Without the masks

Author note: Takes place third season, pre-Amends, AU. A two-parter.

Part two

Faith heard the knocking on her motel door a split second before her brain caught up with what that meant. She had been sitting on her bed with her back propped up against the headboard, watching a horror movie that had come on TV; the sound of a fist rapping sharply at her door made her look up, startled, her heard momentarily seizing. It was Halloween night, past midnight at that…so who the hell was pounding on her door?

Or what was at her door, might be a better question… maybe she should've known better, thinking she could go the whole day without having to do any demon ass-kicking…

"Porch light's nonexistent, so let me just tell you, you ain't getting candy," she called out, putting nonchalance into her tone. "And if you think you're gonna pull tricks, you got another thing comin'-"

"Faith, it's me," Buffy's voice cut her off, and Faith blinked, startled…what the hell…

She shook off her shock quickly. Something must be up, that was all. There was some demon, some big bad, and Buffy just needed her help. That must be it…

"Yeah, come in," she said, keeping her voice neutral, and a moment later Buffy pushed the door open, looking around with a slightly odd expression- almost like she was nervous. It must really be something bad going on, Faith thought, why else would she look so weird…

"So what's up, B? Need me to team up with you, help you kick some demon's scaly ass?" she asked lightly.

Buffy smiled quickly, still standing in the doorway as if she couldn't quite decide whether she was allowed to come in any further.

"Nope…no demons tonight, Faith. Yet, anyway…"

She hesitated for a few more moments, then sat on Faith's bed, a slight distance apart from her, turning to face her with a little bounce. It wasn't until then that Faith noticed she was wearing a pair of jeans and a tank top, rather than the glitzy fairy outfit she had been gushing over yesterday. Her face was scrubbed free of makeup, and she had just set a huge brown bag on the bed that looked as if it were heavy…

This was weird…if there was no demons, where was her Halloween costume from going to the Bronze? Hadn't she gone? And what was she doing here, then…why else would she be stopping by?

"So what's going on then?" Faith asked casually, trying to make it seem as if she weren't nearly as curious or confused as she really was. "I thought you were going to the Bronze with everyone… if there's no evil things out we gotta kill, then what are you doing here?"

"I did go to the Bronze," Buffy replied, "but I left, just after midnight."

She was still looking at Faith in this odd way that Faith didn't understand, couldn't interpret…all she knew was that it didn't look like Buffy. Frowning slightly, Faith shifted slightly away from her on the bed. Was it just her, or had Buffy somehow come several inches closer to her when she wasn't paying attention?

"Uh…okay…why, was it a drag there or something? And how come you're not still in costume?" Faith asked instead, still being careful not to make her voice sound as if she cared much about the answer. God…okay, Buffy had definitely shifted closer to her now, their legs were almost touching…

"I went home after I left and changed before coming over here," Buffy answered quietly, and there was a gentleness to her tone that Faith was not accustomed to hearing her direct towards her…at least, not until lately. Well, she hadn't heard it from her until lately, she still wasn't used to it-

"You, you said you don't like costumes, Faith…so, I changed… thought you might like this better," Buffy shrugged, and Faith's eyes were immediately, unwillingly drawn to the way her fragile-looking, prominent collar bones moved with the motion, exposed by her tank top. She found her eyes drifting downward to the slight shadow of Buffy's cleavage, and a thought popped into her mind before she could stop herself.

Hell yeah I like this better…

Quickly she snapped her eyes back up to Buffy's face, praying that the blonde hadn't noticed, and forced herself to focus on what had just been said to her. Which, as it was rather important and shocking, was easy enough for her to do…

Buffy had gone to the trouble to leave the Bronze early, to go home and take off all her glittery crap and tutus and hair streamers, whatever it was she had been decking herself out in, for her…she had gone out of her way to de-costume herself for her. Faith didn't know what to think about that, how to take it…but in spite of herself she could feel a slow, incredulous, but pleased warmth spread over her…

"Figured this would be less, uh, creepy for you, you know…never saw you get weirded out by me before in jeans. Well, not weirder than usual anyway. Even though I really don't see what could possibly be scary about a fairy princess, I wasn't even wearing a mask-"

"Oh, they're scary all right, B," Faith replied finally, deliberately lifting an eyebrow and making her voice amused again in an attempt to set them both at ease, to pull back into what Buffy was used to expecting out of her. "All that pink and frills and sparkles? Gag…wicked frightening."

"Hey! I'll have you know that I was very cute, I was not gagworthy!" Buffy said indignantly, crossing her arms over her chest, but Faith saw the smile in her eyes and knew that she too was only playing the role expected of her. "If you had been there you would have had the pleasure of seeing me, and you would have been impressed."

"Or I would have been gagging," Faith smirked, finally giving a genuine grin when Buffy scowled at her.

"Oh, you think? Maybe I shouldn't have changed then, Little Miss-"

"No, no, change is good, I like the changing idea," Faith said hastily- though honestly, she thought she could have handled Buffy in her fairy outfit, costumes or not. Maybe even enjoyed it… it was bound to be tight, maybe even skimpy, showing a lot of leg and cleavage-

Okay, stop right now, no more of that kind of thought…no more-

"So what are you doing here then?" Faith asked quickly. "I mean, if nothing's going down that you need me for…then what's up?"

Buffy lost her smile then, looking at Faith seriously in a way that suddenly made her uncomfortable… and yes, she was scooting forward a little more, looking her in the eye, and their knees were touching now…

"What's up is I wanted to see you, Faith," she said quietly. "Nothing else, okay? I missed you tonight… it wasn't as much fun without you there with us."

At her words, Faith stared at her, not quite able to keep the shock out of her eyes, the slow, faint pleasure and almost shy unbelief at what had just been said to her. Buffy wanted to see her… really wanted to see her, enough that she would leave the Halloween party at the Bronze and come home early just to change- just so she could come see Faith out of costume? Buffy had missed her… she had..

Faith was jerked out of her near daze when Buffy nudged her leg playfully, giving her a grin.

"Plus, I had to give you your candy, didn't I?"

Faith's head snapped up quickly at that, and her eyes dropped down to the brown shopping bag. Buffy had set down by the bed, automatically trying to see what was inside it. Buffy grinned even wider, lifting it up and holding it closer to herself teasingly for a minute.

"I got doubles of everything. I told them it was for my sick little sister. It's not a lie…you're younger than me, and you're my sister Slayer…and you do have a pretty sick mind, sometimes…"

"You got me candy?" Faith interrupted, skipping right past all that, even the barb about her sick mind, and jumping right to the point. This was too much, entirely more than she had expected…but even so, the thought of candy was enough to overpower her stunned, touched gratitude into submission for her appetite. Especially since her dinner had consisted of a stale mini bag of Fritos tonight.

"Yeah, Faith, don't know what I was thinking, but yeah, I bought you approximately three pounds of sugary chocolatey goodness guaranteed to put you into either a sugar coma or a hyperactive overdrive," Buffy said, smiling at the childlike glee that spread across Faith's face as a result.

Her candy lust made her look about six years old, and genuinely, openly happy as Buffy rarely saw her… plus it brought out the dimples that only showed up in her real, rare, and unguarded smiles…

"Wow, B…thanks…" Faith breathed as Buffy handed her the bag, and Faith promptly dumped it out onto the bed. Bubble gum, Pixie sticks, jawbreakers, and mini candy bars scattered across both their legs and laps, a few bouncing onto the floor. Faith didn't seem to notice or care; still beaming in excited near bliss, she scooped up a handful and began to unwrap and eat them as quickly as if they were popcorn.

Faith could feel Buffy watching her, could feel the blonde's amusement, but she didn't care… she wasn't about to apologize for her candy fixation. And to think that somehow she had managed to get all this without having to be anywhere near costumes or do anything at all to earn it…this was definitely a first…

No. Not going there…stop it.

"Thanks, B," she said after her third piece of candy, looking at Buffy with a slightly more subdued smile, trying to show her appreciation, to shove back the flickering thought that had just flashed in the back of her mind, even as she struggled to reason out exactly why Buffy had done this. "Really, this is…that was nice of you…"

"Glad you like it," Buffy replied warmly, and was it just Faith, or were her green eyes actually almost glowing at her? "Figured you would, seeing as I saw you eat that chocolate Easter bunny that had been under my bed for two years that one time… now that takes a true chocolate freak."

"Hey, it was fine," Faith protested, through a mouthful of mini Tootsie rolls. "Tasted fine to me. You can't be all worried about germs all the time, ya gotta live a little…"

Buffy just shook her head, grinning, then turned her head to look at the TV behind her, which was still playing.

"So what are you watching?"

Between Buffy's arrival and the candy, Faith had completely forgotten that the TV even existed. She glanced over at it quickly, reminding herself.

"Oh…uh…Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The original one."

Buffy made a disgusted face, wrinkling her nose up in a way that made her look utterly adorable…except, except not, she really didn't think that-

"Sounds charming…and somehow in your mind, that's less creepy than a fairy costume?"

She began to brush the candy off of herself and from around herself, sweeping it into a neat pile at the foot of the bed. Then, to Faith's considerable shock- enough that she actually stopped chewing midway through her eating a mini Milky way- Buffy sat herself next to Faith on the bed, facing the TV. The thing was that she didn't just sit though…she snuggled. She pressed her body up against Faith's side, laying her head on her shoulder, seeming very comfortable with this arrangement….

Faith froze, her entire body tensing up the moment she felt it come into contact with Buffy's. She didn't know what to think, what to say, what to do… all she could focus on was her suddenly galloping heartbeat, her suddenly tangled thoughts, the warmth and firm warm softness of Buffy's body so close to her. She could faintly feel Buffy's breath on her shoulder, and it made her want to shiver mightily.

Okay, Faith, calm down, chill out…this is nothing. It means nothing…so don't make it into something. This is just more of Buffy and her girly cuteness…girls do this, they cuddle with friends, and they don't think it means anything. So getting all hot thinking about how her tits are brushing your arm and her hair is on your shoulder and her breath is about to make you scream is NOT the way to go, so fuckin' stop it!

She didn't say anything, didn't react in any way at all… she just pretended casualness, slowly making her way at all… she just pretended casualness, slowly making her muscles relax as she half hoped, half dreaded that Buffy would stay so close to her.

And she did… if anything, Buffy was nestling even closer to her, moving her head gently against Faith's shoulder so that a quick heat spread low inside her, making her breath catch slightly.

Several minutes passed, and Buffy seemed to be growing heavier against her, her breathing slowing…when Faith finally dared to look down at her, she had fallen asleep. Faith found herself staring down at her, tracing the lines of her lips, the slope of her nose, with her eyes. She wanted to put her arms around Buffy and hold her even closer, to let herself sink against Buffy as much as Buffy was against her…

But mostly she wanted to kiss her… she wanted to…

No, stop it! What the hell are you thinking, what…no. Just no…

But the more she tried to turn her thoughts away from it, the more persistently they crowded her mind… and somehow she could not force herself to look away.

Before she could stop herself, or even become fully aware of what she was doing, Faith found herself leaning towards the other girl, bending her neck at an awkward angle… and her lips brushed against the sleeping blonde's. It was very soft, brief, barely more than a brush…but Faith felt a jolt course through her, as shocking as if she had touched something electrical. Only this was a much more pleasant sensation, running through her very core.

She pulled away from Buffy quickly, her breath short, her heart pounding, fully intending to just go on watching the movie as if this had never happened…but there was one problem with this plan. Buffy's head moved slightly against her shoulder… and then Buffy's eyes were open, she was pulling her head back slightly to stare at her in wordless, dazed confusion.

Faith's stomach dropped, and her mouth went suddenly dry; she could barely make herself swallow. Inwardly she was shaking, even as outwardly, her muscles tensed, becoming hard, rigid.

Oh shit, oh fucking shit…what the fuck did you do that for, you fucking loser!? She woke up, she saw you…what the FUCK…

She started to pull away hurriedly, started to roll off her bed in a hasty near panic, intending to escape…but Buffy's hand closed around her wrist, stopping her.

"Faith," she said softly, and though soft, her voice was firm, sure of itself, no hint of hesitation or confusion in it anymore. "Don't."

Faith, thrown off by her tone more than her words, turned back slowly, daring to meet her eyes. In them she saw a soft sincerity that matched her tone, sentiments she simply could not understand…but moreover, there was something further. Something that…could that really be desire?

"Stay," she said quietly, and then she was rising up on her knees, her hand going to cup Faith's cheek…

As Faith stood there, dumbfounded, speechless, she was vividly aware of Buffy stroking her cheek, wrapping her arm around her… and then their lips were meeting, more firmly than before, Buffy's tongue entering Faith's mouth.

As Faith began to kiss her back, still scarcely able to believe that any of it was real, she could taste a trace of chocolate. She wasn't sure if it was from Buffy's mouth or her own, but it didn't matter… she really didn't' care. Because underneath that she tasted Buffy, just Buffy. And as completely corny as it sounded, that was somehow even better.


Author notes: I know, I know…I didn't say why Faith hates masks and costumes. I did that deliberately mostly because I wanted this to be a happier story, a fluffy one. And I wanted you to sort of come up with your own story. It's not because I'm lazy, lol- I have my own thoughts in mind with it- but I thought that in this particular story Faith wouldn't tell Buffy anyway or even be really thinking about it much, or rather allowing herself to. And Buffy wouldn't press after the first chapter. Sorry for all those I'm sure I disappointed