Potential
by Dylan
Rating: NC-17

Disclaimer: These characters do not belong to me, unfortunately. They are the property of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy and who-ever else owns them. I make no profit from this.
Timeline: Season 7. We settle into the season very loosely, and canon goes out of the window as I mix up some past events and their outcomes.
A/N: I couldn't help but start this now as it's been driving me nuts over the last few days. Don't worry, the end to New Beginnings is fast approaching and I already have the next chapter started, so it won't be forgotten. Also, some older fics of mine that still need finishing will be tended to, but like I said...I just wanted to get this going. It won't be a long fic, just a bit of Fuffy fluff. Hope you enjoy the beginning :) Oh, and you'd be advised to check out what I said about the timeline to keep pointless questions from cropping up :)

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CHAPTER ONE

I'm officially bored of these girls now. I was bored over a week ago, but they just keep coming. My house is now overrun with them and getting two minutes alone is becoming impossible. Giles says we have to give them shelter and protect them, I say let them find some other chump to put them up; we don't have space, and I don't have the patience for their squabbles and their constant questions.

I've tried my best, and even attempted to get to know them, but there's too many now and I have to prepare for the saving of the world. . .again. The latest addition to the pack of potentials is driving us all insane. Giles calls her feisty, but most of us call her a pain in the butt. She's been here four days and managed to annoy or upset nearly everyone, including me.

I thought Kennedy was bad with the questioning and the provoking, but this girl is seriously lacking in tact.

The other day she asked if Spike was the resident vampire for stake practice, wanting to know if it would be ok to take a shot and see if she could get it right first try. When I told her she couldn't she asked me right out if I was screwing him. Of course, I said no. . .but not until after my jaw had hit the floor and my eyes did that threatening thing. I had no clue why she'd assumed that, I haven't been with Spike in a long time and don't plan to at any point in my future.

She just laughed, telling me she knew the score and that she'd keep it on the down low. I don't want her to keep anything of mine on her down and lows, thank you very much. I told her as much and she just slapped me on the back and left the room, continuing to laugh.

It's obvious she has no respect for authority, or at least mine. Giles doesn't seem to have too much trouble getting her to do what he wants, but she just ignores me and the rest of the gang. Willow asked if I could have a word with her today, but whenever I try she just comes out with a smartass comment or does that twisting thing where everything you say gets turned into an innuendo. I promised Willow though because the girl is clashing with Kennedy big style, and with Kennedy being Will's new girlfriend. . .it's not of the good.

I can't tell Willow that I like Kennedy even less, but I still have to try to keep the boat steady. Giles is right after all; these girls need us right now. They need each other if we're going to survive.

I make my way around the house in search of her, stepping over kicked off shoes and discarded cups and plates, sleeping bags and blankets. I hear giggling and before I have time to move I'm being jostled aside by three girls chasing each other with a forlorn looking pillow. I just hope it isn't mine.

Looking around doorways and into rooms full of potentials learning about beasties and baddies from Giles, Anya and Xander, I come to the conclusion she isn't around. It makes me worry for a second because the girls aren't meant to be going out alone. There are Bringers out there just waiting for their opportunity to strike, and the local vampire contingent has wind of fresh potential slayer blood. And I'm not even going to mention the new uber-vamp that we've recently been introduced to. Nope, I'll leave him out for now, mainly because I'm still trying to work out how to kill him.

I'm about to ask if any of the girls have seen her, but then I spot movement in the back garden. I get closer to the window to take a better look. The sun is just getting ready to set, settling itself into that moment when the world looks all red and glow-y, like there's a giant roaring fire somewhere off in the distance lighting up the sky.

Her dark hair is all straight and devoid of curls today. She's moving her body into shapes and poses that I guess is some kind of Ta Chi. She looks calm, which is weird because since the moment she stepped through the front door she's been anything but. I didn't know she had it in her, but I guess I was wrong. Maybe Giles sees something I don't; he keeps telling me she's probably the next in line.

Watching for a few moments, subconsciously letting my body relax as if it's mimicking hers, I marvel at the whole concept of 'the slayer'. I mean, we've been around a long time. The slayer line keeps going, no matter what. I've seen it first hand. The night I died for Dawn - and the rest of the world - I caused Kendra to be called. We met once, but she was. . .well, she was a little weird. But still, we were both slayers, both existing together; so it was kinda neat.

We still chat on the phone now and then, and she knows what's going down here. Her watcher is bringing her this way in the next few days to help out. I'll be glad of the extra muscle, especially against uber-stinky-vamp. The whole thing baffles me, though. Maybe I've been doing it too long. I know I've survived longer than most slayers, and there's never been an instance when there's been two of us around at the same time. Things seem to have shifted, which is either good. . .or really bad.

Giles tells me not to worry. He says that hopefully - should anything happen to Kendra - the next slayer won't be as young as I was. If it's the 'feisty' girl outside then she'd be one of the oldest ever called. She's eighteen; just a few months short of nineteen. It still seems young, but I guess I'm just getting jaded. She doesn't act young, but I can't tell if she'd ever make a good slayer. She seems so. . .raw; like she has too much energy inside her. She's always joking around and purposefully irritating people. Xander says it's her defence mechanism, but I just think he wants her hot little body.

I chuckle, imagining Anya chasing her around the garden trying to keep her away from her man. There would be a monumental battle of a tactless nature, endless jibes about sex and then possibly some mud wrestling in the flower patch.

Shaking my head free of the disturbing image I make my way to the back door. It's time I tried to get her to step in line, or at least step somewhere near to the line so we don't have to toss her out to fend for herself. I wouldn't do that of course, but the thought is tempting. It would be one less girl in the queue for the bathroom at least.

"Faith," I call, waiting for her to finish her set of moves before beckoning her over.

There's something about her that I can't quite work out. It's like she has a million secrets and a thousand stories. Her dark eyes seem like they've crossed time and space and hold everything in the universe within them, yet I can't see anything when she looks at me. She hides it all. She keeps us all on the outside peering in; only showing us the dimpled grin and the flirty eyebrows.

I've known her four days, but I have no idea who she is. I know the girl that tells jokes and says things to me to get me to blush. I know the girl that likes to jump around and cause mischief and generally make Giles' hair turn more gray by the minute. I know the girl that has that walk that makes it seem like she's seducing the ground beneath her feet. . .but I don't know her. I don't know Faith.

I do know she's a potential, she's rowdy and exhausting, she's attractive and confident with it, infuriating but eager and smart, crude but sometimes kinda funny. . .and she's shrouded in something that seems almost dangerous. When she looks at me sometimes, I feel a tingle right in the middle of my stomach. If I didn't know any better I'd say she was some kind of weird vampire `cause I don't get tingles there from anything but vampires, but she's not. . .she's just her. And I really don't know what to make of her.

"Hey, B," she says in her husky drawl, stalking her way towards me.

I don't know who told her she could give me a nickname, but I haven't gotten around yet to telling her to stop using it.

She stops before me, her skin glistening with a light sheen of perspiration, the tattoo on her arm looking darker with its damp cloak. It takes me a second to lift my eyes from it to hers, and I realise I've completely forgotten what it is I was going to say to her. A puzzled look crosses her face as I just stand gaping at her like a mounted fish.

"You need something, B?" she asks and I blink a few times, trying to remember what Willow had told me to say to her. "Maybe you need me to help you with something? Stake a vamp, gut a demon, put up a picture, rub you down?"

I shake off my daze and furrow my brow. She's got that expression on her face that tells me she's thinking lewd thoughts and wants to share them to embarrass me. I certainly know that much about her. She does it to most people that react, and unfortunately she seems to enjoy mostly doing it to me. I have no clue if she's gay, straight, bi or whatever. . .but she has an uncanny way of making it seem like she's happy to tease or seduce anybody.

She doesn't mess with the younger girls or Dawn, she obviously has some standards, but the rest of us have been fair game to her, and now it appears like she's decided I'm the most fun to play with. She got bored of toying with Xander's obvious attraction to her when Anya brought up the fact she used to be a nasty vengeance demon. I don't know what she thinks she'll achieve with me, but I'm pretty sure it's not what she imagines.

I can appreciate the fact she's a very good looking girl, and I mean very in the extremely sense, but. . .I've never strayed across that particular line. Willow sleeps with girls, I. . .well, my bed-buddy past is shaky but there hasn't been anybody of the female persuasion in it. Despite the way her eyes seem to be trying to rip my top off right now, I'm pretty sure it's going to stay that way. No girls for me; especially not this one.

"I need to talk to you, Faith," I tell her, finding a little squeak to my voice that hadn't been there before. I ignore it and move back into the kitchen hoping she'll follow.

"I kinda got that much, B," she chuckles, hopping up onto the counter top. "What can I do for ya?"

I don't know how, but she made that sound rude. I choose to pretend I didn't hear her and poke around in the fridge for something to drink.

"Dammit, why is there never any soda left for me? This is my house, I should get first dibs," I sigh, shoving food this way and that.

"You just don't know how to look, princess," Faith tells me, giving me yet another nickname.

I'm not sure if it's a good nickname or bad. If she's being sarcastic then I'm going with bad, and I'm so gonna be pissed.

"I'm looking with every looking skill I have, Faith. There's no soda." I close the fridge and watch as she jumps from the counter.

She heads towards the basement and I follow. Either she's ignoring me and going to see Spike, or trying to show me something. She stops next to the basement door and opens an unused cupboard that's hidden away at the side, digging around in there as I wait. I didn't think it still opened let alone held anything of interest. With a grin, all dimples and lips, she jiggles two chilly looking bottles of soda at me.

I raise an eyebrow. She's been here just a few days and already has a place to stash stuff? Maybe she's not as bad as I thought. In fact, she gets a gold star today `cause she's giving me one of her sodas and I really need a cool drink right now.

"Thanks," I say, my smile genuine. "How did you. . ?"

"Thought it would come in handy to find a place to keep stuff. Lotta girls here all taking and snatching and leaving me with nothing, and nobody much comes back here on account of the vamp downstairs," she explains, the remnants of a grin still gracing her lips.

I chuckle and shake my head. The rest of the girls won't come back here, even Kennedy, yet Faith has no problem strolling downstairs and chatting to Spike when everybody else starts getting annoyed with her. She's certainly. . .different.

"And you even have ice in there," I nod appreciatively, taking the top off my ice cold soda.

"Yep, got a bucket of ice. It melts pretty quick but does the job." She swigs half her bottle and wipes the back of her hand over her mouth. "Hope I can trust you not to give the game away, or take too many of my goodies," she says with a wink.

I pause, wondering if I should tell her that technically whatever's in the cupboard is actually mine due to the fact it's in my house, but her smile leaves me without anything to say so I let it pass.

"As long as I can have the occasional bottle of soda, your secret's safe with me. Just don't tell Spike, he's bad at keeping secrets and he can't keep his hands off things that aren't his," I say a little bitterly, then take a nice long chug of my drink.

"Yeah, that's pretty much what I heard," she says, looking directly at me; like. . .right into my eyes. "He told me a few secrets, but don't worry. . .they're not going anywhere but up here." She points to her head and there's a mischievous bounce of her eyebrows.

I almost spit my soda right back out. He surely wouldn't have told her about us. And I mean the past us of the icky kind that I really want to forget about. Oh God, I can just imagine him recounting the gory details with that evil grin on his face, licking his lips and gloating. I'm so gonna beat him up. . .but that might just turn him on and I'm staying far away from that little problem.

"You really shouldn't spend time with him, Faith," I warn. "He's still a vampire, even if he is a little. . .incapable right now."

"Not what I heard," she says, her eyes roaming over me and making me shudder.

I shake the feeling, passing it off as meaning I feel gross for having to think about me and Spike. She chuckles and I narrow my eyes. Like I said before, I don't know this girl. She's not my friend. She's not even somebody I would want to make my friend, so why the hell am I even talking to her? I'm done with being irritated by her for today.

"Just stay away from him, Faith," I say sternly, thudding my half empty bottle down on the counter. I'm about to walk away and be done with the conversation when I recall my reason to even be here. "Oh, and stop winding Kennedy up, it's getting too much. If I have to hear her tell me one more time that you've moved her stuff, or left her boots out or looked at her 'funny' then I'm gonna kick your ass."

She nods, a little smirk drifting over her full lips. "Sure thing, boss," she says.

I stare at her for a moment, trying to think of more to say. Trying to look past those dark eyes so I can see if she's understood me. I see nothing but chocolate brown and a lifetime of knowing how to get her way. I know right then that she doesn't do anything she doesn't want to, or anything without a reason. The whole pissing everybody off deal is for a reason. . .I don't know how I can see it but I can. I don't know why she does it but she does.

There's a lot to learn about Faith, and I'm not even sure if I want to go there. Why would I? She's just another potential. Just one of the bunch. . .even if I did make sure I knew her name right away, and instantly realised her eyes were brown and her dimples were cute. She's just one of them; getting in my way and hogging my bathroom.

"There's a padlock in the second drawer down over there if you wanna lock your cupboard," I say, not turning around.

I'm not sure why I told her, but I can almost feel her smile as I leave the room and go looking for my jacket. I have the urge to hunt, and there are plenty of vampires roaming around right now for me to vent on. They're crawling out of the woodwork and trying to figure out what's going on, and I'm right there to show them the way.

I slip on my boots and make sure my stake is happily tucked away in my jacket. I know Giles doesn't like me going out alone right now, but I'm the slayer and that's my duty. There may be a whole lot of messed up stuff going on, but there are still vampires to dust and demons to kill.

Glancing back towards the house as I make my way into the oncoming night, I notice a figure stood at the living room window. It's Faith, watching me leave. She doesn't move and she knows I've seen her. I stand for a moment, just looking. She unnerves me and I don't quite yet know why. I could go with the obvious and say she's a spy and working for the bad guys, or that she's some kinda demon, or ex demon maybe, but I know she's none of the above.

I feel her eyes locked on me and find it hard to pull away. Maybe a few mindless killings will make me feel less. . .strange. She turns away before I do and I feel kind of cheated. If she's going to creep me out she could at least watch me leave properly; like all the way. I'm not even across the street yet.

Maybe she is a demon, sent to torture me before everything goes to hell with the new big bad. Maybe I need to stop thinking so much. I'm not stupid after all. . .I know what's going on in my head. Well, maybe not my head; I think the cause is a little further down. Still, it's throwing me for a loop and I don't have time to deal with new feelings or experiences. I don't have time to deal with Faith, and whatever it is she's making me feel.

I'll put an end to it right now. No more possibly, maybe, almost definitely thinking she's hot and all kinds of sexy. I need to focus. She's here for me to protect her not for me to have new and interesting thoughts about her. Suddenly feeling all gay - and not in the happy sense – is not going to get the job done, and I'm all about getting the job done.

I stride off into the darkness, sure that I can avoid any thoughts of Faith from now on. In fact, I'll avoid her altogether and that way I get to stay safe in my straightness, and she gets to stay unaware of how smoking hot my crazy mind has us looking together all of a sudden.

*****

When I get back from a fairly uneventful night of slayage I walk in to find all kinds of hell going on. Not of the demon kind, but of the Faith kind. I stride into the center of an argument and wait for them all to quiet down, hands on hips with my best glare in place.

"Willow, what's going on?" I ask her as she hovers at the back of the room.

"I'm not sure. One minute it was all peaceful, well, as peaceful as it ever gets around here now. . .and then the next, Faith and Rona are squaring off against each other and the rest of them are yelling and screaming, and then I started to hiccup and came over here to sit down out of the way. And then you got here," Willow tells me quickly, her face all bunched up in worry.

"Ok, so. . ." I look between Rona and Faith as they continue to stare threateningly at each other, "so far I get that you two are acting like nine year olds and you scared Willow into having hiccups, what I don't get is why, so spill," I demand.

Rona turns to me and points at Faith. "She started it," she says.

"No I didn't," Faith whines, her cocky attitude all on show. "She got all up in my face."

"Right, so you both really are nine years old and I'm gonna have to take your treats away? Seriously guys, this is pathetic," I sigh.

I'm sick of the squabbling. I've had enough of that living with Dawn all her life. This is like a bad replay of one of our most childish arguments. I hold the bridge of my nose, understanding now why Giles does it so often. I just want to bang their heads together.

"Do I have to bang your heads together?" I ask, glancing between them both.

Faith is smirking but Rona looks livid.

"It's cool, B," Faith says in that thick accent that comes out when she's trying to smooth things over or get her way. "It's over now. We're just wicked antsy having to sit around all the time. It kinda makes you itch to just get out n party or dance. . .or fuck."

She looks right at me when she says it and I can see the heads shaking all around me at Faith's crudeness. I don't blush this time but I can't turn my eyes away from hers; I know I have to tell her to behave, though.

"You won't be going out anywhere to do any of those things for quite some time, Faith, so get used to it. We're all in the same boat here, so stop fucking rocking it," I caution her coldly.

Willow lets out a loud hiccup and there are a few wide eyes looking my way. I'm not known for my foul language. Buffy doesn't swear; it's a rule. But I need to talk to Faith on her level, and it seems the girl was born to fuck. . .I mean, to say fuck.

I take a deep breath and glare at them both to sit down and play nice. They eventually do, though Faith still has a sly little smirk on her lips.

"Come on girls, time for bed I think," Xander says, clapping his hands to get their attention. "A good night's rest will do us all good. . .or at least stop us from killing each other."

Leaving the room, rubbing my head with the headache I can feel coming on, I quietly wish I was as good as Xander is with the girls. It seems to come naturally for him. Maybe it's because he's a guy that they rarely squabble with him. I just know he's great at stepping in and being all in control. They see him as a gentle giant, and I see him as my rock. He's always there for me to lean on, as long as I don't squick him out by talking about Angel or Spike. I don't think he likes me being around vampires much, and who can blame him.

I make my way upstairs and leave everybody to shove their way into clear spots in the living room to sleep. I still have my room to myself, and it's going to stay that way. Dawn is sharing with two girls and Willow and Kennedy are sharing. Xander and Anya seem to be bunking down more frequently together now too. Of course, nobody goes down to share Spike's space and that's all good. I don't want him near the girls. . .especially Faith.

I stretch out my tired muscles and attempt to relax as I turn the shower on, hoping I don't get interrupted. I'm craving hot running water, and not pounding fists at the door. I'll be quick, I know I have to be with them all hoping to run upstairs to brush their teeth and do their things before going to bed, but this is my house dammit so I'm gonna take a shower before they wreck the bathroom.

The shower does nothing to relax me, but I'm being pretty successful this time at not thinking about the brunette downstairs. I don't know what's got into me, but I have to get control of my mind, and my body. I can't allow some eighteen year old tough-girl to get under my skin. It's just wrong, and so not like me. I've lived a little over the past few years and Spike taught me not to be such a prude, even though that was so not a good phase for me. I won't be making scrap books of my time with him but it did loosen me up. Still, he was most definitely male, with all the right male parts. Male parts that are suddenly making me pull an icky face.

Seriously, I have so got to ask Willow to check if I'm under some kind of spell. That's all I can really put this down to. Sure, in the past I may – on occasion – have had a few naughty thoughts about other women; I hear it's quite a popular fantasy, even for totally straight girls like me. But never once before have I gone all lesbot and crushed on an actual real live girl I know.

This is new, and this is not going to be allowed to continue. I have too much to do. Too much is riding on me, and not in the good way.

I leave the bathroom all steamy and hot behind me, and as I close the door to my bedroom girls start to filter up one by one to the toilet. I'm safe on this side, from them, and from Faith. I can avoid her. I'll leave it up to Xander to deal with her outbursts and her fights from now on. I'm just here to do my job, which doesn't involve the lusting parts that seem to be creeping up on me. Faith isn't all that special; I can ignore those deep dark eyes and that tight little body, and those soft round. . .

Ungh! I'm under a fucking spell, I know it.

Keeping a firmer grip on my wandering thoughts I sit down at my Vanity and start brushing through my hair. It takes so much work now it's longer, but it's worth it; my hair is cute and shiny and that justifies the effort.

There's a bang at my door and I seriously hope they don't expect me to answer.

"Buffy?" Willow calls. "We um. . .we kind of need you."

If it's not a horde of vampires rampaging through the house she'd better duck and cover for disturbing me.

"What is it?" I snap as I open the door.

I can hear the commotion coming from downstairs and I don't have to be told what it is. I close the door enough to grab my dressing gown from the back of it and slip it on, dropping the towel I was wearing to the floor. I'm pissed now, and they're gonna find out what a pissed Buffy looks like.

Once again I stride into the middle of it all, my hair damp, my robe pulled tight around me, its shortness forgotten as I feel my anger boiling over.

"Ok, this time somebody is getting their ass kicked," I yell.

The room falls silent and I spot Rona and Faith once again staring each other down, only this time it's gotten physical as they're still clutching at each other. They have the sense to let go as I glare at them.

"I don't want to hear excuses, I don't want you to get all 'she started it', and I don't care what the hell it's about, just stop. Now," I tell them, clearly angry. "Get into your sleeping bags and sleep, and tomorrow I'm gonna start busting your asses with lotsa running around. If you all have so much energy to burn, well I'm gonna burn it. Both of you will be giving me fifty laps around the garden. . .and that's just for starters. The rest of you will follow if you so much as squeak one more time tonight."

I think I've finally flipped.

Faith opens her mouth to speak but I narrow my eyes and make it clear I'm not going to listen. She's smart enough to know not to push. Rona on the other hand is obviously a fan of running as she utters out her objections.

"That's so beyond unfair. Faith keeps fucking with me, saying I'll be no match for even Dawn let alone the vampires, and I've had enough," Dawn sighs in the corner and kicks at the chair. I'm sure she's sick of being looked down on by these girls now, as much as I'm sick of listening to them, still. . .Rona stupidly continues. "And there's no way I'm sleeping near her, she's a nightmare," she says, not explaining herself further.

"I wouldn't sleep near me either," Faith says with a grin. "As soon as you're out I'm gonna get the cheese from the fridge and rub it in your hair. Make it all smushy and nice for ya so ya stink of cheese for at least a week."

She seems proud of her little plan, and I wonder just what it is that causes her to be that way.

I let out a long sigh. I'm tired. I just want to get to bed and sleep. I don't really care what it is that Faith says to them, they all need to grow up. If they can't even ignore her pokes and jibes then they're gonna be useless against the kind of vamp and demon that likes to get you riled up with banter before they go in for the kill.

I'm no good at this motherly thing, and Xander seems to be sitting this one out.

"Fine, you can sleep in my room, Rona. The rest of you get to bed before I make you all camp out on the street," I say, actually believing I will.

"No, no, no," I hear all around me, "take her." They all point towards Faith, who just stands there looking pleased with herself with her arms folded.

They keep saying it, pleading with me to take her away from them so they can rest in peace, and I really need to tell them no but I don't. I rest my eyes on Faith and I'm certain I can see right through the tiniest chink in her armor for just a split second. As much as she caused it, she's pissed that they all want rid of her. Maybe even a little upset.

"Get upstairs, Faith," I tell her, softer than I wanted to. "Seems like you'll be sleeping in my room."

She catches my eye for a moment and I think I almost see gratitude, but it's quickly replaced by a smug grin as she tosses her clothes into a bag and throws it over her shoulder. She trudges up the stairs and I follow, leaving the rest of the house to settle down peacefully for the night.

I don't feel particularly peaceful myself. How am I meant to avoid Faith and the completely unwanted thoughts about her if she's sharing my room? I'm going to have to make a swap in the morning or go insane. This constant back and forth in my head over Faith is already making me nuts and distracting me. I almost got jumped by a lucky vamp tonight, all because I couldn't stop thinking of Faith's ass in leather. Much like I can't stop now as it sways ahead of me ascending the stairs.

It's time for me to get my own armor out because there is no way I'm going to give in to Faith and her completely unreasonable sexiness. I'm glad she hasn't progressed – so far - from mildly teasing me into coming onto me; I don't think I could handle that.

Hell, I know I couldn't handle that and keep my sanity, and my vow to stay utterly and completely straight. I'll have to avoid my thoughts, because there will be no bending of Buffy. This Buffy is unbendable.

"So, which side do ya wanna take, or are we both just gonna sleep in the middle?" Faith asks with a wink as we enter my bedroom and she jumps onto the bed.

No bending here, not at all. Not even a. . .dammit she's hot.

CHAPTER TWO

A/N: I'd like to thank everyone for their lovely reviews of the first chapter to this. You certainly made me smile :)

The world is flat. The world is flat, I tell myself over and over. Hell, convincing myself of that seems to be a better option than trying to convince myself that I don't 'dig' Faith in that way that doesn't involve shovels.

She's resting back on my pillows with her hands behind her head, right in the middle of the bed. I told her to take her boots off and thankfully she did, but there's a hole in her sock that isn't looking too healthy. I shake my head and turn back to my hairbrush, sitting on my stool facing away from her. I can't quite put my finger on why I want to put my fingers on her, but I have to keep in control.

"You don't have a TV in here?" Faith asks, clearly seeing no evidence of a television.

"No, I generally use my bedroom for sleeping in, not for entertainment," I say, knowing it sounded kind of iffy as soon as I said it.

"You don't entertain much here then huh," she says, and I know for sure now I walked right into a Faith innuendo session. "Pity," she adds.

I'm waiting for more and I look at her via the mirror and see the definite grin gracing her full lips. She doesn't continue and I'm a little perturbed. Just when you think you know somebody they stop being that somebody. It's unnerving.

"I didn't mean like that," I push. "I do entertain, just. . .not via the means of television."

"Right, I gotcha. . .you've never done the home made porn thing. Good to know. I'll keep the camera outta the bedroom," she chuckles.

How did she get that from what I said? Am I just dumb and walk right into her traps? Who am I kidding, of course I'm walking right into her traps; she's so very good at blindsiding you until you just stumble ahead and she gets her way. I have to watch out for that, I can't go stumbling willy nilly into her when I'm meant to be responsible for her welfare and not responsible for her getting some smoochies and all that follows.

I look away from the mirror and concentrate on my hair. I can hear her shuffling around, pushing things around in her bag, sighing and shuffling some more. I want to look, I so want to look, but I don't. I can tell she's getting ready for bed and it would be so incredibly wrong to peek, even if my hand is gripping the brush so tight it's cracking.

"So," she says through a yawn, "sides, B. . .which one do ya want?"

I glance at her through the mirror and am temporarily dumbstruck. She's crawling under the covers and she's almost naked. The sheet is up over her chest before I see anything of interest, but I get a look at her shapely backside in some very tight little boi shorts. It quickly disappears under the covers but the image is imprinted on my mind. I thought her ass looked great in leather, but oh boy. . .with those tiny little black things she's wearing I think I may have just lost some of my 'straight' to the land of rainbows.

"Sides?" I utter stupidly.

"Yeah. . .you can't expect me to sleep on the floor, B," she says. "I'm a potential slayer; you gotta look out for me. Hell, Giles even thinks I could be the next in line, so I oughta get special treatment," she adds with a smirk and a bounce of her eyebrows.

I turn towards her, spinning on the stool. "You will not be getting special anything," I make clear, ensuring she knows I'm not going to be a pushover. "Take whichever side you want."

Kicking myself when I realise I hate sleeping on the right, I struggle to keep the word "doh" under wraps. Luckily she settles down on that side and I breathe a small sigh of relief. I say small and mean small, because how much relief can I possibly get when I'm all wound up over a hot chick that keeps looking at me like she wants to eat me alive?

Thinking about anything but Faith and her nakedness in order to get to a point I can get into bed without trembling, I turn away once more. This is ridiculous. I'm a grown woman who should be able to handle her desires, even if they do occasionally come from out of left field. It's new and strange but I can deal. . .I will not fall for the unique charms of the evil temptress with the holey socks.

Resolute that I'm in charge of myself and my urges I place my now broken brush down onto the Vanity and head towards my dresser to get something to sleep in. I'm expecting jibes and suggestive comments but all I hear is soft breaths with the smallest hint of a snore. She's fast asleep already. I smile despite my newfound resoluteness and just look at her for a second.

Her hair is flung behind her on the pillow as she lays sprawled out on her stomach. One foot is dangling off the side of the bed and her sock is hanging limply from it, half on and half off. I stifle a chuckle and can't help but think she looks adorable. There's no way anybody else in this house would ever team the words adorable and Faith together, but I think I'm seeing more than most of them allow themselves to. Or maybe she's just letting me see more than anybody else.

Whatever it is I can't argue against the fact it's endearing, and distracting, and just plain not of the good. This can not be happening to me. Not now.

I try to shake the feeling as I stand by the bed, the sudden urge to drop my robe and crawl in naked beside her shocking me to my senses. I can't allow this to happen, no matter how much she's making my butterflies all flappy and alive. I pull myself away, tug on a large tee shirt and slide cautiously into bed. She's taking up a lot more space than her small size would suggest, but I'm smaller so it's fine. If I stay right on the edge here I can avoid her arm that is flung up over most of my pillow.

Laying as stiff as a board that has been starched to within an inch of its life I attempt to fall asleep. It's not easy as all I can hear is her soft snoring, and all I can feel is her heat radiating towards me underneath the covers. It's like she's sneaking over to me but not moving. As if her body is pulling me to it without touching me at all. I've never really been a snuggler, no matter how much Angel and Riley tried to force me to be. It's just never appealed to me as much as laying in my own space so I don't feel smothered, but right now I'm having to force myself not to slide over to Faith and mould every part of me into her just so I know what it feels like to be that close to her.

I don't know what she's doing to me but I don't like not feeling in control like this. No man has ever made my head spin like this. Spike made other parts of me spin and that's just far too icky to even think about. . .but as far as wanting, desiring and yearning, I don't think anything has come close to this and she's only been around a short time. Maybe I was always a secret lesbian but just didn't know it.

I chuckle to myself and shake my head. No, I definitely wasn't always one of those, I would have known, and I wouldn't have been all gaga in love with Angel and stupid over Spike if I was really only ever wanting to play with the girls. I know this is real, though. It's real and far too raw to be anything but just what it is; the need to touch, to taste, to learn every reaction and every breathless sigh.

Lesbian or not I never perceived desire to be like that, not with any past lover. It was always just about scratching an itch, or confirming a deeper emotion. What I think I'm feeling for Faith is a burning kind of desire that defies all explanation, and that I just don't have the experience to handle. I could be in real trouble if she makes it any more clear she wants more from me.

Sleep starts to tug me under its wing and I feel Faith shifting beside me. All I can sense is the need to rest and a leg gliding its way over me, an arm tucking its way around me. I don't move. I'm too tired and too comfortable to move or to worry just now. In the morning I'll get Faith to switch places with another girl so I don't have to feel like I'm drowning under her sweet scent and her soft skin. Tomorrow I'll get to grips with this. . .thing.

*****

When morning comes I wake up feeling far from refreshed. It feels too early and too late all at once and I'm instantly wondering where Faith is as she's no longer perched on top of me like she was for most of the night. Surely I wasn't that uncomfortable to sleep on, or maybe she just likes getting up early.

I stretch and look at the clock and wonder if I'll be missed if I just stay here and snooze for another few hours. I don't have work to go to anymore on account of most of the school kids and teachers leaving town, and really. . .what is there for a slayer to do during the day? I guess I could pester Spike just to make myself feel useful, but I really don't want to spend any more time with him than necessary. Besides, he likes when I pester him; he gets all excited and grins like an idiot and I just know he's dying to let his fangs show, but he's smart enough to realize I won't stand for that. Not anymore anyway.

I eventually roll out of bed and trip over one of Faith's boots, cursing as I realise her clothes are already strewn all over my room. This girl is a walking nightmare, and she's haunting me.

The bathroom is free for once and I don't have to join the long queue to get in because there isn't one. I don't stop too long to wonder why, too busy needing to shower and get dressed into something cute but not too tempting for Faith and therefore me if she decides she's going to let me know she's hot for me. I really don't have much basis to think that she is right now. She could be hot for Giles for all I really know. Still, I guess the signs are there. . .what with her eyes dancing over my body when she thinks I won't notice and her little display last night in which she used me as her personal mattress.

The night was certainly a trial, but I came through unscathed. The sensation of having an almost naked Faith snuggled on top of me wasn't all that horrible, in fact. . .it was so not horrible I had to let my arm curl up around her and rest my hand on her back. Her skin is amazingly smooth, it makes me sigh just thinking about it. It was quite an ordeal having her naked breasts all pressed into me, all pillowy and warm and like slow and exquisite torture. I wanted to touch, to feel, but I'm not into taking advantage of sleeping girls. I just had to lay and ignore what it was doing to my insides as much as possible.

At one point her fingers had gently wound their way into my hair, softly twirling it as she slept. I had thought she'd woken up at first, but the snoring had continued in an unrelenting buzz. It wasn't annoying in the least - the snoring or the hair twirling - and that's even more surprising than me wanting to do all kinds of naughty things to her. Like I said. . .I'm not a snuggle-bunny. I don't like being clambered upon, but Faith's body was soft and warm, not big and hairy. It was nice.

I catch myself smiling in the bedroom mirror and roll my eyes. I'm a sucker for the bad types that have fuzzy insides I guess.

As I walk downstairs - wondering where everyone is - I hear the distinct sound of noisy girls making a ruckus, as Giles would say. I wonder if it would be ok if I slip out the front door and take the day off. I could use a break, or even a year long vacation. Maybe I could fly to Fiji and open a bar, making cocktails all day in a bikini for gross sweaty men that won't stop ogling me. Ok, so that's not looking like a great idea, but anything would be better than here right now.

The house is strangely devoid of potentials, mainly because they all seem to be outside in the back garden. They're chanting and cheering and I think about turning around and going back upstairs but then I hear Willow calling me.

"Buffy, I was just coming to get you so you can come and sort this mess out," Willow says, obviously under the impression that I'm these girls' mother. "Faith and Kennedy are trying to pull each other's limbs off."

I sigh, knowing I can't walk away from this any time soon. We make our way outside and immediately the girls hush a little, though the grunting continues from Faith and Kennedy as they struggle on the ground with each other.

"Should we just throw a bucket of cold water over them?" I ask Willow.

"I don't think that'll work. They've been winding each other up all morning. They were watching wrestling on TV, and then Kennedy told Faith she could beat her in a wrestling match any day of the week. It kind of escalated from there," Willow tells me.

I nod and tell her to get everybody else inside. They all retreat without question, walking backwards to make sure they don't miss any possible victories. There won't be any winners in this little contest.

"Ok, you have two seconds to break it up before I get the hose," I say loudly.

Neither girl lets go of the other. Faith has Kennedy in a headlock and Kennedy has Faith trapped underneath her on the muddy ground.

"No way am I letting go," Faith grunts, trying to wiggle out of Kennedy's grasp.

"Likewise," Kennedy says, her mouth muffled against Faith's boob.

Wait, that's not good. She can't go putting her head there, not when I. . .have semi-claimed it, even though I have no intention of using it. I scrunch up my brow and try to focus.

"Then I guess I'm gonna have to use force," I wade in, yanking Kennedy up by her shirt and Faith by her arm.

Both girls wince, though Faith more so than Ken.

"Shit, B. . .way to pull my arm off," Faith whines, grasping at her shoulder.

Maybe I was a little rough. Sometimes I don't know my own strength.

"Pussy," Kennedy taunts, straightening herself out.

I turn my attention to her and hit her with my best glower. "I'll show you pussy if you don't get inside and out of my hair," I say, noticing the slip of my tongue too late, aware of Faith's little snicker beside me. "This little rivalry is getting tedious. I might have to feed one of you to Spike, and right now. . .I'm thinking your blood would make a tasty snack," I tell Kennedy.

She shakes her head and looks down her nose at me. "I guess it's clear who's the favorite around here huh," she says.

I glare some more and she gets the hint to leave. Faith is grinning and it's so not helping me to be mad at her, especially as she's still holding onto her shoulder.

"Did I hurt you?" I ask, moving closer to her.

"No, B, I normally stand around holding my shoulder and pulling this face," she says, pointing to the pained expression she's wearing.

"I'm sorry, but I did warn you," I point out.

I lift my hand to touch her shoulder. I need to make sure it's not dislocated. She hisses a little as I give it a gentle squeeze and I can't figure out if there's any real damage. I don't wanna prod and poke and hurt her some more.

"I'll get Willow to take a look at it; I don't wanna hurt you further."

She furrows her brow and shakes her head. "Red ain't taking a look at anything of mine."

Her eyes look worried, like the last thing she wants to do is give somebody access to her in a way she's not in control of. I'm guessing she maybe has trust issues, or it could be that she just doesn't like Willow. I'll mention somebody else and see if she freaks out the same.

"How about Giles?" I ask.

She looks at me like I'm crazy and starts walking back to the house, still with her hand at her shoulder. Ok, so I need to fix this. She seems pretty pissed that I hurt her, and maybe even a little more pissed at the fact I want everybody to fondle her but me. I can just tell that's what it is. I know a huff when I see one, I'm the queen of storming out. I need to see if she's going to trust me, then let her know I'm here for her. . .as a mentor of course.

"Faith," I call softly, wanting her to stop, "can I take a look at anything of yours?" I meant her shoulder of course, but the words are out now.

She stops and turns around before getting to the door. "Of course, B," she says, looking into my eyes. "I thought you woulda got that by now."

Those expressive eyebrows do a little jiggle and she grins a big dimpled grin. I just stand staring at her, trying to work out what exactly she means. I guess it's fairly obvious what she means but I'm not known for my perceptiveness when it comes to people who are into me, so I'm just running through the checklist in my head to make sure I'm not being extremely arrogant.

She carries on making her way into the house as I stand gaping at her. She probably thinks I just totally blanked her.

I eventually follow, ignoring the girls as they watch us take the stairs up to my bedroom. They're all pretending to do their own thing but I bet they're wondering if I'm gonna kick her out or something. They're fools if they think I'm gonna lose somebody with this much fight in them when we're headed for an apocalypse.

Faith slumps down onto the bed, sitting on the edge as I close the door behind us. I move closer, watching her fingers rub at her shoulder.

"Let me take a look at that," I say, sitting beside her.

She doesn't speak, choosing to pout instead. I haven't seen her pout before and I have to say it's totally cute. Cute with a side order of kinda sexy; but then pretty much everything she does is sexy in some way. I wonder if she knows that about herself, I mean truly. I'm aware she knows she's pretty hot stuff, I get that from the way she carries herself and the way she flirts. . .but I wonder if she knows how deep it goes.

I could tell her right now that it goes right the way through her. Her sexuality is thick and heady, it makes you want to reach out and touch it just for a second, just to feel it burn you. I can't reach out and touch that way, though. . .I know I can't, as much as I now understand I want to.

Lowering her hand she lets her gaze rest on me, her brown eyes boring into me, watching mine as I look at her shoulder. I touch it softly, moving it around as she holds her breath. It's not dislocated but I'd given it a good yank, probably jarring her muscles. My fingers rub at her and she stops flinching, relaxing into my hand.

"It should be ok," I tell her, not daring to look up into her eyes. If I do I'll be lost, I know it. "Just be careful with it."

"Thanks," she says, her voice taking on a soft tone that I don't think I've heard before. It's still husky and seductive, but less full on.

I make the mistake of looking up and am instantly engulfed in deep dark brown, her eyes pulling me in like magnets. She has to know how much she affects me, but I can't let her think I'm a willing participant to this.

"What you said outside," I say, planning to tell her that it can't ever go as far as she might want. "I'm not certain what you meant but. . ."

She interrupts. "You know what it meant," she says with a little smile. "I wanted you from the first fucking moment I saw you, B."

My mouth drops open, not so much because I'm shocked but because now I can't avoid the fact she really does want me. She said it, plain as day. It's out now and I can't cram it back into a box and put a sticker on it that says "ignore me".

She just looks at me curiously as I try to stutter an answer, her eyes twinkling and mesmerising me.

"You can play dumb if you want, Buffy," she says, "but I know you're hot for me too. I caught your eyes when you first saw me, they were all dilating and crap. You couldn't hide that."

I blink, desperately wanting to deny it. "It was dark," I practically stammer. "My eyes were adjusting to the light. . .the lack of the light."

I'm cringing inside at my smoothness and she chuckles and looks away for a split second giving me time to breathe. Her eyes land back on me and I'm wound up in them all over again, my heart beginning to thump loudly in my chest. I wonder if she can hear it. If she were a slayer and not just a potential she'd most definitely hear it, and possibly catch the fluttering in my stomach.

"It wasn't dark, it was me," she says slowly, her voice dropping to that deep husky tone, sending a shiver up my spine.

Her tongue creeps out over the cleft in her lower lip and I can't move. I need to tell her I don't like her like that. I need to make it clear that we're never going to get hot and sweaty together but I can't. I just sit and watch her tongue, wishing I could throw myself at her and take it into my mouth.

There's all kinds of tension between us and I feel smothered in it, coiled up in her eyes and her scent; in the way her lips are just poised, ready for me to kiss them. I close my eyes, not wanting to see so I can't be tempted, but I can still feel her. I sense her heat and her need and I can hear how her breathing has deepened, like she's about to lose control and just dive on me.

My eyes are screwed up tight, but I feel the bed shift and I know she's leaning forwards. I wet my lips in anticipation even though I'm not in any way shape or form going to allow her to kiss me. I couldn't possibly. Under no circumstances. Never.

She stops moving and I hear her laughing quietly. My eyes shoot open to see her grinning from ear to ear at me.

"You ok there, B?" she asks, still chuckling. "Looked like you were expecting me to hit ya or. . .something."

I was definitely going with the something.

"I was just. . ." I shake my head. I don't have to explain myself to her. "Faith, whatever it is you thought you saw when we first met, or just then or whenever, you're wrong. I don't like you like that. I'm not. . .we can't. . ."

Sighing, I stand up and take a few paces away from the bed, my hand brushing through my hair as she watches me.

"Look, B. . .it's no big. I get it. I like you and you like me, but you can't do anything about it. Or at least you don't think you can, or won't let yourself," she tells me decisively.

"There isn't any 'won't' about it, Faith," I tell her maybe a little harshly. "I don't. . ."

"Yeah, I know. . .you don't want me like that," she says, still grinning and nodding like she knows otherwise. Like she's sure.

I know I'm sure too, but this isn't a good situation. She's here for me to help her, to keep her safe. Here because she'd already be dead anyplace else. She came to us - to me - to understand what it is about her that makes her a target, so I can't abuse my position and take advantage of her. I'm well aware she's not just a girl, she's a young woman full of self confidence but she's still just eighteen. Younger than me.

Turning to gaze out of the window I almost start laughing at myself at the last excuse. If I'm really so bothered about age differences then I'm being kind of hypocritical. Angel and Spike aren't exactly my age. There were a couple of hundred years between me and them, but oh no. . .that didn't stop me getting wriggly with either of them. So what's really stopping me with Faith?

Part of it is about her being here for me to protect her and not wanting to exploit that for my own needs and desires. But apart from that. . .I guess it's just plain old fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of it blowing up in my face. Fear of getting into something I can't, or won't want to get out of. It's all too much right now. She's too much.

I sense rather than see her step up behind me. She looks out of the window with me over my shoulder as I stand with my arms wrapped around myself. I can feel her warm breath on the back of my neck and it's not really helping me wind down. If she's doing it on purpose then that's just cruel.

"I can't pretend like I don't want you every minute I'm near you," Faith says softly, every word sending a tingle right through me as her breath tickles its way over my neck, "but I won't push it if you can tell me right now – in all honesty – that you don't feel it too."

Taking a breath I try to thrust the words out. I have to tell her no, that this can't and won't happen; that I won't allow myself the opportunity for it to happen. I have to walk away and Faith has to know that's just the way it is.

She moves to stand in front of me, her eyes instantly searching mine. I can't help but look up at her, and the words have gone; like they never existed. My mind is blank.

Faith steps a little closer and it feels like I'm falling into her. How does she do that? How does she make me feel so desperate to reach out and touch and hold and spend hours learning every inch of her? I want her. I want her like I've never wanted before; like I need to have her. As if my breath depends on it, my heartbeat; my whole existence brought down to this. . .the desire that's coursing through me in a way that scares me despite all my experience of life and love.

My voice is shaking when I finally open my mouth to speak. "Faith, I. . ."

We're both startled by a knock on the door. I virtually jump on Faith, but the shock of doing that causes me to reel backwards and stumble over her boot once again. Flailing my arms around to catch my balance, backing away from Faith as she reaches out to help me, I rush headlong for the door. Half crashing into it and half yanking it open I see Giles on the other side and nearly run right into his arms, wanting him to protect me from the way Faith is making me feel.

He stares wide eyed at me as I stare back at him, my mind a big pile of mush and my body a tense ball of need. Faith saunters up behind and strides past, nodding to Giles smoothly as if she didn't just almost get me to admit I want to straddle her and ride her until we both pop.

"Hey," she says all nonchalantly, making me want to boot her in the ass for not being as nuts as me over this thing. . .whatever it is between us.

Giles smiles and lowers his eyebrows. "I'm glad I caught you both," he says. "I thought it would be a good idea for Buffy to show you a few basic moves, Faith. A little extra training just in case we're caught on the hop and have a new slayer on our hands." He smiles at her proudly.

I guess he really does think she could be the next slayer.

"Sure, I'm up for it if B is," Faith tells him, her eyes resting on me and suggesting she means something other than training.

"Great," Giles says, beaming. "Of course it might also be beneficial for you to do the same with Kennedy, but she's sulking at the moment so maybe you could talk to her tomorrow, Buffy."

Oh great, just what I need. I so do not want to tutor Kennedy in anything other than the art of manners. It seems Faith isn't too thrilled at Ken getting the same treatment as her either; she's not smirking half as much as she was a second ago.

We both watch Giles leave and I realise it's just me and Faith stood around in the hallway, and that can only lead to me crumbling again and being stupid enough to tell her I want to ravish her silly on the stairs.

I furrow my brow, realising I have nothing to say to her that won't lead to one thing. One thing I want to stay clear of. She doesn't stop me as I turn to leave and for the rest of the day I successfully stay out of her way. I'll teach her some moves tomorrow, when I feel more convinced about the fact I can resist the urge to let her use those delicious looking lips on every part of me.

I'm Buffy; I'm strong and sure of myself. I know I can resist, especially if I stay away from her. The perfect solution is to spend a few hours doing what I do best: shoving lumps of wood into creepy dead things. So I'm out prowling my first cemetery and feeling good about myself.

I love the night, the darkness, everything in it that thinks it can take me but doesn't have a hope. When I stake a vamp it's like a sugar rush, a chocolate high and the best sex ever all at once. It leaves me tingling and eager for more; needing to slay again or. . .well, I can honestly say yogurt is not the solution.

And at this point I have to hit myself in the head and call myself stupid. I'm going to end up going home all hyped up and needing release and I have Faith all sprawled out in my bed. I'm dumb, really, really dumb. I'm going to have to sleep on the sofa. I'm sure one of the girls won't mind me taking their sleeping space so I can keep my chastity around an extremely tempting, drop-dead gorgeous, lickable. . .

"Faith!" I yelp.

"Hey, B," Faith says, looking like she doesn't have a care in the world as she strolls towards me hands in pockets, "thought you could use some company."

Oh great, there's just no getting away from her. How am I gonna keep my hands off her if she keeps being all unavoidy and hot and desirable around me?

This night is not going to end well.

CHAPTER THREE

"What the hell are you doing here?" I ask Faith, my arms flapping about in a way I don't seem to be able to control.

"Calm down, B. . .I told ya, I thought you could use some company," Faith says, shrugging. "No need to get your panties in a bunch."

"My panties are not in a bunch," I say. Faith smirks at me, obviously thinking otherwise. "You have no effect on my panties, Faith," I add firmly, completely lying.

She does have an effect on my unmentionables but not in the way she just suggested. They don't bunch so much as get a little moist when she's around, which is just uncomfortable, especially if she's wearing something like what she is right now. The whole black leather pants and tight cleavage-y top thing is so not helping me have wholesome thoughts, or dry panties.

"You could have been killed," I chastise, getting back to the subject.

"But I wasn't," she says with another shrug.

I swear she's the most infuriating person I've ever known. . .after Kennedy. . .and Dawn. Ok, so she's the third most infuriating person I know, yet I just can't seem to stay angry at her for longer than a few seconds. I should be marching her ass back to the house right now, not standing around a drafty graveyard having a conversation with her.

"But you could have been, Faith. It isn't safe out here. You know that," I tell her, sure that we covered the whole thing on the day she arrived.

"Seriously, B, I can look out for myself. I used to run around the streets back home getting into all kindsa crap and I'm still here, looking as good as ever," she says giving herself a self-appraising glance.

"You may have been a prize fighter on the streets of Boston, Faith," I say a little sarcastically, "but this is a whole different ball game. It's not even the same sport. Vampires are not to be messed with. They're sneaky and evil. . .mostly."

"I get that," Faith proclaims, her eyebrows doing that cute thing where they kinda scrunch up as she's trying to get her point across, "and it's not like I was wandering around alone. I stayed close enough to see you, and I woulda yelled if I had to."

I take a deep breath, not wanting to let it drop because I don't want her getting unceremoniously slaughtered by Bringers, or drained and turned by vampires. Even if I never plan on taking things further with her and finding out just what it is that's pulling me to her, I don't want her gone. Not like that. Not at all.

"Next time. . .wait, there won't be a next time, but for future reference don't just wander out of the house on your own at night. Talk to me first, ok," I tell her. "There are too many things around right now that would love to take a bite out of you, so. . ."

"Um, B?" she says, interrupting.

"What?"

"I think that guy coming this way wants to take a bite," she says, pointing over my shoulder.

I turn quickly and see a shabby looking vampire jogging our way. He seems a little uncertain, but thirsty. I step back, closer to Faith, to protect her.

"Gross, I can smell him from here," Faith points out quietly, the low burr to her voice making me shudder.

"Sometimes they forget to shower." I reach into my jacket and pull out a stake.

He's all snarly and toothy but as soon as he catches a glimpse of wood he stops dead in his tracks and panic crosses his deformed features. I glare at him, a silent dare to come closer, to start the fight. They usually lunge, their thirst far outweighing any sense that might still be floating around in their skulls. This one chooses to run.

He lets out a gruff sigh and vaults his way over the nearby fence towards the alleys that back onto the cemetery boundary.

"Wow, you scared him off with just a look, B. That's pretty fucking impressive. Kinda hot too," Faith says, sounding all excited.

I turn to see her grin and it feels kind of nice that she appreciates my slaying abilities that way. Of course, I know I just totally let him get away when I shoulda dusted him, but I was being all distracted by her breath on my neck again.

"It'll be more impressive when I kill him," I assure. "As much as I'd like to take you home – and no, I didn't mean that in the way you think I did – we have to follow him. I can't let him head off onto the streets like that."

She nods and gets such an adorable look on her face, as if she's trying to be all slayer-like and business minded. I want to point it out and tell her she's making my insides all squirmy but that wouldn't get the vampire dusted and wouldn't help ensure she knows I'm not going to give in to her.

"Right there with ya, B," she says as we head off towards the fence. "And then you can take me home," she adds with a wink.

I shake my head, a little chuckle escaping me as we haul ourselves over the wire fence. She jumps down beside me and we slowly make our way into the first alley. It's not a pleasant area of town. It's full of old warehouses and boarded up bars and run down apartments. There's a frightful motel further out, closer to the highway. It's a place you wouldn't leave a dog let alone want to stay in. I wonder who would be desperate enough to stay there, my skin feeling all itchy at just the thought of the dirty old mattresses. As much as I hate having the girls all crammed into my home like sardines, I'd never let them stay in a place like that. That would be unforgivable.

"This place reminds me of home," Faith says quietly as we move behind an old warehouse, the alley strewn with trashcans and planks of rotten wood.

I glance over to her but she doesn't seem like she's indulging in a pity party. She's just reminiscing I guess. It makes me wonder how she grew up. It makes me understand - just a little – why she's got her badass act all set in place. I have no doubt she knows how to take care of herself, and I know she's tough, strong, and smart. . .it's all clear to me now, as is the fact there's so much more under the surface of that tough-girl persona, just waiting to be seen.

"I hope we get through this so you'll have a home to get back to," I say, hoping it's not the wrong thing. Hoping she doesn't indeed hate where she comes from.

"We will," she says, stopping to look at me, her boots crunching over the broken glass littering the alley.

Her gaze is intense, like she really does believe everything is going to be fine. I wish I shared her optimism, but I've already had a taste of how hard it's going to be. Mr uber-vamp has crushed my cheery outlook under his giant ugly feet. If I can't beat one of them, what are we gonna do if we come up against an army of them?

"I wish I was so sure," I confess, probably foolishly. I'm not meant to be terrifying the potentials after all.

"How can you not be sure, B?" Faith asks, her hands getting tugged from her pockets so she can articulate with them. It used to irritate me, now I find it endearing. "How can we lose? It's gonna be five by five," she says with a smirk.

"Yeah?" I say, feeling about ready to throw myself into a self-indulgent pity fest. "Can you let me in on how exactly everything is going to be 'five by five'? Because from where I stand. . .we're in for a world of hurt," I point out sharply.

She frowns at me and I feel bad for laying my doubts on her. She doesn't need it. She wants to hear me tell her how I'm going to save the world and keep them all safe. That's my job after all.

"Are you shittin me?" she says, letting out a loud laugh.

"No," I say firmly, feeling a little pissed that she's laughing at my woes. "You're all here expecting me to lead you off into a battle I know we'll win, but I can't tell you that we will, and it's me that's responsible for all your lives. And how can I ask them, you. . .to follow me like that? To risk everything on just a hope. A hope that I don't even know is possible at all."

I sit down heavily on a pile of wooden pallets. I don't know why I've gotten all confession-y, and I have no clue why I've picked Faith to offload on.

"All anybody ever has is hope, B," she tells me, the laughter replaced by her strong voice, its husky tone smothering the sharpness of my fears. "You're not responsible for any of us. We're here by choice; here to fight the good fight, and you don't need to ask them to follow you, they'll do it anyway. . .I'll do it without a second's fucking hesitation. I'd follow you anywhere, and I know they all think the same way," she says, her dark eyes glistening under the harsh moonlight.

I'm struck by her words. By her. I open my mouth to speak but it seems she hasn't finished.

"You're the slayer, Buffy. . .and not just `cause of all that wicked hot strength," she says with a wink and a flirty smile.

She's pep talking me and attempting to flirt at the same time. It's quite a feat, and I doubt anybody other than Faith could pull it off so well.

I let out a small laugh as she smiles down at me. Faith is the last person I would have thought could talk some sense into me. She never seemed the sensible type, but I guess somewhere under all that sexiness and tight black clothing is a girl that knows more than she lets on. I can't honestly look at her now and only see the rough edges; I can see the hidden depths. I don't know what's in them, but I know some of them scare the hell out of me, and some of them make me want to dive right in.

"Thanks," I say softly, feeling a bit silly for having let her know how worried I am about the threat hanging over us.

Our eyes lock for longer than necessary and I suddenly feel the need to tell her I'm glad it was her I crumbled in front of, but I don't get to elaborate on my feelings as I spot a dark shadow heading towards the window in the warehouse behind her. Moving quickly I pull Faith behind me as I stand ready to take on the shabby vampire as he hurls himself through the glass at us. Obviously his thirst won out in the end.

He lets out a carnal growl as glass flies towards us. I try to turn but I'm too slow. I feel the glass cut into me, doing my best to shelter Faith from it with my arms up and covering her. I feel her shaking slightly against my body and I know I have to get this guy gone. He's going to go right for her.

Before he can get too close I twist back towards him, yanking out my stake and launching myself forwards. He's not backing down this time and thrusts his hands out towards my neck. He gets a grip on me, but my stake is aimed right at his un-dead heart. His own momentum causes it to plunge into his chest, the ripping sound of his flesh and the crunch of his bones making his eyes go wide before he's nothing but dust floating to the ground.

"Fuck," Faith exclaims behind me. "Talk about ruining a moment."

I face her and smile and I know it's a flirty smile. The half smile that I've tried not to use on her. I'm a hopeless failure.

She's not smiling back, though. Her gaze roams over me and I see concern in her eyes. I look down and see why; there are shards of glass sticking out of my clothes. Nothing big, just little chunks that have most definitely made this outfit un-wearable again.

"Great, and this was my favourite shirt," I say, hoping to ease the worry on Faith's face. It doesn't help.

I start to pull the glass from my clothing, noting that none of it seems to have done much damage; there's just a few scratches and cuts here and there.

"Let me help," Faith offers, moving closer.

I don't stop her and she helps pull off pieces of glass from my jacket and shirt. I don't know why but I keep trying to catch her eye, but she's too busy making me a glass-free zone. When her eyes finally do move to my face her brow creases.

"You're bleeding," she tells me.

I hadn't noticed, but then. . .being a slayer kinda dulls the pain of things like sharp, stabbing glass. I lift my hand to my cheek where her gaze is fixed. She's right, it's bleeding quite a bit. I wriggle my cheeks and can feel the glass still embedded in there.

"It'll have to wait `till we get back," I say, swiping away some of the blood. I'm used to getting hurt, so it's not a big deal to me. What's another cut? It's all part of my nightly routine.

"Sit down, B. . .we're not walking home with a lump of glass sticking out of your face, it's gross," Faith says, pulling a pained expression.

Oh great, I go from being hot to gross in the blink of an eye. This night is just about perfect now.

I don't argue and sit down. I don't want to be grossing Faith out, though having her too close right now is probably not a great idea. We did just kind of share a moment after all, and I felt her warm little body all trembly against me, and. . .I just slayed so slayer sized hormones are rushing around inside me. I should take her hand from my shoulder and stand, but she seems pretty determined.

She kneels in front of me and brushes aside some strands of hair that have stuck to my cheek. Her fingers are gentle and I'm surprised. I wasn't expecting her to yank the glass out all gung-ho, but thinking of her being gentle and caring just doesn't fit with the way she presents herself. I add the insight to all the others and feel myself slipping just a little. She's wearing me down and she doesn't even know it. Faith probably thinks her only way to me is through bravado and sexy clothes, but that's just the attractive casing, what's inside is even more appealing and it's far too tempting to dwell on.

I watch as she pulls a hanky out of her pocket and folds it to wipe at the blood.

"Don't worry, it's clean," she chuckles.

With her fingers softly holding me steady at my jaw she uses her other hand to swipe at the dribble of blood. I can feel her heat all over me, like it's trying to swallow me whole. I notice she's between my legs and instantly feel the need to move. She's too close. She's too damn tempting, being all girly and concerned and close. . .did I mention close?

"I'm gonna pull it out, B," Faith tells me.

I hold my breath, but not because I'm expecting it to hurt. It's her lips. . .so close to me; all bouncy looking and kissable. Her hair smells like heaven and every inch of me wants every inch of her. How can I resist this urge? Why would I want to?

Her fingers pull at the glass and I wince a little out of habit.

"Sorry," she says, achingly genuine.

"It's ok," I tell her, hardly recognizing my voice as it drops and quivers.

Faith dabs at the cut with her hanky, putting a little pressure on my cheek to stem the flow. My slayer healing will close it up in no time now the glass has gone. It won't even scar. . .but I know I'm gonna be left with something because of it, mainly because I can't stop looking at Faith's lips, and I just know she's noticed as they curl up into a sexy little grin.

Her tongue creeps out to wet them and I do the same, caught in their spell, needing to take away the dryness my own lips feel in their need to kiss. The fingers still softly holding my jaw encourage me to look up, and I get lost in chocolate brown eyes. She really is beautiful, not just sexy.

Before I know it I'm leaning towards her and she's doing the same. My stomach is flipping out and my body is on fire as her lips touch mine. My eyes slide shut and I melt into the moment, letting Faith kiss me as I leave myself open to her. She moves her lips over mine and I respond, lips parted a little to feel her fullness, her perfect teasing kisses. Her hand moves up into my hair and I find her neck with my own, holding her to me. We both sigh as her tongue slips over mine, warm and wet, and growing eager for more. I taste her, taking her into my mouth as I fight the urge to stop but know that I have to.

She tastes like sweet and sex and everything I want right now, but this is way out of line. I'm post-slaying horny so this is wronger than wrong. She pushes a little firmer against my lips with hers and my heart is pounding a rhythm that's telling me to take what she's giving me, but no matter how good she feels, and no matter how much her tongue is making me incredibly wet for her I have to pull back.

"Aw, come on, B," she sighs breathlessly as I move away from her lips, her eyes dark and needy. "I wanna fuck you so bad right now."

Her words shock me back to sanity. I can't let her think there will be any fucking, let alone in a dirty alley with vamp dust blowing all around.

"I'm sorry," I say, standing up and moving away from her. "I can't."

As Faith stands and runs a hand through her hair I take a few deep breaths, trying to compose myself. She looks as flustered as I feel.

She tries to pin me with those dangerous eyes. "Buffy, I. . ."

I interrupt; I'm not ready to hear anything she has to say right now. "We need to get back, Faith."

I don't make room for arguments or the huge pout now gracing her lips. I shouldn't have kissed her. I shouldn't have felt my insides bursting at the feel of it. I've never kissed a girl before, but I doubt just any girl would make me melt like that. That was all Faith.

*****

We made our way silently back to the house. Every time she tried to talk I cut her off. I couldn't hear that voice, I couldn't listen to the words that would strip away my resolve. She kept shaking her head, looking over at me and scrunching up her brow. I could feel the tension rolling off her, and I was battling against it as much as my own need. She probably has no clue that I've never felt so charged from just a simple kiss before. I doubt she would understand just how scary this is for me, let alone how wrong it would be for me to allow it to go any further.

Faith is blustering about in the kitchen now, hunting for food and muttering to herself as I tell Giles we didn't bump into the new big bad vamp. He's concerned that Faith was stupid enough to follow me, but he didn't make her feel too bad. He has a huge soft spot for her, and I fully understand it. She's a rebel like he was.

"Maybe tomorrow night we should do a proper sweep; take a few of the girls and Spike and see if we can't flush the demon out," Giles says, tapping his fingers on the dining table.

I nod and tell him I'm going to bed. I head up to the shower and I feel Faith's eyes on me; it would be creepy if it didn't excite me so much. Locking the bathroom door behind me I breathe a sigh of relief. As little time I get to spend in here these days it's become kind of a sanctuary. It's the only place I have left where I can be alone. There are girls everywhere, in every room, and Spike in the basement, and now I have Faith in my bedroom taunting me. If I wasn't so icked out about creepy crawlies I'd pitch a tent in the garden to have just a little space of my own.

Maybe I should make Faith move out of my room, but there's not really anywhere she can go and not cause trouble. I guess I could force Dawn to keep her in her room, but she'd never forgive me. Nope, it looks like Faith is my problem.

The shower I spend a mere five minutes under only washes away the grime and not the tension in my shoulders and the need in all my other parts. There's no time to even attempt to ease away the itch under my own fingers because somebody keeps knocking on the door. I plan to walk out in a rage to show my annoyance but when I pull the door back I find Faith standing right in the way.

Clutching at the towel I have wrapped around me I freeze, my rage being pushed out and replaced by the yearning she keeps making me feel. Her eyes are all over me and they're leaving a trail of goosebumps behind. I need to shake myself free, and not of the towel so I can invite her in to get the place even more hot and steamy.

"Excuse me," I say, stepping from the bathroom and moving past her.

She doesn't stop me going and a little part of me feels disappointed. I pause and catch her eye just before we close the doors on each other. I don't say anything, just look, just for a second. I know I'm being a bitch with her; kissing her then pushing her away so coldly wasn't fair. I don't want her to hate me. I can't have her, but I don't want that look in her eye to go; the one she gets when she sees me. The one that makes me tingle when it's obvious what she's thinking.

A puzzled expression flutters across her face for a second, but then I think she gets it. I think she realises that I really do want her, but that I can't risk it. What would happen if we were to let this go where we want it? She's a potential amongst many others; they'd all be hating on her even more for getting it on with their supposed saviour. Jealousy isn't pleasant. And what if I get too involved and something bad happens? We're headed for an apocalypse and I need to be completely focused on everything and everybody, not just her. I know I'd never consciously do anything to put the lives of my friends and family in danger, but what if I can't see past Faith? I can't do it. I can't let myself be weak like that. . .not again. Not after Spike.

I turn away from her eyes and close the door. My forehead hits the wooden frame as I lean against it, trying to deal with everything that's going round and round in my head. If only she'd turned up sooner.

Forcing myself to think as 'straight' as possible I get ready for bed, throwing on a large tee shirt, and climb under the cool sheets. I do everything I can not to think about Faith naked and showering, but I discover it's one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. It's like she demands me to think of her like that. I can't help it and am powerless to stop it. Just the thought of her standing with the water rushing over her body, gliding over every part of her, makes me groan.

I can picture it so clearly, the heat rising all around her as she leans with her hands against the tiled walls. I see myself stepping up behind her, hands roaming over her as I press against her body.

The image of us both naked makes me cross my legs, denying myself the freedom to touch. There's no way I'm going to be caught doing that by her.

Faith comes back into the room and I look away, finding the wall suddenly highly interesting. She doesn't speak and I know she's still pissed. Her clothes get tossed onto a chair and I hear the towel drop from her. I flick my eyes over to the mirror almost opposite me and see her reflection as she stands at the other side of the bed. She's turned away from me so I can only see her back, but I'm still left fighting to keep my breathing from giving me away.

Her hair is tumbling down over her shoulders, tickling the top of her spine. I let my gaze wander, following the arch of her back, the gentle curve to her hips, the dip that marks the area just above her perfect ass that's on show to me. I can see a tattoo curving over the top of her hip and ending in the small of her back. I can't tell what it is from the reflection, but I so want to find out.

My eyes linger there before moving on to her gorgeous backside, studying, wanting. I'd felt the smoothness of her back the night before, but I wanted her ass. I want to run my hand over it and pull her to me, press her against me. Grab on and let her ride me until we're both lost in each other.

I've never been an ass kind of girl. I appreciated Angel's, and Riley's, and even Spike's skinny rear, but Faith's firm little ass is just begging for me to touch it. Not in an icky way. . .I want to squeeze it, but as for anything other than that I'd like to say a big fat no. I want Faith, no doubt about it, and I want her ass. . .but not for anything gross. There's only one place on Faith I want inside of and I'm not even going to acknowledge that completely yet because I think my head would explode. I'm not completely unfamiliar with girly-parts - I do have my own after all – but wanting another girl's girly-parts so lustily is not something I've had experience with.

The thought of her possibly turning around and presenting me with said girly-parts makes me slam my eyes shut. I'm not ready for that. I'm not even meant to be entertaining the idea of being ready for that.

I breathe out a little shakily when I feel the bed shift beside me. She ruffles the covers around getting settled, sighing as she tries to get comfortable. I want to turn around and break this awful silence between us, but I just don't think I can. Thankfully she breaks it for me.

"Fuck," she whines, still shuffling around.

I turn onto my back so I can at least look her way. She's pushing the pillow this way and that, and tugging at the tee shirt she has on. I'm a little sad she's decided to wear something tonight. The little devil on my shoulder is biting his tail, trying to stop himself from telling me to let Faith know she doesn't have to wear it for my benefit.

"You look like you're having a problem," I say, a little chuckle to my voice.

"Yeah. . .guess I'm kinda antsy," she says gruffly.

I nod. I completely get the antsy thing; it's just that mine's all internal. I'm going nuts inside, wriggling in my own skin and trying to ignore the urge I have to feel her lips on mine again.

She tugs at her shirt again as she lays on her back, obviously uncomfortable.

"Not used to wearing anything huh," I say, pointing out the obvious.

"You can say that again," she sighs. "I didn't have anything clean last night but I did laundry today."

I nod again, practically biting my lip so the words don't come out. I lose the battle. "You don't have to wear it. . .the tee shirt I mean," I tell her.

She stops wiggling around and looks at me. "You sure?"

"Sleep how you're comfortable, Faith. I'm sure I can resist," I say with a wink.

She laughs and I can't help but join her. We know the score now. We want each other, but it's a no-go area so we'll have to deal with it. I'm pretty sure she understands that.

"If you're sure you're not gonna go groping me in the middle of the night, then fine," she says with a grin, sitting up and pulling off her tee shirt.

I stare as her breasts bounce free, and I instantly want to tell her to put it back on but I don't. My mind is chastising me for having only thought about groping her ass until now. Her ass is nothing compared to her breasts and that's saying something. Hell, I thought mine were pretty neat but Faith's. . .they're making my mouth water.

I want to experience their weight and their softness in my hands. I want to know what it would feel like to have her dark nipples firming to my touch; I need to know how they would feel against my lips, in my mouth.

My tongue sneaks out over my bottom lip and I can't pull my eyes away. I keep looking as Faith lays back down facing me, leaving the covers pooled at her waist. She's gorgeous. . .and she's partially naked in my bed again. This is insane. My friends would freak if they knew I was laying here next to a girl wanting nothing more than to lick her all over. It makes me want to freak even though I'm slowly coming to terms with this whole new side to me.

How could I explain it to them when I can't even explain it to myself? There's no doubt that Faith is something special. We all see the hotness that is Faith, but they don't also see the beauty, and the warmth inside her that's making me ache to be with her. Nobody ever made me ache this way and I don't know what that means. I don't know how to look away from her eyes as they keep mine trapped within them. She's looking right into me, seeing parts of me that I don't want her to see, and I have no clue how to stop it, if I really want to at all like I've been convincing myself.

"Why are you fighting it, B?" she asks, her words slipping over me like fingers.

I struggle to find the words and turn to her so I can gaze into her eyes more easily. "I'm not fighting it, Faith. I'm just being realistic."

"So you admit you want me?" she asks quietly, a little uncertainty tainting her confidence.

I try to lie. I try to give myself the way out that I should, only I can't. Not when she's looking at me like that.

"Yes," I tell her softly, forcing my voice not to shake. "But. . ."

She shushes me and shakes her head.

"No buts, Buffy," she says, her voice thick and seductive. "I can feel how much you want to let go."

Her hand moves under the covers and I feel her fingers sliding up the outside of my thigh. She's barely touching me but it's leaving me incapable of thinking. I shudder noticeably when her fingers stop at my hip, tripping over the waist of my panties.

She leans closer to me, her body heat making it obvious that she's burning for me as much as I am for her. I can smell how hot she is. I catch the scent of her arousal and my breathing flutters. I've never wanted to be naked with somebody so much my entire life. I want to be exposed to her and have her exposed to me. I want to feel her weight on me, her soft skin wrapping me in its sensual embrace. This is too much to handle. Too much to take in and not panic.

I can feel the panic rising, forcing its way through my arousal and the post-slaying hornies. Faith seems to sense it and shifts so she's almost pressed right against me, enveloping me in her desire. I moan quietly as daring fingers follow the edge of my panties to where I need her most. She doesn't push them aside, choosing to lightly brush her fingertips over me through the cotton.

I almost burst right then, so much need inside of me for her. God I want her to touch me. I want her to take me and make me hers. I'm trembling, a mixture of fear because she's a girl, doubt that this is right, and pure incomprehensible lust.

She circles her fingers over me delicately, teasing me through my panties. Her mouth so close to mine but not kissing me. On the verge. On the edge of letting go.

"What do you want, B?" she asks breathlessly, her lungs crying out for air as much as mine. "If you want me to stop tell me, I won't push it. . .or if you. . ."

Faith's fingers keep circling and they're driving me all kinds of crazy. I want to tell her to fuck me but I can't answer. I daren't; that would be admitting total defeat. I keep the words inside but push my hips forwards so her fingers press firmer against me. It's subtle but she gets it right away. Her finger slips under the cotton of my panties and I drench it.

Looking into her dark eyes one last time I lay back and close my own, moving my legs apart as I sigh for her touch, giving Faith what she wants and what I so desperately need from her.

CHAPTER FOUR

Time seems to have stopped. It feels like all that exists is this room, this bed, Faith breathing close to me ear as her fingers spread me open for her touch. I moan and my arm reaches under Faith to wrap around her. I need to hold on to something. To her. I move against her fingers as I lay on my back but she's definitely in control; teasing me so softly, each slip of her fingers over my clit making me shudder.

I shouldn't be letting this happen, but I'm so wet for her. She's stroking over me so slowly I almost feel like pleading with her to do it harder and faster, but she knows exactly what she's doing. I know she's just building it up, and it feels so good. Her fingertip circles and slides and I'm completely powerless to stop this. I haven't been with anybody for a while, and Faith has been getting me worked up since she arrived, add into that the nightly slaying with no privacy to work off the tension and I can't be held responsible for giving in to her.

Her lips brush over the spot just below my ear and I'm practically swooning as she nuzzles against me. The heat coming off her is intense, her smell intoxicating as she moves to lean over me a little more.

My eyes are shut because I daren't look at her. I don't want to fall into her eyes as she does this; as she strips away all my defences and my stupid arguments to keep her at arm's length. I feel her nose brushing against my cheek, her hot breath spilling over me. Turning my head just a little to slide my lips over Faith's seems like it would be the best plan ever, but I can't. I don't dare to as she presses harder against me and I gasp.

She groans all throaty and sexy and I swear I just got even wetter. All I can think of is how much I need to come, and how much I want it to be her to make me. I know this is wrong, I know it so much it's keeping my eyes tightly shut and my hands firmly constrained. I want to touch her, God do I want to touch her and kiss her, but it's too much. All I seem to be able to do is lay here sighing and moaning for her.

"I've wanted to do this since the first second I saw ya, B," Faith says huskily, her hair tumbling over me as she starts placing kisses over my neck. "You're so fucking sexy."

She pushes herself away from me for a moment and I wonder what's going on. I don't need to guess as I feel her pushing my panties down and off me, then trailing her fingers up the inside of my leg. The thought of this stunning girl peeling my panties off just gets me shivering under her touch even more as I bite my lip to keep from saying something stupid.

Her fingers head back to where they'd just been, slipping all over me in my juices. I sound so wet and normally that would embarrass me a little; guys can get squicked out by that kinda thing, but Faith seems like she's enjoying it as she breathes all hot and bothered over me, pushing me right to the edge then slowing almost to a stop.

The air in my lungs almost rushes out completely as she lets her fingers drop lower, dipping into my opening just enough for me to feel it. I groan as she teases me, my fingernails clawing a little at her back. She grins into my neck and then scrapes her teeth over me, not giving me what I want. I raise my hips but she just pulls her hand back, keeping me where she wants me; squirming for her as I start burning up in my need for relief.

I look up at her for a second and wish I hadn't. Her eyes are so dark and her expression so achingly gorgeous, I instantly feel myself wanting to drown in her and never come up for air. I can't allow that, though. Whatever this is, it's not going to be that. This is just sex. . .just her getting what she wants, and me getting to feel free for just a short time.

The air feels hot and sticky and I shuffle about, using my free hand to tug at my shirt. She doesn't say anything as she helps me lift it off. As soon as it's gone I pull her back to me, the desperate need to kiss her making me ache inside. I keep my lips away from hers, not prepared for where that would take me. Her skin against mine is enough to leave me spinning; the soft swell of her breasts against me, nipples brushing over me as mine react to her, makes me slam my eyes shut once again.

There's only so much I think I can take without wanting to run, and I don't want to run when her touch is so good.

Faith is driving me insane here. I want her to fuck me so badly right now. Nobody has ever gotten me this worked up. Every time I start to feel myself trembling, almost tumbling into an orgasm as I breathe fast and deep. . .she pulls back, moves her fingers from where she was or starts barely touching me at all. She's fucking good, but it's killing me. I'm fighting to keep from making too much noise and from flipping her over and riding her fingers until I come all over her.

"Faith," I whisper with a shudder, hoping she'll understand how much I need her to take me over the edge. And I do mean her.

I haven't thought about sex with anybody for quite a while, not since all that nasty business with Spike. Sure, I've had a few fantasies when I've needed to ease some of the pressure inside me, but they were always fleeting, not meaning anything, not about anybody in particular. From the moment Faith walked through the front door I guess my body has been winding itself up for this with her. I barely recognised what it was, totally shocked that another girl could make me feel that way, but I get it completely now. It doesn't matter that she's got all the female parts I have, she's just incredibly sexy and beautiful, and she's all fire and danger and here stripping away all my layers to get to what's underneath.

Every time she looks at me I feel it; her eyes going deeper, her voice ploughing through me like I have no defences at all. And just when I thought I had her all figured out, she shows me a whole other side to her where she's gentle and sweet and funny and I just want to be around her, watching her dimples as she smiles. I'm completely smitten, crushing on her like there's no tomorrow, and wanting her in a way I can't even explain. It's all pretty scary that's for sure. She's scaring the crap out of me. . .but she's also doing things to my pussy with her fingers that nobody has done before and that's something completely opposite of scary, but I don't know what.

"Oh God," I moan out, getting louder as Faith slides a finger into me then pulls it out slowly.

I press my hand against her back, holding her tighter to me. I want more. I need her all over me. I need her inside me again and again until she takes all I have to give her right now. I feel myself sweating, hot and needy and sticking to her everywhere we're touching. Spreading my legs wider, bending the one she's not pressed up against, I reach down under the covers and grasp at her wrist, my fingers light, not wanting to hurt her in any way.

She moans and rubs up against me as I make her push her finger back inside me, holding my hand over hers, feeling just how wet I am. I arch my back into it, sighing noisily as I feel her deep within me. I can almost feel myself starting to come even though she's not moving, not thrusting, not wriggling. . .just her being there.

"Jesus, Buffy. . .you feel fucking beautiful," Faith says, her voice almost a low growl.

I want to ask her to fuck me until I burst, but the words won't leave my mouth. She doesn't need me to ask; her finger slides out and she pushes back in with two, harder and deeper, taking back the control as my hand falls away. I move it up to grab onto her shoulder as she holds herself over me. My fingers glide into her soft dark hair as she begins to thrust into me. She's not holding back now and I'm making too much noise.

With each thrust I moan and gasp as she works her fingers faster and harder inside me. I turn my face to hers, trying to muffle myself against her as I cling tightly to her body. The temptation her lips present is just too great now, I can't think straight and don't protest as she finally latches onto my mouth with hers. We kiss, hungry and deep, wet and frantic; every ounce of want and desire coming through loud and clear as she fucks me. I can't say I've ever felt so swept up in the act before, not by anybody's fingers, tongue or other more manly parts. This is definitely new, and surprising.

Faith's fingers feel incredible, pushing in deep and rubbing up right where I need them as she swallows down every moan I give her. I start to tremble, my insides burning out of control as she sweeps her thumb up over my clit.

I break my mouth free from her probing tongue to cry out. I can't help it, and it's her name that I gasp as I start to come.

"Fuck," Faith groans as she rubs her fingers over the place inside me nobody has ever found before, her thumb slipping all over my clit.

She wraps her lips around mine again and I know why. . .if we're any louder the whole house is going to know what's going on. I try to contain myself but I'm coming hard and long, the whimpering moans still making their way out of me as I soak Faith's fingers. I shudder beneath her, every part of my body tense as I grip onto her. Normally I would be done by now, but she's not taking her fingers out and it doesn't seem like I've stopped coming.

My hips jerk up against her hand as Faith pushes another finger inside me, keeping me falling over the edge. My tongue is duelling with hers, tasting and licking, feeling everything, everywhere, all over in a way I've never done before. Faith is completely possessing me, and I'm coming hard again all over her. I wish I could call out her name but I keep myself muffled as my come floods out of me until I'm spent.

I fall back, my mouth breaking from Faith's so I can take a much needed deep breath. I can't believe we just did that. I can't believe I just let her make me come harder than I ever remember coming before. . .but God does it feel good.

Faith keeps her fingers inside me as I pulse and twitch for her, her head resting on my shoulder as I lay in a stupor. My mind is racing, trying to find reasons, excuses, any kind of logical thought. I can't think beyond Faith's hot body against me and her fingers now being slowly pulled from me. We both sigh and I tremble from the loss.

Her hand glides stickily to my hip and she rests it there. I'm warm all over because of her, every inch of me, inside and out. I want to bask. I want to just enjoy the feeling of having her pressed against me so closely; the sensation of her skin against mine, her leg slipping over me to cover me almost completely. I guess I should return the favor, give her something back for what she's just done for me. . .but she's not asking, not making any kind of move to make me cross that final barrier.

I wonder why not and have to ask. I mean, I'm lost here. I don't know if I just used her or if she just used me. I know I should never have let it get so far, so maybe I did just take advantage of her because of my selfish post-slaying needs. Right now it feels like that because I think she's falling asleep.

"Faith," I say softly, rousing her.

"Hmm?" Faith responds tiredly.

"Don't you want me to. . .?" I can't get the words out - afraid that she'll say yes - and she lifts her head from my shoulder a little to look at me.

She smiles a dimpled smile and shakes her head. "No, B," she says. "I know you wouldn't have done this if I hadn't pushed it. I know you don't think it's ok for us to be doing this kinda thing, so it's ok by me if it's just me doing the touchin'. . .that way, you don't have to feel so messed up about it. It's all cool."

With a yawn she places her head back down on my shoulder. I don't know what kind of crazy troll-logic she was just channeling, but I don't think I have the energy to question it right now. Instead I just pull her closer and wrap my leg over hers, not questioning my need to do that either. I guess my days of being strictly a no snuggling kinda girl are numbered, especially if this thing between us continues.

I try to relax my mind to join how relaxed my body feels; it's not going to work but it's worth a shot. Chuckling softly to myself, still completely baffled with the fact I just had sex with a girl, I feel a certain amount of pride wash over me. I just hooked up with the prettiest girl I've ever seen. Hell, the prettiest girl most people have ever seen. Xander would weep like a baby if he found out it's me that got her and not him. I know he loves Anya but he's a guy, and they all seem to drool over Faith like she's. . .well, like she's the hot piece of ass she is. They all want her, Spike, Robin, Xander, I think even Willow - to name just a few - but it's me that has her draped all over me. If I wasn't freaking out so much maybe I could count myself lucky.

Resting my cheek against Faith's forehead I let myself attempt to drift off to sleep. I guess the over-thinking can continue in the morning, when I haven't got this gorgeous brunette pressed so deliciously against me. I'm almost sad that I know this has to be the first and last time with Faith. In fact there's not really an "almost" about it; she's affecting me in ways I don't want her to. Ways that mean I can't hold back, as I proved tonight.

I'll have to tell her that we can't do this again, even though me and my pussy are extremely grateful for what she just did.

*****

The morning sun pulls me from my dreams and I notice instantly that Faith has once again already left the bed before I've woken up. I huff a little, unable to decide whether it's a good thing or a bad thing all things considered. Sure, if I wasn't freaking out about her being a potential, a little younger than me, a hot-headed trouble maker. . .a girl, I would be upset that she's not still snuggled on top of me just waiting for me to wake her in interesting and tasty ways.

I guess I'm still all confused because despite the fact I should be asking her to forgive me for taking advantage and for allowing anything to happen last night, I want her here with me, naked and waiting for me to learn some new skills on her. This whole contradiction deal is just giving me a headache.

I swing my legs out of bed and instantly clatter to the floor as I try to move, almost knocking myself out on the bedside table. I look down and see that my feet had become entangled in my discarded underwear. Well, that could have been intensely embarrassing if anybody had seen. It's a good job I am alone.

Reaching down I remove them and toss them on top of the bed, pulling myself up so I can stretch and fully appreciate how well Faith fucked me last night. I make a contented sound as I feel the unmistakable tight sensation between my legs. She really did give me something to think about, and to feel. Every touch had been perfect. If I hadn't been such an ass maybe it could have gone further and I could have made her come too. But I just had to get a rush of guilt and responsibility right at the wrong moment.

Faith made me feel incredible, and I probably made her feel rejected. I should have touched her back. . .wait, what am I saying? Of course I shouldn't have done that. I shouldn't have let her finger fuck me until I was moaning out her name either.

I clasp my hand over my eyes and sigh deeply. This is all too much for me right now. I have way too much on my shoulders for Faith to be pulling my thoughts and feelings this way and that. It wasn't her fault either, it was all me. I'm dumb. Dumb and weak.

It's hard, but for the rest of the morning I stay far away from Faith. I showered and dressed and grabbed breakfast, then went out for a run. It's not like I need to do it to keep fit, but it helps clear my head sometimes, and I really need to clear my head right now. I knew I couldn't stay away for too long without Giles getting concerned, so I made my way back, walking rather than running.

I'd seen Faith once so far as she did her Tai Chi in the back garden. I'd watched her for a few moments through the window and she'd nodded my way but continued her routine. It felt a little like she'd lost interest, but maybe she's only the clingy type when we're in bed. Which is fine, I mean, it's not like I want her hanging off me when anybody could see. Or at all. . .really.

My hope to avoid her for as long as possible, and the plan not to have to deal with what had happened between us gets a little steamrollered by Giles and his fondness for meetings. He calls us all into the living room just after lunch and there Faith is, large as life and as attractive as ever at the other side of the room as I stand by the sofa. She's wearing a tight red top, and low-slung black jeans; her belt all black and studded and just begging to be undone.

Our eyes meet as Giles starts talking and I hear nothing of what he's saying. All I see is Faith and those dark eyes of hers silently undressing me. She's leaning against a table, her arms folded, looking the picture of coolness. . .but I can see what's going on inside her. She's thinking of doing all kinds of things to me, and I am trying so hard not to think them too. Not only that, I'm trying doubly hard not to think of doing those things to her. Things that I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have the first clue how to do, but would have so much fun trying out with Faith.

"So, what do you think, Buffy?" Giles says, standing right in front of me, obscuring my view.

I stare at him, my mouth doing that funky fish thing that I'm sure is pretty unattractive.

"Think?" I eventually mumble.

He looks at me like I've grown another head and starts to pace. I glance over at Faith to see her grinning at me mockingly. Ok, so I wasn't paying attention. I really can't be blamed; I did have images of Faith fucking me senseless rolling around in my head.

"I think it's high time we tested the limits of this ancient breed of vampire. I'm certain you can kill it given the right circumstances," Giles says, looking at me once again as if I have a clue what he's talking about.

See, this is why wanting Faith is bad. . .because I can't get her out of my head, and if she's in my head then everything else is getting pushed out. Pretty soon I'll forget my own name and they'll have to build a new Buffy-bot to deal with the day-to-day living, as I sit around drooling over Faith, thinking about all the naughty things we could be doing.

"We'd all be there, ready to see you kick some uber-booty," Willow says to me. "It'll be like a picnic, only with less sandwiches and more vampires."

"Sounds great," I say cautiously.

"Excellent," Giles beams, looking pleased with himself. "We'll get everything ready for nightfall. I'll leave it up to you to speak with Spike of course."

"Of course," I say, still feeling confused.

It seems like the meeting is over as Giles arranges girls into groups and gives them tasks. I just stand looking vacant and wishing I could get closer to Faith. After avoiding her all morning I really feel the need to be around her now. My own stupid fault for not having the guts to confront what I'd let happen and talk with her.

All I can do is watch as she's taken away from me to polish weapons, or whatever it is Giles said. She stops before leaving the room and smiles at me, one of her best "I wanna make you come for me" smiles that I'm pretty sure I've only seen her use on me. At least I hope she's only used it on me. If anybody else here thinks they're getting a chance with her I'd be pissed, even if I'm not meant to be thinking like that at all. She's not my girlfriend after all. She's not really even my friend. I don't know what she is, but that smile made my stomach do the flippy thing again.

"You ok, Buffy?" I hear next to me, breaking me from my thoughts.

I blink and focus on Willow, who looks all concerned for me.

"Yeah," I say, kind of squeaking instead of speaking.

She scrunches her face up and I know what's coming.

"Yunno, if anything's wrong you can talk to me," she says.

I didn't want her to say that because that makes me think maybe I should talk to her about the 'Faith thing', and I don't want to talk about it. I know it would make sense because she's into girls; she's dealt with this whole issue before. I can't talk about it now though, it's too. . .complicated. If it were any other time and Faith wasn't a potential slayer, then maybe I'd ask Willow's advice on it. But right now there's just too much at stake. I can't afford to alienate my friends. I know Willow wouldn't be freaked about me being into Faith because she's a girl, but she knows how important it is for me to keep all the girls' respect, and she knows how much I need to be on top of my game right now. She'd probably tell me to back off and not give in to Faith's charms, and I already know all that.

"Everything's fine, Will," I tell her. "You could help me out by telling me what Giles was going on about, though." I give her my best "Buffy is adorable" expression and she chuckles and shakes her head.

She fills me in on Giles' plan as we relax on the couch, potential slayers flitting about the house looking busy and hopeful. I'm hopeful too because if that vampire gets a good bite out of me I don't know if I can hold them together. They're scared enough as it is. I almost feel like suggesting we wait for Kendra to show up, but I know Giles would tell me it's my responsibility. I don't see how, Kendra is the active slayer. . .she should be the one putting herself in the firing line of the big ugly uber-vampire. I'm just here holding the fort, this should be her gig not mine.

I sigh and slump down a little into the cushions. Of course I know it is my gig. This is my town. My hellmouth. My apocalypse. I just wish I had more help than a bunch of girls, a witch that daren't do the witch-y thing, and a vampire that still pines after me like a lost puppy.

That thought brings me back to what Giles had said. It sounded like he needed me to rattle the dog chain at Spike to see if he wants to go walkies. Well, I can do that. . .as long as I don't have to put up with him ogling me like a piece of steak; it's kind of creepy now I'm not all abuse-loving girl.

Pushing myself up off the couch I go in search of Spike, I know I won't have to go far, he doesn't venture out of the basement if it isn't dark. Personally I think he'd look better with a suntan but maybe I'm just being picky.

"Slayer," he says as I walk down the steps. "To what do I owe this pleasure?"

I shake my head as he grins at me, wishing he wouldn't lay around half-naked with his sheet draped over his manly parts. I throw a shirt at him but he doesn't put it on. I can't hate him. I can't even dislike him any more. He's just Spike; a pain in my butt, but a part of my past.

"You're needed," I tell him.

His grin gets wider and I'm almost daring him to look me up and down so I can kick his ass to make me feel better. He must be able to see the threat in my eyes because he looks away and roots around in his stack of clothes, pulling out a cigarette and lighter. He lights up and blows smoke at me as if it's a sure way to turn me on. I cough and instantly feel sick.

"So what can I do for you, Slayer?" he asks. "Been a busy boy this morning so make it quick, I need a few hours' kip."

"We need you to come on patrol with us later. Giles thinks we can slay this uber-vamp thing if we're out in force. . .wait, what do you mean you've been a busy boy?" I ask, glancing over his pile of clothes to check for bloodstains.

I know he can't hurt anybody now with the chip in his head and a soul drifting around in his scrawny chest but you can never be sure with vampires, that's why he's still chained to the wall when he gets hungry.

"Had me a visit this morning from a friend of yours," he tells me, looking cocky.

I narrow my eyes and fold my arms over my chest. I'm not in the mood for playing games, and he ought to know the signs by now.

"What are you talking about?" I ask sternly.

"Hot little brunette that goes by the name Faith," he says, blowing more smoke my way.

He looks way more smug than he should, and I'm feeling my itchy stake finger twitching. I swear if he so much as laid a finger on her I'll cut it off and make him eat it.

"What about her?" I push, knowing already that she talks with Spike now and then.

"She came down looking a little. . .wound up. She likes to bum a fag off me now and then, but this morning she needed a little more than that it seemed," he says, his lips curling up into a smile I suddenly want to rip from his face.

Of course Faith was all wound up, she'd fucked me the night before and got nothing in return. But what was she doing coming to Spike? I don't want to know, but I also desperately need to know. I can't believe she'd come to Spike for what I think his grin is suggesting.

"What happened? What did you do?" I ask, growing angrier by the second.

"Well, aren't we all full of questions today," Spike chuckles.

I step closer to him, my eyes cold enough to burn through his bravado.

"Why did she come to you?" My voice is harsh, cutting like steel through the smoky air.

"Keep your wig on, goldilocks. . .she came to use the punch bag."

I feel my nostrils flaring, a sure clue that I'm right on the edge. He's telling the truth though; I can see it in his eyes. Spike might be a lot of things but he's a rotten liar. I try to relax my shoulders and let my arms fall to my side. I was so close to bouncing him all around the basement. I can't believe I just got so jealous for nothing. I swallow hard, trying to fight back the warning signs inside of me.

"You seem a little flustered, Slayer," Spike points out, obviously wanting his face rearranged. "Maybe you could use some time on the punch bag too. Didn't really work for the other stunner, though. Still, the show was a good one," he says, running his tongue over his teeth.

His smirk reminds me of why I hated my time with him. It makes everything seem dirty and low. He brings everything down to his level, and at one time he did the same to me. I know I was more than willing, but I was rolling around in his filth for too long until I saw the light and came to my senses. There is no way I would ever let him anywhere near to doing that with Faith, regardless of my feelings for her. Even if I never have her in my bed again I sure as hell would never let him get to her. She's not mine and probably never will be, but she sure as shit isn't ever going to be his.

"Stay away from her, Spike, or you'll feel the sharp end of my favourite stake before you can even take a breath to beg for your life," I warn.

His grin fades just a little, but he knows it would take a lot for me to kill him with him being all defenceless. I don't wait around for him to ask why I got so prickly over Faith, turning to leave before he can say another word.

As I go to slam the basement door I tell Spike to be ready for nightfall, "So we can kill one of your great aunts," I yell.

It takes most of the rest of the evening for me to calm down, and I hate that I got so riled up about Faith possibly being with somebody that isn't me. I have no right to be jealous and possessive. No right at all. . .but that still didn't stop it from happening. I need to talk to her, but she's been busy with Giles all day. I can't just rush into the pack of potentials she's training with and pull her way by her hand so I can just. . .I don't even know. What the hell would we talk about?

"Oh, I'm sorry I let you make me come all over you like a freight train, Faith. Maybe next time I could return the favor, but of course. . .there can't ever be a next time."

Yeah, that sounds perfect. I'm sure she'd love to hear that.

I sit on my bed with my head in my hands as nightfall lands. I need to pull it together or I'm gonna get myself killed, or worse.

"B?" I hear as the door opens.

Not looking up I feel Faith sit on the bed beside me. I sigh, wishing this could be normal. How much simpler would this be if we weren't all fighting evil and coming up to an apocalypse? Not as much of a rhetorical question as I'd like it to be.

"Everyone's getting ready, just waiting on the star of the show," Faith says.

I close my eyes as I feel her hand on my thigh. This is too hard. I can't fight the baddies as well as this thing for Faith.

Turning to her I look into her eyes and see nothing but desire and want, and something deeper that I can't place. She's everything anybody sane could want. . .yunno, if they're into the sexy tough-girl thing, which apparently I am. I want. I do, and I don't have the skills to fight it like I thought I did.

Closing the distance between us I crush my lips to hers. She doesn't hesitate in responding, her hands pulling me closer as I hold her face in mine. I kiss her desperately, needing to taste her, wanting her tongue inside my mouth. I get what I want and then some. She's a great kisser, and I moan into her as she does the same. I could sit kissing her for hours, for days. . .but it's time to go and kill a vampire, and he isn't going to go down easily.

I break away and lick my lips, tasting nothing but Faith. She's breathing heavy and I know I am too. It's what happens when all you wanna do is rip each other's clothes off and roll around until you're sticky and sore and can't do anything more but sleep. I've never wanted that so much in my life as right now, but time doesn't stand still when you want it to. Things aren't easy and normal when you need them to be.

Taking a deep breath, I stand and nod for Faith to lead the way out. I just hope we all come back in one piece so I can figure this thing out.

CHAPTER FIVE

It didn't take us long to flush out the uber-vamp, it wasn't hard to miss after all. Those big feet left footprints leading to a run down old wine cellar. I guess it likes a nice Merlot before munching on unsuspecting girls.

We got the thing trapped and surrounded, but it was left up to me to fight it. Giles wanted the girls to help, and Spike to throw some of his moves at it, but I thought it would be a great opportunity to show the potentials just what a slayer can do. I started regretting it when my face was being pummelled into the floor, but I had to see it through. The vamp threw me around a bit - and I just know I'm going to stink like a brewery forever despite the three showers I've taken - but I gained the upper hand when its head broke through a false wall and I saw something shiny and sharp beyond.

An impressive looking axe was imbedded in a chunk of rock and I headed right for it. The vampire had a similar idea and launched himself forwards, beating me to it. He pulled, but the axe didn't shift. I took that opportunity to send him flying into a wall far harder than the last with a pretty impressive kick that gained a round of applause. I didn't stop to bow, instead choosing to slide my hands around the handle of the axe. I was expecting much more resistance but it glided out of the rock as if it was butter.

Standing with it gleaming in my hand I felt unstoppable. The uber-vamp became less uber without his head as I detached it from his body with one swift slice. There was no blood or gross stuff, just a whoosh of dust as he disappeared. It felt incredible, and I'd never felt so powerful. It got me a lot of cheers and woots, and I looked down at my new favourite weapon as if it was an old friend I'd lost long ago.

We've been back home for a little while now, and I can still feel the power surging through me from the connection with that axe. They're researching it like mad research-monkeys right now. I know what the axe is, though. . .it's mine. Completely and utterly mine. I feel sore and bruised, but we beat what we thought was unbeatable so I have just that bit more hope for the coming battles.

Most of the girls are watching TV and sleeping in the living room as the rest of us try to work out what we have in our possession. I watch the gang paw over books on the dining room table, and clamber through the internets as I look on from the doorway, leaning against the wooden frame as I feel my body trying to cope with the beating I got. The research thing is never my favourite part of the slaying job.

"I wonder how long it was stuck in that rock," Anya says, gaining a warning look from me as she starts fingering my axe. "It could be worth a lot of money."

"I don't think we'll be selling it, my dear," Giles informs her.

Damn right we won't, even if I could use the money.

"We could buy a big tank with the money, I'm sure that would be much more effective than one little axe. Xander could drive it," Anya continues, looking over proudly at Xander as he squirms in his chair.

"Are you crazy? That thing is like fucking sexy," Faith pipes up, never one to be left out as she walks through to the dining room from behind me. "No way should anybody sell it, especially not Buffy. . .she looks wicked hot with it."

I feel myself blush as she grins at me and takes a seat at the table.

Willow looks from me to Faith and then scrunches her brow, immersing herself back into the laptop she's hunched over.

"Yes, quite," Giles says, clearing his throat and looking uncomfortable. "And as it did seem to slip so easily from the rock at Buffy's hands, I think we can suppose it's not just any old weapon. We need to discover its origins and work from there. Any luck, Willow?" he asks her.

Willow shakes her head and continues searching. I do my best not to keep letting my eyes drift over Faith, but it's hard. She's watching the researching intently, her fingers brushing briefly over the flat side of the axe blade. I can see she feels something. The energy. The power. I can almost see her holding it, swinging it like it was made for her just as much as me. It's a pretty impressive sight, even if it is just in my head. It may seem a little weird that the image of Faith wielding a pointy weapon is kinda hot, but it is. I'm a slayer and fighting is my life. It's something I love, and have running through my veins. I can feel myself getting turned on, thinking of Faith's firm body flowing and flexing as she twists the axe in her hands in my little fantasy.

Her eyes flick up to lock with mine and she catches my breath with an intense look. I attempt to turn away from her, knowing I need to focus on the research and the work we have ahead of us, but all I seem to be able to focus on is how horny I am and how good she looks. Good enough to let her scratch this uber-sized itch I have going on.

I so can't think that way, though. I can't use her like that again, as much as she seems to enjoy it. Maybe if. . .if I did it back to her it wouldn't be so wrong, but then I have to concede that that's just stupid otherwise I wouldn't be trying to convince myself that the entire thing is wrong.

Before I realise she's moved at all, Faith is standing close to me. Too close. I can sense her need to touch me, and I try to back away, bumping into Dawn as she enters the room.

"You'd think she'd be less clumsy being a slayer and all," Dawn says, shaking her head as she pushes past us. "Sometimes I think they switched her brain with an elephant when she was called."

I roll my eyes at her and stick out my tongue. Faith smirks at me and raises her eyebrow. Yeah, I'm thinking the same thing as she is. . .my tongue could so do with being pushed into Faith's mouth right now.

"It's late," Giles says, catching my attention. "I think you should all go to bed while Willow and I continue the research a little longer."

Kennedy starts to grumble from the corner, obviously not happy that her bed-partner is being kept away from her. I can't say I'm sad to see her all disgruntled, but I feel sorry for Willow having to lose out on sleep. Then again, it's her own fault for being all possessive about her laptop.

The gang start to clear away, saying their goodnights as I hover in the doorway with Faith's eyes stripping me naked.

"Think I'm gonna get some air," Faith says, dark brown eyes searching mine before she wanders over to the back door.

"Don't move too far away from the house, Faith," Giles calls.

"Sure thing, G-man," she answers, my gaze fixed to her butt as she goes.

"I need some air too, I'll keep an eye on her," I mumble, and follow Faith out.

I feel Willow's gaze on me every step of the way, but I don't turn around or stop my advance; Faith's ass is mesmerizing and forcing me to follow.

The night air is warm and still, and I sigh as it eases over me. It did feel incredibly stuffy in the house with so many people squeezed in there, and I do need to talk properly with Faith.

She turns and leans against the back porch as I close the door behind us. Her hand runs through the length of her hair and I smile at just how effortlessly gorgeous she is. They should stamp a warning on her body because it's definitely hazardous to a girl's straightness. Sighing, I lean against the house, facing her.

We stand in silence for a minute or two, just looking at each other. It's not an awkward silence, I'm just fighting not to throw myself at her and ask her to make me feel as good as she did last night.

"Do you normally go around making straight girls gay?" I ask, no hostility to my question as I smile coyly.

Faith chuckles, her eyes lighting up as she studies me for a second.

"It's not something I intended to do, B," she answers. "Can't say I haven't fucked around before, but I haven't gone after you to just put you on a score sheet."

Her voice softened as she spoke, and it gave her away just a little. Something about the way she's become with me over the last two days tells me I'm not just another notch on her bedpost. I can't see Faith being the relationship type, but then I'm not asking that from her. I shouldn't even be thinking of sex with her let alone anything more, so I really can't push her into telling me what more she wants. I don't know even what I want.

"Yunno, I've never. . ." I can feel myself blushing under her gaze as I think about what she did to me.

"I guessed that," she says with a soft smile. She's not mocking me, which surprises me somewhat.

I nod and take a deep breath. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be standing way over here, and she wouldn't be way over there if we were just two girls who didn't know anything about vampires and evil and all the responsibility that comes along with keeping it from taking over. I'd still be wary and a little frightened, but when it comes right down to it I'm not a girl who shies away from what she wants. I guess the only thing really keeping me from doing what I want with her is how heavy it would weigh on my shoulders if it distracts me from my slaying and saving the world duties.

Looking down, I can feel some of that weight resting on me already. There's no way I should even contemplate taking an unconventional shot at something pleasurable and fun just for me. I'm not here to be happy, I'm here to save lives.

"Hey," Faith says softly, her boots clunking heavily on the wood as she steps closer to me. She lifts my chin with a gentle finger. "I don't like when you get that look."

I gaze up at her, furrowing my brow a little in question. "What look?" I ask, not moving from the warm hand that's now caressing my cheek.

"The one that says you don't think you should be allowed a life," she tells me. "It's bullshit, B. If you wanna get with me it's nobody else's business. I'm right here wanting the same thing. Fuck. . .it's about all I can think of," she says, her face closer to mine, each hot breath letting me know exactly how near her lips are.

Staring deep into her eyes I fight for control. "That's just it, Faith. I can't let it be all I'm thinking of. That leaves me weak and distracted, and I can't be distracted right now. Plus, you're a potential. . .all the others would hate you if they knew. You're younger. You're. . ."

She shakes her head, her eyebrows showing me how confusing my excuses are.

"None of that means shit, B," she says confidently, her voice low and sexy, sending chills through me. "I'm not a kid; I'm nineteen in less than two months, and who the fuck cares about what anybody else thinks, let alone those fucking potentials? And you can't honestly tell me you're not distracted anyway, `cause I know I am. All I can think about is getting you naked and all over me."

She's even closer now, her leg drifting between my thighs as her body moves up against mine. Her thumb strokes over my cheek and she leans in further. I don't resist the urge to kiss her, but a bang in the kitchen behind us causes me to slip out of her grasp. I try to steady my breathing and stay away from Faith, but I need her and she can see it. I let her take my hand and lead me down the steps and around the house. We're up against the side of it before I can think.

I bury my hands in Faith's soft brown hair as she pushes me against the wall, kissing hot and heavy as we both give in to each other. I groan at the feel of her tongue twisting around mine as her left hand roams under my shirt. As I arch into the strong thigh between mine, Faith's fingers glide easily under my bra to my breast and instantly search out my hard nipple.

"Jesus, Faith," I gasp when she pinches and pulls, making my panties grow damp with need.

She smiles beautifully at me before losing her lips to mine again. I can't help but have to have them kissing me, her tongue probing and licking. I can only wonder just how good she really is with her tongue, the thought making me grind into Faith as she presses harder against me.

Just when I think I'm about to pass out from kissing her, Faith pulls her mouth away, kissing over my jaw and neck, breathing just as hard as I am.

"Let me fuck you again, B," she says, all husky and horny. "I wanna make you come for me."

My mind won't allow me to speak any words, but I'm guessing my deep moan made it clear what I want. Faith moves her other hand between us and makes quick work of my buttons as she undoes my jeans.

"Oh God, Faith," I sigh breathlessly as her fingers disappear into my panties and slide between my folds.

She heads right for my clit after slicking her fingers in my wetness, and I'm already shaking for her, my desire so great I can barely contain it. I can't believe I'm letting her do this again, but there's no way I can stop her when I'm so lost in the smell and feel of her.

The tight confines of my jeans and the fact we need to hurry before being missed don't allow her to be soft and slow; she's slipping hard and fast over my clit as I gasp her name once again. Holding onto her tightly as she kisses over my ear, I start to pant and shudder.

"You're so good," I manage to sigh out with her fingers driving me to climax.

It's like she knows exactly what I need and where. I can't ever recall anybody getting me to come so easily and so hard before. It definitely isn't helping me stay away from her.

"Do you have any idea how fucking hot you are, Buffy?" Faith says, her voice making my insides quiver as she calls me by my actual name. "I wanna fuck you with my tongue so much right now."

I want her to fuck me with her tongue too, just as soon as I'm done clinging to her and moaning out her name. I shake against her as she flicks her tongue over my neck and squeezes my nipple. I start to come hard, unable to hold on any longer.

"Fuck yeah," Faith groans. "Come for me, B."

There's no way I couldn't. My mind crashes into overload and I jerk against her fingers, my orgasm speeding through me.

She moves her mouth quickly up to mine to muffle my cries, and as I tremble to the end of my climax I slide down the wall a few inches as she struggles to keep me up. My legs have turned to jello and all I can do is fight for air as I cover her fingers in my come.

There's no time to enjoy the moment or show her that I want to make her come too as I hear the sound of the back door opening.

"Buffy? Are you still out here?" Willow calls.

At first I think it's best not to say anything or move, but I hear Willow making her way down the porch steps.

"Shit," I whisper, starting to panic.

Faith removes her hands from me, wiping the one that had just been in my panties on her jeans. I bite my lower lip as I see just how wet she'd got me. I'm doing my buttons up and trying to seem normal as we hurry from the side of the house. Faith looks all calm, smirking as she winks at me, but then she crashes into Willow as she turns the corner. Luckily neither of them end up on the floor, and I use the precious seconds where Willow's all flustered about the full body contact with Faith to rearrange myself so I don't look all mussed up.

That was far too close for comfort.

"Oh, I wasn't sure you were still out here," Willow says, her tone almost a squeak as she looks back and forth between Faith and I.

"We were just. . ." I begin, pleading with myself not to blush or say something stupid.

"Talking. . .about the axe," Faith finishes for me, her hands digging into the pockets of her jeans as she does her best to look cool.

She's pretty good at that. Now I know the signs I'm aware that she's never quite as laid back and indifferent as she comes across. I can see it now: the subtle movements, and her eyes giving her away to me. There's so much going on under her surface and it's fascinating.

Willow stares at both of us, her brain obviously ticking away even if she is being fooled by Faith's act. I hope she doesn't ask anything more, I don't think I could keep it in. I just came at the hands of the amazing girl beside me and I know it's gotta show, at least a little.

After a few moments of awkward silence Willow gets the hint that I'm not in the mood for small talk. "I just wanted to say goodnight," she explains, a slight smile forcing its way to her lips.

I nod and tell her goodnight and Faith does the same. Willow walks back to the house slowly, forcing us to follow or look even more guilty. I wanted to thank Faith, and to kiss her, but it'll have to wait now. We make our way into the kitchen and I hear a growl emanating from Faith's stomach. Chuckling I tell her to search for some 'easy' food, I'm feeling kinda hungry myself, though I think I want more than food.

Grinning to myself, watching Faith opening and closing cupboards as I think about the possibility of nibbling on her, I don't notice Spike coming up the stairs from the basement until he's right behind me.

"Now there's a sight for sore eyes," he says, making me spin around to him.

His eyes are fixed on Faith's ass as she bends to pull something from the fridge. I want to wipe the smirk from his lips and shove him back down the stairs but I stop myself. He's ignited the jealous spark I never knew I had until Faith came, however.

"If you want to keep your eyes, stop ogling," I tell him, shooting him a warning look.

Spike's ice-blue gaze turns my way and he looks right through me. "If that's a threat, I've got to wonder why you're being so defensive," he taunts. "She's certainly a hottie, but I thought we had history, Slayer."

Spike's grin is testing my limits and he knows it. He's pushing, and that's making me wonder if he knows something more.

"That's exactly what it is, Spike," I say coldly. "History." I make sure to emphasise the word as I sense Faith walking closer to stand beside me.

"Hey, dead guy. . .you're cool and everything but back the fuck off," Faith interrupts, before he can get his comeback out.

"Well look at that, the slayer's got herself a new puppy," Spike laughs, looking over the two of us. "I thought I was mistaken when I smelled you all over Faith this morning, but I guess my instincts were right."

I grit my teeth and clench my fists. The last thing I want is for Spike to know about my thing with Faith and use it against me. What we had was history all right. . .history that leaves a bad taste in your mouth. It's bitter and hurtful and lays around waiting to deal out some payback. It looks like he's stepping over the line into payback for everything we put each other through.

"I'm not anybody's fucking puppy," Faith exclaims, stepping closer to Spike. "You're the one with the dog chain, not me. You had your chance with her but it's time to step aside."

The dark glint in Faith's eyes is saying so much more than she is. She's squaring up with Spike, and he looks nothing but amused. Faith is no match for a vampire, certainly not yet anyway. I can't have him hurt her.

"Faith, go upstairs," I tell her. "I'll deal with this."

She turns to look at me, questions pouring from her without speaking a word. I smile softly at her and hope she can see that I'm not about to let Spike mess this up any more than I am myself. Shaking her head and throwing her hands in the air she leaves and heads upstairs.

"You've got that one well trained I see," Spike sneers.

After quickly looking around to make sure we're alone, I stride towards him and get right in his smug face. He's pushing all the wrong buttons if he wants to stay around for much longer.

"She isn't trained," I spit out.

"Coulda fooled me. Especially when I keep smelling you all over her, but I don't smell her on you," he responds, looking me up and down as I stand close to him. "You making her do all the work and not giving her anything back? Sounds like you're up to your old tricks again, Buffy."

"What?" I say sharply, momentarily caught off guard.

"Looks to me like you're using her. I thought that was something you reserved for me," Spike says, edging closer to me, his eyes moving over me like I'm his.

My hand flies up and I slap him hard across the cheek. The red handprint eases across Spike's face and I push him up against the wall, wrapping my fingers around his throat.

"It's nothing like that," I tell him, low and hard.

"You sure about that?" he asks, his words almost choked by my hand.

I look into his eyes, seeing my reflection in their dead gaze, the words sinking into me. Letting go, I push him aside and turn my back, my fingers rubbing over my brow. The question of whether I'd used Faith or not had come up in my own mind, I didn't want or need Spike to force it home.

"Doesn't seem fair on her does it, pet?" Spike continues, creeping his way closer again behind me. "She's just a kid, and there you are turning her little crush into something for you to use to scratch that itch that burns inside you."

My arm drops to my side, my body deflating as I realise he's telling me some home truths I'd shoved aside.

Spike rests a familiar cold hand on my shoulder. "There was a time you would have come to me to scratch that itch, Slayer. Not some girl that came here just looking for your protection," he finishes, making every word clear, his fingers touching me like he has permission.

Feeling instantly disgusted with myself for using Faith for my own selfish needs like I'd done with Spike, I spin around and shove him as hard as I can. He hits the far wall and it cracks. I don't want him near me. I don't want to be reminded of how low I'd sunk to be with him. And I definitely don't want it made clear to me that what I've been doing with Faith is very wrong. His intention was to make me feel bad, and it worked. Not because of his words, but because of what I know; what I've been telling myself since the day I realised I wanted Faith. I know it's wrong; he doesn't have the monopoly on that particular insight.

"Stay away from me, Spike," I warn. "Stay away from Faith, and don't even begin to think you can blackmail me with this. I'm not stupid; I should have been stronger. We're both aware I'm not perfect, but you know better than anybody that I can walk away and not look back."

Spike picks himself up from the floor unsteadily, blood oozing from the corner of his mouth.

"So you think you can just walk away from her?" he asks, a gurgled laugh rolling from his chest. "I hope you're right, because from where I stand you've been a very naughty slayer, and naughty slayers don't normally win great battles, they turn to the dark. . .and that's where I'll be waiting for you, Buffy. Right here in the dark."

I watch as he hobbles down the basement steps, his laugh lingering longer than his knowing glare.

I'm shaking and I don't know if it's rage or fear, or something else. I should never have allowed Faith to get under my skin, that's the only thing I know for sure. She's something I can't have. Something I shouldn't have reached out for, no matter how tempting, no matter how impossibly warm and inviting Faith is. Now I have to go upstairs and let her know I'm sorry for having lead her on. That we can't be together in the way she wants. In the way I want.

Gripping the banister as I head up to the room I'm sharing with Faith, I listen to the hush of the house. Everybody seems to be asleep or speaking softly as they settle down for bed. Nobody came rushing to see what the commotion in the kitchen was about and I'm hoping that's because they didn't hear rather than didn't want to get involved. I don't need everybody knowing my business right now. I don't really want to share my sordid past with Spike and my shameful trysts with Faith with the people I'm meant to be leading into battle. How can I lead them if they're disgusted with how selfish and weak I am?

The door handle turns quietly in my grip and I push it open, my eyes falling instantly on Faith as she gets up from the edge of the bed and walks towards me. I see her, beautiful, a stunning figure that cuts towards me, clawing inside me. . .but I feel Spike, his dead hands holding me down as he grins, letting me know that I've let myself down once again. I've taken what was on offer without any thought to the people around me.

I don't want to turn Faith into Spike, not in my mind and not in reality. She's worth more than that, and I need to focus on what I have to do to save the world, not on what I want in order to chase some of the cold out of my heart.

"You ok, B?" Faith asks, reaching her hand out towards me.

I feel my lungs fight for air as I realise I've just linked Faith to my heart, and I know I have to stay away from her touch. I can't have her touch and keep us both safe at the same time. I've used her, and I know I can't do it again. It goes much deeper than not having touched her in the way she's done for me. It goes deeper than I can bear to look. I'll never go back to how I was with Spike. I can't. She means more to me already than he ever did or could.

"I'm fine, Faith," I say unsteadily, moving past her to get ready for bed.

Looking everywhere but at Faith, I tell her I'm tired and that I need to sleep, changing for bed as she watches me from where I left her standing. I have no doubt she's completely confused right now. She's probably pretty angry too, but I can't deal with it right now. This thing can't go any further.

"I'm gonna pretend that you didn't just say you're fine, B, `cause you sure as shit don't look it," Faith says, making her way to her side of the bed.

I should probably tell her she can't sleep here. Hell, I should leave the room to her and go bunk with Dawn, but. . .there's something stopping me. Listening as she gets undressed and slides into bed, I fear the warmth her body will bring. She moves closer and I freeze.

"Faith, not tonight," I say firmly. "We can't. . .keep doing this."

"This?" she questions, thankfully not moving any closer.

"What we've been doing. What I've allowed to happen. . .it has to stop," I make clear. "You can stay here, but please don't touch me."

My voice is trembling and I don't know why. It shouldn't be this hard to walk away, to stop the inevitable.

"Right," she responds quietly, her voice sending a chill right through me.

The bed shifts and settles. I turn my head and see that Faith has moved to her side facing away from me, her dark hair splayed out behind her, close enough to lose myself in. I want to lose myself in her, and that's the problem. . .I once lost myself in Spike and the darkness he offered – as he reminded me - and it nearly destroyed me and everything I stand for.

As much as I want Faith. As much as I'm burning to feel her close to me, I can't let go of everything that's telling me it's not right. It's not her darkness that I want to hide within like I did with Spike, it's just her. . .all her, and that's not only scary, it's dangerous.

I turn to face Faith's back and will my fingers not to search for her hair just out of their reach. Tears silently slip from my grasp and I can't ask myself why. I won't ask myself why, but I do know that I want more from Faith than either of us can have.

We have a war to prepare for, and that's what I need to concentrate on. That's what I'm here to do.

CHAPTER SIX

The morning doesn't start out quite the same as it has been doing lately with Faith in my bed. Instead of waking alone this time, I regain consciousness to become fully aware that Faith is very much with me. So with me she's practically on top of me. Her leg is draped over me and her arm is thrown around me, hand reaching up so her fingers can twirl in my hair. It's something I've started to get used to at night, but by morning she's normally up and gone before I open my eyes.

Taking a few moments just to indulge in the contact, knowing I should end it so I can stick to my guns this time, I let the morning roll over me and wake me slowly. I feel mentally drained. Physically tired. How many times can I convince myself I don't want this, and that I can't have it, only to crumble at the first touch from Faith? What she's offering is too powerful to fight easily. I'm going to have to use every ounce of strength I have left in me, so I can move past it and keep myself sane.

I prise my eyelids open to force myself away from Faith as she sleeps, but as soon as I glance over at her I realise she's not asleep at all. She's leaning on her hand, just looking at me and smiling gently. I'm pretty sure this wasn't in the plan. I'd told her not to touch me, and here she is. . .all touchy and feely and making my life hell.

"Faith," I say quietly, the morning harshness clinging to my voice, making it low and hoarse. "I told you not to touch me. Why are you. . ?"

Faith interrupts. "See, I was thinking about that, B, and yunno what? It's complete crap," she informs me, her warm body temporarily making it impossible for me to argue. "We both want the same thing, so you shouldn't let anybody fuck with that. There's nothing wrong with wanting when that person wants you right back. You'll get it. . .and when you do I'll be right here, `cause I ain't givin up, B."

She smiles broadly at me, a stunning dimpled smile that leaves me almost as breathless as the kiss that follows. Her lips hit mine and relentlessly make me yield to them. Faith kisses me fully and forcefully, not letting me have any doubts about her intensions. I can't help but move my lips against hers just a little as my breath hitches and my body responds.

All I can feel is her lips and her heat, pulling me into her like I don't have a will of my own. But she doesn't linger long, pushing herself up and off me as she climbs over me and out of bed. I watch her every move, caught up in her like she's tangling me in a web. Of course, she's practically naked and wearing the smallest pair of panties I've ever seen, so it's not making me want to look away like I should. Then she stretches right by me. My gaze travels over her, sliding over her neck and down to her breasts as they stand proud, their dark nipples enticing and arousing. I try to look away but I let my gaze drift lower instead, feasting on her firm stomach as she stands in all her glorious. . .gloriousness.

My mind has left the building. How can I make myself not want her when she looks like that?

I do my best not to stare at her panties, but I'm losing this battle already. I wish I could reach out and rip every last piece of clothing from her, including the holy socks she's wearing again. Doing my best to breathe normally I get distracted by the tattoo I'd seen snaking over her hip the other night. It's some kind of black tribal bird of paradise, curling over her hip and heading down over her stomach at the side of her adorable little belly button. It's a beautiful work of art, made more impressive with the light tan to her skin and the slight outline of small muscles.

Without realising I'd sat up I reach out with my fingers and trace the outline of the bird's tail feathers arching over her hip, trailing them over and down towards the top of her panties where the tattoo disappears a little as it swoops lower. I stop at the edge of her underwear and am transfixed. She's so close. I'm so close to taking, to seeing, to having her be mine. But what would I do with her?

I'm not stupid, I know what I want to do with her. . .but beyond that I'm lost. What would we be? Lovers, or girlfriends? Friends who fuck? Would she be my dirty little secret? I can't answer any of my thoughts, and that's telling me to keep strong and remember what it felt like last night to fear that this is too much like what happened with Spike.

My fingers drift away from her and she reaches out to take my hand, just holding gently as she looks down at me. I get lost in her eyes and the connection of our fingers as she brushes her thumb over me. I want this to be easier. I really do. She doesn't deserve me being the way I am, pulling her in and pushing her away. It's making me nuts so God knows what it's doing to her.

I drift back to thoughts of her kissing me; telling me with the press of her lips that she's sure of what she wants and where it's going. I wish I was as sure because I need her lips on me again. Her eyes darken as she inches closer and replaces my hand on her stomach. I feel the slight tremor that runs through her at my touch and it's intoxicating. Faith's eyes are burning darkly with passion and desire, but I can see so much more. I see wonder, uncertainty, a vulnerability I'm sure she'd hate me seeing. I can't trust those vulnerabilities to me. I don't want to give her false hope.

Pulling back again I take a deep breath and shake my head, her eyes still trying to draw me in. We're both startled from the tension with a knock at the door.

As I pull the covers up around me even though I'm not the one stood around half-naked, Faith turns and asks who it is. Willow answers and Faith roll her eyes, grabbing my robe from the chair close by. She shrugs it on and it's even shorter on her than it is on me. She looks. . .damn it, she looks sexy as hell with her hair all tousled and her chest all cleavagey as she leaves the robe a little open instead of pulling it around herself. Willow is going to faint if Faith opens the door like that.

"Faith, wait," I utter, but it's too late.

Faith pulls the door open and Willow stares at her, blinking as she holds her hand out ready to knock again. I can almost see the hormones rushing through her as she fights not to ogle Faith. I've tried that, it doesn't work. It's like Faith was made to be ogled.

"Hey, Will," I say, looking past Faith and throwing Willow a lifeline.

"Hey," she stutters back. "I have some good news."

"Well don't just stand around, Red," Faith says with a grin. "Come in." She leaves the door open for Willow and moves to her side of the bed where her clothes are strewn around.

Willow cautiously enters, not quite fully closing the door as she keeps her eyes on Faith. It's actually making me a little uneasy. I mean, I know it's hard not to look at Faith when she's. . .clumsily trying to pull on her jeans under my very ill fitting robe, but hey, Faith is my. . .I scrunch my brow and get Willow's attention with my hand.

"Sorry," she mumbles, sitting on the side of the bed and facing away from Faith so she can't watch her get dressed.

"So, what's the news?" I ask, my eyes flitting back to Faith at every opportunity.

It's not my fault I can't keep my eyes to myself if she's wriggling around, getting into her jeans and letting the robe drop so she can put on her bra. I might be drooling in fact, which I'm pretty sure would be a massive giveaway. I should stop looking. Stop wanting her so damn much it aches.

"It's Kendra," Willow says, finally getting most of my attention as Faith pulls on a tee shirt. "She's just about to leave LA with her watcher, so she should be here in a few hours."

"Great," I say, distracted by all the black Faith is wearing.

Why do I have such a weakness for people who wear lots of black? She does look particularly edible in it though. All mysterious and sleek, and. . .I'm really not doing well at keeping my mind off her and sticking to my hope of staying away.

"So. . ." Willow begins, glancing towards Faith and losing her train of thought as Faith stumbles around trying to put her boots on.

She knocks over the lamp on the desk as her ass backs into it and I can only hope she gains more poise and balance if she becomes a slayer. It is adorable though, especially as she keeps mumbling swearwords to herself as if nobody's watching. I shake my head and chuckle as the boots are finally pulled on and secured, leaving the room a little safer.

"Catch ya later, B," Faith says with a wave as she blusters out of the door. "I hope Andy's got his apron on, I'm fucking starving."

We hear her greeting potential slayers who are waiting for the bathroom, a yelp letting us know she's smacked at least one of them on the ass. The torrent of abuse that follows indicates that it was Kennedy. Willow sighs and I can't help but laugh.

"You like her don't you," Willow says, not really having to ask.

I'm guessing my smile gave it away, though I hope she doesn't mean that I like her like her; I don't want to arrive at that conversation just yet.

"She's. . .different," I say, trying to pick my words carefully. "I mean, sure she's kind of infuriating and annoying, but she's a lot more than that. She'd make a good friend."

I hope I didn't stutter on the word friend too much. Thankfully Willow doesn't seem to have picked up on it, or anything else. She just smiles and nods.

"So, Giles thinks it would be a good idea to take the potentials out shopping to get them geared up, yunno. . .before all the shops close down," Willow tells me as I get out of bed and retrieve my robe to put on. "He says some of their clothes are 'unsuitable for slaying duties', and he wants us to get some new weapons."

"Sounds great," I nod. "He always hated my choice of outfit when it came to patrols. I tried to tell him that looking good came with the job. It's part of my calling," I say with a grin, thinking back to all the silly outfits I'd tried to slay in. I must have destroyed a small rainforest of clothes over the years. . .not that my clothes were made out of wood.

"He's going to hire a minibus tomorrow and take them. I don't honestly think he knows what he's letting himself in for," she says, looking suitably worried.

We might possibly never hear from Giles again if he takes all those girls shopping for clothes. I hope Andrew goes with him at least.

"I've been told I have to go with," Willow continues. "So I was hoping you'd come along too, so you can be there to save them if I turn all evil again."

I look over at her and wonder if she's serious, both about me going and about her going all dark-Willow again. Her little grin gives her away and I relax.

"There is no way I'm going shopping with a bunch of adolescent girls," I say firmly. "I had enough of that growing up with Dawn. That's a nightmare I really don't want to visit again."

"I know, but it was worth a shot," Willow says with a giggle.

We make our way out of the room and I book a place in the shower queue. You'd think I'd be first in line considering who I am, but just like with the soda I have to wait for the girls to finish up first. I guess it's my fault for not being an early riser but I can't break the habit of a lifetime.

*****

For most of the day I don't see Faith. She's busy with Giles and the other girls, learning about the art of being a slayer. I almost decide to sit in on one of the lessons, feeling the need to learn about it myself, but I doubt Giles would be too happy if I started asking more questions than the potentials.

As lunch rolls around I get pushed into the plan to teach Faith and Kennedy some basic hand to hand combat moves. The idea doesn't sit easy with me. I don't want to spend that much time in the presence of Kennedy for one thing, but mainly I just don't think I can be that close to Faith and keep on the straight and narrow, pun fully intended.

Giles is insisting and looking all fatherly at me so I guess I don't have a choice, but I can still be slightly pissed about it.

"Kennedy is with Willow at the minute helping her and Andrew prepare some warding spells, but Faith is waiting in the basement for you," Giles informs me. "I told Spike to leave it free for you as it's probably best the other potentials aren't aware you're giving extra tutelage to Faith and Kennedy."

"And the noisy grunting definitely won't give us away," I say sarcastically, blushing a little as I realise just what I said.

"I'm sure you can contain yourself, Buffy," Giles says, a painful smile crossing his features.

I'm not sure if he's thinking what I'm thinking but I sure as hell hope he isn't. I don't want him imagining me and Faith grunting for reasons other than physical combat. That's just all kinds of icky.

I make my way down to the basement, feeling butterflies attempting to take flight inside me. I try to suppress them but realise slaying butterflies is not my strong point.

"Thought you'd never get here," Faith calls to me as I leave the last step behind me, wishing I could run back up them and hide.

She's wearing far too much black, and her eyeliner is thick, making her eyes seem even darker and more dangerous. She pushes herself up from her sitting position on Spike's bed and strolls towards me. I feel trapped, caught in the headlights, hooked on her. . .hook. I have to stay strong, and professional. I can't let her reel me in again.

"I was just making sure Giles had plenty of first aid supplies," I say, feeling my muscles twitching. Eager to see how Faith moves when she's fighting.

"I'm pretty sure he'll have plenty for ya, B. Wouldn't want his slayer getting banged up and full of boo-boos without enough band-aids around." She winks at me and I lick my lips.

This could be fun.

We get right to it after I show Faith some quick stretches, which were rather distracting given the fact I couldn't take my eyes off her. She's not too bad at swinging punches and the kicks I show her don't seem to be too difficult for her. Faith is lacking strength, but her agility is surprising. The combinations she's putting together would test any normal person and she hasn't had any formal training.

"You're pretty good at this," I tell her as we relax for a moment, our bodies still circling in fighting stances.

"Told you I could hold my own, B."

I chuckle at her grin, actually feeling proud that she's much better than Kennedy is. We're working up quite a sweat, and I think I'm doing well with not pouncing on her and tearing her clothes off. Maybe I'm getting the hang of ignoring this desire I have for her. I'm kidding myself of course; I'm tingling all over when she touches me and finding it hard to breathe when we get caught locked together. Each time I've landed on my back with her on top of me I've thought one thing. . .that I want her naked and writhing all over me.

These thoughts are just too hard to push aside, and the distraction is allowing her to beat on me more than necessary. I know she's holding back though, even though I'm a slayer, and it's kinda cute. I told her she didn't have to but she said doesn't feel right hitting me for real. I know how she feels; I really don't want to keep knocking her back on her ass when she gets her timing wrong. At one point I let my fist fly at her a little heavily and her nose bled. I wanted to stop and make sure she was ok, but Faith wanted to continue. She's no pushover, and definitely not any kind of wuss.

"Come on, give me your best shot, B," Faith says, her eyebrows bouncing playfully as she beckons me forwards.

"You sure you can handle it, F?" I ask, gaining a wide grin for my use of a parallel nickname.

"I can handle everything you've got," she tells me, the double meaning not lost on me at all as her eyes roam over me.

I want to tell her she can have everything I've got, but that would defeat the whole idea of not going there again. Instead of replying I launch myself forwards, not too quick and not too hard, just enough to make her spin a kick my way for me to dodge. I duck under her leg and grab her around the middle, hoping to pull her to the floor and declare victory once and for all.

As my arms slide around Faith she manages to get her hands tucked under them and she shoves. I go flying backwards towards the very concrete wall. Hitting it with a crack I slump to the ground, looking up at her in shock. She just threw me across the room without too much effort; I think we can safely say that's not normal.

"Shit, B. . .I'm sorry," Faith gasps, hurrying towards me.

She doesn't get far before she falls to the floor, her hands holding her up as she comes to a rest on her knees. Something is obviously wrong. I get up quickly, brushing flecks of paint from me, and move towards her.

"Faith, are you ok?" I ask, kneeling in front of Faith, swooping long hair out of her face so I can see her.

"Feel like I just got hit by a fucking truck," she responds.

She's shaking and looking puzzled and I think I know what just happened.

"Faith," I say softly, reaching out to her. "Take my hand."

She looks up at me, nothing but trust in her eyes; trust that pretty much blows me away because I haven't seen her do that with anybody here. Faith takes my hand in hers and I ask her to squeeze it as hard as she can. She nearly breaks it and now I'm sure.

"What is it, B?" Faith asks, a slight tremble to her voice that makes me want to wrap her in my arms.

"I think Kendra's dead," I tell Faith sadly, saying a little prayer for Kendra in my head.

Faith sits back on her haunches, her eyes searching mine. I feel the difference, like a distant hum somewhere deep in my stomach. Hell, I can see the difference. Faith isn't just a potential anymore.

"You're a slayer, Faith," I tell her, keeping her hand in mine.

She blinks a few times and runs her free hand through her hair. "No fucking way."

"I'm pretty sure," I nod with a smile.

Faith looks confused, switching between almost smiling to frowning and back again.

"I didn't think. . .never thought it would really be me," she says, trying to stand.

I help her up and walk her to the small bed. We sit down and I don't let go of her. I can't let go of her.

"Well, you're the chosen one, Faith," I say proudly, not hiding my smile.

"Some chick died and I get. . .fucking super powers. As much as Giles told me about all that crap, it's freaking me out a little here," she says honestly. "Man, Ken's gonna be pissed."

We both chuckle at that thought.

"The Powers That Be must have seen something special in you," I point out, still unable to hold back my smile.

"Yeah? Well they must be fucking crazy giving this to me." Faith looks down at her hands as they gradually stop shaking.

I take her hand back in mine and try to catch her eye. "I don't think they're crazy, Faith. I think they chose well."

She takes a deep breath and just stares at me for a second. I can see the emotions running through her, churning her up before finding a place to settle. I really hope she's strong enough to deal with this because I don't want her to break down or lose control.

"I feel something," she says quietly. "I think it's you."

Faith's eyebrows express her uncertainty perfectly as she lifts a hand to brush an unruly lock of blonde from my brow. I'm caught in her spell as she searches through all her new senses, her brown eyes dazzling me in the dim light of the room.

"I feel it too, Faith," I assure.

She smiles then tucks her hair behind her ear, looking up towards the ceiling.

"Wow, I can hear everything that's going on up there," she chuckles. "That's kinda weird."

"You'll get used to it."

I can't stop smiling at her as she looks at the world with new eyes, new more powerful senses. It takes some time getting used to, but I won't lie. . .it's pretty damn special.

"Kennedy is gonna shit," she says in her normal eloquence.

I laugh and tell her "Just don't die and give her the satisfaction of being the next slayer."

"I'll do my best," Faith nods, her eyes back on me, driving right to the center of me.

The training we've been doing is going to have to step up a notch. She has power now, and that sometimes makes you feel invincible, especially at the beginning. I don't want her getting hurt, now more than ever.

"We'd better tell Giles, he'll want to force you to read the handbook and set up a training schedule, then he's probably gonna want to do some tests and stuff," I tell her, getting to my feet.

"Whoa, hold yer horses, B. . .tests? Schedules? I'm not into that kinda crap," she says, shaking her head. "All the lowdown I need on this sitch I can get from you."

She looks more worried about the tests than she does about the possibility of being eaten by demons. I sit back down and let her calm herself.

"I'll teach you all I can, Faith," I confirm, turning to face her completely. "You're going to have to do some of Giles' stuff too though. He'll want to teach you things I can't."

Faith shakes her head again and rubs her brow.

"I'm not great with the learning thing, B. Never was," she explains softly.

I can see the fear in her eyes. The walls she keeps up around herself are becoming pretty see-through to me and I know there's something she's not saying.

When I ask her to tell me what she means, gently pushing every time she pauses, she gives me the gift of knowing about her. She tells me about her home, growing up, her parents; everything. I sit and listen, pulling every bit of information up like a sponge. We sit for about an hour, swapping stories and getting to know one another. It's definitely a good thing, especially now she's going to be fighting side by side with me, once I'm sure she'll be safe of course.

Faith seems a little shocked that she's told me so much about herself, telling me she doesn't normally spill her guts for just anybody. I swear I saw a slight blush when she said it, but I couldn't be certain. It still made me smile all coy and girly, but then she hit me in the arm - forgetting about her new slayer-strength and using full force – and I almost went tumbling onto the floor.

We eventually made our way out of the basement and went to tell Giles. He was sad about Kendra, as was everybody when the news broke. Giles seemed proud that Faith had been the one to be called, however. I don't think he likes Kennedy much either. I guess you could say the girl suffers from her own bad press, or maybe it's just her big mouth.

Most of the potentials congratulated Faith warily, their jealousy showing. Kennedy stormed out of the room with Willow trying to calm her down. It was quite a funny sight and I shared a little smile with Faith.

It feels a little weird having another slayer so close. I met Kendra and she stayed in Sunnydale a few days, but. . .she was a little unusual, and nothing like Faith at all. I got the same little slayer-tickle inside from Kendra, but with Faith it feels deeper. I don't know why and I'm certainly not going to look too far into it but it's definitely different. I also feel like gravitating towards her even more now than I did before, which is just not helpful when I'm trying to cool it with her. I'm all kinds of confused, about what Spike said and about what I think of it. Would it really be so bad if I were to just let myself be closer to Faith? I don't know the answer.

Maybe I'm just scared of the answer.

"So, B," Faith says cheerfully, getting my attention. "You gonna let me come slaying with ya? Can't wait to get in a little night time ungh with the vamps."

I raise an eyebrow at the motion that went with her sexy little "ungh".

"I don't think so, Faith. Not yet," I tell her.

Her face falls and I feel instantly bad, like I just took her favorite candy away.

"Buffy's right, Faith," Giles adds, saving me from being the only bad guy. "I think it's best we work with you on some of the major slaying techniques before you rush into anything. We don't want to throw you in the deep end without first teaching you how to swim."

Faith scrunches up her brow and looks at me. "Why's he going on about swimming? I just wanna beat some vampires up. . .one of em kinda got me in the mood to do it," she explains, looking between Giles and I.

It wasn't easy getting her to stay at home while I went out to slay, but eventually she stormed off to sulk and I left for the nightly patrol. She didn't look happy at all, but it's for her own good. She'd only rush in and get herself killed before I have the chance to ever work this thing out that's between us. I think it's becoming clear to me now that what we have - what we could have - is nothing like the sordid affair I had with Spike. She's not him and never will be, and we're not drawn to each other because we want to inflict pain on one another. I just need to be sure. I need to trust in what she feels and what I feel. I hope she can forgive me for being such an ass last night.

I make it home after dusting a handful of vampires. There were no scary demon types out tonight, just the usual bloodsuckers looking for a suckee. I did manage to get a nasty knock to my leg, but I'm sure the limp won't be as permanent as the mess the guy made of my pants. I hate it when they have icky long fingernails and start scratching at you like a demented cheerleader. It so doesn't make the vamps look as tough as they try to be, and that takes some of the fun out of turning them to dust.

When I walk through the door, shrugging out of my jacket, I see Giles striding towards me. He doesn't look happy.

"What is it?" I ask, sensing something's wrong.

"It's Faith," he says and my blood runs cold.

I try to ask what happened, but the words get caught in my mouth.

"She had a little. . .argument with Spike," Willow pipes up, coming down the stairs carrying Faith's bloodied clothes.

My eyes are wide as I stare at the small bundle then look from Willow to Giles.

"Is she. . ?" I can't speak.

Willow notices I'm panicking and reaches out to me. "She's ok, Buffy. Just a little shook up and. . .a little bit battered and bruised," she tells me, helping my heart slowly work its way back down my throat. "Spike came off worse. He's quite a mess," she adds, a sly little grin crossing her lips.

I feel my body do its best to un-tense, but the only thing that's going to put me at ease is seeing Faith and making sure she's ok. I don't quite get why I'm so worried and doing the whole freaking out thing, but I'm not going to stop and analyze it just yet; I have to check on Faith.

"She's in your room, Buffy," Giles lets me know, as if he's sensing what I'm feeling.

Not stopping to wonder if they're questioning why it's Faith I'm rushing off to see and not Spike, I charge up the stairs three at a time.

CHAPTER SEVEN

Pulling open the door to my room I prepare myself to see Faith all battered and broken on my bed. What I see makes me smile and grimace at the same time. She's propped up on most of the pillows, jiggling around as she hammers her thumbs away at Dawn's X-box controller as Dawn giggles beside her. I just stand in the doorway and stare at the scene. Somebody certainly went through a lot of trouble to make Faith comfortable: bringing in the spare TV and the X-box, and placing a huge bucket of chicken beside the bed.

"Oh, hey, Buffy," Dawn says, greeting me with a big smile. "Thought Faith could use something to keep her occupied what with all the laying around and being beaten up."

"Hey, I wasn't beaten up," Faith grumbles. "He just got lucky."

I shake my head and wander further into the room, my gaze roaming over Faith as she lays back in a pair of my shorts and her tatty old Motley Crue tee shirt. I'm pretty sure it must be her favourite one, even though it has a rip on the one side and the lettering is all faded.

"Well, isn't this cosy," I say, glancing towards the carnage happening on the TV. I don't know what game it is, but there seems to be a lot of blood flying around.

"I should probably go to bed," Dawn tells Faith, slipping off the bed and smiling at its occupant. "You can keep the X-box in here. . .and thanks again for what you did."

Dawn looks away shyly then leaves the room. I really can't quite work out what's going on and I hope Faith is in the mood to tell me. I don't like being left in the dark.

"Wow, you have a real knack at chasing her away," Faith chuckles, placing the controller to the side as she gives me her full attention.

"It's a sister thing," I explain.

I sit on the edge of the bed facing Faith and kick off my boots. There's a bunch of questions I want to ask her, and not all of them to do with what happened with Spike. Whatever happened she's not looking too badly hurt. I can see a small cut above her eyebrow and she's holding her ribs as she moves, but apart from that she looks ok. It's definitely a relief.

"So, are you gonna tell me what happened?" I ask, soft enough for Faith to realise I'm not about to start yelling and accusing.

"Kinda happened in a blur," she says, running a hand through her dark curls. "Yunno, once I'd decided to beat the crap out of him."

I nod and wait for her to continue. When I realise she's not offering up any more info I press a little more.

"And you decided to beat him up why?" I ask her, not sure if she really needs an excuse after how she'd witnessed him stripping away my dignity.

Faith looks away for a second, but when her eyes land back on me all I can see is her. No façade, no walls, just her. The deep parts of her that draw me in every time I decide I have to stay away.

"It was coming to him, B," she says decisively. "What he'd told me about you two, and the way he fucking spoke to you last night. . .I couldn't leave it. He tried to make out to you that I was something you shouldn't have, right? That it's wrong for you to get with me. And I had to let him know that he's the one that's fucking wrong."

My hands plead with me to reach out and touch Faith but I keep them still in front of me, just watching her face as she tries to explain.

"I was riled up about it, then he said something off to Dawn about you. Something about how you couldn't resist the killer types. . .and I just snapped," she explains. "I pushed him down the basement stairs so nobody would see, then I beat the crap outta him."

I try to hide my smile. She can't just go beating people – and supposedly good-guy vampires – up whenever she wants, even though her reason is pretty understandable.

"I can't say you did the right thing, Faith. You can't use your strength like that. Not only is it wrong, but you could have been hurt." I look over her as she rests back in the bed. "You were hurt, and that's not something I want. . .I mean, you're a slayer now and I'm going to need you in top shape."

She smiles a little at me, her eyes dazzling in the lamp light. "That the only reason you don't want me hurt?" she asks, her eyebrows doing a little wiggle to emphasise her point.

Shaking my head I chuckle. Of course she knows it's not the only reason, but I'm not about to let her in on my little secret, no matter how obvious it is.

There's a pause in the conversation as I stare off into space, thinking about how I can possibly convince myself to keep away from Faith now. My attention is soon drawn back to her when she moves and hisses with evident pain.

"You ok?" I ask, resting my hand on her thigh.

"Yeah, just a bitch of a pain in my ribs," she tells me. "When does the whole slayer healing deal kick in? Thought we were meant to be hot chicks with superpowers."

I smile at the little pout she has going on and try to explain some things. "It's not instant, Faith, especially when you're first called. You'll heal quicker, but don't go thinking you're a superhero," I warn her. "You won't be quite as invincible as you'd like for a little while either. The toughness takes longer to kick in than the strength."

"Great," she grumbles. "Shoulda told me that before I went flying into a wall."

Furrowing my brow I gently rub her leg. "Sorry," I practically whisper.

Faith raises an eyebrow and places her hand over mine, her voice low and engaging as she tells me it wasn't my fault. "I was the one who rushed into the sitch, B. I was pounding on him pretty bad; just kinda lost it yunno. The things he'd told me started coming back at me, making me wanna hurt him," she explains.

There's no way I'm going to ask her what Spike told her, but I have no doubt every little sordid detail passed his lips. He was always a gloater, and he obviously thought Faith was interested enough in me for him to tell all. His reasons seem pretty clear to me. Jealousy is never a nice road to take a trip down.

"It wasn't really fair of you to take him on when he couldn't defend himself, but I do get why you did it," I tell her, hoping she understands that with her power comes responsibility. "Just don't do it again."

I'm not defending Spike, but I can't let her take that route; the one where she'd become lost in the power to hurt and to kill. I don't want to lose her to that.

"I know I shoulda backed off," she agrees. "That fucking smug look he had though. . .I just wanted to rip it off his face. And it's not his place to go messing in your business."

Nodding, I twist my fingers in hers, not completely realising just how intimate it is, or how telling it is. I just like touching her.

"So. . .you beat him up pretty bad huh," I say, my small grin escaping just a little.

"Hell yeah," she confirms. "Until he got pissed at having me pound on his face and kicked me in the ribs. He went down from the zap to the brain he got but I went flying into a wall, then got buried under a bunch of fucking boxes. That's how I got this," she says, pointing to the cut on her forehead. "A fucking ice-skate hit me in the head, sharp side first."

Suppressing the chuckle that wants to escape I try to look nothing but concerned. It's not my fault I can't let go of my favourite ice-skates and they decided to attack Faith. Lifting my free hand I brush her hair away from the small cut and touch her gently beside it. It's already clearing up pretty quickly. Cuts always seem to heal better than broken bones.

"So, he broke your ribs even with the chip in his head and my skates finished the job," I say, holding in any kind of amusement from the situation. "I think we need to do more training."

Faith laughs, her gorgeous eyes lifting me up in them as she gets that it is just a little funny.

"Hey, you're the one slacking on it, B. I'm always ready for ya," she responds with a grin.

"I don't doubt you are, Faith," I say softly, my body urging me slowly forwards to kiss her.

The tentative advance in showing her that I'm more willing to explore this thing between us is interrupted as Willow strolls through the open door. I spin to look at her, pulling my hand from Faith's.

"I put your clothes in the wash, Faith," Willow says cheerily. "I'm sure you didn't want vamp blood getting all crusty on them."

Faith thanks her and I get the feeling Willow wants to speak to me alone as she looks at me weirdly, jerking her head towards the doorway.

"I'll be back in a little while," I tell Faith, ignoring Willow's questioning gaze as I squeeze Faith's leg and smile.

When we get to the corridor after I close the door shut Willow places a hand on my shoulder, making me stop and turn towards her.

"I hope you weren't too hard on her," she says, furrowing her brow and looking worried. "He was being mean and Faith just reacted. It's probably all those new slayer hormones running around inside her. Or it could have been my fault. . .I told her that Spike's bad news for you, and that I wish we didn't need him around."

I'm a little shocked at how she's coming up with excuses for Faith. I didn't realise Willow even liked her at all, but maybe Faith is gaining herself a little fan club. I know I've been pulled in by her so it's not hard to imagine that others will eventually realise just how much more there is to her than what she first shows you.

"I wasn't hard on her, Will," I assure. "She shouldn't have gone postal on him, but. . .I can't really blame her."

"She's finding it tough I think," Willow points out cryptically.

My puzzled look pushes her on, but it doesn't seem like she really wants to explain what she means.

"I mean. . .being here, with us, the potentials, you," she says, her eyes beginning to dart around, indicating that she wants to avoid saying anything more.

Though I'm rattling around in my brain trying to come up with a response, I can't find one. It sounds like she's trying to tell me she knows something about Faith and I, but I can't tell for sure, and I'm not ready to start talking about it myself so it's fine with me. I can just pretend I didn't understand what she was getting at, and we can avoid the whole embarrassing subject, for now at least.

"It's hard for them all," I say decisively, making it clear we won't be doing the sharing thing about Faith right now.

"I guess," Willow mumbles as she goes to her room and I make my way downstairs.

Lifting my hand up to my face, I rub at my forehead and wonder just what I've gotten myself into. I don't know if I'm ready to deal with people wondering about my sexuality and who I choose to like. It's not something I've had to deal with before. Sure, I've had the whole 'dead boyfriend' thing that gets people talking and wondering about my sanity, but I've never gone girl-on-girl and given everybody even more reason to wonder if I'm crazy. We didn't all completely freak out about Willow when she came flying out of the closet, but they all expect me to be different. They don't expect me to have wants or desires. I'm their little hero - as flawed as I am - so it's hard for them to think that I might want something that's just for me. And I definitely want Faith to be just for me.

It's something I'm going to have to deal with if I give these thoughts and feelings about Faith the complete go-ahead. I'm guessing we could only keep it secret for so long before it starts becoming obvious what's going on. Still, I think I'll hang on to the secret for a little while longer. Maybe at least until after we beat the big bad and get clear of this pesky apocalypse.

The only problem is that Spike knows. As much as I'm wondering if Willow has an idea, at least she's not sniffing Faith and working out that I just came on her. . .that would be gross and wrong. But Spike has been able to smell that, and he's guessed even more. If I want to keep this secret I'm going to have to make it clear to him that what Faith did to him is nothing compared to what I can do to him if he opens his mouth and blabs.

I walk softly past the sleeping potentials and smile at the ones still reading or talking in the low lamplight, making my way towards the basement door. Nobody says anything to me, but I can feel their eyes on me as I creep through the lounge.

When I get to my destination I stand over Spike, looking down on him as he sleeps the sleep of the dead on the small bed. At least I think it's the sleep of the dead. . .I mean, he is dead after all.

"Hey," I say sharply.

He doesn't move and I take the opportunity to glance over his heavily bruised face. Faith really did a number on him. His nose is broken badly and his eyes are all puffed up. That'll take more than a day of vampire healing to clear up. While he's still unconscious I take hold of his wrist and slap the shackles on him that are imbedded in the wall. The chain clanks against the frame of the bed and he wakes with a start.

"What the. . ?" Spike whines, pulling on his arm and realising he's chained up again.

"You'll stay that way until I know you can be trusted," I inform him.

"What? Shouldn't you be chaining up that bloody crazy slayer?" he exclaims through his swollen lips. "If you haven't noticed, she's the one who went psycho on me, not the other way around."

He points to his mess of a face and I shake my head. "We both know why she did it, so don't try to worm your way out of it. I'm not taking the risk of you looking for revenge."

"Bloody hell, you're both as crazy as each other. Well suited is what I say," he moans. "She can have you. . .I'm not into driving myself nuts over women like you anymore."

Spike continues to grumble and whine but I've tuned him out. All I hear is his jealousy, his crumpled hope that we could one day go back to how we were. I feel sorry for him. Not in the "I want to hold him and care for him" way, but in the pitying him way.

He's just as pathetic as he was when he wrote poetry for his mother, never leaving her side, only ever wanting her love. No matter what he's done as a vampire, killing and maiming, he's still just a mommy's boy who needs and craves female attention. He doesn't know what to do with it when he gets it, however, so he'll always be a simpering fool for what he believes is love. I don't doubt he thinks he still loves me, but it has more to do with the fact he wants all my attention. His little attempt last night to put me off Faith was a schoolboy's foot stomping act of desperation.

We're over. More than over. . .but he can't bear to lose so instead of trying to prove to me that he's worthy, he tried his best to destroy something that could truly make me happy. It makes me sad. I always had hope for him. I thought he could fight with us and leave the past – our past – where it belongs: in the grave.

"I'll say this once, Spike," I tell him, getting him to focus on me. "If you want to live you'll get in line. I don't need you to help with this fight, but it would be good if you could. If you ever talk to me about Faith, say a word to anybody else, lay a finger on her or make me mad in any way. . .I'll push you out into the street to be demon bait. Do you understand?"

Blue eyes try to cut their way inside me but he has no power over me anymore. He lost that when I realized just how disgusted with myself he made me feel.

He slips his tongue over a sharp fang but nods his head. I'm sure he can tell how serious I am. I'll give him this chance to prove to me he's not the lowlife I think he is right now, but after that. . .it's game over. I'm done holding his hand. Done thinking I need him around. He's just another vampire with a soul, messing with my head and brooding over me like a tragic little puppy. It's not my fault they always think I'm their property and get all bent out of shape when I make it clear I'm not. Sometimes I wonder if vampires have their brains rewound when they're turned, making them act like they're thirteen year olds with crushes. . .and nasty teeth and the urge to slaughter and kill. Sounds a lot like a thirteen year old boy to me, I nod to myself.

I leave Spike to sulk as I make my way to bed, passing Giles on the way and informing him to keep Spike chained up for now. He nods and doesn't ask about it, which I'm grateful for. I don't want to deal with questions right now, not when I have all my own.

When I get back into my room I see that Faith is under the blanket, sprawled out on her back asleep, her tee shirt and shorts flung over the top of her bag. The TV is still on and the X-box controller is resting lightly in her hand. I quietly make my way towards her and turn off the TV, then take the controller. She whimpers cutely but doesn't wake.

My eyes settle on her as she breathes gently, her face relaxed and beautiful. I don't understand how she's managed to get me so wound up in her already but there's no way for me to get away from it now. I want to be with her. . .have something with her. I don't know what, but something. More than friends. More than just her getting me off when I'm feeling the need.

Walking as silently as possible around the bed I strip out of my clothes down to my panties. I think about putting on a tee shirt but decide not to. I love the way Faith's skin feels against mine, and I'm going to indulge in it just a little. It's soft and warm and all kinds of sexy when I can feel her like that so I'm not going to deny it to - or for - myself now.

I crawl into bed, trying not to wake Faith as I settle beside her. Her arm is flung up over my pillow as if she's waiting to curl it around me, so I snuggle up to her and rest my head on her shoulder. This is fairly new to me; I don't normally go out of my way to snuggle. Post-sex snuggling isn't so bad, I wouldn't normally kick Riley off me when he wanted to do that, and with Spike it wasn't an issue. Angel wanted to cuddle after the one-time sex, but that's not the part of that experience I remember the most. The fact he woke up and started killing people is what stands out in my mind.

I want to be close to Faith, though. She smells so good and it feels so nice. So right.

Faith moans in her sleep and wraps her arms around me, pulling me a little more on top of her. She whispers my name and I watch as her eyelids flutter open.

"Hi," I say quietly.

Her smile is the most gorgeous thing I've ever seen. Dimples making it cute and full lips making it sexy. It has me melting all over.

"Musta dozed off," she says sleepily. "And I think I've got that concussion thing Giles was rambling on about `cause you're all kinda naked, B."

I chuckle and rest my head back down on her shoulder, feeling tiredness pull me down.

"You haven't got a concussion, Faith," I assure her.

"Score," she says with a grin, her hands gliding over my back.

My skin tingles where she's touching me and I instantly heat up. I'm not sure I'm ready to leap into the fray again just yet, however.

"I just wanted to feel you," I tell her.

"Works for me, B," she responds with a soft smile.

"I mean. . .can we just stay like this for a while? Without making with the confusing sex?" I ask, hoping she understands.

"Sure, Buffy," she answers. "I'll wait as long as you want; I know it'll be worth it. Can't say I'm not itching to get all wriggly with ya, but I can deal."

"Thank you," I tell her, rubbing my cheek against her shoulder. "It's just. . .new for me. I'm still not sure I should even consider it, and I just think I need to take my time."

"I hear ya," she says, squeezing me to her a little. "You should definitely consider it though, B. I feel something for you and I know you feel it back. . .and I'm not talking about the slayer vibe thing. I felt it right off the bat. Can't shake it now I've had a taste; I just want more."

I smile as her voice gets all mumbly and sleepy. Her eyes are closed again and her breathing is levelling out as a quiet snore starts up. She's asleep before I can answer and tell her that I'm willing to give it a go because I can't shake it either.

Letting my weight rest on Faith just enough not to hurt her ribs I take a breath full of her scent and close my eyes. I fit perfectly into Faith, slotting in to all the right places. It sounds so clichéd, but it's true. Her skin is warm and silky against my own, the simple pleasure of it making me sigh happily as I lightly kiss her neck and begin to drift off to sleep completely forgetting why I ever thought I needed to stop this from happening.

*****

My eyes slowly slide open as I feel Faith moving around in the bed. It's still dark and through the blur of sleep I can just make out that my clock says 4 o'clock in the morning. I must have changed position during the night because I'm on my stomach, facing away from Faith. My arm is thrown up over her chest still, but I'm not nearly as close as I'd like to be.

I get ready to move and turn towards her but a soft sigh stops me in my tracks. Faith's breathing is kind of quivery and deep and at first I'm worried, until I hear a soft moan. I know right away what she's doing and I'm stuck between feeling embarrassed and incredibly turned on. It's probably her first visit to the hungry and horny place and I'd told her we couldn't have sex; I certainly don't blame her for needing to relieve the tension.

Slowly, I turn my head to face Faith and bite my lip as I let my gaze take in the sight of her trying to quietly get herself off. She's stunning in the moonlight as it bounces off her, making her glow as she tries her best to keep still.

When I move my body round slowly, turning onto my side so I can face her fully, she stops moving altogether.

I say the first thing that comes into my head, whispering close to her ear, "Don't stop."

Her leg is hot against me as she lays with them spread open a little way, her arm disappearing under the covers that have been pushed down to her stomach. I can't take my eyes off her and I really don't want her to stop. She pauses, tongue wetting her lips as she decides if she should continue. Thankfully she gives in to her need and starts to move her fingers again, sighing almost silently.

I'm pressed close to her, drowning in her smell and the feel of her body gently moving against me. I'm too scared to take over what she's started, but too turned on by her not to do something at least.

Reaching under the covers, letting my fingers drift down Faith's arm I reach her hand. Faith groans and rocks her hips upwards. Keeping her panties as a barrier between my hand and hers, and my hand and her pussy, I spread my fingers out over Faith's. I just want to feel what she's doing. I need to feel the heat coming from her as she slicks her fingers over herself.

"Fuck, B," she gasps quietly as she moves her fingers quickly over her clit.

I bury my nose into her neck and let my lips taste her skin, nuzzling against her as she starts to tremble. She's close and I can feel myself dripping for her. Wanting her. I can't push that far, though. Not yet.

"Let go, Faith," I say quietly, tickling my lips over her ear, wanting to hear her reach her climax.

Faith's body jerks as her breathing hitches, the sound of her fingers sliding wetly over her pussy making me sigh right along with her.

"God, I want you, B," she moans, her fingers moving faster beneath mine as she starts to come.

"I know," I say softly. "I want you too. . .and the next time you come it'll be for me, with my tongue inside you."

She moans deeply as she comes, her body lifting to her touch as I grasp her fingers with mine through her soaked panties. It's the sexiest thing I've ever seen or felt. Her head is thrown back and eyes tight shut, breasts exposed and begging to be sucked and licked; each breath a sigh as she trembles to a standstill.

"Fuck," she groans, settling back down.

All I can do is smile and look at her as she slips her hand from her panties and takes mine within it, her sticky fingers entwining with mine. I don't pull back, enjoying the sensation of her wetness on my fingers. The texture of it and the scent of her come makes me want to lift her hand to my lips so I can taste her. It makes me feel brave. Maybe brave enough to really give her what she needs, but not quite. I'll do that for her soon but right now I'm happy to bask in her afterglow and hold her hand.

I kiss her shoulder and flick my eyes up to see her soft smile.

"Didn't mean to wake ya, B," she says huskily, her breathing still a little ragged. "Couldn't sleep and just felt way horny."

"It's ok," I reassure her. "I'm glad I did wake up. And I'm guessing your little run in with Spike got you all worked up."

My fingers squeeze Faith's and she chuckles.

"You can say that again," she admits. "You're lucky I wasn't humping your leg or something."

I grin and slide my leg over Faith, pressing as close to her as possible. "We can try that tomorrow," I say with a nod.

"Fuck yeah," she responds, her grin lighting up the room. "I'm gonna hold you to that comment you made just before I came too. Was a wicked hot image, B. . .shoulda been there."

"Oh, I was," I assure, smiling coyly.

We both laugh, no weird tension between us to worry me or make me feel all guilty. I'm going to have Faith, there's no doubt about it. I want her touching me again, and I so need to do it back. The thoughts running through my head need an outlet, no matter how wary I am of doing it wrong or just not being good enough. I'm guessing Faith makes it seem easier than it is, but it's not like I'm a nun, I have had plenty of sex before. I know what to do to feel good, so I hope I can do that for Faith. I'll certainly try my best when it comes to it. I want her shaking and moaning for my fingers. . .not her own.

I have to stop running scared.

Faith's gentle little snore lets me know she's fallen asleep again. I guess that means she's not expecting anything more from me even though I'm awake and going as far as holding her hand when she comes. It makes me like her even more. She's not demanding anything of me, and that makes me want to give her everything. I never would have guessed she was like this underneath all the rough edges and the crass comments. There's much more to her than meets the eye and I like it all.

There's a strange sensation inside me, crawling around in me. . .gripping at parts of me I thought were frozen in time. Faith has swept into my life and it feels fuller for it. It's the only way I can explain it. I'm not sure what exactly it is I'm feeling for her, but like Faith said, it's just there; unshakable.

Gripping tighter to Faith I allow myself to relax again and start the slide into sleep. She makes my bed a much nicer place to be. I think I can go as far to say she's not only turned me kind of gay, but she's also created a snuggle-monster. . .though it's only her I want to hold on to. And also do lots of naughty things with.

CHAPTER EIGHT

When I open my eyes to greet the morning I'm instantly dazed in happiness as I feel Faith pressed against me as I lay on my back. One of Faith's arms is under my head with the other thrown over me, and a leg is nestled between mine. All the skin on skin action is certainly a nice way to wake. There's no way I'm going to wear clothes to bed again if I'm sharing with Faith. This feels far too good.

I smile through my yawn and stretch myself out a little, causing Faith to shuffle around. As she moves I feel a trickle of drool slide from her mouth to my shoulder but I can't seem to find it in me to be grossed out in any way. She's too adorable, all sleepy as she gets her arm tangled in the sheet when she tries to lift her hand to push her tousled hair from her eyes.

Helping her out, I free Faith's hand from the sheet and she runs it through her hair, smoothing the curls down as she blinks her eyes open.

"Morning," I say, still smiling as I get my first look at her beautiful brown eyes for the day.

"Mmm, slept good," she yawns.

I can't help but kiss her nose as she cuddles closer to me. She's holding me tighter now, her fingers stroking over my skin. I think I want to stay here for the rest of the day, all drowsy and wrapped in Faith's scent and limbs. Maybe I could yell for breakfast to be brought up for us so we don't have to move. It would be a perfect idea expect for the fact whoever caught us like this would probably drop my scrumptious breakfast to the floor in shock.

"Yunno, you're kinda comfy, B," Faith chuckles. "Never really been the cuddle type but I just wanna keep hold of you."

Her voice is all husky and low, the words slurring out as she closes her eyes again. They made me smile from the inside out, which is kind of weird; I don't think my insides have ever smiled before.

"Can't say I've ever liked the snuggling much," I admit softly. "I guess you're making me like all kinds of new things, though."

We both laugh gently; the feeling of Faith chuckling against me reminding me that she's so much more than just a snuggle-buddy. Of course, it helps that her lips are now brushing over my neck. I couldn't possibly not think about just what Faith could be to me while her lips are touching me like that.

I relax into the sensation of Faith's lips and let out a small moan. I hadn't meant to, it just slipped from my grasp with all the tingles her mouth is making as she sucks softly at me.

"You like that?" she asks, the burr to her voice sending a shiver through me.

I sigh and nod, my hands gliding up over her smooth back as she shifts position a little so she's hovering over me, her leg still between mine.

"I like everything you do," I say, feeling my body charging up everywhere that Faith's touching.

Looking up into her eyes I feel myself being completely taken in by her. It's like I'm spinning into one of those whirly portal things, but I don't feel dizzy anymore, just happy to let myself go.

Faith smiles adorably and leans down to capture my lips with hers. I was expecting soft and slow in our sleepy state, but almost right away we're kissing all gung-ho with our tongues sliding and dancing. I guess we've waited long enough to do this properly so a little bit of morning haze isn't going to stand in the way of raging hormones.

As Faith holds herself over me I run my hand from her back to her side, my palm mapping the smoothness of her skin as I go back and forth from her hip to the soft curve of her breast. Faith moans into my mouth when my thumb brushes her breast a little more boldly. The delicate feel of it practically makes me whimper as I come close to checking out her girliness. Before I can fully appreciate Faith's tempting breast hovering so close to my fingers, she moves away. Without warning she's between my legs and kissing down my neck to my chest.

"Faith," I murmur as her warm mouth brushes over my already flushed skin, lips closing in on one of my hard nipples.

She smiles against me and I lift a hand to entwine my fingers in her soft hair, holding her head gently to me as she teases feather light kisses over my nipple. I react instantly, my hips raising just enough to bump into Faith, bringing us together. I need her. I really, really need her.

"I want you moaning for me, B," Faith says between lightly pulling at my nipple with her lips. "And coming hard for me."

I can safely say she'll get both if this continues, and I have no intention of stopping her now. My groan of approval makes Faith grin into my breast as she lays fully on top of me, resting her weight down so we're pressed together. Perfect lips move to my other breast and nipple, sucking it into her hot mouth and causing a flood between my legs.

Her mouth is sucking and tongue flicking as I let my free hand roam down to Faith's sexy ass, fingers squeezing at her as she pushes into me. We both sigh out, and I'm betting it would feel even better without our panties on. . .and that's saying something `cause it feels fucking incredible as it is. The unmistakable feel of her pussy pushing into me is pretty much all I need to start whimpering for more.

"I want you, Faith," I say breathlessly. "I want all of you."

Flicking her tongue over my incredibly hard nipple Faith looks up at me through her long eyelashes. I almost come from the look she's giving me, but I just about manage to hold off.

"You can have me," she assures, licking and kissing her way downwards. "Just as soon as I'm done fucking you senseless."

I shudder just a little as Faith's tongue reaches the top of my panties. I miss her warmth and her pussy trying to fit snugly into mine, but all new thoughts are crashing through my mind now as I think about where she's going. I should stop her from continuing because I really want to be doing something to her, but I'm quickly turning to jello. Unless I pull her to me and flip her over to have my wicked way with her I'm pretty much stuck here with the prospect of having Faith go down on me. Which is a pretty nice prospect, so flipping her over might have to wait.

"God you smell good, B," Faith practically purrs, her fingers tripping over my solid little nipples as they move down.

My hand is still in Faith's hair enjoying its lush texture, my other hand already gripping the sheet beside me as she heats me up all over. I'm so wet for her it's almost embarrassing and she may have to work hard at not drowning if she plans to venture into it. It makes me wonder if she's half as wet and all I can picture is her pussy and my tongue, and my tongue sliding into her pussy. I'm pretty sure I've never thought about the other person that much before with the prospect of having oral sex performed on me. Usually I'm so happy my partner is going to do it I'm just laying back and crossing my fingers, hoping they won't screw it up. With Faith. . .I'm not just thinking about my needs and desires, I'm thinking about her and wanting to do the same for her. It's definitely a new one for me. I almost want to ask her to turn around so we can do this together, but I'm already blushing at just the thought.

"Can I eat your pussy, B?" Faith asks me huskily, her eyes looking up at me from between my legs.

I can feel her fingers gripping the waist of my panties, eager to pull them down and off. I'm so ready for this. For her.

"Can I eat yours?" I respond, wondering how my voice got so low and sexy, and just how I'd managed to say the words without turning seven shades of red.

Faith's pupils go wide, her lips curling into a delicious grin. I can almost sense that her pussy just started running like a river for me and I want in it. I want to cover myself in her, taste her and fuck her until all she can do is whimper my name. . .but I'm guessing somebody in power somewhere hates me because I'm sure I can hear footsteps approaching the door.

"No, no, no," I groan, hoping I'm wrong.

"What?" Faith asks, her words muffled as she drops kisses over my soaked panties.

"Door," I manage to squeak out, my mind in a spin as I feel Faith's lips pressing more firmly over me.

"Huh?" comes Faith's distracted response as she loses herself to just how wet I am for her.

She moans into me, pushing her face into my pussy and making me press against her. Two more seconds of that and I'm gonna come panties or not, and whoever is right at the door is going to get one hell of a surprise.

I push Faith's head away from me with the hand in her hair, but she resists, a little whimper coming from her as she tries to get her lips back to my pussy.

"Faith," I say quietly, trying to get her attention.

"Come on, B. . .just wanna. . ."

I push again, a little harder as feet stop shuffling and halt at the door. "Faith, there's. . ."

A loud knock startles us both and I sit up, shoving Faith again, a little too hard as she goes tumbling out of the bed.

"What the hell, B?" Faith groans as one leg remains up on the bed tangled in the sheet, the rest of her laying sprawled on the floor.

"I'm sorry," I whisper to Faith, then more loudly address whoever it is that disturbed us. "Hold on, won't be a minute," I yell.

"It's ok, it's just me," Willow shouts back through the door. "Just came to tell you Giles needs to speak to you before we go."

I forgot they're all going to the Mall this morning.

"Ok, we'll be down in a second," I tell her.

She moves away from the door and I hear her skipping down the steps. Falling back to the bed I let out a deep breath. "That was close," I mumble.

"Yeah, well you woulda been closer if you'd ignored her and let me finish the job," Faith gripes from her position on the floor. It wasn't quite what I'd meant but it's half right at least. "And what is it with her anyway? Her fucking gay-dar screwy or something, making her catch girls out when they're trying to get their naughty on?"

I chuckle and peer over the edge of the mattress. Faith is tangled in the sheet and struggling to get free while her foot jiggles around on the bed.

"I doubt she has any idea about us getting naughty, Faith," I say, probably trying to convince myself as much as anything. I sit upright again to stop the blood rushing to my head and making me doubt myself. "She just has terrible timing. And so does Giles for that matter. . .but I'd better go see what he wants."

Faith groans into the rug and her foot goes limp. Gripping the side of the mattress once more, I look over the edge.

"Little help here maybe?" Faith mutters, waving her hand in the air in submission.

*****

Once I'd gotten Faith untangled from the sheet and avoided all flirtatious and tempting looks, touches, kisses and. . .everything else Faith seems to do to me without thinking, we got hastily dressed and freshened up in the bathroom –separately- before bounding downstairs.

Giles is waiting impatiently by the front door, glancing at his watch. I tell him I'm sorry as Faith breezes past, wearing my very tiny shorts and her tatty old tee shirt again; it's all kinds of distracting, especially as she didn't seem to think she had time to put a bra on. I manage to pull my eyes back to look suitably apologetic to Giles and he starts telling me about how long they'll be and that it's just me, Faith and Spike left in the house.

"Remember that Spike's still chained up, so he'll need feeding at some point," Giles reminds me. "And don't leave the telephone ringing, it could be an emergency."

I nod and wait for him to leave so I can get back to Faith. The minibus is packed full of potentials all squirming around and arguing and I can see Willow grimacing in the front seat. I'm sure her eyes look a little darker than they should be but who can blame her? If she goes a little evil and turns some of them into chickens I think I'd bake her a cake with the eggs.

"There's just one more thing before I go, Buffy," Giles tells me. "We've found something out about the axe you found and it's extremely interesting and promising news. We'll fill you in on it as soon as we get back. Maybe you should also prepare yourself for a little outing later. . .the information could lead us to something that needs investigating."

I nod and am about to ask more about it, but a yelp from the minibus gets his attention and we see Andrew almost falling out of the window as he waves Giles over.

"Can we go, Mr. Giles?" he shouts. "The girls are getting a little grabby."

Giles shakes his head and tells me we'll talk about things later when he gets back. As soon as I watch the minibus turn the corner with them all safely aboard I close the front door and head towards the clattering I can hear in the kitchen.

Leaning against the partition leading from the dining room to the kitchen, I watch Faith as she rummages through the cupboards. The bottom of her shorts ride up perfectly as she reaches up to grab something from a high shelf. Her legs are gorgeous, and they lead up to a gorgeous ass, which makes her gorgeous tiny hips look just right and her gorgeous. . .I shake my head, trying to stem the flow of drool threatening to make me look like a giant dork.

"Looking for something?" I ask as Faith busies herself glaring into the cupboards.

"Wicked hungry, B," she says by way of explanation.

I saunter towards her slowly, my gaze never leaving the firm curve of her backside.

"I'm hungry too," I say slowly.

"Maybe there's some bread someplace to go with the peanut. . ."

Faith doesn't get the rest of her sentence out as I slide up behind her, pressing close.

"I think I'd rather eat you," I inform her, gliding my hands up over her small hips.

There's no way I can just let this morning go without being with her, not after the way we woke up and the way she got me dripping for her.

"That so?" she asks looking over her shoulder at me.

"Yep," I say matter-of-factly.

My nose nuzzles into Faith's neck through her thick hair, taking up every drop of scent I can. I let my fingers lightly grasp at her hip with one hand as the other drifts forwards, around to her stomach, following the flow of her bird tattoo. She leans her head to the side so I can nudge her hair a little out of the way and kiss soft skin, my fingers leaving a hot trail over her as I move them down to the top of her shorts. I don't stop like she's probably expecting –and to be honest it's kind of shocking to me too- tripping over the material keeping her barely covered.

Fingers slowly sneaking over the swell of her pussy through the shorts, we both sigh quietly as I hold her intimately. Faith's hips move ever so slightly forwards, letting me know how much she wants me to touch her and to rid us both of the material keeping my fingers from exploring.

I feel her start to twist round in my arms, probably wanting to take control or at least do something other than just stand there while I feel her up. I don't want her to move just yet, though. I'm happy taking my time to touch her as if she's mine. Keeping Faith still as I press her gently into the counter, holding her in front of me as my body fits close to hers, I let my other hand move towards her breasts. My mind is on meltdown already with the heat coming from her crotch under my palm, so I may as well go for a full blowout by getting a hand full of her boob too.

The soft swell of her braless breast slips into my hand as I glide it upwards under her shirt, causing both of us to start breathing much heavier. My fingers are moving over her pussy with a mind of their own, stroking over Faith through her shorts. I can't quite believe I'm being so bold, and here in the kitchen too, but I guess I have my limits like everybody else. When shove comes to push I know when to let my guard down and take what I want, and I've never wanted anything as much as I want Faith right at this moment.

"I wanna fuck you, Faith," I whisper across her neck.

"Yeah? You got a funny way of showing it, B," Faith jokes with a grin as she arches against me.

I smile and flick my tongue out over her, tasting the salt of her skin. It almost makes me dizzy thinking about her taste and what other tastes I can get from her. There's just one thing on my mind and I can't shake it free. It might involve diving headlong into the scary part of the girl-on-girl stuff, but nobody could ever accuse me of not being up for a challenge. I've always taken on the scary stuff and won, and now that I'm not running scared from Faith I want to experience her fully, wetly, deeply.

Without warning I move my hand from being on top of the shorts to being inside them, pushing into Faith's panties as her hand shoots up to disappear into my hair, holding me against her neck. I don't wanna rush past all these slow parts to get to what I want just yet. I'm quite happy to keep my hand on Faith's breast with my fingers circling her hard nipple, as I -almost shyly- dip in between her folds.

We both groan as I make first contact, slipping easily over her, letting her arousal coat my fingers. Faith is already soaked, dripping out onto my fingers as I glide them back and forth, teasing over her swollen clit. It feels kind of weird, but damn sexy at the same time. I've never imagined what another girl would feel like until Faith, and I have to admit it's all kinds of a turn on. She's the same as me but totally different. Her lips are smaller but her clit bigger, which I'm glad about. . .at least I won't go missing it and leave her frustrated. That would be embarrassing.

"Jesus, B," she hisses as I circle around her sensitive clit softly. "You really wanna do this here?"

Right now I couldn't care where we are, I don't want to stop, not again. I kiss upwards to Faith's ear, my lips brushing over it as I whisper, "We can go back upstairs if you want, but either way I'm going to have you coming all over my tongue."

Faith groans deep in the back of her throat and before I can react to hold her still she spins in my arms and kisses me deeply. My hands get jolted from their positions and I'm forced to rest them back on her hips as our tongues slip out to meet each other, twisting and plunging as I get giddy with how good a kisser Faith is. It's deep and hungry and making my eyes roll back as we grab at each other, pressing and pushing our bodies as close as possible in a battle neither of us want to back down from.

I eventually decide to get back on track as I break away for air, looking up into Faith's dark eyes as my hands move to the bottom of her shirt and pull up. Faith doesn't resist, letting me tug the tee shirt up and over her head. Fired up from the kiss she just gave me I waste no time in getting fully introduced to her amazing breasts, dipping my head down and taking a dusky nipple between my lips and tugging just a little as I suck, my hand filling itself with the other one.

It's not clear which one of us is moaning more as I take my time moving over her chest, sucking and licking each nipple in turn until Faith pulls me back up to her mouth. I whimper just a little because I was really enjoying myself down there, pulling noises from her that had my clit twitching and throbbing with need.

Faith moves her hands under my shirt, sliding up towards the clasp of my bra, but it's my turn to do this to her. I don't want to be distracted by the mind-numbing orgasms she could give me.

"Nuh-uh," I mumble over Faith's lips. "My turn."

Not giving Faith the chance to argue, I move her hands out from under my shirt and place them on my shoulders. My lips graze over her jaw and neck as I go all out and start peeling down her shorts and panties. I wait for protests, but I guess Faith is too worked up to care where we are. I know I am. It's not like anybody is around to see; everybody's out, and there's no way I could stop right now anyway.

My mouth travels over Faith as I push the last of her clothing down and help her step out of them. She's naked before me and I can't help but take a few seconds to just stare at her. There's no hint of shyness about Faith, no sign that's telling me she's going to bolt because I'm being a giant perv. She just looks hot, and horny. Her body is glistening with a thin sheen of sweat, breasts full and nipples distractingly erect for me, her pussy barely covered by a thin strip of dark hair, just waiting for me to claim it.

"God, you're. . .like. . .sexy," I murmur in a daze.

Faith grins and looks deep into my eyes as they finally lock with hers.

"And I'm all yours," she says softly, almost too quiet to hear.

It makes me want to kiss her silly, so I do, crashing us back together as we practically feed off one another's little moans. My fingers slip over her pussy once again as I slide my arm between us, spreading her juices everywhere as she presses against me. I think I could stand here touching Faith like this forever, just enjoying the wetness pouring from her for me. Making her come like this isn't the way I want to do it, however. I made her a promise –kinda- so I'm going to follow through on it, gladly.

Placing both hands on Faith's hips I lift her easily upwards and sit her on the counter in front of me, stepping instantly between her legs.

"Fuck, that's cold," Faith squeals adorably. "Give a girl some warning next time."

I look up coyly at Faith through my eyelashes, letting her grin make my insides spin before kissing her quick and hard. I don't linger at her lips too long, wanting to kiss other places more than I have the right to given my total lack of experience with such things, giving rather than receiving anyway.

"Guess I'll just have to warm you up," I say, kissing down over Faith's chest, sucking on her nipples before going further and reaching her stomach.

"You're already doing that," Faith admits with a soft sigh as my lips brush the top of her small patch of dark hair.

I can't help but smile even though I'm getting nervous as hell with what I'm about to do. There's no room for nerves when I'm feeling this turned on though, so I quickly banish them to the back of my mind, concentrating on the desire to show Faith how into her I am so she has no doubts, and I have no doubts left to make me keep pushing and pulling and driving us both insane.

Using my hands to gently ease Faith's legs apart as she perches on the edge of the counter top, I move my head lower as I settle on my knees. Her scent almost makes me pass out with how good it is, the heady mix of musk and heat making me groan. It's nothing compared to how she looks, all wet and shiny and pink and delicious. I want to take a picture and keep it in my back pocket so I can feel what I'm feeling right now whenever I want. I think my butterflies have grown into mutant sized ones and my mind is on slow-mo, all my basic thoughts and functions broken down to one deep need within me. . .to take Faith into my mouth and suck on every inch of her.

"B," Faith practically whimpers above me. "Buffy. . .fuck me," she tells me, not quite a demand and not quite a plea.

I guess I've kept her waiting long enough.

Not stopping to answer or nod I move in closer and take my first taste. The words yummy and oh-fuck-me explode into my brain as I lap at Faith slowly with my tongue, drawing it up from her dripping center to her clit. I never knew it would taste and feel so incredible. Why the hell don't guys want to do this more often? I have no doubt I'm going to be doing this all the time to Faith from now on. Hell, I might have to keep her permanently naked and attached to my face.

Shaky moans tell me that whatever I'm doing is good for Faith too, which is a relief; I wouldn't wanna be crap at this and not get the chance to do it as much as possible. Breathing hard into her pussy as she gets wetter and wetter I get a little more sure of myself, circling my tongue around Faith's hard clit as it peeps out nice and swollen for me.

"Oh, fuck," Faith gasps as I go from circling to flicking and back again. "Oh, yeah, that's it."

Faith's hand is in my hair and I press firmer against her, pushing her legs up over my shoulders and immersing myself in her wet heat.

"So good," I mumble, gaining a little whimper just as my lips take in more of her pink flesh as I start to suck.

Holding her solidly against me as she leans back on her free hand, I move my kissing and sucking lower, leaving her clit behind to explore other areas. I get to her opening and tease my tongue over it and around it, dipping inside a little further with each sweep. Faith's trembling leaves me completely aware of what I'm doing to her, along with the sexy sounds drifting down to me from above. Faith's deep moans have been replaced by what I can only describe as girly sighs and whimpers as I enter her more fully with my tongue.

Jesus, she feels like fucking heaven around my tongue. I'd tell her but I don't even think I could manage to talk with my face buried in Faith's pussy. I don't hold back as I stiffen my tongue and start fucking her with it, unsure of exactly what I'm doing but left in no doubt about my effect on Faith as she pushes back against me with every plunge.

"Holy shit," Faith gasps breathlessly as I go deeper and faster, licking up inside her. "Oh fuck, that's good, Buffy."

Faith starts to shake and I can tell she's close, gasped "ohs" and "ahs" making me tremble right along with her.

Wanting her coming all over my tongue as hard as possible I move a hand from her hip and slip my fingers in between her folds, finding her clit throbbing for me as I slide over it firmly.

"Fucking, fuck. Oh, fuck," Faith cries out not holding back. Thrusting against my face as I thrust back, my tongue as deep as I can get it.

I feel my own pussy quiver as I come unexpectedly when Faith bursts into my mouth, coming hard and long with my tongue wriggling up inside her tight hole.

"Oh, fucking shit, Buffy," Faith squeals, grasping in my hair with one hand as she breaks a chunk of the kitchen counter off with the other.

I keep buried inside Faith as she pulses around my tongue, her come easing into my mouth, hot and sticky and all kinds of just about the most incredibly erotic and tasty thing I've ever encountered in my entire life. She just surpassed chocolate, on all levels, and I think I'm falling in love with her.

"Jesus, B. . .come here," Faith pants, trying to catch her breath as she encourages me upwards.

I slowly slide my tongue from Faith's pussy and kiss over her soaked lips, drinking down as much of her as I can before having to get back up from my knees. Her skin is all flushed and shiny and I need it against me. Pulling Faith down from the counter top as soon as I'm standing again, I wrap my arms around her and kiss her deeply. She kisses back just as deep and passionately, her arms completely circling me as she stands, still trembling from her orgasm as I hold her as close as I can.

There's a part of me, in fact lots of parts of me that never wants to let go. She's warm and gorgeous and sexy and. . .beautifully, perfectly her. If Faith isn't into the relationship thing I could be in trouble because I don't think I want this to end. I like being around her, sleeping with her, the snuggling, and the sex is just beyond mind-blowing already and I know there's a lot more we could be doing if we weren't stuck in the kitchen. I really hope there will be more. . .of everything.

That thought breaks me away from Faith for some much needed air and potentially difficult questions. But any words I wanted to ask are sucked right from me with the way she's looking at me. My whole body feels like it's being swept up into Faith as she gazes at me, her chocolate brown eyes full of tenderness and desire, and what I think is more than just a little of the L thing.

Maybe it's wishful thinking, hoping that we could be on the same page and want the same things. I know we both want the sex, but I have no clue how she'd feel about anything else. I have no clue how I'd really feel about anything else, for that matter. I want this to continue, without a doubt. And I want it to be more than sex, but there's so much more at stake, to think about, to worry about.

A soft hand brushes the side of my face as Faith gently keeps my eyes locked on hers. We're both breathing heavily again, and I don't think it's from the sex or the prospect of more. It's something deeper. Surely.

If it is something deeper, then I can't hold it in. I've spent a lifetime holding things in and regretting it.

"Faith," I say softly, my mind following my body's lead, "I think I'm fall. . ."

A loud "oomph" sound from behind me breaks my flow and I watch Faith's eyes go wide. Oh. Crap.

Spinning, keeping Faith protected behind me against the now broken counter, I turn to see Giles and Willow staring just as wide-eyed at Faith and I as we are at them as they clatter into the kitchen from the dining room. A few of the potentials stumble to a stop further back and start giggling and looking highly embarrassed. Not as embarrassed as me I'm betting.

"Giles, I can explain," I say shakily as Faith hides, naked behind me.

"I'm sure you can, Buffy," Giles replies, his eyebrows fixed to his receding hairline. "Though I'm willing to bet the obvious is indeed the only explanation needed."

He clears his throat and tentatively reaches out to the counter closest to him to retrieve what looks like a brown wallet.

"Forgot his wallet," Willow offers, her voice just barely a squeak. "And the rest of us wanted drinks for the trip back."

This is very awkward and I'm fully aware that Faith is still naked behind me. I stoop to pick up her shorts and tee shirt only to have her yelp and smack me on the arm.

"Hey, hiding here, B, don't go blowing my cover," she says in a hushed tone.

"I think they know you're there, Faith," I point out.

"Oh, we definitely saw that," Willow nods almost excitedly. Kennedy shakes her head in amongst the small pack of staring girls, and once more storms out because of Faith.

"Crap, and I thought I was being all stealthy," Faith mumbles with a shrug, pulling her tee shirt on over her head and trying to climb into the shorts at the same time as I attempt to shield her from glaring eyeballs.

I could really do with the ground opening up and swallowing me, but I'm not certain that would be much of a better choice given the fact we live on a hellmouth. It would at least be nice for them all to stop staring.

"Ok, the cat's out of the bag, the game's up, I'm caught red handed," I say, loud enough for everyone to hear. "Just in case you missed it, I'm sleeping with Faith. . .in a naked way, with the grunting and the moaning and everything you're thinking of right now."

Willow blushes and Giles swipes at his glasses while Faith stumbles up beside me, looking at me like I've grown another set of arms.

"You can get the giggling and the talking about it out of your systems now," I continue, apparently on a roll. "It's not like it's a crime. . .I think." I furrow my brow and glance at Willow. She nods, so at least I know I'm not about to be arrested. "We're grown up adults and just happened to not be able to find our way to the stairs when we. . ."

"Got a little frisky?" Faith offers, her eyebrow raising in question.

"Exactly," I respond with a nod. "So, show's over, folks. Nothing more to see. No more naked Faith. . .at least until I get her upstairs and alone."

I grab hold of Faith's hand and lead her through the crowd towards the stairs. I know I'm blushing furiously, and wishing I'd stopped talking about ten minutes ago, but it's done now. There's no point in freaking out about this. . .until maybe later, when I realise just how un-secret my little secret is now.

"Oh, great, just rub salt into the wound why don't you?" comes a pissed off yell from the basement as we leave the scene in shame.

CHAPTER NINE

Each breath I take is driving me closer to the edge, every sensation burning and building within me until all I can do is sigh Faith's name over and over. She's kissing every inch of my face, telling me I'm beautiful and amazing, and that all she can think about is me. Whispering that all she wants is me. It's making my heart pound harder in my chest, and it's already beating pretty quickly from the way Faith's moving against me.

"I love the way you feel against me like this, Faith," I manage to breathe out, my lungs sucking in the air around me as we move faster and harder.

I wince a little as I feel a twinge of pain in my side from the deep injury I'd gotten earlier. It's healing quick, but still sore.

"I'm sorry, B," Faith says softly, kissing my nose and pulling her weight off me just a little.

I don't want her to move. I want her weight on me, all of her on me. When we have sex this way it makes me feel incredibly close to her, our bodies completely in synch, fitting together perfectly as she slips her pussy over mine until we both come together.

"Don't move away, Faith," I say, my eyes holding hers, asking her to stay with me.

"I'm not going anywhere, B," Faith assures, moving her body with mine again, making love to me exactly the way I need right now.

We kiss soft and slow, but full of passion and the deep want we have for each other. After a day like today this is what I need, and I didn't have to ask for it. . .Faith just seemed to know. She took me in her strong arms and lifted me to the bed, kissing me slowly everywhere, letting my tears fall and not once making me feel bad for showing emotion. She kissed away the tears and she's easing away the hurt with her touches and her body trapped between my legs as we cling to each other.

The last few days have been crazy hectic and today was. . .something I can't find the words to describe yet. It's all kind of a blur, yet completely clear in my mind.

Once Faith and I had been caught having the not so secret sex I almost lost my nerve and was on the verge of freaking out. I mean, I'd just come out as a big raging Faith lover. It was way more awkward than I'd imagined it could be. It kinda made me feel sorry for Willow and what she must have felt those few years before when she came tumbling out of the closet.

As soon as I'd gotten Faith upstairs I'd began to pace, my mind spinning and my thought processes shooting off in all different directions. I didn't know what to think or what to do. We'd heard everybody but Andrew leave again for the mall, but that didn't make me relax. I knew they'd come back and I'd have to face them.

*****

--Moments after the big revelation. . .

"Chill, B. . .we can just say we were goofing around," Faith tells me, watching me pace the floor from the bed. "It doesn't bother me if you keep it just between us. . .as long as yunno, you're not about to change your mind about this."

Faith's words and the slight vulnerability in her tone make me stop and look directly at her. I don't want to stop this thing with her, and I definitely don't want Faith thinking I'm in any way ashamed of being with her, which is probably how it seems. It's just. . .difficult. This isn't an easy situation for me to find myself in.

Sitting on the bed beside Faith I take one of her hands in mine. "I'm not about to change my mind," I tell her sincerely. "You're. . .well, I guess you're what I want right now. Probably what I need," I say quietly, looking down at my feet.

She squeezes my hand and nudges me with her shoulder, making me look up so I can see the cute grin she's giving me.

"Was one hell of a way to break it to `em anyways," she says with a chuckle. "Hell, I think some of `em might need therapy after that."

I laugh with her, feeling the weight lift from me just that little bit; just enough to breathe and try my best not to bury myself under my responsibilities and other people's expectations.

We stop laughing once we start kissing, my desire flaring up again instantly with not only the taste of Faith's mouth on mine, but the remnants of her pussy smeared across my lips. I really can't believe we had sex in the kitchen, and that I did what I did to her without even stopping to think about her poor ribs. Once the floodgates had opened I couldn't stop the rush, so to speak. I just want her so much.

*****

We'd had sex again -a little less one sided than previously- until Andrew had interrupted, telling us that Giles needed Faith to train with the scythe with me. He told us that it was all mystical and magical, and not just some random axe I'd stumbled on. I guessed it must have been important for Giles to send the message through Andrew, so we got up and did a few hours sparring with it, taking turns to get used to the weight and the flow of its arc.

When Giles and the girls had eventually made their way back home, Giles told us his theory about where it came from and its purpose. It didn't just feel like mine, it seemed like it really was my scythe. Well, mine and Faith's. I was more than happy to share, and was left feeling much more hopeful having heard all the information Giles knew about it.

It was our key to winning the fight, I just wasn't sure how right away.

That night I went with Faith to a place I'd never recalled seeing before, even though I'd patrolled through the cemetery hundreds of times in the past. We were meant to find who, or what had made the scythe. An old woman came out of the shadows in an old tomb and told us about it. She told us that it had been forged a long time ago, and that it was powerful. She didn't get to say too much more as a guy in a preacher outfit kind of abruptly ended her sentence for her by snapping her neck. It was a little shocking, and I could feel the power oozing from the guy who told us his name was Caleb.

I didn't like his tone, let alone the way he'd just killed the old woman that was some kind of link to the past and to the ancient slayer line. It pissed me off, and when he told me how he'd met and killed a slayer on the way to Sunnydale I launched myself at him, scythe first.

"The slayer was weak," he said. "Nothing more than an itty bitty fly to squash for the greater good, and you're next."

He'd killed Kendra and her watcher, gloating about it as he knocked me back way too easily. When I'd gotten to my feet I saw Faith being pushed aside like she was nothing but the potential she'd been when she first arrived. The guy was strong. . .but I knew we were stronger. Especially together.

Throwing everything we had at him, kicking, punching, and tossing the scythe back and forth between us we wore him down. He never stopped talking the entire time, telling us about what was coming.

It took a lot of effort and both Faith and I ended up a little battered and bloody, but I tested the power of the scythe on Caleb by slicing him in half. It wasn't a pretty sight, and the sound he made rang in my ears for hours afterwards. But he was gone so we didn't have to listen to him rambling on anymore, leaving the First to do its own bidding.

We went back home, triumphant, almost giddy in fact. . .until I spotted Angel lurking outside the house.

*****

--The evening before the big battle. . .

"It's ok, Faith," I assure her, holding my hand out to stop her as she pulls a stake from her jacket, obviously feeling the vampy vibe. "I know him. It's Angel."

Faith glances over at me and I can almost sense the slight worry within her. I'd told her all about Angel the day we had our first real 'talk', just after Faith had been called. She knows he was a big part of my life, but I also hope she knows that he's nothing more than just a memory and a friend now.

"Hey," I say, nodding Angel's way. "Can you give us a minute?"

He looks confused, almost burying his eyes under his brow as he gives me the pained puppy-dog look. At least he doesn't follow when I pull Faith closer to the house to talk to her.

"I'm gonna ask why he's here before he comes in. . .if he's coming in. It's probably best you go inside and let everyone know we killed the guy that got to Kendra," I tell Faith.

She furrows her brow, glancing from Angel to me, something obviously just on the tip of her tongue that she's not sharing. I see the worry that I'd felt before, but it doesn't annoy me. I think I'd feel the same if one of her deep and meaningful exes showed up. Not that she has any that I know of. Apparently she's always been more of a use `em and lose `em kinda girl. . .until me. The "until me" part is my favourite.

"You don't have to worry, Faith," I say quietly so only she can hear. "I'm a one man kinda woman. . .I mean, one woman kinda. . .you get the idea, right?"

"Yeah. . .you're not gonna go rubbin' up against him when you've got me to do that with," she says with a grin, but there's still a lingering sense of concern.

I want to kiss her to reassure her, but it feels a little weird with Angel brooding by the tree.

"I won't be long, and I swear –slayers honour-," I say, holding my hand over my heart with a mischievous smile, "that I'll be back before you know it so we can work off some of the energy of the slayage." I give her a little wink.

"I'll hold you to that," she chuckles, about to turn away, but stopping to look me right in the eye before continuing. "And just so you know. . .I'm not worried, B. Choosing between the goon over there and me," she says, running her hands down her body, "shouldn't be that hard when you know what I can do for ya."

My tongue sneaks out over my lips as I watch her hands, wanting to replace them with mine. There's no competition. Hell, if she'd come along in the height of my whole 'Angel thing' I still think I would have crushed on her like crazy and had quite a few naughty fantasies about us. She just seems to inspire that in me.

We share a knowing smile before she disappears into the house.

Before I have much of a chance to turn and wave Angel over he's right beside me, his face all sad and expectant. I once found that look completely and undeniably cute, but now it just makes me want to poke him in the ribs. I don't of course, choosing to smile fondly at him instead.

"Hi," he says. "Nice scythe."

He points to my shiny red scythe and I nod. Obviously he's feeling a little uncomfortable, and I know that I am. It shouldn't be this way, but after all we've been through. . .it's kind of unavoidable.

"It's good at chopping bad guys up," I say, pointing out the obvious.

"I'm unarmed and in full possession of a soul, I promise," he tells me with a big cheesy grin, holding his hands up.

I laugh at him and shake my head. "So you're not here to force me to kill you. . .which leaves me with the question, why are you here? Not that it's not nice to see an old flame now and then but yunno, we're kinda busy and apocalypse-y here," I say, still smiling so he knows I have no bad feelings about him.

"Old flame? Ouch," he hisses, clutching his chest. "I thought I at least ranked somewhere around the 'love of your life' mark."

His smile is still on his lips, but I can sense his disappointment. He forgets how well I learned to read him when we were together.

"Maybe you're a little higher than old flame, but don't push it," I tease.

Angel nods and we fall quiet again, the silence growing a little awkward.

"So. . ." we both say at once.

There's another pause and I almost feel like using the scythe to slice my arm off to give me an excuse to leave in a hurry, but that might be a little extreme, even if I am kinda missing Faith. Which is obviously pretty extreme too, as we've only been apart for two minutes.

We both begin to speak at the same time again, but this time I wave him on to continue. He looks from the house back to me, his soft eyes settling on mine as I wait.

"You're. . .with her?" he asks quietly, shocking me with his presumption.

At first I don't know what to say. I mean, what can I say? Yeah, we've fucked a few times and I can't stop thinking about her? She's making my insides turn to squishy stuff and giving me amazing orgasms? I've never been with anybody that I'm so into and completely bowled over by before, and it's making me fall headlong in love with her? Sure. . .those are all true, but not exactly the kind of thing you'd say to an ex who sometimes likes to lose his soul and eat your friends.

I choose the honesty option, it's the least I can do. "Yeah," I reply, a small smile lifting my lips before I can stop it.

Angel nods and shuffles his feet a little.

"And you're happy?" he asks.

I nod. Angel nods. It's a nodding convention.

"Serious?" he pushes.

"Serious as in am I seriously happy? Or serious as in. . .do I think I can and want to trust her with my heart?"

"Either, both. . .neither hopefully," he responds with a slight smirk.

I let the question sink in, and despite the fact the world is on a knife edge I answer yes, to both. "It's both," I make clear. "She. . .makes it both," I continue, a little less clear but needing to hear myself say the words aloud again.

There's more nodding from Angel and I realise I'm not as good at reading him as I thought. I have no clue what he's thinking.

As I'm distracted by what he might go on to ask, Angel pulls something out of his pocket and hands it to me. It's a shiny pendant or something probably more magical and meaningful.

I'm right in my assumption as he goes on to tell me what it is and how it could play a part in our apocalypse. The conversation leaves no room for more chatting about my new lesbian tendencies and I'm grateful. I don't want to feel sorry for being with Faith now, not when it feels as good as it does.

When he leaves we hug and I tell him he still has a place in my heart, just not the same place he once had. I think he gets it, and I think he's ok with me being with Faith. He would have been able to tell she's a slayer, so at least he knows she'll have my back when I need it. And my front, and my. . .

I'm broken from my thoughts as the door creaks open and I see Willow poking her head out. I guess it's time to go in and face the music about Faith, and tell them all that Spike's our champion. Even if that last part makes me want to hurl the amulet thingy into the nearest stinky bog full of crocodiles.

*****

Having distracted them all with more details about the scythe woman, Caleb, and the news about Spike, I managed to play down my newfound gayness and fondness of sex in –almost- public places. There were surprised looks and open mouths, but nobody fainted or died of heart failure so all in all it wasn't a completely mortifying hour of my life. Just slightly so. . .especially when Xander fell off his chair when he realised he'd missed the show and Willow filled him in on the details.

They all took it surprisingly well, though there were a few questions like "Why Faith?" I asked them if they'd ever actually seen Faith, with their actual eyes, and they understood. It's obvious why it's Faith, and not just because of her attractiveness. I know they'll find out how great she is in more than just the looks department. It'll just take a little more time for them.

At that point we didn't know how much more time we had, but my hope was growing. I knew we had to have a chance, even if I wasn't exactly sure how, or where to strike with that chance. I'd seen the army we needed to fight in a vision. We were few against many, but we had good on our side, a scythe full of slayer essence stuff, and apparently Spike.

That night we came up with a plan and prepared ourselves to take the fight to the First, hoping it wasn't anticipating us strolling into the hellmouth filled with thousands of Turok-Han on a whim. We had more than a whim of course, we had Willow, and a crazy idea. I just hoped we could hold it together.

*****

--The night before the big battle. . .

Laying my head down on my pillow, feeling exhausted from the long day, I watch as Faith gets undressed for bed. We're both a little anxious about the huge fight we have tomorrow, but both of us are trying to hide it. I don't want her to get the impression I'm scared, as much as I am. I imagine Faith's thinking the same way.

"Hurry up and get that sexy backside in here," I tell Faith, holding the covers up for her to crawl under.

"Sexy huh?" she says, wiggling it at me as she slides her panties off.

"Without a doubt," I grin, feeling pleased with myself for deciding we should forgo the whole need to fumble each other's panties off when we get more 'cosy', by taking them off before getting into bed.

"You've got great taste, yunno that?" Faith tells me with a smirk, her dimples making her all the more grabbable than normal.

My hands shoot out of the covers and I grasp Faith around the waist, pulling her down to me as she squeals. It was a pretty girly squeal, and all kinds of cute, so I wrap her up in my arms and legs and flip us over so I'm on top, straddling Faith as she gazes up at me smiling. I can't help but fall into her eyes. More than that. . .fall completely for her. I feel my heart fluttering like crazy and all I want to do is tell Faith how I feel. There's nothing in her eyes that's making me think it would be the wrong thing to say, but I'm still biting my tongue and holding the words in, despite the fact I'd already almost said them earlier.

I don't want her to freak, especially not now when I need her the most.

"Anybody ever tell you you've got beautiful eyes, B?" Faith asks me as she looks deep into them.

I have to stop and think about the question. If anybody has ever said that, then I've completely forgotten about it, or at least. . .it in no way made me feel as good as Faith telling me.

"I don't think so," I admit bashfully.

"Well you have," she assures, her thumb brushing over my left eyebrow.

"Not as beautiful as yours," I point out.

We seem to be trapped, just looking at each other as I hold myself over Faith, connected to her where we both want it most. There doesn't appear to be any words that would fit the moment. I'm guessing Faith agrees as I feel her hand slowly -achingly slowly- travel down my body between us. She swirls her fingertips around and over my nipples but doesn't linger as I sigh. Her hand moves down and I get wet with anticipation, unable to help myself as Faith's dark eyes hold me still.

A gasp slips past my lips when Faith's fingers slide between my folds and over my clit. I want to close my eyes and concentrate on her fingers slipping over me, but I can't break free from hers. She's looking at me so openly, filling me with what she feels. It's almost too much, too frightening considering I could lose it all tomorrow. . .possibly even lose her.

"Buffy," Faith says softly, grabbing my attention with the raw emotion in her voice. "Tell me what you were gonna say this morning in the kitchen, before we got barged in on."

My breath quivers as her fingers circle my clit, and I fight to keep the words from coming out again. I don't want to tell her then have her be taken away from me, or watch her walk out of the door. I need her more than I care to admit. In the short time I've known Faith she's brought something different to my life. . .and not just in the obvious way. She's shown me what it really feels like to fall, to rush headfirst into something that you can't break free from no matter how hard you try. I've never known this before, not truly, not so deep and definitely never so quick. What would I do if I lost it so soon?

"I'm not going anywhere, B," Faith says quietly reading my mind, her breath coming out almost as quick and hard as mine.

I feel a tear drip from my cheek and it splashes onto Faith's, rolling down it to her neck. She lifts her free hand and places it on my face, her thumb brushing away any more stray tears. I guess the prospect of tomorrow, and feeling totally and completely swept up by the gorgeous girl beneath me is getting me a little emotional. It's not like me, but it's real.

Faith's fingers work faster over my clit making me tremble for her, but she's still not pressing hard, just keeping me where she wants me. I can already feel myself right on the edge anyway, close to giving everything I have to Faith. Everything.

"Oh, God," I sigh as she presses her fingers against my clit a little firmer now.

"Tell me, B," Faith whispers.

I moan as Faith slips and slides over my clit, pushing me gently over the edge as my world blurs at the corners and all I can feel is Faith and how much I already want her in my heart.

"I'm in love with you, Faith," I say breathlessly, my eyes still locked with hers as I come over her fingers, pushing down into her as I shake and gasp. "I'm so in love with you," I repeat, unable to hold back now it's free.

She crashes her mouth up to mine, kissing me deeply as I come down. Her arms wrap around me, pulling me impossibly close, and it feels like the only place I ever want to be.

When I stop shaking and break away from Faith's lips for air, I rest my head down on her shoulder to catch my breath. She strokes her fingers over my back, her touch soft and reassuring, her heartbeat fluttering against me as she smiles like the cat that got the cream. Nuzzling my nose into her neck, I smile almost as broadly as she hugs me tighter. I'm not waiting for her to tell me she feels the same back, I'm pretty sure I can feel it anyway, but I keep still and silent just in case.

"I've never said the words before," she says, almost too quiet to hear. "Fuck, I've never had to. Never wanted to have to."

We both hold our breaths for a second, hearts thumping together. I don't want her to feel like she has to say anything. I know I'm being pretty quick off the mark with the love thing. I mean, we haven't known each other that long. It's not like. . .

"I've got like zero experience with this. . .but I went and fell in love with you too, Buffy," Faith finally says, stemming my pointless flow of thoughts. "Pretty fucking hard in fact."

I know I'm beaming, probably enough to light a small town, her words filtering into my heart like. . .well, like nothing I can even begin to describe right now. I feel full. High. Soaring. Everything you'd expect when you get what you truly want. When you have a girl as beautiful and special as Faith tell you she's in love with you.

Lifting my head, I look down into her eyes. She doesn't avoid looking back, her feelings on display to me as much as mine probably are to her. It's no wonder I've fallen in love with her. Who could blame me?

I lean down and kiss her softly, my lips teasing over hers as I smile against her mouth, feeling her smiling right back. Everything slotting into place just before everything gets put on the line.

*****

That was the first night we made love. Don't get me wrong, it was still damn hot, and wet, and fucking sexy as hell, but there was more there. It went deeper and we could both feel it. The world was going to be hanging by our fingertips and every moan and gasp between us brought us closer, made us stronger. Ready for the fight ahead.

When morning came we all flew into action, every one of us knowing our place, our position on the front line. Willow was nervous, as were we all. I tried my best to hold it together, keeping my cool as we made our way through the deserted streets of Sunnydale. The sun was hot, making us sticky and thirsty even before the fight began. Our goal solid. Our reasons built on good against evil, on right against wrong. This was our war, and we weren't going to back down from it.

Entering the hellmouth was probably the most terrifying thing any of us had done before, but nobody dropped out. Faith stood by my side, making me feel bigger, stronger, faster. I wasn't about to lose and have our time together cut short. I wasn't going to let anybody's time be cut short if I could help it.

Of course, we did lose people, and Spike made the ultimate sacrifice, redeeming himself as he willfully gave up his existence to save those of us left. To save the world. As the earth shook around us I stayed with him as long as I could, Faith waiting close by, not pushing me or pressuring me to just leave him. He was once a good man, before the demon killed his humanity. . .and I knew he was a good man again as he met his fate with a grin. Our history was patchy and I won't fool myself into thinking I was above blame in all we did, in all the ways we hurt each other. He was flawed, but so am I. He was mean and jealous, but I'd helped make him that way.

The hellmouth fell into the earth as we sped away counting the survivors, checking the injuries. It had been close. Almost too close, but as each potential had felt the power of the slayer go through her. . .the tide had turned. We came out on top. We beat the bad guy, just like we're supposed to.

Not all of Sunnydale crumbled away. The crater ends just a mile from the house we all set out from this morning. From here, where I lay wrapped in Faith, feeling every movement of her body against me as we hold tight to one another. As we try to warm each other, fighting out the cold hurt of losing people that had become such a big part of our lives. Of my life.

"Faith," I moan, pushing up into her as her pussy slides over mine. "Don't ever stop holding me like this."

My emotions are laid bare and exposed, out of my control as I let myself go and just feel. Skin against skin. Foreheads touching as we lock together.

"I won't," Faith replies, her breath hot against my lips. "In too far."

I kiss her deeply, knowing exactly what she means. Sure that she won't leave me.

During the battle I'd fallen as I got hurt pretty badly, and she came right to my side, beating back the vampires with no fear for her own safety, trying to get to me. I'd never seen such anger, such power and feeling. It flowed through me from her. Faith flowed through me and gave me the strength to get back up. I was sure right then that she was the one. She's the one I want to keep with me for the rest of my life.

"I love you," I tell Faith breathlessly as my body shivers beneath her.

We thrust and grind and ride each other to climax, our fingers grasping and bodies trembling as we come hard, covering each other in wet and warm stickiness. She's beautiful when she comes, especially like this, holding herself flush against me with my legs wrapped around her. Our gasps and moans fill the air, calling each other's names until there's nothing more to give. Until the next time.

"I love you too, Buffy," Faith sighs. "Never knew what it meant until the day I met you."

I smile and kiss her face all over as we catch our breaths. We have a lot ahead of us. A lot of mending, and a lot of picking up the pieces for those around us, patching up what's left of our lives as we try to remember what's normal again. . .but we'll do it together. Despite the fact this is new for both of us; I feel her heart against mine and know it's sincere and true. And it's mine. I fought it out of fear to begin with, but I won't fight anymore.

Sliding my legs down from around Faith's hips, I take a deep breath of her scent and feel my eyes drifting closed. She's drifting with me, settling on top of me, nowhere near too heavy for me to want to move her off. She can stay there between my thighs all night. It's exactly where I want her.

As I arrange my feet near Faith's I chuckle softly, feeling the fuzzy warmth of her favourite pair of holy socks.

"Do you still have your socks on, Faith?" I ask, knowing fully well she does. Finding it adorable given the fact she always acts so tough and cool.

"Hey, I get cold feet, ok? S'not a crime," she responds sleepily. "Didn't hear ya complaining either when I was making you come all over my pussy."

I feel her gorgeous grin on my neck where her face is pressed against me, and kiss the top of her head.

She'll always be adorable to me, no matter how much she tries not to be. No matter how tough, crude, bad, cool or downright annoying she can be. She's mine. My Faith.

My slayer.

The End

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