Buffy thundered down the stairs, pulling her leather coat on and checking the number of stakes hidden in its pockets. She was about to burst out the front door and escape when Mom stepped out from the living room, arms crossed, and blocked her way. Buffy paused, her muscles knotting the way they did before a fight. She couldn't meet Mom's eyes, so instead she glared at the office set-up in the living room. Fax, phone, white board, memo pads...and about a hundred "Never Again!" signs, piled around like so many accusations. Buffy wanted to snap them into splinters. Fuck MOO with their locker break-ins and their book confiscations and their fucking stupid acronym, and while she was at it, fuck Mom too.
That thought brought her up short, and Buffy tried to reason with herself. Mom thought she was doing the right thing. Mom thought this was helping. Mom was in shock, she was traumatized, she was trying to deal with a hell of a lot all at once. Buffy knew that. She wanted to understand that.
But Mom had no fucking clue how much this all hurt.
"I'm going on patrol," Buffy said, tightly. She sounded defensive and she knew it. Mom hadn't said a word, only stared at her, and she was cracking already. Fuck this. Faith was going to meet up with her, and Buffy wanted nothing more than to wrap herself in Faith's arms, to kill as many unlucky vamps as they could hunt down, and forget each and every idiotic thing MOO had done today. Except Mom had to know she was going to meet Faith, and she probably had a pretty good idea of what the two of them would get up to, and yesterday's freezing silence after the vigil didn't look like it was going to start thawing any time soon.
"I don't want you seeing that Faith anymore," Mom said.
Buffy gaped at her in disbelief. "'That' Faith? Mom!"
Mom's steady voice ran over Buffy's interruption. "She is a bad influence on you. She's wild, shameless, and the way she dresses..." Mom shook her head. "You don't know what kind of forays into the occult she's been a part of."
Buffy opened her mouth, but for a moment she couldn't think of a single thing to say. Mom had never, not once, acted so blind and bigoted and insufferable. Buffy stared at the MOO button pinned to her blouse, focusing on it, hating it, hating everything it represented. She shouldn't have to defend Faith, not to her mom. Mom was the one who'd welcomed Faith in the first place. Mom was the one who'd encouraged Buffy to invite Faith to Christmas dinner. It had been Mom and Faith together who'd planned the ski trip. It simply wasn't fair that Mom was changing, not now. She was freaking over two kids she didn't even know, letting it spill over to Buffy and Faith, and even to Willow, dragged away by Principal Snyder today for having spell ingredients in her locker.
"You're the one who ordered the raid on the school today," Buffy said, dully, saying the only thing she could that wouldn't make her burst into tears.
"Honey, they opened a few lockers," Mom said.
"Lockers, first syllable, lock," Buffy said. "They're private. You had no right--"
Mom held up a hand to stop her. "And that is beside the point. I am trying to have a discussion with you, as one adult to another--"
"And they took all of Giles' books away," Buffy said, pushing away her mom's so-called 'discussion' about Faith. It wasn't a discussion, it was an order. Buffy was not going to let Mom tear apart what she and Faith shared. She wanted to run away, find Faith, never come back...but she'd done that before, over Angel, and she knew it wouldn't work.
Mom sighed impatiently. "He'll get most of them back. MOO just wants to weed out the offensive material. Everything else will be returned to Mr. Giles soon."
"If we're gonna solve this, we need those books now," Buffy said. The books weren't the issue. Willow's aborted protection spell wasn't the issue. None of that mattered, because in the end she'd kill whatever monster was preying on Sunnydale's kids, books or no books, spells or no spells. Right now her mom was the monster, and Buffy didn't know how to fight her. She shouldn't have to fight her!
"Sweetie," Mom said, in a sickly-sweet 'I'm the parent and I know what's good for you' voice, "those books have no place in a public school library. Any student can waltz in there and get all sorts of ideas." She took a step towards Buffy, reaching out one hand to touch her arm. Buffy flinched back. "And not just students," Mom continued, pretending not to notice Buffy's reaction. "People like that Faith, who comes from who-knows-where, and has a life no one's aware of most of the time. I can't even imagine the sort of people she must associate with..." Mom studied Buffy with a worried frown. "Do you understand how that terrifies me?"
Buffy's eyes were hot, her throat filled with a choking, burning weight. "That type of people Faith associates with? I guess I'm that type of person then. That's what you're saying, isn't it?" She cut off any answer Mom might have made with a curt gesture. "Mom, I am sorry that these people scared you so much. And I know you're just trying to help. But you are going too far. You have to let me handle this--me and Faith, who is my girlfriend, who I love. We, together, are going to solve this. That is what we do."
"But is it really?" Mom asked.
Buffy blinked, holding back tears, her voice so tight she could only whisper an incredulous "What?"
Mom gave a little, apologetic shrug, full of fake concern, so fucking calm it just wasn't fair. "I mean, you patrol, you slay...Evil pops up, you undo it. But is Sunnydale getting any better? Are they running out of vampires?"
Buffy said nothing, only stared at her, like Mom was a stranger. This wasn't about vampires, or about evil. Why couldn't she see that?
"It's not your fault," Mom said, warming to her theme, smiling as she reasoned it out, eyes shining as she considered the middle distance thoughtfully. "You don't have a plan. You just react to things. It's bound to be kind of fruitless."
Anger stirred through Buffy, growing with each word out of Mom's mouth. What Mom knew about the Slaying she'd learned because Buffy loved her and wanted her not to worry. Now Mom was throwing it all back in her face, like a teacher grading her badly on a school report. Maybe Buffy wasn't prepared for everything, maybe she hadn't looked at every contingency. But this narrow-minded bullshit was the only thing Buffy hadn't seen coming. "Maybe I don't have a plan," she said bitterly. "Lord knows I don't have lapel buttons..."
Buffy shook her head, denying Mom's words. "And maybe next time that the world is getting sucked into Hell, I won't be able to stop it because you told me never to see the only person who can help me! Because you don't want your daughter to be gay!"
Mom sighed in exasperation. "I'm sorry," she said, sounding anything but. "I didn't mean to put down..."
"Yeah, well, you did." Buffy shook her head. "I have to go. I have to go on one of my pointless patrols and react to some vampires, and maybe, just maybe, have all that disgusting wild monkey sex with my girlfriend." She shoved past Mom and opened the door, then looked back one last time. "If that's alright with MOO."
Mom watched her go, but said nothing, her lips pursed tight. Buffy slammed the door, only barely able to restrain herself from smashing it to pieces behind her.
The merry-go-round in the kids' playground was covered in flowers and pictures of the dead children. The tiny flames of the guttering candles emphasized the dark night more than they illuminated the shrine. Buffy walked up to it after her patrol, studying the kids' faces. In the flickering candlelight, their eyes seemed to follow her, judging her, demanding why she hadn't saved them. She saw her mom's eyes there too, disappointed, bewildered, angry. Empty, when Buffy left her behind and refused to listen to her.
She glanced over when Faith walked out of the darkness to stand beside her. "Hi."
"Hey," Faith said.
Buffy wrapped her arms around Faith's neck and simply held her for a long moment. Some of the tension and pain of the evening melted away, and Buffy let out a long sigh, relaxing. "I love you," she murmured into Faith's shoulder.
"Love you too," Faith said. Buffy could hear the smile in her voice, as if Faith would never stop being amazed at hearing those words, or at saying them.
Buffy looked up into Faith's face, searching for a trace of that smile in her expression. Faith's dark eyes seemed very far away. "How are you?" she asked.
"I'm all right." Faith smoothed her hands down Buffy's back, one long stroke after another. Buffy sighed and settled into the touch. "I think I'm better than you right now."
They both looked over at the merry-go-round. Buffy leaned into Faith's body, meeting the dead children's eyes, getting the feeling again that the pictures were watching them. "You heard what happened at school today?"
"Yeah. Xander told me. I came looking for you..."
"Mom wanted me home straight after school." Buffy felt a touch of fury at the thought. She wouldn't let herself be controlled like that any more. She would be eighteen in a week, and she could make her own decisions. "God, Faith, I'm so sorry." She slid her hands up into Faith's hair, combing her fingers through the soft, loose strands. Faith dipped her head and kissed her, softly at first, then more hungrily. Buffy opened her mouth, accepting what Faith offered. It was easy to forget Mom when Faith's lips were so soft, her tongue exploring the sensitive places of Buffy's mouth. Buffy licked the tiny hollow in Faith's lower lip, then Faith caught her mouth again and nibbled and sucked her way across, then back again. Warmth flooded through Buffy's body, letting the fear and anger drain away, until there was nothing left but Faith's mouth, Faith's body, Faith's love.
"Let's go to your place."
Faith looked at her, one hand massaging small circles on her lower back. "Your mom okay with that?"
Buffy dropped her eyes. "Maybe I don't care if she is or not."
"Maybe I do."
Buffy felt the helpless anger breaking over her, threatening to drown her. "What does it matter to you? She's not your mother."
She knew the moment the words were out of her mouth that it was the wrong thing to say. Faith's hand stilled on her back. She hated it when anybody mentioned her family. She stared past Buffy, over her head.
"Faith, I just meant--" Buffy loosened her hold, wondering if Faith would leave now; if she'd just broken something before it had a chance to grow.
"Yeah. I know." Faith let go of her and pointed at the carousel covered in mementos. "Because she's fucking right, Buffy. About us distracting each other. We're supposed to be tracking down whoever did this, not copping a feel right in the middle of the crime scene and then ditching patrol because we wanna fuck."
Buffy bridled at Faith's emphasis on the word 'fuck', as if that's all it was. As if she wasn't risking so much to be with Faith--her entire social standing at school, her relationship with her mom--and yes, even the danger of getting caught up in each other while they were patrolling. "If you've got any leads, I'd love to hear them," she said. "I was in there today when they took Giles' books. I want to research. I want to patrol. But, as you remind me so often, that's not all there is to life. Faith, I want you, too."
"There's gotta be something we can do. Hunt a few vamps, see what they know." Faith threw up her arms. "We can't just--we can't just pretend it's all okay, B, because it's just fucking not!"
Buffy's shoulders slumped. Faith was feeling just as guilty as she was over the kids' deaths, and taking it worse. With Giles and Buffy both coaching her, Faith was becoming a better Slayer, but that meant she didn't see patrolling as only a game for her amusement anymore. Probably seeing Mom's reaction to finding the kids had made it worse, because she and Faith were starting to get closer. Faith had finally seen, up close and personal, what it was to be responsible for a death. Buffy walked over to a bench sitting near the merry-go-round and sat down, giving Faith some space.
"It's strange," she said, touching the nearest "Never Again!" sign. "People die in Sunnydale all the time. But I've never seen anything like this."
Faith shrugged. "They were kids. They never hurt anybody. It makes a difference."
Buffy gave a weak laugh. "And Mr. Sanderson from the bank had it coming?" She sighed. "My mom...said some things to me..." Buffy stopped, wondering whether to tell Faith she'd been forbidden to see her. "Some things about being the Slayer," she finished. "That it's fruitless." She waved at the shrine. "No fruit for Buffy."
Faith turned on her heel, pacing angrily. "She's wrong!" she said, nearly shouting, ignoring Buffy holding out a hand, inviting her to sit on the bench beside her.
"Is she?" Buffy asked. Faith grimaced and kept pacing. "Is Sunnydale any better than when you first came here, or since I did? I mean, we battle evil. But we don't really win. The bad keeps coming back and getting stronger. Like that kid in the story." Buffy gestured, trying to keep her train of thought from derailing. "The boy that stuck his finger in the duck."
Faith stopped pacing at that, her anger receding in an instant. Her grin flashed in the darkness. "Dike."
Buffy drew back, confused. "Like you're one to talk, Miss Really Black Pot?"
Faith stared at her in disbelief for a second and then burst out laughing. "B, tell me you learned to spell! Dike with an I, not a Y. It's another word for dam."
"Oh." Buffy felt her face going red. "Oh, okay, that story makes a lot more sense now."
Faith guffawed harder, bending over and wheezing with laughter. "I'd hate...to be the dyke...the boy tried to stick his finger in..."
Buffy rolled her eyes. Faith was holding her stomach, tears leaking out of her eyes. She stumbled over to the bench and sat down beside Buffy to support herself. "Fine, fine, laugh it up," Buffy said. "What I'm trying to say is that we never win."
Faith's giggles subsided and she leaned back, but she was still smiling. "We never win. Not completely. I know."
"Yeah." Buffy leaned back too, studying Faith out of the corner of her eyes, moving her leg slightly so that their knees touched. "But I still have to fight. And I still want to do other stuff, too."
Faith moved her knee, returning the pressure. Now they were nearly facing each other as they sat on the park bench. "At least with vamps, they just show up and we dust 'em. This cult thing--I'm sorry I freaked. You know I'm horny as hell."
Buffy smirked. "I know."
Faith's eyes darkened, and her grin grew. "I loved having my hand down your pants, B, you were so wet, I coulda just fingered you all night, getting your clit all hard for me. I woulda made you scream. I bet you got yourself off last night just thinkin' about it, hmm?"
Buffy quivered at Faith's words, remembering how long she'd tossed and turned in bed last night before giving in to her arousal. Already she could feel it again, her heart pounding faster at the memory. "Faith, you know we're trying. Giles even tried to turn on his computer. Willow's grounded, but she'll be back at it at school tomorrow..."
Faith's smile deepened. She lifted her leg and placed it over Buffy's thigh, placing her foot in Buffy's crotch. "So what you're saying is there's really nothing we can do tonight," she said, emphasizing her words with a quick press of her foot. "About the kids, I mean."
Buffy closed her eyes and nodded, concentrating on the back-and-forth movement of Faith's foot as she flexed her ankle. "That's right..." she said on a shaky breath.
"We're gonna keep fighting the good fight tomorrow?" Faith said, pressing again. Buffy lifted her hips into the pressure, rubbing her pussy as best she could against Faith's boot, which was now making small circles against the seam of her jeans.
"Fight. Yes. Tomorrow. Faith--"
"All right. And your mom's gonna be pissed."
"Uh-huh," Buffy said, not really paying attention to Faith's words anymore. "But tomorrow."
Faith sighed, and suddenly her boot was gone, and Buffy gasped at the loss. "Then I guess we're going to mine," she said, and she hauled Buffy off the bench and kissed her again, like a promise.
They had found another nest of vampires before they finally made it back to Faith's room. Buffy had slayed her share, getting rid of her frustrations on the undead, which was the healthiest way to do it for a Slayer. Faith looked like she had done the same, fighting hard and coming up laughing from her last kill, her eyes bright with energy. She'd smiled that devil-may-care grin at Buffy and stalked over to her after the last of the vamps was dust. Faith pinned her against a wall, holding her there with nothing more than the strength of her personality and the heat of her body. Faith stared at her until Buffy gave up and kissed her first, swallowing Faith's chuckle and some snarky remark about how irresistable she was.
The thing was, Faith was irresistable. Buffy had tried, since Faith had first come to Sunnydale, to resist her. Straight girl. Boyfriend. Not the kind of person who gets lost in thought just watching her 'good friend' sauntering across a dance floor towards her, like a hunter, with that gleam of lust almost-but-not-quite hidden in her dark eyes. Not the kind of person who stares at her boyfriend and thinks about someone else's lips, someone else's body moving in the strobes at the Bronze.
Buffy had known, from the moment Faith asked her to Homecoming, that she was going to kiss Faith, and never let her go. It had taken her a while to figure out she had to dump Angel and then make the first move, and even longer to get her courage up to do it. But now, now, with Faith's fingers loose around her wrists and her kiss so desperate and hot against her mouth, Buffy knew it had all been worth it. "God, I love you," she panted, and Faith's hands spasmed tight around her wrists for a second.
"Buffy." Faith trapped her lower lip between her teeth and suckled it, teeth nibbling, then let go and plunged back into the kiss. "Buffy. So good..."
The kiss was amazing, like every single time before. Buffy had never known that kisses could be like this, that she could feel so much wrapped up in someone else's arms. She'd had boyfriends before, and dates, and Angel, but none of them were Faith. Everyone else's kisses were cold compared to hers. Faith's lips were always hot, always demanding, but soft and giving at the same time. Buffy had never been the demanding one before, the one who moved first, who asked for more. Faith should have been the one to push her, to want to go further.
But Buffy had never once been so hungry for anyone. She pushed, and instead of giving way, Faith pushed right back. It turned her on so bad, and Buffy whimpered into the kiss, lifting her head to let Faith kiss her neck, turning her face to find Faith's ear with her tongue, sucking on her earlobe and sighing, "Please, yes, Faith. Please, more."
"Let's get back to mine," Faith whispered back, nudging closer before sliding away. Buffy tipped her head back and stared at Faith, feeling like she could barely stand. Feeling drugged, warm and relaxed and floating. Faith's eyes on her felt even better, all that desire concentrated on her, and Buffy reached out for her hand. Their fingers twined together easily as they hurried to Faith's motel.
Buffy leaned on Faith, unable to let her go even long enough for her to open the door, and then they were inside, kissing again, getting tangled together as they fought to get each others' clothes off.
Buffy backed away at last, naked, watching Faith curse at her boots because she'd tried to take off her pants first. Finally, Faith sorted out the problem and looked up. Buffy felt a surge of power go through her when Faith's breath caught in her throat as she stared. "Lie on the bed," she said.
"B..." It was barely a sigh. Faith seemed paralysed, and Buffy could only stare back at her. She wanted to leap on her right away, but she held back, feeling the deep ache in her clit that wanted Faith's fingers, Faith's tongue. Not yet.
"Lie down," she said again, and this time Faith moved, laying down slowly, her black eyes fixed on Buffy in the dimness. Buffy's breathing deepened. She could see the shine of Faith's arousal on her thighs, seeping from her pussy. Her nipples were dark and erect, and her breasts looked so soft that Buffy just wanted to rest on them forever, taste them, take them.
But waiting was sweet, too, watching Faith struggle to stay still, not to touch herself or to tackle Buffy. "Fuck, Buffy," she moaned, but her body did her pleading for her, her muscles tightening beneath her skin as she pressed her legs together, looking for some relief.
Buffy couldn't wait any longer. She crawled onto the bed, straddling Faith but not pressing down, the way her body was clamouring for her to do. She kneeled over Faith, supporting herself on her arms, and leaned in for another kiss. Not touching Faith except for that one point, her lips, devouring her. The world dissolved in that kiss. Buffy made it gentle, teasing, tasting Faith deeply and then moving away.
Every time Faith reached for her, Buffy caught her hands and gently pushed them aside. It was a game of back-and-forth, Faith sneaking her hands up Buffy's sides or between her thighs, and Buffy playfully catching her and placing her hands back above her head, pressing them there briefly to tell Faith to keep them still. She wanted to do this for Faith, to show her how much her love meant to her, to show that nothing--not her mom, not cults or covens or all the demons of the Hellmouth--were going to stand between her and loving Faith.
This was only the third time they'd been together, and everything was so new. Buffy wanted to explore every single inch of Faith's body and find all the tiny places that made her shiver and moan. She moved her mouth over Faith's neck, to her chest, then down her arm, purposefully avoiding all the places Faith wanted her to touch. Buffy found the crease inside Faith's elbow, flicked her tongue over the pulse there, smiling when it jumped under her mouth. She moved lower and drifted her fingertips across Faith's tanned, taut stomach, loving the way the muscles jumped. She swept her hands back and forth, now with fingernails, now palms, then plunged her tongue into Faith's bellybutton. Faith gasped and thrust upwards, moaning. Buffy licked her way around Faith's stomach, every now and then coming close to the neatly waxed curls between Faith's legs, then sliding away, as if on a whim. Her fingernails were now drawing lines up and down the insides of Faith's thighs, as light as feathers, reaching up high enough to feel the wetness coating her legs, then returning to her knees, again and again.
Faith was going crazy, trying to keep still because that's how Buffy wanted it, but she was swearing like a sailor and twitching every time Buffy's mouth or fingers came close, so close, and then, as if by accident, glided away.
"Buffy, shit, B, oh God, fucking do it!"
"Hmm," Buffy answered easily, licking her way up between Faith's breasts, spiraling her tongue in towards Faith's straining nipple, then dipping below it.
"Oh, fuck!" Faith shouted, and buried both her hands in Buffy's hair, twining her fingers around the strands so tight it almost hurt--almost, almost--and pushed Buffy down to where she wanted her. "Fucking eat me, Buffy, or I swear--"
Buffy didn't wait to hear what Faith would swear. She thrust her tongue as deep inside Faith as she could reach, sucking down the sudden gush of liquid. Faith was swollen and wet and hot and oh, so good. Buffy licked her way up to Faith's clit and massaged it with the flat of her tongue, bringing her fingers in to push into Faith's wide-open hole.
Faith gave a breathless moan and jerked off the bed, all her muscles tightening, her thighs holding Buffy in place. "Oh, sweet fuck, that's...yes...fuck me--"
Buffy moved faster, loving the sobbing breaths escaping from Faith's lips, the way her hips moved helplessly to the rhythm Buffy set with her mouth and her fingers. Faith's fingers clenching in her hair told her when she hit a perfect spot. Nothing came close to this, giving Faith pleasure with everything she had in her, sucking and nibbling on Faith's swollen clit and thrusting her fingers harder and faster, doing whatever Faith asked and then more. She nudged Faith's legs higher until they were over her shoulders and she could go deeper. Faith threw back her head and screamed. Her pussy clamped down on Buffy's fingers and her hands spasmed on Buffy's head, holding her in place as she came.
Buffy kept going, until Faith's muscles shivered and went loose, and she collapsed back on the bed, panting. Buffy wiped her face with one hand and slowly drew the other out of Faith, kissing her lightly on the stomach.
"Jesus, B...Buffy." Faith didn't seem able to say anything more than that, but then she spoke again. "Love you so much."
Buffy smiled and snuggled into her side. "'S good?"
Faith rolled her eyes and half-laughed, still breathless. "You kidding me? That's one of those things worth saving the world for. Those kids. Their parents. Great head."
Buffy stiffened. "Their parents."
Faith frowned, confused. "Hey, you made the list. Top three reasons for fighting the good fight."
"No. Faith." Buffy sat up and started throwing her clothes on. "Their parents!"
"What about 'em?" Faith leaned on one elbow, watching her. "Don't tell me you're going already?"
"Come on, get dressed." Buffy tossed Faith's pants at her head. "What do we really know about these kids, Faith? Nothing! Where'd the pictures come from? What are their names, for God's sake?"
"It never came up," Faith said, understanding dawning on her face. "Not once."
"We've got to talk to Giles," Buffy said.
"Okay, but then, I'm gonna show you what's worth fighting for." Faith grinned and pulled on her clothes.