shoulders and head exposed.

Faith instantly noticed the small change and frowned. Half-hidden Buffy body bad. Fully naked Buffy body good. There needed to be less blankets, and soon.

"Gotta admit it's a little bit weird though, right?" she asked, hoping that Buffy would know what she was talking about and leap back out of the covers.

"What is?" Buffy asked, her tone dubious.

"The fact that I just spent like two hours gettin' to know your naughty bits on like a first name basis after we've pretty much spent four years driving each other insane," Faith said easily and laughed just a little.

"Well to be fair, you were already a little bit insane and I've never been the brightest crayon in the box," Buffy said with a shrug, staring off into the distance as she recalled their tumultuous past.

"Sure are a pretty color though," Faith said, offering a wink when Buffy looked over to her with an eyebrow raised.

Buffy just chuckled in response, leaning up on her elbows and letting her long blonde hair cascade down her back. Faith watched, entranced by the simple movement. Buffy noticed, of course, smirking at the knowledge that she had the power to render Faith stupid with such a simple gesture.

Slowly, she began to tug the sheet down, letting it slide painfully slow down her chest. Faith's eyes remained glued to her, watching the sheet trail over her chest.

After a few moments Faith shook her head, willing herself to get out of the stupor she was in but struggling with it.

"There's probably a lotta shit we're gonna have to deal with, huh," she said, her eyes following the sheet.

"Uh-huh," Buffy said, knowing fully well the effect she was having on Faith.

"And we're probably gonna go 'round in circles a bit cos you're all kindsa stubborn and gotta be right all the time, huh."

"Probably," whispered softly through slightly parted lips.

"And you're not gonna let me . . ." her voice trailed off as the sheet finally cleared Buffy's breasts, her nipples visibly hardening as the cool air licked at them, ". . . umm, you're not . . . I'm . . . what the hell was I sayin?"

"I think you were telling me you wanted me."

"Yeah, totally want you. And . . . hey!" Her eyes flicked up to Buffy's suddenly. "Don't think you can get me to be sayin' all kindsa funky shit just cos you have a nice rack!"

Buffy smiled an impish smile then, playfully flicking the sheet off and letting it billow down to the mattress.

"So don't say anything then, Fai."

"Maybe I should just put my mouth to better use then, huh," she said with a grin.

"Maybe you should," Buffy agreed, staring into Faith's eyes as the girl began to slowly close the distance between them. A swell of excitement suddenly washed over her, quickly feeling like the prey and Faith the predator as the girl switched the game around quickly. Hadn't she been in charge just a moment ago?

She suddenly found herself covered in a new blanket - a very Faith-like blanket that rested against her skin, every fiber of her being in ecstasy at the feel of her skin against her own. She'd never tire of this, the feel of Faith and only Faith against her; she just hoped that Faith wouldn't spook again and take it all away from her.

Now that she'd had a taste, she didn't think she'd ever be able to give it up. She didn't know quite what that meant yet and she didn't want to think about it. Not when Faith's lips were blazing a wet trail across her chest and down her stomach. Not when she felt lips nipping and kissing at her inner thighs. Not when she felt two soft hands holding her thighs apart and warm breath being blown over her suddenly warm bits. Not when she saw dark brown eyes staring deeply into her own as a soft tongue pressed against her wet center.

And certainly not when Faith disappeared into thin air, the atmosphere sparking with energy as she found two new sets of eyes gazing down at her from across the room.

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