Buffy frowned as Xander cannonballed into the Cleveland Motel's swimming pool from the diving board, raising up a huge splash that made a few drops fall on her, even though she was at the far side of the shallow end of the pool.

"I moved down here for a reason, you know," she muttered, flicking the few water droplets on her arm, leg, and stomach rather prissily. "One that centered around not getting completely drenched…"

She and Xander, along with Giles, Willow, Faith, Kennedy, and the other Potentials-turned-Slayers, had been renting rooms at the motel for the past few days while the injured recovered, and Giles shopped around for a house or building large enough to have space for them all, plus more. Giles was planning to open up an academy for all the new Slayers right there in Cleveland, conveniently by another known Hellmouth. Until they got to that point, however, it was motel all the way, with their party taking up nearly every one of the available rooms.

Buffy was sharing a room with queen bed with Dawn. She was one of the only ones who had the luxury of so few to a room. Willow and Kennedy shared their two-bed room with Vi and Rona; Xander shared his with Giles and Andrew. Thinking of how the sleeping arrangements must be for that trio was enough to make Buffy grin with amusement. Most of the other girls were four to a room as well, she thought… all except Faith. For now, Faith had a room to herself. Buffy assumed this was because she would share it with Robin once he was out of the hospital. Then again, maybe she just had wanted a room to herself… and knowing Faith's propensity for swapping bed partners at every given opportunity, Buffy could see why Giles might have been uncomfortable enough with her request to let her.

The one perk about the motel situation was that it had a pool… and only a mile or two away, a Wal-Mart that offered a selection of bathing suits and pool toys. The girls had made immediate use of this fact over the first few days, despite it not being particularly warm weather. Practically every free second they had had been spent fooling around in the pool. It had been enough to make Buffy stay away, despite having bought herself a cute new pink bikini and a pool float toy that was like a long raft to lie down on. With all the girls constantly in the pool at once, the combination of shrieking, splashing, combined body heat, and lack of space to move around 

without elbowing someone in the boob had struck Buffy as 'claustrophobic' rather than 'fun and relaxing.' So for the first few days she had found other ways to keep herself occupied.

Now, however, the thrill of having a pool had worn off slightly for most of the girls, and they had began to find other ways to occupy their free time. Some of them had gone shopping today, taking Dawn along with them; a few were exploring possible patrol areas; some were reading; some were scouting out the area for clubs… or boys, depending on who you asked. Giles was house-hunting, Andrew was deeply engrossed in a Star Trek marathon in his shared motel room, and Willow and Kennedy were having some 'alone time' that Buffy suspected involved lots of 'loud obnoxious sex,' as Dawn had once phrased it, since Vi and Rona were out.

That left only her and Xander (who, in spite of his grief over Anya, not only was not yet any less enthusiastic about the pool and any bikini-clad girls who might venture near it, but also would do anything to escape Andrew and his Star Trek drooling) today, out of all the others, who had decided to stay around the motel and hang out at the much-emptied pool… her, Xander, and Faith…

Buffy and Faith really hadn't spent much time alone together at all since their shared defeat of the Sunnydale Hellmouth. Okay, they hadn't spent any time alone together… but how could anyone, considering the size of their travelling party? They hadn't really had a chance to talk, to tentatively feel out where they stood now, after all that happened, in their relationship with each other. Not that Faith was probably too concerned about that- she wasn't exactly Miss Talky Girl- but still, they hadn't even had a chance to attempt to. Somehow, this bothered Buffy more than she was quite comfortable with admitting to herself.

What was their relationship-did they even have one? Of course they didn't- not that kind of relationship, not a sexual one- they had never gone there, no matter how willing the 'sexually adventurous' Faith might have been to try that out a few years ago. And of course Buffy never would have let her- of course she wouldn't have, this wasn't what she'd meant at all. How had she gotten so off subject?

What she'd been wondering was what they were to each other, really, where they stood. They were no longer enemies… but could they really call themselves friends? They were sister 

slayers- but did that even mean what they once had, now that they were no longer the Chosen Two?

Buffy didn't know… and even now, she couldn't bring herself to bring it up to the other girl, though this was the first time in days they had anywhere close to alone together. Well, there was Xander, of course, but he was Xander… and he seemed, other than an occasional furtive admiring glance at the two of them, to be concentrating more on his dives and cannonballs and their splash power than on Buffy or Faith.

However, as Buffy floated her blow up pool raft, as far from Xander as she could get, she had found that it was she who kept glancing towards Faith. For some reason, as Faith swam laps with long, powerful strokes that propelled her through the water so it trailed out in ripples behind her, Buffy found herself watching her through her sunglasses. She had put them on, despite the overcast nature of the day and Dawn's 'Hollywood chick' teasing; now it seemed they had a hidden use: sneaky Faith-spying.

It wasn't that she really wanted to look, or that Faith swimming was such a fascinating sight. Or so Buffy told herself. But time and time again, she found her eyes drifting in Faith's direction, oddly fascinated, almost hypnotized, by her smooth rhythmic movements…

It didn't help, of course, that Faith was that being strangely, uncharacteristically quiet, even ignoring Xander's constant splashing dives and loud comments back and forth with Buffy. She seemed almost unaware that the other two were there, other than swimming around them when they drifted near her. She was weirdly focused… almost suspiciously so. Buffy suspected it was deliberate… but why?

Trying to get her mind- and her eyes- off of Faith for the moment, Buffy looked over at Xander, who had just popped his head up out of the water on the other end of the pool, gasping.

"Xander, you just splashed water on me again," she called out to him, scowling in half-mock, half-genuine annoyance.

"Awesome! It must have been a huge splash then," Xander said with enthusiasm. "Was it the biggest one yet? Did you watch?"

"Yes, kind of hard to miss, Xan," Buffy replied, rolling her eyes, but she was smiling. "What with the huge splash noise and the water droppage. You know, the whole reason I'm on a floaty thingy in the shallow end is so you don't soak me… hint, hint, major, broad, flashing lights hint," she finished pointedly, wiggling her eyebrows at him playfully.

"But that's what swimming pools are for, Buffy," Xander protested, making his way to the side of the pool and hanging onto it as he kicked his feet energetically. "Swimming. You can't generally go swimming in a swimming pool without soaking yourself."

"There are lot of other things you can do in a swimming pool besides swim!" Buffy argued. "There's also floating, and dipping your feet in the water, and reading magazines that don't require lots of serious thoughts while sunning. Well, maybe not sunning, since it's kind of cold and overcast and most of the lighting today comes from fluorescent pool lights… but you know what I mean. Just because the pool is there doesn't mean you have to get in it."

"Oh, yeah?" asked a husky voice from nearby her- much more nearby her than she had realized. In fact, pretty much right directly beside her…

Faith had been so quiet that Buffy had not noticed her come up right alongside her raft. And maybe that had been the intention behind her lack of noisemaking all along- waiting for the perfect opportunity to startle her. Well Buffy wasn't going to give her the satisfaction of seeing her jump, or flinch if Faith flicked water or something on her. She was just going to paddle away, and-

Oh no- oh god, she'd better not be about to do what Buffy thought she was… oh god, oh nooo, she wasn't, she wouldn't

But Faith was, and she definitely would… Buffy's last sight was the flash of her broad grin as her strong arms suddenly wrapped themselves around Buffy's waist pool floaty thing and all, and rolled her over along with her into the water.

Buffy had just stared to scream at Faith before her head was ducked under, her eyes bulging, so she immediately got a nice, chlorinated mouth-nose-and-eyeful of water to reward her for her efforts. She choked, sputtering, and only managed to suck in water as she began to struggle madly to break the surface, break free of Faith. Faith had released her grip on the raft, but she held onto Buffy tightly, in no rush at all to let her up for air.

Buffy felt like her lungs were going to explode; she was breathing in and choking on water, her hair floating around her face, obscuring most of her already blurred vision. Even so, she was still very aware of Faith's body pressed against hers, her breasts and stomach pressed against Buffy's back as she held her hard and close to her, her arms locked around Buffy's stomach and over her chest- way too close to her chest…

And of course, out of all the bathing suits at Wal-Mart, Faith had managed to pick out the sexiest, skimpiest one, the one that would leave the most bare skin to be all over Buffy now. Of course, any bathing suit on Faith would have pretty much achieved the same effect though…

And why was she thinking about that now, when Faith was freakin' drowning her?! What the hell was her problem?!

It wasn't more than ten seconds until they both broke the surface, breathless. Buffy still held hard against Faith in her arms, but those seconds seemed like minutes to Buffy's frantic mind. For a few moments she could only cough and sputter, unable to even speak, let alone get Faith off of her. She could feel the other girl laugh hoarsely behind her, her chest and stomach moving against Buffy's back, and in spite of her anger and coughing fit, an odd thrill ran up Buffy's center- a not unpleasant one.

"W-what the hell w-was that?" Buffy yelped when she finally managed to get most of her breath back, her voice high-pitched with indignation. She shoved Faith away from her roughly, raking 

her hair away from her face and glowering as she felt it drip down her back. "Are you trying to kill me?!"

"Seemed like it was the other way around to me, B," Faith chuckled, not seeming in the least sorry. Her dark eyes were dancing, her dimples popping hugely. "You were the one kickin' and tryin' to claw my eyes out. I just held on."

"You- you tried to d-drown me!" Buffy spluttered, glaring at her fiercely as her chest heaved, struggling to bring her respiration and heart rate entirely back to normal. "You-you-"

"No, I wasn't, B," Faith contradicted, her voice still heavily tinted with her amusement as she raised her eyebrows, grinning at her. To Buffy's annoyance, she saw that the brunette's chest wasn't moving in the slightest- she had gotten her breath back much faster.

And why are you staring at Faith's barely-covered chest, Buffy?

She snapped her eyes up to Faith's face hurriedly, struggling to rearrange her suddenly alarmed expression back into a properly furious one as Faith went on.

"I was just messin' with you, but obviously you don't think jokes are funny if they're targetin' you, huh blondie? It's your fault anyway, you had your mouth open and didn't breathe like you're supposed to," Faith said in an irritatingly reasonable tone. She hesitated, her forehead wrinkling slightly with reluctant concern as she looked at Buffy more closely.

"You're okay though, right, B?"

"No, I'm not, I'm freaking choking, F," Buffy snapped, even though she had pretty much regained normal breathing by that point. Still giving Faith the Narrowed Angry-Eyed Glare, she hugged herself around her middle, whining, "God, this water is freezing!"

"Yeah, I can tell," Faith smirked, and to her horror, Buffy realized that her eyes were deliberately, slowly drifting down to settle on Buffy's breasts- and her nice, sticky-outty nipples.

Letting out a rather undignified squawk, Buffy crossed her arms over her chest, giving Faith an even more evil stare… and yet the same shivery thrill from earlier ran through her again.

"God, shut up, Faith…"

"Please don't," came Xander's voice immediately, sounding very fervent and barely concealing his excitement. "This is the best entertainment I've had in days… and there have been a lot of bikini moments to choose from…"

Both girls' heads jerked around to his direction, where he was still hanging on the poolside, taking in all the goings-on with highly interested eyes and a grin he wasn't bothering to try and tone down. Buffy had completely forgotten he was even there.

"Oh come on, B," Faith was smiling, wading her way closer to her and draping an affectionate arm around Buffy's shoulders. When Buffy shrugged her off, a few beats late for it to look like a genuine effort, Faith simply slipped her arm back around her again. Buffy sighed loudly, trying to put all her exasperation in it, but she felt her stomach stir as Faith's cool, smooth bare skin pressed itself against her own once more…

"It's not like you can really get in a pool without gettin' wet," Faith was finishing, giving Buffy's shoulders a little squeeze.

"Not with you around, I can't," Buffy muttered grouchily, and she was startled to hear Xander's cackle in delight.

"Buff, that totally sounded like a sexual innuendo," he informed her, grinning hugely, and Faith, her eyes widening, guffawed, deliberately hugging Buffy even tighter to her side to maximize 

her embarrassment. Buffy could feel her hips, the side of her (much smaller) breast pressing into Faith's, and her heart leapt dramatically.

"What?!" she backpedaled, flushing. "That was, that was so not innuendo! Faith- I didn't-"

"Oh, sure it wasn't, B, I understand… girlfriend," Faith cut her off, giving her a playful wink, but her voice was sultry, insinuative…

Before Buffy had processed what she was doing, Faith had climbed up onto her back, locking her arms around Buffy's neck. She had her legs clamped around Buffy's waist, and she leaned into her, her breasts flattening against Buffy's back. Buffy, shocked, staggered… not from the weight, for Faith was far from heavy, and made even lighter in water, but rather from the jolt of startling, alarming excitement that had coursed through her in response.

And why was she so excited?!

"Faith," Buffy started, her voice so tight it sounded strangled. "Faith, get off-"

But Faith was leaning in even harder against her, her crotch pressing into the small of Buffy's back so that Buffy's every muscle tensed… for there was only a very, very thin layer of bathing suit material separating them… and she was putting her lips close to Buffy's ear, her warm breath tickling her flesh.

"It's okay, B," she whispered, and her husky tone made Buffy's stomach clinch… along with lower parts of her. "I'm wet too…"

And suddenly she was turning Buffy's chin with one hand, and her lips were covering Buffy's, her tongue entering her mouth…

Without quite being aware of what she was doing, let alone being in control of it, Buffy found herself kissing her back, and it seemed the most natural, the most obvious response in the world to her in that moment. Intense sensations shot through every part of her being, stronger than she had ever felt before…

They were oblivious to Xander behind them, goggling in a mix of astonishment, disbelief, and an unmistakable glee as he muttered shakily to himself, "I take it back, what I was saying before… now this is entertainment…"

As Faith skillfully maneuvered herself around so she was holding onto Buffy from her front, still wrapping her legs around the older girl's waist, she began to kiss Buffy again, deeply, her hands digging into Buffy's bare shoulders. Her mind going completely blank, completely numb to everything but the vivid feelings coursing through her, Buffy let her, returning her moves without hesitation.

Their kissing was like something she had never experienced before, even beyond it being with another female. It was a connection, a bonding that required no words, no agreement, no difficulty or misunderstanding. It was exhilarating, it was intense, it was deeply exciting and arousing…

But mostly… it was wet.