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Wishing Changes Everything: Bad Girls

by Declan
Rating: NC-17

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Bad Girls (PART 1: Sugar And Spice)

Buffy and Faith slammed against the grass, struggling side by side, vampires growling as they bore down on the two girls.

“So, whaddya think?” Faith grunted.

Buffy grimaced against her vampire’s strength. “Faith, just gimme a sec here, okay?”

Faith snapped a look at Buffy as she struggled. “You keep ducking me, yes or no?”

“...Not the best time!” Buffy cried as she shifted her hips and thrust the vampire off over her head, rolling with it and jerking to her feet.

Faith did the same and pulled a stake, “C’mon, it’s a simple question.”

With that she turned, grabbed her vampire’s clumsy lunge and effortlessly flipped him to the ground.

Buffy sighed as she ducked a vicious jab from her own opponent as he rose up at her, blocking a strong right cross before smashing him in the face and then spinning and jabbing a stake into his chest. The vampire snarled his last as he was dusted.

Buffy turned as Faith pounded a stake into the back of her downed opponent and then sprung to her feet again, curls bouncing. She regarded Buffy slightly exasperatedly “So, I’m guessin’ you don’t like my idea.”

Buffy paused to catch her breath and also to think as to how to reply. “It’s just...I’m not sure I want my, uh, first time to be in a motel. It’s... not exactly romantic, y’know, what with the stains and the worn mattresses and the coin slot for the ‘magic fingers’...” Judging from the indecent grin on Faith’s face Buffy probably shouldn’t have mentioned that last part.

Faith moved a little closer. “Hey, I didn’t say motel, I just said room, somewhere private. ‘Cause it's gettin’ t’be a major drag dodging around your Mom all the time...”

“Well, it’s sorta her house Faith. We can’t just evict her, well...physically we could, but only if the house was actually on fire. Otherwise she’d get cranky.” Buffy gave the brunette a pointed look, “Anyway, the last time we were alone at the house you turned me down, remember?”

Faith blew out a breath. “I was being all noble and shit, okay. World in peril, seemed like the thing t’do. Guess you must be rubbing off on me...”

Buffy looked at the ground, seeing odd tracks and murmuring. “You say that like it’s a bad thing...” She held up her hand.

Faith caught Buffy’s gesture. “What’s up?”

“Uh, a bad thing. Another vamp nearby. See those tracks.”

Faith looked, tracing the footprints across the ground and to the right. “Thataway.” She pointed.

Buffy cautiously approached the trail as it wound through the cemetery as Faith followed behind her; the vampire was definitely hiding off over to the left. Buffy remembered the guy had a pair of swords, so they had to be careful. “Okay, count of three.”

Faith shook her head with a grin. “Better idea. You draw him out, I flank. And then vamp-dust.” Without waiting for an answer Faith slipped back into the shadow of a nearby tree and vanished.

Buffy squinted for a sign of her, but nothing. She wasn’t sure if this was more or less reckless than Faith’s other plan of ‘charge!’

Buffy silently counted to three and ducked around the tombstone, before suddenly finding herself face to face with a squat, snarling vampire that launched a kick at her. Buffy dodged backwards, drawing her stake as she did so, only to see the vampire draw two swords from sheaths on his back. A long and a short one. Like some kind of duellist.

Buffy sighed. “Right. Crap.”

The vampire strode forward whipping his long sword out in front to try and chop Buffy in half. Buffy pirouetted backwards, using a move that was more cheerleader than slayer, before sliding past the vampire’s arcing sword arm to grab his wrist with her free hand; she then punched at his face with the fist clenching her stake. Her opponent snarled and tried to tear his arm loose, jabbing at Buffy with his short sword dagger-thing. Buffy barely knocked the blade away with a well-placed knee block before the vamp suddenly arched his back, grimacing as he burst into ashes.

And there was Faith, standing behind him, grinning and twirling her stake like a gunfighter.

The brunette raised an eyebrow. “You okay?” She stepped forward to brush some dust of off Buffy’s sweatshirt, “Didn’t think vamps were allowed to use swords, like a union thing or somethin’.”

Buffy nodded a little breathlessly. “It’s rare, that’s for sure. But these guys didn’t look local. Uniforms and weapons, definitely something of the other.” She smiled at Faith, “Still, we getting to be quite the well oiled machine.”

Faith stepped closer and grabbed Buffy’s hips. She leaned in close and smiled sexily. “More like two well-oiled machines that work well together. See, I like that image a lot better. ‘Cause there’s you and me, and then there’s the oil makin’ us all slippy...”

Buffy blushed a little. “I, uh, got your meaning, Faith. Plus the boat-load of imagery...” She was silenced by Faith kissing her, pulling her close and moaning softly against her soft mouth. Buffy squirmed against the brunette as the girl’s tongue slithered from between her lips to gently explore Buffy’s mouth. Buffy’s hands went to the other girl’s head, fingers running through coal dark locks. Even after a week or so she’d still missing this part of patrolling most of all.

‘Okay, so there might be something so the whole hungry and horny thing...but only because of Faith. Maybe we’re rubbing off on each other and... We’re back to the imagery.’

Reluctantly Buffy pulled away from Faith, panting slightly against her mouth. “Okay, so a hotel room...could work. I’ve just got to think of an excuse for Mom and then...” She trailed off as she remembered the swords. She turned to fetch them but found that, like before, they’d vanished.

“Damn it. Is there some graveyard thief jonesing for sharp pointy things, ’cause if so...” She made a vague stabbing motion with her stake.

Faith shrugged in puzzlement. “Hey, relax, B. Those guys were toast anyways. So why worry. Just tell G about it tomorrow.”

Buffy pouted a little. “Can’t you do it? Why do I always have to give the reports? I do have classes’ y’know, plus I really need to study for this upcoming chemistry thing...”

“Listen, B. We got different talents; you’re good with the...remembering stuff. Plus, Giles gets this look on his face when I’m talkin’, like he thinks I’m yankin’ his chain.”

“It’s just all that Boston slang. Giles can barely understand my Californianisms, so you’re throwing him a curve ball.” Buffy thought about it, “And there’s the whole tea party association, he’ll always gonna see you as a rebel.”

“So that’s that. I kick ass, you give the reports...way of the world, B.” Faith smiled to herself, “Besides, tomorrow I’ll be shoppin’ for a swanky hotel suite. Somethin’ with a big-ass shower, bouncy double bed and room service with no questions asked.” She smirked as her eyes roamed over Buffy, “Don’t want neighbours complainin’ ‘bout all the noise.”

‘Oh, boy.’ Buffy swallowed a little nervously. “And I thought you were going to be all tender and loving.” She said as she shook her head in mock-disappointment, trying to hide her nerves.

Faith smirk softened into a warmer smile and she took Buffy’s hand. They started heading off towards home. “Don’t worry, B. It’ll be everythin’ you want...for the first couple of hours anyway. Then it might get a little kinky...”

Buffy gave Faith a searching look, but Faith just smiled guilelessly. Buffy couldn’t tell if she was joking, and to her mild surprise she kind of hoped she wasn’t...

*****

The next day and normalcy in the lounge pervaded. Buffy, Oz, Xander and Cordelia watched as Willow poured excitedly through her collection of manila envelopes. College catalogues were spread out across the table as Xander busily went through a few of them, reading as he did so.

“Harvard, Yale, Wesleyan...” He shook his head in amazement.

Buffy smiled happily at the redhead. “Wow, Willow. Looks like early admission came early this year.”

“Hence the name.” Oz observed.

Cordelia, who was perched on the arm of the couch next to Xander in a very short skirt, frowned at Willow. “I don’t think it’s fair that you got so many scholarship offers. It discriminates.”

Willow raised her eyebrows. “Against who exactly.”

“The rich and stupid.” Quipped Xander, “Those guys are always getting picked on.”

Cordelia shook her head. “All I mean is that it takes more than academic excellence to succeed in college. They don’t take into account other qualities, like school spirit or popularity. Tastes in fashion, maybe. They should want students who would look good to be in all their glossy brochures.” She picked one up and looked at some of the pictures before tossing it back on the table in annoyance.

Willow frowned as she looked at a catalogue for some college in Germany. “Doesn’t that sound, well, a little superficial?”

“Only on the face of it.” Cordelia replied, “Colleges should look for well-rounded candidates.”

Xander shifted slightly as his gaze swept up Cordelia’s form. “I should probably get some credit for not making a lame Bondian pun at this point.”

Cordelia smiled and slid onto his lap. “Then here’s some credit.” She said as she kissed him deeply.

Buffy and Willow exchanged an amused look. On campus smooching was easier to deal with than the bitter arguing the two of them had been engaging in the first time round.

Buffy handed a catalogue to Willow. “Embrace the wooing, Will. You’ve earned it. It’s a whole new world out there. Just have to graduate.” Then she remembered, “Not that I will graduate unless I pass Mrs. Taggart’s chemistry exam. Who’s ever needed Chemistry anyway?”

Willow smirked and shook her head. “Says the girl who lives on processed foodstuffs.” She put down a brochure, “Listen, I can help with all that. Chemistry’s easy. It’s like witchcraft, only not so much newt. So, what do you say? Study jam at my house? Tonight?”

Buffy smiled her thanks. “I’m there.” The bell interrupted their conversation, “Gotta check in with Giles though, and report on last night’s patrol. Faith says it my lot in life.” Buffy frowned, “I get a lot of lot. Too much actually.” She saw Willow smiling, “What?”

“You and Faith, all coupley again. It’s sweet is all.”

Buffy huffed out a laugh. “If you came patrolling with us, you’d have to redefine your definition of sweet. Like a one-eighty.” Off of Willow’s look, “I’ll explain tonight. Anyway, bye.”

Buffy left them to talk to Giles about the upcoming badness.

*****

Although some of the upcoming badness had clearly already arrived. Buffy walked in to see Giles looking fed up and irritated, sat on the desk, looking kinda rebellious actually, if you could get past the waistcoat.

“Hello Buffy.” Giles greeted her gently, already seeming somewhat tired.

Buffy walked over, slightly questioningly until another man walked out from behind Giles, smartly dressed in a suit. Smiling proudly with his hair all quaffed.

‘Oh, right...Wesley. That time of year again.’

Perhaps she could afford to try and treat him a little better; after all, though he was annoying, he did have a job to do. Just like Faith could be a better slayer, then maybe Wesley could be a better Watcher, with some help. Lots of help.

But she could still have some fun at his expense...

“Well, hello!” Wesley smiled at her formally.

Buffy smiled as she put on her ‘valley girl’ act. “Ooh, new Watcher. Wait; don’t tell me your name. I’m good at guessing names. It’s like a gift.” She pretended to think hard, trying not to smirk at Wesley’s bemused look as he glanced at Giles, “Well, you’re English, so it’s not gonna be anything cool like Jack or Brad or Ken...no, you look like a...Wesley!” She smiled, very pleased.

Wesley looked surprised. “Um, well...yes, indeed. Wesley Wyndam-Price, at your...oh, ha, very droll, Miss Summers. Mr. Giles must have told you of my arrival.”

Buffy put on an innocent face and tilted her head. “Nuh-uh! After the last Watcher went all evil I was like, whatever. I’m totally not fazed anymore.”

Wesley was on the back foot again. “Evil? Ah, of course. Gwendolyn Post, we all heard. A sad example of the seductive power of dark knowledge.” He cleared his throat, “No, Mr. Giles has checked my credentials rather thoroughly and phoned the council, but I’m glad to see that you’re on the ball.” He leaned in close and said, very conspiratorially, “A good slayer is a cautious slayer.”

‘What a doof.'

Buffy pursed her lips. “Oh, so how many slayers have you trained?” She asked innocently.

Wesley fidgeted a bit. “...Well, I, ahem. This is my first assignment. But fear not, I am thoroughly prepared for the task at hand. You may rely on me.”

Buffy flicked her hair and smiled as she sat down on the desk next to Giles. “Well, that’s a weight off my mind...” She said brightly. She saw Giles was struggling not to grin.

Wesley was clearly unsure of how to take her. “Well, quite. And with those pleasantries out of the way, lets get down to the nitty-gritty, shall we?” He went over to a box and picked up a book, probably a journal, and flicked it open, “Why don’t you tell me everything about last night’s patrol.”

Buffy thought hard and then said cheerfully. “Vampires!” Giles nudged her, he obviously thought she was overdoing it.

Wesley looked up expectantly. “Yes?”

“Slayed ‘em...or slew. Whichever.”

Wesley tilted his head hopefully. “Anything else, ah, you can tell me?”

She decided to be serious, for Giles sake if nothing else. “Three guys all dressed in the same uniform, kind of a yellow tunic-thing. Good fighters for vamps.” She looked at Giles, “One of them had swords. He was sniffing around, up to something. The other two were just looking for a fight.”

Giles was thoughtful as Wesley straightened up and walked back to his pile of boxes, muttering about swords. He asked Buffy. “Swords? One long and one short?”

“Both sharp.” She said pointedly before turning back to Giles, “they had jewels and stuff on them.”

Giles’ brain was ticking over. “Sounds familiar.”

Wesley returned triumphant. “It should.” He showed Buffy and Giles an open book, something about old vampire societies, apparently there were lots of them.

Giles read out loud. “El Eliminati. Fift...“

Wesley continued, seemingly from memory. “Fifteenth century duellist cult. Deadly in their day, their numbers dwindled in later centuries due to increased anti-vampire activity and a lot of pointless duelling.” He clearly liked to lecture, “They eventually became the acolytes of a demon named Balthazar, who brought them to the new world. Specifically here.” He said, gesturing to the library.

Buffy pretended to be puzzled. “So there was a library here, even back then? Weird.” Giles chuckled.

Wesley sighed. “I...Ah, actually meant Sunnydale, Buffy. I’ve researched this town’s history extensively.”

“That’s very thorough of you.” Giles stated dryly.

“I didn’t get this job because of my looks.”

Buffy looked at Wesley. “So, like, where have they been all this time?”

Wesley failed to disguise his smugness. “They were driven out a hundred years ago. Happily, Balthazar was killed. I don’t know by whom.”

Buffy gave Giles a look and a small shake of the head. Giles spoke up, wondering. “In that case why have they returned?”

Wesley explained. “Balthazar had an amulet, purported to give him strength. When he was killed, it was taken by a wealthy land owner named Gleaves. It’s buried with him and I believe the few remaining Eliminati are probably looking for it. For sentimental value.”

“I see.” Giles remarked, “And you don’t believe that this amulet poses any kind if threat?”

Wesley gave a dismissive wave as he walked about. “Not at all.” Buffy gave Giles a definite nod so he understood the real sitch.

“None the less.” Wesley continued, “We may as well keep it from them. Buffy, you will go to the Gleaves family crypt tonight and fetch the amulet.” He paused before adding awkwardly, “Do you, ah, wish for me to write any of this down?”

Buffy smirked at Giles as she twirled her hair playfully. “Vamps want the amulet. I stop them from getting what they want...then I get a cookie.”

“Yes, quite.” Wesley said dryly. He was about to continue when the library doors opened and Faith swaggered in. She took in Buffy and Giles’ expressions and looked Wesley over.

“Ah, this is perhaps Faith?”

Faith asked with distaste. “New Watcher?”

Buffy and Giles answered in unison. “New Watcher.”

Faith shrugged. “Screw that.” She simply turned on her heels and exited.

‘I guess some things never change.’

Buffy sighed. “I’ll see if I can fetch her. Play nice while I’m gone.”

With that she hopped off the table and headed out after Faith, quickly finding the brunette sauntering out across the quad, hands in pockets.

“Faith! Wait up.”

Faith turned, giving Buffy an easy smile and raising her eyebrows expectantly.

“Listen, I know this new guy’s a complete dork...But, maybe we can work with him. Together; as in both of us.”

Faith wrinkled her nose in disbelief. “You’re actually gonna take orders from him?”

“That’s the job...” Buffy hesitated. “Y’know, it’s not as simple as taking orders, Faith. Giles isn’t my boss...at least not when I don’t want him to be.” She shrugged, “But I listen to his advice because he’s the guy with the knowledge. He helps me.”

Faith thought about before frowning. “You know this guy’s just gonna try and take all the fun out of it.”

“With you there, how is that going to be possible?” Buffy tilted her head and took one of Faith’s hands, giving Faith her best puppy dog look, “C’mon, just give this guy a chance...we can always ignore what he says anyway, okay?”

She could see Faith’s internal debate; she clearly didn’t want to go back. “I dunno, B. I’m not sure I even wanna take orders from G anymore, and now with this new guy...”

“Wesley.” Buffy put in.

Faith’s face twisted in disgust. “Jesus, really? Okay, so this Weakly’s gonna be in charge now. I say no way; we can do whatever we want.” Faith tugged on Buffy’s arm, “C’mon, let’s blow this off, have some fun.”

Buffy had heard this stuff before; she’d hoped that Faith had changed enough to be a bit more responsible.

She pulled her hand away and frowned, “I can’t do that, Faith. I have classes, then this assignment and then studying for a test. Now, as my girlfriend, do you want to help with any of that?”

“Aw, c’mon...” Faith whined before sighing in defeat. “Man, I am so whupped...Okay, alright, I’ll come an’ play nice.”

“Thank you.” Buffy leaned forward and gave Faith a quick kiss on the lips, oblivious to anyone who might be watching, “I appreciate it, really.”

“Can’t believe you pulled the girlfriend card.” Faith replied sulkily, “Knew you were gonna be high maintenance.”

Buffy just smiled as she led her back to the library, hand in hand. Although she didn’t care who saw them as they made their way through the school, and there were a couple of side-long glances, she decided it was best to decouple in front of Wesley.

“One wayward slayer returned.” Buffy said as she entered.

Giles was busily signing for a package but cast a smile in Faith’s direction. The brunette just grunted.

Wesley stepped forward and offered his hand. “Now, let’s try this again shall we.” He said primly.

Buffy could see Faith’s jaw tense up. But she grudgingly reached out and took Wesley’s hand, giving it a firm, jolting, shake. “Hey.” She said simply before letting her hand drop.

Buffy caught Wesley’s eye, deciding to forego her former attitude. “I told Faith about the assignment tonight. If the amulet’s there we’ll grab it, but I’ve got chem. studying with Will so Faith’ll bring it back here safe and sound. Cool?”

Wesley seemed perplexed. “Studying with...Will? Surely boys don’t come before...”

Buffy interrupted him coolly. “Willow is my best friend, and smartest girl I know, she’s helping me in not flunking my classes. That’s the way it works around here, Wes.” Buffy stepped forward and looked him in the eye, “Faith and I have non-slaying lives that you’ll have to work around. We’re not here just to be ordered about. Understand?”

Wesley cleared his throat. “Well, Buffy, that’s just not the way things are...”

“Wesley, if you expect us to respect you and listen to you, then you’ve got to respect us. It’s a two-way street, you got it? You can’t come in here and change the way we’ve been doing things for years. That’s just not gonna happen.” Buffy gestured to herself and a smirking Faith, “Now, you have two slayers, an ex-watcher that we listen to and a group of occult investigators, who happen to be my friends. What would a good watcher do with all those resources?” She smiled sweetly.

Wesley swallowed a little nervously at her forthrightness. “Um, utilize them... perhaps?”

Buffy nodded and her smile became more genuine. “Good answer. Welcome to the team, Wes.”

Wesley nodded hesitantly before giving a tentative smile. “Well, good...yes, ironing out all those rough edges, I see. And about your, ah, behaviour earlier?”

Buffy rolled her eyes. “Like, totally a prank, Wes. You’re the new guy remember? You had to expect something.”

“Yes, much joshing with the new ah, guy. Of course, naturally.” Wesley straightened his shoulders and composed himself, “Well, girls, you have you’re mission parameters. The Gleaves family crypt is located in the Ashburn cemetery, I believe. And I’ll expect to see Faith later on this evening, with said amulet.”

Faith smiled widely. “You got it boss.” And turned and walked out.

Buffy smiled as she watched her go before looking at her watch. She sighed, late for class again. Poop.

*****

Buffy and Faith walked along one of the wide, well-lit pathways that twisted their way through Ashburn. Looking for the big Gleaves crypt, Buffy had a vague recollection of where it was and was leading the way.

Faith was fiddling with her bow but otherwise had been pretty quiet, a small smile on her face.

“So, what are you thinking?” Buffy asked, maybe Faith had found a prospective hotel already, right before the weekend. That would be something.

“Just wondering which I dig more, take-charge Buffy or ditzy princess Buffy.” Faith chuckled, “It’s a close one.”

Buffy smiled shyly. “I was just telling Wesley how it’s going to be. I don’t usually get all bossy like that. But he needed to hear it, better now than later. And the ditzy stuff was totally an act. And I just used the word ‘totally’ didn’t I?”

Faith nodded with a smirk. “Totally.”

Buffy sighed. “Well, it’s not really me anymore either. But before I got called? ...Definitely.”

Faith shrugged like she wasn’t too disappointed. “Well, I guess I prefer bossy-pants you anyways, though I’m filin’ away ‘ditzy-cheerleader’ Buffy as a birthday present or somethin’.”

Buffy reddened a little before suddenly spotting the crypt up ahead. “There it is.” She’d thought a lot about how to play this, fighting six vampires in a confined space seemed like an unnecessary risk this time around. Maybe the two of them could still thin their numbers though, before she told Giles that Porky the demon wasn’t as dead as Wesley thought, and of his old connection to the mayor.

“Okay, I say we think this through for a few sec. Those guys with the swords were serious news, if they’re onto the amulet this could turn into a serious party-situation.”

“Here’s hopin’.”

“I’m thinking you go over there.” Buffy pointed to some nearby bushes opposite the crypt, “I’ll go in and search for the amulet. Then if you see anything, we can attack from two sides.”

Faith looked at her in disbelief. “You want me t’hide in the bushes?”

“Faith, you have the bow. As in ranged weapon? As in surprise, sniper in the bushes? It makes sense, plus after you take a couple out you can still come and... take a couple more out.”

Faith raised her eyebrows. “Just how many are you expectin’, didn’t Wes say these guys were a small-time deal?”

“Well, yeah. But they were a vampire society, and this is probably like their very own sacred relic or something. If they send anyone, they’ll send a large posse.”

Faith nodded in understanding. “Makes sense. But nobody sends a posse anymore, B. These guys aren’t the Crips, y’know?”

“Whatever. Just get.” She pointed to the bushes, smirking Faith ran on over and took cover. Buffy couldn’t see her in the gloom until she stuck out a hand and gave a ‘thumbs up’ sign. Buffy made her way to the crypt, crept down the steps with her flashlight on and saw the two tombs.

Thinking quickly Buffy went over to the second tomb and opened it with a push, revealing the desiccated skeleton with the amulet around its neck. “Bingo.”

But of course, if she took it now then the vamps would search the tomb and almost certainly find her. Better to let them take it and make them think that they’d succeeded. Then get them when their backs were turned. Classic ambush.

Buffy turned to the first tomb, opened it and switched off her flashlight. Then, hearing sounds of approach, she jumped in and pulled the tomb lid shut as quietly as possible, lifting it so it didn’t scrape against the sarcophagus.

She felt the vampires without seeing them, six vamps on a mission, just like before, as they searched and found what they were after. Buffy hoped Faith would keep her head and not attack now, the other slayer was improving but Buffy wasn’t entirely sure that her recklessness was all gone.

After a couple of moments she sensed them going and quickly pulled the lid back and stood up, glancing overhead to see the last flaming torch leaving the crypt. She jumped out and pulled her stake, only to hear cries of surprise and alarm from outside. She ran for the doorway, seeing through it the vampiric figures lit by torchlight, milling around in confusion.

She couldn’t see Faith but already there were only five men now, and one of them was on his knees with an arrow sticking out of his chest. Buffy silently stepped out and swiftly stabbed one of the other vampires in the back, smiling grimly as he disintegrated to ash. Four left.

Two vamps, one of them the leader, noticed Buffy to the back of them and went to draw swords and attack. Though the second didn’t get a chance, a dull thunk was heard as another arrow struck home, and the vampire staggered forward, collapsed and dissipated, his weapons clinking as they fell to the ground. Three now.

Then Faith appeared, leaping from the bushes with stake in hand, clearly eager to be in the midst of the fighting. Buffy struck while the groups’ attention was divided and unsure, roundhouse kicking one vampire clean off his feet and hitting another with a combination of punches to drive him back.

Faith engaged the lead vampire, ducking under a sweeping sword blade to smash him across the face with her fist, then striking low with a knee before flipping backwards to avoid a slashing blade to the gut. Buffy concentrated on her two, one of which was still grimacing from an arrow in the chest, maybe an inch or two below the heart. For a snap-shot it wasn’t bad.

Buffy ignored him as the other vamp growled and rushed her, lunging out with a powerful kick that forced Buffy to dodge to the side. She struck him high and low with a one-two combo before backing up into Faith. The brunette was reaching down to grab one of the swords on the ground.

“Y’okay?” She said breathlessly, smiling back at Buffy.

Buffy blocked another attack before swinging the guy around and hip throwing him to the ground. “Pretty good. You?”

She heard the sound of steel clashing against steel. “Five-by-five.” Before Faith muttered a curse in her opponent’s direction.

Buffy jabbed her stake down at her floored opponent but he managed to roll away as the other vampire, now free of his arrow, snapped a kick at her ducking form, catching her hard in the shoulder. But he quickly reeled back as Faith’s blade whirled back and cut him across the face.

Buffy half-leapt at her opponent, jump-kicking him high in the bleeding face before landing to deftly block and then uppercut the other vamp under the jaw, both vampires went down hard. She followed one down as he fell, burying her stake in his chest.

Buffy saw a flash of movement in her periphery as she saw the lead vampire, sword in hand; flee for an open sewer exit. She snapped her head round to see Faith, down on one knee, grimacing and clutching her side. Buffy saw blood seeping through her fingers.

“Faith!” Buffy quickly dispatched her other foe before running over to the dark-haired girl and kneeling beside her, “You’re hurt.”

“Just a scratch...damn, I guess I need a little more sword practice...” Faith took her hand away to reveal a long, shallow cut about an inch or so above her waist-line. “Not too bad. Stupid.” She muttered.

Buffy was torn, she knew she should follow. “He’s still got the amulet.”

Faith shook her head, her other hand coming up to reveal the amulet in her grip. “Nah, that’s what got me stabbed in the first place. Me grabbing it off his belt. Then he saw how many guys he had left and rabbited.”

Buffy let out a shaky breath and cupped Faith’s face. “Don’t scare me like that, okay?” She gently kissed her before pulling back and frowning at her wound, “Maybe we should both go back to Giles...”

“Buffy, we just wiped out that guys crew. He ain’t comin’ back.” She pulled her shirt up a bit and glanced at her wound, “See, it’s already stopped bleedin’. I’m good.” Faith smiled at Buffy, “Go do the study-buddy thing, and I’ll let G poke about with this.” She waved the amulet a bit.

Buffy nodded reluctantly as she stood up. “Okay. But you show him your wound first, and if he wants to patch you up...”

Faith rolled her eyes. “Fine. I’ll act all wimpy. Just...go.” With a grunt she pulled herself up, picking up her newly-acquired sword as she did so and looking it over, “Keeping this though, next time I see that dopey-lookin’ mouth-breather...” She trailed off before smiling at Buffy, “Don’t think I don’t ‘ppreiate you being all sweet, B. But it kinda goes with the job.”

With that she stepped closer and kissed Buffy, one hand cupping the back of her head while the other, still half holding the sword, drifted down to cup her butt. Languid kissing quickly turned heated and after a few moments Buffy had to disentangle herself.

“Get a room.” She said lightly as she pulled away.

Faith winked at her before sauntering off towards the library. “Workin’ on it.”

*****

“...’Name the fundamental difference between a chemical compound and a chemical mixture’.” Willow said as she read out the test question.

“...”

Willow paused to look at her blonde friend. “Okay, how about, ‘name the chemical formula for salt.’...Buffy?”

Buffy looked over from her text book. “Salt is...is it a saline alkaline? Urgh...” She lifted her book and hit herself in the forehead, much to Willow’s amusement, “I wasn’t even answering the right question, was I?”

“Well, no. But if it’s any consolation, you answered that question wrongly too...so at least you’re consistent.”

Buffy sighed and rolled onto her back on Willow’s floor. “Sorry, it’s just hard to switch off. From kicking vampire butt with Faith to,” she paused to frown and look at her chapter heading, “’The properties of molecular bonding’, my answer is that molecules shouldn’t bond or own any sort of property...ba-dam bum.”

Willow smiled knowingly. “But you’ve done it before slaying then studying, so what’s different this time?” A little guiltily Willow moved her textbook to one side, “You mentioned something this morning, about the whole patrolling thing.”

“I swear I didn’t used to get like this. When I was on my own...it was actually kind of a drag, lonely. And when I was with Angel, well it was a little more fun, but still...” Buffy rolled back onto her stomach, “But with Faith, when we’re in synch with each other, it’s like... I can feel this force taking over.”

Willow nodded. “I know what that’s like, when I’m channelling some magic or other...It’s intense.”

Buffy looked at her friend searchingly. “Okay, so now imagine this; you’re with somebody else who completely gets it, like you do. You’re both connected to this...power, it flows through you; like the night belongs to you...It’s unbelievable.”

Willow got a faraway look in her eye. “Wow. That... would be kinda cool.” She blushed a little self-consciously, “I mean, not the stuff I do with Amy and Micheal, that’s small stuff, summoning the elements, protection spells. But the more powerful stuff; transmutation, communicating with spirits, that’s intense.” Willow nodded understandingly, “No wonder you’re distracted.”

Buffy nodded to herself. “It’s not just that. Faith is...I can’t believe I’m saying this about a girl, but she’s way sexy. The way she fights, and talks, all those little insinuations, smutty stuff... “ Buffy reddened, “It’s just...well, we’re getting towards the time that... when things get...”

“Get inevitable?” Willow finished.

“I was gonna go with physical but...” Buffy swallowed a little nervously and nodded, looking at Willow for a reaction.

The redhead looked a little shocked, but then smiled hesitantly. “Seize the fish?”

Buffy blinked and made a face. “Huh?”

Willow giggled. “Last year? Seventeenth birthday? You and a much, much older guy.”

Buffy finally got it, but it had been longer for her. “Right. And we all know how that turned out...”

“Will you stop with the gloom? Do you know how many people have a ‘perfect happiness’ clause in their love lives? I’ll bet it’s not many. And has Faith even been cursed, even a little bit? Hmn? I didn’t think so.”

Buffy shrugged uncomfortably. “I know. Will. But I just can’t shake the feeling that it’ll change things between us.”

Willow rolled her eyes. “Have you noticed how Cordelia hasn’t said one mean, sarcastic thing to Xander in over a week? Why do you think that is?”

Buffy frowned. “That they... Did they? Really..? When did this happen?”

“Night of the living dead meatheads.” Willow giggled, “You know, while we were saving the day...they must’ve...” Willow wrinkled her nose before continuing, “And now they're closer, I guess. And me, I’m not afraid to be with Oz, I’m just waiting for the right time. And when we both want it, I know it’ll bring us closer.”

Buffy thought she should maybe bring up her real worry. “The thing is...Faith is kind of, um, experienced, with both the guy-thing and...with girls.” Buffy bit her bottom lip, “What if, after all the build up, it’s like this huge let down for her, and I’m not...” Buffy didn’t finish, just shrugged unhappily.

“Oh, Buffy. I don’t think it’s just about the whole, uh, sex thing with her. Isn’t it Faith who’s letting you take things slow? I mean, Faith is built for the one-night stand, y’know. And now the two of you have been doing the dating thing for months. That’s gotta mean something to her, it has to.” Willow thought about it absently, “Plus, there’s the whole ‘slayer’ thing between the two of you. With all that dexterity and endurance...” Willow suddenly looked alarmed and slightly flustered, “One could...theoretically think about something like that and come to some, um, conclusions and, hey, talking of uh, practical knowledge-y things, we should probably get back to chemistry...”

Buffy smiled. “Thanks for the pep talk, Will. I was just in Buffy-panic- mode, needed to talk some stuff out.” She flicked her textbook pages over and stared at the page, “Molecular compounds...”

*****

Wesley was walking back and forth, whilst Giles seemed to be deep into some dusty text. Wesley was talking. “I spent much of last night verifying the authenticity of the amulet you brought...”

Without looking up Giles coughed pointedly.

“...And, with Mr Giles’ invaluable assistance, came to the conclusion that it’s genuine,” Wesley looked pleased, and elaborated, “the Etruscan markings translate as...”

Buffy stared at him in boredom, twirling a bit of hair.

Wesley stiffened slightly. “...Well, I don’t wish to bore you with the details. I will say congratulations are in order.”

Giles spoke up and looked at Buffy. “I gather from Faith that you ran into a little trouble last night.”

“Yeah, Wesley’s nearly extinct cult had been on one hell of a recruitment drive.” She looked pointedly at Wesley, “Luckily, Faith and I were prepared. Nothing we couldn’t handle. We’re good.”

He smiled. “Glad to here it.”

Buffy sighed as the bell rang. She put on her leather jacket and left Wesley to his posturing; she just hoped her last minute study-crash with Willow had helped.

She hooked up with Xander and Willow as they entered the classroom. “Morning guys.”

Willow smiled back. “Hey.”

Xander grinned goofily. “Buff. Get any action last night?”

Buffy looked around warily before she sat at her desk. “Just some vamps. Faith and I cut a swath. Five outta six.”

Xander nodded strangely struggling not to smile. “As in five out of six vamps really prefer one slayer to two. Good going, swathing it up out there.”

Buffy narrowed her eyes. “Why are you...you’re acting weird.”

Xander’s smile turned sympathetic. “Uh, it’s just...it might’ve gotten into the rumour mill that you...were holding hands and kissing a girl at school.” He said the last part in a quick rush.

Buffy blinked as she reddened, maybe she could’ve been a bit more discreet. “What rumour mill?”

“...Uh, boy’s locker room talk. You’re quite the topic of conversation. I overheard.”

“Boy’s locker room?” Willow wondered, eyeing Xander.

Xander shrugged. “Sometimes I lurk.” Then he looked a little alarmed, “But not in a gay way.”

Buffy rolled her eyes. “I think I can cope with guys and their ‘gossip topics’, heh. Who knows, maybe it’ll make more popular.” She frowned, “Not that I care, muchly.” She turned back to her desk as the teacher entered the class.

Mrs Taggart started handing out test booklets and saying something. Buffy wasn’t really listening. She was being gossiped about? Her and Faith were? Did that even matter? And should it matter. Buffy was a little embarrassed, but, surprisingly, hardly mortified, it was just one of those things. Anyway, who wouldn’t be proud of dating somebody like Faith, all confident, beautiful and sexy?

“You have one hour.” Mrs Taggart finished.

Buffy was tapping her pencil, staring at the test, but really, she couldn’t focus. She sighed, thinking about Faith, what a surprise. In all honesty she’d rather be out slaying...come to think of it she couldn’t even remember anything about this test...

A tapping on the window got her attention; she looked up and saw Faith at the classroom window. The brunette opened a window and leaned in, smiling widely.

“Hey, girlfriend. Bad Time?”

‘I can’t believe I forgot about this.’

Buffy pouted unhappily and gestured at her test paper, she could almost feel other people in the class staring at her.

Faith nodded and went to one of the window panes, just like last time she breathed on it to steam it up. Before finger-drawing a heart on it and then finger-staked it. She grinned at Buffy and wiggled her eyebrows.

‘Oh, no... That doesn’t have a subtext at all...’

Buffy turned to Willow and Xander. “Sorry guys. Gotta go.”

Willow looked slightly dismayed. “Buffy...”

Buffy shrugged as she got round the desk, after all she didn’t do the test last time, so where was the harm. “Cover for me. Duty calls.”

Xander smirked. “More like booty calls.” He looked at Willow who was still in shock, “C’mon on, that was funny. I’ve been waiting ages to say it.”

A few classmates laughed and pointed as Buffy climbed out the window. Grist for the rumour mill or whatever. She stepped into stride with Faith as the other girl walked away from the school.

Buffy strode with her, already feeling her blood pumping. “Tell me you got something. I was beyond bored in there.”

“Vampires.” Faith stated simply.

‘Yes.’ “In the daytime? A nest?”

Faith grinned wickedly. “You bet. Good for us. Sucks to be them.”

Buffy returned the grin. “Doesn’t it always.”

Bad Girls (PART 1: First Time For Everything)

The Bronze seemed more alive tonight, tables and chairs filled with buzzing, excited conversation, boys and girls kissed as the air became charged with hormones, writhing masses of people on the dance floor moving to the pulsing, throbbing beat. The lights were dimmed low; the music pounded as lights strobed across the dance floor.

Buffy, in a dark corner of the club, was oblivious to it all.

Her lips drifted lazily over Faith’s jaw and down her neck, feeling the other girl’s racing pulse with her tongue, before nuzzling the side of her throat. She felt Faith’s breathe hitch as she scraped her teeth across heated skin, part of her brain registering pride at the reactions with which Faith responded to her, the rest of her thoughts were just caught up in the brunette’s scent, her taste and touch.

Buffy and Faith were both sitting on a couch tucked away under the balcony stairs. The blonde half-straddling the other girl with one leg draped across Faith’s lap, the other leg tucked under herself. Bellies were pressed together, chests brushing as they moved, hands entangled in hair as they caressed each other, dark and light entwined.

Faith’s searching mouth found Buffy again as they resumed their passionate kissing, tongues pushing against each other. Their muted gasps, soft moans and murmured endearments never left the cosy corner. As if they inhabited their own private, blissful world.

Breathing raggedly, their lips parted. Faith’s eyes glittered darkly in the clubs soft lighting. “Y’wanna dance some more?”

Buffy shook her head gently. “I don’t think what we were doing could be described as dancing. Making it on the dance floor, maybe, but we were starting to draw a crowd.”

Faith pressed her forehead against Buffy’s and smiled. “Yeah, I reckoned you might’ve wanted a time-out.”

“To calm down a bit,” Buffy smiled a little self-consciously, “Some hope of that.”

Faith smiled, pleased with herself. “Sounds like someone got all juiced up from our slaying. Try tellin’ me now that I was wrong.”

“Fine. Just maybe...” Buffy sighed as she stroked the other girl’s face, “Slaying...slaying with you makes me, um...”

Faith nuzzled her ear. “C’mon, say it, B. ‘S not like it’s a swear word.”

Buffy felt a flush creep up her neck“...Horny. When I’m slaying with you, I maybe get a little horny.”

Faith kissed her ear, causing her to shiver. “Atta girl. Still, sounds way hotter when you say it.” Faith pulled back and narrowed her eyes thoughtfully, “Then again, maybe you're jus’ tellin’ me what I wanna here, being my girl an’ all. Gonna hafta check.” And with that she quickly slid a hand across Buffy thigh and down to cup her between her legs, pressing firmly.

Buffy stiffened and gasped, her eyes fluttering slightly at the exquisite sensation, Faith’s firm fingers against her warm, moist centre, stroking up and down against the material.

‘Okay, no big...this is just third base. A natural step from second to this... really, uh...Ooohh.’

A moan caught in Buffy’s throat as Faith leaned forward and kissed her neck, her other hand going behind Buffy, pulling her closer. Buffy sighed in disappointment when Faith’s hand moved away slightly, upwards to the top of her pants. But then, with deft fingers, she undid her top button and started to slide her fingers down.

Buffy’s brain vaguely wondered at the wisdom of doing something like this in such a public place, even in a shadowy part of it. That should make this wrong, not... way hotter.

But all she could think was about how good it would feel to have Faith’s strong fingers inside her, that throaty, sexy voice whispering her name, those lips on hers as she...

Buffy opened her eyes so she could see what Faith was going to do, and so she could urge her to do it. But before she could she caught Angel in her periphery; he stood in looking into the crowds, agitated and obviously searching for her, hadn’t seen her yet though. “Angel...” She murmured.

Faith froze, stopped what she was doing and pulled back from Buffy, her eyes narrowing a little in hurt.

Buffy shook her head and gestured to the centre of the club. Faith’s gaze followed before registering the sight and nodding at Buffy, she still looked a little annoyed, but only at the interruption.

Buffy straightened her top and wiped at her face. “I’ll go and see what he wants. Why don’t you get us some drinks?” She got off Faith and stood up, giving the dark slayer a quick kiss before heading towards Angel, hoping she didn’t look too frazzled.

“Hey.” She said a little shakily. He turned to her, suddenly looking relieved. And, in Buffy’s slightly lusty gaze, utterly gorgeous.

Angel nodded in greeting. “Buffy. I was worried. I didn’t see you.”

“Faith and I were just getting our dance on. She’s, uh, getting drinks.” She smiled, “So... what’s up?”

Angel kept his face all business. “We better sit down.”

He led her over to one of the large plush seats that dotted the area behind the stairs and sat down. He seemed tense.

Buffy sat opposite, catching his eye. “Okay Mr. Bad News, what’s the what?”

“Balthazar.” He stated, “I’ve been hearing rumblings about him, nothing good.”

Buffy decided to play dumb; she knew how this played out. She shrugged. “All I’ve heard it that he’s kinda dead. Faith and I are making inroads into making sure his groupies go the same way.”

Angel shook his head. “He’s not as dead as you think. Word on the street puts him in a packing warehouse over on Devereau. He’s looking for...”

“His amulet.” Buffy finished, “Which we now have. Please, hold your applause.”

“Giles told me. He said he gave it to...”

“There you are.” Wesley appeared before bustling over to them from around the corner, looking distinctly out of place. He looked around, taking in The Bronze with a slightly bemused look, “Well, you’re certainly giving me a run for my money.”

Angel gave Buffy a questioning look. She smiled and rolled her eyes.

Wesley continued. “I think we should establish that when you go out slaying, you leave me a number where I can...”

Buffy held up a hand to silence him. “Remember what we said about a good Watcher letting a slayer live her life? See, I was here trying to have a night off after a slay-heavy day.” She turned back to Angel, “Faith and I’ll do some recon on Balthazar.”

Wesley was puzzled. “Balthazar? He is dead, Buffy. Please do try and remember that.”

Angel stared at Wesley impatiently. “Where’s the amulet?”

Without missing a beat Buffy reached into Wesley’s jacket, grabbed the amulet and pulled it out.

Wesley spluttered. “How did you..?”

Buffy smirked. “Pooches your jacket.” She handed it to Angel. “You’ll put this somewhere safe that’s actually safe?”

Wesley bristled indignantly as he stared at Angel. “Now hold on a minute. Who are you?”

Angel ignored the question, just brandished the amulet at Wesley. “Wearing something like this is like wearing a target on your back. You’re better off without it.”

Buffy glanced at Wesley. “Faith and I’ll report in tomorrow, got it?” Then she stood up, Angel did the same. “Be careful.”

Buffy smiled confidently. “Always am.” She saw Faith approaching with drinks and left quickly to intercept her.

Wesley stood up and looked lost. “Will somebody tell me what is going on?”

Buffy took Faith’s arm. “C’mon, we gotta go.”

Faith turned with her, grinning widely. “It’s nice that you’re all eager t’get me somewhere private.”

“Demon needs killing.” Buffy said simply.

That got Faith’s attention; fingers intertwined they grabbed their jackets on the way out of the club. The two slayers stepped out into the clear night air, leaving the warm and vibrant atmosphere behind, now they were on the hunt.

Buffy felt her head clearing a little as she focused, although her body was still alive and buzzing from her closeness with Faith, all that dancing and grinding and caressing. Fingers still laced they made their way swiftly and easily across town, down towards Devereau. Buffy could feel the hot blood coursing through them both, the eager, easy smile on Faith’s face when she occasionally glanced in her direction. Otherwise both their faces cast about them at the shadows, looking for any scattered secrets in the dark.

“Over there.” Buffy pointed to the dilapidated warehouse she recognised from before. The two girls approached, entering the twisting alleyway between the two looming buildings. A slight sense of unease coiled in Buffy as she recognised that this place was the last place that she and Faith had been together...really together, before Allen Finch and the spiral of panic and despair that had began that night. Tomorrow night.

‘Well, not this time. I’m making damn sure of that.’

Faith moved passed the spot and over to a window, eyes taking in the interior. She made a gesture for Buffy to come closer, cautiously Buffy left the dumpster, stepping nearer and looking in.

Through the boards on the windows she saw the fat, pool-dwelling demon and about nine or so vamps, Faith and her having done a little more damage this time around.

“Okay, so we’ve got maybe got eight or nine vamps plus the Jabba wannabe.”

Faith glanced at Buffy. “You’re thinkin’ that’s our boy? No surprise that Weazley’s wrong on this one as well.”

Buffy nodded thoughtfully. “Nice that he’s consistent. ”She suddenly found herself eager to take care of this tonight.

Faith sighed in frustration. “Don’t suppose the new guy told you if Jacuzzi-boy has any kinda special demon-y powers?”

Buffy blinked in surprise. “Uh, no actually. Why?”

Faith seemed to be weighing things up. “Eight vamps, by surprise we could take ‘em, no problem. But Mr. Pudding over there? Kind of an unknown. Too risky.”

Buffy looked at the other girl, pleased she wasn’t going to have to reign in Faith’s recklessness. “I suppose. Plus we have zero weapons on us. We could swing by the library, grab something.”

Faith shook her head. “My bow’s at your place, remember? I’m thinking I get up someplace high, like on a catwalk, and rain down some pointy death on those suckers. Thin their numbers.”

Buffy leaned in closer, smirking. “Look at you with all your shiny new tactics. I’m actually impressed.”

Faith gave her a look. “Hey, we can get all wild an’ crazy if ya want. Just don’t go whining if this dude has some secret laser-eyes or somethin’.”

“You read too many comic books...But okay, no poking fun.” Buffy took Faith’s hand as they quickly made their way back down the alley, “I like ‘solid plan’ Faith, hopefully in future she’ll come out and play a bit more often.”

“Not too much, don’t wanna make you look bad.”

“Oh don’t worry, I can hold my own.”

Faith slyly. “That’s a shame.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

Faith chuckled huskily. “Here, lemme show you.”

Buffy squealed out in surprise. “Faith!”

*****

Buffy opened the front door and called out. “Mom?” She walked inside and looked around. No car in the driveway, but sometimes she decided to park her car in the garage, depending on how security conscious she was feeling that week.

Faith stepped in behind her, tossing her denim jacket onto the sofa. “I’ll fetch the weapons. You rustle us up some food.” With that she headed up the stairs two at a time.

Buffy wandered from the living room, through the dining room to the back of the house, glancing into the kitchen. A few lights were on, but where was Mom?

Buffy went over to the fridge, opened it and found it stuffed with deli foods; cold meats, potato salad, coleslaw and other goodies. Pinned on top was a note, written by Mom.

It read:

Buffy,

I’ve put this note somewhere that I know you’d find it. I’ve had to leave and go back to the gallery to handle a minor shipping catastrophe. There’s food here for you and Faith. Don’t panic if I’m not back till late, in fact, if things go too slowly and drag on (and when don’t they) I might end up spending the night here.

If so, make sure there’s fresh coffee for the morning.

Love you.

Your diligent, hard-working Mother.

Buffy stared at the note. She didn’t remember this from last time. But then Fridays could be busy for her Mom, getting things ready the last night before the weekend crunch.

Still, deli food was nice. Mom knew to play to Buffy’s strengths, no cooking, just opening containers of food, putting it on plates and eating. She was really good at that last part.

She walked back through to the living room and called up to Faith; she could here the other girl clomping around. “Mom’s not here, but she left us deli if you’re interested.”

Silence. Then Faith appeared at the top of the stairs. “Your Mom’s not here?”

Buffy stood at the bottom and nodded. “There was some gallery emergency thing and Mom had to bail. But you caught the part about food right? So, you wanna eat now or..?” She stopped because Faith was smiling at her funny, “What?”

Faith tilted her head. “You hear that?”

Buffy listened hard, nothing. She shook her head in puzzlement.

“That’s ‘cuz we’re the only ones here.” Faith spoke slowly, deliberately. An easy, sensual smile curled her lips, “Come up here a sec.”

Suddenly Buffy understood what Faith was implying, she could be so blonde sometimes. “Oh...Uh, Faith, but the demon ...”

‘...Will still be there tomorrow night, just like he was last time.’

Buffy tentatively walked up the stairs, her stomach clenched with nervous tension, her skin shivered slightly with excitement. Her eyes never left Faith who stood, one hand on the banister, her dark eyes dilated and vivid with desire.

She was so beautiful that Buffy’s breath caught in her throat; dark curling tresses framing features that could go from innocent and vulnerable to blisteringly sexy in a moment. Tight jeans and top that emphasised her lush, curvy figure, her firm breasts and graceful hips, strong, lean legs and toned, bare arms.

Buffy came to one step down from Faith and stopped, still anxious. Was this really going to happen? Not sometime in the future, not a week or so from now but actual now?

Buffy licked her lips nervously, the last time she’d had sex it had been impulsive, an intense need to cling to Angel after nearly losing him not once but twice. But this time, it was like a force, gently but inexorably, pulling Buffy closer to Faith, like it was just meant to be. Like it always should’ve been.

Faith seemed to sense Buffy hesitation; she reached out and took Buffy by the hand. Drawing her up to the top step next to herself, her other hand cupped Buffy’s face, thumb stroking her cheek tenderly.

“We don’t hafta do anything, B. I’m not gonna lie, I wanna, real bad. But...I ain’t gonna try anythin’ that you don’t want. ‘S not me, okay?”

Buffy’s throat was tight with so many emotions. “Okay.” She said softly. She then leaned forward and kissed Faith sweetly and delicately on the mouth, lips softly caressing the other girl’s. Her hands went to Faith’s waist and drew her closer until their hips touched each other.

Buffy pulled back to look into the other girl’s eyes and whispered. “I want you. Now.”

Something hungry seemed to come alive in Faith’s eyes, her smile widened until it was practically indecent. “Well, alright then.”

With that Faith gently manoeuvred herself and Buffy back and around until she had Buffy pressed up against the wall opposite the stairs. Buffy’s hands moved to Faith’s shoulders to steady herself, as the other girl’s scent filled her nostrils, making her light-headed.

Buffy tried to control her breathing. “Aren’t we, uh, going to the bedroom?”

Faith nuzzled her. “In a little bit.” She drew her hips back from Buffy and she gazed down the blonde girl’s form, her hands quickly going to Buffy’s pants. Buffy felt fingers undo the button and then heard the sound of her zipper being pulled down. Her groan was surprisingly loud as she felt Faith’s hand slide down against her taut belly; fingers pressing under and past the elastic of her panties so that they brushed against the top of her mound. Fingernails tracing across hot skin through sodden, damp curls as they curled lower. Faith glanced away from her hands downward journey, eyes locking with Buffy’s, lips parted slightly with desire.

“Damn, B. Guess you weren’t lyin’ ‘bout being horny.” She murmured as she leaned in, kissed Buffy passionately, her breath ragged.

Buffy exhaled into Faith’s mouth as the brunette’s dextrous fingers gently cupped her, massaging her mound with firm, rhythmic motions before scraped down her groin, over her clit, and sinking two slick digits between her sopping lips. Buffy’s head jerked back, a short cry of pleasure escaping her mouth. Her hips stiff with longing and she found herself trying to push her legs out a little wider, anything to make it easier for Faith to do...Faith-like things.

The brunette teasingly brushed her lips against Buffy’s, while her fingers were more insistent, moving deeper into Buffy’s centre before slowly sawing their way out, drawing back and up against Buffy’s clit. It felt like the blonde slayer could feel every ridge of Faith’s finger as it rasped against her, back and forth, before again sliding into her deeper.

Buffy felt her knees buckle and weaken, but before she could say anything Faith shifted her thigh forward, under her, pressing up against her soft centre.

Buffy’s head was buzzing now, her blood feeling thick and heady as it flowed around her. Her lips mashed against Faith’s clumsily as she rolled her hips and clenched around the other girls questing fingers, shifting herself forward to help the other girl. Faith, for her part, seemed content to leave her fingers inside Buffy as she now pressed and ground her thumb incessantly against Buffy’s clit.

Buffy groaned, feeling stabs of white hot pleasure every time she moved against Faith. The brunette was doing so many things, her mouth was now against Buffy’s neck, sucking her pulse point, the other hand cupping her breast roughly; stiff fingers inside her, thumb pushing and rubbing her continually, sparks of pleasure shot through her every time Buffy moved her hips or Faith shifted her thigh.

Buffy’s breath came now with short squeaks and cries of passion, she felt her stomach tense and un-tense as small contractions ran through her frame. She heard the soft buzz of words, Faith saying something, the sound a minor sensation on a sea of building euphoria. Buffy was beside herself, her body at the mercy of every caress or jolt of motion, nerves thrumming with pleasure. Her quivering thighs, stomach, all her insides seemed to tense into an exquisite knot, squeezing her.

When her orgasm came it seemed to come from everywhere at once, with no starting point, just a total release, an uncoiling of bliss. Buffy squealed as she clamped down hard on Faith’s fingers, she felt herself contract and tense, pulse after pulse of pleasure tearing through her, each one subsequently weaker than the last, but still powerful enough to produce waves of pleasure that overloaded her brain.

Slowly though, Buffy came back to herself, to the drifting feeling of soothing relief that flowed through languid limbs. She groaned slightly as Faith shifted backwards and away from her tender body, withdrawing her fingers and steadying Buffy’s waist.

Faith kissed Buffy gently on the neck, making the blonde girl tremble slightly.

“That...was hot.” Faith breathed against her ear, her voice heavy with lust, “C’mon, we’re just getting started.”

Taking Buffy by the hand she led the slightly dazed girl into her bedroom and sat her down on the bed. Buffy watched Faith quickly kick off her doc martins and peel off her socks, fingers dancing eagerly as they undid her jeans and pushed them off and to one side with a bare leg. Then she standing there clad in brief black panties, before catching the other girl’s eyes.

Faith smiled sexily at Buffy as she slowed down a little, her hands going to the bottom of her shirt. Buffy was watching keenly as more of Faith’s body was revealed. Her senses seemed to have recovered somewhat, though her body hadn’t really calmed from her orgasm. Her heart was still racing; her pulse was still quickened with desire. The edge had been taken off, but to her surprise her hunger hadn’t been sated in the least.

Faith drew her shirt over her head, revealing a smooth taut stomach and bra-clad breasts; the bra was one of those black push-up ones that gave a lot of support. Buffy couldn’t tear her eyes away, seeing the way they swayed slightly as Faith tossed her shirt to one side, before her lips curled again.

“Seen that look from a lot of guys before.” She let out a small husky laugh as Buffy blushed slightly, “Way hotter comin’ from you, though.”

Then she stepped forward, putting her hands on Buffy’s shoulders. Leaning down she kissed Buffy hungrily, her tongue pushing deep to explore Buffy’s eager mouth, gently tracing unfamiliar territory, softly pressing against the inside of her cheeks and before stroking Buffy’s own tongue and withdrawing, leaving both girls panting.

Faith tossed her hair back as she reached around to unfasten her bra. With a flick of her wrist she casually dropped it by the side of the bed as she placed a knee on the mattress between Buffy’s legs and leaned forward a little, presenting herself. Faith’s naked chest heaved with her breathing; a slight glistening of sweat on her upper body made her appear all the more gorgeous. Her breasts stood proud, round and full, nipples taut and straining. Her eyes impossible dark and wide, her mouth bit her bottom lip a little bashfully as she allowed Buffy to take her in.

Buffy just stared; she’d never considered breasts attractive. Her own... sure they were nice, not too big for her figure, considering how petite and athletic she was. But enough to give her a nice feminine shape and fill out a bra. But Faith’s... were spectacular, not just because they were bigger, a little bigger anyway. But they were just like the rest of her, impossibly well-proportioned, firm and perfectly shaped.

Tentatively Buffy reached out, sliding her hands up Faith’s sides, gliding over smooth, heated skin. Feeling firm, toned stomach muscles, and the ghostlike impression of ribs before her finger tips brushed the underside of Faith’s breasts. Buffy gnawed a little at her bottom lip before forcing her uncertain hands up to cup the other girl’s perfect mounds, feeling springy nipples push against her palms as Buffy felt their warm weight. Faith’s breath caught a little as she hissed a sigh of relief, her own hands reaching to stroke Buffy’s arms, offering encouragement.

Almost experimentally Buffy gently squeezed Faith’s breasts, getting used to their softness and supple heaviness. She massaged them, pushed them together, and brought her fingers down to catch the nipples between them. She gently rolling them under her thumbs, watching as Faith inhaled sharply, groaning huskily as she arching into Buffy’s touch. Faith tilted her head back and let her hair stream down behind her.

Feeling a little more confident and daring Buffy sat up straighter and leaned forward, kissing the underside of Faith’s pillowy-soft breast, testing the warm, pliant flesh under her tongue. She felt Faith’s husky groan become louder a little more drawn out, sending small vibrations through her diaphragm.

Letting her tongue trail around the skin between soft tentative kisses Buffy mouth crept up, moving in smaller and smaller circles towards Faith’s straining nipple before moving away to kiss another ignored spot of skin. She did this a few times before Faith’s hands went firmly to the sides of her face and gently guided her to where she wanted.

But instead Buffy firmly grabbed Faith’s hips and pulled her forward, flopping back on the bed as she did so. With a small gasp of surprise Faith fell forward on top of her, managing to brace herself on the bed, her arms going either side of Buffy’s head.

Faith’s questioning look was interrupted as Buffy craned her neck up and took one of her nipples into her mouth, gently sucking on the tender nubbin as Faith tensed with pleasure, torso held aloft on rigid arms. Buffy’s hands reached up to cup, stroke and caress Faith’s hanging breasts, while her mouth peppered the sensitive flesh with small kisses, soft licks and the occasional gentle bite. Soon Faith was quietly groaning almost continuously, shifting impatiently on her knees above Buffy.

Half on instinct and half aping what Faith had done to her earlier Buffy brought up a leg, putting her foot on the bed so her thigh pressed up between Faith’s legs, even through her pants leg and Faith’s panties Buffy could feel wetness against her thigh.

Without any prompting Faith began grinding herself backwards against the blonde girl’s thigh, her hips rolling sensuously as she rode down against Buffy’s firm muscle. Faith’s held her head up; Buffy could see the straining chords of her throat as she worked towards her release, biting her bottom lip in an attempt to steady her breathing. Buffy concentrated on Faith’s breasts, revelling in the newness of kissing and stroking the warm, yielding flesh, the almost intoxicating taste and smell of the other girl's skin, feeling the crinkled surface of the brunette’s nipples against her lips, her tongue, even occasionally her cheek or eyelids.

Between Faith’s husky moans became the occasional strained grunt, every shift of her hips seemed to drive her harder against Buffy, increasing the pressure as her own thighs clamped more firmly around Buffy’s. Faith’s rhythm became more rapid, the tilt of her hips meaning that she slid herself up and along Buffy’s leg, sliding her wetness back and forth as she climbed towards her climax.

Buffy’s own hands went to Faith’s curving hips, urging the brunette on as she stroked across her glistening sides. She strained her neck up to kiss the side of Faith’s neck, leaving soft butterfly kisses on hot skin before moving her mouth to kiss her behind the ear.

Those soft, gentle touches seemed to be all Faith needed to tip herself over the edge. With a long, husky cry she shuddered backwards against Buffy’s leg, head rolling and body trembling as she rode out her orgasm. With a final sigh she fell onto the bed next to Buffy, landing on her side, legs curling up against her body as she huffed out quivering breath after quivering breath.

Buffy leaned over and kissed her breathlessly, Faith responded after a moment, her mouth fluttering hesitantly against Buffy’s more aggressive kisses. The blonde rolled so that she facing the other slayer, one hand curling against her side, the other reaching up to stroke away Faith’s tousled hair.

Buffy stared into Faith’s eyes. “God, Faith. That was...you’re so beautiful.” Her voice was soft with wonder.

Faith blew out a breath. “...I needed that.” She smiled shyly at Buffy, “I’m not usually so...uh, quick, y’know. You get me all worked up.”

“I do, huh?” Buffy asked playfully.

Faith rolled forward and kissed Buffy forcefully, her lips working passionately against Buffy’s mouth. Buffy squirmed, her clothes suddenly feeling too tight against her skin.

Faith pulled back at sat up on her elbow. She gazed hungrily down Buffy’s body. “You’re wearing too many clothes.” She slid down off the bed and grabbed Buffy’s feet, pulling her boots off.

“You always say that I’m wearing too many clothes.” Buffy commented lightly.

She watched as Faith tossed her shoes to one side and started tugging her pants off; Buffy arched her back so her butt came off the bed. Her pants slid off easily. Buffy quickly grabbed the bottom of her shirt and dragged it over her head, throwing it away somewhere.

She sat there as Faith took her time gazing at her, clad in skimpy pink bra and panties. She’d been feeling a little daring that morning and right now, with the way Faith was staring at her, she was glad she had.

Faith bent down, sliding her hands up Buffy’s smooth, bare legs to her thighs. She leaned in to kiss the blonde girl before backing off slightly, her fingers brushing against the delicate elastic of Buffy’s panties.

“Lift your butt, B.” Faith’s voice was half playful, half heavy with lust. Buffy felt herself tremor in anticipation, but lifted her hips up so Faith could drag her underwear down her thighs and away. Buffy felt cool air against her bare pussy, smooth sheets against her butt, and could almost feel Faith’s heated gaze on her body. She shifted on the bed, pulling herself up on her arms.

“What now?” She said in a quiet voice, still a little nervous despite all the desire and excitement flowing through her.

“Move up the bed. Get comfy.” Faith said simply, as she kicked of her own panties. Buffy saw a shadow of dark hair between her legs.

Buffy pulled herself up the bed until her neck was nestled against cool pillows, almost as an after thought she removed her own bra and dropped it over the side of the bed. Faith knelt on the mattress before slinking her way up the bed on hands and knees, stopping when she was level with Buffy’s chest. Her eyes glittered in the pale light coming in through the window.

“You’re...perfect.” Faith’s voice trembled slightly. That, more than anything, warmed parts of Buffy that had nothing to do with desire or lust or sex. Those words were said with love.

Buffy didn’t say anything, just reached up to stroke Faith’s cheek, then idly playing with a couple of loose curls, hoping that that tender action would communicate the feeling she couldn’t voice, she was that overwhelmed.

The brunette leaned forward, soft lips kissing Buffy’s neck, teeth gently nipping at tender flesh. Faith kissed across her chest as Buffy sighed softly. There was no nervousness at this moment, it were blotted out by raw anticipation and longing for the other slayer.

Faith kissed up the gentle slopes of Buffy’s breasts, not teasing as much as before she cupped them both, stroking soft satiny skin before sucking an aching nipple into her mouth. Buffy’s sighs became quiet gasps, her hands making fists of the bed sheets either side of her as she writhed a little, she raised a leg to brush up against Faith’s side, running a foot down her supple flank.

Faith lightly nibbled one of Buffy’s mounds, flicking her tongue across the sensitive surface, before dropping her head to kiss lower. Murmuring in soft appreciation as she traced her tongue across Buffy’s toned stomach, around her navel, then descending lower still.

To Buffy it wasn’t just Faith’s tongue that sent her nerves singing, the brunette’s hands tugged her thighs up so that they were on either side of the brunette, allowing Faith to run her fingers over Buffy’s hips, tummy and the tops of her thighs. The dark haired girl used light, feathery touches and kisses that, to Buffy, seemed to be everywhere at once.

After a while Buffy began to shift her hips in frustration, as Faith’s tongue traced warm, wet patterns on her inner thighs while avoiding any other intimate area. One of her hands gently caught a handful of Faith’s hair as she tried to guide the other girl to where she wanted, no needed, to be touched.

With a dark chuckle Faith began softly tracing patterns on Buffy’s outer lips with the tip of her tongue. Buffy softly gasped in a mixture of pleasure and satisfaction, her other hand reaching up to capture one of her breasts as she revelled in the new feelings.

From slow teasing Faith switched to lightly flicking her tongue across Buffy’s sensitive clit. The blonde girl’s hips jerked in time to the rhythmic caress, she felt the familiar building of tension, more powerful than before, and jogged her hips slightly to maximize contact against any part of the dark-haired girl.

Instead Faith backed off, pulling her head higher to kiss Buffy’s undulating tummy as her hands stroked her quivering thighs. Buffy bit back a moan of frustration, part of her not wanting to give Faith the satisfaction of pleading for her release.

But instead Faith suddenly thrust a finger into Buffy’s tight channel, making her squeak in surprise. Faith’s finger withdrew slowly before moving back in again quickly, this time adding a second. She set up a rhythm, slow then quick, somehow twisting her fingers for an added effect, causing a rippling through Buffy’s core. Buffy licked her lips unconsciously as her breathing became more shallow and jerky.

She then started to roll her hips, whimpering slightly as she ground herself against Faith’s hand, moving herself in time with Faith’s thrusts. Then the brunette clamped her mouth over the top of Buffy’s mound, her tongue lashing and stroking the already sensitive flesh.

Buffy felt the tension in her body ratchet up a gear, feeling like her body was a champagne bottle being shaken, her skin tingled and muscles went taut. She felt her back arch and legs stiffen, almost involuntarily.

Cries and moans bubbled up from Buffy’s throat as she moved both hands to her breasts, her hips surged so forcefully that she was dimly worried that she might hurt Faith in her throes. Her thighs clamping down powerfully on the other slayer's head. She ground her head back against her pillow; powerful waves of pleasure were pounding against her like waves on a shore. Subsuming her, dulling all her senses apart from touch, her nerves jolted from misfired electric signals as she found herself thrashing wildly, undulating ripples of bliss coursing through her, wringing every drop of sensation from her.

Buffy found herself cresting, before suddenly being hit with more waves of pleasure.

Faith hadn’t stopped. Her fingers, Buffy didn’t know how many, were still moving against and inside Buffy, curling and caressing her inner walls even as they contracted and squeezed. Her mouth, lips and tongue were pressed tightly against her moist centre, lapping firmly against her clit, causing more explosions of sensation to rock Buffy’s frame.

Again and again Buffy thoughts were torn apart and lost in blinding white hot sparks that shot through every part of her, from her scalp right down to her toes.

For a dimly held moment Buffy thought it would never stop, that her mind was lost in a torrent of intense ecstasy, like she had been torn loose from the world and set adrift somewhere else, floating. Then she slowly came back to herself, becoming aware of damp sheets against her back, the warm air on her skin, Faith’s hair tickled slightly as her head moved up Buffy’s body, before she felt a wet, passionate kiss against the side of her neck. She moaned and turned her head, her eyes catching the other girl’s.

Faith grinned as she bit her bottom lip. “You okay?”

Buffy blinked to see if her brain was still working. Yep. “I-I...Wha? Where did you learn to do that?”

Faith sniggered slightly. “Maybe I’m just naturally talented. Or maybe seeing you naked makes we wanna do all sorts of things t’you.” She bent her head to kiss Buffy at the base of her neck, “I’ve been with girls before, Buffy. Just practice is all.” She wiggled her eye-brows slightly.

‘I guess practice makes perfect...’

Buffy swallowed and tried to think of something intelligent to say. “That was like nothing I’ve...” Buffy’s nerves suddenly returned with a vengeance, “Do...you, uh, want me to do that...to you?” She didn’t think she could make Faith feel that good; the whole thing was just too daunting.

Faith laughed a little, and smiled. “Well, you don’t hafta, it’s not like I’m gonna make you, y’know.” She eyed Buffy sympathetically, “Buffy, just relax, okay. We’re havin’ fun, it’s not a test or nothin’... Just being with you...is.” She shook her head and thought about it. Then her eyes lit up. “We could use that toy of yours. You seemed to really dig it last time, made me kinda jealous.” She stroked a hand down her side deliberately drawing Buffy’s gaze to her body, “You wanna make me feel good, right? We’ve got a night. I haven’t even done half the things I wanna.”

With that Faith leaned in and kissed Buffy on the lips, weakly Buffy realised that she tasted herself on Faith’s tongue but she didn’t care. Astonishingly she felt her body start to respond to the dark haired girl’s passion, embers of desire still smouldered in her belly, her skin still hummed with need and energy still coursed through her. She pulled back a little and smiled against Faith’s lips. “Okay. But you’ll have to get it. For some reason my legs aren’t working...”

Faith returned her smile. “It’s not like you're gonna be anywhere anyways, not for a while.”

*****

With a final, trembling cry Buffy rolled off the other girl, chest heaving in breath after shaky breath. All her muscles trembled with exhausted passion; her skin was slick and sticky with sweat. Her nipples, thighs and pussy felt tender from hours of stroking, kissing and nibbling.

She ran a hand through her matted hair, she felt like a mess. A mess that felt really, really good.

Buffy dimly thought that they should maybe open a window it was so warm and stuffy in here, but that would require moving from the bed, and that wasn’t going to happen. She doubted she could move even if the house was on fire. Hnmm... fire pretty.

She felt Faith shift around next to her, kicking damp sheets away from their cooling bodies. Faith rolled onto her side and pressed up against Buffy, putting an arm across her chest.

Buffy strained her head up and looked at her alarm clock. She dimly made out a two. As in two in the morning.

‘Oh, god...that was...hours, as in more than one or two hours. I...maybe I’ve broken something in my brain, I mean it’s a miracle we haven’t already broken the bed...’

Faith murmured tiredly in her ear. “Y’okay, B?”

Buffy smiled widely and contentedly. “I think my days of okay-ness are a distant memory. That was...we should’ve done that a lot sooner, like maybe the first night we met.”

She felt Faith’s chest rumble a little as she laughed. “Nah. Wouldn’t’ve been as good. All that build-up, tension, takin’ it slow, s’ what made it so good...Well, not the only thing y’understand.” Faith shifted a little as she sat up on an elbow, she seemed to look at Buffy for a long time, her face half in shadow, “Y’know, I...I love you, Buffy.” Her voice was quiet.

Buffy felt her heart flutter and melt at the same time. “You do?”

Faith swallowed and nodded.

Buffy leaned up and gave Faith a long, slow, tender kiss. She leaned back and smiled. “That’s lucky, ‘cause I love you too.”

Faith shook her head. “Never thought I’d be this lucky. Somethin’ usually goes wrong right about now.”

Buffy looked into Faith’s eyes. “And I told you that things would be different this time, didn’t I?”

Faith just nodded and lay down next to Buffy, snuggling next to her. Her warm, smooth skin against Buffy’s was both comforting and slightly arousing. “Just, don’t blame me if I do somethin’ t’screw this up.”

Buffy smiled absently and nodded, letting her contented, happy thoughts drift as her mind became foggy with sleep. She would never let Faith screw this up. Ever. She would do anything to keep hold of this, all of this. She was the slayer, she could do that. No loneliness or nervousness or fear. Just passion and love and happiness.

Perfect happiness.

Bad Girls (PART 3: Meant To Be)

Buffy came awake slowly, in that lethargic, unhurried way that she often did on a weekend. Hazily becoming aware of her surroundings, of the chirping of birds outside, the gently pressure of dappled sunlight on her eyelids, the rippling sound as the wind blew through the branches of nearby trees, and the quiet tinkling of next doors tacky wind chimes. Dimly Buffy realised that the window must be open.

Then she became aware of her body, the lazy, leaden tiredness in her limbs. The warm cosiness of soft sheets wrapped around her. And the mild soreness in her abs, arms and legs that made her smile at the recently made memories. She’d sometimes felt this way after a tough fight, but the slight aching and throbbing in some areas definitely added a new quality. Buffy groaned softly as she moved her thighs together and set off a gentle ripple of pleasurable signals throughout her body. She stretched luxuriantly and wondered if Faith was feeling anything similar.

Buffy reached out her arm and snuggled closer to the other side of the bed, only to find an empty space. She opened her eyes sleepily and frowned. No Faith, just unfilled warmth beneath the covers.

Buffy felt a twinge of uncertainty in her mind as she slowly sat up, confused. Her thoughts racing back to another time, another night of passion and another empty bed. Where was Faith? They’d fallen asleep snuggled close together, having said...important stuff to each other. Why would Faith run off like that?

‘Maybe after saying that she loved me she panicked, got all defensive and...’

Buffy suddenly heard movement out in the corridor, and a light knock on the door.

“Buffy? Are you up yet?” It was her Mom.

Stricken, Buffy scrambled to look around for her and Faith’s clothes, but saw only her own, flung about in a haphazard manner.

“Just a sec.” Buffy croaked out, her voice sounding a little hoarse so early in the morning.

But too late because her Mom had already opened the door and stuck her head round, her face puzzled. “Buffy, it’s almost ten o’clock and you’re still in bed. Are you feeling okay?” She managed to make her question sound half admonishing and half concerned.

Buffy tried to seem as innocent as possible, whilst frantically trying to remember where she’d last put the vibrator. “Um...late night. With fighting! Uh, it was a vampire nest, very intense. I’ll bet Faith isn’t even up yet.”

Her Mom frowned. “Faith?”

And for one horrible moment Buffy briefly thought that she’d just had a really long, really involved dream and that maybe her Mom had just come home now that the Graduation panic was over.

But her Mom just shook her head. “Oh, well, I’m only just in but I think I heard her in the shower a few minutes ago, she’s up already.”

Then, to Buffy’s horror, she entered the room, frowning slightly, “Honey, you shouldn’t leave the window open like that all night, it’s bad for...” She trailed off, her frown deepening, “And what is that smell?”

‘Oh, God...this is a nightmare... a horrible nightmare and I’m still asleep, otherwise the Hellmouth will just have to open up under me and swallow me now before...’

Then Buffy heard Faith’s voice out in the corridor. “Don’t worry, Mrs. S. ’S my fault.” Buffy’s Mom turned and stepped back out into the hallway.

Buffy was out of bed in an instant; still half wrapped up in bed sheets she quickly closed the window. She wrinkled her nose at the smell; the air was filled with some strong flowery perfume scent, like one of the ones Mom usually wore. Sweeping her eyes across the floor she saw the discarded vibe, clearly visible, on the floor next to the bedside table.

With a quick flick of her foot she kicked it under the bed as her Mom came back in. “...if that’s the worst you girls get up when I’m not around to then I’ll count my blessings.” She turned to smile at Buffy, “I remember when every chance you got you’d always secretly be trying on all my clothes and shoes, back when you were little. Now look at you, all grown up.” She tilted her head and gave Buffy a fond look before speaking up so Faith would hear her, “If you girls are interested, how about I make waffles. A big Saturday brunch?”

“Count me in.” Faith called out, sounded like her mouth was full, probably cleaning her teeth.

Buffy smiled, partly with relief. “Sure...that sounds great. I could go for some serious starch right about now.”

Her Mom returned the smile. “Better get your skates on then.” She gestured to Buffy’s ice-skates that were hanging up on her wardrobe. Smiling at her private joke she left the room and Buffy flopped down on the bed, sagging with relief. That had been way too close.

A few moments later Faith walked in, hair damp and skin still ruddy from the shower, clad in her cut-offs and white t-shirt. She gave Buffy a mischievous, dimpled grin. “I’m thinkin’ I should get big thanks for pulling off my brilliant cover up in about thirty seconds flat.”

Buffy gave her a bemused smile. “Huh?”

Faith walked closer as she ticked off things with her fingers. “Heard your Mom pull up outside the house, so I jumped outta bed, opened the window, picked up all my clothes and tossed ‘em in my room. Then I went and grabbed somethin’ stinky from your Mom’s room to cover up the smell. Otherwise she might’ve twigged to us doing the nasty.” She stopped in front of Buffy and reached out to brush some stray hair away from her face.

“Sounds like you were very busy.” Buffy replied shyly, “I –I, um, woke up and you weren’t here.”

“Well I had to hop in the shower to get all squeaky clean.” Faith said with a smirk, “Last night I kinda got a little sticky, so...”

Buffy blushed despite herself. “Yeah, I was so beat from, uh, all the ‘nasty’ I probably would’ve slept right on through. So thanks for the save...”

Faith leaned forward and put a knee on the side of the bed next to Buffy. “Only reason I was awake is cuz I was watching you sleeping. You’re cute.”

Even as she touched at her bed hair self-consciously Buffy felt her heart skip slightly. “Oh, yeah, all sweaty and mussed. If you think this is attractive you should see me with stomach flu.”

Faith tilted Buffy’s head up slightly and leaned down to press her mouth against her. Faith tasted strongly of peppermint, her cool breath mixing with Buffy’s as her tongue slipping between Buffy’s lips to gently probe her mouth.

Slightly hesitantly Buffy wrapped her arms around Faith’s waist, hands sliding over her hips to the small of her back, fingers playing over thin cotton material and the firmness of the muscles beneath.

Faith broke the kiss, her own hands still stroking Buffy’s hair. “You taste nice, y’know.”

Buffy managed a playful sceptic look. “Really? ‘Cause most people don’t go in for morning breath.”

Faith’s smile broadened into a sly grin. “Wasn’t talkin ‘bout your mouth.”

Buffy frowned. “Then what..?” Oh!” Buffy was pretty sure she had turned scarlet.

Faith snorted out a laugh and sat down on the bed next to her. “’S a compliment, B.”

Still embarrassed Buffy murmured. “You just like messing with me.”

“I do like seein’ ya squirm. Think I proved that last night.” Faith said lightly but then looked at Buffy a little awkwardly, “You’re still okay, right? With what happened. With us...”

“Yes.” Buffy replied quickly, “Very, definitely yes. Last night was just... amazing for me.” She paused before asking softly, “What about you?”

Faith grinned at her. “Oh, yeah. You’ve got some skill. Bit shy gettin’ goin’, its part o’ your charm, but...think you’re a natural. You... were perfect.” She shook her head slightly at Buffy’s shyness, “And I guess I don’t need t’ask if I was any good. Still got me a bite mark on my thigh from last night.”

Buffy tried to defend herself. “That was your fault.” She hissed in discomfort, “How was I supposed to react when you put your tongue...” She didn’t finish.

Faith’s smile became knowing. “Didn’t hear you complaining, not over all that loud moanin’ anyways. Besides, you’ve got a cute butt, couldn’t resist.”

Buffy bit her lip shyly at the compliment. “I was just...surprised, y’know. The shock of the new and all.”

“Was a good night for it.” Then Faith shrugged expansively. “Still, if y’don’t want me doin’ it again...”

“I didn’t say that.” Buffy said a little hurriedly, “Just, um, maybe ask next time, okay?”

“Fine. Buffy.” Faith said looking deep into her eyes, her voice soft and tender, “Next time we’re in bed... would it be cool if I flip you over and kiss your...”

“Buffy?” Buffy heard her Mom call out, “The fridge is still full. What did you girls eat last night?”

Faith almost burst out laughing at that and it was all Buffy could do to silence her giggling. She ended up hitting the dark haired girl over the head with a pillow. “Uh, Mom we just decided to eat out...” More muffled sniggers, “I mean, uh, on the way home, I’m sorry, we didn’t know you’d buy stuff...” To Faith, “Shut up!” She hissed. Then she called out. “We’ll be down soon!”

Faith calmed herself after a minute as she lay back on the bed, grinning happily. “Hell of a start to the day.”

Buffy had to agree.

*****

It was around one o’clock by the time they’d finished the breakfast brunch feast, where Buffy had consumed a truly astonishing amount of food, she told Mom she had to head over to Giles to report on last nights patrol. Faith had walked out to the front porch with her and given her a quick kiss goodbye.

“Sure you don’t want me to come with?” Buffy just shook her head. Faith gave her a lingering look, “Then hurry back, ‘kay.”

Buffy gave her a big smile. “Sure. But tonight will be a bit more fight-y and less...action, clear?”

Faith smirked and leaned back against the porch. “I can wait till Sunday. I’m all about willpower, B.”

With a last wave Buffy set off for school, trying not to skip or anything goofy like that, though she did notice a bounce in her step as she walked down Main Street.

Buffy tried to focus her thoughts on upcoming events, tonight they had to fight Balthazar and his goons, keep Giles and Wesley from being taken hostage, grab and keep Deputy Mayor Finch safe. Then find out what he knows about the Mayors plan's before acting on them. Buffy didn’t like to dwell on the fact that the last time she’d visited the town hall she’d tipped her hand and got her ass kicked all at the same time, quite an achievement.

That probably meant that the Mayor knew that Buffy might know something about his plots. But who knows.

So far there hadn’t been any differences, but maybe that would change. Maybe Finch wouldn’t show himself, unable to slip away from the Mayor, or maybe Trick would be waiting for them in the alley with a whole gang of vamps. Or maybe the Mayor would give Balthazar some kind of heads up somehow.

Urgh, so many options, so many things that could go wrong now that everything was perfect. Buffy sighed to herself; she just had to be wary, and not get ahead of herself. And not let Faith stab anybody, that last part was key...

Buffy stopped, the hairs on the back of her neck bristling slightly, like she was being watched. She frowned and turned to look back down the street where she’d come. Watching townsfolk go about there business. She almost dismissed her jumpiness before she saw a figure, standing on the street corner about thirty feet away, turned in her direction.

Not a typical Sunnydale resident, the figure was dressed in a hooded cloak, black and ragged, that covered him from head to foot, leaving the face in darkness. Not a Californian designer label to be sure, more like something out of a swords and sorcery flick.

The figure, seemingly unnoticed to anybody walking near it, slowly raised an arm in Buffy’s direction and pointed at her, or maybe somebody near her. Maybe he was just giving a passerby some directions. Evil directions. She noticed that the finger pointing her way was old and gnarled. Gross.

And just as she was getting uneasy the figure vanished, a woman wearing a painfully loud bit of knitwear moved in front of Buffy’s vision and the cloaked man was gone. It was possible he could’ve ducked back round the corner out of sight, but still. Spooky.

After a moment’s hesitation Buffy turned and continued walking to school, the bounce gone from her step, but she shook off the sense of unease that had settled around her. Today was gonna be a good day.

*****

“Good morning, Giles.” Buffy said happily as she entered the library. Apart from a couple of long-suffering teachers condemned to work on the weekend the school was pretty much dead, Giles and she were alone.

Giles looked up from the desk, looking a little haggard. He smiled distractedly. “Uh, hello Buffy. Are you well?”

Buffy looked around expectantly. “That depends, is Wesley around?”

“He has yet to make an appearance, but I’m sure he’ll show himself. Unfortunately.” He closed the book in front of him as he rubbed his eyes, “You could have warned me about him you know.”

“And deprive you of the singular experience of that first meeting? What am I a monster?” Buffy smirked and headed over to sit down, “Speaking of, we have a Balthazar sighting. Not as elusive as the whales he’s trying so hard to be like.”

“I see.” Giles nodded in understanding. “Did you and Faith attempt to engage in any way?”

Buffy blinked, startled. “Engage in..? Oh! No, just strictly recon. Angel gave me a tip-off and we went to investigate. No weapons though, so we’ll head back there tonight.” Buffy pondered for a moment, “It might be better if you and Wesley get gone until we do though. Last time around you both got taken hostage at sword-point.”

“Oh, wonderful. After being battered into unconsciousness no doubt.” Giles remarked dryly.

“Actually no, you were very stabby, with the swords and everything. But still, best not to risk it again.” Buffy remembered something, “Ooh, you can check out the hall of records, scope out the history of the Mayor and get everybody on the same page, y’know. The ‘he’s an evil mastermind’ page.”

“Hmn, I suppose I could contact Willow and Xander and ask for their co-operation in the matter. Anything to mitigate Wesley’s presence.” Giles looked at Buffy searchingly, “And what about...ah, have you had any more, well, episodes?”

“Episodes? Oh, no, actually, I’m very much enjoying the lack of vertigo. So maybe it was some weird virus? Or a lame spell.”She stopped and looked at Giles, “What’s up? You have your thinking face on.”

Giles sighed. “This book I was sent is...somewhat troubling? The text about the Djinn.”

Buffy swallowed. “Uh, in what way?”

“Well, there are passages...whole pages actually, that are missing, lots of them in fact. Vital information... well, it would seem like some chapters have been deliberately vandalised, as if it’s been edited.”

Buffy shrugged. “Did you talk to your buddy about his shoddy book-keeping skills?”

“Yes, and he maintains that was how it was given to him. And I do believe him...but I think he was hiding something else from me.”

“Like what?”

Giles shook his head. “I’m not sure. But I detect a deliberate hand in all of this.” He adjusted his glasses, “However, there is another avenue of investigation. A guest lecturer is visiting Sunnydale University, and he happens to be an expert on the medieval occult. I think with this journal and the copies of Æthelweard’s notes I might be able to garner a bit more information about the, ah, Djinn and its handy work.” He gave Buffy a comforting smile, “Not to worry. When it comes to investigating the Mayor I’m sure Wesley and your friends will be sufficient to the task.”

“What task would this be, Mr. Giles?” Wesley remarked pointedly as he entered, “It would be nice if myself and the loop became reacquainted.”

Buffy stood up and walked towards Wesley. “Well actually the loop says that Faith and me got a total eyeful of Balthazar last night. But that really wouldn’t emphasize the grossness of actually looking at him. Point being, Wes, he is very alive and very flabby. So unless we want to wait until he dies of shame, you’ll want him slain, right? That‘s where I come in.”

Wesley’s mouth opened and closed a couple of times as he took this in. “Balthazar is alive? But how...”

Buffy interrupted. “He has his vamp minions taking care of him. Y’know, with the whole protecting and the feeding and the, urgh, bathing their master.” Buffy shuddered slightly, “And that’s why they had a mad-on for his amulet. Plus, here’s something extra newsworthy. We overheard Balthazar mentioning the Mayor.”

Wesley raised his eyebrow as he digested this. “The Mayor? As in The Mayor of Sunnydale?”

“Uh-huh. Balthazar seemed to blame him for his current blobbyness.” Buffy looked to Giles, “They seem to have a connection.”

Giles spoke to Wesley. “Buffy and I have suspected that the Mayor of Sunnydale may have a darker side for some time now. This is just another conformation of that.”

Wesley bristled. “And why wasn’t I told about this sooner?”

Buffy rolled her eyes. “You’ve been in Sunnydale for two days now, Wes. This is as sooner as it gets. Besides, apart from hanging around in sewers and hiring vampires as night security this is the first solid lead on anything bad the Mayor might be plotting.” She walked over to him, “We’ll take out Balthazar, but I was thinking that somebody should take the gang and check out the Hall of Records, go to the source and dig up some dirt on the Mayor, his history. You up for that?”

Wesley straightened as he thought about it. “Good idea. Yes, the more information about the Mayor we can garner the better, and as to the reason why he would be fraternising with demons.” Wesley paused, “If this is Balthazar...Buffy, he was extremely dangerous in his prime, cruel, murderous and immensely strong.” Wesley walked over to one of his boxes and selected a book, “If I recall correctly he had the ability to, uh, draw things to him by sheer force of will. I would recommend keeping a distance, even in his weakened state; he might be able to...”

“I’ll keep it in mind.” Buffy said distractedly and turned to Giles, “And I’ll contact Angel and tell him to meet us at the warehouse. The three of us can handle Balthazar. It’s the Mayor I’m more worried about.”

Giles stood as he looked at his watch. “Well, good luck, Buffy. I have that, ah, errand to run. But I’ll see you later tonight when you report back.”

“Ring the others before you go. Get them onboard with helping Wesley, okay?” Satisfied that pretty much everybody would be out of danger Buffy quickly left the library. She could get in an hour of Faith time before prep work, dusk and patrolling sent them back to the warehouse.

*****

Buffy got home and was surprised to find Willow and Faith talking on the couch. Faith was already dressed for slaying, with leather pants, t-shirt and vest. “Oh! Hey, Willow, whatcha doing?”

Willow turned and smiled goofily at Buffy. “Hey there.”

Buffy saw that Faith was preoccupied with holding up a pouch to her nose and carefully smelling it, making funny faces as she did so.

Willow gestured at Faith as well as to the small black bag she was holding in her hand. “Here, got a surprise for you. To help with tonight’s slayage.”

Faith looked up and smiled at Buffy as she playfully twirled her little bag. “Look, B. My own bag o’ stinky magic herbs.”

“For your information that’s lavender you smell. And anyway, it’s a protection spell.” Willow said in her pretend snooty voice.

Buffy walked in and sat near them as Faith nodded, impressed. “Good deal. Thought witch-stuff would smell...”

Willow looked pleased with herself. “Stinky, right? I guess I could’ve added aloe or cinnamon instead to make it smell nicer. Give me time and I’ll be the first Wicca to do all my conjuring in pine-fresh scents.”

“Well, gotta say, Wicca smells way better than Church, usually that just made me wanna heave.” Faith tossed her bag to Buffy. “Here, take a whiff.”

Buffy caught it as Willow asked Faith. “Did you go to church a lot?”

Faith smirked good-naturedly. “My name’s ‘Faith’, Red. Once upon a time my Mom and Pop thought they were all religious, used t’take me when I was little. Didn’t last.” She shrugged, “Guess I lapsed too. Point was Father Joseph was always wicked eager with the incense. Like he was tryin’t a smoke us out or somethin’.”

Buffy spoke up. “This is really nice of you Will. Uh, thanks.”

Willow nodded. “I figure it would come in handy tonight. So what’s the plan?”

Buffy hesitated at Willow’s expectant look. “The plan?”

“With tonight’s slaying. Faith says that you guys could use the help.” Willow looked at Faith for confirmation. Buffy just raised her eyebrows at Faith.

The other slayer nodded at Buffy. “Tried to get hold of Xand, but his Mom said he’d left already. So it’s just gonna be the three of us.”

Buffy frowned at Faith, before giving Willow a concerned look. “Is that...Is that such a good idea? I mean, with you and the coming along with?” Having Willow along could complicate things. Dangerously.

Willow’s smile faltered a little. “But I’ve done this sort of thing before, like a million times. I can totally handle myself. Besides,” she held up one of the bags, “Minty fresh protection.”

Faith looked nonplussed. “Yeah, B, what’s the big? Red was there when the world was gonna end, vamps ain’t even in the same league.” Faith made a face as she nudged Willow, “But, just warn ya, there might be a couple of points where you might think about looking the other way. This demon’s guaranteed t’make ya wanna hurl.”

Willow smiled at that, before her gaze turned back to Buffy, eagerly wanting her consent.

Buffy stood up, getting a little agitated. “Look Will...Faith and I have got this. I mean, why risk your life if I don’t have to?”

“Because I’m your friend.” Willow said quietly, trying to hide her hurt.

Buffy looked at her. “Exactly. And with the big, hairy danger...I want you safe.”

“Yeah, so where’s safer than with two slayers, huh?” Faith spoke as she got up, “C’mon, we can’t turn down having a little mojo to back us up.” She turned to Willow. “Hey, why doncha go and fetch a few stakes from upstairs. Me and B’ll call Angel.”

Willow looked at Buffy, but when she didn’t object Willow bounded off the sofa and quickly went upstairs.

Faith watched her go before glancing at Buffy. “We got a problem that I don’t know about?”

Buffy frowned at the other girl. “I just, I don’t like putting my friends in danger unless I have to. You seem pretty blasé about it.”

“Willow’s my friend too, B. And, like it or not, it’s not always up to you.” Faith shook her head, “Willow knows the risks, and she’s careful, y’know, smart. Lot smarter than us at any rate. No reason to bench her.”

Buffy shrugged helplessly. “But I’m the slayer, Faith. It should be my call.”

“Yeah, well I’m a slayer too, ‘less you’re gonna pull rank on me, I think she should come along.” With that Faith went into the dining room where she’d already laid out her bow, a sword and a couple of mean looking axes. “Anyways, we should get tooled up. You call Angel, tell him to motor.”

Buffy sighed. She knew she couldn’t push the issue, in a way she was actually glad that Faith was sticking up for Willow. She put a hand on Faith’s shoulder. “Okay, but...just watch out for Will, okay. One of us is near her at all times.”

Faith nodded. “You bet.”

*****

The three girls approached the alley leading to the warehouse. Buffy glanced either way before crossing the street, the sword she was holding made her look conspicuous enough. Willow was by her side, stake at the ready. Buffy could tell that the other girl was both excited and nervous.

Faith was ahead of them and had taken point, bow drawn as she moved gracefully forward and eyed the shadows, but otherwise she was pretty relaxed. “So after we get done, where d’you wanna go eat?”

Buffy hadn’t really been listening. “Huh?”

“I could go for some pizza.” Willow piped up, “Or maybe some nachos.”

“That’s one vote for cheese.” Faith said lightly as she moved passed a dumpster, “Me, I’d prefer some ribs, maybe a steak.”

Buffy skirted a suspicious looking crate. “The way my stomach’s going, I’ll probably just want some ice-cream.”

Faith chuckled. “Don’t have t’be so nervous, B.”

“Yeah, I can be nervous enough for all three of us.” Willow’s voice was quiet but shaky.

Suddenly a figure leapt at them from above, agilely flipping over them with a menacing growl. Willow squeaked in surprise but Buffy saw it coming and calmly kicked out at the vampire as it landed, sending it tumbling to the ground. She turned to see a second vampire coming at them from behind so she pushed Willow to one side.

Drawing two knives the vampire attacked her, steel ringing out against Buffy’s sword as it tried to drive her back with sheer ferocity. In her periphery Buffy saw Faith send an arrow racing into the vampire she’s kicked as it rushed her. Saw as it cried out and turned to so much dust.

Buffy’s own opponent was skilled, neatly slicing at the air where Buffy’s throat had been moments earlier as she backed up to swing. Her sword was good for a warehouse, not so much for swinging about in a narrow alleyway. So Buffy readied the blade so she could run her opponent through. But then the vampire, instead of pressing its attack, abruptly reared back in pain, dropping its weapons and crumbled to ash before Buffy’s eyes.

Then she saw a wide-eyed Willow standing there, holding a stake. “Yay on me. I got one.” She said breathlessly.

Buffy smiled in relief as Faith reloaded her bow. She spoke up, sounding a lot more serious. “I think we got more on the way. So much for the element of surprise.”

Buffy nodded. “We should keep moving. Will, stay between us.”

Willow nodded emphatically, still wide-eyed.

Faith scanned the rooftops overhead. “Let’s hope they still keep on coming one at a time.”

Just as she said that another two came at them from the shadows, knives drawn. One pushed Faith to one side before she could use her bow, its knife blow barely being knocked away by the brunette’s arm. The other vampire bore down on Willow, teeth bared. Buffy snapped a low kick at it to get its attention, before backhanding it with her free hand. The vampire spun with the blow and lashed out at Buffy with its blade, gleaming steel striking her sword. Willow backed up to the corner of the alley, knuckles white as she gripped her stake.

Faith, bow abandoned, threw her opponent hard back against the alley wall, and rained a couple of telling body blows into it before driving her stake deep into the vampire’s chest. Both she and Willow snapped a quick look at Buffy as she blocked another thrusting dagger blow before kicking her opponent face-first across the alley.

Suddenly Willow yelped in surprise as somebody grabbed at her shoulder from around the corner. But Faith was faster, quickly kicking the shadowy figure so hard in the chest that it threw him back against a dumpster. Faith then raised her stake and moved over to the prone form, before driving her arm down.

Buffy turned as she finished off her opponent, just in time to see what was about to happen.

“Faith, NO!”

Bad Girls (PART 4: The Way It Could Have Gone)

Buffy, heart in her throat, raced over to Faith as she crouched over the downed man. His body laying slumped and limp against the dumpster. Willow stood stock still; her eyes followed Buffy as she squatted down by the other side of Finch. Buffy’s mind was frozen by the simple, searing fact that it had happened again. In spite of everything she had done, everything Faith had been through, this horrifying moment had been repeated, and Finch had been slain at Faith’s hand.

Except... when she looked down she didn’t see any blood on Finch’s lips, or any gaping chest wound. Buffy saw that even though Faith’s stake was pressed hard against Finch’s chest there was no blood. Then Faith gently moved her hand back and prodded his torso with the end of her stake. The blunt end. The sharp end was hidden in Faith’s fist.

“It’s just some dude.” Faith said evenly, her breath shaking a little from the adrenaline.

“You didn’t..? I thought you were going to...” Buffy didn’t say anything else; her chest seemed to seize up.

Such a powerful wave relief washed over Buffy that for one brief moment she felt like laughing, she actually felt the giggles building up in the tightness of her chest. But she focused and stopped herself; maybe she should just give Faith a big hug instead.

Willow was sympathetic. “That was a close one, Faith. I mean, what kind of guy goes around grabbing strangers in alleys, anyway. Big, dumb... man.”

Faith shook her head slightly. “Felt something was off when I kicked him. Way too soft to be a vamp.” She prodded him again, “Think I knocked him out though, he banged his head pretty good.” She sounded a little guilty.

That was when Buffy laughed, huffing out big snorts of delight. She couldn’t help herself. Finch was alive and Faith was worried that she’d made him bump his head. Life was wonderful.

Faith gave Buffy a puzzled look. “Y’know, B. When they say laughter is the best medicine, they mean it for the one who’s actually in pain.”

Willow spoke up quietly. “I don’t see any other vampires nearby. But still, not the best time to get the giggles, Buffy.”

Buffy waved a hand in apology as she cupped her other hand over her mouth and tried to control her breathing. “I’m sorry. I just...it’s just all the adrenaline. I’m fine, really.”

Faith seemed to be considering something. “Yeah, well. What’re we gonna do with him. We need to get to the warehouse now before they realise their guards are toast.”

“You took out the last of them. They’re unaware, for the moment.” Angel spoke up from the shadows. Willow let out a small eep of surprise.

Buffy stood up and looked over at him. “Angel, glad you could make it. But this guy isn’t just anybody, it’s the Deputy Mayor.”

Faith leaned over to grab her discarded bow before standing as well. She shrugged. “Politician, huh? Well, makes me feel better about kicking him.”

Angel crinkled his forehead. “So he’s important. The question is; what was he doing in this part of town?” He asked pointedly.

Buffy stared hard at the prone man. “I’m thinking he was looking for us. No way is this coincidence.”

Willow thought about it. “Hey, maybe he just wanted to give both of you a-a...good citizen award or something. Because of all the, y’know, good deeds and stuff.”

“And the dark alley at night was what? Just t’add mystery?” Faith shook her head, “Guy’s up t’somethin’. Or maybe he’s in trouble and needs our help.”

Buffy looked around. “We can’t just wait around wondering. We need to move.”

Faith nodded. “’Kay, this guy’s comin’ with us, so we can keep an eye on him. Red and I’ll find a ladder, get up somewhere high.” She handed her bow to Willow, “You and Angel kick in the front door, and make some noise, and I’ll be there t’back you up.”

Angel nodded and gestured over his shoulder. “There’s a fire escape on the north side that leads up to a back office. It should be a good enough place to stash your friend there.”

“Be careful, both of you.” Buffy watched Faith as she easily hoisted the limp but breathing form of Finch onto her shoulder. With a slight smile and a wink at Buffy she headed off into the shadows, Willow quickly followed leaving Buffy and Angel alone.

Buffy tried to ignore all the giddiness and relief that she was feeling about the near miss and focus on Angel and the upcoming battle. She moved cautiously towards the front of the warehouse and waited there for a few minutes, readying her sword. “How many of them are in there.”

“Eight or so, and something that used to be Balthazar.” Angel seemed a little hesitant, “Did I, ah, hear you laughing back there?”

“Uh...yeah, it was a thing. But relax; wacky Buffy’s taking a break.” She stopped by the front entrance and inclined her head towards it, “Anything else I should know?”

Angel thought about it. “Do you know any fat jokes?”

Buffy nodded. “Quite a few actually.”

Angel gestured at the front door. “Then you’re good to go.”

Buffy quietly opened the door and heard Balthazar’s grating, angry voice echoing through the warehouse. “...you will find them all! The Watchers and their allies. You will bring the slayers to me!”

Buffy spoke up in a puzzled voice. “But I’m already here. Oh, do you want me to go over there so you don’t have to shout so loud?”

“Slayer!” Balthazar squawked from a prostrate position in his water tank. The group of vampires that surrounded him turned as a group to face her, a couple of them drew swords.

Buffy held up a hand. “Please, don’t get up.”

The fat demon burbled angrily. “You have something that belongs to me slayer, and I will have it.”

Buffy began to close the distance, slowly moving towards Balthazar. “Okay, so how do you want to do this? Oh, lemme guess, you want to win it from me in some sort of...pie-eating contest?” She said brightly. From the corner of her eye Buffy saw Faith appear from the upper shadows, readying her bow.

“Very droll.” Balthazar barked, “But no, I will simply pry it from your cold dead hands...when they are brought before me.”

Angel stepped forward, his face demonically twisted in preparation for the fight. “Actually, in that case, you’ll want my cold dead hands.”

“Enough. I’m already bored. Kill them!” Balthazar roared and the vampires rushed them both.

With a small nod of satisfaction Angel charged three of the group, driving them off into one corner of the warehouse, while the other five fanned out to try and flank Buffy. But she didn’t stay still; instead she swiftly went at one of the assassins, swinging her sword to drive him back and to the side so that she could leap up onto the loading dock and took the high ground before they had a chance to surround her.

The vampires all changed their direction immediately, one vampire quickly clambering up over wooden pallets to land next to Buffy. Another of the lead vamps paused to briefly touch his chest in puzzlement, his fingertips brushing over the tip of the arrow that had appeared there before disintegrating to ashes.

Buffy delivered several stinging jabs to the vampire to her left, driving him back, and then lashed out to kick another vampire in the face as he tried to climb up after her. She then ducked the returning vampire as he charged, sweeping her sword down to trip his legs so he sprawled onto the solid concrete ground as he went past.

Across the warehouse Buffy saw Angel backhand one vampire across the face before kicking the other in the crotch, slamming a hard knee into his downed opponent’s face so he tumbled away before head butting the first vampire back into a stack of packing crates. He then grabbed an attempted kick by the third vampire before yanking him forward into a brutal clothesline that slammed him to the ground.

Buffy kicked one vampire back into his companion, slammed a boot down onto his ankle so he dropped to one knee in agony, she then sliced her sword crossways at the vampire behind him, smiling grimly as her blade caught him at neck height and beheaded him.

Another vampire, charging in behind her, screamed in pain as he burst into a moving dust cloud. Faith was making her shots count.

Buffy blocked a downward hacking blade before punching her assailant under the chin, elbowing him in the throat, then grabbing and twisting him around, throwing him through the air so he slammed hard against some nearby oil drums.

Buffy now turned to face two vampires, one of which busily pulled an arrow out of his neck and threw it to one side; his face was a grimace of hatred and pain.

Suddenly he was smashed off of the raised group and impacted hard down onto a packing crate, Buffy saw Faith drop to the ground next to her, hands letting go of the rope she’d swung down on, and then she pulled out a hand axe from her jacket.

Faith grinned at Buffy. “Always wanted t’do that.”

“Glad you decided to drop in.” Buffy smiled, “Get it? Drop in. Boy, tough warehouse.”

Faith shook her head even as she eyed up their remaining opponent. “These guys haven’t got that much to smile about, B. Let’s put ‘em out of their misery.”

“I’m cool with that.” They then both moved forward swiftly, weapons clashing together as the slayers surged off of the high ground, driving the vampire down onto the warehouse floor. Buffy caught her foe under the chin with a brutal knee, before catching him in the side with a snap kick and then a roundhouse to the head then sent him flying.

She saw Faith viciously punch another vampire as it surged at her from behind a crate; she caught him hard in the face with a one-two combination before grabbing him by the hair and spinning him around, and then redirected him so he flipped onto his back. She brought her axe down in a gleaming arc to chop him at the neck and finish him.

Buffy snapped a look to Angel who was handily dealing with the last of his opponents; another two unconscious figures lay about him. Buffy’s vampire was the last one and he fought back like he knew it, attacking her with a strength borne of desperation. Buffy ducked under a frantic swing of his sword to kick him in the back of the knee, smashed the pommel of her sword into his face as he twisted for balance and then spun around, blade extended at head height, to neatly decapitate him.

Buffy turned to smile at Faith but her victory was short lived. With a gasp of surprise Faith was lifted through the air and sucked back by a wave of rippling, distorted air, which seemed to paralyse her even as it dragged her backwards into Balthazar’s waiting grasp. His podgy hands coiled firmly around Faith’s head, his grip strong enough to ignore her as she struggled to get free.

“Now, slayer. You have no choice. You or your vampire will GIVE. ME. MY. AMULET!”

Buffy froze, eyes darting over to the overhead light fixture she’d pulled down the last time, but it was too far away. She tried to stall him.

“Right....your amulet. What did it look like again? Was it gold, or, y’know, is that too flashy for a demon that clearly has body issues...”

But then she saw Willow. The redhead was standing on the overhead catwalk, hefting an axe over her head then she swung it against a support cable. There was a small burst of electrical light as sparks flew and then the overhead lamp dropped down into Balthazar’s tank of water.

The demon roared hideously and dropped the struggling Faith to the ground. He flailed and splashed as arcs of electricity coursed over his bulging, glistening flesh. The skin smoked and reddened and a sickly sweet odour filled the air. With one last, surging cry, Balthazar heaved his last, his skin blistering and splitting as he did so.

Buffy scrambled over to Faith as the dark haired girl picked herself up, shaking her head slightly. “What the hell was that?”

Buffy caught her under the arm to steady her. “Some demon-y superpower. So, was it better or worse than heat vision?” She said lightly, relieved.

Suddenly the waters around Balthazar surged as he righted himself, his eyes fixed themselves on Buffy and Faith as they turned to him, startled.

“Slayers...” He growled, his voice hushed and liquid sounding, “You think you’ve won?” He gave a harsh, gargling chuckle, “When he rises....You’ll wish I had killed you all.” With a wet rasp he breathed his last, his hideous features twisted in a smile.

“Cryptic last words.” Angel replied dryly as he joined them, “You two okay?”

Faith shrugged. “Little woozy...I’m cool though.”

Buffy nodded before looking upwards. “Uh, Willow?”

The redhead waved down from her vantage point. “Hey guys, you all good? That’s good because after that just happened I’m going to go now because I think I’m going barf.” With that Willow hurried along the gantry towards the exit.

Faith blinked slowly a couple of times. “I should go and fetch that guy...” But Angel put a hand out to stop her.

“I’ll do it.” Angel said, “You shouldn’t go clambering around high places any time soon.”

Faith didn’t argue and let Buffy lead her out of the warehouse.

*****

“What’s happening tonight?”

The fresh-faced politician squirmed in his seat, the personification of nervousness, and clearly uncomfortable being the centre of attention. Buffy stood next to him while Willow, Oz, Xander and Cordelia sat round the table, looking at him warily. Wesley and Giles were half-glancing through the documents Finch had taken from the town hall.

Finch swallowed. “He calls it... the dedication, it’s, ah, v-very important to him. I’m not really too clear on the details. He mentioned something called an Ascension and, uh, a hundred days.”

“That’s one creepy sounding boss you got there.” Faith commented dryly. She was sitting cross-legged at the end of the table, examining her fingernails.

“And you’re certain of the fact that this ritual takes place at midnight tonight?” Asked Giles then more thoughtfully, “That tends to be a very auspicious time for castings, especially powerful ones.”

“That doesn’t leave us much to work with though, what, four hours at most.” Angel said as he paced back and forth across the library.

“Well, it could be this is how the Mayor maintains his ageless appearance as we discovered in the historical records.” Commented Wesley, “An immortality spell linked to lunar cycles could very well...”

“It’s nothing to do with the moon.” Oz said firmly.

Wesley turned to him. “Are you sure? My calculations...”

Oz gave a wry smile. “Trust me, it's not.”

“It’s his hobby.” Willow smiled and patted Oz’s arm. Wesley looked bemused.

Buffy turned back to Finch. “What else can you tell us?”

Finch shifted slightly. “Well, after your attempted...that is, the break-in at the town hall, security was heightened. About ten or so guards are on the grounds day or night, with another four armed guards on the second floor at all times. Plus, there are some... mystical enchantments. I wasn’t privy to any of those.”

“Our tax dollars at work.” Xander snarked before asking Finch, “How can you stand to work for this guy?”

Finch shrugged. “It was all...necessary, to begin with, trying to keep a lid on the town’s more unhealthy aspects. Trying to protect people from things that...they wouldn’t be able to deal with. We were doing good. But...all of this year, um, things have been different. He’s been more concerned with something else.”

“And I’m guessing it not election time.” Buffy said, “That tribute-sacrifice thing in the sewers, that was big. Plus he’s obviously afraid of Faith and me interfering. This is more than just a stay young and pretty kinda deal.”

“’Dedication’ is a rather vague term.” Replied Wesley, though he did glance in Giles‘ direction. Giles, though, seemed preoccupied with his own thoughts and didn’t add comment, “Most likely an appeal to a demonic patron for power or protection. They can be rather...tricky to perform, or so I’m lead to believe. ‘Ascension’ is even more of an odd term.”

Finch gestured to the folders that had been in the back seat of his car. “What about the documents I brought, will they help at all?”

Giles, who absently flicked through a few more of the pages, nodded. “Yes, this is all very detailed. Judging from these notes the Mayor has obtained quite a few, ah, esoteric items over the years.” He looked over at Buffy, “With some research we should be able to narrow down possible spells, counter-measures he has in place. And, ah, find a way to counteract them.”

“Good, because whatever this deal of his is, it’s not happening.” Buffy turned to Finch, “The Mayor, I’m guessing he’ll want you there tonight.”

“W-well yes.” Finch swallowed and nodded, “But now I’m here, you can protect me, right?”

She shook her head. “No, you’re going to go back to him. You say that you saw Faith and me fight and kill Balthazar, but it took a lot out of us. We got injured. That should help him relax a bit before his big night.”

“I’m not sure that’s a good idea, B.” Faith spoke up, “Ol’ Finch here doesn’t look like the ‘cool under pressure’ Donnie Brasco-type. He’s gonna squeal.”

Xander tapped the table. “Yeah, I second that movie comparison.”

Oz looked thoughtful. “Guys, depending on how twitchy the Mayor is, we might not have a choice.”

Buffy looked around at the other slayer and at her friends as she explained. “Agreed. If Finch doesn’t show tonight then the Mayor will be even more paranoid, and I don’t want him to see us coming until it's too late.” She then gave Finch a hard stare, “I’m sorry, but we haven’t got another option, you have to go back. But only until we get there, then you get out as fast as you can. ‘His honour’ will be too busy with us to worry about you.”

The younger man blanched at the thought. Maybe Faith was right, but Buffy couldn’t see another option. They needed anything to get the Mayor Richard Wilkins to lower his guard just a little. They needed a little surprise on their side.

Finally Finch nodded. “If I have to do it, then I should go now. The sooner the better and put any suspicions to rest...and I’ll tell him about Balthazar. Good news always makes him, uh, very chipper.” Reluctantly he got out of his chair and looked over at Buffy, “Thank you for doing this.”

With that he made to leave the library.

Buffy watched him go. He was a weak man, a man complicit in the deaths of who knows how many others, no to mention the evil schemes of a truly horrible person. But he was also somebody who, ultimately, had wanted to help them before it was too late. He hadn’t deserved what happened to him the last time.

But then again, neither did Faith, there had been two victims that fateful night, and in a way two lives had ended.

Angel moved over to Buffy. “I’ll help him find his way back, and stake out the town hall in the process. See if I can get a sense of their security patterns, locate a weak spot. When you show, I’ll find you.”

Buffy gave him a nervous smile. “Be careful.”

Angel simply nodded and left in Finch’s footsteps.

Wesley gathered up Finch’s papers before speaking up in his most commanding tone. “Mr. Giles and I will see if we can’t uncover something more about this dedication, and what it could be regarding.”

Buffy watched as Wesley and Giles went into his office. She frowned; Giles had been a little too quiet, like his mind had been on other things. She thought about trying to get him alone and ask if he was okay, but there really wasn’t the time.

Xander looked over at Willow. “So, you burned a demon. You’re becoming quite the stellar witch there Will.”

“Technically, I boiled him.” Willow said glumly, “With an electrical thingy, not a fireball.”

Cordelia held up her hands. “Oh, please don’t mention the smell again, or the anything else about that story ever. I think you’ve put me off hot-tubs for the rest of my life.”

Xander looked upset at that. But Willow just shrugged. “Well, all I know is that I’ll never want to eat bacon again...or ever really, cause of the whole Jewish thing. But still, it was so horrible.”

Buffy gave her friend a comforting smile. “That’s the perils of field work there, Will.”

Oz stroked Willow’s shoulder. “And if it’s any consolation, the way you tell it, that demon guy sounded really rude.”

Xander nodded in agreement. “Yeah, like French rude. He so deserved to be fried.” He turned to Buffy, “So, Buffy. Tonight, what’s the plan of attack? D’you have any thoughts on stratagems or blueprints and stuff.”

“I do,” Buffy nodded and looked over at Willow. “How about it. You up for some juicy hacking to take your mind off of other things? We could do with you getting some blueprints from...”

Willow interrupted excitedly. “...From the water and power mainframe. I’ve hacked that before, it’s a sinch.” With that she moved over to her laptop and started to power it up, all her bad thoughts lost for the moment.

Buffy looked at Xander. “Okay, Xand, I need you to get together all your walkie-talkies from your Nighthawk days. We’re gonna need them for a coordinated strike.”

Xander stood up. “They’re back at my place. I’ll go fetch and slip into something a bit more commando-y while I’m there.”

Cordelia got up with him. “A lot more commando-y actually. You’re wearing a Snoopy shirt.”

Xander paused to think about it. “You could come with, help me pick something out. If you wanted.”

Cordelia smiled widely. “Okay.”

Buffy sighed and called after them. “Guys’ don’t be too long, okay.”

“We’ll be real quick.” Xander said. Cordelia raised an eyebrow at him, “Actually, forget I said that.”

Buffy watched them go before turning to Faith. “So, what do you think; me, you and Angel in a frontal assault, with the others, Giles, Willow and Xander, going in by the roof. Then they can disrupt this ritual thing before it gets going.”

Faith shrugged, seemingly a little distracted. “Sounds solid. ‘S long as I get to pound somethin’ I’m good.” With that she slid off the table and made her way over to the weapons locker.

But Buffy stepped in front of her and caught her eye. “Are you okay, any, uh, side-effects from the fight?”

Faith just shook her head.

Buffy smirked. “Then what’s up? Impending violence not doing it for you these days.”

Faith sighed. “It’s nothin’. It’s stupid...it’s The Rustic Inn.”

Buffy tried to follow. “The...Rustic Inn, is stupid? What did they ever do to you?”

Faith chuckled a little. “Nah, it’s just...today while you were out I called ‘em up. They’re out on the edge of town, great views, and private cabins near the woods. All snugly but kinda expensive.” Faith shrugged awkwardly, “Anyway, they had a free cabin...and, I guess, I booked it... for tonight. I thought, after Balthazar, we could, y’know, relax. Now that’s a bust.”

Buffy, pleased, smiled a little. “You booked somewhere for us, already?”

“What can I say blondie, you make an impression.” Faith shook her head, “Anyways, its stupid, what with all this evil stuff goin’ down. I guess that’s more important.”

Buffy thought about it. “Okay...so how about you go and phone these people up, you explain that you’re going to be arriving late, because car trouble or whatever, and that it’s going to be past midnight when you get there, but you will get there.” Then Buffy reached and took Faith’s hands, “They’ll understand if you call ahead. And they’ll save you the room. Then after all this is finished...we can celebrate and have a long Sunday.” Buffy looked up at Faith through her lashes.

Faith gave her a searching look before smiling widely. “You sure?”

“I’ll tell Mom I’m bunking at Willow’s and having a non-slaying day.” Buffy smiled at her. “And what can I say, you make an impression too.”

Faith grinned and quickly moved over to the book cage, seemingly energised. “In that case, I’ll get the weapons organised, thinkin’ nothing too fancy; plenty o’ stakes, holy water, crossbows for the Scooby’s. And maybe we can use Oz’s van as mass transport, all of us gettin' there together, plus a quick getaway.” Faith turned and nodded determinedly, “this Mayor-guy isn’t gonna realise what hit him. Bank on it.”

Buffy blinked a little in surprise. She smiled, a little impressed. “Look at you, getting all commander-y.”

“Yeah, well, I’ve got the best motivation.”

Bad Girls (PART 5: The Way It Is)

Oz pulled the van to a stop across the street from the town hall; the building looked deceptively quiet at this time of night, only a few dim lights in the foyer giving any indication that there might be people inside.

Wesley turned and looked into the back of the van at the others. “Now, if we can all synchronise watches.” He hissed dramatically, “I have just after...”

Buffy raised her eyebrows and Faith smirked as they both lifted up empty wrists. Willow looked sheepish as she did the same.

Wesley sighed. “Yes, Typical.”

“Well, we’ll all just have to count, huh guys?” Xander spoke up from the back, “One-Mississippi-one, One-Mississippi -two...”

Impatiently Faith opened the side-door and stepped out onto the street. Cordelia, eager to be free of the cramp confines, quickly followed. “I still don’t see why we couldn’t have stopped off for some throw-pillows along the way. Damn lumpy amp.”

“Let’s all try to be a little more cautious and circumspect shall we.” Giles warned as he got out of the passenger side, “Now, Oz, do stay with the van and keep an ear out for any...” He gestured to the walkie-talkie on the dashboard.

“Got it.” Oz nodded simply, appearing the soul of calm next to Wesley’s fussy nervousness, though Buffy noticed he did give an uneasy glance back at Willow as she followed Xander out of the van.

So did Faith. She leaned over and patted his arm through the open window. “Hey, relax, man. B, Angel and me are gonna be in the danger zone. They're not even gonna know Will’s doin’ her little spell.”

Out on the street Xander and Cordelia, both dressed in more commando-y outfits, which for Cordelia only meant slightly less designer clothes, stepped to either side of Willow, holding a couple of bags of ingredients for her approval. Giles held onto the backpack containing the book the disruption spell was in; his mind still seemed to be somewhere else though.

Buffy took him to one side. “Giles, is everything okay? You’re kind of...spacey tonight.”

“Oh, ah, well. It just feels that we’re rather being overtaken by events, that’s all. No matter.” Giles frowned before looking at her, “But afterwards, everything being well, if you could come back to the library...I-I have some things I’d like to share with you.”

Buffy looked at him, her concern obvious. “What’s with the cryptic, you’re starting to worry me.”

Giles made a placating gesture. “Please Buffy, don’t take it amiss. It’s just some, ah, information I acquired this afternoon, specific knowledge with which we’ll finally be able to act.”

Buffy nodded in understanding. “Act? Well that’s good, with the acting. To act is to do things... and means it can be made better, right?”

Giles gave a tight smile. “Quite. Anyway...”

Buffy turned to the group to see Xander leaning in close to Faith. “Thanks for the courage.”

Faith smirked at him. “No prob, Xand. Anythin’ to help ya keep that bounce in your step.”

Xander gave a smile that was half pleased and half embarrassed, before an annoyed Cordelia pulled him away.

Buffy turned to them. “Okay gang, just so we’re clear, when we bring the noise, get up onto the roof. Angel will cut the power to take out the alarms, but any mystical ones you’ll have to deal with yourselves when you see them.” Buffy held up her walkie-talkie, “When I give the signal cast your disruption spell and then we’ll go in after the Mayor.” She paused and remembered, “Oh, and if you see a cute little backpack up there, it’s mine. It’s a present from Faith so if you could bring it back with, I’d appreciate it.”

“Break and Enter. Magic, magic. Steal. Get out. For the last time, we got it.” Xander said, “Now stop mooching around and go and kill something.”

Buffy and Faith left them to skirt around the town hall. As they moved to the left side of the building Buffy watched as her friends disappeared into the thick shadows opposite with a slight sense of unease. Hopefully her friends wouldn’t see too much action tonight. But all this was a chance they couldn’t pass up, taking it to the Mayor, getting at him before his Ascension had even begun.

Then, big relaxing for the rest of the year, except for those creepy telepathic demons and the devil dogs at Prom.

As the two slayers made their way to the low wall near the sidewalk Faith shook her head in mock disappointment. “Can’t believe you lost my present like that, B. Little careless if ya ask me.”

Buffy pouted. “For your information I was battling the forces of darkness...and had to leave it behind when I, uh, strategically withdrew...out a window.”

“Shoulda taken me along with.” Faith commented but held up her hand before Buffy could reply. “Here comes our boy.” Faith gestured to Angel as he moved over quietly to them.

“I spotted maybe four of the Mayor’s men in the lobby; a couple more are looking out of the windows on the top floor, not exactly alert.” Angel looked between the two girls, “I just saw Giles and the others, what’s the plan?”

Buffy thought about it. “Frontal assault. Confusion. Sudden violence. Draw most of the security down to the ground floor. Then you cut the power and I let the others know it's time to infiltrate from above. Giles says that the spell they’re gonna cast is a specific disruption spell to mess up the...” She tried to remember the words he used.

“Ritual of Laudation.“ Faith finished, “It’s a whole big brown-nosing deal, means this dude gets to become unkillable for a long stretch.”

Angel took this all in before nodding. “Right. Let’s go to work.”

With that the three of them made their way towards the building. Faith, bow strapped across her back, kept to the shadows on the right, while Angel purposefully moved up on the left. Buffy pulled a stake from her jacket, her eyes watched for signs of movement or alarm, while in her mind the words speed and surprise kept repeating themselves over and over like a mantra.

All three of them mounted the step a few feet from the door when the area was flooded with light from bright overhead halogen lamps. The front foyer doors opened and a mass of smartly dressed vampires made their way out onto the front of the building. There were move than ten, maybe half a dozen more again, that fanned out into a loosely organised mob. At their rear stood Trick, dressed in stylish but muted dark blue suit and casually carrying a sword in one hand.

He grinned. “Good evening Slayers. I’m guessing you don’t have an appointment?”

Buffy tried not to look worried as she surveyed the grinning mob of vampires; she gripped her stake tighter in her fist. “So much for the welcome committee.”

Trick shrugged easily. “Well, this is what you wanted, right? Make a lot of noise, draw everybody outside.”

Buffy felt her heart sink. “Finch.”

“Slimy little bastard.” Faith muttered.

Trick chuckled. “Knew he was hidin’ something the moment he came back. For what it's worth he held out for as long as he could, hell, I was almost impressed. The Mayor...wasn’t.”

“So where is he now?” Buffy asked as she reached behind her and started to untuck the walkie-talkie from her belt; she had to warn her friends before it was too late.

Trick picked his teeth with his tongue as he gloated. “Late night snack in the end. That’s the price for not being loyal.” Trick waved a dismissive hand, “But it don’t matter what files he stole, your friends ain’t gonna be able t’bring the cops here. Not till it's too late anyhow. Mayor will be all set by then, and you won’t be around t’tell your side of things.”

Buffy felt a sudden surge of relief and pulled her hands back. ‘Finch didn’t tell them everything, this could still work.’

Angel glowered at Trick. “One chance, step aside.”

“Well, check out the pair on Angelus over here. Sorry buddy, I don’t care how old y’are. Your three.” He gestured to the three of them, “Don’t beat my full house. ‘Specially without your ace.” He then turned to his men. “Take ‘em down. And don’t go sampling until I’ve got a taste, y’hear.”

Buffy and the other two took wary half-steps back and turned so that they covered each others backs as the vampires moved forward. “So, five each?”

“I’m just gonna stake whatever’s not breathing.” Faith growled as she tossed her bow into the bushes, the weapon being no good for an up-close brawl.

“I’m standing right here.” Angel protested mildly.

And then the vamps charged, crashing into the three of them as they twisted and feinted, twirled around each other, parried and redirected, punched, kicked and staked. Buffy saw Faith stake one vampire she threw against another, she saw Angel punch his stake into one guy he knocked to the ground before he was overwhelmed. Buffy herself managed to stab and dust two vamps before her stake was knocked from her grasp and she was grabbed from behind. There were just too many of them and before long two vampires were holding her roughly, her arms pulled tightly behind her back.

She snapped a look to see that Angel and Faith were being grappled in the same way. Buffy squirmed against her captors as she managed to get one hand pressing down on the button of her walkie-talkie. “Let us go!” She said.

Trick walked over, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. “Lemme think about that...nope, not gonna happen.”

Buffy grunted as she kept her finger on the transmission button. “You can’t win this.”

“Can, will, have.” Trick stated and cocked his head, “And I don’t hear any sirens so I’m guessing that yours friends didn’t make any impression on the cops. Anyway...”

He stepped closed, his eyes yellow, fangs bared at Buffy.” I hear once you’ve tasted a slayer? You never want to go back.”

Faith was fighting hard against her captors; she managed to wretch one arm loose. “Get off of her!”

Angel snarled as he tried to escape. “Buffy!”

Trick was amused at their struggling as he moved closer to Buffy’s bared neck. “Well, look at you. Aren’t you popular.”

Buffy glared at him. “Oh, yeah. I’ve got a whole bunch of friends.”

That was when headlights suddenly appeared from the street and the light flooded over them, the sound of a gunning engine filled the air and Oz’s van mounted the sidewalk at top speed, the front of his van ploughing into the assembled group and striking full on. Immediately four vampires were sent flying off their feet and through the air, to smash back and through the glass fronted foyer.

Almost instantly the side door slid open and Wesley leaned out, a crossbow held in each hand. He shot once and the bolt buried itself in the back of one of the vampires holding Buffy. With a strangled snarl it was dusted. In an instant Buffy was lashing out a foot at Trick, heel smashing him under the chin so he collapsed and rolled backwards, Buffy then pivoting and punching the vamp to her left, clenched fist impacting against soft throat before jabbing a hard right to the ribs, leaving the vamp gagging down on one knee.

Buffy scooped up a dropped stake and whirled with lightning quickness to bury it in the back of one of Faith’s captors while he just stood there, still confused by the frenetic events around him.

Faith took advantage and viciously head butted the vampire next to her, before grabbing his lapels and throwing him around, dashing him to the ground, his face slamming hard against cracked concrete paving.

Wesley had already adjusted his aim as he again fired into the melee, his second shot sinking into the neck of one of the vampires now grappling with Angel. The creature let out a strangled cry and let go of Angel to clutch at his neck, allowing the souled vampire to twist the arm of the other vamp, breaking his grip, and incidentally, his wrist, before slamming a straightened forearm across his chest that smashed him to the ground. He then twirled with balletic violence to kick the first vamp low in the stomach and yank the bolt from his neck before plunging it home to finish him off.

Faith kicked the vampire that was near her on the ground with such force that he flew back and up to collide with another two running that were running to his aid. Buffy threw the brunette her stake before grabbing another one from her jacket, ducking a clumsy grab from a vampire before catching him in the chest with a solid roundhouse, a quick backhand and then a vicious kidney punch before spinning him to the ground.

One staking later and the vampires were looking distinctly thinner on the ground.

Faith jumped over to the pile of vamps that struggled to right themselves, throwing hard right after left to send them tumbling across the ground as they tried to scramble away. She slammed her stake into the back of one before spinning into a deft roundhouse that sent a second flying in Angel’s direction. Still using the discarded crossbow bolt Angel quickly finished the job, brutally staking the stunned demon in the back.

Buffy watched as the last remaining vampires that were still conscious ran off into the night, their loyalty to the Mayor fading as their numbers dwindled. Surprisingly Trick was staying, standing square and centre with that easy smile still on his face, made slightly less appealing by his demonic yellow eyes and vamp face.

Buffy twirled her stake at him. “Seems like your brilliant plan didn’t really paid off like you wanted, Trick.”

Faith cracked her knuckles as she stood next to her. “Just watch it, B. He’s probably gonna dazzle us with his next one when he tries to high-tail it outta here.”

Trick backed up a little, still smiling. “Well ladies, I’ve always been less ‘dazzle them with brilliance’ and more ‘riddle them with bullets’.” He swiftly put one hand into his jacket before pulling out a dark, compact machine pistol and pointing it at the three of them, “It’s a new age my friends.” With that he opened fire.

Buffy had frozen when she’d seen the gun, mostly from surprise, but partially from the overwhelming sense of unfairness. Since when do vampires use guns? Was that even allowed?

But Angel had never stopped moving, he knocked Faith off to his right so she rolled across the ground and behind some low bushes. Simultaneously he shoved Buffy hard in the shoulder; she tumbled forward into cover behind Oz’s van.

The staccato sound of gunfire cut through the air and Buffy saw Angel hurled off of his feet as a burst of bullets tore into his chest. Trick fired another volley at the van, sweeping the gun back and forth; Buffy heard the pinging of metal on metal as bullets punched holes in the side, and zinged off of the ground underneath. She saw both Oz and Wesley had taken cover behind the front wheel well.

Buffy turned to Wesley and mouthed. “Crossbow?”

Wesley gestured helplessly to the back of the van, indicating that in the scramble to get to cover he’d left his weapons behind. She guessed that it was too much to hope that his competence would last more than a few minutes.

“Slayer.” Trick called out in a sing-song voice, “Hey, c’mon now and stick your head out. I’ll make it quick. Plus, if you don’t I’m gonna have to dust your boy right here.” Trick’s voice changed as he mused to himself, “Y’know, I’m tryin’ to decide whether to just stake this mother or try somethin’ else. See, back in... hell musta been thirty one, I saw a vamp get dusted with a Tommy gun. That many bullets got shot at him that they just tore his head right off his shoulders. It sure was somethin’ t’see.”

Buffy risked sticking her head out to see Trick standing over Angel, who was groaning with pain and clutching at his chest. Trick held the gun loosely in one hand while the other reached into his jacket pocket and withdrew a sharpened stake that he held loosely by his side. Casually he let loose another round directly into Angel’s head and Buffy cried out in shock as Angel jerked and then lay still. Trick’s head snapped up and brought the pistol up towards her.

Then Faith made her move.

She rushed at Trick from the side, she kept low and she was only a couple of feet from him when he spotted her and started to turn. Faith must have lost her stake while she was diving for her life because now her hands went to the gun, grabbing it yanking it up and away from both of them before slamming a fist into Trick’s shoulder and wrenching his wrist backwards so that he lost his grip. The gun clattered to the ground as Faith spun and delivered a perfectly delivered punch to Trick’s face. But the vampire took it well and simply stepped forward and drove his sharpened stake up into her chest.

Buffy saw the sharpened wood punch into Faith’s jacket just above where her heart should be. The vampire did it with such force that Faith was lifted off her feet, Trick’s other hand caught her shoulder, turned and flung her dismissively backwards and to the ground. Faith bounced as she landed in a limp heap, hands clutching at her front, back arching in pain.

Buffy felt a deafening roaring noise in her head as she broke the cover of the van and sprinted straight towards Trick. Her legs pumping hard before they pushed off the ground when she was about six feet away and she drove the heel of her foot hard into his face. She landed, ducked under a wild swinging stake before slamming clenched fist after fist into Trick’s stomach and chest, then hopping forward on one leg to smash a fierce elbow to his face.

Buffy parried a skilful stake thrust and shrugged off a solid right hook before both of her arms seized his left arm, the one holding the stake, and pulled Trick forward and off-balance. With all her strength Buffy twisted Trick’s arm until she felt his elbow grate and snap, then tugged the limp arm up and back on itself, the stake sinking deep into Trick’s chest.

“...Didn’t see that comin’...” He said as turned to dust.

Buffy then wasted no time in running over to Faith, the dark-haired slayer lay prostrate, the occasional cough racked her body as she struggled to breath.

“Faith!” Buffy knelt next to her and put a hand on her t-shirt, which was already soaking wet. Faith groaned and coughed weakly, “Oh, god! Faith, please...just don’t move. You’re gonna be okay.”

“Ow...” Faith hissed, one hand clutching at her jacket, “Damn, think I’m busted.”

Buffy shook her head frantically as she searched her pockets and then Faith’s for a rag, anything to stop the bleeding. She pulled out Faith’s battered wallet and a candy wrapper, nothing else. “No! Faith, you’re not gonna die! You hang on, you hear me...”

Faith wrinkled her face and looked up at Buffy like she was crazy. “I know that B...my flask...its busted.” She carefully reached into her jacket and pulled out her silver flask, which was now steadily leaking strong smelling bourbon from a jagged hole where the stake had punched it. “First thing I ever stole. Dammit.”

Buffy blinked and gasped before grabbing Faith and pulling her close. Squeezing her hard in relief Buffy felt like laughing or crying, she doubted her heart couldn’t take another near-miss like that tonight.

Faith squirmed. “Ow...Buffy, jeez. You tryin’ t’finish me off?”

“Oh! Um...sorry.” Buffy pulled away anxiously as she relaxed her grip, “You really scared me, Faith. You’ve gotta be more careful.”

Faith raised an eyebrow as she slowly sat up. “Hey, saved you from getting your ass shot off...just didn’t see the wood is all. What kinda vamp uses a stake anyhow.”

“One that’s riddled with bullets.” Groaned Angel as he sat upright, one hand clasped protectively over the side of his face, “Haven’t been shot with that many bullets since the war...”

“Angel!” Buffy winced as she turned and looked at him. She wanted to see if he was okay, but at the same time didn’t really want to leave Faith, “Are you, y’know, okay?”

“I’ll live. Did you kill him already?” Angel sounded slightly disappointed that he hadn’t witnessed it.

“Sorry. I know he deserved a long slow death but... he pissed me off.” Buffy stood as Faith got to her feet, her hands supporting the dark-haired slayer’s waist, “Are you going to be alright?”

Angel stood up as Oz and Wesley came out of hiding, both armed with stakes.

“All well?” Wesley piped up in a strained voice.

“Man, Angel. You’re really shot.” Oz remarked dryly.

“I’ll be okay.” Angel grunted, before gesturing at the two slayers, “But you better get going, there isn’t much time and I’ll only slow you down like this.”

Faith gave up attempting to wring out her sodden t-shirt as she walked over and picked up her bow. “Angel’s right. Clock’s ticking, B.”

Buffy nodded. “Right.” Then she quickly stooped and snatched up Faith’s wallet, best if they didn’t leave things like that lying around.

Then there was a squawk of static from her radio as she heard Xander’s voice. “...Guys, are you okay? We heard guns; I mean it sounded like guns. Did Oz do a drive-by? Because if it was I so should’ve been in on that part of the plan.”

Buffy smiled tiredly as she answered. “We’re good. Faith and I are heading up now. Five minutes to cut the power and then you guys get casting, got it.”

She heard Xander mutter. “...dammit, I forgot to say ‘over’. Roger that Buffy, we’ve got you six, Nighthawk out, over.”

Buffy raised her eyebrows at Angel. He just nodded. “I’ve got it, just go, now.”

The two slayers turned towards the building, Buffy with two stakes, Faith with her bow. Stepping over shattered glass and broken vampires they disappeared inside.

*****

Buffy and Faith were in the top floor stairwell when the lights went out, flickering for a moment and then blinking off.

The two slayers had been moving cautiously but quickly up through the building, watching their backs for signs of any other vampires, but nothing. Trick’s mob was probably all of the Mayor’s forces but it still paid to be careful.

Buffy pulled out her small flashlight, holding it in her left hand she turned it on and shone it at the floor. Her right still gripped a stake.

“All set?” Faith whispered.

Buffy nodded and cracked open the door, she heard confused murmurs in the corridor beyond. More vampires? How many did the Mayor own?

She gave Faith a cautious look as she quickly peered into the dark to see four figures standing by a set of double door over to the right.

Buffy held up four fingers to the other slayer, before stepping out into the corridor. The four figures turned in confusion towards the two girls.

“Any of you order an electrician slash vampire slayer?” Buffy asked perkily, she shone her flashlight at them. She saw four demonic faces grimace in discomfort in the light, before all four of them raised their arms and pointed handguns at the two of them.

‘Oh, for fu...’

Faith slammed into Buffy’s back and the two collided with the wall opposite as the four vampires opened fire. Muzzle flashes illuminating their silhouettes as boom after boom of gunfire reverberated down the corridor.

The two slayers took cover behind a long mahogany table which they tipped in front of them.

“Shit!” Faith gasped as she jerked her hand back, “Guess these guys have a shoot first bite later deal going on.” She ducked as a bullet tore a hole in the ceiling, showering them both with plaster dust.

Buffy grimaced as she tried to make herself as small a target as possible. “Yeah, I’m really hating that whole second amendment thing right now. Stupid founding fathers.”

“I’m pretty sure dead guys don’t have the right to bear arms, B.” Faith muttered dryly. The gunfire ceased, presumably because the vampires were reloading. “These guys don’t have any rights, that why there’s girls like us.” Buffy held her breath as Faith stepped out into the corridor, in a side on profile and quickly drew her bow, unleashing two arrows in quick succession before ducking back against Buffy, grinning broadly. “Got one.”

The gunfire started again immediately, holes tearing out of the carpet, and chips of wood flying off nearby corner tables. None of the bullets seemed to come close to either girl. Then Buffy remembered something.

“Darla.” She muttered thoughtfully.

“Huh?” Faith struggled to hear her over the gunfire even though they were close together.

“First year I was in Sunnydale. A vampire came at me guns blazing.” Buffy remembered, “I mean she emptied two guns at me and hit pretty much nothing.” She looked at Faith, “These guys have even worse aim. The only reason they’ve got us pinned down, is ‘cause they know where we are.”

“And they’ve got the advantage ‘cause some bright spark decided cutting the power was a good idea.” Faith snarked.

Buffy frowned as the gunfire abated again. “Hey, I like my plan. I didn’t hear you objecting at the time.”

Faith shrugged as she risked a peek out. “I told ya, when you get all bossy I get distracted. It's abuse of power is what it is.”

Buffy shook her head. “The point is vamps aren’t good at hitting slayers if we keep moving, and split up. We won’t get anywhere pinned down like this.”

“Got it.” Faith tucked and rolled out into the corridor, coming up on one knee to fire another arrow at the demons before throwing herself sideways and crashing against a door opposite.

Buffy flipped a stake in her hand so she holding the base of it, before diving forward and rolling across the floor. Coming up on her haunches she flipped her stake end over end until it buried itself in the chest of one of the remaining vampires. He even managed to look slightly impressed as he was dusted.

The two remaining vampires frantically reloaded as Buffy sprinted down towards them, her last stake tightly gripped. One vampire raised his gun and snapped a shot off, Buffy banked sharply left to avoid the bullet, jumped up and to her left, kicked off the wall to rebound right. She landed, tucked and rolled forward, to come up and throw her stake at the vampire as his gun tried to bank towards her. The stake flew true until it was snatched out of the air by the other vampire’s hand.

‘Crap! I so deserved to pull that off.’

The first vampire grinned as his gun levelled with her face...before an arrow sunk into his chest and he fell backwards, dusted. The other vampire threw Buffy’s stake dismissively to one side and pointed his gun at her, cautiously turning side on so Faith couldn’t nail him in the heart with an arrow. He allowed a small grin of triumph, even a bad shot couldn’t miss her from where he was.

Suddenly behind him the conference doors crashed open and Xander barrelling into the vampire from behind, tackling him around the legs like a football player. Surprised, the vamp fell forward and slammed heavily to the ground, his gun slipping from his grip in the process.

Cordelia hurriedly stepped over the two men as they scrambled to get up, and, stake held high, she brought it down and jabbed it firmly into the vampire’s back, before popping back up and grinned. “I did it! I finally got one!” She pointed at Buffy, “And you totally owe me for the save.” She said brightly.

Xander grunted as he still struggled. “Uh, Cordy. Guy kinda didn’t go anywhere!”

Buffy pointed down. “You, uh, missed the heart there, Cor.” Cordelia eeped in surprise as Buffy grabbed the stake from her hand, “Let me.”

She pounded the stake down hard and the last vamp was dusted.

Cordelia huffed. “That still counts as mine though. Or I should at least get an assist.”

“Then what do I get.” Xander complained as he picked himself up and patted vamp dust from his jacket.

Cordelia rolled her eyes. “Oh, please. I saw you trip over yourself.”

He shrugged awkwardly. “All part of my master plan.”

Buffy tried to get them to focus. “Thanks guys, but did Will and Giles get to complete the spell?”

Cordelia thought about it. “Well, it did get really stinky. So I guess something went right, unless it all went kerplooey.” She shrugged helplessly.

“Okay then, just stand well back.” Buffy stepped back and turned towards what must be the Mayor’s office.

Faith was listening against the door as she readied her bow. She notched her last arrow and frowned at Buffy. “I still hear chanting goin’ on. Somethin’ Latin-y?”

“Let’s knock and find out.” Then Buffy kicked out hard at the double doors, dark wood splintered apart as the lock tore itself free, revealing a large gloomy room beyond, a conference area that had been cleared of furniture.

The only objects within were a few scattered arty looking statues, a cage in the far corner where one of the El Eliminati was being held captive, and Mayor Richard Wilkins the third, kneeling in the centre of a pentagram, the flickering candles at its corners cast weaving shadows across the walls.

Faith scowled and raised her bow as Wilkins finished the last of his invocation. Then followed a rumbling that seemed to grip the entire building, doors banged and clattered, Buffy heard the distant sound of breaking glass and a few of the nearby statues tottered, one falling over with a dull thump.

Smiling in satisfaction Wilkins stood and brushed off his knees before reaching into his pocket for a handkerchief.

He regarded Faith with a mixture of amusement and disapproval. “Now girls, you’re a little late to the party, what with all that property damage and bursting in without even knocking.” He shook his head, “And didn’t you’re elders teach you not to point weapons at people.”

Faith sneered. “What can I say, my elders don’t know jack.”

“Well, that’s a grim outlook for such a young lady like you to be having.” He sighed, “Not that it matters. The incantations done. I’m...impervious, as in can’t be harmed. The magics have done their job and now there’s nothing for you to do but run, missy, because by morning I’ll have the entire police department out looking for the both of you, not to mention all your law-breaking little friends.”

Buffy tilted her head. “Oh yeah? Well, we’ve got magics too, and I’m betting that your little powwow didn’t work as well as you think.”

“Yeah, it’s a nice bluff Dick, but I call.” With that Faith stepped forward and swiped her foot through the pentagram, smearing the dark powdered line and kicking over one of the candles so it spluttered and died.

“Oopy.” Buffy looked at Faith, “Look what you just did. You see, this is why we can’t have nice dark rituals.”

Faith nodded in agreement. “Can’t take me anywhere.”

“You insolent little girls.” The Mayor snapped.

Then they heard something, a murmuring sound that seemed to come from all around them, a distant roar like hearing a stormy ocean from far away, but getting ever closer. Buffy noticed that the shadows on the walls were writhing strangely, dancing and jumping but not like they were reacting to the candle light, their movements were too rhythmic.

Faith took a wary step back and lowered her bow as she glanced at the walls cautiously, Buffy watched as the shadows whirled faster and faster, now bending and twisting along the walls, waving like shadowy branches in the wind, dark tendrils reaching across the ceiling towards each other to merge and coalesce above Wilkins himself.

Wilkins looked up, his expression showing a flicker of fear for the first time. “Well...gosh.”

Then he screamed as the shadows burst out and seemed to pour down over him as if it were pure, liquid darkness, blotting him from sight. All the surrounding flames guttered and snuffed out, plunging the rest of the room into gloom. Buffy didn’t see what happened next; she only made out a wet crunching noise that wasn’t quite drowned out by the roaring cacophony of unintelligible whispers.

Faith cast a wide-eyed look at Buffy before suddenly, with a blast of hot, fetid wind, the shadows dissipated and the electric lights flickering to life, revealing that there was nothing left in the circle but a heap of clothing that the Mayor had been wearing; all other traces of him were gone.

Buffy grimaced. “I really could’ve lived without ever hearing that, on a side note I’m probably never going to eat lobster, like, ever.”

Faith let out a shaky breath. “Guess the guy got what was comin’ to him, B.” Her eyes twinkled a little as she suddenly smirked, “End of the day, just like any other politician. Empty suit.”

Buffy rolled her eyes. “It’s nice to see that you’re still unfreakoutable. Does anything get under your skin?”

“Yeah. Unfinished business.” Faith narrowed her eyes and stepped forward into the room, cautiously treading around the outside of the broken pentagram until she was only a few feet from the cage in the corner. And the vampire that was inside it.

Faith chuckled huskily. “Well, look-y here. Was just thinkin’ about what I was gonna slay next.”

The vampire growled. “Slayer. Release me now.”

Faith tilted her head. “I dunno. Is the rematch ever as good as the original fight?” With that she simply drew back on her bow, arrow quivering with tension.

“You would slay me while I am defenceless?” The vampire glowered as he rattled angry against the cage, “Where is your honour?”

Faith’s voice was cold. “Left it in my other pants. That’s too bad for you, huh?” With that she let the arrow fly and bury itself in the vampire’s chest; all he could do was he grimace as he turned to ash. Faith turned and smirked at Buffy, her ruthlessness gone. “Like shooting vamps in a cage. Hey, y’think that could be a new saying I just created?”

Buffy wrinkled her nose. “Like the fish in a barrel thing? Could be. Not the sort you could really drop into casual conversation but still...”

“Wow, check out the swinging den of evil this guy has going on.” Xander said as he popped his head round the door, “Very cool...evil, still evil. But also cool.”

“Well, you didn’t speak to the guy. Talk about lame squared. Evil Mr. Rogers.” Faith shook her head in disgust as she walked back towards them.

Buffy took one last look around and nodded, daring to maybe think it was actually over. “Yeah, I think we’re done here. I’ve had all the excitement I can stand for one night.”

“Gotta say B, sorry t’here that.” Faith stepped closer to Buffy, an easy smile on her face as she leaned closer, “’Cause I was planning on giving you another heart attack.”

Buffy smiled a little shyly as she looked at Faith. “Well...I meant bad excitement kind, not, uh, good excitement. My quota is way down on that stuff.” Then she wrinkled her nose, “Although, on the down side, you smell like a drunk.”

Faith looked down at herself and almost pouted. “Guess I should probably change before we get all cosy.”

“Agreed.” Buffy leaned forward and kissed Faith warmly on the cheek, “That’ll have to you satisfied until we finish up.”

With that the two slayers moved back into the corridor, met up with the others and made their way outside into the quiet night. They found Angel, Wesley and Oz standing by the van, saw there collective relief as the two groups met.

Willow pouted at Oz. “Your van! Your beautiful van.”

Oz gave her a gentle hug. “It’ll live again. Summer project. One of the speakers didn’t make it though.”

Willow sighed. “I will remember him always.”

“Her.” Oz corrected gently, “All speakers are female. You didn’t know that?”

Willow simply shook her head.

Giles regarded a rather frazzled Wesley. “Perhaps you’d care for some tea.” He offered up a flask.

Wesley smiled thinly. “Ah, perhaps something a little stronger, Mr. Giles.”

Giles smiled in understanding. “Welcome to the field.”

Xander stared at Angel’s face. “Don’t be the one to wanna tell you this man, but I think you're getting a zit.”

Cordelia agreed. “I’m not surprised, with those pores.”

“I was shot, okay.” Angel replied grumpily.

Giles turned to Buffy. “Well fought Buffy, I take it the Mayor is no more?”

“He got taken.” Buffy wrinkled her nose, “Or scrunched, or chewed, or whatever. He’s gone.”

“All those decades of prep work, down the drain.” Xander shook his head, “So much for forward planning. See, this is why, as a man who lives in the now...”

Cordelia interrupted. “Sweetie, nobody wants to hear your slacker philosophy. Now come on and walk me home.”

Buffy smiled as she watched them both walk away into the night. A couple that somehow worked in spite of the two people involved. At least Xander seemed happier this time around.

She turned to see Faith helping a stiffly moving Angel into the back of Oz’s van. Willow was running her fingers over a bullet hole in the side of the van. “You okay Will?”

Willow was a little wide-eyed. “It turns out Oz was in way more danger than I was.”

Buffy offered a comforting smile. “How did it go, with everything?”

Willow found her own smile. “Intense and spooky, but also...everything went really well. For us, I mean. If it went well for the bad guys... that would’ve been bad.”

“You really went all out tonight, Will. With Balthazar and now this. Very slayer-like.”

Willow shrugged bashfully. “Well, you slayers do need some mega-mojo in your corner occasionally. A-And I like to help, with the evil fighting.”

Buffy stepped closer and gave her a hug. “I kind of love you.”

Surprised Willow hugged her back. “Aw, I should have known mass battles get you all gooey.” She pulled back before blushing a little, “I-I mean emotionally gooey n-not...um, oh, look there’s your girlfriend.”

Buffy turned as Faith sauntered over. “Not making moves on my girl are ya, Red.”

Willow blushed and Buffy slapped Faith’s arm. “Quit teasing. So what’s the plan now?”

Faith’s face twisted anxiously. “Well B, that’s the thing. There’s somethin’ I gotta do that you're not gonna like.”

Buffy raised her eyebrows. “Oh, what’s that?”

Faith scratched the back of her head. “Well, it kinda involves me takin’ Angel’s shirt off...”

‘Huh?’

...continued in Consequences...

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