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  PART 6

Buffy couldn't sleep: and it wasn't because of the unrelentless heat which seemed to penetrate every inch of her body, despite the air conditioning. She glanced at her clock, and the digitally illuminated numbers read 3.05...3.06...3.10

She buried her head beneath her pillow and groaned. Less than six hours until her Spanish final... But school was the last thing on her mind. She had died today. Again. At the hands of an old and an ALREADY slayed foe. And Faith had kissed her... Why was this bothering her so much? Ok, so Faith had a thing for her, but she DEFINITELY didn't reciprocate...

Buffy lay staring at the ceiling for another half hour. The clock read 3.45. Tossing Mr Gordo across the room in frustration, she clambered out of bed. Maybe a walk would do her good...she might even manage an extra curricular slay if she was lucky. Throwing on a pair of denim cutoffs and a red tank top, she slipped into a pair of Nike's and climbed out the window.

Buffy strolled through the various cemeteries, stake at the ready. Unfortunately, everyone else, including the undead, seemed to be asleep. She made her way through downtown Sunnydale, past the cinema and the Espresso Pump...And then she was outside Faith's motel, outside her room, knocking on her door...

Buffy had no idea what she was doing; why she was standing outside Faith's room at 4 in the morning banging to be let in. She knocked, trepidatiously at first, and louder when there was no response. The door was slightly ajar, so she swung it open. 'What the fuck am I doing?'

A form, barely visible but for the light provided by an outside streetlight, lay still on the bed. Buffy edged her way towards it slowly. Dark hair contrasted against the stark white of the sheets. She lay, on her stomach, sheets lightly draping her lower body. As Buffy's eyes gradually adjusted to the dark, they were drawn to a tattoo. A red heart, bearing an inscription. Buffy drew nearer, tiptoeing so as not to awaken the sleeping figure. She leaned closer so as to make out the word. It was a name...it was HER name.


"Can I help you?" The ticket attendant didn't look up from her newspaper when Faith approached.

"Next bus out of here. One way."

"Next bus leaves Sunnydale for Philadelphia at 7.05am. That will be $32 even."

"You're shitting me!" The attendant looked up from her paper and glared at Faith.

"I don't set the prices."

"No, I mean, there's no bus before then?"

"I don't write the timetables either. Next bus is 7.05am - $32."

Faith swore and handed over the money, glancing at the clock above the ticket attendant. 12.06am. Tossing her bag over her shoulder, she glanced around the station. A single, empty vending machine, and several benches inhabited by various drunks, made for a less than appealing place to wile away the hours. 'Fuck it' she thought, 'I might as well head back to the hotel for a few hours kip.'


Buffy stared at the tattoo bearing her name. Faith's tattoo. A tattoo, on Faith's body, displaying HER name. She reached out to touch it...to see if it was real. With a shaking hand, she traced the image lightly. Definitely real.

Faith awoke with a jolt. A sudden gasp told her that she was not alone in the room. Cursing the dark, she tried to focus on the figure before her. Her sheet slipped from her body as she reached beneath her pillow for a stake. "I suggest you talk unless you want this embedded in you permanently." Faith squinted against the dark.

"Faith...it's me..."

"B?" Faith's eyes were adjusting slowly, and she could make out the slight form of the blonde. "What are you doing here?"

"I..." Buffy was at a loss for words. Faith sat upright in bed, her sheets forgotten on the floor. She was naked but for a pair of black underwear. Buffy swallowed, afraid to speak. She couldn't deny the sensation developing in the pit of her stomach, or the flush that was sweeping her body. The room suddenly seemed a hell of a lot hotter.

Faith waited for Buffy's reply. The other girl stood, unmoving, mouth agape. A not unwelcome scenario, for Faith had envisioned this a hundred times...but she knew Buffy wasn't interested. She had demonstrated as much when Faith kissed her...Nevertheless, Faith felt her breathing deepen. Buffy's cutoffs exposed tanned, slim thighs and her tank top, wet from the heat, clung to her breasts...

"B," Faith managed, "I asked what you're doing here."

"I...I don't know." Was Faith imagining it, or was Buffy having as much trouble breathing as she was?

"Buffy..." and then the blonde was beside her, reaching for her face, caressing it. Their eyes locked, and Buffy's lips were descending towards her. Softly, they kissed, almost experimentally. Buffy's eyes closed, as she allowed her tongue to slide against Faith's. And then the kiss deepened, and Faith found herself straddled beneath Buffy. Her head met the headboard with a thud, but she felt nothing except the feel of Buffy's lips against her own.

Buffy knew that this was wrong. She didn't like girls...but why did it feel so damn right? Faith's body was naked beneath her, and she wanted nothing more than to remove her own clothes and feel the contact of bare flesh against bare flesh. But what the hell was she doing? She wasn't gay...she couldn't do this.

Buffy pulled away from Faith with a start. Faith was panting, and she reached to pull the blonde back on top of her, but Buffy shrugged her away.

"Faith...I can't...I don't know..."

"What the hell do you mean 'you don't know?!"

"I...I have to think about this."

Faith climbed out of the bed, and grabbed Buffy by the shoulders. "What's there to think about, B? Fuck knows I want you, and I just got the impression that you wanted me. What's the problem?"

Buffy could feel herself melting beneath Faith's touch. Her naked breasts were heaving against her own, erect nipples belaying exactly HOW much she wanted Buffy.

"Faith...I have to go... We'll talk tomorrow."

Faith dropped her arms from around Buffy. "I won't be here tomorrow, B."


"Don't fuck me around, B. I'm not sitting here like a fucking love sick puppy while you decide if 'gay is in.' If you leave this room, I won't be here when you get back."

"Faith, please...I'll come by straight after school...I'm just confused. I have my finals, I need to finish them and then..."

"Finals, B?" I couldn't have put it better myself. Faith slammed the door behind her, and for the second time in as many days, Buffy found herself alone on the doorstep of number 49 Sunnydale Inn.



The sound was almost rythymic. Thirty pencils scribbling hurriedly on rapidly filling test sheets. Buffy's was blank, but for her name: Summers, Buffy Anne.

She clutched her head to her hands, ignoring Willow who was attempting to mouth her concern from two rows over. Xander chewed his pencil, brow creased with confusion. Cordelia was absently applying lip gloss while gazing out the window.

The clock above the blackboard ticked audibly, almost synonymous with the sounds within the classroom: coughing, creaking chairs, tapping fingernails... It was deafening. Buffy leapt from her chair, oblivious to the surprised expressions of the students around her. She ran from the room, continuing until she had exited the High School. Once outside, she fell to the ground. Only then did she allow herself to cry.


Faith knew that it was hopeless, yet she gazed towards the entrance one last time. Nothing. Despondently, she boarded the bus, shoving her bag into the overhead compartment. She allowed herself to sink into her seat, closing her eyes as she did. So this was her life. Running from a little blonde bitch because she had allowed herself to feel. Well fuck that. The sooner she got the hell out of dodge the better. In her heart of hearts she had known that Buffy wouldn't show, yet she had clung to that last thread of hope... Well no more. The old Faith was back, of that she was resolute.

"Anyone sitting here?"

Faith looked up. Before her stood Angelina Jolie circa 'Girl;Interrupted', albeit with a shock of purple hair. Granted, she was not the ACTUAL Angelina Jolie, but she did a hell of an impression. Faith grinned at the girl widely, nodding by way of invitation. The girl sat, flinging long sunkissed legs over the seat in front of her. She blew a bubble, also purple, popped it and returned the gum to her mouth. Returning Faith's grin, she reached into her backpack and produced a walkman.

"Want an ear?" Faith nodded, still grinning as the sound of an unfamiliar Drum and Bass tune assaulted her eardrum. Fuck yeah, the old Faith was back and there was no better place to start.

She didn't hear her name being shouted as the bus departed the station. Nor did she see the blonde slump dejectedly to the ground as she closed her eyes and gave herself to the music. No looking back.


"What the hell happened in there?" Xander filed behind Willow as they handed their test sheets to the teacher.

Willow shook her head and gazed sadly at her friend. "I don't know Xander, but something's up. Buffy hasn't been herself for days, and I don't think it's just because of the master."

Cordelia elbowed her way between the two of them. "Are we talking about she of the supreme weirdness? Aka the chosen one, vampire slayer and/or 'get the hell over it, you like girls'."

Willow and Xander exchanged confused glances. Cordelia rolled her eyes and sighed. "For people who claim to be Buffy's best friends, you two are incredibly lacking in the 'having a clue' department."

And again, an exchange of glances.

"Christ! No wonder you two were single for so long. The condensed version: Faith wants Buffy. Buffy thinks 'Eeew'. Faith tries it on with Buffy, Buffy freaks, but we all know she's just fooling herself. She wants a roll as much as Faith does."

Willow stuttered and blushed profusely while Xander, for want of a large solid object, crossed his legs and thought of his Uncle Rory naked.


"So, what does 'Buffy' mean?" Taz (as Faith had learned was purple girl's name) traced Faith's tattoo with purple tipped fingernails.

Faith hesitated. "Nothing important."

Taz laughed sadly, a light melodic sound which Faith found appealing. Even more appealing was when she hitched up her skirt to reveal a tattoo of her own.

"Let me guess, big love lost?" Taz enquired. Her tattoo was, unsurprisingly, purple. A small butterfly on her thigh, beneath which was etched 'Taz and Jaime.' "It fucks you up, doesn't it." Taz's voice had lost its upbeat tone as she stared at the inscription.

Faith's eyes clouded, and she turned to stare out the window not wanting Taz to see her reaction. She felt a hand on her shoulder, and she turned. Taz's tear filled eyes mirrored her own. "Yeah, it fucks you up..." Purple lips met scarlet, as miles of deserted landscape passed, unwatched.


Buffy allowed her answering machine to screen her calls: Willow, Willow, Xander, Willow...

Outside, the mid-afternoon sky was bright. She wondered where Faith was now, what she was thinking... Clutching Mr Gordo to her, she fell into a fitful sleep...


Faith lay on her stomach, head resting on her arms. Taz sat on the brunette's back, tracing her tattoo with gentle fingers.

"Tell me about her."

Faith stiffened. "Who?"

"She of the 'name permanently inscribed on your back' fame."

"Nothin' to say." Faith avoided Taz's gaze, and instead stared at the headboard before her. Regulation motel: cheap wood bearing excessive carvings - 'Jack fuked Mandy here prom nite '98.' Learn to spell Jack.

"Fair enough, I'll go first."

Faith continued to stare at the headboard. The J in Jack looked more like a G.

"Faith, look at me." Faith felt Taz's hand on her shoulder, saw the startling mauve of her fingernails.

"Look Taz, I'm not one for sharing. More of an introspective let it simmer and then kick some ass kinda gal."

Taz fell silent, and Faith turned to find the girl smiling sadly, eyes wide with unshed tears, stroking the tattoo on her thigh.

"Shit Taz, I'm sorry, I didn't mean..."

Taz stood abruptly, sliding a motel robe over her naked form. "We met when I moved to Oregon... Dad got transferred from New York and I was sent to Bible bashers 'R Us Catholic school, for nuns in training. Half an hour into my first class I was sent to the principal's office." Taz laughed and gestured towards her hair. "That's where we first met. She was waiting outside trying to fix a purple plaster over her nose ring...

"So, we figured that we had purple in common, and an innate knack for pissing off those of the cloth. By our second month of junior year, we had set fire to Sister Nualas habit after a wayward flicking of cigarette incident, and alienated most of the other students after dying the church's holy water purple. Man, that shit stains skin for at least a week..." Taz grinned, displaying perfect white teeth heavily contrasted against the lilac of her lips.

"I always knew that I loved her. I can't count the times that I went to kiss her and chickened out...didn't think she'd be into it."

Taz bit her lip, willing away the impending tears.

"Anyway, I managed to scrape enough credit together to graduate. We both turned up for the ceremony in purple gowns, she even dyed her hair purple for the occasion. Sister Nuala nearly had a coronary when we went up to accept our diplomas, and Jaime gave her a full on kiss on the lips. It was classic." Faith's smile mirrored that of Taz.

"She was all set to go to college in the autumn. I, on the other hand, planned on arseing around for a good three years before settling into the rewarding vocation of bag packer at Walmart.

"The summer seemed to fly by, we were planning a road trip to the Grand Canyon. She always wanted to go there. Said she wanted to sing there, hear her voice echo for miles and miles... But she was too busy planning for college - Man, she was so excited - picking out all her dorm room shit and choosing her classes... I knew I had to do something."

Taz paused, fishing in her bag for a cigarette. Faith stared at her intently as she lit up, soiling the filter with purple lipstick. Taz inhaled deeply before continuing:

"She went to visit her college one day, to check stuff out... so I went to the local shithole, got rat arsed, and procured this." Taz moved her robe aside to reveal the butterfly tattoo.

"Christ does that sound familiar." Faith lamented, sparking up a cigarette of her own.

"I managed to climb up her trellis, and I was waiting in her bedroom when she got home. I showed her the tat, and I lunged at her; I mean hands and tongue EVERYWHERE." To Faith's surprise, Taz blushed slightly. "Given the amount of romantic scenarios I had envisioned over the years, this was not one of them. Anyway, she freaked. Asked me what the fuck I was playing at - told me to go home and sober up, and she'd call me in the morning.

"So, I went home... packed all my crap into a bag and legged it. Any of this ringing a bell?"

Faith didn't respond, instead she drew from the remnants of her cigarette before stabbing it out on the bedside table.

Taz continued: "So I fucked around for a year. Shit, I must know every Greyhound route there is. I wallowed, blamed everyone else... My sister managed to contact me in Memphis. I'd been there for a while, temping at as a secretary... she said Jaime was sick and I had to come home."

Taz closed her eyes. "She looked so different. Tiny, and... afraid. She had lost her hair... it was beautiful before, blonde and long. Always shiny." Taz cradled her head in her hands, flinching when Faith touched her.

"She asked me why I had run away, told me that she loved me back, but she had just been confused. And she kissed me, right there in the hospital room while everyone waited outside.

"I stayed with her, made the nurses set up a camp bed right there in the room. It was like I'd never gone; we laughed, took the piss out of old teachers and students, held hands and kissed."

Taz looked up, gazing directly at Faith. "We're going to the Grand Canyon now." She reached into her bag, removing a purple container. "I'll have to sing for her... I tried to get out of it, but she made me promise." For the first time that night, Taz laughed. "I could never say no to someone with a bod like that."

Faith embraced the girl, allowing her to sob against her.

"Faith, you know this story has a moral, don't you."

Faith said nothing, clutching the girl to her.


"Buffy, I know you're in there! Open the damn door!"

Buffy buried her head in the pillow, covering her ears in an effort to drown out Cordelia's voice.

"Fine... You've given me no choice. I'm climbing the tree, but I swear to God Buffy, if I break a heel on my new Jimmy Choo's, you're buying me a new pair..."

Sighing, Buffy crawled out of bed, and swung her bedroom window open. Cordelia glared at her from below.

"About time. You know, if you're trying to avoid people, you should really try to act more inconspicuous...like, closing your curtains so people can't see you walking around."

"What do you want Cordelia?"

Cordelia tapped her foot impatiently. "Are you going to let me in or do I really have to climb the tree?!"

Buffy shook her head despairingly. "Fine, wait there. I don't think Mom has enough insurance to re-clothe you."


Cordelia barreled into the house, striding past Buffy, who sighed, running a hand through tangled hair. Cordelia surveyed the slayer, and rolled her eyes. Buffy, wearing a sesame street t-shirt and the first pair of tracksuit bottoms ever made, looked as though she had spent the best part of a week in bed.

"Cordelia, what do you want?"

"Well, lets see... Vamps are up by about 110% because the slayer has become a recluse AND Willow and Xander are boring me to tears with their incessant 'what's wrong with Buffy' babble."

Buffy stared at her feet and said nothing.

"Jesus Buffy, will you just go find her already!"

"Find who?..."

"Missy, the cheerleading chick from 'Bring it on.'- Who the hell do you think?!"

Buffy trailed her toe across the corner of the rug, hesitating before meeting Cordelia's glare of exasperation.


"Look Buffy, I'm not going to prompt you. Busy day and all. Unless you want to alienate everyone, be responsible for countless deaths at the hands of the undead and slowly go crazy while accumulating every cat in the Southern California region, I suggest you go find her and tell her how you feel."

Buffy opened her mouth to protest, but decided against it after receiving the wrath of Cordelia's glare. The brunette reached inside her denim jacket, retrieving an envelope and handing it to Buffy.

"First class all the way to Philly. The return ones are open."

Confused, Buffy sliced the envelope apart with a fingernail, and inspected its contents. Three tickets for Delta airlines. The first, one way, destination Philadelphia. The remaining tickets were returns. Two tickets... so she wouldn't have to return alone.


"Well, that's me all packed. A whole life rammed into a piece of shit rucksack." Taz swung the aforementioned bag over her shoulder, its straps becoming entangled in her purple locks. Cursing audibly, she disentangled herself from the unwelcome constraints, and turned to grin at Faith. "Wish I could do something about all this fucking hair, but Jaime loved it, so..."

"Stay." Faith interrupted suddenly. "One more night I mean... it's late and dark and shit, and I bet there won't be a bus for hours... But if you wanna go that's cool too, y'know, whatever." Faith cringed and mentally staked herself repeatedly.

Taz regarded the brunette for a moment, before dropping her rucksack to the ground and grinning broadly. "Fuckit, might as well flake for another few hours, I mean the Grand C isn't going anywhere, is it?" The relief in Faith's eyes was almost audible. She was lonely. Shit, hadn't Taz been there not long before?

"I was about to mill into some J.D if you're up for it?" Faith reached under the bed, dragging out a full bottle of Jack Daniels.

"Hell yeah," Taz leapt onto the bed beside Faith, embracing the slayer in a bear hug.


Buffy hated flying. To be honest, it scared the crap out of her. To make matters worse, she was seated between a similarly minded middle aged man and a frat boy, who leered unashamedly at her chest as she tightened her seatbelt.

The plane was rolling at a leisurely pace down the runway. Buffy knew the score. In a few minutes, the engines would blast into action and they would propel down the runway at a speed that was very unnatural and very, very wrong. Beside her, the middle aged man voiced her thoughts, albeit, with religious overtones. Frat boy had somehow managed to snake his hand over her own white fisted one. She absently shoved it aside and returned to her list of flamy death scenarios.

The engines gunned, and they were off... ascending now... Buffy clutched the hand rest, crushing the metal beneath her fingers. Fuck, fuck, FUCK!

3 hours and 35 minutes were spent with eyes squeezed shut. Sadly, the handrests of seat f, aisle 47, were never the same again.


Faith had produced another bottle of J.D, and she and Taz were currently making quick work of a nagan of Apple Schnapps. An unlit cigarette hung from Faith's moist lips, as she clumsily searched for a lighter amid the clothing that lay scattered beneath her.

"Wheresh the fuckin' light?" Faith drawled, falling against a giggling Taz. "Y'know, I bet Buffy B's never had a smoke in her life. Or a good fuck." Faith hiccupped in conclusion, before rolling off Taz and landing in an ungraceful heap on the floor.

Still giggling, Taz hung her head over the side of the bed and stared at the motionless brunette. "Faith? Faith, you alright?"

Faith's eyelids flickered slightly, and she gazed up at Taz without recognition. "Shit B, you look well fucking weird. Whenja dye your hair purple?"

"Come on Faith, time for beddie byes. You can look forward to one bastard of a hangover tomorrow though. Damn, you must have drank at least ¾ of those bottles of J.D. That's some metabolism you got going for ya." Taz offered an unsteady hand to Faith. Faith ignored the procured hand, continuing to study Taz with interest.

"Come on Faith, help me out here." Taz extended her hand further, succeeding only in rolling off the bed herself and landing atop Faith. "Ow, shit!" She giggled again, but was silenced by Faith's hand, gently grazing her face.

"I loved ya B. I'd never loved anyone or anything 'til I met you. This face, I see it all the time. All the fucking time... But it's not gonna happen, is it?" Faith smiled sadly, tears clouding her vision. Taz clambered, awkwardly from the brunette, her feet unsteady beneath her.

"You're fuckin' hammered Faith. Get some sleep and we'll talk about Buffy tomorrow." But Faith was already asleep, snoring gently as a tear cascaded down her face.


'Way to think this through' Buffy chastised herself, as she crossed through the arrival's terminal. Ok, so Faith had taken the Greyhound to Philadelphia, but what was to say she was still here? And, if by some miracle she was still here, where the fuck was she EXACTLY?

Flagging a taxi, Buffy cursed herself for the hundredth time. Process of elimination. She vaguely recalled some Sherlock Holmes flick she had seen years ago. What was it he said? Eliminate all possibilities and then.... A proverbial bulb illuminated above her head, and Buffy directed the driver to the Greyhound bus terminal. Faith generally made the cheapest of motels her temporary abode, so might as well start from her arrival point and work from there. Sighing, Buffy leaned against the leather of her seat and stared vacantly out the window.


The gentle rapping on the door awoke Taz with a start. Having eventually managed to drag a disgruntled Faith into the bed beside her, the brunette seemed oblivious to their early morning visitor.

"Faith..." Taz shook the slayer, receiving only a succession of mumbled profanities.

'Fuck this.' Taz padded from the bed, uncaring as to her semi-clad state. Her head throbbed, and she squinted against the dawn light streaming through the uncurtained window. Outside, the visitor knocked again.

"Jesus, I'm coming, will you relax!"

"Taz?" A semi-alive Faith rubbed her eyes and groaned.

Taz swung the door open with annoyance. Before her stood a petite yet striking blonde. Despite the early morning intrusion, and the presence of the definitive hangover from hell, Taz grinned at the girl. The blonde appraised her silently, apologetically.

"Who the fuck is it at this goddamn hour?" A bleary eyed Faith ambled behind Taz, adjusting to the sunlight.

All three stared silently. The blonde's eyes widened, her bronzed face paling as she stared from Taz to Faith. With apparent realisation, she edged backwards, omitting an almost silent "Oh."

"B?" Faith was wide awake, hangover forgotten.

Another "Oh," and the blonde was running.

"Buffy!" Faith was tearing after her, barefoot and dressed only in an underwear and bra. An early morning trucker, unloading his wares, paused to watch the scene, a leering grin playing on his lips.

"Buffy?" And for the third time in as many minutes, Taz offered an "Oh."



Cordelia sauntered into the library, absently blowing a strand of hair from her eyes. Her gaze settled upon Giles, who was frantically cleaning his glasses while pacing the floor.

"So neither of you spoke to her recently?" Xander and Willow, both white faced, shook their heads in unison.

Giles closed his eyes and rubbed his forehead, as though trying to elicit information. "Her mother says that only the basic essentials are missing; toothbrush, hair supplies, shampoo.... She left no message. Nothing to indicate where she was going, or the purpose of her travels..."

"Kidnapping demon who believes in maintaining his victims personal hygiene?" Cordelia offered, settling into an empty chair.

"Buffy's missing." Willow looked close to tears. "We think she's run away again."

Cordelia dismissed this with a wave of her hand. "Buffy? No, she's in Philadelphia. She'll be back in a few days."

Cordelia removed a compact from her purse, and inspected her lipstick, unaware that three sets of eyes were fixed upon her.

"Errrr, Cordelia?!..." Xander, eyebrows raised, broke the extended silence.

Cordelia finished applying her lip gloss, rubbed her lips together and acknowledged her boyfriend. "What?"

"Buffy's WHERE?!!"

Cordelia sighed, shaking her head in disbelief. "Christ, how do you people battle the big evil when you're all COMPLETELY devoid of everything the clue department has to offer?!"

Willow blinked. Giles returned his glasses to their rightful position. Xander's brows remained furrowed.

"This is the LAST time I tell you this. Faith loves Buffy. Buffy finds out. Buffy's all confused, but we all know that she really digs girls." Three sets of jaws dropped in horror. "To rephrase, everyone else knows but you idiots, who, by the way, I can recall telling much of this story to REPEATEDLY!"

"Buffy's...gay?" Willow managed to stammer, her face turning a violent shade of red.

"Christ Almighty, give me strength... ANYWAY, Buffy rejects Faith. Faith runs off to Philadelphia. Buffy realises that she DOES in fact like Faith, so she goes to tell her. And that's the story so far."

After a moments silence, Giles muttered something unintelligible, concluding with an audible "tea!", before heading towards his office, closing the door behind him.

Willow and Xander remained immobile and open-mouthed.

Cordelia fluffed her hair, rolled her eyes and strutted out of the library.


Buffy blinked furiously in an effort to abate the threat of tears. A giant apple settled in her throat, and she swallowed, to no avail. Behind her, Faith was calling her name, and she hesitated for a moment before continuing on.

"B!" Noting Buffy's hesitation, Faith sped up, grabbing the blonde's shoulder and swinging her around with unintended force. Buffy teetered momentarily, before regaining her balance and swinging at Faith, fist connecting with nose. Faith's eyes watered as blood descended from the point of impact, but she didn't retaliate. Wiping her lips of blood, she stared imploringly at Buffy, who returned her gaze with a ferocity that Faith didn't recognise.


"Fuck you, Faith." Buffy's voice was low. Emotionless.

"B, that back there, Taz... It was nothing B..."

Buffy laughed sardonically. "She has a name? Thought your fucks were faceless jokes Faith. Is that what you wanted me to be? Another notch on the bedpost? A hilarious memory to conjure?....how you corrupted Buffy Summers."

Faith reddened and she balled her fists, her nails cutting into her palm. "You know that's crap B. You know you're different...Dammit B, you know I....."

"What Faith!?" Buffy watched the blood trickle down Faith's chin, watched as it dripped onto her chest, disappearing into her cleavage. Despite herself, her gaze remained momentarily on this focal point.

Faith stifled the urge to draw attention to Buffy's transfixion. Not the time, and definitely not the place. Faith became aware of the early morning commuters who stared unabashedly at her near naked form, spoiled only by the continuous stream of blood covering her lower face and chest.

Buffy averted her gaze, and locked eyes with Faith. "What do I know Faith?! I know that you gave me an ultimatum and fucked off when you didn't get the answer you wanted. I know that you found yourself a purple haired slut not ten minutes later. I know that you couldn't give a damn about anyone but yourself. And most of all, I know that you really couldn't give a damn about me....otherwise you wouldn't have left."

Faith watched in stunned silence as Buffy's face crumpled, tears falling readily from large green eyes. Ignoring the bemused pedestrians, she reached for the blonde slowly, running a thumb gently across her tear stained face. Buffy stiffened, before shoving Faith's arm aside.

"Goodbye Faith." Buffy turned, walking slowly from the staggered brunette. Faith stood motionless, wanting to tell her, but....afraid.

"Don't fuck this up." Taz was behind her, purple hair tied in an untidy bun, rucksack hanging from her shoulders. "Don't let her get away." Faith watched as Buffy turned a corner, disappearing from sight. "Here, take this." Taz removed her denim jacket and handed it to Faith. "You'll want to leave something to the imagination. Plus, I think that old dude over there is about to have a heart attack." Faith smiled at Taz, slipping the jacket over her arms.

"Thanks Taz. For everything, I mean."

Taz shrugged modestly. "Hey, I'll send you a postcard from the Canyon."

With a final grin, Taz shoved Faith gently. "Go on then!" It was all the encouragement Faith needed.


A gentle hand on her shoulder. A near silent whisper. "B.."

Buffy stopped, and turned. "Faith, I told you...."

"Please B... you were right, almost everything you said was spot on. I left because I didn't get the answer I wanted. I went out and fucked the first person I met. Before I met you, I didn't give a shit about anyone, especially not myself. But you were also very wrong..."

Faith's nose had stopped bleeding, and she wiped the sleeve of her jacket against her face. She didn't think Taz would mind. Shit, it was her jacket now. Buffy's eyes widened with disgust, causing Faith to grin.

"See B, it's stuff like that. I know your every expression, every line on your face. That's the look you give me when I do stupid shit like licking the bottom of the bowl or walking through my motel room with dog shit all over my boots. I know before you do when you're pissed off, or when you're gonna laugh. Christ B, that's why you're so wrong. There's no one I care about more than you...."

Buffy placed a silencing finger on Faith's lips, brushing the brunette's hair behind her ear with her free hand. Slowly, she edged towards Faith, her heavy breathing a stark contrast to Faith's complete lack of. Pink lips met red, a tentative peck. Faith enveloped Buffy, dragging the blonde against her, running hands through tangled hair. Buffy reciprocated, lacing her arms through Faith's, allowing her fingers to explore the patterned muscles of Faith's back. Tongues duelled greedily, all senses on alert. When at last Faith reluctantly pulled away, Buffy was shivering.

"You cold?" She enquired, draping her arms around the smaller girl.

"Not anymore." Buffy leaned her head against Faith's chest, allowing the brunette to savour the vanilla scent of her shampoo.

"But..." Buffy noted, tugging at Faith's bloodied sleeve, "it looks like bath time for someone."

"If it's of the sponge variety, I'm in." Faith chuckled, noting Buffy's expression. "See B, right there, that's your 'Faith, that's inappropriate' glare."

Buffy punched Faith lightly on the arm, smiling despite herself.

Faith feigned pain, unravelling her arms from around Buffy. "Shit B, you give me a bloody nose and a dead arm, yet I still love you."

Buffy stopped in her tracks, mouth agape. She opened her mouth to respond, but this time it was she who was silenced by Faith. "Don't answer that B... Not yet anyway." A solitary kiss, and Faith entwined Buffy's fingers with her own. They walked back to the motel, sharing a comfortable silence.


Cordelia pinched her nose, attempting to alleviate the beginnings of a migraine. Despite the subtle strummings of the guitar based band, her head was starting to throb like a bastard.

"Buffy...." Xander shook his head in disbelief.

"and Faith.." Willow finished, her expression uncomprehending.

Cordelia stared at the two through bleary eyes, glancing at Giles who nursed a lukewarm cup of tea. His response was to blush profusely.

"So....Buffy's really gay then?" Willow looked at Cordelia for confirmation.

Cordelia clutched her head in her hands and sighed. "No, actually, I made it all up. Buffy's really on a 'discover yourself' retreat in the Andes, and Faith's gone to Idaho to cultivate wheat."

"...retreat?" Xander echoed, his confusion intensifying.

"Fucking RETARDS!" Cordelia grabbed her handbag and stormed out of the Bronze, leaving a perplexed Scooby gang staring after her.

The End


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