There was a time when this was fun; okay, so it still is fun… but I used to look forward to this. I used to live for this, but now it's become more of a catch twenty-two. I mean, it always hurts afterwards, but nothing like this. It's getting worse. But I guess that's my own fault; it's what I get for putting myself out there like this.

I wonder if she feels the same way after every time we do this.

There was a time when I'd look forward to this. I'd crave it. I'd watch her from across the table… across the room… wherever. I'd strain my eyes just looking for a hint, a glance, anything that would tell me she was craving it too; craving me. Then I'd see it and my heart would skip a beat. Our eyes would meet and lock for little over a second and I'd know. The rest was all about timing and concentration.

It usually worked best if I left first. Wait for Giles to start rambling on about something of a lesser importance; or for Kennedy to get into a verbal scrap with Dawn. Then it's time for me to slip out back for a smoke. From there it's only a three minute or so wait. Who knows how she does it; what her excuse is to slip away. Maybe she told them she was going to the washroom, or that she needed a glass of water. I don't know. But soon after she's either climbing out the bathroom window or coming around from the side of the house with a smile spread across her lips.

I don't need to put out my cigarette; I'm not even really smoking. I used to be a half-a-pack a day kind of girl, but I crave something much stronger than nicotine these days.

She'd grab my hand and without a word we'd be racing towards the tool shed. Timing is everything and we both know it. When it's this rushed there's no going below the belt, but that isn't to say that we don't try. It's a constant struggle to control ourselves and each other; which I guess in a sense is a little redundant, since that's what this is all about: loss of control. We'll catch each others eye at a completely random moment and suddenly our bodies are screaming out for one another. And instead of containing it we steal away to someplace totally unromantic like this tool shed, or under the basement stairs, or even the bathroom.

Sure, it feels good now; we're all over each other like bees on honey, and it's just as sweet. Hands grasping, lips smacking, tongues lashing; it's all happening. We only have so much time to take as much of each other in as possible. We want to be able to taste each other for hours after this; enough to last us until our next collision.

She's backed me up against the wall without our mouths even parting. We'll both need air soon but we'll put it off as long as possible. The scary thing is that I could die like this: in her arms and choking on our carbon dioxide and I wouldn't really mind. Compared to all the other ways a slayer could die this would be a blessing.

I can just imagine the looks on her friends' faces if they were to find us, our bodies intertwined, half-naked and lifeless on the shed floor. Complete and utter disappointment; not so much over the fact that their precious do-no-wrong Buffy has been secretly seeing and sleeping with a girl, but more so because it's me, Faith. The enemy. Well, once upon a time, anyway. In their eyes I'll never be completely forgiven. That's why we have to do this in secret: to protect the both of us.

Her hands drop to my belt buckle and she's fumbling with the clasp. It hurts me to have to stop her. I take her hands and place them around my waist instead.

"No," I say softly, smiling. "We can't."

Normally I would never have agreed to keep this a secret, and I didn't really. It was more of a silent promise between us; we both knew what was at stake but we didn't care. The first time this happened it was a "mistake", which soon escalated to a whole series of "mistakes". It wasn't until one particularly frosty night on patrol when she had me pinned against a tree, both of us gasping for breath during another one of these mistakes, that things came undone. She rested her forehead against mine and shaking slightly, whispered that she was in love with me.

This was it; this was the one thing that I had wanted all along. This was the reason for all of the pain and the fighting. And somehow, after everything I had done to her, Buffy was giving me what I wanted… what I needed: her love and a second chance to return it.

That's why I'm putting up with all of this pain. The pain of not being able to hold her whenever I like, wherever I like regardless of who's watching. It's getting harder to keep this a secret, to keep turning my emotions off and on like this. But I do it anyways; I do it for her.

We break away from each others' kiss and both of us know it's already been too long. We're playing a dangerous game that could end badly if not handled properly. I fix my hair and she smoothes out her blouse. We don't wear lipstick anymore; it was way too risky. Even the quick drying stuff that isn't supposed to smudge or smear would somehow find its way onto our necks and faces.

After we take a moment to catch our breaths she smiles at me and I kiss her one last time before letting her slip out the door and head back towards the house.

Will they ask questions? Has our number come up? Will they finally figure it out? I'll know when I make my reappearance in five minutes or so. We've decided that we'll tell them soon. It's just a matter of how and when. We keep asking 'what's the worse that could happen?' but really we're afraid to find out. But we can't keep hiding like this. Whatever happens we'll face it together.

I take a deep breath and step outside. As I walk across the backyard I note that I don't smell of cigarette smoke, but that's never stirred up questions before, so I should be fine.

I open the back door and let myself in; I don't hear any raised voices or frantic explanations, so that's a good sign. And sure enough, as I enter the dinning room where the rest of the Scoobies are situated around the table, they don't even look up. Dawn is busy lecturing Kennedy on some inappropriate comment she must have made and Giles has his glasses off and is massaging his temples.

Buffy and I don't even look at each other knowingly; it's safer if we just avoid eye contact all together. We play it close to the vest and act as if it never even happened. And for all anyone else knows, it never did.

THE END