One drink turned into two. Two into four. Faith narrowed her gaze at a puffy eyed, completely smashed Buffy Summers throwing shot after shot down her throat, leaving a string of empty glasses behind. The patrons of the pub ignored the whole business. It wasn't exactly an uncommon sight.
Six tables away, and mostly hidden by the crowd, Buffy's friends watched. Willow squirmed next to Faith on her high stool, sipping on a White Russian. "I don't think Buff's taking the latest break up too well, is she?"
"Duh," Kennedy said, leaning on Willow's shoulder. "She never takes them well. But I agree. This one's looking pretty bad. I don't think I've ever seen her drink so much. I mean, holy crap, she's like a fish. Where does it all go?"
"No idea." Andrew squinted at Buffy. "She's so small."
"So tiny," Xander agreed.
"And a moron," Faith added. She propped up on her elbow in a mood, not touching the glass of Jack Daniels.
Andrew clapped his hands together. "Statistically, she should be dead. Look at that table. You can't even see it because of the glasses."
"Slayer metabolism. We have to drink more to kill ourselves," Faith remarked. She saw Kennedy eyeing the JD and nudged it over.
Willow chewed on a strand of red hair. "If only Buffy would let us help her."
"Well, she won't have a choice once she's comatose," Xander pointed out, "We can issue all the friendly help she needs in the world, most of which involves throwing her bloated corpse onto her bed and berating her next morning before she swan dives into the next establishment because she never listens. Then we sort of repeat the cycle. Over and over. And over."
Faith sighed, stretching until her vertebrae clicked. "Remember the drill. Keep an eye on her. When she passes out, scoop and dump her back at the castle. Maybe we should chain her to the wall or something after until she sobers up."
"I don't get why she'd do this to herself," Andrew said. He sipped his lemonade through a straw. The crowd in the Scottish bar always became rowdier as the night dragged on. Two men were already sizing each other off near the entrance, and the bouncer could be seen trying to get between them before fists started flying.
Kennedy downed Faith's drink whilst informing the geek: "She's only doing what any normal person does when their relationship fails for the umpteenth time. Drown her sorrows."
"Excessive consumption until blood-alcohol content is forever tipped in favour of alcohol is not normal," Xander disagreed.
"Should we try approaching her?" Andrew looked apprehensive as he said it.
"N-no." Willow placed a hand on Andrew's chest. "Leave her. She'll hospitalise you again. And she won't speak to me for a month if I interfere. Just let her… drink it out."
"So. Bets in order?" Kennedy raised a notepad and pen, grinning mischievously.
"Five dollah she makes it to the door before passing out," Xander said immediately.
Kennedy rolled her eyes. "It's pounds, or quid, here. Get into the right country already."
"Five dollah she doesn't make it off the table!" Andrew said.
"Five pounds she doesn't pass out until the bathroom." Kennedy scribbled furiously down on the pad. "And it's dollar, not dollah, dorkoids."
"You wouldn't understand," Xander shook his head.
Andrew nodded. "Because you're a girl. And know nothing about geek culture. Nothing!"
"I don't give a fuck about geek culture. And stop touching me, I don't want your crazy catching."
"Seconded," Faith drawled. "Hear either of you speaking nerd again, I'll punch you both. In the face. Hard."
Andrew let out a terrified squeal. Xander gulped. "My lips are one hundred percent authentically packaged and sealed."
Faith blotted out the babble from her table companions, instead focusing on the saturated blond slayer five tables off. Although all of them joked about it, they all hated what Buffy did to herself. It was a reoccurring pattern, unfortunately. Ever since Satsu, or Satsuma, or whatever the hell she was called, Buffy plummeted off the deep end, down the fast track road to ruin. She tried to get into relationships, only to have them fail one after the other. Her way of coping involved getting wasted to the point of being sick, then screaming at her friends who tried their best to help her through each break-up. Afterwards she would be all apologetic to them, be alright for a couple of weeks, before looping into the next personal disaster.
Faith spotted a man walking in through the doors, and curled her hands into fists. It just happened to be Buffy's ex, scanning the crowd with a relaxed, untroubled air.
The others around the table spotted him too, falling into a predatory hush.
"So," Xander stage whispered. "Who wants to beat him up?"
Kennedy and Faith stood up at the same time. They glared at each other.
"Hell, no, this one's mine."
"No, Ken. You got Bitchsu and Man Meat two, three and five. I'm having this one."
"Yeah, that was like, four people. You've done like, hundreds of Buffy rejects. I have claim."
"Ya gonna fight me for it?" Faith adopted an aggressive stance.
Willow lowered her head into her arms, letting out an exasperated sigh. "Can't you both go, if you must be driven to pointless violence?"
"They both have more manly hormones than Andrew," Xander observed. "It's a little scary."
"That's not hard, Xander. Even I have more testosterone than Andrew." Willow took another sip of her drink, reaching the bottom of the glass. "So are you butches going to pair up for the lynching?"
Faith and Kennedy held their fists out to each other, ignoring Willow's extremely stupid suggestion.
"Count of three. One… two… three. Fuck!"
"Paper trumps rock!" Kennedy hooted. "Hell to the yeah."
"Best of three? C'mon, Ken."
"Nuh uh. Mine." Kennedy dismissed Faith, hurtling over to the Buffy reject.
"And here comes the drama…" Willow sank her head lower, again. "I am withholding sex from her forever for this."
Xander tapped her on the shoulder. "Bigger fish to fry, Wills. We have movement."
Faith snapped her attention back to Buffy, who levered herself upright from the glass covered table, swaying a little on the spot. Her eyes appeared bloodshot under the poor lighting, with the shadows underneath smearing her face like badly applied makeup. She rolled her head around in a disjointed sort of way before swaying towards the bathroom. Her advance was punctuated by irritated patrons whose glasses she ended up knocking over or bumping into by accident.
"She made it away from the table." Andrew slurped on his lemonade.
"Meaning your bet is off. Just me and Ken for the home stretch. Booya." Xander clapped his hands together, grinning like a pirate. The eye patch helped.
Faith left the table, following close behind Buffy. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Kennedy giving Man-Meat-Insert-Random-Number a dressing down. To be more precise, she had him by the scruff of the neck and against the wall whilst members of the public looked on. The bouncers closed in on her.
Faith elbowed past the human obstacles, registering and vaguely recognising the sound of an Iron Maiden track playing on the speakers, but not recalling the name. She slipped quietly into the bathroom behind Buffy, locating the stall the blonde had locked herself in. Faith quietly occupied the one next in line, listening and waiting. Either Buffy needed to pee, vomit, or black out. Sometimes she did all three.
A few minutes later, Faith broke open Buffy's stall door to kneel in front of the unconscious slayer.
"Oh, B. Why do you do this to yourself…" Faith whispered. She gently held the blonde's face, waiting for any signs that she might come out of her alcohol-induced coma. It didn't look very likely. The blonde's head lolled, her eyes unfocused. Flinging Buffy over her shoulder, Faith entered back into the thrum of life in the bar, catching Willow's sad glance.
"She's been retrieved, Time to mosey out," Xander sighed. He and Willow and Andrew made their way over. Kennedy, Faith assumed, had been chucked out for public disorder, and would no doubt come whining to her quarters later when Willow enforced the bedroom ban.
The journey back to the castle was subdued, at best. Faith tucked Buffy into bed after hauling her up several flights of stairs. It hurt to watch Buffy's degeneration each time a relationship failed. For a few weeks at a time, when she got herself a new lover, she'd walk around the castle with a spring in her step, gushing non-stop about how wonderful so-and-so was, and how the next relationship promised to be different from all the others. Then for whatever number of reasons, it would end. Buffy felt convinced she was doomed in her love life. Everyone ended up dying, leaving her, or just unable to be with her.
Faith shared the same bad luck, but in her case, she had a far nastier history of using people. Buffy sought relationships. Faith screwed people, then kicked them out the door. Being in an actual relationship was an alien concept. Sure, Robin Wood tried it on with her, once. Decent guy. But Faith didn't do relationships.
She sat by Buffy's bedside, stroking the ragged blond tresses of her friend. The slayer tingles rippled through her as they always did in Buffy's proximity, like a constant reminder she wasn't really alone. The connection was part of the reason both of them eventually tossed away their sordid past and learned to get along with each other. In the past few months, Faith did feel as though she'd been finally let into the inner circle. Buffy talked to her more, opened up to her more, and actually seemed to enjoy Faith's company. The other scoobs came with the package.
She looked at Buffy's face now, feeling the familiar tightening in her chest.
"You're such a blonde, B." Faith squeezed Buffy's hand briefly. "I keep telling you, ain't nothing good going to come out of chasing a relationship, just cause you're scared to be alone." She let go, yawning and heading out. She turned back once, examining Buffy's limp form. Buffy stirred restlessly before curling up. Faith exited.
"So. I have a plan. A cunning plan." Willow reclined on one of the common room chairs as Kennedy, Xander and Andrew waited patiently for her to continue. "One that I think we can all agree, Is a stroke of genius. It's to do with Faith, and Buffy. Admittedly it's still in progress."
"Hear, hear!" Andrew piped up. "I've written tons of fan fiction on them. It's about time we do something."
"You write fan fiction?" Xander stared at Andrew. "You are below contempt. I disclaim all ties of friendship with you. Also, can I read it?"
"Is this lesbian fan fiction?" Kennedy asked, equally interested. "Is there lots of sex?"
Andrew squeaked and turned red. "N-no. I write their love as pure."
"Then you're doing it wrong."
"Guys, gals," Willow waved, seizing attention back to herself. "I'm glad to see y'all being supportive of our head slayers, but the time is nigh. We have to do something about them. I'm fed up of Buffy constantly chasing after people who will reject her. I'm fed up of Faith looking like a whipped dog every time Buffy gets a new partner. It's obvious those two have a strong attraction for each other. Hello, tension!"
"Oh, God! The tension," Kennedy agreed.
Xander chuckled. "That's what we have bunks for."
"Xander? Eww. Anyway, they get on well; at least, when Buffy's sober. I've actually considered using magic on them, like that time when I accidentally made Spike and Buffy marry each other and Giles go blind… but that would be cheating."
"And the fact we're sitting here conspiring about how to get them together isn't cheating?" Kennedy looked amused.
"Well, we should force them together, but not in that way," Willow batted her eyelashes innocently. "Make it more… natural, per say."
Kennedy tapped the side of her armchair. "Why not? Just pretend one of the novice witches slipped or something, and have them 'marry.' It could work. It already has," she reminded them.
Xander nodded enthusiastically. "As much as the image highly amuses me, especially when thinking of Giles' reaction, we should probably steer clear of magic."
"I suppose…" Willow sounded doubtful.
"It shouldn't be magically induced like that," Andrew insisted to Kennedy, hunching up into a ball on his armchair. "It should be pure."
Kennedy snorted. "Will you shut up about the pure crap?"
"No! They should have a dire situation where one heroically rescues the other, and then they start growing attached, but don't want to admit it, but dream about each other at night until they can't take it anymore and one of them steals into the other's room and…" Andrew trailed off, hiccupping. "Spoilers!"
"That's what you write? Really?"
"Like you could write better," Andrew shot back, glaring daggers at Xander.
"Actually, that's not a bad idea," Willow mused, chewing on her lip. Everyone looked at her.
"Explain," Kennedy demanded.
Willow did. "It's a simple spell, really." She pinched her thumb and forefinger together. "In fact, we have all the ingredients at hand."
Xander's mouth hung in an o. "Uh, Will, hold on a sec. We're talking definite magic?"
"I thought we agreed to not involve magic because of all our traumatising teenage escapades?"
"Only the direct stuff. This will be perfectly indirect. Discreet."
"Perfectly natural encouraged mystical tendencies. Right, Will, I love you and everything, but I have objections to this. Strong, reasonable objections. Most of them involving experiences from high school and college and all of them involving you."
"That was Sunnydale!" Willow protested, offended. "And I was young and inexperienced. I know exactly what I'm doing now."
"It's not like she can destroy the world with a single spell, I guess," Andrew said. Everyone stared at him. "Well, she probably could. And nearly did. Eh, I know what I mean!"
Kennedy's eyebrows shot up "Whoa, guys. What spell? What part of the conversation did I just miss?"
"The spell which Will is yet to explain to us, but in which I vote, nay! All those in favour of the nay..." Xander raised his arm.
"Dreams." Willow glared at Xander.
"Dreams?" Kennedy echoed.
"Yes. I can cook them up some girl on girl scenarios. We could start them off gradual and work it up into some real steamy stuff."
Silence reigned in the common room.
"Could you influence the dreams?" Kennedy asked.
"We could, theoretically, yes."
An evil smirk crept onto Kennedy's face. "Awesome."
Xander was the next to speak. "You're serious? You could seriously do that?"
"Yes, Xander," Willow confirmed. "I could make them dream about each other."
Xander blinked. "Mind. Going somewhere."
"This is EXACTLY like my fan fiction!" Andrew squealed, rapidly slapping his knees.
Kennedy scoffed. "Man, you're even more gay then I thought."
"Do you post these fictions on a site…?" Xander shook his head, as though trying to buck whatever images he suffered out of his brain. "Never mind. Not the point. The point is, and I will get to this point, once I remember or think up what it should be…"
"The point, Xander, is we can solve this. It's perfect." Willow got up, beaming. "I bet I could start working on the ingredients right away."
"And that is so not what I was thinking. Wills. Magic. Bad. Uber bad. We can't just mess with people like you did back…" Xander trailed off. Willow had chosen that moment to teleport out of sight.
The others glanced at each other.
"S-she's going off to do the plan. This is a good plan, right?" Andrew sounded a little less convinced as he did a minute ago.
Xander rested his face between his palms. "I need to finish off that magic proof panic room. Now."
Sunlight hit Faith in the face like a sledgehammer. Groaning, she rolled out of bed, taking half the covers along as well. It took several moments before she mustered up enough energy to snap the blinds shut and crawl back into the blankets. She mooched out of the room after failing to get back to sleep, electing instead to grab food from the kitchens before the rush hour began. Along the way Faith encountered a very suspicious Andrew, who squeaked and ducked out of sight when she approached. She paused. If Andrew was here in the East Wing, then so was Xander. You never saw one without the other. Ever. She tolerated Xander better than Andrew.
"Xan. Get out here. Now."
Xander stumbled out one of the dormitories. The door clicked shut behind him.
"Traitor!" He pounded on the door with his fist, before turning and smiling nervously at Faith. "So, um. Hi, Faith! Fancy seeing you up at this time. In the morning. What an amazing coincidence."
"Do I wanna know why you two are here and seriously pissing me off?" She advanced closer, the hangover headache throbbing insistently.
"A warning!" Xander blurted, raising his arms in a feeble attempt at self defence. If Faith wanted to, she could have sent him flying. "I come bearing warnings!"
"You got two seconds. Explain."
Xander's speech tumbled out in a chaotic rush. "You need to stop Willow - she's about to cast a dream spell on you."
Faith rubbed her eyes in a bid to tackle her irritation and sudden apprehension. "Why?"
The door behind Xander creaked open a fraction. Andrew peeked out. "She wants to help you find true love. Like in the fan fictions I write."
"Which you encouraged!" Xander exclaimed. The door shut again. "So, uh. Just thought I should warn you. And if you don't beat me against the wall bloody, I want to request your help in finishing the panic room. The one I haven't started yet."
"This is too early in the morning," Faith groaned, stumbling past Xander and making way down the stairwell. Xander scuttled after her, incredulous at the lack of violence.
"Hello. Faith? Willow's going to cast a spell on you. Are you not concerned?"
"Super. Which is why I'm gonna find her right now and kill her."
"Kill who?" A new voice drifted into the fray, coming from the direction of the common room. Light streaked through stained glass windows, colouring the stone floors in various shifting patterns.
"Your best friend, B," Faith answered, avoiding tripping up on the bunched rug underneath. A jolt of surprise went through her at seeing Buffy there, early in the morning. What reason would Buffy have to get up and make her way all across the castle to the eastern common room? The elder Slayer should still be throwing up last nights alcohol contents in her chambers, or be too hung-over to function.
Instead, Buffy Summers lounged on an armchair, sipping from a glass of water. She put the glass down on the side table, eyeing the petrified Xander hovering just behind Faith.
"Why does Faith want to kill my best friend?"
Willow added an extra ingredient into the cauldron. Kennedy loitered anxiously next to her as the liquid frothed green. They were alone in the dungeon laboratories.
"Are you sure about this, baby? Xander did seem to be against it."
Willow glanced at the textbook in her left hand, selecting the next ingredient. "My magic is good, Ken. A new spell is always a little bit icky to get right, but this is just a variation of something I've done before, so don't worry…" She sprinkled a dark powder in and stirred the cauldron with a ladle.
"But why resort to this? To magic?"
"Because everything else has failed." The stirring became aggressive. "And I'm fed up."
"So you decide to kill everyone with magic. Great plan."
Willow sighed, imploring to her girlfriend. "Don't you want to see her happy, Ken? Happy, rather than all mopey for another six years because she sucks at relationships? Do we want another last night to happen? Because I don't. And it happens way too much, and she whines way too much, and she and Faith are so incredibly blind it's exhausting, and desperate times call for desperate measures, and - oh!" Willow yelped as the cauldron flared gas. Liquid seeped over the sides, bubbling furiously. Willow magically adjusted the heat to a low simmer.
"Willow…" Kennedy cautioned.
"It's nothing! Nothing important. Just a tiny hiccup."
The alarm went off. It screeched for a few seconds until Willow waved it silent. Kennedy's jaw hung slack.
"Uh, Willow. That was the gas alarm. The one that goes off when dangerous mystical substances are burning. You know, that one?"
Willow tossed more ingredients in, creating a huge toxic smog cloud. "It's under control!"
"Like hell it is. Turn it off. Now! I told you it would go wrong!" Kennedy coughed as smoke assaulted her lungs. "T-turn it off…"
Willow continued valiantly battling her botched experiment, even as strings of gas slipped through the main ventilation shafts.
"Awh, phooey," Were her last words, before slumping unconscious beside Kennedy.
Faith and Buffy paced alongside each other.
"So. Morning," Faith said, terse. She didn't want to dwell on Buffy for too long. Or of the mess she scooped up last night. As far as a girl who suffered from congenital relationship failure and potential jaundice acted when communicating to an ex-con with emotional baggage the height of mount Everest went, they did alright. They spoke. They hung out. Sometimes. Mostly, Faith had taken it onto herself to be the good Samaritan, baling out Slayers in tough spots. It didn't help that her current in-need Slayer always put herself back in said tough spot within a matter of weeks from each recovery.
"Morning," Buffy replied. She offered Faith a quick glance. "Thanks for last night."
"Whatever. How's the head?" Saying this reminded Faith of her own raging headache, and of the two nerds skulking behind them, apparently terrified of exposing Willow to Slayer-sized wrath.
"Party in my head. Cymbals. Clashing. Noise. And then I hear about Willow concocting a love spell for me."
"I'm pretty sure they said it was for me," Faith disagreed. They left the common room. The corridor in front stretched on, sidelined by gothic pictures and tapestries embroidered and tasselled in vibrant hues. It felt obnoxiously grand and opulent, making Faith wish sometimes she was back in her prison cell. Simple, utilitarian, and un-crowded with hormonal teenage Slayers.
"No. Andrew said me." Buffy rubbed an eye, slowing stride. "Which is it?" She directed the question to Xander and Andrew.
"W-w-which is what is it?" Andrew's teeth chattered. Xander smiled, frightened.
"What ya think, nerds?" Faith gestured between herself and Buffy. "The love spell. Who is it for?"
"Buffy," Andrew said, at the same time as Xander blurted: "Faith."
They looked at each other. Then they switched the names, saying those at the same time instead. Realising their double blunder, they fell into heavy, guilty silence.
"So… both of us?" Buffy hissed, her eyes deadly slits.
Xander scratched the back of his neck, letting out a nervous laugh. "Yeah. Kind of.. Which is why we tell you. Out of the goodness of our hearts."
"Oh, you little -" Faith snarled, stopped by Buffy before she converted her thoughts into painful action. "They're messing with our lives, B!"
"I know, and it's…" Buffy hesitated, taking her hand from Faith's shoulder. "Wait. A love spell for each of us, or… for us?" Buffy pointed at Faith and herself.
For us? Panic engulfed Faith.
The elongated silence was all Buffy needed. "My God. We have to find her. We have to find her and stop it now." Buffy stormed ahead, dragging Faith with her. "Before she gays us up."
The panic escalated into terror. The last thing Faith wanted, was her secret crush revealed in the public eye. And then stomped on.
They hurried down the corridor. Grey gas wafted out of the ventilation grates. All the while Faith fed her insecurities, letting them roll away like an unmanned train. What had she been doing all these months, regarding Buffy Summers?
Helping her. Hoping. Hoping for what? Faith reined in the plethora of emotions as best as she was able. Tugging her hand out of Buffy's grip, she regained gait, making way to the dungeon labs.
She made a tentative stab at conversation. "I assume you don't want me hurting Red?"
"Please. Best friends aren't easily replaced," Buffy growled. She staggered, triggering a catch reflex from Faith. The brunette propped her upright, but ended up squatting shortly after, clutching her own head in her hands.
"Oh… this don't feel good…" Faith muttered. She checked on Andrew and Xander. Xander was dragging a comatose Andrew along the floor in a pathetic bid to haul him on his feet. Xander soon gave up the effort and slumped, closing his eyes. The grey gas drifted around them like homing beacons. "Buffy," Faith whispered. "Look. Behind us."
Buffy crouched, struggling to keep her eyes open as she looked, then noticed gas around them as well. "We're too late," she realised, making the connection. "Faith. The spell. I think Will may have…"
She crumpled, unconscious. Faith blinked, fighting to stay awake. Her awareness siphoned out fast. Darkness roared in her brain. Faith's lungs burned. Her eyes fluttered shut.
The next thing she knew was Buffy shaking her by the shoulders. Everything rattled, not helped by Buffy's violent methods.
"I swear, Faith, if you're dead, I will kill you. Wake… up…!"
"Fucking hell!" Faith seized the blonde by the wrists, stilling her actions. "I'm awake." She glanced around the dark corridor. Moonlight shafted through the windows. "How long was I out for?"
Buffy prised her wrists gently out of Faith's grasp, answering with a shrug. "I only woke up a couple of minutes ago. It was light before we…?"
"Yeah. It was morning." Faith stood up. "Huh. Hangover's gone."
"So is Andrew and Xan." Buffy licked her lips, concerned. "Something's weird."
"The spell?" A shiver hit Faith as she said it. A spell designed to target the both of them romantically, according to the nerds.
"Maybe." Buffy sounded doubtful. "This is definitely not normal, though." She pointed to the rain pattering on the windows. It ran upwards.
A question occurred to Faith. "Why were you in the East common room this morning?"
"I wanted to talk to you," Buffy replied quickly. "Just some thanks for the stuff last night."
"Right." More questions popped to mind. Faith halted them before they left her mouth.
"I have to ask," Buffy said, appearing pained as she fidgeted with her sleeve cuffs," Why do you think they're trying to pair us up?"
Faith paced slowly down the corridor, not liking how quiet it was. Her feet padded the stone floor, seeping cold into her bones. Since when had she been barefoot?
"We've been through this, B," she responded, hooking her thumbs into the loops on her jeans. "They don't like what goes on with you. The flings, the arguments, the drinking, the break-ups. Bullshit like that." Faith stopped, getting worked up in spite of herself.
Buffy was silent a moment, mouth ajar. "Beat around the bush, why don't you?"
"Someone has to. The others are afraid of hurting you or whatever. Might as well be me playing devil's advocate. Since we got such an awesome history and all."
Buffy scoffed. Faith steeled herself bit by bit, sensing she trod on dangerous ground. If they launched into an full blown argument - which inevitably they always did - it was always about who could inflict the most pain. Physical and emotional. After what seemed like years of non-response, Faith glared around the empty corridor. "Where the hell is everyone?"
Buffy shrugged, deciding then to pick up on the former conversation. "It must be their idea of a joke. Hooking us up, or trying. You know: 'Buffy Summers is so hopeless in her love life, why don't we get her with Faith? They've only tried to kill each other a few times, they don't really get on or actually like each other, but hey!' Yay." She emphasised the last word by punching the air.
Sharp pangs needled Faith's heart. She suppressed the feelings with a snarl. "Stop whining about your stupid life. It's crap. Get over it."
"Yes, boss," Buffy drawled, sarcastic.
Thoroughly annoyed, Faith ignored Buffy and reached the end of the corridor. It seemed, oddly, to pan out at a much longer distance than her eyes advertised. Disorientated, Faith stared down the new length of corridor. This one snaked far and dipped, dividing into tributaries at the end. She thought she saw shadows moving on the walls. Wariness joined the irritation. Faith folded her arms, examining this new problem.
"That's not part of the castle," Buffy observed.
"You think?" Faith snapped, shifting from one leg to the other in unease.
"Happy, aren't you?" Buffy mirrored Faith's slouch. "Shall we talk about your love life, then? Since you dissected mine so nicely. How about the one night stands. You don't even attempt a relationship, do you? You just fuck them and kick them out when you're done. How's that working out?"
"Like a dream," Faith gritted, seriously considering hurting her companion. Buffy always found the sore spots. Faith paused. "Like a dream…"
Buffy caught on, dropping the charade. "Oh! Right. We're asleep. And this is the dream part of the spell. Because they said Willow was planning to do this as dreams."
"More like nightmares," Buffy muttered.
"Must be if I'm with you," Faith shot back, brimming with obscure satisfaction at the flashing anger on Buffy's face. Faith didn't know if she was stupid or suicidal in goading the elder Slayer, but she put up with enough of Buffy's crap each day to go for it.
Buffy balled her hands and sighed in disgust. "Let's just wake up before we kill each other."
"Fine by me."
Glaring, they walked in abrupt silence. Their emotions simmered underneath, with the prevalent one in Faith's case being frustration. If only she could keep her mouth shut. If only Buffy didn't possess the inmate talent to attack soft spots. If only…
They reached the dip. Only, instead of it being an actual dip, it resembled something more along the lines of a giant pitfall trap. Wooden stakes lined the bottom. Snakes slithered in the gaps. The whole thing was about ten meters long, with no chance of passing along the sides.
"Well," Buffy said. "This is interesting. Did Kansas have spike pits?"
She waited expectantly for Faith to add something. Rhythmic pounding echoed from behind. Turning around, Buffy gasped in surprise when Faith blurred past, grimacing as she sprang above the pit. The brunette curled up and sliced empty space, dark hair fanning out in the turbulence. She landed ungracefully on the other side, feet thudding millimetres from the drop, grunted from the impact and staggered over the floor. When all movement halted, she met Buffy's gaze, grinning exultantly.
"Looks like I did it. Your turn." She sat back to watch, massaging her right ankle.
Not one to pass up a challenge, Buffy scowled. "If you can do it…" Her scowl turned into doubtful anxiety. "I didn't even see the snakes down there…"
Under Faith's amused scrutiny, Buffy steeled and backed off. She went a long way from the pit, chewing nervously on her bottom lip.
"Ain't got all day!" Faith called, pretending to yawn. In reality, adrenalin fuelled her muscles, keeping her wide awake and alert. A ten meter gap was tricky, even for a Slayer. The rush of success flooded her veins. When Buffy refused to move, Faith stopped massaging her ankle and edged closer, holding out a hand. The gesture of unspoken support seemed to motivate Buffy. The elder Slayer took short, deep breaths, breaking into a sprint. She sped past the shadowy walls like a bullet. Faith watched, admiring the speed the blonde whipped up. Buffy gave a primal yell as she leapt the pit, but the takeoff was early, imperfect. Faith tensed as Buffy hurtled across the air.
It turned out Buffy required no assistance. She crashed into Faith like a freight train and they zipped along the stone floor, tumbling into an ungainly heap. Completely winded, Faith lay stunned, Buffy sprawled on top.
Buffy attempted to get up, but collapsed, starting to giggle. Between bursts of shaky breath she got out: "You totally weren't expecting me to do that, were you?"
"N-no," Faith croaked. She sucked in air, which hurt. Buffy was laughing on top of her. That hurt, too. Seeing the blonde's delighted and hysterical face prevented Faith mustering up the energy to stay mad, though. She grinned, popping out the dimples, lightly punching the elder Slayer. "Don't see what's so funny. I can't breathe."
Buffy rested her head on Faith's chest, giggling uncontrollably, possibly choking. Part of it probably came from adrenalin, induced by the sprint and leap. Faith gave up trying to shove Buffy off and laughed as well. "I feel like an idiot. Just waiting there to catch you," she said, wiping her eyes.
"Don't be. You did a good job. You broke my fall," Buffy said.
This didn't help with the laughing problem. Their mirth intensified. Faith couldn't believe how much she was laughing. She hadn't felt like this in a long time. It hurt her sides. Her ribs ached from the Buffy-sized assault.
But for some reason, she just couldn't stop.
Xander hid behind a gargoyle as Giles flitted past. Andrew bit his nails, eyes bulging in horror at the sight which befell them.
Giles, the stuffy librarian, who always wore tweed and glasses and pattered around the castle on a daily basis, looked different.
Alarmingly different. Different in the way that made you want to scrub out your eyes with bleach. Black mascara smudged the librarian's eyelids. He pursed red painted lips, and scratched at a studded collar. He walked confidently in stilettos with five inch heels. He wore fishnet tights, a black thong, and a latex corset. He also cracked a whip in one gloved hand.
"Holy hell…" Xander hissed, unable to tear his attention away from the sight.
"Where are you, boys?" Giles called, flicking a smouldering gaze about the cobwebbed hallway. Suits of dusty armour stood in line with twisted gargoyles. He lashed the whip again. "I promise this won't hurt."
"Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God, oh my God," Andrew chanted under his breath, rocking back and forth in the trauma position. Xander wanted to do the exact same thing, but kept a grip on his swimming reality.
"Why is this happening to us?" Xander risked moving and crouching behind another gargoyle, following Giles for longer. Dread filled him at the thought of discovery from the converted librarian. "It's like some twisted, sick nightmare. Like that awful thing Faith watches. The Rocky Horror Show." He shuddered.
"It's quite good, actually," Andrew piped up. "They show it in the late night cinemas here all the time." He clapped a hand over his mouth when realising how loud he spoke. Xander held his breath when Giles clacked to a halt.
"I can hear you, children," the librarian-turned-transvestite clucked. He twitched the whip. "There are many surprises in store for you. All of them quite pleasurable, I must say." Giles trot out a smile upon spotting Xander. "There you are."
Their flimsy cover blown, Xander bolted. Andrew scrabbled out of his foetal position to follow. Giles thundered after them, stilettos reverberating off the floor like cannon fire. Andrew lunged and grabbed Xander by the wrist, jerking them both out of balance. They staggered up the stairs boosted by the banister, completely terrified of the idea of Giles catching up.
"If I ever wake up," Xander panted, dragging his friend around the curve, "I am going to need so much therapy. And possibly have my remaining eye burnt out. Willow!" He bellowed the name, hoping desperately the witch would somehow hear. "Willow!"
Something creaked. One of the numerous suits of armour moved a gauntlet, reaching for a tapered broadsword. A gargoyle shuffled as they passed. Another tilted an ugly head.
Giles made it to the top of the stairs, puffing as he wiped sweat from his brow. "You two have been very, very, naughty boys. I'm afraid I'll have to punish you."
A gargoyle lumbered in front, blocking Xander and Andrew's escape route. All the other inanimate statues and armour sets began to stir into life.
"This is so very not of the good," Xander whimpered.
Green light illuminated the enclosed room.
"I owe you the biggest I-told-you-so, ever." Kennedy glared at her girlfriend. Both girls were trapped in the laboratory, right at the source of the botched experiment. Every exit had been mystically sealed, and Willow's teleport didn't function properly. Also, they were manacled to the wall, slumped next to each other. Just to make things better.
"You do," Willow agreed, mournful. She nestled into Kennedy's shoulder, letting out a soft sigh. "I'm sorry. It shouldn't have backfired like that."
"Idiot." Kennedy stroked the redhead's hair. "So. What's the next instalment for us, then?"
"Not too much, I hope." Willow rattled one of the manacles, rueful. The cauldron containing the dream recipe belched out a last bubble of gas. "The main brunt of the spell will affect Buffy and Faith. Anyone else is just an innocent and unfortunate bystander."
"How did you design the spell, exactly?" Kennedy asked, careful. At this, Willow twitched her lips.
"The spell will last for a few hours. That's one teeny eeny bit of good news to share, I guess. As long as Buffy and Faith's imaginations don't kill us, or our ones, or anyone else caught in the spell, we should all wake up, and soon. But not before something… happens."
"Yeah?" Kennedy shared the smirk. "Details."
"It's an, um, epiphany on their part. You know. Buffy and Faith realising that their ways have been wrong and they need to change. It won't necessarily transfer to the real world, but it's a start in the right direction. I hope."
"Could the epiphany be a really graphic sex scene?" Kennedy's eyes glinted in pure mischief.
Willow went beetroot red. "Um… maybe?"
"Good enough." Kennedy settled against the wall more comfortably. "Let's hope we don't frigging die, then."
Buffy and Faith examined the pitfall trap, sitting right on the edge.
"I'm sorry," Buffy offered.
Faith answered with a grunt, not bothering to elaborate. If Buffy expected something more, she wasn't getting it.
"Sorry about what I said, earlier," Buffy continued, "Words just come out of my mouth, and they can be amazingly difficult to stop. It's like vomit. Of the word kind."
"Mm." Faith kicked the back of her heels against the pit walls. She wriggled her bare toes for good measure.
"We are friends, I mean. Not people who don't like each other. I am right, right? About the friend thing. We're friends, right?"
The uncertainty in Buffy's voice rekindled Faith's previous annoyances. "What do you think?"
Buffy stared down the pit, fixated on a python curling amongst the stakes. "I hope so."
Faith scoffed, levering herself upright. "Friends help each other, B. They let friends help them. Since when have you helped me, or let anyone else help you?" She walked away, reaching the ten diverging paths that indicated their next obstacle. Each one rapidly disappeared into darkness, making it impossible to gauge what lay in their directions. They felt like Faith's life. All the options available in her near future, every single one resembled something like this. Walking blind in the dark. The annoyance vanished, as though sucked out by an invisible force.
"I could say the same for you," Buffy pointed out, joining Faith. She wrapped one arm under her chest, resting the other on top to touch her chin. "You're so close mouthed, it's frustrating. I swear I've gotten more out of you in the last ten minutes than I have in the last two years." She smiled wryly, grimly. "At least we know what my problems are. I drink on them enough. You're the big mystery here. So speak."
A nagging suspicion rankled Faith. "Right. Spill all my deep and dark secrets? Have some mushy heart-to-heart, some crying, some girly hugging, all that?"
"Uh… yeah? Why not?" Buffy shrugged. "Starting with your favourite colour would be nice."
"You don't get it, do you?" Faith growled. The shadows on the walls coalesced, becoming thicker. "We're in a spell. A love spell. Right now."
"So, anything we say can't be trusted. It could be brought on by the spell. Anything we say isn't real." The realisation of the last statement wounded Faith more than she anticipated. Whatever scenarios she had ran through in the past involving Buffy, none of them had their judgement impaired by magic. Liquor, maybe. But not magic. "It's all fake."
Buffy pondered Faith's words for a while. "True," she conceded. "For all I know, you're not actually here. You're just some Faith in my head, talking. And saying really annoying things when I'm trying to use this as a great opportunity to find out stuff."
"Oh, you're definitely not fake," Faith muttered, rubbing the spot above her left eye.
"Headache, huh?" Buffy smiled winsomely. "It's fake, don't worry about it."
"Bitch." Faith shot Buffy a filthy look. "That's not what I meant. I'm saying we can't trust anything either of us says or does."
"Consider this." Buffy waved a hand magnanimously in the air. "Maybe nothing we say or do is fake. Maybe the spell is like alcohol. Gives us liquid courage, makes us say things we normally wouldn't."
"Quit it with your stupid fake thing already. Lets say you're the real Faith, and I'm the real Buffy. We both know this is a dream. We both know we're probably under some weird mystical influenza. Influence. Why did I say influenza…? Anyway, point is, why don't we make something of it?"
"What do you mean?" Faith said, curiosity piqued. Buffy's words stirred something inside of her. She didn't dwell on the feeling long, instead working through Buffy's speech.
"I'm saying, uh…" Conflicting expressions rose on Buffy's face. "Unite against a common foe? Take the time to talk to each other and stuff."
"So you're not worried about us gaying up? 'Cause I seem to recall you shouting something 'bout that earlier."
"Yeah, about that…" A faint blush crept on Buffy's cheeks. "I was thinking it was pretty obvious we didn't gay up. I mean, talking to you doesn't feel any different. Well, I'm sober, I guess, but I honestly don't see anything… weird. You're still a bitch, I'm still a bitch. All is normal."
The feeling inside Faith grew. She couldn't shake off the displacement completely, though. Doubt tapped in her brain like a drum. Nothing is true. Nothing is real. You can't trust anything she says. "Maybe the spell didn't work, then."
"Maybe. Do you think this is all different? The way we talk?"
"Yeah. 'Cause we're actually talking." Faith sighed inwardly at her comment. "I don't know. Guess I'm still waiting for the sucker punch."
Buffy laughed. "Want one? I'd be more than happy to." She made a fist.
"That's more like it." Faith grinned, wide enough for her dimples to show.
"Violence makes Jack and Jill happy Slayers," Buffy deadpanned, shaking her head in exasperated amusement. "Whatever you think about this, I plan to stick with my theory that nothing has changed. Majorly, anyway."
"Fine," Buffy repeated. "Lets choose one of these paths, already."
What Faith failed to add onto her fine statement, was: I hope you're right, B. More than anything, she craved Buffy's words about their interactions as correct. And because of that, Faith couldn't trust it. Not really. Anything she wanted to hear immediately got shunted onto her growing pile of suspicions on everything; but for the sake of non-argument, she kept quiet.
Also, she needed to wake up as soon as possible. It maddened her how the dream blurred reality. Willow clearly planned on wasting her last days on earth by antagonising Faith. The ironclad certainty of Awake and Sober Buffy conversations was preferable to this dangerous emotional road asleep. Even if it meant dealing with her unrequited crush and watching Buffy ride the same carousal of drink, sex and ruin over and over.
They lost sight of each other fast, swallowed up by fathomless darkness. It made Faith think of caves, where no light penetrated. Or the stomach of a hungry beast.
"Faith. Give me your hand. Or shoulder. Something I can touch."
Faith felt tempted to mention their Slayer connection. How they didn't need any physical contact when they sensed each other's presence through it. Why bother with holding hands like some scared little girl? Instead she reached out, fumbling until her fingertips brushed Buffy's cheek. Quickly, the blonde latched on with her left hand, squeezing tight reassurance.
"Thanks." Her relief was palpable. Faith continued moving, spare hand patting the wall as guidance. Without anything else to distract, Faith's attention unfortunately honed in on the scent and touch of Buffy Summers.
Their hands clasped, imprisoned by each other's thumbs. Sweat built up, making their grips clammy, but not enough to let go. As for the smell… Faith's enhanced senses picked up all sorts of things.
Strawberry shampoo, for one. The clothes Buffy wore carried a flowery scent, like lavender or some other herb. Possibly the washing powder Buffy used. Faith inhaled deeper. It came out a gasp.
"Something up?" Buffy murmured.
"Your shampoo. It's really strong," Faith managed, covering up her blunder with the first excuse she thought of. It didn't stem far from the truth. At all. "It's distracting."
"Well," Buffy countered, "You smell like… spice pots. Do you season your hair with them or something?"
Faith slapped her left hand against the wall, stopping when it groped empty air. She steered Buffy in the new direction. "Yeah? You'd think I'd smell of leather."
"Well, you're not wearing any, so you can't." Buffy paused, thoughtful. "In fact, you've not been wearing leather a while. It's always jeans, boots, a shirt. Sometimes combat pants, like you're enlisting for the army. Very little makeup, too."
The astute observation surprised Faith. As if just realising the fact as well, Buffy loosened her grip with Faith. "Not that I've been, you know, noticing."
When the path began slanting upwards, Faith cautiously picked her feet higher, straining to hear if anything else shared their path. She really hoped nothing not. She reflected on Buffy again, idly letting her thoughts ramble.
"B. Why aren't you happy?" Too late, Faith clamped on the words. Had they really escaped out of her mouth? She'd only been thinking the question. Rambling it, actually. A string of expletives flooded her head.
Buffy didn't deign a verbal reply. Her nails, however, sank into Faith. The darkness around them seemed to coalesce slightly, become more solid. More terrifying.
Faith finished mentally cursing, deciding to jump in front of the bullet. "Are you afraid of being alone that badly?"
The nails sank deeper into Faith's flesh. If the blonde hadn't been sure where Faith intended to lead with this, she was definitely sure now.
"Yes," Buffy eventually whispered, harsh. "Why do you want to know?" Her hold caused a ripple of pain to run through Faith.
"I already know."
The nails stopped gouging. Hesitantly, they relaxed. "You do?"
"Everyone knows, B. it doesn't take a genius to figure that kind of shit out. What happened with your last dude, anyway?"
Buffy exhaled loudly, slowing until their arms locked straight. Faith could almost hear the cogs turning in Buffy's brain. Maybe figuring out whether to punch Faith, tell her to shut up, or something else. "The last… 'dude,' as you eloquently put it… he dumped me."
Faith breathed relief, thankful Buffy had not yelled or turned violent. "Ken smashed him up in the bar last night."
"She did that?" Buffy halted. "Right. You both always do that."
"You noticed, huh."
"Yeah. So… Matthew dumped me. They all dump me, sooner or later. Sometimes I dump them. It happens so much that I think…" Her voice cracked, "… I think it means I can't be allowed to love. Or be loved. The price of being an original Slayer. My best relationships were with people who were supposed to be my enemies."
"Angel and Spike."
"Mm." Buffy increased speed until she matched Faith's. "Strong people. Normal people, like Riley, like Matthew… they don't work. They're sweet for a bit, but the fact I'm stronger than them is apparently unnerving. But I keep trying, anyway."
"What about…" Faith had to search for the name: "Satsu? The Slayer chick."
"She's a girl," Buffy replied. "Good in bed, I guess. But I couldn't love her. Not like she did. It was a mistake to string her along for as long as I did."
Faith felt stung at the girl statement. "Yeah?"
"Yeah. Nothing works. Normal people. Vampire people. Girl people. Whatever I go for, it ends badly. I suppose I should just accept it." She laughed quietly to herself. "But I don't. Maybe I just like the sex."
"Sex I can relate to," Faith said. Her left hand smacked against solid wood. She probed around for a door handle.
"I bet." Buffy sounded amused. "I don't want to judge or anything, but you like it. A lot, right? The sex."
Faith found the handle, clicking the door open. "I'm not a relationship girl."
A shrewd expression covered Buffy's face. "Do you want to be in a relationship?"
Where is she going with this? "Dunno," Faith shrugged. She blinked against the sudden influx of light, finally letting go of Buffy's fingers. She chose to lie. "Not something I think about."
Now out of the corridor, Faith took in the sight of a room. And not just any old room. A bedroom. She stared in fascination at the huge four poster bed. Peach translucent curtains draped over the mahogany wood.
Buffy stepped inside the room, amazed. "Wow. Nice choice of path. A dead end." Eyeing the bed, she pursed her lips. "Pretty big bed."
"Yes," Faith agreed, throat constricting.
Buffy went and sat down on it, a peculiar smile curving her mouth. "We had a dream like this once, didn't we? We were making up a bed. Putting on the sheets."
"I remember." Barely. The memory caused her pain. It came from her coma. She hadn't even realised the dream was shared, and gave away information leading to the death of the closest thing she had in her life to a father. It didn't matter he was evil. He cared for Faith, in his own way. Buffy featured prominently in the coma dreams. Often she hunted and wounded Faith in them.
For the eight months of being trapped inside her own skull, Buffy was her own personal nightmare.
Reading Faith's expression, Buffy's smile fell. "Faith?"
Faith seated herself next to Buffy, staring towards the single window. The rain still ran upwards, pattering softly on the glass. The sky growled and flickered with lightning. She glanced at Buffy. Despite clawing out a path for redemption, Faith often found herself pushed aside in favour of Buffy. I always live in her shadow.
"Guess there's nothing to do now but wait. Unless you wanna go back through the tunnel." Buffy always had a habit of triggering up the familiar smorgasbord of emotions in Faith. Anger. Frustration. Pain. Inadequacy. Bitterness.
Desire and passion.
Buffy shrugged, settling more comfortably on the bed. "I'm good here, thanks. Are you alright? You seem… off."
"Talk to me."
"No. Tell me what's wrong," Buffy huffed, crossing her arms and flumping on the covers.
"Nothing's wrong." Faith avoided looking at Buffy. The whole love spell thing in which she needed to do something nasty and permanent to Willow and her entourage made Faith unsure of her own self control. Maybe all it would take was one little thing for the walls to crumble. A string of words she wanted to hear. A touch. A smile.
The thought of her emotions being manipulated this way infuriated Faith more than anything.
"You're clenching your teeth. Your jaw is sticking out. You're tense, so something's obviously troubling you. Doesn't take a genius to figure that kind of shit out." Buffy mimicked Faith's phrase from earlier.
"Fuck you. I'm fine. And if I'm not, it's none of your damn business."
"Sounding pretty frustrated there. Not getting enough sex?"
"I get enough," Faith snapped, bristling. "'Least I remember my sessions."
Buffy glared, undeterred by Faith's threatening stance. "And we're at it again. The Faith and Buffy rollercoaster ride. Every time. You do this every time. Clam up, get mad, whenever I touch something even remotely personal. I never know what the hell is going on with you. Ever."
"There's nothing to talk about."
"You really hate me that much?" Buffy whispered.
Faith froze up like an iceberg at the unexpected comment.
Buffy took the lack of response as confirmation. She palmed her brow. "God, you must do. I know I have my problems, but even without those, it's always been like this. Any time we ever get on, it gets ruined about a second later when one of us says or does something stupid."
"B… I don't hate you." Faith forced the words out.
Buffy snorted, unconvinced. "Well, you sure got a funny way of showing it. You say we're friends. But you don't act very friendly."
"Uh… you're the one that doesn't wanna be friends with me, B."
"What? That's not true. I want us to be friends."
"No you don't," Faith insisted, slamming a fist into one of the posts. It splintered slightly under the impact. "You put up with me 'cause you have to, 'cause I'm all reformed and shit and Giles is helping me with the rogue Slayers. Obvious you resent us both for it."
Buffy blinked, forehead wrinkling. "Faith. I don't hate you. I promise."
Faith examined Buffy's hazel eyes for deceit. She found none. The blonde seemed sincere. "Sure have a funny way of showing it."
"Har, har. Hilarious," Buffy replied. "But I'm serious. I like to think we could be good friends; if not now, then someday."
"Dunno about that, B. Guess being the two original Slayers makes it hard for us. Since the line never meant to split. Maybe that's why. 'Cause we're cursed." The words came out harsh.
"But there's a lot of Slayers, now," Buffy implored. "And we've changed; matured. I don't see why we can't get on."
"We can't." Faith gritted her teeth, before amending the statement. "I can't."
"Why not?" Buffy looked hurt. Upset. Faith panicked when she saw moisture glisten in the elder Slayer's eyes. Part of her wondered why Buffy was riding the horse on this. Why did she act like she cared whether Faith ended up as a friend or not? Puzzling.
"Can't, 'cause…" Faith's windpipe squeezed tight, clamping down on the sentence. She physically struggled to utter out another syllable. Buffy waited patiently, the upset expression altering into one that appeared almost… hopeful. Hopeful?
Faith warred with herself. Part of her desired letting go of the secret. The weight of it crushed her. She felt like she couldn't breathe. Letting go meant risking and losing everything. Exposing the truth. And the lies.
Even a half existence with Buffy was better than none at all, when the blonde inevitably cut Faith off for the confession. She couldn't do it. The price of failure was too great; the rejection too much.
"Boy, you sure keep a girl waiting." A strange smile crept onto Buffy's lips.
"Your heart is racing." Buffy slid her hand from Faith's shoulder, pressing the palm against the brunette's lurching heart and simultaneously giving the reason for the peculiar smile. Faith wondered briefly if this was how it would feel just before the damn organ decided to hop out and run.
Faith didn't answer. She moved to take Buffy's hand off, nearly yelping in surprise when the blonde twisted and seized Faith's wrist. Buffy adjusted the hand until it rested over her own thumping heart. It easily matched Faith's staccato rhythm.
Faith snatched her hand back, eyes bulging. "What? You're…?"
"The spell," Faith whispered. "It's doing this."
"Maybe." Buffy unsubtly started pressing on Faith's arms, until the brunette rocked backwards onto the bed, rigid. "I don't think so, though. What if I told you, you know, hypothetically… I might be interested in screwing out your brains right now?" She traced her fingertips over the soft flesh of Faith's neck, hazel eyes fully dilated. "And that I might, still in the whole theory/hypo thing, mind, have dreamt about this moment, for a long, long… time?"
Arousal seared Faith. A feeling like warm, pleasant electricity crackled in her abdomen. Hardly believing her own daring, she said: "Well, if this hypothesis was true, and not the result of mojo, then I would, hypothetically, be up for the screwing. But then, would have to ask: why all the other relationships and drinking and whatever if you wanted this for a long time?"
"Because," Buffy said, frowning, "The theory being, the theoretical person was clearly not interested."
"Right. And if the theory was that the other person thought the same of the theoriser…?"
Buffy beamed, cupping Faith's face. "Then it would be a shameful waste of many years."
"Yes," Faith agreed, heart thrashing wildly. "A fucking tragedy."
The blonde lowered herself until her lips almost brushed Faith's nose. "Here's one more thing. Knowing this… in case it doesn't work out… could we, hypothetically… not be held accountable for our actions? Because we weren't quite in control of ourselves. Right…?"
"I..." Faith couldn't take it anymore. She tilted her lips upwards just as Buffy leaned closer, half-covering the brunette's body. Their mouths locked. Buffy's lips felt soft and pliable, and Faith left it about a second before darting her tongue out, demanding entrance. Buffy responded fast, letting Faith in her mouth. They battled for dominance, all hands and hot breath and slippery lips. Faith parted for air, taking one gulp before flipping Buffy over and straddling her.
Growling, she then grasped and slammed the elder slayer's wrists on the covers, quickly manoeuvring to press her knee between Buffy's thighs. She took in the sight of the flushed, wide eyed blonde beneath her. Her nerves jumped in anticipation and excitement. Buffy's lips parted to protest the arrangement. The words became stifled by a gasp when Faith pushed her body against the blonde in a slow, grinding motion. Hit by a further wave of lust, she pressed in and nudged her nose into Buffy's neck. The lust roiled through their Slayer connection.
"Oh… god…" Buffy's resistance and ability to articulate coherent words crumbled at that point. She emitted a breathy moan. Faith purred into Buffy's neck, working rapidly up the jaw line towards the bottom lip to clamp it with her teeth. The nip forced Buffy to exclaim in surprise at the sudden pain, contrasting into a moan when their tongues lashed. Faith curled her hands tighter into Buffy's fingers, moving the blonde's arms until they looped above their heads.
Faith finished the tongue hockey and grinned impishly, drawing back once more to inspect her prospective lover. "So. Here's one of those hypothetical fantasies I have about you…"
*** MEANWHILE ***
Something heavy pounded the doors. Xander flinched as the wooden board placed through the handles clacked. Andrew scrabbled against one of the stain glass windows, failing to open it more than an millimetre.
"We have to escape," Andrew gibbered.
Xander touched a welt on his cheek. As if on cue, Giles called out to them from the other side of the door:
"You can't keep running forever. My friends will break down the door soon, and I must say, I'm really looking quite forward to meeting up with you again. I trust you enjoyed my treatment, Xander?"
Xander hurried over to help Andrew with the sealed window. "Never… again. Ever. Oh, mother of all that is sweet and merciful. Please open…"
Another thud from the other side of the door caused the wooden board to crack. With strength bordering desperation, both men managed to break the window open. Some glass speared the battlements below. The remainder splashed into the moat. Andrew and Xander eyed the long fall, staring at the choppy waters, and the gravity defying rain.
Xander clambered onto the ledge jutting inwards from the broken window, glancing across the hallway for gargoyles, suits of armour, or a sexed up Giles. Another thump. More shattering wood.
"We need to do it soon," Andrew hissed, pale as a ghost. The moat looked a long fall down.
"Do you think it's a dream Giles or the real deal?" Xander hesitated. "Scratch that, don't answer."
"Some secrets should never be revealed," Andrew agreed fervently. They both continued staring at the sludgy waters. The rain disconcerted them. Scottish highlands lay around the moat: dark glens and shadowy slopes and mountains. Lightning forked the background, succeeded by booming thunder.
Giles finally smashed open the door, courtesy of his animated army, and clacked rapidly towards Xander and Andrew. The statues lumbered along as well. Giles delivered four quick slashes of his whip. "Get away from the window, children. It's dangerous. I would hate for you to injure yourselves any more than absolutely necessary."
One look at the smudged up makeup of the librarian sent Xander hurling himself into the void. He plummeted like a rock, howling: "You'll never take meeeeeeee…"
Andrew froze, like a deer blinded by headlights. Xander missed the stone battlements, heading straight for the watery depths.
"Andrew?" Giles snagged on the blonde man's ankle with his whip.
Squealing in terror, Andrew toppled backwards, the whip unfurling from his foot. He flailed uselessly as the sky spun. He caught Giles leaning through the shattered glass, face furrowed in disapproval, and managed a whimpering sob before he smacked against icy coldness. He sank a few meters underwater, then bobbed limply on top, stunned by pain. It burned across his entire back.
He kept afloat, vaguely noticing how ominous the castle appeared from a distance. More lightning flashed. Droplets of water peeled off the moat lake. Chill saturated Andrew's bones. He put up no resistance when something hauled him by the neck and drifted to land. Xander slapped Andrew vigorously until the sodden geek belched out water and curled into a ball.
"Why are you hitting me?" Andrew spluttered. He coughed into the grass.
"Because you weren't responding to anything else," Xander replied. He wiped his face, breathing deep in exhaustion. "Man, I'm freezing."
Andrew finished coughing and gingerly crawled upright, all too aware of his throbbing back. "At least we're alive. But my back! It hurts…"
"That's because you're an idiot, man friend."
"I was pushed. I swear!"
Xander shrugged, letting the matter pass. He helped Andrew onto his feet. Both friends shivered on the spot. Presently, Xander posed the question:
"Should we go back in the castle?"
"It might be safer," Andrew answered, dubiously. He squinted at the surrounding countryside. "Things could be waiting to eat our faces out there."
"Things could be waiting to eat our faces in there." Xander touched the welt on his cheek, self-conscious.
Both men glanced at each other.
"It's cold," Andrew whined.
Decision made, Xander scoffed and slouched away from Andrew, heading towards the drawbridge.
*** EVEN MORE MEANWHILE ***
A green substance slithered out of one of the cauldrons. Willow shook Kennedy to wake her, yawning as she did so. Kennedy grumbled and rubbed her eyes.
"We still in the dream?"
Willow rattled the manacles. Kennedy scowled.
"Right. What's happening now, then?"
"That." Willow examined the strange green substance leaking onto the stone floor. Candles flickered shadows over the dungeon, giving off weak light.
Kennedy observed it, biting on her lip. "I think it's coming for us. Whatever it is."
"Phooey." Willow jerked the chain, wrists raw from the effort.
"Is it gonna do something nasty if it reaches us?" Kennedy asked, concerned. The ooze crept along the floor.
"I can almost guarantee it'll be something nasty,"
"Cheer me up, why don't you."
"I live to please." Willow's response came out in a deflated monotone. She gave the chain one last futile tug. "We should be out of the dream by now. I don't understand why it's taking so long."
Kennedy rolled her eyes. "Remember the part where this great idea of yours went tits up?"
"You don't want to make me forget," Willow sighed, slipping lower. "So mean."
Slightly mollified by Willow's response, the younger Slayer once more scanned around for any escape options. The chains were too dense, there wasn't a visible lock to pick, and there were no hacksaws or shiny sharp objects in their immediate vicinity. Also, Willow lacked magic.
The ooze continued seeping its merry way across the medieval stone. Leery of it, Kennedy tried once more squeezing her raw wrists out of the manacles. Several times earlier she had almost managed it, before recoiling from the pain.
"You'll break your wrists," Willow exhaled glumly. She perked up, however, when Kennedy popped a hand out. "Hrum. That's interesting. And good. But different. Did they grow bigger? Or you smaller?"
Kennedy bared her teeth and yanked out of the other, reaching to wrest Willow out with enhanced, released Slayer strength. She wasn't going to look this gift horse in the mouth.
As if sensing its prey planned to escape, the ooze surged forward with menacing determination. Kennedy broke Willow out and both girls creaked onto their cramped legs, hobbling as fast as possible out of range of the ooze. Unfortunately there was no notable exit for them to run to. Also, they moved a fraction too slow.
The ooze slurped around Kennedy's ankle and stuck her firmly in place.
"Awh, hell," she snarled. "Will! Run for it! Save yourself!"
Instead, Willow froze in indecision, giving the ooze time to exploit the circumstances and snag her as well.
"Idiot," Kennedy said. She waited for something. An explosion, maybe, or to start sinking into the floor as the ooze used some acid digestive to melt them down or something. Candles batted their shadows over the green sludge. Dried liquid covered the side of the offending cauldron responsible for vomiting out the ooze in the first place.
Bubbles not unlike bulbous warts formed in the puddle around their feet. This is it, Kennedy thought. Death by frigging ooze. Faith is gonna laugh her ass off when she hears this.
Willow examined their new snare with quizzical fascination. "Look at all the tiny flubbers."
"Uh?" No doubt, something even stranger was happening. Kennedy could have sworn hearing a shrill chorus of cheeps coming from the bubbles. Bubbles which had decidedly human faces. They all stared up at her, mouths opening and closing, like a gathering of hungry little birds.
"Baby flubbers?" Willow ventured. "I wonder where the mommy is."
Kennedy emitted a wheezing choke. "Please do not tell me you just said that."
"… I didn't just say that?"
In desperate, quixotic hope, Kennedy tried: "I don't suppose you think momma ooze is hungry?"
With immaculate timing the cauldron flared to life, green rivers erupting out of it in a shower, drowning out the candles on the nearby tables. The liquid raced over the floor like a tidal wave.
Willow slapped herself. "Wake up, now. Please."
"Argh-" Kennedy growled, straining against the miniature flubbers. They chirruped agitation, clinging on with stretchy limbs. "You cannot be serious! Seriously!"
The deluge crashed into them, misting their awareness in pastel green.
Faith gasped awake, reaching for a weapon she didn't have. Disorientated, she attempted adjusting to the change of scenery.
Sybaritic tapestries enveloped the walls. Recognising the mid-sector of the castle, Faith focused on the sprawled, unconscious forms of Buffy, Andrew, and Xander respectively. Sunlight streamed through the windows, indicating early morning. The same early morning? Everything snapped into clarity. I'm awake! Disappointment contrasted with relief. Barely any time had passed in the real world. Someone would have found them and raised the alarm, otherwise. Unconscious bodies in the hallways of the Slayer base of operations would not go unnoticed.
Kneeling, she contemplated shaking Buffy to consciousness or hightailing it out of there, having found she possessed a vivid recollection of events in the dream. Very vivid.
Honestly, she'd been expecting to forget. Short of blowing out her brains, the expectation was no longer viable.
When Buffy stirred, a claustrophobic feeling invaded. Faith resisted the urge to hyperventilate. Surely, everything between them was ruined. If the blonde remembered, she would no doubt shy away in horror, or in a tone of disgust slate Willow's love spell for forcing her into a compromising situation with Faith. Even if that happened to be the reason why they did what they did in the first place.
Eventually, Faith backed off, choosing to wait it out. If Buffy faked it, she'd follow likewise. If not, she'd let the matter slide. She was Faith Lehane, after all. Queen of one night stands. Master of screw ups. Her insides writhed like snakes.
Buffy groaned, apparently at last suffering (or returning to) the effects of her hangover in full. Xander and Andrew showed no signs of returning to consciousness. Faith left Buffy and went to nudge the boys with her boot, none too gently.
Andrew snuffled and balled up like an armadillo. Xander reacted with a high-pitched yelp, hands thrust out in defence. He registered Faith's towering form, unmoving for several seconds before relaxing the posture. A beatific grin split his face.
"You are so the bestest thing to happen in my life right now."
Faith scowled when Xander lumbered and caught her in a bear hug. "Get off before I hurt you."
Xander let go, still grinning manically. "That's my Faith."
Faith nearly yelped herself when Buffy materialised next to her. "You got hit by the spell too, huh?" Buffy observed in grumpy amusement. "A love spell with Andrew…"
"Nothing like that happened at all," Xander blurted, shuddering. "Something much worse did. I need so much therapy right now."
"Yeah?" Faith said, cautious. Part of her wondered (and worried), if there had been any crossover in the dream. Whether Xander stumbled on her and Buffy doing the nasty…
"Let's just say there's a certain librarian I'll never be able to look at in the same way again. Ever."
At the word librarian, Andrew wrenched his eyes open. "Giles? Where? Where is he? Oh God, save me -" He stopped, blinking from his position on the floor. Slowly, he unfurled. "I'm awake?"
Faith snorted. Buffy giggled, incredulous. They glanced at each other.
"What about you guys?" Xander asked, helping Andrew to recover, and stopping him revealing anything else. "Did you get nightmares or… um. Did the spell work?"
Buffy licked her lips, not peeling her gaze off Faith. "The spell didn't work. We were both together, but… it didn't change anything."
"That's a shame," Andrew said.
"Still gonna kill Red." Faith scrunched her brow. What was Buffy implying? How much did she remember?
"She's got a lot to answer for," Buffy agreed. Then, as an afterthought, "As do you two. I don't appreciate meddling."
The two slayers trailed behind Xander and Andrew on their search for the elusive Wiccan. Faith stared resolutely ahead, trying not to peek at Buffy too much. Trying very hard not to remember the blonde naked beneath her as they…
Buffy's attention seemed elsewhere. Maybe she didn't recall anything. But everyone else did, so it stood to reason she remembered as well. Buffy gave no outward sign to the internal workings of her mind, however. The longer she kept silent, the more Faith's old friend, paranoia, slithered into play.
They stumbled onto Willow and Kennedy coming from the opposite direction. Kennedy's expression was fathomless, dark. Willow squirmed on the spot like a mouse being eyed by five pissed off cats.
"So. Hi guys. I found out the spell only tracked down people initially involved with it, so everyone else in the castle is okay. Unharmed. Unaffected."
"Yeah, about that…" Buffy squinted, a dangerous gleam in her eyes. "What the hell, Will? You know what happens when you do stuff like this. I thought you were supposed to be smart!" Her hands twitched, as though envisioning strangling the redhead.
"I wanted to fix things." Willow retreated behind her Resolve Face. "Don't blame me for trying. The others agreed."
"I didn't," Xander said.
"I did," Andrew mumbled. "We all did."
"I didn't!" Xander insisted, blanching under the twin glares of the slayers.
"Did you, Ken?" Faith asked the Latina slayer. Kennedy shrugged, avoiding catching Faith's eye.
Buffy snorted. "And this was your idea of 'fixing' it? Trying to get me to do a one night stand with Faith?"
"Nooo…" Andrew violently shook his head. "It's because we all agreed you people were secretly in love with each other. Like in my fan fictions."
"Will you fucking shut up about the fucking fan fictions?" Kennedy snapped.
"You whatta what?" Buffy blinked in quick succession. So did Faith.
Willow defended Andrew's statement. "We were fed up! The drinking, the Faith moping, the Buffy moping… and how you guys would always eye sex each other like all the time…"
"Oh yeah, that annoyed me too," Kennedy admitted.
"So I did the spell," Willow finished.
"Fucking…" Faith snarled and launched herself at Willow. The unexpected move took everyone by surprise. Shouts echoed around. Kennedy reacted fastest, crouching in front of Willow. She levelled a punch at the oncoming Faith, who dodged and elbowed her obstruction to the floor. Kennedy gritted teeth, rolling backwards to avoid any more damage. Before Faith reached Willow, she found herself restrained from behind by a Buffy arm-lock.
"Faith! Calm down, come on…!" Buffy screeched when Faith slammed her into the wall.
Faith knew, somewhere in her head, that her response was wildly out of hand, but she felt so consumed by rage, at the idea of having been manipulated by the others, that she kept thrashing out. It was a step back into her old mind state.
Willow bit her lip and began chanting, hands crackling with green electricity. Faith screeched, sent Xander flying, and advanced forward a couple more meters before Buffy slammed her down. Faith's vision blurred with stars, rapidly slurring black.
Faith woke up in her chambers. She rolled over to her side. Seeing Buffy sitting in the chair by the desk made Faith tense up, stiff-faced. Buffy folded her arms, not looking particularly happy or impressed.
"Sorry about knocking you out. But since you went all psycho…"
Faith grunted, pulling the dark blankets higher. "Go away."
"No." Buffy forced Faith to face her. "We have to talk."
"Yeah? Well, it's happening. Any reason you tried to beat Willow to death?"
Faith glowered. "Got pissed off."
"Right." Buffy rubbed her eyes, leaning forwards in the chair. "You got pissed off, so you thought it'd be a good idea to kill my best friend."
You wanted to do the same, Faith thought sourly. "Just go away."
"I'm not going anywhere. Not until you tell me what's going on."
"Everything! Okay?" Faith shook the blankets off as she sat up. "Frigging everything."
Buffy waited patiently for Faith to continue. They both stared at each other. Every impulse in Faith shrieked at her to continue bullshitting, throwing up words as defence. Resort back to the dark ways. Anything but face the music.
Faith sighed. She owed Buffy an explanation, if nothing else. Her heart shrivelled up inside.
A lump formed in Faith's throat at the pleading tone. How could she say it when she barely found the courage to admit it herself? I can't. Only, I can't came out audible as a scratchy whisper, seizing Buffy's attention.
"What?" Buffy prompted Faith, trying to ease her out of the defensive curl.
When Faith didn't deign a response, Buffy's brow furrowed in a mix of frustration and puzzlement. "You know, if you don't give me much ground to walk on I'm gonna just assume you're being a bitch."
"You do that," Faith managed. "Then go away. You would never… really…" Want me? Shit. Faith needed to rein in her spiralling thoughts, and now, dammit. It was only real for one of us. Nope, her mind insisted on chugging along the fast track.
Buffy's mouth opened. Closed. Opened again. Faith watched with growing alarm at the creeping spark on the elder Slayer's face, as though light-bulb realisation had switched on her brain. Faith swallowed, wondering if anything else had slipped out unwanted.
Buffy pressed her palms on the bed, bunching up the covers. "Are you saying you… and am I right in thinking this… you weren't faking it in the dream?" Her eyes were huge. "You were serious?"
Faith said nothing at Buffy's insight, looking instead at the floor.
"Oh." Buffy blinked, taking the absence of reply as confirmation. "Wow." She fidgeted.
Faith glanced up, her expression shrewd. "Sounding surprised there, B. Didn't know I had the hots for ya for a while? Your damn friends apparently did."
To Faith's great shock, Buffy flushed crimson. "No. I didn't… know…" She patted her cheeks in a vain attempt to cool them.
Now Faith was the one with insight. "B? What's up?" She thought she knew, but asked in hopeful caution.
"You really…" Buffy mumbled, fidgeting like a little girl, "… Have the hots for me?"
"Duh." Faith's confidence started trickling back. The elder Slayer's manner didn't exactly yell out rejection. Faith couldn't control the hope fluttering up.
"My gaydar's broke, then." Buffy risked a grin. "I honestly never knew. You're not kidding, right? Right?"
"Kid ya not." Faith squinted at Buffy speculatively. "That dream, B. did ya mean any of it? Our talks. The, ah-"
"Sex?" Buffy's grin stretched. "What if I said I did? Hypothetically."
Recognising the reference, Faith matched Buffy's expression, plus dimples. "Then, hypothetically, I think it's 'bout time we did something on it."
"More sex?" Buffy looked hopeful.
"Duh," Faith repeated, inwardly delighted. The hope made a bid for freedom. Yes! Her smile dropped, becoming serious. "But I don't wanna screw this up. I… I wanna try out with you. If you want. Do the whole schizz."
It took Buffy a few seconds to comprehend. "You want a relationship? An actual proper relationship? Holding hands, giving flowers, eating chocolates, relationship-y stuff?" She paused. "Who are you and what have you done with Faith Lehane?"
Faith growled. "C'mon. A girl can dream."
"Right she can." Buffy reached for Faith's hand, suddenly shy. Faith accepted it, interlocking their trembling fingers. Buffy inhaled deep. "I… have some problems. But I would like to try with you, as well. And not because I might have imagined something like this in my head for months, although that definitely helps, but because..." She trailed off.
"That it?" Faith leaned forward. Buffy took the hint and lowered her mouth for the kiss. They brushed lips gently, as though whispering words, before breaking apart. Faith was pleased to note Buffy's dazed expression. She felt much the same herself, drifting away on a distant cloud.
"Still gotta have words with your friends for messing us around like this."
Buffy frowned. "No punchy kicky?"
"Think I can manage that."
"Good. Because I am willing to forgive them in this case. Uh, just not straight away," Buffy added hastily, seeing Faith's scowl. The scowl softened. Faith turned her attention to the chamber door.
"So… do something 'bout that?" Faith twitched an eyebrow, and a smirk. Buffy immediately sprang up to bolt the door shut. Then she froze.
"I thought we wanted to take this slow?"
"Hear me say anything 'bout that? We been taking it slow too long." Faith beckoned Buffy with a crooked finger. The elder Slayer's answer was to chuckle.
"I guess this could help with the headache, then…"
Music blasted out the jukebox, some awful tune Faith hated but everyone else liked. She finished paying for drinks and sauntered over to the table, dumping alcohol down for everyone except Willow, now pacing herself with water. Kennedy grabbed the proffered beverage with a giant grin and immediately began slurping it down.
Matching her for speed was Xander, whilst Andrew took bets from Faith, Buffy and Willow. Everyone voted Kennedy. Xander wanted to prove them wrong. Faith sat down beside Buffy and smiled inwardly when the blonde wrinkled her nose at the drinks.
"Ugh, how can you put that stuff down your throat?"
"Mad skills," Faith offered.
"You know," Kennedy wheezed between gulps, "I still can't get over how sober you are right now."
"Beer bad," Buffy grunted, expression darkening over past experiences. Blue light swept over their table, followed by yellow and green from the headlights above. A new tune blared out the jukebox, a popular one that set people to dancing. Faith briefly observed the thong of dancers, resting a palm on top of Buffy's hand.
"I love it." Willow gave her best friend a hug. "No more depressing weekends and break ups and hospitals for Andrew."
Andrew snorted into his glass. "I should think not!"
Buffy laughed good naturedly, turning her own palm upwards to meet Faith's. "A lot of things have changed since then." She borrowed Willow's water, sipping it.
Faith focused back on her girlfriend, delivering a dimpled smile. "Can't argue with that."
Kennedy smashed down her third shot, voice coming out a growl. "Quit with the eye sex, already."
"Don't. It's cute," Willow overrode Kennedy's notion. Xander hesitated on his fourth shot, starting to look seriously affected. Another eight shots were stacked up neatly in front of him, a number identical to Kennedy's own hoard.
"Adooorable," he slurred.
"What? We weren't eye sexing." Buffy jerked her gaze from Faith, squeezing hands tighter. "Just, passing friendly looks! That's all."
"As if. You know how loud you guys were last night?"
"Eveeeery night," Xander enunciated, finally deciding to go for the fourth shot. Kennedy took one as well, keeping up.
"She's the loud one," Faith pointed out helpfully, causing grins to spread out amongst the others.
Buffy gave a gasp and jerked Faith closer via their interlinked palms. "Am not. And it's not every night," she added to Xander.
"Yesh…." He replied, clearly doubtful. He and Kennedy stared at each other.
"How about I win this?" Kennedy hiccupped.
Xander set his jaw stubbornly and took the fifth shot. "Never…!"
"I'm so glad you guys worked out." Willow sat back in her chair, rubbing just above her eye.
"No thanks to you," Buffy flicked Willow on the nose. "Faith was furious with you."
"Yeah, well, can't exactly stay mad when everything worked out," Faith muttered. Willow flushed, turning her attention back to Kennedy. Buffy gave Faith a quick peck on the cheek, purring:
"About that working out… Dance with me?"
Faith let herself be dragged onto the dance floor, revelling in the feel of her lover's body wrapping in close for the slow music burbling from the jukebox. She rested both hands around Buffy's hips. The elder Slayer hooked her fingers under Faith's arms, digging into the shoulder blades. They both stared at each other for a while, saying nothing.
"I ever mention how pretty you are?" Faith said. They swayed from side to side.
"Only, like, a million times. I ever mention how deliciously hot/stunning/beautiful you are?"
Faith smirked. "Not enough."
The music drifted on. Buffy cradled into Faith's neck, yawning. They often took a dance or two when outing with either trainee Slayers or the gang. Public indecency was another thing they tried not to do; although sometimes, especially after a successful patrol killing demons or preventing apocalypses, things ended up being carried away. And then bent over backward. That sort of stuff.
"Eight months pass fast," Buffy mused, discreetly checking on Kennedy and Xander. They were both half-comatose on the table, with Willow and Andrew laughing themselves silly. Strangers stared at their odd group in a mixture of alarm and mild humour.
"That long? Maybe I should dump you now."
"You try, and I'll beat your ass." Buffy tightened her grip, eyes glinting.
"I mean it. I'm not above any form of ass-kicking when it comes to you."
Faith wasn't sure whether to take that as a compliment or not. "Glad to hear you like my ass that much."
Used to a reply like that, Buffy shrugged it off with an impish smile. "No leaving, then?"
"No leaving," Faith promised. The words felt insignificant to her as she assumed the statement was a given, but it mollified Buffy. The blonde released slight tension and delivered a kiss on the corner of Faith's lips. The song faded, drawing to a close.
"Let's head back, clean up Xander and Kennedy."
"Yeah." Faith nodded. Buffy untangled herself and went to help Willow. Faith stood still a moment, a silly smile plastered on. Warmth flooded her body, the kind she never thought she'd be able to feel. And especially not with Buffy, the woman of her dreams.
Ain't that something, Faith thought. Things were definitely looking up.