By Norwalker

Part 29 of

Summary: What did Willow and Faith discuss in that little car trip from L.A. to Sunnydale in season 7? And what were the consequences? A Willow/ Faith story

Rating: R, Very R

Category: romance/drama/angst

Spoilers: Possible season 7 spoilers. Possible season 4 Angel spoilers. C'mon, you must have seen 'em by now!

Time Line: Mid season 7(after the return of Faith) and beyond

Disclaimer: Joss Whedon , Mutant Enemy and Fox own them.

Warnings: Adult themes, violence, sexual situations between members of the same gender. Please be aware, character death is always a distinct possibility. It can happen here, so don't say I didn't warn you! Any racist remarks are spoken by the characters, and are in no way shared by the author. This story is not meant for children.

Los Angeles, CA.

Late the next morning.

If only the hammers would stop pounding in her head, she could think straight.

What the fuck happened last night? Faith thinks to herself, keeping her eyes shut. She can feel the sunlight streaming on her eyes , and the brightness isn't helping her hangover. I don't remember shit after going out into the garden to … fuck me, drink myself stupid. What the fuck was I thinking? And mescal? Shit! What the hell was I thinking, anyway? Drinking that crap? That stuff would make the Pope crazy. I must be nuts…what the fuck did I do, anyway? I don't even know how I got… where the hell am I, anyway?

Faith squints out through one eye, feeling the stabbing knives of the sun. She looks around, and realizes she's in her room. Oh thank god. I thought I… what the hell was I talking about? I seem to…god it's all woolly, but I seem to remember blood… oh, crap… did I really fight with Buffy? Or was that just….shit. What the hell was I saying last night? Shit, Kira was staring at me like she wanted to kill me… wasn't she? Shit, what … I must've… but goddamn me if I can… I remember… no… oh FUCK ! RED!

Faith shoots straight up into a sitting position, then nearly vomits when her stomach rebels. She opens her eyes, and looks around. Nothing! Oh thank god, it was just a hallucination… She grabs her head, to stop the room from spinning.

She's just about to lay down again when she hears the toilet flush. Her heart starts to beat faster in her chest. The bathroom door opens, and Willow walks out, fully dressed. She comes over to Faith.

" Hey, you're awake!" Willow smiles at her. " You were pretty… bad off last night."

" Oh god, " Faith groans, turning away. She tries to slink back under the covers. Last night slams back into her head… all of it.

I'm a total moron!

" Go 'way, I'm sick" Faith says , facing away from Willow.

" Yeah, after downing most of a bottle of mescal? I bet you're feeling pretty crappy, " Willow agrees, brightly. " Though I'm thinking, Buffy's feeling it a whole lot more."

" Aw shit," Faith whispers. Fuck, I did fight with her. Good one, Faith.

" C'mon, up with you, " Willow leans over, trying to pull Faith up out of bed, " You need a shower, bad. You stink."

" Go' way, ok? I told you, I'm sick…" Faith gently pushes her away, turning and lying down again.

Her head feels like it's stuffed with steel wool, her eyes are grainy and her tongue feels thick and has been trampled on. Her stomach is doing flip flops. She clings to the pillows for safety.

" Faith, you'll feel better once you've had a shower, and gotten something to eat."

The mention of food makes Faith's stomach rebel. She can feel that dryness of the throat you get just before…

Faith jumps out of bed, nearly running over Willow. Dizzy, she stumbles to the bathroom. In seconds, retching can be heard.

Faith emerges from the bathroom a few minutes later. Her face is pale and drawn. Her eyes are bloodshot, her hair limp and matted. She's looking like she went six rounds with a Greyhound Bus. She walks stiff legged to the bed, plopping down in a sitting position. She puts her head in her hands.

" Ok fine. I'm up now, happy?" she half growls, half groans.

" I'll be a whole lot happier when you don't smell like a bar anymore, " Willow grabs her arm, getting her to stand. She gently pushes Faith towards the bathroom. " Go on, you'll feel better."

" Swell. Thanks loads, Mary Sunshine, " Faith slouches towards the bathroom. She stops before entering, casting an evil eye at Willow, " what the fuck you doing here anyway? I thought you wanted gone."

Willow pretends like that knife didn't hurt, " We'll talk after you've showered, " She said, keeping her tone light.

Faith mumbles something, and goes into the bathroom.

" I'm sorry, didn't hear that."

" You weren't supposed to, Ms. Nosey. But since you asked," Faith yells back, " I said, ' Super, maybe I'll drown in the shower' . "

Willow closes her eyes and bites her lip to keep from letting the remark cut her. She sits on the bed. Not like you didn't have that coming, Will. She lies back on the bed, and even through the reek of sweat and stale liquor, can smell Faith. She sighs. Well, Ms. Brilliant, what're you gonna say to her? I mean, something she'll believe as to why you took off? Good one, Willow. Just run when it gets tough huh? Oh, and blame it on her, and that you think you're doing the right thing. Yeah, that's real swell. You sure helped her deal, didn't you? So, here's the question. Ever gonna grow up, and face your problems, or gonna keep playing games, and hide? Willow closes her eyes. If she's smart, she'll probably boot my ass outta here, be a whole lot better off without. Sure, and that'll just give you another excuse to be the tragic victim, right, Willow? That's really facing things head on, right?

" HEY! If you're gonna make me shower, think you can bring me a towel? And some clothes? Be real nice!" Faith shouts over the shower.

Willow jumps out of bed, heading towards the dresser. She gets out some underwear, then heads for the closet for some clothing. She looks around through a few places, and finds where Faith stores the towels.

" Today would be nice"

" I just found the towels, hold on, " Willow calls, running for the bathroom. Standing at the door, she offers the pile to Faith.

" I'm still in the shower, Red. Just bring them in and put them somewhere. God, it's not like you haven't seen me naked before."

Willow puts the clothing on the closed toilet, then exits back into the room. Feeling awkward, she wanders around the room, just picking up stuff and then setting it down. She comes to a table with a picture on it. It's a picture of her and Faith, posing by their motorcycles, just before they took off from California to Boston. She smiles. She still has this? Thought she would've burned it by now. Why can't we go back to then? When we were just starting out?

" Things were a lot less crappy then, weren't they?" Faith seems to read her thoughts.

" Yeah," Willow replies, sadly. She sets the picture down and turns.

Faith is standing by the bathroom door, still drying her hair. She looks at Willow through bleary eyes.

" Well, you're right. I feel better. Still crappy, but a smaller pile now, " Faith says. She looks around. " Who do I gotta kill to get some coffee?"

" Faith!" Willow says, looking pained.

" Oh for god's sake, lighten up, Red. God, isn't life shitty enough without the melodrama?" Faith walks over to the smallish kitchen area, and looking at the pot, quickly throws together a pot. She stands, back to Willow, staring at the pot, trying to make it go faster.

Willow stands nervously, not knowing what to say or do. She doesn't want to piss off Faith any further.

Faith, tired of waiting, takes out the pot and quickly pours the half done coffee. She brings it to her mouth, and makes a face when she tastes it. Still, she brings it with her when she goes to sit at the table. She looks up at Willow expectantly.

" Well? You wanted to talk."

Willow walks over to the table, standing uneasily in front of Faith.

" Sit down will you? I really don't want to look up at you while you're talking."

Willow sits, across from Faith.

" I really don't know what to say, " Willow, nervous, twists a strand of her hair.

" Well, that's a first. Usually you've got an opinion on everything, " Faith sighs. " So what's this crap they giggle twins told me? About you bailing because you thought being around was gonna what? Kill me?"

" Yeah, " Willow nods, realizing how stupid it sounds now, out loud.

" Well, that's a load, Red. Got anymore happy horseshit you wanna spread around?"

" Not a load, Faith, I felt it, I could feel what it …"

" Feel. What? What're you babbling about, feel? When did you become Miss Cleo?"

" Faith, when we joined with you, each of us joined with a part of you. Buffy, your strength, Kira with your vision, and I joined with your heart. When the spell ended, the other's connections with you broke. But mine didn't. I stayed joined with your feelings and emotions."

Faith just stares at her.

" Honestly, Faith. I felt what you felt. I knew when you were happy, when you were sad… I felt what you felt when you 'terminated' those Triad members…"

Faith closed her eyes tightly. Her mouth twisted into a frown.

" … the anger, the shame, how you felt used and dirty…"

Faith balls her fists on the table.

" … I felt how you hurt. How when you thought of me, how it tore you apart. How you wanted to see me, but were afraid to see me, let me see that part of you… the killer in you. You were afraid that if I saw it… I would run from you. Or, if you lost control…" Willow shakes her head, " You might harm me. It was tearing you apart. So I…"

Faith interrupts her.

" Bullshit!"

Willow goes wide eyed.

"What?" Willow looks perturbed.

" That's crap, Red, and you know it. I don't have to be Miss Cleo to figure that out."

" That's so not true!" Willow flushes angrily, " I'm telling you the truth!"

" You're telling me the lie you told yourself, Red. Sure, I'm not saying I didn't feel those things, but that's not why you ran, and if you wanna be honest with yourself… you'll know that."

" You think I'd lie about something like this? You think it didn't hurt to leave? Ask Buffy. God, ask Kira. I asked her to look into your future, and she saw nada, nothing. If things didn't change, you didn't have a future. What was I supposed to do? Hang around and let you go mad…or worse? God, I can't believe you're saying this." Willow, furious, gets up from the table. Right now she wants to slap Faith silly. She walks away from the table before she acts on impulse.

" Kinda hurts, don't it, Red?" Faith stands, " the truth"

Willow whirls around. " I told you the truth!"

" Yeah, I really think you convinced yourself of that," Faith says, softly, " I think you really believe it. It's a pretty fairy story, easy to live with. When you're by yourself, you can tell yourself that ' hey, I was doing what was right. I was trying to save her'. But thing is, Red? It won't last. You can't keep lying to yourself, deluding yourself. Gotta face the truth sometime."

" Why are you doing this?" Willow hisses at her, " Why're you being so awful? You're calling me a liar!"

" Because, I love you . I love you more than … anything I've ever loved before. I love you, and I won't let anyone lie to you… not even yourself."

" I'm. not. lying " Willow's tone grows cold, precise. " You're a fine one to talk about lying!"

" What do you mean?" Faith asks, shoving down her irritation.

" How 'bout when you left me… back in Indiana, when you came to my Grandmother's house? Oh, you were leaving me because you were afraid you'd hurt me. God, what a load of crap!" Willow's face goes blotchy with anger. " You were afraid I'd reject you, after what happened. You couldn't deal with it, so you took the noble route… and dumped me!"

" You're right, I lied, " Faith admits, " but we already had that conversation."

" Ok, what about Buffy?"

" What about Buffy?" Faith asks, not catching that curveball.

" When Buffy went ballistic in the hotel months back. When she admitted how she felt about you, all that time. What about YOUR feelings, Faith? We never talked about that, did we? We never had that out. Don't even pretend that you never had feelings for her! I know better!"

" You're right. We didn't talk about that. Yes, I have had feelings for Buffy."

Willow stands open mouthed. She never expected Faith to admit it … not so easily.

" When you fight with, and against, someone like Buffy and I fought, it's impossible to feel nothing, Willow. Yes, I had feelings for Buffy… there are some residual feelings I have for her. That's true. It's also true YOU have feelings for her, honey. You've been with her forever, been best friends forever, closer than she and I ever were. So, it's not all just me. Is it?"

Willow stares at her.

" But the difference is, Willow, I love YOU. I had… have feelings for Buffy, but I love YOU." Faith sighs, " I'll always care about Buffy, but when push comes to shove, I'll choose you over her any day, every day, for the rest of my life."

" You love me, but you call me a liar," Willow's not mollified. " But you're the biggest liar of all."

Faith just smiles, " How do you figure?"

" Oh, I dunno… what about the Cammaragh? You remember that, don't you?" Willow glares at her. " We were supposed to be in this together, that's what couples do, right? Stick together, good times and bad? But you shut me out. You were going to go and do this, without telling me. You made it out like a business meeting, for god's sake. "

" I had to. It wasn't something I could tell you."

"No! That's a lie. You could've told me. You could've included me, but you didn't. You were going to do this, and not let me in… you lied to me, and how'm I supposed to take that?"

Faith doesn't say a word.

" C'mon, Faith. You know all the answers. That's what you've been yanking me around about. You called me a liar, but when it comes down to it, you lied big time to me. You thought you could just get away with it, go off to Ireland and do it, and I'd never be the wiser. Didn't you? DIDN'T YOU!"

Faith just looks at her calmly.

" What's wrong, Faith? Can't think up another lie? You know you lied to me, you know you did. You say you wanted to protect me, but that's just another lie, wasn't it? You were going to go away, and leave me behind, weren't you? Why? Why did you just leave me behind?"

" I couldn't let you risk it. You'd get hurt."

" LIAR! You were going away, and leaving me behind. Just like she did!"

" Who?" Faith says softly.


For a moment, both stand facing each other, frozen.

" That's it, isn't it, Willow? That's the real reason, isn't it?"

Willow starts to shake her head.

" It wouldn't matter who you loved, or thought you loved. Buffy, Kennedy… me… it was the same. Wasn't it?"

Willow turns away from her, not wanting to hear this. She walks away, throwing herself on the couch, facing away from Faith.

" As long as I was away, it was ok. Because then you could keep me at a distance. A safe distance. Or, if I left you, you could justify it. You could deal with it. Or if there was some reason you had to leave me, some reason for ' my own good', even better. Anything, anything so you wouldn't have to get too close. Anything so that you wouldn't have to come out of hiding. That's what your doing, isn't it, baby? Hiding?"

" No, you're wrong." Willow doesn't turn to look at her.

" Am I? When things started to get too close with Kennedy, you broke off with her, glommed on me. Why? We didn't know each other that well… but you still cheated on her, made sure that the relationship would fail. Then you came after me, knowing I wasn't ready for that kind of thing. It was safe. You could ' love ' me without cost, because you knew eventually, I'd bail. Because I couldn't deal… and you were right."

" Why're you doing this? It hurts, you're being so awful… so mean. " Willow's voice is heavy and lifeless.

" Now you could be the rejected lover, you could tell yourself that I left you, when you knew all along you needed me to leave you. That fit, you were ok. It was Faith that was screwed up. But that was just a lie you told yourself." Faith sits next to Willow, who gets as far away as she can without falling off the sofa. " Then you made a mistake. You came to L.A. You thought you were safe, that your armor was impervious. But you didn't count on something."

" Oh, tell me, Dr. Freud. You're so smart!" Willow mocks.

" You didn't count on the fact that you still loved me. And I still loved you," Faith says, " It all went to pieces, all your protection, because when it comes down to it, you love me. " Faith smiles, " God knows why, I'm not easy to love. But you do, and you fell for me again, hard. Almost as hard as I fell for you."

Faith reaches out, and touches Willow. Willow doesn't draw away.

" But that was too scary, being in love again. You did, I believe despite yourself, what you could to scare me. Showing me your dark side… anything to make it impossible to love you. What you don't know is that … I can't not love you. I admit dark veiny Willow? Not my favorite person in the world. But I have to accept her, because she's part of you, and I love you. "

Willow is still turned away, balled up on the couch. As if she makes herself really small, no one can see her.

" Stop, please, I don't want to talk anymore," She says in nearly a whisper.

" I wish I could, honey bud, but I can't. Cuz the story's not done. After that, you were stuck. Because on one hand, you didn't want to love me, and on the other hand, you had to love me. Irony doesn't even cover it, baby. Then I stupidly handed you the perfect excuse. I hid what I was doing, what was going on. I gave you every right to be angry and upset with me, and you used it."

" Goddess, you make me sound so… cold" Willow looks at her, sadly, " like I planned all this."

" No, baby, not you, " Faith seems to look up at nothing," but it worked out for what you were feeling. With me gone, far away, you could love me, but without all the messy day by day details, all the stings and hooks. It could be pure, and light, and safe. No chance I could worm my way into your heart if I was away, now was there?"

Willow just stares at her.

" Then the Cammaragh. You couldn't let me die. If I did, all the pain would come back, wouldn't it? When you learned what they were planning, you moved heaven and earth to make sure I lived. You couldn't let it happen again, could you? Stand on the side as the woman you loved died. Could you?"

Willow looks away.

" But you weren't upset when I didn't come right back. Again, distance is safety. Strange isn't it that you didn't have to 'leave' until I left Ireland. Not until I … went to my grandfather's funeral."

" I was sorry to hear about your grandfather dying. He was a good man." Willow reaches out, squeezing Faith's hand.

" Strangely, that gave me my first clue that things weren't right, though I didn't get it then. Not 'til later…"

Willow looks at her with the question in her expression.

" If you really were in it for everything, honey, wouldn't you have been there, at my side?"

" Faith, I…."

" Shhh… it's ok. I know why. I know why." Faith rubs her hand lightly across Willow's hip, " my grandfather wrote me a last letter, before he died. Reading it put things right in my mind. Made me realize my priorities." Faith gazes at her intently, " I guess deep down I sensed something wrong, even then. I think that's why I decided to ride back here, rather than fly. I put it down to what happened before I left, but it was deeper than that. Started way before I left…"

" Faith, I love you. I do love you!" Willow sits up," I love you as much as I can." Even as the words leave her lips, she knows how horrible that sounds, how empty.

" I know, honey, " Faith smiles at her, putting an arm around her and pulling her close. Willow leans against her, looking as sad as she feels. " I wish I could reach in and touch your heart, love. Help you heal. But the walls there are too high, even for me. I can't break them down. Only you can, by letting go."

" I've tried, Faith, I really have," Willow closes her eyes, the tears running down her cheeks. " I can't, I just can't."

Faith looks into her eyes, deeply. She smiles, but there's no happiness in her smile.

" I guess you can't."

They sit silently for awhile, neither speaking, nor looking at each other.

" So, now what?" Willow breaks the silence.

" I dunno, Red. It's really your call now. You've got to decide what you want."

" What do you mean?"

" Do you want to live for now, or for then?"

Willow looks at her, and then stands.

" I guess I better go," She says, heading for the door.

" I guess so, " Faith says, watching her.

Willow reaches the door, and opens it, when Faith calls out.

" One more thing?"

Willow turns back to her, " What?"

" You gotta ask yourself. Would Tara want this for you?"

Willow just looks at her for a moment. Then she turns, and exits, closing the door behind her.

Faith leans back on the couch, closing her eyes.

Brilliant, Faith. Just brilliant.

" So, she's really gonna go then?" Buffy asks, looking at Kira across the desk.

" Looks like," Kira says, looking up from some reports she's working on.

" How can you be so damned casual about this? God, do you realize how many levels of wrong this is?"

Kira looks at her, irritated and amused at the same time.

" What do you want me to do, Buffy? Throw a fit? Of course it's wrong, " Kira agrees, " they're being total jackasses about this. But it's their lives, honey, " she looks down at the reports. " If they want to be morons, nothing we can do about it."

" Well, I'm glad to hear that, " Faith says from the doorway.

Buffy's and Kira's heads swivel towards the doorway. They seem to blush simultaneously, then both look away. Embarrassed is too weak a word for what they're feeling.

" Now, if were done gossiping about my love life, or lack thereof, I'd like to get down to business. I had a reason to call you both here," Faith walks into the office. " Oh, and Kira? I'd like my chair now."

Kira stands up quickly, nearly running into Buffy to get to the other side of the desk. Faith casually walks around the desk and sits down. Leaning back, she folds her arms over her chest, and just stares at the other two. She's relishing the embarrassment they're feeling.

" Well, I guess you're wondering what this is all about huh?" Faith finally breaks the silence.

" Uh… yeah, kinda, " Buffy speaks up.

" Well, you both know I've spent the last 4 months cleaning up the mess that was left to me when I became head of Lehane. It wasn't easy, " She understates massively," but I think it's sufficient to let it run reasonably well now. There's still a lot of crap to clean up, but it doesn't need my personal touch." Her eyes get a distant look in them, " Frankly, it's not my gig…not this day to day stuff; knocking heads together bureaucratic crappola. And I need to get away for awhile, think about things, really tightly. Cuz, I'm on my last nerve, and it aint all that strong, get it?"

" Sure," Kira says, nodding.

Buffy just nods.

" Fighting demons, killing vampires? That's my gig. Throw me in the hornet's nest, baby, that's cool by me. But this daily paperwork up to your eyeballs thing has worn me to nothin… so, I'm taking a break." She swivels her chair around, so she's facing the wall. As if addressing it. " But I've got a problem. I mean, let's face it. The caliber of people … barely above moron. Thinking on their feet? Not genetically coded in them. They're great paper pushers, but they don't got that thing ya need to lead." She turns back to Buffy and Kira. " Get my meaning?"

Kira smiles, " Sure, I get it. I deal with these morons. They couldn't lead a bunch of hungry dogs to their food bowls."

Buffy isn't smiling. She has a small frown on her face, and a feeling growing in the pit of her stomach. She's not liking this.

" Very good, Kira, glad you see that too." Faith stands up, and starts to pace. " So, I've got a problem. I've got plenty of Indians, but damned, if chiefs aren't in short supply. Especially chiefs I can trust not to make things worse. So, what do I do?" She looks at the two of them, a small grin on her face. " Any suggestions?"

" I know," Kira interjects eagerly, but Faith interrupts her.

" No, Kira. Let's hear from Buffy." She turns to Buffy, " So, what do you think, B? What should I do?"

Buffy gives Faith an evil look. She knows where this is going, and isn't liking it one bitty bit.

" Cut the crap, Faith. Just get it over with. I know what you're gonna ask, and while I'd like to say no, I really can't, now can I?"

Kira looks from Buffy to Faith and back to Buffy.

" Would someone like to clue me in, since you two already are somewhere I'm not?"

" Faith wants to stick us running the biz while she's off screwing around, or ' finding herself' or whatever happy horse crap she wants to call it." Buffy looks perturbed.

"Well, gee, Buff, I mighta put it a bit more diplomatically," Faith mocks her right back, " but yeah, that's it."

" Faith, wait a minute. I can't… we can't run it by ourselves. Oh sure, I mean in a pinch, yeah, we could do it, but …" Kira looks more than a little nervous. She shakes her head, " no, no way. I'm not ready for this kind of responsibility."

" You're ready, Kira, " Faith says quietly, but firmly, " you've been ready for a long time."

"No! I mean, I'm sorry Faith, I really love you trust me and all, but no. I'm so not leadership material…"

" That's just bullshit, Kira. I've watched you," Faith says, walking over and putting her hands on Kira's shoulders," You know when to be tough, you know when to play it soft, you know when to coddle 'em along, and you know when to kick ass. Now, all you need is a push to go do it! So, consider this your push."

" Faith, I…"

" Kira, please," Faith leans over, her voice soft, almost pleading. " I need you. Please don't let me down."

Kira looks into her eyes, and sees the bone weariness and discouragement there. Her heart melts.

" Ok, Faith, " She replies, " I'll do it. I'll do my best."

" That's my girl, " Faith pats her lightly on the shoulder.

She turns to Buffy.

" Well?"

" Like, I got a choice, right?" Buffy replies grumpily.

" Of course you've got a choice, B, " Faith says amiably, " You can say no."

" No, " Buffy says.

" Buffy!" Kira turns to her, " You can't do that! You've got to…"

" No, Kira, let it alone. It's her choice, " Faith says mildly, " I'll just have to find somebody else. Maybe Kenny could do it…"

" Oh, c'mon, Faith. That's scraping bottom. Kenny's a moron!" Buffy says.

" That's unfair, B. I mean, she's competent. Not too clever, but I'm sure she could do the job." Faith turns to Kira. " Hey, Kira, want to hear a funny story?"

Kira looks at Faith puzzled. Not like her to give up so easily.

" Sure."

" Seems there's a really interesting reason why Buffy has Mr. Gordo." Her voice takes on a sly tone.

" Oh, really?" Kira looks at Buffy.

Buffy goes pale. She shoots daggers at Faith with her eyes.

" Where'd you hear about Mr. Gordo?" Buffy's voice is dry.

Faith just smiles. " Little birdie told me."

" I'm so gonna kill Willow."

" What about Mr. Gordo, Faith?" Kira is catching on.

" Well, seems like, long time ago…"

" SHUT UP, FAITH!" Buffy nearly yells. " Don't you DARE tell her…"

Kira looks at Buffy with a slightly shocked expression. Goodness, what could be so …?

" Blackmail is such an ugly word, B."

" I didn't say anything about…" Buffy catches her expression, and cuts off her words. " Ok, you win. I'll do it!"

" That's the B I know, " Faith smiles broadly at her, all dimples and twinkling eyes.

" Hey, I want to know about Mr. Gordo!" Kira says, now intrigued.

Faith just shrugs. " Sorry, Kira. Buffy'll have to tell you that." She smiles sweetly at Buffy.

" Sure, when I'm like… never!" Buffy growls, trapped. " Ok, now that you've got me, what the hell am I gonna be doing, anyway?"

"Well, the way I see it, I really need to split up Lehane into three sections, for it to run smoothly. Kira, I'm hereby promoting you to CEO and Chairman of Lehane International. You will be in charge of all business affairs. I've already put out a memo to that effect, so there won't be any further discussion."

" Huh? Hey, I didn't get that memo."

" If you did, sweetie, exactly how much of a surprise would this have been?" Faith smirks, " had to be sure you'd do it, didn't I?"

" Well, you seemed pretty sure I'd accept, " Kira says, a little petulantly.

" Only because its way overdue, " Faith says sincerely.

Kira blushes.

" And just think of the money we'll make using that second sight of yours."

Kira frowns. " That's unethical, Faith. I could never do that!"

" Aw, gee. Guess we'll just have to depend on that business acumen and ummm… leadership skills of yours, I'm guessing, " Faith slyly winks at Buffy. " Finally, a return on that Harvard Education we paid for…"

Kira blushes a deep red. Praise from Faith is like water to a rose for her.

" Hate to break up the love fest going on here," Buffy says, " but what're you sticking me with, Faith?"

" Well, since you asked, B, I'm making you head of special projects."

" Well, uhhh…cool.. and just what's special projects?"

" Well, just what it sounds like. First up on the plate… bring the Watcher's council back into the Lehane fold."

Kira and Buffy both look surprised at that.

" I've been in serious negotiations with Giles for oh… the last 4 months… and we're pretty close to a deal. Now, I know what affection and respect you and Giles hold for each other, so that's gonna make the final phase go just that much smoother." She grins at Buffy, " I can hear the wheels grindin', B. Why is this happening? Well, frankly, The council needs money… bad. And guess what? Lehane is shittin' money out from every hole. Plus, in return, we get a pre-built worldwide infrastructure, and the best Mystical library on this planet. Win-win, as I see it."

Buffy's interest is perked up.

" So what then? I like, head up training of the slayers and stuff?"

Faith makes a face.

" Please, what a waste of talent, " She shakes her head, " I got people like Kennedy for that. No, you're going to head up phase two…"

" And that would be what?" Buffy is suspicious.

"Don't have a real name for it yet, " Faith admits, " but I think you'll like it. It's time we put the Wolf, the Ram, and the Hart in cages, wouldn't you agree?"

Kira and Buffy look puzzled.

" Wolfram and Hart, girls. We're going after Evil Inc."

Buffy smiles, then frowns. " Wait a minute. Wolfram and Hart? It's … huge. It works in lots of dimensions. How're we going to take them on?"

" Buffy, honey, open your mind, " Faith says , walking over to her. " The Watchers? The Slayers? Just a small, very, very small offshoot of Lehane." She walks back to her desk, and sits down. " W&H loves to brag how they've been around forever, that little evil bit in everybody's heart way back to primitive man? Well, honey, think. For the balance in the universe to work, for the evil, there's got to be the good. Who do you think that is?"

Buffy's eyes widen. " Us? I mean, sorry, Lehane?"

Faith grins, " Us is just fine, Buffy. Glad you're thinking that way, now. Yeah, Lehane is the 800 pound Gorilla, on our side of the scales. We don't only exist in this plane, honey. We're… everywhere. I just happen to run the clan here. But believe me, wherever W&H is, we are too."

" Ok, not getting this. If Lehane is so…big, how come I've never heard of it before?"

" Ever heard of Wolfram and Hart before you ran upside it?"

" No, not really."

" Same deal, Buff. The really big ones? You don't hear about often. Lehane has always been the " work behind the scenes" kind of organization. But frankly, that's going to change. Times have changed, and so has W&H. They're playing a whole new ballgame now, more aggressive. It's time for Team Lehane to take its turn at bat, wouldn't you say?"

The enormity of what Faith is proposing is dawning on Buffy, and she's more than a little scared.

" Ok, baseball metaphors. It's never good when things start getting baseball metaphors, " Buffy jumps out of her chair. Now she's in pace mode. " Faith, I really think you need to rethink this. I'm not qualified for this!"

" B, for god's sake, don't make me do a Knute Rockne on you, " Faith says, with some edge to her voice, " You've done this before. Maybe not on this scale, but you've lead before. Frankly, you've become a little lazy, being out of it. Maybe lazy and complacent…"

" HEY! That's so… well, it's not fair!"

" Who said life was fair, B? Time to get your ass in gear again, and work for a living. You're it, you're heading this up. This is exactly the kick in the ass you've been needing, so consider yourself kicked!"

" Fine, whatever. But if I fuck it up…"

" You won't. You're too much of a perfectionist to fuck it up. That and way too competitive with me. Just imagine the humiliation if I've got to step in to fix it?" Faith gives her a sidelong glance.

" I hate you!" Buffy growls.

" Good, just as long as you stick it to me by doing a good job, not really gonna lose sleep over it."

Buffy grumbles some more, but Faith just dismisses it as nerves.

" Wait a minute. You said 3 parts. We've covered two. What's the third?" Kira asks.

" Yes, well, that's the tricky one, and hey, it means more work for the both of you."

Neither Buffy nor Kira make happy sounds.

" The third part is the clan itself. It needs someone to watch over it, prevent it from becoming the cesspool it was, and frankly, to kick it's sorry ass into the 21st Century. I've got a candidate in mind, but … well, with her history, she's gonna need some serious watching."

" Who?" Kira asks, but she's the one with the bad feeling now.

" Do you really need to ask me that, Kira?"

Kira's heart sinks.

" You're kidding, right? After what she's done? She's going to head up the clan?" Kira's face is turning red, but not from praise this time, " What're you thinking, Faith? What kind of punishment is this? Boy I want to get on your shit list, if this is the punishment!"

" Uh… who the hell are you talking about?" Buffy, confused, looks at the other two women.

" Layne," Kira snaps at her. " She wants to put Layne as head of the clan!"

Buffy can't believe her ears. She looks at Faith, and gets confirmation. And gets mad!

" Well, Faith, up to now, I thought you were still sane. Guess I called that one wrong!" Buffy is turning beet red to match Kira's color, " exactly what are you thinking with?"

Faith watches over them with frosty eyes. " Are you two finished?" She asks, her tone almost icy.

Both start to protest, but seeing her look, back off.

" Good. Let's get this straight. I'm the leader of Lehane, and I've got the fucking tattoo on my back to prove it. THAT DOES'NT CHANGE! I nearly died for the 'honor', and I'm not turning it over to Layne! Are we clear?"

Both nod meekly. They can tell Faith is near her snapping point.

" Good. But I'm going to be away, and you two are going to be too damned busy to deal with the clan directly. So, Layne will act as Liaison to the clan, under YOUR watchful eye, Kira. Clear now?"

" Wait a minute, Faith. You don't know Layne. She won't take orders from me…" Kira starts in.

" Kira, Layne and I had a little chat before I left Ireland. She knows she's going to be working for you, and liking it. Or she knows the consequences, especially if she tries to pull any crap." Faith's face has hardened into a mask .

" But, she'll just …."

" No, she won't. And if she tries to give you crap, that's where Buffy comes in. She'll back you up… won't you, B?" Faith turns her gaze towards Buffy.

Buffy nods.

Kira still looks unsure.

" Kira, Layne's treated you like crap for a lot of years. I know it's gonna be hard for you. But frankly you've got to do this. For your own self. You can't live in her shadow forever. It's time a little justice and a whole lot of humility are served up to Ms. Layne Hearne. You know how to deal with jerks… she's just another jerk now."

" I don't get it, Faith, " Buffy intercedes, " Why don't you just … kick her out?"

" She's smart, clever and resourceful, Buffy. I don't need that working against me, inside or outside. She's under Kira's and your watch for a reason, and she knows what'll happen if she tries to screw me, or anyone."

Buffy is about to protest more, but then it hits her. If Faith can't use her, and can't allow her to be outside Lehane, her only other choice is… oh, crap. She looks at Kira, and nods.

" Ok, I get it Faith. Don't worry, she won't fuck it up."

" Good, we're done here." Faith gets up, and head for the door. She turns back into the office. " I just want you to remember this, especially concerning Layne. Tenere tuo amicizia vicino , solo tenere tuo nemici più vicino!"

Smiling a slightly evil smile, she leaves.

Buffy looks confused.

" What the hell did she just say?"

" Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer"

Willow stands looking at the open bags on her bed, hands on hips.

She is feeling some impatience with herself.

It won't get packed by itself, you know, she chides herself. Determinedly, she marches over to the bureau drawer and opens it. She reaches in to pick up some underwear, and stops. She looks with some satisfaction at the contents.

Everything neatly folded, arranged by color and match. This was how Willow did things; she liked things organized. Everything in order, just where you put it, so you could find it easily. It gave her comfort, being organized. Everything neatly in its place. Chaos, disorder confused her.

It was like at home. All her books were arranged alphabetically, by subject, title and author. When she needed something, she could find it without muss and fuss. It was always right there. Never had to go looking for it. It was dependable. Reliable.

She smiles, thinking back how angry she got once when Buffy had called her " Old Reliable". She'd been peed off because Buffy, Xander… everyone thought of her as only being this nerdy girl who was always available, always there whenever they needed her, and dismissed when not needed. She'd rebelled that day; she laughs at her rebellion now. Eating a banana and it wasn't even lunch time. God, things were so much… she shakes her head. No, they weren't simpler, clearer. She remembers what else happened that day, her Vamp double from an alternate universe showing up and causing havoc. But the Scoobies saved the day, and restored order. Mostly. Except Percy the basketball star cum tutee had been thrown for a loop by VampWillow, and his whole attitude had changed. He started treating her with respect. Maybe some chaos is a good thing.

That's crazy talk! Willow scolds herself, Chaos only leads to mess, things getting out of their place. Then you can't find them, and you get all crazy and then the worry starts. And that leads to pain and heartache. No, that's so not good.

She looks at the pictures she has neatly arranged across the bureau, and nods. Now, this is just what I mean. Everything is just as it should be… all the important people in my life, arranged in chronological order.

On the far left, a picture of her parents, because of course they were the first people in her life. Next to them, Xander, because he was her first and bestest friend. Then Buffy. Whoa, she really shook things up, coming in my life. Changed everything. But still, in order, in her place in my heart. Then a picture of the three of them, because that's how it was… until the next picture. One of Oz. Even if everything went kerflooey with him, he's still important to me. Still special. Next to his picture was a picture of the four of them, taken near graduation. Graduation. Talk about chaos and confusion. The Mayor turning into some 20 foot tall snake demon thingie, everything in turmoil! But we got through it, didn't we? But only, only because we had a plan, and stuck to it. We were organized, even if the events weren't. We got through it because we had a plan, and stuck to it!

Then next picture brings tears to her eyes. Tara. Her favorite picture of Tara, taken by that bridge where they sang to each other. The light playing softly on her blonde hair. That warm smile that could hide a shy mischievousness. Her soft blue eyes, so warm. See? This is just what I mean, Willow sniffles, rubbing her eyes. I had the perfect place in my life for you, baby. I had you separate from the scooby stuff. You were safe. Why wasn't that enough? I loved you… I love you! But you wouldn't stay put. You had to move around in places you didn't belong, don't you see that wasn't safe? You had to be in all of it, and I couldn't be everywhere to protect you. Why, baby? Why was it so important to do that? Why couldn't you be happy as it was? Why wouldn't you let me protect you? If only you listened, if only you believed in me enough, trusted me enough… Willow shakes her head, trying to shake off the tears. But it doesn't work. She plucks the picture from the bureau, clutching it close. Why did you have to be in everything? Why did you have to be there, that day, to get shot? To die, to leave me all alone?

She stands clutching the picture for awhile, rocking back and forth. She finally puts it back in its place, and turns to the next one. Kennedy, standing as she usually did, full of confidence, a cocky smile on her face. But Willow knew the other side of her, the side that could be sweet and supportive. The side that knew her place, and didn't try to trample all over her life. Why'd I break up with her? We could've been happy. Sure, things were strange then, but we could've made a go of it. It would've been better… better than this. Why'd I have to fall for her? Willow turns to the spot where Faith's picture sits, last in line. Where it should sit, because, it wasn't there. Her brows furrow, and she looks behind the pictures, thinking it got shoved behind accidentally. Not there. She looks over the side of the bureau, but it hasn't fallen off. She looks in the trash can, emptying it out on the floor. No picture.

Where is she? Why isn't she where she's supposed to be? Willow starts to feel panic. Where is the picture? She goes to the nightstand, but it's not there. She opens the drawer, but except for a couple of pens and some stationery, it's empty. She moves to the closet, thinking she might have for some reason put it there. She looks through her hanging clothes, then starts tossing them aside, searching pockets, anything. No picture! She looks on the bottom of the closet, tossing out her shoes, and still no picture. She looks under the bed. Then she looks on top of the bed, shoving the suitcases aside. Still no picture.

Back at the bureau, she starts going through each drawer, tossing out clothes, searching for the lost photo. It can't be gone, it's got to be here. Where are you? Why're you hiding from me? She goes from drawer to drawer, getting more and more stressed out, clothes flying as she desperately looks for the picture. Where are you, where are you? She starts to cry, really cry, thinking she's lost it. Why're you doing this, why're you hiding from me?

Finally she gets to the last drawer, her heart feeling leaden. She starts to toss out the clothes when she sees the edge of a picture frame peeping out from under a pair of jeans. She grabs at it, and turns it over. There's Faith, leaning against her Harley, helmet in one hand, the other one give her the thumbs up. She's smiling broadly, her eyes dancing with mischief. It's Willow's favorite picture of her, because it just screams " FAITH!".

But Willow's emotions are all in a twist. She feels anger and fear and panic and hurt, lots of hurt. She takes the picture and shakes it angrily, as if she can wipe that smile from Faith's face.


Her clothes are thrown everywhere. The suitcases are on the floor, her shoes willy-nilly tossed in the corners and everywhere. It looks like a tornado went through her room; a force of nature.

And like a force of nature, the truth hits her. THIS is her life. It's everybody's life. One big chaotic mess. Everything tossed any old place, without rhyme or reason, just because that's how life works. Trying to put it all in order, everything neatly compartmentalized and in its place, having some big plan how things should go, how it should run, just a sham. A sham to hide behind. An excuse not to live life. Life is messy; full of conflict and messy emotions. People aren't things, you can't put them in their box and expect them to stay there. They come into your life, and move through it, often turning you on your head. And you do the same right back at them. You fight, and you love, and you live each day as if it's the last one… because it might be. You can't keep someone under glass, trying to protect them, because they'll just chafe and moan and find ways to break out of that glass. All you can do is treat each moment as precious. Because, that's all you have… a series of moments connected together to make a life.

She shakes her head, looking at the chaos she's caused. She shakes her head. Am I insane? Have I gone nuts? Her glance rests on the bureau. Somehow, her neat line of pictures has escaped the insanity that's Hurricane Willow. She looks at the pictures, standing on the bureau top, arrayed like a neat line of little soldiers. Before she knows what's happening, she starts to laugh. It's not a mirthful laugh, but a laugh born out of recognition. She moves over to the bureau, still laughing, and picks up the first picture in line. She tosses it, not caring where it lands. The next picture, same thing. And the next, and the next. Then she reaches Tara's picture. She picks it up, intending to toss it too. But she stops, and looks at it. Faith's words come back to her.

" You gotta ask yourself. Would Tara want this for you?"

Willow looks around the room, and she starts to laugh harder. But the laughter has changed. You can hear the hitch of tears in it, and she's laughing and crying at the same time.

" Oh yeah," Willow says out loud to no one. Her voice is a little hoarse." This is exactly what she'd want for me!"

Still grasping the picture of Faith in one hand, the picture of Tara in the other, laughing and crying, Willow sits down heavily on a pile of stuff on the floor. She doesn't care, she just keeps looking back and forth, back and forth at each picture.

Laughing and crying.

Faith strides to her room, her bearing reflecting confidence and vigor. She taps in the key code for the lock, and opens the door, closing it after her.

Once inside, her whole body language changes. The energy seems to dissipate from her, and she stands, looking a defeated.

Putting on an act for Buffy and Kira has taken a lot out of her. She doesn't want them to see how badly she's feeling Willow's loss. The giggle twins would just try to make like cupid and get us back together, making it just worse. The last thing she needs right now is Buffy and Kira trying to fix things.

Faith knows she's pretty much shot her load. She's laid her case out for Willow. Now it's up to Willow to pick it up and run with it. She can't do anything more.

So why does she feel so damned wrong? Why does all of this just feel… wrong?

Faith is action girl. It rankles her to stand here, doing nothing to keep Willow from leaving. A large part of her wants to run out the door, down the stairs to her room, bust down the door, and carry her back up here, kicking and screaming. And take her, and make her see how much Faith loves her. Faith balls her fists and stamps her foot in frustration.

No! I can't do that. I can't make her feel for me, what I'm feeling. I can't make her love me, not if she can't let go of the past. I can't make her feel. Only she can do that, and me acting like Tarzan to her Jane, only confuse her. I got to let her work it out, whatever happens.

That didn't make her feel better, though. Losing her would be like ripping out her heart. Sometimes I wish I could do that. Just rip out my heart, so I wouldn't feel like this. So it wouldn't hurt so fucking much. Damn me, damn me, damn me!

Angry and frustrated, Faith walks over to her bureau. She opens the drawer, it's usual tumble of clothing scattered every which way, grabbing out some clothing. She heads for the shower. She figures a shower, then working out til she's so tired she'll just fall asleep will get her through tonight. What 'bout tomorrow night, and the next and the next? Fuck that, one night at a time, 'k?

Faith sheds her clothes, and turning on the shower, steps in. feeling the needle warmth of the stream of the shower, Faith's tense muscles relax. She grabs the soap and begins to lather down. For a brief moment, she blanks her mind, just concentrating on the feel and sound of the shower, blocking out everything else.

Feeling a little better, Faith turns off the shower and dries down. She dries her hair best she can, and pulls it back into a ponytail. She quickly dresses in wife beater and sweat pants.

Exiting the bathroom, she heads for the stereo. She likes a driving rhythm when she works out; keeps her in time and focused. She goes down the rack, trying to find something appropriate. She shakes her head over different selections, and then her finger stops. She pulls the CD out of the rack, looking at it, puzzled.

Janis Joplin's Greatest Hits

She puzzles over it for a minute, trying to remember where the hell she got it. It comes to her that she bought it after one of her and Red's all too frequent squabbles, wherein Red retreated to her room and treated the entire hotel to it. She knew Willow was fond of it, but to her it'd always been just overloud caterwauling. She couldn't remember exactly why she bought it; whether to understand why Red liked it so much, or to understand her better. Either way, she'd sat down and listened to the whole thing. She still wasn't exactly a big fan, but she had to admit the power and emotion in the songs.

She's about to shove it back in the rack when she stops. Looking at it, she walks over to the player, and puts in the drive. She stands there for a moment, shaking her head, wondering what the hell she's doing. Nevertheless, she cranks up the volume, then hits play.

Busted flat in Baton Rouge, waiting for a train
And I's feeling nearly as faded as my jeans.
Bobby thumbed a diesel down just before it rained,
It rode us all the way to New Orleans.

She remembers the bar in Arizona where she heard this song. She'd fought with someone who was trying to come on to her, and had to take the proprietor's gun away from him. Good times, she smiles, ruefully. Yeah, sure they were. She'd been on the road, her life all changed up. Everything strange, the only thing that meant anything to her, gone.

I pulled my harpoon out of my dirty red bandanna,
I was playing soft while Bobby sang the blues.
Windshield wipers slapping time,

I was holding Bobby's hand in mine,
We sang every song that driver knew.

She'd never felt so alone as she had then. She had this destiny, this thing she had to do. Yet her heart, even then, wasn't really in it. She even for awhile even debated showing up. More than anything, she wanted to run away. Anything that meant anything to her she'd lost in Anderson, Indiana on that cold night. But she didn't have a choice. She had to go on, because she had to say a last goodbye to an old friend.

Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose,

Nothing don't mean nothing honey if it ain't free, now now.

And feeling good was easy, Lord, when he sang the blues,

You know feeling good was good enough for me,

Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee.

She'd looked for something to play on the jukebox, something that didn't involve dodges or dogs or rifle racks. She'd come across this tune, kind of out of place. Faith had played it because she loved this music. God knows why.

From the Kentucky coal mines to the California sun,

Hey, Bobby shared the secrets of my soul.

Through all kinds of weather, through everything that we done,

Hey Bobby baby kept me from the cold

Faith walks away from the stereo, the music feeling too close, too painful.

She remembers that it brought up memories, that night. Hurtful memories of break up and losing her. How hard it'd been to walk away, knowing she'd probably never see her again.

It's bringing other memories, now. Memories of a time they were together, on the road. Some bad, mostly good. Memories of a time, so brief, when they seemed to connect. Seemed to be together.

Faith, wrapped up in her memories, doesn't hear the door she forgot to lock open and close quietly. She doesn't hear the footsteps tread across the floor to the stereo.

One day up near Salinas, Lord, I let him slip away,

He's looking for that home and I hope he finds it …

The music suddenly stops. Faith, startled, whirls around. Standing there is Willow, wearing a coat. She looks sad.

" What the…Red?"

Then Willow, in a voice that isn't nearly as strong, or really on key, starts to sing.

" But I'd trade all of my tomorrows for one single yesterday

To be holding Bobby's body next to mine…."

" Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose

Nothing, don't mean nothing if its not free, mmm hmm,

And feeling good was easy, lord, when he sang the blues,

You know feeling good was good enough for me,

Good enough for me and …."

Faith doesn't let her finish. She strides across the floor, and surrounds Willow in her arms, kissing her. And kissing her, and kissing her. Faith couldn't, wouldn't end the kiss, greedily wanting more, as if this were the last kiss they would ever have. Finally, they have to break the kiss, both dizzy from oxygen deprivation. They lean against each other, looking into each other's eyes.

"Red?" Faith's question burns in her eyes.

" No more running, Faith, I promise" Willow stares into her eyes. " I thought… after Tara's death, I needed a life all orderly and neat and everything safe in it's boxes. That's what I thought I wanted." Willow slides her arms around Faith's neck. " But I'll never have anything like that with you, will I? It's going to be all over the place, and messy and emotional, and risky… damned risky." Willow frowns a little. " I don't want that."

" Red?" Faith's voice sounds strained and hurt.

" I don't want that, but I need that. I get that now. I need that, messy and confused and all over the place…and I need you." Willow leans in and kisses Faith gently. " No miracles, Faith. I'm still gonna be scared. I need you to not lie to me anymore. No holding stuff back. I need to know what's going on with you."

" I promise, Red," Faith says, her voice sounding funny. Willow notices her face getting red, and tears forming at the edges of her eyes.

" Baby," Willow draws Faith closer. She rubs her back and shoulders, soothing her. " What is it, darling?"

" So close, so close to losing you, Willow, " Faith says, choked up, " I can't even think of not having you in my life. It doesn't mean anything without you. None of this means anything to me if you're not with me. God, I came in this apartment earlier, and it was so empty. So big and empty." Faith pulls away, capturing Willow's face in her hands, " Please tell me you'll stay with me. No matter what, I need you with me. I don't… I won't end up like my grandmother and grandfather, so close and all alone, wanting each other, and not having each other. Please, baby, please!"

Willow takes Faith's face in her hands, leaning very close, so her lips almost brush Faith's.

" Won't happen, Faith, " She leans in and kisses her, " I promise, " kisses her again, " I can't think of being without you, ever". Another kiss, and another, and yet another.

She breaks the kiss and steps back. Faith looks disappointed, and starts towards her, but Willow holds up her hand. Faith stops, puzzled. Willow unbuttons her coat, and shrugs it off. She's totally naked. Faith just stares at her.

" Red, you're naked! " She says, a little awed.

"Ummm-hmmm, " Willow murmurs, coming over to Faith. She stands next to her, smiling a 1000 watt Willowosity smile. " I guess I was hopin' it'd go this way." She bites her lower lip. " Which means, someone here is totally overdressed."

Before Faith can do anything, Willow has reached over, grabbed the drawstrings to her sweatpants, and untied them. She reaches for the elastic and pulls them over and off Faith's hips. Willow's eyebrow shoots up.

" I see you still have that habit of not wearing panties" she giggles. She reaches out her fingertips, brushing them lightly over the trimmed fur on Faith's mound. " mmmm… nice" She croons.

Faith shivers a little , and raises her arms, inviting Willow to remove her top. Willow does, and smiles. " No bra. I'm thinking someone else was hoping for good things." Throwing the top over her shoulder, Willow slides her body up against Faith's, pressing her lips onto the side of Faith's neck. " So, what do you think?" She sucks gently on Faith's neck. She slides her hand up Faith's body, gently squeezing her breast.

" I think… I think…" Faith pants, " Oh, fuck thinking!"

Faith lifts up a very naked and very giggly Willow. Willow squirms in her arms, making Faith even hornier as she rubs up against Faith.

" Oh, my… how butch, " Willow giggles, " are you going to ravish me now, you nasty girl?"

An evil smirk graces Faith's lips. " Like you've never been ravished before." She carries the squirming Willow up to her bed, and throws her on it. She straddles her, leaning over to kiss her.

The kisses soon become more fervid, each needing more and more from the other. Faith's body slides over Willow's , and Willow brings her legs over Faith's hips, wrapping them around her. Their bodies are soon rubbing furiously against each other; moans and groans, murmurs and sighs replacing words. Their mounds rub against each others, their slickness growing as their passion increases. The sweet friction soon becomes fiery, and they both begin to whimper as the first of many, many orgasms that night hit them.

They made love many, many times that night, each pulling out all the stops. Faith did things to Willow with her tongue and fingers and mouth that sent the red headed witch screaming into orgasm. And what Willow did to Faith… was just magic. Once, when they were in a 69 position, Faith nearly had a stroke when she realized they were floating a few feet over the bed. She grabbed Willow's hips almost desperately. Willow just sniggered when she realized what Faith was seeing, and went back to snacking on her lover.

But it was when, after making love for hours, and they were resting, that the topper came. Willow was snuggled up to Faith, her head resting on Faith's chest. Even after all that happened, Willow was still gently shooting her tongue out over Faith's nipple, licking it, keeping Faith just a wee bit horny. She stopped for a second, and looked up at Faith.

" Happy, baby?" Willow asked, smiling dreamily up at her lover.

" Oh yeah, " Faith returns, but Willow catches a note in her voice.

" What is it, honey?" She asks, snuggling closer to Faith.

" Nothing, it's silly, " Faith says, smiling at Willow.

" No, now you promised. You tell me," Willow insists, " What is it?"

" It's so…girly, " Faith blushes deeply.

Willow snuggles against Faith, rubbing her hand over Faith's tummy, " Well, you're a girl, baby. It's ok to be a little girly, I think." Her hand slips lower, finding itself between Faith's thighs.

" God, are you trying to make me horny again?" Faith growls, softly, loving it.

" I have to try?" Willow giggles. She strokes her fingertips over Faith's nether lips, " So, tell me, what's going on in that head of yours?"

" It's so stupid," Faith says, embarrassed. " Just that, well… I love you so much, and I love what you do to me. Oh god, what you do to me!' Faith is panting a little as Willows finger stroke along her now moistening slit, " But … I just like to feel you … inside me…god, that's just so dumb…"

" No, honey, I don't think that's dumb at all, " Willow says, smiling. She sits up, and leans over Faith. " Not dumb." She kisses her gently on the lips. Faith closes her eyes, enjoying the kiss.

When she opens her eyes, she notices that Willow is glowing.

" Hey…what's going on?" Faith asks, growing a little suspicious.

Willow puts her finger up to her lips, shushing her. She seems to float off the bed, and the glow around her increases, turning an iridescent blue. Faith watches in awe as Willow's body starts to lose from, merging with the glow. The glow starts to shrink.

Becoming smaller. And smaller. And smaller.

Finally the blue glow breaks apart, and a tiny little figure emerges, no bigger than 6" tall, an iridescent blue body with glowing amber wings and a shock of red hair. It flies over to Faith, landing on her chest.

" Hi, Baby," Willow says, in Faith's mind.

" Willow?" Faith is a little shocked , staring at the tiny blue figure wide-eyed. " Is that YOU?"

" Uh-huh," Willow laughs, pirouetting on Faith's chest. " What do you think?"

" Your so cute, and so… tiny" Faith says, still amazed. Except for the size and color, and the wings, it's a perfect little Willow dancing between her breasts. " Why?"

" Am I pretty?" Willow says, her body glowing faintly blue.

" Oh god, your gorgeous!" Faith says, smiling.

" Glad you noticed, " Willow floats up off of Faith.

" Where you going?" Faith asks, watching her buzz around.

" You'll find out, " Willow chuckles.

Faith watches as the Willow, leaving a glowing blue trail after her soars around the bed. Suddenly, she feels the sheet lifting off of her, and she's totally exposed.

" Hey, it's kinda chilly, baby, Give that back!" Faith complains.

" Don't worry, honey, you won't be chilly for too long, " Willow's voice giggles in her mind.

Faith watches as the tiny sprite seems to circle and roll around her. Then, as if it finding its direction, it dive bombs at Faith, the bluish glow heading straight between her thighs.

" Willow! What the hell… oh, my god!" Faith gasps

Faith feels the most incredible sensation she's ever felt. Willow's tiny wings are buzzing against her already sensitive labials. It feels as if cold blue sparks are shooting up her spine, directly to her brain.

"What are … you doing… to me?" Faith pants, already incredibly stimulated.

"Hmmmm…. You like that? You aint seen nothing yet."

Faith is already in heaven, the tingling increasing in her body. But then something happens that makes her forget all that. She feels something pushing against her lips, something warm and pliable and yet… pushing into her. She's never felt anything like this, and the tingles become electric jolts as Willow pushes her way inside Faith.

" Willow…wha…" Faith is almost incapable of words, her brain starting to catch fire. She feels something like a tiny pin pricking her inside. " Wha?"

" mmmm … licking my honey's honey. Nummies!" Willow murmurs softly in Faith's boiling brain.

Faith feels her body writhing on the bed. Even with the intense pleasure happening to her, she's worried about her diminutive lover.

" Will… maybe … stop… don't wanna… hurt… you" Faith gasps out, in utter ecstasy.

" I'm fine baby… but hold on, it's gonna be a little bumpy."

"Huh?" Faith is almost beyond thinking.

Faith didn't think it could feel any better, more intense. She was wrong

Almost as if on cue, suddenly it feels as if a thousand pair of tiny wings are vibrating up and down inside her. Faith's eyes go wide as intense wave after wave of pleasure hits her. No longer able to form words, she just makes sounds, moans and whimpers and groans. Again and again wave after wave of pleasure hits her brain, like storm tossed waves hitting the rocks on the shore. Every nerve in her body is singing, and she feels as if her body is being broken apart in a thousand pieces… then put back together again, to break apart once more. She is utterly, completely out of control of herself, her body writhing and bucking like mad on the bed. Finally, her brain , overwhelmed, shuts down, and she faints.

From inside her, a tiny blue glow emerges. It flies high over her, and begins to swell. As it grows larger, it's color changes, turning into a soft white glow. It breaks apart, and a full sized Willow is floating gently above Faith. she settles softly onto the bed next to her lover, wrapping her in her arms.

It takes nearly five minutes for Faith's eyes to open. When they do, she looks over, seeing a full sized Willow holding onto her. She stares at her, wide-eyed. She can't speak, she's still feeling the after effects of what happened to her. Willow just smiles at her, and snuggles closer to Faith. She waits while Faith recovers.

Finally Faith gasps out, her voice hoarse.

" What the hell was that?"

Willow smiles like the Cheshire cat. " Just making my lover happy."

Faith, exhausted beyond thought, quietly drifts off to sleep, holding Willow close.

" I want a baby!"

Faith and Willow have been in Faith's room for over two weeks, The idea of being separated, even for a few minutes, is more than painful to them. The only time they've gotten out of bed is to answer the call of nature, shower, and to answer the door for the delivery guy bringing food. Otherwise, they've been making with the horizontal sweaty.

Faith looks at Willow, a little startled. This was something she hadn't considered.

" A baby?" Faith asks.

" Yes. A baby. I want us to be a family, a real family with kids and all the stuff, " Willow says, munching down on the Moo Goo gai pan in her container.

" A baby, " Faith says, reflectively, " Yeah, I can see that … I guess we can look into adopting…"

" No… I mean, yes, later, we can adopt. But I mean, I want our first baby to be our baby. Yours and mine."

Faith gives Willow a strange look.

" Willow, honey, I'd give you anything, anything in the world, you know that. Anything I could, " She looks down at herself, " but lover, there's just some things I'm not equipped to do…" She lowers her voice, " You do know how babies come about, right?"

" Don't be a dope. Of course I do…" Willow turns the tables on her, " and I could always give you the proper equipment…" A mischievous glint comes into her eyes.

Faith's eyes bug out. " Don't you EVEN think about that one, Red!" Faith growls at her, " I like me just fine the way I am, thank you very much."

" Mmmmm… me, too " Willow crawls over the bed, and wraps her arms around Faith, kissing her neck. She brings her hands up, squeezing Faith's breasts. " Wouldn't give these up for the world, " She chortles, rubbing her thumbs over Faith's nipples. Faith begins to sigh. God, I'm so easy.

" I think I know another way, however," Willow whispers into Faith's ear. " But I need to call the Coven in Devon to check on it." She slides away from Faith, and standing, walks over to the telephone.

Faith watches her go, noticing the sexy little sway in her ass as she walks. Will I ever get less horny watching the sexy witch? Or will I just die of exhaustion, first? Faith chuckles to herself as she falls into a small drowse.

She wakes up rather suddenly when she feels herself being poked and pinched. Sitting up, she sees Willow standing over her.

" C'mon, Baby, get dressed. We need to go out. I need to get some supplies. C'mon, honey, get up!" Willow is pulling on her, trying to get her out of bed.

" Uh-uh," is all Faith says, as she wraps Willow in her arms and pulls her down on the bed beside her.

" I'm serious here, Faith, we really need to…" her words trail off as Faith begins to kiss her way down Willow's body. " … well, ok, " she says, panting, " maybe in a little while…" Willow gives in as Faith works her own magic on her.

Much later that evening, Willow sits in a circle of candles in the middle of the floor. She is dressed in her usual costume d' jour, meaning she's naked. Around her neck is a small necklace, a representation of Bast, the Egyptian goddess of fertility and childbirth. She is chanting while mixing some herbs and powders in a large incense burner in the middle of the circle.

Sitting across from her is Faith, looking a little bewildered. She also is naked, and is wearing a different necklace. It represents Min, the Egyptian god of fertility. She keeps looking at it, because it's representation is rather large and graphic. How come I get the male part in this? She wonders, shaking her head, I only hope this doesn't backfire. Not wanting any extra little surprises popping up on me. What worries her most is that she has the uncanny feeling of being Vivian to Willow's Lucy, caught up in one of her crazy schemes. She lets the necklace fall on her chest, a small feeling of doom settling over her.

Willow stands up, and grabbing a small bag, walks around the circle, sprinkling a fine powder in a circle around the circle. She chants quietly. When she reaches Faith, she pauses briefly, sprinkling some of the powder on her, and saying a small prayer to the gods. She continues around the circle, still chanting. Finally, she reaches her place, and dusts herself with a little of the powder.

" Are you ready?" Willow asks, looking over at the somewhat reluctant Faith.

" Feeling really weird about this, Red. " Faith fingers her necklace, " you know I'm a little nervous about the hocus-pocus stuff."

" Faith, please, it's all prepared. All you have to do is say the lines I taught you."

" Ok, ok, " Faith grumbles, " but I better not be able to pee standing up after this hoodoo stuff!"

Willow shakes her head, smiling in amusement at Faith. Sighing, she begins the spell.

" Gaia, mother earth, we beseech thee to bless our union, and grant us this boon."

Willow waits for Faith's response, then cues her.

" Thank thee, Mother Earth, for this blessing" Faith says, feeling funny.

"Bast, Goddess of fertility and birth, look upon me. Wrap me in your arms, and bring me my lover's seed." Willow calls out.

" Min, God of fertility and virility, bring forth my essence to my love. Give her my seed, bring forth in her my child."

The candles around them flare. The powder Willow sprinkled on them smokes, filling the room with a light haze. Willow lights the mixture of herbs in the burner, and it burns low, bringing forth more smoke.

Faith begins to cough, but then the candles flare brighter.

The smoke swirls together, beginning to glow. It enwraps both Faith and Willow, and they find themselves lifted off the ground. They both float, lying on their backs, suspended by the glowing haze. Though their eyes are open, they seem to be caught up in the spell, their conscious minds dampened down by the mixture of burning herbs.

Slowly, the haze seems to coalesce around Faith, becoming a deep golden glow. It swirls around her, becoming tighter and tighter, then entering her through her skin. She seems to glow internally, her eyes, glowing that deep golden color. In herself, Faith feels as if her essence is gathering together, becoming one glowing orb within. Without warning, she feels a pull on herself, as if her essence is being drained from her. She cries out, in both fear and ecstasy.

Willow in the meanwhile is floating in a white milky sea of haze. Her mind floats relaxed and dreamily, until suddenly she feels energy flowing into her. Strong, powerful golden energy suffuses her being, filling her with a sense of completeness. Within her womb, she can feel a spark, something penetrating her egg. She is in bliss.

As slowly as the spell began, it ends. The haze surrounding Faith and Willow is dissipated, and slowly, very slowly, they float back to earth. They are deposited gently within the circle, next to each other. Both feel utterly serene, as if something wonderful, something miraculous has happened.

It has.

As they lay there, side by side, their hands reach out for each other. They are tired, exhausted. But it's a wonderful tired, a tired that comes from accomplishment.

Lying there, their fingers entwined, they sleep.


Somewhere in the Pacific

7 months later.

The sun kisses the Pacific Ocean in the west, as another day prepares to end.

On a private beach, the blue-green waters of the pacific lagoon lap gently against the white sands. Palm trees dot the shoreline, masking the beach house on the low cliff above. The breeze is cool and gentle, caressing the palm fronds and singing softly to the ocean.

Down the path from the private house a young woman walks towards the shore. She is naked except for a sarong hugging her hips. She walks slowly, because she is very, very pregnant. Carefully she picks her path down the stones, brushing back her long red hair over her shoulders. She smiles. This is her favorite time of day. Everything is quiet and peaceful, and the sun, which plays havoc on her pale, freckled skin, is not too harsh. She is carrying a small incense burner, to offer up prayers.

Kneeling carefully, she places the incense burner in the sand. She takes a match and lights it. Continuing to kneel, she closes her eyes against the setting sun.

She is nearly finished when she is startled by a pair of cold wet hands sliding around her, strong arms embracing her. She opens her eyes and smiles, looking back over her shoulder at her lover.

Her lover is bezel nut brown from the sun, her dark, long and unruly hair streaked by exposure to the sun and water. She, like her lover, is nearly naked, wearing only a very short sarong that barely covers her hips. She leans her head on her red-headed lover's shoulder, waiting for her to finish her evening prayers.

Willow opens her eyes, and leans back into Faith, reaching back and bringing Faith's face forward for a kiss. She loves the warm , safe feeling she gets from Faith's embrace. The kiss lasts a long time.

" Hi, honey," Willow says softly, snuggling deeper into Faith's arms.

" Hi, lover. How is my baby? Or should I say, babies?" She laughs quietly. She rubs her hand over Willow's distended belly.

" Ummm… hemorrhoidal. Feeling like an elephant. Uncomfortable, oh, and did you know our baby is gonna be a soccer star? Because she kicks like the dickens." Willow complains. Then she smiles broadly, " did I mention happy?"

" You forgot something, " Faith admonishes her.


" Beautiful. Both my girls are utterly beautiful!"

" Oh you, " Willow slaps her hand softly. But she loves it, no doubt about it. " You're all wet again, and sandy."

" Uhhh … yeah, " Faith says, a little guiltily.

" You've been at the cliffs again, diving, haven't you?"

" Yeah" Faith admits.

Willow sighs. " Always the risk taker. Goddess, those cliffs have to be fifty feet high. What if you miss, and hurt yourself? What then? I thought you outgrew this when you were like, 10." Willow scolds her.

" Guess not, " Faith shrugs.

" I guess I can't complain too much. I knew what I was getting with you, " Willow covers Faith's hands with her own, " just remember, you've got a family to consider now."

" Yes, mommy," Faith gently mocks her. She earns another hand slap for that.

They sit silently for awhile, watching the sun.

"What're you thinking?" Faith asks, breaking the silence.

" We'll have to go back soon." Willow responds, a little note of sadness in her voice. She'll miss their little paradise.

" I know, " Faith agrees, " The bambina has to be born in a hospital. And I know you want Buffy and Kira there, to make a big old fuss over you and her."

"Well you betcha, " Willow says, poking Faith gently in the ribs," If I've got to go through agonizing hell so little miss princess can be born, you better bet your sexy ass there better be a fuss… a big fuss!"

Faith smiles, and hugs her tighter.

" And you, you've got to get back to what you've got to do." Willow says." There's a lot for you to catch up on."

Faith grimaces a little, feeling the weight of the world just barely suspended over her thin shoulders. She sighs.

" I know. We'll go back soon… too soon."

She pauses, and watches as the last of the sun disappears on the horizon.

" But not now."

" Not today."