Previously on Walk The Line:
The apex of the hill neared and Faith closed her eyes, waiting for the moment of weightlessness. The moment where the weight of the world on her shoulders disappeared again and she was just another girl in the world, even if only for two seconds.
She held her breath and smiled, her stomach dropping as they plunged down the deep hill.
Two seconds, just another girl.
It was a good feeling.
The sound of a table saw in the next room drifted through the closed door of Faith's office, not even catching her attention as she sat back with the phone to her ear, listening to it ring again and again. After listening to the saw for weeks now, it barely fazed her anymore.
Besides, all of the major work was done now. All four bedrooms were re-drywalled and painted, the kitchen was fully functional, the front room was decked out with the new furniture and entertainment center, even though it was still covered in plastic.
There was no reason for sawdust to mess everything up, especially when Faith just made Andrew clean it up when he got anxious to see everything set up.
Xander was just putting the finishing touches on the new bathroom they had decided on downstairs off the front room. They were all sick of Andrew suddenly needing to pee any time one of them needed to shower or use the toilet.
The place looked great, much better than expected given its previous state, and was more than spacious to hold Faith, Xander and Andrew, and even Anya whenever she happened to be around. Still, Xander felt he needed his own place, so he returned to his newly leased apartment every night, leaving Faith to fend for herself against Andrew.
No one knew exactly where Anya was at night. Maybe mystical ghosts slept on clouds?
After a few moments of steady ringing, a voice finally spoke on the other end of the line. A much less British voice than expected and a whole lot more female.
Nope, definitely not who she was expecting.
"Oh, hey Faith. What's up?"
Casual. Conversational. Like Faith hadn't been an asshole and thrown her out the last time they saw one another.
"Umm . . . nothin. Did . . . did I call the wrong number? Andy did some kinda programming dealy on my phone and I think the phonebook is all fu . . ."
"You let Andrew touch your phone?" Buffy interrupted, disbelief in her voice.
"Yeah, did a good job too. I think, anyways. I have no idea how this hi-tech shit works. All I know is, I get in trouble, I hit ‘007' and he tracks me, sends Anya, and she beams me up to Skippy or whatever."
"I think you mean Scotty," Buffy corrected, stifling her laughter.
"And I think you spent too much time with the nerd back in Sunnydale," Faith replied, smiling now.
"To answer your question, you've got the number right," Buffy said, quickly changing the subject. "I'm at Giles'. He's been swamped with the whole research thing, so Dawn and I have been helping him. Well, Dawn's been complaining about old book smell, and I've been helping."
Faith chuckled. Typical Dawn.
"So what, being The Retired One wasn't working? Now you wanna be The Special Helper One?"
"Special Helper One. It has a nice ring to it, but I think I'm just gonna stick with ‘Buffy' for now."
"Fair enough," Faith replied, then things got quiet for a moment. "Hey, listen, you know that I can be an ass, right?"
"…you're baiting me, aren't you?"
Faith laughed. "Nah, I just wanna apologize. I wasn't in a good place, and . . ."
"Hey, no explanations, okay? I've been there, done that, understand how it works. Just . . . don't kick me out so soon next time. Dawn is still mad that I never took her to see the Blue Man Group. I'm paying her back by letting her practice driving my car. It's . . . painful. She's worse than I am, and that's saying a lot."
"I don't even know if that's possible," Faith quipped. "But, yeah . . . totally wont' kick you out next time. That is, if there is a next time."
She couldn't hide the hopeful tone in her voice. Yeah, she'd asked Buffy to leave. She knew she was wrong now; Buffy didn't need protecting. She was just as if not more capable than Faith Besides, something inside of Faith was screaming at her to see Buffy again, to be close to her.
Like the way it always should have been. Plus, it seemed like maybe Buffy was of the same mind on the subject these days.
"Probably sooner than you expect. Giles has some documents and books he wants you to have, and so does Angel. He says hey, by the way."
"Oh. Hey." Faith said, confused.
So Buffy had asked Angel for help? Maybe she was a bit more involved in the research game than she'd initially let on.
"Anyhow, Giles doesn't trust a courier service with the goods, so you're looking at the hand-picked slayer-sized courier. I'm supposed to leave tomorrow evening after the work-day commute. And speaking of Giles, he's clearing his throat and giving me a disapproving glare, so I guess he needs to speak with you."
"You could always ruffle his feathers a bit, pretend like you don't see him. Hey B, how ‘bout those Red Sox?"
Buffy laughed awkwardly and Faith could almost imagine the look on Giles' face as Buffy continued to keep the phone hostage.
"Actually, my socks are white today. In fact, I don't own any red socks."
Faith managed to relax her raised eyebrows when she heard Giles mutter, "Good lord, woman, even I know who the Red Sox are" after Buffy finally handed over the phone.
"Give her hell for me, Giles," Faith encouraged as she leaned back in her leather office chair, thoroughly amused.
"I'm sure she'll receive adequate ‘hell' on the trip to deliver the documents I've found. I believe Dawn is dancing around in the room behind me now, singing an ‘I'm driving to Las Vegas' song."
"You should record that, Giles, play it at the kid's wedding some day. Sure the in-laws would love to see that."
"I'm not sure anyone should see this," Giles said, his voice tired from his round-the-clock research. "In any case, Buffy will leave here tomorrow evening once we receive the books Angel is sending. Still, I'm not sure how much help anything we send will be, I'm afraid. The books we've studied don't seem to mention the Final or the Last Evil because the world – humanity – still exists. If he succeeds in his plans, well . . . I'm sure the intercelestial book stores will be overflowing with tributes and biographies. Until then, we're best to start looking for more sources in the demon world who might know information. Surely The Last couldn't have arrived without some notice."
"Small problem with that," Faith interrupted. Guiltily, she continued, "I kinda killed them. And the ones that I didn't kill, well . . . I don't think they're gonna be all gung-ho about helping me out."
"Ahh, yes. There's always that." Giles sighed and Faith could practically hear him massaging the bridge of his nose. "Is there no one that you can turn to? No sources, no friends? Perhaps Jil-hanesh . . ."
"That's a dead end," Faith interrupted again. "Went back to see him, but he's gone. Left Vegas for safer grounds, I guess. Guess a lot of the neutral demons are doing the same."
"Right. We'll find something, I'm sure. It's just the matter of looking in the right places."
"I really appreciate it, G. I know you don't gotta be helping me, so it's cool that you're stickin' around. Most people don't hang around me too long, yunno?"
Faith couldn't completely hide the hurt that had always caused; the way that people had always hung around her only until things went wrong. No one had ever stood at her side, or helped her fight. This was new for her, and while she had a hard time accepting it at first, she'd really come to appreciate it over time.
"I've failed you before, Faith, and I won't let that happen again. I look at it as a personal indiscretion on my part . . ."
"Whoa whoa whoa," Faith interrupted, sitting forward in her chair quickly. "How bout you never mention the words ‘personal' and ‘part' again in the same sentence and we call it even?"
She heard Giles chuckle on the other end, and she couldn't quite remember ever hearing him laugh before. Maybe their partnership was good for the both of them.
"Call me if you need anything," Giles said, back to business.
"Will do. Thanks Giles."
Faith pulled the phone from her ear and pressed the power button, ending the call. She couldn't help the smile that appeared on her face before she stood up and grabbed her jacket from a small coat rack near the door. She opened the door and began to put on her jacket, lifting her hair out of the back.
"Andy?" she called out. "We're goin' shopping."
"For what?" Andrew asked as he stepped out of the kitchen, a yellow apron tied around his waist.
Faith smiled all big as she grabbed Andrew's jacket from the rack and tossed it over to him.
"We're having houseguests."
Andrew walked back into the office a few hours later carrying two bags full of groceries in his arms. Unable to see over the tops of the bags, he used his foot to find the leg of the table and promptly rested the bags down on it. Standing up straight, he looked across the room to Xander who was feverishly making marks on a piece of baseboard trim that he needed to cut.
Putting his hands on his hips and arching his back forward, Andrew stretched his back and grimaced slightly at the unexpected loud cracking sound.
Xander looked up, a pencil held between his teeth, and eyed Andrew cautiously.
"The bags were really heavy," Andrew explained shyly.
He quickly picked up the two bags and carried them into the kitchen, disappearing from sight just as Faith walked in the front door with about seventeen various bags and sacks hanging from her arms. Her vision was completely impeded, but she breezed through the room easily, setting a few bags down on the same table.
"Ahh, I see you let Andrew do the heavy lifting then," Xander said as he walked over to Faith and helped her unload the rest of the packages.
"Kid's a total lightweight," Faith said as she started searching through the bags, separating them intentionally. "We're gonna need to look into turning one of the guest rooms into a workout room. Get some weights in there, punching bag or something. Seriously, he was whining the entire time about not being able to carry stuff."
"One room at a time, please?" Xander pleaded as he indicated his busy working place. "You threw me for a spin when you told me everything needs to be done by tomorrow when the Buffster and Dawn get here, but I'm getting it done. I nearly poked out my good eye with the pencil because I've been rushing everything."
"That's why you're my number one guy, Xan," Faith quipped, giving him a slap on the back. "Listen, I'm not worried about getting everything perfect. I just want all this shit outta here before they come, and I don't want them sleeping in a construction zone, yunno?"
"I know, I know," Xander said and exhaled loudly. "How do you even know they're staying? They might show up, deliver the books, and leave."
Faith reached into her pocket and pulled out an envelope, thrusting it against Xander's chest. He reached inside and pulled out five tickets, reading them over carefully.
"You got tickets for Blue Man Group?" He couldn't keep the excitement from his voice.
"Yup, and they're for the Saturday show. B and Dawnie don't get here ‘til Friday; kinda figure they're gonna have to stay a night or two."
Faith tried to sound casual. She didn't want to make a big deal out of the fact that she was excited that Buffy was coming for a visit. Sure, the thousand-plus bucks she spent on bedding and food and entertainment for the visit might have indicated her excitement, but she still wanted to play cool about it.
After all, she wasn't used to keeping her emotions out there for people to read and possibly take advantage of.
"Well, judging by the bags from Linens-N-Things, I'd say that you've got everything they need for the guest rooms. Need a hand putting them together?"
Faith smiled and happily accepted his offer. They grabbed the plastic bags and made their way up the stairs, leaving random grocery-filled bags littering the table while Andrew puttered around in the kitchen.
Just as the dust started to settle in the room, a thick black smoke drifted in through the opened front door. It crept around the floor boards and stopped by the plastic grocery bags on the floor. A moment later, the smoke began to take shape, finally solidifying into The Last, as dapperly dressed as ever.
He looked around the room, standing completely still so that he could hear the banter upstairs between Faith and Xander. Taking notice of the plethora of groceries yet to be put away, an evil smile crossed his face.
"Oh goodie, I guess we're having company then."
A sudden noise from the kitchen caught his attention. In the blink of an eye, he was back in his smoke form and making a hasty escape out the front door.
"Faith? Your voice is kind of low. You should take some Echinacea, I think you're catching a . . ." Andrew said as walked out the kitchen door, stopping when he realized that he was alone in the room, ". . . cold."
Looking up toward the ceiling, he heard the sounds of Xander and Faith laughing as they tried to make a bed together. Warily looking back at the room around him, he frowned as he noticed the opened door. Stepping cautiously over the bags, he gazed suspiciously out the front door, then closed it tight and locked the deadbolt.
Looking back into the room, he shrugged and picked up a few more bags and carried them into the kitchen.
Outside, The Last laughed and continued his silent observations.
"When do you think they're gonna get here?" Faith asked as she peered nervously out the front window and into the darkening street, looking for any signs of Buffy's car.
"Relax, Faith," Xander said from his place on the sofa, barely paying her any attention as he fumbled around with the television remote in his hands. "Giles said they left a while ago, but that Dawn was driving. I'm sure that she's pulled them over to a mall or two by now."
The room was free of any construction materials for the first time since they'd begun renovating. They'd finished up the last of the major work the night before and mainly spent the earlier part of that morning and afternoon finishing up the final touches. From the looks of things, it seemed as though they had been living there comfortably for years and that there wasn't a plethora of tools and building materials stashed hastily in the unfinished basement where no one but the lizards would look upon them.
"Actually, Buffy is having a panic attack and Dawn is laughing at her," Anya offered as she shimmered into the room, right onto the sofa next to Xander. She looked at her position proudly and rested her arms up on the back of the sofa. "I'm getting very good at this."
"And I'm glad that you are. All we need is for you to have another tantrum in the basement," Xander said with a grin, looking over at Anya with just as much pride. Then something dawned on him. "Wait, how do you know what Buffy is doing?"
Anya shrugged and looked down at her hand, inspecting her immaculate finger nails.
"Watching Faith pine away at the window was getting boring, so I popped on over and checked in on Buffy and Dawn to see how close they are."
Faith turned and narrowed her eyes at Anya, who didn't even notice her glowering.
She didn't do pining.
"Ahn," Xander began, chuckling nervously, "you can't just pop in on people all willy nilly. Dawn is a new driver, you probably scared her half to death . . ."
"Dawn wasn't driving, Buffy was. Apparently she'd had enough of Dawn's recklessness. I guess that made it quite amusing for Dawn when Buffy hit the guard rail after I showed up." Noticing Xander's worried look, she continued. "Oh, they're fine; the only thing hurt is Buffy's ego. They'll be here shortly."
"Oh." Xander said, his brow slightly furrowed. "Well, still. They're not used to your shimmering. It can be . . . unsettling," he finished self-consciously.
He was still trying to get used to Anya popping up randomly in his apartment, especially during his naked time.
"Yeah, and annoying," Faith added. "I'm tellin ya, you do your ghostly shimmer-in thing one more time while I'm showering and I'm asking the Powers That Be to send you to Pervaholics Anonymous."
Xander looked from Faith to Anya then, his mouth open in shock. He could act like he was upset, but he'd be lying if the thought didn't turn him on just a little bit. The way he fought the smirk trying to appear on his face gave him away.
"You shimmer in on Faith too?"
"Oh, stop looking at me like you wouldn't do the same thing if you had the opportunity," Anya said with a scowl and crossed her arms over her chest.
"You don't shimmer in on me," Andrew added quietly, his bottom lip coming out in the slightest of pouts.
"There's a difference. Faith is beautiful. I can appreciate the sexual appeal," Anya defended.
"I'm beautiful," Andrew said. Noticing the blank looks from everyone else in the room, he added, "Christina Aguilera thinks so, anyways."
Feeling more than a bit awkward now, Andrew stood up and made his way into the kitchen, closing the door behind himself so that they wouldn't see him eating his secretly stashed pint of double mocha almond crunch ice cream. It always made him feel better.
Meanwhile, Faith continued her vigil at the window while Xander watched TV and Anya bugged him to put on the shopping channel.
About twenty minutes passed before Faith announced the arrival of Buffy's car coming down the street. Andrew re-appeared from the kitchen looking sated and ready for the visitors. He just hoped that no one would notice the small chocolate stain on his Star Wars t-shirt.
Faith debated on whether she should greet them outside and help carry their bags, but before she could make up her mind, she saw Buffy coming up the walkway with a few bags in her arms. Dawn was trailing a few steps behind, still snickering over their ordeal.
Making her way over to the door, Faith opened it just in time to come face to face with their visitors.
"I believe I need to have a word with your ghost," Buffy said through clenched teeth, ignoring her now laughing sister.
Faith laughed and took one of Buffy's bags from her arms, lightening up her load. Judging from the amount of bags they had with them, they were already planning on staying a while. Maybe she hadn't needed to shell up all of that money for the Blue Man Group tickets after all.
"Yeah, heard about the little fender bender. But listen, we told her not to drop in on ya anymore, B, so there's no need to go all Ghostbusters on her ass."
Stepping back from the door, Faith let Buffy and Dawn walk into the house. All eyes fell upon Anya, who was still sitting casually on the sofa.
"What?" she asked, annoyed. "She was driving. It's not like I saw her showering."
Buffy raised an eyebrow in question and looked over at Xander for some kind of a translation or explanation. All Xander could manage was a shrug.
"It's so hard to housebreak them," he vaguely explained before crossing the space between them and giving Buffy a tight hug. "It's good to have you back here, Buff. Looks like you're staying for a while, which is good seeing that Faith has all sorts of fun stuff planned."
Faith immediately stiffened up. She didn't want Buffy to think that she was trying to get them to stay; there was no way that she wanted to look like some kind of pining moron. As far as Buffy knew, Faith wasn't into her in that way, and Faith wanted to keep it that way.
"If by ‘fun stuff' you mean that I got us tickets to Blue Man Group, then yeah. But it's not like we're gonna be having potato sack races and shit," Faith corrected.
Dawn clapped excitedly and jumped up and down a few times.
"You hear that, Buffy? Blue Man Group. Now all you have to do is manage to keep your foot out of your mouth for a few days and we'll get to see them this time around."
Buffy managed a quick glare at her sister before she remembered the reason for their visit. Setting the remainder of their bags down on the ground, she reached into a safely stowed leather sack and pulled out a stack of papers and books, handing them over to Faith.
"These are for you. The big brown and green books are from Angel. The extra musty black book is from Giles, and he said to take extra care of it because ‘it was bloody hard to get his hands on'," she explained, doing an impression of Giles for the last part. "I personally don't mind if you keep it indefinitely. It's just one less smelly old book that I have to deal with on a day-to-day basis."
Wiping her hands on her jeans as Faith thumbed through the documents, Buffy looked around the living space and front room.
"Wow, looks like a whole new place," she commented, then looked over to Xander. "Plumbing up and running?"
"Yep, and the guest rooms are up and running too. You and Dawnie can stay here with Faith and Andrew, and I'll do the daily commute to my apartment. It's not that far, actually."
Buffy's bottom lip instantly stuck out in her patented pout.
"But Xander, we're not here for very long. Dawn and I can share a room, and you can stay here . . ."
"Hey," Dawn interrupted, "you snore and talk in your sleep. No way am I sharing with you. You can bunk with Faith or Andrew."
Andrew smiled excitedly. He knew his bunk bed would come in handy!
Quickly looking from Andrew to Faith with pleading eyes, Buffy suddenly started to feel shy. She'd shared a bed with Willow before. She'd been to multiple sleepovers. So why was the thought of sharing a bed with Faith making her start to blush?
Picking up on the sudden awkwardness, Xander spoke up again.
"Hey, you know what? I can be sofa guy, and you all can have your own rooms. It's fine by me, I've slept in worse places. I just need to take a trip to my place and get some fresh clothes for tomorrow. Buffy, Dawn? Wanna come for a ride, check out the new digs?"
Dawn immediately jumped at the chance to be out and about, but Buffy had other ideas in mind.
"Actually, if tomorrow is gonna be fun day, today should be work day. I should probably stay here with Faith and do the research thing, go over the notes Giles made for her. Do you guys mind if I save the apartment tour for tomorrow?"
Dawn shrugged, unconcerned. She was just happy to be free of the research den known as Giles' apartment for a few days. Xander, however, perked right up.
"I'm having an idea here. Dawn and I will pick up some pizza or some other delicious brain food on the way back. We'll have a bite, have a drink, and then we can get our study on, just like in the good ol' days. Everyone up for that?"
"Works for me if that's what you guys wanna do," Faith said. She hadn't expected them to help her out on the research part, so she was more than willing to accept any help offered. She could only take so many of Andrew's conspiracy theories and wild guesses.
"Great," Xander said excitedly. "You guys get everything set up and we'll be back in an hour."
Without much more ado, Xander and Dawn left and headed to his apartment, leaving Faith, Buffy, and Andrew to set the table and get their bags settled into their rooms. Anya decided to take off for a while, hoping that she wouldn't have to help in the research.
Smelly books offended her delicate ghostly sense of smell.
Andrew took on the task of setting up the table and making what he called was "a hot-sauce that would bring even Luke Skywalker to his knees." Faith didn't know what the hell he meant, but she knew that it would tie him up in the kitchen, which would give her some alone time with Buffy.
Alone time with Buffy, while a bit intimidating, was what Faith was looking for. She knew that it wasn't likely to happen much over the weekend seeing as that there would be so many people in the house, so she was willing to greedily take what she could get.
Besides, she had something special that she wanted to give to Buffy, and giving it to her in front of the others would undoubtedly ruin her rep.
They grabbed Buffy and Dawn's bags and went upstairs, pausing out in the hallway. Faith's room was on one side of the hall and Andrew's was on the other, with the two guest rooms being across from one another as well. Buffy saw the two opened doors to the guest rooms and randomly picked one, figuring that one was just as good as the other.
As she walked in and began to place her bags on the bed, Faith hurried over and stopped her.
"Actually, this one is kinda for Dawnie. There's something in the other room I wanna show ya anyhow."
"But that room is next to Andrew's and I really don't think I want to hear what kind of noises come from his room at night," Buffy said with a grimace.
Right, so she hadn't chosen randomly then. Buffy Summers, Keen Observer since 1981.
"So I'll gag him. C'mon, B. It's worth it, I promise."
Not giving Buffy a chance to fight her on it, Faith grabbed Buffy's sleeve and practically yanked her out of the room and across the hall. They entered the other guest room and Buffy looked around with a small smile, appreciating the décor. It was exactly to her tastes; warm and earthy colors with just enough décor to keep it looking mildly lived in.
She walked over to the chair in the corner and placed her bags on it, then went over to the bed and had a seat on the end, bouncing a bit to test the firmness.
"Ya like it?" Faith asked, anxiously waiting for some kind of reaction.
"It's nice," Buffy commented. "Big bed, nice big dresser with an equally big mirror, alarm-clock radio, picture of . . ."
She gasped softly, her words suddenly cut short. Her eyes widened as she stared at a small photo frame on the bedside table, tears immediately beginning to well up in her eyes.
The frame held a somewhat worn photo of Buffy, Dawn, and Joyce from a few years back.
Buffy didn't dare blink, afraid that the mirage would disappear forever. However, the need to blink finally won out and she did, letting a few stray tears slip down her cheeks.
"How . . .?" she began, her voice a whisper.
"Anya," Faith answered just as quietly, staring at Buffy's face. "She can teleport anywhere she wants, and . . . well, she didn't wanna go to Sunnydale, but I kinda won that battle. I . . . I hope you don't mind . . ."
And suddenly she was unsure. The last thing she'd wanted to do was make Buffy mad; she'd only wanted to give her something that she knew would mean something. Joyce was a good person, and Faith felt it was a shame that all traces of her had vanished underneath the rubble of the town.
"I can't believe you did this," Buffy whispered, her gaze still fixed upon the photo that now rested in her hands.
"I'm sorry, B," Faith said, looking down at her feet. Great. Buffy was upset. "I thought you'd like it, and I didn't think youmpfhh . . ."
Faith's words were cut off when she felt a pair of strong arms wrap around her in a tight hug. She hadn't even seen Buffy stand up, but now she felt her arms around her in a tight embrace and for a moment, she thought she was daydreaming. Finally lifting her heavy arms, she wrapped them around Buffy as well, letting her hand run over the back of her long blonde hair.
"Thank you," Buffy whispered, crying softly.
Faith smiled to herself, basking in the moment.
As promised, Xander and Dawn returned about an hour later with pizza and subs galore. He complained for a while that having visitors was going to seriously ruin his new healthy eating regime, but he was more than happy to gorge in the name of company.
Buffy took Dawn up to her room and showed her the picture that Anya had salvaged. They'd cried and laughed and arranged to have numerous copies made. Dawn, too, was grateful for what Faith had asked Anya to do and hugged her tight, whispering that she always had thought Faith was cooler than Buffy, even when everyone else was mad at her.
For the better part of the evening, they poured over the documents and books looking for anything relevant. Giles had told Faith that he thought it might be futile, but she felt helpless sitting around and doing nothing at all. Maybe they'd get lucky and find a needle in a haystack.
Luck, however, didn't seem to be on their side. Besides a reference they found to a daughter of evil – which Dawn joked had to be Faith – they came up with absolutely nothing. They saw a few entries hinting at The First and his victory over the world, so they threw that book aside, knowing that it was obviously outdated information.
Soon each and every word on the printed pages began to look the same, and they took a break to rest their tired eyes. Xander and Dawn jumped over to the sofa and turned on the X-Box while Buffy and Faith sat back at the table with their legs kicked up, having yet another cold beer. Andrew remained seated on a chair searching through internet databases on his laptop, hoping that maybe some other cyber nerd out there had some hope to offer.
"This sucks," Faith grumbled and took another swig of her beer.
"There has to be something out there. Something we're missing. Nothing exists in this world without there being documentation of it," Buffy replied and picked up another paper from the table, arbitrarily looking it over.
"But The Last hasn't existed always. He was created by our own evil, and that crazy guru chump summoned him with some hijacked dark mojo. There's nothing written about him in any historical references. He's more of a current affair," Faith explained, slowly peeling the label from her beer bottle.
"I can't find anything on the internet, not even on the Vegas Metro site," Andrew grumbled as he typed slowly. "They're not making any information public because all of the related cases are still open. They think that they have some kind of lunatic killer on their hands, though. Any more unexplained deaths and the Feds will be here, mark my words."
Faith sighed loudly and lowered her feet from the chair, sitting forward.
"Great, and that's all I need. More people gettin' in the way of me doing my job. Oh yeah, not to mention the fact that I'm an escaped convict. I hope Red worked the good mojo when she zapped my record."
"You have nothing to worry about, Faith. Willow's like the Michael Jordan of magic," Xander offered from his place on the sofa, unable to look away from the TV screen. He was too busy losing pathetically to Dawn. "What about Camryn? Did she give you anything to go on?"
Faith's eyes nearly bugged out of her head when Xander began asking about Camryn, especially when Buffy's attention seemed to perk up at the mention of her name. How exactly was she going to explain that she was on a first name, phone number exchanging basis with a stripper with a knack for knowing the who and the where?
"Who's Camryn?" Buffy asked as casually as possible.
She wasn't jealous. Faith was a friend. She was just inquiring about her new friends. Or at least that was what she was hoping came across. She wasn't ready to deal with what it meant if she thought about it beyond that.
"She's just a girl we met that helped us find Jil'hanesh. And she hasn't heard anything, Xan. No news," Faith mumbled, running a hand through her hair. She did her best to keep her eyes focused on her beer bottle, not wanting to see Buffy's reaction.
When she finally looked up, she noticed that it was almost midnight already. Between the anxiety over having guests and the night spent researching, she was ready to call it a night.
"Listen, it's late, I'm tired, and we're gettin' nowhere, so I'm gonna head to bed. Feel free to stay up and raid the kitchen, whatever."
She stood up and stretched her arms up in the air, stretching her tired muscles. Mid-stretch she happened to look over and see Buffy trying her best not to check her out. Making sure to hold her stretch just a little longer than usual, Faith grinned to herself as she finally put her arms down and pushed her chair back in against the table.
Yeah, she wasn't sure what that meant – Buffy checking her out – but it took her back to her first time through Sunnydale when it was all stolen glances and awkward sexually-charged moments. Whatever it was, she took it as a good sign. There was no way Buffy would ever like her in the same way that she liked Buffy, but hey, at least she had some new fodder for her fantasy file.
Saying her goodnights to her friends, Faith was the first to head to bed, followed shortly thereafter by Buffy, then Xander and Dawn who just wanted to finish up their game. Andrew stayed up a bit longer, determined to find something useful on the internet, but instead decided to be useful by clearing the glasses and plates from the table and putting them in the kitchen.
He knew that while he might not be the best researcher in the world, he was pretty sure that his hot sauce was a smash success. At least he had that to be proud of.
Taking one last look around the front room, he turned off the last light and headed up to his room, leaving a snoring Xander alone on the sofa.
As the house finally went completely quiet, a small shimmer appeared in the front room. Anya materialized and stood over Xander, smiling fondly as she watched him sleep. Ever so cautiously as she'd done for the previous few weeks unnoticed, she lowered herself on the sofa and laid next to him, unable to feel his warmth, but happy to be at his side in even the most basic of ways.
Hours passed by and the house remained silent as everyone slept deeply. They had a lot to do the next day, but it wasn't all about research, though that would surely play a part. They'd actually get to go out and have some fun. It was something they were all looking forward to.
A small creak at the front door went unnoticed, as did the attempt to turn the locked handle. After a few moments, a thick black smoke began to drift in under the door, taking a few moments to solidify into The Last. He looked around the room and at the books on the table, sliding a paper aside to see the title of the book that lay underneath it.
He chuckled to himself, knowing that they didn't have a clue. His plan would come to fruition, he was sure of that. He'd destroy the world and steal its power.
And he was going to use them to help him.
Turning sharply as he heard a sleepy mumble from the sofa, he grinned evilly as he noticed Anya and Xander sleeping soundly. Rubbing his hand over the amulet in his chest, two trails of black smoke escaped from it and made their way over to the sleeping figures. The smoke entered Xander first as he drew in a deep breath, though he continued sleeping, seemingly unaffected. It entered Anya next much to the same effect.
The Last looked on in approval, then decided to move on. Turning to smoke once again so he could move around soundlessly, he drifted up the stairwell and down the hall. Small trails of black smoke escaped him as he traveled, making their way under all four of the bedroom doors. He paused at the end of the hall and solidified once again, smirking at his handy work.
"Get to work, my babies," he said quietly, his voice low and his deep southern drawl thick. "I'll see you all very, very soon."
He turned to smoke once again and escaped through the opened bathroom window, anxious to see how this would play out. It was different every time he infected someone, with the host taking on the aspect of a sin latent within them. He was sure that this time around would be quite amusing.
Faith awoke to the morning sun shining in her room and the smell of coffee perking in the kitchen below. She smiled to herself and stretched, running her hands over her breasts, down her stomach, and over her thighs. Without realizing she was doing it, she slipped her hand between her legs where she rubbed herself slowly over her panties. Moaning quietly, she stopped suddenly and opened her eyes, immediately aware of herself.
She had guests. There were lots of people in the house. Some of them awake, apparently. She could hear the shower shut off in the bathroom, and she was pretty sure that she heard YMCA playing on a radio in the kitchen below. It really wasn't the time for inappropriate yet satisfying touching.
Really, really satisfying touching.
Biting her bottom lip as she kept rubbing her fingers over her panties, Faith had to hold back a moan as she heard someone walk out of the bathroom and into the hall. Steeling herself, Faith quickly hopped up out of her bed, denying herself what she was obviously craving.
She didn't know what was going on with herself, but she knew she needed to get it under control.
Deciding that she needed to take a cold shower to kick the insatiable urge that she couldn't quite seem to shake, Faith quickly opened the door to see Buffy walking past her room clad only in a white cotton towel. Stepping back so that Buffy wouldn't see her, Faith waited until the hallway was clear before stepping out again.
"Oh yeah. Cold shower. Really, reallllly cold shower," she said to herself as she ran into the bathroom and locked the door behind her.
Downstairs, Xander awoke to the smell of fresh coffee, sizzling bacon, and . . . was that jalapeno cheese? Opening his eyes, he looked over to find that he was laying on the floor with a small blanket draped over him while Anya lounged on the sofa, TV remove in hand.
"How did I end up down here?" he asked as he sat up, pulling the blanket up over his chest.
"Must've fallen," Anya said blankly as she stared at the TV.
"You could've woken me," Xander said, barely paying attention. He was too busy trying to figure out what the good smells were.
"Yes, but that would have taken effort," Anya replied with a shrug.
"Breakfast is ready in five!" came a sing-song voice from the kitchen over the loud music.
"Ooh, breakfast," Xander said, instantly perking up. "I'm famished."
He stood up and walked over to the table, sitting down excitedly. Tucking a napkin in the front of his pajama shirt, he tried to peek around the kitchen door and see what kind of goodies were headed his way.
Dawn chose that moment to walk down the stairs, a pout firmly planted on her face.
"What's up, Dawnster?" Xander asked, barely paying her any attention.
"First Buffy took a shower and now Faith is in the shower. I wanted to take a shower," she whined.
"She'll be done soon, and then you can have your turn. Besides . . . Andrew's cooking up a storm. You don't want to miss breakfast. I smell jalapeno cheese with just a hint of spicy chorizo," he said excitedly, his nostrils sniffing wildly.
"I would've made breakfast," Dawn grumbled, crossing her arms over her chest as she slumped back in her chair. "I can cook just as good as Andrew. Why didn't he let me cook breakfast?"
"Because I'm the best cook in the entire known universe and quite possibly beyond!" Andrew said cheerily as he breezed through the kitchen door with a large tray of food in his arms.
Xander's mouth dropped open at the sight, and it wasn't just because of the food. The delicious food. The crisp bacon piled high, the jalapeno cheese and chorizo omelettes, the homemade hash browns, or the pitcher of undoubtedly fresh-squeezed orange juice.
No, Xander's mouth fell open when he saw Andrew's cooking outfit. He had on silky rainbow short-shorts with a bright yellow tank top tucked into them and a pair of matching lemon-yellow socks covering his feet.
Dawn's mouth fell open as well.
"Where did you get those shorts?" she asked. "I've always wanted a pair just like them, and they'd so look better on me!"
Andrew looked down at his shorts after he put the food down on the table and shrugged.
"They're just something I had lying around," he said evasively.
"Hey Andy, the 70's gay disco called. It wants its outfit back," Xander joked, but he was no longer paying any attention to Andrew. He was busy salivating over the delicious, delicious food. He felt like a bottomless pit, and he desperately needed filled up.
Greedily grabbing one of the plates, he dug into the huge omelet, ignoring the fact that it probably could have fed the lot of them. Screw the diet, he thought. The diet could continue once the delicious food was gone.
"Mmm…..dif if da beft omelet I'fe efer had!" Xander said with his mouth full, giving Andrew a thumbs up with his free hand.
"I know, right?" Andrew replied, a proud smile on his face.
"Hey!" Dawn scolded as she watched Xander greedily slurping up the omelet bite after bite. "I wanted some of that! Leave some for me, Xander, I want some too!"
Xander slid the plate further away from Dawn and protectively hunched over it, eating quicker so that he didn't have to share. His attention was caught for a moment as a new song started blaring in the kitchen, but he quickly ignored it and went back to his gorging.
"Oh, I love this song!" Andrew squeed and began to jump around and dance.
Anya managed to lift her head and look back at the commotion, one eyebrow raised as she watched Andrew prance around in his rainbow outfit.
"Hmm. There's a Pride Parade in the house. Weird." Her interest no longer piqued, she turned back to the TV and sighed, not bothered to do anything else.
(Suggested Music: Snakeface by Throwing Muses)
Faith stepped out of the shower and grabbed a towel, quickly wrapping herself in it as she continued shivering. The cold shower had done nothing to cool her libido. All she had to do was picture Buffy walking by in her towel and her lust was fired up again.
Quickly drying off, she peeked out in the hall to make sure the coast was clear and then ran over to her room wearing just her towel.
"I know ‘It's Raining Men' is playing somewhere downstairs, but from where I'm standing, well . . . kinda looks like it's raining women," came a sexy voice from behind Faith just as she made it to her bedroom door.
She spun around against her better judgment to find Buffy standing there, still dressed in only her white cotton towel with her fingertips playing with the soft material. Her eyes nearly bugged out of her head, and she suddenly felt the fire in her burning hotter and hotter. She knew she had to get out of there and fast if she was expected to control herself.
Unable to think of any way to respond other than jumping on Buffy and humping her leg, Faith quickly spun around and ran into her bedroom, closing the door behind her. She rested back against it and slammed her eyes shut, breathing hard through her nose with her jaw clenched tightly shut. She was trying to fight it, trying to fight the inexplicable lust building within her . . . and then it dawned on her.
The Last had infected her. It was the only possible explanation. She'd lusted after Buffy for years but had always been able to control it, or at least suppress it when she was around her. She needed to call someone. Willow, Giles . . . someone that could help her. Her mind was focused on one thing though, one person.
Buffy, Buffy, Buffy screamed through her mind, raced through her veins, and she knew she was losing the battle.
And then, clarity. A moment of peace. She knew what she had to do.
Faith turned around and opened the door, looking out into the now empty hallway. She walked across the hall and opened Buffy's door without knocking, letting herself in the room and closing the door behind her.
Buffy was standing just a few feet in front of her as if she knew that Faith would follow her.
They stared at one another for a moment, pupils dilated as they stared upon their object of desire. Buffy smiled coyly . . . and shrugged her towel to the floor, leaving her completely naked before Faith.
And that was all that Faith could take.
Her own towel dropped hastily to the floor, Faith closed the short distance between them and pulled Buffy into her arms, their lips crashing together in a heated kiss. She could feel Buffy's breasts pressing against her own, could feel the brush of her barely-there pubic hair soft against her thigh, and she knew that things were going to get a whole lot worse before they got any better.
She began to walk Buffy backwards toward the large unmade bed, fighting the urge to just pick her up and carry her the rest of the way.
"You know," Faith mumbled against her lips, then began to kiss down her jaw to her neck, "I think it's The Last. He infected us while we were sleeping."
They finally reached the edge of the bed and Buffy crawled back onto it, tempting Faith closer with a curl of her finger. Faith didn't hesitate; she leapt on the bed and on Buffy, instantly starting to suck and kiss at her neck again.
"I know," Buffy replied, stopping to moan as Faith nibbled at her sensitive neck. "I woke up early and I just . . .nngh, ohh . . . couldn't stop thinking about you. I was so worked up . . . oh yeah, just like that . . . that I had to make myself come two times before I realized a cold shower was in order."
Faith smiled against Buffy's skin at her confession and kissed along her jaw until their lips met again, hungry and needy and wanting more.
"That's kinda sexy, you touching yourself and thinking about me," Faith said, holding herself up on one arm and letting her fingertips play over Buffy's stomach, watching goosebumps appear on her perfect skin.
"I'd be lying if I said it was the first time," Buffy confessed, biting on her lower lip as she looked up at Faith with lust-filled eyes. "You were the forbidden fruit, Faith. In case you hadn't noticed, I kinda had a thing for the forbidden when we were younger."
"And now?" Faith asked, her fingers slowly trailing down lower on Buffy's stomach, closer and closer to what she'd always wanted.
"Now, well . . ." Buffy paused, a mischievous look upon her face. She sat up a little and put her hands on Faith's shoulders, pushing her down until she was lying on her back. ". . . I hear that fruit is an important food group. I think I'm ready to have a healthy helping."
Faith laughed aloud, crossing her arms under her head and looking at Buffy with an eyebrow playfully raised.
Buffy merely smiled and leaned down to begin kissing her again, placing a series of feather soft kisses over Faith's lips. She ran her right hand down Faith's side, taking her time to memorize every dip and curve of soft skin. When her hand reached Faith's thigh, she slid her fingers gently under it and pulled it up so that her leg was bent at the knee. That was when she ever so subtly, while keeping Faith preoccupied with the teasingly soft kisses, slid her fingers between parted flesh, feeling Faith's body react beneath her.
She let her fingers explore, coating them in Faith's already plentiful wetness and slipping them over her ever so softly, teasingly.
"Fuck," Faith whispered, one of her hands at the back of Buffy's head now, keeping their lips together.
"I'm not exactly experienced at this," Buffy whispered against Faith's lips.
"I'm not exactly complaining," Faith panted.
Buffy smiled, her fingers still exploring tentatively.
"Tell me what you need," she whispered, her fingers slowly circling over Faith's hard clit now.
"Oh god," Faith panted again, trying so hard not to close her eyes, "harder."
And Buffy listened, running her fingers harder over Faith, relishing in the way that the girl was already shaking and quivering beneath her.
"Oh god," Xander groaned, sitting back in his chair at the kitchen table with his hand on his bulging stomach. "That was quite possibly the best thing that I've ever eaten."
"I'd sexually resent that if I could bring myself to care," Anya said impassively from the sofa, not having budged an inch since the feeding frenzy began an hour before.
"I bet you'd like my cooking as much as you like Andrew's," Dawn complained as she chewed on a piece of bacon. "Oh, who am I kidding? This is the best bacon since the invention of pigs."
Andrew came out of the kitchen, this time carrying a huge plate of fresh Belgian waffles with strawberries and whipped cream.
"Gimme!" Xander exclaimed, sitting forward and ignoring his now rounded gut.
"These are for Faith and Buffy!" Andrew exclaimed, hitting Xander's grabby hands with a spatula. "My secret ingredient is just a dash of nutmeg. Seriously, they're probably the best Belgian waffles that this world has ever seen."
"Which is why you should share them with me," Xander reasoned, trying to grab them again.
Andrew managed to avoid his attempt though, dodging to the right until he was near the bottom of the staircase.
"Someone should really tell them to come down before it gets cold," he said.
"Oh fuck, I'm coming!" Faith yelled from upstairs in a fit of pleasure, the sounds of her following moans drowned out by the sound of "Dancing Queen" by Abba playing on Andrew's radio.
Andrew smiled happily and walked back to the table. "She's on her way down."
Dawn's eyes were wide at the realization of what was probably going on upstairs, but then she noticed the plate of waffles in front of her.
"Why do Buffy and Faith get the waffles? Why can't I have them?" she complained again.
"If you want waffles so much, why don't you go and make some for us, Dawnster?" Xander asked hopefully.
Dawn looked determined for a moment, but then sank down in her chair and crossed her arms over her chest again.
"Because they won't be as good as Andrew's."
"My other secret ingredient is love," Andrew said proudly.
"You all make me want to vomit," Anya chimed in from her place on the sofa. "If you think that Faith is ‘coming' down to breakfast, you're mistaken. She won't be coming down here until after she and Buffy are done having lesbian sex."
"Faith is having the what with the who?" Xander asked, shocked.
"Faith. Lesbian sex. Buffy. Sex trumps waffles every time."
"I really don't think that . . ." Xander began, but was cut off when they heard Buffy yell, ‘Oh god, Faith!' from upstairs. "Do you really think they're having sex up there?"
Buffy's hands gripped tightly to the headboard as she straddled Faith's face, her head thrown back and eyes closed as Faith sent her over the edge again and again. Faith's arms were under her thighs keeping her trapped right against her mouth, her lips and tongue relentless against Buffy's pussy.
"Oh god, oh god . . . . oh Faith . . . you've gotta, I'm gonna . . ."
A shimmer of light filled the room, revealing an unsurprised Anya holding a tray of Belgian waffles with strawberries and whipped cream. She tilted her head to the side, watching for a moment before clearing her throat, seemingly unaffected.
"Attention lesbians: ghost in the room. I repeat, ghost in the room."
Buffy quickly grabbed a sheet and held it against her chest, but Faith didn't stop her actions. Buffy's thighs were pressed too tightly to her ears for her to hear, or to care for that matter.
"Get out of here, Anya!" Buffy panted.
""I didn't want to come up here in the first place, but Andrew threatened to start singing show tunes. Believe me, I'm happy to get back to my comfy sofa."
Anya began to shimmer out, but Buffy called out her name before she could disappear altogether.
"Leave the whipped cream?" she asked coyly.
Anya merely rolled her eyes and put the can of redi-whip on the dresser before shimmering out fully.
Buffy tossed the sheet down to the side and put her hands back on the headboard, looking down at Faith with a sexy grin.
Downstairs, Dawn was busy grimacing and watching Xander pile in a plate full of cold Belgian waffles swimming in maple syrup. Her appetite ruined from the slurping and grunting Xander was making, she couldn't even envy his food any longer.
The sound of a cell phone playing the Star Wars ringtone sounded from across the room, buried deep inside Andrew's jacket pocket. She thought about telling him that his phone was ringing, but suddenly realized that she wanted to answer the phone herself.
Her cell phone didn't have the cool ringtone, after all.
Besides, he was already busy making lunch for the appreciative, bottomless pit that was Xander.
"Dawn? Oh good, I've been trying to reach Faith's mobile phone for hours. I'm glad that you and Buffy arrived safely. A phone call might've been nice," came Giles' voice from the other end of the line.
"Oops, sorry Giles. I went to see Xander's apartment, and then we had a research party, and then it was just late so we went to bed. And today, well . . . today's been an interesting day."
"I trust that everyone is well?"
"Well sure. That is, if you consider Buffy and Faith having sex, Andrew cooking the world's best food in the cutest rainbow shorts that should totally be mine, Xander eating all of my food, and Anya lazing about in the category of ‘well and good'."
There was a long pause on the other end of the line until Giles finally spoke again.
"I'm sorry, did you say that Buffy and Faith are, erm . . . having relations?"
"The little lust bunnies have been at it all morning. And look Giles, bunnies! A horde of floppy, hoppy bunnies!" She paused for some kind of reaction from Anya, but only received a middle finger held up over the back of Anya's head. "See? Nothing. Anya hasn't even flinched. She just lays on the sofa, complaining that the buttons on the remote are too difficult for her ghostly capabilities."
"Wait a moment," Giles began. "Anya's a useless layabout: Sloth. Xander's eating all of your food: Gluttony. Buffy and Faith are having, erm . . .: Lust. And Andrew is . . . wearing rainbow shorts. Gay?"
"Probably. It's mostly about the Pride though, if you ask me. He's been making the best food all morning and gloating about it. Giles, I want to be as good as Andrew! And if Buffy and Faith are having sex, why can't I??"
"Right then. Clearly you have Envy. Dawn, it's very important that I speak to Faith. I know it might be, erm, embarrassing, but I need you to take the phone to her . . ."
"Eww, no way. There's no therapist that could cure those images from my mind. Besides, they're not answering the door, we've tried."
"Perhaps Xander is able to function somewhat responsibly. May I speak with him, please?"
Dawn looked over her shoulder at Xander who was busy pouring more syrup over his waffles.
"Unless we run out of food, I don't think I'm going to be able to keep his attention very long."
"Dawn, it's imperative that we take this matter seriously. If The Last comes back and tries to withdraw the sin he's infected everyone with, there is no way to save your lives. We need to attempt to extract the evil before he does it himself."
"And how do you expect me to do that, Giles?" Dawn asked, clearly more alert now. "I'm not a slayer. My research skills aren't good like yours or Andrew's. Anya is a better ghost than I could ever hope to be!"
"Good lord," Giles mumbled under his breath, getting quite frustrated. "You have no reason to envy any of them right now Dawn. Now please, concentrate. You're the only one focused enough to help. Can you please try to put your petty grievances aside and help save the day?" At Dawn's silence, he continued. "Anything we try here will be experimental, but we need to try something. Magic won't be enough. I think that . . . Dawn, do you remember passing by any churches in your travels?"
Dawn thought about it for a moment.
"Well, there's a little dodgy wedding chapel about a mile from Xander's new place. Oh, you should totally come and see his apartment, Giles, it's totally awesome!" When she heard Giles clear his throat, she calmed and controlled herself. "Right, so wedding chapel. There has to be a priest there, right?"
"It's as good a shot as any," Giles confirmed. "While I don't condone what I'm about to tell you to do, I fear that we're left without options. Dawn . . . can you find the keys to Buffy's car?"
Dawn smiled wide.
"Turn around, B."
"Hmm?" Buffy mumbled, her mouth otherwise occupied.
"I said turn around," Faith repeated, a devilish grin on her face.
"What did you have in mind?" Buffy asked, excited at what Faith was proposing.
"Anyone ever teach you how to sixty-nine?"
"That's a no-go on the holy water, Giles. But I did get to be a witness for a wedding," Dawn said excitedly.
Giles sighed loudly over the cell phone, pinching the bridge of his nose. He'd just gotten off the phone with Willow, who told him a few spells that might help as well. There wasn't much she could do from Brazil, but she promised to return to LA at the first chance that she could to help out.
"Are you sure you don't remember any other churches, Dawn? Think hard, please."
"A-ha!" Dawn said excitedly as she hopped back into Buffy's car. "Last time we were here, we saw a little Episcopal church near a plaza not too far from here. There's an herbalist in the same plaza, and also a toy store, a drugstore, and a Chinese restaurant."
"Excellent. Go to the drugstore and buy some bottle water. Have the priest bless it if you can. The herbalist might have some things that we can use as well. Call me once you've reached the shop and we'll go from there."
"You've got it," Dawn said, then promptly closed the small cell phone. Her grip on the steering wheel lax for the moment, she veered off the road and hit several garbage cans, sending them careening into the street. Quickly grabbing the wheel tightly, she steered straight and looked around to see if anyone notice. "No one needs to know about that," she said to herself.
"Mmmmm," Buffy purred happily, one of her legs draped over Faith's as she rested her head on Faith's ample chest.
"Mmmmm," Faith replied back, still trying to catch her breath.
"That was . . ."
". . . mmmmm," Faith finished for her.
Buffy looked up at Faith's face, smiling at her closed eyes and the content look upon her face.
"You're not done already, are you?" Buffy asked mischievously.
"Not even close," Faith answered, opening one eye to look down at Buffy. "What did ya have in mind?"
"Well," Buffy began, sitting up so that she was straddling Faith, their centers pressed intimately together, "I was thinking . . ."
She didn't say any more but began to move her hips ever so subtly, causing a delicious friction between them.
"I like the way you think," Faith said smiling, her hands coming up to rest on Buffy's hips.
Dawn ran out of the herb shop with a bag clenched tightly in her hands, Andrew's cell phone held up to her ear with her shoulder.
"So all you have to do is combine the ague root and the tulsi in a glass bowl and set them ablaze. Chant the words I've given you three times, and that should kill the evil essence, at least if I've postulated correctly. Before you do that though, you have to make sure to sprinkle the holy water on everyone, Dawn. The holy water will make the essence susceptible to harm, but it won't kill it. That's what the ague root and tulsi are for."
"And how do you propose that I ‘sprinkle' everyone? There's no way Buffy and Faith will stop their grinding long enough for me to virtually baptize them."
"Be creative, Dawn. And for god's sake, be quick. We don't know how much longer we have before The Last returns to claim his essences."
Dawn's eyes focused on a store within the plaza.
"I think I have an idea."
Arriving back at Faith's office, Dawn cautiously walked in the door, making sure that things were still safe and sound. She saw Xander still sitting at the table, now feasting on homemade focaccia bread and marinara sauce.
"No fair!" she yelled, stomping her foot once. "I leave for two hours and I miss the tour of Italy?"
"You snooze, you lose," Xander grunted around a mouthful of bread.
Anya was still in her place on the sofa while Andrew continues his handiwork in the kitchen. Buffy and Faith could be heard from upstairs, their cries of pleasure instantly making Dawn focus on the task at hand.
She put her bags on the floor, knowing that if they were too close to Xander he might eat their contents. Taking one item out of a bag and hiding it behind her back, she forced her way into the kitchen, determined now. She ignored Andrew's complaints to stay out of the cook's sanctuary and grabbed a glass bowl from the cupboard, giving him a glare that shut him right up.
Before Andrew could ask her what she was doing, she pulled a large water gun out from behind her back and began squirting him with the holy water she'd filled it with, laughing as he tried to defend himself with a glass platter. When he was suitably soaked, she left him in the kitchen, wet and confused.
Xander didn't even notice that she'd sprayed him, and Anya hadn't even flinched as Dawn squirted her from across the room.
Dawn stopped at the foot of the stairs. She knew that the next part was gonna suck. There was no way that she wanted to see her sister in the throes in passion. She didn't even like helping her pick out bikinis! This was taking her way out of her comfort zone, but she knew that they were counting on her to save the day.
No really, they were. They just didn't know it yet.
Taking a deep breath, Dawn charged up the stairs and to the door of Buffy's bedroom, then kicked it open with all that she had. Standing in the doorway with one hand over her eyes, she began squirting the gun furiously into the room, waiting until she heard some kind of confirmation that her aim was correct.
"Hey!" Faith yelled, feeling her back getting drenched with water.
Dawn took her hand away from her face for just a moment . . . just long enough to see Faith laying over her sister with one of Buffy's legs wrapped over her.
"Ahh!" Dawn yelled, covering her eyes and stumbling backwards out of the room. Once the door was shut and she was alone in the hall, she started spraying herself with the gun, making sure to squirt her tightly shut eyelids. "My eyes definitely need to be blessed now!"
Slowly she opened her eyes and shook her head, trying to erase that particular image from her mind. She made her way downstairs to finish what Giles told her to do and only hoped she got everything right the first time around.
There was no way she was opening that bedroom door again.
"What the hell was your sister doing?" Faith asked, temporarily distracted.
"Trying to get us wet, apparently," Buffy answered breathlessly. She put her hands on Faith's face, trying to get her to focus once again.
Faith smiled cockily and leaned down, nudging Buffy's nose with her own.
"Wet? Yeah, I'm already that," she said and flicked her tongue over Buffy's top lip.
Buffy moaned and caught Faith's tongue between her lips, sucking on it gently. Faith, of course, got the picture, and started moving against Buffy again, their hard clits bumping together in just the right way that would have them sighing in pleasure in just a few more minutes.
Dawn had the ague root and tulsi in the glass bowl, already smoking slightly from the match she'd just tossed in with them. She blew on the small flame softly, carefully, helping it grow into a bright orange flame that engulfed the herbs.
She excitedly reached inside her pocket and pulled out the receipt from the herb store. On the back were the words that Giles told her she needed to chant to kill the evil essence. She read them over a few time in her head to make sure she got them right. There was no way she was going to mess it up like Ash did in Army of Darkness. Buffy would kill her if she had to slay a whole undead army.
Clearing her throat, Dawn finally said the words aloud.
"Vindico nos ex malum."
She paused for a moment, then gasped as a rush of black smoke exited her mouth and evaporated into thin air. It took her a moment to catch her breath, but she continued.
"Vindico nos ex malum."
This time she watched as black smoke rushed out of Anya and Xander at the same time, leaving them gasping for air like she had been just a moment before.
"Cool," she said and grinned, pleased with herself. Just one more time, she repeated the phrase. "Vindico nos ex malum!"
"Faster, baby," Buffy pleaded.
Faith obliged, moving her body quicker against Buffy's, the sound of their slick pussies filling the air.
They were breathing hard and fast, so close, right on the edge . . .
Suddenly both girls gasped, their bodies going rigid as plumes of black smoke exited their mouths and evaporated into thin air. It took them a moment to regain their bearings, having to catch their breath first.
Faith's eyes suddenly went wide. She looked down at Buffy and waited to be yelled at, waited to be pushed off, waited to be thrown across the room . . . but it didn't happen. Buffy looked up at her with a sense of wonder, her eyes soft as she explored Faith's face.
Without hesitation, she reached up and caressed the side of Faith's face, letting her thumb caress across her full lips. Faith tried, but she couldn't hold back. She pursed her lips and kissed Buffy's thumb. It was meant as a simple gesture, but it evoked something inside of them that could just no longer be contained.
Sliding her hands up around the back of Faith's neck, Buffy pulled Faith down to her and brought their lips together, kissing her slowly, so so softly.
Faith shifted her weight a little and Buffy moaned into her mouth, igniting her passion once again. Testing the waters, she began to move again. Both girls were already so close, so ready to tumble over the edge.
Buffy began breathing heavily again, softly whispering words of encouragement to Faith. After a few short moments, both girls moaned and gasped together, clinging to one another tightly as they came hard and fast.
Faith rested her forehead against Buffy's, relishing the feel of her warm breath blowing across her face. Buffy wrapped both of her arms around Faith's back, unwilling to let her go again just yet.
Xander laid across the sofa with a bucket near his side, afraid that he wouldn't make it to the bathroom quick enough the next time he needed to be sick. The moment that the gluttony essence left his body, he found himself running towards the bathroom, ready to purge most of the day's gorging.
He'd never eaten so much in his whole life, and he was pretty sure that he never wanted to see another omelet or Belgian waffle ever again.
Anya had left to speak to the Powers That be about what had happened to them. She was sure they would love her firsthand account . . . after they scolded her for getting close enough to get infected. Not even ghosts were immune, it seemed.
Andrew, after attempting to explain away his outfit and the over-the-top music as part of a Halloween costume gone bad, decided to hide out in his bedroom until the air cleared. Or at least until Faith forgot about everything Dawn had told her about it.
He was pretty sure he still heard Faith laughing from down in her office.
After Buffy and Faith finished, they did the awkward thing that was expected of them. Faith ran and took a shower while Buffy tried to do damage control, explaining to the others that it was just a spell. Or evil. Or, well . . . something unnatural that had made them act out like that.
Dawn tried to tell her that it was something she was repressing inside of her, but Buffy told her it wasn't and that if she kept her mouth shut, she'd buy her the new Chanel dress that she'd been raving about for weeks.
Feeling more than awkward, Buffy decided it would be best if she and Dawn went back to LA and reported to Giles directly. Xander tried to convince them to stay and even offered to let them stay at his apartment, but Buffy just wasn't sure how to deal. Faith still hadn't so much as looked at her, and she didn't know where they stood.
After packing up the car with their bags, Buffy and Dawn said their goodbyes and Dawn went to wait out in the car for Buffy.
Buffy, knowing that they couldn't just leave, knocked on Faith's office door and waited for a response.
"C'mon in," came Faith's voice.
Steeling herself, Buffy opened the door and walked in. She smiled when she saw that Faith smiled nervously at her, looking suddenly very small behind her big desk.
"Hey," she began.
"Hey," Faith said, chuckling nervously.
"Penny for your thoughts?"
"Not on you life," Faith answered, making both girls laugh.
"So I heard this crazy saying once, something about ‘what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Ever hear of it?"
Faith laughed, but there was still an awkward tension in the room. Way too much had happened for things to be comfortable.
A few moments passed before Buffy spoke up again.
"So, Dawn and I are gonna head back to LA. The stuff we brought you was pretty useless, and . . . well, I think we were pretty useless too. I'm sorry that we weren't able to help more, Faith."
"Hey, don't be sorry for a second," Faith said. "It's a tough sitch here. Don't know how to fight this guy, and now he's made it personal, sneaking in here like that. Shit, Xander's gonna flip when I tell him he needs to install some kinda mystical security system."
Buffy smiled, looking down at her hands. Her hands that had been in naughty places just hours before. Quickly she looked up at some random spot on the wall.
"Listen," Faith began, her tone changing, "B . . . I'm really sorry. I didn't know what was happening, and I just saw you and . . ."
"Hey," Buffy interrupted her, causing Faith to look up and meet her gaze, "it wasn't your fault, Faith. The Last . . . he got us while we were vulnerable, and he exploited us for his own purposes. It's not anyone's fault. You can't be sorry about it. We can't go back to the weird and awkward place. I refuse to let that happen."
"Why?" Faith asked, genuinely interested.
Buffy chose her words carefully.
"Because I care about you, Faith. I want to be your friend, and a part of friendship is not letting one person take the blame when two are responsible. We were both responsible, even if our actions were a bit out of our hands."
"I'll really kick myself if this fucks things up between us," Faith said honestly, laying it all on the line.
Buffy smiled as reassuringly as she possibly could.
"It won't. I promise."
It took a moment, but Faith smiled then. Maybe things really would be okay.
"Can I ask you a question?" Buffy asked after a few moments passed.
"Go for it."
"Why does all of the weird sex stuff always happen to me?"
Faith laughed, feeling the rest of the tension lift from the room.
"Cos you're kinky, B."
They both laughed then, almost completely at ease, when there was a tentative knock on the door.
"Yeah?" Faith said.
Xander suddenly popped his head into the room, looking quite anxious.
"Faith, there are some people here to see you."
"Yeah? Who's that?" Faith asked, her brow furrowed.
The door pushed in and three people entered the room, looking around casually. The two men – one in a suit and the other in a casual tan jacket – and the woman in the navy pant suit approached her desk and looked down at her.
"Miss Lehane, my name is Captain Jim Brass, Las Vegas Homicide, and this is Gil Grissom and Catherine Willows from the Crime Lab. Would you mind answering a few questions for us?"
Faith sank back in her chair and sighed.
No, things were never that easy.
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