The Frogs meet us outside the hotel. They arrive on push bikes, it's not the best entrance ever, but I'm glad to see them. B's leaning heavily on my arm. She's coated liberally in factor 25 sun lotion and is wearing sunglasses even though it's a little overcast today.
As promised, they're loaded up with petrol and stakes. Inside the mine and B's van are more of the same, several bottles of holy water and about twenty crosses.
"Ready?"They ask in unison.
"Five by five."I reply, tossing the keys to Edgar so I can help B into the van, she's barely awake. "You'll be ok, B."I tell her.
"Because of you."Her eyes are glazed over, but she reaches up and strokes my hair.
"Because of us."I say.
She runs a thumb over my cheekbone, then turns to settle in the back of the van in a space free from anti-vamp arsenal.
"You look like shit."I hear Edgar comment.
I shoot him the finger without even turning. Half-vamp or not, nobody insults B.
"Here drink this."
I turn this time, just in time to see Edgar hand her a bottle of holy water.
"Fucker!"I shout as he snatches it back.
"I was just kidding."
Does he really expect me to see the funny side of this? I hop in the back of the van, grab him by the throat and pin him to the inside of the van. He's making strangled gasping noises, I think he's learnt his lesson. Better safe than sorry though. "Nobody insults my girl, let alone tries to kill her as a prank," I stress the last word by squeezing his neck a little. "Got it?"
He nods emphatically. I let him go and he sinks gratefully to the floor. I turn to clamber into the front to take the drivers seat and come face to face with Alan.
"Nobody does that to my brother."
"Then you know how I feel about B."I tell him, knocking him gently out of the way.
I take a seat and check in the rear-view mirror. Where's B while I'm being her knight in shining armour? Spark out on the floor.
I come to, someone's gently shaking me, which means it's neither of the Frogs. I think I missed something earlier, but I know they don't like me.
"We're here, B. Can you wake up?"
"Anything for you."I mutter, not quite awake enough to keep my mouth in check.
"I loved that song."She loops an arm under me and drags me out of the van.
I wince in the sunlight. It's so bright. "Sunglasses?"I hold one hand over my eyes.
"Wearing ‘em, B."
"Oh."My eyes begin to adjust to the light, and I see the Frogs making their way down the wooden steps. I'm alone with Faith. I slide my arms around her neck, she looks surprised for a moment, then wraps her arms around me.
"We'll get through this, B. A couple of days time you and I are gonna be hanging at The Bronze laughing about it."
"Well… maybe a month's time. I'm thinking a big non-vampy vacation after this."
"Sounds nice."I murmur.
"You'd come with me?"
"I'd even put up with your snoring."
She laughs softly, and it occurs to me that, despite the situation, Faith has laughed more in the past few days than she ever did in all the years I've known her.
We share a few moments silence in our hug.
"Love you."I whisper, so quietly I'm not even sure I said it at all.
‘Love you' whispers itself in my ears as I help B down the steps. I'm pretty sure I imagined it, but all the same there's a tingle of anticipation in my stomach that has nothing to do with the upcoming fight.
I keep saying fight, but if all goes well there will be no interaction with the bastards that corrupted my B. If I'm honest, I hope it doesn't go to plan and I personally get to stake the bastard that made her.
We get into the cave and the boys are standing over the sleeping form of Star.
"Let's stake her."Edgar suggests.
"Leave her alone!"I shout. "She's like B."
"It's a half though."Alan turns to his brother and draws a stake.
"Stay the fuck away from her!"I'm surprised that those words didn't come from my mouth. B's glaring at the Frogs, sweating, pale and positively magnificent.
"Vampires have such rotten tempers."Edgar says.
"Let's find the rest."Alan backs away from Star.
"B, can you help Star and Laddie out?"I ask.
"No probs."She gives me a grin that reminds me a bit of me. She makes her way over to Star.
Edgar spots an opening in the wall of rock. "Down there. It reeks of vampires."
I turn to the Frogs, "C'mon boys, let's end this."I notice it really does stink down this tunnel. In my dealings with vamps, they've never had this stench of decay about them. Angel's probably not a great example, I've never met a straight guy who takes such good care of himself, especially his hair. But Spike was a real vamp and he didn't smell. I guess it's the different breed of vamp.
I take the lead as planned. The tunnel seems to go on forever, and soon we're crawling, not walking. I begin to think Edgar is even more clueless than he sounds. Suddenly the crawl space opens out and drops sharply. I stop just in time before I fall. Alan head-butts my ass, I consider making a comment, but can't be bothered.
It's a dead end. I turn to tell Edgar exactly what I think of him and his vamp tracking skills, when Alan yells.
Edgar and I follow his gaze upwards. There's three vamps hanging from the roof of the cave. Even I'm wigged. I'm not used to this kind of vamp.
"Let's go boys."I say with more confidence than I'm feeling. Edgar hands me and Alan a can of petrol each. Alan douses the floor while I look for a way to climb up to them. These guys are getting Reservoir Dog-ed.
I see a metal trellis that would serve perfectly as a ladder leading up, and start to climb.
"What's she doing?"I hear Alan ask.
"These guys don't vamp my girl and just get a flamey death, they get an agonising one."I reply over my shoulder. "Go. And pile up the crosses on your way out."
"This wasn't the plan, Faith."
"Fuck the plan."I say. "Go."
"Look, it's hard enough to climb up this thing, let alone with a petrol can. Do you really want me to come down there and forcibly remove you? These guys could wake up any second…"
They leave, and now it's just me and the vamps.
Carrying Laddie to the van exhausts me, but I have to go back for Star. I'm breathing heavily and about ready to pass out. The damn sun isn't helping. The thing that keeps me going is Faith. She's in there, trying to kill David, Marko and the others for me. I'm sure as hell not going to let her down.
I stand above Star, trying to wake her. I've tried being kind and gentle, but now I'm losing my temper. I'm in the same state as her and I've just carried a seven year old out to the van.
I slap her hard on the face. She bolts awake, sometimes I forget the Slayer strength and I'm ashamed by that red mark on her face, you can see my fingers and everything.
"Wake up and get your ass out of this cave."I demand, hauling her to her feet.
"I'm tired."She complains.
"Me too, and I just carried Laddie up those fucking steps! Now move!"
I half drag, half carry Star out of the cave and ditch her in the back. She curls up next to Laddie and falls asleep immediately.
Me? I'm about ready to drop, but I'm waiting for Faith. It's the very least I can do.
I wait for what seems like hours, wishing I had a cigarette or something to pass the time.
Suddenly I hear yells, and the Frog brothers come into view.
Only the Frog brothers.
Running like the Devil himself was after them.
I can't breath, can't speak. I run to meet them.
"Where's Faith?"I ask desperately.
I slosh petrol liberally all over the walls of the cave, then turn my attention to the vamps. I know they're gonna wake up. Three against one. Not great odds, but I've managed before.
I make sure the white-blonde with the spikey hair gets it full in the face, from B's description he has to be David, the leader. It will be much easier to take out the pack if the leader's dead.
David opens his eyes and lets out a yell that chills me to the core. I let go of the makeshift ladder and drop to the floor of the cave, hoping to get an edge on them speed-wise. Mid fall I remember they can fly.
I hit the ground like a ton of bricks. I was too scared to cushion my fall. I hear something pop in my knee but don't have the time to care. I scramble to my feet and lunge at the tunnel leading out.
I almost make it, but David catches my ankle, I graze my chin on the rocks but don't turn round. I kick out and manage to get him in the face through luck rather than skill. I use my foot on his face as leverage and swing myself into the tunnel.
The crosses the Frogs piled up are slowing them down, but not much. My panicked exit scattered most of them.
My heart is pounding so hard I know they can hear. This isn't adrenalin, this is fear. I've never cared before, but now I have B to live for, these fuckers are not going to screw things up for us now.
I'm crawling as fast as I can, but I hear the gang close at my heels. I stop and smash my foot into David's face again. I hear him yell in rage rather than pain. Wonderful, I gave up a few valuable seconds lead to anger an already irate vampire.
The stink of vampires and gasoline is overpowering, made worse by the trail of petrol-soaked paper left by the Frogs.
Suddenly the crawl space opens out and I'm able to stand. David grabs me by the throat and I have a single beautiful thought: I died for you, B.
Milliseconds later my Slayer instinct kicks in. I can't breathe, but I reach in my pocket and bring out my lighter.
I get to the cave just as a fireball sweeps through the tunnel.
My Faith is nowhere to be seen.
I let out a scream and it mingles with the sounds coming from the dying Lost Boys, my tears are flowing swiftly. I'm heading towards the cave, ignoring the restraints of the Frogs. Even if Faith's dead, she's not staying here. She's a hero. She's my hero.
I have a water pistol loaded with holy water in one hand and a stake in the other, just in case. Suddenly there's a movement from the opening.
She's on fire.
There's more movement in the cave, the Frogs reach Faith first, smothering the flames with their jackets.
David stumbles into the main cave. All my rage is unleashed on him. "Ooh, you're on fire. Want me to put you out?"I aim the water pistol and fire. I'm disgusted by the site of his flesh peeling away from his long-dead skull.
"You fucker!"I scream, stalking towards him with my stake. "You tried to kill my Faith. You good for nothing rotten blood-sucking son of a bitch!"I ram the stake through his heart and enjoy the site of his immolated spasming corpse.
I rush to Faith's side, and take her hand. "Faith?"
"Right here, B."
"Are you ok?"What a stupid fucking question. She's been on fire.
"Five by five."She replies.
The Frogs carry Faith to the van, and I drive at breakneck speed towards the nearest hospital. No-one comments on my awful driving.
"You're very lucky you were wearing so many layers, the burns are only superficial."The doc grins at me. I don't feel very lucky, I've lost a load of hair, my hands are a charred mess and my body's got that too hot, itchy feeling about it.
Then again, the way that B's looking at me, maybe I am lucky.
She strokes my face with a cool hand. "I was so scared."
"Me too."I want to stroke her hand, but I can't because mine hurt too much, so instead I lean into her hand more.
She turns to the to doc, "Can I take her home?"
"I'd prefer it if she stayed overnight for observation."
"You'd prefer? Meaning you can't make her stay?"
"I strongly advise…"
"So Faith can come home?"She cuts him off.
The doc gives up and nods, muttering something about prescriptions.
"Good. I'm not letting you out of my sight again."
"I don't even get to pee in private?"I ask, it's not my funniest moment, but B cracks up. I love to hear her laugh.
B winces in the sunlight as she helps me into the van. I take a look at her, and to be honest, she looks worse than I do.
"You ok, B?"
"Home, then talk."She replies. I'll take that as a no then.
Star and Laddie are still zonked in the back. Edgar and Alan are still here, I'm kinda touched. I can tell they don't really like either B or myself that much, but they're still her.
They regard me for a long time, then Alan finally speaks for the both of them. "Your bravery is unsurpassed. No wonder you're a Slayer."
"She's the best."B agrees.
I manage a grin. It's nice to be a hero.
"I'm still…"I can't quite finish the sentence.
Faith looks at Star. "Me too, and Laddie."She confirms.
We're all slumped in the room at our hotel. When you fit six people in a double room you realise how small the room is.
Faith eases herself back on the bed and I quickly try to arrange pillows around her, I get trapped between Faith and the wall and don't even consider moving myself. Faith leans back against me and I stroke her face.
"There must still be one more."The Frogs decided.
"At least."Faith says.
"Well,"I say, "At least you bumped off the four of them, it's a good start."
"Four?"Edgar, Alan and Faith respond in unison.
"Uh-uh, girlfriend, there were three."
"So who didn't get dead?"I ask.
Star finally contributes to the conversation. "David, you killed."She nods at me. "The others, Paul has long blonde hair, Dwayne has long dark hair and Marko has blonde curls. Which one was missing?"
"Curly."Faith replies instantly. "I got a good look at all of them while I was swimming in petrol. Not a hint of a curl on any of them."
"Marko was the head vampire?"Star looks confused.
"Unlikely."I dismiss the thought instantly. "They followed David's lead on everything, he had to be answering to a higher power."
"So how do we find this higher power?"Alan asks.
"We find Marko and ask him nicely."I reply. "In a way, it's a good thing he wasn't there."
"Which begs the question, where was he?"Faith asks.
"They don't always come back to the cave."Laddie pipes up. "Dwayne told me that they have places they can go if they're too far from the cave before sunrise."
"So, we find him, we torture him, we get answers, we kill him, we kill the higher power. Sounds easy enough."Faith over-simplifies again.
I trace the contours of her face, barely noticing anyone else in the room. "Cool, except I've never felt less like Slaying in my life."
She looks up at me, partially upside down, and kisses one of my fingers that strays close to her mouth. "Sooner we do it the sooner we can get back to normal."
"Normal would be good."
"Let's get some rest and we'll meet up just before sundown."Faith suggests. "I think our halves are about to spark out. We'll meet you outside your shop."
The Frogs nod and leave.
Star and Laddie curl up on the floor, already half asleep. Faith and I arrange ourselves on the bed spoon-like.
Faith, strangely, falls asleep before I do. I listen to her even breathing, see her smile and her eyelids flutter and I'm glad she's having a good dream. I stroke her face some more, I can't seem to stop myself, she's just so beautiful. She smiles at my touch. I rest my head on her back and wish I could stay like this forever.
I could stay awake just to hear you breathing
I don't wanna close my eyes
Lying close to you
I don't wanna close my eyes
I don't wanna miss one smile
I wake up, unused to having arms around me as I sleep. B's curled up against my back, a small smile on her face. I take a look round, Star and Laddie are still zonked, but there's a few more moments of sunlight. They should be coming to any minute.
Even as I think this B stirs behind me.
I wriggle round to face her fully, trying to neither use my hands or squash hers, which are still looped around me.
"Hey,"she says in a lazy voice that just oozes sexiness.
"Hey yourself. How are you feeling?"
"Good, for once. It's nice not to be bothered by the light. I'm feeling quite strong. But forget that, how are you?"
"Itchy."I respond. "Don't get burned, it sucks."
"We've probably got time if you want to take a cool shower."
I probably need one after being so close to B for so long. "It might help."
"Faith?"She strokes my face again, and I immediately abandon thoughts of moving.
"Yeah?"My voice wobbles embarrassingly.
"I… uh…"she bites her lip as if trying to work out how to say something.
I lightly run a finger over her cheekbone. "Yeah?"
She leans closer to me, our faces are only an inch apart, her fingers restlessly roam across my face.
"I…"her voice is nothing more than a throaty whisper.
I move a fraction closer.
"What time is it?"Star's voice breaks the moment, and B and I leap apart.
I shoot her a mildly hairy eyeball and head for the shower, my head and heart pounding from the closeness of B.
I glare at Star and she, understandably, looks confused. She doesn't realise she burst in and destroyed possibly the most exciting moment in my life. I was definitely about to kiss Faith.
I've never felt so intensely excited, scared and exhilarated in my life. Sex with Angel never made me feel this intense. I'm not saying that moment was better than sex with Angel, then again, I'm not saying it's not, I'm just saying the intensity of the feeling was far greater.
How on earth did I manage to ignore how much I love her? And for so long?
Even now I'm smiling. I hear the rush of the shower, and faintly I can hear Faith humming that song from Armageddon.
The shower stops. "B!"She calls through the door.
"Can I borrow you for a second?"
For a lifetime, Faith. "Sure."
I enter the bathroom and Faith is wearing nothing but a towel. The thought makes me blush. "What can I do for you?"I ask.
She then blushes and hides her face in her hair. "Um, bandages. Can you put them back on for me?"
"Sure."I'm feeling very warm, and it has nothing to do with the cloudy condensation in here.
Faith takes a seat on the edge of the tub and I kneel in front of her. Will you marry me? pops into my head.
"Gonna propose?"Faith asks.
I giggle, wondering if she could read my mind. She joins in, and again I think how good it sounds, she should definitely do it more often.
"Did you put that antiseptic cream on?"
Faith rolls her eyes at me.
"Oh, yeah, I forgot. You're too hard to need cream and painkillers."I say, as I reach into the cabinet for the cream. It kinda looks like Vaseline with pink flecks. "Pretty cream."I tell her.
"Fine."She holds out her hands to me. "Cream me."
I flash her a look and we both crack up again.
I start on her hands, rubbing the cream in gently, making sure that I miss nothing and that I don't put too much pressure on the scars and blisters that are marring the most beautiful hands I've ever seen. More so because these scars are because of me. She injured herself for me.
Faith lets out a slow shaky breath.
"Did I hurt you?"I quickly question.
"No… feels nice, cold."Her voice sounds hazy, like she's not quite here.
I look at her hands again, they're shaking. But so are mine. I'm finding it hard to breathe, my heart is pounding so hard. I reach for the bandages, trying to stop my hands shaking.
I start at her wrist and begin to loop the bandage around, one finger holding the padding between the blisters and the bandage in place. She was so lucky, she had so much petrol that had rubbed off onto her, and she's alive. Being a Slayer must have helped, I can see that some of her is already healing, but knowing Faith it's pure determination that's making her heal so fast.
"All done."I trail a finger down her arm, it's still slightly damp from the shower. I'm reluctant to leave. "Anything else I can do? Dry your hair?"Dry your hair?
"I'm fine, B."She give me a lovely smile. "But thanks."
I exit the bathroom and find Laddie and Star staring at me. "Bandages."I explain.
"I didn't know you were involved."Star says.
I consider telling her that we're not. But don't want to. I'm quite happy having people think that Faith's my lover.
"I mean, I saw you with Marko, and Faith was… I mean, I thought Faith…"She trails off and bows her head so she's hidden by her brown curls.
Faith hit on Star? I didn't think Star was her type, I didn't even think Star was. My gaydar sucks. I mean, I missed Willow despite all the obvious signs and the way she used to go all blushy when she talked about Tara.
No, actually, I deliberately ignored it. I saw it coming, I just didn't want to. If my best friend could be gay and it be ok, then so could I, and like the coward I was, I didn't want to be. I was already strange enough with the Slayer thing, I didn't want anything else to make me different.
God, I was such a baby. I'll never regret coming to Santa Carla, no matter what. At least I finally know, and not only accept, but embrace the fact that I love Faith.
Besides, I'm not the only Slayer.
I'm not even the only gay Slayer.
I'm still shaking as I get dressed. I'm scared to think it, but I might actually get what I want. B was shaking too as she bandaged my hands, there's something in the air between us. I'm not just imagining it this time. I hope anyway.
No, I can't be. There's too many signs, the hugs, the touching, the small kisses that just aren't necessary between people who are just friends and that moment before Star woke up. I'm beginning to think that I didn't imagine that ‘love you' earlier today.
And I'm shaking like a girl on her first date. I'm scared. I'm terrified. I was in lust with her when my Watcher first told me about her, I fell in love with her a couple of moments after meeting her. Because for so long I've wanted her, and that was my only plan, now I might get her my life plans are destroyed.
I never thought I might actually get her. I'm scared of the darkness inside of me, I'm scared of hurting her, physically, emotionally, whatever. I've nearly wrecked her life so many times, just think of the damage I could do if she loves me. Before I merely pissed her off, this time I could kill her.
Ok, deep breath. One thing at a time. We get B back to a fully fledged human, then I sort out my love life.
I strut out of the bathroom, tip B a wink and send a vague grin in the direction of Star and Laddie. "C'mon Ladies, and Gent. Let's go find Marko."
"It's the first time we've come down here without the Boys."She replies happily. "We're getting our first taste of freedom."Star squeezes my arm. "Thank you."
B possessively takes my hand. I flash her a look. She crinkles her eyebrows at me, the smiles. Jealous, B? I wonder. I squeeze her hand, then remember the burns. I let out a strangled squeak, and decide it would be less painful to put my arm around her shoulders.
"I'm sorry!"She looks horrified. "I forgot."
"It's ok. I forgot too."
She loops her arm around my waist and we continue walking.
The Frog brothers are deeply unimpressed with our timekeeping skills. We promised to be here just before sundown, and we're over an hour late. Faith's making apologies and Star and Laddie are looking round excitedly, like kids at Christmas. They've probably been on this Boardwalk every night of their lives for the last two months or so, but they're acting as if everything is brand new to them.
I'm just standing here, enjoying the sensation of Faith's arm around me, deeply proud of the fact people are mistaking us for a couple.
I move my hand a little and let my fingers tickle her hip, I remember that's she's got a bee tattooed on that hip and smile some more. She flashes me a quick grin and turns back to the Frogs.
"So, does anyone have any idea where we might find Marko?"She asks. "Star, you've been in the gang the longest, any thoughts?"
She shakes her head regretfully, "They never told me anything, because I wasn't one of them."
"Oh well, it's dark, I'm guessing he'll be out feeding to build up his strength."
"He might be at the cave."I say suddenly. "We're dim. We should have waited at the cave for him to come back."
"Urgh!"Faith smacks the side of her head, then moans as her hand reminds her it's been burnt very recently. "I'll go. I'll drive up there and see if he's lurking."
"I'm going with you."I pipe up instantly.
"There's no need, B."
"Remember in the hospital, I said I wasn't going to let you out of my sight. I'm not going back on it."
"We're coming too."Star agrees. "We know the cave better than you."
"It's not necessary, we're Slayers."Faith points out, then turns on the Frogs. "Please don't say you're coming too."
"We'll keep an eye on the Boardwalk."Alan replies, eyeing her warily. I'm guessing he's learnt not to disagree with Faith when she makes her mind up.
"You should stay with us."Edgar tells Star and Laddie. I guess both Frogs got a lesson from Faith.
Star looks imploringly at Faith but she shakes her head. "Me and B have been doing this for years. Why don't you and Laddie go enjoy yourselves?"
The look on Star's face is half dismay, half relief.
"Looks like it's just you and me girlfriend."I say, using my new favourite Faith-ism.
"That's just the way I like it."She tells me as we start back to the van.
We find Marko with no trouble at all. He's standing over David's charred remains, with a stunned look on his face.
"Hey vamp."I cordially greet him.
He turns to face me in fang. "You did this?"He's shaking with anger.
I smile, and he lunges at me, I'm ready for him, but he doesn't make it because B sloshes holy water in his face. He reaches up to cover his face, I'm impressed to see that his skin is simply dissolving at the touch of holy water.
I knock out his legs from under him and he hits the ground like a ton of bricks.
B approaches with a length of rope.
We tie Marko to a chair, all the while he's cursing us all for destroying his pack.
So this is the one that nailed B. I don't get it. I've seen her exes, they all have a tall, dark, broodiness to them. The guy is short, blonde and I don't think I've seen anyone less pouty, except for maybe Xander.
Not that Marko's at his most perky right now.
"Marko, let's cut to the chase,"B says. "Who's the head vampire?"
"I don't know."
"Think he's lying?"She asks me.
"Dunno, I thought vamps were known for their trustworthiness."I tip her another wink.
"What are you going to do? Kill me?"He attempts a contemptuous laugh, and nearly makes it.
"Eventually."I say. "But the question is, what shall we do in the mean time? B?"
"How about this?"She tosses me a cross, and I press it into Marko's cheek. He yells and curses a little.
I see B wince, and worry, I'm only getting warmed up, and she's already getting guilt about it.
"B, wanna take a step back?"I ask, giving her a look so she knows what I'm asking.
"You're so much better at this than me."She reaches in my pocket for a cigarette. "Think I'll just smoke this and watch and learn."She comes across as a total hard bitch, but I see her hands shake.
Poor B, she's not cut out for torture. It's not her style. She's got too much of a conscience to deal with it, even against evil. She kills ‘em quick and moves on. After this I'm definitely taking a leaf out of her book.
I take a seat on the couch where I first drank the ‘wine' they gave me. Where Marko first kissed me. Where I became a half vampire. I'm half vamp, half Slayer, and I'm beginning to understand how Angel feels. It's all too easy to give into your darker side.
I could have really got off on torturing Marko, but I didn't want that feeling. I'm just going to watch Faith. Not what she's doing, but just her, the lines of her body, the way her hair falls in her face unevenly, the little changes in her expressions, everything about her has so much grace and beauty.
In a few moments I'm back to myself. Faith has saved me so many times recently, and she only knows about half of them.
Faith's got a determined look on her face. Marko still claims he doesn't know who the head vamp is. Now, either Marko is part of an honourable (snort) pack, who won't give each other up, even if death is the price, or he genuinely doesn't know.
Either way, he isn't going to live much longer. Me, I'd have lied by now, anything to stop the pain. Faith's having fun with the holy water and crosses now. Marko's not having fun.
Faith steps away from him, lets him catch his breath, metaphorically speaking, of course. She digs in her bag of tricks and brings out a knife, a can of petrol and a box of matches.
"You ever see Reservoir Dogs?"She asks him in a throaty voice that drives me wild.
"Except in the film,"she continues. "It was a good guy strapped to the chair, and a bad guy torturing him, with no motive. But me, I'm one of the good guys, so's she."She points in my direction. "And you're just a pathetic vampire with a really outdated hairstyle. My motive for torturing you is because you turned B. Right now, I really believe that you genuinely don't know who the head vampire is, but I really don't care."
She leaps forward and the knife flashes, blood pours down Marko's cheek. It's not a deep cut, but enough for the blood to really flow.
I bite back my urge to feed by focusing on Faith. I light another cigarette.
"You still with me, girlfriend?"She asks me.
"You're dykes?"Marko momentarily forgets his pain by this new development.
"Yes."I reply before Faith can. "She's the jealous type, what can I say?"
Faith gives me this look that pretty much makes me fly, it's a mixture of happiness, pride and disbelief.
She turns back to Marko.
"Faith, not the ear thing."I say. "That gave me a wiggins for weeks."
"You just got lucky."She tells Marko. "Well, luckier."She empties the petrol all over him.
"Why not?"I ask.
"I don't wanna burn, man."
"The head vampire."I remind him impatiently. "Tell us who he is and you get a stake through the heart instead of being immolated."
"I don't know anything about him. I swear. David didn't tell us anything."Marko is trying to chair-walk away from me. He's not making much progress. "C'mon. Let me go. If I knew, I'd tell you."
"And even if you did tell me, I'd still kill you."I reply with a laugh. "What do you think, B?"
She inhales deeply on her cigarette and breathes it out slowly as she walks over to me. "This is boring the hell out of me."She tells me. "The way I see it is we could either stay here and do more of the torture, or we could admit defeat and have a wicked-hot bonfire."
"Your call, B."I loop an arm around her waist. I can't believe my voice is coming out so smoothly. B's admitted she's having feelings for me, told Marko that I'm hers, and I'm still standing, I feel like I'm about to collapse. She's even using my sayings.
B turns her attention to Marko. "I've got a couple of things to say. First of all, you're not my type, I like brunettes, female ones. Second, she,"a quick nod in my direction, "makes me quiver just by saying my name, you couldn't ever have that effect on me no matter what you did."
She takes my arm, and leads me out of the cave.
"B?"I gesture at Marko.
"Oh yeah."She takes another lug on the cigarette, then flicks it at him. It ain't pretty.
I lean against the van, unable to stand anymore. This week has been way too intense for even me.
"You ok?"B asks, full of concern.
"Five by five."I reply on auto-pilot.
"Really?"She kneels in front of me and strokes my face.
"This week…"I tail off and take a deep breath. "Jeez, I know it's important, but this is one hell of a way for me to finally become your friend."
"Friend?"She laughs. "Yeah right."
"What?"I flinch. I can't take this. Rejection from B, I should be used to it by now, but not this week. Not after so much has happened. Not when I've had my hopes built up so far.
"Faith, we're not friends."
I bite my lip hard, too shattered by the revelation to even move, but I can feel the tears building up.
"We'll never be friends."She continues. "We'll be in love until it kill us."
I look at her to see if she's joking, but instead I see her face crumple, my silence wasn't the right answer to her statement.
"I mean, I will be, if you…"She tails off, and moves to get up.
I grab her arm. "B?"My voice is unbelievably shaky. "I love you too."
"I love you so much."She tells me.
My tears are flowing now, but they're happy tears. I'm so pathetic. I think I'm gonna die of happiness when her lips touch mine, hesitant at first, then growing more confident.
I'm still shaking. I was shaking so much that Faith had to help me get dressed. I keep looking at her and reminding myself that she's my girlfriend. I want to scream it from the rooftops.
"C'mon, beautiful, we'd better get back to the Boardwalk. They'll think we've been abducted by aliens."
I take her hand and she leads me to the van. "My tattoo."I say suddenly. "There are two symbols for Faith, one's religious, the other isn't. I've got the one that isn't."
Her face lights up and I'm glad that I told her.
"This day gets better and better."
"It's night actually."I tell her as we climb into the van.
I put my hand on her leg as she drives, enjoying the fact that we're now official. She's mine, and I'm never letting her go. She turns to smile at me so often I'm convinced we're gonna have an accident before we get back.
"You should definitely do that more often."
"What?"She quirks an eyebrow at me. "That? I was planning on it."
I giggle. "Good. Me too, but what I actually meant was smile. You've got a beautiful smile. I want to see it more often."
She smiles shyly at me. Faith always amazes me, I always think I've seen all of her expressions, but there's always one more. This one's absolutely amazing. She looks totally innocent. Well, as innocent as an ex-rogue Slayer who just tortured a vampire then ravished the other Slayer for a couple of hours in one night can get.
Edgar is looking pretty trashed himself. He's covered in ugly bruises and there's a long cut down the right side of his face. He pulls us to the side, out of hearing distance of the cop and his parents.
"What happened?"Faith finds her voice first.
"Head vampire, he brought friends."
"Where are the others?"I ask, knowing it's a redundant question.
"Took ‘em. Star, Laddie and Alan. We've gotta find them. He's my younger brother."I've never seen Edgar so animated. He's keeping a lid on it, but he's panicking. I know how he feels, I'd feel exactly the same if someone took Dawn.
"We'll get them back."I tell him reassuringly, putting a hand on his arm.
He shakes it off. "Where the hell were you? You went to find a vampire, you were gone for hours! Did you even find out where his lair is?"
Faith and I look at each other wordlessly. We spent excess time torturing a vampire, even though he didn't know a thing, then we spend several hours making love, and now three of our friends had been kidnapped, and we could have stopped it.
"Did you recognise him?"B asks Edgar. "I mean, this is your town."Her voice has a slightly petulant edge.
I know how she feels. We put our friends in danger because our hormones kicked in. I mean, I've been dealing with my feelings for B as long as I've known her, and she's been dealing at least as long as we've been in Santa Carla, but god! Why should we wait? I've loved her forever, why couldn't I just have her?
"Yeah, I think he was the old guy who ran the video store."Edgar replies.
This is possibly the best news I've had all day. Ok, scratch that, it doesn't even come close, but all the same, it's good.
"I've got a plan."I tell them, and I'm relieved to find out that I'm not lying. I turn to B. "I need money, got any?"
We all turn out our pockets and I find I have precisely two dollars, thirty-seven cents. Luckily B and Edgar hand over some serious money. "Cheers,"I pocket the cash. "Back in a second."
I see B's face light up as I walk back. Damn, I'm gonna have to buy that girl flowers when we're done.
Edgar's face does not light up. I'm guessing he's not happy about handing over his hard earned wages to a chick who's just bought flowers with it. Especially since his brother's missing too.
"Do you know the guys name? The one from the video store?"I ask him quickly, cutting off any questions.
"Max or Mike or something."He says.
"Be more specific."I order, trying to sound stern, while B sidles closer to me, eyeing the roses. "Not for you."I tell her. She pouts for a moment, then decides to distract herself with stroking my back. Damn it, she's distracting me too.
Edgar heads back into the shop without a word, I hurry after him, assuming that he's royally pissed at me. I don't blame him, if I were in his shoes I'd be pissed off with me and B. Why do I get exactly what I want at the wrong time?
Edgar routes around in a drawer behind the counter and finally comes up with a business card. He hands it to me wordlessly. I read it quickly. "You're sure it was him?"I question.
"Yes!"He shouts. "I wasn't the one slacking off!"
I guess we deserved that. "We'll get your brother back."B assures him.
"You'd better."He replies, then directs his next comment at me. "Because if I don't, you're girlfriend's the next one to have a stake through her heart."
I believe him. He really means it. "I won't let you down."I tell him.
The badge on her left breast reads ‘Maria', I'm not sure if that's the name of her left breast or her in total, but wing it.
"You're Maria?"I ask as if I know what I'm talking about. "Is Max around?"
She looks me up and down. "No."
"When will he be back?"I brandish the flowers.
"Damn! Some lady is paying me twenty bucks to hand deliver these."
"Well, you can leave them here."Maria turns her attention back to the magazine hidden under the counter.
"Uh-huh."I say emphatically. "Payment on delivery."
She rolls her eyes at me. "You've delivered them here."Eyes flick straight back to the mag.
Luckily I planned for this, I'm not even slightly phased. "Lady gave me a note. Wants a reply, good or bad. When she gets a reply I get my money."
"Just leave them here, and deliver the note tomorrow."She says, totally uninterested. I don't think she's got a single clue that Max is a vamp, she's just one of those girls who can't be bothered to do a single thing that's not listed in her job description. Looking at her, I bet she's reluctant to even do the things that are.
"And miss out on twenty bucks? No way."Hell, I'm beginning to believe me. "C'mon, I need the money, I don't have a job like you do."Technically I'm not lying, I don't have a job. I have a calling.
She sighs deeply, but doesn't move her gaze from the magazine.
"Look at me."I command. "All I want to do is deliver some flowers and a note and get paid. What do you think I'm gonna do? I'm a pathetic five feet five, and kinda skinny. What am I gonna do? Steal something? Off him? Please."I issue a contemptuous laugh. All this lying ain't gonna get me to heaven. "In fact, should I be worried about going to his place all by myself?"Uh-oh, that may have just convinced her not to give me the address… but no, she's scrawling something down on an old receipt.
"That's his address, but you didn't get it from me, right?"
I mime drawing a zip across my lips. "Thanks, I really need this."I tell her honestly.
She finally smiles back at me.
Faith comes out smiling and motions that we follow her. A safe distance from the shop she turns to us. "Got the address."She tells us. She breaks off a rose and tucks it behind my ear, Edgar makes a disgusted noise.
Faith hands him the rest of the roses. "Give these to your Mom and tell her that Alan will be back soon."
"No way, I'm coming with."He replies.
"We can handle this."I say.
"C'mon Edgar."Faith wheedles. "We're Slayers, we're used to this."
"Yeah, that's exactly what you said before my brother and the two half vamps got taken. What were you two doing - no I don't want to know!"
He makes a valid point, and both Faith and I wince.
Faith's got that look she used to wear just before she hooked up with the mayor, it's equal parts guilt, misery and anger.
I speak up quickly. "Ok, we screwed up. I screwed up. If I hadn't been stupid enough to get vamped this wouldn't be happening. You can say what you like, but say it to me, Faith's done nothing wrong."I strangely feel better. I owe Faith, remember the human-staking? I was there too, but what did I do? Sweet F A. I let Faith take the whole blame when I could have admitted part of it. Somehow I'm making it up to her now. "You can come too, but don't jump straight into the fray. Let me and Faith distract him, you wouldn't believe the beating we can live through."
"Fine, but if anything happens to Alan…"
"It won't."Faith assures him.
We make a quick weapons stop then walk in silence towards Max's house. Faith takes my hand and squeezes it. I notice that her burns are almost gone. I could believe it's the Slayer healing that's kicked in, but I think it was me. God, that sounds narcissistic. What I mean is, the love I feel for Faith far surpasses the strength of a Slayer.
She glances at her hands and back to me. A small smile from her lets me know she's thinking the same thing.
Edgar looks at us. "What's the plan?"
Don't die springs to mind as my plan, but I'm hoping Faith has come up with something better.
She turns to us. "I go in, I keep him distracted, B you get Star and Laddie, Edgar, you get Alan."
"That's your plan?"Edgar and I ask in unison.
How on earth did this happen? A week ago I was a closeted, non-vamp type human being. Now here I am, half vamp, with a girlfriend, and more than anything, I'm agreeing with Edgar Frog.
"Oh, there was one other part,"she smiles at us. "Don't get dead."
I know B's not too pleased with the plan, but none of us could come up with a better one. All these years of practice and still all we have is the element of surprise.
I walk swiftly up to the door and ring the bell. It plays a funky little tune, but it's off key. I realise it's the funeral march. Quirky guy, this Max.
A vamp my age opens the door and glares at me suspiciously, he's not in vamp form, but I can just tell. "Yes?"
"Here to see Max."I tell him.
"He's not expecting visitors."
I whip out a stake and slam it through his heart. "Then I'll gatecrash."I mutter, waiting for him to dust.
He doesn't dust.
Oh fuck, not again, whizzes through my brain before he vamps out, falls to the floor and starts spasming and screaming. So much for the element of surprise.
B ditches her side of the plan and rushes to my side, Edgar remains where he is. I make a point of not looking at him as we enter the building.
I'm mentally berating B for rushing over, but secretly pleased she cares so much. To justify this though, she whispers almost to softly for my Slayer hearing to pick up, "Not letting you get hurt again for me, my love."
The house is strangely quiet. And seemingly empty. Ok, so it's a big fat trap. Great. I'm as tense as hell waiting for the ambush and if someone coughed near me I might just launch into outer space.
"Where's Alan?"B asks as we rush to untie them.
Don't let him be dead. Or a vamp. I think. Edgar's sanity and my girlfriend's life rides on it. And if anyone hurts B there's no telling what I might do.
Star mumbles something unintelligible around the tape over her mouth and she shakes her hair out of her face, and I notice a bump the size of a basketball on her forehead, a quick check on Laddie shows he's wearing its identical twin. Poor kid. He's only little.
I fight with the knots, B's having trouble too.
"Knife would be good."She mutters.
"On it."I reach into my pocket and rummage around for what feels like hours and finally find my tiny pocket knife. A dribble of sweat runs down my back, we've been here far too long. Any minute now…
I pass the knife to B, she's my priority and she's helping Laddie, who's only half our age. Star's eyes widen in horror. "What? It was a judgement call."I tell her then realise her terrified look has nothing to do with my choice.
This realisation is followed quickly with a blow to my head that makes me see not just stars, but planets, constellations, the whole nebulae. Then darkness.
"Faith!"I scream. I'm torn in half. Part of me wants to go to her, the other knows the Slayer handbook. Save the civilians first.
I take a good look around the room, trying to get a look at what knocked Faith out. Star's anguished moans and a bit of Slayer instinct make me duck and cover Laddie's body with my own. A rush of air ruffles my clothes, but nothing hits me.
I work with Faith's knife, freeing Laddie, with one eye on Star knowing she'll alert me to another attack.
She screams again, I duck but my reflexes have slowed down. Something solidly connects with my back and I slam into a wall. Looks like I'm gonna have a bump on my head just like everyone else.
I get up slowly and rip the gag off Star, I hand Laddie the knife and tell him to free Star.
"Stop playing games. Let's settle this."I call out, and duck instantly when I hear a whooshing sound. Nothing hits me, my clothes don't even ruffle. I realise I wasn't the target.
I watch in horror as my Faith is lifted from the ground. I finally get a look at this Max guy. He reminds me a bit of the Mayor. His face screams ‘family guy', but underneath it he's just as freaky as every other political hag.
"Let her go!"I scream. He's holding her loosely, one arm around her waist, one hand around her throat. I don't know what I'll do if she di… I'm not having that thought.
"Oh, Slayer, play nice. You've killed four of my boys, and you rejected the gift of eternal life we gave you, I think it's time for payback."He grins down at me, his hand tightening about her neck. "One quick twist…"
I feel sick. "Take me!"I scream. "I'm the cause of this. Take me."
"Take you?"He laughs and it sickens me. "As you so rightly said, Slayer, you're the cause of all this. Why should I let you off with death, when I can enjoy your pain as you friend dies?"
"Fly."Star whispers to me.
"Besides,"Max continues. "I will kill you both."
I'm about to try that when Max yells, "Boys!"and a flood of angry vampires swarm in.
Jesus, there's about forty.
I take a good look around, and have only one though, and that is: I'm gonna die.
I may have exaggerated when I thought there were forty vamps, but not much.
I take a look at Star, who grabs Laddie and takes to the air.
"Thanks a lot, Star!"I yell, more than a little pissed off with her, and more that a lot scared for me and Faith.
A vamp lunges for me before any more thoughts can be processed. I go into auto-pilot, staking, ducking, hitting and kicking. I'm kinda disgusted that these vamps don't dust, they smoosh and spasm. Ick. But no time for that. I'm pummelling and staking, trying to keep one eye on Max, who's lost interested in Faith, and is watching me kill ‘his boys' with amusement.
I've somehow got cornered. I snap the neck of a nearby vamp wondering how the hell I'm gonna get out of this to save Faith.
"Help me, Star! You god damned fucking waste of space!"I scream in frustration. She looks terrified, right now I couldn't give a shit.
Star flies out of the window.
Jesus. Holy fucking god. I'm gonna die. Faith is going to die.
I wonder who the next Slayer will be. Will she be good?
I hurl myself at the mob of vampires savagely, ripping, staking, maiming and killing.
A vamp steals my stake. "What you gonna do now, blondie?"He asks, gloatingly.
"Improvise."I reply instantly, thrusting my hand into his chest and grabbing his heart. The vamp gives me a look of amazement that actually makes me laugh before falling to the floor dead. Without spasming.
I reclaim my stake. "Anyone else wanna call me blondie?"I ask challengly.
I wake up feeling like shit. With a feeling that something's very wrong. When I open my eyes it all becomes clear. There's nothing right about being ten feet off the ground in the arms of a Head Vampire while your lover fights several dozen vamps alone.
Where the fuck is Star? Why isn't she helping. I want to rub my eyes but I don't want his Royal Vampiness to notice I'm awake. I need to get my bearings before I jump into the fray.
I watch with pride as my girl rips out the heart of a vamp who stole her stake. I see that B has her game face on, I hate to admit it, but she looks hot as a vampire.
She's doing a great job, but she's heavily outnumbered. I'm not gonna let my girlfriend get hurt.
Something whizzes through the air and hits the vamp to the side of B, it explodes and both B and the vamp wince as the liquid hits them. Holy water I realise. I note the source, Edgar, Star and Laddie are standing in the doorway with an entire arsenal of vamp weaponry.
Now would be a good time to make a move.
Ok, I've got two options. I can either try to kill Max, or just make him drop me.
Well, I'm not sure I can kill him, at least, not before he kills me up here with no leverage and no weapons.
I slam my head back with amazing force so it collides with his face, at the same time reaching my hand around to grab his crotch and start crushing. Then just to be spiteful, I dig my nails in.
Max bellows with rage and pain, and - wa-hay - drops me. A lowly vamp cushions my fall. "Thanks pal."I tell him, punching him in the face. "You saved my ass."I snap his neck and move on to the next.
My heart again fills with pride when I see the amount of vampy corpses on the floor. My girl is the best.
We're still heavily outnumbered and some of these guys can actually fight. And worse of all Max is really pissed off at us right now.
My head aches and there's a million tiny demons inside my head, clogdancing no less. I fight my way over to B. This is the way it's supposed to be, the chosen two, fighting side by side.
Except one of the chosen two really shouldn't have fangs.
I'm guessing Max is gonna try that swooping thing again as soon as the area clears out around us. Star stars hurling holy water bottles at him while Laddie uses a water pistol to deter vamps from getting too close to him and Star. Edgar's staking away, quick and military efficient. I'm kinda proud of them.
B turns to me. "Can you take care of yourself from here?"
"What? I guess."I reply, confused.
She takes to the air.
My girlfriend is flying.
As if she's being doing it all her life.
God, I love her.
This flying lark sucks. I haven't got a clue what I'm doing. How does Star make it look so natural?
"That's good, Buffy, just focus!"She calls up encouragingly, as if reading my mind.
I focus on Max and find myself zooming towards him way too fast. I don't know where the brakes are and I smash into him. He makes an ‘ooofh' sound which sounds good to me.
Before he gets his bearings I clamp my hands around his neck and slam him into a wall. We leave a dent in the wall.
"Go B!"Faith shouts up to me, staking away with Edgar, Star and Laddie. I think we're finally winning.
Max's hands clamp around my throat and he slams me into the opposite wall. I hear bricks crumple as a red hot pain works it's way across my back.
I head butt Max, finding it hard to fight mid-air with nothing to lean on for leverage. My hand reaches for the stake tucked into my waistband, but he anticipates this and knocks it away.
His fingers tighten around my throat and he shakes me like a rag doll, smacking my head against the wall repeatedly. I can feel myself begin to lose consciousness. I bring my knee up between his legs sharply. A cheap shot, but who cares?
Max sinks backwards in pain, his hands loosen around my neck and I take this opportunity to get some punches in, breaking his nose, jaw and cheekbone in quick succession.
Max howls in agony, then raises his hands to his mouth. I'm guessing it hurt to howl.
I focus again, imagining I'm on solid ground, then attack again, with a flurry of punches and well placed kicks. "Stake!"I yell.
Faith finishes with the vamp she's pummelling and tosses me her stake. Stupid, what if she needs it?
I grab Max by the throat and fling him against the wall. I raise my stake. He catches my hand, the stake not even an inch away from his chest. This piece of crap isn't stopping me now though. I'm gonna finish this. I head butt him again, and slam the stake in his heart before he can even react.
I suddenly realise with Max dead I can no longer fly.
I watch my girlfriend plummet and hurl a vamp to the floor to cushion her fall. I hear a crunch and hope it was the vamp's bones, not B's. She gets to her feet and shoves a stake in the vamp's heart tiredly.
The vamps, those that haven't been staked, realise their leader is dead and begin to scarper. Edgar stakes a couple but mainly we just let them go. Vamps are like fleas, it doesn't matter how many you kill, you always miss a couple and they breed like hell.
Besides, Santa Carla has the Frogs on Vamp patrol long after B and I clear out.
"Where's my brother?"Edgar asks. I doubt he's spoken during the entire fight. Jeez, this guy makes Oz look chatty.
"Strangely, didn't get round to looking, what with being knocked unconscious and then attacked by a swarm of vamps."I reply tiredly. "Let's go find him."I sigh, wondering what's going to become of me and B now she's not vampy. As a human she might not want to be with me anymore.
We find Alan tied up in an upstairs bedroom, sleeping the sleep of those knocked unconscious by a vicious killer. I have to hide a grin. This guy has managed to sleep through the most eventful night of his life.
Laddie's got a scratch down his face, Star has a black eye and a cut on her back, which she's showing off proudly. War wounds from her first fight. Bless. I grin at her. Edgar also has a black eye and, we think, a broken finger, but no-one, including Edgar, knows quite how that happened.
B and I don't have many visible wounds, but we both feel kinda funky. B's hobbling a little, I guess being slammed into a wall wasn't good for her. I offer my arm and she takes it gratefully.
And Alan is the only one of us not covered in vamp goo. God these vamps are disgusting, why can't they just dust like Sunny D's finest?
We're an odd looking bunch as we walk home in silence.
I sling an arm around her, wondering if it will be the last night I get to call B my girlfriend. Pity, with it being the first night too. I plan to sleep for at least twenty-four hours when we get back to the hotel, then work out where I stand with B.
That plan, like many of mine, doesn't come off either.
"Miss Summers?"The clerk at the hotel calls us as we walk into the lobby. Why is he even awake now?
I prod B in the ribs and she turns to face him. "Yeah."
"Oh, Miss Summers, we've finally sorted out your rooms. I know you booked two rooms and there was a mix up, and I know we promised it would only be a day or two that you had to wait and it's been longer than that…"Wonder if he went to the Rosenberg school of babble.
"Well,"he smiles winningly at us. "We've got you another room."
"Oh yeah?"B says. My heart sinks. Human B is straight. "I think there must have been a mistake. My girlfriend and I don't want separate rooms."
"No. We're happy in one room. Besides, how are we supposed to make love if we're in separate rooms?"
The clerk blushes. I blush. B does not. She places a kiss on my lips and leads me to the elevator.
Guess human B isn't straight after all.
I don't get my twenty-four hours sleep like I planned, but B more than makes up for it. She woke me up in the best way imaginable.
As usual, we're late meeting Star, Laddie and the Frogs. It wasn't my fault, I swear. I got in the shower to get ready, then B jumped in after me… well, you can imagine what happened.
Like I can explain that to Edgar. B's just grinning like a Cheshire cat. "We, uh, overslept."I say finally. Edgar snorts, then leads the way to a café. Star and B make a major plea to sit outside in the sun. It's kinda sweet.
"So what are you going to do now?"I ask Star as we wait for our food. "You can do whatever you want."
"I'm thinking of getting a tan."She replies with a grin. "After that, who knows? Maybe we'll travel around for the rest of the summer, then I'll enrol Laddie at school. Give ‘em a story, our parents died, very tragic, just me and my brother trying to get along in the world."
"A word of advice if you're gonna travel. Avoid Sunnydale, it's worse than this place for nasties."B tells her.
"I'll bear that in mind."She ruffles Laddie's hair affectionately. I think they're gonna be ok.
"What about you two?"I ask the Frogs.
"Business as usual. Comic book store by day, vampire hunters by night."Edgar replies.
"We should talk to the Watchers Council."B says suddenly. "Maybe we could get some funding for you, after all, you're fighting a good fight."
"B, it took seven years for you to get a pay packet."I remind her.
"Well, we'll bully them."She decides.
After lunch we go our separate ways, the Frogs go back to work and Star and Laddie tactfully leave Faith and me alone, after saying they'll see us at the open air concert tonight.
Faith and I do couple-things. Things so corny you wouldn't believe, but we love it. Neither of us have been in a relationship where we can walk in the daylight together. We go on all the rides together, Faith offers to hold my hair while I puke after going on the roller coaster three times in a row, followed by the waltzers.
We tried out the amusements, annoying the hell out of the vendor by winning the star prize, a teddy bear the size of me. You know they glue the bottles down so you can't knock them over? Slayer strength is really handy in that respect.
We're so adorable it's kinda sickening.
A guy makes a comment after seeing Faith and I kiss.
"Lezzies!"He spits out.
"Yeah, and?"I reply with pride.
"It's disgusting."He tells us.
"You're just jealous ‘cos someone popped your blow-up girlfriend."Faith replies, and leads me to another ride. "Hetty."She mutters.
I give her ass a gentle tap and drag her onto a ride that's more my style. Tunnel of Love. Tacky. Corny. And I don't care.
"I met him at the video store. I was applying for a job, his Mom is acting as manager. Did you know the owner is missing?"She says innocently.
Faith and I hide a grin.
She started it.
We hug everyone and get into the van. I'm not sorry to be leaving Santa Carla. I mean, it's always gonna have an odd little place in my heart. It's where B first said she loved me, but this has been far too weird a week for me.
I can't believe this place is so fucked up that I'm actually looking forward to the ‘normalcy' of Sunny D.
B pulls away, I wave for awhile, then I put on the radio. And guess what's playing, People Are Strange. I can't help but sing along.
B glares at me. "Faith."She makes one word mean a thousand things. Nine hundred and ninety-nine of them have sexy undertones.
I widen my eyes innocently. "Yes, B?"
She glares harder, then grins. "All together now, dum da doo-doo!"
Getting back takes us an extra two hours than planned. It so wasn't my fault. B was stroking my leg when it was my turn to drive. I'm sure it looked innocent, but you didn't see the smutty look she gave me.
My libido demanded I pull over and drag B into the back of the van.
But she started it.
We enter the Magic Box. "Honey, we're home."I call.
"You're back!"Giles forgets he's a Brit and bounds over to hug me. Pauses a moment, and then hugs Faith too. She looks shocked, but pleased.
"How was the retreat?"I ask politely.
"Simply marvellous."He begins to say more, but remembers I was only being polite when I asked. "How was Santa Carla?"
"Simply not marvellous. But, nasty free now. There's a couple of freelance slayers there, do you think the Council would help them out?"I ask.
"Buffy, it took seven years for you to get a pay packet. The Council don't fund anyone."
"I told her the exact same thing, G."Faith says, reaching into her pocket and bringing out a receipt. "But is there any chance of them reimbursing me for this? We broke the bathroom lock."
"I won't ask."He replies wisely. "Why don't you go see Tara and Willow, they're in the back."
Willow jumps up and hugs me tightly. "Oh wow! You're back! It's so great. We've missed you. Or at least, when we remembered we did. Not that we forgot about you. But, you know, honeymoon. But we never forgot about you. We were busy, and I know that's a bad excuse…"She pauses, frowns at Tara. "You're supposed to stop me when I do that."
"Honey, I like your babble."Tara responds in her soft voice.
Willow turns back to me. "Can we just pretend I said a simple ‘hi' just then?"
"Done. Hi yourself."I reply. "How was the honeymoon?"
"Ooh, wonderful. We went to England, we got to see Watcher HQ. It's amazing. Kinda like The Initiative, except they've got wooden beams and white plaster where the Initiative had tin foil and metal bars. How was Santa Carla?"
"Not exactly a vacation, but it had it's good points."I gaze at Faith significantly.
"Ooh, you had a holiday romance, you vixen!"Willow says excitedly.
"Not exactly a holiday romance. More of a love thing."I tell her.
"Are you going to stay in contact?"
"Oh there will be plenty of contact."I wink at Faith, and she grins back at me.
"When are you going to see him again?"Willow has entirely missed what's going on.
"Right now. She's standing right next to me."
Willow looks to my right and sees Faith. "You're… with… but she's a she… and you're a… CONGRATULATIONS!"
"You freaked!"I say joyfully. "Ha ha! You freaked!"
"Not for as long as you freaked when I told you about Tara."She says. "Yay you!"
We hug again. "Are you a lesbian?"I turn and see Anya standing with Xander in the doorway.
"Um, yeah."I reply, wondering what her reaction will be.
"Ok everyone. Pay up."
Willow, Tara and Xander reluctantly reach for their wallets.
How come I was the last to know I was gay?