by Erin
Chapter 4

That night the nightmares came back, as usual.

I woke up and Buffy was shaking me. I was sweating, and I noticed B looked really scared. I sat up, pulling my knees up under my arms to try to get myself to stop trembling. Dammit, there was no way I was going to let this get to me again.

B put her arms around me, and I stiffened up as soon as she touched me. Goddammit. I took a deep breath to try to relax, and I forced myself to lean on her.

After I calmed down a little bit, I felt Buffy lean her cheek against the top of my head. "Want to talk about it?"

"What's to talk about? Same shit, as always." I didn't move, though. It just felt so good to have her arms around me.

"You were yelling out, asking someone to stop hitting you. I-I guess I was hoping the dream wasn't"

Oh god, she thought... "No!" I said, pulling back from her all of a sudden. "No, no way, B. It wasn't you, it was just..." God, I felt sick to my stomach and for a second all I could do was fight it down. I finally took a deep breath and decided I couldn't keep it from her anymore. At least our time together was fun while it lasted.

" mom was an alcoholic, ever since I could remember. My dad, at least I think he was my dad, couldn't take it anymore, so he left. I guess he couldn't take me anymore either, cuz he left me with my mom. I think I was five or six when that happened.

"My mom never remarried or anything, but I must've had about twenty or thirty 'uncles'. One of 'em, I don't know who it was, started bringing my mom drugs, and food became pretty scarce around our place. She started spending all our money on drugs. My mom and me never had the best relationship, but once she started getting high, she started really getting mean. If I didn't do something, even if she never asked me to, she'd beat me, with a length of broomstick. Said I was a worthless piece of shit, and I'd always be one unless she could straighten me out."

I felt Buffy's hand on my shoulder, but I just shook my head. "The beatings weren't so bad, I mean, I got into a lot of fights at school, and I was used to dishing it out and taking it. Gets to the point where you don't even notice the bruises anymore."

I had to take a deep breath at this point. God, if Buffy didn't think I was a pathetic lowlife before, she would now. "I think I was twelve the first time one of my 'uncles' 'noticed' me. He--" I stopped, clearing my throat. When I started again, my voice was rough. "He screwed me. Kept calling me a whore the whole time, telling me I liked it. mom found us, and he told her to fuck off, told her he had some drugs for her in his jacket. So she did, she just left.

"Probably figured I was already fucked up, may as well finish the job, right?

"He...he kept coming back for as long as he and my mom were together. As long as he brought her drugs, she never said shit to him about it. After he took off, I guess she missed the drugs, cuz she--" I squeezed my eyes shut tight and dug the knuckles of my fists into my eyelids, trying to stop the tears. Didn't work. "She started offering me to her boyfriends if they'd bring her more.

"I tried hiding, tried running away, but funny thing about that, the cops always bring you back. I would have tried to OD, but I didn't want to touch the stuff my mom was into, I guess I was afraid I'd end up like her. Finally I did run away, and the cops never caught me."

I could feel my heart pounding in my ears. After all this time, it still felt like fucking yesterday.

"Faith..." Buffy's voice was quiet. I wanted to look at her, but I couldn't. Not now.

"Maybe you're unclear as to the custom involved here, but this is where you tell me what a pathetic piece of shit loser I am for letting those things happen to me, B."

She was quiet for a long time. Probably wanted to say that, but was wondering how to do it in a 'Buffy' kinda way. "Actually, what I was going to say was that you are the most incredibly brave person I ever met."

What? I slowly opened my eyes to look at her. I could see the tears streaming down her cheeks even in the dim light. When I finally looked in her eyes, there wasn't any disgust there, just sadness and intensity.

She stroked my cheek with the back of her hand. "Listen to me, nothing that happened to you was your fault. You trusted those people to take care of you, and they were monsters. None of it was your fault, because there wasn't anything you could do.

"You're a survivor, Faith. You've gone through things that I could never imagine in my worst nightmares. And you kept yourself together. I couldn't have done that. You're strong and brave in ways that have nothing to do with you being a Slayer, and everything to do with you being Faith.

"I'm proud that you consider me your friend."

I sat there looking at her for a minute, trying to kick-start my brain. Finally, I said, "That's the best euphemism I've ever heard for 'pathetic loser', B. You're really damn good at this, it almost sounded like a compliment."

She just smiled at me and lay back down, bringing me with her. I wrapped an arm around her stomach and she tightened the arm she had around my shoulders. "I will die before I let anyone hurt you like that again, Faith." Her voice was quiet, but I knew she meant every word down to her bones. "I hope you know that."

"I know I can trust you," I said. I listened to the sound of her heartbeat until I finally fell asleep again. And I didn't have any more dreams.

When I woke up, the first thing I noticed was that there was an arm around me, holding me tightly. I shifted around a little, and the arm tightened its hold. I wasn't sure how to feel about that.

I opened my eyes and took a look around, noticing that my face was buried in a blonde-hair covered shoulder. I shut my eyes again, remembering what happened during the night. Ah, hell. So much for not scaring her off.

Buffy let out a big yawn, and I looked up at her. I almost felt guilty for all the weakness I showed her the night before. Way to go, Faith.

She just smiled. "Good morning." Even when she was awake, she didn't seem to want to let me go. Hmm.

"Mornin'," I said to her. "Listen, about last night...I'm sorry I laid all that rough stuff on you. It wasn't cool."

She tipped my head up so she could look me in the eyes. Damn, I hate that. "You don't ever have to feel sorry about that. I'm glad you felt close enough to me that you could tell me."

"Yeah, well, it's harder to get closer than we are right now," I joked. It was about then that we both realized we were hugging each other, and I was still totally buck.

Buffy blushed to her ears, and fixed her eyes on her ceiling. I chuckled a little bit and slid over to the side of the bed. I picked up the t-shirt and sweats laying there, and put them on. Once I was decent, or as close as I ever get, I laid back down next to Buffy. "Thank you."

She looked at me curiously. "For what?"

"Being here for me. You don't know how many times I've had that same goddamn nightmare, and I usually wake up scared and completely alone."

She raised a hand to brush my hair out of my face. I don't know what she does, but every time she touches me it's electric. "I'm glad I was here. I'm sorry you ever had to go through that alone."

I shrugged. "Hey, my choice, right? I'm just glad I finally made the right one for a change."

She nodded at me. "Me too. Hey, are you hungry? I can fix pancakes. At least, theoretically."

I laughed. "Yeah, this I gotta see."

The pancakes were actually pretty good, after she stopped burning them. We sat in front of her TV eating pancakes and watching Sunday morning cartoons.

"This is so much better than when I was a kid," she was saying. "They didn't used to have any decent cartoons on Sundays, it was all church shows and news shows."

"That bites," I agreed.

We sat there watching cartoons for awhile, and I caught her looking at me. "What?" I asked, looking over at her.

She seemed to blush a little, and she looked back at her plate. "Nothing."

Interesting. I just shrugged, and went back to eating. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her looking at me again. "Ok, what is it?" I turned to face her.

She froze. "Um, it's just..." The phone rang. "I'll get it!"

Saved by the bell.

A few minutes later, she came back in to the living room. "That was Giles, he wanted me to drop a book off this afternoon. Um, Faith? Can I ask you something?"


"Back when Angel came back, I tried to hide him from my friends, because I was afraid how they were going to react. It turned out it really hurt them, though, when I did that. I guess what I was wondering..."

"You want to call a little 'Super Friends' meeting, and let everyone know I'm in town?"

She dropped her head, like she felt guilty or something. "Well, like Willow and Giles already know, but... I just want everything to be ok between you and my friends. I think we've gone a long way already, but..."

"Sure, B. I'm up for it. I need to work things out with Xander anyway, right? I'm just wondering if Riley is going to be included in this little party."

She couldn't look me in the eyes when I mentioned him. I was used to that, but not from her. "I'm not sure what to do about Riley."

"I thought you like, loved him or something." I wasn't thrilled about this, and my voice probably gave it away, cuz she gave me a pretty intense look.

"I do...I think, but..." She was chewing her bottom lip something fierce. "I just need to think about what's going on. I can't deal with a confrontation right now."

Well, not what I hoped, but still it was fair enough. "Ok, guess we'd better get these dishes done and head over. You gonna call Giles and tell him to put up the storm windows?"

"The what?"

I couldn't help laughing at the confused look on her face. "Californians," I said with mock disgust.

A phone call, a few dishes, and a couple of showers later, we were on our way to Giles' place. B lent me a black t-shirt and jeans since the only clothes I had were the ones I had been living in for the past few days. One of these days I'd have to go back to my place and get my stuff, but I wanted to make sure the cops were long gone by then.

We were the first ones to get there, which was fine as far as B was concerned. She wanted me to hang out upstairs until she got things pretty smoothed over.

Why the hell was I doing this? I mean, her friends had meant pretty much squat to me before. Actually, I realized that wasn't quite true. I mean, her friends were willing to accept me even before B did.

I thought about all the days and nights I spent in that crappy motel room after patrol. Wishing I had friends to hang with. Even being jealous that they all got to hang out in High School--which was saying a hell of a lot, cuz I hated school. But I just had to keep my fucking distance, didn't I? Pretend like the loneliness was no big, even when it was killing me.

That was why I was doing this. I may be a masochist sometimes, but I'm not stupid.

I heard a knock at the door, and voices from downstairs. I crept down the stairs a bit, still around the corner and out of sight, but I could hear everything perfectly.

"Hey Xander, Anya. C'mon in."

"Hey Buffster. So what's this meeting all about? Big demon news? Ooh, cookies!"

"Yeah, help yourself. I'll fill you all in as soon as Willow shows up."

"Oh, they were right behind us. She had a friend with her, though."

"Probably Tara. They've been inseparable lately." I snickered. You can say that again, B. Probably joined at the hip. B opened the door, and let Willow and Tara in.

"Hey Buffy! Xander, Anya." That would be Red. "Everyone, this is Tara. She knows all about, you know, everything. She helped Buffy get her body back during the Faith thing."

"Hi." Geez, her voice was so quiet I could barely hear her, even with Slayer hearing.

"Hi Tara, nice to meet ya. So what's up, Buff?"

"I wanted all of you together at once, because I have something to tell you. I wanted to thank you for everything you guys did to help during the whole Faith 'incident.'" You could almost hear the little quote marks. "And you guys know that after I got my body back, Faith took off."

"Yeah, good riddance to premium homicidal lunatic material, huh?" I think the whole room went quiet at that point. I could only imagine the stares Xander was getting. "What? Am I right, or what?"

"No, Xander, you're not. As I was saying, Faith took off, but she's back now."


"Xander, please, let Buffy finish." Giles was sounding as subdued as I've ever heard him.

"She and I want to deal with all the bad stuff that happened between all of us, instead of just fighting about it. I've forgiven her for what she's done, and she's done the same for me."

"I've forgiven her too." Wow, didn't expect Red to jump to my defense, that's for sure. "I don't know why, but something was different about her."

"So, instead of slitting your throat, she's going to wait until she can stab you in the back, is that right?"


"No, B, it's ok," I said, walking downstairs. Figured as entertaining as this all was, it was past due for me to weigh in. "He's right. He has no reason to trust me. Not after what I did to him." I looked over at Xander, and raised my head up. I was more than willing to apologize, but I was going to do it on my terms. "I'm sorry, Xander. I can't explain away what I did, but I am sorry."

He didn't stop staring at me, and I returned his stare. "She-she's telling the truth." I turned around and looked at Tara, surprised that Red's mousy friend said anything. Glad that she did, but still.

Buffy agreed, apparently. "She is. I believe her."

Xander looked around the room, but Red and Giles were both nodding. He finally mumbled, "I...I gotta think about this. I gotta go." He and Anya left pretty fast.

"Well, that could have gone better." Buffy looked like the whole thing tired her out.

"You did the right thing, Buffy." Giles said. "He'll come to forgive Faith in time."

I walked over to Tara. "Listen, thanks for the back-up there. Look, I'm sorry." I was saying that a whole hell of a lot lately, and it was starting to annoy the shit out of me. "For the stuff I said at the Bronze, I mean. I'm sorry."

Red gave us both this puzzled look. "What did she say?"

I swear Tara blushed down to her ankles. "W-w-w-well, she--"

I shrugged it off. "Just some crappy stuff about, you know, you and her. It was a lame thing to do, but I was just pretty surprised, you know? I mean, c'mon Red, I never pegged you for a--" I finally caught the horrified look that Tara was throwing at me. Oh, shit. I turned around to look at B, but she was just hiding her face in her hands. I think she was laughing, but I couldn't prove it.

"Okay," I said, crossing my arms in front of my chest. "Someone is going to have to catch me up on everything that has happened for the past eight months, and I'm not saying one more goddamn word until they do."

"And how was I supposed to know that Red and Tara weren't doing the down and dirty?"

B smirked at me. "You want to try for distance now? I think there are some people left who didn't hear you."

"Oh, like there's anyone alive around here to hear." We were walking through a cemetery, running a quick patrol before bedtime. "That was pretty quick thinking on your part, though, B. Telling Red that I was talking about her being Wiccan and all."

"Yeah, well, Willow isn't stupid. She and Tara are definitely going to need to talk. I just hope everything works out for them."

"Oh, no worries. I'm sure they'll be boinking each other in no time."

B laughed. "You're such a romantic."

"The word is realist. Two red-blooded teenagers can't keep their hands off of each other for very long, regardless of what their gender is."

"Oh, is that right?"

I nodded confidently. "Of course."

"And what experience do you have with that, Dr. Faith?"

"I've been around." I shrugged. "Men, women, it's all pretty much the same. Well, similar but different, you know?"

"No, I don't," she said, giving me a weird look. "What do you mean?"

"Well, you've done guys so I don't have to explain that to you, at least. With women, everything is softer. More sensual. Even obvious differences aside, you never forget you're with a woman, even if you're only kissing her. You know?"

B stopped and looked at me. "You keep saying that. No, I don't know. I mean, how different could a kiss be? Some are better than others, but..."

Oh man. I knew I probably shouldn't, but she was handing it to me on a goddamn silver platter. Not my fault. I took a step forward, real close to her now, and said, "Only one way for you to find out."

She stared at me. Well, it was a bonus, at least she wasn't running away. After a minute, she said, "Ok. Purely academic curiosity, mind you."

I nodded. "Completely." She was looking up at me expectantly, her lips parted just a little bit. Perfect. I reached up and ran the tips of my fingers down the sides of her face, and moved in slow, giving her enough time to back off if she wanted to. Only, she never did. My lips touched hers and they were soft, yielding. She didn't respond for a minute, and then I let my hands drift down her sides to her waist. I pulled her closer to me and I felt her moan, even though I didn't hear it. She started kissing me back, and damn if I couldn't form a coherent thought after that.

After several seconds of that, I pulled back. Always leave 'em wanting more. She looked up at me, only she wasn't surprised or horrified or anything. She was calm, like that was the reaction she was expecting all along. "Well, that was something," she said.

I smirked. "Something good or something bad?"

She didn't answer. "Come on, let's get going."

Chapter 5

That night, we slept in the same bed again. It was like it was assumed, or something. Neither one of us really wanted to be alone.

B's alarm woke us up way too early. "I've got classes all morning... You want to meet at the Campus Deli for lunch?" B was doing the getting ready thing, and I was trying to block out the sunlight with a pillow over my face. I mumbled something which basically sounded like "Yeah," and she said, "Great! See you then."

The next thing I knew, I rolled over and the clock read 11:15. Shit. I had to hustle to get ready and over to campus before noon. I didn't make it, but I wasn't too late. I spotted B already sitting down, and right next to her was Beefstick. Crap.

I did the stealthy thing, and managed to get close enough to hear what they were saying. Their faces were all serious, so I guessed it wasn't good news for Beefstick.

"I don't understand, everything was fine a few days ago."

"A lot has happened since then, Riley. I-I just need time to deal with all of it."

"You mean Faith. Frankly, I don't get the big deal here, Buffy. Do you think I cheated on you or something? If anything, I cheated with you!"

"No, it's not just that. I mean, that didn't make me very happy, but that's not the only reason I need a break right now. Look, I'll call you in a couple of days, ok?"

"Yeah, ok." Beefstick looked pretty pissed when he left. Then again, I suppose I would be too if B just told me to take a hike. I waited a couple of minutes more, and then walked up to the table.

"Hey, B. Sorry I'm late, I kinda overslept. A lot."

"That's ok. Actually, I'm kinda glad you're late. I ran into Riley a few minutes ago." She was quiet; I bet the whole Riley thing got to her. She's not used to dumping guys, just boinking them and having them turn evil.

"Oh yeah? Things five by five between you two?"

"No, things are most definitely not five by five. I told him I needed a break from our relationship. Just until I figure things out."

"What's to figure out?" I took a bite out of the roast beef sandwich she got for me. My favorite. I wonder why she remembered.

She just shrugged, and started eating her own sandwich.

"B, you need to find the fun. I mean yeah, this thing with Beef--er, Riley sucks. But you need to have a night out, something to clear your head, you know?"

She looked at me, but didn't object. "What do you suggest?"

I winked at her. "You'll find out tonight."

I could feel the music through the soles of my boots a long time before we could actually hear it. The pounding bass carried through the sidewalk like some earthquake aftershock. "Where are we?" Buffy asked me.

I just smiled, and looked B up and down. She'd let me dress her for once, and I chose black denim jeans, docs, and a white t-shirt to contrast with my black one. She looked good, I thought, although Buffy always looked good. But this was good in a take-no-shit, pastels-be-damned way.

I walked down the stairs to the basement rave, pulling B along after me. The sign above the door read "The Succubus." I had found it during one of my long, aimless, lonely walks around the bad parts of town, and immediately fell in love with it. I mean, the Bronze was ok, but it just wasn't "it," you know?

I tossed a five dollar bill at the bouncer, a skuzzy, bearded man with a hungry look. He looked us over, and I can't say I blame him.

The club echoed with deep, pounding rhythms that I could feel down to my bones. Buffy was looking around, she was probably surprised. This wasn't a "safe" club, where yuppie kids could come and shoot pool, and order mochas. I laughed out loud. Far from it.

I led her past dancing couples, and couples that just ditched the pretense of dancing and were groping each other on the dance floor. You'd never seen so many piercings and tattoos in one place before, I swear. I put my arm around B's waist, just so I could guide her better through the dark club. Yeah, right. We got to the bar, and grabbed two empty seats.

Buffy leaned over and yelled in my ear, "What are we doing here?" It was almost impossible to hear each other over the music.

I just shot her another of my knowing smiles. "We're looking for a demon."

"What kind of demon?" Buffy was in Slayer mode now, eyes scanning the crowd for danger.

"You'll know it when you see it." I nodded at the bartender who brought over a glass of Coke and a bottle of beer. I set the beer down in front of Buffy.

"Oh, no, I had that lesson taught me the hard way," Buffy said, pushing the beer away. "I'll just have what you're having."

Too fucking hilarious. Well, she asked for it. I signaled the bartender to bring another Coke for Buffy. B took a sip of the soda, and grimaced. "This tastes funny."

"Must be the water they use," I told her, taking a long drink. "You'll get used to it."

She seemed to be getting used to it already. Buffy's second drink was a much longer one.

The song changed to a fast, dark, techno song with a pounding dance beat. Sisters of Mercy. Perfect. "C'mon," I said, grabbing Buffy's hand. "Let's dance."

"Out there...just the two of us, I mean?" Buffy looked at me blankly.

I just smiled at her. "It's not like we haven't done more than that, just the two of us." She blushed. "C'mon, it's not like anyone here cares anyway."

I pointed at the dance floor, which had more than a few same-sex couples out there. She finally allowed me to lead her out there, among the dancing couples and swirling clove-smoke. God, I love this. It's been way too long.

Buffy started dancing, and I couldn't take my eyes off of her. Every move was graceful, even when she was moving fast and wild like she was now.

Pretty soon I noticed that B was watching me too, and I danced closer. Pulling out all the moves now, my eyes locked with hers. "You up for this, B?"

Buffy couldn't tear her eyes away from mine. "I'm up for anything, F."

Time for checkmate. I smiled, and danced closer, stepping around behind her. B kept dancing, and I put my hands on her hips, feeling them sway back and forth to the beat. I think she stopped breathing; I know I had. She shocked me by pushing back against me, covering my hands with hers.

I buried my face in blonde hair, inhaling deeply, that smell which was only Buffy. I flicked my tongue out, brushing Buffy's ear with it. "You find that demon yet, B?" I whispered.

Buffy groaned deep in her throat and before I knew what was happening, turned so she was facing me. She grabbed my shoulders and pushed me back until I felt the wall of the club behind me. It was painted black and reeked of clove, tobacco and sex. Buffy inhaled deeply, and dove in toward me, kissing my neck and jawline. "What do you think?"

It was checkmate, all right, but I was the one who had been mated. So to speak. I rested my head against the wall, barely able to catch my breath. "I think you found it, all right."

She ground her hips against mine one last time. "Glad to hear it," she said, laying one more kiss on my nose. She brought her hand up to stroke my face. "C'mon, I'm thirsty. What kind of water did they put in that Coke, anyway?"

I grinned. "It's called Jack Daniels."

I woke up to a fairly familiar searing pain behind my eyeballs. I groaned, wondering what the hell would possess B to have a bedroom that faced East, and not choose blackout curtains. I opened my eyes as little as possible and looked around.

B was still asleep, which wasn't all that surprising. I think we stumbled home at about 4 o'clock this morning. I rolled out of bed and pulled on a t-shirt and some clean underwear. First things first. I staggered downstairs, and filled a couple of glasses with water. It took a little looking around, but I found some aspirin soon enough. I popped a few, washing them down with a couple of glasses of water. I took the aspirin and water upstairs, figuring B would need them soon enough.

When I closed her bedroom door behind me, I saw her open up her eyes to look at me. She looked pretty miserable, I have to admit.

"C'mon, Sleeping Beauty," I said, offering her the aspirin and water. "This'll make you feel better."

"Ungh," was about all I could understand. She took the aspirin and downed the water in no time. She sat up, holding her head in her hands. "I've gone 15 rounds with a demon before and felt better than this. What happened?"

"You were drinking like a fish, that's what happened." I climbed up on the bed behind her, and massaged her shoulders. I don't know if it was helping, but she did relax a little. "I almost had to carry your Slayer-ass home."

"Wow. Last thing I remember you were talking about breaking your tequila shooter record."

"Yeah, and I did it, too. I appreciate the support you gave me with that, B. You were right there, all the way."

"Really? How many shots did I do before I had to stop?"

"Um, well, one. But it's not bad for your first time, hey?" She relaxed and leaned back against me, my hands dropping down to hold her around the waist. Goddamn, this was just too perfect. I didn't deserve it.

"First time? You mean, you want to do this again?"

"Don't you?" I frowned. I thought she had a good time.

"Well...yeah, I guess I do." I could feel her smile. "It was a lot of fun, not like the Bronze-hanging-out kinda fun, but more like a wild, impetuous, let-your-hair-down kinda fun. And a totally-pay-for -it-the-next-morning kinda fun."

"Yeah, well as soon as the aspirin kicks in, we'll go get something nice and greasy for lunch. It'll help, trust me." Her hair smelled like clove; it was stale, but it still turned me on. What didn't?

"There's only one problem with that plan."


"We'd have to move." She had a point.

I should have just let it go. Enjoyed the moment, the closeness that had been growing between us for the past couple days. So, of course, I didn't. "What... what's going on here, B?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean with us."

She was quiet for a hell of a long time. "I...I'm falling in love with you."

There it was. I'd wanted to hear her say that for so long now; dreamt about it, daydreamed and fantasized. It's what I worked for, fought for, since almost the moment I got to this shitty little town, even before I knew who Buffy Summers was.

She loved me. And I, in my crazy, totally fucked up way, loved her. I loved her more than anything.

That's why I couldn't let her do this.

I pushed her to the side, carefully, but firmly. Couldn't meet her eyes. Never liked much looking in them anyway. They were too beautiful, they saw right into me, right through me. I lived for them.

I started getting dressed, fast. I heard her say, "Faith, what's going on?" She sounded scared.

My voice was rough when I answered her. "Sorry, B. You know me. Get some and get gone, right? I can't do this."

"Can't do what?" I couldn't look at her, didn't even want to hear her. If I could have blocked out all things Buffy at that point, I would have. Would have made it easier.

"Can't do this. Can't do love. Don't you get it by now, B? I'm poison. Everything I touch dies." I knew I had to hurt her, really hurt her. Anger was a hell of a lot easier to deal with than pain. "'Sides, you'd be just another conquest to me, y'know? Just wanted to see if I could seduce you away from Beefstick. It was all a big game to me, B. Just a game." I laughed harshly. "Gotta admit, you really put up a fight there for awhile. But I had you broken. You would have given me everything, anything I asked for."

"I still would. I don't believe you, Faith. This wasn't a game to you." Her voice was calm, like she knew me better than I knew myself. Drove me crazy.

"Don't think so?" I was dressed now, and I walked up to where she was sitting in bed. I pushed her back, and straddled her hips. Leaned down and kissed her hard, slipping my tongue inside her mouth. God, it was electric. I felt her breathing hard now, responding to my every move.

I broke the kiss and sat up. Gave her a cold look and slowly climbed off the bed. Grabbed my jacket, and said, "Just a fucking game."

And then I left. I didn't look her in the eyes the whole time.

Chapter 6

I walked around for a long time, trying not to think about anything in particular. Buffy was mine, she would have given herself to me body and soul, just like I was willing to do with her all those months ago. The only difference was, she had something valuable to give. I didn't.

What did I have to offer her? One fucked up, homicidal Slayer. Can't deal with love, about the only thing I know is lust, and B doesn't need that.

So I pushed her away, probably one time too many. Damn, for her sake I hope it was one time too many.

So what would I do now? Get the fuck outta Dodge, I guess. Move around until I finally found something that would kill me. Wouldn't be easy; like B said, I was a survivor. But it would happen eventually.

I walked to the docks, not really realizing I was doing it until I got there. About a year ago or so I was about to stow away on a freighter, but B stopped me. Said she never gave up on her friends. She should have given up on me, it would have saved everyone a lot of trouble. Even when people try to help me, it all turns to shit. I should have known better than to let B try again.

I sat on a crate which was pushed up against a warehouse wall; I was just waiting for sunset, 'till I could sneak on board and see where the freighter took me.

"Thought I might find you here."

Goddamn, it never ends, does it? Just keeps coming back to hurt you, till finally you put a gun barrel in your mouth or something. "Get the fuck outta here. I don't want you here."

"Tough," she said, "because I'm not leaving." She sat down next to me on the crate.

"Don't you get it yet? C'mon, B, you're not stupid."

"What's to get? I know that I love you. I'm pretty sure you love me. You're just pushing me away because you're afraid."

"You think I'm afraid of you? That's a laugh." I did, in fact; laugh, that is.

"No. I think you're afraid of us. You're afraid of letting someone in close enough to love you. Well, it's a little late for that, Faith. I already love you."

God, it didn't make this any easier every time I had to hear that. "Your loss, then."

"I don't think so. I think you're everything I could have ever hoped for, but never got until now."

I laughed harshly. "What, you a masochist or something, B? I can't go five minutes without hurting you."

I saw her shake her head out of the corner of my eye. "You're not hurting me, Faith. You're hurting yourself. You know what I see when I look at you?"

"No, but I bet you're gonna tell me."

"I see a very beautiful, very sexy, very intelligent woman. She's a woman who knows what she wants and goes after it, but she's always afraid of getting it. Because she thinks deep down that she doesn't deserve it.

"See, she's been told for so long that she's worthless that she believes it. Even though her friends like and admire her, she can't accept that. Has to chalk it up to pity, or delusion, or people trying to use her.

"Even though she ran away from her mother years ago, went a whole three thousand miles to get away from her, her mother still runs her life. Every single aspect of it. She still acts exactly as her mother expects her to."

FUCK! I clenched my jaw so hard I'm surprised I didn't shatter teeth. Every single goddamn word she said was true, and I knew it. "How the hell am I supposed to act, huh? I'm fucked up, B. There's no getting around that."

She put an arm around my shoulders, but I shrugged it off. "If you could believe your mother that you were worthless, and you hated her, why can't you believe me when I say you're worthwhile?"

I just shook my head. I felt my shoulders slump, like it took too much energy to keep 'em up right now. I felt her hand on my face, turning it to look at her.

Oh, god. Anything but that.

I looked right in her eyes -- those beautiful, hazel eyes that always broke down every defense I had. She leaned in and kissed me. It was a kiss like I had never felt before, with anyone; it was sweet, and yielding, and loving. No lust, no conquest, just love.

I couldn't get enough.

She broke the kiss slowly, and I had no idea how much time had passed. "You shouldn't do this to yourself," I said roughly.

"Do what? Be with the one person who can make me happy?"

"I'll never make you happy."

"You already have, Faith. More times than I can count. I bet you can do it again." She kept looking at me, never letting me look away. "Let me love you. Let yourself love me. You deserve it, Faith. After all this time, everything that has happened--you deserve it."

I just looked at her. "I do love you, Buffy. I can't stop."

She brought me back home. Not that it was my home, just that I had started thinking of home as being wherever she was. I wonder when that happened.

I dropped my jacket in her bedroom, and turned around to see her standing there, so very close to me. She looked up at me with those eyes, and I was paralyzed.

She wrapped her arms around my neck, pulling me down into another kiss. This one just as sweet as the last. I wrapped my arms around her waist, letting them rest there. We stayed like that for a long time.

Finally, she pulled back, reaching down to unbutton my jeans. She guided me over to the bed and I sat down, completely stunned. She took off my boots and my jeans, setting them by the side of the bed. I just watched as she slipped off her tennis shoes, and undid her jeans, stepping out of them as they fell to the floor.

Buffy pushed me back and climbed on top of me, giving me another of those kisses. She was so light I barely noticed her weight on top of me. I reached up and pulled her shirt off, giving her a minute to lose her bra. She looked down at me, and all I could think of was that she was so beautiful. Everything, the whole 'Want, Take, Have' thing, the whole 'Get some, get gone' thing, she banished them all. All I could think of was her: her beauty, her love, her happiness.

She was perfect. I still didn't think I deserved her, but I had promised her that I would try. I needed to show her how much she meant to me. Needed it, craved it. Nothing mattered now except for making her happy.

I lay her back down on the bed, covering her body with mine. I kissed her face, her throat, her chest. I finally covered one of her nipples with my mouth, running my tongue over it. I think I heard her gasp, and she arched against me. I let my hand drift down past her stomach, her abdomen, and gently slid my fingers inside, feeling how wet she was.

She moaned, and her head snapped back; I moved up and covered her lips with mine. My fingers never stopped, though, and I slipped two inside her, felt her hands tangle in my hair, pulling me down and kissing me, bruising me.

I thought I was going to die.

It was like the first time I never had, the way it always should have been. Something kept telling me it was no good, it would all get fucked up in the end. But I didn't listen. I couldn't listen, not with this goddess underneath me, whispering how much she loved me, how much she wanted me.

I brought her right to the edge, and over; I held her to me, her ragged breathing warming my neck.

I whispered, "I love you." And I felt her smile.

We made love for the rest of the night. Yeah, that's right, made love. She gave back to me everything that I had given to her, and more. And when we were done, every impulse, every bit of ingrained habit told me I should just be showered and gone.

But I didn't go.

We laid there, and talked for a little while before we fell asleep. And I was there when she woke up, too. I think she was a little relieved to see that. So was I, actually.

See, I love Buffy. But I already said that, didn't I?

She is my goddess. Her love for me was my redemption. And if I didn't deserve it, then at least I could pretend.

Back to Chapter 1
Continued in
The Faith Factor
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